The Corner

Pelosi’s Secret ‘Anti-Terror’ Strategy

No it has nothing to do with al-Qaeda, but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) told a group of liberal bloggers Thursday that she has super-secret plan to combat the GOP’s “hostage-taking” mentality and prevent a repeat of the debt limit debate, during which Republicans got basically everything they wanted by “acting like terrorists”:

Without disclosing details, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) says she has a plan for dealing with the Republicans’ legislative hostage-taking strategy. In a meeting with a small group of reporters in her office Thursday morning, she said the dynamics of the debt limit fight — where Democrats were forced to accept deep cuts to government programs on the threat of default — will not happen again.

“Suffice to say that you won’t see a repetition of what happened last week, taking us to the last minute when they didn’t even have the votes — they didn’t even have the votes — and then saying to us ‘You will be responsible for a default,” Pelosi said in response to a question from TPM.

Pelosi was reluctant to spell out just how she would stave off this situation, however. “I would say that if I were to tell you…it would be defanged,” she said, after being pressed for details. “In terms of what we — how we would approach where they go from here. And that may be a House Democratic position…. Our members were very unhappy about that vote the other day. Very unhappy.”

“[W]e wouldn’t let our country default,” Pelosi said. “But I’ll say it this way to you. A default is a much more serious consequence than a shutdown of government for a few days.”

“Expect us to be more visible in terms of what we say here and how we mobilize out side to make sure the Republicans know the risk of taking us to the brink,” she added, when asked to provide more details. “It’s to make it a completely unacceptable place for the Republicans to go because it will have public consequence.”

It would seem that Pelosi is suggesting that House Democratic leaders plan to aggressively whip their caucus against any negotiated compromise that they find disagreeable, thus putting pressure on House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) to pass future spending deals with only Republican votes, which has proved a rather difficult task. Furthermore, she indicates that Democrats would be willing to suffer the consequences of their actions (e.g. a temporary government shutdown). It’s hard to believe they would realistically be able to pull this off, especially if it would mean giving President Obama the cold shoulder. But it’s possible to see how House Democrats could become a complicating factor once the congressional super-committee is formed and in the event that it puts forward a deficit reduction plan that would need the approval of both houses of congress to be enacted.

The same can be said of Senate Democrats. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) told National Review Online that Republicans would not appoint anyone the the 12-member committee who would support tax increases of any kind. Naturally, this makes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) sad. Just moments after the final debt-ceiling bill was passed in the Senate, Reid took to the floor and insisted that the super-committee put forward a plan that includes tax hikes. If not, he threatened, the fail-safe triggers outlined in the plan would be activated, meaning deep cuts to the national defense budget.

And apparently, national defense isn’t so much of a Democratic priority these days. Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.), a senior member on the Senate Budget Committee, predicted Democrats would have significant leverage going forward that would allow them to press for higher taxes, which he called “the number one priority,” and suffer relatively few consequences if the triggers are activated. “Those of us who are for revenue I think are in a pretty strong position because we’re not too concerned, as we were with the debt ceiling, that if we don’t reach an agreement it will be devastating to our priorities,” he said.

Reid went one step further, suggesting that Democrats could decide to abandon the super-committee process altogether. “What does that leave the committee to do?” Reid told Politico in response to the GOP’s refusal to consider tax increases. “Should Pelosi and I just not appoint and walk away?”

Should make for an interesting fall in Washington.

Andrew StilesAndrew Stiles is a political reporter for National Review Online. He previously worked at the Washington Free Beacon, and was an intern at The Hill newspaper. Stiles is a 2009 ...


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