Saturday Morning Open Thread: Nancy Pelosi, Warhorse


*This* bullshit, again. Jonathan Chait, at NYMag, “Nancy Pelosi Is Good at Her Job and She Should Keep It”

Would a different Democratic leader prove less of a liability? Probably for a while, yes. Republicans have spent years building up Pelosi as a hate figure, and a newer and less familiar Democratic leader would take longer for Republicans to promote as a target of fear and loathing. It’s also possible that a Democrat who was either from a less famously progressive locale than San Francisco, or not female, would be less threatening to some socially conservative voters. (The latter point is the most fraught: Do Democrats really want to let irrational fear of powerful women dictate their choice of leaders?) It is true, though, that deposing Pelosi would have at least a temporary messaging benefit in some tough districts this fall.

But the cost of throwing Pelosi over the side would be high. She has been an extraordinarily effective caucus leader. When Democrats last held the majority, she shepherded into law the most aggressive spate of liberal reforms since the Great Society: an $800 billion fiscal stimulus, health-care reform, Dodd-Frank….

Pelosi’s Democratic critics include both the left and right flanks of the party (which is itself a sign that she occupies its center). Attacks on her leadership try to simultaneously attack her as too moderate and too liberal, in an attempt to cobble together both irreconcilable strands. In part to cover up the incoherence of the criticism, the complaint is often expressed in vague generational terms. She is too old, and ought to give way to the new generation. (Whether this new generation will be more moderate or more liberal is a question that can be filled in as one desires.)

Yet there is zero sign Pelosi’s age has impeded her work. She has not lost her persuasive talents: Pelosi effectively rallied the party to unanimously oppose the Trump tax cuts. If some Democrats had supported the measure, Republicans could have touted its bipartisan nature, which would in turn help reduce its unpopularity. Instead the health care and tax cuts have been a millstone around Republican necks. (Republicans initially tried attacking Conor Lamb for opposing the tax cuts, but abandoned that message, a telling concession in a heavily Republican district.) Last month, Pelosi delivered an eight-hour speech defending the Dreamers, standing the entire time, in heels, without a break, a feat of stamina I could not have matched at any point in my life. It may have been a stunt to display her vitality, but it was a convincing one.

Replacing Pelosi as leader would create the ephemeral benefit of forcing Republicans to rotate in a new cast of villains to star in their attack ads — MS-13? hippies? antifa? — until they could build up the name-ID for her successor. It would bring the significant downside of firing an elected official who is extremely good at her extremely important job.

Saturday Morning Open Thread: Nancy STILETTO, Too

Readership capture. Dana Houle, in the Washington Post, “Nancy Pelosi is incredibly underrated”:

Pelosi has never tried, as Ryan did, to seduce the press, and what she says in public is occasionally convoluted. Her strength is in what she does away from the microphones.

Growing up in a political family, Pelosi learned to balance competing demands, get people enough of what they needed for them to feel satisfied, to keep track of who crossed you, who helped you, and whom to call on to return favors. And she learned to listen and ensure that people know they are heard. Pelosi draws on this experience while serving both her constituencies: San Franciscans, and the Democratic members of Congress she has led since 2003.

Pelosi is a master vote counter — and more than most 20th-century congressional leaders, she has to be. Majorities are narrower, and to pass partisan legislation, or keep a unified opposition, leaders cannot afford to have many members voting against their caucus. When Democrats have been in the minority, she has kept her representatives in check, even as Ryan and his predecessors have had to pull bills from the House floor because they got the whip count wrong.

And when Democrats were in the majority, Pelosi amassed a record that’s all the more impressive given her unpopularity nationally. In 2008, despite favorability ratings around 30 percent and attacks from the left for not defunding the Iraq War, Pelosi led House Democrats to their second straight wave election. Former Republican majority leader Tom DeLay — who knew a thing or two about keeping a caucus together — called her “the most powerful speaker in a generation. She will be able to do anything she wants.” The next two years, she passed nearly all of President Barack Obama’s legislative priorities.

Yes, of course, Pelosi is unpopular. So are Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). So is Congress. Yet, for some reason, only Pelosi gets blamed for an unpopularity that really stems from disgust with Congress and partisan polarization. Pelosi is not a scorched-earth partisan; indeed, at numerous times in her career she has been criticized for cutting deals, such as on Iraq War appropriations and Obamacare. But she also understands polarization. She sees her public role not as using policy to communicate a common ground to centrist swing voters but to expose differences between Democrats and Republicans…

Apart from honoring our street fighters, what’s on the agenda for the weekend?

By Request: NANCY SMASH!


I was gonna wait to see how it turned out, but yeah, Pelosi deserves the spotlight…

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi took the rare step Wednesday of giving a marathon speech supporting Democrats’ attempts to legalize the status of young immigrant “dreamers,” in a bid to pressure Republicans to act.

Pelosi (D-Calif.) began talking shortly after 10 a.m., using her right as minority leader to speak for as long as she wants. She began by saying that she would lead opposition to a broad two-year budget agreement that includes several Democratic priorities but does not address immigration — the topic that has prolonged the spending debate for several months.

“I have no intention of yielding back,” Pelosi said at 3:41 p.m. Eastern as she neared the six-hour mark of her ongoing remarks.

The hope is that Pelosi and Democrats — whose support is often needed to pass spending bills in the face of opposition from fiscal conservatives — can pressure House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) to hold votes on immigration legislation, as the Senate is poised to begin doing next week.

“Why should we in the House be treated in such a humiliating way when the Republican Senate leader has given that opportunity in a bipartisan way to his membership? What’s wrong? There’s something wrong with this picture,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi, 77, peppered her speech with anecdotes about people protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and mentioned the biblical tale of the Good Samaritan…

At least six floor aides and 18 Democratic lawmakers sat around her, including Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.). But most sat skimming their phones or reading documents. One aide kept slipping her fresh pages with more stories to tell about dreamers affected by the ongoing impasse.

On the other side of the chamber sat only Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) and two aides, seemingly waiting to seize the floor and begin debate on a home mortgage bill scheduled to be voted on later Wednesday…

Of course (*sigh*) it wouldn’t be a Democratic landmark without some two-bit opportunist trying to grab some attention…

Open Thread: Good for Nancy Pelosi

She didn’t satisfy the ALL DEMOCRATS MUST CONTINUALLY APOLOGIZE FOR ANY DEM’S CRIMES crew, but nevertheless

Rep. John Conyers said Sunday he was stepping down from his post as the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee amid accusations of sexual harassment that have put his party’s leaders in a bind.

The decision by the Michigan lawmaker — who has held his seat since 1965 and who denies the harassment allegations — followed several days of internal deliberation and pressure from Democratic colleagues, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who wanted Conyers to leave the high-profile post but didn’t want to be seen as forcing him out.

Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-La.) and assistant Democratic leader Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) reached out to some CBC members over the Thanksgiving recess to take the temperature of the caucus, according to multiple sources. The group is arguably the most powerful bloc within the House Democratic Caucus and is fiercely protective of its members, particularly Conyers, who was a founding member.

In an interview Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Pelosi seemed to underscore the cautious approach by taking pains to praise Conyers’ record and call for “due process,” even as she said she believed “he will do the right thing.” She also referred to Conyers as an “icon” for his lengthy service and work “to protect women.” …

Privately, Pelosi has been working behind the scenes with leaders of the CBC and Conyers to figure out his next steps. One senior Democratic aide said she was trying “to lay groundwork for him to step aside gracefully.”….

Conyers is an icon, even if he’s twenty years past his glory days, and a frontal attack on him would’ve served nobody but the authoritarian enablers who’ve been hawking the “Either a Black man or a white woman — only one token can win” strategy since the mid-1800s. (Read Ta-Nahesi Coates’ essay on “The Great Schism” for more detail.)


(Also, ten quatloos that Chuck Todd has some sexual-harrassment claims in his newsroom closet.)

Monday Morning Open Thread: #Persistance


Apart from wishing Mr. Mueller true aim and a strong arm, what’s on the agenda as we start the week?

In the Washington Post, a male reporter complains that “Nancy Pelosi isn’t going anywhere”:

“Let me just give you some hope,” the House Democratic leader told campaign donors on Oct. 17 at a private gathering on the patio of the Las Vegas Four Seasons Hotel. “Any time a president in office is below 50 percent in recent history, his party has lost the Congress in the next election.”

Her sample size was a bit small for comfort — in the past half-century, only the three most recent presidents have given up the House. But this was a pep talk, not an academic symposium.

Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat who has raised her party more than $633 million over the past 15 years, was on a seven-city, eight-day tour to show that the 2018 midterm campaign was in full swing. The Democratic effort to retake the House and return from the wilderness would probably rise or fall on the performance of one of the most polarizing figures in modern American politics…

After three decades in Congress, Pelosi, 77, makes an unlikely general to lead the troops into another change election. Her party, deemed elite and out of touch in 2016, is struggling to win back Midwestern working-class voters, and anger at Washington’s entrenched leaders is pretty much the only thing that unites the country.

But rather than shrink from the spotlight, Pelosi is once again in control — her party’s top fundraiser, senior midterm election strategist and top legislative negotiator, in partnership with Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.).

She has for months led a rolling battle with the Trump agenda, setting a disciplined, pugilistic tone for her caucus and casting herself as the official face of the resistance. With substantial help from the opposition, she has been winning more than not, at least as measured by a growing number of competitive seats, her ability to outmaneuver Republican leaders on Capitol Hill and Trump’s low approval ratings.
Read more

BATNA and an acceptable status quo

The Hill reports that Senator Johnson (R-WI) thinks that the House Republicans are the major blocking force on funding CSR:

Other Republicans say Alexander doesn’t appear to have a grasp on the politics of the House, where anything seen as shoring up ObamaCare is likely to draw fire from conservatives.

Asked if Alexander was out of step with House Republicans, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said, “Just based on the communication coming out of the House since yesterday, I would say that’s an accurate assessment..”.”

The Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA) is a good exercise to figure out where hard lines are. People will not agree to deals that make them worse off than doing nothing.

From the right, a CSR funding bill creates major problems during Republican primaries. The major political prize from the Republican point of view is the following two headlines next October:

” Obamacare premiums drop in SWING STATE X by 12% this year”

” Obamacare premiums due to Governor Z’s waiver are dropping another 8%”

The baseline premium drop would be the removal of Silver Loading that added 19% to Silver premiums this year. That drop is not the full 19% because of medical inflation but premiums are overpriced this year. States would be able to decrease off-exchange premiums as well by filing rapid “me-too” reinsurance waivers. Oregon just got approved for a reinsurance waiver that will lead to a 7.5% drop in premiums.

If there is no Murray-Alexander agreement to fund CSR, what is the alternative from the Democratic perspective?

  • A major club to beat up on Republican incumbents in swing districts
  • Silver Loading in all states
  • Expectation that good insurance on the Exchanges is now a Gold plan instead of a Silver plan
  • States with massive flexibility to innovate

The major political gains from the Democratic point of view on Alexander-Murray is wedging House Republicans between primary and general election electorates and getting at least some Senate Republicans as stakeholders.  The policy gains are more needed technical tweaks to waivers which should lead to more state-level buy-in and outreach funding for 2019.  The policy cost is funding CSR.  This precludes an opportunity to reset the actuarial value benchmark from 70% AV to a benchmark in the mid-80%s AV.

No agreement involving CSR is an acceptable outcome for Democrats.  They could agree to outreach funding, catastrophic plans, waiver modifications and employer mandate changes and still be better off with that agreement than no agreement.  Re-funding CSR is not a critical component of Democratic policy or political objectives over the long run.

The Democratic BATNA of doing nothing to CSR is an acceptable alternative.  And since one party has an acceptable outcome of no deal, they have the leverage to restrict the changes in the deal.


Tuesday Evening Open Thread: Somebody’s Gotta Keep the Lights On…

While the NYTimes dutifully attempts to weave a dark romance around “powerful survivor” and nativist bigot Steven Miller, Nancy Pelosi is out there fighting to defend the DREAMers (not to mention the rest of us). From the original Washington Post article quoted in the top tweet:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) dismissed President Trump’s new hard-line immigration proposals as “a complete non-starter” Monday, adding that her caucus may withhold support for must-pass spending bills later this year if Congress can’t reach agreement on how to protect “dreamers” from deportation.

“I fully intend to use every possibility” to strike a deal on the status of young immigrants protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Pelosi said. But, she added: “We’re not at that place yet. Right now, we’re trying to get Republicans to vote on what we believe.”…

On Monday, Pelosi dismissed the fresh immigration policy ideas unveiled by the White House. Based on documents released Sunday night, the Trump administration is demanding full construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, restrictions on legal immigration and a plan to curb young migrants from leaving Central American nations to cross illegally into the United States. The new proposals came after Trump last month decided to end DACA and gave Congress six months to pass a solution he could sign into law…

Pelosi said that the administration’s new plan is “un-American” and that “there’s nothing in it to negotiate because it does not have shared values of who we are as Americans. As long as we understand that, let’s go on with what we can agree on.”…


Apart from cheering NANCY SMASH!, what’s on the agenda for the evening?