Pelosi to GOP: You really ought to take back your party, you know

posted at 5:11 pm on January 3, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

As expected, Nancy Pelosi retains her position as House Minority Leader after going unchallenged for the spot earlier today and garnering an even wider margin of support than at the convening of the 112th:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) entered the 113th Congress on Thursday with a greater show of support from her Democratic troops than she had just two years ago.

In Thursday’s much-watched vote for House Speaker, all but seven Democrats voiced their support for Pelosi — a vast improvement over 2011 when 20 rank-and-file members declined to back the California liberal after the party was pummeled at the polls just a few months earlier. …

Part of the heightened unity behind Pelosi is a simple function of a new roster. Of the 20 Democrats who opposed her two years ago, only 11 returned to the 113th Congress.

And two of those seven were simply out of town, so it sounds like House Democrats are pretty okay with the way their faction’s rolled over the past two years — or are at least lacking in better options. Which, joyously, means we get to hear even more about how Republicans simply loathe things like clean air and clean water on principle, or something, because there’s no possible way anything but bigger government could bring these things about. Maybe we should just go club some baby seals while we’re at it:

There are many members in the Republican caucus who do not believe in government. And bless their hearts, they act upon their beliefs. So day to day, we vote here on issues that eliminate government initiatives for clean air, clean water, food safety, public safety, public education, public transportation, public housing, public health, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security. “They don’t believe in a public role. And if you don’t believe in a public role, then why do you even have to have taxes to pay for it? … They’re anti-government ideologues, and that’s what the speaker has to deal with.

Anyhow, I’m wondering if and how long that Democratic show of unity will last, because the upcoming fights over the debt ceiling and government shutdown are going to prompt more debate over entitlement reforms that Pelosi advocated be taken off the table this last time around. As self-congratulatory as they might be about Republicans’ intra-party strife, they’re going to have to figure out how they want to play these next few rounds on that front:

The biggest reform Republicans have vowed to push for in these upcoming standoffs is so-called “entitlement reform,” a.k.a. “deficit reduction,” a.k.a., cutting social insurance and benefits for those in need.

The problem for Democrats: No one in the party agrees on how to address the issue.

The White House has repeatedly expressed a willingness – even an interest – in reducing the deficit through cuts to these programs. …

But coming on the heels of a campaign that explicitly litigated the twin issues of tax fairness and protecting benefits for those in need, Obama finds himself with a growing, emboldened liberal wing of his party. And it’s as dead set against balancing the deficit on the backs of the neediest Americans, as House conservatives are to raising taxes.


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