With both sides attacking the budget compromise up for votes on Capitol Hill today, Nancy Pelosi wants everyone to know one thing:
The former Speaker said Thursday morning that no matter what happens — pass or fail — she takes no “responsibility” for the deal that cuts about $38 billion from last year’s spending deal.
“As is pretty evident House Democrats were not part of that agreement — I’d rather call it an agreement than a deal,” Pelosi said. “I feel no ownership of that or any responsibility to it.”
Pelosi can play Pontius Pilate all she wants — or Lady MacBeth, whichever you prefer — but washing her hands doesn’t take her off the hook for this deal. For one thing, she’s the leader of her caucus in the House. If she opposed it, then she would be whipping her team to vote against it and put Republicans on the hook for the deal. Instead, she won’t even publicly declare how she herself will vote on the bill. I know that the position of House Minority Leader is usually irrelevant when it comes to floor votes, but Pelosi is putting in extra effort to be purposefully irrelevant.
If she didn’t want to take responsibility for major policy positions, why did she force her caucus to reinstall her as its chief?
Fundamentally, however, Pelosi owns whatever budget ends up being produced. As House Speaker with a 77-seat majority in the 111th Session, with the Senate and White House controlled by her party, Pelosi could have easily passed nearly any budget she desired. Instead, Pelosi shirked her responsibilities then as she’s doing now, attempting to evade blame for the government budget. Democrats unhappy at the cuts coming in the final five months of FY2011 have only one person to blame, and that’s the woman trying desperately to wash her hands in the corner.
On the other hand, Pelosi has found someone to blame for her irrelevancy:
In a tense moment that may well have encapsulated the frustrations of three-plus months in the minority, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi snapped at a top presidential economic adviser, Gene Sperling, during a closed-door meeting between White House aides and House Democratic leaders Wednesday.
“Maybe you could consult with us just once,” Pelosi said, according to one source’s account. Others confirmed the basic content of the stand-out barb from the former speaker in the midst of an active but largely cordial meeting.
Why should they consult a leader who so assiduously avoids leading?