Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker to be: Will her first 100 hours bring action? Rhetoric?
While I sit tapping my fingers impatiently on my computer, waiting for more Election '06 results to roll in, one thing appears certain: Americans have sent more Democrats (232) than Republicans (203) to Congress in January (more here). That means House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D - California) will likely be awarded a new job: Speaker of the House. Here's a sample of voter reponses:
"Democrats take the House! Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to be speaker of the house. Rock on, it's hard being a Democrat and a woman in politics; the public sees you as TOO liberal. She now has the highest political office held by a woman." - Keely2640's LiveJournal
"While Republicans across the country are groaning over the loss of the House and the possible future loss of the Senate, there are still reasons for them to hope...For whatever problems the Republicans are encountering now, there is no question that the Democrats' reign in the House of Representatives will not be easy. Future Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's position is "impossible," says [Alex Maugeri, president of Princeton College Republicans]." - Rachel Dunn for The Red, Orange and Blue blog
If Ms. Pelosi wins the nomination as predicted (she's run the House Democrats since 2002), Pelosi will be the first woman to hold this powerful position, which is third in line for the American presidency. She's also the first Speaker to have posted on a blog.
The scope of Ms. Pelosi's control and power has yet to be determined -- at midnight California time, critical Senate races are too tough to call and party control of this chamber hangs in the balance.
But as you can see from the blog posts above, that isn't stopping us -- and probably shouldn't. So how do YOU think she will do? What do you think she should do?
Ms. Pelosi has a few ideas herself: On Oct. 6 she charted her course for her first 100 hours on the job The Washington Post:
"Day One: Put new rules in place to "break the link between lobbyists and legislation."
Day Two: Enact all the recommendations made by the commission that investigated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Time remaining until 100 hours: Raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, maybe in one step. Cut the interest rate on student loans in half. Allow the government to negotiate directly with the pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients.
Broaden the types of stem cell research allowed with federal funds _ "I hope with a veto-proof majority," she added in an Associated Press interview Thursday.
All the days after that: "Pay as you go," meaning no increasing the deficit, whether the issue is middle class tax relief, health care or some other priority.
To do that, she said, Bush-era tax cuts would have to be rolled back for those above "a certain level." She mentioned annual incomes of $250,000 or $300,000 a year and higher, and said tax rates for those individuals might revert to those of the Clinton era. Details will have to be worked out, she emphasized."
Ms. Pelosi has since elaborated with today's blog on The Huffington Post: "One Hundred Hours, taking the tonal high road at the start of Election Day. By the time victory was clear, however, she was as pointed and partisan as her San Francisco constituents have come to expect:
"The American people voted to restore integrity and honesty in Washington, D.C., and the Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history," Pelosi said. She added, "And nowhere did the American people make it more clear that we need a new direction than in the war in Iraq. 'Stay the course' has not made our country safer, has not honored our commitment to our troops and has not made the region more stable. We cannot continue down this catastrophic path." She called on the Bush administration to work with Democrats "to find a solution to the war in Iraq."
Her partisanship is tempered, however: What Ms. Pelosi does not do is invoke the i-words -- "investigate" and even "impeachment" -- that many critics of the Administration's policies on pursuing the Iraq war and surrounding issues (federal wiretapping, administration of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo) that her own Bay Area constituents have called for.
Whether Ms. Pelosi breaks much new ground with her plan is another issue, complains Blogger Chris Nolan:
"I'm still not sure that's a good thing to see Pelosi running the House. Yeah, I know, she keep the troops in line. And yeah, it's high time someone did. But, I'm one of those old codgers who remembers the waning days of Democratic control of the House and Senate way back in 1994. And well, I gotta tell you, it wasn't anything to get excited about. What's worse, some of the same geezers who ran the show all those years ago have been hanging around Capitol Hill for 10 years waiting to get back in power. That's not what you'd call a healthy situation."
What do you think -- do you expect legislative innovation from Ms. Pelosi, or business-as-usual, donkey-style? Will we get 100 hours of rhetoric or action? Any predictions (or wishlists) for the Speaker (to be)?
I, for one, am going to go out on a limb here and predict that lots of political reporters who tried not to look too hard or long at Democratic Speaker Tip O'Neill or Republican Tom DeLay will scrutinize the new Speaker and write copiously about what she wears at her swearing in...
More on Congresswoman Pelosi:
Photo credit: Washingtonpost.com