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Press Release

    Who is Nancy Pelosi?

    11/13/2002

    Rep. Dick Gephardt is on the way out, making way for Rep. Nancy Pelosi to become House Democrat Minority Leader. It's not an improvement.

    Every Congress, CSE tracks key votes on the issues of lower taxes, less government, and more freedom. This Congress, Nancy Pelosi scored a Big Fat Zero. 0%. Null. That means on the twenty key votes for economic liberty in the 107th Congress, Nancy Pelosi voted the wrong way every single time. She voted for higher income taxes. She voted for the death tax. She voted to keep the trial lawyers fat and happy. She even voted against repealing the marriage tax penalty!

    The ascendance of Nancy Pelosi to the position of House Democrat Leader is unfortunate, because her economic policies are bad for America.

    In fact, a lot of conservatives are excited that a San Francisco “Latte Liberal” will be the highly visible House Minority Leader. They believe because she is so “out there,” she’ll alienate mainstream America.

    I’m not convinced. Pelosi is formidable. She has a strong presence and is well-liked by other Members, at least on a personal level. She’s a good speaker, has a sense of theater, and will undoubtedly be a popular choice on the nation’s cable news circuit.

    More importantly, I don’t think she’ll present the clear liberal alternative the way conservatives hope she will. In a debate on taxes, Social Security, the minimum wage, welfare, and trade, Pelosi and the other liberals will lose based on the facts and on the evidence. So instead of making a head-to-head case for her liberal ideas, she’ll pretend to accept the premise of a good bill but attack it for other reasons.

    Thus, she’ll try to make popular tax cuts a fight instead about “rewarding the rich” or “raiding Social Security.” That’s called redirecting the debate.

    Consider some of her recent tactics:

    Issue: Ending the Death Tax
    Redirect Reason to Oppose: National Security and Social Security
    “Make no mistake: this bill undermines our nation’s security. It will rob us of the resources we need to defend our country, and it will rob us of the money we need to protect Social Security.” June 6, 2002

    Issue: Expanding Free Trade
    Redirect Reason to Oppose: The Environment
    “We appreciate the value of free trade. But we also value protecting the environment. With us, environmental protection is not only an issue, but it is also an ethic.”

    Issue: Bush Tax Cuts
    Redirect Reason to Oppose: Social Security
    “Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the Republican raid on Social Security that is being made on the floor of the House today.” (April 18, 2002)

    Issue: GOP Budget
    Redirect Reason to Oppose: Social Security
    “Those same Republicans have broken promises to the American people by an all-out raid in this budget on the Social Security Trust Fund.” (March 20, 2002)

    Issue: War in Iraq (1991)
    Redirect Reason to Oppose: The Environment
    “While we are gravely concerned about the loss of life from combat in the Persian Gulf War, environmental consequences of the war are as important to the people there as the air they breathe and the water they drink.” (cited in John Miller, National Review)

    This “redirect the debate” tactic hasn’t worked lately, but it can be effective. That’s why Americans who value freedom and prosperity should not make the mistake of underestimating Nancy Pelosi. She’ll probably realize that she needs to downplay her own extreme beliefs in order to help her party. She’ll come up with creative excuses and redirect the debate to let Big Government liberals oppose spending cuts and tax relief. Fortunately, CSE will be there every step of the way to defend tax cuts and pro-growth public policy.