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Centrists Mixed on Pelosi Vote
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Centrists Mixed on Pelosi Vote

BY Ethan Wallison

Democratic insiders are predicting that a small group of party centrists and vulnerable incumbents will abandon Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D) in next month's Speakership election in an effort to distance themselves from the liberal California lawmaker. Some knowledgeable insiders suggest the vote could amount to the largest defection from one party's candidate for Speaker since nine Republicans deserted Rep. Newt Gingrich (R) in 1997, amid swirling ethics allegations against the Georgia lawmaker.

12/19/2002
HOUSE LEADERSHIP: A UNANIMOUS DEM VOTE FOR PELOSI? DON'T COUNT; ON IT
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HOUSE LEADERSHIP: A UNANIMOUS DEM VOTE FOR PELOSI? DON'T COUNT; ON IT

Roll Call's Wallison reports, Dem "insiders are predicting that a small group of party centrists and vulnerable incumbents will abandon" expected Min. Leader Nancy Pelosi (D) in the 1/03 Caucus election "in an effort to distance themselves from the liberal ... lawmaker." Some "knowledgeable insiders" say the vote "could amount to the largest defection from one party's candidate for Speaker since" nine GOPers deserted then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R) in '97. A "senior party strategist": "There's little doubt in my mind that there are a lot of Members who are weighing how they are going to deal with this vote for Speaker. A number of people are saying grace over this together." One "senior" Dem aide "noted": "For many people, they consider [a vote for Pelosi to be] political suicide." There is "little chance Pelosi will receive votes from ... conservatives such as" Reps. Ralph Hall (D-TX) and Ken Lucas (D-KY). Blue Dog Dem Rep. Gene Taylor (D-MS) "has indicated that he will once again back" Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) in the vote for Speaker, though Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA) spokesperson Selby McCash said the "centrist" Bishop is "as firm for Pelosi as [a moderate Democrat] can be." A "senior Pelosi aide noted that in every Congress there tends to be one or two Democrats who vote against the party's candidate," but added no one has yet "detected any evidence" of "any significant opposition" to Pelosi: "If it's a political problem for some people then it's something we'll have to discuss with them in the weeks to come. We're not here to kill people." Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Martin Frost (D-TX) and Harold Ford Jr. (D-TN) all "sought to challenge Pelosi's climb through the leadership ranks by tapping" into the "anxiety ... that she would serve as a useful symbol" for GOPers "hoping to paint" Dems "as a party of intransigent liberals." Conservative group Citizens for a Sound Economy said in a recent press release: "If Nancy Pelosi wants to take radical positions, that is her own business, but she shouldn't lead other Democrats down the same path to economic and political oblivion." However, "many party strategists doubt that Pelosi will pose a problem for Democrats seeking re-election in 2004, in spite of her ideology." Consultant Bob Doyle, "who has worked with a number of party moderates": "My belief is that she will see [the next two years] as a tremendous challenge, and will go out of her way to find a leadership agenda that will be good for these people" (12/19). AT LEAST THE DCCC STAFF CAN'T VOTE AGAINST HER Roll Call's Cillizza reports, Pelosi "is expected to install her top fundraiser," '00 San Francisco ex-VP Gore fundraiser and current Pelosi DCCC liaison Brian Wolff, "as the finance director" at the 1/03 DCCC meeting "in an attempt to answer critics who charge that the delay in choosing a chairman will financially handicap" Dems in '04. Meanwhile, the DCCC "has begun using Pelosi in its fundraising efforts, sending out its first direct-mail appeal from" Pelosi 12/6, which DCCC spokesperson Mark Nevins said "brought in the largest one-day financial take ever recorded at the committee ... although he would not say how much was raised." Nevins: "People are incredibly energized by leader Pelosi. That is reflected in the overwhelming response we got." Both developments "come amid rising criticism that Pelosi's continued silence about the next" DCCC "is hamstringing efforts to remain competitive" in '04. A "senior" Dem leadership aide said the delay gives the DSCC "a head start ... in the race for hard dollars." Some "well-placed" Dems also "expressed concern that Pelosi was planning a major house-cleaning of the current" DCCC finance staff. On Pelosi's leadership problems: "It is certainly not helpful." Questions "surrounding the role the DCCC will play in House elections given these fundraising constraints have made Pelosi's job of recruiting a chairman much more difficult than in past cycles." Candidates "who have shied away" from the post, including Reps. Ed Markey (D-MA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Robert Matsui (D-CA) "greatly outnumbers those who have expressed an interest in it": '02 DCCC chair Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) "is not interested in a return engagement, and only Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) "has made his desire for the job publicly known." Rep. Martin Frost (D-TX) "is also mentioned, although most observers believe it is unlikely Pelosi will install a longtime nemesis in a leadership post" (12/19). ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AISLE... Roll Call's Crabtree reports, incoming House Maj. Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) "plans to offer a change to current House rules that would eliminate the eight-year GOP term limit on the Speakership." House Speaker Dennis Hastert's (R-IL) "term limit will expire at the beginning of" '07, but "has repeatedly denied perennial, widespread speculation that he is contemplating retirement." Blunt said there is absolutely "no movement for [Hastert] to leave" and denied "that his actions are aimed at motivating Hastert to stay on as Speaker or to leave before his term limit expires": "There needs to be a strong sense of continuity -- a strong sense that the person who is making a commitment to you has every opportunity to maintain that commitment. The job benefits from consistency and continuity." Hastert spokesperson John Feehery "said his boss would keep his opinion about the rules change to himself in order to allow the Conference to work its will on the matter. It's something for the Conference to decide. Obviously he is not a disinterested observer. He is obviously going to be impacted by this decision, but he'd rather have the Conference decide." Feehery "also dismissed any speculation" that Hastert "would retire soon": "He really enjoys his job and is excited about the next term as Speaker." Even though "Blunt's name has been bandied about as a potential successor to Hastert whenever he decides to leave Congress, Blunt denied that his future plans played any role" in the proposal: "The whip job is not the popularity contest job in our Conference. I think it is a mistake for the whip to worry about what we're going to do next. ... I'm focused on doing this job the very best I can." Blunt informed Hastert, incoming House Maj. Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) and Conference Chairwoman Deborah Pryce (R-OH) "of his plans in a meeting earlier this week," explaining: "Leadership limits just don't make sense ... We want to make sure that Members are not immediately calculating whether the Speaker will be around." Pryce: "This is definitely a good thing regardless of when Denny Hastert is going to leave," she said. "He isn't a lame duck, but that's what term limits would do. This certainly isn't something that he's asked for. He's still free to go whenever he wants. This just gives him the ability to be in control while not becoming a lame duck" (12/19). WE'LL SIT THIS ONE OUT, THANKS In "stark contrast" to Senate GOPers' "public struggle over the fate of" Senate GOP leader Trent Lott (R-MS), "the top four members of the newly elected House GOP leadership team met privately earlier this week to lay the groundwork for a smooth transition." The Lott controversy "has consumed Washington's chattering class for nearly two weeks and has drowned out any talk of next year's legislative agenda." Pryce, on the matter: "It won't make the overall picture any easier. We still operate as a House, we still have our job to do. I don't think it will make our job that much harder, but it might make things more uncertain. We're still ready to roll. It's important to get our act together and hopefully [the Senate] will be able to do the same sooner rather than later." DeLay "declined to comment about any distraction the Lott feeding frenzy has caused to their planning process and also would not say whether he wanted Lott to stay or go": "I'm not touching that with a 6-foot pole. The Senate has to do what they have to do" (Crabtree, Roll Call, 12/19). THE DEMS WILL NOT BE TELEVISED? Washington Post's Eilperin reports the DCCC's Harriman Center, "which allows lawmakers to cut commercials, provide digital tours of the Capitol and do interviews with reporters in their districts," may "disappear altogether now that the national political parties cannot accept" soft money. Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA): "They kept me on television every week. [The staff] can give you political advice. These guys are trying to make you look good because they're Democrats." DCCC exec dir. Howard Wolfson said the cmte "is laying off the center's five unionized employees ... at least until it moves back into the party's headquarters," adding: "Campaign finance reform will mean a smaller committee. The next chair needs to weigh the services provided by the Harriman Center against the costs of running it in a post-McCain-Feingold era." Pelosi spokesperson Brendan Daley "said a final decision has not been made on the center": "We understand it's a very valuable service the Harriman Center provides, and we would like to continue offering that service to members." NRCC spokesperson Steve Schmidt "said he is confident his party will be able to provide members with television services": "Because of our ability to mine hard dollars, we will not have to close vital operations like our TV center. The committee will be a little leaner, a little smaller, but it's going to be involved in campaigns across the country in a very substantial way." Watchdog group Democracy 21 head Fred Wertheimer: "The bottom line here is, everyone's in a new world, where they have to operate with hard money" (12/19).

12/19/2002
Centrists Mixed on Pelosi Vote
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Centrists Mixed on Pelosi Vote

BY Ethan Wallison

Democratic insiders are predicting that a small group of party centrists and vulnerable incumbents will abandon Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D) in next month's Speakership election in an effort to distance themselves from the liberal California lawmaker. Some knowledgeable insiders suggest the vote could amount to the largest defection from one party's candidate for Speaker since nine Republicans deserted Rep. Newt Gingrich (R) in 1997, amid swirling ethics allegations against the Georgia lawmaker. "There's little doubt in my mind that there are a lot of Members who are weighing how they are going to deal with this vote for Speaker," said one senior party strategist, who indicated that "multiple" Members have sought out his advice on the matter. "A number of people are saying grace over this together." But some centrists, such as Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), have signaled that they will support Pelosi in the largely symbolic vote at the beginning of the 108th Congress. "He's as firm for Pelosi as [a moderate Democrat] can be," Bishop spokesman Selby McCash said. Nevertheless, one senior Democratic aide noted, "For many people, they consider [a vote for Pelosi to be] political suicide." Already Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), a member of the party's conservative Blue Dog Coalition, has indicated that he will once again back Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) in the vote for Speaker. Insiders say there is little chance Pelosi will receive votes from other conservatives such as Reps. Ralph Hall (D-Texas) and Ken Lucas (D-Ky.), who only recently flirted with switching parties. Neither Hall nor Lucas could be reached for comment this week. A senior Pelosi aide noted that in every Congress there tends to be one or two Democrats who vote against the party's candidate for Speaker, but indicated that no one has yet "detected any evidence" of any significant opposition to the California lawmaker. "If it's a political problem for some people then it's something we'll have to discuss with them in the weeks to come," the aide said, while indicating it is the leadership's "preference" - not its demand - that Members back Pelosi. "We're not here to kill people," the aide said. Uneasiness about Pelosi - but specifically with her liberal credentials - has been evident among moderate Democrats since the California lawmaker was first elected to the leadership as the party Whip. First Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and later Reps. Martin Frost (D-Texas) and Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.) all sought to challenge Pelosi's climb through the leadership ranks by tapping this anxiety and suggesting that she would serve as a useful symbol for Republicans hoping to paint the Democrats as a party of intransigent liberals. That message would appear to have some traction in the Caucus. In spite of an 11th-hour start, Ford received 29 votes in his leadership matchup with Pelosi last month. In fact, many party strategists doubt that Pelosi will pose a problem for Democrats seeking re-election in 2004, in spite of her ideology. Bob Doyle, a political consultant who has worked with a number of party moderates, noted that voters are most likely to make judgments about the Democrats from observing the party's nominee for president, not from its leader in the House. Doyle, who has often in the past clashed with party leaders over ideology, said moderates are likely to find reason for optimism in Pelosi's reign as leader. "My belief is that she will see [the next two years] as a tremendous challenge, and will go out of her way to find a leadership agenda that will be good for these people," Doyle said. GOP strategists did in fact seek to link conservative Democrats such as Lincoln Davis (Tenn.) and Rodney Alexander (La.) to Pelosi in the just-completed election cycle. Both candidates won, but insiders suggest that neither is expected to back Pelosi for the Speakership. At least one outside group, Citizens for a Sound Economy, which promotes tax cuts and other conservative economic policies, has begun an effort to undermine Pelosi's tally - the Speakership election is a recorded vote - by seeking to pressure Democrats elected from relatively conservative districts. "If Nancy Pelosi wants to take radical positions, that is her own business, but she shouldn't lead other Democrats down the same path to economic and political oblivion," CSE said in a press release this week. CSE indicated it has targeted 14 moderates, who are identified on the campaign's Web site, http://www.notpelosi.com. They are Bishop, Ford, Hall, Lucas and Taylor, plus Reps. Marion Berry (Ark.), Leonard Boswell (Iowa), Brad Carson (Okla.), Bud Cramer (Ala.), Chris John (La.), Mike McIntyre (N.C.), Collin Peterson (Minn.), Max Sandlin (Texas) and Charlie Stenholm (Texas). CSE is likely to find that some of those targeted are not at all susceptible to whatever pressure is brought to bear. Berry, Peterson and Sandlin, for instance, are longtime Pelosi allies who supported her publicly through her first forays into leadership politics. Bishop, who is someone who has to rely on Pelosi's goodwill for a seat on the Appropriations Committee - or, alternatively, to take over for her as the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee - is a more recent ally.

12/19/2002
Economic Group Hopes to Undercut Pelosi's Rise to Prominence
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Economic Group Hopes to Undercut Pelosi's Rise to Prominence

BY Chad Groening

(AgapePress) - A Washington, DC, activist group is urging moderate House Democrats not to "rubber-stamp" the selection of Nancy Pelosi as the new minority leader, because of her radical voting on economic issues. Citizens for a Sound Economy calls itself a non-partisan grassroots group dedicated to lower taxes, less government, and more freedom. Spokesman Chris Kinnan says the CSE has rated members of Congress on 20 economic issues -- and Democrat Nancy Pelosi scored a perfect zero.

12/18/2002
All We Want for Christmas is PERS Reform!
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Press Release

All We Want for Christmas is PERS Reform!

The best Christmas present all Oregonians could receive is a long-term solution to the PERS crisis that continues to threaten the health and future of our state. While politicians in Salem continue to debate how best to address the latest biennium fiscal crisis, they ignore the most pressing fiscal problem facing the state, namely, the exploding unfunded costs of the state’s Public Employees Retirements System (PERS). Originally designed as a “competitive” pension system to allow state and local government to attract and retain talented people, PERS quickly morphed into a taxpayer-financed orgy for public employees with total unfunded liability currently estimated to range between $11.5 and $15.7 billion. If the legislature does not take immediate steps to rectify the problem, funding for schools, fire and police departments, and basic government services will be in jeopardy.

12/18/2002
Let the Confirmation Process Begin
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Press Release

Let the Confirmation Process Begin

When Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist lamented on the pace of judicial confirmations during the 107th Congress, you knew that something was wrong with the process in the Senate. Rehnquist solemnly wrote in his yearly review of the judiciary: in “times such as these, the role of the courts becomes even more important in order to enforce the rule of law. To continue functioning effectively and efficiently, however, the courts must be appropriately staffed. This means that…judicial vacancies must be timely filled with well-qualified candidates.” Moreover, when the editors at Washington Post bemoaned the dawdling rate at which President Bush’s judicial nominees were voted on -- let alone scheduled for a hearing in the Judiciary Committee – it’s a good indicator that someone or party stonewalled and hijacked the confirmation process.

12/18/2002
Alternative Minimum Monster
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Press Release

Alternative Minimum Monster

Taxes targeting the rich eventually end up hitting the average guy. For example. when the modern federal income tax became law in 1913, Congress intended to only tap the wealthiest Americans. Rates ranged from 1 percent to 7 percent, and well over 90 percent of the population was exempt from filing. Of course, today, income tax rates range from 10 percent to nearly 40 percent, and the income tax takes from all but the poorest workers.

12/18/2002
Rubinomics Revisited
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Press Release

Rubinomics Revisited

Speculation that the new Republican Congress may propose a sizeable tax cut as its first order of business in the New Year has lead many to question whether our nation can “afford” to reduce tax rates. A steady drumbeat of opposition has manifested itself in the pages of left-of-center publications and on Wall Street, where bankers fear increased deficits will reduce the price of their agglomeration of Treasury notes and depress corporate borrowing and the underwriting fees associated with it.

12/18/2002
Taxes, Spending, and Deficits
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Press Release

Taxes, Spending, and Deficits

Fiscal policy is making a comeback in Washington. President Bush underscored this point with a recent economic policy shake-up that included replacing the Treasury Secretary and the White House economic adviser. With a sluggish economy and the return of deficit spending, Republican Washington realizes that remaining in power will require an agenda broader than war in Iraq. Democrats, on the other hand, accuse the president of irresponsible tax cuts and a weak domestic policy agenda.

12/18/2002
The Lieberman Factor
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Press Release

The Lieberman Factor

Al Gore read the handwriting on the wall and decided he was not up to a rematch with President Bush. So, he’s gone. We wish him well …. The most obvious immediate beneficiary of the Gore drop out is his former running mate, Senator Joe Lieberman (D-Ct). Now released from a pledge not to run in the primaries against Gore, Lieberman has given every indication that he plans to jump on “the awesome opportunity” he now has to run for President.

12/18/2002

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