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Politico: Nancy Pelosi’s back at the negotiating table on debt ceiling


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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is back at the bargaining table — but it’s not yet clear whether she’s willing to make a deal.

Burned by President Barack Obama’s decision to keep her out of negotiations on last year’s tax deal and this spring’s budget bill, sources close to the California Democrat say she is torn between playing deal-maker on a debt limit increase and fully protecting the priorities of Democrats’ liberal base.

On Thursday, in advance of a Friday meeting with the president at the White House, Pelosi lit into Obama’s budget director, Jack Lew, in what is becoming a habit of sending sharp messages through his top aides. Pelosi sought to impress on Lew — and no doubt his bosses at the White House — that House Democrats expect to be consulted more now than on past deals and that the president can’t expect to win passage of a debt limit package without support from House Democrats.

“Don’t insult us,” she said as Lew tried to explain why House Democrats were cut out of the budget bill discussion earlier this year, according to one source who was in the room. “You guys don’t know how to count.” It was a replay of a similar jab Pelosi took at White House economic adviser Gene Sperling during a similar meeting before the budget bill deal was reached.

But while House Democrats’ nerves remain raw, they’re in a much better position now to flex their muscles. And Pelosi, once treated as irrelevant by Obama and Republican leaders in Congress, might just have the necessary clout to put a debt limit deal over the finish line.

It’s not even necessary for Pelosi to vote for a debt deal, it may be enough for her to simply release members of her caucus to make sure it goes through.

Last time around, it was all Boehner and Reid. But Pelosi and her lieutenants have had a front-row seat for these debt limit talks. She appointed Reps. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) to represent House Democrats on a blue-ribbon deficit-reduction panel headed by Vice President Joe Biden, Pelosi’s getting private face time with the president, and she has been invited to group meetings with other congressional leaders.

But being in the room is becoming a bit of a double-edged sword for a leader who will anger a portion of her base with any deal she cuts.

“She’s not averse to a deal,” said one of her closest allies in the House. But, that lawmaker said Pelosi’s first priority has been to defend Democratic values — to push back against Medicare and Social Security cuts envisioned by some of the negotiators.

Another source described her as more evenly torn between the competing instincts to keep House Democrats in the legislative game by being part of the solution to the debt limit dilemma and using any leverage she has to prevent the erosion of programs that Democrats hold dear. If she’s successful, Pelosi will be able to pull the debate in her direction, winning concessions for Democrats, and help broker a deal. But that’s a tall order.

“They need votes,” Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) said of Pelosi’s new seat at the negotiating table. “The president’s going to need to get to 218. He’s going to have to cobble together the votes. It’s going to take cobbling together all levels of coalitions.”

For many Democrats, the term “deal” is becoming a synonym for mugging. Reports of White House interest in cutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security in order to get Republicans to agree to tax hikes — or other revenue-generating policies — brought a furious response from Democrats and left-leaning interest groups Thursday.

Pelosi has said publicly and privately that she won’t agree to any cuts in benefits, and that is becoming a mantra for House Democrats.

At a special meeting of House Democrats on Friday, Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said, “We will defend Medicare and go our own way from the White House if we have to,” according to a Democratic source.


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This shows me in part that Pelosi still doesn't get it. It was the hubris of the Dems with the supermajority wanting Obama and everyone else to bow and scrape which caused so many terrible Frankensteins in the first two years of the Obama Administration and got them booted from power. She's correct that they should all work together, but they need to all work together and the Dems need to find a way to stand with their President instead of wanting their President to stand with them. Democrats have never really been unified and have always have had a very large tent which is one of the reasons I like the party slightly better, but these Congressional Dems too often act like spoiled brats.

As I criticize the Repubs, I'll level the same charge at the Dems. Put Country first, not your party. Put aside your ego and your desire to petted and coddled, roll up your sleeves, get to work, put forth the best ideas you can and get it done.

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It was obvious Pelosi would get a seat at the table. With the inflexible TEA party wing seemingly ready to vote against any increase in the debt ceiling, no matter the concessions from the Democrats (Obama and the Senate) any deal needs to ensure that they can pick up some votes from House Democrats.


Pelosi is just using the same rhetoric everyone else has been using. By the way "progressive liberals" are pissed at Obama for suggesting entitlement reform is on the table, she's just a little late to the party so she hasn't had time to formally let her positioning be known.

There's sections of the electorate for which "compromise" is a 4-letter word. These progressive liberals (I use the term not as a slur but as a description) don't believe we have a debt limit issue and proposed a massive spending/stimulus program. I know some people who view the debate over the debt limit as nonesense and political BS (people that I respect as smart and intelligent). It's okay for there to be folks with differing views. Ultimately House Democrats will be able to say "we were the ones who stood against these entitlement cuts that are now devastating seniors and the poor".

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Exactly, she's using the same old rhetoric and tactics that everyone else has been using. I wish they would all grow up. Dems, Republicans, politicos of every stripe. It's silly, counterproductive and a part of why we're in the mess we're in. The game is more important than the work.

Don't like it when the Tea Party does it. Don't like it when the Republicans do it. Don't like it when the Democrats do it. Don't like it when the pundits do it. In other words, I'm a grumpy old man and am yelling to all the political types "Get off my lawn if you can't learn to behave nicely!"

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They have to act that way or they'd never be able to appeal to voters. You're confusing "governing" vs. "championing". The dirty truth to all this "politics" is that the results are set when the election is done. The day the American people decided to split the Presidency, and the House and further bring the Senate together guaranteed that not one viewpoint would be able to dominate politics. Fine. However; given the fact that the politicians have to come up for elections, and still champion for their strong partisan/personal beliefs, its easy to see why they fly with the rhetoric. It's unfortunate that folks on the right-wing and left-wing of the country don't realize that, however what they need to do is make the case during elections for why we should elect people who think a certain manner. This is further complicated by the fact that everything is politicized and the parties are trying to get some gain on the electorate somehow.

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This is such a depressing topic. What needs to happen is govt spending needs to be cut across the board. Both Dems and Reps are against this for different reasons. AND Govt revenue needs to be increased to pay the current bills - both sides are against this too (see Bush era tax cuts extended for all last vote).

There will be lots of posturing on both sides some simbolic (meaninless) comprise for both sides then they will shake hands agree to raise the debt and continue status quo 'till the country either goes bankrupt and or our money becomes like monopoly money.

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