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Loud Speaker, Part One: An Interview with Nancy Pelosi

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave an interview yesterday to the Washington Post. I want to respond to her answers since I think they demonstrate much about the (corporate) Democrats as a party and Mrs. Pelosi herself as Speaker.

She first spoke of public sentiment as her guiding principle as Speaker, citing the line from Mr. Lincoln ‘With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed’. So, Madame Speaker, you will be implementing Medicare4All, tuition-free university, a living wage and be bringing an end to the costly and unnecessary wars? All of these issues have massive public support, so you will be doing that? No. None of these things is on the agenda despite their immense popularity. And why would they be? After all, that way lies long-term electoral success. Who wants that?

To their credit, certain Democrats in the House, including AOC, have used the power of oversight to gain vital information about President Trump and his alleged crooked financial dealings. We saw this during the Michael Cohen testimony. Going after Trump on financial dealings, including money laundering as well as tax and insurance fraud, may seem equivalent to getting Al Capone on tax fraud. My response to that is simple: it worked, did it not? How you get the criminal does not matter, only that you get them.

The Interview, Part One: The Agenda

Returning to Mrs. Pelosi, asked what her and her party’s agenda was now that they were back in the majority, she responded

Lower health-care costs, bigger paychecks, building the infrastructure of America, cleaner government. We have H.R. 1 on the floor, and in the first 100 days we will have had introductions, hearings, markups or floor action on everything in our agenda: lowering health-care costs by lowering the cost of prescription drugs, building infrastructure, bigger paychecks

Let us partially unscramble the political speak here. Lower health-care costs (along with better access to care) is code for maintaining the Affordable Care Act passed under Mr. Obama. This was originally a right wing idea. Indeed, this was the conservative response to Clinton Care, an original Democratic plan for universal coverage. As for HR1, this sounds good, even if, in typical legal fashion, it has the clarity of mud.

Turning now to lowering prescription drug prices, this is a good idea. A common approach is the proposal by Senator Bernie Sanders to import cheaper drugs from Canada. The true shame is that in the past, Democrats (including Presidential candidate Cory Booker) have not supported it. Worse, the argument that was used against it was that the imported drugs would not pass FDA regulations and so their safety was not assured.

Ok, ignore the fact that regulations in Canada are more stringent than the US. Focus on the fact that, as the Intercept pointed out, drugs sold in Canada were often originally created in the US. They surely met FDA standards then. Sending a product to Canada does not remove its FDA rating. Thus, the Democrats do not have a good record on this issue, and Presidential candidates trying to turn over a new leaf should have their claims put under a microscope.

The Interview, Part Two: The Political Climate

Asked about the current political climate in Washington, Mrs. Pelosi responded as follows

We have a very serious challenge to the Constitution of the United States in the president’s unconstitutional assault on the Constitution, on the first branch of government, the legislative branch. … This is very serious for our country. So in terms of divisiveness…this is probably the most divisive and serious.

Like so much political speak, those are words, and they follow each other, but their meaning is not clear. Unconstitutional assault on the Constitution? Even her attempt at clarification is vague, defining her terms as Trump’s assault on the legislative branch. With respect, Madame Speaker, the legislative branch is subject to far more popular oversight (the house is up for election every two years) than, say, the Supreme Court. Trump’s assault on the judiciary, both through his attacks on judges that rule against him as well as this appointments to the Supreme Court, has far wider implications.

The Interview, Part Three: Vacuousness is Not Vision

For my next comment, I want to focus on Mrs. Pelosi’s remarks about the 2020 election. Naturally, she seeks Democratic control of the House, Senate and White House. Fair enough. But her reasons for ousting Trump are so vacuous. She says

Not to diminish the importance of the others [previous elections], but because of the actions taken by the person in the White House, disregarding the Constitution of the United States, disregarding our commitments to the world in terms of our commitment to NATO, to Paris climate, to our values

If I hear one more corporate Democrat use the phrase ‘our values’ without explaining, in precise terms, what that means, there will be an incident. Note, too, that she never explains what it is that Trump has done that violates the US Constitution. All she and her colleagues have to do is say what Trump has done. Whether it is emoluments, witness tampering, obstruction or whatever. I do not care. But you must define your terms, if for no other reason than to short circuit the charge that your criticism of Trump actually is ‘orange man bad’.

The right was accused for a long time of having Obama Derangement Syndrome, the idea that their disagreement was not policy based (how could it be, he was a right-winger in many respects) but based rather on a visceral, personal hatred of Mr. Obama. Try to avoid looking as crazy as the other guys, Madame Speaker.

This is a long interview, so more of The Speaker next time.

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  1. New England Cocky

    “So, Madame Speaker, you will be implementing Medicare4All, tuition-free university, a living wage and be bringing an end to the costly and unnecessary wars? All of these issues have massive public support, so you will be doing that? No. None of these things is on the agenda despite their immense popularity. And why would they be? After all, that way lies long-term electoral success. Who wants that?”

    It is not in the interest of corporate USA (United States of Apartheid) to have healthy citizens, educated to think, building local enterprises rather than destroying foreign lands.

    Just think what would happen when:
    1) teachers were paid per year rather than per week at equivalent graduate salary levels;
    2) workers could afford to eat healthy food rather than fast food rubbish;
    3) the NE military industrial complex would shrink because there was little need to supply government and the CIA with munitions.

    Perhaps the rich would even be required to pay their fair share of taxation to keep the country a democracy.

  2. John Hermann

    The existence of people within the Democratic Party like Nancy Pelosi and Hilary Clinton – who are unwilling to provide a meaningful alternative to the Republican Party by abandoning the neoliberal agenda, implementing truly progressive policies, bringing about financial reforms, curtailing the vast expenditure on the military/security complex, and bringing and end to America’s ongoing wars, sanctions and military adventures around the world – are the real reason why Trump was elected to high office.

  3. Alan Nosworthy

    After more than a century of exporting “democracy” whether the often democratically elected recipient wants it or not the U.S. cupboard seems to be unable to supply egalitarian democracy domestically.

    They do remain a hot contender for
    The best government money can buy.

    The religiously inclined could view the U.S. as the Pharisees of democracy, whitened sepulchres obsessively concerned with interpreting the law to their own benefit but blind to the spirit.

  4. Phil

    Pelosi is as fake as a nine bob note. Just another US politician who came to the trough to get cashed up.

    Poverty in America is on the increase, Trump lies to his plebs everyday and for now the world turns.

    Pelosi who the fk is Pelosi?

  5. Andreas Bimba

    Just wait and see, Nancy Pelosi and the party machine will be fighting very hard to block Bernie Sanders a second time from gaining the Democratic Party Presidential nomination regardless of how many votes he gains in the primaries.

    Trump trounced the Republican Party party machine and other right wingers like Ted Cruz by playing the media, being so outrageous that he was good for ratings, exploiting widespread bigotry and exploiting the legitimate concerns of those who have been discarded by the last 40 years of off-shoring of industry especially in the rust belt. 90% of what Trump promises and says are lies but that doesn’t appear to matter that much, so far.

    Bernie will also have to play most of his game outside of the Democratic Party and as he gains support the progressive and conservative political establishment will begin to shit themselves which will be good for ratings and he will begin to get media coverage. Bernie has sound policy, sound values and integrity on his side. The old man’s brain is still clear and the heart still ticks. For the sake of the US and the rest of the world may Bernie win the presidency in late 2020.

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