- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 1, 2006

If Democrats gain 15 or more House seats next week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the quintessential San Francisco Democrat, will almost certainly become speaker of the House, a position that places her two heartbeats from the presidency during wartime.

One of the House’s most liberal members, Mrs. Pelosi perhaps best demonstrated bona fides midway through her 20-year career in the House. In the spring of 1997, when the Republican-controlled Congress was negotiating with then-President Clinton over the details of a budget resolution that would balance the books by 2002, the House considered several competing five-year plans. Mrs. Pelosi voted against the plan backed by Mr. Clinton and nearly two-thirds of House Democrats. Over the five years, it would have produced a balanced budget by 2002, while cutting taxes by $85 billion and reducing projected spending by $280 billion (including $115 billion for Medicare, $14 billion for Medicaid and $140 billion in discretionary outlays). The reductions in the rate of growth in projected health-care spending would not have prevented significant increases in both programs over the five-year period (Medicare, 49 percent; Medicaid, 44 percent). Inflation-adjusted defense spending, which had already fallen 28 percent over the previous eight years, would continue to decline as nominal defense outlays marginally increased by $3 billion from 1997 to 2002.

Instead of supporting the Clinton plan, which was embraced by 132 House Democrats, Mrs. Pelosi voted for three alternative five-year plans. She supported Maxine Waters’ Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) substitute plan, which would have slashed nominal defense spending by $190 billion and raised taxes by $195 billion. Mrs. Pelosi also voted for George Brown’s substitute resolution, which would have frozen defense spending at 1997 levels (not much different from the plan supported by Mr. Clinton and Democratic and Republican majorities), eliminated the tax cuts and Medicaid reductions and increased discretionary spending on education, training, transportation, science, energy and the environment. She also supported Joseph Kennedy’s substitute plan, which would have eliminated the tax cuts, reduced defense spending and raised non-defense discretionary spending by more than $103 billion. Just this past May, Mrs. Pelosi voted for the CBC substitute budget resolution that called for more than $517 billion in tax increases over the next five years, compared to the resolution supported by the majority.

Mrs. Pelosi joined a majority of her Democratic colleagues by voting against the October 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq. (She also opposed the use of force against Iraq in 1991.) Perhaps more significantly, in October 2003, with U.S. military forces engaged throughout Iraq, she voted against the $87 billion supplemental appropriation to fund the war effort. As speaker, she would be in a position to execute the recent threat by Rep. Charlie Rangel, one of more than 70 Democratic members of the “Out-of-Iraq Caucus,” to seek the elimination of funding for military operations in Iraq. In other words, she would remain the quintessential San Francisco Democrat.

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