Nov 20th 2014

Five Reasons Why Nancy Pelosi Should Continue as House Democratic Leader

by Robert Creamer

Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist and author of the recent book: "Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win," available on amazon.com.

This week House Democrats will renew their fight to put the middle class first and strengthen America's working families. Here are five reasons why Nancy Pelosi 
has earned their votes to continue as Democratic Leader. 
 
Reason #1. She has a clear understanding of the major challenges facing the country – the most important of which is the grave need to strengthen the middle class and all who aspire to it – and raise the wages of ordinary Americans.
 
Throughout her tenure, she has consistently championed progressive values and policies that are squarely in the mainstream of the views held by the vast majority of the American people.  
 
You don’t have to drag Nancy Pelosi kicking and screaming to support policies that advance the interests of women.  She is the quarterback of the #WomenSucceed agenda - fair pay, quality childcare and paid family leave - because "when women succeed, America succeeds."
 
She was a leading voice for health care for all for decades before she masterfully put together the votes for the final passage of the Affordable Health Care Act.  
 
She helped organize the votes of 60% of Democratic House Members against authorizing Bush’s War in Iraq.
 
She personally engineered the first increase in the minimum wage in over a decade in 2006 – while Bush was President.
 
Throughout her career she has supported equality - LGBT rights, the rights of persons with disabilities, civil and voting rights, reproductive rights, immigrants' rights, the right of collective bargaining – and efforts to raise the wages of ordinary Americans and reduce the share of national income going to the 1% that has siphoned off virtually all of the 80% increase in our per capita national income over the last 30 years.
 
All of these positions now receive massive public support among the voters and provide the platform for Democrats to retake control of the House and Senate and maintain control of the White House in 2016.
 
But most importantly, in Nancy Pelosi, Democrats have a champion who they know is firmly committed to the core values of the progressive movement and Democratic Party.
 
Reason #2: She has unmatched skill as a legislative leader – who listens to and brings together every faction of the Democratic caucus to pass legislation.
 
During the four years she was the first woman Speaker in the history of the United States, she presided over the most productive legislative period in half a century.
 
Even during the Bush Presidency, she demonstrated that she could get things done. Here is a brief list of the major accomplishments of the 110th Congress even while Bush was still President:
 
 
·      Comprehensive energy legislation that raised vehicle fuel efficiency standards to 35 mpg by 2020 - the first new fuel efficiency standards in 32 years.
 
·      Tax incentives for clean renewable energy that created or saved 500,000 jobs.
 
·      The “Compete Act” that promoted high-tech jobs, expanded math and science education, and boosted research and innovation.
 
·      An economic stimulus package that provided “refundable” tax credits to 130 million low income and middle class Americans.
 
·      The largest expansion of college aid in six decades – cutting loan rates in half and increasing Pell grants.
 
·      A new GI bill that provided free college education to veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan wars
 
·      Reauthorization of the Head Start Program.
 
·      The first increase in the minimum wage in over a decade.
 
·      An alternative minimum tax reform that protected 25 million middle class families from paying the AMT.
·     
·      Mental Health Parity to end coverage discrimination against patients seeking treatment for mental illness.
 
·      Landmark lobby and ethics reform, including creating an outside, independent ethics panel.
 
·      Enacted 9/11 Commission recommendations to strengthen homeland security.
 
·      Passed the largest investment in veterans’ health care in the 77-year history of the Veterans Administration.
 
And during the 111th Congress – once President Obama was elected, Pelosi’s record was unbelievable – working with Harry Reid and President Obama to:
 
 
·      Pass landmark health care reform that had eluded Presidents for almost a century.  Without Pelosi’s iron will and legislative prowess the ACA would never have passed the House.
 
·      Rescue the economy from the economic free fall they inherited from President Bush -- avoiding another Great Depression.
 
·      Create millions of new jobs through a major stimulus program.
 
·      Enact a fundamental overhaul of the apparatus set up to regulate the Wall Street speculators who caused the Great Recession.
 
·      Put in place a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
 
·      Set the stage for reducing the deficit from 9.8% of GDP when Bush left office to 2.8% of GDP today.
 
·      Provide long-term unemployment benefits to workers laid off as a result of the Great Recession.
 
·      Passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to make it more difficult for employers to pay women less then men for equal work.
 
·      End “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”
 
More than any Speaker in recent times, Pelosi showed how to get things done – when her party controlled the White House and when it didn’t.
 
And in 2006, Pelosi showed how to get things done politically restoring Democratic control to the House that had been dominated by Republicans since the Gingrich revolution in 1994.
 
Reason #3: Nobody in politics has a better understanding of the elements of the “rising American electorate” that is at the base of the Democratic coalition – especially women, people of color and young people.  But years in politics have also given her a keen sensitivity to the interests and views of ethnic middle class voters, residents of small towns and white male union members.
 
And she comes by those understandings honestly. She was brought up in the home of a Catholic Mayor of Baltimore and she herself is a devout practicing Catholic. She has represented people from across San Francisco's diverse neighborhoods, regularly receiving 80% of the vote.Nancy Pelosi is just as at home in a Plumbers Union Hall as she is at an LGBT rally.  She is just at home in a Moose Lodge in rural southern Minnesota as she is at an “Ultimate Women’s Power Lunch” in Chicago.
 
That skill enables her to listen to every component of the diverse Democratic Caucus and craft legislative strategy that addresses the interests of - and input by - the full range of Members.
 
Reason #4She is widely beloved and respected by the Members of the Democratic Caucus in the House.  Large factions of the Republican Caucus don’t trust John Boehner.  Virtually every Democrat trusts Nancy Pelosi – even those who have at one time or the other been her rivals.
 
Nancy Pelosi is a unifier and not a divider within her Caucus. Time after time the Democrats were united - from promoting the Make it in America jobs agenda to fighting the GOP shutdown.
 
Reason #5:Her fundraising and political prowess are beyond peer.  
 
Under her leadership the operations of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee – and most especially its field operations – have been massively upgraded. The average loss suffered by a party in power in the White House in the second mid-term of their term is 29 House seats.  Though the counting is not all completed it appears that Democrats will have a net loss far short of that number – and several key pickups in Nebraska, Florida and California.
 
But what is most remarkable about her political leadership is her fundraising.  Pelosi personally raised over $100 million for Democratic candidates this fall – an unbelievable performance.
 
In summary, the case is clear. Though there are many other highly-skilled Members of the Democratic Caucus no one matches the combination of political and legislative skill and commitment to progressive values that you have in Nancy Pelosi.  There is no question that it is in the interests of Democrats nationwide that she should continue as Democratic Leader – and one day soon again as Speaker of the House.
 
You can follow Robert Cramer on Twitter @rbcreamer.

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