Newt Gingrich, When Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the $3 trillion bill she and her allies had written with no public participation, Republican input, or consultation with the US Senate or the White House, my first reaction was that it would be dead on arrival and the move made no sense.
Then, as we learned about the nuttier parts of the bill, it struck me almost as a joke. In fact, I tweeted: “How do you explain a House Democratic Party so crazy that their new $3 trillion proposal has 68 references to Cannabis and only 52 references to jobs? Maybe Speaker Pelosi of San Francisco believes ‘California Dreamin’ could become the new national anthem.”
There are a remarkable number of impossible-to-explain provisions in the bill. Some of them would:
- Provide money to people in the country illegally;
- Allow illegal immigrants to work when more than 30 million Americans are out of work;
- Provide tax-paid funding for abortion (Americans opposed tax paid funding for abortions by 55 percent to 29 percent);
- Block voter identification laws (which 80 percent of Americans favor);
- Give state and local governments, which already collect your tax dollars, $1 trillion more of your tax dollars;
- Give a tax cut to the richest Americans in blue states;
- And impose a host of other liberal fantasies on Americans.
In fact, the bill is so bad that I had also tweeted: “Trump District Democrats need to be pushed on their support or opposition to the Pelosi $3 trillion bill.”
This bill could become a disaster for Democratic candidates if Republicans bear down and focus on it. Republicans will hate the bill. Independents and moderates will find large parts of the bill totally unacceptable. There will be an entire series of issues in which 75 percent or 85 percent of the country will be deeply opposed to the Pelosi bill.
If this choice of which country we should become was the centerpiece of the US House and US Senate elections, it would probably guarantee a Republican landslide this fall. In this bill, Pelosi and the Democrats are advocating deeply unpopular issues.
Yet, we know Speaker Pelosi has had a long career in Congress (she was first elected 1987) fighting and earning her way to become the first woman Speaker of the House (2007-2011), and then endured eight years as minority leader to become Speaker for a second time. She is a survivor. She is tough. She is hard-working, and she has been through a lot of campaigns – and seen and executed a lot of maneuvers. Therefore, you must assume there is a sound strategic reason for her to bring forward a bill that is this radical, expensive, and controversial.
After spending days trying to figure out why she would lead her party into such an exposed position, let me offer this three-part proposition.
First, Speaker Pelosi probably believes this is going to be a base turnout election, and she knows from all the polls that Republicans are more excited about the election than Democrats. She had this reinforced by the special elections in Wisconsin and in California. In Wisconsin, the GOP handily kept a seat in an important swing state for the presidential election. California should have been a special shock to Pelosi, because the Republicans had not converted a Democratic seat in her home state since 1998. This breakthrough, after 22 years, came in a district Secretary Hillary Clinton had carried. The GOP win was clearly a function of a much more energized Republican base.
From Pelosi’s perspective, mobilizing the cannabis users and liberal investors is a useful move, too. They are as much part of the Democratic base as traditional small business owners are part of the Republican base. Arousing the hardcore, pro-abortion activists helps her with turnout and donations. Disciplined repetition of the word “diversity” appeals to her ideological activists and – to a lesser extent – minority communities. Appealing to the illegal immigrant community is a useful thing for her. (And Democrats are working to make it possible for illegal immigrants to vote in a number of states). Giving a tax cut to the richest people in the bluest states is direct favor to her donor base and helps the public employee unions in those states by making state and local taxes more bearable. Pouring extra cash into the worst-run blue states with the biggest pension debt (think Illinois and New Jersey) directly helps her public employee union allies and the Democratic politicians in those states.
Speaker Pelosi has likely calculated that – as usual – the Republican candidates will forget to focus. She also must be betting that in a few weeks the Republican and independent voters will have forgotten this monstrosity of a leftwing wish list. Yet, her base will be fired up to elect Joe Biden and Democratic majorities so they can get the ideological and financial goodies she has woven into this bill.
It is a major gamble on Pelosi’s part. If the Republicans have enough discipline and endurance, she will pay a substantial price for it.