Do Not Underestimate Speaker Pelosi: Her Crazy Bill May Have a Deep Purpose | Opinion

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the $3 trillion bill she and her allies had written without any public participation, Republican input or consultation with the U.S. 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 include:

  • Providing money to people in the country illegally;
  • Allowing illegal immigrants to work when more than 30 million Americans are out of work;
  • Providing tax-paid funding for abortion (Americans opposed tax paid funding for abortions by 55 percent to 29 percent);
  • Blocking voter identification laws (which 80 percent of Americans favor);
  • Giving state and local governments, which already collect your tax dollars, $1 trillion more of your tax dollars;
  • Giving a tax cut to the richest Americans in blue states; and
  • Imposing 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 to 85 percent of the country will be deeply opposed to the Pelosi bill.

If this choice of which country we should become were framed as the centerpiece of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate elections this fall, it would probably guarantee a Republican landslide. 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 in 1987), fighting and earning her way to become the first woman speaker of the House (2007-2011), and then enduring 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 a 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 are Democrats. She had this perception reinforced by the recent special election results in Wisconsin and in California. In Wisconsin, the GOP handily kept a seat in an important presidential swing state. California should have been a special shock to Pelosi, because the Republicans had not flipped a Democratic-held seat in her home state since 1998. This breakthrough, after 22 years, came in a congressional district that Hillary Clinton had carried in 2016. The GOP win in California was clearly a function of a much more energized Republican base.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Alex Wong/Getty Images

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 useful for her, as well—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 a 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 of 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 left-wing 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.

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The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.​