Who’s Afraid of Nancy Pelosi?

What has Pelosi achieved?

First, as House minority leader, she played a crucial role in turning back George W. Bush’s attempt to privatize Social Security.

.. Then she was the key figure, arguably even more crucial than President Barack Obama, in passing the Affordable Care Act, which produced a spectacular fall in the number of uninsured Americans and has proved surprisingly robust even in the face of Trumpian sabotage.

She helped enact financial reform, which has turned out to be more vulnerable to being undermined, but still helped stabilize the economy and protected many Americans from fraud.

Pelosi also helped pass the Obama stimulus plan, which economists overwhelmingly agree mitigated job losses from the financial crisis, as well as playing a role in laying the foundation for a green energy revolution.

.. whenever you hear Republicans claim that Pelosi is some kind of wild-eyed leftist, ask yourself, what’s so radical about protecting retirement income, expanding health care and reining in runaway bankers?

It’s probably also worth noting that Pelosi has been untouched by allegations of personal scandal, which is amazing given the right’s ability to manufacture such allegations out of thin air.

Paul Ryan’s Exit Interview

As speaker of the House, the Republican lawmaker should be at the peak of his powers. Instead, he’s walking away.

Why would the House speaker — and the third most powerful Republican in Washington — voluntarily leave his seat at the age of 48?

  • Mark Leibovich, who recently interviewed Paul Ryan for The New York Times Magazine.

How Republican Hypocrisy Lifts Social Democrats

By its astoundingly cynical approach to deficits and debt, the G.O.P. has opened the door to an expansive left.

That Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s brand of expansive, expensive socialism has found this moment so conducive to its popularity is no accident. Its rise has been uniquely fueled by President Trump, who as both a businessman and a politician has embodied a cartoon version of rapacious capitalism.

.. But it has also been emboldened by more conventional aspects of the Republican agenda, in particular the party’s astoundingly hypocritical approach to debt and deficits.

.. Under Mr. Obama, Paul Ryan, the outgoing speaker of the House, repeatedly blasted the president for declining to manage the federal budget. In 2012, he told the Republican National Convention that “in this generation, a defining responsibility of government is to steer our nation clear of a debt crisis while there is still time.”

.. A year earlier, Senator Mitch McConnell called the federal debt “the nation’s most serious long-term problem.” Over and over, Republicans cast Mr. Obama’s rising deficits as a profound social menace, a form of budgetary terrorism that threatened the country’s future.

.. The Republicans’ pretense to deficit hawkery put pressure on Democrats to adopt a similar stance. Whether or not most Democrats actually cared about the deficit, their leaders tended to act as if they did. So the health care law was structured, with the help of some gimmickry, to score as an overall reduction to the federal deficit, and Mr. Obama, in speeches, singled out entitlement spending as the biggest driver of the long-term debt and convened a bipartisan committee to recommend deficit-reduction strategies.

.. Nor do Republicans appear ready to reverse course. President Trump recently proposed a $12 billion bailout for farmers hurt by the trade war he started, and senior White House advisers have called for a second round of tax cuts that would make permanent the individual rate cuts in the first tax law, at a cost of roughly $600 billion.

Reports suggest the administration is mulling a unilateral change to the taxation of capital gains that would add another $100 billion to the deficit. Another giant spending bill is on the horizon.

.. The party’s hypocrisy on the budget is not new. After Bill Clinton dramatically shrank both deficits and government spending as a share of the economy, George W. Bush took office and proceeded to dramatically increase both.

.. Through their actions, they have proven that they cared about the deficit primarily for its usefulness as a political cudgel, an easy way to curtail Democratic policy goals.

.. .. Think tanks from across the political spectrum estimate a Bernie Sanders-style single-payer system would cost around $32 trillion over a decade, and while that might be less, overall, than the current partially private system, the challenge would be to finance the enormous increase in government spending on health care.

.. both her errors and answers seemed to suggest that finding plausible ways to finance the full cost of her policies is not exactly at the top of her agenda.

.. there is already a movement within liberal policy circles arguing that debt and deficits are far less important than most lawmakers have assumed.

.. although Republicans will surely attack the new class of Democratic Socialists and their policies as debt-increasing budget busters — that is, after all, what Republicans do — their own actions will ensure that those criticisms have no real authority. Their opposition to the socialist agenda will be hollow, because they helped make that agenda possible.

Impeach Rosenstein? C’mon, Man

In its latest futile gesture, the House Freedom Caucus sets its sights on ousting the man overseeing Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

..their public relations assault is not actually about his refusing to turn over this or that document related to the Russia investigation. It’s not really even about the lawmakers’ loathing of the broader investigation, though certainly President Trump’s congressional lackeys — Mr. Meadows and Mr. Jordan most definitely included — are increasingly desperate to derail it.
.. For Freedom Caucus leaders, this impeachment resolution is about something at once much broader and far pettier: the need to make a huge, disruptive, polarizing political stink just as members head home for the long hot August recess. Especially with a critical midterm election coming, it never hurts to have some extra well-marbled meat to throw the voters. And it is unlikely a coincidence that, less than 24 hours after filing, Mr. Jordan — who, lest anyone forget, is multiply accused of overlooking rampant sexual abuse while an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University — formally announced his candidacy for House speaker.
Not to make Mr. Rosenstein feel any less special, but this is the fourth year in a row that Freedom Caucusers have pulled a summer-break stunt so nakedly self-serving that it would be comic if it weren’t so odious in its quest to erode public faith in government and in democratic institutions more broadly. Indeed, for all those wondering how the Republican Party reached the point where Donald Trump could swallow it whole with his furious everything-is-awful-and-everyone-is-out-to-get-you brand of demagogy, look no further than the nihilists in the Freedom Caucus.
.. In 2015, Mr. Meadows became an overnight political celebrity when, on the day before break, he filed a motion aimed at overthrowing the House speaker, John Boehner. That effort eventually bore fruit.

.. In 2016, Freedom Caucus members filed a pre-break motion to force a vote on the impeachment of the Internal Revenue Service commissionerJohn Koskinen. (Impeachment is all the rage with these guys.)
And last summer, they filed a discharge petition demanding a vote on a repeal of Obamacare.
.. it has only nine co-sponsors, and Republican leaders, including Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the oversight committee, have expressed a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the effort.
.. Mr. Meadows didn’t even attempt to file a “privileged motion,” as he and his colleagues did against Mr. Koskinen two years ago, which would have forced a vote before members decamped on Thursday... the issue won’t get taken up until lawmakers return from break in September, if then. (That’s the beauty of pre-recess antics: They cannot fail before members get to spend several weeks touting them back home.)

There is vanishingly little chance that House leadership will let this toxic nonsense advance — Speaker Paul Ryan already has publicly smacked down the effort — and

zero chance that the motion could amass anywhere close to the two-thirds support required for the Senate to actually remove Mr. Rosenstein.

.. This stunt is in fact so ridiculous, so unfounded, so poisonous to the Republic that Attorney General Jeff Sessions felt compelled not only to publicly defend his deputy, but also to suggest that the lawmakers involved find a better use of their time.

.. Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general who was fired in January 2017 for refusing to defend President Trump’s travel ban, tweeted a warning about the long-term damage of “using the Department of Justice as a prop for political theater.”

.. It’s not that the Freedom Caucus members don’t recognize the damage they’re doing — or even that they don’t care. It is that delegitimizing government is at the heart of their movement.

.. Conflict and obstructionism have always been their purpose, fueled by their relentless message that

  • government is always the problem, that
  • all experts are idiots, that
  • cultural and coastal elites hate Real Americans and that
  • all of Washington is corrupt and broken beyond repair.

.. As has often been noted, Mr. Trump did not invent the apocalyptic message that he has used to dazzle the Republican base. He merely distilled it to its essence. But the base had been groomed for his arrival for years, in no small part by lawmakers like Mr. Meadows and Mr. Jordan, who have repeatedly proved eager to tear down democratic institutions in the service of their own political aims.

.. So while the Freedom Caucus’s pitiful effort to oust Mr. Rosenstein should not be taken seriously on practical grounds, it is a tragic reminder of the bleak path down which the Republican Party has been slouching in recent years. The rot was there long before Mr. Trump showed up to exploit it, and it is likely to remain long after he is gone.