Pelosi the not-so-perilous

November 05, 2006

During these final tense days before midterm elections threaten to rob the Republicans of their congressional majority, GOP leaders are warning voters of the potentially dire consequences.

Most urgently, Republicans are raising the specter of "Perilous Pelosi," their tag for California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who will become House speaker if Democrats win the additional seats they need for control.

Republicans predict that a Pelosi regime is likely to include presidential impeachment hearings, the influence of "San Francisco values" on cultural issues, a cutoff of funds to American troops stationed in Iraq and tax increases all around.

But those fears appear groundless - at least for the next two years. With a Republican president and what may be an almost evenly divided Senate, Democrats won't have the votes to do anything too extreme, even in their own caucus.

What's more, most don't want to. Mrs. Pelosi's plan is to start with the easy stuff, bringing up popular measures with broad, bipartisan support that the Republicans have so far left on the table. Her initial agenda includes raising the minimum wage, ending tax subsidies for oil companies, cutting student loan interest rates, tightening port security, strengthening pension protections, lifting limits on embryonic stem cell research and allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices.

Further, Democrats are promising to promote an atmosphere of civility in the bitterly contentious Congress, and Mrs. Pelosi has squelched talk of impeaching President Bush because she knows the American people have grown weary of such bickering.

How long such a cooperative attitude would prevail is anybody's guess. But a little cooperation and genuine achievement on behalf of the American people would be a welcome change no matter which party wins Tuesday.

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