The Good, Bad And Ugly of Pelosi’s Reign as House Speaker
Nov. 18, 2022 -
- The Good -
Affordable Care Act:
Depending on where you sit on the political spectrum, you either think the Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as Obamacare, is either a socialist takeover of American health care, long past due regulation on a parasitic insurance industry, or a compromised piece of legislation that did more to help the insurance providers than patients.
Regardless, there is no doubt that navigating the legislation through Congress was a difficult task, and Pelosi, for good or ill, managed to wrangle just enough “Blue Dog Democrats” to get the bill passed, a victory that was sorely needed by the Obama administration at the time. While the House version of the Affordable Care Act did pass with a major feature that would have allayed some of the criticisms of the bill that came from the left, that provision was stripped in the Senate.
After the 2008 financial crisis, Congress set out to limit some of the excesses that led to the economy’s collapse. Passed in 2010, it reversed some of a loosening of regulations that occurred during the past decades.
Among its biggest reforms was the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was established to prevent predatory mortgage lending, a major cause of the collapse of the housing market that led to the 2008 financial collapse.
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act:
After a Supreme Court Ruling limited many of the protections for workers provided by the Equal Pay Act of 1963, House Democrats led by Pelosi quickly introduced the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, restoring those protections.
Significantly, the bill extended the timeframe workers had to file their grievances. Previously, under the Supreme Court ruling, workers had to file for a grievance within 180 days of the business adopting the policy that led to the grievance. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act made the 180 day timer reset after each violation, rather than from when the decision was made.
If, for example, a company discriminated against an employee by paying them less than similar staffers, the employee now has 180 days to file a grievance from their last check, rather than when the company made the decision to pay other employees more.
- The Bad -
Losing the House, Twice:
Pelosi was the first House speaker to be elected to the position twice, in 2007 when she became the first female House speaker and against in 2019, after Democrats took control of the House in 2018. But that also means she resided over the House while Democrats lost power to Republicans. In 2010, Republicans took control of the House and obstructed former President Barack Obama’s agenda for the remainder of his presidency. The Democrats would not gain control of the House again until the 2018 midterms, leading to Pelosi’s second stint as House Speaker in 2019.
Earlier this month, the Democrats lost control of the House again while under Pelosi’s leadership.
Build Back Better Plan Failure:
Pelosi’s second reign as speaker lacked the keystone legislation that made her first reign so significant. While President Joe Biden’s potential signature legislation made it through the House, it failed in the Senate.
Pelosi and her counterpart in the Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), failed to corral the fringe of their party into backing the bill. Instead, they allowed the sweeping $3.5 trillion legislation to be parred down into a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.
The remaining reforms and programs that made up the Build Back Better plan were then put in a separate bill, which languished in Congress. Pelosi, as House speaker, oversaw the separation of the Build Back Better platform and the infrastructure bill, dooming the progressive reforms it included.
- The Ugly -
Stacking the January 6 Committee:
Pelosi was in charge of picking the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 Attack on the Capitol. Traditionally, members would be selected by leadership of both parties and its members' political affiliations would be based on the makeup of the House at the time.
But Pelosi ignored House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s picks, calling them too partisan. Despite the slim 222-213 majority Democrats held at the time, Pelosi named just two Republicans to the nine-member panel.
While this resulted in the short-term win of enabling the panel to fully go after former President Donald Trump, it also opened the door for Republicans to do the same when chairing committees while it controls power.
Considering that Republicans have already announced their intentions to investigate the Biden family while they control the House, Pelosi may have damaged the Democratic party and the American system as a whole, for decades.
Stock trading by politicians and their spouses has become an issue voters on all sides of the political spectrum seem to agree on. Some 63% of all voters support a ban on lawmakers trading stock, including 69% of Democrats.
Despite its popularity, Pelosi failed to push a bipartisan bill to ban the practice during her time as speaker. She initially scoffed at the idea, calling the practice part of the “free-market economy.” After significant public and political backlash, she appeared to relent and said she would support a ban on congressional stock-trading. However, as speaker, Pelosi decides which bills make it to the House floor, and she neglected to allow the bill to be debated until days before their last recess before the midterm elections. That meant the bill had no time to be debated or modified, essentially ensuring its failure.
Her hesitancy may be the result of her and her husband’s significant stock holdings. The couple is worth at least $46.1 million and the vast majority of that wealth is derived from stocks, options and investments made by her husband, Paul Pelosi. SputnikNews