Theodore's World: Pelosi Privately Tells Dems They Can Back Drilling

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August 06, 2008

Pelosi Privately Tells Dems They Can Back Drilling

Pelosi: At-risk Dems back drilling


California Democrat Nancy Pelosi may be trying to save the planet — but the rank and file in her party increasingly are just trying to save their political hides when it comes to gas prices as Republicans apply more and more rhetorical muscle.

But what looks like intraparty tension on the surface is part of an intentional strategy in which Pelosi takes the heat on energy policy, while behind the scenes she’s encouraging vulnerable Democrats to express their independence if it helps them politically, according to Democratic aides on and off Capitol Hill.

Pelosi’s gambit rests on one big assumption: that Democrats will own Washington after the election and will be able to craft a sweeping energy policy that is heavy on conservation and fuel alternatives while allowing for some new oil drilling. Democrats see no need to make major concessions on energy policy with a party poised to lose seats in both chambers in just three months — even if recess-averse Republicans continue to pound away on the issue.

“The reality is we will have a new president in three months, and what Bush and the Republicans are trying to do amounts to a land grab for the oil companies,” said one senior House Democratic aide involved with party strategy. “I don’t think we have to give in at all pre-election — we have many more options postelection.”

It’s a reality that Rep. Nick J. Rahall (D-W.Va.) personally delivered to President Bush recently.

Democratic House aides say the energy agenda has been carefully gamed out in strategy sessions, and Pelosi always intended to take heat on gas prices while tacitly encouraging more vulnerable Democrats to publicly disagree with her and show their independence.

Freshman Democrats like Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania and Don Cazayoux of Louisiana have taken her up on the offer.

Altmire has said a drilling vote “will happen,” while Cazayoux, hoping to hang on to his seat in a conservative Baton Rouge-area district, on Friday sent a letter to Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) demanding a vote on more domestic oil exploration.

“There will be a vote,” said Altmire, who faces a rematch with former GOP Rep. Melissa Hart this fall in the Pittsburgh suburbs.

Indeed, Congress must vote before Sept. 30 to renew the annual moratorium; otherwise, it will lapse on its own, giving states the right to decide whether private companies can search for potential drilling sites three miles offshore. .

“My view is that if we have a vote, let’s make it a rational policy,” said Altmire, whose district includes viable coal and nuclear industries. “We can’t let Republicans hold this issue hostage because of one vote.”

Cazayoux, in his letter, says “the current debate seems to be bogged down in partisan one-upmanship.”

To some extent, House Republicans seem to be playing right along with the strategy, taking Pelosi’s name in vain dozens of times during their rebel House sessions over the past few days and making her the villain who won’t allow oil drilling votes.

“It’s grossly unfair to the Democrats who want a vote,” said Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas). “[Pelosi] needs to cut that out.”

The Senate has also gone with a run-out-the-clock strategy, with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) calling for a bipartisan energy summit but promising no major energy votes. Reid embraced the drilling and conservation proposals of the bipartisan Senate “Gang of 10” last week, but he made further commitment on the energy debate.

Reid, like Pelosi, is expecting to have a much stronger governing majority in the Senate next year, so he has little incentive to give in to Republicans on energy policy as long as he thinks it won’t hurt Democrats.

Even as they face heat from constituents during the August break, Democrats say they aren’t going to cave in to popular pressure.

“We feel pretty comfortable with where we are,” said Rep. Michael E. Capuano (D-Mass.), who is close to the Democratic leadership. “This is a not a new issue. This just didn’t happen today. We’ve been working on this for months.”

Democratic insiders said that Pelosi and other party leaders were “not rattled” by the GOP floor rebellion, and at this point, it’s not clear if the Democrats will even pay a price on energy. State-level polling conducted by Democrats suggests that voters still view President Bush and the GOP as the incumbent power in Washington, and Democratic strategists believe any anti-incumbent wave would hurt Republicans more than Democrats.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, one of the leaders of the rogue GOP House session, said he realizes that Democrats are “in a four-corners stall right now,” and admits that “it gets more challenging” for Republicans if they lose more seats in Congress.

Democrats are also comforted somewhat by the fact that crude oil prices have gone down more than 10 percent from their summer highs, and if the U.S. economy enters a recession, prices may fall further due to slackening demand.

“There is no crisis on our side of the aisle,” a top House Democratic leadership aide said. “We have a plan, and we will stick to it.”


Wild Thing's comment..........

If the democrats do get a veto proof majority, Socialism will reign in this country. We need a big turnout for ALL Republicans running. That is the only to stop the socialist democrats.

Demoncrat and deceit are synonymous. She is the most bitter, hateful, vitriolic female legislator that ever sat in the halls of congress

She’s trying to save as many democrat seats as possible but a vote for any democrat in the House is a vote for Pelosi. She could care less if even her own voters have to pay high prices this winter or now. For Pelosi it is all about power and nothing more.

....Thank you Mark for sending this to me.

Posted by Wild Thing at August 6, 2008 03:55 AM


Of course she's trying to save what's left of her party. That walk out was the last straw. I have a family member who actually complimented the dummys for doing this and that I should "read up" on what the dummys really mean and how great they are and that she's worried about me!
Nazi Peeloser is a mean old crone who will do anything to keep her job, even stealing someone else's ideas and tell her constituents that it was really her idea to begin with.

Posted by: Lynn at August 6, 2008 04:30 AM

Sadly, the President and a Republican Congress could have prevented this anytime from Jan 2001 until Jan 2006 when they controlled the votes. Now a few brave Repub Congressman stage a protest but it may do no good. They have until 30 Sep to get the votes to open drilling, but even if the vote passes to open drilling, it will be Dem controlled with even more restrictions added to a limited up front teaser.

President Bush has been a no show in this contest so far. He is blowing another opportunity to show that he is a conservative and a true leader.

Posted by: TomR at August 6, 2008 10:22 AM

TomR is 100% on target with his commentary on what is really going on. I am afraid of this Gang of 10 bipartisan bill that is gaining favor as an energy solution step forward. It significantly limits drilling when we should be doing it everywhere that we can and the bill over commits to solar and wind alternative energy.

I wonder whether Barack Obama will see to it that the bill includes a "windfall" (sorry for the pun) profits tax for any new companies making large profits from new wind and solar energy products and services.

Posted by: Les at August 6, 2008 11:50 AM

I have heard that too, Les, also, Pelosi has no intention of coming back and wants to let it ride until they get the White House, too.

The dem plan is to let gas prices rise as high as they can, 7-8 dollars a gallon was the figure I heard. Limit drilling, and have the consumer use alternative Non-carbon fuels, and conservation. In other words, they are going to stick us with higher taxes for gas and no viable energy source on the horizon.

They are trying to turn the U.S. into a third world country.

If Bush had a pair, he'd call congress back just to piss them off and vote on this, but he has been a weenie since he got re-elected.

Posted by: Mark at August 6, 2008 12:30 PM

The smile and teeth in the graphic above look like Jimmy Carter...what does this mean?

Posted by: Steve, at August 6, 2008 04:21 PM

Lynn, your absolutely right!!

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 6, 2008 05:29 PM

Tom, your right, good point about this too. Yes, the President and a Republican Congress could have taken care of this back then, and did nothing back then about it.

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 6, 2008 05:33 PM

Les, yes I wonder about that.

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 6, 2008 05:35 PM

Mark, all of that is true and it sure makes me sick and angry what they want to do.

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 6, 2008 05:37 PM

Steve, Yikes....LOL it does. That is very scary.

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 6, 2008 05:39 PM

Pelosi and Reid are treasonous. Many of us can barely afford to go shopping to buy groceries and have little hope of heating our homes this winter. They flit around the country at taxpayer expense and don't give a f^&k. Heaven help us.

Posted by: Bob at August 6, 2008 06:19 PM

Yes, lie about what you are going to do to get elected and you have my blessings. God help us.

Posted by: Bob at August 6, 2008 06:26 PM

Yes, lie about what you are going to do to get elected and you have my blessings. God help us.

Posted by: Bob at August 6, 2008 06:38 PM

I have a 2X4 with rusty nails that I would love to smack Nanny in the chops with.

Posted by: cuchieddie at August 6, 2008 06:48 PM