Media repeat GOP attacks on Pelosi as "extreme," "out of touch," ignoring House Dems' widely supported legislative agenda

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

For months, Republicans and conservative media figures have attacked House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) by claiming that Pelosi, who would likely be elected speaker should Democrats gain control of the House of Representatives after the November 7 elections, is "extreme," "out of touch," and outside the "mainstream." These attacks have often been repeated uncritically in the media, despite the actual legislative agenda Pelosi has offered in the event that Democrats take the House, which boasts initiatives that draw broad support from the American public.

As Media Matters for America documented, Pelosi has been the target of attacks by Republicans and conservative media figures. The Republican National Committee has attacked Pelosi for her "extremely liberal record." On the November 1 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, correspondent Andrea Koppel reported that Pelosi was "among the most liberal politicians in America," and that "Republicans have seized on the prospect of liberal lawmakers running the House as a way to fire up their base on the campaign trail." On the October 24 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country, host Joe Scarborough claimed that Pelosi is "out of touch ... in so many districts across the country." On the October 12 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, host Sean Hannity claimed that "people don't know how extreme she is, but we've got 26 days to inform people." Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, on the October 12 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, attacked Pelosi's "San Francisco values." On the August 21 edition of Hannity & Colmes, Hannity called Pelosi "that San Francisco extreme left-wing liberal."

In August, the House Democrats announced the "Six for '06" legislative agenda, calling for "Real security at home and overseas," "Better American jobs -- better pay," "College access for all," "Energy independence -- lower gas prices," "Affordable health care -- life-saving science," and "Retirement security and dignity." As Colorado Media Matters has noted, Pelosi had previewed this agenda in a June 22 Associated Press article, claiming that her plan for the first 100 hours of Democratic control would involve "implementing the 911 Commission recommendations; increasing the minimum wage; making healthcare and prescription drugs more affordable; renewing efforts to protect Social Security; rolling back subsidies to major oil companies in favor of spending more on alternative energy sources; and improving college affordability."

Pelosi elaborated on the specifics of her "100 hours" plan in an October 6 AP article:

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is thinking 100 hours, time enough, she says, to begin to "drain the swamp" after more than a decade of Republican rule.

As in the first 100 hours the House meets after Democrats -- in her fondest wish -- win control in the Nov. 7 midterm elections and Pelosi takes the gavel as the first Madam Speaker in history.

Day One: Put new rules in place to "break the link between lobbyists and legislation."

Day Two: Enact all the recommendations made by the commission that investigated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Time remaining until 100 hours: Raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, maybe in one step. Cut the interest rate on student loans in half. Allow the government to negotiate directly with the pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients.

Broaden the types of stem cell research allowed with federal funds -- "I hope with a veto-proof majority," she added in an Associated Press interview [October 5].

All the days after that: "Pay as you go," meaning no increasing the deficit, whether the issue is middle class tax relief, health care or some other priority.

To do that, she said, Bush-era tax cuts would have to be rolled back for those above "a certain level." She mentioned annual incomes of $250,000 or $300,000 a year and higher, and said tax rates for those individuals might revert to those of the Clinton era. Details will have to be worked out, she emphasized.

A Newsweek poll, conducted October 19-20, noted that Democrats have endorsed several of these initiatives, and asked respondents whether they should be top priorities, lower priorities, or not pursued at all, should the Democrats win control of Congress. According to the poll, 74 percent of respondents thought that "[a]llowing the government to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies to lower drug prices for seniors" should be a top priority; 68 percent favored raising the minimum wage as a top priority; 62 percent favored "[i]nvestigating charges of impropriety or wrong-doing by members of Congress"; 52 percent of respondents favored "[n]ew rules to limit the influence of lobbyists" and "[e]nacting all the recommendations of the 9/11 commission" as top priorities. When asked whether "[b]roadening the kinds of stem cell research that can receive federal funding" should be a top priority, 44 percent said yes, while 31 percent said it should be a lower priority. "Rolling back some of the Bush tax cuts" was favored as a top priority by 38 percent of respondents, while 28 percent said it should be a lower priority.

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