In unusually stark terms this afternoon, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acknowledged that Republicans would be able to do serious damage to Democratic accomplishments if they retake the House in November.
“We think so much is at stake,” she said during a conference call with bloggers and reporters this afternoon. “While they can not overturn health care, they can deprive it of funding. Same thing with Wall Street reform and the rest.”
In the past, Pelosi has highlighted key Republican goals — repealing health care reform and wall street reform legislation chief among them — to attack the GOP. Typically, though, she declines to explain what Republicans could accomplish if John Boehner becomes Speaker, and insists that the Democrats will not lose the House.
“If the Republicans were to win they would defund Wall Street reform, health care as a right not a privilege in our country. The list would be a long one of things that they could hold up. They couldn’t necessarily repeal with President Obama in office. But they could defund. And that’s important for members to mention,” she acknowledged.
Pelosi, who rose to power as an appropriator, understands the power of the purse better than most on Capitol Hill. She continues to discount the possibility that the GOP will win back the majority this fall, but her remarks implied, fairly candidly, that she thinks it’s possible.
“It’s very hard for them to win over 40 seats, assuming we win some of the Republican seats, that’s what will require for them to win the House,” Pelosi said.
The Democrats current 39 seat majority is a significant buffer. But even the Dem-aligned AFL-CIO sees upwards of 75 seats up for grabs this November.
“People keep saying 1994, they might as well be saying 1632,” Pelosi joked, explaining one advantage she thinks Democrats have this year. “Our candidates then were not prepared. They were blindsided. Today, our candidates, most of them have been in campaign mode for one two or three terms, and their operations are effective and have never let down. They’re tough districts and that’s why they’ve always maintained a campaign operation.”
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.