Pelosi Dodges Drilling Question; Blames Bush for Economic Downturn

     When Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) took the role of Speaker of the House on January 4, 2007, the national average price of gas was $2.33 a gallon, according to the Energy Information Administration. Now the average price is hovering around $4 a gallon.


     But Pelosi deserves no part of the blame, she told NBC “Today” co-anchor Meredith Vieira during an interview that aired July 28.


     “But the very idea that the Republicans would say, but for offshore drilling our economy would be great – it’s really, it’s a hoax,” Pelosi said. “It’s really a hoax on the American people.”


     “First of all, it will not bring down the price of the pump for 10 years and only two cents at that,” Pelosi said. “Second of all, the jobs numbers, the fragility of our financial institutions, the downturn in the capital markets – all of these things, the energy prices to reiterate. All of these things contributing to that and these are the policies, the economic policies of the Bush administration which have failed and we have to take the country in a new direction.”


     Vieira didn’t ask Pelosi about the procedural tactics she has employed to prevent a vote on drilling. Roll Call newspaper reported on July 14  that Pelosi was preventing an up-or-down vote on offshore drilling. She placed the vote on the suspension calendar – a method used to block “popular-sounding bills.”


     “The suspension calendar has become the Democratic leaders’ favorite weapon for jamming Republicans who either must capitulate or be blamed for blocking popular-sounding bills,” Steven T. Dennis wrote for Roll Call. “And for Democrats, it’s all done without having to deal with difficult votes on pesky amendments such as oil drilling or gun control.”


     “Using the tactic on energy legislation helps Pelosi sidestep amendments on opening up land to offshore drilling — amendments that could pass as gas prices soar and public opinions polls show overwhelming support for the idea,” Dennis’s article said.


     When Pelosi was asked what, if any role Congress played in the economic downturn she placed the brunt of the blame on President George W. Bush.


     “Well, let’s say this – there are cycles to economies, but the fact is the president of the United States – it’s on his watch that this economy is going in this direction,” Pelosi said. “We’ve had bad fiscal policy where the president has taken us deeply into debt in terms of our budget. We have had a focus on giving tax cuts to the wealthiest people in the country instead of investing more in new technologies and the rest to grow our economy.”


     Pelosi’s offshore drilling stance is the exact opposite of public sentiment. A June Zogby poll indicated 74 percent of Americans support offshore drilling in U.S. coastal waters.


     Polls also recently showed that a large majority of the public is unhappy with Congress. A July Rasmussen Reports poll found a nine percent approval rating for Congress, the first time in the poll’s history that Congressional approval had fallen to single digits.