Mona Charen

Her opponent grabbed his 15 minutes of fame by depicting Nancy Pelosi as the Wicked Witch of the West in a campaign spot -- a sophomoric attempt at humor that accomplished nothing except to generate sympathy for its target.

Not that Pelosi deserves kid gloves -- far from it. She, more even than President Obama, is the spirit of the age in which we live. It is her legislation, her attitudes, and her legacy on which we will vote a month from now. Her effect on the nation has been enormous. And while it's doubtful that even Moses could defeat her in California's 8th district (maybe especially not Moses), her record deserves the right kind of scorn, not a cartoon.

Speaker Pelosi, more than anyone else, is responsible for the $800 billion stimulus bill. Placed in charge of boosting the economy by the new president, Pelosi essentially dumped the contents of her "in" box into legislation. Pretty much everything that any Democratic member of Congress, big city mayor, or liberal governor had ever asked for was enacted. It was urgent after all. Pelosi explained that, "Every month that we do not have an economic recovery package, 500 million Americans lose their jobs. I don't think we can go fast enough to stop that."

And so we wound up with, among so many other projects, $15 billion for Pell grant scholarships (which make college more expensive), $1 billion for "community development block grants" (pork for cities), $145 billion for "making work pay" tax credits and $83 billion for the earned income tax credit (income transfers), $89 billion for Medicaid (more income transfers), $36 billion for unemployment benefits (ditto), $20 billion for food stamps (ditto), $30 billion for COBRA insurance extension (ditto), $79 billion for the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (rewarding states that overspent at the expense of more frugal ones), $4.2 billion for "neighborhood stabilization activities" (we can only guess), and assorted special interest goodies like $400 million for global warming research, $150 million for "producers of livestock, honeybees, and farm-raised fish," $335 million for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, and $55 million for the Historic Preservation Fund.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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