As the controller of an overwhelming number of Democratic votes, she’s there to warn all negotiators, including Obama himself, not to cut a bad deal.Pelosi's express rejection of benefit cuts to Medicare and Social Security aren't just an admonishment to Republicans, but a reminder to Democrats to stand by their principles. She's giving Democrats the buttressing that they'll need to withstand the constant pressure the Very Serious People will exert to make sure the poor and elderly suffer in this process in the name of balance.
“Leader Pelosi is playing offense on the middle class tax cuts bill,” says a House Democratic leadership aide. “She’s unifying the House Democrats around an action they can all support, while also reminding all the negotiators at the table that you can’t reach a deal without changes in tax rates on the wealthy.”
That’s as much a warning to Obama as it is to Boehner. Until recently Obama had left himself enough wiggle room to accept a deal that would raise revenue from top earners by limiting their deductions instead of increasing their income tax rates.
Because Senate Democrats passed legislation in August to permanently extend middle-income tax cuts, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell have been sidelined for the moment by dint of circumstance.
Pelosi’s role, in effect, is to make sure the Senate bill comes up for a vote in the House, ideally unchanged, so it can go straight to Obama’s desk for a signature. Most recently, she rejected House Republicans’ counteroffer to Obama, which would include benefit cuts to Medicare and Social Security.
She has her work cut out for her since she's got "help" from the likes of Rep. Steny Hoyer, who's trying to put benefit cuts to Social Security and Medicare right back on the negotiating table. It's going to be a long few weeks.