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Pelosi Floor Speech in Opposition to Republican Default Act

Washington, D.C. - Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this evening in opposition to the House Republican Default Act.  Below are the Leader's remarks:  

“Thank you very much, Madam Speaker.  I thank the gentle lady for yielding and commend her and her colleagues on the Rules Committee for their important work in bringing legislation to the floor. 

“Madam Speaker, the clock is ticking.  The clock is ticking on the need for us to raise the debt ceiling so that we do not default on our past obligations, that we uphold the full faith and credit of the United States of America.  

“As we continue this debate today, one thing is very clear to me: if our goal were to find deficit reduction in a balanced, bipartisan way, we could certainly do that.  We've had models, Simpson-Bowles.  We've had the ‘Gang of Six.'  We've had the President's conversations with Speaker Boehner.  We could find a path to very serious deficit reduction. 

“But I think it has become very clear that that is not the goal of the Republicans in the House of Representatives.  They keep moving the goal post, making it very evident that their goal is to reduce the public role in the lives of the American people.  That's why, in other legislation on the floor like the Interior bill that has been debated today, you see abandoning clean air standards, clean water, food safety. 

“I've said before, I come to this Congress as a mother and as a grandmother, and we all want to do the best for our children personally, but we need a public role--their education, again, clean air, clean water, food safety.  We can't do that for ourselves.  But part of this is to unravel, the Republican plan is to unravel 50 years, five decades at least, of bipartisan progress on behalf of America's middle class families. 

“Flat out, flat out, this bill, and the other bills accompanying it, will end Medicare, will end Medicare, will say to seniors, ‘You will pay more for your health care costs to get less, so that we can give tax breaks, tax subsidies to Big Oil.'  We will say to those families, ‘We are going to cut Medicaid and what that means to seniors in nursing homes so we can give tax breaks to corporations sending jobs overseas.'  We will say to young people, ‘You are going to pay more for your college loans so that we can give tax cuts to people at the highest end.'

“We all know that we have to participate in reducing the deficit.  Everybody has to ante up.  Why is it that the Republicans insist on having the middle class pay the price so that the high end is off the hook? 

“If we are concerned about the addressing of problems of the American people, we would end this debate.  This bill is going nowhere.  It is a total waste of time, and every day that we spend on these wastes of time that are not going anywhere is another day we are not talking about the highest priority of the American people, which is job creation, job creation, job creation.  That is their priority.  We have an obligation, an obligation to reduce the deficit and get on with it so we can create jobs. 

“If we are concerned about the economic security of the American people and their families, we must recognize that since the Republicans' most recent walking away from the table--they've done it on more than one occasion, but last Friday when the Speaker and the Republicans walked away from the table--since that day, the stock market has dropped 483 points.  The American people have lost over $400 billion dollars in their personal assets--$400 billion.  And every day that goes by, and if the market goes down anymore, it comes right out of what the American people have in their 401(k)s, and their pensions, and other pensions, their savings for their children's education, and that. 

“And so, you know, I remember when we had the debate on TARP.  We cooperated with President Bush at that time to bring legislation to the floor, very unpopular, probably the most unpopular vote any of us will have to take, but we were on the brink of a financial crisis and we had to act.  But the Republicans did not step up to the plate, and the market went down over, well 777 points the next day. 

“Is that what they are waiting for?  For the market to go down not 485 points in the last few days, but hundreds of points more, diminishing the personal assets and wealth of the American people?  I certainly hope not. 

“You know, when the Speaker walked away and he made his statement, Speaker Boehner, our Speaker, said we couldn't reach agreement, words to that affect, we couldn't connect because we have different visions of America.  Well, I believe the Speaker when he speaks, but I don't believe they have different visions of America. 

“President Obama's vision of America is one where we commit, we are committed to the education of our children, so they can reach their personal fulfillment, and our country through innovation continue to be number one, that we are committed to creating jobs, good-paying jobs, for America's workers.  I think that vision is a vision of the American people, the high ground of where we share values: the education of our children, jobs for our workers, the dignified retirement and health security for our seniors, and a personal safety, a national security for our people, all done in a fiscally-sound way.  

“I think that's common ground, on the high ground of values with--and if you believe that, if you agree with those values, as I think Speaker Boehner must agree with President Obama on that vision of America, you couldn't possibly vote for any of the legislation that the Republicans are bringing to the floor in these few days.  You couldn't possibly because they do, they do undermine the education of our children, the financial and health security of our seniors, the deep cuts early on curtail, hurt the economic recovery and the creation of jobs.  And it isn't in a fiscally sound way.  We've taken revenue off the table.  57 percent of the American people at least think we should have a balanced, bipartisan agreement to end this default and to do so in a way that doesn't take us down this path again. 

“So let's be clear.  What is on the floor today, balanced budget--balanced in what way?  Balanced in whose favor?  It looks like a see-saw to me, in favor of the haves at the expense of the great middle class in our country.  It must be rejected. 

“For every day that we waste on another Republican ideological ploy or scheme, is another day that we are not creating jobs.  Since the Republicans took office--which is over 200 days ago, last Saturday it was 200 days, going on 207--the only bills that they have brought to the floor, which they claim to be jobs bills, are not job creators.  They are job losers, job losers.  H.R. 1 loses about 700,000 jobs.  H.R. 2, a similar number.  H.R. 34, a similar number.  Nearly 2 million jobs lost--almost ten thousand jobs a day. They're losing. 

“And their infrastructure bill that they have brought into committee, not voted on it yet thank God, is estimated to lose another several hundred thousand jobs when it's supposed to be the big job creator.  Even the Chamber of Commerce has rejected it as something that will not only lose jobs, not create jobs, but will lose current jobs.

“So let's get on with the business of job creation.  Let's really be honest about what we're here to do in terms of deficit reduction--not use it as an engine for the destruction of the public role that is so important in the defense of our country, in the health of our children, in the security of our seniors and their retirement, the vitality and innovation of our economy, and again to do it in a way that is fiscally sound.

“I don't want to go into how we got here in the first place.  Whatever it is we have to go forward, and we must go forward the way the American people want us to do--bipartisan, balanced, and with an eye to job creation. 

“Reject what is on the floor now and support the American people.  We owe it to honor the sacrifice of our founders, the vision of our founders, the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform, the aspiration of our children and our families.  This budget should be a statement of values that honors all of that, and if we are to honor that we must reject what is being proposed here today.

“With that I yield back the balance of my time.”