Washington, D.C. - Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor today in opposition to the Ryan Republican Budget, which ends the Medicare guarantee, gives tax breaks to wealthy Americans and threatens basic health care for all Americans by repealing the Affordable Care Act. Below are the Leader's remarks:
“Thank you very much Mr. Speaker. I thank the distinguished Ranking Member of the Budget Committee for yielding. Tell him how proud he makes us all, for his important work in constructing a Democratic alternative to the Republican budget that is, Mr. Van Hollen's budget proposal, is a statement of our national values. It says to the American people: ‘what is important to you, about the education and health and well-being of our children, the economic security of their families, the health security of our seniors. Those are important values to us.' And those values are reflected in the Democratic alternative.
“The Ryan Republican bill, on the other hand, I do not believe is a statement of our national values, as to what is important to the American people as reflected in their budget priorities. But you be the judge. Would it be a statement of your values? If you had a budget that said to seniors: ‘we're going to end the Medicare guarantee. And you're going to pay $6,000, or more, while you get less, in-terms of benefits. While at the same time, we're going to give an over $300,000 tax break to the wealthiest people in our country.' Would that be a statement of your values? Six-thousand dollars more for seniors for fewer benefits. Three-hundred thousand dollars, or more, to the richest people in our country.
“Would it be a statement of values for you, my colleagues, and the American people you represent, if you had a budget that said to Big Oil: ‘we're going to continue to subsidize you to the tune of tens of billions of dollars, but at the same time, we're going to freeze Pell Grants. We're going to eliminate them for 400,000 young people, and make them less available to over nine-million young people. Lower the benefit for some, to eliminate it for others, and use the money to give tax subsidizes to Big Oil. Big Oil, which is making tens of billions of dollars in record profits each year.
“Would it be a statement of your values, if you said in your budget that: ‘all of those young people who now have children, who have a preexisting medical condition - asthma, diabetes, birth defect, any of those preexisting medical conditions,' under present law, under the Affordable Care Act, they may not be discriminated against in obtaining health insurance, but the Republican budget says they should be, because we're going to eliminate that. To the 2.5 million young people who are now on their parents policies until they're 26-years-old, this budget says ‘no' to you too. We're eliminating that - we're too busy giving tax breaks to the richest people in America. And while we're at it, with young people just graduating from college, some of them may have student loans, and in the House budget, thank you Mr. Van Hollen, we have a provision that says that: ‘come July 1st, the interest on those loans will not double.' We have taken care of that. Under the circumstance the interest rates would go from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. The House Democratic budget says ‘no' to that doubling of interest. The Republican budget keeps it the same.
“That's just to name a few things that I think may not be a statement of the values of the American people. Whether it's interest paid on student loans, the availability of Pell Grants to young people, ending the Medicare guarantee, and as the distinguished Ranking Member said right now, today - overturning the resources that were put in the Affordable Care Act to narrow the donut hole. Maybe five-million seniors have benefited, to the tune of 3.2 billion dollars, already in the bill. Also, their preventive care, preventive services, their annual wellness visit without a co-pay.
“So, we're talking about kitchen table items for people, where people are trying to make ends meet. Where people wonder about if their children will be able to go to college. And if they do, will they be able to have health insurance, so when they look for a job they can reach their aspirations without having their choices narrowed by whether they have health insurance or not, until the bill comes into full effect.
“So, if there are just a couple of things that I would want people to know about this bill. They are: ends the Medicare guarantee, ends the Medicare guarantee, ends the Medicare guarantee, while making seniors pay more, for less, while giving over [$300,000] in tax breaks to the wealthiest people in our country, and by the way, did I mention it? It's a job loser. So, I urge my colleagues to enthusiastically support the House Democratic proposal. Which is a statement of our values. And which our distinguished colleague will present - I don't know if its tonight, or tomorrow morning, I understand that keeps changing.
“The House Democratic alternative invests in America's priorities: creates jobs, protects our seniors and our students, strengthens the middle class. Democrats protect Medicare, Republicans dismantle Medicare. [The] Democratic plan asks the wealthiest to pay their fair-share to put our fiscal house in order. The Republican plan gives them more than the tax breaks they had, they almost double their tax breaks. Our Democratic plan reflects the most enduring theme in America: the American dream. Democrats want to reignite the American dream, to build ladders of opportunity for all who want to work hard, play by the rules and take responsibility. It does this by investing in the small businesses and entrepreneurialism of our country, by strengthening the middle class. And in that regard, we believe that our budget is a statement of our values.
“We call upon our Republican colleagues to work with us on a budget that reflects our values. We must work together to protect and strengthen Medicare. We must put people back to work and build a broadly-shaped prosperity for all Americans. We must ‘Make It In America,' to stop the erosion of our manufacturing base. We must rebuild America, putting people back to work. We must do this with community involvement. And all of these things strengthen the middle class. Which is exactly what our Democratic alternative achieves.
“For the sake of our seniors, for our families, for our children, for our workers - I urge my colleagues to vote ‘no' on the Republican plan, which ends the Medicare guarantee, makes seniors pay $6,000, or more, for fewer benefits, while it gives $300,000 in tax breaks to the wealthiest people in the United States. And it costs us jobs to do so - doesn't reduce the deficit till nearly 2040. It's not a good deal for the American people. The Democratic budget is.
“I urge a ‘yes' on the Van Hollen budget, a ‘no' on the Ryan Republican Budget.”