Washington, D.C. - Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks today at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Annual Conference Luncheon in Baltimore, Maryland. During the conference, mayors from all over the country will come together to discuss public policy issues impacting cities. Below are the Leader's remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Mayor Elizabeth Kautz, for your generous introduction and for your leadership. And congratulations on completing a successful term as President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
“It is always a pleasure to stand with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a strong leader for Los Angeles and the next President of this organization.
“I would also like to acknowledge: our host, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake - who, despite tight budgets, has kept her promise to strengthen public safety and put more police on the streets, and has invested in innovation and bio-tech, supporting the jobs of the future here in Baltimore; Mayor Ed Lee, leader of my hometown of San Francisco - who recently presented his budget for our city and received a standing ovation; and the former Mayor of Baltimore, my brother, Thomas D'Alesandro III.
“It is my honor to bring greetings to America's mayors on behalf of all Democrats in the United States Congress.
“The U.S. Conference of Mayors has come together at a critical moment for our cities and our country's future - a time of important decisions about how we invest in our future, create jobs, reduce our deficit, and grow our economy.
“Today, I've come to state my firm belief: that investing in America's cities is the answer to our economic crisis.
“Investments in our cities are an investment in our nation's economic growth - and in the health, economic security, and safety of our people.
“Whether it is Mayor Kautz's city of 60,000, Burnsville, Minnesota, where energy block grants are reducing emissions and creating jobs; or Mayor Villaraigosa's city of 4 million, Los Angeles, California, with their 30-10 initiative to invest in public transit - cities are central to our nation's success now and in the long term.
“Four years ago, the U.S. Conference of Mayors issued a clarion call to support ‘Strong cities…strong families…for a strong America.'
“Every year, mayors put forth your ‘Metro Agenda for America,' establishing the priorities of our cities: creating jobs, investing in clean energy and transportation, strengthening our schools and communities.
“Democrats in Congress appreciate the leadership of America's mayors. We must work together to bolster our nation.
“Working with you, Democrats will fight to defend critical investments in: the stability of our neighborhoods through affordable housing and community development block grants; the safety and security of our communities by putting more cops on the beat and investing in first responders and firefighters; the education of our children through school construction and teachers; the protection of our environment and the creation of jobs through energy efficiency initiatives.
“As we fulfill these commitments, we recognize that there is no greater challenge facing mayors, Members of Congress, or our entire nation than creating jobs.
“Cities are central to that task. Just consider the facts: In the United States, metropolitan areas account for 86 percent of employment, 90 percent of wage income, and, over the next 20 years, 94 percent of the nation's economic growth.
“Creating jobs is America's top priority. And we can do so by putting people to work building America.
“This drive is nothing new. In the early days of our Republic, at a time of sparse public resources and tight budgets, President Thomas Jefferson tasked his Secretary of the Treasury, Albert Gallatin to propose a plan to develop America's infrastructure.
“In the years that followed, our nation would build a legacy that lasts to this day in the Erie Canal, the transcontinental railway, and the Cumberland Road.
“At that time, such projects - to transport people and products, and promote commerce - were called ‘internal improvements.' Today, we continue that same legacy.
“America's mayors have named it “America Fast Forward,” a national jobs and transportation plan. I congratulate you on this bold initiative.
“These investments are critical to jobs and our future prosperity. Ignoring these investments, as Mayor Nutter told a recent congressional hearing, is a formula for the planned obsolescence of the economy of the United States of America.
“There are a variety of ideas about how best to fulfill this commitment: a National Infrastructure Bank to provide direct financing and grants to critical projects in our states and cities; Build America Bonds, spurring job creation at home by supporting projects to rebuild schools and transit lines; public-private partnerships, bringing the best of government and business together to create jobs across our country.
“Investing in building America is part of Democrats' ‘Make It In America' agenda to create jobs, spur innovation, and keep America number one.
“This plan - advanced by the Democratic Whip, and Marylander, Steny Hoyer - would halt the erosion of our manufacturing, technological, and industrial base. And it commits us to keeping jobs on our shores and making products in America, so our families can make it in America.
“As Mayors, you know what it means to tighten your belts without losing sight of your priorities and the needs of your communities.
“As the sister and daughter of two mayors of Baltimore, I know there is no buffer between you and local residents; you have a personal relationship with your constituents.
“And every day, you see the faces of a parent who has lost a job, families who lost their home, children in need.
“We all recognize that in these difficult times - for our economy and our budgets - we must make tough decisions.
“The Greeks have a word for it: ‘ananke.' In classical Greek, ananke means destiny. It also means scarcity.
“Times of scarcity are when our nation's true character emerges - for moments of scarcity challenge us to clarify our destiny, more sharply focusing our decisions and choices, holding us in good stead when times of plenty return.
“It is important, in leaner times, that we make decisions based on our values; that we simply don't settle for the common ground of cuts, but strive for a discussion on the higher ground of values.
“We must uphold our moral obligation to put people to work; to ensure a dignified retirement for our seniors; to educate our children, and to do so in a fiscally responsible way.
“If we agree on these values, we can't possibly make the cuts being proposed by some in Washington.
“In the debate currently taking place in Congress on our budget, we do not agree with the Republican plan that: ends Medicare while giving away tax breaks to Big Oil; slashes support for seniors in nursing homes while giving away tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas; cuts education for children and raises the cost of college while giving tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans, adding $1 trillion to the deficit; repeals health reform, which recognizes that health care is a right for all Americans, not just the privileged few.
“Today, we renew our pledge to America's mayors and to the American people: to choose a destiny that upholds our values.
“Our cities are critical to fulfilling this charge. As the prophet Jeremiah said: ‘…seek the peace and prosperity of the city…because if it prospers, you too will prosper.'
“Together, we must, and we will, ensure that our cities prosper, so our country can prosper.
“Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America.”