Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered the following remarks at the United Steelworkers and the BlueGreen Alliance Rally today:
“Thank you all very much. Good morning. Thank you, Leo Gerard, for your wonderful, great leadership. Thank you to David Foster, to Kathleen Rest. I’m honored to join Gene Green, my colleague from the House of Representatives from Texas, Rosa DeLauro, our colleague who has been fighting for this infrastructure bank as long as I can ever remember. And again, to all of our colleagues who, over the course of the past few days, have joined you. I thank you once again for honoring George Miller the other night. I was happy to be with many of you there when the BlueGreen alliance honored him. So I’m trying not to repeat what I said the other night, to associate myself with the remarks of my colleagues so we’re not repetitive. But I just want to put things in a little bit of perspective right now, as I thank all of you. Leo has been the best, the BlueGreen Alliance – thank you, David Foster and Kathleen Rest. They have been the best in bringing public sector, private sector, union and the rest together. And that is what our alliance has been for a while.
“But as you know, it’s a very tough struggle. When I became Speaker my flagship issue was the climate energy issue, because I knew that this was the challenge for our generation. Not only was it a challenge, it was an opportunity – an opportunity as we review the fact that the infrastructure was deteriorating. And David talked about that – deteriorating to the tune of trillions of dollars, and we knew that that needed to be addressed. And as it was addressed, we wanted it to be addressed in a green way. It was good for jobs in America. It was good for our preeminence in the world.
“And so, at that time, we came together and it was a four pronged thing. We said: it’s in our national security to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It is in our economic interest to be number one in innovation and building our infrastructure in a green way – and by the way, that’s what China is doing. And, it is in our interest – our health interest of our children – to have clean air to breath. And what we were doing was about that as well. And time is running out. And the fourth was that it was our moral responsibility – we had the cooperation along the way of concerned scientists and evangelicals, of business and labor, of environmentalists and labor, we had every good combination. And the reason we had evangelicals, and still do? Because they believe, as do I, that this planet is God’s creation, and we have a moral responsibility to be good stewards of it and to protect it.
“But if you don’t even go that far, we all know that we have a moral responsibility to the next generation to pass on a planet that is sound and to pass it on better than we found it. All of that is an opportunity for job creation. So things are coming together. We have a vision about creating jobs and protecting the environment and honoring our moral responsibilities and protecting our country. We know what the stakes are.
“We also have a plan to get it done, and Rosa was very specific with the infrastructure bank. That’s the place where it all comes together. And we have voices out there to be a drumbeat across our country. And there are those who will stand in our way, because of their financial interest, but we have nothing less at stake than the air that our children and our grandchildren breath, the preeminence of America as number one. So they pushed back and now we have to push back.
“And at the same time, there’s another current that is coming and that is on the issue of trade. And over the years, we’ve always made the environment and jobs a standard which a trade agreement had to meet. There’ve been representations and misrepresentations about how this goes on. I told, as recently as yesterday, Chairman Camp, I said: ‘We cannot support Camp-Baucus. We cannot support Camp-Baucus.’
“I don’t know of much support in our caucus for that. And I said: ‘For all the reasons that we always fight, and now currency manipulation is a smack in the face of American workers.’ Currency manipulation: a predictable, clear path to job loss, unless the White House and the Congress hit that issue head on.
“You know there’s been no fast track – you see the date 2007. In 2007, the Democrats were in the majority. President Bush said he was going to be sending over fast track. According to the rules of the House, it had to be taken up immediately. So what did we do with the leadership and the majority? We changed the rules of the House. No fast track. And that’s why there’s been no fast track since 2007.
“Not that it was defeated. We just changed the rules and said: ‘This is not how we’re going to operate here.’ We are giving leverage to America’s workers. We are not creating a clear path to lose jobs, so understand that. And that’s why there has been no clear path, for now seven years, for them to bring something up.
“So again, in relation to all we talked about before about the need for us to build the infrastructure of America in a very clean way, we have to build the financial infrastructure of America and the globe in a clean way that protects jobs in our country. No other country would put their workers at risk. All of these countries that engage in these trade agreements put their workers first, and so do we.
“So we have again a challenge of a generation with things coming together: trade, infrastructure, a bank, thinking in new ways. This can be a transformative time in the life of our country. In fact, it must be. Because we always talk about issues about survival – how do we help people survive? And then how do we help them succeed? And what can we do that is transformative, that removes all doubt that they will survive and they will succeed, because the arena is there for them – an environment in which they can succeed?
“So this is about just: show us what you are talking about. We can counter it. We need transparency. We need a seat at the table to understand what they believe they are doing, so we can make it better. And if we don’t make it better, then we will not accept a path that is a job loser.
“So again, Rosa has the infrastructure bank – the creation of jobs to restore confidence in our economy. And the BlueGreen Alliance knows this better than anybody. This is as simple as ‘A, B, C.’ A: ‘Make It In America.’ ‘Make It In America’ - American made.
“Have a tax policy that rewards businesses that create jobs in the U.S., not a tax code that rewards business for sending jobs overseas. Is that not the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard? ‘Make It In America.’
B: Build the infrastructure of America with products made in America. Build the infrastructure of America.
“And C: Community. Make decisions – corporate America and government – make decisions that respect all of the stakeholders, not just shareholders in a company. All of the stakeholders. That means workers, it means customers, it means the community at-large. Understand it in a community sense – a responsibility to educate our children, to protect our neighborhoods, to have the infrastructure needed to improve the quality of life. Simple as A, B, C.
“We have a path. We have a vision. We know what we’re talking about. We have a strategic plan to get it done, and we just have to keep continuing to communicate the message. Because this is the moment. This is a moment of transformation for our country. We’ll go one way or another. And we’re going the way that gives the leverage to the worker, starts to end the disparity in income that has grown in our country, which has its own immorality – and I know Bernie Sanders has always spoken very effectively about that – to have a situation where we change.
“Forty years ago, no less a person than the Chairman of Standard Oil of New Jersey said they had something called ‘Community Corporate Responsibility.’ That is to say, it would be corporate decisions that were made about what I just said: the workers, the management, the customers, and the community at-large. And at that time, as productivity rose, workers’ wages and salaries rose, corporate income rose. But everything rose with productivity. So that was about 40 times difference between CEO and worker. Because we’ve moved from that, from stakeholder corporate decision-making to shareholder decision-making, we now have productivity rising – American workers are the most productive in the world – and wages stagnant. Corporate pay is going like that – a right angle going in the wrong direction – and the disparity is 350 times or 400 times, instead of 40 times, CEO to worker. How could anybody think that that is okay? How can anybody believe that strengthens the middle class in our country? The middle class is the backbone of our democracy.
“So I come to thank you for your patriotism – for your patriotism, because our country is a country that respects people, the value of their work. Now I’m just going to put one little pitch in here for, ‘When Women Succeed, America Succeeds,’ and as the President said: ‘And so do men.’ This is Rosa’s idea. I didn’t come in at the beginning of her remarks, and I don’t know if she talked about it. But it’s three-prongs. It’s just about valuing work and could apply to men and women. Raise the minimum wage, raise the minimum wage. Of course, we want pay equity: equal pay for equal work. Paid sick leave: how can, in the United States of America, some people have not one day of sick leave? And childcare, early childhood learning: when children are learning, parents are earning. We believe in unleashing the power of women. We believe, as other heads of state have told us in my office, this is how we’re going to grow our economy – by unleashing the power of women.
“So we have a lot going on, all coming together. We have a plan to get it done. And all we have to do is beat this drum across America, to give the American people hope that everybody understands the problem – that we have a plan to get it done, that we’re listening to their solutions, and that we’re never going to rest until we honor our oath of office to protect and defend our Constitution, which is about a democracy, and a middle class, again the backbone of that.
“So thank you. Invest in America: A, B, C. No on Fast Track – Camp-Baucus – out of the question. Out of the question.
“So Leo Gerard, what a guy. I guess he’s proud to be born in Canada. Who knows how far he might have gone if he was born across the border. But he’s gone very far, and he’s taken us all with him. So thank you all very much. Thank you, BlueGreen Alliance.”