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Pelosi Floor Speech on House Democratic Budget Alternative

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi took to the House floor today to call upon House Republicans to reject the Ryan-Republican budget and instead support the House Democratic substitute bill that protects the priorities of America’s middle class families and seniors.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

“I thank the gentleman for yielding.  I thank him, Mr. Speaker, for his tremendous, tremendous leadership in giving an opportunity in the House today to vote on a budget that is a reflection of American values.  Values of work and jobs, of promoting them, a value of fairness, a value of advancing the success of America’s families.  I thank him for giving us a budget which – I think we can all be the judge.  We say that a budget is a statement of our national values, what is important to us as a nation is a place where we allocate our resources.  And this budget is in stark, absolute contrast, to the Republican budget that is on the floor today.

“Contrast number one: jobs.  The Republican bill, the Ryan-Republican budget is a job killer.  Nearly 2 million jobs lost right out of the gate.  And more lost after that.  Whereas the Van Hollen – Democratic substitute is a job creator.  It invests in rebuilding the infrastructure of America, of investment in innovation, energy, and education.  Speaking of infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers has given a D in terms of the condition of the infrastructure in our country.  So the need is there.  This budget recognizes that need, but it also does so in a way that creates jobs in a very innovative way.  It is in strong contrast when it comes to fairness.  Fairness as to how we, again, establish our priorities to invest in education, rather than continue to give tax breaks, loopholes that are unnecessary, unworthy of a values budget that the Republican budget continues.

“And in terms of our seniors, the contrast could not be greater.  The Ryan [Republican budget] – in ten years there will be no Medicare guarantee.  Flat out.  Absolutely.  There will be no Medicare guarantee.  And in the meantime, in the meantime, the Ryan [Republican] budget takes the resources that we have in the health care reform bill, repeals the bill, and takes the money and runs to give it to his priorities, rather than strengthening Medicare, and keeping it strong for a longer period of time.  Keeping the benefits that are in the Affordable Care Act, prevention and wellness services right from the start, closing the prescription drug donut hole, the list goes on.

“I listened intently to the gentle lady speak about our high school themed, 18 year olds, and where they’ll be when they’re 28 years old.  And since young people are always used as sort of the point of discussion, and rightfully so, we’re here to provide for their future.  I think it’s important to listen to what they have to say.  And the young people that have passed through the Capitol, as you know many do, I frequently invite to sit down and tell me what they would like us to say at the table of the discussion of the budget.  Especially when it comes to them, because we always say ‘we cannot heap mountains of debt on the next generation.’  I fully agree.  And that is why I support the Van Hollen budget.  For these young people say: ‘we want a strong education system.  A strong public education system.  We need student loans that are affordable.  We need Pell Grants.  We need our families to be able to focus on us.  And so we need Medicare and Medicaid so that our grandparents health needs are met for a long time to come, they hope, loving their grandparents.  But these young people want to be helpful in solving the budget crisis.  That’s what they have told us.  We want to do our share.

“The initiative that brings more money to the federal Treasury is the education, education, early childhood, K-12, higher education, higher, post-grad, all the rest of that, lifetime learning – nothing brings more money to the Treasury than educating the American people.  And that is why investing in education, creating jobs, that brings revenue.  It’s hard to see why we would put forth a budget that stifles, that stunts the growth of jobs, the growth of our economy with jobs, and our investments in education.  On the subject of education, tens of billions of dollars are struck in the Ryan-Republican anti-jobs bill.  In that job killer bill, tens of billions of dollars.  They say it’s better to give a tax break to a special interest, than to invest in the education of our children.  Would that be a statement of your national values, if you were writing a budget for our country?  I don’t think so.  It certainly was not a statement of the values of the young people who have come through here saying how they would help solve the budget deficit challenge we face.  We all know the deficit must be reduced.  We’ve known it for a long time.  We’ve recognized it for a long time.  President Clinton recognized it and took us on a path of fiscal soundness.  It was totally reversed, reversed in the Bush years when our Republican colleagues didn’t say a word.  They said: ‘no problem, it’s the appropriate percentage of GDP, no problem with the deficit.’  They never complained about it.

“But now, with their initiatives, the Ryan-Republican job killer budget is making matters worse in terms of reducing the deficit because it deprives our economy of the very initiatives that would create growth – the education of our people, lifetime learning for the American people, investments in education, as I’ve said, nothing brings more money, investments in jobs whether it’s infrastructure, energy, innovation – absent in the Ryan-Republican job killer budget.  Medicare, so important to the stability of America’s working families.  The provisions in the Affordable Care Act that affect Medicare have already demonstrated that it, halting the rapid increase in costs of health care spending.  And so that is what has enabled the CBO to say with more promise that we can use a different baseline to reduce the deficit.  And that has been used in the Republican budget.

“So, I urge my colleagues to think about the kitchen tables of people in our country.  We sit at a table here and have these discussions.  What’s really important is how the decisions we make here, what we think, and how that relates to the challenges they face.  The education of their children, how they’re going to be able to keep their home, keep their job, keep their pension.  All of this heaped one on top of another of concerns.  And the economic and health security of our seniors not only has an impact on them, the seniors, but on their families.  And if we’re going to be true to those young people, those 18 year olds, we must have to, recognize how important their education is, but also how important caring for their grandparents is to the economic success of their entire family.

“And I’ll end where I began.  The most important part of all of this, is this issue of jobs, jobs, jobs, and the fairness in our budget to promote jobs and to reduce the deficit for the success of America’s families.  The choice is clear: job killer Ryan-Republican budget bill, job creator Van Hollen substitute bill.  I urge my colleagues to support the Van Hollen bill and yield back the balance of my time.”