Washington, D.C. --Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered opening remarks this morning at a forum held by the Democratic Steering & Policy Committee on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan. Below are her remarks:
“Thank you, Chairman Miller, Chairwoman DeLauro, and the membership of the Steering and Policy Committee for calling this important forum together so that we can address the important issue before us - a discussion about our economy and the well-being of our nation.
“Nothing could be clearer than the fact that we need action, and we need action now. A failure to act quickly can only lead to more job losses and more economic pain for Americans.
“If we act boldly and rapidly, we can begin to create new jobs and opportunities today, and strengthen our economy for the long term.
I want to thank our guests today. We're honored by the presence of: Dr. Mark Zandi; former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich; Martin Feldstein of great renown, thank you for being with us; Norman Augustine, author of the Gathering Storm, which focused the nation's attention on the critical need for investments in basic science and research; and Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“Thank you very much for being with us, all of you. You honor us with your presence and you inform us with your thinking. We are listening to what you have to say as a guide to go forward.
“It's important, because as you know, America faces an economic crisis, and the American people understand this crisis all too well. Every day, workers worry about losing their jobs, their homes, their retirement savings, their standard of living, and their chance at the American Dream.
“Since the recession began in December 2007, 2.7 million people have become unemployed. We've been asking for a recovery package all that time.
“Job losses were large and widespread across the economy in this fall, with 37 states experiencing growing unemployment in November.
“For example, in the construction industry alone, 82,000 workers lost their jobs in November, and 780,000 jobs have been lost in that sector since its peak in September 2006.
“With these statistics in mind, we must pass an economic recovery and jobs package no later than mid-February, in my view.
“Many will focus on the up-front cost of it. While we are not discussing small sums, the bill is fiscally responsible because it will provide a fiscal dividend by returning 40 percent of the cost to the treasury, at least that much in increased revenues.
“Equally important, this legislation will save or create 3 million jobs and help increase incomes for American workers.
“While there are many components to this economic recovery and jobs package. Make no mistake: this is not your grandfather's public works bill.
“Thanks to the leadership of our Chairmen on the Science Committee, Mr. Bart Gordon, and especially on Infrastructure, Mr. Oberstar, this is a smart, 21st century plan that will create new jobs by investing in a cleaner energy future. Mr. Waxman is working on that; strengthening high-tech infrastructure to bring the power of renewable energy and broadband to communities across America; and rebuilding our bridges, and modernizing our schools.
“This forum will demonstrate to the American public the need for this job and economic recovery package. Not just hearing from us, but hearing from the experts.
“We look forward to hearing from you today, and working in the days ahead with our President-elect so we have legislation before we observe President's Day this year.
“Now I wish to yield back to you, Chairman Miller, and acknowledge the great leadership of Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro on all of these issues as well.”