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Pelosi Statement on Bipartisan Economic Stimulus Package

Washington, D.C. -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the floor this afternoon stating her support for the bipartisan economic stimulus package.  Below are her remarks:

'Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.  I thank the gentleman, Chairman Rangel, for his kind and generous remarks.  I especially thank him for his tremendous leadership, because under his leadership we are able today to vote on something that is relevant to the lives of the American people.  I commend Republican Leader John Boehner for his leadership as well.  It's been a privilege to work in a bipartisan way to help alieve the pain of the American people. 

'For a long time now, homemakers, homeowners, and hard workers across America have known that there was a problem looming in our economy.  They had a hard time making ends meet, living paycheck to paycheck, with the rising cost of gasoline, groceries, health care, you name it.  The American families felt this pain earlier on and they knew that our economy was facing perhaps a serious downturn, but a downturn nonetheless. 

'On December 7, we had a bipartisan meeting with leaders in the business community, economists, leaders of industry, labor, and the academic community - representing workers and the diversity of our country - and we talked about what we could do to head off a serious downturn in our economy.  We knew from that meeting that it would have to be timely, that we would need to act quickly; that it would have to be targeted, it would be targeted to those who would put money in the pocket of hard-working Americans who would immediately spend the money to meet their needs, inject demand into the economy, to help create jobs; and it had to be temporary.  The tax incentives in the package would have to be such that they would have to be acted upon in this calendar year so that the full impact could be felt for job creation and stimulus for the economy. 

'Previous stimulus packages have not had that.  They had a two year period of time in which the incentives would work and therefore they lost impact.  Previous stimulus packages did not have a cap on who received the rebate or the tax cut, as Senator Baucus calls it.  And so therefore a lot of money went to the hands of people who never really spent it or injected it back into the economy.  But this is timely.  We are acting quickly, not hastily, and firmly in a disciplined way on a package that has as its one criterion, for anything that's in the package, is is it stimulus?  Is it stimulus?  And does it enable us to move in a timely fashion, targeted, and temporary?

'I was pleased when working with my colleague, Mr. Boehner, and the Administration, under the leadership of Secretary Paulson, that we were able to come to terms on how we would proceed.  We could only do that because of the extraordinary respect that Congressman Rangel, Chair of the

House Ways
and Means Committee, holds, Congressman McCrery, ranking member on the Ways and Means Committee, and them working cooperatively as they have for awhile.  We could only include in the package those features that related to the subprime crisis, because of the extraordinary reputation of the distinguished Chairman of the Financial Services Committee, Mr. Barney Frank, because he understands the terms under which we want it to proceed and respecting his expertise in those areas and those of Senator Baucus as well. 

'So this has been bipartisan in terms of committee, in terms of working together over time, and bipartisan in terms of the leadership working together in a short time frame, benefiting from the work that had gone before us. 

'It's important in this package to have a level of discipline because of the features that the economists, business leaders, labor leaders, et cetera told us in the course of all of these discussions is that you don't want to do anything to the stimulus package that will hinder your ability to act in a recovery.  So it's important that this bill does not get overloaded.  I have a full agenda of things I'd like to have in the package, but we have to contain the price, and in doing so, you have to establish your priorities.  And the priority we had was to put $28 billion dollars in the hand of 35 million families who had never received a rebate or a child tax credit before, and to do it quickly.  That was our priority.  Because to do that, again, is true stimulus.  All the other things, while worthy and important - again we made a decision because that's where we could find our common ground. 

'But if we heap too much on top of the package, it will then take us deeply into debt, and paygo is important to us, and while in recession it will take a law to take certain initiatives.  You don't want to abuse that by, again, adding to the deficit for items in the package that are not strictly timely, temporary, and targeted for stimulus.

'So I think we have a good product here.  It's all a compromise, it's all about decisions and priorities that have to be established.  But it also speaks to the fact that we need to work in a bipartisan way to have a very aggressive initiative for job creation in our country.  And we've already laid the framework for that in a bipartisan way.  We've had overwhelming votes in this Congress, for example, on SCHIP, expanding health care to many more children in America.  Health care needs trained professionals - every aspect of the delivery of health care - so it creates good paying jobs in America when you expand health care accessibility to Americans.  

'Education, innovation, all of those are about keeping us competitive, keeping us number one, again, creating good paying jobs in America so that we prevail in the workplace and the global market place.  When we talk about infrastructure, we must have a package for rebuilding our roads, the highways, transit, taking initiatives for new projects as well, creating good paying jobs in America. On global warming we as a generation, as a Congress, will be judged on how we deal with the issue of the global climate crisis.  This affords us a whole new world of job opportunity, where we're all on the ground floor largely, where we go into urban America, in our inner cities, where we go to rural America, and create good paying green jobs that are new.  It's about being entrepreneurial about this, to think in new and difference ways.  It's about how our decisions have to be seen in light of do they create good paying jobs in America. 

'So again, while we stand ready to present a stimulus.  If need be, we want to, in a long term, longer term than a stimulus, create jobs to avoid such a downturn, and in any event, raise the living standard of the American people.  And so whether it's about this rebate and what it means, these hard-working Americans who are facing rising costs and need help to live paycheck to paycheck - and I'm telling you that not just the working poor.  It is the middle class in America.  This is a middle-class tax rebate bill.  We call it the Recovery Rebate of Economic Stimulus for the American People Act.  It targets the middle class and those who aspire to it.  And for that same middle class, we must have an ongoing aggressive initiative for job creation across the board for America's families to have the confidence that they need, because in a downturn, what you need is confidence.  You need consumer confidence, you need confidence in the markets, and you need a message of confidence.  And that's what is given to the American people when Members of Congress can work with the Administration in a bipartisan way to put the American people first. 

'I think it's a good day for us here and let's hope for the Senate to take their lead from us and be disciplined, focused, fiscally responsible, and act in a timely, temporary, and targeted way on behalf of meeting the needs of the American people.'