Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference Today


Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference today.  Below is a transcript of the press conference:

Leader Pelosi Opening Remarks

Leader Pelosi.  Good morning, everyone.  It’s a morning in which we are waiting in anticipation to see what further harm the Republicans will do with their deficit increasing, job killing, tax-cutting for the rich bill that they are going to present today.

But what we do know is what they have voted on already, the budget, which is the framework for where we go from here.

Today they have started to unveil a tax bill designed to plunder the middle class in order to put [more money] into the pockets of the wealthiest 1 percent.

While Republicans ambush the American people with this half-baked tax bill, written in the dark, to be raced through Congress before it is understood, we already know some of what to be the truth.

It raises taxes on the middle class, millions of middle class families across the country; borrows trillions from the future, from our children and grandchildren’s future, to give tax cuts to the wealthiest; encourages corporations to ship jobs overseas.

And the budget ransacks Medicare, a half a trillion dollars cut from Medicare, and Medicaid, a trillion dollars cut from Medicaid.  Why?  To give a tax break to the wealthiest and the wealthiest corporations.

Democrats want real bipartisan tax reform.  We have always said we stand ready to join the Republicans at the table to produce growth, to create good paying jobs that reduce the deficit, that help keep America number one.

Instead, the Ryan-McConnell framework is not reform.  It is, again, a deficit exploding, multi-trillion dollar giveaway to the wealthiest and the corporations, delivered on the backs of our children, our seniors and hard-working Americans.

The priorities of the Ryan-McConnell bill have been clear from the start: perpetuating a catastrophic transfer of wealth from the middle class to corporations and the wealthy.  Say it over and over.

Now, here’s the thing.  It’s really so punitive to certain states and, to California, it is devastating.  It removes over $100 billion of possible tax deductions against – over $100 billion for our state.  Did they ever check with our economic or our finance department in our state to see what the impact would be on that state?  No.

The Republicans from California have gone straight down the line, like lemmings to the sea, to vote against the interests of their constituents, against the interests of our state.  But as some of our colleagues have said, ‘we who represent California think we represent a community of diverse people and the rest and that we have a commonality of interests.’

So not only are they hurting individuals, not only are they hurting the state writ large, they are hurting our sense of community, whether it’s because of the money they take out of the budget, their investments for the future, whether it’s harmful to our seniors, to our veterans.  And we are so proud to have so many veterans in California.

So every single California Republican voted for a budget resolution that made it possible for this harm to come to our state and we want their constituents to know about it, because we think if the truth is there, then perhaps they will change their vote or weigh in to get rid of these harmful deductions to the middle class, to our great state, and to the America people and to the middle class across the country.

And with that, I want to yield to our distinguished Chair of our California Delegation, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, who has brought such a large array of our beautiful diversity of California here, to talk about how we always think in a Democratic and Republican way, in a nonpartisan way, about representing the Golden State, and now our colleagues have gone off this deep end.  We want to pull them back.

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren.  Thank you.

You know, this is really pretty simple.  We were sent here not to harm our constituents or our State.

Unfortunately, all 14 Republicans in California showed more loyalty to the Republican leadership than they did to their own constituents when they voted for the budget.

For example, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher represents a district in Southern California.  The local and state deductions claimed by middle class families in his district, 78,074 families claim that deduction.  The average deduction was $18,200.  What did Dana do?  Dana voted to raise their taxes.  Dana voted to hurt his own constituents.

We say enough is enough, time to stand up for our people in California, for the economy of our state, for the people who sent us here and who employ us.

Barbara Lee represents a district in the East Bay.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee.  Thank you very much.

Congressman Darrell Issa voted for a GOP budget that makes it possible for Republicans to dismantle the state and local tax deduction claimed by, mind you, 180,616 families in his district.  That’s an average deduction of about $16,524.

Instead of double taxing middle class families, Congressman Darrell Issa should demand the Ryan-McConnell tax bill leave this vital deduction alone.  Hopefully his constituents will demand that.

Thank you.

Congresswoman Judy Chu.  As a member of Ways and Means Committee, I know all too well how harmful removing this deduction will be.  And it is outrageous that Congressman Ken Calvert voted for a GOP budget that makes it possible for Republicans to dismantle the state and local tax deductions.  This means that he will raise taxes on 80,530 families in his district because they can no longer claim the average deduction of $9,699.

Instead of double taxing middle class families, Congressman Ken Calvert should demand the Ryan-McConnell tax bill leave this vital deduction alone and he should stop hurting middle class families.

Congressman John Garamendi.  Forty million people live in California.  Seven hundred plus thousand live in [Congressman] Jeff Denham’s district.  101,000 of his constituents are going to face a whopping tax increase because he has set in place the budget.  It’s $9,792 of lost deductions as a result of what Mr. Denham has done.

Mr. Denham, my message to you in the Central Valley, which you and I both represent, is you better pay attention to your constituents.  They don’t want their taxes raised, but that’s exactly what you voted to do when you voted for the budget.  And now we’re going to see the Ryan-McConnell bill, we’ll follow very closely, Mr. Denham, what you’re doing to harm your 101,000 constituents.

Congresswoman Grace Napolitano.  Well, not only is California a donor state, which will affect other states because they won’t get the help they need from California’s dollars, Congressman Doug LaMalfa has voted for the GOP budget that makes it possible for Republicans to dismantle the state and local tax deduction claimed by 113,355 families in his district, an average deduction of $10,546.  Imagine what that money can do for the families, for education, for whatever they need.

Instead of double taxing middle class families, he should demand the Ryan-McConnell tax bill leave this vital deduction alone and help his families.  They will be looking for that during election time.

Congressman Brad Sherman.  I’m [Congressman] Brad Sherman.  I happen to be a CPA and for 5 years I headed the major state and local tax collection agency in California.  This deficit-exploding, job-killing plan to enrich billionaires will devastate California families, particularly those who live in Congressman Steve Knight’s district.

Unfortunately, Mr. Knight voted for the GOP budget that makes it possible for Republicans to dismantle the state and local tax deduction.  That deduction is claimed by 117,394 families in his district, and the average deduction is some $16,723.

Instead of double taxing his own constituents, Knight should demand that the tax bill contain a full deduction for state and local taxes for three reasons.

First, income tax is the ability to pay.  If your money is taken out of your paycheck and sent to Sacramento, you don’t have the ability to pay.

Second, if you don’t take benefit from this deduction on your tax return, there are a lot of families in Steve Knight’s district that don’t, you’re sucking $100 billion out of the California economy and sending it to Washington and Texas.  That’s bad for everyone who lives in Steve Knight’s district.

And, finally, the purpose, if you read the think tanks, of getting rid of the State and Local Tax Deductions is to cause a slashing of state and local expenditures, to turn California into Mississippi, and that hurts all the families, not just 117,000 families in Steve Knight’s district.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters.  I’m Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and I love my state of California.

Can you believe that Majority Leader Congressman Kevin McCarthy is leading the so-called tax reform bill that basically cuts the taxes of the wealthiest people in this country?  He voted for a GOP budget that makes it possible for Republicans to dismantle the state and local tax deduction, claimed by 140,000 families in his district, and particularly in his city of Bakersfield, an average deduction of $14,370.

So instead of double taxing middle class families, Congressman Kevin McCarthy should demand the Ryan-McConnell tax bill leave this vital deduction alone.

Congressman Alan Lowenthal.  Why are California Republicans different than Republicans throughout the Nation?  You know when we’re talking about the State and local tax deductions that Republicans, many of their colleagues from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, they voted not to support taking away state and local taxes.  But every California Republican voted to stick it to the people of their district and the people of California by voting to take away this deduction.

For example, Congressman Devin Nunes voted for a GOP budget that makes it possible for the Republicans to dismantle this state and local tax deduction that was claimed by 36,733 people and families in his district.  That was an average deduction of $9,844.

Instead of double taxing middle class families, which California Republicans want to do, Congressman Devin Nunes should demand that the Ryan-McConnell tax bill leave this vital deduction alone.

Congresswoman Doris Matsui.  Hi.  I’m Doris Matsui from Sacramento, California.

Congressman David Valadao, from the Central Valley of California, voted for a GOP budget that makes it possible for Republicans to dismantle the state and local tax deduction claimed by 95,418 families in his district, an average deduction of $9,932, which means a big hole in their budget.

Instead of double taxing middle class families, Congressman David Valadao should demand that the Ryan-McConnell tax bill leave this vital deduction alone.

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard.  Another unconscionable vote by a Republican Californian is that of Congressman Paul Cook, who voted for a GOP budget that makes it possible for the Republicans to dismantle the state and local tax deduction claimed by 57,310 families in his district.  That is an average deduction of $8,845.

Instead of double taxing middle class families in his own district, Congressman Paul Cook should demand the Ryan McConnell tax bill leave this vital deduction alone.

Congressman Salud Carbajal.  Hi.  I’m Congressman Salud Carbajal.

[Congressman] Tom McClintock wants to give his wealthy friends a gift.  Congressman Tom McClintock voted for the GOP budget that makes it possible for Republicans to dismantle the state and local tax deductions claimed by 139,000 families in his district [with] 139,000 families an average deduction of $11,802.

Instead of double taxing middle class families, Congressman Tom McClintock should demand the Ryan-McConnell tax bill leave this vital deduction alone.  Stop giving a gift to his wealthy friends.

Congressman Ro Khanna.  I’m Ro Khanna.

Congresswoman Mimi Walters voted for a GOP budget that increases the taxes on 78,074 middle class families.  She voted to eliminate an average deduction of almost $18,200.

Now, I know how much pressure Congresswoman Walters is facing from the White House and the party, but I hope she ultimately does the right thing and votes with her constituency.  Thank you.

Congressman Ted Lieu.  Hello.  I’m Congressman Ted Lieu.

None of us here are opposed to tax reform.  We’re opposed to stupid tax reform.  And, boy, is this a really stupid plan for California, New York, New Jersey, and other states.  It’s going to jack up taxes on middle class families to pay for tax breaks for the rich.

For example, in Congressman Duncan Hunter’s district, he voted for a GOP budget that’s going to dismantle the state and local tax deduction claimed by over 183,000 families in his district, with an average deduction of over $12,808.

Instead of double taxing middle class families, Congressman Hunter should demand the Ryan-McConnell tax bill leave this vital deduction alone.

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo.  Good morning.  Anna Eshoo.

Whenever you carry a quote from us, print our names, in parentheses as ‘CA’ – California.  And California is a place that is the envy of the nation and the world, for many, many reasons.  Now we have a party that has always railed against any kind of tax increase, with 14 California Republicans betraying not only California, but most importantly, their constituents.

Ed Royce voted for the GOP budget.  Listen to this number.  The state and local tax deduction is claimed    I think of all of the Members that are here, this is the largest number it’s claimed by 211,760 families in his congressional district, with an average deduction of $15,575.

For 14 Republicans from California to march to the tune of their leadership and turn their backs on their constituents really takes everyone’s breath away.

And I would call on Ed Royce to turn around and hold the mirror up to his constituents and be a responsible Californian and pay attention to them.  The middle class is the backbone of our country, and if we’re going to take a hatchet to the middle class, the whole country is going to pay the price.

Thank you.

Leader Pelosi.  I thank my colleagues for the great pride they show, that we take in representing the great State of California.  It is a state in the Union.  It is a state of mind.  It is a place where people really want to grow and build community.  That is why it is so sad to see the betrayal perpetrated by our Republican colleagues on their constituents, on our sense of community, in our great state.

So in California alone there are 6 million households who use the deduction, with an average of more than $18,000.

The middle class is struggling.  We talk about having issues that relate to income instability, disparity of income and the rest.  But in community, home ownership is a source of strength and dedication to your community, whether it’s through home ownership or just being a taxpayer in your community.

Not to be able to deduct that really seriously undermines the financial stability of families in California.  It is rubbing salt in the wound of their financial instability, state and local taxes.

And we would hope that our colleagues would use their numbers, 14, to influence the Republican leadership to take this out of the bill, a bill that’s a disaster in so many other respects as well.

But short of that, we indict them for causing great harm to their constituents, financially, community wise, and to our great state.  Are they so weak that 14 of them could not weigh in and say, ‘This is just not right for the future of our country?’  Not even speaking from the standpoint of our state, for the future of our country.

So this is a fight that we are in, and there are many things that we criticize about the Republican budget, how it increases taxes on the middle class, ransacks Medicare, Medicaid, gives tax breaks.  Why?  To give tax breaks to [the] high end.  Undermines the health and wellbeing of the American people, to our veterans, to children, to our seniors.

You name it, everybody pays a price in this budget, because its priority is to help the wealthy.  That’s in their DNA, and clearly it is in the DNA of the Republicans of California if they go along with this.

Have they no power?  Have they no influence with the Republicans?  Well, we’ll just see.  But we want to make sure that if they needed any clarification or explaining, that their constituents have the facts and can tell them the truth about what they’re doing.

Thank you, my colleagues, for coming today.  Thank you so much.