Pelosi Floor Speech in Opposition to Republicans’ Balanced Budget Amendment


Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks of the Floor of the House expressing her opposition Republicans’ balanced budget amendment which would brazenly attack Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Below are the Leader’s remarks:

Leader Pelosi.  I thank the gentleman for yielding. It’s interesting to note, Mr. [Steve] Cohen is a Member of the Judiciary Committee. This is a balanced budget amendment and what’s interesting is, it’s not coming by way of the Budget Committee, as you might suspect. It’s coming by way of the Judiciary Committee because it intends to amend the Constitution of the United States. How sad.

Mr. Speaker, as you know, Members of Congress take an oath to support and defend the Constitution, yet this proposed amendment we are debating does great harm to our sacred founding document.

This legislation is a brazen assault on seniors, children and working families – the American people we were elected to protect. Make no mistake, this GOP con job has nothing to do with fiscal responsibility. It is not balanced in terms of money because of their GOP Tax Scam that’s placed us in a bad spot fiscally and it’s not balanced in terms of values.

To the Republicans, fiscal responsibility just means ransacking Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and breaking our nation’s sacred promise of dignity and security for seniors and families.

Republicans like to pat themselves on the back and play lip service to the idea of fiscal responsibility. In fact, the deficit hawks have either become an endangered species or extinct. They don’t seem to exist in this Republican House of Representatives.

It may be counterintuitive to the public, but Democrats have always been the ones who have fought to put our fiscal house in order. In the 1990s, President Clinton put us on a trajectory of job growth and smaller deficits, despite inheriting the massive Reagan-Bush deficit.

The last four, some would even say five, conservatively speaking, the last four Clinton budgets were either in balance or in surplus. President Clinton handed President George W. Bush a projected $5.6 trillion 10-year budget surplus, but Republicans squandered that surplus with massive tax cuts for the wealthy and two unpaid-for wars. Their spending sprees exploded a vast new $5 trillion-plus debt – that was an $11 trillion turnaround from the Democrats’ path to surplus.

Under President Obama, then, Democrats restored responsibility to spending rules. We had Pay-As-You-Go. Do you want to invest in something? You must cover it. You must offset it or pay for it. That held true for investments, as well as for tax cuts.

Republicans didn’t mind paying for food stamps, but they did mind paying for tax cuts for the rich. That they wanted to have exempted from Pay-As-You-Go.

This Republican Congress, despite President Obama’s restoring responsible spending rules and slashing the Bush deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars, this Republican Congress has raced back toward fiscal ruin, recklessly erasing that progress and exploding the debt with their contempt for fiscal responsibility.

Republicans exploded deficits by more than $2 trillion with their GOP Tax Scam and its massive handouts to corporations and the wealthiest 1 percent.

Just this week, the CBO exposed the staggering cost of the Republican special interest agenda, forecasting deficits of nearly $1 trillion or more every year President Trump remains in office.

Understand that the Trump trillion-dollar deficit is here for the life of his presidency. May that be sure. Yet, Republicans have the nerve to demand that seniors and little children sacrifice to pay for their tax cuts for the rich and corporate America, for their fiscal recklessness.

GOP has nothing but contempt for the health and security of America’s families. The Trump Budget slashed a half trillion dollars from Medicare, $1.4 trillion from Medicaid. $72 billion from Social Security disability benefits. Why? So, they could give a tax cut of $1.5 trillion to corporate America – with the interest that it incurred it would be over $2 trillion deficit – paid for by cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Their legislation priorities add to a mountain of utter, utter derision, disregard and distain for hard-working families: from slashing SNAP, the food stamps, to gutting consumer protections for seniors and servicemembers, our men and women in uniform, to sabotaging America’s affordable quality health care.

And now with this constitutional amendment, the Republicans found another cynical tool to gut the bedrock guarantees of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. This so-called balanced budget amendment – which is going nowhere, it won’t even win the vote on the floor today – is budgetary engineering designed to slash Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

As the AARP warn the GOP balanced budget amendment, so-called, would subject Social Security and Medicare to deep cuts that would be, in their words, ‘devastating for millions of Americans.’ The American people cannot afford Republicans’ fiscal hypocrisy and their relentless efforts to gut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. I can’t say it enough, just to enrich the special interests.

Democrats know that investments in the health and strength of the American people are the best ways to reduce the deficit and grow the economy. In fact, nothing brings more money to the Treasury than investing in the education of the American people – early childhood, K-12, higher education, post-grad, lifetime learning for our workers.

Democrats will continue to cut the deficit, create good-paying jobs, protect American families with A Better Deal, Better Jobs, Better Pay, Better Future for all Americans.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.

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