Pelosi Floor Speech in Opposition to Republican Default Act

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this evening in opposition to the Republican Default Act.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:  

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  I thank the gentleman for yielding.  I commend him for his tremendous leadership.  We couldn’t be prouder than the way he has represented the values of the American people, both as the Ranking Member of the Budget Committee and also at the table with the bipartisan talks with Mr. Clyburn under the leadership of Vice President Biden.

“And too bad that the progress that was made in those meetings to have a balanced, bipartisan initiative to bring to the floor, to give confidence to the market, to give confidence to the American people did not succeed because the Republicans walked away from those talks.

“Mr. Speaker, last week our Speaker, Speaker Boehner, said he couldn’t reach an agreement with President Obama because they have different visions of our country.  President Obama has a vision, shares the vision with the American people.

“When we look to find our common ground and take it to a higher ground, I think all Americans agree that we want to educate our children for their own self fulfillment but also to keep America number one by having innovation, which springs from education and from the classroom.

“I think all Americans share the higher ground, the common ground, when it comes to the creation of jobs, good-paying jobs here in America for economic stability of America’s families and of our economy.

“I think all Americans agree that we must have a dignified retirement for our seniors, where they have health and economic security.  That’s why Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are so important to the American people.

“I think all Americans agree that we must keep the American people safe, both in our national security and our economic security and we must do so in a fiscally-sound way without adding to the deficit.  That is President Obama’s vision of our country.

“So, I think that one–and I am sure that Speaker Boehner must share those views.  So if that is the reason, the different vision of our country, maybe it is.  Hopefully it is not.  Hopefully, they share that vision.  Why are we where we are today?

“I believe it is because it wasn’t about a shared…not sharing a vision for our country.  I believe it is because the purpose of these talks was to reduce the deficit.  My belief is that the Republicans came to the table not to reduce the deficit but to go way beyond that and to dismantle decades of progress made in a bipartisan way for America’s great middle class.

“If, in fact, the purpose was deficit reduction in a very strong way, we were on that path in the Biden talks and in the talks subsequent to it.  We all agreed that there had to be substantial cuts, that we had to subject dollars spent, federal dollars spent to make sure that we got our money’s worth for U.S. taxpayers.  Democrats wanted revenue.  We wanted sharing of the sacrifice in all of this.  Republicans did not.

“But we still could come to a place, as Senator Reid did and as our distinguished Ranking Member referenced, at a place that used the proposals that Republicans had in the Ryan budget and in a proposals that they had agreed to in the talks to reach a strong deficit reduction number that would enable us to come to agreement and to put this matter to rest until February of 2013 so we would remove all doubt in the markets that we were going to honor our debts, we were not going to default on previous spending.  The purpose was not to lift the ceiling so we could spend more.  The purpose was to lift the ceiling so we could pay for previous obligations and that there would be that 18 months of certainty.

“Instead the Republicans have come forth with a proposal that, as I said, dismantles–this isn’t about deficit reduction, this is about dismantling the public sector.  And in doing so, they want to do it for six months–which means the minute this thing would be accomplished, God forbid it would be accomplished, we would have to start all over again.

“I believe the American people were disappointed that this has taken so long, then angry that it is happening because of the uncertainty it brings to their lives, and next disgusted with the whole process–and they are so rightly so.  Because if our purpose is reduce the deficit, we certainly can do that.  If our purpose is to dismantle progress for the middle class, we won’t be a party to it.

“I think that this six month plan, not only in terms of uncertainty, is also a job killer.  It has front-loaded cuts that will deter, impede the growth of our economy, our comeback and, again, kill jobs.

“Every day that we are debating this is another day that we are not talking about job creation.  Every day.  Republican bills that they have brought to the floor in the first 200 days of their Majority, now it’s 205, would amount to nearly 2 million jobs lost.  Just under 10,000 jobs a day lost by the proposals they have brought to the floor.  The American people’s top priority is the creation of jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs.  Instead of this prolonged dismantling of the public sector attempt, we should instead have reached agreement.  We still can on a balanced, bipartisan approach.

“I want to say something as a mom about this dismantling of the public sector.  I view my role in politics as an extension of my role as a mother and now a grandmother.  As parents, all of us know that we want to do everything we can for our children to help them grow, be healthy, to learn, to reach their fulfillment.  But there are things we can’t do for them.  We have to look to the public sector in order for them–and moms can identify with this, I’m sure–to make sure that they have clean drinking water, that the air they breathe is clean, that there is food safety.  We can’t do that ourselves.  We can’t do that ourselves.  That is a public role.

“The list goes on about the education of our children, the health security of our grandparents–now being a grandparent myself but in terms of Medicare, Medicaid–all the things that are important to children: their health, their education, the economic security of their families, the pension security and health security of their grandparents, the safety of their neighborhoods.  Some of these are private roles.  Some of these are public roles.  Some of these are public-private roles.  But as a mom, I call upon all mothers across the country to understand what this bill does to the health and well being of America’s children.

“And really, it’s quite ironic because any speech that you hear on the floor, in meetings, in all the rest they say we must reduce the deficit because it’s immoral to pass along deficits to our children.  Well, I think it’s wrong to pass along private or public debt to our children.

“But what we are doing here is to pass along to our children a future less bright because of the–again, I’ll say it again.  This is dismantling of the public sector, which is an ideological goal long-held by our friends.  They would rather see seniors pay more for Medicare.  They would rather cut Medicaid and jeopardize Social Security while they give tax subsidies to Big Oil making record profits, tax breaks to corporations sending jobs overseas, and tax breaks to the wealthiest people in our country at the expense of the education of our children and the health and well being of our country.

“I hope that the House would reject this measure.  I know that people of good intention to reduce the deficit can find a path to do that.  It can’t be too late because we have a deadline on August 2nd.

“But I want to pay my respects to President Obama, who has been respectful of every suggestion proposed by the Republicans, giving it the time and attention that they thought it deserved.  He tried to accommodate all of those to have a balanced, bipartisan approach, and what do the Republicans do?  Walk away from the table.

“Well, the American people know about this.  That’s why 50-some percent of the American people support the balanced, bipartisan approach that the President says we should strive to achieve.  And only about 19 percent of the American people support the proposal that is put forth by the Republicans.  This House should reject that.

“We should come together, use the work that has been done already to do something that will remove all doubt that we pay our bills, to remove all doubt that we are a strong economy that recognizes the role we play in the global economy, but also recognizes that all of this has an impact in the lives of everyday Americans as they sit around their kitchen table thinking about what will they do if credit goes, the cost of credit goes up and that means their credit card bills, their car payment, their house payment, student loans and the rest are more expensive to them.  This is very costly in terms of confidence and in terms of making ends meet.  Let’s be responsible.

“Reject this bill.  Get back to work so that on Tuesday we will have met our obligations.  That’s the least that we can do for our children.

“With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.”

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