Pelosi Floor Speech in Opposition to the Ryan Republican Budget
Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor today in opposition to the Ryan Republican Budget – a road to economic ruin and an irresponsible assault on seniors, students, women, families and our future. This latest Republican budget, which House Democrats unanimously opposed for the fourth consecutive year, passed by a vote of 219 to 205. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
“I thank the gentleman for yielding. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the recognition. I congratulate the Budget Committee for the hard work that you have done. I wish we had more than 10 minutes on each side to discuss the House Democratic Budget. But so it is.
“Here we are about to leave for the holy season of Easter and Passover. It reminds me of the Gospel of Matthew, where it says: ‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ This budget is a statement as to where our treasure is and where our hearts are for the American people. A budget, as our distinguished Ranking Member said, must be a statement of our national values. What is important to us as a nation should be reflected in our spending priorities, in our treasure.
“But you be the judge. I want to say to the American people, but the Speaker will not allow me to address the American people, so their representatives here. Is it a statement of your national values, of our country, to give a $200,000 tax break to people making over $1 million a year at the expense of increasing taxes $2,000 on the middle class? Is that a statement of our values?
“I didn’t think so. Is a statement of our values – in order to finance the special interest or privilege that is in the Republican budget – is a statement of your values to cut over 170,000 children from Head Start? Is that a statement of our values?
“Is that a statement of our values? Children learning, parents earning: opportunity, fairness. Is it a statement of your values to support a budget that says three and a half million children in our country – disadvantaged children in economically disadvantaged areas – will have cuts in the budget of Title I? Is that a statement of our values in order to get tax breaks to Big Oil? Is it a statement of our values to say to aspiring families, some the first in their families to be able to go to college, that we’re going to cut over half a million, maybe over 600,000 kids from Pell Grants? Is that a statement of values that to say to over a half a million young people: ‘You will not have opportunity to have a higher education, instead we’re going to give that same amount of money to big oil for tax incentives, for them to drill?’ Is that a statement of our values? I don’t think so. I don’t think so.
“So where is their treasure and where is their heart? The treasure in this Republican budget is just what our Ranking Member said: it’s with the special interests and the wealthiest people in our country. It is a trickledown approach that has never worked. It’s worked for the rich. It’s worked for the special interests and their supporters. But it has not worked for the great middle class. Do we need any more evidence of it not working, that these same warmed-over policies that existed in the Bush era that took us to the Great Recession – a Great Recession where we met right before the election in September of 2008, where the Chairman of the Fed said to us: ‘If we do not act immediately we will not have an economy by Monday.’ This was a Thursday night. That’s where these policies took us, at the end of the Bush years, and we’re still digging out of that recession.
“And instead of having a budget that lifts us up to create jobs, to create growth, to invest in science and education, to keep America number one – they call their budget a path to prosperity. It is a road to recession. It always has been, and that is what it is now. And that is what it is now.
“So at least we have a few minutes to discuss our values system, where our treasure is – with the richest and the special interests, or with the great middle class and those who aspire to it – and therefore where our heart is, in terms of budget priorities in this budget. And this is an important budget. Some people want to dismiss it as a joke, because it’s so outrageous. It’s deadly serious. It isn’t funny at all, because of the impact it has on the lives of America’s families: our children, our seniors – voucherizing Medicare, removing the guarantee of Medicare for our seniors. Is that a statement of our values – to say to our seniors: ‘you are on your own?’ ‘You are on your own.’
“I don’t think so. So, our heart is with the middle class. We will put our treasure there – with investments in education, job creation, investments in science. I’ll just close, again – I started with the Bible – scientific research gives us an almost biblical power to cure. Where there is scientific opportunity, we almost have a moral responsibility – certainly a moral imperative – to invest in it, to improve health, to improve the quality of health in our country, and to make sure that everybody has access to it. But don’t worry about the access to it, because our investments in basic scientific research are seriously impaired by this budget.
“It does violence to any concept of science that keeps innovation making America number one, advancing innovation, investments in science and technology – undermining investments in how we protect our environment so our children can breathe clean air and drink clean water, about how we protect our America by investments in science and technology to do so, and the intelligence to avoid conflict, and the investments in job creation that science will enable us to do.
“So if you believe in knowledge, if you believe in fact, if you believe in the middle class, you must reject the Republican budget. You must reject the Republican budget.
“What the Republican leadership is asking Members to do is something that – I don’t know that they share that value. Certainly, Republicans across the country do not. Republicans across the country support education, investments in science, and the rest. Any poll will show you that.
“Just one other thing: if you really want to reduce the deficit, one of the fastest ways you can do it is to have a budget that does as our does. Include comprehensive immigration reform, which reduces the deficit by $900 billion, $900 with a ‘b’ – billion dollars – according to the Congressional Budget Office.
“So by reason of treasure, by reason of heart, by reason of values, by reason of ethics, by reason of honoring our responsibility to the American people – a good strong ‘no’ on the Ryan Republican budget. It is a path to ruin. It is not a path to prosperity. Mr. Van Hollen’s budget is a about growth, about investment, about keeping America number one, about strengthening the middle class – which is the backbone of our democracy.
“Thank you all. Vote ‘no’ on this budget.”