Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi was joined by other Democratic women Members of Congress for a press conference today in the Capitol Visitor Center calling for a balanced agreement to reduce the deficit that strengthens Medicare and Social Security for beneficiaries while doing no harm to the economy. Below are Leader Pelosi's opening remarks and a transcript of the question and answer session:
Leader Pelosi's Opening Remarks:
"Good afternoon. Good afternoon. I know you are there. I can hear you breathing. [Laughter.]
"Today, we are gathered here as the Democratic women Members of Congress to recognize a moment of opportunity and responsibility. We are committed to a balanced, bipartisan approach to the budget resolution that is fair to the middle class, honors the dignity of our seniors and their retirement, creates jobs, and educates our children as we reduce the deficit.
"Today, the Democratic women of Congress have come together to send a very clear message: We must protect Medicare and Social Security. We will not support cuts. Social Security and Medicare, as well as the concern that we have for cost shifting, etc. in Medicaid. Congress will not sacrifice these vital pillars of economic and health security of our society and our economy in order to give tax breaks to the wealthy, subsidies to Big Oil, and tax breaks to corporations that send jobs overseas.
"Upholding the bedrock promise of Medicare and Social Security is vital to our country's women. Women are families' primary caregivers and health providers. Women live longer, have lower incomes, and have more chronic conditions--making Medicare even more vital to their well-being. Women overwhelmingly depend on Social Security. Without it, half of the women over 65 would fall into poverty. More than 3 million children receive Social Security benefits--3 million children.
"Those standing here have an understanding of the stakes in this debate because we represent the diversity of our great country. The Democratic Caucus, I remind you, has 100 Members, over half of our Caucus is women or minorities, and over half of that 100 are women.
"We know firsthand the impact the changes in Medicare. We know it because we are women and caregivers, and we know it because of the people we represent. We know it because of the special interest we have taken in this bedrock of security for women and families in our country. And so we bring knowledge, experience and urgency to this debate.
"So on behalf of all of America's women, families, and our middle class, we will continue to work toward an agreement that brings more stability to our economy, creates jobs, promotes growth, respects the dignity of retirement for our seniors, the education of our children, again, as we reduce the deficit.
"I am very proud to be standing here with the Democratic women of Congress. Some of them couldn't be here because they are in committees marking up bills and doing the work of Congress, some of the rest of us are on a lunch break, and we are here to spend that time.
"We are going to hear from our Members now, but understand that the women here represent the full population of women Members of Congress. And we are very proud of our colleagues who are not women for the commitment they have to preserving the benefits for Social Security, Medicare, and protecting Medicaid as well.
"Two women who have taken the lead on older Americans' issues are Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois and Congresswoman Doris Matsui of California. We will also be joined of the chair of the Women's Caucus, the Democratic co-chair of the Women's Caucus, Gwen Moore, who is with us. We'll here from Nydia Velazquez of New York and Carolyn Maloney of New York. We are going to begin with Congresswoman Schakowsky."