ABC "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" - Transcript

Interview

By:  Nancy Pelosi
Date: Nov. 18, 2012
Location: Unknown

RADDATZ: Leader Pelosi, you all came out of the meeting with the president sounding pretty optimistic, pretty confident. But you've been there before. You said, in July of 2011, called your talks with the GOP about a grand bargain "constructive," saying you were optimistic that we could find a place where we can come together.

Obviously, those talks failed. So what's changed? And why do you believe this optimism after this meeting?

PELOSI: That was then. This is now. The urgency is so much greater. So I'm optimistic because I think it's very clear the American people expect and deserve and want to see us get this job done.

RADDATZ: Did anything that Speaker Boehner said make you optimistic? Was it just that urgency that you're talking about?

PELOSI: Well, it's the urgency, but I think that the spirit at the table was one of everybody wants to make the best effort to get this done. Hopefully that is possible. Hopefully it is possible by the middle of December, so the confidence of the markets and, most importantly, the confidence of the consumers returns to infuse our economy with -- with demand, which creates jobs.

RADDATZ: You said afterwards there would be these milestone of success. How would that work? What are the goals? Are there interim goals?

PELOSI: Well, my suggestion was that we, at some point -- not necessarily today -- decide on what our goal is in terms of the amount of deficit reduction that we can achieve, some date by which we'd like to do it -- the middle of December, so this doesn't take us up to Christmas -- some milestones along the way so that progress can be demonstrated that we're moving in a forward direction.

RADDATZ: I spoke to Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado earlier this week at the Atlantic Ideas Festival, and he said this really comes down to Speaker Boehner and President Obama. So what do you see your role?

PELOSI: Well, we have to have the votes in order for something to pass. I think Speaker Boehner and Mitch McConnell and Senator Reid and I would all agree that we have to have something that will pass both houses that the president will sign. And so, you know, really, what is important is getting the job done.

RADDATZ: Well, let's talk about the details. The focus does seem to be on the revenue side of this. Your side is insisting on tax rate increases, but have you seen any indication that the Republicans are open to raising rates?

PELOSI: Well, they have said that they know that revenue has to be on the table. And that is why I have said, when we talk about revenue, what are we talking about? Are we talking about closing loopholes? Are we talking about raising rates? Are we talking about both?

And they're talking about entitlement restructuring. What does that mean? If that means harming beneficiaries, I don't think that that's such a good idea.

RADDATZ: Could you accept a deal that does not include tax rate increases for the wealthy? We've seen talk about a possible compromise that would leave rates the same, but cap deductions for high-income earners. Is that something that's acceptable?

PELOSI: No.

RADDATZ: Not at all? No way?

PELOSI: Well, no, I mean, the president made it very clear in his campaign that there is not enough -- there are not enough -- what you just described is a formula and a blueprint for hampering our future. You cannot go forward -- you have to cut some investments. If you cut too many, you're hampering growth, you're hampering education, our investments for the future.

So just to close loopholes is far too little money, if it's -- and it could be they have said they want it to be revenue-neutral. If it's going to bring in revenue, the president has been very clear that the higher-income people have to pay their fair share.

RADDATZ: I know you're optimistic about this and confident this will happen, but last week on the show with George Stephanopoulos, Senator Patty Murray said she thought if you don't have a deal by December 31st, we should just fall into the fiscal cliff, fall off the fiscal cliff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MURRAY: We have to make sure that the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share. If the Republicans will not agree with that, we will reach a point at the end of this year where all the tax cuts expire, and we'll start over next year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RADDATZ: Do you agree with that?

PELOSI: Well, I think she was stating a fact. If we don't have a deal by December 31st, we will go over the fiscal cliff.

RADDATZ: If you don't get a deal, are you willing to just walk away?

PELOSI: Well, the -- I want a deal. I want an agreement.

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: I know you want a deal, but would you be willing to just say, if we don't get what we want...

(CROSSTALK)

PELOSI: I don't think that's, in my view, as one with a seat at the table, I don't think it's my role to go to the table with a threat. I think it's my role to go to the table with some ideas, to be receptive to what we can come to agreement on. I'm not criticizing statements others make, but what I am saying is that there's too much at risk.

And even if you went over the cliff for one month and then corrected it, you would still have a loss of GDP.

RADDATZ: I think you said in September, you said categorically the country can't go over the cliff.

PELOSI: Absolutely. I completely -- look...

RADDATZ: You agree with yourself?

PELOSI: Yeah, I agree with myself. I do.

(LAUGHTER)

And I quote myself from time to time, as well. And here's the thing: We're all grownups. I mean, we talk about maturity and age. We're all grownups. We have a responsibility to the American people. The elements who are in agreement are there. Time is of the essence. The quicker we do it, the more confidence we instill, the better it is for the economy and for the American people.

RADDATZ: Just finally, you seemed genuinely taken aback and almost upset the other day in your press conference when you were asked if it was time for younger leadership.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PELOSI: Let's for a moment honor it as a legitimate question.

(LAUGHTER)

Although it's quite offensive, but you don't realize that, I guess.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PELOSI: I said I quote myself, and I do. But I do not agree with the characterization you just gave. I was amused. I was surprised at the response of my colleagues, because they just were very offended by...

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: Not you at all?

PELOSI: Well, for me, I laughed, because I thought, oh, they don't know what questions I have to be subjected to here all the time. For me, this is a matter of course.

But my colleagues, the women, we had 60 women gathered up there. And if you ever wanted to ask that question, you should save it for another day.