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Media Availability with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) - Response to President Bush's Statements on the Economy and the Colombia Free Trade Agreement


Location: Washington, DC

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This morning, once again, President Bush demonstrated how out of touch he is with the concerns of America's working families. Many people in our country are afraid or concerned about losing their jobs and/or losing their homes. But almost everybody in our country is concerned about losing their living standard. As the cost of groceries, gasoline, heath care, education and other necessities continue to rise, the purchasing power of middle-income families has stagnated or has gone down.

The president's response to that economic security, as he once again said this morning, is to make permanent tax cuts for the wealthiest people in America. That is one of the president's top priorities, those tax cuts to the wealthiest.

Another is a war without end in Iraq -- one that has driven us into debt, into recession, and has diminished the capability of our military to fight the real war on terrorism in Afghanistan and to -- to fight any threats to our security, wherever they may occur.

The president's third priority is the free trade agreement with Colombia. Democrats -- as I have told the president -- I told him last Wednesday and have told him before -- stand ready to work with him to bring the Colombia free trade agreement to the floor. But the timing has to be the timing of America's working families, not the timing of the president of the United States, who seems oblivious to their economic insecurity.

We've worked with the president before on the stimulus package, on passing the Peru free trade agreement earlier in this term of Congress. And we believe it is possible to bring the Colombia free trade agreement to the floor under the proper circumstances. But first we need to address the worsening economy in our country.

This morning, the president -- I -- and I'm going to quote -- this morning claimed that Democrats in Congress had "stiffed" a crucial ally by putting off consideration of the Colombia free trade agreement. Yet, for seven long years, the president's failed economic plan has stiffed the American people.

As we proceed with the Colombia free trade agreement, we're putting the concerns of America's working families first. We are concerned about the relationship with Colombia, and I've extended a hand of friendship again to the ambassador and sent my good wishes to the president of Colombia.

But this has to be done in recognition not only of the concerns we have about human rights violations of workers in Colombia, but based on the economic security of America's workers here in our country. We ask the president to once again bring his people to the table so we can move forward.

Q Madame Speaker --

SPEAKER PELOSI: No questions. Thank you.

Q -- on immigration.

(No audible response.)

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