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Press Conference with House Democratic Leadership - the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Press Conference

Location: Washington, DC

Press Conference with House Democratic Leadership - the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

SPEAKER PELOSI: (In progress) -- bold and swift, and that is exactly what action we are taking today. He talked about creating jobs and creating a new foundation for a stable economy. He talked about education and renewable energy resources and investments in science and technology. All of those priorities and others that he mentioned are part of our legislation, and that is why it has the broad support in our caucus as well as validation from leaders in education, technology, science and the economy -- Nobel laureates in all of these fields.

So it's a great day, I think a historic one. We're very proud that we were able to -- because we were ready. We were ready. We had worked on -- many of our members had worked on these issues for a long time, and some of them are present with us today -- the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Mr. Obey; the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Rangel; the chairman of our Science and Technology Committee, Mr. Gordon -- Mr. Oberstar I think is speaking on the floor on an amendment. And we're joined with our Democratic leadership, Mr. Becerra, Congresswoman DeLauro, and others will be coming and going. And the ones I didn't introduce you'll be hearing from.

But today our special guests are the people that we have been working for. Our message to them is we are all in this together. We understand that change is needed in our country, and today we have begun to turn around the ship of state. Our VIPs, our very special people, our guests today, will be telling us their stories: Jim Bauer (sp), who is a renewable energy worker from Fairless, Pennsylvania; Linda Vogler (sp), a chef from D.C. Central Kitchen; and Violet Quick (sp), an electrician from Washington, D.C.

With that I would like to yield to Mr. Hoyer to talk about the legislation and how proud we are of what we know will be a very substantial vote in support of bold, swift action, as called for by President Obama.

REP. HOYER: Well, thank you very much, Madame Speaker. And Jim and Linda and Violet, thank you very much for being with us. We appreciate that very much. Jim and I had the opportunity to walk in together from Levittown, Pennsylvania. He took the train this morning. I asked him how the roads were. He said, I took the train, it was great.

For more than a year Americans have been losing jobs at a historic rate. Some of these folks here have lost their jobs. Last year we lost 2.6 million jobs, which made it the worst year since 1945. The war ended and the good news was war manufacturing shut down and we lost jobs. The bad news is here the war hasn't ended but we're losing jobs anyway. We need to stop the war and create jobs.

On Monday, in just one day, American companies cut 65,000 jobs -- in one day. Three -- those millions of pink slips you're holding in your hand, the final verdict of years of failed economics, of policies that we've been pursuing for the last eight years, which have not worked, the worst job-creation period since the Hoover administration.

The economics that got us into this mess have been wrong, again and again, on the economy. The Reagan tax cuts created great deficits. Predicting disaster for the Clinton economic policy was dead-flat wrong. In fact, we had 22 million jobs created, not lost. We had an economic boon the likes of which none of us have seen in our lifetime.

The opposition to this bill can speak out against this recovery plan all they want, but their policies have not worked, and Americans voted for change. They voted for a new direction, and that's what we're going to get. Today we have a new administration and a majority in Congress that has made job creation its number-one goal, because we know that if you don't have a job, your family is in trouble, you're in trouble, and the first -- second question we ask everybody, when you meet somebody, is, hey, what's your name; what do you do? Not only does it give you sustenance, it gives you dignity. That's why today's passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is so very important to our fellow citizens.

It's a bill designed to put Americans back to work with tax relief for 95 percent of all Americans; tax cuts for job-creating businesses and job-creating projects to rebuild our crumbling roads and bridges. Altogether, its provisions are projected to create 3 (million) to 4 million American jobs. That projection is backed up by economists from across the spectrum. John McCain's former economic advisor found that -- and I quote -- "The jobless rate will be more than 2 percentage points lower in the end of 2010 than without this fiscal stimulus." And the Congressional Budget Office concluded that, and I quote, "If this bill is passed, by the end of next year America will have up to 3.6 million more jobs than if we do nothing."

Nothing is not an option. These facts speak for themselves. I hope that Congress will pass this bill quickly and that President Obama I know will sign it, as soon as possible. It's time to get Americans back to work.

And now I want to recognize my new friend, the Speaker's longtime friend, Jim Bauer. Jim?

JIM BAUER: Hello, everyone. My name is Jim Bauer. I'm a steelworker. I lost my job in the late '90s due to foreign imports and the energy crisis. Recently, I got hired by a company named Gamesa in wind energy. They brought jobs to this company -- a foreign company outside brought jobs to this country, which is quite a switch, and we're looking for more of that. At present we're building the cells and the rate has dropped because of the economic crisis, and what we need is the stimulus package to be passed so that people can get the money to buy these machines and put more people back to work. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

REP. HOYER: Thank you, Jim.

MS. VOGLER: Hello, Madame Speaker and Honorable members of Congress and Honorable members of the press. My name is Linda Vogler and I am the training chef at the D.C. Central Kitchen. At the kitchen, which is located not too far from here in the basement of the largest homeless shelter in the country, we prepare 4,500 meals every day that go out to shelters, after-school programs and senior centers. I am here today for three reasons. As more and more Americans lose their jobs, they end up coming to programs like the kitchen looking for assistance and food and shelter. This bill will get these people working again.

Second, as a taxpayer and, may I say, as a Baby Boomer for whom retirement is no longer an option, I would like to say that this bill will help people like myself as we struggle to pay our bills, our mortgage, to get back and forth from work and to put food on our tables. In fact, a $1,000 tax cut for a family may mean the difference between dinner at a food kitchen like ours or a kitchen at home for some families each and every night.

Finally, at the D.C. Central Kitchen we just started our 74th culinary job training program, and some of our students are here with us today for our -- (applause) -- these people have just started their training program this week and we have an excited member of Class 73 who just graduated yesterday.

Most of the men and women who are enrolled in our program have been homeless or have been in prison. They've had issues of domestic abuse or addiction, and when they graduate from their program, they want to find jobs and be part of the economic recovery.

President Obama calls the central tax cut in this plan "make work pay" tax cut. That's a very refreshing message for working people to hear from Washington for a change. So that's why we at the D.C. Central Kitchen support the president's economic recovery plan and hope it gets a big vote today from the House of Representatives. Thank you so much for hearing me.


REP. CLYBURN: Thank you very much, Linda, for your remarks, and thank you for the work that you and your colleagues do at the D.C. Central Kitchen. I also thank you -- those of you who may have noticed, we walked in holding hands. (Scattered laughter.) She is a new-found friend, however, she brought to the D.C. Central Kitchen her culinary skills honed in the Carolinas. (Laughter.) Her most recent stay was at Myrtle Beach, and it's so good to have her with us today.

This recovery package is crafted to help working Americans make their ends meet and help those who served find work again because, as I have been saying for the last week, America works when Americans work.

In addition to the direct investments made to create jobs, modernize our infrastructure, enhance our healthcare delivery systems and shore up the safety net for millions of struggling American families, this legislation provides extraordinary tax relief that will put money into the pockets of 95 percent of working families right away; make it easier for entrepreneurs to build and grow the small businesses that are the very foundation of our economy; make college more affordable; make homeownership more accessible; and encourage robust investments in renewable energy that will drive the green revolution our country desperately needs.

The $275 billion in tax relief contained in this package is directed toward those areas of our economy that need it most -- working families trying to make ends meet; helping their kids pay for college; trying to afford a decent home; small businesses which create 70 percent of the new jobs in our economy; and innovators who would help to transform our energy sector and reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy.

Specifically, the package implements President Obama's promised "making work pay" tax cut for 95 percent of workers and their families -- $500 for individuals and $1,000 for couples. It expands the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit, the two provisions of the tax code most responsible for keeping working families out of poverty. It expands and simplifies the education tax credit to help families pay for college, enhances home ownership opportunities by improving the $7,500 first-time homebuyer credit. It provides billions of dollars in tax incentives to small businesses, expanding their ability to invest in their businesses and in new employees.

It gives state and local governments improved access to necessary financing for school construction and modernization and other infrastructure improvements. This plan lays the groundwork for greatly expanded renewable fuels to jumpstart a green revolution in our country and end our dependence on foreign sources of energy. I would hope that we will get a good, broadly bipartisan vote for this legislation so that President Obama can sign it into law before we all retire for our President Week's holiday.

Thank you. And with that I yield the floor to Violet -- Violet Quick (sp).

MS. QUICK: Thank you, sir.

REP. CLYBURN: That's a good South Carolina name, too. (Laughter.)

MS. QUICK: Good afternoon. My name is Violet Quick (sp) and I'm an electrician for IBW Local 26, which is here in Washington D.C.

When the economy slows down the construction industry feels it. In this economy, we feel like we're on the edge right now, and our jobs and our livelihood depend on it.

So it's been great news to hear about President Obama talk about the Economic Recovery Plan which will create a magnitude of jobs.

But it's also to hear great words like accountability and transparency and to know that every dollar spent has a way of publicly being tracked on a website and people are held accountable.

I helped build the D.C. baseball stadium which came in on budget and on time and was built in record time by comparison to any other baseball park. It was my job to make sure that it came in on time and we did a great and outstanding job. And the contract that we signed is what we fulfilled. And the kind of accountability is what we expect of this bill to come. Thank you. (Applause)

REP. BECERRA: Great job. Violet and Jim and Linda you represent the aspirations and hopes of, well, the more than 2 million people that assembled our front lawn of the nation just -- just a week ago. And your statement with respect to what you were able to do at the D.C. stadium -- you're a lot like our speaker, I would point out, in terms of making sure you demand accountability, efficiency, and the job get done on time because the American people did not have time to wait. This was not the time for us to go slow. My colleagues have laid out, most importantly, the bill and its impact on our country, And most importantly on the people that were sworn to serve.

But Violet talked about a very important measure, one of accountability. One that all of us in leadership has expressed and one that the president has as well.

And in unprecedented fashion let me commend our Chairman, particularly Chairman Obey and Rangle and Gordon and Oberstar for making this available online so there would the opportunity for people to know everything that was in this bill instantly and applaud the Obama administration for making sure that we continue, as these programs go forward, so that not only members of the press but our citizens have an opportunity to make sure that they're able to see the accountability that goes along with this piece of legislation that is going to put America back to work, start us on the road to recovery and reinvest in our people and provide them the hope, as we make this steady climb out of this cavern of economic crisis that we've inherited.

Thank you, Violet, for your help and for your inspiration. And with that I turn it back to the Speaker.

SPEAKER PELOSI: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

I want to acknowledge that we have been joined by our fiscal disciplinarian of the House, the Chairman of the Budget Committee, Mr. Spratt. And thank you for all of your important work on all of this, Mr. Spratt, as well.

And I think Mr. George Miller was in here, Chairman of the Education and Labor Committee which had a very important part of this as well in the education piece and the job creation piece.

The -- how proud we are of our special guests, Jim and Linda and Violet, speak so eloquently to what all of this means to everyday Americans, our very special guests. And we are very proud to have echoed the words of President Obama. His great words on the steps of the Capitol echoed on the floor on the House today in the form of legislation that hopefully will make a difference not only in your lives but in the lives of the people whom you serve.

And also, wasn't it great to see Violet in what is now becoming not a -- a non-traditional job for women. So we're very proud, we're very proud of all of you.

With that we'd be pleased to take any questions. Yes sir.

Q Lily Ledbetter would be proud of her.

SPEAKER PELOSI: Yes Lily Ledbetter, tomorrow we go to the White House in the morning.

If you see an aura of elation with us, we're so pleased because in a few -- in just these two weeks we've been here we passed the Children's Health Insurance Bill and the -- Rosa DeLauro's two bills; Lily Ledbetter Bill and the Pay Discrimination Bill, putting women and children first. And then today with this historic legislation.

As my colleagues were reading the -- talking about the provisions in the bill, it continues to be a source of great pride to all of us who worked on it because of the impact it will have on the lives of the American people.

Yes, sir.

Q The president has made clear that he wants bipartisan support for this. He indicated some areas that he would be willing to compromise on. What areas are you willing to compromise on as you go forward into conference?

SPEAKER PELOSI: Well, the -- I will not compromise on meeting the needs of the American people. We have listened to them, we have heard their concerns. They want jobs. They want certainty in terms of the education of their children. They want opportunity in terms of healthcare. They want us to be acting on their behalf.

The Republicans are talking about process. I think when you lose the argument on substance, on policy, what do you do? You talk about process and you talk about personality. We prefer to keep the conversation on substance and policy because this is, again, an initiative for the future. That's why it has the support of the National Association of Manufacturers, over 100 high-tech executives, over 150 economists, some of whom are Nobel Laureates, about those who administer to the needs of our children in school from pre-school to higher education.

So we're very, very proud of this. We're always open to ideas and some of the initial legislation was, in fact, suggested by the Republicans and that operating loss carry-back was not a particular favorite of mine, as you can imagine, but it is something they suggested to us, we put it in the bill earlier.

We've had 26 hours of amendments in the committee process. They said they wanted mark-ups. They wanted a substitute, they have a substitute. They want a motion to recommit, they have a motion to recommit. They want amendments on the floor, they have amendments on the floor. But what they have to have are ideas for the future. And we will not, we will not be stuck in the past. And this is an initiative for the future. And some of the initiatives they have put forth are really the same policies that got us into this terrible economic crisis that we are in.

So, again, we'd rather talk about the substance of it.

I salute the president. I wish that President Bush were more bipartisan in his approach. I think it's perfectly -- I'm so proud that the president went and visited with the Republicans, House and Senate, bipartisan, bicameral and every way. And I hope that we can all find that common ground. And I hope that we can have Republican votes on the floor today. But that's not because they don't -- they did not have a chance to present their views.

Do any of my colleagues wish to chime in on that?

Q Madam Speaker, why does the bill, your bill, have so much less energy than (inaudible)?

SPEAKER PELOSI: Well we think our bill is, actually it's on energy, is better than the Senate bill. But we'll go to conference on the subject of energy. But we'll go to conference and we'll work that out. It's, as you know, my flagship issue, the issue for the Democratic majority, the energy independence and reversing global warming.

But this is a first step. They'll do what they do, we'll go to conference and I -- in many ways our bill is stronger on terms of energy.

Well, I have to see what you're talking about in their bill right now. But, Steny, you can vouch for the fact that we made this a very special point to the Senate that we wanted our bill not to be weakened when we went to conference on energy.

Q Madam Speaker, I spoke with a Democrat earlier today who is on the sidelines, (inaudible) who was highly critical of (inaudible) and said this is a lot of bold Congressional (inaudible) getting their wish lists, their pet project, if you will. (inaudible)

SPEAKER PELOSI: Would you like to give us this person's name? (Laughter.) I think I know, I think I know. It's simply wrong. The fact is -- read our bill. This is a bill about the future. It is a bill that will guarantee that we will create jobs, that there'll be good paying green jobs that will transform our infrastructure, transform our energy and how we use it and our dependence on foreign oil. This is not about the past. If there's somebody who's disgruntled, so be it. But the fact is that we will have an overwhelming vote today in favor of this bill.

And that was the last question. Thank you. Was that the last one? And let's -- once again let's thank our guests for joining us. (Applause.)


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