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Public Statements

Further Continuing Appropriations Amendments, 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. PELOSI. I thank the gentleman for yielding time and for presenting the Dicks substitute, which was not allowed to come to the floor, but nonetheless I salute him for his leadership in that regard.

Madam Speaker, Members of Congress agree, I think, on two things today: that we must move this process forward so that government does not shut down, and that we must reduce the deficit. As we do that, we must create jobs and strengthen the middle class. That is someplace where we may have some separation, because as the distinguished ranking member, Mr. Dicks, has said earlier, in December of 2010, congressional Democrats and the President of the United States cut spending by $41 billion--$41 billion. On that day in December, only one Republican voted for those cuts--only one.

February, 2 months later, Republicans passed a spending bill that does not create jobs but, in fact, has been said to destroy 700,000 jobs. That's approximately 100,000 jobs a week since we passed our ``cut it'' bill.

February 2011, Republicans passed the same spending bill that reduces U.S. economic growth by 1 1/2 to 2 percent. Now some have questioned, Is it really as much as 700,000 jobs? Is it really as much as 1 1/2 to 2 percent? But no one questions whether there will be job loss or whether there will be a slowing down of our economic growth among serious economists.

We are going in the wrong direction. How fast may be the question. But we are going in the wrong direction. That is why it's very important for us to proceed with great care and great caution here because, again, we have the opportunity to create jobs, to strengthen the middle class, and to do so in a way that is fiscally sound.

When I hear our colleagues talk about the deficit and the immorality of a big deficit--and I completely agree that we owe it to our children and our grandchildren not to leave them a debt--but all this talk about deficit is what we have, as Democrats, taken the lead on for decades.

Do you remember--because many of you were here at the time--that when President Clinton became President he inherited an enormous debt? He instituted pay-as-you-go, we had an economic agreement that was passed in the Congress, and the deficit began to reduce to a path of $5.6 trillion in surplus. Another President Bush took office; pay-as-you-go went out the window; and, again, the turnaround into growing deficits.

So for all of this talk about the immorality of

deficits, where were you when those deficits were instituted in the late eighties? Some of you were here. In the 2000s, many of you were here. And, again, we have to take our country on a path of deficit reduction. Many of you were here when the tax cuts for the high end were implemented, creating no jobs, except increasing our deficit, sending the bill to our children and the credit to the Chinese Government.

How about when we did the prescription drug bill, giving away the store to the pharmaceutical industry and the price tag to our children by increasing the deficit? How about two wars, unpaid-for wars? God knows we will do anything to protect and defend our people. And I would hope that everybody subscribes to that. Why would we have tax cuts for people at the highest end? Why wouldn't they pay their fair share of protecting the American people and American interests and their interest wherever they may exist in the world?

And so we had in the 8 years of President Bush's administration a complete reversal, an $11 trillion swing, $5.6 trillion in surplus to nearly $5 trillion in debt.

And now people are saying it is an immorality to have national debt and to have these deficits. We thoroughly agree. And that's why, once again, we must take our country down a path of deficit reduction, but to do so in a way that is job creating and strengthening of the middle class.

As I said, in December 2010 Democrats cut $41 billion in spending. Only one Republican voted for that. February 2011, Republicans passed a spending bill that could destroy 700,000 jobs and reduce and slow down our GDP, our gross domestic product, by 1.5 to 2 percent. If you want to say it's going to slow down less than that, it's still going in the wrong direction.

I commented on Mr. Dicks' proposal because in the bill that we have before us, we have a situation where the Republicans have stripped the bill of important initiatives to the education of our children. In fact, President Obama made some of those cuts, too; but he didn't do it in a way that hurt the children.

What we debate today undermines our future by stripping support for some pressing educational challenges without redirecting those critical resources to meet the educational needs of our children. What Mr. Dicks proposed would have reversed that. He would have eliminated those educational programs in a way, as did the President, in the context of a comprehensive budget that also redirected funds to other initiatives addressing these needs.

If we do not, as a Congress, understand that education is essential, is key to all of our success--key to all of our success--then, frankly, the American people are way ahead of us on that. That's why I asked when we debated the bill before the break to see a quarter of a million children thrown off Head Start and many teachers fired alongside that, is that a smart cut? Sure, we have to tighten our belt. But let's do it, again, in a very smart way.

I just want to know where everybody was in the days when this deficit grew in the 8 years of the Bush administration. That's why we're in the situation we are in today. That's why we must, again, make some very difficult decisions.

So what is before us today is for the short term. It is saying, let's just keep the government open 2 weeks so we use that time to do the right thing and so we use that time to have a reality check--a reality check--on how we got these deficits in the first place. Tax cuts at the highest end do not create jobs but increase the deficit and are not the appropriate path to deficit reduction. Cutting education and therefore the innovation that goes with it and the strength of our children and affecting our economy is not the way to do it.

Many people here have met much experience on the way to do it, and they sit on both sides of the aisle. So let's get through this today, recognizing the challenge that we have, understanding that this bill before us is not a good one, but it's not final.

And when we come together, we need to meet the three criteria: Does it create jobs? Does it strengthen the middle class? Does it reduce the deficit? Because all of those who say that it is immoral for us to grow the deficit and pass those bills on to our children and grandchildren are right. I just don't want them to ignore the fact that we got here a certain way, and please do not ask us to go down that path again with the sanctimonious attitude that it is a morality for us to do exactly the same thing again, ignoring again the tremendous, tremendous suffering of the American people and their need for jobs, ignoring the aspirations of our children and their need for education by making the cuts that are in here without them rechanneling to a better place.

This is as serious a debate that we can have in the Congress of the United States because it affects our children and their future, because the deficits have gotten so far out of hand.

I am very proud of the fact that 30 years ago--in 1982, 29 years ago--when Democrats gathered in Philadelphia for a midterm conference, pay-as-you-go was placed on the agenda, passed as a resolution, and became part of the Democratic platform. Fiscal responsibility is a part of who we are. Our Blue Dog Coalition has had this as their mantra: pay as you go. Do not add to the deficit. If we all share that view, we should all be able to come together because the numbers will add up or they will not add up, and the bill for sure will be sent to our children and grandchildren.

Some of you have children; some of you have children and grandchildren. Would you ever dream of sending them a bill for a personal expense? If you were to leave them anything, would you leave them a bill? We cannot leave the children of America with any bills for any fiscal deficit either. It wouldn't be the right thing to do. But in order for us to do the right thing, it is time for a serious reality check, and that is the opportunity Mr. Dicks was giving us today. The Rules Committee rejected that. I hope that in the weeks ahead, depending on what happens here today, we can move on with it so we can spend whatever time it takes to do it right. Nothing less is at stake than the economic security of our country, the well-being of our children, the well-being of our children and the confidence that the American people have in what we are sent here to do for them.


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