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Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference Today

Press Conference

Location: Washington, DC

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference today in the Capitol Visitor Center. Below is a transcript of the press conference.

Leader Pelosi. Good morning, everyone. Nice to see you all. Yesterday some of you joined us, Members of Congress joined together, Democratic members joined together on the steps of the Capitol to support the President's American jobs bill and calling for its passage. We are very proud of the enthusiastic support and unity in our caucus in support of it.

In our new principles that we talked about here last week, the ABCs: Make it in America, American made, the bill definitely strengthens that as the President said in his speech to the Congress. B, build the infrastructure of America. Our members are very pleased that there was an emphasis on building infrastructure. And C, community recovery. That is being affected in so many ways, especially the President's support of small businesses and giving jobs to young people and the rest.

We are also pleased that in the President's jobs bill there is a respect for the public sector and the role it plays in making A, B and C possible. Whether it is the education of our children, public education, public safety, you name it.

And the bill is paid for. And the bill is paid for. How it will ultimately be paid for will be up to the Table of 12, but we want that Table of 12 to recognize that deficit reduction is strongly and positively impacted by the creation of jobs.

So this jobs proposal is an important one. The President has offered his pay fors. They may have others. But the fact is without economic growth and job creation, it is a long road to reducing the deficit. So as it should be, there is a centerpiece of the Table of 12 with cuts, revenues; central to it all is the creation of jobs.

The President said the American people cannot wait 14 months, an election, to resolve one thing or another. But he put forth initiatives that had the support of the Republicans in the past and had bipartisan support, and I commend him for that. And that's why we want to pass the American jobs bill now.

With that, I would be pleased to take any questions. Yes, ma'am.

Q: Speaker Boehner is going to call on the supercommittee to take on tax reform. Do you think that that should also be a top priority for the supercommittee? And what would you like to see? Do you want to see corporate tax rates go down to 25 percent as…

Leader Pelosi. Well, I don't know what the Speaker will be--until he speaks I don't want to comment on what he may say. But I have heard him say before that he wants a big proposal. The grand bargain that he and the President were talking about--the Speaker and the President were talking about before--is something that we fully support in our caucus. We'd like to see a bigger deficit reduction than is being called for in the legislation.

Certainly tax reform is something we can have also said, simplification and fairness must be part of our Tax Code. And here is a place where we may not be able to get that entire job done in the next few weeks, but we certainly can close the loopholes that give tax breaks to Big Oil or some people to pay more for their college education; tax breaks to companies that send their jobs overseas or asking some to pay more for Medicare, and the list goes on.

But any tax reform and closing of loopholes, which is really important for us to do, in a sense of fairness must also reduce the deficit. You can't just say we're going to have reforms that are going to lower the corporate rate--which I would fully support--unless we have enough reforms to reduce the deficit, too. Because otherwise all the reduction of deficit will have to come out of the cut side and I just don't think that is fair and part of the balance that the American people are seeking.

I look forward to the Speaker's remarks. And again we all agree, I think, that the package should be a significant one, even bigger than required by the legislation, that it should be balanced, that we need to address revenue. And I'm glad that he is putting revenue on the table. It should address cost effectiveness in terms of the initiatives that we invest in. But first and foremost, we will reduce the deficit if we create jobs and bring revenue into the Treasury.

Q: Leader Pelosi, just to follow up on that, the Speaker is also going to talk about--while talking about tax reform, he will be saying tax increases are not a viable option and entitlement reform should be included. Is that the right focus for the supercommittee to reach those deficit savings that you are talking about?

Leader Pelosi. How do you reduce the deficit in terms of tax reform if you are saying that we are just going to have reforms that lower the corporate rate but we are not changing any of the other rates on anything else? We are putting too much of a burden on the cut side. I think that every dollar we spend should be subjected to scrutiny, and that includes the entitlements as well. But I don't think any of us should go in there with any lines in the sand about taxes or entitlements. I think our only sacred cow has to be the creation of jobs for the American people and creation of jobs now.

Q: Madam Leader, what's your take on the continuing resolution that's been released? And in particular the disaster aid provisions, the pay fors, that are coming down the pike?

Leader Pelosi. I have two concerns about the continuing resolution. One is that we are setting, I think, a dangerous--and I use that word purposefully--a dangerous precedent by saying that our disaster assistance must be offset. This has never been. It would be a dangerous precedent to set.

There are fires that are raging in Texas still not under control. The aftermath of the earthquake and the hurricanes and the additional flooding that has come along. We have a compact with the American people in a time of national disasters. We are there, the public sector is there to help them. To say that we have to offset it takes us down a different path in terms of that priority, that compact, that certainty.

I am particularly concerned about the particular offset they have because it is about the future. This advanced technology manufacturing initiative is something that we all fought for so that our friends in Detroit with their batteries, all the research that is going to keep America number one is affected by this. And to take the money from there is to take the money from the future, diminish our competitiveness internationally. I think it is a very bad choice, as do my members.

Q: Just to follow, there is less of a stomach around here in September for showdowns and shutdowns than there seemed to be a couple of weeks and months ago. Despite your concerns over how FEMA is being treated in the CR, is it going to sail through?

Leader Pelosi. That depends on how many Republican votes it gets?

Q: To clarify one point and to ask you another question, you are saying that any tax reform changes should end up being revenue positive, should increase revenue on a net basis, right?

Leader Pelosi. They have to reduce the deficit, which is one of the purposes of that Table of 12.

Q: In looking at entitlement reform how do you feel about the idea of the Table of 12 taking up, using a different measurement of inflation, something different than the CPI to more accurately do COLAs and so on?

Leader Pelosi. Well, I don't want to get into that level of specificity. They are having hearings. We want to be sure that with everything they do, it truly saves money. It will certainly have an impact on people, but does it truly save money whatever it happens to be? That should be the standard that they use, the impact on the American people, especially those who are marginal in terms of middle income seniors for whom these calculations make a big difference. And secondly, does it actually do what it sets out to do? Does it save money or is it a political statement?

Q: Madam Leader, how concerned are you about your party's prospects for retaking the House in the wake of these two election losses on Tuesday, one of which came in a very long time Democratic district and another one which was more lopsided than I think you would have hoped?

Leader Pelosi. Well, I don't see it that way. I think that the Nevada race was not a race…we had an excellent candidate, Kate Marshall, it is just a very difficult district to get traction in in a special election because you have a very short time. Special elections are aptly named: They are special. They have special aspects in terms of the timing and the timing that you have to get the message across and the rest.

In terms of New York, yes, that was a disappointment. We were hoping to win. As our Chairman, Steve Israel, has said so well yesterday, we won one of theirs, they won one of ours. We're even in New York.

Another athletic analogy--are you ready for one? I think it is a sports analogy. My members kept saying it's a bump in the road, a bump in the road. And I said, no, it is a bump in the road but I think of it as a mogul. When we were trying to win the House in '05 and '06, I was saying to our members and to our supporters when something would come up like this: This is a mogul. And they would be "What are you talking about?" I would say "I guess you are not a skier. A mogul is a bump." You plant your pole and you go faster down to your goal. So I see this bump in the road as a mogul.

Yesterday in the aftermath of the race, not even having to initiate some of the calls for support, whether it was fund raising or people who want to run for office and the rest. It was a good day, because it was something where other people realized we really have to buckle down in order to win this.

It doesn't alter--just to get back to your question, now that we are on the slopes and planting our pole--it does not alter our plan for taking back the House, as Steve Israel also said yesterday. I don't get too involved into politics under the dome, but he had his press conference and he talked about the fact that this does not alter our plan for taking back the House, which we are very optimistic about. We are optimistic about the recruitment of candidates, the raising of money, the raising of the issues that are out there.

And that is part of it, but also we have to take it back to the fact that this is about jobs. It's always about jobs and the President's jobs initiative is one that is important to our country, and that's an issue that we would like to have resolved and not even have as a political issue, that we can work in a bipartisan way to create jobs now by passing the American Jobs Act.

We have skiing, we have tennis, we have football, we have baseball. The mogul is my sports analogy of the day.

Q: Madam Leader, it seems like a lot of Democrats, not a lot of Democrats but plenty of Democrats either differ with the President on the policy of the Jobs Act or actively are sort of attacking the bill in the press. Why do you think that is and how can a bill pass if you have Democratic Members of Congress vocally disapproving?

Leader Pelosi. Well, let me say that what you are suggesting is anecdotal. And I am on the Appropriations Committee and their motto is: Anecdote is not data. There may be somebody that told you or has spoken out about this, but our caucus is very unified in support of the American Jobs Act and the fact that it is paid for. They may differ with some provisions within it or the pay fors, but they do not differ in the fact that we must get behind it, we must pass it. Not for us, but for the American people. They need jobs now. We want the American jobs bill passed now.

And while we may notice the few who may speak out against, I hope you don't lose sight of where I began my comments today, that on the steps of the Capitol Democrats stood together enthusiastically in support of the American Jobs Act and its passage now. In fact, people were standing in line on the steps of the Capitol trying to be the one to be the first sponsors of the American Jobs Act.

Thank you all very much.

Let me do this: May I congratulate Congressman Amodei and Congressman Turner. I wish them much success in their election to the Congress of the United States and their service here for their districts. Whatever the party, any time a new Member is sworn in it is a time of optimism for them, their family, their party and our country, and I congratulate them.

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