Pelosi: ‘Budget Should be a Statement of Our National Values, Not a Sham for Middle-Class Americans’

Dec 8, 2005
Press Release

Pelosi: ‘Budget Should be a Statement of Our National Values, Not a Sham for Middle-Class Americans’

Thursday, December 8 2005

Contact: Brendan Daly/Jennifer Crider, 202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. â€" House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke this afternoon on the House floor in opposition to the fiscally irresponsible Republican tax reconciliation bill, which increases the deficit and cuts initiatives for those who need help most. The bill passed by a vote of 234 to 197. Below are excerpts of Pelosi’s remarks:

“A few weeks ago, right before Thanksgiving, there was a bill on the House floor that was the Republican budget bill. So bad was this bill in terms of it not representing the values of our country that the religious community gathered in the rotunda of the Capitol of the United States. They prayed that this Congress would make the right decisions and reject the Republican proposal. They had some questions about why we would be giving tax cuts to the wealthiest people from our country while taking food from the mouths of America’s children. They said that they were going to draw a moral line in the sand because the budget should be a statement of our national values and what we care about in our country should be reflected in that budget.

“Today we are talking about a tax bill that is hand in glove part of the reconciliation that the Republicans are putting forth. So embarrassed were they by their own budget, and so embarrassed were they by this tax bill that they had to have three weeks come between the two of them. They did this so that the American people would separate the cause and effect of what they were doing with their budget bill that was poor in its values, poor in its priorities, and increases our deficit.

“Yesterday, the Republicans engaged in another sham, which was to pretend that they were giving tax relief with the alternative minimum tax relief for middle-class families in America. If they cared about middle-class families, they would have put that in this bill today, which has full protection as it goes over to the Senate. They know that the bill they passed yesterday has no weight in the Senate. It does not have the protection of the parliamentary process on the Senate side. The same applies to what they did to try to give the illusion that they were helping our men and women in combat so that they would qualify for the low-income tax credit. If they cared about the middle class, they would have them in the bill today.

“This budget should be a statement of our national values. Let’s talk about what those values are. America has always cherished the values of opportunity. One place where that is possible for more Americans is in the issue of education. Instead, putting these two bills together, we are giving tax cuts to the wealthiest people in America, while we’re putting a burden on our young people by saying that they will pay $5,800 more in their student loans so that we can give tax cuts to people making over $1 million a year. That is not a statement of our national values; this takes from our children their opportunity when we should be expanding it.

“Fairness has always been a cherished American value. Fairness, when we see that during the last five years of the Bush Administration, 7 million more people in our country go to sleep hungry without adequate food because they cannot afford to buy food â€" an increase of 12 percent. What does this combination of reconciliation bills do in order to give tax cuts to people making more than $1 million a year? It cuts food stamps and takes tens of thousands of children off of the school lunch program.

“So let’s take the value of responsibility, personal responsibility, fiscal responsibility, which should be the order of the day here. With the combination of their tax bill and their budget bill, they are increasing the deficit by $20 billion in order to give tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. They are putting the burden of debt on America’s children. Individual debt with their student loans and fiscal debt in terms of their national debt and what our kids will be burdened with. It’s totally irresponsible and at the same time increases the deficit.

“Democrats support pay-as-you-go, no deficit spending. If something is important to you, figure out how to pay for it, but don’t make my children and grandchildren have to pay for it.

“And Republicans are the party of fiscal responsibility? The Republicans have completely abdicated that. The Democrats are the party of fiscal responsibility. We showed that we could do it during the 1990s, and we can do it again. We should not be catering to this appetite for deficits that the Republicans cannot seem to get over. It’s absolutely immoral for us to heap those deficits on our children.

“When Alexis de Tocqueville talked about community in America, he wrote back to the French: ‘America is great because America is good. If America ever ceases to be good,’ he concluded, ‘America will cease to be great.’

“This is the moment that no one in this body wants to hasten. We all want America to be great, and America to be good. Together we can do better, by returning to our fundamental values, to maintain America’s goodness by rejecting this immoral tax bill.”