Pelosi Remarks at Press Event on the Consequences of the GOP Tax Scam on America's Future
Contact: Taylor Griffin, 202-604-7735
San Francisco – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Bay Area Health Care, Anti-Hunger, Seniors’ Rights and Affordable Housing Advocates for a press event highlighting the consequences of the GOP Tax Scam which gives a gift to the wealthiest one percent, while robbing from America’s future. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
Leader Pelosi Opening Remarks.
Thank you very much all, for your nice welcome. It’s really kind of an emotional experience for me to be here because I knew George Davis before I was in Congress. He was one of my dear friends for many, many years. He was a man always with a vision to make the future better especially for the people in the neighborhood — to meet the needs of people and then spread that beyond. And we like to say he was visionary, he was visionary with plan to bring strategy to get the job done. So I know he’s looking down on us now and being so proud of Cathy [Davis] and the work that she has done. She has brought that plan to fruition. Thank you, Cathy for your courage and leadership! Thank you, Cathy!
They say a vision without a plan is fantasy. George had a plan, a vision and now this is the reality. And it’s not only around for the people here it’s an example to the rest of the country how people of values working together with a purpose and a plan can make a very big difference. Treating people in the neighborhood, now in the center and in the residence with the respect that they deserve, the dignity and worth that they deserve.
So, when you’re here you think of the Gospel of Matthew, you know, when I was hungry you fed me, when I was homeless you sheltered me, when I was naked you clothed me, when I was imprisoned you rescued me, when I was a stranger you took me in. That’s what this is all about. A sense of community. So it’s my honor to be here personally and officially to be part of the Dr. George W. Davis Senior Center and pay tribute to Cathy and all of the people who worked with her.
Today we’ll be hearing from, well you heard from Cathy, and Troy Brunet, District Liaison from AARP will be talking about the impact of the budget and the tax scam on our seniors. Ashley McCumber, CEO of Meals on Wheels talking about cuts in – it’s so sad, it’s hard to imagine people would do it but cuts in food stamps. Juliet Barraza with the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund here with her husband and her son Benjamin thank you for being here. Don Falk, CEO of the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, an affordable housing advocate. I introduce them because they’re just going to come to the podium and tell the truth, the facts, give the evidence, the data, of what the impact is of this.
Cathy mentioned some of the things but here’s what I want to say – I would hope what we’re talking about here while it’s fearful in some respects gives everyone hope. Because you hope that there’s a recognition that they’ve just gone too far.
They’ve got the tax bill, imagine a tax scam that gives 83 percent of the benefits to the top one percent in our country. How could that be? What are they thinking? They call it the middle-income tax cut that 86 million families in our country, according to this bill, will pay more in taxes. That gives one and a half trillion dollars in tax breaks to corporate America and with interest payments will take the national debt over two trillion dollars more.
And they do that and say well, ‘because we caused that debt we’ll have to make some cuts, so we’ve decided, we’ve given a tax break to the wealthiest one percent in our country, we’re giving corporate America all these tax breaks, where are we going to get the money?’
‘We’re going to take a trillion dollars out of Medicaid.’ Really? So, you can give a tax cut to the high end?
‘We’re going to 500 billion dollars out of Medicare.’ Really? Medicare?
Over 200 billion dollars out of food stamps, just unconscionable. Robbing from our children’s future by taking us deeply into debt and then cutting issues that relate to education and lifetime learning for our workers and our families.
See, a budget is supposed to be a statement of our national values. What’s important to us as a nation is supposed to be reflected in how we allocate our resources in our children, our children, to meet their needs. How we honor the needs of our veterans to honor their sacrifice.
Many of the issues that we deal with that relate to health, education, jobs, housing. So important that in this bill they cut so much money from HUD – how could they? We need more, not less. And how they say they’re going to take away – their tax bill will diminish the low-income tax credit which has enabled us to build so much housing. Don’t they know? How are they representing? Don’t they know that community is what it’s all about?
And every time I come to Hunter’s Point we always say community is about unity. Isn’t that right Paul Henderson? Let’s hear it for Paul Henderson.
So, you know, you have that wisdom. You know what a budget as a statement of values should look like. And what we’re trying to do, were going all over the country, is to have a give and take with the community about how this budget, this tax scam, which is a rip off to the middle class and is a gift to the high end, at 83 percent to the top one percent, is unconscionable.
But is what’s worse about it is that it’s a black cloud that hangs over the budget. It says, we’ve robbed from the future, now we have to take from Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, Social Security, disability.
I know that Juliet [Barraza] is going to speak about it, and her son Benjamin, we are so proud of him and that they are here. And they are here with the Ed Roberts Campus Disability Rights Fund. Ed Roberts was a person with disabilities that was a very strong advocate and he taught us on issues that relate to disability, is that we respect people for what they can do, rather than judge them for what they cannot do. And this is about respecting the dignity of work and the spark of divinity in every person, including in ourselves that we have to act upon.
So I’m honored to be here, Ed Roberts, my friend for many years, we worked together on disability issues, he’s in heaven looking down, and George Davis, he was like a brother to me, so to see this come to fruition and to be here with all of you and to know how proud he would be of all of this. A visionary with a plan, a beautiful reality of all of this, and largely thanks to Cathy. Thank you, Cathy!
Because so much of the attention that we have here is about our seniors, I’m pleased to yield to Troy Brunet, District Liaison with AARP. Thank you, Troy!
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Leader Pelosi. Thank you very much, John, for giving us those facts and figures. In San Francisco, when I first went to Congress, the low income tax credit was a very important initiative for us. So as a member of the Housing Subcommittee, I took some personal responsibility that it would be ongoing.
First we were just renewing every year, every two years, until we made it permanent and this is really important because it enabled non-profit organizations as well as for-profit to take advantage. For-profit got the tax credit, the non-profit exploited the opportunity and all of this coming together made all the difference in the world. And now that will be devalued, on top of which the 18 percent at HUD and other initiatives, so this really strikes right to the heart of community. Because in our community, housing is expensive. If we can’t have affordable housing or low-income housing we’ll lose our families, we’ll lose our diversity, which is our strength.
So again, this is not a statement of our values. There was a path, it was created, that exploited opportunity and made everything better and now to use Don [Falk]’s expression it’s about taking off all the rungs of the ladder. It’s just simply not a statement of anyone’s values.
Before though we take any questions, I want to acknowledge the President of the Resident Advisory Council, Ernie Roberts, Mr. President. Where is he? And Ricky Moore? And Stephanie Burch, the property manager. And Carolyn Blankenship, a resident, how generous was she to open her doors to her beautiful place which she showed us with great pride and we were privileged to be in her home and this is about homes.
So again we salute George Davis and Cathy for being an implementer of it. This is sad news but we got to be hopeful. So one of the sides of hope is that everyone recognizes the urgency of what is happening. Many people are willing to step forward and take responsibility to not let this continue to happen and that gives us opportunity.
Here we are in Black History Month and of course there isn’t a situation that arises that Dr. King has not already led us, Maya Angelou led us already today. He said: ‘The ballot, the ballot, the ballot. Legislation, legislation, legislation. Your life, your life, your life.’ Everyone needs to see the relationship between what happens on election day and what happens in your life because of legislation which is what we see now. So, this is not to be political, we want the people to hold all elected officials accountable and while, hopefully, not to be political, hopefully we have a change in November, but nonetheless we will have change of heart of the people whether Democrats or Republicans who understand that if they are people of faith, they cannot reject people in the way that this budget does. Our guests here will be happy to answer any of your difficult question.
Q: Thank you, Leader Pelosi, KCBS radio. This tax bill – working people are getting more money in their paychecks – what’s wrong with that?
Leader Pelosi. Thank you for that question. As I said, we recognize that some people are getting a little bit more. But there is a banquet out there for the high-end and that’s just not right. While they are getting a little bit more, they are getting things taken away and that’s what we will see. They put this little goodie in there for people to say, ‘This is the greatest thing’, but at the same time, they took away things.
In our state of California, they have harmed us greatly by taking away the SALT, the state and local tax deduction. Now this is about San Francisco and all over our state – it will lose tens of billions of dollars because of the loss of that deduction so, in many parts of our country they are not affected as much, they are affected by the budget – Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps and the rest. Many of those people affected are our veterans – Meals on Wheels, food stamps. Hundreds of thousands of our veterans are on Medicaid – not only from the VA – but Social Security, disability – all those other issues are Medicaid.
So, temporarily, there is a small increase and that is welcomed, it is temporary. The huge tax break they gave to the high end and corporate America is permanent and unpaid-for. What they will tell you is, ‘It pays for itself.’ It doesn’t. Even the architect of the plan [Bruce Bartlett], said, ‘Anyone who says it pays for itself, it’s not true, it’s nonsense.’ He went on to say, ‘BS’ and he went on to say the full word.
So, again, while we may have an increase, we recognize that is a good thing, it is not permanent and it’s small compared to what the high-end are getting and it’s robbing from the future by increasing the national debt. This is a fight we will continue to make.
Q: Leader Pelosi, so much of this fight is about values, Democratic Party’s platform and values. I want to pivot to a conversation that is happening right now regarding gun reform – we’re seeing kids gunned down. Can you address the role that children are playing right now. You see it in what’s happening Alameda – students left Alameda High School – to affect some sort of change. You saw it went nowhere in Florida with their vote on banning assault rifles. What’s the role of young people right now in affecting change.
Leader Pelosi. Thank you for your very important question. I did want to stay with this for the moment but I’d be pleased to go in that direction if that is the will of the group. I think we are at a tipping point moment in terms of people understanding how they’re getting affected by that – sure I may get a little more in paycheck – but look what’s happening to our society, our children’s future and so this is a tipping point. I think we saw a tipping point when it comes to women and sexual harassment and the rest. The discussion has changed, we have gone to a different place. I think the Women’s March, both last year and this year, women have said, ‘I know that my showing up makes a difference.’
So this is reason to be very hopeful. On this issue, on gun safety, this is so important. You would have thought the death of little children in Newtown would have broken the heart of NRA and broken their resolve of preventing legislation from coming to the Floor. But these children are just old enough to be able to speak out with great eloquence, understanding social media, using it very effectively, old enough, really, to – on the 14th of March – they’re not going to school – on the 24th there is the march – and they are attracting support.
This is the other tipping point. All we are asking for is the Speaker in the Congress is give us a vote. We believe there is bipartisan support for improving the background check bill, we’re talking about online purchases and gun shows and maybe fixing the South Carolina deadline. It’s an improvement on a law that is already there – it would save so many lives. Secondly, we are saying, let’s stop the prohibition on the Center for Disease Control not being able to study gun violence. We don’t want to know the facts so we can act upon them? No, we do want to know the facts. That is one of the things that has been brought up. The kids have very beautifully said, ‘Sit down and talk about it.’
We have been asking the Speaker for a long time for a select committee to come together to talk about what some possibilities are on what could get passed – an assault weapons ban, background checks, CDC. The leader on this issue is from our area, Congressman Mike Thompson, he has dealt with assault weapons in war, he is a gun owner, he is a hunter, he believes in the Second Amendment and he is trying to bring people together and he has bipartisan support to do just what I said.
So just give us a vote. They talk about shutting down the government, they have shut down the Congress when it comes to this issue. But to your point, these young people have crossed the threshold because they have seen it, they have experienced it. We talk to the parents, the families, the people affected by this – we are always observing some sad anniversary – whether it is Pulse, Las Vegas, the kids in Newtown. The parents say to us, ‘When you go through this’ – let me add, the moms whose kids are gunned down in events that are not high-profile, every day in our country, those moms come to us and say, ‘When this happens to you, you always will have a pre-existing condition, the trauma of it all.’ And these kids, more so than anyone because of their impressionable age and how close up they were to the violence. So God bless them for what they do.
When we had our sit-in with [Congressman] John Lewis, that was like a year and a half ago, on the Floor of the House to demand a vote from the Speaker which we didn’t get, do you know what the response was? ‘We want to have an investigation on who periscoped or tweeted out what was happening on the Floor.’ They didn’t want the public to know what was happening. I mean, really? We are talking about saving lives. These kids are doing a historical thing, they will make a big difference, they are channeling their grief, their sorrow, their anger. God bless us for that. As soon as we go back we will see what happens.
Q: On a different topic in the district, there is now talk about a second BART tube, your opinion on that and how it can be funded? Will Washington help?
Leader Pelosi. You see, one of the other curiosities of this tax bill and this budget is, the President has always said he is going to have a big infrastructure bill and that is something we can work on in a bipartisan way. Except what he did was say well because, his staff told me, because we have such a big debt now created and grown by the tax cuts, that the infrastructure bill is going to be $200 hundred billion dollars over ten years. Twenty billion dollars, that is very small. At the same time, in his budget he subtracted $ billion dollars from the infrastructure budget. We are going to spend $200 hundred billion over ten years, but were subtracting $ billion. So the money is just not there. But on that subject, everything that we have ever done on infrastructure has been regional. In other words, everybody comes together. Let us weigh the equities of one project or another, and we have some unfinished business. We have Caltrans that are expensive that we have advanced but we still have not done. In the President’s budget, he not only cuts those initiatives, that would mean no more TIGER Grants, no more investment, no more startups. So this does not bode well, this budget is not a match for that. But good for the folks here to be thinking big. Because when you think infrastructure you have to think big, you have to plan grandly. You have to think about the future. But you cannot have a situation where that recognition does not happen from the federal standpoint. We do hope that we can sit down with him and actually move to a real infrastructure. My motto on it is ‘Build, Build, Build.” Build the infrastructure of America across the country, where ever the needs are. Let’s try and find a way, with bonding and all kinds of ways, to fund it.
Q: Do you support a second BART?
Leader Pelosi. I am just hearing that from you now and earlier this morning. What I am saying is you asked the question how is it going to be paid for. What I said to you is now repeated, these decisions about such a major infrastructure advance are regional decisions and have to be made in light of what is standing in line already and where the money will come from. But your former question was, how was it going to be paid for? There is no future for it in the budget that the President put forward.
Q: John Wildermuth, San Francisco Chronicle. In recent tweets polls have shown that more and more people are moving towards support of the tax bill. There was a story in the New York Times a couple of days ago that said people that didn’t like it originally are now seeing money and their paycheck and think it is a good thing. How do you deal with that movement? What do you have to tell them?
Leader Pelosi. Well I have been in almost eight cities in the last ten days taking this message out there. Our members are doing that all over the country. The point is yes, as the gentleman from CBS said, yes people are getting a little more in their paychecks, and there are tens of millions of dollars being spent by the Republicans to mischaracterize what this tax bill is. What the Republicans have told their members, do not talk about any subject except the tax bill. But you cannot talk about the tax bill without talking about what it does to the budget.
You want to talk about the tax bill, the impact that it has on Medicare and Medicaid is what people should know. I think the number of Democrats went from nine to seventeen or something like that. Well the Republicans love tax cuts. Well tax cuts for the high end, trickle down economics, that is what they care about. But I do believe that with the information that will be out there. If you get a little more out of your paycheck that is good, let us recognize that, that is good. But when it is offset and can really threaten the financial stability of your family. And by the way, this is not a Democratic or Republican issue, this is about the United States of America. This tax bill is taking us deeply in debt. It is mortgaging our children’s future and why, to give a tax cut to the high end. And by the way, these tax cuts for corporate America that are going out there. In this bill, if you are a corporation that wants to create jobs overseas, you get a better tax break than if you want to create jobs in America. So we have to know about it. We have to know what it does, how unfair it is, and what it’s implication is for the budget. So I think what the measure that you are seeing is what is the tax cut without seeing what is that black cloud over the budget. And that is the faith that people have and we welcome it.
Q: I just wanted to find out will the DNC, I know they have done some restructuring, but will they have a campaign on infrastructure?
Leader Pelosi. Yes we do have a campaign it is called A Better Deal. Better jobs, better pay, better future. And the people will bring a better future for women, better future for rural America, better future for the Bronx. People are tailoring it to their area, and as I said part of that is build, build, build. Build the infrastructure of America, build the human infrastructure. Health, education, the wellbeing of American people, and not cutting investments in people. And then build and strengthen our democracy by getting rid of Russian interference in our election, by getting rid of Citizens United big dark money into our elections. We feel our Members created their message, it works for them in their districts, some of which are quite different than ours. But we feel good about it.
Q: The President recently tweeted that he would be in favor of doing something about background checks, do you think that is enough to change the dynamic in the House to get a vote on some kind of bill?
Leader Pelosi. Well it depends on what he is talking about. The President said two things. He said he wanted to do something about bump stock and background checks. Now what he said that he wanted to do about the bump stock is exactly the line of the National Rifle Association. The National Rifle Association does not want to do anything about it. They say let the Justice Department handle it. Well they can’t. It must be a law of the Congress. So when the President says ‘I am asking the Justice Department to do it’, he is a direct echo of his friends the National Rifle Association. We will see what he wants to do on background checks, it is a simple formula. Gun shows, internet sales, and timing so that now when we run a background check if you don’t have a “no” in 72 hours, it becomes a yes. We are saying no, sometimes you need a little bit more time to follow up if the name was incorrect, if it was misspelled if the address was wrong, the county was indicated incorrectly. But lives are at stake and we have to do it right.
I welcome and hope that what the President is talking about will be so. So does that mean we have a vote on the floor? We have to ask the Speaker that because so far, so far, not Newtown, not Pulse, not Las Vegas, not San Bernardino, not anything so far has encouraged him to bring a vote, which we would win. Which we would win. So again you have to be optimistic, you have to be hopeful, you have to take responsibility, and say that we are going to spread the word to make sure that people know that what is at stake, how it affects people. And yes recognizing that while there maybe, oh I got a little bit more in my pay so I am ok I am ok, that is not the full picture. What matters is what the implication is for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps, HUD, all of the things that are a part of our community.
Thank you all very much!
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