Pelosi: “Rather Be in Our Position … Than Theirs”

Speaker keeps the faith, tells Charlie Rose “our members are battle-ready.”

From “Charlie Rose”:

Charlie Rose:
If I talk to you six months from now, will I be talking to the Speaker of the House or just a representative from California?

Nancy Pelosi:
Well let me say being a representative from California is the greatest honor. To walk on the floor of the House, to be chosen by your constituents to represent them is the highest honor. To be Speaker is a great privilege. However, I have every anticipation that we’ll come together in a similar format as we are now with me as Speaker of the House.

Charlie Rose:
Why do you believe that when the numbers look — I mean, 95 House races are in play they say.

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, who are they? [laughs]

Charlie Rose:
Analysts and journalists and politicians who look at it. Tell me how your numbers are and that would be what I would like to hear.

Nancy Pelosi:
Well let me say why I believe that would be very difficult for the Republicans to take over the House of Representatives. Let me tell you right here and now that I would rather be in our position right now than theirs. In order for them to win, they have to win around 38 seats and we’ll win some and so they’ll have to win in the 40’s. Our members are battle-ready. Many of them have won two elections that were very tough elections. They’ve won in very difficult districts but in terms of Democratic numbers. And they know how to win those elections. Their voters, a, they, when we were full-bore [spelled phonetically] in 2006, the war in Iraq, the unpopularity of the President was in the 30’s. The President was in the 30’s, President Bush. With all of that going forth, with great candidates and the rest, all they won [spelled phonetically] was 30 seats. For them to win maybe 15 more seats than that is a very tall order.

Charlie Rose:
So how do you characterize all those polls that say the Republicans are doing so well including 40 or 40 plus seats that they will win in this election?

Nancy Pelosi:
Well the polls are, from my standpoint, the national generic poll is interest. And the one that came out today had us behind among likely voters but ahead among registered voters. So that means we have to change that reality and have it all about turn out. It’s all about who votes. And so when we see the individual polls, district by district, they’re very close but they’re very promising for us.

Charlie Rose:
Turn out is also about energy, who has the energy in this campaign?

Nancy Pelosi:
Well you know it’s interesting because they talk about the enthusiasm gap –

Charlie Rose:
Right.

Nancy Pelosi:
A lot of that momentum is changing among base Democrats and even some of the issues that appeal to the incumbents in terms of sending our jobs overseas and getting a tax credit to do it, privatizing social security and cutting Medicaid, those issues are important to women and important to independents and important to our base load. So they play across the board. But it is, the turnout is all about the issues. Our people understand what the choice is. The President has said it very clearly. We’re moving America forward. We’re not going back. We’re fighting for the middle class. As I said, we’re preserving social security, not privatizing it. We’re protecting Medicare, not cutting it and making it a voucher — we’re making it in America. That’s our over-riding theme. Making it in America — to support our manufacturing base but also to enable people to make it in America. Again, instead of sending your job overseas and getting a tax credit to do it. So again, for these reasons the choice is a clear one between us and the more people know about that the more the momentum swings to us. And our members are the best communicators in their districts to have an exchange of ideas with their constituents. We feel good about it.

Charlie Rose:
If in fact you’re wrong and the House turns Republican, what will that mean for you?

Nancy Pelosi:
Well let me say this. We’re right in the middle of a playoff, New York, Texas, San Francisco, L.A., would you go up to one of those players tap him on the shoulder and say suppose you lose?

Charlie Rose:
Yeah.

Nancy Pelosi:
We’re in the game. We’re in the arena. We’re in the fight. We don’t have any intention of losing. That isn’t even in our — we’re moving forward with our eyes on the prize as John Lewis always tells us to do and we’re not thinking in terms of what if. Would you if you were in a fight, if you were in the ring, say what if I lose? No. No, I intend to win.

Charlie Rose:
Alright so tell me what you think the big issue is today. Is it a referendum on President Obama? Is it a referendum on unemployment? Is it a referendum on the fact that they don’t like the health care reform? Is it a referendum on the bailouts? Is it a referendum on too much government?

Nancy Pelosi:
Some or maybe all of the above. But I think the main thing is jobs. That is really the four-letter word that we use all the time. When the president came into office, our country was facing a financial crisis. He pulled us back from the brink. A deep recession, pulled us back. But you don’t get credit for what you save people from. And so again, our message is about moving America forward. Nine and a half percent unemployment is a daunting figure. It affects people directly in their lives. And the choice that we have to present to the American people is do you want to go back to the exact same agenda as before, which is what the Republicans said they would do, the exact agenda, or do you want to go forward? And we can show that in the first eight months of this year, more people, more private sector jobs were created than in the eight years of the Bush administration. But again, it’s not enough.

Charlie Rose:
The president has said, the president has said that he has been perceived, he thinks, as a tax and spend Democrat. And that was one of the mistakes he has made in the last two years. He said that to Peter Baker in an article in the “New York Times” magazine.

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, I don’t know — I mean, I didn’t read the article, so I don’t know the context in which that was in. But I will tell you what the president has done. He’s been a visionary leader. It’s just an honor, such an honor to serve with him. Right from the start we created jobs by passing the Recovery Act, in the National Reinvestment and Recovery Act, which if we had — which has created or saved 3.6 million jobs. Economists on the right and left have said if we didn’t take the federal actions that we had, that legislation and others, there would be eight and a half million more people out of work, that unemployment would be 14 1/2 percent, and the deficit would be even worse than it is. That, in some terms, is a depression. So the president has saved us from that. He has been a job creator. But he had to pull us out of a deep ditch. And those investments have helped to do that. If the Republicans had given any level of cooperation to him and to the legislation to create jobs, infrastructure and others, we would have passed the health bill faster, the energy bill.

Charlie Rose:
Were you prepared to negotiate on any of that?

Nancy Pelosi:
We did negotiate on all of it.

Charlie Rose:
And how many votes did you get from the Republicans?

Nancy Pelosi:
None.

Charlie Rose:
None, zero.

Nancy Pelosi:
Yes. On the health care bill, they had maybe close to 200 amendments. Some were accepted, some were altered, and some were not accepted.

Charlie Rose:
So the president came to Washington saying, “I’m for change, and I want a bipartisan environment because the issues are too important not to have solutions that have a bipartisan approach.”

Nancy Pelosi:
That’s right.

Charlie Rose:
What happened?

Nancy Pelosi:
Republicans just said no. They just said no. She said — they made a calculated decision that it was better to obstruct, and it would help them in this election. And by the way, many of them believe in what they said no. You know, I’m not saying it’s strictly a political thing. They were opposed to health care for all Americans. They object to the fact that we have Wall Street reform which has the strongest reforms in decades in terms of the financial and services industry and the greatest consumer protection in the history of our country. They didn’t vote for that. They don’t like that.

Charlie Rose:
Okay. The president has made the point about health care reform and financial reform, you know, that he’s getting criticism within his own party because he didn’t do enough. He didn’t get the public option on the health care reform. On financial reform, they would have liked him to do more things to restrict more banking activities.

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, the president had a balance –

Charlie Rose:
From within the party.

Nancy Pelosi:
Yes. But there’s always that. I mean, on any given day, you’ll have people on the right and on the left, not just on one side. On the right and on the left, this goes too far –

Charlie Rose:
So in your judgment, he should be given the credit for historic legislation.

Nancy Pelosi:
Absolutely. This president has made a tremendous difference.

Charlie Rose:
Do you think the country views it that way, the country, not Republicans, the country?

Nancy Pelosi:
I certainly hope so. When they see the benefits, they will see it more. In other words, in terms of health care, some of that won’t come due for a couple of years. However, in September, the patients Bill of Rights came forth, very popular. Children cannot be denied health care because of a pre-existing condition. No lifetime limits on your care. Children can stay on the policy until you’re 26 — 26 years old, on their parents’ policy. Being a woman is no longer a preexisting medical condition. People like those aspects of the legislation. And you have to have a comprehensive bill for this to work.

Charlie Rose:
The impression is that the health care reform is not very popular in the country, that it provided a lot of new access, but it did not provide the kind of cost containment, and therefore it’s viewed in large sections of the country as too costly?
Nancy Pelosi:
Some people are not — do not have a positive view of the health care bill, some for different reasons. But that cost containment is a very important part of the bill, and the president would never have allowed a bill to go forth, nor would we have supported one, because cost containment was the main — if you had no other reason to do a health care reform bill, cost containment was essential.

Charlie Rose:
But are you saying cost containment was more important than access?

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, I said if you had no other reason. Certainly, you have access as a reason too. Now, what the bill does do is save $1 trillion, 300 billion over the life of the bill, and that’s from the Congressional Budget Office. That’s not from me. We could not –

Charlie Rose:
Hopefully those are accurate.

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, we can’t act unless we act upon the numbers.

Charlie Rose:
No, I know. We talked about that before on this program.

Nancy Pelosi:
No, we cannot add to it. Sometimes we like them, sometimes we don’t. But we have to live by them because they are — this is the impact on the federal budget. Sometimes we don’t like [unintelligible] because they say we don’t get any credit for prevention and this or that. Well, you don’t. And that’s just the way it is. But let me say this: The president came in and said this was a priority. It was not only necessary because of cost containment but because of making America healthier. It’s also a job creator. Four million jobs will be created by this job [spelled phonetically]. And it’s about — it’s about innovation. It’s about prevention. It’s about wellness. But you really don’t hear so much about that because for a long time, the president was striving for bipartisanship in the Senate. He was trying to get Republican support. He kept extending the hand, but it was never reciprocated. So it took a long time to get a bill. And in the course of that time, the bill was characterized. It was about death panels. It was about abortion. It was about socialized medicine, none of which it was. So I think we missed a message opportunity there because we didn’t have a bill.

Charlie Rose:
Okay. But on both the Economic Recovery Act and the stimulus program –

Nancy Pelosi:
Right.

Charlie Rose:
– some people will say that bipartisanship is about the following thing: It is not just listening to what the other side says, but somehow, in order to bring them aboard, to give up some — to allow them to include some things that you may not like –

Nancy Pelosi:
Of course, agreed.

Charlie Rose:
It may be very — also about giving up some things that you wanted as well.

Nancy Pelosi:
Agreed.

Charlie Rose:
That — that didn’t take place. Their argument is would you listen, but you would not include anything they wanted, would not take one step to accept within the bill things that they thought were important.

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, many of their amendments were accepted in the bill in the course of the three committees in the House that were doing the legislation. But I recall to mind the summit that the president had at their house –

Charlie Rose:
With the Republican leadership.

Nancy Pelosi:
With — well, leadership in [unintelligible] committee.

Charlie Rose:
Exactly right.

Nancy Pelosi:
– of jurisdiction. And he said, “Give me your best ideas about what we can do working together.” And this was well into the –

Charlie Rose:
Did they give him any ideas? And did he accept any of them?

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, they had some ideas, but some of which were already in the bill. But if you are never going to vote for the bill — see, think of it this way: If you and I are going — said we are going to come to an agreement, but you are never going to come to agreement, it doesn’t really matter. You know, in other words, if you have a good idea, I want it in the bill whether you’re going to vote for it or not.

Charlie Rose:
Right.

Nancy Pelosi:
And I don’t care if it comes from the right, from the left, from the middle, from the who knows where. If it’s a good idea, we want it in the bill. It wasn’t about keeping the –

Charlie Rose:
Okay. Well, tell me one good idea that the Republicans suggested you put in the bill, from the Republicans, either in the Recovery Act or in the health care reform.

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, we –

Charlie Rose:
One good idea that the Republicans –

Nancy Pelosi:
Let me tell you this: When President Bush was president, and I was the speaker.

Charlie Rose:
Yes.

Nancy Pelosi:
We did a number of things for the good of the country working together.

Charlie Rose:
Education reform being one of them, I guess.

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, that, on the — on the authorizing side, yes, education reform. But also from the standpoint of the speaker’s office and the president’s office, we needed to have a stimulus package. I wanted infrastructure. The president would only do tax rebates. We went along with what he wanted to do as long as he took it down to low income people. So we had that compromise. But we went completely his route. I couldn’t get one — I think infrastructure is really important as we grow our economy and we go forward, but we cooperated with him and went the route he went. The financial crisis was very destructive to our country and to the world economy. The Republicans weren’t voting for that bill, it was the Democrats that worked with President Bush.

Charlie Rose:
Didn’t the TARP program come up during the Republican administration with Hank Paulson, and Ben Bernanke –

Nancy Pelosi:
That’s all happened then.

Charlie Rose:
– and Tim Geithner?

Nancy Pelosi:
It all happened then.

Charlie Rose:
That’s when the TARP program began.

Nancy Pelosi:
That’s when it began. And it would never have passed — you asked earlier on, that, is that what’s making people angry, nothing has made people angrier than the fact that they think that the banks in their view were bailed out and nobody’s bailing them out. That’s why they’re what you –

Charlie Rose:
Are they right about that?

Nancy Pelosi:
No. I think we had to do it. We had to do it.

Charlie Rose:
Right, so people who are angry at the fact that there was a bank bailout and they didn’t get bailed out, you’re saying, “You have to understand that it was necessary at the time for the economic future of the country, sorry.”

Nancy Pelosi:
Not “sorry,” in addition to which the way we insisted that the bill be written, that the taxpayer would be made whole, that the money would come back, and if it didn’t [unintelligible] –

Charlie Rose:
Right. And all but 29 billion of the TARP money has come back.

Nancy Pelosi:
And if the rest doesn’t come back, there’s a fee that will bring it back. So the taxpayer will be made whole in that. If we had not done that, if it — left to their own devices, the Republicans were not passing that, I think nothing though has made the public angrier than that, that bill, especially since with the recklessness of some on Wall Street, and I don’t paint everyone with the same brush, there’s great joblessness for many on Main Street, their jobs, their homes, their pensions, their savings, their children’s education, and the rest, at risk. And there’s a view that some on Wall Street had the attitude that you nationalize the risk but you privatize the gain. So when everything’s okay, they’re okay. When it’s not, the taxpayer and the consumer pays the price.

Charlie Rose:
Some argue that the rhetoric on both sides got out of hand, rhetoric against the president, but also the president’s demonization of Wall Street. Do you agree with that or –

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, Wall Street did cause a — you know, not all — again, not all of Wall Street, and I think some people on Wall Street projected their own good practices on others and thought, “Well, why are they demonizing us? We didn’t do that.” Well, some people did, and it took a terrible toll. Another place where we worked together, back to your question, with President Bush, was to pass a strong energy bill in 2008, a bill that the president signed, that was very strong in that.

Charlie Rose:
Speaking of that, you passed energy legislation, cap in trade. Everybody thinks it’s dead.

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, the idea is not dead. The Senate will have some legislation that we hope will –

Charlie Rose:
Will it include cap in trade?

Nancy Pelosi:
I don’t know. It may be some other version of how you put a price on carbon or maybe not. But the idea that we have to do something is not dead. And, again, we put a marker on the table, the private sector — this has to be oriented to the private sector — they have to make a market under some set of standards with some policy that encourages the private sector to be involved. So I think we will end up with something there. But we were able, in the Recovery Act, to put tens of billions of dollars to lift us up in terms of battery research and production in our country. The President said at his swearing in, we will harness the soil and the sun and the wind to fill our cars and run our factories. And that is not dead. The world is not waiting for us to do this. You know that China is very aggressive in this regard and it’s happening. So if we’re going to be competitive internationally, if we’re going to be more secure by reducing our dependence on foreign oil, if we’re going to be healthier by reducing emissions in the air and if we’re going to honor our responsibility to our children to pass on this planet, we will be doing things. Whether we do one big bill or [unintelligible]–

Charlie Rose:
Well the fact that we haven’t done it has led many people to say the Congress is dysfunctional. It cannot address the nation’s big problems.

Nancy Pelosi:
Well I don’t know who’s saying that.

Charlie Rose:
[unintelligible] this is not the first time you’ve heard that.

Nancy Pelosi:
I know but I have also heard and you had Mr. Pearlstein here the other day and we have a series of articles –

Charlie Rose:
I did. I’m glad you saw it.

Nancy Pelosi:
– coming out saying that this is the most productive Congress in a very long time. It stands with maybe the New Deal and the Great Society in making a big difference.

Charlie Rose:
Then why aren’t the Democrats sweeping to election success?

Nancy Pelosi:
One step at a time. The American people have to speak first and then our Caucus has to speak about our leadership. I –

Charlie Rose:
But you just said it’s been an extraordinary, an historic effort by the President and the Congress yet the Democrats, and everybody agrees, are looking at a very challenging political situation.

Nancy Pelosi:
Nine and a half percent unemployment. It eclipses almost everything. But the fact is, this President and this Congress have passed historic health care reform, Wall Street reform that we already did discuss, a higher ed — making college more affordable for our young people and families. Very, very important. A whole list of issues that relate to our economy, the recovery and the investment aspect. Very, very important as well. But again, a whole other array of issues that address the effectiveness of this Congress, there is no question about that. The question that you asked, rightly asked, is why doesn’t the public know it? How many people do you think know that in the first eight months of this year more private sector jobs were created than in the eight years of the Bush administration.

Charlie Rose:
It’s your fault that they don’t know.

Nancy Pelosi:
I agree.

Charlie Rose:
Why haven’t you been better explaining what you’ve done?

Nancy Pelosi:
Our members are doing that one, each discretely in their districts. This is not a national election. It is district by district.
Charlie Rose:
If the choice is a continuation of what has happened in the first two years versus something else, you are convinced the American people will be very kind to the Democratic party.

Nancy Pelosi:
Well I think that it’s clear to us that a majority supports the agenda of stop sending jobs overseas, preserve social security, [unintelligible]

Charlie Rose:
They you ought to be Speaker of the House, for sure, if the majority of the people in the country support what you have done, you –

Nancy Pelosi:
It’s a question of turn out.

Charlie Rose:
Then why don’t you have enthusiasm? I mean, if this is historic [unintelligible] turn out, then you ought to be energized to continue –

Nancy Pelosi:
Right. But you know it’s a funny thing. People say who has the energy? Well, people say, “I’m going to vote. I’m not enthusiastic about it, but I’m going to vote.” So it’s not a question of enthusiasm. It’s a question of who’s going to vote, whether their enthusiastic or not.

Charlie Rose:
So more Republicans — a high percentage of Republicans are going to vote than percentage of Democrats?

Nancy Pelosi:
That, I don’t know.

Charlie Rose:
Their turnout is better? They’ve got –

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, what they have is tens of millions of unidentified, unlimited money coming from elements from the financial services industry that doesn’t like the Wall Street reform, from the health insurance industry that wants to take — wants to voucherize Medicare and turn back some of the health care reforms. From Wall Street again, which would like to have a piece of social security.

Charlie Rose:
Fair enough. That’s –

Nancy Pelosi:
So you have this money flooding. And you know why they did it?

Charlie Rose:
Why?

Nancy Pelosi:
Because they knew they weren’t going to win, and they had to swamp the election.

Charlie Rose:
Now you’re talking about now to influence the election that we are on here, not legislation of the past.

Nancy Pelosi:
I’m talking about this election right now, yes.

Charlie Rose:
You know what they say. The question is yes, those charges have been made, and some people believe they have traction. Then the question comes, what’s the evidence?

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, –

Charlie Rose:
What’s the evidence?

Nancy Pelosi:
A number — I think — I think 17, but I may have the number wrong — senators have written to the SEC to say, “Where is this money coming from?” But there is no need for evidence to know that the money is not disclosed.

Charlie Rose:
So why can’t you find the evidence if it’s happening?

Nancy Pelosi:
But it is happening. And the question — here it is. We had something called the Disclose Act sponsored by Chris van Hollen, our great Chairman of the Committee.

Charlie Rose:
Campaign Committee.

Nancy Pelosi:
Campaign Committee.

Charlie Rose:
Right.

Nancy Pelosi:
Disclose Act. It just said to people, stand by your ad. Stand by your ad. If you’re proud of what you’re saying, just tell us who you are.

Charlie Rose:
The president used to talk about this. Is he continuing to talk about this –

Nancy Pelosi:
Yeah.

Charlie Rose:
– as you campaigns across the country?

Nancy Pelosi:
And connecting it with the issues.

Charlie Rose:
The idea of foreign money flowing into this race?

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, secret money, whatever it happens to be. And we think that’s foreign money. But the fact is it’s not disclosed money. And we have to live by –

Charlie Rose:
Who controls the funds?

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, you know it’s a matter of public record.

Charlie Rose:
What do you think of the Tea Party?

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, that has many meanings now, doesn’t it?

Charlie Rose:
Well, tell me what it means to you.

Nancy Pelosi:
Many manifestations. Well, one of them is that they are — don’t like the fact that special interests have such a control — have had such a controlling role in Washington, D.C. And that’s one place where we have some area of agreement.

Charlie Rose:
So you are with them on that. When they say that special interests have too much influence, you say –

Nancy Pelosi:
Have had.

Charlie Rose:
– you’ve got the Speaker of the House on your side.

Nancy Pelosi:
Have had. And President Obama said we’re changing the way we do business in Washington, and that’s why Wall Street reform, health care reform, changes in our energy legislation, even though not the big bill, reduce the cost of student loans. Banks don’t like that. So that, yes. But there are other manifestations of the Tea Party that might not be as benign. And some of it may be — some of the good intentions of some may be hijacked and financed by the Republican party.

Charlie Rose:
Part of their argument has to do with the size of the debt and the deficit, you know. And with what they see –

Nancy Pelosi:
I agree with that.

Charlie Rose:
And well, what they see as healthcare and lots of other programs adding to that deficit. They are alarmed by the level of American debt.

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, let’s, again, correct the record on health care. Our system could not sustain health care, the cost of health care in our country, not individuals, not families, not businesses, not the economy and not competitive internationally to have heavy [unintelligible] costs on our businesses, and certainly not our central budget. So if we’re just talking about the federal budget now, and that cost, $1 trillion, 300 billion saved under this legislation because it reduces the cost of healthcare. And so it’s a false claim to say. Now, they may say, as some of it is about the health insurance industry that doesn’t like the bill in the first place, so they say all these things. But the fact is if we had no other reason, if everybody had access, and everybody loved their care and everybody was treated fairly in the health care system, the cost of healthcare is unsustainable, and we had to pass the legislation for that reason.

Charlie Rose:
You’ve got a bipartisan deficit commission.

Nancy Pelosi:
Yes.

Charlie Rose:
What’s going to happen when they release their report?

Nancy Pelosi:
The process will be this — let me put it in context. Recognizing that the deficit is something, I don’t — I have children, I have many grandchildren. I don’t intend to pass any personal debts or public debts onto them. This is almost a moral issue, the fiscal responsibility for our country. That’s why we’ve been whetted to pay as you go, which when it was in effect under President Clinton, four of his last budgets were either in balance or in surplus. He put us on a trajectory of trillions of dollars in surplus. President Bush came in and turned that all around, historic turn around of like $11 trillion change to take us back into debt because he did not support pay as you go, which is what we had during the Clinton years and which we now have as the law of the land once again. Pay as you go. You cannot increase the deficit, a. Two, we have insisted that all the committees, the waste, fraud, abuse, strip everything, subject every federal dollar to the harshest scrutiny to see what is obsolete, what’s duplicative, et cetera. Third, we establish this — the president establish this commission. It was supposed to be legislatively established, but the Republicans in the Senate voted against it so that the president said, “Okay, then I’ll do it by executive order.” So again, pay as you go, no new deficit spending, and strip down those bills to the bare — to what is necessary, and again, the commission. So the commission will issue its report. I think it’s due –

Charlie Rose:
A bipartisan commission.

Nancy Pelosi:
Bipartisan commission, December 1. Following that, the Senate will take up the recommendation. And if they pass the recommendation, then it comes to the House of Representatives.

Charlie Rose:
And so whatever they recommend — some have suggested there out to be simply an up and down vote in both the House and the Senate. What would you think of that idea?

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, I don’t know why we would surrender the discretion of Congress to have a debate on it. But –

Charlie Rose:
The debate on it either would take issue with [unintelligible] either be accepted or not.

Nancy Pelosi:
No.

Charlie Rose:
The recommendation of a bipartisan commission, one of the more important issues in the country, which is the size of our debt.

Nancy Pelosi:
Yes, but our members have — here is the thing. I think people are optimistic about what might come out of it. But when we talk about it, and I think it’s really important to make this distinction. People are saying, “What are they going to do to social security?” And I think that just as this table has a line through it, you have to keep these issues separate. If you are talking about keeping social security solvent, then whatever you decide for social security should be on this side of the ledger. Social security is not adding to the deficit, nor should it be an ATM machine for tax cuts for the wealth or any other initiative that would increase the deficit and say, “Okay, we’re going to raise the retirement age on social security so we can balance the budget so we can give tax cuts to the high end.” That’s what the Republican plan would be. We’re saying, “Social security? Let’s deal with it. It has to be solvent. What are some of the solutions to ensure that it is?” Reducing the deficit, that’s about pay as you go, it’s about fiscal soundness –

Charlie Rose:
How about Medicare?

Nancy Pelosi:
Medicare — it’s a very big challenge. We went a long way down the road in the health care bill by cutting half a trillion dollars of excess cost out of Medicare in order to be able to sustain it. The Republicans are running around saying, “Oh, you cut $500 billion out of Medicare,” not out of benefits, not out of what it means to people and consumers, but out of waste, fraud, abuse, administration — not administration — but any other excesses that were in Medicare, absolutely essential. So we did some of the work of the Commission already in that bill. But it’ll be interesting to see what they come up with. They have had a while, a number of months, good people gathered together, I think of good intent, and we look forward to seeing what [unintelligible] –

Charlie Rose:
And it comes in December.

Nancy Pelosi:
It comes in December. But, again, I wouldn’t put every egg in that basket. That’s one element. We still have to have that pay as you go. We still — and that means if you want to — if you — you have to have offsets per se.

Charlie Rose:
[unintelligible] Congress said pay as you go?

Nancy Pelosi:
Yes, it has. It has.

Charlie Rose:
So in other words, whenever there was a revenue item, there was a –

Nancy Pelosi:
No, the Republicans would not –

Charlie Rose:
Whenever there was a revenue item, there was, in fact, a — whenever there was –

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, it was revenue and investment.

Charlie Rose:
Expense, right.

Nancy Pelosi:
Yeah, revenue and expenses, now, the Republicans don’t want to pay for tax cuts. They said, “Oh, we shouldn’t pay for tax cuts.”

Charlie Rose:
What do you mean by “pay for tax cuts”? Republicans are in favor of tax customer. They were in favor of the Bush tax cuts, were they not?

Nancy Pelosi:
But they don’t want to pay for them.

Charlie Rose:
And they don’t want to see, according to the man who would like to be you, Spaner [spelled phonetically], they do not want to see any doing away with the Bush tax cuts.

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, here’s where we are.
[talking simultaneously]

Charlie Rose:
[unintelligible] wealthy, as well to the middle class.

Nancy Pelosi:
And this is a point of difference between us. The President has proposed as he did in his campaign that we have a tax cut for all Americans. And after $250,000 you still get the tax cut of joint filer but you don’t get an extra tax cut. That extra tax cut cost $700 billion.

Charlie Rose:
Hundred billion dollars.

Nancy Pelosi:
The Republicans said, “Give it — there anyway and don’t pay for it.”

Charlie Rose:
Can I ask you the — the tax cut for the middle class cost $1.3 trillion.

Nancy Pelosi:
Yes, but it’s a job create — and at that end it has a different dynamic effect.

Charlie Rose:
It’s a job creator?

Nancy Pelosi:
It has — it’s much more of a job creator than giving thee or me an extra tax cut at this end. It’s not going to make any difference in our spending.

Charlie Rose:
If the President, and perhaps he did, had come to the Speaker and said, “We have no bigger challenge than to do something about unemployment in this country. We’re going through an enormous economic crisis but unemployment is a consequence that we have to deal with. If I do nothing else, Madam Speaker, I want to bring that down to eight percent, and hopefully more,” is there anything that the two of you could have done to have achieved that goal? And why didn’t you?

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, first of all let me say that the President, when he said –

Charlie Rose:
The majority in the Congress — in the House and in the Senate.

Nancy Pelosi:
But you need 60 votes in the Senate.

Charlie Rose:
I know.

Nancy Pelosi:
You need 60 votes in the Senate, and that’s an answer to almost every question because we had sent them a jobs bill over and over again.

Charlie Rose:
Well, and I guess –

Nancy Pelosi:
And you need –

Charlie Rose:
– when Mr. Brown was elected to succeed Senator Kennedy, that was a wakeup call for where things were.

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, it also prevented us from getting 60 votes for some of these job bills [spelled phonetically]. But I think it’s [unintelligible] –

Charlie Rose:
What would you have said, though? I mean, that’s the question.

Nancy Pelosi:
No, no, no, but here’s what the President did do. The President sent us a budget, 100 days exactly after his inauguration the House and the Senate passed the President’s budget. It was a values based budget about what’s important to our country and how we allocate our resources. It was to reduce taxes for the middle class, lower the deficit, and create jobs around three pillars, health care reform, four million jobs, climate and energy, almost two million jobs.

Charlie Rose:
Education?

Nancy Pelosi:
Education/innovation, because it begins in the classroom.

Charlie Rose:
Right.

Nancy Pelosi:
If those bills had been passed in a time — and they were the job creators — if those bills had been passed in a timely fashion, many more jobs would have been created.
[simultaneous discussion]

Charlie Rose:
Okay, I’m not –

Nancy Pelosi:
So on top of the Recovery Act, one week and one day after the inaugural address, we passed the Recovery Act. So that was a job creater. Without it, we’d be in much worse shape in terms of unemployment. Other things happened that we didn’t get these bills passed soon enough that they would be job creators. We had other infra-structure bills that the Senate didn’t then have the votes for. You have to remember, we didn’t have 60 votes until the summer. There was no Arlen Specter Democrat. There was no Al Franken.

Charlie Rose:
So did that change the filibuster rule in the Senate.

Nancy Pelosi:
[uintelligible] in the House
[simultaneous discussion]

Charlie Rose:
You just said it, it’s the biggest problem. The answer to all the questions are –

Nancy Pelosi:
It is a problem. It is a problem.

Charlie Rose:
So does it make government in America dysfunctional? Does it?

Nancy Pelosi:
Well we were able to pass the health care bill under reconciliation because we didn’t have 60 votes.

Charlie Rose:
Because you didn’t have 60 votes.

Nancy Pelosi:
No, I can– I don’t want to go into the rules, into the Senate.

Charlie Rose:
It says to you that we’re dysfunctional if we couldn’t do it?

Nancy Pelosi:
I’m not claiming that we’re dysfunctional. I’m just saying that I think that everything has to be reviewed because the fact is one senator in the United States Senate could hold up — It isn’t just about getting 60, it’s about one senator having the power to hold up any legislation –

Charlie Rose:
And hold up appointments

Nancy Pelosi:
[uintelligible] an expression, 99 senators are not enough. If you have one who objects, then you have a problem. So let’s have some clarity that the President had an emergency bill at the beginning of the Congress which was a job creator. He had a budget that was to develop that. We had infra-structure legislation which we could not get passed in the Senate. So because many on the Republican side were saying, were just saying no. “We’re just saying no.” Maybe it’s what they believe that they didn’t think there should be these government initiatives. Maybe it’s political. Maybe it’s a combination. Whatever it is, I trust it’s what they believed.

Charlie Rose:
Fair enough. The President had said — The President in the interview that he did with Peter Baker in “The New York Times” magazine which I’m sure you have read or want to read — said that there are no — “I discovered” the President said, “there really aren’t any shovel-ready projects.”

Nancy Pelosi:
Well we in the House have a different view. If they’re not shovel-ready, they’re bulldozer-ready. The fact is, it’s a year and a half later –

Charlie Rose:
So you could have shown the President some bulldozer-ready projects and he could have spent the money on them and created some jobs.

Nancy Pelosi:
It’s just a question of the definition of terms. The fact is that our country has to have an infra-structure vision.

Charlie Rose:
Would the country have been better off if the Recovery Act had not been $700 billion, but had been $1.3 trillion, which is the number that Christine Romer apparently recommended.

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, we had a bigger bill in the House.

Charlie Rose:
So is that what we needed? Was it a mistake for jobs and recovery not to have a much larger stimulus program?

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, let me say this: In all of these things, we want to do two things. We wanted to create jobs, and we want to be fiscally sound. So it was thought that that was the balance that did both so that we were not going — because this costs money to do this, obviously. And so that was a place that was the balance. If Greece hadn’t happened, if BP hadn’t — you know, there are other things that have stood in the way of job creation in addition to the Republicans in the United States Senate who, by the 60-vote margin, we couldn’t get much passed there, unfortunately. But I’ll tell you that in the House, many people think and thought at the time that we needed a bigger package. I myself was trying to balance the sensitivity that we have on fiscal responsibility.

Charlie Rose:
So you’re saying your members, a significant number of your members thought you needed a larger package, or are you saying just members of the president’s economic team thought they needed a larger package?

Nancy Pelosi:
I can’t speak to the president’s economic team. You have their quotes. But from the standpoint of the house, we either wanted — what we did want was infrastructure legislation, the highway and infrastructure legislation [unintelligible] passed in the Senate.

Charlie Rose:
If you got $700 billion without any Republican support, you could have gotten 1.3 trillion without any Republican support, and your argument you is couldn’t have got it in the Senate?

Nancy Pelosi:
We couldn’t have gotten it in the Senate, but let me also say that –

Charlie Rose:
You could have gotten it in the House. You could have gotten the 1.3 stimulus –

Nancy Pelosi:
I don’t know that. I don’t know that. No, I don’t know that.

Charlie Rose:
Do you think Democrats would have defected to 1.3 trillion?

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, we had it bigger than the 700 billion. The compromise was at the 700. But remember that $300 billion of that recovery package was middle income tax relief, $300 billion. Most people don’t remember –

Charlie Rose:
You know what the president says about that? He said, “What I should have done in the negotiations is allow the Republicans to say, ‘Look, they wanted that. And this is it.’” So he said, “I should have given them, allowed them to take credit for that. It would have been a better political idea for the perception in the country.”

Nancy Pelosi:
I have no idea. I don’t know if it would have worked. I mean, I trust that the president thinks that. That’s fine. But they have obstructed everything. They have decided to just say no. And so at the time, we had 58 Democrats. They had to get two Republicans in the Senate. And nobody wants to be number 60, so they had to get three Republicans so nobody would be the one. And in order to do that, the bill changed in the Senate. Still a very powerful bill.

Charlie Rose:
Absolutely.

Nancy Pelosi:
Still a very powerful bill. Our members thought, though, that an infrastructure bill would be coming soon. But the — to enlarge the issue this way, it’s not enough just to put people back to work. That’s an important thing, and that’s in the cycle of [unintelligible].

Charlie Rose:
Spend $500 billion to retrain them, then.

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, we have to also have other initiatives. We have to have the new green tech jobs for the future. And people know that. There’s so much need. We have trillions of dollars of deficit in our infrastructure, whether it’s water privatees, whether it’s broadband, whether it’s high-speed rail, whether it’s highways.

Charlie Rose:
Fair enough. Then tell me why we don’t have it.

Nancy Pelosi:
Why we don’t have the –

Charlie Rose:
All the things you just suggested we need.

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, we –

Charlie Rose:
Why don’t we have it? And why don’t we have — is there a serious proposal to give us the kind of high-speed train that they have in Europe or that they have in China? China, yeah.

Nancy Pelosi:
I’ve been in them.

Charlie Rose:
So tell me, is there a serious approach to that kind of high-speed rail transportation in this country? We’re talking about a program down in Florida between Tampa and somewhere, aren’t we?

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, the Kerry Act had a number of initiatives in it. And tiger grants were being given out around the country. But we have to do more. But what we have to do is come together in a bipartisan way, public-private, public-private, because the private sector knows that we have to take make these investments in infrastructure. It’s about moving commerce. It’s about moving people. It’s about cleaning the air because of mass transit rather than roads. It’s about honoring the spirit of Eisenhower, President Eisenhower.

Charlie Rose:
Interstate highway.

Nancy Pelosi:
Interstate highway. In a time of not good economy, he went forth and did the Interstate Highway Bill to unite America. It was a defense issue that we should be able to travel across America more quickly. Senator Gore of Tennessee, Vice President’s father.

Charlie Rose:
Al Gore’s father.

Nancy Pelosi:
He really spearheaded this in the United States Senate. So it was a bipartisan initiative very important to our country. We need something of that caliber. Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower.

Charlie Rose:
And if we don’t have it, can we be competitive in a changing world with the new world order in which there are powerful new economic forces, not just in China and India, but in Turkey, but in Latin America.

Nancy Pelosi:
You’re right to expand it because it’s many more countries. It’s many more countries. Two things, the energy initiatives and the infrastructure initiatives are related. We have to — and the education issue. Stem, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, very important to invest in that so we have the talents to do the infrastructure in a green way as we go forward, that we do the green technology so we’re number one. Think of this: When President Kennedy called for — announced –

Charlie Rose:
The man on the moon project.

Nancy Pelosi:
– [unintelligible] back safely.

Charlie Rose:
Right, right.

Nancy Pelosi:
Safely, within ten years.

Charlie Rose:
Bring them back [unintelligible].

Nancy Pelosi:
Did it in eight.

Charlie Rose:
Right.

Nancy Pelosi:
Did it in eight. The average age of the people in mission control at that time when the — the successful — when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon, the average age in mission control was 26 years old. That means that when the president made the announcement, they were 18 years old, average age.

Charlie Rose:
So they did it pretty fast.

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, they did it fast, but a lot of young people were part of it. And the investments in science and education and the rest are very important to our President Kennedy said of that, “If we are to honor the vows of our founders, we must first. And therefore we intend to be first.” And we were first. And now we intend to be first in terms of the new green technology and –

Charlie Rose:
So what would your man on the moon project be, and return, as you say? That’s what –

Nancy Pelosi:
Safely.

Charlie Rose:
Safely, right.

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, my sights [spelled phonetically] for this year, speaking, of course, healthcare is the preeminent first among equals issue. But in terms of an issue that everybody has not joined into, it’s the issue of addressing energy security, addressing the climate change issue. It’s about national security, [unintelligible] our dependence on foreign oil. It’s about health, reducing emissions in the air. It’s about jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, to have the technologies to keep us number one, preeminent in the world in these new technologies. And the world is not waiting. So national security and jobs, two of our primarily responsibilities. The health issue, of course, is vitally important. But the place where all roads lead when you want to create new jobs for the future is build a green infrastructure for the future, develop the technologies that make us preeminent nationally. That is where I think we [unintelligible]. [unintelligible] came to my office once, and he said to me, well, we were passing the legislation. “If we don’t act by 2012 on the climate issue, it may be too late.” It may be too late. This is really something we cannot ignore. But some people are just getting used to the idea that it exists.

Charlie Rose:
And here’s what some people are saying, as you know. There may not be the will with the kind of deficit we have to spend the kind of money necessary to do the things you just outlined. And that is a crucial debate for the country right now. Are you prepared to pay for, and can you afford to pay for –

Nancy Pelosi:
You have to. You have to pay for it.

Charlie Rose:
So how do you answer those people?

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, first of all, if you don’t let — when we get this report from the bipartisan fiscal commission, and they talk about cuts and this and this and this, I hope they’re also talking about growth because we’re really never going to resolve our fiscal situation unless we have growth, unless we have job creation, and we have money, revenue coming in from people who are working in good-paying jobs. So we have to — it’s a false economy to say we’re not going to spend — we’re not going to feed our kids or send them to school because that costs money, and we want to be fiscally sound. But here is the thing. We have to be very creative — New York has many creative people here — about how we fund it. Public-private partnerships, infrastructure bank, leveraging our dollars far beyond — they’re not ever going to be [unintelligible] –

Charlie Rose:
Yeah, but you’re asking for business — nonprofit, you know, you’re asking for business and the private sector to work together with the administration, and we read stories every day about how business and this administration don’t like each other.

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, I don’t know that, but let me say this, that some of the Wall Street people have said to me who are interested in these issues, that the biggest emerging economy, the biggest emerging market in the world is building the infrastructure of America. That is an economic opportunity. And we have to set the standard and have a policy that attracts capital, perhaps an infrastructure bank to leverage our dollars, there’s never going to be enough appropriated dollars to do what we have to do, we have to think in a very different way. And it is — it’s pretty exciting, it’s pretty exciting because it takes a — it’s one thing to have the ideas about green jobs and building the infrastructure in the new scientific way that is efficient and environmentally sound and moves commerce and product and people to market and the rest, but it’s also — you have to have the business sense of how do we attract capital to that? How do we have public-private partnerships? That’s how our country started. When I first became the Whip — the leader, I made a speech to the Commonwealth Club about –

Charlie Rose:
In San Francisco.

Nancy Pelosi:
– in San Francisco — about the relationship between the public sector and the private sector and how we need each other, how we educate our children, have a — safety in our neighborhoods, how we do what government does, and how the private sector is a creator of jobs and of capital and wealth in our country, and that we are dependent on each other and we must be respectful of each other, and all of the initiatives, that’s health care, energy, whatever it is, we’re always about what will encourage the market forces, what are the private sector solutions that our actions will generate rather than the government do it all.

Charlie Rose:
But then when you say that, and I have to let you go, when you say that, why do you think the perception is so different? That’s not the perception of the leadership in the House, that’s not the perception of the leadership in the White House? [unintelligible] different — those –

Nancy Pelosi:
Well, first [spelled phonetically], this particular issue –

Charlie Rose:
Yeah.

Nancy Pelosi:
– this particular issue, because it hasn’t produced the result that we want yet. But, you know, it’s not going to go away. This is something that has to happen for our country to have a strong economy, to have growth, and to have –

Charlie Rose:
And to be competitive in the world economy, right.

Nancy Pelosi:
– to be number one internationally, to be competitive internationally. And, again, the world is not waiting. And as you know from all of the people they interview, this is a global economy, we cannot sit it out, and it is pretty exciting, but, again, we have to look to the global marketplace as we do, but we also have to say, “Let’s make it in America.” The erosion of our manufacturing, technological and industrial base is an economic issue and it’s a national security issue. We can’t let that go. And we want people to make it in America as they make it in America and not give tax credit to businesses to send jobs overseas. That has to stop. That has to stop.

Charlie Rose:
You know, we’ve had this interesting conversation and it’s interesting to hear you make these kinds of points about our own place in the world and competitiveness and what we can do to make our society stronger. Tom Brokaw wrote a piece in “The New York Times” the other day in which he said there’s no debate in this campaign about foreign policy, about Afghanistan.

Nancy Pelosi:
That’s true.

Charlie Rose:
Should there be?

Nancy Pelosi:
Well they certainly are major issues any time our men and women in uniform, god bless them, are fighting for our country. But I come back to what I said to you before, 9.5 percent unemployment. It eclipses every issue as a political issue in a campaign. Where are the jobs? Where are the jobs for these men and women in uniform when they come home? How are we honoring the service of our veterans by building a future worthy of their sacrifice and to make sure that when we pass a G.I. bill, that they can go to college or a family member can, but we have to have jobs for them when they come home as well. The jobs issue is dominant in every way. But it is true. We won in 2006 when the issue was largely about Iraq and the President was at 38 percent and the public was unhappy, we won 30 seats at that time. This time it’s about jobs and I guess it’s always about jobs now, isn’t it. It’s always about jobs. So I feel — as I said at the beginning, I feel confident about where we are. I’d rather be where we are then the Republicans. We know we’re right on the issues that we have passed in the Congress. We’re proud of that. Our members are fighting the fight in each of their districts across the country. And the American people, they are the boss. They have great wisdom. We all have confidence in them and respect their decision. But, again, I feel pretty good about it.

Charlie Rose:
Thank you very much, Madame Speaker.

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