Speaking to a crowd of union workers on Capitol Hill today, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi unloaded on Republican plans to lower the deficit through deep cuts to government services in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. Frustrations are running high in Congress with the default deadline rapidly approaching, and Pelosi spoke with a fire that suggested the endless debate over the debt ceiling is taking its toll on her patience.
“This isn’t just about them saying we should reduce the deficit,” she said, adding: “This is an excuse. The budget deficit is an excuse for the Republicans to undermine government plain and simple. They don’t just want to make cuts, they want to destroy. They want to destroy food safety, clean air, clean water, the department of education. They want to destroy your rights.”
Pelosi said that Democratic approach to the debt and deficit problem isn’t just more balanced, as President Obama has said, but is aimed at improving the lot of the middle class workers she was speaking to. The purpose of the press conference was to address the continuing battle over the NLRB, which has pitted the core constituencies of both parties against each other.
As with everything on the Hill these days, however, the debt ceiling crisis seeped in, with Pelosi tearing into the Republican budget cut demands near the end of the session.
“We all want to be fiscally sound,” she said. “We don’t want to do harm to our economic growth but we know that if we can save some money, we’d like to do that.”
The Republicans, Pelosi said, her voice rising, have something very different in mind.
“They do not like the government,” Pelosi said. “They’re riding an engine of popular support for, ok we have to reduce the deficit. And they’re using that to destroy.”
“The Speaker has said that between him and the president they have a different vision of America and that’s how come their budget proposals are different,” she sad. “Quite different…We get the sacrifice, they get the wealth.”
Late update: Here’s video of Pelosi ripping into Republicans for their approach to deficit reduction: