During my exclusive interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, I asked her about some of the more controversial spending in the stimulus package, including hundreds of millions to expand family planning services, and $600 million in coupons to help people to convert to digital television.
"The family planning services reduce cost," Pelosi said, "One of the elements of this package is assistance to the states. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children’s health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those – one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government."
"So no apologies for that?" I asked her.
"No apologies. No," Pelosi said. "And this is a, to stimulate the economy, is an economic recovery package and as we put it forth we have to deal with the consequences of the downturn in our economy. Food stamps, unemployment insurance, some of the initiatives you just mentioned. Believe it or not, they’re the right thing to do but they also stimulate the economy."
On the $600 million to assist with the conversion to digital television, Pelosi argued for the spending — but also said it might be taken out of the bill.
"Well, it’s important for these people," Pelosi said, "This is a change in our country. If there – if it doesn’t meet that test it will not end up in the bill at the end of the day. We are just beginning the process. It is timely. The senator talked about timeliness of this. And it helps meet the needs of the American people. But again, we have begun the process. We believe that what is in there, again, meets the test of growing the economy, creating jobs. Sort of a time release. Immediately creating jobs and then sustaining the job growth over time."