Pelosi on Deficit Reduction: Do No Harm

By Eliza

Jul 8, 2011 2:48pm

ABC News’ John R. Parkinson (@JRPabcDC) & Steven Portnoy (@stevenportnoy) report:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi reiterated Friday that Democrats will not back any proposal to increase the debt limit that includes cuts to Social Security or Medicare benefits, adding that whatever compromise comes out of the talks, it cannot “do harm.”

“We can’t do harm with that.  Whatever cuts we need to make, we have to do so in a way that does not harm our economic growth,” Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters, referencing the fact that budget cuts at the state level have resulted in the public sector layoffs that have contributed to recent lousy job reports.

Pelosi punted when asked whether a move from the Consumer Price Index to a “chained CPI,” which is thought to gauge inflation at a slower rate, is, in fact, a Social Security benefit cut.

“There's concern in my caucus about what would happen with the CPI.  Some think it is a benefit cut, others do not,” she said, calling the prospect of moving to a method that could reduce annual cost-of-living adjustments “hypothetical at the present time.”

So how much progress was made Thursday? Are we closer to a deal?

“Enough was said at the White House to set up another meeting on Sunday, period.”

As the latest jobs data showed the U.S. added just 18,000 jobs – far below economists’ forecasts – while the unemployment rate ticked up a tenth of a point to 9.2 percent, Pelosi .

Friday, President Obama spoke in the Rose Garden, specifically calling for action on legislation targeting growth in areas such as infrastructure, patent reform, pending trade agreements and ending uncertainty by extending middle class tax cuts.

Pelosi placed the blame on the House Republican majority for failing to consider jobs legislation to the floor, although Republicans point to nine bills, including their “Path to Prosperity” 2012 budget, that successfully passed the lower chamber and are currently collecting dust in a dark corner of the Senate.

“You’ll have to ask the majority party about that because they control the floor and the legislation,” Pelosi said. “You notice, through six months into this majority, how many bill signings have you witnessed at the White House? Think back two years. How many bill signings – celebratory bill signings – did you attend at the White House? It’s something quite different.”

Pelosi said that she has had discussions with CEOs and other “captains of industry” who have told her that “they will create jobs when they have customers.”

“When you fire a policeman, and a firefighter, and a teacher and a public employee because of austerity programs, you are not only hurting the safety of your neighborhoods, the education of your children, etcetera, you are reducing the number of consumers,” Pelosi said. “That’s why all this slash and burn, take no prisoners, cut cut cut, is just – in order to reduce the deficit – does just the opposite because it lowers revenue that are coming into the treasury.”

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