Pelosi Defends Stimulus as Bipartisan

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tells George she's open to GOP stimulus proposals.

ByABC News
January 24, 2009, 10:55 PM

Jan. 25, 2009— -- In an exclusive "This Week" interview, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., defended the $825 billion economic stimulus package against Republicans' accusations that Democrats are ignoring their proposals.

The recovery package cleared the House Appropriations, Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means committees this week, but the voting has been along party lines.

"Because the Republicans don't vote for it doesn't mean they didn't have an opportunity to," Pelosi told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos. "The Republicans asked for a couple things. ... They didn't vote for the final bill but we voted for some of their amendments."

House Democratic leaders are preparing to bring the stimulus package to the floor next week. Following a bipartisan meeting with President Obama on Friday, Pelosi told Stephanopoulos that Democrats are "open" to ideas put forth by Republicans.

"We will judge them by their ability to create jobs, to help turn the economy around, to stabilize the economy and to see how much they cost," she said. "But we're open to them and we'll review them and it all has to be done right away because our bill has to come to the floor this week."

One Republican proposal would cut the two lowest tax brackets from 15 percent to 10 percent and from 10 percent to 5 percent. But Pelosi rejected it.

"When we had the recovery package last year we brought the tax credit all the way down ... using payroll tax as tax and therefore you get a credit," Pelosi said. "We built upon that in this legislation and we prefer that route."

Republicans, however, say that approach gives a check to people who don't pay taxes rather than cutting taxes for people who do.

"But they do pay taxes. Payroll tax," Pelosi said. "And President Bush agreed with that last year and using that precedent we have built upon that."

Critics also say the recovery plan doesn't spend money fast enough to create jobs. They point to a Congressional Budget Office assessment released this week that claims that only 40 percent of the discretionary spending in the stimulus, including the highway spending bill, is going to be spent in the next year and a half.

"First of all, the Congressional Budget Office only looked at 40 percent of the investments in the bill. By their own admission. So they didn't even take a complete look at the bill," Pelosi said. "We have a letter from the administration that says 75 percent of the investments will be paid out in the first 18 months."