I’m at the Netroots Nation conference this morning, at the “Ask the Speaker” event with Nancy Pelosi. Let this be an open thread. Rep. Jan Schakowsky will be introducing Pelosi today. I’ll update as we go along…
Jan Schakowsky is up, says that nothing that happens in Vegas will stay here. (Including that line!). She says that Pelosi will go down in history as the nation’s most effective Speaker, and that this is the most productive session of Congress in recent history.
Schakowsky mentions that a public option bill has just been introduced in the House by Lynn Woolsey, and that it would save $68 billion dollars over the next 10 years. Take that, deficit hawks. Rep. John Garamendi mentioned that to me yesterday as a counterweight to the deficit talk. (Keep in mind that Schakowsky is on the cat food commission, so maybe she can bring that up there.)
Schakowsky says that someone in the Dem caucus, at the end of the health care debate, doubted that he would vote for the bill, because of some polling in his district. And she said, “If I had to walk out of this office right now and never be Speaker again, but get health care for all Americans, I would do it.” I snarked to Jon Walker, sitting next to me, that she’s got a little work to do, then.
Here comes Pelosi, to a standing ovation.
Pelosi acknowledges the “Network Roots Nation,” Daily Kos and Mike Stark (who she almost always mentions for some reason) for their advocacy and work.
Pelosi namechecks Harry Reid, President Obama and Dina Titus (D-NV), who’s in a tough race here. Then Pelosi introduces Obama for a video message.
In Obama’s message, he says that his Administration has accomplished a lot, using a Rachel Maddow segment as a validator for the progressive audience. He says specifically that “we’re working” to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, end the combat mission in Iraq by the end of August, and close Gitmo. He says that the netroots should “keep holding me accountable” and “keep up the fight.”
On ENDA, Pelosi wants a vote this year on it (fully inclusive ENDA, by the way) and it’s “embarrassing” that it hasn’t happened yet. She says that she would have hoped for a Presidential moratorium on discharges under DADT. She says “your impatience is justified” to the LGBT community. Cheryl Contee, the moderator, says to potential protesters: we have a Kraken and we will release it.
Contee asks about the Youth Promise Act, a bill that has 235 sponsors, and the DREAM Act. Pelosi says they want a suspension vote on the Promise Act with a 2/3 vote. Says the Republicans have held things up and they don’t necessarily want to pass something that just sits there. She touts the education piece of the reconciliation bill (attached to the health care bill) as evidence of Democratic support for education initiatives. Says the DREAM Act is “aptly named.” There is a “difference of opinion” on how to go forward. Says the House wants to do a comprehensive bill and doesn’t want to go piecemeal.
Contee asks about Social Security, asks if she opposes raising the retirement age, she says “yes.”
Pelosi talks about the cat food commission. Mentions Paygo, the budget freeze, and the commission as ways to reduce the deficit. “When you’re talking about reducing the deficit and Social Security, you’re talking about apples and oranges. If you’re talking about solvency of Social Security may be appropriate. To change Social Security to balance the budget, they aren’t the same thing in my view.”
Pelosi says we shouldn’t go looking on reducing benefits and raising the retirement age. We all support Social Security, we oppose the privatization of Social Security. August 15 is the 75th anniversary of the establishment of Social Security. We shouldn’t use it for a purpose it wasn’t established to do.
Pelosi talks about the stimulus bill as having saved or created 3.6 million jobs. “Not enough, but without it” things would have fallen dramatically. House passed the unemployment bill in December, and the Senate didn’t get to it until now. The Senate cut all the job creation measures in that bill, which were paid for, and at the same time Republicans wanted to extend $700 billion in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans without paying for it.
Pelosi said that in first 8 months of 2010, more jobs will be created under Obama Administration than entire 8 years under Bush Administration. Touts her manufacturing policies from the caucus. They are rolling out a series of bills about manufacturing and industrial policy, branded “Making it in America.” Mentions China manipulating their currency.
Pelosi vows to take up crack/cocaine sentencing bill, under suspension, this week. It’s already passed the Senate, but only a reduction to around 20:1 for crack and powder cocaine, from 100:1. Basically it becomes 20% less racist.
Pelosi asked about the Senate energy bill. Says “when I became Speaker, my flagship issue was energy security and addressing climate change.” Says that “time is running out” and that they’ve been working with the evangelical community on it, presumably in a “protecting God’s creation” manner. Says “we look forward to going to conference” with the Senate on their crap energy bill. Mentions that the House passed this over a year ago. “Sooner or later this has to happen, the sooner the better.”
Pelosi asks for help on passing the Fair Elections Now Act. Says “make your voices known” on this, it’s an issue of basic fairness.
Pelosi namechecks Elizabeth Warren in talking about consumer protection in the Wall Street reform bill. Is that an endorsement?
Pelosi: “I’m not going back” to the exact same agenda of the Bush Administration.
Pelosi: we need young women in America to see young women at the seat of power. She keeps bringing up Rep. Donna Edwards, who’s in the audience.
Pelosi has made the case for Senate reform with practically all of her answers in this session. She didn’t explicitly say it, but that’s the general narrative. Fix the Senate.