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As Congress takes action on President Obama's budget plan, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offers her perspective on lawmakers' spending priorities and how alternative budget proposals have fared in the debate.
And to our interviews with the Democratic and Republican leaders in the House of Representatives.
Today, Speaker Pelosi presided over the final hours of House debate on President Obama's budget proposal. As members of Congress moved toward a vote a few hours ago, I sat down with the speaker in her office.
Speaker Pelosi, thank you very much for talking with us today.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-Calif., speaker of the House: My pleasure.
The House is poised to pass President Obama's $3.5 trillion budget. How many Republican votes will you get? And are all your Democrats on board?
REP. NANCY PELOSI:
Well, we'll have a good strong vote today for the president's budget. I'm not anticipating any Republican votes, but that is par for the course. Usually, a budget is a party-line vote. And we'll have a good, strong vote.
It's a great budget. It's really transformational. It represents a change, a switch, a new direction.
Do you worry about those huge, dire deficit projections that have come out of the Congressional Budget Office saying, "This is what's going to happen if this budget passes, $9 trillion in years to come"?
Well, I have confidence in the budget that we have. This is a five-year budget, as budgets usually are. And in the five-year period, we will reduce the deficit by at least one half by the year 2013, as a matter of fact.
I always worry about deficits, and that's why what we have in the budget are investments to turn our economy around, investments in health care to bring down costs and reduce the cost — health care reform is entitlement reform, bring the deficit down.
So all of our initiatives are investments to grow the economy and decrease the deficit.
Now, separately, the House Republican leaders have now come forward with their own budget. They're saying trillions less in spending, and they are instituting tax cuts. What's your assessment of that?
Well, their budget is one that I think is noted for three things: One, it gives bigger tax cuts to the wealthiest people in America. It repeals the recovery act and the investments in the future. And it assaults Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
It is, by and large, a hollow shell when it comes time to make investments to take us into the future.
This is a real contrast. I've said over and over again that, quoting Thomas Jefferson, that every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. And I try to be guided by that.
But some are. And this difference of opinion on this budget is a difference of opinion — of principle in terms of opportunity, fairness, security and responsibility.
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