Pelosi: "Not enough" revenue in "fiscal cliff" deal

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., argued that additional revenue must be included in upcoming deficit reduction deals, calling the revenue secured by the "fiscal cliff" deal "significant" but "not enough."

"The President had originally said he wanted $1.6 trillion in revenue," she said on "Face the Nation." "He took it down to 1.2 as a compromise in this legislation. We get $620 billion dollars, very significant, high-end tax, changing the high-end tax rate to 39.6 percent, but that is not enough on the revenue side."

Pelosi declined to go into particulars, saying she was "fairly agnostic" about how to secure more revenue, but implied that closing loopholes and deductions was more likely than revisiting tax rates.

"Put it all on the table and see what is working," she said, identifying the carried interest loophole and oil subsidies as two examples of dubious tax expenditures that may be targeted.

Asked if Democrats are ready to significantly reform entitlement programs to address the deficit, Pelosi said, "We already have," pointing to the Affordable Care Act's $716 billion in Medicare provider cuts.

She replied with a quick "no" when asked whether she supports raising the Medicare eligibility age but signaled that she would be open to additional means testing to reduce Medicare payments to wealthy beneficiaries.

She also seemed disinclined to consider any cost of living adjustment that could reduce Social Security benefit payments, saying, "I do not think we should do anything to Social Security that reduces benefits to the beneficiaries." Tossed around during the "fiscal cliff" negotiations was the idea of "chained" CPI, which would have tied the cost of living adjustment for Social Security to the inflation rate. It ultimately was not included in the final deal.

Asked to respond to House Speaker John Boehner's proposal that Congress should match a debt ceiling hike with commensurate spending cuts, Pelosi said "I don't think these two things should be related."

"I think that we should subject what we spend, every taxpayer dollar, whether it be defense or domestic, to the harshest scrutiny," she said, but argued that has nothing to do with "whether the full faith and credit of the United States of America should be placed in jeopardy."

"The debt ceiling is about spending that has already occurred," Pelosi pointed out. "Right now, we have to pay the bills that have been incurred. And if you want to say 'cut spending for what we do next,' fine, but don't tie it to the debt ceiling."

If Pelosi were president, she said she'd invoke the 14th Amendment, which says the validity of the public debt of the United States "shall not be questioned," to raise the debt ceiling unilaterally.

And she lamented the state of the modern GOP, arguing that Democrats' record of cooperation with President George W. Bush during his two terms was not matched by today's "over-the-edge" GOP.

"I keep saying to my Republican friends, 'Take back your party'," Pelosi said. "This isn't the Grand Old Party that did so many things for America, that commanded so much respect."

"This is really an over-the-edge crowd, that's the way I see it," she said. "The fact is that it is dominated by an element that are anti-government ideologues, and are committed to not cooperating with this president, and it is hard to understand."

  • Jake Miller

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