The following is a transcript of an interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that aired Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, on "Face the Nation."
MARGARET BRENNAN: And we are joined now by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Good morning, and it's great to have you here at the table, Speaker.
HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI: My pleasure, thank you, good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You have said a lot is going to be determined by turnout. But you've heard, our CBS estimates have the Republicans taking the house with 224 seats. How do you shift the momentum?
SPEAKER PELOSI: Well, let's just say, first and foremost, good morning, it's Sunday morning, 15 days or so before the election vote, people are already voting, we're very pleased with our early vote for our owning the ground initiative. I- it's interesting to me, because for a year and a half, the media has been saying, Oh, they've go– it's gone, president's party always loses in the off year. And now we're down to the stretch. And we're down to very close races. And we feel very confident. I've been in over 20 states since Congress adjourned in the last month or so. And I see very clearly that the ownership of the ground is with us. It's about getting out the vote, everything else is a conversation compared to that. But in order to do that, you have to have inspiration, you can't run on empty. And the fact is- is that, when I hear people talk about inflation, as I heard him there, we have to change that subject. Inflation is a global phenomenon- phenomenon. The EU, the European Union, the UK, the British, have higher inflation rate than we do here. It's not- the fight is not about inflation. It's about the cost of living. And if you look at what we have done, to bring down the cost of prescription drugs, to bring down the cost of- of energy and the rest in our legislation, you will see that that has been opposed every step of the way by the Republicans, and they have no plan for lowering the cost of living or helping with inflation.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Absolutely. Inflation is a global problem. And it's hitting a lot of countries very hard. But there is also that question of fiscal spending. Congressman Jim Clyburn, who serves in leadership, alongside you said the following earlier this week.
JIM CLYBURN SOT:
All of us are concerned about these rising costs. And all of us knew this would be the case. When we put in place this recovery program. Anytime you put more money into the economy, prices tend to rise.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Did you also realize at that time that the congressional spending would add to inflation? Did you see that risk then?
SPEAKER PELOSI: Well first- first of all, government spending does- we had a pandemic, and that brought down unemployment from seven percent to three-and-a-half percent now. It put people back to work, children back in school, inoculations in the arm, and it helped take us through that stage of the pandemic. But let me just say that because of people, more people working in the rest, the national deficit has been cut in half from 2.8 to $1.4. Trillion. That is a big change. So it is- it's, yes, we have to take a step forward to solve the pandemic problem. But we did so in a way that would reduce the national deficit and that is cannot be ignored.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But, on things like sending you know, those $1,400 checks, putting cash out there. I mean, didn't that end up contributing to inflation? Do you have any regrets about the bills you passed and how you structured them?
SPEAKER PELOSI: No, absolutely not. Because this- that was necessary for people to survive. Our purpose–
MARGARET BRENNAN: The risk though, was that it was inflationary.
SPEAKER PELOSI: But the point is, is that, when you reduce unemployment, it's inflationary. That is a fact. When I was a new member of Congress, I was told that unemployment was dangerously low in our hearings on inflation and unemployment. Unemployment is dangerously low for what it does to inflation. But the fact is, the point is, is that this is about helping America's working families meet their needs, and that was essential to them. Less inflationary than a $2 trillion tax cut for the high end that the Republicans gave and we're still paying a price for $2 trillion, 83% of the benefits going to the top 1%. So we feel proud of what we've done. We feel proud of the President. To help America's working families to lower their cost, and in doing so to reduce the deficit.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, on the issues that voters tell CBS News are important to them, abortion ranks number seven. Up top: economy, inflation, crime, immigration. Was it a miscalculation to believe that the momentum from striking down Roe versus Wade was going to help Democrats? Why not talk more about these issues around the economy?
SPEAKER PELOSI: I can just say this. Nobody ever- The elections are about the future. They're about the economy. Everybody knows that. Nobody said we're doing abortion rather than the economy, but it's- it's about both. And I can tell you that that issue is very, very provocative and encouraging people to vote across the country, having just been there not sitting in Washington, but while going around the country, but I will say this–
MARGARET BRENNAN: 24% of likely voters, according to our polling, are motivated by this issue of Roe.
SPEAKER PELOSI: That's a good number.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you need them to win. Right? They need to show up.
SPEAKER PELOSI: Let me say this, here's what- Let's just talk about what this comes down to in these races and why I'm optimistic about it. I mean, it's a fight. These are close races, it's like the Olympics and a half a second, you can be gold, silver, bronze, or honored to be an Olympian. So these are a tough fight. But that's what they are. And it's a big change from what the media was- media thread of, oh, they can't possibly win. No, we can possibly win. But here's the thing in these districts- the district- the Republicans have said that if they win, they want to subject Medicare, Social Security, health blackmail, to lifting the debt ceiling. They have said they would like to review Medicare and Social Security every five years, they have said that they would like to make it a discretionary spending that Congress could decide to do it or not, rather than mandatory. So Social Security and Medicare are on the line, a woman's right to choose is on the line, the planet is on the line, issues that relate to prescription drugs. For years, we've been trying to get the- the Secretary to negotiate for lower prices. We couldn't get it done until we had the Democratic president and a strong majority enough in the Congress to get it done.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about that: the future and the new Congress potentially. You told Andrea Mitchell earlier this week, "we need generational change, but in some cases, there's no substitute for experience." Will you remain in leadership in the new Congress?
SPEAKER PELOSI: I'm not talking about that. I'm here to talk about how we win the election.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But, to deliver on all these things-
SPEAKER PELOSI: I was only paying Andrea compliment for all the experience that she has.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I see.
SPEAKER PELOSI: But, the fact is we need to–
MARGARET BRENNAN: So you may or you may not?
SPEAKER PELOSI: I'm not here to talk about me. I'm here to talk about the future. America's working families, for the children. It's always about the children. And the point is this, that the- these issues if you're a senior, you have a lot at risk. If you're a childbearing age woman, you have a lot at risk if your family does. If you care- if you care about the planet, you have a lot at risk. They said it's a hoax. When we had the debate on our funding for addressing the climate crisis, not one Republican vote. We talked about- So what we need to go forward with is more that we had in our agenda and child care, child tax credit, issues like that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Madam Speaker, I appreciate you coming here today. We did also invite the Republican House leader to join us. He declined the invitation. We'll be right back.
SPEAKER PELOSI: Thank you.
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