House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi meets with the USA TODAY Editorial Board on Tuesday.
(Photo: H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY)
Rep. Nancy Pelosi is a California Democrat and the leader of Democrats in the House of Representatives. She met this week with USA TODAY's Editorial Board. Her comments were edited for length and clarity.
On the coming debt ceiling fight:
"Here's the thing -- the president is one of the most practically non-partisan presidents I have seen in the White House. I've been there since Ronald Reagan, and he really is working to try to get some bipartisan agreement. They've been working very hard to try to get the Senate consensus or some agreement on how we can avoid a shutdown of government but also how you can even remove all doubt that we're not going to honor the full faith in credit of the United States of America by lifting the debt ceiling. There are some glimmers, a possibility of coming to a grand bargain. The president is talking about a grand bargain for middle-income jobs, but the bigger, the grander the bargain the more you can accommodate, shall we say, other things you don't like so much. But weighing all the equities, this is the way that we need to go forward.
On how entitlement spending could help cut the deficit:
One of the things we did was pass the Affordable Care Act because the biggest contribution to the growth of the deficit has been the rapidly rising cost of health care. Prescription drugs, services, all the rest. And passing the ACA is already projected to save hundreds of billions of dollars over the next 10 years. And you see evidence of it now that the ACA is partially responsible for the reduction of the deficit. And that is really important because you have to reduce those costs. We had to pass the Affordable Care Act, even if everybody loved their health care and they loved their insurance company, which they didn't, but even if they did, the costs were unsustainable to individuals, to families, to businesses, to our country's competitiveness in the world. And so the Affordable Care Act not only accomplished what we want is good health for America, not just health care, prevention and wellness and health for America, but reducing the cost.
On the decision to postpone the ACA's employer mandate:
The president didn't postpone the mandate, he postponed the penalties for not engaging in the mandate. So you might say it's the same thing, but it's a technicality. When the (administration) informed us, I thought that that was fine. What it could lead to is some others looking for some postponement, which might be OK too. There's no bill that has ever been written that you can say every single thing in it on its timetable and in its specifics should never be changed. And to the extent that the president has the executive authority to do some changes, that's fine.
On the National Security Agency's Internet and phone data collection:
Here's the thing, I think that technology has been a friend in terms of protecting our national security. The balance between security and liberty has always been a challenge in our country. That's why I insisted on the establishment of the civil liberties and privacy board to be watchdog on how this is done. Congress has to make decisions about intelligence budgeting and policy. We need much more information. People say, well, Congress was informed. Well, yeah, but Congress changes. In the aggregate, we want Congress informed - not this one day and that another year and then say we told Congress. Yeah, we told Congress at large. We want Congress informed in aggregate.
On the court that supervises the NSA:
Let me say this -- when the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) court was established and it was decided that the chief justice would name the judges, would anybody have thought the chief justice would name 10 people from one party and one of another? How do you allay concerns, fear, established trusts with that kind of appointments. So let's take a look at how those judges are appointed. I do think the appeal that is made to the court has to meet certain standards, and they probably do. But we shouldn't take that at face value. We should have a release of that information over a period of time.