Top House Democrat Sets Three Priorities to Aid the Economy

Speaker Nancy Pelosi says tax rebate stimulus is a good start but "not enough."

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday said the U.S. economy was in "perilous condition" and said President Bush should take three immediate steps.

She urged him to halt deposits to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, saying that would lower gas prices; to save 116,000 green jobs and create hundreds of thousands more by dropping his veto threat from House legislation that would create tax credits for renewable energy; and to come to the table to help pass major reforms to the home lending industry—moves that she said would allow Americans at risk of foreclosure to refinance and stabilize neighborhoods.

The California Democrat issued her call in a statement sent out in advance of Bush's Rose Garden press conference.

She said the rebate checks now going out were a "strong start" but "not enough." And she urged Bush to sign upcoming legislation Congress will send him to ensure that college students have access to affordable student loans just "as the credit crunch limits such loans."

Pelosi made plain that help for U.S. families should take priority over new foreign trade deals. "For weeks now, Democrats have asked for the White House to sit down with us and find consensus on how to help the American economy and American families—before another trade deal is ratified," she said. "We renew that call today," she said.

She said, too, that Bush's calls to bolster the economy, with less than a year left in his term, came after years of neglect. "We have seen years of neglect to our economic condition: the failure to have a national energy policy; looking the other way on the housing bubble; tax policies that have increased the gap between the rich and the poor; a failure to invest in education, worker retraining, and infrastructure; allowing our manufacturing base to [move] overseas; the failure to expand affordable healthcare," she said. "Added to all this is the immense toll of the war in Iraq, where we will spend more than a trillion dollars."

—Katherine Skiba