Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed the America's Future Now! conference this morning, delivering a fierce speech over the persistent heckling from a little-known disabled rights organization, receiving strong applause from the vast majority of attendees.
After an initial day of the conference that focused on what has not been accomplished by the White House and Congress in the Obama Era, Speaker Pelosi stressed what has become law, while also praising conference attendees for their "impatience" and "dissatisfaction" recognizing that those are necessary qualities to be successful "advocates of change."
After initially addressing the issue regarding nursing homes that the protesters sought to raise, she dismissed the continued heckling by joking, "Listen, I'm used to noise. I talk to the Democratic Caucus every single day," and bravely pressed on despite an attempt from a member of her security detail to get her to leave for her safety.
While noting the urgency to do more so laid-off and long-term unemployed Americans can get back to work, the Speaker highlighted recent legislation passed by the House including the COMPETES Act which will create jobs by investing in science research and education, as well as the tax changes bill which closes the loophole that gives a tax break to companies that offshore jobs, and included a $1 billion summer jobs program. She also praises the robust investment in college affordability that was incorporated into the health care law signed by the President.
Pointing to the Recovery Act, which has put as many as 2.8 million Americans back to work according to the Congressional Budget Office, Speaker Pelosi heralded President Obama for creating more jobs in 18 months than President Bush did in 8 years.
She also laid the blame for the current budget deficit on President Bush, reminding the audience of the budget surplus that was frittered away on tax cuts for the wealthiest and "two unpaid for wars." And she argued that investments education and jobs, particularly clean energy jobs, were essential components in any long-term deficit reduction strategy by increasing revenue to the Treasury.
The Speaker's remarks, and her embrace from the vast majority of conference attendees who are dissatisfied with the pace of progress, was a reminder that honorable public servants see value in communicating with an forceful grassroots, and grassroots activists can pressure those in power and respect them at the same time.