House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday defended President Obama as the U.S. recovery maintains its sluggish pace, arguing that the country would have been in a far worse situation if the president hadn’t carried out his economic agenda.
If Obama and Congress had not acted, “we would’ve been at 15 percent unemployment,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday morning at her weekly news conference.
Pelosi’s remarks echoed comments Obama made in a CBS interview this week in which he contended that “we are better off now than we would have been if I hadn’t taken all the steps that we took.”
Pelosi’s remarks referred to a report last year by economists Alan Blinder and Mark Zandi stating that the unemployment rate would have been 15.7 last fall if the government had not responded as it did to the 2008 financial crisis, according to her spokesman, Drew Hammill.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) took aim at those remarks on Wednesday, telling reporters at the Capitol, “Why don’t you go ask the 14 million Americans who are out of work whether they’re better off today than they were four years ago?”
One year after Republicans resoundingly retook the House — and one year out from the 2012 congressional and presidential elections — Pelosi argued Thursday that Democrats are in good shape politically.
“I think that we have definitely put the House in play,” she said, adding that it’s “quite remarkable” that House Democrats have outpaced Republicans in fundraising for the first three quarters of 2011.
As the bipartisan debt “supercommittee” approaches its Nov. 23 deadline, Pelosi noted Thursday that she had sent a letter to all 12 members urging them to come up with a plan that is “big, bold and balanced.”
“I think the only way that it can be big and bold is if it is balanced,” she said.
Pelosi noted, however, that “the time is drawing near” and that the panel must hustle if its plan is to be scored in time by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
The supercommittee should aim to have its report completed by “probably the first or second day back” after next week’s House recess, Pelosi said, which would be Nov. 14 or 15.
Staff writer Glenn Kessler contributed to this post.