Pelosi Rules Out Economists’ $300B Stimulus Pitch

Posted October 17, 2008 at 2:58pm

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) doesn’t envision bringing forward an economic stimulus package with a price tag of $300 billion, a figure suggested by economists, and she said House Democratic leaders only know what to do with about $100 billion.

“We could never go, I don’t think, as high as the economists say the economy needs right now,” Pelosi said Thursday night on PBS’ “Charlie Rose.”

Economists who met with House Democratic leaders earlier this week said the forthcoming stimulus plan needs to be 2 to 3 percent of the gross domestic product, which would be $200 billion to $300 billion.

“That’s a very big package,” Pelosi said. “We have to make sure that … in terms of the absorptive capacity of investments we would make in, again, rebuilding through innovation, rebuilding America and reducing our dependence on foreign oil, as we do this infrastructure building, that we can invest there.”

House Democratic leaders are still weighing whether to include a rebate or a permanent tax cut, she said, which could bring the cost of the package up to $200 billion.

“We know what we can do with, say, the first $100 billion,” Pelosi said. The bulk would be invested in infrastructure, she said, and other investments would include unemployment insurance, food stamps and state Medicaid assistance.

In terms of timing, the Speaker avoided specifics but said there “certainly is some interest after the election to perhaps have a lame-duck session to see if there’s bipartisan support” for moving the plan.

However, Pelosi signaled that she will only call the House back into session if President Bush agrees to support the plan.

House Democratic leaders “have to convince the president, President Bush, that such a stimulus package … is needed, because so far he has not been favorably inclined toward it,” Pelosi said.

In a letter delivered Friday, the Speaker reached out to House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and called on Republicans to play an active role in shaping the stimulus package.

“Republicans and Democrats must work together to pass economic recovery legislation,” the letter states. “I hope you will encourage Republican Members to actively participate in the series of hearings relevant committees are holding in the coming weeks as we craft initiatives to make our economy stronger and more competitive in a global marketplace.”