Stimulus Spending Has Saved One Million Jobs: Pelosi
Responding to criticism that the Obama administration's $787 billion in stimulus spending hasn't done enough to boost employment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNBC Wednesday that the recovery package passed in January has created or saved one million jobs, and without it, the economy would be in much worse shape.
She did say, however, that more needs to be done.
"It's not enough to say we saved jobs, and we haven't created enough," she said.
As a result, the administration is considering short-term initiatives to help businesses boost hiring, such as a $3,000 tax credit for adding new employees, Pelosi said.
It has discussed extending health benefits from COBRA, so that people who have lost their jobs "have some relief," she said.
The government's multi-billion investments in health care and energy are also designed to create more jobs, she said.
Speaking about health care, Pelosi said she thinks the final version of health care reform will include a public plan, adding that it will definitely be present in the final version of the House's bill.
"With the public option what we're saying to people is, 'As you are mandated to have insurance, you're free to choose the insurance provider that you wish,'" she said. "'It may be who you had before...but it may be the public option.'"
"It's a consumer choice. And that is very popular with the people."
Pelosi said that reform is urgent in terms of the rising deficit, and businesses can no longer carry the weight of health care and be competitive in the international economy, she said.
"We will make it more affordable for businesses, as well as individuals, and for the government," she said.
Despite ongoing talks about health care reform, Pelosi said the administration is still moving forward with financial reform, as well. She said she expects a bill to be ready by as early as next week.
These reforms have received criticism from constituents who believe they are a sign of the presence of big government. But Pelosi argued that they are a way to increase competetiveness among businesses, which has caused the consumer to get the short end of the stick.
And while the TARP funds distributed to Wall Street were unpopular among many Americans, Pelosi said the government had no choice but to dole out the $700 billion in rescue money.
"It caused a great degree of anger in the country, frankly, the major investment that was made that has not reached Main Street," she said. "But the fact is we had to do it to prevent a collapse of our financial institutions."
Although many of the administration's reforms have received resounding criticism, Pelosi said she's not worried about the popularity of Democratic party.
"I'm very confident about the support that is there for a strong Democratic majority, which I know we will sustain in the next election."