As part of our Speaker Series on California’s Future, PPIC is inviting elected leaders across the political spectrum to participate in public conversations. The purpose is to give Californians a better understanding of how our leaders are addressing the challenges facing our state.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and PPIC president Mark Baldassare had a wide-ranging conversation in San Francisco on Wednesday. They focused on the relationship between California and the federal government in a number of areas, including economic and tax policy, immigration, health care, and environmental issues.
Not surprisingly, Pelosi’s take on the state-federal relationship differs from that of her Republican counterpart, Kevin McCarthy, who fielded virtually the same questions from Baldassare in mid-August. In her view, this is an unusual time: “We haven’t had a time where the president has so targeted a state, in tax policy, environmental policy, trade policy.” Californians need to know about the statewide impact of these policies, and their elected leaders need to “try to work as much as possible in a bipartisan way to withstand that.”
She criticized the new federal tax law for significantly increasing the national debt without promoting growth. In fact, she continued, one of the best ways to promote economic growth is to enact comprehensive immigration reform. Asked what this would look like, she cited the bipartisan immigration bill that the Senate passed several years ago as one possible model. She deplored the current “uncivilized, inhumane” policy of separating families at the border. But she argued that while Trump-era ICE policies need to be changed, abolishing ICE is “not the answer.”
Pelosi, who played a major role in the passage of the Affordable Care Act, described health care reform as a “pillar of health and economic security for America’s working families.” She also characterized health care as a major issue in the November midterm elections. “The cost of health care is a very major issue in people’s lives, so we want to work in a bipartisan way, wherever possible, to reduce those costs.”
While she is concerned that Congress is not doing enough to ensure the integrity of the midterm elections, Pelosi is excited about the number of women who are running. “When I went to Congress, there were 12 Democratic and 11 Republican women.” Now, she added, “the majority of the people in our caucus are women, people of color, LGBTQ [. . .] and we want more!”
Why does she want to be Speaker? The short answer: “None of us is indispensable, but I think I’m probably the best person for the job.”