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Transcript: Nancy Pelosi on 'FOX News Sunday'

The following is a transcribed excerpt of 'FOX News Sunday,' March 6, 2005.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, who joins us from New York.

Congresswoman, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI, D-CA: Thank you. Wonderful to be here, Chris. Good morning.

WALLACE: Good morning.

Where do you think that the president's plan stands at this point?

PELOSI: Well, frankly, Chris, we haven't seen the president's plan. What we know of it, that has been leaked from the White House, that there would be indexing, would necessitate slashing benefits by 40 percent, is something that we must fight.

What we know about the private accounts is that they will bleed Social Security of $2 trillion a decade, $15 trillion over 40 years until 2050.

So what we have seen so far has been something that Democrats cannot support.

So when the president says — he said to us in our private meeting with him in December, a bipartisan meeting, "Wait until you see my plan." Well, we're still waiting for the president's plan. But that which we have seen of it so far is not acceptable.

WALLACE: But...

PELOSI: We should go to the table, with the president. You cannot do anything about Social Security unless you do it in a bipartisan way. It's like one hand clapping. It doesn't work.

So, as President Reagan did with Tip O'Neill in 1983, you go to the table, you agree to the same set of numbers, you look at the challenge that we have before us, and you agree to a sustainable, bipartisan suggestion that would be acceptable to the American people.

WALLACE: Congresswoman Pelosi, you complain — and I think there's some legitimacy to it — about where is the president's plan, but Democrats like to say that Social Security is a hallowed Democratic idea, created by FDR. Where is your plan?

PELOSI: The facts are that we want to wait and see the president's plan. But what our approach to this is that we will not begin by slashing benefits, we will not increase the deficit, and we must be fair to the American people.

For the 70 years of Social Security, American families have paid into Social Security. It is a guaranteed retirement benefit for them. And if tragedy should strike, by losing a loved one or by being afflicted by a disability, then Social Security is there for them.

What the president is going to do is to seriously undermine Social Security. The private accounts that the president is advocating are the first step in undermining Social Security.

And the deficits that the president is running up in the budget are very damaging to Social Security as well...

WALLACE: Congresswoman...

PELOSI: ... because there is no way that the president can pay back to Social Security what he has taken out for other purposes, unlike...

WALLACE: Congresswoman Pelosi, please, if I might get a question in here...

PELOSI: OK. Yes.

WALLACE: The other side is accusing the Democrats of being obstructionists, of having no ideas of their own...

PELOSI: Of course they are.

WALLACE: If I might, I just want to show you a video that's been created by House Republicans starring Republican Congressman David Dreier. Take a look, if you will.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): Hi. I'm calling to find out if Democrats have a common-sense agenda chock full of meaningful initiatives for American families.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE DAVID DREIER (R-CA): No.

(UNKNOWN): Well, is the Democratic Party willing to work together to strengthen Social Security?

DREIER: How about pay-as-you-know (ph)?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Congresswoman, I guess the question is — it's obvious that you guys don't like private accounts. Let's put that off the table. But everybody agrees there is a long-term solvency problem on Social Security.

PELOSI: Exactly.

WALLACE: My question is, the Democrats — it's their plan, Social Security — what is your idea of how to solve the long-term solvency issue?

PELOSI: First, may I just say of that, that is what the taxpayers' dollar, a political ad on the Internet of the House Republican leadership. But that's another issue.

WALLACE: What's your plan?

(CROSSTALK)

PELOSI: The facts, I said, are these.

What?

WALLACE: What's your plan to solve the long-term solvency?

PELOSI: The plan for solvency is to stop robbing Social Security of its money for other purposes. The plan is to return the money back to the trust fund, as President Clinton did when he was president.

In the Clinton years — the closing years of the Clinton administration, there were three years of no deficit, zero deficit.

PELOSI: And with the surpluses that were created, President Clinton was able to put nearly $400 billion back into Social Security. It's an issue of solvency.

Your previous speaker said incorrectly that Social Security would be in the red in 2018. That's simply not true. The more money going out than coming in doesn't start until 2030. There's time for us to do this right.

Any — with the problem or without — any initiative that so many people depend on in our country and that takes up so many of our dollars is something that we should subject to scrutiny on a regular basis.

WALLACE: But I just want to make sure, Congresswoman Pelosi, you know, we're talking about Social Security, the Democratic social program. I didn't hear anything about raising taxes. I didn't hear anything...

PELOSI: Of course you didn't.

WALLACE: ... about cutting benefits. There doesn't seem to be any plan that you are offering to solve the long-term solvency.

PELOSI: Chris, the issue is solvency, and the issue of solvency is one that President Reagan and Tip O'Neill addressed in 1983. They took measures...

WALLACE: But there's a problem now. I'm asking you, do you have an answer?

PELOSI: They had a crisis at that time. There is no crisis, as the president indicated to us in our private meeting with him until he went out and said, "It's a crisis. It's bankrupt." That's not the case.

What we have to do is come together in a bipartisan way at the table, bringing principles that say we cannot begin by slashing benefits. We must stop robbing Social Security's trust fund of its money to pay for other things to cover the enormous deficits in the Bush reckless economic polict, in my view.

WALLACE: Congresswoman Pelosi, excuse me, I want to get into one last issue, and we're running out of time.

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan this week again endorsed the president's idea of these personal accounts. And the Democratic leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, went after him. Here's what Reid said: "I think he's one of the biggest political hacks we have in Washington."

Question: Do you think that Greenspan has become a partisan and that he is now pushing the president's agenda?

PELOSI: I think these statements made by the distinguished chairman of the Fed have seriously questioned the independence of the Fed.

I wish that he would put the same energy in talking about the deficit and concern about deficits that he has in the last few days. He should have been doing it, in my view, for the last four years.

WALLACE: Do you think he's a political hack?

PELOSI: I think that there's serious questions about the independence of the Fed.

WALLACE: Congresswoman Pelosi, we're going to have to leave it there. I thank you so much. Please come on back.

PELOSI: My pleasure. Thank you.