(CNSNews.com) -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said women’s health care is the “old favorite target” of Republicans when it comes to budget cuts, adding that while the GOP wants “to protect subsidies for big oil,” Democrats want to “prevent breast cancer” and “immunize our children.”
“Their priority is to protect the subsidies for Big Oil,” said Pelosi at a Capitol Hill press conference on Thursday. “Our priority is to prevent breast cancer, cervical cancer, to immunize our children, so that they are healthy.”
Pelosi also charged that Republicans view Obamacare as a slush fund for the administration. “It may be a slush fund to him [House Speaker Boehner], but it’s survival to women,” she said. “It’s survival to women. And that just goes to show you what a luxury he thinks it is to have good health for women. We do not agree.”
Pelosi prefaced her remarks by discussing the political battle over interest rates on federally backed student loans; they currently are 3.4 percent but are scheduled to rise to 6.8 percent in July unless Congress agrees to extend the current rate. Republicans have said they are open to extending the lower rate if it is paid for with spending cuts.
Pelosi said, “In our budget that we have put forth, we stop that [interest rate] increase, the Republican budget does not. As recently as last week, 100 percent of the Republicans voted for that [rate] increase in the [Rep. Paul] Ryan budget. And now, and they were saying they were really growing tired of this whole issue of the interest on student loans and thought that was that.”
She continued, “Thankfully, our president went out, made the pitch to the American people with such clarity that the Republicans are now changing their mind and coming back and saying, ‘okay, we won’t have it go from 3.4 [percent] to 6.8 [percent], but in order to pay for it we’re going to make an assault on women’s health,’” Pelosi said. “‘Make another assault on women’s health, continue our assault on women’s health.’”
Pelosi continued: “And pay for this with prevention initiatives that are in effect right now for childhood immunization, for screening for breast cancer, for cervical cancer and for initiatives to reduce birth defects, a large part of what the Centers for Disease Control does in terms of prevention.”
“We will not support a bill that robs Peter to pay Paul, which ostensibly supports a middle-class initiative on making those very same people pay for it,” Pelosi added. “I don’t know what it is that the Republicans have against the idea that there’s a positive role that we can do in a public-private way to make America healthier. That a women’s health is central to the health of her family, they consider it a slush fund to pay for women’s health. We consider it an absolute necessity and that’s the difference here.”
Pelosi said House Democrats will be “whipping against” the $5.9 billion Republican package to extend the student loan rate, which is set for a vote on Friday. The Republican bill pays for the extension in the student loan rate at 3.4 percent with $17 billion in cuts to a Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the President’s health care law.
When asked if the student loan debate was political posturing in an era of $1 trillion deficits, Pelosi said, “I don’t see it as any posturing, $6 billion is $6 billion.”
“We say, ‘okay, we want to pay for it,’ and we can pay for it by going to subsidies for big oil and gas,” she said.
Pelosi continued: “And what we see here is what are the priorities of the parties in Washington, D.C.? We say big oil and gas get subsidies to have incentives to drill so that they can make probably $1 trillion dollars over the next 10 years. Certainly, we could spare some of that money for the student loan -- reducing the student loan interest.”
“The Republicans say, ‘No! Leave the subsidies for big oil intact and let’s take it out of our old favorite target: women’s health,’” she said. “And that’s just wrong.”
“But it is what we come here to do, to debate priorities,” Pelosi said. “Their priority is to protect the subsidies for big oil, our priority is to prevent breast cancer, cervical cancer, to immunize our children, so that they are healthy. And if they think that it’s a good economy, a good economic measure, fiscal measure, to stop immunization because it’s largely for poor children, that’s really very harmful to the health of all of our children.”
“It’s important to all of us that poor children get immunized, but everybody has to get immunized,” she said.
The House’s top Democrat also said, “Nothing brings more money to the Treasury than investments in education.”