Pelosi Won’t Say If She Agrees With Debt Commission Chairman that U.S. Faces Major Economic Crisis Within 2 Years

By Matt Cover | April 8, 2011 | 5:45 AM EDT

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Washington ( – House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) would not endorse the analysis of Erskine Bowles, co-chairman of the president’s debt commission, that the country faces “the most predictable economic crisis in history” because of deficit spending and that this crisis will hit America in about two years.

Bowles, the former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, testified before Congress last month and said, “I think we face the most predictable economic crisis in history. A lot of us sitting in this room didn't see this last crisis as it came upon us. But this one is really easy to see. The fiscal path we are on today is simply not sustainable.”

At a press conference on Thursday, asked Pelosi whether she agreed with Bowles’s forecast about the economic crisis.  She did not answer directly but said,  “we all know” the deficit needs to be reduced.

“I believe that the commission, the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson Commission, presented many good suggestions,” Pelosi said. “We want to have an approach that recognizes that we have a challenge, we all know we have to reduce the deficit. We’re not for handing any bills to our children and our grandchildren.”

Pelosi also said that deficit reduction should be done in such a way as to avoid spending reduction in areas like federal education, which she claimed brought more revenue to the government.

“But we have to do so in a way that promotes growth, that promotes growth, that keeps us number one from a standpoint of innovation and sensibly reduces spending,” she said.  “But not to try to do it in a way that reduces education, which brings more money to the Treasury than any other initiative you can name.”

The top ranking House Democrat criticized Republicans, saying that the budget unveiled by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) was a “path of disaster” that would lead to another recession.

“We all agree that we have to reduce the deficit, the question is how do you do it?” said Pelosi.  “We are returning to the same path of disaster that President Bush took us on – tax cuts for the rich – not creating jobs not encouraging growth.”

House Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) also would not endorse Bowles’s prediction of an impending economic crisis, saying only that “the most important thing” was to get the economy growing again.

“I agree that the most important thing we’ve got to focus on is getting our economy back in full gear and getting people back to work,” Van Hollen said. “Our focus should be on jobs, it should be about the right prescription for jobs and that’s what we’ve been focused on.”