Dems Promise Changes 'The First Day' They're Back in Charge

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:31 PM EDT

( - Democrats are ready to regain control of Congress, and they'll start making changes as soon as they do, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday.

"When we come to Congress next year, the first day, we're going to come in and pass our honest leadership/open government agenda," Pelosi told NBC's "Meet the Press." In her interview with Tim Russert, Pelosi several times called for open government and an end to alleged Republican corruption.

"Maybe it will take a woman to clean up the House," she said, referring to the likelihood that she would become House speaker if the Democrats do pick up the 15 seats they need to become the majority party.

"If the election were held today, we would have a Democratic majority, and on that very first day, we will have a new direction for America -- for all Americans, not the privileged few," Pelosi said.

"We're going to make America safer by passing Homeland Security recommendations immediately; give America a raise by increasing the minimum wage; make health care affordable by negotiating for better prices; lower the cost of college education by cutting in half the interest on student loans...

Russert interrupted: "And all this without increasing the deficit?" he asked.

"Exactly," Pelosi replied. "No deficit spending; high ethical standards, civility in debate; you'll see, it's going to be a new day."

Pelosi also said Democrats will declare energy independence for the American people within ten years, by sending energy dollars to the Midwest and rural America, not to the Middle East. "We intend to focus on bio-fuels and alternative energy, conservation, and efficiency," she said.

Questioned repeatedly about how Democrats will pay for their initiatives, Pelosi refused to even mention tax hikes. She also refused repeated questions about whether she would roll back the Bush tax cuts.

"I'll tell you something, if we could bring the war in Iraq to a conclusion, we would save a lot of money and could declare energy independence," she said.

"You know what, do you know that we spend $50 billion a year just protecting the sea lanes for the oil to come from the Middle East? That money can be spent [on other priorities]," she said.

Pelosi pledged there will be no deficit spending if Democrats take control of Congress. It will be pay-as-you-go, she said - again refusing to be pinned down on an inevitable tax hike.

Pelosi said she does not favor an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq, but rather a "responsible deployment of troops." She said 2006 must be a year of "significant transition" in Iraq.

'Oversight,' not impeachment

If Democrats win back Congress, they will exercise their "oversight" function, Pelosi said. "We will have an investigation of energy prices," she said. "We will have hearings on the war."

She said impeachment is a possibility, "because you never know where the facts will take you." But she backed away from Rep. John Conyers, whose website suggests Democrats are angling for impeachment.

"I'm the leader. Our caucus will decide where to go," Pelosi said.

You don't decide to impeach, Pelosi said, until the facts lead you there. She noted that Democrats, if they retake the House, will have subpoena power, something that scares Republicans, she added.

"Investigation does not equate to impeachment," she said. "Investigation is a requirement of Congress - it's about checks and balances."

Republicans respond

The Republican Party was ready with its response shortly after Pelosi appeared on "Meet the Press."

"Nancy Pelosi's vision for the future is one of higher taxes on working Americans, cut-and-run in Iraq, and a little impeachment thrown in for good measure," said RNC Press Secretary Tracey Schmitt.

The RNC, describing Pelosi as a "radical leader," said Democrats refuse to discuss their "real agenda for the American people."

Press reports note that Democrats' confidence is rising as President Bush's poll numbers fall, even though there is widespread disapproval of Congress in general.

A recent Associated Press-Ipsos poll of 1,000 adults -- 865 of them registered voters -- found that only one in four Americans approves of the job Congress is doing, but 51 percent of Americans want Democrats to control Congress. Only 34 percent picked Republicans.

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