By Carlo Versano
Young Americans face a double burden from crushing student debt and the ballooned federal deficit that resulted from President Trump's tax cut, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Cheddar's J.D. Durkin in an interview that aired Wednesday.
Pelosi called the economic position many millennials find themselves in, even as the economy remains strong, "unconscionable."
"Republicans foisted onto future generations [an] economy that is unfair, that is not really lending itself to growth in a strong, predictable, confident, certain way," Pelosi said.
Democrats have already begun making the case to young voters that they are the party of fairness. Pelosi pointed to encouraging millennial turnout in the midterm elections and said that H.R. 1, a sweeping anti-corruption and voting rights bill that's currently in committee, is among her top legislative priorities. That bill is getting "tremendous response" from young voters who want to see more transparency around so-called "dark money" in elections and know that their vote matters, Pelosi said.
That bill also includes provisions that would create automatic nationwide voter registration and crack down on gerrymandering. Conservative lobbyists have called it "the ultimate fantasy of the left," and the GOP opposition means it has virtually no chance of becoming law while Republicans control the Senate and White House.
Nevertheless, Pelosi sees that type of legislation as key to attracting broad millennial support in 2020.
"That's hard to break down the skepticism that is there, but we're on a path to do it," she said.
While President Trump and the GOP will likely run on a message of tax cuts and economic prosperity, Pelosi seems to believe they are vulnerable on the fairness message.
"Eighty-three percent of the benefits of their tax bill went to the top 1 percent," Pelosi said. " I think that it's important to note that we want an economy that works for you... not for the top, the wealthiest people in our country."
On the burden of student debt, Pelosi said she recognized that it weighed on millennials "like an anvil" as they begin their professional lives, and makes everything harder ー from getting married to starting a business. She did not mention to Cheddar any specific actions Democrats in Congress will take with regard to student debt relief, though she noted that a now-expired provision of Obamacare was built to expand funding of community colleges and Pell grants and mitigate interest rates. "We have to go back to that," she said.
With a temporary break in the impasse over border wall funding heading toward a Feb. 15 appropriations deadline, Pelosi didn't show her cards on how House Democrats are negotiating to ensure the government isn't shut down again.
"I think that the shutdown was a bitter pill for some of the Republicans to swallow and they might like to avoid that," she said.