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In inaugural lecture, Pelosi addresses budget, leadership

Published: Monday, April 11, 2011

Updated: Monday, April 11, 2011 07:04

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Aalok Kanani / Tufts Daily

Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) spoke on youth and women in politics and her political career at the inaugural lecture of the Alan D. Solomont Lecture series.

Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D−Calif.) visited the Hill for a conversation on public service Friday, addressing negotiations over the federal budget and stressing the important role of women in politics.

The talk, the inaugural event in the Alan D. Solomont Lecture series and part of celebration of the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, occurred during the final stages of congressional negotiations on how to cut spending in order to prevent a government shutdown.

That Friday evening, Congress agreed to cut an estimated $38 billion from the federal budget through fiscal year 2011, which begins Sept. 30, in order to avoid a government shutdown.

Republicans had requested $100 billion in budget cuts that congressional Democrats saw as excessive, Pelosi said.

"When you go … to $100 billion, you're talking about hurting the American people," Pelosi said. "You really can't split the difference if splitting the difference means half the kids will be thrown off Head Start."

Despite financial disagreements that threatened federal funding for resources such as Planned Parenthood, Pelosi was adamant that the shutdown be avoided and claimed the consequences of a shutdown would be unfair to the American people.

Pelosi particularly appreciated her invitation to the Hill given the crisis unfolding in Washington, she said.

"I'm especially pleased to be here today," Pelosi said.

Pelosi, the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House, expressed her gratitude to the lecture series's namesake, the current U.S. ambassador to Spain and Andorra, a trustee emeritus and an influential figure in the 2000 founding of Tisch College.

"Anyone who knows Alan Solomont knows that he is full of pride of his association with Tufts University," she said. "He accredits much of his success to his education that he received here."

Pelosi's life in public service began with her election to the House in 1987. She said her decision to run for the seat was inspired her youngest daughter, who encouraged her to step onto the political stage.

"Being a mother, I wanted all of the best for my children," Pelosi said. "My motivation for even taking that step of getting into politics was the one in five children that live in poverty in our country, the greatest country that ever existed in the history of the world."

Solomont asked Pelosi about her role as a female leader and the unique strengths which women bring to politics.

"I believe that nothing has been more wholesome for the political process and for government than the increased participation of women," Pelosi said. She cited the ability of women to multitask and listen intently as reasons that they often improve politics.

Pelosi underscored the need for a high level of political involvement among young people, such as that seen in Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. She encouraged young people to participate regardless of their ideology.

"The fact is that elections shouldn't matter as much as they do," she said.

Pelosi advised prospective leaders to hone their writing skills as well as develop a vision of what would improve America.

University President Lawrence Bacow praised Pelosi's efforts in Congress to make financial aid more accessible.

"Many students would not have the privilege of studying at Tufts but for the efforts of Leader Pelosi," he said.

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