Pelosi: ‘Almost a false argument’ to say US has spending problem

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sunday called sequestration "a bad idea all around" and urged a balance of spending cuts and closed tax loopholes to avoid it.

Pelosi rebuffed GOP calls for the sequester replacement to focus exclusively on targeting more spending cuts and entitlement reforms.

"It is almost a false argument to say we have a spending problem. We have a budget deficit problem that we have to address," she told Fox News's Chris Wallace on Sunday.

Pelosi added that the deficit and debt are at "immoral levels" and "must be reduced."

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The Democratic House leader said she backed a “big, bold proposal,” that targeted ending subsidies for large oil companies and eliminating loopholes in the tax code.

"It isn't as much a spending problem as much as it is priorities," she said, arguing that tax subsidies were a better target than additional cuts that could hit programs such as education.

"Nothing brings more money to the Treasury of the United States than investment in education of the American people, so we have to recognize that," she said. "Cuts in education, scientific research and the rest are harmful and they are what are affected by the sequestration."

Both Democrats and Republicans say they want to avoid the sequestration, an across-the-board cut to both military and non-defense programs that looms on March 1 if no action is taken. But Republicans argue the bill should be replaced solely by cuts to spending, while Democrats want to see a mix of cuts and increases in revenue.

On Saturday, President Obama warned in his weekly address that sequestration would deal a "huge blow to middle-class families and our economy as a whole." 

Obama urged Congress to strike a compromise deal to avert the $85 billion in automatic cuts. On Friday, administrative aides warned the cuts would hurt law enforcement, education programs, mental health services and result in furloughs for thousands of government workers.

Republicans, though, counter that they allowed new tax revenues in January’s “fiscal cliff” deal and that the onus is on the president to now target spending cuts and entitlement reforms.

This story was updated at 12:25 p.m.