Feb 20, 2018

Democrats rebuke Pelosi for calling tax bonuses "crumbs"

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein / Getty Images

In a rare rebuke of their party leader, at least five Democrats have gone on the record to say House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's latest line targeting the GOP tax cuts is not an effective messaging strategy. Pelosi has repeatedly described the bonuses companies are doling out as a result of the plan as "crumbs."

Why it matters: Many Democrats are worried that they need to fix their messaging to hold onto their edge ahead of the 2018 midterm election cycle, especially as the latest polls show how voters are responding favorably to the GOP tax cuts.

What they're saying:

  • Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN)': "I would not describe it as crumbs," Ellison told Business Insider. 'The income inequality is so bad that if you could pick up 1,000 or 900 bucks, maybe it helps."
  • Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: "I recognize that something was in there. And where I come from, anything makes a difference," Luján told CNN.
  • Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX): "'I would not use crumbs personally, and I think a lot of Blue Dogs would not use crumbs," Cuellar told Politico.
  • Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver (D-MO): "Language is important, and we have to be very careful that we don’t insult people by saying that the amount of money they get is crumbs," Cleaver told Politico. "We cannot be seen as patricians."
  • John Yarmuth (D-KY): "I would say it differently," Yarmuth told the Washington Examiner. "I wouldn't say a couple thousand dollars a year is 'crumbs.'"

In her defense: “Big corporations and the wealthy are overwhelmingly using the GOP tax scam to line their own pockets, giving workers only a tiny fraction of what their labor has earned," a Pelosi spokesman told Axios. "According to Republicans’ own tally, workers’ one-time bonuses amount to only 3 percent of a corporate tax break that costs over $100 billion this year alone."

The other side: A House Republican campaign aide told Axios, "Already in special elections like GA-06 and PA-18, [Pelosi's] been invoked in attack ads, and she is the House Democrats' brand ... Now, she's continuing to dig Democrats into a deeper hole by continually and unrelentingly calling workers' tax break 'crumbs,' even as prominent members of her party openly dispute that characterization."

Editor's note: Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) was initially included in this list for saying at a press conference, "I think for people making $40,000 a year, any increase in their take-home is significant for them, and I don’t want to diminish that at all."

  • However, Crowley's Communications Director told Axios that he did not rebuke Pelosi's comments but rather disagreed with them, adding that he passed at the opportunity to fully come out against them.

Go deeper

Coronavirus updates: Market ends worst week since financial crisis

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The stock market ended its worst week since the financial crisis, prompting the Fed to release a statement. Meanwhile, the WHO warned that countries are losing their chance to contain the novel coronavirus and raised its global risk assessment to "very high" Friday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,860 people and infected more than 84,000 others in over 60 countries and territories outside the epicenter in mainland China. The number of new cases reported outside China now exceed those inside the country.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 7 hours ago - Health

California coronavirus: Latest case has no recent history of international travel

Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

A new case of the novel coronavirus in California was announced on Friday after Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday that 33 people had tested positive for the virus, noting the risk to the public remains low.

What's new: An adult woman with chronic health conditions in Santa Clara County who "did not recently travel overseas" or come into contact with anyone known to be ill was confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus on Friday by CDC and California Department of Public Health officials.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 7 hours ago - Health

Big video game conference delayed amid coronavirus concerns

Photo: GDC

Next month's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco became the latest tech event to be cancelled or postponed amid growing concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The big picture: A growing number of events are being scrapped, including Mobile World Congress and Facebook's F8 developer conference. Some, like the giant SXSW event in Austin, insist they are moving forward.