Pelosi Defends 'Crumbs' Comment About Workers' Bonuses

Also repeats debunked claim that 83 percent of benefits go to top one percent

January 29, 2018

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) on Monday defended her previous comments that workers' $1,000 bonuses and wage increases are "crumbs."

Earlier this month, Pelosi slammed the recently passed Republican tax reform legislation, calling the wage increases and bonuses that were attributed to the legislation "crumbs" and "so pathetic." She would go on to repeat this comment last week at a Florida Atlantic University town hall.

"There's a cartoon that I just love," Pelosi said, adding on to comments from another panel member. "There's a little mousetrap who's got a little piece of cheese on there, and there's a mouse about to take it and that's called the middle class … And around it are fat cats," which represent big businesses.

Washington Post reporter Karen Tumulty said that Republicans would be taking advantage of her "crumbs" comment in the fall during the midterm elections and asked whether she intentionally used the word "goodies" earlier instead of "crumbs."

"Either one. Because it's not a question of $1,000, it's a question of the billions of dollars, the banquet that they have put for the top one percent," Pelosi said. "Now I don't begrudge anybody their success, their wealth, their achievement. God bless you for that."

"I saw a cartoon, the cartoonists always sort of have it—it's the middle class, like the little mouse, the piece of cheese on the mousetrap, and then the fat cats just waiting for that middle-class person to take that cheese," she added.

Pelosi went on to say that it is "unconscionable" that 83 percent of benefits in the tax reform legislation would be going to the top one percent of income earners.

"So that's my point—it's not what it is, it's what it isn't," Pelosi said. "And what it is for the banquet of money at the top and extraction of money, but trying to sell it as something that you should just be so glad to get. No, our people deserve better." called the Democratic talking point about the top 1 percent getting 83 percent of the tax cuts "misleading" and said that the claim is only true in 2027 because most of the individual income tax changes expired by that year.

Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio used a version of the tax line in a Jan. 23 press availability, saying that "more than 80 percent of that tax cut went to the — goes to the wealthiest 1 percent." But he’s part of a long list of Democrats who favor the phrase.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi repeatedly has said that "83 percent of the benefits go to the top 1 percent." It’s a line included in Senate press releases and emphasized three times in one Democratic press availability in late December, by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (twice) and Sen. Bernie Sanders, who did note that this was "at the end of 10 years" and that the "middle class" tax breaks "expire at the end of eight years."

The important missing context is that the final tax legislation, which President Donald Trump signed into law Dec. 22, allows most of its individual income tax provisions to expire by 2027, making the tax benefit distribution more lopsided for the top 1 percent than in earlier years.