WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- The Democratic leader in the U.S. House said the nation's budget deficit stems from past emergencies and will take time to whittle down.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said on "Fox News Sunday" the freewheeling spending by Washington in recent years addressed the economic stimulus of the Obama administration coupled with big-ticket items from the Bush years, including the Medicare drug benefit, tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"It isn't as much you had a spending problem as it was priorities, and that is what the budget is, setting priorities," said Pelosi.
Pelosi said further spending cuts should spare valuable social programs and instead target agricultural subsidies and breaks for the oil industry. "Why should we lower Pell Grants instead of eliminating the subsidies for big oil?" she said.
Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said Pelosi was premature in insisting spending reductions would cut into vital services. "You go back and you look at domestic spending over the last four years that exploded under the stimulus and just annual resolutions funding the government, there is a lot more fat to cut there," he said.