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Pelosi, Jon Stewart spar over government competence

  • McClatchy Washington Bureau
  • Published Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, at 7:31 a.m.
  • Updated Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, at 12:42 p.m.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi sparred with “The Daily Show’s” Jon Stewart Thursday,as the two disagreed over how much Democrats are responsible for a government that doesn’t always work efficiently.

Stewart pointed out how the health care web site didn’t work correctly at first, and cited other examples of government inefficiency. Pelosi, D-Calif., said she shared his frustration.

Stewart kept pressing her on the idea that it’s not just the public servants, but the system of governance that doesn’t work. It’s a system corrupted by special interests and their money, he charged.

“The things that you’re in charge of, make them work,” he said. “It not about messaging,” Stewart added. It’s about showing the public Democrats are serious about making government work.

“Totally agree,” she said.

“We more than anybody want these (agencies) to work,” Pelosi said. “The fact that some bureaucrats are risk-averse and don’t move as quickly as we like is a lot different” than saying they’re beholden to special interests.

The dialogue was largely cordial, if combative, but Stewart disagreed with Pelosi’s contention that Republicans were disproportionately loyal to special interests.

“Look at Wall Street money,” he said. Yes, Pelosi answered, but Democrats were instrumental in pushing the Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul. Stewart noted that reams of regulations provide exceptions, and big interests know how to find those exceptions.

Pelosi agreed the website rollout last year was a mess. “ There is no excuse for this web site not to work,” she said. “It will work and the policy is solid.”

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