September 24, 2008
Contact:
Anna Christopher, NPR


   

HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI SAYS
BAILOUT AGREEMENT WILL BE REACHED
WHEN “IT IS RIGHT AND READY”
ON NPR NEWS ALL THINGS CONSIDERED
TODAY, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24

EXCERPTS AND TRANSCRIPT BELOW;
AUDIO TO BE AVAILABLE AT 7:00PM (ET) AT www.NPR.org




September 24, 2008; Washington, D.C. – Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, in an interview airing tonight on NPR News’ All Things Considered, tells host Melissa Block that Congress will reach an agreement on the bailout package when “it is right and ready.” Speaker Pelosi says: “The administration informed us on Thursday of the nature of the problem after assuring us for a while that everything was coming along fine. …We’ll have a package when we’re ready to have one that will stabilize the markets and protect the taxpayer. But we can’t do it any sooner than it is right and ready. We wish we didn’t have to do it at all, but that, by all accounts, the need for us to intervene are necessary.”

She continues: “These are the people who brought us this problem in the first place, the anything-goes policies of the Bush administration; they got us where it is now. They sent a proposal; we have to subject it to some scrutiny. The days of the rubber-stamp Congress that President Bush was used to are over. And so it isn't a question of, well, let’s go real fast and just do what they asked us to do. …Quite frankly, I don’t think that the legislation that they sent us, was ready for prime time much less passage in the Congress of the United States. We have a responsibility to, again, make sure it stabilizes the market and protects the taxpayer. And I’m not absolutely certain what they were suggesting would do that.”

In the interview, Pelosi outlines what she would like to hear from President Bush in his address tonight, saying: “I, of course, have been asking for him to apologize to the American people for the complete disarray of our economy caused by the lack of supervision and regulation and the anything-goes economic policies of the Bush administration. I hope he would tell the American people that the party is over for Wall Street and no longer will we be responding to lack of supervision and regulation by having American people bail out Bush’s failed policies there. I hope that he would explain to the American people why this rescue package is necessary, secondly, why he thinks this particular proposal will work, why it will cost so much money, and what is in it for the taxpayer.”

Additional excerpts follow; a full transcript is below:

When asked whether Congress also owes the country an apology for the current economic situation, Pelosi says: “No, not at all. This has been a Bush policy for eight years of laissez faire, anything-goes non-regulation. And they have taken great pride – John McCain himself has said, you’re looking at the greatest deregulator you will ever see. Now, this is clearly at their doorstep and now they have a proposal which is their solution to their problem and we’re eager to see why the president thinks this is the way to go.”

On whether an agreement has been reached on limiting executive compensation, Pelosi says: “No. This is something that the Democrats in the House and Senate have been insisting upon, but we’ve gotten no commitment from the Republicans on that yet. …I haven’t heard anybody agree to compensation and I have certainly not heard Secretary Paulson agree to it.

On McCain’s call to postpone the first presidential debate, Pelosi says: “Someone had suggested that he wanted the debate to be postponed so he could come here to work. I mean, he’s so rarely here that that would be interesting. But, nonetheless, I think there’s plenty of time for the debate to take place. The most important decision that the American people have to make is who the next president of the United States is and what his vision is for America, what his ideas are about taking us into the future, the strategy he has to succeed in doing that and how he will unify the American people. I think that the debate should take place and I think that we should continue moving forward making the progress. Now, I’m not one of the people who’s party to whether debates take place or not, but I don’t think we can – I think we have to do a couple of things at once, and that’s what leadership requires.”

A full transcript follows. All excerpts must be credited to NPR News All Things Considered. Television usage must include on-screen credit with NPR logo. The audio of the interview will be made available at www.NPR.org at approximately 7:00 p.m. ET.

All Things Considered, NPR's signature afternoon newsmagazine, is hosted by Melissa Block, Michele Norris, and Robert Siegel and reaches more than 11.5 million listeners weekly. To find local stations and broadcast times, visit www.NPR.org

-NPR-

MELISSA BLOCK: And now to the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who joins us from her office on Capitol Hill. Welcome to the program.

SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Hello, Melissa. How are you?

MS. BLOCK: I’m fine, thanks. What do you think President Bush can gain tonight with his address to the nation?

REP. PELOSI: What he can gain?

MS. BLOCK: Yes.

REP. PELOSI: Well, I’m hoping that the American people will have something to gain tonight by his address. I, of course, have been asking for him to apologize to the American people for the complete disarray of our economy caused by the lack of supervision and regulation and the anything-goes economic policies of the Bush administration.

I hope he would tell the American people that the party is over for Wall Street and no longer will we be responding to lack of supervision and regulation by having American people bail out Bush’s failed policies there. I hope that he would explain to the American people why this rescue package is necessary. Secondly, why he thinks this particular proposal will work, why it will cost so much money, and what is in it for the taxpayer. What upside do the American people get from this particular approach?

MS. BLOCK: Do you think that Congress also owes the American people an apology? Doesn’t Congress share in the responsibility?

REP. PELOSI: No, not at all. This has been a Bush policy for eight years of laissez faire, anything-goes non-regulation. And they have taken great pride – John McCain himself has said, you’re looking at the greatest deregulator you will ever see.

Now, this is clearly at their doorstep and now they have a proposal which is their solution to their problem and we’re eager to see why the President thinks this is the way to go. We have some suggestions as to better protections for the taxpayer in terms of oversight, that any funds gleaned from this will go back to the taxpayer and not to the secretary of the Treasury, that we have reform of CEO compensation, that we have forbearance so that we can help people stay in their homes, some suggestions that will insulate the American people and Main Street from the crisis on Wall Street.

MS. BLOCK: There’s been some confusion today about whether there is in fact an agreement on limiting executive compensation. Where is – where are the negotiations on that? Is there a deal?

REP. PELOSI: No. This is something that the Democrats in the House and Senate have been insisting upon, but we’ve gotten no commitment from the Republicans on that yet.

MS. BLOCK: So the reports that are out that Secretary Paulson has agreed to this, you’re saying they are wrong.

REP. PELOSI: I don’t know about the reports, so I don’t know. I mean, I haven’t heard those reports but I haven’t heard anybody agree to compensation and I have certainly not heard Secretary Paulson agree to it.

MS. BLOCK: Can you point to progress on any of the provisions that the Democrats and some Republicans also want in this bill? Any progress that’s been made in the last couple of days?

REP. PELOSI: Well, we’re working in a forward direction. We are making some progress in everyone understanding better what this bill actually does. There’s still questions as to whether it will work and why it has to be so expensive. Some of the questions I hope the President will answer this evening.

But in terms of coming to agreement, I think that the concerns of the American people have been heard very clearly.

MS. BLOCK: And you say that this is moving in a forward direction. The administration wanted a deal by week’s end. From the sound of how you’re describing things, you are very far away from any possible deal.

REP. PELOSI: Well, yeah. The thing is, is that the administration informed us on Thursday of the nature of the problem after assuring us for a while that everything was coming along fine. Then, on Saturday, they sent us their proposal. Numbers came back on Monday and became more fully aware of what is in the package. They’re still learning about it. And we’ll have a package when we’re ready to have one that will stabilize the markets and protect the taxpayer. But we can’t do it any sooner than it is right and ready. We wish we didn’t have to do it at all, but that, by all accounts, the need for us to intervene are necessary.

MS. BLOCK: I want to take you back to the meeting that you sat in on last Thursday with Secretary Paulson and the Fed chair, Ben Bernanke. According to some people who were in that meeting, those two men used really apocalyptic terms to describe what would happen to the economy without immediate action. And I’d be curious to hear your description of the urgency and the tone expressed at that meeting.

REP. PELOSI: The secretary and the chairman of the Fed, Mr. Bernanke, presented a pretty dismal picture of our economy and how that would translate into the lives of the American people, whether it’s their need for credit, the survival of their jobs, their staying in their homes and the rest. The – you have to listen to all of these presentations with openness, but also with some judgment about how to proceed.

If even a fraction of what they’re saying is really the case, there is really need for us to proceed. It’s not anything you can take a chance on. The only thing that was strange to us, that they had come in so late about a problem that was so vast. Over time, the secretary has briefed me on the state of the fragility of certain financial institutions or what that could mean to the market. And so, you know, I’ve gotten bad news from him before. This was very, very, very bad news of a magnitude that spoke out for some of us, of Congress’ intervening.

MS. BLOCK: Well, if the problem is described “was that vast,” and the picture that dismal, don’t you share that sense of urgency? Don’t you worry about any delay causing the economy to grind to a halt, as Chairman Bernanke is warning about?

REP. PELOSI: I don’t think that – now, mind you, these are the people who brought us this problem in the first place, the anything-goes policies of the Bush administration; they got us where it is now. They sent a proposal; we have to subject it to some scrutiny. The days of the rubber-stamp Congress that President Bush was used to are over. And so it isn't a question of, well, let’s go real fast and just do what they asked us to do. What does this mean to our budget and our opportunities for other priorities that we have in our country? What does this mean to the taxpayer and his or her exposure in terms of this? What does this mean in terms of home ownership and the rest? There are serious questions that were unanswered. Quite frankly, I don’t think that the legislation that they sent us, was ready for prime time much less passage in the Congress of the United States. We have a responsibility to, again, make sure it stabilizes the market and protects the taxpayer. And I’m not absolutely certain what they were suggesting would do that.

MS. BLOCK: But, bottom line, won’t there be less money to spend?

REP. PELOSI: There will be less money to spend. But, again, if we are not giving tax cuts to the wealthiest people in America, which is the biggest cause for their deficit that we have right now, and if we can bring the end to the war in Iraq, that will reduce our spending as well.

So this is a major realignment of priorities. This election is about the values of America in terms of how they are translated into policy decisions related to our budget. Our budget is a statement of our national values in terms of how we allocate our resources.

MS. BLOCK: Speaker Pelosi, thanks very much.

REP. PELOSI: Thank you very much. Nice chatting with you, Melissa.

(END)