ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
Joining us from Capitol Hill is the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. Welcome to the program, once again.
Speaker of the House NANCY PELOSI (Democrat, California): My pleasure to be with you, Robert.
SIEGEL: We figure House Democrats will come out of this election with a net gain of somewhere between 18 and 20 seats. At best, that's about where you were in 1994, and many Democrats were expecting more than that. Why not? Why didn't you do better?
Speaker PELOSI: Oh, this has been a fabulous victory for the Democrats. In fact, just two years ago and two days ago, we were at 203 Democrats in the House. As a result of the two elections that have transpired, we'll be into the middle 50s, 250 something. It makes a big difference in our ability to govern and to take the leadership of President Barack Obama.
SIEGEL: In that case, what is one thing that Barack Obama and congressional Democrats can do next year so quickly that, by the time your members are running again, they can point to that accomplishment and say, Obama and the Democrats delivered on that; for that, they deserve your vote?
Speaker PELOSI: Well, the economy, of course, transcends all the other issues because it's about, again, the economic security of our families, health, education, all of it. But think of it more this way. As far as Congress is concerned, there are some things that we can do quickly to signal change, as we did at the beginning of the first - this last Congress, the six - '06, and we can come right back in January with a children's health initiative. President Bush vetoed it. It would probably be one of the first bills we would put on President Obama's desk.
SIEGEL: Just a couple of quick other questions. First, I was struck by how many candidates who were elected in hotly contested districts ran against the $700 billion bank bailout and how many voters told the exit pollers that they were against that. Senator Obama supported it, as did Senator McCain. You supported it. Is the season of bailouts over? That is, is it just too much to ask the Congress to pass another couple hundred billion dollars in special assistance to some industry?
Speaker PELOSI: Well, I think there was tremendous resentment in the country, include me in it, in the fact that we had to have this rescue plan in the first place. Even people who voted for it did not do so happily. They did it with some level of urgency that something had to be done. Had we had more time and more forethought that this was going to be needed, we could probably have come up with something better. Nonetheless, we did what we did, and the answer to your question, is there - has that diminished the appetite for bailouts or rescue plan, I do think there are two more that may be needed.
First of all, we need a stimulus package to create jobs so that we are addressing the concerns of Main Street, not just Wall Street. In addition to that, we may need to make a statement of confidence in our auto industry.
SIEGEL: Mm hmm. Mm hmm.
Speaker PELOSI: But in a way that says, as we go forward, we're going forward with new green technology, so that America's automakers can compete in the world marketplace, and so we're not saving those companies, we're saving an industry. We're saving an industrial, technological, and manufacturing base.
SIEGEL: But you don't think that you would run into the same opposition of Americans saying, why are my tax dollars going to bail out companies that are not competing well enough with Honda and Toyota in our own market?
Speaker PELOSI: Well, as with the first rescue package, it would be our intention to have some level of recoupment for the taxpayer because, as you say, the resentment by the taxpayer is high for what they consider to be a bailout of inefficiencies, whether it's the financial industry or the auto industry. But again, it's about jobs in America. It's about our technological base. It's about our national security when we get to that place.
SIEGEL: Well, Madam Speaker, thank you very much for talking with us. We'll see you.
Speaker PELOSI: Thank you so much. My pleasure, Robert.
SIEGEL: Speaker Nancy Pelosi, speaking to us from Capitol Hill.
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