Pelosi: Bailout bill just the beginning
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TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Kai Ryssdal: We’ll continue with Fallout: our coverage of the financial crisis by going straight to the source to talk about the bailout bill that passed the House today. Nancy Pelosi will be with us. As always, the devil’s in the details. There are plenty of details when you’re spending $700 billion. We’ll look at the mechanics of what comes next.
First, though, today’s vote. The revised rescue package passed the House 263-171. That’s about 60 more votes more than the plan got Monday. And a good place to start, I suppose.
Speaker Pelosi, welcome to the program.
Nancy Pelosi: My pleasure.
Ryssdal: This bill passed fairly overwhelmingly today. A lot of votes switched. How come?
Pelosi: Well, the bill changed. For one thing, it had a big FDIC improvement from $100,000 to $250,000 to help community banks and small businesses and people across the country. It had some other additions to it that I wasn’t too pleased with, but nonetheless, it pleased some people. I think the main reason from our standpoint that it changed is that the leadership of Barack Obama had a big influence on our caucus. We were talking about different provisions and why this was urgent and why
this bill might work or whatever. And he just lifted it up to a place of confidence, where they felt the decision was right to act and that not to act could cause harm to the grassroots people, the people on Main Street and Martin Luther King Way and Cesar Chavez Boulevard and other neighborhoods in our country.
Ryssdal: A lot of people who rose to speak against this bill today said it doesn’t really do much to fix the real problem, two real problems. One is the lack of regulation on Wall Street the other is those people on Main Street. What’s your response?
Pelosi: Well in terms of regulation, it is just the beginning. As I said in my remarks we had to look at the, pass this bill with an eye to the future in terms of what vision we want to have for our country in terms of our economy and what other legislation we must pass to affect that. And one is regulatory reform, which Henry Waxman is starting on right now, he will have hearings to this effect. And then there is Barney Frank and his committee will be launching legislation to readjust the financial structure, so that the American people are not left holding the bag when high flyers on Wall Street take a risk, have a golden parachute and leave the taxpayer with the tab.
Ryssdal: What conversations have you had with Secretary Paulson about how the Congress is going to do to keep an eye on him and the Treasury Department?
Pelosi: I’ve spoken with him two times today, I think it’s just two. I wanted to know how long it would take for him to spend the first installment of the money that was going out.
Ryssdal: Sure. What did he say? How long is it going to take.
Pelosi: He didn’t give me a direct answer, but I’m expecting one soon. This was before the bill was passed, so I think maybe he didn’t want me to be going on the floor and saying this is how long it’s going to take. But in any event, I’m sure we’ll find out in the next couple of weeks.
Ryssdal: As you know, it’s been a tough week in the stock markets and the credit markets since the bill was defeated the first time on Monday. If you had it to do again, would you have brought that bill up on Monday.
Pelosi: Well, we would have because we had the votes.
Ryssdal: But not really, right?
Pelosi: No, but we on the Democratic side, we were responsible for 122 votes; we produced 141. The Republicans were supposed to produce 100 votes and they produced 65. But the idea that we would be half and half, we would have brought it up because it was urgent at that time. The Senate then passed a bill that was the same in its basic in terms of how it dealt with the crisis, but different in terms of what it added on to the bill. And that made it a little bit harder for us, because a number of our members did not like the costs. But if we had known we needed that vote in the first place, we would have had a different bill in the first place.
Ryssdal: You going to be able to take the weekend off this weekend?
Pelosi: No. I have some events to go to right now in Washington and Baltimore, and then I travel home. Then I start Sunday on the campaign trail. Then I go to Rocky Mountain West all next week, and it just keeps going in 20 states. I don’t know how many days. I’ll celebrate after the election.
Ryssdal: Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House. Thank you.
Pelosi: Thank you, Kai.