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TEXT OF INTERVIEW
This story we’re all in the middle of is, of course, economic. But at some very fundamental level, it’s going to have to be politicians that get us out of it — by deciding how much money to spend, or how much more, I guess. And, when Congress convenes in January, figuring out what the new rules are going to be.
On the theory that all politics is local, I spoke with both Missouri Senators earlier this week. Republican Kit Bond voted for the bailout bill and explained to us why.
Sen. Kit Bond: Certainly, farmers in Missouri who depend on getting loans in the spring to plant their crops are worried that when the time comes around for them to seek those loans, they won’t be able to get it. St. Louis is delaying selling $100 million in debts to finance renovation at the airport. Kansas City is unable to sell debt of $200 million to rebuild the water systems. So all these are very important infrastructure projects that provide good wages and there are no jobs because there’s no money to finance the project.
Ryssdal: You know you can’t get, Senator, much farther from Wall Street than central Missouri, figuratively speaking anyway.
Bond: Well, that’s where I am. I’m at the farm bureau in Jefferson City, Mo.
Ryssdal: Do those farmers, though, understand the connection that you and others in the Senate tried to make between the rescue package and their daily business lives.
Bond: I think you can say that none of them like it, but most all of them recognize it needs to be done.
Ryssdal: Let me ask you one more question Senator, before we let you go, since we’re on the topic. What are you going to do come January or February, if the administration comes to you and says, you know what, we need more bailout money?
Bond: Well, I’d want to find out what they’ve done. They’re going to have the congressional oversight. The first thing they need to do is get the regulations proper; I’m going to be introducing regulations to make sure that government sponsored enterprises — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are appropriately regulated. They have not been and that’s part of the problem. I, for one, am going to be very interested to see how well they’re doing, because a lot of it depends upon their doing it properly to make sure it gets us out of this situation and that the taxpayers are protected.
Ryssdal: Sen. Kit Bond, Republican of Missouri. Senator, thanks so much for you time.
Bond: Thanks very much.
Ryssdal: Sen. McCaskill, good to have you with us.
Claire McCaskill: Thank you.
Ryssdal: Where’d we track you down today ma’am?
McCaskill: I’m actually in St. Louis. I just arrived here from doing an event with Joe Biden in St. Joseph, Mo. earlier this morning.
Ryssdal: What are folks telling you there in St. Louis about how they’re feeling about the economy and the markets?
McCaskill: It ranges between fear and anger. We have been one of the big auto-making states, domestic auto production in the country, and there are thousands of people that are losing their jobs — long, proud auto workers that are losing their jobs in the St. Louis area as we speak. So, there’s a lot of unease.
Ryssdal: I’ll ask you the same question I asked Sen. Bond when I had him on the line: What is not getting done in St. Louis and across Missouri because of this credit problem?
McCaskill: There’s a lot of development that’s not happening. There’s a lot of public projects — you know just something as simple as building a bridge or a bond issue, new hospitals, or to build a school.
Ryssdal: Obviously, that keeps that developer up at night. What keeps you up at night?
McCaskill: You know what I really worry about? I really worry about people like my mom, who’s 80 and all of her circle of friends that are calling her and saying, you know, what does Claire think? what does Claire think? You know, for young people the market will recover. For those people who are at or near retirement, it’s a whole different matter and I have a sense of urgency about trying to help them.
Ryssdal: How much time though, do you think we have before some of your younger constituents really start having problems?
McCaskill: You know, I think this time next year we’ll be looking over our shoulder; I think things will be better this time next year. We’ve got a perfect opportunity here and a win-win-win situation to look at job growth in the alternative energy sector because I think it helps on so many different levels. I think you’ll see banks begin loaning money again, and once that happens, then the ingenuity and the work ethic of the American people will go a long way towards helping this problem.
Ryssdal: Claire McCaskill, Democratic senator from the state of Missouri. Senator, thanks for your time.
McCaskill: Thank you.