Transcript of Pelosi Interview on Bloomberg's Balance of Power with David Westin
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined David Westin on Bloomberg’s Balance of Power to discuss House Democrats’ updated Heroes Act and other news of the day. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
David Westin. We begin our program today with a very special guest. She is the Speaker of the House, Ms. Nancy Pelosi. So, Madam Speaker, thank you for joining us.
It was reported today in Washington that you’ve expressed skepticism whether we can get that fourth round of stimulus before the election. Are you skeptical?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I am hopeful, actually. It does not mean I am positive, but I am hopeful. We do have some areas of disagreement that are broad, but we are going to be talking again later today, so we’re still alive, we’re still talking and I am hopeful that we can reach an agreement. I think that was an interpretation of some remarks. I never said I was skeptical, but you might describe it that way if you understand some of the concerns that we have.
For our police and fire and health care workers, our transportation, sanitation, teachers, teachers, teachers, we are still fighting for more money. We think that the Administration is coming in far too low for our heroes. For our crush the virus, I think we are close in terms of money. We are yielding on that quite a bit. But close on that, except we have to see the language.
One of the biggest differences is how we put money in people's pocket. And, in the CARES Act, the Republicans – stealthily, I might add – put in $150 billion for the net operating losses, benefiting a small percentage of the American people, the wealthiest in our country. We had $149 billion, a similar number in this legislation now, the Heroes Act, that is for poorer families, lower-income families. It is a refundable tax credit, a Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit. They have zero; $150 [billion] for the wealthiest, zero for the others. We are the reverse. We are $149 [billion], which we took down to $54 [billion] by shortening the amount of time it applies, down to $54 billion. As of yesterday, they are still at zero. We are hoping they will come up on that. And we have great opposition in our Caucus to their tax cut that is retroactive, having nothing to do with the coronavirus.
And then we have issues that relate to, again, the language for the election, the Census and the rest. But, again, we are understanding our differences and that’s progress. And we are hopeful that we can reach – in the meantime though, we are very proud of our Heroes bill that we are going to bring to the Floor today. It is the work of all of our committee – many of our committee chairs. It is scientifically, institutionally, academically documented to be what is needed in order to meet the needs of the American people and, again, cut back drastically by cutting the timeframe or putting some of the provisions onto the appropriations bills that we are going to be negotiating shortly.
David Westin. Madam Speaker, some of us are just waking up to the net operating loss provisions in the CARES Act and, now, in what’s proposed by the Republicans. Explain those to us a little bit. Because as I understand it, it would particularly benefit perhaps oil companies and some real estate developers, as well. What is the rationale for that? And do you believe – you are a shrewd negotiator – do you believe the White House is really committed to those net operating losses that you say would be $150 billion?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, that is already in the CARES Act, much to our dismay. When the CARES Act was written it was written on the Senate side. At that time, the bill was a very trickle-down bill and we countered with our Take Responsibility bill, which was a bubble-up, working families, bubble-up. And we came to a compromise, but they still had that in the bill. So, that is the law, in terms of the CARES Act right now.
We have great resistance to it. And our Ways and Means Committee said we are getting rid of that and not only that, we are taking away other unfair advantages that they have implemented. So, we are like at $265 [billion] of tax breaks we want to take out. But, the $150 [billion] is what directly relates to the CARES Act, retroactive. Everything we are supposed to be doing is supposed to be coronavirus centric. That wasn't. So, I do not know who benefits from the net operating loss in the Administration, but I know that the wealthiest people in our country do.
And so, when people say, as some of you do, ‘Isn't something better than nothing?’ No. It could be a missed opportunity. And we refuse to have the needs of the poorest people in our country or the most insecure economically – food insecure, housing insecure, people at the brink, being used to give a tax break to the high end just so we can give a small something to the low end.
David Westin. That makes it sound like that will be difficult for you to go along with, something that has that in it. And you’re going to have to insist on that. That leads to some of the skepticism – maybe not on your part, but other people’s part – that something’s going to get done. If it does not get done, why will it not get done? What will be the issues, I should say, that would really prevent it?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I would hope that they – I would hope that they would definitely come back with a proposal for the tax cuts, the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit refundability. I would hope that they would come back with that. The debate on the other taxes is our leverage, but they may never leave. You know how wedded they are to tax cuts for the high end.
The other is the state and local, because this is necessary. You and I would not even be where we are without state and local government with police and fire, food, transportation, sanitation, as I said earlier, teachers, teachers, teachers for out schools, food suppliers and the rest. And they want to just nickel and dime our state and local governments, our heroes, people who risk their lives to save lives, and now they may lose their jobs. And by the way, they go on Unemployment Insurance. So, what is that? That is cutting the benefits, the meeting the needs of people, fire people, have them on Unemployment Insurance, instead of us making a worthy respect and honor our heroes. And that is a big difference.
And there are some other differences. For example, maybe this is to your viewers, we have PPP, we’re going to do more for PPP, but also, we have some initiatives for restaurants and for venues, small venues across the country that, for some reason or another, do not fit in any of the other categories. And what we are doing is to say these have to be treated differently. PPP is a lending program. We hope to have in our discussion some forgiveness of those loans for small businesses as well as women- and minority-owned businesses. That is a discussion and we are well down that path from previous bills.
But in addition to that, the restaurant piece, for example, is not a loan, it is a grant from the Secretary of the Treasury, a grant. The restaurant business is a community. It affects so much and they are taking a terrible beating. So, even if they had a loan under PPP, you can pay the rent and you can pay the utilities and pay some employees for eight weeks, but if you ain't got no customers, you ain't got no business. And so this is a much longer grant program. It goes six months and a much bigger boost to the vitality and the survivability and sustainability of the restaurant industry.
David Westin. Madam Speaker, it sounds like there is a fair amount of ground to cover, and there is urgency. I know you feel that urgency. We had Andrew Cuomo, the Governor of New York, just today saying the number of COVID cases is back up to the highest level since May. Every day that goes by, we see one company or another announcing tens of thousands of layoffs. Is that affecting the negotiations? Is that putting pressure on either side, on both sides?
Speaker Pelosi. I would hope it would put pressure on them to do something about crushing the virus. For months and months and months, our first bill, March 4, was about testing, testing, testing. I do not want to go into – you know the record and history of that. So, now we have a big pillar of this bill about testing, tracing, treatment, mask wearing, space, sanitation, all of that. Very specific in the language.
That’s why it is not just the money; it is the language as well to make sure this gets done. Because it is the way to crush the virus so we can open our economy more broadly and our schools, both more safely. That is, I think, the heart of the matter, and that is – now, one point related to that is, one other obstacle to a quicker resolution of this is the OSHA provisions. We think that in light of – we have always needed stronger OSHA provisions, but in light of the coronavirus, that is very, very important.
And it is an opportunity for businesses to get protection for their workers and for themselves if they implement the strong worker safety provision. Right now, if you were an essential worker, which I'm sure you are in your field, but if you are at this lower level of employee, you are deemed essential, you must go to work at the meatpacking firm, whatever. They have not implemented any OSHA provisions. You are subjected to catching the virus. If you do, you have no recourse to the employer. You take that home, spread it to your family.
But if you say, ‘I'm an essential worker, I do not want to risk my family's health and mine by going to a place that does not have the proper OSHA provision,’ you do not get Unemployment Insurance.
We have to make that more decent.
David Westin. Madam Speaker, I want to come back to something you referred to earlier. That is the half a loaf versus the whole loaf. Put aside, if we can for a moment, the question you raised about net operating losses and some mischief that may be done. If you could take that away, aren’t you better off doing some good for the millions of people who are not having the support they need right now? Because if we do not get it done before the election, we are really talking about going into 2021, aren’t we?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, let me just say this, this is not half a loaf. What they are offering is the heel of the loaf. We have come down $1 trillion. Then, we came down $1.2 trillion. Pretty soon we are just having a conversation. We are not really meeting the needs of the American people. And you really can’t just say, well, just take this.
No, it is a missed opportunity. We are in negotiations. We are talking about money. We are talking about values. We are talking about the language to implement it.
It’s no use going into a negotiation if you say I will just take the path of least resistance with the smallest amount of money that gives tax breaks at the high end, less to those who need it most.
And by the way, you know better than I, as I say to you on all these shows, this is consumer confidence. These people spend this money immediately. It’s urgently needed, inject demand into the economy, create jobs. It is a stimulus.
David Westin. Madam Speaker, it strikes me that we listen to a debate for a night earlier in this week and stimulus did not really, hardly come up at all. It’s hard to find it in the discussion given how important it is. Would it help this negotiation if President Trump personally got involved rather than delegating it to the Secretary of the Treasury Mnuchin?
Speaker Pelosi. No, I think that Secretary Mnuchin is – appropriately represents the President's views, and when we have a break in our negotiation he is in consultations with the President. That is not unusual. When I worked with President Bush, frequently he would say, ‘These are the people that speak for me.’ They really did speak with him, and now Mnuchin has to go back. But it’s okay. We are pretty far down the path of having understanding of where we are all coming from on this.
I am proud of my Caucus because they have all different kinds of views. That is what I love about being a leader of a Caucus that is – a well as Speaker of the House – that is not – again its exuberance. We have exuberance. We are not lockstep, and we are not just all on one page. And we have that vitality that has built a consensus that is very strong and sustainable for the American people, and our chairs, as I said, scientifically, academically, institutionally putting forth what we can say, defensively say this is needed and will make a difference in the lives of the American people.
We have come down very far in the negotiations, not abandoning any priorities, but shortening the timetable and putting some things off to the appropriations. Four and a half months since we introduced the Heroes Act, we are three and a half months until we are sworn in as a new Congress and less than four months until we inaugurate the President of the United States. So, horizon, and we are approaching that horizon, and hopefully in doing so we can be well prepared by coming to agreement now on this legislation, which we all want to do. But it has to be fair.
David Westin. Let's talk about the presidential election for a moment. We need to spend a moment on the debate. Some say it was not a debate; it was more like a brawl. You had some skepticism, I think, about whether the former Vice President should have participated. Would you advise him now to go forward on the next two debate given what we saw in the first one?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, you are right about using the word skepticism here. I myself – just between us, I myself do not think Joe Biden should dignify a debate with the President, who has no commitment to fact, evidence, data. He demeans the office he holds, and you saw on that stage authenticity on both sides, the President authentically a bully, Joe Biden authentically decent.
It was a sad occasion for our country. It broke my heart. I haven’t really slept five hours combined both nights since then because of what it meant for our country to have a president not commit to honoring the peaceful transition of government or condemning white supremacists, abolishing the Affordable Care Act, ignoring the climate crisis and talking about clean air and clean water when he degrades the environment almost every day, or at least two or three times a week with his policies and decisions.
So, it was a sad occasion. People say, well, they should have had a button that turns one microphone off while the other person was speaking. Whatever it is, I think one and done, one and done. When people run for president, the President of the United States, Joe Biden will do – he is courageous. I never thought he shouldn’t do it, because I didn’t think he’d do well. I thought he should not do it because I thought something like this could happen.
David Westin. But if it were up to you, one and done?
Speaker Pelosi. One and done. I look forward to the vice presidential debate next week.
David Westin. That is the next one, next Wednesday. Well, thank you so much. Always a treat to have you with us.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, David.
David Westin. That is the Speaker of the House. She is of course Nancy Pelosi.