Transcript of Pelosi Interview on MSNBC's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell

October 14, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC's The Last Word to discuss the resumption of COVID relief talks after the President’s decision to walk away and other news of the day.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks: 

Lawrence O’Donnell.  Joining us now, the Representative from California’s 12th  Congressional District, who is the 52nd Speaker of the House of Representatives, and in that constitutionally established office, Nancy Pelosi is second in line of succession for the presidency.  Speaker Pelosi, thank you very much for joining us tonight. 

And I think you could just hear that as Amy McGrath was explaining to Kentucky that Mitch McConnell has done absolutely nothing, the only entry he made in the debate transcript there was his laughter.  That's all he had to say about it was to laugh about the situation. 

Speaker Pelosi.  It's remarkable.  Hearing him laugh there, it was so heart breaking.  It reminded me that when we passed the bill when he said, ‘Let's take a pause.  Let's take a pause.’ ‘Let the states go bankrupt.’  He's never taken this seriously.  Probably the most honest thing he's done is laugh in public about it to show his true colors.  It's really so tragic. 

And then that was echoed today in something that Secretary Mnuchin said, ‘I’m not paying for pensions for the states.’ 

So, this isn't about that.  This is about a pandemic in case you haven't noticed.  This is about a pandemic where we are trying to compensate the states for the money that they spent on the pandemic and the revenue that they lost.  That's one thing that the President, they've all just ignored.  The President said, ‘I’m not paying blue states,’ all that stuff.  They haven't taken this seriously. 

And what’s sad about it is, we could come the an agreement.  We need to come to an agreement.  You know this because you have been there.  They had in the CARES Act something they made everybody swallow, a big $150 billion tax giveaway to the wealthiest people in America.  And yet when we want to make good on an expanded benefit for those who are unemployed, they say, ‘We can't afford it.’

So, coming into this negotiation from CARES to Heroes, we said, let's get rid of that net operating loss, that $150 billion, at least, it could be more, tax break for the rich.  And let's put an Earned Income Tax Credit for the poorest families in America, for our poor children.  They're losing their jobs through no fault of their own, their parents and we had an Earned Income Tax Credit, which just until a few days ago, we thought that they would respect.  But no.  They insist on having their net operating loss tax break for the wealthiest while they give zero to an Earned Income Tax Credit. 

They’re very much different from President Bush, as a matter of fact, because when we were doing stimulus package with President Bush, he liked using the tax code to help people who needed help in our country.  And we had one of the best, Barney Frank said, one of the most progressive tax bills ever because it addressed the needs of working families, the Earned Income Tax Credit. 

Lawrence O’Donnell.  Speaker, you know that you lose a lot of people in the Washington news media when you start getting into the actual provisions.  When all they want to talk about is $2.2 [trillion] versus $1.8 [trillion].  And never think about what is actually in the legislation. 

But one of the things that I want to highlight, because these both occur in the Senate Finance Committee is these tax provisions.  You have the Earned Income Tax Credit, which benefits the lowest earners in America, and it is an automatic system that helps fund them, that we know how to do, that we've been doing it for decades. 

And you have this new huge deduction, a huge deduction for rich people running rich companies that the Republicans want in legislation that is about financial aid in the coronavirus pandemic.  And it seems impossible to get attention to what the Republicans are actually asking for while at the same time, Mitch McConnell is saying, ‘I would prefer to do absolutely nothing.’ 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, I appreciate that you are calling attention to what – it is not about the dollar amount, it’s about the funding that it will go to.  And if it’s undercutting — tax cuts for the wealthiest, while depriving it to the working, working low income people, you see the unfairness of it all. 

But let’s just enlarge the issue for a moment.  We all want to have an agreement.  My message is out there: ‘Help is on the way.  We want it safer.  We want it bigger, we want it better and it will be retroactive.’  We have to come the agreement.  In order to solve the problem, we have to crush the virus.  And they still cannot face that reality.  They laugh it off. 

And one other part of this, because everything we've done in there has had to meet the test: Is it coronavirus centric?  Is it about this.  Certainly, net operating loss, retroactive, is not about the coronavirus. 

But another part of it is, when I say safely, it’s important to note – again, we want to honor our heroes, state and local, we want to crush the virus, but we also want to protect our workers as they go to work.  

And they have in there something that is really so, again, heart breaking for what it means to American families. If you're an essential worker, you have to go to work.  If you don't, you don’t get Unemployment Insurance.  But if you go to work, and your employer has not taken precautions and you get the virus, you have no recourse.  That's the McConnell language that he has in his bill.  And that is a stumbling block.  We cannot accept that.  We’re proposing and they’re – we're trading language on a strong OSHA standard, but that doesn't work unless you get rid of the McConnell provision which says that – I won't even go into it.  It is so beyond COVID.  But nonetheless, it negates any regulation that you might put in there under OSHA.  So worker safety is not, for us, a provision in a bill.  It is a value in our country.  It is a value in our country.  And they just do not respect that. 

So the disdain that they have for the state and local, the contempt that they have for science by not wanting to have a national strategic plan, and the, again, the unfairness when it comes to America's workers, is a tough nut to crack.  Still and all, we want to try and find our common ground. 

And we say to each other, the Secretary and I say to each other ‘If we didn't really want to find an agreement, we wouldn't even be talking to each other.’  Because, frankly, from my standpoint, we do not have shared values.  But there is a practical need. 

Now you know from your experience that if we give, send a check to people, people say, ‘Well, that's what they needed.  That's what they should have.’  And the price that we have to pay as a society, as an economy is net operating loss, no clear plan to crush the virus, disrespect for our heroes, our health care workers, first responders, police and fire, transportation, sanitation, food workers, our teachers, our teachers, our teachers. 

And then about our children, about the fact that we still haven't seen how they would spend the education money, which is too little – and that's one difference in the money, too little for our children.  And, again, associated with that, is that they would not come close to our number on the child care.  Child care is a key, especially in this time of coronavirus.  Because parents, moms or dads, cannot go to work if children don't to go school unless there's child care.  You would think they would use this opportunity for childcare, but they say we're just asking for too much money.  They don't think that is needed. 

So, again, it’s not shared values.  But nonetheless, a common purpose which is to crush the virus. 

Now, let me just say this one more thing because I’ve been hearing this all day.  I met with the Secretary this morning virtually.  And I then had five zooms and now, here I am.  And on those calls people say, ‘I think they do have a plan for the coronavirus.  It is herd immunity.’  That's why they don't want to put the resources where they need to be, where science tells us it has to go. 

So, again, tomorrow I’m hoping to get better language back on how we crush the virus.  The virus is the cause of it all and yet they don't want to treat the cause.  They just want to deal with some of the consequences of it.  It’s really quite tragic. 

But nonetheless, we've had four bills, bipartisan, all along the way.  We've been able to work with Secretary Mnuchin on the Mexico-U.S. – U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement.  We've been able to work the on appropriations bills on a number of occasions.  And I hope that we can soon find common ground, so that as soon as possible, we can protect our heroes, honor our heroes, crush the virus, and again put money in the pockets of the American people.  They're not with us on the livelihood of our democracy though, in terms of the election funding and the Census and that's most unfortunate as well, but that's still part of conversation. 

Lawrence O’Donnell.  Speaker Pelosi, I could talk to you all night about what’s actually in this legislation.  We've just touched the tip of the iceberg and I urge people to read what is actually in Speaker Pelosi's bill that she passed, the proposals she's made, the proposal coming from the White House and the zero proposal for Mitch McConnell. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, thank you very much for joining us tonight. 

Speaker Pelosi.  My pleasure.

Lawrence O’Donnell.  I’m confident based on the way you've represented it, you and the Treasury Secretary could work something out.  The problem is you have the President behind the Treasury Secretary who changes his mind every day, every hour.  And then you have Mitch McConnell who just has nothing to say about it.  No one has ever been in the position you’re in on this and we wish you luck trying to get this job done. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you. 

Lawrence O’Donnell.  Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well just to remind you, last night, the President said, ‘Go big or go home.’

Lawrence O’Donnell.  Which he didn't mean. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Talking about changing his mind. 

[Laughter]

Lawrence O’Donnell.  Right.

Speaker Pelosi.  Stay safe.  Stay safe, Lawrence.  Thank you. 

Lawrence O’Donnell.  You too.  Thank you very much