Transcript of Pelosi Interview on Bloomberg News' Balance of Power with David Westin
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined David Westin on Bloomberg News' Balance of Power to discuss COVID relief talks and other news of the day. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
David Westin. We welcome now a very special guest. She is Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. Madam Speaker, thank you for being with us again. We really appreciate it. We have heard you say that given what is going on this week in the stock market – maybe not today – this week with it being down, maybe there would be a message to the President that he should really come back with a more affirmative response on the stimulus bill. Today, we got news about the GDP numbers and the states were a record up – they were up 33 percent. Does that make you think maybe we may not need the stimulus quite as much as we thought we did?
Speaker Pelosi. No, in fact, it is proof that we need the stimulus even more so. The reason we had a good, a better second quarter – a better third quarter is because of what we did in the CARES Act, and the following, subsequent legislation for PPP that put money into the economy. Now, people are coming – that is going to wear off, and we need another infusion.
So, it is not a question of we don't need it, it’s a question of it proved that it worked, and now we need more. But understand, what happened in the second quarter was so horrible, you know that. So, we’ve come part of the way back from that, and we have to keep on the path of going forward, rather than sliding back by not having another COVID – injection of funds into the economy.
David Westin. I am very curious because you have such an important say in the economy and how it’s governed, where it goes. How do you make sense of the numbers? Because, as I said, the GDP number really came back strongly, the stock market, although it’s down this week, actually has been doing fairly well over the past few months. At the same time, we have 11 million people unemployed, we still have stories of people having extreme difficulties. Do we have two economies going on in this country?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, let me just say that the number, I think, that is staggering is that we have more people unemployed and on unemployment benefits than any time in our country's history. We know that the Fed is shoring up the markets so that the stock market can do well. I don't complain about that, I want the market to do well. But just because we have come back some points this morning does not negate the fact that we are, what, almost 1900 points down for the past four, the past four days.
So, the Fed is reacting to the fact that the virus is spreading, the Fed – excuse me, the markets are reacting to the fact that the virus is spreading. It is reacting to the fact that there is no agreement to inject the resources necessary to support the lives, livelihood and the life of our democracy, as I say over and over again. So, we do need that public role once again.
Right now, we need it for state and local governments. Right now, state and local government, according to The Wall Street Journal, said that this is the biggest cash crisis for the states and local governments since the Great Depression. So, there are all kinds of things that some people may brag about, an indicator saying this, but we have to wonder about what it means for the lives of American people. And all the things we have in our legislation are stimulus to the economy. They are stimuli – if you’re talking about Unemployment Insurance, if you’re talking about food stamps, if you’re talking about direct payments, if you’re talking about all of those things – we want an Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit – they all are stimulus. People will spend because they need to, inject demand into the economy, create jobs, rather than what it does for trickle down, to have $150 billion go to the wealthiest people in our country. And that’s kind of the discussion that we are having.
But we have to act. We are at a fork in the road. Because the path that the President has been taking us on has been deadly, approaching 9 million people infected, nearly a quarter of a million dead from this, 8 million people falling back into poverty because the CARES money is running out, 17 million children food insecure in our country, millions of those families on the verge of eviction. The list goes on and on and the virus continues. We have to crush the virus in order to open the economy and open our schools. The President has taken us on a deadly path. We have to go down a different path that is science-based, that is adequately funded and is geared toward opening the economy and schools and creating jobs for our people.
David Westin. Madam Speaker, you’ve talked repeatedly about crushing the virus, that’s the word you use, and an important part of the package that you are putting forward included money for testing and tracing and things that are important to get that done. I know that you still have your door open, as I understand it, at least figuratively, to a possible deal. It looks unlikely at this point, at least before the election. Talk about the lame-duck session. Is there any realistic process -- prospect really that this could get done in a lame-duck session?
Speaker Pelosi. I think so. I think that last weekend, when the Chief of Staff to the President, Mark Meadows, said, ‘We are not controlling the virus,’ he confessed that they never intended to do so. They called it a hoax, that it would disappear miraculously, magically and the rest. And what has happened? People have died. And so, again, that recognition that they had surrendered to the virus, and we are not – we are there to crush it. We can go to the table with a clear understanding in the public mind as to what we need to do.
I hoped that we would have had an agreement before the election, but they have not ever responded to – you know, the Secretary and I will come to a place of, ‘Alright, this where this is, where we could be,’ but we’ve never gotten back.
Two weeks ago today, the Secretary said that they were willing to accept our testing language with a ‘light touch’ in the language. The ‘light touch’ happened to be erasing 55 percent of it, largely in communities of color, who are dying at a higher rate than people who are white. You’ve heard me say again and again, children who are Black or Hispanic have a five to eight times greater possibility of going to the hospital with COVID than white children. So, they erased all of that. It doesn't make sense.
So, now we are saying: OK, you confessed to not controlling it. You understand that we must. Just give us an answer as to whether you agree that we must follow a scientific path, or if we are going to continue to go down the quackery path that the President has taken us thus far.
So, we sent him a letter, which you’ve probably seen, just said, ‘Here are some of the answers we’re expecting.’ We don't expect them all to be in our favor, but we do expect them to establish a place where we can weigh the equities, come to a compromise and negotiate, so that we can go forward.
And yes, I do think – the President has said we would have an agreement after the election. Of course, he is predicating some of that on the Republicans taking back the House. You just keep thinking that, Mr. President. It is as delusional as you have been to your approach to the coronavirus.
David Westin. Madam Speaker, let's take it even a step further, because it is obvious the stimulus package is very important, whenever it gets done. We assume it will get done at some point. But more broadly, what is the basic approach that the Democrats have to the economy? We have a sense of where President Trump would go. Let's assume, and that’s just an assumption right now, that because of the election, the Democrats, come January, have it within their power to implement their economic agenda. You understand this economy so well. What would be your priorities, particularly to get those 11 million people back to work? How do we do that?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, a four letter word, that is the answer to many concerns in a family or an economy. When we ran and won in 2018, we had a simple agenda, and we continue to have it. For The People, we will lower the cost of health care by lowering the cost of prescription drugs and preserving the pre-existing condition [benefit], and that is central to the economic success of a family so they don't have health care costs that are debilitating to them.
For The People, we would increase paychecks by building an infrastructure in a green way to take us into the future. Joe Biden calls it Build Back Better. We called it Moving America Forward, but that will be central to job creation.
And For The People, we will have cleaner government by reducing the role of big, dark, special interest money to influence decisions.
Now, let me just say, as a matter of history, an example, in 2008, when President Obama was elected, immediately in the transition, we put our plan together to take us out of the Great Recession that was caused by the meltdown in the financial industry. And so, as soon as we took office, which would be the first week in January, we began that legislation, ARRA, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. By the time the President was sworn in a couple weeks later, it was not long before he could sign that, which would save or create 4 to 5 million of jobs. We will have to have something like that from the start.
That is why we would hope to take care of a lot of the costs that are associated with the virus right now in terms of outlays by state and local government, as well as revenue lost because of shelter at home and other initiatives like that. So, we very much – well, as I say, For The People, we want to have it so that we can save their lives, their livelihood and the life of our democracy.
But for the country as well, we want to get some of this done so that we can move on to how we grow the economy. How different will it be from the Republicans? They’re trickle-down. It has always been trickle-down for them. It has never really worked. It’s always cost money.
And we are bubble-up. Just put money in the pockets of the American people, job creation that will, again, grow the economy in a way that recognizes that we are a consumer economy and the more people can purchase, their purchasing power, as well as save, the better off we will be as an economy.
So, this is For The People, but it is also writ large for the economy, and to do so recognizing that the strength, economic strength of our state, the fiscal strength of our state and local governments has an impact as well.
David Westin. Madam Speaker, your Caucus is a rather big tent, if I can use that word. You have some, for example, Freshman Members of Congress who are more moderate, more favorable to business. You also have some more progressive. You have some of your Caucus on the progressive side say they think that Joe Biden will move to the left, to progressive if in fact he is elected. Are you confident of your ability to try and steer the course? Because you have a pretty wide range of views when it comes to economic regulation.
Speaker Pelosi. Well, we do have a beautiful diversity in our Caucus in every way, and we welcome that exuberance. Joe Biden will be the President of the United States. He is a progressive Democrat. He may not be to the left of some of the people that are speaking out right now, but I have no doubt that he will govern in a way that brings people together, that unifies our country, that is respectful of all opinions, but actually is able to institute policy that will be sustainable over the long run.
It will be in the tradition of the New Deal. And I say that in this way, not just thinking about old ways, but the New Deal was about persistent, constant – bold, persistent, experimentation. Let's think in new, fresh, entrepreneurial ways about how we address job creation, the health of the American people and the well-being of our children for their future. And so, I see Joe Biden in that tradition, not to think in old ways and say, ‘Oh the New Deal, that’s an old way.’ No, it was a persistent, bold experimentation to think in new, fresh ways. And that will be the tradition.
Put everything on the table, be agnostic. What really does work for the American people? Let’s see how we can build bipartisanship, how we can build accountability, how we can build transparency so that this nightmare that we are living in right now will be behind us and people will know that all of their views are respected, whether they voted Joe Biden or not.
Because we are following the guidance of our Founders. You’ve heard me say over and over, E Pluribus Unum, from many one. Couldn’t imagine how many we’d be or how different we’d be, but they knew that we always had to strive to unify, to bring people together, to be one.
David Westin. Madam Speaker, it’s always a great privilege and pleasure to talk with you. Thank you very much for being with us.
Speaker Pelosi. My pleasure.
David Westin. That is Speaker of the House of Representatives. She is Nancy Pelosi.