Transcript of Pelosi Interview on CNBC's Mad Money with Jim Cramer
San Francisco – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Jim Cramer on CNBC’s Mad Money for an interview discussing the latest in the ongoing efforts to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Jim Cramer. This morning, Republicans tried to add $250 billion to the program, but it was blocked by Democrats who want more money for states and for hospitals. You know, I think there's a lot of room for compromise here because everybody does need more money.
Let's go right to the source with Nancy Pelosi. She's the Democratic Speaker of the House because this is her ball game.
Speaker Pelosi, welcome back to ‘Mad Money.’
Speaker Pelosi. Good to be here.
Jim Cramer. Madam Speaker, why wouldn't we want all the money to go to the workers, but also to the hospitals which are clearly running out of money, and to the states because in 2009 we starved the states and it turned out that everybody's taxes were raised. It took much longer to come back. What's the resistance here?
Speaker Pelosi. That's a question you'll have to ask the Republicans because we put in the money for state and local government and for hospitals, which are hemorrhaging money and paying for the coronavirus cost.
But let me make another distinction as to why we were objecting to what was put on the Floor today. First of all, like about 48 hours ago, two days ago, the Secretary of the Treasury called me, he said, ‘I need a quarter of a trillion dollars in the next 48 hours.’
I said, ‘Well, we'd like to see some data. Let me get back to you on that.’ What we got back to him was that we’d bring the program to $600 billion, and we're saying we want ten percent of that to go for community development financial institutions: institutions that are there to meet the needs of those who do not have banking relationships but nonetheless are viable small businesses, whether they're in rural america, veterans, women, farmers, small businesses that say the banks might not be as enthusiastic about lending to, even though it's all guaranteed by the SBA and off the books by the Fed.
So, that's all we're saying. We actually took some of the money and said we need more money for the direct grants, $10,000 for a small business, and more money for the disaster loans, which are, all of the businesses are participating in.
So this was all for the same purpose. It's just to make sure that everyone was included, and actually the banks are our friends in all this. We want to make sure that they can participate to the fullest. At the same time, we take off their hands a need for us to reach into the, shall we say, the underbanked community and small businesses.
Jim Cramer. But I do think there's more common ground here than I’ve seen in a long time because the enemy is COVID-19, and there have been 4,000 community banks that have applied for money. I thought that was a really good thing that there's that many community banks that are in there fighting for their own clients.
Speaker Pelosi. That's right. And we want community banks to have some, shall we say, expedited procedures so that they can participate in a strong way to the communities, many of which of these – beyond the banks, there are other institutions like micro-lending programs, the Small Business Administration and the rest, other initiatives that can be very helpful as well. So, again, we all have a common purpose. We just don't want it to have to trickle down, we want some of it to be directly for the small business, rural America, Indian Country, places like that which don't have a loan with the bank, don't have a relationship.
Jim Cramer. Right.
Speaker Pelosi. And we’ve said we want to bank, we want you to know your borrower and we want your borrower to know your bank. But, if you don't, we want you to still be able to participate in this initiative that is what this was about.
And I do think that it was a small ask, and plenty room for negotiation here.
Jim Cramer. I think so too.
Now, Madam Speaker, you are a person of great common sense, not just of great leadership. You understand the common person, and you're worried about them, and I know this. When can we re-open America for business without putting them in jeopardy for their health?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, testing, testing, testing, three-word answer. What we really have to do is take inventory of actually what the challenge is. We're flying blind without that and we’re long overdue.
We passed three bipartisan bills in March. The first one, March 4th, and that was about testing, testing, testing.
Jim Cramer. Right.
Speaker Pelosi. More than a month ago – we still have to do that in order for us to have an idea of the extent of this terrible disease. But also, so that we have data, racial – collection of racial data so that we know how this is affecting different communities.
So, when we know what the challenge is, we can more clearly understand when we've overcome it and, of course, we want it the sooner the better. We want a cure. That would be the best answer. A vaccine, a little further up, but hopefully soon. But the shelter-in-place is making a big difference, but we really don't have an evaluation until we know the extent of the problem: testing, testing, testing.
Jim Cramer. So, let's say we got the community-based leaders – lenders – and I know California has community-based lending, disaster assistance. Do you think there is a possibility we should roll out the opening? Governor Newsom did an unbelievable job with the lockdown, just incredible. It seems like California is so far ahead of where New York is. Should – maybe we can do it in stages. Maybe it doesn't have to be one grand day that the country opens.
Speaker Pelosi. Well, would you like somebody in one of the states that doesn't have shelter-in-place right now crossing the border into where you live?
Jim Cramer. No. We wouldn't.
Speaker Pelosi. I’ll tell you what. Let's make it – let's do something original in Washington. Let's have it be science-based. Let's have it be science-based, based on testing so we know what the challenge is, that we have an idea of – we don't know, even though they say they do, but scientists tell me we do not know that if you have contracted this virus and you recover from it, whether you are immune to it in the future. We just don't have those facts. So if somebody has had it, is that person immune? Is that a person we can use as a resource for prevention of others? Or is that a person who is contagious, again, infectious?
So, again, all of us – everybody wants out, that's for sure: we all want to be able to go to work, we want everyone to go to work and we want those who are working to be less at risk of their lives as they try to save other lives. We want them to have the equipment that they need and we want those who are in need to have ventilators and the rest. So as soon as we attack it scientifically with the equipment that we need, with the measure of what the challenge is – the sooner we do that and not just talk about it, but do that – the better off we will be. That's on the health side.
And the health side will have a direct relationship to how we open up the economic side, and the economic side assault, is a big one. And one that we should use as an opportunity to say, we will use this opportunity of the coronavirus challenge to our economy to be one that does not solidify or ossify the disparity and access to capital, but one that alleviates that, and that would be real progress for our country.
I have to, though, measure who is infected by this, and that will be by testing. So, again, data, data, data, evidence, science. That is the answer to when we can go back.
Jim Cramer. You are a natural optimist. If we can get this additional money, which I think is certainly warranted, and we get some breaks in science, do you think – is it possible to say, I know you don't want to put a date on it, but we can’t stay closed. Is it possible that May – could enough people in May, enough younger people, enough people who have already had it, enough people who tested, tested, tested, get the country moving? I'm getting worried about, not a recession, but a depression.
Speaker Pelosi. Well, we could have a depression because so many people are out of work. And that is why we have to get the system really energized and working. Let's get out those unemployment checks. Let's get out those direct payments. Let's get these loans freed up, let the banks be the friends to this whole system that they are.
This is an era of entrepreneurship like none we've ever seen before because of the challenge to small businesses. Let's recognize what that is, that optimism is to America. I don't think anybody can tell you a date unless we just take – we get a time. But let's be hopeful that it will be soon.
Jim Cramer. But, I love the spirit of compromise. I know Secretary Mnuchin thinks the world of you, I'm just an intermediary, but I'm saying he does and you're doing a fantastic job.
Speaker Pelosi. And I think we should get more credit for working together because we, in the last four months – I was thinking that, in the last four months, we were able to come together on a bipartisan budget to keep government open in the end of July – excuse me, the end of December. At the same time, we came to terms with the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement. Since then, we've had three bills that are bipartisan to address the coronavirus crisis, but we do have our differences.
Jim Cramer. Right, but there is mutual respect. There’s definitely – but there's mutual respect, which is what we want, right? He differs with you, of course, but it’s mutual respect.
Speaker Pelosi. Yes, it’s mutual respect.
But we were very happy with the bill, the CARES Act because what we did was turn upside-down a proposal by some for a corporate, trickle-down bill to a workers-first, bubble-up bill and that enabled us to embrace it fully and want to work very closely with the Administration to implement it as soon as possible.
Jim Cramer. Let's leave it at that. And I want to wish you a very Happy Easter, Madam Speaker.
Speaker Pelosi. This week is a very important holy one for us to pray for the recovery of those who are sick, for the families who have lost their loved ones, for our great country, that it recovers, personally, as well.
Jim Cramer. I know we can all agree with that. That's House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. We all hope that this country gets strong and better, that the health of this country gets better.
‘Mad Money’ is back after the break.