Transcript of Pelosi Interview on CNBC's Squawk on the Street with Jim Cramer

August 6, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Jim Cramer on CNBC’s Squawk on the Street to discuss the House-passed Heroes Act, the latest on the negotiations on the COVID-19 response package and other news of the day.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks: 

Jim Cramer.  Madam Speaker is here.  And it's great because we've just gotten the most up-to-date look by what the Majority Leader, Senator McConnell, said.  Welcome back to Squawk on the Street.  It’s good to see you. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Good morning.  Nice to see you, always.

Jim Cramer.  Alright, so I'm sure you heard the Majority Leader.  To me, it sounded like – other than at the beginning when he talked about the amount of money, which I know is incredibly important – there is room for compromise.  And before, you had this great relationship with Secretary Mnuchin, you got something done and people were saying, ‘You know what, Washington is our friend.’  Is it possible that Washington is going to turn out to be our enemy if something isn't done?

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, let's just say we're here for America's working families.  That isn't always the priority on the other side of the table.  We, three months ago tomorrow, three months ago, we passed our legislation.  And what the Majority Leader may call a liberal wish list is about food for kids in our country who are starving – food insecure.  It's about families who can't pay their rent.  It's about workers, again, the 20th straight week of over a million people filing for Unemployment Insurance.  The list goes on and on.  

And still, after all of this, not facing reality that in order to open our economy, send our children safely to schools and the rest, we have to, we have to contain, defeat of the virus.  So, not having a scientific based strategic plan to do that.  We put that forth in the Heroes Act.

Jim Cramer.  Well, Madam Speaker, you are the first person who so visibly wore a mask, and it told me you were completely in tune with the science community, which wasn't initially sure because it was a novel disease.  With your mask, can we at least – if nothing happens, everybody else joins you with a mask – can we open schools, can we open business, take the risk?  Because things are – science is helping us, medicine is helping us, things are better.  If we close the economy again, everything you describe is definitely going to happen.

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, let's just say this.  We all want our children to go to school, our children want to go and be with each other.  Teachers want to teach, parents need to work and also want their children to learn.  Parents earning, children learning.  But we can't do it at the risk of our children and our teachers and those who work in schools in addition to teachers.  It has to relate to the rate of infection in a community and there are formulas for that. 

What's interesting about this negotiation, though, is where we are on the money for schools is to say, if they're actual, if they're virtual or if they're hybrid, it doesn't cost that much difference in money.  It just doesn't.  So, it's not – so, when the President says, ‘Most of the money we send there only goes to schools that open up,’ it ignores the fact that there are differences in terms of the rate of infection in communities.  Again, this is based on science, not based on whatever it is that the President bases his decisions on.

Jim Cramer.  Well, if the President does some Executive Order this weekend, which basically says I have to do this because Speaker Pelosi is blocking checks to you and she's blocking rent relief, what do you do?  I mean, it's probably illegal, but if he does it and does it against you, what – you come in on Monday, what are you going to say?

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, let me – let's not talk about him, let's talk about what the right thing is to do.  Now, he can do – extend the moratorium and I hope that he does.  But you can't just have a moratorium, you have to have money.  So, if they extend the moratorium, people won't have to pay their rent just yet, it will be pushed further down the road unless we get some money for them to compensate for what they have to get.  

And that's not just for the renters, that's for the landlords.  What good is it to the landlords if you have a moratorium until the end of the year for people to pay their rent unless there's some money to help pay the rent?  That's just one of the things. 

Again, we have in there – it's about jobs.  If people have jobs, then everything is better.  If we have a scientific approach to defeating the virus, everything is better.  That's why we have in there, jobs, that is, honoring our heroes, health care workers, first responders, teachers, sanitation, transportation workers, et cetera, that are paid for – are employed by state and local government.  If they don't get the money, many of these people, millions of them, will be unemployed and go on Unemployment Insurance.  So, what money is that saving as it reduces services for those who are risking their lives to save lives?  Now they're going to lose their jobs because, all of a sudden, the Republicans have become deficit hawks and don't want to support state and local governments.  Democrats and Republican mayors, governors, county executives, et cetera, are appealing for this. 

Jim Cramer.  I'm so glad you mentioned that, because to me, if we don't get relief that makes it so that the small businesses get help and also all the entities you just mentioned, I actually see there's an opportunity for social unrest, for mental and physical health, an explosion of issues for, to me, for the republic.  And I don't think I'm overdoing it, unless we get a vaccine, then all of this discussion is moot, but –

Do you think the American people realize how much is on the line here?

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, let me just say this to be hopeful because you paint a bleak picture there.  And the picture is bleak, that's why we passed this bill three months ago when Majority Leader McConnell pushed the pause button, pushed the pause button, three months.  Last week, he came up with this piecemeal approach, which is just – well it just shows the difference in terms of who we put first.  And we're putting working families first.

But I want to give you some optimism.  I do believe that the science is there.  I've been studying this since March.  Now I feel comfortable with the idea that we could have much more testing and getting the results much sooner with point of care testing.  It doesn't cost as much.  The results come in sooner.  And if you have that, it's easier then to open up schools because you'll have these tests.  You can take them a couple of times a week rather than one test and maybe two a month or however the other tests are when you don't even get the results for another week.

So, what we're trying to say to them is we have to have this comprehensive, strategic testing and that leads to tracing and then that leads to treatment, et cetera.  And so that, until God gives us, and I hope and pray that science does too, a vaccine, we will be saving lives.

Since we passed our bill, nearly 3.5 million people have been added to the infection list and around 70,000 people have died while Mr. McConnell pressed the pause button.  Will we find a solution?  We will.  Will we have an agreement?  We will.

But it's hard to share – to go across the table with somebody who wants to give a tax break for somebody to have a business lunch and refuses to give more money for children who are food insecure in our country, to giving more for food stamps.  That's kind of a definition of who we are.

Jim Cramer.  I like your spirit of being more upbeat, more optimistic so I will offer this: why can't you go across the aisle and say, ‘Representative Lewis, civil rights legend, would have loved it if we could do something for the totally disenfranchised in this country.  No matter what, can we give a huge chunk of money to the people who are disenfranchised, to minorities who want so badly to stay in business and can't and to people who are trying to go to college or have student loans who are minorities who are the most affected because they had the least chance in our country?’  That's got to be something both sides can agree to.

Speaker Pelosi.  Perhaps you mistook them for somebody who gives a damn for what you just described.

Jim Cramer.  Ooh, jeez.

Speaker Pelosi.  Yeah.  That's the problem.  See, the thing is, they don't believe in governance.  They don’t believe in governance, and that requires some acts of government to do that.  But just what you described is what Mr. Schumer, Chuck Schumer, is proposing that we do with some of the resources in the bill.  And that – you described Chuck Schumer's proposal exactly, in addition to the Heroes Act.

If we're talking about how much and how long and how targeted, if we're going to juggle some of this money, let's focus it where it's going to do the most good.  And basically, economists tell us, spend the money, invest the money for those who need it the most, because they will spend it.  It will be a stimulus or at least a stabilization of – and that's a good thing.  Consumer confidence is a good thing for the economy.  You know that better than anyone.

And one of the things we want to do just before we leave on this, what we're trying to do to help hotels, which are big employers, restaurants, which are big employers and the rest, is to lower the threshold for how someone can qualify for a second loan.  Republicans have it at 50 percent.

Nydia Velázquez, our Chairman, is urging a 30 percent threshold or 30 percent of revenues, of losses from the previous year.  It was based on the previous quarter – the similar quarter of the former year.  Now, we're talking about the whole year, and 30 percent rather than 50 percent, which would make, I'm told by the hospitality industry, a big difference for them.  Many jobs, many entry level jobs, many union jobs, many people of color jobs, and I would hope that they would consider that.

Jim Cramer.  Okay.  I'm so glad you mentioned Congresswoman Velázquez, who is my Congresswoman.  I think she knows small business better than anyone.  I also believe that Chairman Powell would agree with that.  

Speaker Pelosi, thank you for coming on Squawk on the Street.

Speaker Pelosi.  My pleasure.  Thank you.  Always a pleasure.  Thank you.