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 the more than 100 days since the House passed the Heroes Act and other news of the day. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
David Westin. We welcome now, the Speaker of the House of Representatives. She is Nancy Pelosi, of course. Madam Speaker, thank you for spending time with us.
You’ve made no secret of the fact that you think we need a substantial fiscal stimulus. You have the Heroes Act that’s been there for over three months now, I think, without real action from the Senate side. Do we still need it as badly? Because the economic numbers have been coming in not as bad as some people predicted. Did we really have a fiscal cliff that we stepped off of?
Speaker Pelosi. Yes, we have tens of millions of people who are unemployed in our country and whatever the analysis is of some, for them at their kitchen table, we need a stimulus. We need a stimulus in terms of job creation, we need money to invest in ending – this is just the mystery to me, why this Administration has refused to invest in crushing the virus.
Because only in doing that are we able to open the economy and open our schools safely, we need funding for keeping people from being evicted, we need food security funding and the rest, and all of this is stimulus. Food stamps are stimulus, Unemployment Insurance benefits are stimulus to the economy. So, while they are stabilizers, they are also stimulus.
David Westin. If that is the case, why aren’t people across the way in the Senate and particularly across the aisle getting that message? Because they do not seem to be very inclined to come to the table and get something done.
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I don’t know why they do not because the Chairman of the Fed and other Fed leaders around the country have said clearly that we need a stimulus, that we need a boost.
They’ve even referenced that state and local governments' fiscal soundness is important to the soundness of our economy. And in not supporting state and local government, people will be put out of their jobs. They will go on Unemployment Insurance. What good is that? Why would we want to deprive the American people of the services they deserve? Why would we not honor our heroes, food, I mean health care as well as food, teachers, transportation, sanitation, our first responders? Why would we want them to risk their lives to save lives so they could lose their jobs?
Because there are some in the Senate on the Republican side of the aisle who’ve said they do not want to spend one more dollar. Imagine. They do not want to spend one more dollar to crush the virus, to open our economy by crushing that virus, to support our state and local governments and putting money in the pockets of the American people.
David Westin. And Madam Speaker, that leads me exactly to the question, is there a deal, even though you might not want to take the deal, is there any deal at all that you could take from the Republicans?
Speaker Pelosi. Of course.
David Westin. I mean, you and the Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said today it’s an emaciated bill. Is there a bill at all, even for an emaciated bill because as you said, some people say, ‘Not one dollar?’
Speaker Pelosi. Well, what Senator McConnell put forth is fraudulent. It is as Leader Schumer said, ‘emaciated.’ It’s not a – they call it a skinny bill. And he calls it an emaciated bill, and I join him in that.
It’s only a ‘check the box’ so that some of his endangered Republican Senators can go home and say, ‘Well, see I tried.’ But it isn’t trying. It is not even an attempt to do the right thing.
Mitch McConnell knows that, because he has to satisfy those Republicans in his caucus who don’t want to spend one more dollar, whether it is feeding the food insecure children in our country, saving their families from eviction, stopping the dismantling of the Postal Service so that people can vote without risking their health, again, first and foremost, crushing, crushing the virus and putting money into the pockets of the American people.
What they have is so meager that it insults the intelligence of the American people. It does not solve the problem and it is not – again, we know that we have to compromise. We know we have to negotiate in order to reach an agreement. We all want an agreement, make no mistake about that.
But get serious. Get real, Mitch McConnell. He pushed pause. He pushed the pause. Remember May 15th, when we passed our bill, he pushed the pause button. It was not until the last few weeks that he is coming up with a suggestion. In that time, nearly 5 million more people had become infected since he pushed the pause button and nearly – over 100,000 people have died.
David Westin. Talk about what it means to get serious. And I guess, part of my question, get serious with whom? Is it Senator McConnell you’re negotiating with, is it the Secretary of the Treasury Mnuchin, is it Mark Meadows up at the White House? Who is on the other side of the negotiating table from you to get to a deal?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, it’s certainly not Mark Meadows. But in terms of the negotiation, the Republicans have to negotiate among themselves. Mitch McConnell has this pathetic bill, which is half of what Secretary Mnuchin has proposed. They are not even in agreement. They are in disarray.
We have said we would come down. First, we came down $1 trillion. Then we came down further and said we would meet them halfway. And some of that is because we can put off the timing of some of ours. We’re not being Sophie’s Choice by saying, ‘We’re feeding some children and not others.’ It is about timing, and we can have that negotiation. But to ignore those needs, to ignore – how could they ignore the virus and the spread of it and the cost to our economy, our education system and the rest?
So, two of the sticking points for us are state and local government, which by the way not only – meets many needs for the American people, but provides over 90 percent of the public education system in our country, meeting our education needs. And then further, money that is needed, coronavirus centric in terms of education, were probably double what they want to do. And of course, funding for crushing the virus. Those would be three areas where we are pretty far apart.
David Westin. Madam Speaker, on state and local assistance particularly, you know what the arguments are on the other side. They do not want the money to go to things like what they would call bloated pension plans. Are you willing to attach restrictions that say it goes for things specifically related to COVID-19?
Speaker Pelosi. First of all, I would not say those are reasons that they’re not doing it. I think those are excuses because they do not believe in governance. They do not believe in science; therefore, they haven’t gone with the testing, treatment, mask wearing, etcetera.
They do not believe in science, and they do not believe in governance. So, there is no reason – this money that we want at state and local government is very specific, coronavirus-centric purpose, to offset some of the expenses that have already – the outlays that have already been made to fight the virus and meet the needs, health needs, of people infected.
And secondly, to talk about the loss of revenue because of the shutdowns around the country. Having that in there will prevent further firing. People will have to be let off from work. And then they will go on Unemployment Insurance.
So, where have you saved money by reducing services to the American people and having – state governments are telling us they’re going to have to raise taxes, fire people and reduced services, unless we get these resource?
So, what Republicans are saying is really quite sad because they know this money is corona-centric, and you have to document the need in order to get the money.
David Westin. Madam Speaker, as you described this, I am not sure how you get there from here given the process that you described. Because it is not clear exactly with whom you are negotiating or if they have anything that they can negotiate because some of their Members do not want to spend any money at all. How do we get there particularly given the fact that you are going to have to go recess to get back to campaign back in home districts pretty soon?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, we will be here for the month of September at least, or as long as it takes.
We have to make sure the government is not shut down, as the President so proudly announced he would take pride in shutting down the government the last time it was shut down. So, we will come to agreement on that. I feel quite certain.
We have other initiatives that we need to put forward and some of them go directly to making sure that the American people – that we are, again, making the scientific decision to crush the virus, to honor our heroes with state and local resources and putting money in the pockets of American people. And at the same time ensuring people are able to vote without risking their life or their health so that they can vote safely; ignoring what the president is saying about vote by mail, which he does, and instead having confidence their vote will be counted as cast.
So, we have a tall order to address and if you don’t believe in science, as they obviously do not, and you do not believe in governance, as many of them do not – they don’t even want to spend any money to honor the science, then there is a strong difference of opinion. And we cannot – we will find agreement, I know we will, but in order for that to happen they're going to have to come to their own agreement instead of being hundreds of billions of dollars apart between what Mitch McConnell is doing and what Secretary Mnuchin has suggested.
David Westin. Speaker Pelosi, you referred to the possibility of shutting down the government. There have been reports that you and Secretary of the Treasury Mnuchin have more or less agreed on a way to keep it going. Why are you so confident? Because it has been the case in the past that President Trump, even though we thought we had a deal, basically, changing his mind and he shuts down the government. Why are you confident that President Trump won’t do that this time?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, you are never confident about the President when you're talking about veracity or truth. That is why it is a waste of time to even listen to what he says. What the fact is, is that we did not come to an agreement. We separately acknowledged it would be important for us to have a clean Continuing Resolution. That they would not be heaping things on there that would be unacceptable for one side or the other. So, it only makes sense to do that and I feel quite certain we will get that done.
And if the President chooses to veto a Continuing Resolution – I would find it hard for him to do that. But who knows? The Republicans in Congress have never stood in the way to any of his grotesque behavior, so I don’t know why they would start now. But, nonetheless, it is not in anybody's interest for the government to be shut down. It is to be avoided at all cost and we have many times swallowed bitter pills in order to keep government open because it is essential to do so.
David Westin. Madam Speaker, we’ve talked before about this election, not so much about who wins or loses, but about how we make sure we protect the integrity of the election, that we believe in what the results are that come out. You, of course, proposed some supplemental funding for the United States Postal Service. What can we do, you do, we do, to make sure whoever wins or loses November 3rd or thereafter, because it may take longer than that to really know who it is, that we all, as a nation, can believe in the integrity of the process?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, this is essential because we are a democracy. And we need to respect the result of an election whoever wins.
There are other players in here, actors, bad actors like the Russians, who would like to dim the glow of democracy, helping them in their own country, but they are doing this in other countries in the world. They are trying to jeopardize the integrity of elections, to undermine the effectiveness of democracy. The President welcomes their intervention. That’s most unfortunate; in fact, many cases not even legal. So what we have to do is join together and just say, the American people should decide who the next president of the United States is, not Vladimir Putin. So that’s one.
And then for them to dismantle the postal system so as to impede the ability of votes to be expeditiously received, the ballots received, and then returned in a timely fashion, has to be – a bright light has to be shown on that so that the American people now. It is probably going to happen so you better vote early. But only once, not illegally – as the President has suggested – more than one time.
So, we just have to, again, ensure the integrity of the elections, not by assuming it, not by assuming it, but, in some ways, legislating it. Republican and Democratic Secretaries of State around the country have asked for more funding so that they can implement the increased voting that they will see. Some of it will be by mail, some of it will be in isolation – separating, because of the coronavirus. It is a reality. Whether you’re voting by mail to avoid going to a polling place or whether you just, culturally, want to go to the polling place, but that there will be spacial distancing and that may require more polling places, more hours, more days and that takes more money. And that is what we have in the Heroes Act. We are hoping that the Republicans will agree that the health of our democracy and the health of the American people warrants – It’s a small amount of money, a small price to pay for our democracy.
David Westin. Finally, Madam Speaker, do you believe that the Democrats are prepared for what could be a nasty election? Let’s be frank, we have heard things out of the Trump campaign that are quite personal. I mean, you, even, were subject to it with that hair salon business out in San Francisco. Is Joe Biden, are you, are the other Democrats prepared for something that could, really, get almost petty and how do you respond to things like that?
Speaker Pelosi. You know, you have to take the high road. One thing I learned growing up in politics, you cannot become them. If that is how they want you to conduct yourself, that is their problem. But, we set a higher standard for how we go forward.
The American people are craving, craving a vision about how they can have economic security and health security and good education for their children and preserving this planet – which, of course, if you are in denial about science, which the Administration is, you reject science to say the planet is in jeopardy. But people care about that and young people care very much about that, as well.
So, people do not want to hear the pettiness and the back-and-forth. They want to know what does is it mean, how does it connect to them? Their hopes, their dreams, their aspirations, their fears, their concerns that they have about the future? The elections are always about the future and that is where we have to take the discussion.
I am so proud of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. That ticket is going to take us into the future in a very values-based, respectful of other people’s views, seeking common ground where we can find it, standing our ground for America’s working families. As we come out of this Labor Day Weekend, we can honestly say: they will say what we they say. We do not agonize, we organize. And in many cases, we unionize to benefit American working families.
David Westin. Okay, Madam Speaker. Thank you so much for your time today. Really appreciate it. That’s Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, David.
David Westin. Good to see you, Ma’am.