Video: Reid: We’ll do ‘whatever it takes’ to fix economy

  1. Transcript of: Reid: We’ll do ‘whatever it takes’ to fix economy

    Let, let me move on to the economy. You meet with the president-elect tomorrow. Biggest question is how big will this stimulus package be for the economy, and when should we expect the president-elect and -- the president, rather, to sign it?

    SEN. REID: Well, it'll -- it -- we will work this just as quickly as we can. It'll take as much time as it needs to get done. What do we need in this economic recovery program ? First of all, we have to recognize that this past election called for change.

    MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

    SEN. REID: We have a country like we've never seen before, promise nationally and internationally. We also have to realize that it must be done on a bipartisan basis. Whatever we do must be done on a bipartisan basis. And we must recognize the economy is in deep trouble and we have to do something about jobs, infrastructure -- that's roads, highways, bridges, dams, water systems, sewer systems, classrooms, laboratories, libraries. And I think we should also understand there's a manufacturing component we need, retooling. We have to do something with batteries, battery systems, maybe do something with lithium batteries. And of course, we

    also have to do something with housing. It is in the toilet, they say, and it is. Nevada leads the nation in foreclosures. We also have to do something to make our country more secure, and the way to do that is to have energy independence . That has to be part of the economic recovery program , energy independence , which includes a smart grid. We also have to have, as President- elect Obama has said time and time again , a middle class , a working men and women tax cut . And we need to do that. We have to give state -- relief to states. Forty-four states are deeply in the red, the other six are barely not in the red, and we have to give them relief. In Nevada , for example, David , at our University Medical Center in Las Vegas , they stopped cancer treatment . People who are in Las Vegas -- two weeks ago, women who had breast cancer treatment were said, "We have no place for you to go." They had to leave the state to do that. We have -- we need to take care of that. It's a very, very important. So those are the things we need to do.


    SEN. REID: And finally, David , let me say this. Whatever program we have, let's not talk about the last eight years. Let's talk about the next eight years.

    MR. GREGORY: All right, let's talk about some of the specifics, but I want to start with the issue of timing. Do you see a stimulus being signed into law before February?

    SEN. REID: We're going to do our very, very best. Now, he doesn't become president until January 20th , and it's going -- I want to make sure that we do this on a bipartisan basis. Leader Boehner in the House and Republican Leader McConnell in the Senate said they want to be involved in whatever this recovery package is. They should be. The urgency of this, everyone knows about. But I'm not going to have some false deadline, whether it's February 1 or whatever it is. I want to make sure that all senators have some input in what goes on here and do it as quickly as we can.

    MR. GREGORY: Mid-February , or you just -- can -- you don't want to say....

    SEN. REID: David , I, I'm not going to give you -- I, I, I'm not going to give you a timeline.

    MR. GREGORY: Right.

    SEN. REID: We're going to do it as quickly as we can.

    MR. GREGORY: Are you worried about the total...

    SEN. REID: We're going, we're going, we're going to do it -- be working nights.

    MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

    SEN. REID: We're going to be working weekends. We're going to get this done.

    MR. GREGORY: Is this a trillion-dollar stimulus, do you expect?

    SEN. REID: It's whatever it takes to bring this country back on a fiscal footing that is decent.

    You know, we don't want to do a little bit and say, "Well, we should have done more. Let's come back and do it again." We want to do it right the first time. If we do it right the first time -- as, as reported in The New York Times yesterday, a group of economists, blue ribbon they're called, they said, "If they do a very strong stimulus package, the economy will start recovering in July." And that's what Paul Krugman says, who's a Democrat; that's what Mark Zandi , who was one of, one of John McCain 's advisers, said. We need to spend some money. And we have to make sure it's spent wisely, that we watch that money, how it's spent, there is oversight, there is transparency. And I hope -- and we -- I expect that we can do that.

    MR. GREGORY: You mentioned housing. Your home state, number one in foreclosures. What specifically should the stimulus plan do to reduce the severity of this housing correction? For instance, should there be a guarantee of principal for people buying a home?

    SEN. REID: The, the reason we look at housing is not only for the people who are being foreclosed upon, but for the economy generally. Because, you see, housing is more than carpenters putting up walls; it's people laying tile, it's people manufacturing appliances and carpeting. So we have to do a number of things. A number of suggestion has been let's have a moratorium on foreclosures for 90 days. That's would be a step in the right direction. And the one thing that I'm very concerned about is what's happened to the $350 billion that has been -- was given. Most of it's been given to the banks, who aren't making the loans. And so I think that's a place we need to look very quickly.

    MR. GREGORY: Would you guarantee the down payment? Would you guarantee a homeowner's principal?

    SEN. REID: This is something -- as I've indicated earlier, David , Boehner and McConnell are saying, "Let us be involved." I'm not going to here dictate what's going to happen. But I want the Finance Committee and the Ways and Means Committee to come up with ways that we can alleviate the housing crisis. We have now a Democratic president, we have a Democratic control of the House and the Senate . But that doesn't mean we can push our way through.

    MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

    SEN. REID: To do what is right for this country is going to take us working together, Democrats and Republicans , because, because the problem...

    MR. GREGORY: So you don't want to weigh in on that particular issue?

    SEN. REID: No, no, David , the problems out there aren't Democratic problems or Republican problems, they're American problems. We have to address them.

    MR. GREGORY: What about taxes? Will you work to repeal the Bush tax cuts right away? Do you think that's a prudent step?

    SEN. REID: We're going to have a middle-class tax cut . We're going to cut taxes for working men and women. And I am not going to get involved with any talk about tax increases. I haven't heard Barack Obama say that, I haven't said it.

    MR. GREGORY: But a repeal of the Bush tax cuts would be a tax increase.

    SEN. REID: But no one's talking about that? All we're talking about is a middle-class tax cut . Not raise -- yeah.

    MR. GREGORY: Would you like to see a payroll tax cut ? Do you think that's the most effective way to reach the middle class ?

    SEN. REID: There are a number of ways we can do it. You can do it with the income tax , you can do it through Social Security funds that are put forth every day. There are many ways of doing this, and that's why we're working with President- elect Obama and his economic team to find out what we can come up with.

    MR. GREGORY: Let me ask you about the investor class in this country, everybody from wealthy investors to a retired teacher. In 2008 , $7 trillion of wealth was lost in the stock market . Do you think that the SEC , the Security Exchange Commission , has done its job? Do you think it should remain the kind of agency it is? Should it be abolished or reformed?

    SEN. REID: The answer, obviously, is the Securities and Exchange Commission did a lousy job. The evidence is clear that you cannot have no regulation. It doesn't work. You know, the marketplace will take care of everything. Well, it hasn't. And we have to have regulation. Now, the key to all this is how do we regulate? We can't be overzealous and overregulate, but there must be regulation. There has to be some. And we simply haven't had it. And the Securities and Exchange Commission should be ashamed of itself for what they've let happen with the guy in New York , Maddow , and the meltdown all over this country.

    MR. GREGORY: So it should be reformed.

updated 1/4/2009 5:09:53 PM ET 2009-01-04T22:09:53

Congressional Democrats said Sunday that President-elect Barack Obama probably will have to wait until next month before getting the chance to sign an economic aid bill his team once hoped would be on his desk by his swearing-in Jan. 20.

“It’s going to be very difficult to get the package put together that early,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland said. “But we certainly want to see this package passed through the House of Representatives no later than the end of this month, get it over to the Senate, and have it to the president before we break” in mid-February.

Obama planned to meet with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Monday to talk about enacting a massive spending plan. The president-elect also scheduled a separate meeting with the entire Democratic and Republican leadership teams.

Reid said they will do their “very very best” to get a package finished as soon as possible, but he was unwilling to set an artificial deadline for completion.

“We’re going to get it done as quickly as we can,” Reid said.

Added Hoyer: “We’re going to move as quickly as possible, given our responsibilities to make sure that we’re passing a package that will work.”

Obama said Congress should pass a plan designed to create 3 million jobs. The Democratic president-elect hasn’t announced a final price for it, but aides said the cost could be as high as $775 billion.

Congressional aides briefed on the measure say it probably would blend tax cuts of $500 to $1,000 for middle-class individuals and couples with about $200 billion to help revenue-starved states with their Medicaid programs and other operating costs. A large portion of the measure will go toward public works projects and include new programs such as research and development on energy efficiency and an expensive rebuilding of the information technology system for health care.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky warned Democrats against trying to move quickly without the GOP’s input.

“This is an enormous bill. It could be close to a $1 trillion spending bill,” McConnell said. “Do we want to do it with essentially no hearings, no input, for example, in the Senate from Republican senators who represent half of the American population? I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

Instead of giving all that money to states as grants, McConnell suggested it go as loans.

Major Market Indices

“It will make them spend it more wisely,” McConnell said. “The states that didn’t need it at all wouldn’t take any.”

Democrats understand that the GOP has to be involved in anything they do, said Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat.

“Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid both know that we can’t pass the economic recovery plan that this nation desperately needs without bipartisan cooperation,” Durbin said. “We’ve got to put aside a lot of the squabbling that in the past and come together under this new administration and new leadership, to get the American economy back on line.”

Hoyer said they have only two criteria for passing an economic package.

“Do it as quickly as possible, but do it right, and do it so the American people know what we’re doing, do it so that members of Congress are confident of the action that we’re taking,” Hoyer said. “So those are the two criteria — do it as quickly as possible, but do it right. I think that time frame is hopefully certainly by the end of the month.”

Hoyer spoke on “Fox News Sunday,” Reid appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” while Durbin and McConnell were on “This Week” on ABC.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

Data: Latest rates in the US

Home equity rates View rates in your area
Home equity type Today +/- Chart
$30K HELOC FICO 3.79%
$30K home equity loan FICO 4.99%
$75K home equity loan FICO 4.69%
Credit card rates View more rates
Card type Today +/- Last Week
Low Interest Cards 13.83%
Cash Back Cards 17.80%
Rewards Cards 17.18%