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House Passes Bail-Out Bill
Aired October 3, 2008 - 12:50 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: What do you say? A live picture now of Capitol Hill. The House debate continues over the financial rescue plan. Steny Hoyer is speaking right now, a Democrat from Maryland. Let's listen in.
REP. STENY HOYER, (D) MAJORITY LEADER: Affirmatively on Monday. What we did decide, however, that was initial failure should not stand because the crisis confronting our country was too great. And Republicans and Democrats together, administration and Congress, chairman and ranking member, each individual member, decided that failure was not an option.
On Monday, the dividing line in this House was not between parties. It was between those who believed the dangers of doing nothing outweighed their reservation about Monday's bill and those who had yet to be convinced. Since then, I believe that the number of the convinced that this action is essential has grown.
Some were convinced when a vote in this chamber led to the evaporation at $1.2 trillion of wealth in about 120 seconds. Some were convinced when they heard that America lost another 159,000 jobs last month. Making a total lost jobs this year of 760,000 jobs.
In a similar period eight years ago, we had gained 1.5 million jobs. A net turnaround of over 2.2 million jobs.
Americans are in trouble. They're expecting us to act. Some were convinced by the stories like this one from a small town car dealer in Utah. He said this -- I'm not going to be able to pay my employees next week. I can't get the kind of credit line from the bank that I've had through my entire career unless you do something.
This bill outreaches not only to minorities, but to small businesses as well. And I thank the general lady from California for her focus on that issue, and Mr. Baucus for his focus on that issue.
What happens on Wall Street is bound up with the jobs of millions on main street, and the retirement of millions on main street, and the homes of millions in hometown America, and dreams of millions of our fellow Americans. And if disaster strikes those few square miles in Manhattan, it will surely spread until every one of those jobs and retirements and homes and dreams are put at great risk.
This week, I've heard from the prime minister of Australia and Japan, who are telling us that their people are bracing themselves, worried that America will not rise to the occasions. I am proud to be a member of this House. And when challenged, I believe this House rises to its responsibilities. And I believe it will do so today. We sing the praises of American leadership, and today I think we will deserve that praise.
This is the responsibility that comes with our duty as representatives in the people's House. For all of those reasons, this bill is essential. So many of us have improved the administration's plan, Republicans and Democrats working together, which came to us as a mere three-page bill, giving essentially a $700 billion blank check to the administration. Republicans and Democrats knew as one that that could not stand.
The heart of the bill remains a plan for the government to buy up bad financial assets, restoring the flow of credit. So essential to the growth and maintenance of our economy. But we fought to ensure that taxpayers will be the first to profit, if and when those assets rise again in value. Making the true price tag of this bill far, far less than $700 billion.
In fact, Warren Buffett, one of the most successful investors in the history of America, has said this, and I quote, "if they do it right -- if they do it right," he said, "and I think they'll do it reasonably right." His expectation is that we will do it reasonably right. He said, if we do that, we'll make a lot of money. We, being the taxpayers of America. So we have the opportunity not only to save our economy, to save those dreams of our fellow citizens, but also to make some profit.
In addition, we made sure that the financial community will be obligated to pay the taxpayers back for our loan. We've restricted executive compensation, because CEOs whose recklessness helped bring on this crisis should not receive taxpayer subsidized golden parachutes for extraordinary salaries. We are subjecting the Treasury secretary's decision to strong oversight. Republicans and Democrats together agreed that that should be done.
Finally, we will help homeowners renegotiate their mortgages to prevent a further flood of 2 million projected foreclosures. That's what this bill is about. That is the action we are asked to take today.
On Wednesday, the Senate raised federal insurance of bank accounts from $100,000 to $250,000 and also chose to add several tax cuts. I personally believe that raising the FDIC could be argued on both sides of the question. But certainly it ought to stabilize our local banks.
However, as all of you know, I strongly disagree with adding those tax provisions, because the Senate has chosen to finance them with debt. This crisis is making it painfully clear the dangers of fiscal recklessness and that debt does indeed matter. A lesson, in my opinion, the Senate has ignored.
But an emergency like this calls for the courage to compromise. On Monday, Chairman Frank said, and I quote the chairman, "if we aren't prepared to accept some of the things we don't like, we will not have the power to deliver for the people we care about." The chairman was absolutely right. For me, those people are families unable to take out a loan to buy an appliance or pay for college. They're Americans who have worked their whole lives only to see their retirement accounts threatened. They are the millions of workers fearing a pink slip they did nothing to earn.
For their sake, for their sake, we must act. I urge all of us to pass this legislation. I urge all of us to vote for this legislation.
I know there will be some who will not vote for this legislation. And I want them to know that I respect their judgment. We have a difference of opinion.
On Monday, America was deeply divided and their representative body, not surprisingly, was deeply divided. In the last four days, Americans in small towns, on farms, in urban areas and suburban areas have reflected upon the consequences of inaction. And while they have not come to the universal thought that we ought to pass this bill, they have told us in the strongest terms, we expect the people's House to act in a way that they think best to save our economy, to protect our dreams, to make America whole again. And I yield back the balance of my time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The chairman yields back his time. The gentlemen from Alabama. Gentleman from Alabama.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madam speaker, I yield one minute to the gentlemen from Ohio.
HARRIS: OK. You just heard House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer from Maryland and his floor speech, encouraging House members to vote for passage of the $700 billion rescue plan for the financial sector. As you know, the plan would allow -- John Boehner speaking now. Very quickly, let's take you back to the floor of the House.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) MINORITY LEADER: We've worked together to bring us to this point. We all know that we are in the midst of a financial crisis. And we all know that this crisis is about our neighbors. And it's about our small businesses. It's about retirees whose saving are on the line. It's about the American people and their jobs. And we know that if we do nothing, this crisis is likely to worsen and to put us into an economic slump like most of us have never seen.
We've come together on a bill that is a much better bill than it was when it started. It isn't the bill that I would write. It's not the bill any of you would write, because this bill was done in a bipartisan way, where members on both sides of the aisle came together, worked together to build a product that we thought would help overt this crisis. It certainly has grown in size.
But to do nothing, in my view, is not an option. The consequences of us not acting are overwhelming. And so I do believe that it's our responsibility to act. The American people sent us here to do our jobs on their behalf. They're counting on us. And I know that some of you will disagree with the bill that we have before us. And I understand and respect those views. But while we have an imperfect product, we have a responsibility to act. And to act in a way that we will do our best on behalf of our constituents.
I've talked to a lot of members on both sides of the aisle who were stuck in really difficult elections. And doing this bill in the middle of an election is complicated enough. And I've had members worried about how this is going to affect their election.
I told them that whether you vote yes or you vote no, you've got to go home and defend this. And it's a lot easier to defend your vote if you, in your own mind, will just do the right thing. I'm going to vote for this bill today because I think it's in the best interests of the American people. That's what they sent us here to do and that's what I'm going to do.
Above the speaker's rostrum is our motto, "In God we trust." Probably one of the most serious votes that any of us will ever cast. I said my prayers this morning, like I do every morning, so that I can understand and feel better about the vote that I cast.
But even if we pass this bill today, let's not kid ourselves. We're in the midst of a recession. It's going to be a rough ride. But it will be a whole lot rougher ride if we don't pass this bill. But I will say to all of you, when this bill passes today, remember those words, "in God we trust," because we're going to need his help.
I yield back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yield back his time.
The gentleman from Alabama, time has expired.
Gentleman from Massachusetts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madam speaker, I yield to the gentleman of Rhode Island for a unanimous (ph) consent request, with the reminder that the vehicle for this is the mental health clarity bill for which he has worked so hard.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentleman is recognized.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I asked unanimous consent, madam speaker, to include my statement recognizing the end of insurance discrimination towards the mentally ill and to praise my colleague, Jim Ranstead (ph) and Dave Wellstone (ph), whose father is looking down on us today in praise for his son for all the hard work he did to see this day come to pass. And I urge passage of this legislation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No objection (ph), so ordered.
Gentleman from Massachusetts. Gentleman from Massachusetts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madam speaker, to close with a burst of redundancy, which is not inappropriate for what we've been through on this bill, I yield to madam speaker for one minute.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentlewoman from California is recognized for one minute.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) HOUSE SPEAKER: Thank you very much, Madame Speaker. I thank the gentlemen for yielding. I thank him for being such a great maestro in orchestrating this legislation that we have before us, accompanied by so many others, Congresswoman Waters for her tremendous leadership. He recognized Congressman Spratt of the Budget Committee, Congresswoman Slaughter for her work on the Rules Committee in bringing this bill to the floor, Congressman Rangel for his very, very important work as well, and having a piece of this bill. I commend Senator Baucus for his leadership and some of the great ideas that he brought to the table that first night and continued to bring to the discussion as we have gone ahead. It's been my pleasure to work with Mr. Boehner and Mr. Blunt on this and with my colleague, Mr. Hoyer, whose invested so much time in it, and our mastermind, Rahm Emanuel for his knowledge of Wall Street, his knowledge of Congress and his leadership was essential in our reaching the point that we are today.
And the place that we are today is to debate legislation that I think is much improved from the product that was here on Monday. And as we debate this legislation, we must do so with an eye to the future. We must reassure the American people that this crisis will lead to reform that will strengthen their personal economic security. That the bright light of accountability will protect the taxpayers and ferret out the abuses that has led to this crisis.
The urgency is clear. We hear if from our friends, from our neighbors. We hear it every place we turn. In my own state of California, officials including the governor, are urgently calling for federal legislation to avoid economic catastrophe. Catastrophe. Those urgent calls are being echoed by Democratic and Republican governors from across the country. While the focus has been on the Dow Jones and Wall Street, we are addressing the real pain felt by Mr. and Mrs. Jones on main street. They are why we must pass this legislation today.
Seniors and those nearing retirement have watched their savings dwindle and their pensions evaporate. Entrepreneurs seeking a plant for a new business are being turned away from credit, undermining job creation. If you try to buy a car, you cannot get a car loan. If you're trying to sell cars, you cannot get a business loan to purchase inventory. If you're trying to save for your children's college education, you're deeply in doubt as to whether your savings will be there.
And just this morning, the Labor Department announced that another 159,000 Americans lost their jobs in September. The most in five years. Nearly 800,000 Americans have lost their jobs this year alone.
These are the Americans we must act on behalf of today. They are not the high flyers on Wall Street, but our neighbors and our constituents. And they need our help. Let us be clear. The original rescue bill proposed by the Bush administration was unacceptable, as has been indicated by Mr. Boehner. It has asked us to commit $700 billion in taxpayers' money with few strings and no safeguards. We rejected, in a bipartisan way, we rejected that proposal. In our bipartisan negotiations between the White House and the Congress, we demanded tough additions to the bill and they are contained in this legislation.
To protect the taxpayers, we insisted upon tough oversight and accountability. To further protect the taxpayers, we wanted to make sure that as we bought this illiquid paper, as Mr. Paulson was talking about, and as we invested capital into these companies that we are helping to make healthy, that the American taxpayer would profit. Mr. Spencer Baucus was quite vocal on that subject when we met that first Thursday night two weeks and one day ago, about, If we're going to make these companies healthier, why shouldn't we just invest capital in them so the taxpayer can benefit?
And thanks to John Tanner of Tennessee, the -- if this does not pay for itself, as some say that it can, and if -- but if there is a shortfall, the taxpayer will be made whole, being paid for by fees on those who have benefited from the program. That recoupment that Mr. Tanner put forth, I think, is a tremendous, tremendous advance in this legislation and a protection for the taxpayer.
We also reformed CEO compensation and an end to the golden parachute. Our message to Wall Street is, The party is over. No longer will you drive your business into the ground, take a golden parachute to safety and have the taxpayer pick up the tab. And thanks to Congresswoman Maxine Waters, this legislation will do a great deal to help families avoid foreclosure and enable them to stay in their homes.
Since the bill came to the floor early this week it has been further improved by increases in insurance for checking and savings accounts, which protect savers, small businesses and community banks across America. I'm especially pleased that the plan benefits middle income families by strengthening with an extension of the $1,000-per- couple state and local property tax deduction, $1,000 for those who do not itemize reduction -- deduction in their property taxes. And I thank Jim Clyburn, our Democratic whip, for his leadership in this regard.
I'm also pleased that the bill includes an extension of tax cuts for clean and renewable energy that will create and save half a million good-paying jobs in America immediately. This was a part of our energy bill last year. It did not survive the Senate. It now has become a part of this legislation, and it is paid for. And it is paid for. We fought hard to include these critical tax cuts, again, as I said, in last year's landmark legislation, and they are -- because they are essential to job creation.
And aren't we all pleased across America as cause for celebration that the legislation includes the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. Patrick Kennedy and Mr. Ramstad -- I hope he's here -- can convey to him the gratitude of the American people to both of them for their leadership, without which we would not be having this important legislation passed today. It has turned out to be the vehicle on (ph) which the whole package is moving. By requiring that illness in the brain be treated just like illnesses elsewhere in the body for insurance purposes, we're helping to end a discrimination against those who seek treatment for mental illness. This legislation will also save lives.
So there's some things in here that have been added since the other day. They're very important, legislation that has passed the House over and over again but never could make it through the Senate, and now it has. That doesn't take away from the fact that we've been dealt a mighty bad hand with the core part of this legislation, but it has been improved. It is a compromise, but it is just the start.
Passing this legislation is only the beginning of our work to protect the economic future of the American people. With the work in these past two weeks, we've been -- we've seen things we never thought we would see before in terms of the economic insecurity of our own country. With this legislation, $700 billion, we have broken new ground in how we deal with this crisis, but we will not leave it broken.
Congressmen Waxman, Peterson -- Chairman Waxman, Chairman Peterson, Chairman Frank will hold a series of hearings to determine the origins of the crisis, how regulators and business leaders failed to protect the public interest and the common sense reasonable regulations needed to provide security and stability in the future. We must look ahead. We must look ahead to protect Americans from unsavory lending practices and to bring a better balance to our bankruptcy laws. But today we must begin by passing this bill.
And as we do so, we must keep in mind our commitment to fiscal discipline, to not increasing the deficit. The overriding question I have from people -- well, among others -- Why so much? Will it work? We'll see. What does it do to our opportunities to invest in the American people? Well, we hope it will pay for itself, and if it doesn't, then the fees will be there to cover it.
But apart from that, we cannot get into the thinking that we can just put out all this money without the thought that it will be heaping mountains of debt onto our children unless we have recoupment. So it is a problem for us as we go into a new presidency and a new Congress, but under the leadership of Mr. Frank and working with others in the House and in the Senate, and with a new president of the United States, "No new deficit spending" must be our mantra.
This is a vote with real consequences, a vote that will shape or begin to shape the financial stability of our country and the economic security of our people. It's an important vote. It's a difficult vote. But it is a vote that we must win for the American people. We must win it for Mr. and Mrs. Jones on Main Street. With that, I yield back the balance of my time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentlewoman from California yields back her time. All time for debate has expired. Pursuant to House Resolution 1525, the previous question is ordered. The question is on the motion by the gentleman from Massachusetts. All votes in favor say aye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aye!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Aye!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aye!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Opposed say no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The ayes have it.
REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Madam Speaker...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentleman from Massachusetts.
FRANK: Madam Speaker, I call for the ayes and nays.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The ayes and nays are requested. Those favoring a vote by the ayes and nays will rise. A sufficient number having risen, the ayes and nays are ordered. Members will record their vote by electronic device pursuant to clause 8 of rule 20. This 15-minute vote on the motion to concur will be followed by five minutes to vote on suspending the rules and passing F-3197. This is a 15-minute vote.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, T minus 15. You just heard to. So what was more exciting, the debate last night with Sarah Palin and Joe Biden or what was happening right there on the floor? Trying to figure out if, indeed, there is going to about vote and the good word is in, 15 minutes now, T minus 15 minutes. You heard it from lawmakers. Their urgency is clear, Do the right thing. Not talking about the movie. Now they're getting ready to vote, and we're going to find out if, indeed, this bail-out package is going to pass. It's looking pretty good.
We've got Brianna Keilar on Capitol Hill. We've also got Ali Velshi at the Chicago Board of Trade, Ed Henry in Pueblo, California -- or Colorado, rather. He's on the McCain campaign trail. We're going to hit all the various sides to this.
Brianna, why don't we start with you there at Capitol Hill. This is good news. It looks like, as you look at the numbers, the attitude of both Republicans and Democrats, this may be it.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is just a hive of activity right now, Kyra. And let me tell you, I can hear the buzzer going off, which is a signal to members of the House that it's time to vote. This is going to be a 15-minute vote. It's possible that it could be extended longer than that, just so that you're aware.
But when you're talking about it seems like there may be support for this, the reason is this. Obviously, this measure, with fewer add-ones, failed in the House on Monday. It's being taken up today with some things that the Senate added on. At our last count, there were 19 members of the House, Democrats and Republicans, who voted no on Monday who said they're planning on voting yes today. So obviously, that makes up the 12-vote difference that would have pushed this over the threshold on Monday.
Keep in mind, though, there is a possibility, and we're going to be watching very carefully for this, if there are some people who voted yes on Monday who decide to vote no today. But obviously, a good sign coming from House minority leader John Boehner. He actually said, "when" we pass this bill, "when," not "if," Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right. T minus 13, 14 now. Watch the minutes for us there, Brianna.
Ali Velshi, show me the money. What does this mean for my bottom line, my pocketbook and all taxpayers across the country?
ALI VELSHI, CNN SR. BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, by the way, you asked what was more interesting, the debate of this. On the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and here at the Chicago Board of Trade, people are watching this vote clearly.
This means a lot for you. This means that we may see, if this bail-out passes, the beginning of a thaw of this credit crisis that worked its way all the way down to your credit limit on your credit card that has reduced in many cases we've been hearing about across America, for your inability to get a mortgage, for your inability to sell your home because somebody else couldn't get a mortgage, for the ability of your employer to get a short-term bridge loan in order to continue making his operating expenses.
But it is very clear that this is not the answer to our economic problems. Kyra, we saw 150,00-some-odd -- 158,000 jobs lost this morning. That means three quarters of a million this year. The problems don't go away. The jobless rate doesn't go away. The low price of homes don't go away. This just means it's a bit of a backstop, and a particularly expensive backstop, to this financial crisis that we've been brought to because of the system of taking mortgages selling them from your bank to a larger institution, to even larger institutions, and everybody getting caught holding the bag because interest rates went up.
But I have to tell you, Kyra, the bottom line here is even if this happens, this may not have an effect on your mortgage rates immediately. It may not have a widespread effect that you're going to feel because we don't know where that $700 billion is actually going to go, what they're going to buy and what we might get.
But what you are seeing today is a reaction on the market to what looks to be bipartisan efforts to actually understand this problem and get it through. And as you heard some of the members of Congress saying, they have heard over the last four days a real shift in sentiment from some of the calls that they've been getting from Americans who said, I don't want a bail-out of Wall Street fat cats, over to people saying, You guys need to do something to get this on.
Now, just to track markets for a second -- before the vote was announced, the beginning of voting, the markets were up about 250, 260 points, in and around that range. They shot up after the vote started to go, the Dow well above 300 at that point. It has now pared back down.
So I think everybody's going to take a 10 or 15-minute breather, see what actually happens because we all got surprised Monday, and then you will see a reaction here, on the New York Stock Exchange, on markets that are trading wherever they are right now. So we're keeping a very close eye on that. And I will tell you, as a result of what happens in this vote, Kyra, what that means to your bottom line, when we come back.
PHILLIPS: OK. We'll be waiting for that. Brianna, stay with us on Cap Hill. Ali Velshi, stay with us there at CBOT out of Chicago. Ed Henry, you're in Pueblo, Colorado, on the McCain campaign trail.
Let's talk about what is next now for John McCain, Barack Obama. Obviously, they, their advisers monitoring the vote here. Where do they go forward from here?
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John McCain will be speaking to this large crowd in Pueblo, Colorado, in just a few moments, and you can bet he'll try to take a victory lap. You'll remember at the beginning of the week, when this bail-out stalled in the House, John McCain took a lot of lumps because he had suspended his campaign, he had gone back to Washington to work out a deal. When that failed, he really took it on the chin politically. And obviously, now, if it does, in fact, go through the House -- we're not there yet, we've got to be cautious. We saw it go down on Monday. But it's gone through the Senate already with votes from John McCain and Barack Obama. If, and I stress "if," it goes through the House now, you can bet John McCain will be taking a victory lap before this crowd.
But he can only go so far with that. Obviously, as Ali noted, this jobs report today is a reminder -- and John McCain, in fact, put out a written statement about it earlier -- that this economy is still very shaky. It's not clear that this bail-out is going to turn the economy around anytime soon. So John McCain is walking a very fine line here because he realizes that in a lot of these battleground states, like Colorado, for example, Barack Obama has really been picking up steam over the last week or two, and a lot of people in both parties pointing towards this financial crisis as an excuse.
So what can we expect from John McCain? He is going to talk a lot about taxes today. He's going to try to assert once again, as you heard in the vice presidential debate last night, that the Democratic ticket wants to raise taxes and that's going to further hurt the economy. What we've already heard this morning from Barack Obama in Pennsylvania is that he actually only wants to raise taxes on about 5 percent of the American people, that he wants to give a tax cut to about 95 percent of the American people. So you can bet between now and the election, that issue of taxes, and how it will impact this already shaky economy will be a major issue, some sharp differences between these two candidates, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right. Ed, stay with us.
Eight minutes, 55 seconds right now. The voting has begun. Last word was at least 19 members of the House of Representatives said Friday they had switched positions and would now support the proposed $700 billion bail-out of the nation's financial system, 13 Democrats, 6 Republicans had told reporters, or at least said on the House floor that they had changed their minds, improving the chances for the bill's passage.
That, of course, would be good news for the president. Kathleen Koch is at the White House.
And if, indeed, it does pass, Kathleen, could the president actually sign off on this bill today?
KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Kyra, where there is a will, there is a way when it comes to getting these kinds of things signed. But right now, the White House is not taking anything for granted. And I will tell you they have certainly dialed back the rhetoric on this one. On Monday, on even Sunday night, when I spoke to senior administration officials here, the answer that the used was "confident." They thought they had the votes. Well, that certainly started scaling back mid-week to where we were hearing somewhat optimistic, fairly optimistic.
They don't want to take a single vote for granted. And you have seen and you have heard how the president has really poured every single ounce of remaining political capital that he has left as a lame duck president into this vote. He's been calling lawmakers non-stop now. Deputy White House press secretary Tony Fratto says, yes, he believes he has changed some minds, but he wouldn't give us a firm and hard and fast count. Also calling, the vice president, Dick Cheney, the top White House staffers.
So it's really been a full-court press on this one. And certainly, the White House wants to do what it can to, if it could, even get this measure signed today in order to reassure markets both in the United States, markets around the world, that this is done and that we are on the road to some kind of stability here, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right. Kathleen Koch at White House. Stay stable for us there.
Frank Sesno joining us now out of the Washington bureau. Frank, a lot of public pressure going on. Well, has been going on since this has even come forward. A lot of people were angry before. Then they started to have a little bit of hope. Then they were confused, and they weren't sure what was right, including even the politicians voting on this bail-out bill. What do you think the feeling is now?
FRANK SESNO, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Confusion. I think it's...
PHILLIPS: All of the above, right?
SESNO: That's what makes this so tricky. I mean, I have not just -- just have not seen anything that's as personal as this. And it cuts across ages. You know, we've talked a lot about people who are fearful that their 401(k)s are evaporating. Well, I talked to a student the other day who's waiting for his loan to be processed by Sallie Mae and says, If I don't get it, I may not be able to stay in school. This is a current student. I mean, it runs the spectrum.
I was sitting in for talk radio earlier this week on National Public Radio, and we were getting calls all week long, and they were angry calls, anger directed at Wall Street, anger directed at Washington, anger directed at Congress, at the White House, but most of all, a lack of trust and a lack of confidence. That's compounded because this stuff is so complicated.
Yes, you may get a mortgage or you borrow for a car, but are people dabbling in the credit markets? I mean, yes, obviously, they are, but not at the degree of complexity that suggests how this thing has all fallen apart. And so you've got a very -- a concerned, anxious, uncertain, personally affected public that's watching all of this, and I don't blame them for not knowing who to believe or what to think the actual answer is here.
PHILLIPS: You know what? You talk about the public having all these feelings. You know, I'm reading through all various quotes from Republicans and Democrats, and John Yarmuth, Democrat, Kentucky, Frank, he said, I hate this bill. He just came right out and said it. And then he followed up saying, I have a fairly low level of confidence that this will work, but the risk of doing nothing is far too great to take.
SESNO: Well, that's exactly right. I mean, think of it this way. You're a car dealership. You have a parking lot full of new cars. The market slows down. People aren't buying cars. You don't pay for those cars that are sitting on your lot out of your pocket. That's many millions of dollars worth of cars. You probably floated some line of credit someplace. That line of credit to be replenished. It has to be turned over. And if your bank starts, you know, cutting down on you, where do you go? You're in the middle of putting an extension or an addition or something onto your home. And if your home equity line of credit starts to dry up, what do you do? You see how it courses through the economy.
But what you've got is you've got economists and politicians on all sides saying, The sky is falling. No, it's not. This is the only way to go. No, it's not. And so what the political dance here is -- and it's very interesting to see with the presidential and vice presidential candidates -- get close enough to be doing something because they know they need to, but keep enough distance so if it doesn't go well, they don't go down with the ship.
PHILLIPS: Frank Sesno, stay with us there in the Washington, D.C., bureau -- 4 minutes and 9 seconds left in the voting right now. We're going to find out if, indeed, this bail-out package is going to pass. It does look good. It's possible the president could even sign off on the bill today. What does that mean if it does pass? What does it mean if it doesn't pass? I can tell you we're talking a lot about our money, our 401(k)s, our mortgages, all the things that affect us on a daily basis.
Susan Lisovicz at the New York Stock Exchange, Ali Velshi for us at CBOT out of Chicago.
Susan, Nancy Pelosi even came up to the mikes and said, Look, the party is over, all you CEOs. Golden parachutes, those days are over. Is that true, if, indeed, this does pass, no more golden parachutes? I find it hard too believe.
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, I think that it's pretty clear that the free market ain't so free anymore, Kyra. We have ample evidence of that in the last few weeks, whether it's the government's takeover of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG, and so on, that -- you know, the accusation was that the government or that regulators -- and by that I mean, say, the Federal Reserve, with cheap money, the FTC, not being able to see -- cheap money for so long, I should say, with the Federal Reserve, and not seeing the problem, the looming problem with subprime loans, and also the SEC with some of the opaque nature of these securities that have circulated around the world, the fact that they were so loosely regulated. The pendulum's so far in free regulation, deregulation, I think you're see a lot more oversight.
And that, you know, brings its own -- own characteristics, and that is less risk means, in some cases, less profit. I mean, that's just the way it works. But I think that -- I think everyone would agree that some oversight would be needed.
Having said that, you know, this vote taking place on this day -- you know, we have this tremendous rally taking place right now. You know, there's a feeling on the street that Congress almost has a gun to its head, Kyra, because we got this lousy jobs report. Now, we've become used to lousy jobs reports. After all, the U.S. economy has lost jobs every month this year, but it was even lousier than the expectation, 159,000 jobs lost in one month.
The feeling is, is that Congress really has to do something because the economy has already -- is already in a fragile state. The credit market is dry. It just makes a bad thing worse -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Ali Velshi, about a minute 47 remaining in the voting right now, Susan mentioning a lot about oversight. I mean, bottom line, that's why we are where we are. It was the lack of oversight. And the SEC chairman, Chairman Cox, got a huge hit for that, and apparently, a lot of changes within this bail-out plan to have more oversight. Do you have faith in that? VELSHI: You know, Kyra, our financial oversight system was built in the 1930s. It was as if you were building highways for cars that could only go 25 miles an hour. Now we have cars that go 100 miles an hour, and we still have the same regulatory system. It doesn't mean that nobody was watching. It means the system just wasn't built for the complexity of our credit markets and our financial markets right now. These credit markets, I think, in the last two weeks, Americans have had a big tutorial in how connected they are all the way through their banks, through Wall Street, through larger investors and other countries that invest in our bonds, in our corporate bonds and our government bonds.
The bottom line is, as Dave (ph) just said to you -- as Frank Sesno just said to you, we are very, very tied into this. This affects small businesses, your job and your credit. Now, the bottom line is where Susan is and where I am. People are watching this very carefully to see how this goes.
And if there is a positive reaction -- when I say positive, if the bill passes, you will see various things happening. Next to me, over there, you will start to see things happening that will -- that will show a crack in those frozen credit markets. That will not hit you today. That will not hit you immediately, but it will start to say that some of that bad money that's out there is going to go to the side, and people will be able to start to do business again. It doesn't mean that people will get money instantly, whether it's you or your company.
But this idea of oversight has become very important because how did we get into this mess in the first place? We can describe it to you, but it's the problem that everybody here is concerned about. See the applause. You can listen to it here. So people are taking this and (INAUDIBLE) Kyra.
PHILLIPS: There we go. It just hit zero. No more time remaining there on the House floor. And take look at that, 226 to 143. It needed 218 to pass for sure, obviously.
Brianna Keilar on Cap Hill, you needed a majority of those present and voting, but if you made it past the 218, it was -- it was that golden parachute, I guess you should say, for the voting, right?
KEILAR: Exactly. So over 218, of course. But also keep an eye on how many Republicans have voted yea at this point, far surpassing at this point 20 votes past what they voted on Monday. So at this point, it appears -- and Kyra, have they gaveled to a close?
PHILLIPS: No. The gavel has not come down, which means they can change their votes, correct?
KEILAR: Yes. And we have to be careful about this because ever though, at this point, if this were the end game here, right, you're looking at the fact that this bail-out plan has made it through. It seems very unlikely that that many votes would come back from, you know, obviously 239 to 240 now all the way down to 218. But yes, votes can slip and slide, so you have to keep an eye on that. But again, take a look at the Republican who have voted yea. And you're looking at, at this point, 21 more than voted -- 21 more voting yea today than they did on Monday. So why are they doing this? Well, obviously, it's a combination of different things, the add-ones that came from the Senate, the increase in that FDIC insurance cap, the tax cuts, these things that were sweeteners for Republicans.
But also, don't underestimate the market pressure. We saw, of course, the markets take such a dip, such a dive on Monday, and no doubt, members of the House have had an eye to that. They've also been getting a lot of pressure from governors in their state, from the AARP, from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
And over time, over the last few days, we've also seen the calls sort of change that are coming in from constituents, more constituents, Kyra, who have been in favor of this bail-out plan than compared to prior to Monday.
So at this point, we continue to watch. We're going to continue to watch the final numbers and wait until we see if they -- when they gavel it to a close, if it's, of course, going to be a done deal. But at this point, you're looking at votes continue to go up on the yeas. And we've surpassed it, at this point, not having gaveled to a close, by, I believe -- oh, it's going up even more, past 30 votes, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: So Democratic leaders can actually keep this vote open indefinitely, right, to try to twist more arms and try and persuade members to change their votes?
KEILAR: Yes, they could do. And the reason would be, say, if they came up short, which, obviously, they haven't, they would keep it open, trying to do some arm twisting and getting people to switch. And the reason they could be keeping it open now is because, since there's such an overwhelming number, past 218, they could be allowing other members now to change their votes, to reconsider where they want to be on this bail-out plan, considering that so many members now have voted for it, surpassing that 218 threshold.
PHILLIPS: Brianna, stay with us. Monitor the numbers for us. You talked about the -- just the pressure and the arm twisting going on there on the floor. Well, it's coming from the White House, as well. Kathleen Koch I just can imagine the president on down probably making a few phone calls there to members to try to convince them once again to vote the way he wants them to vote.
KOCH: They have been doing that, Kyra. And what's really interesting, though, is even the White House itself, if this does end up passing, is not going to take full credit for it and say, Well, it was all the president's powers of persuasion.
Very interesting, in the briefing yesterday, deputy press secretary Tony Fratto said it was really a big, big factor, a major factor was that precipitous plunge, that historic plunge in the stock markets on Monday. He called it a "crystallizing moment," and he said that it really helped lawmakers to understand, quote, "We really are in a crisis." And he said maybe it took that for both Americans, the average American, to understand what was at stake, and for lawmakers. And that really did help turn around a lot of the phone calls, which has really influenced lawmakers.
PHILLIPS: And I think, Kathleen, we've just got the gavel. Let's listen for a second.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The motion is adopted. Without objection, the motion to reconsider is laid on the table.
PHILLIPS: All right, Brianna Keilar, are you with us still? Brianna, Keilar, are you with us?
KEILAR: Yes, I am.
PHILLIPS: OK. SO there you go.
KEILAR: Obviously, a final vote there, 263 to 171. They only needed 218 votes to get this bail-out plan through the House. So obviously, it passed, and it passed with quite a bit of bipartisan support, actually, today, this bail-out plan garnering 26 more Republican votes than it garnered on Monday. So obviously, a big changing of the tide here.
And of course, the question, Kyra, is what happens next? Well, I don't want to bore you with congressional details about how they do this, but basically, they go through a process called enrolling. They take the House bill, they take the Senate bill, they make sure they look the same. It's just housekeeping. They're making sure that as they get this bill ready, it's exactly what needs to go to President Bush so that all of their T's are crossed, all of their I's are dotted.
And then they would send it over to the president. I know everyone wants to know, Is this going to go over to him today? We don't know the definitive answer to that, at this point. It's possible that it could, but we don't know, at this point, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right. Kathleen Koch, still with me there at the White House?
KOCH: That I am. Yes, indeed.
PHILLIPS: OK. And you probably -- all right, we're being told now 1:55 we're going to get a statement from the president. Are you getting the same word?
KOCH: Yes. And we were actually -- we were given sort of a heads-up, as we generally are informally on background, Kyra, this morning, that if this measure passed, that, yes, the president would certainly come out, go before the cameras, thank Congress for coming together in a bipartisan manner and getting this passed and really helping with what the White House believes will restore stability and calm to the markets. There were some questions in today's briefing. So when does this program get started? When will the credit unfreeze? And deputy press secretary Tony Fratto said, Well, right now, I refer you to Treasury. It's going to take a little bit of time, take a few weeks. But again, they hope at least the markets, this will certainly help them over the coming days and weeks.
PHILLIPS: All right. Kathleen Koch, thank you so much.
If you're just tuning in, Congress has passed that complex and highly criticized legislation authorizing $700 billion to bail out this -- the United States financial industry right now.
Ali Velshi, live for us in Chicago there on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade, getting reaction. Ali, I know all eyes were watching the tube, watching that vote. Tell us what this means. Tell us what the numbers are and what it means for our pocketbooks.
VELSHI: Everybody was taking a little break while we were watching what was going on. The result here, interestingly enough, is that the Dow, which was up much more powerfully, up over 300 points, has actually pulled back as result of this. Treasury prices, bonds are a little bit lower right now. The U.S. dollar has gone down a little bit. This instant reaction is one I'm trying to make sense of what this will mean.
So now we have a sense that this bill has passed, what will this mean? What's the next phase of operation? Does it get signed? Does the money start to flow very quickly? So this immediate reaction is probably just one of uncertainty right now, Kyra.
People are trying to say, what is this going to now reflect into? Where will this money go? Will it got into banks? Remember, we have a lot of conflicting information to do with your money today, Kyra. We lost 159,000 jobs in September, bringing the total for this year to 750,000 jobs down. That's bad news.
Then we found out that somebody was bidding on Wachovia; Wells Fargo. That's good news. Someone's prepared to invest in bank. So, we have a lot of mixed news out there. You can see a lot of reaction as it's flowing through. What's happening here is these traders are all getting instructions, they're all connected to booths around the wall, and they're getting instructions from their offices as to what's buying and what's selling.
So, we're working this through right now. You're seeing the reaction on credit markets and financial markets for the passage of this bill -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right. I tell you what, Ali Velshi, work as a trader there. We'll come back to you. Susan Lisovicz, you're at the New York Stock Exchange. I understand you do have a trader for us to get reaction.
Give us a feel.
LISOVICZ: OK. I'm standing next to Dave Henderson, whose family has been on Wall Street since --
DAVE HENDERSON, NYSE TRADER: Since 1860.
LISOVICZ: OK. All right. So, use that perspective, then. Why the market has a very muted response. In fact, actually well off our highs as a session.
HENDERSON: Well, I think everyone was anticipating really the vote would be passed eventually sooner rather than later today. And we finally got to it. And we were up about 300 points before. And now, generally what they do down here is they buy the rumor and sell the news.
That seems to be a little bit of what's going on now. I think they're digesting all that for the moment. Because we haven't really sold off all that badly. I think the other positive news was earlier about Wachovia and things like that. So, you know, people are going to take it in stride here and see where it all leads to. They haven't really pulled the trigger one way or the other.
LISOVICZ: They are people out there watching and saying, we can't figure out Wall Street. Here you are, I mean, sold off so miserably. Well, I mean, wasn't this package something that everybody wanted here on the Street?
HENDERSON: Yes, most definitely. I mean, we saw what happened Monday, and everything else. And then the rest of volatility we've had throughout the whole week.
But again, you know it's getting to be Friday afternoon. Things are quieting down. People are probably going home and what have you. I mean, people expected this to pass.
Now, we got to start looking at the other economic news that has been coming out. The unemployment number that we had this morning was very, very dreadful and bad. And we're going to have other reports coming out later on in the next few weeks. But I think eyes are going to start to turn to Bernanke at the end of the month and find out what they're going to do with the subprime crisis.
LISOVICZ: So, more needs to be done, is that what you're saying?
HENDERSON: Perhaps, yes.
But, I mean, people haven't really figured that out yet. Exactly. But, they're concerned about the economy and where we're going with the economy and what's going to happen. You know, are the credit markets going to start to loosening up now? Are the funds going to start flowing again? I mean, that's still -- it's up in the air.
LISOVICZ: And that's something that we can't figure out instantly.
HENDERSON: Not instantly, no. It's going to take a couple of days to figure this all out. LISOVICZ: There were sense that interest rates are going to be the next big move that's going to come?
HENDERSON: Yes, yes. Unless we see that the credit markets really loosen up in a big way, between now and the end of the month.
LISOVICZ: Dave Henderson. Raven Securities. Out on the floor here.
And everybody's disbursed. You know, everybody was gathering watching TV. And now everybody's back to doing business. So, I guess that's a good sign, too.
PHILLIPS: Well, speaking about business, Dave's family trading since 1860.
LISOVICZ: Isn't that something?
PHILLIPS: Yes, that's pretty amazing.
LISOVICZ: And when you think about how precarious this business is, to say that his family's been here on Wall Street since then, is kind of a headline in and of itself.
PHILLIPS: Well, I guess that's good news. That means that we're going to keep thriving and keep surviving, right?
LISOVICZ: Yes. If we go by Dave's family, we'll all have -- we're also going to have a very long job history, right?
HENDERSON: Yes. Hopefully.
PHILLIPS: Yes. Lots of shots of whiskey. All right, let me ask you.
So how soon does this mean, Susan, obviously the president has to sign off on this measure. But, if indeed that does happen, how soon can the Treasury Department actually start buying all that bad debt, and from various lending institutions that obviously have hosed a lot of homeowners and a lot of people, you know, honest taxpayers?
LISOVICZ: Well, I mean, I thin if it were up to Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to buy, I'm going to let you weigh in this. Kyra's asking, how soon can the Treasury start buying these distressed assets, these toxic assets?
HENDERSON: Good question. I mean, that's part of the unknown right for the moment. I think, you know, they're going to go to work on it right away. And probably, something's not going to happen. So, probably again, like the end of the month. They start figuring out how they're going to price these things and whether it's going to be a reverse auction or whatever you might want to call it. I'm not quite sure.
LISOVICZ: ... the price for the assets, no one wants them.
HENDERSON: Yes. Well, what's also been going on is all the firms have been getting merged into one another and/or going out of business and what have you. Any of the strong ones are going to prevail. And they're going to have a much better handle on you know, -- they only have to go to three big banks to figure where everything all is. They're going to be able to do it a lot quicker and in a lot cleaner fashion.
LISOVICZ: Well, certainly one would hope it will be done quickly, but, you know, I think that --
HENDERSON: It's going to take a while.
LISOVICZ: I think that the urgency with the Treasury Secretary Paulson, the way he's been trying to you know, cheerlead this process. So, I think he wants to start the process right away, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Yes we will be monitoring Susan. Thank you so much.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi stepping up to the mics now. Obviously surrounded by all the House leaders. Let's go ahead and take a listen to what they have to say. Obviously, this will be quite different from the last news conference where everybody was extremely disappointed.
Let's hear what they have to say now.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
PELOSI: ... Good afternoon. Thank you all for being here. As we observe the passage of a very serious piece of legislation, we must do so with an eye to the future.
We're faced with a situation that has terrible ramifications for everyone on Main Street, by all the attention with on Wall Street. We want to turn that attention and that was our intent in the legislation. Under the leader of our chairman Barney Frank, as I called him on the floor, a maestro, we were able to make improvements, working in a bipartisan way to make improvements in the legislation and then make more improvements to the legislation before it came back to the floor today.
But our eye now is to the future, to shine the bright light of accountability on what is happening in our financial markets so that it doesn't happen again. That accountability will tell us how we got to this place and ferret out the abuses. That accountability will honor our trust to the American people. Mr. Frank will be holding hearings on where we go from here, because we are about the future. Mr. Waxman will be telling -- his hearings will be instructive as to how we got here so that we know how to avoid this in the future.
It will be about accountability. It will be about regulatory reform which is essential. And it will be about building an economic with a focus on the middle class, where many more Americans will participate in the economic security of Americans, of our country. And that where high-fliers on Wall Street will no longer be able to jeopardize that personal economic security of Americans. Again, because of the bright light of scrutiny accountability. And the attention given under regulatory reform.
We are all believers in the free market. It's part of our democracy. We know that the free markets create jobs, create capital, create wealth. That's very important. But recently, left unregulated and undisciplined and unsupervised, they created chaos. That was then. This is now. We're about the future. And that is where the direction we want to take our policy. We want to take our country in a new direction for the middle class.
I want to now yield to our -- so many of our -- part of our leadership were a part of this success of this legislation today. And I don't say that we celebrate it. Because I frankly think that we could have had a much better bill under different circumstances. But these are not the circumstances we under. We were dealt a bad hand, we made the most of it. I think the American people will benefit from it. As so many people -- we decided in the course of this week that we needed to bring the bill up, that it was urgent that it pass and that we could no longer -- we had to depend on ourselves to get it passed.
Fortunately, we had a strong bipartisan vote. But we knew we'd be strong enough to pass the bill today, because of the work of Steny Hoyer and Jim Kilver (ph) and Rahm Emanuel and our other members of the leadership. I'm now pleased to lead to a person who worked very hard on this, great leadership, Steny Hoyer.
HOYER: Thank you very much, Madame Speaker. I want to congratulate you and all of us owe a debt of gratitude to Barney Frank. Barney Frank brought and extraordinary intellect, a understanding of the challenges that confronted our country. Understanding of the markets to respond in the administration's proposal.
He made that proposal much better working with all of us and working with Spencer Bachus and across the aisle. That legislation has now passed. It was just a few days ago that we had a press conference here after we failed to get the majority votes for the bill that has now passed. Not exactly the same bill. And we said that failure was not an option. That the American public expected us to act and to respond and to ensure to the extent we could that we stop the downward spiral of our economy and restore credit to our markets. I'm pleased that the House passed this essential economic recovery legislation.
Now the federal government can begin taking strong action to restore the flow of credit to business and families. I hope that today's action will stave off the worst case of a total freeze in lending which could have devastating consequences for jobs, consumer credit and foreclosure. The process of compromise may look messy but it's clear that after input from both parties and both chambers we significantly improved the president's original proposal.
Someone used a good analogy the other day -- right now, he said, our economy is like a heart attack victim. We've just performed emergency surgery, but unless the patient starts eating right and exercising, the problem's coming right back. So now that we've dealt with the immediate emergency, it's time to bring our economy back to full health.
That means fiscal responsibility. The Bush administration has piled up record deficits and borrowed more from foreign lenders than the first 42 administrations put together. That fiscal irresponsibility has created a crisis of confidence in our financial system and set a terrible example for businesses and consumers. We intend to end it and start living within our means.
Getting back to health means accountability. I'm proud that this Congress passed the most sweeping ethics (ph) reform since Watergate to help ensure that government does the people's business, not the special interests' bidding.
We tend to look to Barney Frank, to Henry Waxman, to Collin Peterson, to and others, to, as we go forward next month -- this month, excuse me -- and look at what happened, why it happened, and what we could do to make sure it doesn't happen again, and strengthen our economy for all of our people.
Madam Speaker, in the final analysis the reason this bill passed was because of your indefatigable attention to all the members, to the objectives that we sought and brought our caucus together as you worked across the aisle with Mr. Boehner to make sure that we responded to the crisis that confronts our economy. I'd now like to yield to my friend and the majority whip, whose work was largely responsible for the significant vote that we received today, Jim Clyburn of South Carolina.
REP. JIM CLYBURN (D), MAJORITY WHIP: Thank you very much, Leader Hoyer.
Today, with a very strong bipartisan vote, I am hopeful that we have done two things. Number one, I am hopeful that we have restored -- gone a long way toward restoring confidence in our markets.
But number two, I am hopeful that we have restored credibility and confidence in our body politic. We came together in a very strong bipartisan way to deliver this decisive victory for the American people.
As I said before, this bill was presented to us under a misnomer. Bailout is not -- an inaccurate way to describe this package. With the improvements made by Speaker Pelosi, Barney Frank, Leader Hoyer, Chairman Emanuel and -- I'll get to him in a moment -- John Larson, Chris Van Hollen and the consultation with our national leader, Barack Obama, I think that we have come up with an incredible piece of legislation that addresses not just Wall Street but Broad Street, where all the automobile dealers are located in my hometown, Walker Street, where I grew up, Liberty Street, where the beauty and barber shops are.
We have added very strong language that helps these facilities, these entities, and these people. But we have also put limits on golden parachutes and we have strong foreclosure mitigation, as well as property tax relief -- that I'm very pleased to take credit from Rahm Emanuel for having argued for in this legislation -- taxpayer protection and a guarantee that taxpayers will not be left on the hook. We're hopeful that this legislation will help businesses that are beginning to have trouble getting a line of credit to make payroll.
I have received phone calls from state employees, city employees, county employees, who are now telling me that they have seen their 401(k)s lose 40 percent of its value. And so this legislation -- I'm very proud of. It is an exclamation mark on what I think has been a very successful Congress, a very successful trip as we move our country in a new direction. And so I am pleased to be here today and to thank these outstanding Americans, and to yield now to Chairman Frank, who -- I'm sorry -- to Chairman Emanuel. Thank you so much --
REP. RAHM EMANUEL, DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS CHAIRMAN: Had you done Barney, I'm sure it would have been a bigger windup.
This is -- this is one piece of an economic puzzle. We did what we needed to do to bring calm to the markets. But make no mistake about it, the middle class in this country is working harder, earning less, and paying more. In the last seven years, median household income has gone down $1,200. Cost for education, health care and energy has gone up a collective $4,800. Under the economic programs of the last seven years, the middle class, in no uncertain terms, is struggling and being squeezed. And while we have done what we needed to do to deal with the liquidity in the financial market, the next step is -- I'm sure you'll hear from Chairman Frank -- is about dealing with the regulatory oversight that must be brought to the financial markets because our regulations are not in step with what's happening, but neither is our economic policy in step with what is happening to the middle class today.
We must have an economic agenda that provides the middle class a tax cut, the ability to have universal higher -- access to higher education, that if you work you have health care, and if you work you have a retirement plan. That is an agenda that puts the middle class at the center of our economic program. Because after the last seven years, make no mistake about it, yes, you are seeing the financial crisis, but it's because the economy has been built on a weak foundation that has squeezed the middle class. And these policies must be changed.
And while we all have done and contributed to this part in helping pass this legislation, I want to take a particular moment to also thank the individual who's not here, and that is Barack Obama, who made numerous calls not only to all of us, but to members of our caucus and helped us gather the votes on the Democratic side to pass this legislation.
So, again, we've done one thing and we've done one thing, an important thing, and that is bringing both liquidity and calm to the financial markets. The next steps must be to bring that same sense of calm and ease, financial ease, to the middle class. And that's starts by putting them at center of our economic agenda.
With that, I turn to my colleague and friend, John Larson.
REP. JOHN LARSON, DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS VICE CHMN.: Let me commend Speaker Pelosi for outstanding leadership, our entire leadership team, for the effort that was put forward. We have, in essence, stopped the bleeding that was going on, and did it under the leadership of Barney Frank in a thoughtful and intelligent manner that has, in the short term, rescued our economy.
I've held town hall meetings and forums when I got home. I heard from a lady named (AUDIO GAP) Donna Donovan (ph). And she said, Mr. Larson, we heard what you were saying in your efforts to rescue Main Street. I'm more interested in the message that Mr. Obama is talking about, in terms of rescuing those of us on the side streets, those that continue to suffer, as Mr. Emanuel said, under this economic squeeze. She was a business owner whose business went under, who had to get a part-time job who now doesn't have any health care benefits and finds herself in this situation. That's the new direction that Democrats are going to set under the leadership of Barack Obama. That's where we need to go.
We're grateful that we were able to come together, in a bipartisan fashion, to solve a temporary issue. Now we must move on to the greater issue at large, the faces of the American public.
And with that, I'll turn it over to Chris Van Hollen.
REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: I thank my colleagues.
We gather here at a very important time in our nation's history and take this action. The American economy is extremely weak. And because of the credit crunch in the financial markets, we faced an extreme danger that we would go from weak to dropping off a precipice. That is why the possibility of doing nothing was not really an option for the American people who are hurting out there.
We just saw from today's job report another 159,000 Americans lost their jobs. That means more than 759,000 Americans have lost their jobs since January. What we have done today, we hope, is to stop the fall. What we need to do now is to help in the recovery under the speaker's leadership and a plan set forth by Barack Obama. We have a plan for economic recovery. Unfortunately, the president has said he would not support that, but that is --
PHILLIPS: Well it's happened -- Congress has passed historic legislation to bail out the troubled financial industry. You're watching a live news conference right now with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House leaders there, just talking about that tremendous fight that it took for politicians on both sides to finally reach a deal. Gerri Willis, CNN personal finance editor, has been monitoring e-mails from our viewers, of course, listening to all the politics.
People want to know -- how is it going to affect the pocketbook, bottom line, what does it mean for you and me, struggling, all of those out there struggling, to fill up their gas tank to pay their mortgage, dealing with the foreclosure? It's good news for a lot of those people.
GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Well, it is good news for a lot of those people, but they don't agree with that estimation.
Let me tell you, Wall Street may be happy with this plan but Main Street is on fire about it. In 30 minutes after we made the solicitation for e-mails on issue1@CNN.com, we got 500 e-mails. That many, and most of them negative. Let me give you a sampling.
Here is one we got just moments ago: "Bailout, heck no, we are being soldout." That is from Linda.
The subject lines on these e-mails -- they tell the story: "Jail not bail." "Stop the rescue." "No, no, no don't bailout."
Let me read a couple of them to you, Kyra. One of them we received earlier this morning: "Our people and system are in big trouble and no matter how much lipstick you put on this pig, it is still a pig."
Another one: "This is not capitalism, it's a dictatorship. Time for a revolution. How dare you take the common man's pay for the gross greed and negligence of the Wall Street financiers. Let them suffer it out."
And another e-mail from another viewer: "I have spent this week watching my IRA investments decline and have been on the brink of despair. The entities who caused this problem have long since made their fortunes and gone on the merry ways without consequence. It's time for Congress to save regular Americans."
And Kyra, I've got to tell you, a lot of the solutions that people are suggesting, sending in to us, have a lot to do with taking that $700 billion and giving back to regular Americans.
Here is another e-mail: "Instead of sending more money to failed predatory lenders and irresponsibly-managed companies, why not take $700 billion and pay down the mortgages of all current mortgage holders."
Gives you an idea of exactly what we're seeing out there. People don't like this bill.
PHILLIPS: Gerri, stay with me just to welcome our international viewers now. It is almost 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Now we're waiting for the president of the United States to step up to the mics to see if indeed he is going to sign the bill, the legislation, historic legislation, that has passed. Congress has passed it.
What will that bill do? Well, the hope is to bail out the troubled financial industry here in the United States. You've seen it here, you've seen it across the world -- the failure of so many banks and the takedown of so many high-paid CEOs. What does this bill mean? Well hopefully it means more of an investigation into the corruption of Wall Street that is already existing. The FBI looking into that, all of the way down to the taxpayer wondering if indeed he or she can get a loan and pay those bills, keep their home and be able to fill up the gas tank.
It has been tough, especially the middle-class. And you heard Democrats come to the mics and say, look, this is what it is all about. It is about accountability, it's about oversight, it's about taking the power and money away from those high fliers, as Nancy Pelosi said, on Wall Street, bringing it all back to the middle-class, a middle-class that has been suffering.
Gerri Willis, as we wait for the president to step up to the mic and see if indeed he will sign this bill before the end of the day here on Friday, put it into perspective for us -- you've been getting a lot of happy mail and hate mail as well, and I think a lot of the frustration comes from taxpayers that are wondering how soon will this go into action and how soon will they be able to see the money coming back in, the lending institutions allowing them to have more credit, and, you know, when will they be able to pay those bills that they haven't been able to pay for months.
WILLIS: Well look, Kyra, I think a lot of the frustration is just the price tag on this thing and the fact that Congress actually put in a lot of pork, a lot of spending programs, $150 billion in tax cuts -- I think people were really upset about that as well. Just lots of frustration with the fact that this problem wasn't caught early and stopped. Lots of frustration there. And people feel like they are watching their retirement go down and down and down, and of course, that is deeply frustrating to Americans.
PHILLIPS: That is interesting you bring up the pork. We were actually talking about this this morning, looking at the tax credit and the breaks that go to these narrowly-focused groups. For example, the motor sports racetrack owners, the film producers, the bicycle commuters, the bow and arrow companies that make -- you know maybe you can -- there is a lot of frustration coming from there, but at the same time politicians are saying, look, it is about the small business owners. We have to make our constituents happy, we've got have some sort of break for these folks because small business is what makes America America.
WILLIS: Well, let's talk about a little bit if this bill had not gone through. Let's face it, the credit markets were seizing up. You heard from the governor of California asking the Treasury if they could bail them out, that they were starting to have a credit crisis as well. The problems were widespread, being felt by businesses, small governments, colleges, universities who were being turned down for money. This would have seized up the economy in a way I think it's difficult for people to really imagine, because they have never seen it in their lives.
PHILLIPS: All right. And I am just getting a statement here. Ben Bernanke coming forward -- looking -- I am reading it right off my e-mail so forgive me for how slow I am here. Ben Bernanke right now releasing a statement, Gerri. "I applaud the action taken by the Congress. It demonstrates the government's commitment to do what it takes to support and strengthen our economy. The legislation is a critical step toward stabilizing our financial markets and ensuring an uninterrupted flow of credit to households and businesses. The Federal Reserve will continue to work closely with the Treasury as it undertakes these new initiatives. We will continue to use all of the powers at our disposal to mitigate credit market disruptions and to foster a strong vibrant economy."
Of course the question is now -- Ben Bernanke pointing out -- the point that they're going to do everything that they can to help make life a little bit easier for all taxpayers -- the question is when would this measure allow the Treasury Department to actually buy up the bad debt from various lending institutions that have put taxpayers in such a bad position, causing them to lose their homes, have bad credit, not be able to pay those bills?
Gerri Willis, stay with us. I want to get to Kathleen Koch. She is at the White House.
Any minute now we are expected to see the president of the United States step up to the mic. Talk about, probably, what -- more than likely -- he's going to step up and talk about what a success this is for him. He's the one that pushed hard for this, and wanted this bailout package to pass. And now the question is -- will he sign it, Kathleen, this afternoon and get things moving?
KOCH: Yes, Kyra, we are told by a senior administration official that up on Capitol Hill, basically, they had done all of the behind the scenes preparations to send this bill immediately here to the White House. Yet, this afternoon now the president is due to leave on a three-day trip out of town this afternoon at 3:15. So indeed, the plan for the White House is for the president to wait until the legislation arrives here at the White House, and then he plans to sign it.
But you know, while they are pleased that this bill passed, Kyra, they are not popping champagne here at the White House because it was almost two weeks ago -- and I was here with the president in the Rose Garden -- when he made the remarks -- he is a market guy -- he said this ran completely against his instincts to go ahead, to push through a massive rescue plan like this. But he said at the time, and he has said it many times since then, he felt that this -- that the risk to the economy if we did nothing was greater than the risk of passing this measure -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right. Kathleen Koch there at the White House.
If you are just tuning in, we of course want to welcome our international viewers. It is almost the top of the hour, almost 2:00 Eastern time. You are looking at live shots there from the White House where our Kathleen Koch is standing by. The president of the United States is expected to step up to the mics any minute now. We'll listen to him live.
As you know, Congress has passed an historic piece of legislation to try and bail out the troubled financial industry. We heard from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, stepping up to the mic saying, still a long way to go, that this is good news, obviously, for the middle- class taxpayer, hopefully it will mean new jobs, hopefully it will mean better credit and helping those that have been struggling to pay those bills and get through day by day -- just get their heads above water.
So many details, obviously, to the $700 billion bailout plan. We encourage you to go to CNN.com, look at the details of that bailout plan. But it means everything from tax breaks for the small business owner (AUDIO GAP) and the high flyer CEOs, as Nancy Pelosi refers to them, as holding them accountable, putting more pressure on the SEC Chairman, Chris Cox, also others involved with keeping an eye on the ethical procedures there on Wall Street, hoping that this will -- that the U.S. economy will not get into a position like this. We saw it in the 80s, now we saw it decades later in 2008.