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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Majority Leader Nevada Democratic Senator Harry Reid Addresses Media Along With Senators Dick Durbin and Charles Schumer; President Obama Addresses the Nation on Debt Deal; Minority Leader California Democratic Representative Nancy Pelosi Delivers Remarks; White House Briefing With Press Secretary Jay Carney
Aired August 2, 2011 - 12:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Let me just reset for our viewers.
We're getting to the top of the hour here, 1:00 p.m. here in Washington, D.C., 1:00 p.m. Eastern. We're here in the CNN NEWSROOM and we're watching what's going on in the Rose Garden at the White House.
Momentarily, we're told the president of the United States will go into the Rose Garden and he will -- he will address the nation on the Senate's movement just a little while ago to pass the legislation raising the debt ceiling.
Harry Reid, the majority leader, is meeting with reporters.
Let's listen in as we await the president.
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SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: -- things we had to give up, but that's the way it is.
It's that way because that's how our system works. That's what compromise is all about.
It was a bipartisan compromise. It wasn't the right wing Cap, Cut and whatever it is over there. It -- that was -- that was not bipartisan. It's nothing that we could agree to, a short-term -- it was really a disaster for America.
This agreement cuts the deficit by a trillion dollars and it lays the groundwork for much more in the near future. We look forward to the work on the committee to make sure that millionaires and billionaires and corporate jet owners and people who have that yachts who get tax benefits, oil companies who get these huge tax subsidies -- that that's in the mix of thinking what goes on. That's what this select committee is going to be about.
We need to do more for families. The number one job that we have as a Congress must be creating jobs for the American people.
We -- there are a number of things we're going to do -- Senator Schumer is going to address that in a few minutes -- as to a jobs agenda that we have.
Today we made sure that America will pay its bills. Now it's time to make sure that all Americans can pay theirs.
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: With this vote of 74-26 we have averted a crisis. America has avoided defaulting for the first time in our history on our national debt. The fears and concerns of Americans across the board were considered by this Congress and as a result we've come together on a bipartisan basis.
I did not vote for this with a great deal of enthusiasm because the down payment on the deficit included in this bill comes primarily from working families and those who are struggling in America.
If we are going to have true deficit reduction and address this debt, we have to put everything on the table and bring everyone to the table for shared sacrifice.
The joint committee has a particular responsibility here, called on to gather another $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion in savings.
Let us make sure that when we do it, we do it in a fair and just manner for all the people in America.
And when we return, as Senator Schumer will spell out, that we address the number one in America: creating good-paying jobs right here at home for the people who are struggling in this economy.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Well, now Washington, the nation, the world can breathe a sigh of relief. The horrible crisis that would have occurred if we defaulted, the likelihood of a recession if we defaulted, has been averted.
But we have a lot more work to do -- a lot more work to do.
The bill which had things, as Leader Reid and Leader Durbin mentioned -- had a lot of things we didn't like. It had some things we liked --
BLITZER: All right, so there's Chuck Schumer, the Democratic senator from New York together with the other Democratic leaders in the United States Senate. They are very pleased the Senate has just followed the lead of the House of Representatives and passed this legislation, raising the nation's debt ceiling to vote, a resounding 74 in favor, 26 opposed. The legislation having passed the Senate, having passed the House, it will now go to the president's desk. He will later today sign it into law. The nation's debt ceiling will go up.
They've set the stage for some initial cuts in spending and much more robust cuts down the road, including the creation of this super committee, 12 members of the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans in equal number, both parties will then come up with a plan - to see if they can come up with a plan to have entitlement reform which, in effect, means cuts in spending for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as well as tax reform which, in effect, means tax increases - increases in taxes.
We'll see if they can work out some sort of deal on that, that the House and Senate would once again by Thanksgiving have to vote on, the president would have to sign. If they don't, there will be an automatic trigger that will go into effect and they'll cut spending on defense spending, non-defense spending, and we'll hear from that.
The president, we're told, is less than two minutes away now from walking out of his office, the Oval Office, into the Rose Garden, where he will speak to the nation, and I like to say indeed to the entire world, which is watching right now.
Gloria, it's a little surprising, I guess to a lot of viewers, that even as the House and the Senate have now passed this long- awaited legislation, the markets in New York are not thrilled.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I think what Allison was saying before is that essentially they had already banked on this deal getting through.
BLITZER: With this --
BORGER: Exactly. And that there's been bad economic news and that the second quarter growth rate was terrible and I think they're paying a lot more attention to that now than they are to this vote on the debt ceiling which they thought was going to pass all along. There are some of us in Washington who had our doubts about it, but it seems as if they've discounted it.
BLITZER: It's always interesting to me, John, and I don't know if it is to you as well, as a former White House correspondent, the venue, the selection, why the Rose Garden today as opposed to the East Room or the Briefing Room or the Diplomatic Reception Room or some foyer over at the White House. It's a - I guess it's a beautiful day, sunny, and they just decided make it different.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The optics, they look - it looks more bright, it looks more sunny. You're exactly right, it looks more celebratory, and the president wants to have an upbeat spirit here. He is trying because the tools at his disposal, any president's disposal, are limited when it comes to fixing the economy. He's trying in some ways to help will it to get a little better.
BLITZER: All right, here he comes, the President of the United States.
Let's listen in and hear what he has to say.
(BEGIN COVERAGE) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good afternoon, everybody. Congress has now approved a compromise to reduce the deficit and avert a default that would have devastated our economy.
It was a long and contentious debate, and I want to thank the American people for keeping up the pressure on their elected officials to put politics aside and work together for the good of the country.
And this compromise guarantees more than $2 trillion in deficit reduction. It's an important first step to ensuring that, as a nation, we live within our means. Yet it also allows us to keep making key investments in things like education and research that lead to new jobs and assures that we're not cutting too abruptly while the economy is still fragile.
This is, however, just the first step. This compromise requires that both parties work together on a larger plan to cut the deficit, which is important for the long-term health of our economy.
And since you can't close the deficit with just spending cuts, we'll need a balanced approach where everything's on the table. Yes, that means making some adjustments to protect health care programs like Medicare so they're there for future generations. It also means reforming our tax code so that the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations pay their fair share.
And it means getting rid of taxpayer subsidies to oil and gas companies and tax loopholes that help billionaires pay a lower tax rate than teachers and nurses.
I've said it before, I will say it again: We can't balance the budget on the backs of the very people who have borne the biggest brunt of this recession. We can't make it tougher for young people to go to college or ask seniors to pay more for health care or ask scientists to give up on promising medical research because we couldn't close a tax shelter for the most fortunate among us.
Everyone's going to have to chip in. That's only fair. That's the principle I'll be fighting for during the next phase of this process.
And in the coming months I'll continue also to fight for what the American people care most about: new jobs, higher wages, and faster economic growth.
While Washington has been absorbed in this debate about deficits, people across the country are asking, what can we do to help the father looking for work? What are we going to do for the single mom who's seen her hours cut back at the hospital? What are we going to do to make it easier for businesses to put up that "now hiring" sign?
That's part of the reason that people are so frustrated with what's been going on in this town. In the last few months the economy has already had to absorb an earthquake in Japan, the economic headwinds coming from Europe, the Arab spring and the (inaudible) in oil prices, all of which have been very challenging for the recovery.
But these are things we couldn't control.
Our economy didn't need Washington to come along with a manufactured crisis to make things worse. That was in our hands.
It's pretty likely that the uncertainty surrounding the raising of the debt ceiling for both businesses and consumers has been unsettling and just one more impediment to the full recovery that we need.
And it was something that we could have avoided entirely.
So voters may have chosen divided government, but they sure didn't vote for dysfunctional government. They want us to solve problems. They want us to get this economy growing and adding jobs.
And while deficit reduction is part of that agenda, it is not the whole agenda. Growing the economy isn't just about cutting spending; it's not about rolling back regulations that protect our air and our water and keep our people safe. That's not how we're going to get past this recession.
We're going to have to do more than that. And that's why when Congress gets back from recess, I will urge them to immediately take some steps, bipartisan, common sense steps, that will make a difference.
It will create a climate where businesses can hire, where folks have more money in their pockets to spend, where people who are out of work can find good jobs.
We need to begin by extending tax cuts for middle class families so you have more money in your paychecks next year. If you've got more money in your paycheck, you're more likely to spend it, and that means small businesses and medium-size businesses and large businesses will all have more customers. That means they'll be in a better position to hire.
And while we're at it, we need to make sure that millions of workers who are still pounding the pavement looking for jobs to support their families are not denied needed unemployment benefits.
Through patent reform, we can cut the red tape that stops too many inventors and entrepreneurs from quickly turning new ideas into thriving businesses, which holds our whole economy back. And I want Congress to pass a set of trade deals, deals we've already negotiated that would help displaced workers looking for new jobs and would allow our businesses to sell more products in countries in Asia and South America, products that are stamped with the words "made in America."
We also need to give more opportunities for all those construction workers out there who lost their jobs when the housing boom went bust. We could put them to work right now by giving loans to private companies that want to repair our roads and our bridges and our airports, rebuilding our infrastructure.
We have workers who need jobs and a country that needs rebuilding. An infrastructure bank would help us put them together.
And while we're on the topic of infrastructure, there's another stalemate in Congress right now involving our aviation industry, which has stalled airport construction projects all around the country and put the jobs of tens of thousands of construction workers and others at risk because of politics.
It's another Washington-inflicted wound on America and Congress needs to break that impasse now, hopefully before the Senate adjourns, so these folks can get back to work. So these are some of the things that we could be doing right now. There's no reason for Congress not to send me those bills so I can sign them into law right away, as soon as they get back from recess.
Both parties share power in Washington and both parties need to take responsibility for improving this economy. It's not a Democratic responsibility or a Republican responsibility. It is our collective responsibility as Americans.
And I'll be discussing additional ideas in the weeks ahead to help companies hire, invest and expand.
So we've seen in the past few days that Washington has the ability to focus when there's a timer ticking down and when there's a looming disaster. It shouldn't take the risk of default, the risk of economic catastrophe, to get folks in this town to work together and do their jobs.
Because there's already a quiet crisis going on in the lives of a lot of families in a lot of communities all across the country. They're looking for work and they have been for a while. Or they're making do with fewer hours or fewer customers, or they're just trying to make ends meet.
That ought to compel Washington to cooperate. That ought to compel Washington to compromise and it ought to compel Washington to act. That ought to be enough to get all of us in this town to do the jobs we were sent here to do.
We've got to do everything in our power to grow this economy and put America back to work. That what's I intend to do, and I'm looking forward to working with Congress to make it happen.
Thanks very much, everybody.
BLITZER: All right. So, the president of the United States speaking not all that long, speaking in the Rose Garden, making the case that yes, the legislation has passed, he will sign it into law later today raising the nation's debt ceiling. Passed the Senate just a little while ago, passed the House of Representatives last night. But now it's time to move on, now it's time to deal with the economic crisis facing the country, now it's time to start creating jobs. And he listed at least six or seven points that he thinks will help start create some jobs, some specific points he wants Congress to enact. Unfortunately, at least in the next month or so, five weeks, Congress is going to be in recess so they're not going to be enacting anything over the next five or six weeks until early September. But the president's got a long agenda and everyone is looking forward to this super committee that's about to be created as well that will deal with some of the long-term spending problems, the deficit-related problems.
Is Jessica Yellin -- Jessica, you're still over there in the Rose Garden. Let's get your thoughts on what we just heard from the president.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you heard him emphasize jobs and the growth agenda ahead, but there is a phrase he used that I think we are going to hear a lot coming up. He said Americans, voters chose divided government, not dysfunctional government. And if we continue to face the kind of gridlock we've seen in Washington, and if this super committee deadlocks or if there's a major fight, I think that's the kind of phrase you will hear from this White House often, that there is this concern that this kind of fighting that they're seeing in Washington and that Americans are seeing is not representative of what they believe and they will argue voters truly chose in the 2010 election.
Obviously, the other party has a different view of things, but that is the kind of case this president and this White House continues to make, that by electing on the Tea Party movement, but more broadly a movement to bring down the size of government, Americans wanted a balance, not a kind of clash that leads to an inability to move forward. So I think you'll hear that language a lot, Wolf.
BLITZER: Some of the points that the president made, Jessica, he wants legislative action quickly on -- in the middle class tax cuts, the payroll tax cut, keeping that in business for middle class, at least for another year. Get some more money into the economy. Increase unemployment benefits. A new patent reform program that would supposedly create some jobs.
There are, what, three international trade deals that have to be ratified by Congress. Still haven't been ratified. He's anxious for that. He thinks that will create some jobs, create some opportunities for increased U.S. exports. An infrastructure bank that's going to deal with repairing bridges and highways across the country.
And one of the most outrageous things is Congress is going into recess now and the FAA is, what, out of business for all practical purposes, because Congress hasn't enacted the legislation that continues the appropriation, in effect, for the FAA. What is that all about?
YELLIN: Well, you heard him give a little nudge to the Senate to get that done before they leave town. And you've heard from Capitol Hill that they haven't -- from our Capitol Hill unit, they have not made a deal on that just yet.
In essence, because of political gridlock, once again, in Capitol Hill -- in Capitol Hill on the Senate side right now, there are people twiddling their thumbs waiting for Congress to change some rules and regulations before they can keep moving forward in their jobs. I don't want to get into the technical-ese, but, Wolf, it speaks to a larger problem that this White House faces, which is, with divided government, the question over the next year and a half is, how much can they get done to create jobs on Capitol Hill.
And this White House has resisted doing the kinds of things we saw Bill Clinton do as president. You know, midnight basketball, small incremental little programs that the executive branch could get done, but didn't create huge, sweeping changes. The question is, will they have to rethink that? Are there steps they can take over the next year that they can just do as the executive branch, as president, that can make incremental differences to create jobs and make people and voters feel that they're doing something from their perch to make a difference in this economy. We'll see.
BLITZER: All right, jobs, jobs, jobs, priority number one.
Jessica, thanks very much.
I want to go to Capitol Hill. Kate Bolduan, our congressional correspondent, is standing by up on Capitol Hill.
The House has gone into recess until early in September. The Senate expected to do the same thing pretty soon, Kate?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right. And when they return, I'll tell you, and you can -- we are hearing it on the Senate floor this morning and we heard it a little bit from the president, you can really see where, in terms of this battle, this debate over deficit reduction, where the focus is going to shift. It will very quickly shift to this special committee. This committee of 12 that will be -- these are 12 congressional members of Congress that will be picked by party leaders and they will be equally divided on this committee. And they will be charged with really tackling the tough stuff. Taking on entitlement reform and tax reform and really working towards more than $1 trillion in further deficit reduction that they'll need to report back to Congress by Thanksgiving. That might seem a far ways away now, but those -- they're going to be tackling very meaty and controversial issues. Some are -- some question if they can really get it done in time.
And where the immediate focus is going to shift very quickly, Wolf, is the makeup of this committee. Not just what they're going to have to tackle, but who is actually going to be on the committee.
BOLDUAN: There's going -- there's some -- yes, Wolf?
BLITZER: Yes, hold on a second because Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House, is speaking right now. I want to hear what she has to say.
(BEGIN COVERAGE) REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: How many days it has been since the Republicans have been in office. Well, today it's 210 and we haven't seen any legislation yet that has created jobs. In fact, we've seen legislation which has cost nearly two million jobs. More than 9,000 jobs a day would be lost if the Republicans' legislation were signed into law.
We see, in addition to that, a holdup on the infrastructure bill and on FAA, which we're hoping will be resolved today. We'll be hearing more about that from my colleagues.
Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. You cannot say it enough. I really liked what Willie Nelson said, or at least he was quoted as saying, American people are more concerned about a ceiling over their heads than raising the debt ceiling. We know we need to do both.
I was very pleased to hear the president pivot to jobs and to talk about infrastructure, to talk about how we create jobs to meet the needs of the American people. Some of his suggestions have very strong support in our caucus, whether it's infrastructure, rebuilding our country, whether it is make it in America. He said made in America, Steny.
REP. STENY HOYER (D), MINORITY WHIP: Yes.
PELOSI: And Mr. Hoyer will be talking to us about make it in America and when he talked about the FAA bill, which we'll talk more about now.
So, again, everybody's been intensely involved in this discussion on debt. The American people's top priority is the creation of jobs. We have crossed the bridge from that important discussion. Interesting that it was something that the Republicans did not have the votes to pass. I'm proud of my members that they took the step to pull us from the brink of default, even though they did not -- we're not happy about the legislation. But what was good about it was, it's over and now it's time to talk about jobs. And the person who has been a leader in beating the drum for make it in America, he'll tell you more about it. Our distinguished whip, Mr. Hoyer.
HOYER: Thank you very much, Madam Leader.
Let me suggest at the outset that talking about jobs is talking about the debt. The only way we're going to successfully deal with debt is to create jobs --
BLITZER: All right. That's Steny Hoyer. He's the number two Democrat in the House of Representatives. They're wrapping up their session. They're about to go into recess. Actually, they did last night, go into recess until early September in the House. The Senate, I suspect, is going to be doing the same thing fairly soon.
Let's assess what we've just heard, because the Senate has passed 74-26 the legislation raising the nation's debt ceiling. The House did it overwhelmingly last night as well. Now the president has spoken, he's looking ahead to jobs, jobs, jobs. The economy, the economic recovery, what he wants to see happen in the immediate days and weeks and months ahead. He's got a full agenda ahead of him.
Gloria Borger is here. John King is here. We've got all of our reporters standing by. Richard Quest is standing by as well. Let me bring in Richard first. He's flown over from London. He's here in Washington, out on the National Mall.
Richard, give us a little outsider's perspective on what's going on, but focus specifically on the fact, you know what, there hasn't been a big bump in the stock markets today. In fact, the Dow Jones is going down.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: The Dow Jones is going down because of worries about the wider economy. Those manufacturing numbers and what's happening. The slower growth that will come perhaps as a result of this debt agreement. That's one of the reasons.
One bit of cheerful news to bring you. Fitch ratings agency, one of the big three, as you may have reported, does say, and this is one encouraging point, it confirms the U.S.'s AAA rating. So for the time being, at least, it says that the debt agreement will confirm the AAA rating on the United States debt. We'll now wait for Moody's and S&P to chime in with theirs.
And one other thing to note, Wolf. You want to know why the Dow is down? That super -- one of the reasons, that super committee. It promises between now and November to be the fighting ground, as the president just said, for all those issues that didn't get solved in this particular debate.
BLITZER: So at least the good news, one of those three agencies now announcing, as you just reported, they're not going to downgrade the United States. S&P, Standard & Poor's, Richard, Moody's, we're going to have to wait awhile to see what they do. A lot of people assume at some point they might, but it's by no means a done deal.
QUEST: Absolutely not. They will probably hold on their hands, this is a very good deal for the starting process of cutting the U.S. deficit, but they're going to look three, six, five years out and say, what is the deficit likely to be and how is the U.S. trying to deal with it. I expect Moody's and S&P will wait before they would make any major decisions. Certainly not after a massive arrangement deal like this.
BLITZER: I know you were impressed, Richard, with the way the House of Representatives voted on this yesterday. What did you think of the way the Senate operated today? Give me your outsider's perspective.
QUEST: The Senate is always so genteel about the way they do these things. The House, a lot more rambunctious. It is so similar in many ways to the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Lots of (INAUDIBLE) gentlemen, with the noble lord from the upper chamber, and a good old fist fight from the other lot. BLITZER: Good point. All right, Richard -- Richard's going to be joining us later today in "The Situation Room" as well.
Gloria is here. John is here.
I love the fact that the Senate is the House of Lords, the House of Representatives is the House of Commons. Is that a pretty good analogy?
KING: If only we would have question time and the president had to go in. Democrat or Republican, I think it would be good for our process. Although I think the last couple of weeks were messy enough. Let's leave it there.
Richard makes an important point about going forward. We'll see what the ratings agencies do. A lot of that will depend on whether they see Washington behaving. And the president tried to make the case, and this is going to be fascinating to watch, because, as you know, the CEOs, a lot of them say, well, we're waiting to see what the tax climate is going to be like before we start hiring people. Well, that is in that super committee now. So, will they have the excuse or the legitimate reason, you make the call at home, to wait another five or six months as that process plays out?
The president's going to fight now for the payroll tax cut extension. Most Republicans support that. He can probably work a deal on that. Unemployment tax -- unemployment benefits extension. That one has been dicey. You can get the votes for it, but now you have the conservatives saying only if you offset it with cuts elsewhere. If it costs x amount of money, find us x amount in cuts somewhere else. So that is another trade-off after just going through this messy process about finding trade-offs.
When it comes to infrastructure, there are a fair amount of Republicans, especially if you go out and talk to governors, who would love that money to build roads and bridges, but it's almost a nonstarter here in Washington because everybody uses the word "stimulus." They go back to the stimulus debate.
It's going to be really interesting to watch the president try to navigate for some of these proposals, well intentioned, they cost money. They cost money. And so it's going to be very interesting going forward, as we've just come out of the hangover of this debate, the debris of this debate, with the continuing debate in that super committee, how much more the president can make an advocate's point for, look, we're going to have to spend some to get some.
BLITZER: And one of the reasons, Gloria, as you know, and John knows, is that the infrastructure, getting money to build roads and bridges, you know, it used to be part of the pork barrel.
BORGER: Sure, earmarks. It's the earmarks.
BLITZER: The spending earmarks. But now they can't do that anymore.
BORGER: So now they -- well, and that's why this infrastructure bank has such resonance. And that's why --
BLITZER: You had a constituency in the older days.
BORGER: That's why people are for it. One observation, though, and I don't know what you folks think, but in watching the president, he did not exactly seem exuberant about this deal. And the minute he talked about compromise and we each had to give and whatever it was, he immediately, to me, took a turn to what he wants out of this joint committee.
BORGER: He just took that turn and said, OK, here's what I want. Yes, I'm going to be willing to adjust entitlements like Medicare, but I also want to reform the tax code, I want to take away those oil and gas subsidies and, of course, as he always says, those tax cuts for billionaires.
So, a sharp turn. You know, wasn't the way he was after health care reform, for example. This was clearly a president who wanted to point out, I'm the grownup here. I didn't like everything in it. And, by the way, bang, let's go right to the committee.
KING: And the president has the bully pulpit. And this president's been roughed up a little bit. His poll numbers are down. Everybody who works in Washington's poll numbers are down. Our poll numbers are probably down. It's been a messy time here. It's going to be interesting to watch here the pivot into more of the political season.
KING: You know, Jess made a great point. The president wanted to talk about, you know, people elected, divided government last November, not dysfunctional government. That is the kind of appeal to the middle of the electorate the president is trying to make. And here's a barometer to watch. In 2008, excuse me, you got 52 percent of independents voted for Barack Obama for president. The Pew Research Center just did a study this past week, 31 percent of independents now say they would support Barack Obama's re-election. So he's dropped 20 points among independents. He needs to get that number back up. These are the kind of debates that give a president, any president, a chance to build his support among the middle, and this president seems -- that seems to be where he's going to focus his energy coming out of this fight.
BORGER: And I think what we heard today was really the start of the 2012 campaign, because not only did he list what he wanted this committee to do, but he also said, we cannot balance the budget on the backs of the people who have borne the most during this recession. And, you know, that was clearly speaking to the liberal interest groups who may be disappointed in this deal, but saying to them, no, we haven't forgotten you. And, also, he reminded us why the recovery has been so slow. He went through a whole list of things, including the Arab spring, right?
KING: But he's the president. And, as you well know, the buck does stop with the president when it comes to the economy.
BLITZER: The White House is going to have their own briefing. The Press Secretary Jay Carney is going to be briefing reporters, that's coming up. We'll monitor that, obviously, as well. There you see the White House briefing room. Jay Carney will be taking reporters' questions fairly soon.
And then at some point later in the day, the President of the United States will sign this legislation into law. I suspect he's going to do it relatively low-key. I don't think he's bringing in the Democratic and Republican leadership from the House and the Senate for a formal signing ceremony. He'll sign it into law. The White House, I assume will release some sort of still photo of that event. I'm not sure they're going to do a big deal.
It's not one of these events where there's going to be a huge celebration in the East Room of the White House with invited guests. They're just happy they got this done. The nation's debt ceiling has been raised and they can move on to some of the other important issues facing the country.
Let me bring back Kate Bolduan, our congressional correspondent. She's up on the Hill. I interrupted you before, Kate, because we wanted to hear what Nancy Pelosi had to say.
Are we expecting to hear from John Boehner or any of the Republican leaders in the House, or Mitch McConnell? Are they doing any news conference as far as we know right now?
BOLDUAN: I don't have any information that we're going to hear from House Speaker John Boehner but we had heard earlier there was a possibility we could hear from the top Republican in the Senate Mitch McConnell. He is meeting, I think, for a policy lunch that happens quite often with fellow Republicans as we speak. So we could be hearing from him shortly at some point today.
But going to -- part of the discussion you all were just having about this committee and the point I was trying to make is that it's going to be interesting just how the committee is actually made up, who these leaders pick to be on the committee.
There are some concerns up here on Capitol Hill that this committee is kind of going to be stacked with hard liners from both parties, which will then set up the committee to basically fail, which would then set into place that trigger, that automatic spending cuts kind of across the board that everyone says they want to avoid, instead of maybe possibly seeing some of the members of the gang of six in the Senate that really sat down and decided from the very beginning, they spent I think almost a year working together to try to tackle some of the tough stuff in terms of entitlements and Medicare and Social Security and tax reform.
So it will be very interesting and very telling kind of where the fight will be when they return from the August recess, when we see how this committee is made up. I believe I heard leaders say yesterday that they have about two weeks to decide who they're going to be putting on that committee and that will set up for the next battle we will all be watching very intently, because they have a big job ahead of them, Wolf.
BLITZER: Right. As you say, three Democrats from the House, three Republicans from the House, three Democrats from the Senate, three Republicans from the Senate, 12 members altogether.
An enormous burden will be on their shoulders and it will be fascinating to see the leaders, who they appoint to serve on this committee because they will have a lot of work between now and Thanksgiving to come up with their recommendations.
Kate Bolduan, thanks very much.
I quickly want to check in once again with Alison Kosik. She's up on Wall Street watching what's going on. Depressing numbers today on Wall Street, what for the eight day in a row it doesn't look like any great bounce by any means, despite the fact the president is about to sign this increase in the debt ceiling into law.
ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. You know what, Wolf? If the Dow doesn't rally in the next few hours, we're going to see an eighth straight loss for the Dow. It would actually be the longest losing streak since October of 2008, that was one month after Lehman Brothers collapsed.
And, you know what? Wall Street really knew all along a deal would be cut here. But I just got off the phone with a couple of traders and they tell me, you know what, there's nothing in this deal that shows that it's going to stimulate the economy. It didn't cut spending enough and they say, you know what, this is a great deal for politicians but they say it's not a great deal for Wall Street.
And then you look at the numbers that keep coming in, these lackluster just terrible numbers on manufacturing and GDP and even the numbers today on personal income and spending. Reports that Wall Street usually wouldn't even notice but something that caught their eye was that consumer spending down for the first time in almost two years. And that actually, the savings rate, Americans are putting away, they're stocking away more money. It's at its highest level in almost a year.
You know what that shows, Wolf? It shows that Americans are saving for a rainy day. They're worried about their jobs, they're worried about the future of this economy and they're trying to put away as much money because they don't know what's going to happen. So it's that uncertainty you're seeing reflected in the markets today, Wolf.
BLITZER: It's interesting that Fitch, one of the three credit rating agencies, has now decided they're not going to decrease America's AAA credit rating. You'd think that would have a little impact on Wall Street. Certainly hasn't in the last few moments since Richard Quest reported that for our viewers here on CNN.
It doesn't seem to have had an impact, has it? KOSIK: No, it hasn't. And that's surprising as well because Fitch was one of the rating agencies that was sort of dangling that carrot.
Yes, we didn't see any reaction when that statement came out from Fitch. We saw it as well. No reaction. Really the focus that Wall Street seems to be centered on is the weakening economy, especially jobs. You're going to see in the next couple sessions you're going to see the markets maybe in a holding pattern even, kind of waiting it out, waiting to see what's going to happen on Friday when these big job numbers come out, as well, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. And nobody's expecting big increases in the number of jobs on Friday. The number of jobs created in the month of July. But that's an indicator, very important if not the most important indicator they look at to see how the economy is doing, how jobs are doing and what's going on.
All right. Jay Carney is the White House Press Secretary.
Let's listen in briefly.
CARNEY: OK. Thank you all for being here.
Before I take your questions I have an announcement.
On September 11, 2011, the president and Mrs. Obama will join with the rest of the American people in marking the tenth anniversary of a day that we will never forget. The president will participate in commemorations at each of the three locations where we lost so many loved one: in Lower Manhattan, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon in Northern Virginia.
Throughout the day he will pay tribute to those we lost, honor the Americans who responded on that day and who served in harm's way over the last decade. He will underscore the strength, resilience and unity of the American people.
Further details about the president's schedule will be announced in the coming weeks.
On September 10th, the day prior, the vice president will attend the dedication of the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Further details about the vice president's plans will also be announced in coming weeks.
And with that, I will take your questions. Ben Feller of the Associated Press.
QUESTION: Thank you, Jay.
On the debt legislation, when does the president plan to sign it? I assume as soon as possible. And how do you plan to let us know?
CARNEY: You don't think he should just wait for a few days and...
CARNEY: Yes, as soon as possible. I'm sure we will let you know.
There's a process by which legislation, having passed both houses, makes it -- makes its ways down here, down Pennsylvania Avenue, and lands on his desk. And we will let you know when it's signed.
QUESTION: By hand or autopen?
CARNEY: I believe it will be by hand.
QUESTION: We heard the president talk quite extensively out there about the need for balance, the need for tax increases on wealthier Americans and why.
I'm wondering, though -- for anybody who has been following the debate, why they should have faith that that's going to happen in this next round.
I don't want to get into a whole debate about the trigger, but I'm just saying that that argument we've heard for weeks and it didn't happen in the first round. Why would people have faith it's going to happen next time?
CARNEY: Well, that's an excellent question.
And there are a lot of reasons why Americans may have lost a little bit of faith in the process here in Washington, as they watched what, for much of the time, seemed like a circus that wasn't producing anything but stalemate.
In the end, however, as the president noted, Republicans and Democrats and the president came together and reached a compromise that averted a crisis and will do some good things in terms of reducing our deficit that will be positive for our economy.
As to the next step, the second stage, the need to move beyond just cuts in discretionary spending to go at some of the issues that really drive our debt, entitlements and tax revenues, or spending through the tax code, you're right: These are hard issues. And we didn't get there in the grand compromise that the president was negotiating in good faith with the speaker of the House. A reason perhaps for some optimism is that, while, in the end, we were not able to achieve that, there were great strides made in terms of making the case for why balance is so essential and why, if you really want to get a hold of our deficits and do something about our long-term debt, you have to deal with revenues as well as entitlements.
I would note that, after the gang of six released its framework, its proposal, that nearly 20 Republican senators endorsed that approach, in addition to, obviously, the many Democrats who did.
I would note that the speaker of the House, by his own account, put revenues on the table in his negotiations with the president of the United States.
There are many other voices in the Congress, and certainly outside of the Congress, that recognize -- on the Republican side -- that recognize the need to take a balanced approach.
I noticed in a statement that Senator Gramm (ph) made just today, probably in the last hour or two, where he said that he certainly thinks we can close loopholes and deal with things like itemized deductions in the name of reducing the deficit.
CARNEY: So it doesn't mean it will be easy, but we do have a mechanism in place through this super-committee -- the so-called super-committee, special committee that will be set up by this legislation, and through the incentive placed on Congress by the so- called trigger, to hopefully reach a situation where Congress will recognize that the best way to tackle this problem, really the only fair way to tackle this problem, is by approaching it with balance.
CARNEY: You know, I'm going to move along the line here.
QUESTION: One quick follow-on on that committee you just mentioned.
We're already hearing some rumbling from Republicans that they won't pick members who are inclined to go for tax increases.
My question is: Did the president indirectly, in your view, have any say over who gets picked for those committees?
CARNEY: Well, the -- the authority is vested, if you will, in the leaders of Congress to appoint these members -- bicameral, bipartisan membership of the committee.
The president will obviously -- has made his opinion known and will make his opinion known that it's important to take this seriously and to appoint members who will try to get to a product that can emerge from the committee and -- and get a "yes" vote from Congress and balance is required to achieve that.
And this is not -- to decide otherwise, to stack the membership with folks who don't want to get anything done, you might think is a fine political tactic if there was no consequence to that, but there is, obviously, which is the very onerous actions that would be forced on the Congress by the sequestration -- forgive me for using that word, but by the trigger.
So we hope and believe that there will be pressure on the Congress to take this seriously, on the leaders to appoint members who take it seriously, and who respond not just to what we say, but what the American people are saying, what some of the very Republicans that I just mentioned are saying, which is that if we are serious, as many people claim they are, about getting our deficits under control and doing more than just cutting discretionary spending, then we have to approach these big thorny issues: entitlements and revenues. And the way to do that is through the committee.
QUESTION: Jay, you mentioned yesterday extending the payroll tax, and the president alluded to that -- alluded to that in his statement today as well. How do you expect to do that with this Congress?
CARNEY: How do I expect to get this Congress -- how do we expect to get this Congress to pass a tax cut?
QUESTION: How do you expect -- how do you expect to get this through the Congress?
CARNEY: Well, I don't have a legislative strategy to lay out to you, but Congress actually acted to extend the payroll tax cut last December for this year. That decision has resulted in a thousand extra dollars in the pockets of every American, the typical average American family.
CARNEY: That's obviously a very positive thing for those families as they deal with making ends meet, and for the economy, because that money that they spend -- that extra money that ends up in their paychecks by and large gets spent and put back into the economy, which helps generate jobs and business and that -- and that's very important.
So I think the same arguments that made it compelling last year will make it compelling this fall, when the president takes up that case again.
QUESTION: But do you see bipartisan support for doing that?
CARNEY: I think there -- we -- we expect there will be bipartisan support for doing that, yes.
QUESTION: The president mentioned in his comments just now that he'd be speaking about more measures to help businesses hire and expand. Can you give us a clue?
CARNEY: Well, I'll let him do that. I think he will certainly be talking a great deal about the need to grow our economy and increase hiring, create more jobs. And that'll be something you hear a lot about from him in these coming weeks and months.
QUESTION: But if you had more measures, wouldn't we have seen them by now? Are there -- are there big new measures that you have planned?
CARNEY: Well, that suggests that -- that -- that everything, every idea you have, you have on day one and you implement on day two, and obviously that's not the case.
And we have a dynamic, changing situation, both in the economy and in -- in our politics, and so you are constantly thinking about and putting forward new ideas to address this number one priority, which is growing the economy and creating jobs.
So, no, I think the answer to that is no. And we will have more ideas to put forward.
He also mentioned very clearly about the things that are already up on Capitol Hill that can be acted upon immediately, in terms of the trade -- the trade deals that have already been negotiated that will support or create something like 70,000 American jobs, the -- the need to get patent reform through, to allow -- to free up -- cut some red tape and free up innovation, and -- and then, obviously, a measure that we believe will have bipartisan support to create an infrastructure bank, to leverage the public loans to private sector companies that want to help us rebuild our bridges and highways and airports.
So these are things that Congress can act on either right away or very quickly after they return from recess, and we look forward to them doing that.
QUESTION: It just seems like after this big bipartisan struggle we've seen over the last weeks and months, that trying to get Congress to pass an extension of unemployment benefits, which Republicans will probably call more stimulus, and possibly the payroll tax cut as well, is going to be a hard sell.
CARNEY: I don't think there's anything that we assume is an easy sell in -- in -- in Washington because these are tough issues.
But we believe there will be bipartisan support for doing the absolutely right thing, which in this case is extending a tax cut for working Americans that will help them deal with high energy prices, that will also give them more money to spend, which in turn spurs economic activity, allows businesses to make decisions to hire more people, and has a very positive effect overall on the economy.
CARNEY: So, you know, we need to do everything we can in Washington to make sure that we're taking measures that -- that help the economy and help Americans and help them find work.
Now, as the president said, it should not take a crisis to get us to come together to do the things that we need to do to help the economy. And he looks forward to further bipartisan cooperation in the -- in the coming weeks and months.
QUESTION: I couldn't help but notice the president's tone in his remarks. He seemed a little disgusted with Washington, D.C. And -- no? You don't think that's fair?
CARNEY: I think that the American people, rightfully, were appalled by some of what they saw -- the willingness to even hint at the possibility of allowing the United States to default for the first time in its history, in order to advance, you know, specific agenda items that had already been rejected by a majority in Congress and certainly a majority in the -- in the American public.
Now, the fact is that in the end, as we calmly predicted would be the case, cooler heads prevailed and compromise was achieved.
There -- the frustration that we all have is that it shouldn't take something this dramatic to force that kind of compromise, because, in the end, everyone is here for the same reason, which is to make Washington work in a way that is good for the country and good for the American people.
QUESTION: OK. I revise my remarks --
BLITZER: All right, we're going to break away from this exchange, but we're going to continue to monitor with Jay Carney, White House press secretary, is saying.
We will take a quick break on this historic day. The United States Senate has done what the House of Representatives has done, passed this legislation raising the nation's debt ceiling. We heard from the president. Later today, he will sign this legislation into law.
Much more of the breaking news coverage here in the CNN NEWSROOM right after this.
BLITZER: An important day here in Washington, D.C. The nation's debt ceiling is about to be raised. The Senate has passed the vote, 74 in favor, 26 oppose. The House passed it overwhelmingly last night. The president later today will sign it into law.
This will create momentum for the creation of the super committee, 12 members of Congress, six Democrats, six Republicans, six from each chamber of the House and Senate. They will then come up with entitlement reform, tax reform, all sorts of complicated issues.
We're continuing our breaking news coverage here in the CNN NEWSROOM. Gloria Borger is here, John King is here.
Gloria, are people lobbying to become a member of this super committee? Do members want to be on it, the controversy -- ?
BORGER: You raise an interesting question, Wolf, because, of course, one could make the argument -- and let's hear what John has to say about this -- that it would be the end of your political career to be on this commission. And that's why maybe they're going to appoint some folks who are about to retire, those who were also on the Gang of Six like, for example, Senator Kent Conrad.
But I think it could work both ways. And the answer to your question, are they lobbying, you've got Senator Mitch McConnell on your show tonight, it'll be interesting to ask him whether he's been getting any phone calls who want to be on this committee.
KING: A, does any senator want to be on the committee; and, B, is he getting pressure to put one of the Tea Party, one of the newer members, or Senator Jim DeMint, the conservative who's been around a bit longer who tends to represent the Tea Party? Where are the pressures? Cause, if you read your emails, from every interest group in town -- conservative, liberal, in between -- we're getting, the committee must do this, the committee must rule out Medicare cuts, the committee must rule out tax hikes, depending on your perspective.
So this is the next battleground in Washington. And it is a reminder, Wolf, that as we watch the signing, we'll wait for the president to actually sign this into legislation today, this debate is not over. The volume will get turned down a little bit over for a few weeks, they'll name this committee, they have two weeks do it. Once the president signs that, two weeks from that date, they have to name the committee members. So Congress will be in recess when we learn who these committee members will be.
The pressures on them will be extraordinary because the president just said himself, he wants a balanced approach. So he wants in the next installment some revenue increases, that means tax reform. The liberals on the other side are saying, don't dare touch Medicare or Social Security. The president said, probably will have to touch them a little bit as long as you get the balance.
This fight is not over and it's going to continue with this committee, then a debate around the end of year in Congress. Then guess what? You flip from 2011 into 2012 and every Congressional race and in the presidential race, size, scope, federal government spending, taxes, right there.
BORGER: And that's why the markets aren't reacting, because the markets understand --
BLITZER: They're reacting, but negatively so far.
BORGER: Well, negatively. Well, the markets understands that this is still a fight that needs to be engaged and that's going to be engaged. And, of course, the president wants people on the committee who agree with him about the way he puts it into balance, which means increase revenues. And Mitch McConnell and the Republicans are going to say, not so much.
And don't forget, my question is how about the presidential candidates out there? Are they calling Mitch McConnell and saying, look, maybe we need some people to help us with our presidential races who could help Republicans in the congressional races and in the presidential race. So I'm sure there's a lot of jockeying going on.
KING: I bet the candidates who -- most of the candidates prefer to be silent on this because you're not sure exactly where things are going go. So we do know most of the Republican candidates have said no; Jon Huntsman was for this deal.
But that does beg another interesting question. In the transition of our politics -- right now, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are the face of the Republican Party, there is no one leader, but when we get around to March or April of next year, when someone emerges as a frontrunner from these primaries, that will change everything because then these congressional leaders, like it or not, will defer to the presumptive nominee of their party, that's just the way it works. And if that presumptive nominee has a different view, you'll see another lurch and pivot in the politics. That's just the way the system works.
So there is a -- it's sort of -- our politics will go in three and four-month spurts. Right now, we're in what the president likes to say is we're not in a campaign yet, well, we are in a campaign, but we're in the early stages of a campaign. Then we'll get past the holidays and into next year and then, wow, President Obama is not encumbered, no Democratic challenger, but then the Republican race will get messy through Iowa and New Hampshire and then --
BORGER: And then they're going to play deal or no deal, right? Because take the deal or don't take the deal.
BLITZER: As much as everyone -- you know, they voted for this. As much as everyone dislikes what they've done, whether you're a liberal Democrat or conservative Republican, they have removed, at least until the beginning of 2013 or so, this cloud of doubt. The nation's debt ceiling is going to continue to be raised, and so at least that -- there's some silver lining in all of this.
BORGER: There is.
BLITZER: The nation doesn't have to worry about default right now, which could have been even more of a disaster on this already strained U.S. economy.
BORGER: Of course, Wolf, but nobody even knew it was going to be a cloud since it's always been approved until this particular fight. So I think in the future, as Mitch McConnell said, this may be the new template, and it's never going to be done on its own again.
BLITZER: The only way it would ever be done on its own again is if one party totally controls --
BLITZER: -- the executive branch and the Senate and the House and there's no filibuster threat in the Senate, they have more than 60 senators. If one party has that kind of control, they could probably do whatever they want.
KING: Yes, I wouldn't count on that in the near future given our divided politics. And even -- even still given you would have to have a big majority in the Senate just because the memory is here.
A lot of these debates when you watch them play out, the Democrats waited in the House to vote yesterday, in part because they wanted Speaker Boehner to carry the water, in part they remember the TARP, the bailout the Republicans pulled away then, so a lot of payback in this town.
BLITZER: We're going to stay on top of this story. CNN obviously is not going to go away. John, you have a big interview later on "JOHN KING USA" today with the Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. I know you're going to have some good questions for him, Mitch McConnell.
KING: Looking forward to that.
BLITZER: That's at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, we'll be watching that.
Gloria will be with us in "THE SITUATION ROOM" later today. I'll be back at 5:00 p.m.
Stay with us at CNN. Randi Kaye in the CNN NEWSROOM will continue our breaking news coverage right after this.