MR. CAVUTO: With us now, Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York. He is pushing for more stimulus in the bailout plan.
Congressman, always good to see you.
REP. WEINER: It's my pleasure, thanks.
MR. CAVUTO: The concern, Congressman, is that too much is being added on here, that's at least (the street read ?). How do you read it?
REP. WEINER: Well, I don't know. It's starting at a pretty expensive package. We don't know, frankly, how much is getting laid out and how much we're going to wind up getting back. I think there is some concern that we want to try to hurry up but take our time. I mean, this is an enormous package. We now have a one or two-page summary of it. I generally support it. I want to see it happen and happen quickly. But I think Congress should at least chew on it a little bit.
As far as the stimulus part of it, I think many of us are ready to accept the idea it may go in a separate package, that it's important to stabilize the markets now and to get this first tranche out the door. But there are a lot of questions on all sides. You know, you've got the economic libertarians on one side, you've got the liberals on the other side, both of which have problems with this.
MR. CAVUTO: But you know, what's interesting, Congressman, is they seem to be agreeing on the notion that there should be more in this. Now, we're just getting word that Congressman Barney Frank and the administration have apparently expressed a willingness to consider some of these add-ons for mortgage holders and the like. And almost as soon as that word came out, and I don't want to draw the parallel here, but stocks fell all the more on the notion that this could be getting out of control. Do you think it's out of control?
REP. WEINER: No, I don't think it is. I mean, frankly, I think a lot of what's going on in the market could be blamed on a lot of things. There's a lot of people very anxious about the banning on short selling. That's caused some problems.
Look, the bottom line is that we're not going to take this thing whole, just swallow it. We've learned the mistakes of doing that in the past. By and large, the Paulson plan is getting broad support, as it should in Congress. Should we be doing something to help homeowners on Main Street, so to speak, not just Wall Street? I think there's a consensus on both sides of the aisle we should be trying to do something.
MR. CAVUTO: But you would argue that it shouldn't be part of this bill. You're open to a separate piece.
REP. WEINER: No, the stimulus piece, I think, should be kept separately. Things that we do, you know, to perhaps make the tax code more progressive, perhaps put a little more money or whether we do something now to say if we're going to take these off your hands, we have to agree to have some flexibility in bankruptcy proceedings, for example, to modify mortgages to allow people to stay in their homes, that might be part of this.
First of all, we don't know what the Paulson proposal is. We've gotten basically a one-and-a-half-page summary of it. We've yet to see the bill.
MR. CAVUTO: I understand the addendum to it is hundreds of pages.
REP. WEINER: (Laughs.) It's probably going to be like that.
MR. CAVUTO: So let me ask you this. Is there a sense that you have -- Treasury Secretary Paulson was saying, you can help all those folks by providing financial stability to our financial system for those folks. In other words, get them on the right track, you can address all these other concerns later. Many in your party, with the exception of, and I'm sure there are others, don't agree to that. And some Republicans, by the way, don't agree with that. And my concern is this is going to snowball into hell.
REP. WEINER: Well, I don't know. I mean, "snowball into hell," let's not get crazy. I don't know if you saw last week. It wasn't exactly a picnic.
MR. CAVUTO: Well, we're not kicking things off on a great foot.
REP. WEINER: Well, listen, at least there is this sense that okay, there's some stability, the systematic failure seems to have gone out of the anxiety. The question is this is, do we do anything in this package for individual people for whom the larger economic picture is isn't their concern but the narrow question of, am I going to be able to stay in my own home? If we're going to become essentially stockholders in lot of these big investment houses and we're going to have these mortgage-backed securities in our own portfolio, it's reasonable to say we, the federal government, are going to make it a little easier for people to stay in their own homes while we sort this thing out.
The markets need to catch their breath. We're trying to provide that room to do it. But individual citizens have a right to expect that some of their concerns will be met as well.
MR. CAVUTO: Do the 90 percent or so who are paying their mortgages on time in your district, Congressman, have any angst about playing a role in bailing out the percentage who do not?
REP. WEINER: Yes. I think there is concern about how we do this fairly. We don't want to reward people for taking dumb risk. But we also know that even if you're in a home that has no problems, if you're living next door to a guy who's being foreclosed on, that's a bad day for you. So I think people understand the interconnectedness here. And I think people who are concerned about the general economy can also be concerned about the economy on their street.
MR. CAVUTO: All right. Real quickly, Michael Bloomberg might get some sort of omnibus role as an economic czar. As a guy who might have sights on the mayor's office, would that be a good role for him?
REP. WEINER: Well, Mike Bloomberg's a talented guy. He's going to have to decide what he does next, and I appreciate what he said, which is he wants to serve his country.
MR. CAVUTO: You're an early front-runner for that job. You're still interested in it, right?
REP. WEINER: It's a pretty good job. But I tell you, though, the New York City that I might inherit is really going to be on the ropes financially, and that's why we have to make smart decisions now.
MR. CAVUTO: He says, real quickly, taxes will have to go up.
REP. WEINER: I believe that should not be our first choice. We've grown the government a great deal. We need to shrink it back down.
MR. CAVUTO: Congressman, very good to see you.
REP. WEINER: Thank you.