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MR. SCHULTZ: President Obama marked his 100th day in office with a town hall meeting in Missouri today. He's doing everything he can to revive the economy. But one of his closest allies in the Senate now says there's a brick wall in the way. The quote is, "The banks own the Senate." The man who said it joins us, and that's Senator Dick Durbin from Illinois, the Democratic whip.
Senator Durbin, good to have you with us tonight.
Does that mean -- and I know you've been working on banking reform and financial reform -- does that mean that the lobbying power is just too strong and you're not going to be able to get this deal done?
SEN. DURBIN: Ed, I hope we can win at the end of the day, but I can tell you this. I've been working for months to try to bring the banks to the table. We face 8 million mortgage foreclosures in America. What that means is that one out of every six home mortgages will go into foreclosure. That's not my estimate. It's Moody's. This is an economic group that makes these projections.
With this looming foreclosure crisis that threatens neighborhoods all across the United States of America, I've tried to sit down with the banks and work out a reasonable way for people to keep their homes so that the banks will renegotiate the mortgage or, if worse comes to worse, they end up in bankruptcy and the bankruptcy judge has one last chance to try.
The banks have walked away from the table. They've refused to sit down and work with us. Only Citigroup -- Citigroup is the only bank that's been willing to work with us.
MR. SCHULTZ: So the banks that have taken taxpayer dollars are being obstinate about reform. And you went so far as to say in a radio interview that the banks own the Senate. You believe the banks own the Senate and you can't get this done?
SEN. DURBIN: I will tell you that at this point in time it's an uphill battle for me to get 60 votes in the Senate to save these homes in foreclosure.
MR. SCHULTZ: So their lobbying power is that strong.
SEN. DURBIN: It is.
MR. SCHULTZ: Their lobbying power --
SEN. DURBIN: It is.
MR. SCHULTZ: -- is that strong.
SEN. DURBIN: It's hard to believe, Ed, when they bring us this crisis, this crisis which has brought us into this recession, when they received billions of dollars in taxpayers' money for mistakes that they've made, billions of dollars, that they refuse to sit down at the table and work out a reasonable compromise so that we can help millions of Americans avoid mortgage foreclosure.
MR. SCHULTZ: Well, Senator, based on your comments, it looks to me like the next 100 days is going to be pretty interesting for President Obama, because this is exactly what he ran on, and that was change and reform. And millions of Americans are affected by this, not to mention we bailed them out to keep them in business.
What's your next play? Is this something that Arlen Specter could help you with?
MR. SCHULTZ: Well, of course, we'll need his help and a lot of others. And the next issue that we're going to move on is credit cards. And I want to let you know, most Americans, if they don't know much about mortgage foreclosure, know a lot about credit cards. And you know if you miss a payment or you turn one in late, you know what's going to happen to you -- penalties and interest and interest on the penalties. And it just keeps coming at you. And the interest rates are jimmied and changed so that people end up paying more.
Well, Chris Dodd's bringing a bill out of the Banking Committee next week, a good, strong bill. It'll be another test of the strength of the banks. I hope that my colleagues in the Senate on both parties will stand up for working families and consumers across America who are struggling in this economy.
MR. SCHULTZ: Senator, great to have you on with us tonight, and thanks for sticking to your comment, because I think the American people need to hear this. This is what's going to bring change. We've got people such as yourself and others in the Senate who are willing to step out and say what's really happening. It's going to set the table, I think, for a very interesting summer.
SEN. DURBIN: Thanks, Ed.
MR. SCHULTZ: You bet. Thank you, sir.