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SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: Thank you, Keith. Good to be with you.
OLBERMANN: There must have been many objectives underlining the legislation, including new consumer protection. But, in your assessment, does the bill truly offer the necessary reform of Wall Street?
WHITEHOUSE: I think it does. As the president said,,it is not 100 percent. But, given the Republican opposition to getting anything done, I think that the fact we got as far as we did is a very good thing. I think in all the fundamental areas, the bill will significantly strengthen our law and help protect against this kind of thing happening again.
OLBERMANN: Do you have the requisite Republican support to actually pass the thing in the Senate?
WHITEHOUSE: The votes will tell. I don"t believe that they would have let it get out of the conference committee, if they didn"t have those commitments.
OLBERMANN: Are we expecting something of the evolution of support that we saw in health care reform, where the less we are hearing about it, the more good news there is bubbling beneath the surface?
WHITEHOUSE: I think that"s probably true. I think that"s probably true.
OLBERMANN: The succinctness of your answer tells me that it probably is. Let me change subjects for the moment. The Republicans, once again, blocked the jobless benefits bill. How many Americans--do we know how many Americans will lose their unemployment checks because of that, and how soon?
WHITEHOUSE: Well, I can tell you about Rhode Island. We are a state of a million people. We have over 70,000 people who are unemployed and are receiving benefits. That"s 70,000 families who, over the next couple of months, are going to roll out the end of their unemployment insurance and be left on their own.
The jobs aren"t here for those people. We have 12.3 percent unemployment rate. We have been in double digit unemployment for over a year now. These are families that have gone through all the resources that they had, trying to hold it together through this long, long, long, cold recession.
Now, the Republicans have cut the lifeline of unemployment insurance, that for many of them is the only thing that stands between them and economic disaster, the only thing that"s keeping their kids in shoes, the only thing that"s keeping food on the table, the only thing that"s keeping the electric and the rent paid.
OLBERMANN: November is midterms--
WHITEHOUSE: You know--
OLBERMANN: Go ahead.
WHITEHOUSE: I was going to say, what"s particularly irritating about this is that the Republicans cut this lifeline for middle class families, unemployed through no fault of their own, in the same month that the first multi-billion dollar estate passed tax free through to the heirs of a tycoon because of the Bush tax cuts, which weren"t paid for. So if you are concerned about the deficit, it"s a very selective concern about the deficit when you are letting billionaires" estates go through to their heirs untaxed, and cutting off the lifeline for unemployed families.
OLBERMANN: Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, the Democrat of Rhode Island, a great point at the end there. Great thanks to you and for taking time out tonight to be with us.
WHITEHOUSE: Thanks, Keith.
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