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CNN Late Edition - Transcript


Location: Washington, DC

CNN Late Edition - Transcript

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (TN-7) Appeared on CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer to discuss a proposed auto industry bailout. The segment can be downloaded from this page. Transcript follows:

BLITZER: Welcome back to the second hour of "Late Edition." This was another awful week for the U.S. economy. Thousands of layoffs were announced and more industries are appealing to Washington for billions of dollars in bailouts. Clearly, there are going to be some tough choices facing members of Congress when they return to work this week. Let's get a preview of what we can expect. Joing us from our New York bureau, the Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel; he's Chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee and here in Washington, Tennessee Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn. She serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Thanks to you for coming in. Let me start with Congressman Rangel. We heard in the earlier hour of "Late Edition" Congressman, that Carlos Gutierrez, the Commerce Secretary, speaking on behalf of the Bush Administration, now says they support a bailout, if you will, of the auto industry; but only if the money comes from an existing legislation, $25 billion from some energy bill that passed last year that you'd have to reprogram but doesn't come from that $700 billion bailout for the financial sector. Is this something you can deal with this week?

RANGEL: Just talking about it is some relief because while the emphasis has been on bailing out the banks. We represent the people, and the banks seem pretty comfortable in trying to find out which way Secretary Paulson is going. But in terms of the people that are looking for jobs or losing their jobs, I think just discussing how we're going to handle General Motors and the 1 out of 10 jobs that will be lost if they go under, is something we can talk about.

BLITZER: All right. Let me play the clip for Marsha Blackburn. Congresswoman. Here is what Carlos Gutierrez, speaking for the President, said in "Late Edition" in the last hour.

- Begin Clip-
GUTIERREZ: What we are proposing, and we have a solution, 2007 Energy Bill, there is a section, Section 136, that made available $25 billion of loans for the auto industry so that they can retool for cars of the future, for fuel efficiency initiatives. That bill, that section can be reworded quite readily and that money can be made available to auto companies that can prove that they are viable or that they have a plan for viability.
- End Clip-

BLITZER: All right. What do you think? Are you with the President on this one?

BLACKBURN: Well, I would have a lot of questions about this. You know, we hear a lot about bailing out Detroit, but for me it's also about Spring Hill, Tennessee, and I don't want any of my constituents to lose their job. I do have great concerns about just blanket bailouts. Now, what Secretary Gutierrez is talking about there is Section 136. That is of the 2007 Energy Bill that was passed. The money is there to take care of retooling to meet CAFE and energy efficiency standards. There was also money for R&D for next generation automobiles, the lithium-ion battery, things of that nature. And Wolf, we would have to look very carefully at that, because what we've been hearing from the auto industry is they want not only that $25 billion dollars fast tracked to speed up that innovation, but they were wanting an additional $25 billion to handle their legacy costs.

BLITZER: They probably, Charlie Rangel, they would probably like $100 billion if it were available, why not? What do you think about this notion of at least letting them use that $25 billion to get themselves out of this financial, this financial mess they're in right now?

RANGEL: I'm suggesting that it could make a heck of a lot of sense, make certain the automobile industry will be following a new track. That we're able to be competitive, that we're not talking more about the same thing. But I am so pleased that the Administration is taking advantage of this one last week we have, to talk about the safety and the opportunities of people who are employed.

BLITZER: Is it possible, do you think? You know the legislative process better than anyone, Congressman Rangel. Is it possible to pass this, what the Administration wants, to retool, if you will, the $25 billion from the Energy Bill this week, pass it in the House, pass it in the Senate, let the President sign it into law? Can it be done this week?

RANGEL: It could be done, the problem we have is still in the Senate. You recognize that we need 60 votes in order to stop filibusters. It's been abundantly clear that the Republicans in the Senate have not been willing to consider anything in order to have this Administration have some type of transition with the next one. So, we won't be taking up anything unless we have agreement from the Senate they're willing to pass something rather than give hopes to people and don't do anything at all.

BLITZER: What do you think, Congresswoman?

BLACKBURN: The Democrats control both sides of the Hill, and they can pass whatever they want to pass.

BLITZER: In the House they can but in the Senate you need 60 votes to get through a filibuster. They don't have the 60, they have 51.

BLACKBURN: Being one that has voted against the bailouts, I think what we need to do is put everything on the table. We know there are a lot of just-in-time suppliers and manufacturers that are around these auto plants. We need to look at suspending Cap Gains. We need to look at what would happen if we had Sales Tax Deductibility, which we have in Tennessee, we deduct that from our federal income tax filing. What would happen if you were to deduct sales tax from everybody's federal income tax filing and give consumers an incentive to go buy?

BLITZER: Ask the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. He's responsible for writing tax laws in the United States. What do you think of that idea, Congressman?

RANGEL: Any idea that's going to bring relief to the American people instead of just the bank executives is something we should talk about. I don't know whether we have enough time to have hearings on all of these things, but I do believe that the Congresswoman is right, that we can't just throw the money out there. The question is; if the President wants to talk about this, he has to talk to the Senators to make certain that we do have enough votes there to pass it. And that's where we ought to be talking about, not our differences, but how can we get out of this Congress. We got just one more week to go, and give some relief to the people who are unemployed, be able to protect some of the people from this terrible winter we're going to have, to give something in health care, and to make certain we bring some stability to employment. These are the people that are crying for some help. And so we can discuss all of these things, but we won't be able to get back until next January. I hope that this week we can discuss things in a bipartisan way and bring relief to the automobile industry no matter what compromises we have to make.

BLITZER: Basically one week of work you have before the Thanksgiving Recess.

BLACKBURN: You're exactly right, Wolf. We have to get to work on some of these issues. We have to look at the entire picture that we're dealing with, with distributors, with consumers. The energy issue, my goodness, we have to get the cost of energy down. We're looking at the $25 billion that had been put in place for retooling the auto industry.

BLITZER: Let me read to you Congresswoman, what John Boehner, your leader, the Minority Leader in the House said on Thursday, "Spending billions of additional federal tax dollars with no promises to reform the root causes crippling auto makers' competitiveness around the world is neither fair to tax payers nor sound fiscal policy." And we heard something very similar from the ranking republican, Richard Shelby, earlier today as well. You agree with them?

BLACKBURN: I do agree with that. I think both Mr. Shelby and Mr. Boehner are correct on that. The American people are now finding out from Secretary Paulson, he spent $250 billion, and there will be no return to the American people on that. AIG is into the Federal Government for over $315 billion dollars. You had $323 billion that was spent before the $700 billion dollar bailout. This is all on the taxpayers' back, and the taxpayers are getting very, very weary of this. Now, what we -

BLITZER: Let me let Congressman Rangel respond to that. Go ahead.

RANGEL: I think it's true, the taxpayers are getting weary and they should be because all of the assistance is to the financial institutions. But we're there not to represent the banks. We're there to represent the people. And there are millions of jobs that are dependent on the automobile industry. They're in Tennessee, they're in New York, they're all around this country. It would seem to me, rather than going to this debate in the last week of the session, that we should be talking about compromises, about how can we help these people, how can we help the industry, how can we help the people, and for those out of work, to give them some support. That's what we should do.

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