ABC "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" - Transcript


By:  Maxine Waters Chuck Schumer Lindsey Graham Pete King
Date: Feb. 15, 2009
Location: Unknown

ABC "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" - Transcript


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MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: When President Obama signs his $787 billion stimulus plan into law on Tuesday, he'll set a new record. It will be the single most expensive piece of economic legislation ever in our history, and it passed without a single Republican vote in the House and only three in the Senate.

So the voting is done. Let the debate begin. For that, I'm joined today by four key players from Capitol Hill, Senator Chuck Schumer, the vice chair of the Joint Economic Committee -- welcome; Congresswoman Maxine Waters, she's a senior Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee; senior Republican on that committee, Representative Peter King of New York; and Senator Lindsey Graham, South Carolina, Senate Budget Committee.

And I'm going to begin with your governor, Mark Sanford.


MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Big opponent of the stimulus legislation. And I want to show everybody what he wrote in this morning's State newspaper in South Carolina. He says that, "For every job the bill creates, American taxpayers will spend $223,000. If we add the costs of this bill to the previous efforts of the federal government to deal with the financial crisis, the American taxpayer is on the hook for $9.7 trillion. If the stimulus bill were a country, it would be the 15th-largest country in the world. "

Senator Schumer, he says it's going to be a waste, it's not going to work, and we're going to be paying for it for generations.

SEN. SCHUMER: Well, you know, it's easy to say no. We have the worst economy we've had since the Great Depression, half a million people more losing jobs every month. The economy's hurtling southward. Yes, this is a big, strong, bold package.

It's going to do three things. It's going to keep or create three million to four million jobs. It's going to put money into the hands of the middle class so they spend it in the stores and restaurants and get the economy going. And it's going to create an infrastructure that not only puts people to work, but leaves something after, God willing, we get out of this. To do nothing risks a depression.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: So what's wrong with that?

SEN. GRAHAM: Well, I wanted to do something. I think we do need a stimulus package with a focus, and that's to create jobs in the near term. Eleven percent of the appropriated money in this bill hits in 2009. Most of the money in this bill is in entitlement spending that's not going to create jobs.

Twenty-seven percent of the bill is now tax cuts. That's down significantly. And of those tax cuts, most of them -- only $3 billion goes to small business. Seventy-five percent of the people in this country work for a small business. Of a $787 billion bill, $3 billion is directed to small-business people. I think we missed the mark a long way. We increased new government; we did not increase new jobs.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Congresswoman Waters, when this bill came out of the Senate at the end of the week, your speaker, Nancy Pelosi, had to quell a mini-revolt among House Democrats who actually take an opposite view from Senator Graham. They thought the bill wasn't big enough, and they didn't like the cuts, particularly in state aid, education aid, that came in the Senate.

REP. WATERS: Absolutely. We worked very hard on that bill in the House. And as you know, many well-known economists say that this should be a trillion-dollar bailout bill, that we need to put more into our economy.

And we worked very hard on education, as you know. Our schools are in great disrepair in this country. We have children going to schools in deplorable conditions, and so we wanted more money in school construction. We thought, not only does that create jobs, it's an investment in the future.

And so those kinds of programs we really, really wanted to fight for. As it turns out, we have through the conference committee accepted the amendments from those Republicans who were willing to step up to the bat and at least do something for the people of this country. And so we lost on some of it, but it's a big win for all families and all Americans.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Only three Republicans, Congressman King, in the Senate, zero in House. And I have to say, it -- it surprised me that zero Republicans in the House went along with this. And, for example, I know that you support infrastructure spending. I know you support Medicaid aid to the states, yet you -- you vote no on this. Was this more taking one for the team so the Republicans could be unified?

REP. KING: No, not at all. First of all, I do support the Medicaid provisions in the bill. But as far as the infrastructure, less than 9.5 percent of the bill goes to infrastructure on transit and highway construction. That was a key part to me, which was really severely diminished.

As far as taxes, actually, Lindsey says 27 percent. Really, it's only 18 percent in new tax credits, because the fact that the AMT was put in, which would have been factored in anyway. So it's really only 18 percent in tax relief. We give more tax relief to the arts than we do to small businesses.

And, you know, obviously we have to do a lot. I supported strong infrastructure, strong tax relief. We didn't do it. And that's why you have people even like Alice Rivlin, who was Bill Clinton's budget director, testified against the stimulus bill. Martin Feldstein, who had been for it is now against it, and the CBO says, over a 10-year period, it's going to diminish the economy, bring down the GDP, and actually cause a reduction in wages.

SEN. SCHUMER: Yes, the bottom line is, first, there's good -- good help for small business. The NOL provision is kept in for businesses --

(Cross talk.)

SEN. SCHUMER: -- below 15 -- it allows businesses that have had losses to take those losses now so they don't have to pay tax, instead can put people to work. And there's going to be more for small business in the economic plan that the president is announcing.

The bottom line is this: this -- the -- when you ask people what you need to do about this economy, the number-one thing all economists -- Martin Feldstein, who wanted a bigger package -- he wanted a different one, but a bigger one, he didn't want no -- all of them say the great danger we face, George, is what they call a deflationary spiral, prices keep going down.

And once you get into that spiral deeply, you don't know how to get out. That's what the Great Depression was. To a lesser extent, that's what happened in Japan for 10 years. And we need to get out of it. And this is a jolt to the economy. It's a strong jolt. It's not perfect, but it certainly is a lot better than doing nothing and a lot better, frankly --

REP. KING: But no one suggested we do nothing, Chuck.

SEN. SCHUMER: But, well --

REP. KING: No one suggested we do nothing.

SEN. SCHUMER: -- you know what? To say that $50 million in the arts is a reason to vote against it -- now, I happen to think the arts is an economic engine in New York, and I would be for that provision, but you might disagree with it.

But to say that's the reason to vote against a bill when there are -- still on infrastructure, if you add it all in, there's close to $100 billion. If you -- it's including water, and sewer, and high- speed rail. If you talk about the FMAP relief, that is much greater. That is 100 times greater, just about, than the money to the arts.

(Cross talk.)

SEN. SCHUMER: So let me just say this.

(Cross talk.)

SEN. SCHUMER: We had a lot of people who said, take this out, take that out.

REP. WATERS: That's right.

SEN. SCHUMER: Most of those things were taken out, and they still voted against the bill.

(Cross talk.)

REP. KING: -- so much is missing, and that's the reality.

REP. WATERS: We took the amendments from those three Republicans who were willing to step up to the bat.

REP. KING: In the House, no one was allowed to take -- no Republican was allowed to take part in the process.

(Cross talk.)

REP. KING: Not one Republican was allowed to take part in the process in the House.

REP. WATERS: That's -- that is not -- that is not the truth.

REP. KING: It is the truth.

REP. WATERS: As a matter of fact, we should focus on, when you had the opportunity to participate, why not do what those three moderate Republicans did? Step up to the plate; offer your amendments. You know, we took all of their amendments.

Do you know we reduced the neighborhood stabilization program by a couple of billion dollars? We reduced Head Start, Early Start, school construction. We took the amendments. And so all those who --

REP. KING: The fact is --

SEN. SCHUMER: And one other thing --

REP. KING: -- not one Republican was allowed at the table in the House of Representatives when the bill was --

(Cross talk.)

SEN. SCHUMER: In the Senate they were.

REP. KING: I'm talking about the House.

(Cross talk.)

SEN. SCHUMER: Let's just look at the Senate. The two biggest amendments that we accepted were Republican amendments: $70 billion -- you disagreed with it -- Senator Grassley, AMT, $38 billion, housing relief, Senator Isakson. They still voted against the bill. We don't know what more to do in terms of bipartisanship.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me bring Senator Graham back into this now.

SEN. SCHUMER: We don't know what more to do in terms of bipartisanship.

(Cross talk.)

SEN. SCHUMER: Well, how about the Senate?

SEN. GRAHAM: If I may say, if this is going to be bipartisanship, the country's screwed. I know bipartisanship when I see it. I've participated in it. I've gone back home and gotten primary opponents because I wanted to be bipartisan.

There's nothing about this process that's been bipartisan. This is not change we can believe in. You rammed it through the House. You started out with the idea, we won. We write the bill. The markup, Chuck, in the Senate took an hour and 45 minutes. What's the AMT got to do with creating jobs?

(Cross talk.)

SEN. SCHUMER: It was a Republican amendment.

SEN. GRAHAM: We had every Republican --

REP. WATERS: It is a Republican amendment.

SEN. GRAHAM: -- vote for a $440 billion stimulus package that cut taxes, had infrastructure spending, and helped people who were out of work. We blew it when it came to coming together here. Let's don't blow it on housing --

(Cross talk.)

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: And now, but, Senator, your -- your governor, who I started with, Governor Sanford --


MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: -- is suggesting that he may not take the money -- that is $8 billion -- for the state of South Carolina, about 5 percent of your gross product.

SEN. GRAHAM: It won't be that -- it won't be that much, but --

(Cross talk.)

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Should -- if he refuses the money, will you stand by him?

SEN. GRAHAM: I think it would be smart for South Carolina to take the money, because South Carolina is going to have to pay the money back. The average taxpayer gets $8 of tax relief, but their children get $1 trillion of debt.

SEN. GRAHAM: So could we have done better? Yes.

(Cross talk.)

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: -- return it to the Treasury Department?

(Cross talk.)

SEN. GRAHAM: Well, at the end of the day, it won't come to the Treasury. It would be spent in some other state. So what I think we've done is blown an opportunity to help the economy by -- we should have started with housing and banking because this is good money after bad unless you spend housing and banking.

And the question people need to understand is, how much more do you need to fix housing and banking -- $315 billion left in the TARP is not even close to fix housing and banking. And every dollar we waste in here and every policy change in this bill that could have went through the normal process is an opportunity lost for this country.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: That brings me to the next subject. I do want to get into the banking and the housing provisions, but there was one more provision in this stimulus package that I want to ask you about, Senator Schumer. At the last minute, a new executive compensation provision was brought in that would cap bonus pay for executives at these financial institutions that have received TARP money at a third of their salary.

Now, the opponents of this, including those in the Obama administration, have a number -- they say it's going to lead to a brain drain, workers are going to go to foreign banks. They say it's going to force the banks to pay back that TARP money before it is the right thing to do. They also say it might have the perverse effect of actually increasing salaries at the banks. So why put this in now?

SEN. SCHUMER: Well, first, you know, Wall Street has to get it. And the bottom line is, the average American says, I go to my desk. I go to my assembly line. I do the right thing. I make no mistakes. And now I'm worried about being laid off. There are declines in pay and benefits. My paycheck stretches less.

And yet it seems that a lot of the people on Wall Street basically messed up and they continue to get high salaries. So they're --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: But you're not worried this is going to backfire?

SEN. SCHUMER: No, let me say two things about it. First of all, Senator Dodd put together a provision, and it's a provision that I think is strong and tough, and we need strong and tough. And Wall Street has to learn, if you're going to take money, billions of dollars, you're going to have to limit executive comp.

I disagree with the administration in this sense. I have no problem if companies want to get out of this program and get out of the program quickly, that's their business and that's their right. And I think that's just fine. But if you're taking federal money, you're going to have to have some limits --

REP. WATERS: They're not going to get out.

SEN. SCHUMER: -- on exec comp.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Does any of you disagree? Or is everybody in unanimity on that point?

REP. KING: I look forward to the debate between Chuck Schumer and President Obama on this issue. (Laughter.) No, I will say, I agree there should have been some caps. I think this went too far, and I think it can be counterproductive.

SEN. GRAHAM: Can -- can I -- can I suggest why Chuck is right?

REP. WATERS: The president is going to sign the bill with the provision in it. And you're absolutely right. They -- (inaudible) -- this would be a disincentive to talent and that it would be refused on Wall Street. However, they're now saying, you know, they are going to have to live with it. And I'm -- he's going to sign the bill.

SEN. GRAHAM: And the reason -- the reason that we're doing things about CEOs, like Chuck has described, is because people were burned on TARP I. And the big loss of this bill is it's not going down well with the public. I think it missed its mark in terms of stimulating the economy. It grew the government more than stimulating the economy. It's going to be hard for us to go back after this bill to ask for more money for housing and banking.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: But do you think that's going to be absolutely essential? Secretary Geithner, when you were --

(Cross talk.)


MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: -- would not say how much more would be needed for the banks.

SEN. GRAHAM: I know $315 billion is not enough to deal with the toxic assets and jump-start housing.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: How much more is needed?

SEN. GRAHAM: You know, some people tell me over a half a -- half a trillion dollars. And after this exercise of TARP I and now the stimulus bill, it makes it harder for everybody here to go back to the public and say, please give us more money, because we seem irresponsible.

There are things in this bill that make the public want to throw up. They know it doesn't create a job. It just creates more government. And we blew it.

REP. WATERS: I don't see anything in this bill that would make anybody want to throw up. This was exciting --

SEN. GRAHAM: Changing welfare rules in this bill?

REP. WATERS: The welfare rules were not changed in this bill. As a matter of fact --

(Cross talk.)

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: It does relieve some work requirements, doesn't it?

REP. KING: Work requirements and also total benefits.

SEN. GRAHAM: Doubling the size of --

(Cross talk.)

REP. KING: And it also takes out the verification of illegal immigrants.

(Cross talk.)

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Congresswoman Waters, finish --

REP. WATERS: Yes. What this bill does is give tax breaks to 95 percent of American workers. We've had tax breaks from the previous administration for the richest 1 percent in America. Now the American workers are going to get a break.

When you couple these tax breaks along with the jobs that are going to be created in the infrastructure, you're going to have not only people who have been losing jobs back in the workplace, but we're going to save jobs and keep businesses from laying off people. This is exciting and this gives hope. This is a beginning. This is a long-term investment --

SEN. GRAHAM: If I may --

REP. WATERS: -- in our economy.

(Cross talk.)

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: -- Congressman King?

REP. KING: The Congressional Budget Office says over the period of 10 years it's going to deflate gross domestic product and bring down wages. So you voted for a bill that's going to bring down --


REP. KING: -- workers' wages under the guise of making people feel good in the short term.

SEN. SCHUMER: I just want to say this. Every one -- every one of the 435 House members and 100 senators can find some provisions they don't like in this bill. Ninety-five percent of this bill -- 98 percent does three things: creates of preserves jobs, builds infrastructure, and puts money into the pockets of the middle class.

You know, there's a time for quibbling and there's a time for coming together. This was a time -- President Obama reached out to a large number of people -- this was a time to come together.

And, you know, I am disappointed. When George Bush proposed his program, it was all tax cuts, not one single investment program. We all voted for it --

REP. WATERS: That's right.

SEN. SCHUMER: -- because we thought the country had to come together.

REP. KING: That's --

SEN. SCHUMER: We could have said, Peter, it didn't have this; it didn't have that. This was a time to come together.

REP. KING: This isn't quibbling, though. We're talking about serious differences.

SEN. GRAHAM: Well, why didn't we? Why didn't we?

REP. KING: And we're talking about bipartisanship. House Republicans were not allowed at the table. They were not allowed any input whatsoever into the formation of this bill or changing the bill in any way.

SEN. GRAHAM: A $1.1 trillion debt passed onto the next generation is something to quibble about. The tax provisions that would have created jobs were gutted. The Isakson amendment was gutted. It was a $15,000 refundable tax credit --

SEN. SCHUMER: You didn't vote for the bill.

(Cross talk.)


SEN. GRAHAM: Well, okay, so --

(Cross talk.)

SEN. SCHUMER: He didn't vote for the bill when it was in there.

SEN. GRAHAM: -- so you punish the taxpayer? You punish the person trying to buy a home?

SEN. SCHUMER: No, no, we're going to get a better provision.

SEN. GRAHAM: The carry loss back provision for business was $67 billion in the Senate. The compromise version was $4 billion. The tax provisions that would have created jobs were replaced by spending. Four hundred dollar checks goes to the consumer. It's about $8 in a check -- in a pay period. We tried this last year. That's not going to create any jobs.

REP. WATERS: That's only one portion of this bill.

SEN. GRAHAM: That's most of the tax cuts.

REP. WATERS: No, it's not all of the tax cuts.

(Cross talk.)

SEN. SCHUMER: And let me say one other thing.

SEN. GRAHAM: You gutted the tax provisions for business.

SEN. SCHUMER: On the floor of the Senate -- where there was an open process, Peter -- but on the floor of the Senate, I heard over and over again, this is a trillion dollars that we're not paying for it. I never heard that mentioned when it came to the Iraq war, which is $1 trillion which we're not paying for. I never heard it mentioned when George Bush changed a surplus of $300 billion into a deficit of over $800 billion.

(Cross talk.)

SEN. SCHUMER: So -- so all of a sudden, all of a sudden --

(Cross talk.)

SEN. SCHUMER: -- the reason to be against this is deficit spending. But when it was Iraq war or tax cuts for the highest-income people, we never heard it.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I think we heard a lot of different reasons to be against it, and I want to move on to the banks.

(Cross talk.)

REP. KING: -- Iraq war, too, Chuck.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to move on to the banks because this is the next big issue coming.

SEN. GRAHAM: This is a big issue.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: And, you know, what we're seeing is many more economists that -- as I talked about, Secretary Geithner's plan had several different elements, setting up a new public-private partnership to buy these toxic assets, new capital injections to the bank, didn't say how much money would be required, a new stress test for the banks, but we all saw that reaction in the markets.

Now, they may have reacted about it because they didn't get what they were hoping for, which was a big bailout. But a lot of economists now are saying that what is really -- what could be needed, is, bite the bullet, nationalization.

Nouriel Roubini, one of the men who saw the crisis coming said nationalization is the answer in today's Washington Post. President Obama says no.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From tape.) Sweden has a different set of cultures in terms of how the government relates to markets, you know, and -- and America's different. And we want to retain a strong sense of private capital fulfilling the core investment needs of this country.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Congresswoman Waters, Mr. Roubini and others say we're all Swedes now, that we should just do what they did when they faced their crisis.

They nationalized the banks, and they came out of it okay.

REP. WATERS: Well, George, as you know, the word "nationalization" scares the hell out of people. And so the debate has been opened up now, and that's good. Let's talk about it.

We know that, as we have this capital infusion into these banks, we're owning more and more of them. Citibank is probably almost nationalized with the amount of money that we've put in it. But I don't think that we are ready to move to the point of a formalized nationalized banking program yet.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Even if it's the only thing that will work?

REP. WATERS: Well, we may get to that point, and I'm not opposed to that. But I think the discussion is just opening up. This is new for America.

REP. KING: Yes, I think this is probably going to slow down the tempo of your show. I think this is some place where we really should try to work together. I actually worked with Chuck on TARP I.


REP. KING: This is a very, very critical issue. And so let's see what Geithner is going to propose. I wish he had been a little more specific this week. But, you know, I assume that's going to come out soon. And we really have to --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: But as you learned more about what he proposed, were you more comfortable with it?

REP. KING: I'm comfortable with Geithner. I know he didn't pay his taxes; I know all those issues. But the fact is he is a very smart guy. He understands the issues. And I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt upfront to at least get the debate going and get it on the table.

SEN. GRAHAM: The -- the reason I did vote for him is because I -- I talked with Chuck and Pete. He has a good reputation, I think, as a smart guy. I think if you put most of our major banks under a stress test, they're going to fail. And this idea --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: And this stress test is starting this week.

SEN. GRAHAM: Yes, this idea of nationalizing banks is not comfortable, but I think we have gotten so many toxic assets spread throughout the banking and financial community throughout the world that we're going to have to do something that no one ever envisioned a year ago, no one likes, but, to me, banking and housing are the root cause of this problem. And I'm very much afraid that any program to salvage the bank is going to require the government to get --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: So what would you do now?

SEN. GRAHAM: I -- I would not take off the idea of nationalizing the banks.

REP. WATERS: We've come a long way --

SEN. SCHUMER: Let me just say this. George Bush, a very conservative president, had more government intervention in the financial system than any president in history. But I would not be for nationalizing. I think government's not good at making these decisions as to who gets loans and how this happens.

I think the Geithner plan, despite the fact that the market was disappointed it didn't have details -- and I think that was just bad signaling -- is a very good plan. And I think, when the details are learned --

(Cross talk.)


SEN. SCHUMER: I'm going to explain why. When the details are learned, people are going to like it. First, it's bold and big. This idea of dying a death of 1,000 cuts -- this bank is in trouble, we deal with that, this company is in trouble -- no. You saw headlines in newspapers, $2.5 trillion when you add in the Fed and everything else, even though it's only using the TARP money that we have.

Second, he doesn't go for the mistake, I think, that Secretary Paulson made, one-size-fits-all. Every bank needs capital injections. Every bank -- or every bank needs bad assets taken off their balance sheets.

Rather, he says, we have four basic tools. We're going to examine each bank that has trouble and see which policy meets their needs. Sometimes it'll be capital injections. Sometimes it'll be bad assets. Sometimes it'll be something else. That makes sense.

But the third thing which people always discount is this TALF. The TALF goes around Wall Street and gets right to the buyers.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: It's the Federal Reserve using their own capital.

SEN. SCHUMER: It's the Federal Reserve using its own capital to bolster the lending markets, and they're going to go right to the consumer. They're going to look at credit card loans. They're going to look at home loans. They're going to look at auto loans, which are now -- you can't get a car loan, even if you have a good credit rating.

(Cross talk.)

SEN. SCHUMER: And they're going to look -- they're going to look at small business loans. Now, this worked when they did it for two smaller areas, commercial paper and interbank lending. They're now going to talk about that on a broad basis --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: So let me -- let me --

SEN. SCHUMER: -- and that should get the economy kick-started.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me see if we have something of a consensus here. If I'm hearing correctly -- and do correct me if I'm not -- is that it sounds like you have a consensus here to give Geithner a chance. Let's see if these stress tests will work. But if not, it sounds like everyone except Senator Schumer is open to a much more radical infusion of --

(Cross talk.)

REP. KING: I hate to say, I think Chuck and I are somewhat on the same page here on this. And Lindsey and Maxine are almost on the same page, which -- I don't know what this means about the world.

SEN. GRAHAM: You may have to edit this program.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: A new kind of bipartisanship.

(Cross talk.)

REP. KING: I'm sure -- I'm sure President -- I'm sure President Obama is watching this show this morning. I would just urge him not to repeat what happened with the stimulus bill. If everyone is at the table early on, I think you can see a chance for real progress.

SEN. SCHUMER: And, you know, let me just say --

(Cross talk.)

REP. WATERS: So, you know, Chuck, I have to say that I would like to see a lot more details from Geithner.

SEN. SCHUMER: There will be.

REP. WATERS: And I am absolutely focused on the foreclosure problem. We have to dedicate a significant amount of that money to dealing with these foreclosures.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to see that from the president this week, right, $50 billion to reduce the -- the cost for most homeowners who are facing trouble.

SEN. SCHUMER: Right. Although, you know, on that one --

REP. WATERS: That's right.

SEN. SCHUMER: -- I would try to move it up to $100 billion.

REP. WATERS: Easily.

SEN. SCHUMER: I agree that the housing area is the key to this.

REP. WATERS: It's the epicenter.

SEN. SCHUMER: And dealing with it -- the one thing I think they're going to do in housing, which I think is pretty good, is they're going to focus a little more on the servicer and the bondholder and use some sticks, as well as some carrots --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: And so they're going to get --

SEN. SCHUMER: -- and get them to the table.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: And get them to the table and have them write down the mortgages so no one is paying more than 31 percent of their income. Makes sense to you?

SEN. GRAHAM: Yes, it does. And that's why I put $20-something billion in the bill for the FDIC to do that. If you don't stabilize housing, you're never going to fix this problem. The way you stabilize housing is you try to get control of foreclosures.

REP. WATERS: That's right.

SEN. GRAHAM: You try to stop the bleeding of the housing market.

REP. WATERS: That's right.

SEN. GRAHAM: That's why you needed the full Isakson amendment to get excess inventory. You've got a huge inventory problem. You've got foreclosures that have to be dealt with. And that goes back to banks.

I think we've done too little, too late. I think the TARP opportunity was a missed opportunity. We've soured the public on bailouts. This bill makes it harder for all of us to come together and get another $500 billion.

So the country needs to understand this puzzle: banking, housing, and general economy. The general economy will never prove -- improve until you do something about credit and banking and housing. And we've just scratched the surface to the major problem this country faces. So taking an idea off the table no matter how --

(Cross talk.)

SEN. SCHUMER: Let me just say --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me just say, you put one other idea on the table. You think it's going to take another $500 billion that hasn't been asked for yet --

SEN. GRAHAM: I've been to the Budget Committee --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: -- for the banks?

SEN. GRAHAM: -- and they tell me that $315 billion left in TARP will not isolate the toxic assets and jump-start housing.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: We're running out of time. I just want to know, do you all agree with that?

(Cross talk.)

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Is it going to take more money?

REP. WATERS: -- buy up those toxic assets. They're going to write them down to about five cents on the dollar. Get the private sector involved, and they're going to get rid of all of those toxic assets.

(Cross talk.)

SEN. GRAHAM: The banks will fail if we write them down to five cents on the dollar.

SEN. SCHUMER: I would just make one other point.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: We have five seconds.

(Cross talk.)

SEN. SCHUMER: You can have a big, bold, successful plan without nationalization. That's what the administration is trying to do.

REP. KING: And let's -- let's -- and let's try to work together on it. Let's really work together from the start and won't be repeating this what we're doing today.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: On that note, we have to stop. Thank you all for a great, great discussion.

Before we go, a quick shout out to one of your colleagues. John Dingell became the longest-serving congressman in American history this week, big celebration at the Capitol. He first won the House seat once held by his father back in 1955.

Congratulations, Congressman Dingell.


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