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MSNBC "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" - Transcript


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REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: My pleasure. Thank you.

OLBERMANN: I want to talk about the elections, obviously, but let me start with what we mentioned earlier tonight, this "New York Times" report on the Chamber of Commerce. The first--half of Chamber of Commerce donations in 2008 came from 45 donors. Half of the total of 149 million from 45 donors. It"s the nation"s largest lobbying group. It"s essentially representing a constituency in double digits. And it is all over the election without identifying who gave it its money.

Did you know the Chamber was so concentrated toward the super rich?

PELOSI: Well, it"s interesting because they have about 300,000 members. Half the money coming from 45 corporations, it"s a bigger issue. It"s about our democracy. They give new meaning to the term buy American.

They want to buy these elections.

So elections are always about the future. You know that, Keith. What is our vision for taking America forward, as the president? We"re going forward. We"re not going back. We"re fighting for the middle class.

This election is also about our democracy. If they win, which I fully intend to stop them from doing--but if they were to win, it would mean that we are now a plutocracy, an oligarchy. Whatever these few wealthy, secret, unlimited sources of money are can control our entire agenda.

OLBERMANN: Because of this Times report, we get sort of the vague outlines of who we"re dealing with. Prudential Financial, two million when the Chamber was launching its offense--the offensive against regulating Wall Street. Dow Chemical was 1.7 million as the Chamber was working against tighter regulations of chemical facilities. Similar stories for Goldman Sachs, for Chevron, Texaco, for Edward Jones Brokerage.

How do we fix our laws after that Supreme Court decision, so that we"re no longer prey to companies that are blocking our attempts to improve this country?

PELOSI: First, let me just say, as you read those names, it"s clear that there are those on Wall Street who want to block the Wall Street reform, some of the greatest reforms in decades and for consumer protections, the biggest in our nation"s history. There are those who want to stop our creating good, clean energy jobs. You see that energy and chemical companies who want to stop that.

They have an agenda that is counter to the reforms that we have put forth. What we have to do is say to them, stand by your ad. You"re so proud of yourself, identify yourself. That"s what the Disclose Act in Congress would have done. We passed it in the House. There are 59 votes in the Senate. We couldn"t get one Republican to say disclosure is the right thing to do.

The court made a terrible decision. It was contrary to the fundamentals of our democracy. But at least people should be able to know where this money is coming from.

OLBERMANN: Obviously the first step towards that is getting this message out. You"ve spoken extensively about it. The president has spoken extensively about it. We"ve reported about it whenever there was something new and worthwhile to report. Has the message gotten? Has the message gotten through in time for the mid-terms?

PELOSI: First, let me say, the president mentioned this in the State of the Union Address. So this goes back a long way. That was very, I think, important for him to do. He, again, has kept that beat going, because it is essential and fundamental to our democracy that we not have it be wholly owned subsidiary of these corporations, and as part of the Chamber of Commerce.

But as far as the message coming through, our members who are getting hit seven to one, just brutal in terms of negative ads that are going out there. And I might add, some of them--one of these secret organizations is asking the Hispanic community not to vote, to depress the vote. And the impact of some of these ads--they"re so on negative--is to depress the vote.

Again, this is a real challenge to our democracy. And members are getting the word forward. But it"s important to make the link. It"s not just that Wall Street is contributing to whatever political beliefs they have. They want to stop Wall Street reform. The Republicans have been very clear. If they take office, they will not allow funding to go forth to implement new reforms.

Same thing with energy companies. Same thing with health insurance companies. The list goes on and on. So you have to make the link. Not only the way--what did I see today, that perhaps seven million dollars was contributed by the Swift Boaters?

OLBERMANN: To Rove"s PAC, yes.

PELOSI: To Rove"s PAC. Again, we have a distortion of our democratic system. So this is not just an election about our future. It"s an election about our future and our democracy.

OLBERMANN: In this election, will there be a political upset on November 2nd? And how would you define upset?

PELOSI: Let me say that I have always thought that remain calm. I"d rather be in our position than the Republicans" position. Our members are battle ready. They believe in what they voted for. They"re proud of it. They"re fighting for it. They"ve all come--the ones who are under challenge have come from very difficult districts. So they know how to win those districts.

I hearken back to "06 when we took the House. The president was in the 30s. President Bush was in the 30s. The war in Iraq was raging and a very big issue among the voters. And we won 30 seats. In order for the Republicans to take the House, they have to win 40-some seats. I just think it"s a big hurdle.

I think we"re in a better position. We have the candidates. We have the issues. We have the grassroots. The only place--we would have won. The reason they came in big with this money is they knew we were going to win.

OLBERMANN: It"s the great leveler, yes.

PELOSI: They come in and deluge, drown out the voices of the American people. But we have to fight. I believe that we will win.

OLBERMANN: Do you see the backlash in a lot of the House races that has been apparent in the Senate races to exactly the things we"re talking about, this money coming in, the secret money? Do you see in your--either just by feel of touch and experience that there is a blowback against that that is favoring the Democrats, because people are beginning to realize that the Republicans are funded by shadowy groups, perhaps with international money, or at minimum with anonymous money?

PELOSI: Secret money. Yes, but the--but it"s also important to note is that when Washington was stirring all of this in July and during the August break--when our members came back after the August break, they said this is more a Washington story. This is not what we"re seeing in our districts. Our districts are very difficult. They always have been. Some of those districts that we won, President Obama only got about 35 percent. So--one district in Maryland, he got under 30 percent.

So these are difficult districts. They were not minimizing the challenge that was there. They just said, some of us have Tea Party, some don"t. But they"re not really that big a factor in our district.

Again, they"re ready for the fight out there to do so. Yes, 70 percent of the American people who know about these undisclosed, unlimited, unidentified ads, say it"s not right. If more people know about it, the better. And when it is linked to stopping Wall Street reform, stopping health care reform, stopping clean energy jobs for the future.

OLBERMANN: Give me a moment, if you can. I"d like to take a quick commercial break and then come back and ask you about the former president, Mr. Bush, who emerged from the shadows to sort of unintentionally prove your party"s point about Republicans and the economy regarding Social Security.


OLBERMANN: Stand by. We"ll continue.


OLBERMANN: There is one thing for which Democrats might want to thank George W. Bush. His presidency played a great part in bringing Congressional Democrats back to power four years ago, and in widening Democratic majority two years ago, and Nancy Pelosi became the first woman in American history to take the gavel as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Speaker Pelosi rejoins us now.

The former president spoke in Chicago today. He said his greatest failure as president was not passing, as he called it, Social Security reform. The softball is headed your way. You can pick which favorite member of the San Francisco Giants you would like to pretend to be as you swing on it. Please give me your response to that.

PELOSI: I thank the president for validating the point that we made during the campaign, because when we were saying that the president initiated the idea that he wanted to privatize Social Security, people said we were exaggerating; we were fear mongers and the rest. It wasn"t really so. We stayed our course.

He gave us a gift then and he"s the gift that keeps on giving. He"s giving us a gift now. He"s proving the point. That"s what he intended to do. I remember during the course of that campaign, I was speaking with him at one of our leadership breakfasts. I said, Mr. President, I understand you"re going to 60 cities in I don"t know how many days to talk about your welfare reform. I want you to go to 120, because when we go there, we will be inoculating before you get there, educating after you leave, and making the distinction that Social Security as a pillar of our security for our seniors and American people.

We will make that differentiation. You know, after it was over and we won, I said, Mr. President, the results are in. He said, actually, I achieved my goal. I really wanted to call attention to the situation.

OLBERMANN: OK. Well, he also has provided something else during this campaign. Perhaps there"s been a lot of criticism that the Democrats did not take--obviously, the House doesn"t operate in a vacuum. But the Democrats did not take advantage over this--what the polling suggested was a winning position, Bush tax cuts for the rich and if you want to call them Democratic tax cuts for everybody else. Yet, the House adjourned without having a vote on this. Why did you--to the degree that you let that happen, why did you let that happen?

PELOSI: We could have taken the vote and we would have known. But knowing the distortion that the Republicans would have applied to that, I said, they"re going to be political. We"re not giving it. We know what our position is. By the way, it"s a tax cut for everyone. It"s just not an additional tax cut for the people at the top two percent in our country.

Everybody gets the tax cut, they just don"t get more at the top two percent. So knowing how they would distort it, the president"s clear in his campaign, the president"s clear in his message about that.

It would cost 700 billion dollars to give an extra tax cut to the people at the top, the top two percent. Seven hundred billion dollars added to the deficit with no performance. In other words, when that happened before, it did not produce jobs.

OLBERMANN: Obviously.

PELOSI: Speaking of jobs, I want to say--because I think everybody should know that in the first eight months of 2010, did you know, more private sector jobs were created under the Obama administration, Democratic Congress, and the ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit of the American people--more private sector jobs were created in the first eight months of 2010 than in the eight years of the Bush administration?

OLBERMANN: Let me close with this last question: do you expect to be Speaker of the House in January 2011?

PELOSI: The democrats intend to win. What"s important is that we have a Democratic majority to protect what we have done, something very big, health care for all Americans as a right, not a privilege, Wall Street reform, to give more leverage to working families in our country, affordability for college education.

They want to reverse this. And our Democratic victory will prevent that. It"s about the future. It"s about moving America forward, not going back to the failed policies of the past, which they said they would do, the same exact agenda. Now it"s about saving our democracy from those who want to buy it.

OLBERMANN: Indeed. The speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, always greatest thanks to you for doing that. Safe travels in the next 12 days.

PELOSI: Thank you very much.


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