Nancy Pelosi on USMCA, ACA, and the climate crisis

CNBC Exclusive: CNBC Transcript: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi Speaks with CNBC‘s Jim Cramer on “Mad Money w/ Jim Cramer” Today

Nancy Pelosi

Image source: CNBC Video Screenshot

WHEN: Today, Tuesday, September 17, 2019

WHERE: CNBC’s “Mad Money w/ Jim Cramer

The following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC EXLCUSIVE interview with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and CNBC’s Jim Cramer on “Mad Money w/ Jim Cramer” (M-F 6PM – 7PM) today, Tuesday September 17th. The following is a link to video from the interview on CNBC.com:

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Cramer: Democrats 'hope to get to yes' on Trump's North American trade deal

All references must be sourced to CNBC.

JIM CRAMER: First, Madam Speaker, thank you so much for your graciousness for appearing on Mad Money. It means the world to me.

NANCY PELOSI: My pleasure to be here at Mad Money.

JIM CRAMER: Thank you. There are – lots of people are hoping in the business community that we'll get an agreement with Canada and Mexico. And that you'll go to the floor with it. Even "The Washington Post" this weekend said you've got to get along with this. But it also involves giving one of your opponents a win—President Trump. Where are we?

NANCY PELOSI: Well, first of all, when the others are saying, 'Bring it to the floor,' there is nothing to bring to the floor, yet, but we hope that we're on a path to yes. The most important issue outstanding is enforceability. If you don't have enforcement in a trade agreement here just have a nice conversation. The idea that we would give a victory to the President is irrelevant. It's a victory for the American people, what we have to do.

JIM CRAMER: Well, I think that that's a breakthrough in itself, Madam Speaker, because I know that a lot of corporate, a lot of CEOs think that this could really spur a lot of business. If it's just enforcement, so to speak, then there's sounds like a likelihood that we can get a deal.

NANCY PELOSI: Yes, I hope so. Here's the thing, I self-voted for the first NAFTA.

JIM CRAMER: Right.

NANCY PELOSI: I took a lot of heat from a lot of quarters for doing so. And I admit, I had some disappointment about its enforceability. So now, we've made some progress on some of the issues in the provisions in the -- in the agreement. But, we have to have -- its, it doesn't even count if it isn't enforceable. Enforceable for America's working families. Enforceable in terms of the environment and issues that relate to pharmaceutical drugs. Issues like that.

But I'm optimistic. We've been working very diligently to get to yes in a timely way. But until we do there is nothing to bring to the floor.

JIM CRAMER: Are you the Democrat, leading Democrat that has the best relationship with the President because you're practical?

NANCY PELOSI: Oh, I don't know if anybody has a good relationship with the President. But he is the President of the United States and I do respect the office that he holds. And where we can find common ground, we have an obligation to do so. Where we can't, we stand our ground.

JIM CRAMER: Right. But at the same time, he makes fun of the Democratic leader of the Senate, he makes fun of the Federal Reserve Chair, whom he picked. He doesn't make that fun of you.

NANCY PELOSI: Well, I'm a big advocate for independence of the Fed, so I don't like when he goes down that path. And I didn't like when other Democrats would go down that that in the Congress in the past. So, forgetting what he may or may not say about me from one day to the next, what's important is what he stands for and we have massive disagreement there. On the other hand, where we can find agreement, I think we have a responsibility to do so. And I'm optimistic that we can be on a path to yes. We're not there yet.

JIM CRAMER: Okay, how about China? Do you believe China is a threat to the US hegemony? Do you think that because of intellectual theft, that because of subsidization of industries that wiped out some of our industries, that tariffs might help?

NANCY PELOSI: Well, let me just say on the China question: I've been involved in this since Tiananmen Square, fighting the Chinese on human rights. But at the same time, thinking, well in terms of what 30 years ago, the trade deficit with China was $5 billion. I thought 'Oh my goodness, for $5 billion, who could use their leverage stop there violation of our intellectual property, stop the export -- get market access, stop proliferation weapons of mass destruction and free prisoners arrested time of Tiananmen Square. $5 billion a year. Corporate America. oh they fought that. I could win every vote in the Congress, I couldn't override a Presidential veto. No, you know you have it all wrong. It's all going to work out. Just peaceful evolution. You know what the trade deficit is now? Over $5 billion, a week.

JIM CRAMER: A week.

NANCY PELOSI: A week.

JIM CRAMER: Okay.

NANCY PELOSI: It went from 5 billion a year to 5 billion a week. So, we have an -- the American consumer has subsidized the growth of the middle class in, in China. They cannot be ignored. But they cannot continue to violate our trade relationship. I think the President had to do something about it. I'm not sure he went the right way. I think we should have done it multilaterally with the EU and the rest. And what I would say is, whatever path you want to take to improve a trade relationship, do not empower the other side to hurt your farmers and your consumers.

JIM CRAMER: Now, again I what I hear is that we do have to not take it for granted that the deficit with China is an okay thing. You want that changed?

NANCY PELOSI: Of course, and it shouldn't be that way. And not only is it large, it's the percentage of imports from China to exports to China from us, it's just too big.

JIM CRAMER: I wish there were an easier way. You think multinational attempt, rather, build a coalition, will be better than what's going on with the Presidential Tweets.

NANCY PELOSI: Well the, what are we doing? But right now we're having a debate in our national defense bill about do we include an increasing amount of money that we give to farmers because they're at a disadvantage? Why should our farmers have uncertainty of because of the tactic that the President used, rather than the President having an approach that shows our strength uses our leverage, but doesn't make our farmers pay the price.

JIM CRAMER: But at the same time, just to push back a bit, the Chinese have been unrelenting in taking American jobs. It's been going on for years new bit of speaker about that. Is this a way to stop it?

NANCY PELOSI: Well, it has to be. I mean, the status quo cannot continue. But I will say that, you know, there are many other ways we can work with China, whether it's climate change, issues invested. It's not a question of saying I hereby declare that all businesses should come home from China. I mean really? Really.

JIM CRAMER: Very fair. Now -- now, let me switch topics for a second. Single payer national healthcare, versus health care insurance for all. You seem to want to take a breath and say we can't break the budget. You seem to be the only person thinking about not breaking the budget. What's the right path here?

NANCY PELOSI: Well, we think the right path is the Affordable Care Act. And that is a path to healthcare for all Americans. I always say to people when we win, we can put everything on the table and see what it means in terms of benefits for the consumer, cost to them, and cost to business, to corporate America which has been a lot of the price, as well as the cost to the federal government and local government. So, I believe that to path is to healthcare for all is the path that is following the lead of the Affordable Care Act.

JIM CRAMER: When I listen to the candidates in the debate, it seems like the majority can not necessarily favor that half. Is there a way to reign people in? is there a way to say, 'Listen, we're not going to bring that in the House'?

NANCY PELOSI: Well, when we win – I anticipate that we will win the House and hopefully win the Senate and certainly win the White House, but in the course of all of that, let's use our energy to have healthcare for all Americans. And that involves -- over 150 million families have healthcare through the private sector through the insurance companies. And we don't want to empower insurance companies, but we want to empower – now, what the Affordable Care Act is it not only expanded healthcare to 20 million more Americans.

JIM CRAMER: Right.

NANCY PELOSI: It increased the benefits. No longer having an existing condition prevented you from getting health care, and no lifetime limits. No annual caps on the health coverage that you can have. It empowered – it was actually called Patient Protection Affordable Care Act. And that, I think, is the path we should go on. And I think that what is being put forth – I said, if you – if that's what you believe, God bless you. But know what it entails and what that debate would be like. But it isn't about national health care. It's about single payer.

JIM CRAMER: Okay. Now, I always say at the top of Mad Money, it's not about friends, it's about money. But we do have a mutual friend in Marc Benioff, Co-CEO and Founder of Salesforce. He believes that business, and he's got a great new book out: business has become the best platform and agent for social change. Do you agree?

NANCY PELOSI: It could be. And in Marc Benioff's case, it is. But I do think that there's much more room for us all to work together for social change. The poet Shelley said the greatest source for moral good is imagination. So, let's combine imagination with all aspects of our economy. Because we really do have to address the issue of disparity and income in our country. And as we do so, we can use our work that we are going to do to address the climate crisis. In a green way, create new jobs, be number one in the world in green technologies and the rest. But bring everyone along with that, as we go down that new path.

JIM CRAMER: Right now, we're number one in the world when it comes to digital: Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Google. There are some people in the party who believe that these companies have both violated the trust and also are quasi-monolopolies that need to be brought up by anti-trust law. How do you feel? And are these companies different? You know all of them, especially when you're from. You've had a long background in technology—

NANCY PELOSI: Yes. Yes.

JIM CRAMER: What do we do?

NANCY PELOSI: Well, first of all, I don't – I think that when you say Democrats, there's – many of these initiatives are bipartisan.

JIM CRAMER: Yes.

NANCY PELOSI: In the Congress. Whether it comes to anti-trust or it comes to privacy and the rest. And – and anything that big should be subjected to scrutiny to see if the public interest in served. And, also, if the digital interests are served. How does this – how does this serve all the benefits that could come for that, without having the consumer pay the price or the new world of technology that we're in not be advanced in a way that is the best possible way? And I think everything should be subjected to a standard that says that. Now, we have issues that relate to children and exposure and privacy issues. These are complicated issues and they have to be dealt with in a very sensitive and knowledgeable way. I don't think they are partisan, though.

JIM CRAMER: Okay. Do you think that they displace jobs, or create jobs in the mass?

NANCY PELOSI: Well, I have to hope that they – you know, I'm a big believer in technology, and tasking for what we need.

JIM CRAMER: Right.

NANCY PELOSI: And my—I believe that—because one of the fears that is out there, as you know, and that President Trump played upon is the uncertainty that America and insecurity that some of America's workers felt from innovation, from globalization, and from immigration. Fewer jobs are lost through immigration, no use going into that. Globalization is a real thing, it is a reality, it is going to happen. So, let's see how we play in that in a very positive way. And the innovation has to be – it has to play positively. But it is a decision that we have to make. That as we task for how we go forward, so that people see a place for themselves, and their families in the future.

JIM CRAMER: Okay, so what do you say to people who think that the Democratic party, or the leaders, have gone socialist versus capitalist?

NANCY PELOSI: What did you say? That the Democrat party leaders –

JIM CRAMER: The politicians who are running for President. Because I know where you stand. You are a capitalist, not a socialist.

NANCY PELOSI: Yeah, I do think that, as with everything, capitalism – its implementation, I always just say – Adam Smith actually wrote two books. One, Wealth of Nations.

JIM CRAMER: Right.

NANCY PELOSI: And another one about our responsibilities to the community, as a practical matter.

JIM CRAMER: Right.

NANCY PELOSI: As a practical matter. So, I don't know – I don't – how can I say this? With all the respect in the world for all of our Presidential candidates, and I think any one of them would be a better President of the United States in terms of integrity, etcetera, I do not support some of the policies that are being advocated. And I think that it's a discussion, it's a beautiful discussion, and that's what we should have. But we have to come together, E Pluribus Unum, that's what our founding fathers advocated.

For many, one. They didn't know how many, or how different, but they knew we had to always strive for one-ness. So, let's try to unite the country, not divide it. And that's what elections are about.

JIM CRAMER: When I went on Twitter to ask for questions for you, people – the overwhelming theme is that you are practical and you want to get something done, and that you can be the leader to do that. Too much pressure, or is that something you view yourself as?

NANCY PELOSI: Well, I do think that we have a – nothing is too much pressure for me. But I do think our founders – you know, today is the anniversary of the constitution. On September 17th, it was approved. And Benjamin Franklin, coming out of the room. They asked him 'What is it?' He said, 'It's a republic, if we can save it. If we can keep it.' And I think it is at risk, the constitution is at risk in terms of checks and balances, freedom of the press, etcetera. And so, we have to – but I think that is the unifying thing, the constitution.

At the time, our founders, Thomas Paine said: The times have found us. In the darkest days of the revolution, the times have found us to make the fight. We think the times have found us. Not – all of us. Not to put ourselves in the category of fateness of our founders, but in a sense of urgency, that we have to act in a way that unifies the country.

JIM CRAMER: Well, if you go behind doors, and negotiate, is it different from what we see on the front pages and the rhetoric?

NANCY PELOSI: The Republicans in Congress are fully subscribed to the President's agenda. So, actually, I believe that the best forum for discussion is the – is the public. Abraham Lincoln said that public sentiment is everything. With it, you can accomplish anything. Without it, practically nothing. So the public has to weigh in on some of these things.

JIM CRAMER: But you have been adamant, Look, the way that you should approach the Presidency is by election, not by impeachment. It seems that there are people in the party who would prefer impeachment. But, that I keep hearing you want to get something done.

NANCY PELOSI: Well, we are legislating. We passed many bills that are – including gun violence protection, which we're hoping the President will support. Many pieces of legislation to lower the cost of healthcare, to grow our economy, to create jobs, protect women, etcetera, net neutrality over to the Senate. They won't bring up anything. They say – Mitch McConnell says he's the grim reaper. We say, No. These bills are alive and well in the public and the public will weigh in. But, the – so, we are legislating. We're also investigating. Because we take an oath to protect and defend the constitution and we have to do that. And where necessary, we are litigating and sending it the courts. We'll follow the facts where they take us. But I do think how we do it has to be respectful and unifying.

JIM CRAMER: One last question. You seem as tireless as ever. Having the ice cream in the morning.

NANCY PELOSI: Chocolate.

JIM CRAMER: Barely sleeping.

NANCY PELOSI: Chocolate.

JIM CRAMER: Chocolate. You keeping that schedule? I mean, are there whole nights you just don't sleep? I've never seen you without energy.

NANCY PELOSI: Well it helps being Italian-American, I always say. Dark chocolate, that's my method. And a wonderful family. A wonderful husband who helps with all of it.

JIM CRAMER: Paul. Terrific guy.

NANCY PELOSI: Paul is lovely, so.

JIM CRAMER: Alright. Well, we want to thank you so much.

NANCY PELOSI: Thank you. My pleasure.

JIM CRAMER: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Just thank you for being on Mad Money. Great to see you.

NANCY PELOSI: My pleasure.




About the Author

Jacob Wolinsky
Jacob Wolinsky is the founder of ValueWalk.com, a popular value investing and hedge fund focused investment website. Prior to ValueWalk, Jacob was VP of Business Development at SumZero. Prior to SumZero, Jacob worked as an equity analyst first at a micro-cap focused private equity firm, followed by a stint at a smid cap focused research shop. Jacob lives with his wife and four kids in Passaic NJ. - Email: jacob(at)valuewalk.com - Twitter username: JacobWolinsky - Full Disclosure: I do not purchase any equities anymore to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest and because at times I may receive grey areas of insider information. I have a few existing holdings from years ago, but I have sold off most of the equities and now only purchase mutual funds and some ETFs. I also own a few grams of Gold and Silver