he following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with Senator Liz Warren and CNBC’s Jim Cramer on CNBC’s “Mad Money w/ Jim Cramer” (M-F 6PM – 7PM) today, Thursday, March 12th. The following is a link to video of the interview on CNBC.com.
JIM CRAMER: Senator Warren, welcome back to Mad Money.
LIZ WARREN: Thank you. It’s good to be here.
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JIM CRAMER: Alright, Senator, the scale of this is pretty much beyond actually the can of most people in America. You’re offering some specific proposals. What I’d like to hear are what are the ones that you think need to be done now in order to preserve the health, safety, and welfare of the American people?
LIZ WARREN: Well, you start this in the right place. Because the first thing we have to think about is the health of the American people. And that means right now, we need to guarantee that we’re ramping up on the testing and making testing available for this virus. And that it will be available free to everyone. Because we want people to get tested.
We should also guarantee right now that as soon as a vaccine is developed it will be available free to everyone. Because we want everyone to get vaccination. And we should guarantee right now that there will be a pot of money available to cover everyone who has to miss work for a day or several days, either because they have the virus or because they’re taking care of someone who has the virus. Those are good for all of us in terms of our health and reduce the amount of contagion. They are also good for us economically. So, that’s where I start every part of this.
Beyond that, it is time now to be thinking about a big stimulus package. Look, we’ve just seen what happened with the market’s closing. We need to show that we have a government that understands the scale of this problem and understands that the approach to it is to get money – not to generally hose down the economy–but to get it down into the hands of the people who will put down at the grassroots level and help support this economy from the ground up. So, that’s the basic approach.
JIM CRAMER: Senator, it does, and I see that you’ve added it to your proposal, I can’t agree with you more about the size. Something that really sticks out to me – ‘low or no interest loans to companies of all sizes that have negatively been affected by the coronavirus.’ So, if I keep my workers on my payroll, I can get a no-interest loan even if I’m not getting any people, no customers in, I can keep paying them because of those loans.
LIZ WARREN: Exactly. And you’ve put it exactly right. This is not saying we’re going to lend the money out no strings attached. It’s that you’ve got to keep the people on your payroll. That keeps money in the economy. And if you’ll do that, we’ll keep lending you the money to see us past this crisis moment. That will help the economy, in multiple ways, keep these businesses open. So that when people are venturing out again and we are putting money in from the other direction, so people have got money in their hands, so people are still earning their paychecks, they’ll have open stores to come to and goods to buy. This keeps the circle going and that’s what we want to do in this economy.
JIM CRAMER: There’s another group of people who have been disenfranchised by the rising costs of higher education. Student loans have been such a burden to people, I know its sacrilegious to ever talk about it, but I think at this time it’s the time for sacrilegious. Student loan debt cancellation. Tell us about it.
LIZ WARREN: Yup. So, look, here’s the basic idea, is I want to put this issue on the table. Think about how we get money into the hands of the people who need it most and who will spend it quickly. Because that’s what you want. You want real velocity of this money. And we know that if we can relieve this burden for young people, $600 a month you’re not having to spend over the next 3 months on your student loan debt, think about what that means, it makes it much easier on the student and it’s just like, it’s just like giving them cash.
It means money that they can put back into the economy. And it’s a perfect place to put it in. Notice the two places I want to balance this out is are with students, which tends dis-proportionally to be young people, although, there are people in their 40s, 50s, 60s and on who are still dealing with student loan debt. But disproportionally, young people.
In addition, I think we should be increasing social security payments and disability payments. My proposal is increase it $200 a month. Agree to do it for at least for a year. That guarantees people more money coming in. And there’s a great paper out by Christy Romer–I hope you take a look at it–that shows money that going into the hands of social security recipients is money that is going straight back into the economy. And that’s what we want to see.
JIM CRAMER: I’m familiar with that. You’re absolutely right. It’s empirical. Now Senator, how about something everyone in this country, every company at various times, right now, has to pay the government. This is a time where you have to take money that you have and give it to the government. What would you think about the government doing a gigantic, say a $500 billion treasury offering, the rates are very low, and making it so that we can take a break? Maybe it’s a 60-day break, where no one has to pay the government because it’s running on that money. Too crazy? Too right? Given this national emergency, don’t we want that?
LIZ WARREN: So, here’s my concern about that, Jim. I like the scale you think in – but here’s my concern. It dis proportionally goes to people with more money.
JIM CRAMER: True.
ELIZABETH WARREN: And the problem is we all know that in a crisis when you’re trying to boost the economy and stimulate the economy, putting more money into pockets of people who already have a lot of money does not increase the number of pizzas they buy, does not keep them out buying consumer goods. Putting that same amount of money into the hands of people who are living closer to the economic margins – like people who are dealing with student loan debt or people who are living on disability payments or social security – that’s how that money make its faster back into the economy. So, if you assume, we’re only going to spend a certain amount of money here, I’d much rather see us target it, rather than an across the board that disproportionately advantages rick folks.
JIM CRAMER: You’re absolutely right, Senator Warren. I guess I am trying to think as big as you are. I do believe that you’ve got commonsensical ideas. Now, I know you have not – you have been critical of the administration. And I think that’s absolutely in the purview of everyone. But I have to say, the things that you’re mentioning are things that any Republican or any Democrat should find as common sense. Do you think there can be common ground or are you just too far apart from the president?
LIZ WARREN: You know, I hope there can be. When we see today–just what we’ve seen today–the number of–increased number of deaths, the number of people who have been diagnosed, concerns in communities all across this country where we’re starting to close schools, shutting down events, museums are closed, sporting’s games are shutting down, the Boston marathon may be postponed for several months, that as we’re watching this, at the same time that the stock market is dropping, as you all talk about, and the economic impact is beginning to shake the foundations of the economy, I hope that means that in Washington we can set aside the politics and actually come together for the health and security of this country.
JIM CRAMER: I think your commonsensical view will allow that. I know that you still have not chosen who you will support for President. If it was this issue, which is an issue that is of ultimate importance to this country – who do you think could handle it better?
ELIZABETH WARREN: Right now, I’m pushing the Trump administration to do a better job. That’s the urgency of this moment.
JIM CRAMER: I like your answer.
LIZ WARREN: And that’s what we need to do. So, let’s talk about what we could do tomorrow. Because that’s what we need to do.
JIM CRAMER: And I so appreciate you coming on with common sense ideas to help the American worker who is the most exposed. And also, for telling me that my proposal does advantage the rich too much. Because, you know what? We need to be told things like that. I needed that, too. Thanks for coming on Mad Money.