CNBC transcript: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Speaks with CNBC’s Jim Cramer on “Squawk on the Street” today on reopening the economy, providing support to small businesses , World Health Organization, CDC and more.
WHEN: Today, Wednesday, April 29, 2020
WHERE: CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street”
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi On World Health Organization Reopening The Economy And Providing Support To Small Businesses
JIM CRAMER: With us now, on the emergency funding package and the path forward to re-opening the economy is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Madam Speaker, welcome back to the show.
NANCY PELOSI: Good to be back.
JIM CRAMER: Where are we, in terms of your level of confidence, that as we open the country, we will not get in trouble and be right back to where we were? Because not that much has really changed in terms of masks, in terms of contact tracing, in terms of testing. So, are you confident right now?
NANCY PELOSI: Well, the polls show that the American people are wiser than anyone, overwhelmingly, 6 to 1, 7 to 1, they say that we should not go out there any sooner than ready, and that we should not end the social distancing, because of the risk involved to their health. Even though – we operate in three categories: one, the lives out American people, two the livelihood of the American people. Not in any particular order, but the lives come first. And then, third, the lives of our democracy. As we go forward, all of these are connected. All of these are connected. And the people’s will to say I’m not going -- I don’t want to go out there until I feel some confidence. Because when you go out there, you bring home what you bring back to your family and your children. So, science, science, science. Again, we have to have a calibration.
It has to be factually-based, scientifically evidence-based, as to what the prospect is of opening up certain businesses and the rest. But we have to be very careful, because we’re going to waste the investment we’ve already made, keeping keeping people safe at home, say home shelter, whatever you want to call it. And, again, as we engage in distance-learning, telemedicine, buying things online and all the rest, we have to also respect that there are many people who are risking their lives to save lives, and their jobs may be lost if we don’t do the state and local. That is essential to both lives, the livelihood and the life of our democracy.
JIM CRAMER: Madam Speaker, as I listen to some of the changes you’re talking about, telemedicine, staying at home, I think, Okay. We’re in a world where people who are healthy, people who have jobs, contracts, they can stay at home. I see an other world. I see the possibility of two societies developing. A society that has to be out there every day in the masses, subways, risking themselves. And this other group of people safe at home with all sorts of computers, very rich. A society that is not what you and I want to see. How do we prevent that?
NANCY PELOSI: Well, let us do it all together. This is a moment of truth for our country about who we are. What is the humanity of America? We wanted to support the small businesses, they are the vitality of our economy, the dreams that people have, the entrepreneurship, the risk they’re willing to take for an idea. And so, that’s why we all gathered and wrote the PPP for that, so that we can try to reach as many people as possible for their jobs and their businesses. But that was not being done in a way that reached the underbanked and the rest to address your disparity issues. And in our second bill we were very proud to be able to do that as we increased funding for hospitals and testing essential to how soon we can open up. But the -- if you gave everyone in America, every child in America, a laptop, he or she may still not have access, or seniors or anyone, but thinking about the kids and school and the rest, if they don’t have service. So, one of the things we’d like to see, as we go forward, is that we will have funding for broadband always on, high speed, all over America. Because kids now, if they have a laptop, they can’t go to a library or a school or a cafe of any place in order to have access to the network. So that is a -- that digital divide is now becoming a digital chasm and we have to really address that. So, there are many disparities, whether it’s access to testing and health care that would go with that, whether it’s access to credit, which is why we try to connect in the other bill, when there’s access to the internet, which is our means of communication. And also, if it’s respect for the postal service, which is for many of these people, and especially largely in rural areas, as well as urban, how they get their medicines or their products that they’ve ordered and the rest. So, we have to understand what connects us as a country, what unifies as a country. And I’m very confident that when people realize the assault that this has made, not only the health, the lives of the people and the livelihood of the people but to the sense of community of who we are as a country, we’ll have an opportunity to do something working together, recognizing the role that every aspect of our society plays in it. The public sector, private sector, et cetera. The public sector, when we do our bill, state and local, that really means honor our heroes, our health care workers, our first responders, our transit people, our food delivery services, food providers in every way, postal service, the list goes on and on.
JIM CRAMER: Madam Speaker, one of the things that I think we have to address is the unemployment is going to be here whether the Fed backs this or Treasury backs or all that, isn’t it time for a modern peace corp., is it time for civilian conservation corp., where we plant millions of trees, something that puts younger people to work? Because I think it’s going to be a staggering number of younger people who are unemployed soon.
NANCY PELOSI: Well, we do need that. And it’s a beautiful idea. Thank you for giving it more currency. We need to have that actually do the testing, the next step, the contact tracing. So, we need an army of people to do that. And it’s job creating. We also need, on the ongoing, as a public health corp., as we go into the future. We also need to ramp up, because suppose, Jim, that tomorrow someone will have a vaccine or someone will have a cure, we’re not prepared to manufacture it in our country. So, we have to focus on saying, we need the supply chain and we need the decision that we will make as much of it as possible in America. This is a worldwide pandemic. If somebody has a cure elsewhere, they’re going to treat their own people first. We have to be prepared to start here. But again, we could start right now. if somebody has a vaccine very soon, we don’t have the ability, the viles, the syringes and the rest to even make that happen for us. It’ll take a year to do 100 million syringes and viles and the rest. Let’s get moving on it now. Have more entities working on it, shorten the time, increase the supply. So, we need to have, as you suggested, a corp. to do what is needed at the time, the manufacturing and the supply chain here. And then we have to have the integrity, the ethical basis for how this would be distributed later, so that everyone in our country, regardless, as you started the conversation, so values-based and so beautifully, everyone in our country would know that he or she would have the same access to whatever that cure or that vaccine might be, whether they’re poor, whatever their ethnicity, however they got here, whatever it is, as well as those in a position to pay for it and know more about how to get it. It’s about outreach. Whether it’s outreach to the vaccine, outreach to the care, outreach to the credit, we all have to be unified in this. Because it not only is the right thing to do, it’s what’s going to make everything better for our country, our health, the health of our economy and democracy.
JIM CRAMER: Madam Speaker, thank you for those kind words. In this budget, I think that CDC is woefully underfunded. I don’t know what’s happening to OSHA, particularly when it comes to meat packing plants where people are still exposed and have to go to work. Quickly, trying to understand, where is our Manhattan Project, where is taking the J&Js and the Pfizers and getting them together so it’s not just working against eachother, I’m trying to figure out what the CDC’s role is here? And what happened to the CDC? We used to know that as the number one health care organization in the world. They’re not delivering, Madam Speaker.
NANCY PELOSI: Well, I’m not pleased. But you have to know even in the face of this pandemic earlier this see, the administration cut -- made very serious cuts to the CDC. Even in light of this happening. And so, they have not -- they said in the beginning they rejected the World Health Organization tests, they said they were going to make their own. They made their own, they didn’t work. It set us back a few weeks. The outreach that they should have been doing out there curtailed because of the cuts that the administration made, already knowing that the pandemic was here.
So, that has to be a very vital force. The Center for Disease Control is the main prevention and outreach organization in our government. And they work closely with the World Health Organization exchanging ideas, scientists, clinical knowledge and all the rest. And yet now the White House is saying we’re not going to fund the World Health Organization. That’s horrible. But even worse is that they’re racing World Health Organization from any of our initiatives that we’re not going to cooperate with them. It’s a pandemic. It knows no borders. Even if you don’t like an institution, you have to recognize that it’s in the interest of every person in our country for the World Health Organization to succeed.
Especially in the southern hemisphere now, where there’s an opportunity to stop it from spreading like wildfire, if we’re thinking in more, shall we say, global terms. It’s personal, it impacts everyone’s life, it’s local, it’s community, it’s economy, it’s society, it’s global, it’s worldwide. You don’t want me to go into my disappointments about this administration. But I will say, a long time ago, Dr. Fauci said, if we learn from our mistakes, we may be able to make more success. I think the mistakes continue to be made, that’s my concern. But let’s put that there. Let’s go forward with legislation that brings people together in a way that saves lives, grows the economy, and protects our democracy.
JIM CRAMER: Madam Speaker, thank you so much for coming on our show. Great to see you.
NANCY PELOSI: Good to see you again. I wish it were under other circumstances. Take care. Stay safe.