MSNBC Interview - Transcript


Q Joining us now is Republican congressman from Virginia, Eric Cantor, who is part of the group that is proposing an alternative.

And Congressman, first of all, on Reid's point, do you know what John McCain's position is on the proposal that was negotiated by the Bush administration and Senate Democrats and Republicans?

REP. CANTOR: Well, first of all, David, I want to say that was a cheap shot taken by Leader Reid. John McCain has come back to town. He's come back to town to see if we can make sure that a deal is done as quickly as possible.

He has stated over and again that he is aware, and is talking with lawmakers, of the importance of our job to get something done quickly. He's also aware of the consequences of our inaction and that's why he's in town.

John McCain has a long history of working in this town, bringing people on both sides of the aisle together to provide solutions. That's exactly --

Q Well, let's break this down then: Does John McCain support your alternative?

REP. CANTOR: Well, David, what I was saying is first of all, John McCain in his statement has said that he supports making sure that we protect the taxpayers first. And make sure that the taxpayers, who've been living by the rules, are not the ones who pay the tab for this. And instead, we should be looking at talking about other options.

Now, in our plan that is on the table, frankly, is a plan that provides a component of insurance -- of government insurance to some of the asset classes that have these mortgages in them in which we are able to predict their performance. Those classes of assets should be addressed by a government insurance program where the owners of the assets pay first. We shouldn't be --

Q But Congressman, on that very point -- the issue of the insurance program -- that came up at the White House meeting and both Bernanke and Paulson said it won't work!

REP. CANTOR: Well, again, to say it won't work is to say that Jennie Mae doesn't work or to say that the 30-year conventional loans of this country -- half of them are underwritten by the government. Of course it works!

So we can take the classes of assets that are predictable and underwrite them and ensure them. Now, as far as the very exotic securities, as far as those that are sliced and diced and very complicated, of course we are not going to be able to assess the risk there. Those are the securities in which we should have the purchase component that Mr. Paulson is talking about.

But let's look at this: We can make sure we save the taxpayer money. We don't have to do a $700 billion bailout. There can be a significant component that could be represented by insurance that is purchased by the owners of the assets. That way we reduce the bill to the taxpayers. And in the long run, we're going to be a lot better off. The markets will come back and we can go about the kind of regulatory reforms that we need to make sure this doesn't happen again.

Q Republican congressman from Virginia, Eric Cantor. Congressman, thanks for joining us.

REP. CANTOR: Thank you, David.