Congresswoman to ABC's Chris Cuomo: Calm Down!

A Republican and a Democratic member of Congress attempted to calm "Good Morning America" news anchor Chris Cuomo during an interview on Tuesday. Cuomo interrogated GOP Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave and her Democratic colleague, Mary Kaptur, about just what they would do now that the Wall Street bailout package had been rejected. After noticing the high pitched tenor in Cuomo's voice, Kaptur observed, "...You're very anxious."

In a soothing voice, she instructed, "I can hear your voice there. For the sake of the country, and even for the sake of the markets, I think you should operate prudently and with a little bit of calm in your voice today." This was after a barely restrained Cuomo thrust responsibility onto those politicians who opposed the bailout: "Your vote and the failure of this bill- are you ready to accept the potential responsibility for bringing down this economy as a result of your vote?" Continuing to point fingers, he accused, "You saw yesterday, 50 percent of Americans hold stocks. You lost $1.2 trillion in value."

In a bipartisan manner, both Congresswomen attacked Cuomo's argument. Republican Musgrave reasoned, "We didn't pass a flawed bill. We not only answer to Wall Street, we answer to Main Street. We answer to our constituents." Democrat Kaptur asserted she would not be "railroaded because someone who spent his life on Wall Street wants to become master of the universe and have the American people give $700 billion to the Treasury."

Cuomo's "pass anything" attitude could also be seen in a one-sided graphic from a previous segment that set up the interview. It read, "Great Bailout Goes Bust: Wall Street to Congress: 'Idiots'"

A transcript of the interview, which aired at 7:08am on September 30, follows:

CHRIS CUOMO: So, that gives us our feel on Wall Street. The question bounces back to Washington, D.C. Where are their heads? Specifically, the people who voted against this plan? So, let's bring in a couple of members of Congress right now. We have Marcy Kaptur, Democrat of Ohio. And we also have Marilyn Musgrave, a Republican from Colorado. Can you both hear me? It's good to have you this morning.

MARCY KAPTUR (D-OH): We can hear you.

MARILYN MUSGRAVE R-CO): Good morning. Yes.

CUOMO: All right. So, let's begin with what this vote could mean. Both of you, answer this in hand, if you would. Representative Kaptur, we can begin with you. Your vote and the failure of this bill- are you ready to accept the potential responsibility for bringing down this economy as a result of your vote?

KAPTUR [Graphic: "Voted 'No' to bailout"]: Well, first of all, our vote, if that were the only issue in what is troubling this economy, we couldn't possibly bring it down. We need to have a good bill. Not a fast bill. We have to be prudent in what we do. Our banking committee is fundamentally strong. The problem with what's happening in the markets today is a credit crunch, not a liquidity problem. One of the things the President of the United States could do today is to get his S.E.C. Chairman to change the accounting rules for mark to market to loosen up these credit markets. And then the other issue that we have is the market foreclosure challenge and every main street across the country. This bill did not effectively deal with that. We have to address the real estate issue and get that mortgage market working again. This bill would not do that. So, I think that we have to really look for something that will make the markets function in the way that they should, not reward bad behavior and give all these bills to the American taxpayer who didn't cause this problem. We have a strong system. We have a strong economic system. The markets will work. And frankly, for Wall Street, I would say, calm down. Don't panic. Don't be led to anxious behavior. Franklin Roosevelt said, the greatest thing we have to fear is fear itself. Don't be led by fear. Be led by responsible and prudent behavior and we'll get through this.

MUSGRAVE [Graphic: "Voted 'No' to Bailout"]:You know what? You're not going to see partisan bickering today or any partisan rancor. But what you will see is a Republican and a Democrat coming together to say we need a bill that is good. We're not going to act in haste. That bill was flawed from the very beginning. I was out opposing it before all the thousands of calls started coming in to my office overwhelmingly opposing it. But you know what? We know that inaction is not the answer. And we're coming back to work on Thursday.

CUOMO: But- But inaction- Right. But, representative, inaction has been the answer because you didn't pass this bill. If you talk to people in the markets, they say you see what happens- But you see what happens yesterday-

MUSGRAVE: We didn't pass a flawed bill. We not only answer to Wall Street, we answer to Main Street. We answer to our constituents.

CUOMO: But what about Main Street's interests? But what about Main Street's interests, representative? You saw yesterday, 50 percent of Americans hold stocks. You lost $1.2 trillion in value. That's more than the bailout amount, one single day. You have to know that the credit markets affect people at home, their credit cards, their auto loans.

MUSGRAVE: What we're doing is we're coming back on Thursday. And we're coming to work and craft a good bill. Marcy and I are in a working group together. We're trying to come up with the very best solution for this country. And the responsibility that we feel is to pass a good bill.

CUOMO: What does that mean exactly? Define good bill for me.

MUSGRAVE: We're not going to get out of it in 72 hours. We're not going to get out of it in 72 hours.

CUOMO: Right. But can you tell me more about what makes it a good bill? I'm sorry. We're just dealing with the communication from Wall Street to New York.

MUSGRAVE: Accounting rules need to reflect reality.

KAPTUR: Let me just say that, now, you're very anxious. I can hear your voice there. For the sake of the country, and even for the sake of the markets, I think you should operate prudently and with a little bit of calm in your voice today. What we want to do is be responsible, not for what happens on Wall Street. But for what happens to the American taxpayer, generations hence.

MUSGRAVE: Yes.

KAPTUR: There is a credit market seize-up. But the answer to that is not the bill that we had yesterday. The answer is for the President to go and call his S.E.C. chairman today and to change those mark to market rules that are making it difficult for inner-bank lending. That would do so much to help the economy. And that does not require legislation by the Congress. That's a regulatory change. The other deal we have to do is have a deal that talks to the housing crisis, which is at the heart of what has caused this implosion. And we need those workouts. We don't need to hemorrhage anymore on Main Street. This bill did not do that. We are working to try to do a bill that meets the needs of America.

MUSGRAVE: We are.

KAPTUR: That will be the best thing we could do for Wall Street.

CUOMO: Right And of course both of you understand that any anxiety here is because of the interests of team on Main Street, and wanting to make sure they don't get caught up in politics. So, the question to you two is, what are you going to put in this bill that will make it what you keep calling a good bill? Do you have a solution?

KAPTUR: Yes. That's what I was talking about. A change in the accounting rules that would ease up the credit crunch, which is really at the heart of what some of the anxiety in the marketplace. That can be done from an accounting standpoint. I think one of the problems is that Mr. Paulson is a day trader. He's not a banker. And there's a different psychology that operates on Wall Street. We need to use the regular tools we have through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which has been employed, if you look at some of the resolutions that have been occurring. But we need to- We don't need to lose anymore banks. We need to ease up on those accounting rules so that the normal system can un-seize and those loans can be made across this economy. Then, we need to deal with the housing situation, with dispatch. And this bill did neither yesterday. So, we're going to work together here. We're going to try to inject some reason into this debate.

MUSGRAVE: Yes, we are.

KAPTUR: And not be railroaded because someone who spent his life on Wall Street wants to become master of the universe and have the American people give $700 billion to the Treasury.

CUOMO: The concerns are certainly there. I appreciate you two coming on to make sure that everybody knows they are addressing their concerns at home. Because at the end of the day, that's what we're all worried about. So, thank you to both of you for being with us this morning.

MUSGRAVE: We'll be working together. Thank you very much.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org