Pelosi: Bipartisan Cooperation Saved Economy from Great Depression Four Years Ago

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement today reflecting on the four years since she received a call from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke about the imminent danger facing the American economy.  

“This fall, Americans are being asked whether we are better off today than we were four years ago.  As we recall the events of September 18, 2008, there can only be one honest answer: fundamentally and unquestionably yes.

“Four years ago today, I called Secretary Hank Paulson to request that he brief the House Democratic Leadership on the alarming news coming out of the financial community regarding Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and AIG.  It was 3 o’clock Thursday afternoon and I asked that the Secretary come to the Speaker’s office at 9 a.m. the next morning.  Secretary Paulson responded that tomorrow morning would be too late.  My response was, ‘why am I calling you instead of you informing Congress?’

“It was clear that the Bush White House did not want Congress to know how desperate the situation was.  I next called Chairman Bernanke and asked that he join our meeting with Secretary Paulson at 5 p.m.

“The reaction of the White House was not a happy one but we all agreed on a bipartisan meeting of House and Senate leadership for 7:30 p.m. that night.

“At the meeting, Secretary Paulson described our financial system in imminent danger of total collapse.  Chairman Bernanke told us that if we did not act immediately we would not have an economy by Monday.

“The Secretary then put forth his break-the-glass solution which they said they were saving for the next President.  But time had run out on the recklessness which wreaked chaos and havoc on our financial system.

“Majority Leader Reid kept asking, ‘How much is this going to cost?  $100 billion?  $200 billion?  Up to $400 billion?’  The response didn’t come until two days later: $700 billion, twice as much as the discretionary domestic budget for one year.

“At the end of the meeting we spoke to the press and I said that time is of the essence and that Congress would act.

“Despite a Presidential election seven weeks away, it was no time for partisanship.  The crisis demanded that Democrats and Republicans work with President Bush to rescue our economy from depression.

“In the days ahead, our country confronted the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.  The costs were staggering: more than $8 trillion lost in household wealth, more than 8 million jobs lost, and more than 4 million families losing their homes to foreclosure.

“In the two years after that September 18 telephone call, we continued to take action to reduce spending, create jobs, keep people in their homes, and pass Dodd-Frank, the toughest Wall Street reform in generations.  But since 2011, President Obama has been blocked by Congressional Republicans, a marked contrast from the cooperation that congressional Democrats had given to President Bush.  Nonetheless, under President Obama’s leadership, we have added private sector jobs for 30 straight months compared to losing 700,000 a month as he entered office.  The American auto industry, which was facing extinction and the loss of over one million jobs, is again competitive and hiring.  The Dow Jones average, which reflects the security of tens of millions of American investors and pension funds, has nearly doubled and housing prices are slowly rising again.

“We still have work to do to continue the American recovery.  But are we better off on this September 18 than we were four years ago?  Certainly we are, and with the continued steady leadership of President Obama, the American economy will continue to expand and the prosperity of individual Americans will continue to grow in the years ahead.”

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