Dialogue about Administration's Agenda Moving Forward on Morning Joe

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... to rebuild trust in our markets, we must redouble our efforts to promote openness, transparency and plain language throughout our financial system. we must demand strict accountability starting at the top. executives who violate the public trust must be held responsible. >>> hey, let's bring in right now a good friend of mine, democratic house majority leader congressman steny hoyer. steny, it was great to see you the other night. >> good morning, joe. >> you seem to be doing very well there. let me bring you in on the conversation we were all having. everybody is very frustrated right now, whether they're republicans or democrats, that we seem to be bailing out bad actors. can you tell us, tell americans, tell -- you're a very moderate, middle-of-the-road, bipartisan guy, can you explain to americans when this is going to end, when we're going to finally tell banks and wall street you're on your own, we've given your last bailout? joe, i think the president was pretty clear in his speech tuesday night that, you know, we're not going to tolerate giving money to people who waste it, we're not going to tolerate giving money to people that use it on themselves. the taxpayers have been very generous. and focused on trying to stabilize the economy. which meant helping our financial institutions. however, clearly, what we wanted to have happen has not happened, and that is, that lending started, people got money they needed to keep their small business in place, to invest in starting up businesses, to make sure that they could purchase their inventory, and that people can get credit card debt. so, clearly we have not seen what we wanted to see. the president made it very clear that we're not going to pursue that policy, and hopefully secretary geithner and the congress are going to make sure that responsibility is attendant to getting assistance. we know that we need to stabilize the financial markets. we acted in a bipartisan way to do that. very frankly, i think most of us think the first tranche of the t.a.r.p. was not spent the way we wanted it to and didn't have the effect that we wanted. hopefully the second tranche will. >> let's talk about aig, ""the washington post"" business section's top stories, how this company, which made bad investments and gave insurance when they shouldn't have, they've been bailed out to the tune of $150 billion. they lost $60 billion in the fourth quarter. >> yeah. >> that report's coming out. do -- does congress, does the president, do we bail aig out, give them even more money, or do we just say at some point you're on your own? >> well, certainly, first of all, joe, my understanding is it wasn't so much the insurance business that got them in trouble which was a regulated business, it was the unregulated business that they got into and expanded on that came up very, very short in their expectations and put them deeply in debt and requires us to intervene or that company was going to go down. that company, of course, had tentacles everywhere not only in this country but throughout the world. and obviously the previous administration, the bush administration, secretary paulson, felt it had to be stabilized. we did that. now, the issue is we certainly don't want to throw good money after bad. and we're going to have to make a determination whether or not any amount of money is going to stabilize that company, or as your conversations earlier said, look, we're going to have to take the medicine here. now, when we did that with lehman brothers, there were an awful lot of people who believed that that had a further deteriorating effect. >> yeah, really. >> on the economy. >> really negative effect. hey, we've got chris matthews here who wants to ask you a question. >> hi, chris. >> let me ask you about traffic management which is your expertise on capitol hill as majority leader. really, you know more than nibble else what could get done this year and what probably can't get done. i'm a big believer, as you are, i believe, in the fact that you act when you have power to do so. >> you bet. >> and we've seen from the johnson administration and even the reagan administration if you want to get something done, you better move fast. can this new president, with all his ability, can he push a program like we saw the other night, can we get health care this year? can he get energy and something on education, as well as beginning this recovery? >> chris, i think the answer to that question is yes, and i think he -- he believes, the president believes, you need to seize this opportunity, where america knows we have great challenges, that we need to suck it up and move on and solve our problems. clearly health care is a major one, both in terms of cost to the american consumer, to the average american families, and to government, that we got to get a handle on health care costs, make it affordable and accessible to our people. secondly, he made it very clear in his speech that energy independence and addressing the environmental problem caused by ...