This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," September 17, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Now, Democrats today quick to blame President Bush for the financial mess on Wall Street.
With us now, Democratic Congressman Gregory Meeks, a member of the House Financial Services Committee.
So, this is all the president's fault, Congressman?
REP. GREGORY MEEKS, D-N.Y.: Well, what it is, is, I think, for the last two years, at least, when Democrats were in control, we were saying that there's a problem in the economy. And the response that we get back, on a consistent basis, is that the market will adjust itself, that everything is OK. Don't worry about it.
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And, you know, the president has the responsibility of having the appropriate agencies who are overseeing, whether it's the feds or someone, to look at the stability in the market. That did not take place.
CAVUTO: Well, actually, Congressman...
MEEKS: And, so, we are where we are.
CAVUTO: No, actually, Congressman, this administration, years ago, prior to two years ago, had been talking about concerns it had about the free lending policies of Freddie and Fannie. And they were stymied.
Now, you're quite correct to say that Democrats and Republicans stymied it, but it's not as if to say they — they too weren't aware of potential problems, right?
MEEKS: Well, you know, if you would have just come to a few of the hearings that we had at the Financial Services, on the committee, where we had administration officials before us, and we would talk, whether it's — was Chairman Bernanke, or — or even before him, Chairman Greenspan, and we would ask questions about the stability of the economy, where we were, where we were headed, and the answer that we received back would be that the market was going to fix itself, that, you know, don't be concerned, that everything would be all right.
And now we find ourselves in the situation that we are in. Now we have to figure out, where do we go from here, how do we fix it...
CAVUTO: But, Congressman, you know...
MEEKS: ... so that we can make sure that we have the confidence of the American people?
CAVUTO: For the life of me — for the life of me, I watched some of those hearings. I don't remember you or any of your colleagues saying, we've got problems with Freddie and Fannie. I don't remember you or any of your colleagues saying, these banks could go bust. I don't remember you or any of your colleagues saying that all these brokers are on a house of cards, here.
What I'm saying, sir, is that...
MEEKS: If you can recall...
CAVUTO: No, no, wait. All I'm saying, sir, is that, if you are pleading ignorance here, if that is your excuse, that it's all the president's fault, the White House's fault, and you're pleading ignorance, that's a hell of a defense.
MEEKS: If you recall, doing even with Fannie — with Fannie Mae, that there was a shift in leadership because there was problems there. And we looked at it at that time. And we said that they had to be changed. They should be. And there were changes to look at how Fannie was doing, or people were getting money, or executives were making money. And it seemed as though something was going wrong. And we all talked about it at the time.
CAVUTO: No, no, no. I remember, you, yourself, and your committee was talking about the idea to aggressively push lending to minorities and those who normally wouldn't get loans.
MEEKS: The key...
CAVUTO: The goal — no, no, seriously, the goal was commendable. You wanted to expand lending. But, in the process, you expanded it to people who shouldn't have gotten loans, right?
CAVUTO: All I'm saying, Congressman, will you admit there is enough blame to go around?
MEEKS: The key was that we did not want Fannie Mae to lose its focus on what it's — what we believed its mission should be. And that's put more Americans into homes, to make sure there was money that was available.
However, the — what Fannie Mae and what other lending institutions and the markets, you know, what they have to do now — and we believe, now, we may have to have another regulator, whether it's the Fed or a new regulator to take place, is to look at the — the — whether or not these loans or the money is credible, whether it is something that should be.
I mean, we never said that Fannie Mae or anyone should not look at someone for their credit-worthiness, not look to see whether or not they are checked if they were making the money that they needed to qualify for these loans.
CAVUTO: Didn't you have — didn't you have oversight...
CAVUTO: No, wait a minute. Didn't you — let — didn't you have oversight of those institutions?
MEEKS: We have oversight. We bring those individuals in to talk to those who were running...
MEEKS: ... those regulations. And we spoke to them...
CAVUTO: So, you should know what the heck's going on.
CAVUTO: What you're doing is, you're casting blame — you're casting blame on some others. And you're right. Maybe they're part of the blame, but, you know, Congressman, you ought to look in the mirror. You're part of it, too.
MEEKS: You know what? You know what? When you have the — when you're the president of the United States...
CAVUTO: You're responsible, I guess, for everything, for everything.