This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," November 17, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, stop dishing out the bailout bucks, period. That is what Bernie Sanders wants Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to do. The very independent Vermont senator not happy at all with the way Paulson is spending that dough. He says he has a better way to spend it.
Senator Sanders joins me from Washington.
Senator, good to see you. Thanks for coming.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Good to be with you, Neil.
• Video: Watch Neil's interview with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders
CAVUTO: What's that idea?
SANDERS: Well, the bottom line is, I mean, there's outrage throughout this country about the need to spend hundreds of billions of dollars bailing out Wall Street, and I think that outrage continues in terms of how that money has been spent.
Money is being spent which would allow for bonuses for very wealthy executives, for dividends, for mergers and acquisitions. There is no oversight. We have spent $43 billion — I mean, I beg your pardon, in 43 days we spent $290 billion with no oversight at all.
So what my view is, is enough is enough. That second $350 billion should not be spent for the Wall Street bailout.
But what I think we should be doing is moving toward a major economic recovery program which starts putting millions of Americans to work. Let's focus on the middle class, not just on Wall Street, rebuilding our crumbling bridges and our roads and our water systems, moving us to energy independence, and focusing on energy efficiency and sustainable energy.
So what I want to see money being spent is in the real world, creating real jobs, improving the quality of life in America, rather than the secrecy and the lack of oversight for a bailout of Wall Street.
CAVUTO: Well, would there be oversight for your idea?
CAVUTO: Would someone be making sure that money would be targeted for what it's intended?
SANDERS: Absolutely. And I think when you give — I was a former mayor, as you well know, Neil, and when you put money into governors' hands, when you put money into mayors' hands, I think they do a lot better job, by the way, than we do here in Washington.
There is a desperate need. I think no one denies that our infrastructure is crumbling and that we can create millions of jobs doing work which has to be done. The infrastructure...
CAVUTO: So, what about the auto industry, Senator? Would you say no to that?
SANDERS: The auto industry is a very difficult situation, and you're really caught between a rock and a hard place. Neil, if you do nothing, and if — and that's a big if — if the Big Three collapse, you're talking about the loss of 3 million jobs in the middle of a serious recession that could take us to a depression.
On the other hand, I think no sane person wants to put money into the Big Three given the kind of horrendous management that we have seen there for many, many years when they have certainly been outcompeted by the Japanese and the Europeans.
CAVUTO: Well, then, do you worry that — and I know where you're — there was no accountability on the fiscal — on the financial rescue. You're dead — dead-center right about that.
But I'm wondering. You know, I was adding it all up, Senator, better than $1 trillion in various tax breaks, incentives, bailouts, whatever you want to call it, since all of this was first proposed, right?
CAVUTO: And we're down 2,000-plus points on the Dow, the economy is now in far worse shape since that money came forth.
I'm wondering, you keep adding more money, you keep giving more money, it's only going to get worse.
SANDERS: Fair enough, Neil, but let's differentiate. I voted against the bailout of Wall Street for a dozen...
CAVUTO: Yes, you did. Yes, you did.
SANDERS: ... for a dozen different reasons, and I think history will record that as the right vote.
What I'm talking about is something that's different and real.
Our infrastructure is crumbling. Everybody knows that. We are going to have to rebuild our bridges and our roads and our water systems. We are going to have to become energy dependent and not spend $700 billion every year importing foreign oil. And we can do that through energy efficiency and wind, solar, geothermal, biomass. That is a real...
CAVUTO: But what happens when you're done building the bridge or the highway and this busy work that might be doing a great deal of good, as you say, what happens then?
SANDERS: Well, Neil, I don't think it's busy work. I mean, I think that — and especially breaking our dependence on foreign oil — that's not busy work. That is moving us to a different type of economy and making us a wealthier and stronger country.
And I think — I would contrast that type of investment with putting money into Wall Street, in secrecy. I mean, among other things, people don't know this, Paulson changed a rule which provides $140 billion more in tax breaks for the banks.
We're seeing Bernanke providing a lot of loans to corporations in utmost secrecy. We don't even know where the money is going or what the rules are regarding those loans.
So, to my mind, if we're going to invest in America, I would rather see it in creating good-paying jobs for working families rather than more...
CAVUTO: But beware good intentions, right? They can go bad and Washington can screw even that up, right?
SANDERS: Well, we have some history of this, Neil, which has worked.
CAVUTO: All right.
SANDERS: I mean, putting money into infrastructure from Washington to cities and towns has worked in the past. And I think it can work again.