08q: Dwayne Johnson / Ray LaMontagne
A Message from the Secretary of the Treasury
Timothy Geithner.....Will Forte
Caller 1.....John Lutz
Caller 2.....Jason Sudeikis
Caller 3.....Bill Hader
Caller 4.....Paula Pell
Caller 5.....Kenan Thompson
[ open on The Department of the Treasury seal ]
Announcer: The following is a special address from the Secretary of the Treasury.
[ dissolve to Timothy Geithner, seated at desk ]
Timothy Geithner: Good evening. I'm Timothy Geithner, United States Secretary of the Treasury. As I speak to you tonight, our nation is in the midst of an economic crisis. A crisis as severe as ANY in its history. It is a crisis SO severe... that should we fail to get out of it, one thing is certain: it WON'T be the fault of the current administration. It will simply be ecause the crisis was TOO severe to get out of. At its core, this crisis is a crisis of our banking system. Right now, because of the excessive and unwise lending of the last eight years, banks have STOPPED making loans. Businesses cannot get credit, so employees are laid off. Individuals cannot get mortgages, so home prices are collapsing. And companies cannot expand, so their stock price is plummeting.
As individuals lose their savings -- or their jobs -- they have less to invest, credit tightens further. And the vicious cycle deepens. So, this is the problem: to restore the flow of credit and the health of our banking system. Now, what is the solution? Earlier today, I proposed that the Federal Treasury set aside $420 billion. This $420 billion will be placed in a special fund, and will go to the FIRST individual who comes up with a workable plan to solve the banking crisis. [ the audience cheers ] If you have such a plan, or know of someone who does, you can call the number on the screen below to tell us what it is.
[ SUPER: "1-800-IDEAS?" ]
Now, I know what you're thinking: what if two different callers each come up with the idea to save the banking system. Who would get the $420 billion? Well, in such a case, each of them would receive $210 billion. If three people have the idea, they would each get $140 billion. If four people: $105 billion. And if five people have the solution to our banking crisis, they would get $84 billion each. It's all laid out in detail on this chart. [ holds up a chart labeled: "SOLVING OUR NATION'S BANKING CRISIS" ] Now, you might ask: what if six different individuals come up with a plan. What would they receive? [ he grimaces ] We don't have these figures yet. But, uh, we'll release them in the weeks ahead.
[ Geithner glances offscreen, nods ]
And we've got our first caller on the line! [ presses a button on his phone ] Hello, Gary! What is your plan to save the crisis in our banking system?
Caller 1: I think the federal government should agree to assume all the banks' loans, on the bucks of the nation's banks. That way, the banks can start lending again, and people would know it's safe to leave their money there.
Timothy Geithner: [ impressed ] Saaaay, Gary... that's pretty good! Get rid of all the band loans. I like it... I like it!
Caller 1: [ hesitant ] Do I get the $20 billion?
Timothy Geithner: Well! Not just yet. We still have to hear what ideas other people have. But I would say you're looking good! You are DEFINATELY looking good!
Caller 1: Great!
Timothy Geithner: Okay. [ presses a button on his phone ] Dominic! You're on the line! What is your plan to save the nation's banks?
Caller 2: Uh, yeah... Tim, I don't think Gary's plan would work.
Timothy Geithner: [ stunned ] Why not?
Caller 2: Well, first of all, you can't have the government assuming all those bad loans! [ he chuckles] That's like an insurance company insuring houses that are already on fire! Also, you'd have every bank in the country bobbing off all their bad loan decision on the taxpayer.
Timothy Geithner: [ shakes his head in defeat ] You're right... you're right. Those are good points, Dominic. Gary's idea may not be the way to go. But do you have a plan to address the banking crisis?
Caller 2: Uhhh, not relaly. No, but I can try to think of one. Can I get back to you?
Timothy Geithner: Absolutely! I'll be right here! Right here! [ he presses a button on his phone ] Louis? You're on the line. What is your plan?
Caller 3: I've got the solution to the bank crisis.
Timothy Geithner: Oh, great! Let's hear it!
Caller 3: Not so fast! First, I get the money. And then, I tell you the plan.
Timothy Geithner: Well, that's not the way this works.
Caller 3: Well, how do I know you're not gonna use my idea, and then claim you thought of it?
Timothy Geithner: I would never do that...
Caller 3: How about I get half the money now, and the other half AFTER I tell you the plan?
Timothy Geithner: Nah, I can't do it.
Caller 3: Oh. How about a third of the money first?
Timothy Geithner: [ considering ] Done!
Caller 3: I'll leave the bank work instructions with your operator. Once the money's in my account, I'll call you back.
Timothy Geithner: Okay. You'd better! We have a deal! Okay. [ he presses a button on his phone ] Denise, you're on the line.
Caller 4: If you use my idea to solve the banking crisis and I get the reward money, do I have to pay taxes on it?
Timothy Geithner: Of course! [ he turns to a side camera ] Everybody has to pay taxes. That's the law. [ he returns to the main camera, then presses a button on his phone ] Hello, Nkumo! You're on the line.
Caller 5: Hello, Tim. How are you tonight?
Timothy Geithner: [ chuckles heartily ] I'm doing great! Now, what's your plan, Nkumo?
Caller 5: Well, do you have a minute? It's somewhat complicated.
Timothy Geithner: Sure. Go ahead.
Caller 5: Alright. Well, I'm a Nigerian prince... currently living in exile in Europe. Now, back in Nigeria, there is a fortune of nearly $700 million, which belongs to ME!
Timothy Geithner: [ still listening ] Uh-huh.
Caller 5: But in order to claim it, I need a certain amount of cash for government easy payments of Nigerian officials.
Timothy Geithner: Well, how much cash would you need?
Caller 5: About... $175,000.
Timothy Geithner: [ his wheels turning ] Saaayy... suppose the U.S. Treasury were to front you the $175,000. Would you be willing to give us... a portion of the $700 million?
Caller 5: [ squealing with delight ] Absolutely!! In fact, I was JUST going to propose something along those lines!
Timothy Geithner: Fantastic! Now, don't hang up, Nkumo -- I'm gonna transfer you to one of our operators, she'll take down your information.
Caller 5: That would be fine, Tim. Thank you.
Timothy Geithner: No! Thank you! Okay. [ he hangs up his phone ] Alright, good deal! On that positive note, I'm going to take a short break. But these lines will remain open, 24 hours, 7 days a week, 'til this crisis has passed. You'll probably get me personally. But, in the meantime, "Live, from New York, it's Saturday Night!"