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STATE OF THE UNION
Interview With White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett; Interview With Rep. Val Demings (D-FL); Interview With Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL); Interview With Gov. Phil Murphy (D-NJ). Aired 9-10a ET
Aired May 24, 2020 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DANA BASH, CNN HOST (voice-over): Open for summer? Memorial Day brings sun and hope to Americans, as all 50 states begin to reopen and President Trump makes a bold declaration on churches.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Allow our churches and places of worship to open right now.
BASH: Can states reopen and stay safe?
I will speak to Democratic Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey and Republican Senator Rick Scott of Florida in moments.
And facing the damage. Almost 40 million people filing for unemployment and looking for relief.
KEVIN HASSETT, CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: Folks think now there is going to be another bill.
BASH: But will it be enough? White House senior adviser Kevin Hassett joins me next.
Plus: back on the trail. President Trump ramps up visits to swing states he will need to win reelection and escalates a fight over mail- in voting, as likely opponent Joe Biden is on defense over a new controversial comment.
One contender to be his running mate, Congresswoman Val Demings, will join us.
BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash, in for Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is remembering our dead.
Today, a Memorial Day weekend like no other, honoring those who gave their lives fighting for this country, as we approach 100,000 Americans dead from the coronavirus, an almost unimaginable toll visualized on the front page of this morning's "New York Times." In just over three months, the virus has killed significantly more
Americans than the Vietnam War, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Iraq War, and the war in Afghanistan combined.
As the U.S. approaches this grim milestone, many Americans are making this unofficial start of summer by visiting newly reopened beaches and boardwalks.
And just this morning, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn put out a public health reminder, saying -- quote -- "The coronavirus is not yet contained. Social distancing, handwashing and wearing masks protect us all."
As for President Trump, he spent time Saturday tweeting and golfing at his club in Virginia.
And all 50 states are now partially reopen in some capacity, in part to ease soaring economic pain. Almost 40 million Americans have lost their jobs since the pandemic began.
And joining me now to discuss that is senior White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett.
Good morning. Thank you so much...
KEVIN HASSETT, CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: Good morning, Dana.
BASH: ... for joining me.
BASH: Do you think that the worst of the economic effects of the coronavirus are behind us, or is the worst still to come?
HASSETT: Well, I think that what we're going to see is more bad data, because the data tend to be in the rear-view mirror.
But if you look at things like employment and small businesses, or the percentage of businesses that are open, or even the credit card data, which we get a peek at, then you can see that things pretty much inflected in early May.
And so my expectation is that, since there are still initial claims for unemployment insurance in May, that the unemployment rate will be higher in June than in May, but then, after that, it should start to trend down.
So I think we're very, very close to an inflection point in terms of business activity and probably about a month away in terms of employment.
BASH: Do you think unemployment is going to be even higher this month?
HASSETT: Yes, it's going to be quite a bit higher. And -- and there were some technical things they kind of messed up.
And on an economics lecture, we would go into them. But it could be, if they fix the numbers and fix the thing that they mischaracterized last time, that you will end up with a number north of 20 percent in May.
BASH: North of 20 percent. Wow.
HASSETT: That's right.
BASH: Now, all 50 states, as I just said, are starting to reopen.
Some Americans, though, are still seeming like that they're not comfortable going out.
I want you to look at poll numbers that we have on the screen. I can tell you that they say less than half of Americans say it's safe to send children to school, go to a restaurant, or get on an airplane.
BASH: Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell said this week that, for the economy to fully recover, people will have to be fully confident, and that may have to wait until the arrival of a vaccine.
Do you agree that the economy won't get back up to full speed until there's a vaccine?
HASSETT: I think it will all depend on what else happens.
And so, if the warm summer months come, and the number -- the caseload goes down dramatically, then maybe people will start to move about more than they're doing right now.
But I absolutely agree we have now -- because of the wonder of the Internet and cell phones, you can actually look at social distancing data kind of in real time. And you can see that, even though, in some states, as many as 90 percent of businesses are open now, that you're not seeing the kind of movement about that you would see if the virus were completely gone.
And so, for sure, it's going to be something that's a negative that's holding things back. And that will probably be true going into the fall.
But remember that, if you look at the Congressional Budget Office outlook for GDP, which I think is about what we should expect, they have got about the worst ever quarter in the second quarter in U.S. history, or the worst ever quarter in U.S. history, but then the best in the third quarter.
And so what's going to happen, in all likelihood, is that you're going to see the second quarter drop a lot, and the third quarter skyrocket. And then the question is that, when you skyrocket, do you get back to where you were when you started?
And the CBO doesn't quite think so. And I think that that second part of it not quite getting back to where you started is the thing that Jay Powell, Chairman Powell, is talking about.
BASH: Well, that same CBO report that you talked about says that unemployment could still be at 9 percent at the end of 2021.
I know you won't be -- be there to talk about this, or we don't expect that to happen. Maybe you will. I should...
HASSETT: Maybe I will.
BASH: I should say, maybe you will. Maybe you will leave the White House at that point.
But in terms of where we are right now going into November, do you think that it is possible -- you said maybe north of 20 percent next month.
Do you think it's possible that unemployment will be in double digits in November?
HASSETT: Yes, I do.
But I think that all the signs of economic recovery are going to be raging everywhere. And the only thing we're going to really be debating, as economists, is, are we going to get back to where we were, or is it going to be kind of a long haul to get there?
I have two very close friends, both conservatives, both Harvard professors, and one of them thinks it's going to take many, many years, and the other one thinks that it is going to happen virtually overnight.
And that other friend, Robert Barro, has said that he thinks it looks a little bit like, at the end of World War II, the countries that didn't have their capital stocks destroyed by the war, that, when the war ended, they pretty much got their economies going at a rate of 40 or 50 percent a year.
And while he was cautioned about the analogy -- and it was just in a private e-mail -- I think that Professor Barro's view that we don't have -- our capital stock hasn't been destroyed, our human capital stock is ready to get back to work, and so that there are lots of reasons to believe that we can get going way faster than we have in previous crises that...
BASH: But I just want to underscore what you're saying is that, as the president is on the ballot in November, you think there could be double-digit unemployment still?
HASSETT: I think that -- yes, unemployment will be something that moves back slower. I think it could be better than that. But you're going to be starting
at a number in the 20s and working your way down. And so, of course, you could still not be back to full employment by September or October.
Again, if -- if there were a vaccine in July, then I'd be way more optimistic about it.
BASH: Vice President Mike Pence says that negotiations for another stimulus bill are actively under way, and Americans have a lot of questions about what relief may be on the way.
In the interest of time, I want to tick through some of the proposals. And if you could just answer with a simple yes or no, it would be great.
First, on extending the extra $600 per week in unemployment insurance beyond July, yes or no?
HASSETT: So, just to be clear, the president is going through all the options, and he's deciding what he wants to do. And that's a work in progress.
And so yes-or-no, Kevin, answers right now aren't necessarily reflective of what's going on at the White House.
HASSETT: But I think that we have to look at U.I.
I think that a lot of Republicans are concerned that the benefit makes it so that people get more for not working than for working. And so we look forward to working with people on potentially reforming that.
BASH: What about increasing money for food stamps?
HASSETT: That -- that's something that I have seen on the list, but I have not discussed with the president.
What about direct payments to Americans?
HASSETT: That was something that was an enormously successful part of the first three phases. We mailed, like, $1,200 checks to 140 million people.
And I think, depending on the state of the economy, it's something that I guess we would consider. But, right now, it looks like the economy's picking up at a very rapid rate, in which case we could potentially move on to other things that the president has mentioned, like the payroll tax cut and potentially even a capital gains holiday.
BASH: OK. OK.
So, lastly, should there be money for state and local governments in this bill?
HASSETT: There's already a lot of money for state and local governments.
And so what we need to do -- and it's what we're doing right now -- is run a big data operation, look at how they're spending the money that they have already gotten, project what the shortfall will be, and then talk about it with Democrats and Republicans.
And that's where we are right now. And I think that a lot of the state -- requests for state and local bailouts that you're seeing out there up on the Hill are, like, radically, radically more money than the expected shortfall for the year.
And so I think that we're analyzing the numbers right now. And the requests are kind of absurd. And I think that the numbers will help make them more realistic as we move into a negotiation.
BASH: So, you're saying it -- is it likely or unlikely that state and local governments will see more money from the federal government?
HASSETT: I think it's going to be part of the negotiation.
I don't -- you know, I don't know, though, that there's ever going to be any analysis that supports the massive requests that have come out of the House. Those numbers are just many, many times the expected shortfall this year, given the CBO forecast or any reasonable forecast for the year.
So, the president has said that he's not going to engage in a bailout for a state that has a problem that it entered the year with. But he will consider expenses that are related to COVID.
BASH: OK, I want to ask about hydroxychloroquine.
The new study this week says that the drug was associated with an increased risk of in-hospital death.
President Trump, as you know, has been publicly touting the drug and says he's been taking it. I want you to listen to what he's said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have taken it, I think, just about two weeks. I think it's another day. So -- and I'm still here.
I'm not a doctor, but I have common sense.
If some other person put it forward, they would say, oh, let's go with it. You know, what do you have to lose?
If things don't go as planned, it's not going to kill anybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: "It's not going to kill anybody."
Well, we now know, according to the study, the major study, that is not true.
The president has been giving medical advice on hydroxychloroquine. Do you think that that is putting American lives at risk?
HASSETT: The -- the problem right now is that we're going up against this enemy, the virus, that we don't know how to treat yet.
And we're watching treatments go through the pipeline at hospitals all around the world and aggregating data to try to learn about it. As -- as Dr. Fauci said, I remember once, at a press conference is, what we really need is a controlled, randomized trial, so that we could figure this out.
And I think, until we see a large-scale controlled, randomized trial, they will be questions. And so, unfortunately, we're in a world where doctors all around the world are anecdotally trying things and watching to see what works and doesn't work, and then treating their patients accordingly.
And I -- I wish we were in a better world, where we had all these treatments that had been -- had the gold standard trials...
BASH: I mean, would you...
HASSETT: ... and everybody knew for sure that it works.
BASH: Have you taken it? You're in the White House and around people.
HASSETT: You know, it's...
BASH: Would you take it, or are you?
HASSETT: We're -- we're really not supposed to talk about our personal health here.
The thing I can say, though, is that the only reason I do actually talk about my health in this case is that I talked about it with my doctor, because I think there is a lot of evidence in the lab that this could help.
And then he said, oh, looking at the other stuff you're taking, the interaction, it gives me a concern, so I don't think you should take it.
So, the point is, just like the doctor, people who are out there are wondering about it, they need to talk to their doctors about it, and make sure it doesn't interact with other things they're -- they're taking.
And that's why I gave -- otherwise, I would have just said, why are you asking about my personal health? I thought that I should use it as an opportunity to remind people that everybody needs to go talk to their doctor about it if they think they want to take it.
BASH: Well, that is very good advice.
Many schools and day cares and summer camps across the country are closed, and they're staying closed. And it's making it particularly difficult for families, especially women, who balance caregiving and trying to go to work, men as well, but women seem to be bearing most of the burden there. And this is a real struggle for families across the country.
How are you, as administration -- an administration, going to deal with this?
Well, it's something that Dr. Birx and the task force and the CDC are studying very, very closely. You know, I have been engaged in a number of phone calls with Dr. Birx and leaders of schools of major universities and so on to start to think about what kind of testing they need to safely open up.
And, absolutely, both in terms of the health, mental health, of our kids and the health of our society, it's a very, very high priority for this White House to try to get life back to normal as fast as possible.
And that includes getting summer camps open and getting schools open in the fall. And so it's something that we're studying very closely. And I would expect that there will be guidelines to help people think about that, to help state and local governments think about that sometime soon.
Kevin Hassett, thank you so much.
HASSETT: Thanks, Dana. Great to be here.
BASH: I appreciate your time. Thank you.
And this weekend, people are flocking to really reopen beaches, even as the risk of a second coronavirus spike remains. I will talk to lawmakers from New Jersey and Florida.
Plus, the Trump campaign is already putting it on T-shirts, as Joe Biden apologizes for a controversial comment on race.
BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Dana Bash.
A major test of reopening is happening across the nation, a holiday weekend during a pandemic. And the Jersey Shore is among the beaches now open with some restrictions. After New York, New Jersey has seen the most number of cases and deaths from coronavirus.
Joining me now is the governor of New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy.
Governor, thank you so much for joining me.
It is Memorial Day weekend. Many people mark this as the unofficial start of the summer.
You did open beaches in your state, with restrictions, like capacity limits, social distancing, and, in some counties, no swimming at all. Are people following your guidelines?
GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): Dana, it's good to be back with you.
It's too early to tell. And I think, for the most part, New Jerseyans have done an extraordinary job following our guidelines.
I say it's too early to tell, not only just because it's Sunday, and we're in the middle of the weekend, but the weather has not cooperated. It was miserable yesterday. It's cold today. I'm heading down to the shore myself right after I finish up with you. I will see it with my own eyes.
But, for the most part, folks have been extraordinary in doing the right thing in the state now for going on two-and-a-half-plus months. And I fully expect that will continue on the beaches, even when Mother Nature begins to cooperate with good weather.
BASH: Governor, many parents can't even think about returning to work without wondering where they're going to send their kids.
You haven't set a date yet for reopening day care centers or camps. What should parents do?
MURPHY: Well, you're absolutely right.
Day care is at or near the top of our list. We understand we can't open up the -- our economy, as we have begun to do already and continuing to do, and not give working parents an outlet, an opportunity to have their kids properly looked after.
Right now, it's limited only to essential front-line health care first responders. We have to open that up. My guess is, that is sooner than later.
The big nuts to crack here are going to be day care, not just camps, but back to school in August and September and mass transit. Those are not easy ones to get stood up again in a way that remotely looks like it's an -- it's an old normal.
So, that's a work in progress on all of the above. BASH: The CDC published reopening guidance for places of worship.
That includes providing hand sanitizer, encouraging the use of masks, cleaning their facilities daily.
I want you to listen to what the president said about this on Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential, but have left out churches and other houses of worship. It's not right.
I call upon governors to allow our churches and places of worship to open right now. If they don't do it, I will override the governors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Yesterday, your fellow Democratic governor in Minnesota, Tim Walz, announced that he will allow places of worship to open and accommodate up to 250 people.
Are you going to follow his lead?
MURPHY: Listen, I'm not read into the decisions in terms of the facts in Minnesota. And my job is in New Jersey. I actually spoke to the president directly late in the day on Friday.
We will get there on houses of worship. We actually have opened up our outdoor limits now to 25 people out of doors. We will get to the indoor activity sooner than later. And that includes probably at the top of the list worshiping .We want to do that. I personally want to do that.
But we have got to do it right and at the right pace. I would guess, if we continue to see the progress that we have made in New Jersey, and notwithstanding an extraordinary toll, over 11,000 blessed souls lost, for the past several weeks, we have seen a lot of good progress in the data.
And I would hope we would get to houses of worship sooner than later. But we want to make sure we do it right, responsibly, and that we don't kill anybody by doing it too fast.
BASH: Another Democratic governor of Illinois, J.B. Pritzker, he has said that groups of 50 people, even in places of worship, can't gather until there is a vaccine, treatment or no cases.
And, as you know, experts say a vaccine is at least a year away. So, will in your state groups of 50 people, including churches, be able to gather indoors within the next year?
MURPHY: I would hope so, Dana. I would hope so.
Again, I'm not read into the Illinois data, facts. I'm not -- 100 percent of my life is focused on the reality here. We're the densest state in America. Our death toll is second only to New York. We still have, in terms of
per capita reality on new hospitalizations, total hospitalizations, new fatalities, we're still number one or two in the nation.
So, I would -- I would hope we would get there, again, sooner than later. Indoors, no ventilation, sedentary, close proximity, those are bad factors.
So, the question is, what can you do about ventilation? What can you do about distancing, as you rightfully put out, hyper-cleaning, et cetera, face coverings? I don't think we give enough credit to the impact that a face covering can have.
Again, I think we will get there, but I'm -- I can't tell you when.
BASH: Let's talk about your state of New Jersey.
There's new research from Columbia University that says, if New Jersey had put social distancing policies in place on March 8, it estimates 5,500 lives could have been saved, which would have cut your state's death toll in about half.
I want you to look at the timeline of the actions in your state that you took. You obviously know this, but, for our viewers, on March 9, you declared a state of emergency. But it was two weeks later, March 21, that you shut down your state.
The governor of Rhode Island has said that, if the governor would have known then what they know now, that Rhode Island would have been shut down sooner.
How do you feel about your actions in New Jersey?
MURPHY: I think, Dana, if you look at what we did, there are very few states that did it faster or more comprehensively than we did. And that's just -- that's just a fact.
Having said that, do I wish I -- I knew then what I know now, and that we realized that it wasn't just the first case on March 4, but in New York City and environs, including in the counties that commute in to New York, there were perhaps thousands of unregistered positive cases?
If we had known that, then, obviously, we would have -- we would have accelerated even further. But, again, I don't think any state moved as fast, or very few did, at least, or as comprehensively as we did.
Again, I don't know anybody, anybody, any leader who would not say now, if I knew then what I know now, I would have done X, Y, and Z, and count me among that list.
BASH: Before I let you go, I want to ask about your state's finances.
According to your state's treasurer, New Jersey is estimated to have a revenue loss of $10 billion. You are calling on the federal government to provide states with more funding for first responders and health care workers.
I'm not sure if you heard the president's economic adviser, Kevin Hassett, just before you. He says it's very much TBD. And he sounded kind of doubtful that states like yours need the kind of money that Democrats are asking for here in Washington.
We're also about to talk to Senator Rick Scott of Florida. He opposes giving federal funding to states, additional funding.
What's going to happen in New Jersey if you can't get more federal dollars?
MURPHY: Yes, I haven't taken my cues ever from Rick Scott, so I won't start now.
But I thought Kevin was reasonable. But, on this one, I have to say, I'm going to -- I'm going to say time out. This is not abstract. We don't need to do a data crunch. We don't do an analysis.
We announced a budget on Friday for the next four months, and we had to cut or defer over $5 billion of expenditures, and this includes potentially laying off educators, firefighters, police, EMS, health care workers. This is not abstract. This is real.
It's not a blue state issue. It's an American issue. It's not a legacy, you guys didn't manage yourselves in the past better. That has nothing to do with this. This is about keeping those front -- those very front-line workers in their jobs, doing the heroic work they're doing, at our hour of need in the biggest health care crisis in the history of our country, the biggest economic crisis of the history of our country.
The last thing we need to do is to lay any of those folks off, and increase the unemployment rate and underserve our residents. So, we need it. And it's not just New Jersey. It's not just blue states. It's American states up and down the country.
BASH: Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey, thank you so much for joining me this morning. I appreciate it, sir.
MURPHY: Good to be with you, Dana.
BASH: And coming up next: the divide in America as the country reopens.
I will talk to Republican Senator Rick Scott, who says, quit telling us how to lead our lives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. DOUG BURGUM (R-ND): If someone is wearing a mask, they're not doing it to represent what political party they're in or what candidates they support.
They might be doing it because they have got a 5-year-old child who's -- who's been going through cancer treatments. They might have vulnerable adults in their life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: That's the Republican governor of North Dakota calling on his residents to skip the ideological and political debate over masks, as wearing one or not becomes a divisive issue.
Joining me now is Republican Senator Rick Scott of Florida.
Thank you so much for joining me, Senator.
You just heard that powerful message from your fellow Republican in North Dakota. Now Daytona police -- Daytona Beach police are saying that crowds were larger than normal yesterday.
What is your message to Floridians who want to be out and about? Should they wear masks to stay safe?
SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): Oh, I think -- well, look, if you're walking by yourself on the beach somewhere, probably, you don't have to.
But if you're -- if you're close to anybody, you ought to be -- you ought to wear a mask. If you go into a grocery store, you ought to wear a mask. So, yes, I -- I mean, you ought to -- look, we have to social distance. We have to wear a mask. We have to open our economy. We have to do it safely.
So, absolutely, should you be wearing a mask? Is it fun? No, they're hot. But yet we have to do it.
BASH: I have to ask you.
You said something that sounded a bit different on FOX this past week. You said: "We all understand social distancing. Quit telling us how to lead our lives."
And you went on to say, "Let us get back to the normal life the way we want to do it."
So, now you're saying that people should wear masks?
SCOTT: Oh, I -- no, well, I think they should, but it's a choice you get to make.
I mean, I grew up -- I grew up in a family. My mom had a 11th-grade education. My adopted dad had a sixth-grade education. They were still smart. And we don't need people telling us how to lead our lives every day.
Do I believe people ought to wear masks? Yes, I do believe people ought to wear masks. Do I believe people ought to social distance? Yes, I believe they ought to social distance. Do we need the president and governors and all the local officials
that tell us how to lead our lives every day? No. We will figure this out. We want to keep our family safe. We want to keep our friends safe. And we're going to do this in a safe manner.
So, I -- I trust the American public. I think they're going to make good decisions.
BASH: But the way you answered the question at first, it suggested that you also understand, as a leader, it is important to lead by example and to explain to your residents and your constituents what is healthy and what is necessary to stay safe, correct?
SCOTT: But I think -- I think you're right, lead by example.
I had four hurricanes. So I went out and I talked people into the problem. I said, here's -- here's what's happening. We're going to have nine foot of storm surge. We're going to have this much rain. We're going have this much wind, so you need to prepare yourself.
And so -- and they did, because people are smart. They want to -- they want to stay alive. They want to take care of their families.
I trust the American public to make good decisions.
BASH: President Trump announced on Friday that he was reopening places of worship, like churches, synagogues, and mosques. And he called them essential places. And he vowed to override governors, if necessary.
First, would you feel comfortable going to a church service this morning?
First off, it doesn't matter what a governor says or the president or any local leaders. We have the Bill of Rights. We have a right to worship. We have a right to get together and respect -- and we need to respect people's religion.
And so, if you want to go to your church, I believe people are going to do it safely. I believe they're going to social distance. I believe they're going to wear masks if they're close.
But we should allow people to do what they want to do. They have a right to their religion. They right -- have a right to worship their religion. And absolutely do I feel comfortable going to church.
BASH: What you just said suggests that churches and maybe other institutions, if they feel that it is their right to do something, they should kind of not follow the guidelines and, in some cases, the laws of governors.
Is that what you're saying? SCOTT: No.
I mean, first off, the church I go to, they're -- they're social distancing. People are wearing masks. And I think it's the right thing to do.
But do I believe that the government -- that the government should be telling us what to do? Do I believe the government -- government can tell us we don't have a right to worship? I don't believe they can. I believe I have -- I have -- I have -- all Floridians, all Americans have a Bill of Rights.
And we have a right to worship if we want to. I believe people are going to do it safely. And some -- some -- look, some people are not going to feel comfortable for a while. They're still going to do it through -- through the Internet or watching it on TV.
But there's people that are going to say, I want to go worship with my fellow -- with my -- the people that go -- that I generally go to church with. It makes -- I feel better doing that. Some people believe that way.
Let them do it. This is America. We have rights in this country. We have the Bill of Rights. Follow it.
BASH: Well, on that, following the law, the president said he believes he has the power to override governors.
You were the governor of Florida. Just when you're talking about constitutionally, and what he has the power to do or not do, do you think he can override governors on this?
SCOTT: I don't think it matters what any -- a governor or president says.
I have got the Bill of Rights. I have a right to go worship in church service if I want to do it. I don't believe they have a right to stop me.
I want you to take a listen to what President Trump said this week about mail-in voting in the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't want them to do mail-in ballots, because it's going to lead to total election fraud.
So, we don't want them to do mail-in ballots. We don't want anyone to do mail-in ballots.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Your state of Florida, along with dozens of other states, allows voters to mail-in absentee ballots without needing a reason. In fact, more than a million Florida Republicans voted by mail in 2018.
So -- and you know the president himself did that this spring.
So, do you agree with the president that mail-in voting in 2020 will lead to total election fraud?
SCOTT: Well, what I have always believed is, well, I want people to go vote. And we have got to do it where there's no fraud, so 100 percent participation, zero percent fraud.
So, with the way we do it in Florida, we do -- we have absentee ballots. We're able to -- we're able -- we have figured out how to do it in a safe manner.
Now, I think what a lot of the Democrats want to do is do only mail-in ballots. And I don't think that's right. I think -- I think you -- if -- as long as you can do it safely, as long as you can make sure there's no fraud, we ought to be able to do absentee ballots like we do it in Florida.
BASH: And given your experience, do you believe that there can be absentee ballot or mail-in voting without fraud?
SCOTT: Yes, if you -- if you follow the law, and you enforce the law on, and you set up the laws the right way, you can do it.
But the Democrats want to do only mail-in ballots. That's not what we do in Florida. You can do absentee, you can early-vote, or you can vote on Election Day. And we have laws that try to make sure there's no fraud.
SCOTT: And I think that's very important.
BASH: And that is very important. You said you have laws to make sure there's no fraud.
The president is saying that mail-in voting in 2020 will lead to total election fraud. It sounds like you disagree with that.
SCOTT: Well, I think what he's saying is, is that it's only -- they're only -- only talking about doing mail-in ballots.
And so as long -- look, I believe you can do it if you do it safely, and you have the laws, and everybody follows the laws. So, I think that -- that's the key.
And I think -- look, I'm fine with absentee ballots the way we do it in Florida, with early voting the way we do it in Florida, and with Election Day voting, clearly, which is -- which is clearly the safest.
BASH: Let's turn to the federal response. You just heard Governor Phil Murphy calling for more federal help from
the government. It's not only Democrats, though. Republican governors, Larry Hogan of Maryland, Mike DeWine of Ohio, they also say their states really need more money to avoid cuts to essential services, education, first responders, and the like.
What do you say to them?
SCOTT: Well, first off, I was a governor. I was a governor for eight years.
I watched a lot of these individuals. They were governors when I was. Like, Andrew Cuomo and I got elected at the same time. He didn't balance his budget. He borrowed more money every year.
I mean, his -- you look at New York. New York has probably 2.5 million people less than Florida, and their budget is almost double ours. Why? Because he doesn't want to cut anything. He -- he's involved in every liberal thing there is.
And then he wants Florida taxpayers to bail him out. Why? There's all these people from New York and New Jersey that moved here to get away from the ridiculous taxes up there. So -- and, by the way, what have we already done for them?
We have given them $50 billion for their Medicaid program. We don't know yet if their Medicaid program costs went up. We gave them $30 billion for their higher education and K-12. We don't know if their costs went up.
We gave them money through FEMA. We have given them other direct grants through other federal agencies, a total of $270 billion. And we have lent them -- we have -- we're -- we have a plan to lend them $500 billion.
SCOTT: That's over -- that's over a trillion dollars.
I mean, give me a break.
BASH: Senator you mentioned. OK.
Well, you mentioned New York. Let's look at the stats, because Florida gets more money from the federal government than it gives. But New York gives more to the federal government than it gets.
And I want you and our viewers to look at this study from the Rockefeller Institute. It found that Florida receives $25 billion more in programs than it pays in taxes. New York pays $22 billion more in taxes than it receives in programs.
So, why shouldn't Florida be willing to chip in to help New York?
SCOTT: Well, first off, the -- the government of New York has never sent a dime while I have been up there in D.C. to the federal government. They don't do it.
What happens is, their citizens, while they're working in New York, pay into Social Security and Medicare. And they get sick and tired of all the taxes up there and move to Florida and receive those benefits.
That's not the government of New York sending a dime to the federal government. So, that's exactly what's happened. That is -- that has nothing to do reality.
BASH: But all of this is taxpayer -- all of this money is taxpayer money that we're talking about.
SCOTT: Well, that's exactly right.
What -- what Andrew Cuomo and other governors want to do is, they want the federal government to tax citizens in other states, because they probably can't tax -- raise the taxes anymore because they have seen -- they're seeing what's happening.
All this money is moving out of their states to places like Florida, because their people are sick and tired of their taxes, their regulation, their unfunded pensions.
I mean, look at New Jersey. New Jersey has got total obligations, between unfunded pension and debt, of over $200 billion -- yes, $200 billion. How are they ever going to pay for that?
And so what they -- sure, they want us to -- Florida taxpayers to pay for them. I mean, that's what California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, they all do, because they won't fund their pensions, and they won't watch their balance sheets. They won't watch their budget every year.
I did that. It's a pain in the rear to watch what you have to do. But you know what? Every family does it. Every business does it. They have to live within their means.
But these -- these governors, they don't. They just borrow more money every year. They promise a pension plan. They don't fund it.
BASH: Senator, I want to turn to the issue of China.
You have had some pretty harsh words for China, both on the coronavirus outbreak and its latest restrictions on Hong Kong. You said, we're in -- quote -- "a new cold war, and the U.S. needs to fight against an adversary."
What should the U.S. response be? Should there be more tariffs? Should the president pull out of the trade deal?
Number one, the most effective thing we can do is, if every American citizen would only buy things that they can in the United States, and never buy another thing made in communist China, that would be the biggest thing. It's bigger than all the sanctions, bigger than everything else we do.
All right? So, stop buying anything made from communist China, and do your best to buy things made in America, and we will get this economy going again faster.
But, on top of that, let's remember what they do. They steal our jobs, our technology. They put over a million people in prison for their religion. They -- they were not transparent in this pandemic. Americans lost their lives and lost their jobs.
So, we -- I have a bill that would allow them to -- allow the president to sanction them if they don't cooperate. We should not allow their students coming in here, if they're going to try to steal the technology for a vaccine. I have a bill for that.
But we have got to hold them accountable.
BASH: And -- but do you think that the president -- I mean, obviously, a big part of his campaign, his reelection campaign, is to be tough on China, and to claim that his opponent is not.
That's -- there are lots of fact-checks to go on there. But how can the president say that and not be tougher on China on some of the things that you just called for?
SCOTT: Well, I think they have got to hold them accountable on this trade deal.
It doesn't -- at least what I know so far is, they're -- China's not buying what they said they were going to buy. So, we have got to hold them accountable. We have got to continue to look at whether we need to add more tariffs to make sure American companies are not getting hurt.
So, we have -- I have talked to the trade representative to make sure that that's happening. So -- but we do everything we can to buy American, do everything we can to sanction them if they don't cooperate.
But I think -- I think -- I agree with you. I think this election, a lot is going to be about, one, who's going to be tougher on China. And I think Joe Biden has not been tough on China, and Donald Trump has.
I think it's also going to be about capitalism and socialism. And, clearly, Donald Trump clearly believes in capitalism more than Joe Biden ever has.
BASH: All right. All right, Senator, those are going to be discussions that we're going to be -- and debates that I know you're going to be having for a long time.
I appreciate your time this morning. Thank you so much.
SCOTT: Bye-bye. Have a good day. BASH: And amusement parks in the senator's home state of Florida are reopening, but is it safe to go?
Plus: She says she's on the short list.
I will talk with Congresswoman Val Demings, who says she'd be honored to be Joe Biden's running mate.
BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Dana Bash.
In Florida, you can now visit Disney Springs. And Universal Orlando has plans to reopen in two weeks, with restrictions.
Joining me now to discuss this and more is Florida Congresswoman Val Demings, who is also on the short list of potential running mates for Joe Biden.
First, let's ask about -- I want to ask about your district. Some of the smaller theme parks and attractions are opening. Universal Orlando says it plans to open on June 5.
I know your district depends heavily on these parks for tourism and jobs. Are you comfortable with these theme parks reopening?
REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): Well, good morning. It's great to be with you on this Memorial Day weekend, as we honor the war dead.
Let me say this. Our primary responsibility is the health, safety and welfare of the people that we represent. And that's from the governor on down, and, of course, my responsibility, as a member of Congress.
I do believe that the theme parks have been very strategic, methodical, very thoughtful in terms of coordinating with public health officials and local officials to make sure that they are doing this right.
I know that they are religiously practicing the CDC guidelines within those areas that have opened. I think they're being smart about it.
But let me say this. I am concerned, because we know that this virus is not yet under control, and it will not be until we have a vaccine. And we don't know when that will be, regardless of some of the reports that we hear coming out of the White House.
But we just need to be vigilant and do what we need to do to keep people safe.
BASH: Congresswoman, I wanted to ask about the 2020 campaign.
Vice President Joe Biden apologized on Friday for a -- quote -- "cavalier" comment he made about black voters. And I want you to listen to it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Because it's a long way until November. We got more questions.
JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You got more questions.
But I tell anyone, if you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or Trump, then you ain't black.
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: It don't have nothing to do with Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Now, Republican Senator Tim Scott called it arrogant and insensitive. Former Republican Congresswoman Mia Love said it was incredibly offensive and racist.
What do you think about that comment? Was it out of line?
DEMINGS: You know, I think it's interesting that the president searched high and low to find African-American members of the Senate and a former member of Congress to speak out on this issue.
It'd be nice to hear other -- other Republicans, male or female, speak out on this issue.
However, look, the vice president went on the show. I'm so glad he did, because these are the conversations that we really need to be having.
And one of the things I said in a statement on Friday was that, look, we know we have some serious issues that we're dealing with in this country. And if we're going to be able to address them effectively, then we have got to hold everybody accountable, even those that we do support.
Look, the vice president shouldn't have said it. He apologized for it.
But I really think the gall and the nerve of President Trump to try to use this in his campaign, he who has, since day one, done everything within his power, of course supported by his enablers, to divide this country, particularly along racial lines?
Look, let's talk about race, because we definitely need to. We need -- we see it in housing. We see it in voting rights. We see it in health care. We see it in education.
Mr. President, let's do have a serious conversation about race in America. And how about working for all people that you are supposed to represent, not just the privileged few?
But the vice president apologized for it. He engaged in the conversation. I'm glad he did. There will be more, as you heard, the invitation to come to New York. And so we look forward to sitting down together, working on some of America's toughest issues. And race is one of them.
Before I let you go -- I'm sorry we're out of time -- the -- you said that you are on the former vice president's short list. Do you want to be vice president?
DEMINGS: What I want to do is continue to work hard to serve the American people.
Look, I have chosen tough jobs in my lifetime, a social worker working with broken children, a law enforcement officer, 27 years, the chief of police, and now as a member of Congress, trying to do things right to support the American people.
I want to do whatever job I can to continue to push this country in the right direction and make sure that America lives up to its promise for future generations.
BASH: Thank you, Congresswoman.
We had some technical problems getting your shot up. That is why this is truncated. We will have you back very soon. Appreciate it.
And thank you for spending your Sunday morning with us.