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Turning Crisis into an Opportunity; Resetting and Building the World Back Better; Christine Todd Whitman, Former Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is Interviewed About the Pandemic, Economy, Climate and Racism; Major Primary Election in New York and Kentucky; Trump-Endorsed Candidates Lost in North Carolina and Kentucky; Faiz Shakir, Former Campaign Manager, Bernie Sanders 2020, and Mark McKinnon, Former Bush Campaign Media Adviser, are Interviewed About Primary Elections; Interview With Artist Kadir Nelson. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired June 24, 2020 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
Building back better while tackling the climate crisis is at the heart of a more just and equal world. Former head of the EPA, Christine Todd Whitman,
Plus, which politicos will meet this moment of hope for change? What the latest primaries mean for Democrats and Republicans.
Then, massive unemployment and structural poverty because of the twin pandemics of racism and the coronavirus. Economist, Glenn Hubbard, tells
our Walter Isaacson, he has a plan to fix it.
And finally, making an illustrating history. I speak to Kadir Nelson, the artist behind some of the defining images of these times.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour working from home in London.
Now, there are any number of political sayings around the idea of turning a crisis into an opportunity. So, the triple calamity slamming the whole
world right now should be very fertile ground for resetting and building back better. The inextricable link between the coronavirus pandemic, the
economic catastrophe and violent racism has finally made the strongest case for more equality and more social justice.
Climate is key, of course, but after a brief respite from carbon emissions under lockdown, they're back as the economic engine turns on again. Recent
polls though show that two-thirds of Americans as well as majorities in Europe and many other parts of the world consider climate a key election
issue. So, will the leaders step up?
Christine Todd Whitman is the former Republican governor of New Jersey and she also was the head of the Environmental Protection Agency under
President George W. Bush, and she's joining me now from home in New Jersey.
Welcome to our program, Christine Todd Whitman.
Can I just ask you whether you agree with the premise that in your area of work, which is climate, you see this plus, you know, the pandemics sort of
creating an opportunity, perhaps once in a lifetime opportunity, for real serious addressing these issues?
CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN, FORMER ADMINISTRATOR, U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: I do. And I see it on both sides. I've seen it in the polls that
are actually pretty impressive. I mean, a Pew research poll showed that 89 percent of Republicans, mind you, this is Republicans, believe that there
was a problem. We needed to do something about it. They wanted to plant a lot of trees, which is one but just a little bit, but you had over a 50
percent who said tax of carbon producing businesses. So, there's an appetite there now that we didn't have before, and I think it does give us
an opportunity to take some of these steps that are necessary to address the issue.
AMANPOUR: And let me ask you about whether you also think there is a link between climate and the worst effects of it and minorities, certainly the
black community in the United States, certainly the minorities here and elsewhere. Let me just read what the climate assessment, the latest one
said, people who are already vulnerable including lower income and other marginalized communities have lower capacity to prepare for and cope with
extreme weather and climate-related events. Also, we know that people in low socioeconomic brackets sometimes live closest to the dirtiest parts of
their cities and towns. What -- where is -- do you see that link and whether that, at this moment, can be exploited for better change?
WHITMAN: Absolutely. I mean, there is no question about it, and you're seeing that relationship between increased temperatures and low birth
weight babies, premature babies, babies that have problems, ongoing problems. And of course, as you said, in many of the low-income
communities, they don't have access to a cool place, they may not have air- conditioning, they may be in slightly overcrowded conditions. And so, they are in -- and particular, this study showed amongst people of color, this
was one of the huge issues.
So, there is no question. All of this has come together to show that there is a real split here between society, white and brown and black. There's
just no question. The economic divide has been pushed out, so people can't deny it anymore and the inverse impact that climate has. And as people
watch -- we always know that people watch the news or the weather as much as anything else, I'm sorry to say it, but they're fascinated by that
because it affects them greatly.
And so, they're watching with great interest the Sahara dust bowl that is moving now across the country. And yet, they don't -- they're starting to
make that connection. Well, if that can move, then temperatures can move, then the climate is interrelated, and I think they're ready to take some
AMANPOUR: Well, how would that work? Because I've also seen figures that show that actually certainly in the United States, the black community,
minority communities are more worried and consider it more of an issue than perhaps white America does, going to the reasons you said. So, how does one
build -- if you were able to wave a magic wand or if you were governor or president, where do you take this moment now?
WHITMAN: Well, the problem, Christiane, is we need a leader, and we need someone who elevates this issue and says, this is important. This is what
we're going to do. We're going to have to address this. Because this affects all of us. I mean, it's not -- it is predominant -- not
predominantly, but it is, unfortunately, impacting black and minority communities adversely more than the white communities, but it affects all
of us. If it affects one, it affects all.
But we don't have that leader now. And unfortunately, I think we have to wait until an election to bring that forward. And I do think for the first
time in my memory, anyway, climate or an environmental issue is going to be an election issue.
AMANPOUR: So, you know, let me ask you about that, because basically, you can see that the race justice has been, you know, really spurred on by the
protests in the industries, obviously. Before that it was for climate justice and protests in the street, whether the school protest by Greta
Thunberg all over the world or Extinction Rebellion, they pushed leaders, maybe recalcitrant leaders.
How do you see this -- you know, the call from the street continuing to affect, potentially, policy change, even amongst reluctant, you know, as
you said, the president is certainly reluctant?
WHITMAN: Well, I mean, that's what has to happen. It has to -- all this -- if you remember back to when the Environmental Protection Agency was
established back in '69-'70, when all of that was happening, it was because of public pressure. It was because the people said, enough already. We're
tired of having bad air quality days when we can't go outside. We're trying of seeing rivers spontaneously combust and trees dying.
And that's what it will take and take public pressure on the elected officials and then, again, with that leader, you need to go back and look
at the facts which show you that, in fact, you can have economic growth and a clean and green environment. We've done that before. The statistics back
that up. And we need someone to push that forward.
AMANPOUR: Well, you've no doubt seen the articles that we've all been reading and there seems to be almost like a middle level management self-
censorship of -- in the EPA and elsewhere, because they're worried about their jobs, they know what the Trump administration will do if they put
forth papers that talk about manmade climate change and talk about solutions. So, that's out there.
What do you make -- because you have written to two of your fellow Republicans and I'm just going to quote a little bit, please, Republicans,
stand up to this man and his administration. Call him out when he ignores constitutional boundaries. Stop his divisiveness when he labels people
peacefully demonstrating as hoodlums. Let your constituents know you represent all of them and not just a single party.
So, I mean, obviously for you it goes beyond climate, but what -- how do you analyze the state of the Republican Party right now?
WHITMAN: Well, it's in trouble, I think. I know so many people who have been -- they don't want to be Democrats but they're not this kind of
Republican. And we're seeing it more and more, I believe. I mean, it's reflected in Trump's numbers. He is enormously unpopular. I think he's
probably the most unpopular president at this point in a reelection year of any president we've ever had. Now, that's -- whether that holds or not
remains to be seen.
There is a long time between now and November, unfortunately, and there are a lot of things that look as if this administration might try to do to
change the dynamic here. Some of it good in normal politics but some of it very scary, as far as I'm concerned. But people are beginning to see this
is not the change they want.
AMANPOUR: Well, I guess I was going to ask you, what scares you most? Last night we had another fellow Republican of yours, he was the former
secretary of defense, former senator from Maine, William Cohen, and he was very, very upset. He really believed that on the current track, there is a
threat to the very idea of democracy in the United States, he talked about -- he used the word tyranny. He was worried about potentially, you know,
votes being basically suppressed, i.e., stolen. You know, what do you think? You're also a very prominent Republican.
WHITMAN: I am very scared of all of that as well. I think they absolutely will make an effort to make it as difficult as possible for people to vote,
people who are not their supporters, to vote. We're already seeing steps that they're talking about taking, including having security at various
polling places, which smacks of intimidation. We've seen this before, unfortunately, in this country.
But I worry about the total disregard of the rule of law, the undermining of the constitution. But what really scares me in the next few months is
what I've seen in some behavior. The president keeps calling the pandemic kung flu. That's racist, and it is starting to reverberate on the Asian
community in the states. And Rudy Giuliani was on a Fox news broadcast, and he started saying that black lives matter, demonstrators want to take your
homes. That is really Ku Klux Klan type language. And that scares me.
And now, we're seeing demonstrators, I don't know whether the left, but we certainly have seen it on the right, getting violent, and that's not
helping anybody. And that's not -- I mean, I understand the frustrations, but right now, that's not what we want to see because it makes it too easy
for the president to continue to hammer home that anybody that opposes him is bad.
AMANPOUR: Obviously, we're going to keep an eye on all of that, and certainly with our next guest. But I want to ask you, in line with that
idea of an imperfect world continuing, and in line with the idea of changing and using this moment to build back better, on climate, the
activist and journalist, Bill McKibben, just wrote in the New Yorker, the pain expressed so eloquently in the richest country on earth these past few
weeks can't help but make one wonder, if we're just going to use solar power instead of coal to run the same sad mess of unfair and ugly
oppression, is it really worth it?
Wow. I mean, that is a pretty dystopian vision for the future, that no matter how much progress you might make on climate, the basic state of
affairs is so dark that it won't matter, anyway. Do you -- are you that pessimistic? I mean, I hear you, and as I say, others quite pessimistic in
what they're saying right now.
WHITMAN: But not in that. I don't agree with that. Because we've already seen with these riots that we've had because of the murder of George Floyd
and others that there have been absolute steps taken to reform policing. That's where we've got to start. It goes much deeper than that, but it also
raises those issues of housing, the discrepancy in housing, the discrepancy in health care, access to health care. All of those things now are being
talked about in a way they've never been talked about before.
So, as long as we keep moving forward on this, as long as those who have been so proactive and wanted to demonstrate, don't forget that the biggest
and best demonstration they can make is by voting in November, no matter what the administration tries to do to their right to exercise the
AMANPOUR: And again, for52 percent of Americans, climate is at the top of their list. Governor Christine Todd Whitman, thank you very much, indeed,
for joining us.
So, were last night's primaries a harbinger of things to come in what could be November's mail-in ballot presidential election? Counting of course is
slower and final results are still being tallied from several primary in several states yesterday.
Still, interesting trends are already apparent. Progressive Democrats in New York and Kentucky have the momentum against party establishment
figures. And a challenge to the president's grip on the Republican Party, a surprise loss for a candidate that he endorsed in North Carolina.
To discuss all this, I'm joined by Mark McKinnon. He's the former pollical adviser to major Republican such as George W. Bush and John McCain, and
Faiz Shakir, who was campaign manager for Bernie Sanders in his 2020 presidential run.
Gentlemen, welcome both to the program.
Faiz, can I first ask you, because I think a lot of the attention is on, you know, Democratic races, what's happening in Kentucky, what's happening
in New York. How do you assess this surgence, if you like, this insurgency by the progressive candidates in these primaries?
FAIZ SHAKIR, FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER, BERNIE SANDERS 2020: Well, Christiane, I believe that progressives are in the ascendancy within the
Democratic Party, particularly the progressive ideas, whether they're on climate change, economic justice, racial justice, those are the ones that
are the beating heart, the energy, the excitement of the Democratic Party.
You also see a generational divide. If you look at who are the progressives, they tend to be much younger. They are under the age of 45.
Quite frankly, a lot of the candidates who won or are on the cusp of winning are also in that age cohort. So, when you look at the future of
where this party is going, there is obviously attention with an establishment wing, but the direction is one that will be governed, I
think, both by progressive ideas and increasingly by progressive candidates and personnel.
AMANPOUR: And let's also say two of the ones who are mainly being looked at are in New York, and that's Jamaal Bowman, and in Kentucky, Charles
Booker. Both of them are black, and both of them clearly arrive on this particular moment as the nation, and the world is really, really looking at
racial justice right now. If they come knocking, if this movement comes knocking on the Democratic establishment's door, how will the party react,
do you think?
SHAKIR: Well, the mainstream of the establishment wing of the party has been reluctant and hesitant about its own politics for a long period of
time. What defines the establishment, of course, is status quo, preservation of what we've always had. And, of course, with Eliot Engel,
the person who -- incumbent who was knocked out after having served for decades in New York, it is a signal to many in the establishment that
status quo politics isn't going to cut it.
And that, I think if there is one common thread, and you look at ideology and the policies that govern that progressive wing it is this -- a desire
for disruption of this structural injustices that we see in society, whether they are health care injustices, whether they're climate
injustices, racial injustices, there is an understanding that the current structure of our policies and our economic systems does not work and
fundamentally need to be overhauled. Not just tweaked on the margins, not a little tax credit here or a little tweak here on the justice system, but
fundamentally challenged, and in that way bringing in new blood and new ideas that fundamentally overhaul and uproot the injustice are critical,
and that's where the direction is heading, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Let me turn to you, Mark McKinnon, because you have, you know, had so many successful campaigns under your belt and you've really seen
this for so many decades. Obviously, President Trump still has the majority of the Republican Party loyal to him. He's had dozens and dozens of
successful candidates over the years.
But yesterday, two of the ones he preferred and endorsed lost, North Carolina and in Kentucky. Is this part of what you see as this amazing
moment in American history right now or is it a flash in the pan? What does this say to you and to the Republicans?
MARK MCKINNON, FORMER BUSH CAMPAIGN MEDIA ADVISER: I think we're seeing a really dramatic shift, Christiane. Trump has been invincible, at least in
the Republican Party, and this is only the second time in two weeks and two elections yesterday and one a couple weeks ago where the Trump-endorsed
candidate did not win.
And this case, we elected a 24-year-old in North California over the endorsed candidate of Donald Trump and his chief of staff, Mark Meadows,
whose seat it was. And not only did he beat the Trump-endorsed candidate, he beat him by two-thirds of the vote. He had 60 to 30 percent of the
votes. So, it was a thumping. And the same thing with Thomas Massie, who is an incumbent in Kentucky, Donald Trump said he would be a disaster for
America if he were reelected. He won by 80 to 11.
So, there are definitely cracks in the invincibility notion of Donald Trump, even within the Republican Party. Now, that's not to say these
candidates are opposed to Trump, they're supportive of Trump and they -- so, there is still a lot of rank and file support for Donald Trump, but the
fact he's losing candidates now suggests a crack in the armor that we hadn't seen before.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, that's really interesting, because I want to also ask you how you -- I know it's five or so months until the election, but the
numbers clear show Joe Biden ahead, and I wonder what you make of that, whether it's something that the president can make up, and how you analyze
what's happening in the key swing states.
MCKINNON: Well, I just wrote a column for "Vanity Fair" that looks at this question of what I call the double haters, Christiane. And these are people
who don't like President Trump or Joe Biden. And we know in 2016, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were unpopular, but the people who didn't
like Trump and didn't like Clinton ended up voting for Trump by a margin of 16 points. So, those double haters actually made the difference in the
election and are very likely to again.
But Trump was leading Clinton by those double haters four years ago. Biden is leading Trump right now by anywhere from 30 to 60 points among those
people who don't like either candidate. And some polling came out today, by the way, that said that, among people who have not just an unfavorable
opinion but a very unfavorable opinion of Donald Trump are at 50 percent. And the people who have a very unfavorable opinion of Joe Biden is just
half of that, it's 25 percent.
So, those double haters could make a real difference in this election. And right now, they're leaning very heavily toward Joe Biden.
AMANPOUR: That is very interesting. Faiz Shakir, obviously Bernie Sanders was your candidate, but nonetheless, presumably, obviously, they all want
and Sanders wants the Democrat to win. Do you see -- are you kind of licking your chops when you hear what Mark McKinnon is saying and the
numbers that you obviously read internally or are you still concerned about the outcome in November?
SHAKIR: I mean, yes. No, there's no resting on your laurels. In fact, when you look at the "New York Times" poll today that indicated that Biden is up
by large numbers, it might be 14 points, something along those lines, on the issue of the economy, Trump was actually up by five points. And so,
that's a warning sign, of course, that if the -- if we move into a different direction as a nation of what kind of debate we're going to have,
we should, obviously, be defeating Donald Trump on the issue of the economy when you have tens of millions of people unemployed and long-term
unemployment for as long as, you know, probably for decades, unfortunately, small businesses being crushed under this pandemic. You're thinking about
who should lead this economy. I don't believe it's Donald Trump.
But that's a warning sign. If you look at why I think Joe Biden is doing well when he talks about restoring the soul of this nation, there is a
character element to it. It's just essentially compassion that is completely lost with Donald Trump, and I think if it's a values-driven
election, I think it's a slam-dunk and we obviously hope Joe Biden will win and we'll do everything in our power to make sure he does.
But then, there's -- on part of part of progressives, a desire to make sure that you don't merely cast a vote against Donald Trump, you should be
casting a vote for Joe Biden as well, and that in doing so, we should urge Joe Biden to put forward policies that excite people, particularly younger
voters who I think could be critical in many states, excite communities of color and give them a reason be for you and also to hopefully become a
progressive president who will bring not only a change in direction from Donald Trump but the much-needed systemic reforms this country needs.
AMANPOUR: So, let me talk about black voters, because this is the moment right now, and there is an article in the -- that's being, you know, talked
about a lot, headlined, can Biden survive the despair of the black Democrat? And, you know, obviously, there are very, very few black
senators, there are very, very few at all. And yet, we've just been talking about the primaries and who has won those key ones that we were just
talking about, well, who has the momentum, anyway.
And people are saying could 2020 be, for black candidates, what 2018 was for female congressional candidates? I'm going to ask you, Faiz, and then
I'm going to ask Mark McKinnon to weigh in.
SHAKIR: Well, I chuckle a little bit, Christiane, because, of course, in Charles Booker in Kentucky, you had a talented Africa-American running,
well, a man meeting the moment, quite frankly, a wonderful person coming from working class roots, and yet, the establishment of our party was
fighting against him. In fact, you know, the person he's running against has a $20 million war chest and was running lots and lots of ads in the
last days here to try to defeat him.
And all I'm saying is that establishment has suggested to put a thumb on the scale here against him. I would hope it would remain more of an open
contest in allowing some of these contestants like Jamaal Bowman, like Charles Booker, like Mondaire Jones and of many others around the country,
to give them a fair shot, because I think what you're seeing is this kind of consternation where the -- the tension, a health tension of which
direction should we go, and I don't think it's healthy for anybody to try to repress it.
Let's let that energy, let's let that excitement build and let's see what comes out of this, what talented candidates, what directions we should
pursue. I don't think we should suggest at this point in time (INAUDIBLE) here is the single sole answer and this -- we as establishments will
determine the candidates for you.
So, I think you're right that if they took their thumbs off the scale, there's going to be a lot of talented candidates of color in Texas,
California, New York, all across this country who are about to emerge as next great next future leaders of the Democratic Party.
AMANPOUR: And, Mark, I mean, there have only been 10 black senators in the whole of U.S. history. And now, six black candidates, five Democrats, one
Republican. You know, in 2016, President Trump appealed to the black votes, said, what have you got to lose, you remember? You know, you can ask that
question today and probably the answer will be very pointed.
What can this Republican Party do, because the president is, again, saying it, going after, you know, the votes of his African-American friends, as he
puts it? Do you think that's even got a hope in hell in today's climate?
MCKINNON: Well, what I think is that race has really become not just a claim and a fire in our country, it's become a resident theme that voters
are really making decisions over right now. And I think we're having a dialogue and an intervention on these issues that's going to be very long-
lasting and much different than anything we've seen in recent years.
And the problem for Donald Trump is that he looks at this intellectually and says, oh, well, listen, I did the criminal justice reform that helps a
lot of African-Americans, I've done more jobs for African-Americans. But on the issue of race relations, he does not have a touch or a tone that at it
all makes the moment. And that's the problem. He talks about thugs in the street. African-Americans hear that. He -- they understand that he
perceives them not as voters to help but thugs to defeat. So, that's the real problem.
And by the way, this issue, as Faiz said, very often, almost always presidential elections are determined on the direction of the country and
the economy. In this case it's weird because even Republicans think the direction of the country is way off, but they think Donald Trump can do a
good job in the economy. So, the fact that they think the direction of the country is wrong has a lot to do with race relations and how he's handling
it. And it's not being handled well in the eyes of not just Democrats but Republicans.
AMANPOUR: So, I want to put to both of you what Republicans are saying about the potential perils of a second term, and before that, the potential
peril around the November election. You probably heard Governor Christine Todd Whitman and what she's saying to her fellow Republicans. And
yesterday, we had Former Secretary of Defense William Cohen on the program. And this is one of the concerns he raised. Just take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: He's already calling into question the authenticity, the legitimacy of the vote before it's ever
taken. And so, I think that he's putting in the soil, he's seeding the soil with these poisonous weeds to say, no matter what happens, I'm going to
declare this election invalid, I'm going to stay here until we have a recount. I'm going to force a recount. I don't think he'll accept the
results assuming that he losses. And again, that's a big assumption because I think they'll do whatever they can to suppress the vote in those states,
in those areas where minorities are strongest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, it's really dramatic what is being feared and what is being said. Faiz, what do you think the Democrats have to do to warn their
voters, you know, to protect their election?
SHAKIR: I mean, I would be interested if Mark agrees with this, but my assessment of where Donald Trump is, and his character, quite frankly, is
he's going to make this the ugliest election of our lifetime. He's a master of distraction. He will pull Joe Biden into the ugliest, like crazy, inane
theories or quite frankly, personal derogatory attacks. If there is one line of attack that he's used against Biden repeatedly, is that essentially
that Joe Biden has a screw loose or something.
That I think he's going to pull even deeper and uglier on Joe Biden, try to drag him into some of these pig in the mud, get it down here with me and
make this an ugly election. I think the challenge for Joe Biden, quite frankly, and Democrat, is to continue to try to rise above that and hope
that general voters don't want someone to dive down into the mud with Donald Trump.
And I think right now thus far, the Biden campaign has played it well and has not kind of engaged in a tit for tat and gotten down there in the
mudslinging. But I think there will be temptation, particularly, as you get closer to debates, and Donald Trump will escalate, my guess is, and of
course ramp up the rhetoric in every which way to try to make you focus on him as a distraction rather than the fundamental policy problems facing
AMANPOUR: And Mark McKinnon, you've seen, you know, all the fears about voter suppression. You saw what happened in Kentucky. I mean, it went well
in the end, but before that, in Georgia and all the issues around Wisconsin. Do you fear for the integrity of the election? Do you fear if
there is slow results, like, obviously, with so many mail-in ballots, it gives room to question an election and, you know, imperil the result? What
do you fear most?
MCKINNON: Well, I don't fear the integrity of the election itself, I fear Donald Trump will say about the election, and he's already setting the
table for an opportunity where he can cry fraud, and he's going to pin it to mail-in ballots. Because as a result of the pandemic, we are in many
states going to be experimenting for the first time with mail-in ballots, and that in itself means that it's probably even unlikely that we may not
have a clear decision election night.
I produce a documentary series for showtime called "The Circus." We were planning to come back two weeks before the convention. We're now pushing
those two weeks until after the election because we think that there's a very good chance the election will not be decided election night, and they
will be counting ballots for days, maybe even weeks, after the election, which gives Donald Trump the opportunity to say, see, I told you so.
AMANPOUR: So, much more to keep our eye on. Gentlemen, thank you very much for joining us. Thank you so much.
So, the economy, of course, is what voters have on their mind as some 45 million Americans filed for unemployment since mid-March. So, what does a
AMANPOUR: So much more to keep our eye on.
Gentlemen, thank you very much for joining us. Thank you so much.
So, the economy, of course, is what voters have on their mind, as some 45 million Americans filed for unemployment since mid-March. So, what does a
successful economic recovery plan look like?
Our next guest thinks he has the answer, or an answer, anyway. Glenn Hubbard was President George W. Bush's economic adviser. And he is now a
professor of finance and economics at Columbia University Business School, looking at bipartisan solutions to the current crisis.
And here is telling our Walter Isaacson what he's come up with.
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Christiane.
And, Professor Glenn Hubbard, welcome to the show.
GLENN HUBBARD, DEAN, COLUMBIA BUSINESS SCHOOL: Thank you.
ISAACSON: You just put out a report, two Democrats, two Republicans, from the Aspen Economic Strategy Group, in which you talk about getting people
back to work and getting the economy reopened.
Why did you produce that report? Was there some dissatisfaction with the way both political parties are handling this?
HUBBARD: Well, I think yes and no, if I can sound too much like an economist in saying that.
Yes, in the sense of a huge, big aspread between an enormous package suggested by Speaker Pelosi, and some suggestions on the other side would
be very little. So we felt the need for that, but also to remind people what this pandemic is about and how reopening happens. And the kind of
policies you need for that are very different from what we have done in the past.
ISAACSON: How is the proposals that you all have made, this bipartisan set of proposals, different from the CARES Act and PPP?
HUBBARD: Partly, it's about flexibility.
These proposals involve triggers, depending on how high unemployment is or how bad an economic situation is. So, for example, if you're optimistic, if
you think there's a V-shaped recovery, the proposals we suggest won't cost nearly as much as if you think they're pessimistic.
But our view is, our leaders don't know. We economists don't know exactly what we're looking at. We need to be flexible. Second, we would move away
from PPP toward more general small business support through lending programs, some of which the Federal Reserve is trying to stand up, and by
supporting work with more flexible unemployment insurance benefits, but also doubling the Earned Income Tax Credit during this period really to
support low-wage work.
We also would provide state and local governments a block grant to help public education, to help their health care systems. State and local
governments have had a big revenue hit, just like business, and need that support.
Altogether, an optimistic recovery is about a trillion dollars.
ISAACSON: You say you would provide help to state and local governments, aid to them. Does that end up costing a lot of money, or do you think that
pays off in the long run?
HUBBARD: Well, it certainly will cost money in the near term. We're suggesting a $500 billion block grant, which is similar to the proposals
from the National Governors Association and others.
But we think it's very effective. The multiplier on stopping the job losses, the output losses of states is very, very high. We have learned
that in previous recessions, and we think it's very important.
There's a political debate on how states may or may not have gotten themselves into trouble for a variety of reasons. But we think you can --
you can tailor this approach to avoid that discussion right now, and come back to it later.
ISAACSON: In making these proposals, you're one of the two Republican members of this report. You worked for George Bush 43.
Did you work with the White House in doing this? Or do you find it more useful to work with Republican leaders in Congress?
HUBBARD: Well, I have certainly tried to answer any questions the White House might have and work with them. I think they're on a similar page.
Much of the work I have done personally has been with Republican leaders in the Congress.
ISAACSON: Do you that the White House and the administration have been effective in administering the original PPP program?
HUBBARD: I think there were a number of hiccups in the PPP programs, some of which were from complications, and it's a tough time. But some of them
were rules that just weren't in the legislation that I think frustrated PPP.
I think the Paycheck Protection Program is now off to a much better resolution than it started. But more work needs to be done.
I'm focusing my attention the Main Street Lending Facility, which is the new lending version of that. That too is suffering from some hiccups and
needs a lot of help.
ISAACSON: What hiccups are they suffering from in helping people on Main Street and the businesses on Main Street?
HUBBARD: Well, I think the programs and its design is trying not to lose money.
And in the middle of a financial crisis, lending to small and midsized businesses, you are going to lose money. If you don't lose money, that
means you're just not setting it up to lend to people who need it.
So I think we have to get past that mind-set, that there are a number of changes in the weeds that would make banks more eager to participate and
make small businesses more eager to borrow. And I think the Fed is attuned to that. Keep in mind, this is not something the Fed has done before. It
was thrown in the Fed's lap.
But if the Fed is going to use a word like Main Street, they need to do it right.
ISAACSON: The Fed has a lot of money still left over, doesn't it, from the original set of appropriations or budget? Why have they not used it?
HUBBARD: Well, that's a very good question.
They were appropriated $454 billion in the CARES Act to stand up a number of these facilities, one of which is Main Street. And they have been slow
to do that. Again, part of it is not wanting to lose the money. But if Congress appropriated that money, they obviously expected there was some
risk of loss, or it wouldn't have done it.
The Treasury secretary has signed off, giving the people's blessing. So I think the Fed needs to pick up its speed a little in getting the Main
Street program off the ground.
ISAACSON: So how would you have your new program be different so that it could really help Main Street?
Because you have written in "The Wall Street Journal" that Main Street is getting slammed, small businesses are getting slammed, and it's not being
administered correctly to help.
HUBBARD: Well, it's a very good question.
Right now, small business is in a lot of trouble in the reopening phase, and it needs a different kind of help than it did during the shutdown
phase. The Main Street program could help by lending to businesses that would have been creditworthy just prior to the onset of COVID-19.
That requires banks doing their underwriting, but it also means the banks shouldn't be punished for every loan that goes bad. Borrowers need a lot of
flexibility in the use of the funds. And I think there's some suggestions that we offer in the report. We're not trying to be prescriptive, but just
things the Fed might want to consider, if it sets up the program and no one comes.
ISAACSON: One of the things in your report was that you want to use loan guarantees done by banks, and that, you said, was so that we really could
have a test to say all, are these businesses viable or not?
Why did you make that change from the original type of program we had?
HUBBARD: Well, the original program we had, of course, was effectively grants to businesses.
As we enter a phase where people are going back to work, really, the question is giving businesses credit to get back on their feet. And we
think that the loan guarantee approach will get banks involved and get them involved in their underwriting, but really put the losses mainly on the
Treasury if the economy is weak.
ISAACSON: In your report, you also talk about, worry about disincentives to work, that sometimes you can design a program, and it'll sort of be
paying people not to work. How did you try to fix that?
HUBBARD: Well, in the CARES Act, there was a lump sum federal unemployment insurance payment on top of state payments that would have been above the
wage of work for many years.
So what we suggested was doing it as a percentage replacement, so that that problem does not arise. And particularly during a time where we hope people
are going to be going back to work, we're reopening the economy, the last thing we want to do is a disincentive.
So we want to support people going back to work, but not in a way that provides perverse incentives. And we think we have done that. We have also
linked it to triggers for each state's unemployment rate, because this reopening is going to be varied across the country in how easy it is.
ISAACSON: Well, let me get specific. It was about $600 weekly, right, that happened before.
ISAACSON: What are you all doing now?
HUBBARD: It would be a percentage replacement rate that would get people up to about 80 to 90 percent of the average wage, around $400 at most for
most people, so smaller, but still a very significant replacement.
And, remember, this is on top of the traditional unemployment insurance.
ISAACSON: Would you do things like increase what are called food stamps or those type of programs to make sure that the people really suffering now
were -- had a better safety net?
HUBBARD: Yes, we did suggest increasing support during this period for the SNAP program that provides food assistance for low-income Americans.
We thought there were a number of things in this proposal involving SNAP, involving the Earned Income Tax Credit and other programs that probably are
good reforms generally. But we think, in this context, they're particularly important.
One of the things COVID has done is shone a light on the hardships many low Americans face going to work.
ISAACSON: Well, yes, the low-income Americans are the ones who've gotten particularly slammed during this.
ISAACSON: And especially African-Americans have been slammed by this, and then the George Floyd protests sort of shattered their faith in our
ISAACSON: What are you doing for that type of structural inequality?
HUBBARD: Well, we have advocated a pandemic Earned Income Tax Credit that would double the Earned Income Tax Credit during the period of the
pandemic. But, frankly, some of us, as co-authors, have in our own work recommended a big expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit to childless
workers in general.
We need to be doing more to support low-wage work in the country. That's going to be obviously particularly important for some groups in the
population. But, frankly, if people aren't on the ladder of work, they can't move up. As a society, if we believe in opportunity, we really need
to do. And the rate of return on that investment is very, very high.
ISAACSON: Give me some examples from your own work of how you try to focus on getting people to be able to move up the economic ladder.
HUBBARD: Well, I think there are a couple of things. Let's talk about preparation and the work itself.
In terms of preparation, the unsung heroes in the country here are community colleges. And yet community colleges have had their funding cut
in many states for a very long time. Part of what we're doing in this proposal is offering a block grant of support to community colleges and
public universities to restore that.
There are some people who talk about -- quote -- "free college," but that doesn't provide the money to the states to stand up the community college.
So, I think that's an empty promise. A better promise is to say, let's support what community colleges are trying to do for training.
Then, once people work, let's support low-wage work. So the thesis of the Earned Income Tax Credit, of course, is that, if I'm working, I get extra
support that makes my reward to work higher than its private market value. That's what the EITC, Earned Income Tax Credit, does. It needs to be more
And it needs to support childless workers who are young people just starting out. So, I think, if we focus on preparation, and we focus on work
support, we will have done a lot of good, not just in the pandemic, but in our economy in general.
ISAACSON: This is all going to cost a lot of money. I know, in your report, you say the money can -- is a wide range, depending on how fast the
recovery comes and how fast we defeat the coronavirus.
But how are we going to afford these things? Are you worried now about the deficit that we're racking up?
HUBBARD: Of course I'm worried that. But I begin by always asking myself, what's the counterfactual?
Doing nothing isn't feasible. The economic loss that we would face without these interventions is very large. That's why we wrote the report. So, a
trillion dollars is a lot of money. And it could even be $2 trillion, if the recovery is weaker.
But it would be harder still for the government if we did nothing. This is like a war. And in a war, one borrows a lot of money and then pays it back
later. There will be a day of reckoning. We will have to have a discussion of fiscal reform, of taxes, of spending to pay for this, and a number of
But in the middle of the war, the goal should be to win it.
ISAACSON: The president just floated the idea of another stimulus check, just sending out another check to people. That's not in your proposal. What
do you think of that? And do you think there are better ways to be doing this?
HUBBARD: Well, I could certainly make an argument for doing that, depending on the shape of the recovery.
But we felt that our proposal that we were focused on the reopening, and in a reopening world, there will be opportunities for people to go back to
work. And so what we want to do is support that and, for people who aren't as fortunate to be back to work quickly, support them through the
unemployment insurance system, through short-term compensation and other programs.
ISAACSON: Unemployment is now up at 14 percent. There's some people who just may never get their jobs back. What do you do for them?
HUBBARD: Well, the recovery is going to be slow for employment.
If you look at the Congressional Budget Office's forecast, even a year from now, we could be at 9 percent, plus unemployment. So we will need cyclical
support for people for quite a while. But the deeper part of your question is, how do we prepare people whose jobs just may not come back or who may
need to retrain for something else?
And I think that's really about support to attend community colleges or other institutions that focus on that, and then support for reentry into
work, expansions of the Earned Income Tax Credit and programs like that.
Those issues were, of course, present before COVID. But I think COVID has accentuated them.
ISAACSON: There's been a spike in cases, especially in places like Florida that reopened.
Are you worried that businesses are going to have to re-close, close down again? And can we close the economy again?
HUBBARD: Well, I think businesses are very worried about that, which is why there's such an emphasis on safety. Many employers long after
regulation says they can do something are likely to move much slower as a result.
So, I think, irrespective of what regulation allows, employers are going to go slowly until they figure this out. To completely re-shut the economy
again would be an economic calamity. We really need to avoid that.
And the way to avoid that is by being careful and measured and reasonable in the reopening.
ISAACSON: We sometimes say, especially down here in New Orleans, when we have a hurricane, that a crisis shouldn't be wasted.
What type of structural changes would you do to America and its economy and its work force coming out of this pandemic?
HUBBARD: Well, part of it is about preparing people and supporting work. I think that was a problem long before COVID-19.
But COVID-19 really shone a light on how unequal that preparation is and how unequal that support is. I think it's time for that kind of structural
reform. And it's also time to reform the way we think about labor market policies generally.
Programs like unemployment insurance were designed in the 1930s for losing your job for a short period of time and then getting it right back, when we
know, for years, that many of the transitions in the labor market are much more structural, and we need a different way of dealing with them.
Hopefully, one of the side effects, if you will, of COVID might be shining a light on the need for those kinds of policies.
ISAACSON: Professor Glenn Hubbard, thank you for joining us tonight on the show.
HUBBARD: My pleasure. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, we look at art on the front lines of our current political moment, or should I say on the front covers?
The work of the American artist Kadir Nelson has been a prism through which the world can see that black lives matter, creating this imagery for "The
New Yorker" and "Rolling Stone" magazines. His art hangs also in the House of Representatives and at the National Museum of African-American History
and Culture among other institutions.
Kadir Nelson is joining us now from his home in Southern California.
Welcome to the program.
Your covers are receiving a huge amount of deserved acclaim. And I want to put up to start with the one from "The New Yorker" which you call, "Say
And I just would like you to walk me through this incredibly obvious, but also very complex and full piece of art there.
KADIR NELSON, ARTIST: Well, the painting "Say Their Names" is a -- it's a memorial of sorts, and a history lesson of -- about the history of African-
American -- of violence against African-Americans, of discriminations, descending from the beginnings in slavery, in transatlantic slavery, the
relationship between Africans and Europeans and all their descendants.
And all of it was really ignited by the murder of George Floyd. So, George Floyd is front and center. And within the shadow of his body is this long
history of this whole story, beginning with the African-American or African slaves, slave people at the bottom of the image.
And we roll all the way through, and you see -- a man -- his name is Gordon -- on the bottom right. He's very much tortured. You see his very scarred
back. And it rolls all the way through the overseer on the horseback, the police on the paddy wagon, all the way up to Rodney King.
And then, of course, you see all the victims who have -- we have become very familiar with as of late at the very top of the image. And it's a very
dark portrait. There are a number of other things in there as well, but it's a very dark portrait, and it is given, I think, a bit more soul and
spirit and reverence by the blue periwinkle flowers that are sprinkled throughout the composition.
And I learned from my wife that the burials of enslaved people, enslaved African-American people, were marked by this flower. So that is pretty much
the gist of what this painting is about.
AMANPOUR: And it's really captured the moment.
I was going to ask you about the periwinkle, because I knew it had a symbolism, but you have explained it. And it is powerful to see the very
somber, obviously, the dark painting that you have created, lit up at the bottom, at least with these special flowers.
Does that reflect what you feel? Do you feel that, out of all of this historic pain, that there is some light somewhere at the end of this
NELSON: I think there's always light at the end of the tunnel.
This is -- I think this incident, these incidents have really opened up a conversation, a larger conversation. I mean, I think folks like myself,
artists, musicians, writers, historians, academics, we have been talking about this for a very long time.
But, often, it had fallen on deaf ears. But I think that the recent incidents have become a catalyst to open up this larger dialogue about what
is really going on, what has been going on, and how -- what do we do to fix this issue, because it's systemic, it's been here for a very long time, and
it's time that we deal with it.
And this is the time to deal with it.
AMANPOUR: I wonder whether your illustration, your painting for "Rolling Stone," which you have entitled "American Uprising" -- and it's very
different visually, obviously. It's got power. It's got forward momentum on the cover of the "Rolling Stone" in this image, and it obviously takes its
artistic trend from an old master, Delacroix.
So I just wondered if you could explain that and whether that goes to what you hope this moment is.
NELSON: Well, I think that "American Uprising" is -- it's a tribute. It's a tribute to this moment in history. It's a tribute to a celebration and
marking this moment in history, and that -- and celebrating the people who have been at the root, at the foundation of this movement, who have been
spearheading this movement, is African-American women.
And the first image that came to mind of a woman leading a revolution was, of course, Liberty Leading the People by Delacroix. And it just made
perfect sense for -- to reinvent that classic painting and bring it up to a contemporary time and moment to celebrate what's going on in the world.
AMANPOUR: It really is -- it really has a very, very powerful message.
I just want to ask you -- and we're seeing the Delacroix -- the inspiration for that. We're seeing that right now on screen.
But I want to also ask you about the portrait you made for the pandemic, COVID-19, called "After the Storm." Again, here's a completely different
look. What are you conveying there, because I think you have got pictures - - yes, you have -- I'm looking -- people holding hands.
Well, obviously, not many people are doing that right now.
It's very interesting. As this -- as history unfolds, we were all -- at least in America, we were at the very beginning of this pandemic, and the
shutdown and social distancing and isolating ourselves at home.
And so, very early on, this is one of the things I think that we were missing as human beings, was human touch. So it was a -- it is a very
optimistic idea of coming together, and realistic, of coming together to overcome this storm that we're facing.
And the storm has continued to evolve in different ways. But only together can we weather this storm. A house divided cannot stand. So that is really
the idea behind "After the Storm."
AMANPOUR: And I could go on for ages with you, because it's so fascinating.
But in the last little bit that we have, you also have won major awards for your children's books and illustrations. And I think you believe that
educating kids of all races on everything that we go through, but particularly racism and African-American history, is fundamental.
Just talk to me a little bit about that.
NELSON: Well, I think -- I mean, as I mentioned earlier, we -- I think a lot of people like myself, a lot of creative entities, we (AUDIO GAP) for
quite a long time.
And I and -- myself and Kwame Alexander, who wrote the book "Undefeated," "The Undefeated," which won the Caldecott Medal this year, this is really
part of that conversation of celebrating this history, this history, African-American history, and sharing it in a way that's honest, that is
tender, and easily -- easy to absorb, absorb by young people.
And the best way to do that for us -- to have done that -- for us was to do it through children's literature. So, "The Undefeated" is really -- it's a
poem about African-Americans and our love for America, and our tribulations and very long history of triumph, defeat -- or actually not defeat. It's
called "The Undefeated" -- about triumph, tribulations and overcoming all of these -- all this adversity and remaining undefeated.
AMANPOUR: Kadir Nelson, thank you so much. Really wonderful work. Thanks for sharing it with us.
And that is it for now. Thanks for watching, and goodbye from London.