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State of U.S. Economy?; Catholic Church and President Biden; Framing Britney Spears; Interview with Abigail Disney. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired June 24, 2021 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're still digging out of an economic collapse.
GOLODRYGA (voice-over): With a massive deal on infrastructure within reach, I asked McKinsey economist Susan Lund what's in store for the
SAMANTHA STARK, DIRECTOR, "FRAMING BRITNEY SPEARS": Today, she said, I didn't know I could file a petition to end the conservatorship. Can you
imagine? Thirteen years has gone by.
GOLODRYGA: Britney Spears breaks her silence to share wrenching details of her years-long ordeal, but will her emotional testimony make a difference
in her case?
ABIGAIL DISNEY, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER: Dynasties are very bad for democracy, very bad.
GOLODRYGA: Documentary filmmaker and heiress Abigail Disney tells Hari Sreenivasan about the dark side of dynastic wealth.
Plus, I speak to Vatican analyst and author John Allen about why some Catholic bishops are trying to deny communion to President Biden.
GOLODRYGA: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.
"We have a deal." Those are the words today from President Biden, as he reached to break through with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on
infrastructure. At stake is not just a boost for America's ailing roads and bridges, but a rehaul of the economy after a devastating pandemic.
And while the latest figures show the American engine has indeed restarted, with the economy growing at just over 6 percent and jobless claims at their
lowest level in over a year, experts say prepare for a bumpy ride.
Meanwhile, a paradox of still relatively high unemployment rates, with many industries suffering labor shortages, is confounding analysts. So, what is
really going on? And will this recovery benefit every American?
To make sense of all of this, my first guest today is Susan Lund. He is an economist at McKinsey Global Institute.
Susan, welcome to the program. Welcome to some breaking news here for us, with the president saying that he has a deal with those 10 senators on an
infrastructure bill that is lower than the one he had initially proposed at over $2 trillion. We're now looking at one that's a little over $1
But what is your take on this? And how significant is it to his overall $4 trillion plan?
SUSAN LUND, MCKINSEY GLOBAL INSTITUTE: It's great news. As an economist, I have to like infrastructure.
And the U.S. has underinvested in infrastructure now for several decades. So this is desperately needed. And it's a great moment, because, as you
know, there's still many people not working who were working before the pandemic.
And many of these investments in infrastructure are going to create good jobs in the short term, and they're going to set the economy on a path for
faster long-term growth.
GOLODRYGA: And so, when we're talking about the need for infrastructure in this country, one need look no further than the city you're in. There was a
bridge collapse earlier this week. And, obviously, we have seen the devastation in Miami with that apartment building collapse as well. We
still don't know the details yet.
But for the overall picture and what I had mentioned going into this conversation, we have mixed signals from the economy. The unemployment rate
is still high. It's lower than it was at the height of the pandemic, but it's 5.8 percent. It was 3.5 percent before the pandemic began.
And yet we're hearing employers saying they cannot find workers. So how do you make sense of all of this?
LUND: Well, there are a complex set of reasons why I think many companies are finding it hard to attract workers.
Like, one factor is that many people have dropped out of the labor force, particularly women. We risk -- if we don't bring these people back into the
labor force, many companies risk undoing a lot of the progress they had made on diversity and gender parity over the last few years, because the
need to homeschool children, do more cooking and cleaning, and the strains of the pandemic just proved to be too much.
So that's one set of factors. In addition, I think that what companies are finding is that many people who did, were furloughed or unemployed, took
the opportunity to change what they were doing. So they don't necessarily want to go back to the same job they had.
And we also see people in jobs quitting them right now to switch.
GOLODRYGA: Another conversation that people are having across the country, especially in Washington there, is inflation.
Obviously, we have seen the numbers spike over the last couple of months. Inflation hit 5 percent, more than double the target rate there. Consumer
prices rose 4.2 percent in April from a year earlier. That's the biggest upswing we have seen in years.
And I think, for many Americans, the last time they even heard about the word inflation, concerns about that goes back to the 1970s. And there's a
mixed consensus, I guess, debate in the country as to whether this is sort of a short-term anomaly that we're experiencing now, as the economy is
restarting, after virtually pausing for over a year, or if this is something that's a sign to come.
What do you view it as?
LUND: Well, we hope it's transitory. And, certainly, that's what the Federal Reserve has said. And we see it in other countries as well, by the
way, China and Europe.
So there are a number of factors. We have got supply chain issues. We have logistics problems. There are 30 container ships now parked off the Port of
Los Angeles waiting to unload, and this is driving increases in inputs.
At the same time, we have had a lot of stimulus put into the economy. So, Moody's Analytics estimated that there was $5.5 trillion globally of excess
saving in 2020, when people couldn't take vacations, and go out and spend money.
And now that many people are vaccinated, and we're starting to go out, there's a lot of pent-up demand. So people have money to spend. And then we
do see pressure on wages. So, companies, to attract workers, are offering higher starting wages.
And all of this is combining to give us these large price increases. But I think that it's important to know that when we talk about the year-on-year
increase in prices, it's really not a fair comparison, because, last year at this time, of course the economy had plunged into a deep recession.
When we look over a two-year period, we see that consumer prices are up about two-and-a-half percent from where they were in 2019, even though it's
5 percent compared to where they were 2020. So part of it is a comparison issue.
But what we hope that, as the economy reopens, supply chain snarls get resolved, and we get back to more of a steady state equilibrium.
GOLODRYGA: Listening to economists like yourself talk about this, they also mentioned that this could be a self-fulfilling prophecy. While right
now, it does appear to be transitory, consumer behavior can really set the course for how long this stays the case here.
And in terms of car sales, especially used car sales, in terms of rent prices, if consumers -- I mean, go back to where we were last year, and we
saw that people were paying exorbitant amount of dollars for things like Purell, right, and paper towels and toilet paper. Now, that was only
temporary, thank goodness, but how much of this is psychological?
And do you foresee a period where people say, you know what, this is ridiculous, I don't need to be paying that much for a used car right now, I
can wait a few months? Or do you see this something as a trend to come over the next few months or years?
LUND: So, there are two things that could make inflation not transitory.
One would be this hoarding behavior that you're talking about. And we're seeing it in the semiconductor industry right now, where there's a
semiconductor shortage. So companies that can buy semiconductors are buying more than they need. Well, of course, then that raises prices even more.
The second factor that would make inflation more of a long-term problem would be if wages continue to rise. As people get wage increases, and they
spend more, prices go up, then they go back to employers and ask for pay increases again to reflect the higher prices.
So, at this point, we don't see either of those in significant ways. But that -- those are the things to watch in the coming months to know whether
this is going to settle down by the end of the year, or whether we could have a longer-term issue on our hands.
GOLODRYGA: And, obviously, we know that politicians, in particular Republicans, are seizing on this spike in inflation and using it as a
political weapon. I have never heard so many Republicans quote Larry Summers as we have over the past couple of months.
And that's obviously Larry Summers, who has attacked and been very skeptical of the amount of stimulus that's going into the economy right now
with these deals and packages rolled out by the Biden administration. Now, you could also say, as you mentioned earlier, that Europe didn't have such
a large stimulus, right, and they're also seeing an increase in inflation.
I want to play some sound to you, though, from Senator McConnell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The latest data reinforce what too many Americans have already been experiencing firsthand. The Biden
administration's partisan spending bill has blunted our nation's economic recovery.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: What is your response to Senator McConnell there?
LUND: Look, the U.S. had a very large fiscal response over the last year that predates President Biden, by the way. And it was the right thing to
Many people have compared the pandemic to a natural disaster, rather than a classic business cycle recession. And in a natural disaster, you spend
money to help the people who have been hit and the businesses that have been hit.
And that's what we have done. And it has given the U.S. a very strong recovery. As you noted, the U.S. is currently growing over 6 percent at an
annualized rate. That's faster than China was growing before the pandemic.
So that is just a staggering recovery. And it's much faster than we have seen in Europe. So, so far, I think that we can look back and say the U.S.
managed the response to the crisis, at least on the fiscal front, pretty well.
GOLODRYGA: As we mentioned earlier, this potential infrastructure deal is just part of a larger $4 trillion package that the Biden administration is
presenting as a sort of Build Back Better plan.
And we go back to where the economy was prior to the pandemic, and the numbers were good. I mean, the unemployment rate was really low. But we
still had a lot of people suffering in this country. We had a lot of people concerned about wage stagflation, right, and they're seeing -- not seeing
their wages go up.
And I think that was sort of the premise behind President Biden's plan going forward. And that's addressing the American Family Plan, the American
Jobs Plan. Do you have a sense that, post-pandemic, we will see a more level playing field, where we're not just going to be having people with
the opportunity to switch jobs because they feel that there's a better opportunity for them, as opposed to those front-line workers, right, or
those that were earning minimum wage that would like to see the minimum wage increase in this country?
LUND: Well, I hope that we do build back better.
And there are already some signs that this could be playing out, but it will take hard choices by Washington and by companies to make this true,
because, as you point out, even though we had a very low unemployment rate prior to the pandemic, we had a large portion of Americans who hadn't seen
any real wage increases in decades.
And so, even though they were employed, there was a growing gap between the haves and the have-nots. Now, some of the elements of this new
infrastructure plan will address that. And, of course, there are other aspects of parts of the jobs plan in the American Families Plan that
haven't been passed yet, but, for instance, building out the digital infrastructure.
We saw that many low-income students in high school and colleges dropped out during the pandemic because they didn't have bandwidth at home or the
ability to do online learning. I mean, that is tragic and could have lifelong consequences, if we're not able to bring those students back into
the educational system.
So, there is an element where this will level the playing field for more Americans to participate.
GOLODRYGA: And as you importantly said, though, the pandemic is not over. And we still have millions, in particular, women, that are out of the work
force, not voluntarily, many of them, but many still having to stay home with their children as well.
And the pandemic is still raging throughout parts of the world. Hopefully, we won't see that come back here in the fall, when schools reopen again.
Let me finally ask you this question as an economist. I'm just curious. You're prepared, you're taught about lots of circumstances, right, and
scenarios to -- from repression -- from the depressions to recessions.
But coming out of what we're currently experiencing, have you ever seen anything like this? Have you ever expected to see anything like this? And
what are some of your takeaways?
LUND: No, I think this surprised all of us.
The first thing that surprised me was how much of the economy depends on people moving around, whether we're getting on airplanes and traveling, or
whether we're even driving to the office and picking up something on the way home and a retail shop. When we all had to stay home, it was
staggering, the impact that that had on retail and food service and rideshare.
Now, coming out of, this is just unlike anything we have seen, the U.S. growing at 6 percent annually. Nobody thought this could be done. Of
course, we're climbing out of a hole. But, still, it's an incredibly rapid recovery.
But as we talked about in inflation and companies having a hard time hiring, I think that it's going to be a bumpy ride out. I think we're going
to look back and say, as difficult as 2020 was, it was easier to shut down the economy than to get it restarted smoothly.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, it's been a long year-and-a-half. That is for sure.
Susan Lund, thank you so much for your expertise. We appreciate it.
GOLODRYGA: And, as Americans begin navigating their lives back out of this pandemic, one in particular is still denied her opportunity.
Pop icon Britney Spears shocked the world yesterday when she broke her silence, addressing a court by phone in Los Angeles over her
conservatorship, telling a judge -- quote -- "I just want my life back, and it's been 13 years, and it's enough."
It was an emotional, desperate account from a woman asking for freedom in a blistering attack of a system that she said is abusive.
Samantha Stark is the director of the documentary "Framing Britney Spears," and she joins me now from Los Angeles.
Samantha, welcome to the program.
Wow. I mean, this is all that people here in the newsroom and friends and family alike have been talking about since last night, when we heard
Britney Spears finally addressing what many had feared to be her reality.
Quoting her, she stated that this was abusive. She just wants her life back. "It's embarrassing and demoralizing, what I have been through. And
that's the main reason I have never said it openly."
What was your response to what you heard from Britney Spears yesterday?
STARK: The day before the hearing, we published an investigation. We obtained confidential documents showing that Britney had been saying this
for years to the court.
All the hearings were sealed. But our documents show that she's telling the investigators, she's telling the judge, she's telling her lawyers that she
wants to terminate the conservatorship immediately, that she wants to -- at one point, she said she wanted to retire and get married. This is in 2014.
So everything she was saying yesterday was echoing what we had found was true. So we had evidence to back up that she actually had brought this to
the court. She said in court: I didn't know I could file a petition to remove it.
She has a lawyer that was assigned to her by the court, because she was deemed incapable of hiring her own, who clearly did not communicate to her,
even though she kept saying I want the term -- I want this over, I want this over, that she could do that.
It was -- that was the most shocking part to me. Can you imagine being in this for 13 years and not knowing you even had -- like, feeling -- just
She said at one point -- she told the judge in 2019 that she had been forced into a mental health facility against her will, forced to take
lithium against her will, which he had never taken. She felt like that was a retaliation against her for standing up for herself in a rehearsal.
She said she was forced to perform against her will and said she was -- she said it was trafficking. She felt like she was a human trafficking victim.
And she said she said all that in 2019. And she said to the judge, and I -- that she didn't do anything then. She said: I felt like I was dead. I felt
like I didn't matter.
GOLODRYGA: And she also said some shocking things that I still don't understand how is even possible, the fact that she has to have somebody
watch her 24/7, that the people there are with her when she has to take her medication.
And she got very personal. She said that she was prevented from having an IUD removed when she wanted to have a family and move on. This is a 39-
year-old woman. And I guess the question that so many are asking is, how is this even possible that our judicial system, that our laws would allow for
something like this to take place?
Can you walk us through the backstory of this conservatorship?
STARK: You know, so, conservatorships are this very, very extreme and restrictive legal arrangement where a person is deemed incapable of making
-- being able to provide food, clothing and shelter for themselves.
And they're -- in California, we have something that's extreme with the -- with finances, which is undue influence. So, if someone is deemed that they
could be susceptible to undue influence, to somebody influencing how they spend their money, that can be a reason for a conservatorship over the
estate over their money, which is questionable, because, a lot of times, these are meant for people who have dementia, are at the end of their
lives, are maybe being taken advantage of by a stranger trying to get them to change their will, and people who need help providing food, clothing and
shelter for themselves.
So, it was striking, even in 2008, that Britney was put into this in the first place. It looks like there were a lot of lawyers coming at it all at
once. They have made millions of dollars from her, because Britney pays for her father's lawyers and her own to argue against each other sometimes.
So she's paid millions of dollars to them over the years. And, yes, it's -- I have read all the court documents for every single hearing. It really
appears like Britney wasn't informed of her rights. And it also appears that this was -- this is a very exceptional case, but maybe not, because we
don't know how many people are under conservatorships in the country.
It's actually not even counted. There's such little oversight in the system. And that's finding that out as a journalist and presenting that,
like, facts to the public that I have found. And it really -- it's really hard to see that there's oversight, even if lawyers are insisting there is.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, it bears sort of focusing on that right now, because Britney Spears of somebody who's that high-profile, is under this
conservatorship that she calls abusive and uses -- her being a slave and working nonstop for other people, who she's been paying for.
You can imagine others in this country who are also wonder conservatorships who may not have such a high profile, and many don't know their stories and
sort of their legal struggles as well.
You describe how rare conservatorships are or what it qualifies to be under one. And it didn't seem, at least from hearing Britney speaking yesterday
for 23 minutes to the court, the fact that she's able to continue to perform the way she has for years while she's been under this
conservatorship, that she would fall under -- under what standards are in place for a conservatorship.
She admitted yesterday that she still would like to seek therapy and needs help, but not under these circumstances. How did it get this far for 13
STARK: Yes, I think everyone who was listening to her speak yesterday was thinking of that, because, again, the requirements are unable to provide
food, clothing or shelter for yourself, and susceptible, very susceptible to undue influence and fraud, but over, like, a long period of time, not --
it says not isolated incidents, which it appears they're referring to these isolated incidents in 2007.
It appears to me from examining many, many court documents over the years that all these lawyers who are getting paid a really large amount from her,
they often continue the hearings. We know Britney said, I'm being abused, I need to get out of this in 2019. And it's 2021 now, and nothing has
Her father -- there was a restraining order against her own father for a physical altercation with her children. And so her father, who's in control
of her life, was not able to see her children because of allegations of abuse, except no one removed him. He ended up stepping down after that, but
he still is in control of her money.
And she was like: Why is this happening? I told you this. She said: My father 100,000 percent loves his power over me, 100,000 percent. And this -
- it really feels like it's all legal jargon. The judge -- even when she said this, the judge said, OK, well, you have to file an official petition
to end it, even though she said over and over and over again and made many points her lawyer did not make, who was supposed to be the one making them
And then, after that happened, her lawyer said -- the judge asked -- mentioned about this filing a petition. And his -- her lawyer said: Well,
I have to consult with my client to see if she wants to file a petition to end the conservatorship.
There's such -- it's, like, so...
GOLODRYGA: A huge disconnect, right, and in 2021 in Los Angeles, of all places, right? This isn't some Third World country. I mean, this is where
you would think that somebody like Britney Spears would be aware of her legal rights and have access to attorneys to ask these kind of questions,
or at least who would relay this information to her.
Let me ask about her father, because she alluded to the fact that she blames him, obviously, for all of this. She says he wants to have full
control 100,000 percent of her life and he loved the control to hurt her. She said he belongs behind bars, along with others.
I want to read to you his response. He said: "He is sorry to see his daughter suffering and in so much pain. Mr. Spears loves his daughter and
he misses her very much."
What is the likelihood that he will be removed from overseeing her conservatorship?
STARK: I mean, who knows? Maybe public pressure and the fact that this is out in the open.
We were contemplating whether we should expose these sealed court documents, but it really -- it's just like this -- she's been saying this
about her father for years, and nothing happened.
STARK: So, who knows? I mean, it appears like the lawyers want him to remain in place.
At one point, she said through her lawyer -- there's often this banter in the court documents where her lawyer will say -- communicate something that
she wants, which is what he's supposed to do, but then undercut it by saying, like, something to just, oh, I believe that's incorrect, or what
So, at one point, he told the court, my lawyer wants you to know that she thinks -- she was bringing up that her father was drinking, and she wanted
him not to be in that role, because a huge part of the conservatorship over her is trying to prevent her from substance abuse.
So, she was asking -- she was saying, through her lawyer, that she didn't - - she felt this was going to be swept under the rug, like any -- like everything has been when it comes to her father.
STARK: So my question is, who is protecting her father? Why are all these people trying to make it for her -- that her father stays in place?
GOLODRYGA: There's reason to argue that he's not fit. There's reason to argue that he's not fit for this role either. And it's not as if this is
sort of his profession or area of expertise either.
Let me end by asking you about, just personally, the impact that your documentary has had on making this a broader story and bringing attention
to what had sort of been known within the Britney fans of the world, but not to wider audiences around the world.
How impactful do you think it is that we see her fans outside of the courtroom, that we have a documentary like yours to her plight?
STARK: Well, I mean, I think the thing that we did differently, which feels like what I haven't seen media doing in the last 13 years, is, we
decided to take a step back and treat everything as something we had to prove.
So I think people automatically say, Britney went crazy, her dad saved her life, she needed this, because it's been reported so long. And the free
Britney fans are conspiracy theorists. They're ridiculous.
But we decided, let's investigate everything. Let's take a step back and not have any preconceived notions when we go into this. And we found that
they were raising really important questions about the conservatorship system. And, as evidenced yesterday a lot of them were saying Britney was
held against her will in this hospital. And everyone kept dismissing it and saying, but that would be illegal, so, of course, they wouldn't do it.
That was like the party line. And we heard -- we heard yesterday that she said, that's true, that she said it...
GOLODRYGA: That this was all happening.
STARK: And that she said it in 2019, when they started talking about it.
So I think so many people have been so dismissive of everything when it comes to Britney Spears. And we decided not to be. And now everything is
finally coming out. So, I hope that we are -- I believe that our story that we released the day before the hearing is bolstering what she was saying
for the public, because it -- we were presenting evidence.
We didn't know what she was going to say either.
STARK: But I wasn't surprised about what she said, because we had evidence, yes.
GOLODRYGA: Listen, Samantha, I think it's through documentaries like yours and through fans like hers that inspired her, quite frankly, to speak out
for those 23 minutes and shocked her attorneys, the courtroom there, her family, and obviously the rest of the world.
We appreciate you bringing us more of this story. We thank you for your time.
STARK: Thank you.
GOLODRYGA: Thank you.
And while Britney Spears is fighting for her life back, President Joe Biden may soon have to fight to attend communion. The president finds himself at
the center of a brawl within the Catholic Church in the United States over plans to deny communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion
Joe Biden, the nation's second Catholic president, has described his faith as the bedrock of his foundation and his life and attends mass every
So, what are Catholic bishops saying and will this plan go through?
John Allen is editor of the online newspaper "The Crux" and is a Vatican analyst. And he's joining me now from Rome.
Welcome to the program, John.
So, can you walk us back through why the United States Confederate of Catholic Bishops is doing this now?
JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: Hi there, Bianna.
Yes. So, well, the bishops have been confronted for a long time with this question of what to do about public figures who are Catholic and who do not
uphold church teaching on certain key points. And, by far, the most controversial of those points tends to be the abortion issue.
This came up in 2004, for instance, when John Kerry, another Catholic Democrat, was the nominee for president of the United States. And, at that
time, there was a debate within the Bishops Conference about whether or not Kerry and other pro-choice Catholic politicians should be denied communion,
never really resolved then.
And that brings us to the current moment. Now, there are a couple of other factors here, however. One is that, for the last year or so, because of the
COVID pandemic, it has been very difficult for Catholics to attend mass often.
That is the Sunday worship service in which the Eucharist, the sacrament in which the church teaches you are receiving the body and blood of Jesus
Christ is kind of the signature moment.
That hasn't happened on a fairly wide scale. And therefore, mass attendance has gone down. Another is that polls are now showing that a wide swath of
the American Catholic population, according to some polls, almost as many as two-thirds of the Catholics in the United States, no longer believe what
the church teaches about the eucharist, that is that this is really the body and blood of Christ.
And so, there are a lot of bishops who have a concern not merely about politicians, but about sort of the attachment to the sacrament in general.
And so, this debate in the bishops' conference was about whether the bishops should move forward with a teaching document on the eucharist.
Now, that document has a section that will have to do with rules for a worthy reception of the eucharist, which could have implications for
President Biden and others. But frankly, Bianna, I think there are a lot of bishops who decided to vote for this document not because they necessarily
want to turn away the president of the United States in a communion line, but because they have this deeper pastoral concern about trying to foster a
solid faith in this central sacrament and central teaching of the church. We won't really know exactly what the bishops' position is going on be on
President Biden and other Catholic politicians, probably until next November. Because this was just a vote to have a document. We haven't
actually seen it yet. We need to see the text before we know what those implications are.
GOLODRYGA: Right. And we know that the president's local bishop in Washington, D.C. will not deny him communion. So, is this more of a
symbolic statement that these archbishops are making?
ALLEN: Well, it certainly is symbolic in this sense. A conference of bishops has no power to set policy about who gets communion and who
doesn't. In the Catholic system, that is always a decision for the individual bishop to make, as you indicated. In the case of President
Biden, he lives in government housing in Washington and the archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Wilton Gregory, has indicated that there will be no
communion bans there.
So, in the real world this probably doesn't have many realistic implications for President Biden. I think it is, instead, a measure of a
number of bishops in the United States who simply think it is important for them to make some kind of statement on the abortion issue. It could have
implications, however, for other Catholic politicians. I mean, let us point out that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was also Catholic and also a
Democrat who supports abortion rights, her archbishop, Archbishop Salvatory Cordileone, has indicated he would turn away a Catholic politician who
supports abortion rights.
GOLODRYGA: Well -- and another politician, Congressman Ted Lieu, actually tweeted about this and he said, I am a Catholic and you are hypocrites, to
the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He said, you did not tell Bill Barr, a Catholic, not to take communion when he expended killing human
being with a death penalty. You are being nakedly partisan and you should be ashamed. Another reason you are losing membership. Does he have a point
ALLEN: Well, I mean, I don't know about the losing membership. I think that probably has to do with long-term trends towards secularization that
don't really have to do with the politics of the moment. But, you know, in terms of the partisan thing, I think there certainly aren't many people who
would perceive this as a very partisan position on the part of some bishops.
But, Bianna, the thing I would emphasize is that back in 2004 when John Kerry was the nominee, the number of Catholic bishops -- I mean, there are
more than 300 Catholic bishops in America, there are 196 dioceses, diocese, archdiocese, (INAUDIBLE), I mean, all of these Catholic entities. And then
you add in auxiliary bishops and retired bishops, you get to more than 300. The number of bishops at that time who said publicly that they would deny
communion to John Kerry was maybe 20. I'm not really sure if the situation is that different today. It's true that 168 bishops voted for this
document. But as we say, many of them had pastoral reasons that don't have to do with whether or not the president should get communion.
I honestly believe the number of bishops who, if push comes to shove, would turn away the president in a communion line is quite low. So, is it a
partisan position? Perhaps on the number of -- on behalf of a few bishops. Is it a partisan position on behalf of the whole conference? That I don't
think we will know. We certainly don't know yet, Bianna.
GOLODRYGA: What we do know is the Vatican has opposed this decision made by the U.S. bishops. What does that tell you about the relationship with
U.S. Catholics and the Vatican?
ALLEN: Well, it certainly is true that the Vatican has made it clear that they are not happy with this development. The head of the Vatican's
doctrinal office, a Spanish judge with cardinal named Luis Ladaria, very close to Pope Francis, actually wrote to the U.S. bishops before this vote
to urge them not to do anything that might harm the unity of the church in the United States. Top papal aids have said they do not want to see the
eucharist weaponized, that is turned into a political football.
And so, I think what it would tell you, probably, is that while I think every Catholic bishop in America would acknowledge that Francis is the pope
and therefore, deserves respect, when you get down to brass tacks in terms of how to translate teaching into policy, there is a bit of a difference in
world view between the Vatican team under Pope Francis and at least a number of Catholic bishops in the United States.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. Well, look, I think we can likely not expect to see another fight of a war of words between the U.S. president and the pope.
That, of course, that we saw with President Trump. But this is a very fascinating and developing story. We appreciate your time. Thank you.
Well, now, from the Catholic church to the magic kingdom. Philanthropist and filmmaker, Abigail Disney, heir to the Disney family fortune, was
recently worth an estimated $120 million, but she's dedicated her life to redistributing that wealth, giving away more than half of it. She explained
why in an op-ed in "The Atlantic" entitled, I was taught from a young age to protect my dynastic wealth. Here she is speaking with Hari Sreenivasan
about fairly taxing the rich and her famous grandfather's lasting influence.
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Bianna, thanks. Abigail Disney, thanks for joining us.
You wrote in "The Atlantic," a passage here is, if you were to get ahold of my tax returns, you would find a record of a person who has adhered
scrupulously to the law. And in doing so, has also taken advantages of the many holes our legal system has left wide open. I mean, how different are
these holes? Meaning who are the holes for? Is it just for the very wealthy? I mean, can I not take advantage of any of these?
ABIGAIL DISNEY, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER AND CO-FOUNDER, FORK FILMS: Well, you could if you went back to school and got a degree in tax management.
It's very unlikely that you would find them. It's very unlikely that you would set them up properly if you didn't know your taxes inside and out.
So, you know, these holes are, you know, for everybody, except that, you know, 80 percent of shares are owned by only 10 percent of the population,
so anything involving equities, you know, leaves most people out. So, most of this is just so sophisticated, it's not available to everyday people.
SREENIVASAN: When was the earliest point that you remember having conversations with accountants as normal?
DISNEY: That's hard to say because it started so young. But certainly, once I turned 21, I have, you know, an annual and bi-annual and now,
quarter annual meetings with accountants and advisers and so forth. And I can remember in my 20s when I started to do philanthropy getting into
arguments about whether or not I gave away more money than I should given what was deductible. And it was interesting to get into those conversations
because they were doing what they were trained and instructed to do, but I kept saying, but I'm giving it, the idea of giving is that I shouldn't get
always something in return for it.
So, there was a fundamental kind of philosophical gulf there that I was always sort of fighting to preserve.
SREENIVASAN: So, let's get into that a little bit. I mean, what is the motivation? What is the -- what are the instruction sets from wealthy
families to their accountants? What is the core goal?
DISNEY: The core goal is to give your children more money than you got. And if you have more than one child, that means simply preserving it won't
be good enough. If you have two, you have to double it, plus inflation. If you have four, as I do and as my parents did, that means you have to work
awfully hard to get them somewhere ahead of where you started.
And it is -- I don't know why, I just simply saw that hole but I was doing that for quite some time. It wasn't, you know, until recently that I
started asking myself, why would earth would that be necessary? So, that's a deep, deep idea that gets passed too early and the other is don't touch
SREENIVASAN: Don't touch the principle?
DISNEY: Yes. Don't touch the principle. If you have done that, you have violated some kind of -- crossed the Rubicon and you can't come back from
that, which is nuts, very nuts, because the principle is the whole shebang.
SREENIVASAN: When I hear that goal, I say, you know what, I could see somebody, whether they're in a developing nation or they're middle class,
they want to leave their children better off than they were, right? That sounds pretty basic and you can relate to that. But when you're talking
about these sums of money, something changes here.
DISNEY: Absolutely. And the whole point was that we had more than we needed. So, why on earth were we looking to leave our children with more
than we needed? And, honestly, getting more than you need before you've done any work, before you've lifted a finger to earn it, is a very complex
problem to have. And I know when I use the word problem, eyes roll all over the world as that seems like --
SREENIVASAN: Yes. I would love to have her problems, yes.
DISNEY: -- an ungrateful thing. But I would tell you that things like substance abuse and divorce and people who never really find their calling
in life, very unhappy people are people who inherent money. And as much as it's wonderful, after a certain point, it absolves you of any
responsibility, it buys you a life of emptiness, if that's what you want, and it is very difficult to resist the kind of gravitational pull of what
money can make you feel like you're incapable of doing.
SREENIVASAN: So, I've got to ask you since you have four children, how did you sort of are you raising them? How will their life be when you're not
around if the goal of your parents were to leave you better off than they were? Well, how do you think --
DISNEY: I can tell you that they will come and expert (ph) of me if I talk about them in public. But I will say this, I have believed from the
beginning that if you teach that justice and generosity are not optional, but that they're every person's obligation, the rest would follow from
that. There is no special recipe.
What you need to survive is the kind of complexities that come with inherited money are no different from what you need to survive the moral
landscape anywhere. You just have to bring what you know about what's right and wrong to everything you do.
SREENIVASAN: You began years ago campaigning for changes at the very organization that has your name on it. I remember part of it was around the
compensation of the CEO at the time, Bob Iger, who was making somewhere around $60 million, $65 million. Why did you start to do that when
technically it's the success of these theme parks and this brand that is actually fueling your wealth?
DISNEY: Absolutely. And there are two reasons for that, one selfish and one not. Because the selfish one is, I care about the long-term well-being
of that company. And when you pay your CEO $66 million in a year of record profitability, you make $9 billion in share buybacks, rather than to
compensate your freaking employees, who are working really hard to make that park be the magic place that it is. That seems to me to be very
dangerous for the brand. So, first of all, there's a selfish reason for it.
But above that, I have very personal memories of going to that park with my grandfather and I remember how he interacted with people there, and how
much they cared about him. He knew everyone's name. He asked about their families. He asked about their children. It was a family. And I use that
word quite intentionally. It was a family.
Now, a massive multibillion dollar global corporation can't function like a family, I recognize that that's not practical. But that doesn't give you
license to stop doing the very basic things we should all do for each other as a human being, which is ensure that if you work a full-time job as hard
as you can, you should be paid enough to put food on your table. And that is not happening at Disney. And I've been at the food bank and I've seen
what's happening. I don't care what they tell you about what they pay people. I've seen many people are struggling and I've heard it from their
mouths directly. I can't bear it. I was told by my grandfather to respect every last one of those people and I can't stop doing that.
SREENIVASAN: I mean, it seems somewhere along the line that between the time when you walked around the theme park with your grandfather and today
that we've shifted thinking about what a corporation's responsibility is or was and to who.
DISNEY: Yes. We -- and I'm working on a film about precisely this issue, because it's important to unpack what's happened. You know, it was around
Barry Goldwater's loss (ph) that the Republican Party, even though it was out of power, really got energized around the idea that the wealthy in this
country were being victimized by social structures and government institutions, and that it needed to be -- the country needed to be
And there were advocates like Milton Friedman for a different way of looking at business and there were people like Lewis Powell, who wrote the
Powell Memo in 1971, which is the most important document in the world that nobody knows about, which is essentially a plan to take society back over
for business interests. And by the 1980s you have Gordon Gekko saying greed is good. I remember that. I was in the movie theatre when he did that, and
there was cheering for him.
So, there was a shift in our way of understanding individualism as opposed to collectivism, our understanding of what the new deal had gotten us and
what it was for and about, that, frankly, was quite orchestrated more than we have any idea by people who had a very specific plan.
In the 1980s, my very, very conservative uncle who had worked in the Reagan administration, said to me, you know, democracy is nice, but people, you
know, aren't really very smart and they're not well-informed. I know now that this was straight from Milton Friedman, what he was saying to me,
because people can't really handle leadership. They don't know enough. They're not smart enough. It's best to leave leadership to the people who
already have it because they're the ones who know how to wield it.
And he was a good man. He was a decent human being. But this is an idea that runs very deep in conservative circles. They don't say it out loud,
but they really have a problem with democracy. And as you look at the political landscape now, you see that what they've been trying to do is
beginning to really happen. This is the result of decades of very heavily resourced people investing a lot of money in making that happen. That's why
we need money out of politics. That's why we need wealthy people to get their (INAUDIBLE) out of the way of how things work.
SREENIVASAN: Well, what is your prescription for how families should deal with this almost dynastic wealth that keeps getting handed down?
DISNEY: First of all, we as a public should deal with it by structuring our taxes so that we prevent dynasties from forming. Dynasties are very bad
for democracy, very bad. And the further out you get from the person who generated the wealth, the less understanding there is of what it took to
generate that wealth and less empathy there is for people unlike them. And so, it becomes harder work to construct a democracy when even the most
powerful people in it don't have a clue what it's like to live a real life. So, first of all, that's something that we as a public should do.
In the families, I would warn the parents that I struggled. I took a good 20 years of my life struggling with finding my way morally and
imaginatively because of the weight and the enormity of what I was handed, for which I am very grateful. But which, nevertheless, was asking things of
me, was closing doors to me, was changing the way the world interacted with me and vice-versa in ways that I wasn't necessarily proud of. And I had to
fight and struggle hard.
So, parents need to understand, this is not some nice happy little gift tied up with a bow. It has an ugly dark side. And they need to be
transparent with their children about that. They need to talk about it from the beginning. And they need to work hard to instill the kind of values,
deeper, more humane values that will stand them in good stead when they do struggle, because they will.
SREENIVASAN: You know, a lot of family wealth has been transferred through foundations. The Carnegies, the Fords, the Gates'. Why not a Disney
DISNEY: No. I spent a lot of years in philanthropy working very hard on trying to be smart about where the money went and who it was for. And as
time went on, I thought, oh, my gosh, this is structural. Let me see if I can fund philanthropy around structural change. But the reality is that
philanthropy is not accountable, it is run by people with egos and agendas who aren't necessarily interested in what society wants and society needs.
And even with the best of intentions at all, I don't want to live in a country where our decisions about who gets vaccinated, our decisions about
what newspapers survive, our decisions about whether and when food gets distributed to poor people are up to a handful of people who have a set of
traits, some of which are wonderful, many of which are awful, that enables them to accumulate that kind of money. That's not the country I want to
So, the bottom line about philanthropy is accountability. We can't rely on people who are not accountable to us for how they make their decisions.
SREENIVASAN: You talk about changing the tax structure, and I know you are part of Patriotic Millionaires movement. Tell me a little bit about that.
DISNEY: Well, we are a group of people who have obviously done really well in the great lottery of the American economy, and we see how much of that
happens because of tax structures. Hedge fund managers, as an example, have been, you know, wildly well rewarded for their work, not because they're
brilliant, although many of them are, but also because their income isn't taxed as income. It's taxed as capital gains.
So, most of what they get rewarded in isn't taxed and that is subject to compounding and all the other things. You know, a difference of 20 percent
in how you're taxed is the difference between being a millionaire and a billionaire over a lifetime of work. So, the tax structure has been cutting
slack to the financial industry, the people who run the financial industry and to people who are already resourced to the point where you would be a
fool if you couldn't grow your money into billions.
SREENIVASAN: Do these patriotic millionaires withdraw their financial support for these politicians when it comes to these issues?
DISNEY: Yes, we do that. We absolutely do that. And I just wrote a letter to Kyrsten Sinema yesterday, which when I put up on Twitter, because I felt
it was really important to say that democracy is not just an exercise in the majority getting its way all the time. I appreciate her bipartisanship
there. But it's also a question of, will anybody advocate for interests that are not their own? Because up to this point, that's all we have, is a
bunch of interests competing with each other.
I am the person with money in politics and I am going to use that to get people with money out of politics once and for all. Because this is the
only way we're going to have a system less warped and paralyzed than the one we have. So, the Patriotic Millionaires are sort of a ceremonial
suicide entity that we are just looking to undermine our own power because that's what's for the good of the whole.
SREENIVASAN: You know, how do we redistribute the power that accumulates with your wealth, right? I mean, you have access to other powerful people
that the rest of us fight to gain access to, whether it's calling a senator on the phone, whether it's -- people will respond because they see sort of
on their speed dial or on their caller I.D., oh, it's Abigail Disney, I'm going to take this call.
DISNEY: A certain amount of power comes with money just as a necessary evil. And I try to use that power and access to undermine power and access
for people like me. So, I would hope more people come forward and try their best to do the right thing by the larger society, which is to pull out of
politics the power of money.
SREENIVASAN: Abigail Disney, thanks so much for joining us.
DISNEY: What a pleasure.
GOLODRYGA: And, finally, hands raise the pride flag at the Germany-Hungary football game last night, or soccer, as we call it here in America. It was
in protest to the sports European body blocking a request to light the stadium with pride colors. That would have been a statement against a new
Hungarian law, widely considered as discriminatory against the rights of LGBTQ plus citizens.
But UEFA says its rule -- it has rules against getting political. Enraged by the ruling, a pitch invader flew the pride flag while the Hungarian
national anthem was playing. And despite pressure, the Germany captain, Manuel Neuer, refused to take off his rainbow armband. And that is a
statement for you.
And that is it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast and across social media. Thank you so much for watching and good-bye from New