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Interview With U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen; Interview With Retired Neurosurgeon Dr. And "And Finally" Author Henry Marsh; Interview With Mayor Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles); Interview With New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired January 20, 2023 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN. More people get their news from CNN than any other news source.
SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Hello. And welcome to AMANPOUR. Here is what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANET YELLEN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: We would certainly experience, at a minimum, a downgrading of our debt if that happened, our borrowing costs
would increase, and every American would see that they're borrowing costs would increase as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: The U.S. has hit its debt limit. And the global economy braces for impact of a potential default. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen lays out the
stake in an exclusive interview from Senegal.
Then, a brain surgeon's quest in Ukraine. Dr. Henry Marsh tells me about his visit to Kyiv and how he himself is grappling with his own mortality.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR KAREN BASS (D-LOS ANGELES): I just don't think that people should have to live on the streets in the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: Los Angeles's new mayor, Karen Bass, tells Michel Martin her plans to tackle the mega city's persistent problem with homelessness. And
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: You can head to Finely (ph) and be in these roles. You can lead in your own start.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, says she has no regrets over calling it quits suddenly. We look back at some of
Christiane's most memorable conversations with the trailblazing leader.
Welcome to the program. I'm Sara Sidner in New York sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.
Western governments have sent Ukraine all sorts of weapons to help its fight against Russia. But if you ask President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, there's
something important missing. Tanks. Top defense officials, allies of Ukraine have been meeting today at Ramstein Air Base to discuss whether or
not American or German tanks should be included in the latest round of aid.
The U.S. has spent billions and billions of dollars so far in Ukraine, but future government spending is all up in the air right now. Not just in
Ukraine, but also at home as the country has reached its debt limit. And now, it risks a potentially catastrophic default.
Social security payments, veterans' pensions, and more are all at risk. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says extraordinary measures are now in
place to delay default. She's calling on lawmakers to act promptly to protect the full faith and credit of the United States. Yellen, this week,
met Chinese Vice Premier in Zurich, and she's now in Africa hoping to expand U.S. trade there.
The debt limit, China, Africa, and inflation, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen talked to Christiane earlier about all of this from an exclusive
interview in Senegal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Secretary Janet Yellen, welcome to the program.
JANET YELLEN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: Thank you so much for the invitation.
AMANPOUR: We are going to get to your meeting and your trip and your speech in Africa in a moment. But first I want to ask you about something
else really top of your mind, and that is the debt ceiling. You informed Congress that the debt ceiling has been reached and that you have to employ
extraordinary measures to keep the whole thing going. How long can you do that for? What kind of extraordinary measures?
YELLEN: Well, extraordinary measures involve things like the Civil Service Trust Fund and investments that we make in government securities for
employees in government funded programs. And I indicated in my letter to Congress that we feel confident they can last until early June, but beyond
that there is no guarantee. The actual date at which we would no longer be able to use these measures is quite uncertain. But it could conceivably
come as early as early June.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, I want to just quote that letter that you are referring to, just a little bit, "Failure to meet the government's obligations would
cause irreparable harm to the United States economy, the livelihoods of all Americans, and global financial stability." So, in brief, what kind of
irreparable harm? And particularly for American household, how would average American households experience this?
YELLEN: The United States is a country that since 1789 has always paid all of its bills. And the knowledge that the U.S. government can be trusted and
counted on to do that underlies the foundations, really, of the entire global financial system. U.S. treasury securities are the safest investment
on the planet. And we would certainly experience at a minimum downgrading of our debt. If that happened, our borrowing costs would increase and every
American would see that their borrowing costs would increase as well.
On top of that, a failure to make payments that are due, whether it is the bondholders, or to social security recipients, or to our military would
undoubtedly cost recession in the U.S. economy. It could cause a global financial crisis. It would certainly undermine the role of the dollar as
reserve currency that is used in transactions all over the world. And Americans would -- many people would lose their jobs, and certainly, their
borrowing costs would rise.
AMANPOUR: Gosh. I mean to me, I'm a layperson when it comes to the economy. That sounds like an unmitigated disaster. You believe, you just
told me, that you think some resolution can be found. The Senate Republican Leader, Mitch McConnell, also believes that some resolution can be found.
But, but you do have what some have turned the flamethrowers on the extreme wing of the Republican Party, particularly in the House, and they are
sticking quite firmly to what they say they promised the people. You know, they claim they have a mandate to get control of reckless spending.
Do you believe that is what is happening here? That there is reckless spending? That unless somehow you get that under control somehow, this
disaster that you've just outlined will unfold?
YELLEN: The debt ceiling it's about making sure that we can pay our bills. That we have already incurred for spending that has been authorized by
Congress. So, it's not about seeking the right to engage in additional spending. It is simply about paying bills Congress has already authorized.
And Congresses in the past have always acted to raise the debt ceiling to make sure that we can pay our bills. This is something we can't negotiate
over or bargain about. America has to be a reliable borrower that pays all the bills that come due on time. And Congress needs to find a way to get
this done, and always has in the past.
AMANPOUR: Indeed, it always has in the past. You mentioned the horrible word recession, that that would ensure that there was a recession if you
failed to pay those bills. And it happens right in the middle of a global issue, a global, sort of -- you know, recessionary, sort of, status. You
have just been meeting in Switzerland, not Davos, with the Chinese vice premier. What significance did you achieve with your talks?
YELLEN: Well, first of all, it's important that the world's two largest economies be in regular communication about their own macroeconomic
policies, the progress of their economies, and the problems that the global economy and financial system face. And this was our first in-person
meeting. President Biden met with President Xi and it was agreed that these are matters we need to discuss on a regular basis. People at all levels of
our government. And so, we talked about these things.
In addition, the world's two most important economies have a responsibility to cooperate on issues that are of global significance. And I'm thinking
here of climate change, preparing for future pandemics, Russia's brutal and unprovoked war against Ukraine has led to an increase in hunger, food
insecurity all around the globe. We need to discuss how to address this problem. The problem of very high energy, prices,
And in many cases, unsustainable debt for low-income countries that are coming out of the pandemic now face very weak global conditions and see
depreciating currencies. So, these are things we need to cooperate on. We have shared interests. We discussed our cooperation and the need to work
together to address global challenges.
AMANPOUR: Just very briefly, you say we need to, we discussed. Do you see light at the end of this tunnel? Will you? Do they seem willing?
YELLEN: Yes, they do seem willing. This is something that President Biden and President Xi agreed on in their meeting. And asked their colleagues and
staff to follow up on. And I see a definite good prospects for cooperation on these matters.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you then about your trip to Africa. We are talking to you from Senegal. And you have been -- you know, you gave a big
speech and you said that America is in partnership and wants to be in Africa, not transactionally, not for the short haul, but for the long haul.
And in that speech, you said a few things, one of them is, countries need to be weary of shiny deals that may be opaque and ultimately fail to
actually benefit the people they were purportedly designed to help in the first place. This can leave countries with a legacy of debt, diverted
resources, and environmental destruction.
I wonder because that sounds very much a message to African nations about the incredible amount of trade they do with China, the incredible amount of
investment that China has done far outstripping what United States has done, at least for the last, you know, 10 plus years. What -- is that what
you were trying to tell African countries?
YELLEN: Well, it's true that Africa has borrowed a lot from China for infrastructure projects, and that there has been a lot of debt incurred in
the process. And a problem with that is that, in some cases, the projects involved environmental destruction or left the countries with unsustainable
debt burdens. And now, with a weak global economy and high debt, many countries in Africa and low-income countries around the world are dealing
with debt burdens that they simply can't manage.
And, you know, the United States wants to be there. My trip, as you said, is about many years to come. We see what is happening in Africa. Africa is
really crucial to the longer-term global outlook. This is a continent that's population is growing very rapidly. It's a very young population.
And it has the potential to contribute to growth throughout the global economy. Not managed properly, it could be a source of problems.
We want to make sure that investments are high quality. That they lead to, in the case of energy, that they are sustainable investments. In the case
of agriculture, we see countries that need more resilient agriculture systems, especially with climate change, taking a toll on many countries in
Africa over the medium term. We see huge opportunities for American business here. So, encouraging trade and investment between the United
States and Africa is something that is a win-win both for the United States and also for Africa. And we want to be there and understand what we need to
do to facilitate this growth and trade.
AMANPOUR: And what do you see, going back to the big global situation about inflation and in the United States, particularly. I mean, we see some
areas it's coming down. What is your prediction?
YELLEN: Well, I think in the United States we have seen really very good progress on inflation, which is not to say that it doesn't remain a problem
and it is certainly remains a concern to households. But really, over the last six months, inflation has been running at a pace that's broadly
consistent, if it continues, with normal inflation rate around two percent.
Goods prices have actually been coming down. Gas prices are well off their peak. Food prices continue to increase, but supply chain bottlenecks that
had boosted inflation are really resolving. We're seeing transportation costs come down. Inventories rebuild. And we still have a very strong labor
The unemployment rate is at the lowest level in 50 years. The Fed, I think, of course, is independent, I would not comment on their policy, but I think
they are trying to do what they think is necessary to maintain a strong labor market but also to make sure that inflation keeps coming down. So,
I'm encouraged by the progress we have made and believe it's possible to continue it over the coming year.
AMANPOUR: Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, thank you for joining us.
YELLEN: Thank you, Christiane.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: And thanks to Christiane for that exclusive talk with Janet Yellen who is in Senegal.
Now, turning to the field of medicine. Mr. Henry Marsh is a fascinating figure, a neurosurgeon who has pioneered surgical techniques, including
operating on human brains while patients are conscious, as well as supported colleagues beyond borders.
For years, he has taken a particular interest in Ukraine, helping deliver equipment and teaching doctors in that country. After Russia's full-blown
invasion last year, there were fears those efforts would be interrupted. But even at 72 years young, Mr. Marsh wasn't deterred. He visited Kyiv in
October. Now, he is facing up to his own mortality, something he addresses in his latest book, "And Finally: Matters of Life and Death".
And we are lucky to be joined now by Mr. Marsh. You are joining us from London. Thank you so much --
DR. HENRY MARSH, AUTHOR, "AND FINALLY" AND RETIRED NEUROSURGEON: Thank you very much.
SIDNER: -- for coming to the program.
DR. MARSH: Yes.
SIDNER: So, I heard that you cycled into the studio today.
DR. MARSH: Yes. I've been an enthusiastic cyclist, 50 years now.
SIDNER: So, how is your health? How are you?
DR. MARSH: Well, at the moment I'm extremely well. My high-risk prostate cancer is in remission. I've come off the rather horrible hormone therapy
and I feel terribly well. And I seem to have suddenly, at the advanced age of 72, developed a sort of Zen-like approach to life. I have stopped
worrying about the future. I can do nothing about it.
And I can't remember being, say, relaxed and happy for a long time. Although my next cancer test is in two weeks' time. I just had my blood
taken today and it could be bad news. But I think, well, that's two weeks away and I really never expected to be so calm and philosophical.
SIDNER: It's fantastic. We could all learn a lesson just from that sentence, about not worrying about the future. I do want to ask you about
this, you are a neurosurgeon, but it seems in your book that you have returned to your philosophical roots. You are a study -- a student of
philosophy as well. And you talk about what it means to be human and our mortality, which is something most of us don't want to talk about very
much. What did you learn from this process of putting words to paper?
DR. MARSH: Well, it is complicated because I'm a doctor myself. And I suspect it's not unusual. I denied my pretty obvious symptoms of prostate
cancer for a long time before I felt I had to seek a colleague's advice. And that's because as all doctors, particularly if you do dangerous
surgery, and neurosurgery is dangerous, you have this, sort of, detached from your patients. You have to find a balance between being kind and
compassionate, but also being detached.
You have to protect yourself to some extent because, you know, you are dealing with such human tragedy and emotion. And this kind of spilt over in
my case to -- it's not an unusual delusion that illness happens to patients, not that doctors. And I was actually genuinely amazed when I was
diagnosed with pretty severe cancer. And I, in retrospect, I find that extremely absurd and rather funny, but not unusual.
SIDNER: So, you put off going to the doctor.
DR. MARSH: Yes.
SIDNER: You, yourself, being a doctor.
DR. MARSH: Yes.
SIDNER: And then you get this diagnosis which is far more serious the longer you wait. Correct?
DR. MARSH: Yes, absolutely.
DR. MARSH: Yes, yes.
SIDNER: I want to read a bit from your book because it is truly lovely in its philosophy. You write here, I have crossed to the other side. I have
become just another patient, another old man with prostate cancer, and I knew I had no right to claim that I deserved otherwise.
Tell us about this moment for you, where you crossed over from being a doctor with all of the answers supposedly, to a patient who ostensibly had
DR. MARSH: Well, the way -- and I had my first interview with the oncologist and I misunderstood. He said, I would meet the team, and I
thought I was going to meet the team on that occasion. And then I was told by the nurse, you can go. And I said, I thought I was meeting the team. And
she just looked at me in a rather dubiously leer and went off to an office to ask the oncologist.
Mr. Marsh wants to meet the team.
And then she came back and said, you can go. Just like that. So, dismissed me. And being a -- it was -- I -- being a patient is humiliating,
disempowering, frightening, demeaning. Now, I knew that in principle, but because my wife is an anthropologist, a trained observer of human beings,
and is often been in the hospital for her own health problems. But it still was -- it was a big step to make. And it's because I have been so reluctant
to make that step that I think I had delayed -- I delayed admitting to myself that I had a serious problem.
SIDNER: Do you think that because you became a patient with something that -- an ailment that became so serious, that is treatable, but that was very
serious because of the late stage, did that change who you are as a doctor? For example, did it -- would it affect, sort of, bedside manner and how you
think about patients?
DR. MARSH: Well, I retired from clinical work in England a few years ago, although I have been seeing patients abroad and other countries. I find
that answer very -- question very difficult to answer rather. Certainly, one of the big surprises in the aftermath of the diagnosis, and before I
knew if I actually had very widely disseminated cancer or not, which I don't as yet, thank goodness.
One of the big surprises are I remembered an awful lot of patients I had completely forgotten. And -- whereas over the years I thought to myself on
the hill (ph), like most doctors, as being a nice and sympathetic doctor. I was now full of doubt.
And I just don't know with the insight and the greater empathy I now have as a patient myself whether I would be able to walk into the operating room
and do the really very scary things I did. And cope with things when they went very badly. And the real challenge for -- not, in my opinion about
brain surgery is not the operating, it is dealing with the family and the patient when things have gone badly, and trying to maintain a trusting
relationship. I've had this incredibly difficult and very painful.
SIDNER: I see, Mr. Marsh, that you are wearing a Ukrainian ribbon.
DR. MARSH: Oh, yes. Yes.
SIDNER: I did not go without noticing that. And I do want to talk to you about Ukraine.
DR. MARSH: Uh-huh.
SIDNER: I know that you've studied Russian and Soviet history at Oxford --
DR. MARSH: Yes.
SIDNER: -- before pivoting to medicine. You know, when you see what is happening there, you have visited Ukraine before all this, and their
hospitals were in a certain state that you were concerned about. When you see what is happening there, and having visited since the full-scale war
has taken over that country. How do you get through that? What is this like for you to watch --
DR. MARSH: Well.
SIDNER: -- what's happening in Ukraine?
DR. MARSH: I mean, on a personal level, it's this heartbreaking. I've been going there for 30 years. I regard the country as my second home in many
ways. I have many, many friends there. They are incredibly resilient, those Ukrainians. Of course, the history of Ukraine over the last hundred years
is written in blood. I mean, important of the population died (INAUDIBLE), you know, starved in the 20th century.
So, it's horrible. At the same time, on the global scale, the idea of Putin and his gang having any kind of victory, which means basically might is
right, abandoning, destroying a rules-based world order when the world faces so many problems, you know, global climate change, economic problems,
which will only be solved if there's international cooperation. And if Putin wins, in anyway, this would be terrible for the human race. It's as
bad as that.
But again, personally, it's very difficult. I speak to my friends every day on the phone. I was there fairly recently. And I'm longing to go back, but
my wife and family aren't very keen that I should do that. So, I'm kind of in limbo at the moment.
SIDNER: We have all had that experience as a reporter that goes into Ukraine and has been into Ukraine during this invasion, that it -- family
is the hardest part about going in --
DR. MARSH: Yes.
SIDNER: -- because you need to tell them there's a possibility of something going wrong.
You wrote something very poignant about what is happening in Ukraine. You wrote in the London Times, if you kill doctors after all, you will kill all
the patients that they might have saved. Can you give us a sense of what hospitals are like now? What medical attention is like now in Ukraine
having been there?
DR. MARSH: I've not been at the front line. Neurosurgery, in fact, is a fairly minor part of battlefield surgery, although 25 percent of the deaths
are from head injuries. You don't carry out major brain surgery on severe head injuries in a war zone. It's not really my area.
The hospitals I know well in Lviv and Kyiv, they're all carrying on. Most of them have generators now. It's obviously all very chaotic. What the
scenes are like at the front line, I know they're pretty grim right at the front because they don't have helicopters to evacuate the injured soldiers,
as -- you know, as we had in Iraq and Afghanistan.
So, it's -- they are coping, but it is terrible. And then, you know, for everybody who's killed, there are many more people who are injured, both
soldiers and civilians. And even if the war is won, whatever that means, the aftermath in terms of suffering post-traumatic stress is going to be
absolutely terrible. It's tragic.
SIDNER: You have been trying to help modernize Ukraine's, what was soviet- era -- area hospitals.
DR. MARSH: Yes.
SIDNER: Soviet-era hospital. Did that happen?
DR. MARSH: Well, I mean Ukrainian -- I mean, it's complicated. When I first went there 30 years, the medical system was in free fall, as well as
being 50 years out of date, the soviet medicine was 50 years out of date nevertheless. So, there have been huge improvements. Still very uneven. You
know, there are now some very good modern hospitals in the main cities.
If you get out into the more remote corners of the countryside, medical care then is less good. But there have been a lot of progress, remarkably
so, although there is more needed. And of course, all health care systems all over the world are struggling --
DR. MARSH: -- because health care costs are going up and up and up. And nobody knows the answer to this.
SIDNER: I do want to ask you about that because you've seen in the U.K. with the National Health Services --
DR. MARSH: Uh-huh.
SIDNER: -- who you worked for for many, many years. Nurses and ambulance drivers are striking. Here in the U.S., we have seen nurse strikes here in
New York. And, you know, the medical profession is under incredible stress because of COVID and all of these other things that have come up since
then. They're exhausted. What do you -- what is your biggest concern about health services, particularly in the U.K. for now?
DR. MARSH: Well, my biggest concern, really, is a political one. I am a deep believer in what you would call socialized health care, the single
payer system funded by taxation or something like that. It works very well in the Scandinavian countries. So, I don't accept people who say socialized
health care, like the National Health Service, is fundamentally unfit. But it has to be properly financed, and that means paying high taxes.
And of course, politicians don't like putting out taxes because they worry they won't win the next election. So, it's very difficult. Because there's
more and more elderly people in the population, and there are more and more things we can do to the medically, and less invasive lead, and more safely.
Which is why there is this health care crisis in man, many countries. And there's no easy answers to that, is the short -- a larger and larger
proportion of national income is being spent on health care.
SIDNER: Mr. Henry Marsh, this is my first time speaking with you, but you do seem to be a national treasure. And I do want to read something to end
this segment, something from your book. And finally, you say, hope is one of the most precious drugs doctors have at their disposal. I think you have
summed up some of the reasons why, but I think you have utilized hope as a patient and a doctor now. And I want to thank you for writing this book and
thank you for coming on the program.
DR. MARSH: Thank you very much indeed. It was a joy talking to you.
SIDNER: Turning now to the United States. Los Angeles now has the largest homeless population in the country, overtaking New York City. Newly elected
L.A. Mayor Karen Bass ran on this issue. And one month into the job, has already taken some action. And she joins Michel Martin from the U.S.
Conference of Mayors to discuss her plans to tackle this crisis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Sara. Mayor Karen Bass, thank you so much for joining us.
MAYOR KAREN BASS (D-LOS ANGELES): Thanks for having me on.
MARTIN: Mayor, I just wanted to start with just a little bit about you and your career. First of all, you were a speaker of the State Assembly of
California. You happen to be the first black woman speaker of any state when you were elected to that job in 2008. Anybody who followed the state
government knows that's an incredibly consequential position.
I mean, you've been member of Congress. You have been a chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. And now, you are the mayor of Los Angeles.
I guess I just was wondering, like, why this position at this time? I mean, it seemed that obviously nothing is assured, but it seems pretty clear that
you would have easily won another term in Congress if you wanted it. And so, I guess I'm just curious, like, why this position at this time in your
BASS: Well, you know, because I've never been motivated by my career most. I have been motivated by issues. And frankly, I was perfectly happy in
Congress, but as I saw the problem with the unhoused escalate in Los Angeles to the degree that I was worried that we were getting ready to go
through another period of, essentially criminalizing poverty, that is what made me decide to run.
We have over 40,000 people sleeping on the streets, sleeping in tents, in Los Angeles. And voters were very, very fed up. They had taxed themselves
twice only to see the problem double. And that, to me, was a recipe to return us to the 1990s when we had another health social and economic
crisis that we chose to punish and criminalize. I didn't want to see that happen again. That is what drove me to run.
MARTIN: So, tell me a little more about why you think we are at this point. And it has to be said that Los Angeles isn't the only city or local
facing this problem. I mean, it's certainly, you know, an issue in San Francisco, certainly an issue in a lot of major cities. People are seeing,
you know, encampments where they had never seen them before or thought that they would see them again. So, what is your take on why?
BASS: Well, I mean, I think it's the economic conditions right now. I'm in Los Angeles and many other cities are just becoming unaffordable. And as
we've gone through economic downturns, for example in Los Angeles, the African American population is nine percent, but we are over 30 percent of
the people living in tents.
If you look at home ownership through the last recession, you know, African Americans significantly lost home ownership and people find themselves one
paycheck away from a tent. And so, this -- you know, the specific economic conditions right now that is driving this situation. The other thing that
drives it is the fact that overtime, we have divested from the social safety net.
So, we've cut back on drug treatment to the extent that we had mental health treatment, we have cut back on that. And then surprise, surprise,
all of these issues have converged to 40,000 people in our streets, and four or five of them who don't wake up each day that die on the streets.
MARTIN: And why is that? Is that from untreated medical conditions? Is that from exposure?
BASS: Sure. Well, a couple of things. We don't have the numbers from 2022 yet. But in 2021 to 2,000 Angelenos died on the streets. And many of them
are health-related conditions. Some of them are violence and -- I mean, horrific crimes that are committed against people who are unhoused. And we
certainly know that substance abuse and fentanyl was a key factor. But all of those issues are health, social, and economic issues. And I just don't
think that people should have to live on the streets in the United States of America.
MARTIN: On the first day after being sworn in, you declared a state of emergency on homelessness.
MARTIN: What does that help you do? What does that do?
BASS: Well, first of all, on my first day, I didn't even go into city hall right away. I went straight to our emergency operation center. It's a
center that operates when there are natural disasters. The state of the unhoused in Los Angeles is a man-made disaster.
And so, I think that the problem that we have faced in Los Angeles and many other cities around the country is that we have not addressed this as
though it was an emergency.
BASS: And when you don't have a sense of urgency, then you are essentially going to go along with the status quo, you are going to accept the
bureaucracy, and then the problem just keeps exploding. So, what the declaration of emergency did, putting Los Angeles in a state of emergency
gives me additional powers.
But in addition to that, the next day I did an executive directive that allowed for me to expedite building because Los Angeles has been a city
where building further has been resistant, whether you are talking housing or commercial or otherwise. And so, there's so many hoops for people to
jump over, so much red tape.
So, the executive directive -- and by the way, I did the press conference at the location where a nonprofit housing developer spent 14 years in order
to break ground on a property for people who needs affordable housing.
MARTIN: So, that would indicate -- it would suggest that there's a regulatory problem here, right?
BASS: Yes, it -- there's no question that there is regulatory problems on every level which we'll get to in a minute. Talking about substance abuse,
mental health, regulatory problems there as well. But, you know, in some instances it's not regulation, it's just the process that takes so long.
The permits that you need to have. The funding that is slow. And that drives up the costs.
So, voters in Los Angeles taxed themselves several years ago to get housing built. But didn't realize that because of all of the red tape, the cost is
so expensive, it's between $600,000 and $700,000 per unit. So, just imagine in apartment building with 24 units and multiply that. It is -- the expense
is exorbitant. That's why it was important for me to cut the red tape, to fast track, and to promote building.
At the same time though, on this -- in the second week that I was in office, I launched a program called "Inside Safe" to end street
homelessness. Get people out of encampments. Not arrest him. Not give them tickets. Not just move them to another location. But move them from a tent
into a motel as temporary housing where they might stay for a few months, and then enter permanent supportive housing.
MARTIN: What role does mental health play in all of this?
BASS: Mental health plays a role everywhere. I mean, it is a huge problem. Now, I don't subscribe to the notion that everybody that is on the street
has a mental illness, but a significant percentage too. And frankly, it's a chicken and egg issue.
BASS: I mean, if I were on the street, I don't know what my mental health condition would be like. So, the question is, is that why you are unhoused,
or did you deteriorate mentally and emotionally because you were unhoused? And so, that is an issue that has to be addressed. Substance abuse and
mental health have to be key core components of addressing the unhoused or we will not solve this problem.
MARTIN: You obviously have a very, kind of, well thought out coherent point of view on this. And so, I'm just curious, like, what informs your
point of view about the best way to go here?
BASS: First of all, being involved on this issue for over three decades. In the early '80s, I worked in L.A. County's emergency room. My patients
BASS: So, I have seen this problem. I saw it as it was beginning in the early '80s, and it completely coincided with the crack cocaine epidemic.
Now, we have new drugs that are epidemics, whether it is meth or fentanyl. And what I saw from society was no push to deal with the health problem,
but the strong push was to criminalize it. And was to pass, you know, laws that locked people up and did not deal with the root causes.
And then I saw -- I formed an organization. I spent 14 years in South Central Los Angeles on the streets, doing neighborhood organizing, trying
to address this problem, prevent the problem. When I went onto my role as a legislator, I was still addressing the issue. That's why I focused on the
child welfare system, which is one of the beater systems to homelessness. And also, to the prison system. And then I also focused on legislation to
Because the issue is, is that the people in tents, it's a diverse group of people. It's not the same. There are thousands of children on the streets.
There are women who have fled domestic violence situations. There are veterans. There are people on the streets in tents who actually worked
full-time. They just can't afford first or last month's rent. Their credit is bad or they have a history of being evicted and they can't get anybody
to rent to them.
So, it's important to understand the diversity of the population and to provide appropriate strategies for each category of individual that is on
MARTIN: It sounds like these are the things you have been focused on for a while, so.
BASS: It is the -- it is. But, you know, you work on issues from the vantage point where you are. But that is what made me come home though. And
I felt like the level of anger in Los Angeles was so high that we were getting ready to take a very serious turn to the right, a conservative move
that would have led to, I want to get rid of those people. I don't care what you do with the, just get them out of my sight. And the minute people
have that attitude, then you have criminalization.
MARTIN: Well, I will -- but, Mayor, you know, conservatives have argued for some time that the regulatory requirements of too many of our major
cities have been too strict, too cumbersome for some time. That they have inhibited the market in addressing this need. Do they have a point? Are
BASS: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely, they have a point. I mean, regulations should be put in place to protect people.
But you know, one of the things that happens, and this is across the board, when legislators pass law, or regulations are put in place, unless there is
a specific policy to evaluate and to sunset the regulation, nothing stops it from going on forever.
So, for example, 50 years ago, regulations were put in place to de- institutionalize the mental health facilities. But nobody studied it, five years or 10 years later, to say, is this working. Was this the best policy?
So, I believe that policies need to be reviewed. And when they are outdated or they are actually cumbersome and no longer address the conditions, then
you need to change the policies.
MARTIN: There are other issues on the table too, and I think in some ways, they might be related. But, you know, you mentioned kind of the level of
anger that you are hearing from Angelenos. Is crime part of that too, like street crime? I mean, you yourself were burglarized.
MARTIN: Tell me more about that. Like what is your take on that?
BASS: There is an intersection between the unhoused population and crime, but that does not mean that the two are equal. Meaning, that every homeless
person is a criminal. But there is certainly an overlap, and a lot of that overlap is based on substance abuse and mental illness.
Yes, public safety is a problem. It is the number one job of any mayor, is to keep Angelenos safe. And so, what I believe, and another issue that I've
worked on for a very long time, I believe in stopping crime when it happens, holding people accountable, but I also believed in making very
serious investment toward crime prevention. And you will see me do that. I have not launched that yet. And I will remind you that I've been in office
five weeks. One month and three days.
MARTIN: One month. Yes. No, I'm not suggesting, Mayor, that, you know, people who are unhoused are responsible for most of the crime. That's not
the question. What I'm suggesting is that when people feel that there's a level of disorder in their community, it makes them angry.
MARTIN: And one of the things that makes people feel a sense of disorder is this sort of, you know, tent encampments. I'm sorry. I mean, I just
think that, you know, it's not just it's an aesthetic objection, as some people would make it, but it just -- it does seem unreasonable that in the
United States of America you've got people living in tents in affluent major cities like Los Angeles and New York and Washington D.C., and places
And on top of that, the street crime that people are experiencing now, which is spiking in a number of localities around the country, both, you
know, so-called red states and so-called blue states and, you know, lots of different places, it just creates a sense of unease, anxiety.
BASS: Absolutely. I couldn't agree with you more, but there is an overlap, and I am referring to the overlap. And the overlap is based in -- a lot in
substance abuse and mental illness and the scarcity that people feel. But the uptick in crime is not completely about the unhoused population. We
definitely know that.
But you are absolutely right. I mean, when you drive by encampments, to me, I just think it's shocking. If you look at the State of California. The
State of California has the fourth largest economy on earth. How do you have 67,000, if you count the county, people unhoused in Los Angeles
County? So, I think the -- to me, when I drive past an encampment, I just think it's absolutely tragic. And it is amazing to me that overtime people
have kind of acclimated to, well, you know, they're on the street.
MARTIN: But, I mean, the fact is, you know, you have been in positions of leadership for some time. One of the arguments that the Republicans have
made and the conservatives have made is that Democrats have run these cities for a long time. And that -- you know, that this happened under
their watch. So, is this not an indictment of your predecessors and saying, they failed to address this problem aggressively, isn't it?
BASS: Well, you know, first of all, I mean, I think that Republicans absolutely use that rhetoric, but they are also the first ones that won't
to allow any housing bills to be funded as well. And so, one of the reasons why I have not just introduced bills on homelessness is because I don't
believe in introducing bills that I know are going to go absolutely nowhere, which is why I focused on prevention.
So, they say that about mental health every time there's a mass shooting, but yet, they provide absolutely no resources for mental health. And then,
then quite as it's kept, crime and homelessness is now creeping into Republican cities as well. Fentanyl and oxycontin are certainly issues that
are Republican cities are suffering from as well.
MARTIN: So, is there a role for the federal government here? And if so, what is it?
BASS: Huge, huge. I mean, I'm sitting here in Washington D.C. wanting to attend the conference, but I'm also meeting with cabinet members. I met
today with the VA secretary. Why? Because there's hundreds of thousands of homeless veterans. I also met with Secretary Xavier Becerra. Why? Because
of mental health and substance abuse.
And so -- and we need regulatory relief from the federal government as well. Because right now, you have to -- for residential drug treatment, you
can only stay in treatment 90 days. No one who has been an addict for years is going to get sober in 90 days. So, I'm here asking for regulatory relief
So, what I believe has to happen, and in my 30 days of being in this seat, I have worked very hard to bring about, and that is in alignment of every
level of government. The city and the county used to be at odds. We are beginning to work together. We are in alignment with our governor that
wants to address mental health. We are in alignment with the administration where the president has said he wants to reduce homelessness by 25 percent.
So, aligning every level of government along with the private sector, again, just like you would in a natural disaster, we need to mobilize all
of our forces.
MARTIN: Before we let you go, Mayor, you have been in Washington for the last, you know, dozen years.
MARTIN: Dozen years. And, you know, you've seen the polarization increase. Do you believe that this is a subject that is sufficiently compelling that
would allow the parties to kind of bridge that --
MARTIN: No? You don't? No.
BASS: No. No, I do not, because the Republican Party, again, it was what you said a few minutes ago, the Republican Party's position is, this is a
problem of Democratic cities. They are going to use this issue to run on, even though it's beginning to impact their cities. And so, my focus on
Washington is the administration. It is not the House or the Senate. Not legislatively.
I will look to my two senators and our over 20 members of Congress in Los Angeles County. I will look to them for specific appropriations. But in
terms of legislatively, this is -- we are getting ready to go into campaign season again, even though it just ended. And I don't believe that the
Republicans will let up on this issue at all because they have politicized it, turned it into a partisan issue, and have said that it's a Democratic
I mean, the large cities are Democratic cities. The large cities, of course, experience homelessness more than other cities. But as long as they
can politicize it and run on it, I do not expect support from Republicans.
MARTIN: Madam Mayor, the mayor of Los Angeles, Karen Bass, thank you so much for talking with us today.
BASS: You are welcome. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: And finally, Jacinda Ardern has surprised many international observers by announcing she will step down as New Zealand's prime minister
next month. To New Zealanders, it was perhaps a bit less of a surprise with the cost-of-living crisis, criticism of the government's COVID policy, and
an election approaching in which her Labour Party was not polling particularly well.
But Ardern said, for her, it was simply a case of having no more in the tank. A remarkably frank admission from a prime minister. From gun control
to climate, refugees to motherhood, Ardern has made a real impact on the world stage. So, as she prepares to leave office, let's take a look back at
her conversations with Christiane Amanpour over the years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Just before we went on, you said and you reminded me that it's been just three months since you took, you know, the leadership of your
party, and here you are, the youngest prime minister in 150 years, and a woman to boot. My goodness. Congratulations. What are the big challenges on
JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. And you've named some of them. Some of them are international like other nations. We, of
course, face the challenges of issues like climate change, but particularly acute for us as a member of the Pacific area. Some of the islands on our
back doorstep are already feeling acutely the impacts of climate change. But for us, domestically, we have issues around inequality, job poverty,
housing and affordability, all issues that we're very keen to tackle head on and put at the center of our government.
AMANPOUR: You've done something quite unprecedented that has gone viral. You took your little baby, Neve, into the General Assembly.
ARDERN: Well, actually, I was speaking, and I came down from the podium to find that she was there on the General Assembly floor. And there's actually
an image that captures the moment when I see her there and --
AMANPOUR: But you pick her up and you're hugging her.
ARDERN: Yes. You know, it was just delightful to see the speaker that she might be in another space. But I think probably what it speaks to is effect
that, you know, I am still breastfeeding. I have Neve near me most of the time. It's just -- it's not always obvious that she is in close proximity
to me most of the time.
AMANPOUR: And you talk about this openly why? Because you want to inspire working mothers? Because you want to make it normal?
ARDERN: I want to normalize it. I want to normalize it. And I do think that if we want to make our workplaces permissive, more open, then we need
to acknowledge that there are logistical challenges that come with it. And I hope that in part, just by being a boost (ph) and being a bit more open,
you know, which I except brings vulnerability by being a bit more open, it might create a path for other women.
AMANPOUR: What is the leadership rulebook for you? Because people think that to be a prime minister, you have to be this way, this way, this way.
But are you trying to sort of open up the leadership rulebook, and if so, how?
ARDERN: Well, I do think it's time for us to reconsider whether or not we are meeting the expectations of the public. And the expectations
particularly of that new generation of voters. You know, they are less hierarchical. They are collaborative. They're wanting us to be
constructive. And yet, probably, the old playbook when it comes to politics is that, you know, you succeed if you are seen as pretty ruthless. There's
a lot of ego in politics. Measures of success are pretty basic. They are mostly aligned with economic markets.
You know, I am determined to do things differently. I do think you can be both strong and compassionate. I do think success is not just about
economic, but about your social indicative of success. And on those measures, you know, we are looking to be world leading. We are producing
next year our -- a wellbeing budget. We are using indicators across cultural, social, economic, and environmental. And if we succeed, we will
be amongst the first in the world. That to me is the kind of governance we need.
AMANPOUR: I want to show you something, which I'm sure you have actually seen. So, a month ago, when your little daughter was nine months old, your
partner, her father, said, for her nine-month birthday today, we received the gift of crawling while her mom got her the gift of having a safer
country to grow up in. That is a really clever way of --
ARDERN: Of telling me she's crawling.
AMANPOUR: Of telling you she's crawling. But also, perhaps reacting to what you did so swiftly with your political partners, and opponents, and
that is toughen your gun laws.
AMANPOUR: You know, even President Obama couldn't do that in the United States after the massacre of children at Sandy Hook.
AMANPOUR: But you did in a matter of 26 days, legislation was passed.
ARDERN: Yes. I think that that speaks to the impact of the 1th of Marsh on New Zealand. We did have permissive gun laws, we did. And, you know, there
is, of course, a very practical use for the guns that we do use and license in New Zealand, but there is actually a whole set of weapons that were just
available but unjustifiably so.
And so, I remember very distinctly sitting in a briefing where the police told me the weapons that have been used on the 15th of March and how easily
they were legally obtained and then, illegally modified for the purposes of that attack. And it was no question in my mind that our laws needed to
change in that moment.
What I'm heartened by is that I did not question for a moment that parliament would support that law change.
ARDERN: And that absolutely proved to be the case. Not only did we change our laws, but that law basically moved through in roughly the course of two
AMANPOUR: Yes. I mean, it's remarkable.
ARDERN: But I think it just --
AMANPOUR: I mean --
ARDERN: -- speaks to the strength of feeling in the aftermath of that attack. You know, we had debated gun law change before in New Zealand, we
had. And periodically, it had come up over the years, but it hadn't led to substantive change.
But after you witness 51 of your New Zealand Muslim community be attacked in that way, you know, the only answer was to do everything we could to
prevent it ever happening again.
AMANPOUR: I mean, just to remind, over 110 mass shooting in the United States since 1982, according to an investigative site, 15 school shootings
along this year. It's a really difficult topic to grapple. I mean, I wonder whether you ever think that other countries can learn from what you did and
actually, from what neighboring Australia did after their massacre --
AMANPOUR: -- in 1996, a conservative government passed tough gun laws.
ARDERN: And in both cases, you know -- and you know, I have to acknowledge, New Zealand had pretty permissive gun legislation.
AMANPOUR: Well, actually, some of your people said, you know, we feed half the world. We're hunters.
ARDERN: And we are, and we will continue to be a food-producing nation that deals with animal welfare issues and so on and has a practical purpose
and use for guns, but you can draw a line and say that, that does not mean that you need access to military-style semiautomatic weapons and assault
rifles. You do not.
And New Zealand is by and large absolutely agreed with that position. Australia experienced a massacre and changed their laws. New Zealand had
its experience and changed its laws. To be honest with you, I do not understand the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: Not a whole lot has changed since that interview when it comes to major gun legislation in America.
That is it for now for us. You can always catch us online, on our podcast, and across social media. Thank you so much for watching and goodbye from