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At This Hour

Biden Agenda on the Brink as Key Senate Deadline Looms This Week; Biden Speaks on Economy amid Rise in COVID Cases, Plunging Stocks. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired July 19, 2021 - 11:30   ET


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The CDC will make a pronouncement about the risk and what the relative risk is.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: Dr. Fauci, thank you for a thorough answer and as well as just thanks for being here. I really I appreciate.

FAUCI: I appreciate it. Thank you for having me.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Coming up for us, President Biden is about to speak as CNN has new reporting about the bipartisan infrastructure deal and that it could be on the brink of collapse. The details on that, next.



BOLDUAN: At this hour, we're standing by to hear from President Biden. He's going to speak about the economy and he's also expected to continue to press the case for a deal on one of his top priorities, which is infrastructure, which our Hill team is reporting is on life support right now, those negotiations.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, he is promising to hold a test vote on Wednesday, essentially setting a deadline for negotiations. And at the very same time, we are keeping our eyes on Wall Street. All three U.S. stock indices are down sharply on pandemic fears.

Let's go to Capitol Hill. CNN's Lauren Fox is standing by. And, Lauren, you've been checking in with your sources. What are they telling about negotiations and about this week?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what they're telling us is that this is the week it either all comes together, Kate, or it all falls apart. And what you're hearing from sources that are part of these talks is that there were continued discussions over the weekend. They are really trying to finish up this bipartisan deal in part because they know the pressure is on from the majority leader who wants to hold a key vote on Wednesday.

Republicans are arguing they may not be ready. Democrats are arguing that they're going to keep trying. But one thing to keep in mind here, is the sticking point is the same one we have seen for weeks. How do you finance this deal?

And I think one of the tricky parties about it is they had a list of pay-fors that all they've agreed to. If you remember, Biden came out with that group of bipartisan senators and they all held hands and essentially said, this is the deal we support.

Well, Republicans pulled out a key pay-for last week, one that would have given the IRS more money to go after people who hadn't paid their taxes. That is now not going to be in the deal. There is a scramble to try to figure out how you replace some of that funding. This is a key moment right now because if they can't find a way to pay for this deal, they can't really get any further.

Meanwhile, you have Schumer wanting to move ahead with that $3.5 trillion budget deal. That is the first to unlocking that Democratic- only process of trying to restructure, really, the social safety net, that bigger infrastructure bill that Biden has argued is so key to his agenda.

So this is a key week for the president's agenda, it's a key moment for Democrats and, of course, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to see whether or not he can hold his caucus together. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Lauren Fox, thank you.

Joining me right now for more on this is Rachael Bade, a CNN Political Analyst and co-author of the Political Playbook. It is good to see you, Rachael.

If there is no infrastructure deal to read, if there is no budget deal to read, I am kind of stuck in this place of wondering what Senator Schumer is really doing here.

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it is sort of a technicality. He's going to file cloture on a vehicle. So, basically, they'll be a vehicle to vote on but there will be no legislative text unless they reach this deal by Wednesday. I talked to Republicans who are part of this negotiating group last night and all of them told me that there is, quote, no chance that they will vote to proceed to this bill without having the language, the final language ironed out.

So right now, we're seeing this sort of double dog dare happening between Chuck Schumer and this bipartisan group. He clearly has a timeline. He wanted to get moving in July. He wants to pass this bipartisan infrastructure deal and then move to the reconciliation piece, the Democrats-only bill. And he sees that the calendar and the clock running out.

So he's trying to force this issue and sort of put Republicans' feet to the fire. Either they support this and move now or they'll come up with another plan. BOLDUAN: And, look, the line still rings true if there is a will, there's a way. And I'm -- so could the fight over how to pay for this, which has been the longstanding fight, is still the fight, is this revealing itself to be more of a cover for that there is not actually -- there is not actually a real will to get this done in some part? I mean, it is hard to believe because they've been negotiating for so long, but they're still, still, still not there yet.

BADE: It is a good question, Kate. I mean, if you think about it, this is a $1 trillion infrastructure bill. They are -- over the weekend, they've been talking about specifically $100 billion. It's about a tenth of the whole press, when the Republicans said that they don't accept any more -- this pay-for, this IRS enforcement proposal. They said, basically, the CBO, which is the Congressional Budget Office, was not going to come back and say they can assume $100 billion from that proposal. They don't know how much it will bring. And so they said that is out of the question.

But, look, it is $100 billion of a $1 trillion plan.


As you said, if there is a will, there is a way. There was a lot talks over the weekend. Senator Rob Portman, who's a Republican from Ohio, has been putting up a couple of other changes to changes for prescription drugs in terms of Medicare, there is some negotiating going on specifically right now behind the scenes about that. But, look, it is one piece of a larger package.

And so if people want an excuse to walk away, perhaps they could use this as one. But we've seen both sides work, you know, very hard at this for two months and President Biden is going to be out there any minute talking about this bipartisan product that he wants to pass. And so, you if they let this be the hang-up, that might tell you again perhaps they'd rather have the talking points than the actual policy win.

BOLDUAN: Great reporting as always. Rachael, thank you very much. And as Rachael mentioned, we are standing by to hear from President Biden. He'll be speaking about the economy and this very soon, any moment now.

But also this programming note, President Biden will be joining my colleague, Don Lemon, for an exclusive live CNN presidential town hall, that's Wednesday night, 8:00 P.M. Eastern right here on CNN.

Still ahead for us, the United States is now blaming China for massive ransomware attacks, including one on a major American tech company. A live report on this, ahead.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: -- since I took office, more than 3 million new jobs all tolled. That is the fastest growth I'm told at this point in any administration's history. Another prediction, that is my favorite one, I must add, is that if I got elected, I would bring the end to capitalism. I never understood that one but we've heard -- we've heard an awful lot.


Well, in six months into my administration, the U.S. economy has experienced the highest economic growth rate in nearly 40 years. And we know we've -- and now we knew that we needed to launch a wartime effort to get America vaccinated and pass a powerful American rescue plan. We did both those things. And now, the forecasters have doubled their projections for growth this year in the economy to 7 percent or higher. In fact, the U.S. is the only developed country in the world where growth projections today are stronger than they were before the pandemic hit.

At the same time, companies across the country are giving workers a raise, unusual thing, and a number of new unemployment claims has been cut by more than half since a took office. And, by the way, two weeks ago, I issued a major executive order promoting fair and open competition, which is the cornerstone, the cornerstone of American capitalism, banning non-compete clauses that suppress workers' wages, lowering the price of things, like hearing aids, prescription drugs, internet service, along with dozens of other actions.

Folks, it turns out capitalism is alive and very well. We're making serious progress to ensure that it works the way it is supposed to work for the good of the American people. So, for all of those predictions of doom and gloom six months in, here is where we stand, record growth, record job creation, workers getting hard-earned breaks.

Look, we brought this economy back from the brink and we designed our strategy not only to provide for a temporary boost but to lay the foundation for a long-term boom that brings everyone along. You know, that is why we designed the American rescue plan to help not just all of those -- everyone at once but over the course of a full year and beyond, so we could help families and small businesses weather the ups and downs as the economy recovers from a history pandemic, and there are going to be up and downs.

We saw a great example of that just last week. For the first time, monthly payments began going out to nearly every working family raising a child in the United States of America. Thanks to the expanded child tax credit and the American rescue plan, $300 a month going out for each child under the age of six and $250 for every child 6 through 17, every month for the next six months with more coming in the spring.

That money is a game-changer. For some, it is a life saver. Think of the single mom struggling to put food on the table each month? The parent has to tell their kid, I'm sorry, honey, but we can't afford those dance classes, or the sports team you want to play in this fall, we can't do it. You know, I can't wait for the credit against their taxes to be coming next year as a tax credit. They need cash in their pockets today. For families of the least, this money will do the most, dramatically reducing child poverty in America. And for millions of middle class families, it will give them a little bit of breathing room every month. That is just one example of how we're building an economy from the bottom up and the middle out.

But despite that progress, we cannot afford to be complacent. We know that our economic recovery hinges on getting the pandemic under control. You know, and by fully vaccinating 160 million Americans or 80 percent of our seniors, we fundamentally changed the course of the pandemic, for one that threatens all Americans to a disease that has the most severe impacts only on the unvaccinated people in the country.

But we can't let up, especially since and because of the delta variant, which is more transmissible and more dangerous. Unfortunately, cases are now rising particularly in communities with very low vaccination rates. Just four states account for nearly 40 percent, four states, 40 percent of all cases last week. All hospitalizations and deaths are occurring among unvaccinated Americans. These tragedies are avoidable.

The data couldn't be clearer. If you're fully vaccinated, you have a high degree of protection against severe illness, hospitalization and death. If you're unvaccinated, you are not protected.


So, please, please get vaccinated. Get vaccinated now. It works. It's safe. It's free. It's convenient.

You know, this virus doesn't have to hold you back any longer. It doesn't have to hold our economy back any longer. But the only way we put it behind us is if more Americans get vaccinated.

We also know that as our economy has come roaring back, we see some price increases. Some folks have raised worries that this could be a sign of persistent inflation. But that's not our view. Our experts believe and the data shows that most of the price increases we've seen are -- were expected and expected to be temporary.

The reality is you can't flip the global economic light back on and not expect this to happen. As demand returns, there's going to be global supply chain challenges. We've seen that in semiconductors which are used in automobiles. That global shortage has slowed vehicle production, creating the temporary spike in car prices. That's a real challenge. My administration is doing everything we can to address it. But, again, these disruptions are temporary.

Lumber prices are another example. They spiked early in our recovery. But in recent weeks, they began to fall. They've fallen by more than 50 percent. In the hospitality industry, prices are returning to where they used to be. Economists call all these things transitory effects. And they account for about 60 percent of the price increases we've seen over the last few months. And I want to be clear, my administration understands that if we were to experience unchecked inflation over the long-term, that would pose a real challenge to our economy. So while we're confident that isn't what we're seeing today, we're going to remain vigilant about any response as needed.

As I made clear to Chairman Powell of the Federal Reserve, when we met recently, the Fed is independent. It should take whatever steps it deems necessary to support a strong, durable economic recovery. But whatever different views some might have on current price increases, we should be united in one thing, passage of the bipartisan infrastructure framework, which we shook hands on, we shook hands on. And my build back better plan will be a force for achieving lower prices for Americans looking ahead.

It's another reason why the investments are so important. If we make prudent multiyear investments in better roads, bridges, transit systems and high speed internet in a modern resilient electric grid, here's what will happen. It breaks up the bottlenecks in our economy. Goods get to consumers more rapidly, and less expensively. Small businesses create and innovate much more seamlessly.

If we increase the availability of quality, affordable child care, elder care, paid leave, more people will enter the workforce. These steps will enhance our productivity, raising wages without raising prices. That won't increase inflation. It will take the pressure off of inflation, give a boost to our workforce, which leads to lower prices in years ahead.

So, if your primary concern right now is inflation, you should be even more enthusiastic about this plan. And as we've promoted fair competition in our economy through the executive order I mentioned, it will drive down prices even further. New businesses will get in the game, competing against those giant corporations who have been free to ramp up prices because they haven't had any real competition.

Look, the bottom line is this, what the best companies do and what we as a country should do is make smart, sustainable investments with appropriate financing, to make this nation more productive, to advance America's leadership in clean energy, to win the jobs of the future while meeting the threat of climate change. And to ensure that all working Americans benefit from the growth they're helping produce.

The independent experts who have analyzed my plans have found that they would do just that, expand output and enable millions of Americans to enter the labor workforce. Now, just this year, not just for the next but not just this year, but for decades in the future, it's not temporary. This is the best strategy to create millions of jobs and lift up the middle class families and grow

wages and keep prices affordable for the long-term.

What we can't do is go back to the same old trickle down theories that gave us nearly $2 trillion in deficit finance corporate tax giveaways that did nothing to make our economy more productive or resilient.

[11:55:12] The same people who cheered on that approach are now telling us it isn't a problem if big companies have actually to compete for workers and offer them a fair wage with some dignity.

I could not disagree more. We can't go back to the old failed thinking. We need to grow the economy from the bottom up and the middle out, as I said before. The investments that I'm proposing are investments the American people want and investments that our country needs. And if we get this done, a wide range of independent forecasters project that it will have an incredibly significant impact on GDP and jobs, good paying jobs with prevailing wages. And a majority of these jobs will go to people without a college degree.

I've said it before, and it's true, this is a blue collar blueprint for building an American economy back. Simply put, we can't afford not to make these investments.

Now, we're going to pay for them responsibly as well by ensuring our largest corporations and the very wealthiest among us pay their fair share by reforming our international tax system with a minimum global tax, which we've led the world to agree to.

Let me close with this. When I arrived in office, it had been a long time since the government had worked for the people. Things had been great for big corporations and folks at the top. Those 55 major corporations that paid zero in income tax while making billions in profits, they had no complaints.

When I took office, I made a commitment, a commitment to the American people, that we're going to change that paradigm so working families could have a fighting chance again to get a good education, to get a good job and a raise, to take care of the elderly parent or the child with the disability, and still be able to go out and earn a good living, to stop losing hours of their lives stuck in traffic because the streets are crumbling or waiting for slow spotty internet to connect them to the world.

That's what the economy we're building is all about. That's why we passed the American rescue plan. And that's why we need investment in the bipartisan infrastructure framework and my build back better plan. Our economy has come a long way over the last six months. It can't slow down now. We can make this boom we're experiencing today one that will ensure that all Americans have an opportunity to share in it for years to come. And we can show the world that American democracy can deliver for the people.

I look forward to continuing to build this economy, and I'm incredibly optimistic about what we're going to be able to build together in the next six months and the years to come. Thank you all for listening and may God bless you, and I'll take a few questions.

REPORTER: Mr. President, you said last week that companies and platforms like Facebook are killing people by letting this --

BIDEN: Let me say what I said. I'm glad you asked me that question. One, I had just read that on the Facebook -- Facebook pointed out that -- it was pointed out that Facebook, of all the misinformation, 60 percent of the misinformation came from 12 individuals. That's what the article said. So I was asked that question about what do I think is happening. Facebook isn't killing people. These 12 people are out there giving misinformation. Anyone listening is getting hurt by it .It's killing people. It's bad information.

My hope is that Facebook, instead of taking it personally and somehow I'm saying Facebook is killing people, that they would do something about the misinformation. There are outrageous misinformation about the vaccine. That's what I meant.

REPORTER: Have they done enough in your opinion to stop --

BIDEN: I haven't -- to be honest with you, I don't know anything today, over the weekend, I don't think they had, but I don't know. I don't know the answer to that question.

REPORTER: Will you hold them accountable if they don't do more to stop the spread?

BIDEN: When you say hold accountable, I just want to -- I'm not trying to hold people accountable. I'm trying to make people to look at themselves, look in the mirror, think about that misinformation going to your son, your daughter, you relative, someone you love. That's what I'm asking.

All the way in the back.

REPORTER: Thank you, Mr. President. At what point would you consider inflation on check to a point where you need to consider taking action or do you want to see the Fed takes action?


And, secondly, why do you believe that the budget bill is appropriate legislation for a pathway to citizenship?

BIDEN: Well, first of all, I think we need to find.