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Texas Governor Bans All COVID Vaccine Mandates in State; Rep. Nancy Pelosi Holds News Conference Ahead of Debt Ceiling Vote; Source Says, Trump Org. in Advanced Talks to Sell D.C. Hotel Lease. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired October 12, 2021 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: Developing this morning, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has signed an executive order banning any entity in his state from mandating coronavirus vaccines, this includes prohibiting private companies even from requiring employees or customers be vaccinated.

CNN's Laura Jarrett is tracking this. She joins us now. Laura, this is significant, though it is more politics than it is about science. What is Abbott doing here?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Kate, this has huge implications for every single business waking up this morning in the state of Texas that is trying to keep its employees and staff safe here. Look, they face now $1,000 fine if they try to get one of their employees vaccinated. Think about it. Even a hospital now faces a fine if they try to have a vaccine mandate. He doesn't make any exceptions. There are no carve- outs here.

And, legally, this flies in the face of President Biden's vaccine mandate. So on legal ground, I think the governor is in a tricky spot because the supremacy clause, federal law usually trumps state law. And so the Justice Department could try to take the governor to court and they may, in fact, win. We'll see how this plays out. The governor has been sued over his prohibitions on vaccine mandates in schools before. Those are still winding their way through the courts.

But, politically, Kate, here, he may not care if he's on strong legal ground because, remember, the governor here is facing a primary challenge in March. He has primary challengers who have been trolling him about trying to go further on vaccine mandates, even though the governor has been -- he has been -- he's actually been vaccinated for COVID himself. But somehow he just doesn't want it mandated for other people. And his opponents have been pushing him, others on the right pushing him to go even further. So, we'll see how this plays out.

I just want to play out here for you, Kate, 65 percent of Texans support vaccine mandates in their state. So, while the governor is doing this, he is out of step with the majority of people in the state. BOLDUAN: He's not speaking to a majority with what he's trying to signal as a message here. That is also part of this. It's great to see you, Laura. Thank you.

Also developing this hour, a major national task force is proposing recommending against taking a daily aspirin to cut the risk of heart disease and stroke if you are over the age of 60. It's part of new recommendations issued moments ago by the group that ultimately really sets the norms for what treatments and tests are implemented by doctors and clinicians nationwide and what's also typically covered by insurance.


Joining me now is Dr. Chien-Wen Tseng, who is a member of the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force. This is the task force I'm talking about that's issuing this proposed guidance. Dr. Tseng, thank you so much for being here.

This potentially impacts millions of people. The most recent number I saw was at least 29 million Americans take low-dose aspirin every day for this very reason, this prevention reason. And, previously, this warning of do not do this has been for people age 70-plus, now 60- plus. Why? What did you all see?

DR. CHIEN-WEN TSENG, MEMBER, U.S. PREVENTIVE SERVICES TASK FORCE: Okay. Thanks for having us here. You know, this is so important. It's really talking about the role of aspirin in preventing that first heart attack or stroke. So, we actually still do see some benefit actually for people from ages 40 to 59. And even though there's benefit though, that benefit is smaller. And you're right, you have to weigh it against the risk or harms of bleeding from aspirin.

So, actually, for ages 40 to 59 we recommend that people still consider aspirin but actually talk about it with their clinician first to make sure it's the right match and that the harms are not all weighed by the benefits. For people who are aged 60 and over, we actually recommend against starting aspirin, and that's because the risk of bleeding increases with age. And there, starting at age 60, the harms cancel out the benefits.

BOLDUAN: If I'm -- just to dig into it because there are a lot of people watching who obviously take a daily dose now, and everyone's medical history is their own, but if I'm 63 years old and currently on a daily dose regimen of aspirin for prevention, what should I do today, Doctor? Should I stop?

TSENG: Well, absolutely not. So, this is really important to know that this is a recommendation about whether or not to start aspirin to prevent the first heart attack or stroke for people who aren't actually on aspirin yet. If somebody has actually started taking aspirin already or is on aspirin because they've had a heart attack or stroke, we definitely don't want them to stop. They should really talk to their clinicians if they have concerns about whether or not to continue aspirin but don't stop on their own. BOLDUAN: This comes down to weighing benefits against risks, as so many medical procedures and medicines are, that's what you have to weigh. What are you seeing in terms of the risks that got you all to a place of changing these guidelines?

TSENG: Well, aspirin is used safely by millions of people, but there is definitely the potential risk of bleeding. So, if somebody has issues of stomach ulcers or bleeding in the brain or is on blood thinners, other health conditions too, there definitely can be more risk. We want people to be aware of that.

There's also the potential benefits, so the benefits are smaller now to start aspirin to prevent the first heart attack or stroke are still there. It's really important for people to know to talk to their clinicians. So find out, one, are they at increased risk for heart attack or stroke, and, two, whether or not aspirin's benefits would outweigh the risks.

BOLDUAN: This is draft guidance, not the final word if you will. Do you believe this will be the final word? Is there room for maneuvering?

TSENG: Well, the task force always puts out a draft. And this is a time when we look for input from the public. So, organizations but also individuals, we take every single comment into account. So, often, they are similar, but we also take into -- we also consider seriously all the comments that come in.

BOLDUAN: Doctor, thank you very much for your time. This is important for so many Americans. Millions of people need to pay attention to this today. Thank you very much.

TSENG: Thanks, Kate, for getting the message out.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Coming up next for us, the Trump Organization reportedly on the verge of selling its flagship hotel in Washington, D.C. The breaking details on this multimillion-dollar deal, next.



BOLDUAN: House Speaker Pelosi speaking right now on Capitol Hill ahead of the debt ceiling vote. Let's listen in.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Let me talk to some of the women first and I'll come back to you, ma'am.

REPORTER: The supply chain that we're seeing right now, the disruptions that are going on. Right now, we're seeing American ports that are running at 60 percent capacity. But the problem is they are closing at night and on Sundays. And do you think that the president right now should be talking to the unions and perhaps asking them to loosen up some of their worker regulations as to when they should be working so they can be working more often and we should be able to start our supply chain?

PELOSI: The supply chain issues is not just an issue of what happens here. The supply chain is an issue globally, and that was something that we talked about at the meeting because there are obstructions in other countries of product even making it to the ships to come to our country. Yes, we've got to address that issue because it has a direct impact on everything because we are so dependent on global trade and our trade going out as well.


Yes, sir?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Speaker, your letter last night to the caucus, you said that you should be doing fewer things well was the guidance you got from the members. So, are you suggesting this package may ultimately drop either universal pre- K, child tax credit expansion, tuition free community college, paid medical family leave or the Medicare expansion?

PELOSI: Let me just say that $3.5 trillion, we were doing everything well. So, not a question of now we're doing it well because it's less money, but the fact is that if there is -- are fewer dollars to spend, there are choices to be made. And members have said let's get the results that we need, but we will not diminish the transformative nature of what it is. And it is -- some members have written back to me and said I want to do everything, so we'll have that discussion.

But, again, in the family section of it, the transformative nature, the Biden child tax credit, child care and universal pre-K really go together. That's sort of -- they go together. They're part of the same -- meeting the same need, issues that relate to home health care. There are certain things that we -- I mean, we're still talking about a couple of trillion dollars, but it's not -- you know, it's much less.

So, mostly we would be cutting back on years in something like that. But those are decisions that we'll make. Excuse me?

RAJU: Would you have to drop one of those programs?

PELOSI: Well, we hope not. We hope not. But we're going to have to make sure we have a bill, which I also said is that we have to have something that will pass the House and pass the Senate, pass the House and pass the Senate. And I'm not asking members to vote for something that has no chance to pass in the Senate.

I'm optimistic we'll get to where we need to be in a timely fashion. Yes?

REPORTER: Do you think -- two-part question. Do you think --

PELOSI: Two-part? Are two parts Is that allowed?


PELOSI: I mean, a lot of questions here.

REPORTER: Do you believe you'll get this done this month still? And also on the debt limit, are you still of the view that you should not do this as part of reconciliation?

PELOSI: Yes, I did tell you that, didn't I.

REPORTER: No, I don't think you did, actually. I think you said that --

PELOSI: But you asked me. And you forgot. You said are you going to do it in reconciliation and I said, no.

REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) -- extended for about a month.

PELOSI: Maybe I didn't recognize you with the mask. Yes, no, I'm optimistic that these decisions have to be made. There's been a lot of discussion and we are a Democratic Party. We are not a rubber stamp or a lockstep party. We have our discussions and I'm very proud of the values that all the members have brought to the table, the knowledge of the issues that they're advancing that they bring and the realization that even at $3.5 trillion you had to make decisions. So, again, we have to make tighter decisions.

Now, my last letter previous to this one, I said everybody, sharpen your pencil. I mean, it's an old phrase. Nobody uses a pencil anymore, I guess, but sharpen your pencil literally, figuratively, and any other way. But I'm optimistic, yes.

In terms of the debt ceiling, we're just hoping that we can do this in a bipartisan way. There are all kinds of suggestions that members have. One that really was endorsed a while back by Mitch McConnell, but who knows -- you know, who knows, but it was to -- the manifestation of it now, Mr. Yarmuth and Mr. Boyle have put forth puts a responsibility on the secretary of the treasury to make the determination to lift the debt ceiling.

That decision could be overruled by the Congress. It would take 60 votes under the present custom, but nonetheless, Congress would have to overrule that. That seems to have some appeal to both sides of the aisle because of the consequences to people of not lifting it. But why would the -- I mean, many Democrats and Republicans have voted against lifting the debt ceiling but never to the extent of jeopardizing it. This is the first time.

REPORTER: Are you in favor of that idea?

PELOSI: I think it has merit. Yes, I do think it has merit. But in the meantime, we're going to pass a bill today to take us to December with the hope that when people realize what the implications are -- this is not a technical thing. This has ramifications, as I say, from the kitchen table to our economy to global and constitutional.


REPORTER: Speaker Pelosi, one of the pay-fors in the build back better bill that's been proposed is IRS cracking down on some unpaid taxes. Banks are starting to get calls from customers and they are recording these calls. They are concerned about this tracking of transactions that is greater than $600. So, Americans are starting to be worried about this. Do you think that this pay-for of giving the IRS more money of cracking down on unpaid taxes is going to stay in the reconciliation bill?


REPORTER: And what do you say to Americans who are concerned about this?

PELOSI: Yes, yes. I mean, with all due respect, the plural of anecdote is not data. I've said that before here. Yes, there are concerns that some people have. But if people are breaking the law and not paying their taxes, one way to track them is through the banking measure. I think $600 -- that's a negotiation that will go on as to what the amount is, but, yes.

You in the front row have an advantage here.

REPORTER: Thank you, Madam Speaker. Our latest CBS News poll shows that only 10 percent of Americans describe themselves as knowing a lot of specific things that are in the reconciliation package and that a majority don't know anything at all. So, do you think you need to do a better job at messaging? And going forward, how do you sell this if ultimately you have to --

PELOSI: Well, I think you all could do a better job of selling it, to be very frank with you. Because every time I come here, I go through the list, family medical leave, the issues that are in there. But it is true, it is hard to break through when you have such a comprehensive package. But as we narrow it down and put it out there, I think that it will.

For example, one of the things in the bill is the continuation of the Biden tax credit, that is child tax credit that is in the -- was in the rescue package. That has great appeal. Do people know where it springs from? No. But it is a vast bill. It has a lot in it, and we'll have to continue to make sure the public does. But whether they know it or not, they overwhelmingly support it, and, by the way, women much more than men, men like the infrastructure, this one.

REPORTER: What would be the first to go to get the price of the package down --

PELOSI: Excuse me?

REPORTER: What would be the first to go to get the price of the package down?

PELOSI: You must be kidding. That's a negotiation. That's not something that I would be announcing here, and I don't even know what that would be, and what would be the first to go. Probably in timing that the -- that the timing would be reduced in many cases to make the costs lower, but it only would be in such a way that does not undermine the transformative nature of it, because some of it has to have enough money in order to be -- have sustainability that is -- can be counted on. So, again, first thing would be timing.

Thank you. Thank you all. Oh, by the way, I have to go. I have a foreign minister (INAUDIBLE) coming to my office now. He's in Washington for meetings with the administration, and I will have a bipartisan meeting with him and perhaps some of you will even attend our press availability in a short period. But it's pretty exciting to welcome here to once again take great pride in the relationship between Israel and the United States, that Israel's security is essential to U.S. security, that we have those shared values, security, security, security, but also values and to talk about some of the --

BOLDUAN: All right. We're listening to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the very latest of what's happening today and what is going to happen when it comes to this big spending bill going forward. She says changes are coming.

Joining me right now is Mark Zandi, he's a Chief Economist for Moody's Analytics. Great to have you, Mark.

Let's start with what's going to happen today. The House is back in session. They are going to be voting to raise the debt ceiling for, well, a short-term fix to this -- to the debt ceiling problem. Both parties have raised the debt ceiling. Both parties have warned of the disastrous impacts of not doing it. What is the impact really of what is purely a political fight here?

MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS: Well, Kate, it's all bad. There's nothing good that comes out of the debt limit debate. You know, just -- even though time and time again lawmakers come together and they pass and increase in the debt limit before we -- the treasury actually defaults on anything, you know, it creates havoc. It creates havoc in financial markets, stock prices, interest rates rise. It costs us as taxpayers, and there is to no end. I mean, the original intent of the debt limit was to try to force lawmakers to fiscal discipline, that they would have to think about the tax and spending legislation that they were working on, but, of course, that hasn't happened.


So it's a bad law, a counterproductive law to no end.

So, you know, ideally if I were king for the day, I'd repeal the thing because, you know, it makes no sense whatsoever, but there's got to be a work-around. These guys have got to change -- this is no way to run a railroad.

BOLDUAN: Yes, for sure. And then as we heard from the speaker making it pretty clear that changes are coming to the massive spending bill, it's not going to be $3.5 trillion. That seems to be clear from what we hear from Speaker Pelosi here. If there's fewer dollars to spend, there are choices to be made. Her -- the way she talked about it was it's still going to be a couple trillion dollars. What do you think in this hypothetical world of we have no idea what that -- what's actually going to still be in it and what's cut because she wouldn't go there, what's the impact on the economy and recovery if it's not 3.5 trillion, it's 2?

ZANDI: Yes. Kate, I don't think this really matters for the current recovery because most of the spending and tax policy in this legislation really doesn't take effect until late 2022 and really not until mid-decade. You know, it would help the economy a bit towards the end of next year and I think the economy could use it but it's really about long-term economic growing. It's about doing things like infrastructure that help labor productivity or things that help bring people back into the workforce, like child care and health care and elder care, those kinds of things. So, it's about long-term economic growth and making sure that the benefits of the stronger economy that will (INAUDIBLE) American households.

So, I don't think this is really going to be make a big difference in terms of our recovery from the pandemic. That's already in train on its way and I think we'll be fine 12, 18 months down the road.

BOLDUAN: And I do want to ask you about the here and now, the new reporting on just the soaring energy prices. AAA is saying the national average for gas has hit a seven-year high, $3.28 a gallon. Also, oil prices near a seven-year high as well. You have -- COVID clearly remains the biggest threat to the economy, but how big of a threat are these soaring energy prices now on top of that and the ripple effects it can have?

ZANDI: Yes. No, obviously, it's a problem, and it all goes back to the pandemic. I mean, the pandemic has disrupted all markets, you know? You can see ut in the global supply chains. You can see it in the job market. Now, we're seeing it in the energy markets, $80 oil. Gasoline is $3.25 and rising. Natural gas prices are up. And, actually, Kate, these effects are even more serious overseas. So, you know, it's just the damage created by the pandemic and working through the pandemic.

I'm hopeful that, you know, as the pandemic winds down and I think it looks like that that's the case, that we'll work through these issues, the supply side of these markets will kick into gear, meet the demand and prices will begin to moderate. You know, it's not going to be next month, next quarter, but I think by this time next year, we'll be in a better place. But having said that, that's a long time, we've got a cold winter dead ahead, and it's going to be financially painful for people.

BOLDUAN: It's good to see you, Mark. Thanks for being here.

ZANDI: Sure. Thanks.

BOLDUAN: Breaking news just into CNN. We just learned that the Trump Organization is in advanced talks to sell the lease on its marquis hotel in Washington, D.C. If approved, the deal would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. CNN's Kara Scannell is joining me now from Washington with these breaking details. What are you learning about this, Kara?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Good morning, Kate. A source telling me that the Trump Organization is in advanced talks to sell the lease on that Washington, D.C. hotel for $370 million. Now, the people that they are in talks with are a Miami investment firm called CGI Merchant Group. One of their big investors is the baseball player, Alex Rodriguez.

But the talks between CGI and the Trump Organization are advanced, according to a source. And as part of these talks, CGI is talking to the Hilton, the hotel operator. They have done business with them in the past as part of those discussions, according to the source, that they might remove the hotel -- from the hotel's name the Trump Organization and replace it with one of the well-known Hilton luxury brands.

Now, The Wall Street Journal first reporting these details on this sale, but a source has confirmed it to us. Now, as you said, this deal, if reached, would require approval from the GSA, which owns the lease. That is a 60-day process. And a spokesperson for GSA told my colleague, Kristen Holmes, said they have not received any formal notification of a sale, so these talks are still under way.

Now, if a deal is reached, it would end a tumultuous chapter for the Trump Organization. They opened this hotel as Donald Trump was entering the offer of the presidency and it had been plagued by controversy throughout about questions of whether he was violating the Constitution by receiving gifts from foreign governments. As we learned last week from the House Oversight Committee, that the hotel has lost $70 million when he was in office and received $3.7 million from foreign governments. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Yes. Kara, thank you so much for your reporting, I really appreciate it, much more to come on that, very clearly.


Thank you all so much for being with us though At This Hour. I'm Kate Bolduan.