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At This Hour

Senate Dems Aim To Vote On Manchin-Schumer Deal This Week; Veterans, Activists Protest Republican Delay On Burn Pit Bill; Grain Ship Leaves Ukraine Under Deal Ensuring Safe Passage. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired August 01, 2022 - 11:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely. All right, let's see what happens. It's good to see you, Manu. Thank you so much.

Joining me right now for more on this is the chief economist for Moody's Analytics, Mark Zandi. Mark, it's good to have you on again. One thing that Joe Manchin has been focused on when he talks about this deal and why he says he's happy with this proposal is he says it's going to cut into inflation.

From your perspective, what -- and you've done a -- you know, a preliminary analysis of this as there's no real bill out there quite yet. What will this deal likely be due to inflation?

MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS: You don't nudge it lower. You know, it lower prescription drug costs, which is, you know, a key cost for a lot of seniors, it lowers the cost of health insurance for lower-income Americans.

And longer run because of the climate provisions it'll reduce the cost of energy for households that improve efficiency. So net net, it will push inflation lowered.

You know, it's not a game changer by any respect, Kate, you know, it certainly not in the near term, but the senator's right, it will reduce inflation over the 10-year budget horizon that they're focused on.

BOLDUAN: If it only modestly reduces inflation or nudges it lower, then I guess, it then becomes a question of, is it worth the cost? What do you think?

ZANDI: Yes, I do. I think it's very important. I mean, I think all of the thing -- provisions here are really critical to people -- to Americans but you know, the climate piece is particularly important.

So this is the first real effort by the federal government to address climate for us. And that's a big deal. That's a real significant threat. In fact, if you -- you know, you got to take it with a grain of salt when you look out you know long into the future --

BOLDUAN: Right. ZANDI: And that's what we need to do with climate risk. This will significantly reduce CO2 emissions, carbon emissions, which will ultimately result in significant economic benefits well down the road. But I think this is really important to long-term economic growth, yes.

BOLDUAN: The reason Democrats are trying to move forward and need to pass the parliamentarian first is because they anticipate they would not get any Republican support, of course. They want to do this with only Democratic votes.

Republican Senator Pat Toomey, he was on CNN yesterday, and he spoke, I think, for a lot of Republican lawmakers on the Hill who do not like this proposal. Let me play for you a little bit of what he said.


SEN. PAT TOOMEY, (R-PA): But it really looks to me like Joe Manchin has been taken to the cleaners.

Look, this bill, the corporate tax increase, is going to slow down growth and probably exacerbate a recession that we're probably already in. In a blatant political bailout, the Obamacare subsidies that they said would let they'd let expire this year are going to be continued for high-income Americans.

All of this adds up to doing nothing for our deficits, it's going to do nothing for climate change.


BOLDUAN: There is a lot there in what Pat Toomey says that he did not like, first and foremost.


BOLDUAN: I mean, he talked about doing nothing for climate change. You've spoken to that. Doing nothing for deficits, I'm curious, is your thought on that. And also about the corporate tax increases, he says it -- he says it could slow growth. What do you think?

ZANDI: Yes. On the margin, it will slow growth by itself. That provision will slow it. But you got to -- I think I'm a little confused by that because this is a minimum tax, 15 percent, so these are large corporations make over a billion in revenue a year.

They're not paying any or very little tax. And, you know, if you want to pay for climate risk, if you want to pay for health insurance and for prescription drugs, you need to raise revenue and this seems like the most logical way to do it.

But he's right on the margin, it will reduce growth. But all, if you take the package in its totality, and it's -- in its totality, I think it is a plus for the economy, and certainly plus for inflation, which is our number one economic problem. On the deficit, I'm a little -- I'm very confused by that because you

know the scoring here is you know pretty clear that this will actually significantly reduce budget deficits going forward. So I'm curious as to what he's thinking when he says that.

BOLDUAN: Well, it seems like we've got much many more questions to ask lawmakers before this moves forward. It's good to see you, Mark. I really appreciate it.

ZANDI: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, activists camping out on the steps of Capitol Hill, outrage over Republicans blocking legislation for veterans exposed to burn pits. This was legislation that had bipartisan support. We're going to go back live to Capitol Hill next.



BOLDUAN: At this hour, veterans are on the steps of the Capitol once again. They are not giving up, demanding action on a bill that could help millions of them. The bill provides benefits to vets who suffered toxic exposure to burn pits during military service.

Republicans blocked the bill last week because they say they're frustrated that they could not offer changes to the bill -- amendments to the bill like they wanted to. It is expected to come up for another vote this week.

Let's get over to Melanie Zanona -- CNN's Melanie Zanona for the latest on this. Melanie, this about-face, if we could call it that, caused a huge outcry last week because this bill had bipartisan support, what are Republicans so upset about?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: Right. I mean, that is a great point. It is important to keep in mind that this bill has passed both chambers multiple times, each time with bipartisan support, and no significant changes have been made to the bill.


But Republicans say they are upset because they want the spending in the bill to come out of discretionary spending instead of mandatory spending. So essentially, what that means is they want this health care funding for veterans to be voted on by Congress every year.

That was something that Republicans said is the reason why 25 of them unexpectedly changed their votes last week. Chuck Schumer is hoping to resolve that issue by offering them two amendment votes.

But some Democrats say the real reason Republicans didn't vote for this last week is because they're upset over an unrelated deal that Democrats made on a health care and climate change bill.

And meanwhile, the White House officials as well as comedian Jon Stewart had been railing against Senate Republicans for playing politics and saying they're costing these sick veterans precious time and that time is of the essence here.

But you know, despite all the drama, we are expecting the bill to pass at some point this week, with or without the changes that Republicans are seeking, Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, will see. Melanie, thank you very much for that. Joining me now from outside the Capitol is Matt Zeller. He's a senior advisor for the group, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

He also served as a combat advisor in Afghanistan. It's good to see you, Matt, thank you for being here. I mean, you've been on the Senate steps for days now. Do you think this is going to get done despite the setbacks? What does it mean if this falls apart?

MATT ZELLER, SENIOR ADVISOR, IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETERANS OF AMERICA: Simply put, we -- veterans are going to die. We already know of two veterans who have killed themselves since the last vote because of their despair over the fact that they don't think they're ever going to get the health care that they need to live.

When people get sick from these cancers, they're having to mortgage their homes just to be able to stay alive. You know, people think that this is covered by the VA, it's not. And this bill would fix that for over 3.5 million of us who are exposed to burn pits.

But, Kate, I got to tell you, just as we're going live, they've made this harder and harder. You've seen all the images of us being in front of the Capitol in our chairs. This morning, they came out and they told us we had to stand.

Well, we were standing peacefully and politely, we moved, within five minutes of being asked to, they just moved us again. We're now at a place where veterans cannot be seen by Senators when they come to vote. Someone did that on purpose.

But we're not going to leave. We're going to stay here until this gets done because we're doing this for the people who have died. We're doing this for the people who are dying. And we're going to do this most importantly for the people who will die if we don't do this now.

BOLDUAN: I want to play for you, Matt, Senator Pat Toomey. He was on CNN yesterday to explain his objection to the bill and the process if you will. Basically saying it is complicated and convoluted, saying that the way that the bill is structured, it could open up for a big misuse of government money later on not having to do exactly with the issue at hand, though. He also said this. Let me play this.


TOOMEY: This is the oldest trick in Washington. People take a sympathetic group of Americans and it could be children with an illness, it could be victims of crime, it could be veterans who have been exposed to toxic chemicals, craft a bill to address their problems, and then sneak in something completely unrelated, that they know could never pass on its own and dare Republicans to do anything about it because they know they'll unleash their allies in the media and maybe a pseudo-celebrity to make up false accusations to try to get us to just swallow what shouldn't be there.


BOLDUAN: Matt, what do you say to that?

ZELLER: You know I've had my own personal beef with Pat Toomey for about a decade. I'm only alive today because my African interpreter saved my life in a battle. That's mostly what I'm known for.

Janis served as Pat Toomey's personal translator when Pat Toomey went on a CODEL. And when I asked his office to help out, the man wouldn't lift a finger. He doesn't care about veterans, and I've known that for over a decade.

All right, listen, everything he just said to you is a bald-faced lie. What this man cares about is one thing. He doesn't want us to actually have our health care.

He wants to change it from what's called mandatory spending, which means the government has to actually spend it on us to something called discretionary spending, which means they can take it away from us at any given time in a given year.

Let me ask you something, if it was your health care for the folks watching at home, with that, how you would want to be able to receive it the idea that it might not be funded next year that you might not just get it, your cancer is not going away so why should your health care?

That man needs to get out of office. He is just an empty shoot and at this point, he's helping veterans die.

BOLDUAN: Well, I -- Pat Toomey himself says that he supports the underlying bill. He supports veterans' care. And the senators who also joined in the objection, say -- at least my assessment of most of them at least have said the same.

They want this fix if you will. I mean, when you know that you have been fighting for this and this fight has been going on now for so long, for years, what do you say to people who say, what's a few more days or weeks in delay to be -- to get this bill "right," to get that bipartisan support to show Pat Toomey -- so, then Pat Toomey and the other Republicans would then get on board if they would? What would you say to them?

ZELLER: We already had it. It passed 84 to 14. We're back here because of politics, as usual, the most disgusting aspect of Washington, right? We're back here because of two reasons. One, Pat Toomey spent the Republican lunch before the vote going around telling all his fellow senators that he was denied a vote on his amendment. He wasn't.

But there was a lot of senators who support the bill and they felt that if they didn't support him at that moment, that if they had amendments in the future, that the same tactic could be used against them. So they did it partisan political thing. They voted in mass and sent Schumer a message don't prevent people from being able to vote on amendments.

Well, guess what? He didn't want to vote on his amendment. He wanted it to be passed under something called unanimous consent, which literally means there isn't a vote. It's just thrown into the bill.

Meaning he would fundamentally change how all healthcare would be funded for all the veterans who would benefit from this. The guy doesn't care about veterans.

BOLDUAN: Matt, with all of this -- with all of this, and you know, unanimous consent and cloture votes and procedural, all the things that go on inside the --- inside the Senate, but you're standing outside with activist -- with activist trying to -- trying to get something done. Do you have faith in the process? Do you have faith this is going to get done?

ZELLER: Yes, absolutely. In the last year, I've been a part of two huge movements that have actually restored my faith in the American process and the American people. It was the Afghan evac when we all put aside our differences and came together to try to evacuate as many people as we could in the most arduous of circumstances, and it's this movement right now.

David Hogg from the March For Our Lives showed up on Friday night, didn't introduce himself just walked up and said, can I sit with you? My dad's a veteran. He's been here now for the last three days helping us and everything he can.

The reason why Jose Andres is feeding us is he got him to feed us. We've had people walking up to us from Somalia, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Spain, who know about this, and support what we're doing.

My faith in the people of this country and the people of this world is absolutely renewed. It's the people who work in the building behind me that, you know, who continue to fail at us. And until they get this vote passed, I have no faith in them to do the right thing.

BOLDUAN: Matt --

ZELLER: But we're not going to leave.

BOLDUAN: No. you have that -- you have proven that for days and days and days and days now, sitting, standing, and being moved around on Capitol Hill. Matt, thank you for coming on.

ZELLER: Thanks for having us.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us. After months of war, Ukraine finally seeing the first exports of grain leave its shores, a hopeful sign for so many nations in desperate need of food relief but the war with Russia shows no signs of letting up. Details ahead.


BOLDUAN: It is a moment to mark the months-long war in Ukraine. Finally, the first shipments of grain were able to leave Ukraine's shores, now, this first one is on its way to Lebanon. The move could help alleviate what has become a global food supply crisis, thanks only and created by Russia's continued assault on Ukraine. The UN- brokered this deal ensuring safe passage through the Black Sea.

Meanwhile, Russia is unrelenting and its assault still on Ukraine hitting southern Ukraine with intense shelling. CNN's Nic Robertson is standing by there, live. Nic, what are you seeing there?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMAT EDITOR: Yes, you know, we're out in the field right now by a little village and I can hear the air raid siren going off in the village right now. And this is the life for people here in the -- in the south of the country at the moment and in the East further north.

In the south, in the town of Mykolaiv over the weekend, Russia gave its heaviest bombardment of the war overnight, Saturday into Sunday, 36 heavy impacts, and some of those impacts were big enough to just slice their way through a three or four-story building.

A Russian very successful -- rather a Ukrainian very successful businessman in the town of Mykolaiv, he was killed when he was in the basement of his mansion, the missile slammed into his house. They were -- they were both killed there. And that's the picture in the south of the country at the moment.

At the same time, about two hours' drive away in Odessa, that's where the MV Razoni with two thousand -- with 26,000 metric tons of corn on board left Odessa port early this morning. It's on its way for the Bosphorus.

When it gets there, U.N., Turkish, as well as Russia, and Ukrainian inspectors will get on-boarded and inspect it. And this could really be the beginning to get the grain shipments flowing from Ukraine, unblocked and unleash billions of dollars worth of grain and get it to those -- to those parts of the world that need it. U.S. ambassador here in Ukraine has said that this is -- it's a great relief for the world and in particular for those countries in the Middle East.

And the first place, this first shipment is going, it's going to Lebanon.

BOLDUAN: Yes, a bright moment in what is obviously a continued nightmare in Ukraine. It's good to see you, Nic. Thank you very much. We'll be right back.



BOLDUAN: Before we go, with the many stresses of modern-day life, pets, we know very well can provide a huge comfort to their owners, but they can also offer a range of other health benefits. Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains in today's "CHASING LIFE."


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta, host of CNN's "CHASING LIFE" podcast. Pandemic puppy, quarantine kitty, many people became new pet owners over the past few years. And overall, that's a good thing because pets can benefit us both physically and mentally.

Oxytocin, that's the hormone that makes you feel warm and fuzzy when you see your kids. Well, that's also released when you bond with your pets. And it works both ways, our pets' oxytocin levels also increase when they're with us.

You might notice that you feel calmer around your pets and that's because dopamine and serotonin, two other feel-good chemicals are also released when we're with our pets that can reduce stress and lower blood pressure.


Plus, if you're a dog owner, that's probably going to encourage you to get outside and take more walks or runs. I know that's one of my favorite things to do with our three dogs. So make sure you're spending some quality time with your pets because remember, they are benefiting from this bond as well.

You can hear more about how to optimize your health and chase life wherever you get your podcasts.


BOLDUAN: Sanjay, thank you so much. Thanks so much for being here. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.