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At This Hour

String Of Legislative Wins Gives Biden New Hope For Midterms; NYT Columnist Urges Biden To Give Up Re-Election Dreams; Soon: President Biden Tours Flood Damage In Kentucky. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired August 08, 2022 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone. AT THIS HOUR, Senate Democrats delivering a big win for President Biden. Will it change how voters are feeling about him these days? The President tours flood ravaged Kentucky today in his first trip in weeks. And the mayor of Albuquerque believes that the Muslim men killed in his city were targeted. The hunt for the killer is now on. That is what we're watching AT THIS HOUR.

Thank you all so much for being here. I'm Kate Bolduan. President Biden and Democrats in Congress are on the cusp of a major moment, a legislative victory that has the potential to redefine the President's legacy and boost his sagging approval ratings less than 100 days out from the midterm elections. The Senate passed what they have called the Inflation Reduction Act without a single Republican vote. The landmark bill now heads to the House. They are set to vote it on Friday.

The bill includes nearly $370 billion to combat the climate crisis, the largest such investment in U.S. history. It also includes significant tax and health policies in there such as giving Medicare the power for the first time to negotiate the prices of certain prescription drugs. Let's get to it. Let's begin with CNN's Jessica Dean. She's live on Capitol Hill with more on this landmark deal. Jessica, there is a lot in this thing.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There is a lot in this bill. And Kate, I think it's important to focus on where it's going, what comes next for it. And we were here all weekend for that marathon session, it now is out of the Senate, it does head to the House on Friday. So that's what we're looking ahead to. And what is key to know is that some House Democrats that had been very vocal about if there weren't certain state and local tax provisions included that they wouldn't vote for it have now said that they do intend to vote for this.

So that is a very good indicator as this bill heads into the House, and then likely on to President Biden's desk. To the bill itself, what exactly is in it? You can kind of separate it out into three buckets, the first being those climate provisions. And this is a huge investment, as you mentioned, the biggest ever climate investment coming out of the U.S. Senate $369 billion for that hoping to curb carbon emissions by 40 percent by the year 2030, a number of tax incentives and credits in there to kind of boost renewable energy.

We also have health care provisions that extends the Affordable Care Act subsidies by three years, as you mentioned, allowing Medicare to be able to negotiate the price of some prescription drugs, it's also going to cap out of pocket for Medicare people at $2,000. And then those taxes 15 percent corporate minimum tax for the largest corporations, Kate. But, again, Republicans saying this is going to do nothing to decrease inflation very much against this. But the fact is, Kate, this is headed to the house and very, very, very, very likely headed to President Biden's desk.

BOLDUAN: Jessica, thank you so much for that.

The passage of as, Jessica, was just laying out very well of what they're calling the Inflation Reduction Act, it adds to really a sudden reversal of fortune for President Biden, who can now celebrate several legacy defining victories in his first two years in office. With this win, will these wins, though, be enough to help Democrats avoid what has been feared in the coming -- coming up in the midterms now three months away. Let's get over to CNN's John Harwood. He's been looking at this. He's live at the White House for us AT THIS HOUR. John, what do you see in this?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, first of all, it's important to stop and recognize the breadth of accomplishments that Democrats and President Biden have achieved. You know, one of the dangers for all of us who talk about politics for a living is that we write the review before the play is finished. And so there had been a story that had taken root that the Democrats were ineffective and President Biden wasn't getting anything done.

Now, he's got both bipartisan achievements, on guns, on infrastructure, on semiconductor investment, on veterans' health care, and also big partisan breakthroughs, the American rescue plan, of course last year, and now this largest ever investment by the U.S. government, in fighting climate change. Those are big substantive achievements. Those are things that Democrats are in politics to do and they are now doing them and some of them with Republican cooperation.


Now will it help them in the midterms, sure it will help them, it will convey an aura of success around Democrats in the White House. It will -- has the potential for expanding the enthusiasm of young people on climate and older people on those Medicare provisions. But will it be enough to avoid losing control of Congress? That's a different story.

The historical ties are very powerful here. Republicans only need a handful of seats to gain the House. And the historical pattern is that many more are usually gained by the party that is not in power in the White House. Senate's a more competitive situation, the President has a solid chance of holding control the Senate especially because of some of those shaky Republican candidates that would be in and of itself and achievement for his last two years, it would let him get judges through getting nominees confirmed.

So certainly the White House is feeling more confident, as are Democrats. Now that they've gotten these things done and are on the cusp of getting this Inflation Reduction Act done, even though it's not going to reduce inflation all that much, it's going to do other things.

BOLDUAN: It's good to see you, John, thank you so much. Joining me now for more on this is CNN anchor Chris Wallace, host of Who's Talking to Chris Wallace. It's good to see you, Chris. So as Jessica and John really just perfectly laid out there is a lot in this deal that was struck and how that got through the Senate over the weekend. There's the policy impact and the impact on Americans lives, which there could be -- it will be short term and a lot of longer term impact, you could argue and yet to be seen. What aspect of this do you think could have the greatest political impact?

CHRIS WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I think it's -- good morning to you, Kate, I think it's wise to make that separation between policy impact and political impact, policy impact, particularly in the long term, I think it'll be considerable $370 billion for climate change. And as been pointed out, there's at least a projection of 40 percent cut in pollutants from 2005 levels by 2030, the President had been promising a 50 percent cut, this gets on the long part of the way there.

Medicare, you know, I think this is the one that most people are talking about, because it's going to most directly affect their lives, but not as quickly as they think that giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices, that doesn't even kick in until 2026. And it's only for 10 of the most popular drugs. And then by 2029, 20 of the most popular drugs, and then the cap of $2,000, that doesn't kick in until 2025.

The point being, that if you're somebody and it's how you experience this legislation, whether it makes a difference in your life, you're not going to really see it when you go to vote in November of 2022.

BOLDUAN: That's not to say that Washington shouldn't do big things. But when it comes to politics, it's always about just the next election, as we've always seen, Chris. I mean, in referencing how consequential the first two years of Biden's presidency has become recently, I have heard more than a few comparisons between what Biden has been able to get done here and LBJ. What do you think of that comparison?

WALLACE: Well, you know, I looked up today to see what the majorities were that Lyndon Johnson had in 1965, after he won his landslide election over Barry Goldwater. And of course, it was a year after the assassination of John Kennedy, the 20 -- the 1965 Senate was 68 Democrats to 30, wait a second, let me get my, yes, 32, 68 Democrats to 32 Republicans.

He get a two-thirds majority. In the House, it was 295 Democrats to 140 Republicans, a two-thirds majority. This President has had a three or four vote majority in the House and really an even Senate with the vote of, as you saw yesterday, Vice President Harris putting him over the top on a reconciliation bill.

So you could argue, although the legislation wasn't as nearly as significant as what Johnson did, but to pull this off in a 50-50 Senate majority in the House is pretty darn impressive. You know, whether that translates into higher approval ratings for Joe Biden, I think that's questionable. You know, I think there are a lot of issues that people have with Joe Biden, not least of which is his age. You know, I think a lot of people think, thank you, you've done a great job.

Maureen Dowd had a fascinating column in "The New York Times" yesterday, where she basically said, there's two ways that Joe Biden could read the accomplishments over the last month or so. One is to say, well, hey, I'm on a roll. I'm going to run for reelection in 2024. The other is to say, this cements my legacy as a consequential president who also removed Donald Trump. Maybe it's time after the midterms to say I'm out. Pick the next generation of Democratic leader.

BOLDUAN: I was going to ask you about that because I did think that on all of this talk about whether Biden is running again and what -- and look poll numbers right now are not poll numbers necessarily in a couple of weeks but the midterm election will be consequential, probably in making that decision.

Let me read for everybody who hasn't had a chance to see it, what Maureen Dowd wrote in part in her column, she wrote, his inner circle, irritated by stories about concerns over his age and unpopularity, will say this winning streak gives Biden the impetus to run again. The opposite is true. It should give him the confidence to leave, secure in the knowledge that he has made his mark. I just thought that was fascinating how she put it.


WALLACE: Yes, I did, too. But remember, in the CNN poll of polls, I think it's 75 percent of Democrats say they would like to see another Democratic nominee for president in 2024. You know, and we've seen this in businesses that, you know, thank you very much for your service. Here's the gold watch. Enjoy your retirement.

Look, obviously, the success after a lot of stalemate, the success of the last month or so by Joe Biden is impressive, and it'll change the narrative and we'll talk about everything he's accomplished whether or not a large percentage of that 75 percent, three quarters of Democrats are going to say, you know what, I really am excited by the idea of a guy who won next Inauguration Day would be 82 running for election again. I'm not so sure about that.

BOLDUAN: Well, good news for me is I have three months at least plus to be talking to you about this ahead of the midterm elections. It's good to see you Chris.

WALLACE: Good to see you, Kate. BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Coming up for us later this hour, I'm going to speak with the top White House climate official Ali Zaidi about this bill, its impact specifically on the climate crisis. We'll be bringing that to you later this hour. Also ahead, President Biden and the First Lady are in Kentucky to tour of the catastrophic flooding damage there. We're going to take you to Eastern Kentucky live next.



BOLDUAN: Happening right now, President Biden and the First Lady are in flood ravaged Kentucky where they will be meeting with victims and getting a firsthand look at the catastrophic damage from what has become the worst flooding in the state's history. Dozens of people were killed in the floods. Two people are still missing. CNN's Joe Johns is live in Perry County, Kentucky joins us now. Joe, what are the President and First Lady going to be doing while they're there?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Kate, they just landed at Lexington, Kentucky. And now they're flying over to the flood zone proper. I drove through there last night. And I can tell you it is a scene of devastation along one of the state roads. You can see a debris field that runs frankly for miles, a lot of evidence of people losing their homes, some lost their lives in that area. The president is expected to meet with the Democratic governor of Kentucky Andy Beshear. He's also expected to meet with family members of those affected, in fact, some people who have been affected themselves.

And he's also expected to go to an elementary school that has been converted into a FEMA emergency recovery center, so all of that expected to happen over the next two or three hours. Of course, this state has seen dramatic improvements since 11 days ago. And you can see the evidence of the utility trucks going up and down the roads as they tried to restore power, telephone service, there are also concerns about water, there's concerns about gas.

Nonetheless, the important thing to remember is three dozen people, more than three dozen people now lost their lives in this terrible flooding. And there is a possibility that more people can be found as they go back into the hollows looking for those they haven't been able to reach. Kate, back to you.

BOLDUAN: Joe, thank you so much.

And joining me right now is Kentucky's Lieutenant Governor, Jacqueline Coleman, thank you so much for being here Lieutenant Governor. What do you want President Biden and the First Lady to see while they're there today?

LT. GOV. JACQUELINE COLEMAN (D-KY): Well, first and foremost, Kate, thank you so much for having me and for keeping the spotlight on Eastern Kentucky in the time when folks need it the most. But the President and First Lady are visiting Eastern Kentucky today. And I hope they see a couple things. One, I hope they see the devastation and the challenge that Eastern Kentucky ends are going to have as they try to rebuild their lives and their homes and overcome such a terrible natural disaster.

But also I hope they see the same hope and seeing Kentucky spirit that we see every day with neighbors helping neighbors, people who have lost everything, stepping up to help a neighbor who may be in need as well. It's one of the most heartwarming acts of humanity that we've had the privilege to be a part of. And I hope that they feel that while they're here today.

BOLDUAN: When you were on the show with me last week, you said that when it comes to how widespread this damage is to everyday life in Eastern Kentucky that words just don't do it justice. Are people beginning to grasp the scope of what recovering is going to require?

COLEMAN: So since we last talked, the search and rescue missions have completely slowed down. We know that we have 37 confirmed lost, lost lives. We have two people that we still have confirmed missing at this point. And so we have started to transition into how we are possibly going to be able to rebuild and sustain the certain aspects of life that maybe the rest of us take for granted like school. School was supposed to start in a couple of weeks for these communities. Entire grocery stores that were the only grocery store in the county have been washed out.


And so along with there are 50 bridges in one county, that have been washed out and 60 in another. And so between that and the water systems, the infrastructure needs are monumental. And so those basic needs and uses that we have every day that we probably don't think twice about are things that Eastern Kentuckians are now having to figure out how to live without in the moment, but how to rebuild in the long term. And so those are just a few ways that we're continuing to see folks come together and work on solutions and to help each other get through this.

BOLDUAN: Fifty bridges in just one place. I mean that in and of itself is quite an encapsulation of just how long it is going to take to get back to, I guess what could be considered normal life for people in eastern Kentucky. I mean, what -- it's not weeks, I mean, months and years. I mean, what is -- what are you looking at here?

COLEMAN: Right. And unfortunately, the governor, Governor Beshear and I have experience with this in the western part of the state with the tornadoes that we had last December. We said then that this is going to take months, possibly years to rebuild. And we would be there with the folks in Western Kentucky every step of the way. And the same is true here in eastern Kentucky. This is going to be a long term rebuild, and Governor Beshear with the compassion he has shown and the empathy that he demonstrates every day, I know we'll stand -- continue to stand with Eastern Kentuckians as they rebuild their lives and their communities for the years to come as well.

BOLDUAN: You mentioned the tornadoes just late last year that devastated another part of the state. If this, if you add it together, if this is the kind of weather, if this kind of weather is your new normal, what does that mean for the state? What are you going to have to start doing differently?

COLEMAN: First of all, I hope this is not a new normal for sure. Between the tornadoes and the pandemic and the flooding that we've had. We've had our fair share of tragedy here in Kentucky. But I will say this, in terms of the rain that was experienced here. It was -- it happens so fast. And it happened overnight. And that is the reason that so many folks were trapped in their homes or had to be rescued by boat or by air, not to mention that the terrain in eastern Kentucky with the mountains making it so difficult to access homes and driveways on a normal day became exacerbated through all of all of these challenges.

And so, right now our focus is being here for people that need us and continuing to help rebuild, which again is a long term plan. And every step of the way, we're going to continue to learn from lessons from the past and make sure that we continue to improve in every area that we can.

BOLDUAN: Lieutenant Governor, thank you so much for jumping on with me. I really appreciate it.

COLEMAN: Thank you, Kate. And I just want to remind all the viewers about the Eastern Kentucky flood relief fund that is every dollar is going to go to directly to folks on the ground and it's the best way that people that feel called to help -- can help. And so I would just want to remind everybody, that's And thank you so much for having me.

BOLDUAN: Lieutenant Governor, thank you for that.


Coming up for us, the Muslim community in Albuquerque, New Mexico is on edge, people too afraid to leave their homes right now after the killings of four Muslim men. Why police believe it could be linked next.


BOLDUAN: Developing right now, Travis McMichael, one of the three men convicted of killing Ahmaud Arbery, he was just sentenced to life in prison on federal hate crimes charges. The two other men convicted in Ahmaud Arbery's murder, will be sentenced also later today. Let's get over to CNN's Ryan Young. He's live at the courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia. This is all just happening now, Ryan. What's happening there?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I can tell you if you look right behind me, you can see Ahmaud's father still standing over there just walking after leaving this federal courthouse here. A lot of emotions still at play here, as you can imagine, this was the first time they really got to read a victim statement and in turn to Travis McMichael and have a conversation with them. Both Wanda Cooper Jones, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery and the father Marcus Arbery turned and had conversation with them while they're doing their victim impact statement.


Now it's federal court so we can't show you that video. But it was some very pointed words that were pointed right directly at him. They thought he may say sorry, he did not say sorry.