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Inflation Falls in February; Biden Reassures Americans about Banks; Blame Game Begins in Banking Collapse; DeSantis Narrows Gap with Trump; Major Nor'Easter Hits Northeast. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired March 14, 2023 - 09:00   ET




ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Good Tuesday morning. I'm Erica Hill.


Some major news just in on your money. New key inflation data finds that Americans overall are paying less for items. Still, however, some sticker shock out there. Will the Fed now pause its ongoing rate hikes?

We're also closely watching bank crisis fears following the sudden collapse of two regional banks. Markets open soon. We're going to look at where things stand today.

HILL: Plus, loyalty loss. Former President Trump taking his first stage in Iowa since announcing his third bid for the White House, sharpening his 2024 attacks. Why he says he regrets ever endorsing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

SCIUTTO: And state of emergency in parts of New England this morning. A dangerous nor'easter slamming the region with heavy snow, coastal flooding, powerful winds possible. Boy, looks dangerous.

HILL: Yes, that is one big storm.


HILL: We will get to that.

We do want to begin, though, with your money at the top of the hour here. Banking concerns across the nation. We have Priscilla Alvarez at the White House, Lauren Fox on Capitol Hill, and here with us in the studio, chief business correspondent Christine Romans.

So, Christine, there is new inflation data out this morning, basically in line with expectations.


HILL: For once, that's a good thing. ROMANS: Yes, I'm -- look, 6 percent inflation is hot, it's

uncomfortable, but it is eight months in a row of slightly less than the month before. So, you're paying more for just about everything, but those price increases are cooling, and I think that's important here.

When you look at the trend is your friend, Jim, as I always say, you can see that line chart very clearly showing peaking on the inflation front. This is, I think, good news for the Fed because last month it was a little hotter than we expected month to month and this time it's just exactly in line, which I think gives the Fed a little bit of room, in light of this banking instability, to be able to maybe have a lighter Fed rate increase next time around. The Fed next meets, of course, March 22nd.

Let me look inside these numbers for you to show you, food prices up 9.5 percent year over year. Anybody who's going to the grocery store, I mean this is kitchen table economics, you know that this is still tough. Gasoline prices down a little bit, but shelter up. And the government noting, and I think this is important, noting that 70 percent of the overall price increase in that CPI number is because of lodging, is because of shelter. So, we still have a shelter inflation problem, you guys.

SCIUTTO: Christine, I do want to ask you, given the wild swings in the market yesterday but also the extraordinary steps that the Fed, Treasury and others have taken to try to contain banking fears, from speaking to folks in the markets, others you speak to, is the sense that they now have this under control or still a lot of fear out there?

ROMANS: I'm getting the sense that it was successful. This rescue mission was successful. It ringed off these two banks, three banks actually failed in the last week. And now the concerns you're seeing in some of these other regional banks, big stock losses there. They're stabilizing a little bit this morning. And we're told from a senior Treasury official that the deposit outflows from those banks are starting to slow. That is a good sign. So, you're starting to see signs of stability here overall.

A couple of things can be true at the same time. You can have the strongest banking system since 2008 and you can still have more bankruptcies. That's what a lot of the experts in the -- banking experts are telling me because we've had interest rates rise so far so fast, there will be some points of weakness in the system.

HILL: So if we look at how all of this is playing out now this morning, Priscilla, these moves, as we have learned, taken by the Biden administration because they really wanted to stop any further loss. The president saying very clearly, you don't have to worry, yesterday. Is that message being heard?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, simply by what Christine said, and seeing less of those outflows, it appears to be making or having some effect. But when it comes to inflation, the goal for the administration here is to lower those out-of-pocket costs. And the White House is now highlighting efforts to do that across a few categories, including health care, broadband access and heating bills. So, break that down, that looks like rebates for drug price hikes. It also includes $4.5 billion to lower heating bills, as well as monthly credits for internet, $30 for some eligible households, $75 for those on tribal lands.

Now, of course, all of this comes amid concerns of a recession and against the backdrop of the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. And you saw President Biden coming out yesterday and trying to quell some of those concerns, saying that the banking system was safe and trying to assure Americans of that.


A White House official told me this morning that they are continuing to monitor the situation and their focus is to protect small businesses and hold those responsible accountable. Similar to what we heard from President Biden yesterday. But all of this to try to project confidence in the economy and underscore stability.


SCIUTTO: Lauren Fox, on Capitol Hill, you did see yesterday, and this is the nature of Washington today, some extraneous conversation about these bank failures. James Comer talking about how woke Silicon Valley Bank was, maybe that was to blame. But I wonder, are you hearing among Democrats and Republicans substantive talks about possible legal, legislative changes going forward to prevent this kind of thing from happening?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim, I mean it's still early, right? Lawmakers are still not back in Washington after the weekend. They are expected to return later this evening. We're probably going to get some more answers.

But last night Republicans did hold a call with their leadership to discuss the path forward and really the messaging path forward of how they want to discuss these issues. I got the sense from talking to members that there isn't a lot of appetite on the Republican side to look at a legislative fix, perhaps to go back to some of those rollbacks to Dodd-Frank that happened in 2018 and perhaps make some changes around the edges. Does that start to develop over the next couple of days and weeks if this starts to intensify? I think that that's possible. But right now Republicans really making it clear they're going to sit on the sidelines when it comes to legislative fixes.

Meanwhile, they're more than happy to blame the Biden administration for increasing interest rates really quickly, arguing that that plus excessive spending and inflation concerns caused a situation where Silicon Valley Bank was just really vulnerable and, therefore, failed. So that's what you're hearing from Republicans.

Meanwhile, you have people like Elizabeth Warren, who has been on the outsized voice on this issue for a long time, arguing that there are changes that need to be made legislatively. She also sent a letter to the former president of SVB arguing that she has some questions for him that she wants answered by the end of the month. So, really, two very different approaches in how lawmakers are dealing with this.

HILL: And we'll see how that shakes out.

Lauren Fox, Priscilla Alvarez, Christine Romans, thank you all.

SCIUTTO: All right, a health update this morning. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is now out of the hospital in a rehabilitation facility after suffering not just a concussion but also a rib fracture.

HILL: McConnell was injured when he fell at a D.C. hotel nearly a week ago. We're told he could stay in rehab for a couple of weeks where he's undergoing some full therapy. The 81-year-old is, of course, the top Republican in the Senate, and one of those prominent leaders on Capitol Hill. We'll keep you posted on any other updates.

Former President Donald Trump wasting no time taking aim at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and, of course, for -- not the first time he's taken aim at him. But this was on his first trip to Iowa since declaring his third bid for the White House. Trump doing his best to paint DeSantis as an establishment candidate despite the fact that DeSantis has yet to formally announce he's running in 2024.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: But you have to remember, Ron was a disciple of Paul Ryan, who is a rhino loser who currently is destroying Fox.

And to be honest with you, Ron reminds me a lot of Mitt Romney.


SCIUTTO: See the battlelines being formed on the Republican side.

Republican voters in Iowa lined up to hear the former president speak. Some told CNN they did like DeSantis, but want to give Trump one more chance.


DENISE VASQUEZ, IOWA TRUMP SUPPORTER: True Trump voters are going to stay with Trump. He's already proven himself. So, we know what he's capable of doing. And Ron DeSantis, he's an awesome governor. I love him as the governor. I just think it's not his time.

GLORIA CHMIELEWSKI, IOWA TRUMP SUPPORTER: I think Mr. DeSantis should wait his turn. And he's a good -- good governor. You know, he's done great -- and I think he'd make a great president as well, but he's got to wait his turn and let President Trump do this again.


SCIUTTO: We're joined now by CNN political commentator S.E. Cupp. S.E., good to have you on this morning.


SCIUTTO: So, some interesting numbers in new CNN polling this morning. It shows virtually a dead heat among Republican voters between Trump and DeSantis. Forty percent say Trump is their first choice, 36 percent say Ron DeSantis is their first choice. And you see a big drop off to Nikki Haley, Pence and others there.

I mean is this, in effect, a two-person race for the 2024 nomination, or do you see a path for a moderate Republican candidate, or another Republican candidate, to emerge here if Trump and DeSantis, I mean, to some degree, cancel each other out?

CUPP: I don't really see a path for a moderate Republican candidate. And I think, as of right now, it is a two-man race. And Trump recognizes that. I mean you can tell from his speech in Iowa and other speeches and rallies and comments to reporters, you can tell who he's most threatened by, it's who he talks about the most, Ron DeSantis.


As Erica mentioned, who hasn't even announced yet. We'll have to see if it's a strategy that pays off in terms of trying to neuter Ron DeSantis early, or maybe it has the opposite effect, Jim, and it elevates Ron DeSantis to have, you know, the last president of the United States from the Republican Party spending all this time on someone who hasn't announced yet, giving Ron DeSantis free media on Donald Trump's own campaign trail.

HILL: I mean it is -- you're right, it's very clear who is in Donald Trump's head right now, and that is Ron DeSantis.

CUPP: Yes.

HILL: Was it -- Nikki Haley definitely isn't. Maybe there was a little bit of Mike Pence.

But as we look at where things stand and we look at Iowa, I was so interested to hear from those voters who we, you know, we just played a little bit of that sound saying, hey, listen, Ron DeSantis is great but we need him to wait. This is Trump's turn.

Yesterday we heard from people in Iowa who were saying, we love Ron DeSantis because he's basically Donald Trump without the baggage. It's interesting that you're getting those two messages, S.E.

CUPP: Yes. And, look, Ron DeSantis is young. So, if you're a Trump supporter, you have every reason to say Ron is great, and he'll have time for this. But these Trump voters in particular are still clinging to the, quote/unquote, good old days of the Trump administration. That one voter saying, we already know what he's capable of. Indeed, we do.

SCIUTTO: Yes. CUPP: That means different things to different people. But, you know, look, Trump is still very popular among Republicans in Iowa. He's a little less popular than he's been in years past, according to the most recent "Des Moines Register" polling. Republicans in Iowa who definitely will vote for Donald Trump, that number has gone down 20 points since 2021. So, he's got some convincing to do.

But, listen, if you're a Trump supporter, you're going to be a Trump supporter no matter what. No matter what Ron DeSantis does or doesn't do. So, that's somewhat baked in.

SCIUTTO: Playing devil's advocate for a moment. If you apply the, it's very early in the race test, and look to history, early front runners in previous cycles, the Jeb Bushs of the world, the Rudy Giulianis, or early folks who were out of it, like John McCain in 2008, then became the Republican nominee, is it possible we see that again here? I mean are we placing too much stock in these two early frontrunners?

CUPP: You know, anything is possible, Jim. But, listen, it's a matter of math. And then when you look at how condensed the Republican Party is, you know, Trump only needs to own about 25 to 35 percent of the Republican Party. That's a sizable enough voting block to wholly own and fend off one, two, three, four, five, maybe more competitors. So it's a low bar for Trump to win -- I think to win the Republican nomination. It's a much higher bar to win the general. But it certainly benefits him the more people get in. He knows that and everyone else knows that.


HILL: You know, real quickly, I was - I was fascinated in some of this polling, too. They were asking about who you'd be most satisfied with as a nominee. You've got DeSantis and Trump tied. What's interesting is the question about who would be - who would you most be dissatisfied with? Mike Pence coming in with 49 percent that people would be most dissatisfied if he were the nominee. Another 20 points below that is Donald Trump.

CUPP: Yes.

HILL: He seems to be making an effort, Mike Pence, to maybe shift his talking points a little bit. He's going after Pete Buttigieg. He was now saying, you know, again, Trump will be held accountable, although, again, we need to remember, he's refusing to sit, he wouldn't go to the committee. We've got the subpoena issue when it comes to January 6th. Is any of this shift for Mike Pence enough to move that needle?

CUPP: No. And -- no. I mean, I've been saying this for years, in fact, since -- since 2020, there is no natural pathway for Mike Pence because he has no natural constituents. Obviously, we know how Trump voters feel about Mike Pence. They told us on January 6th. Many of them said they wanted to hang him. They believe that he was a traitor.

And on the other side of the Republican aisle, you know, my wing of the party that wants good conservatism to return, we feel like Mike Pence betrayed good conservatism and good policy by carrying Trump's water and abandoning conservative policies. So, there's no one left for Mike Pence. It doesn't matter what he says at the Gridiron Dinner. It doesn't matter what he says on the campaign trail. Every Republican has an opinion about Mike Pence, none of which are good.

SCIUTTO: Goodness.

S.E. Cupp, always good to hear from you. Thanks so much.

CUPP: Thanks.

SCIUTTO: Coming up next, we are live in Massachusetts as a nor'easter, as they're known, is just getting started.


Wow, that's a lot of snow already.

HILL: Yes.

SCIUTTO: More than 150,000 people without power in the region as some places are expecting, in the end, more than two feet of snow. I thought it was spring almost.

Plus, President Biden expected to sign an executive order on guns today as he visits the site of the mass shooting in Monterey Park, California. But can Congress make any change?

HILL: And still to come, CNN on the northern side of the U.S. border, where the flow of migrants into Canada has more than doubled in the past year. We'll take a closer look at what's causing that spike.


SCIUTTO: This just into CNN. The FAA says a Delta flight slid off the taxiway at Syracuse International Airport this morning. Thankfully, no one was injured. Syracuse is in the path, we should note, of a massive nor'easter storm. More than 200,000 people without power in the region already.

Four states of emergency declared in New York and parts of New Jersey.


As heavy snow threatens those states and other parts of New England, some areas could see as much as 30 inches of snow.

HILL: That is a whole lot of white stuff.

CNN's Derek Van Dam is in Worcester, Mass., Chad Myers at the CNN Weather Center.

So, Derek, first to you.

We have really watched this storm change with you with every live shot this morning, going from the rain, to now pretty heavy snow that we're seeing there. And it's going to last for a little while. DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, these snowflakes are massive

and they're piling up very quickly. That's a great note because it started out as rain, a very cold, wet, miserable rain this morning. But now that it's transitioned over, we're getting about two to three inches an hour and it's picking up in intensity. You can literally squeeze the rain drops out of this.

I just want to give you a perspective of where we've been at all morning. The crews here at the salt barn for Worcester County are working overtime filling up the salt trucks as well as the roadway clearing machines that just -- doing their best efforts to try and keep up with these impressive snowfall rates. But as heavy as this snow is, we're going to start seeing the winds pick up. And, remember, some of the trees starting to bud here. So we're going to get that snow load that is going to make the potential for that combination of wind and snow to bring down tree limbs. Power outages are going to spike. You already mentioned over 200,000 customers without power.

I want you to get to the radar really quickly because I want to show you just how hair pin precision the forecast for this is. Right along the coastline, near Boston, this is rain. They've got that warm nose, the influence from the ocean waters. But just inland, where I'm located, Worcester, Berkshires, the Catskills, this is ground zero for the heaviest snow. One to two feet anticipated as this nor'easter takes grip.

And we are seeing the impacts on the roadways. The Massachusetts Turnpike, for instance, being snow covered the further inland you travel. Seeing the impacts at the airports as well with LaGuardia currently having a ground stop as they deice planes and deice the runways. So, this storm really starting to crank up along the east coast.

Back to you.

SCIUTTO: Goodness, lots more to come.

Chad, lots of state in the path of the storm. Looking at my watch, I think - I think we're a week from springtime. Certainly doesn't feel like that. So, how long is this going to last up there?

HILL: It's New England.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Weren't you listening to Punxsutawney Phil? Punxsutawney said six more weeks, right? So we're still in the middle of that.

Yes, just a quick note about the Delta plane in Syracuse. It was taxying to takeoff, not that you were wrong, I'm just letting people know, it wasn't slowing down from landing. So, it was just at that taxi on the way to takeoff, and that's usually 10 or 15 miles per hour. And then the nose gear just kind of came off, moved over into the grass.

Otherwise, here's the snow now. And Derek had it right on. I mean the line from snow to rain is now just set up in those Boston suburbs. And it is heavy rain. It is heavy snow. It is five to one snow, which means normally 7, 10, 10 inches of snow to an inch. Now we're only seeing five inches of snow to an inch of water, which means this is going to be heavy stuff to shovel. This is going to be back-breaking work to move what could be setting up to be a foot or a foot and a half of snow in some of these areas.

When you get that kind of weight, you can get that weight on branches, on limbs, on your home. So, things can be coming down later on today with this weight of this snow. We're already seeing more than 100,000 people without power, and that number will likely grow because the wind is going to pick up as well.

Winds are going to be in the ballpark of 50 to 60 miles per hour on top of some of this foot, foot and a half snowfall. So, here's the wind now even into New York, Pennsylvania, moving on up toward New England, even toward Maine. And some of this, again, this afternoon and this evening, gusting to 50 or 60. And that's why we're seeing so many potential outages here across with impacts significant across New England for today.

Now, a lot of people along the coast saying, hey, it's just raining, but, wait, because after sunset this is all going to get colder and this line between rain and snow is going to start to creep toward Boston. And I think you should get your shovels, especially the western suburbs of Boston, even though it's raining now, it won't be all night.


HILL: That raises other concerns, too, about black ice, right, Chad? A lot to come there. Appreciate it. Thank you.

MYERS: You bet.

SCIUTTO: All right, still ahead, President Biden preparing to take new action today on gun violence. Our next guest has been doing the math, some real good research on just how many guns are actually on the street and what the numbers show could make a difference in legislation. Stay with us. It's an interesting conversation.



SCIUTTO: Well, today, President Biden is announcing a new executive order in his latest move to try to tackle gun violence in this country. He is directing Attorney General Merrick Garland to insure existing laws on background checks are actually followed. The move comes as legislative efforts have all but stalled with a Republican- controlled House and a nearly deadlocked Senate.

HILL: So, in just a few hours, the president set to meet with the families and victims of a mass shooting in Monterey Park, California. In January a gunman killed 11 people at a dance studio there. The deadliest mass shooting so far this year. Sadly, if the numbers tell us anything, it's that it won't be the last. SCIUTTO: Yes.

HILL: Joining us now, CNN contributor Jennifer Mascia, a senior writer for "The Trace."

Jennifer, it's good to have you with us this morning.


HILL: You recently did a deep dive. So, we talk a lot about guns in this country, we talk about gun violence.


The minute one of those words enters a conversation, things become political. So you went for a deep dive in the numbers because we've heard a lot, you know, there's more than one gun