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Airline Unions Push for Cabin Temperature Regulations; Gauff Advances to Final; Polls on Education in America; Miguel Cardona is Interviewed about Education. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired September 08, 2023 - 08:30   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: This picture was taken by a worker on a jet bridge in Phoenix. You see that registers 113.5 degrees Fahrenheit. One airport worker who cleans the aircraft after passengers deplaned said that sometimes the power is turned off before her work begins. She also said that she isn't allowed to bring her own water on the plane.


LINDA RESSLER, CABIN WORKER: I often feel like I'm go to faint. And I've caught myself briefly dipping in and out of consciousness. I sometimes resort to drinking water left over from the passengers. It's grueling work and we often have so many airplanes scheduled to clean.



CNN correspondent Pete Muntean joins us now.

Unreal to hear all of that.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and it's airline agnostic, Poppy. You know, these planes baking in the hot sun become a really huge problem. You saw some of those incidents leading into this. The incidents this summer in places like Vegas and Phoenix, in Dallas. Hot places. But also, as we go through this big heatwave, this is really kind of moving east and north to Atlanta. We've seen incidents in Newark.

Generally, the policy from airlines is, when the temperature onboard the plane is above 80 degrees inside the passenger cabin, flight crews close the shades, open the vents to try and keep things cool. But the CEO of American Airlines just said that fright crews are having to use those practices more often and longer throughout the year.

The problem is the worst when just sitting on the ground waiting for a gate or having pushback from the gate waiting to depart. It's know officially as a tarmac delay. The situation is really pilots sometimes have to turn off the AC to save fuel, and flight attendants have been complaining about this for years. In fact, since 2018, they've gathered more than 4,000 extreme temperature reports.

This is where it gets really interesting. The rules are pretty murky. The Department of Transportation says that the temperature onboard the plane has to be comfortable during a tarmac delay. There's no real federal limit here. And so now this is getting really interesting because Congress could make this into a harder regulation. The FAA's fate determined by Congress right now. The House FAA reauthorization bill would order the FAA to review existing standards on air temperatures in places like passenger cabins. So, we could finally see a federal standard for temperatures inside planes. Something flight attendants really want. This has passed the House. Currently stalled out in the Senate.

Poppy. Phil.

HARLOW: Wow. Thank you, Pete, for explaining all of this and bringing it to the fore. Appreciate it.

Tennis sensation Coco Gauff headed to her first U.S. Open final. Protesters did delay her victory. She still won.



PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: That's Coco Gauff. She's headed to her first U.S. Open final. She has just lit up New York. She beat the number ten seed, Karolina Muchova, 6-4, 7-5 last night in the semifinals. I will note, the match was delayed for about 50 (ph) minutes in the second set when four environmental protesters interrupted wearing shirts that said end fossil fuels. Now, three of them were removed. The fourth, a little more complicated. He had glued his feet to the concrete floor.


COCO GAUFF, ADVANCES TO U.S. OPEN FINAL: You know, I always speak about preaching, you know - you know, preaching about what you feel and what you believe in. And it was done in a peaceful way. So, I can't get too mad at it. Obviously, I don't want it to happen when I'm up - or winning up 6-4, 1-0. And I wanted the momentum to keep going. But, hey, if you -- if that's what they felt that they needed to do to get their voices heard, I can't really get upset at it.


MATTINGLY: Clearly more mature than me. Also more mature than me, CNN contributor Cari Champion.

Cari, the kind of electricity in the city right now here in New York, but also I think around the country, is you watch around the court, but you also listen to her after all of these matches, it's extraordinary. What's your sense of this?

CARI CHAMPION, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. Well, I'm in agreement, she is far more mature than myself. But at 19 years old, Coco has experienced so much. And I want to say this about her in particular. There has been this tremendous amount of pressure on her since she had a wonderful debut when she was 15 years old. And we've watched her career.

And going into this particular U.S. Open, people said, look, it's your time. We're waiting for the next one, and that is, you know, Serena retired, pass the baton. She understood the pressure and the assignment. Here she is in her first U.S. final - U.S. Open final.

HARLOW: Yes. The fact that it's the first - the youngest, right, we've seen since Serena. And that was 1999. It's pretty extraordinary how she's taken that pressure. But also I think it's important to remember how far this sport has come and still has to go since Serena was such a first, right?

CHAMPION: There's so much more that needs to happen in American tennis, but more specifically for the women. But what I am excited about in this particular instance, in Coco's instance, she's always said that she would not be playing tennis if it weren't for Serena and for Venus. She looked up to them. And Coco was very clear about what she wanted to do, be world number one.

And the more that she gets on these big stages and she talks about who she is and where she comes from, all she's doing is opening doors for everyone else to see why it's so important to let these women have their moment.

They celebrated Billie Jean King's 50th anniversary there for what she did for equity in pay. But there is just so much more to do in terms of what they get paid, how they are treated. And they're (INAUDIBLE) but making progress. And I think that this -- I just want to say this one thing. This final, this women's final, is what American tennis needed. I know that people hadn't paid attention too much because we usually look for the big names and they don't necessarily belong to us. But this was such a moment of pride for American tennis, but more specifically for the women in American tennis.


CHAMPION: We need this.


MATTINGLY: Speaking of one of them, there is a college player -


MATTINGLY: And I don't want to get like too down into the weeds. I just love talking about name, image, and likeness and how absurd college rules are with athletes. She should have been - should have earned $81,000. Could not accept that money. She was in the U.S. Open. Could not accept that money because she's still a collegiate athlete, is still technically an amateur.

I'm sorry, Cari Champion, with name, image, and likeness, I've seen the cars that college football players are driving around right now. [08:40:04]

What is going on here?

CHAMPION: Well, good for her for speaking out, first of all. Crawley said that isn't fair. I forfeited $81,000. There are people at my school that make millions of dollars. And because of some random rule that the NCAA has come up with, I'm not allowed to benefit.

I -- we have watched this in real time, which is why I'm so excited. The NCAA has these archaic rules that do not apply to them, but only to other people. And now that these players and these student athletes, rather, are allowed to have the opportunity to speak up and say we deserve more, I have a feeling you'll see more players that are in the ancillary sports, more student athletes in these ancillary sports, like tennis and gymnastics, make more deals. They're only giving it to basketball players now and a lot of football players and a few players here and there, right? There could be some gymnasts here and there.

But what she's saying is, if I'm just as good, I should be allowed to take this money the way that these other - the other student athletes are taking money. I think it's ridiculous. They haven't even addressed this yet because this has never happened in real time where a student has spoke up and said, it's unfair. With NIL, this is unfair. And so good for Crawley because, guess what, now they have to pay attention to this. So, good for her.

MATTINGLY: Exactly. And she's going to get deals from this, NIL deals from this. The fact it's still - the armatures in rules still existing in the NIL era, which I'm supportive of college athletes getting what they've earned, it's bonkers to me. Like, absolutely insane.

Cari Champion, it's always a pleasure. Thanks so much for coming on.

CHAMPION: Poppy, Phil, good to see you guys. Have a wonderful day.

HARLOW: Good to see you. We love you. Thanks, Cari.

All right, here in the U.S., nearly 1.5 million kids have a parent who is incarcerated. This week's CNN Hero knows firsthand what they're going through and is dedicated to making their lives a little bit better. We want you to meet Yasmine Arrington.


YASMINE ARRINGTON, CNN HERO: What we're ultimately doing is ensuring that young people who have incarcerated parents are overcoming systemic barriers, and also changing the trajectory of not only their lives, but their families' lives, and breaking the stereotypes and the stigma around having an incarcerated parent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Getting ready for graduation.

ARRINGTON: Yes, I know. Congratulations. I'm so excited!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Thank you.

ARRINGTON: What keeps me going, it's that proud mama effect.

To see our scholars just achieve and accomplish and over time gain a sense of healthy confidence. Just a little bit of support can go a very, very long way. It really is a snowball effect.


HARLOW: How wonderful is that? You can hear more about Yasmine's work. Go to

MATTINGLY: Federal student loan payments are set to resume in just weeks after a pause on repayments during the pandemic. Coming up, we're going to ask Education Secretary Miguel Cardona what borrowers can expect.

Stay with us.



MATTINGLY: Well, back to school. The annual pilgrimage that gives many kids joy and parents absolute - sorry, it gives kids -- dread. Parents, joy. Lots of joy. Or does it? CNN's senior data reporter Harry Enten -- stop it, Harry - is here with this morning's number.

So, Harry, we've been talking about politicians, kind of where they rank in terms of American views all week.


MATTINGLY: What about the education system?

ENTEN: Yes. So, take a look here. Adults satisfied with the quality of K-12 education nationally, just 36 percent. That is the lowest this century. Americans are dissatisfied with the education system.

Why is that? Well, there is a clear political divide here going on. So, this is satisfied with K-12 education system nationally. Look at the 2001 to 2022 average, 49 percent of Democrats, 44 percent of Republicans. Look at the drop in Republicans in 2023, just 25 percent of Republicans satisfied. Not the same drop-off that we see with Democrats. A lot of Republicans complaining about Covid policies, complaining about gender identity policies, complaining about unions. So, I think that is driving this political divide.

MATTINGLY: OK, that's the macro. How do parents actually feel about their kids' schools?

ENTEN: This is so interesting. K-12 parents satisfied with the education their oldest child gets, look at this, 76 percent. Much higher. Much higher. And that matches the 2001-2022 average of 76 percent. You know what this reminds me a lot, Phil, of? It reminds me of this old thing that we always get. 2022 voters approving of Congress overall, just 31 percent. Their own House member, 56 percent. People don't like nationally what's going on, but what's going on with their own kids and what's going on in their own districts, they like it just fine.

MATTINGLY: Such an interesting carryover.

Harry Enten, my man, thank you.

ENTEN: Thank you, sir.

HARLOW: All right, federal student loan payments are going to resume in just a few weeks after a years-long pause on those repayments during the pandemic. The Education Department says more than 4 million people have enrolled in a new income-based repayment plan rolled out by the Biden administration. It's SAVE. And under the plan some borrowers will have their monthly payments cut in half and remaining debt canceled after making at least 10 years of payments. A single borrower who makes about $15 an hour will see their payments cut to zero. Borrowers who make more would save more than $1,000 a year, compared to other income-based plans. Their interest would not pile up as long as they continue to make those monthly payments.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona joins us live this morning.

Mr. Secretary, thank you very much.

And I want to begin with the fact that, yes, you've got 4 million people who signed up. It's also expensive, the non-partisan Penn Wharton Budget Model says it's going to cost $475 billion over a decade. Who's paying for that?


MIGUEL CARDONA, EDUCATION SECRETARY: Yes. Well, thank you for having me.

And first of all, I just thought those numbers right before this were interesting. We have one party that's trying to create division in education and one that's trying to raise the bar in education and make higher education more affordable and more accessible.

You know, the president -- let me contextualize this. Over the last two years the deficit has been reduced by this president by $2 trillion. And we recognized that, in order to get our economy going, we need to open access to higher education. Over 70 percent of the jobs in the future will require either a two or four-year degree. So, what we're doing is opening the doors to higher education to so many more people that don't, and reducing (ph) defaults in the process.

HARLOW: So, Mr. Secretary, I do appreciate that, but who's paying for that cost?

CARDONA: Well, as I said before, the deficit reduction is creating space for policies that open the door to access.

HARLOW: Right. CARDONA: But let me - let me shift a bit to the students that (INAUDIBLE) yesterday who are drowning in debt.

HARLOW: I do - I do - and I want to hear from them. I want to - I -- big issue. I want to hear about that.


HARLOW: But I also just want to level with the American people. That cost is federal government pays for it, taxpayers?

CARDONA: Right. It's part of the president's plan, which also includes deficit reduction. You can't discuss what the costs are without talking about how the deficit has been reduced.


CARDONA: And what we're hearing from the American people who are drowning in debt and can't buy a home and (INAUDIBLE) the economy because of college costs.

HARLOW: Yes, I totally understand that. I'll also note that the federal budget deficit is now expected to balloon to $2 trillion for the fiscal year of 2023.

One of the points that Republicans who oppose this make, and you've got 17 Republican senators who have introduced legislation to try to block it, they call it a massive loan forgiveness scheme. That is what Senator Bill Cassidy wrote in an op-ed, calling it politically motivated.

What do you say to Americans who disagree with this and say we shouldn't be on the hook for this?

CARDONA: Yes. Well, I think, you knew, those who are vehemently opposed to it have not spoken to their constituents who are drowning, who need support, who need to make higher education more accessible.

Look, I'd welcome the collaboration of our colleagues on The Hill from the Republican side to make sure that we're coming together with a plan that makes higher education more affordable, prevents the billions of defaults that we're seeing every year. We've introduced the SAVE plan, which is the best income-driven payment plan in our country's history, to make sure that people can afford to pay their bills and continue with education.

HARLOW: I think you make a good point about the root cause of this. And that's what has "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board concerned because they've written that borrowers would have an incentive to take out more debt and colleges would raise tuition. They say that this does not propose anything that would mitigate this debt ratchet, right? They're saying this doesn't get to the root of the problem.

CARDONA: Yes. Well, you know, that's one component of it. I wish -- and I welcome CNN's analysis of what it's - what's happening to the students that are benefitting from it. Those who are now thinking about college as an opportunity for them where before that door was closed.

It's one thing to say, you know, it's going to balloon costs. We're also holding colleges more accountable than ever before in our country's history. If you look at some of the regulations we've put about gainful employment and we're going after those colleges that provide a very poor return on investment, the whole package is making higher education more accessible. Cover (ph) goes part two, I think, they're not as popular, but they're going to will make a difference.

HARLOW: OK. The other effort by the Biden administration, after the first big effort to forgive student loans that got struck down by the Supreme Court -


HARLOW: Is by utilizing the 1965 Higher Education Act. But that's already being challenged in the court. You had 16 million Americans who were banking on the promised student loan forgiveness that the Supreme Court rejected.

When you look at this rite large, did the Biden administration promise the American people too much on loan forgiveness that you just can't fulfill?

CARDONA: You know, we believe the Supreme Court got it wrong. And 20 million borrowers today would have had their loans forgiven had the Supreme Court sided with what we believe to be the right course of action.

But we're not going to give up fighting for the American people. And, no, we haven't promised -- we've provided over $117 billion in debt relief to allow folks to get back on their feet. We've fixed the public service loan forgiveness program, which means veterans, police officers, teachers, are having their debt forgiven after ten years of service. We're fixing a broken system, Poppy. And, you know, in this country, we lead the world, we better open up the doors to higher education to more people. We can do it. We have a plan.

HARLOW: Look, there needs to be a level playing field for sure for people to be able to achieve.

I'm really interested, finally, Mr. Secretary, on your take on all of these Republican attacks on what you lead on the Department of Education.


HARLOW: Let's just play some of them for folks.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The decline in education is one of the major reasons why our country is in decline.


We need education in this country, not indoctrination this this country.

MIKE PENCE, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to close the federal Department of Education, block grant, all that funding back to the states.

VIVEK RAMASWAMY, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's shut down the head of the snake, the Department of Education. Take that $80 billion, put it in the hands of parents across this country.

GOV. DOUG BURGUM (R-ND), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would get rid of the Department of Education.


HARLOW: The Department of Education very much exists. You run it. I just want to give you a chance to respond to all those attacks.

CARDONA: Yes, thank you for that.

And I think that contributes to why the numbers are so low with the Republican Party. We have a party that's bent on creating division so that they could privatize schools. Here, we have a plan. The raise the bar plan. And if you listened, later on in that debate they talk about literacy and (INAUDIBLE). They talk about mental health and college and career pathways, which is what our plan is about.

So, I know they're struggling in the polls and they're trying to get their numbers up and get a national profile. While they're focusing on that, we're focusing on students in the Biden administration.

HARLOW: And I know you're meeting with great students and teachers and educators in the state of Minnesota. Have a good time. Thanks for being there.

CARDONA: Thank you.

HARLOW: Secretary Cardona, we appreciate it very, very much.

CARDONA: Take care.

HARLOW: Before we go -


HARLOW: Big day, Phil Mattingly.

MATTINGLY: It's a big day. It is my daughter Brooke's fourth birthday.


MATTINGLY: I promise we're not going to do this constantly. I know I have a lot of children.

HARLOW: Let's. Let's.

MATTINGLY: Four. But this is a big day. Brooke is four. That's us this summer. She crushes merry-go-rounds. She also totally runs our household.


MATTINGLY: And her brothers and younger sister will acknowledge that. It's a big day. I'm so very proud of her and I'm so very excited to celebrate with her when I get home in a short while.

HARLOW: And what did the boys do for her this morning?

MATTINGLY: They woke her up. They brought her to their room, they share a room, they sang "Happy Birthday" to her and that was pretty cool. That's all their mom. I have --

HARLOW: With doughnuts. I saw doughnuts thanks to mom.

MATTINGLY: Yes, with doughnuts. Yes, there were doughnuts too. Yes. No, no, no, that's -- they've got a great mom. I'm here, too.

HARLOW: Yes, all thanks to mom.

MATTINGLY: Happy birthday, Brooke.

"CNN NEWS CENTRAL" starts right after this break.