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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Today: House Expected To Pass Inflation Reduction Act; Some Residents In Donbas Remain In Their Homes Despite Danger; Baseball Returns To The Field Of Dreams. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired August 12, 2022 - 05:30   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. The Inflation Reduction Act expected to move a giant step closer to the finish line today. Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House will pass the climate, tax, and health care bill later today, sending it to the president's desk.

CNN's Daniella Diaz is live on Capitol Hill. Do Democrats think they have the votes?

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN REPORTER: They do, Christine, but remember how it works in the House as they just need a simple majority to pass legislation. If all Democrats support this bill, which is expected to happen, this bill will pass and then, of course, go to President Joe Biden's desk for signature. And if that were to happen, Christine, I have -- I have to emphasize it would be a huge victory for the Biden administration.

Now, a refresher for our viewers on what's in this bill. It's $750 billion in health care, tax, and climate provisions. And if it is passed by the House today it would reduce the deficit and be paid for by new taxes, including a 15 percent minimum tax on large corporations. A huge victory for Democrats who wanted to see something like this in legislation.

And it's also expected to boost the IRS's ability to collect taxes. That's how it's going to be paid for. Not only will it do that -- the bill would also empower Medicare to negotiate prices of certain costly medications, Christine.

And separate from that, climate activists are celebrating this bill and the fact that it's going to be passed because it includes nearly $370 billion for clean energy, making it the largest climate investment in U.S. history, Christine. If it's signed into law, this bill would reduce U.S. carbon emissions up to 40 percent by 2030 -- not even would it take 10 years for that to happen.

So, of course, just a little explainer of what's going to happen in a few hours. The House is going to meet. They're going to debate this legislation and eventually have a vote to pass this bill. Then, of course, when that happens, which we're expecting will happen Christine, it will go to President Joe Biden's desk for signature, making it a huge victory for Democrats that they were able to do this.


All right, Daniella, thank you so much for that.

That climate, tax, and health care bill just one of President Biden's victories of the past few days. He also signed the CHIPS Act into law to energize more U.S. chipmaking to compete with China. And the PACT Act will help millions of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits.

Then there's the economy, right? Two inflation reports show the worst may be over when it comes to soaring prices. Gas prices -- the national average now $3.98, the lowest it's been in months. The Nasdaq is finally out of its worst bear market in more than a decade. A busy seven days that began with that blockbuster jobs report a week ago that blew away expectations.

You've heard me say it before. Presidents get too much credit when the economy is good; they get too much blame when it's bad. But this has been a good week for this White House by any definition.

The challenge now, can the White House Democrats sell those wins to voters as the midterms draw closer, or will this be another missed opportunity?

I want to bring in Greg Valliere. He's the chief U.S. strategist at AGF Investments.


ROMANS: And after months of rock-bottom poll numbers and consumer confidence numbers that are just terrible, things finally breaking Joe Biden's way, Greg.

VALLIERE: Yes. Good morning, Christine.

I think that the outlook has shifted a bit for the congressional races on November 8. I think the Senate now is doable for the Democrats. They may just barely hold on. A lot of Republican candidates aren't doing that well in states like Pennsylvania and Georgia.


The House probably will stay -- will go to the Republicans. I think the House will flip. But even that has gotten closer.

ROMANS: All right. Is this because of legislative wins? Is it because of gas prices now back below $4.00? Is it all of it? Why are you -- what's moving the needle?

VALLIERE: Well, I'd add another fact, Christine, and that's Donald Trump. I mean, Trump has tremendous support among his base. We all know that. But I think moderate voters are probably thinking if this is going to be an election that's a referendum on Trump and a relitigation of the 2020 election, I think a lot of moderates might say we'll stay with the Democrats.

ROMANS: Interesting.

All this Mar-a-Lago furor and headlines this week -- it's on the front page of all of these newspapers, even as Joe Biden is getting -- going to be getting set to sign some important legislation. I'm wondering if it takes some of the energy out of the White House's message on progress on the economy -- what's happening with Mar-a-Lago and the president's legal troubles.

VALLIERE: Great point. I think that, as usual, Donald Trump can clear the room. He can make himself the biggest issue. And I thought earlier this week and still think that the indictment -- the search warrant actually helped Trump. It got him on the front pages. It let him reinforce his image as a martyr -- someone who is victimized.

And it united most of the Republicans. Unfortunately, for the Republicans who are now united, that's not enough to win in November. You've got to do well with moderates and I'm not sure they will.

ROMANS: Talk to me a little bit about the importance of the White House selling these legislative wins that they've had here, explaining to people what's in all of this. For example, prescription drug caps for Medicare recipients, and insulin caps for people who are on Medicare. And extending those Obamacare subsidies. There's so much in here.

Will they be able to show Americans what it means for their pocketbooks by November?

VALLIERE: Yes, that's the key. Timing is everything, as we know, and it may take longer for this to sink in.

So I would argue that the really key factors will be what people see at the gas pump -- a little under $4.00 as you mentioned -- and maybe food. Food hasn't dropped by quite as much at the retail level, although it's dropped quite a bit at the wholesale level. If food prices start to come down, if the stock market does well, if energy prices come down, I think that will make a difference.

ROMANS: The president still has time running out, really, for him to make a decision on student loans. The student loan payment pause ends at the end of this month. Democrats and young voters -- they really want Biden to extend that pause, right, even canceling up to $50,000 of debt per borrower.

Where do you expect that he'll come down on that? What do you -- what's the -- what's the wager there?

VALLIERE: I think it will be modest. I certainly don't see $50,000 -- anything that Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders might want. But there will probably be something. It will be enough for him to cover himself on the issue but it won't be a blockbuster.

ROMANS: I mean, they point out that they've already forgiven student loan debt -- billions of it, actually -- for students who had debt from some of these places that defrauded them, quite frankly. So they've been trying to -- trying to work around those kinds of edges.

But you think he could actually give just a blanket -- some kind of a student loan forgiveness?

VALLIERE: Yes, but again, not $50,000. I mean, that's a key demographic -- young people, who are kind of lukewarm about Biden, I think could become more energized if he does something -- anything on student loans.

ROMANS: Greg, after this week -- the last seven days -- you heard me tick through it at the beginning of this conversation all the things that have happened over the past seven days. I would start it with that jobs report that was just seven days ago -- 528,000 jobs added. It really surprised a lot of people and showed some real energy in the job market.

Then you had a couple of inflation reports this week that show peaking. I mean, we need to see a couple more months like that but at least on the factory floor and consumer prices peaking here a little bit.

Is this whole recession obsession behind us? Where do you -- where do you sit on whether the U.S. is in a recession right now?

VALLIERE: I sure don't see it right now. It's awfully hard to see a recession, Christine, with the unemployment rate at 3.5 percent. Maybe later this year we'll still be talking about an economic slowdown.

But I think we've peaked on inflation. I think we've bottomed on the economy. I think things still look pretty good.

ROMANS: You say we went from a hot economy to a warm economy. That's the -- that's the metaphor you use.

VALLIERE: Yes, I think so. I mean, you have to say that the labor market is still red hot. The Fed certainly worries about it. That's why the Fed is going to have to raise rates on September 21 by at least 50 basis points. So, there still is a need to cool off this economy, but this is an economy that is not close to a recession.


ROMANS: All right, Greg Valliere. Always nice to have your expertise. Have a great weekend, Greg. Thanks for dropping by.

VALLIERE: You, too -- yes.

ROMANS: All right, college students -- listen up. Big bonuses if you want to be a pharmacist. And Ukrainians reluctant to leave as troops close in.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: The Russians are ready on the edge of this city. If there was ever a moment for these people to leave it would be now. (END VIDEO CLIP)


ROMANS: This morning, Ukrainian authorities say a town opposite the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was again hit by Russian rockets overnight. This, as the U.N. calls for immediate inspection of the plant after damage to the facility this week. But there are residents who remain in their homes in the nearby Donbas region despite the danger and the pressure to leave.

CNN's Nic Robertson has more.



ROBERTSON (voice-over): Inside a sweltering train station families wait for a journey to the unknown. A government offer to escape the war in eastern Ukraine. Artem (PH) is saying goodbye to his wife Sophia and son Phillip.

ARTEM: (Speaking foreign language).

ROBERTSON (voice-over): "The situation is getting worse," he says.

SOPHIA: (Speaking foreign language).

ROBERTSON (voice-over): "Our son is scared," Sophia adds. "Yesterday the shelling was so bad we decided we just had to go."

On the platform, the old and confused helped and heaved aboard. The free train ride westward ramping up efforts to relocate civilians before winter.

Lyudmila (PH) leaving with her family. "We don't want to go," she says, "but the missiles are flying. I've had no salary for five months. I don't even know where we're going."

ROBERTSON (on camera): Officials here are telling us there are far fewer people on the trains right now. Just a few months ago, they say there were hundreds of people crammed into these carriages. It's much emptier now.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Hampering evacuation efforts, some who left months ago are coming back.

"I spent all my money on rent," Valentina says. "I'm broke. I have to come back even though we've been told there will be no heating and no water here this winter."

MAYOR OLEKSANDR HONCHARENKO, KRAMATORSK, UKRAINE: Now we are asking people to leave -- the remaining people to leave, as much as possible, the city.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): The mayor of the region's biggest city, Kramatorsk, is struggling. Sixty-five thousand civilians here, he says, even as soldiers dig new trenches and rockets regularly impact.

HONCHARENKO: It's difficult to protect the cities by our army if we have a lot of citizens.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Even closer to the creeping Russian advance in Bakhmut -- where officials say seven civilians died in shelling Wednesday -- there is resistance to leaving.

ROBERTSON (on camera): The Russians are already on the edge of this city. If there was ever a moment for these people to leave it would be now.

SERGIY (PH): (Speaking foreign language).

ROBERTSON (voice-over): "I know the government wants us to leave," Sergey says, "but I can't. I've got three houses. Who will look after them?"

He's rigged his basement to be a shelter.

ROBERTSON (on camera): This is where they're living -- in here -- and it's just dust, dirt corridors.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): He isn't sure if the walls will hold a heavy blast but says he's got a whistle if the worst happens.

In Ukraine's east, it's clear it will take more than an offer of a free train ride to get citizens to safety.

Nic Robertson, CNN, eastern Ukraine.


ROMANS: All right, Nic. Thank you for that.

Anne Heche's family now says they don't expect her to survive her injuries from that fiery car crash last week. They released a statement saying the actress suffered a severe brain injury and is being kept on life support to determine if her organs can be donated.

Heche crashed her car into an L.A. home and set off a fire. Police say a woman inside that home suffered minor injuries. The LAPD announced yesterday it is investigating Heche for felony DUI.

In a matter of hours, Trump's lawyers will weigh in about unsealing that search warrant used by FBI agents at Mar-a-Lago. And House lawmakers will vote on key parts of the Biden agenda. The White House joins us live.



ROMANS: Some dramatic video in California -- a firenado. Look at that. Swirling flames erupted from a wildfire burning near Los Angeles. More than 200 firefighters were called to tackle the wildfire as it spread across some, wow, 150 acres. The L.A. County Fire Department says the fire is now 100 percent contained -- no injuries or homes damaged.

All right, let's get a check on CNN Business this Friday morning. Looking at markets around the world, Asia is closed now for the week and closed mixed. Europe has opened higher here. And on Wall Street, stock index futures also moving higher.

Yesterday, the S&P and the Nasdaq finishing flat despite another encouraging inflation report. We'll see how investors react today with critical new data on import prices and consumer sentiment.

Investors relieved at signs that inflation may be peaking. You can see here runaway price increases for both consumer and producer prices appear to have slowed.

But anyone shopping for groceries is still feeling the pinch for everyday items at the supermarket. That same data shows eggs cost 38 percent more this year than last year. Flour is up nearly 23 percent. Chicken, 17.6 percent; and milk, 15.6 percent more expensive.

A deadly Avian flu, severe drought across the globe, and the war in Ukraine playing a factor in those rising food costs.

But relief again at the pump. Gas prices fell another penny overnight to $3.98 a gallon. More than 18 states now have averages below $3.75.

Mortgage rates rising again, back above 5 percent this week after dropping below there last week. A 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 5.22 percent for the week ending yesterday, up from 4.99 the week before -- quite a bit higher than the rate last year. Last year, you could nab that loan for 2.87 percent.

Walgreens needs more pharmacists and it's paying big money to attract them. One source tells CNN the company is offering up to $75,000 in signing bonuses, well north of the usual amount. The source says pharmacists who take the deal -- they're required to stay in their positions for at least a year. Walgreens says it's relying on bonuses to help deal with staff shortages.


All right, to sports now. Major League Baseball returned to the cornfields and the great state of Iowa for the Field of Dreams game.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. It is gorgeous -- that game.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it -- the scenes are incredible, Christine. Good morning to you.

And of all the ideas Major League Baseball has ever come up with, this is right there at the top of the list. It's the second year for the game in Dyersville, Iowa. Now, Kevin Costner didn't wander around the field this year before the game but arguably, the sport's most famous father-son duo led things off. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEN GRIFFEY JR.: Hey, Dad. You want to have a catch?

KEN GRIFFEY SR.: I'd like that.


SCHOLES: Yes, Ken Griffey Jr. and his dad playing catch pregame. Others joined them before the Reds and Cubs players emerged from the cornstalks.

In another really cool moment, the hologram of legendary Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray led the seventh-inning stretch.


HARRY CARAY HOLOGRAM: "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."


SCHOLES: Yes. As for the game, the Cubs jumping out early, scoring three runs in the first inning on the way to a 4-2 win.

Now, this may be it for the cornfields for a while. Major League Baseball currently doesn't have plans to play in Dyersville next season.

All right, we had some controversy in the Little League World Series Northwest Regional yesterday. Oregon and Washington tied at two in the bottom of the seventh. A ground ball by Washington was called foul by the ump at third base. Oregon's players stop, but Washington's don't -- and the runner on first comes all the way around to score the game- winning run.

The home plate umpire had called it fair. And after a review, they say the run counts, game over. Washington heads to Williamsport. As you can imagine, Oregon's players just crushed as their season comes to an end that way.

All right, the NFL preseason is ramping up this weekend but Tom Brady won't be around for the Bucs for the time being. Tom Brady is temporarily stepping away for what's being called a personal matter. New coach Todd Bowles saying his 45-year-old quarterback asked about taking a leave before the start of training camp. Brady is expected to miss about the next week or so, but Bowles is confident Brady will be ready for the regular season opener against the Cowboys on September 11.

All right, the Titans and Ravens were playing last night and Tennessee's third-round pick Malik Willis getting the start and showing a few flashes in the game. The former Liberty quarterback -- well, he ran for a 7-yard touchdown. But get this -- the Ravens -- they won this game and they have one of the strangest streaks in all of football. They've won 21-straight preseason games dating all the way back to 2015 -- 21 straight. All right, and finally, the NBA is retiring the number six league-wide in honor of the late Celtics legend Bill Russell. The 11-time NBA champion and civil rights activist died last month at the age of 88.

This is going to be the first time the NBA has retired a number league-wide. LeBron James, one of the 17 players already wearing the number six -- he's grandfathered in though. He gets to keep that number. But no one else will use it moving forward.

So, Christine, like Jackie Robinson with the number 42 --


SCHOLES: -- in baseball, we know have Bill Russell, the number six in basketball. Pretty cool for the league to do that.

ROMANS: I mean, listening to all the tributes for him in the past days has just been amazing. What a giant of that sport.

SCHOLES: Yes, he certainly was. Everyone has their favorite Bill Russell story. And now -- you know, we'll wait and see. Maybe the NBA will do like a Bill Russell day like they do --


SCHOLES: -- in baseball where everyone wears the number six. Maybe they have plans for that down the line.

ROMANS: All right, number six.

Thanks so much for that, Andy. Nice to see you this morning.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: Have a great weekend, Andy.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans. "NEW DAY" picks it up right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. It is Friday, August 12. And I'm Brianna Keilar alongside John Berman this morning.

After a day of extraordinary developments, this crossing overnight. Former President Trump says he will not oppose the release of documents related to the FBI's search of his Mar-a-Lago home. In a late-night post on his social media platform, Trump says he is, quote, "encouraging the immediate release of those documents." Now, his attorney was not so direct, saying that it doesn't appear that they would object to the release.

The Trump statement comes after the Justice Department filed a motion to unseal the search warrant. Trump's legal team has until 3:00 pm today to formally respond in court.

Attorney General Merrick Garland says he personally approved that decision to seek the Mar-a-Lago search warrant.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. I just want to reiterate the point. Just because Trump said he wants the documents released, it doesn't necessarily mean that is what his lawyers will tell a judge. Remember, Trump has had possession of these documents.