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Inside Politics

Biden Speaks on Economy Amid Rise in COVID Cases, Plunging Stocks; Joe Biden: U.S. Will See "Ups and Downs" in its Economic Recovery; Number of COVID Cases Linked to Olympics Rises to 61; Schumer Deadline Could Talk Core of Biden Agenda; Democrat Senator: Put "Election Infrastructure" in Reconciliation Package. Aired 12- 12:30p ET

Aired July 19, 2021 - 12:00   ET




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Well, first of all I think we need to find pathway to the budget bill is an appropriate way to get around the filibuster to be able to make a judgment as to whether or not they should have a pathway. That's for the parliamentarian to decide not for Joe Biden to decide. The first part of the question was--


BIDEN: Yes, there's nobody suggesting there's unchecked inflation on the way. No serious economist. That's totally different. I mean, look, the stock market is higher than it has been in all of history even went down this month, even down this month.

Now, I don't look at the stock market as a means by which to judge the economy like my predecessor did. But he'd be very - he'd be talking to you every day for the last five months about how the stock market is so high, higher in a time in history, still higher than any time in history. So that's not how I judge whether or not we're having economic growth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, on China and cyber hackers?

BIDEN: She jumps up before you did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's exactly what your administration is naming and shaming China but no sanctions. Why and is that effective?

BIDEN: They're still determining exactly what happened. Investigation is not finished. Thank you all very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your understanding of the biggest difference between what they've done versus what Russia has done in terms of cyber? BIDEN: That would take a longer explanation.


BIDEN: No we don't have to go see the - Jordan. Well, to the best of my knowledge, and I'm getting a report tomorrow morning on this detailed report. My understanding is that the Chinese government, not unlike the Russian government is not doing these themselves, but is protecting those who are doing and maybe even accommodating them being able to do it. That may be the difference. Thank you.


JOHN KING, CNN HOST: I'm John King in Washington. Welcome to "Inside Politics". You're watching the President of the United States Joe Biden leave the room taking questions from reporters after first delivering prepared remarks promoting his economic agenda, including a bipartisan infrastructure plan that could be in some trouble in the United States Senate right now.

Significantly, when taking questions right there the president again, saying he wants Facebook to do more to battle vaccine misinformation on its platform and saying that he believes the Chinese government, like the Russian government may not be directly responsible for cyber- attacks, but maybe allowing those responsible for those attacks to flourish within their systems, important points there.

But on the economy, the president saying this is a boom right now. He thinks his policies deserve credit for it. He says it would continue if bipartisan infrastructure legislation will be passed by the Congress and notably, he also touched on two warning signs to the administration right now, saying those who are not getting a COVID vaccine not only are a threat to their own health and safety and the health and safety of our communities, but a threat to the economy as well.

And he says inflation he believes right now car prices, other prices that are going up quite alarmingly, the president believes he says we're monitoring this we'll be vigilant, but he believes it is temporary. Let's get to our Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly.

Phil, the president trying to nudge the Congress because this is a critical week of votes, at least on the schedule right now for big pieces of his agenda but also, I thought it was interesting, given the politics of the situation and taking time, both on vaccines and on inflation to say, yes, these are issues. We are on top of it.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No question about it. And I think when you look at the inflation issue in particular; the White House acknowledges at least behind the scenes that this is a potential problem for their broader agenda when you have inflation reaching a level in the month of June higher than it has since 2008.

You have both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, wondering or at least asking the White House why they should support an additional $4 trillion in spending proposals. And that was exactly why you saw the president really seek to address that issue head on really make the case that the way his agenda, the way his programs are designed, they are not designed to increase inflation, they are going to be a flood of simulative proposals.

Instead, they're going to be longer term built out over time. And the way that they're designed by the president's economic team will increase jobs, increase capacity and increase the ability for the U.S. economy to push out more goods and ensure the prices remain stable and perhaps lower essentially trying to take the argument against the new spending that you've seen from Republicans both on the political side and on the policy side.

It flipped them on its head trying to say that if you want lower prices, then you should support my agenda, my legislative agenda, that's not going to shift how Republicans view particularly the second piece of the proposal that $3.5 trillion proposal Democrats are working through right now.

But he wants to ensure that frontline Democrats who are being attacked on this issue, have something to message to counter that or at least something to kind of settle on, on their own. I think more broadly, the president recognizes this is a very big week.

Obviously still negotiations ongoing to try and solidify that bipartisan framework he agreed to with Republicans and Democrats a few weeks ago, Democrats trying to coalesce in the United States Senate around the second piece of that proposal.


MATTINGLY: And the president trying to make clear that all of the progress that has been made up to this point and large part because of the vaccination efforts combined with that $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan needs to be continued and can only be continued in the president's view if his proposals get across the finish line.

KING: Phil Mattingly live for us at the White House. Appreciate the hustle after the president's remarks. We're going to come back to this a bit later in the program, not only the president's economic agenda, but also some of the comments he just made about immigration as well.

Moving now, though, to another dramatic story Coronavirus and its global kick yet again a member of the U.S. women's gymnastics team is COVID positive just four days before the opening ceremonies in Tokyo. According to CNN Affiliate KNBC the gymnast has been identified as 18- year-old Kara Eaker from Green Valley, Missouri. She's an alternate on the U.S. team.

The affiliate spoke to her father Mark just a short time ago. Another American the Tennis Star Coco Gauff is skipping the games altogether that too after testing positive for COVID. In all we are told at least 61 Coronavirus cases so far linked to the games three athletes testing positive within the Olympic Village two from South Africa one from the Czech Republic. Let's get the latest now from CNN's Selina Wang live in Tokyo Selina?

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well John, Kara Eaker is the first U.S. Olympic athlete to test positive for COVID-19 here in Japan her father has confirmed that she has no symptoms. She is isolating take a listen to what else he had to say to our CNN Affiliate.


MARK EAKER, FATHER OF OLYMPIC GYMNAST WHO TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID: We were talking with her last night. She's had multiple COVID tests come back positive she has no symptoms. She's been vaccinated. And because of the test coming back positive they went ahead and isolated her by herself in our hotel room and she's under quarantine.


WANG: Now Kara Eaker along with a close contact another alternate on the U.S. women's gymnastics team are both isolating. I also spoke to USA Gymnastics who said that the alternate as well as the Olympic competitors have been competing separately trainings - have been training separately, and that the Olympic competitors are going to continue with training and preparations that has not been disrupted.

And John, this adds to the growing list of COVID-19 cases linked to these Tokyo games now 61 with athletes, officials, contractors testing positive but IOC officials John have been playing down these numbers think that it's lower than what they expected.

But John 80,000 Olympic participants expected to come into Japan for these games. And the question is can they continue to keep these cases contained once when they've all arrived?

And Courtney Gauff, she is not the first athlete to have their Olympic dreams dashed by COVID-19, and certainly won't be the last. There are now several high profile athletes that have pulled out of these games or who are staying away from these games because of testing positive for COVID-19 or because they're concerned about the COVID-19 restrictions, or because the lack of spectators John not anyone's ideal here.

KING: Not ideal at all Selina Wang grateful for the live reporting on this thing, we know you'll keep us in touch in the very dicey days ahead. Let's bring it now to share his expertise and his insights Dr. Jonathan Reiner, Professor of Medicine and Surgery at George Washington University.

And Dr. Reiner, I bring you and I just want to show our viewers look, you see the increase in COVID around the world, the orange and the red are the worst. But even in these countries where you see the beige color that means they're increasing just modestly right now.

So you have COVID on the increase around the world. And you have in Japan, an increasing case up 98 percent from the first of July 2990 cases in the country of Japan on Sunday. Dr. Reiner, you were here 10 days ago, and you said they should not hold these Olympics that it was too dangerous. You just heard Selina Wang officials look at these numbers and they say, yes, we'll be on top of this. But they are making the case that the numbers are actually lower than they anticipated. Do you think this is being handled right?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE AND SURGERY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Well, I did think and I continue to think that these games should not be held. Right now the virus is surging in Japan; only 21 percent of the Japanese populations are fully vaccinated. So the viruses are ascendant in Japan.

And the other issue is they the Olympic Organizing Committee did not mandate vaccines for participants or our staff. So there are quite a few attendees who are unprotected. Now there are a lot of reasons why they didn't do that. But I don't think you can hold a game that requires tens of thousands of athletes and staff to come to a country with surging virus and not have every attendee vaccinated.

It's the wrong time to do it. This is kind of like trying to have a vacation during a hurricane. It's just it seems to me imprudent.

KING: We'll watch as it plays out grateful for your insights. I just want to bring you home after the situation here at home and this is the CDC's map of impunity transmission. And again, red and orange are bad. If you're blue, that means you have low.


KING: If you're yellow, moderate commission, Orange is substantial. Look at the high look at the middle of the country through Missouri down into Arkansas, Louisiana, look at Florida, almost entirely red. The rest of it is orange.

Dr. Reiner, we have - you heard the president just a short time ago says 40 percent of the cases last week came from just four states. You can see where the red is on this map. And you also have now the CDC said just last week or so, when kids go back to school in the fall, those who are not eligible to be vaccinated should wear masks, but those who have been vaccinated don't need them.

The American Academy of Pediatricians today said no, it believes everybody, everybody in schools, all the children should be masked to keep it safe. Dr. Fauci a short time ago here on CNN said, yes, I get it that confuses you.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: That does lead to some sort of confusion sometimes when people see an organization making one recommendation in general, for the whole country, and then local groups, local enterprises, local organizations, in order to get that extra step of safety, say something different. And you're right, that does indeed cause a bit of confusion.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: How do you think this should be handled, especially when you do see transmission in much of the country, not everywhere, but in much of the country, we do have a community transmission problem right now? We know about the nasty Delta variant, and then a couple of weeks in some places kids go back to school.

REINER: Right, so let's talk about schools first. First of all, no child under the age of 12 will be vaccinated in this country. And for that reason, every child attending school under the age of 12 should be masked. For adolescents over 12 still, only about a third of kids in this country have been vaccinated. So a lot of 12 plus year old kids will go to school unvaccinated.

And you know we don't have vaccine passports in this country. We don't have ways to truly identify who's vaccinated and who's not. For that reason, all children attending school over the age of 12 should be masked vaccinated or not.

For the population as a whole I supported relaxing mask standards for people who have been vaccinated because they were and remain very well protected against the old variants and the Delta variant. The problem is that Delta is very aggressive to people who are unvaccinated.

And I now think that all Americans in indoor public places should be vaccinated, not to protect those who are vaccinated, but to protect the unvaccinated. We can't have large part of our population unvaccinated and unmask it just doesn't work. It doesn't work for adults, and it won't work for kids.

KING: But that's a change that's a change from you will see the government - now you believe that just keep your mask on because of the nasty Delta variant because of what we're seeing. Just keep your mask on even if you're vaccinated. I will go through more of the numbers right now.

There are nine states who have fully vaccinated they are still below 40 percent with Georgia 38, Alabama 34, Mississippi 34, Arkansas 35. You look at that right there and you talked about the nasty Delta variant.

I want you to listen to Dr. Scott Gottlieb here, who says, look, you should - if you're one of these people or if you're anywhere you still haven't gotten a vaccine, think twice because this Delta variant could be the worst healthcare crisis of your life.


DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: For most people who get this Delta variant, it's going to be the most serious virus that they get in their lifetime in terms of the risk of putting them in the hospital.


KING: There is no doubt about this, right? Dr. Reiner, if you look up right here, seven day average of new COVID cases up 66 percent since last week, hospitalizations, you see the trend line it is going up. COVID deaths sadly, trending up a little tiny bit and then this is its just boom up, up, up and vaccinations down. There is no doubt here right?

REINER: There is no doubt the virus is surging in this country in the unvaccinated population. That Delta virus - the Delta variant is not a threat to people in this country who have been vaccinated. And my change in trying to get everyone to mask now is not to protect the vaccinated they are already protected.

But to protect the unvaccinated if everyone in public indoors in public is masked, that will force the unvaccinated to protect them even if they won't do it voluntarily right now. You don't see anyone now indoors in a restaurant, another public place masked. And I know a large proportion of those folks out in public are unvaccinated.

This is a way to get unprotected people to at least have a modicum of protection. While we try and understand how we can get more of them vaccinated.

KING: That's fascinating advice. We'll see how the government responds hearing it; Dr. Reiner, grateful for your time as always. Up next for us, back to what we heard the president about the top of the hour.

REINER: Thank you.

KING: Thank you, sir. Testing time for the Biden agenda, the Senate Majority Leader says it is time to vote.



KING: This shapes up as a giant week for the Biden Presidency. Tuesday, tomorrow marks six months in office. Wednesday, barring some last minute change the Senate will advance or dash the big pieces of the Biden agenda.

The Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wants the key vote Wednesday on a bipartisan infrastructure framework. And he set the same Wednesday deadline for consensus within his caucus on a bigger Democrats' only spending plan they call human infrastructure.

Right now, you might say disagreement is winning. Republicans nixed a key mechanism to help pay for the bipartisan framework and say they will not vote to advance the legislation for debate until talks are done and they can see the deal in writing.

And Democrats are divided on how to fit everything they want under $3.5 trillion budget umbrella? With me in studio to share their reporting and their insights CNN's Lauren Fox Toluse Olorunnipa of "The Washington Post" Julie Pace of "The Associated Press" and the Wall Street Journal's Michael bender. He also is the author of the new best seller.

[12:20:00] KING: Frankly, we did win this election, the inside story of how Trump lost could see everybody at the table. Mr. Bender, we'll get to the grave book in just a few minutes. Let's start with what the president said just moments ago.

You have some great new reporting about how delicate this is the bipartisan infrastructure framework. The president of the White House, just at the top of the hour said, hey, you got to get this done, because we had to deal.


BIDEN: Whenever different views some might have on current price increases, we should be united one thing. Passage to the bipartisan infrastructure framework, which we shook hands on. We shook hands.


KING: He - that's old school, we shook hands, therefore you have an obligation to get it done.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's exactly right. And not just we shook hands on the obligation to get it done. But we shook hands on a deal. And now parts of that deal are falling apart. The key one, of course, how to finance this how to pay for it?

Republicans because of some conservative pushback are arguing that then IRS enforcement provision which of course, just gave more money to that entity to try to go after people who had unpaid taxes. Republicans decided they didn't want that in there anymore. And that's part of the scramble right now.

How do you replace that financing? I think one thing that's important is that the bipartisan group has been kind of quiet. They haven't been, you know, really attacking each other over the fact that this negotiation is starting to fall apart. The president made it very clear there. He's a little frustrated, a little disappointed.

KING: Well, he's - president is frustrated with them. Listen to the Republicans here. Chuck Schumer decided middle last week; I'm going to call a vote on Wednesday. Republicans say a vote on what?


SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R-OH): Chuck Schumer with all due respect is not writing the bill, nor is Mitch McConnell, by the way. So that's why we shouldn't have an arbitrary deadline of Wednesday, we should bring the legislation forward when it's ready.

SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R-LA): How can I vote for cloture when the bill isn't written? Unless you want program failure, unless Senator Schumer doesn't want this to happen you need a little bit more time to get it right.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Democrat Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland said earlier on air; I don't think Wednesday is a magic day. We're going to have to blink here.

JULIE PACE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF & ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, ASSOCIATED PRESS: He might I mean, he's playing hardball right now. He is trying to push this forward. Because to Lauren's point, you know, every day that goes by there's another possibility for this deal to fall apart.

There are a lot of ways in which it could particularly because there isn't actually legislative text right now. We don't really know what we're - what we're dealing with in terms of specifics. And the margins are so small for Democrats.

So Schumer wants to keep accelerating this process. He wants to keep moving it forward. He knows if this drags out longer. There'll be more possibilities, but it does collapse. I do think for Democrats, though some Democrats look at that Joe Biden comment where he says, hey, we shook hands, they say that is part of Joe Biden's problem.

He is old school he thinks these Republicans are playing a game that a lot of them are not playing anymore.

MICHAEL BENDER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: I feel like this thing could come together and fall apart 10 more times over the next few days, right? And you described it as a kind of old school messaging here from Biden. And it has an old school feel here.

It's a good reminder that in an age of in Washington, where we're messaging is so much more important than policymaking. The deal making is hard, right? And it takes singular focus to get big deals like this done.

KING: In the Trump Presidency I said this this morning, it was repeal and replace Obamacare. That was a signature Republican initiative. It wasn't just the candidate for president, his party said you give us power we will repeal and replace, they failed and they failed miserably. This is a test for Biden and the Democrats. He ran saying we will do infrastructure. He ran saying I will be bipartisan.

but he also ran on what will be we don't know the exact pieces, but we know the core elements, whether it's climate, whether it's human infrastructure, like child care, or care for elderly people, other health for education, that's all supposed to be part of this reconciliation bill, as they call it. Sorry, we're going to be going through this for a couple of weeks at home, the language of Washington.

Amy Klobuchar suggested yesterday, maybe we can do some of our voting and election stuff in there.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Election infrastructure could actually be in the Democratic package. And that's part of the solution, what you can do with infrastructure, which is not in the bipartisan package and I'm glad they're continuing to negotiate and make progress. What you can do is put election infrastructure in there. You could tie it to certain things as incentives for states to do same day registration to do the mail-in balloting.


KING: That substance is important to Democrats. But beyond the substance that is one of the reasons Schumer wants votes. Because the longer things - as long as negotiation is open, you've got an idea. You've got an idea. You've got an idea. You've got an idea, and you got to fit it under a certain price tag. So everything that's added somebody has to do some subtraction.

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, the definition of infrastructure continues to expand and it's been expanding for weeks now. And it's pretty clear that it is going to continue to expand until they come up with legislation and they write this bill and everyone can read it.

One of the other reasons that Schumer feels the need to move forward is you know he has an election coming up in 2022. He has some pressure from his progressive wing. Progressive say why are you spending all this time all this political capital, focusing on Republicans? They're not going to be with you in the end. Let's just move this thing forward.


OLORUNNIPA: And I think that's some of the impetus behind his desire to go ahead and put this to the floor in part because he knows a lot of progressive want him to move as quickly as possible.

KING: I'm a big fan of vote. So I think you've flush things out when you vote. So it'd be interesting to see if we get that in the weeks ahead. There is quick programming note get to hear from the president directly. President Joe Biden joins CNN's Don Lemon for an exclusive CNN Presidential Town Hall that's live Wednesday night. That's a big Wednesday, July 21st, right here at 8 pm.

And up next for us the new Trump books are full of explosive details. So why are we learning all this now?