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Inside Politics

Biden Tells CNN Town Hall He will get a Deal on His Agenda; Biden Outlines Deals at CNN Town Hall 4 Weeks Paid Parental Leave, No Free College, Medicare Expansion "A Reach"; Biden: Sinema Doesn't Want to "Raise a Single Penny in Taxes"; Biden: "I Guess I Should Go Down" to U.S.-Mexico Border; Pfizer: Vaccine 90.7 Percent Effective in Children Ages 5-11. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired October 22, 2021 - 12:00   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome to "Inside Politics". I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your day with us.

Full disclosure, President Biden puts just about everything on the table at a CNN Town Hall. The president says he believes the deal will get done but the obstacles are still big and the dynamics well, difficult.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: When you're in the United States Senate, and you're President of the United States, you have 50 Democrats everyone is a president. Every single one, so you got to work things out.


KING: Plus, an important headline for parents today. Pfizer says its COVID vaccine for kids is safe, and 90 percent effective against the virus. And a shouting match in the House floor an ultimatum to Republican consultants and more. In just one day, several eye popping episodes from House Republicans.

Up first though, candor and certainty from the President of the United States at a CNN Town Hall last night. On stage in Baltimore, President Biden walking through the details, big details, on policy, on politics and on the personalities that are as yet unsettled in his big push to rewire how the government works for you asked again and again if he would get a deal the president projecting optimism.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Are you close to a deal?

BIDEN: I think so. You know, look, I've been - I was a Senator for 370 years. I was never - I was relatively good at putting together deals.

COOPER: Do you think you'll have a deal by the time you get on Air Force One in 8 days?

BIDEN: You know, it's like my asking you are you sure your next show is going to be a success?

COOPER: Bottom line, do you think you will get a deal?

BIDEN: I do think I'll get a deal.


KING: This morning the president had breakfast with the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Senate Majority Leader joining in via Zoom. Their task is to help the president find the finish line. Thursday, the president shared a ton of insight information and he shared his optimism of reaching what he called "A bigger darn deal than Obamacare".

The president did list four or five areas that's a quote from him, four or five where he where he says the big divides remain they are climate, paid leave Medicare expansion, drug pricing and revenue. So let's discuss.

With me in studio to share their reporting and their insights CNN's Lauren Fox, Astead Herndon of "The New York Times" Seung Min Kim of "The Washington Post", and CNN's Kaitlan Collins. I will start with you, remarkable in the detail. The president essentially decided I've been in weeks of meetings about the details and all the horse trading now I'm going to go public, and lay it out.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And this is often a characteristic of the president is that when you ask him a question; he usually pretty directly answers it. And he revealed a lot more last night in these negotiations than we had we had an indication of where this was where the talk stood, what the sticking points were?

But the president laid out pretty specifically what the issues were saying that Senator Sinema has told him point blank, she is not going to be supportive of raising taxes on corporations. She is not supportive of the Medicare expansion on the level that you've seen Senator Bernie Sanders reveal it.

And so they keep saying they're not going to negotiate in public. But the president was pretty specific last night about what they need to get done. I think it casts some doubt on the idea that they could get a framework by the end of the day, potentially they could. They are certainly working on it.

But it does reveal really how these negotiations have gone on and the momentum that they've picked up this week?

KING: And so let's walk through some of the details. And it's interesting, our Hill team reports that after leaving the White House at breakfast, Speaker Pelosi was up on the House and having a vote, she was down on the floor. And they said they saw a lot of energy, a lot of conversations with people. So let's see they're trying to get to a framework, not going to have this deal negotiate to try to get to a framework by the end of the day. We'll see we'll keep an eye on that. It's a steep hill. So let's listen to a bit last night. This is the president talking about the conversations.

And you know, the president's admitting right here, particularly on the issue of paid parental leave, he says I wanted one thing, but hey, we're working it out. I've had to roll it back.


COOPER: How much time off would parents actually get under your proposal because at one point, you talked about 12 weeks now there's reports it's down to maybe four weeks?

BIDEN: Yes, it is down four weeks, and the reason is down to four weeks, I can't get 12 weeks.

COOPER: One of the other things that Democrats are looking to do is to expand Medicare to include dental, vision and hearing as well. Given all the negotiations that are going on, will all three of those still be covered?

BIDEN: That's a reach Mr. Manchin, and one other person, as indicated they will not support free community college.


KING: It's interesting Seung Min because we don't often we always say don't know how you make the sausage. The president was right there. The president of that town hall stage last night was sort of taking us inside of his meetings. And, and you know, I had to give up this to get that and I'm still working on Senator Manchin and I think we know who one other person is?

SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Right. I think the next time I read a --, I need to just call up Joe Biden directly and get the inside details. But it was really remarkable how candid he was in his negotiations and the difficulty that he has, even though he is in the White House and there is a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate.

Just how much of a struggle is when you only have 50 votes in the Senate, which means any person can be the kingmaker or the queen maker in these negotiations. But it does seem like a sense that there's close and I think what's putting the pressure on the White House and lawmaker right now is just the timing.


KIMG: One thing that was really interesting to me earlier this week was how explicit President Biden was to members of Congress about how he wants a plan a deal, a framework in hand before he goes to COP26, the big climate summit next week in Glasgow? And that's important for him, it's important to the United States credibility of the world. And I think Democratic lawmakers got that message. And part of that is why they're scrambling so quickly.

KING: That's an interesting point, though, instead, because one of the conversations of the Democratic family is incredibly diverse. Younger members and older members, people from the coasts and the other people from different parts of the country where the economic conversations are very different.

So there's legitimate disagreement on some of the policy details, not just because it's liberal conservative, because it's somebody from New York versus somebody from Texas versus somebody from California, or Joe Manchin, from West Virginia.

But the president is actually now saying point of pride for the party. This has gotten messy, I'm going out on the world stage, we're getting near the end of the year, there's a big congressional recess coming up on the calendar too, time to do it.

ASTEAD HERNDON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: He's using that as a catalyst for his own party, because as you say, there's so much ideological diversity among Democrats. And that 50/50 split gives all those people in power.

But we know that the president is trying to lean on that to kind of push folks that Glasgow Summit is one where, as you mentioned, that is the credibility of the United States, particularly on climate change. A central issue is on the line.

They're sick of seeing executive actions, folks want to see legislature and we know that Manchin has been has they've had to modify that clean energy standard that they had in there. And that's going to continue on a whole host of issues.

But I think we now have a president in the White House that is sick of talking about what they're cutting from these bills over and over and over and is trying to push their caucus to say what let's get something done. So we can talk about what we are delivering after summer where we have just gone, as he said from 12 weeks to four weeks from of 30 trillion to 1.5 trillion. It's getting smaller and smaller. They want to be able to talk about what they're bringing forward?

KING: And that's important, especially if you look at the polling, the president's approval rating down are only I think in our last poll, only 25 percent of Americans think they're going to personally benefit from this.

So it has gotten lost in the price tag. And in the Washington, Washington Speak, if you will, but the set you walk the Hill every day, the president I almost called him Senator, he said he was a Senator for 370 years it was 37 not 370.

But he's you know, everybody in Congress is a president right now, because they have so huge despairs, zero in the Senate, only a few in the House. So on the subject of Joe Manchin, look, the president Joe Manchin, I've known each other for a long time, the president says, especially this is my translating. I know House liberals, you know, are furious at him, but we're going to get there.


BIDEN: Joe is not a bad guy. He's a friend. And he's always the end of the day come around and voted for it. But there's a lot of things Joe is open to my convincing him that I can use it to increase environmental progress without it being that particular deal.


KING: Now, that is the West Virginia piece there that Joe Manchin says no, I'm the Senator from coal country, I won't do the big, progressive, dramatic things progressives want to do and that President Biden wanted to do. But the president seems confident, Lauren, that he can get a compromise even on a climate package that will be at least enough for the progressives to say it's a down payment.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think where the president has gotten Joe Manchin, up to this point? Joe Manchin didn't want to do anything. He's sitting right around $1.5 trillion in programming here.

And yes, there is the sense that there is a way to thread this needle on climate with Joe Manchin. They are trying to figure out how to repurpose some of the money they were going to use for one energy initiative, whether they can use some kind of tax incentive to make sure that that money gets used still to deal with climate change.

But it is one of the remaining sticking issues. And it may be a smaller issue than that larger revenue issue that we talked about earlier, which is a problem for Senator Kyrsten Sinema.

KING: Right. And to that point, she is perhaps even more the Enigma, more the mystery here because she negotiates very differently than Senator Manchin who is out publicly every day, sort of saying, here's my line, or here's what I don't like, as I do like.

He's been very public and doing negotiating with the White House. Senator Sinema came up last night and listen to the president she is interesting.


BIDEN: First of all, she's smart is the devil, number one. Number two, she's very supportive of the environmental agenda in my legislation, very supportive. She's supportive of all almost all the things I mentioned relating to everything from a family care to all those issues, where she's not supportive. If she says she will not raise a single penny in taxes on the corporate side and or on wealthy people and so that's where it sort of breaks down.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: President says as a matter of fact that that's sort of where it breaks down. Reversing the Trump tax cuts on rich individuals and on corporations was the central theme of all the Democrats running for president. It was a central theme of all the Democrats when they took the House Majority back in 2018.

President says it matter of fact but that is a BFD to borrow his own language. And yet - and yet the president said being pragmatic, saying she won't do it. We have to find a workaround.

COLLINS: Yes, he was so candid last night and so realistic about where these negotiations stand? And you know calling Sinema as smart as the devil obviously she is someone who cannot afford to lose her vote. He's not going to come out there and criticize her though she has been a roadblock.


COLLINS: And he made that very clear last night that she has stood in the way and a lot of what how these negotiations have gone this week. I do think it's notable that if they get rid of the corporate tax rate increase, which of course we know, some progressives told you they believe that's outrageous, given it is something that they ran on. It is something that a lot of Democrats ran on that they've talked about --

KING: It falls off the charts.

COLLINS: And it polls really well, it's one of those popular components of the bill. And so the White House will lose that selling point when they - if they do make that agreement. But it seemed that president seemed to say last night this isn't on the table anymore.

KING: He what - he wants to do, and he's willing to give to get us what you can see. When we come back much more big takeaways, many of the big takeaways from the town hall last night, including the president's evolving position on the filibuster saying he's open to altering it. Plus, when might the price of gas drop? And will that holiday gift you ordered make it on time?



KING: We learned a ton new last night about how and when the president might push to change the Senate filibuster, not now was one answer, because the president said that would anger Democrats. He must have on board for the big legislation being worked on right now. But listen, listen, once those are signed into law, the president says things might be different.


BIDEN: If in fact, I get myself into at this moment, the debate on the filibuster, I lose it three at least three votes. Well, that remains to be seen exactly what that means in terms of fundamentally altering it. And whether or not we just end the filibuster straight up?

COOPER: When it comes to voting rights just I want to be clear, though, you would entertain the notion of doing away with the filibuster on that one issue? Is that correct?

BIDEN: And maybe more.

BIDEN: And maybe other issues.


KING: And maybe more, you know, how contentious of an issue this is among the Senators, he needs to vote for the spending plans. That was the inner voice coming out? Was he supposed to do that? Does it help or hurt?

FOX: Incredibly, revealing. I mean, that moment in particular, I can't talk about this right now. Because I might lose votes on this other thing that I have to get passed --

KING: Let me talk about.

FOX: I thought that that was an incredible and revealing moment. He might change his mind on the issue of the filibuster. I see no evidence at this point, that Joe Manchin will change his mind on the issue of the filibuster.

If pressure increases, if things change, Joe Manchin was critical and helping negotiate this latest version of the voting rights bill, perhaps that might change his mind. I know he was trying to sell it to Republicans; he obviously didn't succeed at that. Maybe that's some momentum. But at the end of the day, I just don't see the votes being there to actually change.

KING: But you do see just even in recent days, a lot of the voting rights groups and progressive groups saying, Mr. President, you need to get into this fight. And the president's argument has been I'm busy right now. I got to do this - these economic things. Is that enough to answer them? Or you make the key point even if the president says change it if the Democrats in the Senate say no, sir, where are we?

HERNDON: The folks who have been mad at the filibuster, the civil rights groups pushing voting rights legislation, they have one this moment from Joe Biden. They have wanted him to come out and say specifically, this was to partly put pressure on the Manchins and Sinemas and folks who are not supportive of ending the filibuster.

They see this as the next step, and what they think is going to be a longer fight to try to convince them. But I think we should also just say this is a concession on the president's part, which is reversed the stance from the trail?

I mean, I remember asking him at the time, how are you going to pass legislation that you know, Barack Obama couldn't pass or what is the universe where Republicans are going to work with you? And that's the time of him, but he was running their message was he was going to be able to convince people to come around that that there will be an epiphany after Donald Trump left office.

There last night is, is revealing a number of fronts, but I think it is clear that that epiphany is not coming and the president and the White House have had finally conceded.

KING: That epiphany is not coming. That is crystal clear. Another issue that came up was the supply chain issues across the country. You have, you know, ships off the ports, they can't get in this. This is COVID related, but it hurts the President of the United States. Listen to this answer. He says we'll figure out a way to get this done.


COOPER: Would you consider the National Guard to help with the supply chain issue?

BIDEN: Yes, absolutely, positively. I will do that.

COOPER: But you're actually talking about having National Guardsmen and women driving trucks?

BIDEN: The answer is yes if we can't move, the increased the number of truckers which were in the process of doing.


KING: The White House was quick after the town hall to try to clean that up a little bit, saying there's no active proposal on the table to use the National Guard.

COLLINS: No, it was still during the town hall president was still on the stage speaking and the White House reached out to say actually, we're not actively pursuing this idea. Obviously, it's up to states and governors, whether or not they deployed the National Guard?

But this is something that when they had that big meeting on the supply chain at the White House with a lot of these port operators, that they push for the president to do this, because they said it would help because they said it's not just a port issue.

It's not just getting these boats into the port and getting this freight off of here. It's the issue that with the truck drivers and the people who unload it. It's a bigger issue than this. I think the president was pretty revealing last night and how long he thinks it's going to last and it's not going to be over anytime soon.

I do think it's revealing that the White House was quick to say, we're actually not looking into that even though the president sounded very confident that it was something that is on the table. It's not something --

KING: The long term trajectory is correct, both economically and politically for the Democrats in the midterm year. President also says I think gas prices are going to go down for quite some time. Another answer that's being kicked around a lot today is when the president was asked about the border and about immigration, including whether he - why hasn't he gone to the border?


BIDEN: I've been there before and I haven't I mean, I know it well. I guess I should go down but the whole point of it is I haven't had a whole hell of a lot of time to get down.


KING: He's been president for what, 10 months now, nine months now. So there's the answer there. He doesn't want to talk about this just like he maybe shouldn't be talking about the filibuster.


KING: He wants to do one thing at a time. But that's just a horrible answer. And he also said he also said that his wife had been the first lady. She was that last there I think three years ago, before he was president.

KIM: Right. And also he neglected to mention in detail that this has been Vice President Kamala Harris's portfolio, she herself has gone to the border, and her office has released a report on the root causes and what not?

But yes, not a great answer for President Biden, obviously, the most valuable commodity for a president is time. But at the same time, it shows you where his priorities have been, his priorities have been, you know, pushing all his energy towards getting his domestic agenda in Congress.

You know, going to try to fix issues that are so vivid to everyday consumers like the supply chain issue, and like gas prices, but certainly this shows that he is going to have to come up with some a better answer for these types of queries.

KING: The border also happens to be critical to the supply chain. Number one, there's a lot of infrastructure along the border too. I suspect we're going to see the president there before long after that answer there. Coming after us, Pfizer says it's COVID vaccine is more than 90 percent effective in kids aged 5 to 11. A member of the FDA Vaccine Advisory Panel joins us next to explain when the government just might give the green light.



KING: Today Pfizer says it's Coronavirus vaccine is more than 90 percent effective and children ages 5 through 11. The data come just days before the FDA Vaccine Advisory Panels' Tuesday meeting to consider Pfizer's requests for authorization of that vaccine for kids again ages 5 to 11.

Also today tens of millions more Americans now eligible to receive a Moderna or Johnson & Johnson booster shot that after the CDC gave the green light yesterday. Let's get some important insights and expertise from Dr. Paul Offit. He's a Member of that FDA Advisory Vaccine Committee and the Director of Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Dr. Offit it's great to see you on this day. So Pfizer submitted this data to the panel, a 91 percent effective when you round up 2000 children in this clinical trial, three COVID-19 cases among those who received the vaccine 16 COVID-19 cases among the placebo group.

You have to look at this data and decide whether to recommend giving us the green light any questions in your mind? Or do you think that's going to come as early as next week?

DR. PAUL OFFIT, MEMBER, FDA VACCINE ADVISORY COMMITTEE: Well, so we're going to look through all the data, we get a large document that is submitted to us by the company; we get a large document that is submitted to us by the FDA, because the FDA also looks at those data very carefully.

And then we will consider it I mean, I can promise you that when we have this discussion that if we do end up recommending this vaccine, we would only do it if we would give it to our own children. The way that goes from there then is we were an advisory body we give advice.

Usually the FDA either accepts or doesn't accept that advice within a couple days. And then on November 2nd and 3rd that will go to the CDC. Remember the FDA is regulatory agency, the CDC is recommending body so it ultimately be up to the CDC to exactly describe exactly how they would recommend this vaccine if at all for this age group. We'll see.

KING: Walk us through how it works out? So I'm a parent of a 10 year old. I know parents all across the country saying can I finally get my kid who was back in school? I'd love to get he or she vaccinated. Walkthrough us the process any different than with your previous when you went through these other vaccines for adults of the different manufacturers?

I know in the case of Pfizer, for children, they say it'll be a smaller dose, anything different about the process so this one just happens to affect kids aged 5 to 11?

DR. OFFIT: Well, the numbers are smaller. I mean, when we reviewed for example, Pfizer's vaccine for adults, that was a 40,000 person trial. I'm here, you know, you're only talking about really a few 1000 children. So the question is, is that enough?

You know, when you look at data for a few 1000 children, you're about to make a recommendation for millions or tens of millions of children. And you want to make sure you have enough information to do that.

I mean, it's true that you never know everything. The question is when do you know enough? And that's going to be the question we're going to try and answer next Tuesday.

KING: That's the fascinating way to put it. I appreciate it. Let's move on to the bigger question of eligibility now for boosters. So Pfizer was first and if you haven't Pfizer vaccine, if you're 65, and older or 18 and older and a high risk, at least six months after your second dose, you're eligible for booster now.

The new decisions, the new green lights for Moderna vaccine recipients if you're 65 or older, again, 18 or older and a high risk group and you get that booster six months after your second dose. The booster shot for Moderna is a half dose and the J&J vaccine if you're 18 and over at least two months after the first shot.

What impact do you believe this will have on the COVID trend lines the dynamics? How important is it?

DR. OFFIT: Well, again, so that's the question. To what extent will we affect the arc of this pandemic by giving in the case of mRNA vaccines a third dose to people who have already had two? I can tell you that if you look at the intensive care units at the hospital, the University of Pennsylvania, which takes care of adults are in our hospital where we take care of children who can be vaccinated if they're over 12.

All those children and all those adults are in the intensive care unit, or they're not because they haven't gotten a third dose. They're there because they haven't gotten any doses. And I think if we're going to really have an impact on this pandemic, we're going to have to find a way to vaccinate the unvaccinated.

I mean, hopefully this - this booster dosing will affect a pandemic to some extent, but I really do think if we want to have a major impact, we're going to have to vaccinate the unvaccinated.

KING: You say find a way to vaccinate the unvaccinated. I just want to bring this up in this context. And here's where we are and the trend lines in terms of new COVID infections are getting better. 75,813 is your average as of yesterday. It was at the September high was above 172,000.

You say we need to find a way to vaccinate the unvaccinated. I don't want to get you involved in the politics here. But from a public health perspective, listen to one of the things the president said last night. The president says yes, he now supports mandates.