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Jobs Report: Strong but Slower Growth as Unemployment Dips; CNN Poll: Only 29 Percent of Americans Say U.S. Economy is in Good Health; CNN Poll: Half of Americans say they're Worse Off now than a Year Ago; TN GOP Ousts Two Black Democrats Over Gun Reform Protests; CNN: Biden Expressing "No Urgency" to Formally Launch 2024 Bid. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired April 07, 2023 - 12:00   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Hello, and welcome to "Inside Politics". I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your day with us. And today a new jobs report that seems well just right. Hiring cool, somebody is still strong, and the unemployment rate matches a 50 year low.

It's just one month but it's a report that tracks the Fed's blueprint for timing inflation yet, some new CNN poll numbers we'll share with you tell us most of you still see the economy as weak. And half of you tell us your bottom line is worse today than a year ago.

Plus his timeline and no one else's Joe Biden delays big choices about 2024 who to lead his campaign? Where to put the headquarters and when to make his reelection beneficial? And isn't a moment or movement? Republicans exile two of Tennessee's youngest black lawmakers from the State House over a protest demanding stricter gun laws.


JUSTIN JONES, (D) EXPELLED TENNESSEE STATE REPRESENTATIVE: They thought they won today but they don't realize - they don't realize they started. They started the movement they can't stop rather than pass laws that will address red flag and banning assault weapons and universal background checks. They passed resolutions to expel their colleagues. And they think that the issue is over. We'll see you on Monday.


KING: Back to that story in just a moment. But up first two important new reads of the American economy. A new jobs report released today shows a quite healthy economy perhaps cooling a bit. And a new CNN poll that tells us most of you still see a glass at least half empty and still worry things are going to get worse before your bottom line gets better.

We'll get to your doubts in just a moment. First, the new numbers that for at least a month are in sync with the Fed strategy to steer the economy to what the economists call a soft landing. 236,000 jobs added last month that's a solid number. But as you can see, it's much cooler than January's blockbuster 472,000 new jobs.

Unemployment down to 3.5 percent even as more people come off the sidelines and look for work and wages are growing yes, but at a slower pace now than last month. Again, this is a one month snapshot. But the numbers here are consistent with the Fed hope through its interest rate hikes of carefully walking the economy to a cool down that moderates inflation without stalling things into recession.

With me here in studio to share their reporting and their insights CNN's Arlette Saenz, Laura Barron-Lopez of the PBS News Hour, Punch Bowl's Heather Caygle, and Jeanna Smialek, of "The New York Times" Jeanna, also the author of a great new book "Limitless: The Federal Reserve takes on a new era of crisis".

And to that point, let's start with you. If you are at the Fed today, and you read this one report, there have been some in previous months that have disappointed the Fed. This one, if you're at the Fed says, OK, this might be working for anything in there that jumps out at you as a warning sign, or is this what they've been looking for? Still robust job growth, but not crazy job growth and wages up but the pace of the increase is down?

JEANNA SMIALEK, FEDERAL RESERVE & ECONOMY REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, I think this is the dream. This looks like and across the board exactly what the Fed has been looking for kind of jobs report. We saw signs that labor supply are coming back.

We saw workers coming back in from the sidelines, which is good news, because it means that when employers are looking around and trying to find people to hire those people are available, we saw signs that wage growth is moderating which the Fed is going to take is great news, because it means that there's just that much less pressure out in the economy when it comes to inflation.

And I think that, you know the steady cool down in job gains is exactly what they're hoping for, too. That said, all of this is super complicated by the fact that we've just had these big, big blow ups. And that is going to make this a much more difficult picture going forward for the Fed.

KING: Right. So it's interesting, it's much more complicated picture economically. It's also part of I think what you see as the political disconnect, I want to look a little bit at some of our polling because you have a historically low 50 year low in unemployment.

You have jobs being created again, again, cooling, so it's still 200,000 plus jobs, it's good. But if you look at this, only 29 percent of Americans Arlette says the economy is in good health right now. 29 percent say its good 71 percent say it's poor.

You could say that's an improvement if you look back at last May and last July, the poor number was in the high 70s in the low 80s. But your President planning to seek reelection, we'll get to the pieces of that piece of it later. But from an economic perspective, how does the White House explain the numbers - a lot of the data is good people still feel bad?


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And that's really the challenge that they face at this moment is trying to convince people that even though they may be feeling the economy is not that great for them personally. There are still are these signs that have shown some growth in the economy that ultimately will affect voters.

You know the White House was eyeing this number. It fell in line with what the economists and what with the White House was hoping to look towards. But I think one thing that you see from this White House is they're trying to figure out their messaging around all of this.

So much of what Biden is focusing on in these past few weeks, and this upcoming week, is trying to remind people of the legislation that they put it in or got it signed into law, and the way that that's going to affect people when it comes to manufacturing jobs when it comes to clean energy investments.

You know, one thing that White House officials continually try to stress is that a lot of what the President's been trying to promote are these jobs that don't necessarily require a four year college degree. They can go through other training programs. And those are areas that the White House are trying to sell to Americans as they're looking at their own pocketbooks and not always feeling so great about it.

KING: And so circle back to you for a second because the President can have his plans, the Fed has a lot more influence over the economy of the databases. We asked in our new poll, releasing this hour economic conditions a year from now. 39 percent four in ten Americans say there'll be good 61 percent still say they will be poor.

That is inflation. That is the banking crisis and volatility there. This is one month's report. Should the American people - are those numbers - we're going to have a roller coaster, is it going to continue? So you still get that? Or is there any evidence that we're at finally, in a place now where next month will be like last month, the month after that some consistency?

SMIALEK: You know, I think that consistency would probably not be the good bet at this stage, it's pretty clear that the banking crisis is going to have knocked on effects to the economy. We just don't know how severe yet. And so we could be in for quite a bumpy ride.

We also have a lot of Fed action over the past year that is only now slowly feeding into the economy. Most people are pretty aware that interest rates have gone up quite a lot. And that is now sort of weighing on the housing market. It's weighing on hiring.

I'm talking to a lot of manufacturers and building contractors. And they're saying, you know, we're really rethinking our hiring plans. And so I think we're in for a bumpy ride, whether that bumpy ride is bad enough to tip us into a recession, I think is the open question at this stage.

KING: So that's the open question. And one of the other variables out there is the political leadership, the debt ceiling. It's one of the things Congress has to do in conjunction with the President. They have to do it in the next couple of months.

We had Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase interview with Poppy Harlow on CNN primetime last night, he says, ladies and gentlemen, get this done and get it done right because--




DIMON: The only question is how close they get to it before they do it. Because you'll feel the pain before it happens.

HARLOW: How much pain even if we don't default, or if we get to the brink?

DIMON: I think it's a bad idea. And you know, our government debt can be downgraded again, this economy is the pillar of the world economy.


KING: Very smart voice on the economy there. He says overall, things look pretty good. Overall, he thinks we can avoid a recession. But this is one of the things that could throw it off the track. Fresh reporting today on the Republicans still divided over their strategy. Still aren't sure when they will have a budget. President Biden says I'll sit down with you. But you have to bring your plan on paper where we go in here.

HEATHER CAYFLE, MANAGING EDITOR, PUNCHBOWL NEWS: Right. So I checked in with the White House this week I checked in with McCarthy's office, I think the White House, they feel pretty good about where they are.

They think that McCarthy has not put enough meat on the bones, so to speak, for them to like to force the White House's hand. They're waiting for McCarthy, Speaker McCarthy to put something else out there to say this is how we would cut spending, and this is what we'd actually do.

And of course, McCarthy hasn't done that yet. Because as you pointed out his conference has, he can only lose four votes on the floor, right? So that's a huge hurdle for him. I think what we'll see when the House comes back in a couple of weeks, is McCarthy and his allies are starting to talk about they're not - they're unlikely to do a budget at this point.

But they're starting to talk about a bill that would at least temporarily raise the debt ceiling to give them a little bit more time to negotiate or putting something out into the universe that would raise the debt ceiling. But here are the cuts that we want alongside it. And then I think the White House might have to do something. And maybe that would be Biden and McCarthy meeting again, because they haven't spoken since February 1st.

KING: And the White House is confident that if the economy goes into turmoil because they failed to raise the debt ceiling or the process, at least just since uncertainty in the financial markets, the White House is pretty confident Republicans will take the blame.

But I guess are we certain of that we also asked in our poll, and half of Americans say right now they're worse off than a year ago, you better off 17 percent or you're worse off 50 percent about the same 33 percent.

If you're a politician, you're going to be on the ballot next year. That feeling whether you're if you're President Biden, obviously you're running for president, you're the incumbent, but if you're the House Republicans and you have the majority, you're accountable for that feeling too.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. And so who exactly are the voters going to blame? And as you said, John, the White House right now, even on a potential short term increase of the debt limit, they're saying, we're not - we're not playing ball there.


You know, they say we either do a full increase to the debt limit, or we don't right now and they've held that line for months and they're continuing to hold it because they really feel always though the public will ultimately be on their side if this showdown gets really down to the wire.

And again as Heather said there is no indication right. Really feel as though the public will ultimately be on their side if this showdown gets really down to the wire, and again, as Heather said, there's no indication right now that whether it's on a short term increase a longer term increase to the debt limit, or even what exactly the cuts would be the spending cuts would be that Republicans are aligned at all on any of them.

KING: Oh, it's a fascinating moment. We'll see next month what the jobs report says. And by then maybe, maybe some of this will be resolved, I guess probably not. Right they're going to go its Washington; they'll go right up to the deadline. That's what we do here.

Up next, we go live to Nashville; Republicans expelled two young black lawmakers from the Tennessee House for staging a gun safety protest. A white colleague survives her expulsion vote. All three Democrats though promise their fight for change is just beginning.


KING: New developments now in a remarkable showdown over gun reform in Tennessee.


Republicans in the State House expelled two black Democratic colleagues because those black lawmakers disrupted legislative proceedings to demand changes to gun laws. Today one of the expelled lawmakers promises this fight will continue.


JONES: What they're trying to do is to bring us back to days that we don't want to go to. If I didn't know this happen to me, I would think that this was 1963 instead of 2023. We'll continue to lift up the issue and we'll continue to speak truth to power. And I'll be back at the Capitol on Monday on the outside with those protesting demanding action from my former colleagues.


KING: Justin Jones, who you saw right there who's calling Justin Pearson, they were expelled a white democratic colleague was also threatened with expulsion, but she kept her seat by just one vote. And she says she has no doubt why.


REP. GLORIA JOHNSON (D-TN): I'm six year old white woman, and they are two young black men. I am listening to the questions and the way they were questioned. And the way they were taught to. I was talked down to as a woman man explain to, but it was completely different from the questioning that they got.


KING: CNN's Ryan Young has been tracking this story. He's live for us in Nashville right now. Ryan, what next?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That is the big question right now, John, but everyone is telling us they plan to fight this all the way through. I think Monday is going to be just as big as yesterday was.

This was amazing yesterday, when you talk about the number of people who showed up to this Statehouse to have their voices heard. Some protesters were here for a full eight hours making sure that every time lawmakers took a vote, their voices were heard.

But the two men that you're talking about the two young lawmakers, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, I talked to both of them and they look directly into the camera both times basically saying this fight is only energize them to be back here at the Statehouse to make sure their voices are heard.

We heard from so many white people from here in Tennessee, who were very upset about how they were being treated. And you heard Representative Johnson kind of referring to that almost feeling like the way everyone was treated was quite different, especially in the Statehouse. And that was the thing that was front and center. There were people who were born and raised in Tennessee, who were embarrassed by what took place here just yesterday that Republican lawmakers know these two might be back on Monday.

They also have plans for it. They said they hope they come back and have some integrity while they're in this Statehouse. But when you think about the reason why they were thrown out of this Statehouse is comes down to decorum, a procedural matter.

The fact that they went down onto the floor and use a bullhorn to fight for gun rights and a lot of people right now are shaking their head, John, they can't believe we are here. Some lawmakers today held a news conference and compare this to a Jim Crow era trial. And those words are something that's very hard to use, especially in the south. So you can understand there are some broad motions here in this state.

KING: Ryan Young, grateful you're on the ground for us. We will watch as this story remarkable story plays out. Ryan, thank you. Let's bring the conversation back in the room with our great reporters. There's no question. They have national attention now.

I'll read you a tweet from the President of the United States Joe Biden, three kids and three officials gunned down in yet another mass shooting and what our GOP officials focused on punishing lawmakers who joined thousands of peaceful protesters calling for action?

It's shocking, undemocratic, and without precedent, precedent. So you have an action in the state first approach. First, the protests and then the lawmakers deciding and yes, they broke the rules. They took it to the floor of the house. They used a bullhorn. The question is does the punishment fit the crime?

I think the bigger question is, we've seen this after pass mass shootings after past tragedies where you have these moments where you think maybe a breakthrough you see the activism, you see people on the streets, in this case, people at the Statehouse does it last? And does the President's attention and their plans to come back in Tennessee, just the combination? Does it get to any tipping point?

LOPEZ: It appears as though those lawmakers, the Democratic lawmakers in Tennessee, the ones that were expelled and the third one that was not, don't appear to be shying away from this fight at all. And they say that they're going to run again and try to regain their seats, again, to represent their constituents and really focus on this.

I think that we saw a lot of anger from those young students and potentially young voters there in Tennessee who is really demonstrating that this is an issue that is not going to go away for them that this is about their livelihoods.

And we've seen in election after election, that Millennials and Gen Z voters overwhelmingly by a majority vote for Democrats. Now whether or not that's enough to impact the balance of power in Tennessee? It may be unlikely this next election cycle, but I think it's something that is demanding more attention from those Republican lawmakers. KING: You raise a great question about the exercise of power now versus an eye on the future because the demographics of the country are just changing. And you go state by state its different state by state. Tennessee is a ruby red Republican state.

You have a Republican Governor. You have obviously large majorities in the legislature but let's just look at the Justin Jones and Justin Pearson again. Two young black in the state legislature expelled. Gloria Johnson as she's described it herself she's an older white woman she thinks she survived by just one vote because of that.


The Tennessee Republicans are showing no qualms about using their power because they haven't today. The question is, is that a good look, if you want to be - if you want to be a majority party next year, the year after that 10 years from now, as your state population changes? Is this a good look?

CAYGLE: Yes, I don't think that they're really looking down the road. And you know it's a great question you asked John, because I'm from the south. And every time I go home, I see the politics shifting. Now, Republicans still have very strong power centers in the south.

But a lot of these young said - young Americans are moving back down to Atlanta, to Charlotte to Birmingham to Nashville, they vote Democratic most often, like Laura said. And you know they're going to continue to raise her voice.

And we've seen this movement in the Democratic Party with these younger, more liberal members who aren't afraid to take Republicans on their own turf on these culture war issues and a really painting a playbook for other Democrats, older ones who had typically shied away from this.

KING: I guess they broke the rules. They broke decorum on the floor, and they should, you know, they're obviously subject to sanction for that. The question is do you expel them? Or do you just take that off the committee send somebody to an ethics committee.

We saw this in 2016. We saw it sitting in the United States Congress over this you see the pictures right there. They didn't use a bullhorn, I guess, but they certainly weren't expelled by their colleague's peaceful protests as a cherished place in American society. I guess the question is, is this an overreaction or?

SAENZ: Well, in this moment, really, also, I think what's so striking about the scenes that have played out is just how animated all of these protesters have been. And it's expected to continue into Monday.

And you know, one thing that President Biden has said is that he feels he's done all the he can on with the executive action on gun reform, and he is really has pushed for people to make these public movements to really try to amplify that pressure. And this is just one of those examples of where that could help a bit. But in a state like Tennessee, it may not overarching really have that big of an impact. LOPEZ: On Biden and I guess the thing is, is how much is he going to lean into gun rights? And how much is he going to lean into abortion heading into 2024? Because to me, you look at what's happening in Tennessee and it also when you talk about the potential political ramifications for Republicans in the future, the Wisconsin Supreme Court race this past week, and how they leaned heavily into anti- abortion and they lost politically.

KING: Right. Can they motivate the right people in the right places are the challenge for both parties heading 24? Up next, we follow up on that very conversation new CNN reporting why President Biden is waiting and may keep waiting a while to officially jump into the 2024 race?



KING: We want to share some new reporting from our CNN White House team now on why President Biden has not declared he's running for reelection. The plan remains to seek reelection as one Democratic advisor tells our colleagues "Biden is not ambivalent about serving a second term. But he's in no rush to be a candidate again". What's the upside? That advisor asks.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny is part of this reporting and joins our conversation. We were led to believe late last year at the beginning of this year, if the announcer would come early. Now they think the way the climate has evolved late, why?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It's a combination of a lot of things. One is Joe Biden. He's not known to rush any decision. He's known to take his sweet time. It's happened in every presidential decision he's made are let remember as well, covering him back in 2019.

But he did get in April that year. In 2015 he was deciding on running then it was too late. But look at the adviser who said that quote that you just said to me said what is the upside? And that is really the central point here.

There is no upside necessarily of the President jumping in at this point. If he's running, but Democrats still have that question. If he doesn't, is he putting them in a box here by not having a robust campaign? But look, a lot of this is he wants to govern. He's wanted this job for so long. He wants to be in the job. But of course, he does envision a second term, there's just no urgency at all were told about him focusing on announce.

KING: And so because of the point you just made, and because they set the expectation this announcement would come in the spring, the fact that it's been delayed. There's no indication this is true, but there is whispering in Washington. Well, what if at the last minute he decides to back out? Is he just holding out so that he can help Harris nobody else can run? He's going to run right? LOPEZ: I mean, I think yes. You know, without having spoken to the President and himself. No, I think that everyone I talked to inside the White House is like, look, he's going to do it. It's just he's going to do it when he wants to.

And, of course, the longer he takes John to your point, there are rumblings and there are Democrats who get unsteady and they get cold feet and they want you know, they want certainty and they want to know that they are on good footing heading into this next election cycle, especially when the margin is still very slim in the Senate. And when they are hopeful, you know that they could potentially win back control of the House.

KING: And there are Democrats telling the Iowa Democratic Party the Michigan Democratic Party and the New Hampshire Democratic Party, if you need a fundraiser I'll come I'm for Joe Biden, mind you I'm for Joe Biden, mind you, but if you need somebody help raise the money. I'll pop around just in case that's what's happening in this vacuum.

Another piece Arlette you're part of this reporting as well, I just read this. Why not just let the Republicans tried out crazy each other for a little while asked one Former White House Official, is that part of it that you have Trump out there? He's also happens to be under indictment now. You have DeSantis trying to test himself he hasn't announced yet. You have a couple other declared candidates and a few others dancing around.