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Americans are Paying More; GOP Plotting Onslaught of Biden Probes; Ron Johnson's Re-Election Chances; Legend Joins List Selling Music Catalogs; Yankees Make Baseball History. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired January 13, 2022 - 06:30   ET



VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Charts up nearly 50 percent from a year ago. Same for furniture, up just over 17 percent, and food up 6.3 percent.

SUSAN KELLY, NYC GROCERY SHOPPER: What I used to buy, let's say last year, that would cost me around $50 in groceries, almost doubles right now.

YURKEVICH: And at the pump, prices soared to over $4 a gallon in some states, prompting President Biden to release 50 million barrels of oil from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve in November. Last month, gas prices dropped by 0.5 percent. But for this Lyft driver, he's still burning through gas to find customers and burning a hole in his wallet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just (INAUDIBLE) less. You have to drive too many miles to make less money. You spend too much on gas. The gas is like double now, you know? What I used to buy is now double.

YURKEVICH: And the higher prices are even scaring some drivers away. Tommy Hondros owns this gas station in lower Manhattan and says he used to have a line of cars.


YURKEVICH (on camera): One hundred and fifty.

HONDROS: Look how many I have now. Nothing. One. It's insane. I used to have people come and fill up. Now they're just, let me get $5. Let me get -- I've seen $2, on a vehicle.

YURKEVICH (voice over): Used car sales rose by 37 percent year over year as there were less new cars coming to market.

MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS: Court (ph) shutdown. Credit shortages of all kinds of things, from vehicles, to lumber, to clothing, and that caused the prices to rise.

YURKEVICH: And that trickled down to the cost of food. Groceries rose by 6.5 percent.

KELLY: It's a constant rejuggling of budgets to try to keep up with the food prices lately. Meats especially are increasingly expensive.

YURKEVICH: But the price of meat declined slightly last month from November by 0.4 percent. Same for fish and eggs. But for restaurants already struggling with labor shortages and a new omicron variant, taking on another battle of high food prices has been challenging.

BRET CSENCSITZ, MANAGING PARTNER, GOTHAM BAR AND GRILL: How the one week it's $14 and the next week it's $24. We're now -- and now it's $28. So that's a -- and that's the most dramatic.

YURKEVICH: Yet, some encouraging news this winter, energy costs dipped from November to December by 0.4 percent.

ZANDI: I think we're seeing the worst of the inflation now. I think delta did a lot of damage. Of course, omicron is going to hurt as well.

I think by this time next year, the world should look a bit better. Inflation should be down.


YURKEVICH: Now, wages did increase last year by 4.7 percent. That might have helped offset some of these higher prices.

But, John, low-income Americans are ones -- are the ones that really struggle with inflation. They have lower wages, less disposable income and are spending more on these everyday necessities that are simply more expensive.

And, John, economists have agreed that inflation is going to start to cool down this year, but where these prices will land, that's anyone's guess, John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, look, the economy is booming, unemployment is incredibly low. But, when you have inflation like this, it changes the way people feel about it.

Vanessa Yurkevich, thank you very much.

So, this morning, Republicans promising a slew of investigations into Democrats if the tables turn after the mid-term elections. How far will they go?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And Melania Trump wants someone, anyone, to buy this hat. The hefty price tag and what else is up for sale ahead.

And a disturbing trend is emerging amongst some right-wing -- some on the right wing, comparing vaccine and mask mandates to Nazi Germany. We're going to give them a much-needed history lesson.


[06:38:05] KEILAR: New CNN reporting. Some far right members of the Republican Party are already plotting an onslaught of investigations into the Biden administration if they regain the House and Senate next year. Some are even planning to launch impeachment proceedings against President Biden.

CNN's Melanie Zanona is here with the details on this.

What are they planning, Mel?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, it's going to be heavy on investigation, light on the legislation, if Republicans are in charge during Biden's final two years in office of his first term. I talked to a number of key Republicans who are in line to become chairman if they do win back the majorities, and they are already mapping out how they would wield their gavels and the subpoena power that comes with it.

And some of the probes that they're planning to pursue include Biden's pullout from Afghanistan, Hunter Biden's art deals and his work in Ukraine, the origins of the coronavirus, the security failures on January 6th, and the surge of migrants at the border, just to name a few.

Now, all those investigation do have the backing and blessing of GOP leadership. But, if Republicans do win back the majority, they are going to be under immense pressure to go even further in their investigations. I've heard from some members on the far right who are calling for Republicans to probe Trump's false claims of voter fraud. There are also some fringe members who have already started to call to launch impeachment proceedings against Joe Biden. So that question of just how aggressively to use their investigative and subpoena powers is going to be a major source of tension in the Republican Party, if they are in charge.

So far, however, GOP leaders have been reluctant to embrace those calls. They have not backed impeachment just yet. I think there's a lot of reluctance about looking like they're overreaching or looking too political and instead they are just vowing to conduct rigorous and intense oversight of the Biden administration.


KEILAR: Yes, it's going to be high on drama for sure if they win, and we may also see some in-fighting about how far to go.

ZANONA: Absolutely.


KEILAR: Melanie, great reporting. Thanks.

ZANONA: Thanks.

BERMAN: So, this morning, there are several Senate seats up for grabs, including in Wisconsin, where Republican Senator Ron Johnson has ended months of speculation by announcing he is running for a third term, despite having pledged he would only serve two terms. So, what are Johnson's chances?

Joining me, CNN's senior data reporter Harry Enten.

Good morning, sir.

What's a good way to look at Ron Johnson's chances for re-election?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENOR DATA REPORTER: A good way is to look at history and also what do we know about midterm elections? We know that the president's party is often penalized in midterms elections. We also know that there's been an increasingly strong correlation between how people vote at the top of the ballot, how they feel about the president, and how they -- and then how they vote for Senate.

And what we know about opposition parties of elected incumbents, like Ron Johnson, in Senate midterms since 1982, is they've won 86 out of 87 times in states where the opposition party outperformed the national vote share in the prior two presidential elections. Eighty- six out of 87. That's pretty much complete. Pretty much 100 percent. Just south of it. And Wisconsin, of course, was a state that even though Joe Biden won it in 2020, he did worse than he did nationally. So, Wisconsin matches that.

BERMAN: So, extrapolate that out to other key races for Senate this year.

ENTEN: Sure. If -- beyond just looking at incumbents, right, 86 our 87 times, and that's all the GOP incumbents that are running, we can look at open seats as well. That is where there's no elected incumbent running. That includes every retiring GOP senator in 2022. And in those particular cases, the opposition party has won 32 out of 35 times in states where the opposition party has outperformed the national vote share in the two prior presidential elections. So if you're looking at whether it's the incumbents, where it's 86 out of 87 times, or you're looking at those retiring seats, those retiring GOP senators, where it's 32 out of 35 times since 1982, history points a very, very good picture for the GOP in those seats.

BERMAN: It's almost always statistically.


BERMAN: When, Harry, though, does a president's party gain seats?

ENTEN: Yes, it happen as few times if we look back at history. So, one is when the president's approval rating is above 60 percent. That's not the case right now. I mean Quinnipiac had Biden's approval rating at 33 percent yesterday. The average is close to the lower 40s, but, still, not anywhere near that 60 percent mark.

A popular governor is running in, per say, a particular seat. You know, in 2010, Joe Manchin was able to win an open seat in West Virginia, but that's not the case right now in pretty much any of those seats that the GOP is looking to hold on to. And then, of course, if the state leans towards the president's party

in the prior two presidential election, that's not the case in any of the GOP seats right now. You know, you go back four years ago, the GOP was able to gain in states like North Dakota. They were able to gain in Indiana and Missouri. But, of course, those are states that actually voted for the president's party in the prior presidential election. That's not the case in any of the states that the GOP is looking to hold right now.

BERMAN: No. And keep a close eye on Biden's approval rating, which is way off where an incumbent president wants to be to pick up seats in either the Senate or the House. It just isn't as high as it is to gain those seats historically.

I want to talk about an issue here, Harry, which is schools, which is something that Republicans are leaning really heavy into.

ENTEN: Yes, they're leaning very heavily into the idea of school closures, and there's a pretty good reason why if you look at the polling. And what essentially you see is, you know, if you ask folks, how necessary is it to do certain things in order to control the coronavirus, and what you see is, look at this, close K-12 schools and make it remote learning only, only 48 percent of folks think that was necessary in a 2021 average of polls. That was the lowest out of any of the things that the Pew research polled, whether it was requiring masks on planes, restricting national travel, avoiding large gathering, or only take-outs in restaurants. All the other ones reached 50 percent or above and well above for most of them. K-12 remote learning only, just 48 percent. So the GOP sees polling like that and they say, we can take advantage, and that's why we're going hard at this issue.

BERMAN: To be clear, there are no -- really no prominent Democrats calling for schools to be closed either. It's just Republicans are seizing on it right now. And Democrats maybe not as much. And to an extent, Harry, this is helping flip a traditional advantage on education for Democrats?

ENTEN: It absolutely is. If you look at the polling traditionally, if you ask, who is more trusted on the education issues, you see Democrats overwhelmingly win that. In 2017, four years ago, or now five years ago, Democrats had an 18-point edge. Look at where it was in 2021. Democrats still had a small edge, but it was down to four points. That doesn't happen unless something overwhelming has changed outwardly. And I think the school issue was the thing that moved those numbers.

BERMAN: It certainly mattered in Virginia.

ENTEN: It absolutely mattered in Virginia. You know, this was, I think, a perfect test case for it.

So, essentially, the pre-election polling asked, which candidate do you trust most on education? In 2017, the Democrat, Ralph Northam, won it, look at this, by 13 points he was more trusted than the Republican Ed Gillespie. [06:45:01]

Flip forward to 2021, Glenn Youngkin was actually leading. Now, it was within the margin of error, but he was leading by a point on who was more trusted on education. That is a major shift that we saw in Virginia. The same shift that we saw nationally. That doesn't happen unless something has changed. And Glenn Youngkin pushed that school closure issue saying, I want your kids back in school. No more remote learning. And those numbers prove that it worked for him.

BERMAN: And again, to be clear, you don't hear Democrats pushing for remote learning right now either. So it will be interesting to see if they're able to perhaps rehab their image on this going forward.

Harry Enten, thank you very much.

ENTEN: Thank you, sir.

New this morning, the finger pointing at the "Rust" armorer is now filing a lawsuit against the film's gun supplier.

KEILAR: Plus, billions of dollars spent last year on music catalogs of some of the biggest artists. What is with this latest trend?




RONNIE SPECTOR, MUSICIAN (singing): So won't you, be my little baby, say you'll be my guy.


BERMAN: What a song. What a voice. '60s pop icon Ronnie Spector has died. Spector was one of the -- was the led singer of the Ronettes and she was known for her voice, her sky high beehive. Hits like "Be My Baby." She really was an icon. Her family says she died in the arms of her husband after a brief battle with cancer. Ronnie Spector was 78.

KEILAR: Twelve-time Grammy winner John Legend, the latest super star to sell his entire music catalog. He's also the youngest, we should note there, at age 43. Legend sold his catalog and royalty rights for an undisclosed amount. This is according to Bloomberg. And here in the past few years, other major artists have been cashing in, like Bob Dylan, the estate of David Bowie, there was Bruce Springsteen, of course, Stevie Nicks.

And joining us now to talk about this is cultural commentator Christopher John Farley. He is the author of the new book "Zero O:Clock."

All right, why -- and good morning to you. Why are artists doing this? Is this sort of a trend we're seeing?


Yes, this is a trend we're searing. And, you know, throughout the history of the music industry, artists have been ripped off. They haven't made the money they felt they deserved. And now, finally, this is a way for them to cash in and cash in big.

In the case of John Legend, he's always been about his business. This is a guy that went to the University of Pennsylvania, who once worked for Boston Consulting Group. And I've interviewed the guy. He knows about business. So, it makes sense that if some younger artist is going to pioneer what's going on here, it would be him, because he's a guy that knows business.

BERMAN: And, Chris, the issue is, is that the more traditional ways for these artists to make money just aren't as lucrative anymore. Explain that.

FARLEY: Yes, well, of course, right now, you know, the way artists used to make money is selling physical copies of their work. And, of course, no one's really buying CDs. I mean last year vinyl records actually out-paced CDs in terms of sales, which kind of shows you that physical forms of music are all just kind of curiosity these days. You really can't make a whole lot of money, you know, big, real money through just streaming. You need to have other ways of making money. And that's usually been through touring. And, of course, now with Covid, touring is now a spotty possibility.

So this is another way of opening up a revenue stream for artists so they can make the big money. And they also look to the way in which hip-hop culture really did influences wider musical culture. Back in the '90s, an alternative rock group (ph) was all about, we're not going to sell out, we're not going to sell out. And finally hip- hoppers came along and said, you know what, I'm selling -- buying in, making money is a good thing if you do it with your own music. And we've seen a lot of -- the rise of all these hip-hop billionaires, like Jay-z and Kanye West and hip-hop adjacent millionaires like Rihanna and Beyonce. And now, I think, other artists are finally saying, you know what, we want to get in on this too. We want to make the kind of real, big money we've seen some of these hip-hop billionaires make. And this is one way of doing that.

KEILAR: Yes, the numbers are huge. John Berman may take issue with whether David Bowie should have gotten less than Bruce Springsteen, but that may be a conversation for --

BERMAN: He shouldn't (ph). Better songs.

KEILAR: He shouldn't have. It's -- he's been very -- very clear position on this.

Real quick, Chris, you, what do you think?

FARLEY: Yes, David Bowie, of course, was a great pioneer, not only of music, but also of revenue streams. He issued Bowie Bonds back in the '90s as a new way for artists to make money. I think he would probably be elated by what's going on now. I think one thing we also have to mention, why this is happening, is

low interest rates. You know, people have access to the capital to make these kinds of big deals, and they're taking advantage of it.

KEILAR: It's very fascinating.

Chris, thank you so much for walking us through this.

FARLEY: Thank you.

KEILAR: Programming note. You know her face, of course, but do you know her whole story? Discover the life and legacy of the true Marilyn in a new CNN original series. It's called "reframed: Marilyn Monroe." And that will premier Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific.

The armorer on the film "Rust" is suing the gun and ammunition supplier for negligence in the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. In her lawsuit, Hanna Gutierrez-Reed blames Seth Kenney and his company for allegedly supplying live bullets mixed in with dummy and blank rounds before actor Alec Baldwin fired the shot that killed Hutchins during a rehearsal in October.

History in the making. Rachel Balkovec introduced as the New York Yankees newest minor league manager.


What she had to say about some of the reactions to her new gig.

BERMAN: The top Republican in the House stiff arms the January 6th committee. What Kevin McCarthy is now saying and what he said in the past.


BERMAN: This morning, the New York Yankees making history with the hiring of a minor league manager.

Andy Scholes with the "Bleacher Report."

Hey, Andy.


So, Rachel Balkovec says her journey is the American dream. You know, she's been working in and around baseball for more than ten years and now she's -- the 34-year-old's going to be in charge of the Yankees low-class a-affiliate, the Tampa Tarpons, when the season begins.