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New Day Saturday

U.S. Inflation Remains Near 40-Year High Amid Rising Prices; Parents Desperate To Find Baby Formula During Nationwide Shortage; U.S. Consumers Are Feeling Worse About The Economy Again; Three Key Bridges Blown Up As Russia Retreats, Ukraine Advance; Russia Cuts Its Electricity Supply Finland; Russian Invasion On Agenda As NATO Ministers Meet In Germany; U.S. & NATO Forces Using Lessons From Ukraine In Training; GOP Candidate Kathy Barnette Surges In Polls Days Before Pennsylvania Primaries. Outstanding Federal Student Loan Debt Is $1.6 Trillion; CDC: United States Drug Overdose Deaths Hit Highest Level On Record In 2021; High Temps, Dry Conditions Expected Across The South, Southwest. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired May 14, 2022 - 07:00   ET




CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Boris. I'm Christi Paul. Thank you so much. We, we are always so grateful to have your company in the morning. Listen, there's a lot of desperation for parents right now. And we are hearing now have some ideas perhaps in efforts to ease the nationwide baby formula shortage. These parents are just scrambling to feed their children because of it, the White House and private companies saying they're working to get more of that formula into the hands of those parents.

SANCHEZ: Yes, throughout the pandemic, stores struggled to keep shelves stocked with many popular brands. But a recall in February and continued supply issues have now pushed parents to the breaking point. The White House is considering several different actions aimed to ease the critical shortage. Those efforts include importing formula from overseas, giving more flexibility to recipients of nutritional assistance from the government and cracking down on price gouging as well. Yesterday, the president waved off criticism that he hadn't acted quickly enough, listen to this.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If you've taken those steps sooner before parents got to these shelves and couldn't find formula?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we'd been better mind readers, I guess we could have. But we moved as quickly as a problem became apparent to us, and we have to move with caution as well as speed. Because we got to make sure what we're getting is, in fact, we're first-rate product. That's why the FDA has to go through the process.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SANCHEZ: And this is caused for serious concern because manufacturers

say, it could be weeks or even months before supply is back at full capacity. It's a scary thought for some parents who are now going through extraordinary lengths just to get the food that their babies need.

PAUL: Yes, last hour, in fact, I spoke with physician, Anand Swaminathan about what options are available to you.


DR. ANAND SWAMINATHAN, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: One of the big things that we are seeing, and we've seen over and over again over the years is the dilution of formula, which is really dangerous. Parents need to know that it looks like it stretches the supply. But it's really dangerous to babies because they can't really control how they handle that water. And it can lead to electrolyte abnormalities that can be life threatening.

This is a really tough thing because a lot of the younger kids, the infants, they really can't -- they can't handle any solids, they can't handle cow's milk. I think it's really important for people to talk to their pediatricians and see what are the options at the age that your child is, can they move to some of these other products to supplement the formula that they usually would use.

I think it's important to reach out to local resources because there are some local resources that support parents that might be able to gain access, and even reaching out to hospitals to find out if there are supplies a formula that can be accessed for the community, especially in communities that are particularly hard hit by this that already have trouble with finding supplies of things like formula, reaching out to hospitals and local, local resources, it's going to be really important for parents to do.


SANCHEZ: You want to stay tuned because next hour, we're going to speak to two parents who are struggling to find food for their newborn. They're going to tell us about what they're doing to try to track down formula.

PAUL: Let's talk about the economy. The pace of rising prices here in the U.S. may have eased a little bit in recent weeks, but inflation is still a 40-year high, and a lot of people are worried about where this economy is headed. There's new survey from the University of Michigan, in fact, and here's what it shows: Consumer sentiment fell by 9.4 percent in May. That's its lowest level in more than 10 years.

This is a sign that rising prices are still weighing really heavy on people. So, I want to bring in CNN Global Economist, Economic Analyst, I should say, Rana Foroohar, she's a Global Business Columnist and Associate Editor for The Financial Times. Rana, we, we depend on you, and rely on you for some of this information. So, I want to ask you, I know that April was the first time in what, eight months, that the rate of inflation actually slowed. Does that mean? Is that an indication that maybe we've hit our peak already?

RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: You know, it's a great question. I think that we probably have hit a peak in non-essential goods. So, if you if you discount things like fuel that you put in your car, your home was homes with, or food, we may be at a peak because frankly, people are cutting back on those things. You know, and this is true, not just in the U.S., but all over the world.

People are really starting to say, gosh, what do I need, you know? What are, what are the absolute necessities here, and then they're cutting back on, on non-essential goods, and companies are feeling that pinch already. You know, one big question is labor markets: are wages going to stay high? It's a really tricky balance because of course, in an economy like the U.S. where most of the demand comes from consumer spending, you want people to have more money in their pockets to spend.

But if wages rise too high, then that causes runaway inflation companies start cutting back. We're going to get some real indicators in July and August when company start to report their earnings, whether they're thinking about cutting back on labor. So, I think this summer is going to be a good turning point.


PAUL: All right. So, I want to get to a tweet that President Biden sent out yesterday. He said, "You want to bring down inflation, let's make sure the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share." Well, Amazon Executive Chairman Jeff Bezos had something to say about that suggesting that it could be characterized as disinformation, saying: "Raising corporate taxes is fine to discuss, taming inflation is critical to discuss, mushing them together is just misdirection." Is there a clear who's right in this conversation? I mean, what's your take on this?

FOROOHAR: Well, you know, there's, there's some true and false on both sides. It's really hard to conflate taxes, price gouging inequality. I mean, these are complicated topics. There are a lot of vectors in play. But look, the president is right in a sense that corporate profits are as high as they've ever been. Corporations have more cash on their balance sheet than they ever have. That's in large part because we've been in a boom market, basically, for the last 20 years until quite recently. They've been doing more with fewer workers.

You know, that might be great for companies. But it's not always great for mainstream for average individuals. And so, I think the company, the president is making an important point. There have also been examples where companies have gotten on their, their earnings calls with investors and said: Oh, inflation is giving us an opportunity to really have some pricing power. And that sounds a little too close to price gouging for some people, and the President has called them out, I think, rightfully so.

PAUL: OK. And I want to ask you really quickly about the real estate market, because there's a lot of headaches there for a lot of people. I know you, you asked in a recent article in the Financial Times what's going on, are we back to 2007? I mean, are we? What does this mean for people who are trying to buy a house?

FOROOHAR: So, again, great question. If we were in a sort of a traditional bubble, a traditional housing bubble like 2007? You'd probably start to see a fair bit of softening in the market as interest rate hikes go up, because, you know, interest rates, when they go up, they make debt more expensive, they make mortgages more expensive, anything that you're borrowing for.

And so, the market starts to slow down. But the wrinkle here is the pandemic, you know, if you think about it, I live in New York, I've seen people leaving the city now for two years, going into the rural areas, sometimes leaving and going to smaller cities like Charlotte, or Nashville, or Austin, because they can you know, they can work from home.

And so, the entire geography of the country is changing in a really interesting way. It's almost you know, if you want to go back way farther, it's almost like the creation of, of Los Angeles when people really started moving westward, and that was a fundamental change in the geography of the country. We may be in for a period like that, in which case, it's going to take a while for housing prices to soften.

PAUL: Wow, interesting. Rana Foroohar, we are so grateful to have your perspective. We, we rely on it. Thank you so much.

FOROOHAR: Thank you.

PAUL: What about you know, we're following several developments in Ukraine this morning. Ukrainian forces for one are pressing ahead with a counter offensive in the northeastern region of Kharkiv, that's despite apparent efforts by Russia to stop Ukraine's advance.

SANCHEZ: As Russian forces have retreated, at least three bridges have been demolished, and the bridges are vital to Ukraine's counter offensive, and targeting Russian supply lines. You can see in these satellite images from black sky the collapse sections of the bridges on your screen. We're also learning more details about a disastrous Russian effort to cross a key River in eastern Ukraine.

This new video as well as analysis of drone and satellite images, shows that the Russians may have lost as many as 70 armored vehicles, you've seen them strolling across the water there. In another development, Russia has cut electricity to Finland just days after Finish officials announced their support for joining NATO. Let's get to CNN Correspondent Melissa Bell, she joins us now live from Kyiv. Melissa, update us on all of these latest developments. There's a lot to get through.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think the most extraordinary thing this morning is the extent of the Russian military debacle along that stretch of river that you mentioned and Luhansk region, the Siverskyi Donets, that the Russian forces had been trying to cross now for several days. It's essential in their momentum, in their strategy of trying to move beyond their stronghold in Luhansk.

It is where they had concentrated their forces over the course of the last few days and weeks, that they have failed so spectacularly to cross that river, I think, tells us a great deal about where their military capabilities are on the ground right now. Let's just have a look at that river and explain why it's significant. It is a particularly difficult bit of terrain, it's very swampy, it's a meandering river. What's interesting is that we've been hearing from the Ukrainian side, their accounts of having to manage to push back these attempts by Russian forces to cross the river several times, trying to put pontoons across the river to get across.


Now, through these satellite images, and through eyewitnesses account, we've essentially been able to corroborate that, that appears to be the case with a large amount of equipment abandoned. We understand, we believe, a large amount of casualties on the Russian side as well. And the fact that they can't move north of this river, the one part where they have managed to cross just at one village, apparently not sustainable, not enough of their troops have gotten enough across to be able to make a sustained, sustained crossing of the river means that that attempt, their offensive essentially, trying to get north of the river has been blocked.

And I think the big question for us all, as we watch Ukraine today, and from where we're standing here in the center of Kyiv, is what Vladimir Putin attempts to do about that next. There is the military question of what the offensive is attempting to do and what it is failing to do for the time being, and then the question of how that is sold, and what the consequences of that are of that, on the war in Ukraine and on what next steps are taken. You mentioned a moment ago, Boris as well, the cutting off of Finland's electricity supply.

Bear in mind that this also comes in the wider context of some of the other strategic aims of Vladimir Putin engaging in this conflict to begin with, namely, to try and hold NATO back from his border. Again, having failed so spectacularly with both Finland and Sweden to announce that they are joining NATO with a formal putting through of part, two parliament of that finished request to join in the next few days. That is the context in which Russia announced that it was cutting off those security, those electricity supplies, and I think it gives you an idea of the very many fronts on which Putin's ambitions find themselves entirely frustrated, Boris and Christi.

SANCHEZ: Yes, entirely frustrated. He was trying to push back NATO and now he has more countries wanting to join the alliance. Melissa Bell reporting from Kyiv. Thank you so much.

Russia's war against Ukraine is on the agenda as NATO ministers are meeting today in Germany.

PAUL: CNN Senior International Correspondent Fred Pleitgen, is with us live from Berlin. So, talk to us. First of all, what are you hearing from NATO minister, Fred?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think what NATO ministers are trying to do Christi is they're really trying to project that unity, that NATO has right now. And I think one of the things that we're seeing on the ground here, we've heard just now from the German foreign minister, who actually had a press conference only a couple of minutes ago, is that she believes that right now, the unity is very strong, but it's also something that still does need to be built on by those NATO foreign ministers, of course, Secretary of State Blinken is expected to arrive here very soon, as well.

And then there's also what Melissa was just talking about, that's a big deal for NATO, with Sweden, and Finland possibly are most probably joining the alliance very soon. And you know, it's significant for various reasons. On the one hand, both the Finns and the Swedes have very, very strong militaries that are ready meet all of the NATO criteria.

So, that's going to be a big boost, just to the power that NATO is going to be able to unfold to the defensive capabilities that NATO has. But if you look at Finland on a map, and this is something that's really important, and that really gets the Russians extremely angry, they have an extremely long border with Russia.

And so, the Russia is going to have NATO at its doorstep, and a very, very large part of its western border. And, you know, I was listening to the German Foreign Minister a couple of weeks ago at that press conference. And she said, look, the reason why Finland and Sweden want to join NATO is not because NATO specifically asked them to do so, it is because they are so concerned about some of the moves that Russia has been making, specifically, of course, the war in Ukraine.

And that is something that's giving NATO more strength, and also, of course, a lot of responsibility as well. And of course, one of the big topics at this meeting is going to be how NATO can continue to effectively aid the Ukrainians in their battle to to, survive, quite frankly, guys.

SANCHEZ: And, Fred, I wanted to ask you about this, you had a chance to talk with some elite NATO forces about how the war in Ukraine is shaping the kind of training that they receive. Tell us about that.

PLEITGEN: Yes, you know, that was absolutely fascinating. And this took place in Latvia, and this is a big NATO exercise with a lot of special forces that goes on in wide parts of Europe. And I was able to specifically speak with U.S. special forces there and they said, one of the things that really has them concerned is medical and casualty evacuations in a context like the war in Ukraine. It's obviously something that all of these NATO forces hope will never happen, but certainly something they have to train for and what can be very different than for instance, evacuating casualties in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. I want you guys have a very close look at this report.


PLEITGEN: A lonely road somewhere in Latvia, then suddenly, an unmarked U.S. Special Forces plane touches down, practicing medical evacuation of a casualty under the toughest circumstances.

[07:15:08] What these special operations forces are doing requires a huge amount of skill, they're operating a pretty big plane on an extremely narrow runway that's normally a road, and all of that in the middle of the night. However, this could be a very real scenario when trying to extract a patient from a dangerous environment.

NATO Special Operations Command granted us rare access to these medivac drills with elite NATO units on the condition that we don't disclose the identities of those taking part and even modulate their voices. The special forces medics tell us, the war in Ukraine is fundamentally changing the way they train,

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at the battlefield now, look at Ukraine. What's flying? Not a lot reliably? So, that assumption is if the air is denied, where is that patient going to go? How are we going to transport them to surgery?

PLEITGEN: During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. built a system of medical evacuations by helicopter that military officials say gave casualties a more than 90 percent chance of survival, even from catastrophic wounds. That's because they often got to an operating room within an hour of being wounded, the concept of the golden hour. The fact that you guys had air superiority really was, was the bedrock of what you got you that that golden hour, and that's something that's now evaporated, or will evaporate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we can, we can all agree, just watching the last seven to eight weeks of conflict, but that, that assumption seems to be pretty valid.

PLEITGEN: And that means it could take longer to get wounded comrades to hospitals, and that operations may need to be performed on or near the front line.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not ideal, but if it has to happen here, then we're, we're able to do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The spirit of what we're doing is what's called prolonged casualty care, prolonged field care, and that concept is identifying those strategies that will help us prolong life in order to bridge that --

PLEITGEN: The Special Forces Medic say they're learning a lot from Ukrainian medics who are providing care for their wounded, while often under fire for the Russian army.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Ukrainians did a phenomenal job of cleaning the battlefield and implementing some of these strategies, taking care of their patients enroute. So, you're not just throwing a person in the back of a van and leaving them unattended. You're putting somebody with medical capability in there with that patient to deliver care while they're being transferred.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead and ventilating the patient.

PLEITGEN: And so, that's exactly how U.S. and NATO Special Forces are now training, turning a regular cargo van into a makeshift ambulance and constantly caring for their patient until they arrive at the makeshift airfield.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is a tensile.

PLEITGEN: They've kept the patient alive for three days before a medical evacuation flight was possible. It's all an exercise, but a scenario they fear could become a reality.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The rate at which we're collaborating now is more than I've seen in my 20 years in the military, and then previous conflicts. There's a sense of urgency and I think watching Ukraine right now, that is very prescient.


SANCHEZ: That was Fred Pleitgen reporting.

PAUL: Yes, thank you, Fred. So, there's been a dramatic shift in one of the most closely watched political races in the country. How a late surge by one candidate is offending seemingly the Pennsylvania Republican Senate Primary and made some influential Republicans a little bit nervous?



SANCHEZ: We're following a developing story this morning. 17 people were injured Friday night in a mass shooting in Downtown Milwaukee. Investigators say, the victims range in age from 15 to 47. A total of 10 people were taken into custody. Nine firearms were also recovered from the scene. According to police, the incident happened only two hours after another shooting just blocks away near the city's arena where an NBA playoff game was taking place.

PAUL: Well, Justice Clarence Thomas is expressing his dismay over the recent leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion that would strike down Roe vs. Wade.

SANCHEZ: During his remarks at a conference in Dallas, he compared it to an infidelity. And he says that it's changed the culture of the nation's highest court. Listen to this.


JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS, SUPREME COURT: The institution that I'm a part of, if someone said that one line of one opinion would be leaked by anyone, and you would say that, oh, that's impossible. No one would ever do that. There's such a belief in the rule of law, belief and the court, a belief and what we were doing that that was verboten.

It was beyond anyone's understanding, or at least anyone's imagination, that someone would do that. And look where we are, we're now that trust or that belief is gone forever. The end, when you lose that trust, especially in the institution that I'm in, it changes the institution fundamentally, you begin to look over your shoulder. It's like kind of an infidelity that you can explain it but you can't undo it.


SANCHEZ: Thomas's remarks echo those he made earlier this month when he said that government institutions should not be quote, bullied into delivering with some see as a preferred outcome.

PAUL: Let's talk about the race for the Republican Senate nomination in Pennsylvania because it has taken a big turn. And what's significant here is there's less than a week to go before the primary election. So, Kathy Barnette, isn't only surging in the polls. She's virtually tied now with her main opponents, including David McCormick, and Trump-endorsed TV star, Dr. Mehmet Oz.

SANCHEZ: And now that Barnette is a top contenders, she's facing more scrutiny than ever. CNN's Jeff Zeleny breaks down her campaign.



JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For months, Kathy Barnette campaigned across Pennsylvania drawing attention, yet remaining largely an afterthought in the Republican Senate race. From the outside the race played out as a vicious two men brawl.

DAVID MCCORMICK (R), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDARE: Mehmet has flip flopped on every major issue.

DR. MEHMET OZ (R), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: Dishonest Dave is at it again.

ZELENY: Fueled by big money and big names of TV celebrity, Dr. Mehmet Oz and David McCormick, former head of the world's largest hedge fund. But less than a week before the primary election, Barnette's late surge is sending shockwaves across the GOP and provoked this dire warning from former President Donald Trump who's endorsed Oz: "Kathy Barnette will never be able to win the general election against the radical left." Tonight, she gently disagreed.

BARNETTE: I look forward to working with the president. So, thank you so much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a sign that you're on the rise, though, would you agree?

BARNETTE: I would agree.

ZELENY: In one of the most closely watched Senate races in the country, which Democrats believe offers the best chance to pick up a seat to help hold their majority, a messy family feud deep inside the mega movement is spilling out for all to see.

[07:26:10] BARNETTE: MAGA does not belong to President Trump. MAGA, although, he coined the word, MAGA is actually belongs to the people. Our values never, never shifted to President Trump's values.

ZELENY: A compelling personal story sparked interest in her candidacy.

BARNETTE: I am a little black girl from a pig farm in Southern Alabama, who grew up in a home with no running water, no insulation, and outhouse in the back and a well on the side.

ZELENY: And her campaign roared to life as she pushed utterly false claims the 2020 election was stolen.

She's linked her candidacy to Doug Mastriano, the front-runner in the GOP governor's race here. Suddenly, his polls show a three-way contest entering the final stretch.

Rival Republicans are in a mad scramble to scrutinize Barnette's background, in hopes of slowing her surprising rise.

OZ: She is a mystery person we don't know much about it. We have to be able to learn and she's not willing to share.

ZELENY: An outside group backing Oz also weighed in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Meet crazy Kathy Barnette, Pennsylvania's wackiest Senate candidate.

ZELENY: A CNN review found Barnett has a history of making anti-Muslim and anti-gay statements.

BARNETTE: All the odds or against --

ZELENY: In many tweets, she also spread the false conspiracy theory, former President Barack Obama is a Muslim. It's an open question whether the torrent of criticism will animate or turn off the vibrant grassroots supporters in the party's base. The conservative Club for Growth has her back, booking $2 million in ads to promote her candidacy.

KRISTEN DALE, PENNSYLVANIA VOTER: Kathy Barnette is my girl.

ZELENY: What drew you to her candidacy?

DALE: She's an authentic person.

ZELENY: Asked about Trump's endorsement of Oz, and his blistering words for Barnette, Kristen Dale, had this to say.

DALE: President Trump gets to be wrong and he has this one wrong.


SANCHEZ: Thanks to Jeff Zeleny for that report. Coming up, President Biden faces pressure to forgive some student loans. When will he make a decision, and what can the potential impact be on the economy? We're back in just minutes don't go anywhere.



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): During the 2020 campaign, then- candidate Joe Biden promised all sorts of relief for those saddled with student loan debt.

Now, as president delivering that relief is proving problematic, some Democratic lawmakers have pushed for executive action to cancel $50,000 of debt for each of the 43 million federal student loan borrowers. An idea that the president has shut down.

He's indicated his number may be closer to $10,000 per debtor, while also excluding wealthy borrowers. Some 43.4 million Americans have federal student loan debt, and it totals about $1.6 trillion, with the average borrower owing more than $37,000. And that debt is hard to get out of.

Bankruptcy laws for student debt are notoriously unforgiving and entire families often wind up having to foot the bill.

Let's discuss further with Sandy Baum. She's a higher education economist and a senior fellow at the Urban Institute.

Sandy, we're grateful to have you this morning. Thanks so much for joining us. I want to start with looking at --



SANCHEZ: Of course. I want to start with looking at the big picture because over the last two decades, some estimates show that the cost of tuition and fees at public institutions has gone up as much as 180 percent. Why has higher education become so expensive?

BAUM: Well, first, let me say that college prices have gone up rapidly. But students borrow not only to pay their tuition, they borrow for their living expenses. So, even students who don't pay tuition because it's covered by grant aid are still borrowing.

College prices have gone up for a number of reasons at public institutions. One big reason is because states are not providing the level of funding per student that they used to provide. And if states don't pay as bigger share of the bill, then, students and families have to pay more of it.

SANCHEZ: And right now, reports indicate that the White House is concerned about whether executive action can actually be used to forgive student loan debt, whether that's legal, there are also fears that forgiving student loan debt could impact already very high inflation. What do you make of those concerns? BAUM: Well, the legal concern is very real. There are differences of opinion among lawyers who have looked at this, about whether the president has the authority to forgive such a large amount of debt on his own.

There's a good chance that if he does issue such an executive order, there will be legal challenges. And so, people should be prepared for the idea that there could be an announcement that then, it won't actually come true. So, I'm not a lawyer and I don't know the answer to the legal question.


BAUM: The inflation question is a different question. I mean, obviously inflation is an issue right now. I think people should recognized that if you have debt, it's not that inflation is a good thing, but when you repay that debt, you're going to essentially be paying back less, because the amount that you owe stays the same, and its purchasing power decreases.

So, debtors actually get some benefit from inflation. But if the government were to forgive $10,000 of debt for each borrower, they wouldn't -- they wouldn't write those borrowers a check. It's not like that recovery act check that you got in the mail. Instead, what they say is, you don't have to make the payments you were planning to make over the next few years.

So, it's not like pouring all that money all of a sudden into the economy, it would have an impact over time on the spending power of those people who did receive the forgiveness.

SANCHEZ: There's also a question about who exactly is going to benefit and concern that those that need it most aren't going to benefit quite as much as those who maybe don't need it quite as much.

As of 2019, more than half of outstanding student loan debt -- some 56 percent is actually owed by graduate students, those likely to have the most earning power. And that's why some argue that canceling student loan debt broadly, would disproportionately benefit wealthier people, what do you make of that argument, and perhaps the need to target some relief?

BAUM: That's exactly true. Student debt is disproportionately held by people in the upper half of the income distribution. And that's because people who borrowed a lot of money for college are graduate school tend to earn more.

They have higher levels of education, than people who didn't go to college or people who went to college for a short time.

So, if you were to forgive all student debt, it would be a policy that would definitely help people at the upper end of the distribution more than people at the lower end.

You have to remember that there are a lot of people in our economy who are suffering financially, and they didn't go to college at all. Maybe they didn't go to college, because they couldn't afford it, because they were hesitant to take on debt.

Those people will not be helped by forgiving student debt. And in fact, the federal debt and deficit will increase if we forgive student debt. It's not something that's free.

If we forgive a lower amount of debt, then it's going to help the people who went to graduate school and have high debts a little bit less. It would be less of a regressive policy.

Still, it wouldn't target the people in the economy who are most in need of help, who didn't go to college. But there are a lot of borrowers out there who owe say, $5,000 altogether, they went to college for a short time, they dropped out, they don't have high wages, and it would erase their debt. And for those people, it would be a big benefit.

SANCHEZ: Sandy, still, plenty more questions to ask you. Unfortunately, we have to leave it there. But we do appreciate you sharing part of your Saturday with us. Thanks for joining us.

BAUM: Thank you so much.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Well, the U.S. is hitting a pretty grim marker in the opioid crisis. Drug overdoses have reached a record high. What is happening? What's behind this spike? And what can we do to help the people who are struggling? We'll talk about that. Stay close.



PAUL: I don't know if you saw this, but this week, the CDC issued a really grim report on the opioid crisis that's gripping the U.S. They found, in the second year the pandemic, drug overdose deaths in the U.S. hit the highest level on record. And stronger, deadly or drugs are hitting the streets.

The CDC found nearly 108,000 people died of drug overdoses in the 12 months ending April 2021. And about two thirds of those deaths involve fentanyl, or another synthetic opioid.

So, Dr. Nora Volkow is director of The National Institute on Drug Abuse. She is with us now. We so appreciate you being with us here, Doctor. I want to ask you about that number. What was your reaction to it? Did you expect it?

DR. NORA VOLKOW, DIRECTOR, THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON DRUG ABUSE: Unfortunately, I was expecting an increase in overdose deaths because we have seen an acceleration of the distribution of illicitly manufactured fentanyl all over the country.

And fentanyl is an extremely powerful drugs and very, very dangerous. What surprised me was the characteristics of the overdoses, because it actually showing that people that in the past were not dying from fentanyl are now vulnerable to it. So, we've seen for example, for the first time overdoses among teenagers, which is again something that we have not recorded in this country.

PAUL: What do you -- what is making them more vulnerable? Is it -- is it the pandemic? Is it the fact that -- and correct me if I'm wrong, fentanyl sometimes is mixed with other drugs.

VOLKOW: It is both of those issues. Number one, that COVID pandemic has created havoc in our mental health, and particularly, vulnerable have been young people, children, and adolescents. And one way that you deal with the stress is by taking drugs.

But a key component has been the fact that drugs that they take, which are not heroin, they don't seek heroin or fentanyl, but they do take all their drugs, and those appear to be contaminated with fentanyl.

So, they, unbeknownst to them are taking a drug. They don't have any tolerance, and then, if it contains fentanyl, they are at high risk of overdosing.


PAUL: Are the deaths primarily from fentanyl or is methamphetamine also a factor here?

VOLKOW: The main, main driver is fentanyl, but we have seen a significant rise in methamphetamine. What is important to know is that 60 percent of the methamphetamine deaths have been associated with fentanyl.

That is to say that the methamphetamine that they ingested is likely to have contained fentanyl, which of course increases lethality of both drugs.

Methamphetamine is quite toxic. But when you combine it with fentanyl, that just exacerbates it. So, fentanyl is the main cause, while at the same time, there has been an increase in access to methamphetamine, also, throughout the United States.

PAUL: I want to ask you about something that is of great debate at the moment. The New York Times reporting, Mr. Biden is the first president to embrace harm reduction, and approach that's been criticized by some as enabling drug users but praised by addiction experts as a way to keep drug users alive, while providing access to treatment and support.

What is your stance on harm reduction? And as I understand it, for instance, it would be -- one example would be needle exchanges.

We know from the science that harm reduction practices save life. And actually harm reduction practices can be seen as a continuum of care, because not everybody, and not everyone is ready to go into treatment, which of course, is the idea. In fact, the ideal is recovery.

But if we just aim for the idea, then, a lot of people are being going to be lost in the meantime. Whereas, crime reduction practices give the person an opportunity to actually eventually lead to treatment, which is what we are aiming for.

For if they die from an overdose, because we did not provide them with harm reduction services, then it will never happen.

So, I understand why people that are basically saying we should just be focusing on treatment or saying that, but they are not exclusive. And we should provide both harm reduction and treatment.

PAUL: Dr. Nora Volkow, we appreciate your expertise in this area, and you're sharing it with us. Thank you.

VOLKOW: Thanks for having me. Bye, bye.

SANCHEZ: Coming up, It's starting to feel like summer. We're going to tell you how hot it's expected to get over the weekend, and which states could see record temperatures. Your forecast after a quick break.



PAUL: For this weekend, you may be one of the people or the millions seeing temperatures soar. I mean, we're talking I was so surprised to see 90s on the calendar already, even higher, and that's dangerous for anybody who's outside.

But particularly, we have to remember there are people in drought conditioned areas. And that could be really dangerous.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Let's get to the CNN weather center and CNN's Allison Chinchar, who's looking at the forecast for us. What can we expect?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST (on camera): Unfortunately, a very prolonged period of the heat. And that's another concern. This isn't just a one day or a two day type of thing for some of these areas. You're looking at potentially having records for a week straight.

Let's take a look at some of the records that were broken yesterday. And it's a pretty widespread area. Yes, you have them in the south states like Texas and Louisiana reaching those mid to upper 90s.

But you also have areas of Illinois hitting the 90s. Indiana getting very high breaking and tying record conditions as well.

Now, the Southwest, this is where Christi talks about. It's the combination of the heat and the drought together. And the two kind of exacerbate one another, especially in terms of prolonging those drought conditions, because the air is very hot, but it's also very dry.

Phoenix, topping out at 103 today. Yes, I get it Phoenix is a very hot place. But even for them, this is 10 degrees above where they would normally be. It's not July, folks, it's mid-May, but we're having temperatures that are more summer like.

Even Las Vegas looking at about 10 degrees above average. Same thing for Tucson.

But it's not just the southwest. Look at all these dots you see here. They stretch from California over to Florida. Even a few into the Northeast. Over 200 locations have the potential to break records not just today, but at some point over the next seven days.

In areas of Texas, could be breaking five, six or even seven days in a row worth of record temperatures.

San Angelo, Texas, the next three days, all in the triple digits. Lubbock, Texas looking at near 100 today, 102 on Sunday. Keep in mind, their normal high this time of year is the low to mid-80s.

One of the other concerns when you take that heat is mixing it in with the fires. Large nine of them, large active fires burning across five states. And a lot of these you're talking substantial numbers of acres, Christi and Boris that are burned. And that heat will likely make it worse for the firefighters trying to battle those blazes.

SANCHEZ: Allison Chinchar, thank you so much for that update.


SANCHEZ: A quick programming note for you, a new episode of "STANLEY TUCCI: SEARCHING FOR ITALY" airs tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m., right here on CNN.

This week's episode takes you to Umbria the green heart of Italy. Here is a preview.



Let's go. Go, go, go, go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (text): We'll prepare essence of the woods spaghetti. With mushrooms, spaghetti, and truffle.


Outside Umbria it's considered as a fine product. It's our daily bread. We won't cook it for too long. So, we keep the texture, crunchy but not raw. We'll cook it for a bit longer with some stock. A mushroom stock with truffle of course.

TUCCI (text): Mushroom and truffles.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (text): This is black truffle, it's really good. It has a strong taste of hazelnut and tree bark fragrances. Warm fragrances.

TUCCI (text): Can I?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (text): Sure. The scent of the woods is strong.


SANCHEZ (voice-over): Pasta makes for good breakfast, right? It's got to.

You can catch it all new episode of "STANLEY TUCCI: SEARCHING FOR ITALY" tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN.

We're back in a few minutes.