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CNN Live Event/Special

Biden Speaks As U.S. Adds 531,000 Jobs In October; Powell Funeral Hearse Arrives At National Cathedral. 11-11:30am ET

Aired November 05, 2021 - 11:00   ET


JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: Last night, we received promising news about another potent and potential COVID treatment, a pill, a pill developed by Pfizer that may dramatically reduce the risk of being hospitalized or dying when taken shortly after infection, if you're infected.

If authorized by the FDA, we may soon have pills that may treat the virus of those who become infected.

We have already secured millions of doses. And the therapy would be another tool in our toolbox to protect people from what, the worst outcomes of COVID.

But look, it's important to remember, we need to prevent infections, not wait to treat them once they happen. And vaccination remains the best way to do that.

The pandemic is not yet behind us, but within this week's announcements, vaccines for kids, more adults getting vaccinated, potential treatment for those who get sick, we're accelerating our path out of this pandemic.

The second way to make sure recovery is fully felt is to pass our bipartisan, my bipartisan infrastructure agreement and my Build Back Better plan, which are being debated now. And I'm going to be heading over there quickly - shortly after I do this press con, back to my office to make some calls.

I want to say very clearly, if your number one issue is the cost of living, the number one priority should be seeing Congress pass these bills.

Seventeen Nobel Prize winners in economics have said, spontaneously wrote to me, together, and said this will lower inflationary pressure on the economy when we pass my bills.

A new analysis from the Wall Street firm of Moody's Analytics found that it will ease the financial burden of inflation for middle-class families.

Put another way: These will -- these bills will provide families with, as my dad used to say, "Just a little more breathing room."

That's because the Build Back Better framework lowers your bills for healthcare, childcare, prescription drugs, and preschool. And families get a tax cut.

That's how you end some of the anxiety people are feeling about the economy. That's how we give people some breathing room.

That's in addition to the infrastructure bill that will create millions of jobs rebuilding the arteries of our economy.

And, by the way, these two bills add up to the largest effort to combat climate change in the history of the United States of America.

Right now, we stand on the cusp of historic economic progress. It's two bills that, together, will create millions of jobs, grow the economy, invest in our nation and our people, lower costs for families, and turn the climate crisis into an opportunity, and put us on a path not only to compete but to win the economic competition for the 21st century against all comers.

In passing these bills, we'll say clearly to the American people: We hear your voices. We're going to invest in your hopes, help you secure a brighter future for yourself and for your families, and make sure that America wins the future in the process.

I'm asking every House member, member of the House of Representatives to vote "yes" on both these bills right now. Send the infrastructure bill to my desk. Send the Build Back Better bill to the Senate.

Let's build an incredible economic progress, build on what we've already done. Because this will be such a boost when it occurs.

Let's show the world that America's democracy can deliver and propel our economy forward. Now, let's get this done.

I'll be back to answer some of your questions when they pass. But may God bless you all, and may God protect our troops.

Thank you.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: President Biden there touting the new job numbers out today, calling them a significant improvement since he took office and saying that the country is now on the right track. Also connecting, Erica, to the progress on vaccinations that ending the pandemic makes a difference in economic growth. He notes that down from 100 million unvaccinated adults in this country to 16 million just in the last several weeks. And he also made a pitch for the Build Back Better agenda as debate still continues on the Hill.

We're joined now by CNN's John Harwood, Manu Raju on the Hill, and Economics and Political Commentator Catherine Rampell.

Catherine, I just want to lean on your economic brain here for a moment as we look at these numbers that we saw not just the big jump in October, but the revisions upward in both August and September, not insignificant revisions upward. Does that signal to you that the Delta surges impact on the economy was temporary, it's over and that this Biden boom people talked about in 2021 is back in effect? CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know that we can yet say that it's over per se, but it does seem to be fading. The factors that the Delta variant was inflicting on the economy, things like people afraid to go out and consume services again, people afraid to go back to jobs, having childcare struggles, et cetera. Those do seem to be fading, which obviously is a good sign. And that's partly because vaccination rates are up.


I think Biden is perfectly within his rights to tout that record. Because that makes a big difference in getting Delta under control and until infections are at bay, the economy is still at the mercy of the pandemic.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: John Harwood, when we look at this, this was, you know, some good news that the White House needed, obviously, not just the October report, but those revisions from August and September. How much momentum if any, does this give the White House, because he's give the president who said he's going back to his office now to make calls to lawmakers to really push for them to get behind, specifically, the Build Back Better plan. Does this give him a little bit more ammo this morning?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A little bit, it's the start. And if in fact, they can sustain the progress against the pandemic, then you're going to see the continuation of strong jobs report, strong economic growth reports. And over time, some of those supply chain issues that have been fueling inflation, are likely to smooth out and ease those inflationary pressures. All of those things have been the inflation in particular, the slowdown that we had the summer along with the other political problems, Joe Biden had, had dragged his approval rating down. It's been a terrible few months politically for him.

But you can see even days after the very bad election night the Democrats suffered in both Virginia and New Jersey, the beginnings of a turnaround, if they can sustain it, potentially, the getting -- putting the pandemic in the rearview mirror, getting the economy fully back on track, and also ending the storyline that Democrats are stumble bums who don't know what they're doing, if they can, in fact, pass this agenda, haven't done it yet. And Manu will tell us about where that stands. But all of those things together have the potential to give momentum for Biden heading into that 2022 midterm election year.

SCIUTTO: Yeah, it was interesting to hear the president use that phrase on the right track, because frankly, public polling has shown that a majority of Americans don't believe the country at least currently is on the right track.

OK, Manu, there was a moment this morning when folks that oh, there's going to be a big, good day for Democrats, the jobs numbers, and likely votes on Build Back Better and infrastructure. But there's a new sticking point here. And that is demands from some moderates for a full CBO scoring of this, the actual cost of this before they vote yes. Is there any way to get around that? Are we going to wait another couple of weeks?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, we're there, holding pattern, and right now the House is essentially stalled as these negotiations have been going on. all morning long, a handful of moderate members, five, some six or seven have come in and out of Nancy Pelosi's office all morning to try to resolve these issues. Remember, she can't afford to lose more than three votes here. And if that happens, this bill will sink. And as a result, a number of these moderates, five of them had come out and written a letter this week and said that there needs to be a full cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office to detail the impacts of this bill, which is estimated about $1.9 trillion right now.

But there's been some analysis from the White House, from the Joint Committee on taxation, on the tax side of it, saying that there would -- these would be fully paid for, that they believe it would raise about $2.1 trillion in revenue. But they want -- these moderate members want the actual congressional budget office to do a full analysis of this.

Now, the problem for the Democratic leaders is that they want to have the votes today. But that Budget Office estimate could take potentially 10 days, 14 days. That's according to the Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth told me that's going to go up to perhaps the week before Thanksgiving to get that full analysis.

So, the question now is whether anything else can alleviate some of those concerns, whether it's some preliminary estimates could resolve those concerns at the moment, they have not. One member, Jared Golden emerged from this meeting told me that he is a no without that full CBO score. Others have not quite gone that far. So, these discussions are ongoing. But if they continue to hold out, then they may be forced to punt once again, and lead to more questions about whether Democrats can get this done.

HILL: I feel like we've seen this movie before Manu. So, as we as we wait and watch for more of that, looking into this report a little bit more, Catherine, the jobs numbers were good. They were very good. The revision was great. The -- you know, the unemployment rate, one of the things that stood out, though, is the growth that we're seeing across multiple sectors. That's really important too, in terms of the economy coming back.

RAMPELL: Right. The gains were broad based. That's good news. We saw gains in leisure and hospitality, that means things like, you know, restaurant and hotels, we saw gains in transportation and warehousing, lots of different sectors, temporary business services. So that's good. It does suggest that the economy is reawakening to some extent.


And there are other economic indicators that we should point out that have also been quite strong recently, that the Biden White House has been a little bit tentative about crawling from the rooftops, which they could be doing things like, you know, if Trump were in office, I'm sure he'd be talking about how strong stock markets are right now. GDP is above its pre-pandemic level, even if it's slowed down recently. So, there are a number of indicators here that show that the economy is not back where it was, obviously, in many, many respects, people are still struggling, they're still dealing with higher prices, but it is doing quite well. And I think the hesitation that this White House feels is partly because they're worried about inflation, right? I mean, that's a very real painful issue for many Americans.

But they're also sort of dealing with the PTSD from the Obama years when Obama and Hillary Clinton when she was running for president, were perceived as too upbeat about the economy, and a little bit too disconnected from the real-world struggles of many working-class families. So, you see Biden trying to kind of walk that line between celebrating these broad-based job gains, some of this other positive economic news, but still acknowledging, hey, I understand there's a lot of pain that's still out there. I know you're worried about prices, et cetera, we have it under control.

SCIUTTO: John, to Catherine's point, concern about inflation is real because it's hitting people in the pocketbook right now. And an indicator perhaps from the Virginia governor's race and that Glenn Youngkin's positions on cutting gas tax and taxes for groceries, really hit home for people because that's a way to help soften the blow right of rising prices here. I don't want to overestimate any President's ability to frankly, solve inflation, right? That's always exaggerated. But does the Biden administration have a plan to blunt the effects of this?

HARWOOD: Well, the most conspicuous thing they're doing is trying to deploy much of their cabinet to ameliorating some of the supply chain problems. So, at ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, getting more truckers on the road, working to help smaller producers of things like poultry, because you have a concentration of supply. So those are things they can do. But they can only work on the margins. They're also for example, writing, Brian Deese, the National Economic Council Director wrote to the FTC and talked about looking into price gouging for gasoline.

Again, all those things are on the margins, even if they have some success. And gas prices are probably the number one irritant that affects the public mood in terms of inflation. But time heals some of the supply chain problems that have been generating this inflation. The Biden administration may have contributed somewhat to inflation with the size of the American Rescue Plan. But that's done. And what they've got to do now is try to get the economy on a more stable footing more normal footing.

HILL: You know, it's interesting in terms of inflation that the President specifically pointed out in those remarks, he said, you know, Moody's Analytics, analysis of these bills and looking at it said that they would ease the burden of inflation as he was making his pitch there to lawmakers very publicly, Catherine, just sign on here. When we look at what those bills could do, how much could that change the situation when we look at inflation moving forward, if they're -- if they were passed, right, if the infrastructure bill was voted on, and signed into law, perhaps as early as today, and if there could really be some agreement and enough votes on that social security safety net bill.

RAMPELL: There are some elements of both of these plants, the infrastructure bill and the social spending climate package, the reconciliation bill that would likely ease inflationary pressures in the long run, things like if you build more housing, that should reduce the price pressure for housing, which is also a big deal besides gas prices right now. But those take a while to work their way through the system, I think it's a little bit overly optimistic to suggest that we would see any immediate change today. The big problems for inflation, as John pointed out, have to do with the supply chain issues have to do with the fact that people have a lot of savings that they want -- that they're eager to spend at this point. And there aren't services to spend that money on, or at least they're a little bit less attractive. So, people are trying to buy goods they're trying to buy, you know, toys and bikes and ATVs and whatever else. So, there's been huge demand for goods at the same time that the supply chain has made it much more difficult to get those goods to consumers.

So, it's hard to see how these two marquee agenda items of the Biden administration would really address those immediate problems. Although as John points out, there are other things that the administration is trying to do that maybe fiddling along the margins but what have some effect in the near term.


SCIUTTO: Yeah. Sadly, many officials believe that supply chain issues extend well into 2022.Catherine Rampell, Manu Raju on the Hill, John Harwood at the White House, thanks so much to all of you. And thanks to all of you at home for joining us today. I'm Jim Sciutto.

HILL: And I'm Erica Hill. Stay with us, CNN's Special Coverage of the funeral, a former Secretary of State General Colin Powell begins right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching pictures, images from inside beautiful Washington National Cathedral, up to 1000 people, family, friends, diplomats, soldiers, politicians filing into the pews right now, as the nation gets ready to honor Colin Powell one final time.

This is CNN special live coverage of the funeral of General Colin Powell. We want to welcome our viewers around the world. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington. In the moments, presidents from both parties will arrive to pay their respects. President Biden, President Obama and President Bush, First Lady Jill Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama, First Lady Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton just arrived moments ago, former First Lady and Secretary of State.

Today's guests are testament to General Powell's legacy as a servant to the United States of America, not a servant, servant to any party. There's President Bush right there speaking behind that mask.

Colin Powell was indeed a trailblazer, four star general, the first African American National Security Adviser, the first African American and the youngest Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ever, the first African American Secretary of State. Our Wolf Blitzer is standing by right now at the National Cathedral in Northwest Washington D.C. where we expect the program to start in just minutes.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, indeed, Jake. A funeral here at the Washington National Cathedral is a real distinction afforded to presidents and only the highest-ranking officials in the American public life. We expect tributes from Richard Armitage, the American diplomat, who served as General Powell's Deputy at the State Department from Madeleine Albright, the former Secretary of State who grew to be close friends with Powell and from Powell's loving son, Michael, Bishop Michael Curry, who many viewers may remember gave a memorable sermon at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will shepherd today's events. And CNN will capture every minute of this salute to this true American hero.

With me here at the National Cathedral, CNN's Suzanne Malveaux. Suzanne, you've been talking to Colin Powell's family, you know, the family well, how are they preparing for this incredibly solemn day?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it's a beautiful and intimate process to work with the Washington National Cathedral staff. They have sat down with the staff and those who will be speaking, they've gone through the hymns and the procession minute by minute how this will unfold. And it is something really very special to work with that staff as they will be receiving the body within the hour or so.

The family will have a private moment at the casket inside before this procession. And they know that their father was someone who was larger than life to so many people. But also, one of the things, Wolf, that he used to do all the time when he attended so many of those big high function dinners or whether or not it was just at a school, he was always taking and jotting names and notes and phone numbers on either dinner programs or simply on napkins, he would take down people's names people he had conversations with. And they could simply be somebody who was sweeping the floor or a young student who he had just met and said, yes, I'll get back to you. I'll mentor you.

And one of the things that was so special about what General Powell did, and many people didn't realize this is that he would call those folks back and he would always follow up. And people on the other end were just shocked that they were hearing from General Colin Powell that he, in fact, was following up. He was concerned and he loved to be engaged with the community. And those are the kinds of things, those stories that come from the family. Those are also people who are going to be sitting in this audience inside the cathedral today. Wolf.

BLITZER: Yeah, we're seeing former President Bush and Condoleezza Rice. They are here at the National Cathedral. It's been really, really amazing to see who has arrived already and more distinguished guests are on the way.

Our Chief National Correspondent and anchor of Inside Politics John King is with us here, our CNN's Special Correspondent Jamie Gangel is here, you know, one of the amazing things that we're seeing these pictures, John, and one of the amazing things is this is a rare moment of bipartisanship here in Washington right now, at this very, very poignant moment.


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Because the life, the remarkable life of General and Secretary Colin Powell, was itself a bipartisan journey. A young fellow in the Reagan White House on the national security team, not sure of his politics back in those days, just out of the army, making his way became a Reagan, Bush Republican.

Later in life would endorse Barack Obama, would endorse Hillary Clinton, would endorse Joe Biden, you're watching the Bushs in there, you're watching the Clintons in there, the Obamas will be here. President Biden is on his way here, members of Congress and administration's Democratic and Republican hugging, saying hello, celebrating something that too many people in the country think is wrong, frankly, in our politics today, somehow it becomes wrong, that you seek the advice and counsel of somebody from the other party. Well, that was one of the great strengths of Colin Powell. He listened, he respected, even -- perhaps even more so people who disagreed with him, he took the time to get to know why. That's why I think when we hear Secretary Albright later today. Two such very different people, both Secretaries of State, but they grew up in the Cold War, the country changed dramatically. They became friends somehow, even though she will say I believe in her -- today when she speaks in her tribute, but they disagreed a lot. But they but they were friends and they put country first.

Colin Powell is volunteer organization is America's promise set kids from a working-class family in the Bronx, who became an American hero, but he put country first, country -- America came first not your political party.

BLITZER: Yeah. And when Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell, both children of immigrants who came to this country and had a new opportunity, I suspect we'll be hearing a little bit of that in the course of today. And, you know, Jamie, as we see Republicans and Democrats see these images coming in from the National Cathedral, it brings back memories of, I think what it's fair to say, the good old days when Republicans and Democrats actually talk to each other and work to each other and weren't always hammering away.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Feels very pre-2016, doesn't it? But it -- I think it also speaks to, as John said, Colin Powell, the politician, the military officer, but it also speaks to Colin Powell, the man who we were joking that his superpower was connecting with people that as soon as you met him, within a few seconds, he would be asking, well, what about you? And I think what you're seeing here today is that connection that he made with so many people, he also never forgot where he came from.

Yes, he was ambitious. Yes, he rose high. But he would be the first to say, I'm from the Bronx. I went to City College, he never got too big to get under a Volvo and repair it. So, I think it speaks to the man as well as the military officer and politician. BLITZER: Yeah, when I first got to know him at the Pentagon during the first Gulf War 30 years ago, I had known he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I had no idea what his politics were, but I knew he was an outstanding general, a great military officer. And we see General Milley over there, the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs with President Bush. They're there, they're watching all of this unfold.

It's going to be, Jake, a really emotional moment when we start hearing about General Powell during the course of this funeral here at the National Cathedral.

TAPPER: That's right, Wolf. Colin Powell touched a lot of lives in during his long career in public service. Let's talk about that right now with the individuals I have with me, starting with General Mark Hertling, who knew General Powell on such a solemn sad day, what are you thinking about?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.) FORMER COMMANDING GENERAL, U.S. ARMY EUROPE & SEVENTH ARMY: The thing that I just keep going back to, Wolf, is his character that defined him. It is an element of leadership. We look for it in the military, he exhibited it. He not only did what was right, he showed other people what right look like, in everything he did, both his professional life and his personal life. He generated an entire following of my generation and the ones younger than me and the ones older than me, as he did what he did in his career. He was a trailblazer, not only from a racial standpoint, but just the way he did things.

TAPPER: We see right now President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walking in saying hello to their predecessors, former President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush. This is -- it does, Wolf noted this earlier it is a bipartisan moment here. It is a shame that such moments only seem to happen in this town during funerals these days but there is something reassuring about Democrats and Republicans and as John King noted earlier the celebration of Colin Powell's life is a bipartisan affair.


The Color Guard -- I'm sorry, I interrupted you.

HERTLING: Now as we see the color guard coming in, it's fine, not only the American flag, but behind it is the flag of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Probably his most significant moment in his professional career. But Jake, going back to the character piece, that is how we evaluate one another in the military. It's the principal things we look for in beaters and everything that General Powell did, from the very start of his career until the end of his career, exhibited, who he was, and how he was showing others what right look like.

TAPPER: Retired Navy Commander Ted Johnson is with us in studio as well. And commander Johnson, what are you thinking about today?

TED JOHNSON, FORMER U.S. NAVY COMMANDER: Yeah, you know, there's an old saying that you should never meet your heroes. And, you know, Colin Powell was the exception. I was a young naval officer. I met him about a decade ago, when he came to talk to our class of White House Fellows. And for a generation, he was the example of what was possible.

TAPPER: Here's the motorcade, sorry for interrupting. Here's the motorcade coming to National Cathedral. Go ahead, continue. I'm sorry.

JOHNSON: Absolutely. No, aside from all the superlative achievements, he was to a generation of black Americans, especially those of us who joined the service, he was our Thurgood Marshall innocence to what Thurgood Marshall meant to the next generation of civil rights lawyers. That's what he meant to young black officers. I joined a year or two after he left the chairmanship. So, I was never concurrent with his service. But his example lasted much longer than his time in the army did. And it still resonates today, an example of a life well lived, and one that many Americans can learn many lessons from.

TAPPER: And Tim Natali, you're the historian at the table here today. Where to tell us how you see General Powell?

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, General Powell, was a towering figure in the period that saw the end of the Cold War. When we as Americans are trying to figure out what role force should play in international relations in our diplomacy. And General Powell, not only will be remembered and should be as an inspirational figure for all Americans, and as someone who broke glass ceilings, but General Powell actually shaped events. And that's he needs to be remembered for that, too. He is an important player at the end of the Cold War, working with people like George Shultz, and Nancy Reagan, with President Reagan to move in a different direction. So, Colin Powell is both a towering figure in our national security history. And he's also a towering figure in civil rights history. And he's the first person ever to have those two achievements. And I would argue that he laid the groundwork for Barack Obama, that his popularity in the mid-1990s sent a signal around this country that a black individual could become president.

TAPPER: That's right, people forget that there was so much talk, and Colin Powell -- like General Powell, like General Eisenhower, before him was recruited heavily by both Democrats and Republicans because nobody knew his politics. He ultimately decided that he was a Republican, and he ultimately decided that running for office was not for him.

The Powell funeral first, as arrived at National Cathedral, we expect any moment that the General's casket will be taken out, we also expect that we might see his widow, Alma Powell any minute. Gloria Borger, what are your thoughts as we're watching this?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I remember talking to Colin Powell, back in 1995, when he -- everyone wanted to recruit him to run for the presidency. What was so extraordinary, of course, it's kind of hard to turn people down, when everybody seems to be saying, you got to run. And I had this conversation with him where he pointed to the stars on his shoulder and said, you know what? People have to listen to me, because I have these stars. When you're in the Oval Office, they don't have to listen to you. And he said, you know, this is something I'm thinking about. Because what I do now is what I love, and I'm thinking about that, I might not love that as much because the authority I have now is very much on question sometimes. And I kind of like that.

TAPPER: And in fact, he wrote two speeches.