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Tiger Woods' Comeback; Why Hasn't Every Sanction In The U.S. Arsenal Already Been Levied?; Pandemic Being Used to Shape Midterm Elections; Student Loan Debt Forgiveness Extended Until August 31, 2022; Evolving Intelligence That Russia Preparing to Attack Cyberspace Aired 9-10a ET
Aired April 09, 2022 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: Pandemic politics, I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken the lives of nearly a million Americans and has profound impact on how we live, how we work, travel, go to school and our mental health.
Two years on, it's now being used to shape the midterm elections in ways that are inconsistent and downright hypocritical.
Consider the border, from early on the pandemic has been used as the reason to keep the borders closed. In March of 2020, under President Trump, the CDC first invoked Article 42, a health emergency measure allowing the quick expulsion of migrants who could theoretically be bringing in a communicable disease.
But the Biden administration has kept Title 42 in place even long after the widespread availability of a vaccine. Now, under pressure from progressives and immigration activists, it's scheduled to be lifted on May 23, but many Republicans and several leading Democrats are opposing that change.
This week, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a new bill to keep Title 42 in place, called The Public Health and Border Security Act of 2022. Six Republicans were joined by five Democrats, Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly of Arizona, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, John Tester of Montana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Two of the co-sponsors, Kelly and Hassan, face tough reelection fights. Other Senate Democrats who have spoken out against lifting Title 42 include Mark Warner of Virginia, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada and Raphael Warnock of Georgia.
Cortez Masto and Warnock are also up for reelection this year. Notable, is how rarely we hear the issue of public health in the debate over Title 42. Manchin and Tester are among the only lawmakers to mention COVID in their advocacy. Instead, this is largely a debate about immigration, not public health policy. Ask yourself this, is Texas Governor Greg Abbott threatening to bus migrants to Washington, D.C. because he's worried about the spread of disease or is he sounding an alarm about porous borders?
Many Republicans lobbying to keep Title 42 in place are simultaneously pushing for the end of mask mandates, presumably because the pandemic has passed.
And many Democrats apparently agree that the risk of COVID has diminished such that asylum seekers no longer be deterred, but at the same time argue that the pandemic still necessitates giving relief to those who owe money for student loans.
This week the Biden administration announced that it's extending a moratorium on federal student loan payments, interest and collections until August 31, as well as a reset for the roughly 7 million borrowers who are already in default.
Democrats who say that COVID-related border restrictions need to end are arguing that loan forbearance needs to continue due to COVID. That's not consistent.
And Republicans who say we need to keep border restrictions tied to COVID argue that forbearance tied to COVID is unnecessary. That's not consistent either.
"The Wall Street Journal" looked at hypocrisy on just one side of the aisle when noting this, "President Biden has used the pandemic to justify doing by fiat what he can't pass through Congress, including his eviction moratorium and vaccine mandate. And now his administration is effectively canceling student debt on the installment plan."
It went on to point out that the pandemic loan pause has already cost taxpayers an estimated $100 billion plus and the new extension will add another $15 to $20 billion. And with everybody back to work who wants to work, when will there ever be a better time for those who owe to resume making payments?
And, what about those who met their obligations? Does anyone else remember the angry Iowa father who confronted Elizabeth Warren on the campaign trail back in January of 2020?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My daughter's getting out of school. I've saved all my money. She doesn't have any student loans.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: God bless you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Am I going to get any money back?
WARREN: Of course not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you're going to pay for people who didn't save any money and those of us who did the right thing get screwed? (END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Look, here's what's missing, consistency. If you think the pandemic conditions no longer warrant slowing immigration, that it follows that student loan payments can also return to normal.
But, if you believe the pandemic requires continued denial of those seeking asylum at the border, then logically we need to provide those who owe on student loans some added time.
Please, show me the politicians who apply that sort of critical thinking instead of ideology.
I want to know what you think. This hour, go to my website. It's smerconish.com. Answer this week's survey question. "Should President Biden fulfill his campaign pledge to forgive at least $10,000 per student loan borrower?
Joining me now to discuss the student loan pause is Higher Education Expert Beth Akers. She's a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the co-author of "Game of Loans," as well as the author of "Making College Pay."
Dr. Akers, you know the administration says, look, these people are suffering and they need additional slack. What are your thoughts?
BETH AKERS, AUTHOR AND SENIOR FELLOW, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Well, my thoughts are that's pretty much a flat-out lie. What we know about student debt that might be surprising to people who don't follow this professionally is that the people with the biggest balances are actually rich people.
Sixty percent of student debt is held by the top 40 percent of the income distribution. This is not a poverty alleviation measure. This is not even in targeted subsidy to people who are struggling economically. This is just a flat-out give away to people who they need in the upcoming midterm elections.
SMERCONISH: I have a chart that I think makes your point. Catherine (ph), put that up. Doctors and lawyers get most forgiveness from the pause. There it is. Logically though, when you think about it, well of course doctors and lawyers get the most forgiveness. Doctors and lawyers owe the most money. Why? Because their education is extended. I mean, for me it was four years of college and then three years of law school.
AKERS: Exactly. So, the media used to portray people with student debt as the barista making your coffee in the morning, maybe they're living at home in their parent's basement. That's totally a mischaracterization of what's happened here.
A lot of people have very small balances. And the people who have really big balances are these very big earners. So, if you thought about it like -- (CROSSTALK)
SMERCONISH: But, Dr. Akers, I'm not -- but, I'm not necessarily agreeing with you. I'm recognizing that the bulk of the debt may be with people, like myself, who extended their education. But, just because somebody went to law school or med school doesn't mean they've got the scratch to be paying that debt off.
AKERS: Yes, great point. So, we talk about their borrowers like they're up a creek without a paddle. The truth is, we already have in place a forgiveness program that allows borrowers who are struggling to make reduced monthly payments, even can be reduced to zero if they have very low income.
So, that's missing from the conversation because it's not politically convenient. It makes it sound like we really do need these sort of widespread, non-targeted measures when, in fact, we already have something in place that with some tweaks could really well to help these borrowers who do get left behind.
SMERCONISH: There's no way this is the final pause, right? Politically speaking now, August 31, come on. It's Labor Day. It's the start of the midterm, you know, final stretch. Surely this is going to get put off yet again beyond the 2022 midterm, right?
AKERS: I'd say for sure. So, Biden is kind of in a sticky spot, because he promised $10,000 of loan cancellation during his campaign. It's my read, based on things he's said, that he doesn't want to do that. He could do it through executive action, though it's somewhat question legally, but he could if he wanted to. I don't think wants to.
And I think that what he's doing now is kicking the can down the road on that issue to maintain support from the progressive wing of his party as we go into midterms.
SMERCONISH: So, here -- here's the -- can we put that tweet up that she's making reference to? I think it was from March of 2020. This is then Candidate Joe Biden in the heat of the campaign, "Additionally, we should forgive a minimum of $10,000 per person on federal student loans as proposed by Senator Warren and colleagues. Young people and other student debt holders bore the runt of the last crisis. It shouldn't happen again."
And Dr. Akers, let me just show you quickly Jen Psaki was asked about this exact issue this week. Here's what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't have any update on that. And I would that, again, he would encourage Congress to send him a bill canceling $10,000 in student debt. Something that he talked about looking forward to signing on the -- on the campaign trail.
(END VIDEO CLIP) SMERCONISH: So, it sounds to me like the White House position is, bring us that legislation and we will sign it. But, he wants Congress' buy-in as well. Where's that going? It's my survey question of the day. Where is the cancelation going?
AKERS: If Democrats had wanted this to happen in Congress it would have happened already. Biden knows that they don't have support in Congress to make this happen.
So, I think he's sitting quite comfortably and saying, yes bring this to me in legislation and I'll happily sign it. And he knows it's going nowhere. He did make this promise.
But, about a year ago in a town hall event, he spoke really candidly about this. Someone asked, are you going to do this. And he said, "You mean and give money to those Harvard and Yale and Penn graduates who borrowed to go get their fancy education?"
And I think that really revealed what he was thinking, which is this is a regressive program. It doesn't make a lot of sense. And maybe he said it because he would have been the only major Democratic candidate who didn't have a loan forgiveness proposal in his campaign at the time.
SMERCONISH: Hey, will you react to my opening commentary? I see hypocrisy. I see inconsistency. If you believe that the pandemic is such that we need to again extend this period of forbearance then doesn't it logically follow that you also think we need to keep in place Title 42 because, after all, the pandemic is still roaring and we don't want migrants coming in who might spread COVID.
AKERS: I think you're exactly right. This is wildly inconsistent. My job is to talk about these things every day. And I have a hard time even talking about this as a strategic policy initiative, because it's pretty obvious to me it's just straight politics. It's getting votes in place for the midterms and maybe even beyond. Because, I don't see anything triggering an end to this continued series of extensions.
SMERCONISH: Dr. Akers, thank you for your expertise. Appreciate it.
What are your thoughts? Tweet me at Smerconish or go to my Facebook page. I will read some social media reaction throughout the course of the program. Hit me with it.
What about those of us that were responsible adults and paid back our obligations? Why do you encourage deadbeats and laziness? By the way, why do you, I don't think, Gordon, you mean me.
Because, I'm the guy who showed you the videotape a moment ago of when an angry Iowa dad said that to Senator Warren. He's like, hey, you know what about me? On behalf of our daughter, we paid our debt.
How about somebody who to -- I mean this why this is such a conundrum. And I can't wait to see how you're voting on my survey question today. What about someone who, tomorrow, you know, someone who will be a
freshman in school in the fall of 2022 and takes out a student loan and now looks at forgiveness or forbearance and says, well, you know, what about me. There's not an easy answer to it.
Go to my website, its smerconish.com. Answer this week's survey question which is asking you, "Should President Biden fulfill his campaign pledge to forgive at least $10,000 per student loan borrower?"
Up ahead, right after Russia invaded Ukraine Cyberterrorism Czar Richard Clarke was on this program. He was warning that if America imposed big sanctions Russia was likely to retaliate with cyberattacks. Has that happened? And if not, why? I will ask him.
Meanwhile, in Russia's ground war atrocities are mounting with multiple attacks on civilians, including a missile hit on a train station that killed at least 50.
Friday, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy said that what's to stop Russia what's needed is a sanction cocktail. Why have sanctions been so incremental and so seemingly ineffectual? I will ask America's Ambassador to Poland Mark Brzezinski is here.
Plus, coming back from a February 2021 car crash that broke his leg in multiple places, five-time Masters Champion Tiger Woods back at the tournament in Augusta. How's he doing?
SMERCONISH: Two days after Russia attacked Ukraine America's first Counterterrorism Czar Richard Clarke was on this program warning that American sanctions could spur Russia to retaliate with disinformation and cyberattacks.
Yet, America and the world have been sanctioning Russia ever since and so far the cyber war doesn't seem to have yet hit the U.S. This week, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the DOJ had secretly removed malware from computer networks around the world to preempt Russian cyberattacks against U.S. infrastructure, such as financial firms, pipelines and the electric grid.
So, I thought time to invite back Richard Clarke to see if he's still worried. Richard Clarke, of course, served three U.S. presidents on the National Security Council. He was also a special advisor for cybersecurity to President George W. Bush.
His brand new novel comes out on Tuesday. It's called, "Artificial Intelligencia." It's about a Chinese police detective who stumbles onto a global cyber-surveillance plot.
Mr. Clarke, great to have you back, as always. President Biden has been hesitant to put our military in direct conflict with Russia, but this week, as I mentioned, he did disarm the main intel unit of the Russian military from computer networks around the world. And I was wondering about your reaction to that.
RICHARD CLARKE, AUTHOR AND FORMER MEMBER OF U.S. SECURITY COUNCIL: Well Michael, they didn't disarm the Russian military unit. But they did take down one network that it was preparing to use.
You remember, President Biden said a few days ago that there was evolving intelligence that was his phrase. Evolving intelligence that the Russians were getting ready to attack us in cyberspace.
What that meant was, they had discovered a network of Russian- controlled computer systems inside cyberspace in the U.S. And the FBI got into that network and pretended to be the Russian controllers and shut that network down.
Separately, Microsoft found a network that was getting ready to attack and went to court and got court orders and shut that network down.
The Russians are getting ready for something they just haven't pressed the button yet.
SMERCONISH: Do you think that heretofore our defense have perhaps exceeded what you would have anticipated or that the Russians have not yet engaged in a full cyberwar that perhaps you would have anticipated?
CLARKE: I think both are true. The Russians have, perhaps, been deterred. Biden said if you do it to us we'll do it to you. And their economy's already spinning, so they probably don't need the damage that we could do with your cyber attack. So we may, surprisingly to me, we may have deterred them. At least we know this, they haven't done the full-scale attack yet.
But our defenses right now are better than they have ever been because the U.S. government, the FBI, Cyber Command, NSA, DHS, they're all up on alert and they're working more closely with private security companies, private internet security companies than ever before. Information that would normally take weeks to pass is now passing in minutes. And it's also passing out to Ukraine.
The secret here is that U.S. private companies are working together all day, all night, every day with the Ukrainian government to help keep the Ukrainian networks up. But, Russia keeps attacking them and they keep going down. Russia has taken down some the Ukrainian military communication systems.
SMERCONISH: Are the rules of cyber warfare set or still being developed? And here's what I'm really thinking. If there's a cyber attack does it necessitate a response that stays in a cyberattack lane? Or could a response to a cyber attack be conventional warfare?
CLARKE: Well, the U.S. government has its own rules. And there are no international rules yet. But, the U.S. government has said, if there is a major cyber attack on the United States that does significant damage, we reserve the right to respond however we deep appropriate, including conventional attacks.
That's why the risk of cyber war is significant because it could be a slippery slope. It could be a slippery slope to combat between the United States and Russia, which we have been trying to avoid.
So, yes, cyber war attacks can do damage, significant damage to the economy. But, beyond that they run the risk of escalation.
SMERCONISH: Just today there's a report from "That Associated Press," raising the specter, the possibility of Russia now looking at the American electoral system again as has been done in the past.
I guess my question for Richard Clarke is, which worries you more? Our grid, our corporate infrastructure or our democratic process as it relates to cyber warfare?
CLARKE: Yes, all of the above. But, if I were trying to get into the mind of the Russians, which is difficult, I would go after our LNG expert, our liquid natural gas export facilities, because we are trying to replace Russian liquid natural gas in Europe and we only have a few export facilities. I would suspect that they will target them. And, perhaps, they will target the power grid.
All you have to do with the power grid is find the weakest link. And while some companies on the grid are doing a good job, others are not.
SMERCONISH: Richard, the advance copy that I have of "Artificial Intelligencia," already on my nightstand. Good luck with the release on Tuesday. And thanks for coming back.
CLARKE: Thank you, Michael.
SMERCONISH: I want to remind you, go to my website. It's smerconish.com. Do it this hour. "Should President Biden fulfill his campaign pledge to forgive at least $10,000 per student loan borrower.
While you're there sign up for the free daily newsletter.
Up ahead, every time I hear about sanctions being imposed on Russia, I wonder what other sanctions are left to apply. And why have we waited so long impose whatever they might be? Why hasn't every sanction in our arsenal already been levied?
Mark Brzezinski is America's Ambassador to Poland. He's here to discuss.
Plus, Tiger Woods in the hunt for his sixth Masters Championship after a stunning return to golf this week. Can he do it? I will speak with Michael Bamberger, an acclaimed sportswriter who documented Tiger's last successful return to pro-golf.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TIGER WOODS, PROFESSIONAL GOLF PLAYER: My team's done a hell of a job getting me ready, getting the body -- you know -- after I go and break it out there and they go ahead and repair it at night. And you should know this for all the NASCAR, you know. You break it, fix it. So, I'm good at breaking it and they're good at fixing it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: All eyes on the Tiger. Tiger Woods that is. This week we saw the remarkable return to the course for one of golf's greatest. It's been a little over a year since a car crash nearly shattered his right leg.
Tiger Woods not ready to exit the stage. He shot a 1 under a 71 on the first day of his comeback at the Masters. Friday, had a rough start, but made the cut to contend this weekend, finishing at plus one for the tournament so far.
Tiger Woods, who trails Masters' leader Scottie Scheffler by nine strokes scheduled to Tee of for his third round at 1:00 pm Eastern. But, the numbers don't tell the full story here. This comeback is nothing short of miraculous after the injuries that he sustained.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOOD: Yes, I can't do much. I mean, the ankle's not going -- not going to move. I've got rods and plates and pins and screws and a bunch of different things in there. So, it's never going to move like it used to.
You know, I already back issues kind of, you know, going into this and now this kind of just compounds it a little bit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: The last time we saw the 15-time major champ play was at the PNC championship in December with his son Charlie and he was able to use a golf cart to get around the course. Woods hasn't walked 18 holes of a tournament since his accident. Yet even with a slight limp he's navigating the hilly topography of Augusta National. So can Tiger Woods get back to championship form?
My next guest has chronicled his previous comeback in his book "The Second Life of Tiger Woods." He also co-authored "The Swinger" which may or may not be about Tiger Woods. Joining me now is Michael Bamberger. He's a senior writer for Golf.com.
Michael, regardless of the ending, it's already storybook. What's it like to be there?
MICHAEL BAMBERGER, SENIOR WRITER, GOLF.COM: Well, it's exciting to be here. It's always exciting to come to Augusta National. Like our annual conversation this time of year Augusta National is sort of the spring flower not just for golfers but people all over the country who gather around and watch this thing.
This year is particularly interesting because of what Tiger is doing. But I wouldn't really quite -- not to be Debbie Downer here from right from the start, but I wouldn't call this storybook because what we're really dealing with here is a calamity, a near fatal calamity, just 14 months ago. And the fact that Woods has come back from this nearly fatal car crash and through sheer will has got himself into a place where he can actually walk this very hilly golf course and play at a very high level is remarkable. And it's a testament to the --
SMERCONISH: That's the challenge, right, Michael? The challenge is no cart, he's got to walk and it's a long course.
BAMBERGER: It's a long -- it's a long course. And it's been wet. And he's had -- in his 46 years he's had all sorts of injuries to begin with. So to compound that with a rod, and as he was saying, plates and screws. In one of the other spots you just said, you referred to the body. It's not even like it's his body. It's like this other thing that other people work on and that he works on and gets in shape. Where -- as he has been saying for a while now, a few times a year maybe he can go out and compete.
SMERCONISH: You wrote something about your first trip to Augusta. I'm going to put it up on the screen because it evidences your great writing and it's also just funny as hell.
"My first trip to Augusta was to play the course. I was a working- class baseball writer with a connected friend who wasn't in the mob. I flew from Philadelphia through a storm at night and in a private jet. One pilot. One other passenger, smoking with his left hand, drinking with his right. It was terrifying."
Speak to me about Augusta, generally. By the way, I can probably figure out who that friend was, but I won't embarrass you on TV. Talk to me about Augusta in general and the reaction that Tiger is getting from this crowd.
BAMBERGER: You know, all the participants, Michael, I'm sure of that. People cling to Tiger like people cling to all things that are great in their lives. Whether it's, you know, the Yankees in the Jeter years. Or we saw with the Michael Jordan documentary, people can't get enough of a winner.
And golf is unique because people are on the stage for such a long time. So, literally, decades and decades after Arnold Palmer was the truest competitive golfer, he would come to Augusta every year and he would be treated like golfing royalty that he was. There are many people who only came to golf in the '90s and the early 2000s who saw Tiger at the height of his power. And his -- the height of his power was in their youth -- were concurrent. And they don't want to let go of that.
So to see Tiger still at it and in this most spectacular setting it sort of brings everything together. It actually brings whole families together because there are -- multiple generations are drawn to watching the masters on TV for all sorts of different reasons. Starting with the fact it's spring. But Tiger, especially, I think you're excited by the fact that we don't have to say good-bye to a chapter of our life. And I think saying good-bye to things that we -- that are meaningful to us is hard for all of us.
SMERCONISH: A quick final question. To your trained eye, do you see the way he's adapted to his injury? Can you -- can you detect differences in his swing and stance, or not really?
BAMBERGER: I think anybody who's been around golf can. If you compare Tiger -- 1997 when he won this tournament by 12 shots -- if you win by one or two, it's luck. If you win it by 12 -- he was so limber. He was like Gumby. And now he moves almost like a mechanical man.
He's really walking quite well. Sometimes you can detect a little bit of a limp. But it's a -- it's a much more controlled kind of swing. His body -- you know, he can't really do that much work on his lower body and he's got the ankles of a ballerina, but his upper body is built like a linebacker.
And so he sort of swings appropriately or what his body will allow him to do, which is a big upper body swing and a limited lower body swing. But if my -- if my colleague Luke Kerr-Dineen was with us now who's expert on the swing he can answer this question much better than I.
SMERCONISH: No, that was a pretty darn good answer. Michael, enjoy the day. I can't wait to watch. I'll see you soon.
BAMBERGER: All right. Take care, Michael.
SMERCONISH: I want to remind everybody, answer the survey question at Smerconish.com. I'm told that the social media reaction to this survey question is just as passionate as we have ever had in the years that we've been doing survey questions.
Should President Biden fulfill his campaign pledge to forgive at least $10,000 per student loan borrower? Results at the end of the hour.
But still to come, this week, the world saw even more horrors perpetrated against civilians in Ukraine. And America impose even more sanctions on Russia. At this point, why are there any remaining sanctions that haven't been imposed? Is any of this having an effect? U.S. ambassador to Poland Mark Brzezinski is here to discuss.
SMERCONISH: Why are we still imposing new sanctions on Russia? Don't misunderstand. I'm all for punishing Putin. But 45 days after the invasion began and after the evidence that we've seen of recent atrocities in Bucha, bodies of civilians tied up, shot, left to rot, and now, Kramatorsk where a missile hit a train station killing at least 50 I'm wondering why every sanction in our arsenal hasn't already been levied?
Every time I hear of a new sanction I ask, "Well, why hasn't that been already been imposed?" In the days leading up to and immediately after the February 24 invasion U.S. sanctions included, sanctions on various Russian state owned banks, companies, and individual oligarchs. Controlling technology exports. Sanctions on the U.S. property holdings of Putin, Lavrov and others. Expelling certain Russian banks from the SWIFT financial messaging system. Limiting oligarchs' golden passports which they use to skirt sanctions.
Then in March, as the Russian aggression stepped up so did the sanctions including banning Russian aircraft, passenger and cargo flights from entering U.S. airspace. Controlling exports to oil industry and other military operations. Banning imports of Russian oil, natural gas and coal. Raising tariffs, denying borrowing privileges. Restricting luxury export of goods. And other sanctions against Russian defense, marine and electronics companies, and members of the assembly.
And then this week, President Biden announced additional sanctions targeting two of Russia's largest banks and individuals with Kremlin ties including President Vladimir Putin's two adult daughters, Russia's largest chip building company and Russia's diamond mining companies. While Congress then voted overwhelmingly for two bills to punish Russia further to suspend normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus and to ban the use of Russian oil, gas and natural gas. So what's left in America's arsenal? And why is there anything left?
Joining me now is U.S. ambassador to Poland, Mark Brzezinski. He previously served as a diplomat in the Obama administration and on President Clinton's National Security Council. Mr. Ambassador, thank you so for being here. Is there anything left in the cookie jar of sanctions that we have not already hit them with?
MARK BRZEZINSKI, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO POLAND: Mike, thank you for having me and greetings from Warsaw, Poland, one of the most impacted countries by this crisis.
There are more things that we can do, but I think it's important to understand that sanctions take time to work. And the goal of those sanctions is to really press those around Vladimir Putin. To press those government officials, those financial elites, those business leaders, those tech professionals in the demographic supporting Putinism, and supporting this invasion.
But they take time to have effect. They take time for the people who are targeted to feel the pain. And they are, thankfully, not our only tool.
I think the Department of Treasury has been terrific in identifying almost 400 people and entities around Putin to press and to press hard while at the same time supplying the Ukrainian fighters who have shown the world that they know how to fight.
SMERCONISH: Is the incremental approach deliberate? And if not, why isn't the full kitchen sink already in?
BRZEZINSKI: I think the incremental approach is deliberate because we're trying to get President Putin to do a diplomatic off-ramp from this crisis. And we're ratcheting them up severely as this crisis gets more severe. Now, of course, Kramatorsk, Bucha, they raised everything to new levels. And, I think, what we're going to see is a maximum imposition of these sanctions. But again, Mike, they take time to work.
There's fewer places on earth that want this to stop more than here in Poland. I'm in the city, the capital city of Warsaw, Poland. Ten percent -- 10 percent of this population of this city is now recently arrived Ukrainian refugees, hoping, praying to go home, as soon as this war is over and as soon as the Russians are thrown out.
But unfortunately, it takes time to stop this invasion, because sanctions take time to work. That's the unfortunate fact about sanctions.
SMERCONISH: Mr. Ambassador, yesterday, on my radio program, John Lynch, founder of this group called Corporate Aid for Ukraine, joined me from Krakow and told me unbelievable stories about the Polish people and the lengths to which they have gone, without oversight, you know, outside the purview of formal groups that do this. Instead, just people responding and providing whatever assistance they can to Ukrainians who have had to flee their country. I know you're seeing it every day. Share that with the audience.
BRZEZINSKI: Sure. And I just really want to share this to my fellow Americans through you, Mike. There is a historic epic story ongoing here in Poland.
Poland is a country that has been victimized by Nazism, by communism. The world's greatest crimes, the holocaust have occurred here. And what you see here now are former victims rushing to the border to help victims.
It's young people, middle aged people, old people, getting into their cars, going to the border to pick up literally millions of Ukrainians pouring across the eight-border crossings like Medyka, Korczowa, near Przemysl in eastern Poland and taking them to their apartments, to their homes.
And what's amazing is that it is a national policy of the government of Poland to put people into homes as soon as they arrive here. Not to put them in refugee centers or have them stay in the parks or something like that. They are put in people's homes.
And they're given a stipend. They're given access to education. They're given access to health care. And importantly, they're given access to the job market. And one of the things I've been working with John on is aligning the business community. The Polish business community, the American business community, and the international business community to see what it is they can do together to build jobs and opportunities for these newest residents of Poland, the refugees from Ukraine.
SMERCONISH: Such a sad story, but what a silver lining and what a credit to the Polish people. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador, I appreciate your report.
BRZEZINSKI: True. Thank you, Mike.
SMERCONISH: Let's check in on your social media reaction, tweets, Facebook comments, some stuff from YouTube. What do we have?
Do you seriously still believe Putin cares about sanctions? Lauretta Pearl, I mean, I heard the explanation from the ambassador. He's the career diplomat and expert. And he said that the incremental approach is an intended approach.
As a lay person, you know from the sideline, watching all of this unfold on television the way that you are, I have just been wondering whatever -- whatever the arsenal is of sanctions, after a missile gets fired at a train station and kills as at least 50 who are seeking to flee their community in eastern Ukraine, all in. Put the kitchen sink of sanctions in now. That's my naive opinion.
Still to come, more of your best and worst tweets and Facebook comments. They tell me the social media is off the chart on this survey question. Who would have think it?
Go to Smerconish.com and tell me, should President Biden fulfill his campaign pledge to forgive at least $10,000 per student loan borrower? Register for the newsletter when you're there.
SMERCONISH: You know that in the White House and Wilmington and Rehoboth Beach, they are waiting to see the result of this week's survey question. So let's do it. Right now, from Smerconish.com, "Should President Biden fulfill his campaign pledge to forgive at least $10,000 per student loan borrower?"
Here's the result. Pretty close, 52 percent. A lot of voting, 22,000 and change have voted, and 52 percent, a majority, say, yes, he should. He made the pledge during the course of the campaign and he should.
Here's some of the social media reaction to today's program, especially on that issue. What do we have?
I believe Smerconish handpicks the tweets he shows before the show. He has an agenda and it's not always on democracy's side. He's an R. That's correct, Sandy. And I picked yours today. No, it is ridiculous. My radio show producer T.C. who is in the burbs of Philadelphia, she monitors the flood, the torrent of social media that comes on during the course of the program and I see nothing in advance. Watch the show regularly and see how I screw them up and you'll know that's the case.
More social media. What else do we have?
It's not pandemic politics. It's election politics. Well, come on. It's the pandemic being used for the election. The only reason Biden is doing this is because it's an election year.
I assume what you mean is, the only reason Biden is, what, allowing more forbearance on the student loan or do you think getting rid of Title 42? Because here is my theory. My theory is that as is often the case, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin this time and others are doing him a favor because if there's film footage come May 23rd or thereafter of migrants streaming across the border, the midterm election, which is also already dubious for Democrats, it's over, Johnny.
If Americans see that pent-up demand across the border that will be the end of any opportunity for Ds to maintain control of the House or the Senate. One more, because I think I have opportunity. What is it?
Only if we can address the cost of higher education first. Forgiving loans now isn't fair to those of us who paid our own and those in the future who will have even higher loans.
Yes. I mean, Kevin Taylor, it's not only the person who satisfied their debt but it's the person who is going to school in the fall. You know, what are they going to do if everybody else just had theirs canceled?
One last thing I want to mention. When you go to Smerconish.com, we'll leave the survey question up, keep voting. If you haven't already done so, then join Nancy Gold and go register for the daily Smerconish.com newsletter. It's free. See you next week.