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State of the Union

Interview With Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Interview With Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR); Interview With U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired October 24, 2021 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Deal or no deal? Racing to negotiate, Democrats scale back their plans for the social safety net.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We will have an agreement that will pass both houses.

TAPPER: The latest on what the bill will do and how Democrat will pay for it. I will speak exclusively with House Speaker Pelosi next.

And it's the economy, stupid. Americans worry about a supply chain backup ahead of the holidays, pain at the pump, and rising inflation. How bad will it get? Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen joins me exclusively in moments.

Plus: needing a boost. Some Americans rush to get another shot, as the gap grows between those who want the vaccine and those who refuse it. In a state where less than 50 percent are fully vaccinated, what, if anything, will convince them? Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson is ahead.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is wanting to be a fly on the wall.

President Joe Biden is hosting Democratic Senator Joe Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in Delaware today, as Biden puts increased pressure on his party to deliver a deal to upgrade the nation's social safety net and to take steps to combat climate change before Biden leaves for Europe on Thursday.

And Democrats have just seven days until October 31. That's the date that Speaker Nancy Pelosi set to advance President Biden's agenda. At a CNN town hall this week, President Biden expressed confidence his party would deliver.

But while it is now clear the size of the bill, the social policy bill, will be far less than the original $3.5 trillion, it is still not clear what will make it into the final package. Democrats have to make some tough choices about which of their big-ticket items to prioritize and how to pay for it, all to meet the demands of two Democratic senators who have been holdouts, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

Joining us now, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who is here in studio.

Thanks so much for joining us, Madam Speaker. Appreciate it.

PELOSI: My pleasure to be here. Thank you.

TAPPER: So, how close are you to a deal on this larger package of eldercare, day care, child care, family leave, that stuff, whatever you want to call the bill? The social safety net bill, we call it.

And will President Biden have a deal in hand when he leaves for Europe this week.

PELOSI: Well, first, thank you for the opportunity to talk about that this morning. I'm glad that you talked about COVID in your opening here, because that's how we start all of our meetings: What are we doing to protect the American people to stop the spread of COVID?

And I want to commend President Biden for having a completely different approach than his predecessor on this. We have to correct a lot of what went wrong then. And we're on a good path. And the good news about children being safely able to be vaccinated is something that will help stop the spread.

So, thank you for focusing on that, because that is...

TAPPER: We talk about it every day, all day.

PELOSI: And so do we in the House Democratic Caucus.


PELOSI: In terms of where we are, I have said already we have 90 percent of the bill agreed to and written. We just have some of the last decisions to be made.

It is less than we had -- was projected to begin with, but it's still bigger than anything we have ever done in terms of addressing the needs of America's working families. And it is about all that you said in terms of care, the care piece.

But it's also about the climate piece, which is a health issue, a jobs issue, a security issue, and a values issue for us. And we will have something that will help meet the -- that will meet the president's goals.

I feel very confident about that, even though it will be different than what we originally proposed.

TAPPER: By the time he leaves for Europe, do you think you will have a deal by Thursday or Friday?

PELOSI: No, I think we're -- I think we're pretty much there now.

TAPPER: You think you have a deal now?

PELOSI: We're almost -- we just -- it's just the language of it, but it will be -- it will not offend, shall we say, the concern that Senator Manchin had about the CEPP.

But, nonetheless, the point is to reach a goal and the president's goals of reaching the emissions, the pollution and all the rest.

TAPPER: Yes. So...

PELOSI: Because we were prepared with our select committee headed by Kathy Castor, we had other options.

TAPPER: Other ways to pay for it.

PELOSI: No, other ways to -- other ways to reach the goal and, yes, pay for it as well.

TAPPER: So I want to get to that in a second.

But just as a side issue, because there are a lot of people who are very eager for the bipartisan infrastructure bill to come up and be voted on as well -- and progressives have said they're not going to vote for that until there's at least a deal on the larger social safety net bill -- you have said the House must pass the bipartisan infrastructure plan by October 31...


PELOSI: ... which is a week from today.

TAPPER: Moderates are frustrated two deadlines have been missed because of the progressives.

Do you -- are you going to meet that goal?

PELOSI: No, wait a minute.

There was no deadline that was missed because of the progressives.


PELOSI: The deadline was missed because they changed from 3.5 to one- half that. And we have had to go in. It's land meet land. Everything is good in the bill. What do you cut?


PELOSI: So, in terms of this date, this date is fraught with meaning because, on October 31 is the day that the Highway Trust Fund authorization expires.

TAPPER: Right. PELOSI: And if that expires, we have to get billions of dollars

someplace to continue that. The best way to do that is to pass the BIF, having nothing to do with all the other, shall we say, deliberations that are going on.

Our chair of the committee, Peter DeFazio, who is a master of this, of the Infrastructure -- Transportation Infrastructure Committee, has said we must pass this right by October 31st.

TAPPER: Right.

But the reason I invoked progressives, I'm not blaming anything on them, but I'm just saying they have said, a sizable number of them, enough of them to tank the bill, that they will not vote for the BIF, the bipartisan infrastructure plan...

PELOSI: Right.

TAPPER: ... unless there is this framework agreed to.

PELOSI: No, that's right. You're absolutely right.

TAPPER: So, are you saying, in the next week, the framework will be agreed to or there will be a deal on the social safety net bill?

PELOSI: Let's call it an agreement.

TAPPER: An agreement.

There will be an agreement on that. And you will also vote for the bipartisan infrastructure bill? Both of those things will happen in the next week?

PELOSI: That's the plan.

TAPPER: That's the plan.

PELOSI: And, right now, we are just, as you indicated, the two Senate -- Leader Schumer, Mr. Manchin, Senator Manchin, and the president are having that the meeting on some of the particulars that need to be finalized.

And I'm optimistic that we can do that, because, again, one basket was climate...

TAPPER: Right.

PELOSI: ... which was jobs bill and a bill for the children, for the future, is the health care piece of it, of strengthening the Affordable Care Act, expanding Medicaid and expanding Medicare...


TAPPER: So, let's get into it. Let's get into some of these issues, because they're important for people to understand.

PELOSI: And then the third basket, as...


PELOSI: ... we're getting into it, just so we have a..


PELOSI: The third bucket is the care piece of it.

TAPPER: Care, eldercare, child care.

PELOSI: Child care.

TAPPER: Family leave.

PELOSI: Child care universal pre-K go together. Eldercare -- when we say home health care, that's for elder or children...

TAPPER: Right.

PELOSI: ... or siblings who are disabled or something like that.

TAPPER: So is family leave going to make it into the final bill? Those four weeks of paid family leave, is that going to be in the final bill?

PELOSI: That's our hope, yes.

TAPPER: That's your hope.

PELOSI: That's what we're fighting for. That's what we're fighting for.

TAPPER: So, Senator Sinema, who is a key Arizona Democrat vote in the Senate, Senator Sinema has said she will not support raising the corporate tax rate, raising the tax on high wage earners.

And President Biden has acknowledged that might mean you can't pay for the rest of the bill using those sources of revenue. Do you have an alternate way?

PELOSI: Yes, we do, because we were ready to pay for 3.5.

TAPPER: Right.

PELOSI: So, we certainly can pay for 1-point -- half of that.

TAPPER: And what are -- what is that alternate way? Is it a billionaires tax? Is it a minimum tax for corporations?

PELOSI: Well, the billionaires tax is a -- shall we say, has an appeal, but it doesn't produce that much money.


PELOSI: It's -- we -- because the bill is not written yet -- we hope it will be written today and introduced tomorrow -- only then can the Joint Tax Committee evaluate what it brings in. We anticipate $200 billion, $250 billion, but we need closer to $2 trillion.

TAPPER: So, where...

PELOSI: So, we have other things.

TAPPER: Such as?

PELOSI: Well, such as, we have enforcement. And that's several hundred billion dollars. We have the overseas harmonization of taxes, and that's a few hundred billion dollars.

We have an array. We have an array. And I'm not going to say what they are right here.

TAPPER: Corporate minimum tax, so that a -- Elizabeth Warren was talking on "THE LEAD" the other day about, if a company like Amazon makes hundreds of millions of dollars, billions of dollars, and pays zero, this would be legislation that requires that they pay something.

Is that in there?

PELOSI: Well, the president during his campaign had a market rate -- excuse me -- a book rate proposal, and that is being evaluated as well as to how much that brings in, but that's another way to tax the increase in wealth in corporate America.

But the thing is, is that whether we use the increase the corporate tax rate, increase in the tax of some the other aspects of it...

TAPPER: Yes, wealth tax, billionaires tax.

PELOSI: Well, no, just some other aspect to it.


PELOSI: Because we probably will have a wealth tax.


PELOSI: But, again, it's only 10 percent of what we -- you need.

And we -- the other things are more like $800 billion vs. $200 billion. But we can use them another time. They don't go away as a source of revenue to pay for how we go forward. And we want to pay for what we do.

TAPPER: But you said you probably will have a wealth tax?

PELOSI: Well, that is -- we will see. We haven't seen the bill yet.


TAPPER: Right. And you said also that it's being written right now, and you're going to send it to the... PELOSI: This is a Senate proposal.


PELOSI: And they supposedly are writing it today. Tomorrow, they would introduce it. And then Tax -- the Joint Tax Committee is the one that says, this is how much you get from that.

But again, on our side, we have been totally ready with alternatives.

TAPPER: Right.

PELOSI: In terms of House and Senate and the White House, we have plenty of alternatives. We're ready.

TAPPER: So, what is your response to progressives who say what "The Washington Post" editorial board said, that Democrats are in danger of breaking the promise to roll back the Trump tax cuts and to fully pay for the plan?

PELOSI: Well, we're going to fully pay for the plan.

TAPPER: You are?

PELOSI: We will probably more than pay for the plan.

And one bill does not make a -- we -- look. Look at what the president has done.

TAPPER: You might still take another crack at getting rid of the Trump...

PELOSI: We had the rescue package, $1.9 trillion. We have the infrastructure bill, over a trillion dollars. That's around $3 trillion. And we will have this at $2 trillion.

Nobody has done anything that remarkable. So, while it isn't everything that was put out originally, it does -- it takes us down a path where we can continue investments in these.

Now, this piece, the care piece that -- I did the climate, health -- the care piece is the -- all three of them make a -- transformative, America's working families.

TAPPER: Yes. It is a big bill.

PELOSI: It's a very big bill.

TAPPER: And it would do -- it would accomplish a lot.

PELOSI: Even at half, it's a very big bill.

TAPPER: So, let me ask you, because one of the questions right now is paid family leave. You said that you hope that that's going to be in there, four weeks of paid family leave...


TAPPER: ... and the expansion of Medicare to enjoy -- to include, rather, dental, vision and hearing coverage.


TAPPER: Is that going to be in the bill?

PELOSI: Well, that's part of the negotiation.

Dental is very expensive. So, hearing and -- hearing and visual and dental, but dental will take a little longer to implement. But that's part of the negotiation right now.

TAPPER: So, you don't know what's going to be in the final bill?

PELOSI: Well, we will see what...

TAPPER: It sounds like you're saying dental might not make it because it's so expensive.

PELOSI: Well, it will make -- it'll be on a path. It will be on a path.

But what they told us -- and I don't quite understand why, but they have -- we have been told by people who know about these things that it'll take five, six years in order to implement the dental.


PELOSI: So, how do we -- how do we, shall we say, fill in the blank there?

Bernie has some suggestions about how to do that. That will be part of the negotiations.

TAPPER: Bernie Sanders, the independent from Vermont.

PELOSI: Bernie Sanders.

TAPPER: Are you frustrated?

I mean, you talk about how you're almost there, except for 10 percent of the bill. And you also talk about how the House is there. You guys are ready. You're going to pass it. And it's really these two Senate holdouts, Sinema and Manchin.

Are you frustrated with them?

PELOSI: Well, I'm respectful of everybody's point of view.

I do not want the Bush tax -- excuse me. I don't want the Trump tax cuts perpetuated. So, I don't want anybody to think, if we don't address those right now, that that's -- they're off the table. No, we will use them for something at some point, because you can't use the wealth tax and tax of billionaires, which is what we should be doing, and let corporate America off the hook.

But corporate America will be paying because of the overseas tax. And some of the other provisions are very technical to go into right now.


PELOSI: We will know more tomorrow to see what makes the cut.

TAPPER: What makes the cut.

PELOSI: And then worth it, the time, to go into it.

TAPPER: There's also this issue of the debt ceiling, right?

PELOSI: Yes. Well, that's a different -- that's separate.

TAPPER: It's a separate issue.

But, but in terms of how you get it through the Congress to President Biden's desk, maybe separate, maybe not.

Congress acted to raise the debt ceiling through December 3. After that, Republican leader, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, says you're on your own, we're not going to provide any votes for Democrats.

A default obviously would be devastating for the American economy, for the world economy. Are you willing to attach raising the debt ceiling to the social safety net package, or, if not, to use reconciliation, which means only 50 votes -- 51 votes needed in the Senate anyway, in order to get this done?

PELOSI: That's one path.

But we're still hoping to have bipartisanship. It seems that the American people should understand that what we're talking about is largely the Trump debt.

TAPPER: Right.

PELOSI: Now, we participated in some of it with COVID and the rest, but we didn't participate in giving a tax scam, 83 percent of the benefits to the top 1 percent that added $2 trillion to the debt.

President -- President Biden's part of this debt is about 3 percent.

TAPPER: Right.

PELOSI: And yet the Republicans, who when President -- the former president was in office, three times, we had to do something about the national debt.

Now, look at what is in jeopardy. Even talking about it is not a good idea, because even placing in doubt whether it...


TAPPER: Right.

PELOSI: It's not a good idea, because it can lower the credit rating of our country, as it did when the Republicans did not want to increase it when President Obama was president.


PELOSI: It seems they're OK with it when there's a Republican president, but not a Democrat.

Six to seven million jobs could be lost, $15 trillion in household wealth, consequences that could last for decades.

TAPPER: Why not get rid of the debt ceiling?

PELOSI: Well, that's what we have a plan to do as well.

There are a number of plans to do that. But would the Republicans agree to that before we again...



PELOSI: ... the debt ceiling.

TAPPER: So your mind is -- your mind is open in terms of whether or not you use reconciliation or whether or not you attach it to the social safety net bill?


But we still would rather have bipartisanship, whether it's a Democratic president or Republican president.

TAPPER: Right. But you probably won't have it, so you will consider these options, is all I'm saying.

I want to ask you...

PELOSI: Yes. And it's very, very, very important.

TAPPER: Absolutely.

The House voted on Friday to hold former Trump ally Steve Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress for ignoring a subpoena. Do you think people who refuse to comply with congressional subpoenas should be prosecuted by the Justice Department and, at the end of the day, go to jail?


TAPPER: You do?

PELOSI: I do. I do. Well, first of all, this -- people said, well, this hasn't happened

before. We haven't had an insurrection incited by the president of the United States and one of his toadies having knowledge of -- advanced knowledge of that happening.

So, in fact, it's important for a number of reasons. It's important for us to find the truth about what happened on January 6, an assault on our Constitution, our Congress, and out Capitol.

But it's also important to -- in terms of the separation of power and the checks and balances of the Constitution, which is the genius of the Constitution...

TAPPER: Absolutely.

PELOSI: ... for this to happen in this way.

TAPPER: So, you're willing, if the -- if the committee decides to subpoena Trump, you're willing to have that happen too?

PELOSI: I'm not -- they have everything on the table. I don't get involved in the decisions of the committee.


PELOSI: But when you say, if he should do this and go to jail, well, he will be tried and see what is...

TAPPER: It will be in court, yes, a court hearing.


PELOSI: I want you to take a listen to a key moment in which President Biden was talking about voting rights in the CNN town hall with Anderson Cooper the other night. Take a listen.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: When it comes to voting rights, just so I'm clear, though, you would entertain the notion of doing away with the filibuster on that one issue? Is that correct?



TAPPER: So, that is President Biden saying that he is willing to entertain the notion of getting rid of the filibuster for Voting Rights Act and maybe for other things as well.

Do you agree with him on that one issue that, at the end of the day, having some sort of voting rights bill is more important than preserving the filibuster, at least for that one vote?

PELOSI: The most important vote right now in the Congress of the United States is the vote to respect the sanctity of the vote, the fundamental basis of our democracy, so if there were one vote that the filibuster could enable to go forward, that would be the vote, and enable so much more, because we're talking about stopping the suppression of the vote and the nullification of the elections.

We're talking about redistricting in a way that is fair and may not benefit Democrats, but it might open up some of these Republican seats. It talks about stopping the big, dark, crushing special interest money and empowers the grassroots.

This is -- and then, in addition to that, the Voting Rights Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights -- John Lewis wrote the first 300 pages of the first bill.


PELOSI: Mr. Manchin has weighed in. The compromise that they voted on last week is perfectly good. And -- but he didn't get any Republican votes.


TAPPER: So it's worth it to you to...

PELOSI: Well, no, it's fundamental to our democracy.

TAPPER: Right.

PELOSI: It's just fundamental.

Now, mind you, just to remind, when what's-his-name was president and the...

TAPPER: Donald Trump?

PELOSI: ... Republicans were in power. Mitch McConnell pulled back the bill, filibuster, to enable with simple majorities three justices to go to the Supreme Court for life.

You would think that they could pull it back for the American people to have the vote in a way that...

TAPPER: So, you're on board with that as the only thing.


PELOSI: I'm not only on board. It's the most important vote.

TAPPER: You're leading the way.

PELOSI: It's about our Constitution.

TAPPER: You're not just on board.

Quickly, I do want to ask about your own future in Congress. Are you going to run for reelection?

PELOSI: Oh, you think I'm going to make an announcement right here and now?



TAPPER: Why not?


PELOSI: I will have to be on many more times than that.

TAPPER: You're going to run for reelection, though, yes?

PELOSI: Why would I tell you that now?

Well, it's not just me.

PELOSI: I always...

TAPPER: It's the world. It's an international show.


PELOSI: Well, probably I would have that conversation with my family first, if you don't mind.



TAPPER: Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

PELOSI: Thank...

TAPPER: And best of luck with the legislation.

PELOSI: Thank you.

TAPPER: And I know it's a heavy lift.

PELOSI: Thank you. My pleasure to be here. Thank you.

TAPPER: High gas prices and a backed-up supply chain just before the holidays. What is the Biden administration doing to fix it and when?

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will join me exclusively next.

Plus: millions more Americans now eligible for boosters for COVID. Is the divide between the vaccinated and the anti-vaccine crowd widening?


Stay with us.


TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

COVID cases and deaths are on the decline, but it is clear that the economic effects of the pandemic are going to play out for months, even years.

And, as Americans look ahead to the holiday season, they're currently worried about rising inflation driving up the cost of many goods, a backed-up supply chain delaying their orders, and painfully high prices at the gas pump.

Joining us now to discuss, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

Secretary Yellen, good to see you. Thanks so much for joining us.

We have a lot to get to.


But, first, you just heard Speaker Pelosi. She floated some new ways to pay for this bill, such as a wealth tax, because it does appear that the plans to raise the corporate tax rate and raising the tax rate for top wage earners are out.

With those off the table, can you still guarantee that this bill is going to be paid for?

JANET YELLEN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: As the speaker noted, we have a variety of different ways to raise revenue.

And, all in all, it should be relatively straightforward to raise the revenue necessary to pay for this bill. The final package exactly, what's in and out hasn't been decided. That's being negotiated now.

TAPPER: Do you think that a wealth tax will be part of it? And can you explain what that would look like?

YELLEN: Well, I think what's under consideration is a proposal that Senator Wyden and the Senate Finance Committee have been looking at that would impose a tax on unrealized capital gains, on liquid assets held by extremely wealthy individuals, billionaires.

I wouldn't call that a wealth tax. But it would help get at capital gains, which are an extraordinarily large part of the incomes of the wealthiest individuals, and right now escape taxation, until they're realized, and often they're unrealized in the death benefit from a so- called step up of basis.

So, it's not a wealth tax, but a tax on unrealized capital gains of exceptionally wealthy individuals.

TAPPER: The Biden administration is trying to reach this deal to spend about another $2 trillion. That makes a total of an extraordinary $5 trillion in spending this year.

Inflation, of course, is growing at its fastest pace in 30 years. If the American economy is already overheating, is spending even more money potentially pouring gas on the inflation fire?

YELLEN: Well, the additional spending in the infrastructure package and in the Build Back Better package, both of those are spending over 10 years, not in a single year. The rescue package did involve substantial spending this year.

And let's remember that a benefit of that package is that unemployment has declined to 4.8 percent, that Americans tell us they feel confident they can find jobs. Now, the size of the labor force has declined. It's not moved back to pre-pandemic levels, in part because of COVID, because of health concerns, because of child care concerns, school concerns.

And so many firms are experiencing a shortage of labor. The COVID shock to the economy has caused disruptions that we will be working through over the next year. And, of course, Americans haven't seen inflation like we have experienced recently in a long time.


YELLEN: But as we get back to normal, expect that to end.

And already, on a monthly basis, the inflation numbers are way down below their peaks.


YELLEN: The COVID crisis markedly diminished spending on services and caused a reallocation of spending toward goods. And the supply of goods to Americans has increased substantially, but there's still pressure there.

And there are shutdowns and COVID impacts in Asia...


YELLEN: ... where we import many goods from.

And so we're experiencing a lot of supply bottlenecks.

TAPPER: Right.

YELLEN: There's a shortage of semiconductors. And that's pushed up the prices of used cars and caused a reduction in production of new cars.

And this is temporary pains that result from a COVID economy and getting beyond it. So...

TAPPER: Right. So let me ask you about that, because this rising inflation is hitting Americans' wallets hard, impacting everything from gas prices to groceries.

When do you expect the inflation to get back to the 2 percent range, which is considered normal? 2022? 2023? When?


YELLEN: Well, I expect that to happen next year.

Monthly rates of inflation have already fallen substantially from the very high rates that we saw in the spring and early summer. On a 12- month basis, the inflation rate will remain high into next year because of what's already happened.

But I expect improvement by the end of -- by the middle to end of next year, second half of next year.

TAPPER: Second half of 2022.

Former President Obama's Treasury Secretary Larry Summers has been sounding alarm bells for months about rising prices. Take a listen to his response to what he calls very disturbing inflation numbers out last week.


LAWRENCE SUMMERS, FORMER DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: Now we see inflation becoming more widespread in a wider range of products, spreading to the housing and labor markets.

I have been alarmed for a long time, and I'm more alarmed now.


TAPPER: More alarmed now.

And Summers added this warning -- quote -- "We're in more danger than we have been during my career of losing control of inflation in the U.S."

Is he wrong?

YELLEN: I think he's wrong, I don't think we're about to lose control of inflation.

I agree, of course, we are going through a period of inflation that's higher than Americans have seen in a long time. And it's something that's obviously a concern and worrying them. But we haven't lost control.

And, as we make further progress on the pandemic, I expect these bottlenecks to subside. Americans will return to the labor force as conditions improve. And, remember, the spending that we did that partially has caused this high demand for goods, it's been very important in making sure that the pandemic hasn't had a scarring effect on American workers.

It's given them enough income and support to get through this without -- while still being able to put food on their table and keep roofs over their heads.

TAPPER: Right. YELLEN: And when you don't hear people talking about, I'm worried

about being able to get a job, remember, that's a very good impact that the rescue packages had.

And what we're talking about with infrastructure and Build Back Better, this is a relatively small amount of spending over a decade. And we need this spending to make our economy productive...

TAPPER: Right.

YELLEN: ... to make sure that families have the support to take care of their children and to work. And it will boost labor force participation.

TAPPER: So, Secretary Yellen, you referred to this earlier, but I want to ask you.

There's this record-breaking 4.3 million Americans who left their jobs just in August. It's a pandemic phenomenon some are now calling the Great Resignation. This comes is almost 11 million jobs are currently open and waiting to be filled.

What's going on here? Why are Americans not taking these jobs? And what are you and the White House doing to get people back to work?

YELLEN: Well, right now, we have a very tight labor market.

And when the labor market is tight and Americans feel good about their ability to get another job, they're more likely to quit a job. They're getting outside job offers and taking them. And that shows up in those statistics.

So we have a good, tight labor market. Firms are obviously having trouble hiring workers.But labor supply is depressed by the pandemic. That's because of health concerns, because of child care. And as we get beyond the pandemic, I expect labor supply to increase.

And I -- it's good, I think, to see wages begin to rise, especially for those Americans who had the most insecure jobs and the lowest wages. And to see some improvement there is something that we should be pleased with

TAPPER: You have projected that the U.S. is going to run out of money to pay its bills on December 3 unless Congress acts to once again raise the debt ceiling.

Senator Mitch McConnell says Democrats are going to have to do it alone. And so we just talked to Speaker Pelosi about whether or not they're going to do it with reconciliation.

What -- how concerned are you that, ultimately, a default might actually happen this time?

YELLEN: Well, I consider it utterly essential that the debt ceiling be raised.


It's simply inconceivable that America should prove itself unwilling to pay the bills it's already incurred. And let's be clear. The debt ceiling is not about future spending or tax policy, on which members of Congress may disagree. It is about paying the bills that result from past decisions of Congress about spending and taxation.

It would be utterly catastrophic, something that has not ever happened in the history of America. Our assets, our treasuries are regarded as the safest assets on the planet, because America can be counted on, always has, to pay its bills.

I personally believe this is a responsibility that Republicans and Democrats should share.


YELLEN: I think it's something that both parties should do together.

It's a housekeeping matter, doing what's necessary to pay our bills. I have confidence it will get done, but I will leave it to the speaker and to Leader Schumer to figure out what the best way is forward on that.

TAPPER: Lastly, Madam Secretary, I asked Senator Elizabeth Warren a few days ago about why she opposes renominating Fed Chair Jerome Powell. She calls him a dangerous man. Take a listen.


TAPPER: If he reappoints Powell, will you fight it? Will you filibuster it? Will you stop it?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): I will oppose it. And I will use the tools I have got.

I don't want to make another five year bet on someone whose entire attitude is that he is not going to work to rein in the giant financial institutions.


TAPPER: Bloomberg reports that you privately support renominating Fed Chair Jerome Powell for another term.

Is that true? Do you support the renomination of Jerome Powell?

YELLEN: Well, I'm not going to talk about the advice that I'm giving to the president. It's up to him to decide what's best.

But I would say that, during his term, and during my term and Bernanke's term, regulation of financial institutions has been markedly strengthened. It's important to note that, when the pandemic struck, although there were huge stresses in financial markets, that the core of our financial system did very well because of the improvements in capital liquidity, risk management, stress testing. And those improvements have stayed in place during the Powell regime.

TAPPER: All right, Secretary Janet Yellen, thank you so much for your time today. We appreciate it.

YELLEN: Thanks for having me.

TAPPER: Governors may have some power to help ease supply chain issues. I will ask one governor what can be done on the state level next.

Plus: a horrible tragedy on a film set in New Mexico this week. And what happened next, well, that was also pretty awful.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

Some Americans are now getting another COVID shot this weekend, after the CDC approved boosters for those who got the Moderna vaccine, as well as everybody who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago.

But as the pace of boosters rise and the federal government prepares for the possibility that vaccines for 5-to-11-year-olds will be approved in the coming weeks, some states are still struggling to get their citizens vaccinated at all.

Joining us now to discuss, Arkansas Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson.

Governor Hutchinson, we will get to the pandemic in a sec.

But, first, I just want to get your reaction. You heard Speaker Pelosi lay out her plans for the legislation coming her way, Secretary Yellen, Treasury secretary, talking about inflation. You're a governor in the middle of the country. What's your reaction?

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR): Well, the greatest concern Americans have right now is the rising cost of fuel, gasoline and groceries.

And whenever you hear Speaker Pelosi talk about the trillion-dollar package, she -- it hasn't been written. It can't be explained. You did a great job asking her questions about it, but it was as clear as mud.

And what that tells the American people is, we have got inflationary pressures that impact them. It's the cruelest tax. And now all we see is more government spending, a trillion-dollar plan that's out there, multitrillion dollars, and it can't be explained.

So it's really worrisome, as a governor, to hear what's planned. We do need the bipartisan infrastructure bill. It is critical for roads. It's for broadband. It's for water infrastructure. But this social engineering plan that they have that's trillions of dollars is simply going to add to inflationary pressures that's already costing the average American a great deal.

TAPPER: Let's turn to COVID if we can, because only 47 percent of your state, Arkansas, is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. It places Arkansas in the bottom 10 in the country for vaccinations.

Now, you're vaccinated, and you have been very clearly encouraging Arkansans to get vaccinated for months. Why are so many Arkansans still refusing?

HUTCHINSON: Well, first of all, we are making progress. And those that have been vaccinated are now lining up to get their booster shots. So, we do see it as our way out.

The resistance is hard in some areas. And part of it is simply because of the controversy because of the mandates. It deepens the resistance. And so that's something we have to overcome.


But I don't see that controversy going away any time soon. With OSHA issuing mandates for businesses to require vaccination of employees, that's going to intensify the controversy.

We can make progress step by step in terms of increasing vaccination, but the side circus in terms of that controversy, there will be lawsuits filed. So that's going to continue for some time. We're going to continue to push for vaccine adoption. Whenever you see what's happened in the U.K. with an increase in cases, we know that COVID can throw us more curves coming down the road. We want to be prepared with increased vaccination.

TAPPER: So, last week, you admitted that businesses imposing their own vaccine mandates are effective in getting vaccine rates up.

You also said you're -- quote -- "a defender of the employer's right to provide a healthy workplace" -- unquote -- if they decide to impose those.

Now, I understand you are not comfortable with the government, whether state or federal, imposing mandates on businesses. But wouldn't you be saving lives if you imposed a vaccine mandate on state employees who ultimately work for you?

HUTCHINSON: Well, they would -- it would probably increase vaccination rates.

But it also would increase the resistance of some. Some would lose their job. It would hurt their families. And it would in the broader population also create that controversy and resistance. So it's a balance there.

And that's why private businesses should have the opportunity, the -- if they want to require a vaccination in their sensitive workplace, they ought to be able to do that. But government doesn't need to tell them to do that. I'm for reducing mandates across the board in regard to the vaccinations.

People will make the right decision over time when they get the right information. And so, sure, Tyson's have required vaccination. Their rate goes up. Others that are urging it to happen in their workplace, it goes up there as well.

And so I think it's a balance. But what works in Arkansas is not the mandate side of it, but it's the education side and businesses having the prerogative to make their own decision without the government telling them what to do.

TAPPER: Arkansas requires children entering schools to be vaccinated for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, hepatitis A, chicken pox.

Once it is fully approved by the FDA, would it save lives if you added the COVID vaccine to this list for mandatory vaccines for children?

HUTCHINSON: Well, let's look at that more deeply.

First of all, those are state-by-state vaccine requirements. And so the federal government has never mandated what happens in the states and schools.

TAPPER: No, I'm asking you.

HUTCHINSON: Those are state-by-state decisions.


TAPPER: Yes. I'm just talking about what Arkansas mandates. And these are Arkansas mandates.

HUTCHINSON: Absolutely.

And so there may be a time in the future that you would want to mandate that in the schools. But that time is not now. We need to have more experience with that. We need to have more public acceptance of it, of the vaccine.

And so it could happen down the road. It also depends upon the severity of the COVID outbreak and whether the cases skyrocket again or not. Right now, they're at a very low level in Arkansas. And so it can happen. It may happen. But now's not the right time to do that. We need to know more information and to be able to build public confidence at a greater point.

But it is a state decision.

TAPPER: You have said -- quote -- "Relitigating 2020 is a recipe for disaster in 2022," as President Trump is still out there pushing the big lie, attacking your fellow Republicans for sticking to the facts, going after individual lawmakers who maintained the rule of law in the 2020 election, like Secretary Raffensperger in Georgia, for example. How worried are you about the state of the Republican Party as we approach the midterms next year?

HUTCHINSON: I'm actually very optimistic about the Republican Party, because, first of all, you look at our competition, and the Democratic Party is divided. They have their extremes that they're concerned about.

Secondly, when we're talking about keeping the line on taxes and government spending and reducing inflation, that's where America is right now. And then we have got great candidates.

Glenn Youngkin in Virginia is doing a great job there, has a great potential to win that race this year. And so that's an example of what we need to do in looking at the future, providing solutions for America, vs. the past and 2020. Let's move on.


TAPPER: Well, the one thing I'd say about that is Glenn Youngkin has not fully embraced Donald Trump the way that I think he would like to be embraced, in the way we have seen other people do it.

Do you think that's one of the reasons why this race is competitive?

HUTCHINSON: Well, I think Glenn has balanced and handled it very well, talking about the future.


HUTCHINSON: And I -- he hasn't depended -- his race has not depended upon Donald Trump, nor should it.

TAPPER: All right, Governor Asa Hutchinson, thank you so much. Appreciate your time.

HUTCHINSON: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: This week on the set of a film in New Mexico, actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun that killed his cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, and wounded the director, Joel Souza. A horrific and tragic incident.

We will ultimately learn what went so wrong and accountability, of course, is essential. But before we can even get to that, there is the tragedy of this moment. Halyna Hutchins was 42, from Ukraine, a rising star in her field. The wife of Matthew Hutchins, the mother of a boy Andros Hutchins. Heartbreaking for normal people. But there's something about our politics right now that is driving people away from our shared humanity.

Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert of Colorado apparently spent some time and did some digging and found an Alec Baldwin tweet from 2014 about the "Hands up, don't shoot" movement. Baldwin, is, of course, not only a progressive but very aggressive and outspoken about liberal issues, including gun control. The Colorado congresswoman thought it was funny to exploit "Hands up,

don't shoot" to make a joke at the expense of Baldwin but more importantly really to make a joke at the expense of Halyna Hutchins and her husband Matthew and their son Andros.

More disappointing, perhaps, was a tweet from J.D. Vance, a former marine, Yale Law grad, author of "Hillbilly Elegy." Vance was even for a time a CNN contributor, hired because of his perceived insight and empathy. Vance is a conservative for whom a lot of folks once had great hope would rise to become a real leader but he's running in the Senate Republican primary in Ohio that seems to have become the fear factor for American politics, with contestants positioned against one another, as to who can confirmatively appeal best to the lowest common denominator.

Vance, joking, asked for Twitter to remove its ban on Donald Trump, because, quote, "We need Alec Baldwin tweets." In other words, Vance appears to be saying we need to see Donald Trump attack Alec Baldwin hours after this tragedy, at this moment, to exploit this horror in which an innocent woman, mother, wife, artist was killed.

Vance seems to want Trump to attack and mock for a global audience Alec Baldwin for killing a woman in what almost certainly was a tragic accident, regardless of the pain of Matthew Hutchins or Andros Hutchins. And however this impacts Baldwin, and really, I mean, how might such an incident impact you?

And he did this -- J.D. Vance, he did this why? Presumably because he thinks it will help him win supporters. He did it to win votes. In other words, the cruelty is a feature of his candidacy, not a bug.

Vance is seemingly following the playbook of Donald Trump, whose response to the death of Secretary Colin Powell a few days ago was to issue a statement attacking Powell. Following similar attacks that he made against the late John McCain and the late John Dingell, after they had died.

Violations of basic decency, ones we see repeatedly with the Republican Party's embrace of individuals such as Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene from Georgia. Her reaction in 2018 to a deadly fire in the Western United States was to go on Facebook and speculate that wealthy Jewish Americans might be using lasers to cause the fires to make money somehow. A deranged anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. Nuts. One that was brought up by Congresswoman Liz Cheney when Marjorie Taylor Greene started berating Cheney on the House floor this week.

Now, Cheney has been ostracized by her party for standing against Trump lies and for wanting to get to the bottom of the deadly insurrection on January 6th. Green, well, she was described by one Democratic congressman as seeming rather gleeful on that day, January 6th. Though Green staff denies it.

Either way, ask yourself, which of these congresswomen is more likely to be given a speaking slot at the 2024 Republican Convention? A longtime Republican official texted me after J.D. Vance's tweet,

quote, "being a horrible person," he wrote, "is now actually a job requirement in this party," unquote. I hope to God that that Republican official was wrong.

Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us. "Fareed Zakaria GPS" is next.