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State of the Union
Interview With Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA); Interview With Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH); Interview With Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH). Aired 9-10a ET
Aired August 28, 2022 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DANA BASH, CNN HOST (voice-over): Forgive, and don't forget it. President Biden follows through on his promise to cancel student loan debt.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a game-changer.
BASH: But while Republicans oppose the move and progressives push for more, what effect will it actually have on Americans and the economy?
I will speak exclusively to Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren next.
And making headway? Democrats see opportunity in key midterm races, as Republicans readjust on top issues. Is the momentum enough for Democrats to keep the Senate and the House? The Democratic nominee for Senate in red state Ohio, Congressman Tim Ryan, joins me in moments.
Plus: unsealed. The redacted Mar-a-Lago affidavit sheds light on America's secrets at risk and the FBI's repeated efforts to get them back. Could the former president or his associates face criminal charges?
I will speak to the Republican governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu, ahead.
BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash in Washington, where the state of our union is feeling competitive.
Democrats are starting to feel some optimism about holding on to the Senate and even dreaming of keeping the House, after a string of shifting political dynamics and policy moves, including this week's controversial decision by President Biden to forgive student loan debt of up to $20,000 for some Americans
The policy details are drawing critics on both sides of the aisle. But the move allows the president to keep a campaign promise and will provide relief to tens of millions of people.
Republicans, who wanted the midterms to be a referendum on President Biden, are now contending with a near constant stream of new information about the former president.
Saturday, the U.S. intelligence chief informed Congress she is conducting a damage assessment of the documents taken from Mar-a-Lago, including a -- quote -- "assessment of the potential risk to national security."
Her announcement comes after Friday's release of the redacted search warrant affidavit, which showed the FBI retrieved 184 classified documents from Mar-a-Lago in January, including files that could compromise human sources, and argued they're -- that they would also be likely looking at evidence of obstruction.
Well, joining me now is Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Senator, I want to get to student loan debt and all that is happening with that policy change in a moment, but I want to start with these new developments that we learned about in the FBI search at Mar-a- Lago.
The affidavit points to potential obstruction of justice and mishandling government documents. Given what we have learned this week, do you see evidence that the former president committed a crime? And, if so, do you think Attorney General Merrick Garland should charge him?
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Look, I am deeply alarmed about what we're learning, because it's not only about whether or not Donald Trump broke the law, but it's that he could be putting our national security at risk. He could be putting the lives of individual people who work for the United States at risk.
But I think it's powerfully important that we give the Justice Department the space to follow the evidence wherever it leads, without fear or favor. If they have the evidence, they will bring the charges and prosecute appropriately. And I support them in that.
BASH: Senator, let's turn to President Biden's decision to cancel billions of dollars in student loans.
You have been pushing for this for a long time.
BASH: It was a key part of your presidential campaign. And yet this debt relief is not as much as you wanted.
Are you disappointed that President Biden didn't go further?
WARREN: I am so happy to see what has happened.
I recognize that, right now, hardworking families, middle-class families, working-class families have gotten some real relief. Think about it this way. Most of the relief that the president has given -- remember, the majority of people are going to get $20,000 in student loan debt relief; 40 percent of the folks who have student loans do not have a college diploma, four-year diploma.
These are people who are truck drivers and who are nail technicians and nurses' aides. They are actually going to get their debt canceled out. And that means they're going to be able to build stronger futures for themselves and for their children.
This is about America investing in people who work hard, who play by the rules, and who just need a government on their side. And Joe Biden has done what Joe Biden does best. He has delivered for working families.
BASH: Well, on that note, Senator, I want you to listen to one reaction from a small business owner, who thinks that he has played by the rules.
His name is Bryan Lonsberry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRYAN LONSBERRY, SMALL BUSINESS OWNER: We have done the sacrifices, the no vacations, and no out to eats. And now I'm on the other side.
The reason it upsets me so much is, are we setting a good example? It's a little upsetting that we kept paying and struggled and through everything, and then other people just gave up and quit. And I wasn't raised to quit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: What do you say to Bryan and others who say that this is really not fair, that student loan is just one kind of debt, and there are other people who don't have that, but have other struggles that the government isn't helping them with?
WARREN: You know, I think a lot about fairness. And I think about how education debt is different from other debt.
I look at it this way. I wanted to be a public school teacher from the time I was in second grade. My daddy ended up as a janitor, and there was no money for me to go to college. But I found a public university that cost $50 a semester.
And for a price I could pay for on a part-time waitressing job, I finished a four year diploma, I became a special education teacher, and it opened a million doors for me.
That opportunity is not out there today for any of our kids. Our public education system is no longer creating opportunities for kids like me and other kids whose families can't afford to write a check. Instead, we're saying to these young people, you have got to get an education, but we are going to wrap the chains of debt around you.
And, for many, you're going to be paying it for decades into the future, including getting Social Security checks garnished. That's not the America we want.
BASH: Well, I'm not sure...
WARREN: We want to be an America of opportunity.
BASH: Yes, but I'm not sure that this -- relieving this amount of debt changes the cost of college. The cost of college is still exorbitant.
WARREN: Well, look, part of what it does is, it deals with the debt that has been built up because the cost of college has gone up, because taxpayers have made fewer investments in our public colleges and universities, because for-profit colleges have swooped in and figured out that they can cheat a lot of students.
We have a lot of problems in the whole system. The president has done what he can do with the tool in front of him. And that is, he's helped relieve the debt burden for millions of Americans; 20 million Americans woke up and said, for the first time in their adult lives, they will not owe student loan debt. Another 23 million are going to be helped.
And these are principally people -- they're veterans. They are people who are the first generation to go to college. They're mamas and daddies who this was their chance to go back to school and try to build up some economic security.
We need -- we need to deal directly with the cost of college, absolutely. And the Democrats have put multiple plans on the table. I have got a bill right now on college transparency, to bring down costs.
And you know where the Republicans are on it? No. They will not help us bring down the cost of college. We get some more seats in 2022 election in November, then we can attack directly the cost of college. I'm all for it.
BASH: Well, I'm going to ask you about that in a minute, but I want to ask more broadly about the economy.
BASH: The Fed chair, Jerome Powell, signaled this week forceful and rapid action on inflation.
It could be coming by keeping interest rates high for some time. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: While higher interest rates, slower growth, and softer labor market conditions will bring down inflation, they will also bring some pain to households and businesses.
These are the unfortunate costs of reducing inflation. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Is raising interest rates again a mistake? And how likely do you think it is that a recession is coming if the interest rates continue to go up?
WARREN: I just want to translate what Jerome Powell just said.
What he calls some pain means putting people out of work, shutting down small businesses, because the cost of money goes up because the interest rates go up. But what worries me most here...
BASH: So it sounds like you do think it's a mistake to raise interest rates again.
WARREN: I am very -- I am very worried about this, because the causes of inflation, things like the fact that COVID is still shutting down parts of the economy around the world, that we still have supply chain kinks, that we still have a war going on in Ukraine that drives up the cost of energy, and that we still have these giant corporations that are engaging in price gouging, there is nothing in raising the interest rates, nothing in Jerome Powell's tool bag that deals directly with those.
And he has admitted as much in congressional hearings when I have asked him about it. Do you know what's worse than high prices and a strong economy? It's high prices and millions of people out of work.
I'm very worried that the Fed is going to tip this economy into recession.
BASH: Senator, we're out of time.
It sounds like you do think Democrats are going to do better than maybe once thought in November. But I'm going to have you back on and talk more about that as we get into the campaign season, if you will come on.
WARREN: You bet.
BASH: OK. Thanks, Senator. Thanks for joining me this morning.
And my next guest is a Democrat who's criticizing the president over what we just talked about, student loan relief. Congressman Tim Ryan on that and his surprisingly close Senate race in Ohio.
Plus, Republican Governor Chris Sununu on why Republicans are suddenly worried about some key midterm races. He's coming up also.
BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. As Republicans face new concerns about key midterm races, one red state Senate seat they're defending is Ohio, where Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan is bringing in huge fund-raising numbers and proving to be a strong competitor against Republican nominee J.D. Vance.
Here with me now is Tim Ryan, the Democratic nominee for Ohio's open Senate seat.
Congressman, thank you so much for joining me.
You heard Elizabeth Warren lay out the case for President Biden's student loan relief plan. There are nearly 1.8 million people in your state of Ohio with federal student loan debt, but you say the policy that the president put in place sends the wrong message. Why?
REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH), SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think, given this time -- and, again, I understand the burden of it. My wife and I are still paying her student loans off.
But there are a lot of people hurting in our society right now. People are getting crushed with inflation, crushed with gas prices, food prices, and all the rest. And I think a targeted approach right now really does send the wrong message.
There's a lot of people out there making 30, 40 grand a year that didn't go to college, and they need help as well, which is why I have been proposing a tax cut for working people that will affect -- affect everybody.
And with the student loan piece, you could very easily allow them to negotiate -- renegotiate down the interest rates. I mean, that's part of the problem is, the interest rates are 9 percent, 10 percent, 12 percent. And so giving them an opportunity to renegotiate those down will put significant money in their pocket and I think relieve some of that burden.
But to just have a targeted approach now -- and this is part of a broader problem too, Dana, that one of the stupidest things we have ever done in this country is tell everybody they have to go to college. I mean, that was a huge mistake. We got rid of shop class. We got rid of the kind of things that really build out the working class and the skilled trades.
And so here we are, and we have done nothing to control the costs of college.
RYAN: So, we're going to be in the same position here in five years.
So part of a comprehensive package, we could look at, but just this direct, targeted thing I don't think is sending the right message.
BASH: Congressman, in 2018, you tweeted -- quote -- "Student debt is out of control. If we can bail out the banks, who did everything wrong, we can help out the students who did everything right."
Isn't that what President Biden's policy is trying to do?
RYAN: Again, I mean, we're not saying that there's not a significant burden here. The cost of college is outrageous, but there's nothing in here to control that cost.
And, again, I think we can get a significant way down the road by allowing them to renegotiate down their -- the interest rates and put some money into their pocket. And, again, there's a lot of other people out here that are doing everything right as well.
So, if it's part of a broader package, we could certainly talk about it. That's why I think a tax cut for all working people or medical debt, which isn't directly linked to somebody who goes to college, I mean, I think we have got to have a broader package here. And I would certainly support something like that.
But I think the general tax cut is the best way to go.
BASH: You are a Democrat running in an increasingly red state, Ohio.
There are stark divisions, which you have alluded to, along educational and class lines. A lot of people didn't think your race would be competitive. But, at this point, it is.
BASH: What do you think your national Democratic Party is missing about connecting with voters you're meeting every day?
RYAN: I think the laser-like focus on the economic well-being of the average person, again, not just the college-educated, but the people who are -- who are the skilled trades, the people who built this country.
Really, I think we have lost our connection. I think a lot of us are starting to reclaim that. I think Fetterman in Pennsylvania is starting to do it. Obviously, here in Ohio, Sherrod Brown has maintained that connection. I'm doing it here, but really going all in on rebuilding the great American middle class, plugging these forgotten communities in with broadband, with clean water, with good infrastructure, again, bringing back shop class, really getting people skilled up and ready to help us dominate the new economy.
And my focus on that has been very well-received, and, again, not being -- you know, cut -- how do we cut workers in on the deal, but how do we also work with business. We have got to come together and dominate the economies of the future, because China's going all in on some of these economies.
And it's got to be these public-private partnerships that ultimately are going to get it done. And that's why we're resonating so well. I'm representing the exhausted majority, Democrats, Republicans and independents, against the extremists.
And there's a lot of room and a big coalition here. And that's what we're building in Ohio. And that's why the Republicans are so worried.
BASH: You said extremists. Are you talking even about extremists in your own party? Is that what you mean when you say extremists?
RYAN: Well, I mean, I think front and center are the people who are trying to overturn the democracy, people like J.D. Vance, who I'm running against, who supports the Dobbs decision, which is the largest governmental overreach into the private lives of American citizens in the history of our lifetime.
Here's a guy who started a sham nonprofit to help people with addiction and didn't spend a nickel on them and brought in a Purdue Pharma spokesperson in Southern Ohio, the very company that caused the opioid addiction in the first place.
I mean, these are some super extreme views. He raised money for the people who stormed the Capitol on January 6. He raised money for their legal defense fund. I mean, how extreme can you be?
RYAN: So, we need to come back to the middle and govern the country. And those are the extremists that we got to be most worried about, but also the folks saying, we need to defund the police. Like, that's crazy.
Like, we can't have this conversation. China's coming after us. Come together, fight for dignified jobs, and let's move the country forward.
BASH: I want to ask about an issue that has become central in this year's midterm races, and that is abortion.
You're criticizing your Republican opponent for not supporting abortion exceptions. So, I want to ask about your position. What restrictions, if any, do you believe there should be on abortion?
RYAN: Well, ultimately, this needs to be a decision between the woman and her doctor.
And, of course, we don't support abortion at the end of term, unless, of course, there is an extraordinary circumstance, where you're eight months into a pregnancy and something very tragic is happening in that pregnancy, where you have a room, you have bought toys, you have clothing for the baby, everyone's excited, and then something tragic happens.
RYAN: That needs to be left up to the doctor, not the J.D. Vance or Ted Cruz or anybody else. That's a very serious situation.
BASH: Well, but, as a legislator, you have to have some idea of what you want to do when you're not a doctor. So should there be some restrictions when it comes to the law of the
RYAN: Well, you ultimately -- I think the decider has to be the woman and her doctor. We can't account for every single scenario. And, really, the extreme...
BASH: So, that means -- it sounds like you're saying no restrictions.
RYAN: Well, I think they're -- no one's supporting abortion towards the end, absolutely. No one's for that. That rarely happens.
But what we're saying is, are we going to preserve the woman's right to choose at the end to save her own life? I mean, come on. Like, should the government really be in there? That sounds very anti- American. And the extreme position is like where J.D. Vance, where, if you're raped, you are forced to have the rapist's baby, where there's no exceptions at all.
And we see people who are underage who have to go to other states who have been raped. That's insanity. That's the extremism we're talking about right now. And we are talking about 50 years of established law, the status quo. That's what I'm for that seemed to work pretty well for the last 50 years.
And the extremists, again, are trying to overturn that.
BASH: Before I let you go, President Biden is going to be in Ohio next Friday to participate in the groundbreaking at a new Intel semiconductor manufacturing facility. Will you be there with him?
RYAN: Yes, I will.
This is a huge opportunity. The CHIPS Act that we passed is all about reshoring high-end manufacturing jobs. Intel is going to invest, what they're saying, up to $100 billion into Ohio to manufacture these chips that have helped -- driven up inflation that we need for our cars and all the technology.
This is the biggest, most transformational economic development project in Ohio's history. I will be there. I'm proud to have supported this and helped bring this investment to Ohio.
And I will be there. This is all about dominating these industries of the future. That's what my campaign is about. The average wage there is going to be $135,000 a year. Those are the jobs we're talking about.
RYAN: Those are the jobs with dignity. That's what I'm fighting for.
And if people want to help, they can go for TimForOH.com and help us out with this campaign. Got 250,000 low-dollar donors, and we could use a few more. So we appreciate the opportunity.
BASH: Congressman Tim Ryan, Democratic candidate for Senate, thank you so much for joining us.
And we should note we did invite his Republican opponent for the Ohio Senate seat, J.D. Vance, who you heard him refer to. He declined.
Former President Trump had top secret information about American spies at Mar-a-Lago. What do his fellow Republicans think? We will ask one. GOP Governor Chris Sununu is next.
Plus: America enters a new space age, as NASA prepares to go back to the moon tomorrow. What's different this time? We will tell you.
Stay with us.
BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.
Republican leaders were hoping to keep the focus on President Biden this fall, but, with the drip, drip, drip of revelations about classified information kept at Mar-a-Lago and new questions about whether the former president or his staff obstructed an effort to get top secret documents back, the former president is once again taking up a lot of GOP oxygen.
Here with me now is Republican Governor of New Hampshire Chris Sununu, who is on the ballot, running for reelection.
Governor, we learned Friday from this new affidavit that is redacted that the FBI found 184 documents marked classified in January. And it included more than two dozen labeled top secret. We also learned that the FBI retrieved sensitive information human clandestine sources.
How concerned are you about this?
GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH): Well, again, my biggest criticism, and I think the concern of most of the country, is, where's the transparency, right?
We want to see it. And one thing I was very aggressive about was saying, look, if you're going to take unprecedented action and raid a former president's house, well, you better have a strategy for unprecedented transparency.
So I think we're all concerned about what might be in those documents, that some were classified, some weren't, what the serious nature was, but show us.
SUNUNU: You got to be able to show your cards when you're taking actions like this.
BASH: But you know that you can't show all your cards when you're talking about top secret information.
The whole point of the investigation, we now know, was that there was very important classified information, including human clandestine sources, at risk here.
BASH: So they can't reveal everything. We did see the redacted affidavit.
BASH: So, the question goes back to the potential risk to American intelligence and national security.
SUNUNU: But what -- yes.
BASH: Are you concerned about that?
SUNUNU: Well, sure, look, what's the subject matter? I think we should -- we should absolutely be concerned. There's no question about that.
But I don't know what to be concerned about. No one -- no one seems to. What's the subject matter? What's the dates? What's the times? What are we talking about here?
BASH: But aren't you concerned that knowing...
SUNUNU: Of course, you can't just open the whole investigation up.
BASH: Yes, sure. I'm sorry to interrupt.
But are you concerned that revealing that will kind of defeat the purpose of the investigation, which is to try to keep information that is supposed to be secret just that, for national security reasons?
SUNUNU: Again, I'm not saying put all the documents on the Internet, but give us some sense of the subject matter. Give us some sense of the time. Give us some sense of what really drove us in there.
I think we were all pretty excited to see what might be in this affidavit. And I think I speak for everyone when we're all pretty disappointed to see it was almost all redacted. I get you got to redact certain things here and there, but you had pages upon pages upon pages redacted, to the point where you say, well, what's the point?
So, when are we going to see the cards? And let's remember this has been a year-and-a-half in the making, right? The former -- former President Trump has been out of office for going on two years now. Where -- why -- we think this is a coincidence, just happening a few months before the midterm elections...
SUNUNU: ... and all that sort of thing?
So, this is unprecedented. And they had to have an unprecedented strategy, which they clearly didn't have. They're on their heels. They don't know what to do.
We just -- we want to see the information, so we can have this discussion, we can talk about the subject matter with some sense.
BASH: I want to move on, but I -- but, before I do, I just want to show our viewers -- and I'm not sure if you can see it, but I will tell you the timeline.
It's not as if the Archives and then the FBI and the Justice Department were not trying. They didn't just wake up one day and said, oh, let's -- say, I'm going to go into Mar-a-Lago. It started in May 2021, and it ended with the search, but it was after an exhaustive attempt to get this information. And it just so happened that the timing ended where it did.
I want to turn to student loans.
BASH: Let's talk about forgiveness and this new policy by President Biden.
One analysis found that New Hampshire had the highest average student loans in the country for the class of 2020, almost $40,000 per graduate; 70 percent of them have at least some debt. So why not support a program that will help so many of your constituents?
SUNUNU: Well, a couple of reasons.
First off, it's inherently unfair, right? It's arbitrarily picking a group of individuals, and we're going to arbitrarily just cancel their debt with a stroke of a pen, which, again, not even going through Congress. That's fairly illegal. It adds hundreds of billions of dollars at a time where we're trying to bring inflation under control. That's exacerbating the inflationary crisis.
And so, again, individuals take on loans. I took on loans. I paid $278.03 every month for about 15 years, between my wife and I, to pay our student loans back. There was never an expectation that the government should get involved and pay that. We were happy to pay it, low-interest loans. You write your check, you move on.
And I take kind of exception with individuals, especially out of Washington, saying, this is a student loan crisis. What's the crisis? Folks get a degree. They get a job. We have more high-paying jobs than ever before for young people. They're low-interest loans. They have been deferred for a couple of years.
The average loan is -- it's high. It's about $43,000 in America. That's a lot of money. But you can write that $200 or $300 check a month and pay it. One thing I looked at which was kind of interesting, we have -- the
average home loan in America is about $240,000, right, five times -- four or five times what the student loan is. Do we have a home loan crisis, right? How about auto loans? Are we going to pay off auto loans next?
So, the fact that we're just going to arbitrarily pick winners and losers, put it -- play a shell game with the debt, because, by the way, the debt is not going anywhere, right? Someone's got to pay it. And, in many instances, because there's no balanced budget, there's no sense of control on the $30 trillion in debt, here's the misery of it.
Those individuals that think they're getting the $10,000 or $20,000 off their student loans, it's just getting effectively deferred into taxes down the road, higher taxes down the road, where they will have to pay interest on.
This is a political shell game of money. And I don't think -- again, it's a really, really bad idea. Even Nancy Pelosi said the president couldn't do this, you know?
BASH: Governor, I want to ask about something that President Biden said during remarks at a closed DNC reception this past week.
He criticized what he called a -- quote -- "extreme MAGA philosophy" in your party. He said -- quote -- "It's almost like semi-fascism."
Do you see semi-fascism in your party at all?
SUNUNU: Horribly insulting.
I mean, the fact that the president would go out and just insult half of America, because, effectively, half of America votes Republican, half of America ultimately votes Democrat. It swings a little bit one way or the other, but effectively call half of America semi-fascist, because he's trying to stir up controversy, he's trying to stir up this anti-Republican sentiment right before the election, it's just -- it's horribly inappropriate.
It's insulting. And people should be insulted by it. And he should apologize.
BASH: You don't see -- so, you don't see any elements of that at all in your party?
SUNUNU: Look, you can see elements of fascism and white supremacy all -- in America. Let's own that as Americans. There's no doubt.
And we can say that all -- all the Democrats are communists, they're all ultra-socialist communist that just want to bring down our free capitalistic market. That's not true of Democrats either.
So, when we allow ourselves just to talk in these extremes, we polarize the country. We bring people -- bring people further apart. If I remember, this was the guy, the candidate at the time...
SUNUNU: ... to be president that said he was going to bring everybody together. And then to call half of America fascists, come on.
SUNUNU: He owes an apology. That's not appropriate. That isn't leadership.
BASH: We're out a time.
But, before I let you go, on this subject, the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire recently put out some really outrageous tweets, wishing people happy holidays on the anniversary of John McCain's death, saying that $6 million minimum wage, or you're antisemitic, a reference to the Holocaust.
Your reaction, quickly?
SUNUNU: Yes, that should -- that should pretty much be the end of the Libertarian Party in New Hampshire. And I mean that, again, horribly insulting.
That is not leadership. That is not what people want to vote for. That is not what -- the type of sentiment people want in their public service. So, again, there's another one. So, the New Hampshire Libertarian Party and the president can both join together and apologize for their insensitive comments.
BASH: Governor Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, thank you so much for joining me this morning.
SUNUNU: Thanks, Dana. Be good.
BASH: Republicans are shifting their strategy on some key issues in some key races. Are they still on track to win in November?
Our panel is next to discuss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I'm breaking my back out here for one reason.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I want to pay off some other guy's debt. Want to be a struggling artist, college is on me.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: My kids don't need fancy things like school supplies or new shoes.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I work for you, theater major. UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: This shift is for you, business major. Go buy
yourself that new car.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Enjoy your free ride. College is on me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.
My panel is here with me now. That was an ad from the Republican American Action Network, you may have understood, targeting President Biden's student loan forgiveness plan. It's already become a hot issue on the trail.
And we saw earlier in the program that there's a divide even within the Democratic Party. It turns out we have a divide at this table.
Paul Begala, I will start with you.
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's bad policy, as well as bad politics, right?
For that amount of money, you could fund free pre-K for every 3- and 4-year-old for 10 years. You would do a lot more good for poor people, communities of color, and the underprivileged by doing pre-K. You could forgive all medical debt, which, unlike student debt, is not freely entered into.
So, Democrats -- I'm a progressive. I want to help folks. But I think this is terrible policy. The politics of it, we saw. Tim Ryan is in a tough race in a tough state, and he can't stand this idea. Senator Warren is all for it. She's not exactly from a swing state in Massachusetts.
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto from Nevada got a tough race. She doesn't like this. Michael Bennet, the senator from Colorado, he doesn't like this, Democrats, good Democrats. Sharice Davids, one of the more impressive Democrats, the only Democrat in Congress from Kansas, she doesn't like it.
So what is my party doing with this? They're disadvantaging -- I think they're not helping the people that we're here to help, which is poor people and underprivileged communities. And they're not helping their politicians who are running.
ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I just have to disagree.
I think that it first was a campaign promise, which actually got the highest amount of voters ever to turn out. And student loan debt was a topic that people actually went to the polls for. And I think they're going to go to the polls this cycle.
I'm riddled with student loan debt. I'm from the congressman's home state of Ohio and your home state. An eighth of your population could actually benefit from this program. And I think people should be really careful about making fun of folks who have student loan debt. There are teachers, there are nurses, there are firefighters, there
are law enforcement, there are people who are public servants that have -- they're not getting a minimum wage raise, because we know the Republicans don't want to do that. They're not getting better school -- you're talking about pre-K.
It's not like people are passing policies to actually help our education system. There are people who can't get from under it because of the way that interest is set up, and that it is -- it is a different type of loan, because, when you take out a house mortgage, you can actually sell that house and get rid of that debt.
You can't get rid of student loan debt. It is with you for the rest of your life.
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The problem is this.
This does absolutely nothing to address the issue of higher education being unaffordable. And look, the fact, that we're seeing people who are making six figures, $125,000 a year, are going to have their student debt forgiven, when the median income in this country is $67,000 a year, I am all for more programs, if we want to have loan forgiveness for teachers, for nurses, AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps.
Those things work to fill roles that we need to. But just to say, you have a graduate degree, but a third of this -- a third of this country didn't even have the opportunity to go to college, to get an associate's degree, didn't have the credit to take out a loan that they later can't pay back.
It's -- it plays to this notion, I'm sorry, but that the Democrats are becoming the party of elites. And Donald Trump played to that. There's a reason working Americans turned out for Donald Trump, who I'm no fan of, but this is playing right into that.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's a new feeling for me, the third person at the table jumping on top of a dogpile.
BASH: Playing the role of Scott Jennings. We flipped this week.
JENNINGS: Yes. Yes. That's right.
I think many important and smart things have been said at this table. So I will just add a couple. I feel like we have reached the Joker phase of the Biden presidency. All we're lacking now is the face paint and a purple suit. He's riding a parade float down Pennsylvania Avenue, just tossing money out the window here.
And it's totally lawless. It's completely unconstitutional. It completely is in violation of our norms. You got a president, and with no agreement from Congress, spending up to a half-a-trillion dollars? I mean, this is a massive, massive thing. And it's unprecedented. And Biden ran as someone who was going to restore our norms and restore the balance and restore our laws and institutions. And this is completely in opposition to all of that, all for politics.
Some people have analyzed it that it's for politics for the midterm. This is primary politics. This is a guy who wants to run for reelection, and who -- in the polling, which group of Democrats hates him the most? The young Democrats.
BASH: Well, let's...
JENNINGS: And so it is a payoff for the 2024 primary.
BASH: Let me throw some statistics in as we continue this conversation, because you mentioned politics and the midterms.
There are some signs that Democrats are getting some momentum back. And we can see it in some of the recent special election results. Democrats are outperforming their 2020 presidential results. You see on the screen there, just for example, just even in this past week, New York 19.
In 2020, Joe Biden did 1.5 percent. That's how much he bested the Republican, Donald Trump. 2022, last week, the candidate there, 2.3 percent. Same in New York 23. You have the reverse there, where Donald Trump did very well, and the Republican only got about half the support that Trump did.
You have looked at numbers like this so many cycles in your life.
BASH: What does it tell you?
Well, six months ago, my advice to Democrats, was build an ark. There's a red tide coming. It's not -- it's not materializing. Why? Because midterms are usually a brake pedal. And, almost always, it's a brake pedal against the president.
Now, because of Dobbs, people want a break pedal on...
BEGALA: Because of the abortion ruling, people want a brake pedal on the -- what they believe is extremist Republicans.
You heard Tim Ryan talking about that. After Pearl Harbor, Admiral Yamamoto said: "I fear that all we have done is awakened a sleeping giant and filled them with terrible resolve."
That's what Justice Yamamoto, Alito, whatever his name is, did with the Dobbs case. He has filled Americans, particularly women, but also a lot of guys, with terrible resolve. Gas prices are getting better. Abortion rights are not. And that's trouble for the Republicans.
BASH: Your former boss and friend Mitch McConnell is pretty worried about the chances at this point of taking back the Senate.
Well, look, it's -- at the beginning of the cycle, everybody thought it was a lot that the Republicans would take the House. I still think we're going to do that, but also that it was a 50/50 Senate and a 50/50 country and a bunch of races in purple states. That hasn't changed.
And so I thought it was always a lesser chance. And I think he articulated that this week.
I would just say, on the pro-life issue, I do think it has been impactful. I have had conversations with some Republican members of Congress who are feeling it. I don't believe it's going to sink the chances in the House.
But I would -- look, most of my career, the Republican position was a pretty mainstream position. We're pro-life, and we believe in the exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. And then you can also debate policy around that, but that was a pretty mainstream Republican position.
If you're running in a race in a general election, that position would serve you quite well. And I hear Republican candidates having trouble articulating that. And I don't understand. It's Ronald Reagan's position.
BASH: We're almost out of time.
Ashley, final word.
ALLISON: I think that, a year ago, I never thought that the Democrats were definitely going to lose the House in the Senate.
And it was because people were obstructing things like the George Floyd Policing Act, which is what got people to come out in 2020, voting rights, Build Back Better.
What I always said is that we have to get something done. And that is what Democrats are doing now, on student loan debt, on gun reform. I don't just think it's Dobbs. I think that people are sick and tired of kids getting killed at schools and don't want -- and I know it was a bipartisan bill, but not a lot of Republicans voted for the gun reform bill.
And we still have mass shootings. So, I think -- I'm not surprised. And I think Dems will fare well.
BASH: We're going to have to end it there. I'm so sorry to cut it short.
Great discussion. We will keep talking in the green room.
BASH: Fifty years later, so much has changed. What are we going to learn from NASA's new mission to space?
We're going to talk about that up next.
BASH: It's been 50 years since the last human set foot on the moon on Apollo 17.
But, starting tomorrow, NASA will be making an even bigger leap for mankind and now womankind. The space shuttle Artemis, named after the Greek Goddess of the moon and twin sister of Apollo, will take flight tomorrow, as NASA prepares to send humans farther than they have ever been.
If this test flight goes well, the Artemis program aims to establish a long-term presence on the moon. And, for the first time, NASA will be sending a woman and person of color. Artemis is just the beginning for NASA, as they hope to continue to expand our presence in the galaxy, reaching to Mars and beyond.
You can watch extensive coverage of the Artemis launch starting tomorrow morning right here on CNN.
Thanks so much for spending your Sunday morning with us.
The news continues next.