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State of the Union

Interview With Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young; Interview With Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC); Interview With Presidential Candidate Vivek Ramaswamy. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired March 12, 2023 - 09:00   ET




KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST (voice-over): Fallout. A key bank fails, prompting some calls for a government bailout, but Washington is split over a plan for the overall U.S. economy.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know what there's much to negotiate on.

COLLINS: Where is it all heading? White House Budget Director Shalanda Young will be here, and then Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace coming up.

And reckless. In his sharpest rebuke yet, former Vice President Mike Pence says history will hold his former boss accountable for January 6. Will other potential Trump challengers agree?

Plus: a new voice. A multimillionaire businessman says he's running for president to shake up the GOP.

VIVEK RAMASWAMY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're hungry to be part of something bigger than ourselves.

COLLINS: Is his new approach striking a chord within his own party? 2024 Republican candidate Vivek Ramaswamy is ahead.


COLLINS: Hello. I'm Kaitlan Collins in Washington, where the state of our union is watching the 2024 race heat up.

Big news in the GOP presidential primary last night, as former Vice President Mike Pence went further than he ever has before behind closed doors at the Gridiron Dinner here in Washington, describing his harrowing experience at the Capitol on January 6, and delivering a blistering new line of attack against his former boss and, frankly, many in his own party.

Saying about that day -- quote -- "Tourists don't injure 140 police officers by sightseeing. Make no mistake about it. What happened that day was a disgrace. And it marks decency to portray it in any other way. I know that history will hold Donald Trump accountable." But, first, this morning, we start from political turmoil to the financial turmoil and a pivotal moment for the American financial system. In just 24 hours, markets are going to reopen, and rattled investors are starting to assess the fallout of the second largest bank collapse in U.S. history.

Silicon Valley Bank is now under control of the FDIC after panic among its customers set off a bank run last week. The White House said on Saturday that President Biden spoke with California Governor Gavin Newsom about the efforts to address the situation and presumably to contain the fallout.

It's a new crisis on the president's desk after a week focused on his plans for the American economy.

So, no one better to join us than the White House director of the Office of Management and Budget, Shalanda Young.

Good morning.


COLLINS: And thank you so much for being here, being here in person.

President Biden had his conversation with Governor Newsom. What did he say about the collapse of SVB?

YOUNG: So, Treasury Department, Secretary Yellen are watching this closely, taking the situation seriously.

And I know the secretary has been in touch with regulators throughout the weekend. What I will say about the banking system overall is, it's more resilient, it has a better foundation than before the financial crisis.

That's largely due to the reforms put in place after the financial crisis. And our Treasury secretary is at the helm and working diligently with regulators.

COLLINS: So, you can tell the American people this morning, because I think this has caused a lot of concern, that the U.S. banking system is safe and secure?

YOUNG: I think the voice here is our Treasury secretary, who is our lead and working with regulators. That's the appropriate person we should listen to here and who's tracking this the most closely.

But, again, what I will say is, after the financial crisis, the reforms put in place have given regulators more tools, and our system is more resilient and the foundation stronger because of it.

COLLINS: Is your sense that a bailout is on the table?

YOUNG: Look, again, any future actions, the Treasury secretary will lead those, and I will defer you to her on those. And she's been in close contact with regulators on this situation in particular.

COLLINS: OK, let's talk about the budget, because this is something the president unveiled last week.

You have been very public-facing about it. In the budget, there was a plan to save Medicare, about lowering it -- by doing so essentially by lowering drug prices, increasing taxes on wealthy Americans. Noticeably missing, though, was a plan for Social Security.

And that has been at the forefront of every political conversation that we have been having lately. Is there a plan that the president has for that? Is it something that we should expect him to propose?

YOUNG: So, Kaitlan, let's be very clear. The president has Social Security in his budget. His budget says not on his watch will he allow some in Washington to cut benefits for seniors.

So the president's budget fully fund Social Security, does not cut any benefits. And those are off the table in any discussion. What he does in Medicare is, he offers up some proposals that would extend the life of Medicare.


So, this president has been very clear and his budget is very clear that Social Security is safe for American seniors. My 94-year-old grandmother, I can call her safely today and feel confident, in this president's proposal, that her benefits are safe and safe from those in this town who have made it their -- one of their top priorities to cut those plans from under our seniors.

And this president's budget has said that's not happening on his watch.

COLLINS: Yes, he definitely talks about protecting it. And we saw at the State of the Union exchange he had with Republicans on that front.

But, on strengthening it, it is a real concern, because if it goes insolvent in the next decade, what is the concern that people have who are retiring by then that they're not going to get the full benefits that they have invested into this?

That's, I think, why people want to know if Biden's going to make a proposal on that front.

YOUNG: Look at our Medicare proposal, how that's been received. It's ambitious. It's bold. It would extend the life.

What we're doing is asking the wealthiest in this country to pay more into the system, closing loopholes, where the wealthy have not paid what they were supposed to pay into the system. And what has been the reaction?

So, I welcome those who want to help us pass that bold agenda to extend Medicare. If they want to talk about Social Security and asking the wealthiest to help extend that, we welcome that conversation. But, given the reaction from congressional Republicans on what the

president wants to do with regard to Medicare, I don't think they're going to put any proposals to extend Social Security on the table. But we welcome it.

COLLINS: So, is that why he hasn't put something out, basically because the White House views it as unrealistic that you could actually get somewhere on it?

Because, on the campaign trail, he said waiting to act only jeopardizes the program further, will make an eventual solution that much more difficult. And he pushed raising taxes on people who make more money to help save Social Security and prolong it.

YOUNG: Let me be clear. The top existential threat to Social Security is those in this town that want to cut it.

I wish we were in the part of the debate where we could talk about extending. This president chose to focus on protecting benefits. And that's what this budget does.

COLLINS: You're talking about House Republicans. Obviously, that has been a big point of debate with them.

From the House Freedom Caucus, we saw them unveil when it comes to their proposals for the debt ceiling crisis which we're facing because there's no agreement so far between the White House and Republicans. What we saw from them was essentially arguing that they have 10 demands or so that they say must be included in the agreement for raising the debt ceiling.

Do you agree with anything that they have put forward from the House Freedom Caucus?

YOUNG: Well, one, thank them for putting a plan out.

The president has said, we all owe the American people what we value. He's put his proposal out. He values working families in this country, while being fiscally responsible by asking the wealthy to pay their fair share.

The Freedom Caucus has told us what they value. They would cut programs that those same working families need They would cut and make in jeopardy our national security. And guess what? Wouldn't reduce the deficit by one penny, because the tax cuts, the benefits to special interests, they want to keep.

So that should tell you something, and that should tell the American people something. This president wants to bring down the deficit, while invested in the middle class. The Freedom Caucus put out a proposal that will cut programs that help the middle class, while not reducing the deficit to help the wealthy.

COLLINS: The president himself said it doesn't look like there's much room to negotiate.

What happens?

YOUNG: Look, let's go back to how this conversation evolved around the debt ceiling.

We believe strongly the debt ceiling should not be tied to any other discussions. That is the Congress' constitutional duty, to raise the debt ceiling. They did it three times for the former president. And the only thing that's changed is that Joe Biden is the president. That's playing politics with the full faith and credit of the United States.

We think that's wrong. And that should be off the table and dealt with. When it comes to spending and what the appropriate level is, this president's happy to talk to anyone. As a matter of fact, we funded the government on a bipartisan basis in December. Let's do it Again.

But let's not hold the debt ceiling hostage to really draconian cuts, all to help the wealthiest in this country, which we saw released by the Freedom Caucus.

COLLINS: Are you worried that we could actually face a default? Because the White House seems to continue to argue clean debt ceiling hike. Republicans -- and these Republicans, they are -- they have a sway in their party.

And so what happens?

YOUNG: They do have this way.

And I think we'd be remiss if we did not worry, which is why we keep explaining how catastrophic a default would be for not only this economy, but it would have ramifications across the globe. It would be absolutely catastrophic. We should not play political games with it. We need to get on with the job. And that's why you hear us talking about it over and over and over.


All the economic gains that this president has presided over, 12 million jobs, record low unemployment, all that is at risk with even the talk of default.

COLLINS: I want to highlight a quick moment for you, though, that happened at the White House briefing last week.

You were there. And it wasn't just you. Cecilia Rouse was also there, Karine Jean-Pierre standing there in the middle, obviously, at the podium. And she highlighted what that moment meant for each of you in these important roles.

How did it feel for you being there in the Briefing Room?

YOUNG: Well, what she didn't say is the three of us, because I consider both of them friends, all have daughters. So I look at what this means for the next generation, that they will

not be first, if they want to pursue these jobs or any other. And that's the goal, right, to make sure we leave this country in a better place than we found it, make sure that all of our children, no matter where they're from, including a small town in Louisiana, can reach whatever their dreams are, and frankly, beyond our dreams.

I didn't know this existed. So, representation matters. But more, I think, as mothers, it matters for what we leave behind for our children.

COLLINS: Shalanda Young, White House budget director, you are going to be very busy over the next several weeks and months.


COLLINS: Thank you for taking some time to join us this morning.

YOUNG: Thanks for having me.


All right, also, Vice President Pence has some words, very tough words, for his former boss. It was a quite a remarkable moment last night. We're going to show you it next.

And he's a multimillionaire businessman who now wants to drain the swamp and shake up the GOP. It's not who you're thinking, though. We're going to talk to a presidential candidate who is actually trying to defeat Donald Trump coming up.



COLLINS: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Kaitlan Collins.

A preview of a potential 2024 showdown between the former president and the former vice president, as Mike Pence unveiled a new attack on his former boss behind closed doors in Washington last night.

What does the emerging power struggle, though, mean for the future of the direction of the Republican Party?

Joining me now to discuss is Republican Congresswoman of South Carolina Nancy Mace.

Congresswoman, thank you so much for being here this morning.

I want to start with the scathing comments we heard from former Vice President Pence last night. He said: "I know that history will hold Donald Trump accountable for January 6."

Do you think he's right?

REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): And good morning, Kaitlan. Thank you for having me on this morning.

And I see this in two parts. I think both sides are really struggling looking at the nomination process. You have got some on the left that don't want Biden to run. You have got those on the right that don't want the former president to run. A lot of folks on both sides keep bringing up January 6, and it's keeping us from moving our country forward.

I was very vocal about January 6 myself. I'm one of the only Republicans in the House who defeated the former president in a primary last year, went on to win my general election in a purple district resoundingly.

We have got to unite behind a candidate in '24 who can win the White House if we're serious about it. There's a lot at stake right now.

COLLINS: Well, given that, Trump is the front-runner of the Republican field right now. So do you think he has been held accountable for January 6?

MACE: Well, he's one of the only candidates in right now. And I imagine, by June and July this summer, we will see more than two or three candidates in that race.

The Iowa caucuses aren't for another 330 days. And that's the start of it. I'm proud of my home state of South Carolina. We will be the first-in-the-South presidential primary next year. We have a long way to go for additional candidates to jump in and see how the field lays out.

COLLINS: On January 6, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Congressman James Comer, who is the chair of the Oversight Committee that you serve on, have been planning a trip to visit January 6 defendants who are in jail.

What do you make of that? Would you join them on a trip like that?

MACE: I'm not joining them, but I will say this.

I have done a lot of civil rights work over the years as a state lawmaker and as a member of Congress. In fact, the very first bill I ever filed or helped work on in my freshman year was with Hakeem Jeffries on a civil rights piece of legislation.

I would tell you, anyone who's sitting in solitary confinement or sitting in jail, regardless of their political affiliation, if they feel like their civil rights have been violated, then we, as members of Congress, should help them. And this is something that I have worked on a lot over the years and something that I respect.

I was the ranking member on the Civil Rights Committee on oversight with Jamie Raskin last year. That's something that we should all care about, the constitutional rights of citizens of the of this country.

COLLINS: But, given that, the other thing that Pence said last night was, he said it mocks decency to portray what happened on January 6 as tourist, as sightseers.

Obviously, we saw that happen on FOX News this week after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy gave them 40,000 hours of footage. You have said you want other people to get that footage. Was it a mistake, though, for him to only give it to one outlet to portray it as they did?

MACE: I said early on last month that the release of the footage was important, that it should be released to every outlet, including CNN, every media outlet, every defense attorney, so that the public can see for itself.

And there is -- there was violence on that day. You cannot deny that. And it was a dark day in our history. But so too were -- was the summer of 2020. We saw very few arrests when there were attacks by an organization, members of Antifa and Black Lives Matter. I had my house spray-painted two summers ago, and no one's been held to account for that.

And so we have got to make sure, if there's going to be political violence in this country, no matter your political affiliation, everybody is treated and should be treated the same way.


COLLINS: And we agree that CNN should also get access to that footage. Many media outlets would.

I want to talk to you about the budget, because you just heard from the White House budget director about President Biden's proposal. When are Republicans going to release their proposal?

MACE: I would like to know that as well. There's been a lot of discussion internally about what that might look like. The Freedom Caucus has put theirs out. We're still having that discussion.

I will tell you, and the comments by the director of OMB on this program a few minutes ago were disturbing to me, just not even as a member of Congress, but as an American, that this is nonnegotiable. The administration is talking about a $5 trillion tax hike.

That is not tenable for individuals and businesses, given the inflation that we're facing right now, given the possible recession that we're heading into. We should be negotiating on this issue. This shouldn't be one-sided, because both sides, Republicans and Democrats alike, have caused the inflation that we're in today.

They have caused the $31 trillion of debt that we're facing right now. Both sides should be sitting at the table and coming up with a reasonable plan, let's just say over 10 years, to tackle spending, to tackle taxes, to tackle inflation, so that we can get on with this and grow the economy in a way that can tackle the $31 trillion deficit that we have, let's just say over 10 years.

I don't think that's a lot to ask.

COLLINS: Yes, I should note the White House's budget, they say would really -- would reduce the deficit by about $3 trillion over 10 years.

But you just mentioned that proposal from the House Freedom Caucus. Do you agree with that proposal?

MACE: I haven't read it in detail, so I don't want to make a comment on it if I don't know the specifics of the plan. The president's plan just came out. I did read some media reports that said it would not reduce the deficit.

And so I want to look at it with an open mind and look at it from the economists from both sides of the aisle to figure out what it is. But what I did read was a $5 trillion tax hike on individuals and businesses. And if you're going to be serious about inflation, for example, there are a number of things that we have to do.

You have to tackle spending. You have got to look at how we're spending taxpayer dollars. You have to look at lowering taxes. You have to also grow the economy exponentially in a way so that it can -- it can take over the inflation and the deficit issues that we have right now.

That's what you got to do.


And we should note...

MACE: You can't do it by raising taxes.

COLLINS: ... the White House's plan is basically dead on arrival, given Republicans control the majority in the House. We will wait to see when Republicans do release their plan.

I want to ask you about the collapse of SVB. That is something that everyone is waiting to see what happens when markets open tomorrow morning. As a member of Congress, do you think that they should get bailed out by the federal government?

MACE: It's still -- it's still very early to see or say what the ramifications are going to be. That was a unique bank that mostly served start-ups in Silicon Valley.

And those customers have been hit by inflation. They have been hit by interest rates. They're low on cash. There was also, it sounds like, a panic run by some of their larger companies last week. The CEO sold himself millions of dollars of stock and gave his employees, I read this morning, bonuses right before the government took over the bank.

We cannot keep bailing out private companies, because there's no consequences to their actions. People, when they make mistakes or break the law, have to be held accountable in this country.

COLLINS: OK, so just to confirm, you don't support a bailout, right? Is that what you're saying?

MACE: Not at this time. COLLINS: OK.

MACE: I would -- it's still very early. Again, it's, I don't even think, been 48 hours. But, at this time, I would not support a bailout.

COLLINS: I want to ask you about something your fellow South Carolinian, Nikki Haley, said. Obviously, she is running for president in 2024.

She said this week that she supports the -- raising the retirement age for people who are in their 20s when it comes to receiving Social Security benefits. Do you agree with her on that?

MACE: I think that's something that has to be on the table we have to look at.

I'm 45 years old. I'm assuming that Social Security will be insolvent, that I won't have retirement funds from what I put into in my adult life, my working life. We do have to look at Social Security. We have got to look at our spending in this country, mandatory and discretionary.

If we're going to take on fixing the Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, you name it, we have got to get serious about it.

COLLINS: OK, so you do -- you do support potentially raising the age to maybe extend the...

MACE: As long -- as long as it's not anybody that's heading into retirement right now.

We do not want to take away those that are in retirement or those that are heading into retirement. But if we're talking about younger generations, my kids, for example, if they know what the -- what the retirement will look like 40 years from now, 50 years from now, then that should be on the table, and can be.

We have to both. Republicans and Democrats have screwed this thing up, and they have got to fix it.

COLLINS: OK. You said it should be on the table.

Congresswoman Nancy Mace, thank you so much for joining us this morning on all of these important topics.


MACE: Thank you.

COLLINS: All right, he made a fortune running a biotech start-up. Now he is running for president at age 37. Vivek Ramaswamy joins us next.


COLLINS: Welcome back to State of the Union. I'm Kaitlan Collins. It's a familiar biography, a multimillionaire businessman running for

president promising to shake up Washington. His name is not former President Trump. It's Vivek Ramaswamy. He is 37. He's using his biotech fortune to make early inroads with Republican voters.

And the candidate Vivek Ramaswamy joins me now.

Thank you so much for being here.

You're touting your outsider status as a quality, but I don't know of any president in recent history we have had that did not either hold office or was not a national figure like Trump was. So, why do you think you can win?


So, why do you think you can win?

RAMASWAMY: So, look, I'm running distinctively on my vision for this country.

I'm not running on my biography or my business credentials. I'm running on a vision for this country that I have articulated over the last several years. And a lot of the conservative base actually is familiar with me through the three books I have written, two of which are published, traveled the country and otherwise.

But my view is, we're in the middle of this national identity crisis, where, if you ask most people my age, really any age, what does it mean to be an American today, you get a blank stare in response. And I think that is the vacuum at the heart of our national soul.

And I think the opportunity for the GOP now is not just to complain about wokeness, or gender ideology, or climate ideology, but actually to go upstream and fill that black hole with a vision of American national identity that runs so deep that it dilutes these agendas to irrelevance and actually unifies us as a country.

And I'm running because I believe genuinely that I'm the candidate best positioned to actually deliver national unity by reawakening that shared American identity.

COLLINS: I want to ask you more about that platform, but you are self-funding your campaign, at least for right now. How much are you prepared to spend?

RAMASWAMY: So, there's -- there's really no limit we have put on in terms of what I'm going to spend on this campaign.

I have been fortunate to live the full arc of the American dream. And if there's one thing I care about advancing, it is about reviving that missing national identity in our country, where we have celebrated our diversity for so long that we forgot the ways we're really just the same.

That is what I care about more than anything else. That being said, I think a lot of businessmen or, history would teach, self-funders make the mistake of thinking that they can just use their own money as a substitute for getting the support of voters.

To the contrary, this campaign is actually going to be lifted up by bottom-up grassroots donations. We're already off to a great start in the first few weeks on that front as well. So it'll be a combination of those things. But what it did liberate me from is, many Republicans, what they do is, they ring the tin can, carry a hat in hand, and ask for donors for permission to run.

I was allowed to skip that step because of not only my accomplishments, but the fact that I don't want to be beholden to a Republican donor class that's the normal gatekeeper in this process, one of the things I'm calling out.

COLLINS: Well, on that front, one of the things, you have been dubbed the CEO of anti-woke. You have written several of these books. You have been very vocal of your criticism of what you say is wokism, woke religion.

Can you just define how you -- how do you define woke?

RAMASWAMY: Yes, and I'm going to define it in neutral terms, not in critical terms.

Being woke refers to becoming alert to invisible societal injustices, generally based on genetically inherited characteristics like race, sex, and sexual orientation, and then being called upon to act on those injustices, using whatever potential legally means are necessary, including the market, to do it.

That's a neutral definition that even most proponents of wokism in the United States would agree with. Now, my criticism of this is, I think that it's inherently divisive to tell us that we're nothing more than the characteristics we inherit on the day we're born. That divides us on the basis of race and sex and sexual orientation.

And then, when that merges with capitalism, which is what I have actually been the biggest critic of, what it does is, we lose the sanctuary, the apolitical sanctuary in our economy, that otherwise brings us together, whether we're black or white, even whether we're Democrat or Republican.

That's one of the underappreciated reasons why capitalism has to stay apolitical. And I'm proud to say I have been the leader on leading that fight over the course of the last couple of years, and with some progress, because I think we're turning the tide, where companies are realizing that they're not doing good for themselves or even doing good for society by engaging in these fraught political and social questions.

And I think we're beginning to see that change of the tide.

COLLINS: Yes, I know you have a lot of positions on the companies aspect. I want to get to that. But, when it comes to this, is this your platform, would you argue?

Because when people talk about inflation and what they're paying at the grocery store, do you really think that is the message that appeals to voters right now?

RAMASWAMY: Well, I have been -- that's the message I have been advancing for the last three years.

But now we're taking this to the next level and running for the presidency. We're actually running to actually deliver unity to the country. It's much bigger than that. One of the core aspects of my platform is actually unleashing the American economy itself.

There's this false debate, even within the GOP, between spending cuts, or between raising taxes between Democrats and Republicans. I think we have forgotten the biggest ingredient to actually deliver us from our problems. That is GDP growth itself. GDP growth was over 4 percent in this country until the early 70s. It's been less than 2.5 percent ever since.

I think we need to unleash the American animal inside the heart of the American economy. And so that's why I'm taking aim at certain opponents or certain anti-growth measures. I think we find a lot of that in the climate change policies in this country. That's why I have been as focused as I have on actually unleashing not only American energy, but the American economy overall.

But to answer your question, no, this is about something bigger. This is about reviving a missing national identity. And that's the missing ingredient to both unleashing our economy, as well as -- and this is a core part of my campaign -- taking on the actual foreign policy challenges that we face on the global stage.

Number one is communist China. And I'm leading the way in this race in calling for a declaration of independence from China, because the key difference today is, unlike the USSR in the last century, we never dependent on the Soviet Union for the shoes on our feet, for the phones in our pockets. That is the case today.


I think it's the number one external threat we face. And so I'm actually delivering a vision of national identity that hopefully allows us to make the short-run sacrifices we will need to on the global stage...


RAMASWAMY: ... to actually win as a country over the long run.

COLLINS: Obviously, China is a major issue. We will get to that in a moment.

But do you consider yourself a conservative? How would you define that? RAMASWAMY: I do consider myself a conservative, but I don't believe

that the defining political debate in this country is between Republicans and Democrats.

I think it is between those who are fundamentally pro-American, whether you believe in the ideals that set this nation into motion, from free speech and open debate, to meritocracy, to self-governance over aristocracy. Do you believe in those ideals? Or are you anti- American? Do you actually wish to apologize for a nation whose existence is pinned to those ideals?

And if you divide it up that way, I think it's actually an 80/20 split in this country. It's not just 50/50. And I think that sets up for a potential landslide election in 2024. Frankly, part of my motivation to run is to deliver that, because I think that's the single most unifying thing we could get out of this country, just like a 1980- or 1984-style Reagan-style victory as well. So, that's the way I look at it.

COLLINS: Given what you have said about limited government, what you were just talking there about corporations being apolitical, do you agree with what Florida Governor Ron DeSantis did with Disney after they spoke out about his education bill?

RAMASWAMY: I would have handled that situation a little bit differently.

And I think we need to be actually precise about what the real drivers are of corporate wokism. One of the underappreciated realities is that Disney's largest shareholders are BlackRock, State Street and Vanguard, indeed, the three institutions that promote ESG, environmental and social agendas, in corporate America's boardrooms, that are the largest shareholders of most public American companies.

And what they do is, they set a cultural tone that causes these companies to behave in politicized ways from their boardrooms on down. That's a problem that needs to be fixed through the market. And I don't really believe in governments, whether it's on the left or on the right -- you see this on the left too -- using the bully pulpit as a way to drive corporate change.

I think the right way to drive corporate change is actually to do it through the root cause itself. And, in this case, a lot of that's top down, driven by the ESG movement in capital markets and in corporate America's boardrooms.

COLLINS: If you -- I mean, there -- we should obviously note there are proponents of ESG who disagree with that.

But if you were president today, how would you handle the collapse of SVB? How would you direct your Treasury to handle that? Would you bail them out? What would that look like under a President Ramaswamy?

RAMASWAMY: So I would not bail out either SVB or even the depositors, because here's what's actually going on. SVB made some -- Silicon Valley Bank made some uniquely bad management decisions. One of them is, first of all, they have a depositor base that's really concentrated of tech start-ups in Silicon Valley. A staggering nearly 90 percent of their deposits are uninsured.

That's an anomaly compared to most banks in this country. So what's happening right now is, a lot of Silicon Valley executives and V.C.s this weekend, many of them have even reached out to me to push this narrative that that's going to create a bank run in America if Silicon Valley Bank isn't actually bailed out.

But what they're doing is actually trying to create the fear of one. I think that can actually become a self-fulfilling prophecy, which is dangerous. But the reality is, Silicon Valley Bank also had exposure to interest rate-tethered securities that they could have hedged. A normal bank would have done that.

Silicon Valley Bank did not. So I do not think we should reward that kind of bad behavior, that kind of bad mismanagement. And even on behalf of many start-up companies who put their money in a concentrated way into that one bank, I don't think we should be rewarding that with a bailout.

And I'm consistent. I was also against the student loan bailouts that President Biden's proposed. But I think you can't talk out of both sides of your mouth, saying that Silicon Valley Bank deserves to be bailed out, while people who hold student loans shouldn't.

I think that, actually, we should let the market work here, let Silicon Valley Bank fail, if needed, but the government needs to do one thing. Here's what I will say. It's get out of the way if another bank actually wants to acquire Silicon Valley Bank.

There's a lot of credible rumors this weekend that, actually, the FDIC or other parts of the government are going to obstruct an acquisition because they don't want more concentration risks in other banks. No, I think the government needs to get out of the way. And if another bank actually wants to buy and save Silicon Valley Bank through the private sector itself, they should be permitted to do that.

COLLINS: We will see if they do that.

But one thing you seem to be implying is that, in part because of SVB's diversity initiatives that they have on their Web site, that that was part of the downfall here. But you just said there it was about the interest rates and what happened to there with the bonds, right, not about the diversity initiatives?

RAMASWAMY: Yes, I haven't -- I haven't -- no, I haven't -- I haven't implied -- I will tell you, we're talking right now -- I will tell you exactly what my views are.

I think this is an issue with respect to the securities they held, the concentration risk of their customer base, and their failure to hedge those risks. However, here's a couple observations I will make. Silicon Valley Bank just last year made a $5 billion commitment to sustainable finance to ensure a better and more sustainable planet. If they had actually sought for a more sustainable balance sheet, they would have better done their job.


But it's even deeper than that. I think that, if they do get bailed out, part of their bet is that they wanted to signal that they're one of the good guys by influence amongst influential people in Silicon Valley, even in Washington, D.C., by gesturing towards even committing $5 billion, which I don't think is responsible, towards something outside of what their core mission should have been focused on.

And you know what? The sad part of the story is, if they do get bailed out, it will be because they bought that kind of social insurance. And I have written about this in "Woke, Inc." It's not that different than what companies like Goldman Sachs did back in the 2008 financial crisis. You play the right games, you influence the right people, you send the right virtue signals, you're the one that gets bailed out, if you're Goldman, instead of Lehman Brothers, who didn't do those things.

This is crony capitalism. We saw the movie in 2008. I had a front-row seat to it. I was working in finance in New York City back then. It was my first job out of college. It would be a sad thing to see that story repeat itself. And this isn't a left-wing or a right-wing issue. It's an issue about the integrity of capitalism itself.

COLLINS: Well, we will see what happens, if they do get acquired or if they do get a bailout.

Vivek Ramaswamy, 2024 presidential Republican candidate, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

RAMASWAMY: Thank you.

COLLINS: All right, it's the latest sign President Biden is preparing for a run. He is moving to the middle.

My panel is here next.



COLLINS: All right, and welcome back to State of the Union.

We have had quite a busy week here in Washington. Last night, obviously, there was this comment that Pence made at this closed-door dinner. We should note it was not on camera.

But, Scott, you were there. You heard Vice President Pence. It was the strongest comment yet we have seen from him on Trump on January 6.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I had never heard him go that far before. And what he said was absolutely true. And he spoke from the

perspective of someone who was in the building when it happened. And he told the story about being there. And he really dressed down Donald Trump and said, history will judge him for what happened on January 6.

Not only that, but he also addressed what Tucker Carlson did on FOX News this week, trying to whitewash this as nothing but a bunch of tourists walking through the Capitol. So he took on Trump and he took on Tucker. And he's currently wrestling with the decision about whether to run for president or not.

I thought it was a really, really eye-opening, eyebrow-raising thing that the vice president did. And, by the way, again, he should get enormous amount of credit from everybody for doing the right thing on January 6.

COLLINS: What do you make of what he said?

Some of the pushback will be, well, he's not testifying before the January 6 Committee. He's currently having his legal team fight a subpoena for Jack Smith's special counsel investigation January 6, but he did speak out. He was not just critical of Trump, but also FOX and how they portrayed it. He said it mocks decency to portray it as just tourists or sightseeing.

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And he's been pretty consistent about this message.

I mean, it would be a shame for him to run for president and not say the things that he truly believes to be true, to not say what he really thinks. But there's also the reality that that's probably not a message that will be terribly popular with Republican base voters, coming to a black-tie dinner that is a relatively swampy event, no offense to the Gridiron, and giving a speech that essentially says that he thinks Donald Trump was wrong and bad.

And it's just -- it's an odd message if your goal is to win a Republican primary. It's not an odd message if his goal is to say what he believes to be true.

COLLINS: What do you think?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think running for president, it's like going to prison.

You find the biggest, toughest guy in that cellblock and punch him right in the nose.


BEGALA: Cellblock R is run by Donald Trump. And if you want to beat him, you got to beat him.

And everybody else is pussyfooting around. And at least Mike Pence is standing up. And everybody's talking about Ron DeSantis like he's the new thing. I want to see somebody who's got the courage to take this guy on, smack him in the face and win. Now, maybe they can't. Maybe either they're not strong enough or Trump is too strong.

But that's what it's going to take. If they want to beat Donald Trump, they have to beat him, not just avoid him.


COLLINS: What did you make of it?

ALLISON: I mean, I'm obviously not the Mike Pence fan club president over here.


COLLINS: Really?


ALLISON: But I think it's important for him to say, to call it out, to say what really happened on January 6.

I think Nikki Haley should do it. We know Donald Trump is not. I think sitting senators need to continue to do it. There are many people in the House right now that still kind of go the line of Donald Trump, as well as the FOX News it was just tourists.

We have to continue -- and I think, as Democrats, we -- it's our obligation to continue to hold their feet to the fire and make sure that anyone running for office in 2024 has to continue to ask the question of what happened on January 6. And if they don't tell the truth, we need to make sure voters know that, because it is not too distant in the past not to be at issue of not being electable.

COLLINS: Scott, do you agree that we should be hearing from -- I mean, we're -- Ron DeSantis has been in Iowa. Trump is going there tomorrow.

We're already kind of seeing that split-screen with them. Nikki Haley has been there as well. Should the other candidates be speaking out in a similar fashion?

JENNINGS: Well, I think, because of what Pence said last night and his position this, they're going to have to eventually.

I mean, this is going to be -- if they have forums, if they have debates, I mean, this is -- if I were running one, I would make it the first question. Do you agree with what Mike Pence has said about this matter? So they're not going to be able to avoid it forever.

On him in this campaign, it may not be popular, maybe, but I will say he has enormous credibility with a key bloc of Republican voters, evangelicals. They trust Mike Pence. They believe him. They know he comes by his values honestly, unlike Trump, who came by them transactionally.

And so I do think he has the capacity to convince a core group that what he is telling them is the truth. I wouldn't discount his credibility with that key Republican bloc.

COLLINS: The other thing we have been talking about a lot is Social Security. Obviously, we have been talking about the budget, the debt ceiling all morning.

Nikki Haley is coming out. She is now suggesting that people who are in their 20s now, that we should raise the retirement age for when they get those benefits. Is that something that is going to be popular, you think?

SOLTIS ANDERSON: I think it's going to be challenging, because, to the extent that it can be distilled down to a single sentence, Nikki Haley wants to change Social Security, almost anything that comes after those first couple of words is really politically fraught territory.


So I think you earlier had Congresswoman Nancy Mace on, who was really trying to emphasize, this sort of thing would only be applying to people who are really, really young right now. You have got to make sure that is really the lead on this, because the moment that seniors think anything is going to change about this program, you're in a really politically perilous situation in both a general election and a Republican primary, where seniors make up such a huge piece of the electorate.

COLLINS: Yes, so they -- well, I want to ask you two, because Biden has released his new budget this week. It doesn't mention about how to basically save Social Security if it goes insolvent.

Is Biden making a move to the middle, not just that, the D.C. crime bill and voting to -- for the Republican-led resolution to overturn it? What is your sense of how he's positioning himself for a 2024 run?

BEGALA: Yes, I think the Republicans have abandoned the center, and so Biden is going to occupy it. I think it's very smart.

Crime, immigration, energy, deficits, he's taken the center right away from the Republican Party. They don't seem to want it. They seem to want to be catering only to the most extreme people that didn't even think the riot was a riot.

But I think it's very smart politics. I think it's actually good for the country too. But I think it's what he believes. Biden has never been a leftist. He's always been a pretty moderate Democrat. And I think he's governing exactly the way he -- as president, as the way he was as a senator.

ALLISON: Yes, first on the Social Security and changing it for young people, young people also vote, and they have been voting in record numbers. So I would be careful to alienate that group of voters going into a primary or into a general.

I think, to Paul's point, Biden has always been somewhat of a centrist Democrat. He has never been the left flank of the party. And I think he has actually governed accordingly. But he also made campaign promises. And I think he needs to make sure, though, that the base voters who want voting rights, who want criminal justice reform, who want reproductive rights, all which are really popular moderate positions, that he can also work to deliver on those as well.

BEGALA: You got to send flowers in Nikki Haley, because he gave that State of the Union address, said, Republicans want to cut Social Security. And they all squealed like a pig stuck under a gate.

COLLINS: You think it helps...


BEGALA: And now she's called for cutting Social Security. That's what she's calling for, cutting Social Security. So Joe Biden was right once again.

JENNINGS: I have been worried about you all week, because you all are now drilling for all.


ALLISON: Worried about me.

JENNINGS: You're putting criminals in jail. We're closing the border.

Look, Joe Biden is the most liberal president we have ever had in the history of the United States of America. He is no moderate. He wasn't when he ran as one before. He won't be when he runs as one now. Do not be fooled. Everything will be fine. He will be just as liberal if he gets reelected.

Don't worry. It'll be fine.


COLLINS: I just want to note for the record that Ashley is shaking her head to that.

ALLISON: I don't even need to respond, you know? I don't need to respond.


COLLINS: You guys, a great panel. Thank you for joining us on this Sunday morning.

And we will be right back right after this.



COLLINS: All right, thank you so much for spending your Sunday morning with us, and with me filling in, in the chair.

Fareed Zakaria picks it up next.