'This Week' Transcript 3-12-23: Sen. Mark Warner, Rep. Mike Turner, and Jennifer Homendy
This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, March 12.
A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, March 12, 2023 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form, may be updated and may contain minor transcription errors. For previous show transcripts, visit the "This Week" transcript archive.
ANNOUNCER: THIS WEEK with George Stephanopoulos starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC "THIS WEEK" ANCHOR: Sudden collapse.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All our money is in the bank. Well, I don’t know what we’re going to do now?
RADDATZ: Silicon Valley Bank seized by regulators. The largest bank failure in 15 years.
CECELIA ROUSE: Our banking system is far more resilient than it was in 2008.
RADDATZ: As the shutdown raises concerns at home, U.S. intel chiefs lay out the threats abroad.
AVRIL HAINES: The next few years are critical as strategic competition with China and Russia intensifies.
RADDATZ: This morning, Rebecca Jarvis reports on the financial fallout. Senator Mark Warner with Congress' response, plus House Intel Committee Chair Mike Turner.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Delta 1943, canceling takeoff plans.
RADDATZ: Several aviation near misses under investigation.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): What the heck is going on in air travel?
RADDATZ: As concern grows over railroad safety, Congress grills Norfolk Southern’s CEO.
ALAN SHAW, CEO OF NORFOLK SOUTHERN: We're going to do what's right.
RADDATZ: The urgent search for answers with National Transportation Safety Board Chief Jennifer Homendy.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm ready to meet with the speaker any time, tomorrow, if he has his budget.
RADDATZ: President Biden unveils his budget priorities with an eye on re-election while 2024 Republican hopefuls descend on Iowa.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I bring greetings from the free state of Florida.
RADDATZ: All the week's politics on our powerhouse roundtable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it’s THIS WEEK. Here now, Martha Raddatz.
RADDATZ: Good morning, and welcome to THIS WEEK.
As we come on the air this morning, the federal government is scrambling to contain the fallout over the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, the largest U.S. bank to fail since the 2008 financial crisis. The second biggest bank to collapse in U.S. history.
Silicon Valley Bank primarily catered to startups and technology companies, but its demise began Wednesday after concern over its cash reserves sparked a bank run by its clients. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has taken control of the bank and its billions of dollars in deposits, the vast majority of which is not insured. The Biden administration says the banking system remains resilient, that reforms enacted after the 2008 financial crisis would protect the broader economy. But the situation remains fluid. Tense for those with uninsured deposits. And raises concerns about the impact on other banks and the technology industry.
We'll try to make sense of it this morning. Our chief business and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis leads us off.
Good morning, Rebecca.
REBECCA JARVIS, ABC NEWS CHIEF BUSINESS AND ECONOMICS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Martha.
And this was the go-to bank for tech companies and startups. On Thursday, when they were spooked, they pulled $42 billion out of their accounts. And now the FDIC is in charge, and billions of dollars in customer funds hang in the balance.
JARVIS (voice over): Across the country, anxious customers still unable to access their money in Silicon Valley Bank.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All our money is in the bank.
JARVIS: In just 48 hours, the bank collapsing. Regulators seizing its assets and shutting its 17 branches in California and Massachusetts.
It was the second biggest bank failure in U.S. history. This morning, federal regulators are working to make sure customers can withdraw at least some of their cash when the bank reopens Monday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's insured by the government, so I'm pretty sure we'll get our money.
JARVIS: Silicon Valley Bank, the 16th largest in the U.S., was a go-to lender for the tech industry and startups. Companies like Roku, Pinterest, Ziprecruiter, and others. Rising interest rates put pressure on SVB to raise capital to shore up its finances. That spooked account holder who rushed to withdraw their funds and sparked a run on the bank. And the government, stepping in.
SARIKA BAJAJ, SVB CUSTOMER: We're expecting, like, some difficulty and hoping that we can at least get an idea of, are we losing money? How much money have we lost?
STEFAN KALB, CEO, SHELF ENGINE: A lot of us are going to be in a very painful situation very quickly.
JARVIS: At the end of last year, SVB held $175 billion in customer deposits. The government insures each account up to $250,000, but many customers had much more than that in their accounts. Those customers will have to wait in line to get some, if any, of their additional money back. With their accounts frozen, companies fear they won't be able to pay their employees.
DEAN NELSON, CEO, CATO DIGITAL: A little nerve-racking when it comes down to how you keep operating your company.
JARVIS: The White House rushing to calm financial markets.
CECILIA ROUSE, CHAIR, WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: The reforms of the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, we’ve put in place stress tests and other tools that our regulators have to provide more resilience to our banking system.
JARVIS: One expert says banks remain healthy overall.
MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY’S ANALYTICS: Fundamentally, the system is in very good shape. It can take a lot of pressure.
JARVIS: But the full fallout isn’t clear. Several regional bank stocks tumbled Friday. Thousands of wineries who relied on SVB are reportedly locked out of their accounts, and sections of the housing market could even be at risk.
But larger banks, like JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America are regulated differently and held to a higher standard.
ZANDI: Most Americans won’t even feel a ripple here. It’s not something that people, I think, should be concerned about.
JARVIS: And yet many questions still remain this morning. First and foremost, whether the government or another bank might step in, that spillover effect, and, finally, what the Fed's next move will be. We remember that strong jobs report on Friday and near historic inflation persists. The Fed was largely expected to hike interest rates again in two weeks, but that would make credit card borrowing more expensive, and it would increase the probability of more debacles like the one we just saw.
RADDATZ: Rebecca Jarvis, thank you.
And joining us now is Senator Mark Warner, chair of the Intelligence Committee, and a member of the Banking Committee.
Thanks for joining us this morning, Senator.
We know this is only one bank, but this is the second largest bank failure in U.S. history. And banks collapsing bring back a lot of nightmares for people.
How significant do you think this is?
SEN MARK WARNER, CHAIR, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE, (D) BANKING COMMITTEE & (D) VIRGINIA: Well, Martha, let's remember how we got here. First of all, banking 101 is about taking care of interest rate risks. This bank bought long-term treasuries. Interest rates went up. And they got – they got caught in a bind.
But what was different, and your report made clear, $42 billion came out of this bank on one day, on Thursday. And, frankly, some actors, I think, were accelerating that run. To put it in comparison, Washington Mutual, during the crisis, when it went under, it lost $16 billion over ten days. So, this happened so, so quickly.
Why is it important to most Americans? One is because this bank did fund startup companies all over the country. I know it's called Silicon Valley Bank, but the startups literally are all across the country, and they've got to pay their bills this week. And, secondly, if other regional banks, midsized banks, if people get nervous, they may start taking their money out of those banks and putting it into the large money center banks. We don't want further consolidation.
So, I know, I've in conversations with the regulators, the administration, the Fed, the best outcome will be, can we -- can they find a buyer for this SVB bank today before the markets open in Asia later in the day? That would be the best, making sure that depositors -- remember that shareholders in the bank are going to lose their money. Let's be clear about that. But the depositors can be taken care of, and the best outcome will be an acquisition of SVB.
RADDATZ: OK, if you don't have that acquisition, Rebecca mentioned that the government only insures deposits up to $250,000. Most of SVB's deposits were uninsured. Should a bailout be on the table to make sure customers can get all their money back?
WARNER: Let's see what happens today first. I would point out, during the last financial crisis, we did insure deposits up until about -- between 2008 and 2012. There's generally been a feeling that, you know, the people responsible, the shareholders of the bank ought to lose their money. Depositors have been a different circumstance, but there are questions around moral hazard. I've got a lot of faith that the overall system is quite strong. We do want to make sure that the Fed is going to move as aggressively -- I'm sorry, the FDIC, which has got control, will move as aggressively as possible. Let's see what happens later today.
RADDATZ: As –
WARNER: I'm optimistic. And I do think the --
RADDATZ: SVB put a lot of their earnings into longer term securities, but they’re not the only ones with that business model. And Secretary Yellen said there are a few banks that should be a matter of concern. So, what happens if those fail?
WARNER: Well, that – that is the concern again. Do you end up seeing a lot of small and midsized banks, which are the heart of the banking system all across the country, people suddenly saying, well, gosh, I've got more than $250,000 in this bank. I want to take my money out and just put it in a JP Morgan or a Citi Bank. What we don't want to see is further consolidation.
So, let’s see what the regulators -- I know that people are working around the clock on this. And I’m a lot more opti -- let me just say this, I’m more optimistic this morning than I was yesterday afternoon at this time. But, again, we will see how this plays out during the rest of the day.
RADDATZ: Senator, after the financial crisis in 2008, regulations were put into place to make sure banks could weather large losses. Under President Trump, some of those were rolled back. And in 2018, you were one of only 17 Democrats who voted for the bill that rolled back some banking rules, including for institutions the size of Silicon Valley Bank.
Silicon Valley Bank was under closer watch, closer scrutiny before that bill was signed into law by President Trump.
Do you regret that vote?
WARNER: Martha, I still think -- we put in place Dodd-Frank. I was proud to be one of the key authors of that bill. It strengthened the banking system. I do think these midsized banks needed some regulatory relief.
End of the day, Martha, no matter what the capital had been in this bank, if you don't get banking 101 straight, if you don’t manage your interest rate risks, if you've then got to run at $42 billion in a single day unprecedented.
A lot of time to look back on what the regulators did and didn’t do, and why the bank management didn't get this right, banking 101, managing interest rates risks. And what we've got to focus on right now is how do we make sure there's not contagion, and at the same time, you know, believe that the SVB can be acquired.
Remember, this has got a good book of business. This got startup companies all over the country, and that --
RADDATZ: So, Senator, you don't regret that vote?
WARNER: Listen, I think -- that was called the 2155 bill. I think it put in place an appropriate level of regulation on midsized banks.
RADDATZ: And I want to turn quickly to overseas if we can. You were the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. This week, we heard China's President Xi level very direct criticism to the U.S., something he rarely does.
How concerned are you about our relationship with China?
WARNER: We should be concerned. We're in enormous competition with China. National security, we had all the intelligence leaders before our committee this week.
National security is not simply about guns and ships and tanks anymore. It is about technology competition. It's about who's going to win the struggle around artificial intelligence, quantum computing, synthetic biology.
It's one of the reasons why I put together a bipartisan piece of legislation, seven Democrats, seven Republicans, the president supports and I’ve got interest from the speaker on making sure Chinese and other technology companies that pose national security risks like TikTok, that we give the secretary of commerce the tools to either require a divesture or frankly even ban them.
We've seen, for example, TikTok already banned in India. We’ve seen the Canadian government, the EU urge taking that off phones in their systems.
We've got this technology competition which China, and they have been stealing our intellectual property at the rate of $500 billion a year. We have to be worried.
China's a great country. Our beef is with the communist party. It's not with the Chinese people. But Xi Jinping, we should not underestimate both his aggressiveness and his authoritarian regime.
RADDATZ: And just very quickly, do you think TikTok should be banned?
WARNER: Absolutely. I, you know, this is a -- literally 100 million Americans are on TikTok an average of 90 minutes a day. That data is residing in China no matter what TikTok says, and the truth is TikTok can be used as a propaganda mechanism for the Communist Party of China. That I believe is a national security concern.
What we don’t -- what we don’t -- what we need though is a rules-based approach that doesn't simply single out a single application because it was Huawei, the Chinese telecom company earlier, TikTok today. There will be other technology applications.
We need a rules-based approach that will look at this foreign-based technology from China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and say --
RADDATZ: Okay, thanks, Senator.
WARNER: -- we've got to have the tools to make sure that we can take them down.
RADDATZ: Okay. Thanks very much, Senator, for joining us this morning.
WARNER: Thank you.
RADDATZ: Let's bring in Republican Congressman Mike Turner, chair of the House Intelligence Committee.
And let's start with China. You heard what Senator Warner said. How do you differ from President Biden in an approach to China?
REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH): Well, good morning, Martha.
Well, first off, I think what we heard clearly from the intelligence community is the emergence of China as a threat, both militarily and through espionage, and as the senator was just saying, through technology, quantum technology computing, also certainly the ability for them to insert themselves through TikTok into our data systems. We worked really hard to get them out of our telecommunication systems with – by getting rid of Huawei systems in our telecommunication, and then we’re handing over our phone systems by people downloading a TikTok app, which has no division between, you know, the Chinese company, the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party.
So I think that the difference I think is that the -- the Biden administration appears to be much too timid. They’ve been much timid in their approach to Russia, always on the -- having been pushed by Congress before they would fully support Ukraine. And I think even in China they're afraid to provoke. And we – we believe, I think most, who have looked at the intelligence, that look at what's happening with their military buildup, they're tripling their side of their nuclear weapons pointed at the United States, they’re expanding their – their shipbuilding, they're absolutely emerging as a military threat to the United States. I think we need to respond, and respond very strongly.
RADDATZ: But – but what do you mean by that? You said the administration has a fear of provoking. What do you mean? What do you think they should be doing?
TURNER: Well, in a number of areas, when the – when the administration came in, there were policies in place in the Trump administration which they rescinded, one of which was a ban on TikTok. The Trump administration, in August of 2020, had banned and required a disinvestment by China of TikTok. The administration reverse that in June of 2021.
They also had a -- the Department of Justice, a program that was directed at Chinese espionage. They – they were concerned that it was too provocative and that it’s – that it might be targeting individuals and so – which, of course, we wanted to target China and so they disbanded that – that program, which had been set up under the Trump administration. So, there’s a number of things where they've – they’ve dismantled them where, right now, we're having debates about putting them back.
RADDATZ: China did play a pivotal role in brokering this deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran in restoring relationships, a move that not only stunned Mideast watchers, but it also seemed to leave the U.S. on the sidelines.
TURNER: Absolutely. And I think that, of course, is a reflection on the Biden administration.
You know, when the president came in, he had very harsh words for Saudi Arabia. You know, at the same time that we were working with Saudi Arabia to try to strengthen their defenses against Iran, Iran actually attacked Saudi Arabia. Instead of the -- this administration stepping forward and being a partner to Saudi Arabia, our ally, and working with them to defend themselves against attacks from Iran, they subjected Saudi Arabia to a significant amount of criticism and were slow to react and respond to the military needs of – of Saudi Arabia.
So, it's not unexpected that they might look elsewhere for support. It certainly is very unexpected and certainly very troubling and disappointing that they would turn to Iran.
RADDATZ: I want to turn to Covid origins. You've said that you believe Covid originated from a Chinese lab leak based on significant evidence. The Department of Energy said it has concluded the same, but with low confidence. Why are you so certain?
TURNER: Well, actually what I said is, I think there's significant evidence that lends itself to that. And – and I still do. That's why you just saw unanimously both the Senate and the House pass legislation demanding that the administration declassify the intelligence the intelligence community has with respect to Covid-19. It is incredibly frustrating for members of Congress to watch Dr. Fauci go on television and say things that are absolutely not supported by the intelligence. We're seeing the intelligence. It's not like we voted to say, show us the intelligence. We've seen it. We’ve voted to say, show the American people. They’re not getting the straight answer from Dr. Fauci or from this administration. They need to be able to see for themselves that they -- what has occurred. And I understand that Dr. Fauci has a reason to say that there was not a lab leak, because he was actively working to fund the lab in – in Wuhan. So, you – you see a gentleman who is – who is biased. I think this (INAUDIBLE) in public this straight --
RADDATZ: I think Dr. Fauci would dispute that.
TURNER: Well, I think the evidence totally shows it, that there is funds over which he has control that ended up at the Wuhan lab. So, at this time, you've got a guy who's going on national television, I believe, and I think members of Congress believe, saying things that are not reflected in the intelligence. So, our view is, show the American public the intelligence and then you -- Martha, you can have the intelligence in front of you. And the next time Dr. Fauci’s on you can say, hey, but the intelligence actually says x, and you can challenge him.
RADDATZ: Well, we'll see if that happens and we'll see if China ever cooperates. That's important as well.
Thanks very much for joining us this morning, Congressman.
TURNER: Thank you, Martha.
RADDATZ: Coming up, a series of potentially catastrophic, close calls has raised major concerns about aviation safety. We'll speak with the head of the federal agency responsible for investigating those incidents, next.
SEN. DAN SULLIVAN, (R) ALASKA: Can you just right now assure the American people that flying aircraft in the United States of America is still the safest way to travel?
SEN. MARIA CANTWELL, (D) WASHINGTON: We have seen near-misses and incidents that remind us that aviation safety requires constant vigilance.
The FAA must work harder.
SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) TEXAS: On Monday in Boston, two United Airline planes clipped wings prior to takeoff. What the heck is going on in air traffic?
RADDATZ: Lawmakers grilling the acting FAA administrator on Capitol Hill after a series of very narrow misses in recent months that could have been catastrophic airline accidents. NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy is standing by to talk about that and the latest on that toxic train derailment in Ohio. But first, the question Senator Ted Cruz asked, "What the heck is going on with air travel?"
Every day, 45,000 flights take off and land across the U.S., but a string of frightening close calls in just the last few months alarming travelers.
(UNKNOWN): The FAA is now investigating yet another close call.
(UNKNOWN): A near catastrophe at New York's JFK Airport.
(UNKNOWN): It's the second time we've seen this in just weeks.
RADDATZ (voice over): One of the most alarming, a United 777 packed with vacationers departing the island of Maui, rising on takeoff, then quickly taking a nosedive.
COL. STEVE GANYARD, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: It came within five seconds of impacting the water. Right now it appears there was a problem in the cockpit.
RADDATZ: ABC contributor Steve Ganyard had a decades-long career as a Marine Corps fighter pilot and mishap investigator.
GANYARD: So we've had five, at least five, very serious incidents that could have led to catastrophe. The common thread that we see here is human error. So in three of these most serious incidents, it seems that pilots were making mistakes in the cockpit. In two of them, we're seeing mistakes that were made in the control tower that almost led to mishaps.
RADDATZ: In Austin early this month, a FedEx cargo plane and a Southwest passenger jet nearly collided, air traffic control clearing the Southwest jet to depart from the same runway where the FedEx plane was set to land.
(UNKNOWN): Southwest abort. FedEx is on the go.
RADDATZ: Thankfully, the FedEx pilot spotting the Southwest plane and aborting their landing.
GANYARD: For some reason, they got so close that they came within 100 feet of hitting each other.
RADDATZ: And in January, at JFK in New York.
TOWER: Delta 1943, cancel takeoff plans.
RADDATZ: A taxiing plane almost collided with another taking off, just 1,000 feet separating them.
GANYARD: If those two airplanes had collided, that would have been the worst aviation disaster in American history. Three hundred people could have been killed there.
RADDATZ: How does that happen, with the pilot?
GANYARD: Every human being, every pilot makes their share of mistakes. You have to have sort of layers of safety. So, if I make a mistake, you pick up on it and you fix me.
RADDATZ: Behind the alarming incidents, Ganyard says is an airline system overwhelmed.
Do you think we're pushing the system too hard then?
GANYARD: The system is definitely being pushed too hard. COVID’s over for the flying public, but the airlines are still trying to catch up. They don't have the people. They don't have the parts and so, they're about 75 percent, 80 percent.
So any time you stress a system like that, you're going to have things that break and you're going to have people that make mistakes.
RADDATZ: The nation's skies not the only place where transport is under scrutiny after a series of train derailments, including that major incident in East Palestine, Ohio.
GANYARD: The rail system is just like the aviation system. It relies on people, and in 2022, the cause of most of the mishaps in the rail system was human error, people making mistakes because we're going from the COVID lull up to 100 to 110 percent of what we were pre-COVID.
RADDATZ: And joining us now is Jennifer Homendy, the chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, an independent federal agency which conducts accident investigations and advocates for safety improvement.
Great to have you with us this morning, Chair Homendy.
You’ve said our aviation system, let’s start there, is the safest in the world, the gold standard, but these incidents are alarming. So, even though we’re the safest in the world, are we as safe today as we were say three years ago pre-COVID?
JENNIFER HOMENDY, CHAIR, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: Yes, we are still the safest aviation system in the world. There are clearly risks that we need to evaluate. And this is why the NTSB is investigating several incidents so it doesn’t become something more catastrophic.
RADDATZ: How -- how concerned are you about those incidents?
HOMENDY: We are very concerned because it could lead to another event, and we don’t want to see any backtracking in aviation because we have made substantial progress over the last several decades.
RADDATZ: Let’s talk about that 777 that departed Maui and ended up taking a dive. And it was only that about 775 feet above the ocean. That truly could have been catastrophic.
The NTSB did not start an investigation for, I think, two months until it was reported in the media because United Airlines apparently thought it didn’t meet the reporting criteria since no one was injured, since there was no damage to the aircraft.
Should that criteria be changed?
HOMENDY: Well, the criteria for accident and incidents is something that we will look at and constantly review. In this one, our investigators did know about it. We didn’t have a full investigation of it because it occurred on the same day as another very turbulent event in Hawaii. But it is something that we are investigating now.
RADDATZ: And I have to say this reporting criteria, if -- we didn’t really know about that one, and apparently the passengers were fairly unaware of that. What else don’t we know, if this reporting criteria is you don’t report it until there are injuries, fatalities or damage to the aircraft?
HOMENDY: Well, typically, if we don’t know, the Federal Aviation Administration should know. And there’s communication between our agency and the FAA, where there’s a lot of information sharing.
We also have a tremendous relationship with the different commercial operators who will call in and say, we had an event, you - we want to make you aware of this so that we can look at it.
RADDATZ: Do you -- do you think the airlines are pushing too hard right now post-COVID?
HOMENDY: I think it’s a difficult time for the aviation industry. Coming out of COVID --
RADDATZ: They’re stressed.
HOMENDY: They are stressed. I think, you know, we saw a lot of layoffs. We saw a lot of employees retire. We have new employees coming on that are being trained.
And then, in addition to that, I think we have a pretty complex air space with commercial space transportation, we have drones coming online, air taxis. So it’s a difficult time and it’s really a transitional time for the aviation industry.
RADDATZ: So, can you confirm that these incidents, these very close calls, are on the rise?
HOMENDY: They are on the rise. So, for the runway incursions themselves, we held a forum back in 2017 where we saw, there were about 1,300 runway incursions that year. Now we’re over 1,600. So, we really need to look at the data.
But, you know, five, six years ago we called for better technology at airports. Technology that would notify air traffic controls, technology that would notify pilots that there was a potential incursion. One of those has been -- those recommendations has been open for 23 years.
HOMENDY: The FAA needs to take action.
RADDATZ: And let’s -- let’s turn to East Palestine, the recent train derailments.
Norfolk Southern’s CEO, Alan Shaw, testified before Congress. Are you satisfied with the safety goals he has set?
HOMENDY: I've seen some of them. They are not robust enough. I think we’ll be looking at more recommendations as part of our investigation. In fact, just this week, we will be doing testing of the pressure relief valves that release -- that are in charge of releasing pressure of those five vinyl chloride train cars and we’ll see what comes of that testing. We may have recommendations towards the end that are much broader.
RADDATZ: OK, thanks so much for joining us this morning, Chair Homendy. It’s great to see you.
HOMENDY: Thank you so much.
RADDATZ: Coming up, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis makes his first trip to Iowa, as President Biden lays out his new budget. Are there 2024 announcements on the way?
The roundtable weighs in next.
RADDATZ: The roundtable's here, ready to go.
We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My budget’s going to give working people a fighting chance. It’s going to create good paying jobs. And we can pay for these jobs by reducing the deficit. We also have to ask the wealthiest and the biggest corporations to begin to pay their fair share.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): What does his budget do? Raise more taxes, spends more money, creates probably the biggest government we've ever seen in the history of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: President Biden announcing his budget and sounding like a candidate for re-election.
Let's bring in our roundtable.
“Time” national political correspondent Molly Ball, ABC News political director Rick Klein, PBS “Newshour” White House correspondent Laura Barron-Lopez, and “Washington Post” editorial writer and columnist Charles Lane.
Welcome to you all this morning. A lot to talk about. And I'm going to start with you, Rick.
Let's talk about what we just heard from President Biden, who made that budget announcement in Pennsylvania. That budget basically has no chance of passing – of – of passing, so this really did seem like a preview of 2024.
RICK KLEIN, ABC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Martha, this is the 2024 campaign framework in real view. It is not about passing. President's budgets never pass. But the president, and most of his party is – are happy to say, look, we can bring you lower prescription drug prices, lower insulin prices. We can bring you free community college. No cuts to Medicare and Social Security. And, yes, higher taxes on the wealthy.
They like what this says about the party. I've talked to White House allies that see this as an opportunity. The president will be out west later this week talking specifically about these issues, saying, look, this is what we can do. And they particularly like the contrast. They like that they can present something. They know that this puts Republicans on their heels because these don't have the same kind of plans.
RADDATZ: Exactly. Exactly. It puts -- Laura, it puts Republicans on their heels. It's baiting Republicans for their own plan.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, PBS NEWSHOUR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that’s right. Right now President Biden can say, look. I've put out my budget. I’ve made clear what I'm willing to do and what I want to do, and particularly on Medicare and Social Security. And now he's saying to Republicans, show me what you can actually get behind because the White House feels good not only because they feel as though public sentiment is on their side, but because they, right now, are asking, can Kevin McCarthy, Speaker McCarthy, even get all of his conference behind one budget proposal? Because we’ve seen already where the Freedom Caucus supports one thing, and Republican Study Committee supports another. And right now Republicans are not aligned on what they want to do in terms of budget cuts.
RADDATZ: And – and, Molly, more on the Republicans. Kevin McCarthy, we heard him talk there. He has a super slim majority. The pressure's on.
MOLLY BALL, TIME NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And this all comes in the context of the debt limit showdown, right, where Democrats do really believe that the Republicans have sort of painted themselves into a corner. They have said that they're not going to touch entitlements. They have said they're going to balance the budget. And the ball is in their court, at least from the White House's perspective, to come up with some kind of proposal, to come up with a budget proposal and also then to come up with a debt ceiling proposal because they have said that as their price to raise the debt ceiling, they do want to enact a lot of spending cuts. We have yet to see, to Laura's point, a set of – a suite of cuts or some kind of proposal that – that this very slim majority of Republicans can all rally around. And since there’s not going to be Democratic buy-in on any of this, it's going to take the entire Republican conference to come up with something.
RADDATZ: And – and, Chuck, debt and deficit are very real problems.
CHARLES LANE, WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL WRITER AND COLUMNIST: Yes, they are. I mean, I agree with the panel that this is smart politics on the part of the president, but maybe not the greatest policy if it were actually to be enacted. The deficit reduction he's boasting is relative to a baseline that still has multitrillion dollars deficits out as far as the eye can see.
When this debt ceiling thing finally does crystallize and negotiations began is when we’re going to find out whether there's any hope for these two parties, who are totally polarized, to at least get us through this passage with some kind of non-catastrophic outcome, which is what we would have on the debt ceiling.
LANE: And Joe Manchin has been sticking his hand up lately, offering himself as the man in the middle who is possibly going to make that happen.
RADDATZ: And is that going to happen?
LANE: Well, it doesn't look very good right now because, for exactly the reason Laura was saying, and others were saying, is that the Freedom Caucus has stuck its hand up and said, "We have this, you know, swingeing list of spending cuts that are our condition for a deal." And that creates a situation where Kevin McCarthy is going to have a hard time holding his caucus together.
RADDATZ: Let's go back to President Biden. It was a good and a bad week. We had the bank failure, bad week, but good job numbers.
BARRON-LOPEZ: That's right. I mean, the White House right now is trying to focus on those unemployment -- the low unemployment numbers, the jobs numbers, and say again and again, "Look, we understand people don't necessarily feel as though inflation is down, but that this budget proposal, as well as the things that they're going to -- you're going to start see implemented, like the prescription drug reform that Rick mentioned, like the infrastructure jobs that are coming through, that's what they're -- what President Biden is trying to highlight all the way into 2024."
RADDATZ: But, Molly, the Fed is still under pressure to raise interest rates. How do you do that?
BALL: Well, because we have not seen inflation meaningfully come down, despite all of the interest rate hikes so far. And that is a continuing -- it's a substantive problem; it's also a political problem. We have seen over and over the White House touting these positive economic indicators. The whole State of the Union speech was about this supposedly great economy, and Americans don't believe that. They're not feeling it. People are very pessimistic about the state of economy. They -- they aren't feeling good. They're not feeling like, you know, the present is secure and the future is...
RADDATZ: Especially now with the bank.
BALL: ... trajectory, and so it's going to take a lot of convincing and potentially things changing. And given, you know, that the Fed rate hikes are in the interest of slowing the economy, potentially creating economic pain for Americans, that -- you know, we could see things get worse in people's perception before they get better.
RADDATZ: And, Rick, let's -- let's talk about the Republican side, Ron DeSantis out there in Iowa and Nevada. It's even clearer now he's running.
KLEIN: I think it's clearer that he's running. I think, as unclear as ever, though, what that means and what it means for the rest of the field. He has not lit the world on fire with his initial debut speeches. They've been what people expected, kind of, workman-like, "I'm out here to represent the Republican Party, a lot of talk about stopping wokeness.
Does it work in front of a Republican primary crowd that's really fired up this far out? Sure, yeah. But we don't know what kind of a candidate we're talking about. Are we talking about a juggernaut? Are we talking about someone who is just offering one of several alternatives to Donald Trump? And where does that actually slice down?
Look, I think Ron DeSantis is going to be a formidable candidate. I think we've seen that clearly in a range of local and national polls, but there's still room in this field for others. That's the sense, even with a couple of other names like Larry Hogan less likely to run or bowing out, there's still room in this field to have some additions.
RADDATZ: Does -- is DeSantis a natural campaigner?
KLEIN: No. Short answer is no.
RADDATZ: I, kind of, knew you were going to say that.
KLEIN: Yeah, I mean, this has been -- this has been the knot that started to form in Republican circles, that, OK, we know what he's done in Florida, but has he taken a tough question from a voter in Iowa or New Hampshire? Does he -- does he have what it takes once he gets attacked on a debate stage? We just haven't seen that from him yet, and the donor class that's very high on DeSantis has to be also just a little bit nervous.
Does he -- can he be the one, and do they need to hedge the bets a little bit?
RADDATZ: And, Chuck, can he take this message outside of Florida? Does it work?
LANE: Well, he has a message that the Republican base loves on wokeness, and he's got a story to tell about the Florida economy, which is very strong. I, you know, I took a look at his State of the State address, which ran through the whole laundry list of accomplishments and was staged like a State of the Union...
RADDATZ: "The front lines in the battle of freedom."
RADDATZ: "For freedom."
LANE: He was calling out people in the chamber there, acting like president of the United States. But Florida's a -- a big state where a lot of the campaigning goes on in the media. It's about TV and that sort of stuff. And his main interactions have been with hostile reporters, where he, sort of, stages these confrontations. It comes off as very hard-edge. When you have to go into living rooms in New Hampshire and Iowa and win people over one by one, that is a skill set that, let's just say, he's going to have to develop and learn it on the job.
RADDATZ: And, Laura, former President Trump will follow DeSantis into Iowa. A new poll from the Des Moines Register found 80 percent of Republicans in the state view Trump favorably, but nearly as many, 74 percent, feel the same about DeSantis. Is this a sign that DeSantis could eat into Trump's base?
BARRON-LOPEZ: I think DeSantis certainly could. I mean, right now, DeSantis is running a primary campaign, which is that, when you talk about Trump versus DeSantis, they are very similar candidates, in that they're both running for that Trumpist base. They both have similar platforms, anti-LGBTQ, anti-transgender, you know, which DeSantis calls his "war on woke."
And, also, you know, I was talking to a Republican strategist, though, in a swing state, recently, who said that this may very well work in a state like Iowa, in primary states, but you get into the general election and that type of platform, which is, you know, a culture war grievance platform, is not necessarily going to work in swing states.
RADDATZ: And -- and, Molly, a big variable for former President Trump, the investigations. The Manhattan investigation basically looks like there could be an indictment?
BALL: It looks like there could be.
RADDATZ: That's the payoffs to the porn star?
BALL: That's right. And -- and we know that there is also the Georgia grand jury, very, very close to something coming out of that. We have the special counsel, which has been more or less a black box, but we know that he is also moving very fast on multiple fronts.
So this all creates a cloud of uncertainty around Trump, who is still, I think, the undisputed front-runner for the Republican nomination but whose campaign has gotten off to this, sort of, oddly slow start, right? We don't see him doing a rally every weekend. We don't see him out there on the trail really acting like he's competing for it.
So I think, at this point, it feels like the whole campaign is in a bit of a holding pattern, you know, with the president not announcing his re-election yet. It's getting off to a slow start. But all of these investigations do create uncertainty for Trump. And -- and we just don't know how that's all going to play out. I think we've seen in the past he's able to, sort of, weaponize his sense of victimhood and rally a lot of Republicans around him, when you would think, you know, for any normal candidate, getting indicted is not a good thing politically.
But up is down and down is up when it comes to Donald Trump. So we will just have to see how that plays out.
RADDATZ: And -- and Pence was down on Donald Trump this week. The former vice president said his strongest words about Trump in a speech last night, saying, "President Trump was wrong. I had no right to overturn the election, and his reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day," obviously talking about January 6th, "and I know history will hold Donald Trump accountable."
KLEIN: Yeah. This was a startling moment last night at the Gridiron dinner, which is the journalistic institution. Usually it's fun and jokes and skits.
RADDATZ: He had a few jokes, right?
KLEIN: He had some jokes. But then he took a hard -- a hard pivot away from that and went deadly serious for a moment, and addressed January 6th. I think it was directly responsive to what we saw this past week via Kevin McCarthy and Fox News, the very selectively edited, deceptively edited footage around January 6th, and then more importantly, more relevantly for this conversation, about Donald Trump.
And to me, Mike Pence went as far as he's gone in saying that what Trump did was unacceptable, that there should be accountability, and there will be the accountability of history. Of course he's talking to a room full of journalists, so you can understand why the first amendment "rah rah" speech is something that goes over well. Whether he brings that into Iowa or South Carolina in his upcoming travel, I think this is a bit of a recast for Mike Pence as well. And I think he sees where this field is developing. And if he's going to have an angle, he has to be deadly clear about January 6th.
RADDATZ: And, Chuck, very quickly, you've got about 15 seconds.
LANE: Well, I -- after I read those comments by Mike Pence, I wondered if he really wanted to be the Republican nominee. Because they're not going to play well with the Trump base. You know, he name-checked Donald Trump, by name, on January 6th, which is something other candidates have avoided.
RADDATZ: OK. Thanks to all of you. Thanks for joining us on these Sunday mornings.
Coming up, on the third anniversary of the coronavirus pandemic, what have we learned? And are we prepared for the next global outbreak? Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID MUIR, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: We begin tonight with the coronavirus outbreak here in the U.S. and around the world. Tonight, the World Health Organization now declaring it a global pandemic, citing the alarming levels of spread but also the alarming levels of inaction, in their words.
President Trump is set to address the nation tonight from the Oval Office. The death toll rising here in the U.S. to at least 36, three deaths just today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic.
And as we look ahead, we want to welcome back someone who has helped us make sense of this virus over the years, Dr. Rich Besser, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
So happy to have you on this morning, Dr. Besser.
It is hard to believe it’s been three years. Obviously, we’ve come a long way, but give us your assessment about where we are at this point.
DR. RICHARD BESSER, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF THE ROBERT WOOD JOHNSON FOUNDATION: Yeah. You know, Martha, it’s absolutely impossible for me to believe it’s been three years. Time feels -- it feels compressed.
At the beginning of this pandemic, when you talk to infectious disease experts, a lot of predictions were that it would take at least three years to have a safe and effective vaccine. Yet, the scientific community delivered one within one year. And while we lost more than a million people in the United States, millions more around the world from this pandemic, estimates are that over 3 million lives were saved in the United States alone from that vaccine.
So, as we are starting to emerge from this pandemic, there are things that we will never recover from and there are things that we need to live from.
RADDATZ: And the administration has announced that the public health emergency will be lifted on May 11th. What it -- what does that really mean?
BESSER: Yeah. So, you know, when a pandemic is declared and that’s declared by the World Health Organization, it’s a statement that we are in a sense, we are in global emergency. We are being overwhelmed by a new, infectious agent.
What we’re saying now and what the government will be saying here in May is not that COVID is over. It’s not that there won’t continue to be transmission, but the emergency status of that has changed, so that our health care system can handle patients with this. COVID becomes another one of the infectious agents that we deal with all the time, and we’re able to step back and say, okay, the emergency powers, the emergency situation of this has ended. It doesn’t mean that we don’t need to continue to provide for people what they need to stay safe, to stay healthy, but the way that’s done becomes part of how we handle all the other infections that we face every day.
RADDATZ: And, Rich, you talk about things we need to learn, things we need to look at, and I’m thinking about long COVID. Twenty-three million Americans are still suffering, as many as 23 million Americans.
What progress has been made in understanding that? And what do we about it in terms of treatment?
BESSER: Yeah. You know, with any new infectious agent, what we -- what we don’t know far exceeds what we -- what we do know. And what we’re seeing with – with this infection, like quite a number of other infections, is that some people respond differently. And here, there are millions of people in our country who has symptoms that – that don’t go away right after the infection.
Most people, thankfully, after they have COVID, they recover fully and get back to their lives. But there are millions of people whose symptoms continue, people who – who are unable to have the energy to go work or to exercise, people who continue to have difficulty breathing.
There’s a billion dollars in – in – in resources at – at the National Institutes of Health that are studying that, trying to understand, what are some of the triggers for this? What are the causes? Is it an immune reaction? Is it a direct effect from the infection itself? And – and, most importantly, what can be done to help people recover from this?
So, there are drug trials underway. There are other approaches that are being taken to this. And hopefully, the scientific community, the medical community will be able to help all these people who have symptoms that have persisted get back to their normal lives.
RADDATZ: And – and, Dr. Besser, how prepared for -- are we for any future pandemics, any future virus?
BESSER: Yeah. You know, this is -- this is one of my biggest concerns, Martha, that -- that – that we’re not going to learn. You know, I led preparedness and response at the CDC for four years. And what we -- you tend to see after any major public health crisis is fatigue. And so, our legislators, instead of enacting what needs to take place so that we’re in better shape, spend most of their time figuring out who they want to blame for things that didn’t go well. And there’s a lot of room for blame to go around.
But here, there’s a number of things that need to change. We learned during the pandemic that if you give everyone health insurance they do better. And now as the public health emergency is ending, a lot of people who had health insurance are seeing that go away. A lot of people who had extra money for food are seeing that go away. A lot of people who had free access to COVID testing are seeing that go away.
These are things that we need to change if we want to do better.
RADDATZ: Well, thanks for that -- that wisdom this morning, Dr. Besser. Always great to see you.
We’ll be right back.
RADDATZ: And that's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT," and have a great day.
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