On this "Face the Nation" broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan:
- Sen. Rick Scott, Republican of Florida
- Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former FDA commissioner
- Mary Daly, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
- Rep. Gregory Meeks, Democrat of New York
- Taiwanese Rep. to the U.S. Bi-khim Hsiao
- Rep. Peter Meijer, Republican of Michigan
Clickto browse full transcripts of "Face the Nation."
MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm Margaret Brennan in Washington.
And this week on Face the Nation, finally, some good news for President Biden and the Democrats on the economic front. But will it be enough to help them in the November midterm elections?
Finally freed from COVID isolation, President Biden's last week has been filled with surprises, including a July jobs report with double the number of expected jobs. Unemployment is now at a half-century low, equal to what it was pre-pandemic.
And the smile on his face this morning, at long last, there is unity among Senate Democrats when it comes to supporting a long-stalled bill designed to help fight climate change, cut health care costs, and raise taxes on corporations.
But there are more challenges ahead for Mr. Biden, including a national public health crisis with rapidly spreading monkeypox cases and new backlash from the Chinese following Speaker Pelosi's trip to Taiwan.
Finally, campaign '22 is shaping up as a highly unusual one. We will look at the Trump impact that's influencing Republican primary candidates and the tactics Democrats are using to try and defeat them.
It's all just ahead on Face the Nation.
Good morning, and welcome to Face the Nation.
As we come on the air, the Senate is poised to make the biggest investment to fight global warming in history, with the hopes of reducing carbon emissions 40 percent by 2030. This long-stalled bill will now expand credits for the manufacture and purchase of electric vehicles, fund rebates for energy-efficient appliances, allocate money to fight drought in Western states, and help vulnerable communities impacted by climate change.
The bill also cuts health care costs by lowering premiums and extending subsidies. And it caps out-of-pocket Medicare drug costs for seniors at $2,000 a year.
To pay for all of that spending, the bill calls for a 15 percent corporate minimum tax on companies that book income of more than a billion dollars a year and will provide money for the IRS to crack down on tax enforcement.
With the Senate split 50/50 between the parties, Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to break the tie, which would give Democrats a much- needed boost headed in to the November midterm elections.
And we go now to Capitol Hill and Florida Senator Rick Scott, who is in between votes on the Senate floor. He's also the head of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee working to retake control of the Senate.
Senator Scott, good morning.
I know you have been up all night, so I appreciate you joining me this morning.
SENATOR RICK SCOTT (R-Florida): I hope I'm -- I hope I'm coherent.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I -- no matter what, it does not look like there is any way to stop what is expected to be a very big win here for Democrats.
And I know you're opposed to it, but I want to press you on that, because isn't expanding Medicare access good for a state like yours, which has more residents reliant on the Affordable Care Act than any other state? And Republicans like reducing the deficit. The CBO says this will reduce it for -- by $100 billion over the next decade.
Isn't there some good stuff in here for you too?
SENATOR RICK SCOTT: So, Margaret, here's the way I look at it.
Right now, this bill actually ought to be called the war on seniors act. I mean, this is a war on Medicare. If you look at this, this is a $280 billion cut in Medicare. So, what's going to happen is, Medicare is going to get caught, and there's going to be seniors that don't get lifesaving drugs because the pharmaceutical industry will not be able to have to -- will be...
MARGARET BRENNAN: Reducing Medicare cost is not the same as reducing benefits though. You know that.
SENATOR RICK SCOTT: Margaret, it's $280 billion that would have been spent. It was anticipated to be spent. It's not going to be spent now.
And the drug companies that would be doing more research are not going to be able to spend the money on research. There will be lifesaving drugs that seniors will not get.
On top of that, I mean, they're going to raise taxes by over $700 billion. And let's remember, companies don't end up paying the taxes. Shareholders pay the taxes. Lower income for the employees paid the taxes. Less investment pays the taxes.
So, this $700 billion is actually going to hurt the economy. And then, while gas prices are $2 more than they were when Joe Biden took office, there's an excise tax on gas. So, why would you -- you know, we're in a recession. Why would you be increasing the cost of government, increasing taxes?
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget called your claim there that you just reiterated in terms of Medicare spending completely misleading.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that just about 1 percent of new drugs would be affected by the changes there on drug development. So, how do you respond to that?
SENATOR RICK SCOTT: Margaret, 1 percent. Wait a minute. Wait a minute.
What -- it's your grandmother is not 1 percent important? If there's, if -- if it impacts -- if it impacts a life-saving drug that we could do now, we shouldn't be -- we shouldn't be cutting Medicare like this. I don't believe it.
And, by the way, we shouldn't be raising taxes ever, but especially in a recession, and why would we be raising the taxes on gas right now when it's $2 above what it was when Joe Biden took office?
This is going to continue to drive us into a further -- a bigger recession than we are. Look at where we are right now. Labor participation rate's low, wages not saying with inflation, two-quarters of negative GDP.
I mean, we -- this is -- Joe Biden has pushed us and these plans are pushing us into a recession. So, I think we've got to -- we have got to stop raising taxes. We have got to make it easier for businesses to build their businesses, compete, and we'll get more jobs.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.
Well, you know we just had that stellar July jobs number. But we're going to dig into the specifics of that ahead with economist Mary Daly.
Let me talk to you about the politics of all of this. Republicans had been hoping to ride the high inflation we are at -- and it is a historic high -- and President Biden's low approval ratings to a win in November.
But the president and Democrats just had a really good streak here. Gas prices are down. You have this massive spending bill going through. These are a lot of big wins for Democrats. The president just authorized that strike to take out the leader of al Qaeda.
Isn't this going to get harder for Republicans to get the edge that you are trying to manufacture here?
SENATOR RICK SCOTT: Well, that sounds good, right?
But that's -- that's White House talking points. But let's think about this; 72 percent of Americans believe we're headed in the wrong track. Biden's numbers are in the tank. And if you look at all the Democrats -- all the Democrats running, and they have to -- basically, they're a surrogate for Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer.
I mean, they have to defend inflation, high gas prices, the Afghan withdrawal, an open border, Critical Race Theory, defund the police. That's what they have to defend, because that's what the -- that's what -- that's what Biden is known for, and that's what -- that's basically what Democrats are known for.
Now, it's going to be -- look, it's an election year. It's going to be a hard year. We have 21 Republicans up, only 14 Democrats. The Democrats are outraising us. But we have good candidates. And I believe Joe Biden is going to be our key here.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You said it'll be a hard year.
I want to play for you what Republican Leader Mitch McConnell told FOX last week.
SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R-Kentucky): I think it's going to be a very tight -- we have a 50/50 Senate now. We have a 50/50 nation. And I think, when the Senate race smoke clears, we're likely to have a very, very close Senate still, with either us up slightly or the Democrats up slightly.
MARGARET BRENNAN: If things are so bad, then why is it going to be so tight for Republicans?
SENATOR RICK SCOTT: Well, first of all, we have -- we have very good candidates.
I mean, the Democrats are raising good money. So we've got to be able to get our message out. So, you know, we -- we have to raise our money. We have to work, work hard. We went through a lot of primaries, so -- but I believe we're going to -- I believe we're going to win.
But it's going to be -- it's going to be hard. We have got to raise our money. We got to work really hard, or candidates have to work really hard. Everybody is going to help our candidates. But I'm optimistic.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So -- but you do agree it's going to be tight, that Republicans have at best a slight edge?
SENATOR RICK SCOTT: I'm very optimistic.
I would -- but I -- but I'm -- I'm realistic that you have to raise your money. Democrats are raising good money. Joe Biden is our key here. And, by the way, this bill is not going to help Democrats. It's going to help Republicans, raising taxes $700 billion, cutting Medicare $280 billion, raising gas taxes, having 87,000 more IRS agents.
Do you know how much -- how happy people are to have more IRS agents out there? I mean, this is not -- this is not going to be popular around the country.
MARGARET BRENNAN: In a local radio interview in July, you talked a lot about your business as an executive, and you said: "We should start electing people that we would hire."
In Georgia, Herschel Walker, Republican Senate candidate, has lied about the number of children he has, about his business dealings. His ex-wife said he held a gun to her head and said: "I'm going to blow your effing brains out."
In Arizona, the candidate Blake Masters called the Unabomber an underrated thinker. He said that al Qaeda doesn't actually pose substantial threat to Americans.
I mean, I have got a list of candidates here who've had some and said some pretty troubling things. Would you hire these people to work for you?
SENATOR RICK SCOTT: Well, you'd go through each person, and -- but I'm not the one doing it. It's the voters of those states who are doing it. The voters of those states are going to make a choice, do they want...
MARGARET BRENNAN: You're trying to help Senate Republicans and lead them to victory. These are your candidates.
SENATOR RICK SCOTT: So, you know, Margaret, as you remember, the voters in Arizona choose who they're going to -- they're going to vote.
And what they're going to choose is, they're going to choose between Blake Masters and Mark Kelly. Mark Kelly has voted to keep the border open. He has never voted for border security. He's voted for the tax increases. He's voted for cutting Medicare.
You know, he's -- he's voted with Chuck Schumer and with Joe Biden basically 100 percent of time. Warnock has got the same problem. This election is going to be about Joe Biden. And so this election is going to be about all the bad things that have happened, this -- the fact that we're going into recession, the fact that inflation is at 9 percent, the fact that gas prices are up $2, all these things, that's what people are looking at.
They're -- they're at home and saying, this is not...
MARGARET BRENNAN: But these are -- these are your Senate Republican candidates. These are your candidates.
Would you hire them?
SENATOR RICK SCOTT: And the voters of these states -- the voters of these states are going to decide if they're going to hire.
Now, I get to vote -- I get to vote in Florida. And that's how I think about it. But the voters in those states would choose in those states who they want.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
SENATOR RICK SCOTT: And it's a choice between two people. But they're -- look, the Biden -- all the -- all the Democrat nominees are basically President Biden clones.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
SENATOR RICK SCOTT: And, by the way, they won't campaign with Biden.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But, if you are -- I mean, you would acknowledge, you would acknowledge...
SENATOR RICK SCOTT: None of them -- Margaret, wait a minute. None of them are asking Biden to come down.
MARGARET BRENNAN: ... that if somebody went in for an interview for a private corporation, these things would come up as red flags to H.R.?
So, it's just...
SENATOR RICK SCOTT: Margaret, Biden is not campaigning with anybody because he is -- he is -- he's toxic. That's how the voters think.
That's why they say -- 72 percent of Americans say the economy is on the wrong track. When that happens, people say, I'm going to take a serious look at somebody else, right?
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
SENATOR RICK SCOTT: And our candidates have to go tell them what they're going to do. And we're going to make sure that everybody knows exactly who are -- who the Democrats are.
That's what -- that's what's going to happen all across the country. And we're going to have races, and we'll see what happens.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you advising all of your candidates in these races to accept the outcome of their elections, since so many of them are questioning still the outcome of the 2020 race?
SENATOR RICK SCOTT: Well, Margaret, let's remember, that's exactly what happened to me with Bill Nelson and Marc Elias. They didn't accept the outcome of the election, and they tried to illegally cast -- count ballots after election day after I won by 57,000 votes.
So, election security is very important to me. And I want to make sure we make sure we do everything we can to make sure people know that the election is fair. We're already putting together teams, which I had to do in Florida in, in '18, teams of lawyers and volunteers, to make sure these elections are fair.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you accept the elections are -- you know, that the integrity of these races that all your candidates are in? Or you're only going to have a problem with them if they lose?
SENATOR RICK SCOTT: Well, I'm -- I -- I want free and fair elections, so I'm going to work my -- work hard to make sure these elections are fair, and then everybody will get to decide at the time.
So, I'm still frustrated with what happened in my race...
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes. Yes.
SENATOR RICK SCOTT: ... when we had -- we spent millions of dollars to make sure we won. And we won election night. And they tried to count illegal ballots after election night. And that's wrong.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Very quickly, before I let you go, do you think that the U.S. military should be deployed to defend Taiwan if Taiwan makes -- China makes a move on it?
SENATOR RICK SCOTT: I think we've got to be very clear that we will defend Taiwan.
We've got to be very clear exactly what's going to happen to China, with exactly what sanctions are -- is going to happen to China if they invade Taiwan. I think all American businesses need to understand that they're at risk right now if they're doing business there.
And I think every American, whenever they see a box that says made in China, they ought to send it back to whoever sent it to them and say, I will never buy another product made in China.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, there's a whole story about inflation there, Senator, but that's for another day.
We got to leave it there. Thank you for your time. And I will let you get back to work there.
Face the Nation will be back in a minute. Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who is also a board member at Pfizer. And he joins us this morning from San Francisco.
Dr. Gottlieb, good to have you back.
You have been on this program warning for some time now that monkeypox was past the point of containment. This week, the Biden administration acknowledged it is a national public health emergency. They added two senior advisers to the White House to run point.
What difference does it make now? Can they catch up?
DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB (Former FDA Commissioner): Well, look, I think they can still catch up.
I think there's a potential to get this back in the box, but it's going to be very difficult at this point. We're continuing to look for cases in the community of men who have sex with men. It's primarily spreading in that community.
But there's no question that it's spread outside that community at this point. And I think we need to start looking for cases more broadly. We're looking for cases in that community, so we're finding them there. But we need to start looking for cases in the broader community.
And that means probably testing anyone who presents with an atypical case of shingles or an atypical case of herpes for monkeypox as well. I think we need to broaden testing. And, so far, CDC has been reluctant to make that recommendation. I think, if we're going to contain this and make sure that it doesn't spread more broadly in the population, we need to start testing more broadly.
We have the capacity to do it. Right now, CDC has the capacity to conduct about 80,000 tests a week. They're doing about 8,000. So, they can broaden this substantially by changing the case definition and recommending that more doctors be testing more patients, looking for this infection in the community.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, to your point about broader spread, in Illinois, a day care worker tested positive for monkeypox and exposed children.
The FDA are allowing those kids to be vaccinated. Parents about to send their kids back to school, should they be worried about this now?
DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Look, I don't think this is something that people need to be generally worried about.
I think that probably the incidence of this infection in the broader community is still very low. So, your risk of coming into contact with monkeypox is exceedingly low, outside of certain social networks where you see a higher case rate.
But if we want to contain this, if we want to prevent this from becoming an endemic virus, we need to be looking more widely for it. And the worst-case scenario is that we start testing more broadly and we don't find it. And that would be reassuring. But we should be doing that.
We should also be testing wastewater for monkeypox. That's something that CDC can turn on instantly, starting to look for monkeypox in wastewater to see if it's spreading in communities and locations, geographic locations, where right now we don't think it's spreading, but it could be.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We don't know what we don't know.
On vaccines, we know there is a national shortage. There are two doses of this vaccine that are required. HHS and the FDA said on Thursday that they're looking at a dose-sparing approach to stretch out existing supply.
How does that work? What does that mean?
DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Right.
So, this decision could come as early as this week. And the emergency use authorization that they could issue is, it flows from the public health emergency that they declared. So, this would be the first practical effect of that public health emergency.
What they would do is cut the dose by a fifth, so they only give one-fifth of the dose. And instead of injecting it subcutaneously, so below the skin, they'd inject intradermally into the skin, so into the top layer of the skin.
So think about a test that you get, for example, for tuberculosis, where you used to get an injection under the skin and you'd get a small welt as they injected fluid under the skin. That's an intradermal infection.
We know that we inject certain things into the skin in that way. It's very immunogenic. You get a strong immune response. And there's a lot of data that FDA has looked at that was actually collected in the context of trying to prepare for smallpox, a potential outcome with smallpox, where smallpox might be used as a bioterrorist weapon, in how we would extend doses of the smallpox vaccine.
What they learned from those studies is transferable to this vaccine for monkeypox. And so they feel very assured that they can -- they can generate a strong immunological response by delivering this intradermally.
And that would allow them to stretch out the doses of the monkeypox vaccine they have by fivefold. So, instead of having about 800,000 doses, they would have somewhere between four and five million doses immediately.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But this is essentially an experiment in real time.
DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, we've done it before. I mean, we did it for yellow fever. We've done it for Ebola. We've done these dose-sparing strategies in public health emergencies.
It's unfortunate we find ourselves in this position. There's decisions that could have been made earlier where we'd have more doses available. But this is a practical solution to a very immediate public health challenge.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about COVID now.
President Biden has tested negative twice now. He's out of isolation. Pfizer makes Paxlovid, the drug that the president took. I know you're on the board of Pfizer, as we say. The White House says just 5 to 10 percent of cases have these rebounds.
But this is a pretty high-profile case. Dr. Fauci had a rebound too. Does this indicate anything about how someone fares long term from COVID? How do we understand this?
DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Yes.
Well, look, the good news is that the president's feeling well. My understanding is that he didn't experience any new symptoms during this second bout of infectivity. So, he was testing positive, but didn't in fact mount new symptoms. And that's a good sign.
I don't think that he's going to have any long-term implications because he had this second course of illness from COVID. We don't know, but I think the president's going to do quite well, given what we know about his case.
And the White House has been very transparent. You are seeing these cases of rebound. You're right. So far, the data seems to suggest it's about 5 percent of cases. You also see rebound with the other drugs. And you see it in the setting of natural infection.
It's being studied. Pfizer right now, which, as you mentioned, I'm on the board of, is talking to FDA about doing some additional studies on how to approach these cases, whether or not you recourse the therapy or extend the dose, the length of treatment in certain patients.
So we don't know how to approach this fully right now.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB: But it's a small percentage of cases where you're seeing this phenomena.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
Quickly. CDC is expected to loosen COVID guidelines for schools. Do you favor this?
DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Look, I think it reflects the reality that more kids are -- have been exposed to this virus, they're not immunologically naive - - we want to do more to keep kids in the classroom -- and changing attitudes about COVID.
I think there are still ways we can keep kids safe in the classrooms, remain vigilant, and lift some of these restrictions that have caused a lot of kids to have to miss school days. So, the test-to-stay strategies, where you have turned over a lot of infections that were asymptomatic and forced kids out of the classroom, quarantining kids who are exposed to COVID, I think they can lift those things at this point.
And that seems to be where CDC is heading, but still remain vigilant, for example, notifying parents when there's a close contact..
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB: ... so parents can keep an eye on their children and get them tested.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Dr. Gottlieb, we'll be watching that. Thank you.
We'll be back in a moment. Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to the state of the economy and the president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, Mary Daly.
Good morning to you.
MARY DALY (President and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco): Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The San Francisco Fed said fiscal spending during the entirety of the pandemic, all the congressional funding, contributed 3 percent -- a 3 percent hike in inflation.
Do you expect the congressional bill that's about to pass to add to inflation as well?
MARY DALY: Well, let's remember that, during the time that there was this fiscal relief during the pandemic, there was also monetary policy relief. And those were things necessary to get us through the pandemic.
So that's why that was such an important component. And history will be the judge whether it was too much or too little. But, right now, that's where that was. And my staff have evaluated that.
When I look forward, there are so many things going on in the economy right now, both domestically and globally. And we are struggling with high inflation. But the Fed is committed to bringing that down. And we're looking at not only things that Congress passes, but also what happens across the entire world.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, do you think this bill will add to inflation? Has inflation peaked? Can you say that?
MARY DALY: You know, I really can't comment on pending legislation.
And it's really hard to tell, because all the details haven't been worked out yet, and -- or the time frame in which those things will take place.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
MARY DALY: So, right now, I think the most important thing, Margaret, is that inflation is too high, and the labor market is strong. The global economy is struggling with ongoing high inflation. And that's what I'm focused on.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You are a labor economist.
We had this surprisingly strong jobs number on Friday. Why was it so surprising? What was it that economists missed here? What was your takeaway?
MARY DALY: You know, it's super interesting.
You know, it did surprise everyone who tries to figure out exactly what the number will be. And we were -- you know, a number of projections were well off. But, frankly, if you're out in the communities, if you're traveling anywhere, you're just going in your own community, I don't think consumers or workers or businesses were that surprised.
There's help wanted signs all over the place. People can find multiple jobs if they want them. Search times for jobs aren't that long. So I think the labor market is continuing to deliver. It just tells me that people want to work and that people want to hire.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But...
MARY DALY: The universal truth is that inflation's too high.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But does it still -- or does it indicate that recession is not where we are or where we're going?
MARY DALY: If you're out in the economy, you don't feel like you're in a recession. That's the bottom line.
The most important risk out there is inflation.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.
MARY DALY: And I think the job market just confirms that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.
We're going to take a break and come right back with you.
Mary Daly, stay with us. We have more questions.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be right back a lot more Face the Nation, including more with Mary Daly.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION.
We continue our conversation now with the head of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, Mary Daly.
In that jobs number on Friday, we also saw that wages rose, but they're not rising as quickly as inflation is.
How concerned are you that that shows inflation is really becoming embedded in the economy in a way that is really going to force your - your colleagues at the Fed to continue to have to hike rates?
MARY DALY: You know, I don't see inflation as embedded in the economy. The kinds of things that we would worry about just not being able to correct easily.
What I see is supply and demand are just unbalanced. About 50 percent, by my own staff's estimates, of the excess inflation we see is related to demand. The other 50 percent is supply.
The Fed is really well-positioned to bring demand down. And we already see the cooling forming in the housing market, in investments. So, I do see signs that the economy's cooling. It just is going to take some time for the interest rate adjustments we've made to work their way through.
And we are far from done yet. That's the promise to the American people. We are far from done. We're committed to bringing inflation down. And we'll continue to work until that job is fully done.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So it would still be appropriate to raise rates in September by half a percent?
MARY DALY: Absolutely. And, you know, we need to be data dependent. It could -- we need to leave our minds open. We have two more inflation reports coming out. Another jobs report. We continue to collect all the information from the contacts we talk to, to see how this is working its way through the economy.
But you mentioned, you know, wage growth a little bit above 5 percent. Inflation, last print, at 9.1 percent. Americans are losing ground every day, so the focus has to be on bringing inflation down.
MARGARET BRENNAN: One of the things the Fed can't control is geopolitical risk. How concerned are you about what is happening in the Taiwan Strait right now?
MARY DALY: Well, there's so much going on globally. And I think that's really something that we need to think about. It's just getting through Covid, making sure the new variants don't derail economic activity. We have central banks across the globe raising interest rates to try to bridle their own inflation. And we have ongoing developments that take place, you know, geopolitically or just more generally among countries. And all of those things, the war in Ukraine, all of those things create headwinds, if you will, for the U.S. economy. And we're going to have to lean against those headwinds for growth while we bridle inflation.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The Fed has its work cut out. And I know we'll be talking again.
Thank you very much, Mary Daly.
MARY DALY: Thank you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: China launched its most dramatic show of military force in decades with four days of war games off the coast of Taiwan. All in response to Speaker Pelosi leading a congressional delegation to the self- governed island last week.
Congressman Gregory Meeks, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was on that trip.
REPRESENTATIVE GREGORY MEEKS (D-New York): Good morning. Good to be with you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you have been globe-trotting. But I imagine you'll soon be back in Washington to vote on this big spending bill. It is a big win, potentially, but it's a tenth of the size of the president's original ask.
Is what's about to pass and this reduction in gas prices enough to help Democrats win in November?
REPRESENTATIVE GREGORY MEEKS: There's no question this is a big and important bill. It reduces inflation. It makes sure that we can now reduce drug prices. It helps with fighting climate change. And we will be moving forward. That goes on top of wins already made in a bipartisan manner during this Congress, like bipartisan wins in infrastructure, gun control, chips and science act, PACT Act for the veterans, the select committee, the first black woman elected -- appointed to the Supreme Court.
So, yes, this is an icing on the cake of moving forward, of Democratic achievements in a bipartisan way in this election year.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But despite all of what you just laid out, I know you know that many polls, including those from CBS, project that Republicans will win the majority in the House.
Can you reverse that?
REPRESENTATIVE GREGORY MEEKS: Oh, absolutely. I think that the conversations as we're interesting the crucial months of September and October.
Look, we had an all-time low unemployment rate. And we see a court that is regressive and trying to take away a woman's right to choose. We're fighting and standing for that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: To your trip to Taiwan. We have seen these dramatic Chinese war games in response to this visit. China cut off some of the diplomatic ties with the United States to protest the fact that you went there to Taipei with Speaker Pelosi.
Did this trip backfire by undermining some of the Biden administration priorities?
REPRESENTATIVE GREGORY MEEKS: Not at all. You know, clearly the Biden administration, by his presence there, and by increasing economic ties there, is something that shows that the region is very important. And President Biden understands, being a prior member of the Senate, you know, the difference between the executive branch and the legislative branch. And so what we have to do at this time, because there's very clearly -- it's very clearly a tense moment in the Taiwan Strait, and that's why it's very important that all sides respect the status quo, which we did when we were there, and don't resort to force or to change things, and it's just as important that the United States redouble our economic, cultural, and security cooperation with Taiwan in the face of Beijing's aggression.
So, this was a very appropriate trip at the time for the region. And I think that when we talked to the Taiwanese, they were appreciative of us being there. You should have seen, over 250,000 Taiwanese tracked our flight flying in. On the largest building in Taiwan, big signs saying, "we love you, Nancy Pelosi." People lining the streets when we were driving to our hotel. So, clearly, the Taiwanese were very happy.
MARGARET BRENNAN: No doubt.
REPRESENTATIVE GREGORY MEEKS: And let me tell you, we were -- all of our allies, all of our partners and friends in the region, and the other nations that we visited, was very happy that we were there. And I think that's very --
MARGARET BRENNAN: But Beijing was furious. Beijing was furious. They cut off climate change talks with the United States. They've cut other cooperation. And, in fact, Beijing said this is the one issue that the U.S. and China, the two most powerful countries in the world, could come into conflict with. Beijing said a visit by the third highest ranking official in the U.S. government on a military aircraft was provocative and sends a strong signal the U.S. is on Taiwan's side.
Is the U.S. on Taiwan's side?
REPRESENTATIVE GREGORY MEEKS: We did not thing that was -- if you look at provocative, the ones that were sending missiles over Taiwan and China encircled the island was in fact Beijing. This was nothing unusual. Members of Congress this year have traveled to Taiwan previously.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
REPRESENTATIVE GREGORY MEEKS: I've traveled to Taiwan a number of times. I've traveled to China. But we're not going to allow -- and Speaker Pelosi is absolutely right about this -- that to have President Xi dictate to us where we should or should not go. We are going to stand by our friends, our partners, and our allies. And, clearly, Taiwan is one of those. And so the -- being provocative is not us, it's the Beijing government and we're just not going to allow that to happen.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But in terms of this policy, for decades it's been one of strategic ambiguity. The U.S. sells arms to Taiwan but doesn't promise to actually defend it.
Do you need to change that? Does Congress need to prepare for a Chinese invasion of Taiwan?
REPRESENTATIVE GREGORY MEEKS: Look, what we have done, and I think that what we have showed we will do, is to give -- and we have given in that policy defensive weapons to Taiwan. Ultimately, this should be decided by people sitting down, and not China, and not Beijing, and not Xi, continue his provocative actions. It is his provocative actions that is trying to change the status quo.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
REPRESENTATIVE GREGORY MEEKS: What we need at this time is the status quo to remain as is. And that is the best way to reduce tensions, not the provocations that are being put on by Beijing.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman Meeks, thank you for your time this morning.
We'll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: On Friday I sat down with Taiwan's representative to the U.S., Hsiao Bi-Khim, for the "CBS EVENING NEWS." Here is more of our interview.
MARGARET BRENNAN: President Biden indicated the military wasn't enthusiastic about Speaker Pelosi visiting. Xi spoke openly about the risk of her plane being shot down. Did Taiwan ever have that level of concern that there was a risk here?
HSIAO BI-KHIM (Taiwan's Representative to the United States): We have been living under the threat from China for decades. And we cannot let their ongoing threats define our desire to make friends internationally. If you have a kid being bullied at school, you don't say you don't go to school. You try to find a way to deal with the bully. And that's exactly what Taiwan is doing, working on making our society stronger and more resilient, fortifying our defenses so that we have means of managing risks.
The risks are not posed by Taiwan, nor are they posed by the United States. The risks are posed by Beijing.
MARGARET BRENNAN: What specifically is that risk? Is it a full-scale invasion?
HSIAO BI-KHIM: Well, the Chinese have not renounced the use of force. They have been intensifying threats towards Taiwan. That is not only on a military level. It has involved a hybrid toolkit of public disinformation, cyberattacks, economic coercion. They have a broad toolkit that we have become more and more accustomed to.
But, again, that is not going to change our determination to defend our freedom.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But what's happening right now is unprecedented. Beijing has sent 68 war planes, 13 warships right off your coast. Do you believe that this is just a drill?
HSIAO BI-KHIM: Well, indeed, China's behavior is unprecedented. And from the scope and the actions, it appears that they have been preparing for this for some time, way before Speaker Pelosi decided to visit Taiwan.
MARGARET BRENNAN: China is seemingly showing that it can blockade Taiwan, that it can cut you off from the rest of the world. What is the cost of doing something like that?
HSIAO BI-KHIM: Well, China has been building up their military capacities rapidly over recent years. And what they are doing through these exercises has the potential of jeopardizing some of the most important air and sea commercial routes. I believe they will also jeopardize China's interest in a stable environment under which trade and commerce can function. Such risky and dangerous behavior has implications for the world.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you have any assurances from the Biden White House that they would defend you, not just sell you weapons, as presidents have for the past 40 years, but actually come to your defense?
HSIAO BI-KHIM: We have a very strong security partnership that ensures the protection of our hared interest in the regional peace and stability.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you believe the timeline for an invasion is moving up. The criticism of what Speaker Pelosi did by visiting is that she is provoking China.
HSIAO BI-KHIM: Well, I think the word "provocation" has only one place, and that's with China right now. They are the ones that are provoking regional instability.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you do not think that this was a mistake and that this visit has backfired?
HSIAO BI-KHIM: Well, the visit has been welcomed by the Taiwanese people. Sometimes it's hard for other countries from afar to fully understand the feelings and perspectives of the Taiwanese people. And that is, for too long, you know, we have been bullied, isolated, and suppressed and banned from international organizations. So, when friends come from afar and wish to lend their support to Taiwan, we generally take that with gratitude.
MARGARET BRENNAN: When you talk to Biden administration officials, they will say Xi Jinping, the president of China, is taking notes. He is watching what Vladimir Putin is doing right now in Ukraine as a test case to see what he can get away with in Taiwan. What lesson do you think he's learning right now?
HSIAO BI-KHIM: I think we are all learning lessons. And the Taiwanese people are also learning lessons. And we are learning that we have to be better prepared. We have to be stronger in our own self defenses. We have to work hard to galvanize international support in working to deter that tragic scenario from ever happening.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you concerned that the west won't stand by Taiwan the way it has stood by Ukraine? China is financially so powerful. It would be hard for the west to cut it off.
HSIAO BI-KHIM: Well, I think that was one of the messages that Speaker Pelosi was trying to convey. And that is, you know, despite all challenges, we have friends in the international community who will stand with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And, lastly, China has also flexed its diplomatic muscles. It cut off a number of agreements, it says, with the United States because of this visit, including collaboration on climate change. Are you concerned that the west will look at this and say, it's not worth it? Not just on climate change but on other priorities that outrank Taiwan.
HSIAO BI-KHIM: Well, are we concerned, yes, we are concerned about the disruption of these very important discussions on global issues that are matters of interest to not only the United States but to China and everyone in the world. But the fact is, again, visits, congressional visits to Taiwan have been ongoing for decades. And for decades it hasn't prevented the United States and China from having constructive discussions on matters of mutual interest.
And I agree with, you know, some of the U.S., White House and other statements and the analyses that, you know, the Beijing government is currently trying to manufacture a crisis over a practice that has been ongoing for decades. And they are using this as a pretext. And I think we have to make that clear. If China is to evolve as a responsible stakeholder in the global community, it's really up to Beijing to decide if their rejuvenation, if China's rejuvenation will evolve with international respect or with international condemnation.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Our full conversation is on our website and YouTube channel.
We'll be back in a moment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Michigan Congressman Peter Meijer is one of ten House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Trump following the attack on the Capitol. Last Tuesday he lost his primary race against a Trump-endorsed challenger. Congressman Meijer is with us this morning from Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Good morning to you, Congressman.
The person who won that primary is an election denier named John Gibbs, and he is backed by former President Trump.
Why do you think Michigan Republicans favored him?
REP. PETER MEIJER (R-Michigan): Well, good morning, Margaret.
And as you said, I lost my primary and that is on me. I take responsibility for that.
But it's important to note that it wasn't just former President Trump who was in this race. There was about a half million dollars that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, in their first expenditures of the 2022 midterms, dumped in to help boost him.
So, we had a scenario where not only did I have the former president aligned against me, but in a rare showing of bipartisan unity, Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic Campaign Committee also united to try to knock me off the ballot.
Now, this just highlights the cynicism and hypocrisy of our politics today. And, frankly, it will be unknowable what that ultimate impact was. But the fact that we have the establishment left and the extreme right locking arms in common cause paints a very telling picture of where our politics are in 2022.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. What you're talking about there is an ad that the Democratic congressional committee campaign spent, $325,000 on to boost Mr. Gibbs, which was almost as much as Gibbs spent on his entire campaign. That's what you're referring to. That's what our viewers are looking at right there.
But do you think that ad really made a difference? I mean Democrats aren't voting in this primary, it's Republicans. Why did Michigan Republicans fall for this ad?
PETER MEIJER: Well, you know, I think there is a clear question of agency here, of course. And at the end of the day, Republican voters are going to cast their votes as they see fit.
I should note that this add was not aimed at -- was not playing on MSNBC. It was not playing in places where Democratic voters might see it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
PETER MEIJER: It was targeted in places to try to sway and convince Republican primary voters to try to give my primary challenger a boost up and over. And I should add that my defeat was by roughly 3 percent. Out of over 100,000 votes cast, we lost by less than 4,000 votes. And I think that's important to remember when you have very close elections like this, and obviously competing against very strong headwinds, having a Trump- endorsed challenger, and a party where President Trump still holds over 75 percent approval, that a message of focusing on the substance of what I've been able to accomplish in office, I'm proud that our office is on track to set a record for the most number of bills signed into law by a freshman, that those type of accomplishments get lost in our current personality politics, get lost in a broader sense. And I think that is one of the fundamental challenges that we have as a country, and that is frankly frustrating Michigan families that we are dealing with the politics that does not reward substance, that does not reward, you know, reality, but that focuses on rhetoric and personality above all else.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But does that mean -- do you think Democrats are going to get what they paid for here, right? I mean they're betting that it would be easier to defeat Mr. Gibbs than you. Is your district going to go to a Democrat?
PETER MEIJER: Yes, it's important to note, this is a district that President Biden won in 2020 by roughly 9 points. I was one of five Republicans running for re-election in seats where the - where President Biden won in the 2020 elections by eight or more points. And so while I think there is certainly a cynical calculus at play with the Democrats' meddling, this is a risky strategy, it's a dangerous strategy. Where President Biden is in his approval is so in the gutter that it is hard to see that strategy -
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
PETER MEIJER: It is easy to see that strategy backfiring in a spectacular way, which is all the more reason why we should not be embracing this zero sum idea of politics. We should not be embracing this notion that if we can keep a problem alive, keep it festering, but be able to gain a marginal advantage in the process, that that that somehow equates to a victory.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
PETER MEIJER: I think it's a dark and cynical way of viewing our politics that, frankly, 48 percent of the electorate in the primary here rejected. That they stood against that cynicism. That They were focused on somebody who is working to deliver results.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
Your Republican colleague, Liz Cheney, is about to face a primary August the 16th in her state. Former Vice President Dick Cheney, her father, released this video.
DICK CHENEY, (Former U.S. Vice President and Rep. Liz Cheney's Father): In our nation's 246-year history there has never been an individual who was a greater threat to our republic than Donald Trump. He tried to steal the last election using lies and violence to keep himself in power after the voters had rejected him. He is a coward. A real man wouldn't lie to his supporters. He lost his election and he lost big. I know it, he knows it, and deep down, I think most Republicans know it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Is Mr. Cheney right there? Because 57 percent of Republicans told CBS News they're more likely to vote for a candidate who gets an endorsement from the former president. Is the former president the leader of the Republican Party or the biggest threat to our nation's republic?
PETER MEIJER: Well, I certainly think that, you know, President Trump wants to keep those numbers up. He wants that degree of influence. And I mentioned earlier, the common cause between the extremes on the right and the establishment left, you know, Nancy Pelosi, I think she's waking up every day crossing her fingers that Donald Trump runs in 2024, that he announces well ahead of the midterms because right now the midterms are set to be a referendum on President Biden's leadership.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
PETER MEIJER: And Speaker Pelosi and many of my House Democratic colleagues do not want that. They want it to be a referendum on former President Trump.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
PETER MEIJER: And I think former President Trump wants that as well.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we will be watching that primary.
And, Congressman, thank you for joining us today.
We'll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Thanks for watching. We'll see you next week.
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