On this "Face the Nation" broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan:
- Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services
- Rep. Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker
- Gary Cohn, Former Director of the National Economic Council
- Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Former FDA Commissioner
- Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America
Click here to browse full transcripts of "Face the Nation."
MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm Margaret Brennan in Washington. And this week on FACE THE NATION, as America continues to come out of its quarantine, the economic downturn continues to take its toll, hitting those who can least afford it the hardest. Despite a prediction from the CDC that by month's end, the death toll in the U.S. will likely exceed one hundred thousand, President Trump continues to put a sunshine and rainbow spin on the pandemic.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It will go away. It may flare up and it may not flare up.
We have met the moment and we have prevailed.
SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: What planet is he on? More than thirty million unemployed and we have prevailed? 1.3 million infected, eighty thousand American fatalities.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The President is increasingly anxious to get the economy back on track.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Vaccine or no vaccine, we're back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And now vows to have a vaccine by the end of the year. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says that's just what the economy needs.
JEROME POWELL: For the economy to be fully recover, people will have to be fully confident and that-- that may have to await the arrival of-- of-- of a vaccine.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll have a preview of Scott Pelley's 60 MINUTES interview. And we'll ask Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar if having millions of Americans vaccinated by year's end is realistic. Former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb will also weigh in. The House passes a three-trillion-dollar bill full of pandemic relief, but Senate Republicans say it's dead on arrival. We'll talk with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Former White House economic advisor Gary Cohn will also join us. And we'll take a look at the skyrocketing number of Americans who need help feeding their families.
All that, and more, is just ahead on FACE THE NATION.
Good morning. And welcome to FACE THE NATION. By the end of today, forty-eight states will have reopened businesses or loosened stay-at-home orders in some form. Yet, none of them have met the federal guidelines of having had two weeks of a declining number of cases. At this point, it's hard to know what the impact is yet of the reopenings, either on the number of cases or on the economy. CBS News national correspondent Mark Strassmann reports from Atlanta. Mark.
MARK STRASSMANN (CBS News National Correspondent): Good morning, Margaret. Georgia is one of forty-eight states to reopen this weekend, every state but Massachusetts and Connecticut. There is no question that raises the viral risk, but every governor faces competing pressures.
MARK STRASSMANN: This weekend a reopening America included beaches and parks, whether it's smart, whether it's safe, is your judgment call. This Northern California restaurant defied a county order to shelter in place.
JEFFREY LETOWT: I've had it. So has-- have all my costumers, so has the state of California. Let's open up.
MARK STRASSMANN: Crowded as it was, virtually no one wore face masks.
CHIP WHITTPENN: All the people in there, sitting next to each other. I mean I don't know what they're thinking.
MARK STRASSMANN: They are thinking the economy keeps taking casualties. Thirty-six million workers filed for unemployment in the last two months. Since the crisis began, more than one hundred thousand small businesses have shuttered for good. They're also thinking in the last two weeks America's new COVID cases have declined. But reopening renews worries about a resurgence.
ANDREW CUOMO: How you act will determine what happens to you, literally.
MARK STRASSMANN: Behavior is the wildcard.
MAN: Just because everybody's doing it, it doesn't make it legal.
MARK STRASSMANN: Like this scuffle in San Antonio. Store employees confronted a customer who refused to wear a face mask. Texas reported its highest one-day total of cases Saturday with more businesses set to reopen tomorrow. Health experts still don't know how far the virus has spread. Only three percent of Americans have been tested. Those experts credit the drop in new cases to physical distancing, stay-at-home orders, and face masks. And they shutter imagining a reopened America looking like this crowded park in San Francisco.
MARK STRASSMANN: Reopening safely takes discipline. This weekend will show whether people have it, whether they respect the viral threat by following all the safety rules, with Memorial Day weekend just ahead. Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mark Strassmann, thanks.
We go now to London and CBS News senior foreign correspondent Elizabeth Palmer.
ELIZABETH PALMER (CBS News Senior Foreign Correspondent/@elizapalmer): Margaret, all over the world the dilemma is the same: How and how fast to lift the lockdown, certainly in countries where the infection rate is declining, but also in some where it's still climbing, like Russia.
ELIZABETH PALMER: Moscow was doused in disinfectant as President Putin announced he is planning to ease restrictions, even though, Russia now has the second fastest infection rate in the world after the U.S. Another epicenter is Brazil, where health workers and grave diggers know this is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.
ELIZABETH PALMER: But in a small victory, Brazil's COVID belittling President Bolsonaro has finally started wearing a mask, sort of.
(Jair Bolsonaro speaking foreign language)
ELIZABETH PALMER: By contrast, in Europe, the number of COVID victims is going down and things are opening up. It's a calculated risk that life can return to normal, or normal-ish, without provoking a fresh coronavirus crisis. Even the largest church in the world, St. Peter's in the Vatican got a final deep cleaning before its reopening tomorrow. The exception is the U.K.
MAN #1: Wait. We protest.
ELIZABETH PALMER: A handful of protesters did demonstrate in London yesterday against the continuing lockdown. But they were outnumbered by the police and the rest of the country, which is opting for continued caution. On the other side of the world, after a parched fifty-three days, pubs reopened in Northern Australia.
MAN #2: It's delicious and it's cold, and it's the first one.
ELIZABETH PALMER: And in Kiev, nurses cared for fifty-one tiny babies, all of them born in the pandemic to surrogates. No one wants borders to reopen more than the babies' future parents, who are desperate to get to Ukraine to pick them up.
ELIZABETH PALMER: And in a reminder of how persistent this virus is, the city of Wuhan, where it originated and which almost managed to stamp it out, is now going to test all eleven million of its inhabitants. It's an attempt to find and isolate people who have no symptoms but are carriers before they can set off a second wave. Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Elizabeth Palmer in London. Thank you.
We want to go now to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. He joins us from HHS. Good morning, Mister Secretary.
ALEX AZAR (Secretary of Health and Human Services/@SecAzar): Good morning, Margaret. Good to be with you again.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Great to have you. Operation Warp Speed, which is what the White House is calling this push to have a vaccine by the end of the year. Three hundred million doses is the promise. Can you be clear here is the pledge that all three hundred and twenty-eight million Americans will be able to get a shot in their arm by the end of the year?
ALEX AZAR: Well, Margaret, let's be clear. That's a goal. And, you know, I-- I-- I think the Gretzky's once said that you fail to achieve a hundred percent of the goals you don't set. And so it's not a pledge. It's a goal of what we're going to mobilize the entire U.S. government and private sector to achieve. What happened is, you know, these drug companies and vaccine makers, they all said it's going to take this amount of time because they're using their traditional approaches. You-- you do phase one, phase two, phase three trials in sequence. Then you do manufacturing. Well, the President said that's not acceptable. So what we're doing is wringing the inefficiency out of the development process to make the development side faster to get to safe and effective vaccines. And at the same time, we're going to scale up commercial-sized manufacturing--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
ALEX AZAR: --and produce hundreds of millions of doses at risk. They may not pan out. They might not prove to be safe and effective. But we'll have it so we could begin administration right away.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You said hundreds of millions of doses. That is not the same thing as saying hundreds of millions of vaccines ready to be administered to the American public. You said this week that the entire American population could receive vaccines by January. That's the goal. Can you--
ALEX AZAR: That's a--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Can you clarify--
ALEX AZAR: That's it-- hundred-- hundreds of millions. We have hundreds of millions of people. So three hundred million is the goal and by January that we would set, whether by one or multiple vaccine candidates to be able to have. Let's-- let's focus our energies--
MARGARET BRENNAN: So is this-- is this--
ALEX AZAR: --on actually getting those vaccines developed at this point.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Absolutely. I just want to set expectations for the American people because, clearly, you're going to have a lot of people wanting this vaccine.
ALEX AZAR: Mm-Hm.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Will it require booster shots? Are you sure two, three hundred million doses is sufficient?
ALEX AZAR: Well, those are great questions, Margaret, and that's actually going to be part of the development programs that you study. Is do-- is it a single shot? Do you have a multiple with a booster or what type of immune response do you get your-- that's why you don't go into battle with just one target here. So, we had a hundred candidates originally. We've narrowed it to fourteen. And we're going to keep narrowing that down to maybe four or five, six, that we really place the big financial bets behind and drive on. And we might actually have multiple vaccines, some appropriate for different populations and different settings as we-- as we see the data get generated here.
MARGARET BRENNAN: President Trump said on Monday, we have prevailed. On that same day, May 11th, all twelve of the different models that the CDC uses projected that there will be over a hundred thousand deaths by June 1st. How can the administration say we've prevailed when you see a death rate climbing like that?
ALEX AZAR: Well, Margaret, as-- as you'll remember, the President clarified that in response to a question that by prevailed, he meant with regard to testing, by building a really novel, comprehensive private public sector diagnostic system here in the United States. He did not mean the disease burden here. And he actually, I think, clarified that you could never speak of prevailing or-- or success when there's even a single death. Every death is tragic. The disease burden here is-- here and across the world has been-- has been horrible. We've worked to minimize that. We believe that our actions to delay and-- and-- and-- and flatten the curve, saved hundreds of thousands of lives that otherwise could have been lost but-- but that's still nothing to revel in, in terms of any loss of life is tragic for the President or for any of us in the public health world. Absolutely.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But-- but given that some of the states are starting to reopen parts of their economy and there's a lag time of sometimes two to three weeks before you see the virus show up, how-- how much of a sense do you have about whether reopening is re-infecting the populace at large?
ALEX AZAR: Well, these will be really important questions, Margaret, for us to study through our comprehensive surveillance system. So that's why a critical part of reopening has been influenza-like illness surveillance and other hospital admission surveillance, as well as syndromic testing of asymptomatic individuals, especially in high-risk communities. And that's actually what's going to be really helpful with this federal system and the approach the President's taking of having each state taking a localized decision. It's going to give us really good data. You know Georgia--
MARGARET BRENNAN: So we don't know what risk of reopening, in-- in other words, just yet but you are going to be monitoring it is what you're saying.
ALEX AZAR: We certainly-- we certainly will be monitoring. But we've seen some initial instances of states like Georgia that have reopened, Florida that's reopening, that we have not seen. But, again, it's still early days. We think the tools are there. And it's also important to remember, you know, this gets set up as a health versus economy kind of conflict.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
ALEX AZAR: It's actually health versus health. We see-- we see suicidality. We see reduction in cardiac procedures, cancer screenings, pediatric vaccinations. There is a real-- a very real health consequence to these shutdowns that must be balanced against as we-- as we try to reopen this economy and move forward.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Absolutely. Whistleblower Doctor Rick Bright is going to appear on 60 MINUTES tonight. He, specifically, names you in his complaint as having downplayed the catastrophic threat. The last time that you were with us here on FACE THE NATION was March 1st. And, at that time, you told me, what your viewers need to know is the risk to the average Americans remain low. Do you stand by that? I mean do you take responsibility for any missteps you might have--
ALEX AZAR: So--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --taken?
ALEX AZAR: So, Margaret, I think if we found the entire clip, because I was using words only that Doctor Fauci, Doctor Redfield. Doctor Schuchat, Doctor Messonnier would tell me to say and would repeat publicly. Also, I believe what I said is the risk to the average American at this time remains low. But that could change rapidly. We always were-- I was always focused on warning that the situation could change, that at the moment the risk was low to any individual American.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
ALEX AZAR: So I stand by that in the sense that that's what the public health people were-- I don't make this stuff up. I go with what Fauci and Redfield and Schuchat and Messonnier and others say because they are the public health experts.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Certain-- certainly. But they report up to you. The CDC has been blamed for failure and mistakes with testing. Do you take responsibility for that?
ALEX AZAR: So we were confronting a situation here that's completely novel. There has never been a national, immediate testing regime across public and private sectors. We have had to, literally, build this from the ground up, Margaret. That's what-- that's what some folks don't quite understand here, is that the CDC's role is to develop an initial, fairly low throughput public health test that health labs will-- will do for initial diagnosis. But then we count on the private sector actually to scale up these high throughput, large test capacities. And that's what we've done in historic time. You know these tests normally would take--
MARGARET BRENNAN: So-- so you don't--
ALEX AZAR: --six to nine months to get.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --take responsibility for any problems that the CDC has admitted to having had?
ALEX AZAR: We, you know, what did the-- what problem did the CDC have? The CDC had an issue as they scaled up manufacturing of tests to get them out to about ninety public health labs. There was, apparently, a contamination at an end stage there on the third part of the reagent that never led to false negatives or false positives, but that prevented some of the scale up for a couple of weeks. But that was never going to be the backbone of testing of broad mass testing in the United States, Margaret. That depends on the companies like Abbott and Roche and Thermo Fisher--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well your-- your colleague--
ALEX AZAR: --for these high throughput tests.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I just want to clarify because your colleague, Peter Navarro, has said that the CDC let the country down.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Given the CDC reports--
ALEX AZAR: Well--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --up to you, do you take--
ALEX AZAR: I--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --responsibility for that? What do you think about that?
ALEX AZAR: I don't believe the CDC let this country down. I believe the CDC serves an important public health role. And what was always critical was to get the private sector to the table.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Mister Secretary, thank you for your time.
ALEX AZAR: Thank you, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: FACE THE NATION will be right back with the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to Capitol Hill and the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. Madam Speaker, good morning to you.
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI (Speaker of the House/@SpeakerPelosi): Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to talk about this three-trillion-dollar package that you just passed. But I want to quickly get your reaction to the White House. One White House adviser saying that the CDC let the American people down with testing. You just heard the Health and Human Services secretary say he does not believe that is the case. What do you think happened here?
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Well--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Did the CDC let the American people down?
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Well, the CDC was grossly cut in the President's budget, but setting aside how we got here, let's talk about how we go forward. It is important for us-- the American people want the economy to open up. We all do. We want our societies to-- to open up. We all do. And in order to do that, we have testing, tracing, treatment, and isolation. And that is the path. It's what the scientists advise. That is what we do in the HEROES Act. We talk about how we can get there with a plan. This-- we haven't had a plan. Let's go forward in a bipartisan way to have a plan, a plan to test. We have no idea the size of this challenge to our country because we have not sufficiently tested. Let's test so that we can diagnose and then we can treat and then decrease the number of people who have died. Imagine that ninety thousand Americans, almost ninety thousand Americans have lost this life-- their lives, to this awful villain. We, whatever our differences, have to join together to fight this enemy to the lives and the livelihood of the American people. Ninety thousand people, we send our condolences and our prayers to their families. We will always carry them in our hearts.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Sadly, the number is projected to even grow and then nearly a million and a half people infected. So we have a common enemy. And as we go forward let's do so with a strategic plan--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: --a plan that has a timetable. It has-- it has a-- a goal, a timetable--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: --benchmarks and the rest to get the job done for the American people.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask about your plan, because, as you just mentioned, that HEROES Act is the three-trillion-dollar bill that you just passed. Republicans are looking at a different deadline, say that the enhanced unemployment benefits that exist now don't expire until July. Let's see what reopening looks like and what a new package should be tailored to. Why do you think there's not merit to that argument that a few more weeks before crafting a bill could be more effective?
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: No. Time is of the essence. And we passed our proffer, what we put forth. In the past bills, they've put forth their proposal and then we worked in a bipartisan way. That's what we all anticipate. Now, across the country, Republican and Democratic mayors, governors, and the rest all want this bill to happen in terms of the investments in state and local and tribal and territorial governments and also in terms of the testing to be done across the country, largely, at the state level. Time is very important. We have lost time. But, again, setting aside how we got here, we cannot take a pause. They may think it's okay to pause. Well people are hungry across America. Hunger doesn't take a pause. People are jobless across America.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: That doesn't take a pause. People don't know how they're going to pay their rent across the country. We have-- we have to address this with humanity, with humanity.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Has there been any-- has there been any Republican response, any counter offer or opening to begin negotiations since you passed this bill, which the White House says has no chance of becoming law?
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: That isn't so. We-- and no bill that is proffered will become law without negotiation. So, yeah, but, again, with the other bills, we had four bills all bipartisan. The bill that Leader McConnell put forth, the CARES one was his offer. Nobody says doesn't have a chance because he just put it forth.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: The interim PPP bill was his offer. We--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Has he reached out to you?
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Well, we just passed the bill within a matter of-- a matter of hours ago. But I do have confidence. I have confidence because the American people and the governors and mayors, as I've said, in a bipartisan way, know that we have to support our local government. That's where our health-- we have health-care workers, police and fire, first responders, in other words emergency, our teachers, our sanitation workers. You know, they're at risk of losing their jobs.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Many of these people risk their lives to save lives and now they may lose their jobs. And--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Repub--
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: --by the way, I think it's important to note that everything, sounds like a big number, but everything that we have in the state and local column there is less than the Republicans put in their tax scam to give eighty-three percent--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you-- are you open to--
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: --of the benefits to the top one percent.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --liability protections for employers? That's what Republicans say is their red line. To get what you want, what will you give on that?
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Well, we have no red lines. But the fact is the best protection for our workers and for their employers is to follow very good OSHA mandatory guidelines. And we have that in our bill. And-- and that protects workers, protects their lives as well as protects the employer, if they follow the guidelines. Remember, when people go to work, they go home. They could bring it home to their children--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: --or they could bring it home to a senior living in their home. There is a-- this is beyond just the individual at work.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Madam Speaker, late Friday, President Trump sent you a letter saying that he was going to remove the inspector general of the State Department, Steve Linick. This is the fourth IG to be removed in six weeks. Why was Linick removed? What's behind this?
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Well, this is new to us and typical of the White House announcing something that is very unsavory. They would do it late on a Friday night. The fact is, as you indicated, it's the fourth inspector general-- inspectors general, that office was created after Watergate to make sure that there was integrity in the departments, the agencies of government. They're supposed to show cause. Even Republicans in Congress are concerned about and have spoken out--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Was he investigating the secretary of state? When you say unsavory, is that what you mean?
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Well, I mean, unsavory when you take out someone who is there to enforce the-- to stop waste, fraud, abuse, or other violations of the law that are-- they believed to be happening. So, again, let's take a look and see. The President has the right to fire any federal employee. But the fact is if it looks like it's in retaliation for something that the attorney-- the IG, the inspector general is doing, that could be unlawful.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Was he investigating the secretary of state as Eliot Engel has said?
SPEAKER PELOSI: I trust the word of my chairman. Again, I've just passed a big bill and I-- I only got this letter from the President that night. But he didn't say in his letter any reason except that he lost confidence. Well, he's lost confidence in other IGs because they had been investigating or looking-- have reason to believe that something should be--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: --investigated that he is doing. I really do--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Understood.
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: --think that Presidents should not have the ability--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Madam--
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: --to undo investigations into their own actions.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Madam Speaker, thank you very much for joining us today. We have to leave it there.
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: My pleasure. Thank you so much. Thank you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Ahead, a preview of 60 MINUTES interview with the chairman of the Federal Reserve. We'll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be back with former White House Economic Advisor Gary Cohn and former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. Last week, another three million Americans filed for unemployment. Retail sales and factory output recorded record declines--signs of the economic damage from coronavirus. Tonight on 60 MINUTES, Scott Pelley talks with the most powerful man in the finance world, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. Here's a preview.
SCOTT PELLEY (60 MINUTES): What economic reality do the American people need to be prepared for?
JEROME POWELL (60 MINUTES): Well, I would take a more optimistic cut at that, if I could. And that is, this is a time of-- of great suffering and difficulty, and it has come on us so quickly and with such force that you-- you really can't put into words the-- the pain people are feeling and the uncertainty they're realizing. And it's going to take a while for us to get back. But I-- I would just say this: In the long run, and even in the medium run, you wouldn't want to bet against the American economy. This economy will recover. It may take a while. It may take a period of time. It could stretch through the end of next year. We really don't know.
SCOTT PELLEY: Can there be a recovery without a reasonably effective vaccine?
JEROME POWELL: Assuming there is not a second wave of-- of the coronavirus, I think you'll see the economy recover steadily through the second half of this year. For the economy to fully recover, people will have to be fully confident. And that-- that may have to wait the arrival of-- of a vaccine.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Scott's full interview with the Fed chairman airs tonight on 60 MINUTES.
We go now to Gary Cohn. He is the former director of the National Economic Council under President Trump. He joins us from Long Island, New York. Good morning.
GARY COHN (Former National Economic Council Director/@Gary_D_Cohn): Good morning, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You just heard the Federal Reserve chairman say no full recovery until there is a vaccine. Is the logical extension of that that there will be widespread unemployment well into next year?
GARY COHN: So, first of all, I thought Chairman Powell did a very good job of summarizing the economic situation with some optimism and saying, look, if we don't get a second outbreak in the fall, which is just predicted, we don't know if that will happen or not, that we-- we will continue to grow our economy and our economy will continue to have a natural recovery. So-- and he was quite optimistic. And-- and I am quite optimistic. The U.S. economy is quite resilient. And I-- and I have to remind people that we ended up in this economic situation by necessity. We made a conscientious decision to shut down our economy and have everyone stay home to flatten the curve--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
GARY COHN: --which was the right decision. But we created this economic situation. We can unwind this much more quickly than some of the comparisons that we were making in time where we're-- where there were situations where our unemployment data happened over a long period of time--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
GARY COHN: --because of declining employment, declining sales.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But the-- but the counter to that is there are people in immediate and severe pain now. I mean the Fed revealed this week that forty percent of people making under forty thousand dollars a year lost their jobs in just one month in March.
GARY COHN: Yeah.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I mean we're hearing about food insecurity. The Fed chair pointed to Congress and you just heard the speaker of the House say time is of the essence. Do you agree with her that more emergency aid needs to happen now or can you wait as Republicans want to do?
GARY COHN: So I think I agree with fifty percent of what the-- the speaker was saying. So part of the HEROES Act was to get money or is to get money to the states, to the state and local government. And I do think that is very important. The state and local governments have been hard hit. The last thing we want to see is state and local governments in our time of need, having to lay off firemen, policemen, teachers, first responders, front-line people that we're reliant upon for our everyday life. That would be the complete wrong outcome here. So the federal government does have to step in and help out states. Just like they've helped small businesses and big bus-- big businesses, they should help the states. That doesn't mean they should re-- return the states to perfect financial condition. On the other half of the bill, and-- and you didn't ask me about that there is some things in there that are much more aimed at a-- a recovery than the current position we're in. In addition to that, if we really want to get the people back to work that Chairman Powell was talking about, we need to reopen the economy. Those people earning less than forty thousand dollars a year are very important and we rely on them. But think about the health care system. The health care system is twenty percent of our GDP. If we get our health care system back up and running, a lot of people in the lower-wage bracket end up working in the health care system. We need that to happen.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So.
GARY COHN: If we get people going back to work, think of what it means to go back to work.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Sure.
GARY COHN: You get in your car, you drive, you go to the gas station--
MARGARET BRENNAN: But it's not-- it's not an either, or-- it's not an either, or it's a how. Right? And part of what--
GARY COHN: It--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --Congress will be doing is figuring that out policy-wise. The administration is floating the idea of a payroll tax cut, slashing the corporate tax rate, suspending capital gains on assets bought between now and the end of the year. How does any of that help the people who are in pain now?
GARY COHN: Well, look, Margaret, we have to decide where we are. Are we responding to the crisis or are we trying to stimulate a recovery? And, look, this is a very difficult situation because the federal government sits on top and then each state is going to decide what we're doing. If we're trying to respond to the crisis, we're right. And this is where I agree with the speaker. We have to get the states money to help them respond to the crisis. If we're trying to stimulate economic growth, which would be the second half of the equation, we would use a different set of tools to stimulate economic growth. And we have a huge toolbox of tools we can use to stimulate economic growth.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But-- but those specific proposals, payroll tax cuts, lowering the corporate interest rate. Does that do any of what you're talking about?
GARY COHN: Well, look, payroll tax cuts puts money in the pockets of people who are working.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
GARY COHN: Right now we're talking about the unemployed people.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Exactly.
GARY COHN: Payroll tax cut doesn't help an unemployed person, so I am not in favor of a payroll tax cut.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So what are you saying? Are you saying more direct--
GARY COHN: I mean I am in favor of getting people back to work.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. But, are you also saying more direct aid to people? Because one of the questions around extending unemployment benefits as they are now, is this unintended consequence of people actually sometimes making more--
GARY COHN: Exactly.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --on unemployment than if they take the option to go back to the employer that maybe furloughed them. So, what's the solution there?
GARY COHN: So, Margaret, look, I think you just hit on a very important concept. When we first started the enhanced unemployment benefits, we did it for a specific purpose-- purpose. We wanted to and we needed to get people out of the economy. We needed them to stay home. So we changed the definition of unemployment. We said, look, stay home. Don't look for a job. We don't want you to leave your house. Now, I think we have to go back to the more traditional definition of unemployment. If you're unemployed, you get benefits. But if you need to be looking for a job and if you get offered a job, you should have to take that job and you should come off of unemployment benefits. We need to transition out of the extraordinary measures that were justifiable sixty days ago, ninety days ago, into the-- the real world--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
GARY COHN: --of what is the-- the continuous definition of unemployment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Two things. Do you think equity markets are behaving rationally? And are you accepting the idea that the tax cuts that you personally helped usher through for the Trump administration may have to disappear as so many on Wall Street are predicting to pay for all this?
GARY COHN: Well, first of all, I have-- I have said it and I'll say it again. We now understand that we have to be in the positions of federal government to spend two to five trillion dollars at a moment's notice to support our infrastructure and support our economy. That said, we need to sit down to look at both sides of the equation. We need to sit down and look at the revenue side of the equation, and we need to look at the expense side of the equation. So I would say, yes, that the tax situation in the United States has to be readjusted. Everything should be on the table.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
GARY COHN: But, remember, at the expense side of the equation, everything should be on the table as well. As far as the stock market goes, remember the stock market is--
MARGARET BRENNAN: So-- so your tax cuts you mean you accept would likely have to go away?
GARY COHN: So-- so I think everything is on the table. And-- and remember-- remember, Mar-- Margaret, I think the tax cuts are completely misconstrued. We gave big tax breaks to-- to lower-income earners and we taxed higher-income earners. And in fact, in the HEROES bill, you'll see they're trying to roll back the SALT deduction. The SALT deduction--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
GARY COHN: --was a way that we taxed most of the higher earners. Only the top thirty percent of earners really use the SALT deduction. They are the ones that own the big homes and pay the big real estate taxes and pay big state income taxes then they're using that deduction. Rolling that deduction back does not make sense right now when the federal government needs money in-- in this environment. On the stock market, look, the stock market--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
GARY COHN: --is very forward-looking. And I think the stock market, like Chairman Powell, is fairly optimistic of where we're going to get to and-- and-- and there is a path forward.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
GARY COHN: And I will remind people, it's-- also it's made up of the largest companies in America.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
GARY COHN: And a lot of those companies have actually become more essential to our daily lives today, not less essential.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right.
GARY COHN: If there were an index of small local businesses--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
GARY COHN: --I think that index would be trading at depressed values.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Gary Cohn, thank you for joining us.
We have to leave it there. We'll be back.
GARY COHN: Margaret--
MARGARET BRENNAN: We're back with former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb, who joins us from Westport, Connecticut. Good morning.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB, MD (Former FDA Commissioner/@ScottGottliebMD): Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You heard Secretary Azar say hundreds of millions of people, three hundred million doses of a vaccine by January. Is that realistic?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, first, we have to remember that the doses, probably-- we have to cut it in half because many of these vaccines, and Sanofi has already spoken to this, you're going to probably need two doses of the vaccine. So, whatever supply we have is probably sufficient to actually dose and inoculate about half the number of people. I think our expectation should be that we're going to have millions of doses of vaccine available in the fall to do large phase three clinical trials, maybe low tens of millions of doses if multiple manufacturers make it through phase one, phase two studies. And we might make them available under an Emergency Use Authorization if we do have outbreaks or an epidemic in the fall for certain high-risk groups. Another thing to consider is that these vaccines may not be completely protective. What they may do is prevent you from getting COVID the disease and from getting severe pneumonia, but you may still get the infection. So you may still be able to get and transmit the infection, but you just won't get as sick. And that may be how these vaccines ultimately are used. And so what you might do in that situation, if we do have an epidemic, is use the vaccines on people who are really high-- at high risk of a bad outcome, like people maybe in a nursing home. But I think our base assumption should be that we'll have millions of vaccines, maybe low tens of millions of vaccines if multiple manufacturers are successful in those early studies.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So three hundred and twenty-eight million Americans. Eight billion people in the world. They're going to want this overnight. What you're saying is that's not happening by January, period?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, remember, it takes-- it takes a while to manufacture a vaccine, and then once you manufacture it, you have to do stability testing. So you don't just manufacture a vaccine and roll it off the line and then send it out into the public to be-- to have people inoculated with it. You're going to hold it. You do stability testing. So you make sure the vaccine is appropriate for use. In 2009 with H1N1, when we went to make that vaccine, so we had the vaccine construct, it worked well in the laboratory and in small-scale studies. When we went to scale up the manufacturing, we found we weren't getting good yield with it. And we actually lost about two months in that process of trying to make that vaccine in time for the fall. So a lot of things-- there's a lot of uncertainties as you go from vaccines that you're manufacturing on a smaller scale, in a-- in an experimental fashion in early-stage studies when you try to scale up and get volume. So a lot of things can go wrong. A lot of things can be delayed. It's very hard to get to the point where you're manufacturing at high, high quantities. I would say that's probably more likely a 2021 event that we're going to have the vaccine available in sufficient quantities to mass inoculate the population. And, remember, there might be two hundred million people who want this vaccine who are eligible for it. That might take four hundred million doses. And so it's probably a 2021 event. I do think we'll have the vaccine available in the fall for use maybe to ring fence an outbreak if you have an outbreak in a large city or to inoculate a certain portion of the population on an experimental basis to protect them because they're at high risk of a bad outcome.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We're learning more about this virus, including the potential risk to children. What would you tell parents who are concerned about these reports out of Italy, the U.K. and now the U.S. that young children are being affected?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Look, the reports are deeply concerning. There appears to be some kind of post-viral syndrome associated with this virus. The WHO and the CDC have now stepped forward and said they've associated with this virus, although it's not definitive, the causal relationship. It appears to be some kind of post-viral immune-type phenomena. We see this in other kinds of viruses. What we don't know is the denominator. We don't know how many kids have actually had the virus. Is it hundreds of thousands of millions of children that have had the virus and we're seeing, you know, maybe a hundred or two hundred of these cases? Or have only thousands of kids had the virus, and we're seeing hundreds of cases? That would be deeply concerning if the incidence was that high. This was first detected by the British, April 26th. The Italians have reported on a cluster. And then New York City doctors and health officials were the first to report on a cluster here in the United States. They've now reported on more than a hundred of these cases and three tragic deaths. But, again, we don't know that denominator of how many kids are getting infected. There was a study in Science Magazine about two weeks ago that said that children are probably a third as likely to get infected with coronavirus as adults. So that means that kids are getting infected, but probably at a much lower rate than adults. But they're still getting infected and if you figure maybe upwards of twenty million people in the U.S.--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: --have had the infection at this point, and that's possible, that means a lot of kids might have had it as well.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I know the CDC did put out some guidance on that this week, saying call your pediatrician if your kid has any of the rashes like we just showed you on the screen.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But on the-- the issue of the CDC, you-- you said before on this program, the CDC needs to be sharing more information than they are in terms of what doctors are-- are seeing and learning. There need to be more specific guidelines for businesses and schools. You heard a White House adviser say the CDC failed the country on testing this morning. Alex Azar disagreed with that, the Health and Human Services secretary. How-- how do you assess what is happening at the CDC right now?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, I disagree with that assessment as well about the diagnostic test. Even if the CDC had rolled out that test perfectly, there still wouldn't have been enough testing in place in the nation to do what we call sentinel surveillance to try to detect this virus earlier. What needed to happen was someone needed to pick up the phone and call the CEOs of LabCorp and Quest and the other big labs, probably sometime in January or at least in early February, and get them spun up--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Who would that person have been?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: --because they're the only ones who--
MARGARET BRENNAN: The Health and Human Services secretary? Or the FDA commissioner?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: It would have been-- it would have been one of those two. It would've been someone within HHS to ask them to spin up tests. And if they had asked the CEOs to do that, I'm-- I'm willing to bet that they would have done it and you would have gotten the big labs in the game. That's what needed to happen. As far as CDC is concerned I mean I think the part of the agency where I think there could be more information is trying to catalog the collected clinical experience. We've now had more than a million people infected with this in the United States, probably tens of millions of people infected. We've had hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations. Ninety thousand deaths. We haven't seen a really definitive, systematic accounting of the collected clinical experience with those patients and their outcomes and what interventions were used on them. This is what CDC does: puts out this information is setting a public health emergency so can inform what we're doing. We're learning a lot of this by word of mouth with physicians, even on Twitter, that there-- that people have coagulopathy. So their blood's clotting. We're learning that maybe you shouldn't be ventilating patients on respirators as aggressively as we were. We're learning that many patients are getting blood clots to their lungs and that's what may be causing some of the rapid decompensation.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Now we're learning about this pediatric syndrome. So we're learning a lot that should be coming from the CDC. I think that's where we can be doing much more, putting out this information. And the guidelines are a separate matter.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: I think the more that CDC puts out very detailed guidelines, the better businesses can restart.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All of us want more facts. Thank you, Doctor Gottlieb. Appreciate it.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Thanks a lot.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be back in a moment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Among the many disturbing pictures that we've become accustomed to seeing since the pandemic started are those of people seeking help feeding their families. The lines at food banks have been shocking. The numbers are, too. In April, more than one in five U.S. households reported not having sufficient resources to buy food. That number increased to two in five households, forty-one percent for mothers with children twelve and under.
We go now to Dallas and Claire Babineaux-Fontenot. She is the CEO of Feeding America, the nation's largest hunger relief organization. Good morning to you.
CLAIRE BABINEAUX-FONTENOT (CEO of Feeding America): Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We've heard the statistics in terms of who is most vulnerable and how hard they are getting hit. We also know that food prices had their biggest spike in decades just last month. This seems like the perfect storm. What are you seeing at your facilities right now? Who is coming and what do they need?
CLAIRE BABINEAUX-FONTENOT: Well, Margaret, I think you use the right term. It is, in fact, the perfect storm. We're seeing a marked increase in demand to the tune of, on average, sixty percent more people showing up in need of our services. And at the-- at the time that we're having that increase in demand, we have a decrease in donations. We have an increase in cost of food, and we have a decrease in volunteers. So it is, in fact, a perfect storm.
MARGARET BRENNAN: How're--
CLAIRE BABINEAUX-FONTENOT: So many of the people who are coming. Oh, I'm so sorry, please finish.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes. No, please. So how are you managing that? And-- and is-- is the person that you are serving now, as challenging as it is, different from what you saw just a few months ago? Is it a different demographic?
CLAIRE BABINEAUX-FONTENOT: Yeah, that's exactly what I was going to say, that forty percent on average of the people that we're seeing now have never relied upon the charitable food system before now. So we're definitely seeing different people showing up. So many of the people who are there, they're kind of familiar to us. Some of the people who were donors are now in line in need of our services. So there's been a change, to be sure. But one of the things that I think the American public simply wasn't aware of is that even before this pandemic, there were nearly forty million people who were food insecure and over eleven million of them were children. So we've had a challenge for a while. This pandemic has just heightened that challenge. And a lot of people are in need of help right now.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I know things like diapers aren't covered by food stamps. Are-- are items like that what you need at your facilities? What are you looking for right now to serve in particular those children?
CLAIRE BABINEAUX-FONTENOT: Well, we need a-- a whole host of things. First and foremost, we need food. So what we have done is we've had a remarkable outpouring of support from across the country in-- in terms of dollars so that we can purchase food. We've also had some assistance from the Congress and some of the legislation that's-- that's already been passed. Some help from the administration in the form of deregulation so that we're able to provide that food in a new way. But there continues to be a need. I-- I don't know that I mentioned that so far, the members of our network just since March have provided over a billion meals to people facing hunger. But our estimates are that over the course of the next twelve months, that the need just inside of our system is over eight billion. So big need, and across all of those indices that you just described. Absolutely.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Brookings said one in five American children are going hungry. I know you just told us about the pain you're seeing, particularly with kids. Forty-one percent of mothers with children's ages twelve and under report food insecurity. What is it-- I've read that you need food and items from manufacturers--
CLAIRE BABINEAUX-FONTENOT: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --not necessarily from individuals. Explain what's changed. What do you mean by that?
CLAIRE BABINEAUX-FONTENOT: Well, I-- I don't know that I would-- I would limit it just to-- to manufacturers, so maybe the best thing for me to do is to start from the top and say what the hierarchy are of things that we think are absolutely essential right now. You mentioned SNAP just a few moments ago.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Food stamps.
CLAIRE BABINEAUX-FONTENOT: Truly SNAP is the-- yeah, formerly known as food stamps. Thank you for that. For every one meal that we're able to provide in the charitable food system, SNAP can provide nine. And one of the interesting things about SNAP is not only is it good for people right now in the mid-- in the middle of a pandemic and an emergency, but it's also good for the economy. We have data that shows that for every dollar invested in SNAP, the return is a dollar seventy. So there are lots of good reasons for all of us to be thinking about and urging our members of Congress to pass additional legislation so that we can increase access to SNAP and so that we can increase the thresholds in terms of how much people can receive from SNAP. So that's-- that's first and foremost. Secondly, as I mentioned before, we-- we're doing, by the way, may I take the opportunity to just acknowledge the remarkable people in this network and in other non-profits as well who are really stepping up to this challenge--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
CLAIRE BABINEAUX-FONTENOT: --and providing these services to people when they need it. But the gap hasn't closed. We've done-- we-- we did some analysis that showed, over a six-month window, our analysis showed that in our network alone that the gap was about 1.4 billion. That assumed--
MARGARET BRENNAN: So those three billion that the USDA is doing in terms of taking food from farmers and bringing it to banks, that's not solving the issue?
CLAIRE BABINEAUX-FONTENOT: Well, it's helping, and we hope it will help. It's early days, and we're going to do everything in our power to make that program successful--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
CLAIRE BABINEAUX-FONTENOT: --because an additional three billion dollars in food would-- would certainly be helpful right now. But the gap still won't be closed, even with that effort. So my encouragement to your audience and to members of Congress and the administration--
MARGARET BRENNAN: I understand.
CLAIRE BABINEAUX-FONTENOT: --and people all across the country is let's just keep trying to help--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
CLAIRE BABINEAUX-FONTENOT: --and we can close this gap together.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We agree with you. Thank you so much.
We'll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for today. Thank you for watching. For FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.