On this "Face the Nation" broadcast moderated by John Dickerson:
- Ronald Klain, White House Chief of Staff
- Sen. Tim Scott, R- South Carolina
- Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Former FDA Commissioner
Click here to browse full transcripts of "Face the Nation."
JOHN DICKERSON: I'm John Dickerson in Washington. And this week on FACE THE NATION, we'll talk exclusively with two key players in the drama that's likely to impact every American. President Biden is pitching the most ambitious and most expensive set of domestic reforms in decades. Together his proposals total more than six trillion dollars in new spending. Do we need it all, and how are we going to pay for it?
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Well, it's real simple. It's about time the very wealthy and corporations start paying their fair share.
JOHN DICKERSON: White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain joins us for a one-on-one. Republicans, for their part, are sounding the alarm about big government run amok.
SENATOR TIM SCOTT: Even more taxing, even more spending to put Washington even more in the middle of your life from the cradle to college.
JOHN DICKERSON: We'll hear from South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott. He's also the party's lead negotiator on police reform. Then, a COVID check-in. Cases are down, but so are vaccinations. How can we pick up the pace to overtake the virus. We'll talk with former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb. And one hundred days into the Biden presidency, Americans weigh in.
It's all just ahead on FACE THE NATION.
Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION. We begin this morning with White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain. Good morning, Ron.
RON KLAIN (White House Chief of Staff/@WHCOS): Good morning, John. Thanks for having me.
JOHN DICKERSON: We are having-- we have-- as we come on the air this morning, there are reports that the Iranian government has agreed with the west to release some detainees. What can you tell us about that?
RON KLAIN: John, I can tell you, unfortunately, that report is untrue. There is no agreement to release these four Americans. We're working very hard to get them released. We raised this with Iran and our interlocutors all the time. But so far there's no agreement to bring these four Americans home.
JOHN DICKERSON: Sometimes in these kind of things the other country will rush to the microphones to force your hand. Do you feel that?
RON KLAIN: No. Again, we're working hard to bring these Americans home. When we get that done, we'll obviously be delighted to announce that news.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let's talk to-- let's talk about the President's number one priority vaccinations. There is something called vaccine hesitancy. This week vaccinations were down ten percent. The director of the CDC says places the virus will strike next are where there have not been vaccinations. Given the President's focus on this, what can he do to increase incentives for people to get vaccinated? Our Doctor Scott Gottlieb says it's people who-- there's a big portion of people who just aren't finding the time for it. It's not that they're against it it's just not convenient.
RON KLAIN: Yeah. Well, I agree with Doctor Gottlieb on that. We're doing a lot to make it more convenient. Starting just a week ago, forty thousand pharmacies now have the vaccine. Many of them have-- already walk-in hours. We're trying to expand that. We launched last week a way you can text. You can text your ZIP code to 468862 and get text back to you locations near your home where you can go get vaccinated. So we definitely need to make it easier. Look, we've made so much progress, Scott-- more-- John. More than fifty percent-- close to fifty-five percent of Americans have gotten one shot. This program is still moving with amazing pace. One in ten Americans got a shot in the last ten days. One in ten Americans will get a shot in the next ten days. We're still vaccinating millions of people a day. We've got a lot of work left to do. We do want to make it easier and more convenient for the next group of people to get the shot.
JOHN DICKERSON: Yesterday in India, four hun-- a staggering four hundred thousand cases. The Indian prime minister called the President and asked him to join an effort to lift patents on the vaccinations so they can be produced. Where-- where is the President's head on that?
RON KLAIN: You know, we are rushing aid to India. We are sending five of those giant C-5 planes, which include medicine supplies and the supplies for India to make its vaccines. India has its own vaccine, the Covishield vaccine. Production's slowed there because they don't have the scarce raw materials to make that. We've sent enough raw materials to make twenty million doses immediately more of their vaccine. Intellectual property rights is part of the problem. But really, manufacturing is the biggest problem. We have a factory here in the U.S. that has the full intellectual property rights to make the vaccine. They're aren't making doses because the factory has problems.
JOHN DICKERSON: But, quickly, the prime minister asked the President to lift it, yes or no, will he? Or call for lifting?
RON KLAIN: The-- our-- our U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai is going to the WTO next week to start talks on how we can get this vaccine more widely distributed, more widely licensed, more widely shared. We're going to have more to say about that in the days to come.
JOHN DICKERSON: Okay, Ron, on the-- on the domestic front, the President's proposals, it seems like he's trying to do two things, sell a whole bunch of programs and a mindset. So there's family leave, broadband. It's quite a list. But he's also arguing basically that-- that-- that-- that government is good in American life. And what I wonder is at a time where we have low faith in government and institutions, can the American people handle that big of a-- that much change in their life that the President's offering them?
RON KLAIN: Well, you know, John, I think what the President's offering them is what political figures, Democrat and Republican, have talked about for decades. Let's fix our bridges and roads. Let's give people a family leave when they have a new child or a sick parent. Let's get kids, universal pre-K. These are pretty basic things. And I think that the-- Washington has talked about them for decades. The bold thing that President Biden is doing is laying out a plan to actually deliver them. A way that these things, these long-promised things finally, actually happen. That's what we're trying to do. I-- I think the American people are long overdue. They've been promised that their infrastructure will be fixed for fifty years.
JOHN DICKERSON: Right.
RON KLAIN: Where is the delivery on that? And I think that's really what this is all about.
JOHN DICKERSON: The President is going to finance a lot of this with increasing taxes. And the argument from Republicans is that that throws a blanket on ec-- economic activity. Is your view that that won't happen, that there will be no diminution in corporate activity, or is your view? There will be maybe some, but that's worth the risk to have this reorientation of American life.
RON KLAIN: Well, let's be clear, first of all, more Americans, many more Americans will see their taxes go down if the President's plan is passed than see them go up.
JOHN DICKERSON: I'm talking about corporate America.
RON KLAIN: Only those at the very-- okay, well, so for corporations, obviously, they got that giant tax cut in 2017, what we're talking about is just rolling some of that tax cut back. Okay. So we're talking about putting the rate back up to twenty-eight percent. It was thirty-five before that tax cut came. So corporates will-- corporations would still have the lower-- a lower tax rate than the rate they had prior to 2017. We think that 2017 tax cut didn't meet its promise. You didn't see massive investments in R&D, you didn't see wages go up. What you saw was--
JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.
RON KLAIN: --CEA pay-- CEO pay go up. You know CEOs now make three hundred and twenty times what the average worker makes. So we think we can raise those taxes on corporations and fund the things that make the economy grow. Bridges, roads, airports, rail. That's what creates jobs. That's what gets this economy humming.
JOHN DICKERSON: Even believers in activist government think that the government can be very inefficient. With a government plan that is this big is the President going to offer any spending cuts at all?
RON KLAIN: John, first of all, I think people have watched their government deliver two hundred and twenty million COVID shots in a hundred days. They've watched us deliver a rescue plan that took this economy that was dead in the water a hundred days ago and created more new jobs in the President's first hundred days than any President in history has created in his first hundred days. So I think what the public is saying is that America is on the move again and these common sense measures to give people some help with their child care, to give people some money, a tax cut to help raise their kids are the-- is the kind of common sense action they want to see this country take now.
JOHN DICKERSON: I-- I didn't hear an answer on spending cuts, but we're going to move on. Here's your-- my question about how the President's going to work this through Congress. Seventy percent of Republicans, according to our poll and many others, think that the President was elected through fraud. What does that tell you about the environment for his proposals in Congress?
RON KLAIN: Well, what I know is those same polls show that large number of Americans, overwhelming number of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, favor more bridges, roads, and infrastructure. They favor investing in child care, giving people help, taking care of their elderly relatives. They favor broadband. They favor these things. So the-- the proposals the President's put forward have broad support. They have broad support in the country. They have support from Republican governors, Republican mayors. I think what we'll have to see is whether or not Republicans in Washington join the rest of America in broadly supporting these common sense ideas to grow our economy and to make our families better.
JOHN DICKERSON: That's why I'm focused on that seventy percent number, because people have talked about the President's plan being as big as what LBJ offered. Well, if you and I were talking in the mid-60s, I'd say, well, who is the President going to cajole and schmooze with and have bourbon and branch water and put together a coalition? There are a lot of Democrats, including former President Obama, who say that old idea of bipartisanship is basically a myth now, that Washington is too partisan and that to spend a lot of time making-- trying to make deals is ultimately going to get you nowhere. It's going to waste time and you'll be punished at the ballot box. Do you believe that? Do you see that-- that basically bipartisanship is nice when you can get it, but this is not really the way things work these days in Washington?
RON KLAIN: Well, I think, John, the President had a great conversation with Senator Capito this week. We've invited her and a group of Republican senators to the White House in the next few days, hopefully. We're going to work with Republicans. We're going to find common ground. You know the Senate last week passed by an overwhelming margin, a part of a water infrastructure bill that's part of-- related to our jobs plan. So I think you're starting to see some progress here. Look, the President has said he's going to work hard with anyone, Democrat or Republican, who shares our goals of getting this economy moving, beating this virus and helping American families. And I think there are people in the Republican Party who share those goals. And we're going to try to work with them.
JOHN DICKERSON: But there are a lot of Democrats who say, sure, try to work with them, but then you've got to do what you can through the reconciliation process, which requires just fifty votes. And that that's really the way you're going to work this out. And the more time you spend following the fool's gold of bipartisanship, the less you're really going to get done. And so the route of reconciliation, it seems to me, it-- based on the conversations I have with Democrats, is really the way you're ultimately going to go for a lot of the President's agenda.
RON KLAIN: John, we're going to take this one step at a time. This is an eight-year plan to rebuild the country. We have time to talk to people in both parties, find where the common ground is, find what people agree is mutually shared interests. I'm optimistic that we can make progress on that in the weeks ahead. As the President said, there's only two red lines for him in this entire process. He's not going to raise taxes on people making more than four-- making less than four hundred thousand dollars a year. The middle class are not going to see their taxes go up. And two, that everything is on the table. And that the only-- only other red line is that inaction is not an option. And so we're going to work hard--
JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.
RON KLAIN: --to try to find a path forward on these widely popular economic matters.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you about immigration as we go out here. The President-- every President makes promises and then runs into reality. The Washington Post had a headline that you can't have liked, which was "At the border, a widely predicted crisis that caught Biden off guard." The question is whether the President's move to take away some of the Trump-era restrictions on immigration ended up creating an-- a draw for those migrants at the southern border?
RON KLAIN: No, I don't think so, John. Look, I think people who are sending their children here unaccompanied, that's what we're talking about, children as young as six, seven years old, coming here with no adult who are sent on a dangerous journey. I don't think that's because of a speech Joe Biden gave. That's because of horrible conditions in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. We're working hard to get those children reunited with family members here in the U.S. The number of children, a recent report came out this week that said the number of children we have stuck in our Border Patrol stations are down eighty-four percent in the past month. We're making progress on resolving this problem and getting these kids reunited with their family members.
JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Ron Klain, we're going to have to leave it there. Thanks so much for being with us.
FACE THE NATION will be back in one minute with South Carolina Senator Tim Scott. Stay with us.
JOHN DICKERSON: Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina gave the Republican response to President Biden's address to Congress. He joins us now from Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Good morning, Senator.
SENATOR TIM SCOTT (R-South Carolina/@SenatorTimScott): Good morning, John. I hope you're doing well.
JOHN DICKERSON: I am. Last time we were talking we got cut a little tight there in conversations about your effort to pass some police reform through the Senate. So we're going to start there today.
SENATOR TIM SCOTT: Right.
JOHN DICKERSON: When we talked, it was in the summer, you were pessimistic. You have recently said you are optimistic about the-- the course of negotiations. What gives you that optimism?
SENATOR TIM SCOTT: Well, John, let me just say this, one of the reasons why I asked to lead this police reform conversation on my side of the aisle is because I have-- I personally understand the-- the pain of being stopped eighteen times driving while black. I also have seen the-- the beauty of when officers go door-to-door with me on Christmas morning delivering presents to-- to kids in the most underserved communities. So I think I bring an equilibrium to the conversation. One of the reasons why I'm hopeful is because in a way, this time my friends on the left aren't looking for the issue. They're looking for a solution. And the things that I offered last-- last year are more popular this year. That gives me reasons to be hopeful. And, frankly, John, I was thinking about this. Think about the parts of the two bills that are in common, data collection. I think through negotiations and conversations, we are now closer on no-knock warrants and-- and chokeholds. And-- and there's something called Section 10.33 that has to do with getting government equipment from the military for local police. I think we're making progress there, too. So we have literally been able to bring these two bills very close together. And if we remember the goal isn't for Republicans or Democrats to win, but for communities to feel safer and our officers to feel respected. If we can accomplish those two major goals, the rest will be history.
JOHN DICKERSON: A lot sunnier picture than when we talked during the summer. Let me ask you about the question of qualified immunity. Just to remind people this is a--
SENATOR TIM SCOTT: Yes, Sir.
JOHN DICKERSON: --a legal framework that on the one hand, some people say protects police who are acting in good faith. Critics say that it's a shield when police cross the line. That has been a major sticking point. You have offered a proposal that says--
SENATOR TIM SCOTT: Yes.
SENATOR TIM SCOTT: --allow civil suits to sue the department and not the individual police officer. Are you finding Democratic support for that?
SENATOR TIM SCOTT: I am actually, which is another reason why I'm more optimistic this time, what we want to do is make sure that the bad apples are punished. And we've seen that through convictions from Michael Slager in 2015 when he shot Walter Scott in the back and to recently just last several days on the George Floyd convictions. Those-- those are promising signs. But the real question is how do we change the culture of policing? I think we do that by making the employer responsible for the actions of the employee. We do that with doctors. We do that with lawyers. We do that in almost all of our industries. And if we do that in law enforcement, the employer will change the culture. So as opposed to having one officer change or not change, we'll have all officers transforming because the departments are taking on more of that burden. And, frankly, as I spoke with the family members on Thursday, they were very receptive to that proposal because what they're looking for is something that shows progress. I think that does it.
JOHN DICKERSON: When-- when you talk about changing the culture, I wonder what your assessment is of in your own party. How many people think that there is a need for police reform at all? Tucker Carlson is very influential with Republicans. And he quoted you and many others who said after the Chauvin verdict, there's more work to be done. You're talking about changing that culture. And he seemed to think that was not a legitimate position. What's your feeling about that?
SENATOR TIM SCOTT: Well, one of the reasons why I started our conversation, John, with reality that as a United States Senator, I've been stopped several times in the last three years in the Capitol and on the streets throughout the country. So I'm not having a conversation about some theory or philosophy. I'm saying that there is a way for us to restore more confidence from communities of color and say to our officers, we want character-driven officers responding to crises in neighborhoods. Those are two things that we can accomplish. I think my party, significant numbers in my party have already said to me, we will go where you go on this issue as long as I can explain my position. And we're going to do that.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you about your-- your theory about race. You said America is not a racist country. And your response to the President. The President has subsequently said he agrees with you.
SENATOR TIM SCOTT: Yes.
JOHN DICKERSON: But you've-- and you've-- and you've also said so there's some common ground there. You've also said "…to suggest there aren't racial challenges and patterns is for someone to be blind." And you've also said that-- that the system--
SENATOR TIM SCOTT: Yes.
JOHN DICKERSON: --is …breaking the back and breaking the spirit of millions of people in [our] country." And you're talking about Black Americans who are being affected by that system. So help people understand when you say it's not a racist country, but then you do talk about a system that targets Black Americans. You've talked about it today, help people square those two statements.
SENATOR TIM SCOTT: Sure. Actually well, first, let me say thank goodness that finally our President, our vice president and one of the leaders in the Democrat-- Democrat caucus in the House, Jim Clyburn, have all come forward and said exactly what I've been saying for a long time. America is not a racist country. The question is is there a lingering effect after a couple of centuries of racism and discrimination in this nation? The answer is absolutely. The question we should be debating and fighting over is how do we resolve those issues going forward. One side says I'm going to take from some to give to others. Fighting bigotry with bigotry is hypocrisy. It just doesn't work. The second-- our side, what I've suggested is let's expand opportunity and make sure that we are fully equipped for the challenges of the future. One of the reasons why we have fought for and won the highest level of funding for historically black colleges, Republicans leading that fight is because I understand that if I can level the playing field in education, we will actually see human flourishing like we've never seen before.
JOHN DICKERSON: But, Senator--
SENATOR TIM SCOTT: We focus our attention in health care as we have on sickle cell anemia or on opportunity zones for bringing resources into poor communities. We'll see what we have seen, which is the unemployment rates hitting all-time lows for African-Americans, Hispanics, seventy-year low for women. Those things actually matter, John.
JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah, but-- but when you say there's-- one side is talking about taking from one side to the other. I mean this is, you know, people pay taxes and there's an argument that that the taxes that are paid should go to communities that-- that we've seen, especially under COVID-19 have been disproportionately affected and that that's laid bare a lot of the inequity. So you're-- you're not saying that then making sure that there's money that goes to those Black communities is a bad thing?
SENATOR TIM SCOTT: Well, John, let me say it differently. When you pass the COVID package with two trillion dollars of spending and in your package, you hide in there if you are a Black farmer, we will give you resources. But if you are a white farmer, you are excluded from those same resources that's taking from one to give to the other. It's one of the reasons why in the 1990s, the USDA had to pay out the Pigford settlements to Black farmers for taking from them to give to the white farmers.
JOHN DICKERSON: But--
SENATOR TIM SCOTT: So we're going to reverse that and call that a way of creating fairness in our country? That doesn't really work.
JOHN DICKERSON: Of course, they would argue that-- that-- that they're trying to deal with that system and the inequities you talk about. But let me ask you about taxes here because that's a part of this argument, too.
SENATOR TIM SCOTT: Sure.
JOHN DICKERSON: The President says fifty-five of the largest corporations pay no corporate taxes. Polls consistently show seventy percent of the country thinks that-- that the system is tilted towards the powerful. Why is it not-- why isn't it just making corporations pay their fair share to inch up the corporate tax rate, as the President has suggested?
SENATOR TIM SCOTT: Well, the real reason, John, is a simple reason, and this is what I think is kind of stunning that we're missing in the conversation and you asked that of the White House chief of staff recently or earlier. We have competition. America has global competitors whose tax rates are lower than we are right now at twenty-one percent. Therefore, by taking it to twenty-eight percent, you actually rebalance the world against American workers. It's one of the reasons why the Biden plan makes wages-- suppresses wages long term and slows the growth of our economy because our competition is significantly lower than ours. You cannot compete in a global competition with higher taxes versus lower taxes and expect to win more of the contracts. That's kind of simple.
JOHN DICKERSON: I want to get your-- your-- you on the record about one final thing, if I may, Senator.
SENATOR TIM SCOTT: Yes, Sir.
JOHN DICKERSON: You talked about -having an honest conversation about common sense and common ground. Seventy percent of your-- your party--
SENATOR TIM SCOTT: Absolutely.
JOHN DICKERSON: --think that Joe Biden is illegitimate because the election was stolen. How do you have common ground with that belief?
SENATOR TIM SCOTT: Well, by moving on. The election is over. Joe-- Joe Biden is a President of the United States.
JOHN DICKERSON: The legitimate president.
SENATOR TIM SCOTT: And now, what we have to wrestle with-- of course, he is. Well, now, what we have to wrestle with is can we spend six to six and a half trillion dollars and raise taxes by four to four and a half trillion dollars and create a better America?
JOHN DICKERSON: All right, Senator.
SENATOR TIM SCOTT: My answer is no, because the American government--
JOHN DICKERSON: We're going to have to--
SENATOR TIM SCOTT: --can't be responsible for everything.
JOHN DICKERSON: Senator, thank you so much. We got to go there and we'll be right back with more FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.
JOHN DICKERSON: If you're not able to watch the full FACE THE NATION, you can set your DVR or we're available on demand. Plus, you can watch us through our CBS and Paramount+ apps.
JOHN DICKERSON: We'll be right back with former FDA commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb.
Plus, a conference with voters on FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.
JOHN DICKERSON: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We turn now to the battle against COVID-19. Mark Strassmann has more from Atlanta.
(Woman #1 yelling)
MARK STRASSMANN (CBS News Senior National Correspondent): COVID America is eager for moments of magic. Disneyland obliged.
MAN #1: Welcome back everyone. Welcome home.
MARK STRASSMANN: Thirteen months after viral dread sidelined Mickey and Minnie, the California Park has reopened, though changed, like all of us.
WOMAN #2: You have to have the ears, the whole outfit and now you have to have the mask, too.
MARK STRASSMANN: To pandemic officials, the real pixie dust is injected, not sprinkled and needs more believers.
MAYOR DAVID HOLT (R-Oklahoma City): If you go to a hospital, or worse you die, all because you chose to not get vaccinated, that would really be a tragedy.
MARK STRASSMANN: More than one in four Americans has been fully vaccinated. As a daily average, 2.6 million more people got a shot over the last week. That's down sharply. The shortfall is demand, not supply. In the Northwest, a plea for young people to get the shot as cases start to spike again. Take Oregon, hospitalizations have nearly doubled in the past week.
GOVERNOR KATE BROWN (D-Oregon): COVID-19 is now knocking more younger people off their feet.
MARK STRASSMANN: Millions of Americans refuse to give the vaccine a shot.
CROWD (in unison): We will not be silenced.
MARK STRASSMANN: Some are not never Vaxxers. Others assert freedom of choice. But to most objectors, it's the science, a vague, visceral skepticism that Operation Warp Speed moved too fast. At stake America's herd immunity, keeping new variants at bay and getting fully on the other side of this pandemic.
MAN #2: Is this your first time here?
WOMAN #3: It is.
MARK STRASSMANN: The economy is getting there.
MAN #3: In general, we're already back to-- to the pre-COVID levels.
MARK STRASSMANN: People want to spend. ""Help-wanted signs are everywhere, even on the menu.
WOMAN #4: I've hired more people now that never worked in restaurants before than ever.
MARK STRASSMANN: They're gearing up for a hot summer in Las Vegas, the Disneyland for adults.
GOVERNOR STEVE SISOLAK (D-Nevada): When will Vegas be back? To all those who ask, the comeback is here now.
MARK STRASSMANN: Same for here in Georgia. A rollback of COVID restrictions starting this weekend for businesses, including gyms and movie theaters. Restaurant staff no longer have to wear masks, and all of that is worrisome to health officials. John.
JOHN DICKERSON: Mark Strassmann, thank you.
The situation in the United States is definitely improving, but that's not the case in some other parts of the world. Here is senior foreign correspondent Elizabeth Palmer.
ELIZABETH PALMER (CBS News Senior Foreign Correspondent): Good morning. Mass vaccination is, at last, bringing COVID under control in Europe. But there are still hotspots across the world. Right now first and foremost in India.
(Woman speaking foreign language)
ELIZABETH PALMER: Yesterday, it set a grim record, more than four hundred thousand new cases. To say hospitals are overwhelmed is an understatement. Medical staff are working flat-out against huge odds, and everywhere there's a shortage of oxygen. People wait for hours in the street to refill tanks for home care. A Sikh temple in East Delhi even set up curbside oxygen distribution for the very sickest like Abu Sadat (ph), whose brother has been trying to get him into the hospital for a week.
MAN: No more beds in the hospital.
ELIZABETH PALMER: More than three and a half thousand Indians died yesterday. Makeshift crematoriums have even sprung up in parking lots with the fires going day and night. International aid, including oxygen from the U.S., is arriving, but not enough to end this crisis any time soon.
The other hotspot on the planet is Brazil. With a per capita death rate right now even higher than India's and the virus is still spreading fast. Thanks to people obeying rules on mask wearing and social distancing sporadically or not at all.
Speaking of no social distancing, how about this, a government-sponsored rave. Three thousand young people tested to make sure they didn't have COVID were invited to party in Liverpool. They will now be tested every day to find out if mass events like this can take place safely over the summer.
JOHN DICKERSON: Liz Palmer reporting from London. Thanks, Liz.
We go now to former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb. He sits on the board of Pfizer and he joins us from Westport, Connecticut. Good morning, Doctor Gottlieb.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB, M.D. (Former FDA Commissioner/@ScottGottliebMD): Good morning.
JOHN DICKERSON: Before we get to the international picture, I want to get your weekly update on where things stand right now in the United States.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Look, the con-- the situation in the U.S. continues to improve, and I think in the coming weeks we're going to see an acceleration, the-- the decline in cases. And one of the big reasons is vaccination. We've vaccinated a hundred and forty-five million Americans who've had at least one dose. About a hundred million Americans have been fully vaccinated at this point. This has been a monumental achievement, rolling out this vaccine, getting that many Americans vaccinated. And it's going to continue. We'll continue to chip away at it. The rate of vaccination is going to slow in the coming weeks, but we'll continue to pick up more people as we get into the summer. And if you want to get a harbinger of what it's going to look like look at San Francisco right now. About seventy-one percent of people in San Francisco have had at least one dose of vaccine. Forty-seven percent have been fully vaccinated. They're recording about twenty cases a day. They have about twenty people who have been hospitalized. So they've dramatically reduced COVID in that city. And it's largely a result of vaccination. I think that right now the gains that we're seeing across the country are locked in. We're entering warm months when this is going to create a backstop against continued spread of the coronavirus. And so we're locking in these gains.
JOHN DICKERSON: You've mentioned San Francisco. Let me ask you about New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio has said New York City will fully reopen on July 1st. Even though New York State has the sixth highest count of new cases over the last seven days. What's your assessment of that decision by the New York mayor?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Look, I think as we look out into the summer, we're going to be able to resume normal activity or something resembling normal activity. It's still going to be a layer of protection on top of what we do. I think people are still going to be cautious. But this is going to be a relatively quiescent summer when it comes to coronavirus spread. New York's doing a lot of testing. New York's leading the country really in testing. So they're turning over a lot of their cases and we're not even capturing all the negative tests. There's a lot of testing going on at home now with at-home tests that aren't necessarily getting reported unless they're positive cases. So I think the positivity rate around the country is even lower than what we're recording. But we're seeing cases come down with seeing hospitalizations come down, which is really the hardest measure of the overall impact of COVID. Hospitalizations are a pretty good indicator of where the direction is heading and they're coming down as well. So I think these gains are pretty sustainable at this point.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you about India. There-- there is a travel ban for--travel from India. Do you think that's a good idea?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, I'm not sure what we're hoping to accomplish. If the goal is to try to prevent introduction of virus into the United States, there's plenty of virus here already. If the goal is to try to prevent introduction of that new variant, 6.1.7., that's circulating in India, I assure you it's here already. So we're not going to be able to prevent its introduction. These travel restrictions could serve a purpose, but we need to be clearly-- clear about what that purpose is. Right now we still have restrictions in place against travel from China and the U.K. That doesn't make a lot of sense. So I'm not really sure what the overall strategy is around these continued travel restrictions that we have in place.
JOHN DICKERSON: When people see these-- an enormous number of cases and-- and the virus blooming in different parts of the world, how should they process that with respect to variants, in other words, more disease. Does that create the conditions for more variants that could then come back to the United States and cause us issues here?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Look, that's absolutely the case, the more that this virus continues to circulate, the more it's going to continue to mutate. But the reality is that these variants aren't just cropping up in one market and in migrating around the world. They're cropping up simultaneously in every market. You're getting what we call convergent evolution where the same mutations that are arising in other parts of the world are also arising here spontaneously. There's probably a finite number of ways that this virus is going to try to mutate to evade our immunity. And it's testing us everywhere in the world. So the same mutations that are arising in other parts of the world are arising here as well. They just haven't gotten a foothold here, in part, because we've been vaccinating our public.
JOHN DICKERSON: A lot of people are thinking about what they're going to do with their kids this summer. What is your assessment? What's going to happen, do you think, in terms of being able to vaccinate those under age sixteen, say, in the twelve to sixteen age range?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Look, I'm hopeful that the FDA is going to authorize the Pfizer vaccine, the company I'm on the board of as applied for permission to start giving its vaccine to twelve- to fifteen-year-olds. I'm hopeful the FDA is going to authorize that in a very short time period. And I think when-- once that gets authorized, I think you'll pick up probably five million kids will get immediately vaccinated. There's about seventeen million children between the age of twelve and fifteen. I think we'll pick up about five million immediately. I think probably another five million, five to seven million would get vaccinated over the course of the summer before the school year. So that'll be incremental. Americans getting vaccinated against COVID and hopefully providing protection in an age group that has been susceptible to the infection. Older kids are-- are more susceptible, certainly than younger kids.
JOHN DICKERSON: Will vaccinating kids, is there-- is there-- will that go through the regular system we've had or will parents be going through pediatricians? Is there a different way when you're talking about those younger ages to get the vaccine passed?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Yeah, it's a great question. There's a lot of effort underway right now to try to break the vaccine down into units that can be distributed to doctors' offices to allow pediatricians to provide those vaccinations. And I think that's ultimately the way we're going to get more kids vaccinated. I think initially you're going to see vaccination sites start to offer vaccines to children. Pharmacies will as well. But, really, the key to getting kids vaccinated is doing it through pediatricians.
JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Doctor Scott Gottlieb, thanks so much, as always. See you next week.
We'll be right back.
JOHN DICKERSON: To mark the first one hundred days of the Biden administration, we asked voters what was most important to them about the President's campaign promises.
RAY (North Carolina): The thing that concerns me the most, and it was probably an unspoken promise, and that is that my kids will be-- will be safer, potentially safer. I myself have been placed in jail multiple times of-- for no reason of my own just because of the color of my skin. And to hear our leader come in and-- and try to bring in and try to bridge this country and bring it back together, for me is what was desperately needed.
JOHN DICKERSON: In-- Senator Tim Scott, in giving the Republican response on Wednesday night after the President spoke, said America is not a racist country. How did-- did you hear that, and what was your response?
RAY: I did hear that. My great-grandfather was lynched. People came to-- to their home in the middle of the night and grabbed him, lynched him, and my grandfather and all of his siblings were separated, never to be seen again. I'm living that-- I have relatives that I have never seen again. And for-- but also, Tim Scott-- for Tim Scott to state that he's been stopped and he's been profiled, he has been stereotyped and all of those things, and then the turnaround and say that America is not a racist country, it-- it-- I mean, it's sad to say, but it looks like the guy just bought out--
JOHN DICKERSON: But do-- is it--
RAY: --by going to the other side.
BECKY (North Carolina): I was disappointed with his speech, but I don't think that America is a racist country overall. But I do think there has been a disgusting amount of not only systemic racism, but coming from-- before I'm-- I'm going to be talking about our families, but coming from a family of mixed ethnicity and having a lot of friends of-- of all, you know, races and everything and living in the south, you know, I mean, I-- I almost started crying hearing your story. Because, I mean, I-- I do agree that it's a huge problem.
RAY: There are a lot of good people in the United States. So not everyone is racist.
JOHN DICKERSON: Is it your view that-- that-- that it's a racist country or that there are racists in America?
RAY: I believe that this is a racist country.
JOHN DICKERSON: Okay. April, you're shaking your head--
RAY: And-- and I've lived it. And I've lived it.
APRIL (New York): Yeah. I don't agree that the United States is a racist country. I don't know why so many people will be coming across our border who are not white would want to come here so badly if we were so racist. I disagree with that premise totally.
JOHN DICKERSON: April--
RAY: I'm happy but you can live that.
JOHN DICKERSON: Allen, go ahead. Allen, you want to jump in there?
ALLEN (California): My father was Puerto Rican, so he was born in America. My mother, however, was from Honduras. And I can tell you right now, I mean, she left for safety reasons. Because nobody leaves their home, their family just on a lark, you know, or-- or looking for a better job, you know, just for that reason. I mean they leave and go through that hardship because they feel genuinely in danger. And I don't think America is a racist country per se, but I don't think that a lot of people even realize when they're being racist. And when they are looking down at someone, you know, and-- and unless you've been the target of that, you know, either verbally or by looks, you don't know.
JOHN DICKERSON: President Biden, is it your feeling that he's spending a lot of money, even given the fact that America's just been through a pandemic and a lot of people are out work?
APRIL: I believe more people would be back to work if he'd spend less money on unemployment. We have local people with small businesses who can't hire enough people to take care of their clients because the people are getting six hundred-- whatever, four hundred, six hundred dollars more in unemployment, so they don't want to go back to work.
JOHN DICKERSON: When Joe Biden ran for President, what was it that he said that you would like him to deliver on?
ALLEN: Well, the health message, making health affordable to all families, creating jobs through actually working toward fixing the infrastructure. Another thing that-- that he-- he's-- he's touched on as well is education. You know, I mean, my sister got her master's, but she, you know, she's a year older than I am, and I'm sixty-five, and she's still paying off a student loan. So, I mean, you know, what is the incentive for a-- a person to get educated if there's no light at the end of the tunnel. I mean--
BECKY: I-- I bartend with my master's degree.
ALLEN: Well, that's what I'm saying. I mean, that-- that's atrocious. That shouldn't be happening.
BECKY: Well, I like-- I mean--
ALLEN: But, yes, it is-- but yet it is. And-- and where are these jobs going?
JOHN DICKERSON: Mm-Hm.
ALLEN: I mean, a lot of these jobs are getting-- going overseas.
JOHN DICKERSON: Kate, did you watch the President's speech?
KATE (New York): I did. And I, again, I feel like, you know, the jobs answer isn't really on a federal-level answer. It's really a state-level answer. So him promising jobs is just a pie in the sky thing to appease American people. The minute he raises the corporate tax, back to where he wants it to be, where the liberals want it, you can kiss the rest of-- whatever jobs are left in this administration goodbye, because it is all about the money. We are a capitalist country. And you can't just say you have to produce jobs but we're going to tax you at forty-five percent. They're going to send all their jobs--
BECKY: I believe the number was twenty-eight percent, but I think that even so that was a stretch and they don't-- well, they don't-- you know, I-- I'd been-- he'd been saying that it won't be that high, you know, I mean.
KATE: (INDISTINCT) trillion dollars expenditure plan, you're going to have to go higher than what he's saying.
JOHN DICKERSON: And, Kate, what did you make of his argument that by raising corporate tax rate, corporations that have paid no taxes will pay their fair share?
KATE: To me, it-- it all goes down to if the economy is robust and that the corporations are paying less, but the jobs are there, there is more money going back into the economy.
JOHN DICKERSON: If you heard that the Republicans worked with President Biden on some piece of legislation, you don't-- that would be fine with you if they worked together?
KATE: Yes. I have no problem with that. I have no pro-- I'm-- I'm from New York. I-- I have to deal with the liberals every day of my life. So, to me, yeah, if you work with bipartisanship, it's a little bit better for the country.
JOHN DICKERSON: Becky, do you feel like the-- the American economic system is basically fair?
BECKY: I mean no. I always worked-- you know, I have two to three, sometimes four different, you know, like, three part-time jobs and then a freelance job, and whatever. I think that we've gone backwards with women also in the business, in just, like, as far as what we earn, that's-- that's taken a hit again, you know, compared to men.
JOHN DICKERSON: Kate, you were shaking your head. Do-- do you think that the American economic system is basically-- basically fair as it is set up in the moment?
KATE: It-- it's the greatest in the world, honestly. I mean I'm a female. I'm a business owner. I do my own business. I worked really hard for a living. I come from a single mom, a poor background. You know I put myself through college. No, I-- I don't think that can happen in any other country in this whole entire world than United States.
JOHN DICKERSON: Allen, as you look at the next year, what gives you hope?
ALLEN: I think that-- what gives me hope is, again, trying to unify the country. Yeah, you know, we're always going to have us against them, obviously. However, if we can look past our own egos and our own hardships and try to see the other person's viewpoint a little bit clearer and more respectfully I think that we can go forward.
JOHN DICKERSON: April, what gives-- what gives you hope?
APRIL: That there's another election coming up in 2022. And hopefully we'll get the House back.
KATE: I'm with April, 2022, making sure that tech is not going to censor for the next two years, for the next elections. And also tightening our election laws. Making sure that if I have to show a license to get on a plane or to get-- buy a beer, that-- I should have to prove who I am to vote.
JOHN DICKERSON: Becky, what gives you hope?
BECKY: I'm hopeful that we are headed-- well, first of all, to be out of this, you know what, pandemic. I look forward to being able to work. I look forward to seeing people again. But I look forward, you know, I look forward to less violence, hopefully.
JOHN DICKERSON: Ray, what gives you hope?
RAY: I think all of us were just tired of waking up every day, looking at our phones to see what in the heck has happened over the night. And what other fear-mongering was taking place as-- as a-- as a result of some tweets or whatever. But I think that now we have a good leader in-- in place who's going to help us move forward in the right direction.
JOHN DICKERSON: And we'll be back in a moment.
JOHN DICKERSON: We end today with a tribute to all the people who paved the path to Americans becoming vaccinated.
JOHN DICKERSON: When Doctors Katalin Kariko and Drew Weissman got their COVID-19 vaccines last December, they received a standing ovation. They were at the end of a global vaccine bucket brigade that they had helped start. Their life's work with mRNA was at the center of the cure in those syringes going into their arms. It had helped doctors like BioNTech's Ugur Şahin and Ozlem Tureci who joined the vaccine push with Pfizer scientist Kathrin Jansen.
KATHRIN JANSEN (60 MINUTES, 12/21/2020): We can call it a miracle, but a miracle always has a sense of it just happened. It didn't just happen.
JOHN DICKERSON: Next in the brigade were the volunteers who tested the new vaccine. Jennifer Haller was the very first to participate in the Moderna trial.
JENNIFER HALLER: The value that I'm going to add to hopefully for everybody will-- will certainly outweigh any risks that-- that could happen.
JOHN DICKERSON: The vials spun through their factory shoots quickened by Operation Warp Speed.
GUSTAVE F. PERNA: D-Day was the beginning of the end and that's where we are today.
JOHN DICKERSON: Airlines and shipping companies took it from there.
KRIS VAN CLEAVE: Do you feel like you were delivering hope this morning?
MAN #1: Absolutely. We know it's going to make a meaningful difference in the lives of so many.
JOHN DICKERSON: Pilots handed to truck drivers.
MAN #2: After many years at UPS this has been the most important load that I've hauled.
JOHN DICKERSON: The supply was spread over sixty thousand vaccination sites, including the one at the New York Department of Health where it went into my arm. The visit was an efficient ballet of injection, where nurses and volunteers ministered to people from all walks of life who were polite, orderly and grateful. This is not an exhaustive list of all those who lent a hand in turning an idea into a cure, but the winding chain of effort illustrates the magnitude of the toil of thousands, most of them out of sight which has led to over one hundred and forty-six million Americans being vaccinated. Hearts lightened, summer plans opened, hugs finally deployed. We are grateful beneficiaries. Our gratitude is tempered, though, by the stark sorrow of the pandemic that is still shaking our world. The links in the chain of vaccination have given those of us who've received it a chance at the future.
JOHN DICKERSON: As a recipient, thank you. I hope that all of that work will inspire all of us to be worthy of it.
Back in a moment.
JOHN DICKERSON: Before we go, some very happy news to share. There's a new member of our FACE THE NATION family. Malek Murphy Yakub arrived Wednesday. Margaret, her husband, Yado, and big brother, Eamon, sent us this photo to share with you. Welcome to the world, Malek. For FACE THE NATION, I'm John Dickerson.