On this "Face the Nation" broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan:
- Cedric Richmond, Senior Adviser to the President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement
- Sen. Tim Kaine, (D) Virginia
- Fred Smith, FedEx Executive Leadership Chairman and CEO
- Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Former FDA Commissioner
- John Dickerson, CBS News Chief Political Analyst
- Amy Walter, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Cook Political Report with Amy Walter
Click here to browse full transcripts of "Face the Nation."
MARGARET BRENNAN, HOST: I'm Margaret Brennan in Washington.
And this week on Face the Nation: President Biden wound up a rough week with a big win. Will it be enough to end the perception that Democrats can't get anything accomplished?
Calling it a monumental step forward, Mr. Biden applauded the passage of one of his signature economic plans, a $1.2 trillion bill to update the nation's infrastructure.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They want us to deliver. Democrats, they want us to deliver.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Last Tuesday's off-year elections were a symbolic debacle for the party and a harbinger of potential losses in next year's midterms, when control of Congress is at stake.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): And the trends are unmistakable. A Republican wave is under way.
JOE BIDEN: I think the one message that came across was, get something done. It's time to get something done. Stop -- you all, stop talking. Get something done.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But the president's social spending program, Build Back Better, is still the subject of intraparty haggling.
Unlike the bipartisan infrastructure bill, Democrats, who hold razor-thin margins in Congress, will have to go it alone.
We will talk with White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond, and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, just one of several Democrats worried that congressional inaction will sink the party's majority on Capitol Hill.
We will have analysis from John Dickerson and Amy Walter, the editor in chief of The Cook Political Report.
Plus, we will hear from former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb about major developments in the fight against COVID-19, as children between 5 and 11 are finally eligible for vaccines.
There's good news on the economic front, as we added over half-a-million new jobs last month, but inflation continues to rise. And worker shortages and supply chain disruptions are still affecting our recovery. We will talk about all that.
Plus, we will get an answer to a question the commerce secretary couldn't give us last week.
GINA RAIMONDO, U.S. SECRETARY OF COMMERCE: People say to me, will Christmas gifts be delivered, to which I say, call FedEx.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And so we did.
FedEx CEO Fred Smith will be here.
It's all just ahead on Face the Nation.
Good morning, and welcome to Face the Nation.
On this crisp fall morning in Washington, it finally feels like we're starting to move beyond the pandemic on a number of fronts.
But, before we begin, we want to note the sobering milestone that the U.S. reached last week, 750,000 Americans dead from COVID-19.
Our senior national correspondent, Mark Strassmann, reports about the optimism that some are feeling. And it starts with our nation's children.
WOMAN: Can you put your hands up in the air and say, I'm halfway there? I'm halfway there.
MARK STRASSMANN (voice-over): One shot down, one to go, as Pfizer's pediatric vaccine sinks into the arms of kids 5 to 11.
WOMAN: Awesome job.
GIRL: I thought it would hurt, but it didn't.
MARK STRASSMANN: That rollout boosted a 72-hour good news cycle, an overall overdue sense of breakthrough.
DR. MARIA JIMENEZ-ORTIZ, PEDIATRIC CLINIC DIRECTOR, NEW YORK CITY HEALTH AND HOSPITALS, ELMHURST: This is going to be the end of the pandemic, the moment that we get the kids vaccinated.
MARK STRASSMANN: Surveys show most parents want someone else's kid to go first, but, to others, their child gets the shot, they get relief.
WOMAN: I have just been so scared. So -- sorry, I'm a little emotional. I have just been -- I just wanted him to be safe.
MARK STRASSMANN: More progress, experimental antiviral pills to treat COVID patients. Pfizer and pharmaceutical company Merck have drugs in late-stage trials that stop the virus from replicating. Both need FDA approval, but Pfizer says, even among high-risk patients, its pill reduces by 89 percent the chance of hospitalization or death.
Companies with at least 100 employees face a new mandate: Make sure workers are fully vaccinated or tested regularly. Otherwise, face stiff OSHA fines, potentially affected, 84 million employees, roughly one- third of whom are believed to be unvaccinated.
In a rhapsody of resentment, at least 26 states have sued the Biden administration. And a federal appeals court has blocked implementation.
ASHLEY MOODY (R), FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL: We won't stand for it. OSHA has never used its authority like this. And it's absurd.
MARK STRASSMANN (on camera): Enforcement could be a problem. OSHA doesn't have an army of inspectors to go from company to company. Instead, it may have to rely on whistle-blowers, workers willing to expose their noncompliant employers.
(voice-over): For many employers put in a tough spot, here's the positive. Their deadline is January 4, after the December holidays, when companies like UPS want to add workers.
MAN: The company is trying to hire 100,000 seasonal employees nationwide.
MARK STRASSMANN: Both Amazon and Walmart want to hire 150,000 seasonal workers, Target 100,000, FedEx 90,000.
That's on top of October's upbeat jobs report released on Friday. More than 500,000 workers joined payrolls.
JILL SCHLESINGER: I think economists are pleased with this report. Shows a nice bounce back after somewhat weakened reports in the previous two months.
MARK STRASSMANN: America's unemployment rate down to 4.6 percent.
Rising consumer prices remain worrisome, but for many Americans eager for a pick-me-up, that's a worry for next week.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Our Mark Strassmann reporting from Atlanta.
President Biden's $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill is finally headed to the White House for his signature. It contains $110 billion for repairing roads and bridges across the country, as well as money for public transit and railway systems and for upgrading the nation's water systems.
The bill includes funding to expand Internet access and to pay for green energy projects like charging stations for electric cars.
We turn now to senior adviser to the president Cedric Richmond. He joins us from New Orleans.
Good morning to you.
CEDRIC RICHMOND, SENIOR PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Good morning, and thanks for having me.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The president said we could see shovels in the ground in two to three months.
How certain are you, you will have shovel-ready projects by the spring?
CEDRIC RICHMOND: We're very optimistic, almost certain.
Remember, the president oversaw the American Rescue Plan, which we saw after the last Great Recession under the Obama administration, that he oversaw. And it was very effective. He knows what he's doing. This is his plan. We have administration expertise to get it done, so I'm very confident we can get it done.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But this will only really work if you can fix some of the bottlenecks in the global supply chain to get the cement, to get all the workers hired here.
I mean, we're seeing a record number of workers quitting their jobs. Companies are saying they can't even find laborers. So how do you deal with the fact that you have all these economic headwinds, including rising consumer prices? Do -- can you unstick those?
CEDRIC RICHMOND: Well, you put a lot in there.
Let's start with the people leaving their jobs. People are leaving jobs, but they're leaving jobs for better jobs. They're not leaving the job market. They are getting better jobs under this Biden economy. And part of what the bipartisan infrastructure bill does is, it will ease supply chain issues, and it will also ease the inflationary pressures, which is why you see so many economists say that it's critical to do this, so that we can bring costs down.
And, as I look at recovery in Louisiana, we have workers out there. And we have people that are willing to work. And so we're not going to look at this from a standpoint of why we can't do it. We know that it's important to do. We know that we have the workers out there. And we're going to start fixing this nation's crumbling infrastructure.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the labor participation rate is still a problem.
But your fellow Democrat Virginia Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger warned this week that -- that the president and his party aren't really being transparent about some of these economic issues.
She said: "We're not willing to say inflation is a problem, the supply chain is a problem, we don't have enough workers in our work force. We glossed over that and only like to admit to problems in spaces we dominate."
Do you agree?
CEDRIC RICHMOND: Absolutely not, because I think we're dominating the economy.
If you look at the fact that we have added more jobs this year than any president in the history of the United States, if you look at unemployment is 4.6 percent, the Congressional Budget Office projected getting down to 4. 6 percent in 2023. We did it two years faster.
We know that wages are rising. Unemployment is going down. We're creating somewhere around 620,000 jobs a month. And so I just don't agree with that premise whatsoever.
And I think the president acknowledged that some prices are going up. And we're going to -- we're going to deal with that, which is why this bill was so critical and the Build Back Better bill. So, I think the president and his economy is right on track. I think his three-pronged approach has always been correct.
The Rescue Plan, the infrastructure plan and the human capital plan are all critical to continuing moving this economy in the right direction.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But, as I mentioned, participation is a problem. Some people cannot go back to the work force, and that brings us to that question of paid medical and maternity leave.
The president said yesterday time will tell whether four weeks of paid leave ends up in this broader spending bill that you're talking about. Are you going to go to the mat this time to get senators to keep it in?
CEDRIC RICHMOND: Well, we put it in. And I would like to remind all of my...
MARGARET BRENNAN: And then you gave it up.
CEDRIC RICHMOND: I will remind all of my congressional friends that we put all of these things in both. This is the president's agenda. And the president's commitment was...
MARGARET BRENNAN: But it wasn't in the framework that the president announced.
CEDRIC RICHMOND: The president's commitment was that he would put stuff in the framework that he thought had 50 votes in the Senate.
And so community college didn't make it. He cares about community colleges. And so what's more important is what's in the plan, what's not in the plan. And, right now, paid medical leave is in.
And you talk about it in an economic framework. We view paid family and paid medical leave as a value proposition, because we know what families go through in this country when children and family members get sick. The president knows it personally. I know it personally. The administration knows it personally.
We are for paid medical and family leave. And that's why you see the president bringing so many senators down to the White House to make sure that it can stay in, in the Senate. But, right now, it does not have 50 votes in the Senate.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So it sounds like you're saying you will go to the mat for it this time, that you do want it in the final bill?
CEDRIC RICHMOND: We -- no, what I'm saying is, we've always gone to the mat for it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about some things when you look at polling right now.
Multiple polls have shown that support from key constituent groups for Democrats has receded a bit, particularly Black voters. The administration walked away from police reform. The John Lewis Voting Rights Act, as you know, was -- failed this week.
How long do Black voters have to wait for the president to deliver for them? Because this seems to be a problem in some of these races we saw this past week, particularly in a state like Virginia.
CEDRIC RICHMOND: Margaret, and with all due respect, you're just wrong.
I mean, let's -- let's start here. Congress was unable to come to an agreement on police reform, so you know who acted? The president of the United States and the Department of Justice. They banned no-knock...
MARGARET BRENNAN: But Democrats walked away from those negotiations.
CEDRIC RICHMOND: Well, now, are you talking Democrats, or are you talking about the president? So you asked about the president. Let me finish.
The president and DOJ banned choke holds. The president and DOJ limited to restrictions of no-knock warrant. The president made sure that he is acting when Congress cannot.
So, if you look at voting rights, we doubled the size of the Voting Rights Division in the Department of Justice, so that we could challenge these unconstitutional laws in court.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Democratic strategist James Carville pointed this week to the loss of suburban voters in a state like Virginia, and he said: "What went wrong is the stupid wokeness."
He argued Democrats are being defined by the progressives. You're not defining your own message, particularly when it comes to issues like the economy.
Aren't Republicans using that to their advantage?
CEDRIC RICHMOND: Well, the Republicans will use anything to their advantage, whether it's true or not. They're the party of misinformation. We see it with vaccines. We see it with everything. And what they've been able to do is weaponize things and define it in their own way.
The president has been very clear that his budget included 300 million more dollars for community policing, because we know that every community wants to be safe, while he's talked about making sure that we have significant police reform.
And so we're not defined by all of those things out there. But I think that the real issue is not exactly what James is saying. I think it's the fact that the Republicans will weaponize anything, fact or fiction.
MARGARET BRENNAN: In your home state of Louisiana, a federal appeals court just yesterday temporarily halted the nationwide implementation of the administration's decision to mandate testing or vaccination for private businesses.
They cited grave statutory and constitutional -- constitutional issues. Are you confident you're on solid legal ground?
CEDRIC RICHMOND: Absolutely. We're very confident we're on statutory and legal grounds. If you look at EEOC, if you look at DOJ, they both think we are.
And, remember, the purpose of the OSHA rule is to make sure that we keep employees safe in the workplace. And, look, the job of being president is not doing the easy stuff. It's doing what's right. It's having the courage to follow through with it. And this president has done that time and time again.
But the carnage that is out there, the families that are losing loved ones, it's at an unacceptable rate. Vaccinations is the best way to deal with it. And he has the courage to implement it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Cedric Richmond, thank you for your time this morning.
CEDRIC RICHMOND: Thanks for having me.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And Face the Nation will be back in one minute with Virginia Democratic Senator Tim Kaine.
So, stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to Senator Tim Kaine, who joins us from Richmond. Good morning to you, senator.
SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA): Hey, Margaret. Good to be with you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The president says he is confident that this spending bill, the Build Back Better Act, will pass the House mid-month.
But it just got bigger. Paid leave is back in it. Prescription -- prescription drug pricing is back in it, modifications to state and local taxes. So, doesn't this reopen another battlefront?
TIM KAINE: Well, I -- Margaret, I think the president got the infrastructure bill to his desk this week. That's going to do great in Virginia, port improvements, broadband improvements, transportation, both doing good things for the economy and hiring people into good jobs.
And then the education and work force bill that I have worked very hard on, it's going to pass. I think congressional Democrats blew the timing. We should have passed these bills in early October. If we had, it would have helped Terry McAuliffe probably win the governor's race. It would have been good for President Biden.
But we are going to get these bills done. They're great for every zip code in this country, and I'm really excited to be working on them.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But on that issue of paid family leave, does it end up in or out of this bill?
It wasn't quite clear from the White House. You did hear Cedric Richmond say there just aren't the votes. Will there be?
TIM KAINE: Well, I would say -- I would say Cedric is wise not to completely predict what 50 Democratic senators will do.
TIM KAINE: As you know, this bill will get zero Republican votes, just like the American Rescue Plan in March that produced such good benefits for every zip code. No Republicans would support it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
TIM KAINE: And this bill won't get Republican votes, either.
So, what will 50 Democrats agree to? I am a strong supporter of paid child and family leave. But remember this, Margaret. Everybody who cares about paid child and family leave also cares about the child tax credit. They care about affordable child care. They care about pre-kindergarten.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
TIM KAINE: And in that bucket of issues that matters to families and children, without being able to predict that everything that everyone wants will be fully funded for as long as we want, that bucket of issues for families and kids is going to be so powerful.
I think this will be the biggest pro-child bill that will have been done in the history of this country, will be to children what Social Security was to seniors.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
TIM KAINE: So, I'm confident about that, even if some pieces of it are still being negotiated.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. Well, those pieces are important, since all 50 senators have to be on board with it.
But let's talk about the state that you are a senator from and used to run as governor. Last week, a Republican took it for the first time since 2009. How worried should Democrats be? What are the lessons that they need to learn from what happened in your state?
TIM KAINE: Well, first, it was a Republican win, a close win, two points.
And I got to give it to the Republicans. After being shut out for 12 years in every presidential, federal and state race, they were hungry. That's what happens when a party loses. They get hungry and then they win a close race.
But here's what I think really, really was tough. And I mentioned this earlier. I think congressional Dems just blew the timing of the infrastructure and work force and education bills. Bluntly, we blew it. And I'm not talking about progressives or moderates or the House or the Senate.
The congressional Democrats have majorities in both houses, and the American public expects us to deliver.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
TIM KAINE: We delivered big in March, but that was eight months ago.
If we had done both of these bills in early October, Terry McAuliffe would have had so much to sell: Relief is coming in terms of lowering childcare costs, prekindergarten. There's going to be infrastructure to hire people to fix our port and our airports and improve our roads.
Instead, with a narrow majority, a lot of people start to think, let's see. I can hold out for the one thing I most want, or I can hold out to kick out this one thing I don't like. And Democrats blew the timing.
And, as you know, Margaret, politics -- in politics, timing is important. We'll get the bills done, but we're going to get them done weeks after the election. We should have gotten them done weeks before the election.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well over the summer, the Democratic candidate who you mentioned, Terry McAuliffe, he said part of the problem was that President Biden was just not very popular.
Is the president a drag on the party?
TIM KAINE: Well, look, if a president can get two legislative houses of his own party to deliver, the president suddenly becomes pretty popular.
And I know the president and the White House has been frustrated with this as well. Here's my prediction, Margaret. You're going to see the infrastructure bill. It's on its way to the president's desk.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
TIM KAINE: He'll sign it. I hope he does a bipartisan signing ceremony.
You're going to see us get this education and work force bill to his desk. And then what people will be saying about Joe Biden is, he had probably the most consequential first year of anybody who's been president in recent times.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
TIM KAINE: Last week, the elections on Tuesday weren't good, but you also had a record job report, vaccines available for children, infrastructure bill going to the president's desk.
We think a foundation is being laid to really move us ahead for President Biden and the American people.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
TIM KAINE: Again, I'm just -- I just regret that, even though Senator Warner and I were telling our colleagues, guys, don't be the dithering and delaying party, be the doer party, folks didn't wake up to it. They're waking up to it now.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, let's look at the messaging from the Republican candidate, who didn't run a single ad against the president, actually. He didn't even talk about Joe Biden.
What he did talk about, the things that showed up in our exit polling here, he led on the economy and jobs, led on education, led on taxes. And, in fact, the soon-to-be-governor, Mr. Youngkin, performed very well in the suburbs. He did better with white women voters.
That message seemed to really work for him. So how do you beat that playbook?
TIM KAINE: Well, here's -- here's what I would say.
Virginia is the best state for business in the United States. We have one of the lowest unemployment rates and the -- one of the highest median incomes in the U.S. under Democratic leadership. So maybe what we need to do is be better at selling our accomplishments.
I have certainly said that to the White House. When we get the infrastructure bill and the education and work force bill done, we have to make sure that we implement it right. Joe Biden did that as vice president when we did the recovery package at the beginning of the Obama administration. We have got to implement it right and then we have to go out and sell our success.
And you're right. Glenn Youngkin did OK in the suburbs, but some of the suburbs we're talking about, Terry McAuliffe won Loudoun by more than 10 points. Glenn Youngkin made Loudoun's school board kind of a front-and-center issue.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
TIM KAINE: We won handily. We won Prince William handily. We won Henrico handily. We won Fairfax overwhelmingly.
You're right. There were some jurisdictions where we didn't perform the way we used to. But I do attribute that to Democrats in Congress not delivering. And, again, the Republicans were hungry.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
TIM KAINE: When you lose every year -- we have an election every year, and when you lose 12 years in a row, people want to win, and more power to them.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, tell me, how do you, quickly, assess the Trump factor here? Is that what drove rural voter turnout? You had this sort of endorsement from afar.
TIM KAINE: You know, it's interesting -- it's an interesting one.
I think the fact that Youngkin kept Trump out of the state proved smart, because Virginia is a battleground state. It's not a blue state. But Virginia Republicans are no dummies, and they saw Trump coming a mile off.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
TIM KAINE: They -- he was not a Virginia Republican kind of candidate...
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
TIM KAINE: ... because they viewed him as kind of an anti-science know- nothing.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.
TIM KAINE: So, Youngkin's decision to basically keep Trump out of the state was smart.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
TIM KAINE: Trump voters still wanted him to win, but Trump was locked on the sidelines in this race.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, I have got to unfortunately cut you off, because I have to hit this break.
But thank you very much for all of your insights.
And we'll talk more about this later on in the show.
MARGARET BRENNAN: A criminal investigation is under way in Houston after eight people, including two teenagers, were killed in a stampede at a concert Friday night.
Hundreds received medical treatment at the event. Twenty-five others were taken to local hospitals. The chaos unfolded at Astroworld, a sold-out music festival where an estimated 50,000 people were in attendance.
We will be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION.
We go now to former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who is also on the board of Pfizer.
Good morning to you.
DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, Doctor, would you see a partially vaccinated child across the table from their grandparents at Thanksgiving dinner? Is that safe now?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: I think it's safe now. Look, we have the tools right now to protect that environment. And I don't think there's any reason why people can't get together for the holidays. They need to look at what the local prevalence is, what the risk is in their community, and they need to look at the risk within the setting in which they're gathering. If you have older individuals who are very vulnerable to this virus despite vaccination, or people you know who aren't going to respond well to the vaccine because they're immunocompromised, they might have other medical conditions, you need to try to protect that environment. But we have the tools to do that. We can use testing.
Certainly children who are partially vaccinated have some immunity and they're going to be more protected in that environment. But I think using testing smartly in those settings can help protect that -- that setting.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, there is no vaccine mandate for these elementary school children who just became eligible and are getting shots in the arm right now. At what point can schools start to lift some of the regulations, things like quarantining after exposure? When do we begin peeling some of that back?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: I think after we get through this delta wave, on the back end of this delta wave you're going to see prevalence be very low across the country. You look at what's happening in the south right now, where there are seven, eight cases per 100,000 people per day after the delta wave has swept through that part of the country. They paid a very heavy price for it in terms of high levels of infection.
But I think after this delta wave -- this delta virus moves through different parts of the country -- and it's moving through the country right now -- in another month to two months, I think we'll be on the back end of this and prevalence will be very low and you'll start to see local communities lift those restriction. Some are already lifting them. But I think the schools are probably going to be the last places that we lift some of those restrictions.
The uptake on the five to 11 vaccine has been very brisk. And I suspect that uptick's going to be better than 12 to 17. There was some estimates that uptake would be less than 12 to 17. I think it could be the opposite.
Right now, CVS is scheduled to deliver more than one million vaccines to kids ages five to 11 today. So I think you're going to see broad immunity get put into childhood -- child population.
Now, there won't be mandates on vaccines for kids for a very long time. I don't see that happening for years. But I do think a lot of parents are going to go out and vaccinate their children and that's going to improve the situation, the safety in schools.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And you vaccinated your children, I understand. How do you assess the White House rollout?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: I think the White House rollout has been outstanding on the five to 11. Look how broadly available it is. Within a two-week period, anyone who wants to vaccinate their child will be able to do it, ages five to 11. Some parents are going to have to wait a week to get an appointment. The appointments got filled up right away. But everyone's going to be able to vaccinate their kids within seven to 10 days of the availability of this vaccine.
And that owes to the work that Pfizer did, the company I'm on the board of, but also the administration making sure that this was broadly available in the community and available in different kinds of sites. It's in pediatrician offices. Communities are holding mass vaccinate clinics around schools. It's available in the pharmacies. That's a very difficult, logistical feat. And I think the administration learned from some of the past challenges we had rolling out the vaccine and corrected for a lot of the problems we've had in the past.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So you said the other day that this is the end of the pandemic as we know it. What did you mean by that?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Look, I think that that's right. I think that we're close to the end of the pandemic phase of this virus, and we're going to enter a more endemic phase.
And as things improves, cases may pick up. You know, that's what happened in the U.K. The U.K., we saw a spike in cases. But it's like -- it's pretty much back to normal, life at pre-pandemic types of levels in the U.K. right now and cases are starting to decline again.
So as the situation improves here in the U.S., people are going to go out more. Cases may pick up. But that doesn't mean that we're entering into another wave of infection. I think we're close to the end of this. This delta wave is the last major wave of infection.
We've always said that two of the events that would demarcate the end of this pandemic was being able to vaccinate our children -- we're now able to do that down to age five -- and also having a wildly available, orally accessible drug that could treat coronavirus at home to prevent people from hospitalized or dying, and we now have two of those potential pills, one from Pfizer and one from Merck. And there will be more behind that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And parents of small children like me still waiting here.
But for the first time in 18 months, vaccinated travelers who are adults, and their unvaccinated children, will be able to enter the United States. Travel is picking up.
Will this feed into the delta wave that you're talking about?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Yes, I don't think the travel coming in from outside the U.S. is going to feed additional infections, or a lot of additional infections that's really going to change the equation. A lot of people who are coming into the U.S. -- first of all, they have to show that they've been vaccinated. A lot of them will make sure that they're not ferrying the infection with them. They're not going to want to get caught in a foreign country with the infection, so I suspect a lot of people are going to be cautious about coming into the U.S. with the infection.
What -- you know, what's going to happen is this delta virus is going to play out through the country. There's not much we're going to be able to do at this point to interrupt it. We've seen the south be engulfed with the infection and it's recovered. The virus spread to the Midwest and the mountain states and now we see levels coming down in those parts of the country and now it's starting to spread into the Great Lakes region and parts of New England.
And what you've seen nationally is a stall in the declining in cases. That's not because we're seeing a pick- up necessarily across the country. What's happening is that this delta infection is moving from less- populated areas where it had engulfed those regions with infection, to more populated areas like Michigan, like Minnesota, like Wisconsin. So it's showing an overall stall in the decline nationally.
This has to play out. The reality is, this delta infection is going to capture most people who remain unvaccinated at this point. We've done a phenomenal job of vaccinating the adult population. Almost 81 percent of adults over the age of 18 have had at least one dose of vaccine. But for those who aren't getting vaccinated, they're going to get infected with this delta variant, and that's going to ultimately be the end game.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The Biden administration just pushed their deadline to January 4th for this test- or-vaccinate mandate for private businesses. We've already seen 27 different states file lawsuits in protest of it. You've been warning that there would be political backlash, and it would have public health implications.
Is this the scenario you envisioned?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, the public health implications I worry about is that the opposition that's forming to those COVID mandates is going to bleed into opposition to other kinds of vaccine mandates, and things that we've long come to accept, like mandates on childhood immunization for school, even mandates on healthcare workers. People are going to start to oppose. They're not going to parse opposition to mandates on this COVID vaccine, to mandates to other kinds of vaccines. And you're going to see vaccine uptake generally start to decline. That's what I worry about.
I think from a public policy standpoint, we need to ask ourselves, what is our goal? We've vaccinated about 81 percent of adults over the age of 18. Where do we need to get to and what price are we willing to pay in terms of cultural divide, acrimony, challenges --
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: And also the creation of things like exemptions. So a lot of businesses right now are creating exemptions as a way out of these mandates, and that creates problems for the future as well.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Dr. Gottlieb, always good to get your insight.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Thanks a lot.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back with the head of Federal Express, Fred Smith.
Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The strong employment report this week showed companies are creating jobs, but many employers are complaining that they cannot find workers to hire. That is just one of the factors being blamed for some of the supply chain blockage.
We go now to FedEx CEO Fred Smith, who joins us from Memphis, Tennessee.
Good morning to you.
FRED SMITH, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, FEDEX: Good morning to you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to get to all that in a moment, but I want to ask you first about this infrastructure bill that is headed to the president's desk, $25 billion on airport runways, $110 billion to highways, investments in rail.
You touch a large amount of transportation in this country. What does this bill do for you?
FRED SMITH: Well, it's a -- it's a step in the right direction. I haven't seen the details of the bill. But one of the three reasons that we're having the supply chain problems that we're having is the lack of investment in infrastructure and other policy changes that could have made our logistics system more flexible and nimble.
So, we applaud the Congress and the president for getting this bill passed. Any improvement in the logistics system will inure (ph) to the benefit of the American people.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, last Sunday, we had the commerce secretary with us and asked her about these delays in the supply chain blockage. She said, call FedEx if you want to know if your Christmas presents are going to arrive on time.
So what's the answer to the question? Will they?
FRED SMITH: Yes, I -- I think we're ready for this. This year we're forecasting we will deliver 100 million more shipments in this holiday season than we did in 2019. That's a result of our leaning into e-commerce some years ago, making billions of dollars in investments, including modernizing our airplane fleet to use less energy and emit less CO2.
So the secretary made a wise recommendation there. We're ready, assuming that we can get the employees.
The lack of employees, particularly since last spring and into the summer, partially because of the delta variant and partially because of the stimulus, which hit right before the delta variant took hold of a lot of the country, created a lot of employment issues, not just for us. The CFO of Amazon talked about this in depth on the 28th of October in their analyst calls.
So, to put this in perspective, the week of May the 8th, we were processing about 50,000 applications a day. This past week, beginning November the 1st, we're processing 90,000 employment applications and hiring many, many thousands of people to operate in our 60-plus global hubs that allow us to pick up and transport and deliver between any two points on the globe.
So, it's very encouraging. And it's why I believe that the delivery part of the supply chain, which is very, very important to the e-commerce recipients, the at-home recipients, will work well this peak season.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So you, at FedEx, don't have your own mandate for employees to go out and get the COVID vaccine. But now, as you know, the administration's rolling one out.
Do you expect a large number of workers to walk out of the job in January, or is that, you know, a misplaced fear?
FRED SMITH: Well, it's not a misplaced fear, but let me commend the administration for moving the federal contractor mandate from December the 8th, which could have put some of the deliveries in peril, to January the 4th, and even more importantly to give us the flexibility to try to get all of our people vaccinated.
We strongly support it. I'm vaccinated. We've made every effort. We've paid bonuses to people to get vaccinated. But the people that operate the pickup and delivery systems, the warehouses, and the fulfillment and sortation centers that make this country's logistics system go, there's a fair number of them, a large percentage, that simply do not want to be vaccinated.
That's not just hearsay. I was in a couple of our facilities just two days ago and had that confirmed by a number of our frontline managers, and it's what we're hearing throughout our system. So, this was a wise decision to move the mandate.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
Well, so, then, what are you going to do when the mandate does take effect? Are you just going to have to pay fines or is this manageable?
FRED SMITH: Well, that's where I noted the federal government is giving us the flexibility to do that. We'll try any and everything, incentives and, you know, encouragement, or what have you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.
FRED SMITH: We think we'll be able to work through it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: In terms of rising prices, I know jet fuel prices are up like 70 percent in the past year. Crude oil spiking. You look at FedEx. You've had to raise prices in the coming year. For people who are looking around and saying, my cost of living is going up, do you see any relief on the horizon?
FRED SMITH: Well, we do. The -- inflation in the last quarter was about 5.4 percent. There is (INAUDIBLE) money. Demand is about 15 percent higher for goods today than it was in February 2020. And there are supply constraints. And in the case of energy, the demand coming back much more rapidly than people thought it would has raised the prices of energy.
But we believe that the inflation will, in the middle of '22, begin to drift down a bit. But the main thing is to unclog want supply chains, which are having problems because of the so- called bull whip effect, the lack of employment and our inability to improve our infrastructure over the last 20 years. All three of those have had a big effect on the availability of moving goods through our system.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Fred Smith, thank you for answering the question, and we'll look out for those Christmas presents, as you say, should be arriving on time.
We'll be back in a moment with some political analysis.
Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Joining us now for some analysis is the publisher and editor in chief of "The Cook Political Report," Amy Walter, and the one and only John Dickerson, who our audience knows very well.
Good morning to you both.
AMY WALTER, PUBLISHER AND EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "THE COOK POLITICAL REPORT: Good morning.
JOHN DICKERSON: Thank you. Good to be here.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It's good to have you here in person.
JOHN DICKERSON: I know.
AMY WALTER: This is so exciting. I love this.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you know, I -- I love to have the "what does it all mean" conversation. And you heard Cedric Richmond, you heard Senator Kaine, their version of events.
Amy, are Democrats like just totally over-reacting here, or is there a real reason to be panicked?
AMY WALTER: There's definitely a reason to be panicked. And some of it is historical. I think it was Mark Twain who said history doesn't repeat itself but it often rhymes. And this pattern we saw in Virginia and New Jersey feels very familiar because we've lived through it. We saw it in 2006. We saw it in 2010. We saw it in 2018. The party in power, especially the party in power that has both bodies of Congress, goes into a midterm election or an off-off-year election, like we saw in Virginia and New Jersey, the president's unpopular, the other side is fired up and the party in power is not quite as energized and engaged. And you put those three things together and you get what we had in '06, 2018 (ph), which is a blow-out election for the other party, the party that's not in the White House.
JOHN DICKERSON: And another historical thing we see is after a loss like this, the losing party engages in this massive effort of diagnosis. To solve a problem, you have to diagnosis it, then you have to fix it. But everything's giving a different diagnosis. And there's a huge fight over the diagnose.
AMY WALTER: Yes.
JOHN DICKERSON: They can't even get to the executing the solution because they're still arguing over the diagnosis. And that's the fix that Democrats are in right now.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, and Senator Kaine said, don't be the dithering and delaying party, be the doer party.
Is the local really about the national?
JOHN DICKERSON: Well, yes and no. As Amy pointed out, that ugly national picture that is hurting Democrats -- as you would expect it to because of history -- that ugly national picture is made even uglier when it looks like nothing's happening in Washington.
What you heard from Senator Kaine, or what I head, implicit in everything he was saying was, pass this bill, pass this bill, so we can talk about something on the campaign trail, shift the topic off of other things and talk about what we're doing. So his message was, boy, this week really set us -- you know, we've got to get going on this legislation. It may not work but you've got to have something. And a legislation -- a piece of legislation that's passed is better than having nothing.
AMY WALTER: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Amy, you know, the exit polls, as we went through with Senator Kaine, showed economy, education, taxes.
AMY WALTER: Right. Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The Republican candidate, soon to be governor, led on all of those things, on substance.
AMY WALTER: Yes. Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, did Glenn Youngkin kind of form the platform for the GOP to take back control in 2022 with these midterm races?
AMY WALTER: Well, he certainly showed the road map for how a Republican, in a blue state -- I mean let's not forget, Virginia, it's not just that Joe Biden carried the state by 10, Obama carried the state in '08 and '12. So this is a -- a blue state.
He did that by being able to get above Donald Trump. Donald Trump was not a part of this campaign. He was able to keep him at arm's length. He was able to do that, though, in part because, one, it's not a federal race. So it's a little bit easier when it's a local race. But also the way that he was chosen as the nominee was through a convention process, not a primary. So he didn't get a long, drawn-out primary like we have in so many of these states, coming into 2022, where the president is going to insert himself or has already inserted himself.
But what Youngkin was able to do was, the wind is at his back and he was able then to focus on the things that he knew would win back those swing voters, right, education, economy, taxes. Those are classic, not just for the suburbs, in and around Washington, but for the rest of the state as well.
JOHN DICKERSON: And just to pick up on what Amy's saying, the reason primary is important is, the purchase price to do well in a primary is wrapping your arms around Donald Trump. And since Youngkin didn't have to do that, he created some of that distance.
He also had a second issue that was firing up the Trump base. One of the reasons you have to embrace President Trump is because he's got all those voters. And the key question for any Republican is, will the Trump voter turn out for you if you're not Donald Trump?
He didn't have to worry about that because he had critical race theory and other issues surrounding education that would turn out that Trump base. So he had the benefit of the Trump base. And then, as Amy said, those Republicans were desperate to come home. They left because of Donald Trump. Well, if Youngkin doesn't look like Trump, they're happy to come home for a candidate who's also talking about lots of other very traditional Republican issues.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I mean on that point, education is how it's referred to, right? And that has been an issue Republicans have come back to, just to reopening classrooms. Now it's about what's taught in those classrooms. Youngkin really focused in on that.
Does critical race theory and everything it's come to symbolize become one of those cultural wedge issues? Is it the new defund the police, essentially?
JOHN DICKERSON: They're related. There is nothing more sensitive in American life than race. And no worse place to talk about sensitive issues than in a campaign, because it's about attack and fuzzing up issues.
If you think of after George Floyd was murdered, America had a conversation and an opening up a perspective about how to deal with race. It was in corporations. It was in politics. It was in religion. And in the school room, there was a feeling that you had to teach that racism didn't just come with a white hood.
Enter now the theory of critical race theory, which is a legal fight over here, but it's brought in, in the political context, to fuzzy everything up. So you have people who both don't like the idea -- who are just straight-up racists, and those who don't like to be called a racist because they're questioning the idea of defund the police.
Condoleezza Rice said, you know, black students should not be empowered by making white students feel less empowered.
What somebody would respond is, yes, but we can have a conversation about the contemporary ramifications of historical racism. We should be able to. But you can't in a political fight.
AMY WALTER: Yes, nuance is not great in campaigns.
JOHN DICKERSON: Nuance doesn't happen in campaigns. So the question for Democrats --
MARGARET BRENNAN: But this isn't just in the campaigns. We're seeing this in school board (INAUDIBLE).
JOHN DICKERSON: Sure.
AMY WALTER: Absolutely.
MARGARET BRENNAN: This is really being used to galvanize.
JOHN DICKERSON: Right. And what happens -- the challenge for Democrats is, the Democrats have to decide, this is an important issue to us, but if we fight on it, we're going to be fighting on Republican turf. And that's bad turf because it comes at the expense of conversations we can have about other things that we want to pass. If they don't talk about critical race theory, though, they're giving up an issue they care a great deal about.
AMY WALTER: Right, and they're going to say, you know, especially for younger voters, younger voters of color who are marching in the street in 2020, they're saying, that's it, Democrats? That's all you're going to give to us is we -- we came out, we voted for you and now you're backing off saying, well, we have to be very careful about how we talk about these issues. We can't lose our suburban voters.
But I don't know if this issue would have gotten the traction it would have gotten without everything else that was going on, which is a national political environment, bad for Democrats, and students coming back into a classroom that looks and feels different. Anybody who has a child who tried to survive the pandemic knows that their kids are struggling, that teachers are struggling.
So, when you hear these school board meetings, a lot of it isn't just about -- it's not about that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
JOHN DICKERSON: Yes.
AMY WALTER: It's, oh, my gosh, my child who has special needs was totally left out.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
AMY WALTER: Or, my kid has fallen through the cracks. Or, why weren't teachers there in person? We needed to have them there. Why did they cut out sports and AP classes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
AMY WALTER: It's deeper than just that. But that motivated the base for sure.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It's anger. It's anxiety.
AMY WALTER: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It's everything that's going on.
AMY WALTER: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you for your analysis.
AMY WALTER: You're welcome.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And we will be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today.
But before we go, we want to thank the nation's veterans for their service to our country and give a special thanks to the veterans working here at CBS News with us.
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