Bill Gates TRANSCRIPT: 4/1/20, All In w/ Chris Hayes

Guests:
Gretchen Whitmer, Phil Murphy, Carl Bergstrom, David Larter, Michael Lewis, Stephanie Ruhle
Transcript:

 

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: You can also find me online @AriMelber on wherever

you get your social media, Facebook, Instagram, etcetera. Don`t go anywhere

though because “ALL IN” with Chris Hayes is up next.

 

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. It

has been another bad day in the battle against the virus. I wish I could

say otherwise, but that`s where we are. We are seeing accelerating cases

and accelerating deaths. There are now more than 211,000 coronavirus cases

in the U.S. And at the last count and this is changing frankly minute by

minute and I wish it weren`t, there are more than 4,700 fatalities.

 

This chart shows us cases dating back to March 1st. Just a month ago when

we had 89 confirmed cases. You can see the exponential increase over the

past month. Cases are now growing by tens of thousands nationwide every

day. And even the sunniest voices in the administration that repeatedly

played down the thread and looked into the camera to tell Americans that

the risk was low. People like Vice President Mike Pence, they are now

saying that we in the U.S. are on track, similar to the hardest-hit

countries.

 

Here`s a vice president. “We think Italy maybe most comparable areas to the

United States at this point.” Italy, where despite a national lockdown,

hospitals are overwhelmed, doctors, many of whom do not have sufficient

medical equipment, are being forced to make decisions about who gets a

chance to survive and who does not.

 

It did not have to be like this. We did not have to have the worst outbreak

in the world. The failure of this administration and this president to take

the virus seriously is part of what got us to this point. State and local

governments continue to do what they can in this fight because there

continues to be not just an absence of federal leadership, but active,

destructive incompetence.

 

For example, the President has largely refused to invoke the Defense

Production Act which allows him to force businesses to manufacture items in

an emergency. He refuses to do so or to standardize this manufacturing and

take it over despite large scale shortages of lifesaving ventilators and

personal protective equipment.

 

Well, it turns out the Defense Production Act isn`t some break glass in

case of emergency kind of thing that they haven`t dealt with. It has been

invoked hundreds of thousands of times in the Trump years. But with the

pandemic, the president treats it as a break the glass last resort.

 

And without a standardization of manufacturing, right now – I cannot

stress this enough because I`ve been talking to people about this day and

night in the last few days – the market, there is a market right now to

acquire ventilators and other equipment like masks and personal protective

equipment that is totally and completely haywire.

 

You have states being forced into bidding wars to get medical equipment and

even having to bid against, oh look, the federal government, which could

have just taken control of the entire process from the start to coordinate

this and avoid this insane situation, but they have not.

 

And then there`s this. The Pentagon – get this. The Pentagon has not yet

delivered any of the 2,000 ventilators, 2000 ventilators, it offered to the

Department of Health and Human Services two weeks ago because HHS has asked

it to wait while the agency determines where the devices should go.

Hospitals are desperate for ventilators. New York City mayor said we need

400 more in New York City in the next few days. People need them to live

and they are just sitting there.

 

And even when the federal government does do something, when they do send

ventilators, thousands of ventilators in the National Stockpile do not work

according to The New York Times report. The reason? Listen to this, the

reason. The contract to maintain the governor`s stockpile lapsed late last

summer. And a contracting dispute meant that a new firm did not begin its

work until late July when it was essentially too late.

 

And perhaps the best illustration of this incompetence, Politico reported

that last week, a Trump official was speaking to counterparts in Thailand

in an effort to get protective gear, right. We need protective gear.

They`re trying to get protective gear from Thailand. “The official asked

the Thais for help, only to be informed by the puzzled voices on the other

side of the line that a U.S. shipment of the same supplies, the second of

two so far was already on its way to Bangkok.” We were sending them the

things that we were asking for.

 

Now, the administration has now frozen such aid, but exports by U.S.

companies apparently continues. Listen to this. Roughly 280 million masks,

280 million masks in U.S. warehouses were reportedly purchased by foreign

buyers on Monday alone. And throughout this whole process, the president

appears to be distributing that federal aid with an eye on his reelection

prospects and not on need.

 

Florida where Republican governor Ron DeSantis, a Trump ally, has finally

issued a stay at home order after keeping the beaches open for spring

break, has been getting all the emergency supplies the state requested

unlike other states.

 

The Washington Post quoted a White House official who offered this

explanation for why Trump is so attuned to Florida`s wants. This is an

official in the White House, OK. “The President knows Florida is so

important for his reelection.” His reelection. One of the biggest problems

from beginning is the President has not pushed states to institute a

Shelter in Place Order.

 

As Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft wrote in an op-ed in the

Washington Post, “Because people can travel freely across state lines, so

can the virus. The country`s leaders need to be clear. Shut down anywhere

means shut down everywhere. Until the case numbers start to go down across

America, which could take 10 weeks or more, no one can continue business as

usual or relax the shutdown.”

 

And this patchwork approach where every state fend for itself is what is

leading to outbreaks around the country and the national numbers climbing

up at an accelerating rate day after day. This chart from GCP Research

shows new cases each day – listen to this – outside of the hardest-hit

states, OK. So it does not include New York, New Jersey, Washington,

California where we had the beginnings of the sort of epicenters and

seedings.

 

And the data shows that even outside the earliest epicenters, there is a

rapid escalation of case growth. That`s real worrying. Everyone is going to

have to deal with some version of the curve. And so, in the absence of

federal leadership, governors are going to have to manage the crisis as

best they can. And we`re going to talk to two of them on the frontlines

right now.

 

Joining me now for more on what needs to be done, Michigan governor

Gretchen Whitmer. Her state has seen a recent surge in coronavirus cases

with the fourth-highest total number of cases in the country. Those cases

are expected to peak sometime next week to a total higher than the number

of beds currently available in that state.

 

Let me start on that note, Governor. Do you feel like with – do you have

enough tests right now? Do you have modeling where you feel fairly

confident you have eyes on the virus right now and know where you are and

what you`re walking into?

 

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): No. That`s the simple answer. The fact of the

matter is, we`ve never had enough tests from the get-go and we still don`t.

And so, the modeling we`ve got – the University of Michigan, one of the

premier universities on the planet, some of the smartest people around are

helping us with modeling.

 

But without robust testing, those models are – there`s a lot of

speculation and all the best science in the world doesn`t replace knowing

precisely what`s happening through the – through that testing. And that`s

why it`s still a critical need here in Michigan and across our country.

There`s just not enough testing being done yet. We`re ramping up but it`s

not – it`s not there yet.

 

HAYES: I just want to underline that because testing in the country is very

uneven and in the aggregate has gone up to about 100,000 tests a day,

although it`s plateaued there which is worrying. And I`ve heard different

things for different areas. But you`re saying from your perspective in

Michigan, you don`t have enough tests right now.

 

WHITMER: No, we never have from the start. We don`t have enough PPE, we

don`t have enough testing. The testing is really crucial because when we

get to a place where we`re talking about ramping up our economy and it`s

not, Easter Sunday and it`s not going to be anytime in the very near

future, we have to have data. We have to know who has immunity. We have to

be able to really assess. Can we do that? And you have to have the tests in

order to be able to make any educated decision in the best interest of the

public health.

 

HAYES: There`s been some unnerving, harrowing news out of – out of your

state in terms of hospital capacity. This, of course, is what New York is

facing right now. And I wonder if you could illuminate for us the level of

concern you have about the beds, ICU, the frontline medical workers, and

ventilators. Do you have enough for what you`re about to enter into?

 

WHITMER: No, we don`t have enough. You know, we`ve seen exponential growth.

75 people died in the last 24 hours. This is something that we`re seeing

these numbers continue to climb. We`ve been really aggressive in terms of

making sure that we have a stay at home order that`s been in place a lot

longer than a lot of other states.

 

We`ve taken aggressive actions, shutting down bars before other states did,

taking kids out of school. These were things that are our best medical

advisors were saying we`ve got to do this. We took that action and yet,

we`re seeing COVID-19 has been spreading here. And part of the challenge

with testing, and part of the challenge with having frontline providers and

hospital beds is that COVID-19 is much more prevalent here in Michigan than

anyone even can tell right now because of that lack of testing. And so, we

are already stretched to the limit and we are on the upslope and will be

for a while.

 

HAYES: I have to say, Governor, you sound like someone who feels like

they`re fighting David versus Goliath match. I mean just in terms of your

affect and what you`re saying that you are fighting an enemy and are – and

don`t have the weapons you need, that you are you feel outmatched in the

state of Michigan at this point. Is that – is that fair?

 

WHITMER: Well, the reason that we got aggressive is we know the only real

tool that we have when there`s too little PPE and there`s too little

testing, the only real tool we have is trying to mitigate the spread by

staying away from one another. And we`re asking people to make sacrifices.

And yet, we know that when we`re able to get our National Stockpile

allotment, it`s nowhere near what we need.

 

So we`re trying to do all this contracting outside of the federal

government, and we`re getting undercut through competition with other

states or even with the federal government. Our big three and a number of

Michigan businesses are ramping up and, and that`s good. That will be

helpful, but it`s not going to be fast enough to save the lives that are

going to depend on it.

 

And so yes, it`s challenging and it`s alarming, and there are sad stories.

Each one of these people has a story and a family. And these are tough

times. We`re going to get through them, but these challenges are made much

worse because there has been consistent national strategy and we`ve got now

a patchwork of policies and it`s like fighting a – fighting a fight with

one hand tied behind our back.

 

HAYES: Final question for you, and I will stipulate this as probably not in

the top thousand of your concerns right now, but the president the other

day said that he advised Mike Pence not to call you, I think he`s referring

to, that that you know, he didn`t like your tone, he didn`t like complaints

of yours. What`s your reaction to that?

 

WHITMER: You know what, we – I don`t have time to fight anyone. I`m

fighting COVID-19. We can`t fight one another right now. We all have to be

focused on the enemy and that is the virus now one another. I need partners

in the federal government. And I have talked to President Trump since those

comments, and you know, I`ve talked to Mike Pence and I`ve talked to the

head of FEMA. We are on the phone all the time and working with our federal

partners.

 

But there`s just not enough there to help us. And that`s precisely why

we`re asking people to come into Michigan to volunteer, to help us because

we are in a battle right now. And we don`t have enough help.

 

HAYES: All right, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, we`re sending you all our best

from around the country. Thank you on a very, very busy day for making

time. I really, really appreciate it. Joining me now for more on what New

Jersey is doing to solve the surge of cases there is New Jersey Governor

Phil Murphy.

 

And Governor, I think New Jersey is slightly ahead of where Michigan is,

but I imagine that a lot of that probably sounds familiar to you in terms

of these issues with capacity and acquiring the equipment you need. Does

that – does that resonate with you? Is that – is that what you`ve

encountered?

 

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): Yes, it largely does, Chris. And I`m a big fan of

Governor Whitmer. And yes, we`re probably a little bit ahead. We`ve got

22,000 plus positive cases. Sadly, we`ve lost 355 of our blessed residents

here in the state. But listen, we still need more beds, we need more

ventilators, more personal protective equipment. We need to expand our

heroic healthcare workforce. This is a war that. There`s just no two ways

about it. And we`re doing everything we can to get out ahead of it as best

we can.

 

HAYES: Can I ask you – Governor Whitmer said this. I`ve heard Governor

Cuomo talk about this and Governor Lamont. And I`ve sort of been asking

every governor, because I`ve been doing reporting on this. Have you had the

same experience in trying to acquire say N-95, ventilator masks, other

pieces of personal protective equipment, or ventilators, this kind of weird

bidding war between states and the federal government and this kind of

unregulated marketplace with some slightly sketchy middlemen, I think, that

have cropped up. Is that – is that has been your experience in

procurement?

 

MURPHY: I think the slightly sketchy middleman is the understatement of the

year. The answer`s yes, it`s the Wild West. And these are crazy markets and

you got a lot of bad actors, unfortunately. So not only do you have the

factual bidding against each other and bidding prices up to crazy levels,

you`ve got some bad actors in here.

 

And as I`ve said many times, there`s a special place in hell right now, for

somebody who`s trying to take advantage of this crisis. And some of these

sketchy middlemen fit that description.

 

HAYES: I mean, there are governors who have – who have essentially thought

they had a deal only to find like an empty cargo or empty truck. I mean,

this is like the way that everyone is securing this, it`s so remarkable to

me that this vital needed thing is being a kind of catches catch can with

strange counterparties on the other side. That`s how you states like

yourself for provisioning.

 

MURPHY: Amen. Listen, that gets back to the federal government. We`ve

gotten PPE from the federal government from the strategic stockpile, a

number of installments. We`re grateful. We got 350 more ventilators today,

which we`re grateful for. But our asks remain significant relative to what

we`ve got.

 

Again, we`re in a war and New Jersey is part of the metro in the – in the

northern part of our state in particular. It`s part of the metro New York

story. And Governor Cuomo has said it, I`ve said it, we`re sort of the

canary in the coal mine. And no matter how well-functioning markets might

get, there`s no replacing the federal government and we need them in a big

way right now.

 

HAYES: There`s a – there were some questions today at the White House

about their decision not to open up nationally ObamaCare enrollment because

there are folks right now who don`t have health care and health insurance

and need it. I think your state is doing that.

 

Are you thinking about the insurance end of this, the payment end? The fact

that there`s going to be a lot of people who need a lot of care and they

may not be able to afford, they may not have the insurance for, that

hospitals are going to be bleeding money. How are you thinking about all

that?

 

MURPHY: Yes. Listen. We`ve taken a bunch of – it`s a very fair question,

Chris. We`ve taken a bunch of aggressive steps on the – on the insurance

fund to not make people have to burn through co-pays for testing, we want

the same for treatment. By the way, we`re establishing our own state

exchange for the Affordable Care Act, because we`ve set a lot of money down

and gotten very little back over the past number of years.

 

So this is going to be our first year in the enrollment period coming up.

We want to expand that period. The key thing here is everybody`s got to

come along with us. We can`t solve this virus if we – if we only solve for

part of our state, part of our citizenship part of our residents. We`ve got

to – we`ve got to make sure this works for everybody and making sure folks

feel they can afford it and they could go in without cost as a factor is a

huge part of solving this riddle.

 

HAYES: All right, Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey, I appreciate at the

end of a long day you taking time to speak with us and our viewers tonight.

 

MURPHY: I`m honored to be with you.

 

HAYES: Joining me now on how we can push back against the coronavirus and

make up for the lost time Carl Bergstrom. He`s a computational biologist at

the University of Washington. He`s been someone I`ve been following very,

very closely throughout this, author of the upcoming book Calling B.S.: The

Art of Skepticism in a data-driven world, which will be out this August.

 

Professor, let me I guess first start on this question of national policy.

Bill Gates has said basically, you need some kind of national policy. We

know in China and Italy, there was a regional solution first, and then a

national solution. And the U.S., I don`t think the President necessarily

has the ability to lock down the country. But is it your view that we need

essentially 50 states to be doing the same thing at the same time?

 

CARL BERGSTROM, BIOLOGY PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: Absolutely.

And I think that`s one of the points that Bill Gates stresses strongly in

his editorial is that we`ve got to have consistency across the country.

There`s enough movement in between states. We`re all in this together. And

so, we can`t be just solving it in a patchwork basis.

 

HAYES: You know, you had a long thread the other day. I mean, this is

something that you have – you`ve looked at computational modeling of this

sort of viral transmission for a long time. And as someone who spent years

in a subfield devoted to this, what is it – what is it – how does it

strike your ears when someone says no one could have seen this coming, this

came out of nowhere, and no one could have seen this coming?

 

BERGSTROM: Well, I mean, we knew for – we`ve known for many, many years

that there was a serious threat of a large-scale pandemic. We`ve known that

this is something that we needed to be preparing for. It`s something we

have been preparing for. There have been – you know, unfortunately, not

all of the apparatus that was put into place is still there.

 

So the thing we couldn`t have seen was it was going to be this particular

kind of virus coming out of this particular place and spreading this

particular way. But what we`ve known for a long time is that we`ve been

vulnerable to the risk of this kind of pandemic.

 

HAYES: Your modeling – you do a lot of modeling, and there`s a lot of wide

divergence in the models, because there`s a lot of unknowns. I think

there`s a lot of – obviously, there`s a lot of good faith efforts to try

to know the future, and we don`t know the future, a lot of unknowns.

 

I`m curious, the White House model they tried out yesterday, and now have

as this is kind of grim, almost unfathomably grim benchmark of 100,000,

American fatalities to 240,000. How do you make sense of that number as

someone who deals with comparative modeling in this space?

 

BERGSTROM: I mean, Chris, unfortunately, that`s in some ways, a best-case

scenario that we`re looking at this point. There are a couple of different

things that could happen. At this point, you can kind of imagine us going

down one of two different timelines. Along one of those timelines, we

managed to take strong action in the States. The actions are strong enough

to manage to suppress the virus, and we`re able to get it down to low

levels and then start to try to figure out how we can reemerge back into

our ordinary life, get the economy going, and so forth.

 

If you go along that best case, trajectory, that`s the model that the White

House is presenting to us. And so, on that best-case trajectory, yes, we`re

looking at 100,000 to 200,000 lives lost. And the thing that we have to

recognize is there`s also a worst-case trajectory, which is where we lose

control of the virus, we don`t manage to suppress it. Now it spreads more

or less out of control through the U.S. population, infecting, say, half to

a third – two-thirds of the U.S. population.

 

And if something like that happens, there are other models coming out of

for example, Imperial College that suggests that there we`d be looking at

losses of life more on the order of one to two million.

 

HAYES: But that worst-case scenario, I mean, my understanding is that is a

sort of do-nothing business as usual scenario. We do have most of the

nation locked down right now, right? I mean, we should anticipate that

we`re on at least the former trajectory now, correct?

 

BERGSTROM: We hope so. I mean, certainly, the measures that we saw today,

you know, locking down Florida was absolutely essential. There really

wasn`t a lot of hope without all the states coming onto board in terms of

shutdowns, you know, stay home orders and the likes. I think there`s still

an open question about whether we`re doing enough to make the virus stop

spreading and turn the pandemic around.

 

I mean, here in Seattle, we, I think, you know, are probably doing enough

but we actually still are too early on to be sure that our measures are

stringent enough. What was going on in Wuhan was substantially more

stringent control measures than what we`re doing now here in the U.S.

 

HAYES: Let me just follow up, final question on that. You know, the –

Wuhan, obviously, there`s sort of physical distancing, or spatial

distancing, or social distancing, whatever you want to call it, but in

Wuhan, there was – there was intense test and trace and required

quarantines. I mean, people were being removed from their household, being

brought to a quarantine space, things like that.

 

So you`re saying it`s an open question whether the virus can be bought

under control without that level of vigilance.

 

BERGSTROM: I certainly wouldn`t hope. I certainly hope we would not have to

go to anything like removing people from their families or anything like

that. But we might have to certainly increase the strangeness of the stay

at home measures. I mean, there`s still people out hanging out in groups in

the parks, you know, here in this – in this area, and maybe consider

shutting down more of the businesses that are going on maybe, you know, as

we learn more about what`s causing this to spread. You know, maybe looking

at different ways for food delivery, grocery, shopping, that kind of thing.

That those matters might be necessary, we just simply don`t know yet.

 

The good thing is by taking these intensive steps to flatten the curve as

we have in the country over the last few days, we`re buying ourselves time

to figure that out without letting things spiral completely out of control.

And I commend everyone for doing that.

 

HAYES: All right, Carl Bergstrom whose work has been essential during this

period, thank you so much for taking some time with us tonight.

 

BERGSTROM: Thank you very much. Good to talk to you, Chris. Take care.

 

HAYES: Before we had to break, a little bit of good news about a story I

brought you last night. You might remember, I talked to Connecticut

Governor Ned Lamont who warned us about an insurance cliff on April 1st –

that`s today – when thousands of people could lose insurance coverage. The

governor called us back tonight, wanted to let us know that they figured

out a solution to that problem.

 

Connecticut insurers have agreed to a 60-day grace period for premium

payments, policy cancellations, and non-renewals of insurance policies for

the next two months. No insurer in Connecticut may lapse or terminate a

covered insurance policy because a holder does not pay a premium or

interest during this time. A bit of good news we want her to share on the

first of April. Hopefully, this is a model other states will be able to use

going forward.

 

Next, 93 crew members of an American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier test

positive for coronavirus. The captain has pleaded to save the sailors`

lives and what we know about the evacuation of that ship after this.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

HAYES: Extraordinary scene today as American sailors were rescued off their

own ship. The Navy announced at least 93 crew members of the USS Theodore

Roosevelt tested positive for the coronavirus with hundreds of results

still pending. Secretary of the Navy said about a quarter of the 4,000 crew

numbers have been tested so far.

 

Tonight, the carrier is docked in Guam, about half the nuclear-powered

ship`s crew has been removed, and that emergency evacuation only came after

Roosevelt`s captain raised an alarm in a remarkable and brave four-page

letter to his Navy superiors laying out reasons for wanting to evacuate the

majority of his crew saying, “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to

die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most

trusted asset, our sailors.”

 

Joining me now is David Larter, he`s a naval warfare reporter at Defense

News. He`s been covering the story. He`s written several articles about the

Roosevelt and the military response to the coronavirus. First, tell me a

little bit about this ship, David, and how a nuclear-powered aircraft

carrier in the Pacific first was exposed to the virus.

 

DAVID LARTER, NAVAL WARFARE REPORTER, DEFENSE NEWS: Well, it`s a – it`s a

very big ship as anybody that can, you know, look at the pictures of the

carrier nose. It`s a crew of about 5,000 sailors, a little shy of that.

Maybe about 4800. And how do they got exposed is still kind of a mystery.

They were in port in Vietnam about 15 days before the first case popped.

 

But it`s unclear if that`s where they picked up the virus or if any number

of aircraft that fly on and off an aircraft, from shore bringing supplies,

bringing new crew members, any number of ways that the virus could have

gotten on board.

 

But I think the most important point is, and I think the captain makes it

in this letter, is that the environment that exists on those ships, sailors

in very close quarters, they sleep very close together. They work in very

close quarters. They – you know, their showering facilities are all very

close quarters, that it`s a very conducive environment for a virus.

 

HAYES: Yes, it`s – I mean, just based on the numbers, it sounds like it

just has torn through that ship, which is not surprising. I mean, like a

prison, or a nursing home, or you know, a ship, like those are all very

close quarters, are all contained environments, with a lot of reprocessed

air. The letter is really quite a document.

 

Explain the context for it, and in some ways for people that don`t know,

like how sort of brave it was for this captain to raise the alarm the way

he did.

 

LARTER:  I think there`s no doubt about that, Chris, right. I think they`ve

– anybody who follows the navy understands that what that captain did was

really put his career on the line. I think that they – that the navy is

very much for keeping things inside the lifelines and using the chain of

command like the military like any branch of the military would be, and the

fact that this got out is highly embarrassing to the navy and there is no

question about that.

 

But it`s certainly a letter that was written to be heard. And I think that

certainly the CNO and comments today, the chief naval operations, that`s

the head officer in the navy acknowledged that there could be a

communication breakdown between higher headquarters and what was going on

in that ship.

 

So, it was a remarkably brave letter to put it in such stark terms. You

said it a couple times now, that putting it through the terms that sailors

could die if no action is taken.

 

HAYES:  So you`ve got – I mean, this is one of, what are there 11 I think

in the fleet in terms of nuclear aircraft carriers, and obviously there is

a bunch of other ships. There are a bunch of bases around the world where

people are in fairly close quarters, not quite as close maybe as an

aircraft carrier.

 

You know, from the beginning of this, there was this reporting that Defense

Secretary Esper warned commanders not to surprise Trump on Coronavirus, but

you have got to think this is a real present threat throughout the entire

U.S. armed forces at this point.

 

LARTER:  Chris, I`ve written a little about this. And I think one of the

problems that the military is facing is a problem of its own culture, and

the higher echelons don`t want to micromanage, or dictate to lower level

commanders to sort of use – I think somebody referred to as a 5,000-foot

screwdriver to try to show individual commanders run their commands, but I

think as the Bill Gates piece that you`ve been citing mentions, everyone is

facing a common threat here. There is no unique circumstance. The virus is

going to infect who it infects.

 

And we know that if you`re in close quarters on a ship closing close to

each other and somebody has the virus, you`re probably going to spread that

to the person near you through coughing or through any other – you know,

so it`s remarkable to me that their instinct to punt to the lower echelons

on how you manage your command is actually working against it, at least in

this case.

 

HAYES:  Yeah, that is a fascinating institutional insight. David Larter,

who has been reporting on this. Great thanks.

 

Coming up, while the nation is grappling with the widespread impacts of a

global pandemic, the administration is still finding time to pursue policy

vendettas on everything from environmental regulations to dismantling

Obamacare. What they are doing behind the scenes, next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

HAYES:  The Trump administration`s response to the Coronavirus has been

defined by incompetence and deceit from the beginning. While they claim to

be focused on the crisis at hand, they have also been using the last month

to pursue all kinds of ideological and policy vendettas. They are turning

away migrants and asylum seekers at the southern border. They revoked the

reservation status of a Native American tribe the president had attacked

last year about their plans to build a casino. They are suspending the

enforcement of a range of health and environmental laws. Just yesterday,

the administration announced they are unilaterally rolling back fuel

efficiency standards for cars, the latest audacious move in a huge bruising

battle with the public interest groups and states like California, and the

automakers themselves who – many of whom oppose this. We`ve covered all

this on the show.

 

Because rolling back fuel economy standards is going to help our doctors

and nurses on the front lines get the protection they need, right? That`s

going to keep sick people`s lungs healthy when they`re gasping for air.

 

Oh, and don`t forget the fact that the Department of Justice is still

remains the fact currently in court suing to scrap the entirety of the

Affordable Care Act, all 2,000 pages, all of its protections. And not only

that, the Trump administration is refusing to open up Obamacare enrollment

for all the people who could probably really use some health insurance

right about now in the midst of a global pandemic.

 

Today, when Mike Pence was pressed by Fox News, of all places, on what

Americans without insurance will do during this Pandemic he basically had

no answer, but that`s because if, at least, you judge them by their actions

they genuinely do not care.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

HAYES:  The Coronavirus rescue package that was just passed by both houses

and signed by the president has a bunch of different components, right. So,

one them is a $350 billion loan/grant program for small businesses. And

that might be the hardest policy part of this bill to get right, because

you can give workers cash, or unemployment insurance, right. You can

bailout big businesses with all sorts of actions taken by the Fed and

they`re big and they have ways they can save themselves, but the millions

and millions of small businesses in America, right, how are they going to

be able to make it through?

 

It really it all depends on this program. Yesterday, the government put

this application form online, just a few pages long, looks fairly simple

and straightforward, so good on them for that. Here to talk about how this

program is going to work, MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle.

 

All right, Stephanie, so everyone is wondering what is going to happen to

small businesses. This is a lot of money, $350 billion. What does it – how

does the program work? Like how do you apply if you`re the pizzeria owner

around the corner from me who I love, like he doesn`t have any business.

How does he apply?

 

STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC ANCHOR:  So the Paycheck Protection Program, Mark

Cuban calls this thing free money and has urged every small business in

America – and remember, that`s any company with 500 people or less. It is

being run out of the SBA and listen, with the idea that if you simply put

people on unemployment and don`t care for all of these small businesses, we

got 30 million small businesses in this country, if you don`t do something

to ensure they stay afloat, then when we get on the other side of this, all

of these people on unemployment are not going to have anywhere to go back

to work to.

 

Most companies don`t have two and three months of liquidity sitting around.

So, you are entitled to this, if – and let me just say it`s 100 percent

forgivable – it a disaster relief basically loan. You can spend the money

on anything related to your business and you don`t have to pay this loan

back provided you keep 100 percent of your payroll.

 

Now, if you already laid people off, you have to hire them back if you want

to get the loan forgiven. But here is one of the biggest issues here, it`s

hard to figure out. The SBA is running it. Last year, the SBA had 3,000

employees. There were 58,000 loans granted. Now, we`re talking about $350

billion and tens of millions of businesses who are desperate to get these

loans.

 

Now, it`s being run out of 1,800 banks that have existing relationships

with the SBA, but I invite you to call any small business you own, and I

don`t mean small businesses that have three and four tax lawyers and their

own accounting firms. I mean, the guy who runs a pizzeria around the corner

from you. He`s calling 16 different banks, and I promise you they`re

telling him they don`t have all the forms yet.

 

That application that you just saw, very few people have actually seen it.

And no one has said you can`t just call a bank, you must call the bank that

you have an existing relationship with.

 

So much like how are we going to get unemployment benefits to the millions

of people that are calling and getting busy signals or trying to apply and

the websites are crashing. Yes, this is a really good idea. And when this

money gets to these businesses, it could be great, but the question is when

the heck is it getting there?

 

And I`ll tell you this, with that much money you know there is going to be

fraud. You know there`s going to be waste. When TARP happened, OK, they

only had to give money to a little over 700 businesses. And logistically,

it was a disaster. How this is going to work out remains to be seen.

 

HAYES:  Yeah, it`s a great – just the key thing I think for us to keep

reporting on, because the concept is sound, I think. The policy

architecture, it is one of those devil in the details kind of things.

There`s also the president today – yeah, the president today also had a –

he had a tweet about like he`s going to bring the restaurant business back

by allowing businesses to expense their business lunches, I think? And then

he talked about it again today – with you rolling your eyes – but, yeah,

“pass the old and very strongly proven, deductibility by businesses on

restaurants and entertainment. This will bring restaurants and everything

related, back – and stronger than ever. Move quickly, they will all be

saved.”

 

This doesn`t seem very likely to me. What is your take on this?

 

RUHLE:  This is absolutely insane, OK? 99. 9 percent of restaurants in this

country don`t have any corporate business. There were no big businesses

that said to the administration if only we were able to deduct our $10,000

closing dinners, if only we could do that, then man, we would help fuel the

restaurant industry.

 

No, this goes straight to the president`s sensibility that this ain`t 1988

at Sparks serving steaks to 15 dudes and red wine and then all heading over

to Scores West. It`s ridiculous.

 

And as somebody who spent 15 years of her life at those closing dinners,

working in investment banking, I can promise you this, there is no business

today that is saying man, we would be making so much more money, we would

be helping our customers, we would be helping the consumer, if only we

could have massive dinners where truffles were falling from the sky and we

could get a tax deduction.

 

HAYES:  Exactly. Yeah, I don`t think that`s in the top 10,000 priorities

for anyone right now.

 

Stephanie Ruhle, it is always a pleasure. Come back soon.

 

RUHLE:  Thank you.

 

HAYES:  Coming up, what happens when we hand the government over to people

incapable of doing its core function – managing large risks. It`s the

central question at the center of author Michael Lewis` prescient book “The

Fifth Risk” and he joins me next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

HAYES:  The risk of a global pandemic that goes across the entire world,

kills millions of people, it`s one of those things we call a tail risk,

meaning the probability being rare, but devastating event, right, a thing

that`s not likely to happen on any given day, but over enough time and

might in the future and would be terrible if it did.

 

Managing tail risks is one of the central things that governments do. The

president is notoriously bad at it. Back in 2018, his White House got rid

of the National Security Council`s pandemic team. Just last year, they

ignored warnings of their own government, which ran an exercise simulating

a pandemic and predicting precisely the problems we face now.

 

Author Michael Lewis`s latest book “The Fifth Risk” is about the one risk

that you fail to imagine.

 

And joining me now is the author of that book. Michael Lewis, who is also

the host of the Podcast “Against the Rules,” and who today has a

fascinating piece in Bloomberg entitled “A Coronavirus fix that passes the

smell test.”

 

Michael, it`s great to have you here.

 

I have been thinking about you a lot as this plays out. Your book is all

about civil servants in the government who think about these kind of

problems all the time and someone running the government who just doesn`t

care. And I am curious what are you make of watching all this play out

having written this book a year ago?

 

MICHAEL LEWIS, AUTHOR:  You know, it`s been – I mean, at the same time it

is very sad to watch the way he has handled it. It was entirely

predictable. Look, I think you go right back to the transition when they

walk in, he fired the 700 or 800 people who was meant to go in and get the

briefing from the Obama administration and understand how this enterprise

worked. And that never happened.

 

So, this transfer of any kind of felt experience, a felt experience of what

it is like to manage a pandemic, it never happened, and it never happened

because he was entirely indifferent. And I think that`s a – it is a really

curious psychological trait. I mean, if you or I happened by accident to

get elected to be president, we would both panic and want to know

everything we needed to know and worry about all the bad things happening,

right, all of that. And the idea that you don`t prepare at all and that you

don`t get to know this mechanism, this one tool for dealing with these

catastrophic risks, it`s kind of amazing. And I mean, I think that – that

we can probably talk for hours about what goes inside the mind of Donald

Trump that enabled him to do that.

 

But, the reason – I mean, tens of thousands of people are going to die in

this country because of the lack of – his lack of interest in engaging

with the tool for protecting people. And this just happened to be the thing

that happened, this pandemic, but you could go across – there across the

federal government, there are dozens and dozens of really kind of dangerous

situations that are being managed that if they are mismanaged, really,

really bad things happen.

 

And if any of the other ones would happened, I assume we would have a

similar sort of situation.

 

HAYES:  You know part of it, and I don`t want to say psychologize here, but

it`s been striking to me watching this, is that the – what is an adaptive

trait in, say, New York City real estate, which is being a confident BS

artist and saying whatever you need to say and saying, oh, it is all going

to work out and hoping it does work out, and never think of the worse case

scenario is literally the opposite of what you want in this case, right?

 

What you want someone who thinks about the worse case scenario?

 

LEWIS:  Well, if you have gone through your entire life with a kind of –

with the sense that no matter what happens, no matter what the facts are,

you can tell a story that is going to put you in a good light, that you can

– that – it is an unbelievable faith in narrative, if you think about it,

it`s a faith he has in storytelling, that trump`s the facts, that trump`s

knowledge, that trump`s the truth. That you can go – you can come in after

the fact and invent whatever story you want and sell it first to yourself,

right, but to those around you. That is the precondition for this

situation.

 

Because that`s why he was able to ignore the federal government because in

the back of his mind is whatever happens, I can tell a story. And you can

see it happening, right. You can see it happening. And the story will

evolve. And you can bet that six months from now, this two-month period

where they completely screwed up their response to this thing, is going to

be – we`re going to hear a completely different story about what actually

happened.

 

HAYES:  You got a fascinating piece today as we sort of continue as you

heard – I don`t know, if you heard beginning of the show, governors still

talking about testing shortages of an interesting piece of data that might

be indicative of where things are popping up before testing. Explain the

idea here.

 

LEWIS:  So two leading British ENT doctors have published – have sent a

letter to their colleagues saying, look, it is not only a symptom of the

Coronavirus, but it is an early symptom and sometimes it`s a symptom when

there is no other symptoms. So, the kind of people who might be walking

around with it not knowing they have it have this symptoms, and it is the

loss of a sense of smell.

 

And they spent a lot of time talking to doctors around the world. They did

their best to grind some stats and I think they came up with it 80 percent

of the people who get the Coronavirus lose their sense of smell, often

early, and that it`s – I `m sorry, 30 or 60 percent who get the

Coronavirus have lost their sense of smell. But if you have it, if you have

the Coronavirus, there is a very likely chance this has happened.

 

And in the absence of tests, and without the testing – the big problem is

you can`t analyze where thing is going. This might be a very crude

substitute, both for people to self-diagnose and isolate, but also – and

this is the idea of a former Wall Street risk manager named Peter Hancock,

it is a very good idea, that you can crowd source this information, you can

get people to go online and say I can`t smell. And that – that would first

get a lot of people off the street, you shouldn`t be on the street, and it

would also give you a kind of map of the population – a populationwide map

of the disease, which is what we are lacking.

 

You know the fact we are lacking this data in this country is the most

amazing thing, because we have been in every other aspect of our lives data

obsessed. You know, everything from baseball teams to political campaigns,

depend on the data. And we have a government that has failed to collect the

data.

 

So, the idea is you find it kind of a crude hack to substitute for the

failure of the federal government.

 

HAYES:  Michael Lewis, whose book “The Fifth Risk” is out now. It`s a great

book. I`d recommend it. Thank you so much for making time tonight.

 

LEWIS:  Thanks, Chris.,

 

HAYES:  That is all for this evening. “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right

now. Good evening, Rachel.

 

 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.

END   

 

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