Coronavirus deaths TRANSCRIPT: 3/9/20, The Beat w/ Ari Melber

Tiffany Cross, Richard Farley, Dennis Kelleher, Natalie Azar, Jeremy Konyndyk

MSNBC HOST: In the meantime, “THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER” starts



Hi there, Ari. Twice in one day. Lucky us.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Twice in one day. Good to see you both times, Katy.


TUR: You, too.


MELBER: Appreciate you.


We are, of course, keeping an eye on this looming White House Briefing

Room, where we expect President Trump to join his coronavirus team for this

news conference on the growing outbreak.


Indeed, you can see all the preparations that suggest this is imminent.

They have moved the timing once. We will bring it to you.


The virus, want to tell you, has now been reported in 34 states, over 600

cases, and 26 deaths. And the very thing the Trump White House had said it

feared, bad news leading to a market scare over all of this, well, it came

in earnest today, the worst market drop in over a decade.


The decline was so steep that trading was actually frozen for about 15

minutes this morning just to calm the market panic. Americans also watched

this scene unfold at an Oakland port. Passengers are being isolated there

tonight. Several had tested positive for the virus.


These scenes are extra striking considering new reports that question the

president and his administration`s handling of key aspects of this crisis.


Take a look at, for example, a simple headline from the AP that notes the

White House overruled CDC recommendations that were designed to protect

elderly people to keep them from flying on commercial planes due to the

risk they face from this virus.


I want to bring in immediately Dr. Natalie Azar, who is from New York`s

Langone Hospital and an analyst and expert for us, as we await this press



Everyone knows how that works. We may dive into it at any time it begins.


But, bottom line, for people trying to make sense of how bad is it, and how

much do they change their daily lives?



right now what is happening – and this is straight from the surgeon

general`s mouth – is that there is a little butt of a shift what we are

calling containment to what we refer to as mitigation.


So, in the containment phase, the hope is that you`re still able to halt an

outbreak in its tracks by first identifying individuals who are infected,

isolating them, and then contact tracing them.


You can no longer effectively do that in a widespread area once you have

community spread, which is when the disease is being passed among people

without obvious exposure history or without a direct link to an index case.


After – so you can contain perhaps in clusters, but you can no longer

broadly contain. What you then need to do is start to mitigate. Those

examples of that include the social distancing that we have heard of now.

It`s also – and those things could be examples like, you know, staggering

commuting times, staggering the work force, for example, making a guidance

that older individuals with underlying medical problems no longer go to

large gatherings, where there`s an increased risk of exposure and disease

transmission, those kinds of things that are really disruptive to our

lives, school closings, for example, but don`t necessarily mean that the

people are ill.


It`s just a major prophylactic measure.


MELBER: I want to play for you what we heard from a former FDA commissioner

here, because there`s been a lot of different talk about just what level of

decisions and what level of magnitude people should take, particularly

policy-makers. Take a look.




DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: No state and no city wants to

be the first to basically shut down their economy, but that`s what`s going

to need to happen. States and cities are going to have to act in the

interest of the national interests right now to prevent a broader epidemic.


MARGARET BRENNAN, HOST, “FACE THE NATION”: Shut down their economy? You



GOTTLIEB: Close businesses, close large gatherings, cancel events.


I think we need to think about, how do we provide assistance to the people

in these cities who are going to be hit by hardship?




MELBER: Is that where we are?


AZAR: You know, I think even he said – and I listened to that interview

earlier today. You know, nobody likes this – I think we get uncomfortable

in this country with the idea of those draconian measures. We have used

that word a lot in the last couple of days of these massive lockdowns and

things like that.


But they are effective. And whether that means in a community you`re

closing a few businesses and a few schools, as opposed to large swathes of

the country. But I think he makes a good point that, you know, the

financial ramifications of that for businesses is definitely something that

needs to be taken into consideration.


It`s just not that easy for folks to just, you know, not be at work for two

weeks. And if that – that shouldn`t be the litmus test or the rate limiter

here, right? The public health push is the thing that should be guiding

this, not financial issues.


MELBER: Sure. And…


AZAR: Easier said than done, though. This is unprecedented.




MELBER: And financial issues are part of what rattled the markets today.


AZAR: Exactly.


MELBER: So you`re taking a hit, at least on paper either way, right?


AZAR: Right.


MELBER: The question of – well, go ahead.


AZAR: No, I was just going to say, you know, I mean, this – you know, to

say whether or not we can do this in this country, I`m getting e-mails from

my children`s school, you know, making – how are we going to deal with



We`re going to do online schooling and things like that. So I think, almost

in every sector, there`s been a mobilization to say, what are we going to

do in the event that we have closures or this or that?


Even in the hospital, we`re having designated folks in our department who

are going to be responsible for taking care of patients with COVID, so that

we`re not exposing the entire work force to sick patients.


MELBER: Right.


Stay with me.


I want to bring in Jerusalem, the director of the Office of Foreign

Disaster Assistance under President Obama. He helped lead the U.S. response

to Ebola. He`s now at Georgetown, has joined us before.


And I`m going to tell viewers, we are actually going to be doing what we

tend to do around here sometimes, which is more than one story.


It looks like the briefing may be further delayed. We have a lot of other

stuff in our plans for THE BEAT tonight, including some breaking news on

the 2020 race, which, of course, has been affected by the markets.


We have a lot of other stuff in our plans for THE BEAT tonight including

breaking news on the 2020 race, which, of course, have been affected by the



So, we have a lot of things brewing.


But I want to also bring you into the medical conversation here. Your

response to what you just heard, and these criticisms of the Trump

administration that they are overruling the scientific experts, at least to

some degree?


JEREMY KONYNDYK, FORMER USAID OFFICIAL: Well, look, I think it`s been clear

for a very long time that at least the White House`s preferences were very

out of step with the public health expertise that they were being given,

that the president has been out of step on very basic things like how

vaccines work, the timeline it will take for us to get vaccines.


So it`s not altogether surprising, but it`s still, as a former government

official, really jarring to see the White House overruling public health

experts on a public health issue.


MELBER: Let me read to you “The New York Times” discussing some of the

challenge here.


Mr. Trump – quote – “who`s at his strongest politically when he has a

human enemy” – that`s how they put it – to attack, has seemed less

certain of how to take on an invisible killer, the role of calming natural

leader not one that has come easily.”


Other than him getting out of the way or refraining from spreading

misinformation, is there something proactive that you would like to see a

leader of the country do at a time like this?


KONYNDYK: Well, I think it has to start with being honest and clear-eyed

and candid about the risk we face.


And I think the White House is not only failing to level with the American

people. It`s failing to level with itself. And that is hugely damaging. You

can`t have an effective strategy to fight something if you won`t

acknowledge what it is that you`re fighting and the risk that it poses.


MELBER: And, finally, I want to give you a chance to do something that we

have had every expert do each day, because people are watching at different

times, living their lives.


What is it you tell everyone to do, regardless of where they`re located in

the country, to keep themselves and their families as safe as possible, if

they still have to live a life and go to a job?




Well, the obvious thing that everyone needs to do is practice good hand

hygiene, wash your hands, don`t touch your face. That`s the basic and

that`s the most protective thing you can do. And then, beyond that, it

really depends on kind of your own personal risk factors.


Are you older? Are you younger? Do you have medical complications? And

everyone needs to adjust based on that.


I think the challenge right now is, they`re not getting a lot of actionable

guidance from the federal government on how to do that. And that`s a gap I

hope they will start filling tonight.


MELBER: What I want to do now, as promised to viewers, is tell everyone

exactly what`s going to happen.


Both of our esteemed doctor experts will rejoin us. We`re told that this

press conference is a little bit delayed, but still likely happening in the

hour. So you have gotten the latest news. You have gotten some medical

expertise. I`m going to come back to them as we follow that story.


There is a lot of other stuff going on, including a race that could

literally decide who is going to run against Donald Trump as president,

because we`re now hours away from the next multistate primary day.


And everyone remembers how the last one changed everything. Well, voters in

six states had to these polls tomorrow, and they are going to now face this

two-person race with a clear delegate front-runner.


You see right here Biden now has roughly 75 more delegates than Sanders.

Tomorrow`s delegate haul, we should note, is wider than the margin that

separates them, over 300 delegates at stake, the most of which are in

Michigan, where a new poll shows Biden now 15 points up.


Now, later this hour, Biden will hold a Detroit rally with Senators Booker

and Harris, which rounds out an interesting show of unity. This is

something I can report for you tonight that we couldn`t have said even days



And depending on how you`re situated, you will think it`s either a really

great thing for Joe Biden or, as the Sanders campaign argues, a sign of

business as usual in the Democratic Party.


But we can now tell you, every top Democratic candidate who has dropped out

and endorsed anyone has now chosen Joe Biden.




SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): Will you stand with me now for Joe Biden? Will you

stand with me right now in the name of healing?




BOOKER: Will you stand with me right now in the name of light? Will you

stand with me for a statesman? Will you stand with me here for a man that

has shown he is with us, he is part of us, he will never look down on us?

He will lift us up.




MELBER: There you have it.


I want to bring in Tiffany Cross, co-founder of The Beat D.C., also a

fellow at Harvard`s Institute of Politics.


And we will be discussing 2020, with an eye on the coronavirus briefing

when it commences, which I`m told will be in a little while.


First of all, good evening. Nice to see you.


TIFFANY CROSS, THE BEAT D.C.: Nice to see you, Ari. Glad to be here.


MELBER: Well, what do you think of this clear consolidation around Joe

Biden by basically everyone who`s run and decided, Senator Warren being the

top-tier candidate who hasn`t picked anyone?


CROSS: Well, I think people saw South Carolina as an indicator of where

this race is going to go.


Look, I think Sanders, for the people who are hard-core in that wing, they

don`t necessarily reflect the rising majority of America. And so,

sometimes, people confuse that for this overwhelming love for Joe Biden.

And I don`t know that that`s true, Ari.


I think there is some concern about Joe Biden, but they looked at these two

choices and said, look, if this is a soldier we have to take to wars

against Donald Trump, we`re going to go with him.


I think sometimes Sanders prioritizes economic inequality over racial

inequality. And that doesn`t sit well with the base of the party. We saw in

New Hampshire and Iowa that he actually wasn`t able to expand his coalition

of voters.


So the whole narrative around him being able to inspire this huge coalition

didn`t really come to fruition. And so it`s not that people are

overwhelmingly in love with Joe Biden, but it`s a vote against Donald

Trump. And people have to – they`re fearful. They want to go to war with

the best candidate, and they have clearly decided that Joe Biden is that



MELBER: Well, it`s interesting you mention that potential conflict or

disparity between whether you`re talking about economic justice, writ

large, or specifically civil rights and racial justice, which has loomed

over all of this, as Jim Clyburn and a lot of voters, including in a

diverse coalition, have backed Joe Biden, which is exactly something we

wanted to ask you about.


You have Biden`s surge among African-American voters. They powered his

comeback in South Carolina and beyond.


So, Tiffany. Stay with me, I want to mention a few things.


First of all, Bernie Sanders hasn`t fared as well in some of these other

states. He did just win over, though, a pioneering civil rights activist

and longtime liberal, Reverend Jesse Jackson.





because he`s never lost his taste for justice for the people.




JACKSON: I stand with him because he stands with you.






MELBER: And while Biden`s grassroots support is key, as we have noted,

there are still questions about his plans going forward, many advocating

for diversity, for example, in the running mate selection.


And we want to play something that happened on MSNBC today.


Charlamagne, a radio host who interviews a lot of different candidates as

part of “The Breakfast Club” radio show, was arguing that Biden also needs

to now define a specific – quote – “black agenda.”




CHARLAMAGNE, “THE BREAKFAST CLUB”: I want a specific agenda, especially

from somebody like Joe Biden.


Joe Biden, black people saved his life in the past couple of weeks. I mean,

his campaign would be dead if it wasn`t for our O.G. Jim Clyburn in South

Carolina endorsing him and all those black voters in the South going out

and voted for him.


Plus, you were the vice president for the first black president. You, in

particular, definitely need to have a black agenda.




MELBER: Tiffany?


CROSS: Yes, so I echo Charlamagne`s point. And I think that will happen.


But, listen, I think what people are looking to is, who is going to have a

debt to owe to black voters and who will prioritize that?


And I think, for most of those people who considering that, it`s Joe Biden.

Look, I don`t want to dismiss Reverend Jesse Jackson. I think the sacrifice

and things that he`s done for this country are nothing to just dismiss.


But I don`t know that the – an endorsement from Jesse Jackson carries the

weight that it once did. I think, if this were the `80s, that perhaps Jesse

Jackson`s endorsement would mean something.


But, remember, Jesse Jackson was chased out of Baltimore during the Freddie

Gray riots. There are some people who feel like he no longer speaks for

them. I`m not saying that. But, certainly, there are younger activists who

feel that way.


So I don`t know what that endorsement necessarily does for him. I take your

point, though. I think a lot of this is going to depend on the bottom half

of this ticket? Who is going to be you`re running mate.


And I think that if Bernie Sanders wants to distinguish himself and do

something stand out, he could name his running mate now. The same for Joe

Biden. They really need somebody who could be the Sarah Palin to their

ticket, obviously with much more deep intellectual capacity, but somebody

who could incite – or excite the base and bring people out to be excited

to see them, because I don`t know that people are so excited about either

of these two candidates.


And I think the policy debates are – they only resonate with, I think,

cable newsrooms. I think, when it gets out to voters and the base, they

want somebody that they say, you know what, this person speaks for me, I`m

going to put my weight behind this candidate.


And either candidate right now can do that. I also want to say quickly,

Ari, it was a mistake for Sanders, I think, to skip Selma, to skip

Mississippi that also votes tomorrow. And I just don`t think the base of

the party views those things in a positive light.


So he has to make a better argument to people of how he`s going to appeal

to the base of Democratic voters. And I just don`t think that happened. He

has to stop the establishment talk, because that sounds dismissive towards

the voters who help empower Joe Biden.


And what Joe Biden saw, every single time that he`s run from 2008 to this

time, even in the `80s, he has needed a black kingmaker to crown him. So

his V.P. ticket will have to be consistent with that, if he wants to secure

this nomination.


MELBER: You made a string of interesting points, that Joe Biden has to

dance with who brung you. Since we`re talking about the south, I will do my

best Southern quote.


But that also, in your analysis, the Sanders campaign, you`re arguing, may

have misfired in places, reaching for endorsements that don`t actually

address what you call the younger or generational African-American concern.


And then Selma, another example where that means a lot to a lot of people.

And, as you say, you notice and you`re telling us you think other people

may have noticed the absence. So all really interesting nuance in a race

that is a two-person race.


Tiffany Cross, always good to see you.


CROSS: Likewise, Ari.


MELBER: Thank you.


So, here`s where we go from here.


Ahead, President Trump expected to speak inside this press conference about

coronavirus on a tough day for his administration, for the markets and a

lot of concerns around the country.


Also tonight, we have planned a special debate in this primary race with

two very different economic agendas.


And later in the show, an announcement about THE BEAT out in the field. So,

stay tuned.


I`m Ari Melber.


We will be right back.




MELBER: Quick live look at the White House, where the coronavirus is

expected later this hour.


But, right now, we want to get into how the fears over the virus are

affecting the economy, including sending markets plummeting today,

continuing a slump.





industrial average dropped 1,192 points in one day. That`s the largest

single-day point drop in the Dow ever.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wall Street`s worst weak since the financial crisis of



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This could sink us into a recession.


LESTER HOLT, NBC ANCHOR: The Dow losing another 357 points in a weeklong

market meltdown.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Investors fear another day of big losses on Wall Street

after oil markets plunged overnight.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of these stocks are falling because of the worries

about the coronavirus.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Historic day for the markets. You can see the damage

that`s already been done so far there.




MELBER: And the damage continued.


For many stocks, today`s plunge was the worst since the financial crash of

2008, which spurred its own economic debate over conservative free market

policy vs. a more liberal government role.


And many argue the support for both Trump and Sanders involves some echoes

from that crash and the response. Will these new market jitters bring

people towards Sanders or add to fears about his vision for shaking up

capitalism as we know it?


Well, the senator has been arguing that his Democratic socialism is

fundamentally about confronting corporate power to restore economic






socialism is about is saying that it is immoral and wrong that the top one-

10th of 1 percent, 90 percent, own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90





MELBER: The specifics of that platform involve more targeted taxes on

wealth, free public college and Medicare for all.


Now, this debate is about ideas, but also words and associations.


Sanders backer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently explained Democratic

socialism, she argues, follows in a very mainstream tradition of nonprofit

programs that are already quite popular, from libraries to firefighters.




REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Some of the most popular policies and

things that we have are not capitalist, Medicare, Medicaid, Social

Security, libraries, public schools, firefighters, infrastructure. None of

these things were built because they come at a profit.


We don`t – we have decided that some things are sacred.




MELBER: That`s the liberal side of the Democratic Party`s debate right now,

while, in the center, Joe Biden stands by capitalism, offering some more

moderate social programs, like community college funding, support for

private insurance`s approach in Obamacare, and some taxes on the wealthy.


But Democratic voters have been rushing towards Biden, towards that

alternative, which powers his delegate lead. And while politicos obsess

sometimes over electability, many people are focused on how this now stark

choice could impact their lives, their health care, their savings, their

kids` college plans.


While we keep score of the delegates, let`s be clear. This is not a game

with a score for most people.


In a political system that does often exaggerate even small differences,

let`s be clear, this primary is now down to two completely different



And here we are on primary eve.


And we want to bring in an important discussion these substantive issues.


I`m joined by a Wall Street lawyer and the author of the book “Wall Street

Wars,” Richard Farley, who has taken a position against much of what Bernie

Sanders stands for, and Dennis Kelleher, the president of Better Markets, a

nonpartisan and nonprofit group that promotes economic security, but is

much more supportive of government regulation and what is often called

liberal economics.


I will mention neither of you are formal surrogates for any particular

candidate, but you have different views.


Thanks for doing this conversation.




MELBER: Richard, I hope you don`t mind me calling you a Wall Street lawyer.


RICHARD FARLEY, WALL STREET ATTORNEY: By all means. I think that`s



MELBER: It`s very accurate.




MELBER: And you look the part.


What`s wrong with democratic socialism?


FARLEY: Well, again, I think you need to be careful on your definitions.


Obviously, public libraries, I think we can all argue, is a good use of the

government dollar. The question is, we need to draw the lines and what is

going to be most effective in our system for the best good to the greatest

number of people.


MELBER: When you look at the market troubles today, do you think that helps

or hurts what Sanders wants to do?


FARLEY: Yes. I think it`s too early to tell.


The election is in one day, right? And if you want to talk about the

primaries, I think, frankly, the Democratic Party has made it choice. And

it`s going to be Joe Biden.


MELBER: We saw a report today from Axios, thinly sourced, that claimed

among potential treasury secretaries for Joe Biden would be J.P. Morgan

Chase big Wall Street bank CEO Jamie Dimon.


FARLEY: Well, I hope he`s…




MELBER: The Biden camp – Biden folks say it`s too early to get into that,

although that was floated. They sort of tamped it down.


Is that a good choice?


FARLEY: I think it would be.


Now, he`s had some health issues recently. So whether he would want to take

on that job is for him to decide.


MELBER: But putting a banker in charge of the Treasury Department?


FARLEY: I think that would be a very good choice, yes.


MELBER: Dennis?


KELLEHER: Well, I mean, look, let`s face it.


Hank Paulson, who was the CEO of Goldman Sachs, did such a fantastic job in

the years before 2008. And I can`t remember if there`s a big event in

September of 2008 that happened on his watch, after years of massive

deregulation and the misguided ideology that what was best for Wall Street

was good for Main Street.


And, of course, the 2008 crash was the worst crash since 1929. And it gave

us the worst economy since the Great Depression. And, in fact, many of the

bad ripple effects of that economy, we`re living with today and explain a

lot to do with both Trump and Sanders and the debate we`re having.


MELBER: What do you say to voters? And we have heard this from Democratic

voters, self-described liberals, who will say they are fearful of how much

change democratic socialism would force on the economy or their lives.


KELLEHER: Well, anybody who gets elected really needs three plans, A, B,

and C.


A is, if you have supermajorities in the Congress and you win the White

House. Plan B is if you have the White House, and the opposition party has

the Congress. And plan C is if you have the White House, one party has what

the House, one party has the Senate.


The truth is, if Bernie Sanders gets elected, democratic socialism is not

sweeping the country and like-minded people are not getting elected to take

over the House and the Congress. And, therefore, he`s going to have to deal

with a political reality of people who do not agree with him.


They may Republicans in the majority in one or both houses or not. But

that`s not going to change things.


What he is focused on…




MELBER: Let`s me bring in Richard. And then I`m get you guys going.




MELBER: I will bring in Richard.


Dennis is sort of making the argument that, instead of good cop/bad cop,

you have socialist cop and capitalist cop, and it`s a little more liberal

at the White House. What is wrong with that?




FARLEY: I think you don`t vote for someone on the basis of their policies

not being enacted.


I think you have to – I think you have to assume that they`re going to

fight tooth and nail to get their policies enacted. I would agree with him

that the nation would be much better off if there was a check on Bernie

Sanders. I think that`s called Joe Biden.


We don`t have to worry about who controls the House and the Senate. But I

would also go back to say, I think we were pretty lucky in 2008 that we had

Bernanke and Paulson and Geithner, because I think their handling of that -

- and, frankly, that we had Barney Frank in the House and Chris Dodd in the

Senate – because I think the way that crisis was handled, in many ways,

was a textbook for how you handle a financial crisis.


MELBER: Dennis?




MELBER: Let me go to Dennis and then back to you, Dennis and then you.


KELLEHER: Well, as somebody who was a Wall Street lawyer for almost 20

years and a senior Senate staffer for about eight years, including during

the financial – the lead-up to the crash, during the crash, and during

Dodd-Frank, I`m going to reserve my judgments on how lucky we were or were

not to have a bunch of bankers running the administration, whichever

administration it was.


I think that we leave labels aside and leave candidates aside for a minute.

What we have to focus on is that we have 90 percent of the American people

are economically worse off today than they were in 2007.


There are statistics all over the place that show that. We also have a

financial system that`s supposed to support the real economy. But what we

have is a financial system that`s largely a wealth extraction system for

the few, rather than a wealth creation system for the many.




KELLEHER: And that`s what Joe Biden and Sanders have to focus.




FARLEY: I don`t disagree with that.


MELBER: The other piece I want to get you both on, of course, is the

endless tax debate.


A lot of Democrats feel that Republicans are constantly running on cutting

taxes, whether they do it or not, or fairly or not, and Democrats seem to

always be splitting the difference, except for this democratic socialist,

Bernie Sanders, who has been quite open about the fact that rich people`s

taxes are going to go up a lot and other people`s taxes may go up a bit.


Is that a good and sustainable economic policy argument, Dennis and then



KELLEHER: Running – tax cuts and deregulation aren`t a policy. They`re

actually sound bites that substitute for policy.


The question is, what is your objective? And how is it going to achieve the

outcome you want? If what you want is a Main Street economy that lifts

everybody up that has broad-based prosperity and opportunity, tax cuts

aren`t going to get you there. Neither is deregulation.


So what you need, what both Biden and Sanders need are policies that

actually are going to have broad-based prosperity, rather than what you

have now, which is massive transfer of wealth from almost everybody to the

top. That`s not sustainable.


MELBER: What you`re talking, and what you`re saying in plain English is



This, Richard, is the argument. The people who have the ability to get the





MELBER: … it`s corrupt, and it`s unfair, and that why, if you actually

had a harsher system, it would be more fair.


I want to play a little Sanders for you, where – people credit him for

being very clear about what he wants to do. But he says, look, if it was

the rates in the Eisenhower era, what`s so bad about that? Take a look.




QUESTION: How high would you go? You have said before you would go above 50

percent. How high?


SANDERS: We haven`t come up with an exact number yet, but it will not be as

high as the number under Dwight D. Eisenhower, which was 90 percent.


But it will be…




SANDERS: I`m not that much of a socialist compared to Eisenhower.




FARLEY: Well, the truth of the matter, Ari, is, the rates were 90, but

nobody paid it, because you had a system ridden with loopholes, and

everyone – every person out there went out and bought a L.P. interest and

an oil well and got depletion allowances.


If you look at the effective rate, what people actually paid, it was

obviously much lower than that for the overwhelming majority of people.


But let`s put the tax issue off to one side and say, what is the government

going to do to stimulate growth, create high-paying jobs and get the sort

of economy that Dennis and I both want?


We have the 10-year Treasury note at less than 75 basis points. It was as

low as 50. Now is the time for the government to go out and borrow for an

infrastructure program, issue 30-year bonds, issue 100-year bonds, and take

that money and make the investments in infrastructure that we – that both

parties agree have to get done.




FARLEY: It`s the cheapest financing in the history of the…




MELBER: Hold on. Hold on. You think doing that, though, with just straight-

up higher taxes on the rich is not the way to fund that?


FARLEY: No, not when the borrowing costs are so cheap right now.


MELBER: Dennis, I want to read to you something…


FARLEY: We want to stimulate this economy, not choke it off with more



MELBER: Well, I feel stimulated just by the conversation.




MELBER: Dennis, I want to read you something on the other side.


I was pressing over here a little bit. I want to press you, Dennis, on the

costs here. It`s not just Sanders, of course. He just happens to be the

more liberal choice.


But there were several candidates that were talking about things that were

expensive this cycle. This is dangers of Medicare for all, according to one

“New York Times” opinion columnist, saying, look, it could cost – quote –

“$32 trillion in its first decade, more than double all currently

projected, federal individual and corporate income tax collections.”


Bottom line, are voters looking at a plan in the Sanders side that is just

not fundable? Or is this just like the Iraq War and every other thing that

comes along, which is the budget will follow what the priorities are?


KELLEHER: Well, let me first reiterate, I`m not here on behalf of Bernie

Sanders. Better Markets doesn`t endorse candidates.


MELBER: Sure. I said that.


KELLEHER: What we want are candidates to focus on the financial system in

the economy and making it work for the vast majority of Americans.


And so I think getting into a debate, which you can have, about what

Medicare for all costs and what it doesn`t cost is largely a sideshow.


And one of the things I`d say, Ari…




MELBER: Well, let me press you on that, though.


Is it a sideshow because you`re saying 32 T is affordable or not



KELLEHER: I think it`s better to focus on another crazy leftist candidate

that used to be in the race called Michael Bloomberg.


Michael Bloomberg had plans to raise taxes very substantially. He had one

of the most comprehensive financial reform, Wall Street reform plans of any

candidate ever, nine single-spaced pages. He probably knows what he`s

talking about a lot more than anybody else who`s talking about these



He also had a pretty robust social policy plan. No matter who ends up in

the White House, whether it`s Biden or Sanders, they are going to have very

broad-based plans targeted to helping the middle class.


Worrying about tax cuts, as Richard does, is not going to be productive and

not going to be helpful. What we need is an economy that actually – or

financial system that supports the real economy.


And that needs a plan. Neither Biden – well, Sanders more than Biden, but

Biden doesn`t even have a plan that addresses Wall Street or financial

reform. Mike Bloomberg had that.


So, Mike – Biden needs to catch up on the fundamentals for policies,

because, if he`s elected, he needs to actually do something.


And Richard said earlier voters are entitled to know where these candidates

stand. It`s past time for Joe Biden to get a financial reform Wall Street

plan out at least as good as Mike Bloomberg`s.


MELBER: Well, as promised, I have to pivot a little bit to coronavirus.


But I have time for a brief joke, if you both have time.




MELBER: I want to apologize to Richard.


In America, Wall Street usually gets the last word. But we are out of time.


FARLEY: Oh, well.


MELBER: What did you think of that?




FARLEY: It takes a lot to make me cry.




MELBER: Richard Farley and Dennis Kelleher…


KELLEHER: Thanks a lot, Ari.


MELBER: A substantive conversation. I want to thank both of you.


For those watching the corner of your screen, you`re seeing the

preparations. This briefing has not yet begun. It is 6:33 p.m. in

Washington, but everyone is in place.


And what`s different about this coronavirus briefing than the others that

we have kept an eye on, on many weekdays is the president, who is awaiting

– where everyone`s awaiting him entering this room. You can see the varied

task force and other experts.


The president participating in this. So we will go into the room, as

promised, as soon as the president makes his entrance.


I want to bring back Dr. – oh. Well, I was going to bring a doctor in. But

I see the president walking in, making his way to the lectern.


Our experts will be with us on the other side, but let`s listen in to

President Trump at the White House.




We just attended a very important task force meeting on the virus that

everybody is talking about all over the world, no matter where you go.

That`s what`s on people`s minds. And we are going to take care of and have

been taking care of the American public and the American economy.


We are going to be asking tomorrow - – we`re seeing the Senate. We`re

going to be meeting with House Republicans, Mitch McConnell, everybody, and

discussing a possible payroll tax cut or relief substantial relief, very

substantial relief, that`s a big number. We`re also going to be talking

about hourly wage earners getting help so that they can be in a position

where they`re not going to ever miss a paycheck, be it working with

companies and small companies, large companies, a lot of companies, so that

they don`t get penalized for something that`s not their fault.


It`s not their fault, it`s not our country`s fault. This was something that

we were thrown into and we`re going to handle it and we have been handling

it very well. The big decision was early when we shut down our borders.

We`re the first ones ever to do that. We`ve never done that in our country

before. We would have a situation that would be a lot more dire.


Also, we`re going to be seeing small business administration and creating

loans for small businesses. We`re also working with the industries,

including the airline industry, the cruise ship industry, which obviously

will be hit. We`re working with them very, very strongly. We want them to

travel. We want people to travel to certain locations and not to other

locations at this moment. Hopefully that will straighten out sooner rather

than later, but we`re working with the industries and in particular those

two industries.


We`re also talking to the hotel industry and some places actually will do

well and some places probably won`t do well at all but we`re working also

with the hotel industry. But the main thing is that we`re taking care of

the American public and we will be taking care of the American public.


And I really appreciate the professionals behind me and the professionals

actually behind them in a different room. We have a tremendous team and

it`s headed up by our great Vice President, Mike Pence, and I want to thank

Mike because he`s been working 24 hours a day just about. He has been

working very, very hard, very diligently and very professionally and I want

to thank him.


I want to thank the team.


And I will have Mike say a few words.


Thank you very much. Thank you.



We just completed the day`s meeting of the White House coronavirus task

force. We had the opportunity to brief the president today on a broad range

of issues.


And, once again, because of the unprecedented action that President Trump

took in January, suspending all travel from China, establishing travel

advisories for portions of South Korea and Italy, establishing screening of

all direct flights, all passengers from all airports, Italy and South

Korea, we have bought a considerable amount of time, according to all the

health experts, to deal with the coronavirus here in the United States.


As I stand before you today, the risk of contracting the coronavirus to the

American public remains low and the risk of serious disease among the

American public also remains low. That being said, the president did deploy

not just a whole of government approach, but also a whole of America

approach and last week at the president`s direction we met with leaders in

industries from nursing homes to airlines, pharmaceutical companies,

commercial labs and it`s had great, great impact.


Pharmaceutical companies are already working literally around the clock on

the development of therapeutics that will be medicines that can bring

relief to people that contract the coronavirus. And I know how pleased the

president was to learn that the commercial labs in this country led by

companies like LabCorp and Quest have already brought a test forward and

are taking that to market effective today.


This week, at the president`s direction, we`ll be meeting with hospital

CEOs, health insurance CEOs and all building on top of what the president

will be announcing tomorrow with regard to economic relief for working



We also met today in a conference call with 47 of America`s governors. We

were able to brief them on the latest, the progress that we`ve made. We

were able to confirm with them that testing is now available in all state

labs in every state in the country. Over a million tests have been

distributed before the end of this week. Another 4 million tests will be

distributed. But as I said before, with the deployment of the commercial

labs, we literally are going to see a dramatic increase in the available -

– availability of testing and that`s all a direct result of the

president`s leadership.


Today, in a few moments, we will outline community guidance that Dr. Birx

and Dr. Fauci will be publishing.


The president`s direction, we`re going to providing guidance about how to

keep your home safe, how to keep your business safe, how to keep safe and

healthy at your school, and we`ll be publishing that information and

speaking about that.


A brief word about the Grand Princess. The Grand Princess has docked this

afternoon in Oakland, California, at a commercial dock. 25 children, we

were happy to learn through the screening over the last two days, 25

children on the ship are all healthy. Of the people that have contracted

the coronavirus, 21 in all, they`re being dealt with in proper isolation,

working with health authorities in California.


We hope before the end of today to begin to disembark California residents

to Travis Air Force Base and Miramar. We`ve made arrangements with Canada

and the U. K. to take their passengers back. They will be transported

directly to the tarmac, charter flights home. And tomorrow, the remaining

passengers will be transported again through very, very carefully

controlled environments, buses, out to the tarmac and flown to military

bases in Georgia and Texas.


All the passengers will be tested, isolated as appropriate, quarantined as

appropriate. And I want to express appreciation to the governor of

California and his administration, the governor of Georgia, the governor of

Texas, for their strong cooperation with us in resolving the issues around

the Grand Princess.


It has been a partnership which the president directed us from the very

beginning and the process that Bob Kadlec will detail in any questions in a

few moments continues to work and move forward.


The remaining people on the ship, the crew itself, will push off from the

dock and they will be quarantined and observed and treated ship board. But

the president made the priority to get the Americans ashore and we`re in

the process of doing that as well as returning foreign nationals.


Let me just say one other point as the president has spoken today with the

congressional leadership. One of the things that I informed the president

that I had been hearing from governors is the concern about hourly wage

earners in this country feeling that they had to go to work even if they

were ill.


And the president has tasked this economic team and is working already with

leaders in the Congress to make sure that anyone is not - – feels that

they are at risk of losing their job or losing a paycheck because they may

contract the coronavirus.


When we tell people if you`re sick, stay home, and the president has tasked

the team with developing economic policies that will make it very, very

clear that we`re going to stand by those hardworking Americans, stand by

those businesses, large and small, and make it possible for us, as the

president said from the very beginning, put the health of America first.


We`ll be available to take any questions on any of these topics, but, Mr.

President, I didn`t know if you wanted to speak.


TRUMP: Well, I think what we will be doing is having a news conference

tomorrow to talk about various things that we`re doing economically.


They`ll be very major, including obviously the payroll tax cut. And so

we`ll be meeting again tomorrow afternoon. We`ll be coming back from the

Senate. We have a lot of very important meetings set up. And we`ll have a

press conference sometime after that and we`ll explain what we`re doing on

an economic standpoint and from an economic standpoint but they will be

very dramatic.


And we have a great economy. We have a very strong economy but this came -

– this blindsided the world. And I think we`ve handled it very, very well.

I think they`ve done a great job. The people behind me have done a great



So I will be here tomorrow afternoon to let you know about some of the

economic steps we`re taking which, will be major.


Thank you very much.




MELBER: We have been listening there to the president`s appearance inside

what has been a new daily tradition at the White House, a White House, by

the way, that often does not use the press Briefing Room for daily

presentations of any kind.


Mike Pence taking questions. Let`s go ahead and listen in a little bit and

see if there`s any news made.


QUESTION: … in proximity to somebody who had the virus.


PENCE: Let me be sure to get you an answer.


I honestly don`t know the answer to the question but we`ll refer that

question and we will get you an answer from the White House physician very



Let me – let me ask Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx to come to the podium.


You all and the American public will have at their fingertips, very

quickly, guidance and this is for every American.


We`re working with communities like the Seattle area or like portions of

California, New York, and Florida that have what we call community spread,

a concentration of coronavirus cases, but we directed our team to come up

with helpful recommendations for every American, every American family,

every American business and school, and if Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci step

forward, they can outline that for you.



Thank you.


Good evening.


We`ve been – it was good getting out last week meeting with communities.

We know that the real solutions to this is every American has a role in

stopping the spread of the virus and so we wanted to really put out

guidance for every American and every community that was practical and

common sense but detailed in a way that everyone would know precisely what

to do.


The guidance will be around how to keep workplaces safe, how to keep

schools safe, how to keep the homes safe, and how to keep commercial

businesses safe where people would eat or be present.


The importance about this is we believe that communities are at the center

of this. I came from a field where it was the communities that really

solved our issues around HIV prevention, and so we`re very much speaking to

the communities and the American people about what can be done.


All of this information came from a paper that Dr. Fauci provided from the

Australians, first author Dalton.


So, you can actually look up the scientific evidence that informed each of

these guidelines, but we will be providing that this evening in great

detail so that every mother, father, child, son, daughter, caregiver will

know precisely what to do and what to ask for.


PENCE: Dr. Fauci?





Just to reiterate with what Dr. Birx said, it was just – it`s simple as

that. We have been speaking about the kinds of things that would keep our

citizens safe in a variety of environments. We`ve been speaking about on

telephone calls. We`ve been speaking about conferences. The CDC has been

talking about this for a long time, as has Dr. Birx and I.


So, we thought we would put it together in a neat form way that would be

available to the general public.


What Dr. Birx mentioned is that just the other day, I got one of many, many

e-mails where some of my colleagues that I know from Australia actually

decided they were going to write a paper on it and make a number of boxes

which was exactly saying what we had been talking about.


So, we came up with the idea, it would be very good for clarity. So why

don`t we put it together, edit it a little and put it in a way that people

can look, what about the home, what about the school, what about the



These are really simple low-tech things. There`s nothing in there that`s

complicated. But it`s just stated in a way that`s clear, that people can



PENCE: I might ask the surgeon general anything about the guidance you want

to reflect on.



want folks to know, is that we have been looking at the data from around

the world, and we now know more than we ever have about who is at risk. Who

is at risk – and I hope you will help us communicate this to the American

people – are people over the age of 60.


They`re much more likely to develop complications from the coronavirus and

to be hospitalized from the coronavirus. The average age of death is age



Now, what we also want communities to know is that if you are a child or

young adult, you are much more – you`re more likely to die from the flu if

you get it than you are to die from coronavirus.


So, there`s something about being young that is protective. We want people

to be reassured by that. We want people to know that we are really focusing

in on those groups that are at highest risk for complications and helping

them understand how to be safe, and this new advice that`s going to be

coming out tomorrow is designed to keep our communities safe, to help keep

the most vulnerable safe.


And it`s important to understand that even though young people aren`t at

risk for dying from coronavirus, they can potentially spread that to older

people in the communities and people with chronic diseases. So, it`s

important we all take precaution – washing our hands, covering our cough,

keeping our distance from people who are sick and taking the steps that

will be coming out in this new guidance to help make sure we`re doing

everything we know possible to keep our most vulnerable protected.


PENCE: Well done. Thank you.


MELBER: We have been listening to the ongoing coronavirus briefing at the

White House.


As mentioned, the president spoke. Mike Pence spoke. Dr. Birx and the

surgeon general all spoke, basically making a small amount of news

regarding government guidance, and also just giving the general updates as

we have come to expect here, a grim reality of this coronavirus crisis.


Back with me is Dr. Natalie Azar. And Jeremy Konyndyk, also a doctor, is

with us.


Dr. Natalie, I will go to you first. You were kicking us off this hour.


AZAR: Yes.


MELBER: A basic question is, from the government perspective, what more do

we know now, having completed that briefing?


AZAR: What we know now is that, in their eyes, they are saying that cost

shouldn`t be a barrier to getting this epidemic, or pandemic, if you will,

under control.


And they`re doing that from the point of making sure that there`s a payroll

tax cut, that they spoke about hourly wage earners not missing a paycheck.

So, from that perspective, they don`t want cost to be a barrier to say,

listen, we need to close down this business, we need to close down the

school, parents need to stay home and take care of their kids. That`s what

needs to get done.


I like the fact that – I wasn`t even aware that the LabCorp and Quest, the

commercial labs, were being deployed today. That`s fantastic news. My

question is, will the insurance companies be required to cover that cost?


Will they – will the insurance be required to cover the cost of the

doctor`s visit or an E.D. visit, or even a hospitalization? That`s also

imperative, if cost is not going to be a barrier to testing.


And I`m really, really happy about the testing issue. We have been talking

about that now for a long time, not only because we need to have a good

understanding of what the real background rate is, but also that`s really

the first step in what`s called source control.


If you can identify and diagnose somebody early, then you have already –

you have already committed that first step in that process that I mentioned

of identifying, isolation and contact tracing.


Without being able to test people, you just – you`re basically stopping it

at step one.


MELBER: Jeremy, I`m curious. Same question to you.


And I should mention you led Ebola response for the government, not

technically a doctor. Sorry for the inadvertent promotion.


But same question to you.


KONYNDYK: Well, what strikes me with what we just saw is, first, they spent

the first half of that discussion talking about the economy.


And it felt more like a press conference on the economy than a press

conference on a pandemic. And I`m just stunned by that. You cannot fix the

economic reaction without addressing the underlying problem.


And we`re still not hearing a comprehensive plan to protect the country

from the virus. We`re hearing these piecemeal things.


MELBER: Let`s pause on that, because I had a thought – that thought as

well, but I just didn`t know whether it was of any relevance, because I

don`t have the medical expertise and the scientific expertise that you both

bring to this.


You`re saying that the government coming out and immediately discussing the

market anxiety and the economic issues, while real for those workers, as we

were just discussing, to you seems a little off the priority matrix?


KONYNDYK: Well, they`re clearly reacting to what happened in the markets

today. But the markets are reacting to uncertainty and they`re reacting to

the lack of a plan.


And we`re not seeing a comprehensive plan. We`re watching hospitals go down

in Italy. We`re watching care getting rationed. We saw similar things in

Wuhan. We shouldn`t flatter ourselves to think that can`t happen here. They

didn`t say a single word about any of that.


We`re getting instead some guidance that I`m sure will be useful and

helpful. And I have confidence in Drs. Fauci and Birx, some guidance on

micro-level measures around how you protect yourself at home and in the

workplace. But what about the big picture?


We`re canceling conferences. Should cities be canceling basketball

tournaments? Those are the super-spreading events that we know from the

1918 pandemic had the ability to really supercharge this. Not a word on





And what did you think of Dr. Birx, who is someone who, as you mentioned,

you have a good view of? And a lot of people have confidence in her. She

joined this Trump-Pence team specifically to handle coronavirus.


She has prior experience with an ambassador title at the State Department

and handling HIV/AIDS issues for the Obama administration.


KONYNDYK: I think everyone in – everyone in the public health community

thinks extraordinarily highly of her.


I think it remains to be seen how much she is, as kind of one new person

within this fairly dysfunctional process so far, how much change she can



And at the end of the day, if what the president is focused on is more

addressing the economic issues than a strategy to actually stop this virus,

then there`s only so much she can do.


AZAR: Do you want me to respond to that?


MELBER: Mm-hmm.


AZAR: Yes.


I mean, I think I interpreted it a little bit differently. I – what

concerns me – let me just – in my role as a doctor, I need to be able to

see a patient and at my discretion be able to test, which became easier in

the last week, for sure, because the number of tests were in increasing, at

least in New York state.


Governor Cuomo was basically assuring us that either CDC or the public

health labs would cover the cost, and he was going to try to require

commercial insurance companies to pay for testing and that Medicaid would

pay for testing also.


So, anything that makes my job easier at the front lines, when I have a

suspicion for a patient, to test them immediately, isolate them

immediately, I think is a good thing.


And, again, regarding the business incentives, if you`re telling a

community that you have to close schools and close businesses, you have to

give them some financial support, or that`s not going to happen. And that

will still work.


MELBER: Right.


AZAR: That will still work to contain within a cluster, rather than having

people just willy-nilly going to work and using public transportation and



MELBER: And in both of your perspectives, we`re hearing some of the

difference of a primary care perspective and the urgency of that, as well

as what is the larger policy, and what was left perhaps, in Jeremy`s view,

missing from that presentation.


AZAR: Right.


MELBER: Really appreciate the expertise, Dr. Azar and Jeremy Konyndyk.

Thank you both.


We are, by the way, heading back into the field to speak with you and



I`m going to explain that announcement when we come back tonight.




MELBER: A new announcement following up on the field reporting that we have

been doing with voters this cycle all around the nation.


We are going back out to hear from voters this week. And if you live in or

near Queens, New York, you could join us this Wednesday morning for a free

event to discuss this 2020 race and the choice between democratic socialism

and progressive capitalism, the two visions now up for debate in the

Sanders-Biden clash.


We will hear from Queens voters about their ideas, concerns and questions

by having coffee at this neighborhood favorite, the historic Bel Aire Diner

in Astoria.


Now, admission is free at 8:30 a.m. this Wednesday, but you must RSVP in

advance. Just go right now to That`s


And if you`re in or near New York, you can reserve a spot and get a lot

more details.


Now, if you`re like most Americans who don`t happen to live in Queens, I

admit it, then we urge you to go ahead and DVR THE BEAT this week to make

sure you don`t miss that special report with voters and the rest of our

shows this week. We have a lot cooking.


That does it for me. Thanks, as always.


Keep it right here on MSNBC.







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