Stock Market suffers TRANSCRIPT: 3/12/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
It`s so striking the way the zeal is coming together with Nancy Pelosi and
the treasury secretary. No Donald Trump involvement. No Mitch McConnell
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Yes. And you know, Mitch McConnell right now in
terms of his handling of the Senate, I`m sure that you can read the tea
leaves much better than I can. They are taking their weekend. They are not
taking their recess. There`s no clear signal from McConnell on what he
thinks ought to be done about the crisis, let alone the strength of this
deal that`s being worked out without him.
How do you read it?
O`DONNELL: I read it as Mitch McConnell has no idea what to do. Like none.
O`DONNELL: Totally lost.
MADDOW: I believe you.
O`DONNELL: Yes, every once in a while, it`s as simple as it looks.
MADDOW: Lawrence O`Donnell, thank you, my friend.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
Well, how much does it cost to get tested for coronavirus? It`s the kind of
thing you should know if you`re an assistant secretary of health and human
services, but it`s not the kind of thing that a Trump assistant secretary
of health and human services would know. A Trump appointee.
Congresswoman Katie Porter demonstrated that today in one of her classic
cross-examinations in a House hearing. You`ve seen it before, Katie Porter
exposing the humiliating ignorance of witnesses from the Trump
administration or from corporate America. But this time, this time she
accomplished so much more than mere humiliation.
Her relentless line of questioning forced the Trump administration to agree
on the spot in the hearing to make coronavirus testing free. You will want
to see that classic Katie Porter video at the end of this hour and you`ll
want to hear more from Congresswoman Porter when she joins us for tonight`s
last word at the end of the hour.
We begin tonight the way we will probably be beginning our discussions for
the next few months at least, and that is, of course, with the coronavirus
pandemic that is sweeping the world including the United States, where 46
states and Washington, D.C. have now reported cases. There are now over
1,600 reported cases in the United States with 41 reported deaths. 21
states have declared states of emergency, and it should never, ever, ever
be forgotten that just two weeks ago, two weeks ago, Donald Trump said
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you have 15 people and
the 15 within a couple of days will be down to close to zero, that`s a
pretty good job we`ve done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We would all agree that if that were true, that would have been
a pretty good job. That would have been a great job. But the most
incompetent and uninformed president in history has led the federal
government into the worst emergency response to a pandemic that we have
ever seen in this country.
One of our guests will tell us that it`s one of the worst responses by any
government in the world today. More people are sick in America tonight
because Donald Trump is president. More people are dead and dying in
America tonight because Donald Trump is president. More people are losing
more of their life savings and retirement accounts today because Donald
Trump is president.
As we will discuss later in this hour, the president`s ten-minute speech
from the Oval Office last night directly provoked more loss of stock market
value, which is to say retirement funds, than any other speech by any other
president in history. If Donald Trump had just said nothing last night,
where would we be today?
In an interview with Joe Biden on Monday, I asked the former vice president
if Donald Trump`s comments were making the situation worse, especially with
the stock market, to which Joe Biden said to me in his answer among other
things, “I wish he would just be quiet.”
Disneyland would probably be still closing if Donald Trump had remained
quiet. The National Hockey League would probably be still be canceling the
rest of its season. The National Basketball Association would probably
still be suspending its season. Major League Baseball would probably still
be suspending spring training games and delaying the start of the regular
season by at least two weeks.
The NCAA would probably still be canceling its basketball tournament. And
Broadway theaters would probably still be shutting down for at least a few
weeks after the governor of New York ordered an end to all gatherings of
more than 500 people. All of that might still be happening in this country
as precautionary measures, even if we had a competent president.
But because Donald Trump kept lying relentlessly to America about what was
happening and what was going to happen, and because people who work for
Donald Trump who know better were afraid of saying things publicly that
might get them fired, the federal government`s action response to this
crisis is nothing like that we`ve seen in countries that have handled this
pandemic the best.
After Joe Biden said he wished Donald Trump would just be quiet and stay
quiet, he said, “just let the experts speak.” Dr. Anthony Fauci is one of
those experts, and he spoke again today to a House committee.
And the reason Dr. Fauci was testifying in the House today instead of the
Senate is because the Senate is run by Republicans, the very same
Republicans who when presented with legal and constitutional reasons to
remove Donald Trump as president said no and voted to keep him as our
president. Senate Republicans voted to keep him as our protector in chief
in a public health crisis at a time when coronavirus was already quietly
spreading across oceans on its way to this country, on its way to becoming
the pandemic we`re living with tonight and trying to survive despite Donald
Trump`s incompetence and rank ignorance.
The coronavirus was coming at us. While that impeachment trial was going
on. And while those Republicans were saying yes, despite those offenses
against his oath of office, despite those offenses against the
Constitution, we`re going to keep Donald Trump in this position.
And now the lives of those Republican senators are actually threatened by
Donald Trump`s incompetence after a Senate staffer tested positive for
coronavirus yesterday, and while Senator Lindsey Graham now awaits the
results of his own coronavirus test. Senator Lindsey Graham fought with
every fiber of his being to remove Bill Clinton from the presidency in an
impeachment trial and did exactly the opposite for Donald Trump and tonight
Lindsey Graham is self-quarantining as he awaits the results of his
coronavirus test because of something he did this weekend in the company of
the most dangerous president in history.
Now, I stopped shaking hands early last week, and I don`t you have the
information available to the president and Senator Graham but Senator
Graham isn`t sure whether he shook hands with weekend, this past weekend
with a Brazilian government official who has now tested positive for
coronavirus. They were all together over the weekend in Florida, the
president, Senator Graham and the Brazilian official.
And in that bubble of blissful ignorance that always surrounds Donald
Trump, they`re not quite sure if they kept enough social distance.
Here is what the expert who Joe Biden wants to hear from and America wants
to hear from, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said today about America`s capacity for
testing for coronavirus, a test that has now been made available to Senator
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS
DISEASES: The system does not – is not really geared to what we need
right now. What you are asking for. That is a failing.
UNIENTIFIED FEMALE: A failing? Yes?
FAUCI: It is a failing, let`s admit it. The fact is the way the system was
set up is that the public health component that Dr. Redfield was talking
about was a system where you put it out there in the public and a physician
asks for it and you get it. The idea of anybody getting it easily the way
people in other countries are doing it, we`re not set up for that. Do I
think we should be? Yes. But we`re not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion is Ron Klain, former senior aide to
Vice President Joe Biden and President Obama. He served as the so-called
Ebola czar during the Obama presidency. He is an adviser to Joe Biden`s
2020 presidential campaign.
Dr. Ashish Jha is the director of Harvard`s global health institute.
And Dr. Sheri Fink is a correspondent for “The New York Times” and
executive producer of the new Netflix documentary series “Pandemic,” which
you must see. She is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning author for her reporting
on hurricane Katrina and the Ebola crisis.
Ron Klain, how did it come to this, that we were not mobilized fast enough
to be ready for the testing that would – we would need to be doing at this
RON KLAIN, EBOLA CZAR, OBAMA PRESIDENCY: Well, Lawrence, I think it`s
failure stacked on failure stacked on failure. First of all, the CDC made
bad decisions about how to deploy testing in the United States. Then they
got into a bureaucratic turf battle with the FDA.
And the White House, most importantly, didn`t take charge, didn`t make the
decisions, didn`t force it. The president was distracted. He put no one in
charge at all at the White House at first. Then he put Secretary Azar in
charge, now he put Vice President Pence in charge.
And so, I think it`s a failure of execution. It`s a failure of leadership.
It`s a failure of focus.
I`ll tell you from coordinating one of these responses, it is very hard to
get the government bureaucracy to act quickly and effectively, even with
the president putting his foot on the accelerator and demanding action.
When President Trump put his foot on the brake and said no one bring me bad
news, no one tell me the truth, don`t let the scientists speak, that took a
thing that was already going to be hard and made it impossible.
O`DONNELL: Dr. Jha, what are we seeing around the world and how does the
American response compare to the best versions of response that we`ve seen
from other governments?
DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: You know, so
our response is among the very worst in the world, certainly among all the
major countries. Every major country has more testing than we do across
Europe, South Korea, Japan. Even Vietnam and Iran until recently have been
doing a better job testing than we have.
It`s really mind-boggling how badly we have done on testing and, you know,
without testing, it`s really hard to get a grip on how many people actually
have the infection, where the infections are, how widespread it is and what
we can do to respond to it. So, I see this as just a catastrophic failure
on the part of the federal government and the federal leadership.
O`DONNELL: Sheri Fink, how much time did the Trump administration have to
get ready? When did the early warning go off for them?
DR. SHERI FINK, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think it was early January when the
reports came out of China there was this suspicious cluster of pneumonia
cases and that the likely culprit was a new coronavirus, coronavirus being
the type of virus that has caused MERS and SARS, those other bad outbreaks
in the past.
So, we heard about it in January. We had that sequence of that virus. I
think it was January 10th. And that`s when, you know, around the world
there were efforts to start to make the diagnostics that we`re talking
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what the president said today about testing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And, frankly, the testing has been going very smoothly. If you go
to the right agency, if you go to the right area, you get the test. With
that being said, as you know, millions are being produced.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, apparently he was talking about Lindsey Graham, if
you go to the right area you can get the test.
KLAIN: Yes, I mean, look, first of all it`s obviously unacceptable that
only connected people can get tests, and it`s probably not even true to all
the connected people can get tests. I mean, I think everyone who works in
the field has got their email box filled with people who believe they have
been in contact with someone, who are worried they may have it and symptoms
and cannot get tests and that – Lawrence, even just scratches the surface
of what needs to be tested.
It`s not just the people raising their hands begging to be tested and the
president`s out and out lying about that. It`s equipping our state and
local health departments to go do surveillance to find out where the virus
is. Is it in nursing homes? Is it in senior centers? Is it among vulnerable
We need to not only be testing the people who are demanding to be tested
and, of course, we should. We need to be testing the people who we should
be looking out for and protecting from this virus.
O`DONNELL: Dr. Jha, if you could ask anyone in this government anything,
whether to be the CDC or Health and Human Services, Mike Pence, what would
you want to know from whom?
JHA: So I would like an honest answer of when are we going to get tests
available to front line doctors and nurses? When are we going to finally be
able to figure out how widespread this disease is?
By most assessments I`ve seen, there are likely many, many thousands of
Americans who are infected tonight but we can`t figure out who they are. We
can`t identify them. We can`t treat them. We can`t isolate them.
And I want an honest answer. And every week we hear from the vice president
and from others that millions of tests are being shipped out. But I talk to
state health officials on an almost daily basis. They don`t have the tests.
They can`t do the tests. Doctors can`t do the tests.
I want to know when are we going to finally be able to test patients who
need the tests.
O`DONNELL: Sheri Fink, is there anything in your reporting that indicates
geographically what areas of the United States might be more vulnerable
FINK: I mean, I think the important thing to do, as we`ve heard, there has
not been widespread testing, so taking those measures that can protect your
health and the health of your family and to help look out for society at
this time is really the right way to go because we don`t know. We have
perhaps better testing in some areas than others. But it`s, you know, very
hard to know.
I think initially the government decided that it would focus on five cities
that had a lot of travelers coming in, that those would be the priority
areas for surveillance, but now we have the sense that the virus is much
more widespread and has established itself in communities around the
country. So doing those smart things, washing your hands, not touching your
face, not going to work if you have symptoms that are common symptoms that
can be symptoms of the flu or symptoms of this new coronavirus, fever, a
cough, those are really smart things that I think people should be thinking
about and, of course, paying attention to your local context, really
listening to those local public health authorities.
I heard somebody saying listen to the scientists. Do that. Maybe forget
about the sound bites from the politicians because what matters right now
is listening to the experts and they are speaking.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what some Republican senators had to say today
because it`s quite striking now that they are faced with a matter of life
and death, including possibly their own lives and deaths, they have found a
way to actually disagree with Donald Trump when Donald Trump says
everything`s going great with testing.
Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R-TN): Well, we`re not the best equipped nation in
terms of testing. That`s absolutely obvious. Every single senator who asked
a question today expressed that.
SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): We couldn`t get a good clear answer on when
we`re going to get commercial testing out there, labs that can get faster
responses, and when we`re going to allow every person that wants to be
tested to be able to be tested.
SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): Our system has not been you have to snuff, and I
think a lot of people are frustrated by it. I`m one of them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That, of course, Ron Klain, was after they had a closed-door
briefing with administration officials. And let`s give Mitt Romney credit.
He`s the only Republican senator who said no, Donald Trump should not
continue in this job at the end of the impeachment trial.
But here we are, Ron. They`ve found at least a space where they`re willing
to doubt the president.
KLAIN: Yes, I think look, this has been such a failure of competence by
the president but also confidence by the president. His speech last night,
which as you said at the outset undermined markets and undermined
confidence, didn`t address what people were really concerned about, which
is this testing problem and hospital capacity, didn`t have clear answers.
The Republican senators have to go home this weekend and have to face
constituents who can`t get tested, who don`t know if the virus is in their
communities, don`t know how widespread it is, don`t know what`s going to
happen to their jobs, their kids, their schools, all these things, and they
can`t just ignore that.
Trump`s Twitter feed cannot cover them from the reality of what is
happening with this virus in this country.
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, Dr. Ashish Jha, and Dr. Sheri Fink, thank you all
for starting us off tonight. We really appreciate it.
KLAIN: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, we will have more breaking news. House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Ways and Means Chairman Richie Neal, as Rachel
told you at the end of her hour, say that they`re actually close to a
legislative deal on a coronavirus legislation. Speaker Pelosi has been
working with the treasury secretary on this, not the president.
One of President Obama`s former economic advisers will join us next with
his thoughts on what the federal government can and should do right now.
O`DONNELL: Tonight`s breaking news from Capitol Hill is that House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi announced that she is close to an agreement, a legislative
deal with the Trump administration on a package that could be passed
tomorrow to deal with mostly the economic effects of the coronavirus
pandemic. Donald Trump has not been involved in the negotiations. His
treasury secretary has done the job for him because the president is not in
the mood to speak with Nancy Pelosi and reportedly believes that Speaker
Pelosi would humiliate him if he involved himself in the discussions. This
is, of course, one way of looking at it.
The other way of looking at it is that Donald Trump humiliates himself
whenever he opens his mouth, as he did last night. While Donald Trump was
addressing the nation last night for ten minutes from the oval office,
stock market futures trading started to drop dramatically. And then when
the market opened today, it proceeded to crash by the largest amount since
1987, losing almost 10 percent of its value today.
Harvard economics professor and former treasury secretary, Lawrence
Summers, tweeted, “POTUS sets what I believe is a new world record for
presidential market value destruction.”
Joining us now is Jason Furman, the former chairman of the Council of
Economic Advisers under President Obama. He is now professor of the
practice of economic policy at Harvard`s Kennedy School.
Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Professor Furman. What would
you suggest the government action that could be taken now, what action
could be taken to deal with what we`re seeing as the economic effects of
JASON FURMAN, FORMER CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: Yes,
Lawrence, this is the most serious economic crisis this country may have
faced since the Great Depression, bigger than what we faced in 2008. 2008
was terrible. It was devastating. But most people kept their jobs. Many
people kept spending.
Right now, everyone is cutting their spending. Large swaths of the economy,
people`s jobs are at risk, and so once you start to think about that, the
answer to your question of what we should do, the more we can do, the
O`DONNELL: So, you know, my next question was going to be – is this 1987
or is this 1929, which you`ve already answered that it`s closer to that.
Maybe about six months ago I reread John Kenneth Galbraith`s book “The
Great Crash” about the 1929 stock market crash.
And when you read the things people were saying as it was already under
way, as the crash was happening, there`s so many people who sounded like
Donald Trump then, saying it will bounce back, as the president said today.
The stock market will bounce back. Don`t worry about it.
Larry Kudlow the other day saying invest as it`s going down. You know,
you`ll be very happy with that. And of course it`s dropped dramatically
since Kudlow said that.
So just to set this for our audience perspective, you are comparing this
now to the 1929 crash of the stock market?
FURMAN: Absolutely. And, you know, the difference is it depends on what
happens. If, you know, we get through this virus in the next two months,
then you know, maybe it bounces right back. If it takes us nine months,
even at that point if we find a cure for the vaccine, a lot of damage, a
huge amount of damage will be done to companies, to workers, to
unemployment of a type that would persist and, you know, could take a long
time to recover from.
So I – you know, I`d love to have more reassuring things to say for you,
Lawrence, but I am worried right now.
O`DONNELL: You`re confirming what I`ve been feeling in my amateur way
about this. So this presents an enormous policy-making challenge because
when you talk about things like payroll tax cut, which the president
mentioned a few days ago and it died instantly when the Senate Finance
Committee chairman said he wouldn`t even consider it, that could come back.
But a payroll tax cut to a person who`s no longer on a payroll doesn`t work
the way it might – in the stimulative way you may have wanted it to while
that person was still on a payroll.
FURMAN: Yes, that`s absolutely right.
So what I think we should do is number one, everything we can do on health,
free testing, which is in the House legislation, I think that`s terrific.
We`re going to need a lot of hospital beds, a lot of ventilators. We`re
going to need that fast.
Number two, anything we can do targeted at the people who most need it.
That includes paid leave, unemployment insurance, assistance for states
with their Medicaid programs, and nutritional assistance.
Once you`ve done one and two, that`s still not large enough. There`s still
tens of millions of families you haven`t reached.
So, number three, I would send checks. I`d send cash. You get it whether
you`re working, whether you`re not. A week ago I proposed $1,000 for an
adult, $500 for a child. I would at least double it based on the events of
the last week.
O`DONNELL: And this is one of those moments where from a policy
perspective quite literally the last thing you can worry about is the
deficit and the debt but unfortunately we are at a high point in both
deficit and debt.
FURMAN: It`s the last thing you want to worry about. First of all, the
real interest rate, that`s the interest rate adjusted for inflation right
now, is negative. That means you can give somebody $1,000 today, the
government can borrow that money, and a decade from now, you only need to
repay $900 adjusted for inflation. So, you know, that`s one thing.
The second thing is let`s say you really were concerned about the debt. You
care about the debt relative to the economy? If the economy craters, the
debt is actually larger relative to the economy. Right now, we can`t afford
from a fiscal perspective or an economic perspective not to do something,
you know, as big as we possibly can.
O`DONNELL: Professor Jason Furman, thank you very much for joining us
tonight. And I`m not sure. I`m not sure how I feel about you agreeing with
at least partially and partially supporting my worst fears about where we
are economically. I wish you could have contradicted what I was suspecting.
But thank you very much for joining us. And we`re going to need you on a
daily basis on this. So we really appreciate your time.
FURMAN: Happy to be back.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, Donald Trump`s Oval Office address last
night was full of wrong information and of course caused panic for
Americans overseas trying to get back into this country when they suddenly
felt they were being banned re-entering their own country by this
Sara Nelson, the head of the Association of Flight Attendants, calls the
president`s announcement irresponsible. She said it is sowing confusion.
And Sara Nelson, one of the most eloquent labor leaders in America, will
join us next.
O`DONNELL: The President of the United States and the Prime Minister of
Ireland always meet around this time every year in the shadow of St.
Patrick`s Day. And when reporters got to ask questions of the leaders of
those two governments today this of course, was the very first question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, can you confirm Ireland was excluded from
your travel ban, your European travel ban.
TRUMP: I think it was made very clear last night who is and isn`t and we`ll
be discussing that. We`ll be discussing some other moves we`ll be making
and I think it`s going to work out very well for everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: He didn`t know the answer. That`s why he said oh, it was made
very clear last night. It was not made very clear last night. Here is
exactly what the President read on his teleprompter last night and
according to what you will hear him say, travel from Ireland would be
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States
for the next 30 days. The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight.
These restrictions will be adjusted subject to conditions on the ground.
There will be exceptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate
screenings and these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous
amount of trade and cargo but various other things as we get approval.
Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing.
These restrictions will also not apply to the United Kingdom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Trade and cargo? The White House later put out a correction
saying that the ban would not apply to Ireland and that it would not apply
to cargo from any country. As the President`s teleprompter last night said
that it would. The Prime Minister of Ireland was not satisfied with Donald
Trump`s failure in the room today to clarify the situation with Ireland in
response to that report. So the Prime Minister jumped in and said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAOISEACH, PRIME MINISTER OF IRELAND: Just saying the President has
excluded Ireland from the travel ban.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The President has excluded Ireland from the travel ban as
announced, of course, not by the President, but by the Prime Minister of
Ireland. At least one of the people in that room today knows how to speak
clear and accurate English.
Joining us now is Sara Nelson who is President of the Association of Flight
Attendants and has been a flight attendant for 24 years. Sara, what does
this travel ban, I`m not even sure what to call it now because I`m not sure
how many exceptions there are to it or how it works? The President`s
announcement last night, what does this mean to the airline industry
generally and more broadly?
SARA NELSON, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT: Last
night this created total chaos, Lawrence. We had flights that were waiting
to take off for Europe and I got reports that passengers were getting
updates from the President`s speech saying that all travel was going to be
ended for 30 days.
The passengers started a, the crew started freaking out not knowing they
were on a scheduled three day trip thinking they wouldn`t be able to get
back home to their families. So it was pandemonium in the airports because
there was no coordination with the airlines on the front end.
And then later, we get different information that the airplanes can still
fly but there will be all kinds of restrictions. Those restrictions also
have an impact on the travel. The inconsistency in the way that the
information is delivered leads to more panic on the ground and a reaction
from travelers and people who are making business plans and cancelling
And so this is having a ripple effect where we are not able to actually
test, treat and isolate the virus, stop the spread and really get at that
as Americans. This is having a ripple effect on our jobs on our experience
at work and our entire industry and ultimately, for the entire economy.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what the CEO of Jetblue had to say about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBIN HAYES, CEO, JETBLUE: In the U.S. industry, we saw about a 30 percent
drop off in traffic around 9/11. This is probably even worse than that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Worse than 9/11?
HAYES: What we`re seeing in terms of demand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Sara, how can that be possible that this could be worse than
NELSON: Well, because there is not clear leadership. We know what it`s like
when there is a loud bang on the plane or a noise that`s unexpected or a
jerking of the plane, passengers look to us. And we know that we have to
provide calm, steady leadership and show them that it`s okay, explain what
is going on explain the sounds and explain what we`re going to do about it.
And when you do that, people calm down and they follow your lead and you
can actually put forward a plan that works to keep people safe. That is not
what is happened here. There has been no leadership. There is been no
There has been no marshalling of resources listening to the experts and
bringing the stake holders to the table and coordinate and again, identify
where this exists, where the virus exists, treat it, isolate it and
eradicate it as a threat to lives and our economy. This is what we need to
O`DONNELL: Sara, when you joined us last week, I asked you what you would
tell the people who have to fly, I think we`re down to the point now where
it`s really essential flying. People are stopping optional flying, the
vacation flying. What has changed in the week since we talked about this
for the flying public to consider?
NELSON: The problem here, Lawrence, is that now we`re talking about a state
of emergency in many states and we have the virus in the communities and so
it`s not just necessarily what we`re doing on the planes and I should note
this, you know, preparation matters having a plan matters.
We are trained as flight attendants every single year in how to respond to
commune disease and how to take actions to keep ourselves safe? How to
respond when we encounter symptoms with other passengers and how to keep
passengers around them safe?
And I should note that just today for the first time we had a crew member
test positive when crews, U.S. crews have been dealing with this for two
months and just today because we were able to take strict action with our
airlines to have preparation to have the resources that we need to respond,
we were able to keep our work space relatively safe and that of the
passengers in our care.
But now, in just a week`s time, because we have not tested, because we have
not been able to isolate, because we have not been able to treat where the
virus exists, now we have the virus in the communities and so it`s not just
a matter of getting on an airplane and whether or not you`re going to be
safe on an airplane, people are taking into consideration whether they
should even be congregating together in our communicates in numbers greater
than 100 or 500 whatever it may be in those states.
So that`s where we are in a just week`s time because this has not been
handled in the way it should have been.
O`DONNELL: Sara nelson, your experience and insights have been invaluable
to us on this. We will want to hear from you again. Thank you very much for
joining us again tonight. We really appreciate it.
NELSON: Thank you, Lawrence and travelers who are traveling, check flying
with Sara for tips to keep yourself safe while you are in the air.
O`DONNELL: Yes, that`s your twitter handle. I follow it. I learn a lot from
it. Just say it one more time because people really do want to get the
latest information from you.
NELSON: “followflyingwithsara” and “nohonsara”. Thanks Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Okay, thank you. When we come back, Katie Porter`s brilliant
questioning in a House Committee hearing today reached a new high even for
her because she did something we`ve never seen before. She forced a
reluctant Trump appointee to change Trump policy on the spot under pressure
from her questioning and decide to do the right thing for once.
And Katie Porter did something else we haven`t seen her do in a
congressional hearing. She saved lives. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA): For someone without insurance, do you know the
out-of-pocket cost of a complete blood count test?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, ma`am, not immediately.
PORTER: Do you have a ballpark?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Out of - with a co-pay, ma`am?
PORTER: No, the out-of-pocket, just the typical cost?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: You`ve seen this movie before but this is the most important
version of it yet. I first showed you this movie the first time I saw Katie
Porter ask questions in a House hearing last year when she was a freshman
Congresswoman, first year in Congress.
Katie Porter became an instant star last year in her first year in the
House of Representative by asking the questions in Congressional hearing
that no one else was asking in a way that no one else would ask them.
Today she was questioning the conservative Republicans Donald Trump has
appointed to jobs in which our lives now depend, depend on how well they
can do those jobs and what decisions they make. You just heard her asking a
Trump appointed Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services if he
knows how much it costs to get tested for Coronavirus. He didn`t.
Katie porter added it up item by item and it came to $1,331. That was her
consecutive estimate and then she turned to the Conservative Republican
appointee who runs the Centers for Disease Control for Donald Trump and
asked him to use the authority that is vested in him by law to instantly
make testing free for everyone.
You don`t need legislation for this. This particular office is empowered to
do it, to order it, to make it happen. This is one of those extraordinary
powers that the law grants to the Head of the CDC and when Katie Porter
first mentioned that law to Robert Redfield, the Head of the CDC, he didn`t
know what she was talking about.
Katie Porter then revealed that she had told Redfield staff last night that
she was going to ask him about this specific law and he still didn`t know
what she was talking about and after explaining the law to him, Katie
Porter zeroed in on his authority to make testing free right now for every
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PORTER: Dr. Redfield will you commit to the CDC now using that using that
existing authority to pay for diagnostic testing free to every American
regardless of insurance.
DR. REDFIELD, CDC HEAD: Well, I can say that we`re going to do everything
to make sure everybody can get the care–
PORTER: No not good enough. You are spending my time. Doctor Redfield, you
have the existing authority, will you commit right now to using the
authority that you have vested in you under law that provides in a public
health emergency for testing, treatment, exam, isolation without cost, yes
REDFIELD: What I`m going to say is I`m going to review it in detail with
PORTER: No. Dr. Redfield respectfully I wrote you this letter along with my
colleagues, Rosa DeLauro and Lauren Underwood, Congressman Underwood and
Congressman DeLauro we wrote you this letter one week ago. We quoted that
existing authority to you and we laid out this problem.
We asked for a response yesterday. The deadline and the time for delay have
passed. Will you commit to invoking your existing authority under
42CFR71.30 to provide for Coronavirus testing for every American regardless
of insurance coverage?
REDFIELD: What I was trying to say is that CDC is working with HHS now to
see how we operationalize that.
PORTER: Dr. Redfield I hope that answer weighs heavily on you because it is
going to weigh heavily on me and on every American family.
REDFIELD: Our intent is to make sure every American gets the care and
treatment they need at this time of this major epidemic and I`m currently
working with HHS to see how to best operationalize it.
PORTER: Dr. Redfield, you don`t need to do any work to operationalize. You
need to make a commitment to the American people so they come in to get
tested. You can operationalize the payment structure tomorrow.
REDFIELD: I think you`re an excellent questioner, so my answer is yes.
PORTER: Excellent. Everybody in America, hear that. You are eligible to go
get tested for Coronavirus and have that covered regardless of insurance.
Please, if you believe you have the illness, follow precautions. Call
first. Do everything the CDC and Dr. Fauci, God bless you for guiding
Americans in this time. But do not let a lack of insurance worsen this
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And with that, Katie Porter saved lives today never seen
anything like it. The Honorable Katie Porter will join us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PORTER: The fears of these costs are going to keep people from being
tested. For getting the care they need them from keeping their communities
safe. We live in a world where 40 percent of Americans cannot even afford a
$400 unexpected expense. We live in a world where 33 percent of Americans
put off medical treatment last year. And we have a $1,331 expense
conservatively just for testing for the Coronavirus.
Dr. Redfield, do you want to know who has the Coronavirus and who doesn`t?
PORTER: Not just rich people but everybody who might have the virus?
REDFIELD: All of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now is Democratic Congresswoman Katie
Porter of California. She`s a member of the House Oversight and Reform
Committee, where she conducted that questioning today.
Congresswoman Porter, thank you very much for joining us tonight, and I`ll
never forget the first time I saw you question anyone in a House Hearing,
and I wanted to get you on this program right away at that time because it
was the kind of questioning I`ve always dreamed about seeing.
And I started to wonder then the Washington lobbyists are going to have a
lot of trouble trying to anticipate Katie Porter questions in hearings. But
this time, this time you actually told them ahead of time what you wanted
to ask about, and it still seemed as though they weren`t ready.
PORTER: No. I`ve never tipped my hand like that before, but we wanted to
get an answer, and so we gave the CDC every opportunity to think this
through. My colleagues and I, Rosa DeLauro and Lauren Underwood sent a
letter a week ago. We gave a deadline of yesterday.
And then last night, working with the staff on the Oversight Committee, my
staff and I let the CDC know that we wanted an answer to this question.
Having given both the question and the answer in advance, something I
certainly never did as a professor, it was stunning see someone to still
O`DONNELL: I`ll just say from my own experience in Senate hearings when I
was working there, it`s often the case that you actually tell them,
especially if it`s the administration, you tell them ahead of time what you
want to ask about because you`re really hoping to get an answer.
Usually when you do that, you do get something that`s clearly responsive
because they knew this was the big question that was coming. So it`s a
stunning thing to watch. But how do you make sure that they`re really going
to deliver on this?
PORTER: We think you have to be prepared for exactly what we had happen
here, which is an effort to delay, to dither, to obfuscate with words, and
the stakes really here are life and death. And so he should have come
prepared to give a clear answer.
If he wasn`t willing to use the existing law to save lives, then he should
have had an alternate plan. And still what we heard was a bunch of mumbo
jumbo about operationalize and intent and continuing conversations.
We need testing for every American who is symptomatic of Coronavirus
without regard to insurance, and we frankly needed it several weeks ago. So
I`m very glad that I was able to put the CDC Director, get that answer out
of him, hold his feet to the fire, and I`ll tell you I intend to continue
doing that and hold him to that promise that he made today because it
wasn`t a promise to me. It was a promise to the American people.
O`DONNELL: Yes, and after you made it very clear, and said, okay,
everybody, listen to what you just heard him say, you then got him to say
it himself. And so you`ve got him right there on the record in that
testimony saying, yes, we`re going to do this.
Now, there is some information tonight about the package Nancy Pelosi is
negotiating with the administration that indicates this might actually get
free testing might get written into law over and above where it`s already,
as you`ve pointed out, written into law for the CDC. So it might - do you
have any awareness of whether it will be in the legislative package
PORTER: We`re told that it`s likely to be in the package. We spent all day
today, you know, waiting to hear and hoping to vote on that package. But I
think it`s really important for Americans to understand that the job here
was done. A prior administration, the Obama Administration finalized this
regulation contemplating, learning from past public health emergencies.
So while it`s great that the House is going to take action and very much a
package has more in it than just free testing. It has other supports to
help people. But the reality is we could have been promising people free
testing regardless of insurance status long ago, using the existing law if
only the people, the officials in charge of enforcing the law did their
O`DONNELL: The Honorable Katie Porter gets tonight`s last word. Thank you
very much for joining us again tonight.
PORTER: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: “The 11th Hour” with Brian Williams starts now.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, a nation unsettled over drastic
measures and financial fallout amid a crisis of leadership and a lack of
faith in the ability of anyone to reverse its course.
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Copyright 2020 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the