Coronavirus TRANSCRIPT: 5/15/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks for being with us tonight. I will see you
again on Monday. Now, it`s time for a special hour here on MSNBC, “Life in
the Time of Coronavirus,” which is hosted by Dr. Zeke Emanuel and our own
Ali Velshi. Good evening, Ali.
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. Have a great weekend. We will
see you on Monday. We have got a lot to get to this evening, including a
new $3 trillion plan to get financial aid to Americans in pain. The House
tonight has just passed this legislation. We`re going to talk to a member
of the progressive caucus who says the bill needs to be even bolder.
There is a lot in play tonight and a lot to talk about. Let`s get right
down to business. Just a few hours ago, during a press event on vaccine
development, the president declared “vaccine or no vaccine, we`re back.”
Now, Trump wants you to believe we`re back, but let`s be incredibly clear
about this. We are not back. There is a long, long way to go before we are
anywhere close to making declarations like that.
As of tonight, there are 1,450,637 reported cases of coronavirus in the
United States, 88,101 confirmed deaths from coronavirus in the United
States, and that is likely an undercount.
Just tonight, CDC Director Robert Redfield tweeted that all 12 of the
forecasting models that the CDC follows predicts the United States is
heading towards more than 100,000 coronavirus deaths by June the 1st.
That`s a little over two weeks from today.
One of the main coronavirus models used by the White House now project that
147,000 people will die in the U.S. by the beginning of August. Some 36
million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance claims in just two
months. Nearly 15 percent of the U.S. workforce was unemployed as of April.
And last night, Governor Andrew Cuomo assailed the federal response to the
pandemic in a discussion with Rachel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): They left it to these 50 different states with no
real guidance or national standard. You`re right, New York, the curve is
coming down, you take New York out, the curve is going up, Rachel. And
they`re opening, you know.
MADDOW (voice-over): Yes.
CUOMO: By what standard? So, it`s – I don`t think that`s going to change
for the second wave if there is a second wave because that`s the federal
course and the ship has sailed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: All right. Does that sound like we`re back? You got to admit it`s
interesting to hear the president praise his administration`s efforts to
develop a desperately needed vaccine only to dismiss those very efforts
moments later today because he thinks we`re already over the worst of this.
Conflicting messages like that are at the heart of a scathing editorial in
The Lancet, one of the best known general medicine journals in the world.
It says, “The administration is obsessed with magic bullets – vaccines,
new medicines or a hope that the virus will simply disappear. But only a
steadfast reliance on basic public health principles, like test, trace, and
isolate, will see the emergency brought to an end, and this requires an
effective national public health agency.”
The degree to which the pandemic is becoming political is frankly alarming.
At the very same event, where the president dismissed a need for a vaccine,
he promised to have one ready for widespread use by the end of the year.
That`s two months after the presidential election.
Trump wants you to make a choice in November in part based on the notion
that a vaccine will be available conveniently just after you re-elect him.
And if the timeline falls apart, what does it matter? He was just re-
elected. This kind of promise is clearly political, but it is also
remarkably dangerous because it affects policy decisions that the state and
the federal level and those decisions could mean life or death if we get
Here is the thing. You cannot talk yourself into a vaccine. The fastest a
vaccine has ever been produced from start to finish is five years. Now,
some parts of the process could be sped up. Governments and companies and
foundations are all trying to do that desperately.
But as philanthropist Bill Gates noted last month, in the final phase of
vaccine trials, phase three, you must give the vaccine to thousands,
probably tens of thousands of people, and make sure it works and make sure
it`s not dangerous, and that takes time because “it occurs in what is
called natural disease conditions.” You must wait and see if the vaccine
reduces how many people get sick.”
We have to be real about this. It would be great to have a vaccine ready to
go in six months. It would be great to have one ready the day after the
election. Better still, the day before the election. But it`s not likely to
happen and telling Americans, otherwise, is dangerous and it`s wrong and it
could cost lives.
Leading off our discussion tonight and joining us for the entire hour is my
co-pilot, Dr. Zeke Emanuel, MSNBC senior medical contributor and a senior
adviser for health policy in the Obama administration. Also joining
tonight, Ron Klain, who worked alongside Zeke in the Obama White House,
including as a senior aide to Vice President Biden as the Ebola czar.
Gentlemen, thanks to both of you for being here.
Ron, I`m going to start with you. Zeke is the brains of the operation, but
I think we need to lay bare the degree to which this is not aspirational,
what Donald Trump is talking about with the vaccine by the end of the year,
RON KLAIN, EBOLA CZAR, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: Yes, I mean, look, I think
everyone recognizes that the nation`s leading infectious disease expert,
Dr. Tony Fauci, said it would take 12 to 18 months. Dr. Rick Bright, who
was in charge of this program until he was removed by the president, said
it would take 12 to 18 months optimistically, aggressively.
So, that`s talking about having this vaccine available sometime in the
middle of 2021 or so. I think that`s, as you said, Ali, that would be an
incredible achievement, maybe a historical record-breaking achievement.
Why? Because the scientific factors you cited are part of it, but then you
have to make hundreds of millions of doses of this vaccine if we are going
to get it to everyone.
The president today was talking about an international strategy. It`s not
clear what his international strategy is. We have to have agreements on
getting some of it for us here in the U.S. And so the prospect of
discovering the vaccine, testing it, making it, delivering it,
administering it, getting people to take it, that sadly is not going to
happen by the end of this year.
VELSHI: Ron, give me your best – go ahead. You take it over because I need
to hear what you`ve got to say about this, Zeke.
ZEKE EMANUEL, MSNBC SENIOR MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I was interested. It does
seem to me that the sort of heavy investment in vaccines while they`re
simultaneously you might say removing themselves from establishing
guidelines, minimum criteria for businesses to open, schools to open, is an
I think it obviously frustrated Governor Cuomo. But is it the right bet for
this president that he can`t control how businesses open up, but he can put
a lot of resources behind a vaccine, even if it takes longer than he is
KLAIN: Well, I think it`s almost exactly backwards, Zeke. That is –
obviously, we should invest whatever it takes to the vaccine and also
therapeutics, too, that`s part of this, which is better treatments so that
people who gets sick can get to recover with a higher percentage of serving
more quickly, all these things.
We need it invest everything we can in those things. But those are the
unknowns. We don`t know what will work. We don`t know when it will work.
The problem is we`re not investing in the knowns. We know that testing
helps us to identify cases. We know that tracing the contacts of people
with tests can help us isolate chains of transmission. We know that these
standard public health interventions, they work.
And so yes, I`m all for Operation Warp Speed, the Manhattan Project,
whatever kind of a name you want to put on this stuff. I hope we invest
maximally in that. Yes. But there are things we can do right now that save
lives right now and why aren`t we doing those things?
VELSHI: Zeke, I want to ask you something. There are things you can
control. The economy is actually based on animal spirits, right? People can
actually decide that they want to go out and they want shop and you can do
I just want to discuss – I want you to listen to Dr. Rick Bright`s
testimony on this. I want you to please explain to our viewers what parts
of the vaccine development process you can speed up and what you can`t.
Listen to what Rick Bright had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK BRIGHT, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE BIOMEDICAL ADVANCED RESEARCH AND
DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY: A lot of optimism is swirling around at 12 to 18-
month time frame if everything goes perfectly. We`ve never seen everything
go perfectly. My concern is if we rush too quickly and consider cutting out
critical steps, we may not have a full assessment of the safety of that
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Zeke, there is an anti-vac movement in this country that dines out
on the idea that vaccines are unsafe. Now, generally speaking, they go
through very rigorous testing processes to make sure they are safe. There
is always a danger with vaccines.
But if you`re looking for one that you`re going to give to the general
population, you can`t skip the step that determines safety and you can`t
get there without doing tests on people, lots of people over time.
EMANUEL: Yes. So, the estimate is that we`ll probably need to do – I think
Pfizer is talking about 8,000 people. Johnson & Johnson is talking about
20,000 people in the phase three trial to if the vaccine is effective.
That is going to both give you a sense of the safety as well as its
effectiveness. But, you know, if you then going to give it to 330 million
people undoubtedly, you`re going to find some problems that weren`t
The chief problem that people are looking for is what`s called antibody
enhancement. That is the antibody actually makes the virus worse and that,
I think, got a lot of people afraid because the original SARS attempt had
that problem. But, you know, 20,000 is a good number. It`s a big number.
But even there, there are going to be a lot of things. We won`t know if
that proves effective and then we begin scaling it. So, we are going to
have to monitor when we roll it out to all sorts of people. I think that`s
one of the issues.
VELSHI: So, Ron, therein lies the issue. If you have a bridge and it`s
going to take three years to build and you put, you know, three times as
many people on it, you can reduce the time it takes to build that bridge by
two-thirds. You can`t do the same thing with viruses.
If we discovered a virus that we thought works tomorrow, there`s a certain
amount of time in testing that has to be taken before you can even start to
manufacture enough for 330 million people, let alone the rest of the world.
KLAIN: Yes, good question. As Zeke said, you have to test it carefully. You
have to test it. There are going to be some problems when you administer
the vaccine of this scope and scale. But the testing itself takes time. The
manufacturing takes time.
I mean, the president launched his Operation Warp Speed to try to speed up
the manufacturing, but we just don`t make this amount of vaccine of a
brand-new vaccine in a short period of time. It`s just going to take time
to do that.
And then, Ali, we have to talk about the complexity of actually getting it
in people`s arms. That is not an easy thing. If you 330 million doses, 300
million doses, where are people going to get these shots? How they are
going to get these shots? And then there is question of vaccine resistance.
You alluded to it. It`s not a small problem.
I mean, polls already show that large numbers of Americans say they are not
going to take the vaccine. The president himself hasn`t really committed
that he will take it, and he himself has kind of been back and forth on
this. So I think we are in a real struggle to get this vaccine all the way
to the finish line.
EMANUEL: Ron, I was curious. If you were in charge now, you`ve said that
testing and contact tracing would be your top priority, how much of the
economy do you think we can open up over the summer and convince people
that it`s okay, especially, I ask you this given the fact that we can be
outside in the summer and it`s thought that, you know, there is not that
much transmission of virus once people are sitting outside. Could we do
restaurants only if they serve outside and things like that in your view?
KLAIN: Yes. Look, I think we can do a lot more things than we are doing or
at least we can be doing the things we`re going to do a lot more safely
than we`re doing. I think what concerns me is we`re almost got this again
backwards which is more than 40 states will be partially or fully open as
of Monday. That number grows every day.
The White House set a very low bar that would take to open, which is 14
days of decrease. Most of the states are opening. As a matter of fact, most
of the states are actually seeing the cases still increase. So, you know,
if we want the economy to open and stay open, not just open and close, open
close, we got to get incidents of the disease down. We got to find the
people with the disease. We got to trace their contacts.
I think if we really ramp that up, we could be in much better shape come
July. Also, you know, as you know, Zeke, the antigen test, does the faster,
cheaper, more reliable test been approved by the FDA, hopefully coming
online in July? We will see if we can make that deadline. Every testing
deadline so far has been missed by the administration.
If they make that deadline, then there is going to be the capacity to have
the kinds of millions of tests a week. You`ve been talking about for a long
time, Zeke, that will be technology feasible and that would really be a
real difference maker.
People need to think about this in common sense terms. You want to go to a
restaurant. You want to go back to work. We all do. You want to know if the
person sitting next to you has this disease or not. That is what you want
to know, right? The only way to know that is to have widespread inexpensive
VELSHI: Zeke and Ron, thank you for joining us tonight. Coming up, Judge
Clay Jenkins is the top executive in Dallas County. He is urging people to
stay home and save lives, even as Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott
pushes Texas to reopen. We`re going to find out how this is playing out in
the Dallas community. A new model says Dallas County could see 800 new
cases a day if current social distancing is not maintained. That`s next.
VELSHI: Over 350 million Americans have been affected by coronavirus stay-
at-home orders for months. And now, most states across the country are
beginning to ease restrictions and allow economies to reopen at least
Take a look at this map of re-openings. Only Connecticut, Massachusetts,
and Washington D.C. have complete stay-at-home orders still in place. Many
governors are partially reopening based on carefully thought-out plans of
Today, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that five regions of New
York State are allowed to begin phase one reopening. New York City is
notably absent from that list because it failed to meet reopening criteria,
including a 14-day period of declines in hospitalizations and new cases of
In Virginia, Governor Ralph Northam eased some restrictions today, hinting
the possibility of beaches reopening next week, but urged residents to stay
at home as much as possible.
In Arizona, Governor Doug Ducey took the first step of opening community
pools and water parks. Despite taking steps toward reopening, coronavirus
hot spots still exist across the country and are overwhelming hospitals and
And public health experts warn that easing restrictions is likely to cause
a surge of new infections. We`re seeing that in states where governors have
been most aggressive in opening up public spaces and businesses.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott allowed the state`s stay-at-home order to expire
two weeks ago. Businesses like barber shops, nail salons, and restaurants
were allowed to reopen with reduced capacity. But yesterday, Texas recorded
58 fatalities. That`s the highest single day count since the onset of the
coronavirus pandemic. Texas now has over 44,000 reported cases of
coronavirus and has had 1,200 deaths.
But a battle is brewing in Texas between state and local officials on these
reopening guidelines. State officials have warned the leaders of three
urban areas over local orders that go beyond the governor`s guidelines. The
state this week told them to loosen those orders, which call for measures
like wearing masks in public and sheltering in place.
The order in Dallas County expires tonight even as new cases there dipped
below 200 for the first time since the beginning of the month. Meanwhile, a
new model predicts that Dallas County could see 800 new coronavirus
infections every day by early July if people continue interacting as much
or more than they are now.
Joining me now – joining us now is Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. He is
the highest elected official in Dallas County, Texas. Judge Jenkins, thanks
for being with us. Tell me what the situation is here because you have this
situation in Dallas County where your numbers have just dropped a little,
but you got estimates and forecasts that indicate a quadrupling of cases if
you don`t be careful.
CLAY JENKINS, DALLAS COUNTY JUDGE: That`s right. It`s going to be very
difficult for us to even keep the level of compliance we have now because I
received that letter that you pointed out from the attorney general, saying
all the recommendations that the governor had put in his Texas document. He
doesn`t want any sort of check in or enforcement on that. He is set on
Monday to open still more businesses and more percentages of people to go
to those businesses.
So with that document that talks about 800 a day is looking at, that`s if
we stay at about 60 percent compliant. We were 72 percent compliant before
the governor tried to reopen during this upswing before the scientist told
him to. Now, we`re at 60 and it looks like, you know, we`re actually going
in the wrong direction.
But we`re doing everything we can, working with faith and business leaders
to try to encourage people to not focus on what is legal but focus on what
EMANUEL: Can I ask you a question about your business leaders and your
citizens? It sounds like the business leaders in Dallas are really for
keeping the restrictions on because they think it`s important for public
health. So, why would they open up and why would they respond? And
similarly, the people in Dallas, I think, care. Why are they themselves
loosening the restrictions?
JENKINS: Well, what happens is when you`re talking about 60 percent
compliant, you got some people who are completely 100 percent compliant
with safer at home. You have other people who maybe don`t do any of it. But
that compliance rate before the governor put out those opportunities to go
to restaurants, to go to movie theaters, et cetera, was about 72. Now, it`s
60. As he opens more and more things, we got to really work hard to keep it
What our business leaders understand as the best way to have a sustainable
recovery is to not screw this up by opening way too early and, you know,
that`s really a hard hit to consumer confidence. If we open up and then two
or three weeks later, we`re quadrupling cases, people go from saying this
sucks but it`s going to get better and I`ll be able to deal with it into
saying this sucks and I don`t know when it`s going to end because it gotten
better for a few days and then it got worse.
We`re trying to – despite what the governor is doing, we`re trying to stop
that from happening. The business groups and I came up with stay safe
business. If you take a pledge to do two things, follow all the guidance
that local health authorities are asking for.
And if your business is – the risk of your business is within the color
code. We created a color coding system to help our constituents and
residents know what is safe and what is not safe. Then you can get that
seal and that gives people a lot of confidence to go to those businesses.
VELSHI: Judge, you just made a comment, sort of music to my ears as a
business and economics guy. You talked about consumer confidence and that
has until this pandemic meant something entirely differently, right? It`s
about do I have confidence that my income is going to continue and the
economy is going to be OK so I can buy this washing machine or I can go out
to dinner or I can go to an event.
This consumer confidence is now reliant on something that is entirely
different, right? It`s the idea that we will get to the other side of this
thing and how good are our authorities in making that happen. How are you
able to gauge on what consumers want where you are?
Because you got this tension where the governor says you can`t at a local
jurisdiction do something more restrictive than what the governor or what
the state is doing, and yet you got people who really want more certainty
about the future.
JENKINS: That`s right. So, what I can do is persuade. And right now, what
the little flash poles on the nightly news are saying is 80 percent of the
people who answer say we`re going too fast, 20 people say we`re not going
And so, what we`re trying to do is we are helping that 80 percent. We`re
empowering business leaders on a very important constituency, mamas,
because you know the person that makes the decisions about what the family
does is the matriarch.
So, getting them that downloadable document as to when it is safe to get
that haircut or go to a restaurant or go to movies or tell the kids to play
contact sports. They get that. They can download it. They can use it to
keep themselves safe. That is the best way also to keep our community safe.
We got a lot of people who want to know what is safe, want to do what is
safe but really didn`t before the doctors came up with it, didn`t have an
easy to use guideline based on the situation on the ground in Dallas, the
number of cases, ICU admissions, et cetera, that we have in Dallas. What
should you do right now and how should you do it? We`re getting them that.
VELSHI: Judge, thank you for your sound leadership in Dallas County. Judge
Clay Jenkins joining us from Dallas County, Texas. Coming up, a lot of
people are wondering if summer camps are going to go on for kids and will
schools be able to reopen in September.
But these questions are coming as we starting to hear reports of young
children getting very sick from mysterious illnesses that could be linked
to COVID-19. NBC News medical correspondent Dr. John Torres has an in-depth
look on children getting sick, next.
VELSHI: We can see the effects of the pandemic all around us, but the virus
at the center of it remains a bit of a mystery. Medical experts still don`t
completely understand how the virus is transmitted from one person to
another or the range of ways the virus can attack the body.
We know that older people and people with pre-existing health conditions
are more - are most prone to severe cases. But the virus doesn`t exclude
people in any age group and we`re still discovering new symptoms and scary
complications. NBC News Medical Correspondent Dr. John Torres has the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. JOHN TORRES, NBC NEWS MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Doctors are
now reporting, they are seeing kidney damage in COVID patients. One new
study found 37 percent developed acute kidney injury, including nearly 90
percent of patients on ventilators.
DR. ADEL BASSILY-MARCUS, MOUNT SINAI CRITICAL CARE PHYSICIAN: The majority
of patients have kidney problem, either slowing or completely shut down of
TORRES (voice-over): So how can a respiratory virus attack the kidneys?
There are several theories. A special receptor on the kidneys could make it
easy for the coronavirus to attach and attack the organ like it does in the
lungs. There could also be extreme inflammation that damages the kidneys.
Or the virus can cause blood clots that can get stuck in a kidney and cut
Blood clots could also be the clue to solving another mysterious COVID
complication, strokes that are hitting people in a surprising way.
BASSILY-MARCUS: We have seen very unusually high number of patients who
have strokes, including young population.
TORRES (voice-over): Even many COVID patients in their 30s and 40s, who
seemed healthy are suffering strokes. We originally believed the
coronavirus spared children. Now there are more than 100 reports of a
serious inflammatory reaction to COVID-19, impacting children as young as
The new disease called MIS-C causes inflammation in the body, putting it
into a shock like state and causing organ failure. Symptoms include,
prolonged fever, rash, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea.
DR. JANE NEWBURGER, DIRECTOR KAWASAKI PROGRAM, BOSTON CHILDREN`S HOSPITAL:
Only some children get it. They don`t catch it from each other. And it`s
likely that some aspect of the way an individual`s immune system is
constituted, makes you more susceptible to doing this.
TORRES (voice-over): It`s considered rare, but at least three children have
died from the illness, which is now suspected in at least 19 states. 14-
year-old Jack McMorrow who, like many other sick kids, had no preexisting
conditions and no COVID-19 symptoms.
JOHN MCMORROW, JACK`S FATHER: He had almost 105 and he could not walk. He
was flaming, his chest hurt, he couldn`t breathe.
TORRES (voice-over): At the hospital, Jack tested positive for COVID-19. He
spent more than a week in the ICU.
JACK MCMORROW: It was painful it was scary.
TORRES: Do you think we`ll be seeing more cases of this syndrome?
NEWBURGER: I don`t think this virus is going to go away very quickly. So I
do think we will continue to see cases.
TORRES: There is a treatment that seems to help some kids recover. It
includes a combination of steroids and something called IVIG, a
concentrated form of antibodies. But it`s not a cure. So as we continue to
learn more about this mysterious virus, a stark reminder to protect your
kids, just like you would any adult Ali, Zeke?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: And that was NBC News Medical Correspondent Dr. John Torres. Zeke
here`s the thing. The numbers are not high in kids getting these unusual
complications. But any parent of any kid who has a kid who breaks out with
something like this and isn`t sure how it`s going to go, is going to become
very, very nervous about reintroducing them into things like school or
DR. ZEKE EMANUEL, MSNBC SENIOR MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. This
Kawasaki like disease or MIS-C is scary. For one thing, you have the fevers
and then you have all these red rashes. Rashes on the hand, rashes on the
body, lumps by lymph nodes. And so any parent would be very afraid of that
and I think it is scary.
We do have to understand it isn`t that common. We have about 100 cases all
across the country, even with 1.4 million people having COVID-19. So it is
a complication, but it`s not that common at all.
VELSHI: Yes. Talk to me about the other thing that seems to be a little
more common that John was talking about and that is strokes. We`ve heard
from some doctors that blood thinners may be a bit of an answer to this.
There are lot of Americans on blood thinners over-the-counter and
prescribed, it`s very common. They also have side effects and dangers
associated with them. What do we know about this?
EMANUEL: So we don`t know a lot. But, it`s thought that one of the ways
that the COVID gets antibodies to them and the antibodies can activate a
pathway called the complement pathway. And this is a way that when the
antibodies block on to a bacteria or a bad defective cell that they can
destroy that cell, so it doesn`t affect them.
But complement can also activate the coagulation system and it`s thought
that there might be some relationship here between antibodies against COVID
leading to complement activation and coagulation and that`s causing these
problems of clots everywhere, both in big vessels, small vessels, the
strokes and maybe some of these other organ failures that we`re seeing,
whether it`s in the kidney or in the heart or in the lungs.
VELSHI: Zeke we have started this week to hear from certain universities
across the country about things they`re going to do. A number of them are
going to a modified schedule starting September.
What do we think about schools, let alone universities, but about schools
and people going back to school? Donald Trump thinks it`s a great idea and
he disagrees with Anthony Fauci who said let`s not move too quickly on
EMANUEL: Well, I think it`s a little early to tell. We have to see how the
summer is going to go and I think we have to be prepared that we might not
have school. And one of the good advantages is will also be able to see
what the upshot was in Denmark, parts of Germany, other places that have
reopened school and see how the children have done in that situation.
One of the things we`re sure, if we start school in September it`s not
going to be like school in September of 2019. We`re going to have to have a
lot more handwashing, distancing of students, probably wearing - not
probably, definitely wearing face masks in the class.
And I think beyond the students, probably the big worry are for teachers
and administrators, some of whom are definitely older and some of whom have
comorbid conditions. And so I think that will complicate the restarting of
school in the fall.
There are advantages to restarting the school and we should think of those
too. I mean, there are risks, but there are also important advantages for
kids, the socialization process. Learning doesn`t work for very young kids
so almost all countries that have started it have started in Grade 1
through 4. So I anticipate will open some schools.
VELSHI: All right, Zeke, thank you. Coming up, breaking news. Tonight, the
House passed another economic aid package, this one providing a staggering
$3 trillion. Answering the call for massive relief for Americans hurting
during the pandemic. Congressman Ro Khanna joins me next to tell us why he
voted yes and why he thinks this emergency aid is so needed right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know four restaurants right off the top of my head
that are not going to reopen due to this. So it always seems like the small
guy that gets hurt.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`ve had to scale back our employees. We`ve had to
let employees go.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s pretty scary. Are people going to be willing to
come back out? We`re doing everything we can and we may make it or we may
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: All right. What is Congress doing to help small businesses? Well
what is Congress doing to help you and people you know? Tonight the House
of Representatives voted to allow proxy voting for the first time in
history, and just moments ago the House passed a $3 trillion Corona relief
- or coronavirus relief legislation. It`s known as the HEROES Act.
The legislation has no chance of passing in the Senate. Think of it as an
opening bid from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the next round of
negotiations with Republicans. The House legislation includes more stimulus
paychecks; more unemployment benefits; a $1 dollars for state, local and
tribal governments; $200 billion for essential workers; $175 billion for
housing assistance; $75 dollars for coronavirus testing, contact tracing
and treatment; $10 billion for small businesses and $3.6 billion to protect
Republicans have called the legislation a “socialist wish list.” Only one
House Republican voted in support, and that`s Congressman Pete King of New
York. 14 Democrats voted against it. Progressives say the bill does not go
far enough to fund Safety Net programs.
Joining us now Congressman Ro Khanna, Democrat who represents California`s
17th District. He`s a member of the Budget Committee and a Vice Chair of
the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Congressman good to see you. Thank
you for joining us.
REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Ali, good to be on. Hope you`re doing well.
VELSHI: I am. And I saw a tweet from you that I`m just trying to pull up in
which you discussed the reasons why you did vote for it, but you wanted
other things in this bill. You said in one of your series of tweets. “I
wish we had added Medicare and Medicaid expansion and a paycheck
guarantee.” You almost voted in favor of this grudgingly, because you don`t
think it does enough. Talk to me about that.
KHANNA: Well, first of all, I do think it`s critical and I`m proud that
we`ve asked it. I mean it`s going to give $1 trillion to cities and states.
That`s going to mean people aren`t going to face education cuts, teachers
aren`t going to be laid off. It`s helping pay essential workers who deserve
a raise. So there`s a lot of good things in it.
But the biggest problem I had was the COBRA expansion. The studies show,
clearly, that it`s actually 25 percent more expensive than giving everyone
subsidies to get an ACA Gold Plan and it`s certainly more expensive than
giving anywhere - everyone Medicare or Medicaid. And so I`d much rather in
a health care crisis we have we`re going to expand either the ACA subsidies
or ideally expand Medicare or Medicaid.
EMANUEL: How does the Congress go now, because the Senate won`t pass this?
What do you think is possible to negotiate with either Secretary Mnuchin or
KHANNA: Well, one of the things I`ve said is, if you want to give
businesses a safe harbor, because you don`t want them to have unlimited
liability, then pass the workers protection, pass the workers safety, pass
the hazard pay, pass the commonsense provisions we have to stand up for
essential workers, and then maybe that can be a safe harbor.
And so I think that`s a place where we can have negotiation. Bill Galston
has talked about a possible compromise there. Second, we have to do
something for cities and states. I mean, this idea that it`s only going to
help blue state is just illogical.
I mean, the facts show that red states are hurting just as much. They have
teachers as well. They have firefighters. They have a county hospital. It`s
important to realize that a lot of the county rely on this funding to fund
their own hospital. So I do think we`re going to get the money of state
localities and that`s going to be part of the final bill.
VELSHI: Congressman are you worried about Democrats breaking ranks on this?
You had initially voted against the test bill. You weren`t intending to
vote against the final bill. But the bottom line is, there are a lot of
conservatives in Congress who are starting to find religion about the
It wasn`t present when we were talking about tax cuts, but now everybody`s
worried about overspending and how we can`t get carried away with all of
this stuff. Add a few Democrats to that and you could end up stalling
further efforts to pass relief bills in Congress.
KHANNA: Well, I wish they would listen to some of the actual economists. I
mean Jerome Powell, who is the Chair of the Fed was a deficit hawk. But he
has said in a low interest rate environment, where inflation is not a
concern, in fact, the concern is deflation because people aren`t spending
enough. It makes absolutely no sense for us not to spend and then have
massive unemployment and a decline in consumer spending which is going to
make the deficits go even higher.
So the rational response, the most economists - even conservative
economists believe in is that you spend, you make sure that you decrease
the risk of high unemployment and then you can always pay it back at a low
interest rate. This is not ideological. This is what almost every economist
believes, including Jerome Powell.
EMANUEL: So I wanted to ask you a question. A lot of people have been
talking about infrastructure as a way of guaranteeing jobs and keeping the
economy going and being good for the long term. Why wasn`t that part of
KHANNA: Well, it should be part of the bill. I mean I think there is only
so much you can do in any bill and this was a bill more about immediate
relief, about making sure people who couldn`t make rent had the ability to
get assistance. People who were at risk of laying off the folks in their
cities, they got assistance. Stimulus package.
But I completely agree with you. Long-term, to rebuild this country we need
an infrastructure investment that creates enormous amounts of jobs.
VELSHI: Yes. I suspect I`ll grow full head of hair before we get an
infrastructure gig done in this country. Good idea, though, it might be.
Thanks to you Congressman. Congressman Ro Khanna of California.
Coming up, Zeke`s got a perspective as a doctor on a big decision that`s on
a lot of parents minds right now as we face summer with coronavirus.
But first take a look. Every parent knows online schooling for kids cooped
up at home. often while their parents are trying to work from home
themselves is not ideal. This is also hard on teachers who missed their
classes and getting to do what they love. So we want to take a moment to
appreciate all that teachers are doing right now for their students.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA DURSO, SOCIAL STUDIES AND ESL TEACHER, HACKENSACK HIGH SCHOOL: I
never would have imagined doing this in this little basement office. You
can really do it from anywhere, because teaching is truthfully something
that just is from within.
ABI WILBERDING, 10TH GRADE ENGLISH TEACHER, VON STEUBEN METROPOLITAN H.S.:
I really miss my high fives at the door and what they symbolize. My
students bring that energy and that effervescence to a classroom.
NIKI SHAFER, FIFTH GRADE TEACHER, NORTH FREEDOM ELEMENTARY: I started
bagging up books for my students and I labeled them and I did that so we
can talk about books still and have that wonderful connection.
RYAN BERBA, U.S. HISTORY TEACHER, DOWNTOWN MAGNETS HIGH SCHOOL: Finding
ways to be creative and personalize education, because I think it`s builds
relationships that kids really miss the most. So whether it`s reading rap
songs and making those songs relevant to history.
BRANDON GILLIAM, 5TH GRADE SCIENCE TEACHER, STOUT FIELD ELEMENTARY: I
really wanted to challenge our students to try things at home with what
they had around them. The challenge is that, that really brought out their
LATISHA GREGG, FIFTH GRADE TEACHER, HARLEM LINK CHARTER SCHOOL: You get to
see them being more of themselves, more of them opening up in a different
environment, which is amazing.
WHITNEY FARRAND, EIGHT GRADE MATH TEACHER, MOUNT VERNON SCHOOL: Parents
have expressed their concerns of having to help their children with eighth
grade math. When they receive a phone call home, they are happy to know
that I`m there.
PHOEBE DIAMOND, THIRD GRADE TEACHER, CHABOT ELEMENTARY: Way to go Ms. D. No
wonder Ella likes you so much. She says you`re a better teacher than me and
I can`t disagree. From a dad.
BRANDON MYERS, MANUFACTURING TEACHER, MAXWELL HIGH SCHOOL OF TECHNOLOGY:
We`ve already made and turned over 738 of these ear strain relieves, which
is I think incredible. They prove to me that they can make something
amazing. They`re part of the heroes.
SARA GEIST GEOMETRY TEACHER, MANHATTAN VILLAGE ACADEMY: Thank you for your
patience with me with your other teachers as we figure out what we`re
JENNIFER SIMEON, CIVICS AND LAW STUDIES TEACHER, MIAMI LAKES K-9 CENTER:
Thank you for completing your assignments, continue to do so and I hope to
see you really soon. But I`m so.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Happy Teacher Appreciation
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Tonight, we talk about new developments in how coronavirus affects
kids. How early on the data seemed to indicate that kids weren`t getting
the virus at the same rate as adults, but now we`re seeing children
affected by other COVID related illnesses. Zeke, as we wrap up tonight, as
we`ve been thinking about children a lot on this show, what`s your
EMANUEL: Ali, these COVID related diseases like the Kawasaki syndrome or
the multi-system inflammatory syndrome presenting in children is really
scary, especially because, as you said, we initially thought children were
largely safe from COVID. Now we know that children can experience serious
harms. Some end up in the ICU, some on ventilators and even a few die.
But we need to keep some perspective on COVID-19 in children. Children make
up 20 percent of Americans and yet they account for less than 2 percent of
all COVID infections. And across the whole country, the CDC reports fewer
than 100 deaths for people under the age of 25.
We`re all suffering in this pandemic. But maybe children are suffering
most. May be hard for us adults to appreciate it. But, overnight, children
were separated from all their friends, forced to stay at home, and to try
to learn from a screen. Their sports, their plays, their dance classes and
all the other activities were abruptly halted and they`re looking at summer
months with lots of free time, no structured activities and a limited
ability to go outside. That`s a bad combination.
What can we do to make things better for children? I propose that we open
up day camps this summer focused on outdoor activities. Long sleepaway
camps are possible too, but day camps are accessible to more children from
more economic backgrounds.
Outdoor, as we know, transmission of the virus is very, very low and the
benefits of socialization, exercise, learning and more regulated nutrition
for children would be enormous. Starting camps will require a huge amount
of logistical and financial effort by adults and this will not be risk free
to parents when children, unfortunately, do get the virus and bring it
But nothing we do now is risk free. Everything has some serious risks. The
same way we are developing guidelines for reopening stores and offices, we
can develop guidelines for camps too. Parents would have to adopt
additional precautions like having children shower the minute they get home
and keeping kids separate from at risk grandparents. I think it would be
I`ve never been a big camp advocate, but our kids need some structured
socialization and outdoor time now to recover that taste of a normal
childhood. We can use what we already know about transmission and what
we`re going to learn over the summer to do the least - at least that much
for the children.
VELSHI: Zeke it`s wise. But all the children watching us shut off in the
minute you said daily showers as soon as they got home. But generally good
advice. Good to see you my friend. Always great to spend Friday evenings
with your Dr. Zeke Emanuel. Thank you for sharing your expertise.
If you want more of Dr. Zeke`s insights into the coronavirus check out his
podcast, “Making the Call.” New episodes every Wednesday.
I`m Ali Velshi you can catch me tomorrow and every weekend morning starting
at 8:00 a.m. Eastern. And a special programming note, tune into MSNBC
tomorrow night to watch former President Barack Obama`s speech to the Class
of 2020. That airs at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Joy Reid is going to have a
preview starting at 7:00 p.m. Eastern and I`ll be back at 9:00 p.m. Eastern
to talk about efforts to reopen the economy and get back to normal.
The “11th Hour with Brian Williams” begins right now.
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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