STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Voters casting ballots in six states including, of course, that key battleground state of Michigan. Our coverage here on MSNBC is going to start at 6:00 p.m. Eastern with Brian Williams, Rachel Maddow, Nicolle Wallace, and I`m going to be over at the big board.
Thank you for being with us. Don`t go anywhere. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes is up next.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s going to disappear one day. It`s like a miracle. It will disappear.
HAYES: The entire nation of Italy goes on lockdown as our domestic spin continues.
TRUMP: This blindsided the world.
HAYES: Tonight, new cases, new deaths and new concerns about exponential growth in America as the testing shortage continues.
TRUMP: Anybody that needs a test, there`s a test.
HAYES: Plus, what we know about at least four members of Congress self- quarantined after contact with the coronavirus patient. Then, what we know about today`s market collapse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of the major indexes down by record amounts.
HAYES: And why leadership in a time of crisis is on the ballot in six states tomorrow.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump does not have a natural ability to understand the coronavirus.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think there`s no confidence in the president.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Well, we are in it now. Today, we saw Wall Street have the worst day since 2008. The Dow Jones fell over 2,000 points, the biggest single-day drop in history. For context, the next largest single-day point drop was just short of 1,200 points and that happened 11 days ago.
We`re going to talk about all this in just a bit. But if you thought despite the President`s happy talk, despite him waving away coronavirus concerns, despite the president tweeting today that there`s nothing to see here, it is not worse than the flu, despite the President`s assurances of the case would "go to zero soon," and his hope it would "disappear like a miracle," the United States is in a Coronavirus outbreak.
Right now, there are over 600 confirmed cases. For comparison, and this is sort of important, this is the trajectory of the coronavirus in Italy. Italy started seeing a surge in cases in February. Right now, we are tracking on par with Italy. We started seeing cases about the same time. We were just a little delayed.
Today, Italy has more than 9,000 cases of coronavirus with over 460 confirmed deaths. In fact, just this evening, Italy`s Prime Minister announced he is expanding the preventative lockdown from just northern Italy, to the whole country. He said people across the country should not leave their homes other than for work and emergencies, that all public gatherings are prohibited, including soccer matches.
And to understand why we need to take this seriously and not have a president trying to B.S. his way through it, it is worth taking a second to just understand the punishing math of exponential growth. This is what global cases look like outside of mainland China. People note that this is basically literally a textbook exponential growth chart, cases doubling every week.
And the way the exponential growth works is that when you`re in this part of it, you`re like, OK, it could be worse. And then you quickly find yourself on this part of it, which is what happened to countries around the world. Places like Italy, and China. If the total cases in America doubles every week with no mitigation and no huge public intervention, which is the pace we`ve seen elsewhere, that will put the U.S. at a million cases by midway and eight million cases by mid-June.
Right now, you`re probably hearing news of big public health policy interventions, things like schools, canceling classes, conferences being called off, teleworking. And the idea there is to slow down the spread of the virus. And it can work, OK. We`ve seen this in places like Hong Kong, and Singapore, Japan, to some extent. They`ve taken big mitigation steps like canceling public events and calling for telecommuting.
The whole point of this public health policy is aimed at what`s known as flattening the curve of the epidemic. This whole red part on the chart is conceivably, what the epidemic would look like without any public health intervention. The blue part is what happens when you can effectively take protective measures to slow out the pace of new infections. The blue, the flatter curve, that is what we`re all trying to get to, every country that`s battling this outbreak.
And that lines in the middle is the capacity of our healthcare system which is fixed. What you do not want is to be in this dark red part above the line, more patients than the system can handle. That`s when you run out ICU beds, ventilators, things like that, which happened in parts of Lombardi, Italy at the center of that outbreak. That`s what we`re trying to prevent here as a society. And no amount of happy talk or wishing away or meeting with Wall Street executives are going to do that. What is going to make sure we can handle this virus are just pretty big changes across daily society.
That is what a senior official at the Centers for Disease Control Dr. Messonnier warned everybody about two weeks ago. Remember that? She said disruption to daily life may be severe. That was back on February 25th. Back then, there were only a few dozen cases in the U.S. and I remember thinking, and a lot of people thought, oh really, closing schools, disrupts your daily life? But it was because she did the math.
In fact, the New York Times reports that her warning specifically left President Trump enraged. "That call which she was on with members of the press scared people, he shouted, referring to Dr. Messonnier`s warning. Are we at the point that we will have to start closing schools? The president added, alarmed."
We do have concrete evidence of how containing a viral outbreak can be done. The 1918 flu pandemic across the world, was the worst cold pandemic in modern industrialized history. It killed something like 30 to 50 million people worldwide. And there are two American cities have been repeatedly held up examples of what to do and what not to do.
Philadelphia held a parade amidst the pandemic and its death rate in the city spiked. On the other hand, St. Louis canceled public events and took proactive steps, and the disease remained at a manageable level throughout the crisis. The difficult challenge here that everyone is faced with policymakers, people running universities, running school systems, running cities, everyone who`s in charge in some way is that understandably, they don`t want big cancellations and disruptions. That makes sense.
The problem is what we know about the math of this virus thus far and its transmission is that it appears to be the case that those big disruptive steps are necessary to slow the spread. And right now, there is a president who is single-mindedly focused on reelection and thinks that his reelection depends on the economy.
Today, he came out and announced the possibility of some tax cuts. Basically, all he offered at a White House briefing. He left the podium to shouted questions about whether he himself had been tested for coronavirus. And just days ago, on Friday, Donald Trump just came out in front of cameras at the CDC at a Keep America Great hat and admitted that he is personally pressuring health experts not to do the things in the best interest of public health in order to artificially manipulate the numbers downward.
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TRUMP: They would like to have come off. I`d rather had the people stay, but I`d go with that. I told them to make the final decision. I would rather because I liked the numbers being where they are. I don`t need to have the numbers doubled because of one ship. That wasn`t our fault. I like the numbers -- I would rather have the numbers stay where they are. But if they want to take them off, they`ll take them off. But if that happens, all of a sudden you 240 is obviously going to be a much higher number, and probably the 11 will be a higher number.
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HAYES: I don`t need the numbers to go up. I like the numbers where they are. The numbers, the people of America who are sick or at risk. That`s what he`s talking about. The President of the United States, the leadership at the top of our government is sending the message that is literally the opposite of what we should be doing.
So right now, a lot of these important decisions are going to have to be made by local leaders, not the president. Joining me now is a senator from one of the most impacted states on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak who`s been working around the clock to help coordinate effective mitigation plan, Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington. Senator, it`s great to have you. I guess my first question is, how are things in Washington state right now?
SEN. MARIA CANTWELL (D-WA): Well, we have a lot of people working very hard around the clock to do everything they can to help increase testing and to respond to this crisis. And so, we want to thank those who`ve been on the front line, particularly evergreen hospital, who has treated so many of the patients.
HAYES: You just mentioned testing. It`s very hard to get a picture of testing in the country right now. There`s been some crowdsourcing by some great journalists at the Atlantic suggests that today we ran about 4,000 tests nationwide, but we don`t know if that number is correct or not. What we do know is that we`re testing far below on the scale or scope of a place like South Korea. What is your experience? What is your advisee like in terms of the availability of testing in your state which is one of the centers of the outbreak?
CANTWELL: Well, we`re not where we want to be on testing in my state or in the nation. But I can tell you, my state has tried to hustle. And I think as of today, the University of Washington has now set up a drive-by test site for at least the healthcare workers as part of their healthcare system. That`s a very positive step.
But we should not have any governors that are holding us back from doing more robust testing. We should have academic labs across the United States getting ready now, not only to test people for coronavirus who we suspect may be ill, but also to get information from the flu studies that people can do. Because what we are finding in our state that people who thought they had the flu are testing positive for COVID-19.
HAYES: These are people that had flu-like symptoms that that didn`t necessitate necessarily hospitalization, right? They just felt sick.
CANTWELL: No. Part of what we want to do is we want to be able to know where and how people have been impacted so we can do a better job of this mitigation right now. So Seattle had a flu study. And actually, what they found is a student from one of our high schools had that flu test, and then later because of this academic study, they found out that he had positive results for COVID-19.
So this is what we want to do. And because we have great researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, they were able to do the genetic analysis to say that he was related to the very first case that we had in Everett, Washington. So test more. Get them done faster. Release the information so that we can have the mitigation strategies that will help all of us.
HAYES: That`s my next question. Right now, it`s a very strange situation which everyone are making -- everyone is making these decisions. They`re kind of looking for guidance, right? So let`s say you had a conference that you`ve been working on for six months, and it`s going to happen. Do you do it? Do you not? Do call it off? What is the conversations with your -- with your governor or with other experts about how you direct officials, institutions, localities to make those calls in your state right now?
CANTWELL: Well, I think the governor of our state Jay Inslee is going to be on one of your later MSNBC shows tonight, so you`re going to ask him about all of the decisions. But you know, as a region, we pride ourselves on the excellence of healthcare research, whether that is the University of Washington or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. So we`re confident in the decisions that people have made to work from home.
This is you know, we`re a culture that understands working from home. We basically know how to be connected. We know how to continue to get things done. So we need the information to make smart decisions and keep moving forward.
HAYES: What are your conversations like right now that your colleagues on Capitol Hill in terms of the federal policy response look like?
CANTWELL: Well, I think -- I think my colleagues are asking myself and Senator Murray most about, well, what else do you think we should be doing because they know that we have so many cases. And you know, we really want to help the families in people in Kirkland at the Life Center. We want them and the workers there to be tested as fast as possible.
But the best thing that my colleagues can do is make sure their state is more prepared in the context of getting the tests and the equipment. And so, I just can`t emphasize enough. I know that every day we hear another report about what`s happening in the testing regime, but trust me, our academic institutions and our commercial labs need to have more testing available.
I just heard this from -- this isn`t partisan. I heard it from a Republican county executive just today who was at the meeting with the vice president. He said, my message is more testing, faster results, more equipment. And so, our call eggs and other states could be doing these things before they have the size of the outbreak that we have. Get those labs, know what their capacity is. And until they tell you it`s in the thousands of tests a day in your state, you`re not ready.
HAYES: There are specific populations that are most vulnerable exposed. Obviously in your state, the long-term care facility the most tragic example that. There`s reporting that not everyone in that facility still has been tested I think, that there are still people in there and it`s unclear what their current situation is. There may be other long-term care facilities. What is happening, both locally and at a policy level, think about those populations and making sure that long term care facilities, federal prisons, local detention facilities are being protected against?
CANTWELL: Well, that`s why you want to have this testing capacity so you don`t have to make choices every day about well, we can only get so many tests done and let`s do this. Because now at that facility you have and we want every single patient -- they should have been tested already, we want that completed. We want the workforce which is maybe as many as 70 people who`ve been impacted. We want them to have the information and be tested. We want the firefighters in the community to have the information and be tested.
So it becomes a governor on all the rest of the system, until you accomplish that goal of getting the information and turning it around in less than 24 hours.
HAYES: All right, Senator Maria Cantwell, Washington State, good luck to you. Thank you for taking some time.
CANTWELL: Thank you. Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, what we know about what happened on Wall Street today which was wild. Stocks plummeted in the worst day since the 2008 financial crisis. That`s up next in two minutes.
HAYES: So we saw something in financial markets today we haven`t seen in decades. Not only was the worst day for markets since the financial crisis, but stock collapsed so quickly today and fell so far that they triggered a so-called circuit breaker. And that`s when the market drops so sharply that trading just gets like emergency halted for 15 minutes so the market can kind of catch its breath.
Today was the first time this happened in more than 20 years. All this is borne out of global markets concerns about the economic impact broadly of the coronavirus, particularly the central story that led it all off today was what happened in oil markets. So we`re lucky to have with us someone who`s been trading oil for 25 years, Dan Dicker, the author of Shale Boom, Shale Bust: The Myth of Saudi America. Great to have you here, Dan.
DAN DICKER, INDEPENDENT OIL TRADER: Thanks.
HAYES: So oil was the sort of first domino here. Why did oil prices collapse so badly?
DICKER: OK, so let`s do a little reconnaissance. In the U.S., oil producers for a variety of reasons, we don`t have enough time, they`re doing nothing but increasing production in all markets, good markets, good prices, bad prices, it doesn`t matter, they`ve continued to increase productions.
HAYES: They`re pumping. They`re pumping and pumping.
DICKER: They`re pumping. They`re pumping. On the other side is OPEC, basically Saudi Arabia, and the Russians were doing what they can to keep their production numbers down in order to stabilize the market, make sure that oil prices do not collapse. And that`s been going on for two and a half years. That relationship between the Saudis and the Russians has been tenuous at best.
They don`t really trust each other. It`s a suspicious kind of relationship on both sides. So there was an emergency meeting because the coronavirus had in fact, estimated that demand for oil would drop precipitously over this year.
HAYES: Less cruise ships, less car miles traveled, less airplane, everything.
DICKER: Everything. Everything. So in fact, the IAEA has moved from their belief that there`s going to be 1.1 million extra barrels needed for 2020 to now thinking it`s going to be negative growth for 2020. It`s a big impact.
HAYES: So that`s -- I mean, just to be clear here. The first thing -- the first thing that`s setting all this off is everyone is looking ahead and seeing less demand for oil, right?
DICKER: Less demand for oil.
HAYES: But that`s the thing driving.
DICKER: Right. And then the Saudis of course do still want to keep oil prices pumped. So they had an emergency meeting looking for the Russians to kick in on 1.5 million barrel cut in production, a further cut. Now, they`ve been cutting them -- and remember, for the last two and a half years anyway for both of that.
HAYES: So this is a little bit -- it`s like cartel prisoner`s dilemma kind of thing, right? You`re sitting across from Russia and you say, look, if we both reduce production, we can keep the price inflated.
DICKER: Right. And the --
HAYES: But no one wants to do that because you make less money.
DICKER: Look, the Russians turned to the Saudis and they said, look, we think that U.S. shale players are vulnerable right now, and they are, so we`re not going to agree to this cut. And we`re going to just pump -- we wanted to have projects, we wanted new projects for the last two and a half years. We`re going to go forward with them.
And the Saudis said, you want to have a war for market share, and you want to have a price war, well hold my beer because we`re going to show you how it`s done. And they announced not only that they weren`t going to cut, but in fact, they were going to increase production in March which caused the market, of course, to collapse on Monday.
HAYES: So you`ve got demand going down while supply goes up, which is a recipe for the prices to go off the table.
DICKER: Exactly. And that`s precisely what they did today.
HAYES: OK. So there`s a few of knock-on effects here, right? I mean, so one thing oil drops, but it was more than oil today, right? I mean, first there`s macroeconomic effects for oil producers in the U.S. for instance. You might see places shut down. People lose their jobs. Is that a thing that you anticipate?
DICKER: It`s a negative feedback loop between coronavirus, which obviously causes a drop in growth and then the drop in oil prices which of course causes job layoffs and lessening of oil production here in the United States. Remember the U.S. economy, it`s not as dependent as Russia or Saudi Arabia, but still, 17 percent of the U.S. economy is tethered to a fossil fuel production.
HAYES: That`s high percentage, right?
DICKER: It`s -- it used to be a lot more. I mean, we`ve actually moved away from oil production as being an important part of this economy. And that also leads to oil services, manufacturing, materials, heavy equipment, all of this gets affected when oil production or in fact oil service production starts to drop.
HAYES: All right, so you see the oil price falls off the table, you`ve got that rattling through stock markets and equities and oil companies taking a hit.
HAYES: But then the credit markets have been rattled. And that`s where people are starting to feel like, OK, once you get into credit markets -- and my understanding of that has to do with a lot of high yield bonds, they`re used to be called junk bonds, that are tied to oil production.
DICKER: There`s been, I mean, there`s been easy money for five years for oil companies. They become incredibly over-leveraged. And a lot of that --
HAYES: I see. So they`re just issuing a ton of debt.
DICKER: That`s -- there`s been a ton of debt issued already. It`s been out there for years. And what they`ve been doing, they`ve been trying to whittle it down over the course of the last two years, but still there`s an enormous amount, some estimates. I don`t know if this is true, but I`ve heard estimates of up to $600 billion in triple B type debt that`s out there, and in stuff that`s even worse, triple B-minus and down as much as $2 trillion in debt that`s still out there and the banks hold a lot of that. Which is why the bank stocks are got murdered today along with the oil stocks.
HAYES: Right. So the oil price goes, then you rattle the oil companies, and then the oil companies have been borrowing money like crazy, and those bonds are owned by a bunch of banks. And now you`ve got the credit markets today looking pretty wobbly.
DICKER: At it -- you know, I don`t think it`s going to happen this way, but it does look a bit like 2008 with bad mortgage bonds that needed, in the end, to be bailed out by the federal government and the Treasury Department. I mean this is --
HAYES: This is smaller, though. This is smaller on a scale.
DICKER: It`s much -- it`s much smaller.
HAYE: In terms of the --
DICKER: But again, the liquidity problems that causes when you have this kind of credit crisis even on this lesser scale, and it`s not small, but it`s a lesser scale, what you do get is you get a need for more liquidity in which we -- the Fed has no arrows left in its quiver, because Fed Funds are already down one percent because Trump has been putting pressure on the Fed for the last three years to keep rates low.
HAYES: Right. And we`ve got a crazy flight to -- you know, flight to safety today in that --
DICKER: Bonds are lower than they`ve ever been.
HAYES: 10-year Treasury, 30-year Treasury just you know, basically, in real terms, you have the market today paying the federal government to hold this money.
DICKER: Correct. That`s where you are right now. And there`s really -- you know, it`s not like the crisis in 2008 where you could drop interest rates by 500 basis points.
HAYES: There`s nowhere to go.
DICKER: There`s nowhere to go. You can go negative like the Japanese, but it doesn`t really have a lot of -- lot of the fact that --
HAYES: To go back to the beginning here, it does seem to me that`s important as people are watching all this play out whether there`s this sort of set of Domino effects, the fundamental issue that the markets have been dealing with everywhere over the last two or three weeks is that this virus is serious and it`s going to reduce global economic activity by some percentage which no matter what your financial system is, what your equities are, like there`s going to be a downturn.
DICKER: And again, a little history is important here. We`ve had 10 years without a recession which has never happened before. And this has been overdue for three years. And in fact, Trump has held it off by using tax cuts, by removing regulation, by giving --
HAYES: Going to Fed successfully.
DICKER: Leading the Fed to keep interest rates lower. And now that we have a real crisis that`s coming, there`s very little left that can be done about what`s going to be. I think -- I mean, I think coronavirus will turn out to be the straw that breaks the camel`s back of the global economy. And we will see a fairly long-term recession coming.
HAYES: I shouldn`t say that, you know, no one knows the future, but increasingly, you know, more and more analysts and experts saying they`re looking at some kind of recession coming.
DICKER: Yes. And I`m spin in many ways, it`s been overdue, and it`s been expected by most of the economists so this has not come. The speed of it has come as a major surprise.
HAYES: Well, I think part of that is what`s so -- why today felt so 2008 here. I mean, I talked to several people that were fund managers or traders who said, I`ve been in this a while. Today was really wild. Like I haven`t seen anything like this. And that question of like, why. Why today did it get so panicky?
DICKER: Well, again, those two pieces, the coronavirus and the oil drop sort of signal that yes, we`re headed into a major global recession and that it`s going to be a long-lasting one. So the chances are that the stock market might be lower for two months today no matter how low it goes.
HAYES: Right. So people are trying to exit their positions.
DICKER: It was a very panicked sell-off. It was --
HAYES: It sure was. Well, that was extremely illuminating. Dan Dicker, thank you as always. Coming up, the Republican lawmakers potentially exposed to coronavirus at the CPAC, and the contact they`ve had with the President of the United States. That`s next.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So there`s a lot of talk about this coronavirus.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And do you think the Democrats are politicizing this?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh 1,000 percent they`re politicizing it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re doing that only to try to attempt to make the economy tank so in order to keep President Trump from being reelected.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: But more than a week ago, several thousand conservatives from across the country converged outside of Washington D.C. for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference or CPAC. And one of the themes there was that coronavirus coverage was a hysterical plot by Democrats, and the left, and the fake news media to take down President Trump.
In fact, then Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, who was just fired, had this to say.
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MICK MULVANEY, FORMER ACTING CHIEF OF STAFF: The reason you`re skipping -- so you`re saying so much attention to it today is that they think this is going to be what brings down the president. That`s what this is all about.
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HAYES: That`s been the message both from Trump and from Trump T.V. and allied media as though the entire thing was just made up. Well, now the reality is pushing its way into the bubble. Over the weekend, CPAC confirmed that someone who attended the conference tested positive for Coronavirus.
That person, apparently a VIP, was in close personal contact with a whole bunch of prominent Republicans including Senator Ted Cruz, Congressman Paul Gosar, and Congressman Doug Collins. All three of them announce that they`re now self-quarantining after Congressman Collins was exposed at CPAC. He greeted the p resident on Friday in Georgia before Trump made his way to the Centers for Disease Control. There he is shaking Trump`s hand.
Another Republican lawmaker, Congressman Louie Gohmert, said he was warned he may have been exposed at CPAC but has decided not to self-quarantine and return to Washington, D.C. instead.
The ultimate example of making light of the situation, of course, was Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, who apparently thought it would be really funny to show up to congress wearing a giant gas mask last week as the House voted on Coronavirus funding.
Well today, Congressman Gaetz was informed that he, too, had come into contact with the CPAC attendee who has Coronavirus. Gaetz is now being tested for the virus. He`s also under self-quarantine, but today before we learned of his exposure, he traveled on Air Force One with the president after attending a party with Trump at Mar-a-Lago, according to The New York Times.
Gaetz learned after Air Force One lifted off from Orlando, that he had been in touch with an infected person at CPAC. He then essentially quarantined himself sitting in a section of the plane alone. This news comes on the heels of an announcement from Gaetz office this weekend that one of his constituents had died from the Coronavirus.
Conservatives built an extremely powerful alternate reality machine. They use it to counter any news they think can hurt their cause, but at the end of the day there is only one reality and it is a reality where this is a very serious and real thing. And is already having very serious effects. And there is much more on the way. We`re going to talk about what is to come next.
HAYES: Well, the president continues to spin and downplay the coronavirus and comparing it to the deaths from the flu. Members of both parties are increasingly aware to the fact of just how significant an event the virus is. Democratic sources told NBC News some members are floating the idea of a congressional recess on Sunday, but today House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she had no plans to change the schedule. She didn`t think the Capitol should be closed, although she added it`s a security and health decision and that they would rely on the experts to make a final decision.
Five lawmakers are in now self-quarantine, four congress people and a senator. And the policy considerations in response to the virus are mounting.
Now congress already passed an $8 billion emergency funding package signed by the president. As the impact grows, there is almost certainly going to be a need for another bill, probably a fiscal stimulus to deal with the economic effects.
The president spoke tonight about plans to meet with Capitol Hill Republicans tomorrow and suggested things like a payroll tax cut while Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer already released a set of priorities for any such package such as paid sick leave, unemployment insurance and food security.
Here to talk about what the discussions look like on Capitol Hill are Betsy Woodruff Swan, national correspondent for Politico; and Matt Fuller, congressional reporter for HuffPo.
Before we get into the sort of idea of the stimulus package, Betsy, I want to start with you of just -- it is remarkable to watch congressperson after congressperson after prominent conservative announce they are entering some sort of self-quarantine. I saw news just a few minutes ago that incoming chief of staff Mark Meadows is going to spend a few days self-quarantined as well. What is it like among conservatives on the Hill as they deal sort of with this?
BETSY WOODRUFF SWAN, POLITICO: The fallout from CPAC is generating substantial anxiety, and part of the issue is CPAC organizers are still currently working to figure out just how many people the attendee, who now is hospitalized because of Coronavirus, had contact with. This attendee, according to a CPAC spokesperson who I chatted with earlier this evening, had what`s called a gold level ticket. It`s the most expensive type of ticket in my understanding, and it gets you access to many of the speakers who are on stage at CPAC.
So the people who are conservative celebrities, whether you`re looking at big-name media personnels, members of congress of course, like Congressman Collins, Congressman Gaetz, and Senator Cruz, those are folks that you get to interact with if you really shell out and get one of these expensive tickets, which is what this person did.
And what I was told was that CPAC organizers didn`t learn until today they found a picture of Gaetz interacting with the person who had the virus and that`s why they were able to tell Gaetz that he had been exposed to someone who is sick.
But it took them quite awhile. It took them days to get that information. And what I was told is that they`re still in the process of figuring out who this person encountered. So, it`s possible this person encountered more prominent conservative and Republican leaders, but CPAC hasn`t yet figured out that those conversations happened.
HAYES: It`s really a remarkable chain of events. And it`s likely, we should say just as the virus spreads, it`s likely that there will be more transmission, and it will probably happen to Hill staffers and this increasingly looks like what will just be the reality.
There is this question now, Matt, that is sort of fascinating sort of legislative policy and political question about what congress does now. And I thought it was interesting that Pelosi and Schumer took the first step to sort outline a set of principles to get out ahead of anything that came from the White House. What the your read about how the Democratic caucus is approaching this?
MATT FULLER, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, HUFFPOST: Right, I think you said it best. They want to get out ahead of this. They had those principles like paid sick leave, certainly they want to take care of kids who are relying on schools for their school lunches and what not. You know, they want to make sure that there are tests.
So, there`s a whole slate of things that they want to make sure is in any sort of stimulus before, you know, the airlines or cruise ship companies. Before those companies are getting bailouts, they want to make sure, you know, congruent -- concurrent with that you`re getting all this money for, you know, small businesses, again, making sure that those kids who are relying on the school lunch program are making sure that those people have food -- greater food stamps.
And then obviously you have the president today saying, you know, the payroll tax cut, that`s something we`re going to look at. You know, it`s going to be a package of things that are all going to sort of come together, and this could come together very quickly.
HAYES: I think it probably will.
Is your reading, Betsy, it seems to me like from what I`ve seen that Republicans are just waiting on signals from the White House and will just line up behind that, whatever their previous policy commitments might have been on, say, austerity amidst a crisis.
SWAN: It`s tough to push for austerity when you don`t know how many people in your district might be facing...
SWAN: ...an infection that can be deadly. These are not times when fiscal responsibility is particularly appealing.
I want to correct one thing I said earlier, a CPAC source reached out and said the level of ticket that the person who is infected is not actually the most expensive, it is a ticket where he paid...
HAYES: Up there, but not -- yeah, not the top...
SWAN: ...the most expensive, yeah.
But, look, I think we`re talking about austerity questions, President Trump has been very comfortable jettisoning traditional conservative fiscal policies. He`s been comfortable dramatically expanding the debt and the deficit, that`s something that`s happened under his watch. And right now when we`re facing a global pandemic and a national medical emergency, I don`t think you`re going to see a bunch of Republicans all of a sudden say now we`re drawing a line in the sand, now we`re going to be fiscal conservatives.
HAYES: No, and in fact -- we should say that the last Republican president did the same thing, so there`s some -- as did Reagan, so there is some continuity here -- Matt?
FULLER: And to that point, yeah, I mean the one thing that could sort of hold this up is Democrats insisting that there be an economic trigger so that the next president, if it were Democrat, they would have the same benefits as this one where we`re not sort of worrying about debt and austerity. And it`s also worth noting that Mike Pence, when he was in congress, he was one of these leaders of, you know, emergency spending needs to be offset, and those principles are far gone now, but certainly Democrats are looking at ways that they can ensure in the future they have the same sort of urgency.
HAYES: That is a great point, Matt. Because it does seems me like we`re locked in a sort of weird asymmetry here, which is -- I think Democrats are going to play ball on this because I think they have both first order principled commitments to things like some kind of target and fiscal stimulus, and want to see that get done.
But I also think that Democrats rightly probably feel that if the shoe were on the other foot right now, and it was President Hillary Clinton or President Barack Obama or President Joe Biden struggling with this getting Republican congressional -- Biden would probably -- would be a non-starter.
FULLER: Yeah, certainly not at the level of near unanimous support. You might have that coalition that we have seen in the past of maybe the 30 to 50 in the House and a little bit more maybe -- a greater percentage at least in the Senate, but this, you know, these sort of measures in the past have faced problems with Republicans and they don`t seem to be having that problem now.
HAYES: Betsy, I wonder if the the scale of this has truly sunk in on Capitol Hill? I think it seems like lawmakers have actually been a little slow on this, and we`ve seen a kind of learning curve that has gone along with the epidemic curve in country after country, and we`ve seen what happens if policy makers are behind the curve, like we`ve seen tragically in Italy thus far. Do you think people there understand the math here and understand what the U.S. is right now looking down the barrel of?
SWAN: The level of understanding that members of congress have is changing day by day. There was a briefing last week that pharmaceutical company executives and Vice President Pence gave to house Republicans. It was a closed door briefing. It was quite detailed. And I spoke with one member in that meeting who said that they came out of it feeling pretty sobered, feeling like they had a clearer and slightly graver sense of the way that this problem is playing out.
I think the important thing to remember is that not all of these members have access to much more information than what the public is getting. Of course, this information should all be public, and it`s great that the CDC is doing regular press briefings, that the White House is doing regular press briefings. But if you`re a member of congress and want more detail, depending on where you, depending on your seniority level or what committees you`re on, that detail may be not immediately accessible.
HAYES: Final point on sort of social distancing policies where we start to see large groups of people being discouraged, Matt, 66 senators are over 60, two-thirds of the senate, that`s in the high-risk group, more than a quarter of the senators are over 70. There is going to be some tough policy decisions to be made in that building just about how many people you want coming in through there.
FULLER: Yeah, I think you sort of laid out the dilemma pretty well writ- large for everyone where we want people to participate in the economy. We want to have March Madness tournaments, same thing with congress. They have to be there to make decisions. They have to be there to make policy, but yeah, there is going to come a time where whether it be shutting down tourist access, whether it be really taking a break. I mean, they are due for a recess next week. I think that`s going to sort of allay a lot of concerns that they can maybe push this package out and then sort of retreat to their districts for awhile or their states for awhile.
But, yeah, these are high risk people. These are older people. The Latin word "senex" is where we get old man, that`s where we get the word senate, so it`s a traditional thing.
HAYES: I didn`t know that.
FULLER: Yeah, it`s just a...
HAYES: Look at that.
FULLER: Yeah, learning something.
HAYES: I got -- every night is an adventure. Betsy Woodruff Swan and Matt Fuller, thank you both.
SWAN: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: You`re looking live at a Biden campaign rally in Detroit, Michigan where we expect at some point to see both Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris give public endorsements to Joe Biden tonight. We`re monitoring events out there. And we`re to talk about what to expect from the six states voting tomorrow in the primary ahead.
HAYES: Tomorrow is another pivotal election day in the Democratic primary. The race is down to two people, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. And voters will be going to polls in six states tomorrow -- Washington, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Dakota and Idaho. 352 delegates will be up for grabs. And last week, Joe Biden was endorsed by five of his major former opponents, including Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg and Mike Bloomberg.
And the latest crop of polls out today look pretty darn good for Joe Biden. A new Quinnipiac University poll has Biden up by 19 points nationally, 54 percent to 35 percent for Bernie Sanders. Polling averages from the most important states voting tomorrow also going in Biden`s favor. According to the FiveThirtyEight`s average, he`s up significantly in Michigan, Missouri and Mississippi. He`s leading in Washington State, although it is very close there.
We also got an interesting head-to-head general election poll today out of Michigan from Monmouth University showing both Biden and Sanders beating President Trump 48 to 41 and 46 to 41 respectively.
The dynamics of the race have just completely altered in the past week. Tomorrow is absolutely critical. It could very well be Sanders` last chance to claw back some kind of delegate lead or at least diminish the gap so that he can make it up in the future. If he doesn`t, he`s in trouble.
We`re going to talk about that next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: When I did the speech, often it`s 45 minutes or an hour, OK? Because there are a lot of challenges that the country faces and I got to talk about them.
You know, I think Joe was somewhere, where was he, I don`t know Michigan or some place else the other day and he spoke for seven minutes. But all I would say is, not to criticize Joe, but to say that I think the American people in this incredibly complicated and difficult moment in our history are entitled to thoughtful answers to the crises we face.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Sanders in a town hall earlier this evening on Fox News. The Democratic primary is clearly a two-person contest right now. And thought it`s been flipped on its head in the last week, it`s hardly over. Six states voting tomorrow have the opportunity to kind of cement the dynamics where they are or once again reshape the race.
To talk about the stakes for tomorrow`s big vote I`m joined by Maya Wiley, professor at The New School; and Sam Seder, host of the Majority Report podcast.
I have to say, it is a remarkable the last week, the turnaround, I mean, just this sort of closing ranks that`s happened both, I think, among a certain segment of voters, among politicians -- you have Cory Booker and Kamala Harris there. And I think that one thing it`s -- and I`m curious what both of you say about this -- one thing I kept encountering among Democratic voters was there was a group of people that really wanted some ideological vision that tended to be either Warren or Sanders, and then a huge group that just literally wanted it to be over. Like, honestly, their biggest feeling about the primary was they didn`t like the fighting. They didn`t like the uncertainty. It made them stressed out. They want it to be over. And I feel like we`re seeing a little bit of that right now, a lot of it.
MAYA WILEY, THE NEW SCHOOL: Well, it`s -- everyone is so traumatized from 2016 and then what we have seen 2016 from Donald Trump, and now more than ever, boy, people are scared, and for some really good, important reasons from Coronavirus to the impacts on the market and what`s going to happen with very real people struggling to get health care who don`t have paid sick leave, who are worried about whether or not they can get the care, keep paying their rent, hold on to their homes -- you know, this is a very scary time. And certainty, at least in terms of who the candidate is, you know, quells that some.
But I will say one thing about the primary on Super Tuesday is that, you know, the truth is that Biden was always way ahead on the polls in the black belt south, that really -- I mean, I think what -- there was that moment where Bernie Sanders started looking like he was taking more and more of the black vote that made it look more contested, but it`s not so much the upset just in the sense that Biden always did have a strong base there.
SAM SEDER, HOST, MAJORITY REPORT: Yeah, and I think, you know, I think people -- I think there is that desire to sort of get this over with and figure out who it is, but I think a lot of people weren`t sure, frankly...
HAYES: Yes, clearly.
SEDER: Who can win. And I think, you know, when there became sort of these endorsements it gave people a, you know, some type of signal.
HAYES: Yes, it`s signaling.
SEDER: The fact of the matter is that there has been concern about Joe Biden for months, otherwise we would have seen this a long time ago and they wouldn`t need the concern that Bernie Sanders was there for the establishment to finally say like this is the, you know, lesser of two evils, essentially, they`re doing.
And, you know, look I think there is still some very legitimate concern about Joe Biden`s ability to mobilize low propensity voters. I mean, there is all indications that he is getting those voters who are determined to vote against Donald Trump, but the problem is, is that you need more than just the voters who are determined to vote against Donald Trump, if 2016 is any measure.
HAYES: Well, that`s the question.
SEDER: That is the question.
HAYES: Here`s what I see when I see people make the case against Biden, right? Because I think one of the things happened is in that week after Sanders was leading, there was a huge emphasis on his critics, on his downsides. And they are real, like are we going to run a socialist who has had a heart attack. Like fair. Right?
There has been I think an effort, particularly in the Sanders campaign, to focus on some of Biden`s downsides -- his trade record. Is that going to hurt him in the way that people think that hurt Hillary Clinton in 2016, right? Like his connection to sort of being a Washington insider.
There is a degree to which there is a lot of ways in which the things people identify with Hillary Clinton also exist in Biden`s record, but there`s a big but, which is that I think people feel like, it`s not going to -- like we don`t know if it runs the same way this time.
WILEY: One of the things we have to remember about Michigan in 2016 is, you know, Hillary Clinton`s campaign played a numbers game, not a peoples game. And that really hurt Hillary Clinton in black voters in Detroit, and black voters in Milwaukee.
SEDER: And Philly for that matter.
WILEY: And in Philly. So one of the things that this depends on in part is, is the campaign, is Joe Biden, going to really reach out to those voters, but the one thing I would say that`s different is, there is a much higher motivation to vote.
HAYES: That`s my point about the difference in 2016.
SEDER: Two things.
Hillary Clinton ran that, the modeling, to determine who they should go for, and I had people who called my show who worked in politics in Pennsylvania saying we were knocking on doors to get out the vote in the last couple of days. 25 percent of the doors we knocked on were Trump voters because they were doing modeling.
Why were they doing modeling? Maybe it`s because they really thought that that`s the new way to do it, or maybe they didn`t have the enthusiasm that they needed to get people on the ground. That is a problem for Biden.
The other thing I would say is that, look, Donald Trump is going to run to the left on Joe Biden, like you say, on trade. He`s going to do it on...
HAYES: Yeah, because he`s shameless.
SEDER: Right, of course.
He`s going to do it on social security. He`s going to do it -- and the point is is that no one is going to make the decision to vote for Trump over Biden, they`re just going to made the decision of am I going to leave the house, because they`re all of the same...
HAYES: And it`s a really important point is that the cynical -- and I want to play something that Biden actually told my colleague Lawrence O`Donnell, what the cynical play is depress turnout by being like they`re all the same...
SEDER: That`s the Donald Trump playbook.
HAYES: Take a listen to what Biden had to say about the president`s handling of the Coronavirus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: There`s no confidence in the president in anything he says or does. He turns everything into what he thinks is a political benefit for himself and he`s actually imploding in the process.
But there`s a let of innocent bystanders that are being badly hurt. And I just think, I mean I wish he would just be quiet. I really mean it. That`s a really awful thing to say about a president, to be quiet, just let the experts speak and acknowledge whatever they suggest to him is what we should be doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: This to me epitomized the Biden campaign and in some ways I think caught some of the Sanders folks unaware, which is that the appetite among Democratic primary voters for like make that go away, just like make it go away and replace it with a person we know and like, that`s it. That appetite is strong, and that`s kind of the Biden value proposition.
WILEY: Unfortunately, lots of people want Donald Trump to just stop talking and to say let the experts do their job unfortunately, it`s way too potent right now, when you have such a shift of experts.
The reality is, it is so important to have someone say actually what we should be doing is creating a fund for people who don`t have paid sick leave right now, real quick, we wouldn`t have said no to the World Health Organization`s test, so that we have people who are in quarantine because they don`t have test, I mean show leadership, show...
SEDER: They need proactive, not quietness.
HAYES: I think there is -- it would be interesting in the sort of Democratic policy consensus forming on precisely this question. Maya Wiley, Sam Seder, thank you for joining us.
That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
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