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Speaker Pelosi TRANSCRIPT: 3/13/20, MSNBC Live: Decision 2020

Guests: Craig Fugate, Libby Schaaf, James Hamblin, Anna Marie Kimball, Aaron Carroll, Gene Sperling, Howard Dean, John Podhoretz


STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Good evening. I`m Steve Kornacki in New York.

Communities across America are hunkering down tonight trying to hold off  the spread of the coronavirus. President Trump today declared a national  emergency. This will allow more direct relief to communities dealing with  the outbreak.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To unleash the full power of  the federal government through this effort today, I am officially declaring  a national emergency, two very big words. Our overriding goal is to stop  the spread of the virus and to help all Americans who have been impacted by  this.

And this will pass. This will pass through and we`re going to be even  stronger for it.


KORNACKI: Among other things, officials say they have a partnership with  Google to launch a website that will help Americans decide whether they  need testing. And much like we are now seeing in a community in New York  State, they also announced that drive-thru testing will become available in  some places for those in need.

While U.S. testing capacity has so far lagged behind other countries, the  White House is taking a series of steps intended to boost their  availability. However, Trump pointedly refused to take responsibility for  the failures in testing to date.


REPORTER: Dr. Fauci said earlier this week that the lag in testing was, in  fact, a failing. Do you take responsibility for that?

TRUMP: No, I don`t take responsibility at all because we were given a set  of circumstances and we were given rules, regulations and specifications  from a different time. It wasn`t meant for this kind of an event. And that  is not the fault of anybody. And, frankly, the old system worked very well  for smaller numbers, much smaller numbers, but not for these kinds of  numbers.


KORNACKI: Now, as of tonight, nearly every state in the United States has  confirmed coronavirus cases, with a total number of people infected  exceeding 2,100 nationwide. That`s a 20-fold increase since just the  beginning of the month. This comes as U.S. health expert Dr. Anthony Fauci  warned of an acceleration of cases but he did say that current efforts to  mitigate the spread of the virus should help to blunt the impact.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS  DISEASES: The next few weeks for most Americans is obviously what you`re  going to see is an acceleration of cases. There is no doubt about it  because that`s how these outbreaks work.

Two things we`re looking for. A, things are going to get worse before they  get better, but, B, what`s happening now with many more tests, they`re  going to be going out very, very shortly with people now very seriously  taking containment and mitigation into effect. Hopefully, we`ll be able to  blunt that peak. That`s what I see in the next few weeks.


KORNACKI: Meanwhile, more governors are shutting down their schools in  their states, including now Oregon, New Mexico, Michigan, Virginia and the  District of Columbia among others. The State of Louisiana today became the  first to postpone a presidential primary. It had been scheduled for April  7th, now rescheduled for the June. And the PGA today canceled its players`  championship following other major sports leagues that have also suspended  their seasons.

Disney, meanwhile, announced that it is closing multiple theme parks and  canceling cruise ship departures. And for the first time in 124 years, City  of Boston has postponed its marathon scheduling it now for September.

I`m joined now by the mayor of Oakland, California, Libby Schaaf, former  FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and Dr. James Hamblin, Staff Writer for The  Atlantic and lecturer at Yale`s School of Public Health. Thanks to all of  you for joining us.

Craig, let me just begin with you. A national emergency declared today by  the president. So what will be different now? What will be the case now  that wasn`t the case before this emergency was declared? What does it mean?

CRAIG FUGATE, FORMER FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: Well, you already had HHS and  their authorities but this now brings the ability to reimburse state and  local governments for direct federal assistance. And so now FEMA, as a  support agency, still supporting HHS, HHS is still the lead agency for  this. But now, FEMA has the ability as governors begin looking look at what  additional assistance may be needed, particularly in the coming weeks. FEMA  is prepared to coordinate that with both the funding and the coordination  of the direct federal assistance.

KORNACKI: Mayor, let me ask you. We have got sort of the explanation there  on the flowchart how this all works. But in your city, a state of emergency  declared nationally, is that something that may be useful to you now or  down the road?

MAYOR LIBBY SCHAAF (D-OAKLAND, CA): Absolutely. And Oakland has already  been coordinating with our federal partners and our state partners as we`ve  had this operation to disembark the passengers from the Grand Princess  Cruise Ship. But we need FEMA. We need every level of government to make  the right decisions to prevent human suffering, to prevent the spread of  this virus.

I can tell you that at the local level, those of us who are mayors that are  in our communities, are seeing such tremendous anxiety and fear. But this  is a time that we must be driven by facts, not fear and take the  precautions that are within our power right now to prevent the spread of  this virus. That`s what we`re doing in Oakland. We announced today the  closure of our public-school system, all of our recreation, libraries,  senior centers, and so that is going to be incredibly disruptive.

We need the federal government to help our low-wage workers, to help our  first responders have the adequate protective equipment. These are things  that we really will need the federal government to step up to help us right  here on the ground.

KORNACKI: Doctor, you heard Anthony Fauci there say the idea it`s going to  get worse before it gets better. He also said that the steps now being  taken could lead to blunting the worst of that. So much emphasis on  testing. Take us through the importance of testing, and what that could  mean in terms of blunting it, as he says.

DR. JAMES HAMBLIN, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Theoretically, you could  limit the amount of closures that you have to do, the amount of -- all of  the shutdowns we`re seeing. If you could accurately test tons of people and  really identify what are the hot spots, where is it being transmitted,  exactly how long do we have to shut things down, and you could inform being  more strategic. But as it is we don`t know -- we don`t have a great handle  on how widespread this is.

And we aren`t able to just have anyone with a little slight symptom go in  and get cleared and say, okay, you know you`re fine to go back for work, we  just have to say no.

KORNACKI: Well, how far are we from that situation? Because we keep hearing  limited number of testing, the capacity is low, folks who say, maybe I have  something, can`t get a test, how far are we from a situation where somebody  can just go in and then get that drive-thru test we`re hearing about?

HAMBLIN: This week, Dr. Fauci said that there would be about a million in  ideally about two weeks. We`ve heard different promises at different times.  And if they`re allocated around the country toward the hotspots, if you`re  in an infected area, you might see it sooner. But we are a very long way  from being able to say, anyone with minor symptoms is going to go get  tested. Right now, we need them for people who are very sick to (INAUDIBLE)  exactly who has it and who doesn`t and who needs to be where in the  hospital.

KORNACKI: And so, Craig, talk about from a federal government standpoint.  And what goes into that? There is still going to be a limit here in terms  of the capacity for testing. What goes into sort of marshalling those  resources, distributing those resources, determining all sorts of important  calculations like that?

FUGATE: Well, again, the lead for this will be HHS. FEMA will be supporting  it. But I think this is the thing we have to understand. We just don`t have  enough test kits right now. That`s why we`re doing a lot of the social  distancing on a scale we`ve never done before, that by time, slows this  down. And as was pointed out, when you get more testing, we can be more  strategic.

But now is the time to take these actions to settle this down because there  is going to be finite resources. This is what we were doing (ph) when we  dealt with H1N1. If we cannot get that curve down and flatten that out, we  would overstress the system and find ourselves what Italy is facing.

So there are resources, there are supplies, but they are finite and they`ll  need to go where the greatest number of patients are. And if we can all do  our part, wash our hands, keep our distance, when we came stay home, stay  home. If we`re having to go on to work, we need to do due diligence. If  you`re not feeling well, well, stay home, to give time for testing but also  to keep the system from being overwhelmed, to allow patients that do become  sick to get the maximum treatment available.

KORNACKI: Mayor, with we talk about the states that are now closing down  their schools statewide. In your city, Oakland, California, the decision  now, you made the decision to close the schools, I believe, through the  first week of April at least. Talk a little bit, if you would, about the  decision, about what you think it will achieve. And I think one of the  questions that comes to mind is, okay, the kids aren`t going to be in  schools, are they going to be staying home or are they going to be outside,  are they going to be socializing? How much are you limiting potential  exposure here?

SCHAAF: Well, that is why that in concert with the school closures, the  city is closing down our libraries and our recreation centers. And we`re  sending very clear messages to our parents to keep kids at home. We don`t  want them to be spreading the disease to other vulnerable parts of our  community. But this decision was not taken lightly. But we have an  opportunity to take what we know about the spread of this disease and  prevent it spread. Like the doctor said, flatten the curve, avoid stress on  our fragile healthcare system.

And so that`s what we`re trying to do. But we really are going to need help  because we have so many families here in Oakland that live barely paycheck  to paycheck. Many of them are going to have to miss work, stay home to take  care of those kids that have nowhere to go right now.

So these are part of the unintended consequences of some of these decisions  that we`re having to make. But I feel very confident that this is the right  thing to do.

KORNACKI: We`re also learning today that the mayor of Miami tested positive  for coronavirus after interacting last weekend with a Brazilian government  official who has contracted the virus. The mayor`s diagnosis comes after we  learned that the president and vice president were also in proximity to  that Brazilian official last weekend at Mar-a-Lago.

Trump today downplayed his risk but now says he will most likely get  tested.


REPORTER: Dr. Fauci said this morning, if you stand next to somebody who  tested positive, you should self-isolate and get a test. You say you`re  White House doctor is telling you something different. Who should Americans  listen to? And my second --

TRUMP: I think they have to listen to the doctors. And I think they  shouldn`t be jumping to get the test unless it`s necessary.

REPORTER: The doctor said that you might have it even if you don`t have  symptoms. Are you being selfish by not getting and tested and potentially  exposing --

TRUMP: Well, I didn`t say I wasn`t going to be tested.

REPORTER: Are you going to be?

TRUMP: Most likely, yes. Most likely, not for that reason but because I  think I will do it anyway.

REPORTER: Will you let us know the results.

TRUMP: We`re working on that. We`re working out a schedule.


KORNACKI: And tonight, The Washington Post is reporting that a second  person who visited Mar-a-Lago last weekend has tested positive as well.

Doctor, there is this question of what every day Americans should be doing  if they think they have a symptom, if they think they`ve been around  somebody. And you`ve discussed that there is an issue right now with the  ability to test people who don`t have obvious symptoms of it, don`t present  an obvious case. But what is -- what`s the practical advice then to  somebody who -- maybe a slight fever or something that`s not too dramatic  but makes them say, hmm.

HAMBLIN: Right. In an ideal world, we would have -- everyone would be able  to -- get tested, would have access to healthcare and be able to, if they  test positive, take themselves out of -- you just go into quarantine in  some place. You`re not going to go home and affect your family, infect your  community. We don`t have that right now. So we have to presumptively say,  as soon as you are sick, isolate yourself as best as possible.

And we -- currently, most places, don`t have a run on hospital beds but we  anticipate that we will. So we`ll have to be strategic and keep updated  day-to-day as to who really needs to check in. Ideally, there will be some  triage by telemedicine, where you can talk to someone and say, here are the  symptoms, here are all my risk factors, do I need to go to the hospital or  do I not. And those decisions will be critical.

KORNACKI: Craig, what are the next steps here in terms of the  administration, in terms of the federal government, the state of emergency  now declared? You heard those steps that were outlined today. What should  come next?

FUGATE: Well, we`re buying time. This is why I think in the State of  Florida they announced today they`re going to shutting down schools and  extend spring break because we`re buying time. If we can do enough social  distancing on large scale, we`re buying time to get the testing and get  everybody ready as we get more cases.

So the federal government, particularly the lead agencies with HHS, they`re  focused on that and working with the state public health and as they track  cases, they`re tracking what`s happening.

FEMA, on the other hand, is going to be planning for what happens when you  start seeing any disruptions. And, again, there is a lot of planning  they`re going to do that everybody hopes we don`t have to implement. But  they`re going to start looking at next steps.

And the other thing we have to start thinking about is disasters are not  stopping. So we have tornados in Nashville a couple of weeks ago, we got  flooding risk in other places, severe weather still occurring. So the other  part FEMA has got to look at is how do they continue to respond to  disasters with coronavirus potentially in the populations of impact,  everything from evacuation to sheltering, to how do you do recovery and  what steps are you going to do and what are you going to postpone while  this virus is present.

KORNACKI: All right. Craig Fugate, Dr. James Hamblin and Mayor Libby Schaaf  from Oakland, California, thank you all for joining us. I appreciate that.

And Dr. Anthony Fauci said things are going to get worse before they get  better. So is our health system prepared for a spike in coronavirus cases?

Plus, critics are painting Donald Trump`s response to the coronavirus  pandemic. He is firing back at them and at Barack Obama.

We`ve got much more to get to. Stay with us.



GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): The testing is about what percent of those  infected are hospitalized to determine the capacity we need in our hospital  system.

When you look at what happened in Italy, where did they get into trouble?  You overwhelm the healthcare system. And that`s where you get into trouble.


KORNACKI: Welcome back. That was New York Governor Andrew Cuomo  underscoring the importance of testing. Today, the Trump tried to assure  Americans that the government would be able to meet testing needs. An  investigation by The Atlantic found that only roughly 16,000 COVID-19 tests  have been performed in the United States as of early March. That would put  the United States far behind other developed countries.

Dr. Aaron Carroll, a pediatrician who writes for The New York Times,  explains that tests help medical professionals know how many people are  ill. And he warns that, quote, according to some estimates, 10 percent to  20 percent of those who are infected may require hospitalization. In a  metropolitan setting, if enough people become infected, the numbers who may  need significant care will easily overwhelm our capacity to provide it.

According to The New York Times, quote, even hospitals in developed  countries with the world`s best healthcare risk becoming triage wards,  forcing ordinary doctors and nurses to make extraordinary decisions about  who may live and who may die.

For more, I`m joined by Dr. Anna Marie Kimball, Founder of APEC Emerging  Infections Network and professor emeritus at the University of Washington,  and Dr. Aaron Carroll, Professor of Indiana School of Medicine. We just  read from some of what he had to say about this.

So, Dr. Kimball, let me just start with you. How much testing is going to  be required? What is the timetable on that testing to get these answers to  how fatal this is, what the infection rate is, those basic questions that  everybody is asking?

DR. ANNA MARIE KIMBALL, EPIDEMIOLOGIST: Well, that`s a very good question.  And, in fact, we`re well behind the curve on our testing.

And, in fact, we`re well behind the curve on our testing. 

Let me explain. South Korea should be our model. And South Korea has done  120,000 -- 120,000 tests. And they have a population of 51 million people. 

We have a population of 350 million people. And, as you just said, we have  about 16,000 tests total that we have done since the beginning of this  threat. 

And what you do testing for is to understand how you do social distancing  most efficiently and with the least disruption to people. So, we`re way  behind the curve. 

KORNACKI: Dr. Carroll, how did this happen? How did it happen that South  Korea is able to just get people in and out, do all of the tests, and the  United States, it`s -- the number is 16,000 in a country of this many  people with this much concern right now? 


It appears that we originally turned down the opportunity to take a test  that was developed and used by the WHO. It turns out then we might have  been slow in accepting some of the tests that universities were actually  trying to do. 

And we have been slow in letting businesses and other companies try to get  testing going. And we`re just way behind. And, of course, lots of people  point the blame in different directions, and we might not know for some  time exactly where the lesion is, but there is no question there is a big  lesion. 

KORNACKI: What do you make, Dr. Carroll, too? At that press conference  today, or that event at the White House, with all of the leaders of the  federal government`s response to this, one point that was made was that  some of the data coming back from South Korea, where there is extensive  testing, is pointing to a lot of people being tested, a lot of people  thinking they have symptoms, having some of the symptoms of it, but,  proportionally, a lot of them being negative.

And did you -- is that an encouraging sign that you`re seeing at all in the  data from South Korea?

CARROLL: I don`t know that I would say it is encouraging. 

Of course, the more people you test, especially people who have low or no  symptoms, the more negatives you are going to get. If you are only testing  people who are very sick and in hospitals, you are likely going to get a  much larger number. 

Until we decide to test almost randomly or to test huge parts of the  population, we will never have a sense of just the percentage of people in  general who are sick. We will always have a percentage of the people who  show certain symptoms. 

But, even then, we just don`t know. We have running -- we`re running so few  tests that we only know the percentage of people who have really high  likelihood of being ill. What percent of them are sick?

KORNACKI: Dr. Kimball, one of the things that I`m trying to figure out here  is, we`re entering into this phase where major events are being canceled,  social distancing is becoming the norm. 

Folks are being told in a lot of areas to work from home. You`re just not  seeing a lot of people out there nearly to the degree you did just a couple  days ago. The idea is, this allows a window for testing. The idea is this,  this will slow, as best possible, the spread of this.

But I`m wondering what happens once that testing is done and once the  officials have a much better handle on the infection rate and all these  questions that are being raised here.

Without an effective treatment, and without a vaccine, if we leave this  state that we`re in right now of shutting so much down, isn`t it just going  to start spreading like wildfire? 

KIMBALL: You mean if you open it back up? That`s sure what the question is.

KORNACKI: Yes, if we just go back to -- if we go back to holding -- kids go  back to school, sporting events happen again, concerts are on, you know?

KIMBALL: Sure. Sure. Sure.

No, actually, what we`re really working for here is probably a limited time  of this much social distancing. But we really won`t know without the data.  So we`re all watching for more testing. 

But more than that, we`re watching the curve of cases. And right now, we`re  in a very vulnerable phase, where we could see it go up as fast as it went  up in Italy and in Korea, and we`re talking weeks. We`re not talking a  month, when we get five million tests. We`re talking next week. 

We need to have broad testing and broad access and really understand this  epidemic. As we understand it, as we get the data, that`s when we can begin  to hone our social distancing and say, well, maybe in this neighborhood or  maybe in this event, we have the data to say, this is actually effective. 

Over here, we have seen it`s not effective. We won`t do that anymore. Those  are the kinds of choices that public health makes. And that`s what we`re  waiting to do when we get the data. 

We have got some information from other countries. We know what worked in  China. We know what worked in Korea. And we`re watching Italy as it  unrolls. 

So we in the United States have the advantage of looking at other people`s  history and how they dealt with this. And we`re trying to put in those  social distancing strategies here to see if we can have the same effective  clampdown that you have seen in some other economies like Hong Kong,  Singapore, et cetera. 

KORNACKI: Yes, Dr. Carroll, I`m curious what you make of what you`re seeing  from some of these countries overseas and some of the statistics coming out  of there, because I`m just a layman here, but I read these articles and see  these numbers.

I look at Italy, and these numbers are terrifying, what you see coming out  of there in terms of the number of cases vs. the number of deaths, and that  rate seems extremely high. 

You see numbers from South Korea that maybe suggest something not --  certainly bad, but maybe not quite as bad. What do you make of what you`re  seeing from these scattered reports around the world? 

CARROLL: Well, when you look at a country like Korea, what you`re seeing is  that, if they`re testing a ton of people, a very small percentage are  actually very, very ill. 

The much more concerning numbers are out of Italy. That`s the cautionary  tale, where they have had such an increase of very sick people, that it`s  overwhelmed the hospital systems. There are only so many ventilators. There  are only so many respiratory therapists and doctors and beds to go around. 

And if too many people get sick at the same time, there`s just not enough  resources to care for them. You have to start turning away people who are  there for elective procedures or people who might want to go to the  hospital for another reason. 

And, more importantly, you have to start turning away people who need  really intensive care for coronavirus, because you just don`t have it. And  then you really have to triage who`s going to get care and who`s not.  That`s what we have to worry about. 

KORNACKI: Well, President Trump was asked if the administration is prepared  to provide hospitals with the equipment that they need. 

This is what he said. 


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re in the process -- and  in some cases have already done it -- ordered a large number of respirators  just in case. We hope we don`t need them, but we`ve ordered a large number.


KORNACKI: Dr. Kimball, when you look at the capacity of America`s health  care system, of hospitals right now, ICUs, how much does that need to be  ramped up just sort of proactively? 

KIMBALL: Well, let me back you up just a little bit, because remember that  fully one-third of Americans don`t have easy access to health care. 

So that`s been a big problem. We don`t have a situation where anybody in  our country can go and see a doctor without having it cost that person a  significant amount. 

So that`s the first barrier. 

And then when you get into, as you know, 20 percent of the people who have  this get seriously ill, so if you estimate that we need about 120,000 beds  or so, that`s about what we have got. 

But you could have a lot more getting ill than that. And the scenarios  suggest up to 500,000 people who will need hospital beds and/or ICU care. 

There is clearly a mismatch here. Just to let you know, the ratio of beds  to population in Korea was 15. Our ratio of beds to population is 2.3. And  Italy was about 2.3 as well. So we`re more in the Italy camp in terms of  our fragility of our health system. 

And that`s why it`s even more important for us to understand this epidemic  as it -- as it plays out in our communities.

KORNACKI: And just, practically speaking, if the resources, if the will to  produce by the resources is there -- that`s what the president is saying --  practically speaking, how long would it take to beef up that capacity to be  in a better position than, say, Italy was? 

CARROLL: Well, it`s not just...


KIMBALL: I think you could do it very quickly, actually, with field  hospitals and other temporary measures. 


Dr. Carroll, you were going to say?

CARROLL: So, I`m going to be a little bit more pessimistic. 

First of all, hospitals don`t stay in business by keeping ICUs and  ventilators unused and sitting around. So a lot of them are being used  today. It`s also flu season. So a lot of them are still being used. 

It still will take time to build new ventilators, even if we started  ramping that up right now. And we still don`t know where to send them. And  so it would take time. Even if we could mobilize a large number and push  them to where they needed to be, it would still take time for us to know  where exactly the problem spots are.

And the capacity to do that and the ability to send them that quickly is  not really clear. 

KORNACKI: All right, Dr. Aaron Carroll, Dr. Ann Marie Kimball, thank you  both for joining us. Appreciate it. 

KIMBALL: Thank you. 

CARROLL: Thank you. 

KORNACKI: And up next: From travel and tourism to shipping and  manufacturing, bars, restaurants, news and entertainment, you name it,  every industry in America will feel the economic impact of this outbreak.

Is a recession inevitable? And is there anything Congress can do to blunt  the effects?

We`re back after this.


KORNACKI: Welcome back.

Yesterday, the stock market had its worst plunge since Black Monday in  1987. As "The New York Times" pointed out -- quote -- "The markets erased  about 85 percent of the gains of the entire Trump presidency, gains that  were the foundation of his argument for reelection."

But the markets did rally today as Trump declared a national emergency,  along with a pause on student loan interest and a purchase of oil for the  U.S. Strategic Reserve. 

Investors also rallied amid hopes of a sweeping economic relief package.  And now it appears that they will have that package, with House Speaker  Nancy Pelosi announcing tonight that she has reached an agreement with the  administration after days of negotiation. 

The package includes free coronavirus testing and two weeks of paid sick,  family and medical leave, would also strengthen unemployment insurance and  boost food security initiatives. This comes only a few hours after Trump  slammed the Democrats for not doing enough, without specifying exactly what  he thought the bill was missing. 


TRUMP: Well, we just don`t think they`re giving enough. We don`t think the  Democrats are giving enough. We`re negotiating. We thought we had  something.

But all of a sudden they didn`t agree to certain things that they agreed  to. So we could have something, but we don`t think they`re giving enough.  They`re not -- they`re not doing what`s right for the country.


KORNACKI: I`m joined now by Gene Sperling, former director of the National  Economic Council under Presidents Obama and Clinton. 

Thanks for joining us. 

So, the news of this deal, at least from Nancy Pelosi -- we will see how  the president publicly reacts to it. Yet to hear that. We will bring that  to you if it does.

But the news of this pending deal came after the markets closed. So we  showed that green print there, the market up. Hadn`t seen that in a while.  That came after the news of the emergency declaration in that event, the  press event, that the president held there.

What do you make of the markets going up the way they did after that? 

GENE SPERLING, FORMER DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL:  Well, I think that what you have had is a lot of investors feeling the way  a lot of typical families are, which is, they have seen an incredibly slow  and incompetent response, which makes them uncertain about not only the  depth of the corona crisis, but the length. 

And when the market can`t see any response, any bottom, or any duration  length, people have fear. They have fear, just like we do. 

So I think that this was, after two months of just utter incompetence, at  least a glimmer that they were dealing with the health issue, that they  were bringing people together.

We will still have to see. But, again, this is not a financial problem.  This is the markets responding to a health care response by our government  that is leading to serious risk and harm, not just on the health side, but  for families and our economy. 

So I think when they saw a glimmer of something, they -- at last, you got  at least some response. But, again, our focus should be on the economy, our  focus should be on the health risks.

If those things are being taken care of, the market will take care of  itself. 

What Nancy Pelosi announced today -- and my hat off -- hat off to her --  congratulations -- is an important down payment. It is not the big,  sweeping economic response. 

But what`s critical about it is that it`s doing the quick emergency things  that is kind of I guess even I`d say a win-win. They are wins, in that they  are helping people and families who are getting hit the hardest, but  they`re also things that will help contain the community spread, because if  you know you have sick paid leave, if you know you have nutrition, if you  know you can get free testing, those things are going to make people more  willing to see how they`re doing, more willing to tell their employer if  they`re sick, more willing to stay home and self-isolate if they have  symptoms. 

KORNACKI: Well, this morning, the president tweeted that -- quote -- "If  you want to get money into the hands of people quickly and efficiently, let  them have the full money that they earned. Approve a payroll tax cut until  the end of the year, December 31. Then you are doing something that is  really meaningful. Only that will make a big difference."

The initial reporting, certainly what`s coming out from Nancy Pelosi`s side  on this, does not say anything about a payroll tax reduction. If that`s not  part of this package that apparently has been agreed to here, do you think  -- you talk about this being a down payment. Do you think that the next  wave, if there is a next wave, should include something like a payroll tax  reduction? 

SPERLING: I think that we need another wave. 

I think it needs to be fast. I think it needs to be bold. I think it needs  to be in the hundreds of billions. 

But I will say that, while I have helped negotiate a payroll tax cut in the  past when there was literally nothing else we could get through a  Republican Congress, in the sense it`s better than nothing, for this  particular type of economic crisis, it is a particularly bad remedy. 

First of all, somebody making $120,000 is going to get four times more than  the person struggling at $30,000. That doesn`t make sense from a moral  point of view. It doesn`t make sense from an economic point of view.

Half of his would go to large -- to corporations and companies. So I think  what we do need to see is, I think you`re going to need to see, one, a big  surge of -- a big medical surge on all the things some of your guests have  been talking about, so we have capacity, as much as it takes.

Number two, this is something Joe Biden talked about yesterday, but you`re  going to need a major state and local fund, emergency plan, a bigger  increase in the Medicaid share, because if you`re not helping the people on  the front lines who are dealing with their problems, we`re not going to be  able to take care of this -- of this quickly. 

And I think that, third, you`re going to just have to do a lot more even  for the people that Nancy Pelosi was trying to help. You`re going to have  to do more on mortgage and rental and student loan forbearance, not just  the interest, but helping them when they can`t make their payments. 

You`re going to have to broaden what we do in unemployment insurance to  cover people who are gig economy workers, who are getting reduced numbers  of hours. 

And then, if we need to do a payment to people, let`s do it in a way that`s  going to help the people who are hurting the most. 

So I think it`s not a payroll tax cut. It`s some form of a payment that  goes predominantly to workers making under $100,000 or $75,000, but really  target it to the people who are struggling, and broad enough to go to  seniors, unpaid caregivers, people with disabilities.

Something like that, as part of this larger package, I think would be the  type of thing that would actually help our economy. And if our economy  looks better, if it looks like we`re taking care of the health care risks,  the market will take care of itself. 

KORNACKI: All right, Gene Sperling, thanks for taking a few minutes.  Appreciate it. 

SPERLING: Thank you, Steve. 

KORNACKI: All right, and up next: How big of a campaign issue will be --  will President Trump`s leadership in this national crisis become? And who  benefits?

Don`t go anywhere.


KORNACKI: Welcome back. 

The president`s emergency declaration today follows widespread criticism of  his administration`s response to date and his address to the nation on  Wednesday night. 

"The New York Times" reports that -- quote -- "While he presents himself as  the nation`s commanding figure, Mr. Trump has essentially become a  bystander, as state, local, and business officials take it upon themselves  to shut down much of American life without guidance from the president."

Just one day after urging the nation to -- quote -- "put politics aside" in  that speech on Wednesday, the president went on the offensive. On Thursday,  he attacked former Vice President Joe Biden for the Obama administration`s  handling of the 2009 swine flu outbreak. 

And he lashed out again today in a series of tweets criticizing the CDC for  what he called an inadequate testing process, and falsely blaming President  Obama, saying: "President Obama made changes that only complicated things  further. Their response to H1N1 swine flu was a full-scale disaster." 

The president`s declaration today put his leadership on this crisis back in  the spotlight. 

That is coming up. 


KORNACKI: Welcome back.

Today, as we have discussed, President Trump announced new measures to  fight the coronavirus crisis, and this just two days after telling the  American public to -- quote -- "put politics aside." 

Today, he took a few shots at his predecessor, Barack Obama. 


TRUMP: I want to thank Google. Google is helping to develop a Web site.  It`s going to be very quickly done, unlike Web sites of the past, to  determine whether a test is warranted and to facilitate testing at a nearby  convenient location.


KORNACKI: That seemed to be a shot there at Barack Obama and his  administration`s health care site a few years ago.

The president also reprised his Twitter attacks on the Obama  administration`s handling of the swine flu outbreak. 


TRUMP: If you go back to the swine flu, it was nothing like this, they  didn`t do testing like this. 

They started thinking about testing when it was far too late.

What we`ve done -- and one of the reasons I think people are respecting  what we`ve done.

Yes, please, go ahead.

QUESTION: Mr. President, Mr. President, the last administration said that  they had tested a million people at this point. You`ve been president for  three years.

TRUMP: Well, ask them how they did with the swine flu. It was a disaster.


QUESTION: But with respect, you`ve been president for three years, and  Wuhan was suffering ...

TRUMP: They had a very big failure with swine flu, a very big failure.


KORNACKI: For more, I`m joined by Howard Dean, former Vermont governor,  former DNC chair, and John Podhoretz, editor at "Commentary" magazine. 

Thanks to both of you for being with us.

Howard Dean, the president, those remarks we just showed there, shades of  the style he brings to pretty much everything. 

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Well, the  problem is, the president is kind of irrelevant at this point.

The state health departments have done a good job, and the local people  have done a great job. And the national government is failing us. People  don`t respect the president, and you just played two clips about why.

I don`t watch the president on television anymore, because I know that  everything he says is made up in his head. I can`t tell the difference in  what he believes and what he doesn`t. And I just I think we`re all ignoring  him. 

And, actually, I`m quite proud of Americans for doing the right thing,  without any guidance from the president or the national government, because  of local health departments by both Republican and -- under both Republican  and Democratic governors. 

They`re the ones that are the stars here and the American people. 

KORNACKI: John, what do you make of the president?

The last couple of weeks, a lot of what he was saying publicly seemed to be  downplaying it. Do you see a shift here meaningfully in his posture on  this? How do you interpret what he`s doing right now?


JOHN PODHORETZ, EDITOR, "COMMENTARY": Meaningfully from Wednesday night  until today.


PODHORETZ: That is, Wednesday night, he speaks, the market drops 2,000  points. Everyone in the White House goes, oh, my God, we went the wrong  way. 

And so, today, they had this sort of substantive meeting. They had this --  bringing out every single CEO in America, practically, to say, we will  help, we`re going to help, we`re going to do this, we`re going to do that,  an hour and 10 minutes. 

You picked out a couple of clips where he got partisan, but that was really  not the overall tone of the -- which was actually quite ponderous and  almost exhausting to listen to, in the sort of accretion of pretty boring  details about what`s going on.

I will say, if I could just say, that I am thrilled to hear Howard Dean  becoming a responsible federalist, opposing -- with the notion that what is  really important is local and state action.


PODHORETZ: Because that is actually -- that sense -- if what`s happened  here is that the -- is that local and state governments have been empowered  and that Washington is off to the side in terms of a national crisis,  that`s a good thing. That`s actually how our country is supposed to work. 

KORNACKI: President Trump was also pressed on his decision to downsize  White House national security staff and to eliminate an office to address  global pandemics. 


YAMICHE ALCINDOR, "PBS NEWSHOUR": You said that you don`t take  responsibility, but you did disband the White House pandemic office, and  officials that were working in that office left this administration  abruptly.

So what responsibility do you take to that? And officials that worked in  that office said that you -- that the White House lost valuable time  because that office was disbanded. What do you make of that?

TRUMP: Well, I just think it`s a nasty question, because what we`ve done is  -- and Tony has said numerous times that we`ve saved thousands of lives  because of the quick closing. 

And when you say me, I didn`t do it. We have a group of people.


KORNACKI: Well, Howard Dean, you say you`re not paying too much attention  to the president.

But I am wondering about your party looking to try to unseat him this year.  Is this something they think voters are paying attention to when it comes  to the president`s handling of it? Is this something they see as a reason  that voters might vote him out? Is it part of the strategy? 

DEAN: Well, look, you have to respect a president in order to vote for him.  And he does have a hard core of devotees that, as he once said himself,  really would elect him even if he did shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue.

But most people don`t like this kind of stuff. They really don`t. They  would like a normal president who will bring the country together and that  everybody can respect, no matter what party they`re in. 

Barack Obama was such a president. This president is not such a president.  Even George W. Bush was -- he was divisive, but he didn`t have a divisive  personality. I can`t imagine him saying anything like what Donald Trump  just said. 

KORNACKI: How do you look at this, John, from that standpoint?

We have heard the argument before. We heard in the 2016 campaign that this  Trump style was not something the American people would want. He is the  president now.

Do you think this one, just because of the nature of it -- it`s a pandemic.  There`s a degree of sort of dread out there in this country right now. They  look at his leadership differently on this? Does this change people`s minds  at all? 


PODHORETZ: Oh, for sure. 

I mean, this is going to make or break the presidency. I mean, there are  parts of it, that are totally beyond his control. If the pandemic is not as  bad as we fear it will be, and if somehow this kind of fades in a couple of  months, then we will be dealing with it in a different way. 

But don`t think that the market going into -- don`t think that this  administration doesn`t think that the market becoming a bear market, almost  entirely because of this news -- I mean, it was at its all-time high on  February 22. This is, what, March 13. 

I mean, this is no joke. It`s gone down 9,000 points or 8,000 points in  three weeks. They know this is death for them. So they will do whatever  they -- he can tap-dance and he can blame Obama and all of that. 

KORNACKI: See, but that`s what I`m...

PODHORETZ: But the facts will be the fact. And the public will go to the  polls voting on how he handled this. 

KORNACKI: Well, it`s interesting, because you made the point that, at that  event today, he took his shots at Obama, but there also was, it seemed, a  deliberate tone there that is different, an attempt at a tone there that`s  different from what he usually strikes. 

If the market got his attention, and the market sort of forced his hand on  that, and the market is now up today, how sustainable is that, do you  think, in terms of changing his approach? 

PODHORETZ: Well, I don`t -- I mean, I don`t know that it`s sustainable,  because he could -- I believe, based on how we have watched him, he could  now take a victory lap and say, oh, this is great. See, it went down 2,000.  I brought it back up 2,000. Now everybody likes me. It`s all going to be  fine. 

And, by Monday he will be attacking Nancy Pelosi on Twitter, and there will  be sort of a -- and he -- they won`t make a deal on the aid package, and  then we will be back -- and then the market will crash again. 

And then we will be in this kind of classic -- I mean, in 2008, when the  market was tanking, it went up, it went down, it went -- it would go down  1,000 points during the same day. We`re nowhere out of the woods here. 

I mean, maybe if he were quiet, but -- you know?

KORNACKI: Howard Dean? 

DEAN: Well, I don`t think it`s -- I actually don`t think -- I mean, I think  the president has something to do with the market drops, because people  don`t have confidence in him on Wall Street either. 

Here`s what`s going to happen, though. These market gyrations are based on  fear. They`re not based on the economy. Three months from now, when we see  the economic damages -- I mean, I spent my week in Washington, New York and  Philadelphia. 

The streets were virtually empty, relatively speaking. Amtrak, it was at  about 25 percent capacity. Usually, you have to fight for a seat.

That -- that`s what`s really going to hurt the market. That`s what`s going  to tank the airlines, tank the transportation industry, and tank a whole  bunch of other things. Consumption is going to go down. That is going to  lead to a recession. 


DEAN: So, that`s the real problem here. 

It`s not just Trump`s bad-tempered and foulness. It`s the fact that he`s  about to usher in a big recession. And that is going to be a big problem. 

KORNACKI: All right, Howard Dean and John Podhoretz, thank you both for  being with us. 

And be sure to tune in tonight 10:00 p.m. for a special edition of "THE  LAST WORD." 

A team of experts will be answering your questions on the coronavirus. And  you can submit those questions right now. Use the hashtag #MSNBCanswers on  Twitter. You can send an e-mail to

Thanks for being with us.