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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 3/8/21

Guest: Mazie Hirono, Paul Krugman, Caitlin Rivers, Ashish Jha, Jelani Cobb


Senate Democrats passed the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package in a strict party-line vote. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) is interviewed about the COVID relief package the Senate recently passed. Democrats pass the COVID rescue package while GOP focuses on culture wars. The CDC released a new guideline that people who are fully vaccinated can safely meet indoors without masks. Missouri Senator Roy Blunt announces he won`t seek re- election.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Even if she`s over here, I`m sorry you all, but she will be a superstar. She and Harry, stars. Lola Adesioye, Martin Lewis, candid about it. That`s tonight`s REIDOUT. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice over): Tonight on ALL IN.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I promised the American people, help us on the way.

HAYES: Biden went big and the Democrats deliver.

BIDEN: It`s going to make a big difference in so many lives in this country.

HAYES: Tonight, the transformational relief plan now on a glide path to passage with Senator Mazie Hirono. and Paul Krugman. And Jelani Cobb on the state of a Republican Party that didn`t lift a finger for an American rescue. All that and big news on the new COVID treatment and new CDC guidance for people who have already been vaccinated when ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. Well, it looks like it is really actually happening. The most shockingly aggressive rescue bill of my lifetime is now very likely to be signed into law. Saturday, after an all-night session, Senate Democrats passed the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package in a strict party-line vote. Democrats all vote yes, Republicans all voted no.

Because senators made some changes to the bill, it now has to go back to the Democratic-controlled House, which is expected to pass the identical Senate version this week possibly as early as tomorrow. So, the bill will then go to the president, President Biden, for his signature.

But take a step back. We`re in the early part of March, right. We`re not at the 100-day marker yet. This is an incredible victory for both the country, the Biden administration, the Democratic Party, which held together amid unified opposition from Congressional Republicans. They didn`t get a vote in either house.

They tried to break the party apart. That`s Republicans did by forcing tough votes on amendments and arguing against the bill in public. But in the end, it didn`t work. Democrats won. And as a result, a lot of people`s lives are going to get better.


BIDEN: By passing this plan, we would have delivered real tangible results for the American people and their families. They`ll be able to see and know and feel to change in their own lives.


HAYES: There is a lot in this bill, including for starters, $350 billion for state and local governments that some of whom have been really hobbled by the pandemic with their tax revenue and added expenses. There`s $130 billion for K to 12 schools, $25 billion in relief for hard-hit restaurants. That`s part of the bill that we`ve been focused on here on this program for months now.

There`s 10s of billions for COVID testing, which by the way, is still important, still vital, even as we vaccinate. There`s also a ton of money for vaccine distribution, other measures to fight and suppress the virus. And then that`s the sort of programmatic mind, right? Then there`s the money that is just going to go directly to Americans, struggling Americans.

That includes an extension of the $300 weekly federal unemployment payment bonus, right, that gets paid above what you would normally make for unemployment. There`s also a tax break on unemployment benefits, so people do not get some shocking surprise tax bill, which is key, $1,400 stimulus checks for low and middle-income Americans coupled with an additional $1,400 checks for their adult dependents and children, and a child tax credit of either 30,000 or $3,600 per child, depending on the child`s age.

The child tax credit alone, just to be clear, this is for one year, OK, couldn`t benefit as many as 83 million children in this country. Here`s the impact.


BIDEN: Taken all together, this plan is going to make it possible to cut child poverty in half. Let me say it again, it`s significant, historic, will cut child poverty in half.


HAYES: Advances like this, this piece of legislation, they don`t come along very often. And not only is it going to impact child poverty, I mean, just let`s look at the $1,400 check, right, that`s on top of the $600 that was passed in last relief package. So, let`s say you are a married couple who makes less than $150,000 per year. You got two kids along with an adult dependent, say, a child in college or disabled adult who lives with you.

You`re looking at $7,000 in direct payments from the government, $1,400 for each person in the family. I mean, that`s a real game-changer after the year that all of us have had. The White House says, many Americans will get that money by the end of this month.

So, how do we get here, right? I mean, one thing that strikes me as I look at this, right? Both parties have tons of corporate donors. There`s K Street lobbyists in both sides working over Congress. There are ways in which both Republicans and Democrats are both overly influenced by big money, by corporate interests by the rich, right. And yet look at the difference in the distributional priorities.

When Donald Trump`s Republican Party got elected, they tried to get the ACA twice and then successfully pass a massive tax cut primarily for the rich and corporations. First thing out of the gate, Biden and the Democrats passed a bill in which the poorest 20 of Americans are expected to see a 20 percent boost in income according to a new analysis, while the richest one percent will receive an income boost of zero, zero percent.

And then take -- think about that. Think about the difference in the distributional effects here, and then think about the fact that Republicans keep insisting they are, in the words of Josh Hawley, a working-class party. And the thing is, it is true. The 2020 election suggested the GOP is actually increasingly relying on less affluent voters while the Democratic coalition is actually getting more professional and more affluent.

But the Republican rhetoric around standing for the working class is just not reflected in policy. I think that`s why Republicans would rather talk about Dr. Seuss to try to stop culture wars because they don`t particularly seem to actually have a policy agenda to help the working class. Republicans would rather inflame resentments in hopes of increasing their power.


BIDEN: When I was elected, I said we`re going to get the government out of the business of battling on Twitter and back in the business of delivering for the American people, of making a difference in their lives, giving everyone a chance, a fighting chance of showing the American people that their government can work for them. And passing the American Rescue Plan will do that.


HAYES: There is a notion, right, that the two parties are increasingly hopelessly polarized. Each side is retrieved to its corner. And while that`s partly true, it`s not the whole truth, right, because what`s happening is not symmetrical. It`s true, not a single Republican has backed the new COVID Relief Bill. But just think back over the past year. When Donald Trump, the Republican President was president, and the economy cratered and Republicans were essentially forced to pass stimulus bills, Democrats backed that legislation.

They voted for economic stimulus multiple times in an election year even though they had to know, and it probably did help Donald Trump`s reelection bid. Even though Donald Trump literally put his name on the checks.

I mean Democrats, I guess, said they wanted to play hardball, right, if they were psychos back in the spring. And they thought look, you know, the better the economy is doing, the better Donald Trump is going to do in reelection, they could have refused to back the stimulus when Trump was president. They could have acted the way Republicans are acting now.

But for a bunch of different complicated fascinating reasons, Democratic politicians really are committed to the project of using government as a means of helping people that are struggling. The proof is in the pudding in this bill. And Republicans, well, let`s just say they`re making a very different calculation.

Hawaii Senator Maisie Hirono was part of the marathon legislative session that led to the passage of the largest stimulus bill in Senate history, and she joins you -- me now.

It was a rare all-nighter for the members of the United States Senate. But how are you feeling now that you`ve come out of it with a bill?

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): At the end of the day, although the Republicans tried -- they spent many, many hours trying to weaken the bill and ultimately not a single one voted for it. At the end of the day, we Democrats knew that we were going to get a bill that was going to help millions of people, and that`s what our commitment was. And we -- it was worth it.

HAYES: Was there any wavering? I mean, this was a long session. There was a back and forth. There`s a vote that was held open. Joe Manchin was sort of on the phone with the White House. I guess, inside the caucus, you know, you`ve got the thinnest possible margin, a one-vote margin.


HAYES: Did everyone -- is there like a huddle? Did you guys like get together physically? I don`t know if you can do that COVID times, but does everyone know like we`re -- we have to do this and we`re going to do this or are there moments where you`re like, this might go sideways?

HIRONO: Oh, I had little doubt that we were going to get this done because all of the Democrats voted to use the reconciliation process. We all voted for the reconciliation bill, so that was a commitment to get things done, and we did. It goes to show that we have a diverse caucus, but at the end of the day we are here to help people.We believe government can do good for people. That`s our belief and we act on that.

HAYES: Are you surprised you didn`t get a single Republican vote particularly because there was extended negotiations with Ohio Senator Rob Portman about adding some changes to the bill that he wanted to see made. I think is polling at between 65 and 75 percent. It`s very popular. It`s going to put money in people`s pockets. Are you surprised not one Republican voted for it?

HIRONO: I`m very disappointed that not one Republican voted for it and neither did any Republican in the House. My hope is that the American people will hold them to account and that they all have to go back to their -- to their constituents and explain to them why they did not, as you put it, lift a finger to get those checks into people`s hands, to extend unemployment benefits, to help the state and counties get out of the economic crisis that they`re in due to the pandemic. They should have to explain to their constituents why not a single one of them deserve their help and their vote.

HAYES: What lessons have Democrats learned about legislating in this era of hyperpolarization and particularly in the wake of 2009 the last time Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the White House.

HIRONO: Understanding that Mitch McConnell`s goal is to retake the senate which means that he is not going to be with us in pushing legislation that Joe Biden wants. And so, that reality and recognition should hit us pretty soon, which means that we are going to need to do filibuster reform.

HAYES: Well, I want to follow up on that. But first, just to go back. I mean, it is striking when you look at the two big domestic policy priorities of the Republican administration, right, when they came in in 2017, there were no Democrats who voted on their way on either the ACA or the tax cuts, right?

But on spending, on the big omnibuses and things like that, it was a much more, for lack of a better word, normal legislative process. Like, there were negotiations, there were bipartisan working groups that were sort of working out what was going to be in the big must-pass spending bills. It kind of rolled along in the background. Do you think those days are dead now because there`s a Republican -- there`s a Democratic president and Mitch McConnell has the goals you say he does?

HIRONO: I think it makes a huge difference in Mitch McConnell`s calculation that we have the House, the Senate, and the Presidency. His goal is to take back everything. And that makes him very ruthless and frankly, he doesn`t have a philosophy of helping people that guides him. His guidepost is we need to take back the power.

So, that`s what we`re uh up against. And sadly, you know, we`re good we`re going to need to do voting rights bills, we`re going to need to do infrastructure. There are a lot of bills that we need to do. And for the time that Mitch McConnell was in power, he did not bring a lot of legislation to the floor where the Democrats were in the majority could exercise our vote of powers.

And that`s why he wants that filibuster to remain intact because we Democrats are actually going to bring to the floor bills for debate that will help people and that`s not where the Republicans want to be. Certainly, not Mitch McConnell.

But I believe that the reality of not getting things done for the American people is going to hit us pretty soon and we`re all going to be talking about filibuster reform. That`s my hope.

HAYES: You know, you point to something another important asymmetry here. We would remark all the time in the -- in the last you know four years during the Trump administration when McConnell controlled the Senate that after those two big legislative priorities, one of which failed miserably, the ACA repeal and one of which succeeded, the corporate tax cut, right, McConnell stopped legislating. Like, there was just nothing left on the to- do list. You guys just confirmed judges all day. You come on my program and that`s just -- it was driving you all insane.


HAYES: Senate Democrats have a very, very -- I mean, you can list eight to ten bills that you guys want in that body.

HIRONO: Yes. And Mitch McConnell wants to be able to uh be the guy that stops all of them. And that is why he`s so intent on keeping filibuster intact, and why in my view, we`re going to need to change that if we want to accomplish things.

HAYES: How active is that conversation inside the caucus? I`ve seen Amy Klobuchar, I`ve seen Tina Smith. You`ve been on this uh for a while. But I know that, you know, not a lot of senators worry about protecting the role of the minority in a sort of partisan sense in our hyper-polarized time. How much is that conversation developing inside the Democratic caucus in the Senate?

HIRONO: It`s very much developing. And when you hear even Joe Manchin say that maybe we should do filibuster reform that requires our -- anybody who`s against a measure to come to the floor and have to talk all night and all day if possible, that is an opening on Joe Mancha`s part for filibuster reform.

HAYES: Yes. He made those comments this week. And it is true that uh we don`t have any talking required. We saw Ron Johnson doing sort of a version of it, right, with the objection to the reading. He had to kind of sit there. And as soon as he left, Chris Van Hollen was able to swoop in. There`s only so long senators are willing to sit in that chamber. Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, thank you so much for coming on the program.

HIRONO: Thank you so much. Aloha everyone. Stay safe. Be kind.

HAYES: All right. The two Georgia Senate races, the ones that just happened, the special election January 5th, right, that gave Democrats control of the Senate. They were the most expensive congressional races of all time. Combined 800 million dollars spent on those two races.

The truth is though, Democrats could have spent a lot more and it still would have been worth it because those two wins basically paved the way for at least $1.5 trillion conservatively estimated more -- and more in aid for desperate Americans. The lessons Democrats have learned about going big with Paul Krugman who was there the last around next.



SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): The dangers of undershooting our response are far greater than overshooting. We should have learned the lesson -- we should learn the lesson of 2008 and `09 when Congress was too timid and constrained in its response to the global financial crisis, and it took years, years for the economy to get out of recession.


HAYES: From the moment they took the Senate majority this year, Democrats made it clear that one of the reasons why they were insisting on a big COVID relief package is because of what happened during the last big crisis, right, the financial crisis around 12 years ago. That is the last crisis precipitated by a Republican president that a Democratic administration immediately had to try to get out of.

Despite having both houses of Congress and the White House, the rescue package for the Obama administration was in retrospect, I think it`s quite clear, simply too small to do what was needed. And one of the loudest voices calling for more stimulus back then was Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman. And Professor Paul Krugman himself joins me now.

I have been covering this since back then. I was writing about the debates over the Recovery Act back then, and the stimulus, and now. What has changed? Why -- what -- how do you account for the massive difference between the approach this time around and last time?

PAUL KRUGMAN, NOBEL PRIZE-WINNING ECONOMIST: Well, first of all, I think Democrats have learned two things, one economic and one political. They`ve learned that when you`re kind of at bottom, particularly when interest rates are already zero, there`s a tremendous economic asymmetry.

If you overshoot, OK, well, the Federal Reserve can raise interest rates and inflation can be contained. If you undershoot, they can`t cut interest rates because they`re already zero, so there`s a tremendous asymmetry there. But even more important they`ve learned about political. They`ve learned about the nature of their opposition.

Apparently, according to, you know, accounts, there were people in the Obama inner circle who thought that if the first stimulus turned out not to be big enough, they could go back for more. And that may have been true whenever Dirksen was the leader of Senate Republicans, but it`s not true when Mitch McConnell is the leader. It`s if they didn`t -- if it`s not big enough the first time around, then the other guys are going to say aha, see, your economic philosophy doesn`t work.

HAYES: Right.

KRUGMAN: And so, you don`t get a second chance. And they learned that, you know, like some of us did warn about that back then, but now I think everybody gets it.

HAYES: Yes. I also think there`s a -- there -- you know, on the political level, it was interesting to see the Republican Governor of West Virginia - - again, this is a state Trump carry by 40 points, Jim Justice saying things like this, right. This sounds like Paul Krugman circa 2009. He says, I just keep going back the exact same thing, it`s this. At the end of the day, if we overdo it a little bit, downside risk is minimal. If we under do it, the downside risk is enormous.

That really did sink in broadly past just like little, you know, the corner of econ Twitter where people debate this. It really did sink in.

KRUGMAN: Yes, I have to say it`s -- you know, I spent most of my career as a pundit, you know, making arguments that turn out I`m not always right, but making arguments that turn out to be right and end up being vindicated in principle, but never getting a chance to have it right in real-time.

This time the democrats actually acted on it. People actually learned the lesson and did the right thing. So, I mean it`s -- I`m pinching myself wondering if this is some kind of a -- of a dream because we really are actually responding more or less adequately to the crisis at hand.

HAYES: You know, one thing I think about now as we watch the vaccinations which are right around 2.2 million a day, when we conceive of the possibility of getting to some kind of herd immunity plus this rescue money. You know, I`m not -- I`m certainly not an economic prognosticator, but the second half of this year, particularly the last quarter, like, it could be really good, right?

I mean, there is a lot of pent up demand. We haven`t lost -- it`s not a natural disaster that took out huge amounts of physical capital. Like, the airplanes are all there, the hotels are all there, Broadway is still there. Like, you just got to -- you know, we could have a pretty good second half of this year.

KRUGMAN: Yes. There isn`t even the kind of overhang of bad debt that we had last time around. So, so we really are -- I mean, to coin a phrase, this could very well be morning in America. I mean, I`m -- Goldman Sachs, and they have a very good team of economists whatever else you may think of them, they`re predicting that we really are going to have close to eight percent growth this year, which is a morning in America level of growth. Enough to get the economy more or less back to full employment by early next year.

Now, that`s not the end of the story. You know, there`s a tremendous amount of stuff we need to do down the line. But I`m expecting that, you know, a year from now, we`re going to be looking and saying wow, incredible how much better things have gotten.

HAYES: You know, one of the -- one of the points of contention the last time around that you were arguing against, right, was the case on the other side, it was made by, you know, very respected economists. Ken Rogoff comes to mind, as well as you know, folks on CNBC in the business press that, you know, there`s no such thing as a free lunch. You start throwing money around, the next thing you know, you`ve got crazy inflation and you`re like Zimbabwe. And it all gets wasted and, you know, you`re going to overshoot. The economy will overheat.

Remarkably, I`m seeing people make that argument again. Now, in their defense, the scale of intervention really is much bigger this time. But what`s yours -- how do you see that now, the threat of "overheating?"

KRUGMAN: Well, I mean it`s not a completely stupid thing to say. I mean, this is a very big package. The economy could be very strong by the end of the year, enough so that inflation takes up a bit. But again, the Federal Reserve knows how to contain that. That`s really not a problem.

And for what it`s worth, I just looked at the latest set of forecasters -- you know, business forecasters surveyed by Bloomberg. And what they`re all pretty much predicting is a Goldilocks Recovery, one that is not too hot not too cold but just about right, just about gets us back to where we should be by early next year.

Now, they could be wrong. Of course, economic forecasts are always wrong one way or the other, but it`s not looking so bad. And I`m actually very really struck by where -- where have all the real crazies gone? I mean, we`re having a debate between fairly sensible people about whether this package is maybe a bit too big or not.

But the people who were warning, you know, hyperinflation, collapse, frogs, boils, death of the firstborn, all of that stuff back in 2009 seemed to be all obsessed with Dr. Seuss instead. So, it`s -- I`ve been gratified to see that the really crazy people have been largely absent from the discussion this time around.

HAYES: It`s such a good point because the contours of this debate have been so different precisely on that score. I mean, we`ve noticed this here that there hasn`t been a lot of arguments against it presented in some (INAUDIBLE) fashion by the Republicans who basically just kind of stepped aside and, you know, fought it around the edges, but never did that launched a full-frontal assault on it rhetorically in the way they did against the Recovery Act.

KRUGMAN: Yes, I mean, a situation where if you want to have a big debate about this plan, the people you roll out is me and Larry Summers, right, that is not the world of 2009.

HAYES: Right.

KRUGMAN: This is a very, very different world. Now, I`m right and Larry is wrong. But you know, the point being that this is actually -- this is a vastly more sensible debate. Republicans have just gone so far into their world of cultural grievances, whatever, that they completely failed to make any effective arguments against this policy.

HAYES: Well, and I -- I mean, this is slightly nerdy but I`ll say it anyway. I also think that this marks a real change in 40 years of post- Reagan-Thatcher intellectual and ideological control by the forces of, you know, the folks that were worried about, you know, supply ciders and tax cuts at the top, and you know, sort of rolling back canes and rolling back government intervention and worried about economies overheating and stagflation. This really does feel to me like marking some epochal break that this bill happened.

KRUGMAN: Sure. We`ve got a bill here that appears to be about to cut child poverty in half all, you know, with a stroke of the pen. And for the past 40 years, anyone who proposed anything like that would have been oh, that`s irresponsible. It`s terrible what about the bums on -- what about the welfare queens. And all of a sudden, we`re about to just cut child poverty in half. That`s an incredible change in the political discourse.

HAYES: Paul Krugman who deals with all of these big issues in his recent book Arguing With Zombies, many of whom appear to have been actually defeated, thank you for being here, Paul.

KRUGMAN: Thanks for having me on.

HAYES: Don`t go anywhere. The CDC just released guidance literally we have all been waiting for. I certainly have. What can we do after we`re vaccinated? What it means for you, for your family, and for the future, that`s just ahead.


HAYES: For the last year during pandemic, the data compiled by the folks at the COVID Tracking Project has been a huge part of our coverage of COVID. You may recognize the series of charts we put them up all the time, the daily update. This is the data from last night, Sunday, March 7th. States reported 1.2 million tests, that`s in purple on the left side of your screen. 41 000 new cases, that`s the red chart there. 40 000 patients hospitalized, the blue one the ones coming down really, really dramatically. And 839 deaths in gray on the far right.

As you can see from that chart, things are pretty much trending in the right direction, although the daily drop in cases has flattened out a bit which is a little concerning. So many people besides us have come to rely on this data since last March. And the amazing thing is that it has been basically a volunteer effort by a few hundred people it has now come to a close.

Last night`s update was the final day of data collection for the COVID Tracking Project founded by Alexis Madrigal and Robinson Meyer, writers of the Atlantic, along with Jeff Hammerbacher a data scientist Erin Kissane a content strategist. What began as an effort to track testing in the U.S. in the early days of the pandemic which was really a disaster, if you remember. It grew into this indispensable resource for journalists, researchers, even government officials, all powered by a small army of volunteers who manually comb through data every day from every state and territory.

Thinking back to the many shocking, outrageous abdications of duty by the last administration on even the most basic work around the virus, one of the most critical was not keeping good current data. I mean, back in late February last year, when as we now know, the pandemic was about to explode in this country, you had members of the administration that were tweeting about their frustration about the John Hopkins Web site tracking global cases going down.

For many months, data coming from the government was unreliable or just old. And when you were battling an invisible exponentially growing respiratory virus, you need up-to-date numbers. And so, into the breach stepped the good people at the COVID Tracking Project. And thank goodness, they did. Providing this basic but crucial public service at a time we needed it most.

It`s also a reminder of how much we`ve all had to kind of fend for ourselves when coping with this once-in-a-century pandemic because the leadership of the last administration just left us all on our own. So, thank you to the leaders and the volunteers of the COVID Tracking Project. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you, thank you. They are now stepping back because they believe that this should be a job for the federal government and that the new administration is actually capable of filling that leadership vacuum.

Today, another example of the federal government stepping up to lead the way, the CDC putting out huge new guidance about what vaccinated Americans can do and it`s good news on the crucial question of hugging of grandparents. That`s next.


HAYES: This Thursday night is March 11th, exactly one year since the WHO declared the coronavirus a pandemic. We will be coming to you live from the Lincoln Memorial that night along with President Biden`s first primetime national address to mark that date and acknowledge this incredible and awful year, but also to look ahead as we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Case in point today, some great news today from the CDC for anyone who`s gotten the vaccine. New guidelines from the agency now say that fully vaccinated people can go visit an unvaccinated low-risk household without masks or social distancing. So, vaccinated grandparents who are fully protected can finally hug their unvaccinated grandkids or kids with the government`s blessing.

That`s just huge for all of us, I say this first-person but gotten to do this actually out ahead of CDC guidance, if I have to be honest. And it`s even more encouraging given the vaccination rate for seniors. According to the White House, 30 percent of Americans age 65 and older are now fully vaccinated including 39 of those over 75.

Almost two-thirds of all American seniors have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine. As a country, we`re averaging about 2.2 million shots per day right now, getting us all closer to hugging our loved ones.

I want to bring in two people who are closely tracking what it will take to get us back to some kind of normal. Caitlin Rivers is a senior scholar at the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She has led the development of guidance on a phased reopening since last year. And Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of Brown University`s School of Public Health.

Great to have you both. Caitlin, let me start with you. You know, there was back and forth about when these guidance -- when this guidance was going to come out, if it was going to be -- if they were going to be very, very risk-averse in what they told folks. What`s your reaction to what the CDC unveiled today?

CAITLIN RIVERS, SENIOR SCHOLAR, JOHN HOPKINS CENTER FOR HEALTH SECURITY: I`m quite pleased with it. I think it`s really exciting for people to have a clear path forward to get back to a normal life. It`s a little bit on the conservative side, but I think that`s good given the data we have available. And I think going forward we`ll be able to have a lot more flexibility to do things that are important to us when fully vaccinated.

HAYES: Dr. Jha, you know, one of the things that I think is hard about this part of the conversation here, you know, we talk about like the science says. And you know, there`s some things that are very clear in black and white and there`s a lot of things that are about a risk spectrum, right? And everybody`s been sort of dealing with that from the beginning, but it gets even more complicated now in this period, right, because there`s this like thawing happening, there`s folks getting vaccinated and there`s worry too about going too fast.

ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY`S SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Yes, absolutely. It`s a very complex and a bit confusing of a time, right? Because on one hand, people should be very optimistic about the future, and then you hear about things like the variance and the fact that we still have 60 000 cases happening every day. And that complex sort of set of facts makes it difficult to know what is safe and what is not safe to do.

I thought the CDC guidance today was terrific. I agree with Professor Rivers. It`s a touch on the conservative side. But overall, I think it`s really good.

HAYES: What do you -- when you say touch on the conservative side, Professor Rivers, what do you mean?

RIVERS: Well, the CDC guidance really hinges on whether or not someone who is fully vaccinated is able to transmit the virus to someone else. We know the vaccines are very good at protecting the person who is vaccinated. It`s not as clear yet whether someone who`s vaccinated can pass on the virus.

And so, the CDC is recommending that if you are with people who are fully vaccinated, then you can go (AUDIO GAP). If you are with someone who is at low risk, you can also socialize without masks or social distancing. But when you start to add on more risk factors, if you`re with someone at high risk of severe illness, if you`re in a group, they`re still recommending that you wear a mask and that you distance. And that`s in recognition of the fact that we can`t be confident yet that the vaccine is actually prevent -- protecting other people.

HAYES: I want to -- let me zero in on this question because it`s been a vexing one for a lot of folks. I`ll go to you Dr. Jha, then back to you, Professor Rivers. So, you know, this is a situation in which we haven`t run the clinical trials to test for transmission as the defendant -- dependent variable, right? We haven`t actually gone and run a study specifically about whether people are transmitting.

But I think sometimes people hear that and they think that there`s some like secret transmission happening we don`t know about it. We don`t have biological or medical reason to think it is happening. We just haven`t tested for yet. Is that a fair characterization, Dr. Jha?

Yes. And I`d go even one step further, Chris, and say look, all the evidence on these vaccines suggest that they do reduce transmission. Now, 100 percent? Probably not 100 percent, but a lot. Eighty ninety percent a very large amount. We haven`t nailed it down perfectly but there`s so much circumstantial evidence that these vaccines reduce transmission that I think we can feel comfortable that they do. We do need to nail it down a bit better in terms of exactly how much.

HAYES: And Dr. Rivers, I mean one of the things that the CDC said today that I thought was interesting and relates in some ways to some things I`ve seen you write about and others, is just the notion that giving people a sense the vaccine really does give them some protection, which is grounded in the data, is also a key part of incentivizing vaccination uptake.

I mean, if the message is go get vaccinated and then you got to go back to doing everything the way you were before, it`s a -- that`s a tougher carrot than go get vaccinated and you could hug your grandkids, right? And the CDC actually acknowledges that in the guidance today.

RIVERS: It`s true that this uncertainty about what exactly the vaccines do as it relates to other people has been difficult. Right now, about 10 of people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated which is an amazing achievement. But it means that 90 of people are not yet vaccinated. And so, we do need to take steps to protect everyone else.

But for the people who are fully vaccinated, it`s good news. We have a lot more flexibility now to do things that are important to us.

HAYES: The trajectory here, Dr. Jha is really, really impressive so far in terms of our vaccine rollout. I mean, we`re doing a better job than all but maybe two countries in the world, arguably maybe even better than the U.K. at this point. How do you feel about where this is and how do you want -- think about hesitancy and demand issues as we go forward?

JHA: Yes. I think first and foremost, we`re doing an incredible job. We probably are doing a better job than any other certainly large country in the world. And I see the numbers which are over two million a day, going up to three or even four million before very long. I mean, maybe by the time we`re in April.

We`ll certainly have the vaccines to do it. I think we`ll have the distribution to it -- to do it. But your point, Chris, is exactly right. We`re going to hit a point where we`re going to stop finding, we`re just not going to have enough arms to put the vaccines into. And there -- we got to get working on that now.

I do think a lot of people are on the fence are going to jump off the fence when they see people get vaccinated and do well. But there are other people who are going to be resistant and we`re going to have to really help engage with people to figure out what`s holding them back and to try to address those.

HAYES: Yes. And Dr. Rivers, there`s been some -- you know, there`s a bunch of different ways in which this hesitancy is being measured. There`s some political -- you know, there`s political polarization around this issue. We`re seeing among, you know, Trump voters and Republicans more hesitancy. We`ve seen hesitancy among other groups come down over time.

I wonder, you know, part of the package passed today is targeted money to go out to states and localities to partner with community groups to do whatever you need to do to get inside the social networks of folks to give them a message.

RIVERS: That`s right. A lot of the public health power in this country is at the state and local level. And that`s because state and local officials know what works for their community and how to reach people in those communities. And so, I think empowering state and local officials to really get out there and reach people, I think, will be really critical going forward.

And I do agree with Dr. Jha that as more and more people will be get vaccinated, people who aren`t sure yet if it`s right for them will become more confident. And I think that will help a lot.

HAYES: Yes. I`m still not there but I`m just chomping at the bit. I can`t wait. Caitlin Rivers, Ashish Jha, thank you both. I appreciate it.

Next, can the Republican Party ever recover from its Trump era conversion or could this be the end of the GOP at least as we know it. Jelani Cobb on the future of the party after this.



SEN. ROY BLUNT (R-MO): That practical sense of getting the job done combined with great staff and good legislative partners from both sides has advanced health research on cancer, and Alzheimer`s, and disease you may only know about if someone in your family has it. It`s made mental health more likely to be treated like all other health.

I won`t be a candidate for reelection to the United States Senate next year. I want to thank my family and thank the great team that came together to help me work for you. Most importantly, thanks to Missourians, whether you voted for me or not, for the opportunity to work for you and a better future for our state and our country.


HAYES: That goodbye video today from Sen. Roy Blunt announcing his retirement caps a long political career from the Missouri Republican. Despite siding with Donald Trump on basically almost everything, he still represents a wing of the Republican Party that was more focused on legislative accomplishments than Dr. Seuss books.

Blunt is just the latest of a handful of Republican Senators who no longer want to help scare the party through the post-Trump era. And perhaps because there`s never been a clear vision for it beyond cruelty and resentment.

In new piece from the New Yorker titled appropriately and enough, What is happening to the Republicans, staff writer Jelani Cobb argues that one answer is "the combination of base stoked by a sensationalist right-wing media and the emergence of cooked adjacent figures in the so-called Gingrich Revolution of 1994, and the Tea Party, have redefined the party`s temper and its ideological boundaries.

And Jelani Cobb, staff writer for the New Yorker joins me now. Jelani, it`s a great piece and I thought of it today when I saw that Blunt video because it just felt like it was beamed from another dimension. And I don`t mean to say this as -- to praise Blunt who, you know, voted for the tax cuts and to kill off the ACA, and acquit the president twice, and whose politics in my humble opinion are not great.

But what he views as his role, the thing that he thinks he`s doing as a U.S. senator is so wildly different than what Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz or Donald Trump think they`re doing.

JELANI COBB, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: Right. And he`s not the only one. I mean, there`s a whole list of people we talk about who come to similar conclusions, not all of whom are kind of well-known elected officials, but many other people who served in posts and previous Republican administrations who are quietly leaving the party.

And I think that the difference is, you know, culture war as kind of a means to win a position that allows you to legislate as opposed to culture war for culture wars sake, which is, you know, what seems to be the identity of the party now.

HAYES: You write in the piece about the fact that history is uh that parties aren`t permanent fixtures in American history and coalitions change. Sometimes they die off. As a historian, what do you -- what do you see in this moment and how it echoes in American history.

COBB: So, it`s interesting, you know, because, you know, we talk about the two-party system as if it is permanent and as if it`s invulnerable. And you know, our two-party system has collapsed twice before, you know, after 1812 and spectacularly in 1854 after the Kansas Nebraska Act. And you know, the second parties, you know, the Federalists and the Whigs both broke apart, you know, in the midst of really tumultuous political times.

And, you know, I was thinking about that and saying not predicting that the Republican Party would collapse but looking at how many of the dynamics that did result in collapse in previous times are present in our current politics.

You know, the demographic shortcomings kind of painting yourself into a demographic corner, the internal incoherence, you know, not exactly being able to articulate what it is that you stand for or where it is that you`re trying to go in the near future, the concerns about their uh regional -- regionalization of the party that hugely outsized uh the degree of strength that the south has in the Republican Party and the way in which that`s become a liability in recent years. And it really is a quite a fix for the GOP to navigate.

HAYES: Yes. And partly I think because, you know, there is this kind of, you know, way in which they are tied to Donald Trump whether they like it or not. There`s a story today that you know he sent -- he sent the cease and desist letter to the fundraising committees of the fundraising office name. And now they`ve come to an agreement. The RNC is going to go host something at Mar-a-Lago.

You`ve got Lindsey Graham -- this Lindsey Graham quote to me is very revealing and I think actually quite honest. Lindsey Graham`s whole thing is like look, this is the best we got, OK. He may -- he may be a sociopath, he may destroy American democracy, I don`t care about that. I care about the fact that he can motivate our voters. He basically says essentially that or something close to it in this interview. Take a listen.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): There`s something about Trump. There`s a dark side and there`s some magic there. And what I`m trying to do is just harness the magic. He could make the republican party something that nobody else I know could make. He could make it bigger. He can make it stronger. He can make it more diverse and he also could destroy it.


HAYES: What do you think of that?

COBB: Well, I mean, I think that`s probably the most honest we`ve seen Lindsey Graham in at least the last five years. But the fact is, when he said it could make the party bigger and more diverse, that he could also destroy it. The fact is that it`s far more likely to be the latter than the former.

Everything that he did made the party more appealing to a smaller slice of the electorate. You know, looking at the Republican Party with an electorate that`s you know 80 to 90 percent white in 1996, white people were 85 percent of the vote, just about 85 percent of the electorate. They`re now about 62 percent and falling. And you know, kind of doubling down on the politics of white racial anxiety might bring out the fervor that we`ve seen.

And certainly, Donald Trump never lacked the ability to generate fervor, but numerically it doesn`t make sense. It doesn`t add up. Not in national elections. And so, I think that what Lindsey Graham said is true.

HAYES: Well, there`s also -- I mean, the bull case, right, the case for Trump as a political figure, and again, this is not taking away the considerations the man, you know, directly I think through his leadership led hundreds of thousands of Americans to die who shouldn`t have and who brought us to the worst of democratic crisis probably since the civil war, right, so just to be clear on that.

But you know, in in sheer political terms, the bull case is like actually he can turn some kind of corner where if you look at the Rio Grande valley, you look at Miami-Dade and you look at, you know, some of the polling results that actually he has -- he can sort of build this Republican Party into some more multi-racial working-class coalition that`s bound by a general sense of cultural resentment against "elites" and only Donald Trump can do that.

COBB: Sure. But the problem is, you know, the person we talked to, you know, in the story Jennifer Horn who was until recently part of the Lincoln Project is that when you looked at it, you know, he brought out you know 74 million people in the last election, and then Joe Biden brought out even more than that right. It was 81, 82 million people whoever that was.

And so, like, that number, those numbers don`t quite add up. And then when you look at the numbers, the percentages of people who think that the Republican Party is racist which has skyrocketed since then in all the growth communities of being communities of color, it doesn`t seem very likely.

Now, what could be -- happen as a result of that, the scenario that you laid out, is a party that is phenomenally strong regionally, but not strong nationally, which is basically what the Republican Party was between 1932 and 1972, and those four decades the almost entirety of which they spent in the Congressional minority.

HAYES: That`s right. And that`s, you know, the sort of solid south and the -- and the New Deal Coalition that bound the Democrats together in this very strange coalition that has, you know, been rent asunder. But again, these -- like you say in the piece, and people should check it out, is that none of this is for ordained, right? Like, all this is dynamic and things can change and we might be in one of those moments.

Jelani Cobb who`s got that great piece of the New Yorker, you should check out. Thanks for making time tonight.

COBB: Thank you. That is ALL IN on this Monday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.