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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 9/29/21

Guests: Elizabeth Warren, Pramila Jayapal, Betsy Woodruff Swan, Kathleen Sebelius


Negotiations over President Joe Biden`s agenda reach a crucial stage. The committee is seeking documents and testimony from nearly a dozen people close to the Trump campaign, as well as the pro-Trump group Women for America First, which organized the January 6th rally. Authorities now in Sydney will finally start coming out of lockdown next month as vaccination rates hit 70 percent and above. Protecting the people who you`re elected to serve is really fundamental and you use all the resources possible.



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

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Folks in our party have reneged on that agreement. And that`s where I think that we have an issue here of trust.

HAYES: The Biden agenda at a crossroads in Congress as two Democrats refused to budge. Tonight, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal at the center of it all in the House and Elizabeth Warren on her colleagues holding everything up in the Senate.

Then, breaking news from the January 6 committee, the new subpoenas are out. What we know about who they`re targeting and why.

And new proof the Biden vaccine requirement is working as the pro-COVID right finds a new villain down under.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): If you guys look what`s going on in Australia right now, you know, they`re enforcing -- after a year and a half, they`re still enforcing lockdowns by the military.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. It is not an exaggeration to say that Democrats might have one chance, one shot to pass legislation to prevent a climate catastrophe. And they are trying to do that right now under the intense pressure of two other competing forces.

One is the fact that due to the nature of American polarization, divided government, the structural advantage that Republicans now hold in national elections, Democrats can expect to control the white houses and both houses -- White House and both houses of Congress maybe every 10 years like once a decade. They really get a chance to pass their agenda.

So, that`s one pressure point. The other is that we`re already at one- degree celsius of permanent global warming. We need to very rapidly curtail emissions to avoid increasing to another half-degree or two and this is the one shot to pass a climate bill. That`s something that Democrats remember tried the last time they had unified power in 2009-10 and it didn`t happen. And guess what, things got much worse over the next 10 years and the rate at which we have to decarbonize has increased dramatically.

So, Democrats have one chance for a substantial climate package right now where they can expect to wait another decade which is likely way too late. With that urgency, Democrats are right now trying to tiptoe across a legislative-type rope with the entire Biden agenda and the future of the country and the world in their arms. And it`s looking pretty dicey up there on the Hill.

The House is planning to hold a vote on one part of the Biden agenda. That`s the bipartisan infrastructure bill that has some climate stuff but nowhere near enough. Progressive Democrats say they won`t vote for that unless the 3.5 trillion build back better agenda bill, that`s the social welfare state, that`s expanded child care and all the climate stuff unless that moves forward in tandem with the bipartisan bill.

The problem, there are two Senate Democrats who are holding out on that reconciliation bill. Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. She has been an irritant in the process, I think you can say saying she will not agree to the $3.5 trillion spending bill nearly all the climate provisions.

Now, she met with White House officials three times yesterday alone and then again today. Afterwards, reporters tried to pin her down on her position on the two bills. Here`s how that went.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you say to progressives that are frustrated that they don`t know where you are?

SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-AZ): I`m in a Senate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are progressives within the Senate that are frustrated that they don`t know where you are either.

SINEMA: I`m like clearly right in front of the elevator.


HAYES: I`m like clearly right in front of the elevator. That is funny. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has been the other Senate Democrat holding up the spending bill. Today, he told reporters there is no chance for an agreement on it before the House is scheduled to vote on that other part of the Biden agenda, the bipartisan infrastructure bill tomorrow.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it -- is it possible? Like, is it possible?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): No, it`s not possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To get a framework by tomorrow?

MANCHIN: No, it`s not possible.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s not possible to get any framework?

MANCHIN: What`s possible is sit down, have good frank negotiations, pass the infrastructure bill.


HAYES: Manchin also released a statement saying, "What I have made clear to the president and Democratic leaders is that spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs when we can`t even pay for the essential social programs like Social Security Medicare is the definition of fiscal insanity.

Progressives in the House say the spending bill has to move him forward in tandem with the infrastructure bill. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the House Progressive Caucus responded to mansion statements saying, "Without the big build back better agenda bill that the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by the Senate, it`s dead in the water."


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): He needs to either give us an offer or this whole thing is not going to happen. I can tell you that his statement has just probably created at least a bunch more votes on the House floor against a bipartisan bill.

HAYES: Now, Pramila Jayapal is one of the key players in all this, one of maybe five or six people that`s going to determine the outcome here. I`m going to speak with her in just a few minutes. Remember, the House is supposed to vote tomorrow on that bipartisan bill. That`s the one that`s already passed the Senate, but without the support of the Progressive Caucus, that`s not going to pass. In fact, as of now, nobody knows what`s happening tomorrow, what`s happening more broadly. I don`t know what`s happening.


Joining me now, Democratic Senator who is 100 on board with passing the entire Biden agenda, both the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package and the bipartisan infrastructure bill together, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Well, you`re one of a hundred votes in the U.S. Senate. You`re very committed to this uh agenda in tandem. Maybe you understand where we -- better than I am. Where are we right now?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): We`re still working on it. You know, I think of it this way. We`ve got 50 Republicans who`ve said no, they don`t want any part of this. But we`ve got 50 Democrats who are all in their own boats trying to row in the same direction.

And what we`re trying to do is we`re trying to get roads and bridges we`re trying to get sewers and water. We`re trying to get broadband. We`re trying to get child care and home and community-based care, community college, housing help. And most of all, we`re trying to take a real, real effort to fight back against the climate crisis. And we`re trying to put all that together and move it forward.

And yes, it`s a little bumpy but, I tell you, I`d rather be where we are. We`re rowing, we`re trying to make it happen, and I think we`re going to do it.

HAYES: OK, I can`t tell if you`re spinning me or you are more confident than some other people. I honestly can`t. I mean, I guess, if I were you, I would say like, look, we`re going to get there, so there`s that.

WARREN: Why? I don`t have to say that. Think of it this way.

HAYES: Well, because you want it to happen, and saying it`s not going to happen isn`t going to help.

WARREN: But think of it this way. You`re right, I do want it to happen. But I also recognize that the values of who we are as a Democratic Party, but also the values of who we are as a nation are deeply tied up in this bill.

You know, you see bills that appeal to this group or that group or some people have a specific problem, not this one. This one has it all. And we understand the only way it`s going to go forward is if all of it goes forward if the things that all of us have been working on have a chance to be in there and to move forward.

And we`ve got it. We are moving that. It is the very fact that it is big and complicated. It makes the negotiations hard. But it also means there`s more on the line and that increases the odds that we`re actually going to get this done.

HAYES: You know, so this is a kind of a bit of a theoretical point but worth exploring here. When you think about how politicians act when in office, I think there`s a bunch of factors, right? They have -- they have constituents, they want to get reelected. Those constituents public opinion views matter a lot.

The median voter, the swing voter, the person that might hold their fate, there are local institutions and groups. You know, you got hospitals or you got a big -- you know, a big factory that makes a certain thing or you got you know big ag in your district. That matters. Lobbyist, corporate pressure, donors matter.

But one thing that I think really matters that is underappreciated is just the individual views, the political ideology of the people involved. It strikes me that like that`s part of what`s happening here that part of the holdouts just aren`t on board with the agenda.

Yes, they`re getting pressured by big interest groups. Yes, there`s a lot of money flowing through. Yes, that`s part of it. But that strikes me as part of the hiccup here. What do you think of that theory?

WARREN: You know, I still just look at the content of what we have here and how many folks in our caucus really want to see us provide child care. And look at it this way. You know, if you`re -- if you take a look at what`s happened to women just over the last couple of years, so that today we have millions of women not in the workforce, one out of four says the problem is child care.

So, if you care about women, then you care about this bill. If you care about babies to being taken care of, you care about this bill. But also, if you care about child care workers who are so often paid barely above poverty wages, you care about this bill because it raises their wages.

But here`s the thing. You cannot like mamas, you cannot like babies, you cannot like child care workers and you still care about this bill because you`re hearing from all of the small businesses in your home state who say they can`t find workers. Well, they can`t find workers if mamas can`t find child care.

So, this is one of those where it`s kind of like every piece of what`s broken, what we`re trying to put in here helps make it better. And can I add one more thing?


HAYES: Please.

WARREN: And besides that, we got fabulous ways to pay for it. The pay fors in this actually saying that billionaires are going to have to pay a fair share that giant corporations are going to have to pay a fair share and that we`re going to put enough money into the IRS directed toward going after those billionaire and giant corporation tax cheats and make them pay what they owe.

That`s how we pay for this by getting more fairness into the system. So, there`s a lot to love here. I love that the House progressives are in there saying we love this bill, we just want to see the whole thing go forward together just like we all agreed on.

HAYES: Final question for you which is about -- I`ve covered the 2009-2010 period on the Hill, I was a Washington editor of the Nation Magazine. I watched that play out. And there were three very big bills. There was the ACA on health care. There was Dodd-Frank financial reform, and there was Waxman-Markey which is the climate bill.

Democrats went two for three. They got two of those across the finish line. The one that didn`t was the client one. Ten years passed with no significant climate legislation. Does everyone over there understand the urgency here? That this isn`t like other stuff, that there`s a clock ticking and that you`re going to get one shot maybe every decade?

WARREN: You know, in fact, I think it`s even worse than that. It`s that every time the scientists go back, take another look at the data, run the numbers again,. they come back to us and say the problem is worse than we thought and we have less time than we thought.

The good thing about this big package is how many different ways we attack the climate crisis. Everything from changing the power grids so power is all green, wind and solar, to moving -- to getting rid of diesel-fired school buses and public buses and train engines and replacing them all with electric all the way to a bigger investment in research.

Because we recognize that if we do everything in this package, it`s still not enough. We also need to double down on the research into this and figure out how to move faster in this crisis.

HAYES: Senator Elizabeth Warren, that was really illuminating.

WARREN: We got to do it.

HAYES: Thank you very much. I`m -- I guess sort of cheered by your diplomatic equanimity this evening, so thank you very much. We`ll talk soon.

WARREN: Good to see you. Don`t go anywhere. I will talk with one of the key players in the negotiations. That`s chair of the progressive caucus, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal right after this.



HAYES: Given everything that`s been going on in Congress, a little jarring to see members gather tonight for the traditional bipartisan Congressional baseball game. President Biden even swung by to watch a few innings and cheer for the Democrats.

All looks very jovial but bear in mind, the Republican team roster includes people like Marjorie Taylor-Greene who made threatening comments and harassed Democratic members. And she`s on the same team as Congressman Mo Brooks who told the crowd on January 6 that it was the day for patriots to start kicking ass shortly before insurrectionists broke into the Capitol and started chanting hang Mike Pence while concussing various police officers.

That`d be kind of weird for Democratic lawmakers to just have a friendly baseball game with those folks. In addition to that weirdness, the game is happening on the eve of the big House vote for President Biden`s agenda. The share -- the chair of the Progressive Caucus Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal saying in a statement, "Progressives will vote for both bills but a majority of our members will only vote for the infrastructure bill after the President`s visionary Build Back Better act passes."

And Congresswoman Jayapal joins me now. OK, you and the progressive caucus have been pretty clear on this from day one. And I just want to -- I`m not sure people are tracking the -- all this which is fine. I don`t think -- I don`t think it matters that much what matters the outcome.

Why though? Explain your position right now. There is a bill that passed the Senate. First of all, can we talk about the content of that bill and your caucus`s views just on the content of it before we get to process, before we get to the game theory prisoners dilemma that is set up.

JAYAPAL: Yes, absolutely. And great to see you, Chris. So, five months ago yesterday, the President made that journey from the White House to Capitol Hill. And he laid out his Build Back Better agenda. And we all got up and cheered. I was in the -- I was in the chamber that night. We all got up and cheered for it because it was the agenda that we ran on, that he put forward as president, and that we said we would deliver to his desk.

Then it got split into two bills. One bill is this infrastructure bill that is a much narrower, smaller piece that is kind of about what they`re calling hard infrastructure, roads and bridges primarily. And it`s got a few other things in there. But there are a lot of people who actually believe that some of the provisions in that bill are going to be negative for the carbon emissions net effect and they`re actually going to hurt us on climate change.

Now, some people say it`s got the good, the bad, and the missing, right? It`s too small it doesn`t do enough, and it`s got some bad stuff. But yes, there`s some good stuff in there and we all need roads and bridges and you know, we want to get some of that done. But they took all of the really important stuff and they put it in this much bigger Build Back Better Act.

Now, what does that have in it? That has (AUDIO GAP) paid leave. It has taking on climate change with real standards that would bring down emissions and get us to the goals that the president has laid out. It has housing to unhouse -- to house the houseless. It has healthcare, Medicare expansion, among other people (AUDIO GAP).

HAYES: Go ahead. Oh no. You -- oh, I just lost you.

JAYAPAL: Can you hear me there?

HAYES: Now, I got you. You`re back.

JAYAPAL: OK, so hopefully, you heard me talk about everything that`s being --

HAYES: Yes. You got -- you got to Medicare. I`m glad that we`re recreating the daily nightmare experience of everyone`s lives over the last year and a half here on our TV show, but I did -- yes, I did hear you get to Medicare.

JAYAPAL: OK, great. So, those -- now, here`s the two bills. One is a small bill and it`s bipartisan. It`s the easiest stuff to do. And then there`s another bill that has the majority of the Democratic agenda in there. They took five months to negotiate that build -- that infrastructure bill, that smaller bill. And now, we need to get this build-back better agenda done.

So, the only way that that bipartisan bill was going to pass the Senate is because 11 progressive Senators, including the one that you just had on, our friend Elizabeth Warren voted for the bipartisan bill under the promise and the commitment that if they passed that bill in the Senate, that the House would first finish the reconciliation bill. And then once that`s voted on, then we would pass the bipartisan bill.

That was the position that the progressive caucus took almost three and a half months ago because many of our members frankly, if they just had to vote on the bipartisan bill, don`t think it`s a very good bill. It was negotiated by a very small group of senators. We were never consulted on it. We don`t think it does enough. And there are a lot of people that don`t want to vote for it.

But because we`re all adults in the room and we all play on the team called the Democratic Party, we said every single one of our progressive members would vote for that bipartisan infrastructure bill as long as they stuck to the promise and the commitment of passing the reconciliation bill first -- the Build Back Better Act first.

And then suddenly out of nowhere, Chris, in comes a few people, four percent of all of the Democrats in the House and the Senate and they said we`re not going to stick to the original agreement, we`re just going to pass the infrastructure bill, and then we`ll see what happens.

Well, progressive said, not so fast. We are going to make sure we deliver the entirety of the President`s agenda because guess what, 96 percent of Democrats in the House and the Senate agree that that`s the right thing to do. The president agrees. 70 percent of the American people agree and we need to deliver that transformative --

HAYES: All right, so, I`m with you on all that. I get that, OK. I think -- and I don`t think you`re wrong on anything you said they`re factually in terms of the reason the politics. Like, it is the case there is tremendous Democratic consensus for this. There are the votes in the House. There`s 48 votes in the Senate. President Biden wants to sign it, right?

So -- but the problem is there`s 48 you and you need 50, right? That`s the issue.


HAYES: And I think -- and I`ve heard what you`ve been saying. So, the question is how to get to 50, right? And I just want to ask this question which is, do you think that saying we`re not going to vote for this bipartisan infrastructure bill is tangibly improving the prospects of getting to 50? Do you see what I`m saying? Because I`m just not clear that it is.

And again, I think people understand where I`m coming from. Like, I`m rooting for you guys basically. I mean, I support that legislation. I think it`s good. I`d vote for it in Congress. The question is what is it doing actually at a time when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said like trust is needed that everyone needs to get together is the -- we`re not going to vote for this thing tomorrow until you pass it. Like, what work is that doing and is it counterproductive?

JAYAPAL: Well, let`s just be clear on who did what first. It`s kind of important here because the commitment was that the reconciliation bill would pass first, and then all of a sudden that was changed. And so, here`s what I`m past trust because there were things that were promised that didn`t happen. And frankly, Chris, that`s happened a lot. It happened in the ACA fight. It`s happened throughout. Progressives often get rolled.

But in this particular case, this is the president`s agenda. It`s not some crazy left-wing agenda wish list. It is actually the President`s agenda. And so, if we were to pass the bipartisan bill, what I would say to people across the country is you saw perhaps Joe Manchin`s statement today on how far he is from the Build Back Better agenda. We are at the end of September. Nothing happens on Capitol Hill of any importance that isn`t must pass once you get to say November. Certainly, nothing happens next year because it`s an election year.

And so, the reality of the situation is if we pass the bipartisan bill, all of a sudden we essentially delay the reconciliation bill. And as Rachel Maddow said the other night, delay is death on Capitol Hill. And so, that is the decision that we had to take, and we took it with seriousness of purpose, that we promised voters across the country to deliver on these important things.

And we are not going to leave behind women, communities suffering from climate change. We are not going to leave behind immigrants. We`re not going to leave behind all of these groups that actually were the ones who came out and delivered for us. Because the problem in American democracy today is that people have lost faith in us, in government, that we actually will fight for working people and not just what`s easy but actually fight to give transformative change and opportunity to people across this country.

And so, that`s what we`re going to do and we`ll believe that it actually will force people back to negotiating table and make sure that we deliver both pieces.


HAYES: All right, so there -- this vote is slated tomorrow. There`s no way it`s going to -- Pelosi is not going to bring the floor if it`s going to go down. A very eventful what, 16 hours ahead of us. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, come back again and keep us updated on this. I appreciate it.

JAYAPAL: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: All right, there`s even more breaking news tonight out of Congress. We have brand new subpoenas, a whole crop of them, from the January 6 Committee that give an interesting window into where this investigation is headed. What we know after this.


HAYES: Just a little before we came on air, we got a second round of subpoenas from the House committee investigating January 6. They have been issued for 11 Trump world associates involved in the events and the rallies leading up to the insurrection including that infamous rally where Donald Trump riled up the supporters and invited them down to the Capitol right before they stormed the Capitol.


HAYES: The committee is seeking documents and testimony from nearly a dozen people close to the Trump campaign, as well as the pro-Trump group Women for America First, which organized the January 6th rally.

Lawmakers also want materials dealing with the planning, funding and participation, the events and bus tours, social media activity of associated entities and communications with or involvement of Trump administration officials and lawmakers.

One of the subpoenas was issued to Katrina Pierson. She was the national spokesperson for the Trump 2016 campaign, the first time he ran. And the committee says she was in contact with the White House about events and rallies proceeding the insurrection in 2021.

Specifically, according to the subpoena issued to Pierson, Pierson met with then-President Trump himself in the Oval Office on January 4th.

Betsy Woodruff Swan is a National Correspondent at Politico where she has reported extensively on the fallout from the January 6th insurrection, and she joins me now.

Betsy, there`s 11 folks who got these, this is the second tranche of subpoenas. How would you characterize this group? What does it say about where the investigation is headed?

BETSY WOODRUFF SWAN, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: This is the January 6th ellipse rally crew. It`s the people who ran the Stop the Steal event that the president spoke at and which and from which protesters moved to the Capitol and attacked the Capitol.

These people are the connective tissue between Trump himself and the crowd that subsequently had, you know, numerous, numerous members break into the Capitol and participate in that insurrection.

It`s the Stop the Steal crew, I sort of jokingly think of them as the Steal stoppers from a wide variety of different parts of the conservative and far-right media ecosystem, some folks who are very high profile.

Katrina Pierson is probably the biggest name on this list. She was the top spokesperson for Trump`s first presidential campaign.

And then, there`s some interesting inclusions, one person who received a subpoena is the head of a company called RMS Protective Services. Company I was not familiar with. I follow this stuff closely.

What the subpoena said is that it basically indicates that his company appeared to somehow be providing security at the January 6th rally, at least that`s my read of the subpoena. So, I`ll be very interested to see what they specifically ask that person, if they`re curious if any of his workers there might have overheard stuff in the greenroom that we otherwise might not have known about.

HAYES: One of the other names on there, which I was like, oh, wait, is that and it is, Maggie Mulvaney. She`s the niece of Mick Mulvaney. This is -- I`m going to read here from the subpoena.

According to press reports, those working with you and Women for America First organized the January 6th rally collectively communicated with President Trump White House officials, including Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and others about the rally and other events planned to coincide with the certification of the 2020 Electoral College results.

I follow this very closely too, and I had not known she was a character in this.

SWAN: It`s a lot of characters to stay on top of. And that`s one of the things that`s making this Select Committee investigation so interesting. Maggie Mulvaney, there`s also a person by that name with a LinkedIn profile that tracks with her career who`s now listed as a Republican congressional staffer. It seems safe to surmise that we`re talking about the same person and the legislative database as it shows there`s a Republican congressional staffer named Maggie Mulvaney. I think it`s all but certain these are the same persons.

If so, it would be pretty notable that Congress has issued a subpoena to somebody who works for Congress. So that`s something that we`re keeping an eye on running out, running down and reaching out to the office that employs that -- that employs the person named Maggie Mulvaney.

HAYES: Here`s the key factual question that I don`t think is answered and that this points towards, right? So, we know that A happened and then, B happened, right?

A was the rally, that that was organized by a bunch of groups, that a bunch of people were brought to the Capitol, that the president went and spoke to them, right?

We know the president said go down to the Capitol. Because we have him on tape saying that, and then we know a bunch of those people went down to the Capitol and broke into the Capitol and did things like hang Mike -- you know, chant hang Mike Pence and assault cops.

The factual question is like, when they were planning the rally, was that the plan, right? Was it the plan to -- for those events to flow in precisely that order?

And I don`t think that`s factually answered, but it strikes me that getting at the rally organizers as part of getting to the bottom of that.

SWAN: No question. The obvious question that I`m sure the select committee investigators will ask is, what did you think was going to happen?

HAYES: Right.

SWAN: What did these people expect was going to be step two, three, four after you bring a massive group of people into D.C., you get them really riled up with speeches that are incredibly incendiary. And then, you say, let`s all go to the Capitol.


SWAN: Because the fact is, these people were not working toward a political solution for the grievances that they had.

HAYES: Correct.

SWAN: They were -- they were trying to use these heavy handed and frankly, as they became illegal tactics to stop a lawful process from playing out.

And so, the question is, were people thinking about the fact that these tactics were the tactics that they were? Were they thinking about it? Were they talking about it? What did they expect to happen? Was there -- was there any conversation whatsoever along that front? Obvious questions that I hope will get answered.

HAYES: Yes, it`s a really -- it`s a big sort of black box right now that stuff and I do want answers to that as I know you do too. Betsy Woodruff Swan, thank you very much.

SWAN: Thank you.

HAYES: This week, we released a really unique new episode of my podcast Why is this happening? In it, author Eyal Press, who`s just a phenomenal writer and journalist talks about who carries out some of the society`s most ethically troubling work? Or as he puts it, who sleeps well at night, and who doesn`t?

It`s a fascinating exploration of the types of jobs that we don`t tend to or don`t want to think about and why. I hope you check it out.

Up next, despite the cries of tyranny and calls from mass resignations, new evidence that vaccine requirements work, they work. We will show you, next.



HAYES: It`s becoming more and more clear every day that vaccine mandates are working in this country to encourage the minority of people -- small minority and shrinking who are still hesitant to get the shot.

But many of those on the right like Republican Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida are crying tyranny and still looking for any excuse to rail against COVID safety measures.

DeSantis whose seat has suffered one of the most brutal outbreaks in the U.S. has recently found a new Boogeyman to scare Americans away from trying to keep themselves healthy and alive. I have to say, this one took me a little by surprise.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): You guys, look what`s going on in Australia right now. You know, they`re forcing after a year and a half, they`re still enforcing lockdowns by the military and that`s not a free country. It`s not a free country at all.

In fact, I mean, I -- you know, I wonder why we would still, you know, have the same diplomatic relations when they`re doing that.

I mean, is Australia freer than China, Communist China right now? I don`t know. The fact that that`s even a question tells you something has gone dramatically off the rails.


HAYES: Actually, I know this one, it is freer than China at this point. It`s not really a question.

First of all, China has literal internment camps where they have forcibly detained up to a million and a half people solely because of their religion and ethnicity, according to United Nations.

But Ron DeSantis is railing against this Democratic country of Australia, our ally, because he`s, you know, thrown out the red meat catering to a certain anti-public health, anti-Dr. Fauci sentiment on the right.

And that a faction has decided recently that Australia is the dystopian vision of COVID inspired tyranny that Democrats want to bring here to the U.S.

Now, let me say this, there`s a little speck, a kernel of truth there. Australia has been way way stricter about how they have handled the COVID than anywhere in this country from the very beginning.

Starting in March of last year, they closed their borders to everyone but citizens or residents. Anyone allowed to return the country from elsewhere had to spend two weeks in lockdown in the hotel and I mean, like alone in a room with no visitors, security guards in the hallways and all meals brought to your door kind of locked down.

Domestic travel restrictions were put in place, meaning you couldn`t go from one place to the other. Nearly all businesses were closed, and Australians were required to stay home except for essential purposes, punishable by fines or even jail time.

A 21-year-old man in New South Wales was fined $1,000 when he was spotted eating a kebab on a bench after ignoring two warnings by police.

A 32-year-old woman and a 27-year-old man were fined for sitting in their car without a reasonable excuse not to be at home.

A man was sent to jail for sneaking out to a hotel to visit his girlfriend, breaking his mandatory 14-day quarantine after he flew from the eastern side of the country to the west.

Now, here in the U.S., we never had anything close to that. I mean, honestly, there was no real enforcement of any of the so-called lockdowns that we had. I mean, there were in terms of closing the businesses.

But even in the midst of the worst days, the pandemic, you could just get in your car and drive across several state lines to see your loved ones if you want to do, no one would stop you.

Heck, if you showed up at the airport at JFK in New York City, no one would check where you were going or what you were doing just, you know, come on in.

But of course, Australia also had a lot more success suppressing the virus last year than we did. This is what Sydney looked like last winter.

While we were suffering from the worst wave the pandemic, Australians were back in restaurants, bars and shops. They had essentially eliminated COVID from their island continent.

And then, the Delta variant hit the summer and much of Australia plunged back into severe lockdown.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Almost half of Australia is back in lockdown as multiple COVID outbreaks grow across the country. Queensland has become the latest state to impose stay at home orders on four million residents. Nearly six million people in Sydney and its surrounding regions are in the midst of a two-week lockdown after the Delta strain led to 149 cases.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The streets of Sydney are almost deserted now. New COVID outbreaks forcing many more Australians into lockdown than last year.

Internal state borders have been shut, while international travel has been more or less banned for well over a year.


HAYES: You hear that part where she said the lockdowns were precipitated by 139 new cases. More than five million people in Sydney have now been in lockdown for more than two months, the border is still closed, Australian citizens still need permission to leave or enter their own country.


HAYES: This week, authorities now in Sydney will finally start coming out of lockdown next month as vaccination rates hit 70 percent and above.

Now, Australia has been a bit slow on vaccinations but get this, they will now likely pass us in the U.S. very shortly.

Again, they have been using extremely coercive methods against the virus. Way more coercive and heavy handed than anything that`s been deployed in any state or locality here in the U.S. Democrat Republican whatever.

So, on that point, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis isn`t wrong, Australia`s lockdown, in fact, highlights that for all the complaining on the right, the Live Free or Die revolution they were cosplaying and the people yelling at school boards about masks and screaming, we know where you live.

Our response has been pretty light touch. In fact, it makes all this fulminating around tyranny sound a bit ridiculous.

Ron DeSantis is also correct that Australia chose a different path than Florida, or anywhere else in the U.S.

And yes, certain freedoms have been curtailed there. But it`s worth asking, like, what kind of results have they gotten? How have they actually done against COVID?

Well, it turns out Australia has roughly the same population as Florida. So, that makes for a useful comparison, Florida`s got about 21.5 million people, Australia has nearly 26 million people.

And over the entire course of this pandemic, since last March, 1,256 people died from COVID in Australia. Florida surpassed the entire pandemic death toll of Australia in just one week at the height of the Delta outbreak.

Over the same period of time, Florida had 54,000 deaths. Now, adjusted for population, that would be more than 64,000 deaths in Australia.

It`s not crazy to say that there are 63,000 Aussies with friends and families and lives and dreams. Just like you and me, engaged in all sorts of social and spiritual and economic activity. Folks who are alive today walking around right now, who would not be if they lived in Florida, who would be dead? And that`s just one state. Our country`s lost nearly 700,000 people.

And yes, there are some tradeoffs at the extremes between freedom and public health measures, there are, unavoidably. And yes, it is the job of policymakers to make those very difficult calls and decide between those two extremes informed by the science.

But it is also case that for all the hysterical, whining, whining about tyranny, the Biden administration has been I think, balancing those competing imperative pretty well.

Just look at their big new policy, this is the one Republicans are still up in arms about, they`ve turned it into fundraising gold mine and a candidate for Senate is comparing it to the literal Gestapo.

It`s a vaccine requirement for healthcare workers, a vaccine requirement for federal workers and a vaccine requirement for large employers of over 100 people, which you can opt out of by taking a test a week.

Again, compare that to getting fined if you leave your house for a kebab or arrested if you break quarantine to visit your girlfriend.

This is the balance the Biden administration has chosen between public health and liberty and guess what? It`s working. We`re getting evidence from places that have already started implementing vaccine mandates, and they are showing that relatively light coercions producing results.

United Airlines announced this week and less than one percent -- less than one percent of their 67,000 person workforce did not comply with their mandate.

Trinity Health, one of the first major hospital chains to announce a vaccine mandate. So, the percentage of its vaccinated staff has increased from 75 percent to 94 percent.

Since Tyson Foods announced its vaccine mandate last month, its vaccination rate has gone from 50 percent, oh, my Lord, to 80 percent with the deadline still more than a month away.

We are never going to get back the people we`ve lost, the 700,000 lives we have lost. That`s what`s so brutal and enraging about the policy mistakes in America has made at all sorts of levels. We cannot do them. They`re permanent.

We can act in smart ways in form (PH) by our liberty and our freedom and our traditions to protect other people, to protect our fellow Americans from meeting the same thing.

And right now, that`s what the Biden administration is doing.



HAYES: Kathleen Sebelius came to national attention nearly 20 years ago as the Democratic governor of a very red state Kansas. President Obama would then appoint her to be his first Secretary of Health and Human Services. She was sworn in amidst the swine flu outbreak of 2009.

So, if we talk about the balance between liberty and suppressing the virus and the right-wing backlash to President Biden`s vaccine requirements, Kathleen Sebelius has seen a thing or two and I`m happy to be joined by her now.

I want to start on this first point, which is that policy and all these cases are amount to judgment calls made by elected representatives invested with Democratic authority by the people. That can`t just be the science. Like, they`re built on the science, but there are tradeoffs, and there are calls that policymakers are going to have to make in all these situations.

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, FORMER GOVERNOR OF KANSAS: You bet Chris. First, it`s good to be with you and you`re absolutely right. But I think the fundamental job that any elected official, particularly somebody in an executive branch agency and governor or president, a mayor looks at is safety and security of the constituents he or she serves, that`s primary. Then, the economy, then, other things.

But protecting the people who you`re elected to serve is really fundamental and you use all the resources possible.

I think what President Biden has done is balance between what the science says and trying to cajole, encourage, making it easy for people to follow the science.

And when that turned out not to be as effective, then he turned to more hardened mandates. But what people don`t have a right to do is make other people sick, put other people in jeopardy, risk other people`s lives, risk children`s lives.


SEBELIUS: And so, I think the president has been walking a line of balancing science and safety and security at every step along the way, hoping that the vast majority the American public would follow that lead.

HAYES: I mean, I think you even see it in this -- in these employers over a hundred employees policy. You know, it`s done through OSHA, very well established statutory authority, of course, makes sense, since it is a workplace safety issue if ever there was one.

But also, that there is this option, I mean, you know, this idea of like, you`re going to make me put something in my body. In this case, these people can go get tested once a week. Is that a pain? Yes. But it helps keep people safe.

And I think even having that shows to me the degree to which policymakers in this country broadly and up to the White House, including the president, are really thinking about this question about coercion. This question about choices. This question about America`s fidelity to its cherished liberties and freedoms.

SEBELIUS: Well, I think you`re right. And, you know, to me, it`s a lot like secondhand smoke. You have a right to be a smoker. The science is very clear what smoking will do to you, what cancer will be caused, what kinds of health conditions. You have a right to be a smoker, what you don`t have a right to do is smoke next to my desk, to blow smoke on me, blow smoke on my children, to force me to live in a housing facility where I am subjected to more smoke. That`s a line that we finally have in this country that delineates what your individual rights are and what you have a right to do to make me sick and make my kids sick.

So, I think we`re looking at very much the same situation. OSHA, you`re absolutely right, has always provided guidance and mandates about safety in a workplace and this is not a safe workplace if I`m working side by side with somebody who refuses to be vaccinated, who`s not wearing a mask, will not be tested. Back then (PH), make me sick, make my family sick, and that is not acceptable.

HAYES: I`m glad you brought up smoking. I think it`s a really good historical precedent analogy. I was actually just looking at a statistics today, we`re getting to all-time lows in the percentage of Americans who smoke, we`re getting to all-time lows in the number of individual cons -- pack of cigarettes consumed a year and all-time lows of teen smoking. All this is just a huge triumph of public health.

But it was combination of regulation, litigation, coercion, persuasion, social shaming, elite consensus, all the things that were throwing at the vaccine problem in some ways now, and it`s been a huge success.

And you would have to be -- I mean, there were people that complain at every step and you have to be a nihilistic sociopath to say, well, man, I wish we could go back to everyone lighten up on planes. Like, obviously, it`s better if we`re not doing that.

SEBELIUS: You bet. I remember in the days, I`m old enough to remember when the non-smoking or the smoking section of the plane was at the back of the plane. And all they did is out there smoking. Came forward, it was like, oh, this is a brilliant strategy.

And people suggesting that if restaurants had nonsmoking in the restaurant, nobody would go out to eat anymore. If bars wouldn`t allow smoking, nobody would drink anymore. None of that has kind of that has come to pass.

HAYES: That`s a great point.

SEBELIUS: And actually, we have a whole lot of people alive today who would be dead if they not just chose not to smoke themselves but were subjected to secondhand smoke.

HAYES: Quickly, here`s the polling for DeSantis and also Greg Abbott who`s taken a very similar approach and they have gotten somewhat similar results in Texas and Florida, though.

Florida had a really bad outbreak, one of the worst. I mean, we have seen a decline in their approval ratings since Delta hit but it is also amazing to me how death on the scale that we`re dealing with doesn`t seem to have the political impact. But if you`d asked me if it would a year or two ago, I would have said (PH).

SEBELIUS: Well, unfortunately, Chris, I think we`re seeing a situation where I know a lot of people, I hear it every day, where people look at those death statistics which are horrifying, almost 700,000 of our fellow Americans have died and they don`t believe it. This is part of fake news.

So, (INAUDIBLE) until it`s your family member, your child, your relative, your grandfather, your whatever, people are saying people are making those up. Doctors and nurses are making them up. We`re inflating the numbers and that`s just a fortunate ongoing part of this.

But for a governor of a state to say it`s OK to lose as many people every day as Australia has lost to the entire pandemic, shame on him. Shame on him.

HAYES: Kathleen Sebelius, always good to get a chance to talk to you. Thank you so much for your time tonight.

SEBELIUS: Nice to talk to you.

HAYES: That is ALL IN on this Wednesday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.