On this “Face the Nation” broadcast moderated by John Dickerson:
- Mark Meadows, White House Chief of Staff
- Rep. James Clyburn, Majority Whip, D-South Carolina
- Neel Kashkari, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
- Vanita Gupta, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
- Anthony Salvanto, CBS News Elections and Surveys Director
- Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Former FDA Commissioner
Click here to browse full transcripts of “Face the Nation.”
JOHN DICKERSON: I’m John Dickerson. This week on FACE THE NATION, coronavirus deaths and infections continue to rise in the U.S. as July marks the worst month for new cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Socially distance, wear a mask when you cannot avoid the crowded places.
JOHN DICKERSON: President Trump returned to form this week with a series of mixed messages, at times communicating the seriousness of the virus; at others, downplaying it. With a hurricane bearing down on Florida, and a streak of rising COVID deaths in the state–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody.
JOHN DICKERSON: –he held an event in Tampa that didn’t follow his own guidelines. There was no social distancing and few masks. The President also questioned the integrity of the election, suggesting it be delayed and attacked mail-in voting as polls show him trailing Joe Biden.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Maybe you’ll never know the election result. And that’s what I’m concerned with. It’ll be fixed. It’ll be rigged.
JOHN DICKERSON: Meanwhile, talks between the White House and Congress on extending the aid broke down, leaving millions without unemployment support while the economy posted its worst growth numbers ever recorded.
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: This is not a usual discussion because the urgency is so great.
JOHN DICKERSON: This morning, there is still no deal. We’ll get the President’s perspective from his chief of staff, Mark Meadows. Also, House Democratic Whip James Clyburn weighs in on a potential compromise. We’ll ask Minneapolis Federal Reserve president Neel Kashkari, can the U.S. economy recover while the pandemic rages? And we’ll get the latest on the virus from former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. Plus, as the country says goodbye to John Lewis, a renewed call to protect the right to vote. Joining us, former head of DOJ’s civil rights division Vanita Gupta. And our latest Battleground Tracker from two states President Trump won in 2016, where the COVID crisis is impacting his reelection.
It’s all ahead on FACE THE NATION.
Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. Margaret is off this week. Six months into the pandemic, the coronavirus is only getting worse. In July alone, nearly two million cases were reported in the U.S., which is over a million more than the previous record set during the month of April. And as we head into August, deaths are increasing in sixteen states. Complicating the response is a tropical storm that’s off the coast of Florida this morning. Our coverage begins with CBS News national correspondent Mark Strassmann in Atlanta.
MARK STRASSMANN (CBS News National Correspondent): The virus and the storm sounds like cheap fiction. But this weekend, both threats stalked states like Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, and up to Virginia, arising storm offshore, rising COVID rates inland. Isaias forced many Florida testing sites to close. North Carolina evacuees were warned to avoid shelters, too risky.
GOVERNOR ROY COOPER (D-North Carolina): We can keep people safe from the storm while at the same time trying to avoid making the pandemic worse.
MARK STRASSMANN: COVID keeps mocking its deniers and menacing America. With the virus dug in, and cases ballooning, brace yourself for another rough week. In cities like Houston, COVID is out of control.
SYLVESTER TURNER (Mayor of Houston): In the last three days, the last three days, more people have been reported testing positive than in the entire month of May combined.
MARK STRASSMANN: Cases are on the rise in twenty-eight states and Washington, DC. California became the first state to top a half million cases. Nationally, the virus has killed more than one thousand people for six straight days. By August 22nd, the CDC predicts the weekly death toll could reach eleven thousand. Jefferson City, Georgia, went back to school on Friday. Masks are recommended, not mandatory.
MAN: Now you guys remember what all the rules are, right? And– and they said– they said, wear a mask, wash your hands all the time.
MARK STRASSMANN: School has already begun in five states, with mostly virtual classrooms. But many parents demand to have the choice, despite this virus still in search of a vaccine.
SYLVESTER TURNER: There is no way under the sun I would allow even my child to go to a school if these numbers are the same or greater in– by the end of August.
MARK STRASSMANN: Colleges hemorrhaging money face the same dilemma. At USC, fall semester doesn’t start for three weeks, but at least forty people have already tested positive on fraternity row.
WOMAN: It just took one person and the next thing, you know, like, everyone had it.
MARK STRASSMANN: America is starving for distractions. Baseball’s back, but for how long? Here in Atlanta, the Braves play the Mets this afternoon, but COVID outbreaks have postponed three other Sunday games. So far more than one hundred players have tested positive. Barely a week after baseball’s shrunken season began, its commissioner, alarmed, is already threatening to shut it down. John.
JOHN DICKERSON: Mark Strassmann, thank you.
The total number of COVID-19 cases worldwide stands at 17.8 million with the highest case totals outside the U.S., in Brazil, India, and Russia. CBS News senior foreign correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports from London. Liz.
ELIZABETH PALMER (CBS News Senior Foreign Correspondent/@CBSLizpalmer): Good morning. It’s now six months since the World Health Organization declared coronavirus a global emergency. And back then, very few people had any idea just how virulent it was going to be.
ELIZABETH PALMER: In Southern Australia, authorities declared a state of disaster this weekend after a big spike in cases. For the people of Melbourne, it’s back to strict lockdown and an 8:00 PM curfew. And there are setbacks in Britain, too.
BORIS JOHNSON: Our assessment is that we should now squeeze that brake pedal. Squeeze that brake pedal in order to keep the virus under control.
ELIZABETH PALMER: So millions in Northern Europe who had been getting back to something like normal are facing fresh restrictions. Across Europe with an uptick in infections, mask-wearing is now strictly enforced even at the beach. French and German officials are so worried they have started free COVID testing at airports. While in Berlin, a huge right-wing crowd, fed up with all the restrictions, marched in protest. But Europe’s infection rate, about eight thousand new cases a day, is dwarfed by the disaster unfolding in India. Fifty thousand new cases a day, especially in poor and overcrowded slums, which puts India on course to overtake the United States as having the worst outbreak on Earth. South Africa is facing a crisis, too, with three times as many COVID deaths as it had a month ago. And in a radical concession to COVID, Saudi Arabia has cut the number of pilgrims journeying to Mecca in this year’s Hajj from two million to a scant and social distanced ten thousand.
ELIZABETH PALMER: These recent upticks in Europe followed broad loosening of the restrictions, and public health officials think that people just stopped being careful enough. John.
JOHN DICKERSON: Liz Palmer in London. Thanks, Liz.
We want to go now to White House Chief of staff Mark Meadows, who is in Washington. Good morning, Mister Meadows.
MARK MEADOWS (White House Chief of Staff/@MarkMeadows): Good morning, John. Great to be with you.
JOHN DICKERSON: Well, thank you for being here. I want to start with the state of discussions on that aid package. Yesterday, Senator Schumer, the Democratic leader, said it was the best discussions we’ve had so far. Would you put it that way?
MARK MEADOWS: Well, I would characterize it that way, but we still have a long ways to go. I– I can tell you that we spent the last three days, actually last four days, trying to get to some kind of consensus, at least to start negotiating. Yesterday was a step in the right direction. Our staffs are actually working today. We’ll be meeting again tomorrow. But I’m not optimistic that there will be a solution in the very near term. And– and that’s why I think the effort that Senator Martha McSally led on the Senate floor to extend the enhanced unemployment was the right move. And, yet,Senator Schumer and his Democratic colleagues blocked that.
JOHN DICKERSON: Well, there’s also, of course, been some heartburn among Republicans who see an extension of a larger number being a strain on the deficit, so my question to you is–
MARK MEADOWS: Yeah, but– but I would, John, I would recommend when that came to the Senate floor, there was not a single Republican that voted against that. It was only the Democrats that voted against that. So, I think it’s important for your viewers to understand that if– if you have unemployed people that have lost their enhanced unemployment, they need to call their Democrat senators and House members because they are the ones that are standing in the way of having those extended right now.
JOHN DICKERSON: But there was also obviously considerable debate among Republicans on the size of that benefit that made some people think the Republicans couldn’t even get a majority of their own votes. But let’s talk about the sticking points now. What are they? And is there any chance to get an extension on those important unemployment benefits and then deal with the bigger set of issues later?
MARK MEADOWS: Well, I think the Republicans are ready, and I know the President is ready to do exactly what you’re talking about. If we want to extend some of the enhanced unemployment benefits while we negotiate a broader package, I know that Secretary Mnuchin and myself have communicated that to our Democratic colleagues. I know the President has been very clear in making sure that not only we’re willing to address that, but there is enough money to make sure that we address the needs that are out there. And,yet, we continue to see really a stonewalling of any piecemeal type of legislation that happens on Capitol Hill. Hopefully that will change in the coming days.
JOHN DICKERSON: We have Congressman Clyburn, leader of the Democrats, or in the leadership of the Democrats in the House on later in the show. What would you ask him if you were to ask him a question?
MARK MEADOWS: Well, I would– I would ask him, I think the proper question is, is are you willing to encourage Speaker Pelosi to look at doing a standalone bill for enhanced unemployment and bringing that to the floor and encouraging her Senate colleagues to do the same? Because I can tell you, it’s the only thing in that we’ve run out of money. We actually have 1.4 trillion dollars. That’s trillion with a T of money left still to invest. We have over a hundred billion available for state and local. We have over a hundred billion for small businesses to tap into still today. And we have over nine billion dollars still available for testing. The one area where we don’t have the money is for enhanced unemployment benefits. And so I would ask him that question–
JOHN DICKERSON: All right.
MARK MEADOWS: –will he encourage the speaker to– to address that?
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me– let me ask you about the COVID numbers. This week we’re seven months into this pandemic. The numbers reached a hundred and fifty thousand deaths. When– when we look at what the President says this week, he seems to be rowing in the oppositedirection of his health experts. He’s criticizing and contradicting Doctor Fauci on Twitter. The President is talking about hydrochloroquine (sic). None of his public health officials are talking about that issue, and, yet, they’re trying to get a message out into the country. Who has a better megaphone than the President? Why is his message on this so different than what his public health officials? Shouldn’t they be in line?
MARK MEADOWS: Well, I don’t think that they’re different than the public health officials, and I’ll address the thing with Doctor Fauci here in just a second. But I can tell you, the President has been very serious. He’s gone back to daily briefings to try to keep the American people informed. I think, in fact, it was his words, not mine, that suggested that, you know, there are some critical days ahead, some very concerning days ahead as we continue to test more and more. But when you mentioned Doctor Fauci I think his– his pushback on that was where Doctor Fauci talked about fifty percent shut down versus ninety-five. There is no data that would suggest that’s– that’s correct. In fact, I would say there’s data just the opposite of that.
JOHN DICKERSON: Well–
MARK MEADOWS: When we shut down– when we shut down, we actually shut down more than fifty percent of– of the country to try to contain that.
JOHN DICKERSON: But Mister–
MARK MEADOWS: Here’s what we do know– here’s what we do know. We continue to test more than any country in the world. In fact–
JOHN DICKERSON: But here is the point.
MARK MEADOWS: –we test more than the eight countries below us and– and trying to do that. So here’s what we have to do.
JOHN DICKERSON: But– but, Mister Meadows, here’s the point. Testing is important. Testing has to take place. The President being in a debate with Doctor Fauci doesn’t get people focused on what you listen to all of his public health experts saying on all the other channels. The President’s got his channel. On the other channels you have health officials telling people wear masks.
MARK MEADOWS: Well, I– John–
JOHN DICKERSON: You’ve got people–
MARK MEADOWS: –John, I’m– I’m here with you– I’m– I’mhere with you this morning–
JOHN DICKERSON: I know, but the President–
MARK MEADOWS: –talking to your viewers, to talk about the facts. And the facts are this, is– as we continue to test, we’re continue to look at– at areas that we need to be concerned about, nursing homes, long-term care, those that have three comorbidities. We need to make sure that we focus there. We’re finding more and more asymptomatic people. But the–the real result is we’re not going to test our way out of this. We’ve got to get a therapeutic; we’ve got to make sure–
JOHN DICKERSON: But Mister Meadows–
MARK MEADOWS: –that we have a treatment and we are making great progress.
JOHN DICKERSON: But there has no– there is no better megaphone in the country than the President. And the things he’s concerned about don’t seem to be the same things his public health officials are concerned about. In a war, if this is a war as the President says, to have the Commander-in-Chief on a different channel than his generals seems to me to be a bad idea. Let me ask you this question–
MARK MEADOWS: Well, John, I don’t agree with your characterization there. I can tell you that that daily, in fact, many times, multiple times a day, he is checking in with not only the doctors, but myself and others. What are we doing with therapeutics? We’ve got to give hope to the American people. Hopefully, we will– we will be able to not only have a vaccine, but have therapeutics for those who get this where–where it’s not a death sentence. And we’re making great progress. So we’ve already seen that with convalescent plasma.
JOHN DICKERSON: All right.
MARK MEADOWS: Hopefully some good announcement in the coming days there.
JOHN DICKERSON: All right. We’ll move on now to the next question. Did the President ask you or anybody in the administration to look into the idea of delaying the Election Day?
MARK MEADOWS: Listen all of this that we’re talking about comes down to one thing, universal mail-in ballots. That is not a good idea for the country. We don’t have to look any further than New York–
JOHN DICKERSON: But–
MARK MEADOWS: –to see what a debacle that mail-in ballots have been when we have weeks and weeks of delay of who the– the– the winner is. Can you imagine if that is with the President of the United States? So– and so as we look at this–
JOHN DICKERSON: So he didn’t?
MARK MEADOWS: So he– he has not looked at delaying any– any election. What we will do is if we try to transform this and start mailing in ballots all across the country, all fifty states, what we will see is a delay because they are just not equipped to handle it.
JOHN DICKERSON: Is it a responsible thing, Mister Meadows, is it responsible for the President to wing out an idea about delaying the election without looking into it?
MARK MEADOWS: Well, it was a question mark. And if we look at that–
JOHN DICKERSON: But he’s–
MARK MEADOWS: It is responsible for him– it is responsible for him to say that if we try to go to a hundred percent universal mail-in ballots, will we have an election result on November 3rd? No, I would suggest that we wouldn’t even have it on January 3rd.
JOHN DICKERSON: But– but Mister Meadows–
MARK MEADOWS: So we’ve got to make sure that we do this in a proper way, where we– we promote absentee ballots. We make sure that a ballot goes from an individual to the ballot box–
JOHN DICKERSON: All right.
MARK MEADOWS: –without someone else having the ability–
JOHN DICKERSON: But this is–
MARK MEADOWS: –to conduct a fraudulent effort.
JOHN DICKERSON: But we’re– we’re out of time, Mister Meadows, but this is no small thing. Steven Calabresi, the co-founder of the Federalist Society, which conservatives care a lot about, said this was grounds for impeachment. That’s no small–
MARK MEADOWS: Yeah.
JOHN DICKERSON: –thing for the President to suggest that. So, unfortunately, we’re– we’re out of time and we’re very grateful for you being here with us this morning.
MARK MEADOWS: Well, we’re going to hold an election on November 3rd and the President is going to win.
JOHN DICKERSON: Thanks so much for being with us, Mister Meadows. And we’ll be back–
MARK MEADOWS: Thank you.
JOHN DICKERSON: –in a moment.
JOHN DICKERSON: We turn now to House Majority Whip James Clyburn, he joins us from Santee, South Carolina. Good morning, Congressman.
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES CLYBURN (House Majority Whip/@WhipClyburn/D-South Carolina): Good morning. How are you?
JOHN DICKERSON: I am well, thanks. I want to bring up what I discussed with Mister Meadows this morning. I asked him what question he would ask you about getting this aid package put forward, and he said, your former colleague in Congress, he said, why won’t the Democrats in Congress agree to a short-term measure that– that brings back this unemployment assistance and then deal with those other issues later? What’s your answer?
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES CLYBURN: Well, I would ask them is short term one week, or is it six months or even ninety days? I really think we ought to quit jerking low-income people around. Let’s lay out some security in their lives, some stability in their lives. And if we were to talk about extending the UI or the six-hundred-dollar supplement to the UI for the next six months while we negotiate all these other issues, then that would be one thing. This one week, one week, two weeks, this jerking people around is not the way we ought to be conducting ourselves as custodians of this great democracy of ours.
JOHN DICKERSON: Right. But sometimes you can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. And wouldn’t it be good to get those people who’ve just been getting gut punch after gut punch, now don’t have the help that they– that they expected, why not give them– okay, it may not be perfect, give them a little something now while Congress works out the rest?
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES CLYBURN: Well, I just think that they are not doing any earnest negotiations here. I don’t know, I’m not in the rooms. So I don’t know if they’re taking the FBI building off the table. They had that in here. Did it take their business hundred percent deduction for business lunches off the table? I don’t know if they have done that. Have they put state or local support on the table? I don’t know. So it’s little bit difficult for me to say what is or is not what I would call earnest discussions, because I don’t know where those things are.
JOHN DICKERSON: The allegation is that the Democrats see themselves, they have the high hand here. The President’s numbers are bad and they are using the pain that people are feeling as leverage in these negotiations with Republicans.
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES CLYBURN: No, I think what Democrats are doing, trying to keep ordinary people in focus, people who we depended upon as so-called essential workers, that people seem not to think about– at least the Republicans. Why would you put a hundred percent deduction for business lunches in this plan? That tells you a little bit what they’re thinking about. And not do anything to try to protect state and local governments. I’m here in the little town of Santee, South Carolina. This mayor and this council cannot do business if they don’t get support from the federal government. And what will that do to the local banks around here? There’s a little back down the corner from city hall. Those banks are not going to have deposits if– if the city of Santee or the town of Santee does not have stability in this government. So we need to look at this holistically and stop developing silos within which to deal with people.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you is– it was your hearing where the President contradicted Doctor Fauci on the question of– of tests. And the President made you the subject of one of his tweets in which he said that some figures you put forward about the number of testing in America did not take into account the fact that America has more cases because it does more testing. What’s your response to the President?
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES CLYBURN: Well, I simply laid out the facts. The President has his opinions, and he is entitled to his opinions, but I laid out the facts. I put the chart up on the board to show what happened between the European countries and what happened here. And I believe very strongly that we do not have the kind of national leadership that we need from this White House. There needs to be one coordinated, concerted effort to bring our attention to this problem nationally. This piecemeal approach that we are having, Doctor Birx saying one thing. Doctor Fauci, who I believe in very much. Doctor Redfield, I– I really believe he is an earnest guy. Admiral Giroir, they were all very good. I don’t find myself in disagreement with any one of them, but they are talking about facts. And this President is putting forth a political agenda and will not have the information that they have got. They had a national plan back in March. They refused to go forward with it because they were told by political consultants that don’t worry about it because this thing is hanging out in New Jersey and New York and, those are blue states–
JOHN DICKERSON: Well–
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES CLYBURN: –those are not our states. But where is it now? It’s in Florida.
JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES CLYBURN: It’s in Texas, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, all red states.
JOHN DICKERSON: Well, the White House, obviously,strongly denies that– that allegation about allowing it only to happen in blue states. Let me ask you a question about your district. You used to teach public schools. If you were still a schoolteacher, would you go back into the classroom to teach students?
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES CLYBURN: Absolutely not, not until we have a national plan that every school district here in South Carolina ought to be coordinated. We can’t have children going to school when we have not laid out a plan for there to be social distancing, for there to be everybody requiring a mask. I saw where a school district down in Georgia, I believe, they are saying, well, you’ve got to have a mask on the bus but in the classroom is optional. Come on. That’s not the way to run this stuff.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me–
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES CLYBURN: We ought to have these superintendents and these teachers in these discussions informing those of us in Washington as to what’s best.
JOHN DICKERSON: But in the last thirty seconds we have, I know in Charleston, in the school district, they found that kids are hard to track when they’re not going to school and the kids aren’t getting the services they need to get to school. So that’s quite important, too, though, isn’t it?
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES CLYBURN: It is very important. That’s why I have been such a long-time proponent of having universal access to broadband. Everything that’s great about this country, and the internet is one of those great things, it ought to be accessible, ought to be affordable by everybody. That’s why rural communities where you got–
JOHN DICKERSON: Okay.
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES CLYBURN: –thirty-four, thirty-five percent internet adoption, that’s not good.
JOHN DICKERSON: Okay. All right.
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES CLYBURN: We ought to spend the money that’s necessary to build out a hundred percent of broadband.
JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Congressman Clyburn, we’re out of time. Thank you so much for being with us.
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES CLYBURN: Thanks for having me.
JOHN DICKERSON: And we’ll be right back with a lot more ofFACE THE NATION. Stay with us.
JOHN DICKERSON: Join us Tuesday when CBS honors John Lewis with a primetime special. John Lewis: Celebrating A Hero.
JOHN DICKERSON: And we’ll be right back with more FACE THE NATION.
JOHN DICKERSON: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We want to go now to Neel Kashkari, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and he is in Minneapolis this morning. Good morning.
NEEL KASHKARI (President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis/@neelkashkari): Good morning.
JOHN DICKERSON: I want to start with the question of the GDP numbers. They were awful in the last quarter. What did you see inside of those numbers?
NEEL KASHKARI: Well, the thing that surprised me the most,economically, we knew the GDP would be very low with twenty million Americans still out of work, you know, the economy is reeling. There’s one bright spot that I saw, though. The U.S. personal savings rate has taken off. Before the crisis, it was around eight percent. Now it’s around twenty percent. Now, let me tell you what’s going on. Those of us who are fortunate enough to still have our jobs, we’re saving a lot more money because we’re not going to restaurants or movie theaters or vacations. That actually means we have a lot more resources as a country to support those who’ve been laid off. And so while, historically, we would worry about racking up too much debt, we’re generating this savings ourselves. That means Congress has the resources to support those who are most hurting.
JOHN DICKERSON: So one of the things that Republicans have brought up when they talk about this aid bill and,particularly, the size of the unemployment benefit, is that it’s putting too much strain on the deficit. And so is your point that– that the private savings is a cushion against that strain? That’s the first part of the question. The second part is but won’t racking up debt, ultimately, be something we have to deal with in the long term?
NEEL KASHKARI: Well, right now, we’re generating so much more savings than we have before. It’s simply not an issue because we’re not having to go abroad to fund these extra– the extra money for the CARES Act or whatever is to come. So that provides a lot of relief right now. And if you look over the long term, our inflation has been very low. Inflation continues to be low. Inflation expectations continue to drift lower. Right now, the U.S. can fund itself at very, very low rates. Congress should use this opportunity to support the American people and the American economy. I’m not worried about it. We– if we get the economy growing, we will be able to pay off the debt.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me say, inside of this bill they’re debating on the six-hundred-dollar unemployment, weekly unemployment help, one of the Republican arguments is that at six hundred dollars there are some number of workers who were getting paid more than they would in a job and,therefore, they’re staying at home. Do you see any evidence in the data that supports public policy based on that idea?
NEEL KASHKARI: Well, not right now, not when twenty million people are out of work relative to February. There’s just so many fewer jobs than there are workers available. At some point, it’ll be an issue. When we get the unemployment rate eventually back down to five percent and we want to get it back down to four percent or three and a half where it was before, yes, that disincentive to work becomes material. But right now, it’s simply not a factor in the macroeconomy that we have in the U.S. because we have so many millions of Americans out of work.
JOHN DICKERSON: What is your view about the path back to economic health? There have been halting efforts to reopen and to get the economy going again. Are they going to continue being halting until there is a vaccine? When does robust behavior come back? And what is the central– how are people behaving when it does get more robust?
NEEL KASHKARI: Well, you’re right, it’s– it’s really the virus and our ability to control the virus, either through clamping back down, getting the case count down so that we can test and trace and keep this thing under control, or, eventually,getting a vaccine or a robust therapy. That’s the only way we’re really going to have a real robust economic recovery. Otherwise, we’re going to have flare-ups, lockdowns and a very halting recovery with many more job losses and many more bankruptcies for an extended period of time unfortunately.
JOHN DICKERSON: There’s no interest in the President– the President is not interested in locking things down again at all. In fact, he’s pushing in the other direction. So if that’s not going to happen, does that hurt the economy more? And are there losses that you can’t recoup in a recovery that might happen during that period of time?
NEEL KASHKARI: For sure. I mean if we were to lock down really hard, I know I hate to even suggest it. People will be frustrated by it. But if we were to lock down hard for a month or six weeks, we could get the case count down so that our testing and our contact tracing was actually enough to control it the way that it’s happening in the Northeast right now. They had a rocky start, but they’re doing a pretty good job right now. Now, if we don’t do that and we just have this raging virus spreading throughout the country with flare-ups and local lockdowns for the next year or two, which is entirely possible, we’re going to see many, many more business bankruptcies, small businesses, big businesses, and that’s going to take a lot of time to recover from to rebuild those businesses and then to bring workers back in and re-engage them in the workforce. That’s going to be a much slower recovery for all of us.
JOHN DICKERSON: What role does fear play in your assessment of people’s economic behavior? If two-thirds of the economy is driven by consumer behavior, how much is fear of just getting sick, what is at the center of this and,therefore, a virus question, than it is poking and pushing at supply and demand through legislation or some other matters?
NEEL KASHKARI: Oh, fear’s a huge factor. You can see this around the world. Some countries that didn’t lock down officially based on public policy had a similar economic response because their own citizens were afraid and they said, no, I’m not taking that risk. I’m going to shelter at home. And so we all– many of your viewers, the American people, are paying close attention to what’s happening to the virus. And you’re seeing a similar economic behavior around the country, regardless of local public policy. So fear is a huge driver, and that’s why they need to have confidence that they will be safe, their families will be safe, their kids will be safe. And until we have that real confidence, not just wishful thinking, but in the data, real evidence that it’s safe, we’re not going to have a meaningful economic recovery.
JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Neel Kashkari, thank you so much for being with us again, breaking down the economic numbers.
And we will be right back with the latest on the coronavirus and Doctor Scott Gottlieb.
JOHN DICKERSON: And we are back with former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who joins us from Westport, Connecticut. Good morning. I want to–
SCOTT GOTTLIEB, MD (Former FDA Commissioner/@ScottGottliebMD): Good morning.
JOHN DICKERSON: I want to start Doctor Gottlieb with–Doctor Anthony Fauci said it is impossible to predict where the arc of this crisis will go. What’s your assessment of that?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, I think what we’re likely to see is regional outbreaks with compensatory action that’s going to get those outbreaks under control across the country like we’ve been seeing. We saw a very dense epidemic in the Northeast. They got it under control with very strict lockdowns. We then saw a dense epidemic in the Sun Belt states. They got it under control. They’re starting to get it under control. We’re seeing declines in those states with some actions that they took, but more likely with the collective action of individuals starting to withdraw from activity a little bit and wear masks more and express more vigilance. I think we’re likely to see this continue where there is going to be these epidemics in different parts of the country and in compensatory action to get it under control. And it’s going to be this slow burn, unfortunately, for the rest of the year. So as the Sun Belt states are declining right now, we’re seeing infection rates pick up in the Midwest. And right now, the rate of infection across the country, if you look at some of the models, is probably one in seventy individuals right now are actively infected. So, there’s a lot of infection across the entire United States.
JOHN DICKERSON: Is what’s happening in the Midwest basically the same old story, just a version of what was happening in the– the Northeast and then South and West? It’s just their turn now?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: I think there’s some truth to that. I think there’s a lot of infection around the country. It’s going to be hard to keep the virus out. Even in the Northeast right now, it’s going to be hard for that part of the country not to get re-seeded, and so you’re just seeing it rotate through different parts of the country. I think after parts of the country become a– affected by this, you do see some increased vigilance and,hopefully, that’s going to persist. Hopefully, now in states like Texas and Florida and Arizona, you are going to see consumers adopt masks more going forward. You see that in some of the survey data right now. And the question is can the combination of some limited mitigation, some targeted mitigation, like keeping bars closed, keeping certain indoor congregate venues that aren’t really pivotal to the economic activity of a region closed with universal adherence to masks or greater adherence to masks, is that enough to keep the virus out? If you look at a state like Connecticut right now, where I am, right now infection rates are very low. They’ve kept bars closed. They’ve kept restaurants limited. People are wearing masks here. But, at the same time, they’ve reopened parts of the economy, and so is that enough? Is that combination of masks with some targeted mitigation enoughto keep the virus out? We certainly hope so. I mean, if we– if it is then we’ve sort of found a happy medium between strict lockdowns and just letting it spread unchecked that could keep this at bay.
JOHN DICKERSON: So, it seems like people are having to experience it a little bit because it’s– still you hear White House public health officials imploring people, telling them this can hit you. We’re seven months into this. Does it– what– how does it strike you that– that we’re still having to get thismessage out, that this can come to your community as well?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, look, I think– I think what we take for granted is that when you had the epidemic in the Northeast and New York was experiencing really a travesty, a lot of parts of the country were shut down but were largely unaffected by this. And I think there is some element of the fact that until you’re touched by it, you really don’t, you know, appreciate the full significance of this. And so I think that there is going to be some residual caution on the part of the states that now have been affected. I hope it’s not the case that every part of the country needs to have some level of epidemic in order to get collective action that’s going to keep this at bay, but there is some element of that. That said, I think that now that more people have seen how devastating this can be and how dangerous it is, I think you’re going to see some more residual action on the part of consumers across the entire country. I mean, part of what makes us great as a nation is our aversion to regulation and our individualism and the fact that we give so much control to local governments. But in the setting of a national pandemic, where you want more central top-down policymaking to try to keep this at bay across the entire United States in more of a uniform fashion, the things that make us great and make us dynamic as an economy work against us in this kind of a setting.
JOHN DICKERSON: We’re about to head into the school season. What’s your feeling about what should be done and– and how close are we to actually doing that?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, look, I think we should try to open the schools. We should lean forward here because of all the reasons why it’s important to get kids back into the classroom. Here in Connecticut, we probably will have the opportunity to open schools. The positivity rate is very low. They have good testing and tracking in place, but we need to prevent outbreaks in the schools. There’s a lot we don’t know about this virus. The virus probably hasn’t infected that many kids relative to flu certainly, and so we don’t want to see this become epidemic in children. I think this is complicated by the fact that there’s information on both sides of this debate to really sort of inform the debate and harden positions. We’ve seen schools open in other countries successfully without outbreaks, albeit with a lot of precaution put into place. And we’ve seen summer camps open here with pretty dense outbreaks. There was a– a report out of the CDC in Georgia where summer camps opened. Fifty-eight percent of the campers were tested, seventy–I think–six percent were infected. We saw schools open in Israel that triggered large outbreaks in those schools and may have been behind a resurgence in the epidemic in that country. So there’s anecdotes and experiences on both sides of this debate, I think, to– to counsel enough caution that if we do reopen schools, and I think we should try to, and I think many parts of the country will have that opportunity, we should take every precaution to try to prevent outbreaks. And that also includes protecting teachers. Teachers need to be thought of as front-line workers in these situations and given– given proper protective equipment and ways to keep themselves safe in the classroom.
JOHN DICKERSON: We got fifteen seconds left, DoctorGottlieb, any optimism you see in these numbers?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: I think we can be optimistic, perhaps, that we’re going to have probably a less significant flu season than we anticipated. Flu isn’t epidemic in the Southern Hemisphere, and maybe we’ve found a happy medium between strict lockdowns and just letting this spread unfettered. And we have found sort of the middle ground that will keep this at bay. When you look at certain states like Connecticut and some others as well, I just happen to be familiar with Connecticut, where they’ve taken a mix of options to keep this at bay, targeted mitigation with universal masking.
JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Doctor Scott Gottlieb, thanks so much again for being with us.
And we’ll be back in a moment.
JOHN DICKERSON: This morning, we have a new CBS Battleground Tracker that looks at the presidential race in North Carolina and Georgia. President Trump won both states in 2016, but frustration about the handling of the coronavirus is taking a toll on Mister Trump’s chances this year. Results show both states are in play. Former Vice President Biden is up forty-eight to forty-four in North Carolina, and it’s tight in Georgia where Mister Biden is up forty-six to forty-five. That’s a state a Democrat hasn’t won since 1992. CBS News elections and surveys director Anthony Salvanto joins us from his home in Westchester County, New York, with more. Good morning, Anthony.
ANTHONY SALVANTO (CBS News Elections and Surveys Director/@SalvantoCBS): Hey, John, good to see you.
JOHN DICKERSON: It’s great to see you. Why did you pick these two states?
ANTHONY SALVANTO: Well, it’s part of our look at states that might be in play. Remember, the Electoral College is what decides the presidency. And you’ve got to look at all the states that are now expanded into our categories of either toss-up or in play. These are not two we might have expected to be on the list earlier this year. But it’s that frustration, as you said, about coronavirus, and you also see in places like Georgia and North Carolina a larger story, and that is that these growing metro areas, whether it’s around Atlanta or around Charlotte and others, where those suburbs have been trending towards the Democrats the last couple of cycles. Something you want to keep an eye on in a lot of states this year. You’ve also seen around those areas college graduates tending– trending towards the Democrats. In particular, white college degree-holding women, with whom Biden now has double-digit leads. Those are all trends that Democrats need to keep going if they are going to win this election.
JOHN DICKERSON: For Biden to do well in these states, which is basically he’s making incursions into what’s Trump territory. For him to do well, he’ll have to do well with the black vote in North Carolina. In 2016 that was twenty percent of the vote, it’s about thirty percent in 2016 in Georgia. What did your numbers tell you about the black vote in these two states?
ANTHONY SALVANTO: So a couple of things. One is strong support for Joe Biden, as you might expect, but also as he needs. Number two, you want to always look at turnout among all groups, but in particular among the black vote, in our surveys, they tell us that it’s not they don’t think it’s as easy for them to vote. So that’s important, especially this year. And then the other thing about it is, while the bulk of Joe Biden’s support has come in our polling, from people who say they’re voting for Joe Biden to vote against Donald Trump. It’s black voters in these states, who say they’re voting for Joe Biden because they like Joe Biden. Enthusiasm is always an important component as well. John.
JOHN DICKERSON: And these will be two states to look at as we talk later in the broadcast about the ease of vote and how that might be different this time around. What did you find in the numbers in terms of the coronavirus response and the way voters are feeling about the President?
ANTHONY SALVANTO: So, here you see, as we have in other states, a– basically a negative view of how the response has gone. So you find that people think their states reopened, in the case of Georgia, too quickly. And you find that people say they think the administration’s approach to this has hurt rather than helped Georgia in particular. So that’s weighing down on him a little bit. Then you look and you say, well, the people who feel that way, was the administration pressuring the state? And people say, yes, they– they feel that way. So that accrues a little bit back to the President. The other thing we– we look at, John, is you want to look at the expectation against the response. And here we found– we asked people, is the coronavirus something that public policy and good public policy can do anything about? And the majority says, yes, it can. But then we ask, well, is the administration doing all it can? And the majority said, no, they thought they could be doing more.
JOHN DICKERSON: So just briefly to button that up, they believe that the President is to blame for opening too quickly, but they also think he could be trying harder?
ANTHONY SALVANTO: Yes, they do think that he could be trying harder. In fact, when asked to describe what they think the administration’s approach is, more say they think the administration is just letting the virus run its course as opposed to trying to contain it. And while you look at the vote among people who think that, and while they’re not voting for the President, but they’re also feeling that he’s not doing a good job handling the virus.
JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Anthony Salvanto, thanks so much for being with us.
And we’ll be right back.
JOHN DICKERSON: We want to go now to president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Vanita Gupta. She was the head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division during the Obama administration. She’s in Arlington, Virginia. Good morning.
VANITA GUPTA (President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights/@vanitaguptaCR): Good morning.
JOHN DICKERSON: So White House Chief of Staff Meadows says the election is going to be on the third. The President floated the idea of delaying it. What’s your response to that?
VANITA GUPTA: Well, the President can’t delay it. The date of the general election has been set by federal law ever since 1845. We have voted through the Civil War, through the Spanish flu, through the Great Depression at the date set by the general election. The date can only be moved by Congress. And I highly doubt that Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic-controlled House are– are ever going to touch that. So this election is happening on November 3rd.
JOHN DICKERSON: The President is raising the complexity of voting in the era of COVID as a way to raise questions about the– the outcome of the election. What do you see as the challenges that we should keep our eye on between now and Election Day?
VANITA GUPTA: Yeah, look, the states– you saw what happened in Wisconsin and Georgia and other states in the primaries. Those were really wake-up calls for what states need to do. States need to immediately start changing the rules. We need expanded vote by mail with things like prepaid postage stamps. You’ve seen and heard about the attacks on the U.S. Postal Service that are causing delays. Therefore, it’s really important that states change the rules to allow ballots that are postmarked on or before Election Day to be counted. It’s really important also that people apply for their absentee ballots and vote early so as not to overwhelm the system. You need expanded in-person voting because a lot of people in this country, voters of color, Native American voters, voters with disabilities won’t be able to– or won’t feel comfortable voting by mail. So you need health-compliant polling places that, you know, you need PPE. All of this stuff costs money. You need extended online voter registration. These are the myriad of changes that states are making around the country. The problem is right now is Congress has failed to give the states the adequate resources that they need to be able to make all these changes. These changes are expensive, and states are strapped for cash right now. And so in the HEROES Act, which passed the House about ten weeks ago, they had allotted 3.6 billion dollars. It was pursuant to an extensive study done by the Brennan Center about what it would take. And now the Senate and– and the House need to pass this legislation and get that money into the hands of the states so they can be ready to make all of these changes immediately. Time is of the essence. And then I would just say, John, this is new. In 2018, one in four voters voted by mail. You need massive voter education around the country. That’s also going to cost money. And we need to be fighting disinformation on platforms like Facebook and others.
JOHN DICKERSON: In advance of any of those changes, they’re having difficulty even getting unemployment assistance in Congress. So bigger changes, the prospects seem dim. But in advance of that, is there anything citizens can do to educate themselves in advance of the election and these possibly changing rules?
VANITA GUPTA: Absolutely. There is a lot of sites that are providing information: andstillIvote.org is one, vote.org is another. It is really important right now as states are making these changes that– that voters apply for their absentee ballots early, that they fill them out carefully and that they then send them back early so as not to overwhelm polling places on the day of election on November 3rd. And we also, the media has to be prepared. Look, we’re in an unprecedented time. We may not– we’re not going to be able to call the election, the media won’t be able to call the election on the night of November 3rd if we actually want these absentee ballots to be counted. And people will be voting in droves, tens of percentage points higher in– by– by mail than before. We want to make sure all of the ballots are actually counted. And so we also have to become used to this notion that we may not– we are not going to have those results. But we’re going to– secretaries of state need to be able to do their job and to certify their results. And they’re– and then the Electoral College will meet in December, and– and the transition will happen in January, if there is one.
JOHN DICKERSON: So prepare– prepare for an election season rather than an Election Day. And in that case, delay is not necessarily a sign of fraud. In some cases, it may be a sign of extra work being done to make sure there isn’t fraud.
VANITA GUPTA: Yeah, look, there’s states like Colorado, Utah, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, they’ve been using vote by mail, majority of their voters, in some places almost exclusively, without a single hitch, and hundreds of millions of votes have been cast. There’s study after study shows that this is a very reliable form of voting. And voters need to be able to cast their votes. They should do it early. But– but, yes, election results won’t be available that night. We have to be okay with that. The most important thing is that the votes are actually counted, that people, voters of color and others don’t have– they tend to have absentee ballots rejected at a higher rate. So we’ve got to be really mindful of this. But– but this is an important and safe and secure way of voting, and we can do this. The United States of America can do this in 2020 even amid a pandemic.
JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Vanita Gupta, thank you so much for being with us today.
And that’s it for us today. Thanks for watching. Margaret will be back next week. For FACE THE NATION, I’m John Dickerson.
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