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April Jobs Report; Stefanik to Replace Cheney; Conservatives Criticize Stefanik; Pfizer Applies for Full Approval. Aired 9:00-9:30a ET

Aired May 7, 2021 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[09:00:00]

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A very good Friday morning to you. It is Friday. I'm Jim Sciutto.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Poppy Harlow. Glad you're with us.

Big, breaking news just in. The April jobs report is out. And it's a huge disappointment and, frankly, a shock.

Just 266,000 jobs were added last month. Yes, that's added, but economists were expecting about a million jobs to have been added in the month and employment remain little changed at 6.1 percent. This is the slowest improvement for jobs since January. Also black men and women and Hispanics continuing to feel the brunt of the pandemic layoffs.

SCIUTTO: All of this despite more vaccinations. The hope had been more people getting vaccinated, they're going out, and more businesses reopening and also staffing up.

We have live coverage of the breaking news.

The president is set to speak soon in response to this.

Let's begin, though, with Christine Romans.

Christine, it's not often that economists, and these are private economists and government economists, to get a forecast like this so off. What happened here?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: A major disappointment. What happened was a year ago this month, 20 million jobs vanished out of the labor market. We shut the economy down and turning it back on, there is no playbook. There's no blueprint for how to do this. And we saw companies hire much fewer workers than we had expected. And we saw the unemployment rate actually tick up.

That 266,000 number, Poppy's right to point out, that's the slowest since January and much fewer -- far fewer jobs added back than we had expected.

What we've been hearing from different parts of the economy, especially leisure and hospitality and in manufacturing is they can't find the workers. Now 331,000 leisure and hospitality jobs were added in the month, so they are -- those reopenings are resulting in hiring there but not as many as we had thought here.

And I think, guys, there's probably three things at play here. You still have, you know, thousands of people contracting the virus every single day. You have schools still closed and a lack of child care. And you have unemployment benefits at $300 extra a week that lasts until the fall.

There's not a lot of incentive for some folks to come back into the labor market at this point, in the middle of a pandemic where there's a health and safety risk and your kids aren't in school yet, right? So there are still some big distortions in the economy that need to be works out.

HARLOW: Yes. OK.

So, Jeremy, if you're sitting in the house, the White House, behind you right now, this morning, I think you're thinking two things. We're surprised at -- three things. We're surprised at this number but, hey, this gives us a lot more ammunition to call for the $6 trillion in spending we want.

But what about states like Montana and South Carolina that are saying, we're going to stop those extended federal unemployment benefits to get people back to work? I mean economists at Jeffries, just a few minutes ago, say this, outside of the possibility that employers are unable to find people willing to work to fill the positions, the weakness is totally baffling. Nothing in the lead-up to today suggested we would see this weak a number.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, listen, there are a lot of dynamics at play. One thing that is certain, though, is that President Biden's remarks this morning are going to be different than what perhaps they would have been had those economists' projections been correct.

We've heard the president over the last couple of weeks beating back these fears about inflation, pushing back on Republican arguments that we've already spent $1.9 trillion on this coronavirus relief, another $4 trillion for his American jobs plan and American families plan, could lead to the economy overheating and, frankly, just isn't needed is the argument that a lot of Republicans have been making.

Now the president is able to make perhaps a different case today. Making the case that, yes, the $1.9 trillion in coronavirus relief has helped the economy recover. Jobs are still gaining back. We are still -- more jobs are still being added.

But, at the same time, he can now say more stimulus is still needed. And, in particular, focusing on that infrastructure proposal that he has, which we have heard him frame repeatedly in the sense of these blue-collar jobs that can be created. And that is certainly something that I think we can expect to hear from the president once again this morning.

SCIUTTO: So, Christine Romans, that's what the president's going to say. Now, let's be clear, the president and the White House were expecting a victory lap on these numbers. They'll not going to get it. So they'll argue for more money. We need it.

You're already hearing from Republicans, and I'll bet you five bucks you're going to hear more from them today saying, well, there's no incentive to go back to work because there's too much unemployment insurance, et cetera.

Christine, what does the data tell us, right, about which of those forces is real?

ROMANS: I mean the data -- the data tells us there's a huge mismatch in the American labor market right now, that you have factories that have half a million jobs are available in American factories but they can't find the work there.

We know that we're looking for truck drivers, for gasoline, for tanker trucks, that the -- and that's the coronavirus that dislocated that. All of a sudden the economy shut down, you didn't need all this gas moving around the country, those workers were laid off and now they've gone to do something else. They may be working in a different part of the transportation industry.

So the coronavirus recession so scarred the American economy. It was so just nuclear that we're having trouble getting all the pieces back in for everyone on this side of it.

HARLOW: One of the problems, Christine, it's just the way the numbers are calculated, as you know, is that anyone who stopped looking for work doesn't even get counted in these numbers.

[09:05:07]

So, on women, I mean, the top line numbers here for women aren't all that bad but that's because so many aren't being counted because they're home taking care of their kids.

ROMANS: Yes. Yes.

And we know that more than 2 million women have dropped out of the labor market. And we know that there's something like four or five million fewer jobs for women. And that tells you that women who were working two jobs, many of them, right, not just one job. So the labor force, the labor market damage for women, a generation of progress for women in the workforce essentially wiped out by a global pandemic, by a pandemic in this country.

So there's a lot of work to do there. And I think that's where you'll see the White House try to tie into its human capital, its infrastructure push, human worker infrastructure to make that point that you can't just turn the switch back on, everybody goes back to the way it was, that women in particular, and families need supports in the labor market to come back.

I mean so many schools are still closed. I mean I think my middle schooler is going to go -- actually set foot in a school five times by the end of the year because of the way it's hybrid. How difficult for somebody to go back to a job or even start looking again when you've got, you know, those kinds of challenges in the family. That's something really to think about. As we go forward here with opening, hopefully that will get easier in the fall, I hope.

DIAMOND: And that's why as we've heard these Republicans make the arguments about the labor supply and talking about the fact that these unemployment benefits are disincentivizing people from returning to the labor force. We've heard the White House, instead, focus on these disruptions to schooling, on these disruptions to child care --

ROMANS: Right.

DIAMOND: Which only helps them bolster their case for this American families plan and the kind of social infrastructure that they say is needed in this country.

HARLOW: I mean two things -- we've got to go, but two things can be true at the same time because one thing may be true for you if you don't have kids and the other thing's true for if you do have kids.

ROMANS: Yes. Yes.

HARLOW: Thank you very much Christine Romans, Jeremy Diamond. We appreciate it.

So the labor secretary, Marty Walsh, will join us in a little bit to talk about all this and answer some of these questions.

SCIUTTO: The likely replacement for Congresswoman Liz Cheney as the number three House Republican is also facing criticism from within her own party. Some conservative Republicans taking issue with New York Congresswoman Stefanik's voting record and some of her past comments, very critical, very public comments about former President Trump and several of his signature positions.

HARLOW: Our Lauren Fox following all of this for us again this morning on Capitol Hill.

Lauren, good morning to you.

You've got the far right Freedom Caucus with some serious reservations about her in such an elevated role.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's exactly right, Poppy. I mean one of the things to keep in mind, however, is that Elise Stefanik has the blessing of McCarthy, the top Republican, and Steve Scalise, the number two Republican, the Republican whip. And the argument that they are making is that they need a woman in this role.

They also feel like Stefanik has grown as a member over time. The argument, of course, is that when Trump was running for election, when he was running to be in the White House, she made some comments about past statements that the president had made, both in that "Access Hollywood" tape, also on the border wall, some of which are controversial.

Now, her voting record is also different than Liz Cheney. I mean you don't get more conservative by the traditional definition than Liz Cheney. She is someone who voted with the president more often than Elise Stefanik did on Capitol Hill.

But this isn't about a voting record. This is about the way that you talk. And throughout her time on Capitol Hill, Stefanik essentially became one of the former president's biggest defenders, especially in that first impeachment trial. She was someone who was up there right with Jim Jordan and Lee Zeldin going to the microphones in between these briefings, trying to defend the former president.

So she certainly is someone who has evolved from the time that she came into office when she was really a student of Paul Ryan's and then essentially became someone who was close to McCarthy and, therefore, close to former President Trump.

We should also make it clear that she is going to meet with the Freedom Caucus on Monday, but we do expect that she will eventually become the number three Republican, just given how much leadership support there is for her.

SCIUTTO: I mean, listen, the record shows she was against him before she was for him. She opposed the Muslim ban, she opposed the wall, she opposed -- she called him out for publicly lying. Those are public statements as Andrew Kazinski (ph) and K-file have documented. But, memories are short in Washington.

Lauren Fox, thanks very much.

Joining us now, CNN political commentator S.E. Cupp, also host of CNN's "S.E. Cupp Unfiltered."

So, S.E., you have this debate now, among many debates within the party, as to whether the party is stronger or weaker with Trump. A hundred years (ph) ago, in January of this year, and November of last year, we have data to go off. Trump lost an election, which is -- which is not an easy thing for a president to do, right, to lose re- election and the Republicans lost the Senate. So why doesn't the data -- why isn't that a negative indicator by going all in on Trumpism?

[09:10:00]

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Jim, because science is for wusses now apparently on -- on, you know, if you're in the Republican Party. And that sounds like a joke, but it is the truth. The politicization of science, information, data, truth is something that is completely corrupted the party.

And so all that matters now is one guy's opinion. A guy, who as you point out, lost, not just his own seat, but lost the House and the Senate for Republicans in just one term. It's not an easy thing to do. He is literally, by definition, a loser and yet Republicans can't seem to quit him.

HARLOW: I think your take on this, S.E., super interesting because you disagree with a lot of your fellow conservatives that this shows the power of Trump.

CUPP: Yes, I've been seeing this framework that this is proof, these fights, of Donald Trump's enduring influence and power. And I reject that. I think that's totally wrong.

As I just pointed out, he's a loser. He could easily be irrelevant. I think it's more reflective of the weakness in the GOP. The utter weakness and cowardice and lack of ideas, lack of creativity.

The idea that they are not even looking at any other candidates to run and promote in 2024, that they are satisfied running the guy that lost, that lost huge gains for Republicans, just shows how out of ideas they are and how beholden to Trump they are choosing to be. They don't have to be. It's a choice. And I think it's a pretty deleterious one both for the politics of the party and the character of the party.

SCIUTTO: There is, though, one idea that is central to the Republican Party right now, and that is making it harder to vote. I mean, again, it's in the data. And, by the way, this is something that even some of your fellow Republicans say very publicly, George Will. You know, I asked Jeff Flake last week about this and he said, yes, these laws are designed to make it harder for Democrats to vote.

CUPP: Yes.

SCIUTTO: What's your response to that? And how should people at home respond to that?

CUPP: Well -- yes, I -- this is agonizing. I think when you identify the problem as too much democracy, too much voting, too much speech, we've got to crack down on all of that. You are clearly out of ideas. And that's heartbreaking for someone like me, a conservative, who is an ideas person and believes that the Republican Party is at its best and the Democratic Party is at its best when we're talking about ideas.

And if you think voting is the problem, democracy is the thing we need to crack down on, you've given up. And I've seen the Republicans, by and large, have given up on those ideas.

HARLOW: Jim made such a good point earlier, S.E., and that's just how, you know, not in line with Trump Elise Stefanik was, at least.

CUPP: Yes.

HARLOW: And just the voting record up until recently, as Lauren Fox pointed out, I mean way more votes along with Trump from Liz Cheney than Elise Stefanik.

Can you talk about that in the lens of identity politics and what you see at play here?

CUPP: Yes, I think -- look, I think that the cheap and easy way to see what the GOP is doing with Elise Stefanik and what I think the GOP hopes we see it as is, look, we're putting another -- we're replacing one woman with another woman. How can that be sexist? How can that be bad?

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

CUPP: However, you are replacing a woman with another woman explicitly because of her loyalty to another man. I don't know a woman alive who would find that empowering. The idea that Liz Cheney can't have her own opinion, can't follow her moral conscience and do her job and needs replacing and that women are interchangeable and really only as good so far as their commitment and support of another man. Well, I think that's awful. And it is rank sexism.

Now, identity politics and representation get confused a lot. I think they are two separate things. I believe identity politics is ruinous. It sees people as just their politics. And representation is wonderful. It sees politics as the people who make it up.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

CUPP: And I think what the GOP is doing here is using Elise Stefanik as identity politics. She's only as good as her politics. The idea that women should be promoted to positions of power is important because representation is important.

[09:15:02]

I don't think that's what's happening here. I think it's cheap. I think it's lazy and I think Republicans are using Elise Stefanik to look like they are good for women, when, really, they are muzzling another woman just for her opinion.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: Coming from a very smart Republican woman. You're a breath of fresh air. Thank you, S.E.

CUPP: Thanks, guys.

HARLOW: Still to come, big news -- big news on the vaccine front. Pfizer has just asked for full approval for its COVID vaccine in the U.S. We'll explain exactly what that means.

And nearly one in five parents say at this point they wouldn't let their kids get vaccinated. Experts say that kind of hesitancy could be bad and lead to a winter surge.

SCIUTTO: And the big lie takes a dramatic turn in Arizona. Republicans there auditing 2020 election results. They're now fighting back against concerns from the Justice Department of potential civil rights violations. We're going to be live just ahead.

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[09:20:30]

HARLOW: Welcome back.

So Pfizer is now officially seeking FDA approval for its COVID vaccine for people 16 and over. The Pfizer vaccine was the first to be given that Emergency Use Authorization back in December. It will also be the first to be considered for full approval.

SCIUTTO: Yes, I mean, it's already approved for emergency use. It's what's allowed it to be used safely based on the data for tens of millions of people in this country.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: But this does have importance going forward.

CNN's senior medical analyst Elizabeth Cohen joins us now.

So, Elizabeth, tell us what changes would come with full as opposed to emergency use approval.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. So, Jim, in some ways, you know what, we're not going to notice the difference. You can get a COVID-19 vaccine right now very easily in the United States. And once it has full approval, which, of course, everyone expects, you'll be able to get it easily as well.

But there are a couple of things that likely will happen. So let's take a look.

So, again, right now, we have Emergency Use Authorization. And, Jim, I'm so glad that you emphasized, went through all the full testing, a full phase three and all of that, but it was a shorter process because we're in an emergency.

With full approval, that could make employers and schools more comfortable requiring the vaccine. They could require it now and some might be, but once it has full approval, those universities, those schools, those employers might feel better about saying, hey, you have to have it.

Also, full approval could increase confidence among those who are vaccine hesitant. Some people who are vaccine hesitant, I know, have told me it just went through this emergency process. You know, I want it to have the whole thing. I want it to have the same process that all the other medicines in my medicine cabinet have gone through and that will make me feel better. So hopefully having a full approval will decrease vaccine hesitancy.

Poppy. Jim.

HARLOW: Let's hope. Thank you, Elizabeth. Let's talk about this. Let's bring in Dr. Richina Bicette, an emergency medicine physician and medical director at Baylor College of Medicine.

Good morning, Doctor. We always love having you on.

DR. RICHINA BICETTE, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, BAYLOR ST. LUKE'S MCNAIR CAMPUS EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT Good morning, Poppy.

HARLOW: What do you think? Does this, assuming it gets the full, full, full approval from the FDA and that Moderna, et cetera, follow, does this make a meaningful difference for folks?

BICETTE: I think for some people it will. There have been people that have said that they didn't want to get the vaccine until it's fully approved, not realizing that full FDA approval is quite a tedious process. And so that's why Pfizer initially went with the Emergency Use Authorization route.

That process took about two to three weeks. Full approval typically takes up to ten months. And if expedited, then it can take up to six months.

HARLOW: Doctor, next week we expect the CDC to issue Emergency Use Authorization for children 12 and up, teenagers 12 and up. There's a different kind of vaccine hesitancy there that parents, who might have taken the vaccine for themselves, a little more reluctant with their kids. One, that it's their kids. I get that. Two, also because the danger is just markedly lower for young people of getting severe disease.

What -- how will the CDC and how will others get over that kind of parental hesitancy?

HARLOW: Yes.

BICETTE: You know, we don't talk about children as an important part of this pandemic enough. And I think that is also contributing to why parents are hesitant to get their children the vaccine. They don't see the need because all we've been saying is that children don't get severe disease as often as adults. And that is true. But when you look at the numbers, of the 32-plus million Americans who have been diagnosed with COVID, almost 14 percent of those cases have occurred in children.

Not only that, but the American Academy of Pediatrics is now starting to notice that pediatric cases are on the rise and are currently making up about 22 percent of cases. And that's because as adults get vaccinated, COVID is still in the community. It's still floating around trying to find a host who is susceptible. And unvaccinated children are a prime example of that.

HARLOW: California has some really great news. I mean given what they went through and the surge and then again, now you've doctors at UCFF _- UCSF saying that they're a few weeks away from herd immunity across California. They say June 15th is when we're going to get it done. What do you think of that? And if they get it done, wouldn't that mean

other states, too?

BICETTE: If they can get it done, we all can get it done.

Now, California, at one time, had the highest rate of daily cases, over 50,000 daily cases.

[09:25:04]

If you look at the current daily caseload, California is significantly down. They have less cases than New York, than Florida, Michigan, Texas. They are in the bottom third. And that is because, partly, due their vaccination rates. When you look at the map, California is in the top third in vaccine performance. It shows that although there are variants spreading, although there are still high levels of COVID in the community, if we can get enough of our population vaccinated, we can control this pandemic.

SCIUTTO: But Dr. Bicette, can you really have state-by-state herd immunity?

HARLOW: right.

SCIUTTO: I mean, after all, there aren't big walls at the border of California. People are moving back and forth. I mean doesn't it have to be countrywide and, arguably, right, global? I mean we're a global world right now and people are moving back and forth a lot which is why we've seen these variants spread from country to country.

BICETTE: So you can't necessarily have state-by-state herd immunity, but herd immunity is almost, not a figment of our imagination, but it's an imaginary goal. What we're really trying to do is control the rate of disease in your particular community. What's happening in California right now does affect me (INAUDIBLE) direct.

What affects me more is what's going on in my local community. What's happening in the city of Houston? And that's what I'm most going to be affected by.

So, yes, it does matter what is happening locally.

HARLOW: Thank you very, very much, Doctor. All good points. I hope everyone is listening. Have a good weekend.

BICETTE: Have a great day.

SCIUTTO: Coming up next, brainwashed by Fox News? How the lawyer for a suspect in the Capitol insurrection is blaming conservative TV for his client's actions.

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