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Soon, NY Lt. Gov. Speaks as She Prepares to Make History as First Woman to Lead State; New Report: Inflation Pace Slowed in July But Remains Elevated; Randi Weingarten, president, American Federation of Teachers, Discusses Battle Over Mask and Vaccine Mandates in Schools; Joe Biden Delivers Remarks on Infrastructure Bill, $3.5 Trillion Budget. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired August 11, 2021 - 13:30   ET

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


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[13:30:36]

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Moments from now, New York's incoming governor, Kathy Hochul, who will be the first woman to lead the state, is set to speak publicly for the first time since Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation amid sexual harassment allegations.

CNN is learning Hochul, the current lieutenant governor, is already putting together a political team, indicating she plans to run for a full term next year.

Joining us now is Jon Campbell. He's the New York State team editor for "USA Today" network covering Cuomo's administration.

Thanks for being with us, John.

What are you expecting to hear from Hochul today?

JON CAMPBELL, NEW YORK STATE TEAM EDITOR, "USA TODAY": You know, we're not quite sure what to expect, quite frankly. This was kind of thrust upon her yesterday.

We're expecting to hear from her in a half hour. She's expected to address New Yorkers, but she's also going to take questions from the press.

We expect to hear whether she intends to maintain some of Andrew Cuomo's staff members, whether she intends to bring in her own folks.

We expect she will bring in some of her own folks. She's already putting together a team, a governmental team as well.

So we expect to hear more about that in half an hour.

CABRERA: You've covered Governor Cuomo extensively. Do you think Lieutenant Governor Hochul will be a good replacement?

CAMPBELL: Well, Kathy Hochul does have a lot of experience. She's been the lieutenant governor for about six years.

Before that, she was a Congresswoman representing a conservative district in New York. And she was a county clerk before that. So she has decades of experience on the state and local level, as well as the federal level.

She's going to try to put that experience to use.

When Eliot Spitzer resigned in New York in 2008, Governor Patterson came in. And he himself would probably say he wasn't terribly well prepared for the job.

He used to joke that his job as lieutenant governor was to call Eliot Spitzer in the morning and, if he heard his voice, he could go back to bed.

Kathy Hochul is not that lieutenant governor. She's crisscrossed the state. She says she's prepared to be governor.

CABRERA: She's always sort of maintained separation from Cuomo.

CNN has reported that she was preparing to take over as calls grew louder for Governor Cuomo to resign.

What do you see as her biggest challenges?

CAMPBELL: The number-one challenge she's got to face is COVID-19. The Delta variant is increasing in New York State and around the country.

There's been criticism of Andrew Cuomo that he hasn't really taken the bull by the horns.

His State Department of Health has not issued reopening guidance for schools. He's declined to institute an sort of mask mandate.

Kathy Hochul is going to face a lot of questions as soon as she gets into office, even before she gets into office, about what's she do with it.

CABRERA: Meantime, Governor Cuomo is still the subject of several investigations. Those don't seem to be going away even after he resigns.

What's your latest reporting on where these investigations stand?

CAMPBELL: There are a handful or more of investigations on going.

The biggest one the is the assembly impeachment inquiry, which members are going to have to face the question about whether they should continue with impeachment of Andrew Cuomo, which could prevent him from running in the future.

That's a big decision they have to make. Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn are looking at COVID-19 in nursing

homes and whether the Cuomo administration purposely withheld certain data regarding the death toll in nursing homes.

And Letitia James is still investigating whether the governor used state resources on his $5.1 million book deal.

That's to say nothing about the criminal charges that could come from the sexual harassment conduct that was detailed in Letitia James's original report.

The Albany County district attorney is investigating. Four other county district attorneys are looking at it was well.

So stay tuned.

CABRERA: Jon Campbell, thank you for the update. We'll be in touch in the coming weeks.

The economy is reopening and you are paying, especially in grocery stores and restaurants. The latest numbers prove prices are going up on just about everything right now. They're 5.4 percent higher compared to a year ago overall, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

CNN's lead business writer, Matt Egan, is joining us to walk us through the numbers on what products, Matt, are we seeing inflation take the biggest toll?

[13:35:04]

MATT EGAN, CNN LEAD BUSINESS WRITER: Ana, the price hikes keep coming for Americans.

Here's a few examples of the kinds of sticker shock people are experience now.

Women's dresses up about 19 percent in price over the last 12 months. Used cars and gasoline up 42 percent. Rental cars up over 73 percent. That means a rental car going about $100 a day a year ago is now fetching around $175.

Americans are also paying for more food at grocery stores. Apples and milk up 6 percent. Fresh fruit up more than 8 percent. Meat up nearly 11 percent.

We talked to one food distributor who said he's seen incredible price increases.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL DELCUAGIO (ph), PRESIDENT, B&D SNACKS: Instead of a normal 2 percent to 3 percent increase, it could be a 10, 20 or 15 percent increase.

On my end, as a businessman -- I've been doing this 35 years -- I'm scared to the point of, are they going to stop buying the product?

DONNA MALONE, SHOPPER: We have to eat. What can I say? A lot of teams I have to compromise.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

EGAN: Of course, companies are paying workers more these days. Unfortunately, those fatter paychecks are not going as far because of inflation.

In fact, compensation is now less than it was in December of 2019 adjusted for inflation, according to Harvard University.

CABRERA: Matt Egan, thank you for breaking it down for us.

Teachers and students caught in the middle as schools and state lawmakers battle over masks and vaccine mandates. We're going to talk to the head of one major teachers union on where her members stand now.

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CABRERA: California is about to take on the issue of vaccine mandates in a way no other state has.

Governor Newsom is expected to announce today that teachers and other school staff must be vaccinated or submit to regular COVID testing.

This is first-in-the-nation order. It will take effect in mid-October.

It will broaden statewide what school districts in San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento and Long Beach have already done.

Randi Weingarten is the president of the American Federation of Teachers and joins us now.

Randi, thank you for taking the time.

Your reaction to this order by the state of California?

RANDI WEINGARTEN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS: Thank you, Ana.

Look, I made it clear what my personal views were earlier in the week. But I think you're going to see our affiliates in California support this.

As our affiliate in Washington, D.C., had supported Mayor Bowser doing something similar. And our affiliate in New York City supporting Bill De Blasio for doing something similar.

We know that vaccines are the single most important tool for us confronting COVID and protecting people.

We also know that there has been, you know, that teachers have been extraordinary in terms of taking the shot.

Our federal governments are showing, the White House's figures are showing that over 90 percent of teacher members have gotten the vaccine.

CABRERA: Right.

WEINGARTEN: But we also know that there's some real hesitancy in the population --

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: Randi, I'm sorry to interrupt.

We have to go live to the White House and President Biden.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And 943,000 jobs created in July, the seventh largest month of U.S. job creation in U.S. history, making the administration the first ever to add four million jobs in the first six months in office.

Then, in the past 24 hours, we've seen the Senate advance two key pieces of my economic agenda, the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the budget resolution that is the framework for my Build Back Better plan.

Today, I'm pleased to share some good news with the American people. The latest report on consumer prices show that we've -- the expected easy we thought was going to come as increased.

We've seen a good monthly report. A monthly core consumer price index is down by nearly two-thirds from its pace over the past three months.

When you take out the goods directly impacted by the pandemic like cars and airline tickets, the monthly core has less than 2 .2 percent.

Here's where we stand. Jobs are up and monthly price increases have come down. Economic growth is up and unemployment is coming down.

I would argue the Biden check plan is working. Historic investments are on the way as well.

[13:45:05]

This isn't accidental. It's a result of our strategy to get shots in arms and grow the economy from the bottom up and the middle out. It's the rest of the result of the American Rescue Plan and everything else that we've done.

It's also the result of the grit and determination and really hard work of the American people.

Even with all this progress, a lot of families are still feeling the pinch. Family budgets remain tight and paychecks don't go as far as they need to.

That has been the reality in the millions of households all across America for too long.

That's why I want to talk today about what we're going to do to try to ease the burden on families right now and what we need to do to help them succeed over the longer term.

First, for millions of families, help is on the way right now thanks to the American Rescue Plan.

On Friday, about 40 million families will receive their second monthly payment as part of our tax cut for families are children. $300 for each child under the age of 6 and $250 for every child 6 through the age of 17.

That's money for diapers, food, rent, school supplies, fees and equipment for the child to join sports teams and dance classes.

Most of all, as my dad used to say, it just gives a parent a little bit of breathing room. The money is a game changer. So I would argue for some it's a lifesaver.

Economists tell us those tax cuts boost test scores, college attendance and lifetime earnings, a win-win.

Early this morning, Congress took an important step to make sure this tax cut for families with children does not expire next year. So let's keep this tax cut going and not raise taxes on middle class families.

The second point I'd like to make is we're talking about taking action that alleviates global supply chain challenges that keep prices higher than they should be.

For example, we're tracking congestion at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the largest ports in the United States, where increased shipping traffic and the challenges of operating safely in a pandemic are creating disruptions.ge

Those disruptions impact food costs and when deliveries arrive.

My administration is bringing together port operators, shipping leans, labor unions, trucking companies, railroads and others to speed up the ports' operations.

Right now, our experts believe the major inspector forecasters agree as well that these bottlenecks and price spikes will reduce as our economy continues to heal.

While today's consumer price report points in that direction, we will keep a careful eye on inflation each month and trust the fed to take appropriate action if and when it's needed.

Third, I've directed my administration to crack down on what some players are doing in the economy that are keeping prices higher than need be.

Take your grocery bill. When big agriculture operations consolidate, they put a squeeze on small and family farms, making them pay more for seed, paying them less for what they produce and raising prices at the grocery store.

My executive order opens up competition in the agriculture business, gives more farmers a chance to compete, which will give Americans more food choses at lower costs.

Fourthly, we are taking action to address gas prices today. Today gas prices are lower than they were early in this decade, but they're still high enough to create a pinch on working families.

One key thing about the infrastructure bill that just passed the Senate is there are no gas tax increases. No gas tax increases.

I made that absolutely clear that I would not raise gas taxes. I'm glad everyone in the Senate seemed to agree with that.

But that's not enough. Recently, we've seen the price that oil companies pay for a barrel of oil begin to fall, but the cost of gasoline at the pump hasn't fallen.

That's not what you would expect in a competitive market.

I want to make sure nothing stands in the way of oil price declines leading to lower prices for consumers.

So today, my director of the National Economic Council has asked the chair of the Federal Trade Commission to use every address any illegal conduct that might be contributing to price increases at the pump while the cost of a barrel of oil is going down.

[13:50:20]

We also made clear to OPEC, the major oil exporting nations of the world, that the production cuts made during the pandemic should be reversed as the global economic -- the global economy recovers in order to lower prices for consumers.

The child tax credit, stepping in to address the supply chain challenges, my competition orders, the FTC investigation into price gouging.

These are some of the immediate steps we are taking to put more money in your pocket and make that money go further.

We also need to do more to bring down the costs that are squeezing families month after month and year after year. We need to make this economy work better for working families in the long run.

These challenges are with us long before the pandemic and before I took office.

But as we recover from this crisis, now is the moment to put in place the long-term plan to build back America better.

A plan that will increase opportunities with better jobs and with higher wages.

A plan that will lower the everyday costs that strain our budgets and our nation's families today and long into the future.

It starts with making investments that we know will make the economy more productive and lead to more growth over the long run.

Bringing down the cost, everyday costs that have been taking a bigger and bigger bite out of middle-class families' incomes.

The expenses that keep parents up at night and rob seniors of their dignity: Health care, prescription drug costs, childcare, education, housing or caring for an elderly relative or a loved one.

For those who get their health insurance through the affordable care act, the American Rescue Plan allowed us to cover more people at lower premiums and lower premiums by an average of 40 percent.

In my Build Back Better plan, we want to build on that progress.

For prescription drugs, right now, we pay the highest prescription drug cost prices of any developed nation in the world, the highest.

My Build Back Better plan will lower prescription drug costs by finally giving Medicare the power to negotiate the prices of the drugs they purchase for the American people, saving Americans hundreds of billions of dollars.

On top of that, my plan would add hearing, dental and vision benefits to Medicare.

Right now, there are hundreds of thousands of Americans who need home and community-based care services and my plan expands home care for older Americans and people with disabilities, while improving jobs and the pay for the workers who care for them.

My plan will also provide access to quality affordable childcare with new and upgraded childcare facilities all across the country.

Middle class families will pay no more than 7 percent of their income for highly qualified care for children up to the age of 5. The most hard-pressed working families will not pay a dime.

Today, my Council of Economic Advisers and the Office of Management and Budget released a report showing clearly how my Build Back Better plan will lower out-of-pocket expenses for families.

For example, a family with two parents who together earn $85,000 a year, they have an adult daughter who lives with them and attends community college.

They care for an elderly parent who needs arthritis medicine, which costs $5,500 out-of-pocket each year. An eye exam to get a new pair of glasses.

Under our Build Back Better plan, their daughter would be eligible for two years of community college free. That will save them $2,400 a year. That's like a $2,400 tax credit. In addition -- I should say tax cut, not just credit. In addition, my

plan would cap out-of-pocket expenses and costs for their mom's and dad's prescription drugs, saving that family another $2,400 a year.

The new vision benefit under Medicare would pay for that eye exam and new glasses and lenses, saving $450 a year.

[13:55:01]

All told, my plan would save that family making $85,000 a year, $5,250.

The Build Back Better plan is going to save your family a lot as well.

Now, there are a number of -- there's been a lot of misleading talk, which is no surprise, I guess, about what I'm proposing in my Build Back Better agenda.

It's not a short-term stimulus. It's a long-term investment in American families.

My Republican colleagues have argued that long-term investments in physical infrastructure will grow the economy and reduce inflationary pressures.

I thank them for that. They're exactly right. We agree on that.

At the same time, it's true that long-term investments that bring down the biggest costs that families face, housing, childcare, education and health care, these investments will lower out-of-pocket expenses, not raise them.

They will spur more people to work by helping ease the burdens of childcare and senior care that parents, especially mothers, bear, keeping them out of the job market.

And they'll spread out over the decade. They'll make a huge difference for families.

But they'll only make up around 1 percent of our economy each year over the next decade.

And they're going to be fully paid for. This isn't going to be anything like my predecessor, whose unpaid tax cuts and other spending added nearly $8 trillion in his four years to the national debt, $8 trillion.

They didn't even purport to try to pay for their tax cuts, which went straight to the largest corporations and the wealthiest Americans.

The investments I'm proposing will be fully paid for over the long term by having the largest corporations, including the 55 corporations that paid zero federal tax last year and the super wealthy begin to pay their fair share.

They'll still make a lot of money but pay their fair share. That means it will actually reduce the national debt, improve our

fiscal position over the long run.

My Build Back Better agenda is fiscally responsible, the fiscally responsible way to reduce the cost for families.

In fact, you're hearing economists across the board confirm this.

Moody's has said that, quote, "worries that the plan will ignite" -- this is Moody's now - "ignite undesirably high inflation and overheat the economy is overdone."

Nobel prize-winning economist, Joseph Stigler (ph), said my plan, and I quote, "There's no conceivable way it will have any significant effect on inflation."

Jason Furman of Harvard University has said, quote, "I don't think the infrastructure bill or the reconciliation plan would materially impact inflation over the next decade."

So if your primary concern right now is the cost of living, you should support this plan, not oppose it.

Because a vote against this plan is a vote against lowering the cost of health care, housing, childcare, elder care, and prescription drugs for American families.

So let me close with this. We brought this economy back from a cold start and there's going to be -- there are going to be some ups and downs.

But I am committed to making sure that our historic economic recovery reaches everyone. This time, reaches everyone and eases the burden on working families not just this year but for the years to come.

So thank you. God bless you. And may God protect our troops. Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: OK. The president obviously just finishing up his remarks there about his Build Back Better plan and making the pitch for the investments in the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

As well as this $3.5 trillion resolution that is expected to work its way through the Senate on a simply partisan, Democratic majority vote there.

He's making the case that it includes all these other facets that he says is necessary in order to make the economy stronger and improve the lives of so many people in this country, particularly the middle class when it comes to education, when it comes to childcare, when it comes to health care and so much more.

Again, the president making his case as legislatures, both the House and the Senate, continue to do their part. [13:59:52]

Thank you so much for being with us. I'll be back tomorrow at 1:00 Eastern. In the meantime, follow me on Twitter, @AnaCabrera.

The news continues now with Victor Blackwell.