tv Inside Politics CNN February 17, 2021 9:00am-10:00am PST
and call pg&e right after so we can both respond out and keep the public safe. > hello to our viewers in the united states and around the world. and welcome to "inside politics." i'm john king in washington. thank you for sharing your day with us. the biden covid response team just wrapped a new briefing, new infections, hospitalizations and deaths all trending down and significantly so. but supply issues and now punishing winter weather are complicating the urgent goal of accelerating the covid vaccine rollout. >> the weather's having an impact, it's having an impact on distribution and deliveries. there are certain parts of the
country, texas being one of them, where vaccination sites are understandably closed. >> getting more covid vaccine shots into arms asap is just one of many important promises the new president made in a cnn town hall last night. go big on stimulus was the biden mantra. yes, to supporting a $15 minimum wage. but the new president says he's open to listening to small business worries. no to de-funding the police. and no to telling his justice department who it should and should not prosecute. yes the president says to a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. four weeks in, last night was a telling look at the new president's communication style, not long before joe biden took the milwaukee stage, his predecessor unleashed a trademark rant insulting the senate republican leader mitch mcconnell as weak and as inept. biden made clear that to him trump is he who shall not be named, and definitely he who must not be emulated.
decency and respect are back in the west wing, back in west wing style the new president promised. and he drew approval from the audience when he said the american people deserve more attention than their president. goal one of the town hall was to sell his big covid relief package. the president repeatedly touted its pieces, unemployment aid, small business help, grace for those behind on their rent or mortgage. but he rarely made specific appeals for votes in congress or for americans to pick on the phone and nudge their lawmakers. the president's empathy took center stage, including when he calmed the nerves of an 8-year-old girl worrying about the virus. and last night the president gave new benchmarks on three pressing pandemic questions. >> by the end of july we'll have over 600 million doses, enough to vaccinate every single american. >> so when do you think that would be k-8, five days a week? >> i think we'll be close to that at the end of the first
hundred days. a year from now, i think that there will be significantly fewer people having to be socially distanced, have to wear masks. but we don't know. so i don't want to overpromise anything here. >> you heard the president right there saying he doesn't want to overpromise. but he is a bit more optimistic because the numbers are getting better, with some important caveats. number one, you look at the state-by-state trend. we talked about how orange and red is horrible. green means trending in the right direction. 45 states now trending down. fewer covid infections now compared to the data one week ago. green is what you want on this map. 45 states heading down. two steady. three heading in the wrong direction, forgive me for tapping on that there. you look at this. this red line diving down. that is exactly what you want. again, diving from a horrific starting point of way up here, the winter peak. but coming down now 62,398 new infections reported across the united states yesterday. you see it up at the top.
five straight days now of being below 100,000 new infections. the case count heading in the right direction. when the case count heads down, hospitalizations head down, it's a lagging indicate are yo. but, finally, the death trend also trending down. 1,756 americans dying of covid yesterday. every one of them one too many. but you see from 3,000 and 4,000 finally this number starting to head in the right direction. the challenge is to keep it going that way. this still, it is numbing to see. we ended uchl yesterday at 488,000 american deaths. 500,000 in the not too distant future. that's raleigh, north carolina, kansas city, missouri, wiped out by the covid pandemic. horrific even as the numbers continue to get a little bit better. now, if you look at the vaccine map right now, this is the percentages you see here, the percent of the population that is fully vaccinated. it takes two doses of the vaccine to be fully vaccinated. 71, almost 72 million doses distributed. 55.2 million administered.
you see alaska 8.3% fully vaccinated. west virginia 8% fully vaccinated. most states in the 3 and 4%. some pushing up toward 5 and 6 as we watch the vaccine rollout play out. this is incredible. the biden team is making progress, no doubt. is it enough? the public health experts have a debate. but if you go back to beginning of january when the president took office, it was about 900,000 doses a day. they are now past 1.7 million daily doses in the united states. one thing the experts are cautious about right now is they say thisser's getting more. more americans are getting a vaccine or they will get one in the days or weeks, for some, still a couple months ahead. dr. walensky saying do not bet on a vaccine to keep driving the case count down. wear your mask and keep your distance. >> you are not at the place where we believe that the current level of vaccination is what is driving down the current level of disease. we believe that much of the surge of disease happened related to the holidays, related
to travel. if you're relying on our current level of vaccination rather than the other mitigation efforts to get us to remain low, that we shouldn't rest in that comfort. >> one thing to come out of that new covid briefing from the biden team is a new big investment for testing. let's bring in our cnn medical correspondent elizabeth cohen for the details. elizabeth, walk us through it. >> john, this money will hopefully make a difference in two different ways. the biden administration says they are giving hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars for two kinds of testing. and we want to talk about these separately so we don't confuse them. the first kind of testing is the covid testing we've all known for the better part of a year now. and that is to tell you whether or not you have covid or not. $650 million to schools and underserved population to improve testing there. and 800 million for manufacturing and supplies of
these tests. and then there's the second kind of testing. and that is once you know you have covid, do you have one of these new variants, or do you have the older type of covid? do you have a variant or do you not have a variant? and that's about 200 million. and here's why they're doing this. let's take a look at where we are right now with genomic testing. right now the u.s. ranks 33rd in the world in the amount of genomic testing that we're doing. you want to do as much as you can. and we rank 33rd. we rank behind rwanda, uganda, sierra leon, and there is no reason for that. so hopefully this $200 million will work. and the hope is that instead of doing about 7,000 genomic sequencing samples a week in the u.s., it'll get up to something like 25,000. john? >> let's just hope just to see that graphic is stunning why is the united states of america so far behind testing.
the top white house goal for last night's cnn town hall was turning questions from everyday americans into answers that made the case for the president's big coronavirus relief package. but it took 23 minutes for the president to specifically mention the legislation. >> it is estimated that if we pass this bill alone, we'll create 7 million jobs this year. look at all the people. you have over 10 million people unemployed. we need unemployment insurance. we need to make sure that we have 40% of the children in america, talk about food shortage. >> with us to share her reporting and her insights our chief political correspondent dana bash. it was interesting, fascinating to watch. the first time he's gone out in the country, first official trip as president, completely different from his predecessor in how he communicates. and it was interesting to watch. i took note that he didn't specifically mention the bill
until anderson asked him about it 23 minutes in. i found that odd because i remember bill clinton and george w. bush, you're asking people to call your congressmen. biden, the longtime senator, that seems an afterthought to him, more like i'm going to do that on the phone with the senators. my deal here is to talk to you. >> it's not as if his administration, his top aides and he didn't want to sell it. but he clearly went out with a goal first and foremost to connect to the people he was talking to, and to genuinely answer the questions that they have. i mean, one woman asked a question about her personal story and in classic biden form he started to answer and then said i'll see you afterwards, i'm going to see if i can help you. that is constituent services but senator biden style, which is now carrying on to president biden style. but you're absolutely right that it is noteworthy that he didn't hit people over the head with the sales pitch for the
legislation. i think that's also in large part because it's quite delicate right now within the democratic party. he's not -- i mean, certainly he would love to get republican votes, but they're not banking on it by any stretch of the imagination. now it's about negotiations with moderate democrats mostly in the senate and progressive democrats mostly in the house. >> i want to come back to some of the details on that, the internal democratic maneuvering he has to do. but the biggest question out there in america, one of the biggest questions, certainly a question we could say comes up at this table is when can my kids go back to school? the president made his case last night, and the vice president this morning trying to echo that. >> is it safe for them? >> well, i think that we have to decide if we can put in place safe measures. this is why it's so important we pass the american rescue plan. why does this connect with what we're talking about right now? it's going to be safer for our
schools to reopen when we can get our schools the infrastructure needed, like helping them with their ventilation systems, helping them create social distancing with barriers. >> it is fascinating. again, a new team to watch them go through how complicated that is. that started with vice president harris talking about trying to move teachers up the priority list when it comes to vaccinations. then you hear her talk about the president's relief package and money for ventilation and spacing kids out in school. there's nothing congress can pass in march. it just takes a while for the money to get into the pipeline. but they are wrestling with this idea of more federal engagement on the issues, yes. but you can't tell a governor to pressure schools. you can't make a mayor deal with a teachers union to get kids back to school so they can push a nudge but they don't have as much control as they'd like. >> and that's one issue that the proposed budget within the new plan that the biden administration wants to make law
has such a huge amount of money for schools. it's even bigger i believe than the department of education budget. and the reason for that is many fold, but one of the primary ones is that schools are funded in this country generally locally. and we know by state and local taxes in that way, not by the federal government. and that is also the case largely with policy. in this particular situation, what the biden administration is bumping into is their promise throughout the whole campaign and then now to let science lead the way. well, science is not affirmative on this, but for the most part studies say it is safe to let your kids go back to school. if you're going to let science leaded way, then you have to really do it even if it means you're going to make some people uncomfortable. >> let's go back to the washington conversation. he was asked last night do you
support a $15 minimum wage. he said yes. he also said he understands the concerns of small businesses and we should talk this out, and if it happens it should be gradual. he was asked directly by a young woman, would you use your executive power to erase up to $55,000 in student debt. politicians like to please people. he said no. he would do up to $10,000 and believe the rest of that money is better spent on other things. already some blowback here in washington. you can see a tweet from senator elizabeth warren who said that she and chuck schumer have a plan and that the president should do it. this is difficult because they have four votes to spare, five votes to spare in the house, no votes to spare in the senate. a little blowback. >> but this to me is one of the most fascinating political stories that came out of our town hall last night. and it is because everybody in this equation is doing something that could actually benefit them politically. joe biden benefits from pushing back against progressives every once in a while if he's trying to make headway across the aisle
on other issues. and chuck schumer, who has put out a statement just an hour ago, not even, with elizabeth warren, it benefits him to say i want to give the $50,000 forgiveness in debt. he is worried about a primary challenge in his home state of new york. and one of the people who was talked most about for that is aoc. she is on the forefront of pushing for the student loan forgiveness. there are so many different dynamics here that this is actually a fight that helps each of them even though it looks messy, it helps each of them in their own way. >> internal democratic party chess. dana is going to stay with us. up next, the president says he's tired of talking about his predecessor. he attempts now to pivot a conversation away from trump. first though, president biden tries the personal touch at last night's town hall. >> my mother would say god bless you, son, no purgatory for you.
with hassle-free claims, he got paid before his neighbor even got started. because doing right by our members, that's what's right. usaa. what you're made of, we're made for. ♪ usaa ♪ the former guy, that is one term president biden used last night to talk about the predecessor he clearly prefers not to talk about. >> for four years, all that's been in the news is trump. the next four years i want to make sure all that's in the news is the american people. i'm tired of talking about trump. [ applause ] >> now the president was not entirely successful. there were a few specific mentions of his predecessor, mr. trump. and then there was this. when asked if he is in contact with the former presidents. >> all of them have, with one exception, picked up the phone and called me as well. [ laughter ]
>> i know you don't want to talk about him. [ laughter ] >> no. but, look, it's the greatest honor i think an american can be given from my perspective. and i literally pray that i have the capacity to do for the country what you all deserve need be done. >> dana bash is still with us. again, right there, just the striking contrast, the humility at the end from president biden, something we didn't see for four years from his predecessor, just about how honored he was to serve at the white house. how he felt self-conscious when the stewards and other people who work at the white house tried to help him with his jacket or bring him something. and the approach to trump, in
biden's way, preferably, he who shall not be named. but you can't do it all the time. >> you can't do it all the time. a there were certainly a lot of very lengthy rambling answers he gave. this was the sound bite he was prepared to give. whether it was something that he came up with or his aides or both. he was prepared to give this when the inevitable question started coming about his predecessor, especially impeachment. and it also has a benefit of being true and being a multilayered response, because, a, it just allows him to pivot. but, b, he's speaking to people include jeff zeleny's reporting from wisconsin yesterday was fabulous. and are willing to give joe biden time to shine and time to do what he promised to do. >> and so one of the things we did see, and count me as one of the people early on in the democratic primary as sceptic
that this was biden's time. but he proved that, to your point, that people were looking for something different. people in the middle of a pandemic were looking for somebody, maybe a little grandfatherly at time, the one thing we did see throughout the primaries and we saw again last night in the town hall from biden was empathy. >> if you're willing, i'll stay around after this is over, and maybe we can talk a few minutes and see if i can get you some help. if there's any angels in heaven, they're all nurses, male and female, you're wonderful. thank you for what you do. but don't be scared, honey. don't be scared. you're going to be fine. and we're going to make sure mommy is fine, too. >> you're right. you touched on this a bit earlier. that stuff resonates with real people. we have conversations in washington. he gave a few answers. and it wasn't quite sure if and when he was ever going to come out of some policy explanation. but that stuff matters when you tell a little girl with her mom standing right there or when you tell a mom who's having trouble getting a vaccine for her kid
who has health issues stay, i'll get you some help. that matters. >> it does matter. and it is so completely different in approach and in every way than what we saw over the past four years. and, look, those moments, whether -- as you said, voted for joe biden or didn't, they're relatable. especially for parents and for children. there was a 9-year-old we both know who was up past his bed time watching that moment last night and actually looked up and felt reassured because he, like so many other kids across the country, are really freaked out about covid. >> one other thing that came up is that, look, he had a lot of empathy. they have had some hiccups. it's a new team taking over -- it's always hard taking over an aircraft carrier. there has been some confusion on when will kids get back in school.
the president made clear his staff made a mistake. listen. str administration had set a open t majory of m hools inous days. g thatg nsat thosmaonlyly >> no, that's not ay a wee that's what was reported. that's not there was a mistake in the communication.un a mistake in t communication. so not singling anybody out by name. o need to understand, number one, we have towe give tm some grace. it's 29 days. but, number two, they ran saying the trump people don't know how to run a government, we do. the trump people are not competent, we are. on issues of when can you back the school, when can you get a vaccine. again, we don't need to be gratuitous about it, but they need to be more steady in how they communicate information. >> they screwed up and he pretty much admitted that, which was another thing we didn't hear for four years admitting mistakes. that doesn't answer the question of what exactly is their policy right now, which is so important to people everywhere.rewe d't r.
>> it dana bash, grateful for the reporting. former president trump hits back ripping into senator mitch mcconnell and exposing a real divide inside the republican party. and, as we go to break, the end of a trump era of a different sort, his atlantic city. the trump plaza hotel casino demolished today, 3,000 sticks of dynamite. it's been closed for seven years.
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donald trump is lashing out at the senate's top republican, reminding us personal insults are his weapon of choice, and that the republican party is now entering a strange and uncertain test of wills and of power. senator mitch mcconnell voted to acquit trump at the impeachment trial. but in a senate speech and then in interviews after that trial, he blamed the former president for the capitol insurrection and made clear he thinks the best future course for the gop is to leave mr. trump in the past. well, suffice to say the former president taking issue. this is just a piece of mr. trump's statement. mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack. if republican senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again. this is a big moment for o country, and we cannot let it pass by. now, don't bet on senate republicans dumping their leader. but the trump/mcconnell divide is a consequential dynamic now in a republican party full of
finger-pointing and dysfunction. unlike trump, mcconnell prefers, with some notable exceptions, to do awkward family business in private, as the "new york times" notes today, what mr. mcconnell has not done though is openly declare political war on mr. trump in the fashion that the former president did to him on tuesday while telling associates he knew he would have to oppose the former president in some primaries next year, he had hoped to unify his caucus by turning attention to mr. biden. with us to share her reporting and her insights, white house correspondent for the "new york times." magee, you see trademark trump and trademark mcconnell so far. this is great political theater. it's great political drama. the worry for republicans is it also could have significant impact as they try to recruit candidates for 2022 and figure out how to deal with this new territory and the new president. >> that's exactly right. look, john, it sets up these two polls within the party. one is mcconnell. and to be clear, while mcconnell has not openly said i'm at war
with donald trump, he has walked right up to that line, and he's a very smart political tactician and he knows donald trump well at this point. he knew that he was going to provoke a reaction with what he said. i don't know that he thinks it's bad for him to have provoked this reaction from donald trump. but you are setting up this divide within the party that i think was inevitable because donald trump was going to try to find a way to keep himself relevant. i do think mcconnell will be a much more dominant figure certainly in the senate caucus in terms of trying to recruit candidates. i'm not sure what kind of recruitment donald trump is going to do, but i think his ability to make news, to get attention, how long he's able to do that is going to have an impact on republicans' ability to move past him, which is something mcconnell clearly wants but not what a majority of republican voters want. >> i'm sorry, we have to cut this conversation short because breaking news, the conservative radio icon rush limbaugh passed
away after a long battle with wife cancer. his wife announced his death just a short time ago. limbaugh was an original. he created an entire industry with his voice, his brash, and his often inflammatory opinions. >> a pioneer of conservative media and a deeply polarizing figure, rush limbaugh became the most prominent political radio host in modern american history. >> we make the complex understandable, and we do it in a way that makes you love your country, not hate it. >> he started as a top 40 dj. >> my program exclusively designed for rich conservatives and right-minded republicans. but shifted to am talk radio in the '80s. eventually expanding to more than 600 radio stations. fans cheered his brazen style. while critics blasted him for
racist, sexist, and other offensive speech. he accused actor michael j. fox of exaggerating his parkinson's symptoms. >> he is moving all around and shaking, and it's purely an act. [ chanting] >> and he insulted a college student who advocated for access to birth control. >> it makes her a slut, right? makes her a prostitute. >> after sponsors dropped his show, limbaugh apologized for that one. >> i again sincerely apologize to ms. luke for using those two words to describe her. >> in 2003, his stint as an nfl commentator on espn lasted only four weeks. he resigned in the face of public outcry after saying that donovan mcnabb was overrated because of his race. but limbaugh's popularity survived all the controversies as well as his own personal struggles. in 2001 he suffered hearing loss from an autoimmune disease. two years later he admitted a drug problem.
>> i am addicted to prescription pain medication. >> limbaugh was arrested for doctor shopping in 2006, but went to rehab and the charge was dropped. through it all, he remained a hero to the right, defending republicans from what he said was the bias liberal media. radio executives praised his storytelling abilities and his broadcasting talent. limbaugh was a gop kingmaker and a close ally of president trump with a direct line to the white house. >> i just received clearance. the president has gotten word to me that he is either getting, funding for the border or he's shutting the whole thing down. >> in 2020, president trump awarded limbaugh the medal of freedom at the state of the union. >> in recognition of all that you have done for our nation, the millions of people a day
that you speak to and that you inspire. >> a day before, limbaugh announced that he had been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, and he spoke directly to his radio audience. >> over the years a lot of people have been very nice telling me how much this program has meant to them. but whatever that is, it palls in comparison to what you all have meant to me. >> whose legacy will always symbolize division. >> let's bring in our chief media correspondent brian stelter who produced that fabulous obituary. brian, there are just so many ways to describe rush limb about you -- limbaugh. he just remained an icon and a presence because of the power of his voice and his ability to overcome those significant struggles, as you noted. >> yes, absolutely. and he was on the air for about a year after announcing his lung
cancer diagnosis. it was february of last year that he shared that news with his audience. he was on the air pretty much all throughout the election taking brief breaks because of his cancer treatments. he was on the air as recently as february 2nd. and for the past twoeeks he has been on the air which caused growing concern among his fans as they were fearing that this was the end of limbaugh's life his home page now proclaims "in loving memory of rush, the greatest of all time." and that is very much how he will be remembered in right-wing media and by millions of fans who listened to him every day. in the obituary we're talking about the many controversies and scandals in his career, many others. but you think about the daily relationship he had with listeners, and that is really what rush limbaugh was about, that daily relationship talking to people who were driving in their cars, turning on the radio at noon eastern time every day in their homes wanting to hear from him every afternoon. the content was very polarizing.
i would argue often times it was all about grievance culture making conservatives out to be the victims. yet he had an incredible connection to his fan base with those daily themes day in, day out. it's that kind of connection that made him the most prominent broadcaster in right-wing radio for decades, john. >> and so the question is rush was a survivor. and to your point when i was not an in-studio person, i was driving across the country covering politics especially in the heartland. you stop and talk to people. and they would say, but rush said, or they would repeat things they heard on the radio as you drive across the country. so the impact, whether you agree or disagree, is unmistakable. the question now is, again, with our business in constant transition, is there a replacement for rush, or is the talk radio piece of it fading as things become more digital and cable? >> i think in some ways rush limbaugh was able to defy gravity. he was able to defy radio
gravity because his program was still a must-listen at a time when radio has been under increasing challenges. will there be a replacement for him on the radio? yes. president trump's name has been mentioned. others as well. but i noticed in the past two weeks reading comments from rush's fans, feeling like the fill-ins were not nearly as trong as him. it is a very, very difficult challenge for the company that runs his radio show. and by the way his radio show was the foundation for hundreds of local radio stations all across the country. sometimes liberals would say to me, rush limbaugh, he is a damaging force in the united states, we must be stopped. and my reaction in those conversations would be to say learn from him, go and listen to his show, see what he does that is so appealing to his listeners. and then if you're a liberal activist, you can go try to do it better. if you're a progressive advocate, go try to do it
better. but the point is there are lessons to be learned from rushlum baufd. some of them are about there were times where he was crass, ugly, indecent. and i'm not saying those are lessons to be learned from his radio show. but he also was able to forge connections with his listeners and give people a reason to come back every day. there were those sorts of skills that i would argue can be learned from rush and from his career. and those are some of the reasons why this is a massive loss for the republican party, for the conservative movement, because he was an icon for the party. >> brian stelter, grateful for the reporting and insights on this day. again, rushlum baufd dead at the age of 70, pioneer on talk radio at the age of 70. we'll be right back. ♪ age-related macular degeneration may lead to severe vision loss.
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we all know politicians like to please people. so it was striking last night when president biden chose to say no. erasing student debt is a huge issue with many progressives in congress and with a wisconsin voter who got a chance at the town hall last night to ask a question. >> we need student loan forgiveness beyond the potential $10,000 your administration has proposed. we need at least a $50,000 minimum. what will you do to make that happen? >> i will not make that happen. i am prepared to write off a
$10,000 debt but not 50 because i don't think i have the authority to do it. >> the pushback was immediate. this is wrong, says congresswoman alexandria ocasio-cortez. we can and should do it, keep pushing. and not so coincidentally from the senate majority leader chuck schumer as well. the biden administration has said they're reviewing options canceling up to $50,000. senator warren and i are confident they'll agree with obama and trump standards and experts who say the administration has the authority to deliver relief. democratic congressman richie torres of new york is a member of the congressional caucus. congressman, grateful for your time today. you ran on this issue. you thought it was very important that the government help out younger americans, especially now in the pandemic who are dealing with this crushing debt. the new president says no, i'll do 10,000, and i'm willing to then rewrite the rules to make it maybe easier, better standards for paying off
additional debt. but he thinks the money should be better spent on helping disadvantaged children, for example. what do you say? >> it's a pleasure to be with you, john. i have enormous respect for president biden. he has the legal authority to cancel up to $50,000 in student debt. what is lacking is the political will. there is a $1.7 trillion debt burden weighing heavily on 43 million households across america. it's an enormous burden. student debt has a distorting and destructive impact on some of our most important choices. the decision about when to buy a home, when to open a business, when to have a family and get married and have children. all of those critical life choices are delayed and distorted by the overhang of student debt. furthermore, according to the federal reserve, students on average pay somewhere between $20,300 every month toward their student debt loan. so if we were to cancel student debt, it would be the equivalent of sending the average student a
$300 check. it's the only form of economic stimulus that can be enacted by executive order. >> you heard him last night you say a lack of political will. i think his answer would be, no, it's a different political priority. he believes some of that money would be better spent somewhere else. at least somebody with a college education would ultimately be able to do that as opposed to funneling money to disadvantaged children. when you say lack of political will, what should progressives do about it? how aggressive should you be in standing up to your new president at this moment? >> look, it's a respectful disagreement, and it's worth noting that there's more agreement than disagreement within the democratic party. but i worry that we're creating a false choice where none exists. many of the students in the south bronx are single mothers who both have children and are paying student debt. if we cancel student debt for those single mothers, it means putting more money in their pockets which allows them to pay the rent, pay the bills, sustain their families.
so this student debt cancelation is a form of economic stimulus that will strengthen families that are struggling during covid-19. i worry that we're creating a conflict where none exists. >> you're new to congress, but we live in this world where you have a new democratic president, you have four or five votes to spare where you serve in the house of representatives, democrats have a very narrow majority. there are no votes to spare for democrats when you move over to the united states senate. last night at the town hall, president biden was quite clear. he says i don't want to de-fund the police, i want to give police more money and training. but he says no to de-funding police. he says yes i'm for raising the minimum wage but he's made clear he's willing to negotiate a transition period, and he's also made clear that might disappear in the covid relief plan over in the senate. just give me the right word here. i don't want to create a fight that doesn't exist. level of tension, level of uncertainty, a level of what between progressives and a more centrist democratic president. >> i'm not clear that there's an
ideological difference. the president is committed to a $15 minimum wage. my position that we cannot allow nor should we allow a few conservative democrats to veto the priorities and preferences of most democrats in the democratic conference. we promised the american people a $15 million minimum wage. we have an obligation to keep our promise. according to the cbo a $15 minimum wage would lift 900,000 people out of poverty, it would raise incomes for 17 million americans. our essential workers who are often paid poverty wages, put their lives at risk during the peak of the pandemic. we owe it to our essential workers to pay them a wage that recognizes and respects the essential role that they play in the american economy. >> it's fascinating moment. i'm sure for you to be a new democrat in the congress at this time of narrow majorities and issues. grateful for your time today. >> always a pleasure. take care.
up next, johnson & johnson now asking the government to approve its covid vaccine. but if you think that would make a big dent in the vaccine rollout, think again. the delicious taste of glucerna gives you the sweetness you crave while helping you manage your blood sugar. with nutrients to help support immune health.
everyone will have access to a covid-19 vaccine. we're now learning that the initial supply of the johnson & johnson vaccine will be well slort of what was expected. the government was expecting 20 to 30 million doses by april. it now expects 10 million. doctor mcclellan, it's great to see you. this goes back to "operation warp speed." you signed contracts with all of these companies you say produced your vaccine. even if it doesn't work we have it in a warehouse so that we have those that do work and we can get them out. what was the mixup here? >> john, i'm not sure that there was a mixup. i know people are talking about that right now. i also know that j&j is absolutely committed to delivering on its 100 million doses by june with millions of doses starting in march. so hopefully they will get those exact numbers worked out in the near future. remember, before that can happen, j&j needs to get its vaccine reviewed by the fda and
an independent advisory board at a public meeting coming up at the end of february. and then all of those manufacturing plants need to be certified on that same time line to be safe and able to do the doses effectively. so hopefully all of that's going to get sorted out. but if you look ahead to march, john, we are on track to deliver tens if not close to 100 million doses of vaccines between j&j if approved, pfizer, moderna, their supplies are increasing, we're getting the capacity to do close to 2 million doses per day now. that is going to go up significantly. so i think we can still beat that july time frame that the president laid out if we really ramp up our capacity to deliver all the vaccines that are available, when the it's j&j, moderna, or pfizer. >> well, in the case of j&j, whether to bring online somehow
another production line or help with syringes or vials or something that would help j&j speed up? >> it's hard to do that in the short run. i know a lot of those conversations are going on with a firm commitment from the administration accelerate production. i think what you're going to see and what people should be expecting is that vaccines are going to be more and more available, not just over the next couple of weeks but especially if the j&j vaccine is approved soon after that public advisory committee meeting at the end of february. so there will be a lot of options, and our main focus needs to be on how can we get more shots in arms. we're at close to 2 million shots in arms per day right now even with the bad weather and so on. hopefully we can get that up to 3 million or beyond in march. and that means working with pharmacies. it means working with health care. it means working with public health, really expanding what we've been able to do so far. >> let me ask you in closing. if you were still involved in government, when people are
debating priorities and these are legitimate debates. the vulnerable first in line for vaccine. people with other conditions get in line for vaccine. should teachers be bumped up you can get kids back into school. would you recommend that? >> i think teachers and other front line workers are definitely priorities. i'm also concerned about workers in grocery stores and elsewhere where we have seen infections occur. and they've been on the front lines since the beginning of the pandemic coming to work every day. and i think, john that, goes back to my earlier point. we can make these processes easier if we keep focusing on ramping up how many shots we can do per day, states are getting ready for it, the supply is going to keep coming, especially if the j&j vaccine is approved to where we could get to potentially 3 million shots per day. and that's going to make it a lot easier to vaccinate everybody who wants it, whether they're a front line worker, a teacher, or a person in one of the other high-risk groups. >> i hope your optimism turns
out to be true and the acceleration continues at a decent pace right now. dr. mark mcclellan, grateful for your time and your insights. thank you very much. and thank you for your time on "inside politics." busy news day. please stay with us. brianna keilar picking up our coverage right now. have a good afternoon. held ylo, i'm brianna keila. right now the biden administration is facing a critical moment in the urgent fight against the coronavirus pandemic. the launch of the first vaccine under the biden administration is hitting significant obstacles. the rollout of johnson & johnson's vaccine, this is the first big one that requires just a single dose, will be much slower than expected because of miscommunication. a short time ago, the white house covid-19 response team addressing the issue. >> i want to be clear that johnson & johnson ha