Axios (2018) s04e03 Episode Script

Season 4, Episode 3

Washington, D.
Vice President Kamala Harris / backstage with the VP On February 10th, Vice President Kamala Harris held a virtual meeting with Black mayors to discuss the administration's response to the pandemic.
For too long during this pandemic, cities and states were left hanging.
This is a reality.
You've been left hanging.
The pandemic is a national problem, and it demands a national solution.
After the event, Axios co-founder Mike Allen had the opportunity for a quick conversation with the vice president.
- Yeah.
- Madame Vice President.
Mike, how are you? It's been a long time.
Thank you for visiting with Axios on HBO.
Oh, we have cameras and everything.
Of course.
Okay, hi.
- So are we distant enough? - I think we're good.
- Oh, you mean in terms of the masks? - Not distant enough for the masks.
Madame Vice President, you're just coming out of a COVID event.
And there was knowing laughter from the White House staff when somebody talked about you driving them hard on this issue.
What have you found you personally can do? I think we're all doing it, right? We're doing it as a team.
Which is challenging ourselves to do as much as possible, which requires always a question: Can we do more? Can we do more? Where is there capacity to do more? Because the suffering is so immense in terms of both the public health crisis, the number of people who have died, the number of people who contracted it, and the economic crisis.
And we're looking at 12 million households that are describing hunger in their household.
We're looking at 15 million people in America who can't pay their rent.
We're looking at at least 11 million small businesses, and folks that are unemployed.
So we are in the midst of a hurricane that is still raging, which requires each one of us who's in a position of leadership to ask constantly, "Are we doing enough?" You're coming up on a month in.
You're inside the machine.
What are you finding is harder about the pandemic? How are you finding the hole is deeper? The challenge Mike, is, what I explained to the mayors.
There's no stockpile, right? It's in many ways - No stockpile of? - Of vaccines, right? There was no national strategy or plan for vaccinations.
We were leavin' it to the states and local leaders to try and figure it out.
And so in many ways, we're starting from scratch on something that's been raging for almost an entire year.
And that's So are you having to adjust your sights now of what's possible given that? And to challenge that everything is possible.
We've gotta figure out a way.
That has to be our standard.
Our standard has to be, "Everything is possible, but we're gonna have to work like heck to get it done.
" Which means again, no patience, no patience for delay, no patience for no, no patience for "It can't be done.
" That's how I feel about it.
And maybe that's why everybody was laughing.
'Cause sometimes I express that kind of emotion in meetings.
I'm sorry, but we gotta go.
Can I do a penultimate question real quick? Every vice president has a signature issue.
Vice President Cheney had the war on terror.
Vice President Pence had Space Force.
What's yours? Makin' sure Joe Biden is a success.
How are you doing, as Mayor Potts would say? It's three weeks in, Mike.
Give me a break.
- Sorry, Mike.
We gotta go.
- We'll talk again.
Just quick on the way out.
Did Vice President Pence leave you a note? - He did.
- How was it? Thank you.
Axios on HBO learned that former VP Mike Pence's note wished Vice President Harris the best for her own success and said the job had been the honor of a lifetime.
Puerto Rico / state of mind Axios headquarters ARLINGTON, VA For 62 years, there's been 50 stars on the flag.
And soon, there could be 51 because of Puerto Rico.
Statehood for Puerto Rico in Democratic politics has been one of the biggest issues.
Now, they have President Biden, who is for it.
When Democrats sealed their control of the Senate, they were like, "Now's our chance.
" Essentially, the clocking is ticking.
And what is Puerto Rico facing? Still trying to recover from Hurricane Maria, earthquakes, power outs, crippling debts.
That's gonna be the argument against it.
It would be the poorest state.
But also, Republicans believe it's gonna be a blue state.
Governor Pierluisi, who is the governor of Puerto Rico, huge advocate of statehood, recently won kind of a narrow election but is pushing it hard.
He wants to talk to a mainland audience and convince politicians, voters in America that he's someone to trust and the territory deserves to be number 51 after Hawaii, the first since 1959.
La Fortaleza SAN JUAN, PR - Can I remove this? - Yes, please.
If you don't mind, I'm gonna set mine here.
Well, it's good to be with you.
So what's your elevator pitch for why Puerto Rico should achieve statehood now in 2021 when it's been talked about for years and years? Well, the difference now is that the people of Puerto Rico unquestionably voted for statehood last November.
You now have that vote, and Congress is morally obligated to respond.
So you would feel more seen by the federal government? Oh, definitely.
Puerto Ricans would feel more seen and taken care of than they do now.
President Biden himself, he supports statehood.
He says that's the best way or ideal way of dealing with this inequality.
In a New York Times op-ed that you wrote in 2015, you wrote, quote, "Puerto Rico's illness is a chronic condition.
" You cited the island's unemployment rate, poverty rate, and median household income.
I'm curious if you still believe that to be the case.
Well, actually, we need a game changer in Puerto Rico.
And one game changer would be that we get equal treatment in key federal programs.
For example, earned income tax credits.
If we talk about health, it is unconscionable, the treatment that Puerto Rico has been getting in the Medicaid program.
We're American citizens.
And why this disparate treatment? If you move to Puerto Rico tomorrow, just by moving to Puerto Rico you will not be able to vote for the president.
You will not have congressional representation with a vote.
Enough of this.
But being able to vote doesn't mean that the federal government will be able to magically pull Puerto Rico out of its current situation.
I think of a place like New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
It took years and years and years.
You can have a state that is poorly managed by its public officials and it doesn't do well.
Statehood is not panacea.
Of course we have to do better.
But there's no question that having two senators and four representatives in Congress batting for us when needed would make a difference.
Do you think they would be all Democrats? - That's what Republicans say.
- No, I don't.
This would probably be a swing state and we would definitely in my view, have a mixed delegation, congressional delegation.
- It would probably lean Democratic.
- You say a swing state.
Do you think it would be similar to a state like Florida then? Yes, definitely.
The U.
could be expanding by admitting Puerto Rico into the union.
It would be telling the world that it is embracing diversity because this would be a truly, completely Hispanic state.
You were at President Biden's inauguration.
I was so proud.
Were you at all nervous about showing up after what you saw happen at the Capitol on January 6th? Well not really.
I remember when I was a member of Congress I went to Kabul, Afghanistan and Kandahar.
And I said to myself, "If I went to Afghanistan in the middle of the war, but of course that I'll go to Congress.
" But remarkable that your brain makes a link between going to the United States Capitol and being in Afghanistan.
That's what passed through my mind.
Some say that for four years former President Trump deliberately punished the island.
I'm curious if you think that the Trump administration's fears about corruption in Puerto Rico were overblown.
Yes, they were.
They were using it as an excuse or a pretext for not actually responding as they should have.
You mentioned President Biden supports s statehood for Puerto Rico.
Have you talked with him directly about this issue? In the past.
Not recently.
Not since he got elected.
What about other folks from the Biden-Harris administration? My principal point of contact at the moment is Julie Chávez Rodríguez.
Apart from her, Alejandro Mayorkas, the current secretary of homeland security called me.
And he said publicly that that was the first call he made to any governor after being sworn in into his office.
What do you make of that? They're very much intent on correcting the discrimination that we have faced.
Sometimes they might say, "We're just imposing these requirements on Puerto Rico to avoid corruption.
" It is really an excuse.
We've had corruption in Puerto Rico.
I'm not downplaying it.
We have zero tolerance for corruption in Puerto Rico.
But it's comparable to what you've seen in the states in places like Illinois, like New York.
You have speaker of the house in New York, you have governor of Illinois incarcerated.
Think of it.
In Puerto Rico it we've never gotten to that level.
Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez is of course arguably maybe the most prominent Puerto Rican member of Congress.
Because she's not supportive outright of statehood in the same way you are and her bill does call for self-determination I'm curious if you think that hurts your movement to achieve statehood.
I would love to have her support, and I don't rule out convincing her to join me in the way that I'm approaching this.
What I anticipate is that there'll be considerable support for a statehood bill in this Congress.
Do you have a sense of when that bill will be introduced in the House? I believe you'll see bills being introduced in the House at the latest by mid-March of this year.
So within a month.
- How do you know that? - Because I know.
I have spoken with Congressman Darren Soto, Jenniffer González Colón as well.
I have gotten calls from members of the Senate inquiring about this issue and exploring it.
When was the last time you got a call like that? Martin Heinrich just called me last week.
I'm curious what do you say to Puerto Ricans who worry about losing Puerto Rico's identity if the island becomes a state.
Diversity is happening all over.
Puerto Ricans will always be Puerto Ricans.
We'll be Puerto Rican Americans.
Being bilingual is beautiful.
Speaking more than one language is an asset for anybody.
So if anything, the challenge in Puerto Rico is to make sure that our population ends up being fluent in both Spanish and English.
For their well-being.
You make a great case for statehood for Puerto Rico.
But as we've discussed, there's been issues.
There's rampant poverty here unlike any state we have on the mainland.
What's your case to the U.
for why we should bring Puerto Rico in? If we approach it along those lines, then Florida should have never become a state.
New Mexico should have never become a state.
The same with Hawaii and Alaska.
You always aspire to become a state to do better.
Let's imagine a world in which there are 51 stars on the American flag and not 50.
Where does that 51st star go? And in your gut, is it for Puerto Rico or D.
? I don't want to compete with D.
I'm all for D.
So I just want the star.
I don't care about the number.
So long as it happens and it happens soon, I'll be more than pleased.
Governor Pierluisi, thank you so much for your time.
I really appreciate it.
Thank you.
Thank you.
Taking stock / the president of the New York Stock Exchange The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is the world's largest exchange, with listed companies worth around $30 trillion.
Robinhood and other online brokers that allow individual investors to make commission-free trades are transforming the way the NYSE and the stock market work.
New York, NY New York Stock Exchange - Hi Dan.
- Hey Stacey.
How you doin'? Good.
Good to see you.
Elbow bump.
- Guess we can de-mask it.
- Yes.
Feels strange to do.
Haven't done since I got to New York, I don't think.
Stacey, so let's talk a bit about the past few weeks or maybe before that.
So when everything starts happening with Gamestop, and AMC, and some of these other nostalgia stocks, your first reaction is "Oh, look.
That's interesting," or, "Uh-oh"? It's unusual.
You don't see stocks move that quickly normally.
So clearly something we wanted to investigate and look into.
So does that mean something from your perspective was wrong, either with the way the trading was working or with the social media activity? There was a fly in the ointment? My focus is to make sure the markets are functioning and operating properly.
Does Robinhood gamify investing in a way that it shouldn't? It's really important to recognize the value of having retail investors and a demographic that hasn't been actively engaged in the market get into the market.
But Robinhood is the place where so many people are getting on.
Is there enough education do you think on that platform versus the casino-like atmosphere that the app intentionally creates in a sense of, it doesn't look like, call your broker from 1985? It's a different thing.
Every individual investor needs to ensure that when they open a brokerage account that they understand the risks.
We as an industry need to make sure that that's robust enough.
It's also been talked about the idea of some sort of financial transaction tax.
I know you wrote in the Wall Street Journal recently you weren't thrilled about the prospect of that specifically in New York and said that were that to happen in New York City, New York Stock Exchange would consider leaving New York.
Really? Yeah, really.
And the reason why is financial transaction taxes don't work.
This isn't a tax that would be on the New York Stock Exchange activity or that the exchange itself would incur.
It would be applied back to the end customer.
Our customers are calling and saying, "Will you move if this happens?" Today's day and age, it's not about being close to our trading floor.
We can operate anywhere.
And we've seen that certainly in 2020.
It showed that people can operate from remote locations.
I also would be concerned about at a federal level.
This isn't just a state issue.
This tax has proved to other countries that have tried it to drive liquidity and to drive activity outside of their walls, outside of their borders.
Although there are various versions, and they're all different.
But there are versions of this in Hong Kong, in Singapore, in London.
They all have a pretty robust financial market.
Not as robust as the U.
But more robust than they did before they put them in.
Hong Kong's market is more robust now than before they put the tax in.
There are a number of examples of countries like France that introduced these taxes and saw a deterioration in their markets.
So if New York were to put one in, NYSE would consider leaving.
Where would it go? Are you going to Miami, to Texas? What stock exchange? I'll tell you, Dan.
My phone's been ringin'.
So I've had a lot of The mayor of Miami has kind of put out the red carpet.
For the past four or five months, I've gotten outreach from a number of different governors around the country.
So this is not something that we're just flippantly threatening.
I wouldn't say there's a frontrunner right now.
But certainly a tax-hospitable state is one that we're lookin' for.
If there were a federal one though, would the New York Stock Exchange leave the United States? When the NYSE was founded, New York was not the financial capital of the world.
When you look back through history, it was Amsterdam.
Then it was London.
And now, it's New York.
We shouldn't take for granted that our markets are always going to be the financial capital of the world.
Senator Warren said that, this is her quote.
"Investors big and small are treating the stock market like a casino," end quote.
So question: Are you operating the only legal casino in Manhattan? The markets are not a casino.
They are highly regulated and they're highly overseen.
Well, casinos are highly reg go to Vegas.
They are highly regulated.
They have pit bosses kinda like you do.
The house takes a cut, kinda like the exchange does.
- We don't take a cut of the investment.
- Well, no, no.
But there are fees.
To trade here, you make money based on the companies that are trading.
We are running a market that provides opportunities for investors to come in, invest in the companies they believe in, they believe that are gonna grow, and then share in that wealth creation.
And so that's the goal of the markets.
That's what made this country so great, is that a dreamer, an entrepreneur with an idea can start that business and grow it by getting others to invest and share in their success.
How do you explain to somebody most generally why the U.
stock markets have gone up so consistently for the last 11 months, to record highs, when the real economy has struggled so much? There is a lot of optimism that once we recover from this pandemic companies will be able to perform and continue to grow.
There was a feeling, the media narrative or even, say, maybe the social media narrative of the the Gamestop/Reddit saga was little guys finally getting one over on the big guys.
Was that a fair narrative? I think one thing that I've learned throughout my career is when you let somebody else tell the story, they come up with a crazy story.
That's what we see sometimes when people don't understand some of the elements of the market.
They assume that's not fair.
That said, there are opportunities that aren't available to everybody.
I think that's an important thing that we're trying to solve for by democratizing access to our markets.
But it's not getting one over on the big guys because there are a lot of players and individual investors that get hurt when stocks move quickly like that.
We must recognize, it's not just about the little guy versus the big guy.
Stacey, thank you very much for inviting us to your home today.
- Thanks for comin' in, Dan.
- Appreciate it.
Love in the time of COVID-19 / a conversation with Dr.
- Hi.
How are you? Thanks for taking the time with us.
Really appreciate it.
My pleasure.
It's the first Valentine's Day since the pandemic began.
So I wanted to start by asking you whether you and your wife have any big plans for Valentine's Day this year.
We're just gonna have a quiet dinner in my home, just the two of us, obeying the rules and the recommendations.
So it's gonna be a typical quiet Valentine's evening.
You might not have a lot of time to read the Urban Dictionary since you're trying to cure a pandemic and all, but there is actually a term in dating now called "Fauci-ing" someone.
- Do you know what that means? - No, what does it mean? It means cutting off a relationship if you don't think that other person is serious enough about social distancing and taking the pandemic seriously.
I'm gonna Fauci you.
It's a weird holiday, right? Because kissing someone's dangerous.
You can't hug anyone.
Going out to dinner is dangerous.
What are you supposed to do if you just started dating somebody if you're single, if you're trying to enjoy Valentine's Day? Is there such a thing as safe sex in the era of coronavirus? It seems almost ludicrous, but it really is an extraordinary stress on people at every level of life and every age.
It would be really frustrating to essentially semi-isolate yourself at a time when you're trying to explore social interactions with people.
That leads to a considerable amount of stress and maybe even depression on the part of some people.
It's been almost a year since the start of the pandemic.
And I'm wondering: What is the COVID scenario as you think about it now looking forward that worries you the most? January and December were the two worst months we've had in the entire year.
And the number of cases were between 300,000 and 400,000 per day.
The number of deaths were between 3,000 and 4,000 per day.
That's stunning, to have that amount of suffering and death with any disease.
It's historic quite frankly, worse than anything we've had in 102 years.
But we're also gonna be challenged by the appearance of variants or mutants that have appeared, some of which have a functional influence on how we're gonna respond to them.
Fortunately, others are well covered by the vaccine, but not all of them.
Is that the nightmare scenario, that the variants surpass the vaccine, that people stop taking COVID seriously 'cause they see the numbers come down, and then get walloped with a variant that isn't as easy to manage? That is a possibility.
You don't want people to become complacent.
We still have a long way to go.
And even though things are going in the right direction, we still might have a stumbling block coming with the appearance of variants that would dominate the picture.
We're about to see millions of people get a first and then a second shot.
And I know you're getting ready to release some new guidelines on how people can act once they've had the two shots.
Can you preview any of that for us? A guideline came out from the CDC just yesterday that if a person is vaccinated and then for the next three months if they come into contact with someone who is documented to be infected, they don't have to go into quarantine the way we used to have to do it.
What about two people who are fully vaccinated? What kind of activity can they have? Do they still need to wear masks near each other? Can they hug? Can I have my daughter come down from Boston, who I haven't seen in a very long time? Can I sit down and have a dinner with her without worrying about spreading infection? Can I give her a big hug the way I'd like to? I think the answer ultimately will likely be yes to that, but I think we'll wait to see what the recommendations show.
We're sitting down with you after you met with President Biden at the NIH.
You've been advising presidents since President Reagan.
I know you've told me this before that one thing you always tell young scientists and public health officials is that they should go into any meeting with a president or a member of Congress prepared to get fired for telling the truth.
Do you still treat everything that way? Do did you treat your most recent meeting with President Biden that way? Yes, of course.
And I do it every single time.
I tell myself, "I'll have to make sure that I tell exactly what the scientific facts are.
And even if a person doesn't like that, then I should be prepared to say that may be the last time that I'll brief them.
" That is not really the stress I'm under now because it is quite obvious how President Biden feels.
He's very much in line with the scientists.
It isn't as if I walk in and I say, "I'm gonna have to worry about walking away from this.
" That's not what goes on with this president.
He is very wedded to the concept of science rules and you act on basis of what the data and the scientific evidence tells you to do.
I think one of the hard things about the pandemic is that serious, meaning people get stuff wrong sometimes.
In the initial months, you made some statements about masks, for example, or asymptomatic spread that you later revised as you learned more.
I'm just wondering, like, does that humble you? It's sometimes humbling because you have to make a decision based on incomplete data.
If you had all the correct data at any given time, it would be very difficult to make a wrong or stupid decision when you have all the information in front of you.
You look like you're 60, but you turned 80 in December.
And I'm wondering: Did you worry at any point that this virus might get you? Yeah.
I think you'd have to be oblivious not to consider the fact that if you get infected, that you are already in a category of someone who has a high risk of having a serious outcome.
I didn't fixate on that, but it was in the back of my mind because I had to be out there.
Particularly when I was going to the White House every day when the White House was sort of a superspreader location, that made me a little bit nervous.
You're one of the most trusted figures in America today, but you're a man of science.
But you've become this cultural icon.
There are bobbleheads.
There are yard signs.
We saw a T-shirt with your face on it that says "daddy.
" I'm just wondering how you are processing that.
Right now, my responsibility is from a scientific standpoint to do whatever I can to end this pandemic.
I have adulation with, as you say, T-shirts, and candles, and mugs, and donuts, and whatever it is you want to say.
But on the other hand, I have people that want to kill me, that want to harm me, that harass my wife and my children so that I have to have federal agents guarding me all the time.
So if you focus on one or the other, you get distracted.
I've made a decision.
I'm gonna forget about this, forget about that, and just focus exactly on what my responsibility is.

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