Axios (2018) s04e17 Episode Script

Season 4, Episode 17

Washington, D.
Russell Senate Office Building - Senator, thanks for having us in.
- Hey, how are you? - Good to see you.
- Appreciate it.
Senator Josh Hawley, R-MO / an interview Senator Hawley, as long as you're in politics you'll be haunted by that photo of you, the gesture of seeming solidarity with the protesters on January 6th.
It's an indelible image, Senator.
Are you proud of that moment? In terms of the stand that I took? Yeah, I would In terms of making a gesture of solidarity to protesters who eventually stormed the Capitol.
Well, now, you say that, Mike.
I mean, I don't listen.
- You don't dispute that? - I don't dispute which? That some of those protesters later were inside the Capitol - I don't know the answer to that.
- You doubt it? I don't know who out there at the time that I saw in the Capitol plaza, I don't know who came into the Capitol or not.
I'll say this.
If they did come into the Capitol and they violated the laws, they're criminals, and they should be prosecuted, and they'll get no support from me.
Is there anything you regret about that moment? No, I do not regret.
In 2024, Republicans are gonna be much better equipped to dispute election outcomes that they don't like.
This could be a real shit show in the states.
What are the consequences of that gonna be for faith in democracy? The most important thing is that our elections have integrity.
And this is why I think when you see state But you're a lawyer.
Our election there's no widespread fraud in our elections.
There's fraud in every election.
We've had hearings before the House sorry, the Senate As you know, President Trump's attorney general said there was not widespread fraud in the 2020 election.
And yet, like, look at any poll.
A lotta Republicans still doubt it.
- Yeah.
Well, he's - Does that worry you? No.
I mean, listen.
First of all there's a longstanding tradition in this country of vigorously contesting elections and of people who have lost elections that are close going to court.
Look at the year 2000.
This has happened multiple, multiple times.
So you like to see this and you think there should be more of it? I didn't say that.
I'm just stating a fact.
I mean, that's just a historical fact.
The Democrats do it.
The Republicans do it.
Tht's just a fact of our elections.
I don't think that's new.
Senator, you gave a pretty hot speech at the National Conservatism Conference in Orlando.
You talked about the left's attack on men of America.
Why masculinity as your new big issue? Well, I think what the left is doing is attacking America.
They're saying that America's systemically oppressive and men are systemically responsible.
What's a man to you? Paint a picture.
What's a man? Well, a man is a father.
A man is a husband.
A man is somebody who takes responsibility.
As conservatives, we've gotta call men back to responsibility.
We've gotta say that spending your time not working and we have more and more men who are not working spending your time on video games, spending your time watching porn online while doing nothing is not good for you, your family, or this country.
So a viewer's watching this, and they're thinking, "Really? What the liberals are doing are gonna push me to watch Pornhub more or play Donkey Kong more?" Do you mean that literally? Well, what I mean literally is that I think the liberal attack, the left-wing attack on manhood says to men, "You're part of the problem.
" It says that, "Your masculinity is inherently problematic.
It's inherently oppressive.
" What's your basis for linking that to what liberals or the left, as you would say, do? Is that based on data or based on a hunch? Well, it's policy over many years.
I mean, if you look at the policy of deindustrialization, those are policy choices, Mike, pursued over many years.
- I've looked at - Wait.
How does that connect to porn? Well, you've got you've got men 16 million men, Mike, who are idle, who don't have anything to do.
Now, partly that's their own responsibility.
But also it's because jobs have dried up in many cities across America and rural areas, too.
I think you put together lack of jobs, you put together fatherlessness, you put together the social messages that we teach our kids in school, I think we've gotta confront that and its effects.
In Missouri as attorney general you confronted tech.
Then was kind of unusual for Republicans.
You put out a proposal about trust busting.
But that's not gonna happen.
You don't think so? Oh, no, I think it can and will.
What do you think will happen? Well, you're talking about in terms of congressional laws, Mike? Yes.
Breaking up big tech.
Well, I mean, for one thing you had the last administration file the biggest antitrust suit since at least the Microsoft case, maybe earlier.
That's the suit against Google.
And one of the things I think is vital is this Justice Department, the Biden Justice Department, needs to keep the pressure on Google.
So antitrust is absolutely vital.
It's important that the Justice Department go after it.
And we do need to update the law.
So what would a Republican White House, probably a Republican House, maybe eventually-it'll be a while- Republican Senate have up their sleeve for big tech? Yeah.
It won't be too long a Republican Senate.
It'll be 2022.
But I think that what oughta happen is we oughta pass new laws that say that for one thing you can't consolidate a bunch of separate lines of business under one umbrella.
That kind of conglomeration is bad for competition.
- Is Silicon Valley getting it? - No.
No, I don't think so.
In terms of are they getting that what they're doing is problematic? - No, not at all.
- Yes.
Are they working with you better? Making steps to ameliorate your concerns? No.
No, no.
Absolutely not.
No, they're doubling down.
Look at Mark Zuckerberg's latest rebranding of Facebook.
Now, it's gonna be the metaverse or something.
It sounds like a Marvel comic where he's the villain.
First, the supply chain crisis was gonna go through Christmas with empty shelves.
Now, there's indications it'll go well into next year.
You've proposed a solution to that.
You've talked about local content requirements, which is basically American jobs.
You're saying that can reduce reliance on foreign sources.
So are you saying government regulation should prop up U.
jobs? I'm saying we should bring industry back to the United States.
- We should bring jobs back - But use the force of government.
I mean, we should use our laws to do it.
Here's what I would do.
I would say that at least half of our critical goods and supplies in this country should be made in this country.
This is an unusual position for a conservative.
You're bringing in the hand of government.
Are you worried this more protectionist approach would raise prices? No.
I mean, I my proposal would phase in over a number of years.
And I think over the long term what you would see it do is actually lower prices because we wouldn't have these supply chain bottlenecks.
Part of the problem now is we're too reliant on foreign nations and China in particular.
This would solve that.
Senator, you've called for additional security assistance to Taiwan.
You're talking about $3 billion more a year, right? Right.
This this is an effort that's modeled on what we did in the Ukraine after Russia started their incursions there.
What we need to do now is we need to arm Taiwan to defend themselves.
If China invades Taiwan, what is the likelihood that the U.
is in a hot war with China? - I think relatively high.
We would - Would we win? Well, define winning.
I mean, can we prevent them from invading Taiwan? It depends on how quick we are to get into the fight.
Could we eject them from Taiwan if China seized it? We probably could.
That would be a very serious conflict, however.
We don't want to get to that point.
And so the whole idea of my effort to arm Taiwan to defend themselves is to prevent this.
We need to prevent war.
Senator, where does that $3 billion a year come from? Oh, it comes out of the defense budget.
It would be a defense appropriation.
It would be telling the Defense Department they've gotta spend that to help Taiwan arm itself.
Big shot / Serum Institute of India Pune, India Serum Institute of India The Serum Institute of India is the world's largest vaccine manufacturer, producing 1.
5 billion doses every year.
Founded in 1966 by Cyrus Poonawalla, the company is now run by his son, CEO Adar Poonawalla.
- Hi, hi - It's really nice to meet you.
- Thanks so much for having us here.
- Pleasure.
Pleasure to have you here.
Poonawalla has made a commitment to sell 1.
5 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine to COVAX, the global alliance to provide vaccines to low and middle income countries.
The Serum Institute is the biggest contributor to COVAX.
Do you remember where you were when you first heard about the COVID-19 virus? Well, I remember because I'd just come back from Davos.
We had a choice: we either do nothing, we wait, see how things go along or we dive in and start building capacity and facilities and start finding partners to be able to make a vaccine and take some early on risk.
So when did you start looking for a vaccine for COVID-19? No, so immediately we talked to Novavax Oxford at that time, which then went into a partnership with AstraZeneca.
We just said, "How much can you produce?" You enter into this deal, as I understand it, with AstraZeneca.
You had no idea if this vaccine would work.
You started to make millions of doses before they'd done clinical trials.
How did you make that decision? So being partly a privately listed company, I didn't really have to be accountable to other stakeholders except for my board and my father.
And it was a 30-minute conversation really, to be honest, to pumping $200-$300 million initially.
My father had said, "This is the amount of risk I'm willing to take" putting in all our cash, whatever we have.
So you said, "Dad, I want to spend about $300 million on a vaccine that I don't know works"? - Correct.
- And he said, "Go for it"? No, he said he said, "If you make a mess, then it's on you 'cause it's your inheritance down the drain.
But if f this is the bet you want to take, why don't you just wait a few more months and then you can take and enter into a contract?" But then I said, "It'll be too late.
" But then a funny thing happened.
In June, I realized that if I have to scale up all these vaccines, I need at least 900 million to a billion dollars.
So then again, it was a new conversation.
That's when I reached out to Bill Gates and his foundation over a Zoom call.
Based on that, we raised about $300 million from the foundation for Novavax and AstraZeneca.
So you enter into this extraordinary commitment with COVAX, which is the global consortium charged with equitably distributing vaccine to low-income countries.
You said you would deliver 1.
1 billion doses of vaccine.
Did you have any nervousness at that time of being the single company they were so disproportionately reliant on for getting vaccines to the developed world? Well, for the low- and middle-income countries, COVAX has to a large extent always relied on Serum Institute because we're one of the few companies who have consciously decided to provide vaccines at a very low price to service these markets.
And so it was only natural for COVAX and us to have a larger partnership.
And, yes it was a lot of pressure and responsibility that a lot of these nations depended especially on us during this pandemic.
Early this year, you were already producing and you started to export.
Correct, in January.
But then what happened was that the second wave hit.
So just rewinding to January, everything was going smoothly.
Cases in India were not so bad.
Prime Minister Modi said that, "We'd beat the virus.
" Yeah, I mean, we all thought that myself included.
You really thought that? Well, not beat the virus, but I felt that India would probably not have such a serious second or third wave.
We were not seeing the kind of cases that we were seeing in other countries.
So we slowly started to export, which was the right decision.
And suddenly at the end of February, early March, we saw a huge rise of cases coming up.
And that's when Prime Minister Modi, rightly so, decided that, "Look, we need to protect our country.
" So the second wave of COVID hits India and it's just devastating.
When did you realize that you would have to renege on those promises to deliver vaccines to COVAX and the low-income? I had conversations with our partners, including with AstraZeneca, who needed us to export to some countries as global partners.
And at that time we still didn't know how serious and bad it's gonna be.
And from our discussions with Indian government, it was gonna be a temporary restriction for, say, two months.
But as we went into the month of May and June, it was very that we would not be able to export till at least October.
You had this thing that everyone wanted.
- You had the magic elixir.
- Yes.
And you had to go and talk to these countries and people who were just desperate.
Tell me, like, how was that for you? I never had to be in a situation where I could not decide what's best for my company or what I want to do.
That choice was sort of not there anymore because I had to take care of my nation first.
Some countries were very understanding.
Some world leaders wanted to sue and get some of their funding back.
And those world leaders had made promises to their constituents.
Their people who didn't want to know.
They just wanted the vaccine.
And they wanted their leaders that they'd elected to power to be able to deliver on their promises.
Did it take a personal toll on you? Absolutely.
You know, I suffered personally and professionally.
There was a lot of stress.
I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
Really? It wasn't a nervous breakdown, but it was on the edge in the sense that I just wanted this phase to be over.
Was this the first time in your life you had to essentially choose between your responsibilities as an Indian to your nation versus your responsibilities as a global citizen? Usually we've never had to make that choice, as you rightly put it.
Here, it was important to take care of our nation.
And don't forget.
Every country and region was doing this.
- No question.
- Europe banned exports.
They refused to let AstraZeneca export out of Europe for example.
Do you think it's ethical of the Biden administration, of the U.
government to be rolling out booster shots and vaccines for children, five-year-olds on up, when 3% of Africans have been vaccinated? Well, I would say it's ethical provided, with a rider, they have enough doses to donate to the African nations as well.
Then there's no harm in vaccinating your children as well.
But if you don't, then absolutely not.
Would you call on wealthy countries who are doing massive booster campaigns for everyone and vaccinating children, would you call on them to stop the boosters and the children until the low-income countries have? Absolutely.
I mean, why should only Serum Institute provide vaccines at a $3 price to the low-income countries? They can certainly and these are giant companies and corporates.
They'll still make billions of dollars of profits in this pandemic, as one should, because you need to reinvest in research and be rewarded for your work.
But there's no reason why they can't donate some of those doses or divert some of those doses to COVAX.
How do you make that decision of what is the ethically appropriate level of profit? So it's tough.
But when I bid for my prices, I make sure that there's enough profit that I can replow in my expansion, in building capacity, my research, something which is a sustainable profit.
As long as you're making a healthy margin, you don't have to make a 200%, 300% margin on your products.
You can make a 20%, 30% net margin, and that's good enough.
So it's okay to be sort of worth $12 billion but not $100 billion? Yeah.
Because beyond a point, what are you gonna do with that kind of capital unless you have a way of deploying it? You don't need to spend more than a certain amount on your own lifestyle.
What can you do after you have a few houses, and aircrafts, and whatnot? AstraZeneca signed the no-profit pledge.
Why did you decide not to sign a pledge like that? Well AstraZeneca eventually will also be making a profit.
It's only during the pandemic that they said, for a year.
They were - Did you think about doing that? - Don't forget.
AstraZeneca, all of these guys have received upwards of a billion dollars from the U.
government and others.
We received nothing.
So we had to put in our own money.
So how could we sign a pledge to do it at cost? So that wouldn't make sense.
But what we've done is we've done it at near cost.
I mean, you received $300 million from Gates.
Yeah, yeah.
But that wasn't enough, you know? We needed a billion, as I said.
How do you think Prime Minister Modi has handled COVID-19? Any world leader would've been overwhelmed with the population that we have in our country.
He has been very decisive.
He took a lot of flak, but look at what he's been able to achieve now in in six months.
Do you think the made any mistakes? I don't know.
We all make mistakes.
I guess we learn from them.
In hindsight, everything, we're always wiser.
Any country that did not have cases or was able to deal with their cases well needed to show political victory or was celebrating the fact that this terrible, terrible virus was not spreading and causing deaths in their country.
Now, should he have done that early on? That's a political question that I'm sure he's I think it's a public health question.
If I was the prime minister, I'd probably have done the same thing at that time.
Today in hindsight, yes, maybe it was a bit premature.
But who at that time could have dreamt that a second wave would come in such a bad way? Let's talk about what you're doing now.
Back in September, India's health minister said they would resume exports of COVID vaccines starting in October.
It's now November.
Have you begun shipping doses to COVAX? I think by the 10th of November you're gonna see the first if not a bit sooner, you're gonna see the first doses arrive in Africa.
And how many vaccine doses are sitting in your warehouses currently earmarked for international export? Maybe 30 million doses per month will be exported.
- Okay.
Exported to COVAX - And other countries.
- Yeah.
- But mainly COVAX.
How many doses of vaccine are you currently producing per month? More than 220 million per month.
Do you think the world community is ready for the next pandemic? So you need an ecosystem and a framework which will allow everyone to work together, give clarity on that, take away the risk for manufacturers and others to be able to stockpile and have a reservation, build that capacity, strengthen the health systems.
So you've got about six or seven points that need to be addressed.
And if the world leaders don't agree to doing that, then we will have learned nothing coming out of this pandemic.
On track? / Amtrak's CEO Bill Flynn Moynihan Train Hall NEW YORK, NY Monday, November 1st Margaret Talev Managing Editor Amtrak, America's only national passenger railroad, has been owned by the federal government since 1971.
The company is planning the biggest expansion in its history, seeking to add service to 160 cities and towns by 2035.
- Good morning, Margaret.
- Hey Bill.
Great to see you.
Welcome to Moynihan Train Station.
I'm glad you're here.
The current infrastructure bill is expected to provide $66 billion in funding for Amtrak the largest investment in passenger rail since Amtrak was created.
So, Bill, this is the new Moynihan Train Hall.
And it's exquisite.
And when you come in here, you think, "Oh my goodness.
The future of America is bright.
" And then you go, like, 50 feet down the hall to the old Penn Station, and everything's in disrepair and smells terrible.
Which one do you think actually better reflects where we're at today? Probably some combination of the two.
Moynihan Train Hall represents the future of intercity passenger rail.
It represents a very substantial investment in that future, about $1.
6 billion.
And the old Penn Station you referred to was built 50 years ago or so.
At the time there was an expectation that Amtrak may not survive.
It is the 50th anniversary of Amtrak.
What do people not get about Amtrak? What Amtrak really did was it allowed the railroads in our country, who were essentially all at some level of bankruptcy, transfer their passenger service obligation to the U.
We look at our business really in two parts.
We have the Northeast Corridor, Washington to Boston, and then the balance of our operations are across the United States.
Joe Biden, who spent many years commuting from D.
to Wilmington, is like maybe the greatest booster ever for Amtrak.
How important has it been to Amtrak to have Amtrak's biggest fan be president of the United States? He's focused a lot of attention on what Amtrak is and what Amtrak can become.
So it's been hugely important.
It's manifesting itself, of course, in the infrastructure bill.
So Congress is poised to pass $1.
2 trillion in infrastructure spending, around $66 billion that could help Amtrak.
How essential is that funding to what you need to do going forward? Well, that level of funding, Margaret, would be absolutely transformational and more funding than we've had in our 50 years of history combined.
And so we really hope it does get passed.
Half of that would go into building out intercity passenger rail across the country where in many cases it practically doesn't exist today.
You'll be able to get from Phoenix to Tucson.
Well, Phoenix to Tucson is a great example.
Or Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton-Cincinnati.
Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
Those are new routes where service practically does not exist today.
Many of your harsher critics are lawmakers from Republican states or Republican lawmakers.
And ironically, some of the routes that cost the most money to operate also run through those red states.
How do you reconcile that contradiction, and why has train ridership become a political issue? Well, I don't know if train ridership's a political issue.
Not every person who's a Democrat thinks Amtrak is the right answer.
And not everyone who's Republican thinks it isn't.
In some of the Western states that are not heavily populated and distances are really great between and there's increasingly less air transportation as airlines have changed their model and their service structure, they really do value, they see the value that intercity passenger rail creates today and can create.
They do realize that our long-distance routes do not make a profit but believe that the overall economic impact and the social good that's created by it is worth the investment.
You came on as the CEO for Amtrak literally just as COVID-19 was turning into a pandemic.
And then the bottom dropped out.
It fell to 3%.
We lost 97% of our riders in the month of March.
And so the 3,000 people or so that were riding us in in April every day I'm convinced they really needed to ride us.
They were coming to New York.
There were a lot of actually medical workers who were coming up in April to New York to help us here 'cause New York was very, very hit.
We were well ahead of our financial plan when we closed the books on February 29 of 2020.
Almost profitable.
I know it was We would've absolutely had been profitable at an operating income level.
I don't have any doubt of that.
Where are you now? Right now, we're at about 65 percent or so of ridership levels pre-COVID, trending up.
I know that Amtrak has set a commitment to reducing emissions by 40% by 2030.
Is that enough? Reducing emissions and hitting a goal is never enough.
But I think that would be an important goal and an important achievement for our company in the eight years we have to get to 2030.
Before you came to Amtrak, Amtrak also tried to block a study that found that portions of the Northeast Corridor are very vulnerable to climate change, to rising sea levels in the next few decades.
How seriously do you take this threat? Well, we take environmental threat and environmental risk very seriously.
Particularly on the Northeast Corridor, many of our tracks are adjacent to the Long Island Sound, to bays all up and down, to rivers and flooding.
Monies that could be forthcoming should the infrastructure bill be passed talk about, are addressed, are focused on state of good repair.
State of good repair for the track infrastructure absolutely considers environmental risk.
Do you have one dream stop, a place where Amtrak doesn't run today where you would love to have a train stop? I think Nashville would be a great place to stop.
How many Country Western songs involve trains? Are you a quiet car guy, or are you a regular car guy? Regular car.
- And you talk to people on the train? - Oh, absolutely.
- You say, "Hi.
I'm Bill.
I'm the CEO".
- Sometimes I do.
- What do they tell you? - Everything.
What's good, what's bad, what we need to fix, how it could be better.
The Wi-Fi works, so I can share it immediately.
You can share, "The Wi-Fi worked on Sunday.
" The Wi-Fi works.

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