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Interview with Kevin Hassett; Church of Scientology Cruise Ship Quarantined with Measles Case on Board; Interview with Joanna Weiss on the rise of Pete Buttigieg. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired May 3, 2019 - 10:30   ET



KEVIN HASSETT, CHAIRMAN, WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISORS: Larry Kudlow still had his baby teeth the last time the unemployment rate was this low for women --



HASSETT: -- and so I think that this idea that we're going to have a new normal with low growth and low job creation, it's --


HASSETT: -- I think being disproven by the data. And, again --


HASSETT: -- last thought. I promise not to filibuster. But if you go back and look what, say, the CBO thought job creation would be this year, just a couple years ago, they're thinking, like, maybe 50, 60,000 a month. And so to have numbers this large, you know, this deep into a recovery is really extraordinary.

HARLOW: All right. It's a good number.


HARLOW: Can't debate that. But I want to dig into it. Yes, we had a gain of manufacturing jobs. But only a gain of 4,000 --

HASSETT: Four thousand.

HARLOW: -- manufacturing jobs. Last month, we lost 6,000 manufacturing jobs. Monthly, before that, we'd had 22,000 manufacturing jobs under this president. Are you concerned about what that means for the sector overall?


HARLOW: Because there are some folks that are worried that the tariffs are taking their toll. This is coming home to roost. HASSETT: No. I don't see that. And, again, like a slightly bigger

perspective, we've added 497,000 manufacturing jobs since the president was elected. About 500,000.

And so the question is, are we breaking from that trend. And I don't think we are. I think that if you look at the surge in capital spending last year, there are a lot of new -- and the surge in construction jobs this year, there are a lot of new factories going up all around the country. And so I expect that that will continue and that this is just sort of a blip.


HASSETT: But you're right. That if you wanted to look at one little bit of, you know, concerning news, it would be that the manufacturing number at 4,000 was lower than expected.

HARLOW: OK. So here's another thing. I don't think most Americans know, the ag sector. Farmers. It's not included in this. This is non-farm payroll, and we know the pain that a lot of farmers across the Midwest -- my home state of Minnesota -- have felt. You've had, you know, record bankruptcies in the last decade for farms. I'm just wondering if you're at all concerned about that sector here.

HASSETT: Yes. It's something that we're watching very closely. I mean, the GDP report that we just got had some heartening news, that one of the contributors, main contributors to GDP growth was an increase in exports. And within that category, you know, ag -- the ag numbers were very good.

And so I think that, you know, it is a place that there have been a bunch of hardships that --


HASSETT: -- you know, last year, there was also like a bumper soybean crop, and that drove prices way down. And so there's been a lot of fluctuation and also trade retaliation in that sector. So it's something that we're watching closely. And we were heartened --


HARLOW: But that's a big thing you just said.

HASSETT: -- in the GDP release, to see that it was coming back. Excuse me?

HARLOW: I mean, that's a big thing you just said. Trade retaliation in that -- in that sector. And you've got -- you know, Kevin. You've got some really stark warnings from Republican senators, you know -- from Chuck Grassley on down, John Cornyn, Pat Toomey -- about tariffs. And saying, "Look, we're not going to get behind USMCA and the new trade deal if these tariffs on our allies like Canada and Mexico continue." Should we expect the president to reverse course there?

HASSETT: Well, the president is engaged in a dialogue with those senators, who he has very high regard for. And the fact is that, you know, we're making so much progress in the trade talks with China, so much progress in the trade talks with Europe. We're starting trade talks with Japan.

Everybody's coming to the table, in part because we've come out swinging a little bit because they've not been really treating our exports the way we treat theirs. We've had nonreciprocal trade policy.

HARLOW: Right.

HASSETT: And so President Trump is trying to reform that. And to get the people to the table, he had to take strong action at the beginning.

HARLOW: But listening to those --


HASSETT: I think that the proof will be in the pudding, if the China deal is closed soon and, you know, once it's transparent and visible to everybody then, you know, what I'm saying is it's going to be a big positive for the economy.

HARLOW: OK. So he may relent on those, is what it sounds like. We're going to watch.

HASSETT: You'll (ph) watch.

HARLOW: Let me ask you about something else that I think is underreported. And that is the labor share of income, right? And this is one thing that has not recovered since the financial crisis. And that's essentially that the slice of the economic pie that the average Joe -- right? -- gets at home.

And I'm just interested. I know you've been studying it. And since the economy's so great, why hasn't that recovered?

HASSETT: Well, I think that one of the things that's happening right now is that wages have started to pick up, right? And even in today's release, if you consider how low inflation is, that, you know, having wage growth north of three means that there's serious real wage growth. And it was just a little while ago, when we were talking about a decade of wage stagnation. And so there's positive news on wages.

I think that one of the things that's happening right at this moment is that we're responding -- we're seeing a big response of capital spending, of factory formation to the tax cuts.

And to put that in perspective, in 2016, the year before President Trump came to office, capital deepening -- which is the contribution to productivity growth, of having more capital per worker -- actually in the advanced data, was contributing negatively to productivity growth for the first time since World War II.

So we were the high-tax (ph) place --

HARLOW: Right.

HASSETT: -- on earth and all the factories were locating overseas, and capital deepening was negative for the first time since World War II. That's reversing itself. And so as we have more capital --

HARLOW: Right.

HASSETT: -- of course, we'll have more capital income as well.

HARLOW: But it's still sort of this outstanding question.

On the GDP number, again, really strong first quarter --

HASSETT: Yes. Very strong.

HARLOW: -- 3.2 percent. But as you know --

HASSETT: Also jig-worthy (ph).

HARLOW: Jig-worthy. The Fed pointed out this week, as you know, that consumer and business spending slowed. You concerned about those underlying metrics there?

HASSETT: Well, I think the income growth is slow and consumption growth isn't actually -- wasn't the main driver of GDP growth in the first quarter. And so then the question is, you know, the people who are getting the higher incomes, is their consumption going to catch up to that this year? And the history of it is that that will happen.

[10:35:08] And if -- again, look at the really great productivity growth, the really great jobs number, the high real income growth that we're seeing, then you know, everything is in place for there to be very strong consumption growth for the rest of the year.

So if you're thinking about, like, what's the insurance policy against going back into the ones or the low twos --


HASSETT: -- the insurance policy is that the consumers have the wherewithal to really increase consumption over the next three quarters --


HASSETT: -- and that's what we expect we're going to see.

HARLOW: You're not worried there. What about this?


HARLOW: Last week, economy's gangbusters. Even more proof of that this morning. And then last week the president tweets, well, why don't we just have the Fed cut an entire percentage point in terms of rates. That hasn't happened since the crisis, Kevin, since 2008.

And I just -- I'm hoping that you can help me understand why such a drastic measure like that is needed in this economy.

HASSETT: Well, you know, the president gives the Fed advice and the president states, you know, his opinion about lots of things. And that's what his voters expect of him.

My job at CEA is to respect the independence of the Fed. I can say, though, that I agree with the president that inflation is really, really low right now. And that's exactly what you would expect to see if you have a supply-driven --


HASSETT: -- boom, right? Because that puts downward pressure on prices. And so I think that --

HARLOW: But that's not the Fed's only mandate.


HARLOW: And the Fed needs this ammunition in its war chest to fight off, you know, another great recession, should it come. So is it prudent to just chop off a percent of rates right now, in the middle of a gangbusters economy?

HASSETT: I'm not going to give the Fed interest rate advice. But I can say that inflation is under control and one of the reasons it's under control is that the global economy is not performing as well as the U.S. economy. And so there is this risk that we could import deflation. And that's something that I think I know that my friends at the Fed are watching --

HARLOW: All right.

HASSETT: -- closely, that we watch closely as well.

HARLOW: Final question. This week, Stephen Moore removed himself from consideration for the Federal Reserve Board. Would you take that position? And has the president ever asked you?

HASSETT: You know, we had a meeting yesterday to go over the next round of candidates. And, you know, first, I'm grateful for Steve's willingness to serve. And sorry that it ended the way -- the way that it did.

But, no, I am -- there's no plan to move me over to the Fed.

HARLOW: Would you take the job?

HASSETT: No. There's no discussion of that.

HARLOW: And finally, can you give us some insight --

HASSETT: I've got the best job that I could ever have right now, you (ph) know (ph).

HARLOW: Can you just finally give us some insight into why. Did the White House lose confidence in Stephen Moore?

HASSETT: I think that, you know, Steve withdrew and he was -- he wrote about it in "The Wall Street Journal" today and I think that's the best source to turn to, to think about the process.

HARLOW: Kevin Hassett, good to have your perspective.

HASSETT: Thanks, Poppy.

HARLOW: Go do the jig dance again. Thanks for joining us.

HASSETT: We hope so, yes.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: One hundred doses of the measles vaccine has been ordered for a cruise ship quarantined after a crew member was diagnosed with the disease. So what is next for the hundreds of other people on board who have been exposed?


[10:42:34] SCIUTTO: A cruise ship quarantine after a crew member tested positive for measles is now headed back to its home port --


SCIUTTO: -- in Curacao.

HARLOW: Three hundred crew members, passengers were stuck on board of the Church of Scientology cruise ship for two days while it was quarantined in St. Lucia. The ship's doctor requested 100 doses of the measles vaccine and everyone on board is being monitored. Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is with us now.

This is a stark reminder of the importance of vaccination, and something that is completely preventable. How effective is the vaccine if some of these folks on this ship have already been exposed?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think in this case, you know, what the vaccine -- the extra dose of vaccine's probably doing for most people is for those who aren't sure of their vaccination status -- they think that they're probably immune, they're not sure -- they could get the extra dose or the booster at this point to just become sure.

Now, in this situation -- and this would be a very unlikely situation -- but the possibility that someone is not vaccinated even though they're traveling internationally in this regard, they're not vaccinated, they get exposed and get a booster or get the shot within 72 hours of the exposure, it could probably decrease the severity and the duration of the measles.

There's not great evidence that it'll prevent it altogether. So there's probably still some benefit in someone who is truly unvaccinated and gets a shot, but I think for the most part the benefit here is for people who just aren't sure. This gives them some peace of mind.

SCIUTTO: Sanjay, I mean, it strikes me and it -- we're talking to you every other day --



SCIUTTO: -- about instances of this disease spreading. And it strikes me that this is a way it can kind of be supercharged, right?


SCIUTTO: One person with a bunch of people in a confined space. Describe just how easy it is for this disease to spread and what do people do about it when there are folks walking around out there who haven't been vaccinated and are now carriers?

GUPTA: Well, you're absolutely right, Jim. You know, when you think about places that are confined -- and you saw this at the dorms, for example, in Los Angeles as well, with the quarantine there last week -- that's one of the biggest concerns. Why? Because of just how contagious this virus is, one of the most contagious viruses on the planet.

To give you some context for that, if someone who has measles is in a room with other people that are not vaccinated, there's a 90 percent chance they will get the measles, 90 percent.


GUPTA: Like, if you sit next to someone on a place that has a cold --


GUPTA: -- you're probably not going to get the cold, you know?


GUPTA: Even though people worry about it. You're sitting --

HARLOW: Right.

[10:45:00] GUPTA: -- next to someone on a plane who has the measles, there is a very high likelihood you are going to get the measles if you haven't been vaccinated. So it's very concerning in this regard.

HARLOW: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you for being here. I mean, we should just hammer this home every single day because this keeps happening --

SCIUTTO: Get your shots.

GUPTA: Get the vaccine. If you're not sure, go ahead and get another shot. That's -- I think that's what most doctors are starting to say now.

HARLOW: Absolutely.

SCIUTTO: Makes sense.

HARLOW: And as if Sanjay didn't have enough jobs, right? You know. Brain surgery and this. He did this. Tune in to his special series, "CHASING LIFE WITH DR. SANJAY GUPTA." It airs tomorrow night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern only right here on CNN.

All right. So the 21 -- count them -- 21 Democratic presidential hopefuls are fighting for attention, the spotlight is growing brighter on one candidate and his spouse. We're going to take a closer look at the rising profile of Mayor Pete Buttigieg's husband, Chasten.


[10:50:15] HARLOW: Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is a rising star in the polls, certainly, in the 2020 presidential race. And his husband is getting a lot of attention -- profile pieces in big papers -- as well. Chasten Buttigieg and Pete Buttigieg are featured on the latest cover of "Time Magazine."

TEXT: "The Washington Post": Chasten Buttigieg has been a homeless community college student and a Starbucks barista. Now, he could be 'first gentleman.'

SCIUTTO: Also "The Washington Post" wrote a new profile piece on Chasten, on how he could become the country's first first gentleman. Here with us now is "POLITICO Magazine" contributor Joanna Weiss. Joanna, of course, wrote this piece.

You know, what's interesting about the story is, you make a point about how groundbreaking he would be, right? If he were to be in the first family.

HARLOW (?): Yes.

SCIUTTO: But also that he's a comforting throwback --



SCIUTTO: -- and the most traditional political spouse in the field. Explain that.

WEISS: Yes. In some ways, he really is the most traditional spouse. I mean, here's somebody who took his husband's name. Who is -- who took a leave from work in order to just support his husband's candidacy.

And his social media feeds, his presence on the trail is just sort of unquestionably supportive at a time when other spouses are really kind of wrestling with gender roles and how to present themselves as spouses and as individuals in this race. HARLOW: What I find -- I find a lot fascinating about this. But also

just how I don't -- you know, relatable Chasten seems, in terms of putting -- what he puts of himself out there. Let me just give you an example, right? You write about -- we know he's a Millennial married to a Millennial.

But he loves "Harry Potter" and Celine Dione. He worked at Starbucks so that he could get health care benefits through them. They met on a dating app called Hinge. He talks about struggling with coming out. And also, you know, tweets things like, "Chasten: staring out the window, waiting for UberEats."

Is it just fun to talk about --

WEISS: Right.

HARLOW: -- or is there something, like, meaningful here for voters, and feeling like "That could be me"?

TEXT: Chasten Buttigieg: Peter: Crushing townhalls in SC; Chasten: staring out the window waiting for UberEats

WEISS: Well, you know, first of all, there are a lot of spouses, a lot of politicians who struggle with that social media voice. And for Chasten Buttigieg, it just feels like it comes naturally. That's partly he's a Millennial, he's 29, he grew up with social media, he's comfortable with it. He's a theater guy, he's a theatrical person. So he comes across as authentic.

And where that becomes important, I think, is, you know, again, they're -- they're groundbreaking, right? They're the first presidential candidate couple that's same-sex marriage. And in order to get other people kind of -- you know, who are struggling with this pace of social change in this country, to get them to really accept and understand a relationship like that, you have to be relatable. You have to be familiar. You have to be somebody who's likable.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Let me ask you this. You know, they're a sign of progress, right? They married last year in a state where, four years ago, it would have been illegal to marry.

HARLOW: That's a good point.

SCIUTTO: Tremendous progress there. The "Time Magazine" cover, which we'll show again -- and, of course, has that famous headline, "First Family" -- in a way, is asking a question. It's asking the question, "Is the country ready for a gay president?"

And I wonder in your reporting -- listen, it's an unanswerable question, really, today. But in your reporting, what have you found about how people -- whether they care?

WEISS: You know, there's a social science term called a "parasocial relationship," and it basically means a relationship you think you have with someone who you don't actually know. And you think back to "Will and Grace," the first iteration of that

show, where you had gay characters on TV, coming into people's living rooms every week, and people got familiar with them.

And there's some evidence and some studies that show that a show like that helped pave the groundwork for same-sex marriage and acceptance of same-sex marriage across the country, something that, again, happened so quickly.

So here, again, you have these people who are coming into people's living rooms. They're on the newspaper and the -- you know, they're in the newspaper, on the magazine cover. They become these familiar figures. And that familiarity, that authenticity, that feeling like, "Oh, they've struggled with something. I can relate to that." That really does affect people.

SCIUTTO: No question. Joanna, it's a fascinating --


SCIUTTO: -- piece. We know you're going to stay on top of it. Thanks for joining us this morning.

Still ahead this hour, you may not know his face but you've certainly heard his growl.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chewie, is that you?


[10:54:35] SCIUTTO: A legend, of course. Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew, sadly, has died. We're going to take a look at his life and his legacy.





SCIUTTO: Well Peter Mayhew, the man behind the Chewbacca mask, in "Star Wars" behind that famous line of his, he's died. The seven- foot-three actor played Han Solo's sidekick in five of the movies, including the original trilogy.

Harrison Ford, who plays Han Solo, of course, issued a heartfelt statement saying, quote, "Peter Mayhew was a kind and gentle man, possessed of great dignity and noble character. We were partners in film and friends in life for over 30 years and I loved him."

HARLOW: Outside of his role in the "Star Wars" franchise, Mayhew was actively involved in charity work, including sending food and supplies to children during the recent and continuing political upheaval in Venezuela. Peter Mayhew was 74 years old.

SCIUTTO: Yes. And we found out -- a little research -- that voice was not his, the famous sound. It was lions -- what did we say? Bears and badgers. Kind of --

[11:05:06] HARLOW: Really?

SCIUTTO: Yes. Mixed together.

HARLOW: Wow. All right.

SCIUTTO: The famous voice.

HARLOW: Our thoughts with his family --