This is a rush transcript of “Special Report with Breat Baier” on February 10, 2022. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY) SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Democratic policies have created an inflation riptide that is forcing families and small businesses to swim as fast as they possibly can just to avoid getting stuck tout sea.
JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know food prices are up. We have been working to bring them down. I’m going to work like the devil to bring gas prices down.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN, (D-WV): This inflation is real. It’s harming people. It’s 7.5 percent. That’s a tax. And it continues to increase. And we all have to work together right now to get our financial house in order. If not, it’s going to be absolutely horrible what it’s going to do to the American economy.
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BAIER: Senator Joe Manchin has been saying that for a while, and these numbers today back up what he has been saying. If you look at the consumer price index over the decades, this is the year over year rate. You look at that 7.5 percent, it’s a major jump, and it affects people. Here is “The Wall Street Journal,” “The average U.S. household is spending an additional $276 a month because of inflation. That is rising at its fastest rate in 40 years. The squeeze stems from higher prices across a range of products and services, including cars, gasoline, furniture, and groceries.”
Let’s bring in our panel, Harold Ford Jr., former Tennessee Congressman, CEO of Empowerment and Inclusion Capital, former Education Secretary Bill Bennett, and syndicated radio host Hugh Hewitt. Hugh, it’s hard to pinpoint the political peril here with inflation. But you can start to see the administration seeing the writing on the wall as people deal with these higher prices.
HUGH HEWITT, SYNDICATED RADIO HOST: It’s a cliff, Bret — $276 a month. “The Wall Street Journal” reported that this morning based on a Moody Analytics study. And if you think about the average American family coming up with an additional $276 a month for food, utilities, rent, car payment, the stuff that they just need to buy, they look at the Biden first year and they say that was a disaster. Who can change this? And they will vote red. They will vote Republican come November because you cannot put a 7.5 percent tax on everyone in the United States and expect them to applaud what you are doing.
BAIER: Harold, at this environment, where there is a lot of concern about inflation, the president and the administration still pitching Build Back Better, which is a lot more spending.
HAROLD FORD JR., FORMER TENNESSEE REPRESENTATIVE: Well, first, thanks for having me on. I think we should put it in perspective here. I think Hugh hit on one or two of the more important points. But COVID is the culprit here. The government decided at the beginning of COVID to try to help keep main street intact, business owners, small and big, homeowners, renters, first responders, including hospitals.
What we’re seeing here is demand remains high. It’s our supply that is low, and there is no doubt that supply and labor shortages, supply chains and labor shortages are compressing and compounding our problems. The Fed has the tools to fix this, and hopefully if we are to believe the regional president from St. Louis, James Bullard, we can find our way to solve some of these challenges. But I hope we don’t neglect to invest in finding new ways to semiconductor chips here, tech savvy ports, more paper towels, pharma products as well as artificial intelligence. That’s what’s going to help us out of this moment in the short-term and ensure that we don’t find ourselves back here in the long term.
BAIER: There is some backlash on the talk about Build Back Better. Obviously, you don’t have all the votes. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we are able to do the things I’m talking about here, it will bring down the cost for average families. We’re in a situation now where you should have peace of mind.
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY, (R-LA): He wants to pass the Build Back Better bill, which is $5 trillion. We have got too much money chasing too few goods. And if you pass this Build Back Better, we will have 20 percent inflation. And then the Federal Reserve is going to have to raise interest rates so high that it’s going to throw us into a recession.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Senator Kennedy didn’t have such good soundbites, he might not make it into the show so many times, Bill. But what about this and what the administration is doing or not doing about it?
BILL BENNETT, FORMER EDUCATION SECRETARY: Well, the Build Back Better is going to put more money into the economy. It’s going to make things worse, as Senator Kennedy just said. I’m not as quotable as perhaps he is.
But yes, Harold is right, COVID is a culprit, a big culprit. But it’s not all COVID, certainly. And it’s not the invisible hand, and it’s not the hand of God, it’s not acts of God. This is policy. And policy has gotten into so many of these messes. The best quote of the show so far was that Border Patrol. This is not OK. Whether we are talking about inflation, or crime, or Afghanistan, or the border, it’s extraordinary. I believe this is the worst first year of a president in American history.
BAIER: The worst first year of a president in American history. Bill?
BENNETT: I believe it.
BAIER: Hugh, do you believe it?
HEWITT: Yes. It’s getting to the point where even FiveThirtyEight, the Democratic leaning analyst, says the lowest approval rating is now tied down where President Trump was after one year. But President Trump had strong supporters at least after one year. The new poll out today shows that 56 percent of Americans, 56 percent cannot name one thing they approve of Joe Biden doing in the first year. My gosh, he got a puppy. He at least gotten a puppy. Give him that credit. It was terrible year for Biden.
BAIER: CNN came out, I think, and said that that was a percentage of the people who disliked or disapproved. Nevertheless, if you look at the RCP polls, President Biden’s job approval 40.6, Harold, disapprove 53.8. The economic approval, This is worse, 38.3 to 57. These are average of the recent polls. And then this one, the direction of the country, 27.6 percent right direction, wrong direction, 65.1 percent. Those are numbers that, we’re in February, got a long way to November, they have got to have Democrats shaking.
FORD: The most important Democrat when it comes to addressing city and urban and crime issues is my mayor right here in New York City. Biden was right and important for him to be here. He ought to listen to him and urge state legislatures to redress this bail reform, to figure out ways to flood more cops to the streets, and figure out ways to help he and the vice president and help rebuild and restore morale amongst police officers and respect towards police officers.
They ought to have a supply chain task force every day, if not every day, every other day, with the secretary of commerce and the secretary of labor, who by the way, I just enjoy hearing him talk. We need to have the two of them out telling us what’s happening, how we are going to get our supply chains fixed.
And finally, this border issue. If the vice president can or cannot handle it, the president has got to sign some people there who are every week giving us updates on the southern border and northern border. If they don’t do these things, November will be a very hard time for my party. But they do have time to redress and then turn it around.
BAIER: Yes, and we are obviously covering a lot of the overseas stories, Ukraine, Afghanistan, new developments about what they’re learning there. But I want to turn to these document stories. There is a “Washington Post” story out about the possibility that former President Trump had classified or top secret documents at Mar-a-Lago.
It reads this way, “Some of the White House documents that Donald Trump improperly took to his Mar-a-Lago residents were clearly marked as classified, including documents at the top secret level according to two people familiar with the matter. While it was unclear how many classified documents were among those received by the Archives, some bore markings that the information was extremely sensitive — sometimes referred to as being above top secret — and would be limited to a small group of with officials with authority to view such highly classified information, the two people familiar with the matter said.”
This goes with this other story, this Maggie Haberman book, “Confidence Man,” that says that there were documents at the White House that authorities found or aides found in the toilet, some of them shredded, some of them crumpled up.” The former president put out a statement “Also another fake story that I flushed papers and documents down a White House toilet. Categorically untrue and simply made up by a reporter in order to get publicity for a mostly fictious book.”
Bill, I put this to you. If Republicans were really, really upset and focused on Hillary Clinton’s emails and all of that classified back and forth and what happened with those documents, shouldn’t they be really upset or concerned about what’s coming out? We don’t know factually that this is all true, but if it is, shouldn’t they be as concerned?
BENNETT: Well, sure they should be concerned about it. But again, let’s review policy during the Trump administration and policy now. I’m sure the Justice Department and others will look into this. But my gosh, this is part of the long story of allegations against Donald Trump, most of which proved groundless, as you know. But sure, look into it. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Take a look.
BAIER: Hugh, obviously they did pull 15 boxes from Mar-a-Lago. We don’t, again, know about the toilet and papers, real quickly.
HEWITT: It’s 100 percent correct that they are down there, 100 percent sure that no one in America outside of the progressive hard left cares.
BAIER: And Harold?
BENNETT: That’s right.
FORD: I don’t know if they will care or not, but we have something called the Constitution and laws. If you broke the law, Democrat or Republican, let the chips fall where they may.
BAIER: Gentlemen, I appreciate it. Have a great night.
Finally tonight, a SPECIAL REPORT salute, dramatic aerial footage captures the moment two teenagers were picked up from an icy lake in St. Louis, Missouri. Firefighters form the Maryland Heights Fire Protection District had just wrapped up their rescue training exercises for the day when they saw these two. They were able to pull the pair out in what officials called a very timely fashion. I would say.
And here is a heartwarming scene at the San Diego International Airport. Take a look at this, Marine Corps Captain Mo Mills had been deployed for several months during which he learned that he and his wife were expecting a child. Over the weekend Captain Mills returned home with very little advance notice. Hi wife, Dr. Morgan Davis, met him at the airport with a sign that read “Just in time to be my Valentine.” We love those, especially ahead of Valentine’s Day. Remember guys, Valentine’s Day. Think about it.
Tomorrow on SPECIAL REPORT, Democrats embrace gerrymandering ahead of a tough election cycle. Just been talking about the polls.
Thanks for inviting us into your home tonight. That’s it for this SPECIAL REPORT, fair, balanced, and still unafraid, a little different show format. Jesse Watters is coming up next. He’s got this who called “PRIMETIME.”
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