tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC March 23, 2020 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT
disclosure here, some of our own. these are the littlest rachel maddow show producers with their doodles that they have done with lunch doodles. we're all trying to do good work, to be creative, to find ways to do the most ways to help our country and be good citizens and members of our families and communities. this is the kind of thing that helps. be creative. be creatively engaged. stay engaged. like the doodle says, we are all connected. and that's the best new thing in the world. we will see you again, same bat time, same bat channel tomorrow. now it's time for "the last word with lawrence o'donnell." good evening, lawrence. >> good evening, rachel. the difficult thing about us being separated is that i didn't get to see the doodles. i'm assuming they just went up on the screen and i can't see them from here. so i'll have to watch the rerun of "the rachel maddow show." >> i will personally email you all the doodles. i'll take care of you, lawrence. >> i need them.
thank you, rachel. thank you very much. >> thanks, lawrence. >> thank you. how important are cooks, chefs? ask the united states army if they could have won world war ii without an adequate food supply for our millions of soldiers. one of the world's most famous chefs will join us at the end of the hour tonight. jose andres says that we are going to need a massive food delivery system to people who can't otherwise get food as this pandemic continues in the united states. you might have enough food to get through it. but many elderly people, many poor people will not be able to survive without government action on food and without the private sector's help on food delivery. and jose andres will outline his plan on how to do that at the end of this hour tonight. and he is already tonight being cheered on in that mission by michelle obama.
jose andres will get tonight's last word. senator chris murphy will join us later in the hour with the latest developments in the senate as the congress continues to work out an economic and medical aid package. we begin tonight with the numbers. as of tonight the united states has 43,151 reported cases of coronavirus and 533 reported deaths from coronavirus. today the president said repeatedly, quote, we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem. donald trump said that on twitter. we can't let the cure be worse than the problem. he then said it repeatedly in his white house coronavirus briefing that substitutes as his new version of a campaign rally. dr. anthony fauci had no comment
about what the president said at that briefing today because dr. fauci was not present at today's briefing. donald trump droned on repetitively and meaninglessly at the briefing today to the point that live broadcast of the briefing was abandoned by this network and all the big networks. so not as many people as the president had hoped got to hear him say, we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem. the problem with coronavirus is death. that's the problem. there is no cure that is worse than death, except apparently in the imagination of donald trump.
the white house press corps today chased the idea with the president that he was giving the very clear implication that maybe a week from now the president will declare america all ready to go back to work. >> america will again and soon be open for business, very soon. a lot sooner than three or four months that somebody was suggesting. a lot sooner. we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem. >> the problem for donald trump is that he's not in charge of this one. donald trump has not closed down anything inside the united states. donald trump has not closed a single business in this country. not a single school. he hasn't closed anything. it's america's mayors and county officials and governors who have done that, mostly the governors. the governors of new york and
california have both closed down their states and there is nothing donald trump can do about that. the governors of new york and california control more economic activity combined than most of the rest of the united states of america put together. and they are not going to reopen their states because of anything that donald trump says. donald trump didn't shut down anything. and so donald trump cannot reopen anything. donald trump is not in charge here. the governors are in charge. and that is good news and that includes republican governors who have shut down their states. governor gavin newsom, whose state controls more economic activity than any other state, and has more people than any other state, the governor of california will not be listening to anything donald trump says about when gavin newsom should begin returning california to normal. governor andrew cuomo of new
york has more coronavirus cases in his state than any other state, and in the biggest city in his state, governor cuomo has a street named wall street. and it will be andrew cuomo and not donald trump who decides when new york state and new york city and wall street get back to normal. and luckily for new york, andrew cuomo is smart enough to not listen to a word donald trump says about that. but andrew cuomo has said publicly many times that he is guided by the medical professionals including dr. anthony fauci, who was not present at today's white house briefing and rally for some reason. "the washington post" reported today that dr. fauci is telling donald trump that it is too soon to think about sending people back to work. quote, fauci, the director of the national institute of allergy and infectious diseases and a member of the president's coronavirus task force, and other leading public health
experts have told administration officials and republican lawmakers that prematurely scaling back social distancing measures would hamper efforts to mitigate the virus and would devastate hospitals, according to the people with knowledge of the conversations. in an interview with "science" magazine, published this weekend, dr. fauci was asked what it's like to be standing there in the white house briefing room when donald trump says something that is not true. dr. fauci said, "i can't jump in front of a microphone and push him down. okay, he said it. let's try and get it corrected for the next time." in that same interview, dr. fauci said he will never refer to the coronavirus as the china virus, which is donald trump's preferred term. and in that same interview dr. fauci was asked if he has been criticized within the trump administration for a moment at last friday's press conference when he put his hands over his
face when donald trump referred to the deep state department. when asked in the interview if he was criticized within the administration for that moment that went viral, dr. fauci's answer to that was, quote, no comment. also in that "science" magazine interview dr. fauci was asked what happens, what happens, before each of those trump press conferences in the briefing room? and dr. fauci said, we're in the task force. we sit down for an hour and a half, go over all the issues on the agenda. and then we proceed from there to an anteroom right in front of the oval office to talk about what are going to be the messages, what are the kind of things we're going to want to emphasize? then we go in to see the president. we present our consensus to him. and somebody writes a speech. and then he gets up and ad libs on his speech.
and then we're up there to try and answer questions. today, the medical professional on the stage with the president was asked if they would be recommending that people be encouraged to go back to their jobs just a week from today, which would be the end of the trump administration's announced, quote, 15 days to end the spread, which is really just a public relations campaign that had absolutely no laws or rules or regulations in it. dr. deborah birx said that they will still be collecting data for the next several days and she couldn't say what recommendation she would give a week from now. she would never do that, she said. donald trump was asked repeatedly if he would follow the advice of dr. anthony fauci at the end of that 15-day period, which will be next monday. and donald trump repeatedly refused to answer that question.
we begin our discussion tonight with dr. asheesh jar, the director of the harvard public health institute. dr. kavita patel, internal medicine physician and former obama administration official, and joining us from seattle is dr. vin gupta, a global health policy expert. dr. jar, i would like to begin with you and open it up to your reaction to what you heard from the president today and the possibility, although it might have no real effect since the governors are in control of this, but the possibility that a week from now the president might be recommending that everyone just go back to normal. >> lawrence, look, we are in the middle of the biggest public health crisis in a century. and we need federal leadership that moves the country forward
and brings us together. the idea that we're going to start rolling back these physical distancing measures a week from now, i don't know any public health expert who thinks that's remotely a good idea. we need to be pressing forward on the national pause to stop all unnecessary activity. we've got to ramp up testing. we're still not there yet. and really understand the burden of disease. and then we've got to make a decision about how to slowly unpause and let people get back to work and get back to school, in areas where it is safe to do so. look, this is a very difficult problem that we are facing. simplistic solutions like next monday everybody goes back, it's not going to work. we'll all be stuck with high levels of disease, hospitals will be overwhelmed. this is not the way to move forward. >> dr. patel, one of the most difficult treatments that i'm aware of that a patient can go through, and i'm sure there are many i'm not aware of, is
chemotherapy, it's very difficult, in so many ways that many people know. but it's not a cure that is worse than the problem, since the problem for people with chemotherapy is that if they don't get it, they will die, the consequence is death. and here is the president standing up there saying something that i do not comprehend and i don't know if there's a case that it can apply to. and he said this repeatedly. we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem. did that make any sense to you, with your medical training? is there something i'm missing there? >> no, lawrence, and look, president trump is looking a lot more like president hoover in terms of being out of touch with the people and what americans are going through, not only kind of cytotoxic or chemotherapy. when i was in medical school we were still dealing with the outbreaks of gay-related
infectious disease and hiv. you can't tell me there isn't a single person now who wouldn't take the triple cocktail or other medications despite the side effects. we talk about how hard it is to stop smoking, lawrence. we would never think to say, that's too difficult, we'll just let people smoke and die. this is irresponsible, unethical. he is just fiddling away while americans are scared with no message of hope. >> dr. gupta, if you were up there on the stage as a public health professional, medical professional, and you heard the president say we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem, and by the way, say it repeatedly, say it time and time again, as if they were the magic words that we should all live by, what would you have wanted to say to people if you were allowed to after hearing the president say that in that microphone today? >> thanks, lawrence.
i would do my best tony fauci impersonation. he's been a beacon of hope and somebody that we really revere in the public health community. i just want to echo what dr. jha and dr. patel have said, which is we need to do what we should have done three weeks ago, which is pursue a national lockdown. as an icu physician who has actively been caring for patients with covid in the icu, that having washington state and california and ohio pursue one strategy and other parts of the country pursue an entirely different strategy makes our job harder as front line professionals. it does not allow us to bring this to a resolution. and we know that the one thing that did work in wuhan, south korea, elsewhere, is strict, upfront control measures at the very beginning so that personal protective wear does not run out, so that we're not talking about surge capacity in the icus. mobilizing the military.
we are pursuing a middle of the road approach and we're going to get a middle of the road outcome. >> let's listen to how dr. birx responded to this reporter who pressed on, do you agree with president trump that we are ready or on the verge of being ready to reopen the country. let's listen to her response to that. >> just to be clear, do you agree with the president's push to reopen the country? he said some of his doctors that he's talking to about this, he says, "i think they're okay with it." are you okay with that? >> what the president has asked us to do is to assemble all the data and give him our best medical recommendation based on all the data. that's what he's asked us to do. so that's what we'll be doing this week. we were going to have to do it this week anyway, because we had to make a decision come monday about the 15 days to reduce social spread. so this is consistent with our mandate to really use every piece of information that we can in order to give the president
our opinion that's backed up by data. not our other perception, but our opinion that's backed up by data. >> dr. jha, the question at the end of the setup there was, are you okay with that? and we did not hear a yes or a no. >> look, i think we have to understand that both tony fauci and debbie birx, these are two incredible professionals. they are the leaders of global public health in the united states. they have incredibly difficult jobs. so they are walking a tightrope. if they upset the president, they're going to be out, and the country is going to be much worse for it. so what dr. birx did today i thought was masterful. she stuck to the facts and the data and she did not say that she would make a recommendation that would go against the president. look, i am very sympathetic to what both these guys are going
through and i am thankful every day that they're there. even if their opinion isn't always listened to, at least they're in the room and have a chance to influence a conversation. we're all better off for it. >> and dr. patel, another extraordinary moment with dr. birx was, donald trump asked her a question in the middle of it all, saying will we ever be able to have all of the reporters filling all of the seats in the briefing room again since they're now leaving a lot of empty seats for social distancing. and he pressed her on it and said, will we ever be able to allow all the reporters back in? and she refused to answer that question. and actually ignored the question. and then just made another statement of fact to the reporters in the room there. and obviously, dr. patel, the question had a lot of implications. if you can sit together like that in that small briefing room, that means you can sit together like that in movie theaters and broadway theaters and super bowl stadiums. >> absolutely, lawrence.
again, she's really trying to thread a needle that is very difficult. and it wasn't lost on many americans that dr. fauci wasn't on that stage and what that could mean. so we do need her to be part of that task force, to be part of that briefing room. i do worry, however, that, again, we have a president who might not even listen to even his most trusted experts. and what will the implications of that be for our country? it's very disturbing. >> he was repeatedly asked if he would follow the medical advice on this and he refused to say that he would. dr. gupta, quickly, before we go, what's the latest from seattle, where you are tonight, i think we all have friends there, i do, who are very worried about the situation in seattle. >> it's evolving, lawrence. i can tell you from you at least the inpatient side that icus, we're managing right now. but we're worried as well. i have to give credit to our elected leaders who are thinking
ahead of the curve. they're building triage capacity outside, in hospital tents right here in king county. so we're preparing for a worst case scenario which all modeling forecasts from dr. jost's team at harvard suggests we'll be needing more icu beds and capabilities. but our elected leaders are ahead of the curve. we're managing now, but it's tight. >> dr. vin gupta, thank you for joining us. dr. ashish jha, dr. patel, thank you for joining us. we appreciate it. >> thank you. when we come back, speaker nancy pelosi, chuck schumer, and senate democrats are working through the night at this hour on a legislative package of economic aid and medical aid to replace a failed republican bill that read as if it was written by corporate lobbyists in mitch mcconnell's office. senator chris murphy will join us next. your mission:
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were cooking with mom. she always said, "food is love," so when she moved in with us, a new kitchen became part of our financial plan. ♪ i want to make the most of every meal we have together. ♪ at northwestern mutual, our version of financial planning helps you live your dreams today. find a northwestern mutual advisor at nm dot com. donald trump has refused to say that the economic relief package being pushed by senate republicans includes money that the treasury secretary will be allowed to use to bail out donald trump's hotel business, which is doing very badly these days, including the hotel that he lives in in florida. earlier this evening donald trump said democrats are being very, very foolish for trying to
find out how much money donald trump personally expects to pocket from the republican version of an economic relief package. >> well, i think the democrats want a deal and i think we want a deal. so it will be very foolish if they didn't make a deal. the american public is demanding it. i can tell you the republicans want to make a deal and we want to make a deal that's good for the workers and good for the country. and i really believe the democrats want to make a deal but they have to stop asking for things that bear no relationship to what we're talking about. that are actually bad, that are actually not good for the country. >> and here is what the senate democratic leader chuck schumer said tonight. >> the senate is going to adjourn shortly. but that doesn't mean negotiations are slowing down one bit. secretary mnuchin just left my office. we've had some very good discussions.
and in fact the list of outstanding issues has narrowed significantly. we are going to work on into the night. >> joining us now is democratic senator chris murphy of connecticut. he introduced a bill today that would force the president to use the defense production act to address shortages in medical equipment and supplies needed to protect health care workers. senator, thank you very much for joining us tonight. what is your understanding of the status of progress, if we can call it that, in the senate? >> well, i think we're getting closer to an agreement. but this is really a matter of a bill that was drafted by mitch mcconnell and his lobbyist friends that was going to be a gift to a lot of industries, a lot of folks who already make a lot of money in this economy, but wasn't going to solve the problem. the worst thing we could do is
to spend $2 trillion in a piece of legislation and not have that legislation actually get the job done. and the job, first and foremost, is stopping this virus. my worry is a lot of my republican friends see this only as an economic crisis and don't understand that if you don't support the public health workers that are on the front lines, if you don't give states and municipalities what they need in order to fight the epidemic, there's no amount of stimulus, $2 trillion, $3 trillion, $4 trillion, that will solve your problem. so what we said when we looked at the draft of the bill, which we were given by lobbyists. republicans didn't give it to us, republicans gave it to lobbyists on k street and they shared with us, we said if you're going to spend any money to bail out companies, it should be done transparently and in a way that protects workers. we don't want to pad the pockets of ceos and shareholders if workers are going to be laid off.
i think tonight, at 10:30, we're getting closer to a product that achieves those goals. >> senator, one of the items in the republican version of this that you're trying to get rid of is this slush fund, this $500 billion that the treasury secretary can just do with whatever he wants. no one would find out what he had done with it until six months after he had done it. there's a lot of speculation that he would use that money to help donald trump in his hotel business. let's listen to what donald trump said tonight about the oversight for the use of that kind of money. let's listen to this. >> we'll take back stock for the united states. at the same time, most importantly, we'll keep those companies healthy. but we can also make incredible deals for the country. so that that number will increase exponentially. i mean -- >> it's about the lack of oversight, the treasury secretary will have unilateral authority to dole out all this money. >> look, i'll be the oversight,
i'll be the oversight. >> senator murphy, donald trump says he will be the oversight for that money being used responsibly. >> right. and remember, president trump thinks that if he's doing well, then the country is doing well. and so it is not hyperbole for us to worry that a portion of this $500 billion slush fund could be used to bail out the president or the president's family's interests. so what we are asking for is, yes, flexibility to a certain degree for the treasury secretary to put money where it needs to be in order to protect workers. workers, not ceos, not shareholder investments, but workers. and so what we've said is if you're going to take this money, you have to make a commitment to keep your workers on board. if the treasury secretary is going to give any of this money out, it's got to be transparent. within days, the public can see what happened.
there's got to be an inspector general to prevent fraud and abuse with subpoena power so we can get to the facts. i think we're making progress on all those demands. but they're demands that come from our constituents who watched the 2008 bailout money go to save wall street. it turned out it saved a lot of ceos. it saved a lot of billionaire shareholders. but a lot of people got hurt in the process. we can't have that mistake repeated again. >> senator murphy, i spent a few hours today watching the senate floor after this network and others cut away from coverage of mitch mcconnell's speeches and things like that. i went over to c-span2 to just keep my eye on the floor. and i noticed something that, you may correct me on this, you have a better view of what goes on there, but i was watching, for example, two senators sitting side by side, republican senators, right behind susan collins when susan collins was speaking and then still sitting there when susan collins sat down. i was noticing much less social
distancing on the republican side of the senate floor than on the democratic side. and we discovered that rand paul has tested positive and that he was kind of irresponsible about it, knowing that he had been tested, he still went to the senate gym, a gym that you all use. he went in the swimming pool there, knowing that he was awaiting the verdict on a test. is it your sense generally that one of the reasons the republican senators aren't emphasizing health care in this bill is that they are themselves personally, individually, less concerned with this as a health care crisis, which is what i seem to be seeing in the way they physically handle themselves on the senate floor today? >> listen, i think we all have to be careful to model the right behavior. and of course the president consistently has not been doing that in his public appearances. i don't know that my republican colleagues take the health care
crisis less seriously than democrats do. but what i know is that for the last three years, republicans have been attempting to destroy the american health care system. a million less people have health care today than did at the beginning of the trump administration. and there is a lawsuit right now pending before the federal courts that would strip health insurance away from 20 million americans. and so it has been true from the very beginning of the president's term that republicans have been hellbent on trying to take health care protections away from people. i think my republican colleagues are really concerned about stopping this epidemic. that's why i think we'll come to an agreement later tonight as we did in the previous two versions of this bill. i think we're trying to act like adults in the congress because the president has made such a mess of this response. he's put us in a position where we have to find bipartisan agreement or catastrophe will strike this nation. so i hope we'll get that agreement later today. >> senator chris murphy, thank you very much for taking the time on this difficult day to
join us and help explain this to our audience, we really appreciate it. >> thanks. and when we come back, dr. zeke emanuel, a former obama administration official, will join us to tell us what he would be telling donald trump tonight if he still worked in the white house. it's probably something very similar to what dr. anthony fauci is trying to tell donald trump. that's next. i like liberty mutual. they get that no two people are alike and customize your car insurance so you only pay for what you need. what do you think? i don't see it. only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪ we find a way to get through it. is faced with adversity, it's not about taking care of ourselves, but taking care of each other. checking on our neighbors... lending a hand where we can... and just being there. it's the sum of the small parts that make a big difference.
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enemy. >> the president was then asked if he would follow the advice of dr. anthony fauci and he refused to say that he would follow dr. fauci's advice. >> if we get to next week, we're deciding -- you're deciding what to do with these guidelines, whether to ease them or reinstate them for another 15 days, will you follow the advice of dr. birx and dr. fauci if they say you should maintain -- >> and others, yes. then ultimately i have to make a decision. but i certainly listen to them. i listen to a number of people. i have a lot of respect for dr. fauci and for dr. birx. and i'll be listening to them and others that we have that are really doing a good job. >> joining us now, dr. zeke emanuel, an oncologist, bioethicist, and former obama health policy adviser. dr. emanuel, what is your reaction to what donald trump had to say today about this
possibility of what he calls reopening the country and the specific refusal to say he would follow dr. fauci's advice? >> you know, last sunday, he saw the modeling from the imperial college, london, that predicted 2.2 million deaths in the united states. the tone changed very radically in the early part of the week. and then you have seen some kind of backlash in the media about, well, maybe we don't have to close the country, maybe that's too drastic, we're tanking the economy, we could do it more surgically, i think has been the word that's been used, and donald trump has latched onto that and basically said, well, tony fauci doesn't know what he's talking about. he didn't come out and say that, of course, because he can't, given the power and respect that tony fauci has gotten in the country. and he says, but, you know, we're going to reopen for business or consider reopening for business and not have this physical distancing, closing of schools, closing of businesses,
curtailing of transportation. and i think he made quite clear, you know, tony's one voice, he's not the -- necessarily the most important voice. he's going to listen to others. the problem here is that the others, at least in the public health community, are pretty uniform that you really do have to have this physical distancing, you have to shut down spread and contact because that's the only way to limit the spread of the coronavirus. once we reach a peak and then come back down, then you can begin slowly opening up businesses and other things. but it sounds like the president is going to do it prematurely. there is no way in 15 days that you are going -- especially because its not systematic around the country, it's haphazard -- that you are going to reach the peak of spread and come back down. and the consequence of this is going to be pretty clear. hundreds of thousands if not millions of people will get this
virus and tens, hundreds of thousands of people will die. >> governor cuomo in new york today said it could be four months, he said, it could be six months, it could be nine months, we just don't know. and it's governor cuomo that's actually in charge of closing down or reopening new york. all donald trump can do is make a recommendation. it's really up to the governors. >> well, lawrence, yes and no. it is true, governor cuomo has new york. he can control closing and opening new york. but if the rest of the country or other states like florida are not doing it and people are still transmitting the virus in florida and then they come up to new york, governor cuomo's efforts are going to be less -- much less effective. and yet the economic pain is going to be experienced by people in new york. you need this uniformly across the country to really make a big impact and that's what donald trump has so far been inhibiting. >> doctor, i want to continue this conversation but i have to squeeze in a commercial break.
if you could stay with us when we come back. >> yes. >> i would love to ask you about what the affordable care act means in this situation and the fact that the president is trying to basically have the supreme court repeal the affordable care act. if you could stay with us, i would love to bring that up after the break. we'll be right back after this break. mornings were made for better things than rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis. when considering another treatment, ask about xeljanz xr, a once-daily pill for adults with moderate
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away from over 20 million people. >> now we find ourselves in the depths of one of the most serious health and economic emergencies our nation has ever faced. the protections of the affordable care act are more important now than ever. but right now, in the middle of the coronavirus, the trump administration is in court suing to tear down the entire affordable care act. every last protection and benefit. today, therefore, i'm calling on president trump to abandon his lawsuit seeking to strike down the affordable care act. instead, the president should urge the 14 states who have refused to expand medicaid to do so. >> back with us, dr. zeke emanuel. he helped write the affordable care act in the obama administration. dr. emanuel, your reaction to what nancy pelosi had to say, that here we are in the middle of this pandemic and donald trump is still, still trying to kill the affordable care act.
>> yes, there is this suit by attorneys general from a number of states led by texas that has gone through the appellate court and that has said, you know, you can strike down the affordable care act, it's unconstitutional because the individual mandate has gone away, you can't just strike down one little part of it, the whole bill. and donald trump and his department of justice have sided with texas. first of all, let me tell you, everyone in the whole health care world, insurers, hospitals, doctors, whether they're republicans or democrats, think this bill has really improved the health care system. it hasn't made it perfect by any stretch of the imagination. there are many complications. there are many inadequacies. but it's gotten 20 million more people coverage. it's brought some costs down, it's tried different ways to improve the quality of care and
decrease the costs of care. and we know also that it's actually saved people's lives that in fact giving people insurance has actually reduced the mortality in the country. and donald trump wants to take that away from people. it's simply ideological and not about benefiting the american public. and in this moment, when we have huge threats of infectious disease with large costs potentially for being in the intensive care unit, maybe needing new drugs, and we have serious mental health stress, he wants to get rid of all that. it makes no sense if you care about the american public. >> it's republican states led by republican governors primarily who did not accept the medicaid expansion in the affordable care act that is now -- would now today be so important in their states, as it already was, but even more so now. >> absolutely.
led by texas, florida, georgia, north carolina. 14 states have refused to extend medicaid. we thought they all would expand, because the bill is so generous in giving them money to expand medicaid. yet those states have millions of people who need coverage, who don't make as much as 100% of the poverty line, and are typically working hard at jobs that just don't provide health insurance. and they don't want to expand coverage for them. again, it's despite these hard working, poor people, that these states have not expanded medicaid. and again, we know that expanding medicaid has led to improvements in health, decrease in stress, better nutrition by people. there's just a myriad of benefits. again, it's not a perfect law but it's been a huge step forward for the american health care system. with this law we have -- we've had 10% uninsured as opposed to
16% before the law was enacted. >> dr. zeke emanuel, thank you very much for sharing your expertise with us tonight, we really appreciate it. >> thank you, lawrence, for having me. i really appreciate it. and when we come back, world renowned chef jose andres will join us because he is not just a great chef. he's more than that now. he is now one of the world's most important and valuable crisis activists who always knows who needs food to survive the latest crisis and how to get that food to them. chef jose andres will get tonight's last word. order up. fries on the side. right where i like 'em. don't forget the grease fire. burn, baby -- wait, what?
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pandemic. yes, an army needs ammunition and military equipment, but before all of that, an army needs food. and in a country where we are all now called to do our part as soldiers of sorts against the coronavirus, what happens to americans who don't have enough to eat, people who cannot afford to pay for food now that they have no income and their savings has been exhausted? what about elderly people who cannot leave their homes to buy food? jose andres is now much more than a great chef, although that was a great achievement enough. famous chef. he is the world's leading crisis activist whose mission is feeding people. when he sees a natural disaster, he sees people in need of food, and that's why he brought food to puerto rico after hurricane maria. that's why he delivered 400,000 meals in california during multiple wildfires. in a "new york times" op-ed piece outlining the food crisis
facing millions of americans, jose andres wrote, today an army of american cooks stands ready to serve our most vulnerable citizens at a time when those cooks are themselves in desperate need of support. they are our food first responders. with the full support of the federal government, they can serve the many while saving so many jobs. and it is an honor now to have chef jose andres join us. chef andres, thank you very much for joining us tonight. your program is being supported by michelle obama, who tweeted tonight. i just want to read this. she tweeted, i am so grateful to chef jose andres for his inspiring work to feed those in need in our communities. we are in this together, and we'll get through it by stepping up and doing whatever we can to help each other out. chef andres, what's the basic outline of your plan?
>> well, this is very simple. we call it america eats now. this comes inspired from the wpa times, which is probably the last time america really went through this amazing hardship, putting aside everything went through in world war ii. but this is simple. every single restaurant in america pretty much is closed. here the chefs of america, the food people of america, we are ready to be food first responders. we need to make sure that we understand that food is a national security issue. food is not the problem. food is the solution, and we need to make sure that we think that in the next few weeks, america is going to have to eat, especially those people, the forgotten people, the people
from low-income areas, elderly, homeless. we need to make sure that as we go through this virus, this crisis, we need to make sure that food gets to everybody in need, and that's very much the plan. we need to take care of the elderly. we need to be taking care of all our health care that they're going to right now almost to war. we need to take care of the homeless. we need to take care of the children. we need to take care of those people who -- >> and everyone is trying to figure out -- everyone in washington -- one of the industries they're trying to figure out how to help is the restaurant industry, which has been basically wiped out in the last couple of weeks by this pandemic. this is a way of putting those people to work, isn't it? >> well, it's going to take a village. obviously the food people of
america, more than 600,000 restaurants across, we should be the first food service responders. in every corner of america is restaurants, but we need to remember one thing. more than 90% of all the income that restaurants make goes into the economy. we pay our employees. we pay the farmers, the fishermen. we pay the distribution companies. we pay the wine companies, the architects, the p.r., and the health care workers. every time you spend a dollar in a restaurant benefits the entire local economy. so if congress needs to invest in america today so we have a good future forward, restaurants is the right way for congress to start looking at the future in a good way. every dollar they are going to be putting into the restaurant industry is going to trickle down all around. we can make sure that america will keep running even as we're
going through a crisis. >> and many restaurant workers, the people working, the dishwashing part of it, and many restaurants, low-priced restaurants out there, these are low wage workers and many of them live on tips. those tips have gone to zero. so there's a whole world of help that you are addressing, a whole world of need that this idea of yours goes straight to help everyone involved. >> what i want to make sure is if we really go through mayhem, that congress is thinking about that. we're talking about this is a health crisis. this is an economic crisis. we need to be talking that this is a humanitarian crisis, and we need to make sure congress is on top of this. yes, as congress is going to help the food industry to move forward, also the food industry can be a partner with the federal government to make sure that we take care of every single, every single person in
america in need of a plate of hot food. a frenchman in 1826, he said the future of the nations will depend in how they feed themselves. we need to make sure that congress, through this idea that i'm putting forward, america eats now, we take care of feeding every american in need right now. >> jose andres, i admire your generosity and kindness so much. it's really an honor to have you join us tonight. really appreciate it. >> thank you for having me. the first person i ever serve a meal in washington, d.c., the first weekend i was helping senator patrick moynihan. he told me, if you love america, america will always love you back. there's many immigrants like me ready to keep loving america, the country that has given us so much. the food people of america, we're going to be there for the
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