'Your World' on Build Back Better

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This is a rush transcript of "Your World with Neil Cavuto" on December 21, 2021. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know you're tired. I really mean this. And I know you're frustrated. We all want this to be over.

But we're still in it. And this is a critical moment. We also have more tools than we have ever had before. We're ready. We will get through this.


NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: All right, we might get through this, but there's going to be a whole lot of testing going on in the meantime, the president committing to at least a half-a-billion test kits to help Americans figure out whether they have got this latest strain of the virus, and that it is free for the taking. Now the big question, who's going to take him up on it?

Welcome, everybody. I'm Neil Cavuto, and this is "Your World."

And right now, Omicron is all the rage in all the world. And as you just heard, the NHL is not sending hockey players to the Olympics next winter in China. It could just be the first. There might indeed be others. Will detail what organizations, Broadway shows, entertainment venues, cities and states and countries and how they're dealing with this latest surge in cases.

It is certainly a contagious variant. That is without doubt. What we don't know at this time is exactly how dangerous it is. The president making it clear today that this does appear to be less dangerous than other variants. But, again, people are being cautious and the World Health Organization among those who is saying, even when it comes to getting together for Christmas, the better part of valor is to not get together for Christmas. Is that a bit extreme?

What the White House is planning. And that's where you will find Jacqui Heinrich with more -- Jacqui.


Well, the president has been issuing increasingly stark warnings to unvaccinated Americans, telling them that their chances of getting sick and dying are significant if they remain unvaccinated. He encouraged people to get their shots, calling it a patriotic duty and an obligation to country.

But, despite breakthrough cases among vaccinated people, the president is still saying that it's safe to celebrate Christmas and have holiday get- togethers with family even if you have had your shots.

It's prompted some criticism from health experts, because folks like the World Health Organization are saying just cancel your Christmas plans, it's safer. They believe that the White House -- not the World Health Organization -- excuse me -- but critics believe the White House and CDC should really be updating its guidance with Omicron surging, nearly one in four Americans still remaining unvaccinated.

But Biden said, by and large, Omicron is mild among the vaccinated folks, and this is not March of 2020. Still, the administration certainly preparing like it's March of 2020. They're sending medical military personnel to overwhelmed hospitals, FEMA surge teams to six states. They're prepositioning supplies across the country and now sending these at-home rapid test to anyone who wants one.

The president also defended his vaccine mandates, painting it as a key way for life to go on with minimal disruption.


BIDEN: I know vaccination requirements are unpopular for many. They're not even popular for those who are anxious to get them. My administration has put them in place not to control your life, but to save your life and the lives of others.


HEINRICH: And some news on the travel front.

The president announced just a few moments ago he may lift the ban on South Africa and neighboring countries that was intended to slow the spread. Listen.


QUESTION: Did the travel ban, sir? And will you reverse the travel ban now that Omicron is so prevalent here in the U.S.?

BIDEN: I'm considering reversing it. I'm going to talk with my team in the next couple of days.

Look, remember why I said we put the travel ban on, is to see how much time we had before it hit here, so we could begin to decide what we needed by looking at what was happening in other countries. And -- but we're past that now.

And so it's something that is being raised with me by the docs and I will...


HEINRICH: So, Jen Psaki also said in the briefing today there will soon be additional focus on therapeutics, in addition to this sort of renewed focus on making testing widely available, Neil.

CAVUTO: All right, Jacqui, thank you very much.

Jacqui Heinrich at the White House on that.

The move is fast and sweeping across the globe right now, with countries as diverse as Germany and Switzerland all reimposing some restrictions, some going so far as to impose quarantines. That's happening in Thailand, but it might not end there.

Jonathan Serrie keeping track of it all in Atlanta -- Jonathan.


The Omicron variant has been detected in every U.S. state, except for Oklahoma and South Dakota so far. And then Texas has confirmed the first Omicron-related fatality, this one involving a man in his in his 50s, lived in the Houston area. He was unvaccinated and had underlying health conditions.

Take a listen.


JUDGE LINA HIDALGO, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS: Of course, we're going to have hospitalizations, tragically, deaths like what we see now. But the evidence shows that for those vaccinated and with the booster, it is much less likely.


SERRIE: With holiday gatherings just around the corner, many Americans are waiting in long lines at testing centers.

The NBA, NFL and NHL have postponed multiple games. In New York City, popular live shows including the Rockettes and "Hamilton," have canceled performances.

Sources tell FOX 5 New York, the New Year's ball drop in Times Square will likely have reduced capacity. And, today, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a $100 incentive for everyone getting a booster shot before the end of the year.


BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: The biggest booster incentive program in the United States of America, and I want to see New Yorkers respond.


SERRIE: And in the New York suburb of Mount Vernon, school officials announced that, starting Wednesday, all students in the district will go back to virtual learning. And that is going to last through mid-January -- Neil, back to you.

CAVUTO: Jonathan Serrie, thank you very, very much.

All right, now, Moderna has indicated that a third booster shot, its own, does seem to be very, very effective in gaining the antibodies you need to fight off Omicron.

Let's get the read on all of this from Dr. Amesh Adalja of Johns Hopkins.

Doctor, where are we have with Omicron? Of course, we know it's extremely contagious. It's been growing, now up to 90 countries worldwide. But it doesn't appear to be nearly as dangerous as other variants. Where are we on this?

DR. AMESH ADALJA, INFECTIOUS DISEASES SOCIETY OF AMERICA: I think we gotten a lot more information over the last couple of weeks to really gauge the threat level of Omicron.

It's clearly going to become the dominant version of this virus. It's something that most people are going to have some experience with. They're going to get infected with it because it's able to get around the protection that our antibodies provide from vaccination or from prior infection.

But it's still unclear how severe it is. It clearly is going to be something that can kill people, especially those who are unvaccinated and with high-risk conditions, as we saw in the Houston area. But I think what we have to really learn to separate now is the breakthrough cases that are mild in vaccinated people and the severe cases, which are largely going to be restricted to the unvaccinated.

CAVUTO: All right, I apologize for that, Doctor.

I do want to get your sense of how you think some governments and businesses are responding to this. You have heard that our NHL team is not going to the Olympics. Of course, you have heard a number of Broadway shows canceled, the Radio City Christmas show just shelved for the rest of the season.

I could go on and on about quarantines being put into effect in places like Thailand, restrictions on public gatherings in Europe. Is this an overreaction to you?

ADALJA: I do think that there is some overreaction going on. As President Biden said earlier today, this is not March of 2020. This is December of 2021, where we have many tools, many precision-guided tools that are able to blunt the impact of a variant like Omicron without going back to those overly broad restrictions that we saw in the early days of this pandemic.

So what we have to do now is teach people how to risk-calibrate. If you're fully vaccinated, as the president said, you are going to be spared from severe consequences of disease. And that's what we're trying to aim with -- aim for with this virus. We're trying to make it tamer, make it more like other respiratory viruses, and that's what it is for vaccinated people.

It's just that we have this swathe of the population that is not vaccinated, that really holds our hospitals hostage. And that's the problem we face in the United States.

CAVUTO: You know, among the unvaccinated, Doctor -- and I hear from a good many of them -- they say, well, if these vaccinations that are already out there are so promising, why are there so many breakthrough cases? Why is this thing expanding to the -- now these virus variants and God knows what else?

So it's actually hardened their resistance to getting vaccinated. What do you tell them?

ADALJA: It's the exact opposite of what the vaccines are actually doing.

When you look and see who is dying, who is taking up ICU beds -- and I worked in the hospital this past weekend -- it is unvaccinated individuals. It is not people who are fully vaccinated that are in the hospital, that are making us worry about our capacity. So vaccines are not magic force fields. They're not bugs zappers.

They're meant to stop any infection that you get post-vaccination from being severe. And, by that standard, they're off the charts. That is the path to normalcy. That is how we get our country and our lives back is getting people vaccinated, so that we don't have to worry about hospital capacity, that we don't have to worry there's not a bed for someone with a stroke or who is in a car accident.

CAVUTO: All right, Dr. Adalja, thank you very, very much. You always keep us calm. I think I appreciate that.

With us right now is the New Hampshire governor, Chris Sununu, who is kind enough to join us right now.

Governor, always good to have you.

The president outlined a plan that would include, sir, emergency teams that would go to states where there's a spike in cases. That has not been the case in New Hampshire. But if there were, what do you think of that?

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH): Well, the emergency teams out of the federal government can be very, very helpful.

We haven't gotten any confirmation that they're sending them here as part of this latest announcement. We have -- I have been talking to FEMA. They have had -- they have been sending more monoclonal antibodies. They have said paramedics team.

So our cases are elevated because, in Northern New England, we're at the tip of the spear when it comes to winter, right?

CAVUTO: Right.

SUNUNU: This is what we're seeing as the seasonality, if you will, of the COVID pandemic.

And so you're going to see it kind of increase in the Mid-Atlantic states and ultimately in the Southern states as it gets cooler in January and February. So we're all going to -- we're all really in it. And we're in it for the long term. And I think that's the most important message I try to lead with, that whatever we do isn't just for the next six weeks. It might have to be for the next six months or next six years.

We're not sure. So, people say, oh, you should put in more mandates and start another state of emergency. Look, when are we going to stop it, right? You can't use a state of emergency like a light switch, right? You have to build long-term, sustainable systems. You have to move forward with your lives smart, understand that COVID is very dangerous, make sure the information is out there.

But you also have to let people live their lives, hopefully making good decisions, getting vaccinated and boostered. But you can't just start shutting everything down and trying to figure it out later on. We tried that once in 2020 when we didn't have tools in the toolbox. We got those tools now. We have all these tools to help us manage, as governors and as leaders in our communities.

And we -- it's our job to make sure that those are available and let people make that choice.

CAVUTO: So, Governor, you're not entertaining any mandates or any limitations or new widespread restrictions in New Hampshire, as things stand now?

SUNUNU: No, nothing's being contemplated right now, because, again, what are the metrics when we stop it?

Omicron is not going to be the last variant. I don't believe so. I hope it is. But I don't -- I have to kind of plan for the worst. And so my thought is that we could see variants come again. We could see another tough winter next year, whatever it might be.

So, we have to plan for the long term. If you start with these mandates now, it's never going to end, and you're going to be starting/stopping your communities, your economy. That has other dire effects, taking kids in school, out of school. That is not how you move this country forward. And so you got to let governors do what they do best. And that's have flexibility to manage.

Federal government can be a good partner and provide resources when necessary. But the states really have to have the flexibility to move forward.

CAVUTO: If I could switch gears, Governor, you probably heard that Joe Manchin of West Virginia has opted to reject the Build Back Better program.

The president wants to revisit that. Chuck Schumer wants a vote maybe next year to revisit that. What do you think of the sort of anger the party, the Democratic Party, has thrown back at Senator Manchin for his decision?

SUNUNU: I think the biggest shock is that people are surprised that an individual is trying to be cautious with spending $3.5 trillion.

Five or 10 years ago, this would have been completely unheard of. And now the Democratic Party is acting, I can't believe we're not doing it. I think, quietly, in their heads, they're -- some of them are actually thanking. They didn't have the courage to stop it, like Joe Manchin did. But my sense is, they're probably thanking Joe for putting the brakes on.

This government -- this federal government has not taken up how we're going to balance a budget, how we're -- how we're going to manage health care, how we're going to deal with immigration. I mean, there's all these other issues that have to come to bear.

And all we're talking about is this one massive big government spending bill. There's so many other things, frankly, as a governor, that I think that Washington really needs to be taking up, because there are other pressing issues other than bloating government.

CAVUTO: You opted not to run for Senate. You're running again for governor.

Looking at the dynamics of what's going on in Washington right now, do you do regret that?

SUNUNU: Oh, God no. Are you kidding?

Look, the more people that tried to convince me to run for the U.S. Senate made it more and more clear that I can defend my state, create more opportunities, design and innovate more systems as a governor. That's just what we do.

I mean, again, look at what your last question was just about, the fact that all Washington is doing is talking about this one bill, and actually getting nothing done in the meantime, right? And they're fine doing that. I don't work like that. I'm a CEO. I'm a manager. People hired me, elected me to create opportunities for them.

And that's what you get to do as governor every day, enact and -- engage and enact with your constituents. That's the number one problem in Washington. They always have an excuse not to talk to someone on the street, not to talk to someone who's dealing with these issues day to day.

So they work in this kind of bubble, without really understanding the implications of what they do and don't do. As governors, I love the challenge of it. It can be incredibly fulfilling, but incredibly challenging, but you get to do it every single day and design systems.

So that's just -- that's how I work. This do nothing stuff down in Washington, D.C., that's just not my style.

CAVUTO: Got it.

All right, I thought you were going to change your mind on the air. That does not appear to be the case.

Governor, it's very good seeing you. I hope you a merry Christmas.

SUNUNU: Maybe next time.

CAVUTO: Maybe next time.

SUNUNU: Merry Christmas, buddy. Thank you.

CAVUTO: All right, Governor Sununu, thank you so much.

Well, of course, we keep talking about Omicron. It pops up in the weirdest things. But did you hear about this Royal Caribbean ship that came into port with nearly 50 cases of Omicron?

We're on that -- after this.


CAVUTO: A royal pain for Royal Caribbean customers coming home on a vote that was stricken with, well, Omicron, and a lot of Omicron cases, close to 50.

Madison Alworth in Tampa, Florida, with more on this -- Madison.


That boat did have 48 cases from both passengers and crew members. It's now affecting the way that Royal Caribbean and other cruises like Norwegian are operating. If you're going on a cruise anytime soon, make sure you pack your mask. Masks are now going to be required inside at all times unless actively used eating or drinking or in your own room.

You're also going to need a mask outside if you can't maintain six feet of distance, a masked vacation, this all coming after those 48 cases on that cruise, despite the fact that people do have to be vaccinated to get on either Norwegian or Royal Caribbean. If you're over 12, you must be vaccinated, and negative tests are also required before boarding.

Even still, COVID-19 cases are being reported. Of the 110 cruise ships operating or planning on operating soon in U.S. waters, 30 percent have coded yellow. That means there are enough COVID cases on board for a CDC investigation.

Even still, agents say that this setback is not sinking the industry yet.


JAMES FERRARA, PRESIDENT, INTELETRAVEL: We are seeing some cancellations. We're seeing postponements. Mostly people aren't giving up completely, but they're just pushing the date out.

But this would not be the heaviest cruise season anyway. So, mostly what we're seeing are, people are waiting, waiting and seeing.


ALWORTH: Waiting for that busy season, which is after the holidays.

So, right now, around 50 percent of cruises are still offline, as the industry really recovers from COVID-19. At this point, none of these itineraries have been impacted from these announcement of cases. But the hope is that 2022 will be a strong year for the industry, maybe outpacing 2019, which was one of the strongest years for cruises.

But, Neil, as I'm sure you remember, this industry was one of the latest ones to get the green light from the federal government. They were closed down well after restaurants and entertainment spaces had been open. So the cruise industry is really holding on to their current customers, hoping that they can keep moving forward and that Omicron and other restrictions will not take them a step back -- Neil.

CAVUTO: Got it. Just incredible.

Madison, thank you very, very much.

Meanwhile, before I get to my next guest, let's take a look at what happened at the corner of Wall and Broad. You can see in the corner of your screen there the Dow up smartly today. All the major averages were on the notion that maybe we're getting a little ahead of ourselves, maybe all of this will settle down. Depends on the day.

Let's get the read from Art Hogan of National Securities Corporation.

Art, markets a little less worried today. I never like to take a leap and assume that's going to be the new posture and position. What do you think?

ART HOGAN, MARKET STRATEGIST: Yes, I think you put it perfectly right, Neil. It depends on the day, right? We had three of the worst days in a row for the S&P 500 since September, the last three, coming into today.

I would argue that we have been selling pretty consistently, this market, since the day after Thanksgiving, when Omicron was now the new headwind. And, clearly, investors are trying to get their heads wrapped around that, a more hawkish Fed. And, certainly, this is all happening at a time where professional investors are squaring up their portfolios for a year-end and a lot of people are tax loss harvesting.

So you come into a holiday-shortened week with less volume, and you're going to have larger or outsized moves. But I would -- I would also say that it feels as though we overdid it over the course of the last three days, and arguably over the last two weeks, got very stretched in the selling of equities and very stretched in the buying of treasuries.

And I think that rubber band just got too tight, and we're seeing that sort of pullback and mean-revert a bit, as the bargain hunters finally got the courage up to get in there today.

CAVUTO: You know, the president commented on the collapse, apparently, of Build Back Better yesterday with the news that Joe Manchin wasn't going to be a yes-vote on it, by referring to the market drop-off yesterday as that.

I want you to respond to the president's comments on that. Listen.


BIDEN: Goldman Sachs and others said, if we don't pass Build Back Better, we're in trouble, because it's going to grow the economy. Without it, we're not going to grow.


CAVUTO: We're not going to grow. In other words, part of the sell-off was based on that. What did you think of that?

HOGAN: Well, I would tell you this, that Goldman did put out a piece this on Monday talking about how much GDP we would likely lose over the course of '22 if not for having some form of Build Back Better.

But you have to balance that against what we're not going to have in terms of capital taxes changed, the corporate taxes changed. And, certainly, a tax on buybacks certainly was part of this, the pay-fors. So I think it's really a push.

And it's hard to know just how stimulative this is. It's a longer-term plan. It's also hard to know if it was inflationary or not. We don't think it was inflationary or stimulative necessarily in the first three years. But, right now, it's in limbo, so likely something we start to address in the first half of next year, probably in the first quarter, come back to the table.

It probably shrinks in size and addresses less than the administration wants, but something will get done here. I think there's plenty of important things in that bill. I just think we need to get it right-sized and certainly figure out a way to pay for it.

So I think that's where we are right now with that. And I think the market was really reacting to the fact that we're seeing an amazing case count discovery of Omicron. And I think that's what the market is worried about.

Fortunately or unfortunately, it also appears that, while this spreads really quickly, it seems like it's more mild in terms of its symptoms and its veracity.

CAVUTO: Right.

HOGAN: And I think that's good.

And I think that when we look at all the new variants we have seen since the beginning of this pandemic, each one, each successive one has had a diminishing economic impact. And I think this will be the case with Omicron as well.

CAVUTO: Yes, you just hope that we will calm down, because that's what the markets freak out about when we don't, or when they fear that we can't.

So we will see how that sorts out.

Art, if I don't talk to you again, have a merry Christmas, my friend.

HOGAN: Thank you. You too, sir.

CAVUTO: All right, Art Hogan following all these developments.

All the major averages up today, up smartly, bond market holding its own. So, again, in this kind of fickle response, it has more like a civil response, depending on the day, markets up on the idea that maybe, maybe they got a little too far on this.

We were telling you about the change with Joe Manchin and the wrath of Democrats and where things are going. The fallout from that -- after this.


CAVUTO: Had it with rising taxes at your local grocery store? Elizabeth Warren says it's your grocery store, or at least the big grocery store chains. Are they gouging you?

We're on that -- after this.


CAVUTO: Well, now he's done it.

Joe Manchin has incited the wrath of progressives in his own party. And it extends beyond just progressives.

Aishah Hasnie now with the latest on the fallout on Capitol Hill -- Aishah.

AISHAH HASNIE, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Neil. Good afternoon to you.

Well, progressives definitely don't trust Senator Manchin. They're fed up, but President Biden just moments ago says he is still willing to work with the West Virginia senator. Watch.


QUESTION: So, did Senator Manchin break his commitment to you?

BIDEN: Senator Manchin and I are going to get something done. Thank you.


HASNIE: We're going to get something done.

Well, that may not be enough for some on the left, who are still angry. Squad member Ayanna Pressley and also Senator Bernie Sanders now pressing the Senate for a vote immediately, so they can force moderates, moderate senators, to get on the record with this bill.

Leader Schumer is on board with a vote early in the new year. Meantime, AOC taking things a step further, putting the pressure on Biden. She's tweeting: "Biden needs to lean on his executive authority now. He's been delaying and underutilizing it so far," talking about climate and student debt as things that he could move on now.

Amid all the pressure, the Manchin camp kind of quiet today, Neil. We still don't know if he's going to be joining this big conference call for Democrats tonight to talk about how to move forward with Build Back Better. Even though the president came out ready to work with him, this has gotten personal, a lot of back-and-forth in the press between the senator and the White House, with Manchin blaming White House staff for allegedly leaking stories about him.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): They figured surely to God we can move one person. Surely, we can badger and beat one person up. Surely, we can get enough protesters to make that person uncomfortable enough they will just say, OK, I will vote for anything and just quit.

Well, guess what? I'm from West Virginia. I'm not from where they're from, and they can just beat the living crap out of people and think they will be submissive, period.


HASNIE: And, Neil, will keep in mind we only really know on the record what Senator Manchin would have done. We still haven't heard anything from Kyrsten Sinema on the record or other moderates like Jon Tester.

And all of this is happening with the backdrop of even more Democrats now saying that they will not run for reelection, three more in just the last day. That brings the total now to 24 Democrats, as opposed to 17 on the Republican side.

The last time we saw a mass exodus like this for Dems was back in 2012; 29 Democrats retired back then. They kept the Senate in the midterms, but they weren't able to flip the House. So we will see what happens in November -- Neil.

CAVUTO: It's getting pretty crowded, though, to your point.

Aishah, thank you very much, Aishah on Capitol Hill.

Let's go to Republican Congressman Tom Cole on this from Oklahoma.

Congressman, what do you think of the back-and-forth over Joe Manchin's decision?

REP. TOM COLE (R-OK): Well, I think the Democrats are looking a gift horse in the mouth.

Personally, look, if he wants to become a Republican, we'd welcome in with open arms. He represents a Republican state. I think the politics would be a lot easier. But I don't think he really is a Republican. I don't think that's what he wants to do.

I think, frankly, Democrats are not appreciating him enough. He voted for the American Rescue Plan. No -- no Republican did. He voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill. A majority of Republicans didn't vote for that. He signaled he's willing to open up the 2017 tax cut bill for review. That's not the Republican position.

So, again, I think he's an old-style conservative Democrat. And the real signal here is, there's no place for those people left in the Democratic Party if they run out a guy that is, honestly, simply doing what the voters in his own state, a state that President Trump carried by almost 40 points, want him to do.

CAVUTO: Right.

COLE: I mean, that's what elected officials are supposed to do, respond to their constituents, not to be browbeaten by their peers.

CAVUTO: Congressman, the president did seem to intimate that he and Joe Manchin will continue to talk and that they might sort of rebuild Build Back Better next year.

What do you think of that?

COLE: Look, I think there's some things they can probably find some common ground on.

And, frankly, if the Democrats would act in a bipartisan fashion, we're going to have to fund the government eventually. That has to be bipartisan. You can't do that by reconciliation. There could probably be some Republican support for elements of Build Back Better.

But if you try and take the whole package, which is an explosion of debt and spending and taxes, no way any Republican can support that. And, again, I don't think Senator Manchin is alone. I just think he's been the most visible.

This idea of forcing every Democrat to vote on a bill that's not going to become law, I bet you there's at least half-a-dozen Democratic senators that will be telling the leader they think that's a really bad idea. Why would you want to go on the record in Montana or New Hampshire or Arizona on something like that? That's stupid politics.

And it tells you that the Democrats right now are reacting out of recrimination, bitterness and anger, and not being thoughtful about what's best for their own conference and, frankly, how to bring the country together, rather than pull it apart.

CAVUTO: All right, we will watch it very closely.

Congressman, thank you very, very much.

Fair and balanced, a read from a Michigan Democrat on where we go from here and what the party chance is next year.

Stay with us.


CAVUTO: All right, we're following the Omicron spread across the world, different strokes for different folks, depending how they want to handle it.

The airline industry not too keen on this and how we could disrupt air travel. And now Delta Air's CEO is out urging the CDC to reduce the quarantine time for those with breakthrough COVID-19 infections, in other words, they have been fully vaccinated and yet they're still getting the virus. He wants to reduce it to five days for people with these breakthrough conditions.

Obviously, it's comes at a time the major airlines are worried about the impact all of this is going to have on travel. There have been a spike in canceled bookings, a lot of people doing so whether they're in line to get their money back or not on such short notice. We will keep you posted on that.

In the meantime, keeping you posted on some progressives very, very angry at Joe Manchin for torpedoing what they thought was a sure win on getting that Build Back Better plan through and passed in a very, very, pretty tightly divided Senate.

Andy Levin joins us right now, the Michigan congressman, the Democrat, the Congressional Progressive Caucus deputy whip.

Congressman, very good to have you. Thanks for taking the time.

REP. ANDY LEVIN (D-MI): My pleasure, Neil. Good to be with you.

CAVUTO: Same here.

How do you feel about Joe Manchin?

LEVIN: Well, I don't get mad.

I mean, Neil, I get mad when people whack me on the ice rink when I'm playing hockey.


LEVIN: But I don't -- I just don't understand where Senator Manchin is coming from, because West Virginians would benefit disproportionately from this.

I mean, a West Virginia family with two young kids that earns about $40,000 a year would save $10,000 a year under Build Back Better on health care, on child care, and more. West Virginia has more old people than the average state. It has more child poverty than the average state.

So I don't get where he's coming from. He represents about 40 percent as many people as live in the metro Detroit area. So, this one senator from -- representing that many people is holding up this whole train of progress for our country. But we will -- we will have to deal with him.

What I think we need to do is have the president begin to take executive action now on some things that he can, while we continue to negotiate to get this done early in the new year.

So, for example, he could negotiate to lower -- I mean, he could take executive action to lower prescription drug prices now. He could take multiple executive actions on climate change now. And he could give a Christmas present to the millions of people who owe student debt and eliminate a lot of student debt right now by a stroke of the pen.

So that's what I think he should do.

CAVUTO: Or he could just redo the whole measure, right, Congressman?

There has been talk that he might once again revisit. He certainly hinted at it, talking to Joe Manchin again about a Build Back Better, more focused program, where you're -- you get rid of the things or put a priority on the things that you want, maybe the very three items you mentioned.

What do you think of that?

LEVIN: Well, the problem is that we have one shot at this, because not a single Republican is going to vote to provide child care for all American families, and they pay no more than 7 percent of their income. Not a single Republican is going to vote to give pre-K to all 3- and 4-year-olds, and they're not going to vote for the climate change measures.

And you can just go down the list. So we have to do this through reconciliation. And we have to get the votes of all 50 senators, Democratic senators.

CAVUTO: Right.

LEVIN: So we will have to put it all together in one package.

CAVUTO: Real quickly, I mean, there had been talk, and that, obviously, things got pretty frayed and tempers pretty frayed, Congressman.

A lot of fellow Democrats had said of Joe Manchin he's not a real Democrat. There seemed to be a quasi-threat that he might leave the party, maybe as an independent, caucus with Democrats. How would you feel about that?

LEVIN: I don't know, I mean, each -- each legislator can do what they want.

I mean, I hope Joe Manchin remains a Democrat. I think he's to be lauded for having the biggest spread of any senator or representative, Neil, between his votes and Donald Trump's votes. So hats off to him for that.

But he proved in his proposal for voting rights that he will stand up for a lot of Democratic priorities. We just need him to come through and stop changing his position all the time on Build Back Better and come to an agreement and pass this thing for the sake of the American people.

CAVUTO: We will watch it very closely.

Congressman Levin, very good having you. Thanks for taking the time.

LEVIN: Thank you so much. Merry Christmas.

CAVUTO: To you as well.

All right, in the meantime here, we're focusing right now on the soaring prices, one of the reasons why Joe Manchin mentioned he was not keen on this Build Back Better plan.

But along comes Elizabeth Warren to say that has very little to do with the government or government spending and everything to do, particularly at the grocery store, with the supermarket giants.

Food for thought or a food fight in the making -- after this.


CAVUTO: All right, every time you go to the grocery store, you are probably just heaving at the higher prices there.

Well, along comes Senator Elizabeth Warren to target the supermarket chains themselves for rigging these prices, or at least holding it out there. If this rings a bell, it might hearken back to the administration's called for the FTC to investigate a possible cabal on rigging oil prices, and a separate investigation into meat-packers and the like for rigging meat price.

Phil Wegmann of RealClearPolitics on what appears to be a pattern.

But, Phil, what do you make of this?

PHILIP WEGMANN, REALCLEARPOLITICS: I think critics will say that Elizabeth Warren and Democrats are being a little too unrealistic here, given that we're coming out of a pandemic, there's increased demand.

And, of course, you're going to see higher prices at retail stores or groceries, because they're providing a service. You go to a Kroger or a Publix grocery store so that you don't have to go to the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. So those are sort of the pushback here.

Where I think that Senator Warren and Democrats might have a better chance at sniffing out inflation -- and only time will tell because of some of the investigations you just mentioned -- is some of these industries where you do have a relatively few number of producers, like the meatpacking industry.

But so far, we have seen a lot of allegations, and it's going to take time for them to sort of sort through what is actually the cause of these higher prices.

CAVUTO: You know, it could be as simple as supply and demand. It takes a lot to sort of rig across an entire industry, nation, world, for that matter, rig prices.

Leaving that aside, at least if you could throw it out there that don't blame it on the White House or us, the party in charge, what's been happening at the gas station, what's been happening at your local retail store, what's been happening at grocery stores, even if you just throw it out there that there might be another villain out there, it does mitigate some of the finger-pointing exclusively at the party in power, doesn't it?

WEGMANN: It does mitigate some of the finger-pointing.

The thing is that the -- this White House is pointing fingers at a lot of folks, whether it's OPEC and oil producers for higher energy prices, like you pointed out a second ago, whether it's grocery stores with allegedly higher prices.

I think I saw a press release going into Thanksgiving from Senator Warren's office pointing out that big poultry was jacking up the prices of turkeys.

CAVUTO: Right. I remember that.

WEGMANN: The problem with a lot of this, though, is that, if you are a consumer and you're a voter, you're looking at Democrats who are trying to sort through the macroeconomic entrails of whatever is going on and who is to blame.

Meanwhile, Republicans can sit back and they can borrow an argument from Senator Joe Manchin, and they can say, we're not to blame for higher prices. The market isn't to blame for higher prices. Instead, it's Democrats who have spent more on combating COVID than the United States spent on the Second World War and rebuilding Europe.

That's a much easier argument to make. And I think that, as consumers and voters are frustrated, I doubt that they take their anger out on a grocery store or some of these invisible people behind the scenes running these alleged cabals. And I think they are more likely just to say, I'm going to hold whoever's in power accountable.

CAVUTO: Yes, it might be so simple. As you say, in a booming economy, supply and demand comes to roost. I mean, Democrats might want to make lemonade out of lemons that way, but we're still early in this game. We will see what happens.

Phil Wegmann, thank you very, very much.

Well, if you have had it with these higher prices, there are ways to get around it. They call this next woman coming up The Krazy Coupon Lady. Nothing crazy about how much money she saves. She will share her secrets with you.

Say that three times fast -- after this.


CAVUTO: All right, are you tired of paying these sky-high prices?

You have probably seen in stores what look like crazy men or women with all these coupons, and they're paying a fraction of what you are. And you probably resent them for it, but you shouldn't president some of the ideas, because a lot of them pretty common sense.

Heather Wheeler joins us right now, The Krazy Coupon Lady. She calls herself that,so that's not me calling her there.

Heather, very good to have you.


HEATHER WHEELER, THE KRAZY COUPON LADY: Thanks so much for having me. Great to talk with you today.

CAVUTO: All right, let's explore some of the things you look at.

First of all, when you shop in general, you obviously are looking to get a better price than what's out there. How do you do that?


OK. So the first thing that's important to me this year is, I don't really want to have to leave the house very often. And so I'm looking for places that are going to ship to me. And we're in luck, because Amazon, there are still tons of products that you can get in time for Christmas without even leaving your house. That's best-case scenario.

So we're seeing -- the thing that I always leave to the last minute, I don't know about you, but they're the stocking stuffers. They're so tricky to find. But Amazon has a ton of stocking stuffers on sale still that you can get in time for shipping. So we're seeing a lot of toys like LOL Surprise, Captain America LEGO sets, Kinetic Sand, all for like 50 percent off.

And, again, it's going to ship in time for Christmas. I saw a teeth- whitening pen earlier today for $10. That's 50 percent off as well.

CAVUTO: Really?

WHEELER: A Revlon hair dryer for 50 percent off. And, again, all of these are going to ship in time for Christmas.

But if that's something that is making you a little nervous, you don't want to be like waiting for these shipping times, you can still do in-store pickup or, like, drive-up at places like Target and Walmart. And we're seeing -- these retailers are still releasing so many deals.

So there's AirPods that are under $100 for the second generation at Target. And you can do the pickup so you don't even have to go in store if you don't want to. There's an air fryer for 40 percent off at Target. There's an iced coffee machine from Mr. Coffee for $23.

And, again, all of these, you can do without even going into the store, which is my very favorite way to do it.

CAVUTO: All right, but then, again, a lot of people like gift cards.


CAVUTO: And, at this time of year, of course, you get close to Christmas, you can actually get them quite a bit off, right?

WHEELER: Yes, gift cards are another great little secret.

There's a company called Raise.com That's Raise.com.

And they offer discounted gift cards. So you can get a Gap gift card, for example, for 15 percent off the price. Plus, right now, they're offering an extra 15 percent off for anything that you purchase. Now, most of these are digital gift cards. So it's not like you have to wait for it to ship to you.

CAVUTO: All right.

WHEELER: As soon as you check out, you will get a code in your e-mail. You can print that off, stick it in a Christmas card, and give it to whoever's on your list.

CAVUTO: That's very cool. These are great ideas.

Heather, thank you. Nothing crazy about anything you just mentioned.

WHEELER: Nothing crazy.

CAVUTO: You just save a lot of money there. Nothing crazy about saving money.

Heather, thank you very, very much.

So, just some ideas. We're here to help you. We will look at them and get your responses as to whether those ideas made sense.

Here's "The Five."


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