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Bipartisanship Answer to Climate Crisis; Deutch's Carbon Tax Receives Bipartisan Support; Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), is Interviewed About Climate Change, Gun Control and Russian Hacking; The Extraordinary Life of Frederick Douglass; David Blight, Author, "Frederick Douglas: Prophet of Freedom," is Interviewed About Frederick Douglas. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired May 27, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TED DEUTCH (D-FL): The problem is, we don't have any time to waste.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Is bipartisanship the answer to our climate crisis? Democratic congressman, Ted Deutch, sure thinks so. He tells me the world can't wait
for a new president to take action.
Then, the life and times of Frederick Douglass. Pulitzer Prize-Winning author, David Blight, digs into the world of the former slave, who some
call the greatest figure America has ever produced.
Plus, the CEO who looked death in the face and was inspired to improve the lives of his employees. Our Hari Sreenivasan speaks to Mark Bertolini.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Time is ticking away for the United States to act on climate change. While people are now regularly taking to the streets begging for action to combat
the impending disaster, politicians are paralyzed. Government hasn't been taking the steps necessary to hit a deadline from the United Nations, which
says we must half emissions by 2030 to prevent a catastrophic 1.5 degree rise in temperatures.
Amid the action, Democrats are splitting over what to do. Push sweeping reforms like the Green New Deal or focus on moderate bills that are more
likely to garner bipartisan support. It's a divide that's only set to grow as the 2020 election approaches, and climate rises up the list of voter
Florida congressman, Ted Deutch, says there is no time to wait. And his bill to increase the carbon tax has received bipartisan support. He joins
me from Washington to talk about this new environmental bill, as well as gun control and the recent Russian hacking of his own state.
Congressman Deutch, welcome to the program.
DEUTCH: Thank you. It's great to be with you.
AMANPOUR: So, are you getting really serious now about this issue of climate change and tell me how your proposed carbon tax is going to work
and change anything?
DEUTCH: Well, I'm getting serious where there is now serious attention in a bipartisan way in Congress to focus on this because, Christiane, we have
to, given the urgency of this issue. Look, we have introduced a bipartisan carbon fee bill that we are confident will change behavior, will
dramatically reduce carbon emissions and will finally help to show that America is committed to being a leader on combating climate change. We're
going to do it by imposing a carbon fee at the place of emissions.
So, we're going the start at $15 a metric ton, we're going to up $10 per year and it's going to be at the coal mine, at the oil refinery, at the
natural gas processing plant. All of the money that comes in through this carbon fee is then going to be rebated to American families. That's the
difference here between this and other attempts, both in America and around the world. All of the money is going to go back to the American people so
that the majority of Americans, lower-income and middle-income Americans, will actually see more coming back to them than the amount that their
energy costs will rise. And all of that is in the short-term until behavior changes and we see a change in the way the energy industry is
AMANPOUR: I know that you have, correct me if I'm wrong, at least one or two Republicans signed up. But on if other hand, you were meant to join me
today with your Republican co-sponsor, Francis Rooney, also of Florida. He, for whatever reason, has not been able to turn up. And I wonder
whether, you know, of course, there's scheduling conflicts and all the rest of it, but I wonder whether it's difficult still for Republicans to put
their head above the parapet?
DEUTCH: Well, first of all, let's be clear about one thing, in the United States, climate change is only a partisan issue in Washington. I come from
South Florida where every business leader and local, whether they are Democrats or Republicans, understand the impact of climate change because
we see sea level rise affecting our community and our economy already.
My colleague, Mr. Rooney, couldn't join us, but I can safely say he is not been bashful in his advocacy for this legislation and the need for us to
act in a bipartisan way. We just have to break through in Washington. It's frustrating that it's been so difficult when this is an issue that
impacts literally every part of our country. But we're starting to see more people ask questions, engage and figure out how they can be helpful to
do this with us.
AMANPOUR: Well, Congressman, there is a new poll which suggests that the majority, [13:05:00] vast majority of American people put this issue way at
the top of their list of election time concerns. But it is Washington that's going to have to agree to get this thing moving.
And so far, the head of the Senate, the majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, has said that there is no way that "that it will pass the
Senate, and it won't pass the Senate after we retain our majority in 2020 either." So, how do you overcome this?
DEUTCH: Well, first of all, I don't know. I can't speak to Mitch McConnell's experiences in Kentucky. But I can assure you that he's got
constituents and business leaders and others in his state, and certainly there are significant business leaders from the largest corporations in the
world who understand that we cannot continue to put our heads in the sand on this issue.
So, the way to do it is to simply plow through, push through him. There is going to be the first presidential debates on the Democratic side, it will
take place in South Florida, in Miami this July. And I have every reason to believe, and certainly I'm going to push as hard as I can, to make sure
that climate change is right at the top of the agenda where, as you rightly point out, Christiane, is where the American people believe and understand
that it needs to be, if we're going to take advantage of this last opportunity we have to help re-chart the direction of our planet.
AMANPOUR: I mean, it beggars belief that in a country of such innovation and capitalists and manufacturing expertise, why it hasn't been put to the
top of the agenda of some really major new economic sort of power house. It's bizarre to me.
DEUTCH: The fact that Congress hasn't acted doesn't mean that American business isn't aware of this issue, recognizes the opportunities, not just
to address climate change, but in so doing, to bring about a real economic revolution.
There are entrepreneurs, small entrepreneur, large companies, as I said, local business leaders, all of whom are facing this head on. We have a
tendency to look at Congress and think that if Mitch McConnell decides if he doesn't like something, that therefore we're not going to see change.
Our country is full of examples where Washington was slow to the game, but around the country, others took the leadership roles and helped drag
Washington along with them. We're trying to be their allies and work with those who recognize the economic opportunities.
As you point out, to really make America, on this issue especially, an economic juggernaut in leading the world to a cleaner and more vibrant,
both economy and by doing that, by tackling climate change having a greener planet and one more sustainable.
DEUTCH: The left-wing of your party believes that this doesn't go far enough, that your fee, you know, your carbon fee proposal, is essentially
talking about reduction of 33 percent of emissions by 2030. People are saying that's not fast enough. The U.N. says that's not fast enough. And
particularly, in a particular barbed assault on your idea, the Food & Water Watch group has said, "This carbon tax bill amounts to a climate denial not
climate action. Emissions pricing schemes like this one are actually supported by the world's largest oil and gas corporations because they do
nothing more than entrench the status quo and economy dependent on polluting fossil fuels."
What do you say to that?
DEUTCH: Well, I reject that out of hand. Look, the fact is, it's also true that some of the world's largest environmental groups are also
supportive of what we're trying to do. The fact is, if we can reduce our carbon emissions by 45 percent over the next 10 years, by 90 percent by
2050, hopefully faster than that, if we do it by having the largest carbon fee, $15, and then increasing dramatically at $10 per year, to see behavior
change, with a progressive system, to return the money to American families, and a system that will give the EPA the opportunity to come back
in and ensure that these goals are being met, I guess the question that I have is, when will actually be willing to take meaningful action? This
represents a significant step forward.
And the last I checked in Washington, [13:10:00] we haven't done anything on climate change. This is as, the analysis shows, this would be a
dramatic step forward in reducing carbon emissions. That's why there is bipartisan support for it, that's why so many groups from across the
political spectrum, and rank and file environmentalists from around the country who have reached out in droves to encourage members to sign on. We
have got to move forward. This is a significant -- this would be a significant step forward.
That's -- it's one piece, but it's a vital piece toward changing behavior, reducing carbon emissions, and ultimately, making sure that we start to do
all of the things necessary for us to tackle climate change and start to address it in a way that will keep our planet and our economy and our kids
and future generations safe.
AMANPOUR: Well, and you really do have the wind in your back because most people around the world believe that, and certainly, our young people are
just at their wit's end, trying to get people of our generation to get serious about this.
Can I also ask you about another thing that unites voters and especially millennials all over the world, certainly in the countries where it's
appropriate? That's the issue of gun control. You have just introduced a piece of legislation last week called the Jake Laird Act. Florida has seen
its terrible share of school shootings, the Parkland and other such terrible disasters. What will the Jake Laird Act do?
DEUTCH: The Jake Laird Act is an -- will provide important tools to law enforcement to be able to take guns out of the hands of people who pose a
risk to others or to themselves. This is something that's been done in a number of states throughout the country. We want every state to be able to
do it. We want to make sure that the dangerous people in our country can't have access to dangerous weapons.
But, Christiane, I would just say, since this is very much like climate change, I represent Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland. I
was with the families just last night. And for my community that will never be the same, a community like so many others in our country who feel
the regular -- whether it's regular daily gun violence or these mass shootings that occur far too often, the Jake Laird Act is an important step
But we have also passed universal background checks in the U.S. House. That's sitting in the Senate waiting for Mitch McConnell to bring it up for
a vote. When there is something that has over 90 percent of support from the American people, it's certainly in a politician's interest to move
forward on it. The Senate ought to move forward to help save lives.
Young people across our country have been energized over the issue of taking action to save the lives of their friends that they've seen be
gunned down in their schools. And it's time that the politicians listen to them. I appreciate you asking about that. This is an issue that we also
need to talk about and it needs to be front and center.
AMANPOUR: It is extraordinary that it's politics in the Senate that stops this. And the reason I'm pointing that out is because I want to ask you to
react to, obviously, this spate of so-called religious shootings, shootings that are designed to go viral, whether it's an American synagogues or
churches, whether it's in mosques around the world like we saw in Christchurch, New Zealand.
I just had an opportunity to interview the Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, who, within 26 days of that massacre, got
bipartisan support to change the gun laws and to reform them. And this is what we spoke about in Paris last week on this issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: I have to acknowledge, New Zealand had pretty permissive gun legislation.
AMANPOUR: Well, actually, some of the -- some of your people said, you know, "We feed half the world. We're hunters."
ARDERN: And we are. And we will continue to be a food producing nation that deals with animal welfare issues and so on, and has a practical
purpose and use for guns. But you can draw a line and say that does not mean that you need access to military style semiautomatic weapons and
assault rifles. You do not. And New Zealand has by and large absolutely agreed with that position.
Australia experienced a massacre and changed their laws. New Zealand had its experience and changed its laws. To be honest with you, I do not
understand the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, that statement of hers got a lot of pickup. But I mean, do you understand your own country?
DEUTCH: Well, I don't -- I do understand -- I understand what I hear every day, Christiane, which is [13:15:00] parents and young people who literally
beg for action on gun safety. I have enormous respect for the prime minister. I have not had the privilege of meeting her. But what happened
in New Zealand and the way that they took that moment and stood up and said, "There is just no reason that weapons of war belong in our
communities," should be a model.
And in America, we know the same thing. We know that throughout our country, courts have held up bans on these weapons of war. We know that
there is strong support for taking action. Whether we go forward with a ban which is necessary, whether we amend the National Firearms Act to treat
these weapons of war the same way we treat machine guns. The fact is, we have to take action.
She is not wrong when she looking at what happens in America and the regular onslaught of gun violence and says she doesn't understand. I don't
understand either. Most people in our country don't understand.
And As we head into this presidential campaign, I certainly hope that every one of the candidates is forced to confront where they stand on this issue.
Do they stand with the kids who have seen their classmates die, the families who are afraid to send their kids to school not knowing whether
they're going to come home, those who suffer violence every week or do they stand on the side of the lobbyists for the gun companies whose sole focus
is on raising the revenue of the gun manufacturers? Weapons of war don't belong on our streets. New Zealand got it right. America needs to act as
AMANPOUR: On the issue of Russian hacking, it was discovered that two Florida districts were hacked in the 2016 elections, but we only discovered
it after the Mueller report was made public, or at least the unredacted parts were made public. Can you tell me about that? And do you fear that
is potentially a threat for the next round of elections in your state and the United States?
DEUTCH: Well, I can't tell you as much as I would like to, frankly. We had a briefing, a classified briefing with the FBI last week, and I urged
them to go back and reconsider their decision to keep this information in a classified level to prevent the American people from knowing all of the
details of what happened in the last election.
The reason that's so important is because we face the same threat going into the next election. The Mueller report made clear that all of the
ways, not even all of the ways, made clear in great detail how the Russians worked to interfere with our election, our last presidential election.
We know that they've gone to great lengths to interfere with elections throughout Europe and other parts of the world. So, it's imperative that
we fully understand what they tried to do, where they were successful, and what everyone needs to do to prevent it from happening again. That's the
biggest frustration on the way the Mueller report discussion has played out, that the attorney general has tried so hard to spin the conclusions of
the Mueller report, that it's frankly prevented us from focusing on the most significant piece of this, which is the attempts by the Russian
government to interfere with our election, and the very real concerns that we have that they'll continue this and will attempt to do the same thing in
even more ways the next election.
AMANPOUR: Congressman Ted Deutch, thank you very much for joining me.
DEUTCH: Thanks for having me, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Now, we cast our eyes back to America's past, as we take a deep dive into the extraordinary life of Frederick Douglass.
Born into slavery, he rose to become the most prominent abolitionist of the 19th century, using his eloquent and powerful voice to argue for both
racial and gender equality. Author and Yale University professor, David Blight, expands his master work on that period of American history,
slavery, the civil war and the Douglass effect. He has fascinating new insights into his life in his Pulitzer Prize-Winning biography, "Frederick
Douglas: Prophet of Freedom."
David Blight, welcome to the program.
DAVID BLIGHT, AUTHOR, "FREDERICK DOUGLAS: PROPHET OF FREEDOM": Thank you. It's good to be with you.
AMANPOUR: So, this book is causing huge waves. You've got the Pulitzer Prize. But tell me what it is about this period in American history,
because it's not the first book of this period, you've done the civil war several times, you've even written about Frederick Douglass before.
BLIGHT: Yes. Well, the civil war is the pivot of American history, it's the central event of the 19th century, it's when the United States tore
itself to pieces and then had to find a way to put itself back together.
We reinvented a second republic out of that war. And Frederick Douglass [13:20:00] is as good a spokesman and as good a commentator on that entire
epic as we ever had.
AMANPOUR: His origin story though is what really -- I think, everything centers around. In other words, his escape and what he did with that
escape and how he escaped. So, take us back to that beginning.
BLIGHT: Sure. He was born in a back water of the American slave society, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. He never knew who his father was,
although his father was probably one of his White owners. And he knew the name of his mother, but barely knew her. He grows up 20 years, his first
20 years as a slave on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and then nine of those years in Baltimore.
And the fact that he became an urban slave, living in Baltimore, which had a large, free Black population and a distinct and very active community,
has everything to do with why he escaped. His literacy also had everything to do with why he escaped.
He did finally plot his escape at age 20 in 1838 by a pretty clever scheme of riding three trains and three boats, ferryboats, from Baltimore to New
York City, crossing the Hudson River into Lower Manhattan after about 36 hours on the road.
AMANPOUR: Obviously, you know, he didn't go to school. He didn't have formal training. And from your book, it obviously transpires that the wife
of his White owner decided to teach him literacy. Tell me about that.
BLIGHT: Yes. Her name was Sophia Auld. He's about 7 and 8 years old, living in Baltimore. He is sent there to be, in effect, the playmate of
the nephew of his owner. But while there, Sophia Auld teaches him his letters, his alphabet and reads aloud with him for more than a year, and
particularly reads the bible with him.
And once he seized upon his literacy, once he seized upon the ability to read and eventually to write, although that's going to take a lot longer,
nothing seems to have been more important to this slave child and then later teenager than his mastery of words. He also then had the tutoring,
so to speak, of a Black minister, a preacher named Charles Lawson, who was a kind of store front, informal preacher, who loved to read the bible out
loud. And once he found this teenager who could read so well at age 12, 13 and 14, Douglass, then Frederick Bailey, sat with old Lawson day in and day
out whenever they had time and read the bible out loud.
AMANPOUR: But I guess you would say then, in today's parlance, Frederick Douglass was really fortunate to have been embraced by so many important
mentors. That's unusual, isn't it, for a young, Black slave?
BLIGHT: It is. It is. It's his greatest good fortune while a slave to encounter language and to encounter people who aided him in gaining that
language. But then he also had to seize upon it, because he is sent back to the Eastern Shore when he's 17 and 18 years old, and he spends an entire
year being savagely beaten by an overseer named Edward Covey.
AMANPOUR: That, though, was one of the formative moments of his life, not the beating, but the way he stood up to it. And you write about that,
saying that it also later served the former slave story, is the establishment of his manhood by ritualized violence. "I was nothing
before," he wrote, "I was a man now."
BLIGHT: Yes. He writes about that experience, of course, in retrospect as an auto biographer. He claims that his fight, when he stands up to Edward
Covey, lasted two hours and so forth. I doubt it efficient lasted that long. But Douglass, as the writer, transforms that into the metaphor into
a kind of resurrection.
He is an 18-year-old kid who has been beaten into submission week after week after week by this deranged overseer, this besoughted man who
apparently enjoyed beating his slaves. Douglass tells us by standing up in this ritual of male violence, he then forced Covey to never touch him
again. And in the last few months he lived with Covey, according to Douglass's telling, Covey never touched him.
Douglass makes that a pivot in his autobiography, he says, "I have shown you the ways a man was made a slave. Let me now show you the way a slave
became [13:25:00] a man." We can make too much out of that, but Douglass did show us there that in his own memory, at least, some kind of ritualized
violence was the way that he saw himself resurrecting himself.
AMANPOUR: I actually really glommed onto that because I think that it stands to reason that he made so much of it. Because maybe it wasn't the
violence, but his resistance and his bravery to stand up, which then shaped him for the rest of his life and career. Because as you write, even the
famous mentor that he found in Massachusetts, the abolitionist, William Lloyd Garrison, they were very close. But ultimately, there was a break
between them over politics and how to move forward about the constitution, about what America really stood for.
And he also had the temerity to stand up to the great Abraham Lincoln, didn't he, on some of Lincoln's proposals to send Black saves off to
colonize Central America or Africa. I mean, where did he get that bravery from? Maybe from beating Covey and telling him to quit it?
BLIGHT: That's possible indeed. Through the 1850s, Douglass gains the confidence of an extraordinary order who could -- to go in any hall, any
church or any park in a town or a city and just wow an audience. But by then, he had also written two very important autobiographies. Hundreds and
hundreds of the short form political editorials. He had written one novella. And some of the greatest speeches in American rhetorical history,
especially his 4th of July speech of 1852.
BLIGHT: Such that -- by the time he meets Abraham Lincoln, in the middle of the civil war, he was a bit odd by Lincoln, let's make no mistake, but
he stood up to Lincoln. He had a very serious conversation with Lincoln in their first meeting and especially in their second meeting. He went to
Lincoln with protests against the discriminations being experienced by Black soldiers, two of him were Douglass' own sons in 1863 and 1864.
AMANPOUR: You mentioned the fantastic Independence Day speech of 1852. So, allow me to quote a little from that dramatic speech. This is what he
said, "The existence of slavery in this country brands your republicanism a sham, your humanity as a base pretense, and your Christianity as a lie. It
destroys your moral power abroad; it corrupts your politicians at home. It saps the foundation of religion; it makes your name a hissing and a byword
to a mocking earth." I mean, that is just, you know, awe inspiring, isn't it?
BLIGHT: Beautifully read.
BLIGHT: It is. That speech is what I like to call the rhetorical masterpiece of American abolitionism. But at its heart, it is a classic
Jeremiah, that's the rhetorical form named after the Prophet Jeremiah, which is the prophet taking his people or his congregation, if you like, to
the altar, calling them to the altar and chastising them for their declension, for their sins for how they have poisoned their society and
warning them that if they do not change their ways, their world is about to be destroyed.
But the 4th of July speech is much more than that. It's a beautiful use of language. It's almost like a symphony in three movements. He draws in his
audience by telling them the founding fathers were geniuses. He calls the Declaration of Independence the ring bolt of American liberty. But then
about one-third of the way in, he says, "Pardon me, why have you invited me here, a former slave on your 4th of July?" And then he uses that word,
you, your, you, your, over and over and over.
Then he takes his audience through the whole middle of the speech, through the litany of evils and horrors of everything from the slave ships to slave
auctions to slavery itself, all over the United States. And then he ends by telling -- he ends that section by telling them, "You have a reptile
coiled at your heart. Break away, break away, break away."
It's like Jonathan Edwards. And in fact, it does Jonathan Edwards one better. And in the ending of the speech, is simply Douglass gently letting
them up and saying, "But your country is still young. Your country is still malleable. You may yet have time to repent, reform and re-create
yourselves." But that speech is in the great tradition of the Jeremiah, the delivery of the warning about the hypocrisy of the people. But if they
don't rise up and change their ways, they are probably [13:30:00] going to be destroyed. And that, in part, of course, what the Civil War brought
AMANPOUR: So David, obviously Frederick Douglass strove all his life for suffrage for his -- for black Americans, but he was also one of the
earliest to join the birth of American feminism. He was the one of the first to be there at Senaca Falls in 1848, but he seems to have had a
pretty rocky relationship with the idea of who should get their suffrage, who deserved it most, when and what for.
And just to read these two quotes, on the positive he first said, the history of the world has given us many sublime undertakings, but none more
sublime than this, he said about American suffrages.
But then later he said, with the, i.e. women, it's a desirable matter. With us, it is important, a question of life and death. And he came to
rhetorical blows, at least, with some of the great figures of the early feminist movement like Susan B. Anthony.
BLIGHT: Yes, well those are two very different context and both are true. Douglass was one of -- the only male speakers at the Senaca Falls
Convention of 1848, the Great Women's Suffrage Convention that Susan Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Stone and others planned.
But, when it came to the 15th Amendment, in 1869, 1870, the voting rights amendment, which was, of course, a whole package of compromises and
everybody with one eye open understood that if you put women suffrage into that amendment it never passes. It just simply never would have come out
of the Congress and certainly never would have been ratified by three- quarters of the states.
Now Douglass knew that, everybody knew that, but the leaders of the Women's Suffrage Movement were no longer patient. They had put off their movement
during the Civil War, saying it was the black man's hour, but now they wanted equal suffrage, rightly so.
However, they fought back with a lot of racist language. They fought back with all kinds of racial epithets. Now they said the things very publicly
like, if an ignorant black man can stumble to the polls and vote, why can't a sophisticated, educated white woman like me vote? And it got uglier.
They used the "N" word. Susan Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and they even used it on Douglass himself.
Now, Douglass handled that with -- largely with grace, but not always. He did say things like you just quoted. He also said at one point,
unfortunately, that but women still have their husbands to vote their interest. Now, right when you though our man was very modern, you think,
oh God, how can you say that.
AMANPOUR: And you know, fast forward a couple of centuries and here we are, at a very difficult time of race relations in the United States. What
would he have thought of his reform, his appeals to the Better Angels and the fierceness of his rhetoric when he sees the deep divisions, the deep
racism that is still evident in the United States despite the fact that we already had one black president?
BLIGHT: Right, it was never easy to know what a historical figure would think today. But Douglass would no doubt be profoundly frustrated,
profoundly disappointed that all of those elements of white supremacy, of racism that he encountered throughout his lifetime.
And he was Jim Crowed more times than he could ever count, all over the United States, it became almost a routine, he would be profoundly
disappointed that all of those elements that some how the experience of the Civil War and reconstruction had put on the run, had put on the other side
of history, low and behold, of course, were reviving in his own lifetime.
He lives all the way to 1895, to witness the betrayal of reconstruction and then the creation of the Jim Crow system and even to the age of lynching in
the 1890s. But if he were here today, he would wonder whether we know any of our history, to be perfectly frank.
But of course, by the 1880s and 1890s, he's fighting against the emergence of this lost cause tradition that will plant so many of those confederate
monuments all over our landscape, and indeed, plant a version of the meaning and the story of the Civil War into our culture that is still there
telling us somehow that the war wasn't about slavery and that they south fought as nobly as did the north and everyone should be honored in some
equal way. Douglass would be deeply troubled that we don't seem to know our history and act upon it.
AMANPOUR: It really is an extraordinary, extraordinary story. You said, that peril Americans don't know their history, well, hopefully they'll know
a little bit more because the Obamas have signed a deal with Neflix to actually produce a series based on your book. So, this is going to give a
whole new life to Frederic Douglass and to your book.
David Blight, thank you so much indeed for joining me.
BLIGHT: Thank you Christiane. I enjoyed it very much.
AMANPOUR: It's a story bound to leave you wanting more. Next, Mark Bertolini used to be known for his bear knuckled leadership, but now the
former CEO of the health insurance giant Aetna has swapped dollars and markets for the public good. His new book, "Mission-Driven Leadership: My
Journey as a Radical Capitalist" chronicles the wake-up call he needed to change his capitalists ways.
So, what did change his tune? He told our Hari Sreenivasan.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
[13:35:00] HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Should health care be a basic human right?
MARK BERTOLINI, FORMER AETNA CEO: Yes.
SREENIVASAN: That was an easy answer. All right, I mean, I'm saying we have somewhere around, what, 28ish million people uninsured. We've got our
private sector that spends three times as much as comparable counties; governments in other countries spend half as much as we do. Why do we have
BERTOLINI: Well, I think we have a confusion between the investment decision and the financing decisions. So, if you look at the OECD nations,
the United States is 34 out of 34 of the OEC nations in value for quality rendered in health care.
When you look at the overall spend of health care and social costs and you add the two together, we are 12th in the OECD nations. And when you look
at the split between health care and social, we are the only country that spends more than 42 percent on health care, everybody else spends less and
they spend the rest on social programs. We spend 62 percent on health care. So, what you're seeing is the collision of a social experiment
failing into the health care system in things like the opioid epidemic.
SREENIVASAN: Right now political season is continuing, you've got presidential candidates talking a lot, several of them propose on the
Democratic side, a Medicare For All type of system. Will that fix the challenges that you're talking about? If not, why not?
BERTOLINI: I won't and here's why. First, let's define what Medicare for All is, for a single payer. And when I ask that question, most people
can't answer it. And when I ask people, well tell me a country that has it, they usually offer the U.K. or Canada. Neither of those countries is a
single-payer system. They're socialized medicine. It includes not only the financing of health care but the provision of health care. If that's
what we want, then we have a much bigger lift.
But, we should be talking to people about what matters to them about their health care. What is it about my health that gets in the way of the life I
want to lead? And I would introduce this notion that the opposite of health is poverty and the opposite of poverty is health. It's not wealth.
It's, I can live a life in a way that is comfortable to me.
And what we're finding now is that 10 percent of people's life expectancy related to the clinical care they get, 30 percent is related to the genetic
code they have and 60 percent is related to where they live. So, your zip code is now more determinant of your health and longevity in life than your
genetic code or the health care system itself.
Oh, and by the way, on that 10 percent we're spending $3.2 trillion, because we're catching all of the stuff coming out of lifestyle. So, until
we fix that social determinant model, we're going to continue to have sicker and sicker people and they system will fail because they'll be
overburdened with things they can't deal with.
SREENIVASAN: When the Affordable Care Act came around and you were running Aetna. You were in, I want to say, 15 .
SREENIVASAN: . 17 marketplaces, by the time you left, you'd left almost all of them. You called these marketplaces death spirals. Why?
BERTOLINI: What was happening was -- and the whole model of insurance is to manage large populations of risk. And when you price the product, in
particularly in the Affordable Care Act, we had to price 18 months before the period actually began, by the way -- by virtue of the way the
government built the program.
And I remember sitting with President Obama having the conversation, give us time to stabilize the markets, look at this as a three year investment.
And we did. And we had a set of metrics that we were monitoring and what it would take. And what kept happening is, because of the political
dialogue in the Senate and the House over what, quote, unquote, Obamacare meant.
Nothing got solved politically, which it needed to be. We needed legislation to change the things that would stabilize the markets. They
kept playing with the risk pools and the risk adjustment and the -- and -- and the systems in a way that didn't allow us to stabilize the market. And
so for us, it was when you get the market in shape and you're ready to play by rules, and rules of law, then we will be willing to come back in.
SREENIVASAN: Let's talk about kind of the business side of healthcare, the merger, the acquisition of CVS and Aetna, you've the Cigna Express Scripts
deal that also happened, you've got other ones kind of in the pipeline. Now these mergers seemed good for shareholders, but how are they good for
BERTOLINI: Well, if we're going to solve the social determinant problem, we need to get into the home. We now have 60 percent of the American
public who are $400 away from a financial disaster. That's less than most of their deductibles. The next 20 percent are within $4,000 to $5,000 of a
financial disaster. And the current system is so costly, by virtue of the way it's constructed and operated, the healthcare system, that we have to
get closer to the home and community.
And so our strategy was to be part of the CVS organization to generate a local presence in every community so that we can arbitrage the high cost
health care system by offering more in the home and more in the community. It's place making (ph).
SREENIVASAN: So does that -- so that would (ph) mean that CVS becomes a little bit more of an urgent care center, or that I'm getting not just my
drugs there but some of my medical services there so that I don't have to go to a hospital?
BERTOLINI: Think of it as a community center, and every community is different. So I would argue in low income neighborhoods, where people are
on the edge of poverty and always have that fear of freefalling into poverty in a very significant way, what can we do to help create a stronger
safety net for them? If you have a significant event that throws you into poverty, try and figure out how to get child care, transportation,
schooling, all those things. And so couldn't we create a store that does that?
Couldn't we create a store that has a concierge service that says let me help you figure out what the next steps ought to be so that you don't fall
through the hole and lose everything you have?
SREENIVASAN: Now you personally have experience with rare diseases. Your son had one. What did that teach you about the system?
BERTOLINI: It's not a system. It's not a system. It's a bunch of rifle shots by people who are really talented marksman but aren't necessarily
looking at the whole person.
SREENIVASAN: Tell us about what your son has.
BERTOLINI: My son had T-cell gamma delta lymphoma. Only 47 people have been diagnosed, all men, all between the ages of 17 and 35. He was 16. So
he was the youngest to ever get the disease. They told me he had six months left. My wife and I took him around to see doctors, found a doctor
in Boston who said, you know what, the T-cells are cancerous and those are the cells that live under your skin, if we could chase the T-cells away, we
could cure the cancer but that means we need to do a bone marrow transplant, which is going to create graft-versus-host disease, which will
kill the T-cells.
And if we can solve the problem of him surviving graft-versus-host disease, he'll live.
BERTOLINI: Right. Six months or graft-versus-host disease. So we chose the graft-versus-host disease route. I moved into his hospital room with
him, because it wasn't just the medical care, it was the food on his plate. He was allergic to legumes and they kept showing up on his plate. You
know, he wasn't getting -- he wasn't getting good information. The residents would show up at 2:00 o'clock in the morning, I'd look over their
shoulder to see, you know, are you doing the renal dosing math right at 2:00 o'clock in the morning after you've been up for 24 hours.
SREENIVASAN: Most people do not have an advocate like you living in their hospital room.
BERTOLINI: Right. But we need to allow for that. So one of the things we did at Aetna is we created a PTO bank, all of us could donate our excess
PTO to a bank where employees who needed to be with their family when they are in sick or in crisis could do it without losing pay.
SREENIVASAN: So he was going to get a secondary disease from the treatment?
BERTOLINI: Yes. And that's what destroyed his kidneys, which then I gave him my left kidney in 2007, you know, five years later, because that --
that cure went after his kidneys. Now he's 33 years old, he's got, you know, a beautiful daughter and another one on the way and I couldn't be
happier for him.
SREENIVASAN: How much do you think that medical care cost him?
BERTOLINI: Oh, I know what it was. It was over $2 million. In the end analysis. Some of which we had to pay out of pocket.
SREENIVASAN: How good was his insurance?
BERTOLINI: It was good. It was good. It was very good.
SREENIVASAN: Yes. Yes. You know, I -- you personally, also have had an experience with the healthcare system that -- or the rifle shots, as you
call it -- that most people couldn't. Tell us about what happened.
BERTOLINI: I -- you know, I was skiing with my daughter. I went to check on her, I was going at a high rate of speed, I caught my left edge of (ph)
my ski and a tree hit me in the crux of my next and left shoulder. I snapped my scapula in half, I macerated my brachial plexus, I pulled the
nerve root from my left arm out of my spinal cord. And then immediately unconscious and I slipped head first down into water, where the water ran
behind my neck for two hours while they tried to figure out how to get me out of there. And that saved my life, because I broke C2, C3, C5, C6 and
SREENIVASAN: So the cold water was, what? Freezing you?
BERTOLINI: Yes. It was preventing the spinal cord from rupturing. I mean, I have what you would call a quadriplegic injury that should have
either resulted in death or quadriplegic result, and here I am, well (ph) I'm walking around with a lot of pain in my left arm all the time. It
hurts all the time. It's hurting now. Never stops --
BERTOLINI: You on pain meds?
SREENIVASAN: No. Yoga, meditation, bit of (ph) chanting.
BERTOLINI: I'm assuming that yoga and meditation is not what the doctor ordered. What did they prescribe you?
SREENIVASAN: They prescribed me pain meds. So I was on seven different narcotics for the first year. I was on Neurontin, Keppra, Vicodin,
OxyContin, Fentanyl patches and Dilaudid for breakthrough pain.
BERTOLINI: Geez (ph).
SREENIVASAN: Yes. And -- and it never stopped the pain. I just didn't care, I was so high all the time. Now, lucky for me, and given my
experiences in high school and college, I never really had an addictive personality, so I never got hooked on drugs. So I just found it to be --
you know, it was like -- it was like Charlie Brown's mother in the cartoons when she talked. It was like wah, wah ,wah -- everything was just really
weird, right? And so, you know, it was recommended to me by -- by my wife (inaudible) craniosacral therapy.
And so we look for craniosacral therapist, find one and I'm going, how does this help? And -- and I went for the first visit. It was OK. Taught me
something breathing and managing neuropathic pain. But by the fourth visit, I was like, oh my gosh, this is amazing and I started coming off my
drugs. And over a period of six months, I was off all my drugs.
BERTOLINI: What does that tell you when on the one hand, your day job is talking about figuring out the prices for all the drugs you were
prescribed, and here are -- here's a completely different way to think about your health that's working for you, the boss of one of the largest
healthcare companies in the country.
SREENIVASAN: That's -- that's why I brought it to work. I said, oh my gosh, this is amazing. I was doing the craniosacral therapy, and then I
started doing yoga because I couldn't run every morning, and then I got into yoga, the -- the -- the spiritual side of it. You know, (inaudible),
all this stuff and sort of got really deep into it, and said, you know, we should do this for everybody in the company. And so I came to work one
day, I was the president of the company at the time, said, let's do yoga and meditation for everybody.
BERTOLINI: And they're like, you know, he's really hit his hard pretty hard.
SREENIVASAN: Yes. The CMO, the chief medical officer comes to me about an hour later and goes, you know, this is voodoo medicine, right? Everybody
thinks you're crazy. And I said, well, Lonny -- Lonny Reisman was his name -- well, what do you think, Lonny, what would it take? And he said, well,
we have to do a double blind study. So we did a double blind study, heart rate variability pre and post, looking at -- you know, we categorized
people by stress quintile. In (ph) the highest quintile stress (ph) in our company, people are spending $1,500 more a year more than -- on healthcare
than anybody else.
BERTOLINI: So the more stressed you are, the more likely you are going to spend --
BERTOLINI: -- on healthcare.
BERTOLINI: And now it's dollars and cents.
SREENIVASAN: Right. And so I said, well let's see what happens. And so we did this whole study. And -- and 12 week program, mindfulness and --
and -- and yoga, and we had a huge drop of heart rate variability of all the employees, even more so the people in the top quintile. And -- and it
paid for itself.
BERTOLINI: So if you're a guy that can do this for his company, and you see the benefits, why not lay this out for all of the people who are on
your insurance plans?
SREENIVASAN: We offered it to all the people. So people would have to want to pay for it if they buy it. They have to understand the tradeoffs,
which we offered it to everybody. The biggest problem with the program for a lot of employers were they didn't have the room or they didn't want to
give the people the time off. I give them the time off during the day to do the hour of therapy. It was well worth it.
BERTOLINI: Because it paid back.
SREENIVASAN: Our healthcare costs dropped seven percent the next year.
BERTOLINI: Which for --
SREENIVASAN: Dropped seven percent, not a reduction in trend, they dropped seven percent the next year.
BERTOLINI: So that's what? 50,000 people?
SREENIVANSAN: Look, you're a guy who has means and we can talk about that, but how has this process taught you from your own life, your son's life,
running a company, about all these people that don't have the means to afford this kind of care? I mean, getting back to that first question,
should health care be a basic right. How can I afford this?
BERTOLINI: Here's the issue. We have two economies in the United States, not an economy. We have a wage economy and we have wealth economy. And
when you look at basic wages since 1970, they've been pretty much flat on a real basis. And if you're in the wage economy you haven't gained anything,
because you've actually have lost, right?
BERTOLINI: Because costs of goods have gone up, everything else. And for those in the wealth economy, have been able to invest in the market, invest
in money market funds or school funds forever for the kids, they've done really well.
And we had this one group of people that we fooled from 1970 to 2008, it was called the middle class, because they thought they had an asset that
was a wealth asset, it was called their home. And they used it like a wealth asset and it wasn't. And when it went away, a vast swath of our
population fell under that class of just a wage economy.
SREENIVANSAN: Look, people are going to say, listen, clearly you know that you're part of the wealth economy. Since -- in those past 40 years the
average raise has been about 11 percent for the average line worker, the average CEO compensation has gone up roughly 900 percent.
SREENIVANSAN: Right. Your exit package around Aetna is rumored to be around a half a billion dollars.
SREENIVANSAN: How -- how do we reconcile this? I mean, yes, the stock of your company is four times as big as when you walked in and you've
increased performance for shareholders, et cetera, but where do we come to a point where we say, hey, guess what, more of my staff need to be paid
better? Perhaps it's taking something out of our C-level executive pockets and investing back into our companies.
BERTOLINI: And that's what we did with our employees when we raised minimum wage from $12 to $16 an hour and wiped health care costs for 7,000
of our employees. We said, you know what, we've got to transfer and we're going to pay more.
So, I paid 62 percent of all my health care costs including my premium. We're going to not take raises, my senior team didn't get raises for four
years, and whenever the budget doesn't balance, we'll take it out of the incentive comp pool for the senior team, versus taking it out of merit comp
for the front line. So, we did that. We made that trade-off.
SREENIVANSAN: Does that help become a more profitable company? Because shareholders .
BERTOLINI: It did.
SREENIVANSAN: . then look at this and say, I don't know about all this, all I want is my shares to go up every quarter.
BERTOLINI: On January 2, 2015, I announced the roll-out of this program. I was in front of the JP Morgan conference, where 250 million of our 370
million shares were there and I said, we're doing this. I didn't get one pushback from our shareholders. I got applause from people.
And it was the beginning of a whole lot more things, like the PTL Bank, we now pay student loans as a company, we know doubled our tuition assistance.
We did a lot of things like that to improve the quality of life, because we gave the organization permission to take care of one another.
And so, of the rumored more than half a billion dollars I got, it was all stock that I never sold. So, I never traded the stock. My compensation
base salary didn't increase until the last year, so it was flat the whole time, although it was very handsome.
BERTOLINI: Right? But, my stock that I got priced into what my compensation was sat in the company coffers and never moved until the deal
close. And more than half of it is now sitting in a foundation that's focused on education environment and community sustainability.
This very model of moving away from relying on the federal government to try and triangulate on social uneconomic ecosystems that are so big that
they can't do it, they can't move, they just argue with one another, and give back to local community and make investments there.
SREENIVANSAN: Marl Bertolini, thanks for joining us.
BERTOLINI: Thank you. Good to see you Hari.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: That's it for our program tonight, but join us tomorrow for an exclusive interview with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.
It's a wide-ranging discussion with the most powerful woman in the world, and it's the first time she's sat down with an American news organization.
[13:55:00] But that's it for now. Remember you can always listen to our podcast, see us online at Amanpour.com and follow me on Instagram and
Twitter. Thanks for watching and good-bye from London.