‘Your World’ on Omicron variant, Dr. Fauci and Michigan school shooting

This is a rush transcript from “Your World with Neil Cavuto” December 3, 2021. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: All right, it’s now in eight states. I’m talking about the Omicron virus.

And Anthony Fauci weighing in, not only what we do and how bad this gets, but finally addressing and maybe clearly addressing what’s happening at the border, and the thousands of migrants who have been trying to get here who have been diagnosed with COVID.

Anthony Fauci speaking out on these matters, first time he’s been at FOX, certainly on this show, since back in the summer.

But, in the meantime, back to the virus that’s getting everyone’s attention and this variant that seems to have now hit eight states, as I said, nearly 40 countries, and growing indications that it can happen to you even if you haven’t visited Africa.

The problem is getting more compounded by the minute, because a lot of people are getting inconsistent reads on this, including those we have gotten from the White House.

Let’s go to Peter Doocy, who’s there — Peter.

PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And, Neil, we are no longer hearing the president speak about COVID like it is a black-and-white issue.

He had been promising to shut down the virus if elected, and then if given a couple of months. His tone, though, and the words that he is using have changed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DOOCY: It seems like the administration is starting to soften some of the language. There’s this new op-ed where you talk about COVID and We’re going to beat it back. Are you no longer going to shut it down?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, we got to beat it back before we shut it down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOOCY: You hear the president’s voice there, much hoarser than usual.

His doctor in a rare public statement explained: “As is readily apparent, President Biden is experiencing some increased nasal congestion this week. This can be heard in his voice and he is feeling the colloquially well- known frog in one’s throat.”

I asked the president about that too.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DOOCY: First of all, Mr. President, your voice sounds a little different. Are you OK?

BIDEN: I’m OK. I have a test every day to see — a COVID test. I — they check me for all the strains.

What I have is a one-and-a-half-year-old grandson who had a cold, who likes to kiss his pop.

(LAUGHTER)

BIDEN: And he’d been kissing my — anyway, so — but it’s just a cold.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOOCY: The president’s doctor insists he has been tested multiple times this week, all negative.

Jen Psaki at this afternoon’s White House briefing, though, said those Omicron variant cases, they only know about a half-a-dozen in the United States so far, but she says to expect them to grow and increase soon — Neil.

CAVUTO: Peter Doocy at the White House, thank you very, very much.

Another thing for the White House to digest today was an alarmingly much weaker-than-expected jobs report, only about 210,000 jobs created in the latest month. There are wrinkles to this and good news, in that the unemployment rate itself is down to 4.2 percent.

But the fact of the matter is here that a lot of people are not pouncing at job opportunities right now. That number had some thinking that maybe we’re reversing ourselves here.

To Kenny Polcari, the Slatestone Wealth Management market strategist.

Kenny, it was an interesting report, in that we were we were humming along, things were looking great, and then it’s like we hit a wall. What happened?

KENNY POLCARI, SLATESTONE WEALTH: Yes, it’s very interesting, because, actually, the whisper number was supposed to be much stronger than the expected number, which was 550,000, right?

What is interesting, though, is that they revised upward the prior two months. This one came in much weaker, but unemployment dropped to 4.2 percent. So it’s a little bit of a — it was a little bit of a confusing message.

You saw initially the market welcomed it and reacted very positively, and then suddenly turned out after St. Louis Fed President Jimmy Bullard chimed in on the conversation talking about the need to not only taper, but raise rates simultaneously vs. being mutually exclusive. And that really sent the market into a tailspin.

CAVUTO: Then you got to worry about this variant, this Omicron thing that — I will be talking to Dr. Fauci about that, but when an expert like that has no idea just how far this goes and how much it progresses, I guess the fear is that people delay returning to work.

Google’s already pushed back its demands for people to return to work indefinitely into next year. This is building, and this reticence, this reluctance to venture out, and I’m sure this variant isn’t helping.

POLCARI: No, I’m sure the variant isn’t helping.

But I’m also sure that there’s — some of this is probably a little bit of an overreaction. Look, we lived through COVID-19 when there were no therapeutics and no vaccines. Then we got the vaccine. We lived through the Delta variant. It wasn’t a disaster.

Now we have got this variant. We have got even more therapeutics and better vaccines, or at least tweaking the vaccines. And I’m sure, six months from now, there’s going to be another variant. And after that, there will be another variant.

And so at some point we have to learn to live with it. We need to get back to work. we have to stop coddling as much as we’re coddling, right? You have to get back to work. Whether it’s to the office or not, you have to get back to work.

And so I think it’s a convenient excuse not to go to work. But I also think that’s baloney.

CAVUTO: Do you think it has a psychological effect? I’m wondering if that’s what’s being — this variant itself has given people pause, not only about getting vaccinated, because some are using it as an excuse not to, but others are saying, you know what, I’m going to cancel that trip.

I’m going to — I’m going to slow down on some of these big spending plans I have because I’m hunkering down.

I guess I’m just wondering how this plays in just psychology-wise.

POLCARI: Well, it is interesting, just because now this variant is so new, although, suddenly, it’s an eight states.And so, by tomorrow, we will be in 12 states.

From a psyche point of view, I think there are some people that will absolutely pull back, decide not to do anything, hunker down in their house again, not go anywhere, and there will be others that are just tired of being tied down and hunkered down, and they want to go out and experience the world.

And if they’re vaccinated, and they take precautions, then they’re going to be OK. Or at least that’s the — they’re going to operate under the assumption that they’re going to be OK, unless someone tells us different.

CAVUTO: All right, we will watch it closely.

Kenny, thank you very, very much.

All right, well, you probably heard the news that Dr. Anthony Fauci decided to stop by FOX. We were very happy to have him, first time he’s been here, at least on the channel, since last summer.

But he did address what’s happening with this variant. We also had a chance to ask him about that comment he made in response to critics that “I represent science,” what he meant by that — after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO: Omicron is now in eight states.

Remember, yesterday at this time, it looked like two. It’s already in close to 40 countries. It’s spreading.

Dr. Anthony Fauci stopped by today earlier on FOX Business. We talked a little bit about this idea of community spread. And he confirmed it’s spreading. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: There’s community spread.

And once you have community spread, then you’re going to be seeing cases popping up all over the place, because they’re under the radar screen, because we know from Delta that a substantial proportion of cases can be without symptoms and can spread to another person, even if you don’t have any symptoms.

So the very fact — the thing that caught my attention, Neil, was the person who was in New York City…

CAVUTO: Right.

FAUCI: … and then got infected there, because there was no contact with anyone that he could identify was in, for example, Southern Africa. And he himself certainly was not.

So, that’s the kind of thing that raises some alarms about the under-the- radar-screen spreading throughout the country, which tells me, Neil, that we are going to start seeing in the coming days more and more states and more and more cases that are going to have it. There’s no doubt about that.

CAVUTO: You had mentioned earlier in some interviews about you hoped that maybe one of the good things that would come of this — I’m paraphrasing here — is that people who are not vaccinated would get vaccinated.

But I hear as much from people who have not been vaccinated who are now sure as hell they will not get vaccinated, because, if you can get this and you hear about breakthrough cases, my own included, Doctor — and I was fully vaccinated — and they hear about this people who have the full vaccination, even get the booster shots, and still getting hit with not necessarily this variant, they’re saying, no, no, I’m not going to bother.

What do you tell them?

FAUCI: Yes, but the thing about that, Neil, is that you don’t want to get into a situation where you don’t fully realize that, very, very often — and the data clearly show that — if you were vaccinated and get a breakthrough infection, which there are a lot of breakthrough infections — you yourself mentioned your own personal situation.

However, we know now that, when people are vaccinated, even when they do get a breakthrough infection, and compare the likelihood of their going on to a serious hospitalization, and even death, is much, much greater in an unvaccinated person than in a vaccinated person.

So, although I can understand a person saying, well, if there are breakthrough infections, why I should get — why should I get vaccinated, they need to understand that, even if they do get infected, if they were not vaccinated, they might have had a much, much more serious course.

CAVUTO: Yes. And I was vaccinated, and it was relatively mild.

I tried to milk it for all the attention I could, Doctor.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: But the fact of the matter is that it was — it could have been a lot worse.

Could I get your take on whether we have gotten to this natural immunity point in this country? I was talking to Dr. Marty Makary earlier in the last hour, Doctor, about the fact that there are probably enough Americans now who have a natural resistance to this.

But what I also hear from many Americans is they assume they do without confirmation of that. Where are you on this and whether we have hit that inflection point?

FAUCI: Well, there are some knowns and some unknowns, Neil.

For sure, you can’t deny that many people, in fact, maybe most people, who wind up getting infected and recover do have a considerable degree of immunity that would protect them against reinfection.

The thing we don’t know, because we have not studied it that carefully as well as we have studied the immune response to vaccination and to booster, which we have a really good handle on that, is that, as a person gets vaccinated — gets infected and get some mild symptoms, vs. a person who gets infected and gets moderate to severe symptoms or a person who gets infected and maybe is so sick, they have to go to the hospital, is the level of protection following their recovery very different?

See, we don’t know that.

CAVUTO: Yes.

FAUCI: So you can’t assume that, when you get infected, you all have a uniform level of high degree of protection. That’s not to take away from the fact that you can’t deny that people who do get infected and recover clearly have a degree of protection.

CAVUTO: I know you are personally recommending vaccinations for people.

It seemed that the president, in his remarks yesterday, had a rather tame approach to this, not calling for mandates, per se, even though he’s had a fight with the courts on how far he can go, but urging Americans to get vaccinated.

So, where does Dr. Anthony Fauci stand on forcing the issue?

FAUCI: I never like the idea of forcing the issue.

But the only thing, Neil, that’s important is that we know the importance of vaccination. We know the data are overwhelming in protecting people, particularly against severe disease, hospitalization, and certainly deaths.

I would hope that even now, as we enter into this new era of Omicron, that people would appreciate why it’s so important.

CAVUTO: I know the FDA is aiming for a speedy review of Omicron vaccines and drugs.

But do we know that the treatments that are already out there, the vaccines that are already out there, the booster shots already out there can address this?

FAUCI: No, we are not — I’m always honest with you, Neil. We have not proven it in the field.

But if you look at the level of antibodies that are induced by vaccine and by boost, literally, within the next week or so, maybe a week to 10 days, we will be able to assay those antibodies on the Omicron strain and the Omicron variant.

So we will be able to know the level of the degree of neutralization. But if you make an extrapolation and look at vaccine-induced antibodies, and even convalescent antibodies from being infected, when they go up, they do spill over to other variants.

So you can make an assumption that we will hopefully soon prove that as high you get with your response to a primary vaccination and a boost will have a beneficial effect in protecting you at least from severe disease from Omicron.

But we will be able to prove that pretty quickly.

CAVUTO: I know you have been asked about this in the past, Doctor, about what’s happening at the border right now. We have about 18 percent of the migrant families here, 20 percent of unaccompanied minors testing positive for the COVID.

If you use the figure of 20,000 — and that’s a loose figure, Doctor — who had been apprehended, that could be up to 4,000 individuals who have COVID. What do we do about that?

FAUCI: Neil, I don’t have an easy answer for that.

I mean, obviously, Title 42 is still operable at the border, trying to keep people who should not come in into the country. There is testing that is done. I’m certain it’s not as extensive as we would like to see.

But I have to admit, Neil, I don’t have an easy answer. That’s a very difficult problem.

CAVUTO: I’m just wondering, though, would that — if those numbers are indeed the case, it would dwarf whatever good we’re trying to do at airports, though, right, I mean, just looking at the sheer numbers?

FAUCI: Yes, but you know what I think is going to happen that’s going to possibly make this even a moot point?

I think, given what we know about the transmissibility and likely a transmissibility advantage of Omicron, we have seen that in Africa with the spikes that are going up. Once it gets in there, it will likely, under the radar screen, be spreading no matter what you do to keep people out or not.

That’s the way viruses work. We saw that happen with Delta. I do hope that Omicron doesn’t have that kind of advantage, particularly if it turns out to be serious. The good news you mentioned is that, even though you can’t make a full extrapolation, based on a relatively small number of cases, we don’t seem to see a signal of real severe disease, though we need to get many, many, many more people to follow to determine the severity of the disease.

CAVUTO: You know, Doctor, the many times we have talked in the past, you have talked about you follow the science. I think you acknowledge that the science can change.

At first, you dissuaded the public from buying masks back in the spring of 2020. You described the risk of the COVID to the U.S. later that year as minuscule. Things changed. The science changed, to your point.

But in answering some of the criticism that you have received, you said, “I represent science.”

So, are you saying there that your critics do not and that they don’t have a clue?

FAUCI: No.

CAVUTO: Could you clarify that?

FAUCI: No, I wasn’t being pejorative to anyone. And I’m certainly not — I mean, I can take criticism. And I’m not being pejorative against critics.

What I’m saying, if you look at what I’m talking about, Neil, the only thing I’m saying is that it’s important for people to get vaccinated, because, as a scientist and a physician and a public health person, I mean, it’s very, very clear the extraordinary benefit of vaccines to protect you against infection, to protect you against severe disease, hospitalization and death.

We also know that masks work. There are many, many studies now that talk about and actually prove the important preventive capability of masking.

And, for that, I’m getting criticized by so many different sectors that are putting ad homonyms against me. And when I say that is that all I’m doing is talking science.

So, when you’re coming at me with bullets and slings, I mean, what is it that you’re criticizing? You’re criticizing what I’m saying. And what I’m saying is public health-based and science-based. So that’s what I meant when I said, I represent scientific principles. And if people are starting to criticize that, you have to come to the conclusion that they’re criticizing the scientific principles.

That’s what I meant. I wasn’t being pejorative against anyone.

CAVUTO: So, the president still stands by you and what you’re doing, or he wouldn’t have made the reference that you’re the president yesterday. I know he was joking.

FAUCI: A little joke.

CAVUTO: But he still stands by, and there’s no change in that?

FAUCI: No, not at all. Not at all.

CAVUTO: OK.

I am curious about — as well about you personally dealing with this. I mean, you were a rock star at the beginning when this was going on. You were sort of this buttoned-down health official telling people you’re on top of it and all that. Then something changed with the controversy over the origins of all of this, what you knew, when you knew it.

Without getting into those details, have you gotten to the point where, after dealing with this for the better part of two-plus years, just saying, the hell of it, I’m done with this, I’m going to step down?

FAUCI: No. No, absolutely not, Neil.

And you talk about — people put data out like, he’s this now popularity or not. I’m not running a popularity contest for myself. I’m a physician, I’m a scientist, and I’m a public health person.

The only thing I care about, Neil, is helping to preserve and protect the health of the American public, and, indirectly, in that regard, since we’re a leader in the world, protecting the health and the safety of the entire world, because that’s what we do. That’s what I have done for the 50 years I have been a physician and for the almost 40 years that I have been the director of the institute.

So, whether people on one side or the other like me or don’t like me, that’s not relevant to me. What I do is, I focus on my job. And that is to get us out of this pandemic, which has already killed 780,000 Americans. And I think all that other stuff, Neil, is noise, when they say they like him, they don’t like him, some people are in favor of him or not.

That is really meaningless stuff. My job is the health of the American public. And that’s the only thing I focus on.

CAVUTO: So, when your word was gospel in the very beginning, Doctor, and then people say, well, maybe he knew more about the origins of this than he led on, or maybe the 180 on masks proves that he’s not that prescient on all these things, at any level, does that bug you, that people, the good many people who trusted you don’t trust you as much now?

FAUCI: No, I can understand how that’s the case.

But I think you would have to admit, Neil, that there really has been a considerable degree of politicization about all of this. And I have stayed out of politics for my entire career, but there’s such divisiveness in the country, that, since I’m a visible person, and I’m out there a lot trying to get the public health messages, I understand how I could be the target of criticism.

But, like I said, it’s not pleasant. I don’t like it. But that’s not going to deter me from what my primary job is, which I said is really looking after the health of the American public.

CAVUTO: So what does the American public, to wrap things up, Doctor, have to look forward to or not here?

Is the reality now, whatever happens with this variant, that it’s going to be treated like the flu, we’re going to always have it around, there are going to be annual shots, that sort of thing?

How do you see this sorting out?

FAUCI: You know, Neil, I don’t — I don’t have a definitive answer, because we cannot know.

When you think about infectious diseases, you think about pandemic level, which we’re at. Then you have a deceleration when the cases come down. Then you have variable degrees of control. You can have elimination, or you can have eradication. And, as I have said so often, is that I don’t think there’s a chance you’re going to eradicate this, because we have only eradicated one virus for humans in history, and that is smallpox.

Elimination is tough. We have eliminated polio from this country. We have eliminated measles from this country. And we have done it by very effective vaccination campaigns.

I’m not so sure we’re going to be able to do that, at least not in the near future. That’s aspirational. So, what I’m thinking about is control, namely, a level of control that is well, well better than where we are right now, because, yesterday, we had 95,000 new cases. Hospitalizations are still creeping up. The deaths are staying about level.

But we have got to get that level much, much lower, Neil, so that, even though we don’t eliminate it from the country, it is at such a low level that it doesn’t interfere with our lives.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CAVUTO: Dr. Anthony Fauci.

And, by the way, just to show you how this whole virus variant is just getting to be thornier and thornier, now a ninth state, Missouri, announcing its first case of COVID-19 caused by that Omicron variant.

We will keep on top of that, as will Dr. Fauci.

In the meantime, alerting you to other developments in Washington, D.C., right now, where they’re scrambling to address the debt ceiling, which hits sort of the ceiling deadline on the 15th of this month.

And then there’s the president’s big spending package that has two Democrats, including that when you see in the middle, Kyrsten Sinema, saying, you know what, we’re not quite on board.

Senator Mark Warner on what he makes of that — after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO: What if I told you it’s not COVID that’s the reason why a lot of people are very reluctant to return to in person work; it’s crime? And it’s out of control.

The former New York police commissioner on that — after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO: All right, we have just gotten word right now that the parents of Ethan Crumbley do now plan on returning to the area to face these formal charges right now.

Let’s get the latest from Steve Harrigan — Steve.

STEVE HARRIGAN, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Neil, there’s real uncertainty about the state of the parents now, where they are and what they do intend to do.

They were supposed to show up for their arraignment at 4:00 p.m. They did not do that. The sheriff said a short time ago that they are on the run, that the FBI is involved, as well as the U.S. Marshals, in a manhunt for these parents.

Keep in mind that both of them are charged with involuntary manslaughter, a charge that carries up to 15 years. So it’s not clear whether they’re on the run or not, but the sheriff thinks they are. The FBI and the U.S. Marshals are both looking for them for their role in this school shooting.

It’s been a dramatic day here, with more information coming out, very unsettling information as well, warnings from teachers about disturbing behavior from the 15-year-old sophomore. The first teacher saw him looking for ammunition online in a classroom.

The second warning even more disturbing, pictures drawn of someone being shot by a semiautomatic handgun bleeding, and the caption above: “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.”

Despite this, at a meeting in the school with the parents, school officials and the 15-year-old, he was not helped. He was allowed to go back to class, likely with a gun in his backpack. He came out two hours later shooting 11 people point-blank. The prosecutor is furious. The sheriff is furious.

They’re saying they didn’t communicate well with each other. At a number of steps along the way, the ball was dropped, including not ever asking the 15-year-old if he had a gun and the parents certainly not volunteering that information either.

So some uncertainty now about the parents. And the investigation here is still continuing. We could even see and the prosecutor is not ruling out charges of criminal negligence against the school for failing to prevent this tragedy — Neil.

CAVUTO: All right, thank you very much for that, Steve Harrigan.

Again, a bulletin we’re getting from “The Detroit News” saying that the parents are indeed returning to the area for this arraignment.

Quoting here: “The Crumbleys left town on the night of the tragic shooting for their own safety. They are returning to the area to be arraigned. They are not fleeing” — so I should specify this is from their lawyer — “from law enforcement, despite recent comments in media reports.”

Let’s go to Andy McCarthy, a former assistant U.S. attorney.

Andy, what do you make of this?

ANDY MCCARTHY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I really think it’s outrageous, Neil.

I mean, I understand it because people are very hot. Emotions are very raw. This was a heinous, heinous act. It’s going to be the subject of prosecution where the kid who did the shooting, who’s going to be treated as an adult, which the prosecutors have the discretion to do, is appropriately looking at multiple life counts and attempted murder counts.

He can’t live long enough to serve the number of years that are going to be imposed in this case. But we’re not supposed to make criminal law on the fly. And the state of Michigan has considered a number of times enacting a law, this child access prevention law that many states have adopted, which would make criminal what happened here, which was that the parents allowed the child to get access to the weapon.

The state of Michigan has decided not to enact that law. And you can argue that that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but the fact is, it’s a thing.

And it’s up to the legislature to make the criminal law. So what happened here is, they don’t have a law to prosecute what the parents did, even though the legislature has considered it and not enacted it. So, at a time when everybody’s hot and emotions are raw, prosecutors are creating a crime on the fly to attach to these parents.

And if you think about, it doesn’t make much more sense to accuse them of complicity in murder, as opposed to the reprehensible negligence that they engaged in, than it makes to accuse the school officials of murder.

I mean, yes, everybody dropped the ball here. But let’s be real about who committed the murder and who didn’t.

CAVUTO: Has this become the first time, at least to your memory, Andy, where right away that parents become caught up in the charges here?

There’s always been cases with school shootings where you wonder where the parents were, what they were doing, how they could not have known about what their son was about to commit. I say son because most of these have been perpetrated by boys, young men.

I’m just wondering, this is a unique case in that respect, isn’t it?

MCCARTHY: Yes, I have never — that I can think of, Neil, I have never heard of a case where you see parents get charged under circumstances where there’s no evidence that they had any complicity in a plan or something where there was an actual objective to kill people.

And I have seen a lot of cases like this. And there — you want to wring the necks of the people who were involved in them. And I was involved, for example, in terrorism investigations where people sold components that were obviously components for explosives, like explosive powder, to people who were very suspicious characters and wanted to pay in cash, and made you think that, boy, these guys must be up to no good.

Nobody thought that, once a building got bombed and people got killed, that the store owners who lawfully sold these components to these suspicious characters should have been charged with terrorism crimes, even though you wanted to grab each of them by the lapels and say, what on earth were you thinking?

CAVUTO: Yes.

All right, Andy McCarthy, thank you very much.

Just to update you on — sort of button all this right now, the parents are returning. We don’t know where they had been, but, according their lawyer, returning right now to face the arraignment. That surprised a lot of folks.

We will have more after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO: All right, we are getting worried right now that Build Back Better is looking dicier, amid reports that Democrats Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin have not been won over to this huge spending measure and have considerable doubts.

To Democratic Senator Mark Warner, Finance Committee, Senate Budget Committee, Senate Intelligence Committee, a lot of committees.

Senator, is this thing in danger? How do you see it?

SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): Neil, look, I think we’re going to get this done.

There’s two sets of hurdles. One hurdle is just the process when you use what’s called reconciliation. And there’s things called vote-a-ramas. And you have to scrub what can be included and not included. That will take another week-plus. Even if everybody was 100 percent ready to vote yes tomorrow, it would still take another week-plus.

On the other hand, there are still — I know Joe Manchin has still got a couple of concerns about component parts. And there are still some issues on the pay-fors, so that I’m committed to only voting for a bill that’s fully paid for, that I think still needs to be resolved.

So do I think it will get done? Absolutely. Do I think it will get done on a timeline that I would like or others would like? I mean, that’s a little bit more of a jump ball.

But as we look at some of these things around like — for example, when we look at the economy and grappling with inflation, one of the things we ought to be doing to grapple with inflation right now is getting more people back to work.

I think one of the things that would be the best to help get more people back to work is, let’s have more affordable child care and universal preschool, so the component parts of this legislation that I actually think…

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Well, why would that help, though, Senator?

We didn’t have any of these features back before the pandemic, when unemployment had slid to 3.5 percent. People didn’t need it then. I can understand what you’re saying. Maybe, in the post-pandemic world, people need it or want it. But it doesn’t seem to move the needle to get better than 10 million Americans to be looking for jobs that are amply available.

In fact, more than four million of them left the work force last year.

WARNER: Neil, great question.

And I’m glad you asked it, because we just had Chairman Powell in this past week. I urged him to have the Fed cut back on their purchase of bonds, start to taper that. But he said one of the things that surprised most economists left and right was that there would be a great — a much greater return to the work force this past September, school coming back on, the unemployment plus-ups going away.

And that just didn’t happen. I think there’s an awful lot of people that have — are rethinking their life post-COVID. One of the reasons they’re not coming back, though, is, I can tell you, Neil, in my state, about half of the child care providers that were offering services before COVID have not reopened.

So, the availability of child care, the availability of preschool is substantially down.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But you — you obviously think that will make a difference. And other economists can disagree.

But I am curious about — back to Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, that Dick Durbin of Illinois was talking yesterday. He showed real frustrations with Manchin in particular.

Do you share that frustration? Because he seemed to intimate, look, I’m doing everything, we’re doing everything to accommodate their wishes, and they’re not budging.

Do you think that they are making this worse for you?

WARNER: Neil, as you know, both with Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, probably more so with Joe — I’m much, much closer to him personally — we have been involved in all of the bipartisan efforts around COVID under President Trump, under the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Joe’s expressed some of these concerns for some time on this bill. I have had a lot of talks with him about which pieces he’s comfortable with, which pieces he’s not comfortable with.

CAVUTO: Because he’s comfortable, right, Senator?

Do you suspect here that he will never be comfortable, and that do you even consider him a Democrat? Some are even now saying and charging, well, you know what, you don’t join the team and help the team, we don’t want you. What do you think?

WARNER: Well, I actually think we have — and I know this will rankle some of your — some of your viewing audience.

I actually think the Democrats — as opposed to the House Republicans who want to throw out members who don’t always vote with the team, I think, actually, the Democrats have not chastised me or Joe, for that matter, putting together bipartisan legislation.

CAVUTO: All right.

WARNER: I think we will still continue to do that.

But I think there are — I think one of the things we got to look at — and, again, Neil, the bill that came over from the House was much — was — even though Joe had said we need to keep this at about 1.75, had more than that that came over.

CAVUTO: All right.

WARNER: So, clearly, I think there’s going to be some things that are going to be cut back.

CAVUTO: All right, we will see how it goes in the next few days and weeks.

Senator, always great catching up with you.

Senator Mark Warner.

WARNER: Well, we got to come back to the inflation conversations more.

CAVUTO: Yes.

WARNER: But, next time, we will do that as well.

CAVUTO: Yes, that’s an argument I’d love to have.

Very good seeing you, Senator, again.

WARNER: Thank you, Neil.

CAVUTO: In the meantime, we have got a lot going on certainly with COVID and concerns, but what if I told you the big reason why a lot of folks aren’t returning to work isn’t COVID; it isn’t even child care; it’s crime?

After this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO: All right, we have been telling you about crime, but here’s how bad it is in New York City.

Bank of America putting out an advisory to its workers that they might want to dress down when heading to offices. That generally is a signal, be careful. It’s violent out there.

Reaction from Ray Kelly, the former New York Police Department commissioner.

Commissioner, what did you think of that? That’s pretty blatant. Dress down. Don’t wear anything with the bank insignia. Be careful.

RAYMOND KELLY, FORMER NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: I think it’s a prudent thing to do.

Let’s face it. Crime is way up in New York City and in other cities. It’s up in the immediate area of the Bank of America. Bryant Park was a problem for years. The police did a great job in turning it around. Now it’s drifting back in the other direction. It’s right across the street from the bank.

So, yes, I think people have to be very much aware of their surroundings, people who are commuting or walking to work. That telephone mesmerizes a lot of people.

CAVUTO: Yes, it does.

KELLY: They’re paying attention to it, and bad things can happen to them when they do that.

So I think it’s a good thing for employers to at least give notice to their employees that they’re concerned about them, and that they should be on guard, so to speak.

CAVUTO: You know, if you think about it, Commissioner, fewer than four out of 10 have returned to their offices, even when given the opportunity to do so.

And that’s not just at the New York City metropolitan area, but particularly acute in the Big Apple. And I’m wondering, news and stories like this and these famous rampage incidents in broad daylight at shopping centers and the like, that’s not going to help that number.

What do you see happening?

KELLY: No, it’s not going to help it at all. And people — obviously, I’m not in government anymore, but people call me to talk to me about their fear, particularly of the subway.

You read these stories about people being pushed off of platforms, that sort of thing. That is the biggest fear that I’m aware of as far as New Yorkers are concerned. And we have got to get people back on the subway.

The rate of participation is under 50 percent from what it was in 2019. And that’s the lifeblood of the city. You need the subways to get in to work, as you said, one out of four. I think the last number I saw was 28 percent of the workers in Manhattan, Midtown, are back in the office.

CAVUTO: Yes, you’re right.

KELLY: So we have got to get the city functioning. Got to get Midtown functioning. We got to get the subway safer, and people feel to safer on the subway before the city is really going to turn itself around.

CAVUTO: Yes, we’re not there yet, to your point, Commissioner.

Thank you. Very good seeing you again.

KELLY: Good to see you, Neil.

CAVUTO: Normally, when you see big coaches getting big contracts in professional football, no one really cares. When it’s happening in college football, you get Congress involved.

Why is that? The latest — after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO: Well, who says the coaches in professional football get all the big money?

Now it’s happening, and far more common this year in particular, in college football.

Connell McShane has been following all of that out of Indianapolis.

And it’s getting Congress’ attention, right, Connell?

CONNELL MCSHANE, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a little bit.

I mean, Lincoln Riley, Brian Kelly, these coaches, huge money this week to leave their teams before their seasons even wrapped up. In the case of Kelly, going from Notre Dame to LSU, the guy gets $95 million guaranteed over 10 years. And it comes the same year that college football players finally can make some money of their own off the field on their name, image and likeness.

But in talking to FOX sports analyst Joel Klatt about it, he points out, the playing field not exactly level. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOEL KLATT, FOX SPORTS ANALYST: The problem is, is that what we see is that still just a handful of athletes that actually have value in their name, image and likeness.

You’re going to get some of these deals that are bigger than others, but it’s never going to equal what the coaches are getting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCSHANE: Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat from Connecticut, among those in the Congress taking notice, called the contracts outrageously astronomical.

He says they do have now the attention of Congress. He’s pushing a bill for college athletes to get more benefits. He’s already introduced the bill, Neil. It hasn’t gone anywhere yet. Likely that maybe in the new year is the first time we hear about it again. It might be reintroduced.

But, meantime, on the field deal, plenty of excitement this weekend for championship weekend, which includes the Big Ten title game. It will be played on this field here in Indianapolis, Michigan, and Iowa tomorrow night on FOX — Neil.

CAVUTO: Man, oh, man, you have the best job, Connell.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: Thank you very, very much, Connell McShane, following that.

Connell reminded me we were talking about football, so touche to him.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: By the way, a lot of you are commenting on what Dr. Fauci had to say about the virus contractions that are building at the border.

We’re going to be looking into that more tomorrow on “Cavuto Live” at 10:00 a.m. Eastern time, the impact of that statement and what it could mean, because far more are coming up testing positive for COVID there than anything they are doing to control it at the nation’s airports.

“Cavuto Live” tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. I will see you then.

Here’s “The Five.”

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