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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Amanpour and Company.”
Here’s what’s coming up.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need to make equity and justice part of what we do every day
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Time to act. Why equity is at the heart of a more perfect union, from race to climate. The highest ranking African-American
congressman, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, joins me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most exciting sound in the world.
AMANPOUR: The Bee Gees come alive again in a new film and a new album. I speak to the last surviving brother, Barry Gibb, about legacy and
reinventing their classics.
JACK LEW, FORMER U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: The risk today, as it was in September, is doing too little and not for long enough.
AMANPOUR: A Herculean task, how to get the U.S. economy back on track. Former Obama Treasury Secretary Jack Lew tells our Hari Sreenivasan.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I’m Christiane Amanpour in London.
The news is dominated by all kinds of grim COVID milestones, more than 100,000 deaths here in the U.K., and 100 million cases reported around the
world, and with vaccines, which first looked like light at the end of the tunnel, now turning into an ugly spat between rich and poor countries.
The struggle for equity across all sectors is at the heart of President Biden’s new agenda. And, this week, he’s laying all of that out.
Here he is tonight explaining why tackling this crisis, this climate crisis, is the right thing to do:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: It’s not just the pandemic that keeps people inside. It’s poor air quality. Multiple studies have shown that air pollution is associated with
an increased risk of death from COVID-19.
And just like we need a unified national response to COVID-19, we desperately need a unified national response to the climate crisis, because
there is a climate crisis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Biden also directly addressed the world, announcing that he’s hosting an international climate summit on April 22, which is Earth Day.
Now, in a flurry of executive actions, the new administration is hitting pause on new oil and gas leases on federal lands, while prioritizing help
for minority communities that often bear the brunt of pollution.
With me to discuss all of this and much more in this ambitious agenda is the House majority whip, Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina.
Congressman Clyburn, welcome to the program. Welcome back to the program.
I want to ask you, start by asking you about the president’s ambitious, but much needed climate agenda. And he started by saying that he thought he
could bring about a million new American jobs just in clean auto and zero- emission cars and electric cars.
How successful do you think this message is going to be?
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): Well, first of all, thank you very much for having me back.
But I think the studies have been out there for a long, long time as to what new opportunities can be created, what new jobs can be brought online,
if we undertake to do what is necessary to clean up the environment.
And we talk about electric cars, but even a source of energy. We are on the threshold of having an extensive amount of solar-generated energy, win-
generated energy. All of these things will spawn new jobs and new economies.
And I think the president is right on line where we ought to be going.
AMANPOUR: So, I want to play what his domestic policy adviser in charge of climate said just before he came up, and she talked about how it shouldn’t
scare American workers, but quite the reverse. Let’s just play this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINA MCCARTHY, U.S. NATIONAL CLIMATE ADVISER: We are talking about solutions that we’re not asking anybody to sacrifice, but are to their
And if you look at the record over the past four years, while the prior administration might have wanted energy, clean energy, to head in a
different direction, it’s gone faster and farther than anyone ever expected.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Congressman, the president is going to need congressional help to get this ambitious plan ahead. So, I want to ask you about how that will
But, also, politicians have either not sold the notion that this is a good thing for jobs and a vital necessity, or they have called it a hoax, the
idea of climate. They really haven’t taken this to the people. Tell me how — what you have to do to make sure this becomes a reality, both in
Congress and to convince the American people.
CLYBURN: Well, you have to keep working trying to educate the public.
We have those kinds of problems in whatever field we get involved in. One of the reasons we have had problems with COVID-19 is because there are a
significant number of people who, because of whatever the fears might be, do not want to take the vaccine. We have that problem if we think about
coal vs. wind or solar.
And these things are — people get comfortable in a certain way of life, and they see anything new as being risky. And there is a certain amount of
risk in anything that you do.
But the fact of the matter is, the science is clear. Let’s take nuclear. If we really want clean energy, it will be nuclear. There’s a certain amount
of risk in nuclear. And so what we have to do is continue to develop the technology, continue to educate the public, and, hopefully, we will get to
where we ought to be.
But those fears are going to be there. And there’s nothing you can do, except to work hard to get people to understand these are risks that are
AMANPOUR: And let them know that they’re going to bring them new jobs.
Can I ask you to sort of widen out the lens a bit? Because President Biden’s theme this week is called equity, equity in race — he made a big
speech yesterday — equity on climate. That’s today. And there’s going to be a health care speech tomorrow or later this week.
What exactly does that mean? What does he mean by equity and how everything has to be connected and viewed through that lens?
CLYBURN: I’m so pleased that President Biden has inserted that word equity into this process.
I have been advocating for that for a long, long time. I have told people that I have three daughters, and they are different. And so I treat them
differently. It’s not because I love one more than the other. It’s because their needs are different one from the other.
And so that’s what we do. And that’s what the vice president — or the president now is talking about here. He is talking about doing what is
needed in these communities, not showing favor, not even trying to be equal, because, sometimes, in order to be fair and equitable, you don’t
treat people equally, because they don’t have the same needs.
These communities do not have the same needs. They don’t have the same histories. And so the president is taking into account the backgrounds and
history of what has taken place over time, and trying to make the corrections that are necessary to move us forward in an equitable manner,
if I might use the term.
AMANPOUR: OK, so he specifically laid out how it would affect getting rid of racial bias in housing, for instance, making sure tribal governments are
on board with all of this, because they have been so left out in the cold, making sure that Asian Americans are not subject to xenophobic policies or
What — tell me how it looks like and what you think will be the building blocks to this — to achieving this equity.
CLYBURN: Well, what you do, you take into account the communities and the cultures that you’re dealing with. The type of housing that will be good
here in the Deep South may not be good up in the Northeast.
And so you take all that into account. You take people’s folkways, as well as the mores, into account when you’re developing these kinds of facts. And
so I think the way that President Biden is approaching this will really bring people along in such a way that I think he’s going to be very, very
It’s not going to be a one-size-fits-all. It’s going to be making the kinds of adjustments that are necessary to respect the communities, respect the
folkways in these communities, and bring people along in such a way that everybody will benefit and be a part of helping to find the solutions.
And so when you have — you call for mobile units, for instance, to deliver health care, that’s much more important in rural America than it is in the
inner city. So, these are the things that we take into account in trying to build an economy back better.
You can’t bring it back better without doing that is necessary to bring people along with it.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, as we mentioned, when it comes to minority communities and poor communities and the climate, that these communities
are often bearing the brunt.
They’re right slap bang either next to the polluting environments or downwind from them. And it’s pretty awful. And we heard horrendous
statistics from the briefers on the amount of pollution-induced asthma every summer in the United States.
So, I just want to ask you this. How do you think, given the layout of Congress right now — it’s true that you hold Congress, both houses. But
given there’s still a struggle, do you think Congress is going to be friendly to the president’s agenda? Or how much opposition do you think
that the Republicans are going to give?
CLYBURN: Well, I think there’s going to be a lot of challenges, not just one party against the other, but even within the Democratic Party.
We have a very broad-based party. We have a party made up — there are about 59 African-Americans in the Democratic Caucus in the House of
Representatives, and they all don’t think the same way. I’m from South Carolina. The members of our caucus who are from New York or Pennsylvania,
some other more urban areas, they have a difference of the priorities.
So, we’re going to be working together trying to make sure that, when legislation comes forth, that we will take into the account everybody’s
backgrounds, everybody’s experiences, everybody’s needs.
And that’s why you have to really have discussions with people, sit down with people, respect their experiences, and their backgrounds. And I just
think we’re going to have a very good caucus developing legislation that people will be very supportive of.
Everybody don’t live next to these facilities that emit certain things that will dirty up the environment, let’s just say. There are a lot of — here
in the South, there are old mines that have been sitting there not used for a long time. They do thanks to the water table, which means that we need to
have a different set of priorities when it comes to safe drinking water.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about the politics, because you just mentioned, South Carolina, obviously, where you’re from.
And there’s a lot of — sort of nobody quite knows what’s going to happen in the Senate trial of the former president. And I think some hopes were
dashed that any senators, GOP, would vote to impeach.
I just want to play a little reaction the way forward, or how they view it, from two senior South Carolinians.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: They beat him up before he got into office. They’re beating him up after he leaves
office. I mean, at some point, I mean, give the man a break. I mean, move on.
The idea that they’re going to do impeachment, that’s not going to bring our country together. That’s only dividing our country.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): If there’s an effort by the Democrats to call a single witness in the United States Senate, they had no record in the
House, there will be delay of this trial, there will be a Pandora’s box being opened. We will want witnesses, and this thing will go on for weeks,
if not months.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, that is current Senator Lindsey Graham and the former Governor Nikki Haley.
That sort of gives you a flavor of what’s ahead in the Senate. What do you think is going to unfold? And how much of an issue will it be for the
CLYBURN: Well, it’s not the Democratic agenda when it comes to this. This is about this country.
I have been saying now for four years that President Trump had no plans and didn’t even plan to give up the office. I said that on this same network
back in 2018, that I thought he was an autocrat who was patterning himself after, and I said Mussolini.
Now, all of a sudden, every time I turn around, people are mentioning Mussolini in the next breath after mentioning his name. And these members
of the Senate, as well as the former governor, really ought to be ashamed. They ought to be putting the country in front of any one person.
I don’t understand how in the world we can look at this record, a man who referred to an African-American woman as a dog, a man who has referred to
the countries of origin of African-Americans as S-hole countries, and that’s not divisive?
And when you’re trying to correct, do something about an insurrection that he invited, and they say it’s divisive if you do that? I wish they would
get a life, at least recognize that this country is worth saving, and it’s a better place because we have — had an election to cleanse us of what was
a cancer eating at the country’s democracy.
AMANPOUR: You use very strong words, and they are clearly specifically targeted, and you think about them.
And, therefore, you must continue to think about your Republican colleagues who don’t seem to still want to come down on that attack on democracy, as
But, interesting, you have said publicly that former President George W. Bush called you — and I think he called you a savior on Inauguration Day
for your role in making and helping make Joe Biden the candidate and then the president.
He said that to you, but I’m not sure that he said it publicly. Why do you think not? He’s an elder statesman of the Republican Party.
CLYBURN: Well, W. I have been friends for a long time, and we interact with each other.
I was just asked by a reporter who saw us joshing around with each other, what were we talking about? And I simply mentioned that. I didn’t need
anything by that. It doesn’t mean a whole lot to me.
My wife told me — she passed away almost a year before — a little over a year before Election Day. But she told me before she passed away that, if
Democrats wanted to win, we needed to nominate Joe Biden. And that was part of the reason I was as emotional as I was in my endorsement of Joe Biden,
because she’s always been pretty accurate when it comes to predicting the best candidate and who would win.
And it turns out, even in death, she was right again.
And so we were just joshing around about that. And I even mentioned to President George W. Bush of what Emily had said to me. So, that’s all this
was, sharing with the public a conversation that maybe I should not have shared.
AMANPOUR: That’s OK. It’s a beautiful story.
But just — but just — I don’t know how many of the Republicans tell you one-on-one that they wish that they could get past this craziness, and that
Donald Trump still has a real hold on them and on the Republican Party.
CLYBURN: Well, a lot of them have told me that.
No, they won’t say it publicly. But a lot of them have told me that. And a lot of them have told me that they voted for Joe Biden because of Donald
Nobody can look at result in Georgia and not know that a lot of people who had voted Republican in the last several years voted Democratic in that
run-off. And that’s why we won those two seats. It’s clear.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Yes.
Congressman Clyburn, thank you so much for joining us. Really appreciate it.
And now, as we said, with all the grim news of COVID and everything else that’s going on right now, of course, there is one simple pleasure that
many of us are missing during this pandemic, and that is dancing.
Well, if there’s one band that we can thank for some of the greatest disco hits of all time, it is, of course, The Bee Gees. The brothers Barry,
Maurice and Robin Gibb dominated the airwaves in the ’70s and the ’80s with pop hits like “Staying Alive” and “Night Fever.”
Now a new HBO documentary called “The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” traces their journey and their legacy. Here’s a clip from the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We welcome The Bee Gees.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Bee Gees.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once again, the fabulous Bee Gees.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most exciting sound in the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The biggest grossing album in the history of music.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has been enormous success, changed your lives?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I was speaking to one of my friends the other day, and, as he was cleaning my shoes, I said, listen…
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We often thought we were triplets. We had the same sense of humor. We had the same love of the same kind of music.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, Barry Gibb is the band’s last surviving member. And he’s out with the new album called “Greenfields,” reinterpreting Bee Gees’
classics, along with country music stars like Dolly Parton, Sheryl Crow, and others.
And Barry Gibb is joining me now from Miami.
Welcome to the program, Barry Gibb.
I mean, just looking at that trailer, and listening to your new album and watching the film, it is extraordinary to remember how much of a soundtrack
you have been for decades to everybody’s life. What do you think when people tell you that now?
BARRY GIBB, THE BEE GEES: It’s — hi, Christiane.
It’s a little strange, a little strange, because you put something out like this, and you get all these wonderful country artists to interpret the
songs their way. And it’s just been an amazing experience.
But you never really expect that something is going to be that successful. The odds were always against us anyway. So, it’s a little bit of luck
AMANPOUR: OK. When you say the odds were against you, why?
I mean, I want to sort of start by going back to the beginning. There you were. You were young. With your brothers, you created this band. You
started off in Australia, before coming to the U.K. What was even the genesis behind getting together as a band, as brothers?
GIBB: Well, we were always — we were always a band, even as preteens.
So, we loved singing in harmony. We discovered those things as kids. And we made — we just created microphones from tin cans. And just that’s the way
life was in Australia maybe about 1958, 1960.
But this was England before that. So, we were always a band, Christiane. And we always wanted to be successful. But the odds were always against it.
Even in Australia, they said don’t go to England. You will never make it, you know?
So we were always being told we couldn’t make it. Stay in Australia. And that just made us stronger, yes.
AMANPOUR: I just want to know what why from — I want to hear from you, because, I have seen the film what. Why would the odds against you?
Because then you came and you wrote this — just, I mean, this string of number ones, and it just lasted for so long. What was the initial set of
GIBB: Oh, the industry itself.
I mean, this was a very young industry in Australia. And we were very young, Christiane. So, little kids can’t sell records. And there’s always –
– people always like to sort of reject that, reject you because you’re kids.
And we just grew and grew. And people were — became more interested as time went on. But I remember a lot of reporters and a lot of industry
people saying, don’t go, you will never — you’re going to come up against a brick wall, you know? We just never believed it.
And maybe that’s why. That’s why. We were just very driven.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And you came up around the same time as the Beatles. And you’re considered — as you said, you did harmony. You were brothers, some
of the most successful — alongside the most successful harmony bands of the time.
And also part of the story, which I suppose a bit of the painful part, is that, after some of your initial success, it started to drive wedges
between the brothers, certainly between you and Robin.
What do you think that was about? And then, of course, you came back and you had massive success again. But what were the pressures on you as
GIBB: The very fact that we were brothers. And you could be in a band and you’re not related to each other, and that will run its course.
And, to me, it’s not a natural situation to be in a band. So, if you’re not really related to each other, it won’t last that long. But if you are
brothers — and we loved the Mills Brothers. We love the brothers who stick together even through thick and thin, because, listen, everybody —
everybody has differences of opinion.
And we had a lot of issues between us. And as fame — fame, I would say, would be the one thing that created competition between us. Before we left
Australia, we didn’t feel like — anyone could sing the lead.
But once we got — once the sort of big time hit us, we were assigned to the Beatles company. But — and once that fame hit us, then the competition
began in earnest.
So, I never knew what my brothers were thinking or what they were doing. I had to face the fact we didn’t live together, you know? And you can’t
really forget Andy either, because it’s four brothers, not three.
And so I relished in all of that. I loved it. And any — all the great times were still the greatest times. And the bad times, for some reason,
you don’t remember, yes.
AMANPOUR: well, that’s good. I think that’s a great thing about human nature.
So, let’s just — there were so many famous tunes, whether it was “Massachusetts,” “Words,” I mean, just so many that — “How Can You Mend a
But I guess what just completely blew you stratospheric was “Staying Alive,” “Saturday Night Fever.”
I just want to play the opening sequence of “Saturday Night Fever,” and we will talk a little bit about that period in your life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Barry Gibb, it’s infectious. I’m just sitting here in my chair, and I can’t stop bopping.
It was iconic at the time. When you were asked to do that, how did it even come about? I mean, you weren’t necessarily known as a disco group, were
Well, Ahmet Ertegun at Atlantic Records told us that they were going to drop the group if we couldn’t kick it up. And I think that’s the turn of
phrase I remember hearing. And we had to reinvent ourselves. We were going through about two or three years of what I call the rock wilderness.
And we had to come up with another way. And I have seen other artists do that. The Beatles did it with every album. So, you can’t just be — you
can’t just be playing a certain kind of music. You have got to look the part and you have got to — every album cover should be different, and you
should look different.
So, we took about less than. And some of those songs for “Fever” were taken from previous albums, like “Children of the World” and things like that.
So, it just became out of control, and — as everything does when it’s successful. And we just got — we were lucky that it didn’t end as quick as
it might have. It just went on and on for years.
And it was a wonderful experience, and very surreal, very surreal.
AMANPOUR: I mean, it is extraordinary. And it’s still cemented in people’s consciousness.
I mean, it’s still — it never gets old, that, particularly that song.
AMANPOUR: But “Staying Alive” was not about dancing. I mean, there was not a single lyric that said the word dance in that. It was about something
completely different, wasn’t it?
GIBB: Yes. Yes. Yes.
It was about life and about New York and how that affected everybody else. And the story — and the film and the story in the film is about a family
in New York wanted to go dancing. And it was actually called “Tribal Rights of a New Saturday Night.” That was the headline in a newspaper.
And Robert was looking for a title for the film. And the suggestion was “Night Fever.” And he thought that was a little too sexually oriented.
GIBB: So, he rejected that. And then, later, we found out it was “Saturday Night Fever,” so go figure.
You never really know what’s going to happen. And we were in Herouville outside Paris, mixing a live album called “Here at Last.” And Robert called
and said: “We need about five or six songs for this film.”
We didn’t even know it was a compilation album. So, we finished mixing the album, and we started recording, writing these songs and recording them.
But, once again, you can’t predict what’s going to happen.
The same with this album, “Greenfields.” You can’t predict it. I haven’t seen the documentary. I have seen the very early stages of the first cut,
And I just can’t watch my family disappear. It’s just — it’s just not — it’s just not something I can deal with.
AMANPOUR: I was going to ask you about that. Of course, you mentioned Robert several times. That’s Robert Stigwood, the legendary producer.
AMANPOUR: So, tell me about that, because it is hard to — for me to say the last surviving member, knowing that your three brothers died so
AMANPOUR: One from, I believe, complications from addiction. Robin had cancer. And I’m not sure how Maurice died.
But it must leave a terrible hole in your heart.
GIBB: Well, I — you know, I fill the hole with action. I’ve learnt that if you just get on with what you love the most, then you get the
distraction and you don’t deal with it all of the time, you know. So, I thought, well, you know, my eldest son, Steven, came up to me and played me
a Chris Stapleton song, and that just freaked me out. And I thought, we got to make records like that. We have to go back to playing, back to being a
band and programming has to go, you know.
So, it was a matter of getting back to basics. And Steve then went to Nashville, and he knew what my passion was, which is blue grass and country
music and the rest of it, I don’t pay much attention to. So, he went to Nashville and whipped everybody up, and got everyone excited about the
concept, and Dave Kop (ph) said that he would do it. And I have all of these artists that I admire and love, you know, Olivia Newton-John and
Keith Urban and Alison Krauss, my God, and Brandi Carlile.
AMANPOUR: And Dolly Parton.
GIBB: And Dolly. Of course, Dolly.
GIBB: And that is it. You know, magic. And the stars aligned. And what we didn’t expect actually happened. So, I had the first number one album, we
had the first number one album in England in 40 years. So, I will not understand it.
AMANPOUR: And this is “Greenfields” right? And —
AMANPOUR: — we’ve got a clip from it. And as I mentioned, Dolly Parton, because you also made, you know, chart history by “Islands in the Stream,”
writing that for her. And then this is her and you singing “Words,” your fabulous song “Words” in — on this new album.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOLLY PARTON, SINGER: When you called to see if I would sing on “Words,” it is one of my favorite Bee Gees songs ever.
GIBB: Well, thank you. Thank you.
PARTON: And I couldn’t get here fast enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, was that as fun as it looked? And then, clearly, Dolly is having fun with the vibrato that you became very, very legendary for.
AMANPOUR: Talk to me about that.
GIBB: Well, the vibrato, yes. Well, I — in the 60’s, Robin’s vibrato was much faster than mine and he has a very unique voice., And between the
three of us, we came up with some really good song and we got better as time went on at writing the songs. And I think that was our real — that’s
really what we were able to do. It wasn’t really about performing or singing, it was about writing the songs.
And we had to reach that place where we understood that. So, it was writing for other people became really interesting and exciting. So, you know, we
did that. And I am happy we did that.
AMANPOUR: Yes. But, interestingly, in the film, you know, which you say you — which you haven’t seen, towards the very end, after multiple
reinventions and as you say, you’re right in the middle of one right now with this new album, you say —
AMANPOUR: — you really wanted to be known as songwriters, and of course – –
AMANPOUR: — you did these amazing songs that went to number ones with all these other — for of these other artists, people like Barbra Streisand,
Dolly Parton and so many others.
GIBB: Yes. Diana Ross and Dionne Dionne Warwick.
AMANPOUR: Dionne Warwick, yes.
GIBB: Yes. So, they became our instruments. They became people who we could write for. And I think that was the most interesting part of all of
it for us, is hearing the people we love singing our songs. It can’t get better than that, you know.
AMANPOUR: And just before you did that, and this is also another extraordinary moment, that looking back, you can’t even imagine that it
happened, but there was a weird kind of homophobic racist backlash against disco. And even they had this kind of the demolition derby, this — I guess
this is the Chicago deejay or something brought all of your records and blew them up in the middle of this sports stadium.
AMANPOUR: I mean, did you understand what was going on or what?
GIBB: No. Because we just write songs and make records. So, we didn’t really think that much about it. And, you know, that’s 40 years ago. So, we
lived through it. It wasn’t pleasant. And it wasn’t just our album that was blown up, it was a lot of different people. That actually should not have
been treated in that way at all, some of the greatest artists of all time.
But, you know, you can’t really tell people how the behave, and I think that is how we live today, isn’t it? You can’t really — everyone has an
opinion about everything, and that came to its own peak. I think the industry wanted to change and it really wasn’t about us, but we were
pointed at. And I just don’t think that was right. But at the same time, I don’t care anymore.
AMANPOUR: Well, that is good, because certainly you powered through. You powered through that. And I don’t know whether, you know, sometimes you
might think that, you know, in COVID times, people want nothing more than to dance to disco. We can’t go to the clubs. We can’t, you know, dance
except in our own homes to your music and others. It’s having a revival, a renaissance at home.
GIBB: It is some kind of coming up roses somehow, you know. Olivia Newton- John has the number one video on iTunes right now, and I think it is about the momentum that’s been building. She has made a record with her daughter
and it’s been very successful, and I salute her for that. I think it is wonderful.
You know, it is a lot of events that just happened. You know, something — it’s what you think and there are circumstances. And circumstances are
really important, and you have to pay attention, but you can’t predict the future. You just can’t.
AMANPOUR: Yes. I want to go all of the way back to your beginning when you guys as brothers were in Australia and —
AMANPOUR: — because there is a song on the new album called, “Greenfield,” it’s called “Butterfly” and I hadn’t — “Butterflies,” and I
hadn’t known about it really, “Butterfly.” And this version is you with David Rawlings and Gillian Walsh, and it is truly a beautiful song, and it
is not one of the more well-known songs.
AMANPOUR: How did that come about?
GIBB: Well, I have always wanted to rerecord that song. And I think that what we did with it was actually really nice anyway, you know. It was
written in 1996 and we did a demo of it but it’s a really nice demo. So, we were always proud of it, but it never came out as an actual record. And so,
I took the chance and I played it to Dave Carbon (ph). He said, yes, let’s cut that, you know. That’s just — you don’t know what is going to happen.
You just do it because you love it. And Gillian Walsh and Dave Rawlings, they’re just the best. I fell in love with them watching “Down from the
Mountain,” the tribute to Ralph Stanley.
GIBB: And they just blew me away. And I thought, one day I got to sing with those people, you know. So, asked them.
AMANPOUR: And one last — oh, sorry. Yes. One last bonus question because in all the, you know, clips we’ve been showing, there’s you and your
traditional often white outfits with the — you know, I was going to say plunging neckline, but with the medallions. Do you still have them?
GIBB: What? Well, I have heard a lot of stories about —
AMANPOUR: If you were a woman, it would be called a plunging neckline.
GIBB: OK. I accept that. But at the same time, Robin had the plunging neckline and I think that was the fashion at that point, you know, it was
the medallions and the necklaces. And, you know, things don’t change that much. Things don’t change that much. It’s just a different thing now.
Flared pants are still being worn a lot by women, but guys can’t wear them, you know.
AMANPOUR: They definitely are.
GIBB: Right. I don’t understand any of that.
AMANPOUR: Well, Barry Gibb, things have not changed, because you are still there and we’re grateful. Thank you so much for being with us.
GIBB: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Now, as the new administration tackles a whole raft of challenges, as we’ve mentioned, senior cabinet secretaries are now getting
to work, of course. And today as the first full day in office for the new treasury secretary, Janet Yellen. She was the first woman to hold this
office. Yellen who was also the first woman to head the federal reserve was sworn in by Kamala Harris, of course, the first female vice president. A
lot of presidents there.
So, what will here in-tray look like? Jack Lew was an economic adviser to President Obama after the 2008 crash and he was treasury secretary from
2013 to 2017. And here he is talking to our Hari Sreenivasan about President Biden’s massive stimulus plan and the economic challenges ahead.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Christiane, thanks.
Secretary Lew, what is the economy, the state of it that Joe Biden is inheriting post pandemic?
JACK LEW, FORMER U.S. TREADY SECRETARY: Well, Hari, the economy post pandemic is in pretty rough shape. We have lost significant amount of the
GDP. We have 10-plus million people out of work. And as we are talking, we still don’t know exactly when health conditions will allow the economy to
get back to normal.
I think it’s important to remember that even before the pandemic while economic growth had been going on, I’m proud to say, for 10 years, seven
years of which we were running the economy, we still had deep problems in terms of disparities, in terms of opportunity, wealth, income. So, I think
you have to look at the post pandemic economy as how do we get out of the health crisis, how do we have enough stimulus and growth initiatives so
that economic growth can get back to a good sustainable level, and how do we deal with some of the underlying problems that candidly existed before
the pandemic and were worsened by it?
But last, to really feel relief. We’re going to (INAUDIBLE) at the bottom and the lower middle.
SREENIVASAN: So, if those shortcomings were laid bare, I mean, how deep do we have to dig to root out the cause of this and try to create a more
functioning and equitable society?
LEW: Look, I think that we can have a deep dive into the problems that pre-existed. The solutions are sometimes more obvious than the original
source of the problem. You know, you look at what is keeping people from having the opportunities that they need. Some of it is pretty obvious.
People need skills, people need to have a living wage, people need to have child care so that if you have two earners in the house, both can go to
work and the kids can be safe.
So, I think that one can unpack the causes and put off dealing with some of the real problems or you can dive into the problems and let people debate
the causes. I am more about solving the problems myself.
You know, I think you look at things like infrastructure. If you are coming out of the deep recession, you know that infrastructure spending is going
to create good middle-class jobs. We also know that if you are looking in the economy that is woefully behind and updating our traditional
infrastructure and our 21st century infrastructure, then we’re going to build a better foundation for growth.
So, a lot of the steps forward seem to me to be a lot more obvious than the underlying problems and also things on which people from different
perspectives should be able to agree.
SREENIVASAN: The president is proposing another $1.9 trillion plan, that would get us somewhere in the ball park of $3, $3.5 trillion that we have
already spent. I mean, you actually argued for this kind of spending even as of September. I mean, where does it end?
LEW: I think that the risk today, you know, as it was in September is doing too little and not for long enough rather than doing too much for too
long. What do I mean by that? We know that the tail of economic pain is going to be long. You know, it’s going to take quite a while for job growth
and income growth and restoration of lost economic growth to get back to where it was before the pandemic, if we get back to the trajectory for what
was possible before.
So, what does that mean to me? It means, in the period of close to zero interest rates, this is precisely the moment that we ought to be spending
what it takes to keep the economy from just lingering in a state of subpar growth with all of the human pain that it entails.
If you don’t extend unemployment insurance beyond the moment when the health crisis breaks, that means tens the of millions of people are going
to be denied what they need to support their families while the economy is getting fully back up so that they can go back to work. If — a lot of
these things will have to go on for a bit longer. I think the political will to do enough here is not going to exceed the economic need.
On the other side of it, I continue to believe that there has to be a switch that you throw at the appropriate moment and say, we’re out of
emergency response, we are done with the economic recovery program, the long-term agenda, we have to pay for what we do. And actually, as a
candidate, that is what the President Biden said as well and we have yet to see the details of his long-term program, but he said that he’s going to
pay for his long-term program.
SREENIVASAN: Are there metrics that would tell you when to throw that switch? I mean, you know, people, I think, are concerned that is this $1.9
trillion going to be the last one? Is this going to be enough? Are we going to have to do this for another year? And if you were Janet Yellen, if you
were Joe Biden, who are going to be looking at the data, what are the top two or three metrics that are going to allow you to say, all right, we’re
turning this down?
LEW: Well, I think if the advice that people like myself and Secretary Yellen were giving policymakers months ago had been followed, we wouldn’t
need to do it again because people like us were saying that you needed to do more then, partially to create the certainty that would allow for
investment and economic activity to get back to normal and to — and reduce the likelihood of human suffering
I think the metrics, you know, are what does normal look like? We know what the unemployment rate was before the pandemic. My own view is that we ought
to be getting close to that zone before we say we are out of the woods.
You look back to 2009, 2010, 2011, we threw the switch too quickly not because we in the Obama administration chose to. We threw the switch
because the political winds changed. You know, we had a Tea Party election, it was impossible to get Congress to go along with more than, you know,
incremental things at the end of 2010, and we went into reverse. We put immediate spending reductions in place when what the economy really needed
was long-term revenues and longer-term entitlement kinds of policies.
So, we did what the political system would bear and not what people like myself thought was the right package. I think that slowed the recovery. You
know, if you look at the trajectory of the recovery, it was pretty sustained in — from 2011 on, but the rate of growth was not what it would
have been if we had maintained, you know, support for state and local governments, spending on immediate needs.
I think that the challenge coming out of this economic crisis is don’t make that mistake again, you know. But also, when you get to the point where you
see that the crisis is over and you are starting to feel like things are normal, find a pathway to have a serious discussion both about how do we
pay for the things we need and ultimately — not for quite a while, but ultimately, what do you do about the massive amount of debt that’s been
I am not one of those and say debt doesn’t matter. I think that we can’t spend the way that we are spending now infinitely. I think if you look at
the risk of stopping too soon versus the risk of maybe going on a little too long, I would err on the side of more or not less for now, but then I’d
be alert to when it’s time to switch gears.
SREENIVASAN: You know, the political situation that you are describing in 2010, the logjam there seems relatively innocent compared to the razor thin
margin that Joe Biden has even in the Senate. How does he get this done?
LEW: Well, remember, we saw the majorities change in the middle of the Obama administration. So, we went from having a Democratic to a Republican
majority, and we had to deal with the House that where the Republican majority was very much dominated by the Tea Party. What does that mean? It
means that we saw crises over potential default on the debt. Well, that did not help with recovery. What that did was to send shockwaves through the
domestic and the global economy raising the question of would the United States do something completely beyond reason, you know.
That was why we ended up adopting the spending reductions, it was to avoid those kinds of much more dire consequences, you know, which, you know, I
think that we did the right thing, but, you know, I will never take credit for throwing the brakes on at that moment. You know, I think, you know, the
deficit reduction overall was not bad thing, the timing was wrong.
When we then had government shutdowns, it was a taste of the kind of disfunction that makes, you know, investment and hiring decisions, you
know, just more difficult because of the uneasiness it comes with the lack of confidence that there’s a stable hand at the till (ph).
I think what we have right now is, you know, a slim majority, you know, President Biden is trying to reach across the aisle and find a way to put
bipartisan majorities together. I hope he succeeds. I think that would be a good thing for the country. Both the administration and the White House are
reserving the right to do things at least for the budget with the simple majority which could be done with 50 senators plus Vice President Harris.
You know, we’ll have to see where that goes over the next couple of weeks.
SREENIVASAN: I also want to ask a little bit about what seems to be kind of our disconnect with our perceptions. I mean, when you look at the
statistics, I mean, you mentioned unemployment at 6.7 percent, it’s even worse up in the 9s if you are black or Latino. You’ve got 14 million
renters who can’t make rent right now, you’ve got 400,000 small businesses that have closed during this, and all of this is happening at a time when
our stock market seems to be at near record highs.
I mean, if you had stock during COVID, this wasn’t bad — particularly bad for you. Yet, here are all these different indicators of suffering in the
United States, and how does that not play out in these more visible indicators that are signals of America’s strength?
LEW: Yes. It is a real issue. First, you know, I think that anyone who thinks that the day-to-day or minute-to-minute movement of the stock
markets reflect the kind of inner health of the economy is making the mistake, markets, you know, are an accurate judge of sentiment at the
moment, but they don’t necessarily tell you, you know, where things are going or what is going on.
You know, the reality is that with zero interest rates, you know, the evaluation of the risk and investment, you know, is not exactly the same as
it is when interest rates are, you know, at a high level. So, I think you’re seeing, you know, kind of the equity values reflect the monetary
policies that we’ve needed in order to get the economy of the United States around and the world to get through this crisis, but that is not
surprisingly different from what is going on. The reason you had zero interest rates was because of the economic damage. The pain that you are
talking about reflects where the burden of the economic damage falls most heavily.
It is why when you asked how much we need to spend during this crisis, you know, if we take renters for example, if we come out of the crisis and some
large percentage of the 10 million renters in the United States, more than 10 million I believe, who are not able to pay their rent end up being
evicted, think about what happens when a family is evicted. It is not just a bad day. It is a dramatic change in the direction of the life of that
family. It can take years, it can take decades to get back on track.
You know, we are doing eviction moratoriums in bite-sized pieces. I’m pleased that the new administration extended it for quite a few months. But
in December, we extended it for one month. And why was it extended for one month? It was extended so that right as Joe Biden took the oath of office,
we didn’t see millions of people thrown out of their homes. Well, that a big economic problem. It is a problem for the families. It is a problem for
the landlords. It is a problem for the banks that hold the notes. We need to be having a conversation and I’m pleased that in the package that
President Biden proposed, there is a substantial amount of rental assistance so that we don’t end up with those families going off of the
cliff when the eviction moratoriums end.
But the stock market doesn’t reflect that. You know, these are — you could say they’re micro fix, but I think you roll up the impact, you know, a
country with the deep division and deep inequity, it’s not the people at the top who get evicted, it’s the people at the bottom, in the bottom or
the middle that get evicted. And all of the social divisions we have will only get worse if we don’t deal with that.
SREENIVASAN: Right now, the staggering number is somewhere around 11 million who are unemployed. Today, President Biden is rolling out several
executive orders around climate action. And how does investing climate infrastructure or a green revolution of sorts help the middle and lower
income who’ve been disproportionately impacted by COVID?
LEW: So, obviously, what helps the people in the middle and the lower down is creating, you know, good paying jobs in either construction,
manufacturing, the things, you know, that their skills are most likely to lead them into good salaries with.
You know, if you are looking at something like electric cars, between the manufacturing of the cars, the construction charging stations on our
highways and in our communities, those are things, if we want to have an electric car fleet we need to have, it also creates jobs. You look at the
internet access issues that have not been equal, though I said it’s been a little more equal than other things because it is just not there for anyone
some days, building, you know, the kind of pipelines and extending service for highspeed internet has good construction and installation jobs.
Now, some of these jobs require training. You know, the line, people who go up and put fiber optic cable in place or down and put them in place need to
be trained. We should be training people to do the jobs that we need in the economy, and some of them don’t require years of training.
You know, I think that we look at say our community colleges, they are extremely good at helping people with basic skills, develop specialized
skills so that they can go and do work like that. And you need a comprehensive approach where what you are spending money on invests in the
future, and we invest in the people who need the skills to do that work.
You know, I’m an optimist, I think we can do that. When I was secretary, one of the statistics that I looked at carefully was the job opening and
labor turnover report, the JOLT report. And the stunning thing about it was — and I don’t think this is true today, but at that time, it was roughly
the same number of open jobs and the same number of people looking for work. And what that told me was we had a mismatch. We had people who didn’t
have jobs, who needed skills and employers who needed people with the skill. Well, we should be able to fix that problem.
SREENIVASAN: Secretary Lew, thanks so much for joining us.
LEW: Great to be with you, Hari. Stay well.
AMANPOUR: That’s it for now. Thank you for watching “Amanpour and Company” on PBS and join us again tomorrow night.