‘Your World’ on inflation, gas prices πŸ’₯πŸ’₯

This is a rush transcript from “Your World,” December 30, 2021. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

JACKIE DEANGELIS, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Round two. President Biden and Russian President Putin meeting by phone this hour for a second time this month, as thousands of Russian troops remain on the border with Ukraine.

Now the White House warning of severe consequences if Russia invades, but what happens if it does?

Welcome everyone. I’m Jackie DeAngelis, in for Neil Cavuto. And this is a special edition of “Your World.”

First, we go to Rich Edson traveling with the president in Delaware with more on this standoff.

Rich, it was Vladimir Putin that wanted this call in advance of the talks in January.

RICH EDSON, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It is, Jackie.

And that call has been under way for about 25 minutes, according to a senior White House official. And it’s unclear specifically why Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted this call today. White House officials say that this is a moment of crisis between Russia and the West.

As you mentioned it, tens of thousands of Russian troops are massed on the border with Ukraine, which is something that the U.S. has tried to pull Russia back from. Putin already has invaded Ukraine in 2014, annexed part of its territory, did the same in neighboring Georgia in 2008.

The former U.S. ambassador to Russia says a call request from the Kremlin like this, it’s a rarity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: No, I think it’s a good sign. President Putin rarely asked for calls. I worked in the Obama administration for five years. I think I remember one time that he asked for a call.

It’s usually the other way around. So that means he has a message he wants to send to the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

EDSON: Now, Republicans have criticized President Biden’s strategy for waiving sanctions against a Russian natural gas pipeline. That’s the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. They also say that the White House should more aggressively arm Ukraine.

A senior White House official says the U.S. is prepared to provide more defensive weapons or more further assistance to defend its territory. But the specifics on that are unclear. The White House is also threatening unprecedented sanctions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are having direct conversations with Russia.

We are very clear that Russia should not invade the sovereignty of Ukraine, that we must stand up and we are standing up for its territorial integrity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

EDSON: This is also ahead of Russian and American officials meeting January 10 to discuss these issues. A senior White House officials says that Presidents Biden and Putin are not expected to be directly involved in those talks — Jackie.

DEANGELIS: Rich Edson, thank you so much for that.

Big question right now, can this standoff with Russia be resolved diplomatically — diplomatically? Pardon me.

With me now, former State Department official Christian Whiton.

Christian, great to see you to get some insight on this topic.

As Rich reported there, the call is under way as we speak. Putin did request the call, but we don’t necessarily know what he wants to talk about. What do you think that message is that he wants to send the president?

CHRISTIAN WHITON, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY SPECIAL ENVOY: My guess is that he’s trying to soften up Biden a little bit, trying to lay out an agenda and make it seem reasonable.

What Russia wants from talks is in agreement not to let Ukraine into NATO, also not to let Georgia into NATO. There’s been an increasing level of talk of yet again extending NATO closer to Russia’s borders. So my guess is that that is probably at the top of the discussion.

Of course, President Biden, on the other hand, would like to see this crisis go the same way that one went earlier this year, where Russia increased the number of forces on Ukraine’s border, caused a bit of a stir, and then decreased those forces as the time went by.

DEANGELIS: Talking about sanctions if Putin does move forward.

There are a couple of options there, of course. A lot of people are saying what he needs to do, the president, that is, President Biden, is essentially cut Russia out of the banking system, the international banking system, add a military presence there, also reverse the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Your thoughts on if he would exercise any of these options.

WHITON: He’s backed himself into such so much of a corner that, if Putin actually did invade Ukraine, which, again, I think is very unlikely at the end of the day — Russia does not actually want a war. The United States doesn’t want a war here.

But Biden would be obliged, I think, at this point to do something. You mentioned the financial sanctions. It’s the idea of kicking them out of SWIFT, which is the Belgium-based mechanism for conducting a lot of cross- border transactions.

The flip side of that is, if we make too many people angry, too many countries, by doing that, you could have Russia and China together and Iran start to create something separate from a U.S. dollar-dominated international financial system.

And there’s also the question here of whether the American people are really willing to see the United States go on to a war footing over Ukraine. After all, this is Ukraine. It’s not France or Britain or Holland or some of the countries that are more of our traditional allies.

DEANGELIS: Understood.

But, as Kamala Harris said in that interview, we are respecting Ukraine’s sovereignty. And so I would just have to follow up and ask you, if he’s not prepared to invade Ukraine, then why amass the troops, why create the situation that we’re looking at right now?

WHITON: Well, Putin actually loves what’s going on as far as having a moment of the sun — in the sun, if you will.

Russia is this very significant old, powerful country, but it still — and it does have the world’s fourth or fifth largest army, depending on how you count North Korea, but an economy just, I believe, 1/12th the size of Europe.

Putin has played a relatively bad hand very well. He continues to put himself in the spotlight. He continues to put himself on an equal level as the United States and China, which are two countries with vastly larger economies and militaries. And he might get what he wants here, which is actually to either make Ukraine neutral or to make it just de facto a member of Russia’s sphere of influence, along with Georgia, Belarus, all of these other countries in Russia’s so-called near abroad.

DEANGELIS: Yes, some have suggested that this is almost a situation where he’s flexing his muscles for his ego, right, with respect to geopolitics and his standing and Russia’s standing in the world.

Christian, always great to see you, sir. Thank you so much, and happy new year to you.

WHITON: Thank you, Jackie.

DEANGELIS: All right, well, a senior administration official saying that the White House is gravely concerned with Russia’s military buildup.

So, how should we respond if sanctions don’t work?

We’re going to go to a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, Danny Davis, in just a moment. He is not with us.

So we’re going to leave it there for the moment and take a break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DEANGELIS: Welcome back, everybody.

Sticking with the Putin conversation, gravely concerned, that is how a senior administration official is describing Russia’s military buildup.

Let’s get straight to retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Danny Davis on how to deal with it.

Obviously, tensions are high right now. No details exactly, sir, on what’s coming out of this call. We were talking about some of the sanctions that the president could enact. Where do you think this goes? How quickly could it potentially escalate, if it does?

LT. COL. DANNY DAVIS (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Well, I’m going to be very interested in here. What the readout of the phone call turns out to be, because it could be, as your correspondent mentioned, I think, just a few minutes ago, that put is wanting to try to soft-pedal things and to say, hey, let’s just have a reasonable conversation and come to an agreement.

Or it could be the opposite, where he’s trying to play a harder hand and saying, hey, I am deadly serious about not allowing Ukraine to go into the Western orbit, and we’re not kidding with these things, with the military buildup we have there.

And that’s really part of the key here. They can say whatever they want, like any nation, but what you really have to pay attention is, is what they’re doing. And, right now, the military forces that they have, not just the number, but the types, the locations where they’re spread around in their country opposite the Ukraine gives Putin the ability to actually order such as an attack, if he wants to, and he has the forces in place to do it.

DEANGELIS: Right.

DAVIS: The question is going to be is, how do we handle that?

DEANGELIS: Right. And the military forces we’re talking about, about 100,000 troops. He reduced it about 10,000. But,as you mentioned, that’s still quite a presence there.

I think about these phone calls, and I think about what happens behind the scenes, what’s going through each leader’s mind. Vladimir Putin, of course, did go through with annexing Crimea. And that, of course, was when President Obama was in office and Joe Biden was vice president.

DAVIS: Right.

DEANGELIS: And then we had a new sheriff in town. Relations changed. A lot of leaders looked at the former president, former President Trump, in a different way.

And now Joe Biden again back in charge, and you sort of think to yourself, leaders are looking at Joe Biden. They think there’s a weak presence in the White House. If there’s time to make a move like this, the time would be right now.

DAVIS: Well, I’m not sure that Putin really worries about which president is in force, because he knows that the U.S. military is the same no matter which president it’s in there.

But you do hit a good point there, which I think is important, is that Putin has demonstrated that, when he says that he has these red lines about military formations on his border, he has acted in the past to make good on those threats that he will not allow that with Georgia in 2008 and with Crimea in 2014.

So we cannot just dismiss his claims here, or even think that just sanctions alone are going to keep him from doing it. We have to actually enter into subsidy of diplomacy. And that means give and take in ways that we may not particularly like, but we have to prevent any kind of conflict, because that is not in our interests.

DEANGELIS: You bring up a good point with respect to what you’re saying.

I think it’s really interesting to also think about the notion that our enemies tested this president the moment that he walked into the White House, right, watching to see what his reactions would be, and how his foreign policy would play out. He’s made some blunders, his withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Leaders are looking at him and questioning his ability to lead America forward and to be somebody to reckon with.

DAVIS: Well, here’s what Biden has to be very careful about.

Just he can’t be too concerned about — quote — “looking tough,” which many people are advocating, because if that actually spawns an attack, that Russia says, OK, if you want to be tough, we’re going to go ahead and take action here, and it escalates, now then we’re in a whole new world of problems here.

And that’s not going to help us. So I know Biden is going to come under accusations of being weak if he negotiates with Putin, but I’m telling you, it is worse for America if he — if being tough actually spawns an attack by Russia, and then we have to deal with conflict right there on NATO’s border.

DEANGELIS: We will be watching to see how it plays out. I’m very curious too to get the readout from that phone call and see what the messaging was.

DAVIS: Yes.

DEANGELIS: Thank you so much for your insights, sir. Always great to see you.

DAVIS: Thanks. Appreciate it. Thank you.

DEANGELIS: Sure.

All right, now let’s get to the latest on the COVID situation, because COVID cases are climbing back up. More of those New Year’s Eve celebrations are being scaled back.

FOX News correspondent Steve Harrigan in Atlanta with the very latest.

Hi, Steve.

STEVE HARRIGAN, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Jackie, with new case records being set in the U.S. and at least 15 states as well notching their highest numbers since this epidemic began, the CDC head saying, however, that hospitalization rates across the country are still comparatively low.

That is not the case here in Atlanta, the home of the CDC, where six Atlanta hospitals just issued a statement saying that they were undergoing a staggering surge in new COVID patients, both adults and children, almost all of them unvaccinated.

The surgeon general today had a stark warning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: The most important role of vaccination is to save your life and keep you out of the hospital.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIGAN: And it’s likely that the real numbers of the COVID cases across the U.S. could be considerably higher. That’s because people taking the rapid at-home test generally don’t report the results of that.

And the CDC has issued its highest level warning for cruise ships, basically saying don’t get on a cruise ship, level four warning, no matter what your vaccination status.

And in New York City, preparations continue for the ball drop. However, because of COVID, it will be a scaled-down event from 57,000 to 15,000 people allowed in, all masked and vaccinated — Jackie, back to you.

DEANGELIS: Steve Harrigan, thank you so much for that.

We’re watching all this so closely, as a new study suggests that catching Omicron may actually help people fend off the Delta variant.

A read on that now from associate professor at NYU School of Medicine Dr. Devi.

Dr. Devi, always great to have you here.

Look, the cases are rising. What’s being reported right now doesn’t even adequately measure what’s happening across the country, because so many people are testing with the at-home kits and not necessarily reporting those results.

What we’re seeing here is a continuation of some of the fear that has been out there throughout this pandemic. There are those who say, if you have been vaccinated, you have been boosted, you get Omicron and suffer mitigated, reduced symptoms, that’s a good thing, we’re going to head towards herd immunity, and this will be behind us in 2022.

DR. DEVI NAMPIAPARAMPIL, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, NYU SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Right, so that will be the evolution of this, that eventually we will hit herd immunity, whether it’s through natural immunity or whether it’s through the vaccine.

In this case, so Macron is taking over as the predominant variant. But, still, even with the mild symptoms, we are making progress, in that the hospitalization rates, the death rates aren’t what they were in the past.

But I could say, here in New York City, I do hear sirens throughout the night. I do see people kind of reporting that they are positive. And that surge is creating a lot of panic. I mean, when I walk outside, what I see is lines kind of going around the block. And I think what’s happened is, people are focused on certain things like the masks, the vaccine debates, and they forget some of the basic infection control measures that we know from the past.

Like, if I look at these lines, for example, in New York City, the lines — you have food carts right in the middle of these lines just because of where they’re placed. You have subway entrances also where people are coming in and out of this wall of people who have COVID symptoms who are trying to get tested.

DEANGELIS: Right.

NAMPIAPARAMPIL: And then you have people who are waiting for boosters as well who are packed together kind of for six hours at a time trying to get $100, which was the incentive that was given.

So some of those folks may have symptoms as well. So, although I think we’re moving in the right direction, I kind of wonder whether the approach that we’re taking to this is sort of forgetting just the basic infection control measures.

DEANGELIS: You’re absolutely right. I see those lines, and I end up crossing the street. No reason to put yourself under those circumstances.

Also, we talk to other doctors who have said, don’t forget, keep washing your hands, keep trying to stay healthy, take vitamins, boost your immune system.

But you look at Omicron and these numbers, and you think to yourself, this was anticipated by everybody. We knew we were going to see variants. We knew we would see other strains. At a certain point, when you look at, for example, the cruise industry, saying you shouldn’t even take a cruise now if you’re vaccinated, I mean, are those kinds of measures necessary at this point?

As you mentioned, the hospitalizations are not causing an alarm bell right now.

NAMPIAPARAMPIL: Well, I think the fear can be more paralyzing.

When people get afraid, they actually forget not just quality of life, but they forget basic things. Like, I think people are so afraid of COVID that they also forget about their regular health checkups and other things that they need to do.

In terms of the cruises, I mean, if people are at very high risk of having severe illness, complications, if they have three or more risk factors, that’s a different story. But, for regular people, I think just being locked in and living like this, it has its effects too. It can take its toll in terms of depression, anxiety, all types of things.

And then just the dreariness and the bleak outlook, I think that takes its toll on people as well, which we’re seeing in studies. I mean, we can see that, in terms of alcoholism, substance abuse, the opioid crisis has never been worse. The liver transplant rate from alcoholic hepatitis tripled last year.

So you’re seeing these effects in other forms. And I think we need to take that into account, which we have — our focus has been on COVID. But it really hasn’t looked at how this is affecting people’s health and well- being in so many other ways.

DEANGELIS: I hear what you’re saying. And I have spoken to so many people that I know, acquaintances who have been traveling. And they said, listen, I got my vaccine, I got my booster, it’s time to live life, I’m not going to lock my child up and stay cooped up during the holiday period.

NAMPIAPARAMPIL: Yes.

DEANGELIS: If it happens, it happens. It’ll run through our system, and we will move forward.

And speaking to the psychological impact, there’s a lot to be said for that as well.

NAMPIAPARAMPIL: Yes.

I think, also, for people, they need to see an end in sight. And if we look at history, not just COVID, if we look at history, viruses move forward towards an evolution where they do become more contagious. They become more contagious because they’re trying to adapt and infect more people. But they also become less deadly over time because it doesn’t help them to kill the host, because they die at the same time.

DEANGELIS: Right.

NAMPIAPARAMPIL: So that’s sort of the natural evolution.

Here, I think the focus really needs to be on treatment. Like, what are we going to do for those people who do get hospitalized, for those people who are at risk to protect them?

DEANGELIS: Right.

NAMPIAPARAMPIL: Because there are monoclonal antibodies that work, but they’re not out there. There are states that have severe shortages. So what’s happening?

DEANGELIS: Dr. Devi…

NAMPIAPARAMPIL: Where is the supply chain being disrupted?

DEANGELIS: We have been talking about that for weeks. Where are the therapeutics? Where are the monoclonal antibodies? Where are the pills en masse, so that people are able to have access to them if they are infected, and then they can move on?

That’s the big question. Unfortunately, you and I can’t answer it.

Really good to see you today. I wanted to wish you a happy new year as well.

NAMPIAPARAMPIL: Happy new year. Thank you.

DEANGELIS: OK.

Coming up: With COVID still surging, so are those flight cancellations. How much longer will all of this turbulence be lasting? What the airlines are saying — next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DEANGELIS: Crime spreading across the country. Now one Midwest supermarket chain is taking steps to beef up its security force.

We have got that story coming up. We’re back in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DEANGELIS: Welcome back.

Still no end in sight for those travel troubles, fliers facing a seventh straight day of widespread cancellations and delays. Will it be more of the same heading into the new year?

FOX News’ David Lee Miller is at New York’s La Guardia Airport with more on what to expect.

David Lee, any improvement?

DAVID LEE MILLER, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Not significantly.

I guess you could say, Jackie, that the airline cancellations and the delays have gotten viral. As you so rightly point out, this is now the seventh straight day of air service disruptions from coast to coast.

And it’s not just COVID-related staff shortages causing the problem. There’s severe weather, including tornadoes forecasts for the South and storms out West, that are making travel difficult. Today, according to FlightAware, more than 1,200 flights scheduled to land or take off in the U.S. ended up sitting on the ground.

Airline customers are increasingly anxious and frustrated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we have been pretty nervous about getting back home, because we saw the cancellations, and then with the increased cases of Omicron.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don’t know what I would do. I’d have to try to rent a car and travel 1,300 miles across the country. So, I can only imagine what they’re going through.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MILLER: As for individual carriers, JetBlue canceled at least 17 percent of its schedule today, Alaska Air 14 percent. The airline says it did so to allow more time to deice planes at their Seattle hub.

It is also encouraging travelers to postpone travel. United canceled 9 percent of today’s flights. Many of the airlines say they are notifying passengers as much as possible in advance to prevent them from making unnecessary trips to the airport. That said, however, keep this in mind.

Tomorrow, New Year’s Eve, it has already been said that 600-plus flights have already been canceled — Jackie.

DEANGELIS: I’m imagining you have a lot of travelers who are very frustrated.

David Lee Miller, thank you so much for that.

To get the read on these air travel woes, Aviation expert Michael Boyd.

Michael, this is going on and on. And this last surge in COVID came at such a horrible time, holidays, so much travel. How do the airlines navigate this? I mean, it almost feels like they’re melting down. How do they decide which flights to cancel, deal with the staffing shortages, deal with these customers, who are probably very agitated?

MICHAEL BOYD, AVIATION SECURITY EXPERT: Well, it’s highest and best use.

I mean, this is different than we have had other meltdowns. They know they are going to be short. So they’re trying to anticipate where they can minimize the damage, if you will, to the customer and to their bottom line.

So it’s kind of a controlled meltdown. It’s not something where airplanes are ending up all over the country unexpectedly. What they’re doing right now, I guarantee you, the airwaves are full of e-mails going to people saying, your trip tomorrow has been postponed. We have rebooked you for next Thursday or something like that.

But they’re trying to do the best they can. But this is something they can anticipate a little bit, unlike weather issues and things like that.

DEANGELIS: Do you think the new CDC guidelines shortening the quarantine period will help under these circumstances? Some are saying it’s just going to make it more risky to fly and that the Omicron variant will just spread more in the air.

BOYD: Well, I think the real issue here is, that’s a medical issue one way or the other.

And if they decide a shorter quarantine period works, I would go along with them. But the real bottom line of this is, there’s a lot of fear of getting this disease. And as a result of that, people are going to be pulling back, including airline employees, the natural thing to do.

So, five days, 10 days, I don’t think it’s going to make a whole lot of difference. The real issue is, people are living in a little bit of fear of getting this disease.

DEANGELIS: What about winter weather, right? That’s something the airlines have to face at this time every year.

So, when you compound all these problems, it just only makes it more difficult to navigate.

BOYD: Well, correct.

I think, somewhere in holy scripture, there’s something where it’s been decided, if you’re going to have weather, you’re going to have thunderstorms or whatever, it will only happen during a major holiday period. I haven’t found it yet, but I’m sure it’s there.

DEANGELIS: Yes.

Some people talk about travel, air travel specifically, saying that the air in the cabins, the new filtration systems, it’s one of the safer places to be, especially when you have folks who are wearing their masks and participating in that process.

Yet there’s a huge cry from some who say it’s time to take the masks off the planes. I mean, it’s like one day we make one decision. The next day, we’re trying to do something else. We’re upset that the flights are being canceled, but people want the masks off.

I mean, I don’t know what to make of it. What about you?

BOYD: Well, it isn’t a mask requirement. It’s a cover your nose and mouth requirement. That’s very different.

So until we get some critical understanding of what a mask really is, I would have to agree with the CEO of Southwest Airlines. This isn’t doing as much good, particularly when the — look at it this way. They say airline cabins’ air is about the same as an operating room.

The difference is, in an operating room, you got at least one sick person, you know for sure. I do think that these mask requirements as they’re structured today are counterproductive.

DEANGELIS: Yes, and we’re also having these conversations about vaccine mandates potentially to fly as well. Your thoughts?

BOYD: Well, what I have read — and, again, good lord, I don’t know what to believe now, but a lot of people getting this Omicron variant had been already vaccinated.

So, having a vaccination passport to get an airplane doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, when it’s showing that vaccination doesn’t necessarily make any difference.

DEANGELIS: It doesn’t, no, right.

I mean, it does with respect to the severity of your illness, but with respect to the spread, it doesn’t.

Great to see you. Thank you so much.

BOYD: Good. Bye-bye.

DEANGELIS: All right, coming up: It’s not just the airline industry dealing with turbulence, gyms across the country counting on a New Year’s surge now faced with this COVID surge.

But, first, why 2022 could turn out to be a real pain in the — at the gas pump.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DEANGELIS: The White House just releasing a photo of President Biden’s call this afternoon with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

The two spoke for about 50 minutes, Putin requesting the call, as tensions rise over his troops amassed along the Ukraine border. We will pass on more about what they discussed as soon as we get it.

All right, well, new year, same soaring prices, fuel GasBuddy buddy predicting that gas could top $4 a gallon nationally in 2022. With inflation already at the highest level in 39 years, does this trend spell trouble for Democrats in the midterms?

Joining us now, Democratic pollster Brad Bannon, Axios reporter Hans Nichols, and Carrie Sheffield.

Brad, I will go ahead and start with you.

Gas prices have been a huge pain for folks across the country. And they’re complaining about it, as well as food prices too. There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. And tapping the SPR, the few things the administration tried to do haven’t really helped when it comes to the prices you see on your screen there.

BRAD BANNON, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Well, gas pump sticker shock is an avatar for vote of concern about inflation. So it is a big problem for Democrats.

But I would disagree with you. I think there is an end in sight. If you look at the energy price app GasBuddy, they project that gasoline prices could be just under $3 by October. And that’s when people are going to start thinking about voting.

So it is clearly a problem now, but I think it’s too early to predict whether it’s going to be a problem for Democrats in the fall, when people actually vote.

DEANGELIS: That’s an interesting way to think about it. I mean, it really is hurting people right now. It may not be top of mind in October. But that’s not to say it hasn’t had an impact.

Hans, there are those on Wall Street who are forecasting that oil will go to $100 a barrel, if not higher than that, and that the prices will go over $4. So I’m not necessarily sure that we will come down by October.

HANS NICHOLS, AXIOS: Yes, I mean, again, if I were trading either Brent or WTI, I would probably a lot richer than I am now. So I’m not going to pretend to know what oil markets are going to do.

I would, Jackie, just say, from the White House’s perspective, they’re looking at this more in the short term and the long term. But, in the short term, the debate and the discussion is really around what’s going to happen with the CPI, with the inflation numbers, because that directly relates to Senator Joe Manchin in his hesitancy on moving forward with a big Build Back Better agenda, the $1.75, $3.5 trillion, however you want to call it out

It’s generally assumed that for Manchin to come back to the table, or to actually get serious about some sort of final deal — and there could be discussions going on right now — you’re going to need to see CPI tick down a couple notches. Now, I don’t know what those notches are. But the more relevant number, I think, is the — January 12 is the next time we get a CPI reading.

And I think it’s February 10 later on. We will see whether or not inflation is not necessarily going down, but trending down.

DEANGELIS: Right.

NICHOLS: And that’s when they’re looking at.

DEANGELIS: And there could be a little relief when it comes to those numbers. We’re not exactly sure.

But the analysts are essentially saying they will stay elevated.

Carrie, when we look at CPI, it’s outpacing wage growth. And that’s the real problem, right? It’s eating away at people’s disposable income. But when it comes to the White House and how it views all of this, I mean, how Americans are viewing this is, in the past, when we have had oil over $100, we have been at war or we’re dealing with some sort of natural disaster or a problem with the pipelines because of hurricanes down South.

That’s not what we’re dealing with this time. This time, we’re dealing with the administration’s policies that have essentially caused our oil production to go down. And that’s why gases — gas prices are up.

CARRIE SHEFFIELD, INDEPENDENT WOMEN’S FORUM: You’re exactly right.

If this White House actually cared about having a better oil supply, which would make the prices go down, then Joe Biden wouldn’t do things like canceling the Keystone Pipeline. He wouldn’t do things like putting mandates with their SEC and all the Green New Deal regulations, which are just barreling across the way and rolling back a lot of things that the Trump administration put in place to help lower the fuel prices.

And, look, it’s not just pain at the pump. It’s also heating your home as well. We have a tracker with Independent Women’s Forum looking at home fuel prices, and they’re up 25 percent compared to last year.

So, the White House here, they have already got a strike against them because they won the White House. And it’s a generic ballot. Whoever wins the White House, in two years, they are always at a disadvantage. And now he’s doing this new self-inflicted wound.

You mentioned Putin in your program quite a bit. Biden, meanwhile, he’s giving gifts to the Putin and Russia regime by failing to put sanctions in place that the Trump administration put against the Nord Stream 2 over there in Russia.

So, if — I respect the office, but for all of the talk of Trump colluding with Russia, it seems that Joe Biden is actually the one who’s been doing that here when it comes to oil.

DEANGELIS: Brad, I want to come back to you and get a response on that, because, gas prices aside, a lot of the policies have had this impact on the market. What do you say about that?

BANNON: Well, first of all, I think it’s also fair to — and I believe one of the things that President Biden hasn’t done well enough is point out that the big oil is using the inflation as an excuse to gouge American consumers.

And I think it’s unfair to put all the onus on President Biden.

DEANGELIS: How can you say that? How can you say that?

Because the Democrats are saying that about food prices. They’re saying that about everything. We’re dealing with supply chain issues. We are dealing with worker shortages right now.

BANNON: We’re also dealing with…

DEANGELIS: When it comes to oil and gas companies, their underlying costs are going up, and that’s why they’re charging more.

When you look at the price of crude oil, that price is going up.

BANNON: Well, I just — I think…

(CROSSTALK)

DEANGELIS: We’re actually — Brad, we are actually paying for the kingdom of Saudi Arabia to pay all its bills.

(CROSSTALK)

BANNON: Well, again, I think big oil deserves a lot of the blame for this crisis, because they’re using the economy as an excuse to price-gouge the American consumer.

And if they really cared about Americans and consumers, they wouldn’t be using this situation as…

(CROSSTALK)

DEANGELIS: It’s not up to big oil to care about consumers. It’s supply and demand.

SHEFFIELD: Can I add something? Can I add something?

DEANGELIS: Go ahead.

SHEFFIELD: That the Biden administration has rolled back any tax support or tax subsidies for — quote, unquote — “big oil.” They have already done that.

They have gone after big oil, as you have called it, but it hasn’t done anything. All they have done is actually hurt the oil companies by removing any sort of tax benefit or deductions. So the Biden administration is doing everything they can to squeeze — quote, unquote — “big oil.”

But, at the same time, they’re also squeezing the U.S. consumer. And I have to say it’s a tax on poor and middle-class families the most. They’re the ones who are hurt the most by inflation. It’s a tax on the poor and the middle class. Joe Biden does not care about them.

DEANGELIS: All right, we are going to have to leave it there.

Hans, final word to you, because you have been silent.

(LAUGHTER)

NICHOLS: Well, gosh, I’m just wondering whether or not Build Back Better is going to pass.

And then there’s going to be a lot of electrical vehicle money and also for bikes as well. So, maybe we can all come to the same place. We will all be biking everywhere, because we will have tax rebates to buy new electric bikes.

(LAUGHTER)

NICHOLS: But that’s about all I can offer for your lively discussion there, guys.

Thanks for having me.

DEANGELIS: All right, we’re going to have to leave it there. My thanks to all three of you. Thank you for coming on and expressing your views.

And happy new year to you all.

BANNON: Thank you, Jackie. And happy new year to you.

SHEFFIELD: Thank you. Happy new year.

DEANGELIS: All right.

Coming up: As the crime surge continues nationwide, one grocery chain is taking matters into its own hands to protect customers. We’re going to tell you the security steps the grocer is taking and if other companies will follow — next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DEANGELIS: As crime continues to pose a problem for retailers, Midwest food chain Hy-Vee is planning to protect itself, the grocer announcing that it’s hiring its own armed security force to help keep customers safe.

Will this be effective? And are more companies going to have to protect themselves as well, as crime is surging across the country?

Let’s ask former Las Vegas Police Lieutenant and The Wounded Blue founder Randy Sutton.

Randy, good to see you.

This is coming at a huge expense to companies, but, essentially, they don’t really know what else to do because local law enforcement isn’t helping out.

RANDY SUTTON, FORMER LAS VEGAS POLICE LIEUTENANT: No, you’re right.

And this is a sad commentary on where we have — where we have come today. But there’s a lot more to this story. And that is, OK, so is the customer of this large chain of grocery stores, do they want to actually shop in an armed camp, which is — sounds to like what this is evolving into?

But — and more important than the actual putting in place armed security guards in paramilitary uniforms into these stores across various states, visually, they’re looking at a deterrent. But, very soon, it is going to come down to, what are the policies in place by this company when it comes down to actually using force, including deadly force, in the event of a robbery, retail theft?

And remember this too, that they are governed by the laws of the states. And many of these companies who have put security into place don’t actually allow them to use force, because they’re afraid of the civil liabilities that go along with using force.

There’s a lot more to this than just putting some security guards into a store.

DEANGELIS: You bring up a really interesting point there, because we have seen this before, where armed security is present, and still a store is robbed, or they do a smash-and-grab, and there essentially is nothing that they can do.

But you may find yourself in a situation or a company may find itself in a situation where somebody acts rashly or they’re not necessarily complying with the rules for whatever reason, a situation gets out of control, and, all of a sudden, you have another problem on your hands.

SUTTON: Exactly.

And let’s look at this a little more universally too. So, this chain is putting in a large amount of money to put into place the — this trained security force, but not everybody can afford to do that. Maybe the larger chains can, but how about the mom-and-pops that are out there just barely making it as they exist today?

And where’s the failure? The failure is with the state legislatures who are watering down the consequences for crime, the prosecutors who have been put into place that essentially do everything they can to mollycoddle the criminal and care nothing about the victim.

And then we’re talking about the people. Look at some of the stores that have been closing their doors in major cities. Well, who’s victimized there? It’s the elderly people who can only walk so far to the grocery store or the drugstore, and now they’re shuttering their doors because the city and the state has failed to protect them.

DEANGELIS: Yes.

SUTTON: And this is really what’s happening.

DEANGELIS: It’s a huge problem. We will be discussing it with you again in 2022.

Happy new year, sir. Good to see you, Randy.

SUTTON: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

DEANGELIS: Coming up: Are you hitting the gym or planning to? Why mandates may have fitness centers hitting a wall.

Orangetheory Fitness CEO Dave Long is here next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DEANGELIS: With Omicron on the rise, instead of preparing for a post- holiday surge, many fitness centers are bracing for a COVID slump.

Orangetheory CEO Dave Long joins me now to discuss how the pandemic is impacting business.

And, Dave, I can only imagine what you have gone through in the last two years, the ups and downs, the rules changing, and what you’re expecting in 2022.

DAVE LONG, CEO, ORANGETHEORY FITNESS: Hey, Jackie. Thanks for having me on.

And, yes, it’s certainly been an interesting couple years. I think, fortunately, we built up a lot of muscles starting in March of 2020 on how to pivot and change protocols, procedures, all those things. So that’s allowed us to stay pretty nimble and our franchise partners to pivot and do what they need to do to keep the ball moving forward with kind of an up- and-down roller coaster.

We’re pretty bullish on 2022. We know that Omicron is going to run its course probably for the next couple months. But the demand and the search for fitness and for Orangetheory specifically has remained really high. So we expect, when the cases start to WARNER:, that we’re going to have a massive 2022 with growth.

DEANGELIS: And what have you seen so far going into this latest surge with the variants? Are people essentially saying, listen, I’m tired of this, it’s been two years, I miss my workout, and I’m not going to sideline it for anything?

Or are you seeing fear? Does it depend what city we’re talking about?

LONG: You know, I think — I think the overall trend is, more and more people are saying, I really need to get my workout. I miss my community. I miss focusing on health and fitness, which has so many benefits.

So we think that the trend is continuing that people are still coming and getting their workouts. Obviously, like you mentioned, certain cities with mask mandates, that does curtail some folks that just don’t want to wear a mask in a class and deal with that piece.

But even through the holidays, we still have pretty strong workout traffic. As you can imagine, new people entering Orangetheory has slowed over the last couple of weeks. And we expect that to maybe last a couple more weeks, but then we really think we’re going to ramp up very quickly.

DEANGELIS: And when you have people enter your buildings, are you checking vaccination status right now?

LONG: It’s whatever — whatever adheres to a local, state or a municipality is requiring.

So, like, New York City, we have been doing vaccination checks for months now. And everybody’s kind of used to that as just the way of doing business. So, whatever it is in the local market, that’s what the franchisees are adhering to.

DEANGELIS: Yes, it’s interesting if you look at the stock market, right?

We had all those stay-at-home stocks that had to do with fitness, companies like Peloton, so much of those products were in demand. And those stocks are starting to shift and sell off a little bit. And folks are thinking, maybe in 2022, at least when we get past this surge, we’re going to get back to normal.

And it’s interesting to me, because, walking into a gym, it’s been such a long time for me. It almost feels like a brand-new experience. I’m sure others feel that way too.

LONG: Absolutely.

And I think what was telling is, June and July were record months for us, and then, obviously, Delta slowed things up. But we have always been focused on really being comfortable for a first-time person entering our studio taking their first class. So, that’s a — that’s something that we have done over the last 11 years of us being in business, so even more focus on that today.

We added over 500,000 new members to the Orangetheory brand in 2021 who had never taken an Orangetheory class. So, we had a lot of repetitions of making sure people feel comfortable, they understand the safety protocols, and they understand what to expect before they walk through the doors.

DEANGELIS: It’s a tough time of year for the airline industry, I was saying. It’s a tough time of year for you guys. People set New Year’s resolutions. They want to get back into the swing of things, especially after being out of it for so long.

We wish you a lot of luck. And we will check in, in 2020, see how things are going.

LONG: Thanks so much. Happy new year.

DEANGELIS: Thank you, Dave. Happy new year to you as well.

All right, that’s all the time that we have today. Thanks for joining us.

“THE FIVE” starts right now.

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