Scott Pelley asked Bloomblerg, “So it’s a blank check? You’d spend $1 billion?”

Mike Bloomberg responded, “Well, I don’t know if it’s a blank check, but, when they come to me and they wanna spend more, I’ve so far said yes.”

Partial Transcript:

Scott Pelley: How do you view this [coronavirus] emergency?

Mike Bloomberg: I find it incomprehensible that the president would do something as inane as calling it a hoax, which he did [Friday] night in South Carolina.

Scott Pelley: He said that the Democrats making so much of it is a Democratic hoax, not that the virus was a hoax.

Mike Bloomberg: This is up to the scientists and the doctors as to whether there is a problem. And it is just ignorant and irresponsible to not stand up and be the leader and say, “We don’t know, but we have to prepare for the fact that, if it is, we have the medicines and the structure and the knowledge to deal with it.”

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Scott Pelley: The president’s proposed budget would have cut 16% from the budget of the Centers for Disease Control, and about 8% from the National Institutes of Health.

Mike Bloomberg: I would have raised it rather than cut it.

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Scott Pelley: I should say that the Congress didn’t allow that to happen, so the cuts didn’t happen. But what do you make of the effort to cut those budgets?

Mike Bloomberg: We have to spend money to make us safe and protect this country. It’s like saying I’m not going to fund the military. “I’m not gonna fund the local fire department. We’re not gonna have fires. I don’t believe– fires are hoaxes.” This is about the level that he’s talking.

Spending money is what the Trump administration has in mind now. It’s asking for nearly $2 billion for a virus response led by the vice president. Despite that, markets plummeted about 10% last week.

Scott Pelley: What about Wall Street?

Mike Bloomberg: Wall Street does not do well with uncertainty. And it’s– the worst thing is nobody knows how bad this is going to get. I can just tell you, in my company, we’re splitting in all our big offices into two different buildings, even if it’s just a temporary thing. If this flu does strike, and strikes our employees, it won’t strike all of them, because we have to continue to provide a service.

Scott Pelley: Friday evening, the president announced his selection for director of National Intelligence. His principal qualification for that job appears to be fierce loyalty to the president.

Mike Bloomberg: That’s all of the president’s appointees, have that one characteristic.

Scott Pelley: And I’m curious, how would you fill the top jobs in government?

Mike Bloomberg: Plain and simple: You get some experts. You put ’em in a room and say, “Okay, now who should we go hire to do this job? Who’s the best person in the world?” We’ll start there. Asking what party they’re a member of, how they voted the last time, it is so nonsensical. If you are sick, do you really wanna go to a doctor who was politically correct? Or somebody that knew how to treat your disease? I’ll rest my case.

Bloomberg is pressing his case after a late start and poor showing in his first debate last month. This past Wednesday, after a better, second debate, he slept three hours before heading to his Times Square headquarters to phone voters. He’s opened more than 200 offices with 2,400 staff.

That same morning, he met us for a flight to his boyhood home.

Scott Pelley: You told everybody who would listen that you’re not running for president.

Mike Bloomberg: I did.

Scott Pelley: What changed?

Mike Bloomberg: I started watching and listening to the candidates. And they had ideas that made no sense to me whatsoever. Donald Trump is gonna eat ’em for lunch.

H/T CBS News: