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Marathon Obamacare Protest in Senate; No Handshake, No Meeting with Iran; Feds Recommend Rearview Cameras in Cars; Ted Cruz's All- Night Talk-A-Thon; What Obamacare will Cost You

Aired September 25, 2013 - 09:00   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And -- get ready. "Dumb and Dumber 2" is coming. Seriously?

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


COSTELLO: Good morning. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Carol Costello. Of course, we begin in Washington where Senator Ted Cruz and others are still talking after Cruz took his fight against Obamacare to the Senate floor in an epic speech.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I will stay standing here after 14 hours, standing on your own feet, there's sometimes some pain, sometimes some fatigue that is involved. But you know what? There's far more pain involved in rolling over.


COSTELLO: And that was about four hours ago. Cruz's efforts are drawing praise and criticism on Twitter. Cruz using his own hashtag, makedclisten. That along with keepcruzing. Just some of the trends.

But one congressman, Mark Takano, is also getting in on the action, taking a page from Kanye West's infamous swipe at Taylor Swift. Takano twitted this, "Ted Cruz, I'm going to let you finish but Wendy Davis had the best filibuster of all time."

Love it or hate it, this is your government at work.

Chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash on Capitol Hill this morning, what's he talking about now?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, I just came from the Senate floor, just to sort of take a peek, and at that point he was talking about Ashton Kutcher. So I guess after almost 19 hours of talking, with the help of some of his friends, maybe about six or seven of his fellow Republicans have come to help him throughout the night, you kind of run out of things to say. And one little teaser, we're going to definitely play this for our viewers when I come back in the next hour. But he just was getting to a point where he was talking about "Star Wars," Carol. Even with saying to his fellow senator, Mike Lee, that he was his father and did this in the Darth Vader voice.

I cannot do it justice. We will just have to play it for people to understand. But what is this all about? Let's take a look at what his doing. The reason why he's giving this very long speech.


CRUZ: Madam President.

BASH (voice-over): Ted Cruz seized the Senate floor and vowed not to let go.

CRUZ: I intend to speak in support of defunding Obamacare until I am no longer able to stand.

BASH: To be sure, this is theater. Whether he speaks for hours or not the vote timing and the outcome will be the same. Cruz aides fully admit he's using the Senate floor stage to speak directly to his audience -- conservative grassroots activists who fueled his Tea Party upset last year.

CRUZ: Where is the outrage? Where are the senators standing here saying, what a travesty that young people are being denied a fair shot in the American dream because of what we have wrought, because of Obamacare?

BASH: Cruz's talk fest is exactly what his Republican leadership who oppose his tactics were trying to avoid. In fact even as Cruz started GOP leaders were talking to reporters a few feet away, urging him to abandon what they consider a complicated fool's errand.

For procedural reasons, Cruz is opposing the bill he supports -- funding the government but defunding Obamacare. If you don't follow, that's exactly why many worried Republicans are exasperated.

(On camera): Effectively he's saying the fact that you all are not standing with him means that it's Washington's business as usual. Does he have a point?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R) MINORITY LEADER: Well, look, I think it -- we'd all be hard pressed to explain why we were opposed to a bill we're in favor of.

BASH (voice-over): Cruz's scorched earth strategy -- tying defunding Obamacare to a must-pass spending bill -- is enflaming many fellow Republicans who think if this causes a government shutdown they're going to get burned.

We asked him the question many of them are asking.

(On camera): What's your end game here? You knew from the start you were not going to be able to defund Obamacare. Why put Congress through this?

CRUZ: Dana, actually, with respect I disagree with your premise. I believe we can and if we stand together we will defund Obamacare.

Until we defund Obamacare.

BASH (voice-over): Cruz's supporters call all this determination. His GOP detractors delusional. GOP Senator Bob Corker tweeted, "I didn't go to Harvard or Princeton," the schools Cruz graduated from, "but I can count."

Part of Cruz's problem is the Senate runs on relationships and he doesn't have many. Something he acknowledged with uncharacteristic humor.

CRUZ: This fight is not about personalities. Look, most Americans could not give a flying flip about a bunch of politicians in Washington. Who cares? You know, almost all of us are in cheap shoots with bad haircuts. Who cares?


BASH: And, Carol, before we toss to that piece I told you about, a Darth Vader moment on the Senate floor, you have an amazing team. They were able to turn it around so let's just play what happened for our viewers.


CRUZ: I will confess that phrase of rebellion against oppression conjured up to me, the rebel alliance fighting against the empire. The empire being the Washington, D.C., establishment, and indeed immediately on hearing that phrase, I wondered if at some point we were going to see a tall gentleman in a mechanical breathing apparatus come forward and say in a deep voice, "Mike, Lee, I am your father."

This is a fight. To restore freedom to the people. This is a fight to get the Washington establishment, the empire, to listen to the people. And just like in the "Star Wars" movies, the Empire will strike back. But at the end of the day I think the rebel alliance, I think the people will prevail.


COSTELLO: Wow. OK. OK. Before you go on, I just want to set the scene for people because we didn't get a wide shot. Nobody is really listening to him, right?

BASH: Yes.

COSTELLO: Except, you know, we're putting him on television and everybody out there is listening but nobody in the Senate is listening.

BASH: Exactly, and throughout the night and last -- yesterday afternoon, into the morning, he has definitely noted that many times, chiding the Senate for not being there, said last night, where are you? Are you at cocktail parties, fundraisers? You know, maybe you're out for dinner. Why aren't you here discussing this with me?

I was here late last night. I have to admit. I didn't pull the all- nighter but I was here this morning, went in there. It is a virtually empty chamber. There has to be a senator of the Democratic Party presiding and of course there are the workers who have to be here all night as well, the Senate clerks, but for the most part he has had Rand Paul, he has had Marco Rubio, he has had some of the -- in his words, "gray beards."

Just a few of the older Republicans, more veteran Republicans who have come to support him but it has been mostly the -- been the younger crowd because as I pointed out in the piece most of the people in his party even think that this is unnecessary to do.

But I should just also let people know where this is heading and -- kind of what the point is. It isn't to talk to people in the Senate. It isn't to talk to his fellow colleagues. It is to try to get the message out, that's why his hashtag is makedclisten. He's trying to talk to people out in the -- out in the -- in the country. His grassroots supporters.

What is going to happen at 12:00, no matter where is he in his speech, he is going to have to yield the floor and then at some point they're going to have the vote so that is also the important thing to keep in mind, Carol.

This is a very long speech. It is not a traditional filibuster, Jimmy Stewart style that where can he talk and talk and talk until he drops, and it will change the outcome of anything. The wheels are in motion already for the timing.

COSTELLO: All right. Dana Bash, we'll check back in with you in the next hour of NEWSROOM.

It would have been a moment that captured the world's attention but for all the talks surrounding the possibility of even a brief handshake, the presidents of the United States and Iran never did meet. However, a frosty relationship may show signs of thawing after all.

The Iranian president did offer us peace and friendship. Of course those are just words.

Our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto is in New York with more.

Good morning, Jim.


Well, where you think the U.S.-Iranian relationship was just a few weeks ago or certainly last year at previous U.N. General Assemblies we're already in a dramatically different place. But there was so much expectation about this face-to-face meeting which really would have been historic.

And Christiane Amanpour asked the president about this. He told her that he did give it serious consideration that crucially he had the backing of Tehran to go ahead. But he said that diplomacy takes time and it was not the right time for this kind of meeting so we didn't get to see it but still a lot of other positive signs in this relationship going forward.


SCIUTTO (voice-over): The historic handshake didn't materialize. President Obama was ready, say White House officials, but President Rouhani was not. Still from the safer distance of the podium, both leaders called for a new era of cooperation between the U.S. and Iran, even using nearly the exact same phrase to describe a new basis for relations.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I do believe that if we can resolve the issue of Iran's nuclear program, that can serve as a major step down a long road towards a different relationship. One based on mutual interests and mutual respect.

SCIUTTO: "Iran seeks constructive engagement with other countries," said the Iranian president, "based on mutual respect and common interest."

President Rouhani also spoke exclusively with CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

PRES. HASSAN ROUHANI, IRAN: I would like to say to American people, I bring peace and friendship from Iranians to Americans.

SCIUTTO: In an ambitious move --

OBAMA: I am directing John Kerry --

SCIUTTO: -- Obama publicly directed Secretary of State John Kerry, seated in the audience, not far from his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Zarif, to immediately pursue a nuclear agreement with Iran. Though he cautioned the U.S. must know Iran is serious.

OBAMA: To succeed, conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable.

SCIUTTO: What might the U.S. need to see in any potential deal? The disclosure of all of Iran's nuclear sites. A reduction in the number of centrifuges. And a cap on uranium enrichment levels at no more than 5 percent. Well below the 90 percent threshold to make a nuclear weapons.

Many Iran observers are skeptical that's possible.

COLIN KAHL, FORMER ASSISTANT DEFENSE SECRETARY: I don't think we should trust Rouhani. I think we should test Rouhani, and I think that's where the Obama administration is, too.


SCIUTTO: It may be domestic Iranian politics that stood in the way of this meeting. The Iranian president faces stiff opposition to his outreach from Iranian hardliners and he may have decided just too heavy a lift for now. But there is a very important meeting later this week and tomorrow between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Zarif.

That's going to be as part of a P5 Plus 1 talks on Iran's nuclear program. It's the permanent five members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany. That's a very important meeting. The last time a U.S. secretary of state met an Iranian foreign minister was in 2007. And what's key about that meeting they're going to be discussing Iran's nuclear program. That's truly the issue of disagreement here.

So we're going to know, Carol, if this (speaking in foreign language), this new outreach is for real, based on if there are any hard accomplishments coming out of that discussion.

COSTELLO: We'll be watching. Jim Sciutto, many thanks.

And by the way, Christiane Amanpour will join us in a half hour to talk about the Iranian president if he's really serious about making peace with the United States. Her sit-down interview, 9:30 Eastern on CNN.

Checking our top stories at 12 minutes past the hour.

We're learning more about the terrorist attack on a mall in Nairobi. A Kenyan official says the al-Shabaab fighters never wanted to negotiate, they only wanted to kill. Kenyan authorities are now questioning a British man they arrested as he tried to board a flight. Suspicions were raised because of injuries to his face and the way he was acting.

A sweeping report from some of the top climate scientists in the world is expected to blame humans. It will be released Friday in Stockholm and it says there's a 95 percent certainty that man-made global warming is real. And there hasn't been a leveling off in global warming since 1998 because much of the heat appears to be sinking into the oceans.

Federal workers may have to hand over their government BlackBerrys and iPhones if a shutdown happens next week, under a 19th century law. Furloughed federal workers are banned from doing anything work related during a government shutdown. Under 21st century practice that could be something as simple as checking work e-mail. Various federal agencies will now decide how to follow the law if needed.

Every year more than 200 people die after being backed over by cars, and almost half of them are children. Now after years of delays the federal government will finally add rearview cameras to a list of recommended safety measures for new cars. The decision came just before two parents are expected to file a lawsuit today against the government after they accidentally backed over their children.

Alison Kosik is in New York to tell us more about this.

Good morning, Alison.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. Just to be clear what we're talking about here is that backup camera, that if you've got a new car, it's right there in the dash or it's in the rearview mirror of some of the older cars. It basically helps you see your blind spot when you're backing up.

So latest is that the National Highway Traffic Administration is going ahead and add rearview video cameras to its list that it's had of recommended features that new cars should have, but here's the issue some are having with this.

Others say that the problem here is that -- this is just a recommendation, it doesn't have teeth. It also comes years late. These are -- these people are saying that NHTSA actually dragged its feet. So these safety groups say the recommendation is just not enough especially if you look at how much time had passed.

Congress set a deadline in 2011 for the Department of Transportation to issue new higher safety standards on rear visibility because of all the accidents involving kids but what happened over time is that the DOT kept pushing this deadline several times, blaming the complexity of the issue, also the large volume of public comment because there is red tape when trying to push something like this through before the rules are in place.

There's got to be a public comment period. It takes time. But you look at the statistic, it's terrible. Forty-four percent of backup accidents involve kids and what's even worse is many times the driver is the child's parent but ultimately this is just a recommendation -- Carol?

COSTELLO: All right. Alison Kosik reporting live for us this morning.

After hearing it all summer long, you may finally got Robin Thicke song "Blurred Lines" out of your head. Well, get ready to have it go back into your head, thanks to an Atlanta Braves fan.

Comedian Aaron Chewning gives props to the playoff-bound Braves in video called "Baselines."


COSTELLO: It's been a long time for the Braves. Joining in the video, Homer, the Braves mascot, the Tomahawk team, Heavy Hitters, rapper Austin Miles and even cameo with former Braves catcher, Javy Lopez. There you have it.

Still to come on NEWSROOM: We've heard a lot of spin from both sides of the aisle, and the pros and cons of Obamacare. But what about the real costs, what will it cost you? We have some numbers for you, next.


COSTELLO: Ted Cruz's marathon, anti-Obamacare speech now in its 19th -- yes, I said, 19th hour. But it's not just policy that's on the senator's mind, as he weighs on everything from green eggs and ham to white castle. He even gives a shout-out to Ashton Kutcher in the process.

Here is a look at some of Cruz's quirkier moments.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I will credit my father he invented -- this wasn't for the restaurant but he did it anyway. He invented green eggs and ham.

Sometime ago, I tweeted a speech that Ashton Kutcher gave. Now, number one, just as a consumer, I'm a big fan of eating white castle burgers.

I don't believe there's been a day on this Senate floor that I haven't worn any argument boots, but I took the coward's way out. So, I went out and purchased some black tennis shoes, so I am not in my argument boots.

I want to take the opportunity to read two bedtime stories to my girls. I do so like green eggs and ham. Thank you, thank you, Sam I am.

So I want to point out just a few words of wisdom from "Duck Dynasty." You put five rednecks on a mower, it's going to be epic.

Redneck rule number one, most things can be fixed with duct tape and extension cords. Happy, happy, happy.

SEN. MIKE LEE (R), UTAH: Can you tell me, Senator Cruz, where do Chinese gooseberries come from?

CRUZ: Chinese gooseberries actually from New Zealand.

LEE: Can you tell me what part of the world the Panama hat comes from?

CRUZ: Ecuador.

LEE: A camel's hair brush, do you know what it's made of?

CRUZ: Squirrel fur.

Happy, happy, happy.


COSTELLO: Happy, happy, happy.

While we continue to watch the theater unfold on Capitol Hill, there is new information on just how much Obamacare is going to cost you and it's less than expected. The Obama administration unveiling the monthly average for a mid tier plan when those health care exchanges open less than a week from today.

And in an appearance at the Clinton Global Initiative, President Obama spoke to its Democratic predecessor about the cost benefits.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: I think it's important for you to tell the people why we're doing all this outreach.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When people look and see that they can get high quality affordable health care for less than their cell phone bill, they're going to sign up.


COSTELLO: Less than their cell phone bill, really?

CNN business anchor and most of "YOUR MONEY", Christine Romans, joins us now. She has a breakdown of all the numbers.

Tell us.


And, you know, if you are uninsured in this country, the president is right. There will be a majority of the uninsured will be able to go on the state exchanges and purchase a low level, the entry level insurance program for $100 or less. So, that is what the president is talking about there.

Let me run down these numbers for you. These are numbers that have been crunched by HHS, the Department of Health and Human Services just six days before enrollment of the online exchanges, right?

The state exchanges are meant for people who are not getting health insurance through their work or they are currently uninsured.

So, here's the average price: $328 a month. That's what the White House says is the average premium cost, and that is before you're talking about all of these subsidies, depending on how much. There's going to be wide variation, Carol, very wide variation. I want to be clear about that, but depending how many people in your family, how much money you make and where you live in the country.

So let me give you an example here. Let's say you are single. You are 27 years old and you live in Texas. This is an example that Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of HHS their office gave, right?

You live in Texas and you make $25,000 a year. You'll be able to pay for $83 a month for a bronze plan, bronze, silver. That's the entry level plan. If you want to up your coverage, you can get the silver plan for $145 a month. We'll take another example, family of four also in Texas, income $50,000 a year, $57 a month for the bronze plan, $282 for the silver plan.

Why those number at that level? Because depending how much money you make and how many people in your family, you're going to get subsidies and tax credits from the government for enrolling. They're going to help you pay the bill here.

So people who don't make as much money as other people are going to pay less. You will be fined if you do not have insurance, you will be fined those fines start at $95 and they get bigger every year. We expect in the first year there will be some people who should go and get insurance, they will not, they will get a fine. Next year, it will be a bigger fine, the idea to push people into the exchanges so that you have everyone covered with health insurance.

Now, critics, of course, Carol, this morning, are saying this is a narrow slice. This is the slice that means people currently uninsured, the people who do not get health insurance through their company, that there could be a wide variation of increases for people who already have coverage do their jobs. These are a lot of different ways to slice these numbers, just telling you, these are the numbers the White House and HHS finally delivered.

We will know for sure, you will you know for sure if you are shopping for health insurance, you're going to know for sure in six days, October 1st, when those -- that enrollment begins, Carol.

COSTELLO: Well, hopefully, most people will know where to go to sign up for these health care exchanges, because I think a lot of people are confused about that. And, secondly, when you say the average is $328 per month, what's the average now? What do I compare that to?

ROMANS: Those people are not insured, those people do not have health insurance. So you're comparing it to absolutely uninsured and you don't have coverage through your work and you're out of the system.

The whole point of health care reform, remember, is to get all these uninsured people coverage, to get coverage for people, to move these millions of people.

COSTELLO: No, I understand that, if you wanted to buy insurance you could even -- I mean, if you have enough money, you could buy an insurance plan if you wanted, right?

ROMANS: I think the point is these people who are uninsured don't have enough money. They don't have the money or they're not going to spend the money to buy insurance. And I think it depends, it depends on where you live. It depends on what insurance company it is.

Look, the insurance companies are getting in with the states and they've got to have these exchanges so that you can go on there and you can have these different options.

I mean, really, I want to be clear it's very different. We're completely remaking how we deliver health insurance coverage in this country. It's going to be very different for people and they're going to start seeing right now. Look, if you're a small business owner, you already know that by law you have to let your employees know what their options are.

If they're not getting insurance through you, you have to let them know clearly you have to very clearly let them know how they can go on the state exchanges so small business owners are also in this trying to figure out how to make sure that their uninsured employees are directed to the right place. You're going to be hearing an awful lot more from HHS on this, Carol, in the next few days, because October 1st is the date this all begins.

COSTELLO: I hope so. Christine Romans, thanks so much.

Still to come in CNN NEWSROOM: HLN host, Dr. Drew, with a stunning announcement as he tossed to a break during his show last night.


DR. DREW PINSKY, HLN HOST: I'm going to talk personally about something that has afflicted me for the last couple of years. You may be surprised to find out I have cancer.


COSTELLO: How he says he treated the disease and his advice for every man out there.


COSTELLO: HLN host Dr. Drew Pinsky revealed on his show last night that he's been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Actually, he was diagnosed two years ago. He said the cancer was removed during his surgery in July.


PINSKY: I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, like millions of men, about two years ago. I had my prostate removed in July and my executive producer just ran in here and said, can't you say you don't have cancer anymore? Indeed, I'm a cancer patient because of some very, very thoughtful work of my medical team. I am probably cancer- free and probably look for a normal life expectancy without cancer.

It's very common for men, it's highly treatable. And then, if a man lives long enough, the odds are he's going to get this cancer.