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Obama Promises Health Care "Fix"; Philippine Government Standing by Actions; Historic China Policy Changes; Will Mayor Be Stripped Of Power?; Some States Push Back On "Fix"

Aired November 15, 2013 - 08:00   ET


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: The Toronto city council plans to vote this morning on whether to strip Mayor Rob Ford of most of his duties. But will the embattled mayor take the hint? We'll talk live to the councilman who put forth the motion for Ford to step down.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Your "NEW DAY" continues right now.


ANNOUNCER: This is "NEW DAY" with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira.

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome back to "NEW DAY". It's Friday, November 15th, 8:00 in the East.

Is it Obamacare that has the problem or Obama himself? Headlines scream and catch an echo from all corners that the president is facing real questions about his credibility and his legacy.

Meanwhile, as we're fixing the potential issues with Obamacare, people who might lose their policies, the House is expected to vote this afternoon on a bill that Republicans say fixes the problem. The Democrats say it guts a major part of the health law. Insurance CEOs headed to Washington to make their case directly to the president.

Let's bring in Jim Acosta, live at the White House.

Good morning, Jim.


White House official says those CEOs from the insurance industry will be at the White House later on this afternoon to try to minimize those disruptions to consumers as a result of this big fix that the president rolled out yesterday. Meanwhile, as you mentioned Republicans over in the House are expected to pass what they consider to be their own fix to Obamacare.

But late last night, the White House issued a presidential veto threat, calling that bill what it considers to be an act of sabotage. That is a sign that this president would like to get back on offense.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ACOSTA (voice-over): President Obama's new message is that he likes his health care plan for the nation and he's going to fight to keep it.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's no question the rollout on the Affordable Care Act was much tougher than we expected. But I want everybody here to understand, I am going to see this through.

ACOSTA: The new Obamacare fix leaves it up to insurance companies and states to decide whether to let consumers keep plans not in compliance with the law and it forces carriers to advise Americans of the choices available under Obamacare.

But the insurance industry worries the changes undermine the system. One industry source called the White House fix a total mess. The Washington state insurance commissioner balked altogether saying, "We are staying the course. We will not be allowing insurance companies to extend their policies."

OBAMA: That's on me. I mean, we fumbled the rollout on this health care plan.

ACOSTA: Over at the White House, it was unusually contrite president acknowledging he had let the country down.

OBAMA: I'm not a perfect man and I will not be a perfect president.

ACOSTA: And admitting to other fumbles, as in the fact that nobody told him the Obamacare website was not working when it launched.

OBAMA: Had I been informed, I wouldn't be going out saying, "Boy, this is going to be great."

ACOSTA: But he said it's getting better.

OBAMA: The website will work much better on November 30th, December 1st than it worked certainly on October 1st. That's a pretty low bar.

ACOSTA: Republicans are vowing to move forward with their own fix for Obamacare until it can be repealed.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: This bill will hopefully begin to ease some of the pain that working families are feeling because of President Obama's health care law.

ACOSTA: While White House officials got an earful from nervous Democrats keeping an eye on next year's elections with their own proposals --

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D), LOUISIANA: We still may have to fashion some legislation and we're going to continue to work in that regard.

ACOSTA: The president said any other fixes to the law have to meet one test.

OBAMA: We are not going to gut this law.


ACOSTA: White House official says that the president remains open to legislative fixes to Obamacare, but they're not specifying over here at the White House which fixes that they're open to coming out of Congress at this point. They're only saying they don't like the one that the Republicans will be voting on later today.

But the bottom line, Kate and Chris, is that because this is all being left up to insurers at this point to allow consumers to keep their plans that they previously had, it is very, very likely and you can probably take it to the bank that not everybody is going to be able to hang onto their insurance plans they used to have -- Kate and Chris.

BOLDUAN: It will be interesting to see what comes out if we learn anything out of the company and its CEOs today.

Jim, thank you so much for that.

Let's talk more about this, though, with CNN's chief political correspondent, host of CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION", Candy Crowley.

Good morning, Candy.


BOLDUAN: So, I mean, you've seen the headlines. We've been talking about them this morning, "New York Post", "Disaster"; "USA Today," "Health law shakes the presidency". And even if you go beyond the headlines, some pretty scathing assessments of what's going on right now in Washington.

This was supposed to be a fix coming from the president. Is it?

CROWLEY: We'll see and we'll see if it's a blip or not. I think more troublesome for the president and for the next three years for him is the credibility problem that he's suffering. Because whenever there's been a problem with the president, be it a tussle with Republicans that he was losing or something that came up, what sustained him was people's faith in him, was people's belief that he was an honest broker, that he was trying to do right.

Then along comes the NSA scandal, turns out we're spying on our own allies. We're collecting phone data from everybody in the United States. Along comes Syria, where he said, yes, it looked as though we were ready to go, you know, bomb something and then pull back, you know, is the red line really the red line?

And now this, the -- you can keep your insurance, which clearly isn't true. It has really taken a big bite out of the credibility.

And if people no longer trust in your competence to run things and in your credibility to tell them what's going on honestly, you don't have any running room at all, and there are big battles ahead when it comes to the budget and debt ceiling, and that, I think, is sort of the 50,000-foot view where this fits in, it just -- it continues to undermine what has been the president's strength and what has kept him going.

CUOMO: But it's such an important issue, because there's such a need for health care and for change in the country as you well know, Candy. How much do you consider the source of the criticism?

I have been trying, it is not easy to find an economist who examined the law who's worried about the 5 percent, that it was priced in, that they knew it would happen, that letting people getting their policies back probably isn't smart in terms of the plan at all.

So then, it comes to are we distracted into the media into this political play by opponents of President Obama and making this more than it is?

CROWLEY: But see, all of it rolls into what does this system need? It needs people to sign up. When will people sign up? And how will people sign up? They have to believe that it's going to work. They have to believe that if they go to the site, it will work, and that when they find something, it will be pretty good for them.

All of this undermines the confidence that they have that this is either a good plan or that it will work in the long run. And if you don't have people signing up and we talked about it a lot, especially the healthy people, that's a huge problem. People have to be vested in this system in order for it to work, $95 fines a year are not going to do it. They have to believe it will work, that the government can pull this off.

So every time there's another glitch, is it a distraction? You can call it a distraction but it adds onto it and also the website doesn't work and this may go wrong and people are already saying listen, next year, you're going to find out that all these companies who provide health insurance are going to say to their employees we'd kind of rather pay the $2,000 per employee, go find something in the exchange. So it's not over and everything adds to do we have confidence in this?

BOLDUAN: It's all part of it.

Candy, great to see you. Thank you so much.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Kate. Thanks, Chris.

BOLDUAN: Definitely one of the topics on Candy's show this weekend. You can catch Candy, CNN's STATE OF THE UNION WITH CANDY CROWLEY airing Sundays, 9:00 a.m. and noon Eastern.

Have a great weekend, even though it is short for you, Candy. Thank you so much.

CUOMO: The blame game happening in Washington. Also happening in the Philippines after that mega typhoon. The Philippine government is defending its efforts against accusations that people aren't getting desperately needed help, at least not quickly enough.

Ivan Watson joins us this morning from Tacloban province with more.

What's the status now, Ivan?


More than 3,600 people dead according to the latest official death toll, which jumped about 1,000 since yesterday. There are more government crews clearing the streets here, but I also still saw bodies laying in the streets, awaiting collection, and that's a week after this killer typhoon struck.


WATSON (voice-over): The Philippine government is on the defensive this morning over its response to last week's devastating typhoon.

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Is the situation under control?

MAR ROXAS, INTERIOR SECRETARY: Yes, I would say that it is.

STEVENS: The relief efforts are now working as effectively and efficiently as they could be?

ROXAS: You know, Andrew, nothing is fast enough in a situation like this.

WATSON: Now seven days after the typhoon made landfall, a growing wave of relief. Given the scale of this disaster, many challenges remain to get much needed supplies to remote areas hardest hit.

CHRIS CLARKE, CEO OF WORLD VISION NEW ZEALAND: Our great fear is that we have a number of different Taclobans around and we will discover in the next few days.

WATSON: Many streets are still impassable, littered with debris. Security remains a concern, power outages and lack of communication, all barriers to incoming aid.

(on camera): Any phones?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No communication whatever, whatsoever outside.

WATSON (voice-over): The apocalyptic destruction is forcing Filipinos to rely on any method of communication, some sending out handwritten notes to loved ones on flights leaving the island.

(on camera): It's one sentence, like a telegram.

"Pedro Valdez and Hermenio Badeo (ph) are OK and alive."

(voice-over): People are taking charge of things they can control. The rest remains uncertain. Some like Adel Siguan braving a 22-hour- long journey by boat to search for her 8-year-old son --

ADEL SIGUAN, SEARCHING FOR 8-YEAR-OLD SON: I bring water for my son. WATSON: -- who she hasn't been able to talk to since the storm hit.

(on camera): Not know being your son, how has it felt for you?

SIGUAN: Of course, I can't sleep. I can't eat. I can't eat. I can't drink. I don't know what to do because I'm eager to know what's happening to him.

WATSON (voice-over): Suddenly she sees him. A heartwarming reunion after what can only be described as an excruciating week.

SIGUAN: I'm so happy that my son is OK.


WATSON: Now, I've been struck. I've met people here sitting next to the ruins of their houses who are still able to laugh and joke with me, a complete stranger and foreigner here. I met a 16-year-old who, for his birthday he didn't have cake; he had a bit of rice and still he was laughing. He said laughter is the best medicine, and perhaps this could be the greatest resource these people have amid all this adversity and death and despair, their remarkable sense of humor -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: All right, thank you so much for that, really compelling to see that reunion. We appreciate it, thanks so much.

We want to look at our other headlines right now.

And we begin with breaking news out of Beijing, historic reforms in China this morning, the communist party easing its family planning policies. Couples can now have two children if one of the parents is an only child. Previously, both parents had to be an only child in order to have a second baby. And after decades, China abolishing its controversial labor camp system, what it called reeducation through labor.

The CIA keeping an eye on international money transfers in an effort to nab people funding terror groups. Officials familiar with the program say the agency is collecting bulk records under the Patriot Act. The vast majority of transactions are said to be outside of American soil. The CIA's effort are apparently intended to catch terror funding transactions that may elude tracking programs at the Treasury Department and National Security Agency.

Later today, prosecutors will announce whether they plan to file criminal charges against the suburban Detroit homeowner who shot and killed 19-year-old Renisha McBride. Police believe McBride got into a car accident in an early morning hours in November 2nd and approached a home in Dearborn Heights looking for help, when she was gunned down.

Toxicology reports reveal McBride had alcohol and marijuana in her system the night she died and attorney for the family claims that should have no bearing on the case.

A good day turned into a rough day for Alec Baldwin. First, the Canadian actress was convicted despite the claims had a romantic relationship. But later in the day, Baldwin was caught on video making threats and comments to photographers. He apparently appears to use an anti-gay remark. Baldwin took to Twitter to deny using offensive language.

A Florida grandfather is looking for justice after finding his two vans vandalized. Laksar Barat (ph) walked Thursday morning to find the words "no kids" spray painted on both of his vehicles. He believes he was targeted because of visits from his 4-year-old granddaughter. Barat lives in a 55-year-plus community. They have restrictions on children. Neighbors apparently complained about the little girl sleeping over. Police are now investigating.

Where were we on the count of humanity?

BOLDUAN: Knock it down one.

PEREIRA: We're knocking down one. Strike one.


PEREIRA: Spray painting? Could you pen up a letter and send it to him, or have a reasonable discussion?

BOLDUAN: Or maybe be OK when grandchildren visit?

PEREIRA: Exactly. Vandalized a car?

BOLDUAN: All right. What is your weekend looking like?


BOLDUAN: There you go.

Let's check in with Indra and see what your weather is looking like.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good, right? That's what I'm told to say. But it's actually is. We're seeing temperatures warming up, current temperatures warmer than they have in the last several days in these early morning hours. New York currently 46, looks Philly also currently seeing those 40s. All of this again, thanks to that moisture and warm air coming out of the gulf.

So look at temperatures through the weekend, they are climbing to even above normal for the weekend. So, Boston, New York City and even down in the south near Atlanta we're going to be talking about above normal temperatures straight through Sunday.

Of course, there's little caveat, we do have some chances for some light showers for the first half of the weekend and heavier rain for the second half. You can actually see all that moisture filling in.

Let's look at what's going on. There's a storm right now that's producing heavy snow in the Pacific Northwest. That system will make its way across the country. It's snow for them, getting the winds out of Canada and makes its way to the middle of the country by Saturday and we see the source coming out of the Gulf. So we're getting that moisture and the rain chances on Saturday into the Midwest.

But Saturday night in through Sunday, that's where things change here, because now you're talking about the threat for severe weather. So, definitely some heavier storms are going to be out there, and even the threat for an isolated tornado. So, definitely something we'll be watching here.

Look for the exact same system again that's going to be bringing the severe weather threat from the Ohio Valley in through the Mississippi area, that's going to make its way into the Northeast Sunday night in through Monday. So that's what we're looking at, no severe weather threat but heavy rain and some strong winds on Monday. So that's what we're going to be looking at. No severe weather threat for us yet, but we are going to be looking at heavy rain and some strong winds rain on Monday.

BOLDUAN: All right. Thanks, Indra.


CUOMO: Coming up on "NEW DAY", Toronto mayor, Rob Ford, was spouting profanity and then apologizing, more proof to many that he has problems and needs help. Now, not even his brother wants him in office. We're going to talk to the city councilman who brought the motion to have him removed.

BOLDUAN: And conspiracy still circulating 50 years after the assassination of President Kennedy. An author and former reporter who studied the theories for years is joining us to shed some new light on all of it.


CUOMO: Welcome back to "NEW DAY". Could it be the end of the line for Toronto mayor, Rob Ford? The city council is expected to meet today to map out a plan that would almost take away most of his power. Joining us now is city counselor, Denzil Minnan-Wong. He brought the motion to have Ford removed.

He and Ford also engaged in a showdown during a contentious meeting on Wednesday. We are seeing that in a video when we were doing it. Thank you very much. I appreciate you joining us, Mr. Councilman.


CUOMO: So you seem to have a perfect storm going on. You have someone who apparently has problems who's in deep denial, and you have a situation where he is an elected official, and they are very difficult to remove. What do you do?

MINNAN-WONG: Well, we're taking some measures to strip him of as many powers as we can at the city. The province which controls the city really has the power to make any changes to actually have him removed. We're taking away everything, but his statutory powers, his powers on committees, his power to influence the executive committee and what council will be considering over the next couple of days will be taking away his office budget and taking away his staff.

CUOMO: So, what do you think you're dealing with here in Rob Ford? Do you think he's dealing with someone who's just prone to excess and stubborn or do you think you have somebody here with legitimate addiction issues?

MINNAN-WONG: Oh, I think we have a mayor who is out of control and spiraling free-fall. He's in free-fall. We have a mayor who has a substance abuse problem, who smoked crack cocaine. It seems he has an alcohol problem. He's now admitted to drinking and then getting behind the wheel. Court documents have just been released that painted even more damaging story where we're looking at cocaine and him using cocaine and prostitution and hookers.

So these are allegations for sure, but it is a salacious story. It's a disturbing story of our mayor. And then yesterday, in front of the mayor's office, he used some very vulgar language that was beyond what any of us could expect. It suggests to me that the mayor needs to resign for his good and for the good of the city of Toronto, he needs to put the city of Toronto first, and he needs to get help.

CUOMO: You use the word allegations --


CUOMO: Go ahead. If he doesn't resign, what?


CUOMO: If he doesn't resign, what?

MINNAN-WONG: If he doesn't resign, preference would be for the provincial government, the province of Ontario, the premier to step in, and initiate legislation to have him removed.

CUOMO: You know, your system is different up in Canada than ours. There may be a path to that, may be more difficult in the U.S., but there's another avenue here that's been somewhat neglected. You use the word allegations and that's a suggestion without proof, but the police have a lot of proof.

Have you spoken with them? Where are they on making a case, because often, in situations where someone's dealing with addiction, they need the prosecution in order to force their hand? Where are you on that?

MINNAN-WONG: Well, there are -- a lot of this information comes from court documents, some of them are protected, some of them are redacted. Hundreds of pages of information have been revealed. This includes surveillance videos showing the mayor involved in dead drops, picking up suspicious packages involved with individuals, individuals with criminal records.

We also have the famous video, the chief of police has confirmed that the video exists and it's consistent with what everyone believed and in the picture, he is in the picture with three individuals who are gang members with the Dixon City bloods, one of the worst and odious gangs in the city of Toronto, involved in drugs, and the smuggling of illegal weapons into the city of Toronto.

And to answer your question, as a city councilor, we do not get involved in the police investigations. That's inappropriate. We let the police handle this, and there are various charges before the court, but the mayor has not been charged at this time.

CUOMO: Right. It's just interesting that when you have admissions of smoking crack and buying drugs that there hasn't been an arrest. Down here, it'd be enough. It would then force the hand for the next step of the mayor. Obviously, everybody wants to see him get help. He's very popular, but it's also very popular that he gets help. So, we're all looking at this with an eye towards resolution. Thank you for joining us, Mr. Councilor.

MINNAN-WONG: My pleasure.

CUOMO: Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Chris.

Coming up next on "NEW DAY", the backlash to the Obamacare fix has already started, two states rejecting the president's proposal. Is that just the beginning?

Also ahead, why do conspiracy theories linger for so long? The best- selling author of a new book on the assassination of President Kennedy sheds new light on the fascination coming up.


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to "NEW DAY". Time now for the five things you need to know for your NEW DAY.


PEREIRA (voice-over): At number one, the House voting today on the keep your Health Plan Act. Democrats unlikely to back the GOP bill now that the president has offered relief to those who've been dropped by their insurance carriers.

The Chinese government making historic changes. It's relaxing its one child only policy and ending its re-education through labor system.

The death toll from typhoon Haiyan has now climbed to over 3,600 in the Philippines. Officials there defending their efforts getting help to the people despite issues of getting aid to people in remote areas.

A hearing in the murder trial of the Montana newlywed accused of pushing her new husband off a cliff. Well, new evidence suggesting that she blindfolded Cody Johnson before he fell be allowed (ph).

And investigation is expected -- an investigator, rather, is expected to meet with Miami Dolphins' lineman, Jonathan Martin, today in New York. Alleged bullying by teammate, Richie Incognito caused Martin to leave the team last month.


PEREIRA (on-camera): We always update those five things to know, so be sure to go to for the very latest -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right. More now on President Obama's new fix for dropped coverage under Obamacare. The president is saying some may be able to keep their individual insurance plans for at least another year. But two states so far, Arkansas and Washington State, are saying they'll reject the president's proposal. Remember, it's up to the individual states whether or not they go with the plan.

Jim Donelon is the insurance commissioner of Louisiana. He's also the president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Commissioner, thank you for joining us.

Glad to be with you, Chris.

CUOMO: I see that Saints helmet behind you and it will not affect this interview I want you to know that even though I'm a Jets fan. Let me ask you this, commissioner. Will you go along with the president's fix? Why? Why not?

JIM DONELON, LOUISIANA INSURANCE COMMISSIONER: Well, we share the president's concern for those policy holders who are happy and content with the coverage they had in place, even if the overall Affordable Care Act considered that coverage to be inadequate, and companies in my state have voluntarily been extending the opportunity to their policy holders to renew early so as to give them the benefit of the whole next year in a plan that would not, otherwise, meet the standards.

The problem is you can't change the rules at the last minute when the game's about to start.