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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Colin Powell Voting for Hillary Clinton; Health Care Debate. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired October 25, 2016 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[16:00:01]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Breaking this afternoon in our politics lead, Donald Trump is in Sanford, Florida, right now launching a sustained attack on President Obama's signature health care law.

Jim Acosta is there.

Jim, assailing Obamacare, not new grist entirely for Trump, but normally he doesn't focus as much on the health care law as he has been doing today.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake.

Donald Trump is seizing on this latest report on Obamacare that premiums are going to be going up 22 percent next year for consumers as sort of a late season -- late campaign season gift. Earlier in his remarks just a few moments ago, Trump said that these reports that the premiums going up 22 percent are just the beginning.

They will be going up, he said, 60, 70, 80, 90 percent. He went on to say that consumers are going to have to become good negotiators themselves in order to figure out how to pay for their health insurance.

But, Jake, as you know, back in 2009, 2010, as President Obama was pursuing health care reform, Republicans latched onto the unpopularity of the issue and rode a wave into Congress and took control of the Congress in the House of Representatives. And that was a very, very big moment for Republicans.

So I think the Trump campaign, sensing what has happened before perhaps could happen again, are really latching onto this today. As you know, Jake, earlier today Trump was at his resort, his golf resort in Doral, Florida, was talking about how Obamacare affected his employees.

One slight wrinkle, though, in all that, Trump later said that none of his employees at Doral use Obamacare to get health insurance. They get their health insurance at the hotel, from Donald Trump themselves. So a slight, at least for a certain bit of time, misunderstanding of how Obamacare works and whether or not his employees even use the program.

But he is still talking about it right now. Jake, he is saying that Hillary Clinton will double down on Obamacare if she becomes president. And as we speak, he is railing against President Obama's promise in the past when he said that if you sign up for the Affordable Care Act you will be able to keep your doctor. That ended up not being true.

This is one of those, at least in the minds of the Trump campaign,, late campaign season gifts that they're trying to exploit at a critical time -- Jake.

TAPPER: Jim, last night, Trump launched an attack on -- quote -- "people who control political power," who he says rig everything from FBI investigations to polling to the media, to the economy, to drugs pouring across the border, to congressional loopholes and on and on.

ACOSTA: Yes, Jake. He is painting a very dark picture of what's occurring in this election. He was asked by our Jeremy Diamond earlier today, do you think the election is being stolen from you? He didn't exactly answer that question. He sort of dodged it.

But last night, he was going off on the news media. Just now, he described the reporters covering his campaign as lowlifes. That gets the crowd whipped into a frenzy and they start coming after us, obviously. But we're not the story. Donald Trump is the story.

But, yes, you're right. Just about every day, there is a new force that Donald Trump rails against as being part of some conspiracy he talks about trying to stop him from winning the White House. But at this point, Trump is just trying to avoid any damage made by his own mistakes, and he's had several in the last few days.

He has had to defend against these accusations of sexual assault and so on. He claims those aren't mistakes, but those are certainly things that are dogging his campaign.

Just a few moments ago, Donald Trump essentially blamed all of us here in the news media for all of these stories that are really causing a lot of problems for his campaign these days, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Jim Acosta in Sanford, Florida, with Donald Trump.

So why is Donald Trump finally making this very aggressive case against Obamacare the centerpiece of his stump speech? Well, as Jim explained, today, the Obama White House admitted that the Affordable Care Act is about to cost millions of Americans a whole lot more money.

Premiums could shoot up an average of 25 percent. The Obama administration says that most of those impacted will be able to receive tax credits and subsidies to defray some of these costs. The premium hike is the latest blow, of course, to the president's signature legislation, with two major and many smaller health insurance companies leaving the Obamacare health insurance exchanges earlier this year, drastically shrinking choice for consumers. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Obamacare is just blowing up.

TAPPER (voice-over): In an already volatile presidential race, the latest October surprise will hit millions of Americans in their pocketbooks and wallets.

Insurance premiums on Obamacare exchanges will rise an average of 25 percent on the federal exchange next year, a steep jump from years past.

[16:05:03]

For Republicans, it's confirmation of their opposition to the health care law. So how did this happen? After President Obama's health care plan went into effect six years ago, insurance companies found that new enrollees were sicker and, therefore, pricier than expected, which forced some insurers to raise premiums, or to pull out of the state-based insurance exchanges because they said they could no longer afford it.

The average premium hike for 2017 will be 25 percent. For some states, it will be less, for others, such as Arizona, much more. Consumers in Arizona will pay an astonishing 116 percent more on average.

And those who don't have insurance next year could face tax penalties of $700 per person. Donald Trump today seized on the news of the skyrocketing employees in an appearance with employees of his Florida resort.

TRUMP: Obamacare has to be repealed and replaced, and it has to be replaced with something much less expensive for the people.

TAPPER: And he raised questions about his employees' coverage.

TRUMP: I can say all of my employees are having a tremendous problem with Obamacare.

TAPPER: The Trump resort's manager later clarified that 99 percent of the Trump employees are insured through the hotel, employer-based insurance, thus not impacted by these hikes.

In fact, the Department of Health and Human Services says that the premiums for employer-based insurees have not gone up as much as they otherwise would have because of all the new people enrolled on Obamacare exchanges.

The White House today argued that while the 10.5 million Americans on Obamacare will be impacted by the rate hike, 85 percent of them will be eligible for some form of tax credit. But that still means millions of Americans are seeing their premiums go up significantly, as noted a few weeks ago by none other than former President Bill Clinton. BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have got

this crazy system where all of a sudden 25 million more people have health care, and then the people who are out there busting it sometimes 60 hours a week end up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half. It's the craziest thing in the world.

TAPPER: Trying to balance her support for a popular President Obama with the unpopular jump in Obamacare premiums, Hillary Clinton has said she would defend, but fix Obamacare. But this October surprise is one that voters understand and one that Trump is seizing on, as are other Republicans, such as New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte.

NARRATOR: Maggie Hassan supports the health care law that is hurting New Hampshire families.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our costs have gone up over 47 percent.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Former Secretary of State Colin Powell was caught dissing Hillary Clinton in hacked e-mails earlier this year, saying in one exchange -- quote -- "Everything Hillary Clinton touches, she kind of screws up," and in another, "I would rather not vote for her."

But today Colin Powell told a group in Long Island he intends to do exactly that and vote for her.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny is with the Clinton campaign in Coconut Creek, Florida.

Jeff, Powell, as we know, dismissed Trump as much, much worse than Clinton. He called him a know-nothing, an international pariah in those hacked e-mails. Is it a surprise at all to the Clinton campaign that Powell is endorsing her?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Jake, it's really not a surprise that he said he would support her and vote for her

It's unclear from the Clinton campaign, I'm told, if he intends to work for her or make public his plan to support her. I'm told the Clinton campaign did not know this was coming. The secretary was informed about it after she left this rally here by aides just a short time ago.

So, she has not -- yet to release a statement. But, look, this is no surprise at all, given the words that you have just relayed that the secretary said about Donald Trump. Of course, he's had words for both sides.

And, of course, Republicans will say, look, he endorsed Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Is he a Republican anymore? And, in fact, Colin Powell has said he does not recognize his Republican Party. The question here is if he will do anything in the next 14 days to amplify this. And, Jake, we're not sure about that yet.

TAPPER: And, Jeff, in other news, Clinton's campaign again today refusing to answer questions about those stolen e-mails published by WikiLeaks. Two exchanges published today put Secretary Clinton's use of the private e-mail server back in the forefront.

ZELENY: It did indeed, Jake.

This is a fascinating exchange here. The private e-mail server was revealed by "The New York Times" in March of 2015. And take a look at these e-mails. A longtime adviser and friend sent this e-mail to John Podesta, Neera Tanden.

She said this: "Why didn't they get this stuff out like 18 months ago? So crazy." Podesta replied, "Unbelievable." Tanden then replies, speculating on Clinton's motive: "I guess I know the answer. They wanted to get away with it."

So a window there, Jake, into how many people even who were so supportive of the secretary who were going to work on her presidential campaign had no idea that this private e-mail server was at the bottom of this, so just one more exchange in thousands that the Clinton campaign is now dealing with -- Jake.

[16:10:08]

TAPPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny in Coconut Creek, Florida, with the Clinton campaign, thanks so much.

Back to our top story, Obamacare premiums set to jump about 25 percent next year allegedly because healthy young adults are not buying insurance, and the pool that is are sicker.

So, what incentive do these healthy young Americans who do not have insurance have now to sign up? We will talk to one of the architects of Obamacare next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

Let's continue now with the stunning reality setting in for many Americans paying into the Affordable Health Care Act.

I want to bring in Zeke Emanuel. He's one of the Affordable Care Act architects.

Zeke, thanks so much for joining me.

DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SPECIAL ADVISER: Nice to be here.

TAPPER: I guess the biggest question on the minds of a lot of people is, how can this be fixed, premiums going up, up to 25 percent next year and also insurance companies leaving the exchanges?

Hillary Clinton, who is favored in the polls, says she wants to fix it. How do you accomplish that? EMANUEL: So, let's clarify two things. First of all, for most

Americans the premiums are not going up 25 percent because they get subsidies. Eighty percent or so of people get subsidies in the exchanges. And they will actually be compensated for that increase. Actually, if you're a 27-year-old making $25,000, your premium is staying exactly the same. You're getting insurance for $1,700 a year, which is not a bad deal at all.

But there are some relatively simple fixes. One is better social marketing to get young people in. Another is these risk corridors for the insurance companies to keep premiums lower. Another is to exchange how much you ban -- that is how much older people pay versus younger people to decrease the cost for younger people overall.

The ultimate test, Jake, is can we keep health care costs low so premiums don't have to go up. And so far, the ACA has been doing a pretty good job of keeping insurance premiums low and we have to redouble those efforts of that. I think those three or four fixes are actually going to be enough to stabilize the exchanges and to keep costs low for all Americans, not just the ten million in the exchanges.

TAPPER: Well, first of all, when you say there are going to be subsidies and tax credits that help 80 percent, 85 percent of the people whose premiums are going to be going up --

EMANUEL: Yes.

TAPPER: -- I don't know that that fully covers all of the increase. But even if it does, that's still more than a million Americans who are going to not have help and who are going to see increases of, on average, 25 percent. That's a lot of money for the average American.

EMANUEL: Jake, totally agree with you. There's a million people for whom this is going to be severe or uncomfortable.

We should be clear, though. There are lots of places where the increases are nowhere near what you are stating. For example, 12 states have increases of 10 percent or less, including big states like California, Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey. Places like New Hampshire, where you ran an ad just a second ago, in fact, the increase is 2 percent across the state on average.

So, there is a lot of variability. Arizona is high, but big, big population states are actually much lower. Rates have increased because they have bigger pools and with bigger pools the change year to year is not so much. And I -- for the million people, we need to find other solutions.

TAPPER: Zeke, you just cherry pick some state, let me cherry-pick one of my own. Arizona.

EMANUEL: I just said that:

TAPPER: Premiums are going to jump 116 percent -- but they're going to jump 116 percent. EMANUEL: Yes. And the question is, what were they before and what

are they after? And look, I think it's a real problem there. We need to get more people in. At 116 percent increase, the subsidies are going to moderate the increase, bring it pretty close to under 10 percent. But it's not going to solve the entire problem.

The real solution to the problem is two things. Keep health care costs low by changing how we pay doctors. And the second solution is getting more people into the exchange to stabilize the risk pool. I think that's the two things we have to do.

TAPPER: I think one of the reasons why there are so many people who are upset has to do with how the program was pitched back in 2009, 2010. Here is President Obama talking about the exchanges. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you like your private health insurance plan, you can keep your plan, period.

You're going to be able to buy insurance through a pool so that you can get the same good rates as a group that, if you're an employee at a big company you can get right now, which means your premiums will go down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Your premiums will go down. There are a lot of Americans who are going to say that didn't come true. That was false.

EMANUEL: This is a complicated thing. Actually, Jake, I'd love to come back and show a graph where that can fully explain the president's comment. In fact, if you look at health insurance premiums from the Bush era and you graph the line as if it continued, the fact is that premiums have gone substantially down compared to where they would have been under President Bush if those lines would have continued and people actually have saved. That doesn't mean though premiums have actually gone in real dollars but they've gone down compared to what they would have been, and that is a substantial savings.

Second of all, many people in the exchanges are actually getting a better deal than they would have had they tried to get insurance individually. Let's remember, Jake, the period before, under President Bush and before we got rid of pre-existing conditions and other things, was not so nice.

[16:20:01] Lots of people couldn't even get insurance because they had a pre-existing condition. And now, they can in the exchanges. And for many people, that is a big advantage.

Also remember, a lot of kids up to age 26 that couldn't get insurance now have their parents' plans. Those are all big improvements for 20 million Americans. That's a huge benefit of the Affordable Care Act. TAPPER: Big improvement for many Americans, and then also some

struggles and some difficulties and unaffordable rates for other Americans.

Zeke, I'll take you up on that. Bring your chart next time and we'll let you show it. Appreciate it.

EMANUEL: All right. Take care, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Soaring Obamacare premiums playing into Trump's message today. But will it change voters' minds with just two weeks before the election? That story, next.

Plus, what is Russia allegedly trying to accomplish by allegedly hacking the DNC and voter registration systems? We're going to talk to the former head of the CIA.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:25:20] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

Plenty to talk about with our political panel. So, let's dive right in. We have with us today, deputy Washington bureau chief for "The Boston Globe", Matt Viser, national spokesperson for the Donald Trump campaign, Katrina Pierson, former national press secretary for Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, Symone Sanders, and CNN senior political analyst, David Gergen.

Symone, let me start with you. Just last week, President Obama acknowledged that there were tweaks needed to Obamacare but he likened it to the complex system, to just a patch for a smartphone. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: When one of these companies comes out with a new smartphone, then it has a few bugs. What do they do? They fix it. They upgrade it. Unless it catches fire. Then they just -- they pull it off the market.

(LAUGHTER)

But you don't go back to using a rotary phone! You don't say, well, we're repealing smartphones. We're just going to do the dial-up thing. That's not what you do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: I don't know if that metaphor works, but the larger question I have it, this see to be a much more serious issue and one that is very worrisome and troublesome for millions of Americans than the president seems to be addressing in that clip.

SYMONE SANDERS, FORMER NATIONAL PRESS SECRETARY, BERNIE SANDERS CAMPAIGN: Well, you know, I think -- I don purport to speak for President Obama but I do think he does understand that this is a very serious issue, and rising premium, premium costs, are an issue for people. These are real-life implications. That is why we have to build on the success that is the Affordable Healthcare Act. You know, it's not perfect, but we had to something, and because of the Affordable Healthcare Act, aka, Obamacare, 20 million Americans now have insurance.

Young people like myself, I was on my parents' insurance until I turned 26. These are very important things. We can't go back. So, we need to move forward. There need to be some tweaks.

That's why Secretary Clinton has a plan to increase competition, drive costs down. Make a public option for families. So, these are some of the things. What the stuff the Republicans are talking about, about cutting it out, and repealing Obamacare, that's just not the place to go.

TAPPER: Katrina, I can't help but think, in an alternative universe Donald Trump has been talking about Obamacare for the last year with the same fervor he has been talking about it today because these problems and premium hikes didn't just happen today. As somebody who speaks for him and who wants him to be elected, has this been a missed opportunity to a degree? I know he talks about it sometimes but not as much as he talks about it today.

KATRINA PIERSON, NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON, DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, he does talk about it a lot. He has rallies nearly every day and continues to talk about this. Many conservatives and Republicans have been talking about Obamacare since -- you know, as Symone says something had to be done, but I don't think it's the government's role to just pass something just so we can see what's in it.

But the most disturbing part about Obamacare is that what's happening today and what's happening to millions of Americans next month is that this was intentional. You just had a previous architect of Obamacare on.

Let's go back to Jonathan Gruber from the beginning who was laughing about how this bill was passed. I will quote. He said that the Cadillac tax was basically passed off because of the stupidity of the American voter. This was well-intentioned and he said that the Obama campaign and the Obama administration took a very clear and clever opportunity to exploit the lack of economic understanding of Americans, and that's what we have today. Those insurers had to go to him to get those rate increases and he approved them.

TAPPER: David?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, several things. First of all, I -- I do think that President Obama was very dismissive. It's almost -- recall the ISIS is a jayvee early on. I don't think that's what he meant but it had that quality about it.

This is and could be a very explosive event in the middle of a campaign two weeks before the election. Ordinarily, this would greatly favor the challenger because the challenger, the Republican Party has been arguing for a long time that this was coming. They saw it coming.

And, frankly, Trump has run a campaign that's so overshadowed it by all the narcissism and everything else, I don't think it will diminish the impact in this campaign. I think it may hurt some, but I don't see it causing a rush to the door for Trump.

TAPPER: Matt, how do you see the politics of this playing out? Obviously, the kneejerk is to think, oh, this is good for Donald Trump. But maybe not.

MATT VISER, DEPUTY WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, BOSTON GLOBE: I mean, I think with Donald Trump. He is talking about it but he is not necessarily running on it. And so, I think that causes a little bit of a difference there, where you think of four years ago, Mitt Romney was running on repeal of Obamacare.

It was -- it was like a center-piece of his campaign. It got a bit awkward given his tenure in Massachusetts. But I think it helps Donald Trump in the near term because it's terrible for Democrats and for President Obama with his iPhone metaphor.