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Beloved Singer-Actress Dies at Age 84; GOP Take Aim at Obamacare; The Year's Top Political Stories. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired December 29, 2016 - 10:30   ET


[10:31:54] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. I'm Victor Blackwell in for Carol Costello this morning. Good to be with you.

The tributes are pouring in as Hollywood and fans mourn the death of actress and singer Debbie Reynolds. She died just one day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher. Her son tells CNN she is with Carrie now.

The beloved star took Hollywood by storm for decades making her debut in 1952's "Singing in the Rain."

CNN's Paul Vercammen is live in Los Angeles this morning.

Paul, and we're learning a lot, just a day after she lost her daughter, how close they were in their final years.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And that's literally and figuratively, Victor. They lived right by each other and of course "Postcards from the Edge" borrowed from their relationship. Debbie Reynolds has said she thought it was overdramatized but nevertheless Carrie Fisher would mine parts of the relationship for some of her material.

And I was fortunate enough to interview Debbie Reynolds about 20 years ago about being a parent and I couldn't help but ask her what she thought -- she was one of those mothers who sort of felt like her kids could do no wrong and here's her answer.


DEBBIE REYNOLDS, SINGER-ACTRESS: They can do no wrong. No. I'm just a slob of a mother. I adore my children. I do suggest to them for their happiness, you know, if I think they are really going off the cliff, I will really please, I have to say something, you know, before disaster, but I try to back off from that. I learned a big lesson a long time ago and I think you must release them, let them go. Then if they like you, they will come visit with you. If they don't, they won't.


VERCAMMEN: And clearly they did visit with her. And here's what she had to say in her last Facebook post. "Thank you to everyone who embraced the gifts and talents of my beloved and amazing daughter. I'm grateful for your thoughts and prayers. They are now guiding her to her next stop. Love, Carrie's mother."

BLACKWELL: Great philosophy --

VERCAMMEN: Well put, I would say, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Great philosophy from a mother to say, you know, let them go. If they love you, they want to be around you, they'll come back. And if not, so be it.

All right. Paul Vercammen for us there in Los Angeles. Paul, thanks so much.

Turning to politics. Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to do away with Obamacare so what will Trumpcare look like? We'll talk about it with one of Obamacare's architects and one of its biggest critics, next.


[10:37:48] BLACKWELL: Well, President-elect Donald Trump has big plans for his first 100 days in office. At the top of the list, Obamacare. The GOP has wanted to repeal the Affordable Care Act almost from the day it was signed into law and now they could have their chance. The big question, what will Congress replace it with? And how many people could possibly gain or lose their insurance with what is already being called Trumpcare?

Let's discuss now with Jonathan Gruber, he's an economics professor at MIT and an architect of Obamacare, and Betsy McCaughey, former lieutenant governor of New York, and author of "Beating Obamacare."

Good morning to both of you.


BLACKWELL: And so I want to start with you with the important question. The Affordable Care Act, over 1,000 pages long. How difficult do you expect it will be to repeal this and replace it?

JONATHAN GRUBER, MIT ECONOMICS PROFESSOR: Well, to repeal it politically is not that hard. To repeal it, they can do that through the reconciliation process. Replacing it is going to be impossible because the Republicans have shown no appetite for developing a comprehensive replacement plan. They can replace it with something which is half as good. I mean, they could have a plan which, say, covers 10 million instead of 20 million uninsured but in terms of actually substantively replacing the law, guaranteeing the end of discrimination in insurance markets and actually covering 20 million Americans, there is simply no plan that's been proposed which realistically achieves those goals.

So repeal it, they can do. But then they'll suffer the consequence of recreating discrimination in insurance markets and causing millions of Americans to lose health insurance.

BLACKWELL: Lieutenant Governor, let me come to you now because Republicans have promised for years that they are going to repeal and replace Obamacare. The first 30 words of any rally for the campaign, we know. Now that they've got the trifecta, both Houses of Congress and the White House, the reporting is that they can't decide on what to replace it with.

I know you want to talk about some of the points that we heard from Jonathan there but talk about that. They've had six years to come up with a plan.

MCCAUGHEY: Actually they are quite ready. There are two major components in all the Republican plans. They are just working out the fine points. The major one is Medicaid because 16 million out of the 20 million or so people who have gained coverage since the Affordable Care Act was passed are enrolled in Medicaid. And Medicaid has been around since 1965, it's not going to be eliminated, and the states that have expanded Medicaid eligibility under the law are not going to do a 180 and change that.

[10:40:10] But the Republicans want to improve the effectiveness of Medicaid spending. It is soaring. It's increasing on a per capita basis at twice the rate of Medicare and is now above $8,000 per recipient. That's several thousand dollars more than is being spent on people in private plans and yet we see that the people on Medicaid are not experiencing improvement in their health.

We want better care for the dollar and the Republicans all agree that block granting Medicaid to the states so that it's -- the decisions are done locally will improve the quality of care delivered to Medicaid recipients. That is the key point in the reform.

BLACKWELL: Jonathan?

GRUBER: Well, first of all, there is plenty of evidence that Medicaid is quite good for people's health and that people will suffer enormously if it's taken away. Second of all, look, block granting Medicaid is a totally separate issue than the Affordable Care Act.

MCCAUGHEY: It's not.

GRUBER: If Republicans want to go and have that debate and say we'd like to block grant Medicaid, that can absolutely be done within the context of the Affordable Care Act. It's a totally separate issue. But Republicans don't want --

MCCAUGHEY: It isn't a separate issue. It is not a separate issue. It's the biggest part.

BLACKWELL: Hold on. Hold on. Jonathan, let me read for you something the Lieutenant Governor McCaughey wrote actually in the "New York Post" that's out this morning talking about this law and expanding coverage to millions of Americans. Maybe you've read it. Let's put it up on the screen.

"Even Gruber's analysis attributes none of the gains to changing the rules regarding pre-existing conditions. Most people with pre- existing conditions already had coverage before Obamacare and pre- existing conditions crisis was largely concocted to sell Obama's health law."

Your response to that?

GRUBER: It's simply incorrect. First of all, what opponents of Obamacare miss is that ending discrimination in insurance markets is not primarily about pre-existing conditions. It's about not allowing insurers to charge the sick more than the healthy and President-elect Trump and others have tried to divert it to make it about pre-existing conditions. That's a small issue.

My wife's a breast cancer survivor. If the insurers said sure, we'll cover your breast cancer but charge you $100,000 a month, what good does that do her? That is the main issue. And that's the one Republican plans have not addressed. There is no Republican plan which does not allow insurers to charge my wife $100,000 a month.

MCCAUGHEY: That's right. But the Republican plans all provide taxpayer funded subsidies to make care affordable for your wife. The fact is that Obamacare is a scam. It discriminates against young and healthy people forcing them to pay many times the expected cost of their care in order to subsidize care for the chronically ill. It's unfair to put that whole burden on the small number of young and healthy people in the individual insurance market and that's why more people refuse to sign up even though they didn't have insurance than were willing to sign up.

And Jonathan Gruber, you know this because on October 17th, 2013, you said for the first of many times we had to lie about this plan in order to get it passed. If we had admitted that we were going to force the young and healthy to pay in to subsidize the chronically ill we never would have made it pass. It was a lie. You said it was a lie. And the fact is the Republicans subsidized care for chronically ill people including unfortunately your wife, honestly transparently.

BLACKWELL: Let me jump in here because you said that people aren't signing up for it. We know that in the last several days, several weeks, there have been ramp-ups of people signing up for the affordable health care. But I want to give you an opportunity to respond to that. And I've got one more thing, Jonathan, quickly.

GRUBER: So basically, what we have is a situation where the law is succeeding where once again there's no answer. Let's go back to what Lieutenant Governor McCaughey said, that basically -- she said well, my wife, the insurance companies could easily charge $100,000 a month, don't worry, we'll give her a $5,000 tax credit.


GRUBER: What good does that do?


GRUBER: They do not solve the fundamental problem that was broken in insurance markets which is that insurers discriminated against the sick. And there is no Republican solution to that problem. None has been posed. And no simple empty talking points will solve that. BLACKWELL: We got to wrap it there. Jonathan Gruber, Lieutenant

Governor Betsy McCaughey, thank you both for being part of this conversation which obviously will continue.

All right. Politics, undoubtedly dominated the news cycle in 2016. It was a year of unprecedented firsts from the first female candidate nominated to a major political party for the presidency to a political outsider elected to the highest office.

CNN's chief correspondent -- Washington correspondent Jake Tapper counts down the top 10 unforgettable political moments of 2016.


[10:45:04] JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: This year, everything we thought we knew about politics was turned on its head. Political attacks, e-mail hacks, and several cracks in the glass ceiling made for an unparalleled race between the first female major party nominee and a billionaire political outsider.

President-elect Trump will soon take office but, first, let's look back at our top 10 political stories of 2016.

(Voice-over): Number 10, conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly in February.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Everything is on the line.

TAPPER: And in an unprecedented move, Republicans vowed to block any high court appointments until after the presidential election.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Simply, to turn your back before the president even names a nominee is not an option the Constitution leaves open.

TAPPER: Judge Merrick Garland was nominated in March but never even had a hearing.

Number nine --

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You want to give me a good send-off, go vote.

TAPPER: In their final presidential year, the Obamas hit the campaign trail.


TAPPER: With more catchphrases.

B. OBAMA: Come on, man.

TAPPER: And less restraint.

B. OBAMA: Donald Trump is uniquely unqualified to be president. TAPPER: But a different tone after the Democratic defeat.

B. OBAMA: If you succeed then the country succeeds.

TAPPER: Number eight.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT: I beat everybody. I beat the hell out of them.

TAPPER: Donald Trump won the Republican nomination but struggled to win over the party. Republican leaders distanced themselves.

(On camera): Will you support him?

RYAN: I'm just not ready to do that.

TAPPER (voice-over): But will the party now unify around President Trump?

RYAN: We're going to hit the ground running.

TAPPER: Number seven, Trump's unvarnished campaign attracted extremist support.

TRUMP: I don't know anything about what you're even talking about with white supremacy.

TAPPER: He was slow to denounce white supremacists.

TRUMP: David Duke endorsed me? OK, all right, I disavow, OK?

TAPPER: And his controversial rhetoric on race continued.

TRUMP: This judge is of Mexican heritage. I'm building a wall.

TAPPER: Even targeting the judge in his university fraud case.

(On camera): If you are saying he can't do his job because of his race, is that not the definition of racism?

TRUMP: No, I don't think so at all.

TAPPER (voice-over): Number six, the conventions.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The first time that a major party has nominated a woman for president.

TAPPER: Hillary Clinton made history in Philadelphia and a Gold Star family made Trump an offer.

KHIZR KAHN, GOLD STAR FATHER: Have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy.

TAPPER: In Cleveland, Melania Trump's speech was familiar.

M. OBAMA: You work hard for what you want in life. MELANIA TRUMP, WIFE OF PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP: That you worked

hard for what you want in life.

TAPPER: And Sen. Ted Cruz refused to endorse the nominee.


TAPPER: Number five, Trump's past went public. There was a former Miss Universe feud.

CLINTON: He called her Miss Piggy.

TAPPER: He responded with a link to her past.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN "ANDERSON COOPER 360": You sent out a series of tweets, including one that told people to check out a sex tape.

TAPPER: Then a crude video of Trump.

TRUMP: Grab them by the (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

TAPPER: He brushed it aside.

TRUMP: This was locker room talk.

TAPPER: But nearly a dozen assault accusers said it went further than words.

JESSICA LEEDS, TRUMP ASSAULT ACCUSER: His hand started going towards my knee and up my skirt.

TAPPER: Trump denied the allegations and said he would sue.

Number four, Senator Bernie Sanders built a huge movement.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are actually listening to the American people, not the 1 percent.

TAPPER: But was the system rigged against outsiders?

SANDERS: Secretary Clinton received about 450 superdelegates before anybody else was in the race.

TAPPER: "Bernie or Bust" protesters crowded the convention.

SARAH SILVERMAN, COMEDIAN: You're being ridiculous.

TAPPER: And refused to vote for Clinton.

Number three, Democrats were hacked.


TAPPER: Stolen e-mails from the DNC revealed bias against Sanders, forcing the party chair to resign.

[13:30:02] SANDERS: There's no question to my mind that the DNC was in opposition to our campaign.

TAPPER: U.S. intelligence points to Russian cyber attacks.

B. OBAMA: Our goal continues to be to send a clear message to Russia or others not to do this to us because we can do stuff to you.

TAPPER: Number two.

JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: There is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly-classified information.

TAPPER: The FBI recommended no charges for Clinton's use of a private e-mail server. Still, the issue was gold for Republicans.

TRUMP: She's guilty as hell.

AUDIENCE: Lock her up.

TAPPER: She tried to quell concerns.

CLINTON: My e-mails are so boring.

TAPPER: But the FBI announced they'd discovered new ones just before Election Day.

CLINTON: It's imperative that the bureau explain this issue.

TAPPER: The trove contained nothing new but the damage was done. Number one.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hillary Clinton has called Donald Trump to concede the race.

[10:50:01] TAPPER: Donald Trump won the White House.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, "THE SITUATION ROOM": The campaign unlike anything we've seen in our lifetime.

TRUMP: I love this country.

TAPPER: As protesters took to the streets, Secretary Clinton bowed out.

CLINTON: We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought.

TAPPER: Now a Cabinet of billionaires, outsiders, and military men will join Trump for an era of who knows what.

(On camera): Those were our top 10 political stories of this year. The question is, who and what will top the list next year?

Jake Tapper, CNN, Washington.



BLACKWELL: It was a short night for Carmelo Anthony against the Hawks. The Knicks star ejected in the second quarter for throwing a punch.

Andy Scholes has more in today's "Bleacher Report."

Andy, what is going on?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Victor, you know, Carmelo Anthony lost his cool last night against the Hawks, ended up taking an early shower.

Here's the play where it all went down. Let's take a look at it. You're going to see Melo getting tangled up with Thabo Sefolosha under the basket and Melo ends up throwing a punch at Sefolosha. The two then had to be separated. Now it was originally just called a foul on Melo but after reviewing it, the officials gave him a flagrant two, which is an automatic ejection. The Knicks would lose this game in overtime 102-98.

Tomorrow night, Ronda Rousey will make her long awaited return to the octagon in UFC 207. She'll be fighting Amanda Nunes. This is the first time Rousey will be back in the octagon since she lost for the first time against Holly Holm a year ago. After that fight Rousey said she considered killing herself.

Now you're not going to see Rousey doing the normal prefight interviews this week. She's taking -- she's staying away from the media but UFC president Dana White spoke with us about Rousey's mindset heading into tomorrow night.


[10:55:09] DANA WHITE, UFC PRESIDENT: I think she was trying to do too much. She was doing movies, working very hard for us, too. She basically would take on anything that came her way. All she's interested in is this fight. She wants to win and she says believe me, the media wants to talk to me after I win this fight, I will be talking to everybody.


SCHOLES: On Monday night, Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, well, he threw the first touchdown of his career in the team's win over the Lions. But this perfect pass right here, well, it has Dez maybe wanting to change positions. According to "Dallas Morning News" Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones said Bryant tried to attend the Cowboys quarterbacks meeting this week and he's lobbying for more passing plays.

Now Dez is probably just joking around. Cowboys meanwhile, they're 13-2 and have already locked up home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

All right. Finally, imagine you're just trying to cross the street in New York City and you become the victim of a vicious crossover. Well, that's what happened here to Gillian Jordan. She posted this video on Twitter. Now the ball is named the Jahmani Swanson. You see him, he just keeps going on his way.

Jordan, on the other hand, Victor, probably still icing those ankles this morning. But you've got to give her credit, she did try to play defense there, Swanson just too good.

BLACKWELL: Blame it on the heels. Blame it on the heels.


BLACKWELL: All right. Andy Scholes, thanks so much.

SCHOLES: All right.

BLACKWELL: All right. I'm Victor Blackwell. Thanks for joining me this morning. "AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND BOLDUAN" is up next.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. John Berman is off today.

Today President Obama sending a message to Russia, essentially, we're coming for you.