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Trump Urges U.S. to "Dream Big" in Upbeat Speech; Republican Lawmakers Cheer Trump Speech, Message; Interview with Rep. Dan Donovan; Trump Pledges to Spend Big on Infrastructure. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired March 1, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Poppy Harlow. So glad you're with us. Well, what a night. Today, the White House this morning, basking in the glow of the president's pretty well received address by many to Congress. Polls showing that the majority of Americans watched it, liked it. They, saying seven and ten, think that it shows that America is moving in the right direction.
BERMAN: We should note that the majority of people who watched it or a disproportionate number of people who watched it were Republicans --
HARLOW: There you go.
BERMAN: People supportive of the president that always happens there. So that does skew the numbers a bit. But nevertheless, it is a good number. The president delivered a different tone, a much different tone than we've heard in his inaugural address, to be sure.
And this morning, the president is making clear that he likes how people are receiving this speech. He wrote on Twitter this. He says, "Thank you." And we can assume he's talking about the speech last night. I'm assuming he's talking about those. --
HARLOW: Don't go making assumptions.
BERMAN: Maybe we shouldn't assume that. Maybe we shouldn't assume that. All right --
HARLOW: He is.
BERMAN: The question now is what does this all mean. What does it mean in terms of specifics? Will he be able to get his plans through Congress? What are his exact plans? Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The time for small thinking is over. The time for trivial fights is behind us. We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts. The bravery to express the hopes that stir our souls. And the confidence to turn those hopes and those dreams into action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: All right, CNN's Sara Murray in Washington for us. Sara, you can tell the White House is pleased with the response. You know the Press Office and the Communications Office pleased with the response to this address. What's the White House can do with it today?
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are certainly breathing a sigh of relief this morning. That it's getting such great review, especially from Republicans on the Hill, who are sitting in that room, watching this address today. And I think that they're going to continue to ride this out, to sort of try to keep this high going for as long as possible.
They were originally supposed to release the new version of the travel ban today. Now they're not doing that, because they really want to give the president's speech a chance to breathe and especially when you look at some of the big moments he had last night. I wanted to take a look at one of these, when he paid tribute to a fallen SEAL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Ryan died as he lived, a warrior and a hero, battling against terrorism and securing our nation. Ryan's legacy is etched into eternity. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: Now, this was of course, a casualty from the raid that the president had ordered in Yemen. But it also showed sort of a different side, a more presidential side of Donald Trump, something that his allies in the Republican Party were certainly hoping to see come out.
And I think it's worth noting, John and Poppy, that it wasn't a change in policy that we saw from the president last night. He continued to sort of lay out some of his hard line policies that give Democrats heartburn. But it was a change in tone. And he did go further in some things that will make Republicans happy, like for instance going further out on that limb and embracing the health care repeal and replace plan that house Republican in leadership have embraced. And so, that is certainly going to make some of his friends on the Hill very happy today as well.
HARLOW: Some of them, not all of them. I mean, -- you know some of them have come out and said they'll vote no because of that that tax credit part of it, which he certainly doubled down on last night. Sara Murray in Washington, thank you so much.
Let's talk about all of this with our panel. We're joined by Jeremy Diamond, our White House reporter, David Drucker, senior congressional correspondent for "The Washington Examiner" and Lynn Sweet is here, the Washington bureau chief for the "Chicago Sun-Times." Nice to have you all. When you look overall at this, Jeremy Diamond, you have some interesting reporting from the administration. They were going to announce the new revised travel ban this morning. They're not going to now because of how well the speech went, is that right?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right. Around the time that the president and his top advisers were getting back to the White House, a senior administration official told me that you know, they had just decided to delay signing the new Executive Order which would be the revised travel ban. That was scheduled to be signed today. But following all of -- these positive reception that the speech got and the overwhelmingly positive coverage that we've seen, you know, they've decided maybe it is best not to cut into that. And they also want to give the Executive Order its own moment, is what this official told me. So, certainly, there are some political considerations at play there.
[10:05:00] That's gotten some blowback -- from folks who pointed out that the president in the past had said that this was a national security imperative to sign this Executive Order as soon as possible. And obviously now, it seems like some political considerations are coming into play as they look to enjoy this moment and allow the positive coverage of this speech to continue before cutting into that with a really controversial Executive Order.
BERMAN: You know Democrats don't give it the same positive reviews, obviously, as the Republicans and a lot of people who watched it, David Drucker, so the question is, what effect does this have? Chuck Schumer called it just a speech, we'll forget about it in a week. But does this create space for President Trump, maybe in working with the Republicans on the Hill at least for a little while?
DAVID DRUCKER, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": It creates space if he uses it. I think the reason why the tone is so important is because we've seen in the polling for several weeks that there is a lot of goodwill toward the policies, many of the policies that Trump has proposed just not so much goodwill for him.
And so, if he can put together a more popular image personally with policies that many Americans already like, it's going to make him a stronger political force in Washington. And it's going to improve his chances of getting Republicans in Congress to push through an agenda. So what I'm looking for now, and I think that's why, I have to say, even though I understand why Democrats are still panning the speech, that's why this thing about the tone and the presidential nature of the speech is so important politically.
Now the question is will Trump get more involved as a negotiator and a consensus builder with Republicans on the Hill? He's largely been absent. This is why you've seen a lack of consensus on things like health care reform and even tax reform. And if they're going to get those things done, and they're big, huge political heavy lifts. They need him to be active, tell them what he wants and he needs to be the one that works out the differences. So let's see what comes next from him. We didn't get a lot of detail last night. We got broad themes. We didn't get hard details. That's what they need from him next. HARLOW: And he has not tweeted this morning, all he tweeted was "Thank you." The last three days leading up to the speech, nothing controversial, no attacks on Twitter. So, whether this is truly a page turn, we'll see. But the details that he did give, Lynn Sweet, some of them worried departure from Republican orthodoxy. He talked about spending a lot of money, you know, $54 billion more on the military, $1 trillion dollar infrastructure plan, that will be a public-private partnership, but still. And he doubled down on this tax credit with the Obamacare plan, which some of his own fellow Republicans see it as just adding to entitlements. It's not going to sit well with all of them.
LYNN SWEET, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": No, it's not. And -- here is what I think has not sunk in yet in the way that Trump presents his plans. There has to be a way to pay for it. When you say a tax credit, that's another way of saying we're going to have less money in the federal pot to spend on other things. If that's what you want, OK. That's called policy. And that is the tougher thing.
In a sense, Trump will be negotiating with himself as well as Congress, because you can't just make a speech to say I want this shopping list, without going to Congress, who really cares about this, especially Speaker Paul Ryan, to show me how you're going to pay for it. That's always the issue that transcends party affiliation. You have to, in the famous phrase from the movies, "You've got to show them the money."
BERMAN: Well, that's been important to Paul Ryan up until now. We will see if it continues to be important to him now that he has a Republican president. Jeremy Diamond, you are the insider's insider in terms of White House coverages, that's why I'm directing this question to you. Poppy was talking about specifics and to David and Lynn, on the border adjustment tax, I'm asking you this, you know, -- do you know for sure whether or not President Trump supports a border adjustment tax, yes or no?
DIAMOND: No, I don't think we do know for sure. But last night we did hear him come pretty close when he basically outlined, you know, the broad strokes of the border adjustment tax that Paul Ryan and House Republicans are pushing. By saying that, you know, imports -- imported goods into the United States aren't taxed in the same way that exports are. That's the broad strokes. But again, it could also be in line with what the president has talked about in the past, which is a tariff on imports, which is very, very different, of course.
So, it's unclear. But one thing that we do know is that the president's top adviser, Steve Bannon, has been working closely with House Republicans on those proposals as well as others of course. But it is something that the president is considering. But we don't know for sure yet whether he supports it.
BERMAN: And the reason I'm asking, because it matters. I mean, that's not a little thing, that's a big thing. In fact, it's everything in terms of what the tax -- you know tax reform debate is on Capitol Hill. Likewise, with Obamacare, we don't really know for sure, Jeremy, how much he supports the idea of tax credits. He mentioned it last night. But what we don't know is he's going to fight for it? You know especially among those recalcitrant Republicans who say they won't vote for a bill with the tax credits. Do you get the sense, Jeremy, he will fight for it?
[10:10:02] DIAMOND: Well, you know, I think this is part of President Trump's strategy, right? Which is to say that he's not going to fully commit to anything until it's really signed, sealed, delivered. You know, the president likes to keep things open. He likes to make sure that he still has wiggle room and leverage to continue to negotiate.
But yeah, you know while House Republicans were reassured that the president was endorsing the broad strokes of their Obamacare repeal and replace plan. You know the president didn't go into details and say I support you know, this particular version of the House plan versus this other member's version of the repeal plan. So, you know, there is a lot that still remains to be seen as far as whether President Trump is going to go to bat for House Speaker Paul Ryan and his agenda or whether he's going to compete with it and seek to leverage support from other parts of the House Republican Caucus.
HARLOW: So, David Drucker, to you, the reaction from Democrats, as John said earlier, you know, you heard some groans certainly, but also, here is how the House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi put it in her short statement following the speech. "The President's speech was utterly disconnected from the cruel reality of his conduct." That is what she said.
So, is that in some ways an admission that, well, the speech wasn't all that bad but don't pay any attention to that, just pay attention to what he's done beforehand?
DRUCKER: Well, look, I don't blame the House Minority Leader for maintaining her opposition to the president. What she's saying is, great, he's given one good speech, one civilized speech, and that doesn't wipe away everything that came before it. And in fact it doesn't. And as we've been discussing, at any moment the president could decide to drop a tweet or pick a fight with his political opponents or us in the manner in which has not -- I don't think served him well since he's been inaugurated president. It clearly helped him in the campaign.
And so, you know, I think for all of us, we should take a wait and see approach. I do think that one of the ways the president can overcome all sorts of issues is to get things done, and the only way he's going to do that is to actually stop playing it cool, stop being noncommittal, and tell House Republicans and Senate Republicans what he wants. There are plenty of Freedom Caucus conservative Republicans in the House that will roll over and give the president what he wants if he calls them up and tells them to do it, because their voters like him. That is in the polling as well and it has been for months. Their voters are more interested in him than they are in their members of Congress. And they'll respond to him if he picks up the phone.
BERMAN: That's a great point, the question is will he do that or what will it take. Lynn, go ahead. SWEET: Well, here are just a few things to take away, I think, from this conversation, as we look ahead. Trump has to submit his budget plan to Congress pretty soon and that's going to have a lot of specifics in it. We know that he said the other day that he's just discovering that health care is very complex. Well, now we'll get to the whole how many thousand pages of a budget.
But when it comes to dealing with Congress, he's dealing with a new constituency to him. It's not just the voters. He has to -- I believe he will make every phone call, have every lunch, have every dinner that's necessary, because that's his style, to try and get things done. And this is just -- my informed guess right now, that these details that are so important to so many lawmakers, especially to Paul Ryan, the Speaker, who comes out of -- you know, he is Mr. Budgeteer, that may not be as important to the president, as long as he says, tax credit, tax whatever, pay for it, you figure it out, let's just get it done. He might not be wedded to the exact details as long as he can get the end result.
BERMAN: The 435 people who vote on them, though, they do need to know those details. Jeremy Diamond, David Drucker, Lynn Sweet, great to have you with us this morning, love this conversation.
Still to come for us, Republicans, praising the president's performance. But we were just talking about it, what are they going to do about it now? We will hear from one Republican Congressman to see his advice to the president going forward.
HARLOW: Also, President Trump's plan to spend big, big, we're talking $1 trillion, folks, on infrastructure. Some Democrats certainly like that. Some Republicans say, how you going to pay for it. Can this country afford it? What does he mean when he says a public-private partnership, the actual economics behind it? Straight ahead.
[10:18:45] BERMAN: Our breaking news this morning who need throw it up, the Dow Jones doing very, very well today. Mark it up 243 points up over 21,000 for the very first time. You talk to investors they say they like the calmer tone that the nation heard from President Trump last night.
HARLOW: All right. And some of the morning headlines on the papers this morning, let me read them to you. "Trump's speech to Congress marks a shift in tone." "Trump tries on normal." "Trump in optimistic address, asks Congress to end trivial fights."
Let's bring in Republican Congressman Dan Donovan of New York. He sits on the House Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security Committee. Nice to have you here.
REP. DAN DONVAN (R), NEW YORK: Good to be with you.
HARLOW: So, we were wondering, what do you prefer? The Trump we saw last night or the Trump we heard at the inauguration? DONOVAN: Well, I think what he did last night was, he asked the American public to come together. But he also asked Congress to come together. I think the tone last night really set what he wants to put forth in making America moving forward again. He talked about our infrastructure that is crumbling, how he wants to rebuild that. He talked about repairing a broken health care system. I thought it was very telling. He told every American family, your child is important to me, when he said that the civil rights issue of our time is children's education.
[10:20:04] BERMAN: And just to put a fine point on it, if you could send a message to the White House, do you want to see more of what we saw last night and less of the inauguration type speech?
DONOVAN: Well, I think, this was such an important speech because he was speaking to the American public for the very first time in a Joint Session. And I think this is the tone, I think, we're going to see going forward. I mean, you know, the president is who he is. There's no doubt that this man loves America, loves our nation, and he wants to see it moving forward again. He thinks that we're not the great nation that we once were.
So, he's talking about building up our military. I think very telling was the people that he brought as his guests, talking about law enforcement people who have lost their lives to protect our inner cities, talking about that young lady who overcame her health issues and challenges and now is 20 years old, a student at Notre Dame University, when doctors didn't give her a chance to live past 5 years old and certainly, that tribute to that great American hero, Owens, whose family was there last night. I think, as the president said, it broke a record for a standing ovation.
So, this is a -- I think what he -- it's difficult in an hour's speech to get into the details. I think a lot of people had heard through the campaign and heard through his first 40 some-odd days what the president wants to do for America. I think people were hoping to hear how he plans on doing that. You heard some of that detail last night.
HARLOW: Well, I mean, let's look, by the way, at the Senate floor right now, you've got Chuck Schumer of New York ripping, criticizing the president's speech. He says, look, this is just a speech, there is no substance.
And don't you think, Congressman, that there could have been more details? I mean, it is an hour address, and this is his chance to really tell the American people how he's going to get some of these things done. He really did not give any details on those important things. Would you have liked to hear more?
DONOVAN: I would have liked to, but the speech could have been three hours then. And if he had given details about how he wants to repair the health care system, what he really -- what he wants to do with infrastructure, then people would have criticized him for leaving things out of the speech that they would have said he doesn't think is important. He had an hour to tell the American public what he wants to do and some little detail on how he's going to do it. More details are going to come out.
BERMAN: Congressman, do you know if the president supports the border adjustment tax?
DONOVAN: You know, the president has said this is something that he's examining. If that's supporting it or if that's examining it or that's trying to make a decision -- whether this is good or --
BERMAN: Do you know if he supports tax credits in terms of replacing Obamacare?
DONOVAN: He mentioned that that's one of the things he will consider -- and changing a health care system that's been in place for six years. I think maybe some folks are a little ambitious on how quickly this is going to do. We have to help the people who the Affordable Care Act --
HARLOW: Congressman, he is the one who as the candidate was ambitious. He is the one who said repeal and replace on day one. And when John brings these things up, they may sound mundane but they really matter, a border adjustment tax really matters. --
DONOVAN: It sure does.
HARLOW: Because it could mean huge increases, 15 percent increases, the National Retail Federation says, for every American consumer struggling to get by. So these details, they matter.
DONOVAN: They certainly do. And we have to give the man a chance to examine. He's been in office for about 40 some-odd days now. And there are a lot of issues. We have a broken immigration system. We have a -- tax code that needs to be repaired. And certainly, we need to repair our broken health care system. So let's give him a chance.
Last night, he told people, these are the things I'm looking at. But what we have to do with health care is to make sure that we help the people who are harmed by the Affordable Care Act, without harming the people who are helped by it. I mean, I've come from New York. A lot of people are covered now on the expansion of Medicaid. I have to be sure those people don't fall through the cracks. The president has promised us we won't pull the rug out from underneath anyone.
BERMAN: Congressman Dan Donovan, from Staten Island, great State of New York. Thanks so much for being with us, sir. --
DONOVAN: Thank you for having me. Thank you.
BERMAN: All right. Tonight, don't miss it. We will hear from two key Republican senators. Senators who have been very critical, we should say, of the president. What do they say now? What's their take on the president's address? John McCain and Lindsey Graham together on one stage in a panel moderated by Dana Bash, it airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.
HARLOW: You will not want to miss that. Also, ahead for us, one area where Democrats can work with the president on this trillion dollar infrastructure plan that he announced last night. The president does have some bipartisan support on that. The issue, though, how are you going to pay for it? Also details behind his historic tax reform that he's promising. What happens when the rubber meets the road? That's next.
[10:28:59] HARLOW: Good morning, everyone, I'm Poppy Harlow.
BERMAN: I'm John Berman, great to see you this morning.
HARLOW: All right. So, this is a president that wants to spend some money, a lot of money. He wants to pay a whole lot more for military expansion. He wants to cut taxes big league, and at the same time he wants to introduce $1 trillion infrastructure plan. This is a plan that actually has some bipartisan support.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure of the United States, financed through both public and private capital, creating millions of new jobs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So, how does this Math add up? Here with us to discuss, former Obama administration Council of Economic Advisers chair Austan Goolsbee, and CNN's senior economic analyst and former Senior Economic Adviser to President Trump, Stephen Moore.
Austan, let me start with you, because I'm old enough to remember when President Obama sort of liked the idea of public-private partnerships for infrastructure spending. What exactly does that mean and do you still believe it will work?
AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, FORMER CHAIRMAN OF THE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: Well, we don't know exactly what it means because there weren't a lot of details.