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Trump to Ask for $1 Trillion Infrastructure Package; Trump Says His Job is to Represent the U.S.; Two Speeches, Two Very Different Tones; The Bleacher Report; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired March 1, 2017 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Infrastructure spending.


BERMAN: You know, 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 in this speech by President Trump, which is fine. This is not normally a big policy-heavy address, if you look at previous presidents. I think in this case, there was a subtle shift of language when you saw there. In the campaign he had been saying it is a trillion dollar infrastructure program and now it is to be a program to induce a trillion dollars of spending, which I think means some kind of tax credit for private building of infrastructure.

So there the whole question is going to be, is this stuff that was already going to get built be built anyway, and how do private sector projects qualify as infrastructure? I think it's not going to be a trillion dollars of what we normally think of as infrastructure, which is sort of building bridges and roads and things that are run by the government. I think it's going to be much more private sector stuff like stadiums or that kind of thing.

HARLOW: Maybe. But we heard -- I mean, the president talk so much during the campaign even more about rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our tunnels. Is that --

BERMAN: Airports.

HARLOW: Airports. He does not like LaGuardia, by the way.

BERMAN: Third world.

HARLOW: But really, you -- I mean, you advised him on this stuff. What is he talking about here? And how is he going to pay for it? Because our Jeff Zeleny asked Mnuchin, his Treasury secretary, how you're going to pay for it, Mnuchin said, I think we're going to look at -- we're going to look at a bunch of different things, we're going to look a lot -- at a lot of other things, thanks so much, goodbye. So he didn't give any details how he's going to do it.

STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMICS ANALYST: Well, I think Austan has a good year because you're right, Austan, there was a little bit of shift in the way he talked about this last night. He said, you know, public and private infrastructure. And so -- by the way, on this issue, he sounds more like a traditional Democrat than he does a Republican. And the last 20 years or so, it's been Democrats and unions that want all these public works programs and Republicans who generally resisted them.

What I hope that he means, and I think we're going to have to see as this unfolds, is that this would include private infrastructure, not necessarily government financing of it. But for -- let me just give you one example, pipelines. Pipelines are certainly a vital part of our infrastructure. We need not just the Keystone but we need a national network of pipelines to get the oil and gas that we're producing in some of these places like Oklahoma and Texas and North Dakota, to every part of the country and the world.

That could be built with private sector money. It just needs permits. So hopefully it means that. What I hopefully he does not mean, by the way, is that we're going to see more of these projects like in California, the $70 billion high speed bullet train that nobody is going to ride.

HARLOW: The Hyperloop.

MOORE: Completely out of control.

HARLOW: We already bought tickets. We bought tickets.


MOORE: Well, OK, there will be two people riding that train.

BERMAN: So, Stephen, I want to -- you said I hope it means.


BERMAN: And the reason I bring that up is because you don't seem to know.


BERMAN: You're advising President Trump. And we were hearing before from a congressman talking about the idea of border adjustment tax, and he says, I don't really know where the president is, he's considering it. About tax credits for Obamacare repeal. You know, he doesn't really know because the president hasn't come down on one side or the other.

MOORE: Well, because --

BERMAN: There's a lot of we don't know yet and these are things that matter a lot.

MOORE: That's true. That's true. And look, this was a visionary speech. It wasn't high on the specifics. And by the way, I think that's appropriate for a president's first essentially State of the Union address, to talk about where he wants to take the country. And now over the course of the next weeks, some months, we're going to see some of those details about -- I mean, there wasn't a lot on that tax plan, was there, Austan? He basically just said I want to cut taxes for people, so the devil will be in the details and I think that will be coming in the weeks to come.

HARLOW: OK. Something else, Austan, that we did not get any details on is whether or not he likes the border adjustment tax or not. He did talk about how it's unfair, he essentially said, that, you know, other countries tax our goods coming in but we don't tax their goods coming in.

The only way a border adjustment tax really works and doesn't hike prices up for American people is if the dollar rises 20 percent. Where do you see the president likely falling on this, Austan?

GOOLSBEE: Well, I think they're going to -- they're in a terribly tough spot. And the reason that you didn't hear any details is because if you start getting into the details, there are going to be a lot of people who do not like a border adjustment tax. He seemed to be sort of teetering between calling for outright tariffs.

MOORE: Right.

GOOLSBEE: And you've heard over the last couple of weeks from the White House various things that maybe they would consider actual tariffs. I'm afraid if they do that, we're well on our way to a trade war that escalates in ways they didn't predict.

On the border adjustment tax, just -- let's center around what it is. A border adjustment tax says we don't want to tax production so let's replace the corporate income tax with a -- basically a national sales tax or a tax on consumers.

[10:35:13] The thing is, there are reasons you might want to do that, but consumers are going to notice if you put a $2 trillion tax on them. And you've already seen the retailers and the gas stations and the various people that face consumers say, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute, what kind of adjustment is that? So I think they will back away from it.

MOORE: Let me -- because I did work on this part of the plan. You know, this is a very controversial thing, no question about it. And I want to take issue with something that Austan said, though.

It is true, Austan, for example, if you're a Wal-Mart shopper, and so many of the things that Wal-Mart sells are made in China, those things -- you're right, Austan -- will cost more. But things that are domestically produced, things in Chicago or Michigan or Virginia where I am, domestically produced things will actually cost a bit less. And that will -- the hope here is that --

GOOLSBEE: I don't agree with that.

MOORE: Well, look, I mean, what you're doing is you're essentially imposing a tax on things that are imported into the country and are reducing the tax on things that are exported out of the country. And you know --


GOOLSBEE: No, but you aren't. What you're doing is you're reducing the tax on production. And it will encourage production.

MOORE: Right.

GOOLSBEE: But it is putting a VAT of the same rate on all goods. That's why it's not -- that's why it doesn't violate the WTO rules. It's not a tariff. It is a --

BERMAN: All right.

GOOLSBEE: -- replacement of corporate --


MOORE: You can see it's a complicated issue.

GOOLSBEE: Which is passed on consumers.

BERMAN: I'm hesitant to cut this off because this is better than any economics class I ever took, with two happier, more energetic economists than I ever heard from. So we're going to bring this up again.


BERMAN: Because this is an important discussion. But we got to go right now.

MOORE: We got to tax what we bring into the country and not tax what we produce, That's good for workers, Austan.


BERMAN: Take it to agreement, guys. Take it to agreement.

HARLOW: You guys -- take it outside.


GOOLSBEE: It can be both of those.

HARLOW: Take it outside, gentlemen. And you'll be back with us soon. Way to get them excited this morning.

BERMAN: Riled up.

HARLOW: Still to come, we've been talking about reaction to the president's speech here in the United States. How is the rest of the world responding? What's Russia saying? That's next.


[10:41:36] BERMAN: A stark clarification from President Trump as to what he sees his job.


BERMAN: Maybe his only job, when it comes to foreign policy.


TRUMP: Free nations are the best vehicle for expressing the will of the people and America respects the right of all nations to chart their own path. My job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America.



HARLOW: Senior international correspondent Clarissa Ward joins us now from London.

And, I mean, Clarissa, we shouldn't be surprised. This is a president who's been talking about a nationalist and somewhat isolationist agenda for a long time. But he also said something last night that struck me. He said we strongly support NATO. So two very different things in the same address.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think there was some mixed messaging. He said we strongly support NATO but with the caveat that we will not continue to blindly financially support NATO, other countries will need to pay their fair share. And I think what we were hearing from the president last night is America is ready to lead, we will still play that role in the world, but we're not going to use the traditional mechanisms that the U.S. has used in its global interactions, whether that be foreign aid, whether that be a disproportionate amount of spending on NATO, or whether that be trying to project U.S. values to an international audience.

You definitely have the sense here that President Trump was saying, we're going to mind our own business to a certain extent. If you want to go about things in your own way in your own country, that's your prerogative provided they don't affect America negatively and provided they don't challenge world peace.

He also talked about forging new friendships and finding new partnerships, with potential nod here to Russia. Take a listen.


TRUMP: America is willing to find new friends and to forge new partnerships where shared interests align. We want harmony and stability, not war and conflict. We want peace wherever peace can be found.

America is friends today with former enemies. Some of our closest allies decades ago fought on the opposite side of these terrible, terrible wars. This history should give us all faith in the possibilities for a better world. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WARD: Now you heard that there, it does seem very clearly to be some kind of a reference to Russia if not some other countries included in that as well. He didn't mention Russia specifically by name. And the Kremlin has said that they are still waiting to hear from the president to see some actual action behind the words, Poppy and John.

BERMAN: All right, Clarissa Ward, thank you very, very much.

So the president's big speech before Congress, who were the biggest winners and losers of this address? We're going to speak to a former presidential speechwriter, next.


[10:49:03] BERMAN: All right. Will the real President Trump please stand up? Is it inauguration Donald Trump or last night's speech to Congress Donald Trump? See the difference.


TRUMP: This American carnage stops right here and stops right now. I'm here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength. And it is a message deeply delivered, from my heart.


HARLOW: Is this the new President Trump? Is this a one-off?

Let's bring in Clark Judge. He is the former speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan and he's also the founder and managing director of the White House Writers Group.

It is nice to have you back, my friend. I think of all the speechwriters we had on the show yesterday, you were the one who expected we might see what we saw last, the president said he could be better on messaging, gave himself a C plus. Then he said -- you know, he carried it out certainly last night. He has not tweeted anything controversial or attacking in three days. Is this the pivot?

[10:50:07] CLARK JUDGE, FORMER REAGAN/BUSH SPEECHWRITER: Well, it was exactly appropriate for the moment. A big part of speech writing is having a sense of the moment and what's appropriate in it. And the president nailed it. So he -- all I said yesterday was what was appropriate for the moment, what he needed to do.

I thought particularly brilliant was his opening about civil rights and the attacks on the Jewish centers. It immediately galvanized the audience, brought them all to their feet. The Democrats -- the big danger of this speech was that the Democrats were going to let their inner child out and we'd get some acting out on the floor. It didn't happen, in part because he opened so strongly. This is probably the best State of the Union style speech we've seen in a generation.

HARLOW: Wow. BERMAN: So that's high marks from you, to be sure, right there. And

as Poppy said, you were right, you predicted this would happen in terms of the tenor and tone of the speech.

JUDGE: I'm going to have to ask you to speak up. The sound is very low.


BERMAN: I'll try to do the best I can, sir. And hopefully you can hear this because Senator Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, he disagrees with you that this was just about the moment. He thinks this doesn't reflect what will happen going forward. Listen.


SEN. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: There's no indication thus far that anything that he said on one day is now going to be followed up on the next day with a permanent change in tone, in temperament, in how he deals with these issues. Without a respectful engagement with all Americans, I'm just afraid that we're going to have a repetition syndrome where there's a constant reenactment and then escalation of the divisions which already exist in our country, largely created by the very divisive tone that he has adopted over the last year and a half.


BERMAN: So again, what he says, it matters what happens going forward.


BERMAN: Do you think the president will continue this going forward?

JUDGE: Well, I think we're going to have some back and forth according to the moment. There are going to be contentious moments. And the rhetoric on both sides will be contentious.

Mr. Markey might keep in mind the rhetoric coming out of his own party over the last month, and really since the election and during the election, deplorable stuff and all the rest. So I think that the president is very much trying to engage, and he signaled it last night, with both parties, with the entire country.

And as I said yesterday, he needs -- he's going to have to have some patience. The other party is pretty bitter and is not going to be terribly receptive. But he set out a very strong agenda last night.

I'll just add one thing. The -- there's been criticism of what he said as too vague. Well, the fact is, for a State of the Union style speech, that was a tremendously specific speech. The detail he went into, and you do not go into heavy detail in State of the Union style speeches.

BERMAN: Understood. JUDGE: But the degree to which he did and argued for his positions

is, first, the best of his administration, and secondly, ranks well against any past president.

BERMAN: Understood that point. Though there are still some questions about what exactly his positions are. But --

JUDGE: It's always going to be the case.

BERMAN: Clark, it's great to hear from you.

JUDGE: Because you're in a dynamic situation. You're putting down broad objectives as a president on this level.

BERMAN: All right.

JUDGE: And the broad objectives are important to lay down because they then set the parameters that your administration will try to adhere to in negotiations.

BERMAN: Clark Judge, great to have you with us. We'll be right back.


[10:58:02] BERMAN: The single most closely watched knee on earth this morning. Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors injured. How bad?

Coy Wire in today's "Bleacher Report." Hey, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Poppy, good morning. Kevin Durant, just in, out indefinitely after an MRI showed that he has a great too strain of his knee. His MCL, he'll be reevaluated in four weeks. That's just a couple of weeks before the playoffs.

Now this is a guy who after blowing a 3-1 led with the Cavs in last year's NBA Championship game, the Warriors are hoping that Durant is going to be the guy they can count on to help them seal the deal should they make it back this season. And here you'll see his own teammate, Zaza Pachulia, falling back into his leg last night against the Wizards. A hyperextension.

Durant, he's been playing well for the Warriors. Leading them in points, rebounds and blocks. Now he's just hoping that he'll be ready for the playoffs.

Another devastating injury, this time from the world of tennis, at a tournament in Acapulco. American Taylor Fritz trying to humanely usher a moth off the court. He's struggling so in steps the ball girl and with one Swiss off of her foot she ends the moth's career. Taylor is laughing, and he's thinking, I guess that's one way I could have handled that situation.

All right. Let's go to some drama in college hoops. Boise State hosting Fresno State. The ball gets wedged in between the shot clock and the bar there. Players say, well, we've got to get this thing out. They tried throwing a ball at it, they bring a big tall guy in to use a mop stick, he still cannot dislodge this thing. It's in there tight. But a hero would emerge among the mighty men.

It's 8-year-old Hunter Hales climbing the goal like it's a tree in his backyard, and he strong arms that thing, guys. He pulls it out, saves the day. Crowd started chanting MVP. I have a feeling this isn't the last time we'll see Hunter on national TV, guys. This guy has skills.

HARLOW: They should have sent Berman up there.

BERMAN: No, I was going to say. You know, they couldn't send the moth. So they had to send the kid.

All right, Coy, thanks so much.

HARLOW: Thank you so much. Thank you all for being with us. I'm Poppy Harlow.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. "AT THIS HOUR" starts right now.