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House Republicans Reveal Obamacare Replacement Bill; Trump Doubles Down on Wiretap Claim. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired March 7, 2017 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. KEVIN BRADY (R), TEXAS: It is Obamacare gone, we repeal all those taxes and those mandates, those subsidies.
[05:58:45] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've already seen some Republican opposition to it, saying it doesn't go far enough.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're going to come far short of the coverage numbers that Obamacare provides.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There is no question that something happened. Is it surveillance. Is it a wiretap?
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If it's true, it's earth- shattering.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: FBI Director James Comey incredulous after Trump's allegations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no reason for us not to have trust and confidence in Director Comey.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This revised order will bolster the security of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unregulated, unfettered travel. It is not a universal privilege when national security is at stake.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, March 7, 6 a.m. here in New York.
Up first, let the health care battle begin again. We have the plan to replace the ACA. Was the president able to keep people's coverage as he promised? The simple answer is no. Many are criticizing both parties. We have the facts and the experts to explain what's in this proposal and what it could mean to you.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All this as President Trump continues his unsubstantiated claims that former President Obama illegally wiretapped him during the campaign. FBI chief James Comey is reportedly, quote, "incredulous" over Mr. Trump's allegations.
It is day 47 of the Trump administration. So let's begin our coverage with CNN's Sunlen Serfaty. She is live on Capitol Hill -- Sunlen.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Alisyn.
House Republicans finally unveiling their bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, but already there are some major fault lines here emerging within the Republican Party. Within hours, there was criticism and concern coming from many Republicans. And even the White House isn't yet fully endorsing this bill, only calling it an important step forward.
BRADY: It is Obamacare gone.
SERFATY (voice-over): House Republicans unveiling their long-awaited replacement of Obamacare.
REP. GREG WALDEN (R), OREGON: When we repeal and replace Obamacare, it will amount to the biggest entitlement reform probably in at least the last 20 years.
SERFATY: Central to their bill, the American health care act, the elimination of the individual and employer mandate, a tax penalty for people without insurance.
The replacement, a continuous coverage incentive, a 30 percent surcharge on premiums for consumers for one year who let their coverage lapse, levied by insurers.
The plan phases out Obamacare's expansion of Medicaid, eventually capping federal funds to the program for each state in 2020. Obamacare subsidies now replaced by refundable tax credits determined by age and income.
What will stay? Obamacare's protections of those with pre-existing conditions. And adult children can remain on their parents' plan until the age of 26.
Some Republicans are already divided, calling the bill Obamacare 2.0.
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: I've already heard from some constituents, upset about "You're creating another entitlement program?" We're calling it tax credits that we actually send people checks.
SERFATY: The House Republicans proposing the bill did not offer any estimate of how much their plan would cost or how many people would lose coverage.
REP. MARK MEADOWS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: The biggest concern I have, will it lower health care costs and premiums to those people that I serve? DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The plans will be
much less expensive than Obamacare. It will be far better than Obamacare. It will be unbelievable.
SERFATY: The White House, calling the bill an important step towards restoring health care choices and affordability.
Democrats are now gearing up for a fight, rallying against the bill's provision to strip all federal funding to Planned Parenthood, arguing millions of poor and working-class individuals who will lose or be unable to afford health insurance under the plan.
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi calling it the "make America sick again" bill.
SERFATY: And the wheels on all this will formally start turning up here on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. That's when two House committees will start marking up the bill. Meantime, today here, all eyes certainly will be on the hearing for deputy attorney general today. This is something that would typically be a nonevent.
But the person in line for this nomination would oversee the Russia investigation. And, Alisyn and Chris, this has many-- some Democrats threatening to stall his nomination, if he does not appoint a special prosecutor in the Russian investigation -- Chris.
CUOMO: All right, Sunlen, appreciate it. We'll be dealing with all the political mishegoss that's going on with Sessions and the travel ban, but this health-care bill, we've been waiting for this to see what the proposed plan is. We have it. We read in. We have experts, so let's get you what you need to know.
We have CNN senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Toobin; CNN political analyst and national political reporter for "The New York Times," Alex Burns; CNN political analyst and Washington bureau chief for "The Daily Beast," Jackie Kucinich; CNN political analyst and senior congressional correspondent for "The Washington Examiner," David Drucker. Those introductions no less complicated than the plan in front of us for the ACA.
All right. So let's put up a punch list of what the main things are. We've had a little graphic made for you for you at home, so you can just focus on the highlights. OK?
"The mandates." That means the insistence that everybody get covered. The upside is that it would create a bigger pool, create a lower cost basis. It's gone. Tax credits are going to replace the income-based subsidies.
The criticism of that is that it's going to mean less for people and families.
"Ends Medicaid expansion in 2020." That has a lot of implications for states. We'll talk about it. "And states get fixed amount of money per enrollee." That ties in to what means the expansion is gone.
"Coverage for pre-existing conditions," yes but no. We're going to talk to you today about something called essential care provisions, part of the Social Security act. They've been repealed in this. We'll tell you what that means.
"Children can remain on the parents' plan until 26." You know what that is.
"Lifts the tax burdens on wealthy insurers and prescription drug manufacturers." That means that employers don't have to cover you the way they did under the ACA. What does that mean? We'll discuss.
"Insurers can levy a 30 percent surcharge on premiums if coverage lapses." This is the trade on the mandate. They're saying that, if you go a certain period without coverage, you'll get a penalty, and that will replace the exigency, the pressure of the mandate that is economically and politically debatable. We'll get into it.
[06:05:13] CUOMO: So David Drucker, those on the Hill from the GOP, still division. I was talking to them last night. But they are happy because...
DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: They've got a bill finally, and can start to move on something and stop talking about something that doesn't exist. One of the reasons I think the Affordable Care Act's numbers look a lot better is because the unknown is always worse than what you know.
And let's not forget why we're here. The Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, has never really been that popular. It's been unpopular with Republicans, certainly, but the rest of the country really never caught on with this thing. They never really thought that it really worked. There are a lot of high deductibles, depending on where you live. There's care they give you that you don't need, care that you want that you feel like you can't get. And so there is a political opening here.
Notice why President Trump never talks about doing anything with Medicare. Because people like Medicare, even though there are a lot of problems. Why do they talk about repealing and replacing Obamacare? Because people wanted something done. So now the question is, can Republicans in the House come together? Can Republicans in the House and Senate come together? Trump is going to play an integral role in forging consensus here. If he doesn't do it, it won't happen.
CAMEROTA: Because that is the key challenge, right? And so already you're hearing some Republicans in the House Freedom Caucus. Here's Jim Jordan saying that he doesn't like it, basically: "I don't see any significant changes here. It's significantly the same thing to me as Obamacare, so it sort of doesn't change my position. My guess is this bill looks a lot like the last one, and we didn't like the last one."
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Every vote is going to count with this bill, particularly in the Senate. I remember the last healthcare bill, to the last minute, the court has to kick back. Ben Nelson, the last minute. So, this is something they're going to have to work -- I don't think what we're looking at right now is going to end up being the last bill.
CUOMO: You think this is a first offering?
KUCINICH: I think this is the first draft.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You know, the cornhusker is a good example about the mythology around Obamacare. That never would have...
CAMEROTA: It never went in.
TOOBIN: It was never part of the bill, but it's sort of around this sinister idea of Obamacare, that it was some -- it was some terrible thing.
CAMEROTA: Backroom deals.
TOOBIN: Backroom deals, but it wasn't a deal that -- right, a deal that was actually made. The problem here is that, as Chris's extremely good summary illustrates, this is really complicated. And you know, this is a good example of, you broke it, you own it.
CUOMO: They're betting on it being complicated.
CUOMO: The way that this is worded, Alex Burns, very interesting. When you look at it, it's worded to sell. And nit talks about things like this -- hey, there's going to be a penalty if you don't have care. That will make up for getting rid of the mandate.
They have two big problems here in terms of selling this. One, you have this division of people who will say it didn't go far enough and the people who are saying it's going too far. That's hard to deal with, politically. The second one is, is it going to be easy to criticize this, because the numbers don't work, meaning it will be more expensive and less people are going to be covered? A big problem: it's not CBO scored. What does that mean? Why should anybody care?
ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, as the debate...
CUOMO: What does that even mean, CBO scored?
BURNS: Congressional Budget Office that is responsible for telling the government the proposals that are under consideration, what they will actually cost over the long term and what effect, economically, they're going to have.
We don't have that information right now. And it means that, as the House begins marking up this legislation tomorrow and Thursday, you're going to potentially have people voting on key provisions of the bill without actually knowing...
CUOMO: The CBO has said they will not be able to score this before people start voting.
BURNS: So it means that they're going to be beginning this debate with kind of this fuse burning in the background toward the dynamite of that CBO score. And it means that, however far they get before that number comes out, the debate completely changes once that happens.
TOOBIN: We also know that this -- it's very difficult to predict exactly how this would play out. But the one thing you know for sure: this is a big tax cut for wealthy people. Period. That -- there's no doubt about that. The coverage issues are a lot more complicated to predict how they will play out. But the tax cut is beyond dispute.
CAMEROTA: OK. So rich people will like it.
TOOBIN: There you go.
CAMEROTA: But then everybody else may not like it. And you know, Chris and I talk about this all the time. The density of things, we call that the broccoli. So we've gone through the broccoli. And now there's also the emotions around it.
I mean, there's also -- you know, get beyond the wonkiness of it. And you see those town halls where people are coming out in droves to either say, "I've always hated Obamacare" or they say, "I like my coverage. Don't touch this."
KUCINICH: And those aren't going to stop. Those are just going to get more intense. This summer is going to be filled with these. It wouldn't surprise me if it's like the summer of 2010, where we saw these massive rallies, and you saw a lot of emotions and you saw a lot of stories.
CUOMO: People have to read this stuff for themselves.
KUCINICH: Of course they do.
CUOMO: One of the concerns for the citizenry here is you listen to the hype, you listen to the sales pitches and the critics, you won't know this stuff for yourself. You've got to do the homework.
CAMEROTA: All right. So here are some polls. I don't know if these tell the whole story. But in terms of the satisfaction right now with your health care. This is a new CNN/ORC poll. It shows that quality of care, 78 percent people feel satisfied with. Now that's down, of course, from 2009, which was 82 percent. But still, that's a big number.
[06:10:16] Insurance coverage, are you satisfied? Sixty-eight percent, down from 73. Out-of-pocket costs, only 46 percent are satisfied, down from 52. Cost of U.S. health care, only 14 percent satisfied, down from 23. What does that tell us?
BURNS: Well, I think that does tell us, if Republicans are going to make an aggressive and successful sales pitch on this, they would focus on the overall cost of the U.S. healthcare system and the out- of-pocket expenses. Because those are the parts of the law, the current law that people feel aren't working for them.
It is interesting. As Chris was saying, the concerns people are going to listen to the hype from one side or the other and not learn facts on their own, it's pretty remarkable that Republicans put out this legislation last night without any kind of major fanfare and sales pitch. That you had this very tepid statement from the president. You did not have the speaker of the House touring television shows last night and this morning to really make the press. It will ultimately probably come down. You know, how far they can move down to whether the president really does use the power of his office and his pulpit to bring in that hype to compensate for a lot of the substantive issues.
CUOMO: Give us the last point, and then we've got to get out of there.
DRUCKER: Keep in mind that Tom Price, the secretary of Health and Human Services, is already using the president's executive authority to unwind the Affordable Care Act. And so this legislation is coming in underneath to try and clean up everything else. It's going to come down to the politics of this, whether people feel they are going to personally be better off than they were when this started.
One of the failings of Obamacare is that there were too many people lost their plans they liked and the doctor they liked, even though they would have said the health care system itself needs to be reformed.
CAMEROTA: Panel, stick around. We have more news later.
So President Trump rolling out his revised travel ban with also very little fanfare. And while he and top aides are doubling down on his claim that Trump Tower was wiretapped by President Obama. They've not presented any evidence. FBI Director James Comey is said to be, quote, "incredulous" over the president's accusation. CNN's Joe Johns is tracking all of the latest developments, live at the White House.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. This is an unproven charge.
The president's aides and allies have been working hard to try to defend it. But the focus this morning really is on the Justice Department, which has remained silent in the face of pressure to speak out.
JOHNS (voice-over): FBI Director James Comey was, quote, "incredulous," after President Trump's weekend twitter tirade, accusing former President Obama of wiretapping his phones during the 2016 election, a person familiar with the matter told CNN.
Comey, concerned that the president's unfounded allegation would make the FBI look bad, directed staff members to reach out to the Justice Department, asking them to publicly knock down the president's story. The Justice Department's silence on the matter now frustrating Comey.
SPICER: We've only heard unsubstantiated sources make those comments. I don't think Director Comey has commented.
JOHNS: White House press secretary Sean Spicer doubling down Trump's accusation, but he, like the president, offering no proof.
SPICER: There's no question that something happened. The question is, is it -- is it surveillance, a wiretap or whatever, but there's been enough reporting that strongly suggests that something occurred.
JOHNS: As for the fate of President Trump's relationship with the FBI director...
SPICER: I haven't asked him that yet. And I think, obviously, he's focused today, first and foremost, on this -- this effort to keep the country safe.
JOHNS: Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly says he doesn't know anything about the president's charge but he, too, is backing Trump's explosive claims.
JOHN KELLY, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: If the president of the United States said it, he's got his reasons to say it. He's got some convincing evidence that that took place.
JOHNS: Meanwhile, the president is circumventing cameras for the rollout of travel ban 2.0.
REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: This revised order will bolster the security of the United States.
JOHNS: Signing his executive order behind closed doors, the White House releasing one photo. The revised 90-day ban includes six instead of seven Muslim-majority countries.
Iraq, a crucial partner in the fight against ISIS, is now off the list, after the president's advisers urged him to remove it. The order now clearly stating that current visa holders and those with a green card from the six countries can travel to the U.S., and Syrian refugees are no longer banned indefinitely.
JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: This executive order responsibly provides a needed pause we can -- so we can carefully review how we scrutinize people coming here from these countries of concern.
JOHNS: The government says other countries could be targeted by the revised travel ban in the future. The drafters also got rid of language that would have given a
religious preference to Christians, but there's still a lot of opposition to it. This new travel ban is expected to start being enforced on March 16, so we'll be watching that -- Chris and Alisyn.
[06:15:13] CUOMO: All right, Joe, appreciate it. As you just heard, Trump's homeland security secretary said the president must have convincing evidence for his wiretap claims. That's not what the FBI is saying. That's one of the topics for the panel, next.
GEN. JOHN KELLY, U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: If the president of the United States said that, he has his reasons to say that. He's got some convincing evidence that that took place.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: What possibly could that convincing evidence be?
KELLY: I don't -- I don't pretend to even guess as to what the motivation may have been to the previous administration to do something like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: That was Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, saying that President Trump must have convincing evidence to make those claims of illegal wiretapping.
Let's discuss this with our political panel. We want to bring back Jeffrey Toobin, Alex Burns, Jackie Kucinich and David Drucker. So Jeffrey, there are a whole bunch of Mr. Trump's cabinet and his top aides out yesterday, and spokespeople. And none of them could explain where Mr. Trump was getting his information that President Obama had illegally wiretapped him. Where does that leave us?
[06:20:06] TOOBIN: It leaves us with the fact that there's no evidence. And in fact, everyone who was in a position to know if such an order existed or such wiretapping existed during the Obama administration has said it doesn't exist. So, the -- the most logical interference you can draw from the evidence that came out yesterday, is that the president -- President Trump was just making this up.
CUOMO: Look, you know, we have to figure out what the right lens of analysis is on this. Because see, you heard from the former officials. They say it's not there.
But here's what I don't get. Clapper said he's unaware of anything like that. You assume he would be. Citizen Trump, candidate Trump, OK. You want to talk to your news sources, you do that. President of the United States, you worked at the DOJ. If he wants to know whether there was a FISA warrant involving him or his organization, or his people, can he just pick up the phone and find out that answer? Shouldn't John Kelly know what the answer to that question is?
TOOBIN: Not only could he pick up the phone and get the answer, he could dis -- he could declassify it on his own. The president has absolute power to declassify any information he chooses.
CUOMO: So why do you have to listen to somebody on the radio if you have the ability to know the answer yourself?
TOOBIN: Have you been following who Donald Trump is...?
CUOMO: He's the president now. He has access to things he didn't have before.
CAMEROTA: He said the evidence is going to come out, Chris.
CUOMO: A 70-year-old man. And I don't know about you but most 70- year-old men I know don't change. This is who he is. This is who we elected, and this is how he behaves.
CAMEROTA: I don't know. I was reading some conservative websites last night. And they keep coming back to the notion that we do know that President Obama's DOJ did surveil some of its perceived political enemies, such as reporter James Rosen at FOX, CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson, whose e-mails she says were read. So they -- this is what they hang onto and say this -- stuff like this was happening.
BURNS: Well, I mean, I don't think anybody questions that the Obama administration conducted extensive surveillance, including against people who were involved in sweeping investigations that involved some of their political enemies, right? But there's a huge leap between saying that and saying that the president himself ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower.
CAMEROTA: Forget the president part. If it was the Obama DOJ, and they went to a FISA court and got a FISA warrant and did tap, wiretap the servers in Trump Tower, is that so outrageous to imagine?
BURNS: Well, I guess it depends on what the information was that they would have submitted to the FISA court in order to get that application approved.
If I'm Donald Trump and I have reason to believe that there was probable cause granted by a court for surveillance of me and my associates, I'm not sure that I would be eager to get that out there. But look, I say the really important thing for us to keep coming back to here is we're talking about sort of hypotheticals within hypotheticals.
There's no evidence for this proposition. It's possible that we may get it at some point. But I do think there is this dynamic where the whole -- you know, President Trump goes out and makes one of these really sort of outlandish or unsupported claims, where the whole world tries to figure out, well, what is the set of facts or circumstances that could justify that claim? And I'm not sure that we would get any other president.
CUOMO: Right, but this one is different than five million people voted illegally or they were really celebrating after 9/11. Or any of the other ones. He's said that never justified. He could justify this one, David. That's my point in this. Is I don't know why this is a fight about whether Alex's newspaper is
the reason for this, because "The New York Times" is another thing they're circulating, saying you said this. Even though the article...
BURNS: It never said that.
CUOMO: Right. It never -- it never said FISA warrants but said that there was surveillance going on. This is the same game that was run by certain aspects of the political right with Flynn. They said Flynn was wiretapped. No, he wasn't. The Russian was wiretapped, and he got picked up on that tap. That is a meaningless distinction that he attacked blogs on the right. But it is a meaningful one when you're talking about what the facts are versus what you want them to be.
DRUCKER: Yes, look, I spoke to a number of Republicans yesterday, and I said, "What is the president doing? Is it anything different than he's always done?" And they really couldn't give me an answer. But what they said was, No. 1, the president needs an enemy. He needs to fight with somebody, because that keeps his base loyal to him.
And, No. 2, he doesn't really want to find out whether or not this happened, in their point of view. What he wants to do is inject into the discussion exactly what we're doing, which is talking now because of the president's so far baseless charge.
CUOMO: But at the cost of his own credibility and his relationship with the intelligence community, he may have to rely on them for a life or death situation.
DRUCKER: He measures his relationship with everybody and his political credibility differently than we do. And he is not -- what he wanted was a discussion of whether or not Obama or the Obama administration wiretapped people, whether it could have happened, and that's what he's getting at. He's happy.
[06:25:05] KUCINICH: But here's the thing else that is very revealing that was said during the briefing yesterday. He -- Donald Trump has called for the intelligence communities to make this a part of their investigation. That said, when asked about this yesterday, Sean Spicer said he wouldn't necessarily accept the findings of those intelligence committees if they come to find something that might not reconfirm his world view. That's very telling.
CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, the byproduct is that the intelligence community feels insulted and shunned; and how is that going to work, moving forward?
TOOBIN: One thing to keep in mind -- last time this happened a dossier came out.
There's going to be a crisis in this administration, there's going to be a military matter. There's going to be a terrorist matter. And the president is going to go on television and say, you know, "These missiles were fired and these many troops were involved." And his credibility is going to be damaged by this stuff, on things that really matter. Not self-generated crises. CAMEROTA: One more thing for you, Jeffrey. The new travel ban, the revised travel ban, is it constitutional? Will it pass legal muster?
TOOBIN: It has a much better chance. It is a much more professionally drafted document. It gets rid of some of the problems that the courts found with the other one: these special privileges for Christians, the explanation for why these countries, these six now, instead of seven, countries were targeted, because they don't have functioning systems so that we can trust the people who are coming from there. I think they are on much more solid ground.
And you saw the attorneys general, who challenged the first travel ban, taking much more cautious, we'll wait and see. We're going to evaluate it. So it's a very different legal situation than the first travel ban.
CAMEROTA: There you go. Panel, thank you very much.
CUOMO: All right. Up next, growing tensions between North Korea and Malaysia because of this murder of Kim Jong-un's half-brother. And were U.S. military bases in Japan, what the North Koreans were trying to reach with that missile launch? We have new details for you next.