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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Health Care Battle; Winter Storm Targets East Coast; Interview With New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired March 13, 2017 - 16:30   ET

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


[16:30:04]

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: And that is broader than the intelligence elements, broader than the whole issue of our elections. It's a whole host of issues. And I think a 9/11 independent-type commission should do it.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: And, lastly, sir, I would be remiss if I didn't ask one of the only four Latinos in the Senate about the tweet and comments made by Congressman Steve King, Republican of Iowa.

He tweeted having something to do with a European election -- quote -- "Culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies." And then he seemed to double down on that sentiment in an interview with CNN. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: Of course I meant exactly what I said, as always is the case. If you go down the road a few generations or maybe centuries with the intermarriage, I would like to see an America that's just so homogeneous that we look a lot of same from that perspective.

This Western civilization is a superior civilization, and we want to share it with everybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: What do you think, sir?

MENENDEZ: Yes, I think it's pretty despicable.

Look, Steve King is the leader of the make America white again movement. And the reality is, I guess somebody else's baby is someone like me, who was born in the United States from parents who fled Cuba and came to the greatest country in the world.

The greatest experiment in the history of mankind is the United States of America. And part of that great experiment, part of American exceptionalism is the great diversity of people who have come to this country, fully embraced America, fully embraced its values and ideals, and ultimately contributed enormously, entrepreneurship, innovation, Nobel Prizes won. So, Steve King just is from a Cro-Magnon period of time.

TAPPER: Senator Menendez, thank you so much. Appreciate your time, sir.

MENENDEZ: Thank you.

TAPPER: More on Congressman King's tweets coming up with my panel. Democrats are not the only ones criticizing him. Republicans are as well. That's next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:36:04]

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD, sticking with politics right now.

We got lots to talk about with the panel. Let's dive right in.

Gentlemen, lady, thanks for being here.

The CBO report, the Congressional Budget Office, nonpartisan group, of the Republican health care plan, these are some of the headlines, 14 million more uninsured by 2018, 24 million more uninsured by 2026. This is all compared to what would happen if Obamacare stayed.

And then a budget savings, deficit savings, $337 billion.

Bill, these numbers appear to be worse than what I think Republicans were bracing for.

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Yes, I think they are worse.

I think the key is the 14 million who CBO projects will not be on insurance additional who won't have insurance next year. That's next year, 2018. That's nothing to do with Medicaid.

The interesting question to me is how many of those 14 people are young people who didn't want to buy insurance, were forced by Obamacare to buy insurance by the mandate, and they're now going to have insurance, and they're not too worried about it, and they can always get it at the end of the day if they get sick and so forth?

And how many of them are older people who got bigger subsidies under Obamacare than they get through the tax credits? If that older people number, that people who are helped more by Obamacare than by the tax credits, is a larger number, those are voters, those are often Republican voters.

If some appreciable number of that -- percentage of that 14 million are those people, I think an awful lot of Republican congressmen and senators are going to get pretty queasy. TAPPER: And that's one of the reasons, Olivier, why the refundable

tax credit was given disproportionately to older people and it wasn't even means-tested.

OLIVIER KNOX, YAHOO! NEWS: That's right.

And if you look at the CBO report -- I only had a chance to glance through it -- but earlier this month, the AARP said, warned that in fact older people, people in their 50s would be in for four-figure premium increases.

Obviously, that's a politically problematic number that goes back to what Bill was talking about, that if older people, Trump voters and the rest are hurt by the bill, that will be enormously difficult for Republicans in Congress and for the White House frankly to just sit by.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And to Republican governors.

And Republican governors is another aspect of this. But I would also say another number was 21 million in 2020. That's in another election year that Trump will be looking at that number, frankly, if he runs for reelection, which we think he will.

Again, we're talking about very basic electoral politics. If people don't feel like they're being covered anymore and they are dropped from their health care, that will be a problem for the party in charge.

(CROSSTALK)

KRISTOL: Jackie mentioned Donald Trump. I think he is the key exogenous variable here.

The Republican members of Congress, I talked to a lot of them in the last week. They sort of have a lot of stake in it. They will go along with leadership, if they at all can, on the first -- Donald Trump is the guy who is sitting there in the White House thinking, wait a second, I have had a pretty good run on the economy.

The stock market is up, what, 15 percent since I took over. Good jobs numbers. He's deregulating various things. People like that in the job creating world. Can't I just ride that horse for a while? Why am I in them middle of this health care thing that is so complicated? We're getting beaten up. And my voters are now going to get penalized.

I really wonder whether the next shoe to drop isn't Trump saying, let's slow down here, let's take our time, let's take a fresh look at some of this.

KNOX: And it highlights the disconnect between Paul Ryan, who says this is the bill, it's this or nothing, and Donald Trump, who calls it a big, beautiful negotiation. Those are not compatible views.

TAPPER: Right. And also I might point out also that President Trump has been

reluctant to call this Trumpcare. This is not a man who is averse to putting his name on things. The moment he is fully behind it is the moment he starts calling it Trumpcare.

I don't know. He's going to look at this. Remember what he promised to "60 Minutes"? Everyone is going to have health insurance and if you can't afford it, the government is going to pay for it. That isn't what this is.

KUCINICH: It could actually turn into, if you like your doctor, you can keep it.

We heard Tom Price do a version of that, saying no one will -- few people will be hurt financially by this bill.

TAPPER: He said no one will be worse off financially in the process we are going through.

KUCINICH: How can you possibly make that promise?

That's something that we're going to hear over and over again in those midterms and possibly in a general election if this does go south.

TAPPER: That's the if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor of the Trump administration.

KUCINICH: Absolutely.

TAPPER: Bill, Olivier, Jackie, thank you so much. Great to have you here.

Be sure to tune into CNN tonight. Fareed Zakaria hosts a special report about the most powerful man in the world. Unfortunately, it's a profile of Vladimir Putin. That's tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

[16:40:03]

One hundred million people in the path of a late winter blizzard. Some areas could see almost two feet of snow -- the impact this is already having before the first flake even falls.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: We're back with today's national lead, a dangerous winter storm set to bury the Northeast in a matter of just hours.

New York City is bustling right now, but officials there are warning everyone to steer to streets -- to clear the streets tonight as that city braces for a blizzard.

Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered all schools closed tomorrow. In fact, New York all the way up to New England could get whiteout conditions. Points south down to the D.C. area could also get a significant amount of snowfall.

The Midwest is right now getting its own round of snow, but forecasters say what is happening there is nothing compared to what is to come when that system collides with another one tonight, which will affect the East Coast.

Let's go to CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray. She's in the Severe Weather Center.

And, Jennifer, it's not just the snow, but this intense wind

1645

[16:45:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN THE LEAD ANCHOR: - forecasters say what's happening there has nothing compared to what will come when that system collides with another one tonight which will affect the east coast. Let's go to CNN Meteorologist Jennifer Gray, she's in the Severe Weather Center. And Jennifer, it's not just the snow, but this intense wind that will make the storm so dangerous, right?

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You're right, Jake. You know, were going to have winds anywhere from 55 to 60 miles per hour. And that's going to be in a lot of the major cities, New York City, Boston could see those. So this is Tuesday afternoon. You can see 34-mile-per- hour winds. Close to 50 in Boston by the time we get to 3:00 p.m., 62-mile-per-hour winds in Boston, 32 in New York. We get Montauk 60 miles per hour. And then gusting up to 50 for Boston all the way through the evening hours.

So we are going to see the potential for downed trees, power lines, things of that nature. And so here is your winter storm threat. Here are the winter warnings as well as those blizzard warnings. I want to zoom in on these because they're very close to the Boston metro as well as Philadelphia. So some of the northern sides of the metro area of Boston will be included in that blizzard warning as well as Philly. Of course, it does include New York and parts of Long Island as well. And so, let's take this into the future. As we go forward in time, it's going to - that storm in the mid-west is going to combine with a coastal low and basically produce this nor'easter and blizzard-like conditions.

So this is Tuesday morning. You can see getting into New York City. And then as we move forward in time, getting into Boston around 8:00, 9:00. And then we will be in it for about 12 hours straight for New York City as well as Boston. Let's looks on the floor, though, because I want to show the potential for snowfall totals. D.C. could see anywhere from say 2 to 5 inches of snowfall. As we go up to New York City, we could look anywhere from 18 to 20 inches of snow and then up in Boston we could see 12 to 14 inches. Of course, this forecast is fluid. Ever-changing. Some of the models still disagreeing a little bit. But Jake, our best estimate as far as snowfall totals for the northeast.

TAPPER: All right. Meteorologist Jennifer Gray, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, the widespread impact of the blizzard is already having on travel across the country. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:50:00] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Now the "MONEY LEAD." That monster snowstorm now stalling the much of the travel industry across the country. Some 1,500 flights are already grounded with even more already canceled for tomorrow. Let's go to CNN'S Rene Marsh at Reagan National Airport right outside the nation's capital. And Rene the airports - I mean, the airlines -- they're really being proactive here, hoping to avoid crowds stranded at airports tomorrow I guess.

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're absolutely right. The scene they do not want is that scene of that passenger who is stranded and sleeping in the airport. They don't want that. So what the airlines are doing is, they're getting ahead of the storm, they are canceling flights way before even the first sight of snow. So we know tomorrow, four times as many flights are canceled than we are seeing so far today. More than 4,700 canceled. And lots of people trying to get out before that storm actually hits the Northeast. Again, more than 4,000 flights canceled for tomorrow already. Compare that to an average day where you see about 125 cancelations.

We do know that some of the hardest hit airports are going to be the three airports in New York City as well as Philadelphia and Boston, Logan airport will be hit pretty hard as well. And of course, these storms means big costs for not only the airlines because it costs an airline about $6,000 just to cancel one flight, but it also costs the passengers. To the tune of tens of thousands of dollars because now they're dealing with additional lodging, additional meals. So costly all around, Jake. We do also know, if you are going by rail, you'll also run into some issues as well tomorrow with this storm. Amtrak telling us that they are canceling Acela service between New York City and Boston for Tuesday and they're modifying service between New York City and Washington, D.C.

TAPPER: All right. Rene Marsh at Reagan National Airport. Thank you so much.

His face shocked the word. A little boy dazed and bleeding after being pulled from the rubble in Syria. But it turns out his story of course is not unique. A grim record for the youngest victims in war- torn Syria. That story next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:00] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD, I'm Jake Tapper. Topping our "WORLD LEAD," 2016 has been deemed the worst year on record for the suffering of Syrian children. According to a new report from the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund or UNICEF. Nearly 6 million Syrian kids are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. More than two million have fled their homes. At least 650 children were killed last year. That's a 20 percent spike from 2015. And more than 850 have been recruited to take up arms, some forced to serve as executioners, some forced to serve as suicide bombers. This Grim Statistics are painful and powerful reminder that the six-year-old civil war in Syria has no end in sight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: The numbers are horrific. The photographs, heartbreaking. And UNICEF says, its new report only accounts for part of the plight of Syrian children. Many more families are suffering in inaccessible areas far from cameras and the aid they desperately need. According to UNICEF, more than a quarter million Syrian children are currently living under siege. Those who survive the near constant bombings risk disease and malnutrition, but they remain resilient. Some teachers have transformed caves into make-shift classrooms. 255 school children killed in or near a school last year. Still, 12,600 students crossed active conflict zones in Syria to take their final exams.

16-year-old Maya told UNICEF, quote, "my dream is to become a journalist so I can talk to people and ask about their suffering." Maya is just one of many young people fighting for a life beyond Syria's desperate reality.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Someday we're all going to be asked, what did we do to stop all that? Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @jaketapper or tweet the show (at) theleadcnn. That's it for THE LEAD, I'm Jake Tapper. I'll now turn you over to the one Mr. Wolf Blitzer, he's next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.