Return to Transcripts main page


CBO: 24 Million Fewer Insured By 2026 Under GOP Health Plan; Storm Could Bring White-Out Conditions, Wind Gusts; Connecticut Under Blizzard Warning Until 8PM. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired March 14, 2017 - 9:00   ET


[09:00:00] (APPLAUSE)

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: There you are on "Late Night."

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: You know, you got those laugh or cry moments going on here on a regular basis.

Were you a gadget girl or not?

HARLOW: Of course.

CUOMO: Yes, you did?

HARLOW: Gadget Gidget.

CUOMO: Gadget Gidget?

HARLOW: There you go. Time to go to the real Inspector Gadget. Time for NEWSROOM with John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Inspector Gadget. I love that. All right.

CUOMO: High praise.

BERMAN: Indeed. Poppy Harlow, Chris Cuomo, thank you so much. Let's get right at it.

Good morning, everyone. I am John Berman. Thanks so much for joining us.

The breaking news, it's not Christmas. Yes, the weather outside stinks but it doesn't stink quite as much as we thought it would. Just a few minutes ago, blizzard warnings were lifted for New York City, an upgrade from seriously awful to just mildly wretched.

Nearly 8,000 flights are cancelled into tomorrow. That number keeps on growing. Thousands of schools are closed. The worst, though, yet to come.

Why? We're looking at some seriously high winds and maybe some black ice on the roads over thousands of miles.

This as new reaction pours into the pretty stunning report from the Congressional Budget Office that 24 million fewer Americans will have insurance under the new Republican health care bill. But let's talk about the weather first.

Chad Myers, CNN's chief meteorologist, out in Central Park here in New York to give us a sense of what we just learned. That, maybe, Chad, we might be spared at least a little.

CHAD MYERS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: The reason why they took down the blizzard warning, John, is because the snow is not fluffy anymore. It has turned into a sleet, heavy snow mix. And for a blizzard, you need light snow blowing around.

So we lost the blizzard. We did not lose the amount of snow that's going to come down when you pack it down into water. About two inches of liquid water will come down in the city anyway; it just won't be 20 inches deep worth of snow. It may be closer to eight to 10 because of how we're mixing this in.

Let me kind of spin you around here. Follow me through, and I think we're probably -- we're up to my boots, so I don't know. That's got to be seven inches of snow.

But back out here, John, they're not salting the roads. They are just plowing them because, if they don't salt them, then they can take this stuff and put it in the Hudson River and get rid of it. If they salt it, then you're polluting the river and they don't want to do that. So that's why they're just scraping it, moving it around.

And later on tonight, we're going to get back down to 20. And after all of this is said and done, this then, again, will be that black ice situation you said or just big chunky ice. Because, even though we're 30, 32 degrees right now, the sleet coming down, and even sometimes rain mixing in, is very wet, and it's going to refreeze at 20 degrees.

Now, let's take and back you up all the way to New England and to upstate New York and to western Pennsylvania, central Pennsylvania, the Poconos, all the way down into parts of Maryland. No sleet mixing in. It's going to be all snow, and those are the areas that are still going to get 24 inches of snow. Those are the areas that are still going to get the blizzard. Still 14.9 million people in the blizzard warning right now, just not metro New York City.

BERMAN: Yes. But metro New York City, not the only place on earth, Chad Myers.

MYERS: Correct.

BERMAN: Fifteen million people in the middle of a blizzard, that's an awful lot. Thanks so much, Chad. Appreciate it.

Joining me via phone -- the place is really is the center of the universe -- Boston, Massachusetts. I'm joined by the Mayor of Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh. There is a snow emergency in effect in that city.

Mr. Mayor, thanks so much for joining us. Give us a sense of what you're seeing right now besides just white.

MAYOR MARTY WALSH, BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS (via phone): Right now, it really hasn't started snowing too bad here in Boston yet. We've been pretreating our roads all morning, so we're preparing for the snow. And then by 10:00, this is going to pick up here, so we will have plows out all day long.

And we have a snow emergency in Boston, so we're asking people to stay off the main thoroughfares and no parking on the main streets and kind of keep an eye out for each other and neighbors, as we begin the shoveling. As the scene gets here, we'll do a full snow removal process all day.

BERMAN: So Mother Nature seems to have it out for you, Mr. Mayor. Ever since you became Mayor of Boston, you've been hit by some serious snowstorms, winter after winter. This one's a little bit different in that it's right in the middle of the week. Why does that make things harder?

WALSH (via phone): You know, it's more complicated because of work and school. You know, when we had the snow in 2015, it seemed it was happening on the weekends. And, you know, maybe it's the plan.

This case here, we're getting it on a Tuesday. You know, we're not sure about school tomorrow yet. We have to see how, when, and if this turns to rain and what it looks like. So it makes things a lot more complicated when it's in the middle of the week.

I think if you're working and you can take the day off, it's great for you. But when you're the Mayor of Boston, it's a whole different ball game now.

BERMAN: Not so great for you, huh? Listen, you suggested people maybe, if they can, take the day off. They should. School is closed in Boston today. What is your message to the people of Boston?

[09:05:02] WALSH (via phone): Yes. My message is to check on your neighbors, your elderly neighbors, anybody who's housebound. In Boston, if you see any emergencies, we're asking people to call 911. Homeless folks that might be under dressed or seemed a little out of sorts and also for minor emergencies, we're asking people to call 311.

And just be patient. This is a storm that's going to snow two or three inches an hour, so a plow will go down your street and a half hour later, it looks like your street hasn't been touched. So we will be out there plowing, we're just asking people to be patient and work with each other.

BERMAN: So, Mr. Mayor, I know you've been concentrating on the storm for the last 24 hours. But within that period of time, there's been some big news from the Washington, from the Congressional Budget Office, which said that, if this Republican plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare becomes law, 24 million fewer Americans could have health insurance within 10 years.

You've been an outspoken opponent to the Republican plan. What's your reaction right now to the news from the CBO?

WALSH (via phone): Well, this doesn't really seem like a repeal and replace. It feels like a repeal. You know, the amount of Americans that, over the course of the next five, six, seven years are going to off health insurance is concerning to me.

It's concerning on a whole host of levels, in making sure that Americans have health insurance. And the details are very unclear about pre-existing conditions and prescription drugs for seniors and young people in health care.

I think that, you know, this repeal could do a lot of damage to the American economy. Certainly, cities and towns all across America, small community hospitals should be concerned about this. You know, the Affordable Care Act saved some of these hospitals. And you know, we're working on the system.

There is an ability here, I think, or Congress has an ability to strengthen the law and make it more efficient. But clearly, their first shot at this has not been beneficial. It does completely the opposite of what they're saying. This is an outright repeal, and I think that, you know, they need to go back and do the job they got elected to do and represent the American people.

BERMAN: All right. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, we'll let you get back to the snow and dealing with the roads there. Thanks so much for being with us, sir.

WALSH (via phone): Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, you just heard it right there. Metaphor alert, there's a blizzard outside and now storm clouds now hanging over the Republican plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

The Congressional Budget Office predicted 24 million more Americans will be without insurance by 2026 if this becomes law. The nonpartisan agency says that 14 million more would be uninsured next year alone.

Today, the President is expected to hold phone calls with the CEO of Anthem, a big health care company, also House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Also getting attention, the request by the Justice Department to have more time to gather evidence. This on the President's evidence-free claims that he was wiretapped by President Obama. I want to bring you CNN's Senior Washington Correspondent Joe Johns.

Joe, it hasn't even been 24 hours yet since that CBO report. What's the reaction from the White House?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: John, the White House continues to attack the credibility of the Congressional Budget Office and the accuracy of that estimate, especially that seemingly devastating top line number suggesting that next year, 14 million people would lose coverage; over the course of 10 years, something like 24 million people losing coverage. The White House continuing to assert that this new estimate is not a body blow to efforts to repeal and replace ObamaCare. And appearing on CNN this morning, Mick Mulvaney, the White House

Budget Director, also taking issue with the notion that they're in damage control mode. Listen.


MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: I'll say that again. The CBO is assuming, if you get Medicaid, once the mandate is gone, you will give up your free Medicaid and replace it with nothing. The CBO report is full of errors -- not errors, they're just bad assumptions like that. It's the only way you can get to these bizarre numbers.

So I don't think it's damage control as much as laying out to people exactly what we thought would happen. The CBO doesn't do a very good job at counting coverage.


JOHNS: Unraveling that just a little bit, drops in Medicaid coverage are definitely a factor in this estimate. But the estimate also suggested that the immediate problem will be the loss in penalties for not having coverage and people will simply just stop paying for their insurance. So this is a big problem, John, for the White House, especially because the President of the United States himself said everybody was going to be covered under this plan.

BERMAN: Insurance for everybody is what he said, Joe Johns. On another front, the House Intelligence Committee had asked for evidence from the Justice Department by yesterday to back up the President's claims that he was wiretapped by President Obama. Now, the Department of Justice says, we need more time. What's is going on here?

JOHNS: Well, number one, they say they need to look at the underlying law. And number two, they say they need more time to try to assemble any documents that would be responsive to the request on Capitol Hill.

[09:10:06] Difficult problem for them, of course, because there are a lot of people, including a former Director of National Intelligence, who said that simply didn't happen, at least this wiretapping claim as the President suggested. All of this could be resolved next week when top officials from the Justice Department and FBI appear on Capitol Hill and get hit with the very same questions, John.

BERMAN: No, exactly. The FBI Director, James Comey, will be up there. I expect he'll be asked flat out, were there wiretaps or not? We will see if he answers yes or no. Joe Johns at the White House, great to have you with us. Thank you so much.

This health care bill proposed by the Republicans to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Now we have the report from the Congressional Budget Office. And now we have new reaction from both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill.

Remember, this bill will need to get through both the House and the Senate before it gets to the President's desk. CNN's Sunlen Serfaty on Capitol Hill with the very latest.


SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, the CBO score has certainly emboldened many Democrats up here on Capitol Hill. Many feeling like they are back on the offensive after the score was released yesterday. And certainly, they're trying to stay on the offensive and capitalize on this moment, especially as there are wider divisions emerging among Republicans up here over this bill.

We'll see Nancy Pelosi in the next hour, and this will be her second press conference in 16 hours since the CBO score was first released. We saw her yesterday blast the CBO report, saying this is proof that House Republicans should pull their bill. Of course, not something that they're willing to do.

She said all this spin coming from Republicans is just them trying to pin a rose on all of this to make it look good. And she'll be joined today, as she was yesterday, by Senator Schumer, who, potentially, faces this bill if it gets through the House over on his side in the Senate.

And it's interesting. Of course, Senate Democrats are against the bill but some moderate Senate Republicans really speaking out in the aftermath of the CBO report. We heard from Senator Collins yesterday, who says changes must be made to this bill before it can potentially pass over here in the Senate. Other Republicans taking a wait and see approach.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I don't think it's good news, even if it's half right. I think the responsible thing would be to look at the CBO report, and can we find ways to deal with the issue they have raised?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think my constituents are much more worried about the Medicaid aspect. My state was one of those that expanded the coverage of Medicaid, as you know. And this proposal that's working its way through the House has significant effects on Arizona, but I want to wait and see what the final product is.


SERFATY: Now, there will be a lot of moving parts on all of this up here on Capitol Hill this week. You have Speaker Ryan hopping on the phone with President Trump and the House Majority Leader later today. Then Vice President Pence, later this afternoon, will be up here to huddle with Senate Republicans.

Then on Thursday, you have the House Budget Committee who will be marking up their portion of the bill. That is the last step, John, until it potentially gets to a full House vote. Speaker Ryan wants that by, potentially, late next week -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Sunlen Serfaty for us on Capitol Hill. Sunlen mentioned Nancy Pelosi will have hold a news conference in a

little bit less than an hour. This is her second news conference in less than 18 hours. You might see a third and fourth depending on how the Democrats feel about this Republican plan and the CBO report going forward.

Sunlen Serfaty, thank you so much. We're going to have much more on the big political news all morning, that CBO, oh-oh, report. What do Republicans do now that the Congressional Budget Office says that 24 million fewer Americans will be uninsured or 24 million fewer Americans will be under insured under that plan? We're going to break down the numbers.

Plus, where is the proof? Lawmakers demanding evidence for the President's claim that he was wiretapped. The administration says it needs more time. Maybe it's looking for more quotation marks?



BERMAN: This morning, Republicans are scrambling to either attack the new CBO numbers on health care or suggest they are not so bad. The non-partisan agency predicts that 24 million more Americans will be without insurance by 2026 if this becomes law.

I want to bring in CNN's chief business correspondent, Christine Romans, star of "EARLY START." Ms. Romans, let's start with premiums.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Look, the CBO is meant to guide the discussion, right, a non-partisan analysis of what's before the Congress to guide the discussion. So let's just get away to the politics and stick with what we see here.

On the premiums, near term, a spike in premiums, 15 to 20 percent higher, but longer term by 2026, that's a good number, 10 percent lower premiums in the individual marketplace, but it's not all created equal. That's on average, John.

So let's dig into the effect on premiums depending on who you are. Lower for a 21-year-old, obviously. This is legislation that is designed, you should not have to pay more under this legislation if you are young person and healthy.

Lower for a 40 year old and higher for a 64 year old, considerably higher, how much higher, look at this analysis. Under Obamacare, a 64-year-old making $26,500 a year would have to pay $1,700 because of the way the subsidies are built.

Under the GOP plan, about half your income to pay for health care. That particular demographic I think is going to be a sticky point for selling this.

BERMAN: A lot of Trump voters in that demographic, it would be a big problem for them. All right, let's talk about the uninsured. ROMANS: OK, so I don't think there's really a surprise here that there will be people who would either leave insurance voluntarily or would lose insurance. We're talking 14 million people by the year 2018, according to the Congressional Budget Office, 21 million people by 2020, and 24 million more people by 2026.

[09:20:05]One of the big reasons here, if you don't have penalties anymore, if are not getting dinged in your taxes, right, for not buying insurance, you may walk away and not buy insurance altogether especially young people.

BERMAN: All right, markets, how are they reacting so far to all of this?

ROMANS: You know, markets I think are kind of blas'e about this. They really have had a pause in the past few days. They are waiting for more details on the president's tax reform, quite frankly. They are still watching and waiting for the fed to be done. The fed is starting a two-day meeting here. So you had strong jobs numbers that people think are going to all the fed to raise interest rates and that will come tomorrow.

BERMAN: One of the things I am interested in is how the markets will react if it doesn't get through, right?

ROMANS: What it says about the president's agenda, what it says about the legislative agenda, and whether all of these big grandiose projects like infrastructure and tax reform will be able to get through quickly.

You know, Steven Minutia and the Treasury secretary said, John, that he would like to have tax reform ready by the August recess, and a lot of folks who I talked to inside the beltway now are saying maybe they would try to do corporate tax reform first and then tax reform for regular Americans.

That I think is politically problematic. If you repeal Obamacare and then the biggest benefit right away goes to rich people who get tax cuts and then do tax cuts for business, what are the optics of that?

BERMAN: Interesting. All right, Christine Romans, great to have you. Thank you so much.

All right, the nutmeg state says nuts. Connecticut bracing for snow along with coastal flooding and heavy winds. We will talk to the governor as he tries to dig out.



BERMAN: In the northeast about 18 million people now under a blizzard warning. The initial forecast of up to two feet being revised here in New York City here, but it still pretty ugly. Not ugly at all, CNN's meteorologist, Chad Myers live in Central Park. Chad, what are you seeing? CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Wow, was that a transition. I am seeing sleet now, and John, that's the reason why the snow is not going to pileup as much. Every one of these sleet balls should have been a snowflake, and that's what piles up nice and high and fluffy and you can make snowmen out of it.

This has now turn into a sleet storm because about 3,000 feet in the sky, there's a layer of air that is above 32. As the snowflakes try to gently come down they get into the area above 32 and melt. Now down here it's 30, so by the time those little rain balls come down here they are sleet balls and not snowflakes.

We lose the transition all the way from what should be about 10,000 feet up cold and should stay cold to make snow. We don't have that. That is good news because we are not going to pile the snow up, but it's not good news when you talk about the weight of what you still have to move.

This is still going to be 10 pounds per square foot, for every square foot you have to shovel. Now that's here in New York City. Boston will get about 8 inches of snow and then that's going ot change over to rain.

Connecticut, a little bit of rain along the coast, but then all snow for Hartford and even toward Providence back out towards the Catskills, and the Adirondacks, all snow, probably, John, two feet of snow there and no sleet pellets mixing in. Back to you.

BERMAN: All right, Chad Myers, appreciate your time.

In Connecticut, a travel ban is in effect as they brace for one or two feet of snow. You were listening to Chad Meyers there. Joining us now on the phone is the governor of Connecticut, Dan Malloy. Mr. Governor, thank you so much for being with us.

You know, you don't mess around in Connecticut. You've already shut down the roads and there's a travel ban in place. Why do you go to such high measures right away?

GOVERNOR DAN MALLOY, CONNECTICUT (via telephone): You know, listen, the forecast yesterday was that we could expect up to six inches an hour. You have six inches of snow on a highway there's an accident and all of a sudden you have a parking lot and the parking lot gets filled with snow and it takes you a much longer time to dig out and get back to normal.

I would rather interrupt a day and be normal tomorrow than to have that kind of occurrence. We also have, you know, have had great experience -- or some tough experience, I might add, and we had Irene which was a hurricane and we had Super Storm Sandy.

We actually had a snowfall in October back in '11 that took electricity out for 8 to 11 days in parts of our state. So we drill on this. People honoring what we are telling them told to do to a very great extent and allows us to stay on top of the problems.

BERMAN: All right, so far how do things look for you today?

MALLOY: So far we are doing OK. You know, I've made an official declaration that this is brownie Tuesday, stay home and cook or read a book and people are complying. I think people want to be safe. This is a heavy snow in the sense of the weight of it so we certainly are advising people if you are cleaning your own walkways or steps to do it a little bit at a time or to break it up.

But, you know, so far so good. We have very few accidents to report, in part because we have very few cars and trucks on the highway. We certainly understand that essential folks, the pharmacist, the doctors, the nurse, technician, they all have their jobs and we make exceptions for the camera crews, but everybody else stay off the roads.

BERMAN: Bring brownies to the camera crews, that's my advice. Governor, I know you've been focused on the storm, but I do want to ask you about politics and the report from the Congressional Budget Office.

They predict that if the Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare becomes law that 24 million fewer Americans will have insurance in 10 years. You have been critical of the Republican plan from the beginning even before it was announced. I want to get your reaction to this news?

MALLOY: There's no replacement to this repeal. I mean, that's the reality of -- they are not telling the truth. This analysis by an independent body headed by a Republican appointee is telling the truth that 24 million people will lose their coverage.