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CBO Health Plan Report; Downplaying CBO Report; Breitbart Posts Ryan Audio. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired March 14, 2017 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] GOV. DAN MALLOY (D), CONNECTICUT (via telephone): They're not - they're not telling the truth. And this analysis by an independent body headed by a Republican appointee is telling the truth, that 24 million people will lose their coverage. If you're over 60, your coverage will cost you $10,000 more, certainly $8,000 to $10,000 depending on what part of the country you're living in. So they're going after senior citizens in a big way. I - that's a problem.

You know, this is - they're going to switch a lot of costs to states. I love when Republicans in Washington say, well, we're not going to cut any programs. Well, of course they're cutting programs.


MALLOY: They're going to send my state at least a billion dollars less in a few years' time and then they'll say, oh, but we didn't cut the coverage, the governor or the legislature cut the coverage. You know, the citizens of the United States understand B.S. when they hear it and they've been hearing a lot of it.

BERMAN: Well, governor, there is - are other numbers besides just the number of uninsured in this report also. It does suggest that in 10 years premiums will go down 10 percent. I mean premium relief is something that American and people of Connecticut could use.

MALLOY: Wait, wait, just stop right there. Stop right there.

BERMAN: Go ahead.

MALLOY: They're - for a senior citizen, for people over 60, your coverage under this plan will be $8,000 to $10,000 a year more than it currently is. So when you say it will go down, sure, it will go down for a 23-year-old or a 24-year-old or a 26-year-old, even a 30-year- old, but once that population - your portion of the population is aging, just imagine, if you're 55 now, you can count on your coverage being $8,000 to $10,000 more expensive. This does not save money in the long run for very large segments of our population.

And when you talk about eliminating Medicaid, what you're really talking about is sending people to emergency rooms. What you're really talking about is not discovering the cancer when it's treatable or other maladies that affect people. In the long run, that will add again to the expense. Let me tell you our experience in Connecticut. We have actually cut our Medicaid expense per person over the last three years. Now, it's true that we insure more people under Medicaid. But because this system was working, because it is working, we're actually saving on a per person basis.

Now, what are we doing? They want to - they want to cut these programs. They want to gut these programs so they can give rich people big tax breaks. That's what this pain is about. That's what this suffering will be about. That's why they're asking 60-year-olds and older to pay $8,000 to $10,000 more than they're currently paying under Obamacare. Trumpcare is bad for your health.

BERMAN: Governor Dan Malloy, I appreciate your passion on this. And you are correct, that the premium increases and decreases are dispersed over different ages in different ways. Overall, a 10 percent decrease after 10 years. So says the CBO. Whether or not that's worth it, that is an argument that I anticipate you making quite loudly in the days and weeks ahead.

MALLOY: But - but -

BERMAN: No, no, I'm not - I'm not - I'm must making it clear that it does say 10 percent.

MALLOY: No, but you're ignoring Medicaid. You're - you're - you're purposefully ignoring - ignoring what they're going do to Medicaid.

BERMAN: I'm not ignoring it. I'm not - I'm just saying what the - I'm not. I'm not. We could talk about Medicaid as a separate issue in the CBO report. They absolutely say that people will be dropped - or will leave the Medicaid rolls. Many - more - you know, more than 10 percent.

MALLOY: Well, you know what, if you take 26 million people out of coverage, and guess what, it gets cheaper. And you know what you do with that money? You give it to rich people and make them wealthier. That's what they're doing. And to call it anything but that is unfair to the 26 million people who will lose coverage under this plan.

BERMAN: As I said, I'm not arguing one way or the other, I'm merely stating what is in the CBO report. And I do anticipate you will continue to make the argument you are making right now, and the American people will have to make some choices.

Governor Dan Malloy, great to have you with us. Stay warm today.

MALLOY: Take care.

BERMAN: All right, a winter blast in Washington, D.C., but you might say the Democrats - you just heard it right there from Governor Dan Malloy in Connecticut - has a spring in his step after the Congressional Budget Office report on the Republican health care plan.

Plus, the White House all of a sudden now walking back President Trump's claims that he was wiretapped by President Obama. The importance of quotation marks. What does that mean?


[09:38:35] BERMAN: All right, when weather imitates reality and maybe art for all I know. Washington, D.C. getting a winter wallop. Two mayor storms raging inside the Capitol.

First, the Congressional Budget Office delivering a - delivering a blow to the Republican health care bill, and, second, the Justice Department is asking for more time now to gather evidence to support the president's claims that he was wiretapped by former President Obama.

With me now, Jackie Kucinich, CNN political analyst, Washington bureau chief for "The Daily Beast," David Swerdlick, CNN political commentator, assistant editor at "The Washington Post," and Matt Lewis, CNN political commentator, senior columnist at "The Daily Beast."

Friends, if I can get a show of hands from you to start off here, do any of you think that the CBO report makes it an easier sell to Congress right now? Raise your hand if this is an easier plan to sell. OK, we will note that no hands are now raised. So, Matt Lewis, the question then becomes, what does Paul Ryan do now? You have this big, giant glaring number, 24 million people will be - more people will be uninsured in ten years. How does he sell this?

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think the way that he sells it is, remember, in the House, you just need to get Republicans to vote for it. And especially with this bill, which is part of reconciliation, they're going to need 50 Republicans in the Senate. So even though I think this is a bad bill and even though I think the CBO report is very bad news for them, the way that Paul Ryan sells this in the House is to say, look, you guys said you wanted to repeal Obamacare. You promised you were going to repeal Obamacare. This is the bill, warts and all.

[09:40:13] Now, where the CBO becomes a much more dangerous thing and I think is in the Senate. But in the House, Paul Ryan, I think he can - I think he can pass this.

BERMAN: Yes or no, can this bill get through the Senate?

LEWIS: It's going to be incredibly -

BERMAN: Yes or no?

LEWIS: I - I vote no.

BERMAN: All right, Jackie Kucinich, we're getting mixed messages now from Republicans. The speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, says he's encouraged by the CBO report. It does say it will reduce the deficit by over $300 billion, which is a lot of money. It says it will reduce premiums after 10 years by 10 percent, which is not insignificant. So he says he's encouraged by it. The White House says they disagree strenuously. So can both things be true in terms of messaging? If you're hearing that - if you're a Republican on the fence in the Senate, you're hearing disastrous report, untrue from the White House, and encourage from Paul Ryan, what are you supposed to think?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I think even - another thing you're hearing from the White House is that this is still up for negotiation. They haven't taken some of the things that conservatives want, like - like freezing the Medicaid expansion in 2018 off the table. They've - they've signaled that this is still something to negotiate.

And, listen, I think this is actually - because of the reaction of the Senate, this is harder if you are in a district that might be on the cusp and you're a Republican in the House, because you're being asked to walk the plank on a bill that could be DOA in the Senate. So you kind of just threw a vote away and are going to be putting yourself out there for something that might never become law. So - and we saw that with Democrats when they lost the majority. And I'm not saying they're quite there yet, but if you're someone who's trying to weigh all the pros and cons of this, there's a lot more cons at this point if you're not sure about this bill.

BERMAN: You know, David, I'm going to talk to Mo Brooks who, you know, on the Freedom Caucus, who last week told me this bill was a lump of coal, it was the biggest Republican welfare plan ever proposed. But now I'm going to talk to him next hour and I'm going to ask him, $300 billion, you know, off the deficit, that's a lot. You know, a 10 percent premium cut is a lot. I mean isn't there -- aren't there things in here that some of these conservative resistors should like?

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, and, John, I think that - going back to what Matt said, that is what Speaker Ryan is going to sell to his members on the conservative side of the aisle, that the CBO score says $300 billion or more in deficit reduction, plus getting rid of Obamacare, and this is a chance for them to push forward a legislative agenda that they've been promising for years.

The challenge for the Tea Party, for Speaker Ryan, for the White House at this point is not just whether this passes or doesn't, though, it's that President Trump campaigned on this idea that he would come up with a plan that lowered costs, lowered premiums, lowered the deficit, provided more coverage and provided better coverage, John. And I don't think anybody thinks that that bill does this. So whether or not it passes, they have a rocky road ahead on the Republican side.

BERMAN: And he said insurance for everybody in an interview which are problematic words right now for the White House and for the speaker of the House.


BERMAN: OK, yesterday, for some reason, the White House chose to start walking back the president's claims that he was wiretapped by President Obama. Sean Spicer, at the podium, during the press conference, this is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He doesn't really think that President Obama went up and tapped his phone personally.

QUESTION: What does he think?

SPICER: I think - but I think there's a - there's no question that the Obama administration, that there were actions about surveillance and other activities that occurred in the 2016 election. The president used the word wiretap in quotes to mean broadly surveillance and other activities.


BERMAN: All right, I will not make air quotes with my fingers right now, but know that I am thinking about them. And we're going to get to a ton (ph) load of parsing of what Sean Spicer just said, but first, Matt Lewis, I want to know about the timing. Why now? Because last week Sean Spicer said he'd let the tweet speak for itself.

LEWIS: Right. Well, I mean it has to be because, you know, Congress is looking into this and they're going to issue a report at some time. And the report may say that there's no there there. That there's nothing to it. Not even any surveillance. We don't know yet.

But it is interesting. You know, the parsing of it, right? So it's 140 characters in a tweet and there are at least two things that they're walking back from. They said that Obama didn't do it, or order it -

BERMAN: Right.

LEWIS: And a wiretap's not a wiretap. So, you know, they're going to probably spend the rest of the week walking away from this and hope that people forget about it because there's so much news to deal with, and snow.

BERMAN: And, look, there's speculation there. And we don't know for sure, but the speculation that it may be because there is no there there. That would be one plausible explanation by why -

LEWIS: Or if there is something, it's probably some sort of surveillance on a computer.


BERMAN: Jackie, go ahead.

KUCINICH: Well, and I was going to say, it's good luck forgetting about it, because there is a hearing on March 20th in the Intelligence Committee, and Comey is going to be asked about this, the FBI director, and you have to imagine, this is going to be brought up particularly because that's when - the Justice Department asked for an extension to prove that this was something - that they had information that would back up what the president said. They asked for an extension. So this is going to come out one way or the other next Monday and it - we'll hope it doesn't raise more questions than it answers, but they're not - this is not going away anytime soon. [09:45:16] BERMAN: Right. So, David Swerdlick, this gets to what is an

argument I think we hear a little too much, literally and figuratively, that we shouldn't take the president literally. Maybe he didn't mean he was wiretapped when he said he was wiretapped. Maybe he didn't mean that President Obama did it when he said that President Obama did it. But I think that maybe it's time to get beyond this argument of literal versus figurative verses metaphorical.

SWERDLICK: So, yes, the seriously but not literally valediction on the 2016 election was beautiful, was eloquent, but I think it's fraying a little bit at this point. In terms of the tweets and the quotes, you could write a master thesis on the way President Trump uses quotes in his tweets. But yesterday Secretary Spicer was sort of abusing the notion of quotes, abusing the notion of air quotes because what really matters is this case, the plain reading of those tweets - and I think this is what you are getting at, John - is that the president was suggesting, inferring pretty strongly, that President Obama played a direct hand in spying on him, whether it - spying means wiretapping or something else. And the fact that they were trying to sort of equivocate on that yesterday suggests to me that they're not incredibly confident that even given more time the Justice Department is going to come up with the smoking gun that they're looking for. And if they don't, I think that's going to force members of Congress in the House and Senate on these committees that are investigating to dig deeper because their credibility ultimately is on the line because the White House kicked this to them, John.

BERMAN: Yes, punctuation is not policy. Punctuation is not truth (ph). The president flat out said it or wrote it, it just happened.

All right, Jackie Kucinich, David Swerdlick, Matt Lewis, great to have you with us. Thank you very, very much.

All right, a really interesting pallor game in Washington right now. Why did a conservative website just release video of Paul Ryan criticizing then candidate Trump. We knew he said this. We had never heard it. The question is, why now, and is it connected to the president's chief strategist?


[09:51:41] BERMAN: All right, intrigue in the world of conservative media today. Breitbart, the site that was run by Chief White House Strategist Steve Bannon, it just posted never heard before audio of House Speaker Paul Ryan refusing to defend then candidate Trump. Now the audio was recorded after the pretty shocking "Access Hollywood" tape came out. Donald Trump made lewd comments, very lewd comments about women. This is what Speaker Ryan said in a conference call with lawmakers last fall.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER (voice-over): His comments are not anywhere in keep with our party's principles and values. I am not going to defend Donald Trump, not now, not in the future. You guys know I have real concerns with our nominee. I hope you'll appreciate that I'm doing what I think is best for you, the members, not what's best for me. And so I want to do what's best for our members, and I think that this is the right thing to do. I'm going to focus my time on campaigning for House Republicans.


BERMAN: Now, we didn't have the audio, but CNN reported about this phone call when it happened. The call in and of itself is not news. The big news, the big question is, why now? Why is Breitbart posting of this now?

Joining me now is Kurt Bardella, a founder and CEO of Endeavor Strategies and a former spokesman for Breitbart.

Kurt, thanks so much for joining us.

It is a simple question, why is Breitbart posting this video highlighting a split between Speaker Ryan and the president? Why are they posting it now?

KURT BARDELLA, FORMER BREITBART SPOKESMAN: Well, I think that what you're seeing is a continuation of a long campaign that started at Breitbart before President Trump was elected, which was an objective that Steve Bannon, now chief strategist for the president, then running Breitbart, made it very clear that he perceived Paul Ryan to be the enemy. That their objective was to take him down.

It was around the same time that this audio happened, Breitbart published a story alleging that Paul Ryan was working with Hillary Clinton to get her elected. So what you're seeing now is a continuation of that with the - I think the purpose of setting up Paul Ryan to be the fall guy for when this health care plan fails.

BERMAN: Paul Ryan to be the fall guy for when this health care plan fails. Again, that's what people were looking at last night after the CBO report came out. Breitbart posted this video. You're saying it's to maybe set Paul Ryan up for something. Then the next logical question, Kurt, is, Steve Bannon. Until a few months ago, he was running Breitbart. You worked closely with him. Are we really to believe that Steve Bannon has no more connections to what Breitbart is posting?

BARDELLA: Well, I don't think that there's any question that Steve has significant influence on the editorial direction of Breitbart. And look at some of the hires that he's made in the White House. He brought over Julia Hawn (ph), who wrote the story back in October, alleging that Paul Ryan was working with Hillary Clinton to get her elected and undermine President Trump. So I think there's a direct line between editorially what you see at Breitbart and what really are the political ambitions of Steve Bannon. And, again, this is just a continuation of that. It's designed to set up the speaker.

BERMAN: So - so, again, so basically if you're following all of this and connecting the dots, you're suggesting that Steve Bannon, as of last night, was trying to set up House Speaker Paul Ryan to be the fall guy if Obamacare does - or the repeal of Obamacare doesn't pass? BARDELLA: Right. And when you look at the story that they published,

there's a lot of editorializing on the front end of it using quotes from people like Senator Rand Paul alleging that somehow Speaker Ryan has misled the president about his ability to get this bill passed. There's a lot of undertones in this story, beyond just the audio that they used, to really paint the idea that this will fall on Paul Ryan's lap and if it doesn't succeed, it's Paul Ryan's fault.

[09:55:06] BERMAN: All right, very interesting. Kurt Bardella, appreciate your analysis on this. You know, you have been on the inside. Thanks so much.

BARDELLA: Thanks for having me.

BERMAN: All right, Republicans, this morning, they are dealing with this CBO report that says 24 million Americans more will be uninsured if their repeal and replace bill passes. In just a few minutes, Democrats, they have a chance to speak. We'll hear from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Stick around. We'll bring you those comments live.


BERMAN: All right, good morning. I'm John Berman. Thanks so much for joining me.

We're following two big storms this morning. Right now, 18 million people under a blizzard warning. At least five states already declaring a state of emergency. There are sleet balls in New York City. That from our chief meteorologist Chad Myers just a few minutes ago.

[10:00:01] Then, of course, there was a storm on Capitol Hill. Any minute we will hear from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. You're looking at live pictures right there on the right. She will hold a news conference. She is extremely eager to talk about the Republican plan