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Blizzard Warnings Across the Northeast; CBO Estimates 24M Uninsured by 2026; Marissa Mayer Could Get $23M Severance. Aired 4:30- 5a ET

Aired March 14, 2017 - 04:30   ET



[04:30:51] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: a final blast of the winter, whiteout conditions and heavy snow and strong winds making its way across the Northeast. This one affecting tens of millions of people this morning. We have complete coverage of this late winter nor'easter.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody. I'm Christine Romans.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Dave Briggs. Spring is less than a week away.

ROMANS: Here we go.

BRIGGS: Less than one week away, but storm is here. The snow we have been warning about now starting to fall across the Northeast, expected to get heavier throughout the morning and keep falling all day. Tens of millions under blizzard or winter storm warnings.

And there are states of emergency declared for Maryland on up to New England, making for dangerous and potentially deadly conditions. New York City and Boston expected to be hit hard.

ROMANS: New York could get a foot of snow or more. Chad Myers saying we're going to have 11 -- 10 or 11 more hours of this. Parts of Massachusetts could see up to two feet. Officials are warning of high winds creating potentially whiteout conditions. Schools already closed in Boston, Philly and New York City, many other places that closed since yesterday.

BRIGGS: Yes, preemptive strike down here on the Northeast. So far, airlines have canceled more than 5,300 flights in the U.S. according to Amtrak says it will run what it calls a modified schedule in the Northeast today. As always, ahead of the possible blizzard, folks have been clearing off grocery store shelves like the world will end today. It is scary.

We have the latest on the storm with reporters along the East Coast, starting with meteorologist Chad Myers. He's here at Columbus Circle in New York.

Chad, when will the worst of the snow hit here in New York?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, I think probably 8:00 this morning. And there may be thunder snow. It's going to be snowing so heavily, two to three inches of snow per hour. It will be hard for the plows to keep up.

I haven't seen any salt yet in New York City, at least where I am. I'm assuming that's because they want to push the snow into the Hudson River. They don't like to brine or salt and then get all that mixed together and then push into the river because, obviously, then you have the pollutants going into the river. So, only salt -- no salt this time. Only sand.

I'm going to take you over here to the snow pile. This is the first snow pile we had. It is looking pretty good, four feet high. But these are the guys here that are plowing and not where I think this is still the 10 to 1 snow I talked about earlier. So, if we get two inches of this to melt down in a bucket, you're going to get 20 inches of snow.

Now, I don't think we're going to get 20 inches of snow, because for a while, around 1:00 this afternoon, we're going to start to see a mix over a rain/snow mix. A really wet, heavy yuck snow. That is not good for anything except getting you wet. But that's where we are right now here.

Boston, the snow is just starting. Philadelphia, it's been snowing most of the night. New York City, maybe 3 to 4 inches for you. There's a little bit of a turnover of rain/snow mix. The closer you are to the coast, the more it's just going to be wet and rain.

In Boston, you're going to get a lot of rain mixing in. But Worcester, you get all snow, maybe 20 inches of snow. Then, for places like Albany and Schenectady and Rutland and all the way into Lancaster and maybe in parts of western Maryland, that you could easily see over a foot of snow, because you're going to see all snow.

The rain/snow mix is going to be the limiting factor for your snow. The closer you are to the coast, the more rain is going to mix in, the less snow you're going to get. If you are 50 miles away from the coast, let's say west of Toms River, you know, west of Asbury Park, 100 miles, that's where the big snow is going to be. But along the coast, Atlantic City and Toms River, all the way down, you see the rain mixing in so much, you may not see anything on the ground at all. It's just going to be a mucky mess.

ROMANS: So, the only reason, Chad, to be outside is if you are a weather forecaster like you or you are going to have a baby in the hospital. Stay home.

MYERS: Or snow plow guy. We want the snow plow guys and ladies out here. Yes, we want them out here today.

ROMANS: OK, there you go. All right. Thanks, Chad.

BRIGGS: Sixteen hundred snow plows in the New York City area. ROMANS: Wow.

BRIGGS: Well, New York and the surrounding poised to shatter snowfall records today. The all-time mark for the month of March is 16.5 inches in the city. That happened in 1888, back in March 12.

[04:35:02] ROMANS: CNN's Alison Kosik live on the road in northern New Jersey for us with more on the current conditions.

So, tell us what you are seeing there. I mean, Chad is telling us that the further you move out, that's where you're going to get a lot of snow.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, I'm definitely seeing the snow come down here in New Jersey at a pretty good clip. We are on the New Jersey turnpike. Take a look.

And, yes, we've got a traffic jam at 4:30 in the morning. I think not so much because of the number of cars and trucks, delivery truck on the turnpike. Ahead of us is a salt spreader. And it's certainly looks like the turnpike has been plowed at least once. You see where you can see the pavement.

As far as public transportation goes for New Jersey, we're seeing New Jersey transit on weekend schedule. The bus service was shutdown at midnight. There has been a state of emergency declared here in New Jersey.

So, the hope is people stay off the roads and work remotely from home and give the salt spreaders and the guys and gals, you know, running those plows a chance to clear the roads. Looking like things on the turnpike moving slowly as the roads are treated.

Back to you, Christine.

ROMANS: Yes. And, Alison, these are just early hours of this thing, especially for folks in New Jersey. Hopefully, they decide not to do their commute.

Later today, we are expecting high winds. That's when those big, old, beautiful trees in the Jersey suburbs take down power lines. So, they are still many iterations of this where it could be dangerous. Thank you so much for that, Alison.

BRIGGS: Yes, people this morning are looking out and they're saying, oh, it's not that bad. I'm going to work. Probably not a good bet.

ROMANS: Please don't.

BRIGGS: Philly among the areas hit under the snow emergency. The city taking the brunt before the storm gets here to New York City.

ROMANS: Let's go live to Ryan Young. He's in Philly for us.

Ryan, I want to ask you. You know, it has been snowing for a while but they are expecting 55-mile-an-hour gusts today. So, that's the same kind of power line issue.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, that is a great way to open this up because we have been getting hit by the winds. Forget the snow for right now because everything has turned to a slushy mess. In fact, we have seen cars blowing by us, knocking all this water and slush off the roads.

Look here, the real issue may be black ice eventually. The wind is really strong. And, of course, as we stand here, it is whipping us constantly. That's what we've noticed, maybe 30-mile-per-hour wind gust, but not constantly. It kind of whips in spurts at this point.

There's a limited schedule on bus and train service in the area. We know schools are closed. The heavy snow we were kind of expecting, it seems like it's mostly turning into rain pellets or that hard ice and sleet hitting us in the face.

So, so far, so good for the area. More and more people are hitting the roads which I'm not sure that's a great thing, but we're starting to see people take more chances out here.

ROMANS: All right. Be careful. Look at those roads and it looks like a dangerous combination. OK, Ryan, talk to you again soon. Thank you.

BRIGGS: Turning to a political storm. A CBO report with rough numbers for supporters of the new Republican health plan. How are Republican leaders planning to forge ahead?


[04:42:13] ROMANS: Harsh reality making itself felt for Republicans this morning. GOP leaders may it find it harder to rally lawmakers around the House Obamacare repeal deal. Now, that we have this, the Congressional Budget Office release of some pretty rough estimates of the measure's effects.

Here we go, the CBO expects 24 million more Americans to be uninsured by 2026. By next year alone, it will be 14 million fewer people will have health coverage. Premiums would jump 20 percent in the individual market over the next two years, and then would fall later on, in fact, on average, down 10 percent ultimately.

BRIGGS: Despite the CBO score, House Speaker Paul Ryan describing this as good news.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, actually, if you read this entire report, I'm pretty encouraged by it and it actually exceeded my expectations. We're saying that government is not going to force people to buy something that they don't want to buy. And if we end an Obamacare mandate that says you must buy this government one-size-fits-all plan, guess what? People are not going to buy that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: The CBO score wasn't all bleak for Republicans. Their repeal plan would lower the federal deficit by an estimated $337 billion over ten years. But the score is putting Republicans on the defensive and emboldening Democrats who smell blood in the water for 2018.

CNN's Phil Mattingly has the latest on Capitol Hill.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, Republicans knew the number was going to be bad, they just didn't know it was going to be this bad -- 14 million uninsured by 2018, 24 million uninsured over the course of ten-year period. That's according to the Congressional Budget Office. And those are the kind of numbers that create real problems for a proposal that the Republican Party was not already united behind.

Now, Republicans have been pushing back. They say that the numbers don't reflect how their plans would actually work. Some questioning the efficacy of the numbers altogether.

Take a listen to what Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price had to say.

TOM PRICE, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: We disagree strenuously with the report that was put out. We believe that our plan will cover more individuals at a lower price and give them the choices that they want, for the coverage that they want for themselves and for their family, not that the government forces them to buy.

MATTINGLY: Now, it's important to point out the Republican proposal, as it currently stands, does what Republicans campaigned on. It repeals the individual mandate. It repeals the Medicaid expansion. Two real drivers for Obamacare's insured numbers.

And it also reduces the deficit by $337 billion. And as we already know, it repeals most of the Obamacare taxes. These are things Republicans say, look, we campaigned on this. Just because the models of the CBO or just because this score doesn't reflect what people would want it to reflect, this is what people have voted for.

But the big question now, is how do they keep their members in line going forward?

I spoke to a number of Republican senators after this proposal came out. Many of them voiced major concerns about this going forward -- Christine and Dave.


ROMANS: All right, Phil Mattingly.

[04:45:00] Yes, that point about voting -- you know, campaigning on lower taxes for the middle class. The lower taxes on this comes from rich people. Also, older working class Americans can expect to pay more under the

GOP plan. While the CBO found that premiums should fall 10 percent by 2026. Let's examine that average. The Republican bill will lower costs for younger Americans and raise costs for older Americans, about 20 to 25 percent less for a 21-year-old. The premiums spike for a 64- year-old.

The hardest hit would be lower income people over 50 years old. Those not yet eligible for Medicare, that's because the Republicans' tax credits are not as generous as the Obamacare subsidy. A 64-year-old making $26,500 a year would pay $1,700 for coverage under Obamacare. Under the GOP plan, his premium would be $14,600. Why? Insurers can charge older policy holders at a steeper rate under the GOP plan compared to Obamacare.

Also, tax credits don't factor income and the cost of coverage. The Obamacare subsidies factor in those other things, also where you live, for example. If you have only more expensive plans available, the subsidies are a little bit higher. It's the same tax credit.

The Trump administration disagrees with this report, by the way. It says the CBO ignored regulatory changes and grants to states that will expand coverage. The White House says, look, there's going to be phase two and phase three. We're going to lower drug costs and other things that aren't yet factored in.

BRIGGS: You might expect some sort of fix, though, wouldn't you, with senior? Those over 65 voted for Trump, 52-45. In the House and Senate, do you expect some sort of fix to take care of the elderly and low income voters?

ROMANS: I mean, I don't know. This is the plan they designed. They designed a plan you pay for what you use. Older Americans use more health care, different kinds of health care. Their focus is on choice. They want people to have more choices.

BRIGGS: And more options.

We have not seen any lawmakers bail just yet with the exception of one in Virginia. But with the health care debate raging on, explosive new audio surfacing featuring House Speaker Paul Ryan vilifying Donald Trump less than a month before the presidential election. Ryan speaking to House Republicans on October 10th, that's just days after Trump's vulgar comments to "Access Hollywood's" Billy Bush were made public. This new audio released by Breitbart, same very conservative media outfit formally headed up by the president's top adviser, Steve Bannon.



PAUL: His comments are not anywhere in keeping with our party's principles and values. I am not going to defend Donald Trump, not now, now in the future. But you guys know I have real concerns with our nominee. I hope you appreciate that I'm doing what I think is best for you and the members. Not what's best for me.

And so, I want to do what's best for members and I think that this is the right to do. I'm going to focus my time on campaigning for House Republicans. Everyone on this call, this is a turbulent month. Many of you on this call are facing tough re-elections. Some of you are not.

But with respect to Donald Trump, I would encourage you to do what you think is best and deal what you feel you need to do.


BRIGGS: Now, the release of the audio comes at a time when conservatives are hammering Ryan and his Republican health care overall. Now, quick to point out, CNN reported on the speaker's comments about Mr. Trump last October when they happened. This is the first time anyone is hearing the actual audio. So, the timing is interesting to say the least.

ROMANS: Why released now? Interesting. Right at the Obamacare.

BRIGGS: It looks like they are framing someone to blame for the failure of this bill if it can't get through the House.

ROMANS: Interesting.

All right. Forty-eight, almost 49 minutes past the hour. Marissa Mayer is about to lose her job as CEO. And she has a nice consolation prize.

BRIGGS: Oh, yes, very nice.

ROMANS: A check on CNN Money Stream, next.

BRIGGS: And tens of millions getting ready to dig out. A major winter storm barreling through the Northeast right now. The latest forecast, next.


[04:53:24] ROMANS: The Northeast is battening down ahead of the major snowstorm that's just now beginning to hit. A foot of snow forecast, more or less is forecast from Philadelphia up to New York City. You are looking right outside our studios right now, in Columbus Circle. Two feet in parts of Massachusetts.

We've now learned federal agencies in the Washington, D.C. area are opening three hours late. High winds also expected. Gusts up to 50 miles per hour, leading to whiteout conditions in some spots. Schools are closed today in Philadelphia and New York City and Boston, along with many government offices.

And the airlines had canceled thousands of flights along the eastern seaboard. At last count, we are up to 5,300. This is according to The full forecast is just a few minutes away. BRIGGS: Subpoenas may be required to gets information about President

Trump's wiretapping allegations from the Justice Department. That's according to the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Justice officials asked the committee for more time to turnover evidence. The new deadline is set for Monday, the same day the Intel Committee begins the first public hearing into Russia's meddling in the U.S. election.

Listen Mr. Trump's press secretary, Sean Spicer, seeming to walk back the president's acquisition.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He doesn't really think that President Obama went up and tapped his phone personally. I think -- but I think there's no question that the Obama administration that there were actions about surveillance and other activities that occurred in 2016 election. The president used wiretap in quotes to mean broadly surveillance and other activities.


ROMANS: OK. Let's note two of the president's tweets. They alleged he was wiretapped by President Trump.

[04:55:01] Two of them did have quotes around the word wiretap. These two did not. Take a good hard look at that.

"The president was tapping my phones in October, just prior to the election. How low has President Obama gone to tap my phones." Love that extra "p." "during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon Watergate, bad or sick guy."

BRIGGS: Spelling be damned. Look, the question ultimately will be, what if there is no evidence? What will the president do? Will he apologize? Will he take it back?

ROMANS: Well, remember on birther? I mean, the only thing I think is this is like the birther controversy and the president changed and dodged and weaved and changed, and then ultimately said --

BRIGGS: Evolved on it.

ROMANS: Right. He said, yes, I was wrong. Sort of.

BRIGGS: Time will tell.

Well, in the meantime, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway walking back comments of her own about wiretapping. In an interview with New Jersey's "Bergen Record" on Sunday, Conway said there could have been spying through microwave ovens and TV sets. Listen how she defended herself on CNN's "NEW DAY."


KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP ADVISER: It was about surveillance generally. CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: You didn't ask about it generally, though.

That is true in the transcript. You may have answered it generally, but you were asked specifically.

CONWAY: Chris, I'm not Inspector Gadget. I don't believe people are using the microwave to spy on the campaign. I am not in the job of evidence. That is what investigations are for.


BRIGGS: Just moments after that interview, President Trump posted this tweet, "It is amazing how rude much of the media is to my hard working representatives. Be nice. You will do much better."

Neither Conway nor the president have provided any evidence for the wiretapping allegations.

ROMANS: Iowa Congressman Steve King under fire this morning, but not backing down after a comment about, quote, "somebody else's babies." King's tweet appearing to criticize foreigners and immigrants. It's been condemned by Republican leaders across the country and called racist and bigoted by some Democrats.

But speaking to "NEW DAY", Representative King stood by the remark.


REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: Of course, I meant exactly what I said, as is always is the case. Individuals will contribute differently, not equally to this globalization in society. And certain groups of people will do more from a productive side than other groups of people will.


ROMANS: So, here is the tweet that sparked the ruckus. Congressman King wrote, "Culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies."

King told "NEW DAY" he believes in assimilation and if Twitter allowed more characters, he would have added after babies, "unless we adopt them."

BRIGGS: Look --

ROMANS: I know, I can't explain it.

BRIGGS: There is nothing to add to the story. He didn't walk it back. He apparently owns this world view.

ROMANS: All right. Let's get a check on CNN Money Stream this morning. Switching gears to money, something I understand better than that.

Global markets mostly lower this morning as investors look ahead to a two-day Fed meeting. It kicks off today. We're told it will happen, despite the snow. Wall Street anticipating the announcement of a rate hike. In the U.S., the NASDAQ and S&P closed slightly higher as the Dow slipped a bit.

The stocks are still doing very well. Stock market has gone on a 104- day streak without a 1 percent drop. Right now, stock futures are a little bit lower.

All right. We told you about Marissa Mayer. She's about to lose her job as the head of Yahoo. She has a very nice consolation prize. She will get a $23 million severance.

However, the payout depends on Yahoo getting sold to Verizon. That sale thought to be in jeopardy after two security breaches. However, Verizon agreed to move forward with the deal at $350 million discount.

She has been CEO for five years. There have been eight CEOs since the late 1990s. So, there's been a real management of people. Her five years has been the only stability.

BRIGGS: But this part of the contract?

ROMANS: Yes, absolutely. But when you get top talent like Marissa Mayer, you got to promise to pay amount.

BRIGGS: People get angry over these.

ROMANS: That's how it works. That's business.

Intel has entered the battle over tech for driverless cars. The company agreed to buy an Israeli firm called Mobileye for 15 billion bucks money. Mobileye makes software for General Motors, Nissan, Hyundai, among others. This deal puts the deal in competition with Tesla for driverless tech.

And the stakes couldn't be higher. Analysts predict the market will be worth $96 billion by 2025, driverless technology.

BRIGGS: It's going to wipe out, I mean, life as we know it, 2 or 3 million people drive for a job. It will change the economy.

ROMANS: It sure will.

BRIGGS: EARLY START continues right now on this snowy Tuesday.


ROMANS: Dave said it. It is snowing.

Happening now: winter making the final stand. Snowstorm with whiteout conditions starting to churn with tens of millions of people in its path. It is here, folks. We have complete coverage of the late winter nor'easter.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It is Tuesday, March 14th. Hard to believe, 5:00 a.m. in the East, because we're less than a week away from spring.

But it does not feel like it along the coast. The snow we have been warning about, starting to fall across the Northeast, expected to get heavier throughout the morning, keep falling all day.