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Winter Storm Slams Northeast, Mid-Atlantic; Flights Delayed by Storm; CBO: 24 Million More Uninsured by 2026 Under GOP Plan. Aired 7- 7:30a ET

Aired March 14, 2017 - 07:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: [07:00:03] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody that came in and didn't have money and then was trying to buy merchandise with marijuana. You know, you get, in the retail business, you get lots of strange characters. And that was just one of them that evening. That's why they didn't call the police. And this has kind of been blown out of proportion. It was a non-event until this filmmaker put it together into this false narrative.

CUOMO: Well, look, as we promise, Counselor, we're always going to tell both sides of the story. Thank you for coming on to give your representation of what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.

CUOMO: Appreciate it.

All right. And thanks to you, our international viewers, for watching NEW DAY. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" is next. For our U.S. V=viewers, let's get after it.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Alisyn is off. The one and only Poppy Harlow joining me this morning. It's great to have you.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good to be here.

CUOMO: We have breaking news of the snowy variety. A powerful winter storm slamming the Northeast and mid-Atlantic right now. Take a look: tens of millions of people in the path. Eight states under blizzard warnings.

HARLOW: Right. This is a nor'easter, it is expected to dump between 1 to 2 feet of snow up and down the East Coast. You've got schools closed in major cities, including right here in New York City, in Philadelphia, in Boston. Whiteout conditions already leading to more than 5,000 flights being canceled.

Let's begin our storm coverage this hour with our meteorologist, Chad Myers, live in New York's Central Park. All right, it was coming down pretty hard, whipping winds about an hour ago. What does it look like right now? CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It changed over to sleet, at least

briefly. We now have a sleet storm coming down, which hurts when it hits you, let me tell you. But that also is going to reduce the amount of snow that we get, because a sleet pellet is not a snowflake. A sleet pellet just kind of packs on down, so it isn't going to be possibly now the 15- to 20-inch snowfall, but an awful lot less, because the low is tracking up into the Chesapeake, not offshore just yet near the Delmarva Peninsula.

But we're still going to see big-time snows in western parts of Maryland, into parts of Pennsylvania. The Poconos, Catskills, Alleghenies will likely see between 10 and 25 inches of snow. And then northern Connecticut, all of Massachusetts and into Vermont, New Hampshire, another 20-inch snowfall there. The closer you get to the coast, the more there'll be rain.

Right now, we're seeing a slight rain, but it's freezing on the way down. So that is what's called sleet. A reporter just came over and asked, "Is this freezing rain or is this sleet?" No, freezing rain freezes when it hits the ground. This is frozen when it hits the ground. That's why it's called sleet. The longer it sleets, the less we pile up.

We'll expect a changeover, back and forth, back and forth all day long, for most of I-95 all the way to Boston -- Chris.

HARLOW: All right. I'll pick it up from here, Chad. Thank you very much.

MYERS: There you go.

HARLOW: This is a major nor'easter that is forcing a lot of schools to close today. Many parents trying to figure out what you're going to do with your kids. My nanny just said she can't get there, so it goes.

Let's go to Ryan Young in Philadelphia, where they could get -- what does it look like? -- more than a foot of snow and all the public schools closed, right?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, the schools are closed, but we're really getting hit by those snow pellets at this point, maybe just sleet that's coming down and the winds have been constant. That's the story so far. We've been getting pushed by that wind all day long.

As we're talking, as we're live I'll show you what's going on over there. As the crews have started to clear these streets, they've been keeping the streets pretty clear here. This is the first time we've seen them go by with the plows. They're really putting the force out to push whatever is left out of the street.

Because the snow really stopped around 3:30 this morning. What we're noticing, and what they're pushing to the side is just this, this sloppy mess. That's everywhere, because everything is melted down to a certain extent. Of course, that could be a problem with black ice. But right now, we've seen people driving all over the roads, all morning long.

Look, there's a semi going going by. We saw a guy with an exotic car go by a few minutes ago. Really not worried about the roads. One lady walked by and said, "Hey, this is not too bad." So far, so good for Philadelphia.

CUOMO: Ryan Young, you are the face of distress, getting hit with that freezing rain right now. I do not envy you, my friend. Stay safe. Stay safe. Appreciate you being there.

YOUNG: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. So this powerful storm already grounding thousands of flights. That was to be expected, especially along the East Coast. How will it reverberate all across the country?

CNN's Rene Marsh live at Reagan Washington National Airport. What do you see?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: It is going to reverberate. What do I see? I see that there are no passengers here. And you look at these boards, this pretty much tells you the story, Chris.

More than 6,000 flights canceled between today and tomorrow. More than 5,000 of those are from today. Compare that to a typical day, where there's only about 125 cancellations.

I mean, take a look at this security line. Not a soul in sight. The only action we're seeing here, pretty much just the snowplows on the airfield there.

[07:05:02] Chris, a lot of these airlines, they proactively canceled flights before any sign of the snow, because they just didn't want that scene of passengers being stuck and stranded within the airports.

We do know, like, for example, American Airlines, the largest airline, that they have essentially, they've created a travel alert for some 39 airports. Some of the hardest hit airports are going to be New York City's airports, Philadelphia airports, and right here in Washington, D.C.

The good news, though, if you're traveling, you're on one of those canceled flights, you can rebook and you will not have to pay that change fee. And also if you're taking a train, you're going to run into some issues, too. There is limited service on Amtrak, as well.

Back to you, Poppy.

HARLOW: All right. Rene, thank you so much.

Turning to politics now, 24 million more Americans will lose their health insurance over the next decade if the Republican plan to replace Obamacare becomes law. This is according to a brand-new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, run by a guy the Republicans put in to run it. These numbers not even close to what the White House was hoping to

see. This as we enter day 54 of Donald Trump's presidency. Our Sunlen Serfaty is live on Capitol Hill.

Look, even HHS Secretary Tom Price says these numbers are, quote, "not believable." But he was one of the main guys to put in Keith Hall, who runs the entire CBO.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right, Poppy, and that point not lost on many people up here on Capitol Hill.

Frankly, this bill was already facing a very tough slog ahead. But these new numbers are potentially devastating, looking forward at the bill's fate up here on Capitol Hill.

So now you do have White House and Republican leaders really now shifting into damage mode, attempting to downplay the impact of this explosive new report up here on Capitol Hill.


SERFATY (voice-over): The Congressional Budget Office projecting 14 million Americans would lose their coverage next year, with 24 million people uninsured by 2026 under the Republican healthcare plan to replace Obamacare.

TOM PRICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES: We disagree strenuously with the report that was put out.

SERFATY: The White House denouncing the findings.

PRICE: We believe that our plan will cover more individuals at a lower cost and give them the choices that they want for the coverage that they want.

SERFATY: Their strategy: attacking the non-partisan office throughout the week, even before seeing the numbers.

MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: If the CBO was right about Obamacare to begin with, there would be eight million more people on Obamacare today than there actually are. Sometimes we ask them to do stuff they're not capable of doing.

SERFATY: But the report does provide some good news for the GOP. The CBO also predicting their legislation would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion over a decade. And though premiums are expected to increase by up to 20 percent over the next two years, the CBO anticipates they'll actually drop by an average of 10 percent by 2026.

MULVANEY: Something the CBO may have gotten right in this report, it's that the premiums are actually going to come down in cost.

SERFATY: But the hardest hit by those higher premiums: older, lower income Americans, shattering this promise by then-candidate Trump.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've got to take care of people that can't take care of themselves.

SERFATY: The report complicating the GOP's already-troubled efforts to pass their bill. House Speaker Paul Ryan trying to put a positive spin on what they call unreliable numbers.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I'm excited about this analysis. And yes, I think they sort of overestimate the uninsured number, just like they overestimated who would be insured by Obamacare. But I do believe that, if we're not going to force people to buy something they don't want to buy, they won't buy it.

SERFATY: But now with Ryan trying to push through the repeal, the conservative website Breitbart releasing audio of the House speaker on a conference call with Republican congressmen back in October, slamming Mr. Trump right after the now-infamous "Access Hollywood" tape was leaked. Ryan at the time saying he is done with then- candidate Trump.

RYAN (via phone): 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'm going to focus my time on campaigning for House Republicans.


SERFATY: Now, CNN had previously reported what Paul Ryan had said back in October, after this first happened, but what's new here is the emergence of this audio clip, at this particular moment, especially because it was done so by the conservative website, Breitbart.

This comes at a time where many conservatives up hill on Capitol Hill, they want to try to force Paul Ryan to make some changes to the bill. They also want to force President Trump to step away from parts of the bill, as well -- Chris.

CUOMO: What a message to Ryan when Steve Bannon's fringe mouthpiece punches you in the nose. How is he going to take it? Thank you, Sunlen.

Joining us right now for some perspective, Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. He's a deputy Republican whip in the House and a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

I saw you laughing, as I was saying what happened to Ryan. But you're happy you're not him this morning. Were you on that call back in October?

[07:10:05] REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R), ILLINOIS: Yes, look, you know, that was a call between members, obviously. You get that. And I think it was around August or September.

And look, it just -- you know, I mean, it was widely reported, what he said. He basically said, in public, what he said, which is -- and you know, this is right after the "Access Hollywood" issue.

So, you know, for Breitbart to release this and act like this is some behind-the-scenes, you know, secret thing that happened, everybody already knew this. And again, it just goes to show that, you know, sometimes these -- these news groups there think that they can be the next branch of the government. And...

CUOMO: Well, look, "news groups" would be a very generous assessment of this particular outlet that we're talking about right now.


CUOMO: But the point is pretty clear. This is Steve Bannon's mouthpiece organization. And they're bunch -- basically trying to out Ryan as disloyal to the president of the United States. Fair appraisal?

KINZINGER: No, not at all. I mean, look, in the campaign, we all had -- we were all struggling with what was being done, what was being said, very unorthodox. And then, of course, with the "Access Hollywood" tape, it was difficult.

But since the election, there have been a lot of us that have said, including Mr. Ryan, you know, "Look, we'll be supportive in every way we can of this president. We have a lot of big things we want to do." You know, at the same time, if something happens that we need to be clear and call out, we'll do that.

So I think there's really not been anybody that's been more loyal to, frankly, President Trump than Speaker Ryan in terms of saying, "We've got to work together to do some big things."

CUOMO: I mean, one more step down this road and, to your own point, no leader has been more noticeably quiet about the lack of proof backing this wiretapping claim made by President Trump, not only accusing a former president of a felon felony, but calling President Obama a bad or sick man. Ryan, relatively quiet.

Do you believe the wiretapping claims? Do you think the president should have to put up the proof before anybody investigates further?

KINZINGER: I -- yes, I think he should put that proof up. I think, you know, look, if in fact, the former president wiretapped a campaign, then, obviously, we need to know that. That's very important.

At the same time, if there was a legal FISA order to listen in on, say, whether it was Michael Flynn or somebody else, you know, we ought to know that and, you know, what was the compelling evidence for a FISA order. That's something we ought to know. That's the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act order.

And then, you know, if, in fact, some conversations may have been caught up, as we were doing what we should do, which is monitoring the conversations of foreign ambassadors, that's important to know, too.

But, yes, I think anytime you make an accusation of a former president, in essence of committing a felony, we need to know the answer to that. And it seems like over the last few days -- and I'm happy for this -- the White House has begun to walk that back. I just think they need to come out and fully say, "Look, maybe the word 'wiretap' was used. This was not a wiretap. It was 'X,' 'Y' or 'Z' or nothing." And that's what we need to find out.

And frankly, the intel committees, I think, are doing their jobs to get to the bottom of that, as well.

CUOMO: But why is it their job? The president comes out. He's a phone call away from getting the answer. He can declassify any information he gets wherever he wants. He's got almost the most power in that regard, certainly more than anybody else.

Why should these committees that were supposed to be chasing down Russia connections and leaks have to take on this thing that only came up because the president wanted to create this issue?

KINZINGER: Yes, I actually agree with you. I think the onus is on the White House to say, "Hey, here is the proof that it happened" or "Here's the proof that it didn't." Or, you know, "Hey, maybe this is what we mixed up," again, if there was a FISA court order to monitor maybe General Flynn when he was in the Trump Tower, something like that.

But short of that, short of the president and the White House saying, "This is exactly what happened," it is incumbent on the intel committees to get to the bottom of this. And it seems like they are. Again, yesterday was a deadline and, you know, I'm not sure what information came in...

CUOMO: None.

KINZINGER: I think this serves as a -- if I was the president, I would clear this up. Because it serves as a major distraction, frankly, for some of the big issues he wants to accomplish and we want to accomplish with him.

CUOMO: Hard to clear it up if there's nothing there. It seems to be the bind he is in.

Let's move on to another issue, the CBO. How damaging is this CBO report to getting this bill passed in the House?

KINZINGER: Well, obviously, it's a big headline. You know, it's something we have to deal with. But I think there's really a couple of big things to remember in this process. And this is very important.

The CBO is scoring one third of what we want to do. That's not their fault. That's all the information they have, and that's all they can actually act on.

The next thing, if we pass this reconciliation bill, and we're very limited as to what we can actually do in reconciliation, in order to get it on 51 votes, next is Secretary Price who has a lot of things he can do. He can't communicate those directly with Congress because of ethics rules. And then third is, even broader things like cross-state competition,

et cetera, for insurance. And I think in that third tranche is where we actually deal with a lot of the truth-in-billing issues, the back room, you know, how do we price this? How do we competitively shop? So -- and that's where we hope to bring in a lot of Democrats in, because some of these things are non-controversial.

[07:15:10] So look, it's not the best headline in the world, that's for sure. But there are some good things in this CBO score. They did get a lot of stuff wrong with Obamacare. And frankly, this is just one of three things we want to do for healthcare.

CUOMO: Well, they got how many people would be covered wrong, but there were reasons for that. They also got things right. And the CBO is headed up by a guy who, Secretary Price said, "His vast understanding of economic and labor market policy will be invaluable to the work of the CBO and the important role it will continue to play." And now he's trashing the CBO. Kind of reeks of politics.

Do you think it will be compelling to say to people even on the left or on the right, "Hey, I know these numbers are bad, but go along with us, because Phase 2 is something that Price can't talk about, and phase 3 is going to be state line -- across state line competition, which almost no economist will argue compellingly will reduce costs.

You know, you price insurance based on where you are, not where the company is. Like car insurance. You may buy it in New York, but if you're driving in Georgia, it's priced in Georgia. So that's not seen as a home run for cost cutting. So there's a lot of unknown here to justify numbers that are pretty scary to someone like President Trump, who said he wanted to keep people covered if they couldn't take care of themselves. This plan doesn't do that.

KINZINGER: Well, look, a lot of the numbers that this shows is terms of people losing are people that just don't choose to take health insurance, because the individual mandate will be taken away. And that's one of the most unpopular things...

CUOMO: A portion. You still have 10 to 14 million people who will get thrown off Medicaid.

KINZINGER: There is no doubt that this is a difficult process. There is no doubt that, look, anytime you make big changes, big moves, we're not doing earmarks to help pass this. We're trying to do this on our own in terms of saying, this is the right thing to do. There's going to be a difficult process in this.

This is why we'd like to bring Democrats in on that third traunch, for instance, and to say, how can we make this better better?

CUOMO: Why would they want to join you if you're going to knock 10 to 14 million people off who need the help? Why would they join you?

KINZINGER: Because -- but here's the issue. What we have right now, for instance, and I hear this from my folks all the time. You have health -- you have basically health insurance by name only. You have gigantic deductibles, gigantic premiums, to where the average family in some cases is paying 20 or $30,000 a year before they even see the first dollar of benefit.

And so when it comes to, for instance, Medicaid, we're allowing the states that have expanded to stay expanded, to continue to enroll until 2020. And at that point then, only when somebody cycles off do they come back on at that lower rate. And then the state can decide what to do beyond that.

So look, this isn't -- this is a very difficult process, but we know the situation we're in right now isn't working, and we're going to do our best to make it better for the American people.

CUOMO: Congressman Kinzinger, always a pleasure to have you on NEW DAY. As we get more details, let's get back after it. Thank you.

KINZINGER: You bet. Anytime.

CUOMO: All right. Coming up in our next hour, President Trump's budget director, Mick Mulvaney, he's making the rounds this morning to make the case for why this plan is a good plan and why the CBO testing and scoring should not be trusted -- Poppy.

HARLOW: He says the CBO got it wrong. The White House, meantime, and several of the president's cabinet members take issue with the way that this was priced out, essentially. A number of them. What exactly goes into a CBO score? We're going to ask a guy who used to run the place how reliable these numbers are, next.


[07:22:23] HARLOW: So even before the CBO came out late yesterday with its price tag, its assessment of what the GOP healthcare plan would cost, there was skepticism from many on the right about the accuracy of their findings. Here's what the president's budget director said just on Sunday.


MULVANEY: If the CBO was right about Obamacare to begin with, there would be 8 million more people on Obamacare today than there actually are. So I love the folks at the CBO. They work really hard, they do. But sometimes we ask them to do stuff they're not capable of doing, and estimating the impact of a bill of this size probably isn't the -- isn't the best use of their time.


HARLOW: All right. That is what they do.

Joining us, someone who knows that charge very well, Robert Reischauer. He was the former director of the CBO. He ran the place under George H.W. Bush and President Clinton.

Nice to have you here. Let me just get your reaction to what some very close to the president are saying about this score from the CBO. Tom Price, HHS secretary, calls it "just not believable." Newt Gingrich called for the CBO to be abolished after this number came out and said they're corrupt and dishonest. Mick Mulvaney, the budget director, says this assessment is just wrong. What say you?

ROBERT REISCHAUER, FORMER CBO DIRECTOR: I say this is a very uncertain kind of task that they are responsible for; and they're about as good as anybody could be, putting together estimates. They've also been very transparent about where they're wrong and why they're wrong. But overall, it's a very good estimate, I think.

HARLOW: So, a lot of focus from the White House and Mulvaney there on the part that they got wrong. And the CBO was wrong in estimating how many people would be insured under the Obamacare exchanges, right? It was about half of their estimate.

But they were spot on when it came to how many Americans would be insured total by 2016. They predicted, you know, 89 percent; and it was 89.7 percent of Americans under the age of 65 had insurance last year. So they've been wrong, but they've been right, too.

REISCHAUER: Yes. This is a very complex kind of issue. You have to guess how employers are going to respond. And they didn't drop as much insurance as CBO had assumed they would.

You have to make an assumption about how many states are going to stand Medicaid, when the Supreme Court surprises everybody with its ruling about expansion being voluntary, rather than mandatory. And so there are a lot of complexities that go into this.

HARLOW: So you ran the CBO under a Republican president and under a Democrat. All of a sudden, it seems like the CBO is getting politicized. Even before this number dropped, you know, you were already hearing the White House and other Republicans sort of bad- mouthing it, trying to say that they really don't have any -- any legs to stand on in this. I mean, did you ever face that when you were heading it up?

[07:25:13] REISCHAUER: Oh, certainly. I mean, the Clinton administration was not very happy with CBO's estimate of the Clinton healthcare bill...


REISCHAUER: ... nor were the many other healthcare bills that were rivals to the Clinton plan. Their sponsors were not very happy, too. So this just comes with the territory.

HARLOW: So do you think that it's too soon, though, for Democrats to call this a win, to look at this as something that will help them in the mid-terms in 2018?

Because the Republican pushback is, "Look, they're scoring part one of what, you know, we say is going to be a three-part plan here, including some of these different -- as Chris was just talking about, buying insurance over state lines, whether that will move the needle or not. And is it too soon for Democrats to say, "This is a win for us"?

REISCHAUER: Well, I do think it's too soon, but it certainly points in that direction. Remember that part two and part three, that the congressmen were talking about require the cooperation of the Democrats.


REISCHAUER: And nothing that we've seen so far suggests that that's going to be forthcoming.

HARLOW: How often would you say, in your five years, almost six years leading the CBO, did you guys get it right? What's a reality check for the American people?

REISCHAUER: I would say that 95 percent of the time, CBO is spot-on and when it isn't, it's very transparent about why. And the American people and the Congress should have some faith in that.

HARLOW: So Douglas Holtz-Eakin, another Republican who ran the CBO after you. Here's what he wrote in 2010. He said, "The CBO is indispensable, but it doesn't always get it right the first time, because it's forced by law to adhere to unrealistic assumptions." He went on in 2012 to say, "The budget office is required to take written legislation at face value and not second-guess the plausibility of what it is handed. So fantasy in, fantasy out."

Is he right?

REISCHAUER: Well, we all know that certain pieces of legislation can't continue unchanged. For example, Social Security and Medicare are going to run out of money in a decade or two. And CBO has to assume that the payments are going to continue.

So there are sort of requirements that it adhere to rules that the Congress has set for it. Not it has made up by itself. So, you know, there is an element of truth in that. But I don't think that undermines the value...

HARLOW: Right.

REISCHAUER: ... of what CBO does and has done in this case.

HARLOW: All right. Thank you so much for joining us, Robert Reischauer. We appreciate it.

REISCHAUER: You're welcome.

HARLOW: A quick programming note for you. You're going to want to watch CNN, and Wolf Blitzer, and Dana Bash for a live town hall with HHS Secretary Tom Price. It's all about this new GOP replacement plan. That is tomorrow night, Eastern Time, 9 p.m., only right here on CNN.

CUOMO: All right. Good conversation to have there, Poppy. Good timing on that.

Up next, a massive winter storm hammering the Northeast and mid- Atlantic states. We have the latest forecast with Chad Myers. You're going to want to know what comes next.