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Powerful Winter Storm Slams Northeast, Mid-Atlantic; Iowa Congressman Doubles Down On Controversial Tweet; CBO Estimates 24M Uninsured By 2026. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired March 14, 2017 - 07:30   ET


[07:32:20] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: A massive blizzard slamming the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states this morning. Millions of people are in the path. CNN meteorologist Chad Myers live in New York's Central Park. What's the flow like right now, my friend?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It has changed over to a sleet storm, Chris, and although that may slow down or knock down our snow totals -- it's not going to be a deep here if it keeps sleeting -- it's not going to reduce how much the snow weighs to move. By the time we're done with the sleet and the rain and more snow on top it's going to be about 11 pounds per square foot to shovel this. Now, think of the size of a driveway -- how many square feet are in a driveway -- 11 pounds. Almost every single scoop will be 11 pounds or more.

Now, back out to the west, that's where it's going to continue to snow. The Alleghenies, the Poconos, Harrisburg, Lancaster, on up toward Schenectady and even into New England. That's where it will be all snow. No sleet mixing in. It will be tougher there because they'll have to move that snow in a 40 mile per hour wind because the wind will pick up here. But even if we get a little bit of rain and the sleet mix in today, Poppy, it is going to be 20 degrees tomorrow morning. This isn't going to melt overnight. In fact, if it gets wet like it is down where Ryan is in Philadelphia, it's going to refreeze into a lot of black ice.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN HOST: I was just thinking about the odds of me getting home to Brooklyn tonight and getting back here in the middle of the night for the show tomorrow morning -- we'll see.


HARLOW: All right, thank you so much, Chad Myers. Joining us now is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Governor, nice to have you here. Because of the weather signal is a little bit in and out so we might -- we might see you come and go in this interview, but we're glad you're with us. Just give us the latest assessment from your office right now on what the models are showing you -- what places of New York are at the greatest risk.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK (via telephone): Well, thanks, Poppy. Good to be with you. It's -- this storm is a little tricky for us because it's a statewide event. Normally, with a state as big as New York it's either one end or the other. It's the eastern end towards Long Island or the western end towards Buffalo. This is statewide so we are fully deployed. We have 5,000 plows, we have 2,000 National Guard people who have been called out to help.

One of the good things is we got ahead of it yesterday. The airports are basically closed in New York -- John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia Airport. The government is closed, schools are closed so there's no real reason to be on the roads. The subways are operating in New York City. The aboveground railroads are operating for the time being. We'll probably suspend the service on the Metro-North which goes up to the northern part of the state.

[07:35:00] But, by and large, so far, so good. Again, it is statewide and the snow, plus sleet, plus wind is a nasty mix, but because of the light traffic -- the light volume -- we've been able to stay ahead of it.

HARLOW: Right, and no calls at this point, Governor, for cars to stay off the road or anything at this point, right, but that could happen at any time so best for folks to stay home?

A. CUOMO: Yes, it is best to stay home. People who came in on mass transit, there's a possibility that we'll suspend bus service later in the morning in New York City. As I mentioned, suspend Metro-North railroad later on. We'll do a tractor-trailer ban on some of the roads in New York because they are getting worse as we speak. So there's no good reason to be on the road unless it's a real emergency. And when people are on the roads you're going to get stuck out there. That's been a problem. It stops and impedes the first responders. So unless it's a real emergency you shouldn't be there.

I declared a state of emergency, which means unless you are a first responder or in pursuit of an emergency you shouldn't be on the road anyway.

HARLOW: And what are you guys expecting for tomorrow and the commute because we know this is going to be about 12 hours of consistent snow so it should be over by, you know, later tonight. But Chad Myers, our meteorologist, just warning everyone about some pretty severe black ice.

A. CUOMO: Well, it depends on how bad it gets overnight. You know, the change from snow to sleet is problematic. They'll be temperatures tonight that are below freezing and ice, as you know, is much tougher to deal with than snow and that's what we're going to have to watch.


A. CUOMO: If that happens the commute tomorrow could be especially problematic.

HARLOW: All right. Well, we know -- we know you're very busy. Thank you for being with us. And before I let you go I should let you know your hero brother, this morning on the way into work, managed to push out a sideways taxi. Doing his job before 6:00 a.m., before the show even starts.

A. CUOMO: Well, I want you to know, Poppy, I was there before he woke up. I actually shoveled out his driveway -- POPPY: Oh, yes?

A. CUOMO: -- so he could get out because -- oh, yes. Well, the snow is heavy. It's about 10-11 pounds with the sleet. It's more than he can handle so on the way in I shoveled him out because I thought it was important that he got to work.

HARLOW: All right, his muscles before your muscles.

C. CUOMO: I live in an -- I live in an apartment building, point of fact.

HARLOW: No driveway.

C. CUOMO: That's all I'm going to say.

A. CUOMO: Yes.

HARLOW: Only facts here on the program, Governor.

A. CUOMO: I'm just saying, Poppy.

C. CUOMO: Fake facts.

A. CUOMO: Well, yes --

HARLOW: They're alternative facts.

C. CUOMO: Don't stand in the cold too long. You know how cold your nose gets because it's so far from your face.

A. CUOMO: Yes.

C. CUOMO: So stay warm, Gov.

A. CUOMO: I don't want to comment on his facts.

C. CUOMO: Can we cut this feed?

A. CUOMO: He's mad because I shoveled him out.

HARLOW: I don't think I'll ever again say we're going to cut the feed on the governor right now. Governor Cuomo, thanks for all you guys are doing for the city -- Chris.

C. CUOMO: I mean, shouldn't he be out there shoveling snow, lowering taxes?

HARLOW: What are you doing right now? You're warm and cozy. I don't see you out with your snow gear on.

C. CUOMO: It's not my job.

HARLOW: Sometimes you can anchor from the snow.

C. CUOMO: Right after this I'll shovel out cars, I promise you. All right, doubling down and facing fire. Iowa Congressman Steve King standing by controversial statements. Fellow Republicans turning on him but not that fast and not as loudly and as proudly as might have been expected. Why, next.


[07:42:00] C. CUOMO: Iowa Congressman Steve King already under fire for a controversial tweet, feeling even more heat following his interview on NEW DAY yesterday. King doubled down on his tweet in support of far-right anti-immigrant Dutch politician Geert Wilders, saying, "Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies." I asked the congressman if he really wanted to stand by those words. Here's what he said.


REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: Well, of course,I meant exactly what I said, as is always is the case. You cannot rebuild your civilization with somebody else's babies. You've got to keep your birth rate up and that you need to teach your children your values. And in doing so, then you can grow your population and you can strengthen your culture. You can strengthen your way of life.


C. CUOMO: All right, let's discuss with Abby Phillip, CNN political analyst and "Washington Post" reporter. And, Kathie Obradovich, political columnist for "The Des Moines Register." Kathie, good to see you again. You were a great help during the campaign. It's good to have you back now.

Steve King, often on the show, likes to mix it up, likes to be provocative, but this was a real headscratcher, you know. He paused when I asked him whether or not -- whether you're a Christian American, Muslim American, Jewish American, whatever American, that we're all the same. He paused and he seemed to want to make a point about how everybody kind of contributes in their own way, and certain people don't teach the right things, and certain communities, and I just didn't get it. How does that play back home?

KATHIE OBRADOVICH, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, DES MOINES REPORTER: Well, you know, Steve King is well-known to Iowans and he is well-known for saying outrageous things, and he regularly wins reelection with 60 percent of the vote. He said something similar about this whole Western civilization -- protecting Western civilization last year during the Republican National Convention -- he made national news for it -- and it does not affect him during his reelection campaigns.

The governor of Iowa, yesterday, said oh, that's just Steve King, you know. We don't agree with what he says but, you know, he's been good for the state because he's for ethanol and other things that the governor does agree with. So, it is -- you know, I think that for Republicans in Iowa it's kind of a balancing act. I mean, Steve King's very popular in his district. That is the most Republican district in the state. You don't want to upset his constituency. On the other hand, people who have to run statewide are also dealing with Republicans who think that Steve King is an embarrassment, and so they have to walk a very narrow line. And it will be interesting to see how this plays out in 2018. The Democrats are energized. They want to get the State House back.

C. CUOMO: You know, one point of fact and a question to you, Abby. You know, we all spent a lot of time in Iowa. Not like Kathie but, you know, we've been there and I -- forget about what the demographics are of the state. It's a very inclusive place. People talk about America writ large all the time. It is not a place that's known for being at the tip of the spear of intolerance in this country, and then you have this from Steve King.

[07:45:03] But Abby, just as impressive as what Steve King said was the lack of what we heard everywhere else in D.C. It took awhile for people in his party to come forward and start saying yes, Idon't believe that there's a difference between different kinds of Americans, we're all the same. Why? Why the delay? Why the pause all over the place?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Yes, I mean, it really did take a while for some of these comments to really penetrate. And the response from someone like Paul Ryan, which was like I hope it was a misunderstanding, was incredibly tepid but it reflects the place that Republicans are in right now.

The idea that the United States needs to protect its culture by keeping other people outis something that is reaching to the highest levels of the U.S. government right now. Top advisers to the president, including Steve Bannon and Steve Miller, firmly believe that that's the foundation of their immigration policy and of their policy toward refugees and other things. So these issues are in many ways related and Republicans are tiptoeing around it because they don't want to go too far in condemning Steve King.

Also, they also recognize that he tends to say things like this quite a bit. And to Kathie's point, it doesn't have a demonstrative effect on his ability to gain reelection, which for people like Paul Ryan and people like Mitch McConnell that's the most important thing. They want to make sure the Republicans remain in office and even if they have to tolerate some comments that are more better -- less favorable to their viewpoints, they will do it. That is -- that is politics at this moment in time.

C. CUOMO: I just -- I can't think of anything that strikes more to the heart, Kathie, of what we're struggling with right now on a national level here about who are we. What are we about? What do we embrace? Have you seen any percolating of Iowans saying this is not who we are?

OBRADOVICH: Yes. I mean, we are just like everybody else. People started responding to this. It was on a Sunday so it may have taken a little bit -- a little bit longer than it might have otherwise. But yes, and, you know, of course we hear it most loudly and strongly from Democrats. But, you know, the chairman of the Republican Party in Iowa said, you know, diversity makes us stronger.

And, you know, he has a goal of getting one-third of the Hispanic and Latino vote in Iowa in 2018 and 2020 so this definitely does not help his cause when he wants the Republican Party to reach out to people who, you know, may have felt excluded by the party for a long time.

C. CUOMO: Boy, two big ideas pop up. One, the countries that Steve King was talking in Europe, they look at America because of its diversity. That's what they herald about this country, is it being the big melting pot. And for these -- you know, Abby, your point's right about people being slow on this and that which we ignore we empower.

Kathie, Abby, thank you for being with us, appreciate it. Pop --

HARLOW: All right, important conversation. Coming up for us, crunching those health care numbers. After the Congressional Budget Office scored this GOP health care plan, how do the numbers all add up? Our chief business correspondent Christine Romans brings us that, next.


[05:52:05] HARLOW: All right, so no question that Republicans are in damage control this morning after the Congressional Budget Office released its report on the impact of the GOP's health care plan to replace Obamacare. Here to break down the numbers -- what it all really means -- CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans. Good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Ah, the score, as it's known. Here are the takeaways of the CBO score of the GOP alternative to Obamacare, Poppy. First, the number the GOP may be happiest about. This is deficit -- the federal deficit would shrink by $337 billion by 2026. Why? Well, the government would spend less money on Medicaid and other health care aid. Premiums would spike for two years before falling -- falling by 10 percent in 2026. That's just the average. If you're older and lower income, expect to pay more.

The GOP's tax credits are not as generous as the Obamacare subsidies for some. An example, a 64-year-old making $26,500 a year -- look at this carefully -- would pay $1,700 for coverage under Obamacare. Under the GOP plan that premium would be $14,600. Again, since the tax credits did not offset as much as the cost as that Obamacare subsidy.

All right, so what does this mean for the uninsured? Twenty-four million fewer Americans with insurance by the year 2026. Fourteen million fewer with insurance just next year. What does that look like? Fifty million Americans were uninsured before Obamacare went into effect in 2010. That number fell to 27 million by 2016. With the new GOP plan, the uninsured would rise again to 52 million by 2026. Compare that if you stayed under Obamacare. It would be about 28 million would be the assumption there. Now, the Trump administration, Poppy, disagrees with this report so is the CBO gospel truth? Well, no, these are estimates. They're meant to guide policymakers -- nonpartisan estimates. In scoring Obamacare, the CBO underestimated the number of people who would enroll in the early days by about half. So it's not always perfectly perfect, Chris, but it's meant to guide the discussion.

C. CUOMO: Well, and they were pretty transparent, as we heard a former head of the CBO tell us as to why. You had former (sic) employers that didn't supply health care --

ROMANS: Right.

C. CUOMO: -- than they expected. You had fewer states do the expansion after the Supreme Court said it was, you know, an alternative for them, not a must. So there are different reasons that go into it. Thank you very much, Christine --

ROMANS: You're welcome.

C. CUOMO: - as always. Let's discuss this with people who know what they're talking about. Stephen Moore, CNN senior economics analyst and distinguished visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation. He advised President Trump during the campaign. Also joining us, Anthony Chan, chief economist for Chase. Gentlemen, thank you for being here.

The CBO testing the scoring of this, Stephen, saying that 24 million people will be uninsured in the next few years because of this. That seems to be a big price to pay. How damaging is this to getting it passed? Just for the people at home, you're seeing it on your screen right now some of the estimated impacts. Fourteen million more uninsured or not having insurance by 2018. Twenty-four by 2026. Premium rise over the next two years, then fall. And you're going to have deficits going down because you're going to have less spending on this plan. Stephen, your take?

[07:55:10] STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMICS ANALYST, FORMER SR. ECONOMIC ADVISER FOR TRUMP CAMPAIGN: So, Chris, look, I don't think you can pass a health care bill out of Congress if tens of millions of people are going to lose their health insurance over the next 10 years. It just isn't going to happen. And I think what Republicans are going to have to do -- and, by the way, I'm fully supportive of the idea of abolishing Obamacare and moving to something that makes more sense. I mean, we're on the Titanic right now. We've got to get off it and move to something that's going to work better.

But I think Republicans at this point, Chris, are going to have to educate Americans that their plan is going to provide more coverage for people and it's not going to throw people off the rolls. And look, if you have $300 billion of deficit reduction maybe they should devote some of that money to make sure that people aren't losing their insurance. There's got to be a better way to do this, though because right now our health insurance program -- our national plan -- Obamacare is not just bankrupting the government, it's bankrupting a lot of middle-class families who just can't afford it.

C. CUOMO: Mr. Chan, is that true? Is the ACA, the Obamacare plan in a death spiral? Is it a job-sucker? Are those true assumptions?

ANTHONY CHAN, CHIEF ECONOMIST, CHASE: I think that when you look at what we have right now you have to ask yourself why is it costing so much money. And the reason it's costing so much money is because so many people are covered. This Republican plan is scary in the sense that 24 million people at some point will be completely uninsured. Now, you can argue that somehow they have access. You know, the American people have access to a Rolls Royce showroom and everybody can go there and look at the car, but not everybody can afford it.

I don't people will drop their insurance policy simply because they choose to do so. If people were to drop insurance for their children, for their families it's primarily because they can't afford it, not because they choose to and they feel good about it. So, no, this plan has to be a fix -- and I agree with Stephen, by the way, that if you have $337 billion worth of savings some of that should, in fact, be invested to ensure that you don't get this huge drop-off but, right now, you do.

And one of the things I have a major problemwith is that when people look at this plan you argue oh, I don't believe this number, but when you have good things you say oh, I believe those. You can't cherry pick. You have to take the whole plan. The Congressional Budget Office is nonpartisan so you argue OK, the premiums are coming down by 2026 but that doesn't do anything good for the people that are going to be in the plan in 2018 and they're going to experience 15 to 20 percent. You can't tell them oh, don't worry about it. By 2026, you're going to have a 10 percent reduction.

C. CUOMO: And right --

CHAN: That's too late.

C. CUOMO: And right now, it's speculative. Stephen, when you start hearing the stories about these older people who voted for Trump, you know, who are very low-income or sustainable by fixed income, and they start not having the ability to get care because it's so expensive, that's going to be on you. And right now, it's just politics. Secretary Price saying the CBO, they shouldn't be in this. We can't trust them. Newt Gingrich saying get rid of the CBO. The guy running the CBO was Price's pick. He said great things about the guy. And the White House' own estimate for how many people were going to get dropped over the next few years, it's even higher than the CBO. It's 26 million.

So is that the way to go, shooting down the CBO, shooting down the estimate when your own White House estimate is even worse than the CBO's?

MOORE: Well, I think they have to explain to the American people why they disagree with these numbers. Look, I think a lot of these numbers are fantasy and here's the big problem.

C. CUOMO: Well, hold on a second, Stephen. If that number is fantasy -- again, political. There's a piece up right now anybody can go and read. The White House' own internal estimate is more severe than the CBO about how many people will be uninsured. So how can you attack the CBO number when your own number is worse?

MOORE: Because what I'm saying is that right now we are in a -- we truly are in a death spiral in the insurance market. Just talk to anybody who runs these health insurance plans or talk to employers. We saw a 25 percent increase this year. They're expecting 20 to 25 percent next year.

Now, the point I would make, Chris, is everybody's saying all these people are going to lose their insurance if we move to the Republican plan. No, people will lose their insurance if we stay under Obamacare because middle-class people -- the kind of voters that you're talking about -- elderly people, middle-class kind of Trump voters in those states like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania -- they can't afford Obamacare. I heard this from them firsthand when I was on the campaign trail.

If you're a middle-class family earning $40,000 or $50,000 a year and you're facing $2,000, $3,000, $4,000 increase in your premiums every year, you're not going to be able to continue to afford health insurance.

C. CUOMO: All right. Mr. Chan, final word on this. Do you believe that what's being offered by the Republicans right now is better than what we have right now?

CHAN: I think there's some good aspects. I was very impressed with the -- with the savings and I'm impressed with the future savings on the premiums, but over the near-term it's a disaster. We absolutely need to have more people insured, not less people insured, and this program doesn't do that, not with the near-term. But I do agree that if we use some of those savings -- remember that we're going to save --