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Severe Weather Threatens U.S. Northeast; CBO Scores House Health Care Plan; Interview with OMB Director Mick Mulvaney; Interview with Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired March 14, 2017 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] ANTHONY CHAN, CHIEF ECONOMIST, CHASE: But over the near term it's a disaster. We absolutely need the gap, more people insured, not less people insured, and this program doesn't do that over the near term.

But I do agree that if we use some of the savings, remember that we are going to save more than $800 billion with this plan. But how are we going to do that? By reducing our expenditures to Medicaid. That is not the way to increase the number of people that are enrolled. Remember that when we criticize that the White House under the Obamacare, that the CBO overestimated how many people would join the exchanges, OK, you can criticize that. But the other side was that when you look at the number of people that joined through the Medicaid portion, that number was underestimated. So you can't cherry-pick. You either attack the entire report or not take credit for the parts that actually suit your argument.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: More Americans turned out to be eligible for Medicaid than was anticipated, and fewer employers stopped offering coverage and fewer states expanded Medicaid. There's always a reason. The CBO is usually pretty transparent about that. And again, the White House's own analysis on "Politico," take a look at the piece, was more people left uninsured than even the CBO says. Gentlemen, thank you very much, appreciate this. We'll need you back soon. Steven, I am sorry, I owe you time for next time.

We are following a lot of news. Let's get to it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

CUOMO: Good morning, and welcome to your NEW DAY. Alisyn is off. Poppy Harlow is with us. Thank you very much as always. We begin with breaking news. There's a powerful winter storm slamming the northeast and mid-Atlantic states. Take a look up on the screen right now. Tens of millions are in the path of the storm. Eight states are under blizzard warnings, and we have hours left to go.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely, folks. This is just the beginning. This is a huge nor'easter. It is expected to dump as much as one to two feet of snow in some areas. Schools here in New York City are closed as well as schools in Philadelphia and Boston. White out conditions causing more than 5,000 flights today alone to be canceled. Let's begin our coverage this hour with our meteorologist Chad Myers in New York Central Park. It was whipping winds at 6:00 a.m., it was sleet at 7:00. What do you see now?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We are moving back to snow now, which means we'll start to pile it back up rather than just make it heavy. The snowflakes coming down as the low pressure center that will be the nor'easter just firing up right now, getting into the Atlantic Ocean, almost making an ocean affect, hitting that ocean, almost like a lake- effect snow storm but think about how bigger the ocean is than the lake or any of the lakes.

I'm going to take you up here to the light pole, because earlier today we only saw the sleet coming down. Now you can begin to see the large snowflakes mixing in, and we're getting snowflakes this big all the way from Harrisburg through the Poconos and Hazelton and on up towards Schenectady and all of upstate New York into Vermont, New England, and even into Maine today. That's the area. The areas that I just talked about, probably 150 miles west of these big cities they will absolutely see two feet of snow, and then when the storm really gets going the winds will blow 50 miles per hour. That's the real threat later on today.

Now, the areas that are getting rain and even sleet mixing in with the rain, it looks just wet. That looks good now but by tonight it will be 20 degrees and all of that water will refreeze and that will be an icy mess all across the northeast, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, so even when the snow ends the problems don't end. Chad, we'll stay on it. Thank you very much for being there. Schools are closed this morning in several major cities, including New York, Boston and Philadelphia. CNN's Ryan Young live in Philly with more. How is it now?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, you know, I got my back turned just a little bit to deal with the sleet and the ice and the rain that's coming down. That's really one of the painful issues here in terms of being outside for this because of all the strong winds here. We are dealing with gusts up for about 35 miles per hour so far.

The real story is the snow stopped around 3:30, and now we are getting that slushy mix. If you look back at the roads we have actually seen some of the drivers who are doing the heavy equipment park their trucks because they don't need to move the ice and snow off the roads at this point. And 2,000 pieces of equipment are on the road, and like you said, schools are closed.

But I want to show you something. Of course we had the snow shovel and we're going to be dealing with, but this is what we are really dealing with, just this sloppy, slushy mess. That could be a problem if it gets cold again in terms of freezing on the road, black ice. Right now that's not the issue. We even had people riding by us on bicycles at this point and saying it's not that bad, but tell that to my face right as it keeps hitting us right there, Poppy.

HARLOW: I think to, Chris, he can anchor from the snow, so maybe he'll see us out there, tomorrow morning. Ryan Young, you're doing a great job for us. Thank you very much, my friend. I've been there so many times.

Let's turn to politics. Republicans in damage control. After the Congressional Budget Office scored the GOP's plan to replace Obamacare, the CBO estimating 24 million more Americans will be uninsured over the next decade if this bill becomes law. These are tough numbers for the White House to sit with. Let's see how they talk about it today as we enter day 54 of President Trump's presidency. Sunlen Serfaty is live on Capitol Hill with more. What is the buzz up there?

[08:05:07] SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, this bill, frankly, was already facing a very tough slog ahead up here on Capitol Hill, but these new numbers are potentially devastating to its fate going forward. And that's why we're seeing the White House and Republican leaders really shift into damage control mode, trying to downplay the impact of this report on Capitol Hill.


SERFATY: The Congressional Budget Office projecting 14 million Americans would lose their coverage next year, with 24 million people uninsured by 2026 under the Republican health care plan to replace Obamacare.

TOM PRICE, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: 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 nonpartisan office throughout the week even before seeing the numbers.

MICK MULVANEY, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET DIRECTOR: If the CBO was right about Obamacare to begin with there would be 8 million more people on Obamacare today than they actually are. Sometimes we ask them to do stuff they are 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 over a decade. And though premium are expected to increase by up to 20 percent over the next two years, the CBO anticipates they will actually drop by an average of 10 percent by 2026.

MULVANEY: Something the CBO may have gotten right in this report is 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 have 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) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I am excited about the analysis. And yes, I think they 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: I am not going to defend Donald Trump, not now, not in the future, and you guys know I had real concern with the nominee. I'm going to focus my time on campaigning for House Republicans.


SERFATY: And CNN did previously report what Paul Ryan said back when it happened in October, but what is new here is the emergence of the audio clip at this specific time, the fact it was also done so on the conservative website Breitbart at a time when many conservatives up here on Capitol Hill, they want to try and force the Republican leadership and Paul Ryan specifically to change parts of its bill, and also want President Trump to walk away parts of the bill as well. Chris?

CUOMO: Let's shift from tactics in politics to the politics of policy. Joining us now is Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget. We know you have been making your rounds this morning. Appreciate you fitting us in. It's an important discussion. What is your take on the CBO scoring?

MICK MULVANEY, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET DIRECTOR: Good morning from Washington where according to the CBO it's sunny and 75 degrees this morning. I had to, it's too easy.

What is our take on the report is exactly what we expected to see. I was surprised to hear you use the word "damage control" used so much in that previous report. That's not right. This is exactly what we thought the CBO would come forward with. They're terrible at counting coverage. You mentioned in that earlier piece that the CBO report is 14 million people will lose care in year one. Let's go very quickly to what happens in year one. The mandate goes away. That's it. None of the new policies kick in. The mandate goes away. What does that mean? That means the CBO is telling you that someone on the day after the Republican plan goes into effect will drop off of Medicaid they are getting for free and replace it with nothing. I'll say that again. The CBO is assuming if you get Medicaid, once the mandate is gone you will give up your free Medicaid and replace it with nothing. The CBO is full of errors. Not errors. They're just bad assumptions like that. It's the only way you can get to these bizarre numbers. So I don't think it's damage control as much as laying out to people exactly what we thought would happen. The CBO doesn't do a very good job of counting coverage.

CUOMO: That seems to assume that they would intentionally make mistakes, because the CBO is pretty transparent that the amount of time and the amount of unknowns that re built into this would are going to create some vagaries of analysis. And they had some of them in the ACA as well, but they are pretty transparent about going into it.

[08:10:02] And according to "Politico," you had your own estimate when you were getting ready for the CBO, and it was more than the CBO came up with in terms of how many people would be uninsured?

MULVANEY: Somebody mentioned that on the drive over here this morning through the snow, thanks for mentioning it. The OMB has been very clear from the very beginning. One of the differences between the Office of Management and Budget which I know fairly well by now, and the CBO is that we admit we don't know how to count coverage. The OMB does not count coverage. If there is a CBO report that has coverage information in it, the only thing we would have been able to use as base data was from the CBO. But there is no OMB report that says it's worse than the CBO report. We simply don't have the ability to do that.

CUOMO: So "Politico" says that they looked at a document on Monday in which you had your own internal analysis, the pushback they got was this is not an analysis of the bill, it's just OMB trying to project what CBO's score would be using CBO's methodology. Does that document exist and is that what you were doing with?

MULVANEY: I don't know if the document exists because I have not seen it. If it exists, you just confirmed what I said, which is that we don't have the ability to do it independently at OMB. If there is such a document that deals with coverage it would have by necessity had to have used the CBO numbers because they are the only ones around and we think they are deeply flawed. So you can't put too much credit on that document.

CUOMO: I get it. Let's unpack that for a second, because one, it is a little logically tortured to say we don't like the CBO's estimates, they don't know what they're doing, but we use their methods of analysis to come up with our own projections about what they do. That's a little tortured logically. But I want to get to something else factually. You are the head of OMB. Do you know whether or not this document exists, because it is supposedly an OMB document that was reviewed by "Politico," because Sean Spicer is saying it's fake, it's false, it's not real. Is that true? Is there no such document?

MULVANEY: First of all, two things. You said it's tortured logic. It's completely sound logic if what you are trying to do is see what the CBO is going to come out with it. You take the CBO's methodology, you take their numbers, and you try and anticipate what they're coming out with. CUOMO: But if you don't put any stock in how they do their analysis why would you mirror it in your own analysis. I get it, you want to anticipate what they are doing, but again, it's a little tortured in terms of doing it.

MULVANEY: Go to your second point about the "Politico" story which I just found out about this morning. I don't know if there is an OMB document or not. I have not seen one. I did not ask for one to be done. It's possible it could have been done under the previous administration. I have no idea. All I know is that OMB knows we don't count coverage.

CUOMO: How would the previous administration have done an analysis about a plan they didn't know about yet?

MULVANEY: They did, as a matter of fact, back in January --

CUOMO: You mean in January, not back during the Obama administration? You are saying --

MULVANEY: There was a CBO report out in January that scored repeal with no replace. And it showed 20 million people uncovered and so forth, but no one was offering a repeal with no replace bill at that particular time. It may be that that document is the foundation of the document you mentioned.

CUOMO: I am just saying, as the head of OMB you are a good guy to ask as to whether or not it exists. Sean Spicer says it's false and fake, you're saying you don't know. Hopefully we'll get some middle ground on that about what it is because because "Politico" has got it up on their website right now.

Let me ask you something else, these numbers. We've heard Republican after Republican say it's very hard to sell something to the American people that includes many millions not getting insurance. Do you agree with that, and how do you address it?

MULVANEY: The Democrats did it for years. The Democrats sold Obamacare for years even though it didn't provide people with any coverage -- excuse me, without any health care. That's how we're trying to talk about this, because this is really what counts. One of the reasons I guess they ask me to do these shows is I was on Obamacare. As a member of the House I was on Obamacare. My premiums were between $12,000 and 15,000 a year. That was the exact same program that many millions of Americans had that make a lot less than I did.

Yes, Obamacare gave them a card that said they had insurance but it did not permit them to go to the doctor because they couldn't afford to pay for the services. That's what we are trying to fix and that's what we are trying to sell. Yes, the Democrats were concerned about coverage. They are patting themselves on the back for giving you coverage, but you still couldn't afford to go to the doctor. That's what we are trying to fix. And I have news for you, that's something we can sell. CUOMO: The question becomes whom are you fixing it for, right. And

in doing this analysis and plan, there are definitely pockets of people that it seems by your projections are going to wind up doing better here, the young and health of some means, that's an absolute in any health care scenario. But if you take money out of the system, especially in Medicaid, whether it's phased in over several years or right away, those who don't have means, who don't benefit from a health care savings account, they are not going to have better ability to get coverage. They are going to have less ability.

[08:15:01] And isn't that something you have to own?

MULVANEY: See, and that's sort of the way we looked at health care in this country for so long because the government has been so involved in our health care. Everything else that you have on your person today, your phone, your watch, whatever, is of a higher quality and a cheaper cost than it was five years ago.

Why can't Medicaid be like that?

Why can't we drive innovation into Medicaid?

Why can't we improve the quality of services for our neediest citizens and do it at a lower cost?

We can. We can do it through the way the Republicans are proposing now by giving states more control.

When I was in the state legislature, we used to beg the federal government to give us more control over our Medicaid dollars because we knew we could do it more efficiently. We wanted to help poor people as much as the federal government did. But we knew we can do it better.

This bill gives the states the chance to do that so it's entirely consistent to say that the quality care can go up and the cost can go down because it happens in every other part of our economy.

CUOMO: So can you say today, as a guarantee to the American people, don't worry; if you are getting your care through Medicaid and one of the states with the expansion or you are one of these elderly or at a certain price point, the CBO is wrong, you are not going to lose your coverage?

MULVANEY: We're not pulling the rug out from anybody. You've heard us say that again and again and again. The bill is specifically tailored to do that. And everybody else who's had an insurance card under ObamaCare have looked at that deductible when they got sick and said, you know what, I just can't afford to go the doctor, I can look you in the eye and say, things are going to be better when this bill passes --

CUOMO: Even those elderly, that the CBO score has them hitting about $14,000 deductible?

MULVANEY: Because, again, that they have got programs now that they can't get to the doctor with. Again, you are talking about coverage; I'm talking about care. That's the fundamental disconnect here. But folks will be available -- will be capable of going to the doctor again.

CUOMO: One last question, different topic.

You got a second?


CUOMO: All right. So the White House has instructed --

MULVANEY: I am just sitting here in a room all by myself talking to a camera, so...

CUOMO: You are making the rounds and I appreciate it because it's an important discussion. The White House has instructed the State Department and the U.S. mission to the U.N. to cut their budgets for U.N. programs, nearly in half, is the reporting including U.S. peacekeeping and development assistance.

The dramatic cuts, which include a 37 percent or about $20 billion in a cut of funding for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, as you know, it has met with resistance by the men and women who have to keep America safe.

They say this is not the kind of priority to cut abroad because it may increase our military involvement because of a lack of diplomatic and programmatic involvement.

Are you worried about that?

MULVANEY: A couple different things. I think the numbers that you have seen are not accurate. We will be rolling out the final version of our -- of our budget on Thursday and have a chance to talk about that in more detail then if you would like.

But let's be perfectly clear about what the budget does. The budget takes the policies that President Trump laid out on the campaign trail and turns them into numbers. That's it. That's all it does.

What did the president say on the campaign trail?

I am going to spend more money on defense. I'm going to spend more money enforcing the border. I'm going to spend more money just enforcing laws on the books. I'm going to spend more money on the educational choice and I'm going to spend less money giving money to folks overseas.

And that's what the budget is and what you've just explained is the manifestation of that.

CUOMO: Right. And that will become the main question. You're always invited on NEW DAY, Mr. Mulvaney. These are important conversations to have. When you figure out the final number, we'll make the case; you make the case on how it's going to affect American safety. Happy to test it here any day.

MULVANEY: Thanks, y'all.

CUOMO: All right. Be well.

A quick programming note. Join Wolf Blitzer and Dana Bash for a live town hall with HHS Secretary Tom Price. That's the man who's going to be in charge in putting into action whatever GOP plan replaces Obamacare. That's tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.

HARLOW: He certainly has a big job ahead of him.

Well, coming up, the White House changing its tune quite a bit about the president's baseless wiretapping claims. A total reversal, of course, in comments from Sean Spicer yesterday, and what the administration is now saying? That's next.


[08:22:47] HARLOW: So, new deadline for the Justice Department. It now has until Monday to present to Congress any evidence of the president's claim that he was being wiretapped by President Obama. Monday happens to be the same day, of course, that the House Intelligence Committee will hold its first public hearing into Russia's alleged meddling.

The White House is now walking back what they say the president meant by his numerous tweets about wiretapping. Listen.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think there's two things that are important about what he said. I think recognizing that it's the Obama -- 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. That is a widely reported activity that occurred back then. The president used wiretap in quotes to mean broadly surveillance and other activities.


HARLOW: All right. Joining me now is Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California. She is a member of the House Intelligence Committee. She's got a busy week ahead of her, starting on Monday.

Thank you for being with us.

Let me just get your thoughts on what you and your committee plan to do if, indeed, the DOJ does not present any evidence. The deadline was yesterday. They asked for an extension. You guys gave them until Monday.

If they don't come forward with anything, saying here it is, here's how we know that -- you know, President Obama, they say, the president says wiretap his phones. Do you plan to subpoena any evidence?

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I think there's no question that we would subpoena any evidence. But, Poppy, what is really important to point out here is that you cannot wiretap a U.S. person without going to a judge and showing probable cause that there has been elicit activity engaged in.

And there would be a paper trail of that somewhere, something very easily to pull out of the file and give to the intelligence committee. This -- you know, we have been following Mr. Trump's tweet down a rabbit hole because meanwhile, he is dismantling many of the programs in the federal government that are critical to peoples' lives.

HARLOW: So, we're going to get we're going to get to that in moment, and we're going to get to your take on the CBO score of the health care replacement plan. But just I just wonder what the long-term plays here.

[08:25:02] So, let's say you subpoena that, whether or not you don't get anything, then where do you go from there? Because this is a president that has presented things without any factual basis and it has not hurt him. For example, questioning, you know, where the former president was born, questioning, wanting to see his birth certificate for years, he still got elected. Then, his claim of voter fraud, that 3 million to 5 million Americans voted -- people voted fraudulently the last election, again, no evidence presented.

So, if you don't get any evidence on this one, what's the long-term play? Where are your teeth in this?

SPEIER: Well, the long-term play is we will call upon the president to recant and apologize to former President Obama. I mean, you do not make those kinds of allegations, criminal allegations, against a former president as he did so recklessly. It's that reckless behavior that the American people are going to start to wonder whether or not he is capable of doing the job.

HARLOW: And you think you will get President Trump to do that?

SPEIER: Well, I think the Congress, at least some of the members of Congress, certainly the Democrats in Congress, will take action calling on him to recant and apologize.

HARLOW: OK, I want to get your take on this. So, the CBO has come out. They scored this health care plan. Mick Mulvaney, you just heard, head of the OMB, just took issue with the use of the word "damage control". He says Republicans are not in damage control, said the CBO got it totally wrong.

You know, the argument is Trump came out and said it's a, quote, "big, fat beautiful negotiation," so there's room to give he's making clear. Here's how Paul Ryan put it.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Two, as Tom Price at HHS, brings choice and competition, lets the states open up markets, which will lower prices even more. And part three are the other bills that we will be passing, interstate shopping across state lines, association of heath care plans to let people bulk buy insurance nationwide, medical liability reform, those will drop premiums even further and make health care even more accessible.


HARLOW: So, Republicans' argument, Congresswoman, is that this is part one of a three-part plan. Is it too soon for Democrats to call this and look at this like a win?

SPEIER: It's dead on arrival. This bill is not going to pass the Senate for sure. And maybe not even the House. All the American people need to understand is that doctors and health care providers and the AARP are all opposed to it. The only people who are supporting it are some insurers and those persons making over $450,000 a year.

This is an effort by the administration to really take away health insurance from the 20 million Americans that now have it that didn't have it before.

HARLOW: So, what they say, Congresswoman, is that, you know, it is them trying to make health care more affordable. I get the argument.

Look, you would see 10 million to 14 million people off of the Medicaid they rely on now, I get that. But this would be people because of the mandate would go away that are opting not to buy it. I know some folks who would opt not to buy it.

Here's the thing -- the health care plan as it stands now, Obamacare has meant spiking premiums across the country, as high as 116 percent in Arizona. It's also meant that Humana has dropped off. Aetna not only dropped off, but called it a dead spiral.

What are -- what is the Democrats' plan to fix the existing system? What do you think needs to change with what exists in America that is not perfect?

SPEIER: After Obamacare passed, we recognized that it needed to be fine tuned. There were amendments seeking to put in the bill. The Republicans were totally resistant to that. When Medicare was passed, it wasn't perfect right out of the box. It was, in fact, amended many times.

So, there are many things we have to do. Cost containment is the most crucial element that has to be fixed in the Affordable Care Act. We have many measures to do that.

HARLOW: Look, that's a long discussion, but, you know, it's harder and harder to do that when you have more of the big providers dropping out because the math is not working with them.

Congresswoman, come back on NEW DAY. Thank you very much for joining us. SPEIER: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, Poppy, only a week of winter left but you would not know it if you look outside. This is a serious nor'easter slamming the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. Right now, we have hours of snow and then rain and then freezing and then more snow. What's ahead? We got a meteorologist you can't miss, next.