Return to Transcripts main page


Political Fallout from Failure of House Health Care Bill Examined; Interview with Congressman Ted Poe. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired March 27, 2017 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:03] BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: They are now moving into these areas in Mosul and Raqqah that are very densely populated. These are neighborhoods full of civilians, ISIS taking human shields, taking hostages. If you're going to continue to prosecute from the air, it is going to be very tough to determine who is who down on the ground on these streets in these neighborhoods.

It is going to be a growing problem. We're going to be back here talking about it, I suspect, time and again. And even once they get Raqqah and Mosul back, the challenge for the Trump administration really now is to develop what the president promised, a plan to defeat ISIS. ISIS is still very much in small towns and villages up and down Iraq and Syria.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: He said he had a secret plan. He then asked the generals for a plan. He got that plan. It has not been revealed. It has not been debated, and yet American boots are founding their way to the ground in increasing numbers. Barbara, thank you very much. Molly, Arwa, please stay safe, thank you for the bravery and the reporting.

We're following a lot of news. What do you say? Let's get after it.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We were very close. Very, very tight margin.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: You can't threaten and intimidate, say I'll walk away. It's more complicated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no reason to gloat here. This program needs reform.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This place was a lot more rotten than we thought.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't solve the problems of Obamacare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think the president is closing the door on anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes truly lead an independent investigation?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's zero reason to cancel Tuesday's meeting. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The events of this week call out the need for an

independent commission.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're not going to come up with anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump is going to be proven correct.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. We begin with President Trump and the stinging defeat on healthcare. The president shifting the blame for the loss onto conservatives after first lashing out at Democrats.

CUOMO: In-fighting is infecting the highest levels of team Trump. We're seeing it play out in public. The administration says they need a win to advance the president's stalled agenda. Should they be focusing on the wins or the policies themselves? And can they reach across to Democrats after all the acrimony? Lots to cover on this day 67 of the Trump presidency. We have it all for you. Let's begin with Sara Murray live at the White House. Good morning, Sara.

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. This administration needed a win last week. They did not get it. Today they're going to try to regroup and move on to the next major priority. They say that's going to be tax reform, but it may not be as simple as they're hoping.


MURRAY: The White House desperate to move forward after a bruising defeat on healthcare.

REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: We are moving on to tax reform. We've got the budget coming up.

MURRAY: The Trump administration turning its focus to the next battle, cutting taxes, which could prove even more challenging, that after failing to deliver on the president's promise to repeal and replace Obamacare despite Republicans having control of the House and Senate.

SCHUMER: If you analyze what went wrong with ACA, he repeats them in tax reform, they'll get nowhere.

MURRAY: This as the finger-pointing intensifies.

MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: I think there's plenty of blame to go around. I think what happened is that Washington move.

SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARIZONA: I think the House moved too fast. Eighteen days is simply not enough time for such major landmark legislation. MURRAY: President Trump shifting the blame from Democrats to the

conservatives who stood in the way of the bill, tweeting they saved Planned Parenthood and Obamacare. As his chief of staff, Reince Priebus is leaving the door open to compromise.

PRIEBUS: If Democrats come on board with a plan don't road, we'll welcome that.

GOV. JOHN KASICH: They have to reach out across the aisle, and Democrats have to say we will work with you to improve and fix this plan for people.

MURRAY: Meanwhile, a longtime member of the House Freedom Caucus, Ted Poe, is resigning from the group over its role in defeating the bill. Poe writing in a statement, "Saying no is easy, leading is hard." House Speaker Paul Ryan also under scrutiny in the wake of the healthcare defeat. President Trump tweeting to his supporters to watch a specific FOX News program, which began like this.

JUDGE JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS HOST: Paul Ryan needs to step down as speaker of the House.

MURRAY: The White House is insisting that Trump didn't know the FOX host would make these comments and that the commander in chief is standing by the speaker.

PRIEBUS: He doesn't blame Paul Ryan. In fact he thought Paul Ryan worked really hard.

MURRAY: Republicans also gearing up for another fight over Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch with Democrats vowing to filibuster his nomination.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: I am for the Republicans obeying the rules that currently exist and not changing those rules. And the rules right now, for good reasons, are 60 votes.


[08:05:00] MURRAY: We're expecting another announcement from the White House today. The president is expected to unveil his American innovation office. This will be led by Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and a senior adviser. It's designed to make the government leaner and meaner by adopting policies used in private sector. Back to you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Sara, thanks so much for all that reporting.

Joining us now is Republican Congressman Ted Poe of Texas. He resigned from the House Freedom Caucus over the health care defeat. Good morning, Congressman.

REP. TED POE (R), TEXAS: Good morning, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Why did you resign? POE: Because the Freedom Caucus has always been the opposition caucus

against the Democrats, and now when we are in the majority, it continues to be the opposition caucus against anything in the Republican Party. And we had not been included in the past, but we were included in the healthcare replacement bill. We spent an hour- and-a-half with the president of the United States, the vice president, members of the cabinet, talking and making compromise. And compromises were made, things were added to the bill based upon the input of the Freedom Caucus. But then at the end of the day, no, it was easier to vote no.

And so I'm angry about that. I think it's time we lead and continue not to say no on everything that takes place when bills come forward in the House of Representatives.

CAMEROTA: Since the president did make those concessions to the House Freedom Caucus, what did they want?

POE: There's some members, I think, that wanted some really stronger parts of the repeal in the bill. But it would move too far to the right where you wouldn't get any other Republicans to support it. So it's a compromise. And I think there was nothing that could be added to the bill that the Freedom Caucus would ever vote yes on.

And so, you know, I got the opinion that there's some members of the Freedom Caucus, they would vote no against the Ten Commandments if they came up for a vote. So I think it's time that the Freedom Caucus worked together with other members of the Republican Party, have input, which we did with the speaker, the president of the United States, and then at the end of the day compromise to get something done. Now we have Obamacare. We promised for years we're going to repeal Obama care. We voted 60 times to repeal Obamacare. Then when it came down to repealing it, where it actually counted, people just said I'm not going to vote to repeal the bill.

CAMEROTA: You were prepared to vote yes. Is that right?

POE: That is correct. I was going to vote yes. Its' not a perfect bill, but it's a start in moving us in a different direction to have more input into healthcare. You know, repealing the individual mandate, repealing the corporate mandate, reducing taxes that are in Obamacare. There were some good things in it. No, it was not perfect, but I was ready to vote yes because everybody had an input in the Republican Party, and yet some would continue to say I'm not going to vote for the bill.

CAMEROTA: Have you spoken to the president since all of this happened on Friday?

POE: No, I have not. I have not spoken to him since we met with the president last week. I haven't talked to him.

CAMEROTA: Congressman, the people on the House Freedom Caucus, I don't have to tell you, they say they stand for conservative purity. So how do you work with that? They say they're standing on their principles. So how do you ever get them to come more towards the middle?

POE: Well, nobody is as conservative as I am in the House of Representatives. You can have your principles. And then when it comes to voting, you have to compromise to get something passed. Is it a pure bill? No, it's not a pure bill. So they let the perfect be the enemy of the good. And you're never going to get a perfect piece of legislation that individual conservatives approve of in the House of Representatives because there are 215 other members of the House who are Republicans that we have to work with to move the ball forward to lead. We are in charge. Let us lead.

And I'm upset about the fact that we had the chance to lead, to fulfill the number one promise that Republicans had to repeal Obamacare, and that at the end of the day people said they're going to vote to keep Obamacare. And that's very unfortunate.

CAMEROTA: Congressman, do you think that you are a lone voice in feeling this way? Or do you predict there will be other defections from the House Freedom Caucus?

POE: I'm not a lone voice in this. But I can't speak for other members of the Freedom Caucus on what they will do, whether they will stay or leave. But I've talked to other members, and they are distraught and upset about the fact that the bill was not passed even though we don't agree with everything in it.

[08:10:06] But I've talked with other members, and they may or may not leave the Freedom Caucus. That is their choice.

CAMEROTA: So what are your colleagues shares with you about what the future of the Freedom Caucus looks like?

POE: The Freedom Caucus, I think, will continue to be the opposition party in the Republican Party unless they change their concept. The issue was always the conservatives were not brought to the table in the Republican Party. Now we've been brought to the table. We talked to the president, we talked to the speaker, we talked to members of the Republican Party and we were brought to the table. We had our input. Changes were made. And they continued to vote no.

So if the history is the same, it will continue to be the opposition party in the party, and they will continue to vote no. And that's very unfortunate. So that's one reason that -- the main reason why I left the Freedom Caucus, because we cannot be effective if we continue to vote no.

CAMEROTA: Congressman Poe, here's the problem. The members of the Freedom Caucus get a lot of positive reinforcement in -- for being the party of no, if you will, back from their home districts. "Politico" has an article out this morning about how Chairman Mark Meadows is doing a victory lap in his home district. He's been given sort of a hometown hero's welcome. People say they're so happy he stood on his principles. So what do you do? How do you work with that?

POE: We have to make sure that even though there are many people who are glad the Freedom Caucus was no, step back and look at the country. We are in control. And we had our input. We had a lot of changes in the bill. And so we're not leading. At the end of the day, those people who are glad we voted no, well, we have Obamacare. We still have problems with Obamacare and the high taxes and people losing their coverage. And so are they glad now after all these years, the number one promise of the Freedom Caucus was to repeal Obama care that they voted no? So they didn't keep their word to the American public. And I think when Americans realize that nothing has been accomplished, that we have the status quo, I think they may change their mind about those who were voting no based upon, as they say, their principles.

CAMEROTA: Congressman what does this do for President Trump's agenda? What can get done?

POE: We have the tax situation, which is next. I think that is going to be more difficult, to change the tax structure of the country, than replacing and repealing Obama care. We'll see that it's going to be very difficult. The president is going to have a plan. He's going to try to get as many people in the House of Representatives to support that plan.

But whatever the plan will be, it would not -- it's not going to be as conservative as some people will want because the conservatives continue, unfortunately, to vote no, no matter what. And so there have to be other people in the House of Representatives, including Democrats, to change the tax plan if that is possible.

CAMEROTA: Is there anything that is a slam dunk? Infrastructure?

POE: I don't think infrastructure is a slam dunk either because there's money that has to be appropriated to fix the terrible problem of infrastructure in the country, especially transportation. So we're going to have to vote for more spending. And I think there are going to be those in the Republican Party who are going to be opposed to spending more on infrastructure, even though that is absolutely necessary.

So we've got to quit saying no. We have to work together in the Republican Party and at the end of the day come up with a plan where everybody had input and then support that plan. Even though it's not a perfect plan, vote for something that can help the country overall. It is so easy to sit back, cross your arms, and say no, not going to support that. And then what do we have? We have a situation where we're not making positive changes in the country or leading. And that's the problem we have. We have to lead. We're the party in power. We have to lead whether people want to or not.

CAMEROTA: Congressman Ted Poe, you have your work cut out for you. Thanks so much for taking time here on NEW DAY.

POE: Thank you very much.

CAMEROTA: Nice to talk to you.

CUOMO: All right, so this healthcare defeat looms large. There's no question that it was a painful experience for the president. Now, what did it mean for the speaker? There's a lot of intrigue about this. The White House seems to be trying now to backfill and say Ryan's OK. We're going to talk to somebody who used to be the former chief of staff for Ryan about how this will affect him and where we go from here, next.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The Trump administration failing to make good on Mr. Trump's -- one of his big campaign promises, to repeal and replace Obamacare. So the White House is now turning its attention to tax reform.

Congressman Ted Poe, who was just on our program. He just resigned from the House Freedom Caucus. He painted a pretty dire picture for the president's agenda.

CUOMO: Let's discuss why. CNN political commentator and former senior adviser to the Trump campaign, Jack Kingston, former chief of staff to House Speaker Paul Ryan and senior adviser to One Nation Health Coalition, David Hoppe, and CNN political commentator and former Democratic Ohio senator, Nina Turner.

It's good to have you all with us this morning. Mr. Hoppy, how do you think Ryan is dealing with this situation? Do you think this has put his speakership in jeopardy?

DAVID HOPPE, SENIOR ADVISER, ONE NATION HEALTH COALITION: Not at all. Frankly, there's broad support for Paul as being speaker. Now having said that, I think what he's doing now is he will go back and look at the substance, how we get there, how you move forward on the substance. That's where he's most comfortable.

But they'll have to broaden out and bring in some of the groups, both the Tuesday Group as well as the House Freedom Caucus to start talking about how they find a spotted in the middle. Because they're going to have to -- nobody is going to get everything they want.

[08:20:02]And some of this will have to be done through regular order, which means it's going to take 60 votes in the Senate because it was done in two bills. It can only be undone in two bills and that means one of them has to be regular order.

CAMEROTA: Jack, the problem is with the way David just outlined it is that the House Freedom Caucus doesn't want to come to the middle to try any solution. They like the beachhead they have established where their conservative principles are pure. So how will they ever work with Paul Ryan?

JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, one of the very effective things Newt Gingrich did when I was in the House is we had conservative versus moderate splits as well. Different names but same sort of issues.

He brought them in to his office, they would meet regularly. It was run by Richard Pambo (ph) of California, and Chris Shays (ph) of Connecticut, and he forced them to meet every week and come up with middle ground on particular solutions. In that case, he started off with EPA environmental issues, but this time, Mr. Ryan can say, you are going to have to come up with some common grounds on healthcare.

And by the way, while you're talking with each other if you want to bring in representatives from Club of Growth or (inaudible) or Planned Parenthood, whomever, and listen to them, it would be good for the cause.

Because we need you to understand if we stick together we have a more Republican product than if we're split because if we're split, we're guaranteed to go back into the minority.

CUOMO: So Nina, this has all played to your advantage. Republicans are saying it's 60 vote time. That means Democrats. A lot of them are saying there's certainly problems with the ACA, we should be talking about those problems because they're in a jam, right.

The president said let the ACA die on its own. It probably won't, but if you're there to help people and you know things need to be fixed, get to fixing, that falls on you as well. Should Democrats step up now and say we've identified things in the ACA that should be fixed, let's work together on those.

NINA TURNER (D), FORMER OHIO STATE SENATOR: Yes, you hit the nail on the head, Chris. It is not simply, you can't govern just by saying what you're against, you have to stand up and talk about what you're for. So Democrats certainly have a prime opportunity to bring the fix to the Republicans and try to negotiate.

I think what Speaker Ryan is enduring is similar to what Speaker Boehner endured from my state when he was speaker of the House. So the honeymoon is pretty much over when you have to deal with the factions within the Republican Party which are many.

Speaker Ryan is certainly feeling that pressure right now, but you know, where there is a will, there is a way and so I am hoping that the Democrats will step up. You know, Chris, it does not play necessarily to the advantage of the Democrats.

I want to put that out there. We need elected officials on both sides of the aisle who will play to the advantage of the people. That's not happening right now.

CAMEROTA: David, look --

HOPPE: As President Obama famously said in 2013, I won the election. The Republicans won the election this time. I think there is a way to reach out and work together. Here's the fundamental thing that has to be changed.

Democrats will have to accept, which is this is now a governmentally dominated healthcare system in the United States. That's what the ACA was. The Republicans want to change it back or change it over to a new system, which is a market oriented doctor/patient relationship system. If the Democrats are willing to work on that, then I think there's a lot of places where we can go to find some bipartisanship. Once again, fundamentally you have to start moving back to a market doctor/patient oriented relationship system. If you don't have that, then there probably won't be bipartisanship.

CUOMO: Mr. Hoppe, I understand the power of that slogan, but when you say let's go back to and market based, those are both things that you can't point to any examples of success. What was going on before was not working that well. Where do you have a market based health insurance system that works well?

KINGSTON: You have it in dentistry and in plastic surgery, if I can jump in you have it anywhere where the consumer has more skin in the game than a third party payer. Dentist rates have stayed very low and plastic surgery also. This is just two examples but --

CAMEROTA: But I mean, plastic surgery is elective. That's not, you know, people's (inaudible).

KINGSTON: It's still market based, though. One other thing that I wanted to mention, I was talking to Dave Hoppe about it, during the contract with America days, Newt Gingrich kept us in Washington five days a week. It was miserable. We were in session many nights until midnight.

One of the things Paul Ryan could do very effectively right now is cancel the April recess. There's two weeks, he can say we're canceling both of them. Maybe we can get one back if we all decide to come together and put pressure on ourselves.

CAMEROTA: Is he inclined to do that, David Hoppe?

HOPPE: I -- you have to look at the situation. I think the membership would be concerned about that. Having said that, I think Congressman Kingston has a good idea that they have to dial up the aggressive working schedule they need.

[08:25:11]Let me just say one other thing, this is not going back to anything. It's a new proposal to go to a market which functions. If you look at the weaknesses in our system, the weaknesses in our system are where the government tries to control it.

And then you have rationing, or do you go to a system where more people have more options, health savings accounts, access, benefits, choices, that's what a new system would be. We haven't had that because of World War II because of the way the system was set up through the tax situation from the wage and price stability commission in World War II.

It's time to look at a new system, a very different system that will focus on individuals, families, small groups and businesses, as opposed to large employers, although that should stay, because where it works it works well.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Nina? TURNER: Certainly the Republicans have had seven years. OK, they've been out there talking about how they want to repeal and replace. They had seven years. If you can't come up with a bill that benefits the American people in seven years, something is wrong.

There's no doubt that the ACA needs fix. But the fix that the Republicans put forward is one that puts burden on the backs of the American people in this country and that is not what President Trump campaigned on.

And so I do agree with that one point that no one in Congress should go on recess until they get this right because people's livelihoods hang in the balance. This is not just about some market based system. This is about a system that benefits the people in this country.

And that is what President Trump campaigned on and that is what the Republicans need to deliver. They had seven years. You're right. They did win the election so they need to start acting like it and govern.

CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you. Sorry, Congressman, we're out of time. Dave Hoppe, thank you very much. Nina Turner, thank you all for all the varying perspectives.

CUOMO: All right, so the president and the people around him, they keep saying he's in need of a victory. They have to put points on the board. How are the Democrats going to play in this situation right now? We have the head of the party or the co-head of the party, Congressman Keith Ellison is just ahead. What does he have to offer?