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House GOP Leaders Speak on Health, Tax Plans; Treasury Secretary Promises "Biggest Tax Cut" in History. Trump Proposal Slashes Corporate Tax to 15 percent; Trump Rips "Ridiculous" Sanctuary Cities Ruling. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired April 26, 2017 - 10:00   ET



[10:00:24] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Poppy Harlow. In moments, House Speaker Paul Ryan will speak. First time we've heard from him since they were - he was on recess and also, since this morning, the White House promised what will be the biggest tax cut and tax reform this country had the ever seen, ever, ever, ever.

BERMAN: So, how will the speaker respond? Here he's betting in a different way than Nancy Pelosi. We are waiting to hear from the House Democratic leader as well.

Now, just a few moments ago, the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, he offered a first look at some parts of this White House tax proposal.


STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: This is going to be the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country and we are committed to seeing this through.


BERMAN: In the history of this country which should make it a very big tax cut. We are joined by CNN's Phil Mattingly who was at that speech and is now on Capitol Hill. Phil, what are you learning?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, really managing expectations there, John. But look, he's not wrong. If you look at the proposal that the White House will be putting out today -- and again, it is principles. It's not a fully flushed out plan, but those principles would make dramatic changes to the U.S. tax code particularly on the corporate side.

What they're looking at, at the topline is dropping the corporate rate from 35 percent down to 15 percent and also dropping the rate for pass-through which is mostly made up of small businesses and the majority of small businesses in the country from 39 percent to 15 percent. That is a dramatic change, but it's also an expensive one. Guys that would add up to about $4 trillion and that number alone, creates major problems here on Capitol Hill. But the administration notes two things. One, this is a starting point and two, their goal is growth. Take a listen at what the Treasury secretary had to say.


MNUCHIN: The difference between 1.6, 1.8 and 3 percent GDP is staggering. It's trillions of dollars of revenues. It's tons of jobs. This bill is about creating economic growth and jobs and you're right, we should call this the 2017 tax reform for economic growth and jobs to make America great again. I just named them.


MATTINGLY: Not quite sure that name is going to stick. It's a little catchy but somewhat long. There also will be a significant increase in the individual standard deduction, but for the most part the focus is on the corporate side. Again, this is the initial kind of part of the game. This is the administration putting their stamp on something. It would already have major problems on Capitol Hill. As you noted, John, it goes really kind of against what we heard from Speaker Paul Ryan but they're laying their cards on the table to start. And the process kind of gets kicked off today.

HARLOW: On top of taxes in this development, some movement, it seems like, Phil on health care. I mean, you've been working your sources, in Republican sources, is it for real, real this time?

MATTINGLY: The 3.0 version of this is all coming to a head again. Look, as we speak right before Speaker Ryan comes out to his press conference, members were in a private meeting, the entire House Republican Conference, part of that meeting was being briefed on the latest proposal, the changes, negotiations that happened over that two-week recess trying to make the bill more politically palatable for conservatives but not lose too many moderates.

Here's the reality right now. As you look at this new amendment that the text was released last night. Members are trying to get a sense of where they actually stand on this. Conservatives clearly feel good about it. The outside conservative groups, guys, that have played such a huge role in this, they are coming onboard, now all eyes have turned to the moderates.

Over the course of the next 24 to 48 hours House aides tell me, they're going to try and get the temperature of the conference, try and see where their votes are, go to those individuals who were no before, see if they can swing them over and go to those who are kind of lean yes and make sure that this isn't going to hurt. If they are able to get the votes, I'm told next week could be as soon as they operate on this, but guys, be cautious on this.

We've seen this movie multiple times before. This is a very, very difficult needle to thread here. They're not sure they've done it yet, but they at least have a new proposal and something that they're trying to once again, get towards completion at least in the House over the course of the next couple of days, guys. BERMAN: All right. Phil Mattingly for us. A new challenge for Paul Ryan, again, as we wait to hear from Paul Ryan on the new health care deal, on the new tax cut proposal, we are joined now by Matt Lewis, CNN political commentator, senior columnist for "The Daily Beast," Ben Ferguson, radio host and CNN political commentator, Hillary Rosen, a CNN political commentator as well.

Matt Lewis, you are here, you get the first question. Paul Ryan about to speak, waiting to hear what he says. Look, Paul Ryan is a guy who likes tax cuts.


BERMAN: Let's establish that first and foremost. However, he's the guy who's going to have to get this biggest tax cut in the history of mankind through the House of Representatives. What' what's the challenge facing him? Wait, let's hear from him.

[10:05:03] REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Good morning.

Since President Trump took office, this Congress has sent 29 bills to his desk. That is the most for a president's first 100 days in office since 1949. Nearly half of these measures are measures to take excessive regulations off the book, so we can grow this economy.

After years of workers and industries bracing for the next regulatory onslaught, all the unpredictability that has been coming with that, we are providing relief for energy jobs, for small businesses, for retirees. It has been estimated that the steps we have taken with this administration will save families and businesses more than $67 billion. That is real relief, and that promotes real economic growth. We've been trying to cut red tape for years and now it's finally happening at record levels.

Also to promote job creation, the president has signed bills making it easier for women to pursue STEM careers and to become entrepreneurs. To help our veterans, the president signed a bill to lower out-of- pocket costs and to take steps toward fundamental V.A. reform very much in need. We're going to keep building on this record.

Right now, we're are working on a government funding bill that addresses some of the country's core priorities, including strengthening our national defense. Last week, I was in Europe visiting some of our key NATO allies and across the board, allies are ready to see America step up and lead again. A big part of that is rebuilding our military, which is something that we're in the middle of doing right now.

We're also working to fix our tax code. Today, the administration will outline its principles for pro-growth tax reform, which is a critical step forward in this effort. Pro-growth tax reform means that we will have lower rates. We will have a simpler tax code with fewer brackets. And we will have an IRS that exists only to serve the taxpayer.

And we will continue to work to keep our promise to repeal and replace Obamacare so that we can lower costs and create more choices for families.

We have undertaken some very big reforms to tackle entrenched problems. There is a lot of work left to do, but under the president's leadership, this unified government has made a solid start.

Thank you.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), CALIFORNIA: Good morning. Welcome back to many of you.

As the speaker talked about those bills that have moved to the president's desk prior to this Congress, only one time has the Congressional Review Act ever made it all the way to the president's desk and been signed. We have passed 15 inside this House; 13 of those have been signed into law. To create, one, job creation, but at the same time to bring common sense regulation back to this country. Some of the actions that we're taking and building on just today -- I know many of you watched last night the swearing in of a new member of Congress, Ron Estes from Kansas.

Also, we'll take up one from copyright position -- a very important position to have over at the Library of Congress, focusing on the future of copyrights and others. We'll vote on that today.

Tomorrow, we'll take up about Freddie and Fannie. Freddie and Fannie are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. And the idea of bringing more transparency to government, we'll pass a bill to make sure they are no longer exempt from FOIA; that anybody could be able to get the information when dealing with Freddie and Fannie as we go forward.

We'll continue to be able to fund this government, making sure that our military men and women have all that they need to not only protect this country, but make the world safe. And I will tell you, walking out of this conference, I see great movement when it comes to health care. We'll continue to make sure we keep our promise to repeal and replace Obamacare to make sure insurance costs are lower and people are actually protected from preexisting -- for preexisting conditions.

REP. STEVE SCALISE (R), LOUISIANA: Well, the last two weeks have been really good for members to go back to their districts and again hear from and talk to the people that actually elected us, so that we can continue working for the American people to follow through on the things that are important to them, like getting the economy back on track; like getting the federal government out of the way in so many areas of their lives where people are hurting.

Of course, one of those areas that government has actually been making it harder for families is Obamacare, with double-digit increases every year in premiums; with $10,000, $12,000 deductibles; with less access for good care. And that's why over these last two weeks, we've been working very closely with our colleagues all across the country to continue making progress, and making sure that we're not giving up on the ultimate objective of repealing and replacing Obamacare.

And the good news is a lot of really good progress has been made during these last two weeks. A lot more members are focused on getting to where we need to be. And so we're not going to stop working until we get that done.

But in the meantime, we've also been working closely with this president.


And I've been really encouraged to see the kind of commitment that President Trump has had on following through on the promises he made to the American people: of getting our economy back on track; of getting rid of regulations that are killing jobs in America.

If you look at what's already happened, and of course, we're not even at day 100. I know a lot of people want to already write -- write about what the first 100 days have been like. The good news is a lot of really good things have happened in that first hundred days, and there are still more things that are good that are set to happen.

But you just look at the economy, over 500,000 news jobs have been created in this first hundred days. And the president set a tone of getting the economy back on track and helping create more jobs, including signing 13 different pieces of legislation into law that reverse bad regulations that were killing jobs in America, helping rebuild the coal industry, helping getting some of these other federal agencies off of the backs of American workers, signing and greenlighting the Keystone Pipeline.

President Trump with that one action of greenlighting the Keystone Pipeline created tens of thousands of good jobs and helped ensure America's energy security.

And, of course, on foreign policy, President Trump has followed through on so many commitments. Number one, just making sure that we're enforcing our laws, securing the border. Illegal border crossings down over 60 percent. So, just upholding America's rule of law, while also working with our allies.

You know, as you talk to NATO allies -- and like the speaker, I was able to go and meet with some of our NATO allies. And, you know, President Trump has encouraged our NATO allies to get up to that 2 percent level of GDP spending, so that not only is America contributing to NATO, but so are the countries in Europe.

And they've done that. They've actually responded. And you're seeing positive results there, too.

And so, I think you see a more cohesive working with our allies. Again, the follow-through on those promises that have been made and to create more jobs and get our economy moving again. And we're going to continue working with this president to get America moving again.

REP. CATHY MCMORRIS RODGERS (R), WASHINGTON: It's always important to spend time in -- in your district listening to people, hearing their concerns. It was great to have an extended time to do that. And overall, I would say people do want to see results. They see this as an -- an -- an exciting opportunity to really rethink this government from top to bottom.

They also recognize that we must get this economy growing. We must create jobs. And we must get -- you know, unleash innovation in this country. They're very pleased to see that we're rolling back the regulatory burden that has been suffocating our economy.

As I listened and traveled around Eastern Washington, I held a number of Coffees with Cathy and Conversations with Cathy, whether it was with farmers or talking infrastructure or health care. You know, people see this as an opportunity for us to think big, get the results. And I come back reenergized because of that. I am committed to making a difference for them, using this as an opportunity to really do the big things that the people want to see us done.

RYAN: Anybody have any questions?

QUESTION: Hi, Mr. Speaker. Anna Edgerton from Bloomberg. Two questions, if I could.

The first, are you committed to using reconciliation for tax reform or would you consider doing it in regular order?

And I also wanted to ask about the CHOICE Act. And there is going to be a markup this week and I wanted to know how (inaudible) the priority is and when you think you could bring up...


RYAN: Yeah, I'll -- I'll defer to Kevin on the timing of the CHOICE Act.

Reconciliation is regular order, just so you know. That's the regular budgeting process.

But we -- we-- we want to look at every avenue. But we think reconciliation's the preferred process. We think that's the most logical process to bring tax reform through.

Hensarling -- Jeb Hensarling -- Chairman Hensarling's marking it up. I think we're bringing -- plan -- planning. Once we mark up a bill, we want to move it to the floor as quickly as possible. And that -- that's basically the schedule. Yeah.


QUESTION: Is the White House overstepping their bounds here on tax reform, bringing...

RYAN: No, not at all.

QUESTION: ... a proposal to you?

And is that partly because of the failure of health care? Do they feel like...

(CROSSTALK) RYAN: No, no. We've been -- this is something we've been talking to them all along. We had a very good meeting yesterday. Our committees -- Ways and Means and Finance -- and the White House are going to work regularly now to -- to make sure that we get a bill together that's unified.

We -- we've been briefed on what they're going to do. And it's basically along exactly the same lines that we want to go.

So, what we see this is progress being made, showing that we're moving and getting on the same page. Wow, that -- let's do that again.


Progress being made...



RYAN: Yeah, yeah, yeah right. Yeah, right, for our guys, wow. That was -- you -- very interesting.

So, no, we see this as a good thing. We see this as a good thing. Yeah, I...

QUESTION: Speaker Ryan, health care, does the MacArthur amendment get you to 216? And...


RYAN: We think it's very constructive.

So, Tom MacArthur, as you know, one of the leaders of the Tuesday Group, also has a lot of experience in insurance; knows insurance markets inside and out, worked in high-risk pool kind of settings.

So, we think the MacArthur amendment is -- is a great way to lower premiums, give states more flexibility, while protecting people with preexisting conditions. Those are the three things we want to achieve.

You got to remember, Obamacare's collapsing and people are getting hit with double-digit premium increases. So, whatever we can do to get those premiums down, but also make sure that the guarantee for people with preexisting conditions is met, but give states -- every state's a little different.

[10:15:00] RYAN: We had a high-risk pool in Wisconsin that worked real well. They had a risk-share pool in Maine that worked real well. So we want to give the states the ability to kind of customize the reforms to maximize the ability to lower premiums and protect people with preexisting conditions. And that is exactly at the heart of what the MacArthur amendment does. And I think it helps us get to consensus.


RYAN: Blurting out -- I'm just not going to do it. You know...



RYAN: We're getting really close. The administration, OMB, along with our appropriators, are down to the last final things. So I think we're making really good progress. Obviously, CSRs -- we're not doing that. That is not in an appropriation bill. That's something separate that the administration does. We're very, very close in everything else. And now it's just kind of getting down to the final details.


RYAN: That's not our intention or goal. We want to get this done on time. That's our plan.

Thanks, everybody.

QUESTION: (inaudible) a vote on health care (inaudible)?

RYAN: We'll see.

[10:16:03] BERMAN: All right. You've been watching the Republican House leadership there including House Speaker Paul Ryan, really talking about in their minds, what has been a very successful first 100 days even though we're not there quite yet, but that seemed to be the whole goal of this news conference to say, hey, look at everything we've done. Look at everything we've done along with the White House.

HARLOW: Words out of Paul Ryan's mouth. Look at all we've sent to the president's desk.

BERMAN: Very, very interesting. Matt Lewis, Ben Ferguson and Hillary Rosen back with us right now. So, Matt, obviously, the message they wanted to send is we are getting things done, but in Paul Ryan's head right now, who's got to be thinking very much, man, I've got a lot to do because I'm now the guy that has to get through the president's tax plan, this health care bill, not to mention get the government funded after Friday night.

LEWIS: Right. I expected this to be more detail on the tax plan and the healthcare plan. Instead, it really seemed like this was more of a political press conference where they're trying to set the agenda which says it's been a successful 100 days. And they're talking about things like the Congressional Review Act, not just health care, not just taxes. And it really makes me wonder - you know, obviously, Donald Trump has a vested interest in making sure the first hundred days are deemed successful, but it seems to me that they may be under some pressure, as well. They were just on recess. My assumption is that they're hearing from their constituents and they're not happy and they want to set the media narrative that they've actually gotten some stuff done. HARLOW: Even though the president says it's a ridiculous narrative. You've heard some of it though in Martin Savidge's piece from across the states -- that some of his supporters -- the president's supporters want to see more action on taxes, specifically, Ben Ferguson, Paul Ryan was asked is the White House overstepping here, promising the largest tax cuts and tax reform in history. He brushed it off. He said absolutely not. He really said they're in lockstep with the White House on this one. Paul Ryan hates debt and deficits and unless he knows something that we don't know there is no plan out there yet to pay for this.

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND RADIO HOST: Well, I think there are two things here. One, this is a starting point in negotiations and two, it helps you get a lot of momentum because there's a lot of members of Congress that would love to go back to their districts after they just heard so much heat on Obamacare and not repealing and replacing saying, hey, we're going to give tax relief to small business owners pass through taxes. That we're going to be able to change for those that have the small businesses, also the corporate taxes to help grow American jobs here. That's a very popular talking point when you go back home. It's also one that's easy to sell to the American people. We want you to keep more of your hard- earned money and we don't want it to go to the government. Most Americans are going to love that.

So, when he says hey, this is not overstepping. I think this is a great negotiating starting point. You put the bar very high here. And this is also a lot different than how they rolled out Obamacare reform, putting out an arbitrary deadline saying it's got to do it in 17 days. This is a different - you know, I think, objective they're trying to get done here. They're using a very different strategy and get people behind it in the country.

Because, look, there are a lot of Congressmen I talked to last week. They took a lot of heat when they went back to their districts for not getting enough done on Obamacare reform and that's probably the reason why you're also seeing them talk about this in an optimistic manner. They're probably going to get this thing done this time because there's more of an appetite for now because there were constituents that were furious with the Republicans.

BERMAN: It's interesting. Matt was just speculating that maybe that was the reason we saw this sort of -

HARLOW: The narrative

BERMAN: -- pre-100 day victory laugh for a victory that maybe the voters weren't seeing right there.

Hillary Rosen, Democrats might be in this sort of unique position, I think, to now be the party most concerned with debts and deficits. We're going to hear from Democratic House leadership shortly. And I think, it may be the first time where they're going to talk about fiscal responsibility and how can you do this? This is going to blow a hole in the deficit. Is that you think a fruitful path for them?

HILLARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, let's be clear. Voters aren't happy because they're not really seeing any results here.

[10:20:01] You know, despite sort of the GOP spin, the job numbers are lower than they've ever been during the Obama term. You know the approval rating of the president and the Congress is lowest that's ever been. And so, you know, they do have a fairly high threshold here to convince people that, you know, taking this much power has been worth it.

I think that -- look, I'm all for tax reform and I even like tax cuts, but I think that what we'll hear from Democrats is you cannot spend $3 trillion or $4 trillion in taxes which, let's be clear, that's what tax cuts are and it's spending through the tax code and not take responsibility for that when you are going to cut, you know, women and children nutrition programs and housing for the elderly and other programs that are really a safety net for poor people and Democrats and working people and Democrats are going to be very aggressive in reminding people that these are the priorities of the Trump administration and the Republican Congress.


FERGUSON: You know, I've got to jump in there because this is -- let me just say this is going to be a very tough sell. Fearmongering and going out there and saying that -

ROSEN: That's a fact. --

FERGUSON: -- all people are not going to get food.

ROSEN: They're not fearmongering.

FERGUSON: No, no, they're not -- first of all, in this tax -- you haven't even seen the entire tax bill, so to imply that this is in that tax bill, it's irresponsible.


Let me finish what I was going to say. It's irresponsible to imply - that people are going to somehow lose these things when you haven't even seen the data yet. The second thing is this, if you walk out to the American people and you say to them we want you to have more of your own money. 90 percent of Americans have to either, a, buy software to do their taxes or b, hire a CPA and we're trying to make it more simplistic for you so you don't have to waste money on those things by a complicated tax code. They're going to like that and the fearmongering side of that is absurd. --

ROSEN: Let's be clear about something. This is not about whether or not tax reform is necessary. It's about who benefits from tax reform. So Ben talking about 90 percent of the people in this country feeling better about their taxes, that is not where it looks like the White House is emphasizing this. The Republicans and Congress have a chance to make that case. --

(CROSSTALK) HARLOW: Just to be clear, Hillary Rosen, we don't have -- I hear you both. We don't have the plan. We don't have the details as Ben pointed out. We will, hopefully, at 1:30 p.m. today when they make more of an announcement, but we don't yet. Matt Lewis to you, something Ben said. This is the jobs president. This is the guy that promised the American people he would put them back to work for better paying jobs. Ben is saying that if you have these tax cuts and tax reform that will be the net outcome. These companies will hire more. History has never shown us that that has been the result. 2004 tax holiday not at all the result. Should there be something in here that mandates that these companies if they get 15 percent have to use x amount to hire?

LEWIS: I don't think so. I mean, look, obviously, there is a chance that you give corporations tax cuts and they just pass that on to shareholders.

HARLOW: It's not just a chance. It's what happened last time.

LEWIS: But I - look, America right now has the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world. It's actually, if you count state and local taxes. It's about 40 - (CROSSTALK) this is the problem. The dynamic scoring is impossible for us to predict. I think it makes perfect sense that people are more likely to have businesses that stay in America if we have a more competitive tax rate.

BERMAN: All right. Matt Lewis, Ben Ferguson, Hillary Rosen, this discussion will continue because I don't think a tax code is coming today. So we'll have you back to talk about it more.

All right, see you in the Supreme Court. This morning, President Trump lashed out at the federal judge, just the latest federal judge to get in the way of one of his executive orders. This is the third time that's happened if you were keeping score at home.


[10:28:07] HARLOW: President Trump this morning on Twitter unleashing once again against another judge. This, after part of his effort to strip federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities was blocked.

BERMAN: Yes, this is what he said. He wrote, "First the Ninth Circuit rules against the ban and it hits again on sanctuary cities, both ridiculous rulings. See you in the Supreme Court!"

It wasn't the Ninth Circuit judge who ruled against sanctuary cities in this case but it could end up there. That aside, CNN's Joe Johns is live at the White House with the White House response this morning. Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I'm glad you made the point about the Ninth Circuit. That's absolutely right. Look, this has just been a drumbeat of outrage coming out of the White House starting with White House aides last night and the president this morning on Twitter. This kind of language really plays great to the political base of President Trump, but not necessarily so much for lawyers who have to handle this ongoing litigation as the administration goes after judges, the judicial system in courts. We have a statement I'd like to put up for you that gives you some idea of what they were talking about last night.

"The rule of law suffered another blow, as an unelected judge unilaterally rewrote immigration policy for our nation. City officials who authored these policies have the blood of dead Americans on their hands. We are confident we will ultimately prevail in the Supreme Court justice, as we will prevail in our lawful effort to impose immigration restrictions necessary to keep terrorists out."

Meanwhile, on the other side of this case his ruling was welcomed, even praised by the likes of the mayor of Los Angeles. Listen.


MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D), LOS ANGELES: Unconstitutional political threats against our cities, cannot take away our rights and they certainly can't steal our tax dollars.


JOHNS: So one thing seems clear. The administration is planning to appeal. They say this ruling out on the west coast will be overturned eventually. If not, it goes all of the way to the Supreme Court and that's where they predict they'll win in the end. Back to you, John and Poppy.

HARLOW: All right. Joe Johns thank you very much.

BERMAN: All right. President Trump having some folks over this afternoon.