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Trump White House Makes Big Push for Another Win; CNN Poll: Trump's Approval Rating at Historic Low. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired April 27, 2017 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: The fact is it never has.
[07:00:04] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not giving up on repealing and replacing Obamacare. Indications are that that's moving in the right direction.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY.
The Trump White House looking for another win before the 100-day mark. Among the big items on the president's agenda, his tax cut wish list, heavy on promises, thin on details at the moment. Agreeing to renegotiate NAFTA after saying that he would pull out of it and pushing for a vote on a new GOP health care bill.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Recent polls show why the White House is on hop trying to make gains. A new CNN poll shows President Trump with the lowest approval of any newly-elected president at this point in their term. There's a lot to cover on day 98. Let's begin with CNN's Joe Johns, live at the White House.
Good morning, Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris.
For an administration that has really tried to downplay the first 100 days as a ridiculous standard, they certainly have also tried to orchestrate and promote the president's successes or what they see as the president's successes. Even going so far as set up a war room in the West Wing to track it. And now just a flurry of activity in the final days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to do something really big.
JOHNS (voice-over): After much hype, the White House unveiling a one- page summary of President Trump's tax wish list, which includes slashing tax rates for corporations; reducing the number of tax brackets; and doubling the standard deduction for individuals. The skeletal outline would mainly benefit wealthy Americans and is devoid of any details of what it would cost and how it would be paid for.
STEVE MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: This will pay for itself with growth and with reduced -- reduction of different deductions and closing loopholes.
JOHNS: Many economists are challenging this as a magic wand of growth saying the cuts could increase the national debt by trillions. A reality that would make Trump's tax goals a tough sell with fiscal hawks in Congress and goes against the president's repeated pledge to reduce the deficit.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It will simplify the tax code. It will grow the American economy, and all of this does not add to our debt or our deficit.
JOHNS: Democrats immediately calling the administration's bluff.
PELOSI: They're saying, "Oh, the growth in the economy will cover it." But the fact is, it never has.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a plan to help the wealthiest in this country, the wealthiest corporations in the world, at the expense of our nation's deficit.
JOHNS: One of the many unknowns: how the Trump businesses stand to benefit from these steep cuts, given the president's refusal to disclose his tax returns.
MNUCHIN: The president has no intention. The president has released plenty of information.
JOHNS: Meanwhile, the White House announcing that the U.S. will not immediately pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement after speaking to the leaders of Mexico and Canada. This comes only hours after White House officials told CNN that the president was considering an executive order to withdraw from the deal.
The White House also eager to show progress on health care.
REP. CHRIS COLLINS (R), NEW YORK: The big block that we need to come over is the Freedom Caucus. And certainly, some indications are that that's moving in the right direction.
JOHNS: Republicans publicly posting their amendment online for the House to review, as it remains unclear if moderates will sign onto the changes or how soon they'll take it to a vote.
Trump's big push to show action in the final stretch on display Wednesday when senators were bussed to the White House for a classified briefing on North Korea. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say little was learned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was -- it was an OK briefing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I seriously felt like I could have gotten all that information by reading a newspaper. It felt more like a dog-and- pony show to me than anything else.
JOHNS: One thing that seems likely not to happen is a government shutdown at the end of the first 100 days. A stop-gap funding bill has now been introduced to try to bridge the government until some of the trickier details that worked out -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Well, it's good thing they got that extra week. Joe, kicking the can down the road, as it's called. Thank you very much for all of that.
So President Trump's approval rating is at an historic low. Our new CNN poll shows his numbers falling on health care, the economy and immigration. But the news is not all bad for the president. CNN political director David Chalian has the numbers.
Tell us what you see, David.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICS DIRECTOR: Good morning, Alisyn.
Yes, that overall 100-day mark approval rating, 44 percent. Fifty- four percent disapprove. This has been holding steady, but it is a steady historic low. Take a look where it falls in context here.
Donald Trump, all the way at the bottom at this point in his presidency compared to all his predecessors going back in modern-day polling. You had mentioned two of the issues. Let's look inside this poll.
[07:05:05] Health care and immigration have dominated the 100-day talk. On health care, not good news for President Trump: 61 percent disapprove of his handling of that issue. This is a minus 25 gap. That was just minus 10 last month. It's going in the wrong direction.
On immigration, same story. He has a minus 16-point gap. Fifty-seven percent disapprove; 41 percent approve. That's sliding from a negative 11-point gap that he had last month. We also want to take a look, Alisyn, at where Republicans may be drifting away. Overall, 85 percent of them still approve of Donald Trump. He's got his base.
But look here, confidence in his appointments in his administration. In November, Republicans, 72 percent of them were confident about the people he would appoint. Now, it's only 59 percent.
Similar story when we look at effectively managing the government. Is Donald Trump managing the government well? In November, right after the election, Republicans, 93 percent of them, said he would do that. Eighty-five percent say so now. You see some sliding there among his core group of Republicans.
But at you said, there are a couple of bright spots. It is when Donald Trump's name is removed. Just conditions in the country, are things going well in the United States right now? Fifty-four percent of Americans say they are. Look at this. That's a high watermark going back to last October. Similar story on economic conditions. How do people feel about economic conditions? Fifty-nine percent say they're good. Look at this. That's also high water going back in the last year.
So those two things, sort of positive outlook in the country, certainly could bode well for Donald Trump. But his numbers right now are at historic lows.
CAMEROTA: OK. David, stay with us. We want to bring in also national security correspondent for "The New York Times," David Sanger; and White House correspondent for "The Washington Examiner," Sarah Westwood. Sarah interviewed President Trump yesterday, and we will get to your great interview shortly, Sarah, because we do want to hear more about it.
But David Chalian, one last thing. Aren't those the last two that you showed us that people feel better about where the country is -- the direction of the country. Is that the only thing that matters? I mean, we just heard from all of those -- voters in the swing states who say, "You know, maybe I'm not crazy about him." But they have other reasons for voting for him. If they had just said, if you feel good about the country, then it's a win?
CHALIAN: Well, it does matter a lot. There's no doubt about it. And I think it gives Donald Trump an opening to try and grow his own support a little bit, something he's failed to do since taking the Oval Office.
But on the other hand, Alisyn, when you saw those numbers on health care and immigration, some of these key policies he's trying to get to, it's trending away from him. So yes, having people have a positive feel about the economy, having Americans think good about the way things are going in the country, that's good news for Donald Trump. He hasn't yet seized on it to benefit himself.
CUOMO: Look, David, the message has always been clear, if you're willing to hear it: "I voted for Trump, because I don't like what's happening in Washington."
So the measure for him will be the same as any change agent. Do you make it different. Comes up with a one-page tax proposal. Tax cut, tax cut, tax cut. That sounds good to those voters' ears. But are they going to be betrayed by the simplicity?
DAVID SANGER, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Over time, you see, and you see it in those poll numbers, is that where the president comes in with a detailed plan and has thought through this process. The appointment of Justice Gorsuch, for example, which was very well-laid out, he does well.
CUOMO: A list of one, by the way.
SANGER: A list of one, that's right. That was a lot easier. When you get to issues of complexity -- tax cuts, immigration, certainly all of the appointments to the government.
CUOMO: Health care. SANGER: Health care, for sure, is a great example. They came in knowing what they wanted to get rid of, and they had no alternative to go replace it with. And that's where his poll numbers all begin to fall away. Because people very quickly come to the conclusion, "Before you toss this out, tell me what I'm getting. If there is a lesson from the first 100 days, it's one that preparation still matters."
You can talk about the swamp all you want during the campaign. You can rail against the swamp on Twitter. But eventually, people want to see what they're getting. And that's why the question is, at 100 days, can't you come up with more than a one-page tax plan?
CAMEROTA: Let's take a look at some of the details of the tax plan. It's been looked at by various non-partisan groups that analyzed it. You know, there's going to be now, three tax brackets, as opposed to a more complicated version. They're going to lower the corporate tax rate to 15 percent from 35 percent. It's going to double the standard deduction for children. It's going to end the estate tax, the AMT and many tax breaks.
Basically, Sarah, the point is, I mean, what analysts said is that it's going to help people like Mr. Trump a lot.
SARAH WESTWOOD, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Right. And that's been the main criticism of this tax plan. But it's significant for the administration that they're finally moving from talking about tax reform conceptually, promising these big, beautiful tax cuts, into putting hard numbers on the table.
[06:10:05] And the main problem with the blueprint, as it currently stands, is that it doesn't answer the most central question, which is how do you pay for a tax cut this high? That's always been the question when it comes to tax policies coming from Republicans.
But for the Trump administration, this seems like an effort to learn from the debacle that was the original health care negotiations. What happened there was that stake holders and lawmakers were not brought in at the front end to shape the policy. And they were only brought in after a bill was introduced.
Now the White House is laying down a basic framework for tax reform and bringing in stake holders and conservative groups and lawmakers to hammer out details so they avoid a situation where they put forward a sub-par plan and then demand Republicans get on board when that might not be possible.
CUOMO: Well, and let's talk about why it would not be possible.
David Chalian, you have the committee for responsible federal budget estimating $3 to 7 bill -- $7 trillion in increases. It's such a big range, because there's so much unknown. But at the end of the day, you have two main obstacles here. One is, can you get the deficit hawks on board? The same group that cut out his legs on health care initially, because they're very fiscally responsible. And then, the second one is going to be where you can sell it as
reform. Reform means that it's going to be permanent. It has to be revenue-neutral. This would be what Sarah calls it, a cut. It would be temporary.
CHALIAN: Yes. I think permanent goes out the window here, because to make it permanent, you then have to abide by the rules of that process known as reconciliation in the Senate. And you wouldn't be able to abide by those rules, and he would need Democrats to get on board.
So I think permanent is automatically out the window. And you're looking at something that will be ten years. And you know how difficult tax cuts are in place, Chris. After ten years, they tend to get renewed. But that being said, you said about the deficit hawks. There's less a premium on that right now inside Congress, inside the Republican conference as there once was. But you are right. I think there are going to be some hold-outs here because of the understanding of how it will be paid for, and that is going to require the administration and the leadership in Congress to really bring members on board. I do not think this is a slam dunk, automatically every Republican's on board from the outset, which is why I think you see the treasury secretary and others sort of say the timeline for this, which was once August, is now sort of by the end of the year, the administration.
CAMEROTA: David, there's been a flurry of activity before the 100th day hits. There's been executive orders signed. And the president did something interesting. He sort of reversed course yesterday on NAFTA.
Let's remind people what he said during the campaign about what he would do to NAFTA. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: NAFTA has been a catastrophe, an absolute catastrophe for our country.
It's destroyed this country, destroyed manufacturing in the United States. And I'll do something about it. That will be so renegotiated.
There's never been a deal so bad as NAFTA. It's a one-way highway out of this country for our jobs and for our money. And we're going to renegotiate that one very quickly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: So now what's happening?
SANGER: Well, yesterday, the White House staff said that he was going to threaten to pull out of NAFTA entirely. Just end the accord, start from the beginning. When he actually got on the telephone with the leaders of Canada and Mexico, he had a different message, which was we're going to go renegotiate it. The plan at this point is, you know... CUOMO: This is good. This is good. The president just tweeted. And he said, "Sanger is a handsome man. I received calls from the president of Mexico and the prime minister of Canada asking to renegotiate NAFTA, rather than terminate. I agreed." He says they called him.
CUOMO: Do we know who called whom?
SANGER: I think this was a pre-planned call with the president having set up the timing was my understanding yesterday. That doesn't mean it didn't get initiated by someone else. But the key point here is he puts out, he floats out we're going to walk away from it. They call in and say, "Let's not walk away from it. Let's negotiate out the terms that you want." And you saw in those clips, he used the phrase "renegotiate" a few times during the campaign. This is classic Donald Trump negotiating strategy.
CAMEROTA: And it appears to be working. In other words, it got their attention. He starts from a position that's more dramatic, maybe then where he'll end. And they feel like it's a win.
SANGER: That's right. Similar to the NATO stuff where he was saying, you know, we may pull out of NATO. We may pull back from having troops in Japan and South Korea.
It something you haven't heard from him much now, but he does have countries on notice that they have to contribute more. So it's classic negotiating.
Now, in the end here, had he actually tried to just eliminate NAFTA, he would have heard from a huge number of American businesses who have these enormously complex supply chains that run through products that are partly made in Mexico, partly in Canada, rolled into the U.S. And I don't think it would have been possible for him, actually, to unwind it.
[07:15:16] CUOMO: Sarah, Trump says he absolutely wants to break up the 9th Circuit. Now, he's angry at a couple of those judges right now, right? But you had this big interview with him. Where did you think his head is on this? How real is this?
WESTWOOD: Well, this is a pre-existing Republican plan to break up the 9th Circuit to create a 12th circuit out of states that are under the appellate jurisdiction of the 9th. So it's not new. And it's not surprising that President Trump would have considered those proposals, because the 9th Circuit has been criticized for years for leaning too far to the left and for being too big to handle the case load of that large an area of the United States.
Obviously, President Trump has suffered most of his most high-profile setbacks at the hands of judges on the West Coast. And earlier in the day yesterday, he was attacking the 9th Circuit for dealing him another blow on sanctuary cities. He reminded me of that, made sure that I saw his tweet about the 9th Circuit during our conversation. So this is obviously something that he has cared about for a long
time. And I don't think it's surprising that he backs a bill that was introduced by John McCain and Jeff Flake, but that Republicans have been introducing perennially. It just hasn't gained traction in the past.
CAMEROTA: Sarah, David. David, thank you for sharing all of your reporting with us.
So Republicans, as you know, are hoping to revive the healthcare reform and argument with a new amendment aiming to bring Republicans together somehow. So the Congressman whose name is on that amendment, who's been hard at work on this. His name is Tom MacArthur. He's going to join us next.
[07:20:47] CAMEROTA: We're getting a look at a new health care plan proposed by House GOP members. The Freedom Caucus is on board with this thanks to what's being called the MacArthur Amendment.
And joining us now is the man behind that amendment, Congressman Tom MacArthur. He is a member of the Financial Services Committee and the moderate conservative caucus known as the Tuesday Group. Or just moderate caucus, I guess.
REP. TOM MACARTHUR (R), NEW JERSEY: Good morning, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK. In a sentence, can you tell us what the MacArthur Amendment is?
MACARTHUR: Well, it tries to do two things. One, we need to protect the most vulnerable people in -- in the current plan. These are people with pre-existing conditions. And we want to make sure they're protected.
And secondly, we've got to give the states some flexibility to bring premiums down for everybody else.
CAMEROTA: Right, and that's...
MACARTHUR: And that's what my amendment's doing.
CAMEROTA: Sorry to interrupt you, but that's a tough needle to thread because how are you going to ensure that everybody with pre-existing conditions can still get coverage when one of the tenets of your plan says that states can seek waivers for pre-existing condition rules?
MACARTHUR: Well, very limited waivers. And what I've done, Alisyn, is allow states to seek limited waiver, but only if they create a plan, a pool, to cover those very same people.
And the reason I'm -- the reason I'm focused on this, I -- I lost my mother when I was a kid, and my father had no insurance. And I lived through decades of watching him work three jobs to pay medical bills. I lived through the dark side of that.
And what we've got now is a health care system that's -- that's under great strain. The individual health care system. And if it collapses, it's going to hurt millions of people.
On top of that, we have 23 million people today that are getting no benefit from the Affordable Care Act. They pay penalties or they get waivers, and they get no insurance.
And so you're right. It is a difficult needle to thread. But we must bring down the cost of insurance for the great many people who need it. And at the same time, we have to provide for those who have pre- existing conditions. And that's what my amendment is doing.
CAMEROTA: But why are you changing the way it works for people with pre-existing conditions, since that's one of the elements of Obamacare that people seem to really like?
MACARTHUR: Well, there's a lot of confusion about what's really happening in health care. And yes, people like that, and I like that, too. I think it's critical. But what a lot of people don't see, and after -- and after a lifetime in the insurance industry, I do see this system is crumbling. Insurers are leaving in droves. A third of counties only have one choice today.
My own state had six options just 18 months ago, and now we're down to two. And everyone else's deductibles and premiums are skyrocketing. And we have tens of millions of people who can't afford insurance. So we have to do both. But to make one group of policy holders pay unaffordable premiums is not the right answer either. So...
CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, one thing that we've heard from lots of President Trump's supporters is that they're very concerned about the opioid crisis. A lot of them have been touched by it personally. And that the essential health benefits, one of the things that, again, you're going to let states seek waivers to get rid of the essential benefits. That that sometimes covers treatment for substance abuse. So where are you on that?
MACARTHUR: Well, first, I'm the co-chairman of the heroin task force here in Congress. So that is very front and center for me. And my state has been devastated by this crisis.
We've done a few things. First in the 21st Century Cures Act, we have already funded $500 million both this year and next year, a billion dollars total, to help in that very area.
And secondly, before I ever considered waivers for the states on anything, I added the essential health benefits back into the bill. Because they had been taken out.
MACARTHUR: And I thought that -- I thought that was a mistake. So...
CAMEROTA: I mean, just to be clear, for anybody who's listening. So your -- if your bill were to pass somehow, people who are getting treatment for substance abuse would not lose it?
[07:25:00] MACARTHUR: No. States -- states would have to come. It's not an automatic they just get out of that. States would have to come, and they would have to declare precisely which benefits they're trying to change and how it benefits their citizens. That's the way we set this up.
And again, the protections for pre-existing conditions. My amendment requires that states don't allow any gender discrimination.
MACARTHUR: The essential health benefits are restored back to the federal standard in my amendment. And then states have very limited waiver opportunities to achieve specific results. And that's the balance, I think, we have to achieve.
CAMEROTA: Let's talk about the process and what happens next. You have the Freedom Caucus, the conservatives, on board. But it sounds like members of your own group, the moderates, are still on the fence.
Congressman Charlie Dent, co-chair of the Tuesday Group, the moderate group, he says this: "I took everybody at their word when they said they wanted to reform health care and make it better. Based on what I've read, it does not change my position. I was a no, and I remain a no."
How are you going to get the moderates on board?
MACARTHUR: Well, my goal has been to try to get everyone who was struggling with this bill to get to yes. And the only way to do that is to balance these two things. Bring costs down for people and make sure we protect the vulnerable people.
And, you know, no bill is going to satisfy everyone. This is certainly not a perfect bill. And for some people, there are elements of it that they struggle with. I respect all of my colleagues who...
CAMEROTA: But I mean, do you think that you have the -- do you think that you have the votes? I mean, by the "Washington Post's" count, 30 Republicans are undecided, so now what? You need at least -- you can only afford to lose 20.
MACARTHUR: Well, I don't know, Alisyn. We're going to find out. I only know this. I came here to make a difference, and I saw and see a problem that needs to be fixed for the sake of the American people. And I'm working to get to a solution. And you have to get to 216 votes. And to do that, in the Republican Party, you have to have both people from more conservative districts and more centric -- centrist districts.
I will add, I was one of nine Republicans in the first place who voted no on starting this process, because I thought it was being rushed. And I was very concerned that we had left the Democrats out of the process. I hope and I will continue to work to make sure that, as we deal with other issues, whether it's tax reform or financial service reform, we have got to get this House back to working on a bipartisan basis. And I'll keep working at that.
CAMEROTA: OK. Congressman MacArthur, thank you very much for explaining to us what is in the MacArthur Amendment. We'll be watching closely. Thank you.
MACARTHUR: OK, Alisyn. Thank you.
CUOMO: All right. So from one wish list to another, the Trump administration unveiling what they'd like to see for tax cuts. Will they get support from the other side of the aisle? We have a Democratic senator on the Finance Committee next.