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Unemployment Drops to Lowest in 10 Years; Health Care Bill Heads to Bigger Fight in Senate; Delta Apologizes for Booting Family Off Plane; Historic Floods Devastate Midwest; Obama Endorses Macron Ahead of French Election; Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired May 5, 2017 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:53] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. The Opening Bell on Wall Street rang just moments ago. The market down about 10 points or so. This comes after the new really good jobs report released. The lowest unemployment rate in a decade.

I'm joined again by CNN's chief business correspondent, Christine Romans.

Romans, what are you looking for today?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, remember back in May 2007. That's why this is such an interesting and important jobs report. The lowest unemployment rate since May 2007 before the economy frankly fell apart and so did the markets.

Now I am watching the stock market here and I'm not really surprised it's not moving very much. We're really closely watching the oil market quite frankly and really there is so much indecision on the legislative front in Washington. Despite this win, this preliminary win from the president, there are a lot of questions still about tax reform and infrastructure, and how this legislative agenda is going to play out.

Also, that strong report, John, puts a Fed rate hike back in play, frankly. I mean, the Feds would like to see higher wages than we got in this report. Like 2.5 percent in this particular month. For wage growth, we'd like to see something closer to 3 percent. But remember the Fed has been slowly ratcheting up interest rates from just years of having just a baseline of almost zero here. So when you have a strong report like this, it means the Fed can start thinking about raising interest rates again -- John.

BERMAN: One of those great cases where good news is bad news for some investors.

ROMANS: That's right.

BERMAN: Christine Romans great to see you. Thanks so much.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: The Republican health care bill made it through the House of Representatives. It now faces an entirely new set of challenges in the Senate. We are going to talk about that in the political implications of this.

I am joined by Chris Cillizza, CNN editor-at-large and politics reporter, Jeff Zeleny is back with me and Alex Burns, CNN political analyst, national political reporter for the "New York Times."

Alex Burns, a big day yesterday, a big vote in the House, a big White House ceremony. What's different today in terms of American's health care?

ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Not a lot, John. You know, I think a lot of people are understandably anxious about the personal implications of the massive re-regulation of the health care system. But I am old enough to remember when Democrats passed cap and trade and it was supposed to completely transform the American energy system and the structure of how we do everything in this country.

BERMAN: But politically things are different.

BURNS: Politically things are different. But maybe the same way they were after cap and trade where you have a whole bunch of members who just walked the plank on a very, very tough vote and then this thing goes to the Senate where it faces very, very uncertain odds.

I think Republicans in general are much, much more optimistic today that they were a week ago that they will get something on health care. I don't know that we know a whole lot more about what that something is going to look like.

BERMAN: You mentioned the Senate. It's a nice segue to bring in Chris Cillizza here.

Chris, as a columnist, either out just now or about to be --


BERMAN: It's out. Fantastic. It's a good thing --

CILLIZZA: I made it.

BERMAN: When we're in commercial, go look at it but not before then.

Chris, you identified several senators to watch going forward. I want to wind down three of them. Give me 20 seconds on each why they are crucial to this. First and foremost Republican senator Lamar Alexander.

CILLIZZA: Lamar Alexander, former member of leadership in a state, Tennessee, that is very hard hit by the pre-existing conditions mandate repeal and a voice that Republicans have trusted on health care since at least 2010. Remember, he was the lead Republican voice in those negotiations in 2010 with President Obama at Blair House.


CILLIZZA: Was that 20 seconds?

BERMAN: That was 20 seconds.


BERMAN: Let's see if you could beat it with Rob Portman of Ohio.

CILLIZZA: Yes, I mean, sort of the quintessential moderate, pragmatic deal maker. Ohio was the state that did accept Medicaid expansion with Governor John Kasich. I think Portman is concerned about freezing those funds in 2020. He, along with Lisa Murkowski in Alaska, Susan Collins in Maine, I think, they're going to be your leading voices on that.

BERMAN: And then there's Ted Cruz, senator from Texas, who's sort of like a what? A one-man Freedom Caucus?

CILLIZZA: Sort of, although you might have a two-man with Rand Paul or a three-man with Mike Lee in there, too. But yes, I mean, look, remember. Cruz was the one urging the government shutdown in 2013 unless Obamacare was defunded, which it was never going to be. He is someone who still has national ambitions. He was the runner-up in the presidential primary in 2016.

How much does he use what will be a lot of eyeballs on him to do something similar? What will he accept, if anything, that's not full repeal, which won't go through?

[09:35:01] BERMAN: And which Dr. Seuss book will he choose to read if he doesn't like the way things are going.

Jeff Zeleny, to you, your former "New York Times" colleague, columnist Ross Douthat, wrote overnight, "The most amazing thing about the congressional Republicans is that the congressional Democrats keep losing to them."

And I think what he was trying to say there is, you know, the Democrats were singing the good-bye song last night. Everyone was saying the congressional Republicans who voted for this, they are in such big trouble. But do we really know that? Because Democrats have shown an enormous capacity over the last -- you know, certainly eight years to lose to them.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. I mean, in 2010, beginning over there, we don't know now if this is going to be a repeat of eight years ago. It feels like it at the moment, a narrow House vote on health care, you know, in a House that's controlled by the president and the White House. But we don't know if it's going to be the same.

A couple senators I think who hold the cards to all this, Susan Collins of Maine, it's the moderates in the Senate. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, so important to this process here. The margin is very tight in the Senate. 52-48 so they cannot lose many here. But we -- you know, the math is still uphill for Democrats to win control of the House, tremendously so, because of all the losses in the Obama years. So it is far too early to say at this moment Republicans are in jeopardy, but they may be. BERMAN: Alex Burns, write me the 30-second ad that Democrats will use

against Republicans, specifically some of these Republicans who may have been in Hillary Clinton districts and voted for this measure.

BURNS: I think that you actually -- I don't need to write it for you. I think you could go back and look at pretty much exactly the same ads Republicans ran eight years ago that, you know, they didn't read the bill. They didn't study the implications. They are going to take away your health care. But your premiums will skyrocket. We know what a campaign looks like for an insurgent party that is running against the president's party as they regulate the health care market.

I do think that -- I totally agree with Jeff that it's way too soon to know if Democrats can take back or will take back the House. I think there's more optimist they can take back the House, but those are two very, very different things. The biggest change today probably is, you know, we now know that much of the rest of the year politically is going to be defined in a debate about health care.

In a month ago if we were sitting here, I would have said I think Republicans are going to end up probably running on taxes, maybe running on infrastructure, maybe doing something related to immigration. They have now really grabbed health care by -- you know, I don't want to say by the throat, but they've grabbed it by something or other, and that, you know, now they own it.

BERMAN: And one of the things that people don't often see is one of the ways that's going to help Democrats on candidate recruitment, you'll see Democrats who may have been on the fence who all of a sudden think the environment is stronger. You may get stronger Democratic candidates.

Chris Cillizza, you know, politically speaking, another thing that may have changed is the perception of Donald Trump as a Republican political leader. Does he now emerge from this different? Can he get more things done now because of what is seen by some as the White House role in passing this through? And is there more reason for Democrats to fear his effectiveness then?

CILLIZZA: If he does what he did over the last 72 hours before the bill passed, which is pigeonholing senators, bringing them in using the power of the White House to sort of awe them, make them promises he can keep, sure. But the thing that is certain about Donald Trump is uncertainty. From day-to-day, I'm not sure how he acted yesterday is predictive of how he'll act tomorrow, John. And that's always the thing that I hesitate to make any predictions that we're seeing a new, different Trump because every time I've said that for the last, I don't know, 18 months or so, two days later he sends out a tweet about how Barack Obama wiretapped him.

So, you know, if he does what he did today relatively-ish on message, though he did throw that a good government shutdown tweet into all of this, but stay relatively on message, use the power of the presidency to convince and cajole members of his own party, sure. And I convinced he is going to do that? No.

BERMAN: Hard position taken by Chris Cillizza. Just like we'd like to see there.

CILLIZZA: Thank you.

BERMAN: Chris, our thanks to you. Alex, Jeff, great to have you all here with us this morning. It's like a boy band in here. It's like New Kids on the Block.

All right. A new turbulent feud with an airline. The video is now everywhere. And this time it is Delta with an apology for how it all played out. Plus, devastating and historic floods. And now this morning evacuations, the Midwest bracing for more. We'll tell you the hardest hit areas. That's next.


[09:43:44] BERMAN: All right. New this morning, Delta Airlines has issued an apology for booting a family with an infant off of a plane. This is what happened when a California family was told their child could not sit in a seat purchased for another family member.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we're getting kicked off this plane no matter what now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I told you guys at the beginning you had two options and now it's come too far.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what are we supposed to do? I've got two infants. We have nowhere to stay. There is no more flights. What are we supposed to do? Sleep in the airport?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no. You should have thought about that before you oversold the flight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At this point, you guys are on your own.



BERMAN: This incident happened back in April. But the video was posted earlier this week. This is, of course, the latest video showing a public feud between travelers in an airline. Public feud, there was one guy dragged off of a plane all together. That was Dr. Dao.

Earlier this week multiple airline executives testified before Congress to discuss how to improve customer service.

Want to bring in CNN's Scott McLean.

Scott, first, explain to me exactly what happened here and what the airline is saying. SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So, John, this all centers on

a family traveling from Hawaii to Los Angeles on a Delta red eye flight. The father that you saw there in the video, Brian Schear, had purchased a ticket for his older son but then had his son take an earlier flight so that his infant son could sit in that seat with a car seat.

[09:45:11] The problem here is that Delta wants to use that seat for a standby passenger. And so they're asking Schear to hold his infant son in his lap. Well, that doesn't sit well with Schear as you saw there in the video and so there's some back and forth and eventually this entire family was asked to leave the flight. They had to pay for a hotel and a flight on another airline the next day out of pocket. And now Delta is apologizing, saying, "We are sorry for the unfortunate experience our customers had with Delta and we've reached out to them to refund their travel and provide additional compensation. Delta's goal is to always work with customers in an attempt to find solutions to their travel issues. That did not happen in this case and we apologize."

John, that video has been viewed more than three million times.

BERMAN: You can sense the enormous sensitivity that airlines now have after the Dr. Dao incident. They want all of these things to be fixed and go away as quickly as possible. One of the issues that came up here is what's required in terms of an infant. Do they need to sit in a car seat on an airplane? What are the FAA rules here?

MCLEAN: Yes. So, John, there is actually two issues here. One, the car seat, and two, whether that infant can sit in that seat meant for his older brother. So first on the car seat, both FAA rules and Delta policy encourage parents to actually put their child -- purchase a seat and then put their child in the car seat. That's what happened here. The airlines can't actually, according to FAA rules, take that seat away from a child, provided that they have a ticket.

In this case that kid did have a ticket. It just didn't have his name on it, it had his elder brother's name on it. And on that issue federal regulations say that passengers over 18 have to have ID that matches their boarding pass. In this case the child -- children don't actually need identification. They are exempt from these rules. And so in this case that child didn't have identification.

We can't find a Delta policy that says that the child needs to sit in a seat with his or her name on it. But we have reached out to the airline to try to get some sort of clarification.

BERMAN: All right. You know, Scott McLean, videos making things very complicated for the airlines. Thanks so much.

All right. Happening right now the Midwest bracing for a new round of flooding. Some of these floods have been devastating. More than eight million people are under a flood warning in states that include Missouri, Illinois, Indiana. This morning residents are bracing for the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers to crest.

We have some CNN drone footage that shows just how widespread the damage is. This was taken near some of Missouri's worst flood zones.

CNN's Dan Simon is in Arnold, Missouri. Dan, what are you seeing?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, hey, John. It's been a very long week for the folks in this community. They just got pummeled by rain and that caused the nearby Merrimack River to overflow and flood some neighborhoods. This is one of that. You can see that they are trying to pump out the water. They also got the sandbags here. You got some 500 homes in the region that have been impacted in some fashion.

So it's just been a huge headache. But the good news is the skies are clear today and the water levels are beginning to recede. But just north of St. Louis where the Mississippi River and Missouri River converged. Those areas are supposed to crest sometime this weekend. So there are concerns that there could be more flooding in the days to come. But there is some optimism that perhaps the worst is behind this area.

As you can see the clean-up now is basically in -- you know, they're in full clean up mode, trying to pump this water out but it's going to take several days before things truly return back to normal -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Dan Simon for us in Missouri, keep us posted there. Thank you very much.

Former president Obama working very, very hard to get a candidate elected. Not here. Very, very far away. Find out where next.


[09:53:29] BERMAN: All right, we're just two days away from a huge election with global implications. And this morning, former president Barack Obama has emerged from a sort of political hiding to offer an endorsement.

CNN's Melissa Bell joins me now from Paris. The French election's two days away and President Obama has jumped in with both feet, both hands, full-bodied endorsement, Melissa.

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. A most unusual direct intervention in a foreign election, John, and in favor absolutely of one of the two candidates that is standing in this second round of France's presidential election. As you say, one of the most decisive that anyone can remember here in this country, one of the most divisive as well. So Barack Obama's words have been very carefully pored over here by the French press. Have a listen.


BARRACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The success of France matters to the entire world. I have admired the campaign that Emmanuel Macron has run. He has stood up for liberal values. Because of how important this election is, I also want you to know that I am supporting Emmanuel Macron to lead you forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BELL: It was an extraordinary intervention in favor of Emmanuel Macron. You heard it there, the independent centrist who will be facing off the far-right's Marine Le Pen. It is not the first time that this election has attracted interest from Washington. We had these tweets from the current president just a few days ago suggesting that this was going to be an extremely interesting election because, I think, John, what we're seeing, in a sense, is a battle that is a continuation of the debate that was started in the United States in its presidential campaign between on one hand a far-right leader who wants to freeze off France's borders, introduce economic protectionism, and many of the policies that we have heard Donald Trump speak about so much over the last few months.

[09:55:14] On the other, the independent centrists say not a bit of it. We need to stay inside Europe, continue with globalization, remain open to the rest of the world and continue down that track. It is between those two very different visions that France will be deciding on Sunday. For the time being, the independent centrist, Emmanuel Macron, is leading the polls, all those we've seen.

It is very difficult to know whether they're actually able to give us an accurate forecast these days. He goes in as the favorite with something of like a 20 percent lead over his rival, but this is really an election, John, that will decide the future of France with this very stark choice, two very different paths that are being put before the French electorate on Saturday and a vote that will have implications not just here, but for the whole of Europe and even beyond.

BERMAN: Melissa Bell for us in Paris. We will keep our eye on that election. Notable, the last presidential candidate that President Obama endorsed did not win. That was here in the United States. We will see if he has different luck in France.

Meanwhile, some really good jobs news to report. A report out moments ago, the lowest unemployment rate in a decade. We're going to have the details and what it means for you next.