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Senate GOP Health Care Bill On Brink Of Defeat; White House: Syria's Assad Preparing Another Chemical Attack; Hidden Cameras Show ISIS Losing Chokehold In Raqqa; New Poll: World Has More Trust In Putin Than Trump. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired June 27, 2017 - 07:30   ET



[07:32:20] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: After more than seven years, Republican leaders in the Senate are facing the prospect that their efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare may end in defeat, so what can Democrats do to fix the Affordable Care Act? They are, after all, in the minority, but let's discuss this with Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, joining us from Capitol Hill. Senator, thank you so much.

SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW, (D) MICHIGAN: Good morning, Brianna. It's good to be with you.

KEILAR: And I know you've been looking at the numbers here. When we're talking about the new math coming out from the Congressional Budget Office about the Senate bill it says there is an impact on the deficit that would reduce it by $321 billion over 10 years but, of course, the number for the uninsured goes up by $22 --


KEILAR: million -- $23 million by the House bill, so you're seeing that. What's your reaction to this?

STABENOW: Well, first of all, the Senate bill's even worse in that more people lose their health insurance next year. I do think it's important to note the one thing that's exactly the same in the House and the Senate is that people lose their medical care -- seniors in nursing homes, children, families -- to pay for a very large tax cut for a very few people -- top 400 people in the country getting $33 billion in tax cuts, so that's the same in the House and the Senate.

And they -- but they pay for that tax cut by cutting medical care for people. That has nothing to do with making sure the insurance exchanges work better, which is what we need to do because we've got folks that are paying too much out of pocket in the private exchange and people all across the country paying too much for prescription drugs, and so I want to tackle that. I've got legislation to tackle those things and that's where you get bipartisan support to work together is actually bring down costs, not take away medical care for people --

KEILAR: Yes. STABENOW: -- to pay for another tax cut.

KEILAR: I know you're looking at the numbers there in Michigan and there was a rather --


KEILAR: -- modest increase in premiums this last year when you look at the overall average in the country. But then, you look at this year, 16.7 percent, and then there's certainly a focus on your state about how that could go up to more than 30 percent in the next year.


KEILAR: So you say -- I know that you have a bill out. You say that you want to tackle this but how is there a way that Democrats and Republicans could tackle that issue of cost?

STABENOW: Well, first of all, we've got to stop the administration from sabotaging the private insurance market. When I talk to the folks in Michigan they say just stabilize things by keeping the commitments made when health reform was passed. There were certain payments that were agreed to, to help keep costs down, to help insurance companies make sure they could cover preexisting conditions without costs going up. One of those payments has gone away completely. The other one, the White House says they're not sure they're going to make. So we have an insurance industry how to do the ratings because they don't know what's going to happen.

[07:35:25] They also cut in half the amount of time that people have to sign up for the private insuranceexchanges. They're not trying to get younger, healthier people in anymore. So what I hear from the insurance companies, just do what you're supposed to do under health reform and that's a great place to start. Then I have a bill that would provide a 50 percent tax credit to small businesses for providing health insurance. They want to -- that's where the majority of uninsured people work. Let's help small businesses be able to afford insurance.

KEILAR: I think I may know the answer to this next question but Iwant to get your perspective on this. Back when health care reform -- really, almost health insurance reform was passed --


KEILAR: -- by Democrats, there was so much criticism coming from Democrats that they had to go it alone. Certainly, Mitch McConnell has his process which does include only Republicans, but what can Democrats do to be more involved in this?

STABENOW: Well, Brianna, as you know, we went through a year and one- half back in the process of health reform. One hundred hearings in committee meetings before the bill was ever reported to the floor -- 25 consecutive days on the Senate floor -- so this has no relationship to that. But now, I've already reached out to Republican colleagues. I think there are people of good will that want to come together to solve the real problem, bring down the cost of prescription drugs.

KEILAR: Are they talking about something substantive when you -- what's the reaction you're getting?


KEILAR: When you reach out to them, what do they -- what do they say to you and is it just on incremental things? Is this on a wider comprehensive overhaul?

STABENOW: Well, there's actually three kinds of things that health insurance did and the way that the Republicans talk, they talk about one piece of that which is the insurance exchanges -- if you're buying on the open market by yourself, and those are the places where costs have gone up. So I've talked to colleagues about how do we create more competition, how do we bring down cost.

That has nothing to do with, for instance, what you're talking about today in terms of Medicaid where in Michigan, three out of five seniors in nursing homes are getting their care through Medicaid. We don't have to touch Medicaid in order to bring down costs. In fact, providing more help to working people so they can take their children to the doctor through Medicaid in Michigan has actually saved money -- $432 million more in the Michigan state budget -- taxpayer savings next year -- because children can see a doctor instead of families going to the emergency room --

KEILAR: Senator --

STABENOW: -- which is the most expensive way to get care. So there's things we can do.

KEILAR: Yes. I want to get your perspective on a different topic which is Syria.


KEILAR: I know that you've seen the White House reacting overnight --


KEILAR: -- saying that there are indications Syria is preparing for another chemical weapons attack, warning that there will be grave consequences on the part of the Bashar al-Assad regime. What is your reaction to this?

STABENOW: Well, first of all, what Syria has been doing is outrageous. It is a humanitarian crisis. And so, I do think we need to stand on the side of people in Syria who are losing their lives, their children, and their families. I don't know yet, we've not gotten a briefing. I don't sit on the committees that would receive that first. But we don't know exactly what is being talked about.

To me, it raises other questions as well. Where's Russia in all of this, you know? We have an administration that feels -- that does not get tough with Russia on things that would protect our country. We know that Russia has been supportive of Assad so one question I have is what are they doing to reach out with Russia to get their support to stop this, as well?

KEILAR: All right. All right, Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. Thank you so much for talking health care --

STABENOW: Thank you.

KEILAR: -- and Syria with us today. Appreciate it.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Brianna. Up next, a CNN exclusive, inside Raqqa. Now, that's the de facto ISIS capital, right? What does it look like now? This is proof positive of progress on the ground, next.


[07:43:15] CUOMO: All right. Here is a stat that's not in the CBO report. The Senate health care bill gives the richest Americans a quarter-million-dollar tax gift. That is according to a new analysis by the Tax Policy Center. Let's get some more on this. We've got "CNN MONEY" correspondent Cristina Alesci. She's in the Money Center with more. How does this work?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Chris. Democrats are blasting this bill as reverse Robin Hood -- taking money from the poor and giving it to the rich. Here's why. The bill drastically cuts Medicaid, which covers more than 70 million low- income Americans, while giving major tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans. How much? The top one percent will receive a hefty tax cut. Look at these numbers, an average of $45,000 a year.

But the savings for those in the top .1 percent is even higher, Chris. They receive an average of about $250,000 a year. That's because the bill eliminates two taxes that disproportionately affect the wealthy -- one on incomes above $200,000 and another on investment income. Overall, the bill will reduce tax revenue by $700 billion in the next 10 years. And look at this pie chart, 67 percent of that money flows to the highest income earners -- Brianna.

KEILAR: My goodness. All right, Cristina Alesci, have a wonderful morning. Thank you for that.

And now, to a CNN exclusive. We have undercover video taken in the heart of ISIS's self-proclaimed caliphate as it crumbles. CNN senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh is live for us in Erbil, Iraq with exclusive video inside of Raqqa. Nick, what does this tell us?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It tells us really that people are pretty relaxed in terms of no longer fearing ISIS in the way they used to. ISIS used to control so tightly the propaganda that were allowed out of that city. Only their video of an occasional snatched still frame from an activist. Now, things have changed because, frankly, it's a city under siege.

[07:45:13] (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALSH: This is what a reign of terror looks like when it's in collapse. The traffic's normal, so is the market, but you can tell ISIS are losing here on the streets of Raqqa, the capital of their fast-shrinking caliphate from one thing, it's actually pretty easy to film them in secret. Using a hidden body camera could be a death sentence for this activist but in these besieged streets lined with sandbags, encircled by American-backed Syrian fighters they just don't fear ISIS anymore.

So even this foreign fighter, Abu Aisha from Belgium, is a target as he makes a frontline fashion choice. And elsewhere, two Russian- speaking fighters appear to discuss airstrikes.

ABU HURIRI, RUSSIAN FIGHTER (via text): We have a problem at the moment. I forgot even the radios. I said to Khalid, "Do you have them?" He thought he returned them to the base. I said, "Let's go there." But apparently, they've already attacked and the battle's been going on for a day already.

RUSSIAN FIGHTER #2 (via text): The planes have been striking the whole day, chasing them. It hit them right on the nose. Planes have been striking, vehicles are striking deliberately.

WALSH: Here, Abu Lukhman, the Egyptian, looks for this military police Tunisian man, Abu Mariam. They didn't find him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via text): I'm his brother. Brothers.

WALSH: Streets are covered with canopies meant to shelter ISIS fighters from prying coalition drones above, but despite the war the market's brimming, even the wounded hobbling around. Under siege, why is there so much food? Well, it's shipped in from nearby regime-held areas we're told. Commerce alive and well in the caliphate. This shop even seems to offer to change dollars. Sandbags give shelter from airstrikes but also defensive positions when street-to-street fighting reaches here. But some locals have already made this hostile terrain. One activist from the group,Ahrar al-Furat, telling us how he pins night letters -- death threats -- to the doors of ISIS informants.

MEMBER, AHRAR AL-FURAT (via translation): We can only get to them, he says, by leaving messages on their door like "we know who you are." This soon stopped them. And some of our friends started writing the word "free" on the walls of ISIS buildings. Then, locals started, the elderly writing it on walls and children on chalkboards, making ISIS wonder who are these people?

It's getting ugly for ISIS here. They've moved their prisoners out, top commanders have fled. The lieutenants only drive around in low- profile normal cars. Their enemy is literally at the gates. ISIS' world vanishing fast and this may be among the last times we glimpse into their warped way of life. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Erbil, Northern Iraq. (END VIDEOTAPE)

WALSH: Now, they have nearly encircled Raqqa, a force of Syrian and Kurdish militants backed with an awful lot of American firepower and guidance on the ground. The noose almost complete, about a kilometer away on the south until there's finally -- a cordon is put in place. It could be a lengthy fight and I have to say, though, it is moving an awful lot faster it seems, certainly on the outskirts, than the fight to liberate Mosul in Iraq, which is now in its eighth month. But finally, when Raqqa begins to feel the pressure, you will see fighting tense in those streets there. Those sandbags potentially laid out to defensive positions for ISIS but they are a much-weakened force now. Back to you, Chris.

CUOMO: Nick Paton Walsh, a brilliant and important job of isolating such a main ingredient to peace there, which is resolve among that indigenous population to take control of its own community. Our thanks to Nick.

All right. so, whether it is the situation with the United States in Raqqa, or in Syria writ large, or in Iraq, or just in what people feel about this world, how is that reflected in a new poll? What does the world think of our new president in the United States? We're going to debate it next.


[07:52:50] CUOMO: How does the world see the president? Well, that's a difficult question to answer, obviously, but there is a new Pew international poll of people in 37 countries. That's a lot of p's and there's a lot of numbers in there, as well. It shows people have more confidence in Russian President Vladimir Putin than in America's new president, Donald Trump. Can that be? Does this matter?

Let's discuss. We have CNN political commentator and the former senior communications adviser for the Trump campaign, Mr. Jason Miller. And, CNN commentator Bakari Sellers. Jason, let me give you a chance to be a human bucket of cold water on this Pew poll. The idea that Putin's only at 27 but that puts him higher than our president at 22 -- that the main adjectives of global views when it comes to Trump's characteristics -- arrogant, intolerant, and dangerous. What do you make of this?

JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think this is one the sillier things we've seen in quite some time. I mean, if you want to look at how President Trump is being viewed on the international stage take a look at Indian Prime Minister Modi who greeted him with such a warm embrace yesterday. Look at the way that President Trump was so warmly received when he spoke in Saudi Arabia with all of our Arab allies in the region.

I think for folks around the world this poll -- to say that they're casting dispersions on the president or not receiving him in a good light, I think is just silly, and the fact of the matter is the president is finally restoring our standing on the world stage. That might ruffle a few feathers here and there but the folks back home in America -- this is why President Trump won.

CUOMO: So, Bakari, is that what this poll means to you? Is it a reflection that not everybody is going to like America being made great again?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN COMMENTATOR: No, not at all. In fact, I find it quite humorous because Jason wants us to look at a hug from the Indian prime minister or a speech in Saudi Arabia in which the President of the United States actually took an extra $200 billion with him for an arms deal instead of looking at real numbers -- instead of looking at real data.

The fact is we've actually taken a step back. We've retreated from the world stage and now we have people who are filling that void, whether or not it's Angela Merkel or whether or not it's Vladimir Putin. No longer is the President of the United States -- and this is the saddest thing about the Trump presidency -- but no longer is the President of the United States the leader of the free world.

[07:55:10] CUOMO: So, Jason, where's that perspective coming from that what you call muscling-up, you know, ruffling feathers around the world can be seen as abrasive and disconcerting to allies?

MILLER: Well, and to be clear, I said it might ruffle the feathers of those who may see that their president is restoring our strong standing in an international space. And again, President Trump isn't trying to be secretary general of the U.N. President Trump is trying to be the best president for the United States and standing up for our interests. I think he's doing a good job for that. I think supporters of the president who worked so hard to elect him are thinking that exact thing. And I think the fact that we have a president who's actually going to stand up for what we believe in is a good thing.

CUOMO: All right. So, I got both of you takes on what the international scene is. Let's switch it to the domestic take. Bakari Sellers, it seems that the president sees currency in looking back at the Obama administration and attacking it. Now, that is not new in politics, right? I mean, we see it all the time but it is enhanced right now for President Trump. What do you think of that play?

SELLERS: Well, I mean, I think it works for his base. You know, the president built his career -- his political career -- got started with the birther line, so he's been tied to Barack Obama for a very, very long period of time. His infatuation with the 44th President of the United States is, to use a Donald Trump word, sad.

You know, he's not a forward-looking visionary and there are a lot of things, whether or not it's favorability, whether or not it's the unemployment rate, whether or not it's the stock market, whether or not it's any economic criteria you look at like the growth we saw in every individual market or every individual demographic under Barack Obama, the standing and respect he got around the world. I mean, I guess there is a lot to be jealous of but to pronounce that jealousy every day, I don't think is becoming of the President of the United States. CUOMO: Jason?

MILLER: Well, I think the president's doing a good job so far of rolling back a number of these burdensome regulations that the previous administration had put in -- received what the previousadministration did with distorting our entire health care system. Hopefully, the Senate can get to that this week and come up with some good fixes and some good changes. But I think a lot of what we're seeing with President Trump, though, is largely a rebuke of this previous administration. I don't see how there's any way you can refute that.

CUOMO: Well, I think the easiest pushback is the president went from doing everything he could to ignore that the Russian interference happened, and we know why. Every time the words "Russian interference" are said, even though they have nothing to do with the Trump staff specifically, that's what the president hears so he has rejected that notion. Now, he has decided to accept the notion that Russia did interfere, but only to look back at the Obama administration and say they screwed it up, which is factually untrue although there is room for criticism. But why do that? Why go after the Obama administration for what they did about Russian interference instead of focusing on what he'll do about it now that the ball's in his hands?

MILLER: So, I'm glad you bring this up because this is, I think, a fundamental misunderstanding that many on the left have of President Trump, and --

CUOMO: You're not putting me in that group, are you?

MILLER: No, no, no, no. You're straight down the middle, Chris. I absolutely love you.

CUOMO: You're going to get a lot of heat for that, Jason. Go ahead, what's your point?

MILLER: No, but I think -- look, if President Trump -- I think he's right to go and call out the previous administration for their failure to address this issue because so many on the left want to go and pin all of the Russian meddling on President Trump and make it sound like it's an indictment on him when the fact of the matter is -- and we've seen some of the testimonies on Capitol Hill -- the Russians have been trying to influence our elections for decades. And so this is nothing new or nothing specific to President Trump and so I think it's right for the president to push back on this because if he doesn't stand up and do it then nobody else is going to.

CUOMO: All right, get a quick word on this, Bakari.

SELLERS: No, no, no. I just think that's not true. The fact is you can criticize Barack Obama because hindsight is 20/20 and the President of the United States at that time should have acted more decisively and tougher and took politics out of it. But the fact is you had a candidate running for president who actually went at the root of our democracy, asked the Russians to play a role, asked the Russians to hack these emails, and now will not stand up to the Russians. You can't have any faith in what Donald Trump says.

MILLER: But, Bakari, we're almost a year in without one shred of proof that there was any coordination between the --

CUOMO: You got on -- you got ongoing investigations, though. The more we just let them play out the facts will be there or they won't and we'll leave it at that. Bakari, Jason, appreciate you both, as always.

There is a lot of news for you this morning. This battle over health care, it's not just about politics, it's about people. We've got new information -- we're going to give it to you. Let's get after it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Republicans have gone from total secrecy to total chaos.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I'm concerned that the death spiral of Obamacare may well even get worse with the Republican version.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These senators need to remember that they campaigned on repealing and replacing Obamacare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty-two million people losing their coverage, that's unacceptable.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated.

KEILAR: The Trump administration says Syria's Assad is preparing for another chemical strike.