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Remembering Hugh Hefner; Medical Care Crisis in Puerto Rico, Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired September 28, 2017 - 04:30   ET



[04:30:32] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Our breaking news this morning. He changed the perception and reality of sex in America. Iconic "Playboy" founder Hugh Hefner has died. We look back on his life and legacy.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump looking to reverse the tide in a rough week. His tax plan is out and he's planning an executive order on health care.

Welcome back to EARLY START this morning. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It is 30 minutes past the hour.

The party is over. Breaking overnight "Playboy" founder Hugh Hefner has passed away at the age of 91. He died of natural causes at the "Playboy" mansion, surrounded by his family. Hefner was a true American icon.

ROMANS: He introduced the world to "Playboy" in 1953, building that company into one the most successful and recognizable American brands.

This morning tributes are pouring in for the man affectionately known as Hef. Jenny McCarthy, one of many celebrities who posed for "Playboy," tweeting this -- of course she wasn't a celebrity before she did.

BRIGGS: Right.

ROMANS: It made her a celebrity. "Rest in peace. Thank you for being a revolutionary and changing so many people's lives especially mine. I hope I made you proud." The #PMY94 meaning Playmate of the Year, 1994.

BRIGGS: Hugh Hefner survived by a wife and four children, CNN's Stephanie Elam has a look back at his remarkable life and career.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He was one of the original American "Playboy"s, a magazine tycoon who helped spark a revolution. One that challenged the nation's views on sexuality.

HUGH HEFNER, "PLAYBOY" FOUNDER: I have celebrated the romantic connection between the sexes. And that's part of what "Playboy" is all about.

ELAM: Hugh M. Hefner who liked to be called Hef was born in Chicago in 1926 and raised in what he said was a strict household by conservative Protestant parents.

HEFNER: I felt there was something more to life than the world I saw around me.

ELAM: In 1953, with just $8,000 the aspiring publisher produced the very first issue of "Playboy" magazine on the kitchen table of his Chicago apartment. The cover featured a photo of Marilyn Monroe and sold more than 50,000 when it hit newsstands in December of 1953. Hefner now had the funds to finance another issue and the "Playboy" empire was born.

HEFNER: Well, I have never really thought of "Playboy" as a sex magazine. What I've tried to do is create a lifestyle magazine for men.

ELAM: Hefner divorced his wife Mildred Williams in 1959 and during the early days of the magazine's success decided he would not only promote the fantasy he helped create but he would live it as well. Audiences got a taste of Hefner's good life in an early 1960s television show called "Playboy's Penthouse."

HEFNER: Come on in and meet some of our guests.

ELAM: Having already established himself in Chicago, Hefner made the move out west. In the early 1970s when "Playboy" magazine was selling seven million copies a month he made his permanent home at the now famous "Playboy" mansion in Los Angeles. In 1989 Hefner uttered the two words many thought he'd never say again when he married Playmate of the Year Kimberly Conrad.

The couple had two children but separated in 1998. Hefner said he realized he was much happier as a bachelor.

HEFNER: I am essentially a romantic, so I think my life revolves and always has revolved around women.

ELAM: Hefner continued to live out the "Playboy" fantasy even in his later years. Often seen in his trademark silk pajamas surrounded by busty blonde lingerie clad women while hosting extravagant parties with celebrity guests. He even returned to television in 2005. This time sharing the small screen with three live-in girlfriends in the reality show "The Girls Next Door."

In the late 2000s he began an on again-off again relationship with Playmate Crystal Harris, 60 years his junior. They tied the knot on New Year's Eve in 2012.

Hefner sold his beloved "Playboy" mansion for $100 million in 2016 on the condition that he be allowed to live there for the rest of his life.

Playboy and provocateur, Hugh Hefner wanted to make the world a happier, sexier place.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: What's your definition of obscenity?

HEFNER: Racism, war, bigotry, but sex itself? No. What a sad and cold world this would be if we weren't sexual beings. I mean, that's the heart of who we are.


[04:35:03] ROMANS: Hugh Hefner, 1926 to 2017, really one of those personalities that define the 20th century. Isn't it?

BRIGGS: No question about that. Iconic no matter what you think about him. And we are in interesting times when the president of the United States once was on the cover of "Playboy."

ROMANS: That's true.

BRIGGS: That was in 1990. Now that cover a bit controversial in that Hugh Hefner's son was embarrassed by it in retrospect. But Hugh Hefner in his last final tweets encouraged people to donate to the America -- the One America Appeal, that's to provide hurricane relief. So --

ROMANS: Interesting.

BRIGGS: Interesting to see how we look back on his life.

ROMANS: All right. 35 minutes past the hour. President Trump unveiling his plan, his tax reform plan proposing the biggest overhaul in decades.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a once in a generation opportunity, and I guess it's probably something I could say that I'm very good at. Our framework includes our explicit commitment that tax reform will protect low-income and middle-income households, not the wealthy and well-connected.


ROMANS: Well, there's plenty in here for the wealthy and well- connected, by the way. And there are plenty of people that say the plan does favor the rich by eliminating the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax. But most Americans will get tax cuts.

Let's be clear. Most Americans will get tax cuts. This is just a blueprint omitting some critical details that the tax writing committee will fill in. That could take months or longer. But here's what we know. For business, tax cuts, the corporate rate slashed to 20 percent. For individuals, a simpler tax code. The seven tax brackets we have now will be collapsed down to just three.

And we don't know the income ranges yet but tax writers will have to decide that, but we know it cuts the top rate to 35 percent. So the richest Americans would pay less. It also allows lawmakers to add, though, a fourth tax bracket above 35 percent if the president wants to make good on some suggestions he's had in the past, Dave, that he wants to raise taxes on the rich. So state tuned to that.

The lowest rate is actually a little bit higher. But the White House says most low income earners will not pay taxes because the plan doubles the standard deduction. Meaning, it won't tax the first $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for couples.

The plan in part doubles that deduction by eliminating personal exemptions along with most tax breaks. Two tax breaks are safe. You have mortgage interest deduction and the money you donate to charity. But student loan interest, medical expenses, state and local taxes all gone or deductions for those, all gone. That last one will hurt people in high tax and mostly blue states. A large majority of which are middle class.

Trump says the plan will benefit middle class families. We just don't know enough details yet to be able to give you an example of, like, a family of four making $100,000 would get X, you know. We don't have that map here.

Two things will help, though. Boosting the child tax credit and doubling that standard deduction. Losing the personal exemption, though, could take away some of those savings. Right now it reduces your tax bill by about $4,000 per person with that exemption.

BRIGGS: OK. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon says bottom line nothing in this Trump tax scam for the middle class. Big fat giveaways for Trump and his friends, true or false?

ROMANS: Well, this is good for Trump and his friends. And when you look at -- I talked to a real estate Don Peebles yesterday who said this is great for entrepreneurs, this is great for real estate developers, great for people who are building condo, condo developments or buying and selling condos. It's good for them.

It is lower and simpler taxes, though, for everyone else. And the point of the president's sort of middle class miracle is that when you have these three tax brackets and you double extended deductions that's going to make it simpler and easier for people. And 25 percent income tax bracket for the middle of the spectrum.

But we don't know how much those people earn. We don't know -- they haven't decided yet what that income requirements are going to be.

BRIGGS: Right.

ROMANS: That happens with the tax writers.

BRIGGS: That's the big question. Why is the past-through rate so important? And how they'll enforce it also?

ROMANS: I don't know about the enforcement angle of that. That's a good question. The past-through rate is something that again is very good for entrepreneurs. It's good for people who maybe -- BRIGGS: Small business?

ROMANS: Have a small business. A lot of small business people. They have an LLC or limited liability partnership, an LLC Or LLP. And they are paying their taxes through the stated individual rate. So you lower that pass-through rate to 25 percent. Top rate was 39.6 percent in 2017 so that's a 14-point deduction or discount in your way of handling your taxes.

BRIGGS: But the enforcement I guess matters because you're not going to -- how do you make sure that people aren't using that to pay a lower rate? The rich aren't using that to pay a lower rate? Correct? Is that -- that's the question they have.

ROMANS: That's a good question.

BRIGGS: Create jobs.

ROMANS: You know --

BRIGGS: That's the chief argument here, right?

ROMANS: And look, then people in the business community say yes, with lower and simpler taxes for corporations and for small business this will be able to create jobs. What we have found and my colleague, Rana Faroohar, who's our -- you know, our chief -- one of our chief analysts on this, she works -- she's been making this point again and again, that the last 20 years, 30 years of tax cuts, when we've had tax cuts, they haven't spurred a bunch of job creation.

[04:40:15] And that's been something interesting that's happening to the economy. Why would this time be different?

BRIGGS: But this is reform, not just cuts so --

ROMANS: This is reform. You're right. This is reform, not just cuts. It's a very good point. What I see here looks like reform and I've been worried that they were going to end up just doing just tax cuts for business and then that would be it.

BRIGGS: No, it doesn't.

ROMANS: If they do this, this is reform.

BRIGGS: Does he have the votes? Time will tell.

All right. If Congress can't overhaul Obamacare, looks like President Trump is prepared to go it alone. Listen as he reveals a plan he believes will bring immediate relief to millions of Americans who can no longer afford skyrocketing health care premiums.


TRUMP: And I'll probably be signing a very major executive order where people can go out across state lines, do lots of things, and buy their own health care. And the that will be probably signed next week. It's being finished now.


ROMANS: Ironically it's Senator Rand Paul who has been pushing the idea of allowing insurers to sell policies in other states. The same Rand Paul who helped scuttle the Graham-Cassidy bill. If the president signs the order insurers would be allowed to sell policies in multiple states but they would only have to adhere to the regulations of their home state.

BRIGGS: President Trump has no immediate plans to fire his secretary of Health and Human Services despite the uproar over Tom Price's use of private planes. The president, though, making it clear he's not pleased. Says he's awaiting more information before making a final decision on Price's future.

The embattled Health secretary offering up an apology to the president for the unnecessary distraction but did not offer his resignation.

ROMANS: A spokesman at HHS says Price is taking this criticism, quote, "very seriously and to heart."

CNN has also learned EPA chief Scott Pruitt used private planes for government business this summer instead of flying commercial. We're told the EPA's general counsel approved those flight citing logistics.

BRIGGS: The Trump administration will dramatically reduce the number of refugees allowed to resettle in the United States. They plan to admit no more than 45,000 refugees in the coming fiscal year. That is less than half of what former President Obama proposed for the current fiscal year which ends Sunday.

ROMANS: The Trump proposal includes regional caps of 19,000 for Africa and 17,500 for the Near East and South Asia and the plan does not have a contingency to allow more refugees in if conditions deteriorate somewhere.

Democrats not happy about it. Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, calls is a blow to America's standing as the premier global humanitarian leader.

BRIGGS: OK. Ahead, basic necessities are still hard to find in Puerto Rico. Drinking water, cash, electricity in short supply. People are doing what they can to help the sick and needy. More from San Juan next.


[04:47:15] ROMANS: More than a week now since Hurricane Maria and the situation in Puerto Rico grows even more desperate. A major challenge right now getting critical supplies to people who need them. A shortage of truckers and the island's devastated infrastructure make it extremely difficult to move the aid from the port of San Juan to areas around the island.

BRIGGS: There are also new questions about a century-old law critics say is making it harder to get basic supplies to Puerto Rico. It's the Jones Act requiring all goods ferried between U.S. ports to be carried on ships built, owned and operated by Americans.

ROMANS: There's a bipartisan push to get President Trump to suspend the Jones Act. The president is considering it but says not everyone is in favor.


TRUMP: We have a lot of shippers and a lot of people and a lot of people that work in the shipping industry that don't want the Jones Act lifted. And we have a lot of ships out there right now.


ROMANS: All right. But the Department of Homeland Security says a waiver may not make a difference since the issue isn't getting the supplies to the island, it's getting those supplies off the ships and distributing them.

BRIGGS: As for the recovery, Puerto Rico's power authority says generators on the island are operational but 80 percent of the transmission system and the entire distribution system were damaged. About 44 percent of the island still without drinking water.

ROMANS: And many ATMs are out of cash. At least half of all bank branches remained closed probably there aren't enough drivers to ferry cash around in armored cars. For those who can get to them, more than 500 gas stations are operational. Police say 53 people have been arrested for looting or theft since the hurricane.

BRIGGS: People are doing everything they can to treat the sick and injured but resources are extremely limited making quality care really hard to come by.

We get more now from CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who's in San Juan.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine and Dave, we've made our way into this makeshift medical tent, essentially a tent set up in the middle of San Juan to try and take care of patients.

This is what's necessary right now. This is part of what is known as DMAT, Disaster Management Assistance Team. And I can tell you, many of the team members here, the nurses, the doctors, the medics, they've been busy for the last couple of months. They were in Louisiana after Hurricane Harvey, they were here in Puerto Rico during Irma, and they are back again now after Maria.

Talking to the -- one of the doctors here, they say that this is the worst that they have seen and they expected more and more patients to be coming in here as the patients are able to actually leave the areas where they live and make their way closer and closer to big cities.

It's unclear right now just how many people have been affected. But keep in mind, Christine and Dave, even before these storms, Puerto Rico was a tough place medically. A third of the adult population reported to be in poor health.

[04:50:04] They have a significant elderly population here and lots of lots of chronic disease which they think is going to be the big problem here if those people can't get access to care.

Christine and Dave, back to you.

ROMANS: All right, Sanjay. I'm glad he's there. You know?


ROMANS: He can be the eyes and ears on the ground there.

BRIGGS: Things are coming along. Just slow.

ROMANS: All right. 50 minutes past the hour. Lawmakers asking some big tech companies to testify about Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Facebook is on this least. Who else? CNN Money Stream next.


ROMANS: All right. CNN reporting exclusively that people in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, were targeted in at least one of the Facebook ads bought by Russians during the 2016 campaign.

[04:55:07] The ad referenced Black Lives Matter. Sources say it was meant to appear both as supporting the group but could also be seeing as portraying them as threatening to some residents.

BRIGGS: The ad first appeared in late 2015 or early 2016 as a Russian affiliated troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency tried to sow political chaos in the U.S. Facebook has said about a quarter of the 3,000 ads bought by the agency were geographically targeted but did not reveal the specific locations.

ROMANS: All right. A motorcycle officer in Indianapolis is recovering this morning from a broken ankle after getting into an accident while escorting President Trump to the airport. The crash took place yesterday after the president wrapped up his tax reform speech. Officer Robert Turner winding up on the shoulder, on the left side of Interstate 70 with his bike on the other side. An ambulance traveling in the motorcade was brought up to treat this officer.

The White House says the president spoke to Turner, wished him well and thanked him for his service.

BRIGGS: A rockslide on the face of Yosemite National Parks' El Capitan, killing one person and injuring another. Park officials say at least 20 climbers were on the wall at the time.

It's the height of climbing season right now. Pictures posted on social media show billowing white dust moments after the crash. El Capitan is famous for its near vertical clips in one of the most popular crimes in the world.

It is a stunning sight indeed. Scary.

ROMANS: Authorities on the pacific island nation of Vanuatu ordering the evacuation of the entire population of one of its islands because of a volcano that is threatening to erupt. As many as 15,000 people live on that island. They've been ordered to leave by plane or boat. Signs of activity from Manalo volcano began earlier this month. The alert level was raised to four. The second highest threat level just last weekend.

All right. 56 minutes past the hour. Let's check on Money Stream this morning. Global stock market mixed today after a good day for U.S. tax yesterday. Good day because of tax reform. President Trump releasing a blueprint yesterday.

We need more details, I'm going to be clear here. But this does propose tax cuts for companies and small businesses. That boosted bank stocks. Right now U.S. futures, though, the day after, a little bit lower.

Facebook, Google and Twitter may testify about Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Lawmakers asking executives to attend a public hearing next month. The topic how foreign nationals used their platforms to influence the election. That's according to three sources familiar with the matter.

Facebook admits to selling ads to Russian troll farms and Twitter is expected to disclose similar findings on Capitol Hill today. Facebook, Twitter and Google have not answered the invite yet and did not immediately respond to request for comments.

America's inequality problem getting worse. The richest 1 percent of families control a record amount of U.S. wealth. About 39 percent last year. That's nearly twice as much as the bottom 90 percent of earners. And their slice has only gotten smaller over the past year. The slice of the bottom of 90 percent. That's from a new report from the Federal Reserve.

But also found the richest Americans earn more overall. Paints a stark picture of inequality in the U.S. Even the Fed acknowledges that wealth distribution has grown increasingly unequal in recent years.

BRIGGS: So the question will be, do these tax cuts reform help or hurt that?

ROMANS: Right. Right. That's the lead. And we don't --

BRIGGS: Tough to know at this point?

ROMANS: Tough to know. This is the tax reform is a framework. The tax writers are on the committees --

BRIGGS: By design, though, right? ROMANS: By design you'll have to fill it out so they're still a lot

of questions. But we can tell you this is the first attempt at tax reform of this level in some 30 years.

BRIGGS: But compared to health care, the president was master of details yesterday, in comparison to health care where he took away from --

ROMANS: He talked about this being a legacy. He really wants to get this done.

BRIGGS: He did mention legacy. No surprise there.

All right. EARLY START continues right now with what this tax reform means, and remembering Hugh Hefner.

Remembering Hef. Hugh Hefner has died. We look back on the life and legacy of the "Playboy" icon.

ROMANS: President Trump looking to reverse the tide in a rough week. His tax plan is out and he's planning an executive order on health care.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Good to see you, my friend. Good to see all of you. Thursday, September 28th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

We begin with the breaking news overnight. "Playboy" founder Hugh Hefner has passed away at the age of 91. He died of natural causes at the "Playboy" mansion surrounded by his family.

ROMANS: Hefner was a true American icon. Born in Chicago in 1926, raised by conservative Protestant parents. He introduced the world to "Playboy" in 1953. He built that company into one of the most successful and recognizable American brands in history.


HEFNER: I have celebrated the romantic connection between the sexes. That's part of what "Playboy" is all about.

Well, I have never really thought of "Playboy" as a sex magazine. What I've tried to do is create a lifestyle magazine for men.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: What's your definition of obscenity?

HEFNER: Racism, war --