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Analysts Examine Republican Tax Plan; White House Suspends Jones Act to Enable More Aid to Reach Puerto Rico; Interview with Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz of San Juan, Puerto Rico; Interview with Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired September 28, 2017 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] ANTHONY CHAN, MANAGING DIRECTOR AND CHIEF ECONOMIST, CHASE: -- boost the economy, but it's not going to boost the economy as much as it did during the Reagan administration. We don't have enough slack in the economy to boost the economy.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Look, and also, you guys are the experts. I bring you on because I need your brain on these situations. We have businesses holding unprecedented amounts of cash. So if you give them more of their money back, who is to say, Anthony, that they're going to hire more people or pay more people than they are already? If one thing has not echoed the unprecedented expansion of wealth in this country, it's wages. They aren't going up on a relative basis. So you give businesses more money, they're already holding an unprecedented amount of cash. Where's the guarantee that it passes down to the working class?

CHAN: Well, Chris, one of the things -- I did a study looking at what happens to wages. And the number one determinate of wages is not taxes, but it's rather productivity growth. That's been very, very weak. If these companies do invest a little bit more, that will boost productivity and that will increase wages.

CUOMO: They're all making record profits.

CHAN: Now wages --

CUOMO: They're making record profit.

CHAN: Right now productivity has been very weak.

STEPHEN MOORE, FORMER SENIOR ECONOMIC ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Yes, that's right. Anthony and I agree entirely on that. Chris, when companies invest more in equipment and research and technology, who benefits from that? The workers who are working with that kind of -- you give a worker a forklift, he's going to make a lot more money than he doesn't have that kind of equipment. I had a dinner with Fred Smith, the CEO of FedEx. He said you do this tax plan, we're going buy more planes, more trucks, more vehicles. That's good for workers.

CUOMO: Understood.

MOORE: That's your economic lesson for today. CUOMO: It's one version of it, I'll tell you that right now. But I

like the debate. Thank you very much. We need it on the show. You make us better. Stephen, Anthony, appreciate it.

All right, we're getting over to the top of the hour now, just after 8:00 here in the east, so good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Thursday, September 28th. You've got Alisyn and Chris with you.

President Trump kicking off his big push to cut taxes for individuals and businesses. Some new moves on business, but the question is who is it good for and how will they pay for it? Now the details, the president giving them over to a bitterly divided Congress to figure it all out. The president is hailing his plan as revolutionary. Analysts, they're split on it. A lot of people say the wealthy are going to benefit the most.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And the president also not ending his feud with NFL. Instead he's saying this morning that team owners are scared of their players. This as President Trump threatened to get rid of one cabinet member, refusing to say whether he'll fire Health Secretary Tom Price for using private planes on the taxpayers' dime.

Let's begin with CNN's Joe Johns. He is live for us at the White House. What's the latest there, Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, the White House and the president trying to get back on track after a brutal week after the third try, the health care plan failed once again on Capitol Hill. The president has taken heat for the response in Puerto Rico as well as the Virgin Islands. And he also backed the losing candidate in the Alabama Senate election. So now they're hoping to get back on track with a crowd pleaser of a tax plan.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's never been tax cuts likes what we're talking about.

JOHNS: President Trump kicking off the Republican Party's ambitious push to slash tax rates and revamp the tax code. Unveiling a nine page framework that includes reducing the number of tax brackets from seven to three, doubling the standard deduction, increasing the child tax credit, reducing the corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent, creating a new tax rate for pass through businesses, and eliminating the alternative minimum tax and estate tax. Trump's plan lacks many key details including what the income levels are for the new tax brackets and how they plan to pay for the tax cuts. The Committee for Responsible Federal Budget estimates they will add $2.2 trillion to the deficit.

TRUMP: This is a revolutionary change and the biggest winners will be the everyday American workers.

JOHNS: Mr. Trump attempting to cast the proposal as a boon for the middle class, but Democrats say it is wealthy Americans who will benefit the most. NANCY PELOSI, (D), CALIFORNIA, HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Behind

Republicans vague framework and deceptive math, the American people find a billionaires first tax plan that fails the middle class.

JOHNS: Mr. Trump also insisting that Republicans have the votes to repeal and replace Obamacare despite the fact of the co-author of the latest bill refutes that. The president says Congress fell short because of Republican Senator Thad Cochran's absence.

TRUMP: We had the votes to get it done. You can't do it when somebody is in the hospital.

JOHNS: Senator Cochran tweeting that he is not hospitalized but recovering from a medical ailment. All this as several controversies consume the White House. The president facing growing questions about the federal response to hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

[08:05:04] As three of the president's cabinet secretaries are under fire for spending taxpayer dollars on costly flights, the president scolding Health Secretary Tom Price over his repeated use of private planes, foregoing cheaper commercial options.

TRUMP: I'm going to look at it. I am not happy about it and I've let him know it.

JOHNS: But a White House official says Price's job is safe for now. And the president continues to sound off on the NFL not doing anything to stop players who kneel during the National Anthem.

TRUMP: In my opinion, the NFL has to change, or you know what is going to happen, their business is going to go to hell.


JOHNS: And this morning we have a bit of breaking news on the hurricane response in Puerto Rico. White house Press Secretary Sarah Sanders just tweeting moments ago that the administration has decided to lift or suspend the Jones Act. This is a 100 year old law that requires supplies being carried between the U.S. ports to be carried on U.S. ships. A number of Democratic members of Congress had called on the administration to wave that rule for now at least, for a year they wanted, in order to try to get supplies more quickly to the island territory. So once again the White House press secretary tweeting out that the administration has decided to lift the Jones Act for Puerto Rico.

CAMEROTA: That's huge, Joe. Thank you very much. This is exactly what the mayor of San Juan had been calling for in no uncertain team, saying this is what we're waiting for. This is what we need. This is what would help people in a dire situation. Just last night made a national appeal, and today the president has done it.

JOHNS: And what they said was the governor -- let's bring in our CNN political director David Chalian. David, so what the White House is saying is we needed to wait for a formal request. Look, is that true? It's tru-ish. Yes, that's the way it's supposed to work, but obviously they could have jumped the ball. The governor of Puerto Rico saying last night formally please waive it. And the reporting betrays some kind of confusion. The governor didn't know they were waiting on him. There are a lot of business interests tied up in the Jones act. What's the Jones Act? Simply stated, it's a rule that made different places like Puerto Rico have only ships that were made in the U.S. and crude by U.S. people deliver goods there. So it excluded a lot of other suppliers. It raised costs and it kept down the number of people who could help. David, what's you take?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, there's no doubt it has. In fact you heard President Trump say, a lot of those shippers, they don't really want us to waive the Jones Act because it does raise cost and increase their profits because it does have that exclusionary, America first approach, Chris. You are right about that.

But I think the White House was playing a bit of a dance here, you are right, waiting for the formal request, trying to back down reports that they somehow had denied a request which they claim they did not do. Then as you saw the governor last night tweeted, saying I am petitioning the Trump White House as of Wednesday night to please waive the Jones Act, and this morning we have the president's response. He's doing so.

CAMEROTA: And we're about to talk to mayor, just to put a little bit of a finer point on it. She said last night, Mr. President, not to eliminate the laws of shipping is immoral. It is an act of financial oppression that will only succeed in deepening our downturn. So the president heard them, and now that has happened.

Let's talk, David, about taxes. What do you see in this tax plan that the president has put out?

CHALIAN: The first thing I see is that there is no sort of path to pay for it. That will end up being a big part of the conversation on Capitol Hill as it really becomes legislation. You will just see that some Republicans who are in favor of this are going to argue that this is going to create an economic boom. That is going to help pay for it in and of itself, that the tax cuts will indeed pay for it with the economic, the increase in economic activity that will take place. You'll see a lot of Democrats push back on that and perhaps some Republicans as well who are true fiscal conservatives.

But in terms of what is being offered here, it is a huge tax cut. I know the president is keen on framing this just as a middle class miracle and he wants to keep it all about the middle class in terms of rhetoric. But the corporate side of this seems to me to be a huge piece of this. And as you saw, President Trump is in a non-negotiable mood about that 20 percent rate for business.

CUOMO: Here's what I don't get. Where was the political disconnect on the articulation of this plan, spin on the plan, David? Because, you're right, the promise from the president during the campaign was crystal. It was I'm about the middle class. I don't care about the wealthy. I'm going take a bite of out them. I don't need their money. I know how to deal with them. That was very compelling. [08:10:04] Why put out a plan that really only details how you're

going to help the upper income people and not the middle class?

CHALIAN: It has some information in there for the middle class, but you're right. It is not --

CUOMO: They're not the headlines. The AMT, the estate tax, lowering business rates, you know.

CHALIAN: He's clearly on the mind that, as you were talking about with Stephen Moore, this notion of let's free up some money. Give some of the wealthy more money, true supply side economics, right, and that will have sort of a trickle-down effect into the economy. There's a great debate in this country over whether or not that works or not and is it proven or not, but clearly Donald Trump believes that that is part of how he's going to get this through.

Remember, you just saw a completely divided Republican Party, Chris, over health care. Tax reform is not going to be any easier. And it's because of these kinds of issues, he's trying to make sure he has the votes to get something done here. So I think he wasn't able to just take one approach. I think the White House needed to start putting a plan together that had a little bit of something for everyone.

CAMEROTA: Good news, though, for Republicans, David. The president says they do have the votes on Graham-Cassidy. Mitch McConnell never got this memo which is why he canceled the vote, but the president this morning says they do have the votes. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The health care bill didn't go down. We have the votes, but reconciliation is a disaster. As you know, it ends on Friday. So we don't have enough time because we have one Senate who is a yes vote, a great person, but he's in the hospital. And he's a yes vote. So we can't do it by Friday. So we have the votes. We will do it sometime at the beginning of the year, but prior to the election in November.


CAMEROTA: OK, he's talking there obviously David about Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi who is not in the hospital.

CHALIAN: Not in the hospital.

CAMEROTA: And said he would be happy to come back for the vote. He tweeted this. "Thanks for the well wishes. I'm not hospitalized but am recuperating at home in Mississippi and look forward to returning to work."

CUOMO: They didn't have the votes with Cochran anyway.

CAMEROTA: I know that.

CHALIAN: That's all good. So you got the facts wrong on Cochran and being in the hospital and he's not. But it doesn't matter. It's an irrelevant piece of information. Thad Cochran is not one of the names listed as already declared no votes on this. Rand Paul, John McCain, Susan Collins, and it only takes three. So I thought what was most interesting is that at the very moment he was saying this on stage yesterday in Indiana that he has the votes, precisely the same moment, Lindsey Graham, the sponsor of the legislation, sent out an email to supporters saying unfortunately we don't have the votes to get the bill passed right now.

CAMEROTA: Truthful hyperbole is what Trump called it in one of his earlier books.

CAMEROTA: Or just bad math?

CUOMO: You could call it that also. I don't truthful hyperbole will help you with the math teacher when you get something wrong.

CAMEROTA: David, thank you very much, great to talk to you.

CHALIAN: Thanks.

CAMEROTA: Back to Puerto Rico. Joining us now by phone is the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carmen Yulin Cruz. Madam Mayor, so wonderful to talk to you this morning. What is your reaction to the news that Sara Huckabee Sanders at the White House just tweeted out that the Jones Act will be suspended starting immediately?

CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, MAYOR, SAN JUAN, (via telephone): First of all, I think it is an act of justice. I tweeted yesterday that not repealing the Jones Act would be an act of injustice. And it is an act of justice. It will all Puerto Ricans to rebuild to have a cost of living that really, frankly, is affordable.

Just so that people know, the Jones act makes everything that we receive in Puerto Rico between 30 and 33 percent higher. So the cost of construction will be lower. The cost of acquiring goods will be lowered. But we are grateful that our cries for justice were heard and that the president did the right thing and stood in the right side of history.

CAMEROTA: Yes, you called for it and now it has happened. And I know you must be very grateful. Do you know why it took so long to take this action?

CRUZ: No, but you know, sometimes it doesn't matter why things happen and who makes them happen when justice prevails. And that is what is important, that justice has prevailed here. We have a broken supply chain. And that broken supply chain begins with just repealing the Jones Act.


CRUZ: It must have been a difficult decision, but it is the right and the just decision.

CAMEROTA: And Mayor Yulin, I want to ask you about the supplies and the supply chain because it's hard for us to know exactly what's happening. We understand that there are thousands of containers of emergency supplies that are sitting idly at the port of San Juan. Do you know about this situation?

[08:15:00] CRUZ: Well, it has been reported that and yesterday, there were some images that floated around the Internet, which frankly has become a primary source of communication. And this is something that needs to be taken care of quickly.

The people of Puerto Rico need to know what the plans are and how they are unfolding. This is why it's so important to work that all of you are doing down here and it's so important that you magnify the voices that are crying for help.

CAMEROTA: Yes. But who is supposed to be organizing this? I mean, why would there be supplies that people are so desperate for sitting in the port without them getting out? Who is supposed to be spearheading that?

CRUZ: I'm going to have a meeting today with FEMA. I know that FEMA employees have come to the municipality and I'll take my municipality. They have told me they're eager to help, but it seems to be some sort of a jurisdictional situation, you know, whether it is -- should the help be coming through the municipality, should it be brought directly through the municipalities or should another method of supply be used?

What I'm finding is that the mayor of Miami Beach came personally yesterday and brought me supplies in San Juan.


CRUZ: The mayor of New York has also done so. The mayor of Chicago has helped. What I'm finding is that mayors are calling mayors to help mayors directly --


CRUZ: -- because or supply chain is faster now.

CAMEROTA: Mayor, is it true? Is it true that these supplies are sitting at the port of San Juan?

CRUZ: The information that's loaded yesterday through the Internet with the images shows that is true. There's about 3,000 containers that are stuck there and there's no reason at all. So, my cry today is let's get it done. Let's move on it.

CAMEROTA: Can you -- I mean, just out of curiosity, what would happen if you went to the port and said please offload these now?

CRUZ: Nothing. Nothing. Because from a jurisdictional basis, even though the ports are in the capital city and I'm the mayor of the city, I have no jurisdiction over those ports. So, nothing will happen.

So, we are relying on you guys to put the pressure on and make sure that everyone that needs to hear, just like Mr. Trump heard, the cries for justice that got him to repeal the Jones Act, we ask, I beg you to just repeat this and repeat this, and use the municipalities as the supply chain. We know our people. We know where the hot spots are. We know how to get our people involved. And we can get the stuff to where it needs to go.

There are some municipalities that are hindered in their ability to do that.


CRUZ: So, those that can will help those that cannot. It's a simple fact of life. It is not complicated. Politics needs to be put aside. And we need to get the job done now.

CAMEROTA: So, Mayor, there is a FEMA press briefing happening right now, along with the governor of Puerto Rico. So you are calling upon them, if I hear you correctly, to release these supplies to you because you're saying that you know better where they need to go and you can make it happen better than waiting for the feds and FEMA to try to get to them.

CRUZ: Well, not better than waiting, with the help of the feds. With the help of the FEMA people, and with distribution centers that are closer to the municipality. If the distribution centers are far away from the municipalities and there are not many distribution centers, what will happen is municipalities will be using what little gas and diesel they have in order to get supplies.

So, these supplies need to be distributed into bigger centers that are closer to the municipalities and then they can be distributed throughout.

CAMEROTA: So when we hear that the obstacles --

CRUZ: I'm glad this is happening. It may be happening and they may be what the governor will be announcing.

Also, the communications need to be sharp, clean and clear and people of Puerto Rico need to know what is happening and when will they get help.

CAMEROTA: So, when we hear the obstacles are too great to speed up this process because there's no radar at the airport, making it very hard for planes to land, and ports are damaged, is that true? Or is there a way to make this happen.

CRUZ: Well, for heavens sake. If we were at war, there may not be any radars and planes would be landed. You know, there are ways to get around obstacles, if justice is going to prevail. If we are, our main objective is to put food and water and medicine into people's hands.

[08:20:00] When you're in a war situation, they have little drones or these little parachutes, the drop boxes, different places with supplies for people. That can be arranged. It has been used since World War II.

It cannot be that difficult. Since the 1940s, it's been used in Africa, Haiti, all over the world. So, perhaps go back to basics. And get things done.

CAMEROTA: And when you've talked to federal officials and said my people are dying. My people need help. My people need water and food. Let me handle it. Let me help through our distribution centers -- what is the response that you get?

CRUZ: Twice, I've been told, write a memo. Twice I've been told, write a memo.

Twice, the people of FEMA who are great, good, compassionate, articulate, professional people, they know what they're doing. They're telling me, look, mayor, what they're saying is that all of these, all this stuff needs to be centralized. So, your petition directly to FEMA is not good enough. It has to be centralized.

Well, as long as we keep centralizing things. This is what a supply chain is all about. It's about decentralizing things so that they get to where they're supposed to get fast enough.

CAMEROTA: So, the federal officials are telling you, write a memo. And that sounds like bureaucracy and red tape in this crisis where obviously time is of the essence. They want you to write a memo to who, the feds in Washington? And have you done that?

CRUZ: No, they want me to write a memo to give it to them. You know, mind you, send an e-mail. The communications are broken. Communications are broken.

So, I may have an ability to write an e-mail now but I won't have it. This call at any point in time can just go off. Just because the communications are broken. I have a satellite phone because my dear mayor friend, Bill de Blasio, and Melissa Mark-Viverito, she came to Puerto Rico. She came to San Juan and they sent Otero (ph), one of New York's finest, a fireman to put a satellite phone in my hand.

CAMEROTA: So, you're message to anyone listening in the White House, or in the federal government is that now is not the time for memos. This is not -- we don't have time for memos and you don't have the technology right now for memos.

CRUZ: Now is not the time for memos. Now is the time for action. Now is the time for justice and now is the time to get life support supplies into people's hands.

CAMEROTA: Mayor Yulin, we appreciate you taking the time to talk to us. We know that right before our phone call, you were trying to get fuel for people who desperately needed it. Thank you. Obviously, we will check back with you through the day to make sure that you're getting the help that you need.

CRUZ: Thank you very much. CAMEROTA: Coming up in just minutes, we will speak with Puerto Rico

man who is trying to do everything he can. You know him from the song "Despacito". He's the singer, he's a Puerto Rican native, he is Luis Fonsi. He is desperate to help his hurricane-ravaged island and he'll be here with us live.

CUOMO: All right. Up next, CNN is uncovering new details about Facebook ads purchased by the Russians during the 2016 election. How far did the Kremlin go to stoke unrest in America? How did they do it? Who might have helped them?

The House Intelligence Committee, we got a member, next.


[08:25:46] CUOMO: A CNN exclusive reveals at least one of the Facebook ads bought by Russians referenced Black Lives Matter and was specifically targeted to reach people in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore. This is proof of what was done to interfere in this election by the Russians. Not a witch hunt.

Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier. She's a member of the House Intel Committee which has invited tech firms to testify in an opening hearing on Russian interference in the election.

Jackie, it's good to have you. While I have you, though, I want to start off topic just for a second, OK?


CUOMO: We just have the mayor of San Juan. She's saying she's getting killed by the bureaucracy there. There are things in the port that could be getting out to distribution centers. And, yes, you have no infrastructure. The roads are down. You have a lot of vehicles that don't have fuel. There are a lot of real problems.

But bureaucracy seems to be one of them. Is there anything you can do to help grease the wheels down there in terms of getting things done and removing some of the layers?

SPEIER: Well, I think the mayor of San Juan has done a great job of making it a national disgrace that we have not gotten the goods and services to the people needed in Puerto Rico right now. We're not in the majority. So, it becomes a little more difficult for us you can be sure we're making loud noises about the shameful response in Puerto Rico.

CUOMO: All right. Because, you know, sometimes phone calls from you guys -- you know, I mean, look, Brock Long is a busy guy. He's got a lot going on, and by all indications, he's exercising a real plan.

But, you know, when people in power make a phone call, sometimes it can make a difference. I just want to put it in your ear, on the air.


CUOMO: Thank you for hearing the message. Hopefully, you can do something about it.

Let's talk about Facebook in terms of what we know. What do you know that the Russians did in terms of putting out fake news in deceptive acts?

SPEIER: So, what we know, frankly, is what Facebook has made available to us or the independent studies that have been done. We do know there were some 3,000 ads paid for by Russians in rubles. That was $100,000 worth of ads. That there were 470 fake new sites or Facebook pages that were created.

I think it's a much higher number than that, but that's what we know to date. And we do know that in all likelihood, $100,000 doesn't seem like much in political campaigns on TV. That's a huge number in terms of who you reach, anywhere from 30 to 70 million people on Facebook.

We also know that about 67 percent of Americans are on Facebook. And about 6 percent get their news from one social media source. So, all of that would suggest to us that what these platforms have become, both Twitter and Facebook, are toxic brew for news pollution.

And, you know, we're not talking about Walter Cronkite anymore. The news we're getting, frankly, can be and as is being suggested now, has been tainted particularly by the Russians.

CUOMO: So, at the hearing, what do you want to know?

SPEIER: Well, I think Twitter has got to turn over to us their accounts. That they have identified as being fake news. I think we should also take advantage of the Oxford study that was released this morning that was only about 1 percent of Twitter accounts for the last few days of the election, but it suggests that 40 percent of what was put on Twitter during that time was fake news.

Since most of those were on Twitter, are either news sources, newsmakers or news outlets, that becomes just an echo chamber for bad data being spread publicly.

CUOMO: Look, it's a little bit of a slippery slope and obviously, the providers want to err on the side of giving people opportunity. We get that. But I can tell you, just from personal experience, there are a lot of sites still on operation.

So, what are you going to ask for in terms of controlling of those sites, and what are you going to ask for and look for in terms of who might have helped the Russians and whoever did this activity find the right places to be and what markets to place the ads and what states to put them? Because that's a high degree of election sophistication.