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Puerto Rico Continues Recovery Efforts in Wake of Hurricane Maria; Former Captives of Haqqani Network Return Home to Canada; Large Wildfires Continue to Burn in Northern California; President Trump Signs Executive Order on Premium Subsidies under Obamacare; Film Academy Meets Regarding Membership of Harvey Weinstein. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired October 14, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: -- joins us on the phone. So Ed, you spoke to people getting unsafe water. What does that say about the desperation level there?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Everyone knows full well that many people here desperately searched for sources of water. There's one particular area west of San Juan which is described as the Dorado superfund waste site. This is the superfund listings, they list it from the Environmental Protection Agency. There are 18 of these sites, and they are particularly looking at six different wells within this one particular superfund site where they have had reports of people using it to try to find water and get access to water, whether or not they have been drinking it or just using it for cleaning and those kinds of purposes isn't exactly clear.
But because these wells sit on these sites, they are trying to reach the areas here and get access to these waters and do the testing, which could take several days to a good week to determine exactly if the water that had been accessed has been contaminated. So these teams are going out to these people to, in this particular area, to not use this water. But clearly, at this point it can be very difficult to control. We were just watching one of these EPA teams take the water samples and they were on their way to sample the next one so that that work be these done this weekend, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: So then, Ed, what's your understanding is to how people have accessed this water that might be contaminated, or were they designated, this is water source in which you should get water from this contaminated well. What's the sequence of events here?
LAVANDERA: This is a -- these are wells. The one particular well we were looking at is a well that was out in the open. There's a sign around it that says that it is designated as a dangerous site, but given the desperation of many of these people, they were trying to access it. And so now they are sending out these warnings to people that they need to be very careful.
The big caveat here, just because it is sitting, these wells are in this site, doesn't mean that the water is contaminated. There is the possibility it is contaminated. Until the tests are completed they won't know for sure if indeed it is contaminated or something they need to be worried about at this point. So that work isn't done. Two of the six wells that they were looking at we're told by officials
have been cleared as safe to use. And because of that we have seen lines of people standing in line for that water and using it. A lot of these people aren't necessarily using it for drinking. They are using it for cleaning. They are using it for their toilets and that sort of thing. But it does give the sense of that desperation that many people have at this point.
WHITFIELD: All right, Ed Lavandera, thank you so much in San Juan.
Let's turn now to the government's overall response to Puerto Rico. House Speaker Paul Ryan led a bipartisan group of lawmakers to the storm ravaged island on Friday, and he calls it a humanitarian disaster and promised the U.S. government is there to help for the long haul. But earlier in the week the president of the United States seemed to contradict that tweeting FEMA can't stay in Puerto Rico forever.
We're joined now by Basil Smikle, executive director of the New York State Democratic Party, and CNN political commentator and Republican strategist Alice Stewart. All right, good to see both of you.
BASIL SMIKLE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NEW YORK STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Thank you.
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: All right, so Alice, you first. Chuck Schumer just tweeted the president is failing on multiple fronts, Puerto Rico being one of them. So how is it that the president can afford to either make it look like he's not worried about it or just simply dismissing the problem in Puerto Rico?
STEWART: He certainly has a lot of balls in the air with everything that's been going on this week. But they have made it quite clear between the president and Brock Long with FEMA that they are fully committed. The full force of the federal government is committed to helping people in Puerto Rico to get back on their feet as well as the people in Florida and Texas.
WHITFIELD: Wait a minute. Quite clear, the message was quite clear when the president tweets out we can't be there forever. He essentially said, you guys got to do this on your own, and he then backpedalled it with they were already in financial dire straits, and almost as an explanation to why you're in trouble and will continue to be.
[14:05:00] STEWART: I think General Kelly clarified exactly what the president meant. Certainly the current status of troops on the ground there in Puerto Rico and FEMA officials on the ground cannot be there forever. But they are committed to getting them back on their feet.
Look, they had tens of thousands of people there working to help them remove debris and restore power and get clean water and get food. They have 11 HHS medical teams there to help with medical services, the Corps of Engineers working around the clock to help restore the power grid. And they will continue to do so to get those resources to get them on their feet. And I think yes, Puerto Rico had tremendous financial and
infrastructure problems before this all happened, but that is behind us. And the United States government based on what the president said and FEMA and General Kelly is going to work full-time to get them back up to where they need to be.
WHITFIELD: So Basil, should that argument be immaterial because while there are tremendous resources that was spelled out, but when you look at the stories and you look at the impact and you look at the people and the dire straits, isn't that a testament to whatever you have in place, U.S. government right now, it's still not enough. And people are saying they need more. Now that we've just learned, too, that there are three more deaths today too attributed to the fact that people couldn't get to medical care facilities in time.
SMIKLE: Yes. These pictures and the stories that are coming out of Puerto Rico are devastating. I learned this morning that a friend of mine down there lost everything, lost absolutely everything. The one fact that should supersede everything else that we discuss is that these are American citizens and they deserve the full support of our American government.
I understand that Speaker Ryan is down there, but to be honest with you, while the president was speaking in the ways that he has about Puerto Rico, they demurred somewhat instead of actually going and saying no, we're going to take the lead here.
This is problematic because there's this sort of bubbling racial component to this, and it's actually existed in some people's minds for a while, but he talks to the Puerto Rican people as though they are a colony, not like they are American citizens, saying that we can't keep FEMA there for an indefinite period of time, that you are responsible, largely, for the mess that you've created, sort of blaming them for it. That's language that communities of color, poor people in particular, have been hearing for decades. And it's hard to actually escape that.
So no matter what the president does to try to sort of reverse some of that sentiment, the image of him throwing paper like basketballs, I think sticks out in people's minds.
WHITFIELD: Yes. Go ahead, Alice.
STEWART: If I can say the paper towel throwing incident was not appropriate.
WHITFIELD: It was horrible.
STEWART: The optics of that were not good.
WHITFIELD: Everyone is actually in agreement that is horrible.
STEWART: And look, we can all agree that these people, their lives are devastated. They are turned upside down. Our colleague Maria Cardona has family there, and they basically spend day and night standing in line for gas and food. Their lives are forever changed, and everyone in America, certainly your hearts go out to them.
But I do see what we're hearing from FEMA and what we're hearing from federal officials that, no, it can't be done fast enough and it can't be done quick enough, but they are doing everything within their power to do what they can. First and foremost restoring power. Secondly, as Ed was reporting, getting some clean, healthy drinking water and working on communications. We know that FEMA has made sure that all mayors in all 78 municipalities have satellite phones so they can communicate and let the federal government know --
WHITFIELD: Back to those numbers, three weeks later we're talking about 80 percent, barely 80 percent, it fluctuates, without power, 60 percent still not getting clean water. So I mean the numbers are astounding and the desperation is palpable. People are in dire straits there.
Meantime shifting gears a little bit, we heard from Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon earlier, and he's now talking about this war on the Republican establishment, particularly on Senator Bob Corker, a frequent, or recently a frequent Trump critic. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: There's a time and season for everything. And right now it's a season of war against a GOP establishment. As Bob Corker has trashed the commander in chief of our armed forces while we have young men and women in harm's way. As Senator Barrasso and Senator Fischer and Senator Heller and the other folks, Senator Hatch, and you do that, these are good folks. They may reconsider. But until that time, they're coming for you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So this is during the Voter Values Summit in D.C. And it's striking, Alice, because, gosh, he's almost looking like he's campaigning for something up there on stage. What's going on here?
[14:10:07] STEWART: Clearly there's a lot of political activity left in Steve Bannon. That group that he's speaking to, the Values Voters, that is red meat for them to talk about taking on the Republican establishment. And I think Bob Corker has certainly spoken his mind. Lately he's frustrated, but there's a lot of people, quite frankly, in the Republican Party that are frustrated with the fact that things are not getting done.
So in my view, this back and forth, getting everything out is good because we realize there's some problems. We don't have our legislative accomplishments checked off. So let's get it out there and let's get to the table and let's repeal and replace Obamacare. Let's pass a tax plan, let's work on what we need to do in Iran. So I think what Bannon is doing, he's riling up the base there at Values Voter, which is a good thing to do. But we need to keep that base engaged and energized. We also need to expand, we need to check off some of this legislative agenda.
WHITFIELD: So Basil, is Bannon still working on behalf of the president outside of the White House?
SMIKLE: I mean, he might think that he's doing that. I don't know if he actually, when push comes to shove, I don't know if that would actually be the case. In my estimation he's probably creating a substantial sort of conflict, war within the Republican Party itself. And this is where I think you'll start to see the rubber meet the road, because if you're a moderate and conservative Republican but certainly not a Trump Republican per se, if you're a Bob Corker type of Republican and you're looking at this, you're saying to yourself, well, wait a minute, what kind of losses am I looking at next year in the House and the Senate and gubernatorial races?
Democrats are starting to put boots on the ground to affect a lot of these state legislative races as well. So there's a lot of grassroots activity that's taking place on the Democratic side to prepare us this year, next year, and thereafter. On the Republican side, however, they are having a bigger ideological debate than I think we are on the left. And I think that is, that should be concerning for them, especially when of all the conversation over the last seven years about repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act it came down to the president's executive order because they weren't actually able to do it.
WHITFIELD: All right.
STEWART: Fred, if I can just real quick. I think Bannon is encouraging people to stand by their values. He went head to head with President Trump in Alabama with the Strange and Moore contest, and they were on opposite sides of the fence. And Bannon's candidate won. So I think he's encouraging people to stand by your values, stand by your convictions, and support the candidate of your choice.
WHITFIELD: And on that Alabama, he said this is not my war. This is our war. You all didn't start it. The establishment started it. But I will tell you one thing, you are all going to finish it. Let's have a partner's discussion about Alabama. Interesting. All right, Basil, Alice, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
STEWART: Thanks, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Wildfires are tearing through California's wine country, and now thousands more are being evacuated from Santa Rosa. We'll speak with the mayor after the break.
[14:17:15] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Wildfires are still raging in California. Several thousand people in Santa Rosa are being evacuated. That's according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Look at this stunning video out of Sonoma County right there. That's about an hour north of Santa Rosa. Plumes of smoke completely consuming the terrain as firefighters try to figure out their next moves. And we've just gotten this incredible photo in taken this morning, capturing the wildfires as they were approaching the Sonoma County area. More than 20 million people are still under a red flag fire alert
through the state so far. At least 36 people have died and more than 200 others still missing. CNN's Miguel Marquez joining me now with the very latest. Still in Santa Rosa, right? Talk to me about what's happening.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is a fill on effort to stop the fire. This fire will not quit. We are in the area east of Santa Rosa where those evacuations have occurred. And they are throwing everything at these fires. The wind changed direction overnight, came up a little more, started blowing the fire south, and it's forced all these new evacuations.
Let me show you what's happening here. From the air this helicopter has been working in this area just over this ridge line and now the second ridge line for hours and hours and hours today. There's also planes. The DC-10 which is this massive plane. To see this thing fly over and drop thousands of gallons of retardants on the forest here is just incredible.
Firefighters trying to stop the flames now. If they can do that they feel they can get ahead of this fire because the weather will start to improve. You can see two helicopters here. What you're looking at now is south towards the city of Sonoma where other evacuations have been called for today, mandatory evacuations, because of this same fire complex that's now threatening this side of the Sonoma valley in Sonoma County.
Just a massive, massive effort. This plume we have been watching all morning on top of this hill. It looks like that fire is just about to crest over that hill. Very, very difficult for firefighters to get control of this fire. But the winds are starting to come down. We just talked to a PIO with California Fire Service saying that through about right now should be the worst of it, and in about another five hours or so, they have that red flag warning. The high winds, the low humidity, and that high temperatures, but things should start to taper down about now, and hopefully they'll be able to get a hold of it and stop it from spreading in anymore neighborhoods. Fredricka?
[14:20:00] WHITFIELD: All right, Miguel Marquez, we'll check back with you. Thank you so much.
So Santa Rosa, the mayor Chris Coursey is joining me right now on the phone. So Mayor, can you give me an idea how many people are being ordered to evacuate. How people are heeding that warning. What's taking place?
CHRIS COURSEY, MAYOR, SANTA ROSA, CALIFORNIA (via telephone): Well, first of all, I'm not able to see the pictures that you're showing right now. I'm sure that they are alarming. But our fire chief and the Cal fire folks are letting us know that they have a control on the fire right now. They have a handle on it is the way that they put it.
The fire that you're seeing today is in wild land areas. It's threatening the city but it's not blowing through the city like we saw the other night. We had 3,000 homes burned in the space of a few hours on Sunday night into Monday morning. That's not the situation now. There's no cause for alarm, but there is cause for some vigilance and preparedness. We had to evacuate some areas last night when the wind came up. We evacuated several thousands more people in addition to the 50,000 people who were already out of their homes. So it's a difficult situation. It is not one for folks in Santa Rosa to be alarmed about right now.
WHITFIELD: Interesting, so when you say people should not be alarmed about it even though there have been evacuations overnight, you said people are asked to be vigilant, you're saying as far as you understand that people, not necessarily property but people may be out of harm's way because the way in which the fire is being contained there?
COURSEY: We have evacuated the areas that may be in harm's way. So, you know, it's a precaution and it was necessary last night when the winds were blowing strong. We have a little bit of wind that is still blowing today. But as your reporter said, it's dissipating some. And we're hoping that it will continue to do that. We're lucky right now because the wild land fires are in wild land. A couple days ago they were in our city. And that was what caused the big problems here.
WHITFIELD: When you say wild land fires you're saying it really is that literal. It is mostly forestry or portions of land that are unpopulated.
COURSEY: Correct. And there may be some structures involved. There may be even some houses involved in what's going onto that. I don't want to minimize what's happening. But I'm representing the city of Santa Rosa here, and I don't want people to be panicking about what's going on around the edges of the city because we're not looking at the same situation as we were six days ago.
WHITFIELD: OK, Mayor, that sounds like good news. Still we continue to cross our fingers and pray for the best for everyone there in Santa Rosa. I appreciate your time, Mayor Chris Coursey. Thank you so much.
Also there in Santa Rosa we're joined by a guest, Michella Flores, who also happens to have been a firefighter and paramedic. And, boy, you have been too close for comfort to close calls. You were in Las Vegas just weeks ago during the time of that shooting at the music festival massacre, and now you're back in the Santa Rosa area, and I understand your family's home is there in Santa Rosa. And is it, correct, Michella, that your family's home has been destroyed?
MICHELLA FLORES, SURVIVED VEGAS MASSACRE, RETURNS HOME TO WILDFIRE DAMAGE: Yes. It's completely destroyed. It's behind us now.
WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness. OK, so Michella, describe for me your family's home there, what it once was, what you came across. Describe for me the discovery of your family, and I'm hoping that your parents are OK.
FLORES: Everybody's OK. I found out about the fires, I was working down at the airport, Kaiser Air where I work fuels the Cal Fire helicopters and planes. I could hear their tones, and I knew there was a fire in Napa. When I finished work I came up to see them. I'm in the process, or was in the process of moving from this house to a rental. And so I came up to get my dog, to walk my dog, and looked down the ridge and saw a glow. And I looked at the wind and I told my parents that they might want to pack up something just in case. It was far enough away that it didn't -- it wasn't go to be like right this second, but they should prepare.
And I left to go walk the dog, and not five minutes later I was listening to dispatch, which is the local dispatch here. They announced our street. I called my mom and she said that the fire was at the bottom of the hill.
[14:25:04] WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness.
FLORES: So there was no other fire around us. It just caught some of the shrub, I guess, embers, I'm not sure.
WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness, so then you all clearly kicked into action right away. But how long did it take for your parents to get those things, get out of Dodge, you as well, only to find out that your house would be engulfed?
FLORES: Well, unfortunately it was coming up so fast it had already caught the house next door on fire. They had packed some things, but it was less than 10 minutes from the time I told them to the time the shrub caught on fire. They didn't have time get anything. And I didn't get anything. By the time I came up here, they had gotten the dogs. They got like two bags which had their computers in it, no cords but computers, and that's all they were able to get.
WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness.
FLORES: My cousin told me that my father was trying to fight the fire. So I ran up the hill. There was a fire truck here. I told them -- we broke down a fence, within that time frame so, again, a couple of minutes the house was fully engulfed with smoke. Checked out the house, my dad was fine. He made it down the hill. But at that point the house was still OK and the firefighters said we can't save the house next to us, but they were going to work on saving our house, which they did, and I was helping pull lines and things. We held this house until 4:00 or 5:00 Monday morning. And at that point a small amount had been hit, but the house was otherwise OK at that point.
WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness. So as a former firefighter --
FLORES: I'm not sure if --
WHITFIELD: Go ahead.
FLORES: No, I was just going to say I'm not sure when the rest of it caught. It did catch on fire later on that morning. I don't know when. The firefighters had to leave here. They were so short staffed. So I'm not sure when the rest of it burned. WHITFIELD: And you're instincts kicking in, as a former firefighter,
you're helping to hold lines. You dad clearly had the firefighting instinct too by trying to do what he could. Once you all did get in a vehicle or just get out of Dodge, at what point did it become the first time to see the house? And if you can describe for me your family home behind you what you see, what you recall from what it used to be.
FLORES: Well, at 4:00 in the morning I did come up here. I was talking to Sebastopol Fire was up here. They're the ones that were holding this house. And I came up and I talked to them. And at that point it was just the living room and an office. So I did get to see it at that point. I didn't want to go in because it was still smoking quite a bit. We came back Monday afternoon, and that's when we found out the rest of it was completely -- there was a wall standing, but the rest of it behind the wall was completely gone. And then we came back next day and the rest of it, the wall, everything else had burned down.
WHITFIELD: My goodness.
FLORES: So where we're located --
WHITFIELD: Go ahead. What you have to say is far more important than what I have to say. Go ahead.
FLORES: I was just going to say where we're located, this was not an evacuation zone. This still isn't an evacuation zone. There's only two houses in this neighborhood, so there's no people patrolling it. So we were able to freely get back in here.
WHITFIELD: My goodness. We do have a delay. That's why sometimes I accidently step on you there.
So here we're -- your family would experience this and now we look at the calendar, it was just 13 days ago that the most horrific massacre of U.S. history would take place in Las Vegas. And you were there. You're a survivor of that experience, and now you and your family are survivors of this horrific experience. How are you processing and handling all of this, these very two close brushes with death?
FLORES: Well, right now I would say I'm probably not processing it. There's tasks that need to be done unfortunately, or fortunately, I guess fortunately. The world does keep going. So there's things that need to be done. We needed to make sure that Cal Fire has their fuel and they can get up and put water out. So I've just been -- I've been going to work, and I have a training down in Oakland, which is south of here, and I've been going to that and then coming up and working at work to make sure that things keep going. So I haven't stopped since all of this has happened. And the Vegas shooting, I flew, I came home.
[14:30:15] WHITFIELD: You're a flight attendant, right?
FLORES: Yes. I'm a flight attendant. So I don't -- I have not processed this yet. I'm not looking forward to that moment. I'm just doing what needs to be done. There's still a lot of active fire here.
WHITFIELD: Yes. Is there way to anticipate how emotionally you and your family might start processing all of this?
FLORES: Well, I don't know. It's very surreal at this point. You look at the house and you just, you can't -- it doesn't register. You try to find things in the ash, and we're worried about everybody else. We're living out of an evacuation center for a little bit. There's a ton of people there, so it's hard to think about processing it because there's a lot going on still.
WHITFIELD: I know you are counting your blessings at the same time reaching out to all of your fellow neighbors there. But close calls in Las Vegas just a few days ago and now another close call at your family home there in Santa Rosa, California. Michelle Flores, we wish you and your family the best. Thank you so much.
FLORES: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back.
[14:36:05] WHITFIELD: New video of a family arriving after five years held hostage by a terror group affiliated with the Taliban. Joshua Boyle, a Canadian, along with his American wife and their three children, all of whom were born while in captivity arriving safely in Canada last night. CNN international correspondent Paula Newton joining me now. So Paula, you spoke with Josh Boyle. What is he saying now?
PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, he was on the phone, very composed, Fred, something you wouldn't imagine having been through what he'd been through, the thoughts just rushing to his head. He obviously doesn't want to speak about anything in particular in terms of trying to go through and have to relive what they had been through. He said things like camera and video tend to torment everybody in the house right now.
Having said that, he says his family is coping as well as can be expected, that they have been thrilled to see the kids and how they are actually reacting to a big home. Fred, he said to me that these are kids that have only known a hole that they've lived in for the last few years. And he's been so pleased to see how they have been really taking everything in in the last few hours.
He has a lot more to say but wants to wait of course until he feels he can say it and bring some thought to it. He knows that there are a lot of questions.
And Fred, in terms of him taking it all in, he wants to have a very normal existence for those kids, five, two, and just an infant, two months, and wants to make sure they have the kind of life that they really deserve after having gone through this extraordinary situation, the whole family, Fred, considers it a miracle that they came out relatively unscathed. It seems everybody seems to be doing OK and is in good health.
And something Fred I know you can appreciate is that his kids having seen toys for the first time aren't even as interested in the toys as they are in the flush toilets. They probably flush the toilet in the house now about 200 times.
NEWTON: It's got to be an extraordinary thing to see how your kids, what comes to mind for them as they race through their grandparents home.
WHITFIELD: Children amazingly resilient. Paula Newton, thanks so much.
President Trump trying a new tactic to undermine Obamacare. Who will it help or who will it hurt, and how will it affect his effort to repeal and replace?
[14:42:26] WHITFIELD: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is firing back at President Trump for targeting Obama's legacy while also questioning the sitting president's leadership. The Democrat leader tweeting this, "President of the United States modus operandi, failure to lead. Throws destructive bones to his base and tells Congress to fix it, Iran, health care, and Puerto Rico."
Let's discuss this with our panel. Allan Lichtman is a presidential historian and professor at American University, Stephen Moore is a CNN senior economics analyst and a former adviser to the Trump campaign, Jonathan Gruber is an economics professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who also helped craft Obamacare. Good to see all of you, gentlemen.
Jonathan, let me begin with you. Could this move by President Trump to end health care subsidies lead to what the president says would be helping millions, or would it lead to the unraveling of the ACA?
JONATHAN GRUBER, ECONOMICS PROFESSOR, MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: Neither. So it's not going to lead the unraveling of the ACA. Most of the ACA will be fine. But any objective analysis that has looked at this said that it will lead to much higher premiums, to people losing health insurance, and ironically, to the government spending more, not less. By CBO's estimates, this move by the president to end the so-called cost sharing reduction subsidies which protect low income people against high deductibles will actually increase the deficit by $200 billion over the next decade while causing a million people to lose health insurance.
His other actions essentially allow scam insurance plans to be offered to everyone in the market, setting us back to the bad days where you can buy insurance thinking it was good and find out only later that on page 73 it said, by the way, we only cover the first $100 of a hospital stay. That is not the way insurance should work. It's a complicated product. We need structure to make sure that when you buy insurance, it's real. The president's actions would undercut that.
WHITFIELD: So then Stephen, increasing the deficit, thinner coverage, why is this good?
STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMICS ANALYST: First let me address this issue about the first executive order, which was the one to allow people to buy affordable plans. Look, the way insurance should work is Americans should have choices. You should be able to buy whatever plan that you would to. And Obamacare makes that illegal essentially.
WHITFIELD: So what Jonathan's point is, OK, you're going to lower prices or you're going to offer more, but if it means fewer benefits and there are fewer government protections, then how is that a gain for people that are counting on it?
MOORE: That's a good question. And the answer is because families are going to say -- you've got millions of families who are going to save thousands of dollars on their health insurance.
[14:00:00] The problem right now, Fred, with Obamacare is people can't afford it. The irony is they call this the Affordable Care Act. I just got back from Arizona a week ago where the premiums have doubled. People can't afford Obamacare.
WHITFIELD: Except the argument is being made -- sorry to interrupt you, but just to answer what Jonathan was saying. The argument is being made that with this executive order it is now going to be worse. If people right now are paying $255 a year with the subsidy, without the subsidy, and we have a graphic, we're now looking at $3,600 a year for premiums. That's not better if you're already counting on the plan and if you're already grimacing at the $255 years a year, you really are in trouble with the $3,600 a year.
MOORE: What you're talking about now is the bail out of the insurance companies, and the problem is --
WHITFIELD: We're talking about the removal of subsidies.
MOORE: No. What Donald Trump did was he basically said we're not going to provide the funding to bail out Barack Obama's health care system. Remember, one of the promises is this plan would not increase the budget deficit. Now they're coming for $10 billion to $15 billion this year. They are going to need more money next year.
The bottom line here is that Obamacare is kind of in a financial free fall right now with healthy people opting out of system, sick people signing up for care so it's making it more expensive for everyone. I want, and I think Donald Trump agrees with it, we want everybody covered but we want two things. We want people to have maximum choice so they can buy whatever plan they want to. You may call them skimpier plans or whatever, but if people want -- this is America. You should be able to --
WHITFIELD: If you buy coverage, you want it to fix your ailment.
MOORE: You should be able to buy what you want. Let me just give you one example. A lot of people want to just buy catastrophic insurance coverage so they are covered. I'm in that camp. I just want coverage for someone in my family gets really sick or there's a terrible accident, we're covered for that. But we don't want the 40 services that are required under Obamacare.
WHITFIELD: Jonathan, I want you to respond in a second. But first, Allan, when we talk about legacies, one of the Obama legacies is this Affordable Care Act, the Iran deal. Those were the big legacies. And now it may be too early for nine months into a presidency, President Trump to be thinking about legacies, but is he already crafting his legacy by a mission to undo the legacy of a predecessor?
ALLAN LICHTMAN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Absolutely. As I point out in my book "The Case for Impeachment," Donald Trump is obsessed with his own image. He can't stand anyone to be overshadowing him, including a former president.
Also, when Barack Obama first came into office, the Republican leadership said we're going to oppose everything with Obama's name on it. The Affordable Care Act passed without a single Republican vote, the only major piece of social legislation in history to do so. Put it in bigger perspective. What he's doing with the affordable care act is of a piece of what he's doing in attacking the Iran deal, attacking the DREAMers.
And something that's really been forgotten and is most important, his withdrawing from the Paris accords on climate change and throttling back efforts on climate change. Eight years ago a group of businessmen sent a letter to then President Obama saying the science is so irrefutable that if we don't take immediate strong action on climate change the consequences are going to be catastrophic for humanity and the planet. You know who signed that letter? Now president Donald J. Trump.
What's changed? The science is stronger. The threat is more immediate, as you can see from the fires in California. The storms fed by the warm waters in the seas. The only thing that's changed is Trump's political calculation. That's tragic.
MOORE: Everything that you said, though, getting out of Iran deal, repealing Obamacare, getting America of what I think is the most un- American treaties ever which was the Paris climate accord, all of those things, it's not as if Donald Trump just invented these things. He told the American people in the debates and throughout his presidential campaign, this is what I'm going to do. And you know what, Allan, he was elected because that what the people want.
LICHTMAN: And that doesn't make it any less catastrophic for the people of this country.
MOORE: You can argue whether it's right or wrong. But he campaigned on these things, and it was Barack Obama --
LICHTMAN: That doesn't make them right. That doesn't make them right, and he didn't win the popular vote. Three million votes short.
MOORE: Come on, Allan.
LICHTMAN: Three million votes short. He does not have a mandate.
MOORE: That's not the way you win elections in America. Come on, Allan. You're supposed to be a presidential historian. You know how we elect presidents.
WHITFIELD: This really does exemplify how visceral this debate and this argument because it's a matter of obsession versus policy, or is this, Jonathan, is this a president's best effort to be a leader who is thinking about the welfare of Americans as he executes, whether it's executive orders or whether it's tossing it back to Congress to say start all over?
[14:50:04] GRUBER: Look, I just don't see how you can argue that Donald Trump has the welfare of Americans in mind when he signs orders and refuses payments that both cost the government money and make people worse off. This is literally a lose-lose decision.
I think the key thing is, when Stephen makes arguments, and you hear this all the time, more competition, more choices. What you have to remember, this isn't like cars. In health insurance, if I get a skimpier plan, that means the sick guy has got to pay more for his more generous plan. So what Stephen is saying, if he would like catastrophic coverage, and that's great for him. But by him having that, he's meaning that someone else who is mentally ill, who is pregnant, who has cancer has to pay more for their coverage. He's missing that part.
And he likes to pretend it's just a win to just let people have choices. But in health insurance choices are linked in a critical way they are not in other markets. When the healthy pull out, the sick pay more. Donald Trump cannot repeal those laws in mathematics. And therefore Donald Trump is doing actions that just make the country worse. And it's hard to understand why he's doing it except just anger over not liking President Obama.
WHITFIELD: Stephen, you want to respond to that, quickly?
MOORE: Look, this is a fundamental disagreement I think between conservatives and liberals. We believe in choice and competition.
GRUBER: But Stephen --
WHITFIELD: When you talk about the welfare of Americans.
GRUBER: That's the same old talking point.
WHITFIELD: Let's talk about the welfare of Americans, because that really -- the welfare of Americans is the consequence of whatever these actions are. So from that perspective, Stephen, answer that question.
MOORE: I think what you guys are driving at is what do you do about people with preexisting conditions? And look, I think the Republicans have messed this up. I think what they should do is set up a fund for people with preexisting conditions so people who have long standing care needs, I have a niece in that situation, they are taken care of. But then you want a functional insurance market. And look, I just fundamentally disagree. If you want to load up on your health care and help coverage for everything, I should be able to get catastrophic coverage.
WHITFIELD: Allan, last word on that, and then we'll wrap it up.
LICHTMAN: It really shocks me about what Stephen has to say. It's OK to put the planet in jeopardy, to put humanity in jeopardy as Donald Trump --
MOORE: That's your --
LICHTMAN: Let me finish. I didn't interrupt you. I didn't interrupt you. I didn't interrupt you. It's OK to put the planet in jeopardy.
MOORE: That's your opinion.
LICHTMAN: It's Donald Trump's opinion eight years ago when things were better, the science he says is irrefutable. Let me finish, Stephen. You're not right because you shout. You're wrong because you shout. Let me finish.
WHITFIELD: Go Allan, and then we will have to end it there.
LICHTMAN: Yes. Thank you. I am so shocked that Stephen is willing to say we're willing to put our planet in jeopardy. Anyone who has seen what happened with Irma and Maria and the wildfires in California knows that Donald Trump was right eight years ago. He's wrong now. Just because he said it doesn't mean it's OK to put every one of us, especially all of our children in jeopardy from catastrophic storms, out of control wildfires, droughts, hundreds of billions of dollars of bills from this. I'm shocked.
MOORE: Yes, because we never had droughts and wildfires and hurricanes like this.
WHITFIELD: We'll it there for now. We'll have you all back, because clearly we still have to resolve a lot. Stephen Moore, Jonathan Gruber, Allan Lichtman, thanks to all of you, I really appreciate it. And we'll be right back.
[14:57:53] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences which hosts the Oscars is holding an emergency board meeting to determine whether Harvey Weinstein should be stripped of his membership. The academy board of governor which includes big names says it will, quote, "discuss the allegations against Weinstein and any actions warranted by the academy." This as employees of the Weinstein company are talking about resigning, comparing the company to the Titanic. It's sinking.
Let me bring in CNN senior media correspondent. Even with the name change of the company, it would still be this trouble potentially? BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Indeed. This company
is crumbling before our eyes. Friday the company denied it is looking to sell itself or shut down. The people that are now running the company now that Harvey Weinstein has been fired, including his brother Bob, are saying that somehow they will find a way to release their movies they are making and continue making the TV shows they are doing.
But yesterday Amazon pulled out of two possible projects with the Weinstein Company. Others are also looking to withdraw. This all comes, Fred, as the board is meeting right now in Hollywood, the board of governor, this powerful body that creates the Oscars every year. As you mentioned, Steven Spielberg, Laura Dern, Whoopi Goldberg, There's 54 members in total that are meeting right now trying to decide what to do, how to censure Weinstein. It is likely they will expel him from the academy in the coming hours. So I expect an announcement from the board later today.
WHITFIELD: Wouldn't that almost seem like a given. There must be something else that they are meeting about beyond just saying he would lose his membership.
STELTER: There's been talk about maybe taking away his Oscar. He won an Oscar in the late 1990s for "Shakespeare in Love." That would be a more extreme step than expelling him. But even just removing him from the academy, that is unprecedented. It's never happened before in Academy history for any behavior unrelated to the academy itself. So this would be a big statement by Hollywood that he is persona non grata the in business.
WHITFIELD: All right, Brian Stelter, thanks so much for that.
WHITFIELD: Thanks so much for being with me today this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. See you again tomorrow. Our coverage continues now with Ana Cabrera.