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Trump Promises Tax Plan Will Help Middle-Class; Major Military Operations Ending In Raqqa; Family Remembers Fallen Green Beret Dustin Wright. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired October 17, 2017 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV), MEMBER, SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE: But, Chris, I'm as outraged as you. We're all outraged. How can this happen?

How does -- my entire staff -- you think I haven't berated them, and they gave me every step of the way?

When it first came out there was some contention and this bill, it matured, if you will. They kept working it. They had these people -- and Mr. Barber, being one of the top people, was able to write that bill and massage it in a way that really drew no concern whatsoever --

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Where does he --

MANCHIN: -- to work -- yes, head of the -- head of Cardinal Health. Head of Cardinal Health.

CUOMO: All right. Senator --

MANCHIN: Unbelievable.

CUOMO: Look, this --

MANCHIN: Unbelievable.

CUOMO: -- issue matters. We're not going to leave it.

We have a big documentary on this on HLN Friday night about opioids. We target Manchester, New Hampshire. You know that that's a state that unfortunately has a close connection to West Virginia now in terms of --


CUOMO: -- being ground zero with this problem.

Thank you for joining us. Thank you for the candor.

MANCHIN: Well, Chris, here's the thing. We've got to repeal the bill. We've got to repeal that portion of the bill that degutted, if you will, the DEA and DOJ.

CUOMO: Good luck.

MANCHIN: We're going to do that. And also, we have to have someone who's passionate and Congressman Marino is not that person.

CUOMO: Good luck because somehow --

MANCHIN: Thank you.

CUOMO: -- his name got to the president and he's the guy right now until it changes.


CUOMO: Be well, Senator and let us know what happens.

MANCHIN: Thanks, Chris. Appreciate it.

CUOMO: Alisyn --

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Chris, let's talk tax cuts. President Trump promises that the middle-class will benefit the most from his tax plan. Is that true? We have a debate you don't want to miss, next.


[07:35:15] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I really believe that we have a very good chance, and I think Mitch feels the same way --


TRUMP: -- of getting the tax -- of getting the taxes done hopefully, fairly long before the end of the year.


CAMEROTA: All right. President Trump says tax reform could make it through Congress by the end of the year. The president insists the middle-class will be the big winner but is that true?

Let's discuss it with CNN senior economics analyst Stephen Moore. He was the senior economic adviser of the Trump campaign. And, Anthony Chan, managing director and chief economist of Chase.

Great to have both of you here. I know you don't see this necessarily the same way, so this will be an interesting conversation.

Anthony, let me start with you. Are the middle-class the biggest beneficiary here for what you've heard of this tax plan?

ANTHONY CHAN, MANAGING DIRECTOR AND CHIEF ECONOMIST, CHASE: They clearly are not. In fact, some of the nonpartisan estimates suggest that the top one percent of the population will reap 50 percent of the benefits of the tax cuts so that clearly shows you that it's not just a middle-income tax cut.

Another point that I would make is that when you look at the estate tax, the minimum before you actually have to pay taxes is $5.5 million. Obviously, there are not too many middle-income individuals with $5.5 million estates.

The president said he wouldn't benefit from this but yet, if you believe the estimates that he's worth $3 billion and no estate tax, he would save more than $1 billion over his lifetime. I would say that most middle-income individuals will not save over $1 billion in taxes over their lifetime.

CAMEROTA: You're going out on a limb with that. Most do not have a billion to save. I think you're right, Anthony.

So, Stephen, how does this wash, the fact that it's actually the top one percent getting the biggest bang?


We think -- you know, I helped put this plan together for Donald Trump during the campaign. We worked very diligently to find a way to raise the wages and increase the number of jobs for middle-class people.

We think that our business tax system, Alisyn -- and actually, cutting the business tax rates is the heart and soul of the plan. We -- as you know, I mean, we're up here at a 40 percent tax rate on our businesses and the rest of the world is at 20 percent or less so we -- our businesses, when they compete in global markets, are starting with a 20-percentage point disadvantage. That's just un-American.

We -- why don't we go from having one of the worst tax systems in the world to one of the best, in terms of attracting businesses, jobs back to the United States, you know?

I had dinner, Alisyn, the other night with Fred Smith, the CEO of FedEx, a company that --


MOORE: -- employs 100,000 Americans.

And he just basically said look, if you get that tax rate down --


MOORE: -- as Donald Trump is talking about and you also do the repatriation -- remember, Alisyn, we want to allow companies to bring money --


MOORE: -- trillions of dollars that's overseas back -- invest it in the United States.


MOORE: He said look, we're going to build new airplanes, we're going to have more vehicles --


MOORE: -- we're going to hire more workers.

And, you know, Tim Cook, of Apple, has said the same thing, so --

CAMEROTA: Are they going to, Steve? I mean, this is -- this is a little bit of an aside. I'm sorry to interrupt you but aren't they going to also automate things more?

MOORE: Yes, sure.

CAMEROTA: I mean, is he actually giving a number of how many workers --

MOORE: Of course.

CAMEROTA: -- he's going to hire? How many?

MOORE: Well, he said thousands and that's one company.

I mean, Apple's CEO Tim Cook has said that they're going to bring $150 billion -- not $150 million, $150 billion back for the United States. Some of that will go to dividends to shareholders --


MOORE: -- and pension funds. Some of that money will be used to expand --

Look, there's no question about we want --


MOORE: -- businesses in the United States to invest more, Alisyn. Automation and capital investment --


MOORE: -- that's what leads to higher wages over time. And we estimate, by the way, about a seven or eight percent increase in real wages from now.

CAMEROTA: Well, yes. I mean, that's just different than more jobs. I mean, but look, we're getting -- we're getting off on a tangent.

But what do you think, Anthony, about everything that Stephen --

MOORE: Alisyn, let me just say one quick thing about this.

CAMEROTA: Yes, very quickly.

MOORE: Right -- Alisyn, one just quick thing.

Right now, the problem with the U.S. economy isn't so much that we're not creating enough jobs -- we are. I mean, we're -- in fact, a lot of places in the country we actually have, you know, more jobs than we have people that can fill them.

The biggest problem I believe, and I think Donald Trump agrees, is that for 15 years the average middle-class worker has not seen a pay raise.

CAMEROTA: Yes, yes, yes. Go ahead, Anthony.

CHAN: Well, when you look at the question I think we're not in general disagreement. I think that the tax cut will, in fact, create jobs. But the question is are there bodies out there?

We have an unemployment rate of 4.2 percent. At this point, the economy is close to full employment so that's not as easy.

But when you look at -- out there -- of this tax cut and you ask yourself is it going to be good for America, of course, it is. But who bears the corporate tax burden?

In fact, Stephen doesn't like the tax policy incentive but here you have nonpartisan individuals -- tax specialists from the Reagan administration, from the Bush administration --

CAMEROTA: Yes, and what do they say?

CHAN: -- from the Clinton administration. And they're saying that only 20 percent of the corporate tax burden is borne by workers, not by -- not the big numbers that --

CAMEROTA: Yes, but another thing that the Tax Policy Center is saying, and I want to get to this, is that this -- whatever the president's tax plan is would increase the deficit by $2.5 trillion -- with a "T" -- over 10 years.

[07:40:08] How is that going to wash with Republicans? I mean, certainly, the senator, Bob Corker --

CHAN: So --

CAMEROTA: -- has been out front saying that he's not going to vote for something like that.

CHAN: Well, that is a big number and I believe that number because close to $2.5 trillion by that nonpartisan estimate. The Senate believes it's $1.5 trillion. The House doesn't even want the deficit to go up. So it's going to be a challenge to get it through.

CAMEROTA: How does that work, Stephen?

MOORE: So, first of all, if you'd asked me about a week or two ago whether the Republicans were going to get this done this year, Alisyn, I probably would have said probably not because they just didn't have their act together.

Things have changed a lot just in the last 48 hours. It looks like the Republicans do have the 50 votes.

Remember when we had the health care debate Republicans couldn't get to 50 in the Senate. It looks like they're there. I think they're on their way to get this done.

The Tax Policy Center -- I mean, let's be very clear about this. This is a very liberal, left-wing group. "The Wall Street Journal" just did a story and the numbers --

CAMEROTA: I mean, it's nonpartisan. I mean, look, you just heard -- hold on a second.

MOORE: No, no, no, no.

CAMEROTA: They call themselves nonpartisan.

MOORE: Wait a minute.

CAMEROTA: Hold on, Stephen.

MOORE: Do you -- Alisyn, do you consider --

CAMEROTA: And you just heard what Anthony said that there are Republicans on there and Democrats.

MOORE: Do you -- hold on. Do you consider The Heritage --

CAMEROTA: No, no, no, no, no. The Tax Policy Center is the most left-wing group.

By the way, on this issue of who benefits from cutting the corporate tax, the Congressional Budget Office, Alisyn, I think you would agree, they've actually been pretty harsh on Republican policies over the last year or so.


MOORE: It's the official referee.

The Congressional Budget Office just put out a report saying 65 percent of the benefits of cutting the corporate tax go to workers.


MOORE: Workers benefit when corporate taxes come down because there's no jobs here.

CAMEROTA: Yes, hold on. Let me give Anthony the last word.

CHAN: Well, Stephen, we can always cherry-pick studies. If you go back to the granddaddy of the corporate tax literature, Harberger, which we studied in graduate school when I was getting my PhD in economics, he said that basically all --


CHAN: -- most of the taxes borne by investors and not, in fact, by the workers. So the numbers are different.

MOORE: Yes, we've learned that that's not true.

CHAN: Yes. Well, we can cherry -- you can cherry-pick a study to show your argument.


CHAN: I like to focus on the --

MOORE: Sure.

CHAN: -- nonpartisan estimates, and the nonpartisan estimates do not show that.

And, by the way --

MOORE: And -- no, no, no, no. But, the Tax Policy Center isn't nonpartisan. It's a left-wing group --

CHAN: OK. Stephen --

MOORE: -- of references to -- to remunerates to. Would you -- would you say The Heritage Foundation is nonpartisan? We are a nonpartisan --

CHAN: Let's go to the evidence.

MOORE: -- but we have a conservative back.

CHAN: Stephen --


MOORE: The Brookings Institute has a very --

CHAN: Let's go to the evidence.

CAMEROTA: OK, Anthony, last word. Let him respond.

CHAN: Let's go to the evidence.


CHAN: During the Reagan tax cuts --

MOORE: OK. Well, then you're --

CHAN: -- the question --

MOORE: The Tax Foundation --

CHAN: No, I'm going to cite a study.

CAMEROTA: Hold on a second.

CHAN: I'm going to give you the hard facts.

During the Reagan administration --


CHAN: -- real GDP average on a compound average growth rate, 3.58 percent.

MOORE: Was that about the boon during the Reagan years?

CHAN: During the Clinton administration where they raised corporate taxes and personal taxes --

MOORE: Yes, we had the big boon during the Reagan years after the tax cuts.


CHAN: -- economic growth was 3.8 percent. I am not trying to give you a study or anything. These are the hard facts that actual growth was faster during --

MOORE: Yes, we had the --

CHAN: -- the Clinton administration --

MOORE: Right.

CHAN: -- during the Reagan administration --

CAMEROTA: Right, after they raised taxes, right.

CHAN: And by the way --


CHAN: -- the tax cut during the Reagan administration was huge. Some of the biggest boon in American history after the Reagan tax cuts.

MOORE: Well, the biggest boon in American history after the Reagan tax cuts.


MOORE: It's that simple.

CAMEROTA: OK. Gentlemen --

CHAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: -- we have to leave it there. I feel as though we haven't resolved the issue --


CAMEROTA: -- but you both have presented your cases. MOORE: Everybody's going to benefit.

CAMEROTA: Well, that would be interesting. Thank you.

CHAN: I don't disagree with that. Everybody's going to benefit but some benefit more.

CAMEROTA: All right, there you go. On that note --

MOORE: Let's do it, then.

CAMEROTA: -- of agreement, Stephen, Anthony, thank you.

MOORE: Thanks, Alisyn. Have a great day.

CAMEROTA: You, too.

CUOMO: All right. On the military front, U.S.-backed forces are driving ISIS out of Raqqa. Fighting in that Syrian city is nearing its end, we're told. We have breaking details about the battle to liberate that ISIS stronghold, next.


[07:47:33] CUOMO: There is breaking news out of Syria. Major military operations are wrapping up in Raqqa. ISIS fighters are about to be completely driven out of what was their stronghold.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is live in Moscow with breaking details. What do you know, my friend?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Chris, this really is the end of the last chapter for ISIS in terms of them being a territorial force.

Now, Raqqa, as you say, is the self-declared capital. There's been bitter fighting there over the past months. A lot of U.S. airstrikes and artillery pounding ISIS out of areas. Many civilians used as human shields caught and possibly killed in the crossfire there.

But as you can see here, some exclusive drone images we have, in fact, showing the central roundabout which they used to behead people on, now with U.S.-supplied Humvees and Kurdish forces in them driving around it.

And also, too, possibly in the last few hours the focus of the fight on the stadium where ISIS used to plot attacks on the west end, now very much it seems slowly falling into the hands of those U.S-backed Kurdish forces. Major operations over, still some ISIS cells possibly hiding in and around the vast ruins that has now become Raqqa because of the intensity of that fight.

But about three questions really remaining.

How many foreign fighters have escaped? That's a real fear in the west. Are they going to go home and plot terror attacks there? Secondly, how many civilians were killed in this brutal and bloody fight?

And then finally, to where is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, reported killed so many times, emerging in a recent recording?

Where is he now? Does he move on? Does he quote "escape" from this particular violence or does he go on to inspire attacks elsewhere?

Back to you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Nick Paton Walsh, thank you very much for the reporting. That video -- the video of the families fleeing and those vast ruins, as you call them, is just incredible. Thank you very much.

Up next, we have the brother of one of the Green Berets who was killed in Niger. He's going to tell us about his 29-year-old brother, Dustin Wright.


[07:53:35] CUOMO: The family of Army Staff Sergeant and Green Beret Dustin Wright laid the 29-year-old to rest in Georgia this weekend. Wright is one of four U.S. service members who were killed in Niger two weeks ago.

Joining us now to remember this fallen hero is Dustin Wright's brother, Will Wright.

Will, I'm very sorry for your loss. I'm sorry to meet you under these circumstances but we wanted to make sure that your brother is remembered for the right reasons. So thank you for joining us and please tell us about how your brother lived his life.

WILL WRIGHT, BROTHER OF DUSTIN WRIGHT, GREEN BERET KILLED IN NIGER: He lived it wide open, you know. He knew what he wanted in life and he went for it and he's an inspiration to myself and many other people. So, he lived it to the max.

CUOMO: What did he tell you about why during such troubled times, such dangerous times, he decided to go into the military service and to become a Green Beret?

WRIGHT: I think anybody's that's joined the military in the last 16 years probably has a similar answer and it's something you have to be called to do. Something I know my brother was born to do.

I knew him very well -- I like to say better than anyone on the planet -- and many conversations leading up to it and I knew there was no other path for him. This is what he was here to do.

[07:55:02] CUOMO: It's just who he was?

WRIGHT: That's just who he was.

CUOMO: This is the worst kind of news for a military family to get. How did you find out what happened to your brother?

WRIGHT: Through the regular protocol. Two military officers showed up the day of his death and notified my father. And then, came to my house across town and notified myself, and continued that process to notify the next of kin.

CUOMO: How are your parents doing?

WRIGHT: It's been a -- it's been a long process and it's been trying, but we've had a lot of support from our community, from our state, our country, my brother's brothers in arms, and we've kind of -- we've pulled together and I think my family is -- my mother and father, they're handling it as best as you can expect.

CUOMO: Did you know that he was over there? Were you privy to any of the knowledge of what your brother was doing?

WRIGHT: Yes, we're very close. I mean, I knew -- I know the job he does. I've done similar jobs. I knew where he was at and, you know, aware of the general situation as much as I needed to be aware and, you know, was not in the dark at all.

CUOMO: Part of this grieving process for families, we always hear, is understanding the circumstances of what happened. What were you told and do you still have questions about what happened that led to this ambush and the death of your brother and the other service members?

WRIGHT: We've been given enough information right now to begin the grieving process to seek closure. And in the fog of war, there's always details that elude you. There's always pieces of the puzzles that don't quite fit or you're never going to be satisfied because in the end, you've lost someone you love.

As time passes we'll get more information and the picture will become more clear. But, you know, we're aware of how he fought, how he served, and how he lived his last moments, and that's really -- that's what matters.

CUOMO: The president said he's going to reach out to the families. We're told that your family is expecting a call today. Is that true?

WRIGHT: Yes, sir, that's correct.

CUOMO: Do you know when? Like, is there any protocol involved?

WRIGHT: Well, you know, this is something -- I'm not familiar with the protocol and we've been given a general time frame and today is when we should be expecting it, so we look forward to that call.

CUOMO: What will it mean to your parents to get a call from the President of the United States?

WRIGHT: I think any time you talk to the person in that position it's a great honor, even under certain circumstances. It's a hard call to receive but, you know, to receive a call from the President of the United States, the leader of the free world, is a great honor and I think it's a great sentiment of respect.

CUOMO: What do you make of this sense of urgency and the criticism about not hearing more in two weeks, and the request for answers? What does that mean to you as a family member of one of the fallen?

WRIGHT: Honestly, I've said the same thing several times now. I'm glad that it's taken a little bit of time because my family has been extremely overwhelmed. There's been so much going on that if the president had called any earlier we would not have been able to give it the gravity and the seriousness that it deserved because we were busy taking care of my brother and ensuring that he was laid to rest.

And now that that's been taken care of it would be -- you know, it would be better now, honestly, to have that moment to share a conversation with the president and not be caught in the middle of the whirlwind of the last week and a half, two weeks.

CUOMO: Well, look, I know you guys were as close as brothers can be. I think you were, what, just about a year apart. And whatever gives your family --

WRIGHT: Yes, sir.

CUOMO: -- solace and comfort during this time, that's as good as we can expect in a situation like this.

The best to you. Thank you for telling us about your brother and the best to your family, Will.

WRIGHT: Thank you. And if I could, quickly, I'd just like to say to the families of the fallen that served with my brother, if you know those families reach out to them, love them, support them.

We were very blessed. People moved heaven and earth to make sure my brother was home and we want the same for those families.

If anyone near them can just reach out to them, show them love, and thank them for their service and thank them for their sacrifice and for loving my brother and fighting with him.

CUOMO: Those are beautiful words and I'm sure that they will matter to those families and hopefully, everyone listening to this program right now.

Again, Will, the best to you.