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House GOP Committee Puts Final Touches on Tax Bill; Puerto Ricans Relocate to Rebuild Lives After Hurricane; Senator Bob Menendez Convinced He Will be Exonerated; The Life of America's First Celebrity Chef/ Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired November 9, 2017 - 10:30   ET



[10:33:26] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Quote, "The most excited group out there are big CEOs." That is what the White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn just said this morning about the Republican tax plan.

Is this how Republicans want to sell their tax plan?

Joining us now with the facts is the co-founder of the Tax Policy Center, Len Berman.

It is nice to have you here, sir. No spin, no politics for the next however many minutes it takes us to get through this. The White House said unequivocally last night we're not going to sign a tax bill where taxes are going to go up on the middle class.

Is that what your analysis shows from what we have so far?

LEN BERMAN, CO-FOUNDER, TAX POLICY CENTER: On average taxes don't go up for middle class people but they do go up for some groups of middle class taxpayers, particularly families with children and actually in 2027, after a bunch of temporary provisions phase out, there are groups of people who end up paying higher taxes.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, Len Berman, first of all no relations, but I will call you Uncle Len. Your report finds that while taxes go down on average for all brackets by 2027, 25 percent of taxpayers could see their taxes increase.

Do you have a breakdown of who that 25 percent is?

L. BERMAN: People who are benefiting from state and local income tax deductions in high tax states, people who have big houses with property taxes above the $10,000 threshold that would apply under the new law. There are a bunch of tax credits that are eliminated like some education credits, the $2,000 credit to higher lifetime learning credit to go back to school.

[10:35:05] Big thing for lower income people is -- and middle income people, too, is that they lose personal exemptions and there's a tax credit that's intended to offset that, but it expires after five or six years so that by the end of the 10-year period it's not there. The other thing is that the personal exemptions that you get to take

on your income tax return are adjusted for inflation every year and those adjustments don't apply to the new credit that they replace the exemptions with. And finally, they're slowing down inflation adjustments. There are good economic reasons for doing it but it means that --

HARLOW: Right.

L. BERMAN: -- every year people will be in slightly higher average tax brackets.

HARLOW: The White House is selling this, as you know, Len, as a middle class tax break. If you were selling this bill in the most genuine way possible, would you sell this as a middle class tax break or would you sell this as a big rate for corporate America?

L. BERMAN: It is a big break for corporations and for businesses. Middle income people don't get much from this. And --

J. BERMAN: All right, Len, hang on one second. I've got to cut you off quickly because we want to go to the Capitol right now. This is Congressman Steve Scalise talking about the five officers who helped save his life and so many others at that shooting at the baseball practice last June.

REP. STEVE SCALISE (R), MAJORITY WHIP: Some kind of tragedy. We've seen tragedies before. You look at what happened in Sutherland Springs. Our prayers still go out to those families of 26 dead. You look at the shooting in Las Vegas where so many lives were lost and so many are still fighting for their lives.

That day on June 14th could have turned out the exact same way. We all know what the outcome would have been if not for the heroism and bravery of the men and women on this stage. Crystal and David, they're like family to Jennifer and I. As part of our security detail, they go with us not just here at the Capitol, but when we go back home, when we're traveling around, and just doing the things you've got to do in this job.

They're there every step of the way. And they always know that there's going to be a time, just like the rest of our security detail, if they have to respond.

That day nobody saw it coming. We're practicing on a baseball field. And when the shots went out, it wasn't long before they jumped in and just did some things that nobody can describe when you look at the fire power that was coming at them, heavily outgunned, and yet they went towards the danger. Nicole and Alexander and Kevin, they came running towards the danger, too.

And these five brave men and women prevented what would have been mass execution. A lot of members of Congress that are here today wouldn't be here today, I wouldn't be here today, without the heroism and their bravery. I do want to mention, I know Tiffany, Crystal's wife is here.

Tiffany, thank you. I know you're providing great care to Crystal and it's good to see Crystal without her boot on now so she's getting closer. She keeps challenging me. She actually inspired me to get these crutches and then she went down to one crutch and now she's down to no crutches and no boot. I am so glad to see you getting so much better and one day you're going to be back to work.

And David, tiger blood. We've always had this unique bond and he knows what that means and it embodies everything that they represent. You know, to go towards the danger.

I do want to mention that David's mom came here from Brazil. Thank you so much for coming.


SCALISE: I know every mom is proud of her children, but just know your son, your son saved the lives of over a dozen members of Congress and the staff that were out on that ball field the day. If he would not have went towards the danger, confronted the shooter, the outcome would have been incredibly different. It would have been a horrible tragedy, worse than anything we can imagine, but it wasn't.

It wasn't because of the heroism of your son and I know you're proud of him on a regular basis, but know he is a hero to all of us and thank you for coming here from Brazil. It really is a treat to see you.


SCALISE: So I just -- I just want to thank everybody for coming out and participating in this.

[10:40:02] I truly want to thank the United States Capitol Police. I know you have training and everybody trains for a tragedy. But clearly the training that you put your officers through give them the skills that they needed that day to save the lives of so many others and so I truly appreciate all of our Capitol Police, all my security -- can I ask all of my security detail to stand up? I know we've got some over there, some of our other -- they don't like the limelight, but they all protect our families. They protect all of us.


SCALISE: And we thank you. So before I start tearing up, I really just -- I'm here today because of the heroism of these brave men and women. Thank you so much for your sacrifice, for putting your lives on the line and it's great to see you all back here.

We're all getting better and again this could have been a tragedy like so many others and it wasn't because of their heroism. So thank you for paying the tribute, this highest honor, the Medal of Honor for these brave men and women. Thank you all for being here.

(APPLAUSE) J. BERMAN: A wonderful moment to recognize heroes. You can see the leadership of Congress there thanking the five law enforcement officers, including Capitol Police and some Alexandria, Virginia, police who helped save the lives of so many of those members when they opened fire at the baseball practice last June.

HARLOW: So good to see Steve Scalise doing so well as he recovers.

J. BERMAN: He said, I would not be here if not for their bravery.


J. BERMAN: And he's right. So our thank you to those five fine officers. We'll be right back.


[10:46:11] J. BERMAN: All right. Two months after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico 60 percent of the island still without power.

HARLOW: Unreal.

J. BERMAN: Sixty percent. Officials say it could be months before all the power is restored and now we're learning that FEMA is going to begin transporting hurricane survivors from the island to the mainland United States.

This is the first time they've ever done anything like that.

HARLOW: Our Rosa Flores hears the story of a woman who has already made the journey.


YARA RAMOS, LEFT PUERTO RICO FOR ORLANDO: Have a nice day in school.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Her children would never be able to tell, but Yara Ramos is living some of her darkest days.

RAMOS: That's like the hardest part, being away from my family.

FLORES: Life in Puerto Rico became so unbearable after Hurricane Maria she felt no other choice but to flee with her four children, ages 1 to 14. Moving in with her brother who lives in the Orlando area. The decision meant leaving her partner behind.

Yara calls her big brother Jose who has two kids of his own her guardian angel. He wakes up early every morning to play the role of chauffeur for a sister trying to restart life. She took the first job she was offered, an entry-level position at a middle school, despite having 13 years of teaching experience, a master's degree and a doctorate in the works. On her current salary she says, she won't be able to afford her own apartment.

RAMOS: We need to get my own place. I really need to have my kids be in the most normal scenario as possible. FLORES: Still she could be considered one of the luckier ones. The

state is in the process of verifying her teaching credentials and she is not held back by a language barrier.

JUANITA SUAREZ, REGISTERED NURSE IN PUERTO RICO: And I'm going to show you the sound and you're going to connect it.

FLORES: That's not the case for Juanita Suarez. Though a registered nurse with 23 years of experience and a master's degree she has to learn basic English before returning to work as an RN.

SUAREZ: I know my work, but, you know, the language barrier for me.

FLORES: Her moms says they left Puerto Rico out of fear.

SUAREZ: Dying of hunger, which is very sad. We're Americans. Americans never die of hunger.

FLORES: Here in central Florida their worst fear is not finding affordable housing. Ministers like Jeanette Salguero from Calvario City Church are helping fill the gap. Her ministry is providing Juanita's family and three others with temporary housing.

(On camera): How big is the need that you're seeing here?

JEANETTE SALGUERO, MINISTER, CALVARIO CITY CHURCH: The need is astronomical. My concern is that the homelessness percentage here in Florida would increase.

FLORES (voice-over): Hunger, another concern. That's where the church pantry comes in. It's open every Wednesday. But even with these setbacks Juanita and her family plan to stay.

(On camera): You don't want to return?


FLORES (voice-over): As for Yara --

RAMOS: Every day I work so that we can be together again.

FLORES: She just wants to reunite her family by Christmas.

Rosa Flores, CNN, Orlando.


J. BERMAN: Our thanks to Rosa. For that story and our good luck to that family.

HARLOW: All right. This morning Democratic Senator Bob Menendez says he's confident he will be cleared in his corruption and bribery trial.

J. BERMAN: The senator spoke to reporters outside the federal courthouse in New Jersey as the jury started its fourth day of deliberations. Our Laura Jarrett outside the courthouse there.

What's going on, Laura?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER Hey, good morning, John. Well, Senator Menendez seemed confident and upbeat walking into court this morning, telling reporters outside the courthouse that he's looking forward to the jury reaching a just verdict, and he's happy they're taking their time. Take a listen.


[10:50:05] SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: Listen, the jury has family, children, jobs. I get, after nine weeks, 60 witnesses, hundreds of pages, that they're doing their job and they also have challenges at home. So, you know, I'm happy to wait for the jury to come to a just verdict.


JARRETT: Now no questions from the jury today. I was just in the courthouse as the judge instructed them to keep on with their deliberations. They walked in. They didn't seem in any real urgent rush to finish this. But the wildcard here is one of timing because there's no court tomorrow for Veterans Day and one of the jurors is actually scheduled to go on vacation.

So if they do not reach a verdict this afternoon then one of the five alternates will take her place and technically they're supposed to start deliberations all over again on Monday -- John, Poppy.

J. BERMAN: So reason for urgencies you might think, but you never know. You just never know for the jury.

HARLOW: I don't know. Laura Jarrett --

JARRETT: You never know.

HARLOW: One day you will not be outside that courthouse. That we know. It's been almost 10 weeks.

J. BERMAN: All right. Where will they find $200 billion? What happens to the middle class? Can the House and the Senate agree on what should be in the tax cut proposals? Just some of the questions we could get some answers to in the next few minutes on Capitol Hill. Stay with us.


[10:55:55] HARLOW: Jeremiah Tower, some of you may know the name, some of you may not. He is considered America's first celebrity chef.

J. BERMAN: His name is sort of left out of food history until now.

CNN's Brooke Baldwin takes a look inside Anthony Bourdain's film "Jeremiah Tower." (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARIO BATALI, CELEBRITY CHEF: Jeremiah was probably one of the first practitioners of proud American cooking in the late 20th century.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN'S "PARTS UNKNOWN": He was the first celebrity chef in America.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: The year was 1972. The place, Chez Panisse, a tiny restaurant in Berkeley, California. A young, flamboyant Harvard graduate by the name of Jeremiah Tower walked in looking for a job as a chef.

(On camera): What was it about Jeremiah Tower's cooking back in the '70s that made him, made his dishes so totally stand out?

BOURDAIN: Jeremiah is one of the very first to start proudly attributing ingredients to regions of America. You know, these are proud American menus, written in English, sourcing the ingredients and attributing them to American producers served with American wines.

BALDWIN (voice-over): Chez Panisse became a critically acclaimed restaurant in America in just a short time. Tower left and went on to create what many call his masterpiece. Stars in San Francisco.

BATALI: I would say that Stars was perhaps the single most influential restaurant of my entire life.

BALDWIN: Stars broke the mold on what a restaurant could be. Tower described it as elegant simplicity.

BOURDAIN: He also changed the very way that most dining rooms look nowadays with an open kitchen, with a sort of more democratic or chaotic mix of high and low villains and celebrities.

BALDWIN: Jeremiah not only played the role of chef but ringmaster as well. Usually with a glass of champagne in hand.

BATALI: Jeremiah was a rock star in that people would bow to him when he came in. Jeremiah came on the scene and everyone was aware that Jeremiah was like the Mick Jagger of the restaurant scene.

BALDWIN: Those who know him say Tower is the complete package, blending personality and passion for food unlike any chef in America before him.

BATALI: Celebrity chef doesn't mean anything unless you change something. Jeremiah changed the way we looked at food.

BALDWIN: His run at Stars ended rather abruptly when Tower vanished from the public eye for close to 15 years, moving to Mexico, until a tweet from "The New York Times." Tower's time at New York's fabled institution was short lived after five months, he left.

BATALI: His legacy is that, that of perhaps the single most influential American born chef of our time. Of all time. (END VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: Be sure to watch "JEREMIAH TOWER," Anthony Bourdain's film. It is on CNN only, Sunday, 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Right here.

J. BERMAN: Want to take you back to Washington, D.C. There was a ceremony that just wrapped up honoring five law enforcement officials including the Capitol Hill police officers and Alexandria, Virginia, police officers who saved the lives of so many at that Republican baseball practice last June. You can see them there holding their awards.

HARLOW: Special Agent Crystal Griner, Special Agent David Bailey, Alexandria Police Officer Kevin Jobe, Alexandria Police Officer Nicole Battaglia, and Alexandria Police Officer Alexander Jensen, and as we've heard from Steve Scalise, who was one of three so wounded in this attack, we would not be here if it were not for them.

J. BERMAN: Yes. Steve Scalise flat out said he would not be alive today if not for the heroism of these officers. And we saw leaders of both parties up there. And any time you see that it is a welcomed sign.

HARLOW: A good day. A great honor.

Thank you all for being with us today. I'm Poppy Harlow.

J. BERMAN: I'm John Berman here in New York. "AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN" starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

Your money and their job security. That's what's on the line this morning as Republicans on Capitol Hill kick off a critical day on their most critical issue. Tax reform. Senate Republicans are about to unveil their version of the tax plan, a tax plan that already --