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Senate Tax Bill to Include Repeal of ACA Mandate; Roy Moore Refuses to Drop Out of Senate Race. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired November 15, 2017 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: We're optimistic that inserting the individual mandate repeal would be helpful.
[05:59:13] REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We want to see the Senate go first to see if they can get that done.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: They are cutting taxes on the wealthy and taking health care away from millions.
JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I have answered every question to the best of my recollection.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're left not with a lot of confidence that he's being fully transparent.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: What's it going to take to actually get this done?
SESSIONS: It would take a factual basis that meets the standards.
ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: There's been over $30 million spent.
MCCONNELL: He's obviously not fit to be in the Senate. We've looked at all the options to try to prevent that from happening.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and armed the world. This is your NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, November 15, 6 a.m. here in New York, and we have some starting line this morning.
President Trump is back home from Asia, and he has to hit the ground running. His tax plan is at a critical phase, and he has yet to really weigh in on controversial Senate candidate Roy Moore.
So on taxes, Senate Republicans unveiled their revised tax bill. They're going to show a big boost to revenue, but it comes in the form of a major curveball to Democrats. It includes a repeal of the individual mandate in Obamacare. This is a move the president pushed for. And it is gaining support among conservatives in the House. They want to repeal the mandate in their bill, as well.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. President Trump also facing questions about Roy Moore. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggesting that Moore quit the race. And some of Moore's most conservative supporters also backing away from him, but Moore says he's not going anywhere.
O'Connell now floating Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a possible write-in replacement. This as Sessions gave another round of heated testimony on Capitol Hill concerning what he knew about Trump campaign interactions with Russia.
Sessions experiencing some memory issues, saying thanks to media reports, he now recalls the meeting last year attended by former campaign aide George Papadopoulos.
So we have it all covered for you. Let's go first to CNN's Suzanne Malveaux. She is live on Capitol Hill. What's the latest there, Suzanne?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. Well, Senate Republicans, they are now announcing they're trying to get two top legislative agenda items done in the same bill. That is tax cuts and health care.
Now, previously they resisted this. They have feared that this toxic debate over health care would derail the process. But really desperate to get something done before Christmas, they're now willing to take their chances.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): Senate Republicans taking a gamble, proposing to go repeal Obamacare's individual mandate, requiring individuals to have health insurance or pay a penalty to free up $338 billion to pay for tax cuts.
MCCONNELL: We're optimistic that inserting the individual mandate repeal would be helpful.
MALVEAUX: But the Congressional Budget Office estimates that repealing the mandate would also result in 13 million fewer people having health insurance and drive up premiums by roughly 10 percent.
Senate Republicans also announcing that the individual tax cuts in their plan would be temporary, expiring at the end of 2025, in order to comply with Senate rules that would allow them to pass the bill along party lines. The cut in the corporate tax rate, from 35 percent to 20 percent, however, would be permanent.
SCHUMER: They're cutting taxes on the wealthy and taking health care away from millions, and raising the premiums of millions of others.
MALVEAUX: The updated bill, unveiled by Senate Republicans last night, proposes to use the money saved by the repeal of the individual mandate to modestly reduce income tax rates from middle-income taxpayers and boost the child tax credit from $1,650 to 2,000, a priority for President Trump's daughter, Ivanka.
The president urged lawmakers to end the Obamacare mandate on Twitter Monday. Senator John McCain, who cast a dramatic vote, killing Republicans' last effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, signaling he's leaning towards supporting the bill.
But senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, who others who voted against the GOP health care plan, indicating they're not sold on the idea. Collins saying, "I personally think that it complicates tax reform." House Speaker Paul Ryan saying the Senate must show their bill can pass before the House gets on board.
RYAN: The Senate was the issue. So we're now seeing if the Senate has the votes to actually repeal the individual mandate.
MALVEAUX: Now, the House bill, which does not include repealing the individual mandate, expected to go for a vote sometime tomorrow. Now, this new Senate plan is likely to come up with a vote after Thanksgiving. So stay tuned on what ultimately this is going to look like -- Chris, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Suzanne, thank you very much.
CUOMO: All right. Let's bring in the big shots: CNN political analyst David Gregory and CNN political commentator Errol Louis.
First, some facts to bring people up to speed. What is in this Senate bill? Why would it matter to you? Let's put up some of the big points of what it does. Repeals Obamacare's individual mandate. This is going to be a big curveball for Democrats. Why are they doing it? We'll discuss in a second.
Also, boosts child tax credit. One of the ways they do that is with the revenue from withdrawing the mandate. Lowers several middle- income tax rates for how long, what will the impact be. We'll discuss corporate tax rates reduced to 20 percent.
Now, this big curveball of taking the mandate out, repealing it this bill as a way to raise revenues and also achieve part of their health care complex, that is going to have impacts. What are they? Put up the full screen.
[06:05:04] All right. Now it's going to give them more money. Right? It's going to reduce the deficit by $338 billion. It's going to raise average premiums by 10 percent. And then there's the big ticket for Democrats: 13 million fewer insured over 10 years.
David Gregory, what is the top-line analysis on what -- how this works for Republicans, what the challenge is for Democrats?
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's math and votes, right? The math works better. They're trying to get this under the wire so that they only need 51 votes to do it on a party line basis. And this is a way to attract some conservative Republicans who are not so hot on this thing. They don't believe that it's necessarily going to be overcome -- the deficits would be overcome by economic growth.
They don't like leaving marginal tax rates alone, so there are some reasons why conservative Republicans have been unhappy with this tax plan. This could bring them along. It does attack part of the health care plan.
The down sides, I think, are many. This is risky. That down arrow is not just a Democrat concern. There's a lot of people who are relying on health care. Look at the exit polls in Virginia, people who thought that their health care was very, very important.
So taking part of that entitlement away, taking away a pillar, which is the individual mandate, which allows Obamacare actually to work. Has not been working perfectly, but it still allows it to work. Young and healthy people pay in. They subsidize older, sicker people. That's how a health care system has to work. You take that away kind of arbitrarily. It could definitely hurt the health care system, as well. So a lot of risk here. Republicans think it's worth the gamble.
CAMEROTA: Errol, this has always been the paradox of Obamacare, which is people rely on the insurance, but they don't like the individual mandate. They don't like being told they have to buy something.
So take that away. And here are the headlines. Take away the individual mandate, which has never been popular, lower taxes. Win- win.
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: What's not to like, right?
CAMEROTA: What's not to like?
LOUIS: Well, when those 13 million people start coming off of insurance, and they start showing up at the public hospitals, when they start showing up in front of the cameras, you know, they start showing up in front of the cameras, frankly. Because the Democrats have been through this a number of times. They just got a shot in the arm, as David suggested, in Virginia.
They know how to run this play. They know how to get the stories. They know how to tell the horror stories. They know how to scare people into taking action and reminding people that, even if you didn't like Obama, even if you didn't like Obamacare, even if you didn't like the individual mandate, the alternative could be really scary and really destructive.
GREGORY: But they're looking -- the Senate is looking at a different alternative, which is if Republicans don't deliver, if they don't deliver in the Senate, they've got something to answer for here.
If you can't get a tax bill through the Senate after the House has yet again done its job, did its job on health care, did its job on taxes or will do its job, then it all comes on the Senate. There's a reason to gamble here politically for Republicans who have got against...
CAMEROTA: But doesn't it look like they are going to get it through right now? From where we stand right now, John McCain is saying -- yes.
GREGORY: A couple of big factors. John Thune of South Dakota made a good point, which is, "Hey, this is what frees up, allows us to sell this middle-class tax relief." That is, I think, tactically smart. I don't know that Susan Collins of Maine is on board with this individual mandate.
CAMEROTA: She said it bothers her. It's troublesome to her that this is mix and mingle. And look, it's -- David, you're making the right point. So here's the gamble. Right? They want to get middle-class tax cuts through, because that's the population that Trump said that he was going to help. However, that one line that we haven't discussed yet, and what we're feeling the mandate would do is premiums are going to pop. For who? That same population. A little bit older, not making as much as they used to, voted for Trump, wanted someone to protect their interests.
So there's a bargain for exchange here. When premiums start to pop and people ask why, the people who say what you were saying, which is win-win. Yes, you're young. You don't really want insurance. You don't want to be penalized. And you want...
GREGORY: This has been a problem already. But you know, people have to remember about health care, the insurance companies have to get taken care of in the end. And when you don't have young, healthy people buying in, they're not getting taken care of, because they've got to get the revenue somewhere.
But to your point about the vote issue, this is why we jump over to -- to Alabama. Why that matters, the Democrats pick up that seat all of a sudden, and it's 51-49; and the timing is right when they want to get a health care vote.
CUOMO: Does this help Jones, your ability to go to Alabama voters and say, "By the way, you're going to be hurt by this? You're going to be the one who are going to see your premium pops. You're the one where these tax cuts are going to sunset, and you're going to get a tax increase."
LOUIS: Unclear whether he's going to do that. Unclear whether he's going to need that, frankly. I mean, he's got a lot of other issues that he can run on, frankly, in the last few weeks.
CAMEROTA: Things have cropped up.
LOUIS: To say the least. But you know, you've also got -- when Susan Collins says this could complicate things, we've been down this road before. You know, we -- you have to understand, she -- what she's saying is "Don't make me do this, because I'm not going to vote for it."
And when you hear John McCain say those fateful words: "regular order." He says, "Oh, yes, I like the idea of slipping this into the tax bill." I do think, though, that we should go back to regular order. He wants hearings; he wants fact-finding. He wants bipartisan conversations going on, none of which is on the agenda. So I don't know that they have the votes to pass this, with or without
that Alabama seat.
CAMEROTA: All right, Errol, David, stand by, because we have a lot more to talk about. And of course, Roy Moore. So far, President Trump has been mostly silent on the Roy Moore controversy. Will he weigh in today or stay on the sidelines? We look at all of that next.
CUOMO: Embattled Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore is digging in, refusing to drop out of the race and making it a spiritual contest. As some of his most conservative supporters are backing away.
The big question is, what is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell going to do? One provocative choice is that there could be a write-in candidate, and it's a name you know.
CNN's Nick Valencia is live in Gadsden, Alabama, with more -- Nick.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris.
Conservative leaders are increasingly abandoning ship on Roy Moore with many of them either calling on him to withdraw or explain the inconsistencies in his defense. For his part, Roy Moore remained defiant last night at a campaign rally here in Alabama, saying he's the one being harassed by sexual assault allegations.
MOORE: Now, they're trying to keep me from going to Washington. What do you think I'm going to do?
VALENCIA (voice-over): Embattled Senate candidate Roy Moore digging in, signaling he's not going anywhere, despite mounting efforts by Republican leadership to push him out of the Alabama race.
RYAN: If he cares about the values and the people he claims to care about, then he should step aside.
MCCONNELL: He's obviously not fit to be in the United States Senate. And we've looked at all the options to try to prevent that from happening.
VALENCIA: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggesting that Attorney General Jeff Sessions may be the party's only viable write-in candidate.
MCCONNELL: The Alabamian who would, you know, fit that standard would be the attorney general. He is totally well-known and extremely popular in Alabama. That obviously is -- would be a big move for him and for the president.
VALENCIA: Sessions himself weighing in on the matter during Tuesday's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.
SESSIONS: I am -- have no reason to doubt these young women.
VALENCIA: McConnell telling reporters to said he spoke with President Trump about Moore's candidacy when the president was in Vietnam. And it will have, quote, "further discussions" now that he's back in the states. The Republican National Committee also withdrawing support, announcing Tuesday that they are pulling out of a joint fund-raising agreement amid new signs that a shift may be happening among conservatives but defended Moore after the initial allegations.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: For me the judge has 24 hours. You must immediately and fully come up with a satisfactory explanation for your inconsistencies. If he can't do this, then Judge Moore needs to get out of this race.
VALENCIA: Representative Mo Brooks, who continues to support Moore's candidacy, trying desperately Tuesday to avoid answering questions.
REP. MO BROOKS (R), ALABAMA: I believe the Democrats will do great damage to this country.
VALENCIA: With less than 30 days before this special election, the race between the Republican Roy Moore and his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, has become tight. That says a lot here in the state. The last time they elected a Democratic senator was more than 20 years ago -- Alisyn, Chris.
CAMEROTA: OK, Nick, thank you very much.
We're joined again by David Gregory and Errol Louis. So David, what's going to happen with Roy Moore? At some point, is he going to say, "I've become a distraction, and I'm going to get out of this race"?
GREGORY: Well, he seems not to be responding to the pressure that's coming from all over his party, from party leadership. Scott Jennings, one of our colleagues here, a political analyst on "ANDERSON" last night was reporting on some polling that he's aware of. The Republicans looking out there really show more cratering and that they see that campaign -- which is -- it would make total sense, given how McConnell is moving and others are moving the table; "We've got to cut this off."
Now, we're going to lose this seat. Somebody has got to intervene here.
Roy more has dug in, in ways we could, you know, talk about that are unfortunate, to say the least. But as a political matter now, I think it's no coincidence that the majority leader of the Senate is talking about getting Jeff Sessions as a write-in candidate.
He is calling the White House. The White House is listening. He is saying to them, "You want your tax bill? We could lose this seat, and you could be in a really bad way. We need to act here, everybody together to get this guy out." There's various ways that could happen. A little complicated. But he's certainly working it. CUOMO: So it doesn't seem that Roy Moore wants to work with him,
right? He's said, "I'm the only person who unites Republicans and Democrats. He's made it into a Christian warrior martyrdom kind of situation, which is ironic, given the morality it played and what the basic controversy is.
So how would it work? So if they want to replace Roy Moore, they can't. And "they" meaning on the federal level. They can't do it. This would be up to the governor and what he wants to do with this special election.
So they would go to Sessions and say, "Would you want to do this." David makes the case that there might be susceptibility there. I keep hearing Sessions say he's not going anywhere. But let's say a call from the president, Mitch McConnell changes his mind. And maybe that meeting yesterday helps massage him a little bit.
So he says all right, yes, fine. I want to do the right thing. If the governor is not on board and doesn't want to delay/cancel the special election and reset it so that you can have a new ticket, you would then be putting Sessions into a position where he's splitting a ticket with Roy Moore and conceivably, as unpopular as he is, could lose with protest votes still going for Moore, and then Jones still wins the seat, and Sessions is out as A.G.
How do you see it?
LOUIS: That's exactly right, and something to keep in mind is that Mitch McConnell, as much as he wants to have that seat in this camp and have that last vote, he's also facing somebody in Roy Moore and Steve Bannon, who have said as a condition of running as a Bannon-type candidate, you have to pledge in advance publicly, as they have done, to get Mitch McConnell out as majority leader. So he's got -- he's got absolutely no reason to help Roy Moore or to go above and beyond to try and save the seat.
[06:20:03] CUOMO: Although we haven't seen the field jacket in a few days. You know, we haven't seen, you know, Bannon/Hunter S. Thompson out there.
LOUIS: He can read polls like everybody else.
CUOMO: Right. But you know, we haven't seen him out there playing his, you know, populist warrior.
GREGORY: All the president cares about right now is getting this tax bill done. Populism can wait. But there's something to this that's interesting. Which is you hear it from -- from some people close to the president, which is wait a minute. You want to tell a guy who could actually win this race, "We're going to, you know, rig the rules so we can get him out of the race?"
What about democracy? What about all you people hollering about these authoritarian tactics of the president?
CUOMO: Establishment tricks. GREGORY: Right. But so now you're going to use establishment tricks
to get him out of the seat? That may not go. And I think it's probably where Roy Moore is standing firm, saying, "Wait a minute. I won this primary. I can still win this thing. How are you going to..."
CAMEROTA: We've heard from Alabamans, I mean, here that they are going to support him. They don't like Mitch McConnell telling them what to do. They have a vote. So let's say -- Errol, play it out -- he wins in Alabama. Then what happens?
LOUIS: Then they have a real problem, because they can either write off the bat try to have him removed which the Senate under its own rules can do, although...
LOUIS: It will be pretty ugly. And it probably won't get the timing that they need. The whole point of all of this is to try and get something done with that seat and get some votes in place before February. It may not work out for them. So that's one option. The other option is just to ostracize him. That means no help, no support.
GREGORY: People are not going to speculate here. If the poll -- if their internal polls show that he is cratering, you know, even Steve Bannon would like, you know, a Jeff Sessions over a Democrat, I think, in terms of the president's agenda.
And, again, I think it's very interesting. Jeff Sessions is an embattled attorney general for lots of reasons. The president is not happy with him. His performance on Capitol Hill yesterday, this sudden memory about meetings with, you know, the Russians, that's not helping him in the president's eyes either.
And that he's -- he may not, you know, appoint a special prosecutor the way the president would like to be ordered up. This could solve a couple problems for the president at once. You could get rid of Sessions and try to save this seat. I think the president may at the end make the call and say, "Hey, Jeff, you've got to do this for the country."
CUOMO: They'd have to convince Sessions that he wins, that it's a given. Because that is a rough way, as the kids would day -- he'd be done dirty, Errol. If he leaves the A.G. seat and goes there and splits the ticket. And I mean, the worst would be that Roy Moore still wins or that the Democrats win and Sessions is out. Do you think this happens?
LOUIS: I wouldn't be at all surprised if they try it. Because you know, the -- the about-face just in the last few days, of all of these conservative voices who are going to stand with Roy Moore and fight till the last ditch, have all decided, well, maybe we're not going to fight to the last ditch. I think they have some private polling that suggests that this is a lost cause. And so I think they're going to try anything. I mean, keep in mind the possibility of -- of you have the Democrat wins and then flips to Republican. It wouldn't be the first time it's happened in that state.
CAMEROTA: Well, some of them, the tactic they're using, is running away. And we saw that literally happening with Congressman Mo Brooks. ABC's Tom Llamas was asking what do you think of -- of Moore? What do you -- you know, do you still support him? And I don't believe we sped up this tape.
CUOMO: No, you've got to watch their...
CAMEROTA: This is the real tape. Watch this.
CUOMO: Watch the feed especially.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe Roy Moore over the...?
BROOKS: I believe that the Democrats will great damage to our country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you still believe Roy Moore?
BROOKS: I believe that the Democrats will do great damage to our country on a myriad of issues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: Look at how they're gripping onto the banister.
CAMEROTA: The athleticism involved in that moment.
GREGORY: Congressman Moore has a Fitbit. He was under pressure to get to 10,000 steps.
CUOMO: He needed to make 10,000.
CAMEROTA: He made it. But listen, this saying, "I think the Democrats are bad for this country" when being asked about Roy Moore? I mean, does that wash?
GREGORY: Look, I mean, those are episodes that look bad. I think, you know, there's plenty of cover to step up and say, "I think Roy Moore ought to step aside." And you know, you get into these positions of leadership, you've got to be able to stand up for the right things.
CUOMO: There's no question.
GREGORY: To do that.
CUOMO: There's no question. And Mo Brooks, you know, deserves a little bit of deference because of what he lived through on that baseball field. You'll all remember how he talked us through that crisis here on NEW DAY.
CAMEROTA: Absolutely. So plainspoken then. CUOMO: No question.
CAMEROTA: But it's sort of remarkable, though...
CUOMO: Bu you've got to remember the tension. It's a great look at the tension, not just of "I'm going to take a header down these stairs."
GREGORY: Just to avoid the question.
CUOMO: But the obvious moral authority that you're supposed to exert as the leadership, versus the politics of Alabama. You've seen on the national polls, this is Alabama voters and what they want. And people who sleep on Roy Moore are making a mistake. That man has been rewarded for how he is again and again by the voters of that state.
CAMEROTA: We have people coming up who have their finger on the pulse of Alabamians, so stay tuned for that.
CUOMO: All right.
CAMEROTA: Thank you very much.
[06:25:07] CUOMO: Attorney General Jeff Sessions very much in the news. But not just because of how he could be the solution, but for how he is a potential problem. Did you see him in the hearing yesterday? We're going to go through what he couldn't seem to recall. That will be the word of the day. And a big blow he may have felt to the president's political agenda -- next.
CAMEROTA: President Trump waking up in the United States this morning after a marathon 12-day trip across Asia. No public events on his schedule today. And no word on what that major announcement is that he promised while overseas. Meanwhile, Attorney General Sessions gets another grilling on Congress -- in Congress. CNN's Joe Johns is live at the White House.
What's the latest, Joe?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. The president returning to Washington last night.