Return to Transcripts main page


Senate Tax Bill to Include Repeal of ACA Mandate; Roy Moore Refuses to Drop Out of Senate Race. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired November 15, 2017 - 07:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're threatening to use this tax bill to undermine health insurance coverage.

[07:00:18] MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By eliminating the Obamacare mandate, we will pass and enact real tax relief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They know this is politically toxic, but their hope is that the individual imperative will do something to win out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no recollection of this meeting until I saw these news reports.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just a few weeks ago he said that no such thing occurred. So he was either lying then or he's lying now.

JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I have not been improper influenced and would not be improperly influenced.

ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: Obviously, I have made a few people mad. What do you think I'm going to do?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: The attorney general is extremely popular. He fits the mold of somebody who might be able to pull off a write-in.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY.

President Trump back from Asia and facing three big issues. Topping the list, tax reform. Senate Republicans revising their tax plan to include a repeal over Obamacare's individual mandate. A CBO analysis shows the move could save hundreds of billions of dollars but leave 13 million Americans uninsured.

President Trump also facing questions about Roy Moore. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggesting that Moore quit the race for Alabama's Senate seat amid accusations of sexual abuse. Even some of Moore's most conservative supporters are now backing away. CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Senator McConnell is floating Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a possible write-in replacement for Moore. But Sessions faced his own difficult challenge on Capitol Hill before he ever gets to a Senate race. Forced to answer tough questions from Congress over what he knew about Trump campaign's interactions with Russia.

Sessions saying he now recalls the meeting last year attended by former campaign aide George Papadopoulos because of media reporting on it.

CNN has it all covered. Let's start with Suzanne Malveaux, live on Capitol Hill. Suzanne, good morning.


Well, this was a bombshell announcement. Senate Republicans saying they're going to try to accomplish the two top legislative items, tax cuts and health care, in the same bill.

Now, previously, they resisted this. They feared that this toxic debate over health care would derail the process. Well, now they are desperate to get something done before Christmas. So they are 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.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: 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 that they're not sold on the idea. Collins saying, "I personally think that it complicates tax reform." House Speaker Paul Ryan signaling 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 is not included in repealing the Obamacare mandate, is expected to go for a vote tomorrow, as scheduled. Now, the Senate, this new Senate plan likely to be voted on after the Thanksgiving break. And of course, they'll be looking at conference to see what's going to happen ultimately, but we do expect that this is going to be one heck of a fight, Alisyn.

[07:05:07] CAMEROTA: OK, Suzanne. Thank you very much.

Embattled Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore digging in, refusing to drop out of the race even as some of his most conservative supporters back away. Now Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is raising a provocative possibility.

CNN's Nick Valencia is live in Gadsden, Alabama, with more. What's the latest?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. Conservative leaders are increasingly abandoning ship on Roy Moore, with some calling for him to explain the inconsistencies in his defense. Others flat-out calling for him to withdraw. With Roy Moore, he's defiant. Last night at a campaign rally, he blamed the media for harassing him over these 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 Tuesday that 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: And even with the controversy surrounding him, Roy Moore still has a lot of support here in the state of Alabama. Just 30 days -- about 30 days to go here for this special election. That race is getting -- getting ever so tight here against the Democratic opponent, Doug Jones. And that says a lot. It's the last time the Democratic senator -- a Democratic senator was here is about 20 years ago -- Alisyn, Chris.

CAMEROTA: Very interesting context for us. Thank you, Nick.

So let's bring in CNN political analysts. We have David Gregory and John Avlon here in the studio. Great to have both of you.

Let's start with taxes. Let's put up the headlines that we know about the Senate GOP tax plan. Here's what we know that it will do.

It repeals Obamacare's individual mandate, the part of the plan that has been probably least popular since its separation. Boosts the child tax credit to 2,000 per child. Lowers several middle-income tax rates. And the corporate tax rate is reduced to 20 percent. Now let's talk about what we know about the impact of this. It will

raise average premiums, they predict, according to the CBO, a ten percent, 13 million fewer people will be insured over 10 years. It does, though, reduce the deficit by $338 billion.

What do you see, David?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think this is a gamble on the part of Republicans that they think is worth taking. Because they can pick up some conservative Republican support. Perhaps they may lose some. Or ditching the individual mandate, which is a problem. Murkowski, Collins and whatever happens in Alabama if there's a Democrat who gets that seat in Doug Jones.

But I think it's a gamble that they are willing to take. It can take on the health care issue. It can create more room for them to get this under the water of $1.5 trillion and increasing, you know, in the cost over the time to do it on a party line vote. And I think in the end that may be the gamble that they're willing to take.

CUOMO: So votes and voters. David, of course, as usual absolutely correct.


CUOMO: Throwing the -- throwing the mandate in there is some sweet tea for some of the conservatives who don't like how it balloons the deficit. This takes care of that, because you're going to get all these subsidies out of there that go on with the mandate. And you're going to get $338 billion.

However, the people who will be affected by withdrawing the mandate, young people, healthy people, high earners, they're all good. But the same people that the party and the president has promised to protect will be in that 10 percent premium rise. Will be in that 13 million people who lose care.

[07:10:10] So on balance, do you win the votes of the Republicans to get it passed, but do you lose voters who get affected by it adversely?

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: This goes to sort of the heart of a lot of health care policy. It's the -- it's the Obama -- hating Obamacare aspect that can rally some of the base around it in a culture war sort of patina. But ignoring the actual policy impact on them personally and their pocketbook.

Look, the bill has problems with regards to, you know, raising -- you know, having a negative impact on deficit and debt. But this is an attempt to secure the coalition, because hating Obamacare has been an article of faith among most Republicans.

The problem is this was originally a conservative proposal. And it will hurt some people. But there's always been a bet that those folks won't blame Republicans for this. That, you know, you can distract them with a culture war issue. But government ultimately, especially the president's instincts to

make this about the middle class, that has to come with a sense of responsibility to those folks, not just making sure that the substance matches the style but the actual impact doesn't hurt people.

GREGORY: Look, if fewer people have health care, that's going to hurt. The system is going to be hurt. I mean, I do think you're right. This is irresponsible to throw this in there.

You know, health care policy, whatever was wrong with Obamacare, it works through the health care system over a period of time to create a certain level of certainty, where we can see what works and what doesn't. And the health care industry has responded to that.

Now you're going to knock out a pillar from underneath it. It becomes a bigger problem. People do lose coverage. And we saw politically in Virginia people like their health care. You know, when you give something, very hard to take it away. And that they could be creating new problems for themselves.

CAMEROTA: OK. Next top story. Let's move on to Alabama and what we're seeing happen play out with Roy Moore, the candidate. So listen, John, it seems like we've seen this movie before, certainly in the climate of Harvey Weinstein and all the other accusations. But you say this is unprecedented what we're seeing.

AVLON: Just stop for a moment to reflect on the fact that the Senate majority leader is saying that he will not seat a member of his own party if he wins a special election. That the speaker of the House is saying he should step out, because he's morally compromising, contradicting his alleged values. This isn't just a controversial candidate that conservatives are uncomfortable with, because they think he's baggage. This is people saying to a member of their own party, "We will not seat you if you win."

CUOMO: You have a couple of disconnects going on here, too. When the Weinstein allegations came out, they were acted on almost immediately. Here there was a big push back in the initial wave of, well, let's see if the allegations are proven true, which was always a hollow hedge, right? Because there is going to be no trial. There's going to be no vetting. You have to believe this.

So also, you have the federal versus local disparity here. OK? This is playing different from Roy Moore in Alabama...

CAMEROTA: Definitely.

CUOMO: ... than it is on the federal level. The governor is a woman, Kay Ivey, who says, "I'm going to vote for Roy Moore" and all these plans. McConnell, are subject to what this governor does, David. If the governor doesn't want to cancel or delay the special election, allowing for Sessions to get in there, he would have a functionally split ticket with Moore. And that would help, though, Jones and hurt Sessions. Why would he do this?

GREGORY: Yes. I mean, this... CUOMO: That was a lot there that I just gave you.

GREGORY: Yes. If the president gets involved with McConnell in applying pressure to make this happen, but I do think what John says is important.

You know, if you're a Democrat and you want Roy Moore out, but you're also complaining about the authoritarian instincts of this administration, you have got to raise your voice and say, "Wait a minute. Are we going to let the Democratic process play out or aren't we?"

Why I think there's so much attention right now, the message is being sent that he's going to lose, that he's cratering. And so you have all these guys. The Senate and the House is not a confessional. They're looking at data, saying he's going to lose and we're going to lose this seat. And that's why they're working the phones, trying to get the White House involved.

AVLON: And look, I mean, Jones is a credible candidate for Republicans who aren't on the Roy Moore band wagon.

CUOMO: That's a good point.

AVLON: This is a guy who was a prosecutor. He went forward with the Birmingham Six prosecution decades after that. But it's fascinating also to see whether more senators take up the mantle of Jeff Flake, who on his way out the door can say, "Look, if I were in Arizona, I'd vote for the Democrats."

GREGORY: Not just senators. You know, our friend Ron Brownstein, writing on Twitter yesterday, look at -- look at the demographics. You know, more upper income, educated, Alabamians who may say, "I don't want to be embarrassed here."

And again, I think the polling. I was saying, our colleague, Scott Jennings, was reporting last night that there is some polling that McConnell and others are looking at that show him cratering here. Which is why there's such a move to avoid the governor McConnell needs to be calling on.

[07:15:03] CUOMO: First of all, I mean, it matters that she's a woman. Because you have to make a decision here. Yes, it's a political one, but it's also a moral one, that you don't believe these five women and the thirty corroborations that "The Washington Post" -- and now there are actually more since that happened.

So it's not just that it's the governor is in control of the process. She's a woman and she's saying, "I'm voting for Roy Moore," even though she has this number of women came -- coming out with these accusations.

AVLON: Well, look, this is a question of whether sometimes party loyalty asks too much.

But I think the question for voters in Alabama and, you know, really across the country is do you believe in the person, not the party? At what point do you factor that in? Or do you simply, Pavlovian, vote for the party not the person?

This is a screaming case where that judgment which is supposed to be rooted in us in a democracy should be coming out. Because you don't have two equally responsible candidates, folks. If the best thing about him is that he's got "R" after his last name, you can't ignore a whole host of personal issues and history.

GREGORY: And let's just throw into the mix something I think is interesting, which is the president of the United States, who went to bat for Mitch McConnell before and got burned and looked bad in Alabama, now all of a sudden is being asked to intervene again. He may need to follow the advice of McConnell. And oh, by the way, if he could get rid of his attorney general at the same time, he wishes to be right, and he could be solving a lot of problems at once.

AVLON: Christmas in November.

CUOMO: Tough buy-in for him, though. If he gets into the Roy Moore situation, he's opening himself up to a lot of the same criticisms.

AVLON: Yes, that's true.

CAMEROTA: All right. John Avlon, David Gregory, thank you very much for all of that analysis.

Senate Republicans, meanwhile, tinkering with their tax plan, adding a repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate. What does that mean for you, for your money, for your health care? We ask one of the architects of Obamacare next.


[07:20:57] CUOMO: All right. So what will all the politics mean for your pocket? It is time for "CNN Money Now."

The revised Senate GOP tax bill eliminates Obamacare's individual mandate. That's the fine you pay if you don't have coverage. What will that mean for your money? CNN's chief business correspondent, Christine Romans, is in the Money Center. What do you know?


Well, the individual mandate, of course, is the backbone of Obamacare. Repealing it would likely raise the cost of health care, increase Obamacare premiums, and leave 13 million more Americans uninsured.

But it fulfills a Republican promise, and it frees up $338 billion, injecting some much-needed cash into the tax plan. Republicans say they want to direct that money toward middle-class tax relief by boosting the child tax credit and cutting several middle-income tax brackets.

But that money is not enough to pay for across-the-board tax cuts. That is if Congress doesn't want to add more than a trillion and a half to the deficit. So individual tax cuts would expire by the year 2025. But a lower corporate rate, that's immediate and permanent, opening up the GOP to criticism it's favoring businesses over every- day Americans.

And that intensifying debate is rattling the stock market, by the way, you guys. Right now, Dow futures are down about 130 points. Hopes for tax cuts have fueled most of the current rallies. So any sign of failure, any setback could trigger a stock market sell-off, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Christine. Thank you very much for setting all that up for us.

Joining us now to discuss it and dissect it are Dr. Zeke Emanuel. He's a CNN contributor and a former White House -- Obama White House health policy adviser. And Stephen Moore. He's a CNN senior economic analyst and a former Trump economic adviser.

Great to have both of you here with your different perspectives.

So Steve, you like this. You like this plan. You are still involved with the White House in helping guide them with economic policy, if I'm not mistaken.

So here's the criticism and the concern. Thirteen million people lose their health insurance so corporations can have tax cuts. So how do you square that?

STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST: Well, a couple of things, Christine, and I've been listening to your analysis of this proposal. One of the things that you -- you've left out a couple of things I think are really important.

No. 1, the people who pay this tax, this mandated tax under Obamacare, the vast majority of these people make less than $50,000 a year. Many of them make less than 30,000 or $40,000 a year. So it's an extremely regressive tax on poor people. In fact, those are the people who actually can't afford the mandate and can't afford the insurance.

So when you say that 13 million people are going to lose their insurance, I want to be very clear on this. Because I think Republicans are finally getting very smart here. This is what they should have done all along.


MOORE: Nobody is going to lose their Obamacare. Nobody is. If you want it, you can still have it. Those 13 million people, Alisyn, are people who don't want Obamacare and can't afford it. And these are people who are saying, "I'm better off if I don't have to buy this." So you're actually doing a favor for them.


MOORE: You're not removing them from health -- in other words, how -- let me just say this one thing. Because I'd love Dr. Emmanuel to respond to this. How are you doing a favor to people -- how are you doing a favor to people to require them to buy something they don't want?

CAMEROTA: Right. Got it. Got it.

OK, so Zeke, there you have it. I mean, listen, that's always been the complaint against the mandate, is that...

MOORE: right.

CAMEROTA: ... people didn't want it, and you're forcing them to get it. But Now they do have health insurance. So go ahead, Zeke.

DR. ZEKE EMANUEL, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: So there are two important points to note here.

First, people often make a judgment now that they regret later, especially when they get sick or something bad happens, and it's particularly the healthy people that that will be -- decide not to get in, young people, where we often know they can come down with cancer; they can have trauma. We're in the middle of an opioid crisis, especially aimed at young people. They may note think they need the health insurance, but they often do need the health insurance. And we need to have everyone in the system or the system becomes unstable.

[07:25:06] One of the things Mr. Moore did not mention is, if this goes through, we're going to see 10 percent increases in premiums year after year, because healthy people will stop buying insurance.


EMANUEL: And the premiums will go up for the sick. Now let me say, that hits a particular demographic very hard here. Those are people, or families making over 400 percent of the poverty line, about $100,000 a year, who don't get any subsidies to offset those premium increases. Those happen to be largely people who voted for Trump. Self-employed people, people running small businesses. And it's going to hit them very hard, because they are going to either see premium increases or not got -- not be able to afford their insurance.


EMANUEL: And the Republicans are going to hurt that group of people very hard.

CAMEROTA: Steve, here's what Christine just gave us an example of. And I don't have it for full screen, but I'll just spell it out.

A typical middle-class family, OK, let's say that they're going to get the $1,100 tax cut that Paul Ryan has spoken of. So typical middle- class family gets an $1,100 tax cut. Great. They're excited about that.

But if their health care costs explode -- and let's face it, health care costs can be well over $1,100 a year -- then it doesn't wash for them, and they end up losing. MOORE: OK. So a couple of things. First of all, I mean, one of the

ingenious things about this -- and I think this has liberals twisted into a pretzel, because they keep saying, you know, it's a big tax cut for the rich. And now Republicans are proposing a big tax cut for poor people, and liberals are complaining about it.

And the other thing is that this will actually freeze up, as you just said, Alisyn. It actually allows another 400 or $500 tax credit per child for middle-class families. So not only are they not going to have to face this -- this tax of Obamacare, but they're also going to get an extra $500.

CAMEROTA: And that will cover their health care costs?


MOORE: Hold on, hold on, hold on.

CAMEROTA: Make your point, Steve. Finish your point.

MOORE: Hold on. Let me just respond to this point about the rising costs. Do you know where I am right now, Alisyn? I'm in Arizona, OK? In Arizona, the cost that Zeke Emanuel said this is going to save people money, their health insurance costs them double over the last four years. A ten percent increase in premiums would be an improvement over Obamacare.

In most cases, the costs have gone up by 20 or 25 percent a year.


MOORE: That's why people can't afford it.

CAMEROTA: OK, let Zeke respond. Go ahead, Zeke.

EMANUEL: Steve -- Steve, this is one of those cases where you're completely distorting the fact.

First of all, premiums are going to go up 10 percent a year. But this tax cut supposedly targeted at the middle class is going away in 2025. So that extra boost in the child deduction is going to actually disappear for families.

The second thing is we've also seen a lot of bankruptcies and bad debt -- bad debt non-payments, because people can't afford health care, go tremendously down as a result of Obamacare. So people are actually better off financially with the health insurance, because if they get sick, they don't go into bankruptcy. And the bad debt for hospitals also has gone down, allowing them to actually reduce premiums for -- reduce what they charge for other people.

And I would finally say, let's remember the politics here. You know, people in Maine said, "We're going to" -- by 20 percentage points, not a blue state, but a purple state, said, that "We're going to actually expand Medicaid, because we think everyone should get insurance." We saw in Virginia, it was extremely unpopular to repeal Obamacare.

The fact of the matter is, people are appreciating health insurance more and the more they use it.

And the people that Steve Moore and the Trump administration are going to hurt are people at about $100,000. And remember, they almost have $100 billion in their tax bill for repealing the estate tax, for raising the limits on the estate tax. And that goes to people who have more than -- up to $22 million of an estate. Those are only the super wealthy in this country. That's who's really going to benefit from this tax cut.


EMANUEL: Not middle-class people making $50,000.

CAMEROTA: We have to leave it there. Steve Moore, Zeke Emanuel, thank you very much.

MOORE: Thank you, Alisyn.

EMANUEL: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Will the president's trip to Asia help him solve the nuclear threat in North Korea? Former defense secretary Ash Carter is going to join us live with his thoughts, next.