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Senate Tax Bill with Obamacare Repeal; Moore Refuses to Drop Out of Race; Moore's Step Aside; McConnell Suggests Sessions as Alternative. Aired 8:30-9:00a ET

Aired November 15, 2017 - 08:30   ET



[08:30:33] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Senate Republicans making another effort to dismantle Obamacare. Their resized tax bill eliminates Obamacare's individual mandate that forces people to buy insurance or pay a fine.

Joining us now is former New Hampshire governor and former three-term senator, Judd Gregg. He was chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

So you're the perfect person to speak to, senator, about this.

Let me put up for our viewers the headlines from what we know about this Senate plan. It repeals Obamacare's individual mandate, which I think it's fair to say was the least popular component of it. It boosts the child tax credit to $2,000 per child. It lowers several middle income tax rates. And the corporate tax rate is reduced to 20 percent.

Do you like this plan?

JUDD GREGG (R), FORMER NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR: Well, I like the corporate side. I think the individual side is skewed the wrong way. I sat on the Ways and Means Committee when we did Reagan (INAUDIBLE) and I sat on the Simpson-Bowles committee when we wrote a major overhaul of the tax laws, and I thought those -- those approaches were much better than the -- than the Senate or the House approach because they eliminated a lot more deductions and exemptions and took the personal rates down to about 28 percent, while maintaining the progressivity of the system so 85 percent of the taxes were paid by the top 20 percent of income people.

So I'm not too happy with the individual side of this bill. I think that it's tepid and it's misdirected and it will not necessarily accomplish significant tax reform, in my opinion. On the corporate side, I think it's a pretty good bill.

CAMEROTA: Here's what the CBO says about it. Here's -- this is the impact that they've come up with after their analysis. They say that it will raise average premiums for health care by 10 percent. Thirteen million fewer people, though, will be insured over the next ten years and it will reduce the deficit by 338 billion. So why do you think -- if you're not crazy about it and you think that

you had a better model, why do you think Republicans are going down this road?

GREGG: Well, I'm not talking here about the individual mandate. I'm talking about the underlying tax reform bill. The individual mandate, you've got to understand, works like this. Let's say the government tells you you've got to buy a bicycle and if you don't buy the bicycle you're going to get hit with a fine, which is half of price of a bicycle. Well, a lot of people don't want the bicycle, but they're going to get hit with the fine anyway. And that's the way this individual mandate works.

When they say 13 million people will be covered, that's really, I think, a -- that's not an accurate number. Those 13 million people didn't want --

CAMEROTA: But you're saying -- but just so I'm clear on that, I mean --

GREGG: No, no, just a second. Let me finish.

CAMEROTA: Go ahead. Go ahead.

GREGG: Those 13 million people did not want to buy the Obama health care package. They may go out, when they don't have to buy that package any longer because they won't be fined any longer, and buy something that's much more tailored to their needs. Most of those people are young. They don't think they need the type of massive coverage which Obamacare required. They probably just need a catastrophic plan, to be honest. So I don't think the 13 million is an accurate number.


GREGG: But the fact that you -- the fact that you --

CAMEROTA: Well, I was going to ask you about that. Just one second, I want to ask you about that very specific thing.

GREGG: Go ahead. Sure, please, I'm sorry.

CAMEROTA: No problem.

Because -- so let's say that they just buy a catastrophic plan. Fine. Or let's say they don't buy any plan and then they're in an accident. Then they show up at the emergency room and then you're back to square one, which is what existed before the individual mandate, where the emergency room became everybody's primary care physician. So what do you think about that?

GREGG: Well, it's not everybody here. We're talking 13 million people in a population of 330 million people. And of those 13 million people, most are young. And to the extent they have a medical health event, it's usually a catastrophic event, they fall off their motorcycle or they contract some terrible disease. And that can be handled through catastrophic care. So I really think --

CAMEROTA: Yes, but if they don't have the catastrophic care?

GREGG: I think it's an exaggeration to say 13 million people here are not going to have health insurance when those 13 million chose not to have health insurance until they were hit with this fine.


GREGG: So it's really a collection of the government telling you, you've got to buy something you don't really want. And if you don't buy it, we're going to hit you with a huge fine. Whereas people are saying, well, I might want to buy something else, you know? Something that's not as expensive and keep some of my discretionary dollars to do what I want to do, say go to school or take care of my parents.

CAMEROTA: Sure, I mean if they can find something not as expensive. I mean that's -- yes, I understand that people are (INAUDIBLE) choice --

GREGG: Well, of course they can. Of course they can. Yes, that's the point. Obamacare's fundamental problem, other than the fact that it was not well conceived and the purpose of it was to create a single payer system when it failed, was that it created an insurance product which a lot of Americans didn't need because it was so much -- it had so many coverages which were not necessary and which were expensive. And so you ended up with these high-priced insurance policies which a lot of people didn't need.

[08:35:17] And you can tailor better insurance policies to people in that age group. The big cost -- the big cost driver here for the community at large of health insurance is the pre-existing condition issue, which this bill does not affect. It still requires insurers to take pre-existing conditions. So that -- that's the -- if they were to repeal pre-existing conditions, that would be serious. But I don't happen to think, laying aside the mandate, does anything other than give people a fair shake at buying insurance they want versus insurance they're being told they have to buy.

CAMEROTA: OK, let's move on to what's happening in Alabama with Roy Moore.

You wrote a piece for "The Hill" and you said that he is a product of, quote, extreme populism, which you think is toxic. What is that?

GREGG: Well, we're seeing it, unfortunately, in our society on both sides of the aisle where people who basically don't want to govern, but would rather shout and which speak in paraphrases, which are -- people like but which don't actually affect policy in a positive way, are being given a great deal of traction and they're being given that traction by social media, primarily, where folks aren't held accountable for what they're saying and where there's no responsibility to govern.

People who -- in our society, which is a checks and balances government, a constitutional government, government only occurs effectively when there's compromise, when the two sides come together and figure out how to govern without shouting. And that's not happening today because folks who aren't willing to compromise are being given the platform and the megaphone that shout out and drowns out responsible thought.

CAMEROTA: Yes, we have seen some of that. Senator Judd Gregg, thank you very much for giving us your take on all of this.

GREGG: Thank you.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Congress is changing how it handles sexual harassment. What steps are they taking and what change will it really make, next.


[08:41:09] CAMEROTA: Time for the "Five Things to Know for Your New Day."

Senate Republicans taking a calculated risk, adding the repeal of Obamacare's individual mandate to their tax reform plan. A move that could save hundreds of billions of dollars, while leaving 13 million Americans uninsured.

CUOMO: Attorney General Jeff Sessions grilled by the House Judiciary Committee. He denies lying under oath about Trump campaign contacts with Russia and says media reports jogged his memory about a 2016 meeting involving George Papadopoulos.

CAMEROTA: Roy Moore digging in and refusing to drop out of the Alabama Senate race. He told a crowd of supports at a church last night he's the one being harassed by the media over the sex abuse allegations.

CUOMO: House Speaker Paul Ryan vowing to move toward mandatory sexual harassment training after two female lawmakers accused sitting members of Congress of sexual harassment without revealing their identities.

CAMEROTA: Blake Shelton named this year's sexiest man alive by "People" magazine. But take a look at this. Our very own Chris Cuomo making the cuts for "People's" sexy newsman feature.

CUOMO: I want to thank everybody for their votes. Came as no surprise to me. Obviously, you know, you did not vote for me, but that's just sour grapes. I understand your position. I'd hate to be you.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. This is -- wow.

CUOMO: Anyways, thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.

Yes, no, now -- now you've got my sexy on you.

CAMEROTA: Very (INAUDIBLE). I know. I know. It's hard to wash that off.

CUOMO: People will look at you differently. It's not easy to live this way.

CAMEROTA: I know. No, I know. The magnetism.

CUOMO: A lot of pressure.

CAMEROTA: The animal magnetism that I have to witness, mostly from men around you.

CUOMO: Yes, heavy on the animal.


CUOMO: Magnetism, not so much. Heavy on the animal.

CAMEROTA: When I'm on the road, there are a lot of men who do approach me to find out what you're like? I'm not sure how to interpret --

CUOMO: That's OK. I like it. I'll take -- I'll take all comments (ph).

CAMEROTA: I know. I know. I know that.

CUOMO: Whatever it is.

CAMEROTA: Are we done with this or do you want to bask in it --

CUOMO: No, no. No, this is just the beginning, my friend. You're going to find that magazine everywhere for months to come.

CAMEROTA: Taped to my desk.

For more on the "Five Things to Know," go to for the latest.

CUOMO: President Trump, not on the list, so far mostly silent on Roy Moore. Will he pressure him to drop out of the Senate race even though Moore has strong support in Alabama? We get your "Bottom Line" with J.D. Vance, next.

CAMEROTA: And an extreme wheelchair athlete is defying expectations while defying gravity. Here's today's "Turning Points."


AARON FOTHERINGHAM: My name is Aaron "Wheels" Fotheringham. I was born with spina bifida.

Spina bifida is a birth defect and it affects the development of your spinal cord.

Growing up I spent a lot of time in the hospitals and had 23 surgeries. I never really dwelled on it. It was just something that was just part of me.

In school I always fought to be put in regular PE with all my friends. When it was time to run the mile in class, I would do it on my crutches. I have an older brother who's into BMX and skate. We're just big fans

of all the action sports. Eventually he took me to a skate park with him, and then he offered to take me to the top of a corner. And when I got to the top of the corner, he just like of peer pressured me into it.

The first time I dropped into a quarter pike, I was eight years old. After that first day at the skate park, it just kind of became an obsession. I rid WCMX, stands for wheelchair motor craft. And it's like BMX with a wheelchair.

I got the Guinness World Record for the first back flip on a wheelchair. I started traveling pretty much full time doing shows and tricks and stuff from the age of 15. You know, I always say, my wheelchair has taken me further than my shoes ever could.



[08:49:07] CUOMO: All right, what's going on with Roy Moore kind of depends where you're looking at it from. On the federal level, the national level, we're seeing more and more people calling on Roy Moore within his own party to step down. But if you look at it specifically in Alabama and the state of the race there, you get a different picture.

OK, let's bring in long-time Alabama political reporter -- actually, no, we're going to bring in J.D. Vance in a second. But listen to what a long-time political reporter from Alabama said about his prediction of the race.


JOSH MOON, REPORTER AND COLUMNIST, ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER: If Roy Moore is on the ballot and he is given an opportunity to win, I believe, knowing this state as I do, he's going to win.


CUOMO: Well, right now he is on the ballot, so he does have an opportunity to win.


CUOMO: And we're going to show you a poll in a second. But let's bring in CNN contributor J.D. Vance, author of "Hillbilly Elegy." Let's put up the Emerson poll. There's your book. Very nice. Everybody should buy it.

Now, here's the poll, Roy Moore, 55, Doug Jones, 45. November 9th through 11th.

[08:50:04] CAMEROTA: That's right when it was breaking.

CUOMO: Yes. CAMEROTA: So, it's not now.


CAMEROTA: So many things have changed.

CUOMO: Could have.

CAMEROTA: But then he would have -- he would have won.

CUOMO: It could have.

What's your take?

J.D. VANCE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think it shows that the perception in the D.C. political press, and especially among D.C. Republicans, is not the same for Republicans on the ground. And, you know, to me it goes to something that's really deeply mistrustful about base Republican voters when it comes to the press. It's not just that they mistrust the press. They don't think the press is careful or scrupulous enough. It's that they very often think the press is a member of the opposition party. So I think a lot of Alabama Republicans look at what's going on in the national reporting in Roy Moore, and they don't just say, we don't believe it. They say, we think that this is specifically planted to destroy our candidate. And, consequently, it's really hard to have some of those allegations do a lot of damage to Roy Moore when so people have this instinctive mistrust of the press.

CAMEROTA: And, J.D., look, we understand, ever since the election, "Hillbilly Elegy," your book has gone a long way to sort of peeling back the thinking of people who really distrust the establishment. But isn't sexual molestation sort of an issue that defies party? I mean when five different women, separate women, who don't know each other have come forward, they -- one of them was 14 years old and she tells her story, one of them comes on camera and talks about having been sexually assaulted. Why doesn't that make a dent with the base?

VANCE: Yes, well, I certainly hope that sexual molestation is the sort of thing that cuts across party lines and I still think it does, but it actually has to percolate into the voter's consciousness for it to affect the way that they think about the race. And so a lot of folks, it's not that they think sexual molestation is OK. You obviously had some folks in Alabama who have defended Roy Moore even if the allegations are true, that's just disgusting. But the majority of Alabama voters are saying that they don't probably -- at least the majority of Alabama Republicans are saying they don't necessarily believe the allegations in the first place.

Now, I will say, that when we -- when we talk about how to get these messages and how to get these points across, the local press and the conservative press has an really outsized role here. So I think that what would be really damaging to Roy Moore is the fact that, first of all, some of the local Alabama papers have really gotten onboard and started to report some of these allegations. Giving them some credibility that the national press, frankly, just doesn't have and can't bestow.

But I also think, you know, Sean Hannity last night, for example, gave Roy Moore a 24 hour deadline to give a full-throated, convincing rebuttal of these allegations. If the conservative press or if the local Alabama press really starts to turn on Roy Moore, that could do some damage. But I just don't think that the national press' ability to change the narrative is that significant anymore.

CUOMO: It is interesting, though, that a clear morality issue isn't resonating more with that Christian base and that somehow Roy Moore is turning it into a strength, that this is some attack on his Christianity.

Let me get your take on this, J.D.

So, a little bit of this political machination game that's going on is, well, maybe the Republicans, in the form of McConnell, and maybe even the president, will get the A.G., Sessions, to go back to his home seat in Alabama and become a write-in. And, of course, that would require some help from the governor there, Kay Ivey, who, even though she is a woman, has not shown any outward support of the women who are coming forward as accusers. But if that would happen, think about the implications, not just in Alabama, but then you'd have the president, who could appoint a new attorney general, who could theoretically get rid of Mueller because he wouldn't be conflicted about anything to do with the Russia investigation. What a sweeping set of changes could happen here.

VANCE: You know, absolutely. Look, if the domino falls of Jeff Sessions resigning to go and, you know, fix or save the Republican Party in Alabama, then certainly you could see it having major, major repercussions on the broad political picture.

I don't necessarily think that's going to happen simply because I think that if that happened, if Jeff Sessions goes and tries to be a write-in candidate, for example, another thing that's been tossed out there is that if Luther Strange resigns, it would actually set in motion an entirely new special election where maybe Roy Moore isn't even on the ballot.

But I think all of these things actually would create real backlash from Alabama Republican voters. They would perceive that it was folks from D.C. actually going behind the scenes and in a very corrupt way changing the way that their Democratic process is working.

And so I don't know if I could see this actually happening simply because I think a lot of Alabama Republicans would see this as the swamp rising up to attack Roy Moore. And I don't know if that's necessarily going to be a positive outcome.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Yes. Understood. So it will be very interesting to see what happens on December 12th there.

J.D. Vance, thanks so much for your perspective.

CUOMO: The Democrats have been quiet. It would be interesting, what do they say in this situation? Don't they want democracy to play out or do they want to play to the morality that a man like this shouldn't be on the ticket?

[08:55:01] CAMEROTA: I have seen the political campaign ad from Doug Jones, who has Republicans saying, this year I'm voting Democrat. So, we'll see if that carries any weight there.

"The Good Stuff" is next.

CUOMO: The sexy thing wasn't "The Good Stuff "?


CUOMO: "The Good Stuff."

Lana Abu-Hijleh is helping young people in Palestine. She founded the Youth Local Counsels. The action inspired by her mother's death.


LANA ABU-HIJLEH: Either you give up or you try to make something positive out of it.


CUOMO: Purpose out of pain. Young people in the group ranging in age from 15 to 20. They elect peers to mirror positions of their local councils. They then receive training to help strengthen their communities, giving them hope for the future.

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