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North Korea Launches Missile; Who Gets Hurt in Republican Tax Plan?. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired November 28, 2017 - 3:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICK NEWMAN, YAHOO! FINANCE: And then again, anybody -- there are people, I mean, where -- a lot of people are, like, going through their 2016 tax return trying to figure, wait a minute, they are going to take away what deduction?
Really important to stress this thing about the state and local income tax, because that's not just blue states, as a lot of people have heard.
There are a lot of people in Ohio, which is a swing state, who claim that, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and so forth. And it really just kind of defends on your personal circumstances. If you have a lot of kids, you are going to be more likely to use the exemptions for dependents.
Those go away. The standard deduction goes up, but you are going to lose more exemptions. That means your after-tax -- your taxable income will go up.
BALDWIN: What about just a quick follow-up to what Dana was just reporting, because we know you typically think of Republicans as party as who they are worried about deficit.
And, right, we know about the CBO report. And you just heard Bob Corker, Senator Bob Corker, and this discussion over a trigger, that the tax code would stop if the deficit got too big and that was a promise for him, as that was one of his concerns.
What do you make of that?
NEWMAN: You're going to talk a lot more about this, because that's actually a terrible economic idea.
Economists are sitting there scratching their heads, saying, wait a minute, if you actually meet these growth thresholds, well, that could actually happen because you are in a recession. And the very last thing you want to do in recession is raise taxes because some bill from three or four or five years ago says you have to do that.
So, that's that's one of those things that maybe they will get in as a token to deficit hawks, but in reality if that circumstance ever came to be, they would just have to vote to not to do that.
BALDWIN: OK. I wanted to ask you about that. Thank you, sir, very much.
NEWMAN: We will talk more about that.
BALDWIN: I have a feeling we will.
Also, our breaking news today that the president will be speaking any moment amid this whole tax fight and this new North Korea launch.
So we have Jeff Zeleny standing by, Phil Mattingly also live for us as well here on the Hill.
So, Phil, just starting with you, the breaking news on Senate tax bill, tell us what's going on with the one key holdout.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
Look, Ron Johnson, the senator from Wisconsin who up until about an hour-and-a-half ago was still a no on this bill, threatening its very existence in the Senate Budget Committee, which has to consider the bill before it heads to the Senate floor, he is now a yes.
Told our own Dana Bash, walking into that mark-up, that he would be a yes. Let me explain kind of how this all happened, because, Brooke, if you track back over the course of the last 24 hours, he has been steadfast in his opposition, steadfast that he would vote against this proposal, even if it stalled it out, if he didn't get what he wanted on his specific issue.
And then he went into the lunch, the closed-door lunch with President Trump, where I'm told the president had actually a back and forth with him about the issues that he was raising. He had several senators stand up and say that he should address this on the Senate floor, not short-circuit the process in committee.
In the end, that seems to have done the trick. And for some context here, Brooke, I'm told President Trump and several administration officials have been working very closely with Senator Johnson over the course of the last 10 days trying to hear out his concerns, trying to figure out a way to address them.
It appears that at least for the moment it's paid off. Now, the bigger issue here is the actual policy itself. What Senator Johnson wanted in terms of what he wants to have addressed is related to the tax rate through pass-through entities, essentially business entities that pass through income into the individual side and pay the code, pay the taxes through that.
Right now, the House and Senate bill have significant cuts in that. Senator Johnson wants that to be expanded. The problem, that is very expensive. The bigger problem, Senate Republican leaders don't actually have the money to pay for it and need to keep an eye on the deficit hawks, who don't want more money added to this bill.
So there's no indication right now he got necessarily what he wanted, which means this will still be an issue outstanding. There are still a number of issues outstanding for a number of senators before this heads to the Senate floor, but a very, very key victory for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, for President Trump just getting it through this process.
Should be on the Senate floor as soon as tomorrow. That means the end of this week, they have got about three days to figure out to handle all those other outstanding issues if they want to get this done, Brooke.
BALDWIN: OK, Phil, thank you so much.
Actually, Jeff, hang tight with me. We're going to pivot, stay on the Hill, Go to Dana Bash with some more breaking news.
Dana, what have you learned?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Brooke.
Well, first of all, I don't know if you can hear me, because there are very loud protests here. I know our Ashley Killough was reporting that there were some arrests going on. I will just move this way.
This is going on outside the Budget Committee, where they did just vote, as Phil was talking about, along party lines to keep this process going, to move the tax bill to the Senate floor, which is no small feat, given the resistance that we have been reporting that at least in the short-term the leadership and the president have been able to overcome.
We are going to be interested to hear what the president says, in particular because of what Phil was talking about the very robust back and forth that he apparently did have on the substance of this tax bill, in particular on the substance of the concerns that Ron Johnson, who was a very, very reluctant yes just moments ago in the Budget Committee, has about small businesses.
So, yes, Johnson, you know, allowed the process to continue, to use his turn of phrase, but the question is how is he going to be addressed and how are his problems that he has going to be addressed when this goes to the Senate floor?
And it's unclear if the president is going to give that kind of indication or not. But certainly I think what's important to note in hearing from senators here is that, frankly, a lot of times, it's been unclear if the president is helpful or hurtful in these really dicey situations. And in this case, what senators are reporting is that he helped.
BALDWIN: OK. So he helped. Thank you, Dana Bash, very much. I hear you amid the -- some of the chants and I presume some upset folks that this has in fact passed, the Senate Budget Committee passing this tax bill 12-11 in a party-line vote.
So, back to the White House we go. We're about to see the president.
And, Jeff Zeleny, my question for you. Everybody we just heard from Phil Mattingly, Dana Bash on taxes, is this what we are about to hear from the president?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, I believe that the president will address this. But I believe he will also likely start or certainly address that missile launch as well.
But we did -- as Dana was speaking there, we do have a new statement about the White House press secretary about that Budget Committee vote. Of course, the White House watching very carefully what is happening on Capitol Hill. And the White House of course is taking a victory lap with this.
Let me just read you a quick sentence of this.
ZELENY: It says: "President Trump applauds Budget Committee on taking an important step toward passing a historic tax relief, reform and clearing the Tax Cuts and Job Acts this afternoon."
It goes on to say there is a momentum for getting this job done on the Senate floor and they hope in the House. Of course, that is the thing that will come after all of this, if there is a positive vote in the Senate. Of course, they will have to reconcile their differences with the House.
So the White House definitely paying a lot of attention to the tax plan on Capitol Hill. In fact, the president tomorrow, as we've been saying, traveling to Missouri. It is his first time out in the country talking about this tax plan, selling this tax plan, Brooke, since October 11, when he went to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and did it.
At one point, his aides said he would travel every week or so to do this. He has not done that. Of course, he had some travel in between there to Asia, other places, but the first time he will be selling this tomorrow in Missouri really in about two months or so.
But we are being given some guidance here that the president will be addressing this missile launch. And, Brooke, this is really significant, because for so many weeks now, there have not been launches.
Of course, the president was in the region in South Korea some 35 miles or so from the DMZ, from the border with North Korea. There were high tensions at the time, and nothing really happened in terms of anything from the regime.
So, this is the first really exchange back and forth the president will be talking. So we will see if he uses diplomatic-speak, military-speak, or what he says specifically about what North Korea. But I believe that that is the thrust of his message this afternoon, as well as potentially appearing with those congressional leaders, at least the Republicans, Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who are here at the White House, of course talking about end-of-the-year spending bill.
So, Brooke, this is one of the times when there's a lot going on here on several different fronts. That's why being the president is unpredictable here, but they are certainly breathing a sigh of relief about that early vote out of committee of the tax plan, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Just quickly, Jeff Zeleny, on your last point, here you were up until a couple of hours ago you thought you would be standing outside the White House talking to me about how they were -- the big four, the congressional leaders, meeting with the president of the United States, and then there were two.
ZELENY: Right. Exactly.
This is an example of something that's different in this administration. We heard Senator Mitch McConnell say that he never refused a meeting at the White House with President Obama.
Well, I don't recall President Obama essentially sending out a threat or a tweet, as President Trump has done this morning, essentially saying that the deal is not going to happen here.
So it's essentially new rules, a new ball game here. But the reality here is the burden still rests on this Congress, on Republicans and Democrats, to figure out the end-of-the-year spending bill.
The Democrats know that Republicans will own any potential government shutdown. They are in control of the Senate. They are in control of the House. So the Democrats here have some leverage. And that's exactly what is going on here.
It looks a little bit childish perhaps for Nancy Pelosi and for Senator Schumer to not come here to this meeting. I expect they will come in future meetings. But that is what is going on here, leverage for the long ball here that end-of-the-year spending bill, which also could include an immigration proposal here.
So the thing about slow action and dysfunction in Washington, Brooke, often means a busy December, because everything is coming at once and being sort of jammed down the throats of people on Capitol Hill here.
So, that's one of the reason the next few weeks will be quite busy here. And, indeed, it will define the president's first year in office -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: And the correspondents who get to cover them.
Jeff Zeleny, you do an excellent job. We will look for you and we will look of course for the president speaking there from the White House momentarily. Thank you, sir, so much.
Jeff made the point of course we anticipate the president addressing this ballistic missile shot out from North Korea. And so the Pentagon now saying that this missile launch did not pose a threat to North America or any U.S. allies.
We have Ryan Browne standing by at the Pentagon for more on that.
Ryan Browne, what more do you know?
RYAN BROWNE, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, the Pentagon releasing its assessment of what type of missile was fired by North Korea, and they said it was an intercontinental ballistic missile that was launched, one of the furthest, longest-traveling missiles that North Korea has, potentially capable of reaching as far as the United States, but in this case only traveling about 1,000 kilometers before splashing down in the Sea of Japan.
That's part of the reason they were able to say while tracking it, it posted no risk to Japan, any of the other allies in the region or any U.S. territories, including Guam or the continental United States. But, again, given this long, relatively long pause that North Korea had done in missile testing, this very sophisticated ICBM-type missile, or North Koreans call it KN-20, showing that they had been preparing, that they had conducting preparations to make a launch of this missile.
And again they will be assessing to determine whether it was able to reenter the Earth's atmosphere intact, some of these other things to see whether or not it's developed or advanced since their last missile launch some months ago.
BALDWIN: So, quickly, just clarification, we had the map up. We saw the Korean Peninsula. You see Japan and the islands to the east. Was the splashdown to the west of Japan, meaning it hadn't flown over the country?
BROWNE: It did not fly over Japan.
BROWNE: And we're hearing that from Japanese officials, as well as the Pentagon's tracking it. It only traveled about 1,000 kilometers from North Korea, from the launch site Sain Ni, North Korea.
BALDWIN: OK. Ryan, thank you so much on that.
Let's analyze just a bit here.
John Park is here with me, the director of the Korea Working Group at Harvard Kennedy School, and Jamie Metzl, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and former staffer at the National Security Council under President Clinton.
John Park, first to you.
From what we know, ICBM kind of makes sense if we learn the president was briefed in the time that it was still in the air. Your response?
JOHN PARK, CENTER FOR CONFLICT ANALYSIS AND PREVENTION: Brooke, this is a part of a program. I think we have to keep this in mind.
As opposed to single event, single test, the North Korea regime under Kim Jong-un has demonstrated it's on track to increasing the capability of intercontinental ballistic missiles, but also the thing that we are very concerned about at some point another nuclear test as well. So, as a program, this is moving along. And the sense of urgency is only going to grow.
BALDWIN: The other note, Jamie, to you, that we heard from some of the correspondents in the region noting was that when there were multiple missiles some months ago being fired, that it was happening at dawn, and the fact that this missile launch was at 3:15, 3:18 in the middle of the night was a bit odd for the North Koreans, not staying with the pattern. Your reaction to that?
JAMIE METZL, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yes, I don't think that is a very big deal.
METZL: I agree with John. This is part of a program.
What they are trying to do is develop a credible ICBM, nuclear-armed ICBM nuclear capability, and they are marching forward in the process of doing that. And despite all of the bluster and tweeting, Donald Trump has done less than even past presidents, who haven't been successful in addressing this threat.
BALDWIN: And the Chinese envoy that was just in North Korea, John Park, I guess nothing came of that?
BROWNE: Well, right. There is a lot of mixed reports in terms of what the specific goal was.
But I think in terms of the Chinese effort, that's a broader effort to reestablish ties with the North Koreans. So, it's going to take much more than one visit. The fact that they received that individual, the international liaison department director of the Communist Party of China, I think, from a Chinese perspective, they are trying all the different routes, and in this particular sense the party-to-party connection.
But, as we've seen, that did not result in any particular progress in that particular realm.
BALDWIN: OK. And I hear both of you saying this is part of their program. I'm wondering, do you, Jamie, think that this was at all in reaction to last week, the administration, the designation state sponsor of terror in North Korea?
METZL: I don't think it was in any significant way.
But what I do think is that the United States in relation to North Korea is really at the weakest that we have been in many, many years. The outbursts and tweets by Donald Trump have done nothing to strengthen America's position. Stepping away from TPP, undermining our relationships with our allies have weakened us in relation to North Korea. And then President Trump seemed on his trip to have traded everything to the Chinese in exchange of additional Chinese pressure on North Korea, which we haven't seen, and there's really no results.
So, and compounding the fact is that the U.S. diplomacy in the region is quite a disaster because we don't even have an ambassador in Seoul. We don't have an assistant secretary of state for East Asia.
So, it's really a very, very dangerous situation, made a lot worse by the seeming incompetence of the Trump administration.
BALDWIN: Jamie and John, thank you both so much on North Korea.
We are standing by to hear from the president of the United States, speaking to the nation from the White House any moment now. Will he address what we were just discussing, this now confirmed ICBM from North Korea, or the big victory at least with regard to the Senate Budget Committee? We know they have now passed that tax bill 12-11 in a party-line vote.
Stay tuned. You're watching CNN.
BALDWIN: Just again, a reminder. You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
The reminder is that the president is set to speak, address the nation moments from now, as Republicans are getting really their first win in this fight to pass this tax bill.
And, of course, the launch by North Korea of what appears to be this intercontinental ballistic missile.
But let's begin with the meeting that was supposed to be happening right now, Democratic Minority Leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi dropping out of a meeting with the president and top Republicans at the White House on a multitude of issues.
If you are wondering, well, why aren't they showing up, apparently a lot of this has to do with a tweet coming from the president earlier today, where he wrote: "Meeting with Chuck and Nancy today about keeping government open and working. Problem is they want illegal immigrants flooding into on country unchecked, are weak on crime, and want to substantially raise taxes. I don't see a deal."
So I have with me CNN White House correspondent Abby Phillip. Nathan Gonzales is here, CNN political analyst, Margaret Hoover, CNN political analyst and Republican strategist, and Jon Selib, former chief of staff to Senator Max Baucus. So, welcome to all of you. But let's begin with Abby, to you, pretty please, over at the White House here, with the response.
What was the White House response to Democratic leaders pulling out?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the White House is actually firing back.
Even though the president was the one who started this whole episode, they are wanting Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to get serious about tax reform. Sarah Huckabee Sanders put out a pretty defiant statement earlier this afternoon essentially blaming them for not coming to the table.
I think where we are with this right now is that the president early in the morning said what he felt he needed to say prebutting this meeting that hadn't even happened yet, saying that he didn't think Democrats wanted a deal.
When they pulled out, the White House is now coming back to them and saying they are the ones who are responsible for the negotiations falling apart. So it's a little bit of a back and forth here. But the White House is certainly not taking any responsibility for the president's role in where we are in this process, which is nowhere.
BALDWIN: Abby Phillip, stay with me. I want you to play in this conversation.
But, Jon, to you, just on the Democrats. You know, say what you will about the president and the president tweeting, but the fact that the two Democratic leaders who are elected, right, to serve the people are not showing up at the White House, is that OK?
JON SELIB, FORMER CONGRESSIONAL COUNSEL: Well, look, I think the point here is that the president is pretty much irrelevant in these negotiations.
So, I have been involved in a lot of budget negotiations. Even when there are strong differences of opinion about what to do on policy, it never really devolves into insults going back and forth.
You sit down like adults. You have a conversation about what needs to be done and you hash out your differences. And I think that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are doing that with Leader McConnell and Paul Ryan. And they don't need the president there, because the president doesn't know anything about the substance of these debates.
And they don't to listen to him harangue them about being weak on crime and these other ridiculous charges. What they need to do is be getting down to work and solving these problems for the American people. And I think they are doing that.
BALDWIN: Margaret Hoover, how do you see this?
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Here's the challenge. The challenge is what has become abundantly clear is that there will be no Democratic votes or Democratic support in a tax bill, which is unusual. Right? In previous Republican administrations, you have had many Democrats, especially in the administration that I worked in with George W. Bush.
Two series of tax cuts passed the Senate with Democratic votes. The Democrats sense absolutely no urgency here from their constituents, who, by the way, many of whom are going to benefit from these tax cuts, which will broadly impact the middle class. Most middle-class families will pay less in taxes.
Shockingly, Democrats feel no need to get on board with this to help deliver for their constituents. So there is a bit of interesting politicking here, because Democrats feel no need to help the president, feel not need to posture or pretend that this is going to be good for them politically.
BALDWIN: It sounds like Senator Schumer, when he was addressing folks from the stakeout mic on Capitol Hill, was saying, we will with Republicans who want to work with Democrats in a bipartisan manner. But for now, Republicans, the president basically saying they can't work with him if he's being destructive, Senator Schumer's words.
HOOVER: There is a certain Kabuki theater that happens when you have the bully pulpit of the presidency.
And if you go to any district and put pressure on any member of the Senate and force them and light up the phones in their constituencies for them to call their senators and pass a bill, you want to do that.
And Trump has not yet learned how to do that.
BALDWIN: You're nodding.
Of course everyone is making a political calculation here. First of all, what's remarkable to me is that Leader Pelosi and Schumer said that the president doesn't want to make a deal when he made a deal with them.
NATHAN GONZALES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: This is all the president wants to do is make a deal. So we'll set that aside.
That Democrats have to find a balance, that a majority of the Americans don't approve of the job the president is doing. But in talking with Democratic strategists, the American people also don't want people who are reflexively obstructing the president or adding to the gridlock.
So Democrats are having to find a balance between opposing a bill that they believe is bad and being viewed as just adding to the gridlock that's happening in Washington. BALDWIN: The fact though that this tweet, I'm just going back to you, Margaret, on the tweet. At the end of the tweet the president said essentially there will be no deal with Chuck and Nancy. That's no way to start a negotiation.
HOOVER: Yes, I mean, he's clearly betting he doesn't need it. He's putting all of his eggs in Republican basket and he's now meeting with Mitch McConnell, and he's basically -- if he's smart, Donald Trump is saying, Mitch McConnell, you better deliver the Senate for me, right?
And, by the way, the imperative is on Mitch to deliver, Mitch McConnell, the Senate leader, to deliver it, because they need to deliver something for 2018. They were looking at a Senate map that was going to be highly favorable to Republicans in 2018, and every day that goes by, it's less and less favorable. So they need a political win.
BALDWIN: What is your thought bubble?
SELIB: We are sorting mixing apples and oranges here a little bit, though, because the meeting with the president was about end-of-the- year budget, which they need 60 votes for.
So, they need Democrats to support it. And Democrats will because they are not going to shut down the government. The tax bill is being done under a special procedure where they don't need any Democratic votes at all.
And the president pushed for Republicans to take that course and not take a bipartisan course, where they had Democrats at the table negotiating tax reform.
You have a lot of Democrats that want to negotiate a tax reform bill. President Obama put together a tax reform proposal in his budget when he was president.
Democrats are not going to just vote for a bill that they have thrown at them, which raises taxes -- and these is CBO and Joint Tax saying this, this isn't -- these are facts -- raises taxes on lower-income people, while it slashes taxes drastically for high-income people and corporations.
So, we're talking about different things here.
BALDWIN: I'm curious. Let's pivot back to the White House.
Abby Phillip, how does the president navigate -- obviously, it's a huge win, right, that the Budget Committee passed this along party lines, but they passed it, right? So we know it will go to the floor.
How does the president choose his words to address this in a matter of minutes?
PHILLIP: Well, it will be interesting to see what tack he takes here.
Often, when he talks about the process and the way forward on both taxes, whether it's on the end-of-the-year budget, it places the Democrats in the hot seat. He accuses them of not being at the table, not being willing to give Americans a tax cut.
But it's unclear whether he's going to go that way or if he's going to simply encourage his Republican members on the Hill to keep going, to keep pushing. Clearly, his presence on the Hill today ultimately resulted in this bill moving to the next stage.
That's a victory for him, pretty clearly. And it's likely that he's going to take a little bit of a victory lap on this. But we are still very far from a final conclusion.
There is a long way to go on this bill. Some people who voted yes to get it out of the committee are not firm yeses on final passage.
BALDWIN: It's a great point.
PHILLIP: So we will see how far the president is willing to go in taking credit for -- the steps that they really did make today after his visit to the Hill, pushing them to really just put their money where their mouth is and vote for the tax cuts that they promised their constituents.
BALDWIN: It's a great point. Not a firm yes. There's like a spectrum of yes in Washington.
We are in the thick of it. Abby, thank you.
Everyone, stand by.
Again, we're watching and waiting to hear from the president himself speaking from the White House amid two major headlines here.
One, what we have been discussing, the Republican tax bill passing a major hurdle in committee moments ago, and also this news from North Korea firing an intercontinental ballistic missile that flew higher than its previous launch, remaining in the air, we're told, for just under an hour. Might the president address this as well as he addresses the nation momentarily?
We are back in a flash.