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GOP Tax Plan Clears Major Hurdle In The Senate; North Korea Claims New Missile Can Hit U.S. Mainland; NBC News Fires Matt Lauer. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired November 29, 2017 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R-SD), MEMBER, BANKING COMMITTEE, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: That's money that's taken directly taken off them on tax that you have to pay. And so, if you've got two kids you're going to get twice as much than what you do today, basically, in tax credit.

That's a big part of the discussion and it's for lower-income families.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: But, why -- where did this -- where does the committee say that it cuts the deal in half for them? It says that they get a cut --

ROUNDS: Chris --

CUOMO: -- initially, but it doesn't say that half of their tax bill is cut, unless I'm misreading it.

ROUNDS: Yes. Actually, their tax bill today is about $4,000 and it goes -- it goes to about $2,000. It actually goes to about $1,900 and some dollars under this proposal.

And it's a matrix that's laid out. We'd be happy to forward you the information of what it is.

CUOMO: Yes, please. Please, because the numbers --

ROUNDS: We can do that.

CUOMO: The numbers matter because part of this is, of course, spin. That's politics. I respect that.

I mean, you have to make the sales pitch for why you think that this is right. That's totally within the ambit of being an elected official.

But I'm saying that, you know, I have it in my hands right now and the whole part of the analysis for this bill, according to committee which is, you know, not -- is a bipartisan committee, is that this plan is grossly overweighted toward the top. And that calling it a middle- class --


CUOMO: -- tax cut is misleading.

ROUNDS: Let me -- let me -- let me just identify that because here's part of the discussion that always seemed to get missed in it.

CUOMO: Please.

ROUNDS: The vast -- the vast majority of the taxes that end up getting paid come from a vast majority of different income levels. But if you take the folks that are at -- let's just take it at $250,000 and greater, it's a significant amount of taxes that are paid by that group. And most people would say well, that's a progressive tax system.

So if you're actually going to make changes in it and reduce taxes, those folks, $250,000 or more that do make more money and that do pay more taxes would get a larger percent of dollars coming back --

CUOMO: Unless you were designing this bill to be designed to advantage the middle class more than others. Now, you didn't make that promise, the president did. He said this will advantage the middle-class the most. It does not do that.

Now, a little bit of this is now your burden but I don't know how you can look at the numbers that are in my hand and say oh, yes, this is clearly designed to help the middle-class the most? Do you?

ROUNDS: I think it will help the middle-class the most.

CUOMO: The most.

ROUNDS: Let me share --

CUOMO: The most.

ROUNDS: Let me share why. Let me share why.

CUOMO: The most?

ROUNDS: Because -- yes, and here's the reason why.

The middle-class, right now, has not had a pay raise in like 10 years and part of this is not only the amount of reductions for taxes, but the impact on the economy that they will also benefit from.

Now, you're going to have some folks that are saying -- that are going to say well, how do you measure the most and how do you do this? But what we know right now is the current system doesn't work for the middle-class. So what we're trying to do is to focus on something where everybody benefits.

You're going to have some individual say well, middle-income is this level, middle-income is that level. The bottom line is, is if you can grow an economy and you can also show that individuals with middle- class incomes, regardless of what you're call that number to be, it's going to be better than what it is today. We're moving in the right direction. And everybody seems to be

forgetting that the current tax structure is not exactly popular with anybody. So what we're trying to find is the next best step that we can agree to.

And, right now, look, the reality is I think some of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle would really like to work with us but, so far, we haven't seen that connection where we've actually been able to get people together to do it.

We're going to do this with basically having at least 50 out of 52 Republicans stepping forward. That means you make modifications and amendments to keep that team together to begin with.

But, long-term, is this better than what we've got today? No question about it. The American public come out better off in the new tax plan that we've laid out than what we currently have in existence today.

Will it be perfect? No. Can it be made better? Yes. But it's better than what we've got today -- a lot better.

CUOMO: All right. Well, for that to be true, though, you're going to have to make some modifications because all of the assessments that are objective, so far, show that people are going to take a bite on the second part of this and they're going to take a bigger bite as they go down the income scale.

But, Senator, thank you for making the case.

ROUNDS: We can fix that, too.

CUOMO: Well, you --

ROUNDS: We can fix that, too.

CUOMO: You better if you're going to make it what you sold it as.


CUOMO: But, Senator, thank you very much for making the case. Please come back as we see changes in the bill so we can go through them.

ROUNDS: Sounds good.

CUOMO: Be well -- Alisyn.


North Korea claims the entire United States is now in striking range after their latest missile launch. Now what? Senator Sherrod Brown joins us, next.


[07:38:44] CAMEROTA: North Korea claims it has successfully launched a missile that can reach the mainland of the United States. Senator Lindsey Graham tells CNN that Pyongyang must be stopped now.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The president is not going to allow North Korea to have a nuclear weapon in their hands that can hit America with an ICBM that can make it to the United States.

And if we have to go to war to stop this, we will. And if there's a war with North Korea it's because North Korea brought it on, itself. And we're headed toward a war if things don't change.


CAMEROTA: Joining us now is Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Good morning, Senator. Thanks for being here.


CAMEROTA: Do you agree with Sen. Graham that if we have to go to war to stop this, we will?

BROWN: Well, I think it's a little premature to talk that way. I like Lindsey but what we need to do is step up the sanctions.

I mean, we passed sanctions -- Sen. Crapo and I and the Banking Committee wrote sanctions aimed at Russia and North Korea some months ago. The president needs to use those more aggressively and efficiently than he has.

Congress is in the midst of tightening the sanctions even more, especially in the area of energy and financial services. We need to enlist China more in this. Talk of war is premature, putting it mildly.

And I also -- I mean, South Koreans -- hundreds of thousands of South Koreans will die if there is any kind of an attack launched --

[07:40:05] CAMEROTA: Yes.

BROWN: -- and we need to always be thinking about that.

But the issue now is strengthening the sanctions, being more aggressive. The president needs to use diplomacy better than he has and fill out the diplomats at the State Department and get them in place so that they can do what they need to do with China and with North Korea.

CAMEROTA: Well look, I mean, as you said, you've been pushing for more sanctions for a long time. But on a morning where the North appears to have launched a missile farther than ever before and one that can hit the U.S. mainland, what evidence do you have that sanctions would work?

BROWN: Well, I think that sanctions are the best tool. Sanctions have worked in Iran to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of Iranians. They've worked in a number of ways with other countries around the world.

I think the president's not aggressive enough applying them and working with the Chinese. So, I mean, there's a time -- time is of the essence here. I get that. I see what Korea has done, what they say they can do.

But that's why the president needs to step up his efforts. Not threaten war, but step up his efforts in diplomacy always knowing that we have a firepower, of course. It's something we never, ever want to use but something that, obviously we could.


BROWN: But, sanctions are clearly the way to go -- stronger sanctions.

CAMEROTA: OK. We have a lot of news so let's talk about another big thing that is happening, obviously, in the Senate this week. The Republican tax plan cleared a major hurdle and will now go to the Senate floor.

What do you think is going to happen with this tax plan?

BROWN: Well, I think it's a close vote. I think --

I heard what Sen. Rounds said a minute ago and I -- he's my friend on the Banking Committee. We work together on export-import bank and all kinds of things. But where he's wrong is that the Democrats -- the Democrats clearly want to work on this.

I was at a White House meeting with a number of members of the Senate Finance Committee. I offered two bills to the president. This was maybe three week ago, four weeks ago.

One was the Patriot Corporation Act which says you give -- you pay those companies that do the right thing, keep their production here, pay good wages -- you give them a tax break. Those companies that don't -- that move jobs overseas, you don't.

And also, our Working Families Tax Relief Act which would put money directly in the pockets of people making $25,000 or $50,000 or $75,000 a year.

I mean, I hear Republicans on this tax bill keep talking about it's a middle-class tax bill and I think Chris sort of exploded that myth effectively a moment ago.

But if they want to do a -- if you want to cut tax on the middle- class, cut taxes in the middle-class. Don't do this bank shot where you give hundreds of billions of dollars to the largest corporations in the country, many of which it will -- it will incent them to outsource more. You give hundreds of billions of dollars to them with the hope that it trickles down to the middle-class, and wages, and tax cuts, it doesn't work that way. Forget the bank shot. Get rid of the middle man. Do direct tax reform for the middle-class. This bill doesn't even pretend to do that.

CAMEROTA: And have your Republican colleagues or the president shown any interest in your Working Families Tax Relief suggestion or your Patriot tax relief suggestion?

BROWN: Yes, the president did. The president said he liked the bill. I handed a copy to him.

I brought it up to him in a phone call later. He said he liked it.

There's a clear disconnect between what he said he wants in his campaign and in those conversations and what's going on in the back room.

I mean, this is a bill that's been written in the back room in the majority leader's office, sitting down with Wall Street lobbyists and Koch brother lobbyists and drug company lobbyists and oil interests, and they change the bill every couple of nights in the middle of the mark-up.

And the Finance Committee, they added the health care provision to take -- to get a huge tax cut -- a tax savings there so they could cut corporate taxes more, sticking it again to the middle-class.

Then, the bill, it comes out a couple of days ago that this hurts middle-class and working family taxpayers even more. That they're going to get a bigger hit while upper-income people get a bigger benefit.

And every day this bill changes because they're trying to cut deals instead of doing it the way it should be, and that is out in the open so CNN cover it, so Fox News can cover it, so MSNBC can cover it, and let's see what's really going on and give everybody a chance and an open process. They simply don't seem to want to do it that way.

CAMEROTA: OK, next topic, Senator.

I don't know if you've heard the news but NBC News has just terminated Matt Lauer for inappropriate sexual behavior.

Obviously, this -- all of the sexual misconduct has been rocking my business of media and news and, of course, it has come to your business of Congress and lawmakers. Two women have come forward with allegations against Congressman John Conyers.

Do you think that it is time for John Conyers to resign?

BROWN: Well, I don't -- I don't offer my opinion or advice to him but I do think there should be an ethics investigation, as there's going to be, as there will be. Anytime this happens there should be full Senate or House, in this case, ethics investigation. I fully support that.

[07:45:06] Ask me after the investigation whether he should resign or not.

I'm very concerned about this. I don't know how you can be -- you cannot be concerned when you look at what's happened in the media, you look what's happened in business, you look what's happened in government. And the public clearly is paying a lot more attention to this.

And this, in the end, will -- I think it will mean better behavior in the workplace. It will mean more women are empowered to speak out as they have, and I applaud them for their willingness to do that and the courage they're showing.

CAMEROTA: Senator Sherrod Brown, thank you very much --

BROWN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: -- for going over all of the news with us this morning -- Chris.

BROWN: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right.

Republicans say the U.S. consumer watchdog agency is crippling the economy. Is that true?

CNN's chief business correspondent Christine Romans is going to break it down for you, next.


CUOMO: It is time for "CNN Money Now."

A federal judge ruled that President Trump's pick, Mick Mulvaney, should remain head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Mulvaney often criticizes the agency he is now running, saying that it is crippling the economy. Is that true?

Chief business correspondent Christine Romans in our Money Center with facts.


Republicans call the CFPB a renegade regulator that handcuffs banks, hurts businesses, and hurts everyday Americans. But that criticism doesn't really match up with realty.

[07:50:06] The CFPB has created rules to shield consumers from financial predators. There's no evidence those rules are hurting the banking industry.

In fact, U.S. banks are hauling in record profits -- $171.3 billion in profit last year, the third record in the past four years. They're making a ton of money. Another criticism, bank regulations and cycle lending, both for business and consumers, but household debt is at an all-time high. People are borrowing.

And so are bank loans to businesses -- $2.1 trillion in bank loans to businesses. That amount is nearly double what banks had on the books in 2011 when the CFPB opened.

Now, business loans have slowed down in recent months but analysts blame uncertainty over tax reform for that, not the CFPB.

Certainly, the entire concept of this regulator that is out of the reach of Congress is something that goes against the orthodoxy of the Republican Party and that is part of the problem here -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK. Thank you very much for that, Christine.

Up next, we do have breaking news for you. NBC has fired morning show veteran host Matt Lauer for inappropriate sexual behavior. We have all of the developments for you, next.


CAMEROTA: We do have breaking news for you right now.

Matt Lauer, the veteran "TODAY" show anchor, has been fired by NBC News for quote, "inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace."

His termination comes just one week after CBS anchor Charlie Rose was fired for sexual misconduct.

Joining us now is CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES," Brian Stelter. And, CNN media analyst Bill Carter.

Gentlemen, this is sending shock waves, obviously, through news rooms across the country, as well as people turning on their morning news this morning.

Matt Lauer, obviously, has been a staple. He was considered just the best broadcaster -- I mean, one of the best broadcasters of our time.

Here is what his co-host Savannah Guthrie opened their show with this morning.


SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, HOST, NBC "TODAY": We just learned this moments ago, just this morning. As I'm sure you can imagine we are devastated and we are still processing all of this.

And I will tell you right now, we do not know more than what I just shared with you but we will be covering this story as reporters, as journalists. I'm sure we will be learning more details in the hours and days to come and we promise we will share that with you.

And, Hoda, I mean, you know, for the moment, all we can say is that we are heartbroken. I'm heartbroken for Matt. He is my dear, dear friend and my partner and he is loved by many, many people here.

[07:55:08] And I'm heartbroken for the brave colleague who came forward to tell her story and any other women who have their own stories to tell.

And we are grappling with a dilemma that so many people have faced these past few weeks. How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly, and I don't know the answer to that?

But I do know that this reckoning that so many organizations have been going through is important. It's long overdue and it must result in workplaces where all women -- all people feel safe and respected.

As painful as it is this moment in our culture and this change, it had to happen.


CAMEROTA: My gosh.

Brian, what have you learned?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT, HOST, CNN "RELIABLE SOURCES": Matt Lauer was the "TODAY" show for 20 years. I think just to put this in perspective, Matt Lauer is the engine for the -- one of the single-most profitable programs on television news.

The "TODAY" show makes hundreds of millions of dollars every year for NBC. It essentially funds the rest of the news division. So for NBC to make this decision within 24 hours of receiving a complaint, it tells you there's something very serious here.

Although we don't know the details of what was alleged by this employee we know NBC informed Lauer of the decision to fire him late last night before he went to bed. This is a man who had a contract worth tens of millions of dollars a year. The contract was not about to expire and he wasn't about to retire so --

CAMEROTA: They're going to pay that out? They have to pay that out.

STELTER: Well, I don't know. I wonder if they'll have to pay that out.

I have a lot of other questions, including whether Lauer is going to comment.

CUOMO: Contracts are complicated, you know. There are these force majeure clauses.


CUOMO: There are morality clauses there.


STELTER: Right, there's ways out.

CUOMO: There's a lot of --

STELTER: But I think the most important thing to share is that both "The New York Times" and "Variety" were both working on stories about Lauer's conduct in the workplace. We don't know a lot of details about those stories but the editor of "Variety" just told me that they had spoken with multiple women who described improper contact with Lauer.

The editor of "Variety" saying quote, "There were multiple victims"

So, there's more to come I think in terms of the details of what was alleged here but obviously, NBC is trying to get out ahead of it with this announcement this morning.

CAMEROTA: Bill, your thoughts?

BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST (via Skype): Well, first of all, I guess I would imagine that Lauer must have acknowledged this behavior for them to have taken this action so quickly not to give him an opportunity to respond or whatever. So that is an aspect I guess that we'll find out to come.

It's an obviously devastating blow to NBC. This is a guy who really is the face of their news division in a lot of ways. Obviously, he has the most airtime of anyone on the -- in the place.

And, you know, he's just a guy who had a very strong following. I mean, many, many women like this guy. So it's probably the biggest person we've seen in the middle of this kind of activity.

And you can't really put a value on it at this point. It's going to be -- it's going to have enormous impact for NBC.

STELTER: I think that's an important point, you know.

Harvey Weinstein was a name known in the television business, the movie business, Hollywood, but he wasn't a household name like Matt Lauer.

CARTER: Not at all.

STELTER: I don't want to equate the two revelations -- the two allegations.

CUOMO: Well, that's a good (ph) point.

STELTER: But Weinstein has been alleged of disgusting behavior.

CUOMO: Right.

STELTER: We don't know anything about the details of what's alleged with Lauer.

CUOMO: Arguably, criminal behavior. STELTER: But I think to the point about how significant this moment is in the country, Matt Lauer is a name everybody knows --

CUOMO: True.

STELTER: -- and to see him fired, that's very serious.

And I know one of "The New York Times" reporters that broke the Weinstein story was also working on the Lauer story.

CUOMO: I mean, look, we've got to know more. Alisyn has been saying that and that is the right caution. We have to see it.

And, you know, Savannah Guthrie -- look, you know, people will judge. This is a frustrating dynamic for people.

Of course, she feels for the man that she sat next to and knows so well. It would be inhuman for it not to be that way.


CUOMO: But then you'll have, especially women, will say well, wait a minute. If he's doing these kinds of things how can you feel -- these matters are complex. Even if the behavior is clear-cut, the emotions are not simple.

She said something else. There's a reckoning going on. I want to see if there's actually a reckoning.

Firing Matt Lauer costs you money, costs you prestige, but it's a lot easier than corporate change, you now. Do you make settlements anymore? What kind of channels and avenues do you have for women to express these types of things in ways that don't put them so much at risk?


CUOMO: Those are -- that is a reckoning. Firing him is simple in terms of corporate change.

CAMEROTA: I hear you. We're at the beginning of this. I mean, these are the first stages of this sea change, Bill.

CARTER: And one thing you have to add to, Chris, is that we don't know what NBC knew. When did NBC know about this?

CUOMO: We know they covered themselves in their statement, though. They covered themselves in their statement just from a legal perspective. This is the first complaint in 20 years but we may have reason to believe that there were others. That is drafted by someone like me to give you cover --


CUOMO: -- from what you knew and when.

This is a corporation taking care of itself, you know, protecting it.

CAMEROTA: I'll just -- I'll just read a portion of it.


CAMEROTA: "Dear colleagues, on Monday night we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer. It represented, after a serious review, a clear violation of our company's standards. As a result, we've decided to terminate his employment.

While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over 20 years he has been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident."