Return to Transcripts main page


Senate GOP Tax Bill Hits $1 Trillion Snag; Top Dems Calls For Conyers Resignation; Beyond The Call Of Duty. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired December 1, 2017 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Christina Alesci, thank you very much.

Joining us now, two CNN political commentators of top variety. Former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum and former Democratic Congressman Steve Israel.

I saw a sour face come across your pretty visage, my friend, while you were listening to Christina Alesci.


CUOMO: What bothers you about the analysis?

SANTORUM: OK, a couple of things.

First off, you have trillions of dollars sitting overseas. Everybody knows that. And so what is the complaint?

Well, if you bring it back -- if that money comes overseas -- parked over there in banks -- if you bring it back, not all of it is going to be spent on creating jobs and investment. OK, true. I don't think anybody doubts that. But if it stays over there none of it is going to be vested in jobs and investment.

So the idea that we're bringing $3 trillion back, that's a good thing if it's distributed to stockholders. That helps pension funds, it helps retirees, it helps a lot of people. So the idea that this is a bad policy because money staying overseas not doing a thing for Americans is being brought back isn't going to go all to workers is a ridiculous criticism.

CUOMO: But that's not your problem. Your problem is that it adds to the deficit in a way that is unacceptable to many Republican --

SANTORUM: That particular provision doesn't.

CUOMO: No, I know. I'm saying that's your problem.


CUOMO: The provision -- they're not fighting right now about repatriating money.


CUOMO: They're fighting about the fact on one side that this is going to blow up their deficit. They can't take that back home.

It's not going to help the middle-class. They can't take that back home. That's the problem.

SANTORUM: Yes. Well, there's a -- there's a fundamental difference, as we all know, in the joint tax -- the folks who just -- the score on this provisions. There's a fundamental difference in what tax cuts are going to do and I think Republicans -- and if you look historically, a lot of -- a lot of economists will say that these kinds of tax cuts do stimulate growth beyond what these modeling groups say they are going to.

And I think the vast majority of Republicans -- a handful say no, like Bob Corker and James Lankford, and others, but most Republicans believe that these reductions in business taxes, reductions in taxes across the board are going to stimulate more economic growth than what these agencies are saying, and they're willing to take the risk of doing so.

There are a handful that are not and they have to be worked with.

CUOMO: Steve?

REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D), CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, FORMER CHAIRMAN, HOUSE DEMOCRATIC POLICY AND COMMUNICATIONS COMMITTEE, CHAIRMAN AND DISTINGUISHED WRITER IN RESIDENCE, LONG ISLAND UNIVERSITY GLOBAL INSTITUTE: Look, what really stimulates economic growth is when you bolster the middle-class. That's just historic. And this bill does not bolster the middle- class. It skews to the very richest.

You know, it's funny. In Washington, two plus two usually equals whatever you want it to but there's one group of umpires.

It's the Joint Committee on Taxation. For them, two plus two has to equal four. They're not partisan. They stick with the numbers.

And their objective analysis is, as you've been reporting, that this tax bill creates a $1 trillion deficit. So we're borrowing from our children in order to give tax cuts to those shareholders and those corporate titans now.

It's going to stimulate economic growth to the score, but less than one percent, and that's why they've stumbled at the finish line. That's why they had to delay the vote last night.

Here's what's going to happen. They're going to go back to the drawing board. They're going to try and ameliorate Sen. Flake's concern, Sen. Corker's concern and bring that debt.

But every time that you subtract or add in trying to pass a bill you're potentially losing votes either in the Senate or back in the House of Representatives, so this thing ain't done yet. CUOMO: A lot of political pressure has been put on by the administration in terms of what they promised and the proof they said they would provide.

The Treasury secretary usually not a big player in these types of tax discussion. He is a big player and here's what he said.


STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: Not only will this tax plan pay for itself, but it will pay down debt.


CUOMO: He said he would prove it and that it was going to come out with a report. And now, there's no report and it doesn't seem that the premise is going to be satisfied.

SANTORUM: Yes. Look, I can't --I can't speak to that.

All I can say is that historically, the joint tax -- the Congressional Budget Office -- all these scorekeepers in Washington, D.C. have been wrong, and they've been wrong by huge amounts. The idea that we can sit down right now and project out of the next 10 years how certain tax policies can affect the economy with any kind of certainty is ridiculous.

CUOMO: Why would we -- why would we not --


CUOMO: -- believe the economists but we will believe the politicians?

SANTORUM: Well, it's a -- but it's a fundamental belief that reducing taxes -- keeping -- having people keep more of the money -- having businesses -- the criticism of the business tax cuts and the corporate tax cuts, to me, is another one I rolled my eyes at. And the reason is we are losing jobs.

The Democrats, for years, have said we're losing all these jobs overseas. Businesses are moving out of this country. One of the big reasons was is because we have the highest corporate rate in the country.

Even Barack Obama was for cutting corporate rate. And now, all of a sudden, cutting the corporate rate is helping the --

CUOMO: The nominal rate --

SANTORUM: That's not true.

CUOMO: -- is very high. The practical rate -- what they actually pay, puts you right about in the middle of the pack.

SANTORUM: But the complexity of the code is --

CUOMO: It's true. You can certainly do better but is this the way --


CUOMO: Go ahead, Steve, respond.

ISRAEL: Look, you don't have to believe the Joint Committee on Taxation --

SANTORUM: I don't.

ISRAEL: -- and you don't have to believe the talking points, but we should believe history.

I was a Democrat in the House of Representatives who voted for the tax cuts in 2001, 2003. I was with a minority in my party.

The fact of the matter is that between 2001 and 2008 those tax cuts actually drove up our debt, it drove up our deficits.

We ended up going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan on tax cuts. Didn't have the supplies and the equipment that our troops needed because we couldn't afford them.

[07:35:09] And then we had this massive meltdown in 2008.

So there is something to be said for the reality of history and what it teaches us when we do tax cuts that are not skewed to the middle- class -- that are skewed to the wealthiest and then put us into a huge deficit ditch. And that's exactly what happened in the early 2000s.

SANTORUM: I think Republicans would look to the -- to the Reagan tax cuts in the early eighties and the tax reform that was done in '86 and say that there was actually tremendous growth after those two. And it --

CUOMO: Very different economic circumstances.

SANTORUM: It was very different. But also, 2001 was a very different economic circumstance. We all know here in New York.

CUOMO: That's why you've got to take things as they are and not state a general proposition.

SANTORUM: The reality is we had -- we had -- we had 9/11 happen after those tax cuts and that obviously had a huge impact on the economy.

CUOMO: Right.

SANTORUM: So you can't say well, the tax cuts caused this problem. There were a lot of other factors that were not --

CUOMO: But I don't understand looking at -- look, there's no question that economists will look at it two ways.

I'm just saying this reliance on the Reagan-era tax cuts. You know what happened with the deficit and the debt after that. You know that he had to raise taxes almost a dozen times because of that initial cut.

I'm saying that you've got to take it the way it lays right now. And the question is whether or not the president promised too much. We'll see what they can get done.

Thank you for being here, as always, both of you --

ISRAEL: Thank you.

CUOMO: -- good gentlemen.

Erica, to you.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Chris, thank you.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi now calling for Congressman John Conyers to resign over harassment allegations. Could this lead -- these growing calls actually lead to him stepping down? We'll ask one of his Democratic colleagues, next.


[07:40:30] HILL: Top Democrats in the House including, now, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, calling for Congressman John Conyers to resign over sexual harassment allegations.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: The allegations against Congressman Conyers, as we have learned more since Sunday, are serious, disappointing, and very credible. It's very sad.

The brave women who came forward are owed justice.

I pray for Congressman Conyers and his family and wish them well. However, Congressman Conyers should resign.


HILL: Conyers, as you know, has not heeded those calls.

Joining us now, Democratic Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence of Michigan. Good to have you with us this morning.

We just heard Nancy Pelosi there joining the chorus of lawmakers calling for Conyers to step down. You have not. Why?

REP. BRENDA LAWRENCE (D-MI), MEMBER, CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS, VICE CHAIR, CONGRESSIONAL CAUCUS ON WOMEN'S ISSUES, MEMBER OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE: I'm a woman. I'm a mother of a daughter and a granddaughter and every time I hear a "me too" -- every time I hear a woman come forward it's like a knife in the gut of my stomach.

In my other career, I was an EEO investigator.

What we want in this watershed moment is accountability. We want transparency of this process in Congress and we also want due process.

We need to be focused on how do we change the culture here in Congress? How do we have accountability?

As we know, Congressman Conyers is hospitalized right now.

Joining the voices of saying he should resign, I am standing here and very focused. And every single day this week I've been in multiple meetings and planning on what do we do to change the culture here in Congress so that we're not in a moment like this where we're just standing here saying resign, resign?

How do we fix this? How do we make sure that women who come into the doors of this House of Representatives and Congress have the expectation and the fulfillment of a safe work environment?

HILL: And is that expectation of a safe work environment -- is that one in which John Conyers remains in that work environment?

LAWRENCE: We have allegations that -- women are making allegations of sexual harassment. We -- in this process, we demand that Mr. Conyers is subjected to the ethics process of being -- there's an investigation. That's called due process.

HILL: Yes.

LAWRENCE: Mr. Conyers -- unfortunately, we can say it all day. It's Mr. Conyers' decision but it is our responsibility to investigate. He is still a member of Congress.

And I am going to stay focused on saying the women who have had the courage to come forward, that they're heard and that we investigate this and that there's accountability.

HILL: One of those women who has come forward, as you know, is Marion Brown. She was deputy chief of staff --


HILL: -- for John Conyers from 2003 to 2014, and filed a complaint of sexual harassment in 2014 and decided to break her NDA.

Here is what she said yesterday on the "TODAY" show.


MARION BROWN, ACCUSED REP. JOHN CONYERS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT: Some of the things that he did were -- it was sexual harassment violating my body, propositioning me -- inviting me to hotels with the guise of discussing business, and then proposition me to, you know -- for sex.

And he's just violated my body. He has touched me in different ways and it was very uncomfortable and very unprofessional.


HILL: Do you believe Marion Brown?

LAWRENCE: I don't disbelieve her. Her conversation and her reporting, it's heartbreaking. It's heartbreaking on a lot of levels.

She's a woman, I'm a woman. I don't expect to come to the workforce and be treated that way.

But what do we want to do with a woman who comes forward and confronts us with this kind of treatment in Congress? We have a responsibility. It's easy to stand in front of a camera and say someone should resign, hoping that they get to the right decision.

It's leadership and it's transformational when we come together as elected officials in this house and change the process.

[07:45:00] This woman went through the process of filing a complaint. She is now coming forward. And we -- where did we go wrong in Congress that that could be -- that could happen?

And so, I'm not -- I'm not -- I'm not saying that we should not expect an accountability and due process. There is the option, and understand what that is. It's an option for any member of Congress -- Franken, other members of Congress to step forward in this moment --

HILL: Yes.

LAWRENCE: -- and to resign.

But to me, my energy is focused on making this place one that we are having zero tolerance. And that's why I proposed the legislation --

HILL: Right, but it --

LAWRENCE: -- for mandatory training.

HILL: But, Congresswoman, in terms of that zero tolerance, let's look at how these things are being handled so very differently. And this is a conversation --

LAWRENCE: Exactly, exactly.

HILL: -- that many Americans are having. But how they're being handled differently in Washington versus corporate America.

You can't ignore the headlines that we saw this week. There were allegations that were brought forth to NBC. Matt Lauer, arguably one of the most powerful men not only at that network but in broadcast journalism, was fired.

Swift action was taken. We have seen that across the board and it's getting quicker in the wake of Harvey Weinstein.

It is not getting quicker when we look at Washington. And we keep hearing about yes, there should be due process. Yes, there should be an investigation. I guess that things work differently in Washington.

But is the only day that lawmakers are now going to be held accountable is on Election Day? Is that the only day of reckoning?

LAWRENCE: And that's what we're confronting and that's why I'm here today is because we have to change that. I think there should be a higher level of standard for us, as elected officials. But our process right now -- we are limited to a member of Congress voluntarily resigning or going through the ethics process.

I agree with you 100 percent. We've got to change it because I agree with you. I agree.

When I see the swift action that is happening in industry and then we're confronted, what do we do when this is -- we're slapped in the face with this?

HILL: Well then, why not -- why not call for him to resign? Why not push a little bit more if you want to see things change? If you want to see the ways things are handled changed, stand up and be that voice perhaps in a different way. Would that be more effective?

LAWRENCE: John Conyers is in the hospital right now and I am standing here today as a member of Congress representing the city of Detroit as Con used to. And I'm saying Mr. Conyers, for me, has a period of time to return from the hospital and get healthy enough to make that announcement or make that decision.

And we will be moving forward. You will be hearing from me. I'm not going to stand here today demanding -- or, not demanding but talking about resignation when we have work to do.

I am -- I am -- my stomach is turning. This is real for me. I investigated EEO complaints.

And so it is this moment where it's comfortable to stand in front of a camera and say he should demand -- he should resign.

First of all, I will be making that decision and I'm giving myself and Mr. Conyers the time for him to do that and get out of the hospital.

But secondly, I want us to understand saying that he should resign and then leaving the camera is not fixing the problem. Are we here to fix this problem or are we going to continue to have women come forward and just stand in front of a camera and say he should resign?

HILL: Well, we look forward to seeing more and learning more about what fixing the problem will look like.

LAWRENCE: I agree.

HILL: And also, you said you're taking some time. Come back and let us know when you --


HILL: -- have made that decision.

Representative Brenda Lawrence, appreciate it. LAWRENCE: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right.

Our next story is about an officer's unbelievable sacrifice for a child whose mother battled drug addiction. Find out how he went beyond the call of duty, next.


[07:52:50] CUOMO: Now, to an incredible story of selflessness. A police officer's encounter with a heroin-addicted woman affected him so much that he was compelled to help in an extraordinary way.

CNN's Ed Lavandera explains in "Beyond the Call of Duty."


ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Heroin and crystal meth control Crystal Champ's life.


LAVANDERA: The strangling grip of addiction has left her homeless on the streets of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

CHAMP: I did give up, you know. I just decided that this was going to be my life.

LAVANDERA: Living in a tent --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to home.

LAVANDERA: -- in the brush alongside a highway.

CHAMP: I know how bad it is, you know. I mean, I'm the first one to know how bad my situation is and --

LAVANDERA: For Crystal, the thought of a guardian angel walking into her life was unimaginable but that's what happened when Albuquerque police officer Ryan Holets found Crystal and her companion, Tom --


LAVANDERA: -- shooting up heroin behind a convenient store in September.

HOLETS: It looks like you guys are getting ready to shoot up over here.

LAVANDERA: Ryan Holets, a father of four, wasn't ready for what he noticed next.

HOLETS: Are you pregnant?

Yes, it's not every day that I see a sight like that and it just -- and it just made me really sad.

HOLETS: How far along are you?

CHAMP: Seven or eight months.

HOLETS: Oh my gosh.

CHAMP: And he goes and you're -- and you're pregnant?

HOLETS: Why are you going to be doing that stuff? It's going to ruin your baby. You're going to kill your baby.

LAVANDERA: His words brought Crystal to tears.

CHAMP: How dare you judge me? You have no idea how hard this is. You have no idea. And I know what a horrible person I am and the horrible situation I'm in.

LAVANDERA: In that instant, the moment changed.

CHAMP: His entire being changed. He just became a human being instead of a police officer.

LAVANDERA: A crazy, overwhelming idea crept into Ryan's mind.

HOLETS: Realizing that she was desperately wanting someone to adopt the baby, I just felt God telling me tell her that you will do it because you can -- you can. And so --

[07:55:13] LAVANDERA: Three weeks later Crystal Champ gave birth and Ryan Holets and his wife agreed to adopt the baby they named Hope.

HOLETS: I've gotten tired of seeing so many situations where I want to help but I can't and in that moment I realized that I had a chance to help.

LAVANDERA: Hope suffered through withdrawals during weeks of medical treatment but she's gaining weight now and doing well.

CHAMP: Her father and me love her, you know, very, very much and we did not give her up because he didn't want her.

LAVANDERA: But, Crystal remains an addict and admits she's in no place to care for a baby.

CHAMP: I just want her to be safe and secure and, you know, be in a family and be loved, and have a chance, you know?

HOLETS: I am so thankful and blessed and humbled that we are allowed to have Hope in our family.

LAVANDERA (on camera): When you think about what it took for all the stars to align for you two to connect in the back of that convenient store parking lot --

HOLETS: No coincidence. LAVANDERA: -- it's just crazy, right?

HOLETS: It's live providence (ph). We'll be there for her and whatever struggles that she has, we'll be there and we'll work through it. And that's what makes me happy, that we'll be there for her.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): For Officer Ryan Holets it's proof that even in the darkest moments you never know when love and hope will reveal itself.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Albuquerque, New Mexico.


HILL: That's quite a story.

CUOMO: I have to tell you something. We do these because we want to reinforce the nature of duty and what that means for the men and women who do their job out there.

But I have to tell you, you do not see people like this man --


CUOMO: -- and his wife. You know, we didn't get to meet his wife but obviously, this commitment to adopt --

HILL: Yes.

CUOMO: -- had as much to do with her, if not even more, than it did with him.

But, holy cow, what an exercise of love --

HILL: Yes.

CUOMO: -- and of faith, and a belief in what this child can be despite the circumstances that you're starting at.

HILL: And what a perfect name for her, Hope.

CUOMO: Holy cow.

HILL: Tensions escalating between President Trump and his secretary of state. So why won't the man famous for saying "you're fired" take action if he's so unhappy with Rex Tillerson?



SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: We're on the cusp of a great victory for the country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Republican leaders scrambling to salvage their tax bill. PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The issue, the debt, the deficit. Senator Corker making very clear he needs a solution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody's seen the bill. It's not the way the Senate's supposed to work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump phoned several top Republicans in the Senate to wrap up the Russia investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the president --