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Trump, GOP Celebrate Passage Of Landmark Tax Bill; U.N. To Vote On Trump's Jerusalem Decision; Tax Bill Win Leads To GOP Lovefest; Can Obamacare Survive. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired December 21, 2017 - 07:30   ET



[07:31:28] BILL WEIR, CNN ANCHOR: Well, President Trump is celebrating his first landmark legislative achievement as Congress passed that sweeping tax overhaul yesterday. GOP leaders pushing that legislation through without a single Democratic vote.

What can be done to stop the partisan process that's taken over Congress?

Here to discuss, former senator Joe Lieberman, former vice presidential candidate. Great to see you.


WEIR: Happy holidays to you.

LIEBERMAN: You, too.

WEIR: So what is your take on the action yesterday? Much of the story of our reporting was unlike the Obamacare repeal and replace failure.


WEIR: There was incredible Republican discipline. They went off of the Hill, kept everybody contained. Nobody went rogue to kill this thing and throttle it in the cradle.


WEIR: Ultimately, your takeaway from what this means for America today?

LIEBERMAN: Yes, OK. First, on the process, you're right. It reminded me of the Obamacare adoption in, I guess it was 2009 -- no Republican votes.

I mean, great changes like this and the tax bill yesterday really should have bipartisan support because it means it will last longer. But, here again, that's not what's happening in Congress today. So it wasn't bipartisan but they did get something done, and it is significant and you've got to say that it's a victory for the president.

Even though the tax bill itself is unpopular now, I think it's going to get more popular as the year goes on because the truth is, in the short-term, and that's eight years until 2025, most Americans will see a tax cut.

WEIR: Moderate, meanwhile.

LEIBERMAN: Yes, yes.

WEIR: But I was just reading some actually pretty sobering statistics. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found that this bill gives $5 billion more to foreign investors than the bottom 80 percent of all the Trump states combined.


WEIR: Do you believe that income inequality is a problem that needs to be addressed, and what does this bill do towards that?

LIEBERMAN: I do. I mean, let's talk about the broader context.

The American economy has had remarkable continued strength where is the long recovery from the recession that began in 2007-2008. Three percent growth now, unemployment down four percent.

But there are problems. Long-term unemployed left out of the prosperity and basically, the middle-class seeing their income stagnate. People at the top making a lot more money.

I mean, if I was designing a tax bill I would have had it focus much more on the middle-income people and I would have had it give tax breaks to businesses, but only in return for doing things that create jobs. In other words -- and we've done this before. Or giving a tax break if you invest in new equipment or new plants and all because that usually is good for the economy.

WEIR: But there's no enforcement mechanism for this. It's like we're relying on the goodness of the hearts of CEOs.

LIEBERMAN: The goodness -- right. And, you know, we'll see what happens. So the cut down to 21 percent is a big cut -- costs us a lot.

Look, bottom line, my biggest bottom line concern about what happened yesterday is the effect on the debt. I mean, this is just an enormous iceberg that the American ship of state (ph) is heading toward. At a minimum, this is going to add $1 trillion dollars to the debt. Some say $2 trillion over the next 10 years.

That's a number but it means something to my kids -- and my kids and my grandchildren, and your kids because they're going to be paying it and it's going to squeeze our federal spending in a lot of other areas like defense and homeland security that matter a lot to me.

[07:35:10] WEIR: Right. I know something else that matters a lot to you is the nation of



WEIR: You've been engaged on that part of the globe for a long time and I want to get your take on what's been happening at the United Nations.

Nikki Haley tweeted, talking about the embassy move --


WEIR: -- from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem there.

"We don't expect those we've helped to target us" -- with a vote. "On Thursday, there will be a vote criticizing our choice. The U.S. will be taking names."

LIEBERMAN: Yes. Well, Ambassador Haley's comments and then the comments the president made were unconventional -- perhaps, in some ways, unprecedented -- but honestly, they didn't bother me. They're a natural human reaction to something that goes on.

These U.S. General Assembly votes, particularly -- which there's one coming up maybe today which will criticize the Trump administration for what it did -- are kind of showboats. They don't mean anything. And, Ambassador Haley and President Trump are saying they mean something to us and if you're a friend of ours think twice before you vote to criticize the president.

In my opinion, what the president did on Jerusalem was right. I mean, in 1995 I was one of I think 93 senators who voted to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. As an American, why should anybody else or now, the United Nations, tell us where we can place our embassy?

It happens that Israel is the -- Israel, one of our closest allies in the world, is the only country in the world where we don't have our embassy where the host country says this is our capital.

And I know people are worried about the effect this will have on the peace process. What President Trump did and said about Jerusalem doesn't -- it only says we recognize this as the capital of the state of Israel.

It doesn't say what the borders of that capital are going to be. So it's still open to negotiation between the Israelis and Palestinians and I think everybody understands that they'll be negotiation about Jerusalem's borders if we get to that day, hopefully soon, when we can have a two-state solution.

WEIR: No worries about it enflaming tensions there?

LIEBERMAN: Well, it has somewhat, but compared to what people were predicting it's been quite manageable. WEIR: Yes.

LIEBERMAN: And I think it's because the big conflicts in the Middle East today are really between radicals and extremists on one side and moderates and mainstream Muslims, Arabs on the other. And particularly, focused around Iran and al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

It's not to say that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not important to settle. It's very important. In fact, we're at a point where the Israelis and the Arab nations are quietly working really closely together because they have common enemies -- Iran and the Jihadists.

But that close cooperation is not going to go public and really blossom unless there's progress on the Israeli-Palestinian front, and that's why we have to continue to work at it.

WEIR: Joe Lieberman, great to see you.

LIEBERMAN: You, too.

WEIR: Happy holidays to you.

LIEBERMAN: Happy holidays.

WEIR: Well, the Palin family fight moves to the courtroom for Track's bail hearing. Who was there, who was not? We'll show you, next.


[07:42:53] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We do have breaking news from Melbourne, Australia. Police say the driver who deliberately drove into a group of pedestrians has no known links to terrorism. That crash injured 19 people, including the driver and the off-duty officer who arrested him.

Officials say the 32-year-old suspect has a history of drug abuse and mental health issues.

WEIR: Another North Korean soldier defects to South Korea, becoming the second to cross the demilitarized zone in just the past few months.

South Korea's military fired about 20 warning shots as North Korean troops appeared to search for the escaped soldier.

Another elite soldier shot multiple times while dramatically escaping to the South last month but was airlifted to a trauma unit. They saved his life but also found he was full of parasitic worms, an indication of daily life --

CAMEROTA: The conditions.

WEIR: -- in that hermetically-sealed kingdom.

CAMEROTA: All right. Sarah Palin's eldest son Track is out on bail with electronic monitoring. Track Palin is facing burglary and assault charges. Police say he broke into his parent's home, then beat his father, Todd, all in a dispute over a truck.

Neither Sarah nor Todd Palin attended this court hearing after seeking a restraining order against their son. But, Todd Palin did call in to the court saying the family ready to reestablish contact with Track.

WEIR: Olympic gold medalist Makayla Maroney says USA Gymnastics paid her to stay quiet about abuse by the team's longtime doctor, Larry Nasser. Now, she is suing the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, and Michigan State University, which employed Nassar.

Maroney's attorney says she is the victim of child sexual abuse in California and thus, cannot be forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison on child porn charges earlier this month. He also admitted to using his position to sexually abuse underage girls.

CAMEROTA: That's fascinating. There are many things that trump a non-disclosure, including crimes like that.

Meanwhile, on a lighter note, the Republican victory lap on tax reform was a big old lovefest and it included a lot of presidential flattery.

CNN's Jeanne Moos has some thoughts on this.

[07:45:00] (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This image says it all. President Trump hailing the Republicans who passed the tax reform bill; the Republicans hailing the chief. In fact, it was one big hail-fest.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: You're one heck of a leader.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Could not have been done without exquisite presidential leadership.

HATCH: And we're going to make this the greatest presidency that we've seen not only in generations but maybe, ever.

MOOS: Even President Trump seemed taken aback by that wet kiss.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Paul Ryan just said how good was that?

MOOS: The president has been tweeting and talking about the tax cuts being a Christmas gift and his fellow Republicans echoed that theme.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can say Merry Christmas.


MOOS: President Trump was so merry that when he thanked Congressman Steve Scalise he made light of the fact that Scalise was shot and almost killed by a gunman at baseball practice.

TRUMP: It's a helluva way to lose weight, Steve. You said you lost.

MOOS: Passing tax relief seemed like a weight off the GOP's shoulders.

TRUMP: We are making America great again.

PENCE: You will make America great again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is America's comeback.

MOOS: Remember when the president used to say --

TRUMP: We're going to win so much you may even get tired of winning. You may get bored with winning.

MOOS: Do they look bored to you?

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


CAMEROTA: I'm not sure anyone's been bored over the past year. I'm not sure that's the right adjective.

WEIR: And I just wonder how those moments will be -- come back to life in campaign ads in 2018.

CAMEROTA: Look, we'll see. I mean, we'll see. Obviously, if the tax cut works and Americans love it and start seeing lots more on their paycheck, then those moments will still be celebrated.

WEIR: We'll see.


WEIR: President Trump is boasting, of course, that this reform bill, in addition to being a Christmas present, also kills Obamacare, but can Obamacare survive without the individual mandate?

One of the architects of the program joins us next.


[07:51:12] WEIR: Lawmakers are facing a looming Friday deadline to keep the government funded and open and right now, there is no agreement in sight.

One causality in this stalemate could be the Children's Health Insurance Program or CHIP. Nine million kids rely on that program for health insurance which has not had federal funding since the end of September.

And joining us now with analysis, former Obama White House health policy adviser, Dr. Zeke Emanuel. Doctor, happy holidays. Good to see you.

DR. ZEKE EMANUEL, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE HEALTH POLICY ADVISER: Nice to be here. I wish it were under better circumstances for health care in this country.

WEIR: I understand. As Republicans celebrate this legislative victory, folks on your side of the aisle are really showing consternation.

And then, they were sort of framing it yesterday in Christmas carol terms as the Ebenezer Scrooge's, you know, order bottle service over the holidays you've got nine million Tiny Tim's out there.

Is it that stark? Is there a risk of these -- of this --

EMANUEL: Oh, yes.

Look, when CHIP was passed in 1997, about 15 percent of children didn't have health insurance. They fell in some kind of gap. The employer didn't cover it. They weren't -- their parents were making too much money for Medicaid.

CHIP has brought that down to under five percent, so a huge improvement in this country.

The Republicans have not funded CHIP. The money ran out on September 30th. States are limping along on money that hadn't been spent yet.

It's estimated that by the end of February -- by the end of January, 25 states will run out of money. And by the end of February, about a third of the children covered by CHIP. So, three million kids will lose health insurance. That does sound like Ebenezer Scrooge.

You're giving corporations $1.3 trillion in tax cuts and you can't find $16 billion a year for children in this country. Something is wrong with that equation. If we really believe in the future here we've got to invest in our children.

WEIR: Let's talk about the president's claim that this basically repeals Obamacare because it strips away the individual mandate.

Here's has what's been taken away. The mandate effective in 2019. Cost-sharing subsidies for insurance companies.

But what remains is Medicaid expansion, the preexisting condition coverage that was very popular, no lifetime cap on benefits and subsidies to low- and moderate-income customers.

So losing that mandate, what does that do, effectively?

EMANUEL: Look, that is going to have an effect. We're going to see four million people lose their health insurance and many people face substantially higher premiums. They estimate it's about cutting out the mandate and the four million people losing coverage and not contributing to the system is actually going to increase premiums for a lot of people in the exchanges by about 10 percent. That is a substantial increase.

And remember, those people -- those families that aren't getting a federal government subsidy -- those people are the people who are going to be hit the hardest because they have to pay the full cost of the health coverage. And that, if it goes up another 10 percent, is a real hit to people.

That's why when the Republicans say people will choose whether they get health coverage or not. It's not a choice. If you can't afford it because the Republicans have just jacked up rates by repealing the cautionary subsidies and repealing the mandate -- they've actually jacked up the rates by about 20 percent.

This is Trumpcare. You're seeing how ugly it is.

By the end of the tax -- by 2026, we're going to see about 13 million people -- Americans -- have less health insurance. That hardly sounds like progress in this country.

And most Americans now have been very clear they think everyone in the country ought to get health insurance and if they can't afford it themselves, their employers are not giving it to them, then they, the government, should help. And the Republicans are doing a very good job of stripping that away.

[07:55:03] It's not going to be very popular in the country when people are suffering, and some people will die because they don't have health insurance.

WEIR: Yes. The Republicans are saying, actually, repealing that mandate is an added tax cut in a way because a lot of folks who had to pay the penalty made less than $50,000 or so.

But do you think that this will lead to more folks using the emergency room, essentially, as their primary health care?

EMANUEL: Actually, what we understand is that a lot of people will forestall using care and when they come in they'll be more expensive because their diseases will be -- won't be treated. Or they won't get preventative services and then 10 years down the line their blood pressure will be out of control. They'll have a stroke or they'll have a heart attack.

Those are the problems and they're very -- you know, you don't immediately see it. It takes a few years to see the effects because a lot of -- a lot of these effects are on chronic illnesses that don't pop up immediately.

Remember, when people go to the emergency room, emergency rooms have an obligation to treat them for lifesaving conditions.

But, it's the long-term problems. It's investing in the future that this bill and not having Obamacare undercuts and that's, I think, the message here.

This is not about the future. When you add $1.5 trillion to the deficit that our kids have to pay and you take health insurance away from our children, that's not about investing in the future. That is about just spreading the spoils to those who already have a lot. And depriving children again, of the care and the good start in life that we want them all to have.

WEIR: President Trump obviously made no secrets about his hopes to sabotage the whole thing, including not encouraging people to enroll.


WEIR: Some of the states, like California, are trying to fill that void and push it on their own.

Could that happen where it's a state-by-state thing, or as Obamacare as we know it, could it die?

EMANUEL: I don't think Obamacare is going to die because as you pointed out, the Medicaid expansion is still there and I think a lot of states are going to need that money.

I think one of the things you'll find is states like California, or New York, or New Jersey are going to pass their own individual mandate, which they perfectly well can. The funds for -- to get subsidized in the exchanges will still be there, so larger states and states that have used some of their own resources from the exchanges to actually encourage people to sign up will probably survive well.

But then, you'll have the smaller exchanges in states where Republicans rule. Places like Kansas will probably face serious problems, maybe even a death spiral as sick people continue to buy insurance, healthy people find it unaffordable or undesirable without a mandate, and the result will be that you can't have insurance. Then what are you going to do with those people?

What's interesting is the Republicans have never solved that problem. If you don't have functioning exchanges and you don't provide a mechanism for people to get insurance, what's the solution? Republicans don't have an answer.

That pushes more and more people to say well, maybe the government ought to take over and expand coverage. Exactly the opposite of what Republicans want.

So this -- you know, when you don't have ideas to put forward as a substitute, you end up in a situation where you might actually encourage the very thing you don't want.

Interestingly, most conservative health policy experts -- people like Jim Capretta from the American Enterprise Institute -- they're actually for the individual mandate. They are for continuing the exchanges because the alternative they recognize is not desirable for this country.

WEIR: Oh, yes. That individual mandate, a Republican idea going back to Mitt Romney in Massachusetts, right? But that's --

EMANUEL: Actually, before Mitt Romney

WEIR: Before him.

EMANUEL: -- in Massachusetts.

It has the fingerprints of the Heritage Foundation on it.

WEIR: Right.

EMANUEL: It was only when the Democrats embraced it that Republicans decided maybe we don't want this. That's just to say if my enemy likes something then I can't possibly like it without looking at the merits of it.

WEIR: Yes.

EMANUEL: That is very, very bad policy for this country.

WEIR: Dr. Zeke Emanuel, happy holidays to you. Thank you, sir.

EMANUEL: Happy holidays to you, too. I wish it were a better moment.

WEIR: Appreciate your time.

Well, we're following a lot of news so let's get to it.


TRUMP: It's always a lot of fun when you win.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: There are only two places where America's popping champagne, the White House and the corporate boardrooms.

HATCH: You're one heck of a leader. This bill could not have passed without you.

TRUMP: The individual mandate is being repealed. That means Obamacare is being repealed.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: It isn't up to us to keep the government open. It's up to them. They have the votes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think anybody is advocating for a shutdown right now. We think that Congress will do the right thing.

SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: To remove Special Counsel Mueller would be a gross abuse of power.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: Most of Mueller's team is anti-Trump. What concerns me is the intent to carry out a plan to disrupt the elections.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The willingness to just torch the whole FBI building to advance this narrative is very troubling.


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

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your new day. It is Thursday, December 21st, 8:00 in the east.

Chris is off; Bill Weir joins me.

Another big day --

WEIR: Good morning.

CAMEROTA: -- on Capitol Hill that we'll be talking about.

WEIR: Big day.