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GOP's Obamacare Overhaul; New Travel Ban in Effect; Trump Emphasizes U.S. Commitment to Japan & S. Korea. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired March 7, 2017 - 04:30   ET



[04:30:51] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The Republican plan to replace Obamacare is finally here, but not everyone is on board. What's in the plan and how will it impact your health coverage?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And the president's new travel ban in effect. Are we in for the same chaos? Can the new ban withstand legal challenges on the way? What's different?

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: And I'm Dave Briggs.

Twitter can be a bad place, but it can be a funny place if you check the hashtag right now, #Americanhealthcare. So, they are comparing the old plan with the new plan with pictures as Twitter tends to do. Check out --

ROMANS: Oh, my gosh. That is a little much for me at 4:00 a.m. to be on Twitter.

BRIGGS: At 4:00 a.m., people are talking about healthcare on Twitter. That's a positive.

ROMANS: That's where we are.

BRIGGS: That's a net win.

After years of fervent promises to repeal and replace, the Republicans trying to dismantle Obamacare finally at the starting gate, but just the starting gate. Republican leaders still face a tough job rallying support on their side. This might be branded as repeal, but it keeps several popular components of Obamacare.

It also would bring major changes in two key areas, the insurance mandate and Medicaid expansion, along with another provision already getting pushback, allowing insurers to hike premiums for people who let their coverage lapse for any reason.

ROMANS: President Trump signaling support for the effort, with a tweet with the POTUS account. "House just introduced the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. Time to end this nightmare." And the White House adding, "Today marks an important step toward

restoring health care choices and affordability back to the American people. President Trump looks forward to working with both chambers of Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare."

The president and Republican leaders have got their work cut out for them with factions in both chambers already expressing reservations.

Our coverage begins with Phil Mattingly on Capitol Hill.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, this is the moment Republicans had promised would come for years. Election cycle after cycle, the Obamacare repeal bill is officially here. It's public. It's no longer secret. And it includes a lot of provisions the Republicans say will make the insurance market much better for individuals, even those who benefitted from Obamacare itself.

Now, the core components of this actually aren't brand new. Republicans have stated that they would be in many of the plans before. The repeal of the individual and employer mandate. The moving forward of individuals on their parent's health insurance to the age of 26, also including the current ban on denying individuals with pre-existing conditions coverage.

All of those are key elements that at least two of them were in Obamacare itself, a popular element that they want to keep in there. Two major issues that are in this bill right now that Republicans themselves need to reconcile. How they provide subsidy for Americans? Now, the repealing the Obamacare subsidy over the course of three years, those will be replaced by refundable tax credits. These tax credits will go up from $2,000 to $4,000 based on age and they also be capped depending on your income level.

The other major issue here is Medicaid. A number of different states took that Medicaid expansion that was offered in Obamacare. Now, those states will be allowed to continue growing those roles until January 1st, 2020. That is compromised language trying to reach out to many red state senators that are concerned about what will happen to that program. Now, those states that did not expand, they will get money as well, so they are not punished by not taking them, which a lot of conservatives asked them not to do.

Now, what's the pathway forward? It's going to be difficult. Something Senate majority Leader Mitch McConnell made very clear on Monday.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: The House will be working this week as well to move forward with legislation, that under a new president who will actually sign it can finally help us pursue smarter health care solutions in place of this failed partisan experiment. We know the task before us is daunting, but, of course, it is just as necessary. MATTINGLY: And, guys, it's not just the U.S. Senate that Republicans

have to worry about. Even though they control the Senate and they control the House, it's the House Republican conference that they have to worry about. Still unclear whether or not House Speaker Paul Ryan will have the requisite number of votes to actually move this through.

But we're going to start getting answers quickly. House Republicans return tonight.

[04:35:01] House Republicans start moving, start marking up this legislation in the two committees that are responsible for it on Wednesday. After that, House Republicans say they want this on the House floor within the next couple weeks.

So, things are going to start moving quickly. But what that means is House Republican leaders need to get their members in line quickly. Still, a lot of concern whether or not conservatives would go along with certain aspects, whether or not moderates will go along with certain aspects. Those are answers that Speaker Paul Ryan needs and he needs them fast -- guys.


BRIGGS: Phil has his work cut out for him today.

Republicans start their public sales pitch for the repeal bill this morning with an 11:00 a.m. news conference by the chairmen of the committees that drafted the measure. Speaker Paul Ryan out front defending the plan, saying it will drive down costs and give Americans access to affordable health insurance. But key Republicans are holding out, including the former chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, Jim Jordan, who cited the taxes the bill keeps in place through a year-long transition period.

Jordan saying CNN, "I don't see significant changes. It is significantly the same thing to me. So, it sort of doesn't change my position. We put on President Obama's desk to get rid of the taxes and we put a bill and a Republican Congress is going to put a Republican president's desk a bill that keeps taxes in place?"

On the Democratic side, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi who helped pass Obamacare eight years ago also slamming the bill. She says, in part, "Republicans will force tens of millions of families to pay more for worse coverage. Republicans have decided that affordable health care should be the privilege of the wealthy. Not the right of every family in America."

ROMANS: Well, the health care bill will likely change a lot before it lands on the President Trump's desk. It's already possible to see who the winners and losers could be in this legislation. More lower income folks could be left uninsured. Obamacare expanded Medicaid completely or subsidize a large amount of health care costs for low income adults. There's more than 11 million people right now. People making $20,000 a year take a big hit under the GOP plan. On average, a 27-year-old would get $2,000 instead of more than $3,000 under Obamacare on average. But good news for young Americans. Under Obamacare, these people

subsidized older and sicker Americans. Now they could save $700 to $4,000 a year, according to one study. And the rich will get a hefty tax cut under the new bill. Taxes on the top 1 percent help pay for Obamacare. Now, they'll get a tax cut averaging $33,000.

The other day, President Trump signing the new revised travel ban would have been our top story. Today, it's further down but no less important. Another long legal battle against the version of the plan, but there are key changes this time. Among them, the version drops Iraq. So, now the ban now blocks from six countries, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Blocks them from obtaining visas for 90 days and suspends admissions of refugees into the U.S. for 120 days.

Also, travelers can be granted waivers to come to the United States. That decision made on a case by case basis. The new version also removes language prioritizing the admission of religious minorities and exempts citizens of the six banned countries who are green card holders or have valid visas.

BRIGGS: Also, in an effort to avoid the chaos of the first rollout, the revised ban will be phased in, March 16th. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly says other countries are also being looked at for extreme vetting.


JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I don't believe the list will be expanded, but there are countries out there that we will ask like Iraq has done by the involvement of their prime minister to cooperate with us better, to get us the information we need. There's probably 13 or 14 other countries. Not all of the Muslim countries, not all of them in the Middle East.


BRIGGS: Trump signed executive order away from the view of reporters and news cameras after more than three weeks of repeated delays. The first version was blocked by federal courts.

ROMANS: Homeland Security Chief John Kelly also confirming his department is considering a plan to separate undocumented children from their parents at the Mexican border. Kelly says the practice could deter attempts to illegally enter the country, as well as prevent the exploitation of children. If the plan is enacted, undocumented children will be placed with health and human services or linked up with relatives already in the country.

One of the things the DHS has said that they've seen and they have been concerned about are people taking other people's children, people using children who aren't theirs just so they can try to get priority. At this point, when you come in with a family, often, you are brought in to the country and you are let in to the country and told to come back for a hearing. Of course, there's an unfortunate phrase of runners. People come,

they say they'll come to their first appointment with immigration authorities and they never come back.

BRIGGS: Kelly did a nice job, though, articulating the need for this with Wolf Blitzer yesterday as opposed to the hateful rhetoric that has been tossed about at least as more of an intellectual and safety argument here on CNN yesterday.

Is the White House confident in the FBI director following the president's acquisition of wiretaps after his election?

[04:40:06] Hear what Trump spokesman says, coming up.


ROMANS: The White House moving to calm the chaos triggered by the president's claim that Trump Tower was wiretapped by President Obama. A source telling CNN FBI Director James Comey was incredulous over the weekend after the president tweeted the allegation. Comey feeling he had to, quote, pushback because the accusation could make the FBI look bad. The director also said to be frustrated with the Department of Justice for not responding to his request to knock down the story.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer not exactly offering up a ringing endorsement of the FBI boss.


REPORTER: What's the president's view of James Comey right now? Does he have the full faith and confidence to stay on as FBI director?

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I'm not -- I don't think -- we only heard unsubstantiated anonymous sources make those claims.

[04:45:03] I don't think Director Comey has actually commented on anything that he has allegedly said. So, I'm not going to comment on what people say he might have said. I think the director is more than capable of speaking for himself.


BRIGGS: Meanwhile, former CIA Director Michael Hayden is blasting the president and pro-Trump media outlets like Breitbart. He says both are advancing, quote, "an illegitimate world view."


MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: The president of the United States put his reputation, the reputation of his predecessor and the reputation of this nation at risk to get at least a draw out of the next 24 hour news.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGG: President Trump did not address the wiretap claims on Monday. The first weekday that he took office that he had no on-camera events. We will hear from Sean Spicer today at 1:30 when he takes questions on camera. He will be under fire clearly.

ROMANS: All right. I know, it's going to be appointment viewing actually.

BRIGGS: It will be.

ROMANS: Confirmation hearings for deputy attorney general nominees typically don't get attention. But a lot of people will be watching at 10:00 a.m. Eastern when the Senate Judiciary Committee takes up the nomination of Rod Rosenstein. He is Maryland's top federal prosecutor and was tapped for deputy attorney general by President Trump in January.

Because his potential boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has recused himself from investigations involving the administration and Russia, Rosenstein is in line to oversee those investigations if he's confirmed. Sessions is now digging in on the claims his answers about Russian contacts to the Senate Judiciary Committee were correct. He says he did not mention two meetings with the Russian ambassador because the question did not ask about them and because he was not at those meetings as a member of the Trump campaign.

BRIGGS: HUD Secretary Ben Carson trying to clarify his remarks likening slaves to immigrants who choose to come to America. Dr. Carson was speaking to this staff at Housing and Urban Development on Monday, praising the work ethic of immigrants before comparing them to slaves, who were forced to come to this country.



DR. BEN CARSON, SECRETARY, DEPT. OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT: This is what America is about, a land of dreams and opportunities. There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships worked even longer, even harder for less. But they, too, had a dream.


BRIGGS: After making that remark, Dr. Carson had a chance to explain what he meant in a radio interview, but instead doubled down on this controversial comment.


CARSON: Whether you are legal or illegal, you come from the outside to inside. You're an immigrant. Slaves came here as involuntary immigrants, but they still had the strength to hold on.


BRIGGS: With the Backlash growing, Dr. Carson eventually released this statement. Quote, "The slave narrative and the immigrant narrative are two entirely different experiences. Immigrants made the choice to come to America. In contrast, slaves were forced here against their will and lost all of their opportunities. The two experiences should never been intertwined nor forgotten." Nor should that statement, Mr. Carson.

Well, we now know the cause of death of the actor Bill Paxton. According to the death certificate, Paxton suffered a stroke following heart surgery last month. Paxton was best known for his roles in blockbuster films like "Twister", "Aliens" and "Titanic." Another TV work including big love. He was 61 years old. So talented.

ROMANS: Just too young. Just too young. After a body great, just too young. Our thoughts with his family.

All right. Forty-eight minutes past the hour.

Silicon Valley may not like many of Donald Trump's policies, but its investors are not concerned. An early start on your money next.


[04:53:03] ROMANS: Iraqi forces taking control of Mosul's main government buildings in an overnight raid. Soldiers seized the judicial complex and supreme court building along with a museum. This gives Iraqi forces better access to fight thousand of ISIS militants near the old city.

CNN senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman is live in Irbil, Iraq, with more this morning.

And we know the Iraqi prime minister is in Mosul this morning. What can you tell us?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he's come to basically see the progress and the battle. The progress has been fairly impressive. The offensive to take west Mosul began two and a half weeks ago, and already, they have taken part of the city. Since October, three quarters of Mosul has been liberated from ISIS.

Now, as you mentioned, they made dramatic -- Iraqi forces made dramatic progress in the last 24 hours, taking this government complex which is just adjacent to Mosul's old city where it is believed many of the ISIS fighters have retreated to. And among the buildings they took was central bank and museum of Mosul, which until ISIS took over this city, it was full of treasures going back 5,000 years.

But in February of 2015, ISIS members went in with sledgehammers and power drills and destroyed many of the priceless artifacts that are there and it is believed those that they could, they sold on the black market for antiquities. Now, as far as Iraqi reaction to the country's removal from the executive travel ban, executive order, Iraqis yesterday expressed satisfaction and relief that the country is no longer, that the citizens are no longer banned from traveling to the United States.

But it seems that 24 hours later, they refocused their attention on Mosul.

[04:55:03] This morning, I had a look at the front pages of the Baghdad's main newspapers, not a single mention of the travel ban -- Christine.

ROMANS: Interesting, so interesting. I mean, survival is happening there on a very big scale.

All right. Thank you so much, Ben Wedeman, for us in Irbil, Iraq.

BRIGGS: Dialogue about North Korea now underway at highest levels following that country's latest round of missile launches. President Trump speaking with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the acting president of South Korea. Now, a special U.S. defense is being deployed to South Korea.

CNN's international correspondent Will Ripley has more from Tokyo.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, I'm at the Japanese defense ministry and I want you to look at this behind me, because this really underscores the danger this region faces from North Korean missiles. These are Patriot missile interceptors. There are two of them here put in place to protect the more than 20 million people living in the Tokyo metropolitan area from the threat from Pyongyang and its unpredictable leader Kim Jong-un.

He ordered a ballistic missile test and there were four missiles launched towards Japan, three of them landing within 200 nautical miles of the Japanese coast. And as advanced as these systems are, I am told they are not foolproof, that if multiple missiles are launched at once, this system could be overwhelmed. They may not be able to stop for example a nuclear-tipped missile from raining down on a highly populated area.

That is why the Japanese prime minister said this is really a new threat they have not seen before as North Korea's technical capacity continues to increase. We know that President Trump spoke on the phone with the Japanese prime minister, reassuring him that Japan has the United States' 100 percent support. There was a similar conversation that happened between President Trump and the acting president of South Korea.

Also in South Korea, the first components of another missile defense system, the THAAD missile system, has started to roll into the country. Those will be put in place. The U.S. says to help defend the more than 10 million people in Seoul. Nearly 30,000 U.S. troops there.

However, Beijing and Moscow very upset about this. They view the insulation of that technology as a provocative act. From the U.S. perspective, this is crucial to protect highly populated areas from a growing North Korea threat -- Dave and Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ROMANS: All right. More excellent reporting from Will Ripley in Tokyo -- thanks, Will.

Let's get a check on CNN money this morning.

U.S. stock futures barely moving. Yesterday was a down day for stocks. The Dow fell 50.

Snap's honeymoon may be over. Look at this, Snapchat's parent company tanked more than 12 points yesterday and ended below its opening day price of 24 bucks. The stock Snap soared 44 percent of its IPO price on its first day of trading, it jumps 11 percent on Friday and then it's now waned.

Critics have been concerned about Snap's user growth valuation and frankly hype. Snap only begun making money two years when it's still struggling to turn a profit.

Silicon Valley not a fan of President Trump's revised travel ban, even the revised travel ban. These top executives from these tech companies are out against it. They were quick to speak out against the executive order. The ride-sharing Lyft cofounder says, "The company stands firmly against this order." Lyft's cofounders will meet with the ACLU tomorrow to talk about the ban.

Uber, Lyft's chief rival, also speaking out. "Our sentiment has not changed. President Trump's immigration ban is unjust and wrong."

More than 100 companies joined a legal fight against Trump's original travel ban. That list included tech heavyweights like Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, some of the biggest names in technology.

Now, Silicon Valley may not like many of the Trump policies like the travel ban, but investors in tech stocks, they are very happy. Here's why: Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google have soared in 2017. FANG, the FANG stocks. Get it? Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google.

Look at this. Amazon up 12 percent. Netflix up 14 percent. Google's parent called Alphabet, it's up 7 percent. Apple up 20 percent. Apple is the best performer in the Dow.

BRIGGS: FANG. I never heard that. OK.

ROMANS: The new term for the fancy part of the economy. But look, philosophically, they're against many of the president's proposals, but the tax reform and bringing back money at a lower tax rates overseas, that's going to help them. If the president can do that, they will make more money.

BRIGGS: If the president can stay on that message, they might be far better off.


BRIGGS: EARLY START continues right now. (MUSIC)

BRIGGS: It is finally here. The Republican plan to replace Obamacare is public. It is online. You can read it. But can Republicans overcome party division and find support they need to get this bill passed.

ROMANS: That's Obamacare. This is the president's new travel ban. That's rolling out. Substantial changes from the first one. How does it affect national security and will this hold up in court?

A lot going on today. Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: And I'm Dave Briggs. They called it Obamacare.