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Major Snowstorm Moving In; CBO Estimates 24M Uninsured by 2026. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired March 14, 2017 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:15] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: Winter making its final stand. A major snowstorm with whiteout conditions starting to churn with tens of millions in its path. We have complete coverage of this late spring, northeaster.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: I almost wore a Christmas sweater just because I feel like -- it looks like a postcard.

BRIGGS: Perfectly appropriate.

ROMANS: It looks like a postcard.

BRIGGS: Good for reporters out there. Stella is here.

Good morning and thanks for getting an EARLY START with us. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Tuesday, March 14. We should be wearing green. It is 4:00 a.m. in the East.

The snow we have been worrying about now is starting to all across the Northeast. These are early hours of this, folks. It is expected to be heavier throughout the morning and keep falling all day long. Heavy, heavy snow all morning. Tens of millions of people are under a blizzard or winter storm warnings. And there are states of emergencies declared from Maryland, on up to New England, making for dangerous, potentially deadly conditions.

Here in New York City, Boston expected to be hit hard. New York could get a foot of snow or more. Parts of Massachusetts could see up to two feet. Officials are warning of high winds, creating potentially a whiteout conditions. Schools are already closed in Boston and Philadelphia and New York City and many other places. You know, they made that decision, a lot of administrators made that decision yesterday, Dave.

BRIGGS: Yes, preemptive cancellations all across the East Coast. So far, airlines have done the same thing. More than 5,300 flights in the U.S., according to are cancelled. Amtrak says it will run what it calls a modified schedule in the Northeast today. And as always, ahead of the possible blizzard, folks have been clearing off grocery store shelves like it is the end of the world.

ROMANS: Oh, my gosh. My kids --

BRIGGS: Cleaning out.

ROMANS: -- popsicles, ice cream and Cheetos. That was what they got yesterday at the grocery store. We are ready.

BRIGGS: Kids love this. It sounds like a healthy snow day in the Romans' household.

We have the very latest on the storm with the reporters along the East Coast, starting with meteorologist Chad Myers here at Columbus Circle in New York.

Good morning to you, Chad. How is it out there?


Well, it seems no matter which you look, the wind is blowing in your face. I'm sure that's a function of the buildings in New York City, but it is coldest snow I have seen in, what, six weeks now. It's going to be a brutal storm.

Let me set the stage for you. Across the Northeast, everyone will pick up two inches of liquid. OK. So, if you melt down anything you get or put in a rain bucket if you get rain, there will be two inches of something in the rain bucket. If it's 10 to one snow, which means light and fluffy snow, like the snow you want to go ski in, in Utah, that's going to be a 10-inch snowfall, maybe even a 12-inch or somewhere in the 20-inch snowfall if you start to file it up.

You see what I'm saying here. So, two inches, times ten to one, you get your 20-inch snowfall. If you are 7 to 1, which is mostly like snowman weather, then you get a 14-inch snowfall. And if you're Boston, you get rain mixed in. You get, D.C., you get rain mixed in, so you don't get that much snow, you just get muck.

Then it gets colder, then it freezes, and they you got muck and snow and ice on your roads. So, I don't even know what you want. Would you want to shovel it? Which is easier, or just try to trudge through it after it turns into an icicle.

Here is where the radar is right now. It started snowing here about 1:00 in the morning in New York City, and it hasn't stopped and it's not going to stop for quite a long time. It's going to keep going all day. I would say at least another 10 hours of snow.

Boston, you are just starting. D.C., you are almost stopping. So, you see how this is running up the East Coast and running very quickly. But here is what we are thinking about for snowfall totals. I think here in the city, we are probably somewhere in the 12 to 14- inch range because we will get the snowman snow, farther to the west, Harrisburg, even Morristown, New Jersey, into Allentown, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, York, Lancaster, you're going to see that 20 to 24-inch snowfall because you're going to be light and fluffy snow. It's a little bit colder out there. And that slightly colder air makes it fluffier snow. Up toward the Northeast, into New England, Vermont, New Hampshire, you

get the big numbers of snow. Boston, you don't, and the Cape may not get any snow at all because it will be a rain/snow mix the entire time, and it's just going to be a sloppy mess.

So, that is how we time this out right now. It isn't going to be the blizzard of 1888, which was, you know, 56 inches of snow in 35-foot drifts. But certainly, a late season snowfall to slow people down.

ROMANS: That was the first blizzard of Chad's career, 1888. He knows that one very, very well.

BRIGGS: Yes, that was a doozy, wasn't it, Chad?

MYERS: It was. It was very hard in television then.


ROMANS: Everything was hard then.

All right. Thank you so much, Chad. Not 26, maybe a foot here, 20 inches in New York, maybe a foot here. Expect the roads to be extra slick today.

[04:05:01] CNN's Alison Kosik on the roads from New York City to northern New Jersey as we speak.

What does it look like out there?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know what's interesting, Christine, you know, listening to Chad talk about the differences in the snow that will be falling, I have already seen that.

I just left New York City where it was sloppy, wet and slushy. And then as I head north, or as I head northwest into New Jersey which is where we are now, I see the type of snow is different. It's not as wet and mucky, but it is still slippery. You look outside. The road conditions are slippery.

Thankfully, it is nice and early, 4:00 a.m. on the East Coast. Not many cars out. Also, states around this area, not just New Jersey and New York, Connecticut, all have states of emergencies declared, which means a lot of people staying off the roads, hopefully during rush hour between 6:00 and 9:00, when most accumulations are expected.

You know, but that is when we're really going to be watching the roads because still, many people may venture out maybe to take a look, maybe to go to work. Right now, not seeing many plows. The snow definitely is piling up heavier here than in New York City.

Once again, slippery conditions. Driving the car today is Steve. He is nice and careful, thankfully. And we will keep updating you on the road conditions -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Say hello to Steve. Please be careful. I know that it's -- you know, those roads are probably 20 degrees. But it's a little bit warmer than moisture that's falling. So, be careful out there for black ice. Thanks, Alison.

BRIGGS: Yes, we're always telling people to stay off the roads. They're just showing us --

ROMANS: Do as we say.

BRIGGS: -- the difficult conditions. Yes.

Philadelphia among the areas under a snow emergency. The city taking a brunt before the storm heads up here to New York City.

Let's get to Ryan Young live in Philadelphia.

Good morning to you, Ryan. It looks like it's already hit pretty solid there.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. You know, so far, what we are looking at is roads look pretty good. In fact, we have seen a lot of trucks going through the area, making sure the roads are clear. About 2,000 vehicles on the road making sure the clearing is done. The bus stop I was next to, they're on a limited schedule as well.

So far, if you keep talking to people who are driving by, this is not so bad just yet. But you could hear the wind, and that ice hits your face and feels like needles at this point. But not the accumulation that we expected. Hey, look, right on time. Another truck going by that is doing the service to clear the streets.

So, so far, so good. Schools, of course, closed. And cancellations at the airports -- guys.

ROMANS: Yes, everyone, be careful out there. No reason to be running around in the streets. This is just early hours. We know there's a lot to come here.

So, all right. Ryan, thank you, in Philly. We'll check in with you very, very soon.

So, this monster storm paralyzing much of the country has already claimed two lives in the Midwest. Authorities in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, say two men suffered apparent heart attacks in separate events. One was operating a snow blower, another was shoveling snow.

The life-threatening conditions created by the storm have President Trump urging Americans to be careful. He tweeted this, "Everyone along the East Coast, be safe and listen to local officials as a major winter storm approaches."

And, Dave, one of the things that happens often in these kinds of storms is after the snow, people start their cars and start to shovel them out. And if you are in the car, put a kid in that car, you'll suffocate. Carbon monoxide poisoning.

So, clear the tail pipe. Don't let the car idle while you are shoveling it out and there will be a lot of shoveling out of cars. BRIGGS: Stay out of the cars. Stay home. Schools are cancelled.

State of emergency here in New York. Just stay home. Stay warm. Get on the couch.

Another storm brewing, though, this one in politics, as Republicans looking for a path forward after a dismal CBO report on their health plan. We will crunch the numbers for you, next.


[04:12:45] ROMANS: Harsh reality making it felt through Republicans this morning. GOP leaders may find it hard to rally lawmakers around the House Obamacare repeal deal, now that the Congressional Budget Office has released its estimate of the measure's effects.

Here are the findings. CBO expects 24 million more Americans to be uninsured by 2026. By next year, 14 million fewer would have health coverage. Premiums would jump 20 percent in the individual market over the next couple of years.

But then here's where it evens out -- eventually, they're projected to be 10 percent lower. Premiums expected to be 10 percent lower on average by 2026.

BRIGGS: But despite the dire CBO score, House Speaker Paul Ryan describing it as good news.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, actually, if you read this entire report, I'm pretty encouraged by it and it actually exceeded my expectations. We're saying that government is not going to force people to buy something that they don't want to buy. And if we end an Obamacare mandate that says you must buy this government one-size-fits-all plan, guess what? People are not going to buy that.


BRIGGS: The CBO score wasn't all bleak for the Republicans. Their repeal plan would lower the federal deficit by an estimated $337 billion over ten years. But the score is putting Republicans on the defensive and emboldening Democrats who smell blood in the water for 2018.

CNN's Phil Mattingly has the latest on Capitol Hill.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, Republicans knew the number was going to be bad, they just didn't know it was going to be this bad -- 14 million uninsured by 2018, 24 million uninsured over the course of ten-year period. That's according to the Congressional Budget Office. And those are the kind of numbers that create real problems for a proposal that the Republican Party was not already united behind. Now, Republicans have been pushing back. They say that the numbers

don't reflect how their plans would actually work. Some questioning the efficacy of the numbers altogether.

Take a listen to what Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price had to say.

TOM PRICE, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: We disagree strenuously with the report that was put out. We believe that our plan will cover more individuals at a lower price and give them the choices that they want, for the coverage that they want for themselves and for their family, not that the government forces them to buy.

MATTINGLY: Now, it's important to point out the Republican proposal, as it currently stands, does what Republicans campaigned on.

[04:15:02] It repeals the individual mandate. It repeals the Medicaid expansion. Two real drivers for Obamacare's insured numbers.

And it also reduces the deficit by $337 billion. And as we already know, it repeals most of the Obamacare taxes. These are things Republicans say, look, we campaigned on this. Just because the models of the CBO or just because this score doesn't reflect what people would want it to reflect, this is what people have voted for.

But the big question now, is how do they keep their members in line going forward?

I spoke to a number of Republican senators after this proposal came out. Many of them voiced major concerns about this going forward -- Christine and Dave.


ROMANS: All right, Phil Mattingly.

You know, on the tax cut for that, I think people voted for a middle class tax cut. They didn't necessarily vote for just the wealthiest Americans to get tens of thousands of dollars back. So, that could be problematic for this.

Let's dig further into these numbers. OK, 24 million fewer Americans will insured by 2026 under this health care bill, 14 million just next year. That's again according to the CBO.

So, what does that look like? Fifty million Americans were uninsured before Obamacare went into effect from 2010. That number fell to 27 million by 2016, with the new GOP plan, the rate would rise back to 50 million and above it, to 52 million by 2026. Compared to the 27 million uninsured if Obamacare is kept.

So, why the big difference? The CBO predicts that fewer people would buy insurance if the current penalties were removed. And later on, changes to Medicaid rules will be the cause. The GOP bill scraps funds for Medicaid expansion plan for 2020. So, who does that hurt? The report found the majority of uninsured

will be older and lower income. That's because the GOP's tax credits are not as generous as the Obamacare subsidies.

So, we are talking working class voters 50 to 64 years old. Now, the Trump administration disagrees with this report, as you heard, saying the CBO ignored regulatory changes and grants to states that will expand coverage. However, we don't know for sure and those plans have not been released.

Dave, we keep hearing about phase two and phase three. The president say he's going to have to drive down drug costs. That's going to help phase two and three are hypotheticals at this point. So, you can't really score a hypothetical.

BRIGGS: Right. He's talked to Elijah Cummings three times reportedly, about lowering the cost of drugs. That's difficult to pull off.

But how do you get to 60 votes on anything? Because a lot of these other phases will need 60. It would be hard to imagine getting Democrats onboard with anything regarding health care right now.

But with the health care debate continuing to rage, explosive new audio surfacing featuring House Speaker Paul Ryan vilifying Donald Trump less than a month before the presidential election. Ryan speaking to House Republicans on October 10, that's just days after Trump's vulgar comments to "Access Hollywood's" Billy Bush were made public. This new audio released by Breitbart, same very conservative media outfit formally headed up by the president's top adviser, Steve Bannon.



PAUL: His comments are not anywhere in keeping with our party's principles and values. I am not going to defend Donald Trump, not now, now in the future. But you guys know I have real concerns with our nominee. I hope you appreciate that I'm doing what I think is best for you and the members. Not what's best for me.

And so, I want to do what's best for members and I think that this is the right to do. I'm going to focus my time on campaigning for House Republicans. Everyone on this call, this is a turbulent month. Many of you on this call are facing tough re-elections. Some of you are not.

But with respect to Donald Trump, I would encourage you to do what you think is best and deal what you feel you need to do.


BRIGGS: The release of the audio comes at a time when conservatives are hammering Ryan and his Republican health care overhaul. CNN reported on the speaker's comments about Mr. Trump last October when they happened. This is the first time anyone is hearing the actual audio.

So, Christine, the obvious question is, why now? Why the release of it now? And Breitbart article says this is the first major initiative Trump has worked with on Ryan. It calls into question if he knows how Trump won and how to win in general.

Look, you don't have to connect the dots to figure someone wants Ryan to take the blame if this health care plan does not succeed, someone in the White House.

ROMANS: Someone undermining Paul Ryan essentially.

All right. Interesting. The timing is interesting. We'll continue to talk about that and dig into that.

Is the White House, meanwhile, stalling on answers to the president's wiretapping claims? We'll tell you how the House Intel Committee responded when the Justice Department missed a big deadline.

BRIGGS: And it's snow day for millions in the Northeast. We have the latest on the big snowstorm when we come back.


[04:24:05] BRIGGS: The Northeast battening down ahead of a major snowstorm that's just now beginning to hit.

ROMANS: That's right outside the bureau right there.

BRIGGS: Right here, and it's definitely starting to come. Not as much as we thought. But a foot of snow or less forecast from Philadelphia up to New York City. Up to two feet in parts of Massachusetts. We now learned federal agencies in the Washington, D.C. area opening three hours late.

ROMANS: I know you were worried about this. But the Fed meeting is scheduled to go on as planned. So, Dave, you can rest assured.

BRIGGS: Life goes on.

ROMANS: High winds also expected, gust up to 50 miles an hour, leading to whiteout conditions in some places. Schools closed to day in Philly, New York City, Boston, along with many government offices.

BRIGGS: And airlines have canceled thousands of flights along the Eastern Seaboard, more than 5,300 at last count, according to Full forecast just a few minutes away.

ROMANS: Chad Myers just told us, ten more hours at least of snow in New York City. So, prepare yourself, folks.

All right. In other news, subpoenas may be required to get information about President Trump's wiretapping allegations from the Justice Department.

[04:25:04] That's according to the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. The justice officials asking the committee for more time to turn over evidence.

The new deadline is set for Monday, the same day the Intel Committee begins the first public hearing of the U.S. election.

Listen to the president's press secretary, Sean Spicer, seeming to walk back the president's accusation.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He doesn't really think that President Obama went up and tapped his phone personally. I think -- but I think there's no question that the Obama administration that there were actions about surveillance and other activities that occurred in 2016 election. The president used wiretap in quotes to mean broadly surveillance and other activities.


ROMANS: OK, show us the tweets.

BRIGGS: All right. Here we go. Two of President Trump's tweets alleging he was wiretapped, not air quotes, by President Obama. Did have quotes around the word wiretapped. Two others did not, though.

The key is the real one with the Nixon and Watergate. Bad or sick guy." Granted, misspelled tap, but there was no air quotes around that one, and that was the tweet, the one on your right that got most attention.

Do you buy the air quotes strategy?

ROMANS: President Trump says President Obama personally wiretapped his phones. That's what he said. Sean Spicer, that's what he said.

BRIGGS: But, clearly, you are seeing the outline of how they are going to defend if there is no evidence -- we were talking broad surveillance.



ROMANS: All right. Twenty-six minutes past the hour. Get out your shovels. Winter making one last showing and it's not a quiet one. Live reports throughout the region and the latest snowstorm forecast, next.