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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Trump Praises Australia's Universal Health Care; France Decides: Macron, Le Pen Face Off Sunday in Presidential Runoff. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired May 5, 2017 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think there's a lot of hand-wringing about things that are not even in this bill, including the idea that pre-existing conditions coverage would go away, which is not in there.

[16:30:06] And so, I'm trying to evaluate it calmly and figure out whether it would work for my family and all these other people who are hurt, also don't want to endanger the people who are helped by ACA, who I have acknowledged exist. But I think it's important to acknowledge both sides of that, and that there were tradeoffs in any of these changes.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Kirsten, I want to play for you some sound and get your reaction.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

TAPPER: President Trump telling Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday that Australia has better health care than the U.S. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a failing health -- I shouldn't say this to our great gentleman and my friend from Australia because you have better health care than we do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: President Trump doubling down on this, tweeting just moments ago, "Of course, the Australians have better health care than we do, everybody does. Obamacare is dead but our health care will soon be great."

It is probably worth pointing out that Australia has government-funded health care.

POWERS: Right. Well, like all industrialized countries basically have --

TAPPER: Single payer.

POWERS: -- universal health care. We're the only country that doesn't. So, I would actually agree with him that they probably do have better health care separate from the Obamacare thing, but I would say -- I also use Obamacare.

TAPPER: Oh, really. OK, I didn't know that.

POWERS: Yes, and we have actually talked, Mary Katharine and I have talked a bit about this, and I've had a problems with it. My premiums have gone up substantially and my care has stayed about the same. You know, but I also have pre-existing conditions.

So, I think that while this bill may be technically says something about protecting pre-existing conditions, it also says states can get a waiver and I'm told it's very easy to get this waiver.

HAM: You can get a waiver for the community rating, not to the actual --

POWERS: They can get a waiver to set up a high-risk pool which is basically what existed prior to Obamacare. There were about 35 states that set up high-risk pools. And so, I think that the problem is that there's really nothing in this bill as far as I can tell that brings down costs other than taking people out with pre-existing conditions. There's just nothing else here that could possibly do that.

The selling across state lines is not -- at least not in the summary, and even if it is, it would never get past the Byrd Rule. So, this, basically, the way if costs go down, it will go down because they pull people with pre-existing conditions out of -- I don't know how they're going to --

TAPPER: Out of the market, and reduce coverage, reduce the amount of coverage.

POWERS: Yes.

TAPPER: I want -- as the bill goes to Senate, I want to get your reaction. Take a listen to Senator Bill Cassidy from Louisiana talking about what he wants to see in the bill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BILL CASSIDY, MD (R-LA), HEALTH, EDUCATION, LABOR & PENSIONS CMTE: I asked, does it pass the Jimmy Kimmel test? Would a child born with a congenital heart disease be able to get everything he or she would need in that first year of life? I wanted it to pass the Jimmy Kimmel test.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Passing the Jimmy Kimmel -- Jimmy Kimmel obviously talking about his son Billy who's 15 days old at this point, born with this heart defect and had intense surgery. And I talked to a health care expert today that said, if you take away the Obamacare rules which do not allow discrimination on individuals based on pre-existing conditions, Billy might have the to pay $40,000, $50,000 a year for insurance.

MARGARET TALEV, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG: That's right. And, obviously, Jimmy Kimmel can do that and most people can't do that. So, when you have someone like Charles Krauthammer going on TV and predicting that there's going to be a single payer system, you know, within seven years, it tells you on some level where this debate is heading, and whether the debate heads there now when this bill goes to the Senate before the midterms or whether the Senate actually acts on a bill and then this rears its head back in time for next presidential election.

Look, somewhere between like a quarter and a third of Americans in many states have pre-existing -- everything is a pre-existing condition, not just cancer. It's like diabetes, it's allergies, it's depression.

TAPPER: If you've been raped counts as a pre-existing condition in some -- in many insurance companies.

TALEV: There will hit a threshold where so many Americans have pre- existing condition and it's such a baked in expectation, that this debate is -- even if somehow the Senate passes something that doesn't actually protect people with pre-existing conditions this time, this issue is not going away and that's the legacy of the Affordable Care Act.

HAM: Guaranteed issue, which is covering pre-existing conditions, is part of the federal law under the bill that was passed. Now, you can get a waiver in a state for community rating, which is the idea you can charge more, and that can make --

TAPPER: But that's -- that's the big deal, whether or not can you charge someone $50,000.

HAM: I also want to be clear about this.

TAPPER: Yes.

HAM: And the other thing is, with this idea that sexual assault is a pre-existing condition, sexual assault is a pre-existing condition is explicitly banned, outlawed in 44 states, and it has -- even before ACA was not routinely practiced in any sort of way. So, I also want to be clear about that and not have the sky falling on us when in fact --

TAPPER: But the only reason I'm even bringing it up is because a friend of one of my producers was raped and was denied health insurance in 2010, I think, because she was raped and insurance companies said they considered that a pre-existing condition. This is before those rules --

POWERS: All things associated with rape. So, if you have PTSD, or if you have depression, those kinds of things would be considered pre- existing conditions.

TALEV: Yes, I think your point is important that it's -- not to conflate what everyone was worried about with the actual numbers on the ground, but as a political matter, the way Americans perceive it does matter, and for those Americans who might fall through the cracks.

(CROSSTALK)

[16:35:00] HAM: Which is why I want to tell the truth about it.

TAPPER: Yes, here's the question though. All these people, all these Americans with pre-existing conditions, who have severe health problems or need insurance and can't be discriminated on with a $50,000 a year premiums, someone is going to pay for them.

So, the question is, is it going to be people like you two whose insurance premiums went up during Obamacare, or is it going to be the government with these high-risk pools? I think that's the trade-off that people aren't --

HAM: Yes, and there are always trade-offs. And that's the thing -- that's how I want to talk about this because it is a question of who foots the bill for these things? I think one thing that is problematic in the individual market right now is that folks who do not have the pre-existing conditions who are young and healthy are disincentivized to be in there, and you need those folks in the system specifically --

TAPPER: How are they disincentivized? Because it's so expensive you don't get anything out of it?

HAM: Right. Once you get to -- if you're at -- if you're at 15k, 20k that you're putting into a health insurance program, quote, before you get a lot of benefits, then you might as well be socking away that money for your own catastrophic care.

TALEV: Yeah.

HAM: Or you're spending that when you're not spending it on a mortgage. I mean, people are making really big decisions here. It is not the largest portion of people affected by ACA, but it is a serious problem and you're sending the message to young and healthy folks that, yes, the tax penalty is much better. So I would like a system where we can incentivize those people so we can help pre-existing conditions and the older and sicker. But you have to -- you do have to I think shave off some of these mandates because people cannot offer but these very heavy programs with very heavy deductibles.

TAPPER: Kirsten, I think you'll agree with me, when Margaret and I were covering President Obama, introducing Obamacare, I know that both of covered at the time the idea that he was selling like this is going to be great for everyone.

TALEV: Yeah.

TAPPER: There was no discussion of, well, if you're young and male and healthy, your premiums are going to go up a lot, but if you're older or female or sick, then you're going to be -- you're going to be benefitted.

POWERS: Well, I mean, yes, or the truth is on the individual markets which we're both in, you know, we're the type of people who are paying really high deductibles -- I mean, high premiums with high deductibles where somebody who is very young maybe is paying a little bit of money and is getting subsidies. I'm not getting any subsidies.

So, it does sort of shift everything over to this very small group of people, and that's not fair. You know, and that is not -- that's not what he sold. I mean, I've been extremely critical of Obamacare.

TAPPER: No, I know.

POWERS: So, you know, I think -- and I was a big supporter of it. So, I think the way it's been implemented is problematic and I was really hoping that the Republicans were going to do something to actually fix the problem and I just don't feel like they have. I just don't -- I don't see how this is in any way going to change the underlying dynamics. Why is my health insurance going to go down? I mean, it doesn't make any sense -- especially with somebody with pre- existing conditions.

TAPPER: Well, you can get a plan that doesn't cover all of the ten essential health benefits, if you say -- if you don't want pediatric ophthalmology.

HAM: Even without that, the tax credit which you can argue whether that's a good way to do it or not, the tax credit would give you resource and give you that tax benefit that employers have that might make that look different. I don't know that it would.

POWERS: If my insurance doesn't go up because I have a pre-existing condition though.

HAM: Right.

TAPPER: Right.

POWERS: See what I'm saying? Like that -- since I have a pre- existing condition.

HAM: And, by the way, speaking of the way Obama sold it --

TAPPER: Yes.

HAM: -- Trump is going to step all over Republicans by selling it the same way, and they're going to be like --

TAPPER: He just said that you're premiums are going to go down and deductibles are going to go down. And like, if you like your doctor, you're going to keep your doctor.

HAM: He's talking about --

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Thanks one and all for being here. Appreciate it.

An armored vehicle plowing into a crowd of protesters as the deadly unrest grows in Venezuela. But will the government back off any time soon?

Plus, the votes that could be felt around the world. Another divided country is making its decision and one American president is already weighing in.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:43:09] TAPPER: Welcome back. More in our world lead.

What could be the world's most consequential election of the year is just hours away. Emotions are running high in France as voters are set to choose their next president. It's been centrist Emmanuel Macron and far right leader Marine Le Pen, each with a remarkably different vision for their country and its relationship with Europe and with the United States, and the result could resonate beyond France's border signaling the future of the European Union in a populist wave across the world.

Now, President Obama is weighing in. He backed Macron in a video message, with observers suggesting that between Donald Trump Jr.'s pro-Le Pen tweeting and other messages from the White House, President Trump might as well be saying, "I'm with her".

Let's bring in CNN's Melissa Bell from Paris.

Melissa, recent polls and I hesitate to say anything about polling, but recent polls say Macron has a substantial lead right now.

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he does. He goes into this race with more than a 20-point lead. This especially after Wednesday's night's very bitter debate between the two candidates, pitting her version for France that would leave the European Union, NATO, retreat to sort of economic protectionism, and his openness and continuation of what we've seen so far really in France, with a pro- European stance on the other hand.

This is the choice facing France on Sunday, and these were the battle lines that were drawn, Jake, in the first round of voting ten days ago. Have a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BELL (voice-over): It was a victory of a pro-European pro- globalization agenda. As the world watched on, the independent centrists celebrated a victory that few had initially imagined possible. Emmanuel Macron had run without an established party and with no experience of elected office and he had won the first round of France's presidential poll.

Immediately behind him, the woman who had believed she'd win, the far right's Marine Le Pen, who nonetheless sawed off nine other candidates with her anti-E.U, anti-globalization and anti-immigration platform, leaving a stark choice to France on Sunday, between a continued openness to the wider world or in withdrawal from it. With that first round result, the country's political lines were redrawn and the effects on the street was immediate. Le Pen's second place was greeted by anti-fascist protests in Paris and a new strategy of reaching out beyond her core electorate ahead of the runoff.

On May 1st, she delivered a speech that was an exact copy of one given just days before by her former rival, the mainstream republican, Francois Fillon. Macron has a solid lead in the polls but he still needs to convince many of those on both the left and the right that his candidature has worried and deal with attacks on his marriage to a woman nearly 25 years his senior.

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRANCE FORMER MINISTER OF THE ECONOMY, FINANCE AND INDUSTRY (through translator): I felt a huge fear in this country about the future of families, and I mine enemy of families because mine is different? I'm not ashamed of it.

BELL: On Wednesday, the two met face-to-face for one last time ahead of Sunday's vote, only two weeks after the latest terror attack security was among their battlegrounds.

MARINE LE PEN, NATIONAL FRONT PRESIDENT (through translator): We have to eradicate the ideology of Islamism (INAUDIBLE) That is something which you wouldn't do because you're subjected to them.

MACRON (through translator): We have to strengthen the resources of the police and we to (INAUDIBLE) before the attacks are committed.

BELL: On Sunday, the France will choose between their two very different visions of the future with consequences that will reach far beyond the country's own borders.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BELL: I think the reason, Jake that the American President's current informer taking such an interest is that in a sense, this is a continuation of a debate that was begun months ago in the United States and also, of course, because of those consequences for the European Union but also for France's position in the world and for Trump's relative isolation or not in groups like the G7, the security council of the coming months. Jake.

TAPPER: Melissa Bell, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

In order world news, the crisis in Venezuela growing worse by the day. New graphic video capturing an armored carrier mowing down demonstrators in the streets of the capital city Caracas, Wednesday as riot police fired tear gas into the crowd. Among those run over is 22-year-old Pedro Michell Yaminne. He was rushed to the hospital with multiple fractures and collapsed lungs but he did survive. Yaminne is one of the many protesters demanding reform as socialist President Nicolas Maduro tries to consolidate power by changing the country's constitution. More than 30 people had been killed since the beginning of April including 18-year-old Armando Canizales, a violinist with Venezuela's Symphony Orchestra. Freelance Journalist Stefano Pozzebon joins me now live on the phone from Caracas. And Stefano, what's the latest on the ground where you are? STEFANO POZZEBON, FREELANCE JOURNALIST: Jake, the latest here is that today Caracas is quiet and can actually focus on the most dramatic crisis that is affecting everyday Venezuelans because let's not forget that amid the chaos caused by the protests on street, Venezuela still has to come up with the most difficult living conditions of recent history. Venezuela is in shortage of basic goods and according to one of the recent figures by a survey of independent scientists that three out of four Venezuelans are losing weight this year. So the average Venezuelan goes in the street and still cannot find the most basic food, still cannot find main basic foods for their family, for the livestock. So this is what is pressing them the most and even on a day like today where we are not registering marches marches and the political clashes are taking a step back, things are still very much on the agenda.

TAPPER: Is there any sign at all that the government there under Maduro might allow new elections?

POZZEBON: What President Maduro, Jake, is trying -- is doing is proposing changes to the constitution and by doing what? That is calling for the election of a national constituent assembly so an assembly should replace the current national assembly which is controlled by the opposition. Currently, we don't know how the delegates for this new constituent national assembly with the task of rewriting the constitution will be drafted. We know that the government has reached out to the opposition in trying to find common words. But the opposition has not yet set out a reply and (INAUDIBLE) their position about his offer. And they are rejecting these calls from President Maduro saying that this is -- this is another chance for a fraud. So at moment, the current election is still very (INAUDIBLE) there will be this new election for this up and coming constituent national assembly as called by President Maduro.

TAPPER: All right. Stefano Pozzebon in Caracas, Venezuela, Stefano, thank you so much. Please stay safe.

President Trump could decide as early next week whether to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. Next, we'll talk to the Obama administration's Chief Negotiator for that deal and find out what a U.S. exit from the accord might mean.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:50:00] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD, our "TECH LEAD" today. The Justice Department is opening a criminal investigation into Uber. According to reports from Reuters and The Washington Post. The investigation is focused on the secret software that allegedly was used to evade authorities in places where the ride-sharing company was banned or restricted. The software which was internally dubbed gray ball identified regulators who were posing as Uber customers and ordered to try to prove that Uber was operating illegally and the software would block Uber drivers from picking them up. Uber says the software was prohibited shortly after its existence was made known in March by the New York Times.

[16:55:13] TAPPER: Finally today, in our "EARTH MATTERS" series, the Trump administration is considering withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, or at least weakening the U.S. commitment to reduce about a quarter of the U.S. carbon emissions by the year 2025. The Paris climate agreement is the world's first comprehensive climate agreement. It was adopted in 2015 by nearly 200 nations. Sources tell CNN that a decision by President Trump could come as early as next week. Here with me to talk about it more is Todd Stern, the Lead U.S. Negotiator for the Paris Agreement under former President Obama. Todd, thanks so much for being here.

TODD STERN; FORMER U.S SPECIAL ENVOY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE: Hey, Jake.

TAPPER: What would it mean if the U.S. were to pull out entirely from the agreement?

STERN: It would be a huge big deal. I mean, it would -- it would fundamentally undermine the international regime. This is a -- first of all, you can't solve climate change without an international regime because it's a quintessential global problem. You can't just --

TAPPER: When you say international regime, you by mean the international community?

STERN: Yes. So Paris is an agreement that was entered into by 195 nations who all had to agree, who had been working on this for years and years and years and it happened with enormous U.S. leadership, right, so you have -- you have great investment, but it -- you can't get the problem solved without that kind of international cooperation, and if the U.S. is not -- is not part of it, you're not going to -- the U.S. is essentially an indispensable nation. You've got to the have the U.S. in order for this agreement to really work, and it would also have an enormous impact on the U.S. itself.

TAPPER: And if the U.S. were to weaken the commitment, not pull out entirely, but just say we're not going to meet that standard or we're not going to try to meet that standard by 2025, what would that mean?

STERN: I think that would be very unfortunate, it would be a bad signal, it would be a bad example to others, but it's a lot better than pulling out of the agreement altogether. I don't condone that at all, but as -- but as between the two, it's absolutely better to stay in the agreement. And look, the pulling out would cause enormous damage to a standing -- the standing of the United States in the world. You have enormous investment by countries all over the world. The U.S. pulling out would be a kind of slap in the face, and it's kind of a to hell with you with respect to an issue that countries have been enormously concerned about, rightly concerned about, and if you then think you're going to turn around and seek cooperation of other countries on all sorts of other issues. They're not going to happen.

TAPPER: You think it will undermine the ability that President Trump to do diplomacy on North Korea, on Iran, or anything else?

STERN: Well, I think in all source -- I think on all source of issues. Whether it going to affects North Korea or Iran or this on or that one, in particular, I think it depends. But you'll see U.S. credibility and leverage in the international community absolutely reduce because this is an issue that people care about and that they know they cannot solve without U.S. engagement. So for the U.S. to suddenly say, you know, we really don't care about your concerns and we're going to look the other way and we're going to walk away from everything that we've just done, be very, very damaging.

TAPPER: In terms of President Trump, what would you -- look, he has said that he thinks quote "climate change is a Chinese hoax." He obviously does not take it seriously at all. There are people in the administration such as Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner and others who take it more seriously and don't want him to withdraw. How is the environmental community, how are people like you trying to convince him not to pull out of this or not to weaken it?

STERN: Look, you know, you don't just need to look at the environmental community, right. ou look at the Pentagon, you look at the intelligence community, you look at the business community. There's overwhelming support in the business community for the United States to stay in and for good reason, they look at climate change, they actually know that's real. It's not an ideological issue for them. This is -- this is a dollars and cents issue. They know that Paris was a good deal, an historic deal and that's balanced. They want the United States in this deal because if they are not in this deal, the business interests of the U.S. won't be protected. There's all kinds issues that arise in these discussions, and they will be ongoing discussions to further implement Paris, but issues like intellectual property, issues like trade, the U.S. business community won't be protected if United States is not there, and they know it and business likes predictability. And in-out, in-out is not what business wants --

TAPPER: All right --

STERN: -- so business is -- it's also fully supportive of staying in.

TAPPER: Todd Stern thanks so much. Appreciate your time.

Tune into Sunday CNN for "STATE OF THE UNION." My guest will be Health and Human Services Department Secretary Dr. Tom Price and also Ohio Governor John Kasich, it all starts at 9:00 a.m. Eastern and then again at noon. That's it for THE LEAD, I'm Jake Tapper, I now turn you over to Brianna Keilar who is in for Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news, Russia records request. The Senate Intelligence Committee wants documents from three former Trump advisers and is --

END