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Speaker Ryan Defends Health Care Bill Amid Opposition; Tensions High On Capital Over Health Care; GOP Source: W.H. Admits Current Bill Can't Pass Senate; New Budget's Promise: Deep Cuts; President Arrives At Detroit Metro Airport. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired March 15, 2017 - 12:30   ET



[12:30:00] PAUL RYAN, U.S. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Mick Mulvaney. Tom Price. All those guys. The health care people. The point I'm saying is -- by the way, I talked to Reince and Bannon about this a number of times. We are all on the same page. I mean, absolutely, with the President. The President is bringing members of our caucus down there saying we need you to support this. They're making phone calls to remember saying this is the right way to go. This is what we want to do.

LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO HOST: He doesn't want it to be called Trumpcare though. They want it to be called Ryancare.

RYAN: We call it the American Health Care Act.


JOHN KING, INSIDE POLITICS HOST: We talked a little bit about this in the last block. But this is remarkable. This is remarkable. And Laura Ingraham among the voices on Talk Radio saying, Mr. President, you're being led into a trap here by Speaker Ryan to have this family feud. It sound this is about policy. It sounds it's about the responsibility of governing but to have this play out, this is the first big test. This is what they decided to do first. And the Republican and Congress of campaign for years, the President campaign on last year was part of his victory.

The idea that the knives are out already is I guess it's Washington but wow.

MICHAEL D. SHEAR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: But look, who better to understand the political toll that can be extracted on health care if it screws up than the people who extracted that toll? I mean, the Republican Party managed to take Obamacare and hang it around the Democrats as used to it for both midterm elections and the ultimately to help Donald Trump get elected. So they know the power of this issue and they know how it can back fire. And then they want to be on the same ship as it sink --

KING: But what happens -- so let's -- what if they sink, just keep with your metaphor, what if they sink the current ship? The House Republican plan? Because it's fascinating. Speaker Ryan declare what he says is I tried to find the sweet spot. I try to get enough votes to make this work and then we'll amend it maybe some in the Senate and come back. But like if we nitpick this everyday it's going to collapse.

You heard Laura Ingraham there, an influential voice to conservatives. She's here in the Washington area. Chris Ruddy runs Newmax, so conservative media site. He says this about Speaker Ryan. "Trump figures things out pretty quickly, and I think he's figuring it out his situation, how the House Republicans did him a disservice. President Trump is a big-picture, pragmatic Republican, and unfortunately the Ryan Republican plan doesn't capture his world view."

So, again, going after the Speaker, let me pause the question this way. But if they crafted a bill that actually kept the President's campaign promises, wouldn't it be a lot more expensive than the Ryan bill? A lot more government than the Ryan bill? Because the President during the campaign was not a Republican talking about all this health care promises we should keep including coverage for anyone that wants it?

LAURA MECKLER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, first of all, it would be more lot more like existing law.


MECKLER: Unless Republicans want. Because he would just -- you know, Trump picked up a lot of pieces of the existing law and said I like that. But I don't think that President Trump, candidate Trump ever had a plan, ever had a coherent way to make this work.

And what the Republicans are finding now is the truth of the matter about health care which is that this is not easy. And they've never tried it before. The Democratic Party has, for decades, wanted all Americans to have health insurance. That was one of their animating purposes. And they've tried. A lot of different things that had a lot of debate inside the party over how to do.

Republicans -- this is not for most Republicans what gets them to run for office. This is not the reason they get up in the morning. Now they face a situation where if they want to repeal a law they don't like, they have to replace it with something else. And they just really don't have a coherent vision for how to do that.

And the big problem that Ryan faces now and that Trump faces is that anything they do to move this bill either toward conservatives, will loss in more moderate or towards moderate, will loss in more conservatives. So they're in a box.

JACKIE KUCINICH, THE DAILY BEST: And there's a relatively short history in taking entitlements away.

KING: Right.

KUCINICH: It's a very hard thing to do. KING: Right. It's a great point. And it used to be -- I'm old enough to be in this town long enough where the House passes something, it goes to Senate, they modify it in some way. Then it comes back and they a conference committee or figure out the middle.

But since the Clinton days, where a bunch of people got BTU (ph) (inaudible) became, House Democrats voted on something and went over the Senate and disappeared and that vote was used against in the campaign. A lot of people are nervous about that. They want to cut the deal first and then pass to legislation. So you don't cast votes on something.

And a lot of House Republicans were saying that we don't want to vote for something that's going to be dramatically changed, because the Democrats going to run odds against saying you want to kick 24 million of health care. Do you want to give tax cuts to billionaires, blah, blah, blah.

Among them, Leonard Lance, one of the few moderate Republicans whose district is at play. It's very hard to find competitive House districts. He's from New Jersey and he says straight up. "I don't want to vote on a bill that has no chance of passing over in the Senate. The CBO score, the Congressional Budget Office, he means, has modified the dynamics."

To modify the dynamics meaning you now have a report that says if you pass the House Republican plan as is, you will have 52 million people who don't have health insurance a decade from now almost double what you'd have if you left Obamacare in place. So, can they do this to normal order, a House bill then a Senate bill then it compromise? Or do they need to negotiate the plan and pass it?

ASHLEY PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, in theory they need to negotiate the plan and sort of make sure that they're both on the same page. But if you look at Speaker Ryan's calculation, at this point he has so much on this plea (ph) and so many headaches. He's really just hoping to get to 218 votes and get it out of the House and kind of be able to say this is no longer my problem.

And I would also had -- you mention deal making but one ramification -- there's two ramifications if they sort of don't get this done. One is that they will not have kept their promise of repealing and replacing the president's health care law.

[12:35:11] The other is that Trump sort of whole existence is being a deal maker. And if he's unable to cut a deal -- and yes, you're right, there all these fractions, there are moderates, there are conservatives, you know, there are street repeal people. But if he can't make this deal, it kind of undercuts the whole notion of what he ran on and how he would deal with China or Russia.

KING: And they sent the vice president to Kentucky this past weekend because one of their problems is the junior senator from Kentucky Rand Paul. And Mike Pence went there and said we need to pass this bill. We have to govern. We are Republicans. This is very important we get together on this. And as you can hear from Rand Paul right now, worked brilliantly.


SENATOR RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I think that after six years we ought to fix it. We shouldn't put a band-aid on it. I think Ryan's plan is a band-aid with a bunch of insurance company bailouts and it doesn't fix the system. In fact, I predict if Ryan's plan passes as is, insurance rates will still skyrocket. The individual market will still be screwed up and guess what? The insurance companies will still get rich. So nothing will change.


KING: Well, that went well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not at all worried about it.

KING: But again, how do you -- you know, and part of this is the benefits of winning. There are more Republicans because they won so many elections so there are more at the table. It's like a big family thanksgiving dinner. The more people you invite, the more wine you need.

But -- so part of this is a benefit to the Republican Party to have ideas, but their first big test they need to get something done. Rand Paul is nowhere near convinced to do this and he's not alone.

KUCINICH: And to please Rand Paul, you lose other people. If you start dialing back when Medicaid expansion ends.


KUCINICH: You're going to lose those moderates. You're going to lose Republicans from Medicaid expansion states. So, it really is. It's tough. And this is why you'd think someone is a great deal maker could make something happen but he's also negotiating without Paul Ryan in some of these cases.

He's offering the Freedom Caucus saying, you know, we can talk about this and some of their ideas where Ryan is saying this is the bill. This is what we're going through. So there's a lot of conversations going on.

SHEAR: I agree. And remember these are not people that are experienced in this process with former presidents you've had. Even with Obama, he surrounded himself with people who had been deeply involved in the art of negotiation on Capitol Hill. Rahm Emanuel with his chief of staff. These are not people that have had that kind of experience. And it looks like they pretty badly misjudged the questions of how well they were going to be able to sort of rally the Republican Party behind Trump.

KING: Well, a lot of these free market conservatives thinks this is not the government's business, that the government should be pretty much almost completely out of this business and therefore take the President's campaign promises where you can keep the most popular parts of Obamacare which happen to be the most expensive parts of Obamacare. That's where they're philosophically (inaudible).

MECKLER: I think that's absolutely. And I think that we see all sorts of reasons we haven't talked about all the interest groups, the conservative groups, the hospitals and health care groups who are basically universally opposed to this. There are a lot of problems with this bill.

I think though, at the end of the day, the question is if it is on the verge of collapse and they say to the party, OK, here are your choices, you vote for this and this is what Ryan is trying to say, or we keep what we have. Then will people decide, you know what, I can't live with that. We'll see.

KING: More questions than answers at the moment. And if you want to hear the answers to some of those questions from the house speaker, he'll be a guest on "The Lead with Jake Tapper", later this afternoon at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. That will be an interesting conversation. You can bet on that.

Up next, this chief strategist says he wants to deconstruct the administrative state. So just how deep will the cuts run in President Trump's first budget?


[12:43:02] KING: Live pictures there from our affiliate WDIV. That's Air Force One on the ground in Detroit. The President there for an economic event. We're told he may ease admission standards on the automobile industry. We're looking forward to that announcement from the President a little bit. Waiting him to get off the plane. We'll keep an eye. We'll keep that picture right there so you can watch the President deplaning out in Detroit as I said.

The President's administration tomorrow releases its first budget. The White House is promising a conservative blueprint that proposes deep cuts across the federal government. Here's how the President's budget director lays it out.


MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR OF OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: The president ran very, very clearly on priorities. And the priorities are spending money at home on national defense, on border control, on immigration enforcement, in order to prioritize those spendings without adding to that already large deficit, the money has to come from someplace.


KING: The money has to come from someplace. And the President is on the record from the campaign saying I'm not going to touch Medicare and Social Security. And so, as they try to get the money from some place, as he gives more to the Pentagon, more to the Department of Homeland Security for immigration and homeland security issues, we're told the EPA, the education department, and other federal agencies are going to have a hard time. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: State Department.

KING: State department. Going to see their funding cut. You see the President by the way getting off the plane there in Detroit. We'll keep this picture up and watch the President deplane as we have the conversation.

It's very important as you watch the President. Your budget is your priorities. Your budget is your philosophy of government. Your first budget lays down a marker in this town, which is still getting to know this President.

Can he sell that? He does have Republicans in both the House and Senate but there are a lot of moderate Republicans specially and some Republicans who just have pet projects on where you live or something on this, were going to say, wait a minute, you can't do that.

PARKER: Sure. And it's funny because even these agencies that are very popular targets, there's actually things that even Republicans who don't like these agencies like that the agencies do even if they wouldn't publicly admit it. So that what like you mention, the Pet Project. That will be one tough sell certainly. And then the other thing is this budget from what we're hearing is promising historic contraction of the federal workforce.

[12:45:04] And I know President Trump promised to drain the swamp. But these are federal workers. Believe it or not, there are real people who live in Washington, D.C. and Virginia and work in the government and they're going to be hard hit. And I don't think that's going to be popular.


SHEAR: Well, look, I think two things to keep in mind. One is one of the President's big promises on the campaign trail was not only to reduce and eliminate the deficit but to eliminate the entire debt of the United States during his eight years. This budget proposal does nothing to even begin that process because just as he's cutting, he's increasing on the other side, right? He's cutting the domestic problems to increase defense. So that's one point.

And the second point is keep in mind that while it is a blueprint and it tells you something about his priorities, this thing like most President's first budgets is largely dead on arrival. It's going to go to Congress and it's going to be ripped to shreds and then other people's priorities on Capitol Hill will going to be put back in. And some of it may survive but a lot of it won't.

KING: Well, it's directly (inaudible) and I agree with you completely. The President sends it up and then you have 535 editors on Capitol Hill.


KING: But if you're Paul Ryan, we talk about on health care earlier, he has a blueprint. You have the Tea Party guys who are elected in 2010 and 2014. They came here to shrink this town. And if you can't really bend the deficit arc unless you deal with Social Security and Medicare and this President said in the campaign, I'm not touching them. We're not spending it.

So, when he gets -- if it is declared dead on arrival or metaphorically it's dead on arrival, are they going to try to go deeper than the President on the Republican side or they just going to try to move his math around?

KUCINICH: There are a lot of cooks. There are a lot of cooks in this process. And that's not something Donald Trump is necessarily used to. We're talking about someone who's the CEO of very large company who is used to being the final word. That's not the case right now. And so we'll have to see how he deals with this. It's going to be a lot of outreach.

He is having this bowl -- I know, it's been rescheduled -- I mean his bowling event with the Freedom Caucus. Bowling and pizza. Things like that are going to have to start happening on the regular if the President does want to get what he wants and wants to negotiate around the areas that you're talking about which conservatives likely want to cut deeper.

MECKLER: And keep in mind, there also is still moderate Republicans and Democrats in the Senate who matter on this. You need 60 votes in the Senate to pass the spending bills. So they're going to be weighing in too. I don't think that there's the, you know, slashing of the State Department and the EPA and even in the Department of Homeland Security which is seeing a big increase for things like border security. They're cutting funding for TSA.

I mean, are there going to be a lot of members who want to cut TSA funding and then the next time there's, you know, God forbid something that happens in the airport, all the fingers get pointed? So, I think that this is going to be a lot tougher when you starting getting into the actual reality of what these mean.

You can say a 30 percent cut to EPA, but what does that actually mean? And these members know what it means because they've been working with the budget year in and year out. So, I do think that this is going to face a much tougher challenge than it would appear today or tomorrow when we see this budget.

KING: Let's bring back as we see the question of the President on the road. How much does he need his voters out there to help him with the nitty-gritty of his big battles back here?

PARKER: I think Donald Trump voters are his valuable asset and his most valuable tool. I mean, you've seen these frenzied rallies. He can get them excited. And as we know, you know, sort of the idiom of a speaker is, you know, know your district. And if people in a member's district love what the President is doing, are being told to support this, they start calling the offices, that will matter to these members especially in house districts.

SHEAR: Can I just talk for one thing on that? I agree with Ashley about Donald Trump's supporters and voters but President Obama learned this lesson too. That often times you have this amazing political network that gets you elected and it's hard to translate that --

KING: Right.

SHEAR: -- into governing support, right? People who are out there on doors, you know, people knock their doors saying, well, we want you to give support for the President on his, you know, debt ceiling increase.

KING: Yes.

SHEAR: Well, that -- what do I do with that? You know, they don't know how to translate that into support.

MECKLER: They'll had to translate that into support in health care.


SHEAR: Donald Trump may find out that too.

KING: It's hard. And we'll see this is a big test.

SHEAR: Right.

KING: Because this event tonight especially being paid for by his campaign. I think it's smart of them. They try to understand. They lost popular vote and won the election. We're trying to keep their campaign organization up and running lean and mean. We'll see how it go.

Up next, our reporters share their notebooks, including how the White House is trying to wine and dine the health care bill into law.


[12:51:55] KING: Welcome back. Let's close as we always do. We have reporters (inaudible) around our table. We like to ask and share from their notebooks to get you out ahead of the big political news just around the corner. Ashley Parker?

PARKER: I am following the Mike Pence term offensive. Today, he's on the Hill meeting privately with various Republican and Conservative groups. And one thing he's doing quietly is he's reserved one night a week where he has lawmakers to his residence for sort of private dinners where he does a little bit more of the salesmanship. It's not the Trump rallies but it's over a meal. Little arm twisting, a little could join trying to get these legislative initiatives through.

KING: Nice house too up there (inaudible). Laura?

MECKLER: President Trump's revised travel ban of the six-month Muslim majority nations takes effect at midnight tonight unless a court stops it. There are two challenges pending including one in Maryland where arguments were heard this morning over that ban. The question before the court whether they're going to put another temporary hold on it or not.

The substantive question is, does this amount to religious discrimination based on things that President Trump said when he was a candidate? Does that matter that he called for a Muslim ban then even though he says now it's nothing like that. So we'll have to see what the court says in Maryland and possible Hawaii.

KING: We'll watch those later today. I bet we'll talk about it here tomorrow. Michael?

SHEAR: You know, I -- we talked a little bit about the rally in Nashville tonight. I think it's worth paying attention to the fact that he's really quickly doing another one this time in Kentucky on Monday. Hasn't been formally announced but it's on his campaign website.

And I think -- you know, I think what the key thing to watch here is the ways in which he merges the political rally style that he's -- that we're all used to attacking the media, fake news and all that with the more substantive questions that we talked about on the budget and on health care. And those two things are going to get mixed up in the sort of boisterous fund that he has at these rallies.

KING: Targeting Rand Paul take two. Jackie?

KUCINICH: Speaking of health care, the Kaiser Health tracking poll has new the numbers out today that are interesting. But the one that popped out to me was the number of people who support non-abortion services being funded by Medicaid for Planned Parenthood. 75 percent of those polled said they believe that those services for primarily low-income people should be kept intact. And it's not just Democrats. It went across all of the groups that were polled. Men, women, Republicans, independents want this particular piece to stay funded.

KING: One of the many fights as we go forward on the details there. I'll close with this. A political organization loyal to House Speaker Paul Ryan is airing a new round of T.V. ads aimed at shoring up House Republicans who back the leadership's health care bill. The new American action network ad by those relatively modest about 1$1.5 million that there isn't more support for the plan is quite telling.

For starters, several conservative groups that traditionally spend a lot of money on T.V. ads to support Republican initiatives, they oppose or at best lukewarm to the current Republican health care plan.

Plus, groups that are supportive including the business community not ready to commit to any serious money right now. Their hesitation? A lack of faith in a Trump White House political operation they simply don't trust and don't see as up to speed as the administration hits the 60-day mark. Watch for that. Need T.V. ads to try to sell this one.

[12:55:07] Thanks for joining us on "Inside Politics." Hope to see you back here tomorrow at noon. Remember "The Lead with Jake Tapper" has the House Speaker Paul Ryan. Also a big CNN town hall with the Health and Human Services secretary. Tom Price. Wolf Blitzer in the chair after a quick break.