Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Unemployment Drops to 4.4 Percent, Lowest in 10 Years; President Announces First Overseas Trip; Health Care Bill Heads to Bigger Fight in Senate. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired May 5, 2017 - 10:00   ET

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


[10:00:00]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman. Poppy is off today. We are following breaking news. 4.4 percent. That is the lowest unemployment rate in ten years. That is a seriously good headline for thousands and thousands of people. That's from a brand-new jobs report out just a short time ago. We also learned that the U.S. economy added 211,000 jobs. That is way above expectations. I'm joined now by CNN's chief business correspondent, Christine Romans. Big, good numbers.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes and you're going to need a lot more months like that to fulfill the president's promise of 25 million new jobs over the next ten years.

BERMAN: That's a whole different -- thing.

ROMANS: So, this is just the first step in a journey of 25 million jobs. Let's take a look at the unemployment rate because that's the headline here. John is so right. 4.4 percent. Just look at that chart. I mean, 2007 -- May 2007 was the last time we had a rate this low and then the whole world fell apart. And it's taken years, years to get back to that level, a decade, actually.

It's a level that many economists consider full employment. What does that mean? It means that companies can't find workers and that workers have the upper hand and you can start to see wages rise. I haven't seen that yet. 2.5 percent rate wage growth in this report. You'd like to see it more robust than that and that's been one of the sticky parts of this recovery for many, many months and years now.

The job growth at 211,000, as I mentioned, that's a nice, strong clip, but it reverses what looked like a bit of a cooling of optimism among employers back in March. On the president to fulfill that promise of 25 million jobs over the next ten years, he's got to come in really at about this level every month.

BERMAN: The journey of 1,000 miles begins with 211,000 -- I'm missing the close there.

ROMANS: I know.

BERMAN: Where are the jobs being added? ROMANS: So, financial services we saw. We saw again in health care, about 37,000 jobs there. -- The manufacturing job number is interesting, John, because the last three months, there have been manufacturing job gains. Same period last year, there were manufacturing job losses. So, economists are telling me that they think the president's rhetoric, if not his policies, is inspiring a little bit of that pickup in manufacturing.

Although, it can also -- the dollar can factor at and global trends. And let me show you this. I want to show you this chart that we made for you, since March 2010, when Obamacare was signed into law, look at how jobs have been created in health care. You have about 15.6 million jobs in health care right now. That's about 1.5 million gain over the past few years.

BERMAN: Wow.

ROMANS: So, it's just a reminder that this sector of the economy is about a fifth of the economy. It amounts to 15.6 million jobs. And we know that some of the hospital systems and some of the -- especially the university hospitals have been adding facilities, adding jobs, all kinds of different jobs, many of them well paid, because they have this new bunch of customers, paying customers who have health insurance. It will be really fascinating to see how that affects the tweaks and -- not tweaks, the big, big scalpel they're taking to health care in Washington -- will change the jobs.

BERMAN: Medical associations, hospital associations, insurance associations are all concerned at a minimum or maximum, I should say, but at a minimum, they're watching closely what's happening.

ROMANS: That right. They absolutely are. AARP out again, you know, has been against this reform effort from the very beginning, actually, saying what this amounts to is a tax, an age tax on seniors. And a lot of women's groups were very upset, because if you're talking about taking away out of a basic health services, essential health services, maternity care, then are you essentially saying that women have to pay more for their health care? I mean, is that -- you know?

BERMAN: This is something that will be discussed and debated on the Senate floor starting very, very soon. Christine Romans, great to have you with us.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: Thank you very, very much.

On the subject of health care, we discuss new words from President Trump moments ago continuing his victory lap on the health care bill. He wrote this, "Big win in the House - very exciting! But when everything comes together with the inclusion of Phase 2, we will have truly great healthcare!"

Now, the Senate, they take over right now. We have been told by Republican senators they will write their own completely new version of the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. CNN's MJ Lee is on Capitol Hill right now where, MJ, it's really all just beginning.

MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: That's right. You know, I don't want to be the person to burst the president's bubble, but it might be a little too early to be taking a victory lap and this is why. As you've mentioned, the Senate is probably going to work on its own version of the health care bill. Senate Republicans have already indicated that they're not really interested in the House version of the bill. There is already a working group of Senate Republicans, including moderate Republicans as well as conservative Republicans and they are going to try to figure out over the next couple of weeks, what bill do we want to actually get out of the Senate.

[10:05:03] Now, they are also working under the constraints of the Byrd Rule because this is going through the budget reconciliation process. So, all in all, this is going to be a complicated and drawn- out process once again. So, it could be months before President Trump potentially sees something to actually sign on his desk.

Now, having laid out all of those caveats, let's talk about the bill that the House actually passed yesterday, because it does make some fundamental changes to Obamacare. First of all, it would get rid of the Obamacare subsidies. Those would be replaced by refundable tax credits. And the individual and employer mandates in Obamacare are also gone. And older Americans could be charged more money for coverage and Medicaid expansion -- this is a big one -- would go away by 2020.

Now, the one issue that was probably the biggest political hang-up in the House, John, was the issue of pre-existing conditions. And after a lot of debating and a lot of fighting in the House, what House Republicans decided on is that they would let states ask for a waiver from the exemption -- getting an exemption, rather, from the Obamacare requirement that insurance companies cannot charge people more who have pre-existing conditions. And this became such a big flashpoint because pre-existing conditions really affect so many people. We're talking about everything from cancer, diabetes, obesity and mental disorders. And so, this was a very big issue in the House and now the Senate is going to have to deal with it all over again.

BERMAN: And MJ, you know I spoke to Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana just a few moments ago. He is a Republican. He is a physician. He's got his own plan that he's proposed with Susan Collins. And he wouldn't say that he would outright not vote for the House bill. He basically says that's a nonstarter because he doesn't have to vote on the House bill. But he made crystal clear that he's very concerned about people with pre-existing conditions and he does not sound as if he would support the measure the House was proposing. Likewise on caps, he's very concerned on caps that might be imposed, annual caps and lifetime caps as well. Mitch McConnell has his work cut out for him. He can't lose many Republican senators on this.

LEE: That's right. I mean the last couple of months we've been talking about, well, House Speaker Paul Ryan could lose 21 votes, 22 votes and still get this bill through House. Well, in the Senate, that margin is a lot smaller. They can -- they need to have 51 Senate Republicans vote for this. And you know, assuming that Senate Democrats are not going to get behind this bill and I think that they have been closely watching everything that has been going on across the building in the House and figuring out what are the issues that are going to be hang- ups for us and how are constituents going to be responding to this.

Remember, lawmakers left town yesterday, at least in the House and now they are going to confront a lot of town halls back in their home states and back in their home districts. And hearing from their constituents on what just went down this week in the House and whether they are going to be happy with the bill that doesn't have a CBO score and that did not, frankly, get a lot of debate in the House.

BERMAN: All right, MJ Lee for us on Capitol Hill. Want to bring in my panel now to discuss this. It's sort of a mystery panel because I don't exactly know who's quite ready yet. I do know CNN senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny is with me now. Oh, I see everyone! This is a miracle, a TV miracle. Jeff Zeleny is here. Salena Zito, CNN contributor, reporter for "The Washington Examiner," Dana Bash, CNN chief political correspondent and Mark Preston, CNN senior political analyst. Thank you, one and all, very, very much for being here.

Mark Preston, let me just start with you, because we have this combination of the House passing their version of repealing and replacing Obamacare. Yesterday and this morning, people waking up or maybe waking up late at day tuned into the news that the economy added 211,000 jobs. You know, this is a decent morning for President Trump.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, no doubt. I mean, listen, I think it's more important that we saw these jobs added. We saw that report come out this morning for President Trump, than what we actually saw in the Rose Garden ceremony yesterday. For me, I think that the Republicans really were celebrating a little bit too early. As we spoke about yesterday and we'll continue to do so over the next, you know, couple days, couple weeks, is that this bill in its incarnation is not going to be what we see, John, when the Senate gets a hold of it.

So, the Senate is going to drastically alter what is in this bill at this time. And quite frankly, we're going to see members of Congress. These House members who are going to be back home in their districts next week and that's when we're going to get the CBO score. And if we remember what the last CBO score said, it said about 24 million people were going to be knocked off of insurance. So, you know, that could be difficult for these members of Congress who voted for the bill when they're back home with their constituents.

BERMAN: You know, I don't even know if they're going to alter it. It sounds like they're just going to -- disregard it and write a new version and deal with marrying the two later on, which sometimes is what happens in Washington.

Salena Zito, to you, because when we talk about pre-existing conditions, which was really the hot point right up until the end here of this measure. If you look at the 11 states, the 11 states with the people with the highest percentage of pre-existing conditions.

[10:10:00] They are all states that Donald Trump won. And you can go to other states, some of the swing states, some of the purple states where Donald Trump won also. You know that they're areas where people with high percentages of pre-existing conditions are there as well. So, how careful do Republicans need to be in addressing this going forward?

SALENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR AND REPORTER "THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER": I think that they need to be incredibly careful. My reporting has shown that the past seven weeks, conservative members of the Senate as well as moderate members of the Senate in the Republican Party have been meeting all the time for the past seven weeks to iron out sort of what the boiler plate is, or at least the beginning of what their version of the bill will look like. So, it's not like they're just getting this and they're going to start.

They have been talking about this for at least seven weeks. And Mark is right, it's a clean slate. They're going to start all over. Pre- existing conditions I think is going to be the centerpiece of this, because that is a very important part of people's lives and part of their pocketbook. And they're going to be watching this with a lot of scrutiny because this is an important part of how they look at this bill.

BERMAN: And Dana Bash, you know, Mitch McConnell explained to me the role he plays going forward and the difference between Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. Look, up until yesterday afternoon, Paul Ryan was seen as a policy wonk who couldn't necessarily handle the inner workings of the politics of the House of Representatives. Maybe that changed yesterday afternoon. No one has ever accused Mitch McConnell of not being able to handle the politics of the Senate.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He is the ultimate sort of insider, meaning that he knows the inside game and he knows how to make things work. And look, I mean, to -- in Paul Ryan's defense and you know this, John, the House is a very different beast than the Senate for many different reasons. But this is Mitch McConnell's sweet spot, finding a deal and he did it in the Obama administration across the aisle. And now the question is, whether he can do it within his own party.

But you know, I think that the key question is what this working group that is already up and running, about a dozen, a little more than a dozen Republicans in the Senate across the GOP spectrum, from the most moderate, Susan Collins, to the most conservative, Mike Lee, are working on and where are they going to come up with -- what are they going to come up with, rather. But I think that the other interesting note is that they have said in a crystal-clear way, every member of that spectrum that they're not going to do what the House is going to do. They're not going to just, you know, vote on something that they don't know about. They're not going to vote on something that doesn't have a CBO score.

One of my favorite lines that I've read this morning is from the ever- quotable Lindsey Graham talking about the fact that his colleagues in the House knew nothing about what was in the bill. He said, "I'm still waiting to see if it's a boy or a girl." BERMAN: Yes, the unquotable Lindsey Graham right there. Jeff Zeleny, -- I'm going to shift gears here. The president's first foreign trip, we learned the three countries he's going to go and the order, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican. It's a fascinating itinerary. Look, it's fascinating to go to Canada or Mexico first, which is traditional, but this is a fascinating itinerary he's choosing to do, risk/reward.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I mean, high risk, I think. I mean, one of the things the administration says it's trying to do is send the message that they are open to the Muslim world. I mean, of course, his Muslim ban was at the centerpiece of his campaign, but he hopes there is what he calls a "historic summit" in Saudi Arabia. He's going to be focusing on meeting other world leaders from that part of the world but also so focused on Middle East peace.

This is one of the things he promised and that's the -- you know, it's been so elusive for president after president, but he is trying that. But in addition to this, he's also going to the NATO summit as well as meeting leaders at the G7 in Sicily, so a huge agenda at the end of this month. Health care will still be going on, of course. It will not be through the Senate at that point, but he is going to turn his attention to the world stage.

And it's a test for him, his American first agenda and other things. We'll see him in a different way. It's one of the reasons he's sort of having a working weekend, not working today on a Friday, a clear schedule. He's already preparing for these meetings. He needs prep work.

BERMAN: Working weekend at a golf course, his golf course.

ZELENY: His golf course, where else?

BERMAN: Where else? All right, Jeff Zeleny, Dana Bash, Salena Zito, Mark Preston, thank you one and all.

Democrats are blasting the Republican Party for celebrating the health care bill. Of course, Republicans are blasting Democrats for singing the "Nah, Nah, Nah" song afterwards. We're going to speak to a key U.S. governor who will have to implement parts of this bill, if it ever passes. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, you see him right there.

Plus, a new airline, a new apology, video of people being kicked off a plane, including young kids. Check out why this video is now putting Delta in the hot seat.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:19:10] BERMAN: This morning, Republicans in the Senate say they will write their own health care bill, conceding that the measure that just passed the House is flawed. Democrats, not surprisingly, going much further in their assessment. They say, if this bill is passed as is, people will die. Our next guest is right in the middle of this discussion, Democrat Terry McAuliffe, the governor of Virginia, the chair of the National Governor Association. He joins us now from Richmond. Governor, thank you so much for being with us. The House bill, if it passes, what would it mean for Virginia?

GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), VIRGINIA: It'd be a disaster for the commonwealth of Virginia. We had about 400,000 people who now have health care because of the ACA. It would lose -- their premiums go up. Individuals in Virginia with pre-existing conditions could see their premiums go up so high that they no longer would get coverage. Those non-expansion states like Virginia, we will now be locked in, unfortunately, if they go the per-cap route. Expansion states will be included. We will not be included.

[10:20:07] So, this would be very bad. I work every day, John to build a new Virginia economy. I need a healthy workforce. In order to have a healthy workforce, we got to make sure everybody has access to quality care and this bill would have people would actually lose their care, which is very unfortunate for us.

And what I find really offensive, John, is they did this, they didn't wait for the CBO and there's a reason why. They knew that the numbers would be up. It was 24 million last time. And that the cost was going to be exorbitant, so they rushed this through. And what I really found highly offensive is you know, they all celebrated last night. I read a story they were bringing in pallets and pallets of Bud Light beer that they tried to hide. You know --

BERMAN: I think that ended up being not true with the beer, but go ahead.

MCAULIFFE: Well, I think they did a lot of celebrating last night, John. And what do you tell that woman -- let's say up in Fairfax County that yesterday, found out that she has cancer? Now, today she has health coverage, but she could lose that. I mean, well, they're all high-fiving at the White House last night, having a good old time. I would like some of those members to come out to Virginia and look these families in the face who the only reason this mother or father's got coverage is because of the ACA.

It needed to be fixed. There was no question. And my hopes is the Senate --

BERMAN: Well, it needs to be fixed. -- Let's take this one by one, if we can. It needs to be fixed. In Virginia alone, you know that Aetna just announced that it is pulling out of the individual market, which leaves, what, 27 counties, by one estimate, could only have one choice for 2018. So, you know that as it stands now with no changes, Virginia's in trouble in terms of Obamacare.

MCAULIFFE: Well, first of all, John, let me just give you the facts. We have a very robust health care delivery system. We still have eight or nine plans without Aetna's. So, we're fine in Virginia --

BERMAN: 27 counties with just one plan, though. So there will be people who have no choices.

MCAULIFFE: Yes and the point I have always said from day one, of course this needs to be fixed. We have, you know, 20 million people who have health coverage today. I have 400,000 more Virginians who have coverage only because of it and that's what my hope for the Senate is. I do believe that Senate will understand these issues. The House, it was pure politics to rush it through without a CBO analysis and then all partying last night at the White House. That is the wrong message. The governors, you know, we're responsible day to day for the delivery of the Medicaid. --

BERMAN: You are.

MCAULIFFE: So, what they do up there in Washington falls on our desks. And what they're going to do is cut coverage, people are going to die if that health care plan went through and it's not going to create a healthy workforce so we can compete on a global basis.

BERMAN: Let me ask you about -- now, Medicaid is one issue and your facts on that are true. I mean, they are cutting Medicaid. Medicaid expansion will be reduced substantially. But on the pre-existing conditions specifically, look, you're the governor. You could opt not to waive the requirements. You could opt not to change a thing for people with pre-existing conditions in Virginia, correct?

MCAULIFFE: You're right and that would cost us state dollars. And here's the conflict, the issues we have. We're going to have to use state dollars, where today we are using federal dollars and we haven't been able to expand Medicaid here. We're very unfortunate, John. We have forfeited $10.4 billion as of today. We could have done it with no risk to the state. Our mutual goal is to have a healthy workforce.

So, we're going to do -- in fact, because we didn't expand Medicaid -- I put a health plan in place called the Governor's Access Plan. 5,000 pregnant women in Virginia today have access to dental care only because I did it at the state level and I'm using state dollars. But the end goal of the House bill, I am going to have less money, people are going to lose health coverage and those that today, those 400,000 who may have a pre-existing condition, ultimately, they're going to fall out of the health care plan and I just don't think the celebration yesterday should have gone on when people are struggling at home today with serious medical issues.

BERMAN: Well, let's talk about the celebrations, because you have taken issue with that. The flip side of that is that on the House floor, Democrats were singing the "Goodbye" song. I think we have video of this as the Republicans were voting on that plan. Look, you didn't like the cheering. You didn't like the House celebration, but what about singing a song when votes are being cast, as you pointed out, about people's lives? Is this the right level of political discourse?

MCAULIFFE: No. John, I'll be honest with you, I don't like any of it. As I say, governors, we sit at home and we have to run these programs. I travel throughout the commonwealth. We have a program once a year in Wise County called the RAM clinic. Thousands of people, literally many of them come out of the mountains to get health care one day a year. I meet these folks. I know some of them will not be alive next year. This is not a joking matter. This is very serious. And this is why people have just had it with Congress. Nothing is getting done. And the only things they're actually doing are actually hurting us at the state level where we're responsible for job-creation, economic development, education and transportation. Stop the politics!

[10:25:02] What do people want from their elected officials, John? They want a great-quality job. They want their kids to get a quality education. They want to get on the roads and drive to see their kids play a ball game and not take two hours to do it and they want health care. That's it! I wish the Congress would focus on those issues and help us work together. I compete. I just got home from Mexico late last night doing trade deals down there. Help us do what we need to do to build a vibrant economy and a global economy. And all they're doing today is hurting us.

BERMAN: Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. We do appreciate your time. --

MCAULIFFE: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: Sir, one thing is crystal clear, whatever happens with Congress, you know, the Governor is right, governors take on new, added responsibility on this. That is the case. Thanks so much, Governor.

All right, a new airline finds itself in the hot seat after throwing a family off a flight. A new apology this morning, but is this part of a bigger, still as yet unfixed problem in the airline industry?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)