Return to Transcripts main page


President Trump Unveils Tax Plan; Trump: "We Have the Votes" for Health Care. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired September 27, 2017 - 16:00   ET



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And John (ph) is in the fencing company, as you heard.

And I'm just thinking -- I have to mention this -- you know, we have a fence around the White House. We have a fence around the White House. And they want to build a new fence.

And I figured, you know, I'm pretty good at construction. I figured, I don't know, maybe a million, maybe a million-and-a-half. And this has been taking place over a long period of time, previous administrations.

So, I said, how much is the fence you are talking around the White House?

Sir, the fence will cost approximately $50 million.

I said, what?


TRUMP: I kid you not. And we have thousands of things like that. Thousands.

We are going to get it all down. But think of that, $50 million. Now, I assume it's a strong fence.



So, John, do you think you could do it slightly less than $50 million? I think you can take 49 off right now and would have -- and you would have plenty of profit, right? Right, John? It's crazy. It's crazy.


TRUMP: Never understand it. But we are working on it.

John says that a tax cut like we are proposing will make his business more competitive, allowing him to expand, hire more workers, and raise wages for his current employees, right, John?

Also with us is Aaron Williams (ph), a father of two, who works in the field of information technology.

Where is Aaron? Hello, Aaron. Hi. It's a good field.

Aaron has seen the disastrous effects of high, and just literally high corporate tax rates right up close and personal, as more and more high-tech jobs are shipped overseas. You have been watching it, Aaron, right, all over.

Like millions of other Americans, Aaron wants to bring those jobs back to the United States. We are going to reduce the tax rate on American businesses, so they can keep the jobs in America, Aaron, create jobs in America, compete for workers in America, and raise wages right here in America.

You are going to be in a much different position. OK? Tremendous incentives.


TRUMP: We want more products proudly stamped with those four beautiful words, made in the USA, right, made in the USA.


TRUMP: Finally, our framework encourages American companies to bring back the trillions and trillions of dollars in wealth that's parked overseas.

Our current tax system -- trillions.


TRUMP: And, by the way, for years, I have been hearing it's $2.5 trillion. So, I have been hearing this for about five years, so I assume it's much more, right?

But Democrats want to do it and Republicans want to do it for years. Who doesn't want to do it? They want to bring -- but they can't do it, because it's so restrictive and the taxes are so ridiculous, so they can't do it. So the money stays in other countries. And it's invested in other countries. We want to bring it back.

But think of it. It's one of the things Democrats want it and Republicans want it. So, they both want it, and yet, for years, they haven't been able to do it. Now we are doing it. We are doing things.


TRUMP: You know, it's one thing when we want a health care and they want a health care and there is a dispute.

But here's something everybody wants, and they can't do it. So you can tell you -- there's a broken system in D.C., but we are getting it fixed rather -- I think rather rapidly. You will be seeing that over the next few months. Our current tax system makes us one of the few developed nations in

the world to punish our companies when they bring wealth earned overseas back into our country.

We are punishing them for bringing the money back in. As a result, corporations have parked many trillions of dollars in foreign countries. And many have incorporated abroad in order to avoid our punitive tax system all to the.

And some companies actually leave our country because they have so much money overseas, so much -- it's an incredible amount -- that they move the company to get their money. We are going to let them bring the money back home.


TRUMP: Our framework will stop punishing companies for keeping their headquarters in the United States.


We are punishing companies under our codes for being in the United States. We will impose a one-time low tax on returning money that is already offshore, so that it can be brought back home to America, where it belongs, and where it can be put to work, and work, and work.


TRUMP: The framework I have just described represents a once-in-a- generation opportunity to reduce taxes, rebuild our economy, and restore America's competitive edge, finally.


TRUMP: And I have to say, just before coming here, we released some of the details of the tax and the tax reform and the tax cuts, and it has really received tremendous, tremendous reviews.

And if Senator Donnelly doesn't approve it, because, you know, he's on the other side, we will come here, we will campaign against him like you wouldn't believe.


TRUMP: I think they are going to approve it.

I think we will have -- actually, I think we will have numerous Democrats come across, because it's the right thing to do.

These reforms will be a dramatic change from a failed tax system that encourages American businesses to ship jobs to foreign countries that have much lower tax rates. That's what we can't do. Our competitors have much lower tax rates, but no longer.

My administration strongly rejects this offshoring model. And we have embraced the new model. It's called the American Model. (APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Under the American Model, we are reducing burdens in our businesses as long as they do business in our country. That's what we want. We want them to do business in our country, not to leave our country, like a number of firms from Indiana.

Some made some great promises to me, but those promises are only being partially kept, because they are incentivized to leave. But now they're going to be incentivized to stay. And if that doesn't work, then we will get even tougher than that, OK?

We want our companies to hire and grow in America and to raise wages for American workers and to help rebuild American cities and towns.


TRUMP: That is how we will all succeed together and grow together, as one team, one people, and one American family. We want it to happen here.


TRUMP: Tax reform has not historically been a partisan issue, and it does not have to be a partisan issue today.

I really believe we are going to have numerous Democrats come over and sign, because it's the right thing to do. I believe that. It's the right thing to do. And I know many of them. And they are telling me it is the right thing to do.

President Reagan's tax cuts were passed with significant bipartisan majorities at a time when there was a Democrat majority in the House and a Democrat speaker, Tip O'Neill.

Before that, Democrat President John F. Kennedy championed tax cuts that surged the economy and massively reduced unemployment. As President Kennedy very wisely said, the single most important fiscal weapon available to strengthen the national economy is the federal tax policy.

The right kind of tax cut at the right time, at the right time -- this is the right time -- is the most effective measure that this government could take to spur our economy forward. That was Senator -- that was President Kennedy.


TRUMP: My fellow Americans, this is the right tax cut. And this is the right time.

Democrats and Republicans in Congress should come together, finally, to deliver this giant win for the American people and begin middle- class miracle. It's called a middle class miracle once again.

[16:10:10] It's also called a miracle for our great companies, a miracle for the middle class, for the working person.

I truly believe that many Democrats want to support our plan. And with enough encouragement from the American people, they will find the courage to do what is right for our great country.


TRUMP: But they will only do it if you, the American people, make your voices heard, only if you tell Congress to give us a tax code that puts American jobs first. And that's what we're doing.


TRUMP: History has proven time and time again that there is no power on Earth more awesome than the will of the American people.

That is why, today, I am asking all Americans, Republican, Democrat, independent, to join with me and with each other to demand tax reform that will truly, truly, truly make America great again.


TRUMP: Call your congressman. Call your senators. Let them know you're watching. Let them know you're waiting. Tell them that today is the day for decision, that now is the time to heal this self- inflicted economic wound, and that, with their action, the future will belong to all of us.

If you demand it, the politicians will listen. They will answer. And they will act. And, some day, many years from now, our children and our grandchildren will remember this moment in history as the time when ordinary Americans took control of their destiny and chose a future of American patriotism, prosperity, and pride.


TRUMP: With your help, and your voice, we will bring back our jobs, we will bring back our wealth, and for every citizen across this land, we will bring back our great American dreams.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.


TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jim Sciutto, in for Jake Tapper.

You have been listening to President Trump there in Indianapolis launching another grand plan that he says will upgrade, will change, revolutionize the American tax code.

Key, though, we should say, a lot of ideas in there, but none of the math, none of the effects on the budget, and no real hard numbers.

He also had words on the health care, the attempts to repeal Obamacare, saying, somewhat cryptically, that we have the votes, Republicans have the votes. This is after the Republican leadership said in no uncertain terms yesterday they do not in fact have the votes.

He also had words for Puerto Rico, saying that the U.S. will be with Puerto Rico every step of the way, will be with the island until, he says, this job is done.

My political panel is here with me now.

I want to start with you, if you can, Bill Kristol.

You listened to that tax plan. You have the outlines there, really just the broadest of outlines. Do you hear something there that could make it through, make it to reality?


And I hear parts -- parts of that plan could make it through. I don't know that they need to make it through. I think everyone has -- the Republicans certainly -- for Republicans, this is the -- what's the word I'm looking for, the magic thing at the end of the rainbow, you know?

Obamacare repeal, a huge disappointment. Lots of other things haven't happened. Taxes, that's what Republicans -- Bob Novak...


KRISTOL: The late Bob Novak used to say, Republicans were put on Earth to cut taxes. And I think a lot of Republican members believe that, but at the risk of increasing the deficit, at the risk of rewarding wealthy people, or then poor people, at the risk of rewarding capital...

SCIUTTO: Well, not at the risk. These numbers, they increase the deficit. There's no evidence that this is paid for.

KRISTOL: And that certainly -- wealth distributional questions.

I would say also this, that economists -- I talked to a couple today, and one of the big things of the last 20 years under presidents of both parties, capital has done well, labor has not. Working-class people at best have steady wages.

[16:15:02] People own stocks and real estate and stuff done pretty well. This tax plan if you look at it quickly, pretty good for stocks and real estate. Not that much for working class families.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Jim Palmieri, you hear the president there claim in his comments that numerous Democrats, in his words, will come on for this tax plan.


SCIUTTO: Do you see evidence? Do you see elements in here that they will come on board for?

PALMIERI: I don't -- I don't see elements they would come on board with the plan that they laid out today. And I just -- I have a hard time imagining anything that they can get 218 votes and a requisite votes needed in the Senate.

I mean, yes, you can try to do it. Chuck and Nancy play where you have a center left package, but why Speaker Ryan and McConnell take that to floor? I don't know.

So, if these guys tried health care three times, they couldn't get it done. I think they're going to have a very hard time get any package done. And if you can't get a package to the point where it's going to the floor, and it's a real -- there is something concrete for people to look at and analyze, you're not going to be able to pressure Democrats to join you.

SCIUTTO: Peter Morici, we're joined by an economist at the University of Maryland.

As you look at this, just in the simplest terms, do the numbers add up?

PETER MORICI, PROFESSOR INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: Well, we don't know what the numbers are because they haven't told us where the tax various tax bracket cut off and things of that nature. All we've been told is they have a $1.5 trillion budget over ten years.

From that, you know, doing reasonable economics and being somewhat optimistic, you figured it's going to increase the deficit in total by $1 trillion. There will be some growth. But they'll still be down by about a trillion.

It will make the tax system much simpler for most ordinary people. Remember, there were two issues, not just how much tax people pay, but what a terrible headache April 15th has become. This will relieve this headache for most people.

Another thing to consider is that the top 25 percent already pay, according to the IRS, about 87 percent of the taxes. So, it's kind of impossible to have a tax cut that doesn't help the top quarter of the population more than the rest.

And we do have a tax system that basically taxes capital. I know they have been doing well, but taxes capital more here than it is taxed in Europe and Japan. And that is one of the reasons the companies are leaving.

This will help somewhat. But we have to unpack it. How are they going to pay for it all on the corporate side? They're going to takeaway a lot of exemptions and deductions. Corporate rate right now is 35 percent. But effective rate is about

18 percent. Near as I can tell. Abroad, it's about 12. So, you know, putting $75 billion into that is going to reduce that 18 a bit. But there's going to be some companies, they're going to pay more taxes out of this thing even though there are a lot that will pay less.

SCIUTTO: Right. Chris Cillizza, you heard that there, one, increasing deficit by $1 trillion. That's not an insignificant number. But it's a frequent talking point. You'll hear it from Peter Morici, you hear it from any Republicans, that, well, the wealthy pay the vast majority of the taxes, therefore, they get the vast majority of the cuts in effect. But as you look at this plan, are those cuts imbalanced favoring the wealthy over the working class?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & EDITOR AT LARGE: If you have a plan that increases the deficit by $1 trillion, I find it extremely difficult to imagine that the hawkish Republican -- deficit hawks within the Republican Party, House and Senate, well, let's just talk about the House, I just don't know that they're going to go for that.


CILLIZZA: It does balance. But I just -- a trillion dollars, I can just hear the -- I feel like these debates, if you stay in Washington long enough, you hear them all again. We are bankrupting our grandchildren, you know, like that whole line will come back around.

Bill is right. You saw Trump saying this in the speech -- I've been waiting a long time to talk about this. This is the thing that drives the Republican Party. Health care. Obamacare certainly energized them. But health care broadly, no. Tax cuts, yes.

I just think it's very hard to get 218 Republicans to vote for anything. Ask John Boehner that. Ask and Paul Ryan that. Again, the devil is in the details. They laid out the tax brackets but not where the financial breaks will be, which does matter. How are you going to try to pay for these things? Some of the details he left to Congress.

You know, I think that gives him some agency. I just -- I always, I just hear the ads in my head, the TV ads, like they added a trillion dollars to the deficit.

KRISTOL: To help rich people.

CILLIZZA: Right, and that's a tough thing to get.

KRISTOL: Peter said correctly -- I mean, the wealthy pay the huge bulk of income taxes. One thing that's interesting is that, and now you can't believe, that's why Democrats don't talk more about this. There is a big tax that is not progressive and that is paid by every working American, called the payroll tax. We all see it on our thing there. I think it's worth 13.3 percent of -- big tax. Neither party incidentally has any interest in cutting that, even though working families are hurting. [16:20:00] I think if I were a moderate Democrat or something, I would

say, this is all unnecessary. Corporations have plenty of capital. Let's cut the payroll tax.

SCIUTTO: The quickest and easiest way to get cash into the pockets of the broadest spectrum Americans -- let's hold the thought for a moment on the tax plan, because it was quite an aggressive comment, you might say, by the president saying that he has the votes for the health care repeal, the Obamacare repeal, in light of the fact the Republican leadership, in fact, one of the sponsors, both of the sponsors of Graham-Cassidy said they do not have the votes.

CNN's Jim Acosta is traveling with the president today in Indianapolis. He joins me now live.

Jim, what was your reaction there as you heard the president make that claim that he has votes that everyone else says he doesn't have?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim, you said it was an aggressive comment that the president made when he said he has the votes on Graham-Cassidy. I guess you can say it was aggressively dishonest comment. The fact is, by our whip count, looking at the votes for all this, they don't have the votes to pass Graham-Cassidy at this point.

You heard the president during these remarks here at the top of these events make reference to Senator John McCain, Senator Lisa Murkowski, who say they are not going to support this legislation. He didn't really want to call them out by name.

He also referred to a senator who is ailing at home right now, although earlier in the day, we should point out, the president said that the senator was ailing in the hospital. That's simply not the case. That's in reference to Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran who put out a tweet earlier today saying he appreciated all the well wishes, but that he is recuperating at home from a health issue.

So, I mean, Jim, we just should point out, that was flat untrue. The president, the Republicans, they don't have the votes right now to pass Graham-Cassidy. In fact, Lindsey Graham himself, one of the main cosponsors of the legislation, put out a statement saying we certainly don't have the votes.

But that was hardly the only comment that stands out at this event, Jim. At one point, the president said, well, this tax plan doesn't really work for me. It doesn't really help people like me. Jim, we simply don't know whether or not that's true because the president, as you know, as we all know, refuses to release his tax returns.

And just to add to that, there was one point during this event where the president said, well, as I look out on this crowd, I see a lot of red hats. Jim, I only counted three.

So, like it is the case when you are doing your taxes, listening to the president today, certainly could use some careful accounting. The president certainly does not have the votes. And he has not released tax returns. We don't know whether this tax plan would help him or not -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Right. And sometimes the facts stand in the way.

Jim Acosta with the president there.

We don't know what the president's tax returns show because he hasn't released them. We do know that one element to this plan would very certainly help the president and his family, and that is the elimination of what the Republicans would call the death tax, the estate tax, which effects, we should note, one fifth of one percent of all estates. That's 1 in 500 people that are affected by this in practice, a tiny sliver, although that generates some $17 billion a year in revenue. It's a significant revenue earner.

How much of that an issue is that, Chris Cillizza, as you look at this? Peter, I hear you there. But let's go to Chris if we can first. For the president politically, he's pushing a tax plan, and yet he has not shown the American people how it will affect him personally.

CILLIZZA: It should be a really big issue. It won't be, because the people who are for Trump are going to like this plan, and the people who are against Trump will say he hasn't released tax returns, which I mean, I think is a valid point.

Just to repeat, sound like a broken clock, but he is the only major presidential candidate in modern history that not released tax returns. He's certainly the only president in modern history to not release his tax returns. So, we don't know. My guess the country is so polarized it won't matter.

Can I just say one thing about the health care thing? Jim Acosta gets it right. This makes no sense. This is -- he's not talking about anything -- Thad Cochran's vote, which is what he's talking about. That's the 47th vote for this. There are three senators against this, Rand Paul, John McCain and Susan Collins. If you subtract 52 from 3, you get 49. It doesn't matter.

So I don't know what he's talking about. I feel we've gotten ourselves inoculated because he's said so many things that are just provably false, we've gotten ourselves inoculated here. But you can't -- president of the United States, he's essentially saying we have the votes. If we had the votes, they would vote.

So, I think -- yes, that wasn't the focus of the speech, but it is an important thing. What he is saying is not true.

SCIUTTO: Well --

PALMIERI: The other thing what he said, you said that's not true. But other thing he admitted is it is not happening this year. He said we're coming back next year to do this. And you know what's happening in election year, you know, repealing Obamacare. So, it is done. It is now done until at least after 2018.

SCIUTTO: You mentioned health care debate. It is remarkably troubling story reported by "Axios" that in private, President Trump has physically mocked McConnell but also John McCain, in particular imitating McCain's thumb down during the health care vote. John McCain as we know is facing a life-threatening disease now. He's going to cancer treatment every day.

I just want to get, perhaps I get in with you, Bill, what's your reaction to that when the president of the United States takes aim in effect, in personal and you might even say odious terms against a sitting American senator?

KRISTO: I'm not surprised. He said things in the campaign that were as odious about senators and about others. So, I mean, that's his -- he does in private. Maybe it was in good nature imitating McCain's thumbs down. I don't know. I think McCain has suffered worst things in his life and will not care much about it.

But I think more generally -- I mean, look, getting attacked, leaving aside Obamacare that has its own problems getting the repeal, tax bills are very complicated. I mean, presidential leadership and making -- and leaders of Congress making bargains, they need Democrats ultimately on this, I think, getting Democrats on board. It's something that you don't want to gratuitous insult a bunch of senators or congressmen or members of your party or the other party.

When you're looking at a major legislative proposal that's going to go through a lot of changes, there is going to be moving parts. That's the other question, who in this White House -- I watched from afar as Jim Baker, Dick Darman, David Stockman, sort of ran the '81 tax cut, and the '86. Obama, I mean, Bush-Obama, they had to adjust both, people, Rahm Emanuel, people in your lot, Peter Orszag about how these things worked.

I don't know, honestly, maybe McConnell and Ryan can make this work, but they haven't shown much ability so far.

SCIUTTO: Listen, eventually, you have to get to the hard numbers because it's not going to pass until you get to the hard numbers. The comments about having the votes on health care, which is clearly not true, based on our own reporting but public comments from Republicans, second time the president mislead. Because earlier today, he deleted tweets where he had publicly said that his support in the Alabama Senate race made a difference. He deleted those tweets today.

But we want to ask you now about that loss, in effect, for Donald Trump. He put his support on the line, political capital on the line. Do you think that's a significant setback for the president?

KRISTOL: But I've been deleting tweets. Is anyone else not amazed by that in a sense? He's left off truly offensive tweets.

CILLIZZA: Absolutely.

KRISTOL: About other individuals, birther tweets about the previous president of the United States, that wasn't even deleted. I don't know that he should have deleted them because maybe he should just leave them he said them, right? One thing he can't stand is the notion that his guy lost, that he tweeted yesterday, Luther Strange is coming up in the polls and he's going to vote for him. He lost. And that's the one thing Trump --


SCIUTTO: And I should say, our reporting, he was a very angry president last night and this morning, venting at staff and Republican leadership who in his view, Jen Palmieri, they had not if not promised him to win, led him to believe that this is, that Strange could beat Moore in this race.

PALMIERI: Yes, and I thought that, there is a way for him to make this work either way, right? If Strange had won, great. If Strange didn't win, it's like, OK, Moore is more in my camp, my way. But that's not his reaction. His reaction was to lash out.

I think we saw -- you know, when you went to the helicopter, he talked Tom Price using private jets, HHS secretary and criticized him for that. That seemed to me to be a reaction to Alabama. The kind of thing that Steve Bannon says you have to do, because that's the drain the swamp kind of issue. So, I think we see reverberations elsewhere.

SCIUTTO: Chris Cillizza, final thought.

CILLIZZA: There's a -- I think there is a through line between his fatuous comments about health care and what he is -- the deletion of tweets, which is Bill makes it. He can't deal with losing. There is no question that on Graham-Cassidy, they couldn't bring it to the floor. The reason, FYI, if you are watching out there, the reason they didn't bring it to the floor is because they didn't have 50 votes. The second they have 50 votes, they will bring it to the floor.

Luther Strange lost by more than a larger percentage than he had lost in the primary. Donald Trump promised that he would win, and he was making a lot of progress. He cannot wrap his mind around losing so he tells himself and his supporters a story about these things. And just not true.

SCIUTTO: Chris, Bill, Jen, thanks very much, as always.

A week of misery, things only seem to be getting worse, much worse in Puerto Rico. Half of the island's population does not have running power. Almost of all the islands is still without power. And officials on the ground say there is simply not enough aid. When will things start getting better?