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Trump Signs Health Care Executive Order & Announces U.S. Hostage Release from Pakistan; Trump on Fake News: Broadcast Licenses Should be Challenged and Revoked. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired October 12, 2017 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] REP. RYAN COSTELLO, (R), PENNSYLVANIA: -- speak my mind when I disagree, speak out, when I agree, speak out, but explain why throughout the entire process. I think a lot of members in districts like mine have to be more vocal. I'm starting to go on more television because I think my constituents need to hear, weekly, if not daily, what I'm working on, why I think what I think about different things and that's the approach I'm going to continue to take.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Congressman, hold with me one second. I'm taking a look at our monitor. President Trump has just entering the Roosevelt Room where he will be signing an executive action, as you and I have been discussing, an executive action with regard to health care in our country. The Labor secretary is going to be introducing him.

Congressman, thank you so much.

We're going to take our viewers now to the White House.

ALEX ACOSTA, LABOR SECRETARY: -- Americans have access to affordable health care.

Mr. President, your executive order signed today is an important step in achieving that goal. I want to thank you and your administration for continuing to focus in finding affordable health care solutions.

In addition to instructions given to the Treasury and Health and Human Services Departments, the president will task the Department of Labor with considering ways to deliver quality affordable health care to the American work force.

I would like to call upon Senator Rand Paul to say a few brief words.

Thank you.

SEN. RAND PAUL, (R), KENTUCKY: Thank you, Secretary Acosta.

Today is a big day. President Trump is doing what I believe is the biggest free-market reform of health care in a generation. This reform, if it works and goes as planned, will allow millions of people to get insurance across state lines at an inexpensive price. Twenty- eight million people were left behind by Obamacare, do not have insurance today. This specifically targets and will help people who don't have insurance or people for whom insurance is too expensive.

I'm very glad to be part of this and I really want to commend the president for having the boldness and the leadership and the foresight to get this done.

And I would like to introduce the vice president of the United States.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good morning, Secretary Costa, Senator Paul, Secretary Mnuchin, Director Mulvaney, Administrator McMahon.

Senator Paul, thank you for those thoughtful remarks.

And to Congressman Greg Walden and Congresswoman Virginia Fox, other distinguished members of Congress, and job creators, it's an honor to share this moment with you today.

A moment where President Trump will take a critical step to lower the cost of health insurance for working Americans. Since day one of our administration, President Trump has made it a top priority to rescue the American people from the disastrous failure of Obamacare. Every day Obamacare survives is another day the American people struggle. All the job creators gathered here today at the White House have witnessed the failures of Obamacare firsthand. Premiums have more than doubled since Obamacare went into effect. And next year, premiums are set to increase even more. While costs have been skyrocketing, choices are plummeting. Next year, nearly half of America's county wills have only one choice of health provider, which means they essentially have no choice at all.

As the president and I have traveled the country we've heard story from small business owners like those gathered here today, from working families struggling under the weight of Obamacare. Today, President Trump will take decisive action to provide the American people with flexibility and freedom from the burdens of Obamacare and expand the number of affordable health care options for working Americans.

Mr. President, I can say I speak for everyone here and for millions of Americans, when I say, how grateful we are for your determination to repeal and replace Obamacare, and your commitment, demonstrated today by this action, to provide the American people with more choices for more affordable health care in the 21st century.

And with that, ladies and gentlemen, it's my privilege to introduce the president of the United States of America.



Thank you very much to Vice President Pence for that wonderful introduction and for the great job you do.

And I want to thank Secretary Acosta, Secretary Mnuchin, Acting Secretary Hargan and Administrator McMahon for joining us today. We are all gathered together for something I believe is going to be

very, very powerful for our nation and very good for a lot of people.

[11:34:54] But before I begin, I have an important update. Yesterday, the United States government, working with the government of Pakistan, secured the release of Caitlan Coleman, Joshua Boyle, and their three children, from captivity from the Haqqani network, a terrorist organization with ties to the Taliban. The Pakistani government's cooperation is a sign that it is honoring America's wish that it do more to provide security in the region. And I want to thank the Pakistani government. I want to thank Pakistan. They worked very hard on this. And I believe they're starting to respect the United States again. It's very important. I think, right now, a lot of countries are starting to respect the United States of America once again. We hope to see this type of cooperation and teamwork in helping secure the release of remaining hostages and in our future joint counterterrorism operations.

So with that, I want to begin by saying it's my pleasure to welcome so many great small business and association leaders to the White House as we prepare to make this truly historic announcement, and that's exactly what it is.

We've been hearing about the disaster of Obamacare for so long. In my case, many years, most of it outside, in civilian life, and/or a long period of time. Since I started running and since I became president of the United States, I just keep hearing repeal and replace, repeal, replace. Well, we're starting that process. And we're starting it in a very positive manner.

I can say when you get Rand Paul on your side it has to be positive. That I can tell you.






TRUMP: He's getting up and saying all these wonderful things about what we're going to be announcing. I said, boy, that's pretty unusual. I'm very impressed.


But seven years ago, congressional Democrats broke the American health care system by forcing the Obamacare nightmare onto the American people. And it has been a nightmare. You look at what's happening with the people numbs and the increases of 100 percent and 120 percent, and in one case, Alaska, over 200 percent. And now every congressional Democrat has blocked the effort to save Americans from Obamacare. Along with a very small, frankly, handful of Republicans, three, and we're going to take care of that also because I believe we have the votes to do block grants at a little bit later time. And we'll be able to do that.

Premiums have gone skyrocketing. But today, one-third of all the counties in America have only a single insurer selling coverage on an exchange. And next year, it looks like nearly half of all counties in our country, think of that, all of the counties, one half, will have only one insurer, and many will have none. Many will have absolutely created roadblocks for people to have any form of the insurance we're talking about.

This is why in a few moments I will sign an executive order taking the first steps to providing millions of Americans with Obamacare relief. It directs the Department of Health and Human Services, the Treasury, and the Department of Labor to take action to increase competition, increase choice, and increase access to lower priced, high-quality health care options. And they will have so many options. This will cost the United States government virtually nothing, and people will have great, great health care. And when I say people, I mean by the millions and millions.

First, we aim to allow more small businesses to form associations to buy affordable and competitive health insurance. This would open up additional options for employers to purchase the health plans their workers want. I'm also directing Secretary Acosta to consider ways to expand these associations and these health care plans all across state lines. This will create tremendous competition and transformative, in so many ways, change, aimed at creating more and lower prices for millions of Americans. But the competition will be staggering. Insurance companies will be fighting to get every single person signed up. And you will be hopefully negotiating, negotiating, negotiating. And you'll get such low prices for such great care. It should have been done a long time ago. And it could have been done a long time ago.

This will allow thousands of small business employers to have the same purchasing power as large employers to get more affordable and generous insurance options for their workers.

[11:40:37] Rich and Leslie Bordray -- where are they? Where are they?

Nice to see you. How are you? Come on, get up here. Come.

How are you? Nice to see you, Leslie.

They're here today from Louisiana, great state, just left. A little hurricane damage, little -- they got hit, like Charles, but we took good care of it, right?


TRUMP: We took care of them. They're great people.

They're small business owners, and they know personally the benefits of association health plans, one of which used to provide health insurance for their employees. But after Obamacare, they were unable to afford their association plan. So they had a great thing, their employees were happy, and then it ended, like so many -- this is something I hear.

Greg, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Greg has been incredible on the subject.

And people have plans that worked and then, all of a sudden, they were just totally cut off.

It happened to your company also.

Rich and Leslie have said that they would love, once again, to use an association health plan. And there are millions of Americans who want more affordable options just like them.

And now, with this executive order, Americans will likely soon have those options. We will be very happy to provide them to you. And you will be very happy.

Rich, I think you're going to be extremely pleased. If you're not, you can tell them right now.


Thank you so much.

Thank you, Leslie. Great to see you.


TRUMP: Thank you very much.

In addition, my administration will explore how we can expand something called short-term, limited-duration insurance. These health insurance policies are not subject to any very expansive and expensive Obamacare coverage mandates and rules. The cost of the Obamacare has been so outrageous, it is absolutely destroying everything in its wake. They were so attractive, that just last year, the previous administration crippled the market in an effort to keep people from fleeing the failing Obamacare plans. In fact, they prevented these plans from lasting more than three months. They will take action to fix that and to make these affordable, flexible plans, much more widely available. So we're going to have a very widely available plan that's going to cost much less and, from the standpoint of the United States government, we will be very happy. Won't we, Virginia?


TRUMP: So they'll get better and it will cost us nothing. That's not too bad, right?


We need some more answers like that. Finally, today's executive orders instruct Secretaries Acosta, Mnuchin

and Hargan to explore how they can allow more businesses to use tax- free health reimbursement arrangements, or HRAs, to compensate their employees for their health care expenses. Currently, only about one- third of small business employees receive coverage at work, forcing millions of workers to enroll in the exchanges or remain uninsured and to pay the individual mandate penalty. Not good, not good. That is one of the most unpopular things I've ever seen in government. I can tell you.

This order takes first steps to make it easier for businesses to help their workers afford high-quality and more-flexible health care through reimbursement accounts. With these actions, we are moving toward lower costs and more options in the health care market and taking crucial steps towards saving the American people from the nightmare of Obamacare.

Today is only the beginning. In the coming months, we plan to take new measures to provide our people with even more relief and more freedom.

And by the way, on another subject, that will include massive tax cuts. We are going to get massive tax cuts. And I believe even Senator Rand Paul, and I know Virginia, Greg, you're with us -- but the whole country is looking for these massive tax cuts and we will get them.

[11:45:11] And we are going to also pressure Congress very strongly to finish the repeal and the replace of Obamacare, once and for all. We will have great health care in our country.

Thank you all very much. Appreciate it. Thank you.


TRUMP: Thank you very much.


BOLDUAN: All right. President Trump right there, he was announcing he will be signing this executive order with regards to health care policy in America. He will be sitting down at the desk right next to that and sign the executive order. Looks like he was maybe about to leave and now they're directing him back to remind him.


Trying to listen in.

All right. President Trump, let's listen in while he makes it official.

TRUMP: Promoting health care, choice and competition all across the United States. This is going to be something that millions and millions of people will be signing up for, and they're going to be very happy. This will be great health care. So congratulations to everybody.


TRUMP: Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Thank you, everybody.

BOLDUAN: All right. There you have it, President Trump -- signing the executive order right now with regard to health care.

Let's discuss what this means for the country, for the president, for the Republican Party, who couldn't get it done on the legislative side.

Joining me, chief political correspondent, Dana Bash is here, senior political analyst, Mark Preston, national politics reporter M.J. Lee, and from "The Washington Post," Karoun Demirjian.

Great to see you all.

M.J., cut through it all. First, what just happened?

M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Well, what we saw is President Trump literally taking the power of the pen and applying that to weakening Obamacare. Of course, we all know the political context behind this. The president has tried for almost a year to try to get Republicans in Congress to pass something to repeal Obamacare. We all know how that story ended. Republicans were unable to do that on Capitol Hill. And now he is signing one of probably many executive orders to come during his presidency to try to weaken these Obamacare rules.

One big thing that this executive order would do is to allow small businesses to band together to buy into these so-called association health plans. Proponents of this, supporters of this executive order, would essentially say this is all about increasing flexibility, that they want to allow people to buy cheaper and, realistically, skimpier plans because not everyone, people who are healthy, people who are younger, need to pay for these executive plans when they don't feel like they need it. Some of the concerns that arise from this executive order is that when you essentially take out the younger people, healthier people, what that essentially ends up doing is the prices end up going for people who are sicker and older. So expect to get a lot of backlash from health care executives, experts who say this is not good for the overall Obamacare marketplace and that it could be hugely destabilizing for the marketplace.

BOLDUAN: Zeke Emanuel, who helped craft Obamacare, Dana called his terrible, said this was all show, not reality. But one of the realities we're looking at here, Rand Paul, having moment at the mic, and Donald Trump saying, when you have Rand Paul at your side, it has to be a positive thing. How things have changed a couple weeks. Look at Donald Trump's Twitter feed about Rand Paul and health care.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. Because Rand Paul, one of the main reasons he was opposed to everything in the most recent past, the attempt by Lindsey Graham and other Republicans to change the system and send it back to the states, he said that's not a real repeal of Obamacare. However, the reason you saw him front and center is because what the president just signed is a basic tenant of conservative Republican credo, what they have been trying to get done for so long. Kate, I remember, during the primary debates, that we did for the Republican presidential nomination, one of the questions, what are you going to do with regard to health care? How are you going to replace Obamacare? The one thing and the only thing he said at the time was to try to help people buy insurance across state lines. He knew that was a very important kind of buzzy policy statement for the conservative base he was appealing to, to get the Republican nomination. It's a zenith for them.

M.J. is right. It is very controversial in terms of what they say they are trying to achieve which is more affordable insurance. Whether or not that's going to work and if you allow companies to band together across state lines whether it will dismantle the market and whether or not people who buy the insurance policies will really get the insurance that will be useful to them. That has been a big problem with Obamacare. They buy these insurance plans because they are forced to do it and deductibles are so high, it's not worth having. It's not clear whether this will fall victim to the same thing that Obamacare does. But we'll see.

[11:41:01] BOLDUAN: It's, though, an open question, Mark Preston, with the president now with this executive action, this is the biggest change or only major change to health care the president has done since taking office. Does he own it? Can he no longer say the problems of Obamacare is not on him.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: He will own it. But he will never accept owning it. It will be different than what President Trump thinks.

What I find interesting is not necessarily the policy of how this is going to play out, but we hope it plays out well. What's interesting, is he doing it as a political twin just to try to a try it appeal to his base and he wants to fulfill a promise? That is the driving reason behind it, that's bad policy. Another thing is he seemed to tie it to the upcoming discussions over tax relief and tax cuts and a reform of the tax code. I don't know how that's going to be tied together. It will be interesting to see if somehow his actions on health care will be tied to some kind of tax plan the Republicans are trying to get done by the end of the year.

BOLDUAN: Chris, I want to change gears. The president is talking about health care and signing this action and the executive order. And the president has had a lot to say in the last 24 hours. A lot of what the president is railing against the media, media coverage of what he does. With that, he rails against the media, and that's not new. What is new, right now, and it's worth discussing, is he is saying that broadcast licenses should be challenged and revoked. He said it out loud and on Twitter. What it comes down to is the president calls unflattering stories fake or untrue. But yesterday, the president himself had a lot to say and there were a lot of elements that were not true as well.

Listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It's, frankly, disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write. And people should look into it.

So they barred more than $10 trillion, right? And, yet, we picked up 5.2 trillion in the stock market, and possibly picked up the whole thing in terms of the first nine months, in terms of value. So can you say, in one sense, we are increasing values and maybe in a sense we are reducing debt?

Right now, it's showing we are the highest taxed nation in the world.


BOLDUAN: Right. So before we talk politics, let's talk the truth. Those things are not true. Stock market gains do not equal wiping out the national debt.

Christine Romans, our chief business correspondent, she knows that. Listen to this.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPODNENT: That's not how the national debt works and that's not how the stock market works. Look, a stock market rally does not reduce the national debt. The national debt is $20 trillion. The president is right, it national debt did soar over the last eight years of the Obama administration. That is correct, too. But the stock market rally -- and I can show you the rally since he was elected president. That stock market rally doesn't reduce the national debt. The national debt is the money Congress already spent. That money is spent. To cut the national debt, you have to cut spending or raise taxes. Does President Trump want to raise taxes? No, he wants to cut taxes.


BOLDUAN: Karoun, he's got a good news story on the stock market. Why is he doing this?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He is trying to have a better and all-consuming good news story. Throwing out numbers that people don't understand that sound impressive. It doesn't equate to the bottom line. The stock market doesn't equate to taxes paid into the federal government. The stock market is not a direct connection unless you have a policy that takes advantage of what's going on in the stock market to funnel the money back into the government, and then you can start to address the deficit. And that's -- I mean, a lot of the -- you can have the general rising tide theory, but this leaves out all the math in the middle.

But, again, it's one of the more egregious examples of what we've seen Trump do, which is spins a lot of what he does. In this case, he always talked about look at the job numbers and the stock market. That means I'm doing a really good job. Now he's connecting this to that too and taking it a step further than just spin.

And in the attacks on the press also and the threat, the indication that maybe the licenses need to be revoked, that is just kind of also stepping up the game a little bit. We almost got inoculated to the fake news comment. It's a joke these days, that you can say, oh, ha, ha, take news. Even though it starts with a very serious thing. And we're heading into a season where there will be a lot of critical coverage of what the president is doing. It's because there is fallout. There's another side to the stories, especially with the health care announcement today, that's not going to be as positive as he is spinning it to be.

[11:56:03] BOLDUAN: No. Fake or not. We will call it out when we need to.

Great to see you all. Thank you so much.

A lot going on right now.

Coming up for us, you just heard President Trump as he was making that announcement, also talk about an American woman, her husband, and her three small children held hostage by the Taliban, now free today after five years in captivity. Was this a rescue or a trade? What does this all mean. We have more.