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Trump Falsely Claims GDP Higher Than Unemployment Rate 1st time in Century; Trump & Ford Feud over U.S. Tariffs; John Bolton to Announce Closing Palestinian Liberation Organization U.S. Office; Trump Thanks North Korea's Kim for Keeping Missiles Out of Military Parade; Lawsuit of 20 States Argues Affordable Care Act Unconstitutional. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired September 10, 2018 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Today, in the "Washington Post" -- I think we can put that up -- talking about the strong growth for blue-collar jobs we have seen. I mean, under Trump, the jobs have reached blue collar workers.

Stephen, that in and of itself is something great for the president to tout. Why is it that he seems to pick economic fights when it's a winning issue for him? You speak to people still regularly in the administration.

STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST: So, yes, this increase in the blue-collar jobs and blue-collar wages is a big triumph for Trump and something a lot of people said couldn't happen. I mean, Barack Obama, I remember when I was campaigning with Trump, and Obama when Trump said he was going to bring the jobs back, Obama said what are you going to do, wave a magic wand. I don't know if he has a magic wand, but those jobs are back.

And I do think policy matters. I think Rana is right that the tax cut had a very positive impact out of the gate, the deregulation, the pro America energy policy. I think most Americans know that this president has a penchant for exaggeration, so he might have been exaggerating when he said this was the first time that the growth rate was higher than the unemployment rate. By the way, I don't know if you saw the numbers that just came out last week, but for the third quarter, which is almost over, the latest estimate is 4.4 percent to 4.5 percent growth. So that's a phenomenal rate of growth. And I think Trump has a right to maybe thump his chest a little bit with these great numbers.

RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: You know, but the thing is, yes, the tax cut has put the economy in a good place for the time being. But the question is, what's it going to do going forward a year, two years? I felt very much that this was not the right time for a massive tax cut at the end of an economic recovery. Of course, every politician wants the good news to last through their term, and I think the president did the tax cut in part to push out through the midterms, hopefully, with a strong economy that would help Republicans. I don't think in the long term it's going to be a good thing that we have put so much kerosene on the economy at the end of a recovery cycle. I think we need to be making investments here at home, infrastructure, education, all the things we talk about all the time. Not sexy, but this is the hard work that needs to be done now.

HILL: You know --


MOORE: You know, I have been traveling all over this country this summer, and everywhere from Portland, Oregon, to Portland, Maine, and whether it's Denver or Nashville, and I have to tell you, everywhere I go, every city, with very few exceptions, all you see is building cranes. You see new factories being built, new warehouses, apartment buildings, condominiums. This is the biggest construction boom we have had -- I'm not going to see in history, because I don't want to exaggerate --


MOORE: -- but this is one of the biggest construction boons we have every had. My only point is, you talk about infrastructure, my goodness, everywhere I go, all I see is infrastructure is being built.


FOROOHAR: Thank you. Thank you, Erica.


HILL: My ride into work this morning was a little scary.

FOROOHAR: Right. I'm going to be on the BQE in about an hour and it's a different story. I'll tell you that. But --


MOORE: Well, we have to fix the roads. You're right about that.

FOROOHAR: It's very bifurcated. I think what you're seeing, most of the real estate boom in this country is in the top-12 markets. I agree, Stephen, there are cranes in some rich areas in certain cities --


FOROOHAR: -- but there's still a lot of communities around this country where --


FOROOHAR: -- we need to do public infrastructure programs, and that's something we don't hear the president talk about.

HILL: You know I would like to --


MOORE: It's not just the top-12 cities, though. You go even to places like Buffalo, New York, or Cleveland, even Detroit. My goodness, I was in downtown Detroit, you're seeing buildings going up. That was --

FOROOHAR: Sure, right in the middle --



MOORE: -- in the middle of the downtown areas.

FOROOHAR: Right in the middle where there's a lot of wealthy Millennials, and not -- I would like to see them build bridges between the middle and the outer rings --


FOROOHAR: -- of Detroit where there's still a lot of needy people.

HILL: That's what you hear consistently.


HILL: No, no, no. We have to move on. We'll make a little Segway here. We'll think Detroit, think cars. Hey, let's talk about Ford.

MOORE: Perfect.

HILL: Let's do that.

Because this is a good one to pick up on. The president tweeting yesterday about Ford's manufacturing decisions and taking credit that it is, in fact, related to his tariffs on China. This is not the case at all. The president, once again, had his facts wrong. And Ford very quickly came out with a statement to make it clear that this was not how their decision was made, that this is not what it had to do with. This was essentially a business decision that was not tied to those tariffs.

And Ford's not the first company to push back. We're seeing Apple push back against tariffs now as well. We're seeing companies that the president has gone after, be it Nike, Harley-Davidson, you know, they're doing all right.

And so it's fascinating to watch this back and forth when, again, the president could just use the facts that are out there and the numbers from his own government to say, look how well I'm doing instead of going after individual companies.

FOROOHAR: I think it's actually a big strategic mistake. And, in some ways, it's more of a political mistake than an economic one. As you say, I think these companies will make the right business decisions for them regardless of what the president is saying. But what I wonder is what does it do for his support within the business community. What I'm hearing, people that had been pretty pleased with tax cuts -- you know, like them or not, that's something the business community did like -- they're less excited about being called out by name around things that really should be apolitical. They're not excited about tariffs. We haven't talked about that yet. What is this going to mean for business support for the administration?

HILL: Stephen, I'll give you the last word.

[11:35:15] MOORE: Well, if you look at the small business optimism index, look at the CEO index that came out recently. These companies are euphoric about the direction of the economy. Now, maybe it isn't, you know, the reason you're seeing some of these factories being built. Maybe it's not because of the trade protections policies. By the way, I'm opposed to those generally. But I will say this. You have a pro-business president, you have an environment out there that's so conducive to growth. And I have to say, for Barack Obama to say, well, gee, I started this, I mean, my goodness, one of the things Trump has done is reversed so many of Obama's policies, and we have gone from 1.5 percent growth in Obama's last year to now 4.5 percent growth. That's like a racecar versus a Pinto.


HILL: We're going to have to leave it there. I do like to bring it back to cars.

Stephen Moore and Rana Foroohar, good to see you both. Thank you.

FOROOHAR: Thank you.

MOORE: Thanks.

HILL: We want to get to breaking news out of Washington related to the office of the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

CNN's senior diplomatic correspondent, Michelle Kosinski, is live at the State Department with the latest.

Michelle, what's happening?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Erica. We're about to hear from national security adviser, John Bolton, who is giving a speech in Washington. He's going to announce the closure of this office. This is the Palestinian Liberation Organization. It's been here in Washington for years. Designed to be here to help the peace process and work diplomatically with the United States, with the Israelis. The State Department now says it's just not working. That the Palestinians are not engaging in the process. They are not doing enough to move that process forward, according to how the U.S. would like it to go. They are now going to close that office. The organization, of course, reacting with some shock and anger. You know, saying that this is not the way to go. Obviously, much different viewpoint than the U.S. and Israel on this -- Erica?

HILL: Michelle Kosinski, with the latest for us. Michelle, thank you.

Just ahead, the president thanks the North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-Un for leaving his missiles out of their 70th anniversary military parade. But is the president getting played? Stay with us.


[11:41:58] HILL: President Trump appreciates North Korea's decision to leave its long-range missiles out of the country's 70th anniversary parade. The president tweeting, "Thank you to Chairman Kim. We will both prove everyone wrong. There's nothing like good dialogue from two people who like each other."

He states experts say Pyongyang left the missiles out as a sign of its commitment to denuclearize. Important to point out here that there's been no proof that is happening.

Joining me for a closer look is Gordon Chang, columnist for the "Daily Beast" and also author of "North Korea Takes on the World."

Gordon, I'm guessing you're not really buying the president's declaration here.

GORDON CHANG, COLUMNIST, DAILY BEAST: No. First of all, the North Koreans are continuing to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. They're continuing to work on their ballistic missiles. And this is happening in the background of they're trying to stall us. Up until the end of May or so, we had a maximum pressure campaign to cut off money to Kim Jong-Un. That's the reason he became much more cooperative. Since then, we allowed Chinese sanctions busting, we allowed the Russians to do it, the South Koreans are getting in on the act. Kim is getting everything he wants so, of course, he's going to be nice because he's going to make sure we don't use American power to take away his weapons.

HILL: So he's trying to keep President Trump happy.

It was interesting, too, a Chinese official who was reportedly at the parade telling Chinese state TV, "The Chinese highly value North Kora's efforts to denuclearize." Which, again, is interesting in a statement because, as you point out, we don't know that's happening at all. In fact, perhaps the opposite.

CHANG: Certainly, the opposite. And the Chinese have been supplying some crucial equipment for North Korea's ballistic missile program recently. They're supporting the economy, busting the sanctions. We're seeing this with the coal purchases from North Korea, ship to ship transfers. Chinese money is being -- North Korean money is laundered through Chinese banks. This is not a good story. We're just watching this and we're not imposing any costs on Beijing. And of course, the North Koreans aren't going to be cooperative because we're not doing anything.

HILL: You pointed out to me in the break that this isn't just about placating President Trump and making him feel good about where we are. A lot of what happened or was not shown at this parade is also a message that it's aimed at South Korea.

CHANG: Certainly. South Korean President Moon Jae-in is going to Pyongyang September 18th for two days of talks. Moon is very pro North Koreans. He wants to unify the peninsula, which means he's undermining his own democracy to make South Korea more compatible with North Korea. Also, Moon wants to shovel a lot of money into the hands of Kim Jong-Un. He wants to open up this liaison office in the Kaesong Industrial Complex, which is in North Korea, which shovels a lot of money into North Korea when it's open. So Kim has a real important ally. Not just Xi Jinping, not just Vladimir Putin. He has a real important ally in South Korea.

HILL: Is the president getting played here, President Trump?

CHANG: He probably is getting played. The alternative argument is what he said in Ottawa at the G-7 just before the summit with Kim Jong-Un. He said, I'm giving the North Koreans a one-shot opportunity to do the right thing. He's given the North Koreans maybe a two-shot opportunity, a three-shot opportunity. And I wouldn't have given them any opportunity at all. But nonetheless, this is the president's plan. It's not a bad one. He's really trying to cooperate and try to create this good atmosphere where the North Koreans can feel comfortable giving up their weapons. But I think that's the wrong strategy.

[11:45:13] HILL: How long do those chances last? I mean, when do you finally put up your hands and say, wait a minute, this could get a little dangerous?

CHANG: It's getting very dangerous because the situation is getting beyond control. A lot of people speculate the president will pivot to a more resolute policy after the midterms. I don't know. But nonetheless, we have to do it at some point. Because the North Koreans are just proving that the fundamental assumptions we make about the North Koreans have been wrong.

HILL: Gordon Chang, always appreciate it. Thank you.

CHANG: Thanks, Erica.

HILL: And 20 Republican-led states are taking the Affordable Care Act back to court. Is it unconstitutional as they allege? Up next, we'll speak with Louisiana's attorney general, Jeff Landry, who is part of that challenge.


[11:50:17] HILL: The fate of Obamacare is in the hands of a Texas judge who heard a case brought by a group of 20-Republican led states, who argue when Congress eliminated the penalty for not having health insurance, a part of last year's tax bill, lawmakers rendered the entire Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. So they've asked the judge to block the health care law. Core principals of Obamacare, including protections for people with preexisting medical conditions and limits on how much older Americans can be charged are at issue here.

Joining me now is one of the 20 attorneys general on that lawsuit, Jeff Landry, who is the attorney general of Louisiana.

Sir, we appreciate you taking the time to be with us today.


HILL: Texas A.G. Ken Paxton last week argued it should be the states, not the federal government who should be responsible for forcing insurance companies to cover preexisting conditions. Do you agree?

LANDRY: Look, let's take ourselves back to why we are having the discussion in the first place. We go back to 2005, 2006. We had a health insurance crisis, not a health care system crisis. Instead of fixing the insurance market, which Republicans will always for, the Democrats decided to try to retool our entire health care delivery system. That's the problem that we face today. We've seen this experiment has done now but raise premiums and cost billions upon billions more in dollars. The law was always flawed.

HILL: A number of Americans would agree with you. Obamacare is divisive. Democrats have been saying for years, yes, it needs to be fixed. But the question I pose is the Texas A.G. is saying part of the issue is when it comes to preexisting conditions, which are important to Americans -- they have strong broad support -- that the decision of whether or not insurance companies should have to cover them should be left up to the states. Do you agree?

LANDRY: Yes. I believe the Republican Party has always taken a position that we would like to prohibit insurance companies from penalizing citizens for preexisting conditions or using some sort of age as a determining factor. We believe that by engaging the marketplace by ripping down the barriers and adding more competition into the marketplace, you lower the particular premiums. Remember, Bush introduced health savings accounts, and Obamacare eliminated that. He eliminated catastrophic plans. All things that would help make the market more competitive. Thereby, giving us an opportunity to eliminating the preexisting condition issue. And taking it off the table. But the point is --


HILL: You saying the market will just figure it out? I want to make sure I follow you, sir. If this was left up to the states, competition would allow it to figure itself out and that people with preexisting conditions would not have to worry? But is there not something you would have to guarantee people with preexisting conditions? This is something that 75 percent of Americans support.

LANDRY: Absolutely. I think the party has always supported it. In fact I think all of the Republican candidates --


HILL: Right. But what specifically in your state, sir, was the plan B? What is the plan B in the state of Louisiana?


LANDRY: That are would be something for the legislature. I think that would be a debate of which we have at the capital in the legislature -- (CROSSTALK)

HILL: Is there a plan?


HILL: I mean, you have the conversations, you're right there, and you say you agree with the Texas A.G. and this is what he was arguing last week. You are part of this lawsuit. You are right. There are plenty of people who say, yes, we don't want the federal government to control this. But is there a plan in your state? Have you spoken with lawmakers if, in fact, you are victorious here? What is that plan? I mean, there are nearly 850,000 non-elderly adults in the state of Louisiana with preexisting conditions. What is your message to them in terms of their guarantee of coverage?

LANDRY: Well, the message to them is that, look, once this law would fail, once it's found to be unconstitutional, that bringing down the barriers by bringing competition into the states by ripping down the barriers from state by state and allowing health care insurers to compete and bringing more competition into the market, you will lower the premiums and, as you're doing that, you're regulating the marketplace. Again, that's what we have always said from the beginning. Not this type of universal health care plan which has done nothing but been a drain on both the states and the federal --


HILL: We only have 30 seconds, sir. But just to be clear, there's not an exact plan to ensure that those with preexisting conditions will continue to be guaranteed coverage in the state of Louisiana. Is that correct?

LANDRY: Oh, absolutely. No, I would disagree with that. I believe that there are many legislatures --


HILL: -- all you are saying is competition will figure it out?

[11:55:02] LANDRY: I'm not the legislature. I'm the attorney general making sure that we abide by the rule of law.

HILL: OK. Sir, we appreciate you taking the time to join us today.

Jeff Landry, joining us from Louisiana. Thank you.

LANDRY: Thank you.

HILL: A congressman is announcing his resignation. Who and why? That's ahead in our next hour.


12:00:10] JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thank you for sharing your day with us. What chaos.