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Gold Star Families Pain from Tax Plan; July Jobs Report; Uncertainty over Replacement Governor in Puerto Rico; NYPD Officer Could Learn his Fate. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired August 2, 2019 - 08:30   ET



[08:30:09] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump's sweeping tax overhaul was supposed to lower peoples taxes, but that's not how it's worked for scores of gold star families. Families who have made the ultimate sacrifice for this country are now being devastated by their new tax bills. Why is Congress not acting?

Joining us now is Jessica Braden-Rogers. She was married to Army Captain Michael Braden, who died in 2012 while deployed to Afghanistan.

Jessica, thanks so much for being with us this morning. I really appreciate talking to you.

JESSICA BRADEN-ROGERS, GOLD STAR WIDOW: Good morning, Alisyn. Thank you for having me on.

CAMEROTA: I just want to bring people up to speed about your story so they know the backstory.


CAMEROTA: So your husband, Captain Michael Braden, was killed in 2012 in Afghanistan on his 15th tour of duty. And at that time that he was killed, you had, just three months earlier, adopted your son, James.

BRADEN-ROGERS: Yes, we did.

CAMEROTA: And when your husband was killed, James was entitled to survivors benefits and Social Security on which he had --


CAMEROTA: He had paid $1,100 in taxes annually. Then, in 2018, after President Trump's tax overhaul, that quadrupled. And can you just give us your reaction when you found out what his new tax bill was?

BRADEN-ROGERS: Well, first of all, we had no idea that the new tax laws were going to impact gold star kids. Myself and my fellow gold star families, we had no clue of any of this until February, March of this year when we started filing our 2018 taxes. And then we found out just how this had impacted us. And we were all shocked. We had no clue.

CAMEROTA: And what does it mean for your son and for these other families? I mean tell us, when you get a tax bill like that, the kinds of sacrifices you then have to do in your own budgeting.

BRADEN-ROGERS: Oh, it's a lot. I mean, in my case, my son, James, he needs braces now. And, of course, as you know, that's a huge expense. I know other gold star families who were supposed to take their kids on college tours this summer and they had saved up money for several years for that, they are no longer able to do that. There are gold star families who are having trouble paying rent. They're going to soup kitchens, having trouble paying for car repairs, special needs camps. Just basic necessities they're having difficulties with because of this.

CAMEROTA: Gold star families should not be struggling to pay for food for their kids and clothing for their kids. And so of course you figured Congress can fix this. This is -- must be some sort of mistake, some sort of loophole that they didn't see.


CAMEROTA: And so you -- you went to Congress. And, in fact, the House passed a fix for this two months ago.


CAMEROTA: And then when it got to the Senate, what happened? Who blocked this?

BRADEN-ROGERS: The three senators would be Senator Ted Cruz, my own state senator, Pat Toomey, and Senator Mike Lee. And leader Mitch McConnell is also allowing this legislation to be stalled.

CAMEROTA: And have you tried to reach out to Mitch McConnell's office?

BRADEN-ROGERS: I have spent several months trying to reach out to Senator McConnell's office.

CAMEROTA: And what's happened?

BRADEN-ROGERS: Well, I finally got ahold of his office about a month ago, and they told me that they would not speak with me because I am not a Kentucky constituent.

BRADEN-ROGERS: I know you also tried to call the White House to alert them to this. And what happened when you called the White House?

BRADEN-ROGERS: Several months ago, I think like the beginning of April I would say, I tried calling, and I was hung up on.

CAMEROTA: What does that mean? How could you have been hung up on?

BRADEN-ROGERS: As soon as I -- the operator at the White House comment line answered the phone and I started to explain the reason I called, you know, to bring awareness to this issue. They literally hung up. They didn't say thank you for calling, you know, we'll take your concerns to the president, who apparently is a very strong supporter of the troops. They hung up on me.

CAMEROTA: Jessica, obviously you're not alone. I think there are 65,000 gold star family that receive these kinds of kids Social Security and survivors benefits. You're not just fighting for yourself. You're obviously fighting for all of them, as all of you fought for us. And so what's next for you? What's your plan?

[08:35:12] BRADEN-ROGERS: I honestly don't know at this point. I mean I have gone to Capitol Hill last month, along with another gold star wife and a representative from the Tragedy Assistance Program for survivors and we met with Senator Toomey and Senator Cruz's office. And at that point we hoped that something would happen. But nothing has happened. And now they are on August recess. And we're rapidly running out of time for this to be resolved before the end of the year and before my fellow gold star families and my own family are faced with this same situation in 2020 when we file our taxes again.

CAMEROTA: Well, Jessica Braden-Rogers, we're so glad that you brought it to our attention, and we're hoping that because of the national attention that we see some movement in the Senate and the White House. Thank you very much. We'll be following it. Thank you so much for all of your family's sacrifice for all of us.

BRADEN-ROGERS: Thank you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: We'll talk again.

BERMAN: So important to get that out there.

All right, the July jobs report is in. Christine Romans breaks down the numbers, next.


[08:40:18] BERMAN: The breaking news, the July jobs report is just out.

CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans joins me.

Romans, you just whispered to me, this is really interesting.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It is interesting. And, you know, when I think it's interesting, it really must be, right? The jobs added, 164,000. That's exactly -- exactly what our consensus of economists had forecast. And that's right in line with kind of the average for the first six months of this year.

But I want you to look at May and June, you guys. May was revised down to 62,000, and June, while better, was also downwardly revise. So a little weaker job creation we had expected and kind of holding in here but not as robust as last year.

I mean look at this year. On average last year it was 223,000 net new jobs a month. So we're running below average in terms of job creation. What about the unemployment rate? Right where it has been, 3.7 percent. We do know that about 370,000 workers entered the workforce and that's good news. The longer you have a strong hiring situation, the more people who have been out of the labor market get confident and come back in and dip their toe. And so you like to see that. And that's probably why you saw that sitting right there.

I want to talk about sectors, because a couple of interesting factors here. Business -- in particular here, this is like software engineering, computer systems design and related services. That industry is about a third of the employment gains in that group. Something that I don't know how to do, so I could not do that job. Health care, 30,000 there. And manufacturing.

Can I read to you what they say about the manufacturing report, the Department of Labor? They say, employment little changed and so far this year, in 2019, manufacturing, little change. Job gains in the industry last year were 22,000 a month. So manufacturing also running below -- kind of below speed here in terms of job growth. That could be tariffs and trade war and that's something that we're watching these numbers very, very carefully.

You know, we're coming into the opening bell here. I'm not sure exactly how the market's going to take this. Just yesterday the president put new tariffs on China. That's a day after the Fed cut interest rates to protect the U.S. economy from the president's tariffs against China.

So we're kind of in uncharted territory here. Treacherous waters, I would say, trying to figure out what's going to happen with the economy going on into the fall.

CAMEROTA: You weren't kidding, this is interesting.

BERMAN: Yes, it kind of raises more questions than it answers this morning, Romans.

ROMANS: I would say so, yes.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much, Christine.

All right, uncertainty in Puerto Rico this morning. Hours from now, the island's governor will step down. But it is still unclear who will step up.

CNN's Leyla Santiago is live in San Juan with more.

Leyla, you've been covering this, obviously, for weeks, months. What's going to happen today?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, you started with the correct word which is uncertainty. It is on the headlines this morning, uncertainty transitioning.

We are in the hall of governors here in the legislator, and yet we don't know who the next governor of Puerto Rico will be when Governor Rossello officially steps down as he said he would do at 5:00 today. Now, the timing of this is critical because we're about 20 minutes

away from the house of representatives here meeting with who the governor has appointed and sworn in as secretary of state. His name is Pierluisi. But yesterday, as the senate met to see if they would confirm him, they actually delayed their vote. And he has to be confirmed in order to step in as the next in line for the governor's resignation.

So then what will happen? Well, if the secretary of state isn't set, then it goes to the secretary of justice, who initially said she was not interested. But then this tweet came out in which she said, come the moment -- should the moment come, I will be prepared to step for what the constitution calls for.

So that is at 5:00 today when the governor said he would officially step down after weeks, 12 days to be exact, of protests from Puerto Ricans who say they don't want the governor after some leaked chats and after corruption that they say needs to go from the island.

So we are about eight hours away from a critical moment in which the question will be, who will govern -- who will govern, rather, the island of Puerto Rico. And as we had asked La Fortaleza, the office in which the governor resides, they haven't gotten back to us. So that's the big question that we'll be paying attention to.


BERMAN: It is almost unbelievable to think that you do not know who will be governing that island in just a few hours.


BERMAN: Leyla Santiago, thank you very much for your reporting there.

This year protests in Haiti against the rising costs of fuel, poor economic conditions and alleged government corruption have ravaged what is already the poorest country in the western hemisphere. In neighborhoods around the capital of Port-au-Prince, many children are struggling to survive and are often unable to attend school.

But this week's CNN Hero has made it his life's mission to give the children of Haiti a safe haven in which to learn and grow. Meet Daniel Tillias.

[08:45:08] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Inside of the garden it's joy, happiness and peace. We collect tires that burn in the streets (INAUDIBLE) and we use them as planters. People eat from what they actually grow. We open our community library to all the schools. We help kids manage their anger. We can't let the children of Haiti lose the only thing that they have left, which is their hope.


BERMAN: What a mission. To see Daniel's full story, go to

CAMEROTA: Well, the CNN debates again brought the story of Eric Garner to the fore. So today the police officer accused of fatally choking Eric Garner could learn whether he will keep his job or be fired. We will speak with Eric Garner's widow about what she heard at the debates and what she wants to happen now.


[08:50:26] CAMEROTA: The New York City police officer who fatally choked Eric Garner could learn today whether he will keep his job. Wednesday night's Democratic debate was interrupted by protesters calling on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to terminate Daniel Pantaleo.



DON LEMON, MODERATOR: Stand by, senator.


LEMON: Please, stand by.


CAMEROTA: Well, Mayor de Blasio addressed why he has not yet taken action.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know the Garner family. They've gone through extraordinary pain. They are waiting for justice and they're going to get justice. There's finally going to be justice. I have confidence in that in the next 30 days in New York. Yu know why? Because for the first time we are not waiting on the federal justice department, which told the city of New York that we could not proceed because the Justice Department was pursuing their prosecution. And years went by and a lot of pain accrued.


CAMEROTA: Eric Garner's widow, Esaw Garner Snipes, joins me now.

Mrs. Garner Snipes, what did you think when you heard Mayor de Blasio's explanation there at the debate?

ESAW GARNER SNIPES, WIDOW OF NYPD CHOCKING VICTIM ERIC GARNER: That he's full of malarkey. I've met him on several occasions. Just so happened that that particular day after the Department of Justice gave us their decision, they did a conference call and my daughter was actually in the room with Mayor de Blasio and he didn't even remember my name. You know, it was very disheartening and very callus, and they're just passing the buck. One is blaming the other, whose responsibility is it, you know, who has the power to do this or do that. But my thing is whatever --

CAMEROTA: But, Ms. Garner Snipes, what -- what part -- yes, sorry to interrupt you, but what part did you think was malarkey? You think that Mayor de Blasio could have and should have acted?

SNIPES: Yes, most definitely. I think that he should have acted when Dan Donovan from Staten Island, I think way back then, should have been -- he should have been fired right on the spot. I think he should have been fired until the investigation was done. I think he should have been fired, you know, even while the investigation was going on. You know, he was still getting paid. He was getting -- how you call pay -- you know, paid and advances and everything that a regular cop would get but being on the beat. You know, the only thing they did was so-called keep him off the street.

Mayor de Blasio, I -- like I've said, I've met with him several times and he just kept saying, oh, you know, it's this person's responsibility, it's that person's responsibility. They just keep passing the buck and it's really annoying.

CAMEROTA: And were you surprised when you heard protesters disrupt the debate about your son's case?

SNIPES: It's not my son -- it's my husband.

CAMEROTA: Sorry, sorry, about your husband's case. Did -- were you surprised that that came up at the debate?

SNIPES: No, because it needs to be brought up, you know? The people that were there that did it, I'm so thankful that they did it, you know? I'm -- we need to call attention to all these police officers, and they need to be held accountable. The city needs to be held accountable for the police that they hire. And I'm quite -- I was ecstatic when I saw it. And I'm not a political person, you know? I didn't get into politics until the murder of my husband. You know, that's when I started to pay attention to the politics and voting and stuff like that.

You know, no, I'm very grateful that they did it. I wasn't surprised at all because we said there would be civil unrest until they fire Pantaleo. They need to fire him.

CAMEROTA: And let's talk -- let's talk --

SNIPES: Eleven days, for 11 times that he screamed he can't breathe, and I'm not able physically to get out there and protest like I want to. But my children have stepped up. And they're fighting for justice. And like Emerald says, she's not going to stop, you know. My daughter Erica, rest her soul, you know, she passed away waiting for justice, you know, and she was out there on the front lines, in the cold, laying down, doing die-ins and everything to get justice for her dad.

[08:55:27] CAMEROTA: And what happens today --

SNIPES: You know, so, no, I wasn't surprised at all.

CAMEROTA: Yes, thank you.

What happens today if it doesn't go your way? What happens if Officer Pantaleo doesn't lose his job. I mean I know you just said that you're calling for civil unrest. What does that look like?

SNIPES: It's going to be -- it's like my daughter said, it's not going to be pretty. We're not going to stop, you know. I don't know what the next step would be legally. I don't know what the next step would be civilly. I just know that there's going to be a next step, you know. We're going to figure out something, you know. I don't know what it's exactly going to be. I couldn't map it out for you. But just stay tuned and the Garner family is not going away until we get what we want, and that's justice, in one form or another.

CAMEROTA: Esaw Garner Snipes, yes, I'm sorry the we're -- the show is ending, we're out of time, but we hear you. We hear your frustration. We understand obviously your desire for justice for your husband. So thank you for sharing with us your feelings. We'll see what happens today. We'll be watching it closely.

SNIPES: Thank you so much for having me. You have a blessed day.

CAMEROTA: You too.

BERMAN: The struggle and the pain for that family continues.

All right, we just got new July jobs numbers in. CNN's coverage of that continues right after the break.