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Buttigieg Health Care Plan Could Result in Big Year-End Bill for "Retroactive" Coverage; Netanyahu Uses Trump's Playbook in Leadership Challenge; 2019 Becomes Year of CEO Exodus. Aired 11:30a- 12p ET

Aired December 26, 2019 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: When it comes to the presidential election, health care has been one of the driving and top issues for voters all along in the Democratic primary. One of the biggest points of debate, really, among the Democratic candidates so far. And it's almost exclusively been around with the concept of Medicare For All, what it is, and how to pay for it.

Now, there's potentially a new fault line emerging. This time, over what is the least popular aspect of Obamacare, the individual mandate.

The health care plan now put out by South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg includes both a public and private insurance option. He has been calling it Medicare For All Who Want It.

But if Americans don't select any coverage, the "Washington Post" is reporting that Americans could be automatically enrolled in a government plan. And also reporting that provision could result in people being hit with a major bill at the end of the year, something like $7,000.

Joining me right now, CNN political correspondent, Abby Phillip.

You've been following -- thank you for being here, Abby.


BOLDUAN: You've been following the mayor's campaign. What exactly is the Pete Buttigieg's health care plan? This reporting from the "Washington Post" is an interesting window into what could be emerging as a new fault line, maybe not when it comes to more liberal health care proposals but the health care proposals among the moderates?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is about the details. Pete Buttigieg has been talking about his plan and offering choice. Allowing people to keep their private plans but also creating a government health insurance plan that people would automatically be enrolled in.

Now, that's not Medicare For All. But it is sort of a version of universal coverage type of structure.

The whole thing, though, with him has been he is not going to -- he has said he does not want to dramatically increase people's taxes in order to pay for it. That's why you have this retroactive cost associated with that coverage, which is similar to the individual mandate.

But you'll hear the Buttigieg campaign say it's different from the individual mandate because, unlike a penalty, you're actually paying for coverage.


BOLDUAN: You're getting that coverage?

PHILLIP: You're getting that coverage. You're not being slapped with a fine for not having coverage at all.

BOLDUAN: That's really interesting. And really, it will be interesting how the other moderate candidates, how they react


BOLDUAN: -- how details of their campaign include, from Joe Biden to Amy Klobuchar. It's going to be interesting what this looks like in the coming days or weeks as this debate --


PHILLIP: I think many of them have been kind of evasive about this. Joe Biden said he likes the individual mandate


PHILLIP: -- but it's not in his plan when you look at the details. Amy Klobuchar has not addressed this issue at all. But it's going to be a big question as we go forward.

BOLDUAN: Details are tough to put out in a sound byte, but details are everything when it comes to health care.


BOLDUAN: Good to see you, Abby. Thank you so much.

PHILLIP: Thank you.


BOLDUAN: Coming up, he faces charges of bribery and fraud, and now Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is fighting once again to hold on to political power and borrowing in the Trump playbook to do it. We're going live to Jerusalem next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BOLDUAN: Israel's longest-serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is right now trying to survive a leadership challenge within his own party in the runup to a third national election in just 12 months. He's borrowing from a familiar playbook.

Oren Liebermann has more.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is becoming a familiar image among friends, a black and white picture of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointing at the camera. The caption says, they're not only after me, they're after us.


It's copied from President Donald Trump, who used a similar image with a similar message days earlier.

The well-documented political bromance has been a focus of Netanyahu's messaging featuring heavily in election campaigns.

On Christmas Eve --

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Merry Christmas to all our Christian friends.

LIEBERMANN: -- Netanyahu promising another political gift from the Trump administration.

NETANYAHU (through translation): We are going to bring American recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley. And pay attention in all of the settlements, those in the blocks and those that are not.

LIEBERMANN: Netanyahu and Trump share much more than style. As Trump faces impeachment, Netanyahu faces criminal indictment, charges of bribery and fraud and breach of trust in three corruption investigations.

Netanyahu has insisted he's innocent, calling the charges an attempted coup and a media driven witch hunt.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I called it the rigged witch hunt.

LIEBERMANN: Language we've heard from Trump as well.

In messages like this, Netanyahu has painted himself as the victim, while leaning once again on his relationship with Trump to boost his standing.

But Trump borrowed this one.

TRUMP: I want to especially thank a great man and a great leader, the leader of India, Prime Minister Modi, my friend. (CHEERING)

LIEBERMANN: It was with another populist leader, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, that we first saw the message.

NARENDRA MODI, INDIA PRIME MINISTER: Our great American president, Mr. Donald Trump.


LIEBERMANN: Modi's supporters created and spread a meme, a picture of the Hindu leader with the words, "In reality, they're not after me, they're after you. I'm just in the way."

With his India First style of politics, Modi has celebrated Trump's America First brand.

MODI: A belief in American future, and a strong resolve to Make America Great Again.


LIEBERMANN: Modi has also shown his love for Netanyahu. In 2017, becoming the first sitting Indian prime minister to visit Jerusalem.

While Modi isn't facing any personal corruption scandals, his government has been facing massive protests after the passage of a controversial immigration law that critics say discriminates against Muslims.

That's three nationalist leaders united by a love of brash tactics and strong-man strategies.

For Modi and Trump, this style of campaigning worked. It's less clear with Netanyahu, who faces a third-straight election within 12 months, having already failed the former government twice.


LIEBERMANN: There's just about four and a half hours left in voting for the Likud leadership race. Prime Minister Netanyahu doesn't want to just win this. He wants to win it big.

If it's something like 80/20 or 70/30, that assures that Netanyahu remains not only in control of his own party but the leader of Israel's right wing. If this is a close race, 60/40 or 55/45, it's a signal that Netanyahu's base is shifting away from him and moving in a different direction.

Of course, Kate, the big shocker here, which is considered improbable, though not impossible, is if his rival, Gideon Saar, pulls it off and beats Netanyahu, and that means it's effectively the end of Netanyahu's time as Israel's leader.

BOLDUAN: So hard to follow it all. So glad that you're there, Oren, to do it for us. I really appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up for us, from backlash against Boing to a failed attempt to go public for WeWork, it was a rocky year for CEOs. What is the impact of the great CEO exodus?



BOLDUAN: He's a Vietnam veteran and cancer survivor. Now with a new lease on life, the owner of a Connecticut pawn shop has a new mission, to give the gift of mobility.


PHIL PAVONE, PAWN SHOP OWNER GIVING THE GIFT OF MOBILITY: A lot of you can't do anything on your own without the help of others. That ends today.

Throughout the year, we collect unwanted motorized chairs, refurbish them and have a big giveaway around the holiday season.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You changed my life. I can live again.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Ten years ago, Phil Pavone had some motorized wheelchairs that weren't selling at his Connecticut pawn shop. He decided to donate them and asked people to send letters explaining why they needed a chair.

That first year, he gave away six. Now that number has reached almost 700.

PAVONE: There's thousands of these chairs out there that once people are done with them, they don't know what to do with them. And you have all these people that need them and you just don't have any program to put the two together.

A few years back, I developed cancer. It was the first time in my life that I had to depend on someone else. You feel like you're worthless.

This is as non-profit as you can get. We have a GoFundMe page. All my volunteers do it out of their heart. I do it out of my heart.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, look at me go. Thank you so much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Honey, you can do wheelies in the parking lot.



BOLDUAN: So 2019 has been called the year of the CEO exodus. This week, the CEO of Boeing was fired in fallout over those two horrific fatal crashes. In just one week alone, in September, the CEOs of Juul, eBay and WeWork all out. During the first 11 months of 2019, nearly 1500 CEOs stepped down. What is this all about?


CNN editor-at-large and host of "Quest Means Business," Richard Quest, is here in the flesh.

Good to see you.


BOLDUAN: They're leaving, Richard, for a variety of reasons, of course, but is there something about this year that makes it unique?

QUEST: I think the difference this year is there's so much more tension and focus. Companies are having to perform better. There's this question of not only the #metoo element, but also environmental pressures.

And a difficulty earlier in the year with the stock market's sub- performance, questions became much clear.

I was analyzing the names in the article about CEOs that have left. It really came down to three or four groups. You had those who were going because of scandal


QUEST: -- McDonald's, Boeing, all of that, HBO. They all went because something happened and it was felt it was best. That's why Time Warner felt it was best they should go.

Then you've got those going because of bad results. You have the Under Armour CEO, Nike, Juul, Gap, the companies just didn't do very well.

Then you've got those where it's just time to go. You have those like Oscar Munyon at United, restored the credibility to some extent. And Best Buy's Hubert Jolly.

So there's no one theme until you get to, of course, the biggest, into the ones you're talking about, people like McDonald's, people like Boeing.

BOLDUAN: That's exactly right.

Is there some -- is there a lesson in this for everyone who is not a CEO?

QUEST: I think there's more of a lesson in it for those who are CEOs.

First of all --


QUEST: First of all, your tenure will be between three and five years, so you don't have very long to make all that money.

Secondly, if it goes wrong, it's going to go wrong spectacularly, and you will be kicked out unceremoniously.

Now, I'm not weeping for them in any shape or form. But the reality is when it does go wrong for a CEO, it goes wrong very badly, indeed. And you know what, as Harry Truman said, famously on the front of his desk, "The buck stops here." CEOs have learned that this last year.

BOLDUAN: You mentioned there were a number of CEOs forced out for personal misconduct. Are boards becoming more powerful, more empowered? Has culture changed? I mean, yes, but is that part of the impact? Or are more CEOs behaving badly?

QUEST: A bit of both, I suspect. Boards are suddenly more aware of their responsibilities, that they could be sued, they could be criticized. Shareholders may take them to task. And boards, frankly, are finding it difficult.

Boeing is a really good example. How did Boeing's board let Muilenburg stay there for so long? Then you've got McDonald's board, which decided, no, you've got to go, you've got to go for these transgressions in your personal life.

It's six of one, half dozen of another. Because I do believe most boards are weak, lily livered, cowardly, and they're often just basically there to do the CEO's bidding. What they're discovering is that's no longer applicable.

They have to remember their duty is to the shareholders --


QUEST: -- to the stakeholders to be independent. Many boards are finding that very difficult.

BOLDUAN: Richard Quest making his personal pitch to make it on the board there.


QUEST: Hey, I'm available. I'm available.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Not hiring you.

Obviously, 2019 is a big year for the market. Do you think this is also -- this is cynical --


BOLDUAN: Do you think CEOs look at the portfolios and they're saying, you know what, this is a good time to get out because maybe --

QUEST: You could say the same for any of us.

We started with people like me and the analysts we spoke to, all saying 2019 was going to be a meh year. The market wasn't going to do very well. We started dreadfully this time of year, absolutely shockingly.


QUEST: But it recovered later in the year. Some credit it absolutely to President Trump for his policies on things like trade, which is now starting to show fruition, for tax reform, which has shown fruition, and for deregulation in many ways. The president likely can claim this as his stock market.

But remember, as always, what goes up may come down. And then you may not want to be owning it.

BOLDUAN: The brutal reality checks of Richard Quest.

Thank you, Richard.

QUEST: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

We have this also just into CNN. Police in New York have located a third teen they were searching for in connection with a deadly stabbing of a Barnard College freshman.


Earlier this month, three boys, each reportedly under the age of 14, they reportedly followed Tessa Majors, robbed her before one of them stabbed her. She was found near a security booth on campus after stumbling up a flight of stairs.

Now the news is in that a third teenager has been picked up in connection with that stabbing. We'll bring you more news as we get that as it comes in.

Still ahead, coming up, a Republican says she's disturbed by Mitch McConnell's pledge to coordinate with the White House over the impeachment trial. Could it be a sign of more dissent to come inside the Republican Party?