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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Donald Trump Unveils Tax Plan; Barack Obama & Vladimir Putin to Meet Face to Face. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired September 28, 2015 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:31:54] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Our breaking news. We've been watching Donald Trump unveil his new tax plan, talking at Trump Tower. Talked for 30 minutes. This tax plan would simplify the tax code, cutting it to four income tax rates. Would also cut corporate tax raises and close some but not all loopholes enjoyed by some wealthier wage earners and investors.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: So many people have been calling on Donald Trump to put some substance behind his style. We learned his big tax policy. He laid it out here this morning.
Let's discuss all of this. Let's bring in our panel, Kevin Sheridan, former senior adviser for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign; along with Rana Foroohar, assistant managing editor of business and economics at "Time" magazine and a global economics analyst for us; and CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger; and political commentator, Paul Begala; and CNN chief business correspondent, Christine Romans.
So, Christine, first to you.
As John was saying, a lot to go through. He laid out his tax policy. But the big headline, four tax rates, making them easier and fair for everyone. What is your big take-away from Trump?
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: My big take-way is this is aspirational. All of these are aspirational.
ROMANS: But he wants to cut taxes for everyone. And he wants to give away some of the goodies for the hedge fund managers but no hedge fund manager is going to cry over this. He's lowering the tax rate --
BOLDUAN: You say that because hedge fund managers are getting away with murder and they're not going to like my plan.
ROMANS: They're not going to dislike this plan. Lowering tax rates for everyone, that's really key here. The richest people in the country will pay 25 percent income tax rates. That's much lower than they pay today. Talking about cutting the capital gains tax, talking about eliminating the death tax, as he calls, the estate tax, and slashing the top rate to 25 percent. Those are goodies for rich people. There are goodies for everybody. That's why it's so popular. He wants to increase the percentage of Americans who pay no tax at all. Right now, about 36 percent of Americans pay no federal income tax. Under this plan, about half of Americans, half of Americans would pay no federal income tax at all.
BERMAN: This will be look at independent groups like all tax proposals.
Gloria, I wonder if I can ask you, forgetting the policy side of it, the politics are clear. He wants to appeal to a broader audience than some traditional Republican candidates have in the past.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure. What he keeps going after and talks about it all the time is the Wall Street contingent here. We know that he's a businessman who does a lot of deals with Wall Street. You know, eliminating the carried interest deduction for hedge fund managers is a big deal. I was just speaking with a congressional source this morning who said to me, expect populous, like Elizabeth Warren, liberal Democrat, to jump right on this and endorse this part of Donald Trump's plan. I mean, why not, right? So he has a little bit of something for everyone in this and Donald Trump can be seen to be anti-wall street and pro-middle class, pro-poor at the same time.
BOLDUAN: Kevin, getting an endorsement from Elizabeth Warren on your tax plan, I don't think that's anything any Republican candidate would accept. Some are going to see elements of this plan and say, this is a Republican presidential candidate who is possibly raising taxes on certain folks, the wealthiest Americans. Republican raising taxes, possibly?
[11:35:18] KEVIN SHERIDAN, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER FOR MITT ROMNEY'S PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Yeah. He's speaking in a populous tone, obviously. And I think he's trying to, as your other guest said, give something to everyone. I was struck he didn't really -- although this is a new phase for his campaign, he really didn't change his defense of his -- when he was speaking in defense of his plan. He didn't change his tone at all. He still blames China, blames Mexico, makes big promises. Doesn't necessarily sound like he can keep. So, campaign plans are always a little bit written in sand. So, we'll have to see whether or not any of this would ever get passed anyway. I think, you know, economists will probably tell you this is not exactly going to work.
BERMAN: So, one of the things Donald Trump said is the economy is in his wheelhouse. We'll ask our experts, is it?
Stay with us. We'll be right back.
BERMAN: Donald Trump unveiling his tax plan for America at Trump Tower. Wrapping up minutes ago. He took questions from the press, including our very own Sarah Murray, who was in the room, joins us live.
Sara, your takeaways.
SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, sure. I think it was interesting to see Donald Trump come out and say, he's not a populist, this is just a common sense approach. Like you were saying, this is a tax plan that offers a little something for everyone. Lower rates across the board. But that's something that will help middle class families as well as he admits the wealthy. What I thought was very interesting is I asked Donald Trump what this would do to his effective tax rate and he sort of dodged the question. He wouldn't say what his tax rate is now. He wouldn't say whether his tab would go up or down despite earlier saying this would cost him a fortune. So, I think it is an open question, whether this is the kind of plan that will actually make wealthy individuals pay more. That was sort of the one of the teases he put out weeks ago saying, it will help middle class families and kind of hit the rich and ask them to pony up a little bit more -- John?
[11:40:25] BERMAN: All right, Sara.
Sara Murray live at Trump Tower, looking for answers from Donald Trump, not always getting them.
BOLDUAN: No, kind of the same. Sounds like a politician in that regard.
Let's bring in the rest of our panel.
Rana, we've been talking about a lot of individual income tax rates, but on the business side, there's a lot for business to chew on, lowering business tax rate to 15 percent and also the tax on profits overseas. Will it work? What do you think?
RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMICS ANALYST & ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR OF BUSINESS AND ECONOMICS, "TIME" MAGAZINE: It certainly will not create jobs. We know because we did this before. We did this in 2004. We had what's called a tax holiday where companies were allowed to take that cash they've been parking in overseas bank accounts and bring it back for a lower than average corporate rate. Now, most of this did not go into R&D or new factories or retraining workers. It went into share buybacks and dividend payments, which makes markets go up, which will make Mr. Trump happy, but not create jobs.
BOLDUAN: It's good for investors, not for workers.
FOROOHAR: That's right.
ROMANS: Lowering the corporate tax rate is what everyone wants. He's appealing there to Wall Street. They want lower tax rates. He says 15 percent. That's among the lowest.
BERMAN: His plan assumes 3 percent growth but you could see 5 percent or 6 percent. (CROSSTALK)
BERMAN: Paul Begala, I want to bring you in here.
You know a little about politics. I want to grade Trump's performance here, because unlike past speeches, he did read from his notes here because I imagine he wanted to get the specifics right.
BOLDUAN: Which was unusual.
BERMAN: But he has a fluency when talking about the economy. He does have an ability to explain things in a way that people understand. And this wasn't an unserious proposal.
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, it -- and it was fascinating to me. First, you know, John, our viewers should know, I advise a pro-Hillary super PAC. Even as a Hillary guy, his talent is undeniable. Donald Trump, we think about him as a real estate mogul, and he is. He has spent more time on television than any candidate for president since Ronald Reagan. He knows that medium. So he rolls this out. It was both populist and plutocratic. Huge tax cuts for the rich. Do you away with estate tax, which, by the way, no one pays unless they're inheriting from an estate of $5.4 million for a single person, 11 million for a married couple.
BOLDUAN: Except you, Paul.
BEGALA: Except for wealthy anchors, like you, Bolduan, and Berman. You have to worry about that.
Working stiffs don't.
He has big giveaways for the rich and populist language. I was smiling because it's so Donald Trump. He's clearly a smart guy. A brilliant guy. He clearly knows a lot about this. Then he pops off and says, unemployment is more like 30 or 32 or 42 -- at the height of the Great Depression, it was that 25 percent. That's unemployment trutherism. That's nutty. At the same time, he's trying to be serious but he can't help himself to go to that radical high speech. I find it just compelling. I love it. We should have him on more.
BOLDUAN: Thank you for your programming advice, Paul. We appreciate that very much.
Kevin, I want to get a final note. When you say all these candidates their tax policies are written in sand, because, obviously, the president cannot just say, this is tax policy, when they take office. I want to get, in your -- from your political lens, what impact this announcement is going to have on the race, you believe? When you look at the latest NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll, Trump right now is neck and neck with Ben Carson at 21 percent and 20 percent respectively. They're neck and neck. Right behind them, you've got Rubio and Fiorina tied at 11 percent. What do you think an announcement like this will have on Donald Trump's numbers amongst Republican primary voters?
SHERIDAN: Like everything else with Donald Trump, this will probably shine a line on other candidates' proposals as well and they'll have to debate the Donald Trump plan and that will be the centerpiece of kind of a discussion on economic plans going forward. The other candidates already have plans out there, but that's just the nature of this psych. You know, I think Trump and Carson are now effectively tied in some polls. But the real movement is between Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, who have -- who have gone up dramatically. Whether or not those establishment, one foot in each camp establishment and kind of outsider candidates can actually bridge -- you know, put together a coalition that can take on whoever the outsider is between Carson and Trump.
BERMAN: Donald Trump says Marco Rubio is a lightweight. Just said that today. And said, Rubio wouldn't know how to do this.
BOLDUAN: That Rubio first called it a freak show, the Trump freak show he wants no part of.
[11:45:10] Guys, Paul Begala, Kevin Sheridan, Rana Foroohar, Christine Romans and Gloria Borger, thank you all so much for joining us.
Pretty interesting, pretty interesting moments for Donald Trump right there.
If you have not had enough, there's so much more. Be sure to tune in at 7:00 p.m. eastern, CNN's Erin Burnett will sit down one-on-one with Donald Trump. They'll talk about tax plan and more.
BOLDUAN: Also ahead, a tense meeting. All eyes will be on President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin when they come face to face. The drama behind that closed-door meeting ahead.
BERMAN: Plus, I've got to tell you, one of the most astounding pieces of breaking news I've seen in a long time, Mars, liquid water on Mars. This is big news, folks. Stay with us.
BOLDUAN: President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin are meeting face-to-face here in New York in their first formal sit-down in two years. President Obama spoke at the U.N. General Assembly a short time ago. And strong words coming from the president. And Vladimir Putin is scheduled to speak in a short time. And now it comes at a time when there is pivotal time with Syria and Iran and the fight of ISIS, and also as Russia continues to building up the military presence in war-torn Syria as it continues to back Syria's President Bashar al Assad. And there is, of course, the U.S. dispute with Russia over aggression in Eastern Ukraine.
[11:50:15] And so during his speech at the United Nations a short time ago, the United States talked about working with Russia to battle ISIS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict, but we must recognize that there cannot be, after so is much bloodshed and so much carnage, a return to the pre- war status quo. There is no room for accommodating an apocalyptic group like ISIS, and the United States, make no apology for using our military as part of a broad coalition to go after them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Joining us now with a unique perspective is Mikheil Saakashvili. He was the current president of Georgia during that country's five-day war with Russia in 2008. Russia sent tanks into Georgia. He's currently the governor of the Odessa region of Ukraine, and an outspoken critic of President Putin.
Sir, I would like to read to you a statement from your friend, Senator John McCain, of Arizona, who is very critical of the idea that President Obama is meeting with President Putin. He says, "President Obama's decision to meet with Vladimir Putin is as misguided as it is unnecessary. It plays right into Putin's hands by breaking his international isolation, undermining the U.S. policy, and legitimizing Putin's destabilizing behavior, from dismembering Ukraine to propping Bashar al Assad."
Do you agree, sir?
MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI, GOVERNOR OF ODESSA, UKRAINE & FORMER PRESIDENT OF GEORGIA: Well, I tried to find the license to the truth, and that which are afraid of their own people, when he said that this nation has failed talking about Russia. When he goes to the meeting, the president is fully aware that he is going to meet with the head of state that they are on the verge of failing, and so when President Putin certainly, and you know, when Senator McCain has a point from his point that Putin will try to sell the meeting as the fact that the trying to do this all of the time, cracking under the sanctions with the unity of the West, and that the fact of the meeting, itself, he will try to sell it as the victor, but however, if President Obama keeps the talks strictly as he said today when he spoke about the fact that he cannot allow the nations to continue to impose their will on the smaller ones speaking of Ukraine occupied by Russia and mentioned Crimea, which is important, and Georgia, which is also occupied by Russia, but it is not mentioned there, but by U.S. officials in other venue, and if he keeps going with this message, then Putin will fail to design this meeting as the end of the diplomatic isolation. And nobody is meeting with him, and that is a strong and diplomatic standing of him in Russia. BOLDUAN: I want to ask about the meeting because it is assumed that
one of the two topics coming up with the president is the new intelligence agreement between Iraq, Russia, Syria and Iran. Does this deputy secretary of state, Antony Blinken, was asked about it, and how it would be brought up in the meeting, and listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONY BLINKEN, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: If countries are going to be focusing on the common enemy which is ISIL, which is a good and proper thing, but if they are taking means to prop up Bashar al Assad, then it is not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: In your view, Mr. Saakashvili, can you have both those things at once.
SAAKASHVILI: First of all, from his perspective, Putin in finally meeting with Obama. Well, he is making trouble by sending the warplanes to Syria, and prop up the regime of Bashar al Assad, and even at the meeting that he we assess that he is going to the contradictory against the U.S. position, because Bashar a al Assad is still in power, and when we talk about the common partners, we have to keep in mind that Russia is the largest country in the world, and it is the largest to attack the world as being the largest country in Europe. And by itself that comes after the fact that, you know, he is emboldened to make this attack afterwards there is a chemical weapons in Syria that gave Putin's own sense to get away with anything, and so we should be aware of that experience as well. And Ukraine, they want the nuclear weapons and the guarantees from the United States, and major western power, and we should expect and accept major help, and of course, President Obama has been very successful in mobilizing the sanction, and President Merkel as well. But it is fortunate that the United States will be having a real defensive weapon to protect itself, so when we talk about partnerships, Russia is not interested in that. They are interested in making trouble, and selling this in order to prop up their positions.
Look, from my experience of dealing with Putin, every time he kept indicating to us that, he always told us, look, don't tell too much to the West or the United States, because they will always find bigger topics with them, and they will always go switch to bigger topics and sell you out. I don't believe in the selling you out, but that is the position of Russians and they believe they have found another topic to divert from Ukraine and they want to with be quietly in the dark to kill the Ukrainian democracy, and undermine the full region and take over. And it is very important to make that point very strongly at that future meeting.
[11:56:47] BERMAN: Mikheil Saakashvili, thank you for joining us, giving us your perspective on the meeting with Vladimir Putin and President Obama later today.
We have breaking news of a galactic nature from Mars. Flowing streams of water. We will explain next.
[11:59:44] CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: And good morning, for the next 20 seconds.
Let me explain what NASA just said to us on a news conference. Think about if you are looking at dirt that is slightly wet, it is darker than dirt that is dry. And NASA has been noticing these streaks of darker land across the Martian atmosphere and the Martian land for a long, long time.