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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Tough Fight Ahead for Health Care Bill; Trump Meets with Australian PM. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired May 4, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:59:22] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.
We're live from Washington for a second night where the cheers and jeer echo through the Capitol Hill today after the House passed the bill to replace Obamacare.
Now, we do have a lot to get to tonight. The political matters, yes, but the practical as well, what's actually in this bill, what it could mean for average Americans, and what we still do not know about it.
For all the victory laps from the president and House Republicans today, this is not the end of the Trumpcare debate. It is only the beginning. The bill faces a number of big challenges going forward, including, of course, the Senate.
Now, tonight, the president is back in New York for the first time since he took office. He's at the Intrepid Museum with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
[20:00:02] Phil Mattingly joins us now.
So -- actually, Phil, what was the president's reaction to the bill passing today?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, the president obviously was very pleased about what happened.
Anderson, I think you made a very good point here. This is the first step of a three-step process. And this was the easiest step, getting it through the House.
Then, they have to move through the Senate where the president just acknowledged there are going to be changes and that's an understatement. There are going to be major changes to this bill. Key portions that took a lot of Republican effort, a lot of internal squabbles to ever get to that point, will be shifted when it goes over to the Senate.
After that, then it will have to go back to the House where the House will likely have to eat or take on a proposal that a lot of their members are uncomfortable with. So, there's a lot of work left on this bill, Anderson. But I do think
it's important to note. You make a really, really good point off the top. This is a dramatic shift in the U.S. health care system. No question about it.
There's been a lot of talk about specific amendments, very interesting details, the political winners and losers here. But I think it's important to go through what this bill would actually do, even if it will be changed going forward. Compare it to what current law is.
Now, this Republican proposal, as you look through it, how it will actually finance things, make things more affordable, it will focus heavily on refundable tax credits.
This is a shift from what we've seen on Obamacare which relies more heavily on generous subsidies. There will also be a phasing-out of the Medicaid expansion program and a shift entirely, a very conservative shift, something conservatives have wanted for a long period of time, of that Medicaid program, changing the funding of it on a per capita basis based on enrollees itself.
What we're seeing here is a major change. The proposal of a major change that will impact everyday lives in a way that we haven't seen in seven, eight years. It shifts things more towards a conservative way of thinking, more towards a conservative way of health care that they've wanted for a long period of time.
And, Anderson, I can't stress this enough, despite the political squabbles, despite the internal battles back and forth between Republicans we've seen the last six weeks, when it comes to the dramatic changes that will occur, they will absolutely affect every individual in this country. This is a very big deal, even if it is only the first step.
COOPER: You know, I mean, it seems like a number of Republicans voted for this bill without actually having read the bill. I talked to House member, Congressman Garrett. He said he hadn't fully read it, he said his staff hadn't briefed on it.
Of people you talk to, House Republicans, how did they feel about voting on this, A, without necessarily reading it, but also, without having a CBO score, the Congressional Budget Office?
MATTINGLY: Yes, they walk themselves into a major political liability by not getting that updated score. Obviously, they had a score originally, a score that only had bad news for them, 24 million over the course of 10 years would lose insurance based on this proposal. That said, Anderson, myself and several colleagues spent much of the day asking members, is this a huge concern that you don't know what these new additions to this proposal will actually do?
Well, take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REPORTER: How do you explain to constituents the fact that Republicans will have voted on this bill without a full CBO score? I mean, we only have a score on the original bill.
REP. DAVE BRAT (R), VIRGINIA: Yes. The three amendments that are new aren't going to change dramatically that CBO score, right? The basic CBO score is going to still be in the ballpark. And everything else we've said either expands coverage, takes care of pre-existing conditions or lowers premiums. So, every amendment added is a good move on policy grounds.
REPORTER: How do you know this is going to be right given there is no CBO analysis to exactly say how many people lose coverage, and the impact this would have on the economy?
REP. BRIAN MAST (R), FLORIDA: I know we're doing the right thing.
REPORTER: But how?
MAST: I know.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MATTINGLY: Anderson, that's putting a lot of faith without having numbers to actually back it up. Now, it's worth noting, Republicans disagree with a lot of how the CBO comes to their conclusions. They don't believe that the models accurately reflect what a conservative view, what a conservative proposal on health care, would actually put to the table.
But it underscores the point, both on the politics of this, there will be numerous attacks about the how this process went through, their willingness to vote on this without the score.
But it also underscores another simple point. The speaker made very clear, when they have the votes, they were going to vote. No matter what else was going on behind the scenes, no matter what they were lacking process-wise, they had the votes. It was time to vote, they didn't want this to linger out there.
There was the possibility that an updated CBO score would only create more problems for them, so they put it on the floor. It turns out at least in terms of moving this to the next step, moving this over to the Senate, that was an effective play, Anderson.
COOPER: And that was where it heads tonight.
Phil Mattingly, thanks very much.
Tonight, the president, as we said, is back in New York for the first time since he took office. He is at the Intrepid Museum with Australia's prime minister. We're going to play you sound of him with Australia's prime minister where Jeff Zeleny is standing by now live for us in New York.
Jeff, explain what the night holds for the president.
[20:05:00] JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the president is going to be meeting here with the prime minister of Australia. It is a -- an abbreviated meeting. He was supposed to meet with him earlier in the day but they are meeting here.
And they're celebrating the 75th anniversary of a key battle in the Second World War, the Battle of the Coral Sea. But certainly they're also talking about other threats that are happening now.
But I can tell you the president is still so focused on what happened earlier in the day in Washington. He delayed his trip here by a couple of hours because he was taking that victory lap in the Rose Garden.
COOPER: Now, I should point out we are -- we are just getting some sound from President Trump with the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. We're told it lasts several minutes. Let's listen in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MALCOLM TURNBULL, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: Congratulations on your vote today.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much. It's great big day.
TURNBULL: Big day.
TRUMP: A big day.
TURNBULL: Yes. And every vote counts.
TRUMP: Every vote. We got it. We had a couple left over if we wanted them but we didn't need them. It was a very big day. I appreciate your waiting.
TURNBULL: Well, I know the feeling. We have challenges with our parliament too. We have 29 seats in a Senate of 76. So, we need a lot of work to get legislation passed.
TRUMP: That means you're doing a great job.
TURNBULL: When you get it passed, you are.
TRUMP: It's great to be with you.
TRUMP: We get along great, we get along great, always have.
REPORTER: How important is the relationship with Australia?
TRUMP: I love Australia, we have a fantastic relationship. But I love Australia, always have. Greg Norman's here today, friend of ours. We have a lot of friends here tonight.
TURNBULL: A lot of friends in common.
TRUMP: A lot of friends in common.
REPORTER: You could put the refugee deal behind you?
TRUMP: Oh, yes, sure, we're going to -- that's been worked out. It's been worked out for a long time.
TRUMP: We had a good telephone call.
TURNBULL: We had a great call.
TRUMP: You guys exaggerated that call. That was a big exaggeration. I'll tell you, we had a great call. I mean, we're not babies. But we had a great call, right?
TRUMP: We had a very, very good call. That was a little bit of fake news as the expression goes.
TURNBULL: That's exactly right.
REPORTER: When can we expect you being in Australia, Mr. Trump?
TRUMP: That will happen. One of the great, great places, one of the most beautiful places on Earth. I have so many friends and I'll be there. We'll be there, absolutely. We'll be there.
TURNBULL: We're looking forward to it.
REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) celebrating the Battle of the Coral Sea?
TRUMP: Right. I'll be speaking of Battle of the Coral Sea tonight. That was some battle. It was a very important battle for both of us.
TURNBULL: It was.
TRUMP: We did it together.
TURNBULL: We did. It saved Australia. It was the turning point in the war. And I was just up on --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Those are some of the comments between the president and Australia's prime minister.
Jeff Zeleny again standing by.
Jeff, as you said, I mean, he has clearly been focusing on health care for the last several days and obviously even tonight. I mean, it's one of the reasons he was late tonight. He said it will undergo some changes in the Senate, that's pretty much an understatement. I mean, it's kind of unknown where it will go through the Senate.
ZELENY: That's a major understatement. The reality here is, Anderson, the Senate is basically going to start fresh. This House bill will be the underlying measure that they work off of, but the Senate is going to re-examine all of this, which, of course, means that this is back to the drawing board, essentially, here.
But I think one thing that will be interesting to watch going forward, what did the president learn about this process? And senior administration officials have explained to me just within the last couple of hours, they believe that the president has said that he will have a more hands-on approach here.
We'll see if that works. Sometimes that was successful in the House process, sometimes it was not. But the reality here is this is just the very beginning of this.
But the president believes that it certainly gives him at least, you know, a sense of energy. You could see the satisfaction and confidence he has. But again, even Republicans in the Senate, never mind the Democrats, are not looking very favorably on this at this point, Anderson. But the goal remains for Republicans to get this done.
But the 2018 midterm election campaign now rides on this, depends on it. He made promises in the Rose Garden today. Premiums wouldn't go up. We'll see if that actually happens -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, you can hear demonstrators there yelling.
Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much.
Lots to talk about with the panel. Joining me now tonight is Kirsten Powers, Jonathan Martin, Gloria Borger, Dana Bash, Jeffrey Lord, Jen Psaki, Bakari Sellers, and former Congressman Jack Kingston.
Dana, I mean, a huge win for the White House. And -- I mean, unusual that they actually had kind of a Rose Garden celebration when it's really only passed the House. Nevertheless, it was a good day for the White House.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, those were optics I don't remember seeing ever, when there's just a first step in a very long process.
[20:10:03] But they completely needed a win.
And I was talking to a Republican strategist who's very focused on keeping the House and not losing the House who said that the big challenge for them politically now, the big challenge for them is that the Democratic base is so riled up. They are so on fire about this and about so many other things, namely the president of the United States, that any chance that they have to try to rally their conservative base and remind them in a very big, very public, very sort of image symbolic kind of way in the Rose Garden, that they will take. And so, that's the main reason why they did this today. It is a very,
very long way to go.
And the Senate is basically -- they're going to probably use the bones of this bill for procedural reasons, but probably going to start largely from scratch, because they have a wide spectrum, smaller number obviously, but a wide spectrum within the Republican Party and they're going to try to make a deal amongst themselves.
COOPER: Gloria, I mean, the president said he's so confident it's going to get through the Senate, you know, maybe a few minor changes that as we get from Jeff.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I have news for him, it's complicated, OK? And it's going to be -- it's going to be very difficult. I've never seen anybody kind of spike a football at halftime. I'm not a sports fan, but I don't think that --
BORGER: Have you seen that?
COOPER: In baseball, all the time.
BORGER: I have not.
But the president, of course, is going to say, you know, we're going to get it through. What they did today was kind of to motivate people. But in the Senate, there are the same problems as there were in the House and you've got a lot of moderates who said they don't like this bill.
You've got people like Ted Cruz who's going to be kind of interesting here. Because he is someone who's kind of played footsie with the House conservatives a lot. Let's see how he behaves on this bill. And let's see what happens when these people go home and they start getting asked questions about what's in this bill, because as Congressman Collins admitted to Wolf Blitzer earlier today, he hadn't read it.
BORGER: So --
COOPER: Congressman Garrett, who I talked to, same thing.
BORGER: Same thing, hadn't read it. You know, no hearings, no Congressional Budget Office score, no text. So, there wasn't much to read.
COOPER: But, Jonathan, I mean, for the Senate, obviously, Medicaid, pre-existing conditions, those are the big sticking points.
JONATHAN MARTIN, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: Yes. You're going to have senators who come from states that have poor folks at home, places like Nevada, for example, where Dean Heller's on the ballot next year, you know, parts Appalachia, where you're going to have GOP senators who are uneasy about passing any bill that could harm folks who are on Medicaid.
COOPER: A lot of states that voted for Donald Trump.
MARTIN: Overwhelmingly Trump states, Anderson, and these are deep red states but they tend to be, you know, more downscale white parts of America.
And, by the way, the Senate moves slowly. And this is going to be a real challenge for the president, who's now got this first victory under his belt, trying to be patient with the sort of glacial pace of the Senate.
I asked one senator tonight before I came here, I said, what's the fastest that you could move any kind of a bill out of the Senate? This senator said, "Unclear."
By contrast, I asked a Trump staffer the same question. They said, "Probably by June." As in next month. We'll see.
BASH: They don't control the legislative calendar.
COOPER: Kirsten, I mean, I think it's 11 states most likely affected by pre-existing conditions, all voted for Donald Trump. And a third of people under 65 in those states have a pre-existing condition.
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Half -- really 50 percent of Americans have pre-existing conditions. This is a very serious issue. A lot of Republicans are saying, well, it doesn't really affect people because it's just saying the states can get a waiver, you know?
But that's -- the reality is a lot of states are actually going to get a waiver. You know, there were 35 states before who had these high- risk pools before Obamacare. So, this was something that they were doing.
But can I just say, not to be the skunk at the picnic, but this feels a little bit like giving Donald Trump a participation trophy because, you know, this isn't -- this would be like when cap and trade passed the House, having a Rose Garden signing ceremony. I mean, that's just not -- and then it, of course, died in the Senate.
I mean, this bill is a very flawed bill and I don't think there's going to be a lot of things in it that the Senate is not going to go for. And it feels a lot like Paul Ryan just wanted to get this of on of his desk, get it over to the Senate, and if it dies there, then it's on the Senate. But it's not -- you know, it's not necessarily a good bill. And I think the fact that a lot of these members of Congress don't even know what's in it speaks to that.
MARTIN: If it dies there, it would be Paul Ryan who would lose his speakership potentially, because the Senate is not in play next year and the House is. So, this is a House-based campaign next year. So --
POWERS: Yes, but couldn't he also say, like, we did what we could do.
MARTIN: We tried.
POWERS: We put all the things in it that our people want, even though a lot of it's probably going to violate the Byrd rule, but at least we sent it over there and the Senate is the one that let it die.
BORGER: You know, I had a Republican consultant said to me today, if we hadn't passed this today, we would lose control of the House, period.
MARTIN: There was lots of that, yes.
COOPER: Jeff Lord, I notice you're carrying your -- one of the many Donald Trump books you like to tout around.
[20:15:04] JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This is called "Trump Never Give Up," the subtitle, "How I Turn My Biggest Challenges Into Success."
COOPER: Who wrote this one?
LORD: He wrote it with his friend Meredith MacGyver --
LORD: -- whom I know and who does exist.
COOPER: You know what? Let's take a quick break.
COOPER: I might read a little.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A tease.
BASH: You don't even need commercials.
We'll point out the spine hasn't been broken but that's OK, Jeff Lord. You carry your book.
We'll take a short break. We'll continue to look at the real impact that this bill could have on your health care.
Also, we have Senator Bernie Sanders joins us saying Republicans voted to throw their constituents off insurance, they should be ashamed. I'll speak with him coming up.
COOPER: And welcome back. We're live in Washington, where the debate over health care exploded in the House today, where Republicans passed a bill to replace Obamacare.
Not one Democrat voted yes. The bill faces a battle in the Senate where it will likely be changed.
But we wanted to take a look at who wins, who loses in the House bill that passed today.
First, the winners: higher-income families stand to benefit from this bill which eliminates Obamacare's taxes on the wealthy, as well as insurance companies and prescription drugmakers.
Younger people fare well. The bill keeps intact the Obamacare policy that kids can stay on their parents' plans until age 26.
As for the losers: low income families. Medicaid would be overhauled, shifting the burden to states which may not have the money to make up the difference.
[20:20:02] Older Americans under the House bill, insurers could charge older people five times as much as younger policyholders, hiking premiums for people in their 50s and 60s.
One of the most contentious parts of the bill, it weakens the Obamacare protection for people with preexisting conditions and let insurers sell plans that don't include services that are mandated under Obamacare, everything from maternity to mental health.
Back with the panel.
So, Jeff, what about the pre-existing condition thing? I mean, how do you justify the idea of he fine print?
LORD: As I understand it, Congress -- that was Congressman Upton's demand, that they -- not so? You're shaking your head at me.
BASH: It was just the money.
BORGER: Yes, he got money for it.
LORD: Well, how are you going to pay for it otherwise?
I mean, look, the thing that we need to understand here, I mean, let's be candid, insurance is about, you know, if there's 1,000 people out there, you've got, what, 200 or so that may have a problem and you're balancing the system that way. When you're saying preconditions -- and I'm for it -- but that's not insurance anymore, really. I mean, that's an entitlement.
So, therein lies the argument. And it still has to be paid for. So, I understand the politics of it, and I think they're very sensitive to it, and the president's in favor and he'll try and get it done.
COOPER: This certainly seems like a major issue -- sorry.
JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I wanted to say, there's an amendment in the bill that says nothing in the act shall be construed as permitting health insurers to limit access to health coverage with individuals with pre-existing conditions.
KINGSTON: Ninety-three percent of the people in America are enrolled through their employer or Medicaid or Medicare or children's health care. They're not going to be affected by this.
COOPER: Actually, that may not be true.
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's not true because employer-based policies are affected.
KINGSTON: No, there's another amendment that said employers can't do that.
SELLERS: That's very misleading because what happen --
KINGSTON: Because that's the law?
SELLERS: No, because --
KINGSTON: That was in the bill.
SELLERS: That's not what's going to happen. Practically --
KINGSTON: Well, it's in the bill. We're talking about the bill.
COOPER: Let him in.
SELLERS: Practically speaking, what's going to happen is you're going to have states who will opt out, who will not cover these. Or the fact of the matter is they will raise the prices so high.
So, if something is so expensive that you can't afford it, it doesn't matter what you call it, that's not access.
KINGSTON: Let me --
SELLERS: But I want to comment on this. What -- the reason why Jeffrey was stumbling through this is the reason why Republicans are going to have trouble over the next few weeks, because when you look into this bill and you see what they have as pre-existing conditions now, victims of rape, postpartum disease. You talk about all these things.
Postpartum -- I didn't mean to say -- excuse me, postpartum illness, depression, excuse me.
I'm struggling over here. But you're starting to see the fact that Republicans are going to have to go back to their districts and explain this to their constituents. It's going to be very, very difficult.
LORD: If you're a representative from Iowa where one of the last insurance companies is about to pull out and leave tens of thousands of Iowans with no health insurance, that's not a problem to explain.
JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think this is a favorite Republican talking point, which fine. The fact is that the deadline is not until the end of the month for insurers in Iowa. So, let's settle that.
The second issue here is that states now are going to have the option to opt out of providing essential benefits.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
PSAKI: And if you are a state and you're trying to save money, you're going to probably opt out. A lot of them will.
What Obamacare did was raised the standard. So, it made it so that health insurance companies had to cover maternity benefits, they had to cover asthma, they had to cover --
PSAKI: -- when you have a C-section. Let me finish.
And so, what this does is it takes away that standard. And it leaves it out to the market and hopes for the best. And that's a difference in how Democrats and Republicans view health care.
KINGSTON: I'm concerned --
LORD: We trust the market more than we do the government.
KINGSTON: You don't trust your governors any better than this. I feel very good about my state's ability to run Medicaid better than it is.
And I want to say this, you know, I'm from historic Savannah, Bakari knows, right down the street from him, any time we change a light bulb, we talk about how great the last one was. That's what I'm hearing right now from the Democrats.
They're forgetting that the average premium under Obamacare went up 40 percent. Some states had premium increases as high as 100 percent. Arizona, a key swing state, 117 percent.
PSAKI: But the problem is --
SELLERS: It only affects 3 percent of the public --
KINGSTON: As a person --
SELLERS: As the premiums went up, so did the subsidies. So, that's a misnomer. But the fact is, no, I don't trust my governors. In South Carolina, perfect example, we didn't expand Medicaid. That meant 240,000 people went without coverage. Just went without coverage. People literally died.
So in states that are poor, rural states, Appalachia, these states that voted for Donald Trump, why would we all of a sudden assume they're going to have the resources to cover individuals with pre- existing conditions?
BORGER: And one of the reasons the -- Aetna, for example, withdrew in Iowa is because of the uncertainty in the marketplace and the cost of high-risk pools. What is to say that that -- that it's going to become more certain suddenly when you have states being able to decide -- yes, when you want to put it back to the states what makes you think that suddenly insurers are going to opt in?
[20:25:08] What we do do in this bill, what is done in this bill, is the insurers get more money. They do get more money. But what happens to the people who are supposed to be insured? I mean, you know -- the insurers are getting taken care of --
KINGSTON: There's huge tax credits in here, tax credits that run from $2,000 to $14,000 a family. There's health savings account deductions that go up -- as high as $6,500.
I don't understand when this country got so afraid of market and market forces, more competitors getting into the market, bringing down the cost of goods --
PSAKI: I'll tell you, fear of the market when you have asthma and they're spending tens and thousands of dollars on it.
PSAKI: -- or when you're paying to have a baby and it's going to be $17,000 more expensive are.
SELLERS: Or you get cancer.
PSAKI: Or if you have cancer.
SELLERS: It's $140,000.
PSAKI: The cost of health care is --
POWERS: Jack, the thing is, this is very good if you're healthy. I mean, let's just be honest about it.
PSAKI: Or young.
POWERS: The way that they are cutting costs in this is basically through not covering pre-existing conditions. They're doing this $8 billion, which is a pittance. It's not even going to come close to covering it.
And so, they're basically saying that, you know, we'll take care of people who are healthy, you'll maybe see your premiums go down. But if you're sick, if you have a child that has diabetes and it costs $500 a week for you to get insulin for them --
KINGSTON: But if you're insured now you cannot be canceled because of pre-existing illnesses.
POWERS: No, they can get a waiver. Right, they can get a waiver.
KINGSTON: It's kind of like somebody walking down the street, or on the grass, and saying what if a car hits me? We're talking about hypothetical situations that are absolutely addressed in this bill.
BASH: Everything here is hypothetical, I mean, by its nature.
SELLERS: It's insurance.
BASH: Right, it's insurance.
But I have one of your former colleagues, a current member, who voted yes, is a moderate, admitted the $8 billion is symbolism. You know, helped get a couple, maybe a couple of people over the line because it seemed to address a concern about not just the pre-existing condition -- wait -- but also how you pay for it. And this person said that he voted yes because of the concern that the newest headlines are going to come out and it's all going to be about premiums hiking, and he's going to go home and say, I didn't vote for anything, and he's going --
COOPER: I've got to take a break. I'm going to talk to Senator Bernie Sanders about what the GOP health care faces in the Senate, whether he plans to work with Republicans to make the bill more bipartisan. He's coming up next.
[20:31:30] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight, President Trump and House Republicans are celebrating what they are calling a major victory. Today, the House passed by a whisker the GOP health care bill. True, it is the first piece of legislation that President Trump has succeeded in getting pass the first hurdle in Congress. But as we've been discussing, it was a heavy lift, now an even higher hurdle is looming in the Senate where the battle is expected to go to a whole new level. Senator Bernie Sanders joins us now.
Senator Sanders, earlier this afternoon, you tweeted, "Donald Trump and Republicans just celebrated voting to let thousands of Americans die so that billionaires get tax breaks" Is that really what you think is happening here? Do you think thousands of Americans will die if --
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I) VERMONT: Exactly. Absolutely. No question. If, which is not going to happen, Anderson, but if the bill passed today in the House and it became law, thousands of Americans would die because they would no longer have access to health care.
Anderson, it is wrong to talk about what happened in the House today as a healthcare bill. This was not a health care bill. This was a bill that provided $300 billion in tax breaks to the wealthiest 2 percent at a time when we already have massive income inequality in America today.
This was a bill -- what kind of health care bill are we talking about when you throw 24 million people off of health insurance, substantially raise premiums for older workers, defund Planned Parenthood?
You know, these guys, Republicans talk about choice, everybody should have a choice. 2.5 million women choose Planned Parenthood. Well that's no longer going to be the case, and by the way, they cut Medicaid by some $800 billion.
COOPER: So when the president said the premiums will go down, deductibles will go down, you're saying that's just not true?
SANDERS: Look, with all due respect to President Trump, I think most Americans don't believe what he says very, very much. One of the interesting things that he said today, I guess he was sitting next to the Australian prime minister, and he said something to the effect, well, you know, your system is better than our system.
Well, Mr. President, you're right. In Australia and every other major country on earth they guarantee health care to all people. They don't throw 24 million people off of health insurance. So maybe when we get to the Senate, we should start off with looking at the Australian health care system or the Canadian health care system which guarantees healthcare to all people at a much lower cost per capita than we do.
COOPER: Do you believe that the president is deliberately misleading or do you think he just doesn't understand or simply misinformed?
SANDERS: You know, Anderson, you know, think about -- I mean it's unfortunate that you have to ask that question, is he lying or does he not know what he's talking about? I don't know the answer to that. But it's pretty pathetic whatever it may be. Whatever the case, maybe, what he is telling is -- what he is saying is inaccurate and not truthful.
COOPER: You know, a lot of Republicans pointed the fact that just yesterday, there was an announcement of pulling out of Virginia's individual market due to Obama care loses and Iowa, the Obamacare program there is on the verge of collapse. Republicans are saying, you know, why shouldn't we be taking action to stop things like that from happening?
SANDERS: Well, first of all, one of the things that's happening, and this will be a Republican tactic, mark my words on this, not just on health care but on social security as well. What they are doing now is very consciously sabotaging the Affordable Care Act. Does the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare have problems? You bet it does. Deductibles are too high, premiums are too high, copayments are too high. It has problems. We should address those serious problems.
[20:34:57] But what they are doing is trying to sabotage it right now, for example, not enforce the individual mandate. Many billions of dollars are not coming into the system and then rates are going up. And then they say, "Oh look, it's a terrible situation, rates are going up." They will do the same thing on social security. After you give huge tax breaks to the hundreds of billions of dollars to the very rich, they'll say, "Oh, the deficit is going up, we've got to cut social security. That's the only way we deal with the deficit." That is their tactic.
COOPER: Your colleague, Senator Lindsey Graham, he tweeted today, he said, "I believe it may take Obamacare's collapse before the parties are willing to work together in a bipartisan manner." Would you work with Republicans like Senator Graham on this bill in the Senate or is this something you don't want any part of?
SANDERS: No, of course. I mean the goal is how do we guarantee health care to all people without spending, as we do today, almost twice as much per capita? That's the goal. How do we have a cost if health care system where we put our emphasis on disease prevention where we can guarantee health care to all Americans? And I'm prepared to work with Lindsey Graham and anybody else towards that goal.
The function of health care right now, to be honest with you, is for insurance companies to make very large profits and the drug companies to charge us by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. I noticed, despite all of Trump's rhetoric about lowering prescription drug costs, they don't have any language in there. We could save many billions of dollars if we had the guts to take on the pharmaceutical industry and pay the same prices for prescriptions drugs as the people and countries around the world.
COOPER: You know, the president now says he's so confident, that was his term, that this bill is going to get through the Senate, maybe some minor changes but he's very confident. Will this actually get to the Senate --
SANDERS: All right. Let me break --
COOPER: OK, go ahead.
SANDERS: Anderson, let me break the bad news to the president. Mr. President, I'm sorry to disappoint you, this bill in its current form is not getting through the Senate. No way. No way. COOPER: How much does it need to change? I mean how major changes are you talking about? I mean I talked to Senator McCain earlier today, he talked about preexisting conditions --
SANDERS: You take this bill --
COOPER: ... obviously, Medicaid as well.
COOPER: You take this bill and you -- no, we don't want to clog up toilets or anything but you just toss it into a garbage can and you start again. This bill is a disaster, it is an embarrassment. And I want to say to the people who voted for Trump and I know that many of them are decent people who actually believed what he said during the campaign.
Remember what he told you. He said we are going to provide health care to everybody and it's going to be less expensive. Providing health care to everybody is not throwing 24 million people off of health insurance. So this, in my view, this health care bill is an embarrassment. It's an insult to the American people and in the Senate we will start with zero -- from zero and do something that will work for ordinary Americans.
COOPER: How important is it for you to get a CBO score from the Congressional Budget Office?
SANDERS: Obviously, it's enormously -- you know, Anderson, one of the many outrages that we saw today is when you are dealing with legislation that impacts one-seventh of the United States economy. This is huge. Don't you think maybe there might have been a hearing or to discuss the implications of this legislation? These guys put it together in a few weeks time, zero hearings, they didn't hear from the American Medical Association who oppose this legislation, they didn't hear from the hospitals that oppose this legislation or didn't hear from the AARP, largest senior group in America who opposes this legislation because it would be a disaster for older workers.
I mean, you don't deal with one-seventh of the economy in a couple of weeks without one public hearing. It is an embarrassment. So we're going to go into Senate, start from zero and hopefully come up with legislation that is improves on Obamacare. Hopefully, we'll guarantee health care to all of our people and do it in a more cost effective way.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
SANDERS: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: Just ahead after failing to defeat the GOP health care bill, Democrats broke out in song, taunting their Republican counterparts over what their votes may cost them in the midterm elections. We'll get our panel's take on all that and what Senator Sanders just said.
In a moment, also last night, the "Keeping Them Honest" report from Gary Tuchman, reveal that the border wall that the White House has been trumpeting the past few days wasn't a border wall at all, in fact it was actually a construction fence. Gary's back at it today, trying to get an explanation from the White House. Find out what they said ahead.
[20:43:38] COOPER: Well, welcome back. So we've said tonight, President Trump and Republicans lawmakers are taking a victory lap for clearing the first hurdle in the marathon battle over repealing Obamacare. But it is a marathon Democrats are calling that victory lap way premature. And as the vote was ending, House Democrats started singing.
Didn't catch all the words. They were chanting at the end, "Hey, hey, hey, good bye." Basically, they were taunting Republicans applying (ph) that today's vote will cost some their seats in the midterm elections.
Back now with the panel. Gloria, I mean does that reflect well on Democrats?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No. I think it's stupid, silly, childish, ridiculous and --
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Are you talking about Congress?
BORGER: Yes, I know. How could I. We know why their approval rating is so low. But also, it's kind of saying -- it's about how many seats they're going to win in 2018 and not about the bill itself. It sort of takes their eye off what people really care about is how this affects me. So I think it was ridiculous.
COOPER: Also Democrats have been pretty confident in a lot of elections that have gone so well.
COOPER: So I'm not sure they should be all that excited right now for the next election.
JEFFREY LORD, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I was going to say, let's recall that when Obamacare was passed, I don't know the Republicans sang on the floor, but when it came election time, Democrats lost control.
[30:45:02] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, there's a tradition of actually doing this as Jack --
BORGER: There is.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
BASH: And I thought that it was Republicans singing it about Obamacare until my colleagues --
COOPER: Dana, can you just explain for viewers why this bill only needs 51 votes not 60 to pass in the Senate --
COOPER: ... in a way that's really interesting and not really boring --
COOPER: All right. And the Republicans have 52 seats.
BASH: There is a process through which they can pass a bill in the House that only requires 51 votes in the Senate. They use that process but you need to have very specific elements to that in order to keep that process going. OK.
COOPER: So when Bernie Sanders is talking about working on something -- I mean they don't need Democrats, do they?
BASH: Well, they don't for this -- for what they have done so far which is kind of really the meat of the repeal of Obamacare, the mandates gone, you know, and the taxes gone and Medicare expansion gone, things like that. But others like the central health benefits, that does require 60 votes. And so that part, which is a big part of Obamacare, that is going to need 60 votes.
Remember like at the beginning of this process in January, the Republicans' talking point was there are going to be three prongs to this process. Well, that was part of it. But in the short term, this particular bill that we're dealing with now assuming that they don't change it dramatically will probably only need 51. But remember, even that, even getting the votes among Republicans, just like in the House is not going to be easy.
COOPER: For somebody sitting at home tonight, who's wondering how this affects them once -- you know, again, it all depends what the Senate passes and it goes back, so we don't know what the final form is going to be. But what do you say to someone sitting at home listing to you guys arguing about what this actually means? I mean I think it's frankly confusing for someone at home figure out what this actually means for them.
LORD: I'm sure it is confusing. But the one thing that just at the ground level, I can't tell you how many people would stop me during the course of the campaign to complain about Obamacare, that they had dealt with it for A, B or C reason and they were furious. Those were the people who turned out in part to vote for Donald Trump.
JEN PSAKI, FORMER WH COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR PRES. OBAMA: Well, I think there's a lot of confusion out there in the public about health care in general. And that's been the case for years. There have been recent studies that have shown that about a third of people who have Obamacare don't know that it's Obamacare and that's what they're using for coverage. So there's a lot of confusion.
I think what people at home should know is there are many steps left to go here. It's not just the Senate. It has to be back to the conference. There will be a lot that happens. But what is at risk here is their health care bill that they know and enjoy and helps protect them and that's why we're talking about this.
COOPER: Up next, we're going to have more with the panel. The other big vote on Capitol Hill today, the one in the Senate to keep the government running through the fall, White House Secretary Sean Spicer has tried to make the case President Trump got money in that deal to replace a place a chain-link fence on the border. He's wrong about that. We sent Gary Tuchman to the actual construction site. He's still there tonight and trying to get some answers on the White House today, (inaudible). We're "Keeping Them Honest" ahead.
[20:51:51] COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" follow-up now. While the White House focuses on the health care vote today, the Senate voted and approved the $1.1 trillion spending bill to fund the government through September. Now the budget doesn't have money for the border wall that President Trump has vowed will be built. There was some money for border security, actually a lot of money, but not for President Trump's wall. That has not stopped the White House, though, this week from arguing otherwise, even showing photos of border fencing under construction to try to make their point and pointing to what he says, Sean Spicer says, is existing chain-linked fence that is being replaced. Here's what Sean Spicer said about it yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If you look at that one in particular, you've got a chain-link fence is what is currently at our southern border. That is literally down there now. We are able to go in there and instead of having a chain link fence, replace it with that bollard wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So Budget Director Mick Mulvaney this week also pointed to the same fence using the same photos.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: We are building this now. There is money in this deal to build several hundreds of millions of dollars of this to replace this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: When he was asked, he said he didn't know where that fence actually was. We actually found out where that fence was. It actually wasn't that difficult to find out and we sent our correspondent Gary Tuchman down there. He's been down there for two days.
Last night, we showed what they were saying is not the full story, not by a -- not even close. We learned that the chain-link fence that Mr. Spicer and Mr. Mulvaney kept pointing to is not an existing border barrier at all. In fact, it's just a fence put up by the construction crews who are working and had been working on that part of the wall since before President Trump took office because that money was funded under George W. Bush. Gary's back at it tonight trying to get answers from the White House about what he learned. Here's his report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is Gary Tuchman from CNN.
We started our day calling and sending e-mails to the White House, the president's press secretary and the budget director to ask about their incorrect claims about the fencing found on the border near Sunland Park, New Mexico. We got no reply so we set out to get a closer look at the barrier. You can't get close to it on the American side, but you can when you make the short trip to Mexico.
We're American reporters from CNN here on the Mexican side. How's the construction going?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not allowed to talk about it. Sorry.
TUCHMAN: Everything is safe?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, everything is safe right now.
TUCHMAN: There was unhappiness about the construction in this desperately poor neighborhood just outside of Juarez, Mexico.
There's no question it's easy to scale this fence. People could probably do it pretty quickly but this is not a border fence, this is a temporary construction fence that was put up for the construction of the permanent fence.
The chain-link fence gets taken down as the secure barrier takes its place. Standard operating procedure say the workers. The Trump administration has suggested two separate times it's responsible for the new barrier, keeping the campaign promise, they say. But that's not true.
DAPHNE GRIFFIN, WORKS IN SUNLAND PARK, NEW MEXICO: This particular wall came from the Bush administration.
TUCHMAN: Is that common knowledge in this area?
GRIFFIN: Yes, absolutely.
TUCHMAN: But on the Mexican side, people we talk to give responsibility to --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump.
TUCHMAN: Donald Trump?
[20:55:01] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Si.
TUCHMAN: Donald Trump?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Si.
TUCHMAN: Jose Casas lives across the street from the fence, he operates a food stand.
He says yes, yes, it's Donald Trump's wall because since he's been in office, they're continuing to work on the fence. Some workers tell us rocks get thrown at them on occasion. Jose Casas doesn't endorse that but says it's hard seeing taller and taller walls built where you live.
He says "How could you not be offended? Because it's not right." The construction here is expected to continue into the summer. And if you want to give credit, it goes to George W. Bush and Barack Obama who continue to permit it while he was president. Donald Trump getting credit will have to wait.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So Gary, are there other projects like this one along the border that were started before President Trump took office? I mean this just seems like it's kind of the general upkeep and improvement of the existing fencing, correct?
TUCHMAN: That's exactly what it is, Anderson. Big project taking place right now, for example, in the border town of Naco, Arizona, about 100 miles to the southeast of Tucson, a very similar, taller stronger fence is going up. They're also using a chain-link fence as the construction fence. So even though this project and that project are happening as we speak, they have absolutely nothing to do with the presidency of Donald Trump.
COOPER: And I know you called the White House and informed them of this and this is obviously the second day you've been down there, the second night you've been doing reports for us. Any response from the White House?
TUCHMAN: You know, the White House, the press secretary, the budget director at this point have absolutely no comment about what they said the previous two days.
COOPER: Are you sure they have your number to call you back?
TUCHMAN: They definitely have my e-mail, Anderson, i know -- they definitely have my e-mail, I know that.
COOPER: OK. All right, Gary Tuchman thanks. We'll continue to follow it and find out why they were claiming that chain-link fence is actually border when it's actually not, just put up by these construction workers.
President Trump is back in New York tonight for the first time since taking office and he's praising his first victory on the GOP health care plan but he faces a very tough sell in the Senate.