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Unemployment Lowest In A Decade At 4.4 Percent; Senate Plans To Write Its Own Health Care Bill; Trump Praises Australia's Universal Health Care; Health Care Bill Faces Uphill Battle In Senate; Trump Savors House Health Care Victory; North Korea Accuses U.S. And South Korea Of Assassination Plot. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired May 5, 2017 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[11:00:04]

ANA CABRERA, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: Ana Cabrera in for Kate Baldwin. Happy Friday, and especially happy Friday for President Trump, whose good week just gets better. A short time ago, the Labor Department released some strong numbers on the economy. We'll break them down for you in just a moment.

Now, this all comes on the heels of the president's first big legislative victory on Capitol Hill, the House bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. That bill is now headed to the Senate, but it has a long way to go before it even has a chance to become the law of the land. Some Senate Republicans already have their doubts about this bill. In fact, they might just end up writing their own version.

Plus, there are the ongoing questions about just how much the bill costs and its impact on health care coverage. That will come from the Congressional Budget Office. It could be weeks before we have all the answers. We'll have much more on the policy and the politics in just a moment.

But first to the big news on jobs. The April numbers are just out, showing unemployment has dropped again to 4.4 percent, now the lowest in ten years. Employers added 211,000 jobs last month.

So, let's bring in CNN's chief business correspondent and co-host of "EARLY START," Christine Romans. Christine, peel back some of the numbers. What do they show?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, they show confidence among employers to hire, quite frankly. Let's look at the jobs added here. You can see 211,000. The president to get to his promise of 25 million jobs created over the next ten years would have to stay above 208,000 every month.

So, he definitely did it this month. There's a little bit of weakness over here in March, but it looks as though employers were confident again coming up here in April. The unemployment rate, this is what's really fascinating. This is the number everyone's talking about today, 4.4 percent, the lowest in ten years.

You've got to go back to May 2007. That was before the economy essentially crashed, before the financial crisis essentially threatened the global economy. So, this is a really significant milestone here, almost near full employment.

What does full employment mean? That means that companies have to go out and search for workers because you've got an unemployment rate that's so low. Hopefully, that means that people can start coming in off of the sidelines and get back in the labor market.

Let me show you the sectors quickly because this is fascinating. Financial services, health care, look at, health care has had about 1.5 million jobs created in health care since Obamacare came into law in 2010, so it continues to be a very brisk pace of health care jobs.

And manufacturing also notable because the last three months there have been manufacturing job gains, Ana, that is different from last year when we were losing manufacturing jobs. That might actually be a credit to the president and his rhetoric, if not his policies.

CABRERA: And you just talked about one area where we give credit where it is due. President Trump of course will be claiming victory about this strong economy. Just how much do these strong jobs numbers correlate specifically with what President Trump has done or what the policies are he's laid out?

ROMANS: It's a really good question, because it's about confidence, right? Companies think President Obama will be pro-business, very pro-business. They think he's going to --

CABRERA: President Trump.

ROMANS: President Trump. Did I say Obama? Sorry. President Trump will be pro-business. Wow. President Trump will be pro-business. President Trump will cut taxes. President Trump will have infrastructure reform. So, they are already banking on that, and there is a business confidence of hiring.

I will say, though, Ana, companies hire because they want to make money, more money, and they think that more workers will help them make more money. So, that is the bottom line. So, business seems to be good for them and 211,000 net new jobs in the month.

CABRERA: And they're anticipating more good news, it sounds like.

ROMANS: Yes.

CABRERA: Thank you, Christine Romans.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

CABRERA: President Trump is savoring his victories but keeping a pretty low profile today, at his golf club in New Jersey and tweeted this a short time ago, "Big win in the House, very exciting," referencing the health care bill, "but when everything comes together with the inclusion of phase two, we will have truly great health care."

CNN's Jason Carroll is in New Jersey. Jason, what is on the president's agenda today?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the president will be taking some calls and some meetings. No public events on his calendar today. The president tweeting out the following just a short while ago, saying, "Rather than causing a big disruption in New York City, I will be working out of my home in Bedminster, New Jersey, this weekend. Also saves country money!"

Look, it does save New York City money, obviously, but taxpayers know that's not the case. Not saving taxpayers money. I mean, when you think of this town of Bedminster, some small town of 8,200 residents, just 16 members on the police force, a volunteer fire department.

The city's mayor estimates that if that the president, Ana, were to stay here let's say seven times over the course of the summer, that would end up costing about $300,000, some $42,000 per visit. So, not a savings for taxpayers, not true.

But look, the president isn't listening to the critics who say he should be spending more time at the White House on weekends. The president also not listening to critics when it comes to health care reform.

[11:05:08]He's feeling very good about what the GOP lawmakers were able to accomplish yesterday. He realizes this is just a first step. He expressed his optimism, actually, last night during an event with Australia's prime minister.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It's going to be fantastic health care. Right now, Obamacare is failing. We have a failing health care -- I shouldn't say this to our great gentleman and my friend from Australia, because you have better health care than we do, but we're going to have great health care very soon.

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CARROLL: What's interesting about that, Ana, is while he was complimenting Australia's health care system, it's in many ways very similar to what Obamacare was -- Ana.

CABRERA: Interesting. Now, the president does have his first overseas trip coming up, and we learned some of the specific locations he plans to visit. This is going to be a trip that is later than any other president since LBJ to have a foreign or overseas trip. Talk to us about where the president plans to head later this month and what the significance is of those specific countries?

CARROLL: Yes, and what's interesting about that, too, is when you think of presidents making their first trip out of the country, you think of places like going to Mexico or Canada, but with controversy over NAFTA and the border wall, that's not happening, at least not yet.

President Trump instead, his first visit will be to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Rome, and all of this in an effort to bring world religions together in an effort to build Middle East peace.

He said, quote, "to build a coalition of friends who share the goal of fighting terrorism and stability in the Middle East," that according to President Trump. He will also be meeting with the pope, a person he's been critical of in the past -- Ana.

CABRERA: Interesting. Jason Carroll reporting for us from New Jersey, thank you. Let's find out more about the next steps now for the health care bill. CNN's M.J. Lee has more on that. And M.J., this bill still has an uphill climb to say the least, in the Senate.

M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Yes, not just an uphill climb, a long uphill climb at that. Here's the state of play right now. The House bill that passed yesterday now heads over to the Senate. This is Congress 101. For any bill to become law, it, of course, has to be approved by both the House and the Senate.

The problem, though, right now is that Senate Republicans have already basically indicated that they are going to reject the House bill in its current form, and that is why they have already set up a working group of sorts that includes conservative Republican senators as well as moderate ones, to try to figure out what kind of bill do we want in the Senate.

Now, the budget reconciliation process mandates that senators have to be very conscious of whether or not everything in their bill complies with the Byrd rule. So that is an added complication.

Now, Ana, if we thought things were tough in the House, also keep in mind that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell needs to get 51 votes in the Senate, a simple majority to get anything through the Senate, to get this bill through the Senate.

So, that is a razor-thin margin that he is working with, and that means that he has to make sure that the different factions in the Senate need to be appeased, and we have already seen some of the divisions that we saw in the House emerge in the Senate.

So, President Trump is probably going to have to wait a couple of months, at least, to see some kind of bill land on his desk -- Ana.

CABRERA: And they're still waiting on the CBO score, right? I've heard from a lot of those senators saying we've got to get the score. We need to know how much is going to be added to the deficit. We need to know how much this bill would cost and what the actual impact is on Americans, including how many could end up losing insurance under this bill. Is that the tipping point for some of these senators, the Republicans that you speak of who maybe are skeptical?

LEE: That's right, absolutely. House Republicans took a big gamble yesterday by deciding to take this vote without there being a final CBO score. Remember, we only saw a CBO score weeks ago when that original bill came out.

The bill has changed since then, and I think it's more than fair for Senate Republicans to be saying right now that they want to see the actual impact, the full impact, the cost of everything, how many people will be affected by this bill, before they even decide whether or not they are going to accept any part of this bill.

CABRERA: M.J. Lee reporting from Capitol Hill, a quiet Capitol Hill, as many lawmakers have gone on to break. Thank you.

Let's dive a little deeper now with our panel. CNN political analyst and "Washington Examiner" correspondent, David Drucker, Princeton history professor and author, Julian Zelizer, and "CNN Money" senior writer, Tami Luhby, who has written extensively about this health care bill and issues of health care in America. So Tami, to you first, breakdown for us, who wins and who loses?

TAMI LUHBY, CNN MONEY SENIOR WRITER: Well, they're going to be younger Americans who are going to be happier because they're probably going to see lower premiums. Middle-class Americans are going to have more government assistants to pay for those premiums.

Right now, Obamacare subsidies cut off at about $48,000 for an individual. So, those making more than that don't get help. They'll get help under the Republican plan.

[11:10:09]And you're also going to see some big losers in this plan as well, people who are on Medicaid. They may not get as much coverage anymore. They may not be eligible and you're going to see older people who are going to be suffering from higher premiums.

CABRERA: David, health care yesterday, strong jobs numbers today. Politically, how big of a win is this right now for the president?

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think the president really needed to show some wins legislatively. He's done a lot with executive orders. He's talked a lot about what he plans to do, but before he was able to at least get this thing moved out of the House, into the Senate, he was putting everything in doubt.

People were wondering whether tax reform had any chance at all, and I think that's why you saw the president yesterday speak to tax reform and how he thinks it gets easier now that they've been able to show some success on the health care bill.

I think, ultimately, though, the larger question here for the president is whether or not they can actually deliver on the guarantees they're making with the health care bill.

There's no doubt that a lot of people are experiencing premiums and deductibles they can't afford, they're unhappy with the current health care system.

But the Republicans and the president now own this, and if their bill, if it does become law, and in fact, even if it doesn't, if they can't do something to fix health care reform, lower prices, lower deductibles and increase access to care that people like, they're going to be in for a world of hurt in 2018.

CABRERA: And to that note, I mean, there are no guarantees in this bill for people with pre-existing conditions, no guarantees, even though the president says that there is language that applies to pre- existing conditions.

There is no guarantee of maternity care, substance abuse, mental health benefits being covered as states apply for waivers or ask to opt out of some of this coverage in order to reduce the cost of insurance premiums for average Americans.

And so when we look at some of those winners and losers, and there's still no CBO score, which we discussed with M.J. So, is this health care bill a risk for Republicans to already be claiming victory on?

DRUCKER: Yes, I do. I mean, look, they were in trouble of looking feckless and rudderless, and as though their party handed them control of the government and they couldn't do anything with it. And that's why the House health care bill became about so much more than just health care, as important as that is.

But a lot of the guarantees that they're making in the bill they haven't yet been able to prove. And as we've talked to Republicans on Capitol Hill, and M.J. has noticed this, we have asked them, how much will this lower premiums and for who?

And they can't tell us. They can just guarantee it and so, these are some of the things they're going to have to work out. I note that in the Senate, because they're running this under the reconciliation rule to get around a Democratic filibuster, they're going to be forced to get a CBO score for anything they put up for a vote.

So, they're not going to have the same luxury as House Republicans did, to make a bunch of tweaks to any bill and then decide that a CBO score would be too risky.

CABRERA: Julian, why do you think Republicans are taking this victory lap at this stage? We saw that huge photo op in the Rose Garden yesterday. Some have used the analogy of sports, saying it's like a team doing the victory dance at halftime. Is it unusual to see this kind of celebration at this stage?

JULIAN ZELIZER, HISTORIAN AND PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: It's not that surprising. I think there is, some of this is genuine. I think there's a feeling that, finally, they have made legislative progress on something in this era of united government, where many of them felt the first 100 days would have been about a lot of legislative victories.

And part of this is about actually shaping the narrative of the story. So, they want to paint this as a success to excite Republicans, to excite conservatives, and keep them in line during the Senate debate. And so, I think that's part of what this celebration is. It's a political celebration as much as it is just a celebration about the win.

CABRERA: Tami, are people who don't have Obamacare currently going to notice any changes to coverage and how much premiums will cost? LUHBY: Right, well, this is going to be the big challenge for the Republicans, as we've been talking about. There is not that much that's going to lower premiums in this bill overall. I've been speaking to insurers, and they say this bill doesn't really get at what's really driving premiums, which is the cost of care.

It's going to shift around so older people will pay more, younger people will pay less, you know, there's going to be some benefits in that respect, but overall, premiums are going to stay high. And some insurers have already been reporting premiums for 2018.

I have a story on it today and they're in the double digits. There's one insurer in Maryland who wants more than 50 percent increases in premiums because people are sicker than expected, and notably, they're concerned about the uncertainty in Washington, particularly the individual mandate.

This bill actually eliminates the individual mandate, which means healthy people don't have to sign up anymore, and that is really scaring insurers.

[11:15:05]CABRERA: So Tami, are you saying that we could actually see premiums and deductibles go up more under the current plan that's been proposed by the GOP?

LUHBY: Well, remember, premiums go up every year. I mean, everything goes up every year, right? So, there are going to certainly be increases, but yes, in Obamacare, there are going to be premium increases for next year and based on what I've seen out of Maryland and Virginia for these early rate increases, there are going to be some pretty big hits.

CABRERA: And that's under Obamacare, though, just to make sure that we're not crossing any wires.

LUHBY: Well, is it under Obamacare or are we shifted into Trumpcare? I mean, one of the things that they're announcing is that they're concerned about the uncertainty in Washington, and that's one of the things that's driving up premiums. That's not Obamacare. That's Trumpcare.

CABRERA: Julian?

ZELIZER: It's a little of both. I mean, this was a critique from liberals of the ACA program, meaning it didn't really do enough for cost control, and it basically kept the existing insurance market intact and just tried to bring more people in.

So, this was a criticism from the start. You remember a debate over having a public option to try to have more weight on the costs. And now we are going in the reverse direction.

So, I think it's a combination of both programs, Republicans and Democrats leaving some of the underlying dynamics of what drives premiums up for most Americans intact. And until we do something about that, we're going to keep playing this song over and over again. CABRERA: So, David, what is it specifically that Republicans are so excited about in their bill?

DRUCKER: Well, look, they have long felt that Obamacare made health care worse in America because they don't think that it did everything to improve access to quality care for people who need it, and they felt as though it raised prices for people that had insurance, that liked their doctor and liked their plan, even if they weren't always satisfied with annual premium increases but I think --

CABRERA: It sure sounds like there are no guarantees that the premiums aren't going to go up based on what they have laid out here.

DRUCKER: Right. And I think what Republicans need to do if they're going to be successful in this effort, both politically and from a substantive standpoint, is they need to get out of this rabbit hole where they keep trying to defend their bill as doing the same for pre- existing conditions.

And all of the insurance guarantees and goodies that people like about Obamacare and start talking about how it's going to help people afford more access to quality care. I mean, this has been one of the worst sales jobs I've ever seen from Congress, and I don't expect much from Congress when it comes to selling bills.

They're always focused on process and difficult lawmaking, but they haven't bothered to tell anybody why their bill would be any better than Obamacare in a real sense and given people reassurance.

So, the only thing they can offer people right now is if you don't like Obamacare and you don't like the mandates and you don't like the taxes and don't like the idea of it, this would repeal it in large part.

CABRERA: This is something different. This is something different. That's the big sell, it sounds like.

DRUCKER: Right, but they need more than that.

CABRERA: Got to go, guys. David, Julian, Tami, thank you all for joining us. Really appreciate it.

Coming up, a plot to assassinate the leader of North Korea. North Korea says the U.S. is planning just that, and they claimed to have the evidence. We are live with a former CIA agent.

Plus, damage control, another major airline apologizing after officials threaten to arrest a mom and a dad and take away their child, all over a seat? The incident caught on camera. That's coming up.

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[11:22:32]

CABRERA: North Korea is accusing the U.S. of a failed assassination attempt on Leader Kim Jong-Un involving a biochemical substance. This allegation was reported by North Korea's state-run news agency, and it really reads like a spy novel.

It claims a hideous terrorist group conspired with the CIA in South Korea to mount an attack, but it offers no evidence, and we should note, CNN was not able to independently corroborate their report.

Let's discuss with CNN intelligence and security analyst, Bob Baer. Bob, is this at all possible, this idea that the U.S. would be plotting to overthrow North Korean's leader? Is there a kernel of truth that this could be possible?

ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: No, Ana. It's completely incredible. I mean, first of all, there's no authority. The CIA would need what's called a lethal finding, which has to be approved by Congress and the president. Something like that would leak out immediately.

And secondly, it doesn't have the capability to operate in North Korea. It's a police state, complete lockdown. There are no CIA agents running around. The CIA is not running, you know, missionaries or whatever this fantasy is.

But what disturbs me, Ana, is that he may believe it, Kim Jong-un. And you know, I think from everything we've seen, he's a paranoid man, and will he react? I don't know.

CABRERA: Now, South Korea has previously admitted, though, to having plans to kill Kim. Do you think this is different?

BAER: Well, South Korea, that's different. I mean, they have cross- border operations. But again, going back to the CIA, American sponsorship, with delicate relations like they are now, the last thing the CIA or this White House or anybody in Washington would want to do is provoke Kim Jong-Un with an assassination attempt, which would probably fail 99.9 percent. So, no, just -- it's crazy. But I mean, where is he getting this stuff, and you know, it's worrisome because we're not through the North Korean crisis.

CABRERA: Exactly. And so, the timing to me is interesting, because it's not unusual for North Korea to make unfounded and irrational claims. This is all part of North Korea's propaganda machine. So, where this report is coming from very well could be from the leadership, as far as I understand it. So, what is your take from their angle, the timing of this? Are they trying to drum up further confrontation or conflict?

[11:25:04]BAER: Well, what scares me, Ana, is they live in a bubble, and they don't have particularly good intelligence service, and they are paranoid. Remember, Kim Jong-un killed his half-brother with a biochemical weapon.

Is he capable of striking out at the west with the same sort of weapon, whether it's VX, or -- this stuff is horrendous, but he's capable of doing it? Let's just hope that this is pure propaganda to drum up support and that he truly doesn't believe it. But I can't assure you of that.

CABRERA: All right, Bob Baer reporting. Thanks for joining us.

Coming up, Delta Airlines is now apologizing after this video caught fire. They kicked off a family from a flight, even threatened to arrest the parents, take away their young children. We'll explain why. The video for you straight ahead.

Plus, the new fallout from Fenway after another racist incident. A Red Sox fan speaking out to CNN.

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