MTP Daily, Transcript 6/27/2017
Show: MTP DAILY
Date: June 27, 2017
Guest: Danielle Pletka, Brian Schatz, Stephanie Cutter, Carol Lee
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You and I can remember them.
I had my tense moments with the Clinton White House. I spent 13 months
covering the Starr investigation, the impeachment, the trial. These were
not fun moments. I, obviously, had tense moments with the Obama White
There`s a different quality to this. This is – this is – this is much
angrier and it`s much more personal.
NICOLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: OK, thank to you my panel, Donnie, Harold,
Peter in Washington, Eli, Matt and Heidi.
That`s a final plug for Peter`s new book. We`re going to put it up on the
screen. Go buy it. Go read it. Everything he writes is perfect. And
it`s always accurate.
That does it for this hour. I`m Nicole Wallace. “MTP DAILY” starts right
now. I`m sorry, Chuck. Twenty-four seconds. I give (INAUDIBLE.)
TODD: No. But I`m pretty – I`m sure Peter`s wondering, boy, Bush
communications director, Nicole Wallace, never would have uttered that
comment about Peter Baker.
WALLACE: We had favorites bites. We had favorites bites.
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: I love it. Thank you, Nicole.
Well, if it`s Tuesday, the vote on the Republican health care bill in the
Senate is put on hold.
(voice-over): Tonight, hitting the pause button on the Senate health care
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Consequently,
we will not be on the bill this week.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: The votes aren`t there. Can Mitch McConnell use the time to find
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: This is a big, complicated subject.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Plus, cutting to the chase on Medicaid. Democrats say Republicans
are reducing spending. Republicans say they`re increasing it. Who`s
And what is the motivation for the president to finally acknowledge the
Russian interference in the 2016 election?
This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.
(on camera): Good evening, I`m Chuck Todd here in Washington and welcome
to MTP DAILY.
And welcome to a day of uncertainty and stalemate in Washington. Yes, I
know the day ends in Y. So, that`s every day.
But this is bigger than most. After a failed attempt to secure the votes,
the Senate will not vote this week on health care reform, instead waiting
until after the July 4th recess.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: We`re going to continue the discussions within our conference
on the differences that we have, that we`re continuing to try to litigate.
Consequently, we will not be on the bill this week, but we`re still working
toward getting at least 50 people in a comfortable place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: And the White House is not sitting on the sideline anymore.
President Trump is actually hosting a meeting with all GOP senators at the
White House right now. We`ll start to hear what he has to say, we think,
in a few.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re going to talk and
we`re going to see what we can do. We`re getting very close.
But, for the country, we have to have health care. And it can`t be
Obamacare which is melting down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: But this bill remains deeply unpopular and every day of delay may
make it that much harder to pass.
Folks, by now, we know the defectors. You have conservatives like Mike
Lee, Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson, of course Rand Paul. And then, you have
others that are still holding out support. And then, there are the
moderates who are not happy about this bill either, Susan Collins, Shelley
Moore Capito, Rob Portman.
And it`s seemingly impossible for McConnell to please both sides of his
party`s ideological spectrum on this issue. So, guess what? This isn`t
really a policy debate anymore.
All that said, call it a zombie bill because it`s not dead yet. If it`s
going to pass it`ll be because of politics and promises this party made to
its base for years.
In fact, when you listen to the senators who say they`re definitely a yes
vote, not even they are singing the bill`s praises. And Republican
leadership today did not trump at the bill. They went back to their
default position of blaming Obamacare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Obamacare is collapsing
all over this country. And President Trump and Republicans in Congress are
absolutely determined to repeal and replace Obamacare.
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN CONFERENCE: The
schedule may have changed a little bit. But one thing that hasn`t changed,
and that is Obamacare, is collapsing.
SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R), WYOMING, CHAIRMAN, SENATE GOP POLICY COMMITTEE:
So, Obamacare is a bust. It`s going off a cliff. The Democrats are
saying, stay on board. We`re trying to rescue the American people from
this bus that they`re on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Folks, is there anyone who can be called an enthusiastic supporter
of this bill on its merits? Even “The Wall Street Journal” editorial page
today argued for the bill`s passage, while pointing out its flaws.
And do you know what that reminds us of? Democrats in 2010 and in more
recent years. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This bill is not
perfect and we have a lot of difficult work ahead of us. This legislation
will not fix everything that ails our health care system but it moves us
decisively in the right direction.
NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: I don`t love a
single payor but we`re not – I wanted a public option.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Republicans have been campaigning against Obamacare since before it
was even signed into law. And Democrats weren`t ever eager to defend it
once they did put it into law. And that put them in a precarious position
which eventually cost them control of the House, the Senate, and, some
might argue since the issues was still out there in 2016, the White House
So, ultimately, will anyone have the courage, now that we realize that a
partisan way isn`t going to do it, is President Trump, is Mitch McConnell,
is Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, are they all going to say, see cease-
fire on the health care wars. The only way this ends is with a bipartisan
[17:05:05] What would it take to get there? Joining me now is Democratic
Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland who spoke out against the health care bill
in the Senate floor in the last hour.
So, Senator Cardin, let me start with that last question. We`ve had seven
years of the health care wars and it seems as if we`re on our way to having
at least another two or four. Instead of the Democrats on defense, it`s
going to be the Republicans on the defensive.
But, ultimately, we`re going to be back into the same place we are today
which is an unstable health care system. What`s it going to take for
everybody to say, we`re willing not to politicize this issue for long
enough to figure out if we can be in the same room together?
SEN. BEN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND: Well, Chuck, we`ve got to do that.
Democrats and Republicans need to work together. One thing I will not
support and Democrats won`t support is a program that cuts back on Medicaid
in order to have tax cuts for wealthy people.
But what we do need is to deal with the cost of the individual market and
the premiums. One way to do that is to make sure that the cost sharing is
a predictable payment to the insurance companies to cover the low-cost
deductibles and co-pays.
Another thing we could do is improve the subsidies for lower-income
families. Democrats and Republicans could do that together. Democrats and
Republicans could take on the high cost of prescription drugs.
We know that we don`t negotiate as well as we should, the payers of
prescription drug costs. We could follow a Canadian model which we know is
a lot less expensive for their consumers.
CARDIN: We could organize our health care system in a way that we look at
the patient on value reimbursement rather than just volume. So, there are
things that Democrats and Republicans should do together and I hope we
TODD: Do you accept the idea that repeal and replace of Obamacare is a
mandate for the Republican majorities?
CARDIN: I think it`s a mistake. The 22 million people –
TODD: No, but I mean the voters – but I`m talking about – I understand
your personal opinion. But given that they`ve campaigned on this and given
that they`ve won on this issue, arguably as much as any other, don`t they
have a mandate to drastically retool this program?
CARDIN: I don`t think so. What they have a mandate to is to the American
people. And you don`t go forward with a bill that`s going to jeopardize
coverage for 22 million people who currently have coverage. You don`t go
back on the reforms that we`ve been able to deal with abuses within the
And I think their base, the Republican base, doesn`t want them to do that.
They may know a slogan, repeal Obamacare.
CARDIN: When you explain the Affordable Care Act, they sort of like it.
TODD: I guess what I`m trying to get at here is, look, I know what it may
take for you to get to the table. Number one, Mitch McConnell`s got to
pull the reconciliation idea. I get that.
But what are you going to give the Republicans to say, OK, if there is an
agreement here – I`m trying to think of this almost like Middle East
peace. First, negotiate the cease-fire on health care. And then, agree –
OK, the Democrats agree, yes, Obamacare needs major reforms and here`s what
we`re willing to talk about.
What are you, on your end, willing to talk about?
CARDIN: Well, Chuck, I think what the Republicans are trying to do is
bring down their overall cost of health care in this country, the growth
rate. Yes, let`s sit down and do that. There`s better ways to organize
the delivery of care. Republicans have some good ideas in that regard.
Democrats have good ideas.
We`ve come together on mental health and addiction to organize that in a
more constructive, cost-effective way. Let`s come together and do that.
The way we pay for prescription drugs, there`s a lot of Republicans who
agree that we could do that in a much more cost-effective way. There are
places that Democrats and Republicans can come together.
But don`t ask me to support –
TODD: No, I –
CARDIN: – the contraction of the Medicaid program. I can`t do that.
TODD: Let me ask you this. Is there a – can you – if you and, say,
Senator Portman think you`ve got the idea on prescription drugs, do you
feel as if your leaders would let you put together a bipartisan bill right
now because it`s such a hot political potato?
CARDIN: I`m glad you chose Senator Portman because the two of us came
together on pension reforms when we were both in the House and both of our
leaderships told us not to do it and we got it done.
Yes, I think that if Democrats and Republicans come together, we can form
enough of alliance, yes, I think our leadership –
TODD: Why hasn`t that happened? I hear all the time from senators not in
leadership who complain to me about the leadership. And just say, oh, we
can`t do – we can`t do it. It seems to me, if enough of you just did it,
leadership would listen.
CARDIN: Well, Chuck, that`s fair enough. But understand that what was
used here on the Affordable Care Act, we didn`t have an opportunity in
committee. We didn`t have public hearings.
CARDIN: There was really no onramp for us to get engaged in the
discussion. This bill came out of the leader`s office a week ago with no
work done at all by members.
TODD: No, I get that. And I get that the – I understand that, for many
Democrats, you won`t even listen until they take reconciliation off the
table. Is that fair?
[17:10:03] CARDIN: We want to be – we want to have equal rights in the
discussion and we don`t want to be told how we`re going to consider our
bill. And reconciliation makes that virtually impossible.
TODD: And if President Trump says – he, right now, has all the
Republicans down there. If he issued an invitation to all the Senate
Democrats, would you guys go?
CARDIN: I know I would. He had an invitation once before. I was there.
Absolutely. He`s the president of the United States. I might disagree
with a lot of his policies but we want to come together as a nation.
Health care is a complicated issue. We agree with that.
I`m not apologetic about the Affordable Care Act. I think it`s
accomplished amazing results. I`m a strong supporter of the Affordable
Care Act. Millions of people have quality, affordable coverage today
because of it.
Can we do better? Yes, we can. Just come together, Democrats and
Republicans, and it`ll be a better bill.
TODD: No, it just seems like we`re banging our head against the wall. We
know this one – we know the outcome here and we know what may happen.
CARDIN: Thank you, Chuck.
TODD: All right, Senator Ben Cardin, Democrat from Maryland, thank you
So, is it more likely this bill will pass after members go home for the
July 4th recess, after they hear from town halls? And while they`re home,
Republicans will have to answer for what`s in the bill and preview what`s
to come on the trail in 2018 perhaps.
I`m going to bring in two Republican strategists who`ve experienced both on
the Hill and on the trail, Glen Bolger, Republican pollster with Republican
Continued Strategies. By the way, the firm is one of our partners on the
NBC News-“Wall Street Journal” poll. And Michael Steel was spokesman for
former House speaker, John Boehner. Gentlemen, welcome to both of you.
I know I`m being Pollyannaish here about figuring out how to bring both
parties together. It does seem as if – but let me ask you that. I mean,
do Republicans have to learn that awful lesson that Democrats learned in
that a partisan bill never stays – is not going to have long roots?
MICHAEL STEEL, FORMER SPOKESPERSON, HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: I think
after eight years of promising to repeal and replace Obamacare, Republicans
owe it to their voters to try every means possible to get that done. And
that`s what they`re doing right now. Senator McConnell today bought
himself a little more runway to try and get this thing off the ground.
TODD: What`s the – so, let me go to what you have to do, Glen, which is
some of these people hire you to say, OK, I got to support this bill. I`m
not crazy about it.
How do you – how do you be an – I mean, I pointed out I think the
Democrats set themselves up in 2010 because none of them want to defend it.
And it made it even easier to attack the bill because you knew they weren`t
going to play offense. It sounds like Republicans are setting themselves
up for the same thing.
GLEN BOLGER, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: Well, the challenge is, with health
care, neither party can deliver what the voters want. Because what the
voters want is they high-quality health care that`s easy to access and
doesn`t cost them hardly anything. And that`s just not going to happen
So, you know, what Republicans do have to do, politically, is do something
that, you know repeals the worst elements of Obamacare, because that`s one
of the things that we`ve been talking about for the last seven years.
And if we don`t do that, our base is depressed. And if the base is
depressed and angry, they might not turn out in 2018 and that`s a huge
TODD: But what about policy failure?
STEEL: Well, I think the policy failure right now is Obamacare. In my
home state of North Carolina, there is one state-wide insurer in the
individual market. Last year, they raised cost by 34 percent. This year,
it`s 27 percent.
TODD: An Obamacare supporter would say, that`s because, number one, Marco
Rubio`s bill got rid of the risk corridors. And, number two – I mean, you
know the arguments on that.
STEEL: Of course there`s arguments. But as of an objective matter right
now, Obamacare is failing for the people who need it.
TODD: So, the question is, what should the Republican administration do?
Do they try to prop it up while Congress sits here and negotiates a
replacement? Or do they let it fail while they can`t negotiate a – I
mean, this is the part of it I can`t figure out.
STEEL: Failure is not an option, in the sense that –
TODD: Well, then, why not help keep it working?
STEEL: What we`re doing right now is working on a Senate bill that will be
conservative health care reform, lower taxes, fewer mandates, more
flexibility for the states, that will lower the cost over the long term.
And that`s really the fundamental problem here. Universal coverage is not
a popular goal in the United States. It`s the Democratic Party`s goal.
It`s the liberal goal. It`s Nancy Pelosi`s goal. But lower cost is the
overwhelming goal of two-thirds of the American people.
TODD: But, Glen, I guess I go with this which is, is it going to lower
cost? And that`s the thing. We don`t – it may lower the premium but then
your out-of-pocket costs goes up.
So, this, to me, it seems like this is not solving the problem that they
BOLGER: Well, the huge concern with Obamacare is higher deductibles,
higher premiums and higher taxes on small businesses or – well, actually,
all businesses. It`s hard to, kind of, work around those things when
you`re trying to change this.
Again, Republicans are going to pass something, at least we better.
TODD: I was just going to say, what`s – it`s – put it in this term.
BOLGER: But there`s going to be political pain.
TODD: The bill is unpopular. Is it better to pass an unpopular bill that
keeps a promise or is it better to tank a bill that you think would be
unpopular down the road? If you`re – you know, whether you`re selling
more capital, Rob Portman or Rand Paul. I mean, I think they all have
[17:15:00] BOLGER: I think that if we don`t pass the bill, there`s going
to be hell to pay with the Republican base.
TODD: So, this is not a – so, we are correct. It`s not a policy argument
STEEL: I would argue that there is a great policy argument to be made for
this bill. At the same time, it is a political necessity after eight years
of promising to repeal and replace Obamacare.
BOLGER: Well said.
TODD: Well, let me go to something, the criticism that was in this
morning`s “Wall Street Journal.” It doesn`t seem as though Republicans are
enthusiastic in selling this bill. I mean, you saw the examples we played.
They don`t sell this bill.
STEEL: Well, this is because Glen`s exactly right. Everyone wants access
to high-quality, affordable care –
TODD: And this isn`t going to deliver that.
STEEL: – without paying for it. And that`s – everybody wants to die –
everybody wants to go to heaven, nobody wants to die. And so, this is
going to be tough to sell.
At the same time, there is a great argument to be made for it on the
merits. And I think one of the things that this longer period of time,
this longer runway is going to give the opportunity for is for members to
get smart on the issue, get smart on how to talk about it.
TODD: How much of a challenge is President Trump`s frankly overpromising
on the campaign trail when it came to health care? Because this seems to
be – has handcuffed the policy here.
BOLGER: Yes, it`s certainly a challenge because when you say you`re going
to overdeliver because you overpromised and you can`t, that just makes it
very challenging. There`s only so many things can you get done in this
TODD: What if Trump comes out and says, guys, I`ve learned. You know
what? I`m not a big fan of Obamacare, but it seems to me we have to repair
this thing. Repealing can`t be done. If he comes out there and tells the
base that, does that save the base`s skin?
STEEL: I don`t – I don`t think so. And I think that every House
Republican is going to be up for re-election before Donald Trump is up for
re-election. Most every House Republican fears a primary opponent more
than they fear a general election opponent. And so, a cover from the
president isn`t going to get it done in this case. You`re going to have to
keep your word.
TODD: What role does he play here?
BOLGER: Well, what he`s got to say is, look, we need massive changes.
It`s not 100 percent repealed but it`s major changes. It`s not, oh, we got
to tinker at the edges. Obamacare turns out it`s OK. It`s better than
anything we`ve got. He can`t say that.
STEEL: No, he`s got to be able to say, we`re cutting taxes. We`re
reducing mandates. It`s going to help create jobs.
BOLGER: More flexibility.
STEEL: More flexibility for the states. It`s a good, conservative health
care reform bill.
TODD: Does this bill become more of a political problem than actually for
Donald Trump in 2020 because he`s the one that made the promises, than it
is for the Republican members in 2018. Because they actually didn`t make
the same promise.
STEEL: I think it actually depends largely on what`s done after the health
care bill. Remember, the health care bill is, kind of, a log jam that`s
keeping us from making more progress on things like tax reform,
infrastructure, et cetera.
And so, if you can get health care done and move onto those popular job-
creating programs, I think he`ll have a solid platform to run on.
TODD: All right, what say you who has to deal with the ads in 2018.
BOLGER: Yes, I mean, health care is going to be a major issue in 2018 and
2020, no matter what happens. If nothing happens, it`s still going to be a
major issue. If massive changes, if minor changes, it`s going to one of
the defining issues of the campaign both in 2018 and 2020?
TODD: So, you`re not ready to say it`s worse – it`s harder for Trump than
it is Senate incumbent X?
BOLGER: No. Or House incumbent.
TODD: Glen Bolger, Michael Steel. Ah, Washington never ceases to amaze,
doesn`t it? Thank you very much.
So, what happens to the health care bill now? Did President Trump really
just accuse President Obama of colluding with the Russians? Yes,
everything is up – everything up is down.
These stories and more, coming up right after this.
TODD: A bruising health care battle, possible Syrian mission creep,
plummeting worldwide credibility, but President Trump is still focused on
the Russia probe.
On Monday, he, again, lashed out on Twitter writing, the reason that
President Obama did nothing about Russia after being notified by the CIA of
meddling is that he expected Clinton would win and did not want to, quote,
“rock the boat.” He didn`t choke. He colluded or obstructed. And it did
the Dems and crooked Hillary no good.
OK. Well, among the real story is that President Obama did nothing after
being informed in August about Russia meddling. With four months looking
at Russia under a magnifying glass, they have “zero tapes,” in quotes, of
the people colluding. There is no collusion and no obstruction. I should
be given an apology!
Reporters asked Press Secretary Sean Spicer about the assertion that
President Obama colluded or obstruction. Here`s his answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How can you accuse President Obama of obstructing
when he was egging Russia on?
SEAN SPICER, U.S. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He was joking at the time.
We all know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Well, here`s how candidate Trump reacted when he was questioned
about publicly calling on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton`s e-mails.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATY TUR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: You said, I welcome them to
find those 30,000 e-mails.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, they probably have
them. I`d like to have them released.
TUR: But does that not give you pause?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, it gives me no pause.
If they have them, they have them. We might as well find – hey, you know
what gives me more pause? That a person in our government, crooked Hillary
Clinton – here`s what gives me – be quiet, I know you want to, you know,
save her. That a person in our government, Katy, would delete or get rid
of 33,000 e-mails. That gives me a big problem. After she gets a
subpoena. She gets subpoenaed and she gets rid of 33,000 e-mails? That
gives me a problem.
Now, if Russia or China or any other country has those e-mails, I need to
be honest with you, I`d love to see them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: That was the joking that Sean Spicer was referring to.
We`ll have more MTP DAILY after the break.
TODD: Welcome back.
Tonight`s panel joins me now. “The Wall Street Journal`s” Carol Lee, the
American Enterprise Institute`s Danielle Pletka, and former Obama deputy
campaign manager and White House veteran, Stephanie Cutter. Welcome all.
Carol, there`s nobody that understands vote counting better than Mitch
McConnell. And he will stay on course. But when he changes course, it`s
for a dramatic reason. And for him to pull up stakes already said a lot
about the unpopularity.
CAROL LEE, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, “THE WALL STREET JOURNAL”: It tells
you everything you want to know. And even if you go back – and Mitch
McConnell has always been the one that people can rely on. He knows where
his votes are. He knows how to get things done.
And for him to pull back on this, it just underscores how difficult this
is. And that they are very far from it, despite President Trump saying
that they are very close to getting something.
TODD: Oh, this ceased – we were just joking about how we are going to
discuss policy here or politics. This ceased about politics a long time
ago, Danny (ph).
DANIELLE PLETKA, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT FOR FOREIGN AND DEFENSE POLICY
STUDIES, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Oh, it`s not at all a debate about
the details or about the merits of the health care bill or even about the
merits of Obamacare any more
The question for Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump is, where does this leave
them on the rest of their agenda if they want to start with this giant
problem that may well lead to failure? Where are they going to be on tax
reform? What are they going to deliver to the voters that Donald Trump
TODD: And, Stephanie, you were – what happens when you do health care as
an impediment to the rest of your agenda, when there was a point in the
Obama White House where it was, like, oh, we can`t get to X, Y or Z because
of health care.
And then, when it was over, it was, like, this sense of, really, oh, thank
God we don`t have to talk about health care anymore. And Democrats didn`t
STEPHANIE CUTTER, FORMER DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION:
TODD: And we saw what happens there. I almost can see Republicans playing
– basically having the same play.
CUTTER: Well, and remember, we passed health care after a very public
process and, you know, well over a year of debate.
[17:25:08] So, when the – when the bill passed, people were very tired and
it was very – it was very difficult. I was there at the White House
trying to get people out there to defend it and it was very difficult to
get members of Congress to want to go out there and defend it.
It was very unpopular, at the time, because people didn`t understand it.
It wasn`t yet implemented so people weren`t seeing the benefits. And we
were very close to a re-election – or to a mid-term campaign.
CUTTER: So, it was very difficult and we suffered because of it.
So, we didn`t have any of the benefactors out there touting what this bill
could do. And it was very difficult to do that, until that bill started to
take hold and people saw an increase in their benefits, a subsidy reducing
their cost, more access to health care.
And now, we`re at the brink of another health – well, we`re in the middle
of another health care debate where a lot of those things are going to be
taken away. So, I don`t – regardless of what happens in the Senate, I
don`t see anybody in the House or Senate going out there and touting.
TODD: Well, and this gets to – “The Wall Street Journal” editorial board,
it was also getting at this morning, Carol. And I know the editorial board
and you guys are separate, but it was interesting to me, almost lamenting.
How about owning the conservative alternative and conservative alternative
vision of health care?
And there was almost a lamenting that nobody is stepping up to proactively
make the case for why you need to do it this way.
LEE: Well, and I think one of the more remarkable things is that the
Republicans have had eight years of trying to figure out what they did and
promising this for a very long seven years. That`s a very long time.
And to not have a plan, to not have thought this through to where they can
get something through, to have a vision, to be able to explain their vision
at this stage when they finally get control. That`s going to be
I think what Stephanie was talking about, either way, even if they get this
done and they were able to pass the bill and the president can sign the
bill and make good on one of his promises, there is still going to be
political blowback because it`s not going to satisfy everybody. It`s not
going to be implemented. And no one`s really going to understand what it
is by the time the mid-terms roll down.
TODD: Now, everything she said, I could picture some Republican saying the
same thing to me in two years. Well, you know, we didn`t fully implement
it and dadadadada. You know?
PLETKA: Sure. I mean, but, you know, again, we`re not talking about the
facts of the bill. Part of the problem is that the Republicans don`t want
to stand up because people don`t understand what the facts are. They know
what the political debates are that they have been hearing. They hear this
is going to be taken away from me.
What if there are actually 15 million people who actually don`t want to
sign up for insurance and have been counted because they were forced to
under Obamacare? Is that part of the number that CBO gave us? And we`re
not – we`re not talking about –
TODD: (INAUDIBLE) see this. You know, say what you want about the
insurance companies. OK, are they not – are they not covering here
because of X or because of Y? They – there`s been no hearing.
PLETKA: No, there are no substantive debates. Like this is the problem
with everything we talk about. We talk about the conversation that happens
around the real issues but we don`t talk about the issues behind them. And
that`s – it`s become reality T.V. politics.
TODD: Nobody is willing to have – and the thing is, when you start having
an honest conversation about health care, about, hey, you know what, end of
life issues, we`re spending all this money on end of life issues.
Do we need to have that conversation? We`ve got panels. And then, all of
a sudden, everybody runs away. I mean, that`s the problem. You`re – you
talk about the substance, it becomes more politically toxic.
CUTTER: Well, you know, I worked for a long time for Ted Kennedy. And he
used to say, there`s a reason why health care reform hasn`t passed, because
it is one of the most difficult issues to deal with. You`re dealing with
life and death issues. So, it`s easily politicized. A very difficult
problem to actually solve.
You know, I realized I worked for President Obama and I was for the
Affordable Care Act. But I do think there has been some significant
progress in solving some of the problems of the health care system. Does
it do everything? Absolutely not.
There are some identifiable problems that can be fixed and improved upon.
But because we entered this debate in a repeal stance instead of a repair
stance, which some Republicans did put out there but got yanked back very
quickly. It`s been – this has been a political conversation,
LEE: Well, and you see that – I mean, the president is having senators
over. They`re all Republican senators. I think you also have a president
who`s running this process who doesn`t have a clear vision for what he
The most clearest – the clearest thing we`ve gotten from him is that he
wants a bill with heart. No one really knows exactly what that means.
And one of the other politically, you know, the president saying that he
House bill was mean is really something that I think had a much bigger
effect than is even – we even know yet because it doesn`t make people want
to side with him and then he goes and he undermines that.
TODD: Well, can you – I was just going to say, he`s got to make a
political sell here, Danny, at the end of the day. And If you`re a
Republican senator, do you think, is this guy going to throw this bill
under the bus –
TODD: – if it just becomes too unpopular?
PLETKA: No, I don`t think – I don`t think anybody knows, Republican or
Democrat, what the president is going to say next. I don`t criticize him
for bringing the Republicans in because before you have consensus with the
Democrats, you`ve got to have consensus with the Republicans.
So, that`s the right thing to do but I think every one of them has
trepidation about what it is that he`s going to say about this tomorrow.
TODD: All right, I`ll pause it here. We can keep it going (inaudible)
health care. There`s always something more to talk about. Thank you very
much. Still ahead, Democrats are in the minority in the senate, in the
house, and most state legislature. But one senator says Democrats are
getting their message out to supporters through social media. We`ll ask
Senator Brian Schatz how he hopes to turn his online interaction into more
support at the polls.
TODD: Up next, social media. How some Democratic senators are using it more
strategically these days. But first, Hampton Pearson with the “CNBC Market
HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Chuck. We
had stocks closing lower after the senate delayed the key health care vote
casting doubt on President Trump`s pro-growth agenda. The Dow falling by 98
points, the S&P down 19, the Nasdaq dropping 100 points.
A tech sell-off for stocks lower. Google parent, Alphabet, fell more than 2
percent. The EU
fined Google a record $2.7 billion for violating anti-trust rules. Banks
spared well in choppy trade. JPMorgan chase rose 9 percent. That`s it from
CNBC, first in business worldwide.
TODD: Little developing situation here. Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn
just got out of the White House meeting with the president. Here it is.
MITCH MCCONNELL, SENIOR U.S. SENATOR FROM KENTUCKY: The president got an
opportunity to hear from the various members who have concerns about market
reforms and the Medicaid, the future of Medicaid and Medicaid expansion. So
I think the meeting was very helpful. The one thing I would say is that I
think everybody around the table is interested in getting a yes, interested
in getting an outcome, because we know the status quo is simply
unacceptable, unsustainable, and no action is just not an option.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator McConnell, critics say the longer this takes,
the harder it`s going to be to pass some kind of a health care bill.
MCCONNELL: I don`t think so. Well, certainly we spent a lot of time on this
over the last seven years. And our members are increasingly familiar with
the various moving parts. It`s a very complicated subject. I had hoped, as
you know, that we could have gotten to the floor this week, but we`re not
quite there. But I think we got a really good chance of getting there. It
will just take us a little bit longer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you hold town halls over recess, your fellow
MCCONNELL: Some members have town halls, some don`t. We`ll see what
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, is the president getting involved in the
details of negotiating? Is he getting into the details of the bill that
might bring some of those wavering senators on board? And what is his
MCCONNELL: I think the main thing is, as I`ve said, the status quo is
simply unsustainable. It will be dealt with in one of two ways. Either
Republicans will agree and change the status quo or the markets will
continue to collapse and we`ll have to sit down with Senator Schumer.
My suspicion is that any negotiation with the Democrats would include none
of the reforms that we would like to make both on the market side and the
Medicaid side. So for all of those reasons, we need to come up with a
solution. The American people elected us to do that, and we`re working hard
to get there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Joining me now is another U.S. senator, happens to be from the
Democratic side of the aisle, so he`s not at the White House, he`s the
senator from Hawaii, Brian Schatz. Senator Schatz, welcome to “Meet the
BRIAN SCHATZ, SENIOR U.S. SENATOR FROM HAWAII: Thanks for having me, Chuck.
TODD: I want you to respond – give you a chance to just respond to what
you heard from the senate majority leader there when he said, this ends
with one of two ways. Either Republicans figure out how to come out with
solution on their own or I guess we negotiate with the Democrats and the
Democrats won`t accept, you know, draw these lines in the sand. Is he
portraying the democratic position fairly?
SCHATZ: No, he`s not. I find it really striking, the argument that he`s
making. He was making this internally within the caucus this morning and I
found it actually shocking. Now he`s saying it out loud to the media that
if they don`t get it done on their own, shock, horror, terrible news, we
will have to do this on a bipartisan basis.
And my view is that`s the way the senate is supposed to work, that`s the
way the country is supposed to work. We ought to have hearings. You know,
you`ve got two chairmen who are capable of doing bipartisan legislation,
Orrin Hatch and Lamar Alexander. And they like doing bipartisan bill.
Nobody doubts their conservative credentials. But we`ve got to let them
have hearings and do their process.
TODD: So what is – look, what is the price – I know there`s a politics
infused into this whole debate. What do you want Republicans to give up to
go – you know, look at this like a peace deal. We`re trying to negotiate a
ceasefire. What would it take to get Democrats to the table? What does
Mitch McConnell have to do to get you to the table?
SCHATZ: They got to take this massive Medicaid cuts off the table. That`s
not reform. That actually got nothing to do with the problems of the
Affordable Care Act. That is the popular aspect of the Affordable Care Act
in blue and red and purple states in rural places and in urban parts of the
country. So, these $800 billion worth of tax cuts in exchange for $800
billion worth of Medicaid cuts, that`s not a health care bill, that`s not a
We know we have problems with the individual marketplace. We are open to
conversations about how to stabilize the marketplace and make reform that
makes sense. But, a big Medicaid cut in exchange for a big tax cut for
people who are already doing well is really not a health care bill.
TODD: Okay, but here is the argument that the conservatives would make on
Medicaid. I say conservatives (inaudible) Republican argument, but the true
sort of the Rand Paul and others said, look, you do this now, it`s an
entitlement that never goes away, and then all of a sudden you think the
federal budget is impossible to get into balance now because of social
security Medicare, now you add Medicaid to that, and that`s going to be 75
percent of the federal budget. Fair?
SCHATZ: Well, look, I think that we need to look at the expense and the
revenue side and we need to look at defense and non-defense. But right now
we`re not having a an adult conversation at all on budget and
SCHATZ: So fair enough, if there are conservatives and I heard you earlier
say, there are very Republicans who will just stand there and say, listen,
we have to cut Medicaid spending even though these are sympathetic causes,
even though it`s nursing home care, even though it`s opioid treatment, even
though it`s health for children with disabilities.
What they are actually saying over the last week is it`s not a Medicaid
cut, but it sure is. And so if you`re going to have these true
conservatives go out there and make their argument, let them do it as
conservatives, but they are frankly not telling the truth about what this
TODD: All right. Let me ask you about one of the (inaudible) here. I
thought it is sort of like you and Ben Sasse. In interesting ways, you come
at it differently, but you`ve developed a personality in social media that
to me comes across as age appropriate. You are comfortable in it. Both of
you are younger senators.
I don`t know if you`ve spent any time with each other so I am not going to
presume that. But it seems you`re both comfortable being a little snarky.
You`re both comfortable sort of being I don`t want to say un-senatorial in
a negative, but what people in the 1970s would have said is senatorial. Why
is that important?
SCHATZ: Well, it`s interesting you said it. Ben and I do have a friendship
and we are even doing some bills together even though he is quite
conservative and I`m quite progressive. But you`re right, you know, I –
over the last six months or so, I`ve done my own tweeting. And I think it
is because people really want to hear from us. If there is any lesson from
the 2016 race, Bernie and President Trump have very little in common, but I
think people`s response to them was a common response, which was they
didn`t feel like they are being sold soap (ph).
They didn`t feel like they were being given a prepackaged product or
prepackaged slogan. And so I`m trying to be responsive to that. If that
means that occasionally I`m not so officious and maybe sometimes informal,
I tried not to go overboard with it, but I do think that people want to
know that there is a living breathing human being there serving in the
senate rather than a packaged product.
TODD: So I`m curious where you are on this debate inside Democratic Party.
And I say this because of your own personal experience. You go up against
what was well-established democratic machine, for essentially the entire
age of the state and the machine that former Senator Daniel, anyway, the
late senator, sort of was supportive of his causes.
And you sort of broke through that and you survived. People don`t think you
are going to do that. Do you have to be sort of less polished in order to
bust a machine? Is that what the Democrats need to be, less polished?
SCHATZ: Well, I don`t know about that, but I will tell you the part of what
I think is important is for members of senate, pundits, pollsters,
strategists to say that they don`t know. There is a tendency in this town
especially for people to want to settle on a strategy, to want to settle on
standard bear, want to settle on a policy position as the new set of
solutions. One of the things I think we have to respond to is that this
resistance across the country.
SCHATZ: These people who are motivated and energizes want to have a say in
the future of the Democratic Party. So I don`t think it should be
preordained. I don`t think it should be chaotic forever. But I think this
is a beautiful kind of chaos because grassroots individuals feel correctly
that they can make a difference and I don`t want to tell them what to
TODD: So, what did you take away from Georgia?
SCHATZ: Listen. I think Ossoff was a compelling candidate and inspired a
lot of people, but recruitment very much matters. I can say this maybe with
a little more credibility than others. Listen. I ran for the United States
congress when I was 34 years old. And I had done a few things that I was
proud of. But I think people made the judgment that I just wasn`t ready to
TODD: Were they right at the time?
SCHATZ: Well, listen, you know, you never want to say they were right when
they don`t vote for you, but they made a judgment that I wasn`t ready.
TODD: And now in hindsight considering you`re a U.S. senator, so things
have worked out okay.
SCHATZ: It all worked out and sometimes getting your butt kicked is the
best possible thing in politics. But I think – listen, Jon Ossoff is very
impressive, but he`s 30, and he doesn`t live in the district, and I think
that had we have someone that was maybe 10 or 15 years older and had more
roots in the neighborhood, that`s easily 3.8 percentage points.
TODD: All right. Brian Schatz, democratic senator from Hawaii, hope to hear
from you a lot more.
SCHATZ: Thanks very much.
TODD: Good to have you in the show. Appreciate you sharing your views. Up
next, when an increase is actually a cut or is it the other way around?
We`re actually going to dive into this Medicaid word jumble.
TODD: Welcome back. Tonight, I`m obsessed with this question. Are
Republicans cutting Medicaid spending? Democrats say yes, Republicans say
no. Someone is wrong or misinformed or worse. Who? Here is some Republican
case. Medicaid spending now is $393 billion. By 2026, Congressional Budget
Office, the CBO, says it will be $464 billion, a $71 billion increase. Got
that? A $71 billion increase, so no cut, end of debate.
Okay. Democrats point out that the increase is $772 billion less than what
Medicaid would have had under Obamacare. The blue line on the chart is
spending under Obamacare. The red line is the senate bill. Got that? A $772
billion decrease, so big cut, end of debate. So Democrats also point out
that more than 2 million recipients will no longer be eligible for Medicaid
and that the senate bill neither keeps up with inflation nor with the
rising cost of health care.
So who is right? Press secretary for President George W. Bush tweeted this.
“Your salary is $50,000. Your boss promises it will be $100,000 in 10
years. Instead, you get $75,000. Did you get a $25,000 raise or a $25,000
cut?” Okay. But what if your boss promised you will be making $100,000 in
10 years then reduce it to $59,000 slower than the rate of inflation and
oh, yes, you can`t use the money to pay the rent. Are you going home to
your spouse to say, honey, guess what, I just got a raise? I`ll let you
sort it out. We`ll be right back.
TODD: Time for “The Lid.” Let`s bring back our panel. I was going to change
subjects here, but I think we are going to stick with health care. Carol
Lee, Danielle Pletka, Stephanie Cutter. All right. I got to ask everybody
here. Mitch McConnell said we have two options. Either Republicans come
together with the bill or we are stuck going to Chuck Schumer. It was quite
the admission. I mean, he`s technically right.
PLETKA: Well, I mean, he`s in the enviable (ph) position of trying to herd
the cats of his caucus and he`s not enthusiastic about it. I think that`s
what you dangle out there. That`s the sort (inaudible), right? It`s me or
it`s Chuck. You guys choose.
STEPHANIE CUTTER, FOUNDING PARTNER AT PRECISION STRATEGIES, FORMER OBAMA
DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: If there was a third option that he dangled out
there, it`s just let the system fail. That is something that they are
contributing to. So the question is, what happens between now and when
Republicans do realize they have to pull Democrats in and get something
done? How many people are going to lose their insurance? How high premiums
are going to go up with the damages to the system?
CAROL LEE, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: The idea
that they will work with Democrats is just a lot of these senators were not
elected to compromise in this way. And so it`s hard to see how that`s going
to be the next option. It does feel a little bit more like pushing them.
TODD: However, Portman, Cassidy, Snow, excuse me, Collins, McCluskey (ph),
they`re desperate to do a bipartisan deal. You can just tell.
LEE: Is that going to be enough?
PLETKA: Who exactly are these guys bringing with them? If they were
standing up like us and saying here is the Democrat who`s going to partner
with me and who is going to vote for the bill that we`re going to work on,
great. But right now, they`re standing by themselves.
CUTTER: Well, I think that`s because some of that work hasn`t been done.
You know, I`ve been listening to – people talking about this all day. And
I think for whatever reason, and I`m sure we differ on what the reasons
are, there`s a lack of trust.
CUTTER: . on both sides about whether Republicans will, you know, there
will be a bait and switch. You know, we can start to reform Obamacare and
improve it but then they are going to pull the rug out and just repeal as
part of a senate maneuver. There`s a big distrust here.
TODD: This to me permeates every debate we have in Washington right now.
It`s the lead of the show we did on Sunday. It`s we have lost trust. The
two parties don`t trust each other. Schumer and McConnell don`t trust each
other. By the way, average Democrats and average Republicans don`t trust
each other anymore. That also added.
CUTTER: They don`t trust their president.
LEE: Nobody, and they don`t trust this particular White House that they are
TODD: The Republicans don`t trust their own president.
LEE: Right, and Democrats.
PLETKA: This is the root of the crisis we face, not just in health care
which is that fundamentally it is not just the trust between the
politicians, it`s that the average guys trust in government has diminished.
This is not just in America. This is in France, this is in UK, this is all
over the world. This is what leads to the election of people like the
elections that we have seen in our country and around Europe.
TODD: This trust issue, go back to Carol, I`m sorry, we interrupted.
LEE: No, everything is across, you saw Chuck Schumer, he throw out there,
let`s all meet, let`s all get together and talk about, you know, the health
room. And everyone was like, that`s a bunch of bait, we`re not going to
take that. Nobody wants to actually get in the same room because they don`t
trust each other and then they don`t trust this White House and this
president that he is going to follow through with what he say he is going
Yet you have a president who doesn`t care how this gets done. He doesn`t
care if it`s Democrats and Republicans or if it`s just Republicans. He just
wants to get a win. At this stage, it`s looking like that`s something he
might not get.
TODD: Well, at this point, I guess the question is, is it politically
feasible at all for Mitch McConnell to do nothing?
PLETKA: No, I don`t think Mitch McConnell can do nothing.
LEE: I don`t see how Republicans after saying they are going to do this and
they just need to get elected go and face voters again without doing this.
TODD: And I just don`t certainly know there`s no permanent solution is
going to work on a bipartisan basis.
CUTTER: No, it`s not.
TODD: I mean, I think we know that too.
CUTTER: Mitch McConnell here is damn if he does, damn if he doesn`t. He is
going to pay a price for this either way. And I say that not as a Democrat,
I say that as (inaudible) of somebody who has been in politics for a long
TODD: We need somebody to say enough is enough.
TODD: We know the only way this gets fixed is if everybody admits we can`t
do it on our own.
CUTTER: And I think there would be a political benefit for a group. You
know, I remember the, you know, averting the nuclear option.
TODD: Yeah, the gang of 14, and they did it the first time.
CUTTER: The gang of 14 and it was very unpopular at the time but they did
it. You know, we need a gang like that to come together.
TODD: You mean to say senate from the leadership?
PLETKA: Okay, so who are those leaders and why do we not see them standing
up together? They`ve had plenty of time.
TODD: That`s a fair point.
LEE: And on health care, it`s going to require the Republicans to give up
the idea of repeal or the Democrats to not hold on so tightly to Obamacare.
TODD: Okay. There`s no doubt. They will always say, we`ll wait to the next
election to decide it. Thank you. Depressing and fun as always, Carol,
TODD: After the break, how the world views President Trump right now?
TODD: In case you missed it, President Trump lambasted President Obama`s
foreign policy and America is standing in the world a lot on the campaign
(START VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our friends are beginning to
think they can`t depend on us. We had a president who dislikes our friends
and bows to our enemies, something that we have never seen before in the
history of our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: But right now, he may not be doing so much better so far. Check out
these new numbers from Pew Research`s surveys. At the end of his
presidency, 64 percent of those surveyed around the world expressed
confidence in President Obama handling international affairs. Just 22
percent feel the same way now about President Trump.
That disparity is also quite evident in most countries. This chart here
shows the net change in confidence that people had surveyed in various
countries had between presidents Obama and Trump. As you can see, there`s a
massive drop in confidence in some nations. Look at Sweden, Canada, some of
those not surprising.
Steep drop off in some countries between the two American leaders. Pew
surveyed 37 nations and all but two gave higher marks on foreign policy to
President Obama over President Trump. The two countries that showed more
fate in Trump over Obama are Israel and Russia. In Russia, President Trump
has a 42-point edge over his predecessor. Good old RT.
That`s all for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more “MTP Daily.” “For
the Record with Greta” starts right now. Greta, wow, health care keeps –
the news keeps breaking.
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