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tv   Charlie Rose  Bloomberg  June 20, 2017 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT

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♪ announcer: from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." david: good evening. charlie is traveling. i'm david leonhardt. we begin this evening with a look at politics. controversy continues to grow surrounding president trump's alleged involvement with russian interference in the 2016 election. yesterday, jay sekulow, one of president trump's lawyers, said trump was not under investigation by the special counsel. his statements, however, contradict the president's own tweets, current confirming he was a target. last tuesday, jeff sessions testified before the senate intelligence committee.
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he called suggestions that he colluded with russians during the campaign an appalling and detestable lie. he engaged in a heated exchange with democratic senator ron wyden. sen. wyden: general sessions, respectfully you are not , answering the question. gen. sessions: what is the question? sen. wyden: the question is, mr. comey said they were matters with respect to the recusal that were problematic and he couldn't talk about them. what are they? gen. sessions: why don't you tell me? they are none, senator wyden. there are none, i can tell you for absolute certainty. this is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me, and i don't appreciate it, and i tried to give my best and truthful answers to any committee i have appeared before. people are suggesting through innuendo that i have been not honest about matters, and i have
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tried to be honest. david: senator wyden joins me from washington. thank you for joining us. let's start with today's news on russia, which is a little different. russia sent worrisome signals about the war in syria, that it was now treating american planes as aerial targets after the u.s. shot down a syrian plane over the weekend. how worried should we be about escalation between the u.s. and russia? sen. wyden: david, i have had a hard rule that i would only talk about russia after we have talked about health care first. i gather that you are willing to commit to having a good time on health care if i get into russia first. with that, let me tackle your question. i think this is a troubling set of events that has been unfolding, and i continue to be concerned about the prospect of
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an escalating american role in syria. the reality is that on the intelligence committee, we have not had a briefing yet with respect to this weekend's activities, but i think the weekend developments are cause for real concern. david: i read the statements from the military and the trump administration today to mean that the u.s. doesn't take russia's statements literally, and they think for all the tough talk from moscow today, that this may be a relatively modest bump in the road. do you share what seems to be that optimism? sen. wyden: it's good to feel a little bit of skepticism in the trump administration when the russians speak. remember, this is the president who, for example, after the senate passes a tough sanctions package against russia, we are going to have difficulty keeping the trump administration from watering it down in the house.
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if they are showing skepticism, with respect to russia that's , better than what we've got. david: now let's turn to the investigation. so much of the discussion is about the potential cover-up, the whole discussion around the firing of james comey. i want to take us back to first principles here. can you tell us what your central concerns are about the relationship between the trump campaign and the trump administration and russia? what are the basic questions that you were hoping this investigation is going to answer? sen. wyden: first of all, i think we need to understand that this speaks to the legitimacy of the trump administration and the executive branch. for example, late last year, the intelligence leadership said that the russians had hacked our institutions, our democratic system. the trump administration has
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consistently played that down number one. , number two, he shifted american policies that his predecessors, both democrat and republican, like the russians and crimea, we had tough sanctions but we have seen this president will that way. we have seen his son say that in 2008 when it was hard to get money, a substantial part of their portfolio involved russian investments. this is the first president in four decades who has been unwilling to release his tax returns. i have had to introduce legislation requiring this. this speaks to the legitimacy of this administration, and obviously practically every day or so there are new issues we have. the bizarre situation over the last couple days when the president said he was being investigated by the government, and then his lawyer said he wasn't. those four words, "i'm being investigated," heard around the world.
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david: one of the concerns is whether there is collusion between the campaign and russia. i should say there is as yet no evidence there was collusion, correct me if you disagree. but there's also a second set of questions you are interested in, which is are there financial , ties separate from the campaign between the president and his family members and associates, and people close to russian president vladimir putin? am i right that is a concern of yours? sen. wyden: yes. i have led the effort in the intelligence committee on the follow the money issues, that intersect with my responsibilities as ranking democrat on the finance committee. hear what you're looking at is possible shell corporations or money laundering or property transfers. we have a lot of work to do. we are in talks with the treasury department now about getting access to key documents.
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we have a lot of digging ahead. david: what have you seen that makes you want to ask those questions? why are you worried about those potential ties? sen. wyden: we have a stack full of reports from your colleagues in the press that have certainly offered a fair amount of documentation suggesting a whole host of financial connections between the russians and those in the trump campaign. so what i believe you do is you go where the facts lead. that is where i staked out this ground. by the way, a veteran fbi man, recently said when i asked, he said, "senator, you are right to follow the money. you should also follow the trail of dead bodies." david: what do you mean? sen. wyden: i'm telling you, that's what he said. i will not get into anything beyond it. but if you ask a veteran fbi man if you think you're on the right trail with respect to following
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the money and expands it that way, that certainly wakes up the hearing room. david: and i assume he's talking about the number of russian citizens who have shown up dead in somewhat mysterious circumstances. sen. wyden: let's put it this way. your press colleagues had a lot to say about these matters in connection with the dossier. david: let's turn to the attorney general. you are a united states senator, the body you were working with is famous for its collegiality. yet, you and attorney general sessions were colleagues for years, but you engaged in heated exchange in the testimony. you seemed most concerns although he had officially recused himself from overseeing the russia investigation, that really he has effectively gone back on that. is that a fair description? sen. wyden: i have certainly been concerned he walks back his recusal, but what i was especially concerned about is james comey, at our open
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hearing, said in response to my question that he couldn't get into aspects of the recusal by jeff sessions because it was problematic, and he couldn't talk about it in a public way. i made it very clear after the hearing that i was going to ask about that when the attorney general actually came. he obviously got very angry with me, but he still didn't answer the question. david: what was tricky for outsiders following that exchange is, the attorney general seem to suggest that something happened in closed session that you were trying to bring into the open. what exactly is he referring to? can you talk about what he was referring to there? cannot get no, and i into matters that are brought up in closed session. i will tell your viewers that i think the american people have a right to have a public answer to what james comey said was problematic.
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david: one of the things that concerned me when we saw the tweets from the president, clearly directed at rod rosenstein, is that this investigation is such a threat to him and his presidency that he could wipe it out by firing mueller or rosenstein or any number of things. are you concerned about that, and is there anything that could stop him? sen. wyden: nobody has done the damage to the trump presidency more than donald trump. the fact is, i never thought we would have a president say, "i'm being investigated," and then tweet it around the world. this is breaking new ground. my sense is that the president is calling the shots here, and very often i think that the president, instead of being somebody who thinks he has been
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vindicated ought to hire new lawyers. but i gather his lawyers are telling him to knock off the tweeting, too. david: i want to ask one more thing about foreign affairs. we got sad news today that otto warmbier, the virginia student who was in north korea, had died. can you talk about your reaction to that and what the u.s. can do in response to what certainly seems to be a foreign government killing an american citizen? sen. wyden: it is horrible, horrible news to see this young man die this way. we are going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened. but we have to send a very clear message to the north koreans. that when something like this happens we do not look the other , way. david: i promise you we would talk about health care, and you began the interview by saying you have a personal rule, which is you will not talk about russia unless you can talk about health care first.
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that seems to reflect frustration on your part about how little attention the health care debate is receiving right now. why youtalk to me about are so frustrated people are not talking more about this? sen. wyden: first of all, it is the sheer volume of extraordinary news that is being made every day that makes it a challenge. just today, already we have dealt with several accounts. there seem to be new terrorist matters. we have to get to the bottom of those. this is the summer, and you have the senate republicans doing something that is absolutely unprecedented. i don't know of a single situation where you are talking about a major piece of legislation that's being written in the dark. there's no bill. there's no effort to try to describe the cost either to taxpayers or to americans. the signs point to huge new expenses.
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for example, there is a big age tax for those americans pre-medicare. pay five4 and 65, they times as much as younger people. that means for people in rural oregon and rural america, they get hammered, but there aren't any details. david: i realize you oppose this bill. you haven't even seen it, but you almost certainly will oppose it. why do you think your republican colleagues are pushing so hard? conservative policy experts don't like the plan, liberal experts don't like it, the doctors lobby, the nurses lobby, the hospital's lobby the aarp, , nobody likes this bill. can you try to get into the minds of the republican colleagues and explain what is it they are trying to accomplish here? sen. wyden: interestingly enough, a number of them have been asked what they are trying to accomplish, and they can't answer. i think particularly the group to watch are the conservatives and the moderates. the conservatives, as incredible
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as it sounds, want to produce something that is worse than what the president called mean. the moderates have to be sensitive to those on medicaid. we could not get the details. i have worked a lot with moderates on health care over the years. i'm hoping they have not changed. david: for those moderates, do you think it is that they made a promise to repeal obamacare, and they kind of got locked into it? sen. wyden: certainly, the republicans for years and years now have made this their principal refrain went respect to domestic politics. they were going to throw the affordable care act in the trashcan, and they had something that was better and would be more affordable for americans, and they just never spent the
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time dealing with these issues. you and i talked about the healthy americans act i produced with colleagues in 2007 and 2008, seven democrats and seven republicans. we got some of what we worked for into the affordable care act, particularly the airtight loophole free protection for people from discrimination with a pre-existing condition. but when you are writing a health care bill, it takes a lot of work. david: interesting, you were working on that with senator bob bennett from utah. that was a conservative approach to universal care, wasn't it? sen. wyden: what it said is that both parties had a valid point. democrats are right, i still feel this, that we have to have universal coverage. without universal coverage, shiftingtoo much cost and not enough prevention. republicans tell there ought to be a role for the private sector. i said look we have a pretty , good model. it's the kind of coverage members of congress have.
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president obama used always laugh a little bit and said, your ideals are going to prevail someday. but the point is, we can't go back now. we can't go back to the days when health care was for the healthy and wealthy. that is what you get if you allow discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions. sen. wyden: let me ask you to play media critic for a minute. are we in the media making a mistake? are we not paying enough attention to this bill, given the odds of passing, and the enormous effect it could have on american society? sen. wyden: i do think it has gotten shortchanged. the reality is you are talking about something that affects over 300 million americans, 1/6 of the american economy. ever since i was director of the great panthers, i felt health care was the most important issue. if you and your loved ones don't have health, everything else goes by the board. yes, i do think this issue,
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there are details that sometimes have people say, it's complicated, we have to move on to the headlines. russia and terrorism are extraordinarily important. i don't dispute that for a second. but we can't let this health care debate, particularly the prospect that senate republicans will do so much damage, get lost in the daily blur of news. david: what about your democratic colleagues? do you think the democratic caucus is doing enough to call attention to this? senators famously have all kinds of ways to slow down the business of the senate to call attention to something. so far, we haven't seen democrats take extraordinary measures to call attention to what republicans are doing here. sen. wyden: democrats in the u.s. senate understand this is go time. we are all in. we are going to be on the floor. we will be accepting invitations
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like this one to talk to journalists who want to talk about health care. it will be all health care all the time for the next two weeks. david: senator wyden, thank you for joining us. we will be right back. ♪
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♪ david: we continue this evening with a further look at health care. politico reported today that senate majority leader mitch mcconnell plans to put the revamped bill on the floor for a vote next week, before the july 4 holiday.
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republicans have drawn criticism for their closed-door negotiations on revisions to the american health care act, which was passed by the house in may. joining me from washington are sarah kliff of vox and peter suderman from reason magazine. sara collins of the commonwealth fund is here as well. welcome, all of you. sarah kliff, can you walk us through the politics and policy of where we are in the senate? >> both are challenging for senate republicans but they are , pretty committed to moving forward. what we know right now is that they definitely want to have a vote. the majority leader mcconnell has been very clear he wants to have the vote and have it soon. it is a challenging moment for them. i think policywise, it has been difficult to get the entire republican caucus on one page when you have people like lisa murkowski from alaska who is concerned about medicaid cuts, and someone like senator ted cruz from texas who wants a significant cut. there are challenges to getting
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everyone on board with the same policy, and there is certainly a concern about how the policy will be received. one of the reasons it seems like senate republicans are keeping this a secretive process is when they saw what the house went through and saw the bill that , would cost millions of people to lose coverage would not be popular. the politics and policy of it, it is all very challenging for senate republicans. that being said, house republicans are in a difficult spot when they were working on their bill, but they were able to pass it. now we will see if the senate is able to accomplish that. david: when the house passed the bill, the conventional wisdom is the senate would not pass anything like it. that conventional wisdom has shifted. most people think there are slightly better than even odds that the senate actually does pass this. is that your sense? >> nobody wants to be left as the one standing in the way of health care repeal. this is a goal republicans have had for seven years, something
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they have been quite committed to. there's a lot of concern about the bill and coverage numbers, but at the end of the day, one of the things instructive for me watching the fight in the house, when someone was in the hot seat, the one group or one legislator standing in the way, they ultimately cut some sort of deal or did something to get on board. the incentives are strong. i don't want to say it is locked up. it seems unclear if it will pass, but i think there are a lot of senators who do not want to have the finger pointed at them as the one person who stood in the way of this crucial republican goal. david: peter, you have spent a lot of time thinking about what a conservative health policy would look like. you recently wrote that republicans believe a combination of speed and secrecy is the only way the bill will pass. they have so little confidence in their bill that they don't want anyone to see it. can you explain to us why it is that virtually the entire republican caucus may vote for this bill, given all of the
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reaction to it? >> i think that big problem for republicans is that when it comes to health policy, they really don't know what they want. think about in these terms. democrats, it's clear what they want from health care policy. they want coverage. they want coverage to be affordable and financed generally by taxes on high earners, on wealthy people. but you can't really say what it is the republican party wants from the health care system, except that they don't like obamacare. that is the one thing they have rallied around for the last seven or eight years. what they want is to be able to say they passed something. i think part of the problem is since they don't know what else they want, they basically created a bill that replicates obamacare's individual market structure, but in a way that doesn't really work as well as obamacare, so it's even more dysfunctional. the other thing they want is to set up tax reform.
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this is a big motivator for republicans, which is that it is much easier to get to a tax reform that lowers top tax rates if you have passed obamacare first. excuse me, if you have passed the ahca first. david: why is that? >> there are two ways to get a permanent tax reform. one is to get 60 votes. with only 52 votes in the senate, they will not get there. they have to do it through reconciliation. one of the rules is that you have to balance the budget, that you have to have the revenue neutral after the 10 year budget window. ca allows them to do is lower the tax baseline in advance of doing tax reform, then that allows them to have a tax code that raises less revenue overall, meaning it easier to reduce tax breaks. david: that is how they have backed into this. so far we have talked about
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reconciliation, process, and washington. can you talk to us about what are the real world effects of this bill likely to be? i understand we have not seen the bill, but we have a sense of the direction it is going. how would it affect people question bill -- affect people? >> we have seen the house passed ahca bill, and if it has any relation to the senate, i have been studying health policy for the better part of my career, and i have focused on the effect of health policy on people. this bill would cause considerable pain to millions of americans across the country. david: how so? >> it would repeal the affordable care act's coverage expansion, which has improved coverage, enabled 20 million people to get coverage who were uninsured, improved people's access to health care, and would replace those expansions with meager subsidies, weakened consumer protections, and much higher out-of-pocket costs.
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i think what people have not focused on because of the way in which the discussion is unfolding, is the fact that it would go beyond the affordable care act, beyond the repeal of the affordable care act, and reach into the medicaid program which covers 70 million people. it provides nursing home care, care for people with disabilities. it would make the deepest cuts in federal spending in the medicaid program since its inception in 1965. david: the historian of health care said to me, this isn't just undoing obamacare, it is undoing lyndon johnson's health care bill in part from the 1960's. sarah kliff, do you think that's a fair description? >> i think it is certainly the biggest rollback we would have seen in modern political history of health care benefits. one thing that has been surprising about the debate, one of the reasons it has been such a struggle for republicans, is that you don't typically see benefit programs taken away once
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they are enacted. it is easier to talk about hypothetical benefits and not pass a law than it is to pass a law that takes something away. if something like the ahca were to pass, it would be a somewhat unprecedented piece of legislation. you would have an estimated 14 million people losing medicaid coverage ending medicaid , expansion, and changing medicaid financing. the change to medicaid financing would be pretty big and would really transform the program. right now the way medicaid works is that the federal government essentially has an open-ended commitment to funding the program, that they would pay a certain percentage of every enrollee's bills. under the house passed bills, states would get a lump sum per person and say this is your , amount, we hope you can stay within the budget, but we are not giving you more money if you can't. that would be a huge change. it would change the way medicaid works.
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a lot of experts expect states could not balance that budget with more efficiency. they would really have to cut back on benefits. it's fair to describe this as a very fundamental change to the medicaid program. david: the most intellectually serious critiques of obamacare, and medicaid, have said that the benefits of health insurance are often exaggerated. when you look in the literature, it has clear financial benefits but it doesn't necessarily have , huge benefits in people's outcomes. it is hard to find a link between we gave that person health insurance and they were better off. is that a fair critique? is that a reason why maybe if health insurance gets taken away from lots of people, the effects won't be as catastrophic as we are worrying about now? >> we have seen over the last seven years of the rollout of the affordable care act huge improvements in people's ability to get health care that they could not have gotten before.
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we are seeing that both in the individual market, but also the medicaid program. people have much improved access to health care, reduced rates of going to the emergency room, and improved reports of health status. people say their health status is better now than it was prior to getting coverage. this is widespread across the coverage expansions of the affordable care act. medicaid provides access to care and protection from medical bills that is equal to or better than private insurance coverage, so it is simply not true that medicaid is an inferior source of coverage. people are not getting health care through these coverage expansions. david: peter, how do you think about the benefits of health insurance and how you think about how people's lives would be affected of something like the house bill became law? >> i think that as you said, it's unclear exactly what the link is between health insurance and actual, physical health
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improvements. the best study that was ever done on this found that over two years, people who randomly were given medicaid did not have measurable health improvements. however, they felt better about themselves and there were real benefits in terms of protecting them from finance shock. i think this health care bill that the republicans are pushing through is a real missed opportunity to reform the system along those lines and create a system that is designed to make insurance act like insurance, and to give people access rather than just a kind of create this -- this bill they've created is obamacare, but in donald trump's words, mean. it's a dysfunctional version of obamacare that basically says we don't have a theory of our own, we just don't like this, so were going to do less of it. david: political analysts say passing this bill would be terrible for americans.
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it would remove popular benefits for millions of americans. and americans would blame republicans for every little problem in health care system, regardless of whether it was even connected with this bill. sarah cliff, do you have a sense that republicans in washington have a fundamentally different theory and they think all of the experts are wrong and that passing this will actually be good for them? or are they sort of flying blind here and just hoping it works out? >> it's a great question. a few things are at play there. i spent some time in southeastern kentucky where i have been doing some reporting this area of the country heavily , supported donald trump and benefited from obamacare, some of the biggest enrollment numbers in the country. i was out there a few weeks ago talking about this exact question. a lot of people like their coverage, even if they voted for donald trump they , think medicaid is working pretty well. it seems like partisanship will do a lot to be protective of a lot of members.
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it's not a formula where people lose benefits, they get angry, and they vote differently in the next election. i talked to a lot of republicans who said our congressmen voted for this, but he's a good guy, he has done good stuff for this area. they did not think the house passed bill was a good one, but where this could really blowback at republicans is in areas of the country not necessarily ones with high obamacare enrollment, but ones that are little more moderate and contentious districts. you could see some angry democrats who either didn't vote for voted differently last year coming back and making a different decision when they vote in 2018. it's a really interesting dynamic. i don't think it's a case that republicans have convinced themselves that this is a good bill, if they can just get it out there that people will , actually like it. all the secrecy we've been talking about speaks to how unpopular republicans know that
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this a bill is. i think they're expecting that people who have voted with them before will do it again, and they will see what happens in the next election. david: sarah, do you think this pushes the country closer to more single-payer coverage? if republicans actually passed this bill, it seems democrats will not want to run on simply re-creating obamacare, which basically takes the current system and tries to build on it. but democrats will be hungry for something bolder. how democrats react if republicans actually do this? is it basically an expansion of medicare and something to the left of where the democratic party used to be? >> we decided as a nation in 2010 that we would pass a bill that would cover people, many more people covered under the affordable care act. we wanted to do this in a way that was consistent with american values. the centerpiece of the
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affordable care act is building on the private insurance market. so we have seen over the last seven years as those reforms have gone into effect and people have gotten coverage that if we want to build our health insurance system on the basis of private insurance markets, this is probably the best way to do it with subsidies that protect , people from high premium increases, bans on pre-existing condition exclusions, requiring everybody to have health insurance coverage. we've seen a major improvement in people's ability to buy a health plan on their own since the law went into effect compared to what it was prior to , the affordable care act. if we make a decision that this is not our preferred approach, then there are certainly other options to moving forward. the medicaid expansion has also been very effective. do we go more along the lines of public programs, but if we want to build on the private insurance market, this is probably the best way to go.
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there are certainly problems and weaknesses in the marketplace right now they need to be addressed. this can be done in a bipartisan way if we are committed to this approach. but this truly is probably the best way we can structure private insurance markets if that is the , centerpiece of the effort toward universal coverage. david: peter and sarah, let's close on the politics. the republicans seem highly unlikely to get any democratic votes on the bill that takes health care insurance away from millions of people. they just have to do this with republican votes. they have 52 republicans and they can afford to lose only two of them. who are the republicans who seem wobbly in supporting this bill? sara: you can look at more moderate senators like lisa murkowski or susan collins, who have voiced concern about medicaid expansion and what it would mean for people in their state, and just the medicaid cuts we were talking about earlier.
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then you look at the other end the party, rand paul or ted cruz, these are people who want to see significant rollbacks, who think obamacare is not being dismantled enough. you might see give from either of those ends of the party where you might expect to lose someone. but it is a delicate math that mitch mcconnell is working with, that he can only afford to lose two votes and he's trying to satisfy the interest of 52 senators. david: clearly we are looking at an very important next couple of weeks in terms of health care coverage. thank you for joining us. ♪ ♪
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jacobs championed the diversity and vibrancy of city life. book capture the ballet of the good city sidewalks. she famously faced off with a powerful developer and master builder robert moses over conflicting visions for the future design of new york city. the new york times once noted that the pair made almost perfect antagonists. the new film, citizen jane, city, tells the story. here's the trailer. >> i think it is wicked in a way, to be of the. >> absolute power corrupts absolutely, and robert moses was absolutely powerful.
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to wipe the slate clean, start all over. >> i would say you have a cancerous growth that has to be carved out. >> i first began looking at city planning and housing. it was unbelievably awful. insane. >> we didn't understand how high the price was until jane jacobs came along. >> jane jacobs has written a book that advances with the power of the bulldozer against modern city planning and rebuilding. >> she is the antenna that is picking up something here that no one else is seeing. is notbelieves the city about buildings, a city is about people. >> she was questioning orthodoxy at a time when women were not welcomed in those environments. >> she was a housewife, that is how they treated her. try to mess with a bunch of mothers. >> we were out raged about her -- a road going through washington
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square and we were going to save washington square. >> you have to bully through, you've got to do it. >> the road will destroy the neighborhood. >> they are making a mistake. >> it is not right. >> jane jacobs was the most articulate voice of a movement. >> we have to move a lot of people out of the way of a big housing project. >> they rent, they do not own it. what are they going to do, throw me in the street after 51 years? >> where is this going to end? >> take the money and go away. >> what would we have left? >> people have to insist on government trying things their way. charlie: joining me dow is the film's producer and director or, great to see you again. let's start from the beginning, how did you decide this is a film that i really want to make? >> jane jacobs is a public intellectual and great author who had never had a documentary made about her. her book from 1961 has never
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been out of print. moreover, she is a great citizen activist. times in movie for our an era where we have a government that is like none we have ever had before. people taking to the streets, people needing ways to speak truth to power. jane jacobs is a great example. charlie: when matt brought this to you did you instantly say , this is something i want to do? >> i did, because i had seen his first film, valentino. i cannot think of two people further apart than valentino and jane jacobs. but matt had this passion for jane. what attracted me was seeing a lot of places repeating the same mistakes we made in the 1960's and 1970's, that we had not really learned our lesson. charlie: and you see it in cities across our country. >> this is the urban renewal
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period, where we ended up doing our best to destroy our own cities by building freeways, towers, housing, what was called urban renewal at the time. it was seen as a positive thing, but this was one of jane jacob'' huge contributions. very early in the 1950's when these things are being built she was actually a whistleblower, saying you are actually killing your cities in the name of saving them. it reminds me of mcnamara in vietnam, we had to destroy the village to save it. that horrible irony, that's what urban renewal was doing. jane jacobs was a first person to bring it to the four. so much of the urban model is happening in china and india and places that are building. charlie: it seems to me that the essence of great documentary, you have to have interesting characters, and certainly at least one. here you have two who are protagonists, and they are by definition amazingly different.
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>> i wanted to make a movie for general audience. you are such an architecture person, you know that architecture and urban planning our very siloed. the general public doesn't feel like they have access to it. in order to make a film that's not preaching to graduate students in urban planning, i thought, let's make it character driven. if you look at her life there is a period where she interfaces with someone who it manifested into sort of dr. evil, and this is robert moses. he is called the power broker. there is a 1400 page book published in 1974, 1 of the great biographies in english. robert moses was the most powerful unelected official in american history, -- charlie: because? >> because he had organized power around himself in a way that made him unaccountable to the public, creating things called authorities.
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he was a law writer. he was secretary of state when out smith was governor. he drafted the laws that put him in the chairmanship of these things called authorities. he became unaccountable. absolute power corrupts absolutely. after world war ii, he is building highways, tearing down probably 50% of east harlem. today of those buildings still stood, it would be a place as vital as the west village of new york. he is really destroying the city, and jacobs is the whistleblower. she said this is vandalism, not the sacking of cities, not the saving of cities. charlie: she came from where? >> she was a journalist who came from provincial origins, scranton, pennsylvania. one thing that is remarkable about her is that she is in autodidact. she has no college degree.
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you have to remember context, she was a woman writing for architectural forum in the 1950's about fields that are still to this day male-dominated. people were not listening to women in architecture and urban planning in the 1950's. and jacobs got herself heard out of sheer brilliance, extraordinary observational skills and great literary skills. charlie: and also she was persistent and determined. >> beyond. she writes this book in 1960 one about urban planning in cities that is a bombshell that , absolutely levels an entire profession, basically. at the same time, she pivots to activism and begins practicing what she preaches. the part of new york city she lives in, the west village, was being threatened with an urban renewal projects and several highways that were going to decimate it. so she takes all of her conclusions from this great book and brings them to the street
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and mobilizes the west village and all of lower manhattan, and they start to win. they start to defeat moses, who had never been defeated before. charlie: is this kind of conflict still with us? you developed a high line, and there were some developers who were opposed to it thought it , was going to be terrible. >> originally, we had to fight developers, we had to fight mayor giuliani. we had the sue. then we had a partnership. it would not have gotten built without a partnership with the bloomberg administration. new york is so radically different when we started this project in 1999 and really from when jane was writing this and living in new york. people were leaving new york. the tax base was crumbling. you can debate it either way, i think robert moses really was trying to save the city in a totally different way. but now we have a completely
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different context. so many people are moving to the city. it's almost an issue of over success. that's what i'm finding interesting, the neighborhood the high line runs through is a microcosm for what is happening all over the city and country. charlie: for people who do not know across the country and around the world, what is the high line? >> it was an old, elevated rail line built in the 1930's, abandoned in 1980, and it was set for demolition. mayor giuliani and others wanted to tear it down to build more buildings. i met another guy at a community board meeting and we decided someone should think about another use for it and started this group, friends of the high line, in 1999. a lot of battles, a lot of community support, and ultimately opened the first stage in 1999. now it is almost completed. we thought we would get about 300,000 visitors a year. last year we had almost 8 million. charlie: great battles like penn
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station, which was lost. >> absolutely. this is one reason i wanted robert to produce the movie with me. he and his cofounder are examples of two guys who had an idea and had a huge impact on their city. which is a very jacobian perspective. you referenced penn station, really the beginning of the great awakening about activism in this city, and that's the preservation movement. there are pictures of jane jacobs front and center protesting the demolition of penn station. charlie: mrs. kennedy got involved, and other people. >> this was a way to get attention. preservation was not on the map then. jacqueline kennedy comes forward to try to save penn station. jane jacobs was on the front line philip johnson, all , those great figures of the period. but the preservation movement is only one part of it, really. the other part is citizens coalescing to save their cities in ways that are beyond preservation.
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when the world trade center was built, something called washington market, that had been there since the 19th century, was demolished to build the world trade towers. jane jacobs at the time was like, why are you destroying this vital thing that is as much an organ of the city as the fulton fish market? row was where the towers were built. these things that we take for granted were seen as insignificant. the flower district in new york which is a , wonderful part of the city that was not glamorous, but was a real economic engine. jacobs is really about preserving what the everyday city is. these grand things like train stations that were demolished they matter, too, but , jane jacobs is telling us the subtle things matter, and it all works together. charlie: was moses a bad guy, or just a bad idea?
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>> i think robert moses was very complex. there is a prewar moses, who was something out of an angel. from their aggressive movement he built jones beach and countless parks and playgrounds. he wants to make the city, which is very troubled in the postindustrial revolution era, a better place for the poor. after the war, when there is enormous federal funding available and so much can be done quickly, and he is so powerful and unassailable, he becomes corrupt. not personally corrupt. charlie: corrupted by power? >> yes, but not personally corrupt. he doesn't die a rich man, he dies broke, but power corrupt. he is abusing his power and building in ways that are extremely misguided. in that way, moses was kind of an evil guy. charlie: so you went to robert and said give us some advice, what did he say? >> the power broker is one of my favorite books, a very lengthy book.
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one jane jacobs does not appear in. there are legends about this. charlie: tell me what the speculation is. >> when robert caro, when he turned in the book, it was almost double the length. it's already a 1400 page book, bound. the editor who was working on the book, the greatest of his generation, made the decision to cut it drastically. it is said that one of the things that got cut was the material about jane jacobs. charlie: and that was one of the epic battles of robert moses' life. >> it certainly was. everything is about context. if you were writing that book today, you would never cut the chapter about a woman who was powerful and speaking truth to power.
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you would foreground that. but in the 1960's and 1970's, editorial processes and considerations were very different than they are now. charlie: was it moses' point of view, even questions of race and poverty, the greater good was in play here? we are making a giant step for modernization? >> when i said he wanted the city to succeed, his view of the city was separated from the suburbs where people live, mainly middle-class white people, where he wanted them to live, and then the city where people came to work. race is an interesting issue. a lot of people bring up race and jane jacobs. i think you have a really interesting point. >> james baldwin had an incredible adage from the 1950's
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and 1960's, which was, urban renewal is negro removal. this was quite enlightening, because the people affected largely in the inner cities by urban renewal were blacks at the time, were african-americans. there is a sociologist who is in our movie talks about something called rootshock. it is when you uproot the plant, as a metaphor, which were the the african-american populations that had their homes basically taken away and demolished, when at the time, it was said for the greater good. so we would actually cut out the cancer of these slums and build housing projects in re house the urban poor who were frequently , african-american. this did not work out very well, and this is what baldwin is citing at the time. jacobs herself writes
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extensively about this, because east harlem was really robert moses' sort of laboratory in new york city. so many african-american communities were decimated. what jacobs realizes early on is, the rebuilt housing was actually worse for them than what had been the so-called slums. charlie: this is jane jacobs speaking about new york in its great creative day. >> new york was in its great creative day. a place where all kinds of people can find opportunity. a place where you don't have to be big and important and rich or have a great plot of land or a great development scheme or something like that. to do something, and maybe even do something new, something interesting. charlie: thank you for joining us. see you next time. ♪ alisa: i'm alisa parenti from
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washington. you are watching "bloomberg technology." let's start with a check of your first word news. elgin media reports a person wearing an explosive belt and a backpack has been neutralized at a train station in brussels. people reported hearing sounds of an explosion. officials say it is too early to say whether this is a terrorist incident. calling this incident a disgrace, president trump is laying blame for the death of otto warmbier firmly on north korea. mr. trump spoke in an oval office meeting today with the president of ukraine. he says warmbier's death would have been avoided if he had been brought back sooner. the 22-year-old came back in a coma. the cincinnati c

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