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tv   This Week With George Stephanopoulos  ABC  September 24, 2017 8:00am-9:00am PDT

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"this week" with george stephanopoulos starts right now. insulter in chief. president trump escalating tensions with north korea. >> rocketman is on a suicide mission for himself. and for his regime. >> and here at home, attacking freedom of speech and star athletes. >> wouldn't you love to see one of these nfl owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say get that s of a [ bleep ] off the field right now? >> all this, as a key campaign promise is on life support. >> immediately rl eaepand re >> with another gop health care bill struggling to survive. >> we might have to go back again and again. we may make it this time. >> where is the president's focus as he faces off with another world leader? will either blink?
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can we avoid war? as the gop's latest repeal and replace attempt breaks down, is it time for a bipartisan solution? those questions and more, for treasury secretary steve mnuchin. and the backers of the health care bill, lindsey graham and bill cassidy. plus, our powerhouse "roundtable." from the white house to your house, we take on the moments that mattered this week. good morning. donald trump promised to be a unifier when he was running for office. if that's what he hoped to achieve, he's not having much success. according to our new abc news/"washington post" poll out just this morning, 66% of all americans, including nearly 4 in 10 conservatives, think trump has done more to divide the country than unite it. instead of bringing the country together, he's proved to be a provocateur. and as we are reminded yet again
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this week, when the president tries to be provocative, it can have real consequences. let's start with north korea. president trump at the u.n. this week, threatening to quote totally destroy the reclusive nation. that finger in the eye of kim jong-un escalating tensions so dramatically, we were left with this split screen yesterday. on the left, b-1 bombers flying farther north of the dmz than any american planes have in decades. on the rightthat was north korea's foreign minister, threatening that launching his country's missiles and hitting the u.s. is now quote inevitable. this just days after he also said his country could detonate a hydrogen bomb over the pacific ocean. that would be a major escalation. it's been decades since the last atmospheric h-bomb tests were conducted. aside from the devastating environment toll, radiation contamination, a bomb could fry
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electrical grids. it is an understandably frightening thought. this morning, a very different cause for concern here at home. a concern once again provoked by the president. there he was, friday night, in alabama, wading once more into the thicket of race relations in this country, attacking the predominantly african-american nfl player who is say they are protesting racial injustice by sitting, kneeling, or raising a fist during the national anthem. >> wouldn't you love to see one of these nfl owners, when somebody disrespects our flag to say get that son of a [ bleep ] off the field right now. out, he's fired. he's fired! >> while some, including in the military, find it deeply offensive not to stand for a flag for which many have given their lives, condemnation of trump's comments was widespread. from players across the league. nearly half of all nfl teams,
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the nfl commissioner, nba star lebron james, spreading to baseball last night. the president's response? taking to twitter. doubling down on his attacks. even suggesting fans boycott the nfl. of course, we have seen that before. the president provokes on race, takes criticism, refuses to back down. this hour, we'll break down the president's provocations at home and abroad, along with the status of the gop's latest obamacare repeal and replace effort. but since it is sunday, just minutes until the day's first nfl game kicks off in london, let's start with abc's ryan smith outside of metlife stadium in new jersey, for today's jets-dolphins game. what is expected today at the games in reaction to what the president said? >> reporter: martha, i think you could see one of the biggest days of protests that we have seen in professional sports. right now, there is nothing formally planned by the players. there were a great deal of
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meetings by players discussing what to do about this. a great deal of anger conveyed over the president's comments. i think you could see a number of protests at a number of games. i initially, all eyes will be on the jaguars-ravens game taking place overseas in london. that is the first game we'll see in america. at happens there? lot of dynamics there. both teams' owners have not responded to president trump's comments. one of those owners donating to his inauguration committee. major league baseball had its first player take a knee. bruce maxwell of the oakland a's took a knee at the national anthem, expressing his views, as well. so i think what you have is the perfect storm of not only president trump's comments, but just a ground swell of support really for players being able to speak their minds, which may lead to a lot of different statements in a variety of different ways on nfl fields this sunday. >> the president is asking fans
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to boycott the nfl this morning. what do you think the reaction to that will be from the fans? >> reporter: you know, i would say this. the average ticket price is around 172 bucks. that is not a lot of money for some. for many folks out there who come to watch nfl games, that is a lot of money. especially talking about bringing family members, friends to the game. i think that you will always see people who might walk out, who might not come, because they support the president's comments. but i think, to a large extent, people will stay in the seats. they're there to see football games. they're there to see the activity on the field. they don't want their politics being a part of their sports. while i think, i understand the president's call. a call to support the position he's taking. i think in many ways, i don't think you'll see a mass exodus of fans walking out of games they paid so handsomely for tickets to go to see. >> thank you, ryan. let's bring in "usa today" columnist and abc contributor christine brennan and former nfl player, anquan boldin.
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anquan, i want to start with you. you just retired from the nfl. you remain active on player issues. how are the president's comments being received among players you may have talked to? do you expect more protests at the games this afternoon. >> well, i can tell you that the president's remarks is not taken well by players. as far as protests, i can't say because i'm not in the locker room. but what i would like to see is guys coming together in the form of solidarity. with coaches, owners, and general managers. i think the president's words are real divisive. i don't like the hate speech that is coming out of his mouth. neither do the players in the locker room. i think as a league, we need to stand together and show that we're all about uniting one another. not divisive rhetoric that is coming out of the mouth of the president. >> there are reports this morning that the raiders offensive line, the only all african-american unit in the nfl plans to sit or kneel. during the anthem.
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and i have to talk about that. this goes beyond sports. the nfl is almost 70% black. the nba is 74% black. >> yes. i mean, there's issues that players are dealing with. and the guys that are using the platform that they have to bring light to these issues. kneeling, taking a knee, sitting during the national anthem has never been about disrespecting this country. it's never been about disrespecting the flag. but it's been about bringing unity to america as a whole. i know we all live in a great country. we're proud of where we live. there is work to be done on both ends. >> christine, after the president spoke in alabama, you had strong comments in an op ed saying let it be noted that trump mustered more anger friday over kaepernick's personal decision to not stfod ane thr anthem than he did for the neo-nazis and white supremacists who marched in charlottesville's deadly protests last month.
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expand on that, christine. >> yes, i think, first of all, when the president decides to take on the entire sports establishment, which right hw,s doing, it brings it into light, martha, in ways other issues might not. sports is a national conversation always. that intersection of sports and culture. my goodness. we're there now. this is not going away anytime soon. this story will build. and, clearly, i mean, he was with the rhetoric, people saw, with the venom. the anger. that he could muster more of that for colin kaepernick, a man taking a knee, exercising his first amendment right to do so than for the deadly protests in charlottesville. that's just -- stunning. i know others have pointed that out, as well. but, this is -- this is a -- this is a whole new territory for donald trump. if he really wants to get into that sports realm, because all these players have twitter.ane voeyicthd e.
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and they have a following fans who love them and care for them in a way other people that trump has gone after, those people don't have that kind of following. sports does. >> and christine, just quickly. is there an argument to be made that the football field is not the place to protest? >> certainly, there's that argument. but i think more and more, we have seen it from sports for generations. you and i have talked about it.. be it muhammad ali, jackie robinson. billie jean king. sports is a place where this is is played out. whether people like it or not, that part of sports and our culture is here to stay. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. and let's bring in treasury secretary steven mnuchin. with all the urgent issues, kree yarks health care, why is the president even talking about nfl players and disinviting nba players to the white house? >> good morning, it's great to be here with you.
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the nfl has all types of rules. you can't have stickers on your helmet. you have to have your jerseys tucked in. i think what the president is saying is that the owners should have a rule that players should have to stand in respect for the national anthem. th isn't about democrats. it's not about republicans. it's not about race. it's not about free speech. they can do free speech on their own time. that this is about respect for the military. and the first responders and the country. >> the president is calling them s.o.b.s. is that the kind of language, no matter how you feel about the issue, that he should be using? >> i think the president can use whatever language he wants to use. i think the issue is the topic. okay. and the topic, i agree with the president. why are the -- why does the nfl have all these other rules that they enforce, that they fine this is about respect for the military, the first responders. i was at the 9/11 memorial. >> is it not about their first amendment rights? >> no, it's not.
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they have the right to have the first amendment off the field. this is a job. the employers have a right, when the players are working, to have rules. so, you know. why didn't they wear stickers? why weren't the dallas cowboys allowed to wear stickers in response to peotee to pay respect to? so the nfl is picking and choosing what they want to enforce. and the president says, for a long time. the national anthem. this is not about politics. it's about respect for the country and the people that have made great, great sacrifices for the country. >> let's talk about the nfl. nfl commissioner roger goodell calls the president's comments divisive. before the s.o.b. comments. the latest abc/"washington post" poll shows 66% feel he has done more to divide the country than unite it. do you see these kinds of statements uniting the country. we even have bob kraft this
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morning, the president's good friend, saying i am deeply disappointed by the tonef the comments made by the president on friday. i'm proud to be associated with so many players who make such tremendous contributions in positively impacting our communities. i think our political leaders could learn a lot from the lessons of teamwork and the importance of working together toward a common goal. i support their right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner that they feel is most impactful. we're talking about dividing the country. is this a unifier? >> i think the president was trying to unify the country. because the national anthem is about unification. i think the owners have the right. they should have a meeting. they should decide. they make the rules. they should decide. >> it sounds like many of those owners have already decided that this is a right the players have. >> some of them have. they should all meet. they should decide. and i'm happy to talk about this
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all morning. but i would be happy to talk about north korea, taxes, all the other things we're trying to do for the american people. >> i want to turn to north korea right now. what will we accomplish by sending the b-1 bombers further north than they have been in the 21st century? what do we accomplish with that? >> let me first say, it was a great experience being at the united nations general assembly this week with the president. i sat next to secretary tillerson and ambassador haley. while i listened to that speech. sitting in that room, you realize how important all these issues are. i think the president did two things that were very important. one, he explained what america first means. it mean that as president, he is responsible for americans first. but that he also wants to work with the world community. the second thing is he used the opportunity to talk about two very difficult situations. one is north korea. the other is iran. and we're very happy that the security council came through
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15-0, to put sanctions on north korea. >> let's go -- can we go back to the question? what do you think we'll accomplish by sending those bombers? >> i think the president has said everything's on the table. so this week, the president signed an executive order that allowed me to issue the most strong sanctions that have ever been done. i can cut off financial institutions anywhere in the world that support north korea. the military is one form. economics is another form. the president will pursue all the options. i think it's unbelievable that e sathidgo thie s week they may t hydrogen bomb above the pacific ocean. that's something that everyone in the world should be completely put off on and unify against. >> how should the u.s. respond if he does something like that? >> i am obviously subject -- i'm a member of the national security council. i'm privy to plans.
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i'm not going to make any comments about that on this show. the president has said all the options are on the table. the president has lots of alternatives that have been presented to him. he'll make decisions at the time. >> you know, we know so little about kim jong-un. we do know this is about his personal reputation. it's the core of his leadership. so this back-and-forth provocation, making it very personal. the president made it very personal. he also said that he would totally destroy north korea. so, might this be provoking him too far? might this make the situation worse? >> not at all. this is not about personalities. this is not personal. this is about someone testing nuclear weapons. a hydrogen bomb, bigger than any weapon that has ever been used. this is about sending ballistic missiles across japan's air space. these things are not going to be continued to be allowed.
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the president has made that very clear. and the rest of the world has made it very clear at the security council. this behavior is unacceptable. >> is nuclear war possible? this is a very frightening concept to americans. in our poll, 62% of americans say they don't trust president trump to handle it responsibly. >> well, i don't know where that poll came from. and i -- question it -- >> it is our abc/"washington post" poll. >> i see that.wonder how a diff would be. but what i would say is, i can assure you. the president's number one priority is the safety of the american people and our allies. the president doesn't want to be a we'll do everything we can to make sure that doesn't occur. on the other han the president will protect the american people and our allies. having a country like this using them.ear weapons. sending rockets over our allies, that is unacceptable behavior.
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>> can we talk about your travel? just quickly here to wrap up. abc is reporting that you used a military jet to make the short return trip from new york city to d.c. following the press conference at trump tower last month. the plane cost $25,000 an hour. why couldn't you take a shuttle? they leave every hour. >> the inspector general is reviewing my travel. i'm looking forward to that review. if there are suggests, we'll follow it. it doesn't cost $25,000 an hour. but it costs a lot of money. number three, there are times i need secure communications to be in touch with the president and the national security council. that's the reason why. >> can you remember anything specific from that day why you would have needed to be in touch with them on that airplane? >> absolutely. i have specific. >> and the pentagon gave us those figures. by the way, of $25,000. >> you can check with the pentagon. that's not what they charge.
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but what i would say. it's not the point. they charge a lot of money. i had a secure call that day that was critical and set up and needed to be done at that time. that's why i used the plane. >> thank you very much secretary mnuchin. >> thank you. joining me to discuss the escalating tensions with north korea, former vice chair of the joint chiefs of staff, retired general james cartwright. and evan osnos of "the new yorker." who just returned from a reporting trip to north korea and has this week's cover story titled "on the brink." general cartwright. i want to start with you. americans are clearly nervous. concerned about president trump's judgment in this. how close do you think we are to a military confrontation? is all this making it harder? >> my sense is that the tensions are as high as they have been in anybody's recollection. we're really at a dangerous point. the likelihood of a direct
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confrontation between north korea and the united states is probably not that high. that's not the way north korea operates. they tend to pick off people who are out on their own, think pueblo, any number of incidents we have had with them. a direct confrontation, they can't win. more likely it will be something we stumble into. somebody misinterprets an action. you have two forces standing across from each other on their tippy-toes. ready to go. the likelihood of a mistake is high. >> we have provocations. kim jong-un feeling personally insulted. everything he has said he would do, i will test a hydrogen bomb, i will send an icbm test, he's done. so why wouldn't he test a hydrogen bomb? >> i think the likelihood is there that he'll test a bomb. at some point. it's time to state very clearly, flying missiles over our allies, endangering other populations is unacceptable and has to stop. and there are consequences for that.
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those consequences are probably more along the lines of, we're going to start to engage those activities. we're going to start to use our capabilities in missile defense to address those issues. a direct confrontation on their soil is not likely. >> evan, you spent so much time in north korea. it wasn't just a tour around. you talked to a lot of officials. how do you think they view what is going on? and do you agree with general ca cartwright that they will not -- he will not go to war? >> well, by the standards of dictatorship, kim jong-un is extraordinary worried about personal criticism. probably because here a younger leader. until recently, the north korean officials had told me they were aware of the fact that president trump had not personalized this dispute. they thought that meant there was an opportunity, a possibility for diplomatic negotiation. the risk of personalizing it
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is that it suggests to the north koreans that that may no longer be possible. >> would you also think he would test a hydrogen bomb? >> i think he's indicated he is willing to do extraordinarily provocative things. and i think we need to be prepared for that. >> and let me ask you. i asked secretary mnuchin about it. he said he wouldn't talk about it. if they do that, there's very serious consequences to something like that. we haven't done an atmospheric test in decades. how would we respond? it would have to be militarily, wouldn't it? >> guessing what we would do in the future is hard. but i think the time right now should be spent on declaring exactly what is unacceptable behavior. you're not going to fly over japan. not going to fly over south korea. >> so he's doing the right thing? >> you have to declare those things to make sure people understand. when we first started with the north koreans, they were launching over the top of japan. we said, one, you have to tell us when you're going to unch.
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two, you have to tell us where that's going to go and what areas it's going to come down in. they, over time, came to that. two or three launches before they got the idea. we have to start now to declare that space. if we don't, then it's very difficult as you get further down the road, if we act, how will it be interpreted? we don't know. >> how we view each other is a problem. we don't know. >> there's a tremendous gap in perception between the two sides. if there's one lesson i took away from the trip, as much as we don't understand what kim jong-un does, the north koreans don't understand president trump. we have low-level back-channel communication at the moment. there's a strong view on the national security community we're ready to have some kind of engagement. >> thank you both so much. fantastic article, evan. when we come back, republicans are making another attempt to repeal and replace
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replace obamacare. with senator mccain's announcement friday that he can't support the latest gop proposal, does it still have a chance? let's go to the co-authors of the bill, louisiana senator bill cassidy, and south carolina senator lindsey graham. senator graham, let's start with you. this bill is seen at the gop's last attempt to get something done on health care before the september 30th deadline. your good friend, senator mccain said he won't vote for the bill. you have said the fight is not
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over. how can you make this happen in the little time you have? >> well, number one, the only way you know how people will vote is to vote. we thought we had the votes last time. we didn't. it's not about our friendship. i love john mccain. he's an american hero and my dear friend. i just disagree with him here. my state had a 31% premium increase against obamacare. if we don't repeal and replace, it's a disaster for south carolina. and arizona. john talks about a bipartisan process. i'm a bipartisan guy. i have come to conclude obamacare is a placeholder for berniecare in the democratic world. the best you could hope for is to prop up obamacare. because they're moving toward berniecare. so there's no process. there is not a snowball's chance in hillebend, arizona, as john would say, that chuck schumer can do anything to change obamacare. >> is there a snowball's chance
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your bill will pass? >> yeah, there is. i think maine, susan collins is a great senator. they get a 42% increase. the governor of arizona has come out for this bill. rand paul objects to the taxes. when you look at the bill, we save a lot of money over time for medicaid. we put a cap on obamacare growth. we make it more affordable, more flexible. more sustainable. i think senator's paul associated health plan married up with our bill changes health care. yes, we're moving forward. we'll see what happens next week. i'm very excited about it. we finally found an alternative to obamacare that makes sense. take the money and power out of washington. the same amount of money we would have spent on obamacare and let states design systems. because if you keep replicating obamacare, you get the same outcome. flexibility and innovation is what we're seeking. >> senator cassidy. let's get down to this? a little more detail. senator graham mentioned susan collins. whose vote you're trying to get said she's reading the fine print and says it doesn't
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protect people with pre-existing conditions. you have the same argument from jimmy kimmel because the premiums could be so high that it wouldn't be affordable. how is this someone who is going to come around? >> one, that's absolutely incorrect. president trump said he will not sign a bill that doesn't protect those with pre-existing conditions. i'm a physician who worked in a public hospital for 25 years caring for those with pre-existing conditions. if a state wishes to do something different, they must first establish that those with pre-existing conditions have access to affordable and adequate coverage. two things more. affordable, how do you define it? people ask. it means able to afford. now, contrast that with status quo. if you're not getting subsidies right now on the exchanges, your premiums with dedikt ductables can be -- >> how is that decided, who can afford it? how is that decided?
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that's what is missing in the bill. what is adequate and affordable care? that's what people are complaining about. >> if i may, we have under status quo, a family with a child with pre-existing conditions is paying $32,000 a year. now, that's not affordable. we're being compared to somebody with a premium plus deductible approaching $40,000. if i were to so tay iu,yo'm going to go buy a car that i can afford. you would have a good sense of what it is. so we give the states the latitude to establish, it may be someone who is a millionaire would pay a little bit more. and someone who is lower income would pay a little bit less. >> do you really know this? do you really know this? you don't have a full cbo report. that's a complaint as well. how do you know? >> if you're speaking of the language that it has to have access to adequate and affordable health care, that's not related to the cbo. that's contrasting with the status quo in which people are
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paying $30,000 to $40,000 out of pocket. >> and yet, you still have the vagueness of that. i want to go back to senator graham. quite an extraordinary statement from major physician, hospital, insurance groups yesterday, including blue cross, blue shield. while we sometimes disagree on important issues in health care, we are in total agreement that americans deserve a stable health care market that provides access to high-quality care and affordable coverage for all. the graham-cassidy-heller-johnson bill does not move us closer to that goal. quite an extraordinary statement. >> it's extraordinary that the insurance companies would willingly allow that money to be given to state governments to design new and innovative systems. the fact that insurance companies are objecting to the fact that they no longer get payments directly from the federal government. the same amount of money goes to states to let up new health care
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systems that won't fail doesn't surprise me. i would have been surprised if these people were for our bill because we take money away from them, give to it state governments to design systems that will deliver a better outcome. let me just say this. if we move the money and power out of washington and don't allow flexibility, we require the states to do what obamacare is doing, how can you get a different result? this system is collapsing all over the place. the big winners are hospitals and people that get direct payments from the government. i want to take that block of money, give it to governors at the state level. if you don't like what you get under obamacare who do you complain to? under our bill, if you don't like the health care you're receiving, complain to your state house member, to your governor, who cares about you, because they want your vote. i raised -- >> if this fails, what will you tell people about yo promise to repeal and replace obamacare? >> that's a gre question. that i did everything i could to get money and power out of washington to give you better
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health care closer to where you live. and i'm not going to stop fighting. i'm on the budget condition. committee. ron johnson is on the budget committee. we're not going to vote for a budget resolution that doesn't allow the health care debate to continue. i thing we'll get the votes next week. we're using the exact same process the democrats did to pass obamacare. they complained about a process they used. they're never going to give in to changing obamacare. they're going to single payer health care. there is no bipartisan solution to health care that changes obamacare because they're a stakeholder single payer health care. here's what i'm telling republicans and everybody in the middle. >> we have to speed this up. >> if they did to pass it. the fight goes on is a fight worth having. >> thank you very much to both of you. >> thank you. let's turn to bernard j. tyson, chair and ceo of kaiser permanente. who came forward this week to oppose the graham/cassidy bill. good morning, mr. tyson. >> good morning.
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>> you just heard the senators. they are not going to say this bill is going down. but it is on life support, if anything. you're ceo of a nonprofit health system that serves almost 12 million americans. where do we go from here? >> i think prior to this bill being proposed, there was a bipartisan committee looking at what it takes to stabilize the affordable care act. i actually testified before this group. i met with many of the senators. i believe they're on the right track to come up with few answers that will help to stabilize the current law. >> what is the single most important thing congress can do to stabilize obamacare? >> reach a consensus to stabilize and create a more competitive marketplace. one is the cost re -- sharing reduction the csc. you have probably heard a lot about. it needs to be funded. number two is to provide the state with additional guexibility while maintaining
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to protect the interests of the consumer. >> you have spoken to the president. as you have said, you testified before congress. you do seem to have faith they can work this out somehow eventually. >> absolutely. i mean, the affordable care act is not perfect. it is moving in the right direction. this is about providing coverage for the -- all americans of the front door of the american health care system. we have 20-plus million more covered because of the aca. it's the biggest piece of law passed for health care since medicare and medicaid of 1965. it took years for those programs to be stabilized. it will take years for this to be stabilized. there's a few things that could happen to create the competitive marketplace. to get the insurance, other insurance companies back into the market if they did a couple of things to the existing laws, that will help. >> just finally, and quickly, if you can. your reaction to what the
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senators said about their bill with pre-existing conditions and adequate and affordable. >> prior to the aca, insurance companies could exclude people individuals who have pre-existing conditions. and/or, if they provided coverage, it was so expensive. one important point that was made this morning that i want everybody to pay attention to. there's a difference between having access to coverage versus access to care. so, one might be able to afford access to coverage. but with the deductibles and all the additional costs to access care, that person could have coverage but still can't afford to get the care. the affordable care act was intended to bridge the gap between those two issues that happens inside of the industry. >> thank you so much for joining us this morning, mr. tyson. we appreciate your point of view. >> thank you. coming up, the powerhouse "roundtable." with the inside story on the battle over health care. and next week's key senate race in alabama. we'll be right back. powerhouse "roundtable." and next week's key senate race
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that was the scene just moments ago at this morning's
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first nfl game in london. members of the jaguars and ravens, players, coaches, even a team owner, linking arms and taking a knee during the national anthem in response to president trump. we're joined by our powerhouse "roundtable." to talk about all of that. abc news congressional correspondent mary bruce, abc news senior white house correspondent cecilia vega. and jake sherman and anna palmer, co-authors of politico "playbook" news letter. cecilia, i saw you watching that scene. what are they thinking in the white house? >> i can tell you. you just got off the phone from someone in the white house. they feel like most americans will side with the president on -- in that most americans they say want to see people stand during the national anthem. so i think in some way, they will try to say behind the scenes that this is helping him.
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i have to say, here we are. once a.inga the wake of charlot. and the president of the united states has yet again inserted t being a very horribly ugly discussion about race in the country. this is not about players versus the president. this is about race in the united states of america. and i think a lot of people, particularly minorities in the country, are going to hear what the president has said and see this as a very, very divisive tone from this white house. >> and we had secretary mnuchin say free speech, they can have free speech on their own time. >> i think that's fair. but i think what a lot of people on capitol hill think is that the senate is trying to pa-- th president is trying to pass a health care bill. tax care reform. a senate race in alabama. he's elevating something that would have been confined to people's sunday watching habits
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while drinking beer and eating bad food. and he's made this into a big national issue. he didn't have to do that. >> a distraction. really, i mean, once again, the president distracting from what is probably going to be a really bad week for him. >> and doubling down. the third day in a row he's tweeting about that, commenting on that. mary, the president's approval is lowest of any president at the eight-month mark. slightly up. 39% in our poll say they approve of the job president trump is doing. that's just up from july. you cover congress. what is he going to do with that? >> that's a good question. where does he go from here? everyone on capitol hill, republicans and democrats, are well aware of that number. as jake and anna are mentioning, they're hitting nine months into the administration without a single major legislative achievement. republicans are trying their hardest to finally get one on the books. it's not looking very likely this morning. it comes as the president again is trying to distract. is trying to veer the national conversation back into this conversation about race, intolerance, politics, sports. >> do you think he did that on purpose?
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in alabama, i'm going to take on race. i'm going to turn the conversation back to that? >> he knew what audience he was speaking to. >> the base, the base, the base. >> the base, the base, the base. he goes and elevates it. now the conversation will continue and continue to dominate on capitol hill when they want to be talking about other things. >> i totally agree. but i'm told, he went into the speech on friday, and there was language in it about the nfl. he went and said a lot more than what was in the speech originally. so he knew that he was going to do this. but i have to say, one of the numbers that jumps out at me in the poll is this idea that he's maxing out on his base. they're hitting a peak here. they're hitting their cap. the number of people who support this president dwindles in comparison to the strong critics he's got out there. 48% to 26%. he can reach out to the base. but how much further can he go with that? >> there's a positive number. 65% approve of the deal the president made with democrats on
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hurricane funding and raising the national debt ceiling. does he seize that kind of number and go with that and try to get beyond the base? clearly hasn't done that in the last few days. >> i think the question is, can they find an immigration deal to be cut? just because the democrats will cut some deals with him when it's advantageous to them, i wouldn't expect chuck schumer and nancy pelosi saying, let's hold arms together, kumbaya moment. >> and let's talk about health care. senators graham and cassidy talked about it. very optimistically. do you think it's all but dead? >> yes, i do. i mean, i don't want to -- >> thank you for the short answer, jake. >> yeah. >> i think we can take a poll right here. >> anything could happen. there are senate republicans and we have put this in this morning's "playbook," that are
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more optimistic to get it on the floor and get a process that would pass the bill. i think it's difficult. three or four people have objections to core elements of the bill. senator mccain, murkowski, noncommittal. senator collins. they oppose the guts of the bill. it's not like we'll change a few things here and there and get it through. >> so many republicans just want to move on from health care to tax reform. something else. health care is a loser issue for them. they're not going to be able to figure it out. >> this was the major promise for seven years. repeal and replace obamacare. what happens to the republicans if this goes down? >> if it does. we think the chances are high, they still have to get something done. and, it seems most likely at the end of the week, they could be where they were two weeks ago, heading toward some kind of bipartisan fix. both sides of the aisle know something has the to be done. then it's a conversation about repairing obamacare, not repealing and replacing. which is their signature promise. a bipartisan effort here is what
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mccain wants. regular order. open hearings. they want to fix the problem and move on to tax reform. >> and i want to move on to another issue. the alabama election. very quickly. cecilia, you were watching the speech. i wasn't sure by the end who he was supporting exactly. luther strange? roy moore? >> he sounded very conflicted, right. he said i might have made a mistake in endorsing this -- in some ways, he's in a weird position. he has his people in his own camp. steve bannon is going to alabama tomorrow to endorse the other candidate that the president is not endorsing. the speech was an hour and 20-plus minutes. it was all over the map. some of it was about the alabama race. the real test for the president is can he sway his base? a lot of people in the room were there to see the president who don't support strange. >> and your take on this, jake and anna. >> i think the big question is
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if luther strange loses, it's a probable for mitch mcconnell. in primaries going into the 018 election that all of a sudden, you'll have conservatives try to go after some of the incumbents and create problems for mitch mcconnell. >> mitch mcconnell will have a problem. >> you can make longer points. >> you were so happy with my brevity. mitch mcconnell will have problems in the capital. roy moore is not a mitch mcconnell person. if he wins, mcconnell has problems keeping the lights on. because this guy doesn't like him. number two i don't -- if i'm mitch mcconnell and paul ryan, i don't want to see what donald trump does if he doesn't get health care through and loses the race in alabama. he could run to democrats again. that's a problem for republicans who have campaigned for years on unified republican governing in washington. going into 2018. the house is in play. the senate could be in play. >> if moore does win, does he become a test? a marker for other republican candidates? he's a staunch christian conservative.
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with some controversial positions, shall we say, especially on same-sex marriage and the like. does every candidate get asked, do you agree with him? not what the republican leadership wants to be facing. >> okay, something the trump administration doesn't want to face heading into 2018 is this yu russia investigation. and, cecilia, this week, special counsel mueller asked the white house for information about meetings the president himself had. how do you view this? what is going on there as far as you can tell? >> at meetings about the president had in the oval office with the russians. there are 13 areas of interest they're seeking information on. look. all we really know at this point is that this tells us that special counsel mueller is -- his line of inquiry is focused on the president and the people closest to him. we still don't know directly that the president is under investigation. but look. i have talked to people in the
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white house about this. none of this is unexpected. everyone in the inner circle is expected to be talked to, interviewed. the fact that they have to hand over documents is zero surprise to them. they're all sort of bracing for it. i have to say, on a week where we're talking about north korea. sorry. alabama, all of these other things, this is the first week in a long time where i remember russia and the investigation was overshadowed by so many other things. much to the happiness of the white house, i'm sure. >> anna. there is that sort of drip, drip, drip of this. it keeps -- maybe under the radar this week quite a bit. but it keeps coming back. >> i think this is just going to be in constant problem for the white house. hurricanes. it gets lower in the news. mueller is aggressively going after this. it's an expectation that indictments could come soon. and as that moves into a serious phase, it will be a problem for this white house. >> thank you all of you for joining us. we'll be right back.
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we'll be right back. we'll be right back after this from our abc stations.
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that's all for us today. thanks for sharing part of your sunday with us. for breaking news alerts, on politics, the white house, and president donald trump, download the abc news app. right now. plus, check out "world news" tonight. and have a great day.
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up next, breaking news in san francisco where police investigate a fatal officer-involved shooting. what officials say led to police opening fire. and the first of what's ing the to be a day full ofer r national anthem following president trump's recent comments. good morning. a live look outside from our sutro tower camera, already in the low 60s in san francisco, oakland and san jose. 71 in santa rosa. how warm will it get? stay tuned. i'
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