tv Washington Week PBS November 4, 2017 1:30am-2:01am PDT
>> taxes, terrorism and widening russia probe. we tackle it all tonight on "washington week" >> we are about to begin a long trip. as president trump embarks on a high stakes trips political battles brew at home over tax reform. >> with there plan we are getting rid of loopholes and leveling the playing field. >> what is important to know about what they are doing is what they give you with one hand they take away with the other. >> this as the russia investigation intensifies. with the first indictments, a guilty plea from a former trump campaign advisor and new questions about the attorney general's congressional testimony. >> you don't believe that surrogates from the trump campaign had communications with
the russians? is into what you are saying. >> i did not and i'm not aware of anyone else that did and i don't believe it handled. >> but court documents and a photo tell a different story. we will get insight and nels from kelsey snell, philip rucker, jeff begay and jim tankersley of "new york times." celebrating 50 years, this is "washington week" funding is provided by -- >> their leadership is acti active. they understand challenges of today and research the technologies of tomorrow. some call them veterans. we call them part of our team.
>> additional fund something provided by -- >> newman's own foundation give all profits of newman's own food products to charity and nourishing the common good. the ethics and excellence journalism foundation. koo and patricia yuen through the yuen foundation committing to bridging cultural differences in our communities. the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs from viewers like you. thank you. once again live from washington. >> republicans rolled out the plan to overhaul the way every american pays taxes this week. they says business friendly proposal will make companies more competitive and simplify the tax filing process. among the key provisions lowering the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%.
reducing the number of tax brackets from 7 to 4, doubling the standard deduction and protecting 401-k savings plans. the g.o.p. plan would also eliminate the alternative minimum tax, deductions for student loans and medical expenses and it would tap mortgage deductions on new home purchases at $500,000. the chief author i asked why he thinks it will achieve the growth and higher wages the bush tax cuts promised but didn't deliver. >> it is a complete redesign of the code. we are not just putting higher octane fuel in an auold clunkerf a tax car. we will drive a newer tax car to compete and win against any country. >> jim, i'm starting with you because you have been relentl s relentlessly crunches the numbers.
should a middle class familiar like there or not? >> no, middle class family has a lot to like and some things to worry about. depending what type of class family you may see tax cut or increase. so if you are a middle class family that takes the standard deduction you probably get a tags cut with lower rates and have a higher standard deduction. if you itemize and have high medical costs or live on the coast in a very expensive housing area and pay a lot of local income and sales taxes you may see a tax increase because they will be capped or could go away. >> when republicans say the average family will have an extra $1,100 at the end of the year is that an accurate representation? >> for the typical family the republicans talked about that is true. that family would see an additional $1,100 the next year from lower taxes. interesting note by that family.
because of the way some of the debts of the middle cast end that family after five years would have higher taxes than they would today. >> they would be left hoping that the tax cuts get we -- reinstated. >> there is part of the problem republicans have. it can only lose so much money in terms of revenue but they have chosen to keep the corporate side permanent and that particular provision for the middle class to be temporary. so, by making that choice they are opening up the possibility that taxes could go up on those families. >> kelsey, republicans believe that this plan would cost about $1.5 trillion the next 10 years ago. what are the prospects in the house? there are a handful republicans who don't like the change to mortgage deductions. are there enough to slow down its progress? >> i think that if this has a good chance of passing in the
howls. they are going to start doing more work on the committee level at house ways and means will take it up monday tfrlt should take three, four, maybe five days to get done and after that they will send it to the house floor. there are some skeptical republicans but they are by and large in favor of a tax plan. it is something they have been promising and they are eager to pass this and say they have a legislative achievement that not only satisfies something that the president wants to do but take it home and say to the people who vote i'm cutting your taxes. i have seen republicans giddy just because they finally managed to produce a tax plan which is not as easy as it sounds. >> it is hard. part of the reason is that writing a comprehensive tax plan means getting rid of things like the state and local tax deduction or deduction for mortgage interest and that is when you have the lobbyists and people who are advocating for these popular tax breaks
throwing up their hand saying you cannot do that. it will ruin the economy. i think that you are still going to see a lot of that. >> easy to cut, not easy to raise revenue. it must not have been an accident republicans revealed this one day before the president left on a 12-day asian trip. >> they. he can be helpful as this salesman out in the country touting a plan as big, historic and amazing tax cuts but he is not that helpful on the nitty-gritty of policy details and particularly when it is with the senate and it is a more difficult hurdle. there are a lot of tensions between the president and key republican senators including bob corker so his absence can potentially be helpful in the sausage making process. >> although they are considering one of his suggestions which is putting the repeal of the individual mandate from obama care into this tax plan.
what does that do the politics and to healthcare? >> i think they are considering it maybe not as seriously as they are considering other changes. it is a really difficult political issue because it would alienate a lot of people who voted against the healthcare bill and brings in this relitigating things that were nasty for the republican party for the first part of the year. it would help on the math equation of making the tax cuts fit these rules saying you can only lose $1.5 trillion over the 10-year span but the politics are too huge, i think. >> what it would do is give democrats and other opponents of the bill a victim, a face of people who are in fact being hurt by this policy. that is a big thing that tripped republicans up in healthcare the democrats could point to this person loses coverage and if you have million of that as a weapon for democrats that opens bunch
of arguments you might not have. >> is health such an open wound the failure they had on health care i don't think they really are comfortable -- they have not figured out that solution or they would have passed a bill and to redo it is not what anyone wants. >> it is interesting that democrats have been a little listless in fighting against this tax plan. you don't see the same passion you saw when it came to healthcare. is that because it is harder to rail against something that is going to save a lot of people money? >> i think so and you are not taking an entitlement from people like healthcare efforts to repeal obama care and the democrats have struggled to come up with a clear message about the tax bill. you hurried chuck schumer say it is like a dead fish when it is out in the sunlight it will stink but i don't know that that works. you don't see the energy. maybe you will in a few weeks. it's not there now. >> didn't elizabeth warren say
this is a tax break for rich republican donors? is that a line of attack. >> one of them. >> another thing is they will seize on individual provisions library the mortgage interest de-- like the mortgage interest deduction is you could see democrats try to make pay with. definitely student loans you will see democrats harp on that. and medical expenses that is a thing that i'm already hearing from a lot of democrats they are raising their most concerns over. >> republics are calling it a middle class tax cult but the permanent cuts are all on the business side. >> i would say the funny thing about that is yes they are all on the corporate side but democrats generally agree that the corporate rate is kind of high and would like it reduced so it is hard to fight against that and it is hard to see a situation where congress will say in five years they will get rid of a tax break because the
flip side of cutting somebody's taxes is raising somebody's taxes and the moment they say we are not going to keep there tax break they are going to raise your taxes and congress hates that. >> practical question. will you be able in fact to do your taxes on a postcard? >> i think for some people you will be able to, sure. many of those people could do them on a postcard now. the tax form was the size of a postcard but i think that you will have more people who are just taking the standard deduction and deciding to do that in the more simple way. that said, if you are a business it is going to get harder to do your taxes. there are more complicated things if you own your own small bills, you might get breaks, it might not. it is very complicated. >> i heard it described as a gift to tags attorneys and c.p.a.'s. >> how does the white house see the president's role when it complements to tax reform and -- comes to tax reform and do they
think he is filling that? >> he's been pretty involved but not in terms of crafting policy specifically. he's been more helpful it trying to bring certain senators to the table to soothe their attentions with others. he's been out golfing with lindsey graham and rand paul both of them have been critics of trump in the past but he is trying to build camaraderie and talk about taxes and repair some relations on the hill. then he claims to hit the road you saw him describe it as a big christmas present. i think we will hair that again and again -- hear that again and again and he will be doing raleighs. -- ramsey. >> the republicans say they are fulfilling a promise but there has not been a clamor for tax cuts and especially corporate tax cuts. >> i went to a barber shop and you are probably wondering why.
>> excellent. >> i didn't crunch the numbers but i talked to a barber. i wanted to get a sense of what he was feeling about there tax plan -- this tax plan and he was skeptical. will it make a difference in my life of $1,100. and by the way i don't trust congress to do the right thing for the american people so this guy i talked to seemed skeptical. >> you have already got republican senators saying they have got their own ideas when the bill gets over there so we could have the same situation that we had with health care where the house passes it and senate says we are ripping it up and starting over? >> absolutely. they are not ripping it up but start interesting a similar starting place as the house but they are going in their own direction. i think the business side will probably stay largely the same but the individual side i just don't know how the senate will
accept many of those things particularly mortgage interest deduction, student loans. >> the other issue that will be big in the senate we have not talked about yet is debt. the senate -- republicans have been saying stpeults adeficits have held back the economy. they are authorizing $1.5 trillion although they say it will be smaller because the economy will grow faster but most projections do not say it will grow fast enough to pay for itself and you have fiscal hawks, bob corker, john mccain and you could see them insisting on scaling it back to make it more fiscally conservative. >> i don't know if you heard this but i talked to people who think it could cost more than the $1.5 trillion because of some of the budget game in this case and way the taxes would be used so how much more debt are
these fiscal hawks willing to put up with. i want to switch gears and talk about another big story this week, russia. on friday the president began a critical 12-day trip to asia where the main focus is on the rising nuclear threat from north korea and on trade. but all week the trip has been overshadowed by the russia probe and special counsel robert mueller's indictment of two former trump campaign officials including former campaign chairman paul paul man for the but it is the guilty play by george papadopoulos. the 30-year-old pleaded guilty to lying to f.b.i. and is reportedly cooperating with investigators. a trump campaign photo shows that papadopoulos was part of a march 2016 national security meeting with then candidate trump and jeff sessions. according to court documents it was there that papadopoulos pitched the idea of a meeting
between russian president putin and mr. trump and trump combine advisor who is in the photo confirmed the discussion. attorney general sessions never is disclosed that conversation during multiple congressional hearings and as president trump spent the week distancing himself from the indictments as dismissing papadopoulos as a low level volunteer. jeff, you have been laser focused on this all week long. today you reported that there is a new climate of fear at the end of this week in the president trump orbit. explain what you mean. >> i'm so impressed that papadopoulos was rolling off your tongue. earlier we were struggling with his name. what happened the last several days since the indictments were unsealed and america learned about george papadopoulos is that there are some people who are being scrutinized by the internal counsel's office and i
talked to one who tells me that it is every man for himself. so they are feeling the heat. people who are under scrutiny are feeling the heat and it has become real to them this week with the indictments against paul manafort and rick gates and george papadopoulos popping up. the question is who is next. they are talking about that. i was on the phone with someone who is under scrutiny who said why are you calling me. do you know something i don't know? so they are a little panicked this week. >> is that because they don't know who is cooperating with the f.b.i., who they can trust or can't trust? >> i think there's some of that at play here. this person told me that everyone in the inner circle is possibly a target. and they are wondering who is cooperating or who is not cooperating. so there's a lot of uncertainty but they are definitely feeling the heat. >> at least we got more proof
this week that people in the trump orbit knew about the stolen clinton e-mails well before rest of us and maybe before they were given to wickileaks. but knowing about the e-mails is not the same as colluding. >> that is true. but if you look at the time l e line, and that is what has been so revealing this week, some of this information that george papadopoulos for example was given was well before the democrats came out and announced that we believe we were hacked by the russians. then you have the donald trump jr. meeting again they were offered dirt an hillary clinton and it was before the democrats revealed we had been looked by the russians. so the timetable is interesting and we are learning more about some of the pieces that led up to the release of e-mails and looking at that too, they are looking at the time line trying to figure out where are the gaps here and what was happening around this period that donald trump was out there saying hey, russia, if you are listening,
what was happening around the time the g.o.p. platform was changed as it relates it ukra e ukraine. so, some of these very important moments along that time line in 2016 are now being revealed and some of it to investigators is really starting to come together and make sense. >> you definitely can sense a change of atmosphere, phil, like you reported one white house aide said the walls are closing in and everybody is freaking out. then you reported that the president was angry and consumed by this and he came out and said i'm not angry. >> he actually reported that and called the "new york times" and said he is not mad at anybody. but if you look -- >> his tweets would say that. >> it is hard to conclude other than that this is a frustrated if not angry man. and he consumed this indictment monday morning the way we all did. he didn't know what was coming. he was sitting up in his residence watching cable
television, watching the news waiting for the alerts, calling his lawyers, calling friends. he was upset. he was upset in part because his name was dragged through it and he felt the charges on plan into for the and gates was not related to the campaign. it was about of the joining of the trump orbit but it is a difficult moment for his presidency. >> where does that leave attorney general jeff sessions? >> well there's a possibility they could recall him. they can ask more questions in congress. it is very difficult though because many of the senators have good relationships with him. they like him. he was around for a long time. it is just that it is a tension that they don't know how to handle and i don't think they want to talk about it at this point because they have not figured it out. >> when steve bannon and others say the president should go harder on robert mueller, get
tougher, what do they mean? what can he do beyond tweeting or firing robert mueller? >> bannon is not advocating that the president fire mueller but he is advocating that the white house be more difficult with special counsel. don't provide documentation so freely. erect some obstacles. get allies on capitol hill to really point out what bannon believes are serious vulnerabilities in mueller's background and the team around hill, a lot of people love given to democrats called them out for it and bannon, i talked to him and he said that the congressional republicans are like church mice. that is his phrase. they are not standing up for this president and being tough on mueller. >> although they have agreed it open a couple of investigations into uranium one and the debunked conspiracy theory about hillary clinton and some russian donors mining for uranium here in the u.s.a.
jeff, do you get the sense that the law enforcement community is responding to that frequent suggestion from the president in any way? >> no. and it is funny, last week that was really the talk, right? leading up to this. which sort of got me thinking does the president know that something is coming and somebody is going to be indicted? so, this week, after the indictments were announced you didn't hear about uranium one as were as we did last week. to your question, law enforcement? no, they are focused at least the people i have spoken to about this, they are focused on the russia investigation and there is a lot language around that, so many,tkeufrplg r different legs whether facebook and twitter, whether the obstruction case or coordination. there are a lot of people who have their hands full with that investigation. >> and there's been some political fallout. sam clovis who will been knowledge fluctuated by the president to -- nominated to be
chief scientist but was an aide on the campaign and in these documents was seen to be encouraging papadopoulos to continue communicating with the russians. he withdrew his nomination this week. >> he did. he was scheduled for a hearing for his nomination i believe next week and that would have been turned into a whole russia hearing so he wanted to get out of it. more importantly, he didn't have scientific credentials to do the job. he was nominated to be the chief scientist with no scientific background. he will be staying in the administration as a senior white house advisor at the agriculture department. >> what message was the white house sending when they nominated with no scientific experience to be the chief scientist? >> he is a guy from iowa so maybe they figured he knows farm issues and agriculture. but more importantly he was a loyal advisor on the campaign and this is a government and administration that cares a lot about patronage.
>> jeff, i want to close with a question about some of the swings the president took at the law enforcement community and the judicial system today saying essentially that it is a joke. does this affect the law enforcement officers you talk to? does it bother them or do they ignore it? >> i asked federal law enforcement officials at a gathering last night how they felt about that. i think earlier in the week he said our criminal justice system is a joke. >> a laughing stock. >> laughing stock. so there was that. and that didn't go over well. however, over the last, what, 10 months or so the president has taken other shots at law enforcement. so, i think they are sort of numb to it at this point. >> an interesting rift on that the president had a huge week this week of policy and he spent the end of it not talking about the house tax bill or his appointment to chair the federal
reserve. but instead talking about the criminal justice of democratic issues. he is very, very good and distracting from the policy issues of his own administration. >> thank you so much all of you for joining me tonight. thanks to you our conversation continues on the "washington week" extra. that is later tonight and all weekend at pbs.org/wash week. robert costa will be back next week. have a great weekend. funding for "washington week" is provided by -- >> their leadership is instinct acti of instinctive. they understand the challenges of today.
they research the technologies of tomorrow. some call them veterans. we call them part of our team. additional funding is providing by -- >> newman's own foundation donating all profits from newman's own food products to charity and nourishing the common good. the ethics and excellence in journalism foundation. koo and patricia yuen through the yuen foundation, committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its which is responsible for its caption content an
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