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Year Ahead in Congress; New Year Ushers in Strong Economy; Path to Economic Growth; Financial Resolutions for 2018; Trump Changed Late Night. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired January 1, 2018 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Because of Trumpism, the effect on the country, a level of fear, disapproval in the country that you see in his approval rating, that you see in a desire for a generic Democrat to be in control of Congress, and you see because of Trumpism, and all of that implies, Democrats highly energized, highly motivated, feeling the sting of the loss in 2016, not so much with an agenda, but it is a rejection of Trump and of Republicans. And I think that is the venerability in 2018.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So, New Jersey, Alabama, Virginia, those were harbingers in your mind?

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I mean, New Jersey and Alabama were not subtle. I mean those are evidences of a deep wave, motivated Democrats, shocking the world in the case of Alabama.

But I think the two key things to look at are, first of all, the presidential approval. Typically if a president's under 50 percent and you're heading into that first midterms, even his advisers say stay away from the field. You're toxic. You're going to alienate folks. The opposition's more motivated. Being at low 30s, where President Trump is, I mean that's uncharted territory. That's a recipe for a blue wave.

Here's the other factor, though, that shouldn't make Dems too satisfied. The Senate map, even though they only need to win two seats, the Senate map is tough for Democrats. It's much more favorable to Republicans. The Democrats are defending far more seats. Republicans are primarily in deep red states. They're going to have to pull out a couple rabbits out of the hat.

Second thing is, the rigged system of redistricting. You know, we have seen this story over and over again where Democrats can win the popular vote in certain states and still lose the congressional seats 2-1. It's true in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, you could go on and on. SO those are two significant, structural obstacles to a really motivated Democratic electorate. But against that is the spectra of an historically unpopular president.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: One of the untold stories of the last few years have been all of the state seats that Democrats lost. That's where the redistricting gets done. So even though you see the impact on the federal level, it was done at the state level. Those seats mattered even more as it turned out for the Democrats. So, I hear John on the Senate. What about the House?

GREGORY: Well, I think the House is much more vulnerable. You know, you look in states like -- if you look at the exit polling out of Alabama, you see the president, in a state that he won convincingly at about a 48 percent approval, that is dangerous territory because it says that those seats, those districts, counties where he was so strong, that both he's vulnerable and therefore Republicans are vulnerable, who have not really shown much in the way of opposition to Trump or to Trumpism. Those who have bucked the president are usually retiring.


GREGORY: And so what's going to fill that void? You have the specter of Steve Bannon and what he represents in the midterm race. But I think they are much more vulnerable on the House.

I think 2018 is an election year that's about arguing the economy, which is, hey, this president's presiding over a strong economy. He's lowered your taxes. He wants to get you back to work. He wants to get the country going again. Maybe talk of infrastructure.

And Trump is in the position of leading the Republican Party but all the while saying, oh, no, I'm not with them, you know? I mean he'll quickly say, I'm not with those guys --

CUOMO: Right.

GREGORY: If they can't get -- you know, Obamacare repealed and all the rest. So that's where his unique formula is brought to bear this year.

CAMEROTA: I mean 2018 is an election year. Is any year not an election year nowadays?


CAMEROTA: I mean it feels like we're constantly in an election cycle. And on that note, is it too soon to talk about 2020? I mean will we start to see the seeds of who's running in 2020 planted this year in 2018?

AVLON: Of course you will. And this is how it works. People who want to run in 2020 try to distinguish themselves as party leaders in the midterms. I mean that's a historical pattern going way back. You try to show that you're a leader of the party, you can get people across the finish line, raise a lot of money. So the folks who are serious about running for 2020 are going to be playing outsized national roles in the midterm elections for the Democratic Party.

GREGORY: And remember that whatever the administration may want to accomplish legislatively in 2018 will all be filtered through, not just this race, but about 2020. So Democratic opposition will start to play itself out in terms of what 2020 looks like. We'll see who's called into campaign with people who are --

CUOMO: That's a great point. A great tip for people to look for is to see where Democrats are invited.


CUOMO: Because you'll see one of two things. You'll see who's got buzz. You know, who do they want around them.


CUOMO: And who doesn't want them.


CUOMO: Which may be a cross index of somebody else wanting to run in that place too.

AVLON: That's exactly right.

CUOMO: So it's a good thing to watch early on.

GREGORY: And I keep coming back to, look who did well this year, right, in Alabama and Virginia. They were not the Bernie Sanders and the Elizabeth Warren, you know, wing of the party.



GREGORY: They were much more centrist. So when Cory Booker's out there in Alabama very successfully trying to galvanize, you know, liberals, more moderate, as well as African-American voters, you know, is he the one who travels -- well, Kirsten Gillibrand. So there's lots of things.

CAMEROTA: But the Cory Booker thing seemed to work in Alabama.

GREGORY: It did. There's doubt (ph) about it.

CUOMO: Was it him or Barkley?

GREGORY: Yes, right. Well, I mean --

AVLON: Well, I always put money on Sir Charlies.

GREGORY: Yes, yes, I agree.

AVLON: I mean, look, and I know it's a lot for folks choking down their bloody marys this morning to be thinking about 2020, but it's here and you're going to start to see the first signs.

[08:35:02] GREGORY: Well, and it's here also because of how the president will position himself. Donald -- I mean the economy is everything in 2018 and in 2020.


GREGORY: If President Trump can say, look, you -- don't pay attention to any of this other stuff.


GREGORY: If I'm the one who keeps the economy going, he's going to make a strong argument.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I mean, generally that works.

AVLON: It's the economy, stupid.


CAMEROTA: And there you go. And (INAUDIBLE).

AVLON: Again.

CAMEROTA: John Avlon, David Gregory, thank you both very much.

CUOMO: All right, so you just heard the guys talking about how the economy is going to be everything. And we certainly had robust growth at the end of 2017. Will it continue in 2018? Interesting. We talk about the economy. We show you the stock exchange. Is that the real measure? Well, we'll talk about your portfolio at least, next.


CUOMO: You know, you can look at the economy a lot of different ways, but if you want to take jobs, growth of the various markets, you know, you're going to have some of the biggest money topics of last year wind up flying into your face. And the question becomes, well, can you see more of it in 2018? Not a foregone conclusion.

So let's discuss, what does it means for you, what does it mean for us? Chief business correspondent Christine Romans.

CAMEROTA: Good morning. Happy New Year.

CUOMO: You know, you have --


CUOMO: You like to say it. I give you heat for it, but it's true, things don't continue to go up forever. And we have been seeing something that by economic standards is getting close to forever.

[08:40:02] ROMANS: It is a remarkable, remarkable run this economy has had. And you just look at the last year. I mean, look, 2017 was a great first year for President Trump. It really was. It is a continuation of what has been eight or nine years of a remarkable recovery from the depths of despair, quite frankly.

You know, jobs very, very good last year. But they were very good the year before too. And now it's going to be presidential strategies, you guys, presidential policies and what Congress does that's going to take this foundation and propel it into 2018. You could almost argue that it was years of policies of Janet Yellen and central bankers that were driving things and now we're heading into a new period. A new period of tax cuts and a very strong economy and central banks raising interest rates and now it's a new mix.

CAMEROTA: And what about the growth predictions? Some have said they're overly ambitious. What do you think is possible in 2018?

ROMANS: Well, I mean, let's talk first I think about the jobs situation because this is really important, the unemployment rate, right? This has been, I think, the star of 2017 a 4 percent unemployment rate.

Still, there are several million Americans who are of working age who should be working who aren't. So, will President Trump's policies be able to entice those people back into the labor market? Do they have the skills and the education to do that? Will that be the story of 2018?

What I'm also hearing a lot are employers who are not finding workers. Will wages start to rise? Wages have not been rising yet. Now, on the first day of 2018, first working day of 2018, wages will go up in 18 states and some 20 different cities. So wages will be rising, but it won't be the doing of this administration. It will be those states that decided to do that.

CUOMO: Yes, except, you know, it's interesting, as we all know in politics, the second part of what you just said will be this, grr, to Republicans because when they tick up, even though almost to a man and woman they are against raising the minimum wage, they're going to count that in their wages --


CUOMO: Because is it fair to say that wages may be -- if you had to find a criterion, as opposed to criteria, you know, just one thing, wages, and just because they're looking for labor, right, which is true in some areas, is a cross-section to, well, do they find that labor here domestically or do they find it somewhere else, that's when your wage goes up for that part of the population. Is wages going to be the main indicator of 2018?

ROMANS: I think it might be. It really might be. Because if you really do have these worker shortages that companies are complaining about, that would mean supply and demand would mean you have to pay more wages for those who come in.

Now, what some CEOs will tell you that there's an immigration component here too. They want more H1-B visas. They want to allow college kids who study here from broad to be able to stay here and start companies. And that is not necessarily the agenda of the Trump administration and Congress right now.

CAMEROTA: The stock market. Obviously there have been record-breaking days since President Trump took over and he's touted it and there's been a lot of records broken. So give us context. ROMANS: And his supporters have said again and again that, aren't we

lucky to have a businessman running the economy now and not a community organizer or a liberal politician. Well, I'd like to show you what that looks like. The president, Trump, he had his first year up some 20 percent in the stock market. The first year of President Barack Obama was up almost 29 percent. You know, I mean --

CUOMO: Not apples to apples.

ROMANS: Not apples to apples. One was coming out of a crisis, right?

CUOMO: Right.

ROMANS: When you look at the stock market, it has been just unbelievable. So, record after record after record in this year.

But, look, in the context, you guys, I mean this is a run that has been going on for a very long time. We had, I think, seven of the past nine years double digit returns in the stock market. That is an old bull.

So what happens now? You know, it's overdue for a pullback. But you do have macroeconomic winds that are blowing in favor of the economy continuing to grow here and grow solidly.

CUOMO: Resolutions for the new year. What do you want us to do?

ROMANS: I want you to save for college. I want you to live a little below your means. I want you to make sure you're putting away for the future because I don't think a stock market can continue to go up like this forever, quite frankly.

CAMEROTA: How much do you want us to put away for our future?

ROMANS: I want you to be living 70/10/10/10. I want you to live on 70 cents of every dollar. I want you to invest 10. I want you to give 10 cents away to charity. And I want you to put another 10 into savings, 10 cents into savings, so that you have liquid assets.

You know, nine months of your bills that you would be able to access if you have a job loss or a health issue in the year. 70/10/10/10 I think is a fine way to look at it.

I mean if the economy is doing well, and it will be, I think, and if wages slowly start to rise and the stock market's doing well, that's exactly the time to be preparing for the future and not spending beyond your means. I think that's going to be really the story for 2018.

CAMEROTA: What do you want us to splurge on? Can we have any fun?

ROMANS: Well, I like vacations and technology.

CAMEROTA: Oh, vacations and technology.

ROMANS: But whatever it is that you want to splurge on. You had -- it was like a month.

CAMEROTA: I like vacations.

ROMANS: You know, Chris always says I'm tight as two coats of paint. But, it's true. However, I do splurge on vacations.

CAMEROTA: That's great. I like that. This is good advice.

CUOMO: I guarantee you she is not living on 70 cents. Maybe seven. But I'm telling you, I think she's one of those, throw on a sweater if it's cold in here. People, I'm telling you right now, I know Romans.

[08:45:03] CAMEROTA: I know that.

CUOMO: I've read the books.

CAMEROTA: I know that. Hardy Midwesterner. Well, yes, you put on a sweater I'm sure of it.

ROMANS: You know, if you balance your 401(k), you know, this is the perfect time to rebalance your 401(k). Make sure that you have the right mix of risk for your age and for when you're going to retire. This is a perfect time to take stock in your life, in your relationships, and your money.

CAMEROTA: Great advice, Christine. Thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

CAMEROTA: Happy New Year.

ROMANS: You too.

CUOMO: Romans, that was heavy. I've got to rethink everything.

All right, up next, the expanding role of late night TV. It's not just for laughs anymore, right? In 2017, punch lines gave way to just big political punches. Let's take a look ahead to late night in 2018, next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE, ACTOR, "SNL": Hello, Donald. I have arrived.

ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR, "SNL": Hi, Steve. You look rested.


BALDWIN: But not me. I've had a long day. I'm tired and cranky and I feel like I could just freak out on somebody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then maybe you should call Australia.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, ACTOR, "SNL": Earlier this week you said there was a terrorist attack in Atlanta.

MELISSA MCCARTHY, ACTOR, "SNL": Yes, I said that wrong when I said it. And then you wrote it, which makes you wrong.


CAMEROTA: I miss her. Oh, my gosh. "Saturday Night Live" spent 2017 skewering President Trump and his administration, as you know. And they were not the only ones.

Joining us now, CNN's senior media correspondent and host of "Reliable Sources," Brian Stelter. Also with us is CNN media analyst Bill Carter.

[08:50:05] I miss Melissa McCarthy. She is so good.


CAMEROTA: That's what you said. You're wrong.

CUOMO: I was -- I was wrong when I said it. And then you wrote it. So that makes --

CAMEROTA: And that makes you wrong.

CARTER: You wrong.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, she was so -- I mean that was epic, obviously. We miss her.

And "SNL" really -- look, they've been finding their groove for a long time now but they really came into their own this year.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: It's as if the campaign has never ended. You know, that's the reality about these shows. We're 13 months since an Election Day and yet these shows, these late night shows, "SNL" and also all the daily late night shows, they're still performing, acting like it is an election, which it kind of is. We're sort of in a permanent campaign. And just as the country's more polarized than ever, these shows are more polarized than ever.

CARTER: Here's an interesting thing. Lorne Michaels said to me years ago that he would only do real political satire in an election year because that's the only time the audience was really paying attention.


CARTER: Especially younger people. And that's over with now because --


CARTER: They're paying complete attention now and it's going to continue.

CUOMO: Well, I think that, look, he was right then.

STELTER: Right. Right.

CUOMO: But also, you've got to remember, Lorne Michaels, some may not know this, he's not just "SNL." He's Seth Meyers and he's "The Tonight Show."

CARTER: Seth Meyers and Jimmy Fallon. Yes.

CUOMO: So, you know, he's got -- he's got his irons in there.

Now, what do you think about in the year ahead? There's no reason to believe anything changes in terms of our political culture and the dialogue that's going on. What are the variables in terms of what late night TV brings in this year?

STELTER: I think this is an open question about whether this is starting to get tiring, meaning, these comedians, whether it's Stephen Colbert or Seth Meyers, they have, at this point, six months ago said President Trump should step down, he should resign. These comedians have gone so far, so early on in the Trump presidency, it makes you wonder if they can keep it up and if the audience wants them to.

CAMEROTA: But is there any evidence -- is there any evidence in the ratings that people are tiring of it?

STELTER: So far I don't see much.


CARTER: I don't see any. In fact, Colbert has only risen as he's adapted -- adopted it. Since Jimmy Kimmel, when he got personally involved with --

CAMEROTA: We have this moment. Let's remind everybody of what he did.

CARTER: Right.

CAMEROTA: I mean he totally pivoted from comedy to a really personal story about health care.

CARTER: Absolutely.

CAMEROTA: So listen to this.


JIMMY KIMMEL, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": If your baby is going to die and it doesn't have to, it shouldn't matter how much money you make. I think that's something that whether you're a Republican or a Democrat or something else, we all agree on that, right?


CAMEROTA: This was about getting rid of the Affordable Care Act. And, look, who would have ever predicted that a late night comic would become the voice of health care. CARTER: Yes. He had genuine impact because that was real. And I don't think anybody would -- people did criticize him because they criticize everybody.


CARTER: But, look, that was real and heartfelt and he has taken more stands because of that. And I think he's out there now. He's not going to back down. I think he's really committed.

STELTER: So when you have these shows with this anti-Trump messaging every single night, you think about the impact of pop culture, broadly and in late night specifically, it makes you wonder, there's 59, 60 percent of the country that disapproves of President Trump after one year, is there any way that number changes, you know, or are these shows part of the -- you know, kind of the solidification of his disapproval numbers? Is there any way that he can regain ground if every single night Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel and Seth Meyers are making fun of him?

CARTER: It's a great question because they've sort of established their view. Their view is this guy --

STELTER: Right, I don't think they're changing.

CARTER: This guy is the enemy and he's a buffoon and they are not going to back off, I don't think.

CUOMO: You know, something that I noticed, maybe I'm wrong, but John Oliver had made a little bit of a name for himself and then there was a fade. Is that because the daily became more -- "SNL's" a cultural institution.

CARTER: Totally. Yes.

CUOMO: But do you think that this is such a --

CARTER: Absolutely.

CUOMO: Fast cycle.

CARTER: Yes, absolutely.

Now, John Oliver did win the Emmy. So it's not like he's totally faded. But I think you're right, we only do it once a week. And Samantha Bee is in the same category. You have to choose your battles a little differently. These guys go after the news. I mean I saw Colbert recently. He said, they change their show on the fly so often because there's news happening at 4:00, 5:00 in the afternoon.

CUOMO: Is she in the same category? I don't -- she doesn't pop to mind for me in terms of the people who are making a difference.

CARTER: Oh -- oh, no.

CAMEROTA: In terms of a viral sensation, hers also become viral the way John Oliver is still, I think.

CARTER: And she's the voice of women in this -- in this issue.

STELTER: Yes. And there's no show -- no show that's taken a different tack, right? You would think there would be space for a red America, red state conservative view of the news, a comedic view at the end of the night, but there's not. There hasn't been. I wonder if it's (INAUDIBLE) ground.

CUOMO: Colbert doesn't even think about using his parody character any more.

CARTER: Yes, right. Well, the thing is --

STELTER: In fact, Colbert has a comedic version in the works. You know, Showtime in February --


STELTER: Is going to come out with an animated President Trump spoof that Colbert is working on.


STELTER: So we're actually going to see even more of these shows this year.

CARTER: The point is, there are no real comedy writers that have a different point of view.


CARTER: That's one of the big problems. It's really -- the world of entertainment is a left center world. And that's why most of these shows are going to be that way. Even Jimmy Fallon --

STELTER: And Alec Baldwin's still employed, right? I didn't think Alec Baldwin would still be playing President Trump --

CARTER: Right.

STELTER: Eighteen months after he started on "SNL."

CARTER: And Jimmy Fallon, of course, is the guy who has tried to play the middle, because that's his style, and he got into trouble because he was too soft on Trump. And a lot of people have not forgiven him for that. I -- I sort of praised a bit he did where he was Springsteen and he did a very funny parody, Robert Mueller's coming to town. And it was very well done. But on Twitter people attacked him for that saying it's too little too late. You can't go after Trump now.

[08:55:09] STELTER: Colbert is the real break-out star of 2017 --


STELTER: In terms of the ratings, in terms of late night, Colbert is head and shoulders among the rest of these comics. A man who might have found his show fading away in a Hillary Clinton presidency has broken through.

CARTER: That's right.

CUOMO: But, remember, they also have it easy with Trump because of what you're saying, about the culture that they're playing to and against. You know, there was a time when political comedy was always dangerous, you know, and you think about Lenny Bruce.


CUOMO: Even in Carlin (ph) where people took chances and they paid the price. You know, there was a -- there was an in and an out to provocation. They play safe these days more than they don't.

CARTER: But you know what, if you don't take chances now, you're going to -- I mean Fallon's not taking chances and he's taken heat for that. I think that -- the audience is expecting a certain amount of edge in this comedy because the audience is on edge. I think that's one of the factors. Everybody wakes up every day and doesn't know what's going to happen in this world, in this universe, and they've turn on the comedy every night and they -- it's satisfying.

CUOMO: You don't need to tell us.


CUOMO: We're right here on the front lines, Bill --

STELTER: That's right.

CUOMO: Every damn day.

STELTER: That's right.

CAMEROTA: Bill Carter, Brian Stelter, thank you. Happy New Year.

STELTER: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, thank you so much for spending your New Year's morning with us. We hope you have a great 2018 and I hope you sleep off whatever you did last night.

CAMEROTA: Great suggestion. Thank you for spending so much of 2017 with us. And we look forward to 2018 with you as well.

CNN "NEWSROOM" picks up after this very quick break.

Happy New Year.