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Gary Cohn, National Economic Council Director, speaks to "CBS This Morning": Full transcript

Gary Cohn, Trump economic adviser
The Democrat behind Trump's tax plan 04:55

National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn revealed President Trump's tax plan last week along with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Cohn, a Democrat and the former COO of Goldman Sachs, said the president "wants to hear everyone's opinion," and discussed the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.

CHARLIE ROSE: President Trump's tax reform plan was unveiled by Treasury Secretary of State Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn. He is a registered Democrat and a former president and Chief Operating Officer of Goldman Sachs. Good morning.

GARY COHN: Good morning. Thanks for having me.

CHARLIE ROSE: Do you have the votes for health care?

GARY COHN: Do we have the votes for health care? I think we do. This is going to be a great week. We're going to get health care down to the floor of the House. We're convinced we've got the votes. And we're going to keep moving on with our agenda. As you said, we just rolled out our tax plan last week. We're very excited about our tax plan as well. So we're going continue to drive President Trump's agenda forward.

CHARLIE ROSE: But you rolled it out with one page. I mean, when will we see the details and-- and the remainder of it, so we'll have some sense-- between cuts and where the revenue might be increased?

GARY COHN: So, Charlie, as you said, we did roll it out with one page. And we rolled it out with one page for a -- for a specific reason. We want to get an enormous amount of input before we draft the final bill. When we deliver the final bill, we are going to have a bill that is bought into by the House and the Senate.

You've just been talking about how difficult it is to get things through Congress. We understand how difficult it is to get things through Congress. We were talking about how it's designed to be difficult. We understand that. We're going make this tax bill work. And the way to make the tax bill work is to work with Congress before we draft the bill. And that's exactly what we're going do.

GAYLE KING: Right now there seems to be a lot of conversation about how it's very helpful to the wealthy but what about the middle class, Gary?

GARY COHN: This is a middle class tax bill. It's--


GARY COHN: --a middle- and lower-class tax bill. That's exactly what it's designed. I-- I really am confused why people don't understand what we're doing here. If you look at what we've done, we've doubled the personal exemption in this bill. We've taken the personal exemption for a family of two to $24,000.

The median income in the United States today is somewhere between 56 and-- about $56,000. You take the $24,000 away from the $56,000, you've got taxable income of $32,000. At a 10% rate that's $3,000 of tax. If you have one or two or three children and we give you $1,000 tax credit, you could end up with a-- you know, very marginal, single-digit tax rate to no taxes whatsoever. That, to me, is a middle-income tax cut because you're going to owe no taxes potentially.

GAYLE KING: But you're also eliminating the estate tax.

GARY COHN: We are. But we're also eliminating deductions. We're eliminating the deductions that were added to the-- the tax legislation over years to favor the wealthy. The wealthy have deductions. Middle-income people and lower-income people don't have deductions. Wealthy people have deductions. So we're going make wealthier people pay taxes on a much broader slough of their income.

NORAH O'DONNELL: And will it be revenue neutral or are you comfortable adding to the deficit in the short-term in order to increase--

GARY COHN: So as--

NORAH O'DONNELL: --growth?

GARY COHN: --as I said, we're working with the House, we're working with the Senate. We had a great meeting with the leadership last week. We are going go through the tax plan in its entirety. We don't know what it's going to score yet because we're going to work on very specific details. We're going to eliminate as many of the deductions as we can. We think we're going to get them all out. If we get them all out, I'm pretty positive this is going score quite favorably.

CHARLIE ROSE: You believe you can make it up by simply eliminating deductions? The-- the giant ball-- difference between the tax cuts and what you need to make up for them, you can do that with deductions?

GARY COHN: We can broaden the base significantly. So we're going to tax a lot more revenue and a lot more income. But we're going to tax at a lower rate. Instead of taxing at a high rate but subtracting a lot to get to the taxable income we're going to tax a much bigger number at a smaller rate. Yes, we believe we can make that work.

GAYLE KING: What's it like for you, Gary Cohn, what's a nice registered Democrat boy doing working in a Republican administration?

CHARLIE ROSE: Who worked for Goldman Sachs.

GAYLE KING: Yeah, who worked for Goldman Sachs.

GARY COHN: I'm working here to drive the president's agenda, to make America better for all Americans.

GAYLE KING: I know that, but what's it like for you personally? Are you enjoying this job that we hear reports about warring factions within the White House? It's "Game of Thrones," it's "House of Cards," it's them versus us. Really tell us what it's like for you.

GARY COHN: Look, I came from a very team-oriented environment. The White House is no different. We're a team-oriented environment. The president has put together a phenomenal team of advisers. The president likes lots of different opinions which is the exact way I-- I have worked my entire life. I'm used to working in an organization where people are allowed to and encouraged to express their opinions and express their views.

GAYLE KING: So disagreement is good?

GARY COHN: Disagreement is good. This White House is no different. The president wants to hear everyone's opinion. He wants to hear both the pros and cons of every decision. And he encourages that. And I'm very comfortable in that situation.

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