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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT

President Bush Lays Out Space Agenda; Race Tightening in Iowa

Aired January 14, 2004 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, we set a new course for America's space program.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, President Bush lays out a dramatic new vision for manned space flight.

On the campaign trail in Iowa, a tightening race among the leading Democratic presidential candidates.

In "Face-Off," as many as 12 million illegal aliens live in this country. Sharply divided opinions tonight about the president's new immigration proposals.

And in our special report tonight, "America Works," we introduce you to a hotel laundry worker who is proud of her job, as we celebrate Americans working hard.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT for Wednesday, January 14. Here now, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening.

With the State of the Union address now less than a week away, the White House is advancing the issues that will form the bulwark of the president's agenda in this election year and, if reelected, his next term in office. These initiatives come as the president enters his fourth year in the White House. Mr. Bush has already sharply increased spending on domestic programs such as education, transportation and farm subsidies. And he has promised to spend another $40 billion a year on a prescription drug benefit within Medicare.

In his announcement today, the president called for a radical transformation in NASA's goals for manned space flight.

Senior White House correspondent John King reports -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Lou, even those who believe the plan is misguided or would cost far too much money concede, the president did outline an ambitious agenda for the U.S. space program today.

The president did that here in Washington, traveling to NASA's headquarter almost one year after the Columbia shuttle tragedy, Mr. Bush saying the legacy of those astronauts and others who have died must be remembered. But he also said it is critical to set NASA on a new course.

Now, here are some of the highlights of this new proposal the president announced today. He wants to send robotic moon exploration in the year 2008. The president also then wants man to return to the moon, a manned lunar landing. The target is about 2015. That would be the first time man has walked on the moon in more than 30 years.

The president wants to establish a permanent moon base and a launch pad that could be used from there to launch first unmanned exploration of Mars and Jupiter's moons. And the ultimate goal is a manned mission to Mars and beyond, the president said, a target perhaps -- this very tentative -- of the year 2030.

Now, the president outlining all this today. And would require major changes at NASA, first an urgent effort to develop a new space vehicle to carry man back to the moon and beyond, also a retirement of the shuttle fleet after the year 2010, although the president said first the United States would keep its commitment to the International Space Station.

Now, many critics say robots are much less expensive and much more effective in space. The president today made emphatically clear he disagrees.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Mankind is drawn to the heavens for the same reason we were once drawn into unknown lands and across the open sea. We choose to explore space because doing so improves our lives and lifts our national spirit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, the spending priorities in the short term relatively inexpensive. Mr. Bush says you only need to increase NASA's budget, now about $15 billion a year, by $1 billion over the next five years. Much of the new money for exploration would come in shifting money from other NASA programs.

But down the road, if these missions are to go forward, billions and billions more would be needed then. Some Democrats question whether the money is better spent here on Earth on education and infrastructure. And, Lou, some Republicans saying today that perhaps this is a lofty goal. But they say this president to them at least is proving to be anything but a fiscal conservative -- Lou.

DOBBS: John, thank you very much -- John King, senior White House correspondent.

Well, the White House is also considering another major new initiative, this one to promote and to sustain marriage in this country. The initiative would be supported by $1.5 billion of taxpayer money. Bill Tucker reports on the state of marriage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It happens more than two million times a year, marriage. And just about a million of them end up here, in divorce court. Love and marriage may go together like a horse and carriage, but happiness isn't assured.

COURTNEY KNOWLES, EQUALITY IN MARRIAGE INSTITUTE: We like to sometimes call the marriage aisle today the aisle of assumptions, because we think a lot of people are walking down it thinking they know partner, thinking they understand what life is going to be like together, but not really wanting to kind of burst that bubble of the warm, fuzzy feelings.

TUCKER: One of the more interesting things about marriage and divorce is that, for a nation so concerned about such things, we don't keep good records. There's no official national data on divorce collected.

Budget cuts put an end to that in the mid-1990s. Among the things we do know, we are getting married at an older age now than we were in the 1950s. And we also know that divorce rates rose after World War II, when soldiers returned home, and they rose again in the 60s, with the advent of no-fault divorce laws. But perhaps the most shocking statistic is the one not about marriage. One-third of all children born today will be born out of wedlock and into a single- parent home.

THEODORA OOMS, CENTER FOR LAW AND SOCIAL POLICY: A lot of the problems we see in society today that have to do with the fact that children are being raised in single-parent or broken homes or homes where there is a lot of instability. Children are much more poor for that reason. They don't do as well in school. They are much more likely to have children out of wedlock themselves.

TUCKER: And that logic alone in the minds of many is enough for the government to get involved.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCKER: And despite all the talk about the decline of marriage, it is still what most of us and what, when asked, most of us want to do, Lou, get married and have children.

DOBBS: Bill, the $1.5 billion, how would it be spent to sustain marriage?

TUCKER: Well that's the question in the minds of a lot of people. They don't want to see it going to a faith-based group. And the president hasn't been clear on how that money would go there, a lot of efforts out there that don't have any ties to religion.

And, obviously, a lot of groups that spend a lot of time thinking about this would like to see that money spread out across the board. DOBBS: Spread out. Everybody would certainly like it to be effective, although it's highly questionable what $1.5 billion buys. But if it could buy happiness in marriage, I suppose that there isn't a taxpayer who wouldn't endorse it.

Bill Tucker, thank you.

Well, on the campaign trail today, Democrats competing to challenge President Bush outlining their vision for the future five days before the Iowa caucuses. But those Democrats have also been criticizing one another vigorously. Today, Congressman Richard Gephardt called front-runner Howard Dean a fair-weather friend of the American worker.

Our national correspondent Bob Franken reports from Iowa City -- Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, usually, Lou, it's Howard Dean who is the one accused of doing the politics of anger. As a matter of fact, he has a series of ads that are out right now that the other candidates are saying unfairly are used as attack ads.

So Dick Gephardt, who is normally such a mild-mannered person, decided to show that he had fangs. And he does have fangs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To me, there is no room for the cynical politics of manufactured anger and false conviction. I believe in standing for something. And I think all of you do, too.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FRANKEN: And, speaking of Howard Dean, former President Jimmy Carter made it a point to put out a statement saying that, contrary to some impressions that had been left, when Dean visits Plains, Georgia, this coming Sunday, the day before the caucuses, it will not be to get an endorsement from President Carter. He says he plans no endorsement and, as a matter of fact, welcomes any of the other Democratic candidates, some of whom have visited him.

Things are heating up, which is a good thing, because, Lou, it's mighty cold here.

(LAUGHTER)

DOBBS: We gathered that from your attire, Bob.

These polls, a lot of volatility. What are they saying about the prospective results of the Iowa caucuses?

FRANKEN: Well, I think that we have to say, if the polls are valid, what they show is, that it's really two-person race for the top between Gephardt, who, of course, has to win here, because he's expected to -- he's from Missouri -- and Howard Dean, who is now the favorite and could be knocked down a peg or two if doesn't win.

They also show that John Kerry is moving up substantially. However, a lot of people who know from polls are saying that it's extremely difficult to come up with a sample here because these caucuses have too many imponderables involved.

DOBBS: Imponderables, the bane of politics.

Thank you very much, Bob Franken, reporting from Iowa City.

Still ahead here, in "Made in America" tonight, one American clothing brand dedicated to the defense of American jobs in face of fierce competition from cheap overseas manufacturers, we'll have their story.

And in "Face-Off" tonight, the controversy over millions of illegal aliens who live in this country and whether the government should allow them to stay. Two sharply different views next.

And in our series of special reports this week, "America Works," as we celebrate the American worker, tonight, we introduce you to a laundry worker proud of her job, just as proud as the day she started work nearly three decades ago.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Tonight, we focus on an industry dominated by outsourcing to take advantage of cheap overseas labor, the clothing industry. In fact, 96 percent of all clothing bought in this country imported.

Chicago-based Hart Marx is no exception. Much of it production takes place outside this country. But one of its brands remains untouched by outsourcing. The brand is Hickey Freeman, the century- old manufacturer of fine men suits, suits that are made today as they were a century ago in Rochester, New York.

Peter Viles has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When America's best golfers traveled abroad to play in the President's Cup, they wore hand-tailored blazers, not made in Milan, Italy, or London, England, but made back home in this factory in Rochester, New York.

Inside the factory, Hickey Freeman makes fine men suits that retail $1,200 and up. And here's what is unusual. Hickey Freeman actually believes its factory is a special place, the workers there so well-trained, so dedicated to quality that outsourcing is out of the question. WALTER HICKEY JR., CHAIRMAN, HICKEY FREEMAN: We built a business that has been built on a consistency of a quality product. The only way that we think that you can get that is to have direct supervision from our quality people.

VILES: The top supervisor, Italian-born designer Bruno Castagna, says outsourcing work from his factory would be like an orchestra outsourcing the violins.

BRUNO CASTAGNA, EXEC. V.P., HICKEY FREEMAN: Our team is like an orchestra. Each team player got a role to play.

VILES: When Gary Hickey and Jake Freeman founded the company, the work force was mainly immigrants. The company taught them to speak English; 100 years later, tailoring still attracts immigrants. The plant is unionized. Average pay is $11 an hour. Average work is not accepted.

Perfection is our goal. Excellence will be tolerated. Anything less will not. Employees are actually given bonuses for spotting mistakes. Hickey Freeman is old-fashioned. It buys the world's finest fabrics, mainly from Italy, competes based on quality, not on price, and believes fine clothing can still be made in America.

HICKEY: It give me a great deal of pride to know that we have in Rochester about 800 people. And I'd like to keep it that way.

VILES (on camera): In the end, it's not patriotism that keeps Hickey Freeman in New York. It's a business calculation. The company believes its reputation for uncompromising quality is one of its most valuable assets. Moving work offshore would put that asset at risk. And that's a risk that this company is unwilling to take.

Peter Viles, CNN, Rochester, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOBBS: Taking a look at some of your thoughts now.

Joan Doherty of Naples, Florida, wrote in to say: "American jobs for American people, how difficult is that for our president and politicians to understand? Whose payroll are they on anyway?"

On exporting America, Marlene Wagner of Monee, Illinois, wrote: "A friend of mine who has lived in the United States for 30 years went home to India during the month of December. He wanted to do some Christmas shopping while there and was astonished to find everything he wished to purchase in India was made in China. Go figure."

On the president's bold new space proposal, R. Sitton of Signal Mountain, Tennessee: "I'm as interested in space as the next person, but this proposal, with our debt, is ridiculous. We can't even keep the space station repaired."

Sumner, Washington. Victor said: "What do you mean, can we afford to send someone to the moon? Make the rocket in India, build the components in Taiwan, then just hire an astronaut from China. We can also set up mission control in Pakistan, so we don't have to pay for those high American wages."

We love hearing from you. E-mail us at LouDobbs@CNN.com.

Well, coming up next here, America's system in crisis. A branch of the National Academy of Science has a controversial plan to fix it. Christy Feig will have our report.

And later, to the moon and beyond. We'll be joined by three people with very different opinions about the president's space initiative -- coming right up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: More than 43 million Americans don't have health insurance. For some, it's because they have lost their jobs. Others simply can't afford to pay premiums. A new report from the Institute of Medicine, which is one of the national academies of science, says our health system is in crisis and its recommends a controversial approach to fix the problem.

Christy Feig reports from Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTY FEIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's not just the unemployed who don't have health insurance. Take David Alpher. The 31-year-old student of international relations is paying his way through grad school and doesn't have enough money left over for health insurance. So he does everything he can not to get hurt or sick, because the cost of paying out of pocket is also too much.

DAVID ALPHER, UNINSURED: If I get hit by a bus or blow out my knee or injure my back or something like that, I'm up the creek.

FEIG: More than 43 million Americans don't have health insurance, so they often delay going to the doctor.

DR. ARTHUR KELLERMANN, INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE COMMITTEE: The uninsured get about half the medical care that the rest of us get. As a result, they are sicker and they die sooner than people with health insurance.

FEIG: In fact, studies show those delays lead to about 18,000 deaths a year. Now a report from the Institute of Medicine says universal coverage for all Americans is essential.

KELLERMANN: We have to find a way to insure everyone in this country and we have to achieve that goal by 2010.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FEIG: Now, Lou, the committee that put this report together says, if all American do not have health insurance in the next six years -- that's by that 2010 deadline -- then health care to those that do have insurance will be compromised.

That's because, increasingly, hospitals are having to make cuts in order to stay afloat, because they are the ones that generally absorb the costs of treating patients who can't afford to pay -- Lou.

DOBBS: Christy, thank you -- Christy Feig reporting from Washington.

A report released today by Kaiser says, over the past year, one in 10 large U.S. employers have eliminated their health benefits for future retirees. Another 20 percent of those businesses say they are likely to do the same thing within the next three years.

Coming up next, our special report, "America Works." A hard- working American citizen has been in the same business for three decades doing a job that some say Americans simply don't want. We'll have her story.

And in our "Face Off" tonight, "Mexifornia" author Victor Davis Hanson, syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette, face off on whether illegal aliens help or hurt the economy and whether the president's proposal helps or hurts the nation.

Mixed reaction to the president's new space initiative. We'll be joined by Charles Liu of the American Museum of Natural History, Robert Zubrin, author of "Mars on Earth," and Stephen Moore, president of the Club For Growth.

That and a great deal more still ahead here. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Tonight, we want to introduce you to a hard-working woman who does her job with great pride.

Carol Romney is a grandmother of three. She helped raise a daughter by cleaning hotel linens for a living. She still cleans those hotel linens and she still loves her work. It's a job that some people are saying in the illegal immigration debate that Americans simply no longer want. Apparently, that's not always the case.

Kitty Pilgrim has her story from Denver, Colorado.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Carol Romney starts her day at 6:00 a.m. with a steady hum of driers and the scent of fresh laundry. The sheets sometimes pile up so high, they are nearly over her head.

CAROL ROMNEY, WORKER: We have like 219 rooms. And we have three sheets a bed. So you have got a lot of linen coming in.

PILGRIM: Washers to load, sheets to fold. It's physically demanding, hard on the feet. With driers loaded, she takes a mid- morning smoke break on the hotel roof. There, she tells us how much she loves the job she has head for nearly three decades. Over that time, the hotel has changed ownership several times. Every time, she worries about job security.

ROMNEY: What they do, they fire everybody and then they will make everybody refill out another application, but they always rehire us back anyways.

PILGRIM: When asked about job competition from new immigrants, Carol is hesitant to criticize.

ROMNEY: They are good workers. Don't get me wrong. They are good workers. But there's a lot of people in the United States that also needs a job, too.

PILGRIM: She started at $1.50 an hour and now makes $10 an hour. She worries new workers would be willing to work for less.

ROMNEY: They would hire the other people because they had lower income -- I mean, not income, but wages. And they could let me go any time.

PILGRIM: There are plenty of Americans working at the hotel.

(on camera): The Warwick Hotel has 150 employees. Only 4 percent have green cards.

(voice-over): And there are no illegal workers. General manager John Wagner says he has absolutely no problem filling the jobs with legal American workers.

JOHN WAGNER, WARWICK HOTEL: We have a number -- we have plenty of people, actually, that have legal status and can work, not to say that we don't have people that come in without papers or proper papers to apply. But we have had not had any problem filling our positions right now.

PILGRIM: And he has high praise for Carol.

WAGNER: You can count on her. She is here every day on time. Those are really the day-in-and-day-out consistencies we like to see.

PILGRIM: Day in, day out, for nearly 30 years.

ROMNEY: There we are.

PILGRIM: Kitty Pilgrim, CNN, Denver.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOBBS: The debate about illegal immigration, illegal aliens and their place in the work force has only intensified since President Bush unveiled his immigration proposals last week.

In that proposal, the president said there are jobs which no Americans want. The assumption brings us to tonight's "Face-Off." Victor Davis Hanson is senior fellow at the Hoover Institute. He joins us tonight from Fresno, California. He says, if illegal immigrants were sent back to their home countries, their jobs would be filled by U.S. citizens. Ruben Navarrette, meanwhile, says immigrant works are essential to our economy. He's the author of "A Darker Shade of Crimson." He joins us tonight from Dallas, Texas.

Thank you both for being here.

Let me in turn, if I may, first to you Victor.

The idea that workers here, illegal workers, illegal aliens are simply essential to the economy, you don't believe that, even at the margin?

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON, SENIOR FELLOW, HOOVER INSTITUTE: I think they are in the short term.

But we have to remember that states like Maine and Nebraska and Iowa that don't have large numbers of illegal workers from Mexico get along fine. They still have restaurants. They still have their lawns mowed. And California, until about 1975, we had no problem. This is a relatively recent phenomenon of enormous numbers of people who come illegally, but not knowing English, with not a lot of education, are this sort of bonanza for employers who want cheap labor and the rest of us who think that it's a bonanza for us as well.

But it only turns -- it turns out to be a fool's bargain, because the entitlement industry must make up the remedy of cheap wages. And that suppresses wages for American workers as well.

DOBBS: Ruben, you say that immigrant workers are essential to our economy. Do you believe illegal immigrants are essential to our economy?

RUBEN NAVARRETTE, AUTHOR, "A DARKER SHADE OF CRIMSON": Yes. I do.

I don't condone illegal immigration. That's one of the reasons that, unlike a lot of folks on the so-called Latino left, I'm not for open borders. I believe you have to have some sort of enforcement mechanism, more Border Patrol men on the borders. So I'm not for open borders. I'm not for amnesty. I don't condone illegal immigration.

But I think we have reached a point in our economy, with six million illegal immigrant workers in America, where we can't get by without them. And just to challenge directly what Professor Hanson said, yes, in Maine and in some of these other states without large immigrant populations, although I would say that those populations are larger than we might imagine, those jobs are being taken by other people.

But in these other states, people who become accustomed -- Americans have become accustomed to see those jobs as immigrant work, as jobs that somebody else does. So if magically all those immigrants went back home tomorrow, still Americans wouldn't do those jobs. DOBBS: Does it concern -- just as, if you will, it's related, but perhaps an aside as well. As good Americans both, doesn't it concern you that, in this country, that we could really have Americans who don't respect other Americans for working in any job? Shouldn't we be celebrating work irrespective of the pay, irrespective of the definition of that job? Isn't that a very lousy thing for any American to do, to disparage anyone because of the job they have?

HANSON: Absolutely.

And I'm not sure that we're at that point yet, because we have such an enormous supply of cheap workers. We haven't been asked to make that decision. But we did make it for the first 200 years of our country's history, when we found such hard tasks to be character- building. They would be entry-level jobs. They showed character, discipline on the way to something better.

But as long as we have an alternative of very industrious workers who will do something at a very cheap cost, there's no incentive of us to return back to the type of character-building and landscape you're talking about.

DOBBS: The president's immigration proposals -- and he makes it very clear -- willing workers, willing employers. Well, we've got plenty of willing employers, willing to hire workers at a very low wage. And in many cases illegally and below even the minimum wage.

That depresses, according to professor George Borjas, at Harvard University, working wages in this country for others employed by 190 to $200 billion a year. No one and you mention, Ruben, the Latino left, if you will, the open borders crowd, no one wants to confront those realities: not the employers, who are hiring illegals illegally and not certainly the open borders crowd, who really think that a border is simply an artifice and inconvenience. What are your thoughts?

RUBEN NAVARRETTE, AUTHOR: Lou, you're right. Nobody wants to confront that question, but I'll confront it here and now. I agree with you, absolutely, there has been a depressing of wages. But what I disagree -- the reason I disagree with professor Borjas who taught me at the Kennedy School and who I used to have this argument with on a weekly basis. The reason I disagree with him we have to put that emphasis exactly where it belongs and that's on the employers.

I don't think we question of illegal immigrants depressing wages. We have a problem with employers who hire illegal immigrants depressing wages, because it's the employers who make the profit, therefore, they are the ones who deserve the blame. They are the ones who run the system.

Here's what I suggest. Here's what I suggest. You got to get tough. This is one thing that the president should have included in his plan, would have been great. Three strikes program for people who hire illegal immigrants, who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. The first time you do it you get a warning. The second time you do it, you get what the law allows, a fine in the amount of 8 to $10,000 per incidents. The third time you do it you get 30 days in jail.

And I mean everybody. I mean farmers in the San Joaquin Valley, where I'm from, where Professor Hanson is from now. I mean soccer moms in Connecticut. I mean everybody. You start locking up folks and then we tell people we are serious about this. But until we're ready to do that, until we're ready to stomach what that look like we're just blowing smoke. We're attacking immigrants, because they allowed themselves to be exploited.

DOBBS: No one here, by the way, is attacking immigrants at all. And no one here is attacking illegal immigrants. But we are attacking those who will not reason with the facts and the knowledge and honesty about what is going on in this country. And professor, your thoughts, Ruben is talking about border enforcement. The most thoughtful people I've talked with including both of you gentlemen say that you cannot even discuss immigration reform, meaningfully without border control and enforcement of our border laws. Do you agree, professor?

HANSON: That's absolutely right. And I think Ruben is correct about his advocacy for tougher sanctions on employers. This is a holistic problems, and it involves everything from Chicano separatism, of separate graduation ceremonies, bilingualism, to the Mexican Government, who counts on $12 billion of remittances, exports human capital to avoid domestic reform at home, wants an ex-patriot community that would lobby for Mexican interests.

But more importantly, not all the 10 to 12 million people who are here illegally in the United States, are unfortunately are workers. We have people 6, 8, 10 years old that are crossing the desert. We have people 60 or 70. In my hometown we have people show up in our third trimester. This is a vast problem.

And the problem with the president's proposal is that if you apply a sliver of legality to an enormous illegal problem, you suffer the wages of hypocrisy. What are we going to do now, say 300,000 workers have illegal protections, but somebody nine years old is going to be deported? Are we going to go back to enforce this program to the migrovans or the illegal immigration pickup vans of my youth? Where we picked up people who were here illegally?

So, whether we know it not, by trying to say we're going to legalize and rectify this situation, we have opened a can of worms that's going to require a very large dose of coercive enforcement.

DOBBS: Professor, let's give -- Ruben you get the last word. I saw you shaking your head there at a couple points.

NAVARRETTE: Here's where I shook my head. Victor you had me for a point and you had to go and talk about Chicano separatism and the like, and then I lost you. There is always a constituent of conservatives who feel that somehow the big problem with immigration is not the numbers, not the density argument, not the fact that they are here illegally, but rather what immigrants do to America. The changing of America. They are turning mainstream into little Mexico.

That argument is poison. It shouldn't be part of this discussion. It harkens back to a kind of nativist tone that's very, very troubling. And even those that support stronger border restrictions will not get on the train. It's not a good way to have this discussion.

DOBBS: I think that's true, too. But I think also, would you also not agree, Ruben, the talk of separatism, Chicano separatism, and for my money any kind of separatism in this country is as pure nonsense and unamerican as it gets. I don't have any patience for those people on that side of the discussion either.

NAVARRETTE: What you see is lots of assimilation, Lou. You see -- like the reality is like 50 percent of Hispanics intermarry. So, really separatism isn't happening.

DOBBS: Absolutely, but in terms of the advocacy...

HANSON: We have apartheid communities in central California. Ruben knows that Parlier is not an assimilated...

DOBBS: Oh, when I hear that used in about America in any quarter, professor, to be honest with you I react viscerally. I heard a member of the UCLA Chicano Center using the same thing describing parts of southern California from the perspective of the Hispanic and the Latino. I discount, I reject totally any of that discussion and it is happening, we ought to figure out ways to root it out. Because if we can't assimilate in this country, just my opinion, we're lost anyway. The rest of it is all at the margin.

Gentlemen, we appreciate you to be here continue this dialogue, advance this dialogue. I hope you will return to us soon.

Coming up next, new frontiers for NASA as the president sets new goals for the space agency. We'll have that story.

Also a debate over whether this country needs a new space initiative. We'll be joined by Charles Liu, astrophysicist, Robert Zubrin, author of "Mars On Earth," Stephen Moore, President of the Club For Growth who says, not now, not at this price, thank you very much. That's coming up next. Please stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: As we reported earlier, President Bush has opened a new era in space exploration with a promise to send humans back to the Moon and on to Mars. The president's plan means that NASA will shift resources from the shuttle fleet and the International Space Station to a new type of manned space vehicle. Our space correspondent Miles O'Brien reports -- Miles.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT: Lou, it's a big promise with NASA says an affordable price tag. The total price tag over the next five years about $12 billion. NASA will get a $1 billion up for the starters and have to find the rest of the $11 billion to fund this effort from existing programs, but some of these programs will be winding down, as you can see right now. First of all, let's talk about the space shuttle program. As you may recall, following the Columbia accident, the board investigating the loss of Columbia said that the shuttle fleet would have to be recertified if it were to fly past 2010. NASA is not going to do that. So 2010 becomes the retirement date for the existing shuttle fleet.

What happens between now and then? Construction of the International Space Station. The U.S. will honor its commitment to its 15 partner nations to finish its portion of the International Space Station, but after that time the emphasis for NASA on its manned spate flight program will move onward to the possibility of building a new vehicle, a crew exploration vehicle which can go to low Earth orbit, could go to the moon for a sustained visit, set up a base there. And then, ultimately could go much farther, perhaps to an asteroid, eventually, onward to Mars.

Let's listen to the president's announcement or at least a portion of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is time for America to take the next steps. Today I announce a new plan to explore space and extend a human presence across our solar system.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: It's now been more than 31 years since man walked on the moon. The last man to walk on the moon was Gene Cernan Apollo astronaut. He was in the crowd as President Bush made the announcement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GENE CERNAN, APOLLO 17 ASTRONAUT: We really haven't had a space program for 25 years. We had an event here and event there and we're trying to build a space station and trying to find a reason for its existence, redefine it. He is setting a course for a journey into the future. He said we're going to take it step by step.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Step by step is the by-word. The agency says it will begin work immediately on designing and building the crew exploration vehicle. As the NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said they are not going to be relying on miracles for this one. It will be tried and true technology that will get them to this audacious goal -- Lou.

DOBBS: Miles, thank you very much. Let me ask you to update us on Spirit, the rover, on Mars, ready to deploy.

What's the latest?

O'BRIEN: Well, they cut one of the important cords. The big umbilical still yet to be cut. But so far so good. Spirit is still on its platform, but has done a full 360 degree poetic (ph) pointing its camera down indicating it is working out just fine. There you see the mass camera, the white mass on the top there. It's about five feet from its two lenses at the top there to the surface. And it can take wide angle shots of itself as it goes along. What will happen in the deep overnight hours Eastern time is the folks at the jet propulsion lab in Pasadena will command spirit to head off the platform. Will turnaround, take a picture of the platform and then off it will go, if all goes well, to a crater which looks very tantalizing to the scientists looking for evidence of ancient water on the surface of Mars.

DOBBS: Absolutely. Using all of the tools -- are you jealous of my fancy model here, Miles?

O'BRIEN: I am so impressed with your model here, Lou. I suspect we'll see it on eBay fairly soon, right?

DOBBS: You will not see it on eBay but you will see it repeatedly here over the next 90 days. We have got to use the model.

O'BRIEN: A good purpose don't you when get one of those.

DOBBS: Absolutely. Miles, we thank you very much. Miles O'Brien.

That bold space proposal is the topic of our poll tonight. The question is, do you support the president's proposal to return to the moon and to create a mission to Mars yes or no. Cast your vote at cnn.com/lou. We'll have the results later in the show.

My guest tonight have differing views about the presidents space initiative. Professor Charles Liu is with me here in our studios here in New York. He says this program gives NASA a clear goal which it hasn't had. Charles is an astrophysicist at the American Museum of National History, professor of astrophysics at the City University of New York.

Robert Zubrin says it will encourage millions of young Americans to enter science and engineering which will only help our nation , our economy. Robert is the president of the Mars Society as well as the author of "Mars on Earth." He joins us tonight from Denver, Colorado.

Stephen Moore, the president of the Club for Growth says over the past 15 years the space program has simply been a debacle and federal money would be better spent elsewhere. Joining us tonight from Washington D.C. we thank you all for being here.

Let me turn to Robert Zubrin first. You have been the leading advocate for a mission to Mars for the past two decades. Your reaction?

ROBERT ZUBRIN, AUTHOR, "MARS ON EARTH": Well, I think it's great. The president of the United States just committed the United States to open the solar system to humanity. This is actually a historic moment. I believe that hundreds of years from now, perhaps thousands of years when all the other events of our time are forgotten, this moment will be remembered. The moment that we first pointed our ship out and headed out into space.

DOBBS: Charles Liu, your thoughts?

CHARLES LIU, PROFESSOR OF ASTROPHYSICS, CITY UNIV. OF N.Y.: Well, I think the Nasa Administrator Sean O'Keefe has done a good job of giving President Bush something to present here that seems to have a good long-term goal. It's sustainable. It seems to be fiscally responsible. And perhaps over the decades we will be able to achieve the goal of expanding into the solar system wisely and carefully.

DOBBS: Stephen Moore in Washington. You are, if you will, the Scrooge at this party, the Grinch.

You think the money could be better spent in other ways?

STEPHEN MOORE, PRESIDENT, CLUB FOR GROWTH: Well, Lou, I'm only in favor of sending a man to Mars if it's Paul O'Neill and he promises not to come back. But, look, I think that when you look at our budget situation today, Lou, this is just a fiscal calamity. We're looking at for the next five years half a trillion dollars of budget deficits. The budget is completely out of control. And unfortunately President Bush and this Congress wants to spend money on every program under the sun. So, I guess my view is sure, if we had a budget that was balanced, if we had budget surpluses, maybe this kind of experiment that may cost, by the way, not just $12 billion over the next five years, but over the next 25 years $500 billion, is this the top priority for the budget?

I don't think so.

DOBBS: Well, are you advocating a tax hike, Stephen?

MOORE: Not at all. I think the money should be used for cutting taxes. Look, we have some important priorities. We have to fight the war in Iraq. We have to fight the war on terrorism. We have to get the economy moving.

DOBBS: We got it. We got it. Robert Zubrin, this is, as you say, an important point in history. The fact is it's going to take resources.

This -- the shuttle program and point of fact is expiring with this initiative, is it not?

ZUBRIN: Yes, that's how it's going to be paid for. We are spending 4 billion a year on shuttle program, 2 billion on the space station. If we move that money over, we can send humans to the moon and mars. And, in fact, we could do it on a schedule considerably faster than that the president has suggested. I think that's how it should be approached.

DOBBS: The shuttle program, which has been remarkable in many respect, it makes possible U.S. participation in the International Space Station. The space station itself, Charles, Robert, it is in danger danger. It has cost a fortune. It has not performed to the level of original expectations. LIU: It's still a very important and valuable program, though. Because we don't know much about how humans are going to last in space for long periods of time. Going to the moon and back is only about a week's round trip but going to Mars and back will take over a year in most cases. So, as a biological station, where we can study the effects of weightlessness and so forth in space it's still valuable. We should still finish our commitment to that and then move tonight next stage.

DOBBS: Well, let me throw this out to you, Robert Zubrin. I think for my perspective, that's too long. 2030 to get to mars. Can't we accelerate this thing, after all, this is a can-do nation. We were on the moon 30 years ago. Let's ramp up, get it done, and move on and show people what we can do.

What is wrong with that approach?

ZUBRIN: That's the right approach. From a technical point of view we are much better prepared today to send humans to Mars than we were to send men moon in 1961, and we were there eight years later. So the president's goal of sending people back to the moon by 2020, 16 years from now, that's twice as long as it took the America of slide rules and rotary telephones to do it. So, we can do a lot better than that. I think what we ought to do is mobilize the full genius of the American technological community behind this problem.

DOBBS: You said the genius of the American technological community?

ZUBRIN: Yes, that's right.

DOBBS: Almost day in and day out we hear how our technologists have become somewhat morbid, they're idle, they are incapable of innovation. That we need to go other countries around the world. You mean, our engineers and scientist are capable of great accomplishments?

ZUBRIN: Yes, I certainly believe that. And we've got a lot of people, both not only at NASA headquarters but at the various NASA field centers, in the aerospace industry, in the universities, at the national labs. What I think what we ought to do is throw open an open competition to all these institutions to design the most efficient plan to get humans back to the moon and onto Mars.

DOBBS: Stephen Moore, has got to love the part about efficiency. You just heard the description of actually supplanting one program with the new initiative.

Are you now satisfied, Stephen Moore?

Are you ready to sign on for this and say this economy, this country, this society of ours can accomplish anything, great things, once we put our mind to it?

MOORE: I think this economy can accomplish great things and this country can. And in fact, you know, our entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. And we have some of the best engineers and scientist in the world. By the way, Lou, many of them immigrants.

I think when you look at NASA over the last...

(CROSSTALK)

DOBBS: Charles Liu -- my friend Charles Liu here would never have even imagined such a thing, but we appreciate your edifying us as usual, Stephen Moore.

MOORE: My only point on NASA, this is an agency for the last 15 years or so, since the shuttle disaster that has been run like it's been operated by Abbott and Costello. It's been one failure after another. And my point is why not free up the free enterprise system. You were in this industry yourself for a few years, Lou.

DOBBS: I'm still in it partner.

MOORE: Exactly, so why not allow -- I love this idea of having a cash prize of $10 billion to the first private enterprise company that can get us on Mars.

DOBBS: How much?

MOORE: Let's make it $10 billion, that would cost us a fraction.

DOBBS: You're being a piker. This -- we're talking about federal money here, Stephen Moore, you can raise the ante a little bit. Get in spirit of the thing. You're in Washington for crying out loud.

When you mentioned innovation and you mentioned the spirit of accomplishment. Right now, on the surface of Mars, the rover, Charles Liu, is about to take on its mission.

LIU: About to roll off and figure out what is out there. It's a marvelous result.

DOBBS: Your best guess as to how important it will be and what we will learn?

LIU: It's one step. And an important one. I think we're going to find some really interesting things on this dry lake bed. This Gusev crater that we've never thought of before, leads us to new questions and bring us toward this new kind of exploration of the whole solar system.

DOBBS: Robert Zubrin, with 15 seconds, you're our man on Mars. Your expectations?

ZUBRIN: We're going to go to Mars to try to find out if life is a general phenomenon in the universe. The rover can tell us if Gusev is a dry lake bed. But you're going to take human explorers to actually find life and characterize the life and find the answers we really want to know.

DOBBS: As I said to Sean O'Keefe, the NASA administrator, just a few days ago, NASA has accomplished so much and just being able to bring the Spirit here, the fact that it's about to set off on its -- to me it's another -- you said we didn't need miracles, Robert. I kind of always think there's a bit of a miracle in this and we appreciate all the hard work of people that make miracles possible. Thank you very much. Charles, Robert, Stephen Moore, thank you very much, gentlemen, as we embark on a new age in space exploration.

Just ahead, a blockbuster banking deal on Wall Street to tell you all about. Guilty pleas in the Enron case, that's news and we'll have a live report from Houston for you. Christine Romans will have "The Market" and all the Wall Street news next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: A major development tonight in the fight against corporate corruption. Former Enron chief financial officer Andrew Fastow, today, pleaded guilty to fraud. And we can report that he will soon join the executives of our corporate America criminal scoreboard who have been sent to jail. Jen Rogers has the story live from Houston -- Jen.

JEN ROGERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is right, Lou. Andrew Fastow in a deal with the government will be heading to prison. Both Fastows were here at federal court in Houston and entered guilty pleas. Andrew Fastow for his part pled guilty to two counts. Conspiracy to commit securities fraud and wire fraud.

His wife, Lea, pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false tax return. Now for his part, Andrew Fastow, in his agreement with the government, will begin cooperating with investigators. He will serve that 10-year prison sentence and he will also forfeit some $29 million in assets.

Now, Lea Fastow's agreement calls for her to serve five months in prison and then five months home confinement. It is unclear when they would start their prison terms. Both Fastows are set for sentencing in April. One thing, though, that is very clear today is that the Enron task force is quite pleased with this turn of events. They say they have an active investigation under way -- Lou.

DOBBS: I know it's been a long day at the courthouse for you, Jen Rogers, thank you very much. Reporting from Houston, Texas.

On Wall Street today, stocks surged, a rally in fact. The Dow up 111 points. The S&P up 9. Christine Romans here with "The Market" plus the news of a big banking merger.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. But first, it was strong economic news that powered the Dow, triple digits. The U.S. trade gap narrowed in November. We'll see if its sustainable. But then after the close, Lou, a blockbuster banking deal.

Bank One will be bought by JPMorgan Chase for $60 billion in stock. Reports have Bank One CEO Jamie Diamond taking the helm of that company after two years. Bank One is the sixth largest bank, based in Chicago. JPMorgan is number two.

Analysts, Lou, say it looks like a big fit. Without Bank One, JPMorgan could have slipped to No. 3 once Bank of America completes its Fleet Boston deal in March. And, of course, Jamie Diamond, revered by value investors and Bank One shareholders, Bank One shares have doubled since he took the helm just in 2000.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Christine Romans. Pretty good performance by any standards.

We'll have the results of our poll coming right up. But first, an update on the list of companies that we've confirmed to be exporting America. These are companies sending American jobs overseas to cheap foreign labor markets.

Tonight's additions include Dow Chemical, Jacobs Engineering, Russell Corporation, maker of athletic and outdoor apparel, State Street, an asset management company. Keep sending us the names of those companies you know to be exporting America. For the complete list, log on to CNN.com/lou. We'll continue in just one moment. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The results now of our poll. 24 percent of you support the president's initiative to return to the moon and create a mission to Mars. 76 percent will require some convincing. That's our show for tonight. We thank you for being with us. Tomorrow, here, in "Made in America" a report on some of the Americans fighting to keep jobs in this country.

And in "America Works," we'll introduce you to a very special nanny, an American in a profession dominated by illegal immigrants.

For all of us here, good night from New York. Anderson Cooper is next.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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