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AMERICAN MORNING

Senate Gearing Up to Vote Tonight on the $700 Billion Rescue Bill; New Figures Reveals Real Estate Slump Across the Nation; Jenny McCarthy on Autism; Fear of a Freefall

Aired October 1, 2008 - 06:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Breaking news. After a wild ride on Wall Street, the Senate set to act to save the nation's economy.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: We will stay here until the answer is yes.

ROBERTS: Details of the new deal for America.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do what's right for this country.

ROBERTS: And a plan to protect every penny in your bank account.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The rescue of Main Street America.

ROBERTS: On this AMERICAN MORNING.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: And good Wednesday morning to you. Thanks for being with us. It is October 1st, start of a brand new month but unfortunately with the same old problems we had in September.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Start of a brand new month, possibly the start of a brand new bill in the Senate this morning as we try to work out this financial crisis. And we begin with that rescue plan.

Tonight at sundown, the Senate will vote on a revamped version of the $700 billion bailout two days after the House failed to pass it. Now the new proposal includes tax breaks and a temporary increase in the insurance for your bank deposits. The House reconvenes tomorrow after the Jewish holiday.

And just a hint of an agreement on a new bailout bill sent markets rallying. The Dow shot up nearly 400 points recouping a little bit more than half of Monday's record 777-point plunge. The Nasdaq also up nearly 100 points. Overseas, the markets across Asia and Europe mostly up as well.

And the chief U.S. nuclear negotiator arriving in North Korea overnight. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill's trip comes after Pyongyang threatened to rebuild its nuclear plant last week. Reports out of South Korea say that the North is showing signs of restoring the sites where it conducted its nuclear test blast.

ROBERTS: More now on our top story this morning. And a big new push to breath life back into the government's bailout plan. We are just hours away now from the Senate voting on a slightly altered version of the House's bill. It comes amid a huge new wave of public demand. In the past two days, so many people have written to their lawmakers demanding something be done. A congressional Web site actually crashed because of the traffic.

The Senate's new proposal will include a temporary increase in the $100,000 cap on insured deposits in banks. A confidence booster, it could encourage people to leave their money with their financial institution. It also includes relief for Americans paying the alternative minimum tax. One lawmaker describing the tweak version as emergency care for an economy in crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FROM CNN'S "THE SITUATION ROOM")

SEN. JUDD GREGG (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: I look on this as a tourniquet placed on somebody who is bleeding profusely from a severe injury. And what we're trying to do is stabilize the patient, get him to the hospital, and then hopefully return him to a normal life and in this case, normal economic activity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: CNN's Kate Bolduan is live in Washington for us this morning. That was my interview with Judd Gregg yesterday, Kate, on the "THE SITUATION ROOM," during which he said he believes that there are the votes in the Senate to get this thing through.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They definitely hope so. It's something new every morning, isn't it, John? Well, maybe this is in response to the markets or the mass of phone calls and e-mails bombarding lawmakers' offices this week. But Senate leaders worked very quickly yesterday and are set to vote today on a plan some consider risky to pass a modified version of the bailout rescue that failed in the House.

The add-ons include raising the FDIC insurance limit as well as offering tax break extensions. Both make the bill more appealing to House Republicans. They're attached to an existing bill requiring health insurance companies to cover mental illness at parody with physical illness.

Now, even before announcing the new deal, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was on the floor fighting for swift passage of the bailout. Listen here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: Most of that money doesn't come from Wall Street titans or from the pensions of people who have retired, who worked for city government, county government, state government, on some business that they worked for, for many years, or the people who frugally worked during their lifetime to save a few dollars and put it in a retirement account.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Now, leaders seem optimistic that the modified bailout will pass the Senate but the big question is will it pass the House? Right now, it's not a done deal. There is some concern that while this bill could win more Republicans, it could lose some Democrats, John.

ROBERTS: Yes. And the Democrats that it could lose as well are fiscally-conservative Democrats who are looking at some of the tax breaks and the Senate bill saying, hey, how are you going to pay for all of this?

BOLDUAN: Exactly. This is -- and when you talk about the different groups within the House and within the parties, we've got a group of blue dogs. They're conservative Democrats. This could be a problem with them is because they have tax cuts in this bill, but these tax cuts aren't offset by spending cuts or increased revenue. So they're like, how can you pay for this? Exactly. So we'll see.

ROBERTS: All right. Kate Bolduan for us this morning. Kate, thanks so much.

The stakes of reviving the economic package are so high, Senators John McCain, Barack Obama and Joe Biden are taking a detour from the campaign trail today to be in Washington for the vote. And for the most part yesterday, Obama and McCain put aside partisan sniping to lobby for the bailout.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not a time for politicians to concern themselves with the next election. It's a time for all of us to concern ourselves with the future of the country that we love. This is a time for action.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are finger pointing and trying to place the blame rather than trying to fix the problem. And I hope that -- I hope all of us will urge us to work in a bipartisan fashion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Well, if McCain and Obama have endorsed the increase in bank deposit insurance, it is just one of the new provisions that are in the new bill that heads to the Senate later on today.

CHETRY: So a lot of details to sort through this morning, and here to break it all down for us is Ali Velshi.

What do you think? The Senate bill largely similar to the one in the House, but it seems like they have tacked on a little bit more. ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, which is, by the way, exactly what they all said they weren't going to do in the beginning. They weren't going to tack things on. And the reason you tack things on the bills is to make it more attractive to people who didn't vote for it.

But the Senate was never the problem in the first problem, and I don't think the markets are going to take the head fake on this one. I think they're going to accept what happens in the Senate. If it passes, they'll be happy with it. It will probably happen too late in the day for the market to react particularly well to it, but the idea then is OK.

Is the Senate-passed bill the kind of thing that the House will accept? The bottom line here is markets both in the U.S. and internationally don't actually care about any of the add-ons to the bill. They don't care about the provisions that Americans are really mad about right now. They'd like to know if there's some lubricant coming in to the system that is going to get these credit markets unfrozen.

And I should tell you that one of the measures we have of the credit markets -- and I'm sorry I have to say this on TV -- is the LIBOR overnight rate. That's the London Interbank Overnight Rate. It's the cheapest rate in the world for large banks to borrow from each other on a dollar basis. That is the highest it's ever been. It's coming up to seven percent. So that means a good healthy bank that needs money overnight to meet its reserve requirements is paying seven percent.

You don't think banks pay that. Some people pay that. Many people don't pay that on their mortgage. So that's an indication of every single day, hour by hour these credit markets tightening up further.

CHETRY: So one of the add-ons in the bill, and correct me if I'm wrong, could help that. That's the FDIC insurance. They're making it larger.

VELSHI: Right. Because there will be more money to stay in banks. The FDIC --

CHETRY: People will keep their money in these banks...

VELSHI: That's exactly right.

CHETRY: ... because they're -- if it goes belly under they're still insured.

VELSHI: And if you keep your money in your bank, that makes the pool of money available for borrowing. So you're actually right about that. That will help. That will help something. That will help hopefully these overnight rates go down a little bit.

CHETRY: All right. Well, we'll keep following it throughout the morning, Ali. Thanks. VELSHI: OK.

CHETRY: Healing autism and the link she says to vaccine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENNY MCCARTHY, COMEDIENNE: They need to wake up and stop hurting our kids.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: The comedienne, author and activist opens up about raising an autistic child and her mission to help thousands of parents get informed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENNY MCCARTHY, COMEDIENNE: I don't understand why it's so freaking hard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: The piano man in a campaigning state of mind. Billy Joel will be performing later this month to help raise money for Senator Barack Obama. He's going to be teaming up with another rock and roll Hall of Famer, Bruce Springsteen. Tickets for the New York show start at $500.

Also, both Barack Obama and John McCain are talking up the bailout. While hoping to score some political points, the latest CNN national poll of polls shows Obama leading McCain by five points, 48 to 43 percent. It's a one-point gain for Obama compared to Monday.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is live in Washington where both candidates are going to be returning this evening for a vote on this bailout as well VP, Democratic VP candidate Joe Biden.

Hey, Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, absolutely. A lot of excitement here in Washington later today. Barack Obama is going to be coming back from a rally in Wisconsin. John McCain from Missouri to come back to cast their votes for this bailout package. And both the candidates were on the phone with President Bush yesterday. They're weighing in on the deadlock, trying to look presidential and certainly engaged in the process, and they're noticeably striking a conciliatory tone.

They put much of the partisan rancor to the side at least for now. The idea here is that it's going to help ease the worries of Americans who are so very skeptical about this huge undertaking. At the same time, they're trying to put pressure on the House which is expected to vote later in the week to get on board.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FROM ABC WORLD NEWS TONIGHT)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that the American people need to know that particularly those who find themselves now threatened through no fault of their own, they need to understand that they're going to get help, and this is not just something that is helping big boys with fancy lobbyists on Wall Street. And that, I think, has not been made as clear as possible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm glad to stay at it. That's what my job is, I believe, as an American, not as a candidate for president. But if I think I can do some good, I'll do it. I may fail the first time or the second time or the third time, but we've got to get this job done for America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: And, Kiran, that admission coming after McCain, his efforts to get members of his own party involved, those House Republicans who revolted against the administration's plan. It should be noted that Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, is also going to be casting his vote this evening. He's going to be coming back to Washington, taking that Amtrak ride from his home of Delaware, very familiar route that he's taken for years, Kiran.

CHETRY: And then, he's also prepping for the big VP debate which is Thursday night, as well as Sarah Palin. How is that going?

MALVEAUX: All eyes are going to be on that debate. Obviously, Joe Biden and Sarah Palin head to St. Louis. That is tomorrow for their first face-off.

Now, normally, the vice presidential debates, they don't carry as much weight. But this time around, Kiran, it's going to be the first time for Americans to see these two very different candidates discussing both foreign and domestic issues. And really, the expectations game is already in full swing. The Obama campaign says they expect Sarah Palin is going to be a formidable opponent. Their hope as always that the downplaying their candidate's debating skills, they can claim victory if he does really, really well -- Kiran.

CHETRY: A lot of people are going to be watching that one for sure. Suzanne, thanks.

MALVEAUX: Sure.

ROBERTS: Going for broke.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIBBI ELLIS, LATINAS FOR MCCAIN: Hi, Julie. This is Tibbi Ellis from Latinas for McCain.

ELLIS: Let's talk about life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: The issue John McCain is hoping will drive a wedge into Barack Obama's strong support.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADRIANNA MARTINEZ, OBAMA SUPPORTER: I could be a great example. I'm Catholic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Behind McCain's big gamble in Nevada. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Welcome back to the "Most Politics in the Morning." Just 34 days now until voters have their say and one state where the battle lines are being drawn is Nevada. So what matters most to Hispanic voters there? Faith or finances?

CNN's Chris Lawrence shows us what's really on their minds?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Kiran, supporters of Senator John McCain are making a major push for Hispanic voters here and they're using abortion as the key issue.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE (voice-over): Senator McCain's supporters are aggressively recruiting Nevada's Hispanic voters.

TIBBI ELLIS, LATINAS FOR MCCAIN: Hi Julie. This is Tibbi Ellis for Latinas for McCain.

LAWRENCE: From phone calls to bilingual fliers, they're appealing to voters' faith and how that reconciles with abortion.

ELLIS: Let's talk about life.

LAWRENCE: Tibbi Ellis says she's winning over women by telling them when it comes to teenagers and abortion, Barack Obama didn't vote yes or no, only present on two parental notification bills in Illinois.

ELLIS: You ask any Hispanic mother in this country and ask them if they will vote for a candidate that will vote against giving them the authorization to know what their 14-year-old daughter is going to do.

ADRIANNA MARTINEZ, OBAMA SUPPORTER: Well, I could be a great example. I'm Catholic. LAWRENCE: Adrianna (ph) Martinez is a church-going mom who supports Obama. She says Hispanics won't be voting on abortion.

MARTINEZ: Specifically, it's the economy. It's, you know, where is my family going to go if my house is being foreclosed on?

LAWRENCE: Nevada led the nation in foreclosures and nothing sums up its economy like this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We feel good about our project, and we feel good about Las Vegas as a destination.

LAWRENCE: Two months ago, the head of this billion casino project told us everything is OK. Today, the financing failed, the project is half finished, the workers gone.

Some Hispanic voters say even though they support the right to life platform, it's not the determining factor this time around.

ROSANNA BIESZCZAT, MCCAIN SUPPORTER: I said that without being pro-Obama.

LAWRENCE: Rosanna Bieszczat and her husband are registered Democrats who now support McCain. But they switched due to his experience, not his social values.

BIESZCZAT: I don't think people should base the vote on whether abortion is going to be legal or whether it's not.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE: Nevada could be decided by a razor-thin margin, so whichever candidate wins the Hispanic vote could win the state -- John, Kiran.

CHETRY: Chris Lawrence, thanks.

Still ahead, as Sarah Palin preps for her big debate, there are new concerns this morning about her readiness. Plus, more analysis of the interview everyone is talking about.

And Jenny McCarthy with a message for mothers. Why she says vaccines are in fact linked to autism, and how she says you can empower yourself and actually heal your autistic child.

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning" and we're counting down to tomorrow's debate. New pictures of Sarah Palin practicing at the podium for Thursday night's debate with Joe Biden, but it's her interview with Katie Couric that still has everyone talking this morning.

Jason Carroll is here to break down some of the surprising comments that she made.

Hey, Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we are going to break it down. You know, Sarah Palin says she is the one with the new energy, the new face and the new ideas. That's just part of what she told CBS' Katie Couric in her interview with the Republican vice presidential nominee.

Palin reaffirmed her position against abortion, including in cases of incest and rape. And while she does not support state funding for sex education, that includes teaching about contraception, she said personally she's not against contraception but she is opposed to the morning after pill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FROM "CBS EVENING NEWS")

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm all for contraception and I'm all for any preventative measures that are legal and safe and should be taken. But, Katie, again, I am one to believe that life starts at the moment of conception and I would like to see --

KATIE COURIC, CBS EVENING NEWS: Although you don't believe in the morning after pill?

PALIN: I would have to see fewer and fewer abortions in this world and, again, I haven't spoken with anyone who disagrees with my position on that.

COURIC: I'm sorry, I just want to ask you again. Do you condone or condemn the morning after pill?

PALIN: Personally, and this isn't a McCain/Palin policy.

(CROSSTALK)

COURIC: No, that's OK. I'm just asking you.

PALIN: But personally, I would not choose to participate in that kind of contraception.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: And on a lighter note, Palin neglected to offer specifics when Couric pointedly asked her about newspapers or magazines she regularly reads in order to stay plugged into current events.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATIE COURIC, CBS EVENING NEWS: What specifically? I'm curious that you --

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All of them. Any of them that have been in front of me over all these years. I have a vast --

COURIC: Can you name a few?

PALIN: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news. Alaska isn't a foreign country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: Palin also did an interview with conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt. He asked about her candidacy, igniting hostility from the left. Palin said they're simply not used to someone coming from the outside and saying it's time that Joe six-pack America be represented in the vice presidency.

And coming up in our next hour, we're going to tell you about Sarah Palin's position on homosexuality, specifically when talking about a close friend of hers who just happens to be gay.

CHETRY: All right. Very interesting stuff, Jason.

CARROLL: Yes.

CHETRY: That's why a lot of people are really looking forward to this debate on Thursday just to see, get a little bit more of a look at where Sarah Palin stands on a lot of things.

CARROLL: Ratings are going to be huge.

ROBERTS: You can imagine. My goodness.

Twenty-three minutes after the hour. They are old enough, really?

New this morning, gymnastics officials are saying that China's gold medal winning women's Olympic team is of age and the investigation is over. The age to compete was raised to 16 back in 1997. Some reports and online records suggest that some Chinese girls could be as young as 14. China's team that won the bronze eight years ago in Sydney is not yet in the clear, though.

Protecting your money during America's financial crisis. Gerri Willis with a quick way to see how healthy your bank is, and a look at what would happen if it went under.

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO")

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Are you worried about the economy? I tell you, it's bad. It is bad.

KEVIN EUBANKS: How bad is it, Jay?

LENO: I tell you, Kevin, you know the guy from the monopoly game?

EUBANKS: Oh, yes.

LENO: I saw him today. He was playing sorry. I couldn't believe it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: This morning the Senate is moving fast to resurrect the stalled $700 billion bailout bill. A vote will take place tonight under a revised bill and if it passes, that is going to put pressure on the House to pass its own version when it reconvenes tomorrow.

Joining me to talk about more about this is Tara Wall. She is the deputy editorial page editor of "The Washington Times." And Dana Milbank, a reporter with "The Washington Post." Both of them are CNN contributors.

So, Tara, how much pressure would this put on House Republicans, the ones, 133 of which who voted against this bill if the Senate passes it later on tonight?

TARA WALL, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it would put some pressure on them. But you have to remember they're listening to their constituents and they take a -- they took a stand, are taking a stand for conservative principles. And I think that they'll be credited with that when they have to go back and be re-elected in their district. So there will be a little bit of pressure but at the same time, I think it's understandable. I think Americans, even though some Americans now are coming around to the idea, still overwhelmingly do not support this $700 billion bailout.

ROBERTS: Dana, if the yays (ph) hold the way they were, 206 the last time around, all they need is 12 on the Republican side or maybe another 12 Democrats or six of each to get this bill through. Do you think they can do that?

DANA MILBANK, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well sure they can. And the two people who can make that happen by the time we finish having this discussion this morning are Barack Obama and John McCain. These guys are not listening to their party leaders. They're certainly not listening to the president of the United States. They will have to listen to their presidential candidates if they get on the phone and beg of them to do that.

I mean, this has been an embarrassing spectacle for America. You know, in the House, clearly the lunatics have taken over the asylum and for everybody's sake they need to get things back on track.

ROBERTS: Dana, out in the presidential campaign trail, most people we talked to, Republicans among them say that John McCain is the one who was taking the hit from this. But there's still, there's five weeks left. And as you know from covering politics, a day is a long time, a week is forever. Five years would be several lifetimes. Could things change back and forth? McCain be on top at the time November 4th comes around? MILBANK: Well, of course, it's entirely possible. I mean, I think the surprising thing at this moment is that given how bad the economy is looking and given that people by two to one are blaming the Republicans both for the economic crisis and for the failure to handle it, the amazing thing is that CNN's poll of polls is showing only a five-point advantage for Barack Obama. That shows that McCain has been riding this out phenomenally well. So if events shift, and we're talking about something else in two weeks, could be a very different picture.

ROBERTS: Tara...

WALL: Yes.

ROBERTS: ... huge event in the presidential campaign tomorrow night with this vice presidential debate. How much effort on the part of the McCain campaign is going in to making sure that Sarah Palin is prepared for tomorrow evening?

WALL: Well, they put a lot of effort in it in a way that doesn't keep her binded and not herself. I mean, listen, I know they are going over this with her minute by minute, second by second. The thing is they have to allow Sarah Palin, as I mentioned in my column, to be herself. They have to stop overscripting her, stop overproducing her, stop overmanaging her and allow her to be herself.

She has to draw the distinctions between a new reformer, new ideas, not come off as a novice versus, you know, what some would see as old time Washington. Some might call a veteran but others might see him as more of the same. So she has to draw those distinctions and also draw distinctions between an Obama and a Biden at odds with each other.

The Iraq policy, for example, he voted for it, Obama was against it, and other areas. Biden, of course, came out, you know, against the bailout before Obama was for it. So she draws those distinctions between even the two candidates themselves, she could do OK.

ROBERTS: All right. A lot of people are going to be watching this with great interest.

Tara Wall, Dana Milbank, good to see you. Thanks for coming in this morning.

MILBANK: Thanks, John.

WALL: Sure.

CHETRY: Well, it is just about 6:30 here in New York. The Senate gearing up for a high stakes vote tonight on the $700 billion rescue bill. Lawmakers and negotiators injecting some new life into the bill by making a number of changes or additions, I guess you could say. It includes doubling the insurance cap on your bank deposits.

Both John McCain and Barack Obama will come back to Washington, as well as Joe Biden to vote on this bailout plan. Here are some new figures that reveal a real estate slump across the nation, probably no surprise there, but let's look further into it. Home prices dropping more than 16 percent. They say it's the largest decline since 2000. And at some places, the figure is much worse. Las Vegas and Phoenix down nearly 30 percent. But the new report by Standard & Poor says that the taste of the monthly decline is slowing.

And California counting the calories. The Golden State, now the first in the nation to require chain restaurants to provide a calorie count for each item on their menu by next year. And violators could face fine of up to $500. A similar rule actually took effect in New York City this year.

And so far this year more than a dozen banks have failed. And no matter what assurance as we hear, it's unnerving to find out that your bank has gone bust. Personal finance editor Gerri Willis is here to tell you how to hold on to what you have when your bank is on shaky ground.

And what guarantees are there? We're talking about this new bill...

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: That's right.

CHETRY: ...that's making its way through the Senate. And they want to expand the amount of money that you're insured for if your bank goes belly up.

WILLIS: That's right. You know, the fact is nobody has lost a dime of money in an FDIC-insured institution. This is a simple insurance policy. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation stands behind your bank account. Up to $100,000 for individual accounts, 200,000 for joint accounts and 250,000 for retirement accounts.

To find out if your bank is a member of the FDIC, go to fdic.org. You can see the details there. Pardon me, fdic.gov, to find the details there. And of course, as we're talking about today, this afternoon, Congress will vote on a new bailout bill likely increase the limits on how much is protected in these institutions. So that will be a big help as well. That's up to 250,000 for individual accounts.

You know, we've been talking about these 13 financial institution failures. The good news here, if you want to know how safe your bank is, go to bankrate.com. They have something called the safety and soundness rating. It looks at 22 different variables to tell you is your bank safe, including assets, capital requirement, things like that.

Now, one of the things you want to know is your credit union safe? Ncua.gov will tell you if your credit union is safe. They have the same guarantees as the FDIC. And of course, people are asking me in email, you know, should I just switch over. Should I go to a credit union? We see all these problems with banks. Well, it's probably doesn't make a lot of sense at this point. A lot of credit unions are very, very small. Some of them do not have big ATM networks. And although they often provide better rates of interest for members, the reality is in this situation it probably won't help too much.

CHETRY: All right. So, the take away from this situation is that most likely your bank, even if it does go belly up you're protected.

WILLIS: You are protect. You should know that. If you were a member -- if your bank is a member of fdic.gov, you are in fine shape. I know there are lots of worries out there about the FDIC itself. It has lots of money on hand and a claim on the Treasury. So, there's lots of money standing behind even the FDIC out there. So, I don't think people should be worried about it.

CHETRY: Gerri Willis, thanks.

WILLIS: My pleasure.

ROBERTS: But we are just hours away now from the Senate taking up that big government bailout plan and the impact that could impact the taxes that you pay and the money that you put in the bank. It's got lots of you asking questions in our Web site. Ali Velshi is combing through them. He's going to answer some of them next. And there is still time to send yours in. Just head to cnn.com/am.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Ali Velshi is "Minding Your Business," and minding the blog, and he's here with some answers to your questions.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Really great, great questions. A lot of great comments. I want to tell people the aim here at cnn.com/am is to answer question that will be of appeal to many of you. There's a lot of opinion and a lot of strong opinion and we welcome that. Tomorrow I'm going to do the radio show. And then you could call in --

ROBERTS: How about you and your (INAUDIBLE). That was a good one.

VELSHI: That one, right. There's a lot of that kind of stuff. So, save those and send them in anyway. But you can come and you can say whatever you want. But this one I'm going to try and pick e-mails that actually help people with questions that I can help them with.

Olivia in St. Louis says, "Why are credit card companies tailgating college students who already don't have the money to go to school. I haven't established credit yet but I get a letter from a credit card company at least once a week. This is creating a black hole for my generation to start out life so far behind."

VELSHI: You're absolutely right, Olivia. But this is one of the few areas that actually continues to work for credit card companies because students will rack up debt, and there is sort of some philosophy that says if you get hooked up with a credit card early, you'll stay with them for a long time. So good advice that you realize --

ROBERTS: Cigarettes.

VELSHI: It's very much the same thing. It's the idea to get people started young. Good that you're conscious of it but they like you folks as an audience. Scotty in Florida says "Can't the fed just raise interest rates? By raising rates, the fed will encourage investors to pump money into the credit pool, thus allowing people and companies with good credit to borrow money during this period. Ben Bernanke wouldn't need to wait around on congressional approval and the American taxpayer will be left out of the equation."

Interesting thoughts, Scotty. It's actually not how it works. If the fed increases interest rate, it pushes borrowing off so much that it ends up slowing the economy. And the problem we've got right now is we've got a very slow economy. Remember, if you're the fed, it's like driving a car that only has a gas pedal and brakes, no steering wheel, no gears. So playing with interest rates is dangerous. We may actually see the Fed move interest rates. It's not likely to be upward though.

ROBERTS: This does wonders with the stock market, too, doesn't it?

VELSHI: Yes, right. So, you know, it's an interesting suggestion, but it didn't actually end up -- that's not how it works. Gordon in Ohio says "The question I have is fairly simple. Why don't these companies just file bankruptcy? If you or I make bad money decisions that's practically our only option. What makes them so special?" Now, this is a very common theme. And you're right. Now, this is what happened with Lehman Brothers when nobody bought them and nobody bailed them out. They declared bankruptcy.

Remember, that means a lot of people put out of work and a lot of taxes not being paid which is why the government of New York was very involved in AIG not having to file for bankruptcy. But you are right. When you get into trouble that does tend to be your only option and there are lot of people in America who say just let it happen.

As I've been saying for the last few days, and I really have no dog in this fight, if that happens, there are consequences for the economy, including many lost jobs. But there are a growing number of people who say let the chips fall where they may.

ROBERTS: Good deal. Thanks, Ali.

VELSHI: OK.

CHETRY: Jenny McCarthy on healing autism and the link she says to vaccines.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENNY MCCARTHY, COMEDIAN: They need to wake up and stop hurting our kids.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: The comedian, author and activist opens up about raising an autistic child, and her mission to help thousands of parents get informed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCARTHY: I don't understand why it's so freaking hard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Jenny McCarthy wants to raise awareness about autism. Her son, Evan, was diagnosed when he was 3 years old and in her new book, "Mother Warriors," she shares her son's progress as well as inspirational stories from other parents that are healing their children suffering from autism. Actress, author and autism advocate Jenny McCarthy joins me now.

Great to have you with us this morning.

MCCARTHY: Thank you so much.

CHETRY: Tell me in a nutshell for people that don't know about your story. What happened with your son Evan?

MCCARTHY: Evan was diagnosed with autism in 2005. Without a doubt in my mind, I believe vaccinations triggered Evan's autism. We do believe because we were the witness with our child, our firsthand witness after we came home from the doctor's office and saw this regression of a child that was perfect and then slowly fading away.

CHETRY: The American Academy of Pediatrics and others continue to say that there is no link between vaccines and autism. They go on the say that the risk of not vaccinating could be even worse. What do you say about why, first of all, they were reluctant to talk about any possible link between vaccines and autism?

MCCARTHY: Well, when you really think about it, the reason why is because there is such a huge business in pharmaceuticals.

CHETRY: Paul Offit is one of these doctors who said, "One of the reasons why fear of vaccines exist is because of the power of the anecdote" as he puts it. "We're up against personal and compelling stories and we have to find a way to make real science more compelling."

He's somebody who also says that there are preventable diseases that people are dying from, that children are dying from, because they're not getting vaccinated.

MCCARTHY: People are also dying from vaccinations. Evan, my Evan, my son died in front of me for two minutes. So, you ask any mother in the autism community if we'll take the flu, the measles over autism any freaking day of the week. So, I think they need to wake up and stop hurting our kids. And we're not telling people not to vaccinate. I don't understand why it's so freaking hard to comprehend we deserve safe shots and a safer schedule.

CHETRY: You have been able to say that your son is healed from autism. That is also something that the medical community says that's not necessarily possible.

MCCARTHY: Right.

CHETRY: Explain how you were able to get him from the way he was two or three years ago to where he is now which is practically functioning normally.

MCCARTHY: Recovered from autism like thousands of other kids that are doing it. Following biomedical treatment, which is basically changing the diets, giving vitamins and supplements and detoxing the body from metals or Candida, which I didn't -- I never did a chelation with Evan. I just did all the other biomedical treatments and he recovered.

And the reason why the medical community has such a hard time with this is because we are treating and healing a vaccine injury. So, I'm begging in this book, empowering parents, you hear story after story of parents taking medicine into their own hands. This is a truly revolution.

CHETRY: Is there a danger in putting medicine into your own hands because technically you're not a doctor. Some of the other mothers in this book that talked about what they've done are not doctors as well.

MCCARTHY: Right. It's really hard. And I should say, take your child's health into our own hands. It's not like we're compounding medicine in our kitchen. I think greed has made it so almost impossible, though, to change the schedule and so all the parents start shouting and screaming, this is ridiculous, you're hurting our kids.

CHETRY: Jenny McCarthy, an advocate in your newest book, "Mother Warriors," thanks so much for talking to me. I appreciate it.

MCCARTHY: Thank you. A pleasure.

CHETRY: Fear of a freefall.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Your personal financial fear level on a zero to ten scale, ten being petrified?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ten.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Six.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An eight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Jeanne Moos hits the streets to see how people are dealing with the financial crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Literally, I put some money under my mattress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Then it was Congress, both parties continue to point fingers at each other as opposed to the rest of the country, which has just given the finger to Congress. You know, it's an ugly mess.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: OK. You know you should worry about the economic meltdown. But exactly how much should you worry? Our Jeanne Moos is out on the streets with real people. On a scale of one to ten, how panicked are we now?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MOOS (voice-over): All those screaming headlines from the day the market plunged -- "Meltdown", "Now what?", "What now?", "What a mess", "Well, that didn't work", "Where do can we go from here?", "Ouch." This is starting to sound like a Sarah Palin interview, but all joking aside...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Calm down.

MOOS: How calm or panicked are people, regular people? Your personal financial fear level on a zero to ten scale, ten being petrified?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ten.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Six.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely an eight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good eight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Probably a six.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably five. MOOS: Here's a five's financial philosophy about the safety of keeping money in the bank these days.

(on camera): What are you going to do? Where are you going to put it? In your socks?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I put some money under my mattress last night.

MOOS: Literally?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Literally, I put some money under my mattress.

MOOS: If I went to your house and look under your mattress, I'd actually find money?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would. I'm not going to tell you where I live, though.

MOOS (voice-over): He rated his fear level at nine. The most commonly picked level...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I tell you about seven.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seven.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seven.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eight.

MOOS (on camera): This eight abandoned his bank. You had money in it and you took it out?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I took it all out.

MOOS (voice-over): On the opposite end of the scale...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're buying stock today. It's a great day to buy.

MOOS: He's buying battered and cheap financial stocks like AIG. This 89-year-old...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd say eight.

MOOS: ...wishes she never bought $25,000 worth of bonds from the now bankrupt Lehman Brothers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, bonds are the safest I was told.

MOOS (on camera): You haven't been scared enough to go take it out of the bank?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have thought about it. But I think that people might start robbing houses and checking under the mattresses. MOOS (voice-over): No wonder she ranked herself a ten on our woefully unscientific fear scale. There actually is something known as the fear index called the VIX. It's based on options trading on the Chicago Exchange. Tuesday, the fear index went down as the Dow went up.

This 7-year-old is keeping her money in cash.

(on camera): Kids don't have piggy banks anymore?

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Actually, I don't have a piggy bank. It's kind of like a cow.

MOOS (voice-over): There's only one thing safer than a cow bank.

(on camera): You don't have any money in the market or anything?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm broke.

MOOS: Good for you. Congratulations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm so happy.

MOOS: Zero money, zero fear rating.

Jeannie Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: Failure to lead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Congress must act.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The motion is not adopted.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, HOUSE SPEAKER: We must move forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Washington runs out of political capital as we run low on credit. Plus, where east meets west.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the city of Diomede, Alaska.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Meet the Americans who can really see Russia from their house. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROBERTS: The $700 billion bailout bill is headed for Capitol Hill again with the Senate voting on a new version later on today. One change, a hike of FDIC protection on bank accounts from $100,000 to $250,000.

CHETRY: Yes. And our next guest though is skeptical that the bailout will even work? Bill Isaac is a financial consultant. He's also the former FDIC chairman, and he joins me now.

Bill, thanks for being with us this morning. You're not a fan of this bill. In fact, you spent -- actually we just lost contact with Bill. We're going to try to reestablish that. We're going to take a quick break. AMERICAN MORNING will come right back.

ROBERTS: Before we go to the break, let's take a look at the most popular videos right now on cnn.com. Calling it audible here, it's the football season. The late Jerry Falwell's Liberty University trying to get more of its students to the polls this November. Out of state students are being encouraged to register to vote in states. Support at the school is overwhelmingly strong for John McCain. But in statewide races Virginians have recently favored the Democrats. The commonwealth's most recently elected Senator Jim Webb and last year governors Mark Warner and Tim Kaine all Democrats.

Next up, voters like you are flooding lawmaker's offices on Capitol Hill with calls and e-mails still overwhelmingly against the economic bailout bill which the Senate plans to vote on later on today.

Plus, the Palin problem. After many critics pan Sarah Palin's interview on ABC and CBS News, Kathleen Parker, a conservative columnist with the "National Review" online called for her to dropout of the race. The McCain-Palin campaign says the governor is more than ready to be vice president. And that's what's most popular right now.

It's about 54-1/2 minutes after the hour. And breaking this morning the Senate set to act today on the $700 billion bailout. It's a slightly altered bill from the one that the House shot down on Monday with added bank deposit insurance and tax breaks.

Well, they are old enough. Really? Yes, they are telling the truth. New this morning, gymnastic officials are saying that China's gold medal winning women's Olympic team is of age, and that the investigation is over. The age to compete was raised to 16 back in 1997. Some reports and online records suggested some Chinese girls could be as young as 14. China's team that won the bronze eight years ago in Sidney is not yet in the clear.

New concerns about booster seat safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says 13 of the 41 models it tested may not keep kids safe in crash. Evenflo and Graco children products are included in the list. One company called the study misleading. The other said safety is always a top priority.

Senators trying to sweeten the bailout deal for some members of the House to get them on board tomorrow. New provisions include raising the amount of money that the federal government will insure in banks. The FDIC insurance cap is currently $100,000. If raised it could be a quarter of a million. That's something that both the presidential candidates are supporting.

There's also a mental health provision which would require health insurance companies to cover mental illness at a rate equal to that of physical illness. The legislation also includes an extension of some popular tax credits along with disaster relief and a patch for the alternative minimum tax.

CHETRY: Well, it is the biggest economic story of our time and we are all over it this morning. Kate Bolduan is covering Capitol Hill this morning. Suzanne Malveaux has reaction from the campaign trail. We start though with Kate live in Washington. Round two, I guess you could say this time with the Senate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Round two, exactly, Kiran. The Senate is set to vote on this new modified as they are talking about it bailout bill this evening. And it will be a very -- people are calling it a risk what they have done to this bill. They've modified it. They've taken the original tax from the House version, and they've added some add ons. And include in the add ons, as you've just talked about, FDIC cap insured. Raising the FDIC insured cap, as well as some tax provisions.

Alternative energy tax breaks as well as tax breaks for business and also the mental health parody legislation. Now these provisions are included with the intent of making this bill more appealing to some Republicans, specifically House Republicans who voted against the bill previously. But it's not a sure fire bet quite yet. Now Senator Judd Gregg, he is one of the principal negotiators of this deal on the Senate side for Republicans. Listen to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JUDD GREGG (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: It really is an issue that goes right to the heart of Main Street. If you don't have credit in America, Main Street can't function in the problem we are confronting. And you can't underestimate it. It can't understate it is that the credit markets have frozen up and we need to do something to address that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Now Senate leaders are confident they can pass this new modified legislation in the Senate, but then it has to go back to the House, and this very same bill needs to be passed there. And it's future there is a little less certain. There is some concern that while they may gain support from Republicans, they may also lose support from Democrats at the same time.

Kiran?

CHETRY: Yes. It's interesting when you take a look at what exactly some of the sides we're fighting for. And there were many Democrats that wanted to see more protection for people that were going into foreclosure. They also wanted some changes with how bankruptcy judges can handle things. And none of that is included in this Senate bill, correct?

BOLDUAN: Correct. None of that is. And when we were talking about -- there are many people who had great ideas and things that they believed in. But what I heard from many of the principals is it needed to be focused and targeted, and be targeted on not only being focus on this issue at hand, helping the financial markets, but also getting the support they need to push this through.

CHETRY: Kate Bolduan for us this morning on Capitol Hill. Thanks. That increase in FDIC insurance is something that both candidates are supporting. And it's something that may be way over due. The $100,000 limit on deposit was made back in 1980. It was not adjusted for inflation. $100,000 today is close to $266,000. That's according to the FDIC and the Bureau for Labor Statistics. That new bill would insure up to a quarter million dollars.

ROBERTS: The stakes reviving the economic package are so high, that Senators John McCain, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden are taking a detour from the campaign trail today to be in Washington for tonight's vote. Both presidential candidates are placing blame on Washington for failure the first time around.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But many constituents weighed in very heavily with members against this because of their perception that it was a Wall Street bailout and they are very angry at the Washington insiders and Wall Street. We made some progress. We have to. I mean, there's too many Main Street enterprises and families who are at risk here.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that the American people need to know that, particularly those who find themselves now threatened through no fault of their own, they need to understand that they're going to get help and this is not just something that is helping big boys with fancy lobbyists on Wall Street. And that, I think, has not been made clear as possible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)