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California Wildfire; Problems at the Polls; Focus on Florida
Aired October 23, 2008 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning everyone. I'm Tony Harris. And you are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Investor fears, will they've erupt again today and send the Dow plunging? The drop yesterday nearly 6 percent, over 500 points. And right now we are positive, in positive territory for most of the morning, up 261 points.
Do you remember Suzy (ph) from yesterday's show? We met her down in the CNN Center atrium. She was as frustrated as anyone about the economy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd like to know how they're going to change my life. How are they going to make my life the way it was before, before the economy crashed, before the Iraqi war? Help us get back into we the people and to a good American life like we were used to. What happened?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: What happened? OK. So tell us, Alan Greenspan.
The ex-Fed chief on Capitol Hill right now. He is calling the financial crisis -- quoting here -- a "once-in-a-lifetime credit tsunami."
This is a live shot of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing. Greenspan, former Treasury Secretary John Snow, and Securities and Exchange Chairman Christopher Cox all there. The lawmakers are asking the former federal regulators just what Suzy (ph) would ask, what the heck happened?
We'll be bringing you some of that testimony in moments here.
A raging brushfire causing a commuter nightmare in Los Angeles this morning. The fire has already torched 150 acres near Brentwood and Beverly Hills, along the San Diego Freeway. That is known as the 405, if you're familiar with the area.
CNN Radio's Jim Roope is on the line with us now.
And Jim, you know, as I think about this, it sounds like this is a fire burning pretty close to a famous landmark. Am I correct here?
JIM ROOPE, CNN RADIO: Absolutely. The Getty Center Museum is just up the hill. And the fire did get near that. But there was such a huge and aggressive assault on this fire from the get-go, from about 1:00 in the morning, not just with hand crews -- some 350 firefighters here -- but water-dropping helicopters that started flying at night.
And what's interesting about that is, that's incredibly dangerous. You can't see because of the smoke. You can't see because it's dark. There are high tensions wires everywhere.
But these guys know this terrain so well, they were able to get in here and drop water on these flames and keep it away from the Getty Center Museum. In fact, the museum will stay closed today, but it is not damaged at all.
HARRIS: Hey Jim, I'm thinking about Brentwood, which is close. Beverly Hills, as we mentioned, is in that area as well. Any homes there threatened?
ROOPE: Well, they were. You know, Mother Nature doesn't care if you're rich or poor, apparently, because the flames were definitely headed toward Brentwood, toward that Beverly Hills area. However, everything was taken care of very quickly.
When I got here early in the morning, about 3:30, 4:00, the hillside was just ablaze. And within an hour or so, all of this activity from firefighters on the ground and in the air had it under control very, very quickly. So a real catastrophe has been avoided. However, there's still concern because the winds are still out there and kicking up.
Jim Roope from CNN Radio with us.
Jim, appreciate it. Thank you.
HARRIS: Twelve days and counting to Election Day. And all week, you know, we're seeing eager voters lining up by the thousands, casting early ballots for president. But many voters apparently don't trust the system.
A recent CNN poll asks people if they're confident that votes will be accurately cast and counted. Fifty-eight percent said yes, 42 percent, as you can see here, said no. That is a big drop in confidence from our last elections, when 72 percent of people polled said yes, and 27 percent no.
West Virginia already seeing its share of problems at the polls. Our Brian Todd explains.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Calvin Thomas has voted in West Virginia since Truman beat Dewey. He's 81 years old now, and his eyesight is deteriorating, but when he tried to vote early in his hometown of Ripley and brought his daughter, Micki Clendenin, into the booth to help him, Thomas' vision wasn't the problem.
THOMAS: I went in there and pushed the Democrat ticket, and it jumped to the Republican ticket on the president of the United States.
TODD: Micki helped her dad touch the screen a couple of times, but his vote for Barack Obama still clicked on John McCain. Then it happened to Mickey. Each time, poll workers had them repeat the process.
MICKI CLENDENIN, VOTER: The lady came in and she just -- she very nicely -- she just said, "Oh." She said, "It's just been doing that. So just hit it again." So we hit it again. And this time it did go to Obama.
TODD: Same thing happened to Bobbi Oates in neighboring Putnam County.
BOBBI OATES, VOTER: When I went to my U.S. senators, I touched Jay Rockefeller. And it put a check mark beside Jay Wolfe, and I'm saying, "No. I didn't do this."
TODD: At least five voters reported the same problem in two West Virginia counties. State and local officials tell us these were isolated cases, that each time poll workers fixed the problem, and the correct vote was cast.
The machines, manufactured by a company called ES&S, will be used in several states this year and were among those that had problems in Ohio in 2004. Company officials tell us they've inspected the machines in West Virginia, and nobody has cast an inaccurate vote. In Ripley, West Virginia, we weren't allowed to film the actual machines that had problems but Jackson County clerk Jeff Waybright took us through the process with an identical machine and zeroed in on what he thinks happened.
JEFF WAYBRIGHT, CLERK, JACKSON COUNTY, WEST VIRGINIA: I touched on Barack Obama, what they thought they were touching, but their finger possibly rolled up. Now, if I roll my finger down, you can see, that it looks like my finger is definitely on Barack Obama's box.
TODD: We asked Waybright about insinuations in local news reports of political manipulation, since he and the neighboring county clerk are Republican and, in most cases, Democratic votes clicked to a GOP candidate.
WAYBRIGHT: If I was going to, you know, try to manipulate the machine, I wouldn't know how to do it to begin with.
TODD: The West Virginia secretary of state's office told us it thinks the problems could have stemmed from the machines not being calibrated properly when they were being set up. That means essentially that the electronic boxes weren't aligned right. (END VIDEOTAPE)
HARRIS: And Brian Todd joining us live from Washington.
Brian, good to see you.
TODD: Good to see you, Tony.
HARRIS: I guess at the heart of this for some voter confidence here, maybe the question here is, will there be a paper trail?
TODD: Well, in West Virginia, those machines do have a paper trail. But the catch is that the paper stays in the machines.
We saw a little printout in a little window in these voting machines. And it stays in there for auditing purposes. You don't get a receipt in West Virginia to take with you, you know, just to verify your vote.
So those machines do a paper trail. It's for internal auditing in case there's a dispute so that they can keep it there. But the voter doesn't get to take the receipt with them.
HARRIS: That seems a bit problematic. I think I'd like to know, I'd like to have that receipt in my hands.
TODD: But one thing to remember here, in those particular machines -- it's important to note this -- they showed us there are layers of safeguards. There are ways that you can check your vote.
If you touch it and it doesn't register the candidate you want, you touch that check mark again and it wipes it out and you can start over again. And then when you're done with the votes that you want to cast, a field comes up listing all of the ways that you voted, essentially saying, do you confirm this is the way you want to vote?
HARRIS: I see.
TODD: So there are layers and safeguards in there built into these machines. You've just got to pay attention.
HARRIS: That's it right there. OK, Brian. Appreciate it. Thank you.
And all day today CNN is focusing on your voting rights and fears over problems at the polls.
CNN's Josh Levs is joining me now to talk about a couple of things you should watch out for, everyone at home.
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we need to talk about this.
LEVS: And there's this term that you and I were talking about earlier. HARRIS: Which one are you -- purging or caging?
LEVS: Let's start with caging...
LEVS: Because everyone keeps talking about this. It's getting all this attention.
Most people don't know what it is. This is one thing we're going to look at now -- what is voter caging? We want to kind of break this down for you, because there's more and more reports about this idea.
Tony, this is the basic idea. A political group out there sends some sort of mass mailing into some area, then looks at which letters get sent back. Because on that mass mailing, it says, "Do not forward." Right?
So, sometimes the theory is they might target areas where there's a lot of foreclosures or areas that people vote a certain way in general. They look to see -- if they send something that says, "Do not forward," and it gets sent back, they say, a-ha, this person doesn't live there anymore. Now I'm going to go challenge this person's right to vote.
The problem with that is, there could be all sorts of reasons that something is marked "Do not forward" and gets sent back. Maybe someone is on vacation, in a hospital, serving in the military, maybe a college student whose mail still gets sent to him in college, still votes from his home address. These are the kinds of things.
So when we hear about this with voter caging, the theory is that this could really be a big problem.
HARRIS: OK. That was my question. Is this potentially a big problem, something just to be mindful of? I mean, can it impact a vote for particular precinct, a particular district?
LEVS: The theory is that it can be used to target a certain area and then challenge the right to vote of a lot of people in that area. So what a lot of people say who follow this kind of thing is, they say, if you suddenly get some political literature and you see it's marked "Do not forward," it's possible that it's this kind of operation, it's possible that that's what's going on.
HARRIS: Got you.
LEVS: Obviously you're there getting your mail, so you're one who knows what's going on. But if you have a neighbor who is maybe away who has that forwarding going on, it's something to watch out for.
HARRIS: And very quickly, talk to us about voter purging.
LEVS: Purging. We're going to look more at this next hour. Purging is when names are taken off of lists. The trick there is that sometimes that should happen, because you can't be listed in five different places if -- you know, maybe you moved. So we're going to look next hour at some reporting that suggests that some legitimate voters are being purged from the rolls. That's a big problem. More details next.
HARRIS: Appreciate it. Thanks Josh.
LEVS: You got it.
HARRIS: And here's another thing. From Lake County, Illinois, now, allegations of fraud regarding mail-in voter registrations, hundreds of them. What tipped them off? Well, workers noticed dead voters had been revived. One card was registered to a goldfish named Princess. Another one had canine written on the line asking for ethnicity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLARD HELANDER, LAKE COUNTY CLERK: Campaigns and candidates need to realize that things could be wrong. We can't say with assurance that all the people in our voter rolls are valid residents at the address where they're registered.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: Now, the Lake County clerk says registering by mail is based on an honor system and that system has been breached.
CNN is keeping them honest. If you have trouble at the polls, call the CNN voter hotline. Help us track the problems, and we will report those problems in real time.
Here is the number for you at the bottom of your screen: 1-877- 462-6608. We're keeping them honest all the way through the election and beyond.
And we are waiting right now for Senator Barack Obama to take the stage in Indianapolis. When he does, we will bring the event to you live right here in the NEWSROOM.
HARRIS: Presidential candidates making their closing arguments just 12 days left to the elections. John McCain focusing on Florida today, kicking off a rally in Ormond Beach.
Our Ed Henry on the scene.
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: John McCain is here in Florida because this is the mother of all battleground states. It's hard to craft out a strategy for him to win without carrying these 27 electoral votes. So he's talking up the economy because this state has been particularly hard hit by the foreclosure crisis, as well as a lot of retirees living here, watching their life savings evaporate because of the gyrations on Wall Street.
So McCain was launching what he calls the "Joe the Plumber Tour." Joe himself was not here, but instead, John McCain unveiled what he called "Tom the Lumberyard Guy," the man who runs this building materials shop where the event was held. We also saw "Richard the Florist," "Tim the Sports Pub Owner." You get the idea.
John McCain trying to send the signal that he'll stand up for the little guy while he's alleging that Barack Obama will raise taxes and hurt small businesses.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You have the same dream that "Joe the Plumber" has. They now own their own businesses and, combined, employ hundreds of workers because they've been successful.
Obama wants to spread the wealth around. Senator Obama wants to spread it around. That means fewer jobs at their businesses and fewer jobs here in Florida.
You know, this week we learned that Senator Obama is concerned that his plan for wealth redistribution is seen as welfare. So he just added a work requirement. Twelve days to go -- 13 days to go in this election, he changed his tax plan because the American people had learned the truth about it, and they didn't like it. It's another example that he'll say anything to get elected.
HENRY: Now, Obama has been pushing back against that attack by saying, look, either "Joe the Plumber" or "Tom the Lumberyard Guy," if they're making under $250,000 a year, they'll get a tax cut if Barack Obama is president. Also, Obama saying that McCain is really standing up for "Joe the Hedge Fund Manager," not "Joe the Plumber," trying to say he's not really standing up for the little guy.
So the bottom line is we're going to see this battle joined over taxes, front and center, in the final 12 days of this campaign.
Ed Henry, CNN, Ormond Beach, Florida.
HARRIS: Sarah Palin and her husband Todd will give depositions tomorrow. Palin asked for a second investigation into her firing of Alaska's public safety director.
The Palins will be questioned separately by an investigator for the state's personnel board. In the initial investigation, Alaska's bipartisan legislative council found Palin did have the right to dismiss Walter Monegan, but concluded she abused her authority by pressing him to fire her former brother-in-law, a state trooper.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger weighing in on the presidential race. CNN Election Center's Campbell Brown asked him about serving in Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: You suggested in an earlier interview that, if asked, you would consider serving in an Obama cabinet.
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: Absolutely wrong. Absolutely wrong.
BROWN: Well, explain what you meant.
SCHWARZENEGGER: I never said that. I just want you to know that it was maybe taken this way and that you've heard it that way.
BROWN: All right. Explain to me what you meant, because you're making a case here for a very post-partisan view of the world.
SCHWARZENEGGER: I made it very clear that I would not leave California before my term is up, which is the end of 2010, beginning of 2011.
SCHWARZENEGGER: So, therefore, it doesn't matter who is president. I will not leave the state, no matter for what position. So that's number one.
Number two, I made it also very clear that no matter who wins, that I will always be there and help in any way I can. If Obama wins or if McCain wins, if they ask me, can you help us here to go overseas and negotiate with environmental issues, with global warming, whatever it may be, you never turn down a president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: The Republican governor says he thinks McCain is a better candidate, but adds he thinks both men are, in his words, great candidates.
Millions of people living outside the United States also casting ballots in this election.
Let's check in with our State Department Correspondent Zain Verjee, in Washington.
Zain, as always, great to see you.
Here's what I'm thinking. The vote of Americans overseas, it seems to me, will be very important in this election.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPT. CORRESPONDENT: Yes, exactly, Tony. Their votes can be really crucial, even if you don't see them actually vote. We asked the State Department what exactly it was doing to help Americans living overseas to cast their ballots. And this is what they told us. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
VERJEE (voice-over): A get-out-the-vote party at the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In London, the embassy there is telling Americans wherever they are to step up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You seemed here to finalize your absentee ballot.
JANICE JACOBS, ASSIST. SECRETARY OF STATE: Our main role is to really help Americans exercise their right to vote and just to get information out to them about how to do that.
VERJEE: Explaining paperwork and deadlines, even sending absentee ballots to the state where voters or their parents last lived.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We really encourage you to send it in as soon as possible.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Well, that sounds like I'll probably make my mind up today.
VERJEE: For many, the process can be overwhelming.
HAROLD SCHEPIEN, AMERICAN IN LONDON: So it was a little bit confusing actually.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So was it helpful to come here today?
SCHEPIEN: Oh, yes, very helpful to come in.
VERJEE: Federal Express has a special deal new this year -- discounts. And in some cases, free delivery of U.S. ballots from 89 countries.
Absentee votes can make a difference. They were part of the bitter ballot count in 2000.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And a presidential election too close to call.
VERJEE: Counting of those ballots varies state by state. In some, absentee ballots can arrive after Election Day. Some states only count them a couple of weeks later.
Republicans use this Web site to hunt for votes. Democrats are online, too, with celebrities making the pitch to boost turnout.
GWYNETH PALTROW, ACTRESS: I'll be voting from London, but you can vote from anywhere.
VERJEE: The Pentagon and the State Department help get ballots to 1.4 million military members and their families, 100,000 U.S. government employees overseas, and maybe as many as six million potential American voters living outside the U.S. (END VIDEOTAPE)
VERJEE: The State Department says it's getting the sense, Tony, that more people are just motivated to vote this year than ever before. In Buenos Aires, for example, 800 people cast their absentee ballots.
And Tony, one other thing that's interesting is that many Americans living abroad have said that they hope the next president will improve the U.S. image overseas, that the U.S. has lost a lot of credibility, and that they face it every day living abroad. So that's part of that motivation.
HARRIS: Hey, Zain, will all overseas votes be counted?
VERJEE: Well, the State Department says yes, absolutely all votes will be counted. The thing is that there is a vast array of different rules for different states. But the bottom line is, they say it will be counted, if not on election day depending on the rules of when the ballots are received. They will be included when the state votes become certified.
HARRIS: OK, Zain. Good to see you. Thank you.
VERJEE: You, too.
HARRIS: CNN is keeping them honest. If you have trouble at the polls, call the CNN Voter Hotline. Help us track the problems and we will report the trouble in real time here. Here's the number; 1-877- 462-6608. And we are keeping them honest all the way through the election and beyond. Check out our political ticker for all the latest campaign news. Just log on to CNNpolitics.com, your source for all things political.
You know, we are standing by waiting for a Barack Obama event in Indianapolis. It will be his last campaign stop before he leaves the trail for two days to go visit his ailing grandmother in Hawaii. When the rally begins and when Barack Obama takes the stage, we will take you to Indianapolis, live.
Let's take you to the New York Stock Exchange now and give you a look at the big board. OK. I think that's -- we're in positive territory. A big jump in the last 30 seconds or so. Just before we came back on the air with you we were just up 92 points. But as you can see, man, 180 points, 175 now. I believe the NASDAQ is up as well. We will keep an eye on the market. A nice turn-around from yesterday's 514 point drop. We'll get a check of the market in a couple of minutes here, right here in the NEWSROOM.
And former federal regulators testifying this morning before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Give you a live look at that right now. Alan Greenspan, former Treasury Secretary John Snow and Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission Christopher Cox, all testifying. Lawmakers are asking these regulators, some former regulators what got us into this financial mess.
And boy, it is having an impact on jobs to be sure. So many people will head to the polls worrying about their jobs in less than two weeks. It is a huge concern for the presidential candidates trying to win those battleground states. CNN's Christine Romans joins us now from New York with the latest on job losses in those key states.
And Christine, you know, for a long time here, the job losses were in the manufacturing and housing sector. Are more sectors being impacted now?
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right, Tony. It's bleeding throughout the economy.
Just when you look at the pink slips from this week, you've got GM, you've got Chrysler, no surprise there. Goldman Sachs announcing it's going to cut 10 percent of its workforce. Merck, that's a drug company. National city, a financial services firm. You start to go down the list. You see retailers and the like.
I mean, it's all different kinds of parts of the economy. And so it has definitely spread from manufacturing and housing. Boy, some of those people who have been in the manufacturing sector have really been hammered over the past couple of years. And those are battleground states. Let's be honest.
We know in September that mass layoffs were the highest they've been since September 11, 2001. Mass layoffs, Tony, are when a company lays off 50 people or more in one fell swoop, in one big cut of the axe. And so that's 2,200 different events, as they call them, of mass layoffs in the month. You know, that hurts for a lot of folks.
When you look in the battleground states, you can see the job cuts since January, in some of these battleground states. We've been zeroing in on those because in states like Ohio and Florida and Nevada, Colorado, Missouri, North Carolina and others, folks are going to be going to the ballot box literally with their financial future in their hands.
And so it really makes it that much more important and that much more evident why it's issue number one, the economy, when people go voting. Now, we put this together this map with the help of moodyseconomy.com, the numbers that they crunch there about, how do you feel where you live?
ROMANS: Some people agree that there are parts of the country that look as if -- appear to be already in a recession. But some people who live, say, in Colorado, or in Texas, or Montana, they are having pretty good jobs markets. And they're having some pretty good economic growth.
So, those green states are economic expansion. The uncolored states where it looks like it might be yellow, those are at risk of falling into recession. And the red ones according to moodyseconomy.com, may already be in a recession. Of course, Moody's doesn't declare when a recession starts and stops. But just from the numbers they look out, they say it feels to people who live in those states like they're in a recession.
And also because Tony, because it is 12 days before an election, chief economist at Moodyeconomy.com is an unpaid adviser to the McCain campaign. I will point out that a lot of those numbers, those recession numbers, the analysts say again and again, that they play more into Obama's favor because technically people -- when the economy is going badly, they blame the incumbent party.
This time around, gosh, there are a lot of different factors that are at work here. People blame -- at this point, they're blaming the Treasury secretary, they're blaming Congress, they're blaming the former Fed chairman, they're blaming ratings agencies, they're blaming consumers, they're blaming mortgage lenders. They're blaming just about everybody.
HARRIS: I would love to spend some time talking about those ratings agencies. That was fascinating, the hearing on the House yesterday. I know we don't have time now. But, I'm going to send you an e-mail and then maybe we can get something worked up for next hour.
ROMANS: That sounds good. That sounds good.
HARRIS: OK, Christine. Thank you.
You know, you need a job to pay for your home. Many of you around the country watching your American dream become a nightmare.
HARRIS: Boy, oh, boy, homeowners just can't seem to catch a break. The latest data on the housing front shows that foreclosures are still a major problem for the battered economy. Carrie Lee is at the New York Stock Exchange for more on that, along with the reaction on Wall Street.
Carrie, it's been a good time. Good to see you.
CARRIE LEE, NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE: It's nice to see you as well, Tony.
HARRIS: I've got to tell you something. No surprise, here. People are losing their jobs as Christine Romans just pointed out, throughout this economy now.
LEE: That's right. And the sad thing is, there's no sign things are really getting better on the job front, also on the housing front, you know? So, it's a very tough pill to swallow.
The latest on housing today, more than 81,000 homes were lost to foreclosure last month. And the mortgage crisis continues to worsen. And then when you factor in these September figures, according to Realty Track, there were more than 750,000 homes in some state of foreclosure right now. And Realty Track expects that number to exceed one million by the end of this year.
So very disheartening. Now, the problems been especially concentrated in six states. Of course, California, the hardest hit. And that's accounted for more than a quarter of all the foreclosures in the country. And then also fellow Sunbelt states, names like Arizona, Nevada, also taking a beating as did vacation hot spot Florida, and Ohio and Michigan in the Midwest. Michigan, of course, Tony, because of all the auto layoffs in Detroit. So, really tough times.
HARRIS: Absolutely. So Carrie, the housing market collapse obviously has been one of the root causes of the financial crisis. And we're seeing more volatility today?
LEE: You know, it's been a little nutty, a little volatile. One again, futures reporting lower. Then we opened hire. Then the Dow hit negative territory. And now we're off the highs of the session. But still, up 172 points. So this after losing about 750 points in the last two days.
So we're continuing to see choppiness. The jobs today comes though even as investors are focusing on more job cuts. Yesterday it was Merck and Yahoo. Today Goldman Sachs, believe it or not. Sources telling CNN Goldman plans to cut about 10 percent of its workforce. That would be about 3,200 job cuts.
And you know Goldman was seen -- is seen as one of the strongest investment banks on Wall Street. The stock still trades at above $100 a share. But it's that there's a drought in the banking business. There's just not enough business to go around. Doesn't necessarily mean the company is in bad shape. Financial firms altogether have eliminated 110,000 jobs in the past, since this whole crisis in the past year. And there's a look at the industrials, up 175 points, Tony. Who knows where we'll be at the end of the day, or even in the an hour though?
HARRIS: That's right. That is so true.
Carrie, it's great to see you. Thank you.
LEE: Thank you.
HARRIS: You know, we just mentioned the House hearing on the economy. Allan Chernoff is monitoring that hearing from New York.
And Allan, again, who is on that panel who is testifying and what are we learning so far? Because we're trying to get some kind of an idea as to what got us into this mess in the first place.
ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SR. CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, Tony, before the panel right now we have the SEC chair Chris Cox, the former Treasury secretary John Snow. But, the focus is on Alan Greenspan, the former head of the Federal Reserve. The chairman, former chairman, I should say.
For 18 1/2 years every time he came to Congress it was pretty much the professor paying a visit. And the Congressmen on whatever committee was conducting the hearing, they were essentially asking questions as students would ask questions of a professor. No more, not at all.
Right now the chairman of the Federal Reserve is getting grilled, Although you see at the moment, the head of the SEC is speaking, Chris Cox. But Greenspan has been grilled this morning. He, as you'll recall, had been a big advocate for deregulation. He had always said, hey, the financial markets are able to work things out better than any regulation. Big financial players can handle their own risk. And this morning Greenspan has conceded that, well, he did make some mistakes.
Let's have a listen to some of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- coordination with other law enforcement authorities. But, you know, cleaning up the mess through law enforcement after the fact, while important --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where do you think you made a mistake then?
ALAN GREENSPAN, FORMER FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interest of organizations, specifically banks and others, was such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and the equity in the firms.
The problem here is something which looked to be a very solid edifice and indeed a critical pillar to market competition and free markets did break down. And I think that, as I said, shocked me. I still do not fully understand why it happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHERNOFF: Now the professor trying to figure out exactly what went wrong. Tony, he's not taking full blame for the financial crisis that we're experiencing right now. But, he is at least conceding some mistakes in his world view.
HARRIS: You know what? I've been listening to Alan Greenspan as long as you have. What was the miscalculation there? What did all that mean? What was the mis-step?
CHERNOFF: He had argued that banks knew enough to protect themselves, to protect their shareholders, to protect their money. They wouldn't take risks that were unreasonable.
Clearly that is exactly what has happened here. Greenspan says he can't figure it out. How did this happen? His world view he says, was just wrong with regard to that. He's also, Tony, describing this as a once in a century credit tsunami.
HARRIS: That's right.
CHERNOFF: And he's saying we should expect that unemployment is going to be getting a lot worse. He says this problem will not be totally resolved until housing stabilizes.
HARRIS: Nice job in breaking down that fed speak. That was good, Allan. Allan Chernoff for us in New York.
The economy is issue number one for many voters. Veronica de la Cruz joins us now to help sort through the different ways to look at the economy on the web.
Veronica, good to see you. What have you found?
VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, it's nice to see you, Tony.
Well, there are definitely some good resources, great web sites out there to help you look at the candidates side by side on all the issues. But of course, especially after that, we're going to go ahead and focus right now on the economy.
Let's go ahead and start with a web site called google in quotes. Now, all you have to do is type in the issue that matters to you. Of course, we're focused on the economy. Click that button right there, you give that spin. And that's going to give you a quote from each candidate side by side. And then you can go ahead and compare their position.
Also a lot of talk about both candidate's tax plans, Tony. If you're curious to see how you'd be faring under maybe Barack Obama's tax plan, log on to his web site. They --
HARRIS: I like that, yes.
DE LA CRUZ: They have one of this interactive calculator. Really interesting. Let's say, Tony, you're married with two kids. You make between $50 and $75,000 a year. You are saving for retirement and you have about $100,000 let's say, left to pay off on your house. You click the button and under Barack Obama's tax calculator, it says that you're going to save about $1,609 dollars. You're going to get that as a refund. And then under John McCain's tax plan, you will get about $645. That of course, is on that calculator.
John McCain's tax plan is highlighted on his web page. On his web page he talks about his pro growth tax policy. We're looking at it right here, also his innovation tax policy. And then on the GOP's web site they've also fired back. They've launched something called the Obama Spend-o-Meter. And on their web site they do say, and I quote here, "Under Obama's liberal fiscal agenda, there will be more than $1 trillion in new spending." And of course, you can check that out on the web at GOP.com.
Finally, if the you want to get into the discussion, talk about the economy, you can head to CNN.com. That is the forum right there at CNN.com/forum. I want to go ahead and share some of the discussion that is taking place right now. This is a user named Deb. She is in Brownswood, Texas, and she has this to say.
"Just an idea. Why not take the ridiculous amount of money spent on ads for this election and spread some of the wealth around to the people who need it the most in the USA or donate to Red Cross, Salvation Army, homeless shelters, et cetera. How much good all the millions spent on ads could do."
HARRIS: Well, you know, I believe our Campbell Brown is advocating such a position. It would be nice if it got a little traction here.
DE LA CRUZ: You can always log-on to CNN.com/forums and get into the discussion. Right, Tony?
HARRIS: Absolutely. See you next hour, Veronica. Thanks.
Richard Branson at it again, making yet another world record attempt.
HARRIS: So let's take you back to Indianapolis right now, live shot. Oh, OK -- Indiana Senator, Evan Bayh onstage right now to introduce Illinois senator, Barack Obama, holding a campaign event, as you can see, in Indianapolis. The event scheduled to begin in the 11:00 hour. Looks like maybe we'll get it in in the 11:00 hour, maybe it will spill over into the noon hour. Regardless, we will bring you that event and Barack Obama when he begins speaking right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.
You know as the saying goes waste not want not. General Motors has launched an initiative to make of its plants landfill-free.
Rob Marciano reports.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This General Motors engine plant in Flint, Michigan, is a landfill-free facility. It, along with 42 other GM plants worldwide, recycles or re-uses every bit of waste. Nothing is thrown away.
JOHN BRADBURN, GM ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAMS: Any waste is really a resource out of place. The key is to be innovative, apply science to technology and find the best possible outcome for that product.
MARCIANO: For years, GM and other car companies have recycled scrap iron and aluminum chips. They're melted to make new parts. But other waste streams pose bigger challenges, like this stuff called swarf (ph). A mixture of metal shavings and liquid.
BRADBURN: This swarf was getting landfilled up until a few years ago. This will go to markets on the outside and it'll be turned into materials that require iron.
MARCIANO: And this polymer material, which separates metal shavings from coolant, also used to be discarded after use. But now it's sent to an outside company for recycling into new products.
John Bradburn, GM's landfill-free expert, says he hasn't found anything yet that couldn't be re-used.
BRADBURN: When there's enough of something, you can usually find an interest in that material.
MARCIANO: GM says by the end of 2010, half of its 160 manufacturing plants will also be landfill-free.
Rob Marciano, CNN.
HARRIS: She refuses to turn over voter registration information and even got support from the Supreme Court. Now Ohio Secretary of State is getting death threats.
HARRIS: Well, the jury in Senator Ted Stevens criminal trial is in its second day of deliberations. The veteran Republican lawmaker from Alaska pleaded not guilty in July to seven felony counts. He is accused of making false statements on Senate financial disclosure forms to conceal home renovations and other gifts.
Talk about petty lifting. This picture live now from the Kennedy Space Center. Shuttle Endeavour is being moved from launch pad 39B over to pad 39A for a November 14th liftoff. Endeavor is shuttling about 19,000 pounds of equipment and supplies to the international space station. It was on the other pad, ready as a safety backup for an Atlantis mission to the Hubble Telescope. But that flight is now delayed until next year.
Now to the high seas. Billionaire, Sir Richard Branson is sailing across the Atlantic Ocean trying to break a speed record. Branson and his crew of champion sailors are trying to reach Lizard Point off the coast of England in less than, listen to this, six days, 17 hours, 52 minutes and 39 seconds. One thing's for sure. Nobody needs a shower.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOICE OF RICHARD BRANSON, VIRGIN GROUP CHMN: (INAUDIBLE) on the trip, and I've never seen him so clean. So (INAUDIBLE) just the waves go straight overhead. All over the sailors. That's what we want because we know -- we need (INAUDIBLE) and I think as long as the boat doesn't break, we've got a good shot.
So, we'll see. We've done our first 24 hours. We've got 453 miles clocked in so it's been (INAUDIBLE) excited, nothing has broken yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: Branson said in September, when he announced this latest undertaking, that he couldn't resist the chance at the greatest sailing record of all.
Hello again, everyone. I'm Tony Harris. And here are the headlines from CNN for Thursday, October 23rd.