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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
Fight for Battleground States; Charges of Fraud Against ACORN; Your Food Safety
Aired October 28, 2008 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, HOST: Thank you, Wolf.
Tonight one week to Election Day. Some polls suggest this race is tightening. We'll tell you what is happening on the front lines of this presidential campaign.
And alarming new evidence of the drug cartels all out assault against the government of Mexico, a war that our next president won't be able to ignore.
Tonight the federal government may give billions of dollars to General Motors to help it merge with Chrysler, taxpayer money that could be helped to pay for tens of thousands of layoffs.
And the Dow Jones industrials today soaring up by nearly 900 points. I'll be joined by three of the best economic thinkers; all of that, all the day's news and a lot more tonight from an independent perspective straight ahead right here.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Tuesday, October 28th. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. Senators McCain and Obama today battling trying to win votes in the critically important state of Pennsylvania. Most polls show Senator Obama has a lead of at least 10 points in Pennsylvania. But the McCain campaign says the gap is narrowing and nationally at least three polls suggest the race is tightening.
One Gallup poll shows Obama has a lead now of only two points over Senator McCain. We have extensive coverage tonight and we begin with Jessica Yellin with Senator Obama who traveled to Harrisonburg, Virginia tonight.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In suburban Pennsylvania, Barack Obama shifted his closing arguments into high gear.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: John McCain has ridden shotgun as George Bush has driven our economy towards a cliff and now he wants to take the wheel and step on the gas.
YELLIN: In Virginia his focus was health care reform. OBAMA: To be fair there is one thing he will change and that is called our health care system, but he won't change it in a good way.
YELLIN: The Obama campaign is seizing on a statement by a top McCain aide who told CNN that under John McCain's health care plan people will probably keep the health insurance they get at work because what they are getting from their employer is way better than what they could get with the credit.
He is referring to McCain's plan to offer a tax credit to anyone who decides to get private insurance. Obama pounced.
OBAMA: It took until the last seven days of this election for his campaign to finally admit the truth, but better late than never. The truth is John McCain's health care plan is radical, it is unaffordable.
YELLIN: The McCain campaign charges Obama is taking the remark out of context, but the health care message is one the Obama campaign believes has deep appeal to undecided voters, including those here in one of the reddest parts of Virginia. The site of his speech, a county that supported George Bush by more than 70 percent in 2000 and 2004. And Obama's visit here is designed to drive down McCain's margins in this part of the state forcing him to expend time and resources in what should be safe terrain for a Republican.
YELLIN: So Lou, while Barack Obama is ending the day playing offense in Virginia, he did begin it playing defense. Although he is ahead in Pennsylvania as you point out, John McCain and Sarah Palin have all but moved into that state. Clearly the McCain/Palin ticket has decided that is a vote rich place that they believe they can win and so now both campaigns are vying to get the last word to Pennsylvanians -- Lou.
DOBBS: Jessica, thank you -- Jessica Yellin reporting.
Senator McCain today declared he is confident that he can win the state of Pennsylvania. Senator McCain said it would be wonderful to fool the pundits as he put it and achieve a surprise victory over Senator Obama. Dana Bash with the McCain campaign reporting now from Quakertown, Pennsylvania.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the next president of the United States, John McCain!
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Down double digits in a Democratic state he needs to win the White House, John McCain remained the gritty warrior.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I choose to fight. Don't give up hope. Be strong. Have courage and fight. Fight for a new direction for our country. Fight for what's right for America.
BASH: One week to go and Pennsylvania Republicans are looking for some red meat to keep their energy and spirits up. Sarah Palin was there, too, and delivered with the "S" word.
SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Joe Biden calls higher taxes, he calls that patriotic. But to "Joe the Plumber", Joe said it sounded to him like socialism.
BASH: McCain aides insist internal data shows him inching back up thanks to relentless rhetoric that Barack Obama will raise taxes. Always looking for a fresh angle, McCain seized on a Pennsylvania interview Joe Biden gave a day earlier.
SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN, (D-DE) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What we're saying is that $87 billion tax break doesn't need to go to people making an average of 1.4 million. It should go like it used to. It should go to middle class people, people making under $150,000 a year.
MCCAIN: Senator Biden said tax relief should only go to middle class people, people making under $150,000 a year. Are you getting an idea of what's on their mind?
MCCAIN: A little sneak peek. It is interesting how their definition of rich has a way of creeping down.
BASH: An Obama spokesman called McCain desperate insisting Obama will only increase taxes on families making $250,000 or more. Still McCain had plans to push on with his tax argument in critical Pennsylvania, but his visit was cut short. An outdoor rally abruptly canceled due to bad weather even though a few diehards had trickled in to brave the rain.
BASH: With such little time to waste -- and with such little time to waste, certainly canceling a rally was such a huge struggle here was a blow to John McCain, but Lou, if you want some evidence of just how important this state is you just have to look at John McCain's schedule. This coming weekend, the final weekend before Election Day he will be in Pennsylvania both Saturday and Sunday -- Lou.
DOBBS: All right, Dana, thank you very much -- Dana Bash reporting.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hitting back at Senator McCain and his assertion that a Democratically-controlled White House and Senate and House of Representatives would be dangerous. Senator McCain said Senator Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid are what he calls a dangerous threesome. But Pelosi said dangerous is a word that should not be part of a national campaign. She said a Democratically-controlled Congress would actually be more bipartisan. Senator Obama's campaign is calling on supporters to take the day off on Election Day. The Obama campaign releasing a new Web ad that asks supporters to skip work or school so they can help mobilize Democrats on November 4th.
The ad says Democrats can make history. The McCain campaign called the assertion plain arrogant. The left wing activist group ACORN, a group with links to Senator Obama today blasting accusations that it is involved in voter registration fraud, the latest example of possible voter fraud is in Indiana. Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita says his offices have found evidence of multiple criminal violations. Drew Griffin has been following this story and has the report for us. Drew, what's the latest?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Lou, that Indiana secretary of state not only says credible evidence ACORN broke state laws, but federal laws as well in its drive to register voters in northern Indiana. He wants a criminal investigation of the thousands of fraudulent voter registration forms turned in by ACORN.
The Lake County prosecutor there said he is reviewing that request. As for ACORN though, the group is going on the offensive against what is called a smear campaign by Republicans. ACORN says it's launching a 30-second ad, calling on Republicans and particularly GOP presidential candidate John McCain to end what ACORN says is voter suppression activities.
Tomorrow the group, Lou, says it will detail several lawsuits against voter suppression across the country and Lou, ACORN says its mission to register traditionally non representative people at the polls, poor people, minorities, but as we've reported a lot of the registrations have been fakes and even "The New York Times" now says ACORN's voter registration drive may have actually registered only a third of the new voter that the group is claiming -- Lou.
DOBBS: ACORN with a relationship through the primaries with the Obama campaign initially denied by the Obama campaign, later acknowledged to the tune of more than $800,000 for voter registration. This group is sort of being dismissed as sort of at the margin. But now it appears that it is under investigation in 13 states. These serious accusations now seem to be surfacing all across the country.
GRIFFIN: Serious, Lou and what we are hearing from election officials is this isn't the first time. They have had trouble with ACORN registration drives over and over again. That's what they are telling us, an apparent failure these election officials say for ACORN to clean up its own house.
Now we have been after ACORN trying to figure out what they are doing about it. We thought we were invited up to their headquarters, but we have been in negotiations with them ever since to see what an open door interview would be like with ACORN, but we're still trying to find out exactly what ACORN is doing to basically clean up its act in these voter registration drives. DOBBS: And Drew, we are also on this broadcast, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, negotiating with ACORN's executives to have a sit-down discussion and an exchange of views to find out what is going on here. It is a -- it's a strange period right now and we appreciate you and your reporting in particular, Drew, for bringing more light to this organization and its activities -- Drew, thank you so much -- Drew Griffin.
Well a legal victory for voter rights advocates in the swing state of Ohio tonight, a victory that could benefit Democrats. A federal judge ruled that counties must allow homeless voters to list park benches and other outdoor locations as their addresses. This is the latest in a series of election controversies in Ohio.
Others include a battle over the security and reliability of Ohio's e-voting machines and Republican charges that the Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is trying to give Democrats an unfair advantage in this election. Well if you notice any trouble at all at your polling place on or before Election Day, we want to hear about it. Please call our voter hotline 1-877-462-6608, 877-462-6608 and you can find that number on our Web site at loudobbs.com.
Up next, new concerns about dangerous food imports from communist China once again. We'll have that report and one of the most serious blows yet to U.S. and Mexican efforts to defeat the violent Mexican drug cartels -- that report.
And startling new details on the efforts of corporate elites to import even more cheap labor into this country to compete with middle class American workers; all of that, a great deal more still ahead. We'll be right back. Stay with us.
DOBBS: New evidence tonight that corporate America continues to abuse this country's visa program. The Department of Labor reporting that a New Jersey computer company cheated foreign guest workers out of their wages, the very same cheap foreign labor that it hired to replace middle class American workers. The news comes just weeks after a government report found more than 20 percent of all applications for the visa program are fraudulent. Bill Tucker has our report.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The economy slows, unemployment rises and the number of layoffs increase. A Web site logging the layoffs in the tech industry run by CNET shows more than 45,000 layoffs announced in the tech industry alone during October. Yet both presidential candidates remain supportive of expanding the H- 1B visa program for hiring skilled foreign workers.
They support the program even though a recently published investigation by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, which oversees it, found a fraud rate exceeding 20 percent with violations ranging from nonexistent businesses being granted visas to phony job descriptions. One group representing American computer programmers says the H-1B system is bankrupt.
JOHN MIANO, LAWYER, PROGRAMMERS GUILD: Since 1996 there have been scathing government reports about the H-1B program and 14 years later Congress has refused to do absolutely anything. Basically H-1B is the best legislation money can buy.
TUCKER: Ironically the first report in 1996 was from the Department of Labor. It was titled "The System is Broken and Needs to be Fixed." One critic of outsourcing says it hasn't been fixed. It has been exploited by employers.
RON HIRA, ROCHESTER INST. OF TECHNOLOGY: It is perfectly legal, for example, to pay below market wages, to undercut American workers. It's perfectly legal never to recruit or look for American workers before hiring an H-1B and it's perfectly legal to replace American workers with H-1B workers, often times forcing U.S. workers to dig their own grave, forcing U.S. workers to train their foreign replacements.
TUCKER: So those critics say it should be no surprise that Bill Gates when asked last year by Congress what the limit on the program should be had this to say.
BILL GATES, CHAIRMAN, MICROSOFT: Even though it may not be realistic, I don't think there should be any limit.
TUCKER: Bill Gates' answer is there is a worker shortage and if he doesn't get more visas, he will move his businesses overseas.
TUCKER: And Gates underscored that point last summer when he announced the opening of a software development center in Canada saying he couldn't find enough skilled foreign workers in the United States. Wages for computer programs, by the way, fell 5.5 percent from August of last year to August of this year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. I don't know, Lou. Does that sound like a labor shortage to you?
DOBBS: Well no and it sounds like more nonsense from Bill Gates, an obviously intelligent fellow, also extremely wealthy, but also frankly lying straight through his teeth when he talks about H-1B visas and his reasons for moving plants.
Bill Gates should be embarrassed. He should be ashamed of his conduct. If he wants to move his whole company out of the United States so be it, but it's time for respect of American labor. It's not a time to continue this all-out assault against working men and women in this country.
And I invite Bill Gates to sit here and have a full and frank exchange of views on it. I really believe that he ought to be extraordinarily ashamed of himself. This is just unconscionable and to stand there in that committee hall and say that back in March of this year, disgusting. Bill Tucker, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Well Microsoft is just one of several corporations that have pushed for an increase in the number of these so-called temporary visas trying to bring in more cheap foreign labor into the United States. Now there is a cap of 65,000 a year on these H-1B visas.
Another 20,000 of these visas are set aside for high technology workers with advanced degrees. But the 85,000 total figure is really an artificial cap because there are so many sub categories of H-1B visas that have no limits at all, which include visas for nonprofits and research institutions and this past April the Citizenship and Immigration Services agency received 163,000 applications for the 2009 H-1B visas.
Those H-1Bs are issued on a three-year basis, but can be extended to six years. No government agency, I repeat, no government agency now monitors those workers to make certain they actually leave the United States when those visas expire.
Well there are new concerns about the safety of this country's food supply. High levels of the toxic chemical melamine have now been found in eggs processed in communist China. This is China's second major melamine scare. Earlier this year melamine was found in milk that sickened more than 53,000 children in China. Now many fear contaminated food could have found its way into the United States. Louise Schiavone has our report.
LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is perfect and fire retardant foam and kitchen tiles, but as we learned during last year's pet food scare there is nothing about the chemical melamine that recommends it for the food chain, and yet there is a virtual explosion of melamine contamination in foods produced in China, the problem served at America's table through modern trade policy.
ALAN TONELSON, U.S. BUSINESS & INDUSTRY COUNCIL: It is unbelievable to think that U.S. trade officials when they were making China policy going back to the early 1990s didn't know how completely decrepit and completely unreliable the Chinese regulatory system was.
SCHIAVONE: Some manufacturers in China are suspected of introducing melamine to add bulk to rudimentary products like wheat gluten and pet feed.
REP. ROSA DELAURO (D), AGRICULTURE FOOD & DRUG ADMIN. SUBCMTE.: We were told after the pet food issue that China was going to get hold of this. The fact is, is that what we have seen is internal regulations are so weak as to put the lives of infants at risk in China.
SCHIAVONE: A brave consumer concern now both in China and nations that buy from suppliers there, foods produced with egg and dairy products contaminated with melamine, leading in some cases in China to infant deaths, kidney stones and kidney failure, among the tainted foods, identified in parts of the world, eggs and chickens, infant formula, crackers and chocolates.
CARL NIELSEN, FMR. FDA IMPORT OPERATIONS DIR.: I look at melamine as a poster child with everything that's wrong with the global economy as it relates to FDA regulated goods and product safety.
SCHIAVONE: The FDA has issued an alert to stop imports of affected products. The U.S. has had a history of importing chicken from China, almost 90 million metric tons in 2006 and close to 30 million the following year. The imports stopped when Congress denied the USDA funds to handle Chinese poultry imports.
SCHIAVONE: Lou, more than a quarter of a million registered foreign food companies ship goods to the U.S., a minor fraction of them are inspected by the FDA. One suggested solution, full and complete product labeling with liability for damages borne by the businesses doing that importing -- Lou.
DOBBS: You know the American consumer is just being screwed with here by our own government. I have to say that, Louise, the fact that the USDA stopped those imports of chicken based on the inability to inspect them, that is one of the few times I've heard a government agency actually doing something intelligent, correct and in the consumer interest in a very long time.
SCHIAVONE: That was a decision that the USDA had to make because Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and others in Congress have led the charge and said look we are not importing anymore of these chickens. You are not going to get any money to inspect them, so you can't import them, that wasn't something the USDA did on its own.
DOBBS: Well what do you know, Congress working, too. Thank goodness for Congresswoman DeLauro, she's done an amazing job here and deserves our thanks and as well as our commendation. Thank you so much Louise, thank you -- Louise Schiavone from Washington.
Up next here a huge rally today on Wall Street -- how about that? Where is that depression? Three of the nation's top economic thinkers join me, we'll be talking about markets, the economy, and whether either one of these candidates has a clue what to do about this economy.
And border drug wars, new evidence tonight the Mexican drug cartels have infiltrated Mexican authorities, government at the highest levels, even the United States Embassy is involved now. We'll have that special report and more straight ahead. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: New evidence tonight of the rampant corruption in the Mexican government. A supposedly elite Mexican federal anti-drug trafficking unit has been corrupted by the very drug cartels it is investigating and pursuing. Those cartels have also possibly infiltrated the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. This is one of the most serious blows yet to both U.S. and Mexican efforts to defeat the drug cartels. Casey Wian has our report.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is well known that local police agencies throughout Mexico have been corrupted by violent drug cartels. Federal law enforcement and military have taken over cartel tainted police forces in some Mexican towns. But now Mexican officials say cartels have also infiltrated an elite federal anti-drug trafficking unit as well as the United States Embassy in Mexico City.
EDUARDO MEDINA MORA, MEXICAN ATTORNEY GENERAL (through translator): We conducted investigations which show that members of the deputy attorney general's office were providing classified information about operatives against the Vitan Lavier (ph) organization to members of that organization in exchange for large amounts of money.
WIAN: Five members of Mexico's anti-organized crime unit are charged with tipping off cartel members about investigations into their activities. Since July, 35 members of the Mexican law enforcement agency have been fired or arrested.
FACUNDO ROSAS, MEXICO ASST. SEC. OF PUBLIC SAFETY (through translator): The job that is being done in Mexico by the federal government is very intense. Where there are people involved in crime the Mexican government is combating it in a full frontal attack.
WIAN: Also compromised sensitive operations involving the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The DEA would not discuss the extent of the damage from the cartels infiltration, but it was quick to praise Mexican cooperation in Saturday's arrest of Eduardo Ariano Felix (ph), an alleged leader of another drug cartel.
ANTHONY PLACITO, DEA: This case absolutely could not be made was not possible, but for the heroic actions of the men and women of the government of Mexico.
WIAN: Acts of heroism in Mexico's war against drug cartels, however, are often overshadowed by blatant corruption. On Sunday a Mexican immigration official was arrested at this remote border crossing in Lukeville (ph), Arizona, for allegedly attempting to smuggle 170 pounds of marijuana into the United States.
WIAN: U.S. law enforcement agencies have long been reluctant to share information with their Mexican counterparts, fearing they would tip off cartel members. The events of the past few days are likely to heighten that distrust at a time when the United States is preparing to spend $400 million helping Mexico fight the drug war -- Lou.
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Casey -- Casey Wian. Up next here, Senator Biden comparing Senator Obama with President Kennedy, President Lincoln, a few others even though Senator Obama isn't quite yet president, what is Senator Biden thinking about?
Also rising concerns that that federal bailout money for Wall Street could be used to pay for layoffs in the automobile industry as well as bonuses for those Wall Street executives who screwed up so badly. We'll have that report.
And the stock market today soars by a mere just about 900 points. Does that mean concerns about depression are somewhat, well, exaggerated and premature? We will be talking about that with three top economic thinkers, next. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Welcome back. A remarkable powerful rally on Wall Street today, the Dow Jones Industrial gaining 889 points finishing at 9065, this the second largest point gain ever in the history of the Dow, the sixth largest percentage gain ever. Investors made $1 trillion in stock market cap today. The Dow's rally coming despite weak news on the economy. In fact, consumer confidence today fell to a 41-year low. Home prices tumbled a record 17.7 percent over the past year.
Joining me now to assess all of this and to give us their best judgment of what is in store for us, three of the sharpest economic thinkers, in Washington Bill Isaac, former chairman of the Secura Group, a Washington financial services firm, former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; Bill, good to have you, in Chicago, Pat Choate economist, author of "Dangerous Business," also Ross Perot's running mate back in 1996. Pat, good to have you here. Here in New York, David Walker, president and CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, former U.S. controller general and head of the General Accountability Office. David, good to have you here.
Let me turn first to you, Pat. This is, well, 900 points, the bailout is working at least today, right?
PAT CHOATE, AUTHOR, "DANGEROUS BUSINESS": At least today it is working. The financial markets are unfreezing a little bit. I'm happy for investors and Wall Street and banks but we are not seeing anyone talking about taking care of the working people, middle class, Main Street in this country. That's not being addressed so far. We've been into this for six weeks and nothing is being done for Main Street on this.
DOBBS: David, your thoughts?
DAVID WALKER, CEO, PETER G. PETERSON FDN.: One day is not a trend. I think there is going to be a big debate about what should be done with regard to homeowners affected by this crisis. There are bad actors on Wall Street and people who engaged in transactions they weren't qualified for and never had an opportunity to realistically meet those obligations so we need to separate the weak from the chaff on both ends. DOBBS: Taking your point, there are bad actors in both areas, those who have been irresponsible the difference it would seem to me, if you will, homeowners are not being given the principle amount of almost $1 trillion in bailout money and the fools and naives on Wall Street and the buddies of Hank Paulson are getting hundreds of billions of dollars. That is unconscionable and absolutely inexcusable.
WALKER: Lou, I think it is inevitable that something is going to happen after the election and something probably is going to be done to help people on Main Street. There is a building pressure to do that. We don't know how to authorities that have been given by the Congress to the treasury secretary and others how they're effectively going to be utilized. There is increasing sense that something has to be done for Main Street.
DOBBS: Bill Isaac, you have to feel gratified at this point we've seen none of this federal bailout money being used to buy those toxic assets that all of us here have been critical from the outset. That money is being used, as you recommended, to recapitalize these businesses and banks. How do you feel tonight?
BILL ISAAC, CHAIRMAN, SECURA GROUP: Well, I feel really good about where we're headed right now in terms of recapitalizing the banking system and also getting the FDIC to stand behind the banking system with the guarantees of creditors of banks. Those are really positive developments that I think are unfreezing the financial markets in important ways. That has to come before we are going to have recovery.
I do think -- I hope that the treasury will not use any of that bailout money to buy out these bad loans. That's just a waste of money. I'd much rather see that money go towards some sort of fiscal stimulus and help families who are in danger of losing their homes. I think we need $350 billion of the $700 billion to recapitalize the financial firms, not just banks but other kinds of financial firms and the other $350 billion devoted to fiscal stimulus and taking care of homeowners.
DOBBS: What do you make of the idea that Hank Paulson and the Treasury Department are putting money into Goldman Sachs at about half the return preferred that was achieved by Warren Buffett putting money onto their balance sheet? That inexcusable, isn't it?
WALKER: Who was negotiating for us?
DOBBS: We should have gotten Warren Buffett, it appears. This is the kind of nonsense you get into but with Hank Paulson coming from Goldman Sachs and this to occur, Bill Isaac, I mean, what is your reaction to that? Doesn't there have to be some arm's length here?
ISAAC: Well, I think it would be difficult to treat Goldman Sachs differently than the other institutions that are getting this money. I actually have not favored charging exorbitant rates to the banks for this money. All of this money that we're having to put into the banks has been lost in large part because the FCC and the FASBY have followed horrendously bad accounting rules those mark to market accounting.
DOBBS: FASBY being the Federal Accounting Standards Board.
WALKER: Financial accounting.
ISAAC: Right and through their rules they have destroyed $500 billion of capital in our financial system needlessly. Now the taxpayers have to put it back into the system. It makes no sense at all and we haven't gotten rid of market to market accounting yet.
CHOATE: Lou, it seems to me that we should be expecting these candidates and certainly the congress to come back very early in November and do something such as imposing a moratorium for 120 days on foreclosure, Barack Obama's promised this. We need some quick changes in the bankruptcy laws so that people that are at risk of losing their homes, federal bankruptcy judge cans deal with that. We need to deal with credit card debt. Many, many millions of people, $1 trillion worth of unsecured debt out there are winding up going into bankruptcy and they are being put into debtor's prison by the bankruptcy laws. We need that changed immediately, I think.
DOBBS: David, you get the last word here. To what degree have we seen this crisis met by public policy and the response of this government? What should we be expecting?
WALKER: We still don't know how the authorities the Congress has given are going to be used yet. I do think there is going to be more help for homeowners.
But you know this is not the big one. The federal government's finances are in terrible shape. I hope these candidates' promises don't turn out to be reality because they will make us in worst shape.
DOBBS: It is great when we reach the point where we hope they aren't telling us truth. My guess tells me we are unlikely to be disappointed in that regard. Gentlemen, thank you very much; Bill Isaac, Pat Choate, thank you very much David Walker.
Up next, Senator Biden, well, he makes another gaffe, a mistake, a gaffe, I don't know what you want to call it. He is comparing Senator Obama to some rather prestigious presidents from our history. We'll try to figure out what in the world is Senator Biden thinking about as we talk with three radio talk show hosts here next.
The automobile industry looking for a bailout of its own. We'll have that report next. Stay with us. We're coming right back.
DOBBS: Well Chrysler and General Motors are looking for billions of dollars from the federal government including money for a merger. The industry saying thousands of American jobs are now at risk. Critics warn a taxpayer bailout will pay for layoffs and plant closings and a big bailout for a private equity form that owns Chrysler. Lisa Sylvester with our report.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Auto sales are way down and Detroit's big three are bleeding money.
DAVID COLE, CENTER FOR AUTO RESEARCH: Right now this industry is right at the edge of running out of cash. Is it a week, a month or a couple of months away? I don't know. We are getting so close to the edge we are concerned about the catastrophic consequence.
SYLVESTER: What do they do? Turn to Washington for help. General Motors reached out to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. According to a Reuters report, the company wants $10 billion to help facilitate a merger between GM and Chrysler. White House confirmed that talks are ongoing.
DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The automakers have been in contact with us. We have been talking to them at various levels and at different departments including treasury and commerce. We are trying to work the tools congress provided us.
SYLVESTER: Michigan's congressional delegations say an infusion of cash is necessary to save tens of thousands of American jobs. But critics say the federal government is not an ATM able to bail out every failing industry with the taxpayer holding the bag. One of the biggest winners if the federal government steps in is a company called Cerberus Capital Management, it bought an 80 percent stake of Chrysler last year and owns 51 percent of GMAC, a personal finance company. The chairman of Cerberus Capital Management is former treasury secretary John Snow.
DAN MITCHELL, CATO INSTITUTE: Whether it's the Wall Street bailout or whether it's auto company bailouts, you find out the politicians, the lobbying class, the political elite wind off better off.
SYLVESTER: We contacted Cerberus. The company declined to comment. General Motors in a statement said, "We have been in contact with a variety of federal officials for some time during this extraordinary and difficult economic period. However, we won't comment on the specifications or nature of those discussions."
SYLVESTER: Any financial help would be on top of $25 billion in loans congress approved for the auto industry to build fuel efficient vehicles. That money has not been dispersed yet and no word on how fast the process will move. The Department of Energy is writing the regulations. The auto industry is eying this money to source the merger. That money would be used to integrate the two companies and that would mean plant closures and layoffs. Lou?
DOBBS: Isn't it amazing how Hank Paulson doesn't seem to run out of friends. He has bailed out all his buddies on Wall Street. Now he can help out the former treasury secretary Mr. Snow. It is delightful the way this works. SYLVESTER: It is, indeed. You look at this company Cerberus and they have invested in the auto industry. You peel back and find out who is at the top of the list, the former treasury secretary John Snow.
DOBBS: Well, it's disgusting is what it is. Meanwhile, as we have been discussing throughout this broadcast, homeowners hard pressed getting absolutely nothing. That's because, of course, they don't live in Hank Paulson's neighborhood, I'm sure. Thank you very much, Lisa; Lisa Sylvester.
Coming up at the top of the hour, Campbell Brown, "No Bias, No Bull."
Campbell, what are you working on?
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Well Lou at the top of the hour exactly one week to Election Day, you can feel all the urgency, anxiety and energy of the campaign trail. Tonight Barack Obama trying to nail down a state that is supposed to be a long shot for him but one he could actually win. John McCain in a state that ought to be a shoo-in for him but one that he might lose.
Also, cutting through the bull tonight, a promise Barack Obama has not kept. We'll talk about that.
And our rogue's gallery gets a new member tonight. A senator who had trouble in an airport restroom who pledged he was going to step down but he is still around. We'll tell you why when we come back.
DOBBS: Imagine that, a fellow with problems in a restroom not keeping his promises. All right. Campbell, thanks a lot. We look forward to that.
Up next, Senator Obama being already compared with some rather prestigious presidents by his rather, well, what would you say, vice presidential candidate. We'll tell you what Senator Biden is up to. John McCain, Sarah Palin, saying Senator Ted Stevens should resign. I'll be joined by three of the country's top radio hosts telling us what their listeners are saying.
We'll be right back. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Joining me now three terrific talk show radio hosts; in Chicago, Steve Cochran, WGN. By the way, we've got Steve is working at the same time he is joining us here. The broadcast being simulcast over WGN. In our Washington, D.C. bureau, Wilmer Leon of Sirius XM Radio and in Raleigh, North Carolina, Warren Ballentine of Syndication One, a new trimmer Warren Ballentine. Good to have you with us.
Steve Cochran, this race, I'm just told as I said that Steve Cochran is not available right now because he is in the middle of that radio broadcast. Let me go back first, Wilmer, let's turn to this race. We've got a week to go. Any prospect in the world that in your judgment that John McCain can overtake Senator Obama?
WILMER LEON, SIRIUS XM RADIO: Well, I'll have to preface every comment by saying seeing all legally registered voters are allowed to vote, based upon the polls we're seeing right now, I think it's going to be very difficult for Senator McCain to overcome the lead that Senator Obama has, particularly when you look at the fact that Senator McCain right now is in red states playing defense while Senator Obama is in red states playing offense. And I think it's going to be a very tough row to hoe, but as we've seen in 2000 and in 2004, we can't take anything for granted. We won't know until Wednesday, the 5th.
DOBBS: OK. And as we look at what is happening right now in the battleground states, John McCain staked out in Pennsylvania with Governor Palin. It looks like they're going to make a battle out of that. What is your thought there, Warren, as to what that strategy is and whether or not it will work?
WARREN BALLENTINE, SYNDICATION ONE: Well, I think the strategy they have to have is just to keep fighting if they want to have a chance to win this. I agree with Wilmer in the fact that this isn't over until it's over. Just because Barack is leading in the polls, that doesn't tell us who is going to come out and vote. If everybody comes out and votes and everybody does what they're supposed to do, Barack will probably win in a landslide. But if people don't go out and vote and don't participate, all is fair in war and politics. Right now they're in the middle of the war. Can McCain pull this out? It's highly unlikely. But is it impossible? In 2000 and 2004 the elections were stolen in my opinion.
BALLENTINE: In both elections in my opinion.
DOBBS: All right. Well, that's terrific. Is Steve Cochran there now? Not yet. Let me go back, Wilmer, if I may to you. What are your listeners engaged -- what is dominating their interest right now? Is it the economy?
LEON: Most definitely it is the economy as well as the election. But people are really looking at this economy and they're confused about this bailout because people can't figure out why the debt is being nationalized and the profit is being privatized. And when you -- in any algebraic equation you're supposed to balance by what you do on the left side you do on the right side. We're bailing out the banks and nothing is being done for the homeowner and that doesn't make any sense.
DOBBS: This is precisely what Barack Obama and John McCain both voted for. They both supported this bailout. They both supported $150 billion in pork to get it through. And at least John McCain started talking about $300 billion for the homeowners. That hasn't obviously happened. Barack Obama talks about a moratorium on foreclosures. But this really isn't getting much done, is it, Wilmer? LEON: No. In fact, I wrote an op ed on this entitled "it's not what you say. It's how you vote." So they can talk about bailing out the homeowner. But if they don't vote for that. If that's not a cornerstone of the legislation, it's all sizzle and no steak.
DOBBS: I'm sorry. Go ahead, Warren.
BALLENTINE: One of the things I would like to put in here is honestly I'm not in love with the Republicans or the Democrats because honestly if they want to fix the problem and make sure it doesn't happen again, why don't they put a federal usury law on the books. We can put that in play right now and we can stop people who are purchasing homes and getting credit cards and buying cards from being 20 percent and 15 percent interest on their purchases. This would help a lot of people be able to re-establish their credit and be able to purchase things. That's something nobody in congress is talking about.
DOBBS: Well Senator Obama and Senator McCain both are going to be, whichever one is elected president here, they both been talking about what they're going to get done, how much they'll spend, whether it's universal health care, how much they're going to tax, Obama talking about how much he's going to tax the top 5 percent; McCain talking about how many taxes he's going to cut. Do your listeners have a pretty good sense that in point of fact neither one of these guys is going to be able to deliver a darn thing that he's been talking about?
BALLENTINE: Well, I can tell you my listeners are more concerned with. They are more concerned with the fact that these guys are making -- signing checks without any money in the bank. They want to make sure they can deliver on these checks and promises. One of the biggest problems they have --
DOBBS: That's what I'm saying to you Warren. Do your listeners understand they're not going to be able to cash a check; they're not going to be able to write a check? This is all BS at this point.
BALLENTINE: Well one of the biggest things -- my listeners understand that whoever the president is, they're going to have to be able to work with the Congress and the Senate to get their initiatives and their legislation passed and through. One of the things they're talking about --
DOBBS: Warren, I don't think I'm getting through here. Working with them is no problem because if it's Senator Obama you've got all Democrats. Excuse me Warren. Excuse me. I'm asking straightforwardly, do your listeners understand we're in such an economic mess that neither one of these men is going to be able to deliver on their promises?
BALLENTINE: Well Lou, respectfully. They understand that these are promises and campaign promises but they also understand that some of these promises can come to fruition if people work together. What I was about to say, when Clinton got into office, he was unable to pass comprehensive health care reform even though it was all Democratic. Just because Barack gets in the there, that's not a guarantee everything is going to be passed.
LEON: It's about agenda and it's about priorities. Obviously not everything that either candidate is talking about they're going to be able to deliver on. But what you're looking at, I think, and the difference between the two candidates has to do with general direction, insight as well as setting of priorities. If we start to reduce --
DOBBS: No, no. I understand that, Wilmer.
DOBBS: I don't know how to be any clearer about this. Neither one of these men, irrespective of who has won, given the economic circumstances, a trillion dollar deficit, there's not going to be the ability given the weakness of the economy, to raise taxes. I mean is that a part of the discussion right now? We're not talking about the quality of leadership or the tone of leadership. We're talking about the economic reality that we now suddenly face.
BALLENTINE: Whoever gets to the presidency is going to have a problem, no matter who it is. Everybody understands that. You're right, we're not going to be able to raise taxes. You're absolutely right.
LEON: But I also think though, Lou, that right now people are hurting to such a degree that they're in many instances, they're not really getting bogged down in the particular details of tax policy or health care policy. They're looking for a change in direction.
LEON: And so they're trying -- they're looking for a change in direction. With that change in direction, positive outcome can result.
From your lips to god's ears. All right. Thank you both, Wilmer and Warren. Steve Cochran, because of satellite failure, I presume that's what it was, am I correct, could not join us. Those technical problems. We apologize both to you and Steve Cochran. Gentlemen, thank you very much.
We'll be right back with more of your thoughts. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Well one quick last email, Linda in Florida saying, "$5 billion, Lou we're not getting our money's worth in this election." That's the cost of this election. Send us your thoughts at loudobbs.com. We love to hear from you. Thanks for being with us. Good night from New York.
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