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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
Return of the Clintonistas; Lobbyists Huge Power; Automakers new Appeal; Showdown off East Africa; Who's Protecting you?; Cartels Infiltrating Border Patrol
Aired November 19, 2008 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: Thanks, Wolf. President-elect Obama chooses another top Clinton era figure, Tom Daschle, to join his cabinet. We'll have a special report on the role of Clintonistas and lobbyists in Obama's team.
Also, the big three automakers go to Capitol Hill again to plead for a government bailout, and one of the most outspoken critics of the government bailout program, Congressman Darrell Issa is among my guests.
Also tonight, a dangerous new strategic challenge to this country's interest in the western hemisphere, communist China and Russia aggressively trying to expand their influence in Latin America.
PILGRIM: ... all the day's news and much more straight ahead here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Wednesday, November 19th. Live from New York, sitting in for Lou Dobbs, Kitty Pilgrim.
PILGRIM: Good evening, everybody. President-elect Barack Obama today chose another former Clinton era figure to join his cabinet. Now the president-elect wants former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to be secretary of Health and Human Services and if confirmed, Daschle will play a leading role in pushing Obama's health care reforms through Congress.
Now Daschle is already facing tough questions about his links with lobbyists. He currently has a top job in a lobbying company and his wife is one of the most powerful lobbyists in Washington. Jessica Yellin reports from Chicago.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President-elect Barack Obama's latest choice for his cabinet, former Senate Democratic Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who will also serve as health care czar. It's another indication the president-elect will not let devastating economic times slow his push for health care reform. One of the cabinet posts still not spoken for, secretary of state. Will Senator Clinton take that chair? BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Whatever they want. This is a deal between senator -- president-elect and Hillary. And you should talk to them, but...
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Thank you.
B. CLINTON: I'll do...
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Thank you very much.
YELLIN: CNN has learned that former President Bill Clinton is cooperating with the Obama vetting process. He's agreed to release the names of major donors to his foundation and would allow the Obama administration to review sources of future income. He'd also agree to remove himself from day-to-day responsibility for his foundation.
B. CLINTON: We're both committed, completely committed to his success, so that's for them to work out. (INAUDIBLE)
YELLIN: The Clintons are also offering help in less direct ways, as Obama's team take shapes, there are plenty of familiar faces.
YELLIN: Kitty, Barack Obama did have a few light minutes at the office today. It was a birthday celebration for his vice presidential elect, Joe Biden. John Biden turns 66 tomorrow, and he was presented with cupcakes, 12 cupcakes with 12 candles. He said he's only 12 in dog years and a bunch of paraphernalia from the White Sox and the Bears, clearly a hint from the boss about which teams he should be supporting in the future -- Kitty.
PILGRIM: All that very important. Thanks very much, Jessica Yellin. Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle is one of several members of Obama's team with strong ties to Washington lobbyists. Lobbyists and special interests are already trying to buy influence in the new Congress and the next administration at the expense of working men and women and their families. Lisa Sylvester reports.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After leaving his Senate seat in 2004, Tom Daschle went to work for the prestigious Washington lobbying giant Alston and Bird. The firm specializes in a number of areas, including health care. In 2008 alone, the company earned $5.8 million in lobbying fees from clients such as Bayer Corporation, the American Hospital Association and the National Association for Home Care among others.
CRAIG HOLMAN, PUBLIC CITIZEN: Daschle has not been a registered lobbyist, but clearly, he's been involved in extensive lobbying activity for a lobbying firm in this field. Yeah, this is something that concerns me.
SYLVESTER: Surprising perhaps because when Barack Obama was on the campaign trail, he pledged lobbyists would not dominate his administration.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: They will not work in my White House and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I'm president of the United States of America.
PILGRIM: But in fact, lobbyists do have cozy connections to the incoming team. Vice president-elect Joe Biden's chief of staff Ron Klain is a former lobbyist. John pedestal, co-chair of the Obama transition team has lobbied for progressive causes. His brother Tony is a top-notch Washington lobbyist and Daschle's wife Linda is an A- list Washington lobbyist.
MARY BOYLE, COMMON CAUSE: It's a very you know incestuous town where you know people are related, married. And it is -- that's why disclosure is important.
SYLVESTER: Despite lobbying reform, the voices of special interest groups are getting louder. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the amounts spent this year on lobbying will for the first time top $3 billion.
SHEILA KRUMHOLZ, CTR. FOR RESPONSIVE POLITICS: I think it is surprising to many to hear this since the overall economy is slowing that the lobbying industry is going like gang busters.
SYLVESTER: Obama campaigned on a message of change, but one thing has not apparently changed. The lobbyists have not been booted out of Washington.
SYLVESTER: And who spent the most on lobbying this year? Well topping the list, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spending close to $58 million on lobbying this year alone -- Kitty.
PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Lisa Sylvester. Well as Lisa just reported, lobbyists wield huge power in Washington. There are at least 30 lobbyists for every member of Congress. Now with a new administration about to take office, it's time to restrict the influence of lobbyists and special interests on our government and our Congress.
Back in June, Lou challenged presidential candidates Senator Obama and Senator McCain to take firm action. Now here is what Lou said on this broadcast on June 4th.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOU DOBBS, HOST: How about pledging to the American people, Senator Obama, Senator McCain, precisely that. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. No lobbying by any member of your administration for five years from the time they end their service with the United States government.
(END VIDEO CLIP) PILGRIM: Now, hopefully, President-elect Obama will agree to end the corrosive influence of lobbyists in Washington once and for all.
Top executives of the automobile industry today went to Capitol Hill for a second straight day to appeal for a government bailout. Top Democrats say the government should hand over $25 billion from the Wall Street bailout fund, but opponents of the bailout say the carmakers should declare bankruptcy and reorganize their businesses. Dana Bash reports from Capitol Hill.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Auto executives came back to Capitol Hill to make their case one more time for a $25 billion rescue. And lawmakers' steep skepticism gave way to sparring.
REP. PAUL KANJORSKI (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Can just tell me in absolute terms how much money do you need to survive, General Motors, from today until March 30th?
RICHARD WAGONER, GENERAL MOTORS CEO: Congressman, it's going to depend on what happens with suppliers and markets.
KANJORSKI: I understand that. Give me your worst-case scenario?
WAGONER: The worst-case scenario, the amount of money would be significant? I mean we have supplier...
KANJORSKI: What is significant?
WAGONER: (INAUDIBLE) billion dollars every month.
BASH: GM's CEO could not fully answer that question, but he insisted 25 billion will keep them afloat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eighty percent of consumers said they would not buy a car from a company in bankruptcy.
BASH: But their urgent cry for help was undercut by news of corporate excess. ABC News reported the big three's CEOs flew to Washington to ask for taxpayer money on costly company jets.
REP. GARY ACKERMAN (D), NEW YORK: It's almost like seeing the guys show up at the soup kitchen in high hat and tuxedo.
REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: I'm going to ask the three executives here to raise their hand if they flew here commercial. Let the record show no hands went up. Second, I'm going to ask you to raise your hand if you're planning to sell your jet in place now and fly back commercial? Let the record show no hands went up.
BASH: Spokesmen for the auto executives insist using private jets is standard practice for security reasons. Meanwhile, with time running out auto bailout supporters scrambled behind the scenes for compromise on the major divide, where the money should come from. SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: We should not leave without trying to find common ground between those two pots of money, both of which exist and we're working it hard.
BASH: But back at the hearing, evidence of Detroit's huge challenge.
REP. MICHAEL CAPUANO (D), MASSACHUSETTS: But damn it, I don't want to help again and get it stuffed back in our ear at home that you took the money and you blew it.
BASH: And the auto executives got some bad news this evening, Kitty and that is that there was supposed to be a test vote on Democratic legislation tomorrow to give the auto industry that $25 billion. But that is not happening now.
Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, reversed his decision to do that basically because they don't -- do not have the votes. So right now there is no vote scheduled to help the auto industry possibly until Congress goes out. They're holding out hope inside the Democratic caucus that perhaps there could be some compromise that is being worked on feverishly behind the scenes.
But you know in talking to several sources right before coming on the show, they say that it is probably unlikely they're going to be able to come up with something that will be acceptable to Democrats and Republicans both in the Senate and in the House -- Kitty.
PILGRIM: Well Dana, as you point out, this has become very, very bitter. Where is President-elect Obama in all of this?
BASH: Nowhere, and it's really interesting. Obviously, he has said that he also is one of those people who thinks that Detroit should get help, but one of his closest confidantes, Dick Durbin, told CNN today that he is really not engaging. He's not making phone calls, no arm twisting, nothing.
PILGRIM: All right, thanks very much, Dana Bash. Well as Dana just reported, some congressmen were absolutely furious with the auto industry executives for flying to Washington in personal jets not on commercial aircraft. Here is more of what some of those lawmakers said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ACKERMAN: Couldn't you all have downgraded to first class or jet pooled or something to get here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're talking to people that are schlepping back and forth, going through all the drama in the airports every day along with the American public.
CAPUANO: I am very interested in my constituents who basically do not trust you. They really don't trust me all that much, but they really don't trust you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PILGRIM: And the auto industry executives did not respond specifically to those criticisms. They simply said they are quote, "streamlining their business operations in general".
Well the uncertainly over the future of the automobile industry today added to pessimism about the economy. The Dow industrials today closed at their lowest level in more than five years. The index lost more than 400 points, ended the day below 8000. Crude oil prices also declined; crude oil ending the day below $54 a barrel.
Pirates tonight remain in control of a huge supertanker that was hijacked off the coast of East Africa, but another group of pirates suffered a major setback in a confrontation with an Indian Navy warship. David McKenzie reports from Kenya.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pirates continue to be the news here in East Africa. An Indian Navy ship attacked a suspected mother ship of the pirates. Their spokesman told CNN that this was a necessary action against a dangerous foe.
CMDR. NIRAD SINHA, INDIAN NAVY: We told (INAUDIBLE) stop the investigation. They responded on the offensive and they said that they would blow up Indian naval ship. This was followed up with them fighting onboard. At the same time, we saw -- observed some people that moving around with rocket-propelled grenades, also arms (INAUDIBLE) fired.
MCKENZIE: Fourteen vessels are now held by pirates off the coast of Somalia. Most notably the "Sirius Star" that massive supertanker that was taken southeast of the Kenyan port of (INAUDIBLE). Because of the nature of that vessel, it's garnered lots of news, but there have been many vessels that have been sitting there for weeks, if not months.
(on camera): The "Sirius Star's" company is in negotiations with the pirates, trying to release their 25-multinational crew from their clutches.
David McKenzie, CNN, Nairobi.
PILGRIM: Still to come, violent Mexican drug cartels are infiltrating our law enforcement agencies. We'll have a special report on the escalating border drug war.
Also, the Food and Drug Administration opens its first office in communist China, but will it protect you from dangerous imports?
And communist China and Russia launch a dangerous new challenge to U.S. interests in our own hemisphere. We'll have a special report. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
PILGRIM: Anti-American leaders are wasting no time in sending a message to President-elect Obama. Communist Chinese and Russian leaders are visiting Cuba, Venezuela and other left-leaning countries in this hemisphere and they're taking advantage of the transition between the Bush and Obama administrations to bolster their position in the region.
PILGRIM (voice-over): Chinese President Hu Jintao this week is on a state visit to Cuba to promote the close ties between both countries, attending a trade fair in Havana as one of Cuba's largest trading partners. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev also visiting the region, Peru, Brazil and Cuba, the first trip by a Russian leader to Havana in eight years. In a dramatic move this week, Russia said it would help build Venezuela's first nuclear reactor. Many say Obama, who during the campaign signaled a willingness to talk to adversaries, is now being tested.
FRANK GAFFNEY, CENTER FOR SECURITY POLICY: He needs to signal as soon as possible that his administration is not going to be trifled with by adversaries while he seeks better relations. It is not going to be at the expense of America's vital interests and those of its allies.
PILGRIM: Some say Russia is acting out on a long list of grievances against U.S. influence in its neighborhood. Retaliation for U.S. agreement to base missiles in Poland, the expansion of NATO, and what Russia views as interference in its conflict with Georgia.
GLEN HOWARD, JAMESTOWN FOUNDATION: What we're seeing is, is that the Russians view Latin America as a part of our backyard and they see it as part of this -- the testing of the sphere of influence.
PILGRIM: During the campaign, foreign policy was not often discussed, so Obama's position on many issues is still unclear.
PETER BROOKES, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: We didn't get a really good sense. Remember, the economy dominated the latter parts of the campaign. So many very, very important issues I don't think necessarily were addressed.
PILGRIM: Obama has made only a few comments about China trade and even fewer remarks about Russia and missile defense.
PILGRIM: Now some say all this is timed not only as a parting shot at President Bush, but as a power play during the key transition period. The Russian president in Washington said last week said quote, "hopefully the new president will have the willingness to discuss the missile defense issue and not just rubberstamp the missile defense policies of the Bush administration." Well the Food and Drug Administration today is taking new steps to increase oversight from products from communist China. Now the agency has failed to keep unsafe foods and drugs from entering the United States. Now it has finally opened an inspection office in China. The FDA expects four inspectors, just four inspectors, to determine the safety of China's food and drug exports. Emily Chang has our report from Beijing.
EMILY CHANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The U.S. Food and Drug Administration opened its first office overseas in Beijing, China. China, the origin of one health and safety scandal after another from toxic pet food to a contaminated blood thinner Heparin linked to the deaths of dozens of people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wife Bonnie died in December.
CHANG: The list of poisonous Chinese products goes on, including seafood and eggs, toothpaste and cough syrup. Recently, tainted baby formula killed at least three babies and sickened 54,000 more in China.
(on camera): It took the FDA two months to stop Chinese dairy products at the U.S. border and officials say insuring the safety of imports is becoming more and more difficult.
(voice-over): Last year, the U.S. imported some $856 million in drugs from China and $4.4 billion worth of food. The FDA says it simply can't inspect it all.
MICHAEL LEAVITT, HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES SECY.: The volume of those goods has become so robust that it requires a change in our strategy.
CHANG: The FDA is also opening offices in Shanghai and Guangzhou (ph) with 13 employees total. Some will inspect, others will liaise with the Chinese government.
CHEN ZHU, CHINESE MINISTER OF HEALTH: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
CHANG: The government should not just respond to the incident but find a root of it, said the Chinese health minister. The FDA wants all products certified before they get to the U.S. by a third party. The challenge will be insuring this third party does its job in a country where corruption is widespread, and cheap sometimes deadly additives have been used repeatedly to pass quality tests and raise profits.
HE JIGUO, AGRICULTURAL UNIVERSITY: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
CHANG: If someone adds something on purpose, that's not expected, that will be a huge problem, said one expert. A problem exported along with Chinese products all over the world.
Emily Chang, CNN, Beijing.
PILGRIM: And tomorrow, we will have a one-on-one interview with Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt and much more on the FDA's new attempt to protect Americans from dangerous imports. We'll have that special report tomorrow.
Nestle is recalling 900,000 pounds of Lean Cuisine brand frozen dinners after small chunks of blue plastic were found in several containers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says one injury was reported. Now the pieces of plastic were found in three varieties of Lean Cuisine chicken dinners, and the dinners were produced between August 18th and October 27th of this year. For more information on the recall, please go to our Web site loudobbs.com.
Coming up, big three automakers beg Congress for help. One lawmaker who says no way, Congressman Darrell Issa will be my guest.
Also, Mexican drug cartels may be buying their way into the border patrol. We'll have a special report on that. Stay with us.
PILGRIM: The deadly Mexican drug cartels are expanding their reach into this country. And now, according to the FBI, the cartels are actually recruiting people to apply for jobs as U.S. border patrol agents, and in a few cases, they have apparently succeeded. Casey Wian has our report.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former Customs and Border Protection agent Margarita Kristen (ph) pled guilty this year to importing more than a ton of marijuana into the United States. She and a handful of other agents along the border in recent years have been found to be cooperating with drug and alien smuggling organizations.
According to the FBI in El Paso, Texas, a new trend is emerging. Drug cartels are recruiting their American contacts to apply for jobs as border patrol agents. They're attempting to exploit the Bush administration's mandate that the border patrol hire 6,000 agents in two years.
T.J. BONNER, PRES., NAT'L BORDER PATROL COUNCIL: The most critical failure that has allowed cartel members and other criminals to infiltrate the border patrol has been the fact that the screening process has been watered down. No longer is the border patrol conducting a full background investigation before it offers people a job. And brings them on board and provides them with training.
WIAN: The border patrol denies that its recruiting standards have been weakened and says all applicants undergo the same background check as the FBI and Secret Service. Still, a border patrol spokesman says, "we're very concerned that as we expand our reach, we will continue to see these efforts by drug and alien smuggling organizations to infiltrate our agency."
The FBI's lead agent in El Paso tells LOU DOBBS TONIGHT the number of cases of cartel affiliated border patrol agents is very small. But he stresses that even one or two can have serious consequences.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The border patrol.
WIAN: The border patrol says it has increased its use of lie detector tests and it's working with other law enforcement agencies to screen out potential cartel operatives. But veteran agents say that's not enough. They want tougher standards for new agents.
(on camera): The FBI emphasizes the vast majority of border patrol agents are honorable and hard working, but as border security efforts intensify, drug cartel tactics are becoming more brazen. And federal authorities are struggling to keep up.
Casey Wian, CNN, Los Angeles.
PILGRIM: Well that brings us to the subject of tonight's poll. Are you confident in the federal government's ability to stop Mexican drug cartels from infiltrating the border patrol? Yes or no. Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll bring you the results later in the broadcast.
Corruption fueled by Mexico's drug cartels today reached deep into Mexico's federal police agency. Ricardo Gutierrez Vargas (ph), Mexico's chief liaison with Interpol is suspected of leaking information to Mexico's deadly drug cartels.
Now Gutierrez Vargas (ph) is being held under house arrest. He's the fourth Mexican official arrested recently as part of an anti- corruption sweep. Interpol is sending a special team to Mexico to determine just how much sensitive information may have been passed on to those cartels.
A leader in a local crackdown against illegal immigration, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, is taking on a new role, now the Maricopa County Arizona sheriff will star in his own reality television show "Smile, You're Under Arrest". It will premier in December on the FOX reality channel. The show will use comic actors and scenarios to lure wanted felons out of hiding.
Well we have time now for some of your thoughts and Tom from North Carolina wrote: "I am a teacher and I would like to get one of these CEO jobs. They have a much better performance pay system than I have. Just keep messing things up and get paid more."
And Phyllis from Pennsylvania wrote: "I like your idea of trickle up economics. We, the American taxpayers, would see some of our money in our pockets for a change, instead of in the pockets of people who have more than enough money already." And George from New York: "Why are lawmakers referring to the bailout of the auto companies as if the companies themselves are the only ones to benefit from it? What about the millions of Americans whose jobs will be saved?"
We'll have more of your e-mails a little bit later in the broadcast. Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of Lou's new book "Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit". It's now available in paperback.
Coming up important legal developments tonight in the battle over Proposition 8, California's ban on gay marriage, influential Christian conservative Tony Perkins is among my guests.
Also, a leading congressman is demanding a top level investigation into the government's bailout of Wall Street. And that congressman, Darrell Issa, will join me.
And Democrats move one step closer to achieving super majority in the U.S. Senate. We'll have the very latest on that for you next.
PILGRIM: Senate Democrats are one step closer to the magic number 60 for a supermajority. The democrats today gained a senate seat after convicted felon Ted Stevens conceded Alaska's election, and now the democrats are closely watching the unresolved elections in Minnesota and Georgia. Bill Schneider has our report.
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Two senate races remain undecided, Minnesota and Georgia. How important are they? Democrats now have 58 seats. They need 60 votes to cut off republican filibusters. Do the math.
Alaska has just elected its first democrat to senate in almost 30 years, Mark Begich. Begich defeated Ted Stevens, the longest serving senate republican in history. The astonishing thing isn't that Begich won, it was that Stevens almost got re-elected although he was convicted last month on seven counts of corruption. Republicans were ready to throw Stevens out of their party.
GOV. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Ted Stevens out in Alaska became the personification of much of what had gone wrong with the party.
SCHNEIDER: If Stevens had won and then resigned or been expelled, there would be been a special election, and republicans might have kept the seat. Who knows, maybe Governor Sarah Palin might have run. In Minnesota, Republican Senator Norm Coleman has a 206- vote lead over Democrat Al Franken. The state has just begun a recount of 2.9 million ballots by hand.
AL FRANKEN (D), MINN. SENATE CANDIDATE: I'm cautiously optimistic. SCHNEIDER: Georgia is holding a run-off election to the senate December 2nd. Some very big guns are showing up to campaign. John McCain for Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss, Bill Clinton for Democrat Jim Martin.
FMR. PRES. BILL CLINTON: Will you take personal responsibility for helping Jim Martin? Will you put Georgia back on the right path and send a message to the rest of the country?
SCHNEIDER: But how does Martin campaign in a state that McCain won? Carefully.
JIM MARTIN (D), GEORGIA SENATE CANDIDATE: People know especially now with a democratic president, they can work closely with the president in President Obama.
SCHNEIDER: Obama needs every senate vote he can get, which is one reason why he advised senate democrats not to drive Joe Lieberman out of the democratic caucus despite Lieberman's disloyalty to the republican ticket, and you know what? They didn't.
PILGRIM: We saw Al Franken today already on capitol hill. It seems like he's confident of the outcome.
SCHNEIDER: Well Norm Coleman the republican incumbent that he ran against is already claiming victory in Minnesota. Franken's view is why should he be the winner and me be the sore loser. In Franken's view, he has just as much right to behave like a winner as Norm Coleman does.
PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Bill Schneider.
The Senate today canceled a planned vote on the auto industry bailout. This cancellation came after the big three executives made another plea for federal help.
Congressman Darrell Issa is opposed to the bailout in the automobile industry, and he joins me now. Thanks for being with us, sir.
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Kitty.
PILGRIM: You voted against this twice. Today, you introduced legislation calling for a bipartisan commission, sort of like the 9/11 Commission or the Iraq Study Group, to actually look at this. Why do you think it's so important to do this? And how fast could they actually do that kind of analysis?
ISSA: Well, because the commission would work full-time and be less partisan than either a new president, an old president, or for that matter the House or the Senate, they could get this done, at least develop some expertise within 30 to 60 days, and then ultimately put a report out in a timely fashion. The big question now is that, you know, bailout after bailout is going to keep coming. And so the longer we take before we develop a nonpartisan entity to begin looking at this, the longer we're going to say, well, that takes too long. In September, if we had done that, we already would have the beginnings of some expertise that would be outside of politics.
PILGRIM: That's interesting. You know, you have not minced words on this. Last week at a hearing, you actually questioned the interim assistant treasury secretary, Neel Kashkari. You basically called the Treasury out, saying they're doing a bait and switch game. Why do you feel so strongly about the way the Treasury has been handling this? Do you think it's really as bad as all that?
ISSA: I think it's worse than all that. I think that this has been more like day trading than the kind of investment that the American taxpayers expect with their dollars.
There's nothing wrong with building confidence back and putting the full faith and credit of the American people behind our financial system. There's everything wrong with picking winners and losers.
Kitty, I'm a native of Cleveland, even though I lived in California for more than 20 years. Cleveland is watching National City disappear because Hank Paulson picked a winner and a loser. And Kashkari was quite frank in saying that, you know, they make these decisions. They made the decision to put $7 billion into PNC, ultimately dooming National City by not telling them -- they couldn't even apply for the money -- and then having them bought out for $5.5 billion. If you're worth $5.5 billion to another bank, you probably are worth putting real faith of the American people behind you to save the 10th largest bank in America.
PILGRIM: You know, we're all living in this economy. But it may come down to partisan politics. You have 10 Republican members of the House co-sponsoring your legislation. You don't have one Democrat that's signed on. Do you think that this should be above partisan politics at this point?
ISSA: It should be. And that's the whole reason for the bill is we have got to get it out of partisan hands as quickly as possible. And that includes partisan hands of this administration and the next administration.
And very clearly, when we were talking just a moment ago about the bailout of the auto companies, everybody knows that we have a core problem with the auto companies' profitability going forward, but we're being forced to debate about whether or not we're going to save union jobs or whether we're going to save big business jobs.
It shouldn't be about union jobs. It shouldn't be about big business jobs. People should be able to look at the viability of the companies. And if they have a fair plan, we should make sure they have an opportunity to survive.
But right now, that's not going on. They're not talking about the viability of those companies. They're talking about jobs and whether they're good union jobs or not. That's the kind of thing that goes on in Washington. It's not what the American people want us investing in.
PILGRIM: The big three automakers were asking for sort of a bridge loan. That's how they're phrasing it. I would like to actually read you a bit from former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. He was born in Detroit to an auto executive, and he wrote an op-ed in the "New York Times." Let me just read this for a moment to our viewers.
"Don't ask Washington to give share holders and bond holders a free pass. They bet on management and they lost." He goes on to say, "In a managed bankruptcy, the federal government will propel newly competitive and viable automakers, rather than seal their fate with a bailout check." What do you think of that statement, sir?
ISSA: I think Mitt's right on. And you know, being the son of a man who turned Rambler/AMC around, he knows how hard it is to reinvent a company from one that isn't making good cars and not making competitive cars to one that can, in fact, survive.
And he's absolutely right. GM, Ford, and Chrysler, none of them are coming with a real plan to eliminate the fact that they lose money on every car. They're coming for a bridge loan to nowhere. And I think that's more than anything else we have been asked to do -- we're being asked to invest in something in which the public has already said is not worth investing in, both in their purchasing direction over the last many years, and in fact in the stock value.
PILGRIM: I would like to also play a comment from Congresswoman Carolyn Kilpatrick for bailing out Detroit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CAROLYN KILPATRICK (D), MICHIGAN: It's not a bailout. It's a loan. We will return it. 5 percent interest over the next five years. Another 9 percent over the second five. Don't let the automobile industry die because of our inaction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PILGRIM: What do you think of that argument, it's a loan, it will get paid back?
ISSA: Well, it's an at-risk loan. I mean, General Motors has a market cap of less than $1 billion, and we're going to be the debt behind them. You know, you could buy General Motors for $1 billion today if you wanted to make an investment in them. You could take over the stock and then decide. But right now, we're being asked to stay with the same board of directors, the same management, the same union contract, and then hope that the economy turns around to make them marginally profitable again, which is what they were in the past.
You know, General Motors -- I grew up with General Motors Truck and Coach pencils, because my father was a lifelong employee of the auto business. I know what that industry could do. I also know that for over 30 years, we have been losing market share while claiming high profits. The auto industry became in a sense a financing industry rather than a manufacturing industry. They have got to have value in manufacturing or they're not worth investing in.
PILGRIM: Thank you very much for coming on the broadcast, explaining your view.
ISSA: Thank you.
PILGRIM: Congressman Darrell Issa.
Coming up, the future of labor unions under an Obama administration. We'll have a special report on that.
Also President-Elect Obama may reverse some of President Bush's executive orders, including restrictions on stem cell research. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council joins me to discuss religion and politics next.
PILGRIM: The Republican Party is scrambling to regroup after Senator McCain's defeat in the presidential election. A growing number of conservatives believe the GOP must return to its conservative roots to regain its political clout. Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council. He is one of those conservatives and also the co-author of "Person Faith and Public Policy." And Tony Perkins joins us now from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Thanks for being with us.
TONY PERKINS, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: Good evening, Kitty. How are you?
PILGRIM: Good. You have joined us many times during the campaign. You said evangelical Christians and social conservatives were unable to relate to either candidate. How do you feel now that the election is decided?
PERKINS: I feel the same way. They had a hard way relating to the two candidates. The republican brand was damage before John McCain was given the mantel of the Republican Party. If the Republicans want to be successful, they need to find the conservative bread crumbs they dropped on the way into the political wilderness. They can do that, but it's going to have to be as you point out returning to the conservative principles. Fiscal conservatism, that means smaller government. Personal responsibility, and a strong military. A strong but responsible military and foreign policy, and that's not what we have seen.
PILGRIM: You have just attended a very big meeting of conservative leaders. Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, Brent Quizel the founder of Media Research Center was there, big discussion big powwow. Was there a strategy discussed? PERKINS: I think there is a strategy that's going to be going forward for the conservative movement. I think many in the conservative movement, if you will, believe that the Republican Party took over the conservative movement and kind of ran it off the road. Conservatives are ready to take back control of the conservative movement, and if the Republican Party wants to be a governing party as it has in the past, it has to return to the conservative principles.
Look, America is a center right nation. Barack Obama and the policies he reflects are not reflective of the nation. I think he offered, you know, what he called change. And Americans were ready for change. The republicans have not governed well, and America was looking for a new path. Barack Obama offered that. Now, his success is going to depend on whether or not he can govern as a moderate, as he campaigned, or if he's going to be a liberal, as his record would indicate.
PILGRIM: I would like to take you through a couple issues here, and the really big conservative issue is proposition eight in California, we have had movement on that. Now, the Supreme Court in California rejected efforts to block the ban. They did that today, but they say they will also leave open arguments challenging the ban on gay marriage. They'll leave themselves open to hearing other arguments. What do you make of all of the activity around proposition 8 in California?
PERKINS: Kitty ideally, the court would say where the people have spoken through the constitutional means and we're going to allow the rule of law to take place and the people have spoken. I don't think the court has shown they can allow the people the last word on the issue, so it would have been best they left it alone.
But they did two things that are encouraging. One, they did not stay the implementation of the constitution so the definition of marriage is restored in the state of California. And secondly, they allowed the pro-proposition 8 organizations to intervene in the case. Instead of having the attorney general, Jerry Brown, who made no bones or did not disguise the fact he was for this, he will not be the sole individual defending the constitutional amendment. So that's a positive development.
PILGRIM: Let me ask you about stem cell research. President- Elect Obama plans to roll back many of the Bush policies, including some dealing with stem cells. In Spain, doctors have successfully carried out a transplant with a windpipe using the patient's own stem cells, adult stem cells. Is this issue over?
PERKINS: I don't think so. It's been fascinating. Where just in this week, a windpipe, a woman's windpipe, re-created through her own adult stem cells and there's been other amazing reports this week on the success of adult stem cells. Where the problem is is that Barack Obama is making some appointments to his transition team, in fact today announcing that Tom Daschle will be head of HHS, who has a really bad record on the life issue as the majority leader in the United States senate. So there's concerns that yes many of these pro life policies that have forced really more research with adult stem cells which has led to over 70 now known treatments with adult stem cells, that this could hurt this by funneling more money into embryonic research, which is one, unethical to the destruction of the human embryo, and secondly, it's produced no results. If we're going to put taxpayer money into research, which we should, we should put it into research that is working. It's adult stem cells that are working.
PILGRIM: All right, Tony Perkins, thanks for joining us.
PERKINS: Thanks Kitty.
PILGRIM: A reminder now to vote in tonight's poll. Are you confident in the federal government's ability to stop Mexican drug cartels from infiltrating the border patrol? Yes or no, cast your vote at loudobbs.com and we'll bring you the results in just a few minutes.
Coming up at the top of the hour, Campbell Brown.
Campbell, what are you working on?
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey there Kitty. In a few minutes, we're going to update our breaking news. The senate, as you know, has just postponed a vote on the bailout for America's car companies.
We're also checking into those new reports that Hillary Clinton may have second thoughts about becoming Barack Obama's secretary of state even though Bill Clinton is bending over backwards to help her get the job. We'll talk about that.
Plus a real eye-opener. Newly elected members of congress are in Washington for freshman orientation. And guess who was waiting to meet them? Washington's pack of lobbyists. Our investigative correspondent Drew Griffin shows us what happened. It's an exclusive. We'll see you in a few.
PILGRIM: All right. Thanks very much Campbell Brown. We look forward to it.
Please join Lou on the radio Monday through Friday for the Lou Dobbs Show. Lou's guests tomorrow include former Arkansas Governor and former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Also Senator Debbie Stabenow, democrat of Michigan, will make the case for the auto industry bailout. Go to loudobbsradio.com to find the local listings for the Lou Dobbs Show on the Radio.
Up next, labor unions helped elect Barack Obama president. Will he deliver on his promises to them. We'll have a special report.
PILGRIM: On the campaign trail, President-Elect Obama pledged his support for the country's labor union. Obama even pledged to sign the employee free choice act if it crossed his desk. Now that is legislation ensuring workers have the right to unionize, but given the current anti-union climate in Washington, there's rising concern over whether Obama will keep his promises. Ines Ferre has our report.
INES Ferre, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The same unions who overwhelmingly supported Obama for president are now counting on him to increase their ranks. Union membership has plummeted from 35 percent in the '70s to 12 percent of the workforce today. Union leaders want Obama to push for the employee free choice act which would give workers at a company more flexibility to get union representation.
AARON KNAPP, LABOR LAWYER: I don't think this is a question of who owes who what. This is a question of Mr. Obama's core principle. This is a question on what he ran his campaign on, which is a rejection full of the trickle-down policy that favor those with the most and that have been literally killing working-class Americans.
Ferre: Throughout his campaign, Obama trumpeted his support for union organizing and building up the middle class.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I believe in unions. I believe in unions.
Ferre: Between the economic downturn and the big three automakers asking for a bailout, there's a chilly atmosphere for union sin Washington.
REP. SPENCER BACHUS (R), ALABAMA: Both management and labor at the big three have pay and wage scale that are substantially higher than their competitors. That's not being any management or any union. It's just being truthful.
Ferre: With priorities stacking up for Obama, the question is will he deliver on his promise?
BILL SAMUEL, AFL-CIO: His challenge is making sure there's not a successful filibuster in the senate in working with the congressional majority, in this case, the democrats in the house and the senate, to get the vote and get the measure to his desk.
FERRE: Obama co-sponsors the employee free choice act when he was a senator. The legislation died in the senate.
FERRE: And union leaders are hoping for an introduction next year, but you can be sure there will be resistance from anti-union lobbyists in Washington especially given the economic downturn. Kitty?
PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Ines Ferre.
We will be right back with today's poll results and more of your thoughts. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
PILGRIM: Here are tonight's poll results. 96 percent of you are not confident in the federal government's ability to stop Mexican drug cartels from infiltrating the border patrol.
We do have more time for your thoughts.
And Tina from Kentucky wrote to us, "What is wrong with everyone in Congress? They will give out money to the big wigs of AIG but when it comes to saving Americans' jobs in the auto market they just can't seem to do it. I don't think they want to help the working people or the economy."
Scott from Vermont wrote to us, "I think the 750 billion dollars should have been spent on fixing roads, bridges, schools, energy solutions and a healthcare system. This would create jobs and give the working people of America some confidence in our government and make our roads, bridges and schools safer."
MK from Michigan, "Lou, I am confused. We complain about American jobs being sent overseas but when an industry that employs/supports two million jobs is in jeopardy, we sit on the sidelines and give them a ticket to the next slow boat to China and then we wonder why we have economic turmoil."
And Gini from Texas wrote us, "What do you think all those buffoons in Washington would do if us taxpayers decided not to pay our taxes next year? Sure would make giving away our hard earned money in a bailout pretty difficult!"
Send us your thoughts at loudobbs.com.
Thanks for being with us tonight. For all of us here, thanks for watching. Good night from New York.
"Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull" starts right now.