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Obama Applauds Bush's Decision to Fund Auto Loan; Obama Nominates Transportation & Labor Secretaries; Florida Authorities Reveal Caylee Remains Identified
Aired December 19, 2008 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: An administration of firsts. Barack Obama's latest picks expected to boost diversity at the very highest level.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Under ordinary economic circumstances I would say this is the price that failed companies must pay.
PHILLIPS: But with Detroit barreling towards bankrupcty in the middle of a recession, President Bush inflates a financial airbag.
And, headbangers bawl. Ex-Guantanamo detainees say the government used heavy metal to drive them mental.
PHILLIPS: Hello, everyone, I'm Kyra Phillips live in the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, and you are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Well, he is a month away from taking office, and the president- elect is adding more players to his White House team. We are going to see him in just about 15 minutes, another news conference to announce new choices for his Cabinet.
He's also sharing his thoughts today on word of a government rescue for Chrysler and General Motors.
Brianna Keilar is in Chicago - Brianna.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Kyra.
Well, President-elect Obama threw his weight behind this plant unveiled by President Bush today.
We have also learned, though, from a transition aide that while the Obama team was being briefed by the Bush administration in the last several days, on the different ideas that Treasury was looking at for this package, the Obama team and Barack Obama's opinions and their approval were not sought on this overall package and also on the specifics of it.
An aide pointing out that Barack Obama at that Oval Office meeting, that meeting shortly after the election, he urged President Bush to help out the automakers. CNN has reported, in the past, that officials who were briefed on that meeting said that President Bush was skeptical to the idea at the time. So on one hand, you have a Barack Obama saying, you know, on the record he supports this plan. But you also have this aide pointing out that Barack Obama was indeed on board with this idea of the auto bailout from the get-go, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: OK. Let's talk about the appointments that we are expecting to hear from him.
KEILAR: Yeah, a couple of ones. One that we discussed yesterday, Ray LaHood, a Republican lawmaker from Illinois expected to be announced as secretary of Transportation. He would become the second Republican on Barack Obama's Cabinet if he is appointed. As well Congresswoman Hilda Solis is expected to be announced the secretary of Labor. This is very much a pro-labor pick.
When news of her pick came out, it was a lot of unions who said this is just a fantastic move. She is on the record, basically, with Barack Obama's idea of green jobs. She was the first Latina who actually was on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and a very important committee in the House. And she has been very critical of the Bush administration labor policies, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right. We will be following it. We are expected it about 2:15 Eastern Time, and we will take it live. Brianna, thanks.
Well, Barack Obama's Cabinet choices so far have received strong support overall, even across party lines. So as we hear the announcement we'll talk about both sides, when we take it live.
Meanwhile, I understand that the news conference is starting now in the Caylee Anthony case. That apparently the killer tipping off where the remains were for a number of months, why the police wait? We are supposed to hear now about a new announcement.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... As our usual protocol the next of kin has been notified prior to making this information public. This identification was made by nuclear DNA taken from a portion of the remains and compared to a known profiles of Caylee Anthony. The DNA analysis was performed by the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia. Except for the bone specimen used for the DNA which has since been returned to my morgue, the remains have been maintain and analyzed at the District Nine Morgue, here in Orlando. These have been analyzed by myself, my deputy chief medical examiner, and two forensic anthropologists, one from University of Florida and one from University of Central Florida.
My examination of the body and evidence is complete, barring no further bones being found. And the anthropologic exam will be finished up shortly. The remains are completely skeletonized with no visible soft tissue present and no anti-mortem trauma evidence, meaning that there was no trauma to the bones prior to death.
Toxicology testing is still to be completed on the bone and hair, while this analysis may prove to be informative, it will be difficult to interpret levels from these specimens, and thus, will not be definitive in helping to determine the cause of death. The manner of death though is an opinion based on available information including examination of the body, information from the scene, as well as circumstantial evidence.
Based on all of this, the manner of death in this case is homicide. The cause of death will be listed as homicide by undetermined means. Should other pertinent information become available, the cause of death may be revisited.
While I would love to explain the forensic aspects of this case to you -- and any of you know me know I would love to do that -- we must remember that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. This case needs to be tried in a court of law and not the media. And thus, I will not discuss specifics of the findings of this case at this time.
I would like to thank all of those who have worked diligently and passionately to help recover the body of Caylee, including the FBI, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, but especially the Orange County Crime Scene Unit, who in my opinion, and in the opinion of the anthropologists working with me, have done a superb job in this recovery.
Next, I would like to turn this over to special agent in charge of the FBI in Tampa.
STEVE IBISEN, FBI, TAMPA, FLORIDA: Good afternoon. My name is Steve Ibisen. I am the special agent in charge of the Tampa Division of the FBI.
Any time we lose the life of a young child no matter the means, it is a terrible happening. We have now lost the young life of a child in a very terrible way. We have had a number of investigators, searchers, people involved in this investigation from top to bottom that have been involved with this since it started. It is a tough thing for these, for even the most seasoned investigator the deal with.
I want to thank those folks today. Orange County, from the FDLE, from the FBI, and from out special - our Evidence Response Team, that was out there with Orange County from day one, on their hands and knees. They have done a great job. And again, this - I will echo the words of the sheriff, this is an example of, a great example of law enforcement from state and federal, and local agencies working together from, again, day one.
Now, I'd like to turn it over to the special agent in charge of FDLE.
JOYCE DAWLEY, SPECIAL AGENT, FDLE: Hello, for those of you who don't know me, my name is Joyce Dolly and I'm the special agent in charge of FDLE, for the Central Region of Florida. And, again, I would like to echo what the FBI said, Dr. Gee (ph), and the sheriff to recognize all of the men and women to my left and your right that have worked so tirelessly on the case, whether it be FDLE, FBI, or Orange County sheriff office investigators, or their Crime Scene, they have worked day in, and day out.
We, on the state level, have run down leads all over the state of Florida. The FBI has taken leads and gone all over the country, and maybe internationally. There has been 5,000-plus leads we have tracked down. So, it is a sad day when any child dies, but I do applaud the sheriff's office for their tireless work in this effort to bring this case to a conclusion. And we stand prepared to support in any way that we can, whether investigative, or forensically or through information services to the Orange County sheriff's office.
Captain, I turn it over to you now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As the established protocol that we have discussed before this panel, or the investigative team present today is providing us some time to take some questions. Please be thorough and concise in your questions so they can properly answer them and move on.
Thank you, very much. Please, go ahead.
QUESTION: How long do you think that the remains have been in that location?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please ask your questions directed to an individual.
PHILLIPS: OK. We will continue to follow this news conference.
But basically, you see the bottom line here. Stepping up to the mic again Doctor G, that is how she is known, Jan Garavaglia. She actually has a TV series. She is a medical examiner, coming forward saying because of nuclear DNA, taking some of the remains, and an existing profile that was already in the crime files, they were able to decide on the manner of death, and it was homicide by undetermined means.
She would love to go into forensic details, but obviously can't do that, because they want to try the case in court before they give any specifics. But we will talk more about the nuclear DNA with our Mike Brooks, former FBI, and he is in-house, and we will bring you up to date on what this all means. But for the authorities and the FBI, also the police there in Florida, good news for them today as they are becoming closer and closer to ending this case of Caylee Anthony.
Well, CNN, of course, will also bring you live coverage of Barack Obama's news conference today. We are expecting that any minute now and approximately 2:15 Eastern Time. He's expected to make more announcements on who he is picking to put in his Cabinet. We will take it live once that happens as well.
Now, he has also been telling us that he is eager to talk, and in less than an hour, we should also hear from Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, and what he has to say. He says he will speak publicly, also, but at 3 o'clock Eastern Time, in Chicago. And of course, you can see that right here on CNN. You will remember that Blagojevich was arrested on federal corruption charges back on December 9th, but his attorney says he has done nothing wrong and that he plans to remain in office. Prosecutors say that Blagojevich planned to sell the Senate seat being vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.
Well, you think GM and Chrysler got to the bank before closing time? The big two getting a $13.4 billion short-term loan today from the Treasury with $4 billion more possibly in February, but there is a big asterisk here. If they don't show that they have a plan for viability by the end of March, they have to pay the money back immediately. GM is getting most of the money and the CEO is now looking ahead.
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RICK WAGONER, CEO, GENERAL MOTORS: The operations of GM and the many suppliers, dealers and small businesses across the country that depend on our company and our industry. In addition to President Bush and the administration, I'd like to recognize and thank a number of other people who have worked so hard to lead to today's announcement. Starting with Ron Gettelfinger and the UAW, who have been tireless in their leadership in this process.
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PHILLIPS: Well, Kate Bolduan is at the White House covering that story for us, and of course, President Bush is the one who threw out the lifeline this morning. Susan Lisovicz will join us in a just few minutes from the New York Stock Exchange. And she is going to tell us how the news is playing out on Wall Street.
Kate, let's go ahead and start with you. President Bush feels that the cost of letting an automaker go down would be far greater and more painful than $17 billion and change.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as his White House deputy chief of staff put it, they think it is really a balance here, what -- they are free market advocates in the White House, and they don't want to help bail out any industry. They said they really needed to.
This announcement this morning - you have talked about the numbers, the $13.4 billion and the additional $4 billion, but that announcement of offering that money is a big change for this White House, especially from where this debate began, with the White House at first saying that it would in now way use TARP money, that Troubled Asset Relief Program, in order to help automakers, saying that is not what it is meant for.
But as you see from the announcement that President Bush has changed his mind saying simply he didn't want to act, but it would be irresponsible not to do so at this point. Listen here.
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BUSH: By giving the auto companies a chance to restructure, we will shield the American people from a harsh economic blow at a vulnerable time. We will give American workers an opportunity to show the world, once again, they can meet challenges with ingenuity and determination and bounce back from tough times and emerge stronger than before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: But before they emerge stronger than before, you mentioned it, Kyra, they are going to have to first show they can turn a profit. There is that March 31st deadline, a strict time restriction that they are dealing where they are going to have to show that they are on the path to viability. That they are cutting costs, that they are boosting revenue, that they really are restructuring and overhauling their business plan to show they can last in the long term.
As well as comply with conditions that they have to limit executive pay, they are going to have to eliminate some of those perks, like those corporate jets, as well as open up their books to the government to allow them to see the records and let them in, so there is transparency in the process. It is an obvious point, but something to notice. We are waiting for the press conference from the President-Elect Obama, while this administration is putting this plan in place, it is going to be President-Elect Obama and his designee that is really going to be handling the brunt of it come January 20th.
PHILLIPS: All right. Kate, thanks.
And the uncertain fate of the auto industry has been like a dark cloud hanging over Wall Street, so has the sun come out now that GM and Chrysler are getting billions of dollars from the government? Let's check in with Susan Lisovicz at the New York Stock Exchange.
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the sun came out, but temporarily, because there are dark clouds on the horizon. Just Kate referred to it, and everyone on Wall Street recognizes that this is a short-term solution. It is an emergency bridge loan.
GM shares rallied big time on the word before the opening bell that something was coming. Right now they are off the highs, but still GM shares are up 10 percent. Having said that, they are trading at $4 a share. This is the stock that was trading at $29 a share this year.
Ford is not a recipient of this bridge loan, but certainly benefits if GM and Chrysler stay afloat. And we certainly are seeing benefits for suppliers, and manufactures, that are certainly part of the vast infrastructure that supply the auto industry. Vistion (ph) shares are up right now 18 percent.
Couple other things that I want to mention, overall, while we are off the highs of the session, we are watching retailers. This is the last weekend before Christmas and we are seeing Nordstrom and J.C. Penny and Saks, shares down 3 to 5 percent, each. Well, it is not only worries about consumer spending. We have bad weather. We have bad weather on the last weekend before Christmas in many parts of the country.
The good news is that oil continues its decline. Bad for oil companies, they had record profits and now they see the reverse side of the cycle. Oil is trading now about $34 a barrel. They were forecast it would hit $200 a barrel, this very year.
Kyra, back to you.
PHILLIPS: OK, Susan, thank you so much.
LISOVICZ: You're welcome.
PHILLIPS: We are waiting once again, a lot of live news conferences today, but this one, one of the most important, a lot of eyes on this, President-Elect Barack Obama expecting to announce a number of appoints to his Cabinet, former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, and Hilda Solis, and Ray LaHood, three important positions, and Labor secretary, and Transportation secretary, and hopefully we will get that in - actually, well, the due president-elect is late 60 seconds late right now. That is not like him. Maybe we can put a little pressure on him.
Whoa! It is like they heard us. Thank you, Val.
There we go. President-elect Barack Obama getting ready to come out with his new appointments. Let's go ahead and listen in.
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SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: Good afternoon.
Before we begin, I'd like to say a few words about the necessary steps taken today to help avoid a collapse of our auto industry. That would have had devastating consequences for our economy and our workers. With the short-term assistance provided by this package, the auto companies must bring all of their stakeholders together, including labor, dealers, creditors, and suppliers to make the hard choices necessary to achieve long term viability.
The auto companies must not squander this chance to reform bad management practices and begin the long-term restructuring that is absolutely necessary to save this critical industry and the millions of American jobs that depend on it, while also creating the fuel- efficient cars of tomorrow.
Whenever I have been asked how I measure the strength of the American economy, my answer is simple, jobs and wages. I know we will be headed in the right direction again when we are creating jobs, instead of losing them and when Americans are gaining ground in terms of the incomes, and instead of treading water, or falling behind.
In recent weeks, I have announced members of my economic team who will help us make progress in these areas. Today, I am announcing several other appointees who will play an integral role in the efforts to turn our economy around. Congresswoman Hilda Solis as secretary of Labor and former Congressman Ray LaHood as the secretary of Transportation, Karen Mills, as administrator of the Small Business Administration, and Mayor Ron Kirk as United States Trade Representative.
Together, with the appointees I have already announced, these leaders will help to craft a 21st century economic recovery plan, with the goal of creating 2.5 million new jobs and strengthening our economy for the future. If jobs and incomes are our yardstick, then the success of the American worker is key to the success of the American economy.
For the past eight years, the Department of Labor has not lived up to its role, either as an advocate for hard-working families or as an arbiter of fairness in relations between labor and management. That will change when Hilda Solis is secretary of Labor. Under her leadership, I am confident that the Department of Labor will once again stand up for working families.
I am confident about that, because Hilda has always been an advocate for everyday people. When she received an award several years ago she said, "Fighting for what is just is not popular, but it is necessary." That is exactly what she has done through the career, blazing new trails every step of the way. Whether it is creating green jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced, or expanding access to affordable health care, or raising the minimum wage in California, Hilda has been a champion of our middle-class.
I know that Hilda will show to same leadership and vision as secretary of Labor that she has shown in California and on the Education and Labor committee by protecting workers' rights from organizing to collective bargaining, and from keeping our workplaces safe to making our unions strong.
Standing up for our workers means putting them back to work and fueling economic growth. Our economy boomed in the 21st century when President Eisenhower remade the American landscape by rebuilding the Interstate Highway System, now we need to remake our transportation system for the 21st century. Doing so will not only help meet our energy challenges by building more efficient cars, buses and subways or making Americans safer by rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, it will create millions of new jobs in the process.
Few understand our infrastructure challenge better than the outstanding public servant that I am asking to lead the Department of Transportation, Ray LaHood. As congressman from Illinois, Ray served six years on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, leading efforts to modernize our aviation system by renewing our aging airports and ensuring that air traffic controllers were using cutting edge technology. Throughout his career, Ray has fought to improve mass transit and invest in our highways, but he has not only helped rebuild our landscape, he has helped beautify it by creating opportunities for bikers and runners to enjoy the great outdoors.
When I began this appointment process I said I was committed to finding the best person for the job regardless of party. Ray's appointment reflects that bipartisan spirit, the spirit we need to reclaim in the country to make progress for the American people, and a spirit that Ray has embodied in all of his years in public service.
To strengthen the economy, we must also strengthen the small businesses that are its backbone. I can think of no one better to lead this effort as administrator of the Small Business Administration than Karen Mills. With Karen at the helm, America's small businesses will have a partner in Washington, helping them create jobs and spur growth in communities across this country.
A venture capitalist who invests in small businesses, Karen understands the challenges faced by small business owners and the workers they employ. With a background in the private sector and experience helping Maine's governor promote growth across the state, and I am confident that Karen will help the SABA that will not only help small business owners realize their dreams, but help our nation rebuild our economy.
We also know that the success of American businesses small and large depend on the ability to sell their products across the globe. That is why we must engage in strong robust trade and open up doors for American products. In the global economy we must compete and win if we are going to strengthen our middle-class and forge bonds with other nations that can contribute to peace and stability around the world.
But I also believe that any trade agreement we sign must be written not just with the interests of big corporations in mind, but with the interests of our whole nation, and our workers at heart. Ron Kirk understands this better than just about anybody. As mayor of Dallas, Ron helped to steer one of the world's largest economies. He has seen the promise of trade but also its pitfalls. And he knows there is nothing inconsistent about standing up for free trade and standing up for American workers.
During his tenure as mayor, Ron brought different groups together to create jobs and invest in the community and spur economic growth. As a leader, negotiator and principled proponent of trade, Ron will help to make sure that any agreement I sign, as president, protects the rights of all workers, promotes the interests of all Americans, strengthens American businesses and preserves the planet that we all share.
With these outstanding appointees I have filled out our economic team, and done so at an earlier point than any president in history, because we face challenges, unlike any that we have faced in generations. Daunting as the challenges we are inheriting may be, I am convinced that our team and the American people are prepared to meet them. It will take longer than any of us would like, years, not months. It will get worse before it gets better. But it will get better if we are willing to act boldly and swiftly and that is what we will do when I am president of the United States.
With that, I would like to first bring up to the podium, Hilda Solis.
REP. HILDA SOLIS, SECRETARY OF LABOR NOMINEE: Thank you. I'm humble and honored to be nominated by President-Elect Barack Obama to serve as secretary of Labor. As a daughter of immigrants raised in La Puente, in the San Gabriel Valley, near the beloved east Los Angeles, I learned at a very young age the value of hard work, public service and commitment to family. That is why I share President-Elect Obama's belief in an America where if you work hard anything is possible; an America that values rewards and hard work; an America where we can both be standing on this stage together here today.
But for many Americans, that America is slipping further and further away. As secretary of Labor, I will work to strengthen our unions and support every American in our nation's diverse workforce. I look forward to working with President-Elect Obama to reinvest in workforce training, build effective pipelines to provide at-risk youth and underserved communities with sustainable skills, and support high- growth industries by training the workers they need. This includes promoting green-collar jobs.
These are jobs that will provide economic security for all working families while securing our energy supply and combating climate change. We must also enforce federal labor laws and strengthen regulations to protect our nation's workers such as wage and hour laws, and rules regarding overtime pay and pay discrimination. Through these, and other efforts, we can help strengthen one of America's greatest assets, its labor force.
I want to take this opportunity to thank my family, especially my parents, Raul and Juana Solis and my husband, and my sisters and brothers, for all their support over the years. They have always believed in me and have been a source of my strength and teachers of mine in terms of understanding commitment to justice, equality and public service.
To my extended family, those I have worked alongside in California and in Washington, thank you for your commitment to public service, justice, and for your loyalty.
I thank President-elect Obama. And I look forward to serving as a member of his team.
I'd like to now introduce a colleague of mine, Congressman Ray LaHood. I'm proud to have the opportunity to continue to serve with Congressman LaHood. As a grandson of an immigrant and the son of a restaurant manager, he, too, demonstrated what can be accomplished with hard work. His experience, bipartisan approach to issues, and fair-handed demeanor will be important assets as we work together.
REP. RAY LAHOOD, SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION NOMINEE: Thank you.
Good morning, or good afternoon. I'd like to thank President- Elect Obama for his confidence in me, and his commitment to working across party lines for our country. President-Elect Obama and I share the same philosophy on infrastructure. His agenda for the Department of Transportation is my agenda for the Department of Transportation. I have often said that once the election is over we must put aside our partisan labels and work together for the good of the American people. That is exactly the approach President-Elect Obama will take as president and exactly the approach I will take as secretary of transportation.
We have a task before us to rebuild America. As a nation, we need to continue to be the world leader in infrastructure development, Amtrak, mass transit, light rail, air travel, and our roads and bridges all playing a vital role in our economy and our well-being as a nation. We cannot stand by while our infrastructure ages and crumbles. We must pursue solid policies to that allow our states and communities to address their transportation needs. We have a tremendous opportunity before us to rebuild our infrastructure and reinvigorate our economy and I look forward to the challenge.
A hallmark of my career in Congress has been my work with our local and state leaders as we have improved the infrastructure of Illinois. I have served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as we reauthorize the federal highway bill. I understand first hand what good infrastructure and transportation means to communities and understanding that it is the local folks who know best their transportation needs. I will bring that same approach to Department of Transportation.
I'd like to thank my family for the continued love and support they have shown me as I pursued my public service career. Kathy, my wife, and I have stood side by side for 41-plus years. She has endured my 30 years of public service, and I'm grateful for her support and the support of my four children, and seven grandchildren.
Again, thank you, Mr. President-Elect, for your trust in me. I look forward to working with our friends on Capitol Hill to advance good transportation legislation and I plan to engage our governors, mayors, local officials as we move forward. I'm ready to roll up my sleeves and move forward.
And now Mr. Ron Kirk.
RON KIRK, U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE NOMINEE: Well, I am honored and I'm humbled to accept the post of U.S. Trade Representative for this administration. As the mayor of Dallas, I happen to live in one of the most dynamic cities in the world, but it was also in the crosshairs of regional trade and trade for this continent. I have seen both its benefits and its costs, but like the president, I believe that trade can help us create jobs at home, and encourage development abroad, and like President-elect Obama, I believe a values-driven trade agenda that stays true to our commitment to America's workers and environmental sustainability is not only consistent with a pro trade agenda, but it's also necessary for its success.
I, too, have to take this moment and thank my family for their extraordinary love and support, particularly my wife Latrice and our two daughters who are making a great sacrifice for me to be able to accept this tremendous honor to serve our country. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the administration to further the message that America is open for business and to promote a progressive pro trade agenda. At this point I would like to welcome Karen Mills.
KAREN MILLS: Thank you, Ron. Thank you Mr. President-elect, for your confidence and for this important assignment. Small business is at the heart of the American economy. There are over 6 million small businesses in the country, and they create 70 percent of the new jobs every quarter. They could be small businesses on Main Street or new green energy start-ups, but if these companies grow and prosper, jobs are created, and America stays competitive. Building and growing a small business has been a defining tradition in America. Many of us are the children of immigrants, men and women who are able to start and grow their own businesses. This is a legacy I'm proud to be a part of and to promote for our future.
The small business administration provides an opportunity for the federal government to serve as a partner with small business, to help these businesses access capital and counseling and provide aid in the times of natural disasters. Small business will be an important focus of this administration as we work our way through these difficult economic times and as we grow the economy in the future. America's spirit of entrepreneurship is one of our greatest assets, as we compete in this global economy. I am very pleased to be joining the Obama administration in a role that fosters this entrepreneurial spirit. I want to thank my husband, Barry, and our three sons for all of their support as well as the businesspeople of Maine who have inspired me to work in this important area. Thank you.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT-ELECT: Ok. Let's start with Karen.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President-elect. The Bush administration says that you could change the terms of the automakers' loan if you wanted to. Do you have any plans to do that? The United Auto Workers are upset over some of the provisions that apply to workers, and they also say they are open to suggestions on an auto czar, do you think an auto czar is needed and are you likely to offer suggestions?
OBAMA: First of all, I think that we should note the progress that was made from where this began and where it is now. We started off with the automakers coming before congress asking for a blank check, and I like many said, that is not going to fly. We are going to have to make sure that we have a mechanism to force the kind of restructuring that is necessary so that we have a sustainable auto industry, an auto industry that's making the cars of the future, one that will provide security for the workers who are building these automobiles, and we have in baby steps inch by inch moved in that direction. Since the White House just made the announcement this morning, I have not had an opportunity nor has my economic team to look at all of the details of the plan. So, I wouldn't want to comment about what changes I would want to make before I have even seen what's already on the table.
I do want to emphasize to the big three automakers and their executives that the American people's patience is running out, and that they should seize on this opportunity over the next several weeks and months to come up with a plan that is sustainable. That means they are going to have to make some hard choices. Now my top priority in this administration is going to be to create 2.5 million new jobs, and I want some of those jobs to be in the auto industry. And so, my intention is to have my economic team work with not only auto management, but also the UAW, and talk to workers and find out what can we do in order to assure that their jobs are preserved, but not just for the next few months, but they're preserved for years to come and the next generation of auto workers are going to be put in place.
So there are going to be some painful steps that have to be taken, I just want to make sure that when we see a final restructuring package that it is not just workers who are bearing the brunt of that restructure, that they are not the ones who are taking all of the hits and others who in the past have enjoyed a lot more of the benefits of the auto industry somehow aren't being affected. I think all shareholders are going to have to play a part in this process. Univision, Erica Maldonado. How are you?
ERICA MALDONADO: Fine thank you very much. My question is for both of you Hilda Solis and you. It is true employment is on everybody's mind and with the recession that we are in, we are losing jobs everyday, not only the manufacturing part of the industry, but also they're going overseas. How are you going to manage to actually reverse a trend, keep the jobs in the United States and also pay good salaries and working with the unions and create more jobs?
OBAMA: Well, one of my first steps is to put Hilda Solis as the secretary of labor, because she is going to do a great job in job promotion and she knows that not only do we want to create jobs, but we also have to train our workers to be prepared for these jobs of the future. Our economic recovery plan for example envisions transforming our energy economy. But if we are going to build a smart grid for example which allows us to save energy and allows businesses to save energy and makes this economy more energy efficient, we have a shortage right now of workers who could do all of the work. And we are going to have to create that pipeline through the secretary of labor's office in order to make sure that those workers are in place to achieve our long term goals. So, the way that we are going to keep jobs here in the United States is to rebuild America, rebuild our infrastructure, is going to be to get our financial system working again, which means that we have to have a very strong regulatory structure that prevents the kinds of systemic crisis that we have seen over the last several months.
It means that we are going to have to educate our children effectively and train them for the high value, high-wage jobs of the future. It means that we are going to have to have the kind of trade relationships that Ron is going to be responsible for to assure that there is reciprocity in all of our trade agreements that, you know, if we are trading with a country, and they are sending their goods into the United States, we better be able to sell American goods in their country as well. That on both sides of the border, we end up having labor and environmental agreements that are enforceable so we don't have a race to the bottom, but instead the standards of living of all workers are raised.
Those are all going to be critical approaches, and it's not going to happen overnight. You know, we have seen this cycle of jobs leaving for too long. It's going to take some time for us to reverse it, but I am confident with the leadership of the kind of people behind me today, that we're going to be able to accomplish it. I am sure Hilda will be willing to give you a sidebar interview at some point. Ok. Savannah Guthrie.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: I messed that up last time, so, you haven't said how much your economic recovery package will cost, but the estimates we get from the hill keep inching higher and higher and some say could reach up to $1 trillion. First of all, is that in the ballpark even if you don't want to nail yourself to a certain figure right now? And second of all, what would you say to Americans who are really nervous about that kind of spending not withstanding the consensus you talk about among economists that has to be big. Is there any cap, is there any feeling as to how much you will spend?
OBAMA: Well, first of all, I'm concerned about the numbers that are being talked about. We are not intending to spend money lightly. You know, the tax burden on Americans are already high. We are going to be inheriting a deficit that is probably above $1 trillion. And so, look - I'm a taxpayer like everybody else, and I don't want to see money wasted. What has been striking in the conversations that we have had with economists from the left and the right over the past several months is how the economic forecasts have deteriorated, and the conclusion has been that with credit freezing up, with businesses laying off workers, with a continued weakness in the housing market, and escalating foreclosures, that unless you have a bold approach, you could see the economy continuing to decline at a pretty rapid clip. That is not acceptable to me. I don't think it is acceptable to the American people.
So, we don't -- this is not an optimal situation. But, what we are going to have to do is make the best decisions that we can with the hand that we are dealt and what I think that is going to mean. Although we haven't finalized our actual plan is that we focus single- mindedly on job creation, increasing demand, getting the economy back on track, fixing our financial markets. That is going to cost a significant amount of money on the front end. What we want to do is make sure that in spending that money to help jump start the economy and put 2.5 million people back to work, that we are also looking at the long term, and that is where Ray Lahood, myself, and others on the economic team are going to be changing how business is done in Washington. Every dollar that we spend, we want it spent on projects that are there not because of politics, but because they are good for the American people.
You know, if we are building a road, it better not be a road to nowhere. If we are building a bridge, it better be because an engineer identified a bridge that has a structural weakness and that has to be dealt with. If we are going to embark on this enormous project of transforming our energy economy, then we want to make certain that we are pairing up new technologies with our energy needs and that, you know, we have had scientists and engineers look over all of these projects before they actually hit the ground. That's going to be the care with which we embark on this necessary process.
Now, there is one last point that I have made in previous news conferences that I want to repeat. Once we get this economy back on track, and I am confident that we are going to do it. I am confident that we are going to put people back to work. I'm confident that businesses are going to start growing again. It is going to take some time, but we can get this done. Once we have an economic recovery and the economy is growing again, then we are going to be confronted with this enormous deficit, not just because of the economic recovery package, but because even if we didn't have an economic recovery package right now, we'd be in a position of unsustainable deficits in future years. And that has to do with rising health care costs. That has to do with run away spending, lack of discipline in congress.
And so, part in parcel of our overall economic plan is going to be a mechanism to get our mid-term and long-term budgets under control. I want to be very clear, we are going to make some difficult choices on the budget, and I'm going to make sure by the way that some of those difficult choices are under my watch and not just somebody else's watch, because historically what has happened is a lot of times presidents say, we are projecting that we balance the budget, oh and by the way, it doesn't happen until two presidents from now. And so nothing ever changes. We are going to reform how spending takes place, but it doesn't start until I have left office, but we are going to start it now. I expect it to, you know, that we are going to have some fights in Washington around that issue.
But every economist that I have spoken to insists that the most important thing we can do even for our budget and even for our deficit is to get our economy back on track, because if the economy keeps on weakening, that means tax revenues are down, that means more people are out of work which means that they are seeking unemployment insurance, they are relying on the government for health care or helping look after their children. And so, you have increased spending by government, decreased revenues, because the economy is shrinking, that is going to grow the deficit more than anything. If we do this right, and it's not easy, then what we can do is grow the economy, get it back on track over the first couple of years, and then we will be in a position to make some tough choices.
But we will have also laid the groundwork for long-term economic growth by transforming our energy economy and starting to make a down payment in terms of making the health care system more efficient, investing in our young people through the schools. That's going to be the approach that we take. Okay? I'm not going to give you a number, because we are still making these evaluations, but you are exactly right that what we have seen in term of the evaluation of economists from across the political spectrum, is that we're going to have to be bold when it comes to our economic recovery package. Ok, thank you everybody.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, President-elect Barack Obama nearly finishing choosing his cabinet as he prepares to leave Saturday on a holiday vacation we are told to his native Hawaii. Just real quickly, here is who he settled on, California Representative Hilda Solis for labor secretary and she has made a lot of inroads as the first Hispanic female on a number of levels. And now she will be, if approved obviously, his labor secretary. Also former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk for US Trade Representative and then Republican Representative Ray Lahood of Illinois as transportation secretary. You know the president-elect made it perfectly clear he was going to appoint a very diverse cabinet, and we are seeing that as he has continually been making his choices for various positions in his cabinet.
Just a quick little background, Solis, the daughter of Mexican and Nicaraguan immigrants. You heard her speak a little Spanish there as well from her native tongue. She has focused on immigration and environmental issues well in the House. And then Kirk is a partner in the Dallas office of the Houston based powerhouse law and lobbying firm Vinson and Elkins and he was the first black-elected Dallas mayor. And then finally Lahood, you heard from him as well, he is going to be leaving the House after 14 years, he would be the second republican in democrat Obama's cabinet. And then finally Karen Mills, she's going to lead the SBA, the Small Business Association. Her background venture capitalist and founding partner of the New York based equity firm Solara Capital.
Well, he says he wants to talk, now he's going to get his chance. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich facing intense pressure to resign, and he's going to make remarks at the top of the hour in Chicago. Stay with us for live coverage.
PHILLIPS: More now on the missing toddler Caylee Anthony, the case we have been following for quite some time. The mother is still in jail, but the development today, more remains found, they did some nuclear DNA testing, bring us up to date.
MIKE BROOKS, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: December 11th, a meter reader found the remains, he picked up a bag and the skull fell out. They have been on the scene since then, Kyra, you have the FBI evidence response team, Orange County CSI, Florida Department of Law Enforcement. They sent the remains up to the FBI lab in Quantico for DNA testing. The results came back today, the medical examiner said that the remains were those, the skeletal remains were those of the missing toddler Caylee Anthony.
PHILLIPS: Now let's talk about solving the case. Who murdered this little girl?
BROOKS: Well, right now, she is determined to have cause and manner of death. Now the manner of death is homicide. She has made that off of her opinion from the examination of the body, the examination of the crime scene and from circumstantial evidence that they have in the case. There is a lot of evidence we don't know about, but they said that the cause of death was homicide by undetermined means. So they are waiting for some toxicology to come back on the piece of bone and a piece of hair that they have found, but again, she said that they may never know exactly what the cause was, and it will probably remain homicide by undetermined means. Because if you recall they found traces of chloroform in the mother's trunk, in Casey Anthony's trunk. There were gases of decomposition there, but we don't know exactly. There have been theories that she used chloroform to knock the baby out, because she wanted to go partying. There is also talk that there was duct tape around the head of the skull that the medical examiner would not confirm or deny that during the press conference today.
PHILLIPS: But the medical examiner did say I would love to give the forensic details, but I'm not going to because this needs to be tried in court before I give any specifics. So is it possibly they might know something but they are holding back?
BROOKS: Yeah, they are holding a lot close to the vest and I don't blame them. This trial does not need to get tried in the press. It has been in the press since day one, since July 15th, when the baby was reported missing by her grandmother, Cindy and her mother, Casey. But since that day, Casey Anthony who is in jail has not told the truth at all about any questions when asked about Caylee.
PHILLIPS: Her story keeps changing.
BROOKS: It does.
PHILLIPS: All right, Mike Brooks, appreciate it.
BROOKS: Thank you.
PHILLIPS: We're also going to hear what embattled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has to say about the corruption scandal that's swirling around him. He is apparently getting ready to give his side of the story. We will take that live via our affiliate WGN out of Chicago as soon as he steps up to the podium.
PHILLIPS: Live pictures now from our affiliate CLTV, as we wait for that news conference. What is Rod Blagojevich going to say? Finally for the first time we're going to hear his side of the story. His lawyer says he has done nothing wrong yet everybody is very interested to hear those tapes of him allegedly trying to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat.
Meanwhile, Meteorologist Chad Meyers is tracking the big storm for us across the country. All right Chad, what is the update?
CHAD MEYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Only 44 planes out of Newark in the sky right now and that's about 120 short of where we should be, that means that they're aren't enough planes in the sky, which means there's probably some big time backups out there in the northeast. There are a lot of planes out there, sill 5,000, kind of like ants on candy here, but the airport delays have been coming in, they've been coming rather quickly here and in some of these kind of coming and going because of the heavy snow. Snow in the capital district, moving out of Buffalo right now, that's because you are just about done Buffalo and maybe up toward Niagara Falls.
Detroit you're out of it at this point and time. So is Chicago. What you see is what you get. There may be some more snow later in the weekend, but what you see is what you get right now. There will be heavy snow from the capital district right on down to almost New York City. Look at some of these, every square that you see purple in here, there is Allentown, there is the city right there, that's a foot of snow or more. Pocono's, Binghamton, all the way up even into the Catskills and even in through some parts of the Adirondacks. So that's what we're expecting now. New York City getting heavy, heavy snow at times and you can hardly see some of the buildings on our webcams here in New York City, its getting slick as it gets darker. Probably 5:00 or 6:00 what looks like slush is going to turn to ice and it's going to be a mess. Stay with us.
PHILLIPS: Well, he has been telling us that he is eager to talk, now we're finally going to hear what Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has to say. He is going to speak publicly in just a few minutes live from Chicago and of course you can see it right here on CNN. CNN's Susan Roesgen is actually there, she's joining me by phone right now. So what do you think, Susan, what are your sources telling you? What do we think he's going to say, claim his innocence or admit to anything?
VOICE OF SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I don't know, Kyra, but I can tell you this, the press people are saying that whatever he says will be short, maybe 60 to 90 seconds. So, yes, you are right, he has been saying that he is quote, unquote dying to let Illinois voters and we reporters know his side of the story as he calls it, but what he can sum up in just a sentence or two we don't know. Don't know if you can tell, Kyra, from this room, it's a small circular press room. I counted about 20 cameras, about 100 sweating reporters, we all have our heavy winter coats, because it's snowing outside and it's really warm in this room now.
One reporter joked there are far more people here to hear what the governor might have to say than have been coming to the almost daily press conferences held by President-elect Barack Obama. Kyra, the governor was arrested almost two weeks ago on federal corruption charges, and since then, he has joked around with reporters, he's waved to us. He went for a little jog the other day, but until now, he hasn't said anything substantial whether he will say something substantial today or not, we don't know yet.
PHILLIPS: Everyone is hoping he won't be blowing any more hot air into that room. Let's just remind everybody when it comes down to it, this all came forward because of audiotapes that exist allegedly talking about these various plans and negotiations to try to sell off Barack Obama's Senate seat.
ROESGEN: That's right, Kyra. The U.S. Attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald, came out and said -- and again this was about a week ago when he was arrested and taken away from his home in handcuffs here in Chicago -- the U.S. attorney said Governor Blagojevich tried to sell the appointment to the Senate seat left open by President-elect Obama. You might remember his quote, he said the conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave, the governor's own words he said des describing the Senate seat were to the affect of you just don't give it away for nothing. So that was the primary charge, and the one that the U.S. attorney said prompted his office to move forward right away. They had been investigating the governor for a while he said, but he didn't want the Senate seat to go to the wrong person or to be paid for, and he said he didn't want the "Chicago Tribune" to fire the editorial writers that the governor had identified allegedly in these wiretaps as people he wanted to get rid of because they were giving him unfavorable press. And I'm sure some of those folks are here today. Kyra?
PHILLIPS: All right, Susan Roesgen, right there inside the room. We will take it live as soon as he steps up to the mike. Thank you so much Susan. That's it for me. Have a fantastic weekend everyone. Rick Sanchez is going to take it from here.