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Obama to Announce New Environmental Policy; Obama to Sell Stimulus Plan; Guantanamo Bay's Closure Raises Questions on Where to House Gitmo Detainees; Toy Company Cashing in on Obama Dolls; Facebook Nudity Policy Outrages Breastfeeding Activist Group
Aired January 26, 2009 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): First real test of the president's power. Full stimulus ahead. But will they buy what he's selling? It's only $825 billion. Today, we're breaking down the bill to see how it all adds up.
Plus, bad economy sex? Companies close early so workers go home. Get between the sheets and make recession babies.
And, major upset at the SAG Awards.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This could be a bit of a crystal ball in terms of who will take home an Oscar.
ROBERTS: We're one on one with the stars on this AMERICAN MORNING.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: And good morning, thanks very much for being with us. It is Monday, the 26th of January. John Roberts, and welcoming in this morning Erica Hill, who's in for Kiran Chetry who's off today. It's great to see you here.
ERICA HILL, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Thank you. It's great to be here early in the morning with you guys.
ROBERTS: Well, you're pretty used to getting up early though because you do that show in that other network on Saturday morning.
HILL: I do. Just don't tell anybody, but it's true.
ROBERTS: Well, it's great to have you with us.
HILL: Thank you.
ROBERTS: Get us started.
HILL: I would love too. And we'll kick off this morning with a look at the headlines.
President Barack Obama looking to stimulate bipartisan support for his economic plan. The president will be on Capitol Hill this week where he's trying to sell Republicans on his $825 billion stimulus package. Obama says his plan will create or save as many as four million jobs. The leading Republicans including John McCain said they can't support the plan in its current form. Mr. Obama hopes to have it passed by Congress and ready for signing by mid-February.
President Obama's new Middle East envoy George Mitchell heading to the region today. Mitchell is scheduled to hold talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders on the Gaza cease-fire and restarting peace talks. He will also make stops in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
And actors honoring their own last night at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in Hollywood. "Slumdog Millionaire" won the top SAG Award, outstanding performance by a cast. Other winners included Sean Penn for "Milk", Meryl Streep in "Doubt" and the late Heath Ledger for his role in "The Dark Knight."
On the TV side, "30 Rock" swept the comedy categories including wins for Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin, and actor Hugh Laurie won Best Male Actor in a TV drama series for a second time for his work in "House."
ROBERTS: I went and saw "Slumdog" on Saturday...
HILL: I still haven't.
ROBERTS: ... for the second time.
ROBERTS: Yes. I've got you two.
HILL: Yes, you've seen the effect.
ROBERTS: Breaking news this morning as President Barack Obama begins his second week in office, set to roll back a major Bush environmental policy by allowing California and more than a dozen other states to set their own standards for emissions in fuel efficiency. The states requested waivers from the Federal Clean Air Act to impose their own stiffer standards on auto emissions, but the Bush administration had said no.
CNN's Suzanne Malveaux broke the story. She's live at the White House for us this morning. This makes good on an Obama campaign pledge, also a major reversal from Bush administration policy, Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, this is all a part of President Obama putting a stamp on the environmental policy, reversing these major Bush initiatives. The one that he is going to do that is really the center piece today issuing that executive order that allows basically California, 13 other states to set their own auto emission standards, stricter than what is required by federal law.
You may recall, John, that it was California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who went to the former president, President Bush, and said look, I want this waiver. This is what we are demanding. President Bush said no. That's not going to happen, it's not enforceable, it's too confusing. Well, President Obama believes differently. He believes you can work this out. He's also going to be calling for tougher fuel efficiency standards all around nationwide for automakers. And he's going to be looking at federal buildings and agencies and saying look, what are the ways that we can actually save energy? What are ways that we can create some savings here? So these are the kind of things that he is laying out today, John.
ROBERTS: And the president is also making an intense lobbying effort on behalf of his $825 billion stimulus plan but we're hearing from some very prominent Republicans that they're not going to support it unless there are major changes.
MALVEAUX: House Republicans specifically Congressman Boehner are not really excited about this saying this is way too big. This is way too much money, but what you're seeing here is President Obama as well as his top aides really engage in a very intensive lobbying effort.
Barack Obama himself, the president, will be on Capitol Hill on Tuesday before Republicans, House Republicans on their own home turf. We heard over the weekend new details about this economic stimulus package, where is the money going?
Well some of the highlights, $1,000 tax cuts for about 95 percent of working families. Also, he calls to modernize some 10,000 schools. And then he's talking about these water -- these waste water projects about 1,300, building them. Again, connecting that to this whole theme of energy and trying to save and renewable energy, creating that type of thing. So obviously, John, he's got a really tough sell here, but he is fully engaged in this.
ROBERTS: And John McCain also saying that he wouldn't vote for it either.
Suzanne Malveaux for us in the White House this morning. Suzanne, thanks so much.
MALVEAUX: Sure, John.
HILL: Well, it is a big price tag and a big test for the Obama administration. Christine Romans "Minding Your Business" and breaking down the stimulus package for us now to see how it all adds up, which is, of course, what everybody wants to know.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And it all adds up. It adds up to the biggest spending. This is war-time spending. A lot of economists say you look at this, this is like waging war on the economy here and they're spending a lot of money in a lot of different way.
$825 billion is the overall stimulus number. Of that $275 billion in tax cuts, this is where you start to get Republicans and Democrats arguing about what ratio should be new government spending and what should be tax cuts, though right now it's about $275 billion in tax cuts. And the idea here is to create up to four million jobs, three to four million jobs, indeed, over the next couple of years. But there are even some Democrats who are starting to question whether you can really, really create jobs with this kind of spending. Listen to what Senator Conrad told John King just yesterday.
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SEN. KENT CONRAD (D), BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIR: I think we have to have some question about the number, simply because most of the models that determine you can create that number of jobs are based on the financial system working normally.
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ROMANS: And that's key here. The financial system has to be working normally, and then you're spending $825 billion, something which is almost unheard of just to try to get the economy going. Now the economists strip away the politics, the economists have been saying all along you needed something big and bold. You need to try maybe a lot of different things all at the same time, because as one of my sources told me, we won't know what works until after it's done. So some of these guys want to see a lot of different things, a lot of money thrown at this problem to try to, you know, to try to at least stem the crisis in the economy right now.
HILL: Obviously that needs to be controlled. You can't just throw a million different ideas out at once and see which one sticks or which one works after it's all done.
ROMANS: That's absolutely right. But at the same time you also have people with political ambitions who are also -- they all have their own idea of how to spend that kind of money as well and how to get the economy going.
ROBERTS: $200 million into receiving the National Mall.
ROMANS: Yes. A lot of different things on there, but don't forget this is not the only part. This is big. $825 billion is huge, but the Obama -- there's a three-prong strategy here. You've got stabilizing the financial system. That probably will take more money.
A lot of economists are telling me we have not finished pouring money into the financial system. Market regulation, a lot of the folks who are on the Obama team have been signaling there could be some big and quick changes to market regulation and passing the stimulus plan, so a lot of different things, a lot of different moving parts here.
ROMANS: It all adds up.
HILL: Very, very busy on a Monday morning.
ROMANS: It adds up to a lot of our own money.
ROBERTS: It's like that concept of bold experimentation from the '30s.
ROMANS: That's right. That's right.
HILL: Christine, thanks.
The man chosen to fix the economy is one step closer to getting that job. Today, the full Senate is expected to vote on Timothy Geithner's nomination as treasury secretary. Last week the Senate Finance Committee voted 18-5 to recommend Geithner be confirmed.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi not apologizing for injecting money from President Obama's economic stimulus package to family planning services. On Friday, House Minority Leader John Boehner criticized that provision asking how spending millions on contraceptives would stimulate the economy. Yesterday, Speaker Pelosi defended that move to ABC's "This Week."
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GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST, "THIS WEEK": Hundreds of millions of dollars to expand family planning services, how is that stimulus?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER: Well, the family planning services reduced cost. It reduced cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crisis now and part of it what we do for children's health or education, and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs.
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HILL: And embattled Illinois Rod Blagojevich defying state lawmakers, skipping his impeachment trial today. Instead, the governor opted for a full day of TV interviews including one with CNN's Larry King tonight. Blagojevich is facing criminal charges for allegedly trying to sell Obama's vacant Senate seat, among other things. Blagojevich has denied any wrongdoing. You can see the governor's interview tonight at 9:00 Eastern only on "LARRY KING LIVE."
ROBERTS: Looking forward to that one.
The Obama administration's decision to close the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba is fielding criticism from some wondering about the fate of the detainees. Vice President Joe Biden, however, is dispelling fears that prisoners who can't be tried would be released inside the United States. Here's what he told CBS's Bob Schieffer.
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JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we won't release people inside the United States because all but one, I believe, is not an American citizen, an American national. So what I say to those people is you've got to give us some time. It's kind of the reason where we've been as prudent as we have about definitely it's closing, period. They're either going to be move and tried in American courts, tried in military courts or they're going to be sent back to their countries.
(END VIDEO CLIP) ROBERTS: And right now, lawmakers in Washington wrestling with the implications of closing the prison camp and bringing the suspected terrorists onto American soil. So, where will the detainees go? From Alcatraz to the Alcatraz of the Rockies' Supermax, those are some of the suggestions although a lot of people are saying NIMBY, Not in My Back Yard.
CNN's Susan Candiotti looks at the options this morning.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John and Erica, good morning. The president is shutting down the Guantanamo detention camp in a year, but in the U.S. few are putting out a welcome mat.
CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Like it or not, some Gitmo detainees are heading to the U.S. Any volunteers to play host?
REP. MIKE COFFMAN (R), COLORADO: This is like saying, you know, there's a toxic landfill and I want it in my backyard.
CANDIOTTI: Possible homes include Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where the military has a maximum security prison. How about military bases? North Carolina's Fort Bragg or California's Camp Pendleton. Not in my district, says Congressman Duncan Hunter.
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R), CALIFORNIA: I don't think that they ought to be placed in military bases whose primary role is to train marines and soldiers for military action.
CANDIOTTI: Some have even suggested reopening San Francisco's Alcatraz. Orange, Colorado's Supermax federal prison is an obvious possibility already home to convicted terrorist, including Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman (ph) and the unibomber. The town's mayor says bring them in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's probably not a more secure place in the nation.
CANDIOTTI: Suspected terrorist have been tried and convicted in at least six states since 2001, 145 times.
SARAH MENDELSON, CTR. FOR STRATEGIC AND INTL. STUDIES: They've already been handling very dangerous people and the cases have gone forward and the public has been safe.
CANDIOTTI: Yet, relatives of 9/11 victims who went to Guantanamo last week and saw the accused in court are dead set against the transfer.
LORRAINE BELIVEAU, VICTIM'S SISTER: It's Homeland Security to protect us from people like this coming into our country. Why would we bring it into our country?
CANDIOTTI: Back home, relatives have now written a letter to the president saying no more delays. No more confusion over what to do with the suspects. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Find out how we feel and how these people are standing in there stay saying how proud that they killed my son.
CANDIOTTI: No matter where detainees wind up, there is no guarantee they'll see the inside of a courtroom. In some cases, there may not be adequate evidence to try them. Others may be acquitted and sent free in someone's backyard -- John and Erica.
ROBERTS: Susan Candiotti reporting for us this morning. It's a really controversial policy. What do you do with all of them?
HILL: Incredibly controversial and that's the question everybody wants to know. And the fear is that there's not a plan in place to know exactly where all these are going.
ROBERTS: And now you have al-Qaeda operatives over in the Arabian peninsula saying hey, you let me go and I'm finding (INAUDIBLE) to the United States.
HILL: The video that we saw part of the message released on Friday and has a lot of people scared.
ROBERTS: So there's a real propaganda campaign going back and forth.
HILL: That's actually one thing we're going to talk about a little later this morning with Peter Bergen (ph) who's going to join us and tell us...
HILL: ... whether or not this could actually, in a good way, maybe al-Qaeda is grasping its straws here. So maybe there's a positive to some of this.
ROBERTS: Looking forward to that.
HILL: We will see.
ROBERTS: This morning, new Obama-inspired merchandise hitting store shelves, but we'll tell you why the collectibles are not sitting so well with the first lady.
HILL: And 20,000 women fighting to show their breasts online all in the name of motherhood. We'll tell you which Web site that's supposed to bring people together is stopping them. It's about 12 minutes after the hour now.
ROBERTS: President Obama has popped up on everything from pins to hats to nail clippers. But now the president's two young daughters have entered the spotlight and the first lady is not too happy about it.
Our Alina Cho has been looking into this one, and she joins us. Good morning to you.
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there's a good morning, isn't it, John?
ROBERTS: It is.
CHO: Happy Monday, good morning to you. Good morning everybody.
You know, we're talking about Malia and Sasha dolls. The first daughters, of course, so famous you already know them by their first names and you're about to get to know them even better.
These dolls are named Malia and Sasha. Coincidence? Maybe not.
CHO (voice-over): Meet Marvelous Malia and Sweet Sasha? Names found familiar. They're the latest dolls by toy company Ty Inc. and they're a passing resemblance to first daughters, Malia and Sasha Obama.
ALLAN LICHTMAN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: They are really cute and really wonderful and you know, by virtue of being so wonderful, they're marketable.
CHO: But does that make it right? The first lady doesn't think so. Through her spokeswoman, Michelle Obama tells CNN, "We believe it is inappropriate to use young, private citizens for marketing purposes."
CHARLES FIGLEY, PROF. CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: This is sickening and a horrible thing. As a country we're all prepared for as a terrorist attack. Well, this in many ways is a greed attack.
CHO: Others argue why not? Everything the Obama girls touch turns to gold.
LICHTMAN: There really isn't much of anything that the Obamas can do about it. The president is not going to go sue private companies.
CHO: If history is any guide, children in the White House, especially the young ones, are generally off limits. In the Obama White House, the first couple makes it clear, they want their daughters to live as normally as possible. These dolls, some say, leave the first daughters exposed.
DR. JUDY KURIANSKY, CLINICAL PSYCHIATRIST: They should not be sold and feel like that they can be bought. This is not healthy for them psychologically.
CHO: Ty Inc. tells "The Associated Press" "There's nothing on the dolls that refers to the Obama girls. It would not be fair to say they are exact replications of these girls. They are not."
LICHTMAN: Well, it's not surprising that in our consumer culture and in this hard times economy, that people are going to try to take advantage of the Obama image and even Obama's wonderful two little girls. CHO: They're not the first. In the '60s, Caroline Kennedy had a doll, too. And some say from a marketing standpoint, it's a genius idea.
LICHTMAN: We live in the land of the free and the home of the dollar. Barack Obama is kind of a unique figure. He's a political leader, he's a rock star, he's an icon.
CHO: And these days, anything with Obama sells. Now according to psychologists, the problem is having a doll that's just like you takes away from that normal childhood experience. They say it can make children narcissistic or make them very shy, both ways to protect themselves from the fact that everybody has a little piece of them.
Now on the other hand, some say these dolls serve as a great role model for children, that everyone, of course, is excited about Malia and Sasha Obama. Why not have a doll? What's the harm in it? And, of course, John, as I mention, everything that is Obama or has the Obama image including the daughters, seems to sell.
Take a look at J. Crew, for example. The girls wore J. Crew cuts at the inauguration. The Web site crashed several times the next day. Stocks rose 10 percent. You know, America is fascinated. The question is what crosses the line?
ROBERTS: It will certainly. Hannah Montana is not screaming about there being Hannah Montana dolls out there because it's going to ching, chi, ching, ching.
CHO: That's the thing.
ROBERTS: You know, direct result of that and obviously, though, the Obamas would not benefit from any sales of these dolls.
ROBERTS: But back to Ty saying that they have no relation to Sasha and Malia other than the fact that their named Sasha and Malia.
CHO: We're not talking about Mary and Sally, as I said earlier. You know, Malia and Sasha, I mean, is it a coincidence? I mean, Ty Inc. tells "The Associated Press" and, by the way, CNN has reached out several times to Ty Inc. We've not heard back yet. But the company says we chose Malia and Sasha because they are beautiful names.
I'll let you.
ROBERTS: You know, I think the jury is still out on whether George Harrison cop (ph) "He's so Fine" when he wrote "My Sweet Lord" but this, I don't think so.
CHO: I don't know what you're talking about.
ROBERTS: Alina, thanks so much. CHO: OK.
HILL: Yes, you lost me with that one, too, John, but we'll look it up in the break.
With the economy in a recession, Japanese businesses are urging employees to work on one of the country's most serious social issues there, the low birth rate. And so they are sending their workers home early to get busy.
Yes, it is what you think and you need to hear more. It is 19 minutes after the hour.
ROBERTS: New this morning, disgraced evangelical leader Ted Haggard making headlines yet again. The New Life Church says the ex pastor was involved in a sexual relationship with a young male church volunteer for several years. Haggard was fired from the church in 2006 after he admitted to buying drugs and having an affair with a male prostitute. The latest revelations come ahead of a new documentary in Haggard's life that premieres this week.
Larry King has an exclusive interview with Ted Haggard. It will be on this Thursday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
And a hero's welcome for Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger in his hometown of Danville, California over the weekend. Sully was the pilot who safely landed US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River after losing both of the engines on that aircraft suspected of hitting birds. That was 11 days ago. He addressed the crowd briefly saying the crew was simply doing what it was trained to do -- Erica.
HILL: John on Facebook, the nudity rules usually apply to spring break girls gone wild but nursing moms? Well, it turns out the social networking site now coming under fire for taking down some pictures of mother's breast feeding. Facebook said it is just protecting its members. It has to have a policy that fits everyone.
Kara Finnstrom spoke to one mom who is now leading an online protest. And just a note here. We have blurred some of the pictures for this story.
KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So show me some of these pictures that are at issue here.
(voice-over): Photographs of women breast feeding, natural or obscene? The answer depends on who you ask.
The question is putting Facebook, the social networking Web site, in an uncomfortable place. DMITRI WILLIAMS, USC PROFESSOR: If they're playing the role of community police, they have to try to respect the will of the majority while protecting the minority. And that's a tough line to walk.
FINNSTROM: USC professor Dmitri Williams is talking about Facebook's ban and removal of certain breastfeeding pictures.
(on camera): Is it hard keeping up with this?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes it is.
FINNSTROM (voice-over): Young mom Kelli Roman is leading an online protest, asking other mothers to post their breastfeeding pictures.
KELLI ROMAN, BREAST-FEEDING ACTIVIST: The Facebook we've called "Hey, Facebook, Breastfeeding is Not Obscene." And when we first started, we only had a few hundred members, but within a couple of weeks we have like 20,000.
FINNSTROM: For Roman it's about changing the cultural norm.
ROMAN: As s long as pictures of women breastfeeding are still being classified as obscene, there are still going to be those small percentage of people who think it's nasty and obscene and got to send people dirty looks and messages.
FINNSTROM: Breastfeeding group La Leche League says it's used Facebook as an educational tool.
LORETTA MCCALLISTER, LA LECHE LEAGUE: We actually have to have photos specifically to show positioning. That kind of picture will help some mother that maybe lives out in a rural area, has Internet connection but doesn't have mothers in her community to go and talk to. How am I going to show that with being all covered?
FINNSTROM: Professor Williams says Facebook's actions aren't so much about censorship as about a new commercialism.
WILLIAMS: The content of Facebook isn't made by a Hollywood studio or by an production crew. It's made by the users of Facebook itself. In essence, the company makes money by selling the people to each other and if people don't behave to each other the way that everyone would like to, the company can lose money.
Facebook also says almost all photos banned were flagged by complaining users. Roman just wants to promote breastfeeding, but she's also testing the boundaries of Internet authority in a growingly web connected world.
Kara Finnstrom for CNN, Los Angeles.
HILL: Stop work. Make babies. Oh, yes, that's the message. We'll show you just how far the Japanese are going to try to raise their dangerously low birth rate.
ROBERTS: And hard sell. President Obama heads to Capitol Hill to push his economic stimulus plan, but will his efforts to reach out to Republicans pay off? We'll find out.
It's 26 minutes after the hour.
HILL: The border wall was one of the dominant issues when the presidential campaigns were taking shape more than two year s ago. Well now that the election is over, President Obama is under pressure to stop construction of a border wall 600 miles and hundreds of millions of dollars in.
Ed Lavandera went right to the border to talk to people living in its shadow.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just beyond the right field wall of this college baseball field begins another wall. This one, ten feet high, made of concrete columns and chain link. This is what a small stretch of the border wall looks like on the edge of the University of Texas Brownsville campus.
The whole point of this is to deter people, keep people out. Do you think it accomplishes that?
BOB LUCIO, GOLF COURSE OWNER: No. No, well, I know they're climbing fence and jump over it right now.
LAVANDERA: Bob Lucio always opposed the wall, but he's actually happy to see this one. He says the original plan would have put him out of business. Homeland Security proposed putting a massive steel wall that would have cut off Lucio's golf course from the rest of the city. But after negotiations, the university agreed to pay for and build this fence. Homeland Security signed off on the deal.
Were you surprised the government won't even agree to it?
LUCIO: Yes, I'm surprised.
LAVANDERA: Border wall critics are pushing President Obama to stop the construction as Senator Obama voted to fund the wall but Obama has suggested he'll review what border security measures are effective.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The key is to consult with local communities. SCOTT NICOL, OPPOSES BORDER WALL: We hope that President Obama would look at the situation, see that there are tremendous waste of money, tremendous waste of resources and posing tremendous damage and would just stop the whole project.
LAVANDERA: Critics say the random nature of the wall drives them crazy.
NICOL: Well, that's where it's going to end.
LAVANDERA: Like this mile-long stretch in the middle of a farm field.
NICOL: Homeland Security doesn't care whether the wall is effective or its placement is logical. They just want a number of miles.
LAVANDERA: So far about 580 miles of the wall have been built. It will total more than 700 miles long. Outgoing Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff vigorously defended the wall in an interview with CNN and says it's keeping the country safe, helping border patrol do its job.
MICHAEL CHERTOFF, FMR. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I think those who want to stop the fence might want to think twice about what it's going to mean for their own property on the border itself.
LAVANDERA: Now that Barack Obama is president, the question is whether he will see the wall the way many locals here see it as something that should disappear.
Ed Lavandera, CNN, Brownsville, Texas.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, returning to our top story this morning. Week two of the Obama administration shaping up to be quite critical. Tomorrow, President Obama heads to Capitol Hill to enlist Republican support for his estimated $825 billion rescue plan. Republicans want less spending and more tax cuts, but the president insists it is the jolt that the economy needs now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: This is not just a short-term program to boost employment. It's one that will invest in our most important priorities like energy and education, health care and a new infrastructure that are necessary to keep us strong and competitive in the 21st century.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: And the president's top economic adviser says President Obama is prepared to do whatever it takes to fix the economy even if it means injecting more taxpayer money into America's biggest banks.
Joining us now to talk more about this and other issues on the plate this week here in New York conservative commentator Andrea Tantaros and in Los Angeles NPR commentator and founding editor of ThatMinorityThing.com John Ridley.
Welcome to you, both, this morning. John, let's start with you. The Obama administration is saying that it needs to help out the banks steering clear, though, of this idea of nationalizing banks. However some Democrats are suggesting maybe something like that is a good idea because if you're going to put taxpayer money into these banks you should be guaranteed some sort of rate of return. Would nationalizing America's banks be a good idea?
JOHN RIDLEY, FOUNDING EDITOR, THATMINORITYTHING.COM: I don't think so. I mean, look, this was tried in France in the 80s. It didn't work out so well. Tried in some Asian nations in the 60s, it didn't work out so wall. And it's a lot of work. I mean, we've got some of the best minds on Wall Street right now that couldn't handle banks. So our politicians, the best people to get involved in banks they have worldwide reach, I don't think so. I don't think it's a good move.
ROBERTS: Andrea, I'm sure that you agree with that?
ANDREA TANTAROS, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: I actually couldn't hear what he was saying. His mike was off on my end. But as far as --
ROBERTS: Oh, I'm sorry. He said he thought it would not be a good idea to nationalize the banks.
TANTAROS: Yes, I completely agree with that. I think it's a very, very slippery slope. But one thing I will say that we cannot let fail is the banking industry. You know, there's so much talk on Capitol Hill about the stimulus, but we're forgetting no one is talking about that second part of T.A.R.P. What we're doing with that. That is the most important thing right now is to dethaw these credit markets.
And I think that's what Republicans need to start speaking up about this week. They talk about tax cuts. They've got to get back to how do we dethaw this credit market, how do we get the banks to start loaning again. You know, this stimulus package just seems to be one massive bailout for the states, bailout regarding Medicaid services. We have to ask the question, why would we be pumping money into states like New York, for example, who have spent themselves already into financial ruin.
ROBERTS: Well, what do you think about that, John? There are other people who are asking question such as is $200 million to rehabilitate the National Mall including planting new grass a good idea? $276 million for State Department computers, does that qualify really as stimulus? Are you comfortable with everything in this bill?
RIDLEY: I'm not comfortable with everything. I think a lot has been made about the Mall. Look, that's an infrastructure project. Somebody has got to handle it. Somebody has got to plant the grass, take care of the grass. Let's not kid ourselves. Those aren't the kinds of jobs that are going to save America. But does it put money in somebody's pocket, does allow them to take care of their family and maybe pay down some of their debts? Absolutely.
I'm not going to lie to you, I'm a little concerned about some of the family planning, even if that does work. That's one of those long- term solutions. I don't think it's a short-term solution.
So, I think, look, there's going to be going through with a fine-tooth comb a lot of this stimulus package. That's what Obama is going to do sitting down with Republicans. I wouldn't look at this as being the final word, but I don't think we can make too much out of every single issue that's within this stimulus package.
ROBERTS: Let me just switch gear and ask you about another issue, and this is particularly germane to your state, John. Let's get Andrea's response to it. It looks like President Obama is going to roll back, if not eliminate all together the Bush administration policies on whether or not states can set their own emissions and fuel efficiency standards beginning with California. I think 13 other states are involved. What's your view on all of that, Andrea?
TANTAROS: Well, look, I think this is perfectly expected from Barack Obama. I think that he's really trying to distance himself from the Bush administration. We expected him to take a more aggressive view on environmental issues, and I think that's exactly what he's doing. But I think that the automakers have a point in this.
They're already troubled, and this would actually create a hodge-podge across all of the states when it comes to automobile policy and emission policy. They would prefer one single national standard. They fear, you know, there's not enough time to get the cars ready. And I think they have a lot of valid points.
I will say this, though, in his first week, it's interesting what Obama has done. He's tackled emission standards, which I think he'll actually get a lot of Republican support for. But these other issues like Mexico City and Guantanamo Bay, I think he's getting these out early and not worrying about them so close to perhaps his re-election.
ROBERTS: And just to remind folks at home, the Mexico City policy is the so called Abortion Gag Rule that bans federal funding of overseas family planning clinics that talk about abortion.
Andrea Tantaros, John Ridley, good to talk to you this morning. Thanks for coming in. Appreciate it.
TANTAROS: Thank you.
RIDLEY: Thank you.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Learning the lessons of Gitmo. Not everything about the notorious detention center at Guantanamo Bay was a failure. In fact, there are certain things we are told the president should know about, including what was done right and he should know that before he shuts it down for good.
The Oscar favorite, "Slumdog Millionaire." The rags-to-riches love story scoring big again last night. It was the S.A.G. awards. We'll have the full wrap of the latest Oscar warm up for you. It is 36 minutes after the hour.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HILL: When their economy in a recession, why would Japanese companies urge their workaholic employees to turn off the laptop, go home early and use what little energy they have left to make babies? CNN's Kyung Lah tells us about the new push to go home and procreate.
KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Quitting time at Canon's headquarters. The mad rush isn't just because workers want to head home, Canon shuts off the lights in the entire building and turns off the heat, forcing its employees out at 5:30 twice a week.
"It's great we can go home early and not feel ashamed" says this employee. But this is not just a cost-cutting measure. Canon is trying to get its employees to make more babies. "We have a very strong birth planning program" says Canon spokesman. And sending workers home early to be with their families is one part of it.
Canon is among roughly 1,300 companies sending workers home early. Japan is one of the world's lowest birth rates in the world. 1.34 according to the government. Well below what's needed to maintain the population. Part of the problem, the average 12-hour work day.
(on camera): It's just about 6:00 on a Friday night, and here's what you typically see in Tokyo's downtown offices. All those employees, they're still working away, no quitting time in sight. Suggesting that an employee go home early is just not the Japanese way.
(voice-over): 3-year-old Junta (ph) is living the more typical Japanese home life. Days and nights spent playing with a neighbor and his mother because his dad is always working. I can't make my son a brother or a sister says his mother because his dad is never home. The recession has made life worse for families like Junta's. Layoffs mean fewer employees to do the same amount of work, which translates into longer work days. But at Canon, no such complaints. These employees say even in the gloomiest of economic storms, there can be life at the end of the tunnel.
Kyung Lah, CNN, Tokyo.
HILL: Well, at least the message is clear, right?
ROBERTS: Certainly. What do you think about all of this? You found time.
HILL: I can't -- you know, somehow I did. And you know, maybe I'll find time again, who knows? I don't know. I just can't imagine it. It's actually coming down to that. Someone saying why don't you just knock off early and go home and have a little fun.
ROBERTS: If they said --
HILL: How do I word this? ROBERTS: Why don't you knock off early and go have a beer. I think I could handle that.
HILL: Sometimes the beer could lead to the baby, John. It does happen that way.
ROBERTS: We'll have to talk on the break.
"Slumdog Millionaire," top dog at the Screen Actors Guild Award. The little movie that could taking a major step on the road to the Oscars. We'll have the full story on Hollywood's big night. I know everyone wants to know. What's he going to say to her? What's he going to say to her? It's 42 minutes after the hour.
ROBERTS: Wake up Norfolk. Good morning to you. 34 degrees and cloudy right now. Later on in the afternoon, though, looks like it's going to be a pretty good day down there, didn't it? 44 and some sunshine. And at 45 minutes after the hour, Rob Marciano joining us from the weather center in Atlanta with a look at the weather across the nation.
And those are snow flurries, Rob.
ROBERTS: Minus 29 up there in Caribou, eh?
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. It's nicer where you are.
ROBERTS: That's cold. Oh, my goodness. Rob, thanks so much for that.
MARCIANO: All right.
HILL: All right, John, thanks. That is rather chilly, I must say.
Down and almost out. One expert, though, says not so fast. In fact, she will tell us what she feels was done right at Gitmo, and why the president really needs to take note before moving further.
Plus, a high school football coach now facing charges of homicide, after one of his players died after collapsing at practice. How this case could impact coaches across the nation? It is 47 minutes after the hour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Here's what I want you to do. You're going to pull up, left hip forward, placing your right hand on your away hip thusly, giving the illusion that you have a gun. Of course, we both know, you don't. OK? But you know what we do have? Our voices.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: "Mall Cops" still king at the box office, finishing the top spot for a second straight weekend grossing another $21.5 million. That brings the film's 10th day take to $64.8 million. You got to ask why?
HILL: Oh come on, with dialogue like that, "We may not have guns, we've got our voices." It's a clear winner. It's a shoe-in for the award season next year, John.
HILL: Yes. Speaking of Hollywood's finest in movies and TV honored last night by their very own at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. And it was another big night for "Slumdog Millionaire." No "Mall Cop," but hey. The rags-to-riches love story that has emerged as the clear Oscar favorite. CNN's Brooke Anderson was there.
BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: John and Erica, it was a star-studied night as actors put aside their differences regarding a potential strike to honor their own at this year's Screen Actors Guild awards. "30 Rock" rocked the show and the late Heath Ledger was given a fitting farewell.
ANDERSON (voice over): Hollywood's acting community put infighting aside long enough to host the 15th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, where members traded stabbing each other on the back or patting each other on the back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Slumdog Millionaire."
ANDERSON: On the motion picture front, there was a happy ending for the gritty Cinderella story "Slumdog Millionaire," which earned outstanding performance by a cast for its Mumbai-based actors.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone wants to rise out of adversity and achieve what they really want in life.
ANDERSON: Meryl Streep sweeps actress win for her role as a crusading nun in "Doubt" led her to doubt her wardrobe choice.
MERYL STREEP, ACTRESS: Well, I didn't even buy a dress.
ANDERSON: And when "Milk" star Sean Penn picked up his prize for playing gay rights activist Harvey Milk, he admired the anatomically correct statuette.
SEAN PENN, OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY LEAD MALE ACTOR: I noticed that the two statues have rather healthy packages. As actors, we don't play gay, straight. This is a story about equal rights for all human beings, and --
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
ANDERSON (on camera): I didn't see Sean Penn at all. I saw Harvey Milk.
PENN: It always goes back to the writing and Harvey Milk, in this case, happen to write himself a sensational life.
ANDERSON (voice over): Supporting trophies went to Kate Winslet for "The Reader" and to the late Heath Ledger for the "Dark Knight."
GARY OLDMAN, ACCEPTED HEATH LEDGER'S AWARD: He was an extraordinary young man with an extraordinary talent. I thank you -- Heath.
ANDERSON: And the TV category.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The cast of "Mad Men."
ANDERSON: The show won Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.
TINA FEY, ACTRESS: We are really an ensemble show.
ANDERSON: For comedy series, it was the cast of "30 Rock," which tallied three wins, including nods for Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey. Of course, Fey couldn't resist taking a jab at SAG-stalled contract negotiations with industry producers.
FEY: What do you mean you don't get residuals for this?
ANDERSON: John and Erica, the Screen Actors Guild Awards are considered a harbinger for the Academy Awards. So, this could be a bit of a crystal ball in terms of who will take home an Oscar on February 22nd. Back to you.
ROBERTS: All right. Brooke Anderson for us this morning.
You haven't seen "Slumdog Millionaire."
HILL: I know. I think I'm the only person in the country who hasn't.
ROBERTS: But you've got a great story about the lead character. You can (INAUDIBLE) them off.
HILL: I heard about the kid who plays in the movie, yes. Apparently, it was -- I think I saw it on "Letterman." (INAUDIBLE) that his mother one day sort of dragged him to this casting call. He thought oh, mom, please don't do this to me. This is terrible. And it worked out really well because -- I don't believe it was for this role, but it was a precursor to it. And he has just had rave reviews. It seems like this wonderfully grounded young man.
ROBERTS: I tell you. As I said, I saw it for the second time on Saturday. Everybody is good the second time around as it was the first. HILL: See. That's saying something for a movie.
ROBERTS: Got to get you out to the movies.
HILL: I know. Like I said, you can baby sit, it will be perfect.
ROBERTS: I'll do that for you. 53-1/2 minutes after the hour. Stay with us.
Obama and the hate mongers. The flipside of peace, love and unity at the inauguration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brought everybody closer together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Not everybody.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These groups are holding up the specter of a kind of a black family moving into the White House as a horror show.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Hate crimes on the rise?
Plus, a new warning about kids and cell phones. The must-see report for parents. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning"
HILL: In his first week in office, President Obama signed an order to shut down the notorious U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba within a year. My next guest says the president should pay close attention to lessons from the very start of that detention center to avoid repeating mistakes.
Karen Greenberg is the executive director of New York University Center on Law and Security. She's also the author of the acclaimed book "The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo's First 100 Days."
Good to have you with us this morning. This is from a piece that you actually wrote for "The Washington Post." And the period you're talking about when Guantanamo was good, if we can say that, was really the first month. So right now, you're saying that Bush missed the signs that his military personnel on the ground were telling him. What does then President Obama need to look at and take from those first few days?
KAREN GREENBERG, EXEC. DIR., NYU CENTER ON LAW & SECURITY: First, Guantanamo was never good. It was better. And it was headed in a better direction. Having said that, what Obama needs to do, and I think he's probably aware of this or at least his advisers are, is to consider the initial elements.
One, the collaboration, cooperation with the international community. Right away, the military called in the international committee of the Red Cross. That's important -- to have some kind of eyes outside of our own monitoring, making people accountable on the ground.
The second thing was that the military initially prepared or thought they were preparing for legal trials. They began to find a courtroom. They began to think about building it. They were expecting that.
And the way in which the legal process disappeared in the first couple of years of Guantanamo is going to be revived and President Obama has made that very clear already. He has intentionally, in his executive orders last week, moved the overview of these trials from the Pentagon to the Justice Department, where it belongs and where it will stay. So some of these things he's put in place already.
HILL: So you think he's making inroads?
GREENBERG: He is.
HILL: But he needs to pay attention to basically when the military was in charge of the way they were setting things up. I have this few questions though. We looked that we have this new message from al Qaeda on Friday featuring two men, one of them saying, look, I was at Guantanamo Bay, look, what I've come back and I've done. If this does happen, though, if there is someone who is released, even after the prisoners are moved, is that going to be President Obama's legacy? He closed Gitmo and look, they got us again.
GREENBERG: Well, first of all, these two people were not let out or these people were not let out on President Obama's watch. One of the problems with Guantanamo...
HILL: But should that happen going further.
GREENBERG: So, there's two parts of that. One part of it is that we really didn't know who we put into Guantanamo Bay. We still don't know who's there. And we also didn't know who we let out. And that is one of the problems of keeping a secretive process in which you don't involve people who are professionals at trials, the way we know them to take place.
And so what you did was -- there was no processing in, no processing out. What Obama administration is going to have to do is make better judgment calls. They're going to have to amass as much evidence as they can. And then they're going to be somewhat risk tolerant of what might happen.
HILL: Did you say somewhat risk tolerant, but can they control a certain portion of it to avoid?
GREENBERG: They can. They can decide who's dangerous. They can make a judgment call on that.
HILL: Is a year enough to figure all of this out?
GREENBERG: I think a year is more than enough. I think they've been there way too long. The faster this happens, the better. Whatever amount of man-hours they need to put in to review these cases, they need to do as quickly and with as much energy and intensity as they can.
HILL: Karen Greenberg, thanks for coming in this morning.
GREENBERG: Thank you.