Return to Transcripts main page

AMERICAN MORNING

Steelers Win Super Bowl XLIII; More Winter Weatehr Problems; Phelps and Marijuana Photo

Aired February 2, 2009 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CHETRY: Well, this morning, the Pittsburgh Steelers and their fans celebrating the team's record six Super Bowl titles. Ben Roethlisberger, six-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes with just 35 seconds left gave the Steelers a dramatic nail-biting come-from- behind win over the Arizona Cardinals. 27-23. It's Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa.

The game also featured the longest play in Super Bowl history. It was a hundred-yard interception return for a touchdown by Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison. This ended the first half. That play was practically a footnote though in the end as both teams staged a memorable finish.

Other Super Bowl headliners, there were singer and actress Jennifer Hudson belting out the national anthem, also the Boss, Bruce Springsteen rocking the house at halftime. And the captain and crew of the U.S. Airways flight that landed in the Hudson River were honored on the field before the game walking out to thunderous applause.

President Barack Obama also called to congratulate the Steelers after the big win. He said he was rooting for them anyway. He called them and actually invited the team to the White House. Santonio Holmes gained MVP and Roethlisberger wasted no time there to making their trip to Disney World today. So congrats.

ROBERTS: Great to see the crew of U.S. Airways 1549 out there. And "The Boss" rocked the house last night. That was the best halftime performance I've ever seen.

CHETRY: He's wonderful.

ROBERTS: And great to see Jennifer Hudson out there too after what happened with her.

CHETRY: Absolutely, a success all the way around. You know the Cardinals they've been starting out with such a good season and they ended making it almost all the way. So good for them.

ROBERTS: They came this close.

CHETRY: Here is another look at the big play. There you see it.

ROBERTS: Here's the nail in the coffin. For you Cardinal fans who just wanted to see it one more time.

Oops.

(LAUGHTER)

CHETRY: Kept toes inbound and the rest flew out of bounds so that earned him a MVP nod as well. So congrats, there goes the cold Gatorade.

ROBERTS: I wouldn't be (inaudible)

The great Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps vowing that it won't happen again after he was photographed apparently taking a hit from a bong but will the apology be enough for sponsors who are paying him millions of dollars after winning a record eight gold medals at the summer Olympics in Beijing.

CNN's Jason Carroll is following this story for us.

That is just one of those photos that can cause a lot of damage. And the big question is, whether it will.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a bit of tarnish on the gold, isn't it?

If this was the only incident where Phelps had a problem, then advertisers might stand by him, but this is the second time. It's unclear if he is going to be able to keep all of those endorsements.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL (voice over): Michael Phelps is calling his behavior "regrettable" After the British tabloid "News Of The World" published this picture showing him appearing to be smoking pot during what the paper said was a party at the University of South Carolina last November. Phelps released a statement saying:

"I'm 23 years old, and despite the successes I have had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way." He went on to say, "For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public - it will not happen again."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He made a mistake. Everybody makes a mistake.

CARROLL: Phelps broke the record books in Beijing this past summer winning an unprecedented eight gold medals. However, this incident should have no impact on his medal standing. Marijuana is a banned substance, but an athlete is subject to sanctions only if a positive test result occurs during competition.

The U.S. Olympic Committee said it was disappointed in Phelps but added, "We are confident going forward, Michael will consistently set the type of example we all expect from a great Olympic champion."

This isn't the first time Phelps has found himself in a potentially embarrassing situation. In 2004, he was arrested on a drunken driving charge in Maryland at the age of 19. He pled guilty and received 18 months probation. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he continues to make a mistake, I think this is the second, I think the third one is probably the last strike, but I think he's fine now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It really disappoints me because, you know, I thought he was this great all-American athlete that was abiding by the rules.

CARROLL: Phelps main penalty in all of this could be his endorsements. He collects millions a year from companies like Visa, and Speedo. It remains to be seen if any of those sponsors are having second thoughts.

RYAN SMITH, SPORTS ATTORNEY: Unlike an athlete that plays sports every year in the public spotlight the Olympics, for swimmers, comes only every four years. So he doesn't have that chance to rehabilitate his image immediately, like a lot of other athletes, a basketball player or a football player would. So companies might say, you know what let's not work with Michael Phelps right now because he doesn't have a chance to redeem himself.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL: Well, Phelps million-dollar endorsements are highly coveted, as you might expect. The bread and butter of Olympic athletes, one cannot take away Phelps accomplishments in the pool, but those endorsements, as you hear there, could be in some jeopardy.

ROBERTS: You know, he never admitted to smoking marijuana.

CARROLL: That's true.

ROBERTS: The inference and the implication of the photograph were there. We'll see what he can do. As Ryan was saying maybe there are some things he can do in the next two or three weeks that would help him get past this.

CARROLL: Yes, but you also heard what he said, as well, that with other athletes, it's very easy. You're always out there performing, but with someone like Phelps who is an Olympic athlete, you only perform every few years.

ROBERTS: He is at the world's, though, in Rome this summer. So, its not like he's out of competition.

CARROLL: Yes, he can do a lot in a few months leading up to that, but we'll see.

ROBERTS: Exactly. Jason, thanks.

CARROLL: Yes.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Well, this morning, the final push. President Obama's massive stimulus package facing a fierce fight with the Republicans in the Senate. There was late-night lobbying taking place at the White House. Several Republicans joining the president for a "Super Bowl" party.

Mr. Obama and his vise president also meeting with congressional leaders today. The president does need Republican support after campaigning on the promise of bipartisanship, the president's rescue plan passed the House without a single Republican vote. In an interview with NBC's Matt Lauer the president promised to accommodate some GOP demands.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The important thing is getting the thing passed. And I've done extraordinary outreach, I think, to Republicans, because they have some good ideas and I want to make sure that those ideas are incorporated.

I am confident that by the time we actually have the final package on the floor, that we are going to see substantial support, and people are going to say this is a serious effort. It has no earmarks, we're going to be trimming out things that are not relevant to putting people back to work right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is live outside of the White House.

So, what is the game plan going forward today? Are we going to see this bill actually shrink or see it get larger as it makes its way to the Senate?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, one of the lessons learned, Kiran, from the last time is that House Democrats essentially crafted the legislation initially on their own and Republicans cried foul, saying look at all of these programs that have nothing to do with creating jobs quickly.

The president actually participated trying to intervene. He did get some programs taken out initially of the House bill. That is what he is going to do. He is going to sit down with Democrats and say, what are the things that are absolutely necessary? What is not necessary? And what are the good ideas Republicans have? Some of them are talking about the mortgage rate, lowering that to 4 percent. Others are talking about doubling the home credit for new buyers who are actually looking at buying homes. These are the kind of things they are going to be talking about.

Also, he is going to be meeting with Jim Douglas, of Vermont. He is a Republican governor and he is pushing for the economic stimulus package. He is one of the people the president hopes will lobby these Republican senators to get on board.

The other thing, as you know, Kiran, you mentioned that "Super Bowl" party. He was courting Democrats, as well as Republicans, you know, trying to win them over, but it was a social occasion. I just got off the phone with one of the senators who was there. You've been asking me about the food fight, whether or not there was one. There was not a food fight, we understand, but they served hamburgers and hot dogs and Barack Obama gave a big high-five when the Steelers actually won.

CHETRY: All right. That is who he was rooting for all along. That was his team. So, congratulates. They had some nice bipartisanship last night and see if it carries over into the stimulus plan debate.

Thanks a lot, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Sure.

CHETRY: Well, Republican Senator John McCain has been critical of the president's plan to rescue the U.S. economy. Last week, he said he would not support the current bill. I just spoke to him a short time ago and asked him whether anything had changed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHETRY (On camera): What do you need to see, either taken out or added to this bill, that would allow you to support it?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R-AZ) FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, as I said, there's a number of things. We would like to see payroll tax cuts. We would like to see more incentives such as a $15,000 tax credit for homeownership. We would like to see elimination of these policy changes which have nothing to do with jobs. We want the stimulus package to focus on jobs.

I think we are clearly prepared to sit down, discuss, negotiate, a true stimulus package that will create jobs. We all know how tough the economy is. But now it's time, after the way it went through the House, without any Republican support. It's been rammed through the Senate so far. We need to seriously negotiate. We haven't done that yet. We can do it, though.

CHETRY: How do you separate what is pork and what isn't when everybody seems to have a different viewpoint?

MCCAIN: Well, one is does it take effect in the next year or so, because that is the critical time here, as quickly as possible. Another is that all of us appreciate the National Endowment for the Arts, but that's not a job creator. That creates jobs of infrastructure projects that shovels are ready to be turned.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHETRY: Senator McCain also stressing that Republicans need to be involved in the discussions surrounding the stimulus package.

ROBERTS: Looking at some of the other stories making headlines this morning.

California is out of cash and out of time. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger scheduled to meet with state lawmakers again today to try to hammer out a balanced budget for the state. If a deal is not reached the state may have to delay paying its bills and sending out refunds to taxpayers. Government employees may have to take unpaid furloughs as of Friday.

The US Airways plane immortalized by the so-called Miracle on the Hudson was flying very low through the streets of Jersey City, New Jersey on Saturday. IReporter Eugene Ababio caught this video of the fuselage taking a turn on to Kennedy Boulevard.

President Obama shared the spotlight with Alaska Governor Sarah Palin over the weekend in Washington. Mr. Obama and the governor both attended the Alfalfa Dinner, an annual closed-door roast to the city's political and business elite.

Aretha Franklin's now famous inauguration hat may be immortalized in the Smithsonian. They museum has requested the iconic hat, but the Queen of Soul so far undecided. She says it's hard to part with it because it was part of such a, quote, "crowning moment in history".

That was quite a crown that she was wearing that day.

CHETRY: How about it?

ROBERTS: What a better way to immortalize it, though, than put it in the museum?

CHETRY: That's right. We actually had a pretty crafty - one of the guys who works on the sets, actually made his own replica. Do we have that picture, by the way? One of our producers - oh. Oh, one of our producers. Oh, all right. Here it is. What do you think? That also is another prop in our newsroom, the world's largest pencil. That's what we do after the show.

ROBERTS: Very nice.

CHETRY: Does it make my hair look flat? Not the most flattering photo.

ROBERTS: I think it's a pretty close replica, though. Absolutely.

CHETRY: Well, still ahead a dangerous winter storm is gripping London and much of Britain, creating a real mess on the roads, the rails, the runways. In a moment, we will take you live to London.

First, though, it's The Boss, rocking out at the "Super Bowl".

(MUSIC VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: It's 11 minutes after the hour. There is a scene you don't see very often in jolly old London Town, snow coming down. Not just snow coming down, but sticking to the roadways, the parks and playgrounds, so thick there in some of the squares that they got to take the shovels to it.

Who better to tell us about the snow in London than a young lady who has been used to this all her life because she grew up in the Great White North, Canada. She has her snowball in our hand. Paula Newton, for us this morning, on the roof of our bureau there, on Greater Marlborough (ph) Street.

What is it like?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT: I can't believe this. Usually, we're gloating, right? You guys talk in Chicago about minus 1 and, you know, talking about two feet of snow here and there. And we think ah, the daffodils are coming up.

I mean, John, take a look at this. This is crazy. The snow continually comes down. I think we got about half a foot, six inches, down now. This is in Central London. You can now hear a pin drop. Heathrow saying they are clearing so much snow they don't know what to do with it. They don't know where to put it anymore.

Most of the subways, what they call The Tube here, shut down or at least severely delayed. Every single double-decker bus, in London, pulled off the road. It is --I'm still amazed. And it keeps on coming.

John, we're going to get probably another 6 inches. You're talking about a foot of snow perhaps in some areas of London, not to mention the rest of the country may get more. This city, this country, will be going through snow chaos for several hours to come, if not days.

And you know, it's the same thing everywhere. Everybody is saying it's just a little snow! Why can't we cope? But I have to say, I mean, John have a look at this. This is proper snow! You and I know what a proper snow is all about. My kids have been busy making snowman after snowman after snowman. It's not to be believed. They haven't seen this here in decades, decades.

ROBERTS: As they might say in England, it is a right royal snowstorm. Here is the question. If the buses aren't running, if it's is a problem getting a taxi, if most of the London Underground is shut down, how did you, my resourceful Canadian friend, get in to work today?

NEWTON: Well, you know what I did. I didn't even have to bring the proper boots in, as they say. I just have my little leather foots on, flats, with a knapsack on my back and I started walking. It didn't manage to hitch a ride on one Tube that was severely delayed, but that helped me a bit. Or else it would have taken me more than an hour. Instead it didn't take me that long at all.

There are lots of people walking the sidewalks. So it is so funny, John, because we see people slipping on the sidewalks and we're just making a beeline. Also, if you're in a taxi, you feel like taking over. No, no, you drive into the skid. Even the drivers here don't quite know how to handle all of this snow. It is wild and it just keeps piling up.

As you can see now, it's snowing and snowing and snowing. I mean, wait for more news on this. There will be lots of traffic delays throughout the day here in London.

ROBERTS: Looking forward to it.

NEWTON: Look at it.

ROBERTS: My favorite shots when we get lots of snow in New York City are people cross-country skiing down Fifth Avenue. I don't know if you'll see any of that today, but keep an eye out.

NEWTON: We've had that. We've had this morning beautiful shots. It looks great.

ROBERTS: Paula, thanks very much.

NEWTON: Bye, here's one for you!

ROBERTS: Don't have too much fun. Thanks.

CHETRY: Well, tax cuts, more spending. What is needed to kick-start the economy? We're breaking it down using "Playboy" economics? That's right the former CEO of "Playboy" Christy Hefner joins us in a few moments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS (voice over): Living on $6.25 a day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can't get name brands.

ROBERTS: 31 million Americans do it. How and why? Our Sean Callebs is finding out what it's like to try to live on food stamps.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (On camera): Never have I had to pay so much attention to every single thing that goes in the basket.

ROBERTS: You're watching the most news in the morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Welcome back to the most news in the morning. And a lovely shot of the capital building today with all sorts of blue sky and sunshine coming down on it. 42 degrees there right now, but do not let the sunshine fool you, because things are going to change today. Rain in the forecast later on and as that system moves in from the Ohio Valley eastward, going to get some rain showers tonight, and possibly even snow showers mixed in with those. And snow showers again tomorrow. Probably not too much that will affect the schools.

The Senate getting to work today debating President Obama's massive stimulus plan. Republicans argue it's a massive spending spree that will not boost the economy. Democrats, as you might imagine, disagree with that. Our own Lou Dobbs is going line-by-line, item-by-item taking a closer look at exactly what's in the bill.

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: Thanks, John and Kiran. On "Lou Dobbs Tonight", 7:00 p.m. Eastern, in "Lou's Line Item Veto" tonight we take apart the government's massive spending bill. We'll tell you what is really in it and what ought to be. We have an advantage over most of our elected officials. We've actually read the legislation. We found less than $1 billion set aside for the nation's biggest job generator that is small business, even though small businesses are creating nearly 80 percent of new jobs in this country.

Also tonight, we'll examine the money the House of Representatives put aside for the National Park Service. Just about $2 billion. That's right. It's twice what they put aside for small business. It's a worthy cause, no question. But how many jobs will be created? How will it stimulate our economy?

Neither party, by the way, is providing responsible oversight or analysis on this legislation. At least not yet, put but we will keep trying to push them toward that. No one is able, right now, to assure the American people in Washington that any part of this legislation will, in fact, stimulate the economy. Watch "Lou's Line Item Veto" tonight at 7:00 Eastern on "Lou Dobbs Tonight." And then, we hope you will let your elected officials know exactly how you feel about all of this.

John, Kiran, back to you.

CHETRY: All right, Lou Dobbs, thanks so much.

Well, 30 million Americans need food stamps to make end's meet and with economies taking a dive worldwide, and food prices rising in some cases, many say it's the equivalent of living on pennies a day. Our Sean Callebs is experiencing it firsthand. He plans to spend the next month living off nothing but food stamps. Sean is live in New Orleans this morning with a little bit of a look this morning on how it's going for you.

Hi, Sean.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Day two. Yesterday was the first day. Everything went OK. We're not doing this just for fun. In Louisiana, in the last four or five months, the number of people applying for food stamps has jumped by about 10 percent and part of the economic stimulus package also includes about a 13 percent hike for people on food stamps. Still, as you mentioned, it doesn't add up to much.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Green beans are four for $3.

CALLEBS (voice over): You may not realize how much you spend at the grocery store, until you're in dire straits; 31 million Americans need food stamps to make end's meet. In Louisiana, for instance, one person out of six receives government help keeping food on the table. Louisiana officials know it's humbling.

SAMMY GUILLORY, LA. DEPT. OF SOCIAL SERVICES: We've done everything we can to remove that stigma. We don't feel there is such a stigma. In times of need you just have to seek help. CALLEBS: Here, and in other states, food stamps have been replaced by this obtrusive government debit card.

To better understand this life I'm going to spend February living on the maximum amount one person can get for food stamps.

(On camera): Never have I had to pay so much attention to every single thing that goes in the basket. I have $176 to live on the entire month. That's all 28 days. Break that down, it's about $6.25 a day.

ARKESHA DARENSBOURG, FOOD STAMPS RECIPIENT: I buy it in a bag like this.

CALLEBS (On camera): How come?

(Voice over): Arkesha Darensbourg and her three children depend on food stamps off and on. She says it's tough to make end's meet but she is going to show me how to stretch a dollar.

DARENSBOURG: You have to squeeze in a lot of things. You can't get name brand items. You have to get store brands.

CALLEBS: The challenge is eating healthy and eating enough.

(On camera): It's 32 ounces here, and 16 here. I'll get two of these. That's 30 cents each. That's not that great, is it?

DARENSBOURG: No. What about, do you eat mac & cheese?

CALLEBS: I guess I'm going with to, big-time.

DARENSBOURG: It's 89 cents.

CALLEBS: I like that. That's in my window.

DARENSBOURG: Though, you think you're getting a good deal, for two this, two for that, in reality, you're really not.

CALLEBS: Because it adds up quickly.

DARENSBOURG: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Swipe it now. $105.13 left.

CALLEBS (voice over): That's right. Just $105 and change for the rest of the month.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CALLEBS: Yeah. It goes quickly. Here is the actual card, Louisiana Purchase. This is the one they use in this state for food stamps. Kiran, in the spirit of full disclosure, they couldn't give me one of these, it would be fraud, so I got a gift card with $176. I have $105 left now. I am going to be militant sticking to this the whole month, I promise you that. I have some carbohydrates here, some protein in the fridge, some lean ground beef, some chicken, some things of that nature.

Kiran, here is your chance to help out. What should I have for breakfast? Should I have the oatmeal, which I did buy in the bigger package, by the way. This is my favorite. Frosted Mini Spooners, these are knockoff of the regular kind. They have Little Blue and Little Oatie, down here. Or I could have some yogurt, eggs. What do you think? What should I have this morning?

CHETRY: I would definitely do some eggs. You need to get yourself some protein in there. Some eggs and how about the little mini frosted wheats? You know what?

CALLEBS: OK, I'll do the eggs -- go ahead.

CHETRY: You probably notice, you can't buy a lot of fresh things, right? All of the delicious-looking fresh fruits, those things, you probably can't buy because they are too pricey?

CALLEBS: Yes, they are pricey. You can buy it like a bag of oranges or a bag of apples. Also, Arkesha said, look, if you go to the farmer's market, you can get some good deals periodically. You can buy stuff that they may throw away at the end of the day, for just a little bit of money. So I may check that out as well.

By the way, food stamps only for food. No diapers, no paper towels, obviously, no tobacco or alcohol. It's tough for a family like Arkesha, three kids, to make end's meet.

CHETRY: Yeah. And you are living it, we are going to check in with you throughout the month. Good luck, Sean. Thanks so much. And we are going to be following Sean's story, by the way, as he follows - as he lives off food stamps for the month. You can read more about it online. Sean will be blogging about his experience on our show page, CNN.com/am.

ROBERTS: The economy certainly dominating the headlines. Even at Playboy Enterprises. What needs to be done? The former long-time CEO and Chairman of Playboy Enterprises Christy Hefner breaks it all down for us this morning.

Plus, the editor of "Men's Fitness" magazine issues a challenge to the president. Get more Americans, in particular, kids, off the couch and into the gym. Will the message be heard? It's 25 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: It's 27 minutes now after the hour.

Of course, the economy is issue number one here at CNN. We talk about it all the time. We love to get expert commentary on this. And we are pleased and proud this morning to have added to our roster of economic analysts the former CEO and chairwoman of Playboy Enterprises, Christie Hefner. She's in Chicago this morning. Christie, you just stepped down from the position after so many years on Friday. And let's just get your take, because you just came out of the corporate world, on where we are here - 2.6 million jobs lost in 2008. You cut 100 there at Playboy Enterprises. You're shutting down the Manhattan office, moving all the operations back to Chicago. What's your overall assessment of where we are in the jobs market and where we're headed?

CHRISTIE HEFNER, FORMER CEO AND CHAIRWOMAN, PLAYBOY ENTERPRISES: Well, I think you're going to continue to see, as we have, companies really taking almost aggressively belt-tightening moves because of the uncertainty of the near-term recovery. So, I think companies are concentrating on getting their cost structure in order and making sure their balance sheets are strong, because that's really what's going to separate the survivors from the companies that are going to struggle is strong balance sheets.

ROBERTS: So, when they're making these cost-cutting measures, how far out are they looking in terms of where the recovery might be?

HEFNER: The sense that I'm getting in talking to CEOs is that people are hoping for a late 2010 recovery, so you can imagine, if the expectation is an 18- to 24-month recession, that CEOs and boards are going to cut deep right now.

ROBERTS: So, the latter part of 2010? That's a long way off.

HEFNER: It is, and I think that the plan that people are operating under is, they like to be pleasantly surprised, and they cannot afford to be unpleasantly surprised.

ROBERTS: But this all kind of feeds a vicious circle, doesn't it? Companies trying to improve the bottom line, trying to look better in the eyes of Wall Street. They're shedding jobs, cutting costs, but at the same time, they're sort of feeding into that recession because the more people who get laid off, you know, the worse the economy gets because there are fewer people out there buying things.

HEFNER: I completely agree, John. And I think the ripple effect in the service industries of these massive layoffs from, you know, Home Depot to Caterpillar, from Microsoft to Sprint, is yet to be felt. And while there's a lot of commentary about the capital markets and the toxic, you know, bank, toxic-loan buyouts, all of which of course is an important focus, I think the bigger challenge is going to be the job creation and the necessity of focusing on both those industries that can drive it and those policies that can support it.

ROBERTS: Christie, I also wanted to get your take on this idea of the Wall Street bonuses. As you know, the president, President Obama came out and said that they were outrageous. Senator Claire McCaskill wants to change things around, $400,000 maximum in executive compensation for companies that get assistance from the bailout plan. And let's listen to what she said about these Wall Street (INAUDIBLE) in giving out these $18.7 million (ph) in bonuses.

(START VIDEO CLIP) SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: We have a bunch of idiots on Wall Street that are kicking sand in the face of the American taxpayer. They don't get it. These people are idiots. You can't use taxpayer money to pay out $18 billion (ph) in bonuses.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: So, obviously there was a little bit of political rhetoric in there from the floor of the Senate, but, you know, are these Wall Street CEOs tone-deaf when it comes to appearances?

HEFNER: I think that's a very good characterization. And indeed, Senator McCaskill is a pro-business Democrat. So, this is not coming from the far left. And I think it's a reflection of this sense that's widely held out in America that these decisions, you know, whether it's the million-dollar office renovation or the $50 billion (ph) plane or the bonuses, are not reflective of what makes sense. Now, my own view is that the best way to set new compensation policy is probably not to have it done just in Washington.

Part of what has happened was the law of unintended consequences when comp was set at a $1 million limit for tax deductibility, which drove a lot of use of options. And what's needed now longer term is a much more complex understanding of how to factor in risk and the right time horizon for evaluating the generation of bonuses. So, I'm hoping that some of the smart financial CEOs, say a Jamie Dimon, will work collaboratively with Congress on what is a sane and fair compensation plan going forward.

ROBERTS: Christie Hefner, it's great to get your take on things. Thanks for joining us, and we hope to see a lot more of you in the coming days.

HEFNER: Thank you, John.

ROBERTS: Appreciate it.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: About a minute and a half past the hour now. A look at the top stories this morning.

Preliminary results from Iraq's national election are expected later this week. 7.5 million people around the country went to the polls. And we want to make a correction from earlier, last week's election turnout was actually lower than Iraq's 2005 elections. That is when turnout was almost 56 percent when we said two percent, we were speaking about just the residents living in a very, very violent area of the Anbar province for them in 2005. Only two percent turned out this time around, and nearly 60 percent in those areas turned out.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton started the year with 5.9 million dollars in debt from a presidential campaign. That is according to records filed with the federal election commission. She has been steadily chipping away at her campaign's unpaid bills from last year. They peaked back in June at $25.2 million.

And the U.S. Air Force redeploying 200 troops. At least six planes from near Alaska's Mountain Redoubt Volcano which could erupt at any time. The airmen are being moved to a base in Washington state about 100 miles from the volcano.

Senator Tom Daschle says is he, "deeply embarrassed after failing to pay more than $120,000 in back taxes. President Obama's nominee to head Health and Human Services since he paid the debt calling the omissions, "unintentional."

Jim Acosta is live in Washington for us this morning. Could this derail Tom Daschle's nomination, Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It doesn't look like it Kiran but we do see Tom Daschle engaging in one of those old Washington traditions, the mea culpa. He sent a letter to the Senate Finance Committee apologizing for this issue, saying he is deeply embarrassed and disappointed. But this is another distraction for the new administration.

President Obama promised to usher in a new era of responsibility in government. Now two of his cabinet nominees have admitted they failed in their responsibility to pay their taxes.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM DASCHLE, HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES SECY. NOMINEE: Has anybody chosen not to see a doctor? Because you just didn't want to pay the bill?

ACOSTA (voice-over): During the presidential transition, the man tapped to fix the nation's health care system, Tom Daschle, was busy meeting with community groups to hear their medical issues but Daschle also spent some of that time quietly paying $140,000 in taxes and interest he owed to the IRS, something he did only after he was nominated as Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Republicans say Daschle, a former Senate majority leader who has made millions in the health care industry and whose wife is a Washington lobbyist should have known better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can now why liberals don't mind that the tax rate goes up because they're not going to pay it anyway.

ACOSTA: Daschle's mistake? He failed to report income in the form of a free car service provided by media executive Leo Henry. He also didn't pay taxes on consulting fees due to a reporting mistake made by Henry's company.

TIMOTHY GEITHNER, TREASURY SECRETARY: These were careless mistakes. They were avoidable mistakes, but they were unintentional.

ACOSTA: Just one day after President Obama was sworn in, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was on Capitol Hill admitting he had failed to pay tens of thousands of dollars in taxes. Geithner was confirmed. SEN. JOHN KYL (R), SENATE MINORITY WHIP: I just wonder if President Bush had nominated these people what the folks would be saying about that.

ACOSTA: During the campaign, Mr. Obama promised to reform Washington's ways.

PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES: Reform isn't just the rhetoric of a campaign. It's been one of the causes of my career.

ACOSTA: On his first full day in office, the president signed an executive order placing new ethics guidelines on his staff. Even democrats say Daschle's tax troubles fight that reform message.

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It, obviously, was not intentional, but it's also embarrassing and not helpful.

ACOSTA: Not helpful but perhaps not fatal.

TERRY JEFFREY, EDITOR "HUMAN EVENTS": Former Senate majority leader get confirmed by the Senate even when they forget to pay $128,000 in taxes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: And that's what they are saying in Washington. Daschle who is still waiting to be confirmed is scheduled to meet with the Senate Finance Committee later today behind closed doors.

And despite a tax issue that might have killed other nominations, leading Senate democrats say Daschle is very much alive. Kiran.

CHETRY: And that is just because he was the former Senate majority leader basically?

ACOSTA: Because he was a big cat in this town for quite a while, as you know, Kiran, and that has its form of currency in this town. Senate democrats right now even Ted Kennedy are saying that Tom Daschle is not in trouble at this point and they have a lot of votes to back that up. Senate republicans say, you know, they're not so sure at this point. They want to wait and see and there are other pressing questions. It's not just this tax issue. There were some trips that Tom Daschle made while he was working for some nonprofit groups and that is going to be looked at as well, Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Jim Acosta for us in Washington, thanks.

ACOSTA: You bet.

ROBERTS: Super Bowl Sunday is known for its snacks but after a night of hot wings, pizza, chips and the bacon belly bomb. The editor of "MEN'S FITNESS MAGAZINE" says President Obama's administration needs to do more to get Americans healthy starting with our kids.

The competition at the Super Bowl was fierce and that's just in the commercial breaks. Which ads worked and which ones were a waste of money? We'll have the play-by-play for you. 37 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Coming up now at 40 minutes after the hour. This just in to CNN. Another drop in consumer spending, this for the month of December. Christine Romans "minding your business" this morning. How bad was it?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was six months in a row and it was bad again. I mean, people, maybe not because people are being noble, John but because they can't, are not spending as much money and they are saving more.

Now their savings rate in December was 3.6 percent. Remember for years, we've had a negative savings rate or barely positive savings rate. People are starting to save a little bit money and they're spending less. One of the reasons is their income is going down.

This report from the Bureau of Economic of Analysis in the U.S. Department of Commerce shows that incomes are falling and savings is going up probably because people have to.

But the number for December was a little bit worse than expected? The expected 6.9 was actually one percent?

ROMANS: Yes. It was a little bit worse than expected. But again the trend is not something that is a surprise to us. We know that people are spending less because they have to. The problem for the economy as people spend less is this is what the biggest driver, personal spending is the biggest driver.

ROBERTS: Yes, we were talking about - Christie Hefner about it just a little while ago.

ROMANS: That's right. So just another number telling us what we have been telling you here every morning, that it's tough out there.

ROBERTS: Yes. Another number confirming what we already know.

ROMANS: Right. I can't wait until they turn around. I'm going to celebrate.

ROBERTS: Yes, thanks.

CHETRY: Thanks guys. You know, it's no secret President Obama is a fitness buff. He hits the gym or the basketball court even with his busy schedule. Even on inauguration day, the day that he won the nomination, he is working out at the gym. And it has inspired our next guest to issue a challenge to the next president. Get the rest of the country in shape, too?

In particular, America's children. "Men's Fitness" editor in chief Roy S. Johnson joins me now. Great to see you this morning.

ROY S. JOHNSON, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "MEN'S FITNESS FIRST": Thanks for having me. CHETRY: You wrote a sort of an open letter to Barack Obama saying I know that we have a lot of daunting challenges. We have the economy, we have two wars, we have a lot going on. But you're asking him to also pay attention to and find a way to help all of us stay fit?

JOHNSON: As you have mentioned, we've seen him walk the walk or at least lift the lift in his workouts. Now it's time for him to talk the talk in the White House. We certainly want him to continue to set a great example as a president and show the value of fitness.

But now it's time to lift it to the national agenda. And he can do that in several ways. One, I'd like him to host a fitness summit like the economic summit that he hosted prior to coming into office to discuss ways to revive, remember, the president's council on physical fitness? It really is sort of been languishing for several years? Let's figure out how to revive that and make it really valuable and then let's look at what we can take from the stimulus package and make our schools start to look at what they are serving our kids.

"The New York Times" published a survey several years ago that said, or last year, that 500 schools are already looking at transfats and the things that they are putting in the food in the cafeterias and maybe that is the way to begin to address obesity in our youth.

And also to look at reviving gym classes. When school systems got tight with cash a few years ago, the first thing they began to cut was gym classes.

CHETRY: Right.

JOHNSON: Let's make the kids start running around again because starting with the young people is the best way to get this going.

CHETRY: So let me ask you. This was so many other things on his plate. Why is it the president's job? Why isn't it the parent's job or the local school districts? I mean, is there more to be done in these local levels and into these individual households than to put it all on the president.

JOHNSON: There's no question as he mentioned in his inauguration address, we are in the era of accountability. So it is up to each and every one of us to take personal responsibility for ourselves and our health. But certainly our cities and our states can help us.

We, in our current issue, have the fittest cities in America and many of them have done a lot of things such as create more open space and do things to motivate people to get off the couch, get outside, participate in gym memberships and these are some of the things that will probably set an example on the national level can look and see some of the best practices around the country -

CHETRY: Right.

JOHNSON: And maybe have other cities replicate them as well.

CHETRY: And you also mentioned two interesting things. And these are some regulations that have sort of been languishing in -

JOHNSON: Sort of? They've been in the Congress two years!

CHETRY: All right. So they've been sitting around there a while like all of us on the couch, right? One of them though is to get incentives for people to be able to make healthy choices. This is a very interesting thing. You get regular checkups, you work out at the gym, you do things to stay healthy and you get some sort of monetary reward for it or at least a tax break?

JOHNSON: Absolutely. We've been hearing a lot about tax credits lately. So these bills provide a tax credit for the purchase of home gym equipment or maybe a membership in a gym. And yes, there has to be some accountability to prove you actually go to the gym but that is one way to address it. The other one and maybe more effective is to get a little bit of a credit to not to have to claim money that your employer reimburses you for gym memberships.

If you - we did a survey last year of the fittest companies in America and those companies that invested in their employees, not only were able to show that their health care costs went down but productivity went up. So these are bills that provide tax incentives for individuals and companies to invest in individuals and, to me, that's the greatest return you can have on an investment. That is to be healthier and fitter.

CHETRY: Maybe if we're all healthier, we can solve some of the other huge problems that we're facing as a nation, right?

JOHNSON: There are many of them. I mean, you have a gentleman who is out there now trying to live on food stamps. What if food stamps were valued double if you made healthy choices in the grocery store? And also, I'd like to see President Obama put a fitness czar, someone who would be an evangelist for educating and motivating America to get off the couch and get back in shape and live fitter, healthier lives.

CHETRY: I know Richard Simmons would love to do that but that's for another day.

JOHNSON: I don't think he would be my top choice.

CHETRY: Roy S. Johnson, editor in chief of "Men's Fitness" magazine. Thanks for coming out today.

JOHNSON: Thank you. Bye-bye.

CHETRY: Good to talk to you.

ROBERTS: Maybe if you want to make feet your main meal, you might.

A new city, a new home, a new job and since school, how is the first family dealing with life in the White House? And does the president like living with his mother-in-law? We'll find out. It's 45 1/2 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROBERTS: So moving to a new city and new job. Kids in their new school and a mother-in-law under the roof? The president also talking yesterday about how the first family is adjusting to life in the White House. Here is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: It's the best deal of this whole thing is it turns out I've got this nice home office and at the end of the day, yes, I can come home. Even if I've got more work to do, I can have dinner with them, I can help them with their homework, I can tuck them in. If I've got to go back to the office, I can. But I'm seeing them now more than any time in the last two years and that has been great for the whole family.

MATT LAUER, NBC HOST: Let me ask the question that is on everyone's mind right now. How is it going living with your mother-in-law?

OBAMA: Fortunately, I love my mother-in-law.

LAUER: I'm just asking. I'm not trying to start trouble.

OBAMA: No, she is actually - she defends me whenever I screw up. So Michelle, you know, she's about to come down hard, my mother-in-law comes in, intercedes, so -

LAUER: Everything copasetic.

OBAMA: The longer she stays the better off I'm going to be.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: Maybe they need to put her out there at the podium in the press room.

CHETRY: How about that, right? Exactly. She can step up to the plate any time. He is getting questions a little too hard by his wife or the media.

ROBERTS: It's great though that you know after the long arduous campaign and the tortuous road that he was out there in the dearth of time that he spends with his kids. He is an environment now that he can spend a lot of time with them.

CHETRY: Unplug a little bit, say good night and come back to work.

ROBERTS: For the moment until he starts traveling, then it will be difficult.

CHETRY: Exactly.

Well, still ahead, living with autism is a challenge not only for the hundreds of thousands of children diagnosed but also for their families struggling to care for them. Elizabeth Cohen takes a look at a new program dubbed Autism 911. It's 50 minutes after the hour. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back to the most news in the morning, dealing with teenagers is hard enough but what if the teen is also autistic? CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has the first in a three- part CNN exclusive series that we are calling "Autism 911." In today's report is on a unique new autism therapy program. Good morning, Elizabeth.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kiran. We are calling this series that because this is a program nanny 911. Many of us are familiar with it. Well here is a twist.

A counselor spends an entire week with a family whose child has autism and needs help. Our cameras were there the whole week. Let's see how it went.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COHEN (voice-over): Meet Marissa Billson. Like many 13-year-old girls she loves to play on the computer, junk food and shop, but in other ways, she's very different.

[ screaming ]

COHEN (voice-over): Marisa has autism, diagnosed when she was a toddler. She has fits like this every day. Several times a day. Do you think people who don't have a child with autism, do they get how tough it can be?

MARISSA BILLSON: I don't think so. No. It's not the same.

COHEN: To cope, the Billson family - Mary, John, 15-year-old Brittany and six-year-old Brennan basically lets Marisa do whatever she wants. Who runs the house?

MARY BILSON, MARISSA'S MOTHER: Marisa does because everything we do resolves is Marisa going to get upset? Yes.

COHEN: She gets to use the family's only computer for hours on end.

BILSON: Let's go cook.

MARISA: No!

COHEN: She's allowed to wonder around the house at will going into her siblings room and taking their stuff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to take those outside? And every night she drags luggage stuffed with toys outside as her parents try desperately to stop her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Marisa, get yourself out of the street.

COHEN: Taking her to a store becomes a public nightmare. Because she doesn't get the candy that she wants. BILSON: Come here.

(SCREAMING)

COHEN: Desperate to make changes, the Billsons invited the group autism partnership into their home to help determine if Marisa and their family can be saved. The program is similar to the popular TV show "Nanny 911."

It involves having a therapist spend a week in the Billson's home using one type of approach which focuses on modifying some of Marisa's worse behaviors.

The family is starting to realize that something needs to change, and that is very good. But as far as Marisa's behavior goes and the level that she is capable of going to, she's pretty out of control.

(SCREAMING)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COHEN: As you can see, this family and this counselor, they have a lot of work to do. And we should add that autism partnership is giving this service to the Billson family for free because we were there videotaping. Ordinarily, five days of this program, it costs $20,000. Kiran.

CHETRY: So pricey. Boy, you can just feel for them. Does health insurance cover any of that?

COHEN: Autism Partnership says that insurance does not cover this. That parents end up paying out of pocket. This is common. Insurance does pay for some autism services sometimes, but that coverage is often spotty. Parents often end up spending money to help their children.

CHETRY: All right. So we are going to check back in with the family and see if this worked?

COHEN: That's right. Part two, we're going to check back in with the family. And if you want to learn more, cnnhealth.com. We have more details about our week with the dolphins.

CHETRY: All right. Very interesting stuff. Elizabeth, thank you.

COHEN: Thanks.

ROBERTS: Just in to CNN. Barack Obama may be making his first decision as commander in chief to send troops into harm's way. We're going to take you live to the Pentagon where the news is just about starting to break about what the president's next move in Afghanistan may be. It's 56 minutes after the hour.

It's 56 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROBERTS: Just in to CNN. CNN is learning that President Obama could decide to send more troops into Afghanistan after he meets with defense secretary Robert Gates this afternoon. CNN's Barbara Starr is working her sources at the Pentagon and she is following it for us this morning. What do you got, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, John CNN has learned from military sources. In fact, President Barack Obama could make the first decision as commander in chief as soon as today about sending up to 15,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is scheduled to brief him this afternoon about the plan for 15,000 troops, two army units and a marine corps unit most likely.

The decision at the Pentagon has been to go ahead with all of this but we are told that Defense Secretary Gates wanted to be sure to take this across the river to the White House, to the new president. Two weeks into his administration. It could be his first major decision about sending troops into harm's way. John.

ROBERTS: Barbara, how soon could it happen?

STARR: Well, the decision could come at any moment. It will take some weeks to get the troops trained and ready to go, but make no mistake, Mr. Gates has said he wants those troops on the ground by the end of summer. The security situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating every day. John.

ROBERTS: Barbara Starr working her sources for us at the Pentagon this morning. Barbara, thanks so much, look forward to more reporting on that throughout the day. John.

And that's going to pretty much do it for us. Thanks for joining us on this AMERICAN MORNING. We'll see you back here again, bright and early tomorrow.

CHETRY: And you keep watching, right now, here is CNN NEWSROOM with Heidi Collins.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: 890 billion, that's your money but their plan. The Senate start its stimulus debate, what's in it for you.

Plus tarnish gold, Olympian Michael Phelps admit to his mistake after a pot smoking photo services. It's Monday, February 2nd, I'm Heidi Collins. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)