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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT

Daschle Withdraws; Is this Change?; Americans First?; Where is the Stimulus?

Aired February 3, 2009 - 19:00   ET

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


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Thank you, Wolf. Tonight a new blow to President Obama, Tom Daschle abruptly withdrawing as his nominee to be secretary of Health and Human Services, President Obama says he screwed up in the way he handled the controversy. That's what he told our Anderson Cooper. We'll have complete coverage of what was a very bad day indeed for the Obama administration.

And tonight, rising opposition to President Obama's $1 trillion borrowing and spending bill, masquerading as economic stimulus, but not so well. One of the country's leading economic thinkers joins us for what's next for this legislation.

And tonight, corporate America stepping up its fearmongering to block, if you can believe it, "buy American" provisions in that so- called stimulus package. Two congressmen who refuse to be intimidated by corporate elites are joining us here tonight. All of that, all the day's news and much more straight ahead right here.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Tuesday, February 3rd. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle today suddenly withdrew his nomination as President Obama's Health and Human Services secretary, Daschle stepping aside amid outrage over unpaid taxes and his work for a powerful lobbying firm. Separately, President Obama's nomination to be chief performance officer, also a cabinet level appointment, Nancy Killefer also withdrew her nomination citing unspecified tax problems. In an interview with our Anderson Cooper the president acknowledged he made a mistake in the way he's handled the controversy over Daschle.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think this was a mistake. I think I screwed up. And I take responsibility for it, and we're going to make sure we fix it so it doesn't happen again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: Well the president says he doesn't want to send any conflicting messages to the American people about the payment of taxes. Dan Lothian has our report from the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a stunning development, secretary of Health and Human Services nominee Tom Daschle bowed to mounting pressure over his tax problems, informing President Obama by phone that he was withdrawing because quote, "this work will require a leader who can operate with the full faith of Congress. Right now, I am not that leader, and will not be a distraction." Mr. Obama accepted that decision with quote, "sadness and regret", one day after saying this when he was asked if he still stood by Daschle.

OBAMA: Absolutely.

LOTHIAN: But the pressure was mounting on Capitol Hill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His explanation to me seems to have some holes in it.

LOTHIAN: Before paying up, Daschle had owed more than $100,000 in back taxes, some of that for a loaned car and driver. Tax problems, too, but apparently to a lesser extent for Nancy Killefer, Obama's pick for chief performance officer, the result, however, was the same. Killefer, who would have been charged with taking a fine tooth comb through the federal budget, also withdrew citing unemployment tax issues. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs suggested both nominees jumped but were not pushed.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think they both recognized that you can't set an example of responsibility but accept a different standard in who serves.

LOTHIAN: This was a day with the headline the White House wanted to see was Obama picks commerce secretary, Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire accepts.

OBAMA: Judd and I don't agree on every issue, but we do agree on the urgent need to get American businesses and families back on their feet.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LOTHIAN: Gregg is a fiscal conservative who, by the way, Lou, in 1995, he voted in favor of doing away with commerce, the very agency that he's now nominated to lead. But as you know, this is the second choice for the president for this position of commerce. We saw the governor of New Mexico withdraw early last month, because of some problems in his state, a federal investigation over a company that had done business in his state, so all kinds of questions being talked about, thrown around about the vetting process, although Robert Gibbs at the press briefing today saying that the president has confidence in the vetting process although in that interview you heard the president saying clearly he messed up or in his words "I screwed up" -- Lou.

DOBBS: A straightforward response from the White House. It is also a day of considerable irony, as you suggest, and that he has appointed a man and Senator Judd Gregg who would have destroyed the Department of Commerce just 13 years ago, but there's also sure to be a great attendant, some concern and some controversy here over Gregg, because he is also a wild-eyed free trader at any cost advocate. He also is a great support of CAFTA, of NAFTA and H-1B visas which is antithetical frankly to the position the president took during his campaign.

LOTHIAN: Clearly differences between what he believes and what the president believes. And I think that's why you heard the president say that he -- there are some big differences between Mr. Gregg and himself. He joked saying that the first big difference is that he didn't -- he wanted someone else for president, but it's much deeper than that.

But this president, you know, he has three Republicans currently in his cabinet. He's talked about this whole bipartisan effort reaching out to Republicans, wanting to have a diverse cabinet position, cabinet leaders, and so you know, clearly that's what's taking place there, but there are some big differences here between Mr. Gregg and the president.

DOBBS: As you suggest, President Obama is getting there. This just isn't the way he obviously intended to get there.

LOTHIAN: That's right.

DOBBS: Dan Lothian as always, thank you, sir.

LOTHIAN: OK.

DOBBS: President Obama tonight saying his administration must, as he put it, move forward with its agenda. But the controversy over Daschle and others has a number of people asking whether President Obama promised more change than he can deliver particularly on the issue of ethics reform, our Lisa Sylvester with the report. Lisa?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Lou, Tom Daschle who was tapped as Health and Human Services secretary and Nancy Killefer, as you mentioned, named White House chief performance officer, she would have been charged with scrubbing the federal budget. Now both of them withdraw their nominations, and as you said, it just wasn't a really good day for the Obama administration.

Tom Geithner who is now U.S. Treasury secretary was the only one of the three of those who were -- he was actually confirmed. But with all of this it makes you wonder you know just what is going on? Why are so many of Obama's picks now haunted by their tax returns? You know and after all, this was the administration that wanted to be known as being squeaky clean and remember this is not the first nominee that has had problems, that has been a headache for the White House.

Bill Richardson withdrew because of a federal investigation into a state contract involving one of his political donors and ever since then the Obama administration has really had to defend its process, its vetting process, but the conservative Heritage Foundation says that for most Americans looking at this entire situation that this is just not going to look good for the Obama administration, the White House. You have a treasury secretary who oversees the IRS who inadvertently didn't pay all of his taxes and the Health and Human Services nominee who has now withdrawn who owed $100,000 in back taxes for a essentially a chauffeur and a car. This is not something that many middle class families can relate to. Lou?

DOBBS: All right, Lisa, thank you very much -- a major, major problem for the Obama administration.

Well new Attorney General Eric Holder today was sworn in at the U.S. Justice Department a day after being confirmed by the Senate. Holder is the first African-American to be named attorney general. He promised a clean break for the policies of the Bush administration and did not offer in his remarks any further position on the Second Amendment, Eric Holder obviously creating some considerable controversy with his opposition to the rights of gun owners in this country.

President Obama today made another appeal to the Congress to quickly pass that $1 trillion borrowing and spending bill, disguised as stimulus legislation. Senate Republicans however now say they are in no hurry. They blocked today a Democratic effort that would have added $25 billion in infrastructure spending. Senate minority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell says the stimulus legislation is simply out of control.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: We need to sober up here and take a look at what we're doing. Everybody agrees that there ought to be a stimulus package. The question is, how big, and what do we spend it on? The House bill is an embarrassment. The Senate bill on the floor is not markedly better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: The president, however, appears to be running out of patience, saying this is no time to become, as he put it, trapped in the same old partisan gridlock.

Still ahead, hundreds of thousands of people are without power tonight after huge ice storms. Where is the federal government? Where is the national media on this story? We'll be telling you.

Also, another outrageous example of corporate excess at a bank that's receiving billions upon billions of dollars of taxpayer money, refusing to help homeowners and by the way, what stays in Vegas doesn't -- well, anyway we'll get back to that in a minute.

Rising concern that President Obama's choice for commerce secretary will put the interests of corporate America ahead of the interests of working men and women and their families. We've heard that story before, haven't we? Is that change we can believe in? That special report is up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: Half a million people in the Southeast remain without power tonight, one week after a powerful ice storm swept through the area, Kentucky, one of the hardest hit states, 24 people there have been killed. State officials say power is slowly being restored to about 220,000 customers.

Electric company officials estimate now it could take another seven to 10 days in order to restore service to hundreds of thousands of our fellow Americans. Tennessee state officials say about 280,000 customers in the state remain without power there as well.

Another example of outrageous behavior by banks bailed out with your tax dollars, Wells Fargo, which received $25 billion in taxpayer bailout, is planning a series of corporate junkets to Las Vegas next month. This comes as Wells Fargo is foreclosing on the mortgage of Andrea Guice and thousands of other homeowners.

As we reported to you last week, Guice put $40,000 down on $147,000 home, and she still ended up with a sub-prime mortgage that is held now by Wells Fargo and Wells Fargo has refused to offer this woman assistance. She's one of several homeowners now exercising their squatter's rights in their own homes in Toledo as advised by their congresswoman, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur.

Wells Fargo one of the top lenders in the sub prime mortgage market at the center of this housing crisis, and sufficiently arrogant to say they won't deal with individual cases, if you can believe that. We'll continue to follow up on this story.

General Motors, one of the carmakers who received a taxpayer bailout is now offering buyouts to all of its hourly workers. General Motors will give 62,000 of its workers $20,000 and a voucher for the purchase of a GM car worth $25,000, if only they will retire early. That news comes as car sales have fallen to the lowest levels since 1982, Chrysler sales plunging 55 percent in January, GM sales plunging 49 percent, sales down 40 percent at Ford, Toyota reporting a 32 percent decline in its sales last month.

There's rising opposition tonight to the president's choice to head up the Commerce Department. As a senator, Judd Gregg was a strong proponent and supporter of free trade at any costs, a proponent to bringing in more cheap foreign labor to compete with middle class workers in this country. Bill Tucker now reports on what the choice for commerce secretary may mean for American workers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Senator Judd Gregg is a controversial pick to lead the Commerce Department. Groups who believed President Obama would usher in a new trading policy are bitterly disappointed. Global Trade Watch responded saying quote, "Senator Gregg as commerce secretary certainly is not the change we can believe in." The U.S. Business and Industry Council representing 1,850 small and medium-sized businesses calls the appointment baffling. ALAN TONELSON, U.S. BUSINESS & INDUSTRY COUNCIL: He is a free trade purist. Judd Gregg has never, ever met an outsourcing focus trade agreement that he hasn't loved. He's voted for all of them enthusiastically.

TUCKER: Our trade deficit through the end of November of last year $630 billion. Other groups are disturbed at Gregg's staunch support of more guest workers. In 2000 he voted to raise the cap on H-1B visas. Then in 2007 he authored legislation that would have more than doubled the size of the H-1B visa program to 150,000. Gregg is also a strong proponent of outsourcing and in the opinion of many worker activists it would be a serious mistake to ignore his stance on those issues.

RON HIRA, ROCHESTER INST. OF TECHNOLOGY: Commerce plays a very important role in all of these kinds of issues and is a big voice representing big business within the administration.

TUCKER: Gregg's trade and outsourcing views appear contrary to statements by President Obama, but Gregg's appointment is consistent with others made by the president. Ron Kirk, the trade representative and the president's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, are strong NAFTA supporters as is Larry Summers who leads the president's National Economic Council and Economic Council member Diana Farrell is an outspoken proponent of outsourcing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCKER: It would be interesting to learn what President Obama meant this morning when he introduced Judd Gregg as his commerce secretary nominee by saying they have disagreements, because, Lou, it would appear that on many, many issues, in fact, Senator Judd Gregg is in alignment with President Obama and certainly his administrative picks so far.

DOBBS: Well this may be what we're going to see from the Obama administration. That's a shame, because it's intellectual dishonesty. It is absolute arrogance to continue to repeat the policies of the past. Larry Summers, all of these folks very capable people, that are absolutely part of the Rubin legacy.

It's devastating what's happening here. The millions of people, working men and women who worked and supported and voted for Barack Obama for change in the direction of trade policies have to be extraordinarily disappointed, but fundamentally, if there is no change on the part of our elected officials, on the top policy choices, on free trade, on outsourcing, and focusing on manufacturing, how to incentivize it and how to build our middle class, rather than destroy it, this administration will be remembered for something besides change and a disbelief in the change they brought, but rather the legacy will be further destruction of this economy, and that is intolerable to all of us. Bill Tucker, thank you very much.

Well coming up here next, lobbyist links and tax dodges, is this the change we were promised? I'll be joined by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Cay Johnston and how fast will $9 billion and high speed Internet spending create jobs? Oh you're going to love this, all part of that stimulus stuff. That's next in "Lou's Line-Item Veto". Check your blood pressure because it just gets worse and worse, folks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The price tag for the Senate's version of the economic stimulus bill is now about $900 billion. As you know, we're examining where those hundreds of billions of dollars are intended to go and how many jobs would actually be created in our special feature, "Lou's Line-Item Veto". Tonight we focus on the Senate's allocation of some $9 billion to extend high speed Internet service. Just how fast would that money stimulate our economy? How many jobs would it really create -- Ines Ferre with our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

INES FERRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Part of the Senate stimulus bill includes expanding broadband across the United States, $9 billion for what's called a Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, much of it for rural areas. Introducing his new pick for commerce secretary today, President Obama said the stimulus was about modernizing America for the new century.

OBAMA: It makes critical investments in our future in energy and education, health care and a 21st century infrastructure.

FERRE: On both sides of the aisle, there is support for extending broadband access to rural areas, The U.S. ranks 15th in the world for broadband penetration, but should it be in the stimulus bill? Senator John McCain says it will take too long to have an effect. Some industry analysts say higher connectivity would eventually stimulate the economy by helping businesses, schools and hospitals, but today's faster, cheaper technologies like wireless don't create as many jobs as ones like fiber (ph).

PORTER BIBB, MEDIATECH CAPITAL PARTNERS: The number of jobs that broadband stimulus is meant to create is highly debatable. The administration has the benefit of, as I said, at least a dozen very serious, very thoughtful, very sophisticated proposals on how to create a broadband nation. They've picked and chosen and cherry- picked from all of these proposals and put together an omnibus bill that maybe is a colossal boondoggle.

FERRE: Critics warn that only states and local communities can know where the funding is best spent.

CRAIG SETTLES, BROADBAND IND. ANALYST: If you try to identify say a national approach to roll this out, maybe through one or two large vendors, I think you go directly against the idea of immediately stimulating the economy.

FERRE: The Congressional Budget Office says it will take the National Telecommunications and Information Administration seven years to spend the $9 billion. Their current 2009 funding is just $17 million. (END VIDEOTAPE)

FERRE: And the provision states that all of the money must be awarded no later than September 30th, 2010 and requires the NTIA to ensure that projects will be substantially completed within two years following an award. Lou?

DOBBS: It's a mess, and that's what we're finding in instance after instance throughout this stimulus package. It truly is a haphazard collection of almost at some points whimsical elements that have been combined into something the administration and the Democratic leadership want to call a stimulus package.

FERRE: Well there's a lot of concern about how this money will be awarded, which funds should be awarded and how you're going to put all of this together and some groups are saying this is -- this would cost more than nine billion actually.

DOBBS: Well if it's a government program, we shouldn't be surprised at that, should we? And look at this, if you could see this pile of paper in front of me on the desk here, and I'm sure you can, because I'm sure our director will pull out to reveal that. It is remarkable. I mean, this is an aggregation -- it's about $2 billion a page, and as they say, the devil is in the detail and $2 billion is a lot of devil on each page and there's not much real exacting, thinking that's gone into this. Thank you very much, Ines Ferre, we appreciate it.

Well in our ongoing examination of this massive spending bill and borrowing bill, this is what we've reported to you so far. Four hundred million dollars in climate change research; we continue to question just how many jobs that would create in a short amount of time. Six hundred million dollars would go to energy-efficient so- called government cars, but as Congressman James Sensenbrenner pointed out, many Americans are keeping their older cars.

Why shouldn't the government do the same? The House version is also extremely generous to our national parks, providing an almost -- almost an entire year's budget with an additional $2 billion of economic stimulus money; the Senate plan offers only 800 million and we still don't know how in the world that would provide economic stimulus and there is no suggestion as to how many jobs it would create.

Also there are areas of the economy that seem to have been absolutely short-changed, $66 billion in infrastructure spending in what is almost a $900 billion piece of legislation, the construction industry expected to lose well more than a million jobs this year, an obvious candidate for more money and stimulus funds since the money is after all supposed to create jobs.

And small business, which is responsible for the creation of about 80 percent of the jobs in this country, receiving less than $1 billion in this massive legislation, while creating 80 percent of the jobs. What's going on here? That is the question we continue to ask each and every night, and we will continue to do so. There is some good news, some of the provisions that clearly had little job creation and stimulus potential have been dropped, that $200 million National Mall Revitalization Fund or the sod program, it dropped out. The provision that was taken out after a meeting between Rahm Emanuel, the chief of staff at the White House and Republican leaders, the widely criticized $200 million in contraceptive funding.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called that economic policy, the policy and the contraception approach dropped from their legislation. Well we've also found some more interesting funding in this bill. There's more than $4 billion for so-called -- are you ready -- neighborhood stabilization activities, $4 billion, which translates into funding for so-called advocacy groups, such as ACORN, ACORN, the left-wing advocacy group.

That organization and its voter registration drives are under investigation in more than a dozen states, ACORN a major supporter, of course, of President Obama in the last election. Well we hope you will consider calling and e-mailing your elected representatives, senators and congressmen, let them know how you think about this so- called legislation. Go to our Web site, loudobbs.com, where all of the contract -- contact information for you, e-mail addresses and phone numbers are located.

And please join us here tomorrow. We'll be reporting on the Senate's proposed $14 billion on this massive bill for energy efficiency programs, so-called. How many jobs will that create? How fast will that money move into our economy? You won't like the answers, but we're going to have them nonetheless tomorrow on "Lou's Line-Item Veto".

Up next, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says buying American is un- American, really? Two congressmen who strongly disagree with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, they might as well get rid of that U.S. thing. We'll just call them the Chamber. They'll be with us.

And Tom Daschle joining a growing list of former nominees to the president's cabinet -- whatever happened to that change we can believe in? That and much more straight ahead, stay with us. We're coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: President Obama tonight facing new, tough questions about his ability to bring change to Washington, two more of his nominees for a cabinet jobs, Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer, withdrawing their names because of tax problems following ethics questions, other nominees including Tim Geithner, deputy defense secretary nominee William Lynn given a waiver, as far as former investigation former secretary nominee Governor Bill Richardson. The president's huge borrowing spending bill facing rising opposition in the senate. Joining me Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, author of the best selling book "Free Lunch" David Cay Johnston, good to see you again.

You know, what is your reaction to the withdrawal of Killefer and Daschle today? DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AUTHOR, "FREE LUNCH": Well, I think they were harming Obama's high road position. I don't think the tax problems per se should keep them out, as long as they pay the taxes, the interest, and the penalties, even if the penalties aren't assessed as a matter of honor they should pay them but clearly they were taking away the high road, where he was trying to say we're different.

DOBBS: Geithner got through, as we know, when people didn't know the extent but I say that I see here that you have run your own little experiment on Turbo Tax, which apparently he used. What did you find out?

JOHNSTON: I don't believe Geithner's testimony. I think he took affirmative steps to cheat. He says his staff says he did the Turbo Tax in an unusual way and wasn't alerted so I suggested as treasury secretary he should write a letter to all of the tax software companies asking them to look for mistakes. What I'd really like to see, Lou, is that his bad behavior become the forum for him helping us get a better tax system, just the way Joe Kennedy, the old stock manipulator, helped get us a good S.E.C., he should announce we'll start the intellectual work to get a fair, simple, honest tax system for everybody

DOBBS: There's change I can believe in. What do you think the odds are?

JOHNSTON: I don't know. I wrote in my column in tax notes about that this week. We once had a sitting Supreme Court justice who was jailed, the public survived that. We can survive Mr. Geithner's cheating the system but we need to be focused on getting a better tax system, a 21st century tax system. That's going to take years of intellectual work.

DOBBS: That would be nice to get a 21st century appointment to treasury secretary who wasn't just another toady for the U.S. chamber of commerce and the free trade, free market at any cost set, the acolytes of Bob Ruben. What do you think the odds are of that?

JOHNSTON: Well, he is a Bob Ruben acolyte. That's a real problem. For some reason Obama believes this is the guy who will navigate through this awful mess we have in finance. Only time will tell here but I think that we're going to quickly see whether they've come up with the right plan.

DOBBS: Wells Fargo, we brought the story a woman who put $40,000 on her house, absolutely victim of predatorial lending practices, subprime mortgage in Toledo. Wells Fargo holds that loan today, going on junkets to Las Vegas, they've taken $25 billion in taxpayer money to stay float and they won't deal with her case individually, as they put it, I think rather arrogantly. What's your reaction to this?

JOHNSTON: Well, I think the banks here, like Wall Street, are unbelievably tone deaf. This is -- when you get a congressman and now you, Lou, saying do something about it, if the PR people aren't telling the CEO to fix this, I suggest they need to fire the PR people. This is not a problem just for this woman. We need a systematic address of these problems and the banks have got to start recognizing they helped create this and they've got to work on solving it, not just you and I as taxpayers

DOBBS: Absolutely. David, thanks very much, as always, David Cay Johnston we appreciate it.

We'd like to know what you think about this. Our poll question tonight is do you think Democratic officials would still support higher taxes if they were actually paying those taxes? Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll have the results later in the broadcast. We're having a little fun tonight, I admit that.

Coming up, buying American, this part isn't fun. It's being attacked as un-American by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Two lawmakers who are going to be here to tell us about their efforts to make certain that the taxpayer money going into the stimulus package actually goes to American companies for American jobs.

And two of the president's choices to top white house positions have dropped out, three of the country's best radio talk show hosts join me here next.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Joining me now, three of the country's best radio talk show hosts; from San Diego, where we're simulcasting I understand it on Roger Hedgecock's show, KOGO, good to have you with us.

ROGER HEDGECOCK, KOGO IN SAN DIEGO: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: In Chicago, Steve Cochran simulcasting as well on WGN.

STEVE COCHRAN, WGN IN CHICAGO: Yes, sir.

DOBBS: Good to see you.

In Washington D.C., Sirius XM's Joe Madison, like me, doing one thing at a time.

JOE MADISON, SIRIUS XM RADIO: Not multitasking, right.

DOBBS: Let me start with you, Roger. The "New York Times," of all people, calling for Daschle's resignation, just another -- -- the "New York Times," imagine this, Roger, the house organ for the Democratic party and liberals, "Mr. Daschle is another in a long line of politicians who move between government and industry. Mr. Daschle could clear the atmosphere by withdrawing his name." Are you surprised?

HEDGECOCK: No, I'm not. It came down to a situation where the American public realized the Democrats who always want to raise taxes on people didn't want to particularly pay the taxes on people. Daschle had an excuse that sounded like he was either a moron or he was completely lying about what -- you don't get a car and a driver and say hey, that's my good friend and then try to get the good friend a federal job. All that just unraveled in about 24 hours and the "New York Times" was simply giving him the order, you better withdraw.

DOBBS: President Obama said as we all know he wants to stop the revolving today. Today that revolving door slammed, Steve Cochran, on two of his folks. What do you think?

COCHRAN: One of my concerns is that somewhere tonight and probably near Larry King right now Rod Blagojevich is trying to call the white house because he heard there's an opening. You know, as you go through the vetting form there are 60 or 70 questions. Let's put an extra question at the end, "is there anything else you hope we don't find out?" Let's see how many people step up. There's an honesty and an honor component to this, which somebody needs to have, but I think the president's right, he has to have a cabinet that pays their taxes, and Daschle has -- not to mention the lobbying thing, which not a lot of us have been talking about.

DOBBS: Joe Madison, I mean, President Obama today did something that was all to me just shocking, he admitted to Anderson Cooper that he screwed up. When answer the last time we heard a president say "I screwed up?"

MADISON: I'm glad he admitted it. I was going to say one thing I disagree with and they ought to keep Guantanamo Bay open, for tax cheaters, for the CEOs who buy jet planes for the Wells Fargo people, that's where they ought to be. As a matter of fact, this morning, I spent about two hours talking about joining this mortgage holiday, and I'm really going to start pushing this, where -- and this is what I'm suggesting, we do not pay our mortgage as part of the stimulus package, for one full year, one full year, just have a mortgage holiday, and then tack it on at the end of a 30-year mortgage or is a15-year mortgage and let these banks who don't want to lend deal with that.

DOBBS: Well, you know, it's an interesting idea, and the idea that people just take a unilateral holiday, but Roger, Joe is getting to a point, I think it's extraordinarily significant. Once the federal government pushed $8 trillion out to bail out the wealthiest Americans on Wall Street, to save those companies, there's -- and eliminated moral hazard for AIG and a host of other companies, there is no moral basis to deny any American relief from the federal government, is there?

HEDGECOCK: No, there's not, because here we've got a basically repeal of equal justice under law.

DOBBS: Right.

HEDGECOCK: Once you assign the idea that somebody's too big to fail, then you have an idea that some people are above the law, they're beyond the rules. That just can't be America. We've got to apply the same rules to everybody, and I think this idea that we're going to bail out some people and not others doesn't make sense. It also doesn't make any sense to Americans to bail out big institutions that are too big to fail and fail to take care of our small business folks, our individuals, people struggling in their homes. I'm with Joe Madison, we need some help.

MADISON: I would also, sorry, I was going to say I would also add that I hope the president doesn't make the mistake by getting rid of what is it, the e-verification. This money --

DOBBS: They already decided that. This administration, the Democratic leadership are determined to kill e-verify because it's 99% effective.

MADISON: These are nothing more --

DOBBS: I mean this is --

MADISON: That's a mistake.

COCHRAN: Joe is right. This stimulus package needs to be about creating jobs and helping regular folks, and you know, we've been blowing a gasket the last day or so about Bank of America sponsoring the Super Bowl and the fan zone there. I couldn't care less. Here's what I'd like. Recall the first half of the money from the banks who decided to sit on it or pay for things they shouldn't be paying for. Just the threat of going back and grabbing the money, and by the way, every legislator who tells you we can't do that, the money's already gone, really? Is it? Don't you guys make the laws? I'll give you a ride. Let's drive to New York, let's go get the money and let's get it out and start lending it out to folks. Somehow that threat alone would loosen up a lot of this cash.

DOBBS: There's one of the problems. A year and a half ago I started calling for a trickle-up approach to economics, that is to start bailing out those being foreclosed upon, those who are getting crushed in this ridiculous meltdown in the so-called credit crisis. This is far more than that. This is a revolution that's taking place in capital, and when it goes and continues to go, flows directly to wall street, to Hank Paulson's buddies, it's time for people to say enough. I'm not ready to join you, Joe, and say that we should just unilaterally, because we're first and foremost a nation of laws but if this --

MADISON: No, I mean I want to make it legal.

DOBBS: Excuse me, Joe, if this country doesn't wake up and I mean every man and woman in this country working for a living and say, this stops now, then we're going to lose this great republic in my opinion.

MADISON: I would just want to make one caveat. I want this to be legal, Lou. I want this to be part of the economic stimulus package, and I like the word trickle up. I think we're both old enough to remember our mothers' percolator, the old percolating coffee. You have to warm the bottom and that's what brings it to the top. What I'm talking about --

DOBBS: I want us all to warm some bottoms and they're all in Washington, D.C.

COCHRAN: Nor Chicago, I'm for more warm bottoms.

DOBBS: Roger, thank you very much, Steve, Joe, thank you all, appreciate it.

MADISON: Thank you, Lou.

COCHRAN: Thanks, Lou.

DOBBS: Coming up next the U.S. Chamber of Commerce campaigns to block buy American. That's right they still call themselves the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. We'll talk with two congressmen leading an important fight against that kind of thinking. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as it calls itself, is waging an outright campaign of fear trying to block "Buy American" provisions in that so-called stimulus bill. Joining me now, two lawmakers leading a very important fight, trying to assure those buy American provisions are kept in the legislation. Congressman Dan Lipinski, Democrat of Illinois joins us, along with Congressman Don Manzullo, Republican, also of Illinois. Gentlemen, good to have you here.

What is the effect of the buy American provision that you've put forward?

REP. DAN LIPINSKI (D), ILLINOIS: Well, in the bill last week in the House, I wanted the Rules Committee to put a really strong buy American provision into the bill to bring it to the floor in amendment so that representatives would have a chance to vote on it, and unfortunately, that was not allowed by the leadership. Fortunately, the Senate has put some language in, but I'm not convinced that it's strong enough, and there's always a chance that it can be taken out.

REP. DON MANZULLO (R), ILLINOIS: I would be satisfied with enforcement of the present buy American laws. And what Congressman Lipinski and I are trying to do is to impose transparency, to give the American companies an opportunity to bid, to get the procurement officers on their toes to realize that they have to follow these buy American laws that are already on the books.

DOBBS: The Chamber of Commerce has written a letter to the congressional leadership, which has already disavowed your efforts, Speaker Pelosi naturally calling it, quote, "trade restrictive." They say -- and I'd like to show this for all of our viewers, quote, "Without sales abroad and access to inputs, many U.S. workers would be out of a job," and now I think the Chamber of Commerce, gentlemen - well, rather than tell you what I think of them, you tell me what you think of that organization?

LIPINSKI: Well, the chamber certainly doesn't do what is best for middle-class Americans and American workers. We all know what their real purpose is, to help the multinational corporations. It is sad to see that they have as much influence - and we have seen editorials and newspapers, the elites really do not like this buy American provision. But I tell you, in my district, 90 percent of the people say "I don't understand why it would not be there."

DOBBS: Congressman Manzullo, your reaction to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce?

MANZULLO: I don't think they really understand what we are trying to do. Let me give you an example.

DOBBS: Sure, Congressman, Congressman, sure they do. They have been around. They bought a president for eight years, for crying out loud. They know what they're doing.

MANZULLO: When I chaired the Small Business Committee, I found out that the Army was violating U.S. law by buying berets for American soldiers from China. We held a hearing. We stopped that. That is the type of things that I want to see stopped. If we just enforce the present buy American laws that are on the books...

DOBBS: But how can -- what kind of...

(CROSSTALK)

DOBBS: What does it say, gentlemen, what does it say about this country? If an organization that calls itself the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is opposed to the manufacturing of American products? Is opposed to putting money, stimulus money in the pockets of American workers and American businesses, particularly small business, which generates 80 percent of the jobs? What kind of -- what in the world is going on in this country? Are we that far gone, Congressman?

LIPINSKI: I really think that for much too long, we have seen the middle class under assault in this country because the laws have been made to help the multinational corporations. The American people, it is time that they stood up. In this stimulus, we need to have strong buy American provisions. That's why Representative Manzullo and myself are sending a letter getting signatures. If you want to call your representative, please do that. Send a letter to Barack Obama who -- his press secretary said...

DOBBS: How about Nancy Pelosi for crying out loud? She doesn't apparently know what country she is in.

MANZULLO: Lou, I have voted for every free trade agreement. I have been here - this is the beginning of my ninth term...

DOBBS: You and I are not going to get along well, Congressman, telling me that.

MANZULLO: Just a second. Dan Lipinski has voted against every free trade agreement. What we are saying here is that at the minimum; at least let's enforce the present buy American laws that are on the books. Let's -- let's encourage the procurement officers at the state, local and federal level to buy American.

DOBBS: Congressman, I have known you a long time. Can I raise my hand and just ask this? Can we move past the minimums in this country and start talking about the right thing to do, the intelligent, responsible thing to do, and start putting the country -- you have the guts to go out and put that buy American provision forward. Let's have the guts together to make it stick and mean something. What do you think of that?

MANZULLO: That's what we did. We have done that several times. For example, it's federal law that when the Defense Department buys titanium, it has to be U.S. We stopped the importation of a lot of Russian titanium just by enforcing the laws that are on the books.

DOBBS: Well, you left U.S. in Chamber of Commerce, didn't you?

MANZULLO: Well, I don't, you know...

DOBBS: Don Manzullo, thank you for being with us. It's a joke.

(CROSSTALK)

DOBBS: It's a joke, Congressman. It's a bad joke, perhaps, but a joke. We appreciate it. Congressman Lipinski, we wish you both well. And applaud your efforts, gentlemen. Thank you.

At the top of the hour, Campbell Brown, "NO BIAS, NO BULL."

Campbell, what are you working on?

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Lou, we are going to hear much more of President Obama's mea culpa. He is admitting that he "screwed up" when it came to backing high profile nominees that failed to pay their taxes. Two nominees withdrew from consideration today. We will hear from the president himself as he tries to refocus attention back on his plans to fix the economy.

And also ahead my interview with one of the most controversial members of the Bush administration. Former attorney general Alberto Gonzalez has come under scathing criticism for his leadership at the justice department. He is going to defend his record. Also at the top of the hour, Lou.

DOBBS: All right. Thank you very much, Campbell.

And a reminder to join me on the radio Monday through Friday for the Lou Dobbs Show. Tomorrow, Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan joins me. We'll be talking about free trade and we'll be talking about the buy American provisions in an effort to keep American jobs vital and here at home.

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur will be joining me to talk about her push for squatter rights for those being foreclosed upon. Go to loudobssradio.com to get the local listings for the Lou Dobbs Show in your area. And you can listen to me, Monday through Friday on San Francisco's talk 910 a.m., KNEW.

Up next here, the results of tonight's poll. Some of your thoughts. We're coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: Tonight's poll results, 88% of you say Democratic officials would not support higher taxes if they were to actually pay them. That's our little humor tonight. We appreciate you going along with it. You are good sports.

Time for some of your thoughts.

Mark in Texas said, "Lou and crew, thank you for your enduring commitment to report on the truth. And for your new efforts to remind us to get involved to contact our government officials and stop being an ostrich society."

And Bob in New Jersey said, "Considering all the recently announced job cuts, let's all stand up and insist that the H-1B Visa Program be suspended! The job you save may be your own." And imagine this. Why aren't our elected officials talking about doing that? It is inconceivable that logic absolutely eludes these elected officials. Do you suppose there is overwhelming corporate influence at work here?

And Judi in South Carolina said, "This is a great country and we will survive. It is time that our new president and our senators and house members start saying that. I am ready for a positive outlook instead of daily doom and gloom. I am proud of my country and they need to start showing it too." We stay positive for here for that reason.

Terry in Illinois, "Lou, how come when Al Capone and other criminals don't pay their taxes it's called income tax evasion and when politicians do the same, it's called an honest mistake? Change. What change?"

Send us your thoughts to loudobbs.com. We'd love to hear from you.

Thank you for being with us tonight. Join us tomorrow. Good night from New York.

Campbell Brown "NO BIAS, NO BULL" starting right now.

Campbell?