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Senate Continues Debate on Stimulus Package; Vice President Biden Takes His First Trip Overseas; Mayoral Roundtable on the Economic Stimulus Package; USA Swimming Suspends Michael Phelps; Dozens of Children Poisoned in Nigeria

Aired February 7, 2009 - 08:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hey there, everybody. From the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING. Eight o'clock here on the east coast, 5:00 o'clock out west. I'm T.J. Holmes.

MELISSA LONG, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Melissa Long, in today for Betty. Thanks for starting your weekend, starting your Saturday with us.

HOLMES: We will start with this video we are just getting in to us and to our news room here. This is a massive fire. This is burning in Australia. And people are being warned there to brace yourself. Already 14 people have been killed. 30,000 acres are burning. Again, Australian officials are asking residents there to prepare for the worst as these fires spread, and they are out of control.

LONG: So many people forced to work through the weekend. Our lawmakers are working through the weekend as well in order to help jump-start the U.S. economy. Coming up about four hours from now, the Senate will start debating once again that late-night compromise they worked on yesterday. It was reached on the massive stimulus bill. What is in this bill? Will it help re-create jobs? Will it put money in your pocket? We are taking it apart for you this morning.

HOLMES: We've been watching a lot of people up in Washington debate about it, but a lot of those guys and ladies as well, those are mayors and their cities are hurting right now and they have a lot at stake with this stimulus bill. They were at the White House this week. Now they're going to be here in the CNN news room this hour talking to us. We'll hear what they want, what they need, how soon they need it. That's coming up in about half hour.

LONG: And dozens of children poisoned in Nigeria. Their medication has fluid found in cars? What was it and how could this happen?

HOLMES: But up first here we're talking about that Senate debate, a Saturday debate, as the sun begins to shine in Washington, D.C. this morning. Senators will resume their debate expecting to happen in about four hours, around noontime Eastern. They're going to be debating that critical economic stimulus package.

They worked pretty late into the night, wrapped up around midnight last night. A coalition of Democrats and a handful or maybe I should just say a pocketful of Republicans, about three, reached a compromise. Earlier yesterday, they trimmed billions from that original package. They actually trimmed about $110 billion from it. The debate expected to happen today, also tomorrow, go into Monday and the Senate could possibly vote on Tuesday.

LONG: Vice President Joe Biden asking for help from America's allies. Biden's appearing at a security summit in Munich, Germany right now. He's trying to build support for U.S. efforts in areas like Afghanistan. It is his first overseas trip as vice president.

HOLMES: All right, they debate it, they agree. There's a compromised bill. So that means we have a deal. Not quite. Hey -- just seeing if you're paying attention. We are getting close to a bill we do believe. The Senate is going into overtime a little later today, as I mentioned a moment ago, holding a rare Saturday session to work on a deal. They worked late into the night. Senators from both sides of the aisle got together on a possible compromise.

Again, this is a possible compromise deal that still needs to be voted on in the full Senate. Here's some of what is in some of this bill that we've been talking about now, $87 billion in temporary and targeted Medicaid relief for the state, also more than $76 billion in education investment, another $43 billion in transportation and infrastructure. Also on the table, more than $6 billion for water and sewer projects, $5 billion for public housing grants, also $3 billion for job training.

Exactly what's at stake? You've been hearing about is certainly for a while, that everything is at stake right now, but new job loss numbers are out, came out for us on Friday painting an even bleaker picture than we've been seeing. This is a taste of this hard to swallow developing story, unemployment now at 7.6 percent. That's the highest rate we've seen in 16 years, the number of job losses, the largest we've seen since 1974, yes, some 35 years ago. Much more on the stimulus and the high stakes throughout this hour.

We do want to start in Washington, D.C. though. Our congressional correspondent Brianna Keilar keeping an eye on things on Capitol Hill and there are a lot of things to keep an eye on there, also our Elaine Quijano is at the White House. We want to start with Brianna.

Brianna, we talked about this deal. You can call it bipartisan if you want to, if all Democrats and three Republicans is bipartisan, but still, it's something.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a deal I guess you could say T.J. The deal is done. The vote is not done. The Senate coming to agreement late last night on a -- a bipartisan agreement in that you have Democrats onboard with a few Republicans.

This came, though, after days of meetings of hashing out ways to cut back this spending bill and tax cut bill that had ballooned to over $900 billion, meetings that were spearheaded by Democrats and Republicans, Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine, and Ben Nelson, a conservative Democrat from Nebraska and here's what they said last night after news of this compromise broke.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: The American people don't want to see partisan gridlock. They don't want to see us divided and fighting. They want to see us working together to solve the most important crisis facing our country. That is what we have done. That is why we have presented this compromise.

SEN. BEN NELSON (D), NEBRASKA: If we asked taxpayers to support it, as we are, they deserve to get the biggest bang for their buck. The remaining plan will generate new jobs, save jobs and expand job opportunities all across America, as it also boosts our economy. We recognize that our plan isn't perfect, but I believe it's both responsible and realistic.


KEILAR: And in order to get that man, Ben Nelson, onboard -- we should also say, it says he's a Republican from Nebraska. He is a Democrat from Nebraska. In order to get him onboard, because he had reservations as did some of these Republicans, Democrats had to give up certain thing, for instance, $16 billion in school construction, $7.5 billion in education grants, $122 million -- million, that is, going to Coast Guard ice-breaking vessels.

But those first two things I mentioned, the education things the Democrats had to give up, that was a bitter pill for them to swallow but in the end, they did this T.J. so they could whittle down the package to in the end $827 billion, not far from what the House passed and get those votes they needed for that 60-vote threshold.

HOLMES: And it's kind of quiet in there right now. But are people starting to stir? The debate's not supposed to happen until noon?

KEILAR: There's no one here yet.

HOLMES: OK. Just you, it's certainly hollow right now in those halls. We appreciate you keeping an eye on the floors and everything around for us right now. We'll talk to you again. Brianna Keilar, thank you so much.

Let's head over to the White House where something's always stirring. Elaine Quijano is there for us this morning. Elaine, tell us, the president wanted bipartisan support. He got zero votes in the House. Looks like he might get two, three, maybe four Republicans in the Senate. Does it get to a point where that doesn't even matter anymore? He just wants a bill?

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Certainly at this point the president and his staff continue to press their case for the need to Congress to do something quickly and certainly what we heard from the White House press secretary last night was that the White House is pleased that this process is going forward. But all of this again, is happening at a time when every day brings more bad economic news as you laid out at the top of the hour. The unemployment level is now a whopping 7.6 percent. President Obama said that further delay would be inexcusable and irresponsible and in his weekly address, he again stressed the need for lawmakers to act immediately.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because if we don't move swiftly to put this plan in motion, our economic crisis could become a national catastrophe. Millions of Americans will lose their jobs, their homes and their health care. Millions more will have to put their dreams on hold.


QUIJANO: Now, President Obama of course, wants to have a bill on his desk ready to sign by presidents day, February 16th. They know though, there are still some skeptical lawmakers out there. So he's going to take to the road next week, Monday and Tuesday. He'll have a couple of town hall meetings. The first one will be in Elkhart, Indiana, where the unemployment rate, get this, T.J., is 15 percent.

He'll then on Tuesday head to Fort Myers, Florida, where the unemployment rate is a whopping 10 percent. In between there we should mention, as well, he's going to have a primetime news conference Monday night, really trying to drive home the message that, look, Washington needs to act, that Americans are in absolutely no mood for partisan gridlock.

HOLMES: He was certainly given credit during the campaign season for being a good campaigner. Sounds like he's about to hit the trail for this stimulus package. Elaine Quijano, thank you so much. We'll talk to you again soon.

LONG: And now a drastic step in California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has decided to close state offices two days a month. Friday was the first day of the furloughs. The decision means an extra two days off without pay for state employees. Some of them here picketing in front of the department of motor vehicle offices in Sacramento. The closures are expected to save just over a billion dollar a year. The state of California is facing a more than $40 billion budget shortfall.

And we have more bank failures to make sure you are aware of this morning, two of them in California. Alliance Bank and County Bank of Mercer California closing down, but they will reopen actually on Monday under new management and the same story for First Bank Financial Services near Atlanta, Georgia. Customers of the failed banks get automatically transferred to the new banks. Nine banks have failed so far this year.

The economy is expected to be a big part of President Obama's first primetime news conference. It will begin 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Of course, we'll share it with you here on CNN television and also online at

HOLMES: Vice President Biden making his first trip overseas at vice president and it's a big one and a big challenge he's taking on here. He's trying to mend relations between the U.S. and Russia. He's in Germany right now attending an international security conference in Munich, again, his first trip overseas, again.

He told world leaders and U.S. allies that NATO and Russia should cooperate to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan and al Qaeda. Russia started off the day by proposing a ban on countries deploying strategic offensive weapons outside their borders.

LONG: In Germany, the crisis in Afghanistan is really one of the focuses of this international security conference going on this weekend.

HOLMES: And President Obama has called for putting more troops in Afghanistan to battle resurgent Taliban forces. CNN's foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty in Washington for us.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Melissa, T.J., as candidate, Barack Obama argued the U.S. is fighting the wrong war. Afghanistan, not Iraq, he argued, is where the U.S. should focus its efforts. Now he's trying to figure out how to win it.


DOUGHERTY (voice-over): Afghanistan. President Barack Obama calls it the central front in the fight against terrorism.

OBAMA: We can no longer afford drift and we can no longer afford delay. Nor can we cede ground to those who seek destruction.

DOUGHERTY: With escalating violence against civilians, a weak government plagued with corruption and burgeoning opium production, military experts worn the conflict is at a breaking point.

LT. COLONEL DAVID KILCULLEN, AUSTRALIAN ARMY: This year we have a crisis in Afghanistan. We're on the brink of failure.

DOUGHERTY: Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry, a Vietnam veteran warns of a quagmire. The media sees shadows of the same conflict, but is that comparison fair? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gives a curt reply.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I have nothing to say to that.

DOUGHERTY: As Clinton lobbies European allies to help with more troops for Afghanistan, U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke is on his way to the region, consulting, reporting back to Clinton and the president as the administration conducts an in-depth review of what it should do to win the war.

RICHARD HOLBROOKE, U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY: If our resources are mobilized and coordinated and pull together, we can quadruple, quintuple, multiply by tenfold, the effectiveness of our efforts there.

DOUGHERTY: Defense Secretary Robert Gates warns the U.S. can't try to rebuild Afghanistan as it did in Iraq.

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: If we set ourselves the objective of creating some sort of central Asian Valhalla over there, we will lose because nobody in the world has that kind of time, patience or money, to be honest.


DOUGHERTY: The Obama administration says the number one objective is to prevent Afghanistan from being used as a base for terrorists to attack the United States or its allies, but military experts are worried. As one put it, the U.S. might un-bog itself in Iraq only to re-bog itself in Afghanistan. Melissa, T.J.?

HOLMES: Well, what happens when the cure kills? We take you to -- parents are coping with a batch of tainted baby medicine.

LONG: Later, America's mayors are sending out an SOS. We're going to find out if the stimulus bill has the help that they desperately need. And meteorologist Reynolds Wolf is watching the rain this weekend. Last week was the ice, the cold and now we've got the warm-up.



LONG: Live picture right now from our affiliate KAVY, a love live morning in Williamsburg, Virginia this morning. We're learning of a Democratic retreat that's going on this weekend and we're expected to hear momentarily from the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, likely reaction to the Senate stimulus package that of course, is still making its way through the Senate.

And while it makes its way to the Senate, of course, there must be compromise between both houses of Congress between the House and the Senate, likely to vote in the Senate on Tuesday. But again in the meantime, we're going to hear from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, maybe 10, 15 minutes from now. When she steps to the microphone of course, we'll bring you her comments this morning -- T.J.?

HOLMES: All right. Let's mix it up just a bit. This literally was a wild goose chase, Reynolds.


HOLMES: It really was, but what you're seeing here is a dog in Massachusetts that had to be rescued by firefighters. A black lab, this is Bingham harbor, a two-year-old had been chasing geese and got into a bit of trouble. And he caused all this. These firefighters had to put on these special suits to go out there and get this dog.

WOLF: Yeah. You know, let's keep in mind that he a Labrador retriever. He's not a brain surgeon. He's allowed to make these mistakes. He's a dog. He had great motivation trying to capture the geese. Kennel ration sometimes doesn't do it for him, he wants to go out and get some wild game, probably not the best decision.

But he is OK. They brought him back. He was taken to the vet. He's warmed up. He's doing just fine. Hopefully he will not repeat that incident, right now in Massachusetts in Bingham, we got temperatures below freezing. (INAUDIBLE) ice out there.

HOLMES: Something ironic about saving the life of a dog trying who's trying to kill another animal?

WOLF: These are questions that, it's going to take a lot more than just some strong coffee to answer those questions, T.J.

HOLMES: All right.

WOLF: We've had some audience participation as well.

HOLMES: Maybe we will. If anybody else feels that's ironic, write to us, please. What you got going on? We're not using that severe weather graphic this weekend. That's a good thing.


LONG: After talking about the weather, we're talking about weathering the recession. Will the stimulus plan be enough of a lifeline to save your community, save your city? We're going to talk to three mayors who are seeing the hardships firsthand.

And swept away for a Friday night date. First couple sampled some cultural aspects of the capital.


LONG: Good morning, happy Saturday. Today we're talking about health care reform. A major campaign promise by President Barack Obama, but those efforts took a hit with this week's departure of Tom Daschle. Can the White House recover?

CNN's Brian Todd.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the White House, a stoic response to the question, what will you do without Tom Daschle?

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't think the effort slows down for health care reform and I think Senator Daschle and others would admit that the effort is far bigger than any one individual.

TODD: A little less measured on Capitol Hill.

SEN. HARRY REID (D) MAJORITY LEADER: Fifty million people with no health insurance and we moved a step forward on health care for the American people.

TODD: How does the prospect of a sweeping health care overhaul look now that Tom Daschle won't be its spearhead?

NORMAN ORNSTEIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: To have a delay now for several months probably as you get a new person coming in who may have some different ideas, but also is going to have to be brought back up to speed on where we are and what we're doing, to bring in somebody who's not going to be a player at the table, as they make serious changes in the health care process through the stimulus package means that you're narrowing that window when you can actually make things happen.

TODD: Analysts say Daschle brought three critical components to the table that will be hard to match for any one person, a comprehensive knowledge of health care policy, having written a book on it and inside knowledge of Capitol Hill and he would have had the president's ear, given his close relationship with Mr. Obama. Observers also believe the symbolism of Daschle's demise is a broad political setback for the president.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: I think what you're going to see from Republicans is that this is going to be another issue that has helped them unite to stand behind one another and really talk about government excess and really call Barack Obama on the carpet for his campaign promises of bringing accountability and change to Washington, D.C.

TODD: And there's the warning signal to Daschle's potential successor as Health and Human Services nominee. It could be the classic Washington turnoff, analysts say a lot of accomplished people will look at this process, realize what they could be dragged through to get the position and will think twice before going through with it.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


LONG: Daschle's debacle to the stimulus package, President Obama has had a tough week. He got some down time last night though with the fam.

HOLMES: Maybe deserved some down time. Check them out, the president there and the first lady. Don't see their daughters in this picture, but they all went to the Kennedy center to see a show by the Alvin Ally (ph) American dance troupe. They stayed for a couple of hours, left as news broke on that stimulus package. Oh, yeah, got to get back to work, but enjoyed a little time out.

LONG: A big story we're covering for you this hour of course and mayors across the country and begging for help in this economy. One got downright angry and on CNN.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hyundai does not have to pay the legacy costs, the insurance costs that our industry does. They don't have the health care costs, because their government pays for health care. You don't think that's an unfair advantage you're kidding yourself.


LONG: More of this heated interview with the mayor of Lansing, Michigan, and also is Michael Phelps' golden boy image gone for good or will the public give him a second chance?

HOLMES: Well, you be the judge after this picture. He's going to reveal his new game plan, after our break.


LONG: Good morning, half past the hour. It's 8:30 Eastern time. I'm Melissa Long in today for Betty.

HOLMES: And good morning to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes. So glad you could be with us on this Saturday morning.

It is a rare Saturday session for the Senate. They're ready to renew debate on the president's stimulus request, that debate again, happening around noontime, expecting at least four hours of debate today. A group of senators from both parties have come up with a compromise plan that could prove to be a success. We'll bring you much more on the wrangling throughout the day.

LONG: Vice President Joe Biden says it's time to mend relations between the U.S. and Russia. Biden is in Germany today attending an international security conference that's going on in Munich. He also told world leaders and U.S. allies that NATO and Russia should cooperate to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan and al Qaeda as well.

And peanut products sent to children's schools in three states may have been contaminated with salmonella. The U.S. Agriculture Department says between the beginning of 2007 and the end of June 2008, the Peanut Corporation of America shipped potentially tainted peanut butter and roasted peanuts to schools in California, Idaho and Minnesota.

HOLMES: Somewhat back to the economy, back to this big stimulus plan. As we said, the Senate's set to debate a compromised plan today. Here is what is in this deal. $87 billion for Medicaid relief, more than $43 billion for transportation and roads projects. Also more than $6 billion for water and sewer projects. Also the plan has more than $3 billion allocated for job training. That's just a little flavor of what's in that massive bill, around $800 billion that plan is.

Well, for some, the passage of this stimulus package can't happen fast enough. On "AMERICAN MORNING" yesterday, the mayor of Lansing, Michigan lashed out at lawmakers for what he says are bad trade policies that have contributed to the current economic situation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VIRG BERNERO, MAYOR, LANSING, MICHIGAN: We have sold manufacturing. We sold out the working people and outsourced our standard of living with these trade policies. You know, I think it's admirable that people are going line-by-line through this bill.

They ought to go line-by-line through the trade agreements and look for fairness for the American worker. You know, there's a reason why the textile industry, the steel industry, the auto industry, industry after industry is being decimated, furniture making, all of it going overseas. It's these trade agreements.

And we need fair trade for the American worker because this is a picture of the rest of America. We need to invest in American industry. We better decide if we want any advanced manufacturing in this country. We need a new strategic partnership. These other countries invest in their industries. They invest in R&D.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SR. BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Mayor, it's Ali Velshi here. Good to have you here this morning. Ultimately it's not necessarily trade agreements that lost those jobs. It's the fact that things are made more cheaply in other parts of the world, which has in a lot of cases helped many other Americans in their standard of living. They've been able to buy cheaper goods. Ultimately is that going to be the solution, solving trade agreements? What do you need right now?

BERNERO: Let me make it clear. I disagree vehemently.

VELSHI: I know. I got that.


HOLMES: All right. Well, it continued there for a little while. But we will have our debate continue here with a couple of mayors.

This week in Washington, President Obama tried to build momentum for his plan by meeting with several mayors. Almost three dozen mayors from across the country. I'm joined by three of them right now. Mayor Shirley Franklin of Atlanta joining us here in our studio.

Also, Mayor David Cicilline, excuse me sir, Cicilline -- it's easier to put a pronouncer up there, threw me off. Cicilline. How are you doing, sir, from Providence, Rhode Island. And also one more. Akron, Ohio Mayor Donald Plusquellic joining us as well.

They joked with me that I got two good mayors on. And we'll let the viewers decide which two of the three are the good ones, but welcome to you all. Let me ask about the bill. Madam mayor, I will ask you first. Do you support a bill more so or this bill in particular?

SHIRLEY FRANKLIN, MAYOR, ATLANTA: Well, there's no question that the president has been working hard to have a bill that's balanced between stimulating the economy and investing in the economy. So what I have seen in the House version is a bill that I think, that we need to support. And it seems as if on the Senate side that they've come close to the same decision. So invest in an infrastructure, energy and education, and also looking at the tax benefits that would affect millions of Americans.

HOLMES: And Mayor Cicilline, do you agree with that and you know, it's getting better, if you will? But do you have certainly a different perspective than a senator would have or someone in the House would have and that you need something and you need it right now. You just want them to get something done.

DAVID CICILLINE, MAYOR, PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND: Well, we want them to do it right. But of course, I think all the mayors would say the same thing that the first priority is to create jobs. Get Americans back to work again. And to stimulate the economy, to make the right investments in infrastructure that not only get people back to work, but lay the foundation for future economic growth. That's what I think the president's plan does.

I think what we know as mayors, we see this very personally. We know the names of individuals who have lost their jobs. We see them in our cities. We know the names of people who have lost their homes. So it's more personal to mayors. We see it and live with it every single day.

And so, we're in Washington saying support the president's plan. Get Americans back to work again. Make the right investments in infrastructure to rebuild our economy so we can compete in the global economy of the 21st century.

HOLMES: Well, Mayor Plusquellic, sort of -- if you ever go to (INAUDIBLE), he had a comment saying that the bickering needed to stop. Do you see this in what we've been watching up in Washington, D.C. as bickering? Do you see this as, I guess, a lot of -- no Republican support here. What is your problem with the debate you've seen so far? And what problems might you have with this particular bill?

DONALD PLUSQUELLIC, MAYOR, AKRON, OHIO: Well, I think you will learn early on as a public official that there's never a perfect plan. I don't care what size community, what the issue is. You can debate, talk, discuss, on and on and on, argue, but there never will be a perfect plan. If we wait for that, tens of thousands, maybe millions of more people will be out of work before we take action.

And I think all of us were critical of some of the individuals in the Senate side who hunkered down on one little item, or another item, maybe two or three. This bill needs to be passed. And both mayors have explained it. This is an investment in the future, getting people to work immediately, not with just make-work jobs, but with an investment in an infrastructure that, quite frankly, has been delayed too long. We really need it. And we need those jobs now.

HOLMES: Well, on that last point there about jobs, Mayor Franklin, how quickly could you have people working if that bill is passed, it's signed by the president that money gets to you, how quickly could you have jobs created in the city of Atlanta? FRANKLIN: Well, the good news in many cities, including the city of Atlanta, we have shovel-ready jobs, whether they're in water and sewer, whether they're in airport construction, and whether in public works. We believe in public works alone within the first 120 days, we could have 500 people back to work. And over the course of the year, well over 1,000.

The same is true in watershed and on water projects and at the airport. So some of our projects, if funded, would allow people to stay on the job, because we have construction projects underway, both in watershed and in our water projects and in our airport projects. So if we were to get this funding, we don't have any hesitation in saying that we could put people to work within the time frame, actually quicker than the time frame, within the first two to three months and really help spur this economy locally.

HOLMES: All right, we're going to take a quick break here. Mayors, you all stay right with me. We're going to come back and ask you about what exactly you heard from the administration where when you were up there in Washington.

And we want to remind our viewers, we are waiting to hear from Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats. They're expected to come out. They're at a retreat this weekend there in that town. They're in Virginia, but they are expected to come out and speak any moment about what we saw last night with the Senate coming to some kind of a compromised deal, which will be debated today. Stay with us. Our mayoral roundtable continues after a break.


HOLMES: And we want to continue our conversation now with three of America's mayors, who needed a stimulus package yesterday. Again, Mayor Franklin, Mayor Cicilline, and Mayor Plusquellic, thank you all again for being with us.

Mayor Cicilline, I will come back to you now. How stiff is the competition for this money? Because I believe some 18,000 projects have been submitted on a wish list, if you will, for money from this stimulus package. So are you certainly feeling like you have to compete against Mayor Franklin, Mayor Plusquellic, and so many others out there?

CICILLINE: No, I mean, I think one of the things that the package does, it really identifies areas of investment, whether it's in construction to rebuild bridges and roads and our cities, in transit, renewable energy, and renovation of school buildings.

So in each city, there are projects that fit in each of those categories. And it will be the responsibility of the chief executive in those cities to make the case either through an existing funding formula, an existing mechanism, an existing program, or through a competitive process.

HOLMES: Well, I'll ask you actually about one program that got a lot of attention. And you know did. The project of yours on your wish list about renovations and projects at a polar bear exhibit at a zoo. Now..

CICILLINE: Yes. We have -- absolutely. We were -- we put together a list of examples of priorities of each of our individual cities. Infrastructure work that's ready to go. There are, in the city of Providence, $570 million worth of projects would create 6,600 jobs.

One of those is renovation of the biggest tourist attraction in the state of Rhode Island. The third oldest zoo in America, which was built, by the way, with WPA funds. So it's a great institution. Is that one that will qualify for this plan? Probably not. But that was a list of a whole set of infrastructure projects that are ready to go.

We have bridges, roads, our water system, school renovations, all shovel ready, ready to go, that will put people back to work. And that importantly will be making key investments for the long term economic health and prosperity of our city and state.

HOLMES: And on that point, Mayor Plusquellic, you talked about that. And some in Congress had an issue with that. In particular, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma actually offered an amendment that said that money couldn't go towards zoos, I think it's swimming pool, theaters, museums, things like that.

Will you have a tough time making your case, whether it's a polar bear exhibit, or whatever it may be, a tough time making your case, and there would be too many restrictions that the federal government telling you what you need to do on a local level?

PLUSQUELLIC: Well, not necessarily, but let me just point out a couple of things. One, the mayors have never asked for a bailout for our balancing our budgets. We're talking about investment in infrastructure. And 99.9 percent of the items that mayors submitted would be eligible almost by anybody's calculation or anybody's formula.

So those few things that some opponents have picked out and held up and screamed and yelled about, swimming pools or polar bear, really just are almost like a flare out here that they want people to concentrate on.

The major concentration should be on the 99.9 percent of the projects that are really truly needed. Bridges aren't Republican or Democrat bridges. They serve all of us. Water lines, sewer lines, highways.

So I think we ought to get back to looking at the 99.9 percent. And let me say this, though. Mayors have made this clear. If Congress wants to eliminate categories of those, that one-tenth of one percent, they don't want us to build swimming pools, I personally am fine with that, and I think most mayors would say, fine.

Let me also make the argument, though. If you were Mayor of New Orleans, and you had a swimming pool that served a poor neighborhood, where there weren't swimming pools around for kids for five, ten miles, and you weren't able because were you handling other important things...


PLUSQUELLIC: rebuild that swimming pool, you would think that might be a pretty high priority.

HOLMES: Right.

PLUSQUELLIC: But we have pretty much backed off on that and said get us the 99.9 percent. And you want to eliminate one-tenth of one percent, I'm okay with that.

HOLMES: Oh, and Mayor, last round here. I'll try to get to all of you on this question. But Mayor Franklin, I will start with you here. Did you walk out of the White House feeling any better? Did you feel good that something was on the way. And when that something did happen, it would get to you quickly and trickle down? Or do you really -- not feeling too good about the debates you're seeing in Washington right now. And then, even after debate ends, and a bill is passed, that that money will get to you sometime soon?

FRANKLIN: I felt good at the White House. I felt really good for the last few weeks. I'm really encouraged by how much outreach there's been from President Obama and his administration. And also, frankly, from Speaker Pelosi, who has received us several times in Washington. And now that we've seen that the Senate has voted, I'm feeling good about that.

It seems to me that the faster that this is assigned by the president, after it comes out of conference, and then gets back into the hands of the various departments, we can really go to work in getting Americans back to work. And I think Don and -- Don has described it really well. We're not complaining. We know in Atlanta that we could spend $18 billion on airport and water and sewer and public works, but we don't expect $18 billion. We want to put Americans back to work right here in Atlanta, right here in Georgia.

HOLMES: All right. I will let the lady have the last word there. And I see you just called him Don. You didn't want to struggle with having to say Plusquellic.

FRANKLIN: Oh, I know his name.


PLUSQUELLIC: She can call me anything she wants.

HOLMLES: Yeah, all right. Well, I'll see what she calls you when she gets off the air here. Mayor Franklin, Mayor Cicillini, and also Mayor Plusquellic, gentlemen, and lady, thank you all so much.


HOLMES: And we will see what happens and see certainly that money gets to you all when you can do those things on the ground with so many things needed in cities and states. Thank you all for being here for this debate this morning.

FRANKLIN: Thank you.

LONG: Hearing from mayors and also getting ready to hear from President Barack Obama.

HOLMES: Obama expected...

LONG: Monday.

HOLMES: hear from him on Monday. A press conference, expecting that, his first primetime news conference. Again, that's 8:00 Eastern Time. And of course, you can see that right here on CNN.

LONG: Also on live on the internet.

HOLMES: You guys always.

LONG: Always, stream everything.

HOLMES: I love it. All right.

Well, I'm sure this has been -- this is a hot story on

LONG: Absolutely.

HOLMES: And all over the web, and on the airwaves, everywhere.

LONG: Internationally.

HOLMES: Yes, Michael Phelps, an international super star. He's answering some questions about his future in and out of the pool.

LONG: And you really can live large for virtually nothing. The frugalista is going to show us how she is wining and dining without spending a fortune.

HOLMES: Yeah, I got to hear this.


LONG: A stupid mistake, that's what Michael Phelps is now saying about the infamous photograph of the Olympic super star with that bong pipe. It's already led to a suspension. USA Swimming says he can't compete now for three months, but it's the Olympics in three years that people really want to know about now.

Phelps says he hasn't decided on the 2012 Games in London. He says he is thankful for those people who are still standing by him.


MICHAEL PHELPS, OLYMPIC CHAMPION: This is a time we need support. And you know, to be able to have the support, you know, from all of my -- the majority of my sponsors, you know, probably 90 percent of the sponsors, it means a lot. And it's something I'm very thankful for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think the suspension is warranted three months for a picture?

PHELPS: It's not my decision. It's theirs. And I have nothing to say. What they want to do, that's their choice. I -- you know, obviously no decision on what I should or shouldn't do. Now that's something that USA Swimming came up with. And you know, that's fair. You know, I mean, obviously for a mistake, you should get punished. And they went and did that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will this impact your training for the world?

PHELPS: I'm still going to training no matter what. So I mean, that's the only good think about is I won't be competing, but I'll be training.


HOLMES: Well, as Phelps said, most of his sponsors are sticking with him. Kelloggs is, however, letting its deal with Phelps expire at the end of the month. That decision coming after, again that photo surfaced showing the Olympic champion with a bong. Sports business analyst Rick Horrow joins us now.

Rick, what do you do here? Let's start with the first aspect. He got suspended by the USA Swimming. Now, you know, when we're talking about drugs and athletes all the time. Olympic athletes, we're talking about performance enhancers. This is not, by any means, marijuana would be a performance enhancer. So why the suspension?

RICK HORROW, CNN SPORTS BUSINESS ANALYST: Well, because they wanted to make a statement that they don't take this lightly. Michael Phelps was incredibly contrite. He did it very quickly. He acknowledged a stupid mistake.

And remember, corporations like Hilton, Omega, the watch with the Bond picture, Visa, they're sticking by him. Other corporations, not so much. He makes about $5 million or so a year, T.J., on endorsements...


HORROW: ...which is big for a post Olympic athlete. Let's just remember that golfer by the name of Tiger Woods, he's nearly $100 million. So there is a big difference.

HOLMES: There is a big difference. Tell me this. And I know you've probably heard this out there, that some are saying that to have this out there about him might even help him in some ways with some particular sponsors. Not Kelloggs and things geared towards children, but he gets rid of that kind of cookie cutter kid, the sweet kid next door. And it makes him seem like -- and I know this might sound silly, but he seems like more of a kid with an edge?

HORROW: Well, the edge is now two strikes, because there was a DUI, and now there is this. This is a game where two strikes, you ain't out, but you better not miss the curveball that's coming on strike three.

And of course, Kelloggs said that the contract expired, which is technically correct. But they also issued a statement saying this is not appropriate behavior. Subway, standing by him, but there's a big announcement Saturday, we found out. Carl Edwards, the NASCAR driver, is going to be the Subway guy, the big guy.

Now remember, you know, Kobe Bryant, McDonald's dropped him like a hot potato. Nike took two years to bring him back. So you've got to make sure that you rebound from this kind of situation, so to speak. And you can't just wait for the sponsors to fall in your lap.

HOLMES: All right. How is he handling it so far? What are the chances he is going to lose some of those sponsors down the road? And also, it could be some legal issues here. Is there any real chance? I mean, some suggested this -- the sheriff in South Carolina, maybe just grandstanding. But is there a chance he could face some legal issues?

HORROW: He's a large kid with very large hands and very large feet and a very gifted physique, who made a big mistake twice. And so America will give him the benefit of the doubt, because the guy won all of those gold medals and he seems legitimately contrite.

On the other hand, he better not mess up the next time, as we said. Legally, not sure about the existing sponsor relationships. He looks like he's out of the woods. We'll see what the Subway deal does. But generally, corporations, especially in this economy, create contracts now that are shorter and smaller and easier to terminate. So the language needs to be very carefully watched.

HOLMES: All right. Rick Horrow, good stuff. Good information this weekend, a story a lot of people are talking about, going to be talk about for a while. He is the golden boy at least at the Olympic with those eight gold medals.

You enjoy the Super Bowl last weekend?

HORROW: Hey, my prediction was fairly close. You know, I said four points. And that's what happened. You need stick with me. It will serve you well in later life, my friend.

HOLMES: Well, I'll let you go for now. I'll stick with you later.

HORROW: Yeah, bye.

HOLMES: Have a good one, buddy.

LONG: We're talking millions and we're talking about Michael Phelps. So we're not talking about that kind of cash, but could you use a little extra money?

HOLMES: Yeah. Of course, I could. LONG: Right, who couldn't? Right?

HOLMES: A little. $5 for lunch.

LONG: We're actually talking about more than $5.


LONG: How about maybe $1,100. We'll show you how one family actually picked up that kind of cash because the cash is available for those that actually want it. Who doesn't?

HOLMES: OK, you got my attention.

LONG: Yeah.


LONG: During these tough economic times, a lot of people are spending less. They're giving new meaning to the term pinching pennies. With this story, here's CNN's Richard Roth.


RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Meet the Humphreys. They're not depressed in this tough economy. They just like to look down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I found it in the ground.

ROTH: This family of stupors illustrates America's new-found devotion to saving money. They are obsessed with collecting coins.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It comes out of a car, comes back way dime. I'm like, how did you see it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mommy, daddy, I found one!

ROTH: The parents feel the kids are learning that every penny counts.

OBAMA: What we need is real change.

SCOTT HUMPHERY, COIN HUNTER: Whopping four pennies.


ROTH: Pennies that go into the change pot at the Army sergeant's home.

HUMPHERY: The importance of money, the importance of saving money, with the economy the way it is right now.

ROTH: $1,100 found in more than three years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you actually save up money instead of wasting it on junk.

ROTH: The morning haul, 15 cents.

HUMPHERY: I found a dime in the parking lot. And then we also had a pitbull trying to keep a nickel from me, but I got it.

ROTH: That hurts the feelings of Mame McCutchin's dog. The writer hopes Manhattan streets are paved with cash.

MAME MCCUTCHIN, COIN HUNTER: You're really excited. You think we're going to find something today. Come on. Find me a $20.

ROTH: Mame's got three piggy banks, but isn't trying to learn any lessons.

MCCUTCHIN: When I find money I just spend it. There's no savings.

ROTH: Here's a tip.

MCCUTCHIN: You know what's a good place is in the candy boxes at the register places. There's always change in there. People dropping...

ROTH: I think that's called stealing.

MCCUTCHIN: That's 13 cents.

ROTH: You're standing in the sewer picking up a penny. Are you feeling any humiliation or embarrassment at all?

MCCUTCHIN: I'm really proud about it.

ROTH: So in this economy, how low would you go?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I see a penny on the street, I'd pick it up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wouldn't pick up a penny. I mean. It would have to be something valuable. Maybe quarter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See a penny, pick it up and all the day you'll have good luck. See a penny, let it lay and bad luck you will have all day.


ROTH: She beat me for that penny. Richard Roth, CNN, New York.


LONG: I admit. I pick up pennies. You don't?

HOLMES: I don't.

LONG: No. You walk on by. HOLMES: Well, I don't mind looking down usually, if I am looking at a BlackBerry.

LONG: Something shiny will catch your eye.

HOLMES: Yes. OK. But if was green, it will catch my eye as well. Like she said, I want to find a $20 today.

LONG: Yes. I don't think so.

HOLMES: All right. Stay right here the next hour at CNN SATURDAY MORNING right now.

And from the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING, 9:00 here on the east. 6:00 a.m. out west. February 7th, actually National Black HIV AIDS Awareness Day. Hello to you all, I'm T.J. Holmes.

LONG: Good morning. I'm Melissa Long, in today for Betty. Thanks for starting your Saturday and your weekend with us.

HOLMES: Well, trying to get a stimulus deal done, not necessarily easy though. The Senate going into overtime with a rare Saturday session today.

LONG: A group of senators trying to move the discussion with a possible compromise deal. CNN congressional correspondent Brianna Keilar joins us live from Washington, live from the capitol this morning.

Good morning, Brianna.

KEILAR: Good morning, Melissa. Yes, an agreement was reached last night and, yes, the vote is not done but this was really seen as the hurdle in the Senate, in a vote which could come in the senate as early as Tuesday, really seen here as a forgone conclusion. This didn't come easy. As you said, it took days of negotiations between moderate democrats and republicans who stripped about $100 billion out of this bill.

This was an effort spearheaded by Susan Collins, Republican from Maine, and Ben Nelson, a Democrat from Nebraska, who spoke last night after this compromise was reached.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: The American people don't want to see partisan gridlock. They don't want to see us divided and fighting. They want to see us working together to solve the most important crisis facing our country. That is what we have done. That is why we have presented this compromise.

SEN. BEN NELSON (D), NEBRASKA: If we ask taxpayers to support it, as we are, they deserve to get the biggest bang for their buck. The remaining plan will generate new jobs, save jobs and expand job opportunities all across America as it also boosts our economy. We recognize that our plan isn't perfect, but I believe it's both responsible and realistic.


KEILAR: So here is what this group managed to take out of this bill. Here's what democratic leaders had to give up in order to get a few republicans to sign on. Among them, $16 billion in school construction. $7.5 billion in education grants. $122 million for Coast Guard ice breaking vessels, and it's really the big cuts to education that are quite a bitter pill for Democrats to swallow, but they needed it to get those Republicans get over the 60-vote threshold.

And T.J. and Melissa, still though most Republicans, obviously, the vast majority of them, not a fan of this.

HOLMES: OK. And again, just to confirm here. What number are we looking at Republicans? Is it three that are possibly we know of signing on? Could it be any more than that?

KEILAR: No. It's looking at this point, according to different senators that we spoke with, it's looking to be about three. So we're going to see exactly how things shake out. Obviously, on - well, as early as Tuesday, but, yes, that is the understanding at this point.

HOLMES: All right. Brianna Keilar for us. Where they're still not quite stirring in the capitol, but they're coming. They're working today, folks. We assure you. All right. Brianna, we appreciate you.

Meanwhile, the president continues to stress that we need a stimulus package yesterday. Once this thing approved quickly, in his web address to the nation this morning he continued to outline the enormity of the problem.


OBAMA: Legislation of such magnitude deserves the scrutiny that it's receiving over the last month and will receive more in the days to come, but we can't afford to make perfect the enemy of the absolutely necessary. The scale and scope of this plan is right, and the time for action is now.

Because if we don't move swiftly to put this plan in motion, our economic crisis could become a national catastrophe. Millions of Americans will lose their jobs, their homes, and their health care. Millions more will have to put their dreams on hold.

Let's be clear. We can't expect relief from the tired, old theories that in eight short years, double the national debt, throw our economy into a tailspin and led us into this mess in the first place. We can't rely on a losing formula that offers only tax cuts as the answer to all our problems while ignoring our fundamental economic challenges, the crushing costs of health care, or the inadequate state of so many schools, our addiction to foreign oil or our crumbling roads, bridges and levees. The American people know that our challenges are great. They don't expect democratic solutions or republican solutions. They expect American solutions.


HOLMES: All right. Some of those solutions will be discussed in about three hours. Senators will meet again to resume their debate. A vote not expected until Tuesday.

LONG: To the president's address this morning and then the GOP response. Michael Steele giving his first radio address as the new chairman of the Republican National Committee. Steele says the stimulus plan is just a spending spree for the democrats.


MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIRMAN: Democrats in Congress want a $1 trillion spending bill. You've heard about the pork barrel programs they want to fund. $45 million for ATV trails and removal of fish passage barriers is one that caught my eye. Exactly what is a fish passage barrier and why does it cost $45 million to stimulate the economy with it? That's why Republicans in the House voted against uncontrolled spending.


LONG: Steele says Republicans can't just vote no on the bill. They must push their own plan.

A slap on the wrist for the husband of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Yesterday the state senate found Tom Palin and nine staffers in contempt over the so call troopergate case but has also decided not to punish any of them for refusing to testify in person because they submitted statements to the investigator. Lawmakers had been looking into whether Governor Palin tried to force state police to fire her sister's ex-husband.

HOLMES: Protests going on now in Oakland, California. Demonstrators angry that a former Bay area transit officer charged with murder is now released on bond. His name is Johannes Mehserle, posted now at $3 million bail. He was charged with shooting and killing a man who was not armed while on duty New Year's day. Mehserle's attorney says he may have been reaching for his taser and got mixed up.

LONG: Federal health officials say the Georgia peanut plant at the center of the Salmonella outbreak knowingly shipped tainted products. And now the Food and Drug Administration has launched a criminal investigation into the company. The Peanut Corporation of America. Much of the contaminated products they shipped out ended up in children's schools across three states.

Eight people have died. Hundreds more have gotten sick. The Peanut Corporation of America, PCA, denies any wrongdoing. HOLMES: The Navy is hoping for a little help from the high tide. Help to refloat a 9,000 ton warship that ran aground off Hawaii. The guided missile cruiser, the "U.S.S. Port Royal" it is stuck about a mile off Honolulu's International Airport. An earlier effort by Navy tug boats failed to free the ship. So they're hoping high tide will help shift that thing around and get it going around.

LONG: Stuck in the muck. Beautiful sunrise.

HOLMES: It was a beautiful picture. Can we see that again? Hawaii.

LONG: Spectacular. Normally you have to go there for the nice weather. But I checked the forecast for a lot of the cities that had really nasty weather a week ago at this time, Buffalo, Lexington, 40s and 50s.

WOLF: You know guys, two ways to look at this, this great picture. One way, would be, well, our boat is stuck. But the good way to look at it is ...

LONG: We're stuck in ...

WOLF: Stuck in Hawaii.

HOLMES: Right.

WOLF: Goodness, gracious. I mean, come on.

LONG: But I think they're stationed there. So they're used to this kind of weather.

WOLF: I know. But still looking at that. I mean tell that to a guy who's in Toledo whose been dealing with real winter. Hawaii, pretty good.

LONG: Right.

WOLF: Good times. That's what I'm talking about.

Hey, take a look at this, if you happened to me in Dallas, you got to be happy with 79 degrees. Any time you got 79 degrees and you happen to be in the southern or central plains this time of the year, you got to be a happy camper. Happy campers also in places like say Kansas city where it's currently 68 degrees. 34 in Minneapolis. 50 in Chicago, and Nashville, 68 degrees.

You know, in places like Louisville, where they have those widespread power outages and ice everywhere, this morning they have temperatures that are in just the 50s, whereas just a week ago, they were covered in ice. So things have really improved.

One thing it's going to be geting worse, will be those sky conditions across parts of the Midwest and into the Ohio Valley. Scattered showers and perhaps even some thunderstorms. And there is the chance of snow in the forecast in a couple places. One would be in extreme northern Michigan, right up on the U.P. (ph) and parts of Wisconsin and even into Minnesota.

But when you push farther back out to the west looking at some scattered showers in parts of the L.A. basin, the San Joaquin Valley, certainly good news there, because they've really had a deficit of rainfall. And that snow pack needs to build up. Today, they're going to get it.

If you look very quickly on radar, you'll notice a lot of greens, a lot of blue, even a few yellow pop up here and there. But in any case, just some rainfall when you get into the higher elevations. We're talking the San Gabriel mountains, near L.A. county, back over to places like Ventura County. This high spot are going to get lots of snow.

We're talking anywhere from one to two feet. So in the L.A. basin, temperatures today going up into the 50s. But if you look way up right on the skyline, it's going to be awfully nice for you. Big bear, just fine. However, if you're taking that drive along the grapevine, i-5 going through the mountain passes, you got the winds to deal with, possibly almost whiteout conditions at times.

So certainly, be careful up there. A winter storm warning in effect for, again, as I mentioned, L.A county and in fact, into Ventura County through 6:00 p.m. later on today. That's a look at your forecast. Let's send it back to you guys.

HOLMES: All right. Reynolds, we appreciate you, as always, kind, sir.

WOLF: Any time.

HOLMES: Well, who else is talking? The mother of those octuplets. She's talking to the media.

LONG: Can you imagine? The challenges. Well, with 14 children now in tow, she's going to tell us why she is more than happy to have this incredibly large family. Welcome home, man.


HOLMES: Well, video we're just getting in here of the vice president. Vice President Biden on his first trip overseas as vice president. He is actually in Munich, Germany. He is there for a security conference. Also delivering a speech. A major speech, and an important one. Speaking to European leaders and speaking to European allies and stressing a new tone and a new relationship he hopes to have, the United States hopes to have with European allies.

It was really strained, some would say. And certainly the administration would say during the Bush years and hoping to renew those relationships and also renew the relationship and ease any strain possibly with Russia.

This is new video shown of him. He just made a speech a short time ago when he emphasized the new tone between Washington and our trans-Atlantic partners. We will continue to monitor the vice president's movements there in Germany.

Meanwhile, dozens of children, dead in Nigeria. All of them killed by something that was supposed to ease their pain. CNN's Christian Purefoy looks at the country's struggle to get bad drugs off the streets.


CHRISTIAN PUREFOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nneka and Chimezie Onanuku unwittingly poisoned their own four-month-old son. Giving him what they thought was a baby teething medicine, they were in fact dosing him with a substance commonly found in anti-freeze. The bottle had been contaminated with it, toxic chemical diethylene glycol and in the last few months over 84 children here in Nigeria are thought to have died from exposure to the tainted syrup.

NNEKA ONONAKU, MOTHER: It's not easy to carry a pregnancy for nine months. After that -- getting a drug from the pharmacy to kill your own child, it's not funny ...

PUREFOY: The mixture was called "My Pikin." Tests by Nigeria's National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control, produced results horrifying for any parent.

STELLA DENLOVE, DIRECTOR OF LABORATORIES, NAFDAC: This was the highest, almost 90 ml out of 100 ml of this contained diethylene glycol. Like we said, it's a bottle of poison.

PUREFOY: Nigeria is on the front line in the global fight against counterfeit drugs, and on the cover, NAFDAC officers have taken to the streets in order to combat the sale of unregistered and often harmful drugs.

These hawkers were charged with selling counterfeit drugs and fined.

PUREFOY (on-camera): The hawkers selling these drugs are perpetuating the crime but they're often victims of poverty, just trying to earn a living.

PUREFOY (voice-over): NAFDAC claims most of the counterfeit drugs come from India and China, and it's big business. The American watchdog group, Center for Medicine in the Public Interests, predicts counterfeit drug sales will reach $75 billion globally in 2010.

The managing director of the "My Pikin" factory and eight others have been charged with negligence. The company could not be reached for comment. But former director general of NAFDAC warns this is not just a Nigerian problem.

DORA AKUNYILI, NIGERIAN MINISTER OF INFORMATION: This corporation -- so we, too, need to cooperate, if we can find them. Not only in Nigeria, but also internationally. Because drug (INAUDIBLE), it was a trans-national criminal network and can only be dismantled through international cooperation. PUREFOY: Cheaply produced and distributed, these counterfeit drugs captured by NAFDAC are a poisonous addition to developing countries where people already have only limited access to health care. But these efforts of getting them off the streets are offering a beacon of hope.

Christian Purefoy, CNN, Lagos, Nigeria.


LONG: The birth of Nadya Suleman's octuplets last month certainly got a lot of attention. A single mom quickly became the target of so much criticism when people found out she already had six children at home. Now, an exclusive interview with NBC, Suleman was explaining herself.


NADYA SULEMAN, MOTHER OF OCTUPLETS: I'm providing myself to my children. I'm loving them unconditionally, accepting them unconditionally, everything I did. I'll stop my life for them.


LONG: Suleman says all 14 of her children were conceived by in vitro fertilization from sperm donated by a friend.

HOLMES: Now we turn back to the economy now, and a lot of folks want to cut back on their expenses and our Gerri Willis has some smart and very simple tips to help you do just that.


GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Hi, T.J. Well, there are some things we can't live without but there are ways to pay less for your essentials. First, check out This free Web site will give you a personalized list of what other cell phone or credit cards would fit your needs in an estimate of how much you would save annually by switching to those cards.

It's tough to find inexpensive health care but we found a few places that offer free and reduced cost care. Head to to find a free federal clinic. Now you don't have to have health insurance at these clinics, pay what you can for immunizations, checkups dental care, prescriptions. Find other free clinics in your area through the Association of Medical Colleges. Now their Web site is

To cut your insurance bill, keep your credit score as high as possible. It's the basis for the rate you pay on car insurance. If it's homeowners insurance you want to lower, consider raising your deductible. Now, don't lower your coverage, but think about raising the amount of money you have to pay towards a loss before your insurance kicks in, and, of course, ask about group coverage.

Coming up on "YOUR BOTTOM LINE," we're evaluating the stimulus and what it means for you, economizing your life, a how to guide and we're putting infomercial products to the test on "YOUR BOTTOM LINE" 9:30 a.m. Eastern -- T.J.


HOLMES: All right. Always appreciate those tips. Telling you how to save some money. You can save some by not spending a dime for a month.

LONG: How do you do it?

HOLMES: If I had to.

LONG: You have to pay the bills.

HOLMES: You got to ...

LONG: The others.

HOLMES: The other stuff. Extra, even a pack of gum. The drink, the Starbucks that people love. Could you really do that?

LONG: I've done it.

HOLMES: You have?

LONG: Yes.

HOLMES: How did you do that? College?

LONG: No. Actually more recently.

HOLMES: Really? How can it work out?

LONG: It's a tough challenge. It was great. You feel self- empowered.

HOLMES: How long did you do it?

LONG: A couple of months.

HOLMES: Are you serious?

LONG: Seriously. That's why I'm so looking forward to talking to the "Frugalista."

HOLMES: I'm impressed now. I didn't know that about you.

LONG: Because she is wining and dining herself without spending any dough throughout the month of February. We'll see how she does it and help you as well.

HOLMES: I did not know you did that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LONG: Living on the cheap. It is possible. "Miami Herald" reporter Natalie McNeal who is also known as the frugalista is doing it and doing it, how successfully, we're going to find out. She said she's going to go the entire month of February just buying the basics. No eating out. No shopping. No manicures. No hair salon visits, nothing. We mentioned those because I understand she has a weakness for those items.

Let's see how the first week is going. Natalie McNeal joins us live from Plantation, Florida. So again, a weakness for the pampering. Self-pampering. You're staying away from it and achieving success at least with week one?

NATALIE MCNEAL, FRUGALISTA, "MIAMI HERALD": Yes, going really, really well.

LONG: Why is it going so well? How are you rewarding yourself or is the reward itself just that you know, you're saving the cash?

MCNEAL: Well, I enjoy watching my bank account stabilize and I found little things to do to at home or free things during the week so that I don't have to worry about spending a lot, a lot of money. So ...

LONG: I know you keep a blog and detail how you're keeping yourself busy a home. Some people may not say, oh, that sounds like fun but you're getting your life organized?

MCNEAL: Exactly. I mean, it's definitely worth it. I wouldn't have it any another way.

LONG: So tell us what you're doing though with your down time so that you're still having fun, yet on the cheap?

MCNEAL: Well, last Thursday I went to a free wine tasting at a wine bar in Miami, and it was great. We had Chilean wine, an Argentinean wine. And it was awesome. It was the best thing. For free.

LONG: And you also hobnob with a very handsome gentleman right there as well.

MCNEAL: He's a good friend. He's attractive.

LONG: Well, it looks like had you a nice time there. How did you find out about these free events, these free engagements you can do, go to in your own community?

MCNEAL: Well, I mean, it's what I do. I'm the "Frugalista." I run the blog, "Frugalista Files," and everyday I just look for free and fabulous things to do. The good thing about a bad economy is that a lot of businesses just want people to come in the door. So you can just search around and they'll give you a taste. They'll give you free wine tasting, hoping that you'll stay a little bit longer and maybe buy dinner, buy the wine that you taste.

But instead, like Thursday night we got the free wine and then we had to go home.

LONG: Now, when you say no buy month -- you're still paying the bills, you're still doing the basics. So did you prepare for this month by getting any bills out of the way or saving extra amount of cash -- that you had on hand just in case?

MCNEAL: No, I really didn't have to do a lot of things. Because the things that I cut back are totally extras. Like I don't have to get my hair done. I can do my hair at home and I can paint my fingernails at home. So I didn't have to do anything exactly in preparation other than getting mentally prepared to say hey, I'm going to think about everything I spend and I'm going to try not to spend much and I'm going to make a concerted effort to only do things that are pretty much free.

LONG: I know you've done this before. You're challenging yourself again this month. It is the shortest month of the year.

MCNEAL: That's right.

LONG: And I know that's a strategic decision. What have you learned in the past, what have you learned this past week that you're going to take forward in the next three weeks?

MCNEAL: Well, last week I just learned that things are pretty well. I can definitely do it. The beginning part of the week I spent cleaning off my desk. And doing other things. So while I'm not going out as much I want to spend a lot of time like straightening up my home, getting things in order. I'll probably do my taxes.

Because I'm not out spending a lot of money and renting here and there. And I'm just going to be thoughtful about my social life. Next week, I'm probably going to go to a free museum exhibit. You know, or otherwise, if I weren't doing "no buy month," I would probably running here or there doing something else, but maybe not even going to the museum or not even thinking about that.

LONG: And it's empowering. You said, you're getting your house in order. You're also getting your financial house in order.

MCNEAL: Exactly.

LONG: Thanks so much. You blog as well for the "Miami Herald," and we appreciate your time and we look forward to checking in with you very same time next Saturday.

MCNEAL: OK. Thanks, Melissa.

LONG: Thank you.

OK. Checking in with the "frugalista" next week, very same hour here. CNN SATURDAY MORNING and see how she's doing on her no-buy month during February.

Coming up we'll continue to talk about your money, talk about the stimulus that's currently before the Senate. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LONG: A lot of people work the weekends. The senators are hard at work this weekend.


LONG: Wow. Working on the stimulus.

HOLMES: Yes, a rare Saturday session. They are getting ready to continue debate on that stimulus package set to start at noon. Supposed to go over at least four hours, continue over the weekend. We'll be continuing to follow that right here on CNN SATURDAY MORNING. Just stay with us.

LONG: Right now, "YOUR BOTTOM LINE" with Gerri Willis.