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AMERICAN MORNING

Stimulus Negotiations Resume; Overhauling the Financial Bailout; Deadly Tornado Strikes Oklahoma, Killing Eight; A Look at FEMA's Future; Arrest in Phelps Pot Party; Stamps To Go Up 2 Cents; Scientists Working on NASA's Replacement to the Hubble Space Telescope; Recession Triggers Bartending Boom

Aired February 11, 2009 - 06:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Breaking news, tornadoes hit the heartland.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tornado on the ground, Gary. It's close to Cross Timbers Elementary right now.

ROBERTS: Shredding homes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And has made big noise. Boom!

ROBERTS: And taking lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Said a little prayer, ran in there and covered my wife and my youngest son. Sounded like a tiger growling.

ROBERTS: We're live as the storm hits east.

Plus, the bailout backlash.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: We were expecting a blueprint, we got a sketch on a napkin.

ROBERTS: Your retirement takes another hit as Wall Street sells its stock in the president's plan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This strategy will cost money.

ROBERTS: On this AMERICAN MORNING.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: And good morning. Thanks very much for being with us on this Wednesday, it's the 11th of February, and all sorts of financial news to talk about on where this whole thing is headed.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: That's right, the bailout part two unveiled yesterday by the treasury secretary and immediately it was attacked by many, both economists and politicians who say wait a minute. We wanted some more details on this.

ROBERTS: Yes. We wanted an idea, not just the concept. You know, tell us the details of this. So we'll see if they can come up with that in the next few days.

CHETRY: Yes. And we begin with breaking news and that's House and Senate lawmakers that could reach a final deal on the estimated $800 billion economic stimulus bill as early as today. They returned to the Capitol in just a few hours. They were there until late night trying to hammer out an agreement.

Some big differences though remain including spending on health care, education and taxes. President Obama wants a final package by Monday.

And the economy is causing New York City police to scale back security plans for Ground Zero and the Wall Street area. According to the "Associated Press," police commissioner Ray Kelly says that fewer officers will be assigned to the Lower Manhattan security initiative until the economy picks up or federal funding comes through. That original plan called for 800 police officers to protect Ground Zero and Wall Street from terrorist threats.

Right now, the U.S. watching a long range North Korean missile site very closely. A senior U.S. official tells CNN over the last several days a satellite snapped a picture of sophisticated equipment being assembled at the launch area. The official said the last time they saw this type of activity was back in 2006 when a long-range missile was launched there. CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr broke that story and we'll have some new developments for us a bit later in the show.

ROBERTS: We begin this morning though with breaking news. Death and destruction in Oklahoma to you. At least three tornadoes ripped across the state, the most severe hitting the town of Lone Grove, about 90 miles from Oklahoma City. Eight people were killed and dozens more injured. Homes flattened and residents shaken.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you look and you say a half-shaped funnel coming down, what the heck goes through your mind?

NICHOLAS NOBLES, RESIDENT OF LONE GROVE, OKLAHOMA: Words I cannot repeat on TV. A definite sense of fear. I'm not going to lie. It's an adrenalin rush but not one that I would recommend ever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Tens of thousands of people still without power this morning. CNN's Samantha Hayes is on the ground in Lone Grove. Rob Marciano at the CNN Weather Center in Atlanta.

Let's start with Samantha who joins us on the telephone. What does it look like from where you are this morning, Samantha.

VOICE OF SAMANTHA HAYES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, just driving around this town in the middle of the night, you can see why, you can hear why those folks were so scared last night. You know, it's typical of a tornado. You drive through these rural roads and you can see some homes look fine and then you come upon one that is demolished.

We were looking at one home just a short time ago. It looked to be a brick house, when it was standing but it's demolished. The foundation is gone. You can see part of a wall. There are three vehicles in the yard that were turned over, and metal was wrapped around one of them.

Power lines are down. That's a safety problem right now so police moved us out of the area that we were in before. And we also drove by a mobile home community, and John, we understand that's where several people died last night, because of these storms. And police are still moving around these areas. Some areas they really haven't been able to get into yet and they have a lot of work ahead of them this morning, and they're waiting for the sun to come up in order to see what they're doing.

We're going to head to the firehouse to get more information, find out the latest details right now but we are in the area that was hardest hit, Lone Grove. It's about 90 miles south of Oklahoma City. It's a town of about 5,000. As I mentioned it's fairly rural, and the damage is spotty but you can tell that it is extensive.

ROBERTS: Yes. You know, these storms, they have a real capricious nature to them.

And Samantha, how well equipped is the town there to respond to this emergency? Do they need help from elsewhere?

HAYES: I'm sure that they are bringing in help. The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, the statewide agency, has been providing us with a lot of these details. And you know, the hospitals are working hard, too, right now. The local hospital that's near here and the city of Ardmore, they received 46 people last night and seven with major injuries.

I think a couple people or at least a few people were sent to Dallas, too, so they've got their work cut out for them. I think because of where they're located here this part of the country, you know, they deal with this type of thing, however, they don't usually deal with it this time of year. I don't know how prepared people were.

You know, I could hear, you know, some of the voices that ran at the top of the program, people, you know, are used to this. They have cellars. They go to them in times like this, but it's February. And I understand that this type of weather spawning tornadoes, I don't think it's happened this time of year for nine years or so, so it's very likely that it took a lot of people by surprise.

ROBERTS: Yes. The weather's been very changeable in these last couple of weeks, so you can expect that maybe something like this would happen.

Samantha Hayes for us in Lone Grove this morning. Samantha, thanks very much. That storm still on the move right now. Let's bring in Rob Marciano tracking it all at the Severe Weather Center in Atlanta. Where is it headed now, Rob?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, everything is headed east that I just touched on what Samantha has said as far as deadly tornados in Oklahoma in the month of February. This has only happened twice before so extremely rare event and certainly ramping up early for this time of year.

This is the radar from last night. Here's Lone Grove. Here's the squall line. Now ahead of it is that cell with a little bit of purple heading across the Red River across the Lone County and then northeast across Carter County. And they did have some warning. There was a warning issued at least 15 minutes in advance of the National Weather Service but obviously the structures in that community not built for that sort of storm.

All right. We're all heading the line of storms to the east across the Mississippi right now. We still have tornado warnings that are in effect, or watches I should say, that are in effect for the next hour with this line that's now moving across southern Louisiana, northern Louisiana.

We do think, our Storm Prediction Center thinks that most of the intensity of these storms will be north of I-20, so that would include Little Rock, or at least east toward Memphis. But it does seem -- they do seem to be weakening just a little bit as they head back to the east toward St. Louis.

The threat now is now really wind. This storm is actually the center of it is intensifying fairly rapidly, and straight line winds just around this cyclone are going to do some damage. And there are high wind warnings in now in effect for Memphis, northeast, all the way to Detroit for this afternoon and tonight as this storm traverses northeasterly and as it does that, it will intensify and will bring this strong southerly winds and southwesterly winds and then easterly winds as it makes its way towards the northeast.

Some of those winds could gust to 50 or 60 miles an hour. And John, this storm expected to track right over the area that got hit with the ice storm so you better believe that there are still trees and tree limbs that are weak from that storm that will be taking the brunt of these 40 and 50 mile-an-hour winds later on this afternoon. That could very well cause more power outages in the area that's recovering from the ice storm of last week.

Back to you.

ROBERTS: Oh, they certainly don't need any more trouble there.

All right. Rob Marciano watching it all for us this morning. Rob, we'll keep checking back in with you this morning because it's important to keep an eye on this weather. Thanks.

MARCIANO: All right now. CHETRY: Also developing right now, overseas markets in Europe and Asia down, reacting to another massive selloff on Wall Street. The Dow dropping 381 points Tuesday. That's the biggest drop so far this year and it started as Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner unveiled sweeping plans to thaw frozen credit markets that could help millions of Americans obtain car loans and a student loan. But the view on Wall Street was the revamped financial bailout and it lacked detail and what investors wanted to see was more specifics. The president had a pointed response when asked about Wall Street's reaction on ABC's "Nightline."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, you know, Wall Street, I think, is hoping for an easy out on this thing. And there is no easy out. Essentially what you've got are a set of banks that have not been as transparent as we need to be in terms of what their books look like, and we're going to have to pull off the band- aid a little bit and go ahead --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Well this morning we're breaking down the second part of the bank bailout. Here's CNN's Allan Chernoff.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: John, Kiran, in some ways we're exactly where we were five months ago, back when the Bush administration was announcing its first bank bailout plan. The banks are still weighed down by their so-called toxic assets, those lousy real estate loans they made. The lending market is still pretty much frozen. It's very hard to get a consumer or small business loan.

So what's the treasury secretary doing? He's throwing more taxpayer money at the problem.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHERNOFF (voice-over): Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner wants bankers to lend their bailout money which hasn't been happening.

TIMOTHY GEITHNER, TREASURY SECRETARY: When our government provides support to banks, it is not for the benefit of banks. It is for the businesses and families who depend on banks.

CHERNOFF: But how to achieve the financial stability that can promote lending? Analysts say the plan lacks specifics.

BERT ELY, BANK ANALYST, ELY & CO.: Where is the beef? This plan is long on rhetoric and very short on detail.

CHERNOFF: Perhaps the toughest detail, creating incentives for private investors to buy up troubled mortgage loans from banks, so- called toxic assets. There used to be a huge market for such loans. Now it appears Washington must provide a financial cushion for potential investors. ELY: Investors are going to want, understandably, high rates of return, potential return on these assets because of the risk that they pose.

CHERNOFF: Secretary Geithner says he would spend $100 billion of taxpayer money in the hope of getting investors to spend $1 trillion. More taxpayer money to go to banks in need of capital but only after they pass a stress test to make sure the money can be put to good use. And $50 billion will be committed to helping homeowners at risk of foreclosure. The bottom line is that the remaining $350 billion of bailout money may not be enough.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), MINORITY LEADER: And now he has the second $350 billion. Oh, what's the plan? What's the need? And until we have answer to those questions, I don't know how we can take further steps.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHERNOFF: Theory is fine but there's no guarantee the plan is actually going to work in practice, and no guarantee that Congress will want to spend more than another $350 billion on bailing out banks -- John, Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. So we dig a little deeper right now and Christine Romans, she's "Minding Your Business" this morning.

$350 billion also is just a tip of the iceberg when you take a look at what the plan is going to entail.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. That's right. And no guarantees.

As Allan Chernoff said, there are no guarantees and Wall Street knows there are no guarantees. And Wall Street took the treasury secretary at his word when he said that there would be risk involved. It won't happen quickly and that there could be a lot of, you know, a lot of diversions along the way. He said we might have to change our game plan in the middle of the game and that's something that concerned Wall Street.

One of the things that we know is throughout the month of January, people on the street were saying what are they going to do? What is this administration going do? How are they going to revamp TARP, that bank rescue? How are they going to do it better? How are they going to get more money into the banks? How are they going to fix this?

And there was this real clamor for a plan. Now they have a plan but it's broad brush strokes. It's not the exact details and now Wall Street is saying we need more details. We have to know exactly how its' going to work. We have to know exactly how you're going to get private investors to partner with the government.

Why are private investors going to step in and buy this garbage off the banks' books if no one else wants them? You can't even value them in the fair marketplace. There's a lot of concern about how this is all going to work. But remember this is all about confidence. There's just no confidence right now, and Allan pointed out we're back where we were five months ago.

A lot of my sources are saying it's not as bad exactly as it was in those first hours, literally hours after Lehman went down. But there is a very, very fragile psyche right now in the markets and we know that the going has been tough for the banks in the first quarter. We're going to hear from the eight big bank CEOs who I'm sure are going to be grilled on Capitol Hill today. I'm just sure it's going to be fireworks there.

But they're probably going to sit up and say look, here are our numbers. This is how much money we've lent. We've been lending money but you know what? The pool of credit-worthy borrowers gets smaller and smaller every single day, and we can't lend taxpayers money. We can't lend out your money if we've got all of these other holes in our books that have to be filled first.

So I'm sure we're going to have a spirited defense. I'm sure they're going to have a very spirited defense. It's going to be a very interesting day. We're going to learn more about what are they doing with this money. What are they doing with it, and you know, should they get more? All of my sources say they need an awful lot more.

CHETRY: All right, Christine.

ROMANS: More money. We're going to be talking about this for a long time.

CHETRY: Thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

ROBERTS: Breaking news out of Capitol Hill this morning. Negotiations on the president's stimulus package lasting late into the night as President Obama gets an up close look at the realities of the economic crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIO, MCDONALD'S EMPLOYEE: Oh, it's such a blessing to see you, Mr. President. Thank you for taking time out of your day. Oh, gracious God, thank you so much.

GOV. CHARLIE CRIST (R), FLORIDA: And to help health care for those who need it the most.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Yes. The latest developments live from the White House today and one of President Obama's campaign promises was to fix FEMA. But with all hands on deck for the economy, he still has not picked someone to run the agency. We'll take a look at FEMA's future coming up. It's 13 minutes now after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIO, MCDONALD'S EMPLOYEE: I've been at the same job, which is McDonald's, for four and a half years, because of the fact that I can't find another job. Now, with the fact that I've been there for as long as I've been there, do you have any plan or any idea of making one that has been there for a long time, receive any better benefits than what they've already received?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Far from the partisan scene in Washington, President Obama coming face-to-face with the raw emotion of the recession yesterday. And right now at the center of the president's plan to fix the crumbling economy his massive stimulus plan. Critical negotiations to hammer out the final language on the plan are expected to resume in just hours after stretching late into last night.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel worked the Hill in an urgent effort to get the bill on the president's desk by Monday.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is the only reporter live at the White House this early in the morning. And Suzanne, the administration making a full court press to try to get this bill on the president's desk.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, John. We saw Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel really engaged in shuttle diplomacy, if you will, nine hours on the Hill yesterday, back and forth from the House and the Democratic side trying to work with the Democratic leadership to get something crafted to send to the president. At the same time late last night here at the White House, you had President Obama hosting more than 40 what you call these Blue Dog Democrats, the fiscally conservative moderate Democrats who are obviously worried about all of this money, this huge economic stimulus package.

Well, I can tell you, John, there were no hors d'oeuvres. There were no cocktails. Our White House producer, Swann Ty (ph), working her sources this morning as well, saying essentially that the Democrats are really worried not so much about these programs that are millions of dollars that they're squabbling over, but the long-term agenda, Social Security reform, Medicare, these type of things. They brought these concerns to the president and the president said, look, I know that's going to be difficult. Obviously, we are going to have to work through some of these things but he said even you're going to have to vote against some of the interests in your own district in order to move for this economic stimulus package.

So, you know, some Democrats holding their nose essentially at this saying OK, maybe this is something we have to go along with. And you saw that clip there about that McDonald's worker. That is really a key part of the strategy, John. As you know, the president getting out on the road, talking to the McDonald's worker, talking to the secretary who says look, I want my own bathroom. I want my own kitchen. He is trying to take the debate out of Washington, and bring it to people, to bring it to ordinary Americans and put himself in these positions, in these settings where he looks like hey, you know what? I get it and this is the way to fix it.

That's why we're going to see him later today, John, in northern Virginia at a construction site, again making his case that he believes it's the economic stimulus package that is going to jump- start the economy and get those jobs back -- John.

ROBERTS: All right. Suzanne Malveaux live for us at the White House this morning. Suzanne, thanks. We just showed a map of Springfield, Illinois. That's not where the president is going. He's going to Springfield, Virginia. However, all day tomorrow, CNN will be broadcasting live out of Springfield, Virginia, as we do special President's Day Lincoln birthday coverage of --

CHETRY: Springfield, Illinois, right?

ROBERTS: Springfield, Illinois.

CHETRY: OK.

ROBERTS: Did I say Virginia?

CHETRY: Yes. Too many Springfields.

ROBERTS: That's all right. We'll bring you special coverage of the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth. So make sure you're around for that. Exactly.

The president's road trip bringing him face to face with lots of people hurting financially. And during yesterday's town hall in Fort Myers, Florida, he met a woman, Suzanne mentioned her, unemployed, homeless and fighting to hang on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HENRIETTA HUGHES: I first want to say, I respect you and I'm so grateful for you.

OBAMA: Thank you.

HUGHES: I've been praying for you.

OBAMA: I believe in prayers, so I appreciate that.

HUGHES: I have an urgent need, unemployment and homelessness, a very small vehicle for my family and I to live in. We need urgent -- and the housing authority has two-year waiting lists and we need something more than the vehicle and parks to go to. We need our own kitchen and our own bathroom. Please help.

OBAMA: Well, I -- listen, what's your name? What's your name?

HUGHES: It's Henrietta Hughes.

OBAMA: OK, Ms. Hughes. Well, we're going to do everything we can to help you, but there are a lot of people like you, and we're going to do everything we can. All right? But I'll have my staff talk to you after this -- after the town hall, all right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: And after that town hall meeting, the wife of Florida State Representative Nick Thompson offered to let Henrietta Hughes and her son stay in the house that she owns that's vacant. It's about 30 miles away.

CHETRY: Very touching. It was very touching. We're going to talk a little bit more about that. We're talking actually with the mayor of Fort Myers a little bit later on in the show. They're going through a tough time unfortunately, the highest foreclosure rate in the world right now.

ROBERTS: So many people are hurting these days.

CHETRY: Yes, absolutely.

Well, big breaking story in Oklahoma as well to tell you about this morning that we've been following. These powerful storms slamming into the state late last night. That's a view from Logan County, at least eight people killed. An update and also the latest pictures ahead.

Also with so much attention focused on the economy, when will President Obama be able to get around to fixing FEMA? We take a look at the future for that critical agency.

It's 20 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. We're following breaking news for you today.

Lone Grove, Oklahoma, torn apart by a tornado. At least eight people dead. The small town is about 90 miles from Oklahoma City. Twisters also destroyed homes and businesses in the Oklahoma City area. Tens of thousands of people still without power and in Lone Grove, they're probably going to be without power for awhile -- Kiran.

CHETRY: And when disaster strikes, FEMA is expected to lead the government's response. The agency still haunted by the failed response to Hurricane Katrina, and although President Obama promised to overhaul FEMA, he's yet to appoint somebody to run the critical agency.

Our Jim Acosta is looking at the future of FEMA. He joins us live in Washington today. You know, we've thought there's been so much going on, of course, and so much for this administration to tackle.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right.

CHETRY: But this is something that certainly can't slip through the cracks either.

ACOSTA: That's right, Kiran. The situation in Oklahoma is a reminder that there are other disasters to deal with besides the economy and Katrina, for example, was more than a hurricane. It was a government fiasco.

During the campaign, President Obama promised to dramatically change the way this country responds to disasters, but as of yet, the new president does not have his own appointee running FEMA.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): When the first disaster on President Obama's watch, an ice storm hit parts of the south, it was a holdover from the Bush administration on the scene for FEMA. The agency got good marks from state officials.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eliminate the peanut butter portion of the meal.

ACOSTA: But in its response, FEMA may have mistakenly sent salmonella tainted peanut butter in its meal kits to evacuees. Nobody got sick but it was a reminder.

PROF. RICHARD SYLVES, UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE: FEMA is under a spotlight. It's under scrutiny.

ACOSTA: The Bush administration's bungled response to Hurricane Katrina was one of the Obama campaign's favorite targets.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can talk about levees that couldn't hold, about a FEMA that seemed not just incompetent, but paralyzed and powerless, about a president who only saw the people from the window of an airplane instead of down here on the ground.

ACOSTA: He promised to fix FEMA saying as president the head of the agency would report to him and have real emergency experience.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job.

ACOSTA: Translation no, more brownies. Today, former FEMA chief Michael Brown says the one thing he learned from the Katrina debacle is that the agency should have a direct line to the president, something Brown claims he did not have.

MICHAEL BROWN, FMR. FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: You simply cannot have that in a crisis situation. You can't have that on the battlefield. And a disaster is like a battlefield. Somebody has to be in charge.

ACOSTA: Another Katrina veteran argues leadership is what counts.

KATHLEEN BLANCO, FMR. LOUISIANA GOVERNOR: I would hope that the next FEMA administrator is someone who has had direct experience with managing a very large disaster.

ACOSTA: A Democratic official says the names being mentioned include Florida's emergency management director, Craig Fugate.

SYLVES: You need a director that can go toe to toe with screaming governors, with governors who are saying we need help now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: And another name that's floated out is a former emergency manager in Iowa but this is just the third week of the Obama administration and officials tell us they are making progress in their search. And a Democratic official points out the cabinet secretary in charge of FEMA, Homeland Security's Janet Napolitano, did make it to Kentucky just yesterday and is promising more help for storm victims there -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Just certainly does highlight all the challenges ahead, though, doesn't it?

ACOSTA: A lot of challenges, Kiran.

CHETRY: Jim, thanks.

ACOSTA: You bet.

ROBERTS: Well, the president promising that there is not a single earmark in his economic stimulus bill but is that the truth? We are separating fact from fiction.

And disaster in a bakery. Look at this, a close call for a mother and son. He was 2 years old. They were picking up pastries. We've got the amazing video just ahead. You won't believe what happened immediately after that moment.

It's 27 and a half minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Take a look at this amazing new video from just outside of Boston.

A car crashes through the front of a bakery while a mother and her 2-year-old son were waiting on line. The impact knocked the toddler to the ground, but miraculously he only suffered a small bruise on his lip. Police say the driver of the car was an 87-year- old woman who accidentally hit the gas pedal instead of the brakes. Local television station reporting that her driver's license was revoked after the crash. Wow. Quick reaction by the mom there, too. Just about 30 minutes past the hour. And here's a check of this morning's top stories. Eight people have now reportedly been arrested for their ties to the party where Michael Phelps was photographed, apparently taking a hit from a bong. Phelps is not one of those people charged at this point. There's also word that the bong has been confiscated by the sheriff's department after its owner tried to sell it on eBay for as much as $100,000. And right now marijuana advocates are calling for a nationwide boycott of Kellogg after the company opted not to review Phelps' endorsement contract.

They're saying if you can do it for munchies pick something other than Kellogg's.

You'll soon have to dig a little deeper next time you want to mail a letter. The cost for a first class stamp will increase 2 cents to 44 cents starting on May the 11th. The U.S. postal service says the increase is necessary because of rising production costs. The good news? You'll still be able to mail letters after the May increase if you purchase forever stamps at the 42-cent rate.

And Senator John McCain putting an end to speculation that the presidential campaign might have been his political swan song. McCain announced his plans to seek re-election in an online message. The Arizona Republican says the magnitude of the financial crisis that many American families are facing makes it clear that he should continue to serve in the Senate.

CHETRY: Well, the debate is on this morning over how best to pull the economy out of a ditch. Lawmakers and the House and Senate back at the bargaining table this morning trying to iron out differences between the versions of the economic stimulus package. After hearing arguments for and against the bill, we thought it would be a good idea to separate fact from fiction, and joining us this morning from Washington to help us out with that is Bill Adair. He's a founder of politifact.com. Good morning, Bill. Great to see you.

BILL ADAIR, FOUNDER, POLITIFACT.COM: Good morning.

CHETRY: So one of the things that President Obama has been talking about as he goes around the country trying to sell this plan is that it is not, even though it's going to cost a lot of money there's not any wasteful spending in it. Let's hear what he said in Elkhart, Indiana, at the town hall yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Understand, this bill does not have a single earmark in it, which is unprecedented for a bill of this size. It does not have a single earmark in it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Not a single earmark. That sounds unbelievable for Washington. What do you say about that?

ADAIR: That one got a false on our truth-o-meter, because it is unbelievable. He's right in the sense that this bill does not have many, but there are at least a few. There's money in the latest version in the Senate version for FutureGen, a big coal plant in Illinois. There's an authorization to reimburse, to make a payment to Filipino veterans of World War II. There's some other things that we would consider reasonably to be earmarks, so this one gets a false on the truth-o-meter.

CHETRY: All right. On Monday, Barack Obama, the president, also gave his first press conference as president, and he was asked by reporter about his efforts to reach across the aisle and this is what he answered by saying "Putting three Republicans in my cabinet is unprecedented." Is it true? Have there ever been three members from an opposite party in a president's cabinet?

ADAIR: This one gets a truth on the truth-o-meter. We checked with some presidential historians and found that Obama's right. That the closest anyone has come before is two members of the opposite party. That's what Franklin Delano Roosevelt had. So a true on this one for Obama.

CHETRY: All right, and let's move on and sort of put the Republican's feet to the fire as well on this one. One of the chief complaints by Republicans about the economic stimulus is that there's a lot of spending programs that won't happen now. They're saying that a lot of the stimulus is going to take place too far away from right now to make a true difference. And in fact, Kansas Senator Pat Roberts took to the Senate floor, Thursday, he proclaimed that the "The congressional budget office estimates that only 15 percent of the stimulus package will be spent in 2009 and only 37 percent in 2010." What did the truth-o-meter say about that?

ADAIR: Truth-o-meter gave Roberts a barely true on this one. This is a really egregious case of cherry-picking. What he's done here is take the worst case scenario numbers involving the House bill and specifically just the spending portion of the House bill when he was really debating the Senate bill. Democrats have been using numbers more like 79 percent because that includes not just the spending provisions but also the tax benefits that would get into the economy, so barely true for Roberts on that one.

CHETRY: All right. That's why we love having you on, Bill, because you separate fact from fiction for us every week. Thanks so much. And thanks for being with us this morning.

ADAIR: Thanks. Thanks for having me.

CHETRY: You've never seen a reality show like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is magic. It gets you access anywhere you go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Meet the freshman. No, not college co-eds but freshman congressman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've needed a haircut for awhile. I have no time so I'm just going to run to get one real quickly, then I'm going to speak to I Have a Dream.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: What it's really like to be part of the world's most powerful legislature, ahead on the Most News in the Morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. You have never seen Congress quite like this. It's the view from two freshman lawmakers who are starring in their own Web reality show, exclusively on cnn.com. And Alina Cho is here to share with us this morning.

Good morning.

ALINA CHO, CNN GENERAL ASSIGNMENT CORRESPONDENT: What a great idea. You know, it's kind of a departure for us here at CNN but it certainly an interesting idea. It's really great to watch, guys. Good morning, everybody.

The latest reality show is right here on cnn.com. It's called freshman year. And it features not college students, but two freshman congressmen who are politically and personally polar opposites. 33- year-old Jared Polis is a Democrat from Colorado. Forty-one-year-old Jason Chaffetz a Republican from Utah. Now we've armed them with their own high definition flip cameras so that they can give viewers a behind-the-scenes look of what it's like to be a member of the world's most powerful legislative body, again from the inside as you're seeing here.

Now the series is airing on cnn.com. Both congressmen are shooting their own video for the most part. They're documenting their days and nights on Capitol Hill. And in the first installment, Polis was still learning his way around all of those underground capitol tunnels. And Chaffetz, well, he showed us his rather unusual sleeping arrangement. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: I throw this down like that, put this out like that, and the idea here is that you work late into the night, you get a few hours' sleep and I just lay down on this little cot here and get back up and go all over, that I save $1,500 a month doing it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: He actually says there's no bar in the middle, you know, so he's more comfortable than you might think. He says he's sleeping in his office, by the way, because, well, quote, "We get paid a handsome salary, but we need to save every penny like everybody else."

Polis and Chaffetz were picked specifically because they have contrasting backgrounds. Polis is the first openly gay male elected to the House as a freshman. Chaffetz is a married father of three and a Mormon.

Now you got to pick at the first installment. The second will be posted online later today. But we have the first glimpse and here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JARED POLIS (D), COLORADO: I'm just getting a quick haircut before I go speak to I Have a Dream Foundation here at Boulder. I've needed a haircut for awhile. I have no time so I'm just going to run to get one real quickly, then I'm going to speak to I Have a Dream

CHAFFETZ: Let me show you this. This scene is zoomed in right here. See this little pin right here? This is magic. It gets you access anywhere you go. As a member of Congress they give these out. That way security and other people know that you're a member of Congress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: Good stuff. You can catch the full series on cnn.com, politics page. It's supposed to be a weekly series, guys, but it kind of depends on how busy they get I suppose.

ROBERTS: I guess, yes.

CHO: You know, more on the cot, I think it's interesting. Everybody is going to be talking about that.

ROBERTS: Isn't that in some ways -- you know, at some places that would be considered squatting, you know.

CHO: Well, I think we could call it squatting, you know.

CHETRY: Where does he -- he takes a shower in the gym?

CHO: He does, in the House gym. He says it's not quite like a Gold's Gym. He pays $240 to get access to that. So unless you think he doesn't shower, or showers once a week, he does go there daily and does that.

Meanwhile, he talks about the cot and says the only downside really is the cleaning crew. He says they're very good, but they have a Zamboni-like machine, they have a horn and they use it. He also says at 12:52 a.m., during the first week, the Capitol early warning system was tested. He says it works.

ROBERTS: So another question they had, though, if he is living in his office, where does he keep his clothes? What does he do with laundry?

CHO: I mean, those are all things that are going to come out in the coming weeks, John. We're going to have to watch.

CHETRY: Yes.

CHO: Well, these are all important -- very important questions.

ROBERTS: I must say, though, that his closet is bigger than some apartments in New York City.

CHO: You're absolutely right about that.

CHETRY: Exactly.

ROBERTS: Thanks, Alina.

CHO: You bet.

ROBERTS: 42 minutes now after the hour.

The hero pilot on why flight 1549 was his calling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAPT. SULLY SULLENBERGER, PILOT: My entire life ended up being a preparation for January 15th.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: What was it like inside the cabin and heading for the Hudson?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was so quiet, you know, it was like being in the library. You know, I heard nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Uncertain and staring a river in the eye.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Brace, brace, heads down, stay down. Brace, brace, heads down, stay down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Reliving the miracle on the Hudson, ahead on the Most News in the Morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. A look into the sky over Manhattan this morning. And soon that stare will extend far into space. Scientists are working on NASA's replacement to the Hubble Space Telescope. And we've got your first look at the next generation in space technology. It's the day's "Edge of Discovery."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Hubble Space Telescope showed us galaxies, planets, even exploding stars, things we'd never seen before. In 2013, its successor will take you to infinity and beyond.

PAUL GEITHNER, JAMES WEBB SPACE PROGRAM: It's going to see that part of space and time when the very first galaxies and the very first stars collide, more than 13 billion years ago.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: Name after the man who pioneered the first moon landing, it's called the James Webb telescope or the JWT. It consists of 18 foldable mirrors, each two stories high. To protect those mirrors from the sun, the JWT is equipped with a shield the size of a tennis court, all of these giant parts will neatly fold up into the nose cone of a rocket that will blast it 1 million miles into space.

And since the JWT is too far away for repairs, scientists have designed options on board JWT so problems like the Hubble's blurry lens are less likely to happen again.

P. GEITHNER: We designed in enough adjustability that we can get it all aligned on orbit.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: So experts expect the JWT to keep us tuned in, perhaps delivering as many surprises as Hubble, maybe more.

P. GEITHNER: Whenever we look at nature with a new tool, with new capabilities, we always discover amazing things, and that's the promise of the James Webb space telescope.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: Bottoms up -- the recession triggers a bartending boom.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The worse the economy gets, the more people drink.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Your new career in cocktails.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LOLA OGUNNAIKE, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: No, I don't mean to pry, but I am a journalist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.

OGUNNAIKE: And can you give me a ballpark figure about how much you make a week? Take it like a Polaroid picture.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: You're watching the Most News in the Morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Well, it's bottoms up apparently as the economy goes down. While the financial crisis may be causing some to drink, it's also driving others to look behind the bar for a new or perhaps second career. In fact, bartender schools on both coasts are seeing their employment soar almost 20 percent. Here's CNN's Lola Ogunnaike.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The worse the economy gets, the more people drink.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're actually going to make more as a bartender probably than a financial adviser.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got about 250 resumes in one day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is about the worst I've seen out there and about the best I've seen in here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I go to my speed, and pick up what? Whiskey!

OGUNNAIKE (on camera): So, across the country, enrollment at bartender schools is up.

JOSEPH BRUNO, DIRECTOR, AMERICAN BARTENDERS SCHOOL: Yes.

OGUNNAIKE: Here business is booming, too?

BRUNO: Yes. Things have picked up enormously. We're up a third in enrollment. We are very happy to be accommodating to people that need to go to work.

OGUNNAIKE: How much can a bartender make an hour?

BRUNO: There are club bartenders that make upwards of $500 a shift.

OGUNNAIKE: $500 a shift?

BRUNO: Yes.

OGUNNAIKE: I'm in the wrong line of business.

So for two weeks and a little under $1,000, what do I walk out of here with? How many drinks will I know how to make?

BRUNO: Over 170 drinks. Bartenders leave the program, their earning wealth. So, literally, in some cases, people have left their work three days and made back the tuition. OGUNNAIKE: I don't mean to pry, but I am a journalist.

YUSUF AGUSTIN, BARTENDER: All right.

OGUNNAIKE: Can you give me a ballpark figure about how much you make a week or how much you make a year?

YUSUF: On a good week, I make about 16 to 17 a week.

OGUNNAIKE: So, you got to show me how to make some drinks.

Shake it like a Polaroid picture. Back up.

OK. Be honest, tell me what you think.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Delicious. I taste the Asian influences.

OGUNNAIKE: A little Lola love in there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can see that. I can taste that. I like it. Yes.

OGUNNAIKE: So if times ever got really tough, would you ever consider being a bartender?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely!

OGUNNAIKE: So, is there a recession cocktail?

BRUNO: A recession cocktail? Yes, tap water.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHETRY: Oh, you know you like to...

OGUNNAIKE: You got to have some little snoop (ph) in the morning goes a long way. You know what, Kiran and John? What's so interesting that some of these bartenders are doing so well -- they're not even calling themselves bartenders anymore.

ROBERTS: Mixologist.

OGUNNAIKE: Mixologists or cocktail architects. Yes, cocktail architects. How about that?

CHETRY: We have our cocktail architect in the building, right? Mr. Dave.

OGUNNAIKE: Oh, Mr. Dave. Oh, yes.

ROBERTS: Yes, absolutely.

CHETRY: He knows how to make a tequila that you really should only have one.

OGUNNAIKE: Oh, OK, good to know. ROBERTS: I was in the Atlanta airport -- about a two-hour layover and went in, and met a mixologist who was putting everything under the sun together. Most of the people he was serving to really liked it, too.

OGUNNAIKE: You know, a number of people are like, look, I need some extra money on the side or they've been laid off and they search for a job in the day, they bartend at night, flexible hours.

CHETRY: Yes. And you know what the other thing is? It is a great place to meet people and network, and so it actually can lead to other things.

OGUNNAIKE: Yes, network.

CHETRY: You know...

OGUNNAIKE: That's what they're doing -- networking.

ROBERTS: You can imagine you're going to hear a lot of hardship stories. You got to play amateur psychologists.

OGUNNAIKE: That's one of the drawbacks. A lot of people are talking about, man, I just got laid off, serve me another shot. So, yes, not so easy.

CHETRY: You can network. There's a bright side.

OGUNNAIKE: Yes, there is.

CHETRY: Lola, thanks.

OGUNNAIKE: Here's a Cosmo. Here's my resume. Thank you.

CHETRY: Fifty-three minutes after the hour.

ROBERTS: A line of killer twisters. Look at the size of this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next thing I know, the wind becomes shattering at me and hit me in the forehead and the chest.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Team coverage of the storms that tore through Oklahoma.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then the noise, the pressure was real loud.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And tore half of that house apart.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Plus, when the jet hit water.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My entire life ended up being a preparation for January 15th.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: The story you haven't heard about the miracle on the Hudson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a natural reaction. It's post traumatic shock.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, just the fear of just being so dark.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: President Obama making headlines for bringing a more casual dress code to the White House. But the president's overall fashion style is triggering dress guidelines for some African-American college students. Kent Williams Jr. is a student body president at North Carolina Central University. He said the president inspired him to start a movement on his college campus after an interview that Mr. Obama did with MTV on the campaign trail.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Brothers should pull up their pants.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just pull up their pants.

OBAMA: You know, you're walking by your mother, your grandmother and your underwear is showing. What's wrong with that? Come on. You don't have to pass a law, but that doesn't mean folks can't have some sense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Kent Williams joins me now from Durham, North Carolina to talk about his Obama dress code on campus.

Kent, it's good to see you. What was it about President Obama's remarks last November about brothers to pull up their pants that resonated with you?

KENT WILLIAMS JR., STUDENT BODY PRES., NC CENTRAL UNIVERSITY: Exactly what he said -- brothers need to pull up their pants. It's disrespectful to our women, mothers or young men, African-American, white. It doesn't matter what race you are. It's just very disrespectful, and it shows a lack of self-respect.

ROBERTS: Now, you issued some guidelines here. And you even have some information cards that we want to show people here. You have a list of dos and don'ts. Let's go with the don'ts first. First don't is -- Don't pull pants below the waist. Don't wear skirts that are too short. You also added in -- Don't show a lot of cleavage either. And don't wear pajamas to class. Why are these don'ts?

WILLIAMS: Right, because the classroom is not the club and the classroom is not your bedroom. And we don't want our students wearing pajamas and short skirts and things like that in the classroom because it draws attention to yourself. It draws attention away from the lesson and from the teacher, and also shows a lack of self-respect.

ROBERTS: And here's the list of dos. Do have good hygiene. Do wear professional dress shirts and pants. And do keep hair style conservative. You know, dress shirts and pants, is that going a little too far? What about jeans? I mean, nice jeans or, you know, a nice shirt. Doesn't have to be a dress shirt and tie.

WILLIAMS: Right. Well, the courses are business professional, business casual and what to wear on campus and not on campus. So that really goes to the professional atmosphere. We have a lot of job recruiters on our campus, employers, and they are watching what we're wearing on campus, and when you go into that interview, that person that's interviewing might remember you wearing pajamas on campus and that could be a negative impact in the professional world.

ROBERTS: Now, one thing that I found about college, and it was so long ago that I went, I barely remember any of this stuff, it was sort of a forum for free expression. And I've been to a lot of universities across the nation, and I see a lot of that as well. People like to express themselves in the way they dress, whether it be with a pair of jeans, T-shirt that's got some sort of slogan on it. What are you hearing back from the students about your dress code?

WILLIAMS: A lot of the students are well-receptive of the idea. They're ready to volunteer and get the course out there. We want -- some of the students think we're trying to change the dress code. And that's not we're trying to do. We're not trying to dictate to the students of what to wear on campus and off campus. We just want to make sure that they're thinking about their attire when they leave their dorm room and they step into the real world.

ROBERTS: Did you hear from anybody out there, Kent, who says, I'm not wearing a suit to class, what are you, kidding?

WILLIAMS: Right. And, again, we're not trying to change dress code and trying to get them to wear suits. We're just trying to make sure that they think about what they are wearing on campus. When we say suits, we say that we want them to wear the suits when we have our job fairs, career fairs on our campus.

ROBERTS: All right. And what do you think about Barack Obama not wearing a jacket in the Oval Office, just going with shirt sleeves. Is that OK with you? WILLIAMS: I think it's great. He seems very laid back, and Barack Obama makes you feel like you're one of his friends. He makes you feel very personal and, I think, that's one of the greatest things about Barack Obama.

ROBERTS: Kent Williams Jr., it's good to talk to you this morning. Thanks for being with us, and good luck with your dress guidelines.

WILLIAMS: Thank you and go Eagles.

ROBERTS: All right. Take care.