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Foreclosure Freeze; Stimulus Boondoggle; Buffalo Tragedy; Broken Borders

Aired February 13, 2009 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Suzanne. The Senate is voting on that massive spending and borrowing bill at this hour. We'll be updating you on it throughout this hour.

And tonight, finally some help for homeowners hammered by this economic crisis, a bold move by two of the country's biggest banks. They're finally showing some leadership. We'll have that story.

Also tonight, new clues in the tragic plane crash near Buffalo, New York, 50 people were killed in the crash. We'll be going live to the scene of that tragedy.

Also tonight, the utter failure of the federal government agency in charge of protecting all of us from the dangerous food in this country, what's going on at the Food and Drug Administration? We'll have a special report, all of that, all the day's news and much more straight ahead here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Friday, February 13th. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. Tonight, two of the nation's largest banks stepping in to help homeowners, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup both promising to freeze foreclosures temporarily, at least until the Treasury Department can come up with a new plan to help homeowners.

At the same time Congress today rushing through the president's massive stimulus package, again, not a single House Republican voting for the measure. The Senate is voting on the same legislation at this hour. And we begin our coverage tonight with Kitty Pilgrim and this new help from the banks for homeowners.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Finally, a flicker of hope for homeowners. JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup are halting new foreclosures on homes for at least the next three weeks while the Obama administration works on the details of a new mortgage plan. The announcement comes just days after hearings and harsh criticism on Capitol Hill. Chairman of the Financial Services Committee, Barney Frank, called on the nation's largest lenders to help until the Obama administration comes up with the new plan.

REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), FINANCIAL SERVICES CHMN.: I urge you, and I urge everybody who is in this business, to withhold foreclosure until we get Mr. Geithner's program.

PILGRIM: The head of JPMorgan Chase answered in writing, James Dimon (ph) in a letter to the House Financial Services Committee saying, "We believe three weeks is adequate time for the Treasury to announce and for us to implement a new plan." This will be the second time JPMorgan Chase has halted foreclosures.

It first froze 80,000 loans from foreclosure on October 31st for 90 details. The bank says since early 2007 they've helped prevent 330,000 foreclosures. JPMorgan Chase services $1.5 trillion worth of loans to 10 million customers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We believe it is the right approach to the consumer and for the stability of our financial system as a whole.

PILGRIM: Citigroup which has received $45 billion in TARP relief testified that it, too, has helped homeowners.

VIKRAM PANDIT, CITIGROUP CEO: We have worked successfully with approximately 440,000 homeowners to help them avoid foreclosures.

PILGRIM: The White House is promising a financial rescue package for homeowners next week. It applauds the bank's action.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: What they've done is consistent with what the president believes is at least part of something that would be likely seen in a housing policy that protects the American people.

PILGRIM: The Treasury's previous plan has been an abysmal failure. The Bush administration's hope for homeowners program promised relief for 400,000 homeowners, but in six months has only modified loans for 35 homeowners.


PILGRIM: Now the White House press secretary today emphasized the president's plan next week is not going to be calculated to please the financial markets, he said, rather, he said, it will be a long- term plan to keep millions of Americans in their homes, but Lou, you know the banks have really stepped forward. JPMorgan Chase promised $70 billion in loan modifications over the next two years.

DOBBS: It is good to see JPMorgan Chase taking the lead here without, well, long before this new administration taking office. It's nice to see Citigroup step up now. And some other banks across the country. I'm not sure I understand exactly what the Obama administration is trying to say. They don't care whether they please the markets or not.

This group of people better figure out, led by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, they better start pleasing some markets and start taking care of some people right now.


DOBBS: We're supposed to hear from this administration on its plan by, what is it, next Wednesday, right?

PILGRIM: Next Wednesday, that's right.

DOBBS: Super. Kitty, thank you very much.

President Obama is expected to sign that massive stimulus legislation as soon as Monday. President Obama left the White House with his family today for a weekend in Chicago. But the White House still faces tough questions about the president's promises of transparency and the promise of giving lawmakers time to actually read this legislation that they're voting on.


GIBBS: Obviously the president hopes for greater openness and transparency in government. Whether it's the transparency that's part of this bill or transparency that's part of conference committees, whether that transparency -- obviously there's a lot of things that he believes can be improved.


DOBBS: Well, one hopes so, because this president as a candidate for president promised precisely that and as a result of that promise, this -- to this point, no transparency, no public scrutiny of the conference committees of -- so a long ways to go as his press secretary tried to finesse that without much finesse.

Transparency, openness and bipartisanship thrown out today as the Democratic leadership in Congress succeeded in ramming the so-called recovery package through, seven House Democrats this time, all of the House Republicans voting against the measure. Apparently House Speaker Nancy Pelosi more concerned with catching her flight and making certain some members had time to read the critical legislation. The Senate voting on the measure right now, they haven't read it either. Our congressional correspondent Dana Bash with the report from Capitol Hill.


DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Democrats are delivering President Obama's economic plan with the warp speed that he demanded, but that meant little time for lawmakers to actually review it.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: I don't know how you could read 1,100 pages between midnight and now. Not one member has read this.

BASH: Across the Capitol lawmakers and staff pored through pounds of paper. Trying to determine exactly what's in the bill before approving an unprecedented $787 billion. What's at the heart of those 1,000-plus pages are some $280 billion in tax cuts and more than $500 billion in government spending. Supporters insist the goal of this economic plan is simple.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jobs, jobs, jobs.

BASH: First, for people who don't have jobs, here's what's in it, $24.7 billion to subsidize health insurance for nine months for most laid off workers; up to 33 weeks of extended unemployment benefits; and an additional $25 a week. But creating jobs is what Democrats insist the hundreds of billions in spending will do by investing in infrastructure projects like energy-efficient buildings, roads, bridges and mass transit.

For example, $27.5 billion for highways; $1.1 billion for airports that prove they can start construction work now; $8 billion for high-speed rail, a big funding boost thanks to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada who's pushing for a grant to build a train from Las Vegas to southern California. But there are also programs like $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, which critics argue will not stimulate the economy.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R), MINORITY WHIP: This bill is loaded with wasteful deficit spending on the majority's favorite government programs. We need jobs, not mountains of debt to be paid by our children. We can do better.


BASH: Now, the House did approve the economic stimulus bill earlier today with all Democratic votes. And if you take a look at the Senate floor, they are actually in the middle of voting on this as we speak. It looks pretty empty and that is because this vote started about an hour and a half ago. Most senators have already voted.

But the reason that this is happening and in fact it is going to happen until 10:30 tonight, Lou, is because Democrats have just enough votes to pass this and one Democratic senator they need, Senator Sherrod Brown (ph) of Ohio, he's back home in Ohio. He's attending his mother's wake. But they need him so badly, the White House arranged for a government plane to fly him back and we expect him back here about 10:30 p.m. Eastern in order to cast what we expect to be the 60th vote.

DOBBS: And Evan Bayh has voted now?

BASH: That's right. Just as we were in that piece, I saw Evan Bayh walk on to that empty Senate floor and he voted, so I believe right now we're up to 59, 60 is needed to pass it. And again, Senator Sherrod Brown (ph) of Ohio, he's the one we're waiting for.

DOBBS: Yes and a lot of this is and let's be very candid about it -- by the way, here is the little darling, the stimulus bill that no one has read on that floor that you're showing there, the Senate floor nor on the House floor. I mean we're talking about almost 1,100 pages here, Dana. And part of the drama here, you were talking about the $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, that was taken out because amongst others, Senator Chuck Schumer who had made that little cute crack about American voters don't care about little tiny, porky amendments, he got screwed up apparently and voted for something that he didn't understand, which was to take out that $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts. Also, you know, I mean it's remarkable what's going on in this process right here.

BASH: Well maybe this speaks to your point, Lou, one of our producers was looking for that, because I wanted to make sure that that was in it before I put it in the piece. And she found it in the bill that was online. But again, that really does speak to your point because there are so many places where you saw something that was typewritten. And this is in the bill that was put online and you saw it hand crossed out, you know a change in the percentages or a change in the dollars, you know $1 million here, $1 million there. It really adds up and it really does...


BASH: ... explain how tough this has been for them and how this has been changing really by the hour. That -- this didn't go online until 11:00 last night, Lou.

DOBBS: Yes and I understand that the lobbyists have copies of this 1,100 -- almost 1,100 pages well before our elected officials there on Capitol Hill. Maybe that's as it should be. The people who are actually reading the legislation should get it first, I would think. How about you, Dana? No, I know I can't ask you that. Dana thanks a lot. I appreciate it.

BASH: Thank you.

DOBBS: Dana Bash reporting from Capitol Hill.

Well we'd like to know -- you know this is very comfortable. This weighs a lot, my gosh. I mean, this is almost 1,100 pages. We'd like to know what you think about this little beauty. Here's the poll tonight. Do you believe our economic stimulus package will stimulate an economic recovery this year? We'd like you to give us your best judgment, yes or no. Cast your vote at We will as always have the results here later.

Well coming up next, a verdict is near in the case of a landowner sued by a group of illegal aliens. And new clues tonight into what caused the deadly crash of that commuter aircraft near Buffalo, New York. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Some important clues have already surfaced into the deadly crash of flight 3407. The Continental connection flight crashing into a house just minutes away from landing in Buffalo, 50 people were killed. Deborah Feyerick has our report.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The plane was nearing the Buffalo airport. The pilot had lowered the landing gear and activated the wing flaps. That's when the problem began. An early analysis of the flight data recorder shows the plane began to pitch and roll. STEVE CHEALANDER, NTSB: Pitch and roll being pitch up and down of the airplane, and roll in this way. And then shortly after that the crew attempted to raise the gear and flaps just before the end of the recording.

FEYERICK: Controllers then lost sight of the plane on radar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Colgan 3407, Buffalo Tower, how do you hear?

FEYERICK: On the ground, people knew something was wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We see planes, hear planes going over all the time. So as the plane was going over you knew something was wrong.

FEYERICK: So it was stuttering really?

DAVID HARTZELL, WITNESS: Absolutely (INAUDIBLE) just like that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It sounded like something was like starting to grow, like starting to get stuck in there. And it just started hitting against it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You had the feeling it was going to come right down on you. And then all of a sudden it stopped, absolute silence for a few seconds and then the explosion.

FEYERICK: Witnesses say flames shot 50 feet in the air, consuming everything.

DAVID LUCE, WITNESS: The house was gone. That was probably no more than, you know a minute and a half or two minutes. When you looked at the site, it was pretty clear that it was unlikely that anybody had survived. It was just an immediate fireball.

FEYERICK: People ran from their homes, desperate to help.

JAIMEE LYNN TRUJILLO, WITNESS: The whole part of the plane -- that it was just -- you could see some parts to it, and then it would engulf in flames. And at that point I heard a woman screaming. I turned behind me because I heard a woman screaming, that's my house, that's my house. I turned around and she was bare foot and this couple behind her was holding her up because she fell to the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of my friends has got an FAA controller and he said when a plane hits it virtually disintegrates. And he was right, there was just nothing left.


FEYERICK: And federal investigators were at the scene of the crash all day today. They were there for evidence recovery, trying to piece together whatever remains of the plane to help them in their investigation, the Medical Examiner's Office also on scene. They're there to recover the victims. Lou?

DOBBS: Deborah, there's a lot of information now into the cause of this crash. It hasn't been 24 hours, that in and of itself is unusual, the latest as to the cause in terms of the Air Traffic Safety Board investigation?

FEYERICK: Well, absolutely. And, you know, it really is remarkable, Lou, because one of the main things in this investigation, there weren't a lot of pieces of this plane, but one of the pieces that did survive was the tail. And it's in the tail that the recorders, both the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder are located. So investigators were able to get that, fly it down to Washington, and really, within a matter of hours, by mid afternoon they could begin to piece together what was happening.

But they don't know whether if ice, they don't know whether there was some mechanical failure involving the gears and the wing flaps, all of it probably worked together. But again, this is something they said here we are, we're going to put the facts out there. But right now just way too early to tell you exactly what they mean.

DOBBS: Absolutely. Deborah, thank you very much. Deborah Feyerick, thank you very much.

Tonight in London, a British Airways flight crash-landed while it was coming into London City Airport. Investigators there say Flight 146 from Amsterdam was landing when its front landing gear failed. All 72 people aboard were evacuated safely. Two people were injured.

Up next here, the more you read the more pork you find. No wonder Congress is trying to ram this stimulus package through before most Americans can find out what's in it. We'll have a special report on why neither the House nor the Senate reads a $1 trillion piece of legislation before voting for it or against it.

And an Arizona rancher is on trial, sued by illegal aliens because he apprehended them on his property. We'll have that report here next.


DOBBS: An amazing development in Phoenix, Arizona. A federal judge there has refused to recuse herself in a class action lawsuit against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, even though the judge's twin sister has been waging a very public campaign against the sheriff. Judge Mary Mergia (ph) has cleared the way in her ruling for the ACLU to go to trial in what it calls a racial profiling against the sheriff, but the judge's decision is raising a lot of questions about conflict of interest because it turns out the judge's twin sister is none other than Janet Mergia (ph), the head of the biggest open borders amnesty group in the country.

The group is La Raza (ph) -- La Raza (ph) or the race is long pressed for an official investigation of Sheriff Arpaio and is in the middle of a campaign to stop what it calls the sheriff's madness. Sheriff Arpaio, his attorneys apparently didn't find out that Janet and Mary were sisters until the day of the judge's ruling, so there we are. OK, well the fate of an Arizona rancher tonight is in the hands of a federal jury. Roger Barnett sued by a group of illegal aliens, he was charged with violating their civil rights after he detained them at gunpoint after they trespassed on his property. Casey Wian with our report.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In 2004 Arizona rancher Roger Barnett encountered a group of illegal aliens on his property near the Mexican border. In a civil lawsuit bankrolled by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, he's accused of holding them at gunpoint and threatening to shoot anyone who fled, as well as battery, civil rights violations, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Arizona law says a property owner quote "is justified in threatening to use deadly physical force against another when and to the extent that a reasonable person would believe it immediately necessary to prevent or terminate the commission or attempted commission of a criminal trespass by the other person in or upon the premises". Criminal trespass is exactly what Barnett says has happened thousands of times on his Arizona ranch.

He says illegal aliens have littered his property with trash that's dangerous to livestock, cut fences allowing cattle to escape, and destroyed water tanks. A Border Patrol agent testifying in the case confirmed Barnett turned over illegal aliens to the Border Patrol too many times to count. But the lawyers for the illegal alien is now suing Barnett for potentially millions of dollars in damages say they posed no threat.

Barnett went quote "overboard." They claim he kicked one woman, used ethnic epithets and engaged in a conspiracy to hunt illegal aliens both on and off his property. This week Barnett's brother and wife were dropped from the lawsuit because they were not present when he first encountered the illegal aliens. Ten of the 16 plaintiffs were also dropped because they would not testify in the case.


WIAN: After nine days of testimony, jurors began deliberations. Today they just ended those deliberations without reaching a verdict. Lou?

DOBBS: Casey, I mean this is remarkable two-thirds of the plaintiffs have dropped out and obviously MALDEF went around and rounded them up in Mexico as I understand it and dropped two of the defendants. This is a peculiar case at best. It's ostensibly brought by illegal aliens, but it's really about MALDEF, isn't it?

WIAN: Yes, it really is, and it's about their efforts to stop who they call a vigilante, a private property owner down here on the border in Arizona. MALDEF has been very clear throughout this case, which has gone on for five years now, that they want to stop this type of activity, armed ranchers and homeowners protecting their property against illegal aliens who in many cases go through that property, destroy it, leave trash, damage livestock.

And the property owners say that they need to be armed because many of the people who are crossing their property are armed drug smugglers. So when they encounter these groups, they need to be armed for their own protection. And that is in accordance, that is legal under Arizona law. What the MALDEF attorneys are saying is that Mr. Barnett stepped beyond the bounds of that law, because these folks allegedly posed no threat to Mr. Barnett.

DOBBS: And one wonders how MALDEF would know that. But that, as it may be, in Arizona there is, as you point out, a law there that permits the use of a gun in defense of your property when it's being trespassed upon. What does the legal community there suggest will be the outcome of this case in their best guess?

WIAN: You know, Lou, I haven't been able to speak to anyone in the legal community here. But I have been speaking to people who are tangently (ph) involved in this case, supporters of both sides. I will tell you that Roger Barnett supporters are very encouraged by what they've heard during these deliberations.

DOBBS: All right. Well Casey, thank you very much. Casey Wian reporting.

Time now for some of your thoughts. Lloyd in California e-mailed us and said, "Lou, great work on our border issues. This man in Arizona had every right to defend his property."

Lincoln in Indiana, "The rancher in Arizona is protecting his property. He didn't violate anyone's civil rights. They were there illegally. The lawyer and judge that allowed this case should be disbarred."

Dianne in North Carolina said, "Lou, why is it that we'll send our troops anywhere in the world to protect people, but we will not defend our own citizens who live on our own borders?" You make a wonderful point.

And the fact is, if we had secured that border, this case would not be going forward, period. We can also thank goodness or thank God, as you wish, for the Second Amendment, because otherwise a lot of folks would be in a lot of trouble in this country.

We love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts to

Up next, outrage in Congress tonight over the massive borrowing and spending bill. Some lawmakers call it stimulus, so does the president. Now there's an accusation that some in Congress have been using dirty tricks. We'll be talking about that with our guests here next.

And calls for a complete overhaul of the FDA. We've been doing that on this broadcast for years, but this has been an agency so broken it can't begin to fulfill its obligation to the American people. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Former President Bill Clinton today speaking out on balance in the media and calling back the Fairness Doctrine, the former president talking with radio talk show host Mario Solis Marsh (ph).


VOICE OF BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well you either ought to have the Fairness Doctrine or we ought to have more balance on the other side. Because essentially, there's always been a lot of big money to support the right-wing talk shows. And let's face it, you know Rush Limbaugh is fairly entertaining, even when he's saying things that I think are ridiculous.


DOBBS: Now, the former president calling for the Fairness Doctrine would only imply, of course, to broadcasters. It's interesting he's not calling for fairness or a Fairness Doctrine for "The New York Times," "The Washington Post", the "L.A. Times," or ABC News, CBS News, NBC News. Isn't that odd that he would only be interested in so-called fairness for radio?

Obviously as a radio talk show host, as an American citizen, as a journalist, you know I think the former president is out of his cotton picking mind and needs to go away on this issue and the sooner the better. This idea that the government would decide what is balanced broadcast and fair broadcasting is purely a censorship doctrine. There is no other way to look at it. Purely a censorship document and hopefully we won't get to a point that we'll have a central command economy and nation, anytime soon.

President Obama this week praising the CEO of Caterpillar for saying the stimulus package will allow Caterpillar to rehire 20,000 laid-off workers. The president, yesterday, assured workers at a Caterpillar plant in Peoria, Illinois, that laid-off workers would quickly benefit from the so-called stimulus plan.


BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: And I'm not the only one who thinks so. Yesterday Jim, the head of Caterpillar, said that if Congress passes our plan, this company will be able to rehire some of the folks who were just laid off. And that's a story I'm confident will be repeated at companies across the country.


DOBBS: Now, we're not sure quite what happened, but it wasn't but a short time later at the very same event, the fellow, Jim, that's Jim Owens, CEO of Caterpillar, and a member of the president's economic advisory committee, flatly contradicted President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JIM OWENS, CHMN & CEO, CATERPILLAR: To be honest, reality is we'll probably have to have more layoffs before we start hiring again. It's going to take awhile before the stimulus package kicks in.


DOBBS: Owens is also a strong opponent of any buy America provisions designed to help American workers keep their jobs. What an adviser.

Well, my next guest says he didn't vote for the president's massive stimulus package because it's loaded with pork, it violated House rules, requiring 48 hours to actually read the legislation. Joining me now, Congressman John Culberson.

Congressman, good to have you with us. Why in the world -- let me bring this thing out again. I mean, I just love lifting this thing and thinking about the fact that not one of you in Congress, Republican or Democrat, has read almost 1,100 pages of this sucker. I mean, what in the world is going on down there?

REP JOHN CULBERSON (R), TEXAS: Lou, there's no way that any human being could possibly read this, 1,500-page document, which was only posted on the Internet...

DOBBS: I'm going to put mine higher than you, Congressman. We're going to go higher and higher.

CULBERSON: Let me let you hear this thing, Lou. That's 1,500 pages, spending $800 billion. The biggest spending bill in the history of the United States, which means it's the biggest in the history of the world, Lou. And it was only put up on the Internet last night.

DOBBS: It makes you proud to be an American, doesn't it? The biggest one ever.

CULBERSON: Lou, it is a, frankly, disgrace, that we are mortgaging our future. This is like paying off your mortgage with a credit card. These guys are running up...

DOBBS: Well, I got to raise my hand, Congressman. By the way, I agree with you. But it was your party, your president that doubled the size of government over the course of two terms, spending, rising over six percent per year, the national debt -- well, at least measured by the national debt doubling in the size of government. I mean, now, I love the fact that you got -- that you got religion here. But, my gosh, we're in such a mess, where does it end?

CULBERSON: Well, Lou, you're talking, as you know, to a true conservative. You and I worked together to free Ramos and Compean, secure the border, voted against the Medicare prescription drug bill, I voted against both farm bill, I voted against all these big spending bills proposed by the Bush administration.

That's why Republicans lost the majority is we lost our way and forgot that we're here to control the size of government, get the government out of the way, out of our pockets and free the American people to do what they do best, and that's create jobs and create wealth.

DOBBS: Well, there's another reason, I think, too. I mean, you dare also to make sure that (INAUDIBLE) and thieves on Wall Street don't run rampant, and basically enrich themselves at the expense of this great nation, its ideals, its values.

CULBERSON: That's true. That's why I didn't vote for the bailout.

DOBBS: But I didn't see the Republican Party present and performing their duty when it comes to those responsibilities over the course of the last eight years, Congressman.

CULBERSON: Lou, that's true. Which is why I voted against the bailouts, as well. You know, you're talking to a true-blue conservative here, Lou.

DOBBS: No, no, I know who I'm talking with, and I give you all the credit in the world. But, you're also a Republican, and I don't think we can sit here and just talk about this thing as if the Republican Party doesn't have great responsibility for what has happened.

CULBERSON: No question.

DOBBS: I admire the fact that you are holding the line, but man, it's a heck of a line to hold, isn't it?

CULBERSON: We lost the majority, Lou, for just those reasons. Republicans lost their way. Our majority lost sight of the fact of why our constituents sent us here to protect the Treasury and protect our kids from this debt, Lou. But, the ones that survived the election, we got religion, Lou. We understand. My motto and my re- election campaign was "Culberson keeps his word." And that's what the constituents expect of us.

DOBBS: Let me ask you this. You do support the extension of unemployment benefits that is contained in here, do you not?

CULBERSON: Well, in an environment like this, Lou, you simply have to extend unemployment benefits at a time when people are suffering like this.

DOBBS: Food stamps, another $25 billion, for a lot of folks who are hurting. You support that, right?

CULBERSON: Lou, this bill contains so many awful things...

DOBBS: Oh, but I'm not -- that's not one of them, is it?

CULBERSON: Well, let me tell you...

DOBBS: We also got 20 million people hurting. CULBERSON: Absolutely. You got people that are out of work and they really don't have any other recourse. Texas is blessed. Houston economy is blesses. But there's parts of the country where the economy is just crashed and those folks are really having a hard time finding work because there's not much work to be had.

DOBBS: Well, Congressman, I'm sorry, we're out of time. I apologize. It's always good to have you here. Keep up the good work.


DOBBS: The problem is, you've got about 800 -- well, it's going to be -- the Heritage foundation said it will cost over $3 trillion, this little item. But the fact is, there are elements in here, the heck of it is, there's some elements, including food stamps, extension of those unemployment benefits that are critically necessary. The fact that there is at least, at least $200 billion in pork in this mess is a national disgrace.

CULBERSON: It's a terrible shame, Lou. I want to quickly say again, thank you for your help in freeing Ramos and Compean.

DOBBS: Well, I wish I could believe I did anything, but I appreciate the thought, anyway.

CULBERSON: You did a lot. Thank you.

DOBBS: Thank you.

Up next, more of those tiny porky amendments, as Senator Schumer put it, coming to light in this -- I love just pounding this piece of legislation. We'll have a special report. And new developments in the nation's deadly salmonella outbreak as the FDA's leadership, again, shows their total inability to protect you and me and our fellow citizens from dangerous foods. That story is next. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Well, the company at the center of a deadly salmonella outbreak tonight has filed for bankruptcy. Peanut Corporation of America filing for bankruptcy just days after the president of the company refused to answer questions on Capitol Hill. Tonight, lawmakers are calling for a complete overhaul of this country's utterly broken food safety system. Louise Schiavone has our report.


LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Across the nation at least nine families are in mourning, like the Tousignant's of Minneapolis, and many more are suffering. Six- hundred, thirty-seven people are known to have been poisoned by the salmonella strain associated with the now bankrupt Peanut Corporation of America. Where was the Food and Drug Administration?

REP DIANA DEGETTE (D), COLORADO: Our food safety system in this country is pretty much broken from top to bottom. And so we need a massive overall of that system.

SCHIAVONE: As far back as 2004, the FDA itself expressed these concerns about good manufacturing processes: "Deficient employee training, contamination of raw materials, poor plant and equipment sanitation, and poor plant design and construction."

Still, the FDA farmed out plant inspections to state agencies earning little respect, says this critic, from the parties they've regulated.

TONY CORBO, FOOD AND WATER WATCH: The fact that the company president last month was urging FDA to speed up their investigation so that he could start selling his peanut products again because it was costing him money, indicates to me he was not afraid of the FDA...

SCHIAVONE: The FDA tells CNN it's been working on recalls and a campaign to alert the public to the dangers in the outbreak, stating, "Over the last year and a half, the FDA has launched significant new initiatives aimed at preventing as well as reacting to foodborne illnesses. We look forward to working with the president and Congress to make our food even safer."

This West Coast law firm says it has dozens of personal injury cases showing that the FDA has failed to protect the public.

DENIS STEARNS, PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER: If an agency can't at least do that, then frankly, maybe we should abolish the agencies and let the companies fend for themselves and let us lawyers at them.


SCHIAVONE (on camera): Lou, the effort to overhaul FDA in this Congress with the support of this president is bipartisan. And the FDA is telling us tonight it, too, is serious about change - Lou.

DOBBS: Well, you know, I can -- given the gravity of this, to hear an attorney just say get rid of the FDA and let the lawyers at it, letting the lawyers after a Peanut Corporation of America in bankruptcy, that's not going to solve one -- that's not going to bring one person back to life, it's not going to protect a single American. And the fact that the Bush administration permitted the budgets of the FDA to be just absolutely carved up, the staff to be carved up, over the course of those two terms, to the detriment of the safety of the American people is unforgivable. This administration has an opportunity to do something right, this Congress. Are they going to do something?

SCHIAVONE: Well, Lou, as we've reported, it's not just the Bush administration, it is the Food and Drug Administration from the inside out. People who have looked at the FDA, people who have worked...

DOBBS: Louise, excuse me, I don't think I was clear. Is there any indication that this administration is going to do anything?

SCHIAVONE: Yes. President Obama has said in interviews that he wants to see the FDA overhauled and as we've discussed earlier this week, he says his daughter eats peanut butter sandwiches three times a week. He's horrified he's got to worry about it, as we all are.

DOBBS: Absolutely. Louise, thank you very much. Louise Schiavone, who has been reporting on the FDA from the outset through what has been a travail of years.

Thank you, Louise.

Up next, I'll be joined by a House Democrat who broke party lines. And we'll have many more examples of pork in the stimulus package a special report is next. Stay with us.


DOBBS: The Senate, this hour, while voting to pass the massive 1,100-page stimulus bill, right here, they can't tell you what's in the legislation they're voting for. Tonight we're focusing some of the more, well, we're going to focus on a few of the so-called pesky, tiny, pesky porky amendments, as -- something like that, that Chuck Schumer said. Schumer has a lot of problems tonight and I'll tell you more about them in just a moment. First, Ines Ferre with our report.


INES FERRE, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When the House and Senate bills merged, some provisions ended up with less money, some with more, and some disappeared altogether. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the bill would create jobs.

NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER: New jobs in an economy transformed by this legislation's new investments in health, education, science, innovation, and in clean, efficient American energy.

FERRE: But critics say the bill includes a list of wasteful spending, like $1.3 billion for Amtrak, almost as much as Amtrak's entire appropriation last year; $8 billion for high-speed passenger rail. The House didn't include any funding for the program, the Senate included $2 billion thanks to a push by Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada.

His opponents say much mass transit spending will create jobs and help the environment. The fund is likely to include one project linking Las Vegas to Los Angeles.

REP JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: When you look at some of the spending of this bill, it will do nothing about creating jobs in America. Tell me how spending $8 billion in this bill to have a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and Las Vegas is going to help the construction worker in my district.

FERRE: Also in the bill, $140 million for the U.S. Geological Survey for maintain systems to monitor seismic activity in volcanoes. Supporters say it will boost efforts to anticipate eruptions and earthquakes. Critics say that kind of spending belongs in an appropriations bill. Another $50 million is for the national endowment for the arts. That had been taken out of the Senate version, but was revived in the final one. Adding everything together, here's how the bill stacks up, of the $790 billion, 39 percent is for discretionary spending, such as the projects mentioned. Thirty-four percent is mandatory spending on such things as extending unemployment benefits and health insurance and 27 percent is for extending an increasing tax breaks.


FERRE: And this $790 billion doesn't take into account interest. Republicans were saying today that if you add that, it comes to about $1.1 trillion - Lou.

DOBBS: And the Heritage Foundation projecting this out over 10 years, this thing costs over $3 trillion. If I may do this just one, because I'm overcome with emotion.

FERRE: Certainly.

DOBBS: I just want to say thank you to China, to the European Union, and Japan, for loaning the United States this money so that we will have enough money to give them money to the stimulus legislation, and we promise to send as much of this in interest back to you as we possibly can. But isn't that nice of them to do that, to loan us that money for this stimulus package? It will stimulate all sorts of things, probably in their economies.

FERRE: Well, and one of the things that critics are saying, is, look, a lot of these provisions, they're not labeled earmarked, but you can tell by the spending, that there's a special push for these, that this is going towards special...

DOBBS: As you point out, when President Obama says there are no earmarks, there's no pork, one has to strain very hard to find this to be change you can believe in. I think he's at the very -- let me be very generous here, he is misstating the case when he says there are no earmarks or pork.

You enumerated a number. We've enumerated a number of others over the course of the past two weeks. It's a mess. It's about $200 billion is the projection. The pork that's contained in this. About 300, a little less than $300 billion in tax cuts and just about $300 billion in spending. It's remarkable. And no one's read it. Thank you very much, Ines Ferre.

DOBBS: As we reported, speaker Pelosi made sure to include tens of billions of dollars for one of her pet projects in this so-called stimulus bill, a bill that wasn't supposed to include, as Ines Ferre reported, pork barrel or earmarks. Congressman Steve King had a little fun with the speaker and when he called her "pet project."


REP STEVE KING (R), IOWA: a Sand Mouse, it's a mouse that Nancy Pelosi has been seeking to create habitat for, for sometime. It's her pet project, this pet mouse. The Salt Marsh Mouse was San Franciscolians (ph), not a Monk Mouse, has a earmark in him and it's a $30 million notch bunched in there...


DOBBS: Well, at least -- whatever. If they're not going to spend much time reading it, they might as well have a little fun with it and good job, Congressman.

My next guest, one of seven House Democrats who voted against this package. Package? This is a package. I mean, look at the size of this. Did I mention how big this thing is: 1,075 pages plus stuff that's being added? Congressman Walt Minnick says the size of this bill will have unextending consequences saddling future generations with massive debt. Congressman Minnick joins us now from Capitol Hill.

Congressman, great to have you here.

REP WALT MINNICK (D), IDAHO: Nice to be here. Thank you.

DOBBS: You decided to break with your party on this legislation. What is your principal objection to what is a highly objectionable piece of legislation, no matter, it seems to me, if you're at all reasonable, but your principal objection?

MINNICK: Well, I've only been a Congressman for a short time. But I've been a businessman all my life and if you're going to be spending money, you have to borrow from somebody else, it needs to be very cost effectively spent and focused on the purpose, in this case it was job creation. This bill is costing us better than $250,000 per job created and most won't even be spent in the next 18 months.

DOBBS: Now, it is crazy. I mean, if the president wants to create some job, let's go for a real fancy job, you know, go above the average which is just a little over $35,000 a year in pay, Congressman. I mean you could -- how much money did you figure you could spend on this, $250,000 a person?

MINNICK: Well, it's somewhere between $250,000 and $300,000. We didn't get a chance to calibrate that last night because I had a bourbon and went to bed about 10:30 and I confess I didn't read every line.

DOBBS: Well, I just want to, personally, I just want to compliment you for being honest about it. Senator Frank Lautenberg, also a Democrat of New Jersey, he said, he admitted no one's reading this thing. We've been saying throughout that no one is going to read this monster.

Everyone has abandoned common sense here, it seems, in Washington, D.C. we -- I'll be honest with you, it looks to me like as a nation we're going through some sort of psychotic fit and it's best exemplified by some of your colleagues in Congress. You must feel like a stranger in a strange land, right now. You're being reasonable, thorough and honest. Are you getting a little uncomfortable and lonely?

MINNICK: Well, you know, we've got to do something because the country is in danger of falling into a depression like the '30s, but when you're dealing with borrowed money, you want to be careful with it and that's not a Republican or a Democratic problem, that's common sense and I represent a conservative state and I'm just trying to do what the people that sent me here want me to do, regardless of if it's Republican or a Democratic issue. That's silly.

DOBBS: Yeah, you're a Democrat, breaking with your party on the issue. You're a Blue Dog Democrat. There 40 some-odd, what is it, about 48 Democrats are in the Blue Dogs, now? Something like that?

MINNICK: About 50.

DOBBS: About 50. Seven of you actually voting against it. I don't know what's going on with the other Blue Dogs. They must not be that blue or that doggy to pass this kind of legislation. What's going on?

MINNICK: Well, we debated at some length over last weekend and some people -- everybody wants the president to succeed. I mean, he's the president of all people and we'd like...

DOBBS: Absolutely.

MINNICK: jobs for people in our districts and it was a hard decision for a lot of folks and some of us decided we just couldn't stomach something that was this big and this cost-ineffective in terms of doing what it's supposed to do, which is create jobs now. And others decided that -- to go with the president. Hard decision.

DOBBS: Congressman, I know it was. And you know, the good news, as I said earlier, at least there's relief here for the unemployed, there is relief here for some of the folks who are being really devastated in food stamp program. But there is so much -- your objections are at the very least understandable, and we thank you.

Congressman Minnick, thanks.

Coming up at the top of the hour, CAMPBELL BROWN: NO BIAS, NO BULL.

What are you working on - Campbell.


We've got breaking news tonight from the scene of that deadly plane crash near Buffalo, New York. We're getting new information about what may have caused the disaster. And tonight, you will also hear an incredible story of survival from one of the two people to escape the burning debris.

Also tonight, President Obama's massive plan to rescue the economy is much closer to becoming law, Senate voting now, coming up, we're going to break it all down, what's it in for you -- Lou.

DOBBS: Campbell, thank you. We'll be right back. Stay with us.


DOBBS: In "Heroes" tonight, Navy Commander Lenora Langlais, a military nurse for more than 20 years. Commander Langlais earned a Purple Heart for her service. Philippa Holland has her story.


PHILIPPA HOLLAND, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As a senior Naval officer, Commander Lenora Langlais didn't have to deploy to Iraq, but a conversation with a junior sailor changed her life.

COMMANDER LENORA LANGLAIS, US NAVY NURSE CORPS: He said, Commander, have you deployed? And that was a moment of just paralyzization that I had yet to deploy and I had no idea where I was sending my sailors. So, I wanted to be able to identify with that.

HOLLAND: She volunteered to serve in Iraq, leaving behind her husband and five children. She was a senior combat nurse at Camp Taqaddum on the outskirts of Fallujah. Though her vast nursing experience served her well in a war zone, Langlais was surprised by what she learned.

LANGLAIS: I hadn't seen combat injuries, so I learned quickly that my skills, although very important, were even at a point of development of its own.

HOLLAND: The nurse became the patient on April 7, 2006, when her base came under attack. Langlais was hit in the neck by shrapnel from a mortar.

LANGLAIS: I knew that whatever it was, it was bad and I was going to end up going to the O.R. and be a patient of my team that I had just trained.

HOLLAND: Langlais was in surgery for 2-1/2 hours to repair a laceration in her neck that severed three facial nerves. Only hours after her surgery, she was back on duty.

LANGLAIS: We had, unfortunately, a young Marine who was receiving medications that started to have a reaction, so at 10:00 I was up, six hours later, it was after major surgery, and giving care.

HOLLAND: Langlais could have come home early because of her wounds, but she refused and stayed in Iraq for several months.

DANIEL LANGLAIS, HUSBAND: The only way that she was going to come home, pretty much, is if somebody told her that you had to come home, you have to leave. And so, she stayed there and I think fortunate for the troops that were there, for the care that she continued to give to the troops.


DOBS: Commander Langlais now works as a recruiter for the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps. We'd like to thank her and all of our servicemen and women for their service to this country.

Tonight's poll results: 79 percent of you said the economic stimulus package will not stimulate and economic recovery this year. I hope you're absolutely wrong.

Thanks for being with us tonight. Join us tomorrow. For all of us, thanks for watching. Goodnight from New York.

CAMPBELL BROWN: NO BIAS, NO BULL, starts right now -- Campbell.