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President Obama Plans For Tax Reform; Tea Party Protests Springing Up Across America; Los Angeles Laying Off 5,000 Teachers, Coaches, School Staff

Aired April 15, 2009 - 09:00   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: The deadline's here. It is tax day and we're bringing you the real deal on your taxes. This hour, why you could see some taxes go up. Plus tips for last-minute filers.

New pirate attack. U.S. cargo ships takes on rocket and small- arms fire and a sailor e-mails family back home while the shooting is going on.

Plus, could a pill help alcoholics kick their addiction? Rehab centers are negative. But one man says he's proof positive.

It is Wednesday, April 16th. Hi, everybody, I'm Heidi Collins. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

We start this morning with an American cargo ship escaping a pirate attack off the African coast. The Liberty Sun was hit with rocket propelled grenades, but none of the 20-member American crew was injured. The ship is carrying food aid.

The USS Bainbridge was sent in to help but arrived after the pirates have fled the scene. They are now escorting the Liberty Sun. Rescued Captain Richard Phillips is aboard the Bainbridge. The detour will keep him from reuniting with his crew before they head home. His crew is on their way home now from Mombasa, Kenya. They will arrive at Andrews Air Force Base tonight and Captain Phillips will follow the latest. And we're going to have much more on this developing story in just a few minutes.

Meanwhile, President Obama is talking taxes today and calling for change. He's going to be speaking today as Americans race to meet their tax deadline. Everybody wondering what changes will affect them.

CNN's Kate Bolduan is joining us from Washington this morning. She's going to have more on that. And also we'll be talking with Jim Acosta. He is following all of these tax day protests that you've probably heard about, popping up all over the country. We're going to get with him in a moment.

And also CNN's Christine Romans. She is going to be talking taxes. The big question, will your taxes go up? We're going to have all of that for you in just a little bit today. Meanwhile, let's begin once again with Kate Bolduan this morning.

So, Kate, tell us, do you any idea if there are going to be some specifics that we're going to hear from President Obama today.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are expecting in the remarks that are coming in a couple of hours from now, Heidi. What we've heard from administration officials is that the president will first be holding a private meeting with a few families, about a dozen people, who the White House says will benefit from the tax relief efforts that the administration has put forth so far.

And that, it sounds, will be a major part or at least a large part of the focus of the president's remarks today. Specifically, even if you just look at the stimulus package in what tax relief is offered there.

And just to remind some our viewers, some of the things that is offered in the stimulus package, they're talking about a tax credit. $400 for individuals, $800 for couples, and $8,000 tax credit, tax break for first-time home buyers as well as a new car sales tax deduction. And a college tuition tax credit.

And that's some of the things that we expect the president to talk about, citing, you know, tax relief is on the way. Heidi?

COLLINS: All right. So we know he's talking taxes but is there anything else that we can expect from the president today?

BOLDUAN: Well, we do expect the president to also look forward, in terms of tax reform and the administration officials are calling it fairness in the tax code. You'll remember that the president asked Paul Volcker to head up the president's economic recovery advisory board. Basically a tax task force.

And the goal or the job of that board is to look at ways to simplify the tax code, ways of reducing the tax gap, and increasing enforcement in terms of getting people to pay their taxes. That board's going to be -- or supposed to be reporting back to the president early December and we expect the president to talk about that as well.

COLLINS: All right, very good. Kate, we'll stick with you. We'll hear more about that a little bit later on.

Meanwhile, hey, are you fed up with your taxes? Well, you're probably not alone. Take a look at this map now. All those red dots that you see are sites of rallies protesting today's tax system. Organizers are calling them tea parties in honor of the colonial rebellion against taxation without representation.

CNN's Jim Acosta is joining us now from Washington.

So, Jim, what are we expecting today? That's a lot of red dots.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Heidi. They're not going to be asking, will you have one lump or two at these rallies today, Heidi. You know what we're going to see is we're going to see a lot of conservatives letting off some steam. And we are going to see, and perhaps Americans haven't really seen too much of this at this point, some pretty harsh anti-Obama rhetoric.

And we've already seen that in some of these events that have snowballed around the country into a conservative movement against President Obama's agenda. The organizers behind these Boston Tea Party-style rallies say these events, which feature some tough anti- Obama rhetoric, may just be the beginning of a new energized Republican Party.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama, are you listening?

ACOSTA (voice-over): What Rick Santelli unleashed, has this way come? Ever since the CNBC reporter's rant against President Obama's plan to help troubled homeowners, conservatives have staged Boston Tea Party-style rallies across the country to protest, what they describe, as budget-busting bailouts gone wild.

The granddaddy of them all set for tax day.

ROGER L. SIMON, PAJAMAS TV: I think you'd be in this situation, we have people who are genuinely upset by the spending that's going on and they're scared so they're organizing.

ACOSTA: Roger L. Simon is promoting the tea parties on his conservative Web site PajamasTV where you can watch Sam Wurzelbacher aka Joe the Plumber interview protesters at the rallies. As Wurzelbacher found, some of the rhetoric can be extreme.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could waterboard Obama this weekend. What would you try to get out of him? What would you ask him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I don't want to waterboard Obama.

SIMON: I don't approve of that. I would like to hope and I think that the majority of the people here are respectful.

ACOSTA: Republican strategist Keith Appell says conservatives have borrowed a page from the president's net roots playbook -- organizing tea parties online.

KEITH APPELL, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Now you've got conservatives, you know, tweeting to one another on Twitter.

ACOSTA (on camera): Is this the new Republican Party that we're starting to see emerge here?

APPELL: Well, I think there has to be a new Republican Party. The Republican Party we've seen over the last few years hasn't done very well.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But some familiar faces are also at work. Promoters include former House speaker Newt Gingrich.

GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS: I'm sorry, I just love my country and I fear for it. ACOSTA: And FOX News personality Glenn Beck who argues the tea party outrage harkens back to Howard Beale in the film "Network."


PETER FINCH, ACTOR, PORTRAYING HOWARD BEALE: I was mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore.


HOWARD KURTZ, WASHINGTON POST MEDIA CLINIC: I don't think I've ever seen a news network throw its weight behind a protest like we are seeing in the past few weeks with FOX and these tea parties.

ACOSTA: The White House has plans to counter the tea party message with an event to remind Americans the president cut taxes in the stimulus.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Americans will see more money their pockets as a direct result of the making work pay tax cut that the president both campaigned on and passed through Congress.


ACOSTA: Now tea party organizers have said they have no idea what the turnout will be like, saying they expect hundreds of rallies across the country today. But liberal tea party critics are not buying it. They call these events Astro turf, arguing they don't come from the grassroots but from old Republican Party bosses - Heidi.

COLLINS: We actually talked to one of the organizers here yesterday on the program, Jim. I wonder how many more events are planned after tax day because it wasn't really just about tax day itself.

ACOSTA: Right.

COLLINS: I mean this is about taxes in general and government involvement in spending money, basically.

ACOSTA: That's right. I think we're going to see these for a good while. They started up in just the weeks leading into this new administration, and while much of the outrage is directed at the president, you're right. A lot of this is about taxes, spending, people are suffering from bailout fatigue.

And we heard the president yesterday during his remarks at Georgetown University talk about this. He says one of the familiar responses he gets in these letters that he receives at the White House is where is my bailout? So the president is hearing this firsthand in letters that he gets at the White House. He knows that there is this anger out there. He's trying to stay ahead of it - Heidi.

COLLINS: All right, very good. CNN's Jim Acosta. Thank you, Jim.

ACOSTA: You bet.

COLLINS: Well, if your paycheck is already too thin get ready for more bad news. Many states are reeling from the recession and they're looking to taxpayers to help cover the budget shortfall.

Christine Romans of the CNN money team is here now with details on this. Yes, this is not welcome news for many people.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Good morning, Heidi.

You know states, as you said, have been hit hard by this recession. They're digging deep to close their budget gaps and that means they're getting more creative in ways to raise money, and whether it's fees or taxes, it means more money from you.


ROMANS (voice-over): What do pole dancing, fishing licenses, car registrations and a state park pass have in common? They all could get more expensive as states slap on taxes and fees in a scramble to raise money.

Colorado wants a fee for background checks for new gun owners. The price of a Michigan state park pass may rise. In Nevada, lawmakers are considering a tax on legal brothel and an increase in Vegas hotel taxes. And in California, there's even a proposal to tax marijuana. Another to put a sales tax on porn.

States are scraping for every penny.

BERT WAISAMEN, NATIONAL CONF. OF STATE LEGISLATURE: What they're doing first is they're cutting spending. They're cutting back on programs. They're delaying projects. They're putting in hiring freezes.

ROMANS: And they still have to raise more money. Sin taxes are a perennial recession favorite like taxes on tobacco.

DONAL BOYD, NELSON A. ROCKEFELLER INST.: This time around, wealth looks like it's the new tobacco. We're seeing quite a few states that are at least considering income tax increases on upper income earners. We've seen it in New York and California already.

ROMANS: Simply put, the math doesn't add up. States are bringing in less at a time when their recession-wary citizens need more services. Fees on hunting licenses and taxes on gentleman's clubs can't close the gap alone.

BOYD: To see the significant increases in what I would call the go-to taxes, the income tax and the sales tax. And if you want to raise significant amounts of money, that's where states are likely to go.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ROMANS: Now Boyd there says raising taxes, of course, is last things that the states want to do and the last thing that they usually do in a crunch. It's just politically so dangerous for politicians, but he says he does expect widespread tax increases starting next year just as the recovery is taking hold. But he says look for those to be temporary, we would hope -- Heidi?

COLLINS: Yes. New numbers, though, also this morning on consumer inflation. What do they tell us? Are they any good?

ROMANS: They tell us it's still a reflection of this weak economy. You saw core inflation pick up a little bit but inflation, what you pay, what you and I pay, includes food, gas, apparel, all that stuff down 0.1 percent.

And when I look at this number, Heidi, over the past year, it shows inflation falling -- for the first time falling over a year-to- year period since 1965. So that tells you that there is something big happening in this economy. You're paying less for things but that's a reflection of weakness in the overall economy.

COLLINS: Exactly. All right, good point.


COLLINS: CNN's Christine Romans with the money team here. We appreciate that. Thank you, Christine.

Heading home, the crew of the pirated Maersk Alabama are now on a flight to the United States but they left without their captain, again.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I'm Rob Marciano in the CNN Severe Weather Center. More rain heading to the east and believe it or not, more snow out west. Winter just doesn't want to give up.

Complete weather details coming up when the CNN NEWSROOM comes right back.


COLLINS: Rescued cargo ship captain Richard Phillips is now being delayed by another pirate attack. But this time he's just along for the ride. His crew is still waiting for their reunion.


SHANE MURPHY, MAERSK ALABAMA CHIEF MATE: I can't wait to see him. That's going to be huge.


MUPRHY: Yes, we really can't wait to see him. Everybody here is -- finally get him back. He's been through a lot.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COLLINS: Our David McKenzie is live in Mombasa, Kenya this morning, where the crew had been waiting for the captain.

So, David, where is the crew right now?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the crew, Heidi, is on their way to the States for what will be an emotional reunion. I'm standing here right at the edge of Mombasa port. Ships come in and out through this lane and basically we're all waiting to see where their captain -- when their Captain Richard Phillips is coming in.

He was on the USS Bainbridge missile destroyer when that ship had to be scrambled towards another ship that was being attacked by pirates. So he's certainly going to have to wait a little bit longer. An extraordinary twist in this tale, Heidi.

And the crew had to leave with that reunion that they were hoping for - Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes. It's heartbreaking and unbelievable. We're hearing more and more about this now. How did the Liberty Sun escape the pirate attack?

MCKENZIE: Well, it's -- the details are still sketchy, Heidi. But what we do know is according to the shipping company, the ship came under attack by pirates on a small ship. They fired rocket propelled grenades, shot automatic weapons into the air.

The crew, we think, hid in the engine room or some part of the ship until that attack was over. There was some damage to the ship but it's still managed to get away and it's now being escorted by the USS Bainbridge with Captain Phillips in it on their way to Mombasa.

COLLINS: All right. Obviously a story that we need to continue to follow. Appreciate that. David McKenzie for us this morning, Mombasa, Kenya.

Damage from the latest round of tornados is still being tallied today. Forecasters say at least three tornados tore through central Florida yesterday, ripping off rooftops, uprooting trees, knocking out power.

At one point nearly two dozen Florida counties were under a tornado watch. The good thing is no injuries were reported.

Rob Marciano was all over it for us yesterday telling us as things were happening.

Where's the storm right now, though, Rob?

MARCIANO: Mostly moving off towards the north and east and with that, we're looking at a lot of flight delays. Philadelphia, ground stops at 9:00 -- until 9:00 a.m. New York -- JFK, an hour delay there. LaGuardia, an hour and a half.

And look at that. Newark an hour and 20 minutes, and we're just past the 9:00 hour so pretty amazing stuff, for sure.


MARCIANO: So that story will continue to unfold over the next couple of weeks until we melt all that snow and get it out of here and hopefully we won't have anymore. It seems like this winter just doesn't want to quit.

COLLINS: Yes, that's right. And hey, I want to tell you, I'm loving the magic wall. You're doing a great job over there.

MARCIANO: OK. You know my...

COLLINS: So much capability, yes?

MARCIANO: You know, but you know my tender fingers, you know, they're getting calluses.

COLLINS: I know. It's hard. You're going to have to go for another mani-pedi.


All right.

MARCIANO: See you later.

COLLINS: Rob, thanks.

Treating addiction. A recovering alcoholic credits a pill for helping him kick the habit. Dr. Sanjay Gupta will join us why not everyone is convinced the pill is actually the cure.


ANNOUNCER: Live breaking news, unfolding developments, see for yourself in the CNN NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: Experts tell us more than 17 million people meet the criteria for an alcohol abuse disorder. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our chief medical correspondent, has been exploring the science of addiction for a new documentary.

Now, so, Sanjay, what does the evidence say is the best way to the best way of getting sober?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know in order to answer that question I think you really have to step back and ask a more fundamental question, which is, what do you think addiction is? Is it a lack of willpower? Is it somehow a weakness of character? Or is it more of a brain disease?

This is a fascinating debate that continues to go on now.


GUPTA: And I found some evidence of it in a pretty unusual place. Take a look.


GUPTA (voice-over): This is the last place you'd expect to find a recovering alcoholic.

WALTER KENT, RECOVERING ALCOHOLIC: One of my old favorite watering holes.

GUPTA: But this is where Walter Kent hangs out. A bar called Goober's.

Walter is a giant of a man. But for most his life he couldn't find the strength to put down that bottle.

KENT: I was the type of person that the only time I drink is when I was alone or with somebody. You know other than that, there was never a problem.

GUPTA: He tried rehab and AA, nothing worked.

KENT: Nothing seemed to get through that urge. I couldn't get rid of the craving.

GUPTA: But then in 2000, he tried again. An experimental program at Brown University. This time he got counseling once a week and a daily pill. A medicine called Naltrexone. And this time it worked.

KENT: When you can lose the total urge, the total craving for alcohol, you can beat it. There's no doubt in my mind because I'm living proof, the proof that this can happen.

GUPTA: Several recent studies show alcoholics do better when they get medicine as part of treatment especially newer drugs like Naltrexone or Topiramate. They're not addictive and side effects like a dry mouth are minor.

But not everyone is sold. Most leading rehab centers use medication only rarely, if at all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We do not use them at the Betty Ford Center.

DR. KEVIN CLARK, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, HAZELDEN: With the health care professional staff here at Hazelden, our experience tells us that having that network of support and recovery is what really makes the difference.

GUPTA (on camera): More so than medication?

CLARK: More so than just medication, absolutely.

GUPTA (voice-over): The medical directors at Hazelden and Betty Ford each told us therapy is much more important. And they both said that years of success treating alcoholics backs that up. The head of the federal agency that oversees research on drinking says only 1 alcoholic in 10 even hears about medication.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most people are not ever told about the medications that are available for treating alcohol dependents. I think that's a crime.

GUPTA: Some say once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic. But sitting in Goober's with Walter Kent, I have to say, it changed my view of what that means.


GUPTA: We did talk to a lot of doctors at Hazelden, at Betty Ford, like you saw there. You hear a lot of the conventional wisdom. The things that you might expect to hear when you're talking about treating addiction.

What the head of the federal agency that oversees research of alcoholism told us was that only 1 in 10 alcoholics are even given medication as an option. Those numbers may start to change but you know it's a total culture change right now.

COLLINS: Well, are they not convinced by the research on the medication? Why is it not used more often?

GUPTA: I think that's a good question. I think there's two things. One is just culture. You know we don't think of alcoholism or addiction the same way that we think of hypertension, diabetes, not to be treated with medications the same way. That's...

COLLINS: Because also it seems like, well, then you're on alcohol and a drug.

GUPTA: Yes, that's another thing. Adding another medication, obviously, to the mix but the other question is how you measure success? A lot of these medication studies said, well, it's significantly reduced the amount of drinking and a lot of people who say, either it's abstinence or it's nothing. So it depends on how you measure success.

COLLINS: Yes, it does. It's confusing a little bit, too. I'm glad you're doing this. This is very interesting and everybody should watch this. A mother, a writer, a student, all addicts. Could their brains hold the key to their addiction?

Dr. Sanjay Gupta's following them on the journey to recovery and relapse. It's called "ADDICTION." CNN Saturday and Sunday night 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

And Sanjay, we'll all be watching. Thank you.

Tea party protests popping up all over country. They're rallying against rising taxes and government spending. We'll tell you what's brewing and why.


ANNOUNCER: Live in the CNN NEWSROOM, Heidi Collins.

COLLINS: President Obama and Fed chairman Ben Bernanke both tried to calm fears about the economy, saying there are glimmers of hope. But on Wall Street, investors focused on dismal economic data and stock tumbled.

Today, we are expecting another weak open. And there it is, the opening bell. Susan Lisovicz is at the New York Stock Exchange now with a look at what is worrying investors today.

Hey there, Susan.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Heidi, once again, your timing is impeccable. While it looks like the blue chips will see red at the open, despite some silver lining, a whole lot of colors there.

Intel, the chip giant, reporting a whopping 55 percent drop in quarterly profits. But that still beat Wall Street's low estimates. More importantly, the company says desktop computer sales hit bottom in January. And that sales that followed a more normal pattern since that's the kind of guidance...

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: ... drop in quarterly profits. But that still beat Wall Street's low estimates. More importantly, the company says desktop computer sales hit bottom in January. And that sales have followed a more normal pattern since.

That's the kind of guidance Wall Street is looking for. Unfortunately, Intel didn't provide much in terms of sales and revenue going forward and profit going forward. And so Intel shares are under pressure. Down 4 percent.

There are more job cuts in Silicon Valley to tell you about. Yahoo! expected to cut several hundred positions, marking its third round of cuts in the past year. Analysts don't expect full details on the layoffs until Yahoo! reports earnings next week. Suisse banking giant UBS slashing nearly 9,000 jobs worldwide as it mourns (ph) of a nearly $2 billion quarterly loss.

In the auto sector, new doubts about Chrysler's future. Italian automaker Fiat reportedly says it will walk away from a deal to take at least a 20 percent stake in Chrysler if Chrysler's unions don't agree to major cost cuts. If the two can't seal a deal by the end of the month, the U.S. government threatening to give Chrysler anymore aid and that could be big problems for Chrysler.

Along with that, an unexpected drop in consumer prices. The fifth straight drop in industrial production. And you're seeing a drop in the three major averages. Just modest though in the first minute of trading. The Dow is off about a third of a percent. The NASDAQ's down 1 percent. Ringing the closing bell today, Heidi, H&R Block. Just our little public service message, a reminder.

COLLINS: A good idea. Yes, yes. Just a little reminder. Do you think anybody doesn't know? It's possible, I guess.

LISOVICZ: Not if they're watching.

COLLINS: That's right. That's right.

LISOVICZ: And they should be.

COLLINS: Right. Susan, thank you.

LISOVICZ: You're welcome.

COLLINS: It is tax day for everybody including the president of the United States and taxes will be the focus of President Obama speaks later today. The White House says he'll be talking about restoring fairness to the tax code. He's used that phrase since the campaign, claiming the tax laws in this country favor the wealthy and special interests.

The president speaks just before noon Eastern Time. We're going to bring that you live when it happens.

So have you filed your taxes yet? The hours are ticking away but there are still some options. To make it under the wire, personal finance editor Gerri Willis joining us now from New York.

So, Gerri, the clock is ticking. What's the code or the number of the stock that you file for the extension again?

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Wow, that's a great question. You can find it at You know I should know this because we did file an extensions and you can see that I'm in total black today, wearing black today, because it is tax day.

We are T-minus, I believe, 15 hours at this point - 14 1/2. So if you haven't filed, you have to start thinking about e-filing. This is the easiest way to do it last-minute. Over 77 million people filed electronically so far this year. That, according to the IRS and e- filing is supposed to break records this year.

There's good reason people are going to their computers to pay their taxes. You know why? E-Filing is faster. The software programs check the math for you and you get your return a lot more quickly if you will electronically file.

There are, of course, always lingering worries that maybe your computer will crash at the last minute or the IRS Web site might not be able to handle all those electronic 1040s coming in tonight.

We put that question, though, right to the IRS commissioner and here's what he had to say.


DOUGLAS SHULMAN, IRS COMMISSIONER: Our systems are going to be able to accept all of the tax returns that come in. April 15th is a busy day for us. We know it's one of the biggest financial. Transactions. A lot of Americans have every year paying their taxes and we're ready to take them.


WILLIS: Ready to take them indeed. So the IRS is saying it's going to be ready. Give yourself piece of mind, though, you may not want to wait until midnight to hit the send button. So Heidi, e- filing the answer for people who are really trying to get those taxes in on time.

COLLINS: Yes, no question. What are some of the most common mistakes people make, though?

WILLIS: Well, people make a lot of mistakes.


WILLIS: But here are the most common ones. Their math error, simple adding and subtraction errors. Incorrect Social Security number, believe it or not. Forgetting to sign your return. Maybe this is one of those mistakes you make because you don't want to pay. You forget to sign the check.


WILLIS: Remember, these errors can delay any refund you're entitled to. So you definitely want to get everything right. Just give it that once over check before you drop it into the mail.

COLLINS: What advice do you have for people filing their taxes by mail though, in fact.

WILLIS: Right. Well, you know, this is an issue because you've got to get it postmarked today.


WILLIS: So the big thing is, when do the post office close?. Go to And they have a little applet there that will help you figure out the closest postal service office next to you that closes late. Some of them close as late as midnight. So you want to find those.

One other point here, don't send your -- taxes in certified mail or pay extra to send it in faster. At this point it doesn't matter. All you need is that postmark saying that you got it in the mail on April 15th. That is the critical thing to get.

COLLINS: Got it. Or you need a 4868. That's what it is.

WILLIS: Thank you. You look that up on

COLLINS: Exactly.

WILLIS: Which is where you go for all your questions today. It's a great Web site. You can look through all the forms, find everything you need. And you know what else you can do, Heidi? COLLINS: What's that.

WILLIS: You can find that software online for free at They let you download the e-filing programs. You can do it like that.

COLLINS: Lickety-split. All right. Gerri, appreciate it. Thank you.

WILLIS: My pleasure.

COLLINS: Protesters are borrowing a page from our nation's history. They're holding tea parties across the nation to voice their opposition to what they see as rising taxes and increased government spending.

Our Josh Levs is watching the tea party rallies online through the lenses of our CNN iReporters.

Hey, Josh.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Heidi. They're all over this today.


LEVS: Yes. Really busy morning on iReport. Fist let me just tell everyone in case you are kind of joining us now, learning a bit about the tea parties. We're going to zoom in on two Web sites where you can learn what this is all about, starting off with

Go to the main page right there and they list some of their grievances and they say here, "Be part of the taxed enough already party rally in your community."

They talk about some of their concerns, about some of the big tax bills, the stimulus bills. They say trillions of dollars are being borrowed, leaving a debt. A lot of their frustrations expressed right there.

They also have this map. I mean this is pretty incredible. Look at all of this. Every place you see a red mark you can learn about a tea party event happening today.

One other Web site to know about as well. They're saying "Silent majority no more." They're writing a lot about this.

All right, we are hearing from iReporters on both sides of this debate. I'm going to start off showing you some quotes from two iReporters who are in support of what's happening today.


JEANY RUSH, CNN IREPORTER: What we don't need is taxation without representation. But guess what? That's what we're getting. So here's a toast to Tea Day on the 15th and let's go join a local tea party. Why not?

STACEY LIDEN, TEA PARTY ATTENDEE: Government is a little out of control. The people aren't having much of a voice anymore. So we just want to get back and have people learn about their country. Where it came from.


LEVS: And as I understand it, Jeany's position with the clown, is she's saying that she's protesting the ridiculousness that she views in the tax code right now.


LEVS: Yes.

COLLINS: I was just going to say, what do we do, just go out and find the wackiest one possible?

LEVS: No. You know I want to emphasize that. We don't do that. No, I mean, she apparently has this view and that she feels comes across even if someone sees her briefly. She feels there's some ridiculousness in there and she wants people know to that's her take.

We are hearing from people on the other side as well. Just got this one, Heidi. Take a look.


EGBERTO WILLIES, CNN IREPORTER: It is un-American for those who have so benefited from the tax codes who wanted tax cuts at this time. Most Americans that complain about too many taxes likes to pay very little taxes themselves. Our roads, bridges and other infrastructure are crumbling. Our healthcare system is a disaster.

Do you think this can be fixed with less money into the government coffers?


LEVS: So we're already hearing from people as you can see on both sides of this debate and we encourage you to join in.

Also let's go to the graphic. We got two ways you can write us this morning. We have e-mail address,

Heidi, I posted a question on my Facebook page this morning about it. People on both sides, it's Joshlevs@CNN. We encourage you to write in there and we are going to be back next hour with some of you reactions.

You can see, Heidi, they're already coming in. Some very much in support of this and some very much against this so we look forward to bringing you that later next hour.

COLLINS: All right. Yes. Very good. We'll definitely get those out. Thank you, Josh.

LEVS: You got it. Thanks.

COLLINS: How do you solve an education shortfall of nearly $600 million? The board in Los Angeles came up with a solution. But it will cost thousands of teachers their jobs.


COLLINS: Out of the classroom and out of lives of their students. More than 5,000 teacher, coaches and others all out of a job in Los Angeles. But as Dave Bryant from affiliate KCAL tells us, city officials say, they had no choice.


DAVE BRYANT, KCAL REPORTER (voice-over): With school district teacher, supporters and other employees rallying and protest outside a bitterly divided LAUSD board voted four to three to authorize a new budget that could lead to the layoffs of 5,000 district employees, including about 3,500 newer, untenured teachers.

Board president Monica Garcia, who voted for the cuts, vowed the school board and superintendent will do everything possible to minimize the number of layoffs especially among teachers.

MONICA GARCIA, LAUSD BOARD PRESIDENT: I wanted just acknowledge that reasonable people can disagree. And I want to say to everyone who is feeling a real impact that anger is appropriate. And outrage is appropriate.

BRYANT: Among those who may now lose their jobs in addition to the teachers are counselors, nursing staff, librarians and administrators. The teachers union president says the district must use all federal stimulus dollars to save the jobs and anything less is an outrage.

AJ DUFFY, PRESIDENT, UNITED TEACHERS LOS ANGELES: It stinks. It's going to cause chaos and havoc in the schools. And we know they're going to find more money. In the meantime, they're disrupting the lives of thousands and thousands of people.

BRYANT: The school district is facing a massive budget deficit of nearly $600 million. More than the estimated deficit for the entire L.A. city budget. And the district was under intense pressure to deal with the shortfall without laying off teachers, including this extraordinary plea and admission from a former school board president not to allow the teacher layoffs even if it is irresponsible.

JACKIE GOLDBERG, FORMER L.A. SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER: If you do what you are supposed to do today, if you do the responsible thing today, you will be nailing, like I did, another nail in the coffin of public education.


COLLINS: The board did vote to save almost 2,000 jobs with federal stimulus money but only for employees with tenure.

Over at the Severe Weather Center now with Rob Marciano. We're still talking about Florida today.


COLLINS: I'm flying Delta. That's where I'm going to go.

MARCIANO: How does that sound, huh?


COLLINS: That is great.

MARCIANO: This time of the year, although a lot of them start to close down in the next couple of weeks...


MARCIANO: ... this time of the year is the best kept secret to head out west. You can get this surprise pal.

COLLINS: Yes. Love that. All right, Rob, we'll check back later on. Thanks.

They are the worst offenders, 250 big-time tax delinquents. A few names you probably know and one guy you don't who owes 10 million bucks.


COLLINS: For the last several weeks, we've told you about the gruesome violence that has spilled across the border from Mexico. And today the Obama administration names a border czar to crack down on those drug wars.

CNN's Kate Bolduan is at the White House now this morning.

So, Kate, what do we know about this particular border czar?

BOLDUAN: Yes, well, this position, we're told that Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano who is traveling along the border, she'll be making the announcement today.

Alan Bersin will be the border czar and basically what we're learning is the job of the border czar is to advise Secretary Napolitano and deal with big issues like you mentioned, illegal immigration and the drug-related violence that has just exploded along the U.S./Mexico border.

So he's got some big tasks ahead of him. His history -- he was former Justice Department official but he also has worked as the California state secretary of education. So he also has some education background as well.

COLLINS: Yes, this comes just as President Obama is getting ready to travel to Mexico, of course.

BOLDUAN: Yes, some interesting timing. The president's heading down to New Mexico tomorrow to meet with President Felipe Calderon. We expect topics of -- they'll take up these topics exactly. Immigration reform, drug-related violence, and then the president heads to the Caribbean to meet with leaders from across the region to talk about these kind of issues, but broader issues, the economy as well as energy and the environment. Heidi.

COLLINS: All right, CNN's Kate Bolduan for us this morning from the White House.

Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thanks.

COLLINS: President Obama is talking taxes later this morning. Yesterday it was the economy in his speech at Georgetown University. The president gave a detailed accounting of his three-month long efforts to revise the economy.

He claims progress but warned there are still some tough times ahead. So how did he do? Here's how senior political analyst David Gergen saw it.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "AC 360": David, the president talked about the economy for about an hour today, clearly it's a major issue, clearly he needs -- he wants to be out in front on it. How did he do?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think he did well, Anderson. It was a very long speech. If you enjoy reading encyclopedias, you'd love reading this speech because he covered the entire waterfront, but I think he did two important things.

I read the speech. Others may read it differently. It is essentially trying to temper the kind of optimism we've had in recent weeks as the stock market has improved, just as Ali showed. There -- you know confidence has gone up. There an awful lot of people saying that. Maybe the worst is behind us. And the president is saying yes, it's getting better, but we've got some bad -- brace yourself, we've got some bad news still to come. And I thought that was important for him to do.

The second thing, politically, Anderson, there were a fair number of Democrats beginning to worry, I think, in an unfounded way, that by spending as much time abroad as he has, the president will let -- send a signal to the Americans that he's taking his eye off the economy.

I don't think that's true, but nonetheless, it was very clear today. No, I'm right back on the job, I'm working on this economy, it is my number one priority.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COLLINS: The president also said he'll have to make some unpopular decisions down the road, or restructuring the auto industry and fixing the AIG mess.

There's a lot going on this morning, in fact our CNN crew are scrambling to bring you all the latest. Let's begin with Mary snow in Boston.

Hi, Mary.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Heidi. We are in Boston where protesters are planning to turn out at the birthplace of the original tea party tax revolt. We'll have the latest at the top of the hour.

LISOVICZ: I'm Susan Lisovicz at the New York Stock Exchange where banking stocks are selling off. This amid reports that the results of the government's stress tests will soon be released.

Heidi, more on that in the next hour.

MARCIANO: And I'm Rob Marciano in the CNN Severe Weather Center. Rough weather across the southeast. Yesterday has moved out, but we've got video of the damage and the northeast is seeing some travel delays and more snow, yes, more snow out west - Heidi.

COLLINS: All right. Very good. Thanks, everybody.

We are also going to be bringing you the story of Carl Joseph, a boy bullied at school, a boy who this month killed himself, and he was 11 years old.


COLLINS: It may be pretty tough for you it send off that check to Uncle Sam today, but at least you're following the law, right? Unlike a group of 250 people the state of California is trying to shame into paying their back taxes.

CNN's Dan Simon explains.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Burt Reynolds is on it. So is singer Dionne Warwick, Sinbad too. They made California's list of the 250 most delinquent taxpayers. The list is published annually by law. Lawmakers thought it would motivate people to settle up, but does it really work?

BRENDA VOGT, CA FRANCHISEE TAX COURT: Actually it has. We've collected over $14 million this year based on this current list and our activities in letting people know that they are going to be potentially on the list.

SIMON: But unless they're celebrities, chances are you would not recognize the rest of the names. Who ranks number one? His name Winson T. Lee, a self-described investor and owner of apartments. According to the state, he owes nearly $10 million. He lives in this house outside of San Francisco. No one came to the door. And he wasn't at this apartment complex either that he owns. But, to our surprise, Lee was OK talking to us when I reached him on the phone.

(on camera): When you saw that you were number one on the list, what did you think?

WINSTON T. LEE, OWES BACK TAXES (via telephone): I was embarrassed.

SIMON (voice-over): Lee admitted to us that he hasn't filed any tax returns for the last 10 to 15 years. He says he knows he's wrong and likened it to some kind of illness.

LEE: I think my illness is the inability to deal with this, you know, the tax season every year. And to deal with the amount of paper that - that people wanted me to go through in order to prepare their tax returns.

SIMON: He says that now he's trying to make amends, though he disputes the amount California says he owes. The state says it doesn't comment on specific cases, but that California taxpayers each year fail to pay around $6.5 billion. That would more than pay the annual salaries for every high schoolteacher in the state.

If you think that figure is large, the IRS says its unpaid taxes for the last several years total about $300 billion. That would cover half of the entire U.S. defense budget. And experts say unpaid taxes will increase because of the recession.

PROF. CHUCK SWENSON, USC MARSHALL SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: That gap's going to get bigger in tough times as people go from private sector where they're losing their jobs to self-employment where it's much easier to evade taxes.

SIMON: As for those celebs we mentioned, a rep for Dionne Warwick told us she's addressed the situation and has worked out a payment arrangement. Burt Reynolds spokesman said the actor has paid all his taxes and says the actor should be removed. And Sinbad, his rep just said no comment.

(on camera): Now to get your name off of this list, you either need to pay in full, reach some sort of compromise with the state, or file for bankruptcy.

Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco.


COLLINS: Let's take a look now at some of the top stories happening right now.

The president is talking taxes. Later this morning he's expected to follow up on a campaign promise that he says will restore fairness to the tax code. Throughout the campaign President Obama argued the tax code favored the wealthy and special interest groups.

Catholics in New York are welcoming their new archbishop. The church held mass to officially instill Timothy Dolan as the new leader of the American Catholic Church. The New York archdiocese is the second largest in the country, but the archbishop of New York is seen as the most prominent leader of the American Catholic Church.

Funny man Steven Colbert getting some out-of-this-world recognition. NASA is renaming an orbital exercise machine after him. With the help of his fans, Colbert got the most votes in the space agency's online poll. A treadmill on the space station is now called the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill or COLBERT.

Now he knows he's really made it.

All right. And we are talking a little bit more about what happened in Houston. A building has collapsed. One person is dead and two people are now hospitalized. We are going to stay on top of that story for you, of course, this morning and try our hardest to get the very, very latest for you.

Meanwhile, we want to talk a little bit more about the Navy ship that arrived. The USS Bainbridge. In fact, we are going to take a very quick break and be back right at the top of the hour in just a moment here in the CNN NEWSROOM.