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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
Outbreak Spreading; Democrats vs. Obama; Broken Borders; State of Chaos; Credit Card Bill of Rights
Aired May 19, 2009 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, HOST: Good evening, everybody. The swine flu outbreak is worsening; the number of deaths is rising, but public health officials still uncertain about the extent and the severity of this outbreak. We'll be joined by one of the country's leading authorities on infectious diseases.
Also, President Obama facing a revolt within his own party over his plans to close Guantanamo Bay prison for terrorists -- many Democrats are furious that President Obama apparently has no idea what to do with detainees.
And Governor Schwarzenegger of California, his plan to tackle the state's massive budget deficit, facing almost certain defeat at the polls. Schwarzenegger says defeat will lead to what he calls financial Armageddon. Is the governor's warning justified?
And the Senate angers the banking industry, passing sweeping legislation to stop credit card fee abuse. We'll be discussing that in our "Face-Off" debate tonight.
We begin with the spreading swine flu outbreak in this country. The number of cases is rising and so is the number of deaths. There are now almost 5,500 confirmed cases. So far, up to eight deaths have been linked to the outbreak. There are rising concerns that the number of swine flu cases is actually far, far higher than public health officials are reporting.
The Centers for Disease Control says the number of Americans who could be infected with the virus is already as high as 100,000. Kitty Pilgrim has our report.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New York City health officials now admit flu victims are flooding hospitals.
ALAN AVILES, NY HEALTH AND HOSPITALS CORP.: The adult emergency department and pediatric emergency department are running way above the normal numbers we see at this time of the year, about 50 percent above average for the adults, more than 100 percent above average for pediatric patients.
PILGRIM: Seventeen New York schools are closed, another private school, Horace Mann, also closed today. A few weeks ago the Centers for Disease Control initially said schools affected by swine flu should close. But by May, the CDC reversed that policy, saying school closings are not advised unless absenteeism affects the school's ability to function. But some are not taking chances.
MAYOR THOMAS MENINO, BOSTON: This is not a time to panic. But it is a time to be cautious.
PILGRIM: Boston's mayor today closed the largest high school in the city after more than 250 out of 2,400 students called in sick. Nationally, swine flu is contributed to as many as eight deaths, including a 44-year-old man in St. Louis. The death of a baby boy in New York's Elmhurst hospital is being investigated. Rikers Island, a New York prison, confirmed four cases and four more probable cases. Virologists admit there's still a lot we don't know about this strain of influenza. Peter Palese of Mount Sinai points out how unusual this flu is.
DR. PETER PALESE, MT. SINAI HOSPITAL, NY: The influenza virus is traditionally has seasonality, meaning they are circulating from December to middle of March, end of March, but not beyond that.
PILGRIM: The CDC reports more than 5,400 cases of swine flu in the United States.
PILGRIM: Now, the real number of cases is certainly much higher. As many people suffering flu symptoms are not being tested for swine flu. We spoke to one school superintendent who had six cases of swine flu. He did not close the school based on the advice from the CDC, but he also said that parents told him that the pediatricians feel it's not always necessary to test for swine flu. So many cases are not being detected, Lou.
DOBBS: Well, it seems like a very conscious decision on the part of public health officials, and in some cases, school officials, not to be testing for swine flu, which raises the question, why is the CDC, why is the World Health Organization bothering to go along with this, you know, ostensibly, reporting of deaths and cases when they know that it is a fraction of what is actually out there?
PILGRIM: It seems -- it's very perplexing why they're not insisting that everyone who thinks they have swine flu be tested, because you'd have a better database for a totally new strain of flu -- seems like they would want that information.
DOBBS: Or there is some reason that they don't. We'll continue to pursue this. Kitty, thank you very much -- Kitty Pilgrim.
The World Health Organization today said the number of confirmed swine flu cases globally is rising. The total, according to the World Health Organization, has risen to almost 10,000 cases over 40 countries, but so far the WHO Director General Margaret Chan is resisting any calls to raise the alert level to phase six, the highest level, and to declare a worldwide pandemic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARGARET CHAN, WHO DIR. GEN.: We see, outside of Mexico, mostly very mild and self-limiting diseases. We hope this will continue. Certainly, we do not want to see severe diseases. And that's why, and this is, you know, and now that I mentioned, my members days have asked us to reflect and consider before we make the move to phase six.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: The World Health Organization today also said it won't be possible to make a swine flu vaccine until July at the earliest. That's two months later than had been previously hoped. Later in this broadcast, one of the country's leading authorities on infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci joins us.
On Capitol Hill, President Obama tonight is facing a rebellion within his party over his plans to close Guantanamo Bay prison for terrorists. Congressional Democrats are refusing to provide money to pay for that closure, saying the president must come up with a plan for the prison's detainees before they do anything. Dana Bash reports from Capitol Hill.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's an about-face for Senate Democrats and a rare slap at President Obama. Congress will reject his request for $80 million to close Guantanamo Bay until he comes up with a plan for the 240 detainees there.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: Guantanamo makes us less safe. However, this is neither the time nor the Bill -- I'm sorry -- to deal with this.
BASH: Why? Democratic leadership sources admit Republicans has been successful in their relentless campaign accusing Democrats of jeopardizing American safety, playing up fears that terror suspects could be imprisoned or tried in your backyard. Daily attacks on the Senate floor.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Shutting this facility now could only serve one end. That's to make Americans less safe than Guantanamo has.
BASH: A Web video with foreboding music featuring the smoldering Pentagon on 9/11, and also a question -- what are Democrats doing to make you safe? Even a press release entitled, "Meet your new Neighbor, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed". Talk to Democrats in the hallway, and they're frustrated by the GOP tactics.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: "This shibboleth of oh the Democrats want to put terrorists into your neighborhoods is just a lot of bull."
BASH: But many Democrats are also aggravated at the president for putting them in a political bind, announcing Guantanamo would close, asking for money without a plan for the terror suspects -- even the Senate's number two Democrat and close Obama ally, Dick Durbin. Here's what he told CNN.
CNN: "Did the White House put you in an awkward position by asking for this money ahead of the plan?"
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL), MAJORITY WHIP: "Yes. Most of the members would have said why would we want to cast an unpopular vote for a theory as opposed to a plan?"
BASH: Now, Democrats insist the idea of closing Guantanamo Bay isn't dead, but they're not going to give any money for it until the president comes to them with a plan for what he's going to do with the terror suspects there. In fact, Lou, Senate Democratic leaders tonight did sign on with Republicans to a measure that explicitly prohibits detainees now at Guantanamo Bay from being transferred to U.S. soil.
DOBBS: Senator Harry Reid said outright there just won't be any detainees, any terrorists in anyone's backyard in this country.
BASH: He did. We have been trying to be honest with you, most of the afternoon, to try to get a better handle on what he was trying to say, because he said that he didn't want any detainees in this country, but then he said no detainees would be released. After several attempts, he said he wasn't going to answer anymore questions and walked away from the microphone. I'm not sure if you saw that. So we're having a hard time getting a handle on that.
BASH: But I think probably the answer to that question did end up in our laps tonight with the fact that Democrats signed on with Republicans to this measure, which I believe that they could vote on as early as tomorrow, Lou, which does explicitly prohibit detainees to come here. At least, it stops funding for it, which in effect prohibits it.
DOBBS: Absolutely. The money -- money makes the decisions in Washington, D.C.
BASH: Oh, yes.
DOBBS: Dana thanks.
BASH: Thank you.
DOBBS: Dana Bash from Capitol Hill.
Turning to another national security issue, Americans strongly believe the Pentagon photos showing alleged prisoner abuse should not be released to the public and by a wide margin. A new CNN Opinion Research Corporation poll says almost three quarters of Americans oppose the release of those photos. The president reversed course on that issue just last week, saying the publication of the photos could endanger the lives of our troops and Defense Secretary Robert Gates adamantly opposing the release of those photographs.
A top fund-raiser for the Democrats, Norman Hsu, today, convicted of corruption. A New York jury found Hsu guilty of breaking laws that restrict the amount of money an individual or group can donate to a political party. Hsu raised more than $800,000 for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, money that she later returned.
The Obama administration says it will take tough new action against criminal illegal aliens.
And stunning video of a waterspout on a lake in Louisiana as it charges toward landfall.
DOBBS: The Obama administration moving to broaden a program to identify and to deport criminal illegal aliens. The program would allow law enforcement to check the immigration status of everyone put into a local and county jail. The program would be with rolled out over the next four years and could keep thousands of criminal illegal aliens off our streets. Jeanne Meserve reports.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the Fairfax County, Virginia jail the fingerprints of almost every prisoner are checked against federal immigration as well as law enforcement databases.
SHERIFF STAN BARRY, FAIRFAX CO., VIRGINIA: The program is to identify people in this country that have committed crimes and they're here illegally, so that we can get them deported.
MESERVE: The Immigration and Customs Enforce program, called Secure Communities, started last October and is expanding to 49 sites this week. The goal is to link in every law enforcement agency in the country by 2012.
JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We're accelerating it, because it works.
MESERVE: Of the more than 288,000 individuals who have had their fingerprints checked since the program's launch, more than 3,000 have been identified as serious offenders. Some of them are among the 4,000 criminals who have been removed from the country under the program.
ALAN BERSIN, DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY: This is about making enforcement a top priority. But this is fair, equitable.
MESERVE: Fairness is exactly what some supporters of comprehensive immigration reform are worried about. They say other programs intended to remove the worst of the worst have expanded and ensnared others.
CLARISSA MARTINEZ, NAT. COUNCIL OF LA RAZA: It's a very wide net, but instead of picking up criminals, we're picking up moms and dads and dishwashers.
MESERVE: On the other side of the spectrum, supporters of stricter immigration enforcement say the program is only a first step towards a secure border.
BOB DANE, FED. FOR AMER. IMMIGR. REFORM: We're sending out the message to illegal aliens that it's OK to come here, as long as you don't commit a crime or get caught. In effect, that is a massive wholesale de facto amnesty.
MESERVE (on camera): The Fairfax County sheriff says the program has been a success, identifying more illegal aliens with criminal records. But it has shortcomings. Many illegal aliens don't have fingerprints in the system and it isn't cheap. ICE estimates it will cost $3 billion a year to identify and process all the criminal aliens in the nation's prisons and jails.
Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.
DOBBS: And at the same time, the Obama administration planning to cut other immigration enforcement programs. The Obama administration will end the state criminal alien assistance program, which provides funding to states to offset the costs of incarcerating criminal illegal aliens.
Well we'd like to know what you think about all of this. Our poll question tonight, do you support checking the immigration status of all those who pass through our city and county jails? Yes or no. Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll have the results here later.
President Obama today announced new mileage standards for cars. The plan is based on tight rules that California proposed seven years ago -- rules, however, that the Bush administration and the auto industry spent years fighting. Now, with the federal government in control of most of the automobile industry, the carmakers are suddenly supporting whatever Mr. Obama says.
The proposal would require cars and light trucks to achieve an overall average of 35 miles a gallon by the year 2016. The new standards will save fuel and cut greenhouse gas emissions. But they will also add an extra $1,300 to the price of a vehicle.
Next California on the edge of financial Armageddon -- the governor warning hundreds of firefighters and police could be fired. And tonight the budget crisis is in the hands of voters.
Also ahead, we'll show you why ousted Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has to put his reality television career on hold.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: Californians today at the polls -- their state on the brink of financial chaos. California voters casting ballots on a series of budget reform measures. Only one of the six initiatives is expected to pass. And that measure would freeze the pay of the state's elected officials.
Governor Schwarzenegger said his state is facing financial Armageddon, warning the jobs of firefighters and police officers at risk and thousands of inmates in state prisons, well, the governor's warning they could be released on society. Casey Wian has our report.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On this day of reckoning, you might expect California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to be crisscrossing the state, as he has for the past two months trying to persuade voters to support the budget reform measures he says are needed to avoid what he's called financial Armageddon. Instead, he left town and changed the subject, appearing with President Obama at a White House event on automotive fuel economy standards.
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: I did vote the absentee and I'm looking forward to the outcome tonight.
WIAN: Pollsters expect voter turnout may not even reach 30 percent. In fact, a CNN photographer spent two hours waiting for voters at two polling places in Los Angeles Tuesday morning and he encountered just one.
RON NEHRING, CALIF. GOP CHAIRMAN: Well I think that the outcome of today's election is clear. Propositions 1A through 1E are going to be defeated and that's going to occur regardless of where the governor happens to be.
WIAN: Just before leaving, the governor's body language and words all but conceded defeat.
SCHWARZENEGGER: And it just means more drastic cuts and the message is that people, you know, don't want to have any tax increases and they say let's solve all those problems in Sacramento. Don't come to us with additional you know of your headaches. I'm the people's representatives, now we will go and make adjustments and we'll make the additional $6 billion in cuts.
WIAN: The state's total deficit will swell to $21 billion. Schwarzenegger warns that will trigger deep spending cuts, including shortening the school year by a week and a half, cutting tens of thousands of education jobs, eliminating health insurance for nearly a quarter of a million low-income children, laying off 1,700 state firefighters, and withholding $2 billion from local governments, which could trigger cuts in law enforcement and other services.
WIAN: Some of the cuts are so deep they would violate federal requirements and jeopardize billions of dollars in federal bailout money. Already, the Obama administration is threatening to pull funds over proposed pay cuts for unionized health care workers. Governor Schwarzenegger is now in Washington asking the White House to be flexible in applying those rules. Lou?
DOBBS: So it is, it appears tonight to be an outright taxpayer revolt in California?
WIAN: Taxpayers are fed up with the performance of state lawmakers in California. You can listen to voters over and over say they think this is something that their elected leaders should solve. This is a problem they're paid to solve and they're not doing their job, so many of them are simply refusing to vote in this special election, Lou.
DOBBS: And the citizens of California caught between fiscal responsibility, if you will, requiring the governor and the state legislature to start making cuts, and a president who is imposing a very serious threat, a $7 billion threat in support of a union that represents state workers, a union that supported him for president.
WIAN: Absolutely and that's one of the things that the state legislative analysts warned about recently, is by trying to get all this money from the federal government from federal taxpayers, California is risking giving up its sovereignty, if you will, to the federal government. And that's a delicate balance that the state's going to have to navigate over the next few weeks, Lou.
DOBBS: All right. Thank you very much, Casey -- Casey Wian.
Other stories we're following tonight -- the FBI has released photos of the men they believe kidnapped 3-year-old Briant Rodriguez from his California home two weeks ago. The FBI is now offering a $10,000 reward for Israel Moreno and Liberato Vega. Authorities say the two men were in the United States illegally.
Both had, by the way, been previously deported. They are now focusing, authorities are, their search in Mexico. Briant was returned to his family yesterday after police found him wandering in the streets in Mexico.
Dramatic new pictures of a waterspout in Metairie, Louisiana -- two of our iReporters were on their way to a high school graduation party when they spotted the spout. The storm caused some minor damage to the area, but no injuries, fortunately, were reported -- remarkable video.
And former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich seen here filming a reality show promo may be replaced on the show by his wife -- the reality show called "I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here" is set to start filming June 1st in Costa Rica and apparently someone's getting the governor out of there. But a judge barred Blagojevich from leaving the country because of his political corruption trial. His attorney now says the show has offered the spot to the former governor's wife, Patty.
In tonight's "Face-Off", a showdown over Senate legislation to stop credit card companies from abusing credit card customers.
And the swine flu outbreak may be more severe and extensive than health officials have been saying to this point.
ANNOUNCER: Here again, Mr. Independent, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: The Senate today overwhelming approved sweeping credit card legislation designed to protect credit card customers from unfair interest rate increases and outrageous credit card fees. But will this help customers or simply force responsible credit card holders to carry the bill for those who can't pay their debts? This is the topic of our "Face-Off" tonight.
And joining me Gail Hillebrand, senior attorney at Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of "Consumer Reports" magazine -- she's in favor of the credit card bill of rights. Good to have you with us -- Nessa Feddis, who is vice president and senior federal counsel for the American Bankers Association -- she is staunchly against this legislation -- good to have you with us.
DOBBS: Let me begin first with the fact that Visa alone spent $7 million this year to fight this legislation. Millions more spent by the other credit card companies and banks. So I would just say, Ms. Feddis, why does the ABA maintain that this is a bad piece of legislation and work so diligently to stop it?
NESSA FEDDIS, AMERICAN BANKERS ASSOCIATION: Well The industry acknowledges that there were some cardholders who were confused about terms and that Congress had some very clear concerns that it was trying to address. Our concern is that they went too far and they haven't struck the right balance.
A natural and inevitable consequence to their provisions is that credit cards are going to -- interest rates are going to go up across the board. They're going to be harder for people to get. Limits are going to be lower. And people who manage their credit well are going to end up paying for people who don't.
DOBBS: Ms. Hillebrand?
GAIL HILLEBRAND, CONSUMERS UNION: This is basic bipartisan reform to bring some fairness back into credit cards. We're talking about ideas like they have to tell you how much the credit actually costs before you borrow the money instead of offering you a low rate promise and then bumping you up to high-cost debt.
DOBBS: Let's take a look at what the main provisions of this legislation are, if we may. First, a ban on interest rate hikes in the first year of a customer's contract without a 45-day advance notice that are retroactive unless the customer's more than 60 days late on payments or in customers who are late on payments to other lenders. It looks like that the president will be signing this legislation.
It will be the law of the land. It's considered to be slightly tougher on credit card issuers than the Federal Reserve guidelines that go into effect next year. Ms. Feddis, at this point is it possible that this is simply required because the fees and we've had hearing after hearing after hearing on Capitol Hill -- the outrageous fees and interest rate charges that have been documented there, does the credit card industry, the banking industry have anyone to blame but itself?
FEDDIS: Well I think the federal -- as you mentioned, Lou, the Federal Reserve has already addressed the current concerns that Congress has raised. The question is have they gone too far, and will these new price controls, these new restrictions mean that it's going to be harder for everybody to get credit cards? They're going to find limits lower and they're going to pay more.
DOBBS: Ms. Hillebrand, do you agree?
HILLEBRAND: No, I don't. This bill still allows bankers to decide how much to charge you. They just have to decide before you borrow the money. That means as consumers, we can make a responsible choice of how much money to borrow, knowing how much it will really cost, instead of borrowing at one rate and then having the rate go up on the money we've already borrowed.
FEDDIS: Gail and I don't disagree that disclosures could be improved. We were kind of stuck back in the like 80s and those will be improved. People will see great improvement on that, but the problem is that riskier borrowers pay more for credit, just as riskier drivers pay more for insurance. And over time, that risk changes, their profile changes, the environment changes. And if credit card companies can't adjust to those changed risks, they have to then, basically, price that risk up front so all borrowers pay more.
DOBBS: Let me ask you both this in conclusion. This is going to be law, it now appears. The credit card customer who has been hit with all sorts of hidden fees, who has been hit with very -- with retroactive interest rate increases, there is still no usury law in this country. Top end rates are not eliminated here. Is that something that should or should not be addressed? Let me start with you, Miss Hillebrand?
HILLEBRAND: Yes, consumer's union does favor national rates to recap. In the meantime, this bill will provide some important protections for credit card consumers. You won't have to pay an overlimit fee if you never ask to be allowed to go overlimit. If you're trying to pay off your balance by making extra payments, those payments will go to your highest balance. And you won't get stuck for a flimsy reason or a small mistake into that penalty interest rate box.
DOBBS: And Ms. Feddis, your judgments about the prospect of credit card customers having to pay more interest, availability of credit. FEDDIS: Well, I think that getting back to your question about the caps, the senate did vote against usury cases, and history has shown that rate caps mean people pay more and they have less credit available. And many small businesses, self-employed people and others need credit cards to fund their business. So people need credit cards also to get them -- as a we to bridge the gap in some sort of life crisis. Maybe they've had an unexpected medical expense or they've lost their jobs. Credit cards are very important. And we're talking about restricting them in a time when the economy probably doesn't need that kind of restriction.
DOBBS: Nessa Feddis, we thank you for being with us from the ABA, and Gail Hillebrand from the Consumers' Union, we thank you both for being with us.
Attached to the credit card legislation that passed today, an amendment that allows loaded guns in national parks. That measure passed easily with bipartisan support. An outright victor for supporters of the second amendment and to victory hard won. It goes now to the House of Representatives. It could be on the president's desk by the end of this week.
A warning tonight that GPS may be on the verge of failing. GPS, of course, is the satellite navigation system used everywhere, from cars to cell phones. It's also considered vital, of course, to our national security. Now, the government accountability office reports that mismanagement and underinvestment in GPS could lead to system blackouts or even worse. Lisa Sylvester reports.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: From your cell phone to your car, from looking for your favorite coffee shop to landing an airplane. Timing financial transactions, seeking 9/11 help.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome to the OnStar virtual adviser.
SYLVESTER: The global positioning system, better known as GPS, is everywhere. The satellite system works by measuring the time it takes a signal to go from a satellite to a receiver. It takes four satellites to pinpoint an exact location. The United States Air Force operates GPS free of charge and has 30 satellites in its constellation. But the military has not kept up with upgrading its satellites.
CHET HUBER, ONSTAR: The problem is that there are a number of them, eight of the current constellation satellites are one component away from failure.
SYLVESTER: A new Government Accountability Office report says it is uncertain whether the Air Force will be able to acquire new satellites in time to maintain current GPS service without interruption. Old satellites could start to fail as early as next year. For consumers, that could mean less precise data, inaccuracies in getting from point "a" to "b." But for the military that relies on GPS for reconnaissance and navigation, it could be disastrous. ALAN CAMERON, GPS WORLD: They operate in the realm of 98, 99, 99.999 percent. Those are the figures that they're comfortable with. When you drop below 95 percent, then they are not confident of having what they need 24 hours a day, everywhere in the world.
SYLVESTER: The Air Force stands by its program, stating, quote, the current GPS constellation has the most satellites and the greatest capability ever. We are committed to maintaining at least our current level of service.
SYLVESTER: But the Department of Defense has had trouble upgrading the satellites. The current satellite program has overrun its costs by about $870 million and the launch of its first satellite is scheduled for November of this year. Lou, almost three years late. Lou?
DOBBS: All right. That's troubling. Because we are becoming increasingly, as a society, dependent upon GPS, of course. Lisa, thank you very much. Lisa Sylvester from Washington.
Well, many of you are writing in saying house speaker Nancy Pelosi must go. We'll take up that issue with our panel tonight.
And the spread of the swine flu. More schools are closing, more people are dying, more cases are being reported, but there is a strong suspicion that not all cases, anywhere near all the cases are being reported. Tonight, the latest on the outbreak.
DOBBS: The swine flu outbreak in this country is spreading and it is spreading fast. According to the Centers for Disease Control, as many as 100,000 Americans may already have the swine flu virus. The number of confirmed cases is, however, being reported as less than 6,000. Joining me now, Dr. Anthony Fauci. Dr. Fauci is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Doctor, good to have you here.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NTL. INST. OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASE: Good to be here.
DOBBS: Let me begin, if I may, with what is becoming, I think, a building suspicion that we're not seeing even a close, close report on the number of cases, either by the W.H.O., or by public health authorities in this country. Because, anecdotally, we're being told that schools are being closed in various places, but there's no central reporting on that. We're being told of hospitals being overrun with cases in some instances, in which the emergency rooms have so many patients that they're having trouble dealing with them. And yet we're also being told, simultaneously, that there's many schools, public health agencies are simply not screening for the swine flu. What's going on?
FAUCI: Well, there certainly is a considerable amount of flu activity out there right now. As the CDC has said, even though it's difficult to pin down the exact numbers, there's probably up to 100,000 cases. Mostly very, very mild. And in general, it still seems to resemble a seasonal flu only out of season, with some serious cases that come to attention of people particularly in the media, when someone gets seriously ill. But there are a considerable number of cases out there. And this particular outbreak is still alive and there. It's in a dynamic state. That's the reason why we say it's not over yet. It still needs to be watched very carefully.
DOBBS: And as you and I were discussing the situation a week and a half ago, when, by the way, there'd only been two deaths in this country, fewer than 1,000 cases reported at that point. As we were discussing, the idea that this flu virus is spreading at a time when typically the flu season would have either ended or waning to the point of almost ending.
FAUCI: Right. That is -- I mean, that's unusual to have flu cases like this. In some respects, to have this new virus, and as we discussed, it's a brand new virus, so it's unpredictable, that when you get out of the flu season, the conditions that allow for a very rapid spread are generally in the winter, in the fall and winter. Fortunately for us, we're not there now, and we're getting further and further away from that. So hopefully we'll see a stabilization and a decrease. The big question, as we discussed last week, is that what's going to happen in our fall and winter with this particular virus.
DOBBS: Well, Dr. Fauci, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has said that the United States is not going to order a vaccine at this point, is holding off, because they don't believe that the vaccine would be appropriate to whatever this is evolving toward. Do you agree with that decision?
FAUCI: Yes, but what she said is that we're not placing specific orders, but we are, right now, in the process of vaccine development. As I mentioned last week, the seed viruses that are being grown up that are going to be distributed to the pharmaceutical companies to make pilot lots are already in progression. What the secretary was referring to was specific preorders, as other countries have done.
DOBBS: And as you are preparing those vaccines and working hard to develop them, there is -- there seems to be a contest in the public view right now. One is that the media's hyping the swine flu outbreak. The other is that the public health agencies and local and federal government are not being sufficiently responsive, that is, whether it's closing schools or reporting accurately on those cases. Dr. Fauci, you and I have known each other for a long time. There's no one in science or medicine that I trust anymore than you and Dr. Donald Lowe. I would like you to just tell us, where are we right now?
FAUCI: I don't think it's being overhyped. To be really honest with you, Lou, I think the public health authorities, particularly the CDC in our country and W.H.O. are playing it just right. What they're doing is they're proceeding with a lot of caution. They're all over this and they're monitoring it very, very carefully. I think if they did anything else, that there would be criticisms for that. So I really see, from my professional opinion, they're really doing a very good job, and I don't believe the media is overhyping it.
DOBBS: Dr. Anthony Fauci, as always, we appreciate you being here.
FAUCI: Good to be here.
DOBBS: To set us straight. Thanks so much. And to also be sure to get that vaccine to us all as well. Dr. Anthony Fauci at the national institutes of health. One of the leading experts in the world in infectious diseases.
Next here on CNN, at the top of the hour, "NO BIAS, NO BULL." That means Roland Martin in for Campbell Brown. Roland?
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Lou.
President Obama's tough new road rules for the auto industry are supposed to lead to better cars and cleaner air. What they really mean for you and your wallet.
The governor's effort to crack down on credit card companies moves another step closer to becoming reality today. We'll look at whether reform will bring relief for the millions of people who say that fees and interest rates are unfair.
Also, former NFL quarterback Michael Vick is expected to soon be freed after serving time on dogfighting charges. The question, should he be allowed to return to the NFL? A lot of folks say no. We want to know what you think on that.
All of that at the top of the hour.
DOBBS: And the word in from our viewers, Nancy Pelosi must go. We'll be talking about that with our panel next.
Also, the governor of Nevada says President Obama is a hypocrite.
DOBBS: Joining me now, three of my favorite radio talk show hosts. In San Diego from KOGO, Chip Franklin. Good to have you with us. In Washington, D.C., from Sirius XM, Joe Madison, Joe good to see you. And here in New York from WOR, Steve Malzberg. Good to have you here.
Let's start Chip with you. $80 million, the senate said, no thanks, Mr. President. You haven't got a plan to close Guantanamo or what to do with 241 detainees, so we'll pass. This is the first real slap at the president by the senate Democrats.
CHIP FRANKLIN, KOGO IN SAN DIEGO: You know, I think I figured out, Lou, what to do with all those detainees. You take them to New York and fill all those empty seats in Yankee Stadium.
DOBBS: That's heresy in this town. FRANKLIN: There's a lot of problems and obviously the biggest problem for the administration is to deal with being a president. It's easy to run a campaign. When you're a president, the problems become real. And the political aspects are. . So it's difficult. They were going to send them to us, to Miramar and to Pendleton. And people said, whoa, whoa, whoa, that's not happening here. It's a big problem for him.
DOBBS: Joe, as we look at this, this is the first setback for the president. The first real -- you know, Mr. President, the charm offensive has ended, we're going to deal with this the way we think we should. What are your thoughts?
JOE MADISON, SIRIUS XM RADIO: We had the same problem here in Arlington. They had considered putting them in a detainee prison here that the federal government uses and Arlington did the same thing. They said, no. However, if you remember, Lou, and others, there was the group out of, what was it, Montana, that had prisons that were empty.
DOBBS: They're ready to go.
MADISON: They're ready to go. And what a lot of people don't know is that oftentimes, prisoners get counted in the census of these communities so that they can get larger allotments. So you really have some areas, particularly rural areas, that are telling the president, bring the prisoners to us.
FRANKLIN: That's a great idea.
DOBBS: If 241 detainees make the difference in a congressional district this time, I'm going to be shocked.
MADISON: It could in some of these towns. Well, when you start talking about earmarks and allocations, it could.
DOBBS: By the time you get to earmarks, we'll see what could happen in this country.
STEVE MALZBERG, WOR IN NEW YORK: Look, Lou, this isn't surprising. He just -- he reversed himself, apparently, on gays in the military. The pentagon saying today, we have no intention or plans right now to do anything about that. The photos, first he was going to give into the ACLU, not appeal it, then he said, whoa, I'm not going to release the photos. He likes to play a good game by talking and charming, but when push comes to shove, he doesn't have a plan on many issues, except taking over the economy totally from us. That's all.
DOBBS: Let's go to the issue, since you brought it up, of Nancy Pelosi. Nancy Pelosi is -- has created a firestorm, Chip, that the likes of which is, I think -- well, I haven't seen anything like it in a long time. And it's all of her making.
FRANKLIN: Honestly, Lou, I think Pelosi's a red herring. The real question is, does the U.S. government have a policy of torture? And the answer is, what is torture? Is it making detainees watch repeated viewings of Keith Olbermann? Maybe, I don't know. The point is, we have to decide on what kind of country we are. And that's a real? I mean, Pelosi was on board in 2002. Now she calls the CIA a liar. What's changed? She's a politician.
MADISON: The laws are very clear as to what torture is. You're right, we do have to decide what type of country we are and whether or not we're going to object to torture that was used by our -- against our soldiers and we now use them. But I agree with you. This is of her own making. I did a poll today because I told people I would be on your show, Lou. The majority of people that called in said the best thing that Pelosi could have done was admit, after 9/11, I thought it was the best thing to do. Now that I've had a chance to think about it, I disagree. But most people think she is, and I'll just say it straight up because they said it, that she's just lying. She's just lying. She's not being truthful.
MALZBERG: Between her and Joe Biden, I don't know who I'm more frightened of. The number two in line for the presidency or the number three in line for the presidency. What Nancy Pelosi did is she said, hey, I was lied to, I was misled. What about the other 60 members of congress that were briefed by the CIA? Why aren't they lining up behind her saying, so were we? She's the only one here. I think there's something wrong here, obviously.
MADISON: Can I make one other point, if you don't mind? And that is, I want everyone to know that there's not going to be any prosecution of Democrats or Republicans because they're all complicit. And that's why there may be -- there might be a truth commission, but I'm guaranteeing you there will not be any prosecution.
FRANKLIN: Joe, Joe, Joe. Those Montana jails, I bet they hold 535 people.
MALZBERG: Joe, everybody who was complicit was complicit in protecting the nation and keeping it as safe as possible.
DOBBS: Chuck Schumer in 2004, I mean, saying, point-blank, you know, he -- nearly every senator would want every step taken possible to protect the American people. There is a change of attitude. And this sanctimonious nonsense emanating -- I don't care from what corner -- has got to end. It's not honest and it goes to, as we're talking about, the character of this country. By the way, we're not talking about uniformed military. We're talking about terrorists.
FRANKLIN: Lou, the CIA is an honorable institution. Yeah, there are problems in the CIA, like there is with a lot of bureaucracy, but for her to call them liars, that's bad. These are men and women without we would not be able to have this conversation today.
MADISON: Well, my audience has a different relationship with the CIA that goes back to Interpol. And when you use the word honorable, I can tell you, you'd get quite an objection from my audience.
MALZBERG: That's because they believe a lot of nonsense.
MADISON: Excuse me. Really, I'm going to defend my audience. They wouldn't be wrong when it came to spying on people like King and domestic spying.
MALZBERG: Talk to Robert F. Kennedy about that.
FRANKLIN: That was the FBI --
DOBBS: We're going to hug and kiss be right back right after this. We'll be back with also with our poll results.
DOBBS: We're back with our panel. Michael Steele, the Republican national committee chairman, going after the president, not Pelosi or any of these underlings, like Senator Reid. What's the deal?
MALZBERG: He says he's told all the time by strategist, you can't take on Obama, he's too popular. Go after Pelosi and the less popular people. I disagree, he disagrees. You've got to go after Obama. You've got to educate the people as to what he's doing to this country. By the way, he should go to the African-American country and point out that Barack Obama is opposed to them on the issues of abortion, gay rights and say, come to us, listen to us. That's what Michael Steele should be doing.
FRANKLIN: Stay away from the wedge issues, get back to the pocketbook. That's what Americans care about. The economic policies of the stimulus package. Do you know this? That we've only spent 6 percent of the stimulus money. Let the American people know that. The economy's coming back on its own volition, through people believing, through confidence. Only 6 percent. We're only going to spend 30 percent by 2010.
DOBBS: Were you for stimulus or were you against it?
FRANKLIN: Against it!
DOBBS: Well, then you should be exulting at only 6 percent?
FRANKLIN: But who's going to get credit for the recovery? The stimulus money. It's not what fixes the economy. People fix the economy. People that believe with confidence that they can move forward, they can be successful, not government policies. By the way, when was the last time you ever heard Schwarzenegger or anybody else fire bureaucrats. We're going to have to let cops, let law enforcement, we'll fire them, and teachers. Fire bureaucrats! Did you know this? There are 160 teachers in L.A. -- this is true. 160 teachers in L.A. County getting paid $10 million a year. They don't report to work. They're under suspicion of sexual harassment --
DOBBS: Joe Madison, I've got to intercede in your behalf. MADISON: I'm so tempted to bite at Steve's bait. But because I talk to African-Americans every day. Here's what I hope Michael Steele would do.
DOBBS: So do I.
MADISON: I mean -- excuse me. I mean --
DOBBS: I know what you mean, but I had to say that.
MADISON: Well, I appreciate y'all saying that, but I mean in large numbers, like the 90 percentile.
DOBBS: Or, you're talking about as a percentage. All right.
MADISON: Yeah, that's what I meant. I'm not trying to be offensive here. But I do hope that Michael Steele is very successful at getting more African-Americans in the Republican Party, because I want a viable alternative. I really, honestly do. Because there's a risk of having a party taking for granted --
DOBBS: I'm going to have to -- I intercede on your behalf and now I'll have to cut you off. I think there is a viable alternative to that, by the way, to the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. Gentleman, thank you very much for being here. Chip, Joe, thank you very much, Steve, thank you very much.
Tonight's poll results, just 99 percent of you support checking the immigration status of those who pass through our city and county jails. Thanks for being with us tonight.
"NO BIAS, NO BULL" starts right now. In for Campbell Brown, Roland Martin.
MARTIN: Hey, folks. Give me your car, and your wallet, a tune- up. The white house forcing automakers to build better, cleaner cars will save you lots of money, but not everyone is so sure.
And the credit card debt trap. Will proposed reforms save Americans money? That's just some of what we're talking about tonight with CNN anchor and correspondent, Erica Hill. Chief business correspondent, Ali Velshi. National political correspondent, Jessica Yellin. And Lisa Bloom, "IN SESSION" anchor and CNN legal analyst.