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U.S. Military Searches for Soldier Captured by Taliban; Tracking the Stimulus; Oakland to Vote on Medical Marijuana Taxation; Study Targets Smog as Factor in Fetal Development; How to Pay for Health Care Reform
Aired July 21, 2009 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And we're coming up to the top of the hour right. Welcome once again to AMERICAN MORNING on this Tuesday. It's July 21st, glad you're with us. I'm Kiran Chetry.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. I'm John Roberts. Here's what's on the agenda. The big stories that we'll be breaking down for you in the next 15 minutes.
A six-month setback and a big backlash. The White House admits it will miss today's deadline for two terrorism reports. The information is a key part of a plan to shut down Guantanamo Bay. So what does this mean for the president's executive order to close the prison camp by January?
CHETRY: Also friends and family of a soldier captured by the Taliban telling him to stand tall and stand firm this morning. His entire town rallying around the family. And the Pentagon said that it's doing everything it can to rescue Private Bowe Bergdahl. We're live at the Pentagon with the latest.
ROBERTS: Plus, it's the White House versus Arizona after the number two Republican in the Senate, Arizona's Jon Kyl, said that the stimulus should be canceled. The White House tells the state, no problem. Now Arizona's other senator is stepping into the war of words. Senator John McCain joins us live just ahead.
But first, President Obama is facing a fierce backlash from the left this morning. The White House admits that it will miss a deadline set for today on a pair of reports detailing what to do with terrorism suspects. It's raising serious doubts about the president's first executive order, made just two days after his inauguration, promising to shut down Gitmo within a year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This first executive order that we are signing, in order to effect the appropriate disposition of individuals currently detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo, and promptly to close the detention facility at Guantanamo consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice, I hereby order.
(END VIDEO CLIP) ROBERTS: Let's bring in our Suzanne Malveaux. She's live at the White House for us this morning. What's the administration saying about these reports that it missed?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, obviously, it's a lot more difficult to figure out where to put these detainees. Some are too dangerous to figure out where they're going to go in terms of other countries accepting them. Others have to be put on trial. But they do say that they are making some progress, some strong progress here.
Obviously, and on the timetable that they had hoped, that they say they're about halfway through the cases, reviewing these cases of detainees. They say about 50 are prepared for transfer, but this is going to take some more time. They admit that, readily admit that it's going to be at least another six months extension to review these cases. Two months for the task force looking at interrogation techniques. But they do insist, John, that they are going to make that deadline of January, next January, of shutting Guantanamo Bay prison camp down -- John.
ROBERTS: A deadline, though, it looks like the president is probably going to miss is the August deadline to get a health care plan out of Congress. He's out there. He's selling it again today.
But, you know, the other day, he said, well, you know, I want something by the end of the year. How worried is the White House that this plan is not going to make it and that we may again miss an opportunity to reform health care?
MALVEAUX: John, all you have to do is take a look at the behavior of this administration and this president to see exactly how concerned they are about this. We saw the president come out in full force on Friday. Then a YouTube address on Saturday. Yesterday, again, holding out today, tomorrow with a prime time address taking his message on the road to northern Ohio on Thursday.
He is out there every single day trying to push this really, really hard, trying to put pressure not only on members of Congress. He's privately bringing in groups, Democrats, as well as Republicans to talk to them, to try to do a little arm twisting. But he is also trying to take this message directly to the American people in the hopes that he can get more support to push forward this reform.
This is a tough, tough job for this president. Obviously, yes, he said yesterday looking to the end of the year, trying to push that August recess for Congress, but there are no guarantees, and this administration very much aware of that, John.
ROBERTS: All right. Suzanne Malveaux for us live at the White House this morning. Suzanne, thanks so much.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: We have an update now on the desperate search for a kidnapped American soldier. They're now looking for clues in this tape. This is the tape that the Taliban put up on a Web site parading first class -- Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl in front of the world. The U.S. military called it propaganda. This morning, we are learning new details about the plan to find him.
Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is with us now with new information on the search. And, Barbara, what do we know this morning?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kiran, we spoke just a little while ago to a senior U.S. military official with knowledge of what is going on. And he says right now the working theory is that Bowe Bergdahl is still somewhere in Afghanistan, not over the border in Pakistan. The U.S. military says they're doing everything they can to find him.
STARR (voice-over): Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl held captive by the Taliban for three weeks, clearly in fear, missing his family.
PFC. BOWE ROBERT BERGDAHL, U.S. ARMY: I miss them. Every day that I'm gone, I miss them. And I'm afraid that I might never see them again.
ROBERT GATES, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Our commanders are sparing no effort to find this young soldier. And I also would say my personal reaction was one of disgust at the exploitation of this young man.
STARR: Hundreds of troops have fanned out across Afghanistan's eastern Paktika province since Bergdahl was captured June 30th. U.S. military officials will confirm few details of the urgent hunt, but have acknowledged they have cordoned off areas, conducted searches and are using drones to watch overhead for any signs of the 23-year-old soldier being moved. The U.S. intelligence community also continues to monitor cell phone traffic in the region according to officials.
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, just returned from the region.
ADM. MICHAEL MULLEN, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: Having been with the forces, in fact, who are conducting the operations to recover him or to find him, is -- they are extensive, vast. They're on it 24/7.
STARR: The U.S. has been distributing these pamphlets in the region, seeking information. One reading, "If you do not release the U.S. soldier, then you will be hunted." But the biggest clues may come from this 28-minute tape.
KEN ROBINSON, FORMER MILITARY INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: We teach soldiers that if they can get on video they should, because it gives the United States proof of life.
STARR: The U.S. military is now analyzing each frame for clues about who is holding Bergdahl and where he is being held.
STARR: Now, Kiran, when U.S. troops go to the war zone, they get some very basic training in what to do if heaven forbid they are captured. One of the things they try and teach soldiers is look for any opportunity to escape. Sometimes your captors lose attention, and you can just simply get out.
But if that doesn't happen, and it doesn't look like it's going to, there are, indeed, hostage rescue teams, as there always are, on stand by 24/7 if they do get a good lead on where he is -- Kiran.
CHETRY: And the interesting thing they talked about if you can get on tape, do it for the proof of life. But also, is there any ability to get signals that are not identified by your captor?
STARR: Well, you know, I think years ago in Vietnam, the POWs, some of them when they appeared on tape and in other instances, they have given signals, eye signals, hand signals, that sort of thing. It's always possible. It's the kind of thing that they will look for, and one of the things they will also look at very intently on that tape is the voice of the person asking the questions. They will look -- although that person speaks in English, what his accent is, and if that can give them any clues about what part of this border region Bergdahl may be in -- Kiran.
CHETRY: Yes. And as we know, it's like looking for a needle in a haystack, unfortunately. Barbara Starr for us this morning from the Pentagon. Thank you.
Also, Bergdahl's family friend who's known the family for years is going to be joining us in just about ten minutes to talk about what the Pentagon is now telling the family as well.
ROBERTS: A Harvard professor is claiming that he was the victim of racial profiling this morning after police arrested him at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., one of the most well-known black scholars in the country, was locked out of his House and trying to wedge his way in through a door when a neighbor called police. Gates became irate when police arrived on the scene, calling the officers racist and saying this is what happens to black men in America. He was arrested for disorderly conduct.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER ROBINSON, NEIGHBOR: If a Harvard professor is arrested, breaking into his own home, it has a certain comical aspect. On the other hand, as you know, a person of color, you know, one has to wonder whether he was treated as any other Harvard professor might be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: So far, Cambridge police have not commented on the case. Gates is scheduled to be arraigned on the 26th of August for breaking into his own home.
News this morning. After months of fighting and paying some bills with IOUs, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislators have reached an agreement on the state's $100 billion budget. Schwarzenegger told reporters outside his office that the budget has no tax increases. It cuts spending and deals with the entire $26 billion budget deficit.
CHETRY: Also, astronomers say that Jupiter has been struck by a comet. Images taken by NASA show a fresh scar in the atmosphere near the south pole of the planet. The space agency apparently had no idea about it until an amateur astronomer tipped them off.
The bizarre part of it, it was 15 years ago to the day that this happened before. At that time, Jupiter was hit for nearly a week by bits of a comet. The event was considered a once-in-ten-thousand-year spectacle.
ROBERTS: Michael Jackson's father is heaping fresh blame on one of his son's doctors and is now calling his pop star son's death "foul play." We'll show you what he said on "LARRY KING LIVE" last night and bring you the very latest on the family's toxicology report.
It's nine and a half minutes after the hour.
CHETRY: Welcome back. It's 11 minutes past the hour. A beautiful shot this morning in Dallas. Seventy-six degrees right now. A little bit later, though, it's going up to 94 with a chance of a storm. It looks like you need your umbrella just about everywhere today, except Phoenix.
ROBERTS: It's actually here in New York City.
ROBERTS: A Hollywood star is stepping in to help dozens of kids who were turned away from a swim club outside of Philadelphia over racism allegations. All 65 kids from the largely minority day care center are going on an all-expenses paid trip to Disney World.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you want to know the celebrity that you will be meeting that has paid for your trip to Disney World, the celebrity name is...
ALL: Tyler Perry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: There you have it. Tyler Perry, best known for his work on movies like "Madea's Family Reunion" and the television show "House of Payne," Perry says he wanted to let the kids know that for every negative experience that there might be in the world, there are people out there who want them to succeed.
The Valley Club has been sued by one parent, faces another suit from the camp. The club says the issue was one of safety and not racism.
And join us for a two-night prime time event. Our Soledad O'Brien brings us "BLACK IN AMERICA 2," the newest installment of CNN's groundbreaking report. It starts at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 Pacific, tomorrow. That's right after the president speaks, and it continues at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Thursday, only on CNN.
CHETRY: Thirteen minutes past the hour. Right now, Christine Romans "Minding Your Business" today.
And this is very interesting. You guys did some digging to figure out where all of the stimulus money is going. Some of it from much new things, of course. But they always manage to throw a little pork in there.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Exactly -- $16 million for canned pork, processed cheese. We're looking through all the stimulus money, "Minding Your Business," tracking the money, trying to figure out how your money has been spent. And it's pretty interesting when you start digging through recovery.gov, the government's Web site, that's supposed to be very transparent to show you just how much money is going out the door and for what.
You follow along the theme of never had so much money been spent in such a short amount of time. We're trying to just kind of keeping them honest on how they're spending it.
So we found, drum roll please: Jennie-O Turkey Store, $5.3 million in Minnesota. $5.3 million for turkey, we said. Nowhere on the Web site did it sort of say what that was for. We called the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Of course, it's for food banks and for soup kitchens. Jennie-O Turkey, $5.3 million.
We also found, you know, another $5 million for processed cheese, $16 million for canned pork. If you're wondering that canned pork we're paying $1.99 a pound. So it's not a bad price, I guess.
Also found $251 for Workingman's Family Store in Huntington, West Virginia. Found out that $251 is for work foods for the Army Corps of Engineers or some of the workers there. But then, digging into it, they found that -- oh, wait, the stimulus money, they can't actually spend it on work foods for the workers. So the government tells us they're going to be refunding that money.
ROMANS: For a few pair of boots. This is how detailed they are. I'm keeping track of some of this.
Here's some bridge painting in Fort Riley, Kansas -- $783,776 to point a bridge. We are told from the folks there that this is a bridge that spans the emergency spillway of Tuttle Creek Dam and, frankly, that they're going to have to -- it will protect the steel from rusting and eroding by, you know, the environment chemical and all that stuff.
So, these are just some of the things we're doing with the money.
ROBERTS: Do you how big this bridge is?
ROMANS: I don't know how big that bridge is actually, but there are some other bridges on there that are actually much more expensive than this. But if you want to go on recovery.gov, you can see all this stuff. You can even look at some of these maps, find your hometown or your congressional districts, find out what's happening in your hometown, and right down to what companies are getting what money.
It's interesting. Some of the places we called, they weren't even quite aware it was stimulus money. They just knew that they sort of had a contract from the government. But you can find all kinds of different things on there, and it's really kind of an interesting analysis of how this money is going out in a lot of different ways.
ROBERTS: Where do you go to find it?
ROMANS: Recovery.gov. Which brings me to the "Romans' Numeral." The "Romans' Numeral" is 2,300.
And the reason I pull this one up because this is how many times recovery.gov gets a hit every minute. So, people are really looking here, trying to figure out where their money is going. And as I keep saying, never had we spent so much money in such a short amount of time. This is kind of a way to keep track of it.
And again, there are some weaknesses. Sometimes there's just kind of a random thing up there, like what is this for? And you start to do a little digging.
If you find anything interesting on there that you think is maybe shouldn't be there, or you're concerned about it, you think it's interesting and nutty, let us know. We'd be interested in tracking it down. There's a lot on there. I encourage you to take a look.
CHETRY: CNN.com/amFIX. Let us know if you've got an eagle eye.
ROBERTS: The power of the people working.
ROMANS: Jennie-O Turkey -- your money for Jennie-O Turkey. But it is for food banks. The USDA, they tell us there's a legit purpose for that.
CHETRY: Good. All right. Christine Romans, thanks so much.
ROMANS: You're welcome.
CHETRY: And still ahead, we're going to be talking with the family friend of the missing soldier in Afghanistan. He's going to talk about what the Pentagon is telling the family about the desperate search for the private. We'll be back in a moment.
ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Family and friends of Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl are urging him to stand tall and stand firm today. The Pentagon confirms that Private Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban while on duty in Afghanistan three weeks ago. The military says it's doing everything that it can to rescue him.
The soldier's family is having their sheriff speak to the media for them. And Sheriff Walt Femling joins us now from Hailey, Idaho.
Sheriff, it's great to see you. How is the family holding up this morning?
SHERIFF WALT FEMLING, BLAINE COUNTY, IDAHO: You know, they're trying to stay positive. And, you know, it's a difficult time certainly, but I think they're hanging in there.
ROBERTS: Right. I assume that they've seen the video that was released over the weekend. How did they react to that?
FEMLING: Yes. You know, I didn't talk to them specifically how they reacted to it but, you know, it's like most of us, it was difficult to watch. And, you know, I don't watch it anymore. You know, it would be nice if they didn't even play that video any longer.
ROBERTS: I would assume as a parent myself that there would be some sense of relief to see pictures of him apparently healthy, but at the same time just heightens the anxiety to wonder what he's going through. And in the interview that was done to him to hear the responses that he gave and how much he misses his family and his loved ones as well.
FEMLING: Certainly. You know, it's comforting to know right now that, you know, he's all right and to be able to see him. But other than that, yes, the rest of that, is, as you said, it's difficult to watch.
ROBERTS: Yes. There's been a huge outpouring of support in his hometown of Hailey, and you can see one of the signs behind you there. Has the family been able to take some strength from the fact that the community is coming together the way it is to support them?
FEMLING: Yes, you know, that's -- everything about our community is, you know, we are a tight group. You know, the community just jumps right into action immediately. You know, everywhere you drive are yellow ribbons and they're passing yellow ribbons out. And, you know, that is comforting, you know, that all that positive energy, you know, all their prayers are going in Bowe's direction, and that's helpful. Very helpful.
ROBERTS: Are neighbors and friends actually coming over to the family home to give their support in person, or is the family pretty much sequestered at this point? FEMLING: Well, you know, they live in an area where there's not a lot of neighbors around. The neighbors that do live there are certainly there supporting and helping out.
ROBERTS: One aspect of the story that I find absolutely remarkable is that there were a number of people in the town who knew -- when we're talking about this idea that a soldier had been taken captive in eastern Afghanistan, they knew that it was Bowe Bergdahl, and, yet, they didn't say anything. How does the town keep a secret like that?
FEMLING: Well, you got to understand our community here. We have many, many high-profile people that live within our community, and, you know, when you see a -- you know, for instance, a movie star or somebody like that going down the road, they don't run up and ask for their autograph, they respect people's privacy here. And that's exactly what -- in this case what happened.
ROBERTS: You know, sheriff, I think America only knows Bowe Bergdahl for what they have been able to see on the videotape so far. But as somebody who knows the family, knows him, what can you tell us about Bowe?
FEMLING: You know, in 2006, you know, he came to me and wanted to rent one of the apartments that I had for rent, and I usually don't rent to 20 year olds. But, you know, he was so respectful, and after I, you know, communicated, talked with him, you know, I did go ahead and rent to him.
You know, he was always on his bike or walking around the community. He worked hard. You know, I remember talking to him. He was talking like he wanted to go to Alaska and work up there. You know, more of an adventurer. And, you know, I told him at his age I did the same thing, you know, worked in Alaska. So, you know, he was just -- you know, a young man starting to, you know, find his direction and what he wanted to do.
ROBERTS: Right. Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is saying that the military, insisting that the military is doing everything it can to try to get Bowe Bergdahl back. And I know that you had an opportunity to talk with the family last night. Can you tell us what the Pentagon is saying to them?
FEMLING: You know, I'm not privy to that information. I haven't specifically talked to them, you know, with regards to the Pentagon. So I can't really answer that question.
ROBERTS: All right. Well, certainly our thoughts and prayers are with the family and we're all praying for a speedy release of Bowe Bergdahl.
FEMLING: Thank you.
ROBERTS: Sheriff Walt Femling, thanks for joining us this morning from Hailey, Idaho. Really appreciate you taking the time.
FEMLLING: Yes, thank you.
ROBERTS: It's now 24 minutes after the hour.
CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Twenty- six minutes past the hour right now.
You know, there are some explosive allegations being made now by Michael Jackson's father about his death.
ROBERTS: Yes, they are. Even before the autopsy reveals officially what killed the pop star, Joe Jackson told CNN's Larry King last night that his son's death was foul play. He also denied that he beat and ridiculed Michael as a child.
JOE JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON'S FATHER: You don't take a doctor and stick him in the room there. And the doctor gave him something to make him rest, and then you don't wake up no more? Something is wrong there.
LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Are you implying then that the doctor committed foul play?
JACKSON: Well, something went wrong. Something went wrong, Larry, because when they tried to bring Michael back, he was dead. Something went wrong.
KING: What do you say about all these things that have been said over the years that you harmed Michael as a child?
JACKSON: Oh, that's a bunch of bull s. That's a bunch of bull s.
KING: Straighten me out.
JACKSON: That's not true.
KING: You never physically harmed him?
JACKSON: Never. Never have. And I raised him just like you would raise your kids, you know? But to harm Michael, for what? I have no reason. That's my son. I loved him. And I still love him.
KING: Are you surprised, Joe, that you were left out of the will?
JACKSON: Well, I wasn't too surprised, because, you know, that's what his will -- that's the way he wanted it. And it's not going to hurt me that I was let out of the will. It happened. And I can't do anything about it.
KING: Were you estranged from Michael? JACKSON: Well, he left it to his mother, you know, as much as he could. And -- and I figured that at least she's pretty fair a lady to be able to -- to be fair with everything about the will.
KING: Are you and she separated?
JACKSON: No, we're not.
KING: You're still a married couple?
JACKSON: That's right.
ROBERTS: We should note that when Joe Jackson says it's bull s that he beat Michael Jackson, those allegations came from Michael Jackson himself.
Joe Jackson also pointed out that he currently lives in Las Vegas, so he doesn't get to spend a whole lot of time with Michael Jackson's three children.
CHETRY: All right. Well, it's 28 minutes past the hour right now. We check our top stories.
Pakistan's military is saying more than 50 militants are dead after two days of bloody fighting in the northwest region of the country near the Afghan border. They also say that three Pakistani soldiers were killed.
The violence comes as some two million civilians are trying to head back to the neighboring Swat Valley region after a massive turf war with the Taliban.
ROBERTS: Right now, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Bangkok, Thailand for a meeting with the country's prime minister. Before Thailand, she was in India talking of Pakistan's commitment to fighting terrorism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I've seen a real commitment on the part of the Pakistani government and the Pakistani people. They're taking on the extremists that threaten them. It's no longer about somebody else. It's their hotels that are being blown up and their police that are being killed. And their people who are being beheaded and mistreated for simple things that no one would think are in any way an offense.
So, anything we can do to try to convey support for those who are standing up against extremism anywhere is part of my mission and our country's mission.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Next up, Secretary Clinton will tackle what to do about North Korea and Myanmar at a summit with several Southeast Asian nations in Phuket, Thailand.
CHETRY: Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says the nation's military isn't big enough. Secretary Gates says that the Army will temporarily add 22,000 soldiers to help fight in both Iraq and Afghanistan. It's the second time the military has added to its numbers since 2007.
ROBERTS: And with fewer people flying, Continental Airlines is announcing a huge loss for the second quarter. The Houston-based airline says it lost $213 million in the quarter that ended last month. Continental says that loss is going to cost 1,700 people their jobs, as well. It's going to cost travelers. The airline says it is going to raise by $5 its fee for checked baggage.
CHETRY: All right. Republicans are hitting the Obama administration hard, not only over the cost of overhauling health care, but also the stimulus plan. Whether it's working effectively and whether it's worth the billions it cost. In Arizona, it turned up to a dustup between one senator and members of the administration, and now Senator John McCain is joining that fight over whether the stimulus spending should be outright canceled. Senator John McCain is joining us live from Capitol Hill this morning.
Good to have you with us again, senator. Thanks for being here.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Thank you, Kiran.
CHETRY: Well, you know, your fellow senator, Arizona's Jon Kyl, has said that the stimulus should be canceled. He called it a failure. Do you think that we should stop the spending?
MCCAIN: Jon Kyl was on a talk show on Sunday, talking about how the stimulus has failed, which it has, and only 10 percent of the money has been distributed, and the predictions of the administration were there would be eight percent unemployment. We're now at 9.5 percent, headed for 10.
So, in an arrogant use of power, the president's chief of staff, Mr. Rahm Emanuel, told four cabinet secretaries to send a letter to our governor and ask her if she wanted the money or not. Now, our governor is right in the middle of a fiscal crisis and doesn't need that kind of harassment. So, the point is that the money has been, is being spent. The money has been allocated, and it is a failure and that's what Jon Kyl was talking about. And what Rahm Emanuel did was an arrogant use of power, that's all.
CHETRY: Well, what you're referring to is letters that went out to the governor of Arizona. One of them came from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a Republican, who wrote that if you prefer to forfeit the money we are making available to your state as Senator Kyl suggests, please let me know.
But politics aside, do you think Arizona should say...
MCCAIN: Astonishing that they are making available? My state of Arizona is a donor state. We send more money to Washington than it sends back, so secretary of transportation is making available to Arizona our own money? I tell you, that's a remarkable statement. A remarkable statement.
CHETRY: What I'm wondering, though, is so we have Jon Kyl criticizing the stimulus, and saying that it's failing.
MCCAIN: As have I, and it is.
CHETRY: Right. And both senators from the state are saying that. So, what about perhaps putting your money...
MCCAIN: We're saying it failed.
CHETRY: What about putting your money where your mouth is and, OK, let's not take any money.
MCCAIN: We are saying that it failed, it has failed by any measurement. And by the way, one of the cabinet secretaries told me over the phone in these words that the letter that was sent is political b.s. That's what he said to me. And you know what? He's right.
CHETRY: So, do you think that the administration is out for political revenge for those who that don't agree...
MCCAIN: Of course.
CHETRY: With the stimulus?
MCCAIN: Of course. Why else would the present chief of staff, in the midst of all of the issues that we have, take time out to order four cabinet secretaries to send a letter to the governor of the state of Arizona trying to put her and Senator Kyl in a very uncomfortable position? That's - it's ridiculous.
CHETRY: Let's get back to the actual dollar amounts. Because it's no secret many states are struggling right now. As you said, Arizona one of them. According to the administration, they would be giving at least $521 million intended to go toward transit projects in your state. Another $45 million for housing loans, and some $73 million, I guess, that would be coming from HUD. Would you be willing to give up that kind of money for your state?
MCCAIN: I'm very concerned about the fact that with the Medicaid increases contemplated in the health bill that just went through the United States Senate committee, which I said would be putting billions of additional costs onto the state of Arizona and other states around America, which the governors just last weekend said they simply could not afford. Which is another reason why the health care plan as propounded by the president is failing in the minds of the American people.
CHETRY: Back to the stimulus money, though. For and you Jon Kyl...
MCCAIN: It's our tax dollars, and we obviously feel very strongly that we don't want our tax dollars wasted, especially Arizona's tax dollars. We send more money to Washington. The bill has been passed, the money is being distributed. Unfortunately, only 10 percent of it, and that is the case. But the stimulus has been a failure and everybody knows it.
CHETRY: So your governor, Jan Brewer, did put up on the Web site, where this money is going. Saying it's going to protect some of (INAUDIBLE), it's going to grow Arizona's future, it's going to create jobs. The mayor of Phoenix, who is a Democrat, says that he needs the money to build roads and to put people to work. They're on the frontlines of these, are they wrong?
MCCAIN: I'm sure they're probably - of course, they are correct in that the money will be of some help. It has been a failure and it is an outright failure and that's undeniable.
CHETRY: I want to ask you one other quick question.
MCCAIN: And, again, this politicization of this issue is totally unnecessary and our conversation, frankly about this is unnecessary because if those letters hadn't been written, we wouldn't be having this conversation. We would be focusing on the F-22 $1.75 billion unnecessary cost that we are voting on this morning. We'd be talking about health care, which is now aroused most Americans now are very skeptical if not outright opposed to it.
CHETRY: Yes, Michael Steele called it an experiment. He called it socialism, talking about the health care plan that's out there right now in the House. Do you agree?
MCCAIN: I have my own opinions on most issues now, and I'll be glad to give you my opinions, and I appreciate the opportunity to do so. This costs too much, taxes too much, and spends too much and the American people are becoming very aware of it. This Congressional Budget Office judgment, which was an act of courage by the director of the Congressional Budget Office, shows that this does nothing for reducing the costs of health care in America which is really the problem with health care in America, not the quality, but the cost of it. And that's why the most respected organization - one of the most respected in America, the Mayo Clinic, has come out strongly opposed to this proposal.
CHETRY: And senator, so you have the president out there. He's been out all week. He's going to be speaking again, trying to push this health care plan. He wants it passed before the August recess in Congress. Do you see that happening?
MCCAIN: Well, I hope not, but I do not underestimate the power of the president and the fact that they have large majorities in both houses of Congress. But I think the American people are waking up to how dangerous this is not only for the future of health care in America, but our fiscal future.
CHETRY: All right. Senator John McCain joining us this morning.
MCCAIN: Thank you. CHETRY: Thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.
MCCAIN: Thank you.
CHETRY: Also, we have a quick programming note. Texas Congressman Ron Paul is going to be joining us tomorrow at this time. We're going to be talking to him about taxing the rich to pay for the administration's trillion-dollar health care proposal what does he say about it. You don't want to miss it. That's tomorrow at 7:30 Eastern, right here on AMERICAN MORNING.
ROBERTS: Oh, a lot of people are talking about taxes because this country so far in debt. You got a budget shortfall in California of $26 billion. But there's a proposal for a unique way to raise some money in California. How about taxing marijuana? A vote today in Oakland on that. We got the story for you, coming up. 38 minutes after the hour.
ROBERTS: Well, just hours ago, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers reached a tentative deal to close California's $26 billion budget cap. And later on today, voters in Oakland will decide whether it's high time to tax pot. Even though the federal government still puts it in the same category as cocaine or heroin.
CHETRY: So our Dan Simon is "Minding your Business" this morning at one of the city's medical marijuana clinics to see what they think.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Kiran, I'm at the Harborside Health Center, the largest medical cannabis dispensary in Oakland. It will actually do $20 million in sales this year. Of course, they pay taxes on all that but he guy running this place is saying something you don't normally hear. He says he wants to pay more taxes.
SIMON (voice-over): From this vantage point it resembles a bank, except the green isn't cash.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The top shelf?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, top shelf.
SIMON: But it could be a cash crop for the city of Oakland.
(on camera): How much more taxes would you have to pay?
STEVE DEANGELO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HARBORSIDE HEALTH CENTER: I will pay between $350,000 and $400,000 in addition to all taxes every year as a result of the excise tax.
SIMON (voice-over): Most business operators wouldn't be too thrilled about that. But DeAngelo says he and his lawyer came up with the idea to help Oakland with its money shortage. The city's more than $80 million in the hole.
DEANGELO: So, we think it's appropriate to take some of our excess funds and circulate them back to the community in its time of need.
SIMON: So out of that came Measure F, approved unanimously by Oakland City Council to let voters decide in balloting by mail whether medical cannabis should have its own special tax. To city leaders, it's an absolute no-brainer.
REBECCA KAPLAN, OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL MEMBER: Given that the medical cannabis dispensaries are something that was legalized in California, why not have the revenue from it?
SIMON: To be clear, the revenue wouldn't be hugely significant, up to $1 million annually for the city. But the dispensaries also have another agenda.
(on camera): How much of this is also about you and other dispensaries wanting to be seen as good neighbors and legitimate businesses?
DEANGELO: A lot of it is about that. We very much want to be accepted as part of the community. We believe that we are a positive force within the community, and we're always looking for opportunities to demonstrate that to fellow citizens.
SIMON (voice-over): And they hope that could lead to greater acceptance of medical marijuana everywhere. No formal opposition has emerged, but some drug fighters say it sends the wrong message.
PAUL CHABOT, COALITION FOR A DRUG-FREE CALIFORNIA: The taxation of a federally unlawful drug is just not something that the community should accept.
SIMON: But California has made marijuana legal, at least for medical purposes and as communities around the state suffer revenue shortages, it's clear the debate will continue.
SIMON: It's worth noting that the city of Los Angeles has more than 600 dispensaries, and with that, the ability to produce a lot more in taxes. So, not surprising that the city council there is interested in a similar measure. John and Kiran, back to you.
ROBERTS: Dan Simon reporting for us this morning. It's now 44 1/2 minutes after the hour.
CHETRY: That song is "Total Eclipse of the Heart." Well, there's going to be a total solar eclipse. It's a very special once in a lifetime event happening tonight if you live on the other side of the planet, you might just be able to check it out. The total solar eclipse, very rare and this one is considered extra special, because it will last the longest of any eclipse in the 21st century, clocking in at a whopping six minutes and 39 seconds. So if you're in India, if you're in China, some of the southern parts of Japan and other parts of the South Pacific, you will be able to see it. Pretty cool.
Forty-seven minutes past the hour. Rob Marciano is joining us with more on extreme weather. Back to this total solar eclipse though, we'll get video of it, right? We'll be able to get some video of it.
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, CNN resources are worldwide. So even though we are not going to be able to see it here, we'll get video elsewhere. If you live in Hawaii, you might see a little sliver of it. It's the time of year where the earth and the sun are furthest apart. So the sun, therefore is relatively smaller and the moon happens to be close at this time. So that makes its shadow a lot bigger.
Speaking of space, before we get to the weather, this is cool as well. These pictures out of Hawaii, NASA's big time telescope there. This is - you're looking at Jupiter's southern pole there, and that little bright spot is where they think a comet or something pretty big hit the planet and just disrupted that entire atmosphere. You may know that Jupiter is the biggest planet out there. So, it gets in the way of a lot of things and they are definitely looking at that a little bit more intensely to see exactly what they think may have hit that.
All right. Back to Earth we go. Radar which misses the rain, planted here on earth. And you're getting more of it across parts of the New York area today. It will be another day of relatively wet and relatively cool weather. Temperatures will struggle to get out of lower 70s. And a pretty good line of thunderstorms is about to roll into Dallas. You might see some travel delays there. Miami, Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale as well, San Francisco and L.A., just some low clouds but other than other, looks pretty nice out there. John, Kiran, back up to you.
ROBERTS: Thanks so much for that. Appreciate it.
MARCIANO: All right.
ROBERTS: Could cars and trucks be robbing your child of its intelligence? There is an interesting new study coming out about environmental pollution and what it might be doing to your child's IQ. Our Sanjay Gupta joins us, coming up next to tell us more about it. It's now 11 minutes to the top of the hour.
(MUSIC PLAYING) ROBERTS: You know, air pollution's not good for anyone, but now there's a new connection between dirty city air and low IQ scores in children. It seems that a baby's intelligence may actually be affected in the womb by smog. We're "Paging Dr. Sanjay Gupta" this morning for the pregnancy pollution link. Our chief medical correspondent is in Atlanta this morning. Fascinating study, Sanjay. Tell us more about it.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is a fascinating study and the way they did this study was very interesting, as well, John. I've been interested in it for some time. And I wanted to go see how they did this. They fit these women with these backpacks, John, that sort of act as these sort of these back lungs, trying to measure how much pollution is in the air, trying to figure out which of these women was exposed to the most pollution. That was the first part of the study. About 700 of these women wore these backpacks around New York for some time. And what they found is that women who are exposed to the highest levels of pollution, when they had babies, and these babies were followed for about five years, they found that babies whose mothers were exposed to the highest level of pollution did have IQ points that were slightly lower, about four to five points lower.
So, not a big difference, but enough of a difference to be significant. I spent some time with the lead author of the study, Fredricka Ferrera, who has been thinking about these things for some time. And really sat down trying to figure out what was she focusing on here. And she told me that there were a couple of things. One is that these are these substances known as polycyclic aeromatic hydrocarbons, you don't need to remember the name but what you do need to know about them is they are the substances that are released right as you see there. Diesel fumes, lots of congestion and they can cross the placenta and possibly cause the problems that we're talking about.
Again, John, four to five points, not a big deal, but this whole idea of pollution causing an overall curve downward in IQ scores was a concern to her.
ROBERTS: Well, if these pollutants come from you know, cars, trucks, buses, industrial plants, things like that, what could be done to avoid them. What's a parent to do?
GUPTA: Right, and that's a question that I had, as well. You know, after I spent an entire day with her walking around, hearing her thoughts on things, I asked her the same question. This is what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA (on camera): Since I spent the day with you here, it's a little bit scary when you think about being outside and breathing in all of this stuff, these assaults on our body. I mean, how do we know how to protect ourselves without overdoing it? With being sensible.
FREDRIKA FERRERA, STUDY AUTHOR: Well, I think that's the key, being sensible, not being panicked but doing things that are reasonable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: It's worth pointing out that we did this interview last winter because I've been interested in this topic for sometime. But she went on to say, you know, that simply closing windows during times of day when it's heavily congested. Really planning your walking routes, if you're going to be outside, trying to avoid congested and polluted areas and there's also things in cities, that are doing, idling laws, for example, at intersections which is already starting to make a difference in terms of air quality.
ROBERTS: If you're in a city like New York, or Los Angeles, or Chicago though, there's so much traffic congestion all day, every day, how do you escape it?
GUPTA: That's right. It is tough. And I think part of it is going to be the individual's responsibility and part of it the city or the community's responsibility but I think studies like this show the impact and much more directly than we've seen before.
ROBERTS: All right. Sanjay Gupta for us this morning. It's a troubling new study, Sanjay. Thanks so much for that.
GUPTA: Thanks, John.
ROBERTS: Five minutes now to the top of the hour.
CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. President Obama says that critics of his health care overhaul plan are engaging in the politics of delay. But Republicans are not the only ones questioning the fine print of health care reform.
Our Carol Costello's in Washington with more on what people are saying, and does the president have a point that, you know, even lawmakers within his own party are dragging their feet right now? I mean, they say they want to try to get it done by the August recess.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it's a gargantuan task. So some critics say, yes, he is asking a lot of Congress. Nearly everybody agrees, we need to reform health care. The big argument is over how and especially how to pay for reform. Maybe the rich ought to pay. But as the Democrats are discovering, it's difficult to define who's rich enough to pay for reform.
COSTELLO (voice-over): On the subject of health care reform, President Obama is fighting back.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One Republican senator said, and I'm quoting him now, "If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him."
COSTELLO: But Mr. Obama and the Democratic National Committee are not about to be broken, not even by their own party. The DNC launched this ad aimed not at Napoleonic Republicans but at conservative Democrats.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's time for health care reform.
COSTELLO: It turns out some Democratic small business owners who make over $280,000 a year don't want to pay a surcharge on their income to pay for the president's $1 trillion health care program. So, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has come up with an alternative plan. Instead of raising taxes on those who make more than $280,000 a year, she wants to propose a surcharge to apply to individuals making over $500,000 a year and couples making more than $1 million.
Pelosi figures you hear $500,000 a year, you think, my God, that's not me, but me does apply to around one percent of taxpayers and some of them aren't happy either. According to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, a self-employed couple making $1.5 million in Montgomery County, Maryland, now pays $583,863 in total taxes. After 2010, when the Bush tax cuts expire, their taxes will go up more than $62,000. Throw in a 5.4 percent surtax for health care reform, that's $9,000 more. Total estimated taxes on the year, $655,126. And while that may sound like a fine way to raise revenue, economist Peter Morici says even that won't begin to pay for the kind of health care reform the president wants.
PETER MORICI, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: He's going to need that surcharge on the wealthy, and it's going to be bigger than anticipated or he's going to have to tax everybody.
COSTELLO: The Congressional Budget Office weighed in too. It says the House bill as it is now would increase the nation's deficit by $240 billion by 2019. The president has said he won't sign a bill that grows the deficit. So that leaves lawmakers with a difficult dilemma. Well, the president hopes they will solve in just a few weeks. As you know, August is just around the corner. We've been asking for your thoughts on this story. Should the rich pay for health care reform? Cnn.com/amfix is the address. We want to hear from you on our blog and I have some comments already, Kiran.
Most people say yes, the rich ought to pay. This is from Jim. "For years now, the rich have gotten richer, while the rest of us have stagnated. We're turning into two Americas, and this is not why this country was created. Yes, the rich should pay more in taxes, as they are the main beneficiaries of our system."
And this one from Wendy: "It seems that to some people, health care is not high on the list, especially when it comes to touching their money. Who cares if only people who could afford to pay for a doctor see one? Heaven forbid that President Obama and some of his administration should have a heart and want this for the common people."
We'll see what happens. But keep the comments coming, cnn.com/amfix.
CHETRY: All right, thanks so much, Carol. And also, we want to get both sides of this health care debate. Coming up, we're going to be speaking with Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Ed Rendell. That's at 8:15 Eastern time. And at 8:35, we're going to hear from Bobby Jindal, Republican governor of Louisiana.