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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT

New Strategy Debate; Secret Negotiations; Swine Flu Facts; What Women Want; GM Moves Operations to China

Aired October 14, 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: Divided over Afghanistan, the president's war council debating all of the possible choices all except one, a complete withdrawal of our troops -- why not? Should all American troops be brought home? That's the subject of our "Face Off" debate tonight.

And then the real health care legislation be written in secret, top lawmakers and the White House meeting today, new calls from Democrats and unions, calls for a public option to be included in whatever is decided upon behind those closed doors.

Also, concerns over the swine flu. Parents can't seemingly find the vaccine anywhere. Doctors have no idea when or how much of the vaccine they will receive. The government will say only small amounts of the vaccine are on the way. Just what is the problem? And what should you be doing to protect your family?

Also tonight a new amnesty plan to allow millions of illegal immigrants to become citizens, the man behind the new proposal, Congressman Luis Gutierrez is my guest.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT; news, debate and analysis for Wednesday, October 14th. Live from New York, Mr. Independent Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. Debate and disagreement over what to do next in Afghanistan, the president today met with his war council for the fifth time in nine months. The group seems far from reaching any consensus on the central question whether or not to escalate the war in Afghanistan. The man running that war is General Stanley McChrystal. He's asking for an additional 40,000 troops.

Some reports say as many as 80,000 troops. Vice president Joe Biden has emerged as a leading critic of a large troop surge within the administration. The one choice the president is apparently not considering is a complete withdrawal of all of our forces. Barbara Starr has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the White House continues to talk about the way ahead in Afghanistan, the president signaling one of his concerns.

BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we just want to make sure that at all times, not only the young men and women who are already there, but also any additional young men and women, both military and civilian, who might be working there are served by a policy that's sustainable and effective.

STARR: One potential problem, the Army which will provide the bulk of any additional forces may be hard-pressed to come up with the numbers. Consider this; the Army has 44 combat brigades, about 175,000 troops. But 19 brigades are already deployed. Another dozen already committed for deployment.

That leaves about a dozen brigades that could be sent to the war zone, about 48,000 troops. But if all of those troops go to Afghanistan, the Army could be stretched too thin to deal with other threats. And troops potentially face not getting the promised year at home in between combat deployments.

GEOFF MORRELL, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: I see no indication at this point that that would have to be adjusted. But I think we always reserve the right to make adjustments if that's what national security dictates.

STARR: But the head of the Army sees less time at home with families as a real possibility.

GEN. GEORGE CASEY, U.S. ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF: You can do the math as well as I can. More troops makes it harder to get, you know, more troops (INAUDIBLE). There's no question about that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: And what about the Marines? Well, they calculate they can send about 8,000 more troops, but first, they're going to have to get the rest of their Marines out of Iraq. Lou?

DOBBS: Withdrawal (ph), time a critical issue for these troops. We're talking about in some cases three and four tours for these troops, including Reserves and National Guardsmen. The Army has been described as basically broken for a period of at least over the last two years. Are we simply facing a military right now that could be stretched, at a time when it is already stretched beyond its capacity?

STARR: Well, Lou, I think that's the concern of top commanders right now, if you are looking at sending tens and tens of thousands of additional troops, it is going to stretch it one more time. And the big question is, you know they're just digging themselves out of that hole from Iraq and that deployment, which lasted so long and is finally winding down. Now, if you ratchet up Afghanistan, can the troops really take it? They want to give them at least that year home with their loved ones. Lou?

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Barbara, appreciate it -- Barbara Starr from the Pentagon.

We'll have a lot more on the debate over strategy in Afghanistan in this show. The question, should we be talking about withdrawing all of our troops from around the world, not just from Afghanistan and Iraq, but literally from all over the world, some 200,000 troops? That is the subject of our "Face Off" debate tonight. And you can read a petition and many of my thoughts on this issue at LouDobbs.com.

Turning now to the health care debate -- efforts to overhaul this nation's health care system today moving as expected behind closed doors, some say the real negotiations over the real legislation behind the real negotiation have been going on in secret all along out of the public view. Not everyone is happy about the 10-year, almost trillion-dollar measure that the Senate Finance Committee yesterday passed at least in concept.

White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel today went to Capitol Hill trying to negotiate with the unified lawmakers that will be involved in hashing out any final legislation. But the only Republican so far to support that measure is Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine who says there are miles to go -- Brianna Keilar with our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The conference room that health care champion Ted Kennedy used as a makeshift office during his final days on Capitol Hill, a symbolic setting for a symbolic meeting. The first time White House officials, top among them President Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel have sat down with key Senate Democrats to work out the most controversial provisions of the health care overhaul.

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: These negotiators must combine two very different plans. The Senate Health Committee passed a so-called public option, the government-run insurance plan, as well as a requirement for employers to cover their employees. The more conservative Senate Finance Committee did neither. And if Democrats are to keep the support of the lone Republican, Olympia Snowe, they can't stray too far from that more conservative plan. Her support is conditional.

SEN. OLYMPIA SNOWE (R), MAINE: Well, it depends on the types of changes that occur for this bill to become much bigger in different ways, more government, it's hard to measure.

KEILAR: Short on votes, Snowe's fellow Republicans are pressing to delay a final vote past the end of the year, when President Obama wants health care reform on his desk.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: We will not be intimidated, if you will, by sticking this up against some recess.

SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R), TENNESSEE: We need a full amount of time, maybe a couple of months, to discuss this bill and why do we need it because there are a lot of important questions.

KEILAR: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Republicans are trying to kill Democrats' health care efforts. SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I believe that the Republican leader and all of his colleagues, with the exception of a couple there, one of whom he has Senator Snowe, and there are a couple others, want to do anything that they can do not to have a bill.

KEILAR (on camera): The soonest we'll see the Senate begin debating its health care bill will be the last week in October. Lou?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOBBS: All right, Brianna, thank you very much -- Brianna Keilar reporting.

Democrats today taking on the insurance industry again in a big way this time, some say the move reeks of retaliation. The Senate opened hearings on legislation that would strip the insurance industry of its valuable antitrust exemption. Insurance companies are permitted to discuss pricing and other practices unlike other industries. Earlier this week, an insurance industry report warned the Obama-Baucus plan would cost Americans thousands more per year, a claim that the White House strongly denies.

Well just ahead, the truth about the swine flu, parents uncertain about the vaccine, warnings that the vaccine won't be widely available, perhaps for months. Why all of the chaos? Why not more reliable information? What is our government doing? What should you be doing to protect your family?

Also tonight, questioning feminism. For years, women have been told they can have it all, a great career, a family, but a new study suggests feminism has actually made women unhappy. We'll explain why. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Thirty-seven states are now reporting widespread outbreaks of the swine flu, but distribution of the swine flu vaccine is anything but widespread. The Centers for Disease Control says 9.8 million doses of the vaccine are available for order, but there's no indication how much of that vaccine is actually in hand, how much of it has been shipped, and even that almost 10 million doses is only a small fraction of what the country requires -- Kitty Pilgrim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's week 41 of the swine flu epidemic, and the delivery of vaccine is still uncertain in many parts of the country. The injectable vaccine only shipped this week.

DR. ANNE SCHUCHAT, CDC: Initially, you know, we only had the nasal spray available. But now it's about half and half that are available and will be coming out towards the states relatively soon.

PILGRIM: The CDC says they have now ordered enough to provide 251 million doses. But as of this past Monday, only a fraction of that order, 9.8 million vaccines were available to be shipped. Only one maker of the swine flu vaccine, Sanofi Pasteur, is manufacturing all of its swine flu vaccine for the U.S. market in the United States, some 75 million doses.

The other three producers, CSL, MedImmune, Novartis make their vaccines overseas. The public Health Department of Suffolk County, New York is the distribution center for 1.2 million people and it only received 600 doses of the injectable vaccine today and 1,000 doses of the nasal spray last week. They say they will need 300 to 400,000 doses. Steven Levy, county executive, says supplies are uncertain.

STEVE LEVY, SUFFOLK COUNTY COMMISSIONER: We just got that shipment today of the 600 injectable form and we're hoping for thousands more to come we think sporadically over the next several weeks and months.

PILGRIM: Dr. David Graham, chief deputy health commissioner of Suffolk County says he only finds out day to day what they will receive.

DR. DAVID GRAHAM, CHIEF DEPUTY HEALTH COMM., SUFFOLK COUNTY: We certainly could use more and sooner the better. But you know for the doses that we do receive incrementally we're going to administer them as soon as they come in.

PILGRIM: Until then, the county is prioritizing high risk people to receive their shots first.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Now it is quite difficult to find out how much vaccine has been shipped from the manufacturers, public health departments, doctors trying to figure out what their supplies are and what they will be. Sanofi Pasteur is the only flu provider in the United States, says it is not able to tell us how many of the 75 million doses it has manufactured and shipped in the United States. The CDC has asked it not to make the data public. Meanwhile, the CDC has been very vague on the release of delivery dates and production schedules, Lou.

DOBBS: With all of the concern about swine flu, why would the CDC, a taxpayer funded and governmental agency responsible for public health not want to be open, transparent and direct about this information?

PILGRIM: Lou, I couldn't tell you the answer to that. They should be. It's a very big problem and, you know, their answers are very vague. They say things like, you know, more and more orders will become available. And you know, not in large numbers, maybe in large numbers later in the month. It's very, very vague talk. And there are no hard numbers. And meanwhile, the practitioners just don't know how to operate. They don't know whether to start dispensing their supplies or conserve their supplies. They don't know how to operate.

DOBBS: In the case -- which...

PILGRIM: Sanofi Pasteur.

DOBBS: Sanofi Pasteur was the company that is making the vaccine in this country?

PILGRIM: Right.

DOBBS: The only one?

PILGRIM: Yes.

DOBBS: And this is maybe, perhaps this is eliminating for people who don't always appreciate the reality that no longer does this company own -- this country own these pharmaceutical companies. In fact, only one in five of them are now American-owned.

PILGRIM: The MedImmune makes it overseas and they package it here, but it's still made overseas, so everyone but Sanofi is really making the vaccine overseas.

DOBBS: Suffolk County more than a million people?

PILGRIM: Right.

DOBBS: Received 600 vaccines?

PILGRIM: Six hundred just today...

DOBBS: Injectable just today...

(CROSSTALK)

DOBBS: And last week, 1,000 nasal?

PILGRIM: That's it.

DOBBS: Unbelievable. It's been our experience, we should be clear as journalists, that when any government agency or organization, whether it be in Washington, D.C. or anywhere else in this country refuses to give information, it is not because that information is good news. Thank you very much, Kitty -- Kitty Pilgrim. We will we assure you continue to follow this story and report to you every detail as soon as we learn it.

A New York judge today refused to block New York's requirement that all health care workers be vaccinated against the swine flu. The lawsuit had been filed by a registered nurse. New York is the only state so far to mandate vaccination of health care workers. The judge scheduled, however, another hearing on the matter for next week.

A similar lawsuit has been filed in Washington State. A health care facility operator there is requiring its workers to be vaccinated -- a mandatory vaccine against the flu.

As if the swine flu isn't enough for everyone to be worrying about there is another strain of the flu now to contend with, it is H3N8. It is a pet flu. This strain primarily affects dogs. H3N8 is an equine flu that jumped species from horses to dogs.

The Centers for Disease Control is also now tracking this virus. A CDC spokesman says they first found the disease back in 2004 among dogs at a Florida greyhound track. The disease is rarely fatal in dogs. And the CDC says humans can't catch this pet flu yet, but they are monitoring it extremely carefully.

Well, to hear more of my thoughts on swine flu, the CDC, its performance and the lack of information on this important public health issue, join me on the radio Monday through Fridays for "The Lou Dobbs Show" 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. each afternoon on WOR 710 radio in New York City.

Go to loudobbs.com to get the local listings in your area for "The Lou Dobbs Show" and to subscribe to our daily Podcast. And please follow me on loudobbsnews on Twitter.com. That's loudobbsnews on Twitter.com.

The feminist movement in this country promised women once that they could have it all, a successful career, financial success and a family. But now a controversial new study by the University of Pennsylvania suggests that women are less happy than men despite all of the progress that women have made since the 1970's. Ines Ferre has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

INES FERRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Women have come a long way in the last 35 years. But despite a movement that brought so much progress to American women, their happiness has dropped relative to men over the last three decades.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The reason we find that surprising is that if you look across society, there's been a lot of social change that's shifted things towards women.

FERRE: The data was studied by two researchers at the University of Pennsylvania who say a happiness gender gap is emerging.

BETSEY STEVENSON, THE WHARTON SCHOOL: We look across age groups, across marital status, across labor force participation, across whether you have children or not, and we find that there's not a particular group of women who have become less happy, but rather all women across all of these categories have become less happy over time relative to men.

FERRE: The analysis does not conclude why women's happiness has declined but it doesn't rule out among other reasons whether more opportunities to succeed have increased a woman's expectations on herself or whether the pressures of their modern lives have come at the cost of happiness. Some feminists question the study, including the measurement of happiness in general. Others say the happiness gap is no surprise because of how hard women are expected to work outside and inside the home. (END VIDEOTAPE)

FERRE: And this study was done to see why Americans in general are feeling less happy. The study found that the declines were driven by the trend among women. Men's happiness has essentially remained flat or slightly increased. Lou?

DOBBS: Well that is a troubling and I would say even surprising report. But such an important finding, and I've asked Kitty Pilgrim to join us here too -- such an important finding, why would there not be an examination of why? That is the critical question to be asked here, is it not?

FERRE: And that's what the researchers are saying. They're saying you know we're just publishing these facts. Now more research needs to be done as to why this is happening.

DOBBS: Is it -- is it your -- your sense that that question has been answered in a previous study or...

PILGRIM: No, Lou. (INAUDIBLE) you know I'm actually quite surprised by this report, because opportunities, career opportunities are very extensive. And I actually don't know why that would turn up and I think why is the actual critical issue in this whole point if you're coming up with a result that surprising.

DOBBS: It's absolutely surprising. And we're going to -- we'll find out why by golly.

(CROSSTALK)

DOBBS: Thanks very much, appreciate it Ines -- Ines Ferre -- Kitty thank you.

Up next, the Obama administration still talking about coming up with a plan, a strategy for Afghanistan. It's weeks away we're told by the White House. Is it perhaps time to just withdraw our troops, bring them home from Afghanistan and indeed around the world? That is the subject of our "Face Off" debate here tonight. We'll be talking about the one option apparently the White House does not want to consider.

It's a tale of two generals tonight -- one, General Motors, moving operations to China, the other, General Electric, moving to create jobs in the United States. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: In tonight's "Lou Dobbs Financial Report", the Dow Jones industrials now above 10,000 for the first time in more than a year -- helping push the market higher, JPMorgan Chase reporting a six fold increase in its profits to $3.6 billion. Those kinds of profits one reason Wall Streets biggest firms will be paying employees a record amount this year despite increased government scrutiny of bonuses. "The Wall Street Journal" reporting those employees will receive a total of $140 billion. Retail sales were down last month but the decline smaller than expected, the decline due in part to the end of the "Cash for Clunkers" program and the Polaroid camera believe it or not making a comeback. Polaroid says the new version of the instant camera goes on sale next spring.

The Obama administration invested billions of dollars of your money to bail out General Motors. Now that the automaker has emerged from bankruptcy, GM has shifted its global operations to communist China and believes its future lies in the Chinese market -- this at a time when another general, General Electric, is trying to create jobs in factories right here in the United States. It's a tale of two generals. Bill Tucker has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): General Motors sold one and a third million vehicles in China through September. That put communist China just a couple of hundred thousand vehicles behind the U.S. GM expects that market to overtake the U.S. market projecting market growth of up to 50 percent in the region, which is why GM is expanding there.

RAY YOUNG, CFO, GENERAL MOTORS: In the future, with this type of explosive growth in the Chinese market, the Chinese industry, I do expect more of our production of General Motors will be based in Asia and China simply due to the fact of domestic market growth.

TUCKER: When GM emerged from bankruptcy back in July, it made Shanghai its international operations base. The concern expressed by critics is GM is building in China, not just to sell in China, but to turn around and import back to the U.S.

PROF. PETER MORICI, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: General Motors goes to China to sell cars there, but it has got joint venture partners, who it's teaching how to make cars. It's not just General Motors that will be sending cars back but Chinese automakers as well.

TUCKER: Another of America's generals, General Electric is making a different sort of declaration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We very much believe that the U.S. has to be an export oriented country.

TUCKER: Earlier this year, GE announced it would expand facilities and production in its Louisville, Kentucky, Schenectady, New York plants and build a $100 million research facility in Detroit, Michigan. Immelt wants America's manufacturing base to rise to 20 percent of total employment or about twice what it is now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people of GE...

TUCKER: The company touts its U.S. investment strategy to create jobs in its commercials. Analysts though say there's a big difference between GM and GE. REBECCA LINDLAND, IHS GLOBAL INSIGHTS: Money -- you know money doesn't buy happiness but it buys an awful lot of freedom. And GE is profitable and GM is not right now. And so in the short term, for the next few years, GM has to chase the money.

TUCKER: Which the analysts say is how taxpayers will get a return on their investment.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCKER: And that is the biggest irony, say the critics of the government's bailout of GM. It is us, the U.S. taxpayer dollars that bailed out the company, allowing it to expand and create jobs in China. Lou?

DOBBS: All right. Fascinating -- that tale of two generals. Thank you very much, Bill. Bill Tucker.

Well let's take a look at some of your thoughts. Harper in Colorado wrote in to say "Lou, the only thing endangered in America is common sense. No one in Washington has it."

Jim in New Jersey, "Last night someone suggested our politicians need hearing aids. That's not true. They hear the people just fine. They choose not to listen!!!"

And Greg in Illinois, "I'm a true conservative but I'm not a Republican. Frankly I'm sick and tired of all these politicians and nothing would make me happier than to send every one of those Washington types to the unemployment line."

Chris in Kansas said "Hey Lou, Senator Olympia Snowe said 'when history calls' -- what happens when the people call?"

And Dottie in Montana, "Lou, the time has come for us to take care of our own. This country is in a crisis. We need to bring all our troops home, stop thinking about giving millions of illegal immigrants citizenship and start using some common sense."

We love hearing your thoughts. Send them to us at loudobbs.com. Each of you receives a copy of my book, "Independents Day" and you also receive our brand new "Independent American" t-shirt. You can see it on loudobbs.com and we recommend you do so.

Coming up next here the latest plan in Congress to give amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants -- I'll be talking with the author of that plan, Congressman Luis Gutierrez. He joins me. And Democrats divided over health care, disagreement over the public option or government-run health care. It could be a deal breaker. We'll be talking about that.

And having the wrong debate over the direction of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan -- should we instead of a troop surge be discussing withdrawal of all our troops? That's the subject of our "Face Off" debate tonight. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The Obama administration is considering deploying up to 80,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. But the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, according to reports by the associated press, is warning that even with those additional troops, up to 80,000 more, corruption in the Afghan government itself could undermine any possibility of a victory in the fight against the Taliban and al Qaeda. Given the lack of a clear objective and strategy for our military in Afghanistan, should our troops be in fact pulled out and brought back home?

That is the subject of our "face-off debate" tonight and joining me Steven Biddle, senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. He's a member of General McChrystal's strategic assessment team. And David Rittgers, legal policy analyst at the Cato Institute. As an army officer, he served three tours in Afghanistan. Good to have you gentlemen with us. Thank you for being here.

Let me turn, if I may first, to Steve. You testified before the house armed services committee today, and if we may, I would like everyone to hear part of what you said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN BIDDLE, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: I want to focus, however, on what is arguably the most fundamental underlying question. Is the war worth waging? And at what cost? And it seems to me that the answer to that question in the short form is that the case for waging war in Afghanistan is a close call in the analytical merits.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: A close call. What would be determinative in your judgment for our commander in chief in making that determination as to how to proceed?

BIDDLE: The situation where it's a close call on the merits turns on a value judgment. How much are you willing to pay to reduce the risk to American security? For me, I draw the value judgment as it being worth doing this, only barely so, but worth doing so, and if we're going to do it at all, we should do it in the way that has the best chance of succeeding in.

DOBBS: Reasonable people certainly do. Why is it that your judgment the president will not even consider, given that it is a close call, withdrawing our troops?

BIDDLE: Well, I obviously can't speak for the president. And I want to emphasize I'm only speaking for myself, I actually think that it is a viable option at the end of the day, it's not the one that I think is stronger. But I think it deserves serious consideration.

DOBBS: Thank you. David, you served three tours in Afghanistan. You have knowledge of both the conflict and the country. You don't agree that sending more troops to Afghanistan is worthwhile. What leads you to -- and I compliment Steve for being candid in the close call. What is the tipping point for you?

DAVID RITTGERS, THE CATO INSTITUTE: The key thing this is the struggle for legitimacy. We cannot create that by adding troops and Karzai's writ must extend, whoever the president is must extend beyond Kabul by virtue of legitimacy with his population. We don't fix that with extra troop numbers.

DOBBS: What is there in this, and I'm going to ask this of both of you, and Steve, I'll start with you. What is there in this which the American people have been told by commanders, including General David Petraeus, to be prepared for counterinsurgency, long wars, whether it be Iraq or Afghanistan or in other conflicts. Where is there a mindset in the general staff that's been unable to -- empirically, to deliver success, why is there a mindset that American people should be tolerant of long wars and why should the American people be tolerant of conflicts which the United States does not bring to bear its technological advantage rather than engage troops in combat that would be unnecessary if the United States were prepared to save those lives, and to limit the cost in lives and limbs and blood in favor of that technological advantage being deployed and carried out on the battlefield?

BIDDLE: If technology could solve this problem, I guaranty the military would prefer that solution. The trouble is this form of warfare is one that is unusually resistant to high technology solutions. The heart and soul of count insurgency is whether or not you can protect the civilian population from the insurgents. The insurgents are dressed in civilian clothing, concealed in and among the population itself. That's not a problem that we can solve from 30,000 feet with a precision guided bomb. It requires people on the ground able to persuade the civilian population that we will protect them so they can tell us, safely who the insurgents are and who the innocents are. I don't think anyone knows how to do that.

DOBBS: Dave, your thoughts?

RITTGERS: I think we look at the way that Afghanistan's population is spread, so thinly across the entire country, a country more populous and larger than Iraq, the number of troops we would have to use to achieve the goal of securing the entire populous, we're looking at 200,000. So we need to tie our resources to a more realistic goal, which is deterring al Qaeda from attacking us from those areas. That's what we went there to do and that's where the mission should remain.

DOBBS: And with the issue that the Karzai government is corruption and that corruption extends well beyond Kabul, it is nationwide, it is in fact endemic and pervasive corruption, it is even a way of life one could argue in Afghanistan. What is the national objective here, if we can anticipate the president by a few weeks, what is the national objective here that cannot be achieved by some other means rather than the loss of lives, limbs and blood, all American?

RITTGERS: That's a good question. That's why we have to take a hard look at what is the value added of whatever it is, 40,000 or 80,000 troops that we can't achieve with a moderate foot print until the Afghan government grows to the capacity it needs for its internal legitimacy.

DOBBS: Steve, you get the last word here tonight.

BIDDLE: I think our interests in the country are quite clear. They're not unlimited, but Afghanistan not become a base for attacking us or Pakistan. Pakistan is a nuclear armed country with an ongoing insurgency and an al Qaeda base located right there. The risk to the stability of Afghanistan, if the government in Afghanistan collapses and we have chaos, that is an important U.S. interest in the conflict. It's indirect, not unlimited but it is important. And I think it's worth effort to try and secure.

DOBBS: Thank you very much. We appreciate it. Dave, thank you. Thank you, Steve.

Up next, the health care debate moves behind closed doors. That is where the real decision, the real legislation about health care legislation has been all along and will ultimately be, outside public view and behind closed doors. We'll be joined by our panel of health care policy experts.

And a new push in congress to grant unconditional amnesty to illegal immigrants in this country. Congressman Luis Gutierrez is our guest here tonight. Stay with us. He's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: A new attempt in Congress tonight to bring new momentum to comprehensive immigration reform. The plan could mean amnesty for up to 20 million illegal immigrants living in this country. The initiative is being led by Congressman Luis Gutierrez. He is the chair of the Democratic Caucus Immigration Task Force and joins us here tonight.

Congressman, good to see you.

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: Thank you, Lou, for having me this evening.

DOBBS: That was a deep sigh as we began here. Does it seem we've been here before?

GUTIERREZ: We've been here before, and my hope is that you and I will have conversations other than those around immigration that we could end this debate and have immigration reform and you'll still invite me back for other items.

DOBBS: We're talking about health care and all sorts of things. And this is an issue that frankly there is so much distortion and there has been so much over the course of the past decade by those who sought to exploit illegal immigrants in this country, those who sought to bring more into this country. I've thought Charles Schumer, Senator Schumer was beginning what would be a process toward candor, direct and honest language, but that doesn't seem to have been followed upon. You have advanced a new plan, one that calls for amnesty. What drives your ten-point plan?

GUTIERREZ: Well, what drives the ten-point plan is to end illegal immigration as we know it. I think we've had conversations both on the air and off the air about this issue. I mean, I want to end -- I don't want -- yes, I want to allow an opportunity to those that are already here to legalize their status. If they've been working, they stayed out of trouble, they're paying their taxes, they're ready to learn English and they're ready to give us their fingerprints and go through a background check, I'm ready to give them an opportunity to learn so they can pay all the taxes that are required, learn English and fully commit themselves to this nation. I'm ready to do that because I think on the flipside, Lou, the reality is we don't have a program to deport 12 million, in my estimation, 20 million in your estimation --

DOBBS: I don't know.

GUTIERREZ: We're just not going to deport them. So if we're not going to deport them, let's be safe and let's be smart and let's be practical, let's tax them and make sure they're paying their fair share by legalizing their status in the United States. That's my point.

DOBBS: Legalizing their status?

GUTIERREZ: Uh-huh.

DOBBS: Fundamental to the question becomes, is it every illegal immigrant, is it unconditional amnesty, and what will be the impact of that? And those are issues. Think about it, we're here in 2009, some left wing ethnocentric interest groups are calling for my firing from CNN because I'm quote unquote a racist. I could obtain purity in a moment if I would just simply embrace open borders and sponsor illegal immigration. That's the kind of distortion that is not helpful. The reality is, we have some basic questions that people are avoiding asking. And if I may, let me ask a couple and see how we go and go forward. One, should every illegal immigrant in this country receive amnesty?

GUTIERREZ: I believe that every undocumented worker in this country who can come forward and show that they've violated no other law except the immigration law, which they used breaking the immigration law to arrive in this country, that's it. No other felony, no other criminal record. That they are sustentative, they got family, they've got a job, they've been working, and they're ready to prove that by bringing forward and going through a very rigorous background check, we should give them an opportunity. Does that mean they go directly to permanent residency and directly to citizenship? No, we have to earn that too. But I think we can give them a program of five, six years which they continue to work, pay taxes, learn English, civics, become fully incorporated and at the end, if they fill the test, then we'll let them stay. But I want them to earn because in the interim period, many Americans say they're here and they're not paying their fair share. My program says, let them pay their fair share. Because we don't have political will, we don't have the programs to deport them, why don't we integrate them? There will be undesirable immigrants to this country, which we can weed out of the program very easily. We can have a set of rules.

DOBBS: We can't even weed out the undesirable citizens for crying out loud. You know better than that.

GUTIERREZ: But Lou, I think we can because then what we'll have is a small population. On pop of that, we can't let it happen again. So we need good employment verification system.

DOBBS: E-verify?

GUTIERREZ: Make sure that the employers don't con the system and are able to hire people that aren't supposed to be here. We're looking at Senator Schumer to make sure --

DOBBS: E-verify, would you support --

GUTIERREZ: My grandfather in the '30s got a social security card. My grandson has the same technology on that card. Let's bring new technology to make sure everybody is working in the United States is qualified to work in the United States and authorized to work here.

DOBBS: You support e-verify?

GUTIERREZ: I like -- I would like a rigorous program such as e- verify.

DOBBS: How about e-verify itself?

GUTIERREZ: Since the first time we introduced it with Senator McCain and Kennedy, it was five years ago now, we always had a vigorous employment verification system. We want to stage it -- part of the problem is --

DOBBS: Why can't we just be straight? It's the most effective program we've got against the hiring of illegal immigrants in the country. Why not simply put it in place? It's very simple, let's get real and honest, because until we do, we can't get to a solution and you know that.

GUTIERREZ: Look at the Swift plant. They were using e-verify and when they raided that place, 70 percent of the workers were undocumented. You can still fool e-verify. We can go get somebody else's Social Security card, steal an identity and submit that to e- verify and it says ring, ring, American citizen, qualified to work. So let's goat a system that not only as an e-verify component but also says we need biometric information to make sure that Lou Dobbs or Luis Gutierrez, who are legally qualified to work in the United States, are really the people. So I want to do e-verify plus and make sure that our system doesn't get penetrated. And then we end illegal immigration to this country and there will not be undocumented workers, unless the people want to continue hiring them and break the law. Everybody doesn't pay all their taxes either, but we need to enforce our law.

DOBBS: I think upon that we can certainly agree and I hope to continue the conversation. Congressman Luis Gutierrez, we'll get back to e-verify.

GUTIERREZ: We will. Let's have another conversation about it.

DOBBS: You got a deal.

Up next, Democrats divided over health care legislation. Tonight, the president's biggest supporters don't think his plan goes far enough. They want change they can believe in. Now, that's audacious. We'll be right back.

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DOBBS: Joining me now on health care legislation, Robert Masters from Workers of America District One. Wendell Potter, Center for Media and Democracy. And Hendrik Hertzberg of "The New Yorker." good to have you all with us. Let me turn -- two dozen unions out condemning this plan, this concept while everybody else in Washington is celebrating. What's going on with you guys in labor?

ROBERT MASTERS, WORKERS OF AMERICA DISTRICT ONE: We're pleased that progress is being made on health care reform. We're pleased that legislation is moving through the committee process but what our ad in "The Washington Post" today said was to the congress, we can do better. We need to do better. We need a health care plans that guaranties affordable health care for all Americans. We need a plan that isn't paid for by taxes on the middle class but rather by taxed on those who can afford to pay. We think there's a lot of hope here, there's a good prospect of a better plan emerging and our message is congress needs to do better.

DOBBS: The data also shows excise taxes or the Cadillac tax will affect 40 percent of health care plans. I mean, how does that square with what the president has been saying, how far wide of the mark is this concept that was passed?

WENDELL POTTER, CENTER FOR MEDIA & DEMOCRACY: It's pretty far a field from where he originally was talking about during the campaign. He wanted to have a public option as part of his platform, he wanted to make sure that people were covered and were covered in a good plan and he was not during that time endorsing an individual mandate. So this legislation is quite different of what he was advocating during the campaign. It doesn't contain a big component of what the president has always stood for.

DOBBS: The only agreement that I've seen, and I'd like each of you to comment on this, in the senate on health care legislation, has been both Senator Orrin Hatch and Senator Harry Reid, both saying that the real legislation will be created behind closed doors in conference and what we have just watched, this is my paraphrasing of their meeting, has been nothing more than political theater in the Senate Finance Committee. Now the real work begins. What do you think?

HENDRIK HERTZBERG, THE NEW YORKER: I'm not all that shocked to hear that complicated legislation is going to involve rough and tumble negotiations behind closed doors. That's the way it's always been. It would be nice if it weren't always that way, but that's our system. Take it or leave it.

DOBBS: Well, how is that working for us so far? You made it sound like, by golly, that's something we can get behind. Are you really that thrilled with it?

HERTZBERG: No, I'm not. I would rewrite the whole constitution except for the bill of rights.

DOBBS: Whoa. I got to watch you very carefully. You talk about rough and tumble, you mean rough and tumble.

HERTZBERG: The people of this country have wanted some kind of universal health care for everybody, just as much as people in Europe for the last -- since the 1940s. The only difference is our system is an 18th century piece of machinery that's rusty and can't deliver that well.

DOBBS: There are lots of differences and I'm pleased to tell you that this is the only television program that's been covering the public health care systems around the industrialized world over the course of the past two months. Same issue for you, closed doors, negotiations that are going into crafting of legislation, and the American people to this point have not listened to the real debate or have they seen a real crafting of the concepts that will drive the ultimate legislation, if it is to be indeed created.

POTTER: I think you made a good point. There are five different bills that need to be merged. And three in the house and two now in the senate. So we will have to have some kind of conference report. That happens all the time. The house will vote on one version, the senate on another. And the conference committee itself will have to bring the two houses together and create one final bill.

DOBBS: The issue of going after the insurance companies, and their exemption by congress in retaliation for revealing through the accounting firm Price Waterhouse Cooper that there could be another $4,000 a family hanging after this concept and labor hacked off about -- not giving us government-run health care. This is quite a little conflict that we see brewing.

MASTER: There are real concerns here. I mean, the way this Baucus plan finances health care is a gigantic tax increase on middle class workers. 40 million American also be affected by it. It doesn't require those who are most able to pay to pay.

DOBBS: Gentlemen, thank you very much. We're out of time. I hope you will come back to take this up at greater length. It requires it, doesn't it?

Coming up at the top of the hour, Campbell Brown. Campbell?

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey there, Lou. We're continuing tonight our special series, the brain that heals itself. Dr. Sanjay Gupta will be here to show us how a medical breakthrough is being done with mirrors and it's helping America's wounded warriors. Also tonight, a lot of schools have a zero tolerance policy for weapons but a 6-year-old suspended for carrying a camping tool? Ahead, we're going to ask if those rules mean the end of common sense.

And breaking news on Rush Limbaugh's bid to be an NFL team owner. The very latest of course on all the other top stories in our mash up at the top of the hour, Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Campbell. We'll be right back. Stay with us

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DOBBS: Thanks for being with us tonight. For all of us here, thanks for watching. Good night from New York.