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CNN SATURDAY MORNING NEWS
Afghanistan President's Runoff Election May Not Have Opponent; Interview With Kathleen Sebelius About H1N1; Amnesty International Rep. Speaks About Poverty Around the World
Aired October 31, 2009 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Happy Halloween.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Happy Halloween.
HOLMES: And good morning to you all as well, from the CNN Center. It is CNN SATURDAY MORNING for this October 31st. I'm T.J. Holmes.
NGUYEN: Hopefully you're having a good one. It's still early. If you don't know what you want to be, well, you got a little time to hit the malls. Hello everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen. It's 8:00 a.m. here in Atlanta, 5:00 a.m. in Seattle. Thanks so much for starting your day with us.
All right, we are going to get you some really good information, some answers, in fact and that is about the H1N1. A lot of people want to know, hey, should I get the vaccine? Should I not get the vaccine? A lot of concerns out there. We're going to take your questions when you send them in to the woman in charge, the Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.
HOLMES: Also the government recommending those vaccines but some people are promoting more questionable ways to protect yourself. We'll help separate the legitimate advice from some of the scams that are floating around (INAUDIBLE).
NGUYEN: And a lot of people just don't know and here's a good question for you. Are your kids playing pee wee football or in a college game this Saturday? Well, the hits that they take today on the field could add up to trouble, long-term trouble. Congress is taking a hard look at concussions and the consequences.
But we do want to begin with a dilemma, quite a huge one for Afghanistan and the White House, in fact. Afghan President Hamid Karzai forced into a runoff, well he may not have an opponent to run against.
HOLMES: Yeah. His opponent, President Karzai's chief opponent Abdullah Abdullah, says he may actually boycott now the November 7th runoff. Let's go live now to our journalist, Nima Elbagir. She's in Kabul for us. Nima, help us. We've been talking to you throughout the morning, but here we are a couple of hours later since we got on the air live this morning.
Have we heard anything new or different? Any closer to some kind of an agreement or any closer to an official word from Abdullah about whether or not he's going to participate?
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's 4:30 in the afternoon here in Kabul and the debt (ph) is only deepening. We've been speaking to (INAUDIBLE) the chief of the independent electoral commission. The call for his resignation is one of Mr. Abdullah's central demands to take part in the second round runoff and (INAUDIBLE) had told CNN he will not be resigning.
Not only that, but the so-called ghost polling stations, these stations that returned almost full ballot boxes for the incumbent President Hamid Karzai, they were found to exist only on paper. They will not be automatically disqualified is what both Dr. Abdullah and the United Nations head are calling for, to have these polling stations dropped from the books.
So, in fact, it looks like both parties are only become more entrenched in their positions.
HOLMES: And at this point, does it look like more so that Dr. Abdullah really wants to win an election or does it look like he just wants to carve out a spot for himself in the government by going about doing it this way, by threatening to not take part in the runoff which will end up making Karzai's government and the election look illegitimate?
ELBAGIR: Well, many people here are asking that question. You have to remember that President Hamid Karzai with a comfortable 17 to 18 percent ahead of Dr. Abdullah in the first round. He was only a third of a percentage point off declaring the clear winner and that was after the fraudulent votes had been disqualified. So Dr. Abdullah does not look in any way like the favorite if he goes into the second round. This is very much his time.
This is the time to play what is an incredibly strong hand because really, there's so much attention, so much momentum here to reach some kind of a deal to be in a position where the Afghan elections are seen to grasp some kind of legitimacy after the wide ranging, huge scale allegations of fraud after the dismissal of over one million votes which were perceived to be as fraudulent. Dr. Abdullah knows that at this point, he's holding many of the cards.
HOLMES: All right again, Nima Elbagir, we appreciate you for us from Kabul this morning. Thank you so much.
NGUYEN: We want to check some of our top stories this morning, $7 million. That is how much Somali pirates are demanding for the safe return of a British couple kidnapped last week. Rachel and Paul Chandler, a picture of them right there, they were taken at gun point from their boat near the Seychelles Islands. British officials say they will not pay the ransom.
Ohio police are searching for a convicted rapist this morning who's suspected of killing six people. Police had gone to Anthony Saul's home there in Cleveland on Thursday after a woman accused him of rape. He was not there but they did find two bodies inside that home and yesterday they found four more bodies, three hidden in the house, another in a grave outside.
President Obama is claiming signs of economic recovery this weekend. He gives some of the credit, though, to his administration in his weekly address.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Saving and creating jobs all across the country, just this week we reached an important milestone. Based on reports coming in from across America as shovels break ground, as needed public servants are rehired and as factories roar to life, it is clear that the recovery act has now created and saved more than one million jobs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: Well, Republicans are also talking about jobs in their weekly address, but they're worried about losing more under the new health care bill introduced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R) MINORITY LEADER: Speaker Pelosi's health bill will raise costs to Americans health insurance premiums. It will jobs with tax hikes and new mandates and it will cut seniors' Medicare benefits. We now have a choice. We can come together to implement smart, fiscally responsible reforms to improve America's health care or we can recklessly pursue this government takeover that creates far more problems than it solves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: Pelosi says the bill would cost nearly $900 billion (ph) over 10 years, but a CNN analyst puts the price tag closer to $1 trillion.
HOLMES: Well, President Obama says he's frustrated. Thousands of people standing in line, standing in the rain, standing and waiting for a vaccine that sometimes just ain't there. You can bet they're probably pretty frustrated, as well. But we still are getting assurances from the government that things are under control.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Vaccine production has been more unpredictable than we would have liked and there's no question that the vaccine has taken longer to produce in volume than the manufacturers estimated. The good news for the American public is that we know we have a safe and secure vaccine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: All right. That statement there, that was two days ago from the Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. A lot has changed in the past two days. Let's bring her in now live from Washington. Secretary Sebelius, thank you so much for being with us. We heard you there talking about it's been a little slower than the predictions.
Who was making those predictions? Were you all essentially just getting it from the makers and they're telling you it will be this much at this time and they just happen to be wrong?
SEBELIUS: That's right, T.J.. This piece of the puzzle is relying on manufacturers and we're dealing with five of them to give us numbers of what they thought their production schedule was, when we thought we would get the vaccine. Unfortunately, they were overly optimistic and we gave those numbers to the American public and we're now at a situation where we have less than we initially predicted.
The good news is that we have as of yesterday 26.6 million doses out and around the country. We are expecting another 10 million doses next week. So the vaccine is beginning to roll in larger volumes and it's being distributed as quickly as it comes off the line.
HOLMES: Ma'am, you mentioned that 26.6 million. At this point, I believe you were expecting and hoping for about 40 million doses. So what does that do for us moving forward and for the health of this country, quite frankly? A lot of people as we know, this thing continues to spread, become more widespread. So I guess how much does this essentially hurt the health of this country by being behind on these numbers?
SEBELIUS: Well, we have a vaccine that works and in the meantime, believe me. I can fully understand the anxiety of parents who are really worried about their kids. I'm a mom. I can't -- I share that. I know how frustrating it is to stand in line for hours and maybe not get what you came for in the first place. That's infuriating.
We really want to remind people, though, that there are some people who will likely get very ill and could potentially die who are in much more priority situations. Children with underlying health conditions, pregnant women. We need them to get to the front of the line. A lot of people will get the flu and it will be the flu. A couple of days, feeling really lousy but they'll be fine at the end of the day.
So as the vaccine rolls out, the priority groups are so important to make sure we don't have hospitalizations and more deaths.
HOLMES: And Secretary Sebelius, it is my understanding that the majority or at least a good chunk of the early vaccines that were available, those that have been going out, so many of them were the nasal mist variety and that is not the one that's recommended for some children who have preexisting conditions, also, for pregnant women. How much does that hurt, as well, and that so much of what we do have available is not really for those high-risk groups?
SEBELIUS: T.J., that was true the very earliest vaccine. We had vaccine early ahead of when we predicted. We weren't thinking we'd have anything until the middle of October. We started vaccinating folks the 5th of October but you're right. The very earliest was the nasal mist. Nobody with an underlying health condition, pregnant women, children under two cannot take nasal mist. So early on, we were looking at healthy kids and health care workers.
Now there's a good mix of injectable (ph) vaccine and the nasal mist so the issue of what can you take is no longer the situation. It's just in smaller supplies right now. But it's being pushed out. As soon as it comes off the production line, we're getting it to sites around the country. It's being shipped overnight. We're getting it from producers, seven days a week, so as fast as it comes, we are pushing it into the United States.
HOLMES: Well, I know initially, early on, that the White House, the administration, planned to give away if you will some at least 10 percent of the H1N1 vaccine that we got, give it to the WHO to help other countries, smaller third world countries, poorer countries to help get that vaccine out to people who might be at risk. Is that plan still in place to give out 10 percent of the vaccine that we get? And when would that happen, given that now we have shortages? Can you still say you commit to that 10 percent of giving it away?
SEBELIUS: Well, there's still a plan to be part of a 11-nation donor program for developing countries, but the first priority is to get the vaccine to the American people. The president always intended to make the decision about when that donation program would start. And it will not start until we get the priority population vaccinated here in the United States. That's always been the plan. It continues to be the plan.
HOLMES: And I want to be clear there. When or who would make the decision? When would we have enough that you'd feel comfortable, you can then start giving it out to other countries?
SEBELIUS: It will be the president's decision. And again, we anticipate having over the next several months enough vaccine in this country that people who want to get vaccinated will have that opportunity.
So at the point at which we feel that, you know, the take-up rate is about where it's likely to be, I think then we can begin to make sure that other countries around the world -- when you think about it, T.J. underlying health conditions, we have a pretty healthy nation by and large, but in some of these developing countries and some of the refugee camps, this could be a killer of hundreds and thousands of people. And so we're trying to make sure that we're good world partners but not until the vaccine's available in the United States and people have an opportunity to be vaccinated.
HOLMES: All right. Have you and your family been vaccinated?
SEBELIUS: No, sir. We are not in the priority group.
HOLMES: Priority group.
SEBELIUS: I plan to be once there's plenty but I'm not going to get to the front of the line.
HOLMES: All right. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Ma'am we appreciate your update, appreciate you spend some time with us here on CNN. You have a good weekend.
NGUYEN: Well, some of the folks in Arkansas appreciating the fact that the rain is moving on out. Boy, it was devastating there. Two people killed, correct?
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hard to believe. It happens when you have flooding situations and how many times have we said this over the years.
NGUYEN: How much water does it take?
WOLF: About 18 inches can pick up a car, 18 inches of water (INAUDIBLE) exactly. You have two people that are dead and I'll tell you what, it's going to be a huge mess, of course. The families are just suffering this morning there with the loss of loved ones. Other people are just cleaning up a huge issue while all the damage all over parts of Arkansas and even farther south into Louisiana.
We got some video from there, too, which shows pretty much more of the same. You see some widespread damage. Check this out. This is actually part of a church -- that is part of a church steeple that was actually knocked over by straight line winds, actually crushed ...
NGUYEN: On the highway?
WOLF: Well on a roadway and crushed a Lexus. The person who was driving the Lexus was able to escape with minor injuries.
NGUYEN: That is amazing considering what's left of that vehicle.
WOLF: Absolutely, absolutely. I mean everything else is fine. The wheels are fine, but the rest of the car not so mucy.
NGUYEN: A lot of people -- let's turn to something maybe a little happier, shall we?
NGUYEN: That being, you know, Halloween is here, excited about getting all dressed up, going out trick or treating. How's the weather going to play out?
HOLMES: Coming up next here, talking about poverty around the world. People hear it, talk about it and it's usually linked to some kind of an economic issue. But one group now making it a human rights interview. We have a treat this weekend, a lady who's usually not in town, certainly not in the U.S. but the head of Amnesty International is going to be here with us live next break. Stay here. NGUYEN: Can't wait for that. Also, with the week to go before the runoff election in Afghanistan, will President Karzai even have a challenger? That's the question.
NGUYEN: Well, good morning, everybody and welcome back on this Halloween. Here are some of the top stories that we are watching for you. Somali pirates, they are demanding a $7 million ransom for a British couple kidnapped from their boat last week. The British foreign office says it will not meet the pirates' demand for money in return for the release of Rachel and Paul Chandler.
Suspected terrorists being held at the Navy's Guantanamo Bay facility in Cuba will be offered vaccinations for the H1N1 virus. The Pentagon says the detainees are at high risk for the pandemic. When doses arrive, they'll be given to active duty military personnel before they're offered to the detainees.
Documents -- listen to this -- declassified by the Justice Department reveal that the FBI and the CIA were not always on the same page on how to interrogate terror suspects. They suggest that the FBI questioned some CIA interrogation methods after they were allowed an interview with a CIA detainee who was naked and chained to the floor -- T.J.
HOLMES: All right, well, poverty. We've been hearing a lot about the poor maybe lately, maybe more so since this economic downturn. It not just a problem here in the U.S. It's a global issue, a crisis many would say. Well, a lot of people think about poverty and they think about it being tied to an economic issue, but Amnesty International is taking a different look at it, not just about an economic crisis, this is a human rights issue.
And it's our pleasure to welcome now Irene Khan who heads up Amnesty International, wrote a book, you see it there, "The Unheard Truth." To answer the question, what difference would it make if we acknowledged poverty as a human rights crisis?
So good to have you here in Atlanta, in the studio, in the U.S. You don't get to spend a lot of time here, but thank you for being here. Explain why in this time of people being in the economic crisis worldwide, people so often tying poverty to economics, but it's a human rights issue. Explain that, first of all.
IRENE KHAN, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: It is a human rights issue because when you talk to the people who are poor, they won't tell you about income. They'll tell you about the discrimination they suffer. Seventy percent of the world's poor are women.
They will tell you about the insecurity in which they live, whether it's crime in the neighborhoods, whether it's police violence, whether it's war and conflict and they will most importantly tell you that they have no voice. No one listens to them. They're shut out. They're excluded. Those are the things that keep them poor. HOLMES: How do you go about on this campaign now, new campaign Amnesty International has to go about changing those minds of people who just automatically think, well, that person is poor. So give them money. Everything is OK. That's not really how you attack the problem just by throwing money at it. Sure, you might need money for the campaign to help but how do you go about changing peoples' minds in this campaign to make them see it as being a human rights cause?
KHAN: Well, by telling them how in many different countries of the world whether it's in India, landless peasants have fought and struggled and got freedom of information legislation. In Chile, indigenous peoples are again, organizing themselves. In many parts of the world, women's groups are working together to have their voices heard, to have laws change that discriminate against them.
Maternal mortality kills half a million women every year. Women's groups are organizing themselves to get help care and those are the ways in which people are pulling themselves out of poverty. They need more help. They need more support. Yes, they need money. But they actually need their rights protected.
HOLMES: You talk about help and support there. Of course groups like Amnesty International, governments can help out in this, but really at the grassroots, the bottom level, it needs to be the poor around the world who take this upon themselves and feel empowered to make this movement to bring themselves out of poverty.
KHAN: Absolutely. This is not about enrichment of the poor. It's about empowerment of the poor. It's about allowing people to participate in decisions that are going to change their lives.
HOLMES: Have you found that as you go around and maybe internally even with Amnesty International that there might have been maybe a little push back to this or maybe people scratching their heads about it, convincing -- that it takes some time I guess to convince people to take on this new way of thinking about it?
KHAN: Of course it does. But the people are so used to thinking poverty is about earning a dollar a day. But when you tell them poverty is about people not having their rights, their (INAUDIBLE) political rights as well as their economic, social and cultural lives, people do as you said think about it a bit and scratch their heads.
But then they realize, when you look at the real stories, the mothers (INAUDIBLE), how they organize themselves to make sure that government woke up to their situation. Look at indigenous peoples, poor people, poor people in this country organizing themselves. I think people realize the best way to (INAUDIBLE) in poverty is by respecting peoples' rights.
HOLMES: Last thing, quickly. You mentioned poor here in the U.S. Is there any difference between poor here in the U.S. and you mentioned India and I know you did some work in Sierra Leone, all these places you travel where we think about poverty other places, but the human rights issue, it is the same in the U.S. It's the same in central America. It's the same anywhere you go. KHAN: Oh, yes. I have been to soup kitchens in Richmond, Virginia. I've been to birthing centers in south Bronx. What they say and what I hear in the poor countries is the same. People need to be heard. They need to participate in decisions that affect their lives.
HOLMES: Irene Khan, Irene Khan, the head of Amnesty International. I know you're here promoting the book, spending some time in the U.S. But it's such a pleasure to be able to have you here in studio with us. Thank you so much for taking the time. We'll follow the campaign.
KHAN: Thank you so much.
HOLMES: All right. Betty.
NGUYEN: Great interview there. All right. On Capitol Hill, a match-up between lawmakers and the NFL. So what is the issue? Studies suggesting that a link between head injuries and dementia in pro ball players. We're going to delve into that issue coming up.
NGUYEN: Well, many parents around the country will be lined up in the stands today to cheer on their kids as they hit the field to play some football. And whether it's high school or college football, there is much concern now, more than ever, about the long-lasting effects of head injuries on players.
Our Kate Bolduan tells us just this week, lawmakers questioned NFL executives about that very issue.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Head rattling tackles -- hard hits are what many sports fans say football is all about. But from high school to the NFL, concussions and potential long-lasting effects was the focus on Capitol Hill Wednesday.
DICK BENSON, SON DIED OF FOOTBALL INJURY: Don't let it happen again. Please.
BOLDUAN: Dick Benson's son died of a head injury he sustained on a high school football field. Merril Hoge played eight years in the NFL and said he had to retire because of repeated brain injuries.
MERRIL HOGE, FORMER NFL PLAYER: After my second concussion, I was escorted into the training room where I flat lined. As they started to resuscitate me, I popped back up and rushed me to the emergency room where I'd lay in ICU for two days.
BOLDUAN: A recent study commissioned by the NFL suggested retired players may face a highest risk of dementia and other memory- related problems, five times higher in players 50 and over, 19 times higher in players age 30 to 49. The NFL has resisted making a connection. REP. JOHN CONYERS JR. (D) MICHIGAN: Is there a link between playing professional football and the likelihood of contracting a brain-related injury?
ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: You're obviously see a lot of data and a lot of information that our committees and others have presented with respect to the linkage and the medical experts should be the one to be able to continue that debate.
CONYERS: I just asked you a simple question. What's the answer?
GOODELL: The answer is, the medical experts are no better than I would with respect to that.
BOLDUAN: But the NFL players' union is demanding the league start paying attention.
DEMAURICE SMITH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NFLPA: What I see is the need to embrace almost a decade of medical literature and then move forward.
BOLDUAN: A point echoed by Congresswoman Maxine Waters, herself married to a former player.
REP. MAXINE WATERS (D) CALIFORNIA: It is a dangerous sport and people are going to be injured. The only question is, what are you going to do? Are you going to pay for it?
BOLDUAN: The author of that most recent study testified the findings of dementia risk while important don't prove a link. The players' union stress they're not looking to Congress to legislate hitting on the field. But Chairman Conyers says he'll now seek records on players' head injuries to conduct an independent examination of the health risks, something the players' union would like, as well.
Kate Bolduan, CNN, Washington.
NGUYEN: All right. Let's talk more about this. Because joining me now from Boston this morning is NFL and head injuries -- is actually the -- to talk more about this, is Dr. Cantu, Dr. Cantu is one of the physicians there, he testified on Capitol Hill this week.
And you testified -- exactly, what was the message that you were trying to get across?
DR. ROBERT CANTU, CHAIRMAN, SPORTS LEGACY INSTITUTE: Well, Betty, first of all, thank you very much for having me. There were several messages that I was trying to get across. First, there's a direct correlation between multiple brain traumas. Sometimes of concussive level but even as less sub-concussive level and the development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy which is this terrible, progressive dementia that afflicts some of our athletes. Certainly, we've seen now 11 out of 11 NFL -- former NFL football players that we have studied at the study of the Study of Trauma encephalopathy at BU, all 11 had traumatic encephalopathy so we know it occurs at the NFL level, we know it occurs because of trauma. Very quickly...
NGUYEN: How long term is the effect?
CANTU: Well, unfortunately, the effects of it may happen while one is still in their career but more commonly it comes on a decade or two after they've stopped their career.
CANTU: And once it occurs, it's relentlessly progressive.
NGUYEN: Well, that's quite a statement considering, you know, a lot of people, you know, as we're looking at students, young kids that play, you know, pee wee football. I mean, are you saying if they take a hard hit then, maybe ten years down the road they're still going to feel it?
CANTU: Betty, we really don't know. The youngest individual frightfully for us is -- was 18 years of age. That's the youngest brain we've studied that had traumatic encephalopathy, we've studied brain at the college levels that also had traumatic encephalopathy. So brains can have it before you even get into the NFL.
NGUYEN: So what did you want to get out of these hearings? I mean, do you want the government to get involved? Because critics say if the government does get involved, it could essentially turn football into flag football or touch football.
CANTU: Well, I personally wanted two things.
Number one, is we expressed on Wednesday was the understanding that although we're focused on football right now, this repetitive brain trauma, whether it comes from blast injuries in the military, whether it comes from ice hockey or whether it comes from rugby, it's a bad thing and in susceptible individuals can lead to traumatic encephalopathy. It's just not football players.
And then very quickly the second thing with regard to football, football today is being played in a way it was never conceived of being played in its early years.
NGUYEN: How so?
CANTU: When we put face masks on football helmets, when we improved the quality of the football helmet, the head now became a weapon for blocking and tackling and that use of the head as the initial point of contact, I believe, needs to be removed from football.
NGUYEN: Ok, very, very quickly for me. Do you think there should be a regulation that starts, you know, as early as Little League and goes all the way through the pros, a standard regulation?
CANTU: I believe there should be regulation and I believe there should be education. Coaches, the athletes themselves, their parents need to be educated about what is a concussion and the fact you can't play safely with concussion symptoms.
NGUYEN: Dr. Robert Cantu, from Boston University -- we might -- add, thank you so much for your time and insight today. We do appreciate it.
CANTU: You're welcome, Betty.
HOLMES: We'll continue to follow a developing story this morning.
We got a week to go until the runoff election in Afghanistan. And it appears that Afghan President Hamid Karzai might be the only candidate.
HOLMES: Some of the top stories we're keeping an eye on: more cases of the H1N1 flu to report this weekend but we can also report more of the vaccine to deal with H1N1; 48 states are now reporting widespread flu activity. That's two more states than we had a week ago.
Also, more than 26 million doses of H1N1 vaccine are now available in the U.S. that is ten more million and then we had just a week ago. However, it's still far less than the government predicted. There have been some production delays that had affected the supply.
NGUYEN: Well, the Philippines had been hit by a record fourth typhoon in just one month. Typhoon Mirinae weakened to a tropical storm today dumping heavy rain and causing flash floods all across Manila. The first two typhoons that struck in late September and early October killed more than 800 people and destroyed more than 55,000 homes.
HOLMES: The presidential runoff in Afghanistan may be in jeopardy because one candidate might not participate. Abdullah Abdullah -- you see him there -- says he might boycott the election. Representatives of Abdullah and President Hamid Karzai are meeting today and Abdullah associate complains the same people who ran the first election also in charge of the runoff. The initial election was plagued by accusations of widespread fraud.
NGUYEN: Well, the way the runoff plays out, that could have a big impact on what the White House does next; President Obama still weighing options for Afghanistan and whether to deploy as many as 40,000 more troops.
CNN's Elaine Quijano joins us now from the White House this morning. This is quite a dilemma for the Obama administration especially if there is no runoff election. It really calls into question the legitimacy of this election there in Afghanistan. ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It does. And even as those developments are happening, Betty, as you know, President Obama had a chance yesterday to look at some other factors. The president actually sat down along with his top advisers with the Joint Chiefs of Staff to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.
And this was an important meeting that the president had yesterday, Betty, because the joint chiefs as you know represents the heads of all the military services and they're the ones who are ultimately responsible for providing the troops necessary for the fight.
So what are they looking at? Here is a look at the situation as it stands right now in Afghanistan. The United States has about 68,000 troops currently in Afghanistan. And one option is what you mentioned there. That 40,000 troop increase that's been requested by General Stanley McChrystal, he is the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan.
But of course, there are some concerns about a troop increase. They include the strain that it could certainly add on U.S. forces. Also, the presence of more U.S. troops could fuel more violence in Afghanistan. And something to consider, as well, the price tag for the requested troops could top $500,000 a soldier.
So those are just some of the factors, Betty, that the president and his team are weighing right now as they move through this Afghanistan review process -- Betty.
NGUYEN: Well, some of the other factors too include what many will say or some at least that, you know, maybe the government is not stable. But that is not why the U.S. is there. The U.S. is there to fight al Qaeda. And so you've got two trains of thoughts there. Yet, with this runoff election in jeopardy it does indeed pose quite a question and quite a dilemma.
QUIJANO: It does.
And you know, it's interesting, Betty, on that front. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, look, it's not unprecedented necessarily where you've got one person who decides, "I don't want to go ahead with the runoff election." It's not something that's completely unheard of.
At the same time, of course, from the military's perspective, they're saying, look. In order to carry out this counter insurgency strategy, here is what the general -- General Stanley McChrystal -- needs right now; 40,000 troops.
It is very significant, though, obviously, as the United States looks at this going forward down the line, is there going to be a legitimate partner there? So you can see the White House is grappling with a very weighty decision here.
What's the point, as Robert Gibbs said, a couple of weeks ago? You could send all the troops in the world but if you don't have a credible partner, it's not necessarily going to make a difference.
So that is just a big question.
NGUYEN: What to do if indeed there is not a legitimate government in place in Afghanistan.
All right. Elaine Quijano joining us live, thank you.
HOLMES: Well, this Tuesday is Election Day and I think we're going to have both candidates in this race. This one, it's time we talking about local races. Some could have a major impact on national politics, however. In particular, we're watching governors' races in New Jersey and Virginia.
CNN deputy political director Paul Steinhauser and a friend of our show here on CNN SATURDAY and SUNDAY MORNING, joins us now live from Springfield, Virginia. Explain to us, first, why you are, where you are and then you can tell us what the campaigns are up to the last three days here.
PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: You got it. I am in Springfield; it's just outside of Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia. We're here at Interstate Van Lines, T.J. This is a company that is owned by people who are big Republican supporters. The Republicans have rallies here every year just before the election.
The Republican candidate for governor here in Virginia, Bob McDonald will be here in a few minutes, with the rest of the ticket. And for them, it's just a first stop of like about five or six today T.J. and the Democratic candidate Creigh Deeds is doing the same thing. Why?
As you mentioned, three days until election; it is crunch time. As many rallies as you can, early in the morning until late at night. They are demanding the phone banks trying to get out the vote. Get out the vote, it's crucial. Get your supporters to the polls on Tuesday and make sure they cast their votes.
If you're live in Virginian, New Jersey right now T.J., all you're seeing is TV commercials for the candidates. This is crunch time.
HOLMES: All right. I'd like to mention here, we don't live in Virginia or New Jersey. A lot of people don't. Most people don't. So why should we be paying attention in particular? People across the country -- tell them why they need to be paying attention on what's happening there in that governor's race?
STEINHAUSER: Exactly. Why are you talking to me? Why are you even spending anytime on this if you don't live in these states? Well, yes, I should go home right now.
Seriously, in Virginia, this is a good story in Virginia. Because sure, it's a state race with state issues but at the same time the Republican candidate Bob McDonald has made national issues as part of this campaign and he's tried to tie as Democratic opponent to President Barack Obama.
Republicans would like to make this race in Virginia, maybe an early referendum on how Barack Obama is doing in office. And the Republicans in this race if you believe the polls they're up by double digits so they would love to win this race. Democrats have done very well in Virginia the last decade.
Republicans say if they can win the state back, that is a sign that maybe America doesn't like what Barack Obama's doing in office -- T.J.
HOLMES: Well, how is the White House responding to that? Because you're right, certainly the Republicans you expect that but some others who maybe not in the Republican or Democratic camp would say Virginia is a good place to take a peek and see how the country is feeling about Barack Obama. How was the White House responding to that?
STEINHAUSER: The White House is definitely down playing that idea now. Barack Obama has come down here to Virginia to campaign twice with the Democratic candidate, Creigh Deeds. But the White House is saying, listen, this race in Virginia and the one in New Jersey, these are state races. They are not an early ballot box test -- ballot box test for the president at all. So they are they are definitely trying to down play the idea that this is a national referendum -- T.J.
HOLMES: All right. We'll let you get back do the Interstate Vans, the rally happening there. We're going to be checking in with you again, Paul Steinhauser. Always good to see you. Thanks buddy.
STEINHAUSER: Thanks, T.J.
NGUYEN: All right, so will there be a filibuster? That is one of the big questions hanging over the future of health care reform.
HOLMES: Josh Levs shows us the most famous filibusters ever and where the filibuster phenomenon even comes from.
NGUYEN: Well, the White House is now telling us who is visiting the president's home and wait until you see this list.
HOLMES: Yes. Around 100,000 people visit the White House each month; a pretty big list. Now, when we talk about the list of folks, this doesn't just include the folks who are there to visit the president or visit his advisers. We talk about people who just come through and take a tour of the White House...
HOLMES: ... anybody, you know, has to officially log in.
So a lot of names are on the list. You can see the Web site there on the left where they release it, President Obama promising transparency. Now, we were talking about this earlier, Betty. Some of the names on that include Jeremiah Wright, include the name R. Kelly.
HOLMES: Includes the name William Ayers.
NGUYEN: Ayers, yes.
HOLMES: However, the White House says because so many people come through and they're not necessarily there for official -- those names are false positives as they say. It just happened to be people with the same name.
NGUYEN: So it's not the singer R. Kelly?
HOLMES: Not the singer, Michael Jordan is on that. Not the basketball player.
NGUYEN: Mike Meyers is on there.
HOLMES: Michael Moore.
NGUYEN: Oh, I'm sorry, Michael Moore, yes.
HOLMES: He's on there as well.
NGUYEN: I'm sure Mike Myers too.
HOLMES: Maybe so but they are -- they are releasing all of this stuff. However, Oprah on there, that's legitimate.
NGUYEN: That's the real one.
HOLMES: Oprah Winfrey that was legitimate. Also William Bradley Pitt is on there.
HOLMES: I just thought I'd throw that out to you Betty.
NGUYEN: The real one too, right?
HOLMES: The real one, he's been there as well.
NGUYEN: A.k.a. Brad Pitt for those who didn't get it.
NGUYEN: If the William threw you.
All right, one of the questions that's hanging over the future of health care reform is will Republicans in the senate filibuster? It is a tactic that has been used in some very high profile debates.
HOLMES: And Josh Levs here with some of the most famous filibusters we've seen in history. Good morning again, Josh.
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, guys. This is fun because we get some old video.
Here's the basic idea. You know, originally in the early days of Congress, there was unlimited debate, there was no limit and people could just keep going, but as the House grew the new rules limited debate in that chamber.
In the senate, the big change came in 1917 when it adopted what's called cloture. So two thirds of the senate could vote to end the debate and that was later changed to three fifths of the senate as it is today; 60 senators.
Let's go to this video. Here you go, we have video of the first time the Senate ever invoked cloture. That was 1919. The senate cut- off debate on the Treaty of Versailles which had ended World War I.
Now, here is one of the first times that -- or the most famous filibusters ever, Huey Long, he used it to fight bills that he thought favor the rich. So here he is, he would recite Shakespeare and he gave recipes for a pot licker from the senate floor.
Now, the filibuster was used successfully against a judicial nominee in 1968. Republicans used it to block Abe Fortas to be chief justice of the Supreme Court.
The longest individual filibuster ever was by this guy, Strom Thurmond, 1957. He alone talked for 24 hours and 18 minutes. I guess the civil rights of that year.
And the longest filibuster ever in the Congress was against the civil rights act of 1964. It lasted 57 days. That's how long senators fought against it. We have video of the act ultimately being signed here. And that was, again, it had to withstand 57 days of filibustering.
Finally, I can't talk to you about filibusters without showing you the greatest filibuster in American history, actually fiction. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is framed because Section 40 is graphed and I was ready to say so. I was ready to tell you that a certain man in my state, a Mr. James Taylor wanted to...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEVS: "Mr. Smith goes to Washington." They don't make stars like that anymore, do they? That was the man against the giant machine of government standing up and fighting for those values.
Obviously, captivated a lot of people and to this day when you hear about filibusters, senate actually writes about that on this Web site. Let me post this -- you can see the graphic here, where I've got more information for you about filibusters through history, cnn.com/josh, Facebook and Twitter joshlevscnn.
And I'm going to end with something a little bit of trivia for Betty here. We have been talking about the longest filibusters in U.S. history. The longest filibuster that actually happened on a state level ever was in Texas.
NGUYEN: Texas. Of course.
LEVS: It was in Texas. Senator Mike McCool who managed to go on for 42 hours; I got this from Matthew (INAUDIBLE) on Facebook.
NGUYEN: What did I tell you? Everything is bigger and better including their laws.
LEVS: Even the filibusters in Texas.
Forty-two hours, my goodness.
LEVS: It just keeps going and going. Yes.
HOLMES: Just stick with the bigger.
NGUYEN: All right. Thank you, Josh.
LEVS: Thanks, guys.
NGUYEN: Hey, folks, out there watching, what are you doing tonight for Halloween?
T.J. here, he's going to be watching my Longhorns Texas take on Oklahoma State. And of course, you know, you have game three of the World Series.
HOLMES: It's a big sports night.
NGUYEN: You're not dressing up? You're not trick or treating.
HOLMES: Dress up as whatever you are going to be this evening?
NGUYEN: Why do you keep making fun of my costume?
HOLMES: I'm not making fun of it until I see it.
Yes. It's a big sports night and, yes, for me at least, that trumps candy any day. But don't forget, though.
NGUYEN: Yes? HOLMES: The ghost from the past is going to be making an appearance in Green Bay in a different color.
NGUYEN: Oh, yes.
HOLMES: It's the homecoming that everybody ...
NGUYEN: And this is not a costume.
HOLMES: It's not.
NGUYEN: It's the real deal.
HOLMES: That is the real deal but the homecoming that everybody's been waiting for, Brett Favre going back to Lambeau in purple.
HOLMES: Well, while many people will be out trick or treating and doing their thing this evening, some of us will be at home watching game three of the World Series.
Also this weekend, Brett Favre is going to be dressed up. A lot of people might think their eyes are playing tricks on them this weekend. He's going to be wearing purple at Lambeau.
Two huge sports stories this weekend. Let's bring in Rick Horrow, our business and sports analyst who's worked closely with the Major League Baseball and NFL in the past. So we have to give you credit, you actually do know what you're talking about.
Good morning to you, Rick.
The World Series...
RICK HORROW, CNN SPORTS BUSINESS ANALYST: That's the best compliment you've ever given me. Thank you.
HOLMES: Don't get used to it, my man.
Tell us, is the World Series living up to the billing so far? The expectations, the big teams, the former champs; you've got Yankees. It is just beautiful. Is it living up?
HORROW: Well, here's the important thing to remember. First of all, it's 1-1 so we know at least we're going to have a five-game series. And if there's another win by the Yankees, it comes back to Yankee stadium unless they sweep in Philly and the merchandise is tremendous for the Yankees, by the way. They have a $1.5 billion stadium to fund and they think that because of the series, it's about $15 million to $16 million of economic impact every game in New York.
Similar dollars in Philly. So depending on how it all plays out, it is a boom or a bigger boom for those two cities.
HOLMES: People watching?
HORROW: Yes. People are watching. And remember, when Colorado and Tampa Bay and all of those teams made the series, everybody's talking about how wonderful it is for parody. Great.
But the big markets mean more people watching more TV sets and that's good for baseball, as well.
HOLMES: I want to keep going with this but I got to bring up this other big story of the weekend. And that's Brett Favre. A lot of people are going to think he's probably wearing a Halloween outfit.
For years, he was ruling Lambeau Field in Green Bay. He has to go -- he's played the Packers in the purple once this year but that was in Minnesota. Now he has to go to Lambeau. Are people who aren't even big sports fans paying attention to this?
HORROW: Thousands of dollars of scalper's tickets they are. The mayor of Green Bay put out a contest on the Web site to have some ideas. The guy that played Judas, they want to have come sing the national anthem at Lambeau Field. They want to wear flip flops. They want to have a waffle, the biggest one in the world with a number 4 on it. They also want Benedict Arnold's hometown marching band to come in and play in Green Bay. Oh, yes, their watching.
HOLMES: That's cold. All right Rick. We're going to have to wrap it up there. Apparently you broke the microphone in some way. We're having a few technical difficulties with it. We're going to have to leave it there. We heard you for most part even if the mike goes out. You speak loud enough that we can hear you all the way...
HORROW: I'll speak louder next time. Have a good weekend.
HOLMES: Ok. Thanks.
NGUYEN: Happy Halloween, Rick.
HOLMES: What do you think he should be?
NGUYEN: Don't even get me started.
NGUYEN: Well, the H1N1, unfortunately, is spreading; vaccine production behind.
HOLMES: Yes. Cases have now spread to some 48 states.
Coming up at the top of the hour, the latest on how to protect yourself and protect your family even if you can't get a hold of that vaccine.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) NGUYEN: Hello, everybody. Welcome back. From the CNN Center, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING. It is October 31st. That means happy Halloween. Good morning. Thanks for being with us. I'm Betty Nguyen.
HOLMES: I'm T.J. Holmes. Glad you could be here with us in our special half hour as always that we dedicate to health care every single Saturday. So we'll do it here again and we are going to be talking about H1N1 this half hour an awful lot.
Don't fall victim. A lot of scams out there pop up about H1N1 and they can promise to protect you and all this stuff. Don't believe it. We have a warning you don't want to miss this morning.
NGUYEN: Absolutely. Also how to get those H1N1 alerts. So you are informed. Alerts in fact from the CDC, Centers for Disease Control. Also from Harvard and all of this can come to you through your cell phones. So stay with us for more information on that.
HOLMES: First, we're going to take a quick look as always at our top stories first. Afghan president Hamid Karzai's opponent predicts presidential run-off election may boycott that election. A decision by Abdullah Abdullah is expected by tomorrow. Representatives of the two men are meeting today.
Well, two radically different views on the effects of the stimulus this weekend. President Obama credits the plan for saving nearly a million jobs so far. In his weekly address, he sees some signs of recovery.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The economy grew for the first time in more than a year. And faster than at any point in the previous two years. So while we have a long way to go before we return to prosperity and there will undoubtedly be ups and downs along the road, it is also true that we have come a long way. It's easy to forget that it was only several months ago that the economy was shrinking rapidly and many economists feared another Great Depression.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Now, the Republicans not so impressed. In their own address this week, they say that the Democrats' plans for the economy and health care will lead to more taxes and fewer jobs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), MINORITY LEADER: It's clear where the American people stand on this issue. They're frustrated and fed up. The stimulus bill isn't working. Unemployment is rising. The debt to be paid by our kids and grand kids is exploding and now Speaker Pelosi's 1,990-page government takeover of health care? Enough's enough. Breaking the bank and taking away the freedoms Americans cherish is not the answer to the challenges we face.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Well, the GOP says it will formally offer its own health care reform plan when the debate moves to the House floor. Also President Obama has extended benefits for HIV/AIDS patients across this country. He signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Bill at the White House yesterday.
It authorizes a five percent yearly bump in federal funding for the treatment of hundreds of thousands of underinsured and low-income patients. The CDC says around a million people in the U.S. are living with HIV.
NGUYEN: Well, the odds of passing health care reform are anybody's guess. And the optional public option, that is, in the Senate bill may not have helped. At least when it comes to a unified Democratic caucus.
Here's CNN's senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Anyone who thought Senate majority leader Harry Reid's new health care bill with a public option could ultimately pass the Senate didn't talk to Joe Lieberman.
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: If at the end it's not what I think is good for our country and most people living in our country, then I'll vote against cloture (ph). I'll join and join the filibuster and I'll try to stop the bill from passing.
BASH: Lieberman says he'll try to block any kind of government- run health care option from passing the Senate even allow states to opt out.
LIEBERMAN: It is still a government-run health insurance plan that puts the federal taxpayer on the line. And I don't want to do that at this point in our nation's history.
BASH: But the independent senator did give Democrats one piece of good news. He will vote yes to start the health care debate.
LIEBERMAN: We've got to begin a debate on health insurance reform and we got to do something on health insurance reform this year. That's different from the merits of the bill.
BASH: Lieberman with his complicated calculus is exhibit A of how uncertain government-run insurance option still is in the Senate. Senate majority leader Harry Reid needs 60 votes to do anything and with 60 Democrats and independents in the Senate, there are likely no votes to spare.
SEN. BEN NELSON (D), NEBRASKA: I'm not a fan of government-run public option.
BASH: Democrat Ben Nelson is another wild card. He hasn't told party leaders whether they'll get his vote at all.
NELSON: No secret hand shake. No wink. No -- no indication whatsoever other than I haven't decided and I can't decide until I see the actual physical bill, get a chance to review it and then I can make the decision.
BASH (on-camera): Several other conservative Democrats are withholding their support, too, especially Democratic senators facing tough re-election battles in states where voters were very wary of a government-run health care option. That's why senior Democratic sources say it is still very unclear whether they can even muster enough votes to start a health care debate next month.
Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.
NGUYEN: Well, two members of Congress on opposite sides of the aisle take a closer look at health care reform. So what makes their perspective unique? They're both doctors. Stay with us for that.
WOLF: Is that the computer pumpkin we saw?
HOLMES: Yes. We can show this thing. Sure. Computer pumpkin. Show this thing again. This was actually made by one of the people that works for our team here.
HOLMES: I don't know if she wants me to say her name or not. She can take credit for that. But yes. That's just an old TV there and she has retro fitted it with a few things, a few paint and lo and behold.
WOLF: That was once a gourd that was growing off of a vine and then she shaped it like a monitor and then somehow put in an electric current. It boggles the mind. It's incredible.
HOLMES: Our staff, we don't have a lot of people on it, but they have to be sharp. And they have to be -- have to possess a certain level of ingenuity.
WOLF: Awful weird -- like me, it's good to have those talented folks.
HOLMES: We have those folks. Well, we're talking weather. A lot of people -- more kids are watching you for the weather today probably than any other time.
WOLF: Yes, sure. Before we get to the kids' weather though, I know we talked about trick or treats and it's mostly for kids. The adults, a lot of the people are going to have a little bit of a treat and there's going to be an extra hour of sleep for tomorrow. We fall back.
WOLF: I know it's a special thing.
HOLMES: Especially for us.
WOLF: Our favorite day of the year. Let's get right to your forecast. Show you what's happening out there. We're going to hop right to something or anything. There we go. Nice shot of Atlanta. Looks pretty good there. And we got the low clouds, we get some fog out there. We also have a few rain drops and if you're wondering where those rain drops are coming from, we got a few ideas for you.
Well, as we go to the weather computer, we've got, you're going to see right here this frontal boundary. That frontal boundary is just marching its way step by step off towards the east. This is the same system that brought the heavy rainfall to parts of Arkansas and Louisiana. There is widespread flooding and of course the straight line winds in places like Baton Rouge.
This is all going to move into Atlanta where we're seeing the rain showers and it is also going to extend a bit further to the north right into the eastern seaboard and that chance of rain is going to stick around not just through the afternoon hours into the evening. For the World Series, you may have some issues with some rain but it should be fading as the time goes on. Might have a few delays early but then I think they're still going to manage to get in the full nine innings.
Meanwhile, out to parts of say the central plains, southern plains. Looks pretty dry but as you get back to the Pacific northwest, look for some scattered showers. Some scattered snow showers possible for northern Michigan and into portions of Wisconsin and the arrowhead of Minnesota.
So for your Halloween evening, temperatures mainly in the 40s and 50s up in the Great Lakes. Back along parts of say Florida, along the panhandle, 50s and 70s. 60s for much of west Texas and 50s and 60s for a good part of the West Coast. That is a look at your forecast. Let's send it back to you guys at the news desk.
HOLMES: All right. Appreciate you as always. Check in with you again shortly.
We'll continue now to talk about health care in this half hour as we always do on Saturday. When we talk about this H1N1 vaccine. There's a warning for people out there. Don't believe everything you see on the internet. There's some fake products out there for you to purchase. Do not be fooled. Stay with us.
HOLMES: Now with the H1N1 flu vaccine still in limited supply, some people are turning to the internet for some remedies.
NGUYEN: Yes but the Food and Drug Administration says do not do it. Here's why with CNN's Kitty Pilgrim.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): People have been lining up all across the country in the hope of getting a swine flu vaccine. As of today, 22.4 million doses are available in the United States, out of the potentially 250 that may be needed for the pandemic. Today the CDC admitted that the situation is less than ideal.
DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: I think all of us are frustrated that we haven't had more vaccine that we don't have more vaccine now. When the season is over, it will be a good time to look back and think of what could have been done differently or better.
PILGRIM: But for the immediate future, people are trying to come up with a plan of their own. The new influenza strain is particularly risky to young children and pregnant women. The FDA is warning people about turning to the internet to purchase swine flu remedies. Many are fake, some even dangerous.
The FDA has put out a warning list of 140 products listed along with brand name and web site address, everything from air purifiers to pills and potions.
Ionic silver asks could ionic silver help fill the gap between now and when H1N1 vaccines are available? The customer service web site was not functioning for questions about their products. Simple clinic say protect yourself now from the swine flu with products for adults and children.
The FDA is warning people it is an unauthorized product. Simple Clinic says they take 24 hours to respond to inquiries by e-mail only. Liquid Tamiflu which the FDA says is one of the few legal and effective treatments for swine flu is in critical short supply, especially the liquid for infants.
The FDA is warning internet sales of Tamiflu may contain bogus products that have no effect in reducing symptoms.
Kitty Pilgrim, CNN.
HOLMES: All right. Well, first, they were doctors. Now they serve in Congress. We have a couple of guys here, Betty, to check in with and interesting stories here. They get to work on health care and they see it from a whole different perspective.
NGUYEN: Yes, they do. Who are these doctors? Well Republican Representative Michael Burgess from North Texas who practiced medicine for 30 years before heading to Washington, also Representative Jim McDermott is a Democrat from Washington state, a medical doctor and psychiatrist. So, both of you, we do appreciate your time. Let's start with you, Congressman Burgess.
REP. MICHAEL C. BURGESS, M.D., (R), TEXAS: Sure.
NGUYEN: What do you think about the Obama administration's plan for health care reform? I know you have some issues with it. And what are they specifically?
BURGESS: Well, specifically, of course, we are working on a House bill and I'm not sure that that's the same as President Obama's plan. But the nearly 2,000-page bill we have had delivered to us right before we left town on Thursday afternoon is clearly problematic.
We heard from our constituents all summer long that they don't trust big bills. They don't trust the United States Congress, for that matter. There are things that need to be fixed. There are things that we could fix.
NGUYEN: Like what specifically?
BURGESS: That doesn't require a complete reordering of our health care system. Well, first and foremost, people with pre- existing conditions, the insurance company restrictions, that's pretty easily fixable. In fact, there are several pieces of legislation floating around out there that would do just that.
Congressional Budget Office says it will take $20 billion over 10 years. That's a far cry from the over trillion dollars over 10 years that we have got in front of us voting on this week. The fact that medical liability and the fix for doctors who are getting big pay cuts in Medicare, those things could have been fixed and should have been fixed and they're not in the bill.
NGUYEN: All right. Representative McDermott, I want you to weigh in here and before you do you put out a statement this week saying I do not deny that reforms are needed but Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats have simply put forth the wrong kind of reform. What do you want to see?
REP. JIM MCDERMOTT, M.D. (D), WASHINGTON: Well, I think you're quoting senator -- or Congressman Burgess on that. I think this is a wonderful bill. For the first time in 100 years, we have finally brought the issue of universal health care coverage to the floor of the House for a vote and it is time that we deal with the insurance companies.
There's insurance company reform. There's the ability to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies. You have to ask yourself, why do we make all of the seniors in this country pay retail when we could negotiate and in this bill we negotiate a 50 percent reduction in pharmaceutical prices. Those kind of issues have been laying on the table for 15 years while the Republicans controlled it and the difference between Mike and me is this.
The Republicans believe that you're on your own in health care. And the Democrats believe that you can't do it by yourself just as though you can't protect your house from fire or roads or schools or all of the things that we do collectively in this country.
Health care, everybody has to be in. And until you do that, you're just going to keep shifting the cost from one person to another and people are going to go bankrupt in the kinds of numbers they do in this country.
NGUYEN: Well, do you support a public -- OK, go ahead. I'll let you respond and then I also want to get to the public option.
BURGESS: With all due respect to Representative McDermott, we do have insurance for fire and the house but we don't ask the government to replace a slice of bread if we burned the toast. There is a difference in scale here, sir.
NGUYEN: Did you want to quickly respond to that?
MCDERMOTT: Half of the bankruptcies in this country last year, Mike, were caused by health care bills.
BURGESS: Actually ...
MCDERMOTT: More than half of those people had insurance and thought they were covered and they weren't. The insurance was -- they were underinsured. We are going to stop bankruptcies by this bill.
BURGESS: Above 20 million Americans.
NGUYEN: Let me jump in here because when we're talking about this bill, and access and affordability and whatnot, do you believe, Representative McDermott, that there should be a public option?
MCDERMOTT: Absolutely. The insurance companies have to have competition. There are several -- there are a number of states in this country where two insurance companies are all there is. And some states even less. And you simply cannot -- they control -- they have a monopoly.
One of the things that we do in this bill is end the monopoly for insurance companies. They have had a monopoly for years and years and years and they have not taken care of 50 million people in this country. The day for that to end is now.
NGUYEN: All right. I got to give you the last word on this, Congressman Burgess.
BURGESS: On the issue of competition, if you want competition, then let's open the state -- the fact we can't sell across state lines in the individual market. That's what's crippling us in competition in this country. It's not that we lack one more insurance company provided by the government.
Look, the government controls about 50 percent of health care now and we're going broke with what they have got. You want to give them more control over that? This is about freedom. This is about government control. It's really as simple as that.
People need to define it in those terms and work back. As far as the bankruptcies are concerned, the data that Dr. McDermott cites is significantly flawed and the studies have -- are really inaccurate when they -- when you quote those kinds of figures.
I mean, look. People can come to Washington this Thursday and tell us what they think. I hope they do. Come on the steps of the Capitol at noon on Thursday and let's hear from you.
NGUYEN: One thing that you do agree on is you're both are doctors, you both are hoping for a plan that will work for the American people. But I can tell you this that you're not going to agree in this forum today. But we do appreciate your insight, your time and speaking with us today. Both of you, thank you so much.
MCDERMOTT: Thank you.
BURGESS: Thank you.
HOLMES: Well, how much do you know about H1N1? If you don't know a whole lot, your cell phone might be able to help you out.
HOLMES: All right. A lot of information out there about H1N1. Yet, your phone and your computer may very well have the insight that you're really looking for. And we have where you should turn. How to get there. We don't know how to do it on your own. We got to bring in somebody who knows this stuff. Our tech expert, Mario Armstrong and becoming quickly a dear friend of our show here on CNN SATURDAY and SUNDAY MORNING.
All right, my man.
MARIO ARMSTRONG, RADIO, TV AND ONLINE TECHNOLOGY JOURNALIST: Thanks for having me in.
HOLMES: Always good to see you, my man. Always good to see you. I want to start this thing you just told me about. And this is important.
HOLMES: People want to get information from the CDC and they have been following, the CDC has a Twitter account but people have been following the wrong one. Explain this and give us the right one.
ARMSTRONG: This is blowing me away, T.J.. I'm on the cell phone and I'm looking at the Twitter account and I'm saying to myself, how are people missing this? The problem is, over a million people are following the CDC Twitter account.
That Twitter account is only giving out messages really about the CDC's press briefings. That's pretty much all you're getting from that Twitter account is when to catch a press briefing. The one that people should be following is the flu gov Twitter account. Flu gov. And that one, T.J., only has about 5,000 people following that.
So when you talk about a million people following the wrong account, and just real quickly, an example of what's on flu gov is if you live in Mississippi, you would have found out via Twitter that vaccinations are available at a community health center in your area and you would have found that update on the flu gov Twitter account, not the CDC Twitter account.
HOLMES: That makes sense. An honest mistake. People think they're following the CDC and they're going to be getting the updates. It's the wrong spot to be. So it's flu gov, the right tweet. That's important information to get out. Thank you for that. All right. Let's move on here to ...
HOLMES: What's out there? People trying to get information certainly about H1N1. We give as much as we can here but people can get it right there in the palm of their hands.
ARMSTRONG: Yes. And that's what's important because a lot of people are traveling, they're on the go. And the mobile phone -- I say people in America three things -- your keys, your wallets and a mobile phone. And the fact of the matter is over 85 percent of adults have a cell phone. So CDC is having a mobile text messaging program right now.
And so what you do is sign up by typing in -- you go into typing in 87000 and you type the word health and you can get text messages sent to your phone. T.J., though, they are only sending about three messages a week and as you can see right there on the screen, it was showing -- one of the messages says things like, if your child is under the age of six months, they don't need to get an H1N1 vaccination.
So the messaging is OK. I wish it was a little bit more detailed and a little bit more informed but I'm happy to see that they're using mobile phones to inform people because the bottom line, T.J., is we send 4.1 billion text messages every day in America.
HOLMES: All right. I got so many things I want to get to here but I'm running out of time. I want to get to another one here about this holiday travel?
HOLMES: What are you seeing out there about airlines taking a hit because of H1N1? Are they?
ARMSTRONG: Well, you know, there's been some information about that online. You've been seeing a couple of the airlines that have been taking a hit and the bottom line is if you want to stay up to date on what's going on with the airlines, you want to use mobile applications like kayak and others.
But you can use -- Harvard came out with a Harvard Medical School swine flu tracking application and this application gives you real- time updates about H1N1 and things that you can think about when traveling. You can get video and they have a health map. So while you're traveling, T.J., you can actually pull up a health map and punch in the zip code to find out exactly what outbreaks are taking place as to where you are traveling to.
HOLMES: That is a lot. Give me one stop shopping. You mentioned a couple of things here.
HOLMES: A lot of information. Give me the one stop shopping for somebody looking for information about -- is it CDC? Is it some of the others? Give me one so we can let people go on this note.
ARMSTRONG: Log on to flu.gov. I think that is really the best source and that has a link to several of the other sources that I'm mentioning but I think that's the best one stop shop for people.
HOLMES: OK. Mario, we ran out of time but still we got good information as we always do. Good to see you as always. Our tech guy and hope to have you in studio here live, if possible next weekend. All right.
ARMSTRONG: Man, that would be hot. That would be great. Good seeing you, T.J.
HOLMES: Thanks so much. Talk to you soon.
NGUYEN: Looking forward to that.
In the meantime though, we'll be back at the top of the hour but "YOUR BOTTOM LINE" with Gerri Willis starts right after this break.