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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Crisis in Haiti
Aired January 25, 2010 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, millions have been given to help quake-ravaged Haiti.
But is aid getting where it desperately needs to go?
What about Haitians who have lost limbs to crush injuries and amputations?
How do they survive in a land of limited medical care and manual labor?
Well, Heather Mills with a heartfelt appeal based on firsthand experience, along with CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta. They'll join us.
Plus, Haitian adoptees find loving parents and new homes in America.
Is their status finally settled?
What about the thousands of orphans left behind?
Then, the federal government has poured tens of billions of your dollars into economic stimulus.
A big fat waste?
We'll square off. Ron Paul and Robert Reich take each other on next, on LARRY KING LIVE.
Residents of Port-au-Prince waited in line for hours today near the presidential palace to get their first relief supplies -- bags of rice or beans. Food and supplies are slowly making their way to the people who need them so desperately.
To find out where things stand, Anderson Cooper stands by, as he has ever since this started two weeks ago tonight. He is, of course, in Port-au-Prince.
I saw a film, I think this was on BBC, Anderson, in which they had brought supplies and then took them back.
What's going on?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we're seeing a -- a lot of food distribution at this point. I mean they're -- they're handing out food in -- in a lot of different areas. I saw one food handout by Action Against Hunger. UNICEF has set up water distribution. That's a key issue right now.
Sometimes if there are unruly crowds or things get beyond the control...
COOPER: ...they will might have away. But, for the most part, things are very orderly. We haven't seen, you know, any kind of large scale problems.
I spent today looking into the issue of all these new orphans that have been created in the wake of the catastrophe. There's no telling how many there are at this point. But UNICEF is very concerned that these kids could be trafficked -- you know, taken for illegal adoptions -- for shady adoptions, trafficked for sexual exploitation and for domestic work. They're trying to get a sense of just how many orphans there are and trying to protect as many as they can. But at this point, there's a lot of concern. And a lot of doctors I've talked to are concerned about it, as well -- Larry.
KING: From your standpoint -- and you've been there like almost from the get go -- is this progressing about correctly?
COOPER: Well, you know, I don't think it's -- it's progressing fast enough for anybody. Even the people involved in this thing would like to see things moving faster. There -- you know, there has been noticeable changes every single day. And certainly today was a lot different than, you know, five days ago even, or even what we saw on Friday.
You know, we're seeing a lot more structure, a lot more food handouts, a lot more of the water distribution -- a lot of people lining up to get water at pumps.
But, look, most people in this city still don't have access to -- to clean drinking water in their homes or even at their local pumps. It's having to be handed out. It's having to be carted in, in these giant kind of tubs that -- that UNICEF and Action Against Hunger uses.
So nothing is normal here, Larry. But -- but things are -- are certainly moving.
KING: Thank you, Anderson.
We'll check with you later in the program.
Anderson Cooper, the anchor of ANAC -- of "A.C. 360," nightly following this program on CNN.
Joining us now in Port-au-Prince, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN chief medical correspondent and a practicing neurosurgeon.
What's the latest on the medical situation -- Sanjay?
In the early days, you painted a desperate scene.
What's it like now?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, in many ways, it's gotten better. But, you know, it's all relative, as you know, Larry.
I think a couple of things have improved. We have more personnel -- surgeons actually on the ground, being able to take care of patients. We're actually -- you're looking inside one of the tents here -- a lot of postoperative patients, patients who have had operations, including amputations. They're in tents like this. This is actually outside a hospital. But this ends up being a -- a good location to try and take care of these patients. Lots of doctors. Still short of nurses, Larry. Still short of physical therapists, which are going to be necessary. So there's still some work to be done.
But I have to tell you, to your point, it's a lot better than it was a few days ago. And it looks like it's going to be even better a few days from now.
KING: Heather Mills, an amputee herself, will be joining us in the next segment. And we're going to have her go back and forth with you. But the amputations necessitated by the crush injuries have become the signature injury of this disaster.
Have we had any sense how many amputations have taken place?
GUPTA: Well, it's hard to -- to know. And we -- we've tried to figure out that number ourselves. You know, there's so many various locations like this set up around the city and, really, around the country. And a lot of these places are performing amputations because, you know, someone has a crush injury and taking the arm or taking the leg ends up being necessary.
And so they estimate that it could be up to 200,000 amputations, Larry. Think about that number for a second. It's staggering -- 200,000 amputations necessary, possibly, as a result of this earthquake.
And they think about 95 percent of people who have crush injuries -- again, a lot of the patients in the -- in the tents here behind me -- 95 percent would need an amputation. So that that's the reality of Haiti. That's how things are being taken care of here.
KING: Yes. We're going to try to help in the next segment, with, as we said, when our guest joins us.
But Port-au-Prince had one full staff -- full-time prosthetic lab, as I understand it, a -- a limb manufacturer.
What happened to it?
GUPTA: Well, you know, like a lot of other buildings here, the building was destroyed or -- or greatly disabled as a result of the earthquake. So the building pretty much is not standing anymore. There is some equipment, from what I understand, inside the building. But actually getting that equipment or in any way trying to render it useable may just be too difficult a task.
So I think that's why you're starting to hear the call say, look, we need to have some help come in here. We know how this story plays out. People who have amputations, they need prosthetics. If you do not have a leg and you cannot walk around the City of Port-au-Prince, or, really, in Haiti, that's a very tough way to go. I mean, you -- you -- a lot of these people just simply cannot survive.
So we know what's necessary as a result of -- of all these amputations -- Larry.
KING: Isn't infection a big problem?
GUPTA: No question about it. And it's a big problem in two ways. And -- and this is very important, because that -- what would otherwise seem like a -- a harmless cut or gash on someone's hand or leg, because of the squalid conditions in which people live, because of the lack of antibiotics, that simple cut could turn into a devastating infection that could possibly require an amputation.
But, also, people who have had amputations, keeping that wound clean, keeping the dressings clean is -- is very important and very hard to do. A lot of people here, Larry, one -- once they leave a tent like this -- remember, again, we're talking about a tent, not even a hospital -- once they leave here, they may not get follow-up care again. They may not get dressing changes.
GUPTA: They may not get antibiotics. So, again, an otherwise relatively harmless infection can be a very big deal.
KING: Stay right there, Sanjay.
Thousands of people have lost one or more of their limbs in this earthquake. Heather Mills, who lost part of her leg in an accident back in 1993, will join us next to talk about the medical and mental support these amputees in Haiti will need.
But first, as we go to break, we want to show you some exclusive new footage that CNN has obtained of the moments after the earthquake struck, two weeks ago tonight.
KING: Joining from London, Heather Mills, a charity activist, United Nations goodwill ambassador.
Heather is working with Physicians for Peace. She's urging people to donate their old prosthetics to the people of Haiti.
She is, as you well know, herself an amputee, having lost part of her left leg in a 1993 road accident.
And staying with us in Port-au-Prince is Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our chief medical correspondent.
Heather, you're working with Physicians for Peace. You want mobility supplies.
Can people actually donate their old prosthetics and it will work elsewhere?
HEATHER MILLS, U.N. GOODWILL AMBASSADOR: Well, we started this program, Larry, in '94 after I had lost my leg. I was working in the war in the former Yugoslavia and we had to find a really quick way of getting limbs to the amputees there. And we fitted up over 27,000 people with the same system.
And then, in the Indian earthquake, in Gujarat, when we set up the tents, we worked with the Lions Club charity there.
So I always like to not reinvent the wheel and find out exactly which agencies -- which clinicians have been working on the ground in the countries, rather than just going and bombard and reinvent what people are doing.
So Physicians for Peace have been on the ground for several years. They had a great clinic for rehabilitation and prosthetic care and now it's been destroyed.
So what I'm trying to do is appeal to people to go to all the hanger clinics -- and most amputees will know what that means -- and contact Physicians for Peace and take back any limbs that they're not using. We can reuse the components. I used to get the prisoners in England to take them apart, put them into compartmental boxes.
And, most importantly at the moment are crutches, to give someone the freedom and ability and to take the pressure off the carers around them, is to actually get around...
MILLS: ...start getting mobile before atrophy sets in.
KING: How do you know where to send them?
I mean what do you do with the limb?
If you're watching now and you want to donate...
MILLS: Everybody can...
KING: ...where do you send it?
MILLS: You should contact PhysiciansForPeace.org. That's PhysiciansForPeace.org. And you can take it back to your local clinic that you got it from in the first place and ask them to help locate the local hanger company, who have offered to collect them all, store them for us.
And what I'd like to do is get as many crutches as possible first, because while there's infection, we can't fit limbs.
I've collected a number of pomades, which is a temporary sponge blowup leg, because the sooner you can create circulation in the early days of healing, the sooner it will start...
KING: Yes. Doctor...
MILLS: ...to work and minimize infection.
KING: Sanjay, is the health care infrastructure in Haiti ready to handle an influx like this, say, in reaction to this program tonight?
Can they handle hundreds of crutches and wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs coming in at once?
GUPTA: Well, you know, that's a good question. They're -- they're certainly going to need that. Whether now exactly is the right time, I think, as Heather probably knows, having done this sort of work, they're still sort of in the acute phase of things.
I mean, you know, amputations are still being performed, Larry. It takes some time after an amputation is performed. The -- the wound has to heal. The swelling has to go down. Eventually the prosthetic gets fit, but that can be a few weeks from now still.
And I think that, you know, there are several different organizations which have been performing these amputations. I mean there have been so many of them, Larry, that you have right -- we're standing outside a Swiss tent right now with the Partners in Health Organization; Mount Sinai, which is a hospital in New York that you're familiar with, Larry. There are so many different organizations doing this.
GUPTA: So I think it's going to be a little bit of time before we're in that phase, but it's coming, no -- no doubt.
KING: Heather, I know you this his...
MILLS: Yes, we need...
KING: ...you did this historically on our show once. I would appreciate it if you did it again.
Would you show us your limb so that people around the...
MILLS: Well, this is...
KING: ...around the world can get an idea of what -- how they'll be helping?
MILLS: This is actually the kind...
KING: All right, now, that (INAUDIBLE)...
MILLS: ...the kind of limb that we need to -- to find to donate. But like Sanjay said, I'm fully aware that they're not going to need the limbs for weeks. But it takes weeks to coordinate. It takes weeks for people to -- to donate. It takes weeks to get them packed and shipped, as you saw when disasters happen, before they got food, before they got things.
So it's thinking three or four steps ahead. And it will be very soon that they will need crutches, most importantly.
MILLS: So this is an artificial leg typical. And this is a socket on my leg which has a screw attachment.
And what we do is, you have an attachment in here. And then the leg just goes on and pops in. And it actually screws in. So that's the attachments that we need to have to make it very simple for people to be able to get a...
MILLS: ...about so it -- it doesn't get hot. But we need to collect as many as possible, because it takes us weeks to actually take this limb apart and find the components and put them into boxes. And what we don't want is when they are able and ready to have a limb fitted, that we're still messing about and struggling to do this.
KING: Yes. All right, let me get a break.
MILLS: This is why I work with companies that are already doing it down there, so you're not just going in, you know, blindfolded. You're working with people that have been there for several years...
KING: Yes. You...
MILLS: ...as Physicians for Peace have.
KING: Let me -- and if you want to get more information, you go to PhysiciansForPeace.org.
We'll take a break.
An American survivor will join us next to talk about her road to recovery. She says she's lucky to be alive, even though she lost part of her leg, crushed in the earthquake.
Back in 60 seconds.
KING: Joining us now, a return visit with Christa Brelsford, an American who survived the earthquake. But her crushed right leg had to be amputated below the knee after she was evacuated back to the United States. And she's at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.
How are you doing, Christa?
CHRISTA BRELSFORD, LOST PART OF LEG IN HAITI EARTHQUAKE: I'm doing great.
KING: Now, you're obviously grateful that -- you have access to major medical care.
How long before you'll get a prosthetic?
BRELSFORD: It will still be a couple weeks for me. Last Friday, the surgeons were finally able to close up the wound on my -- on my leg. And so now the skin needs to heal and the -- the -- the swelling needs to go down and then I'll be able to be fitted for a prosthetic.
KING: Have you been able to see what Heather just showed us?
BRELSFORD: No, I wasn't.
KING: OK. Well, it was -- it looked pretty simple.
Heather, what advice would you have for Christa?
MILLS: Just -- she obviously looks quite positive. I can see in her face that she's, you know, gone through a -- a very difficult time. But I'm sure she's got a lot of love and support of her family and friends around her.
And just the most important thing is to take care of your health and get the best kind of prosthetic that you can in America. And the most important thing is not cosmetic immediately, because your residual limb will shrink as time goes on, as I'm sure you've been told.
I have a forum of 6,000 amputees that all talk to each other, that probably live in an area near you.
If you go on our Web site, heathermills.org, you can talk to many people and learn things where, if you have got a blister or bleeding later, you don't need to be off your limb. You can use blister plasters -- lots of little tips that help go forward.
And one of the quickest ways that I healed was to go on to help other people. It's like a -- a natural adrenaline feeling that you are connecting with other people.
So if you get in touch with us when you're feeling ready, then you could go on and -- and help a lot of the victims from Haiti yourself, if you feel that you want to do something like that. But you obviously -- and, hopefully, you're going to get the best care. So we'll...
MILLS: ...we'll -- we'll communicate.
KING: Yes. You'll be in touch.
And it's Heathermills.org?
Heather, is that it?
MILLS: That's it, heathermills.org.
KING: Sanjay, how is Haiti going to be able to handle all of these amputees?
I mean, I know that your specialty is brain surgery, but you know the body pretty well.
It's going to be an enormous task, isn't it, assuming they get a lot of help coming in?
GUPTA: Yes. There's no question, Larry, it -- it's going to be an enormous task. And Heather should know that the types of patients that this is going to help -- we met a 7-year-old boy not that long ago. Marie Claude is his name. He's seven years old. A house -- this house literally fell on his leg and he -- he required an amputation. He's -- he's back there with his mother. He had four other siblings and his father, who all perished in the home.
And that -- I mean, he needs a leg. If he doesn't have a leg, he's not going to be able to get around. If you can't get around Port-au-Prince -- it's very hard to get around in wheelchairs. So you -- you need to be able to walk. And even with this type of amputation, he's going to need a lot of help, even with the prosthetic device.
So how's -- how is Haiti, how is Port-au-Prince going to be able to deal with this?
It's going to be very, very tough. And I think the infrastructure is going to change completely. I mean this is going to be a country that is known for amputations. And they didn't do a very good job, frankly, before all of this, of taking care of a lot of people who have different disabilities. This is going to be something that's going to need a lot of focus, with the help of Heather and a lot of other people.
KING: Heather, we salute you again.
We'll be calling on you again.
MILLS: That's it.
MILLS: Please get in touch and help us.
KING: Get in touch.
MILLS: Any pomades...
KING: And you can help them and...
MILLS: ...anything medical would be great.
KING: And, Christa, we'll keep in touch with you.
MILLS: And, also, one last thing, Larry, before you go.
KING: Quickly, yes?
One last thing before you go. Any prosthetists that want to volunteer, please contact PhysiciansForPeace.org, because we a two week rotor system, which won't you take you away from your patients outside of donating your own holiday time.
KING: Thank you.
And, Christa, we'll keep in touch on your progress.
And we'll check back, of course, with Dr. Gupta.
Thank you all very much.
The Wilkins family was in the process of adopting a Haitian boy when the earthquake hit. We told you their story last week. We've got a happy report for you tonight. Little Samuel is in the United States, flown in from Haiti with 80 other orphans. He's right here.
He'll join us with his family, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JILL WILKINS, ADOPTING A HAITIAN CHILD: Did daddy wake you up?
JOE WILKINS, ADOPTING A HAITIAN CHILD: There he is.
JILL WILKINS: There he is.
JOE WILKINS: Sleepy face.
We're going into the airport. They're coming home. Here they come, ready or not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: This is a happy night for us around LARRY KING LIVE here at CNN.
Joining us are Joe and Jill Wilkins. They were in the process of finalizing their adoption of little Samuel Chancelet when the earthquake struck. Joe traveled to Haiti last week to help bring their son and other children from God's Little Angels Orphanage home to the United States.
Joe, Jill and Samuel are here with us now.
Joining us in a while, Jason and Jamie Stanley. They were the adopting parents of 6-year-old twins from Haiti when the earthquake hit.
The twins, hanger Dany and Denise, arrived in the United States on Friday, with Wilkins' son, Samuel. The Stanleys' daughters are also there with the family.
But first, we'll concentrate here on the Wilkins.
What's it like, Joe, to finally have him home?
JOE WILKINS: It's wonderful to have him here. We've been looking so forward to this for the past several months and over a year now. And, you know, being a dad for three days, it's -- everything is -- is new and exciting.
KING: Your first child?
JOE WILKINS: First child, yes.
KING: How did he handle the flight?
JOE WILKINS: From Haiti, he slept the whole -- the whole flight and so that was nice. And, of course, I had two other kids next to me. So I was kind of -- they were a little more...
KING: You had 80 on the plane altogether, right?
JOE WILKINS: We had 81 (INAUDIBLE).
KING: And then they dispersed in Miami?
JOE WILKINS: In Miami, we went through immigration. And we were there for seven-and-a-half hours while they did the paperwork. That was a time but I'll never forget.
KING: All right, now, when can he, Jill, become a citizen?
JILL WILKINS: Well, you know, Larry, that's one mountain we have ahead of -- ahead of us. I think a lot of us were actually at the legalization point, where they had -- we had -- he had our last name. And since that time, since they have the humanitarian parole, we've lost that. So we have to start over. We don't know what it entails yet. We haven't had a lot of information shared. And we're just praying that the government does the right thing and just -- possibly just grants these kids U.S. citizenship. I think they've been through so much already and starting over, it just seems like way too much of a mountain in front of us.
KING: Samuel is 20 months?
JILL WILKINS: He's 20 months.
KING: What happened to his parents?
JOE WILKINS: His parents were -- were killed, we believe, in a natural disaster in 2008 when he was only about four months old.
KING: The hurricane?
JOE WILKINS: I believe so in Hanna.
JILL WILKINS: (INAUDIBLE) together.
KING: And he's been at the orphanage ever since?
JILL WILKINS: He...
JOE WILKINS: Exactly.
JILL WILKINS: He came in, in November of 2008, to the orphanage. And we were matched up with him in December of 2008.
KING: Do they give you a lot of information about his health (INAUDIBLE)?
JOE WILKINS: Definitely. We get our -- at least when he was at the orphanage, we got monthly updates on his -- his size, his height, his weight, his -- if there are any illnesses with him.
KING: Do you expect a long battle on citizenship?
JILL WILKINS: I -- I pray not, Larry, because, you know, obviously, we've been at this since -- our adoption process -- since 2007. We just need it to be over. We're so tired. And we just need him to be with us and for good and not have to worry about it.
KING: You stay here.
Now let's go to Des Moines, Iowa, Jason and Jamie Stanley. Like the Wilkins, they are in the process of finalizing an adoption, from the same agency.
How are the kids doing, Jason?
JASON STANLEY, ADOPTING A HAITIAN CHILD: They're doing very well, Larry. Thanks for asking.
We're -- we're -- you may notice we're down one daughter and everything was a little overwhelming for us.
JASON STANLEY: So Whitney is -- Whitney is off the screen right now, but here in person so. But (INAUDIBLE)...
KING: And Ali is there, right?
JASON STANLEY: Ali is right here, that's right. And hanger Dany and Danise. And they're doing very well. It was a little overwhelming for them, but they're really fitting into the family well. We got a new puppy for Christmas and that seems to be breaking the ice. Danise is really mothering her and having a great time with her.
KING: Do they have the same citizenship issue as the Wilkins'?
JASON STANLEY: They do, yes.
KING: So you think you're going to have a battle on your hands?
JASON STANLEY: We might. We haven't had an opportunity to talk with our social worker yet. But we're looking to do that here, hopefully this week, so we can understand what we need to do and whether we need to get an adoption attorney involved. But we'll do whatever we need to do. We've come three years and we're not going to stop now.
KING: Will the State of Iowa be involved?
JASON STANLEY: Most likely. That's our understanding, yes. Unless there's some other change that we don't know about, that we're hoping will happen. As Jill mentioned, we're hoping there's an opportunity for them to not make all the families go through this. But, again, we're willing to do what we need to do...
JASON STANLEY: ...because they're -- they're our kids.
KING: More with our new families -- is this joyous or not? -- when we come back.
KING: Joe was on the plane, right?
JAI. STANLEY: I was, yes.
KING: Jill, you were in Miami?
JI. STANLEY: I was.
KING: Jason and Jamie, you were both in Miami waiting for the twins, right?
JAS. STANLEY: That's correct, yes.
KING: What was that like when the plain came in for you, Jason?
JAS. STANLEY: It was wonderful. They put it up on the board, the arrival board. We were able to see that it came in and we saw that it landed. I got a picture of Jamie pointing to it, the landed status. We didn't know at that time how much of a long haul we had in front of us, another eight or nine hours. We were just happy they were on American soils.
KING: How did the six-year-olds react when they saw you, Jamie?
JAI. STANLEY: It was wonderful. I first saw Jean Damie (ph) and he saw me. And I said his name and he ran to me and hugged me stronger than I thought a six-year-old could hug. Danise looked at me with a shy kind of smile and gave me a hug. She was a little sick, so her emotions were maybe a little bit tempered. But they were happy. They were happy.
KING: Joe and Jill, is the United States government getting involved in your hopeful matter to expedite things?
JI. WILKINS: We heard from a senator today, through e-mail, that said they were going to check on it. They had had so many e-mails and they were behind on so many issues. We just need to say this is priority, and we are hoping that they stay involved and really do help us out.
KING: We hope so, too. The same with you, Jason? Do you expect the government to get involved?
JA. WILKINS: We hope so. We hope so. We don't really know. We haven't heard anything yet. We're still waiting for that to be worked out. But we know there's other things on their minds as well, with the orphans that have just been created in Haiti. We want them to be taken care of, too. The orphanage expects to be full again in two weeks tops. So we know that with the adoption status still up in the air down there, they are going to need support, because who knows how long those kids are going to be there.
KING: Good luck to all of you. We'll stay on top of this story and we'll keep in constant touch. Great meeting the little boys there, the boy and girl -- rather, twins in Des Moines, and here in Los Angeles to finally see Samuel Chancelot. Say LA.
KING: Good enough. Ivan Watson has been covering this story from the beginning. He's in Port-Au-Prince with the latest. I understand you have the story of a man construction worker. What's that about, Ivan?
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. He was a realtor, Larry. And basically I found a guy. He was starting to try to take apart what's left of his house and try to salvage a few things. I followed him home to where he's now living. This guy had a three-story house. He was renting out the bottom floors to help pay for his college kids tuition. Now he's living in a sprawling refugee camp in a makeshift tent. It's filthy. He's embarrassed about it.
His whole family -- they survived, thank god -- but they're sleeping on the ground in this filthy place and everything that he owned, everything that he worked for was in this house that was smashed. Even if he gets some food from the US military or from aid organizations, this guy's dignity right now is crushed. He's accustomed to working and struggling to pay for his kids, and make a good life and home for his family. Now they're sleeping under a sheet. It's really, really tough to see this guy in this awful position.
KING: Ivan, wouldn't construction workers be in demand in Haiti now?
WATSON: This man was actually a real estate agent. And I think he was making a lot of his money renting out the ground floor of his building, as renting it out basically, to help pay for his family. That's gone now. I asked him, you know, everybody is alive and everybody is OK. And yes, everybody is OK, but now what? What does this guy do now? What do hundreds of thousands of other people like him do?
Getting a bag of rice, it's wonderful, and it will keep them alive for a week, maybe for four days. Imagine how much they have lost. I asked his daughter, Larry, does it make you sad living here? The tent was like a sauna. She just kind of said, very, very, very. She just stared off into the distance and tried not to cry. It's a 17-year-old girl.
KING: Thanks, Ivan. We'll be in touch again tomorrow. Ivan Watson doing great work, by the way. Food and supplies are slowly making it to the survivors of Haiti's earthquake. We'll talk to two people bringing in that relief when we come back.
KING: We're just learning tonight that actor John Travolta, who is a well known pilot, is flying one of his jets to Haiti tonight on a relief mission. We're told he's bringing supplies and a group of nurses to the country to help.
KING: Joining us now Bill White. He's the president and CEO of the Intrepid Family of Foundations. He's joining the board of directors of the Catholic Medical Mission Group -- Board, rather -- a group that's been working in Haiti since 1912. Also there is Doctor Diane Jean-Francois, CMMB's country director for Haiti. Bill, what's the situation from your standpoint on the ground?
BILL WHITE, INTREPID FAMILY OF FOUNDATIONS CEO: Well, Larry, thanks so much for having CMMB on your show. People should go right now to CMMB.org to understand what this amazing organization is doing. But I spent about 20 minutes today with General Keen over at the United States embassy and he discussed with us in detail the amazing efforts on behalf of the Haitian people by the US military and other militaries out there helping. They're doing a phenomenal job.
I want to thank the US military for always being there and for being such a strong support for the people of Haiti.
One thing, Larry, I want to tell you is 13,000 delivery cab drivers and bodega store owners in New York City, the Hispanics across America, donated half a million pounds of food, water, clothing and medical supplies, and it came to us in the Intrepid because of our affiliation with the military. We'll be getting those items into Haiti on Thursday and Friday. That's why we're here today, to make sure it gets out to The Haitian people.
I want to thank all those that donated, especially the military to help us coordinate.
This is a real hero. This doctor next to me, Larry, lost her leg. And so she understands, as a doctor, as a woman who is working here, what the real needs are of these people today.
KING: How is that -- the health care system wasn't the best to begin with. You seem to be -- aren't you up against it, Diane?
DR. DIANE JEAN-FRANCOIS, CATHOLIC MEDICAL MISSION BOARD: Larry, I didn't hear what you said. Sorry.
KING: Isn't the problem huge that you face?
JEAN-FRANCOIS: Yes, it is humongous. It's humongous. There's no word to describe what we are seeing now. And the patients that are all over the place, some of them have no supplies, not enough surgical antibiotic supplies for the patients. Like in Jacmel, many physicians but no antibiotic supplies. And those people are sitting there -- standing there with open fractures, hip fractures. And if The American physician or other Doctors without Borders, whatever physicians where they come from -- if they leave, those people are sit there for a long, long, long time without the care that they need. We need the antibiotic supplies.
KING: We'll be checking back with both of you. We're urging everyone to contact. Go to CMMB.org. Thank you both.
Up next, 787 billion dollars of your tax money is being used to fix the economy. A year after the stimulus bill was passed, we ask, is it working? A debate from the left and right when we come back.
KING: Before we get into the stimulus project, as promised, CNN's Ed Henry reports tonight that President Obama is set to announce a three-year freeze on non-security discretionary spending. That move would freeze discretionary spending at 447 billion dollars.
Joining us now to talk about that and to debate the stimulus and whether it is actually working, Robert Reich -- he was secretary of labor in the Clinton administration and now professor of public policy, University of California Berkeley. His most recent book is "Super Capitalism." And Representative Ron Paul of Texas, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the Joint Economic Committee. He's the author of "End of the Fed."
What do you make -- we'll start with you Robert -- of the freezing of domestic programs for three years?
ROBERT REICH, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA BERKELEY: I don't think it makes much sense, Larry. I'll tell you why. The government, under the circumstances we now face, is the purchaser of last resort. Consumers are not buying. They're still scared for good reason. Businesses are not investing very much. They don't want to invest if they're not consumers out there.
So government has to spend. This is something that a lot of people have difficulty understanding, because you don't want bigger deficits in the long term. But in the short-term government has to spend more to get the economy moving, to get jobs, so people can actually work and generate a larger economy and therefore get the outside budget, the long-term budget down.
Having a freeze right now on discretionary spending, and effectively saying to the world, to Wall Street, to the country, we're not doing any more deficit spending, makes absolutely no sense.
KING: All right. Congressman Paul, your thoughts?
REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: Well, I don't think Mr. Reich has too much to worry about. Nothing is going to be frozen in Washington, DC. As a matter of fact, even what Obama is saying is not going into effect for a year, and the Congress won't let it happen.
I think Mr. Reich's sentiments are well represented in Washington. -- because I actually want to see more money spent, not less. It's just that who has the discretion to spend it? That's the issue. When the government spends it, they mal-invest, they misdirect it. They can't correct capital directly.
We don't have our problem because there's not enough consumption or spending. We have too much. We borrowed. We're in debt. So that is not going to solve the problem. What we should have done is maybe suspend the income tax for three years. It would have cost us less than bailing out the big banks and the special interests. They've been more money -- then the people could make a decision on whether they should liquidate their debt and how they would invest. This would be a wiser choice.
REICH: Larry, let me agree --
KING: Address the stimulus. Do that quickly, Robert.
REICH: I just want to agree with the congressman on one point. That is bailing out the big banks instead of helping main street was a version of trickle down economics, and it doesn't work. KING: OK. We're scheduled to discuss the stimulus, and we'll begin by showing you an interview with Diane Sawyer that aired on ABC tonight. The president making his case for his handling of the economy. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have stopped the economic contraction. The economy is growing again. And we did create or save several million jobs. That's not my opinion. That's the opinion of conservative economists as well as liberal economists.
But we still lost seven million jobs. And so, you know, I understand why the American people, their attitude is not it could have been worse. Their attitude is, how do we make sure we keep on getting it better? That's what we'll be talking about on Wednesday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: OK. Simply put, Robert, is the stimulus working? Same question for both of you. Start with Robert.
REICH: Well, I think unemployment, the official unemployment rate, Larry, would be about 13 percent now were it not for the stimulus. For all the reasons I just gave you, when everybody else has stopped spending, government is the spender of last resort. I can't guarantee -- nobody knows exactly what's going to happen next year. I think we probably -- given the fact that the states are, in effect, mounting an anti-stimulus package, because they are raising taxes and they are cutting jobs and cutting services, we're probably going to have rely on more from the federal government.
PAUL: Well, I think it's real hard to measure the number of jobs saved or not. I think the stimulus, obviously, helped Wall Street. Wall Street's doing very, very well.
But to say the stimulus was the answer and just do more of it fails to recognize that when government spends money it actually does help the GDP. There's a big difference if people get money, save money, and it's invested -- building cars or something, versus when the government takes the money and spends it on a make-work job or spends money on a weapons system that gets blown up overseas, or bombs blown up overseas. That raises the GDP.
Right now, the happiest people are at wall street, the very people who got bailed out. And Main Street -- the employment numbers, these people are very unhappy. I do think it's a stretch to say they know exactly the number of jobs that they saved. And like you pointed out, Larry, there are actually a lot -- the president pointed out there are a lot less jobs available right now.
KING: We'll pick up on that in a moment. All week long, CNN is breaking down how the 787 billion dollar stimulus money is being spent. We're calling it The Stimulus Project. You can get more in- depth information on all this at CNN.com/Stimulus. More with Ron Paul and Robert Reich when we come back.
KING: We're back, talking about whether President Obama's 787 billion dollar stimulus is a success or a failure with Robert Reich and Ron Paul. Let's take a call. Hobart, Indiana. Hello.
CALLER: Hello, Larry?
CALLER: My question is for the senator.
KING: Go ahead.
CALLER: President Obama spent more in his first year of his presidency than Bush spent in his last term. To put this spending freeze on now, is he trying to act like a populist now or is he pivoting to the right?
PAUL: Well, I think that the fact it isn't going to go into effect until 2011 -- I would say there's a little bit of politicking going on. I don't believe there will be a freeze. If they did freeze it, that would be very bad. I'm not necessarily for a freeze. I want to reduce spending. I want to save tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars overseas, and bring that money back home, so that more of this money can flow into education and medicine and different things.
I want a lot of cuts, but I want the people to spend money. When the government spends money on a job, they may create a job, but what you don't see is you might have taken a better, more productive, longer lasting job away from the productive economy. So even if you can prove there's been a couple extra jobs, it doesn't really solve our problem.
KING: Robert, are you generally optimistic in this climate?
REICH: I wish I could be optimistic, Larry. I see the extent of joblessness, the extent of misery, homelessness, or people who are worrying about loosing their homes and their savings. Frankly, I worry. I look to 2011 and say to myself, once the stimulus ends, as it will, and if there is a spending freeze, and if the Fed does what the Fed is likely to do -- and that is tighten and raise interest rates -- where is the motivation going to come? Where is the energy? Where is the demand going to come from in our economy?
Because, again, consumers and businesses and exports just can't lift the economy by themselves. I wish I could be as optimistic as Ron Paul about the capacity of the country to just pull money out of national defense and bring it home and give it to consumers as tax breaks. Sounds good. But I'll tell you, I don't know too many Republicans who want to take money out of national defense.
KING: Costa Mesa, California. Quickly.
CALLER: Yes, is it possible to change the economy, ultimately, without getting out of these trade deals that we have, WTO and all these trade deals we have with China and the rest of the world? Do we have to get out of those?
PAUL: Well, I don't think you have to. Some of those things we would get out of. I think the problem with what Mr. Reich says is that the country's bankrupt is our problem. If I'm bankrupt, or somebody else is bankrupt, what they do is they have to pull back. They have to quit spending. They have to work harder. They have to pay off their debt.
We have dreamed up this concoction under Keynesian economics that you don't have to do that. You just print more money, run up more deficits, pass it out, and everybody's going to do the right thing. It's the opposite thing of what Austrian free market economics teaches. They say what you should do is liquidate debt, get rid of the mal-investment, start over again, get the prices of housing down. Don't prop the houses up. Stimulate houses. What I say is we're doing exactly the opposite of what we should do.
REICH: Larry, Ron Paul sounds an awful lot like Herbert Hoover. In 1932, Herbert Hoover and Secretary of Treasury Melon said liquidate everything and everything will be fine. It took Franklin D. Roosevelt and ultimately the Second World War to show everybody that Keynesianism was right. You've got to spend. If you have to go into debt to get people back to work, that's better than not doing it.
KING: We will call on these gentlemen -- we're out of time, guys. Robert Reich and Congressman Ron Paul. I'm sorry about it as you are. We are.
Anderson Cooper and "AC 360" from Port-Au-Prince, Haiti is next.