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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Government Shutdown Imminent?; Libyan Rebels Retreating
Aired April 7, 2011 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening.
Tonight, breaking news with people across the country and in war zones around the world getting ready to go without paychecks or tax refunds, more emergency White House negotiations aimed at heading off a government shutdown have just come and gone and there is no deal.
Just moments ago, President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker John Boehner and others wrapped up talks for the night and President Obama spoke briefly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I wanted to report again to the American people that we made some additional progress this evening.
I think the staffs of both the House and the Senate, as well as the White House staff, have been working very hard to try to narrow the differences. We made some progress today. Those differences have been narrowed.
And so, once again, the staff is going to be working tonight around the clock, in order to see if we can finally close a deal. But there are still a few issues that are outstanding. They are difficult issues. They're important to both sides. And so I'm not yet prepared to express wild optimism, but I think we are further along today than we were yesterday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, he said he wants to be able to have good news to report in the morning, for now, no deal, no agreement on legislation to fund the government through fiscal 2011.
Now, the two sides still divided on additions to the bill, so- called policy writers, cutting funding for Planned Parenthood and several organizations that conservatives object to.
Before the talks tonight, another day of bickering on the House floor today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: We are trying to do the business of the American people. REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), HOUSE MINORITY WHIP: We never shut down the government when we had the majority, and President Bush was in power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, a lot of rhetoric today, no results. And "Keeping Them Honest," get this, no matter what happens, even if the government shuts down, even if the parks shut down, even if the soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen don't get paid, guess who does? The folks on Capitol Hill. These guys, these guys who got us into this mess and can't get their act together, they will still be getting paid. Just this morning, that fact was news to House Speaker John Boehner.
"If there is a government shutdown," he said, "not only will Congress not be paid, but federal employees will not be paid."
In fact, only the second part is true. Yet when the interviewer pointed it out, Mr. Boehner first disputed the fact. A moment later, he said that, well, whatever the case may be, lawmakers shouldn't get paid.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: They shouldn't be getting paid, just like federal employees shouldn't be getting paid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, shouldn't be, but they are getting paid. They wouldn't be if the House had passed a version of this Senate bill, S388, titled "A bill to Prohibit Members of Congress and the President From Receiving Pay During Government Shutdowns."
Kind of spells it out. But the House didn't, in part because of a real catch-22. The House legislation to stop paying lawmakers in case of government shutdown is bundled into the bill that if it doesn't pass would lead to a government shutdown, catch-22.
So they will get paid, but 800,000 federal workers won't. The troops won't. Many people won't get their tax refund checks. Small business loans won't go out. National parks will close and a whole lot more.
Today, President Obama talked about Sergeant Christopher Hartune (ph), who would be losing a paycheck. Well, it turns out his wife is a federal worker, so they would go from two paychecks to none.
Yet a lot of lawmakers, who, by the way, are making $174,000 a year, are downplaying the impact of a shutdown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we need a jolt, if we need the government shutdown for a few days for us to really get serious, I think the American people are with that.
REP. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: If liberals in the Senate would rather play political games and shut down the government, instead of making a small down payment on fiscal discipline and reform, I say, shut it down.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... that bad a scenario?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If essential services keep going, no, it wouldn't be.
REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: I don't think it would hurt one bit. If an individual can't pay their rent on time, they might ask their landholder to say, look, I will be there next week. They adjust. The owner and the renter adjust. And this is the way the government should adjust. They should, it they can't pay their bills, wait.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I'm not sure all landlords are quite so nice. Again, none of these lawmakers will have to tell the landlord or the bank or the phone company to wait; they will be getting paid.
Some have said they will give their paychecks their charities. Others, though, say they need the money.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LINDA SANCHEZ (D), CALIFORNIA: It's very difficult for me to say, hey, I can give up my paycheck, because the reality is, I have financial obligations that I have to meet on a month-to-month basis that doesn't make it possible for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Democrat Linda Sanchez of California. She actually went on record on this. So far, no one else, Democrat or Republican, to the best of our knowledge, has done the same.
Joining us now, Dana Bash on Capitol Hill, senior political analyst David Gergen and Dan Lothian at the White House.
Dan Lothian, do we know what happened inside the White House tonight at that meeting?
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We're still trying to get more details about what exactly happened inside that meeting tonight. It lasted a little less than an hour, which is kind of interesting because the other meetings that they have had here at the White House have gone longer than that.
COOPER: This wasn't one of those meetings where they're like, we're going to lock the doors, we're going to order in Chinese takeout and we're going to roll up our sleeves and spend all night doing this? This was, they met for an hour and then they left?
LOTHIAN: Right, exactly. And now the real work I guess, if you will, begins because as the president pointed out, both the White House and the Hill team will be working into the night to try to hammer out some kind of agreement.
As the president said, he's not ready to call this any kind of wild optimism coming out of this meeting, but he does believe that they have made additional progress, they have been able to narrow some of the differences.
But the key will be what these teams are able to negotiate over the evening. And as the president himself pointed out, the mechanism to shut down the government is already in place and moving forward. And so he wants to hear back early in the morning.
LOTHIAN: One other thing, when the president, after he wrapped up his remarks here, I asked him what some of those sticking points were. He just walked out of the room. But I think that's crucial. It's not clear exactly what those final points are, now that they have been able to narrow those differences.
COOPER: Well, Dana, it seems like, and because we heard from the president last night saying that in terms of the money, that they're relatively close together. It seems like the sticking points, at least according to a lot of Democrats, of are these riders that Republicans have put on.
Explain what some of these riders are about, because I think it's going to surprise a lot of people. It's not necessarily about money. It's about some more social issues.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Social and economic issues, you're right. Let me give just you two examples, Anderson, of what we're talking about.
Overall, the House bill actually had about 40 to 50 policy riders. But there are some that are more controversial than others, again, two examples. First of all, it says that the EPA cannot regulate greenhouse gases. Now, Republicans say that that's something that they feel is important, because they say doing this hurts jobs. That's their argument.
Democrats of course say, no, they're just trying to go ahead and deal with global warming in a way that really hurts the environment. Then the issue of abortion. And this specifically is a plan that the House Republicans passed to completely eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Of course that has been a controversy that has been brewing here.
Republicans say that the reason is because Planned Parenthood does provide abortion services. Talked to Planned Parenthood, talked to their Democratic allies here on Capitol Hill and even some Republicans and they say, wait a minute, federal funding for abortion is already banned. And so the federal funding that they get does not go for abortion.
But, nevertheless, these are some of the issues that certainly are big, very, very big. And they are some of the issues on the Republican side that leadership aides, others tell us that they are being pushed very hard to keep on. However, as you mentioned, Democrats are talking about this over and over and over again in every press release that they can put out, because they understand that it's politically beneficial for them to say that Republicans are holding this up, that they want a government shutdown potentially because of these issues.
Republicans insist, Anderson, at least going into this meeting, that there still are differences on maybe not -- maybe just a few billion dollars of differences on what -- on how much to cut, but it's what to cut that they still have had differences over, programs and agencies.
COOPER: David Gergen, you have worked in White Houses, Republican White Houses and Democratic White Houses.
Do you believe the Democrats? Are they right in your opinion when they say, look, that the Republicans are trying to shut this government down basically based on social issues?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think they're partially right.
Anderson, there are so many outrages now that are accumulating over this whole controversy.
COOPER: Is it normal to have discussion of greenhouse gases in a budget debate like this?
GERGEN: No, no, no. And it would be an outrage to shut down the government, for the Republicans to shut down the government on matter how much money we give to Planned Parenthood or how EPA is funded. Those are not central issues to the budget.
They can be settled elsewhere. They're legitimate debates. They're legitimate subjects, but not central to the budget. But, Anderson, the whole thing, this whole controversy has become an abject failure of leadership in the White House and in Congress. We should not -- great nations should not be on the brink of shutting down its government over a fairly trivial amount of money. David Walker is a former comptroller of the general, says -- points out this is a small fight. The big one is coming. This is a fight about paying, as David says, paying the bar bills on the Titanic.
COOPER: Well, David, let me ask you, because is this -- with that in mind, that there is this bigger -- the budget for next year, that battle looming, is this about optics for that fight? Is this about posturing for that fight that that neither side, Republican or Democrat, want to be seen as weak moving into this next coming, looming battle?
GERGEN: Well, it's partly about that, Anderson. But it's gotten so messy now, it's like a mud fight and they're wrestling in the mud and you can't disentangle one thing from another. But let me just take -- look, politicians have failed this country. They should not now be collecting paychecks when the government is down.
It's the military who is serving the country and they should be collecting paychecks. And the Democratic argument, well, we can't send the paychecks to the military, they could take care of that problem tomorrow morning. They could reach an agreement, the Republicans, to put up the appropriations and continue the paychecks. It's a phony issue.
COOPER: Dana, explain -- OK, I'm hearing, Dan Lothian, you have got some news?
LOTHIAN: That's right. Tomorrow the president was expected to go to Indiana to take part in another energy event. You know he's been pushing his energy policy of late. There were some questions throughout the day as to whether or not the president would postpone that trip in order to focus on the matter at hand, and that's getting this budget hammered out. Now the White House is saying that this trip has been postponed tomorrow so that the president can put his complete focus on trying to get this deal done.
COOPER: OK. So, Dana, explain because this boggles people's minds. I haven't heard anyone who thinks that this makes any sense whatsoever, that folks on Capitol Hill are still going to get paid, with -- 800,000 federal don't get paid.
BASH: It is mind boggling. There is just no other way around it. There's no question about it. And members of Congress understand that, that it is mind boggling.
And that's why as you mentioned at the beginning of the program that there were moves at least to try to stop that and there are members -- member after member after member is coming out and saying, well, I won't take my money. I will give it to charity.
Could they work harder to find a way to not get paid? Absolutely. But one thing that is interesting and I actually just realized in researching this today, which is that believe it or not, it's in the Constitution. Article 1, Section 6 of the Constitution says that members of Congress shall receive a compensation and it's ascertained by law. They have to get paid by the Treasury of the United States.
And because of that, the payment for Congress and for the president is not in this annual budget process. It's called -- it's a little bit into the weeds here, but just it's important, it's a mandatory spending. So it automatically goes into Treasury for members of Congress.
There's one other thing. The 27th Amendment of the Constitution, it says that members of Congress can't change their salaries during the session. And the goal of that was to make sure that members of Congress didn't raise their own salaries during the session, but it also has an impact on this. Doesn't take away from the politics. Doesn't take away from the problem or the outrage that members of Congress understand that people feel about the fact that they could get paid and the people who work for them wouldn't.
COOPER: Dan Lothian, so the staffers on Capitol Hill work through the night. The president hopes to meet with them tomorrow?
LOTHIAN: That's right. The president said that he hopes that he will check in with them tomorrow morning. He doesn't want this to push late into the day, because as he pointed out that this whole mechanism, the machine to shut down the government is already in motion. And so if you're going to start pulling that back, he wants to hear from them early in the morning. I should point out that the deal doesn't have to be completely done.
There just has to be sort of this agreement and then the president says he supports a stopgap of two or three days until they can finalize this deal. So we will have to see if these teams can make any progress overnight.
COOPER: David, what does the way this whole debate has played out say about leadership in both the Republican Party and in the Democratic Party? The Democrats could have dealt with this a long time ago when they still had majorities. Not much has been done on this until now. And on the Republican side, the Republican leadership, to my understanding, the amount of money they had originally asked to cut was actually lower than where they're at now. So they're actually getting more cuts than they had originally asked for and they originally didn't ask for any riders until conservatives in the party criticized the leadership, and then they kind of changed their demands.
Is that accurate?
GERGEN: That's pretty accurate. I'm sure the Republicans would disagree in some of the details, Anderson, but the overriding point is the political leadership has not been there in the White House on this. The political leadership was not there in the Democratic Party when they held both chambers last year and should have passed this budget last year before the year actually started. The leadership in the Republican Party has not been there in terms of saying, OK, let's find something we can all live with, and move forward to the bigger fights ahead.
And if they shut the government down over things like this, I think the American people have a right to be really disgusted, especially if they see congressmen receiving their paychecks. And it could rattle the markets. There could be a lot of investors saying if you can't settle on the small stuff, what hope do we have that you can run a responsible government and really deal with the entitlement and taxes and defense?
COOPER: Yes, especially given the tough choices that everybody knows lie ahead. If you can't make these kind of decisions, it's worrying for what lies ahead.
GERGEN: I agree with that. If Lyndon Johnson were president now, he would have those folks in tomorrow and he would say, look, here's the Roosevelt Room, you're going to sit here, nobody leaves until we get a deal.
BASH: And, Anderson, just to follow up on David's point which is an important on the lack of leadership, I can tell you that talking to Democratic sources here in Congress over the past weeks, weeks and weeks, actually really months as this has been going on, this short- term spending bill after short-term spending bill to try to keep the government running, there's been a lot of frustration with the president, with the White House that they have not gotten more involved.
And you certainly saw the president out tonight, you saw him out last night, you're seeing him involved at the 11th hour. But many of his fellow Democrats are saying, where were you before? We needed you before. And the reason, they think, is because it's just not a politically good thing for him to be doing is to be getting involved in this kind of fight when he's positioning himself for reelection and doesn't want to be...
BASH: And he doesn't want to be mired in this back and forth over a few billion dollars in spending.
COOPER: Right. That's why people hate politics.
David, Dan, Dana, thanks very much.
Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I will try to tweet tonight, although we got a lot going on.
Up next, Democratic strategist Paul Begala joins us, who is close to some of people involved in the current negotiations. He joins. He also has some familiarity with what happened the last time the government shut down. Also, Tea Party activist Dana Loesch joins us. Tonight, opposition forces also in Libya fleeing a crucial city in Eastern Libya, in Ajdabiya. We will check in with CNN's Ben Wedeman and Nic Robertson on the ground.
First, let's check with our own Isha Sesay -- Isha.
Anderson, breaking news. We have just learned there were some fatalities in that devastating aftershock today in Japan. Details just ahead.
COOPER: We continue to follow the breaking news, another night of emergency meetings at the White House have come and gone without a budget deal to head off a government shutdown. President Obama saying just moments ago he could not express wild optimism tonight. All the same, he says he hopes to be able to announce a deal tomorrow. And again, without a deal, the government shuts down.
Joining me now, CNN political contributor and Democratic strategist Paul Begala, also CNN political contributor Dana Loesch, co-organizer of the Saint Louis Tea Party Coalition, is also editor at BigJournalism.com .
So Paul, a lot of people are saying, listen or a lot of Republicans are saying, even Democrats are saying, look, this lies at the feet of the Democrats. They could have and should have taken care of this when they still controlled both houses. Are you just going to blame Republicans tonight for this?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
COOPER: I knew you would.
BEGALA: But here's why. No, but let me tell you why. On December 14, Democrats still controlled -- they had lost the election, but the Republicans had not taken election. So it was still a Democratic-controlled Senate. That's absolutely true.
On December 14, the Democratic-controlled Senate Appropriations Committee bundled together all appropriations bills as sometimes happens and passed through the committee an omnibus budget for the United States of America. It looked like that was going to go through, it was right after that tax cut deal where a bipartisan majority put that through. And then Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, said, and I'm quoting him here, he said, "I am actively working to defeat that budget." He said, this bill should not go forward.
When he said that, he's the leader of his party, Republicans coalesced around it. They had enough votes to sustain a filibuster. The Democrats couldn't bring it up. So you tell me who we should blame, the Democrats who were trying to pass it or the Republicans who had enough votes to mount a filibuster that would have killed it, so the Democrats pulled it down and they faced the filibuster.
COOPER: Well, Dana, I know you're just going to blame Democrats, but why in a budget bill are there riders about the EPA and greenhouse gases?
DANA LOESCH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, and I have to make a point to my colleague Paul that last year when the Democrats actually had majority in Congress, they didn't deliver anything. They didn't deliver any budget. But we could play this game all day long.
BEGALA: Does your earpiece not work, Dana? I just explained to you how the Republicans blocked it. That's why they didn't deliver it.
BEGALA: It's like Lincoln told the story about the guy who murdered his parents and then asked for mercy because he was an orphan.
LOESCH: No, no, no, no. You had the majority. They had a majority. They could have done whatever they wanted. But I want to answer Anderson's question, though, about the riders.
This is about cutting spending, and these two riders specifically that are mentioned in this, what is it, the one that deals with Gitmo and bringing detainees to U.S. soil, and then the one about Planned Parenthood funding in Washington, D.C., this is about cutting spending, not adding to it. So it seems completely like a moot point to even have these included in something that's about the budget when we're talking about reducing the amount of spending that Washington is involved in.
COOPER: Paul, does it make sense for the Republicans to have these riders in here? Is this the time to be discussing the EPA and greenhouse gases?
BEGALA: No. And I can tell you from people who are involved in the negotiations, it's really all coming down to Planned Parenthood, Anderson.
COOPER: That's what it's coming down to?
BEGALA: Yes, sir. They're very close on the number. But the rider that the -- the Republicans have 40 or 50, OK, so to their defense, they're saying OK, we're going to draw the line in the sand on one, at least this is what I'm hearing from my friends on Capitol Hill. So the Republicans draw that line on Planned Parenthood and their argument is, look, we're going to give up 49 of our riders, but we really don't want Planned Parenthood to get any funding. The Democrats say, look, we have been arguing about abortion for 40 years in America, and the Hyde Amendment, named for the late Henry Hyde, who was the strongest abortion opponent in Congress in his day, already says that no federal funding can go to abortion and the Planned Parenthood money goes to non-abortion women's health, other exams or contraception or mammograms or Pap tests or any manner of other things.
So I do think is something that should be put off for another day. But the Republicans -- this is where Mr. Boehner, the Republican speaker is in a terrible bind. He's in a horrible box. I almost feel sorry for him, because if he jettisons that rider, I think his own Republicans won't vote for even the cuts that he's winning, which are deep cuts.
COOPER: Dana, you're shaking your head.
LOESCH: Yes, I find -- I just think it's kind of funny. This whole issue, this is about, again, this is about spending. And is it that important? Because also we have to consider too the funding for our service men and women and it seems as though that's the thing, that's the hill that Democrats want to fall down on?
Oh, well, there's not taxpayer funding for this Planned Parenthood in Washington, D.C., so we're going to have to veto this whole stopgap measure, we're not going to be able to have it in. That seems ridiculous to me, especially when you look at precedents. This isn't the first time that we have been at this impasse and Democrats have signed off on this before when there's been such riders like this, where they -- not have taxpayer funding for abortion.
Democrats have signed off on this before. So the thing that kind of strikes me is -- makes me a little bit curious is why this is different. Why now? Why all of a sudden? Why is this different and why is there this draft guidance that's been issued by the White House that raises the ante on this and targets military pay? This is so screwy. It's just -- it's a quagmire is what it is.
COOPER: Paul, you seem perplexed.
BEGALA: Yes, who wouldn't be? What this is about is priorities.
LOESCH: Oh, come on.
BEGALA: President Kennedy famously said to govern is to choose.
The Republicans are it seems to me hell bent, some, on shutting down the government. They won't take yes for an answer. They're getting deep cuts, cuts that the Democrats are really finding it very difficult to swallow, but I think they will.
But they're so hell bent on this, apparently this Planned Parenthood thing that they're willing to shut the entire government down over it. And I think David Gergen is right in the earlier segment, this is just the warmup bout. The Republicans are passing a long-term budget, which they have already passed through the Budget Committee in the House of Representatives, which according to "The Wall Street Journal" -- I'm quoting "The Wall Street Journal" -- will essentially end Medicare.
It will also by the way cut taxes for the rich very, very deeply and subsidize oil companies, but it will end Medicare. That's going to be the Armageddon. You think we're having a fight over Planned Parenthood. Wait until the Republicans say we want to end Medicare, which is what they're passing right now...
COOPER: I want to talk to both of you...
LOESCH: Can I add a quick note about that?
COOPER: Yes, OK, very briefly.
LOESCH: OK. Democrats actually kicked seniors off of Medicare Advantage. Don't forget, it gave billions to AARP, so that they could seniors to buy Medigap. We can talk about that. Let's talk about cutting Medicare.
COOPER: Dana, we will bring you right back, Paul Begala as well. Stay with us. I also want to bring in our David Gergen into the conversation right after the break.
Plus tonight, the latest from Libya. New airstrikes kill at least four people in the eastern part of the country. But where did the airstrikes come from? The opposition says NATO may have fired on the wrong people. That's coming up.
COOPER: Back now with the breaking news. No deal to end the budget standoff. White House talks to break the logjam over the night with no agreement. Late word as well that President Obama is postponing tomorrow's trip to Indiana because of the impasse. Let's talk now again with Paul Begala, Dana Loesch and bringing in David Gergen.
So, Dana, I'm still not quite clear why in a budget bill are there riders about the Clean Air Act, about abortion. Is this really the best time to be focusing on those things?
LOESCH: Well, the stopgap measure that was proposed by Boehner, it included the two riders, it included the one about Gitmo and it included the one about the Planned Parenthood funding or the abortion funding for D.C.
And I look at this like this. If we're going to talk about cutting spending, we have to actually talk about cutting spending, and we have to talk about cutting projects here and there. And I think any time is a good time to talk about cutting spending.
And I have been completely unhappy with both -- all of the proposals that I have seen from both parties. We have Democrats and Republicans that are only talking about cutting the tiniest little bitty bit of what is being spent. No one actually wants to get into the meat and potatoes of what is causing us to be in such extreme debt. No one wants to talk about what is adding to the deficit.
We added a trillion dollars to the deficit last year. No one wants to get into cutting the serious stuff that needs to be cut. So I have to wonder how serious is Congress about cutting spending? Or is this just all a dog and pony show?
COOPER: Paul, I think I read -- I don't know if it was Ezra Klein, I'm not sure who it was, he was saying that on the Republican side, this has a lot to do with John Boehner trying to appeal to the Tea Party, or at least to conservatives and show that he can be their representative. Do you buy that?
BEGALA: Yes, this is the real -- it's an almost impossible situation that Speaker Boehner is in. And honestly I kind of feel for me.
President Obama, Senator Reid and those Democrats, they seem to be pretty aligned. They don't much like these cuts, but they're ready to accept really deep cuts. And I don't pick up a lot of dissension on the Democratic side of the aisle, even though they're going to vote for pretty difficult cuts.
It's on the Republican side, where, as I say, they don't seem to be able to take yes for an answer. And Speaker Boehner has a terrible choice. This is going to be his choice. He's going to sleep on it, I suppose, tonight.
Either he takes the position of the Republican base, that really hard-line Tea Party, you know, Obama is a Muslim, aliens are landing from Mars base, and give them the kind of cuts that they want. But that can't pass the Senate, and it won't be signed by the president. Or he tries to find a bipartisan solution. He could get a lot of Democrats for some of these, if he rejected some of the extremist language.
But if he did that, I tell you, Anderson, they'll kill him. The Republican base in his House, they want a government shutdown. Boehner, I don't think, does at all. I don't think the country does. But he's got this -- this base. They are committed -- they should be committed, if we had a functioning mental health system. But they -- they want to shut the government down over this, and I think they're going to get their way. So I don't know how Boehner gets out of this box.
COOPER: So David Gergen, how much does this, then, boil down to politics on both sides, whether it's internal Republican politics or Democrats not wanting to look weak in front of Republicans going into this next budget battle. GERGEN: It's all about politics. Increasingly, it's about smelly politics. I want to come back to this thing about Planned Parenthood. The reason for cutting Planned Parenthood is they're going to save money doing it. You know perfectly well that the amount of money involved is tiny, tiny, tiny. Planned Parenthood in D.C.
Let me ask you, you know perfectly well that the reason they're trying to gut Planned Parenthood is they don't like it. The same reason they're trying to gut National Public Radio. It doesn't spend a lot of money. They just don't like it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wait.
GERGEN: There are whole -- there are a lot of cuts on the table, but what I'd like to ask you...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're going to shut down the government on that?
GERGEN: Well, that's what I want to ask you. Are you...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You'll shut down the government over Planned Parenthood?
GERGEN: Yes, that's what I'm asking you. Would the Tea Party punish members, Republicans who vote for a compromise that does not include a Planned Parenthood rider? Would you actually punish them if they -- if they vote for a compromise and keep the government open?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I don't speak for the whole Tea Party.
GERGEN: Well, what is your personal view?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I speak for myself. I look at it like, if we're going to talk about the budget, we need to talk about cutting things.
And if you want to make the stand on Planned Parenthood, you want to shut down the government, you want to actually target the salaries of our servicemen and women, who are overseas right now -- we just got into Libya, who are overseas right now -- you want to target their salaries over one -- one instance in Washington, D.C.?
COOPER: But Dana, you're making it sound like the Democrats are the ones who brought up this Planned Parenthood thing, and they're the ones who are pushing this down people's throats. Democrats are saying, "Wait a minute. It's the Republicans who have brought this up." You're the -- they're saying you're the ones who are making this the issue.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was suggested as a cut. And can Democrats suggest other things that they would like to replace with that to cut? We have to start cutting somewhere. I'd readjust the amounts from both parties.
GERGEN: How much is involved with Planned Parenthood in D.C.? How much is involved? It must be less than $500,000.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's irrelevant, because you can...
GERGEN: How is it irrelevant, if the issue is cutting...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Over time it adds up, though. Over time it adds up.
GERGEN: You know, if you want to shut down the government over...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Only in D.C., but it adds up.
GERGEN: ... Planned Parenthood, I think you can guarantee if you want to -- if the Tea Party wants to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not the Tea Party. We wouldn't even be having this discussion if we had a budget passed a year ago. We wouldn't even be having this discussion.
GERGEN: That's true. Your point is well taken on that. And I disagree with my good friend Paul Begala on that. But the point of this is, if you really want to hang -- shut down the government over Planned Parenthood, don't you think there's a reasonable chance it will discredit the Tea Party?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, this isn't -- I don't think it's going to discredit the Tea Party at all. And again, I don't look at this as we're taking -- no one is taking a stand on Planned Parenthood. People are taking a stand on let's start cutting.
If that's something that Democrats refuse to compromise on, so be it. That's something that they'll have to deal with. But I don't understand what the big deal is. If they're risking to shut down government over one incident, they need to give others. What else would they cut? Give us some more suggestions. I am totally open. Like I said before, I reject the paltry amounts from both sides.
COOPER: Paul, you wanted to add?
BEGALA: Yes. How about the $45 billion over ten years that we give to oil companies, taxpayer money that goes to oil companies...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about the trillion-dollar health care?
BEGALA: Making billions of profits at $100 a barrel. So they're -- they're on corporate welfare. But the Republicans want to kick 200,000 kids off of Head Start. They want to lay off 65,000 teachers, and they want to essentially end Medicare, while protecting tax breaks for Exxon and Mobile.
I mean, you want to cut some money out of the budget, let's go -- let's cut -- let's cut the oil companies' subsidies. And let's save Medicare. But this is about more than just money. This is about values and priorities.
The Republican's priority is to get rid of Medicare and to fund tax breaks for oil companies and other wealthy elites.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Paul, I love you, but I have to jump in.
BEGALA: That's the agenda that's in their budget that just passed the budget committee.
COOPER: Dana, I want you to be able to respond, and then we've got to go.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Democrats, why did Democrats craft a health-care bill that actually pays AARP billions of dollars. It kicks seniors off of Medicare Advantage, forces them to sign up with AARP, forces them to buy that medigap insurance. And AARP stands to make billions in a windfall profit. Now, you can explain that to me about Medicare. Why was it structured that way?
BEGALA: The Democrats did make some reductions in Medicare, and it was demagogued to death.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Five hundred.
BEGALA: Five hundred billion, 124 came out of Medicare advantage, which is corporate welfare. Medicare Advantage was basically a corporate welfare deal that mostly Humana Corporation profited from. It didn't help seniors, but it made a lot of money. So we tried to save -- Democrats tried to save some money there.
The Democrats have taken a hit on trying to cut entitlements. They lost a lot of seats from it.
COOPER: We've got to go.
BEGALA: The Republicans, though, want to abolish Medicare and preserve tax breaks for Exxon and Mobile. I think that's crazy.
COOPER: We've got to go.
BEGALA: Exxon and Mobile aren't broke. Why are they getting welfare?
COOPER: Dana Lash, David Gergen, Paul Begala, thanks.
Coming up, the latest from Libya. U.S. General Carter Ham saying it's not very likely the opposition will be able to oust Gadhafi, looking more and more like a stalemate on the ground.
The opposition has complained that NATO isn't doing enough to help. And now there's word NATO has accidentally fired on the wrong people. And the opposition, they've high-tailed it to Benghazi. That's next. The breaking news out of Japan, the last thing they needed: another strong aftershock. This is the earthquake that hit at night there. More than 100 injured, at least two dead, we've learned now.
The latest ahead.
COOPER: The situation for the Libyan opposition has gone from bad to worse and tonight there are serious new questions about whether NATO is getting the job done or just adding to the chaos.
Four people died, 14 were injured in air strikes in the eastern part of the country today. Opposition leaders wondering if NATO may have accidentally fired on the forces they're supposed to be helping.
Here's some of what CNN's Ben Wedeman saw and heard outside Ajdabiya today.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Already demoralized by the superior fire power of the Libyan army, fighters and medics alike are showing the strain. And they're lashing out at their should-be protectors.
"They shouldn't hit the revolutionaries. We're helpless," says this fighter. The attack has left the opposition forces reeling and sparked yet another wild retreat. First foe, and now it would seem friend, has them on the run.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: NATO says it's looking into those air strikes, and the situation is fluid and unclear. What is clear: the battle between Gadhafi forces and the opposition is looking more like a stalemate than ever. Opposition and Gadhafi forces have been ping-ponging between Brega and Ajdabiya.
And today, U.S. General Carter Ham said it's unlikely the opposition will be able to take Tripoli and push Gadhafi out.
Ben Wedeman joins us live from Benghazi. Here in New York, Professor Fouad Ajami of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the Hoover Institution.
In Berkeley, California, former CIA officer Bob Baer, whose Time.com's intelligence columnist and co-author of "The Company We Keep." And in Tripoli, senior international correspondent Nic Robertson.
Ben, you -- last night you were in Ajdabiya. A lot of the media had left. Today, you had to rush out of Ajdabiya after fierce Gadhafi forces were at the western gate of the city. What happened?
WEDEMAN: Well, basically we were sort of really completely focused, Anderson, on this -- the aftermath of the air strike. We were at the hospital. But as we were talking to the doctors, talking to eyewitnesses and the wounded, we noticed that truck after truck after truck of the opposition was just streaming out of town.
Word went out that the Gadhafi forces were at the gates of Ajdabiya, and would soon be in the city itself. So we had to run back to our hotel in record time, packed our bags and ran away in ten minutes.
The hotel staff was already gone. In fact, when I gave in my key, I was answering the phone at reception, because there was nobody else there. And we high-tailed it out of town, along with the entire rebel army.
And we saw them sort of regrouping outside the town, also firing Katyusha rockets sort of madly back inside the city, even though there were probably still rebel fighters in the town.
But this really underscores the chaos that is descending upon the front line, and it's not helped by whatever happened today. It's not clear: was it a NATO strike, was it not? NATO has still not come out, 17 1/2 hours after the incident, to simply say, "Yes, we had a plane in the area. Yes, that plane fired rockets." It's utter confusion from every direction.
COOPER: And briefly, Ben, what happens to all those folk is the hospital who we just saw? That hospital is in Ajdabiya. If Gadhafi forces take it over, do they all get evacuated? I mean, did they leave, too?
WEDEMAN: Yes, a lot of them were being treated on the spot and then being moved back to Benghazi. So if anybody's got their act together, it's certainly these medics who have incredible courage in working on the front lines, ferrying people out. So I think nobody was left behind in their hospital bed.
COOPER: Fouad, as you see the situation, I mean, it does -- certainly does not look good for the opposition. They're now back in -- outside of Ajdabiya and back toward Benghazi.
FOUAD AJAMI, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: And nothing about this, by the way, should come as any great surprise. When a professional soldier like Carter Ham, the head of the Africa command said, look, the rebels can't take Tripoli, the rebels can't go to Tripoli. We should have known this. And this is playing according to script.
The idea that teenagers, the idea that lawyers and businessman who rush their Toyota Corollas, who rush to the front are going to take on Gadhafi and win...
COOPER: Is a stalemate acceptable to you?
AJAMI: Well, it's just a scandal. It's a great moral scandal. And I think we now see the contradictions of American policy. We left it to the British and to the French, and they took the lead. They insisted they could do it. And now we see the contradictions of NATO. What is NATO?
And you look at the Turks. They're in NATO, and they are sympathetic to Moammar Gadhafi. You look at the Germans. They have no interest in the use of power against Gadhafi. So I think there's nothing here that's in any way -- we should have known -- we should have known that it would come to this.
COOPER: So Bob Baer, where does it go from here? I mean, you've said all along opposition forces are difficult to train, that it would take a long time to get them, you know, up to a standard where they could be a fighting force. Is -- what do you see happening now? Is there a stalemate that there's a partition and then a force is built up?
BOB BAER, FORMER CIA OFFICER: First of all, the no-fly zone is not working now, because there's no forward air controllers. And these what -- they use to be the troops on the ground that would...
COOPER: Like CIA forces, CIA officers on the ground? Laser sighting and calling in air strikes?
BAER: Laser sighting, GPS, the whole thing. It's the only way that works when you're fighting in close quarters. So it's not a surprise to me either hat the NATO bombed the rebels' force.
We -- you know, we sort of got one foot in this, but not completely, and that's not enough. It's almost the logic of this conflict is you have to put people on the ground. I don't think it's a good idea, but that's where the logic is going.
And even now, if this rout continues, and they move on Benghazi, we still have the same problem of an enormous humanitarian problem for Europe. I mean, people are going to be fleeing to Italy, to this Lampedusa, the island where they're all going to is going to sink with the number of people coming. This is a European problem that is not going away right now.
COOPER: But Fouad, if they move on Benghazi, we're in the situation that the world faced several weeks ago that got NATO -- that got the U.S. involved in this in the first place, an attack on Benghazi.
AJAMI: Absolutely right. In fact, what President Obama did with Benghazi is he granted Benghazi a stay of execution, if you really want it in such a language. And if Gadhafi drives toward Benghazi one more time, we will face exactly the same dilemma.
Bob Baer is right: you either have boots on the ground or you have a robust air campaign where NATO is willing, in fact, to give it to Gadhafi, to take it to him.
COOPER: Which they're clearly not at this point.
AJAMI: They're not. We do not -- we do not have a viable air campaign against Moammar Gadhafi. COOPER: Nic, in Tripoli, you were able to interview Eman al- Obeidy yesterday. I want to play a little bit of that for our viewers.
Do we have that video? We're going to have that in just a second. OK, here we are.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMAN AL-OBEIDY, RAPE VICTIM (through translator): I was kidnapped by two cars belonging to the armed forces and the Gadhafi brigade. They drove their normal patrol police cars.
They dropped me off the patrol car, because I am from the eastern province, and they asked me to ride in their car. Then they took me.
They were drunk in the car, and they took me to the residence of one of them, where I was tortured, raped, beaten, and I was tied. When I was showing the journalists my hand bruises as a result of being tied, my hands and legs were tied up backwards for two days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now Nic, for days now, for more than a week, the Libyan government has been maligning this woman, calling her a prostitute and whore. This interview actually came about because one of Gadhafi's sons helped make it happen. I don't understand: how did that happen?
ROBERTSON: He helped facilitate it. He provided the location. He provided the car to pick her up. We asked him and told him that we wanted to do it and we needed his help. We told the government official, the government spokesman was lying to journalists, was blocking them from getting her rather than -- rather than actually helping.
It's not clear why he wanted to help us, what his motivation was, but he absolutely overrode the government spokesman on this, faced him down, faced down other officials, and helped facilitate this. Sent a car to pick her up when we asked if she would come over and meet us, gave us a location to meet her. Indeed, he met her, but she said positive things about him after talking about him.
He was shocked by what had happened to her. He hadn't believed her case before. He had believed the government's smear campaign. Now he's changed his mind. Now he recognizes that she's a very strong, spirited woman, and indeed he would like to see her -- and promised he would help get her out of the country so she can meet her family.
Why did he do that? I don't know. I just know what he did. And I do know, and I did see him face down, the government spokesman who came to us afterwards, criticized us, told us we'd asked the wrong questions, told us we should never have had this interview. He told them apologize to journalists.
COOPER: That's Sadi Gadhafi you're talking about. Are there any updates on Eman, whether or not she will be able to get out of Tripoli?
ROBERTSON: It's a big issue right now. I do know that there had been meetings here late last night as recent as a couple of hours ago. I was told one official here that there was a meeting under way.
We know that a former U.S. Congressman, Curt Weldon is here. For him, this is a big issue. He wants to be able to take Eman al- Obeidy out of the country. It's not clear that he'll be able to do that. It's not clear that his mission here is going to be as successful as he wants it to be.
But it is a very big issue. It is being debated. Will it happen? This is Libya. We just don't -- I think we won't know it, we won't believe it until it happens, Anderson.
COOPER: So very briefly, Fouad, what do you think, in your opinion, needs to happen now?
AJAMI: Look, we have to take this more seriously. And look at President Obama. He has the government shutdown that he's engaged in, which is his fundamental mission, if you will.
And NATO has to take its responsibility seriously. If NATO insists it can take over for the Americans, let's see what NATO can do, and this has been the missing ingredient.
COOPER: Bob Baer, for you -- what are you going to be looking for over the next 24, 48 hours?
BAER: I completely agree with Dr. Ajami. We have to do something decisive now. We cannot let this fester, or it will turn into a complete catastrophe.
COOPER: Ben Wedeman, stay safe. Nic Robertson, as well. Professor Fouad Ajami, thank you. Bob Baer, thank you.
Programming note: be sure to tune in for a special hour tomorrow night, featuring my exclusive interview with four "New York Times" journalists held captive for six days in Libya. We played some of the interview last week, but you're going to hear them for the hour describe their horrifying detail -- ordeal at the hands of pro-Gadhafi forces in great detail. You'll also hear what their families went through. We talked to two of their spouses as they waited to hear word of their loved ones' fate. That's tomorrow night at 11 p.m. Eastern after our regular edition of 360 at 10 p.m.
Up next, a convicted sex offender who allegedly kidnapped, raped and imprisoned Jaycee Dugard for nearly two decades is back in court today. All the talk of a plea deal -- plea agreement did not happen. We'll tell you what did happen instead.
And another powerful earthquake hitting Japan today. There were some injuries. The latest developments ahead.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Breaking news tonight out of Japan. At least two people are now confirmed dead in the powerful earthquake that struck the island nation today. The last thing Japan needed. It hit just before midnight local time -- that's what it looked like -- close to the same area as last month's magnitude 9 quake. It's the largest aftershock so far, measuring between 7.1 and 7.4.
At least 132 injuries were reported, some of them serious. The quake knocked out train lines. It damaged roads. At least two buildings collapsed. Millions lost powers. It triggered a tsunami warning, as well. Just imagine the fear that must have set off. The warning was canceled about 90 minutes later.
Not clear what the toll might be on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which has been in crisis since the March 11 quake, of course, and the tsunami. The epicenter of today's quake was about 73 miles from that facility. Workers were forced to evacuate the site, but they have since returned. They're assessing the damage, we're told.
Earlier, TEPCO said power was still on at the plant. Today, a nuclear watchdog group raised new concerns about the plant's containment structure, saying it's hard to know how they'll hold up during aftershocks and new earthquakes, given the damage they sustained from hydrogen explosions last month.
A lot of other stories we're following right now. Isha Sesay is back with a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Isha.
ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, gunfire rings out in the streets of Ivory Coast's main city. People ducking for cover. Laurent Gbagbo, the self-declared president of the West African country refuses to give up power after a day-long assault on his home. His men battled forces loyal to Allesande Outtara, who's considered the legitimate winner in November's election.
And when Gbagbo's forces attacked the Japanese ambassador's home, French forces moved in to rescue him.
Well, here at home, a "not guilty" plea from Phillip Garrido, who's accused of the kidnapping and rape of Jaycee Dugard. California authorities say Dugard was held in Garrido's home from the ages of 11 to 29 and gave birth to two daughters in captivity.
A 360 follow. Arizona's governor has signed a new budget which reinstates coverage for medical transplants under the state's Medicaid program. In a controversial move, that funding was cut last fall, and two patients who were waiting for transplants died.
Oil prices have climbed above $110 a barrel for the first time in 2 1/2 years. Prices have surged 20 percent due to the uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa.
And Anderson, it's news you didn't know you were waiting for. The venomous snake that went missing at New York's Bronx Zoo is no longer missing a name. Say hello to Mia, as in "missing in action." Get it? Officials have no idea how the cobra slithered away for five days, but they sure are glad she's back. Mia saying about her name, in her heart she'll always be Mrs. Justin Bieber.
COOPER: You know, I collected snakes as a kid. And I once bought a new snake, and I left it in a bag in the taxi on my way home from the pet store.
SESAY: Why does that not surprise me that you kept snakes?
COOPER: And I felt bad because this nice little old lady got in the cab right after I left, and I imagine her sort of opening up the bag and seeing this snake. But...
SESAY: And to this day, she is cursing you.
COOPER: That's right, if she survived the cab ride.
SESAY: If she survived the cab ride.
COOPER: Let's hope.
All right. Up next, breaking news, President Obama's take after emergency talks at the White House to head off a government shutdown ended tonight with no agreement.