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CNN NEWSROOM

Sinkhole Wrecks Florida Home; Sequester Cuts Set to Take Effect; Government Spending Cuts to Fall Heavily on Pentagon; Jodi Arias Cross-Examined on Stand; Hockey Player Survives Cancer; Billionaire Building Replica of Titanic; Ill Effects of Underemployment Examined; Possible Spring Break Vacation Destinations Profiled

Aired March 2, 2013 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We start in Florida where fear is growing as a sinkhole widens, threatening another house. It is the day after that sinkhole swallowed a man laying in his bed. Search crews in suburban Tampa haven't been able to recover the body of Jeff Bush because it's simply too dangerous.

CNN's John Zarrella is live in Florida. It's the blue house right behind you where the sinkhole kind of opened up, the bedroom floor. We understand that that house is, according to officials, is ready to collapse. Are they going to be bringing in other equipment to help out in the search for this missing man?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, they're really not. At this point -- they can't do anything at this point but continue to try to use ground penetrating area around the house and areas of the house Fredricka, so they can determine the extent of the sinkhole, how wide it is. They know it's at least 25, 30 deep. May be getting deeper or wider because the walls along the edge of the sinkhole are very sandy and very steep which means it could very easily continue to collapse on them.

In fact, they did find that the house that was evacuated, the green house here, which was evacuated yesterday, was, in fact, compromised as well. They made that determination from that ground penetrating radar that they used. The neighbors were allowed to go in there around noon today for about 30 minutes with the assistance of fire and rescue personnel, allowed to go in there and get out as many belongings as they could. They took out TV sets, smaller pieces of furniture, a lot of things that they could fit in boxes as well that was easily manageable to get out.

Now also today Jeremy Bush, the brother who tried to get in there to save Jeff, who tried to literally dig him out with a shovel, he was out here today laying some flowers, a small memorial set up on this side of the street in front of the house and he spent some time there and he knelt quietly, and was certainly you could tell very consumed with grief as he laid those flowers there. And he talked to Anderson Cooper last night just about what he went through trying to rescue his brother.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEREMY BUSH, VICTIM'S BROTHER: I heard a loud crash like a car coming through the house. And I heard my brother screaming, so I ran back there and tried going inside his room, but my old lady turning the light on and all I seen was a big hole, a real big hole.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZARRELLA: So the plan now is to continue to try to survey the area around. In fact, one of those ground penetrating devices is on this side of the street right now, and they're just trying to figure out where does the soft sand, the soft clay material, where does it end and where do they start to get some more of the harder material that they no longer have to worry about a sinkhole developing below the ground?

So they're not saying there's any problem on this sight of the street but they want to make sure. They're going to do more work today and continue to try to get an idea of exactly how far out this sinkhole might expand over time. Not saying it will, but might expand over time.

WHITFIELD: All right, horrible situation. Thanks so much, John Zarrella there in Seffner, Florida.

In Washington, here we go again divisions there. America's elected officials failed to a reach consensus to stop deep federal spending cuts. They forced president to sign an order halting $85 billion in federal funding over the next seven months. The president today is urging compromise.

Our chief Congressional correspondent Dana Bash is joining us from Washington. Dana, you walk the halls of Congress every day. Do you think these lawmakers get the frustration that people outside of the beltway have with Washington?

DANA BASH CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They do. The problem is what the lawmakers you talk to say is that the other persons say it's the other side's fault, which breeds the exact frustration that people have with Washington.

You know, one of the interesting conversations that we had just yesterday was with the chairwoman of the Senate committee who is in charge of the spending bills, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland. And even she expressed frustration at what she called a photo-op at the White House yesterday. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI, (D) CHAIR APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE: We've hit March 1st, we've hit sequester. Let's go. I'm waiting for the photo op at the White House to come here to give me instructions. I can make strategic cuts and I can do it on a bipartisan basis. We've got to go to work. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: You know, the issue, Fred, that led us to where we are right now, both sides dug in on their philosophical, fundamental differences, which is whether to deal with the tax deficit by having tax increases or spending cuts. The president and Democrats offered to do it 50/50. Republicans said, no, we did way too many tax increases during the last crisis of the fiscal cliff at the end of last year and that's why we are where we are right now.

WHITFIELD: OK, so these cuts will span something like six to eight months. Meantime, you know, there's another threat looming this month and that could lead to a government shutdown. So how much of what has just happened as of yesterday kind of set the stage for potential government shutdown by the end of the month?

BASH: Probably the only positive thing that came out of that meeting yesterday from the White House and congressional leaders at both parties was the desire to keep the government running, to not shut the government down. We heard that from the president and the House speaker. We heard it very clearly.

Of course, the devil is in the details. How are they going do that? We're going see the Republicans to pass legislation to do just that, to keep the government running through the owned testify fiscal year, which is September 30th, but there are some differences that they have, no surprise, with the Democrats that run the Senate and priorities in that. At this point I'm told by sources, in the Senate in particular, that the Democrats got the signal from the president that they'd better figure it out because there's no desire to go through this and have the government shut down or come close to the drama of it in 25 days.

WHITFIELD: Not at all. Dana Bash in Washington, thank you.

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is said to be fighting for his life. This as the opposition leader takes to twitter accusing the government of lying about his condition. Aside from photos Chavez has not been seen or heard from since the October elections. Meantime his supporters held a mass at the Venezuelan military hospital where Chavez is said to be receiving cancer treatments.

Angry scenes in the streets of Moscow as thousands of Russians march against a U.S. coroners ruling. They're outraged at the death of a Russian boy adopted by a Texan couple that's being called an accident. The district attorney in Texas says the medical examiner found the boy died of a torn artery in his stomach and the bruising on the boy was self-inflicted according to the report.

All right, the man charged in that shooting rampage at a Colorado movie theater is attacking the state's insanity defense laws. Lawyers for James Holmes say forcing him to cooperate with psychiatrists is a violation of his right against self-incrimination. Holmes is charged with 126 counts including murder in the July 20 shooting. And 12 people died and many others were injured. Drama, tension, and tears in the Jodi Arias murder trial this week. She faced some pretty tough questions about death and a cover- up. We'll take you inside the courtroom for her dramatic testimony next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: It was the most dramatic week of testimony in the Jodi Arias murder trial. She broke down in tears as the prosecutor grilled her about the moments before and after she killed Travis Alexander. Randi Kaye has the compelling testimony from Phoenix. Let me warn you, however, some of the images you're about to see are very graphic and disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tears from Jodi Arias, she broke down on the stand as the first photo of Travis Alexander's body was displayed in court. It showed him twisted and crumbled on the shower floor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you crying when you shooting him?

JODI ARIAS, ACCUSED OF MURDER: I don't remember.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you crying when you were stabbing him?

ARIAS: I don't remember.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about when you cut his throat? Were you crying then?

ARIAS: I don't know.

KAYE: With her face in her hands the prosecutor dared her to look.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take a look then. You're the one that did this, right?

ARIAS: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you're the same individual that lied about all of this, right?

ARIAS: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So then take a look at it.

KAYE: From the stand Arias did her best to convince the jury she acted in self-defense. She said Alexander attacked her after she dropped his camera.

ARIAS: He body slammed me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He body slammed you down. ARIAS: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a very forceful way. Where did he body slam you down?

ARIAS: Right in the same way, on the tile.

KAYE: Even if it was self-defense, how did it lead to this, nearly 30 stab wounds, his throat cut, and a single gunshot to the head. And prosecutors specifically retraced the steps leading up to that point starting with the moment she says she shot him.

ARIAS: He was running at me as I turned around.

KAYE: Arias said he charged her like a linebacker.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Show me the linebacker pose.

ARIAS: He went like that.

KAYE: That's when she said the gun went off.

ARIAS: I think I screamed when I pointed the gun at him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then what do you do?

ARIAS: I don't really remember. I don't remember anything at this point, so I would be speculating.

KAYE: Later the prosecutor displayed several gruesome photos from the crime scene.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And according to your version of events you would acknowledge that the stabbing was after the shooting according to you, right?

ARIAS: Yes. I don't remember.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not asking you if you remember, ma'am. I'm asking if you acknowledge that it would be you that did it, correct?

ARIAS: Yes.

KAYE: No matter what she said on the stand the state isn't buying her story. And here's why. Investigators believe she killed him in the shower. Inside court the prosecutors showed a clip of her interview with a detective, an attempt to prove that she lured Alexander to the shower just hours after they had sex.

ARIAS: I asked him if I could take pictures of him in the shower, and he was like no. And I said I had a couple of ideas. And so he was, you're right. He wasn't very comfortable. He was standing there and he said, "I feel gay."

KAYE: Arias snapped naked photos of Alexander including this one shown to the court. Investigators say it's time stamped 5:30 p.m. just two minutes before Arias stabbed him in the heart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You directed him where to be and how to sit, right?

ARIAS: Yes.

KAYE: Directing him perhaps to his own death.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you remember we're talking about Travis Alexander?

ARIAS: Yes, I remember that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's why we're here, because you killed him, right?

ARIAS: Yes.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, Phoenix, Arizona.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: And Arias is back on the stand Monday to face more questions from her attorney. The defense can ask anything the prosecutor actually brought up. Then after the defense is finished the jury can submit questions of their own. And if the judge thinks they're appropriate, Arias has to answer them.

Join Anderson Cooper tonight for the special coverage of the Jodi Arias trial, "Sex, Lies, and Audiotape," airing at 9:00 eastern time right here on CNN.

All right, we're into day one of those forced spending cuts. Coming up, we'll talk with the man who drafted the first ever spending cuts law. He's got the insights on when we'll start to feel the impact.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: We're into day one of those forced spending cuts, $85 billion worth, and it doesn't appear that the president or congressional Republicans are any closer to ending the cuts any time soon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) HOUSE SPEAKER: The president got his tax hikes on January 1st. This discussion about revenue in my view is over. It's about taking on the spending problem here in Washington.

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: At a time when our businesses have finally begun to get some traction, hiring new workers, bringing jobs back to America, we shouldn't be making a series of dumb arbitrary cuts to things that businesses depend on and workers depend on, like education and research and infrastructure and defense. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Joining me is Steve Bell who is no stranger to these budget battles. He was staff director of the Senate's budget committee and is now senior director of economic policy at the bipartisan Policy Center. Steve, good to see you.

STEVE BELL, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF ECONOMIC POLICY, POLICY CENTER: Good to see you, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: In your view, who is going to be hurt the most by these forced spending cuts?

BELL: In the short run not many people will notice, but the hurt has already started.

WHITFIELD: In what way?

BELL: For small businesses who depend on contracts with larger contractors through the federal government, they've already had to cut back on their hiring plans. In some cases they've had to be forced to sell their business, especially in this region, Washington, D.C. region, because they can't get credit lines extended. So we've seen in the last six months by the gross domestic product features, you've seen people waiting for and attempting to anticipate the sequester.

So this isn't the first time we've seen forced spending cuts or even entertaining the idea of it. I guess you're considered to be the father of the forced spending cuts idea. Were you a fan of it then or was it over time you have decided it is a hurtful option and you see it only as a devastating one now?

BELL: No. As a matter of fact, when I was staffed on the budget committee it did start interestingly enough on our side because we wanted to pass a debt ceiling increase, if that sounds familiar. And Phil Graham and others wanted to start spending. All of the staff I talked to on both sides of the aisle thought it was a stupid idea then. We felt pretty good because in 1986 when President Reagan signed the first and only major sequester up until now, he also said it was a stupid idea.

WHITFIELD: Why would it be entertained again?

BELL: I think it is an example of people who have not lived through history or who don't care to remember it. To many people now in the house and Senate, the sequester is brand new word. They were in high school or college or somewhere else 25 years ago, and they think it's a very smart idea. We'll just have these cuts occur if we don't do anything.

WHITFIELD: Except some of those lawmakers were around. I mean Mitch McConnell, some real senior lawmakers that are part of this process and part of the dialogue with this president were part of that history during the Reagan years. So what happened? BELL: Most of the folks who worked on that have retired. It leaves very senior people like Mr. McConnell and Mr. Reid really without a majority of people on either caucus who understand really how this process works and how damaging it's going to be as it is written. It's written right now, by the way Fredericka, exactly almost as if it were word for word as we wrote 25 five years ago.

WHITFIELD: So how do you see this ending? What can people expect during this eight-month period, quickly?

BELL: Probably over the next 45 days you'll start to see furlough notices go out, but before that you'll see people with small businesses in the middle of Ohio or New Mexico having to either lay off workers or not hire workers because they simply don't have a contract in time and can't pay their cash flow or pay their bills. Over a seven-month period if we continue seeing this, we'll probably see a growth in our economic growth, which will be about 1.2 percent, which is very nearly a recession again.

WHITFIELD: Steve Bell, appreciate your insight and comparisons of then and now. Appreciate it.

BELL: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, a bus driver -- you can't believe this one, actually passes out while driving, and it's all caught on camera. We'll show you what happened in those terrifying moments.

And we're going to hear more about this when you talk to the women who lived in the house where the sinkhole occurred. That's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Here's a look at the top stories that we're following.

New Tampa, Florida, fears that sinkhole could widen. Right now crews are searching for the body of Jeff Bush, the man who was simply swallowed by the earth yesterday. He was asleep when witnesses heard a deafening sown and then a sinkhole opened up under his bedroom. Bush's brother, who today brought flowers to the scene, tried to save him but was unsuccessful. The fire department says the sinkhole is expanding and eventually could take the entire house with it.

Joining us on the phone is Janelle Wicker. Janelle, you live in that house. Were you there at the time all of this happened?

JANELLE WICKER, RESIDENT (on the phone): Yes, I was. We had all just went to bed.

WHITFIELD: Janelle, prior though-to this sinkhole opening and swallowing Jeff Bush, who was in his bed, were there rumbles in the hours prior, maybe even days prior?

WICKER: No. There was no nothing. There was no noise, no crack, no nothing. No signs or indications or anything.

BERMAN: It simply came out of nowhere. So then when it happened, describe for me what happened in your view and what happened immediately following.

WICKER: Well, right when it happened, it sounded like somebody had just rammed our house with their car going about 100 miles an hour, and then you hear his scream. And that's it. You just hear scream.

WHITFIELD: What part of the house were you in at this time?

WICKER: I was in the bedroom right next to him.

WHITFIELD: OK, so you heard that big noise, you heard the scream. Did you, you know, come running out of your bedroom or what did you see?

WICKER: When I jumped up out of my bed, it had also taken my closet and it was about 20 feet away from my bed, my closet where I was sleeping.

WHITFIELD: So then in that bed you could see this portion of your closet, wall being taken away.

WICKER: You could see just a hole and hear him screaming.

WHITFIELD: Unbelievable. What are you thinking? How do you react to that? What were you thinking was happening?

WICKER: I did not know. I just did not know what happened. I just ran out of the house. I got my niece, and we got our dogs and we just got out of the house and his brother's trying to help him out, trying to get him out. He was in the hole.

WHITFIELD: Right. So his brother with his bare hands was trying to dig his brother Jeff out of the hole to no avail. It was simply too dangerous. Now to hear the sinkhole is winding, clearly, none of you are in the house, no one's allowed to enter. Officials are saying it's too dangerous to get in the house, to look in the sinkhole for Jeff Bush. Has this ever been a fear in the general vicinity in that sinkholes are not that rare in this part of Florida, but this was still very unusual. Had you guys ever worried about something like this, a sinkhole?

WICKER: No. We had been living in the house since October of 1974 so the thought never crossed my mind.

WHITFIELD: How long were you staying? How many people were living in the house who now can't even to go home?

WICKER: We are speaking of five adults and one two-year-old child.

WHITFIELD: And are you holding out hope at all for Jeff Bush, or do you simply feel like he's just succumbed to a tragic death? WICKER: The lord is on our side and we're just praying, and the lord is going to take care of us.

WHITFIELD: We wish you the best Janelle Wicker, and thank you for your time. A tragic situation that's really difficult for anyone to comprehend. Thanks so much.

WICKER: All we're asking for is prayers.

WHITFIELD: You got it.

All right, Chris Rumble was a fierce competitor on his way to a professional hockey career. But all that changed just last year. CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta shares his story in this week's "Human Factor.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Chris Rumble loves the hard hits, the camaraderie, and the trash talk.

CHRIS RUMBLE, CANCER SURVIVOR: Hey, do something.

GUPTA: In hockey.

RUMBLE: It's always been in the back of my mind. Yes I want to be a hockey play whir I grow up.

GUPTA: After high school played against for an amateur hockey team. In April 2012 noticed his glands swollen, energy level was low, and then came the diagnosis.

RUMBLE: I knew looking it was a form of cancer, and I felt I had 1,000 pounds on my shoulders. I sunk into my seat.

GUPTA: Rumble approached his six months of brutal chemotherapy with a positive attitude.

RUMBLE: My large intestine ruptured.

GUPTA: The 22-year-old was a patient at Seattle children's hospital. He took comfort in being a role model for the younger ones and tried to cheer them up with another passion, making music videos.

(SINGING)

GUPTA: This video went viral registering millions of hits. Now his cancer's in remission. Rumble is back on the ice, as freshman playing defense for the Golden Griffins.

RUMBLE: There were a couple points during my life I didn't think I'd make it back on the islet alone division I college hockey.

GUPTA: A win on the ice and in life. Rumble hopes sharing his story helps others to have a positive attitude when those times are tough. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: What an inspiration.

And have you ever thought about what it might have been like to sail on the Titanic? Well, now you can do just that or the next best thing anyway. We take you on an amazing journey.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right, you've seen the movie about it and now you may be actually able to sail on the Titanic. It's the brainchild of an Australian billionaire and he is recreated the ill-fated ship down to every little detail. CNN's Tory Dunnan has details on the new Titanic two.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TROY DUNNAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hollywood has cashed in on it, but the history of the Titanic speaks for itself, the luxury, the size, and the disaster. What was dubbed as unsinkable sunk. Now a new Titanic will sail again.

CLIVE PALMER, BLUE STAR LINE CHAIRMAN: We'll have radar, satellite navigation and air conditioning for everyone.

DUNNAN: Australian tycoon Clive Palmer revealed plans for Titanic two. The route, the menu, even the fashions will be the same from Southampton, New England, to New York. The great granddaughter of the famed unsinkable Molly Brown, a Titanic survivor, sees this as a great tribute.

HELEN BENZINGER, TITANIC II CONSULTANT: You have Guggenheim in the background saying we're dressed in our finest and we'll to go down as gentlemen. That way of thinking is gone. And I think that's one of the things that this is going to bring back is, is and maybe just for five days.

DUNNAN: The vessel sank in 1912 after hitting an iceberg. More than 1,500 people died because there weren't enough lifeboats. The looks will be mostly the same, the grand staircase, smoke rooms and Turkish baths. But there are differences, engines powered by diesel instead of coal, a helicopter pad, and higher bridge to see over the bow, and, of course, enough lifeboats for everybody. Just don't call it unsinkable.

PALMER: Anything could sink if you put a hole in it.

DUNNAN: The superstitious may second-guess Titanic two, but history buffs may see this as a chance to sail back in time.

The company says thousands of people have expressed tickets in buying tickets, some offering to pay up to $1 million. But according to the company the prices have not been set quite yet. At the Titanic memorial in Washington, Tory Dunnan, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: With forced spending cuts the defense department will take the biggest hit. Those startling details straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Of all the government departments hit by spending cuts defense is being hit the hardest. Almost half of the $85 billion is coming out of the Pentagon budget. Chris Lawrence explains how the sword is going to fall on troops and civilians.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wars have been planned inside the tank, this secure room in the Pentagon few get to see. Now it's where military officials are making plans to cut $46 billion from their budget.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Effective immediately, air force flying hours will be cut back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you stop training for a while and you're a combat pilot, then you lose your rating and eventually can't fly at all.

LAWRENCE: Here's what's already happened. The Pentagon warned its 800,000 civilian workers to expect furloughs and instituted a hiring-freeze. It also curtailed building maintenance. The Navy postponed the USS Harry Truman's Deployment to the Persian Gulf and delayed the overhaul of the USS Lincoln. Here's what happens next. The Pentagon will cancel maintenance of 25 ships and nearly 500 aircraft. The army will cut training time for most soldiers. It can lead to a delay of deploying troops to Afghanistan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll have to make a decision somewhere along the line to either extend those already there or send people there that are not ready.

LAWRENCE: And families will have to wait longer for family's funerals at Arlington. Furloughs will mean fewer people to schedule services and dig graves.

Chris Lawrence, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: All right, now, let's move on and talk a bit more about what these cuts mean as a whole. Lawrence Korb is with us. He is a former assistant secretary of defense and he worked with Chuck Hagel in the Reagan administration. He's joining me now from Jerusalem. So you have seen parts of the defense budget before. Do you believe these cuts could endanger this country's readiness overall? LAWRENCE KORB, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: No, it won't. It will weaken it somewhat, but it's not going to endanger it, because even after all the cuts, the defense budget will be back to where in real terms controlling for inflation it was in 2007. I don't remember anybody being that worried.

Nobody likes that you have to cut everything equally, but part of it is the Pentagon's own fault. They assumed it wouldn't happen. They kept spending for the first half of the year, not taking into this account. They have to hit some accounts twice as heard. I heard we're not going to deploy a ship to the Persian Gulf. We only have one now. And we're not going to send one to the pacific. You always have to make those choices.

WHITFIELD: There will be modifications but when people hear that, they sometimes think our country will be made more vulnerable. Would that be the case with these kinds of cuts?

KORB: Absolutely not. We're still spending, even if you take all these cuts, more than the next 14 nations in the world combined, most of whom are our allies. This idea of saying we'll be a second rate power -- compared to whom? The Chinese budget is about one-third of what our budget is, and people are concerned about them.

And here's the thing. The Pentagon budget has grown higher than at any time since World War II by the time Obama came into office. You have for the first time a separate budget for war funding. So people say this is going to hurt with the troops. No you won't. You've got a separate budget for that. And the whole idea about if you don't fly -- I used to fly for the Navy. That's really overstating it.

WHITFIELD: So you're being reassuring to a lot of people. You say because there was so much excessive spending, if ever there was a time to cut back on the defense department, now is actually the optimal time.

KORB: Right. If you cut the whole sequestration, you'll bring it back to the 2007 levels. And compared to what we did after Korea Vietnam, and the cold war, it's not nearly so bad. I worked for President Reagan. In his second administration we cut defense spending in real terms over four years 10 percent. This is a seven percent cut over 10 years. We don't want sequestration to happen. It's a dumb way, but this crying wolf I think is going to come back and bite them if in fact we have to live with them and the world doesn't end.

WHITFIELD: Quickly, Chuck Hagel getting through confirmation, you once worked with him. Are you happy with his pick and his potential leadership?

KORB: I am very pleased. He's a military veteran, Purple Heart winner. He's been elected to the Senate twice. He saved the USO, and he's very successful in business. You look at his 23 predecessors in line, none of them had that total experience. Some had one or the other. No, I think he'll be a terrific secretary. WHITFIELD: Thank you very much for you time.

KORB: Thank you for having me.

WHITFIELD: Hard to believe because it's cold outside, but Spring break is just around the corner and we've got you covered when it comes to fun and affordable locations. We'll show you how you can get a view like this for less than $250 a night.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: OK. I get geared up. Spring break just a few weeks away. There are lots of great spots for a spring vacation, but finding an affordable place, that's not always so easy. I talked to Travel and Leisure's director about the best spring break deals.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Let's begin with Puerto Rico. These kids are lucky to go on spring break to Puerto Rico?

NILOU MOTAMED, FEATURES DIRECTOR, TRAVEL AND LEISURE: Indeed. I was on my way to Dominica. One place to go is La Concha. They have spared no expense spend $220 million to renovate the hotel. They kept a lot of the details including cool shell-shaped building that the restaurant by the pool is in. They're having a great deal called my Puerto Rico experience that's under $250 a night which is a great value in Puerto Rico, especially during the spring holidays.

WHITFIELD: From the beach to the mountains, let's to go to Jackson Hole.

MOTAMED: The Teton Mountain lodge is great place to stay because it's so accessible to everything you want to do, which is lots of skiing. Speaking of skiing, they have the best views in the entire area. On the top of their roof, they have a 24-person hot tub. I'm just saying, at your own risk. They're offering a great package called winter 20, 30, 40. You get a lot of perks for under $225 a night.

WHITFIELD: Then Spring break, you don't think about Washington, D.C., but you think people need to think again.

MOTAMED: Yes, especially with cherry blossom season. It's a match made in heaven. If you're thinking about going to the Capitol, I think you should definitely check out the liaison capitol. They give you a picnic basket that has chocolate and cherry cookies in it. That's very, very thorough. They include two metro passes so you can get around town and to go to all the free museums in D.C., and it's under $200 a night.

WHITFIELD: That's a bargain.

MOTAMED: I love that. You just have to show up.

WHITFIELD: I like it. Nilou Motamed, thanks so much. MOTAMED: Thank you, Fredricka.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Time to start booking those flights, getting those plans going. For more information on spring break deals check out this month's Travel and Leisure magazine.

All right, lots of college graduates can't find work that matches their level of education. Other skilled employees have lost high- paying jobs and have been forced to find work that pays much less. Tom Foreman is showing how underemployment is making our American journey much harder.

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TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Every day on the busy streets of New York, Kellock Irvin is hunting. When he received his college degree last year, he moved to the West Coast and thought finding a job in marketing was the next logical step.

KELLOCK IRVIN, UNEMPLOYED GRADUATE: Not that it would be easy, but it would be something that almost eight months since graduating I'm still struggling with.

FOREMAN: He's not alone. When President Obama took office, 134 million Americans were working in non-farmed jobs. Today after massive losses and a slow recovery we're only 1.2 million jobs better off, and many pay less than those that were lost. A recent study by the Center for College Affordability found almost half of college graduates are now in jobs that do not require four-year degrees, things like janitorial services, taxi driving, and retail sales.

RICHARD VEDDER, OHIO UNIVERSITY: Let's say each one of them were making $20,000 more a year income, which is quite plausible, we're talking about $400 billion a year in lost wages.

FOREMAN: Numbers like that make some economic analysts argue that underemployment may be every bit as damaging to the economy as unemployment. And Calvin Irvin is caught in the middle of it all. For now, he's taking a freelance job as a photographer and taking part-time job with moving companies.

IRVIN: That can only support me so long before I need to head home.

FOREMAN: He might be the next one moving back home.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

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WHITFIELD: And a show dog dies days after the Westminster dog show. A vet suspected poisoning. The dog's owner suspects foul play. We'll have that straight ahead next hour.

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