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Senators Work On Details Of Financial Rescue Bill Before Tonight's Vote; Announce Tax Breaks For Individuals, Small Business; Regulations For Banking System

Aired October 01, 2008 - 14:00   ET


Hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips live from the CNN headquarters in Atlanta, and you are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Well, if you like to bailout before the Senate leaders hope you will really like it now, and if you don't, they hope you will dislike it less. It is all about the votes as the Senate takes up the new version of the banking system rescue package that flopped in the House Monday. It is still a $7 00-billion buyout of bad investments from gasping institutions, but this one more than doubles the cap on government-insured bank deposits; it renews tax incentives for investments in renewable energies and it shields more than 20 million households from the alternative minimum tax.

Vote is planned tonight and the two main presidential candidates and as well as Democratic VP candidate Joe Biden plan to be there. If the measure passes, we are hearing the House expects to vote Friday.

So will the add-ons add to the yes votes? Kate Bolduan is on the story, on the Hill.

Kate, you just joined us a few moments ago with word that the House will take up the bailout bill again on Friday. Aren't the members getting ahead of themselves a bit?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: Maybe a bit, but not too much, because they really do need to look ahead as we have been hearing and talking about all day, Kyra.

Senate leaders across the board, they believe and expect to pass this bill with broad bipartisan support they need to push this through. So the House does need to plan for this vote as we have now talked about, they do plan - expect to take it up Friday, maybe late morning, mid-afternoon. And what we have going on here right now, Kyra, is that Senate leaders do believe and hope at least that they have really struck that delicate balance of keeping the main properties of the bill -- the bill that failed in the House - but adding just enough of those sweeteners, that you mentioned early on, to get the votes that they need to push this not only through the Senate, but to gain support in the House. And that is where the big question is.

PHILLIPS: All right. We will be tracking it with you all the way, Kate. Thank you. >

As we mentioned, the Senate plan would more than double the cap on bank deposits backed by the FDIC. And later this hour CNN Personal Finance Editor Gerri Willis will tell us what that would mean for you, your bank, and the money.

Another new measure takes on the mortgage mess from a different angle and this one takes effect today. It sets up a $300 billion fund to help struggling homeowners and it opens up possible lines of credit from the Treasury for mortgage lenders Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Now on the downside, none of the new money is likely to anywhere for at least 60 days.

Now, ask the White House, the Treasury, the Fed about the need to act fast and they'll say the U.S. credit system, the lifeblood of the world's biggest economy cannot afford delays, but those same people said very different things just months ago, or even weeks ago. CNN's Christine Romans takes a look back.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is about as dire as a president can get on the economy.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are choosing between inaction and the real prospect of economic hardship for millions of American.

ROMANS: This, from an administration that for months said the economy was vibrant, the financial system strong. The president didn't acknowledge, quote, "storm clouds" until last December, by then it was raining.

BUSH: There are definitely storm clouds and concerns, but the underpinning is good. We will work our way through this period.

ROMANS: Then with each disastrous job report or capital market crisis, an upbeat assessment. In January:

BUSH: Our economy is flexible. It is resilient.

ROMANS: In February, president surprised by spiking gas prices.

BUSH: What did you say? You are predicting $4 a gallon gas?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A round number.

BUSH: That is interesting, because I have not heard that.

ROMANS: In March, Bear Stearns was in a death spiral and the Fed brokered is sale.

BUSH: We are in challenging times but another thing is for certain, that we have taken strong and decisive action.

HENRY PAULSON, SECRETARY, U.S. TREASURY DEPT.: Our financial institutions are strong. Our investment banks are strong, our banks are strong. They will be strong for many, many years.

ROMANS: In July, IndyMac Bank failed.

BUSH I believe we will come through this challenge stronger than ever before.

ROMANS: The three trying to sell this $700-billion rescue didn't see it coming. The Treasury Secretary told NPR last year of the global economy.

PAULSON: It is as strong as I have seen it in any time during my business career.

ROMANS: And again, last October.

PAULSON: This is happening against the backdrop of an economy that which in other respects is very solid. So far, there is very little evidence that is bleeding over into other areas.

ROMANS: As the subprime crises devolved last year, the Fed sheet:

BEN BERNANKE, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL RESERVE: We do not expect significant spillovers from the subprime market to the rest of the economy or the financial system.

ROMANS: And now?

BERNANKE: This plan is an emergency plan to put out a fire to solve a serious crises which has real Main Street implications.

ROMANS (on camera): Slowly, over the last 10 or 11 months the administration has been acknowledging the problem, always with a caveat, that the underlying system is vibrant and flexible and strong.

It is all about confidence. The administration cannot very well set off a panic by talking down the economy, but many in hindsight now say if they didn't see it coming, how can they lead us out? Christine Romans, CNN, New York.


PHILLIPS: Let's get straight to Wall Street to see how the investors are reacting to the developments on the bailout bill. Susan Lisovicz is at the New York Stock Exchange with a look at how the credit crunch is affecting the auto makers.

Hi, Susan.

LISOVICZ: Yes, hi, Kyra.

This vote is coming, by the way, after the closing bell. I think maybe lawmakers have also learned something. If you are going to give something unexpected, don't do it during the trading session, because it does not react well. The Dow, of course, posting its biggest point loss ever after the House rejected the bill. Yesterday we had the big bounce back. Today, well, it is more cautious.

New numbers from the nation's auto makers show that, well, it just shows the problems that exist in the credit markets. Ford sales fell more than 30 percent in September making the company's worst month of the year. Dealers across the country say that their customers are having a hard time qualifying for loans. Not only are lenders tightening their standards, but several lawmakers' finance arms have discontinued leasing. Ford shares are tumbling 12 percent.

Also, big action in General Electric; right after we were through talking in the last half hour, shares of GE were temporarily halted. This is a Dow 30 stock. It has been in the Dow ever since the Dow came into being in the late 1800s. GE saw its shares tumble to a near 52-week low earlier today. They have lost about a third of their value this year after an analyst lowered his profit estimate for this year and next. But the company announcing minutes ago that it will offer at least $12 billion of common stock to the public. And it has reached agreements in principle to sell $3 billion of preferred stock to someone we have all heard of, Warren Buffett.

Buffett, himself, says that he is confident that GE will continue to be successful in the years to come. Confidence is what has been lacking in this market, the stock market and the credit markets, and that is why we are seeing some of the extraordinary moves that we have been seeing in recent weeks.

Kyra, in the meantime, we are seeing the markets pare most of their losses. The Dow, right now, down 53 points, or half a percent and the Nasdaq is down about 1 percent. We thought it was going to be a quiet session, Kyra. Wrong, again.

PHILLIPS: Warren Buffett, our economy's sugar daddy, you know. He's putting money into Goldman Sachs and now he's putting in more money. You wonder how much he will continue to give.

LISOVICZ: You know what he says, one of the things - and I think this has made him very rich. He says be greedy when others are fearful, and be fearful when others are greedy. You want to buy on the dip, and sell on the high. It has made him a very rich man. In fact, the world's richest, I believe.

PHILLIPS: Isn't that the truth. Susan, thanks so much.

LISOVICZ: You're welcome.

PHILLIPS: It has been a rough year for the greenback. Will the bailout give it a boost? We are going to ask Paul La Monica, of CNN

And it is an event that could help sway undecided voters. Sarah Palin and Joe Biden face off in their only vice presidential debate. We will get a live preview from St. Louis.


PHILLIPS: Another red letter day in the race for the White House. Tomorrow night Joe Biden and Sarah Palin take to the stage in St. Louis in their first and only vice presidential debate. Our Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider joins us now from St. Louis.

Bill, what are the expectations for each candidate?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, if you look at the conventional wisdom along the pundits and the talking heads, the expectations of Joe Biden are sky high. He is an old pro and been around Washington a long time. Sarah Palin, not so high. She is a new face in national politics. Hasn't been around very much, people wondering is she up to the job.

But here is something else, we asked the voters two weeks ago, who do you think will do a better job in the vice presidential debate, Biden or Palin? And the result was very, very close; 48 percent said Joe Biden; 46 percent said Sarah Palin. So how about that? Not a big difference.

PHILLIPS: Should we even be surprised that the poll is that close?

SCHNEIDER: Well, even though Biden is a known figure and a Washington insider, he is not that well known to voters around the country. He did run for president twice, once this year, but he didn't get very far, once back in 1988, 20 years ago. He didn't get very far then either. So he is a senator from a fairly small state, Delaware, and a major figure in Washington, but not a well-known figure around the country.

PHILLIPS: All right. Does the VP candidate historically matter, Bill, when you put this all in perspective?

SCHNEIDER: Actually, not so much. The last time you could show that a vice presidential candidate made a critical difference was way back in 1960 when Lyndon Johnson helped John Kennedy carry Texas. Since then, not made a lot of difference. A lot of people remember the vice presidential debate in 1988 when the democratic nominee Lloyd Benson made that cutting remark about Dan Quayle, you are no Jack Kennedy, and that was supposed to have just blown Quayle away. Well, you know what, Quayle got elected, because people were not voting for vice president, they were voting for president.

PHILLIPS: All right. Bill Schneider, thank you so much.

Meanwhile, I'm getting word, Bill, as you are talking. We are going to go straight to Cap Hill. Mitch McConnell is speaking right now. You know it is all about the votes as the Senate takes up a new version of the banking system. Actually, that is not Mitch McConnell, he just stepped away from the mic. So, let's listen to Senator Gregg right now.


SEN. JUDD GREGG, (R) NEW HAMPSHIRE: ... Protection for taxpayers in here, too. Secondly, people will not be able to game the system. They will not be golden parachutes. There will not be high compensation in the sense that it will get special tax treatment, in fact, it will get negative tax treatment. So we have addressed the high compensation golden parachute area.

Thirdly, we want to make sure that people stay in their homes. And we will end up with a fair amount of mortgage paper, the federal government, and we have structured this agreement so we are going to work very hard to make sure that the foreclosures do not occur where people can pay a reasonable price to maintain their mortgage and stay in their home. And this is very logical that we can do it, because we are going to be buying these mortgages and these assets at 20 percent or 30 percent below their face market value. So we can restructure to keep people in their homes.

And fourthly, very strict and transparent oversight of everything that happens here so that the American public, and the American taxpayers and the investment community will know what is happening. So that we're sure that the decisions that are made can be properly vetted.

SEN. JON KYL, (R) ARIZONA: I am going to address briefly what has changed since the beginning of the week that gives us optimism that it will come to a fruitful conclusion by the end of the week.

First of all, as a result of the House action, there were a lot of communications with folks to find out what would be necessary to get more House members to vote for the package. And there were a couple of suggestions that were pretty prominent.

One of which has been addressed by Chris Cox, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which refines how the mark-to- market rules are applied in a way that should substantially help, according to a lot of the folks that we have talked to. And that is important to a lot of the House members. In addition to which, a lot of those folks were proposing that we needed to increase the amount of FDIC insured accounts, from $100,000 accounts to get it up to $250,000. And that is the change that is in the legislation that we will be voting on tonight.

In addition, of course, to adding it, again, to the package that overwhelmingly supported the Senate 93-2, extending various tax provisions for the benefit of both businesses and individual Americans, especially related to the AMT.

And the other major thing that has happened since the beginning of the week is a growing realization by folks throughout the country that not only is this situation a lot more serious than they thought. The realization that came about when they saw about 10 percent of the stock holdings wiped out with one day of trading on Wall Street, but also, the various entities - the various organizations in our communities that we have been visiting with. Like our auto dealers and home builders and realtors and bankers and chambers of commerce, and all of the folks involved in commerce in our states whom we have been visiting with now have almost uniformly come back to say, we have to get this done, because we are feeling the tightening of credit in our own communities.

And when that begins to happen, when real folks, in real communities begin to feel the tightening of the credit so that business can't be done, then you know that there is going to be a change in public opinion.

And so we are confident that the events that have transpired since the beginning of the week will make it easier for the legislation to pass both the Senate and the House. And, frankly, begin to develop the consensus that we need in order to develop the confidence in our economy in the weeks to come.


PHILLIPS: All right. We were listening to various leaders there within the GOP. Senators Judd Gregg, also Jon Kyl. As you know, right now, the Senate is taking up a new version of the banking system rescue package that flopped Monday. A couple of major changes being made; they were discussing that. You, of course, can go to for more on those details.

Now, if this measure passes possibly the House could vote on Friday. So we are following it. We will keep you posted obviously as it develops throughout the day.

Now, we have not seen this before, Bill Clinton on the campaign trail for Barack Obama. Apparently the former president is stumping for the Democratic nominee today in Florida and CNN's John Zarrella joins us now from Fort Pierce to kind of give us a feel for what everybody is saying and how it's going to go.

Hey, John.


Well, the band playing behind me is called Independently Poor, so probably appropriate in this particular day and time. They are also independently loud, I can tell you that.

Now, yes, Bill Clinton getting out on the campaign trail today for Barack Obama. And this, Florida, really the first stop of that campaign. So the Democrats beginning the full-court press. He is expected here at about 2:45 p.m.

And you can see the size of the crowd that is gathered. There are several thousand people here and in fact, one local told me that Bill Clinton coming here is the biggest thing that Fort Pierce has ever seen.

Before he gets here, he is in Orlando and has been in Orlando. He was at the University of Central Florida, also speaking there. And, in fact, the crowd was so large there, that they had to change the venue and move it to a larger arena. Now, of course, this whole thing is being billed as a rally to get people to register to vote, because the deadline in Florida is October 6th, so that is what the president is here pushing. But he also talked about Barack Obama and in glowing terms and he asked the audience to support the financial bailout package.


BILL CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All across America anything that Congress does this week is going to be unpopular, but here is why you ought to be for action, it has nothing to do with bailing out Wall Street. The Wall Street that we knew is gone. It vanished in two months. There is not a single free standing investment bank left on Wall Street. The last two, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley become bank holding companies which means they are going to be regulated and they will never again be able to make some of the high-risk investments that got us into the trouble.

But that is not the issue. Here's the problem, when people lose confidence in the financial system, they lose confidence in all of it.


ZARRELLA: Well, the crowds are another indication of the popularity of the former president who carried Florida in 1996. And some of the latest polls out show that Barack Obama actually leading now in the state of Florida, which is, of course, considered a pivotal battleground state.

John McCain won the Florida primary here with a great deal of help and support from Florida's popular Republican Governor Charlie Crist. And it may well be that John McCain is going to need Charlie Crist to get out there and start stumping for him in a big way. Perhaps in a way to stem what appears to be a growing tide for Barack Obama here in Florida - Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. John Zarrella getting ready to party there with the former president. We will check in with you to see how the rally goes.

Meanwhile, the violence is down but the war appears to be far from over. Thousands more of U.S. troops get their marching orders for Iraq.

The FDIC, can it really protect your money during these turbulent times? Personal Finance Editor Gerri Willis will join us to talk about this independent agency created by Congress.


PHILLIPS: New orders for some 26,000 American troops that are headed to Iraq next year. This is happening as violence has fallen sharply in recent weeks. CNN's Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon with the details.

Why the numbers, Jamie?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, six Army brigades and a National Guard unit will be deployed to Iraq next summer. The move announced by the Pentagon essentially allows the U.S. to maintain its current force levels in Iraq. And, of course, the ramifications of that is that there won't be any new troops freed up for Afghanistan any time soon.

The Pentagon still considers progress in Iraq fragile and reversible, but meanwhile the situation in Afghanistan continues to get worse. The commander of troops there, the NATO commander and U.S. Commander General David McKiernan told reporters here at the Pentagon he needs more than 10,000 additional troops as quickly as possible.


GEN. DAVID MCKIERNAN, U.S. COMMANDER, AFGHANISTAN: I won't say that things are all on the right track, especially in the south and the east. So, I think we are in a tough fight. So that, the idea that it might get worse before it gets better is certainly a possibility


MCINTYRE: Might get worse before it gets better, says General McKiernan. Meanwhile he did get some good news today from NATO defense ministers, in Brussels, they have approved a plan to buy some C-17 transport planes and make them available for the mission in Afghanistan. It is not just troops they need in after Afghanistan, but they also need transport and they also need a lot of support things as well.

But again, a warning from the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan that the violence is likely to go up there, as the Pentagon keeps a very wary eye on the situation in Iraq, by maintaining the current troop levels there, at least through the first half of next year - Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Jamie McIntyre from the Pentagon. Thanks, Jamie.

Is it the right combination for those troubling economic times? Will it be the mattress of the new decade? We will tell you about it straight ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.


PHILLIPS: It's 2:29 Eastern Time and here are some of the stories we are working on in the CNN NEWSROOM. The markets way down Monday, but it made a recovery Tuesday, and reflects a cautious mood today. The Dow industrials down 15 points.

Former President Bill Clinton handling some of the politicking for Barack Obama today. He's speaking in at rallies in Florida.

Obama will be voting tonight on the Senate's version of the bailout bill along with fellow Senators Joe Biden and John McCain.

New, yes? But improved. That's up to the senators who plan to vote tonight on a bigger version of the financial rescue package that failed in the House on Monday. Now, this one includes a renewal of tax incentives for renewable energy.

Also, it offers middle-class taxpayers a break from the alternative minimum tax and the so-called wealth tax. But that's not all. It would make insurance companies offer mental health coverage on par with other coverage. Now, that's a battle Democrats have waged for years. It was thrown in there.

It also would raise the cap on government-insured bank deposits from $100,000 to $250,000. Now that newer and higher cap may be a win-win-win proposition. Good for banks, good for bank customers, popular with politicians. So, let's focus on you, your money. And so we turn to personal finance editor Gerri Willis.

Gerri, will greater protection for these bank accounts really make a difference?

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Well, listen. You know, the good news is that nobody's ever lost a penny in an FDIC insured account. And that's before the change. With the FDIC stands behind consumer deposits of member institutions. You can find out what your coverage is at

The insurance coverage applies to consumers with the following limits right now. $100,000 for individual accounts. That would double -- more than double to $250,000 under the bill. $200,000 for joint accounts, $250,000 for retirement accounts. Now as I said the Congress is weighing -- you know, raising those limits --

PHILLIPS: Gerri, hold that thought and stay with me for a minute.

We're going to go to Harry Reid on the Hill, talking about what they are working on right now.

Let's take a listen.


SEN. HARRY REID, (D) MAJORITY LEADER: ... The story, I told one the Senate floor today, about a friend of mine who has a car dealerships in Las Vegas. He has also dealerships in Utah and in Arizona. He called and said, Harry, I can't buy cars. My inventory has been low. I can't buy cars. No one will loan money to me. This is someone that's been in business for 50 years. And then he said, the few cars we have to sell, people buy them and they can't get a loan.

Well, that is only going to get worse. So, this is something that is important. Inaction is not an option we have. Is the program that we've set up perfect? Of course not. But it's going to work and help. This is not a bailout for Wall Street. It's a bailout for our country. You know, the questions that we should ask, does this bill strengthen America? And it does. It's not something that affects only one part of New York City.

We can't let the consumer finance go down. We can't have car loans that don't exist. We have to have car leases, we have to have home equity loans, we have to have people that can get a credit card. That's what this is all about. Now, we all know that this legislation improves upon the legislation we got from the White House a couple of weeks ago. Because we've improved transparency. We've certainly set some strict standards for oversight. And we've taken care of executive compensation to a significant degree. And we also are going to help homeowners. We have increased the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation coverage -- this is important. Let's say you're a small bank in rural Nevada. And you've struggled -- you and your wife have struggled and you've saved money and you have $120,000 in this little rural bank.

Let's see now, with all of the banks going broke, I'm going to Las Vegas. I'm going to put it in Wells Fargo. I'm not going to take a chance. That's what this raising FDIC is all about. So, small community banks don't have to be afraid of people taking their deposits out, taking them to go into the big city.

Now, the so-called extenders legislation. Gee, that's good legislation. We need economic stimulus and that's what we have here. The renewable tax credits will create tens of thousands of jobs right away. The business tax deductions, the extension of the tax credits there. We have two years for the first time in a long time. Mental health parity, county payments.

This is really significantly important legislation. It will lower taxes with EMT, the sales tax deduction we have there. It will help for teachers. So I'm very satisfied that what we've done is the right thing. And I am confident it will get a good strong bipartisan vote here in the Senate.

QUESTION (OFF-MIKE)... trying to jam the House here with adding the Senate tax extension bill. Can you comment on the reaction (OFF- MIKE) has been?

REID: Well, you know, all I'm trying to do is get this thing passed. I'm not trying to jam anyone with anything.

The way that the Constitution was set up, that we have three equal branches of government. The equality in the Legislative branch of government is sometimes difficult to come by. Because we're two different bodies with different rules and regulations. So I've never had a better understanding or relationship with anyone than I have with Speaker Pelosi and Leader Hoyer. We work very closely together. We'll continue to do this.

All during yesterday, we had a number of conversations. So, my job is not to get things passed in the House, my job is to get things passed in the Senate. And I've done what I thought was the best way to get something passed in the Senate and do it quickly. We don't have a lot of leeway on time. One of the individuals in the caucus today talked about a major insurance company. A major insurance company, one with a name that everyone knows that's on the verge of going bankrupt.

That's what this is all about. We don't are the leisure of waiting for -- let's wait two or three days. Let's get something, let's file cloture and wait for the 30 hours ripens and then we'll be on the bill and then we'll have a few amendments. The leisure is gone. We have to do something -- Yes.

PHILLIPS: And they're trying to do something. I mean, how about that last shot there? Scotty, can you take it back? Sort of ironic, the dark cloud hanging over the Capitol. Let's hope that's no indication about what's going to happen there on the Hill, as the vote is planned tonight. Hopefully the Senate will be able to come to some understanding.

We also understand that the main presidential candidates, as well as Democratic V.P. Joe Biden will be there to vote, as well. And then if the measure does pass, we are hearing that the House is expected to vote on Friday. So, let's all keep our fingers crossed that something happens.

Meanwhile, we asked you whether you have confidence in the nation's leaders, as all of this is going on. Here's what Carol writes:

"You ask if we are confident in Congress, I would have to say that in this past week they have shown how child-like they are and made me ask why are they in office. No I am not."

And Andrea, she writes, "I do not have much confidence in our leaders right now. In short, they are doing a poor job of getting support by failing to explain the problems everyday people will face if this bailout fails."

And G.L Rose write, "There has to be better and smarter alternatives than what is in the current bailout plan. I have no confidence in the current plan, our administration's proposal or the CEO's on Wall Street. I'm also mad as Hell if you haven't noticed, a will vent my frustration in November, when I vote.

Thanks all of you for your e-mails. Now, even if you managed to hold on to some dollars, well, they're not what they used to be. Will a bailout plan work? Let's get straight back to finance editor Gerri Willis.

Sorry about that, Gerri. We had to break away from you to take it live to Cap Hill. Yes. And you know, a lot of people are wondering when you hear all this jargon and the back and forth of what's in and what's out, people right now want to know, what about the 401(k)? What about filling up my gas tank? What about my job that I'm losing?

What does it mean?

WILLIS: What does it mean? Well, you know, look. You've got to protect yourself in a market like this. That's absolutely the case. And one of the things that's most important to people is, can I have access to the money I have right now in the bank. Is my bank safe? And the answer is yes. Look, even if Congress doesn't make a change, there are protections in place for people who have money in bank accounts. PHILLIPS: All right. I missed the last part about what you just said, Gerri, forgive me. So I'm going to ask you one more question hoping that I got to last part, because we've a lot things changing obviously in the newscast as we went to Cap Hill.

WILLIS: I understand.

PHILLIPS: When you look at the changes that are being made right now, and we heard Harry Reid talk about some of the things that they added in and some of the things that were deleted. When you look at what flopped on Monday, and what the Senate is looking at now, does this look better, worse, still don't really know?

WILLIS: Well, look. You know, I think the main thing is they've got to take action. I think that's where the pressure point is right now. And the fact is, one of the things that's not made clear right now is the bill they're talking about right now will probably be more expensive than the one they were talking about before. Because they've added in a lot of things.

But they did it to get support for this bill. And I think that's the main thing that has to happen. The main things they were going to do which is to buy up these toxic loans that are held by banks, that's going to happen. That would continue to happen. So, the main solutions that the administration has recommended, those are still in place. And hopefully, they would work if they were used.

PHILLIPS: Gerri Willis. Thank you very much. And thanks for being patient with me.

WILLIS: My pleasure. No problem.

PHILLIPS: All right. Let's get to's Paul La Monica. He came out with a column today, as all of this has been going back and forth on the Hill. You know what's interesting that you pointed out, Paul:? Is that even in all of this, this economic crisis, the dollar is stronger in this economic mess?

PAUL LA MONICA, CNNMONEY.COM: Yes. It's very interesting. The dollar rallied against the Euro on Monday, even when stocks plummeted. It was up yesterday when stocks rebounded. And today, which is a little bit more of a flat day, we're seeing the dollar up again. And what is encouraging there, although it's a bit of bad news for the rest of the world, people that I am talking to get the sense that despite all of our problems the U.S. is still seen as somewhat of a safe haven, while Europe is really starting to feel the pain of this credit crunch.

PHILLIPS: So, what do you think? Could this help inflation?

LA MONICA: The good news there is, yes. It could help reduce some of the inflation pressures that really hit a lot of the Americans' pocketbooks in the year.

We've already seen oil prices come down. Some people I've talked to said that a stronger dollar could help lead to maybe $80 oil in the next few months. It remains to be seen whether or not that happens. But a stronger dollar should lead to some reduced inflation pressures for oil in particular.

PHILLIPS: Paul La Monica, Thanks, Paul.

LA MONICA: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: Well, with so many people worried about the financial footing of their banks, the sales of safes are going up. Buyers say they're not just putting treasured photos, documents and jewelry inside. Well, they're also putting in gold and cash. California store owners are saying that the fear is putting sending safe sales off of the charts. And that is before Monday's failed bailout vote.

Well, what happens when you die? It's a question that affects all of us. You're going to hear from an expert and someone else who went to the other side and came back.


PHILLIPS: Well, they see a bright light, or a tunnel, or are greeted by the faces of long deceased relatives. That's how a lot of people have described their near-death experiences. And increasingly scientists are studying the phenomenon even more. Among them Dr. Sam Parnia, at the University of South Hampton, in London. He joins us from New York. He wrote the book, "What Happens When We Die?" And Michaela Roser, in Los Angeles, was left in a coma for 14 days after a serious car accident. She's a near-death survivor.

Good to see you both.

Great, thank you for having us.

PHILLIPS: Well, Michaela I want to start with you. You were 17 years old. Take me back to that car accident that you were in and what you remember.

MICHAELA ROSER, NEAR-DEATH SURVIVOR: I was sleeping during the car accident, so I don't actually remember the accident, itself. But, we were hit from behind and I was in a coma, or I was out right away. The first thing I remember was being on a life light. I felt the air and I opened my eyes and there was a helicopter and I was on a gurney being put on the helicopter. I thought I was just dreaming and then I went back to sleep.

PHILLIPS: And so 14 days when you were in the coma, I was reading that this is what you wrote, "I was capable of going out of my body, my spiritual self watched as friends and family waited to see if I would make it through. I was at peace, engulfed by the love. Never had I felt so complete or connected to all that is.

So you're saying, you actually remember your spirit coming out of the body and going from room to room in the hospital and approaching your relatives who were there?

ROSER: Yes. I had control over -- outside of my body, I had control of going into my body, coming back out of my body, going into different rooms and seeing what was going on. I overheard a conversation that my parents had with both of my grandmothers in the cafeteria downstairs when I was upstairs in the ICU unit.

PHILLIPS: So, Dr. Parnia, what does this tell us about life after death? I mean, everybody wants to know, is this it? What happens when I die? Do I just disappear, or do I continue?

DR. SAM PARNIA, WEILL CORNELL MEDICAL CENTER: Well, one of the most interesting aspects you see is that although say 50 or 100 years ago, when people died, when their hearts stopped, which is how we define death. When people stop breathing, their heart stops and their brain shuts down. There was nothing we could do.

However, because of progress in science now, we can bring a proportion of people back to life. And what we've come to understand is that death is not a moment, it's really a process that begins with the heart stopping. But, it continues over a period of minutes, tens of minutes, maybe even over an hour of time before it becomes unreversible. But, in the early phase, we can bring people back to life.

What we've come to understand is that at least 10 to 20 percent of people who are basically, for all intents and purposes dead, have some kind of activity of the mind and consciousness. And although a lot of what they describe is is a typical near-death experience, it's very subjective. They may describe feeling very peaceful, seeing a tunnel, seeing a bright light, seeing deceased relatives, a portion of them will come back to tell us amazing details of what was really happening to them down below.

So, they'll tell us that they were able to watch doctors and nurses working on them, reviving them. And when you talk to doctors and nurses, what they say is astonishingly correct. The only thing that's really amazing about this though, is that at that time, all our studies show the brain is no longer working they're essentially going through death.

So, how can the mind and consciousness be working? And is it simply an illusion, or is it real? Can people really see what's going on to them? And that's what we're trying to understand through a big multi-census study, both in the U.K. and here in the U.S.

PHILLIPS: So you haven't been able to really define it yet? Have you something in your research though, that we haven't found before through studies?

PARNIA: Well, what we have found so far through research basically is that a people who go through death, for a majority the of people, the dying process is a very pleasant experience. Put aside people who've had let's say, traumatic suicide or something like that. And what they describe is a typical near-death experience, where they feel peaceful, see a tunnel, see a light. Maybe even have an instantaneous panoramic review of their lives. But it's very pleasant. But, what we have to try to understand which hasn't yet been verified through big studies, is are the claims that people can see and hear, these so-called outer body experiences, are they real or are they simply an illusion?

And the way we're trying to test this is that we have hidden images that we've placed in the resuscitation areas in hospitals that are only visible from the ceiling. So if somebody like Michaela comes back and says that they could watch doctors and nurses, we want to know, could they also see those pictures? And if we get 300 people who all come back and they correctly identify those pictures that could only be seen from the ceiling, then that means that this experience must be real. If they don't, then we can conclude that it's probably just an illusion and nothing real.

PHILLIPS: Wow. Well, it's interesting stuff. "Time" magazine came out with an incredible article. That's how we found you both.

Michaela, I know you're living your life quite differently now since you've had that experience.

And Dr. Parnia, we'll be following your research.

Thank you both for your time.

PARNIA: Thank you very much.

ROSER: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: Well, some drivers in the southeast having better luck gassing up. Others are still searching or stalled in long lines. What's the deal? And where's the gas?



REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The old fashioned ice box is reborn. It's keeping truck drivers cool while they sleep without the noise and pollution of engine idling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's old technology as new. Actually some people call it high-tech ice.

WOLF: The ice forms inside this black box made by the trucking equipment company Webasto.

JOHN THOMAS, WEBASTO: We have a graphite matrix inside of the unit, and water. And what happens is we run refrigerant through that. As the truck is going down the road, the refrigerant is running through that and freezing the ice box.

WOLF: When the truck is stopped for the night, ice cold air is blown into the cab. The tiny bit of power needed comes from the truck's battery. No need to idle.

THOMAS: It's estimated that 5 billion gallons of fuel every year are used for idling trucks.

WOLF: Webasto says that every gallon of fuel burned sends 19 pounds of carbon dioxide up the exhaust pipe, not to mention chemicals that cause smog.

Webasto recently took its technology, called blue cool, to truck stops across the country. And predictably, high fuel prices sparked a lot of interest.

MO NDOW, SMALL FLEET OWNER: Typically it could cost you up to $1,000 a year for truck just idling.

WOLF: Now he, and a lot of truckers, are considering putting their comfort on ice.

Reynolds Wolf, CNN.



PHILLIPS: Straight to Fort Pierce, Florida. Former President Bill Clinton showing his support for Barack Obama. Quite a big rally. Let's listen in.


WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... I want to tell you -- you know at a rally like this, it is tempting, especially as hot as it is, and I don't have far to go to turn you up -- it is tempting just that one applause line after another. But here is what I want to do. This election is too important. You've seen what is going on in New York where we live. All this turmoil in the stock market, all this turmoil in the housing situation, now banks all over America in trouble. So here is what I want to tell you today what I want you to say between now and Election Day to people who are not at this rally, because I want you to leave here and go out to gather up some more votes. Will you do that?


CLINTON: I know something about this job. And one of the things I know is that every election, you heard the sheriff describing what it was like in 1992, in every election the American people don't just vote for somebody, they define the job for the next four years. To pick the right person for the job you've got to know what the job is. You wouldn't pick the best preacher to be the center on the basketball team. But the center on the basketball team might or might not be the best preacher.

So what is the next president supposed to do? We have to rebuild the American dream. You've got declining incomes, exploding costs, no new jobs, the cost of gasoline, utilities, food going through the roof, home mortgages in trouble, home values going down, America in trouble around the world and this financial system in a total mess. So we've got to rebuild the American dream, repair the finance system and restore America's leadership in the world. That is the job of the next president of the United States.


Now, here are the reasons that I believe Barack Obama is the man for the job. No. 1, he's got the right philosophy. He knows America is built from the ground up, not from the top down.


No. 2, he's got the right ideas. His policies on the economy, on making us energy independent, on providing affordable health care to all Americans, on concentrating the tax relief on the middle class and the working Americans who need it instead of on the wealthiest Americans who have gotten us in the ditch in the first place -- not because he wants a class war, but because America is built from the bottom up, not from the top down.


He also has a better understanding of these very complicated economic problems and better advisers. And I'll just tell you something, this is -- you know how serious this is, nobody else would ever talk about something like this in a campaign speech, but here is one reason you ought to be for Obama. So this thing happens, right? And nothing like this -- this money thing has happened in a long time in America. So what did he do? First thing he did was to talk to his own advisers, a lot of really bright young people, many of them worked for me. Then he called all of the senior people who worked for me, then he called a bunch of other people. And you know what he said to them? First, make sure I understand this. This is complicated. I want to know.


You have to have a president who wants the know, right?

When I had my heart surgery, I wanted a doctor who wanted to know. Why should we think the president shouldn't know about these things?

Second thing he said was, tell me what the right thing to do is. And do not bother me with the politics. Let's decide what is right for America and I will figure out how to sell it. That is the mark of a real leader in a time of crisis.

(APPLAUSE) Now -- and I'll just tell you, look, I spent a lot of time worrying about economics when I was president and since. Most Americans don't like this financial aid package, but we got to pass it. And here is why. It has nothing to do with bailing out Wall Street. The Wall Street you are mad at doesn't exist anymore. There is not a single, solitary free-standing investment bank left. The last two, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, just filed for protection as bank holding companies which means they have to follow much different rules and they can never be reckless with money again in the way so many were before. Don't worry about that.

This needs to pass because of you. Because what happens? People get scared about Wall Street, and mortgages, then they get scared about the banks. Now, all of our accounts are only insured up to $100,000. That is more than most of you got in the bank, but that's not more than most of America has in the bank from all the small businesses and big businesses and other people. I live in one of the wealthier counties in America, everybody I know in the town I live in last week was worried about how they could get their bank accounts down to $100,000 and buy government security.

Why should you care about that? Because banks are not like these risky investment firms. They have to have 10 percent capital for all the loans they put out. So the more they reduce their capital, the less money they can loan. So last week the biggest car dealer in America stopped financing cars for a couple days. If we don't do something about this, it won't be long before you can't go down and buy a refrigerator on an installment plan.