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Lou Dobbs Tonight
President Bush Tries To Push Immigration Reform While Republicans Remain Divided; Democrats Try To Exploit Republican Differences;
Aired April 05, 2006 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, President Bush is demanding that the Senate take action now on what he calls comprehensive immigration reform. But his proposals could be headed for defeat. Has the president run out of political capital?
We'll be live at the White House and on Capitol Hill with the reports.
Also tonight, the federal government announcing a crackdown on immigration fraud, but critics say terrorists and criminals can easily bypass immigration checks to enter this country, like three million others do.
We'll have that report.
And business groups and special interests stepping up their campaign for that guest worker program, an amnesty program for illegal aliens. Among my guests tonight, the chairman of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, who says illegal aliens contribute to the prosperity of America.
And is it time to replace the country's welfare system? I'll be talking with the author of a bold new plan to halt all government entitlement programs. He says every citizen will benefit.
We'll have all of that and a great deal more here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Wednesday, April 5th.
Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
President Bush today called upon the Senate to pass what he calls a comprehensive bill on immigration reform. President Bush urged senators to reach a conclusion as quickly as possible. The president's intervention reflects rising frustration in the White House at the deadlock in the Senate over that immigration bill. Some say the deadlock means the president's entire immigration proposal could be headed for defeat.
Suzanne Malveaux reports tonight from the White House, Dana Bash from Capitol Hill.
We turn first to Suzanne Malveaux -- Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, really, it's very interesting to watch what is happening here, because the White House is in as position of suspended animation, if you will. The president trying to use what political capital that he does have to push forward this immigration reform.
He had several meetings with Republican officials here at the White House. We saw him even before he got on Marine One to go to his day trip to Bridgeport, Connecticut, to talk about something completely different, he stopped before the cameras and said, look, putting pressure on members of the Senate to say, look, this is what I need: I need a guest worker program. We are not for amnesty. The administration putting out a statement yesterday, saying, we don't believe in the automatic pass to citizenship.
This, however, Senate Judiciary Committee, people saying on the Hill that their bill, they believe, fits that, perhaps, that description, saying that, look, it's not an automatic pass to citizenship, it's an earned one. That opening up the possibility for negotiations, perhaps the president signing on to this piece of legislation. But still, a lot of twists and turns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I urge the senators to continue to work toward getting a comprehensive bill, a bill that will help us secure our borders, a bill that will cause the people in the interior of this country to recognize and enforce the law. And a bill that will include a guest worker provision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: And earlier, of course, the president taking a day trip to Bridgeport, Connecticut. That's where he was pushing health savings accounts.
I have to tell you, Lou, that people that I've been speaking to all day say they don't believe that really the members of Congress have the stomach for either pieces of legislation before those midterm elections, that they are just too hot, that it's not worth the fight. And, of course, you talked about political capital. One of the congressional sources I spoke with involved in negotiations says, look, you know, both sides, diametrically opposed, believe that the president supports their plan. He says if you hope everyone, you help no one -- Lou.
DOBBS: An interesting observation. Thank you very much, Suzanne Malveaux, from the White House.
As the president is trying to push his so-called immigration reforms through the Senate, members of his own party are deeply divided on the issue. Senate Republicans held more closed-door meetings today. Democrats trying to export Republican differences for their political advantage.
Dana Bash reports from Capitol Hill -- Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, there's no question that this issue was at deadlock on the Senate floor today. Democrats are stopping Republicans from voting on their amendments. And Republicans, no matter where they stand on this issue -- and they certainly are divided on it -- they are all furious about it, and that all came to a head this afternoon, when both leaders went to the Senate floor and expressed frustration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), MAJORITY LEADER: The immigration system is broken, and, yet, the Democrats today don't have the courage to address the problem, to fix the problem. They show a lack of courage, I think, convictions and leadership to fix the problem. And you fix the problem by doing something, not coming with just a solution and saying, this is it, take it or leave it.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: My friends, the majority can move forward with a bill that can fix our borders and reform the immigration system or continue to stonewall this. It's a -- it's in the eyes of the beholder, Mr. President, who is stonewalling it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Now, that public posturing actually belies what was a flurry of activity behind the scenes, actually taking place in the Senate majority leader's office today. Senators parading in and out, talking about some -- some way to find compromise on the guest worker issue. And what those negotiations are really centering on is the idea of separating out how you treat the illegal immigrants, making it easier for those who have been in this country longer to stay legally than those who have just been here for about five years or less.
Now, what they are trying to do is, of course, get to 60 votes needed to pass something off the Senate floor, and they are trying to influence some undecided Republicans, like, for example, Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi. He has said -- he told us that he is keeping his powder dry on this issue because he's not exactly sure where he stands. But he said on that particular issue, that potential compromise, he's definitely willing to listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TRENT LOTT (R), MISSISSIPPI: It is hard to say that people that have been here for 10 years and, you know, have had jobs and have paid taxes and haven't broken the laws, and their children are going to school and their children are educated, and their sons are Marines in Iraq, hey, you've got leave.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: So, tonight they are going -- there are going to be some negotiations just among Senate staff. But if nothing is agreed to tomorrow morning, Lou, there will be the first big vote, and it is really unclear at this point what can happen with that -- Lou.
DOBBS: It's unusual that we would be having this discussion. The vote originally scheduled to come tomorrow.
The idea that neither Democrats or Republicans are thought out on these issues as to what -- at what level should an amnesty be applied, the guest worker program put in place, and no discussion here about the lack of credibility on the part of both Democrats and Republicans on border security, which is absolutely critical if you're going to control and also reform immigration.
BASH: Well, you're right. The border security issue is certainly what they've been talking about a lot and is underlying, really, all of these ideas.
The point of contention, as you well know, has been and continues to be what to do about any guest worker program, about the 11 or 12 million illegal workers. And, you know, the point you just made is something that we heard today, that one of the things that they're talking about is something that they've been talking about for some time, and it's just sort of come up recently as maybe one way, maybe the only way to get those 60 votes that they need so that this whole thing doesn't completely die tomorrow in the Senate.
DOBBS: Dana Bash, thank you very much, from Capitol Hill.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid today is a strong supporter of that guest worker program that would all allow illegal alien amnesty. But 13 years ago Senator Reid was quite a different person wherein it came to illegal immigration. He was a critic, in fact.
In 1993, Senator Reid said, "For every seven immigrants who enter the job market, one blue-collar American loses a job." This year, Senator Reid declared, "Half a million people come across every year. The fact is our economy depends on them and absorbs them."
In 1993, Senator Reid said, "A disproportionate number of crimes are being committed by immigrants." Immigrants, many of whom are here illegally. Now Senator Reid says, "Of course, most of those 11 million pose no threat."
Today, Senator Reid spoke about his change of view on the Senate floor after the issue was raised by Senator Jeff Sessions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REID: I don't want this to be true confessions, but I want to relate to the Senate that the biggest mistake I ever made, the largest error that I ever made was 15 or 18 years ago as a member of the United States Congress. And I have nothing, nothing against my friend, this junior senator from Alabama for bringing up what I said those many years ago today on the Senate floor. No problem with that at all.
But I do want to tell him and the rest of my friend in the Senate that that's a low point -- a low point of my legislative career.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Senator Reid apologizing there for changing his position and an apology that will probably fail to satisfy his critics. And no mention of the fact that the state of Nevada, Senator Reid's home state, has become a magnet for hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens who constitute a considerable political force within his state now, whereas in 1993 it did not.
The Bush White House and its supporters insist any immigration reform must include the president's guest worker program. But many say such a program would be nothing less than amnesty for illegal aliens, and any amnesty would be wide open to fraud and abuse, just as the last amnesty passed two decades ago.
Lisa Sylvester reports.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Bill King was one of four directors nationwide who oversaw the 1986 amnesty. He said it quickly turned into a bureaucratic nightmare. Immigration officials were expecting a maximum of two million applications. They received more than three million.
King says current estimates of 12 million illegal aliens are understated. More like 20 million. And the U.S. government is not prepared to process them.
BILL KING, FMR. BORDER PATROL CHIEF: I don't think there's a way with current resources that it can happen, unless they use a rubber stamp. And I suspect that's what will happen if either the guest worker or the amnesty program is passed.
SYLVESTER: In 1986, King and his colleagues had to open and equip 112 amnesty offices nationwide and train 2,000 people. This time, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services would oversee the program. The office is already overburdened, facing a backlog of cases. There are 4,000 adjudicators who processed seven million applications in fiscal year 2005.
Fraud is another problem. It was rampant in the '86 amnesty.
BILL BUCHANAN, AMERICAN COUNCIL FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM: People were actually flying into the United States and immediately going to an office claiming that they had been here for years and years as farm workers. And they knew nothing about farming.
KING: Counterfeit documents were everywhere, particularly in our region. Some selling counterfeit documents to establish legally residency almost within sight of our offices.
SYLVESTER: Forgery stations set up on the same block as the amnesty offices? But there was little that immigration officials could do, because they did not have the enforcement capability to arrest and prosecute them.
Now, 20 years later, the same issues are coming up, but instead of two million people, it's 10 times as many.
SYLVESTER: And the stakes are higher now than in 1986 because of the sheer numbers and because of national security concerns. In a post-9/11 world, it becomes even more imperative that applications are carefully screened and vetted to keep out terrorists -- Lou.
DOBBS: Carefully screened and vetted. The fact is, within the Citizen and Immigration Service absolutely no capacity whatsoever to take on this chore and this responsibility.
Is anyone in Washington paying attention to the facts here?
SYLVESTER: It's amazing. As I listened to most of the Senate debate, it was very rare to hear people even bringing up this issue, the question of how are they going to do all of this?
They talk about having the guest worker program, they talk about legalizing millions of illegal aliens. They don't have the capacity to do it right now.
DOBBS: And we have a government that has not enforced immigration laws, has not enforced penalties against illegal employers of illegal aliens. This is a mess that has the potential this week to be made an even bigger mess, it appears.
Lisa Sylvester, thank you very much.
Terrorists have frequently bypassed immigration checks in this country by using forged documents and other types of deception. Today, immigration officials launched what they call a brand new anti- fraud initiative that they say will help keep terrorists out of our country.
Christine Romans reports.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): All these terrorists expertly navigated our immigration bureaucracy.
1993: World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef entered the country using asylum fraud. Without any detention beds to hold him, he was released into the public.
Another 1993 bomber was granted amnesty in 1986 as an agricultural worker. That legal status allowed him to travel overseas for terrorism training.
Another was denied 1986 amnesty but stayed in the country illegally and ultimately helped kill six in the '93 World Trade Center bombing. Six months after 9/11, our immigration bureaucracy told a Florida flight school that visas had been approve for Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi, two hijackers who were already dead.
This man wife's won a green card in our government's lottery system and brought him into the country. In 2002, he opened fire at the El Al counter at LAX, killing two, wounding four others, before being shot dead by a deputy.
Virtually every type of immigration benefit has been exploited by terrorists.
MICHAEL CUTLER, FMR. INS AGENT: The whole immigration system really needs to have meaningful integrity. When you're dealing with immigration, there's only very weak links and nonexistent links.
ROMANS: Immigration and Customs Enforcement acknowledges that immigration fraud is growing.
JULIE MYERS, IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT: We know that each year tens of thousands of applications for immigration benefits are denied because of fraud, and those are just the ones we find.
ROMANS: ICE today launching task forces in 11 cities to track down document and benefit fraud. Benefit fraud in some visa categories is as high as 33 percent.
ROMANS: Time and again, terrorists have easily comment here, achieved legal status through fraud, luck, or by our own bureaucratic ineptitude. And it's not just terrorists.
In 1996, the Clinton administration pushed to make almost a million immigrants legal citizens. Government investigators, Lou, later found thousands of them had criminal histories that should have disqualified them. They became citizens.
DOBBS: Not only do we have an immigration system that is absolutely broken, we have no way in which to enforce border security because there is no political will to do so, at least in Washington, D.C. The American people want that.
What in the world are these people thinking about in Washington?
ROMANS: I think they are thinking about getting as many people through as they possibly can in legal channels, but these legal channels we have seen time and time again, Lou, are really, really wracked with all kinds of fraud and problems.
DOBBS: Christine Romans, thank you.
Still ahead here, Senator John McCain finds himself in the midst of a tough crowd. Why the audience was booing Senator McCain. It had something to do with immigration. Also tonight, despite what the agriculture industry claims, paying farm workers a livable decent wage just will not break either your budget or the national economy. We'll have that special report.
And fresh off the U.S. nuclear deal with India, we'll tell you which enemy of this nation is now doing business with India's government.
That report, a great deal more, coming up here tonight.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: A room full of construction workers gave Senator John McCain a little straight talk of their own yesterday. And it was almost more than he could bear. The AFL-CIO's construction and building trades booed Senator McCain when he said illegal aliens fill jobs that Americans won't do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Now, my friends, I'll offer anybody here $50 an hour if you'll go pick lettuce in Yuma this season and pick for the whole season. So -- OK? Sign up. OK.
You sign up. You sign up, and you'll be there for the whole season, the whole season. OK? Not just one day. Because you can't do it, my friend.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Senator McCain getting some straight talk of his own. Senator McCain offering to leave when the crowd jeered him earlier, but he decided to stay. And in general, at least in my opinion, handled it with pretty good humor.
Supporters of the amnesty agenda say illegal aliens fill jobs that Americans won't do. They also say paying farm workers decent wages would just drastically raise the price of groceries that we have to buy in this country. But guess what? Like so many arguments in this illegal alien discussion, this illegal immigration crisis, it's just an argument that is totally refuted by the facts.
Here now with the facts, Bill Tucker.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The average farm worker works for a below-poverty wage, earning $9,570 per year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There is no argument it is hard, low-paying work.
SEN. LARRY CRAIG (R), IDAHO: Much of what we do in agriculture is hand labor. It's intensive, hard-working, back-breaking, in the hot sun kind of labor. And the average American citizens says, I don't do that kind of work anymore.
TUCKER: Estimates vary about the number of illegal workers in the field, raising the question of whether this is work Americans don't want to do are simply the way the agriculture industry likes it.
DAN STEIN, FED. OF AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM: They continue to supply (ph) illegal aliens as retarded. The introduction not only of labor-saving mechanization, but also of improved housing and labor standards.
TUCKER: So what if wages rose and conditions improved dramatically? Would consumers have to dig a lot deeper into their pocket to pay for their fruits and vegetables?
The simple, bottom-line answer is no. In fact, wages could rise by 40 percent, according to one study, rising above the poverty level. And the average food bill for fresh fruits and vegetables would increase by less than $10 a year.
PROF. PHIL MARTIN, UNIV. OF CALIF. DAVIS: The important thing for Americans to understand is that they don't spend much on fresh fruits and vegetables, and farmers don't get very much of the retail dollar. On a $1 head of lettuce, the farmer gets about 18 cents, and the cost of wages and benefits is about six cents.
TUCKER: The average American family spends $370 on fresh fruits and veggies. Of that, only $65 goes to the farmer. Farm workers get $22 of the farmer's share. The remaining $305 is split up by the companies which transport the food, wholesalers, marketers, and grocery stores.
TUCKER: Martin points out that increases in wages typically lead to the increase use of machinery. And he argues that farmers should be pressing the government for subsidies for machines in their fields to increase productivity instead of what they are doing now, Lou, which is, in effect, arguing for subsidies for labor.
DOBBS: Well, arguing, hell. The American taxpayer is subsidizing those growers, those farmers, because we permit them to use illegal labor and exploit them.
DOBBS: It's -- I think most people have got to be astonished that we're talking about $10 to provide a decent wage, not, in my opinion, an adequate wage, but a decent wage, to a man or woman working in those fields, in this case produce fields. And Senator Craig said this is hard work.
I've actually done it as a young fellow, working in bean fields, in potato fields. This is tough work. These people deserve to be paid more. And we're sitting here talking about more of the same, allowing people to be exploited in this country.
It is just denigrating to this nation.
TUCKER: It is.
DOBBS: As well as to the people principally of Mexico, but Central America and parts of South America.
Thank you very much, Bill Tucker. Appreciate having some facts here. I'm sure that the proponents of all of this don't, but to heck with them.
That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight. How much more would you be willing to pay each year for fruits and vegetables if it would improve working conditions and raise wages for farm workers? Nothing? Would you pay $10 a year more, $20, $50 a year, maybe $100 a year?
Cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. We'll have the results here tonight in this broadcast.
In Colorado tonight, yet another school is forbidding its students from showing their support for the American flag and their opposition to the illegal alien amnesty agenda. The Shaw Heights Middle School in Adams County, Colorado, has changed its dress code to ban any piece of clothing deemed patriotic. Even camouflage pants have been banned.
The principal says students wearing the American flag are using the flag to antagonize Mexican students. Students say the ban is simply outrageous.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRISSA CORDOVA, 8TH GRADER: I think it's ironic, because it's USA, first of all, it's United States of America. And our colors are red, white and blue. And there's flags in this school already in those colors, and we can't even wear the colors.
COLTON BAKER, 8TH GRADER: Freedom of speech. I should be able to wear what I want, my First Amendment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Also tonight, outrage building after a decision by California's Oceanside school district to ban flags and patriotic symbols in class there. As we reported last night, Oceanside officials took the step after large demonstrations last week in favor of illegal alien rights.
Tonight, California state senator Bill Morrow says Oceanside must reverse its decision. The senator saying, "The decision to ban the wearing of American flags in order to achieve safety is terribly misguided. There's something very unfair when kids from any city in any state in this nation are prevented from displaying the stars and stripes."
Senator Morrow says that it is incredible that students from Oceanside who have parents serving in Iraq cannot display the flag that their loved ones are fighting for overseas. The senator could not be more correct.
If -- it wasn't just students who walked out of a San Antonio high school to protest illegal immigration legislation yesterday. The school principal joined them.
The principal of Lanier High School told reporters he didn't condone that walkout by some 200 students, but he wanted to make it a teaching experience. Many of the students admitted they used the protest as an excuse to miss class. They'll be required to write a paper on what they learned from the experience.
Well, last week, the president of La Raza, Janet Murguia, appeared on this broadcast, as she has often. I told her that I prefer holidays, as we were talking about multiculturalism, that I prefer holidays that celebrate our commonality, our similarities as people. In fact, I don't like holidays, I told Janet, like St. Patrick's Day, Columbus Day, that tend to stress differences. I think we could focus on, again, as I say, our commonalties.
The National Council of La Raza has released a statement publicly declaring its support for St. Patrick's Day. Now, there are a lot of things I don't like about La Raza, but I do like its sense of humor.
The statement advocates "drinking green beer" as well as eating a kielbasa and playing a glockenspiel at a parade.
Like I say, you've got to at least appreciate the sense of humor on the part of Janet Murguia and La Raza. I don't appreciate a lot of other things, however.
Coming up next, do you want to know how Congress has been spending your hard-earned money? You probably don't. But nonetheless, we'll take a look in the congressional "Pig Book."
And religious leaders raising their voices in the pulpits and the streets. They're pushing for amnesty for illegal aliens. We'll have that special report.
And new concerns about military ties ten Iran and our new nuclear alley, if the Bush administration has its way, India.
That report and more still ahead here. Please stay with us.
DOBBS: Religious leaders from coast to coast continue their assault on efforts to secure this nation's borders. In Los Angeles and Washington, it now appears the clergy is working to dictate U.S. government policy.
Casey Wian has the story.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony wasted no time injecting politics into the midday service at Our Lady of the Angels cathedral.
CARD. ROGER MAHONY, OUR LADY OF THE ANGELS: Today we are offering the mass in a special way for the passage in the Senate and in the House eventually of just and human immigration legislation. That is the purpose of today's day of prayer and fasting.
WIAN: Mahony says praying and fasting can help influence the Senate to approve an amnesty bill.
MAHONY: This is a unique opportunity, and God help us if we let it pass without enacting good, sound and just immigration reform.
WIAN: Among those attending the service, supporters of Expanded Rights for Illegal Aliens, including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The U.S. Catholic Church has been struggling to hold on to membership. Many new members are illegal aliens from predominantly Catholic nations. But Mahony dies that's what behind his opposition to strict enforcement of immigration laws.
MAHONY: We don't have to go look for anybody to fill the churches. That's not our concern. But if people come to us, we want to be able to serve them.
WIAN: In Washington, perhaps the nation's best-known Catholic figure also helped push the amnesty agenda with evangelical Christian ministers.
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: They know them not as illegal aliens but as brothers and sisters in Christ.
WIAN: Naturally, this pastor calls illegal aliens citizens.
REV. MARK GONZALEZ, NATL. HISP. CHRISTIAN CONF.: We wanted to make sure that those 12 million undocumented had a pathway and had the opportunity as citizens that have been a part of the economic vitality of our country that have also been adding value to the United States of America were being also paid attention to.
WIAN: By quoting scripture and flexing their political muscle, religious leaders are influencing the debate over immigration reform and border security in Congress.
WIAN: While religious leaders are praying for Congress to pass a guest-worker amnesty bill, the question remains, who is praying for the average American workers who have lost their jobs to poorly paid illegal aliens -- Lou.
DOBBS: Any response at all from the evangelicals, the Protestants, the Catholics, any other religious group on that issue?
WIAN: No, not on that issue. They do say that they feel for the American workers who are under competition from this low-wage labor, but they still say that low-wage labor deserves to be here with full legal status in the United States -- Lou.
DOBBS: This is a confluence of religion and politics that I don't think many of us anticipated even a year ago, and we appreciate you bringing us up-to-date. Thank you very much, Casey Wian in Los Angeles.
The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce says illegal immigration legislation must include a guest worker program, justifying its position by saying illegal aliens contribute to the American economy and that illegal aliens must be brought out from the shadows. The chamber also opposes requiring employers to check the citizen's status -- citizenship status of the people they hire.
Michael Barrera is the president of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, joining me tonight.
Michael, good to have you here.
MICHAEL BARRERA, PRES. U.S. HISPANIC C. OF C.: Hey, thanks for inviting me Lou. And I'm glad to be here.
DOBBS: This business about not -- why would you oppose employers checking legal status?
BARRERA: Now, I think, Lou, what we're trying to -- what we're proposing is trying to put all the burden on small business to actually do all the checking. We can't have businesses being immigration cops. And we have to make sure that they can get willing workers on jobs that no one else will take.
DOBBS: Well, let me ask you this. You say not immigration cops, but every business in the country is also an internal revenue collecting station. It takes one phone call. We've got the pilot program. It can be expanded almost within -- at the snap of the of a finger, nationwide -- you're aware of it -- for Social Security verification.
That's not a big deal. It's a lot less paperwork than every business owner in the country, small or otherwise, has to do in terms of internal revenue reporting.
BARRERA: You know, it's interesting you mentioned small business and paperwork. You know, I used to work for the Small Business Administration, and they'll tell you that in small business one of the biggest problems they have is paperwork, is regulation.
Did you know that small businesses now pay $7,000 per year per employee? And that's 60 percent higher than big businesses. So what do you want to do on this particular law that they are proposing is adding more burden to those small businesses, and they'll tell you, they just don't need it.
Right now what they are trying to propose is to have some kind of identification card that the government will do the work and not put that burden on small businesses.
DOBBS: Well, a -- like I say, I mean, it seems to me if we can handle the Internal Revenue Service, we can make one phone call. You know, we're all busy in this country. Most of us are real busy. I just don't see how that -- but I take your point.
The second part of that is the guest-worker program. Michael, you are aware that we've actually seen wages decline across all of these -- nearly all of these categories that are low-wage jobs and positions in almost every sector of the economy, which is where illegal aliens are moving. With wages declining, how can we say we need guest workers?
BARRERA: Well, Lou, it's kind of funny. There's all this thing about the sky is falling with illegal immigration. That's just not true. And I'm not using my stats. I am using the government stats. The Bureau of Labor statistics said in the last year 2 million jobs have been created and two-thirds of those jobs were higher paying jobs. These aren't my stats. These aren't some think tank stats.
The last three months 5 million jobs have been created, so that just isn't there. You know, unemployment is the lowest it's been in the 70s, the 80s, the 90s or in this decade, so it's just not as bad as people are saying. Are there people concerned? Yes, they are, and we acknowledge that. And people need to be sure that their jobs are protected.
But, you know, it's funny. I've been looking at this commercial on T.V. -- an infomercial and they talk about high school jobs. You know, one thing that's really happening in our country is we're getting smarter. Forty years ago...
DOBBS: Well, wait a minute, Michael, you're answering questions I haven't asked.
BARRERA: I'm just trying to help on this. OK. I'm just trying to help here.
DOBBS: I know you're being helpful. Let me be -- let's help each other.
BARRERA: OK, let's do that.
DOBBS: Let's help each other and let's talk to each other.
BARRERA: Let's do that.
DOBBS: With wages declining, isn't that a pretty clear statement that we have too much labor, not too little?
BARRERA: You know what, Lou, we have got to find out where we can -- labor is actually not in necessary decline. What's happening here is that only 10 percent of our community, of our nation now, does not have a high school education. And what's happening is that's why these workers are actually coming in. They are taking jobs that no one else will take. If you don't have an education right now, you're going to be basically sentencing yourself to low-wage, low-skill and low-education jobs. And that's where, I think, the competition is happening. What's going on right now, Lou, there are jobs that people just will not take, particularly in certain sectors like the agriculture.
DOBBS: Doesn't it just stick in your craw to hear somebody like Senator Craig, who is otherwise a good fellow, but say that Americans won't take a job? When we reach a point that any -- that as Americans there are jobs we won't do, who the hell do we think we are?
And do you really believe our leaders and yourself when you say that suddenly Americans are too good to do any work? That's about the end of the American dream right there, isn't it partner?
BARRERA: No, I don't think that's what he is saying, Lou. Let's be serious.
DOBBS: That's what you said. That's what Senator Craig said. That's what the president said.
BARRERA: No, let's be fair, Lou. There are some jobs that people just won't take. You know, just recently in California, there were ads placed in 58 counties asking for agricultural workers. Not one U.S. citizen applied.
DOBBS: Let's be honest there.
BARRERA: We are being honest though, Lou.
DOBBS: Let's be honest.
BARRERA: Let's be honest about the subject.
DOBBS: It is not a job that Americans won't do. It is a job that companies and businesses and employers won't pay for. And that is a critical difference, and it is a different way in which to frame the discussion, don't you think?
BARRERA: Well, Lou, it's all about economics. How high do you want to raise the wages?
DOBBS: I want to raise it so that every American citizen makes a decent living wage and doesn't have to contend with the outsourcing of jobs and the importation of poverty and labor, illegal labor, to fight against those wages. That's what I want to do.
BARRERA: Hey and that's what I want too, Lou.
DOBBS: We've reached agreement? We're going to have to run...
BARRERA: I think we all agree. But let's make sure we don't price people out of jobs either, and that's what you want to do. And we can't do that.
DOBBS: Oh, you know what? Partner, we're not going to price Americans out of a job. As a matter of fact, we haven't raised the minimum wage, as you know, since 1997, and where states are doing it, the actual benefit to the economy is being demonstrated, much to the surprise of many economists.
Michael, it was good to have you with us. Michael Barrera.
BARRERA: Thank you, Lou. Hey thank you. I appreciate it.
DOBBS: Good to have you here.
Time to take a look at some of your thoughts.
Mark in Virginia said, "Dear Lou, I would like to propose a guest home owner program, modeled after the guest worker program. It would allow an illegal alien to break into your home and apply for residency there. Upon paying a small fine, the criminal trespass charges would be dropped and then they would be granted five years temporary residency in your home. After five years, they would then be granted permanent residency, provided they had not committed any additional crimes and had learned some English."
An interesting idea.
Jim in Michigan, "Lou, I was shocked to hear that some of our school leaders have banned the flying of all flags on school grounds, including the American flag, because it may offend someone? Give me a break. This is America. If they don't like our flags, then they can go back to wherever it is they came from."
And Lieutenant Colonel Richard Leibert from Montana writes, "As a Montana cattle rancher, I'd like to offer President Bush, a Texas rancher, some plain-talking, country wisdom, good fences make good neighbors and that applies to any farm, ranch or nation."
Send us your thoughts at LouDobbs.com. We'll have more of your thoughts coming up here later in the broadcast.
Coming right up, a provocative new plan to control our nation's entitlement emergency. I'll be talking with author Charles Murray who wants to scrap every U.S. entitlement program in this country, and he says every American will benefit.
Massachusetts's new efforts offer health care to all of its citizens. Some call it revolutionary, a plan that could be enacted in states all across the nation. We'll have that story coming up as well.
And the annual pig book, we can't wait for this. Congress continues to live high on the hog -- you're not going to believe this -- at taxpayer expense. We'll tell you about some of the highlight of this pig book. Stay with us.
DOBBS: This just in, federal prosecutors tonight say they will present the case of Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney to a federal grand jury. Congresswoman McKinney is being investigated for her confrontation last week request a Capitol Hill police officer.
The officer says the Congresswoman struck him. She denies it. This morning Congresswoman McKinney said the police officer should have recognized her before stopping her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CYNTHIA MCKINNEY (D), GEORGIA: The real issue is face recognition and security around the Capitol complex. And I have an e- mail here from a former page saying that 16-year-old pages are required to know by name and by face the -- all of the members of Congress. Shouldn't Capitol Hill police officers be required to do the same?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: The Congresswoman also says that this is a case of racial profiling. The grand jury will take testimony from witnesses in this case beginning tomorrow. A decision on whether to bring charges against the Congresswoman could come as early as next week. Again, a grand jury deciding it will be investigating the McKinney case. We'll follow the story throughout the evening here on CNN.
Tonight, Massachusetts is close to becoming the first state in the nation to provide nearly universal healthcare to all its citizens. Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney says he will sign legislation passed by his state legislature that would require all Massachusetts citizens to have some form of health insurance.
Low-income residents whose cannot afford healthcare insurance will be offered affordable new plans and subsidies. Resident whose can afford healthcare insurance and still refuse to be covered will face tax penalties. This program is expected to cost some $1 billion a year.
Massachusetts says it will not raise overall taxes to pay for the program, but it will impose new penalties and fees on businesses, and penalties on businesses that don't offer health insurance to their workers. Massachusetts once had the highest tax rate in the country, but the state's tax burden as a percentage of total state income is now well below the nationwide average.
The explosive rate of growth in U.S. healthcare costs and entitlement programs continues unchecked in this country. If nothing is done to curb federal entitlement spending now, it could consume 60 percent of the federal budget in less than 25 years.
My next guest has a provocative new proposal to solve the crisis. Charles Murray wants to scrap every federal entitlement program, give every adult American a once a year payment of $10,000.
CHARLES MURRAY, AUTHOR, "IN OUR HANDS": Ten thousand dollars.
DOBBS: Charles Murray's new book is called "In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State."
DOBBS: Charles, thanks for being here.
MURRAY: My pleasure.
DOBBS: It's a provocative plan, and you're going to agree with that, I'm sure. The idea of $10,000, how is it -- because a lot of people are saying, how in the world does that make any sense?
MURRAY: You start out with the fact that we're spending -- what -- about $1.5 trillion a year on transfer payments. Now, if you just step back from talking about oh, these intractable entitlements. We don't know what to do about them, say, this is crazy that we're spending that much money in our transfers, and we still have -- what -- 36 million people under the poverty line? We have people without comfortable retirements and without health insurance.
DOBBS: Forty-five million without health insurance?
MURRAY: Yes. You know, if you don't filter all that money through the bureaucracies and then send it back out in dribs and dabs of services and little cash and full of exceptions and restrictions and so forth, and just give people the money, you have the basis for solving a lot of problems.
DOBBS: So, if we take a number, let's call it 1.5 trillion, what will it cost to give everyone $10,000, though?
MURRAY: The costs of this plan and the projected costs of the current system cross in 2011. By 2020, doing it this way, would cost about half a trillion dollars less than the protected cost of the current system and I'm using very conservative projections of the current system.
DOBBS: Why not -- some people would say $10,000 is going to help. People don't realize just about half the people in this country make $25,000 or less, those people in the labor market. $10,000 why not eliminate those who are making enough money? Why not make it a means test?
MURRAY: Well, as soon as you do that, you introduce all of the bureaucratic muddle that you have right now. See, I'm doing a couple of things.
DOBBS: You're suggesting there's a muddle in Washington? Charles, my goodness.
MURRAY: Just a little tiny bit. I want to bring it to your attention. Look, right now, I'm proposing to jerk out from under people, after the plan is put into effect ...
MURRAY: ... Medicare and Social Security. You can't jerk that out from under them and expect them to support a plan like that.
MURRAY: They need some money, no matter what their income level is, to replace that.
MURRAY: For the people who are, as you say, earning $25,000 or less, this makes all the difference in the world ...
MURRAY: ... between sort of barely making ends meet and being able to plan a life for yourself.
DOBBS: What in the world what do your friends at the American Enterprise Institute say about this?
MURRAY: There are varying opinions.
DOBBS: I'll bet there are.
MURRAY: But, you know, one of the fun things about working through the dynamics of this is all of the ways in which it changes the incentives dramatically for all kinds of problems we face now. Among other things, Lou, it gets rid of involuntary poverty. I'm not saying that no one would live in squalor after the plan goes into effect, but nobody needs to.
And another thing, I guess I'll emphasize real quickly, if you want to think through how this is going to play out, it's not just that everybody has the money, it's that everybody else knows everybody has the money.
DOBBS: It's an interesting and, as I said, provocative plan and we appreciate you being here.
MURRAY: I've enjoyed it.
DOBBS: And good luck with the book.
DOBBS: Charles Murray.
New evidence of the outrageous ways in which the government is spending our money. The "Congressional Pig Book" -- it comes out every year, and it details this year, $29 billion of egregious pork barrel projects.
Among the highlights, $13.5 million for the International Fund of Ireland, which helped finance the World Toilet Summit. You can't make this up -- $8,720,000 for breath alcohol testing equipment for the Defense Department, and $450,000 for flowers planted on the eastern front of the Capitol building.
We should note that a $47,000 Homeland Security grant was given to the Hampton Jitney. For those of who you have not been on the Hampton Jitney or don't know what it is, it's an upscale bus -- that's what the rest of us would call, is a bus -- for New Yorkers who spend their summer weekends in Long Island beach towns. They, I'm sure, appreciate the subsidy.
Coming up at the top of the hour here on CNN, "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer. Wolf, tell us about it.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou.
We're following several stories, including breaking news about Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney's confrontation with a Capitol Hill police officer. The case is now going to a grand jury. It's an extraordinary story. We're covering it from all angles.
Coming up this hour -- the next hour, that is, Cynthia McKinney herself, her lawyer, Capitol Hill Police Chief Terrance Gainer all will be in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Plus, why the patriarch of the conservative movement says Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton might easily become the next president of the United States.
And too politically correct? With the immigration debate now a hot topic, one school district in California says no Mexican flags are allowed. But guess what? No American flags are allowed either. We'll be live in California for that story, Lou. Much more coming up here in "THE SITUATION ROOM."
DOBBS: Were you talking about this hour there for a second?
BLITZER: We were talking about the next hour, excuse me. You're talking about your hour.
DOBBS: You've got enough hours. Leave our hour alone. Thanks, Wolf.
A reminder now to vote in our poll tonight. How much more would you be willing to pay each year for fruits and vegetables if it would improve working conditions and raise wages for farm workers in this country? Nothing, $10 a year, $20, $50 a year, $100 a year? Please cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. We'll have the results coming up.
This ahead here in this hour, more of your thoughts and a new museum this country needs now more than ever. It is the Freedom Museum, celebrating the country's precious First Amendment protections. General David Grange joins me next. Stay with us.
DOBBS: All across this country tonight, students are being suspended for exercising their First Amendment rights to bring American flags to school in response to illegal alien demonstrators carrying the Mexican flag. It's only one of a number of examples of how First Amendment freedoms are in jeopardy in this country.
It is also why a new museum in Chicago entitled The Freedom Museum is needed now more than ever and joining me now from this new museum, built in Chicago, General David Grange, he's the CEO of the group behind the museum devoted to First Amendment freedoms. The McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum official opens to the public next Tuesday. Good to have you with us.
What inspired you and your organization to build this museum?
GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET), CEO, MCCORMICK TRIBUNE FOUND.: Well, the inspiration came from a board of directors and other members of the foundation years ago. Finally during our 50th anniversary, it seemed like the right time to go ahead and get this thing out there to the American people, a museum that talks about our freedoms focused on the First Amendment.
DOBBS: Hey, the complexities -- the complexity of the issues that are confronting those of us in journalism, all Americans in their freedom of expression, how did you select the issues to celebrate in the museum?
GRANGE: Well, what we did, Lou, was a couple years ago, we started this effort. We assembled about 18 First Amendment scholars throughout the United States. We also put together teacher advisory panels and student advisory panels and what was important to Americans today and through our history that give us the freedom that we enjoy.
What do they want to see? What do they want to bring students in here? Which is our primary focus, the eighth and 12 graders, and what do we need. That's really how we put the storylines together that give us the exhibits that we have in here today.
DOBBS: One of the dramatic pieces in the museum is your 12/15/1791, the date of the First Amendment. What are your thoughts about the fact that the First Amendment is still being debated and is so critical to everything in our quality of life here in this country?
GRANGE: Well, as it should be. We want the First Amendment to be debated. We carry you back in the museum from 1791 forward. We even look beyond that, actually. But it's relevant today to the issues. The First Amendment is the primary tool to debate these issues.
Reference, for instance, earlier in the show, on wearing American flag, burning the American flag, the right to assemble, petition, what schools have, what rights they don't have.
DOBBS: Let me ask you, as a soldier, a distinguished soldier, who served his country, when you see schools banning the display of the American flag, how do you react to it? What do you think of that?
GRANGE: Well, personally, I don't favor it. I think we have one flag for this nation, that should be respected the same time respecting other cultures, ethnic groups, et cetera.
But when you come to this museum, it's not up to me to tell the visitor, they make the decisions themselves once they get the knowledge to understand the values of these freedoms and you can't value the freedoms, protect those values, unless you understand them. So that's the purpose of the museum. To come in here, engage and you make your own decision. DOBBS: Congratulations, the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum officially opening to the public next Tuesday there in Chicago. Dave Grange, as always, good to have you here. Congratulations.
GRANGE: My pleasure, Lou.
DOBBS: Still ahead, the results of our poll. More of your thoughts. We'll take a look at what's likely to be happening tomorrow, at least in Washington, D.C. Stay with us.
DOBBS: The results now of our poll: 57 percent of you would be willing to pay $100 more each year for fruits and vegetables if it would improve working conditions and raise wages for farm workers. We asked this question because a new study shows that by raising prices by only ten dollars a year we provide a 40 percent increase in wages to farm workers in this country. It's remarkable the lies, the distortions, the deceptions in this debate on illegal immigration.
We thank you for voting.
Time to take a look at your thoughts. Robert in Florida saying, "Lou, on CNN last night I witnessed Tom DeLay walking through the hall saying good bye to his fellow Republicans. They were actually cheering him, giving him high fives and shaking his hand. This man has disgraced his office. Why is he being treated like a hero?"
Bill in North Carolina. "What the heck is going on? Welcome to America where you can come here on a tourist visa and if you choose not to go home, you can go on down to the welfare office and get Medicare and food stamps and now, for a limited time, in state tuition for you and all your defendants."
Thanks for joining us and send us your thoughts at LouDobbs.com.
Please be with us here tomorrow. Good night from New York. THE SITUATION ROOM starts right now, with Wolf Blitzer.
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