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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Obama Plans Swift Policy Changes; Another AIG Bailout; New Wave of Layoffs; Country is Unhappy

Aired November 10, 2008 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Thanks, Wolf. Tonight President-elect Obama planning swift action to reverse eight years of President Bush's executive orders. Will the president-elect also reverse some of his campaign pledges? We'll have complete coverage.
And tonight, the federal government's bailout of the financial industry continues to balloon, the Federal Reserve putting out more than $2 trillion but the government refusing to say where that money, your money, has gone.

And tonight, new evidence of the worsening outlook for jobs in this country. Thousands more job cuts announced today, many more expected, all of that, all the day's news and more, straight ahead.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Monday, November 10th. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening. President-elect Obama and President Bush today holding their first meeting since the election, neither the president-elect nor the president made any public statement, even though the country faces serious issues, of course. Their meeting coming as President-elect Obama plans sweeping changes, Obama preparing to take swift action to reverse as many as 200 Bush administration decisions -- Ed Henry with our report from the White House.


ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush predicted a stirring sight when the first African-American president-elect showed up at the White House. And it turned out to be quite a moment, so much excitement people literally pressed their noses up to the gates to try and get a look hours before the two leaders took the long walk alone to the Oval Office for a one-on-one chat only a select few men have had before them.

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't think any of us can understand what it's like between for two people who are now going to be in a very small club, who understand what it's like to be the commander-in-chief.

HENRY: As the principals huddled, outgoing press secretary Dana Perino gave her likely successor, Robert Gibbs a tour while Mr. Bush's personal assistant showed his successor around the campus. It's an American tradition that happens sooner than usual this time because the key topics were the financial crisis and the fact this is the first handoff since 9/11. Both men know there were terror attacks in Spain and Scotland during transfers of power.

PERINO: We really want to make sure that we work with them through joint exercises to providing briefings so that when we hand the baton to them they're able to move forward and continue to protect the country.

HENRY: Despite their sharp differences both sides are praising the cooperation so far.

JOHN PODESTA, FMR. CLINTON W.H. CHIEF OF STAFF: We envision having a couple of joint meetings once our national security teams name between their national security principals and ours, so that we can have a seamless transition from the, you know from January 19th to January 20th, when the president takes the oath of office.


HENRY: Now after their meeting in the Oval Office which lasted more than an hour, aides to both men called it cordial and constructive, the conversation. It's in their interest to say that. For the president-elect he wants to show he's ready for a smooth transition. The current president wants to show he's ready for a graceful exit, Lou.

DOBBS: All right, thank you Ed. President-elect Obama planning to quickly undo some of President Bush's policies, the president-elect likely to use executive orders to change policies on issues such as crude oil and gas drilling offshore and stem cell research. Some wonder if President-elect Obama will also reverse course on some of his campaign promises -- Lisa Sylvester with our report.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Congress passes the laws, but the president has the authority to define how the executive agencies interpret those laws. President Bush has been busy with his pen signing 23 executive orders this year alone, setting new policies. Democratic critics say many of those orders were tailored for Mr. Bush's conservative base.

FAIZ SHAKIR, CTR. FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: It has been eight years of catering to special interests, catering to big industry, at the neglect of workers, consumers, environment.

SYLVESTER: The Obama transition team has already identified Bush executive orders they plan to reverse.

PODESTA: We're looking at, again, virtually -- in virtually every agency to see where we can move forward, whether that's on energy transformation, on improving health care, on stem cell research. SYLVESTER: Some of the orders expected to be reversed are Bush's limit on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research allowing international family groups that receive U.S. aide to counsel women on the possibility of abortion, reviewing drilling in environmentally sensitive areas, and permitting California to mandate lower carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles. But the conservative Heritage Foundation cautions against undoing orders like the one on emissions saying it will hurt key sectors including the battered automobile industry.

MIKE FRANC, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: It may not be the time to impose an enormously high level of regulation on the manufacturing sector that's getting ready to come to Washington for a multibillion dollar bailout.

SYLVESTER: But there's a new administration soon to be in charge. They are wasting no time talking change.

REP. DIANA DEGETTE (D), COLORADO: We're obviously going to have to have legislation for many of the tough issues like the economy. But for some of these issues we can start making a difference right away.


SYLVESTER: John Podesta, the head of Obama's transition team, underscored that point saying to look for major changes right away and that the new president intends to use his executive authority to in his words work on behalf of the common good -- Lou.

DOBBS: Lisa, thank you very much -- Lisa Sylvester.

Members of Congress tonight have no idea what's going on with the federal government's huge bailout of the financial industry. The government has already given financial institutions trillions of dollars quite literally, the Fed putting out $2 trillion in loans over the past year and a half.

Congress don't know who has received that money and the Federal Reserve refuses to be held accountable or to give any kind of transparency at all -- Louise Schiavone with our report.


LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): ... and Federal Reserve are working overtime to shore up the financial system but more and more, economists and strategists say what's missing are results and transparency starting with the massive loans now issued by the Federal Reserve. The Fed resisting calls to say who is getting them.

LEE SHEPPARD, CONTRIBUTING ED., TAX ANALYSTS: I don't think it should be OK with anybody right now. You know I -- Congress should want to know. The Fed is not, even though we want it to be independent, it's not you know it's not a power unto itself that makes its own laws. SCHIAVONE: The Federal Reserve tells CNN that about $1.5 trillion in loans have been issued by the Central Bank. It's an extraordinary amount of money, considering the fact that in the summer of 2007, outstanding Fed loans stood at 100 million. But out of concern for the reputations and soundness of the institutions involved, the Fed will not report who is getting the money now and what collateral they're using.

ROBERT MANNING, ROCHESTER INST. OF TECH.: Taxpayers are stretched thin and to tell taxpayers that it's not really any of their concern, where a trillion dollars may be headed, not to mention how much more there may be and will be after this, is really unconscionable.

SCHIAVONE: On a parallel track, the financial sector bailout which both the Treasury and analysts agree is not yielding immediate results.

DAVID SMICK, GLOBAL FINANCIAL STRATEGIST: The excess cash reserves of banks usually they lend to each other, it's usually somewhere between three and $7 billion, collectively for all the banks. I just looked up the number today, it's approaching 300 billion. They don't want to lend it.

SCHIAVONE: And people are losing their jobs.

PETER SEPP, NATIONAL TAXPAYERS UNION: All of these nightmare scenarios that were painted while this bailout was being debated are starting to come true.


SCHIAVONE: Lou, Congress constructed this $700 billion bailout. Where does it stand? Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd tells me that he favors more transparency. A spokesman for House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank says in general he does too and hopes to get some answers from the Fed and from the Treasury when they appear on Capitol Hill next week -- Lou.

DOBBS: All right, Louise, thank you very much -- Louise Schiavone from Washington.

Tonight's poll, the question -- do you believe the Federal Reserve should be required to identify the recipients of the $2 trillion in rescue funds? Yes or no. Cast your vote at We'll have the results here later.

The Federal Reserve tonight giving American Express permission to become a bank; the Federal Reserve setting what it called "emergency conditions" without any elaboration. Those emergency conditions and conversion to a bank will enable American Express to participate in the government's huge bailout of financial institutions. In September, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley also charged their status to become bank-holding companies.

Up next here tonight the federal government giving even more money to the insurance group AIG, tens of billions of dollars more, in fact and making the terms a little more generous. We'll have the story and the face of job cuts in our economy is accelerating. We'll have a special report on what's next for middle-class America. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Federal government today putting more tax money at risk in its gamble to save insurance giant AIG. The federal government revising AIG's bailout plan making it the largest bailout of any private company in our history. The decision was announced as the company reported it lost another $24 billion -- Ines Ferre reports.


INES FERRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): First, the AIG bailout was $85 billion, then it received another 60 billion. Now, the federal government has scrapped the original rescue plan for AIG and tacked on an additional 27 billion. The insurer was struggling to meet the terms of the initial bailout. The Treasury Department argues AIG is a quote, "systemically significant institution too important to fail".

NEEL KASHKARI, INTERIM ASST. TREASURY SECY.: This morning's action with AIG was a one-off event that was necessary for financial stability.

FERRE: Unlike millions of American families struggling to keep their homes, AIG gets a second chance. Today's restructuring extends the loan term and reduces the interest rate on the $60 billion it owes Uncle Sam.

BILL BERGMAN, MORNINGSTAR: AIG is getting access to more money at cheaper rates and at more flexible terms. It's historic now in U.S. financial markets for one institution to have this much money available to it.

FERRE: The Treasury will buy $40 billion in preferred stock and the Fed will create a new program to buy up to $22 billion of AIG's toxic mortgage-backed securities. The Fed will also post $30 billion to guarantee AIG's troubled credit default swaps. Those unregulated insurance contracts that allowed financial companies to take huge risks and lets AIG's down fall.

PROF. PETER MORICI, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: We have a bailout package in which the stock holders and the executives who got us into a mess get the benefits if things work out and the taxpayer gets all the risks if they don't.

FERRE: Morici and others ask whether executives will use this money wisely.


FERRE: And remember those lavish pay packages and company retreats even after the federal government stepped in to rescue AIG? Well this time, as part of the plan, the Treasury will limit golden parachutes and freeze the size of the annual bonus pool for the top 70 company executives -- Lou.

DOBBS: All right, Ines, thank you very much.

Well, shares of General Motors today plunged to a 60-year low. One Wall Street analyst slashed the value of the automaker stock to zero. There were new calls for a federal bailout of General Motors and other carmakers over the weekend. Democratic leaders in Congress called on the administration to help out. President-elect Obama's chief of staff yesterday called for faster action on the Bush administration's $25 billion loan and the Bush administration today said it will listen if Congress decides to do more.

Well, communist China will undertake a financial bailout of its own, also paid for with your money, China to spend almost $600 billion over the next two years to fight off recession, our failed trade policies and China's currency policies taking billions of dollars from the economy.

The Chinese stimulus package will relax credit restrictions and cut taxes. Unlike the U.S. bailout, China will spend billions on a massive infrastructure building project. The country will also finance new low-income housing and rebuild after recent natural disasters.

Up next here President Obama -- President-elect Obama expected to quickly push his agenda forward and to reverse some Bush policies. We'll be talking about executive orders with one of the country's leading presidential historians and what we can expect from an Obama administration.

And a new wave of layoffs today announced, is anything being done to help our working men and women hold on to their jobs in the midst of this crisis? We'll have that special report as well and more. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Unfortunately, thousands more job cuts today announced, DHL planning to cut almost 10,000 jobs. That news comes as the unemployment rate hits its highest level in 14 years. There are now more than 10 million unemployed Americans. Despite President-elect Obama's campaign promises to create jobs many more layoffs are, in fact, expected. Kitty Pilgrim has our report


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nine thousand, five hundred people suddenly out of work at DHL, on top of 5,400 earlier this year, the massive domestic operations for air and ground services based in Wilmington, Ohio, closing shop. A month ago, President-elect Barack Obama was there talking about the expected DHL layoffs on the campaign trail.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Before I came in I had a meeting with the mayor of Wilmington and a group of individuals who are concerned about the DHL facility.

PILGRIM: But that meeting could not stop the inevitable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to affect me directly and it's just kind of -- I don't know, tightening the reigns, buckling down, going out in the job market.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well my husband's been there for 19 years. And we've been worrying about this, everybody in this community has.

PILGRIM: In his new administration, President-elect Obama has promised to create millions of jobs, five million new high-wage jobs by investing in renewable sources of energy and two million jobs by rebuilding crumbling roads, schools and bridges.

REA HEDERMAN, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: I think yeah for the middle class, right now, I think the fear of losing their job, wanting to find a job is still going to remain of paramount importance through the first year of the next president's term. We could be looking at late 2009, 2010 before the labor market turns around.

PILGRIM: Over a million jobs have been cut this year. Manufacturing has lost 90,000 jobs, construction 49,000, leisure and hospitality 16,000 and more expected, as Americans cut spending.


PILGRIM: One of the few industries growing at this point is government, adding 23,000 jobs in October. That hiring is certain to fade as governments also have to cut back on services and workers, Lou.

DOBBS: It's a -- it is a terrible, terrible time when we start talking about more than 10 million Americans out of work. That -- it sounds quite different than 6.5 percent unemployed, I mean that's...

PILGRIM: The numbers are astonishing and you know going from a policy statement to creating a paycheck is such a gap at this point it's almost insurmountable at this point.

DOBBS: It is -- it is very difficult indeed, and whatever initiatives can be taken by the government, they are going to be -- there's going to be a certain amount of lag time involved as well so, you know let's hope for the very best. Thank you very much Kitty -- Kitty Pilgrim.

Time now for some of your thoughts; Mike in Florida said, "What we are experiencing is the long term effect of short term thinking." That is very well said in my opinion.

And David in New Hampshire, "Lou, with each passing day it becomes more and more apparent that no one in government knows what they are doing. It is nothing more than a guessing game with our money." And if anybody argues with you on that, refer them to me.

John in Idaho, "Lou, President Bush will pardon a turkey at Thanksgiving and yet he won't pardon our two border patrol agents, Ramos and Compean."

We'll have more of your e-mails here later in the broadcast. Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of my new book, "Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit", now available in paperback.

Up next, President Bush, the most unpopular president since polling began. We'll have that special report.

Corporate elites are already lobbying President-elect Obama to import even more cheap foreign labor to compete with American workers already hard pressed. Well, the president-elect was elected on a mandate of change. Will he change his policies when he's in the White House? A top presidential historian joins us next to give us some perspective and some -- some forecasts. We'll be right back.


ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion. Here again Mr. Independent, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Welcome back. President-elect Obama's visit to the White House today came as a new CNN Opinion Research poll shows President Bush to be more unpopular than any other president in modern history. The poll also shows more Americans than ever believe things are going badly in this country -- Bill Schneider with our report.



GEORGE SOROS, SOROS FOUNDATION: I think the economy is falling off the cliff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have two wars going on and we've got an economic crisis the likes of which we haven't seen since the great depression.

SCHNEIDER: Eighty-three percent of Americans say the country is in bad shape, that's more than in 1992, when the first President Bush was ousted because of the economy stupor. That's more than in 1980 when President Carter got fired after the Malaise crisis. That's more than in 1975 after Watergate and the Nixon pardon.

In fact, the public is in its worst mood since this question was first asked nearly 35 years ago. Who are they taking it out on, President Bush. Seventy-six percent of Americans disapprove of the job Bush is doing. That's a record. It's worse than President Clinton's low point in 1994. It's worse than his father's low point in 1992.

It's worse than Jimmy Carter's low point in 1979. It's worse even than Nixon during Watergate. Harry Truman held the previous record for the most unpopular president since World War II. President Bush has now broken that record by nearly 10 points. But wait, there's hope.

OBAMA: Immediately after I become president, I'm going to confront this economic crisis head-on by taking all necessary steps to ease the credit crisis, help hard-working families and restore growth and prosperity.

SCHNEIDER: While three-quarters of Americans believe President Bush is doing a lousy job, three-quarters believe President-elect Obama will do a good job. What's he going to do, exactly?

OBAMA: We are going to have to focus on jobs.

SCHNEIDER: Most people are not clear exactly, but they have great expectations.


DOBBS: Bill Schneider, our senior political analyst with that report. President-elect Obama is expected to use his executive powers now quickly to move his agenda forward when he takes office on January 20th. Joining me now, presidential historian Rick Shenkman, he's the best selling author of six books on American political history. His latest, "Just How Stupid Are We?: Facing the Truth about the American Voter". Good to have you with us.


DOBBS: Rick, let's turn to the meeting today between what is obviously a man considered to be by the American public, to be a failed president, and a man who brings with him great -- the hopes and aspirations of most Americans. This transition, do you expect it to be when we move to the substantive issues, do you expect it to be a smooth and orderly one?

SHENKMAN: Well do and it's because Obama seems to have learned the lessons of the transitions that went south. He's not repeating the mistakes of Carter and Clinton and both of them had the worst transitions in modern presidential history.

DOBBS: And why were those the worst?

SHENKMAN: Well, first of all, Obama, right now, has already gone ahead and he's started to fill out his White House staff. Both President Clinton and Carter, they put that off. Clinton first decided he was going to go pick his cabinet -- not until a week before the inauguration did he finally get around for instance to hiring a White House counsel.

He reversed the traditional practice and it led to enormous problems. In Jimmy Carter's case he had a problem where he had a campaign staff and he had a transition staff and they hated each other. Here we've got a case where Obama is already integrating both the transition staff and the campaign staff so he's off to a much better start.

DOBBS: His transition, his co-chairman, John Podesta leading the effort saying that President Obama when he takes office on January 20th will be using the executive orders and implying that it will be with some veracity, if you will, to reverse policies of the Bush administration, anything unusual in that approach?

SHENKMAN: No, it's what all presidents do. When President Bush came into office, within his first week, he was issuing executive orders. On the very first full day, he was in the job, January 21st, 2001 he went ahead and he issued this global gag order on abortion that the right-wing of the party was insisting on.

And even though it stepped on his message which was supposed to be education week, the right-wing wanted it, he gave it to them and they loved him for it. And the next week he had another one for them. He had the -- an executive order to establish a faith-based office inside the White House. And that was another winner for the right- wing and that is what presidents do when they come in. They try to appease their base right off the bat, make them feel good and happy and just pleased that they finally got their guy in.

DOBBS: Getting their guy in, your latest book, "Just How Stupid Are We With, Facing the Truth about the American Voter" you demonstrate that the American people get the campaign we deserve. Your thoughts on the campaign leading up to the election of the 44th president?

SHENKMAN: Well, I think it was a very distressing campaign, wasn't it? You had both sides really assuming that the American public didn't know very much and so, they were not going to pitch the political debate at a very high level. Obama pretty much stuck with generalizations and McCain, my god, he went off the rails where he was constantly insulting the intelligence of the public and it was rightfully so. He basically was saying if I go ahead and I imply that Barack Obama Hussein Obama isn't a Christian or my campaign staff does or we claim that he's palling around with terrorists, that the public is going to buy this. And a considerable percentage of the public did buy it. So it was a very distressing campaign.

Coming into the election, after months and months and months of repeated headlines about how Obama was a Christian and gone to the same church for 20 years, the Trinity Church in Chicago. And all the business with his controversial pastor, still in Ohio and Florida, almost 50 percent of the people believe that he was either a Muslim or they were not sure what religion he was. Now, that's problematic in a democracy where the people are in charge, they're supposed to know something.

DOBBS: It's also a reflection, is it not, on the national liberal media, without question, even now most recently, the Washington Post,, a number of news outlets are acknowledging that the national media was a part of the tank for Obama. But it really goes beyond that. The national media was basically derelict on its reporting for the campaign according to most critics. What do you think?

SHENKMAN: Well, I don't think this was the shining hour for the media. I think the media was made up of liberal reporters and they were happy to see Barack Obama come in. They haven't liked George Bush terribly much over the last few years although initially they certainly I don't want to say they were in the tank for him but they liked him personally and they gave him an advantage, certainly, over Al Gore in 2000. It's not quite the ideology is driving this. They were fairer to George Bush than they had been to Al Gore in 2000 even though they were liberal then. I think in this case they were sick and tired of the republicans and Obama seemed like a breath of fresh air.

DOBBS: Rick, your thoughts here. Are we going to see a left- wing president? Are we going to see Barack Obama take this country, decidedly, in a left-wing direction?

SHENKMAN: Well, this is really interesting. We don't know. This is one of the question marks about Barack Obama. He is such a good politician and seeming like an anti-politician, people don't really pigeon hole him as either left wing or a centrist moderate. So we'll sit back and we're going to find out. We're going to find out.

DOBBS: Well, indeed, we are. Thank you very much, Rick Shenkman. We appreciate it.

SHENKMAN: Thank you.

DOBBS: Up next, the battle over a second economic stimulus. We'll talk to three of the best political analysts in the country about what is a new direction.

And will President-Elect Obama work to save American jobs? Can he? Or will he be the outsourcer in chief? That report and a great deal more coming right up.


DOBBS: Well, the president-elect is already being pressured by lobbyists pushing for more foreign worker visas. The issue could be an early test of whether the new president will keep his campaign promises. The president-elect promised to fight for American workers, workers how would lose their jobs if more or cheap foreign labor is allowed into this country. Bill Tucker has our report.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President-Elect Barack Obama says he wants to see American workers put first.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT ELECT: We don't need another president who fights for Washington lobbyists and Wall Street. We need a president who stands up for hard working Americans on Main Street.

TUCKER: The h 1 b visa program might provide the first test if he means what he says. Lobbyists for high-technology companies are already pushing to expand the visa program for highly skilled workers. Compete America, a coalition of high tech companies and research institutions, is already reminding Obama of his campaign promise that he, quote, supports comprehensive immigration reform that improves the visa program. Such is the h 1 b program or as Obama put in it May of last year ...

OBAMA: Where we can bring in more foreign born workers with the skills our economy needs, we should.

TUCKER: Critics of the guest worker program argue there is no need to expand the h 1 b visa program. They point to a series of reports over the last 12 years by the government, pointing out serious problems with the h 1 b visa that congress has yet to fix, loopholes that allow employers to hire foreign guest workers before American workers, allow companies to pay h 1 b workers less than American workers, and allow companies to replace American workers with h 1 b workers.

RON HIRA, AUTHOR, "OUTSOURCING AMERICA": Obama talked about tax proposal eliminating the tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas. If he just fixed the loopholes in the h 1 b and l 1 b program he would have a lot more impact on stemming the flow of the jobs moving overseas than any of the tax proposals he's made.

TUCKER: Some 117,000 h 1 b visas with were issued in 2005, the last year for which there were figures.


TUCKER: And remember, the official cap is 65,000. Fellow Democrat Dick Durban from Obama's home state of Illinois has joined forces with Republican Chuck Grassley from Iowa to create a proposed legislation that would dramatically reform the h 1 b program but the only problem is a lot of h 1 b critics are convinced the trade off will mean an expanded h 1 b program.

DOBBS: It's hard to square up the president-elect's position on the American worker. And what appears to be, at least in this instance, the effort to put the American worker into direct competition with the cheapest labor in the world, which is --

TUCKER: He's said he'll do it. He has said that during the campaign. It will be interesting. He has two priorities apparently set up for conflict right now.

DOBBS: The Chamber of Commerce, and the Association of the Manufacturing have to be cheering him on. I don't suppose he's used to that, all right, thank you very much Bill Tucker.

A reminder to vote in our poll tonight. The question is, do you believe the Federal Reserve should be required to identify the recipients of the $2 trillion in rescue funds? Yes or no. We want to hear from you. Cast your vote at and we'll have the results coming up.

And a reminder to join me on the radio Monday through Friday for the Lou Dobbs Show. Tomorrow, my guest is Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota. Go to to get the local listings in your area for the Lou Dobbs Show. Up next, President-Elect Obama and President Bush holding their first meeting in the oval office today. The federal government, the fed spending $2 trillion of your money to bailout Wall Street but they won't say who got the money. Three of the best political analysts in the country join me next. We'll be discussing that and a great deal more.


DOBBS: Joining me now to three of the best political analysts, Keith Richburg, New York bureau chief, Washington Post, CNN contributor, syndicated columnist, Miguel Perez, also, professor of journalism at Lehman College here in New York, and James Freeman of Good of you all here.

Let's just turn to the transition issues. John Podesta, the co- chairman, he's suggesting that executive orders will be forthcoming to stop the ban -- lifting the ban on offshore drilling. Wouldn't this be a flip-flop on the part of Barack Obama?

KEITH RICHBURG, WASHINGTON POST: I think they were specifically talking about lifting the ban on drilling that was just ordered in an area of Utah that environmentalists say is a pretty sensitive area. I think it's part of what Obama wants to do which is make offshore drilling part of an entire energy strategy. Don't forget, that McCain during the campaign just said drill baby drill and Obama said I'm not opposed to drilling but I don't want to just drill. We have to have an entire energy approach.

DOBBS: Comprehensive?

RICHBURG: Comprehensive, solar, nuclear, wind energy, all part of a plan. Let's not just drilling.

DOBBS: Miguel, have we heard the comprehensive thing before?

MIGUEL PEREZ, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Yes. I think the problem is it may flip around on the president-elect. He is talking about stem cell research as one of the things he may want to flip on President Bush. Executive orders for this, that and the other. He has to pick his fight. He cannot be petty. If he's going to start by giving us the wrong signal about drilling or start by talking about something that can wait two or three weeks he needs to start with the things that are really important to the American people right now which is the economy and the war.

DOBBS: The most difficult issues of all.

PEREZ: Of course.

DOBBS: James, your thoughts?

JAMES FREEMAN, OPINIONJOURNAL.COM: If you paid attention during the campaign, both candidates --

DOBBS: I did intermittently. FREEMAN: We were all paying attention. It was pretty clear they were for cap and train. I think people kind of dialed in late to the idea that this means less oil, less gas and less coal and Sarah Palin was obviously part of the "drill, baby, drill" ticket but John McCain and Barack Obama were saying they would make energy more expensive so it's not really unexpected.

RICHBURG: Can I just add too, I think that the base, the people that got him there, the 52 percent of people that voted for him, they expect change. And they expect him to come in right away from the first day and do things not wait for congress. Health care plan, energy plan, a lot of this stuff will take months to get through congress. They want to see things right away.

DOBBS: You're kind of optimistic, aren't you?

RICHBURG: Months, if years. They want to see it right away. Stem cell research, abortion, closing Guantanamo, these are the things he can do the first week.

DOBBS: You mentioned the economy and that's one of the areas that will one of the most difficult. It was interesting as we watched our reporting over the course of the campaign, the way in which Senator Obama and Senator McCain talked about creating jobs and they're going to do this and they're going to do that. It's all but impossible for a president to bring to bear the creation of -- the real change when it comes to job creation, when it comes to changing the direction of an economy, isn't it, Miguel?

PEREZ: Absolutely. The thing is, look, you know, the president needs to have some kind of I'll go back to the same word "comprehensive" plan. We need a comprehensive economic financial crisis plan. We cannot come up with Band-Aids every five minutes. And unfortunately, we had $700 billion and we were told those $700 billion were going to solve most of our problems and now we hear it's just a smart part of many out bailouts that may come along the road. When does it end? I mean what is the total number? We the American people need to know that.

FREEMAN: You just hope that whatever the plan is it doesn't do more harm than good. I think a problem for Obama is that on the campaign, he seemed to be under the impression that we had come through a period of deregulation. As your viewers know, going back to 2000, 2002, when the feds were landing on the Arthur Anderson and every other company in that period, this was a period after Enron, of very heavy regulation. We see it in the financial markets. I think it's a danger if the premise is we had light regulation and now we need heavy?

DOBBS: You wouldn't be suggesting that the investment banks, Wall Street, was somehow honestly regulated over that time in the derivatives market?

FREEMAN: I am. I'm suggesting that it was poorly regulated not lightly regulated. DOBBS: We could talk about poorly regulated or lightly regulated but the fact is, when every hedge fund in this country moving hundreds of billions of dollars without regulation or oversight, when the derivative market is not understood by the agencies that would -- at least punitively regulate it, the commodity future's trading commission and the security's and exchange commission and the fed, I can't see how you could say he were not --

FREEMAN: The problem for politicians who want to blame light regulation and I know your -- I'm not talking about you but I'm saying the search continues for the evidence that derivatives are causing problem. I think the more you look at it what you realize is housing is what has created this problem and that is in market with very heavy government regulation and intervention, basically, driving the capital into the housing patient.

DOBBS: Keith, before we get into an issue of the number I was going to give you was one to 30 which is looking at the leverage ratio they were looking at, whether it was Lehman Brothers, whether we're talking about Bear Stearns, which is a massive, absurd level -- by the way, a conservative estimate --

FREEMAN: It seems that --

DOBBS: Before we get into this arcane nonsense which is nonsense now because we're paying a hell of a price for it -- none of these actions that have been taken, so far, resolved the situation for 4 million homeowners facing foreclosure, just about 2 million who have gone through foreclosure and 9 million Americans who are underwater in their homes; arguably, 15 million Americans underwater. Where is the relief? We're throwing trillions of dollars around here and the American taxpayer is a beneficiary.

RICHBURG: That's right. The root of the problem is the housing crisis, as you said. I think they really are at a loss about what to do. The theory is to prop up the overall economy first, get the stock market moving again, get out of the recession and then housing prices will gradually creep back up.

PEREZ: You would think that if that was the real problem, we would tackle that problem first and help the American homeowners losing their homes right now.

FREEMAN: Well, I don't think any solution will work without growth. We have to get the economy growing. We've gone months, the longest period since the '70s without an initial public offering in the United States. Both tax and regulatory, we have got to give incentives to entrepreneurs to create and grow and that's what will get us out of this mess and a lot people will stay in their homes.

DOBBS: We're going to be right back with our panel. Coming up at the top of the hour, Campbell Brown, "NO BIAS NO BULL," no Campbell either. John Roberts sitting in.

John? JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: We do have me. Thanks. In just a few minutes a no bull look at the Obama's return to Washington today. The latest readouts from their visit to the white house. Plus a look at the Bush executive orders that Obama can undo right away and a question as to whether he will. In our PDV, our political daily briefing, republicans who appear to be coming down with 2012 fever and a warning from a southern governor as to when they should throw their hats into the ring. The contenders may include Sarah Palin. She by the way is venting to our Gary Tuchman about what went wrong in this year's campaign. Plus, Michelle Obama goes school shopping while she's in Washington. We'll have it all for you coming up at the top of the hour.

DOBBS: The house shopping was taken care of on November 4th, wasn't it?

ROBERTS: One good thing about winning the presidency, you don't have to look for real estate.

DOBBS: Thank you John. Looking forward to it John Roberts. We'll be back with more with our panel and have your thoughts as well. Stay with us. We're coming right back.


DOBBS: We're back with Keith Richburg, Miguel Perez and James Freeman.

Miguel, the meeting today between the president-elect and President Bush, your thoughts?

PEREZ: Historic. Everything Obama does nowadays is historic. Look at the fact that he's visiting in a white house built by slaves. That's tremendous.

DOBBS: Today was the first day he had been in the oval office. I had no idea of that. That's quite a way to get introduced.

PEREZ: But let me tell you something else Lou. Remember, I was born in Cuba. The only -- this is so strange to me. This smooth transition of power. The only transition of power I saw was the revolution in 1959 so to me this is remarkable but it's also strange to see after everything Obama has said about George Bush during the last couple of years for these guys to get together now and shake hands and say, fine, we'll put this behind us because the country is first. It's really -- I'm proud to be an American when I see that.

DOBBS: We all are. And the one thing that I hesitate here is we have seen how whether you like him or dislike him, George W. Bush I believe has aged tremendously over the course his presidency. I believe Barack Obama has aged tremendously since the beginning of this year.

RICHBURG: I think that's right. Actually you've kind of seen him age a bit more. His victory speech in Chicago facing all those fans, it didn't have the kind of ringing victory speech -- DOBBS: Well you know what, Bill Schneider called it a movement early in the primary campaign. I had to apologize to him. I argued with him about that months and months ago. He's right. You're right. It's a movement.

RICHBURG: 200,000 people showing up in Grant Park. That's unprecedented for this kind of thing. Listen to his speech. It wasn't a rousing we did it. It was almost toning it down. You could see the seriousness. Now we got to do it.

Going back to that white house meeting, it's one of my favorite events after the election is watching that. No other country has that kind of shouting match of a campaign and then you see the two sides shaking hands. We saw it with Clinton and George H.W. Bush. Nasty campaign. You saw it again when Clinton handed it over to George Bush Junior.

DOBBS: Now as they say the shouting is done and the voting has ended. What is left is a mess. $2 trillion a Federal Reserve that who refuses to tell people who the recipients of those loans are. What is going on? This fed is out of control. This government is out of control.

FREEMAN: It seems bizarre in a free society.

DOBBS: This is not the country I signed up for or was born into to tell you the truth.

FREEMAN: It's a good question. Where does the money go? You have to balance that especially with banks there's a need for some discretion. We saw Senator Schumer earlier this year talking about a bank in trouble that subsequently failed. You don't want politicians to cause bank problems but at the same time I think that the essential question of not just where does the money go -- you want to know.

DOBBS: This isn't Russia. This isn't China. This is America. These idiots in Washington, D.C. better figure it out. I'm talking about Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson and by god in Barney Frank, Christopher Dodd, and these folks can't get on this, I think they will all be out of office and they should be.

FREEMAN: It's not just where the money is going but why? Because going back to the bailouts in March with Bear Stearns, we were given a basic explanation of systemic risk undefined. You would like to know who are the creditors to bear that they were worried about? Who are trading counterparts?

DOBBS: One of the most hollow charges in this entire campaign as both Barack Obama and John McCain signed up for the $700 billion rescue plan with $150 billion pork as added incentive was for John McCain to refer to Barack Obama as a socialist. This is insane.

RICHBURG: It was only sillier than lipstick on a pig. The thing is though the problem is we don't know the depth of this economic crisis. We still don't know. We don't know what banks are bad. We don't know who has bad assets on their books. It's all kind of trickling out. I mean just look at AIG. We thought it would cost one thing. Suddenly it's $150 billion.

DOBBS: It moved up from originally $85 to $123 to now $150 plus. We'll see. Miguel, thank you very much. Keith, thank you very much. James, appreciate you being here.

Let's go to the poll results. Only 99 percent of you say the Federal Reserve should be required to identify the recipients of the $2 trillion in rescue funds. We'll pass this along to our buddy, Hank Paulson, down at the Treasury Department, maybe Ben Bernanke at the fed, give then a little something to chew on, remind them what country they're living in. Thank you for voting.

Time now for some your thoughts. Let's turn to Penny in Florida first. "Now has come the time when all Americans need to start holding their elected official responsible for their actions or lack there of. Government for the people by the people needs to reestablish itself and quickly."

We thank you for being with us.

Up next, Campbell Brown "No Bias No Bull" John Roberts sitting in. Thanks for being with us.