Return to Transcripts main page

Lou Dobbs Tonight

Big Government; Budget Battle; Spending Outrage; Freedom under Assault; Free Speech Fight

Aired February 26, 2009 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, thank you. Tonight the American way of life, our Constitution, our individual rights under assault. President Obama today unveiled a massive new borrow, tax and spend budget, forecasting the federal deficit will soar to the highest level since World War II as a percentage of the economy.

The Obama administration stands accused of trying to destroy our Second Amendment rights to own and bear arms, in this case, in part, to appease the government of Mexico.

And Democrats and left wing activist groups are trying to take away your First Amendment rights to free speech with the so-called Fairness Doctrine. I call it the censorship doctrine. We'll have all of that, all the day's news and much more straight ahead right here.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Thursday, February 26th. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. President Obama today unveiled a huge federal budget that sharply expands government in this country. It is a fundamental shift in our economy that could possibly last for decades. All of this, as the Obama administration tries to tackle our worsening economic crisis, and the administration tries to advance what is by any definition an ambitious agenda.

The White House is selling its budget as the beginning of a new era of responsibility. But the Obama administration says the federal deficit this year will soar to more than 12 percent of our economy, the highest level since World War II. Next year, the federal government plans to spend 50 percent more money than it expects to receive in taxes -- Dan Lothian with our report from the White House.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the cliff's notes version of the federal budget. A roughly 140-page summary of how the government plans to spend 3.5 trillion taxpayer dollars.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This budget is an honest accounting of where we are and where we intend to go.

LOTHIAN: The budget includes investments in renewable energy, education and health care, 46 billion for education, 26 billion for energy, and 634 billion for a health care reserve fund aimed at overhauling the system. Add to all this, the president wants to cut the projected $1.7 trillion deficit in half by the end of his term, so how does the administration plan to make all this math add up?

Budget Director Peter Orszag says by closing corporate tax loopholes, winding down the war in Iraq, making government more efficient, and getting rid of tax cuts for people making more than $250,000. The administration is also planning to cut or phase out some programs like subsidies for wealthier farmers.

PETER ORSZAG, MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET DIR.: There's not a single line in the budget that won't have someone who cares about it very strongly. And yet if we allowed those -- all of those lines to persist and grow over time, we would wind up with a fiscal crisis.

LOTHIAN: But critics call this budget blueprint wealth redistribution. This is how the White House responded to that.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president campaigned on explicitly promising that he would cut taxes for 95 percent of working Americans if he was elected president. The president believes that we have a plan that will lead to long-term economic growth.


LOTHIAN: Now, the budget has an option to seek more bailout money, up to $750 billion. The administration says that they don't expect to use that money. But just want to have it there just in case. Lou?

DOBBS: Peter Orszag, Dan, suggesting that we might end up with a fiscal crisis if we don't follow the prescriptions. What does he suppose we're in already?

LOTHIAN: Well, they certainly do point out there's a crisis and you know one of the things that a lot of people are saying is that you know here you are, you know, running up this deficit. That's going to be a problem. Eventually you have this money that you have to pay back. And the way the administration will address that is that they say essentially when you're in the midst of a crisis, you can't worry about the deficit. You have to worry about putting money out there, getting the jobs going, getting the economy turning around.

DOBBS: Let's see. President Obama signs the biggest spending bill in American history, then Monday holds a summit on fiscal responsibility, then on a Thursday releases a budget that is the largest in percentage terms of our economy in history. I think I'm starting to get the idea now. Dan...

LOTHIAN: Makes your head spin, right?

DOBBS: Yes. Thanks very much, Dan. Dan Lothian from the White House.

Well a positive thing that we did notice in this budget, a proposal to spend more than $100 million to expand the E-Verify program. That is the most effective program against illegal immigration and because it is so effective, the Democratic leadership and the White House and special interest groups want to kill it. E- Verify is the system designed to make certain employers hire only workers who are legally in this country, and as we've reported here extensively, E-Verify is 99.6 percent effective. It is, without question, the most effective program in the country against illegal immigration.

Congressional Republicans tonight are seething at President Obama's budget proposal. Saying the era of big government has returned. Democrats want the American people to pay for it. No regrets from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, however, quite the reverse. She says the budget is in line with what she called our national values -- Dana Bash with our report.


DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president's budget director made a personal delivery to Capitol Hill...


BASH: ... a photo-op for the cameras, but also a reminder that Congress will decide the fate of President Obama's ambitious agenda. Lucky for him fellow Democrats are in charge.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: At long last a budget that is a statement of our national values, as a federal budget should be.

BASH: Congressional Democrats are especially eager to fulfill a major campaign promise. Pay for their priorities by repealing President Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. For example, couples making $250,000 a year and individuals making 200,000 will see their tax rate go up, from 36 percent to 39.6 percent. That would get the government an estimated $310 billion.

PELOSI: It's about ending a tax, a cut that should not have been there in the first place that contributed enormously to our deficit.

BASH: But Republicans standing on the other side of the deep philosophical divide argue it will cripple small business owners.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), BUDGET COMMITTEE: The notion that you raise taxes on the people who are most likely to create jobs in a recession. It just boggles our mind that they would actually try and pursue this sort of an economic agenda at this very time.

BASH: Republicans are also blasting the president's budget for not doing enough to cut spending.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: The era of big government is back, and Democrats are asking you to pay for it.

BASH: In fact, although Mr. Obama warned Congress about making tough choices to lower the deficit, his budget boosts government spending in many areas -- more for transportation, housing, energy, the environment, education and most of all, for the president's plan to overhaul the health care system.

MAYA MACGUINEAS, CMTE. FOR RESP. FEDERAL BUDGET: They're really not controlling spending any way that you would like to see it over the long term.


BASH: President Obama does call for some spending cuts. He wants to slash taxpayer subsidies for farm and agri business. And also trim benefits for Medicare recipients who are on the wealthier side of the pay scale. But Lou, those are probably just about the only things that we heard today from Republicans that they like in the president's budget.

DOBBS: All right. Dana, thank you very much -- Dana Bash from Capitol Hill.

Well as our lawmakers talk about budgets for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 180,000 of our troops are in harm's way; about 140,000 in Iraq, almost 40,000 more in Afghanistan. Today the Pentagon decided to lift its ban on media coverage of our fallen troops when their flag-draped caskets return to America.

But officials say any coverage must be first approved by the service members' families. Americans strongly support this shift in policy. Two-thirds of all Americans say the government should allow the public to see those caskets return home at Dover Air Force base in Delaware.

Still ahead here, much more on the new federal budget, also this nation's top law enforcement officer, Attorney General Eric Holder, wants to destroy your constitutional right to bear arms.

And outrage over the Obama administration's decision to give taxpayer money to La Raza (ph) again. La Raza (ph), by the way, one of the country's most outspoken pro amnesty open-borders groups. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: The 200-pound chimpanzee who mauled a woman in Connecticut last week has been cremated. The 14-year-old chimp was shot and killed by police. And the victim of his attack remains in a medically induced coma at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Authorities have not yet said whether the chimp's owner faces criminal charges.

Mexico's president today denied that Mexico is a failed state. President Felipe Calderon said his government has not lost control of any part of Mexican territory to the warring drug cartels. President Calderon said the United States should do more to fight corruption north of the border, and Mexico's Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora (ph), today said he believes drug cartel violence is in his words melting down, both officials talking to The Associated Press. More than 7,000 Mexican citizens have been killed in drug violence since January of last year, 1,000 of them this year alone. A Texas man is in custody tonight for running a multimillion dollar marijuana operation out of his home. Gerald Jackson (ph) was arrested by federal and local task force this morning in a raid on his home just outside Houston. Authorities recovered 120 marijuana plants, a drug enforcement administration spokesperson telling us the operation produced about $2 million of marijuana a year.

Up next here, the Obama administration facing accusations it's plotting to take away your Second Amendment rights, and our right to own and bear arms. We'll tell you how this grandmother repelled intruders trying to ransack her home, and she did it very effectively. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: New complaints about the earmarks and the pork barrel projects in the new government spending bill, special interest groups like La Raza (ph) are receiving taxpayer money, your money from the so-called stimulus plan. Now they're in line to get more money to benefit from President Obama's new spending bill. Lisa Sylvester reports. Lisa?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the omnibus bill that the House passed is full of giveaways to special interest groups and among the earmarks is $950,000 for the La Raza (ph) development fund. They are affiliated with the National Council of La Raza (ph). That's a non profit that has been lobbying Congress for comprehensive immigration reform amnesty and they are not the only ones that stand to gain.

One hundred eighty-one million dollars is in the massive spending bill for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation. That's an organization that has given money in the past to groups like ACORN, which Lou, as you know, has been under investigation for voter fraud and whose founder has been caught up in an embezzlement scandal involving his brother. Now Republicans including Representative Steve King (ph) are hopping mad that your taxpayer money is going to these organizations.


REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: La Raza (ph) in particular, they are a pro-amnesty group. They're an organization that is an apologist for illegal aliens and they seek to promote amnesty in every piece of the policy that they push and here we are appropriating directly to La Raza (ph). I think it's directly a payoff. It clearly is a payoff to this administration and to the Democrats that are in the majority that control the gavels that write these bills in the dark of the night.


SYLVESTER: Now, I spoke to the National Council of La Raza (ph) and they say the money is going to the development fund separate from their organization and will go to promote affordable housing, health clinics and charter schools adding quote, "These are all services that improve the lives of many Americans." Now ACORN says the $181 million that is earmarked for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation that yes, they could benefit from that, but they would have to compete against every other nonprofit in the United States. And lawmakers who are critical say why when this country is in the middle of a fiscal crisis are we even handing money away to these special interest groups in the first place. Lou?

DOBBS: And the answer is?

SYLVESTER: The answer is it's Congress and this is the way Washington works. Now, we know President Obama came in and said they were going to clean things up, but well, we haven't seen that so far, Lou.

DOBBS: Well it's only been about six weeks, so we've got to be very patient when you're going to reform what is -- the Democrats now have their own culture of corruption to go along with the Republican culture of corruption and the idea that federal taxpayer money is going to special interest groups it just sort of completes the circle for Washington, D.C. Thank you very much, Lisa. Lisa Sylvester.

Time now for some of your thoughts -- Anna in Texas said: "I just wonder if the government is going to run out of paper before they get through printing all of the money they're spending."

Lee in Texas: "Lou, the Mexican government saying they have sufficient assets to manage the border is like saying that bubble gum is sufficient to stem a leak in the Hoover Dam."

And Mark in Florida: "Lou, I'll be happy to turn in my guns, bullets first."

We love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts to

At a time when we're talking about our right to bear arms in this country and the Second Amendment is now under assault, a feisty 70- year-old woman in Ohio couldn't have done any better if she had an assault rifle. Ellen Basinski fought off four teenagers who broke into her home and she did it all with a saucepan. Basinski was on the phone with her husband when those teens forced their way inside her house. The teens then started ransacking Ellen's purse and cabinets. That's when she grabbed her favorite five-quart saucepan and started swinging.


ELLEN BASINSKI, HOMEOWNER: And I whacked him. And he came up and looked at me like, lady, why did you do that? And I hit him again. It is a good swing. I mean, I'm from good stock.


DOBBS: She is from good stock and a great American. We're proud of her. The teens fled that house with a wallet containing just about $10, I'm told. They were arrested a short time later. Another outrageous example of our tax dollars being wasted, a state audit in the state of Kentucky found three executives at Lexington's Blue Grass Airport (ph) racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in so-called personal expenses and passed it all off to taxpayers. Here are just a few examples that you thought you might enjoy.

More than $700 spent on Hannah Montana concert tickets, more than $1,200 were spent on Nintendo Wii video game systems, 4,400 bucks at a strip club -- there's nothing cheap there -- $7,400 for a NASCAR driving excursion. That was described as -- I like this part and I'm sure you will, too -- that was described as team building.

In three years, airport officials spent more than half a million dollars on highly questionable expenses. Kentucky State auditors say the executives displayed quote, "arrogance and a lack of ethical standards." They also displayed some considerable imagination with their expense reports.

Up next your constitutional rights are under assault, Democrats and left wing advocates, well they want to reintroduce the so-called Fairness Doctrine. I call it the censorship doctrine, trying to muzzle free speech. And none other than the attorney general of the United States wants to trample on our Second Amendment rights to own and bear arms. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Outrage tonight over claims the Obama administration is trying to weaken our rights under the Second Amendment. As we reported to you here yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder is willing to sacrifice our gun ownership rights under the Constitution for the benefit of a foreign government, in this case Mexico. The attorney general, who apparently thinks we're a nation of cowards when it comes to race, seems to believe that we're also a nation of cowards and fools when it comes to our constitutional rights. Bill Tucker has the report. Bill.

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, to say that the attorney general set off a firestorm among gun owners and those who believe in our Second Amendment rights to bear arms might be an understatement. This is what Attorney General Holder had to say yesterday.


ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: As President Obama indicated during the campaign, there are just a few gun related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons. I think that will have a positive impact in Mexico, at a minimum.


TUCKER: Now there are lots of things that are offensive to gun owners and some national security experts about their quote starting with there's no evidence that banning semiautomatic firearms would stem the drug cartel violence in Mexico.


FRED BURTON, STRATFOR: You can shut the door of the weapons flowing south all you want. They have the financial resources inside of Mexico to acquire these weapons through the gray arms up through Guatemala, from Belgium, from Israel, from China, from South Korea.


TUCKER: Now what often confuses people in this debate outside of the gun community is the use of the phrase assault weapons, the phrase often conjures up images of automatic weapons or machine gun fire, for example. You might be interested to know those types of guns have been heavily regulated since 1934. And in 1986 President Reagan took the law even further, making it illegal to own or possess an automatic weapon that was not made or registered before May of 1986.

When Attorney General Holder and President Obama used the phrase assault weapons, they're referring to semiautomatic guns that are styled to look like they're fully automatic military counterparts. Now, President Clinton had signed a law banning such guns, but that law expired in 2004. And Lou, just how big a tempest in the teapot this caused -- Attorney General Holder's comments caused? It was evident today in the House where House Speaker Pelosi could not back away from the comments fast enough, throwing cold water on it saying maybe we ought to start with just enforcing the gun laws we have right now.

DOBBS: Enforcing the ones that we do have. Eric Holder making it very clear that it's one of the reasons that he was -- well, gun ownership groups all over the country opposing him and then here in less than -- in just over a month in office, he is out doing exactly what they feared he would do. And by the way, we should point out, Eric Holder obviously does not know anything about which he's speaking when it comes to Mexico.

TUCKER: Right.

DOBBS: Because the Mexican government will not even provide serial numbers that they say come from American weapons that have brought -- been brought in from the United States, leading a lot of people in law enforcement to think that they're lying through their lovely little teeth on this issue. Not providing the serial numbers. No one can figure out why they won't provide those serial numbers.

TUCKER: Well and as you well know, and we reported here often, they're often armed with weapons that were issued by the Mexican military.

DOBBS: Absolutely and there again, Eric Holder has no empirical basis for anything he's saying. The man is completely at sea on this. And by the way, again, believes that the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights is the only non-individual right amendment.

TUCKER: Right. DOBBS: He believes it's a collective right, which obviously would overturn 200 years of history as well as a subtle law and the Supreme Court decision of last year.

Well, that brings us to the question of our poll tonight. Are you surprised we now have an attorney general who is willing to abandon our Bill of Rights in favor of a foreign government? Yes or no? Cast your vote at We'll have the results here later in the broadcast.

The Senate today gave a Second Amendment victory of sorts to the residents of Washington, D.C. The Senate adopted an amendment to the D.C. Voting Rights Act that could lead to the repeal -- the repeal of a restrictive gun control law passed by the D.C. City Council. The D.C. Voting Rights Act gives citizens of the District one voting member of the House of Representatives.

Well it's not just the Second Amendment that's in jeopardy. Your First Amendment rights to free speech also under assault. A group of congressional Democrats want to bring back the Fairness Doctrine 20 years after it was abolished, the so-called Fairness Doctrine that we call here the censorship doctrine.

Senator Jim DeMint joins us now. His amendment opposing the Fairness Doctrine today was passed overwhelmingly in the Senate. But then the Democrats led by Dick Durbin of Illinois countered with an amendment. It passed as well -- Senator DeMint, great to have you with us.

SEN. JIM DEMINT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Lou, thank you. This is a victory for free speech and I think you and others helped engage the American people. And we shamed a lot of senators into voting against that archaic Fairness Doctrine.

DOBBS: That vote was 87-11. I am struck by some of the names who voted, however, against your amendment including a fellow I think is terrific, Byron Dorgan, senator from North Dakota, Kent Conrad, Senator Jeff Bingaman from New Mexico, all of them either Independent in the case of Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the rest all Democrats. Why in the world would they not support your amendment?

DEMINT: Well, I think we're starting to see some of the, I guess underlying agenda of the Democratic Party, particularly with the Second Amendment that Durbin introduced that gives the FCC the ability to basically intervene with 14,000 radio stations, really any communications media, and to question them about their ownership, does it have enough diversity. Now his amendment doesn't affect mine. I think we killed the Fairness Doctrine, at least for now. But this other amendment shows that they really do intend to impose their opinions on what radio talk show and probably shows like yours can actually say.

DOBBS: And how would that work?

DEMINT: Well, the -- their amendment allow or really encourages the FCC, it actually says, they shall promote and encourage a diversity of ownership of communication media, so it's not just radio talk shows. And how they interpret diversity of ownership, we don't know, so it's vague and open. And it creates the opportunity for threats of lawsuits, threats by the FCC. We don't know how it will come down.

But we do know that it's not something the federal government should be involved with. And diversity could mean any kinds of things. If you don't express a diversity of opinion, they may go after your ownership. That's another way to get at stifling free speech. So we don't know what it means, but we're going to keep an eye on it.

DOBBS: No one seems to know what it means, but no on -- that didn't keep anybody from voting on it in the United States Senate. I mean, how pitiful is that?

DEMINT: Well, all the Republicans voted against it. And all the Republicans voted also against the fairness doctrine. So, the one thing we're seeing here, Lou, is the Republicans are starting to stand together on some key constitutional issues, just like the gun-rights issue.

It's not our opinion, it's really the constitution we take an oath to. So, we had a couple of victories on the First and Second Amendment, as you mentioned. But this is just a start. We've got a lot of battles ahead of us. And it's clear the Democrats are intent on challenging our constitutional rights.

DOBBS: Well, this administration is not wasting any time at all. Because this is a straightforward assault on the Second Amendment. I find what Eric Holder did, I mean, this man has not wasted any time at all. Takes on the country, says that we're a nation of cowards when it comes to the issue of race. This is the first African-American attorney general of the United States, in the administration of the first African-American president in this country's history.

Then says he's going to tear up the Second Amendment because of his personal interpretation of the Second Amendment. Somebody needs to straighten this fellow out.

DEMINT: We do. The only oath of office that we take, Lou, is to protect and defend the Constitution. And what Holder's doing and what we're seeing in Congress is just throwing out the Constitution and substituting our own intentions, good intentions, our own compassion. And Holder, particularly in his position, should be upholding the law and the Constitution. So, this is a little worrisome at this point.

DOBBS; All right. Senator Jim DeMint, let's hope you're right about, first, the battle that's been joined, and we do take some considerable satisfaction in the fact your amendment passed by an overwhelming margin. Let's hope that is the final result here, if you will.

DEMINT: Thank you.

DOBBS: Senator DeMint, thank you so much. And we want to hear from you about these issues. Do you feel your rights to free speech and to bear arms are being threatened? We'd love to know about that. And we'd like to ask you to grab your camera. Send us a video. Click on the iReport link on Send us your thoughts, your video. We'd love to hear it.

Your video responses could be used on our broadcast and will be used on our broadcast, if they bring forward an image and a voice that the country needs to hear. So, please try that. Just go to our Web site,, click on the iReport and fire away.

Up next, new questions about the Obama administration's commitment to enforcing laws, particularly the immigration laws. And hate crimes? A new report says they're on the rise. The FBI says bull. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Immigration agents this week conducted the first worksite raid since President Obama took office. But the raid was news to the agents' boss, apparently, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. The secretary is now demanding a review of that operation. That's raising serious questions about this administration's commitment to enforcement of immigration laws. Casey Wian with our report.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Immigration and customs enforcement agents raided this Bellingham, Washington, factory Tuesday, acting on a tip from two gang members. Twenty-eight suspected illegal aliens were arrested. Instead of applauding a job well done, one California lawmaker is demanding answers from the Obama administration about why some American workers allegedly were temporarily detained.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D), CALIFORNIA: Seventy-five ICE agents in riot gear at 9 a.m. raided the plant and detaineed 126 workers -- most of them were United States citizens -- and held them for a number of hours.

JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I did not know about it beforehand. So, I've asked a number of questions about what was the predicate for this. Now, there's a lot of different allegations going around: Was it 70, was it 40, was it 30, what were they wearing? There were earlier allegations that helicopters were used. They were not.

But I want to get to the bottom of this as well. So, I've already issued those directives to ICE to get me some answers.

WIAN: Some within ICE and Congress are concerned that Napolitano's response could have a chilling effect on future workplace raids. The Obama administration has stated it wants to focus those raids on employers, not workers. REP. LAMAR SMITH (R), TEXAS: What I'm really concerned about is that they want to stop the worksite enforcement actions that have been increasing and are one of the real highlights of our efforts to try to save American jobs for American workers.

WIAN: From 2006 through 2008, ICE made more than 15,000 criminal and administrative arrests at workplaces in the United States, nearly six times as many as during the previous three years. But advocates of legalizing the status of illegal aliens are trying to stop those raids. Friday, a Los Angeles federal judge dismissed the deportation case against one of 130 illegal aliens apprehended last year at the Microsolutions printer cartridge factory, ruling ICE had no grounds to make the arrest.


WIAN (on camera): The ACLU, which represents the illegal alien, says as many as 50 others are making the same claim. ICE is appealing the ruling and said it abided by the terms of a search warrant. Now, to be clear, there has been no official change in policy governing how ICE conducts those worksite raids, but there are signs change could be coming -- Lou.

DOBBS: I wonder how many people are paying attention to what is happening here. Left-wing groups are taking over. I mean, literally, they are taking over the government, interfering with the direction of government, the enforcement of existing law, because of an ideological agenda. And it's that straightforward.

WIAN: Lou, I've got to tell you, I spoke to a lot of former ICE officials today. Very concerned about this. They're talking to their colleagues still within ICE. They're very concerned about what kind of a signal this is going to send and whether the Obama administration is basically going to throw up its hands and stop enforcing immigration laws at workplaces.

Because they point out that it's fine to go after the employers, but you need to make those cases. You need to go after the illegal aliens as well to prove that the employers are hiring them.

DOBBS: And when the boss, in this case Janet Napolitano, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, is flailing her arms around in obvious solidarity with the questioner there, Zoe Lofgren, the Congresswoman from California, I mean, if that isn't a chilling influence on every ICE agent, I don't know what would be. Talk about conduct unbecoming, that certainly would be it.

Thank you very much, Casey Wian. We appreciate it.

Well, the Southern Poverty Law Center tonight. They're back. They're claiming there's an increase in the number of hate groups in this country, and a number of media organizations are just lapping it all up. They say there are now nearly 1,000 active hate groups in this country. That would be an increase from last year.

The problem is, those numbers don't tell the story. In fact, they could be an outright distortion. Kitty Pilgrim has our report -- Kitty.

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Southern Poverty Law Center says absolutely hate crime -- hate groups in America are growing. They say the debate over immigration, the recession and the election of Barack Obama, the first black president, is animating more hate groups. But the director of the Southern Poverty Law Center today admitted there are no data on the increased recruitment of hate groups.


MARK POTOK, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: It is a kind of perfect storm of factors that at the very least favors the growth of these groups. You know, whether they are actually able to translate all of these things into recruitment, you know, we have yet to see.


PILGRIM: Now, we talked to the FBI today about the report. The FBI does not recognize the term "hate group." They told us they do not monitor individuals or groups of individuals based on what they think or they say, or because a group or individual espouses a cause. It's only when a line is crossed and when an act of violence is committed.

Now, by that measure, hate crimes are going down. The FBI uses data collected by state and local law-enforcement agencies, and this is what we've found. In 1995, hate crimes totaled 7,974. In 2007, 12 years later, they totaled 7,624. That's a decline of 4 percent.

Meanwhile, the U.S. population rose 16 percent in that period of time. So, hate crimes are definitely declining, according to the FBI. And it's interesting, Lou, what the Southern Poverty Law Center defines as a hate group. They say it's based on ideology. It's not based on action. If you're included in this group, it's not based on criminality or violence or future...

DOBBS: Define a hate group, according to them.

PILGRIM: They say it's any group that thinks less of some other group, that thinks that they're inferior. That's their broadest definition, based on ideology, and that's how they define it.

DOBBS: Well, you know, that would not be an appropriate (ph) way to look at any group. But at the same time, one wonders how Mark Potok, the head of the Southern Poverty Law Center, could say that conditions favor the growth of hate groups, but they have no proof of recruitment. This is -- I mean, that's pretty pitiful, really. And I know a number of news organizations picking up and going with this, because they think it's a ratings-grabber.

PILGRIM: You really have to push this report to say, what are they really saying here. They're including nonviolent groups with violent groups. The definition is so utterly fuzzy on "hate group" that...

DOBBS: Which obviously the FBI, the Justice Department rejects.

PILGRIM: They absolutely do.

DOBBS: All right. Thank you very much. Kitty Pilgrim.

Well, coming up here next, the nation's governors are divided over the stimulus bill. Governor Phil Bredesen and Governor Tim Pawlenty among those who will join us to talk about this and what this all means for the folks who have to run the state government. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Small number of governors, both Republican and Democratic, say they reject portions of this federal stimulus package. In a moment, I'll be talking with Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota. First we're talking with Governor Phil Bredesen. He's a Democrat of Tennessee. He is also saying he may refuse stimulus money to extend unemployment benefits because of the impact on his state. Governor, great to have you with us.

GOV. PHIL BREDESEN (D), TENNESSEE: Great being back with you.

DOBBS: Governor, this is unusual. Most of the governors that are saying that they're going to reject this stimulus money -- you're doing so because -- well, they're being accused of rejecting it because of partisan grounds, as well as saying it's going to add onerous burdens to their budgets. Your reasons?

BREDESEN: Well, first of all, I want to be real clear. I mean, I think the stimulus is a good thing. And there's a lot of very good things it's going to do for Tennessee, in jobs and in building infrastructure and setting us up.

There's one narrow piece of it that I want to make sure we can afford going forward. It's $141 million in Tennessee. I don't think there's any, you know, problem if a governor wants to take a couple weeks and just make sure that we can continue to afford this in the future.

I hope we can, because we have a lot of people hurting. I want to get money into their hands.

DOBBS: Absolutely.

BREDESEN: But I also want to do it in a sensible way.

DOBBS: And what you're referring to is raising the -- extending and raising the unemployment benefits, correct?

BREDESEN: Yes. There's a section of this which asks us if we receive the money, that we have to broaden the benefits and broaden some of the rules and carry them forward, I think it's ten years into the future. And again, you know, we have a situation in mortgages in this country, for example, where a lot of people, you know, bought a house they couldn't afford, and we're going to deal with the costs somewhere in the future.

And I think I learned something from that, which is just be careful about these things. Make sure you know what you're getting into. I think we can get through this. I think we'll be able to accept this money, but I want to do it carefully.

DOBBS: I just want to caution you, if I may, Governor. In your being careful here and actually reading the legislation and trying to understand its impact, you realize, of course, you're separating yourself from 435 congressman and 100 senators in Washington, D.C., correct?

BREDESEN: Well, yes. But that's a good thing, is it not?


DOBBS: Absolutely. So, what has been the reaction? Are you getting pressure to just go on? Everyone's been saying, don't -- you know, the Obama administration has said to Congress and the Democratic leadership, don't think, don't discuss it, don't do anything, just sign -- you know, just vote and get this thing moving. Are you getting the same kind of pressure?

BREDESEN: No, I think there's been a little concern that maybe people on the other side of the aisle are, you know, using this as an example in a way that it really isn't. I'm for the stimulus package. I'm going to use 99 percent of it for sure, and I hope 100 percent of it.

I'm not objecting to it in principle. I think it's an intelligent thing to do at this point in our economic history. But I want to walk carefully and make sure I know what I'm doing.

DOBBS: Well, one of the issues here that a lot of people are perhaps not aware of is, you're on the short list for secretary of health and human services. Do you think this may in effect be altering your career path?

BREDESEN: Maybe that was last week.


BREDESEN: No, I'm honored to be considered, and I certainly don't have any troubles with the White House over this.

DOBBS: All right. Well, Governor Bredesen, we appreciate you being here. Thank you so much.

BREDESEN: It's great being with you, Lou. Thanks.

DOBBS: Well, Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota is a fierce critic of the spending package. He's decided to accept the stimulus money for his state. Governor Pawlenty joins me now from Minneapolis. Governor, good to have you with us as always.

GOV. TIM PAWLENTY (R), MINNESOTA: Always great to be with you, Lou.

DOBBS: You and Governor Bredesen coming at this from different perspectives but seem to have arrived at a very similar place. Are you concerned about the extension on unemployment and the broadening of unemployment benefits?

PAWLENTY: In Minnesota's case, Lou, we've already modernized our unemployment system in the way that the federal government is requesting, and we already give the benefits, and have for years, that the federal government is envisioning in this bill. So, it's not like the other states. We can easily meet the standards that they are putting forth in the bill.

DOBBS: And your concerns?

PAWLENTY: Well, my concern is this. I supported a stimulus bill. I just don't think this one was very well done. It wasn't targeted. It wasn't focused. It wasn't disciplined.

It should have put cash into individuals' pockets instead of big programs and enterprises. It should have focused on immediate tax cuts more than it did and bread-and-butter infrastructure projects. We're going to take the money because Minnesota's paying the bill. We pay way more into the federal government than we get out.

DOBBS: What percentage, 20 percent, 30 percent more?

PAWLENTY: For every dollar we send in, we get 72 cents back, and using that formula, we get the fifth-least amount on that formula of any state in the nation. And the other thing I would just point out is the governors who are saying they might not take this money, it's one or 2 percent of the money because of a unique unemployment concern in their state. They're still going to take 98 percent of the money.

DOBBS: Yes, and some of your colleagues, the Republican governors, do you think they're ultimately going to take the money, period, without condition?

PAWLENTY: There are a few who've raised the unemployment issue, but you shouldn't lose the forest through the trees. It's only 2 percent of the overall money. They're still going to take 98 percent. So yes, the answer to your question is yes.

DOBBS: Well, one of the most vocal critics of this is -- and I think some people were surprised -- the governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, when he delivered the Republican response, if you will. Let's all listen in to what he had to say. Jindal made this comment.


GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: We oppose the national Democratic view that says the way to strengthen our country is to increase dependence on government. We believe the way to strengthen our country is to restrain spending in Washington, to empower individuals and small businesses to grow our economy and create jobs.


DOBBS: Your reaction, Governor?

PAWLENTY: Well, I think those are good principles, and Lou, we're missing the bottom of the iceberg and looking only at the tip. The stimulus bill is important, but as you know, there are trillions of dollars being spent in monetary policy, FDIC actions, Treasury actions and the like. Those are good principles.

A stimulus could have been helpful. This one should have been a lot better. I don't like this stimulus bill, but for the reasons I mentioned, we're going to take the money in Minnesota.

DOBBS: One of the other areas that is not receiving a lot of attention is the fact that the Obama administration has not adjusted or has in fact said it will not be adjusting any of the treaties that during the campaign, then-candidate Obama said he would as president.

We are looking at millions of jobs that have been lost. We are looking at a manufacturing base that is being decimated, and there are no incentives of any kind being either discussed or articulated by this administration or the congressional leadership to restore manufacturing and good-paying jobs. Can there really be such a thing as stimulus without those incentives?

PAWLENTY: Lou, I think there's something very illustrative of the point that you're making that is quite alarming. And that is the fact that our U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, was recently in China on rhetorical bended knee, pleading with the Chinese to continuing to buy our debt. As a country, a republic that's a democracy, we are beholden to a communist country to continue to buy our debt.

That is one example of the kind of entanglements that are unhealthy for our country. We have got to get control of the spending. The only way to do it is to get a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget on the spending side. And on the trade side, we've got unfair relationships that our federal government's going to have to straighten out.

DOBBS: Governor, we thank you very much. Good to have you with us. Governor Tim Pawlenty.

PAWLENTY: Thank you, Lou. Thank you.

DOBBS: We're going to come right back. And when we do, we'll have tonight's poll results and more of your thoughts. Stay with us.


DOBBS: And our poll results tonight, 75 percent of you say you're not surprised that we now have an attorney general who is willing to abandon our rights in favor of a foreign government. Imagine that, three-fourths responding. You might have noticed that the national liberal media hasn't even taken up the issue, again an issue you will find here on the LOU DOBBS TONIGHT show. And let's take a look now at some of your thoughts. Sharon in Kentucky said, "Lou, I can't believe that Americans are dying to help other countries gain democracy while our freedoms and rights here at home are under attack."

Bill in New Jersey said, "What is this Constitution thing you keep referencing? Not that old document we used to rule the country with, is it?" It is, indeed. And Katie in Michigan: "I am with you, Lou. Where can we rent those bulldozers to push the U.N. out of our country?" I was actually serious about that, too.

Bill in Ohio: "As a Christian, I'd feel safer with the atheist Mr. Hitchens governing than I would the U.N. and its totalitarian, anti-American agenda." Quite a choice.

Send us your thoughts to, and a reminder to join me on the radio Monday through Friday for "The Lou Dobbs Show." Go to to get your local listings for this show. And join us 2 to 4 p.m. here in New York on WOR-710.

Thanks for being with us. Good night from New York. CNN's special, "BLACK IN AMERICA" starts right now.