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Lou Dobbs Tonight

A House Divided; Obama Pushes Health Care Plan; Jackson's Death Investigation; Bringing Jobs Back

Aired July 28, 2009 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Wolf. Good evening, everybody.

Tonight defiance on Capitol Hill. Conservative Democrats refusing to be intimidated by the White House or the House leadership on the issue of health care. So-called Blue Dog Democrats now demanding tough measures to cut the cost of the president's trillion dollar health care plan.

Also President Obama's poll numbers sinking. We'll examine what's driving the president's poll numbers lower. And all that in our "Face Off" debate tonight with two of the nation's leading pollsters.

Law enforcement agencies searching the Las Vegas home and office of Michael Jackson's personal doctor as the investigation into the pop star's death is intensifying. We'll have a live report for you.

We turn first to the House Democrats who remain bitterly divided over the president's health care plan. Conservative Democrats are demanding sweeping cost savings. White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel today went to Capitol Hill. He went up there trying to break a deadlock but it looks highly unlikely that the House will pass the health care legislation by the president's date of August 1st, a date the president had called the people's deadline -- Dana Bash reports now from Capitol Hill.


DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One after another conservative House Democrats emerged from a strategy session determined not to let up on their rebellion against their own party's health care plan.

REP. BARON HILL (D), INDIANA: We're not there yet and our biggest concern is making sure that we control costs. We're not ready to support a bill yet.

BASH: That was the refrain of many in the 52-member conservative Blue Dog Coalition, a Democratic group big enough to dash their party leaders' hopes for a health care vote this week.

REP. STEPHANIE HERSETH SANDLIN (D), SOUTH DAKOTA: The members of the Blue Dog Coalition are more united than I've ever seen (INAUDIBLE) and I think it's because health care reform goes to the heart of our core principle fiscal responsibility. BASH: Meanwhile Democratic senators who already gave up hope of passing a health care bill before summer recess are still struggling to find compromise but they were upbeat after marathon closed door negotiations.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I think we're really making progress. I feel relatively confident that we're going to be able to come together.

BASH: In fact Democratic senators say they are coalescing around John Kerry's idea for how to control medical costs and help pay for expanded health coverage imposing a tax on insurance companies, the high cost, so-called Cadillac plan. Senators haven't settled on details, but one possibility is taxing plans worth $25,000 or more, which could generate $90 billion in revenue.

SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: It is a way, as many of us have sought to do, to make sure this country stops subsidizing Cadillac coverage. I think it is wonderful that in a free country you can buy as many designer smiles as you want, but you shouldn't be able to buy those designer smiles with tax subsidized dollars.


BASH: And the senators negotiating are continuing to push forward on something that's been on the bipartisan negotiating table for some time and that is a cooperative or co-op plan. That is something very different from what the president wanted, which is a government run insurance plan to compete with private insurers. Several Democratic senators, Lou, outside the meetings today, they told us that certainly they agree with the president. They would prefer a public option, but they also say to get a bill through the Senate they had to compromise and that government-run insurance plan is something that they will probably have to compromise on.

DOBBS: Is that a compromise that in conference would end up being precisely what the president is asking for?

BASH: Oh, you've been to this rodeo before haven't you Lou?

DOBBS: I have indeed.

BASH: You know it's possible. It's possible and that will ultimately really be determined by what those conservative Democrats both in the House and in the Senate, how tough they are on this issue. Because it's really interesting, part of the reason why the government-run insurance plan isn't on the table in those bipartisan negotiations is because Republicans don't want it, the ones who they are trying to keep in the fold.

But it's not just Republicans. I've talked to several conservative Democrats who say they are not that comfortable with it either. So that is another reason why it's not in it right now. Unclear if the president will be able to get it back later.

DOBBS: What are the chances that Democrats will abandon their efforts to push this health care plan through. Vividly we have the House speaker's image framed in our minds and her words that she will take the vote this week and she will win. What's the deal now?

BASH: Well you know the Republicans are pushing around an e-mail that was written by and forwarded and distributed by a Republican staffer insisting that they have been informed by the House Democratic leadership that they won't have a vote this week that Congress, particularly the House, will go home for an August recess without a vote. But that certainly seems to be the way they are heading.

Having said that, Lou, Democratic leaders insist that it has not formally been decided. And as we speak they are meeting with those conservative Democrats and the White House chief of staff trying to come up with a deal. It does seem to be that they are not going to come up with a deal or certainly a House vote by the end of the week but they are saying that the decision hasn't formally been made.

DOBBS: It's quite a distance from we will win to we haven't got a decision. All right, thanks very much, Dana Bash. We've wrapped just in time here. Thanks a lot.

BASH: Thank you.

DOBBS: President Obama today ignoring that deadlock in Congress and again trying to sell his health care plan. The president today trying to convince older Americans to support his health care proposal at a town hall teleconference organized by the AARP. Dan Lothian has the report from the White House.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eighty- six-year-old Army veteran Eugene Schotthoefer (ph) has no complaints about his health care coverage but he does worry about what an overhaul will mean for his kids and grandchildren.

EUGENE SCHOTTHOEFER, DETROIT, MICHIGAN: The load that's going to be put on them financially, I'm not sure that they know what they are doing because they are not straightforward. That's all. I mean some of these things are not said that should be said and so people will know what the truth is.

LOTHIAN: Other seniors are worried not only about their children but their own health care coverage. President Obama heard from some of them at an AARP tele-town (ph) hall meeting including Carolyn from Illinois.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For example, will there be fewer hip and knee replacements?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My interest is not in getting between you and your doctor.

LOTHIAN: Margaret from Colorado wanted to know if under the overhaul she would still be able to keep the good coverage she now enjoys. OBAMA: Here's a guarantee that I've made. If you have insurance that you like, then you will be able to keep that insurance.

LOTHIAN: But some seniors aren't buying those guarantees on the Internet concerns that costs and limits will leave them without the health care they need. Others are scared of a government-run plan. President Obama urged seniors to pay close attention to the facts.

OBAMA: That's what Medicare is, it's a government-run health care plan that people are very happy with. But I think that we've been so accustomed to hearing those phrases that sometimes we can't sort out the myth from the reality.


LOTHIAN: The White House is blaming Capitol Hill for some of the confusion. Spokesman Robert Gibbs telling me today that he believes some lawmakers up on Capitol Hill are knowingly spreading inaccurate information in order to hold up progress on health reform -- Lou.

DOBBS: All right, those doggone people on Capitol Hill. All right, Dan, appreciate it -- Dan Lothian from the White House.

The White House has finally announced a list of federal budget cuts as the president had set a deadline for $100 million cuts by his cabinet secretaries but those cuts coming eight days after the deadline. His cabinet secretary is proposing $243 million in savings, $102 million this year -- that was the deal -- and more than $140 million next year.

That's $2 million more this year than the president had demanded back in April of his cabinet secretaries. Well, that sounds impressive until you think about what the savings are. They are actually only a tiny fraction of next year's $3.6 trillion federal budget.

Also some of the savings may seem miniscule including $35,000 by automatically shutting down computers to save money, some $2,000 using electronic copies of newspapers. Well, to put all of that in perspective, we should point out that one top Citigroup trader, his name is Andrew Hall, is demanding that Citigroup honor a contract that would give him a bonus of more than $100 million.

Citigroup, of course, has received $45 billion in government bailout money so that savings of course has a very -- a very good use ahead for it, it appears. There's rising anger in Congress that the payment of those huge bounces on Wall Street, the House Financial Services Committee today voting to ban pay practices at financial firms that encourage what it called inappropriate risk. Today's action paves the way for a vote in the full House on Friday just before lawmakers break for their August recess.

The Obama administration today announced a billion dollars in stimulus grants to retain or hire 4,700 police officers. But that's well short of the $8 billion in grants the police departments had asked for. Some of the country's biggest cities won't be receiving any money at all under this grant, including New York City, Houston, Seattle and Pittsburgh. The Justice Department said the money goes to cities with the worst budget problems and the highest crime rates.

The Senate Judiciary Committee today voted 13-6 to approve the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. The vote for Sotomayor was mostly along party lines. One Republican senator, as expected, Senator Lindsey Graham, voted in favor of Sotomayor. Critics remain concerned that Sotomayor is a judicial activist. A full Senate vote to confirm Sotomayor is expected next week.

Up next here law enforcement agencies intensifying their focus on Michael Jackson's personal doctor. We'll have a live report on the investigation into the pop star's death. And you won't believe who is defending me against the rants of those radical left wingers.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But isn't this partially the Southern Poverty Law Center was so outraged about Mr. Dobbs and the illegal alien tape that he came up with that isn't this a little payback?


DOBBS: We'll have the latest on the controversy over the president's birth certificate and the media reaction. Stay with us.


DOBBS: There are new developments tonight in the investigation into the death of Michael Jackson. Investigators and DEA agents today searched the Las Vegas home and office of Jackson's personal doctor, Dr. Conrad Murray. Yesterday a source close to Jackson's family said Murray gave Jackson a powerful drug that may have ultimately killed the pop star. Ted Rowlands is in Las Vegas tonight and has the story for us. Ted, what are those investigators searching for tonight?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well they are still at it, Lou, and what they are looking for, according to Conrad Murray's attorneys who have seen the search warrant they are looking for any paper documents or any documentation or evidence about Michael Jackson's prescriptions or any aliases that Michael Jackson may have used or Dr. Murray may have used and that's the key.

If what they are saying is true that if they went to a judge and got a search warrant and they said that they are looking for evidence of aliases used, what they are saying is they must have had enough probable cause to go to a judge and say during our investigation we've come up -- we found some aliases, so clearly they are going in and looking at computer hard drives.

They took one computer and some cell phones from Murray's home. Murray was there incidentally while this search took place in his home in a gated community. That only took about three hours. But behind me here at Murray's clinic, they have been at it for seven hours and they are still going at it.

They are still taking what presumably evidence from Murray's clinic, going through and seeing what's pertinent and taking it out. so while Conrad Murray is not a suspect in this case, he clearly is the focus of this investigation when you look at what's happening here today and then also take into account what happened last week when they took out documents, et cetera out of his Houston law office -- or his Houston medical practice as well.

DOBBS: Ted -- Ted Rowlands I should say first of all breaking the story here on CNN last night. Ted, do we know where Dr. Murray is tonight?

ROWLANDS: Yes, he was in the -- he's in his home here in Las Vegas. It's in a gated community. I talked to some neighbors and they say that he has spent the better part of the last month in his home fairly secluded while all of this firestorm has been going around -- going on around him.

His lawyers say that he's basically been paralyzed and has not been able to practice at all and can't leave his house because of all of this attention. But he is home here in Las Vegas and he was there while they served that warrant on his home today in Las Vegas.

DOBBS: Ted, thank you very much for bringing us up-to-date. Ted Rowlands in Las Vegas where the investigation into Dr. Murray and whatever role he may have played in the final days and hours of Michael Jackson's death is being investigated.

The White House says President Obama will meet Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates (ph) and Cambridge Police Sergeant James Crowley (ph) Thursday. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said there is no formal agenda for the meeting at the White House other than as he put it cold beer.

That meeting comes after the nationwide controversy over the arrest of Professor Gates (ph) by Sergeant Crowley (ph) and President Obama's initial declaration that the Cambridge police quote "acted stupidly" end quote. Tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN Larry King has an exclusive interview with former Secretary of State Colin Powell. They will be talking about this dispute.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm saying that (INAUDIBLE) perhaps in this instance might have waited awhile, come outside, talk to the officer and that might have been the end of it. I think he should have reflected on whether or not this was the time to make that big a deal. But he was just home from China, just home from New York. All he wanted to do was get to bed. His door was jammed and so he was in a mood where he said something...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about those who say he brings the whole history into that body of a black movement? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That may well be...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That may well be the case, but I still think that it might well have been resolved in a different manner if we didn't have this verbal altercation between the two of them.


DOBBS: Well one of the people who perhaps should be at the White House with Professor Gates (ph) and Sergeant Crowley (ph) and the president apparently won't be there. She's Officer Kelly King who strongly criticized the president last week.


OFFICER KELLY KING, CAMBRIDGE POLICE DEPT.: It's unfortunate. I supported him. I voted for him. I will not again.


DOBBS: Well, Don Lemon broke that story here first on LOU DOBBS TONIGHT last Friday.

New developments tonight in the controversy over the president's birth certificate. Yesterday the director of the Hawaii Department of Health issued another statement that she had, in fact, seen Barack Obama's original so-called long form birth certificate on file with the Department's Office of Vital Records. That official repeated her opinion that the president was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 4th, 1961.

She made a similar statement last October. There have been repeated requests from some of the president's skeptics about the release of his original birth certificate. Hawaii law, however, prevents the actual release of the document to a third party. CNN had previously reported that when Hawaii's Vital Records Office went paperless in 2001 that the original paper documents were discarded.

That was incorrect. Yesterday a spokeswoman for the Hawaii Department of Health said, in fact, that paper birth records have been retained in addition to the department's electronic records.

A left wing group's liberal mainstream media have stepped up some attacks on me for reporting on the controversy over the president's birth certificate when in fact I've stated many times that President Obama is a citizen of this country in my opinion. The Southern Poverty Law Center, for example, called on CNN to fire me for my even discussing the story. Coming to my defense last night, Bill O'Reilly.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When is enough, Bill? When is enough, enough?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's never enough...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom of speech society, Mr. Cohen. It's never enough is enough. Freedom of speech...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... allows you to go over the -- up to the line, OK...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... without -- if Lou Dobbs was causing danger to someone then you would be legitimate in calling for his firing but he's not.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But isn't this partially the Southern Poverty Law Center was so outraged about Mr. Dobbs and the illegal alien tape that he came up with that isn't this a little payback? Aren't you guys paying him back for the illegal alien deal here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well I think we're calling him for his misstatements of facts like we've been doing for years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it's not just a birth certificate thing. This is illegal aliens and other stuff, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well I wouldn't put it quite that way. I mean Lou has been saying ridiculous things about undocumented persons.


DOBBS: Undocumented persons -- well I want to say first of all to Bill O'Reilly thank you. I do want to point out Bill O'Reilly also kicked my rear end around a bit, disagreeing with me absolutely on the issue of whether or not, as I said, the president could solve all of this by just simply releasing his long form. He and I disagree on that, but I appreciate Bill O'Reilly being a standup guy. And apparently I was a topic on another show on FOX News, Geraldo Rivera attacking me for being wrong on illegal immigration as well as the birth certificate controversy. How I could be wrong about that I don't know because all I said is the president is a citizen, but it would simple to make all this noise go away with just simply producing the long form birth certificate. Ann Coulter came to my defense partially.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dobbs has a new distinction as the principle prime time advocate of the issue of whether or not Barack Obama is really a citizen of the United States. Ann Coulter is this an issue? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No it isn't and by the way, Lou Dobbs is not a crank. He was absolutely right on illegal immigration. You were wrong Geraldo...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: However, he is wrong on this issue.


DOBBS: Well I've repeatedly stated that President Obama is a citizen of the United States. My question is simply why not provide the long form birth certificate and end all of the discussion.

Well to hear my thoughts on all of this join me on the radio Monday through Friday for "The Lou Dobbs Show" 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. each afternoon on WOR 710 radio in New York all over the country. Go to to get the local listings in your area. Well and you can also follow me on loudobbsnews on

And up next here President Obama's plummeting approval ratings. What is behind that -- what is behind the plunge in his approval ratings? That is the subject of our "Face Off" debate here tonight. We'll be joined by two of the leading pollsters and political strategists in the country.

And after years of shipping American jobs overseas we'll be telling you why some corporations are bringing jobs back to America.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean there's really nothing better than walking into a factory and watching Americans manufacture products for distribution in America.


DOBBS: Amen, brother. We'll have a special report on encouraging economic news.


DOBBS: Well we've got some good news for you tonight on the economy. Home prices in May posting their first monthly increase for the first time in nearly three years, that increase not much but it was, as I say, the first increase in nearly three years. Home sales moving higher as well.

So with all of that, more good news for middle class families. After years of outsourcing jobs to cheap foreign labor markets like Mexico, communist China, Romania, a small but growing number of corporations are beginning to bring those jobs back to the United States. It's called re-shoring. Casey Wian has the good news.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Southern California- based Exxel Outdoors makes Disney logo sleeping bags for major retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target. You'd expect them to be made in China and five years ago 70 percent of them were. But now Exxel has shifted 80 percent of its sleeping bag manufacturing to this 75- worker factory in Haleyville, Alabama.

HARRY KAZAZIAN, CEO, EXXEL OUTDOORS: There's really nothing better than walking into a factory and watching Americans manufacture products for distribution in America.

WIAN: When Harry Kazazian (ph) and his business partner bought their sleeping bag company in 2000 they planned to shut down the Alabama factory and outsource to Mexico, then they met the workers and re-crunched the numbers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you put a face to numbers, it makes a big difference. And it made both me and my partner decide that, hey, you know what, this is worth fighting for.

WIAN: The shift back from China has been more gradual fueled by the rising cost of transportation and Chinese labor, quality control issues and the ability to deliver products in less than a week instead of three months.

ROSS DEVOL, ECONOMIST, MILKEN INSTITUTE: I think this is the beginning of a mini trend, if you will. I think we're going to see more manufacturers that had operations in China look to see if they can produce in the United States more efficiently, more competitively.

WIAN: San Diego-based Professional's Choice makes equipment for the equestrian industry. Most of its manufacturing has gone to China. But when owner Dal Scott (ph) was faced with the prospect of laying off more than 20 factory workers here, he instead invested in new higher productivity equipment that allowed him to keep the jobs in California.

DAL SCOTT, FOUNDER, PROFESSIONAL'S CHOICE: I hope, for the sake of our country, that I'm not the only guy with a small business that has taken a close look at how to retain people, keep them here, or even bring them -- bring jobs back.

WIAN: Scott's goal is to bring 70 percent of his company's jobs back to the United States. Last month even Jeffrey Immelt (ph), CEO of General Electric, one of the company's that pioneered outsourcing jobs said the United States should set a national goal that 20 percent of U.S. jobs be in manufacturing, about double their percentage today.

JEFFREY IMMELT, CEO, GENERAL ELECTRIC: We very much believe that the U.S. has to be an export oriented country.

WIAN: At Exxel Outdoors exporting is the fastest growing segment of its business.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WIAN: Everyone we spoke with for this report suggests that the United States government and U.S. businesses need to do more to encourage the growth of manufacturing jobs in the United States. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has often defended the practice of outsourcing as good for the economy declined to comment. The Business Roundtable, which has called opposition to outsourcing isolationist, did not return our calls. National Association of Manufacturers did speak with us and said its lobbying members of Congress to remove what it says are barriers to U.S. exports and domestic manufacturing, Lou.

DOBBS: Including the outsourcing of American jobs to cheap overseas labor markets?

WIAN: They are working to try to end that practice, or at least slow it down and bring some of those jobs back here, Lou.

DOBBS: God bless them. You know I think this would qualify as green shoots, I believe is the expression in Washington, D.C. and great news. Thank you very much, Casey. We've had to report for how many years now, some seven years about the outsourcing of those jobs. It would be nice to see that completely reversed and we've watched the disappearance of millions and millions of manufacturing jobs, good paying middle class jobs. Casey, thanks a lot from Los Angeles.

Up next here, rising concern about the impact on all of us as a result of antibiotics in animal feed.

Also a loophole in the president's massive health care plan that would give benefits to illegal immigrants. But don't worry it's a loophole that is intentional. Some refuse to close it. They mean for illegal immigrants to be covered by health care insurance provided by your tax dollars.

The president's approval ratings are tumbling. We'll examine those poll numbers and what's driving the president's poll numbers in our "Face Off" debate here next.


DOBBS: Quite a demonstration in Israel. In Jerusalem hundreds of Israeli settlers and their supporters protesting the Obama administration's policy on West Bank settlements. Those demonstrators shouting anti-U.S. slogans, anti-Obama slogans. According to published reports, they call the president a traitor and his policy toward settlements racist. One settlement leader said the United States is treating Israel like a Banana Republic. The Obama administration has called for a complete halt to settlement construction in the West Bank.

In this country the president's approval ratings are down to new lows, but they're pretty high new lows. A significant decline among independents, recent polls showing Americans increasingly skeptical that the president has a clear plan forward to fix our economy. Voters also questioning the president's health care proposals.

Joining me tonight for tonight's "Face-off" debate, Scott Rasmussen, he is president of Rasmussen Reports and he says the White House should be concerned. Pollster Mark Penn joins us. Mark most recently serving as senior strategist for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and says the president can regain the public's confidence.

Good to have you both here. Let's take a quick look at some numbers if we may. The full screen that you're going to see here is of approval rating drops over the three national polls, ABC/"Washington Post" poll, CBS/"New York Times" and Gallup.

In all of those, relatively significant. And yes, Scott, we have the Rasmussen poll. The daily presidential tracking poll showing that approval and strong disapproval and strong approval showing a negative for the president.

Let's start with the Rasmussen poll. That seems appropriate tonight.

That's a good place to start.

DOBBS: Why is -- why, in your judgment, is the president watching these numbers decline?

SCOTT RASMUSSEN, PRES., RASMUSSEN REPORTS: Well, first of all, it's a natural occurrence. The honeymoon is over. And except for my marriage, honeymoon's never last. These are things that happen to presidents...

DOBBS: Artfully done, if I may say.

RASMUSSEN: That's right. Got to score some points on the home front. But no, this is -- this is what you'd expect. People are beginning to say we need to judge President Obama by his policies and by the results.

The big issue is the economy. Most Americans still blame President Bush for the economy but a larger and larger share are starting to place the blame on President Obama. There are other concerns. Health care and other things are weighing in, too. But ultimately it comes back to the economy.

DOBBS: Mark Penn, your thoughts?

MARK PENN, CEO. BURSON-MARSTELLER: Well, I polled for President Clinton and the White House for six years and we would have considered these to be very good numbers. The kind of numbers you see in the high 50s are, in fact, very good numbers.

Look, they're not inauguration day numbers but there's a very tough economy out there. The president is trying to move forward health care. There's a lot of increased contentiousness given these issues. And so to have really the support of about six in 10 is a pretty impressive number right now.

DOBBS: Well, here's a comprehensive number, too, I'd like you both to respond to. And this the Gallup poll. The question, do you think Obama's stimulus plan has made the economy better, had no affect or worse? Better, 28 percent. No affect, 49 percent, or worse, 21 percent.

These have to be disturbing numbers, would you not agree, Mark, for the White House?

PENN: Well, I think the White House is going to be looking closely at these numbers. As a practical matter either the economy is going to turn around or it's not. If it does, as it did under President Clinton, then people are going to say, wow, that worked. And if it doesn't they're going to say it didn't.

So I don't -- I think the jury is out based on what we're seeing. Obviously, the stock market is a leading indicator, usually, and unemployment a lagging indicator.

DOBBS: Right.

RASMUSSEN: And what we've seen, though, is the number who believe the stimulus has helped, it has been declining. Consumer confidence has been declining since about late May. And overall the last jobs report seems to have been a turning point. People are beginning to be a little bit skeptical about the direction of the economy.

But as Mark said, if the economy is doing great a year from now, the president's numbers will be doing great. The thing that I watch for is not only is the economy heading down, but what is happening with General Motors. That's an issue that could be real problematic for the president.

DOBBS: Yes, it's interesting, too, though. We've seen again the president -- there's an abatement in the language, as you were just talking about the economy, Scott. We are seeing some decided positives here in this economy, and we continue to hear people talk it down.

I don't know whether that's happening as a result of partisanship or for purposes of advocacy because both Democrats and Republicans are doing it. Frankly, it drives me nuts.

What's your reaction, Mark?

PENN: Well, it's very hard to talk the economy up when you have this kind of unemployment. And so I think typically people in the White House...

DOBBS: Let me say...


DOBBS: I don't believe you can talk up an economy. But I do believe you can talk one down in the sense that leadership is so negative that it has a decided impact on society at large, on consumers as well as citizens. PENN: Well, in fact, in '96, you know, President Clinton went out and said it's the strongest in 30 years. And everyone went wow. And so he really turned around the view of the economy.

I think it's a little early for Obama to try to do that. I think he would get himself caught into a trap here with so many unemployed. And perhaps unemployment, again, is a lagging indicator.

DOBBS: By the way, if you're going to say that the economy is buffo, it's good to do it at the onset of the biggest asset bubble in American history.

Scott, where do you see -- the independents in this country have turned against the president where they were one of his greatest contributors in these polls. They have now moved negative on the president. Why is that?

RASMUSSEN: Well, they're concerned about the economy. They're concerned about the spending. Most Americans instinctively believe that an increasing government spending is bad for the economy. They believed that when Bill Clinton was in office, they believed it when Ronald Reagan was in office. It's one of the bedrock American principles.

And right now they see spending going up and they don't see economic results. Now if the economy turns around they'll reconsider their position. But the spending, the deficit numbers, the new involvement in the economy is creating some challenges for this president.

DOBBS: Do you see positives for the Republicans given the negatives for the Democrats here. Are they simply, if you will, internal events for the Democrats and Republicans cast lost in the land. Mark?

PENN: I don't think you've seen the Republicans come forward with anything of a coherent philosophy. I think you've heard the usual no on health care, no on stimulus, but you haven't really heard a yes on anything.

And so I don't think the Republicans are breaking out here. Even though approval for Congress generally is low, still, Republicans and Congress have the lowest approval and the highest disapproval of all.

DOBBS: Yes, 24 percent trust in the most recent poll. And where was that poll? 24 percent trust for Nancy Pelosi.

To what degree is there an opportunity, if at all, for Republicans who seem to be both discredited and in disarray?

RASMUSSEN: Well, the Republicans are in disarray. They have no clear leader. But what they're -- their hope comes from the simple fact. The Democrats are in charge of the White House, they're in charge of both Houses of Congress.

If things are going bad and people want to take something out on elected officials, Democrats are going to lose. Everything we're seeing says Democrats are losing ground, Republicans are not gaining ground and that's an interesting mix for 2010.

DOBBS: All right. Thank you both for being here. Appreciate it. Scott Rasmussen, Mark Penn. Thank you, gentlemen.

Up next here, loopholes in the Democrats' health care plan. Intentional loopholes. Millions of illegal immigrants would be receiving health care benefits at taxpayer expense. Oh, yes, and their immediate families as well.

Left-wing groups attack me for just mentioning the controversy over the president's birth certificate. I have said straightforwardly I believe the man is a citizen. That doesn't satisfy the left-wing of this country. But I have some very able defenders.

Again, I want to say thank you to Ann Coulter, to Bill O'Reilly. We'll be back with our radio panel. Stay with us.


DOBBS: New concerns in the Democratic Party tonight that the health care plan could provide coverage for illegal immigrants. However, part of the Democratic Party is the reason that it would.

A proposed system to verify eligibility was killed by House Democrats. The Heller Amendment. Republican critics saying that that means there would be no way to know whether people applying for health care benefits in this country are here illegally or not.

Lisa Sylvester has our report.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Demonstrators at a mayday rally demanding equal rights, including health coverage for the millions of illegal immigrant in the United States.

Opponents say that people who break immigration laws should not be rewarded. Robert Rector of the conservative Heritage Foundation says the House health care bill will do just that.

ROBERT RECTOR, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: What we're doing is creating a new program for low-income people to give them free medical care and giving illegal immigrants free and total access to that system.

It's a huge transformation. It's radically different than anything the country has done in the past.

SYLVESTER: But Democrats strongly disagree. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the bill does not benefit illegal immigrants.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: If you're in this country illegally, you should be able to get health care?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: No. Illegal immigrants are not covered by this plan.

SYLVESTER: Section 246 of the bill states, "Nothing in this subtitle shall allow federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.

Seems pretty straightforward. But several GOP lawmakers still insist that the bill will allow illegal immigrants to receive taxpayer-funded benefits. They point to what they call a gaping loophole. No verification or enforcement system.

REP. LAMAR SMITH (R), TEXAS: You can say all day long if you want to no, it doesn't apply to illegal immigrants. But if you don't have any way to screen them out, if anybody who applies is going to get those healthcare benefits, that is going to include illegal immigrants.

SYLVESTER: An amendment was offered that would have enabled stated to use the Welfare Eligibility data base to keep illegal immigrants from qualifying for healthcare benefits. But that amendment was defeated in committee on a party line vote.


SYLVESTER: And there's another provision in this bill that some Republicans take issue with. It says that if one member of a family is eligible to receive universal health coverage then the entire family is eligible.

Representative Lamar Smith calls that another loophole that he says will permit illegal immigrants to receive taxpayer funded health coverage -- Lou?

DOBBS: All right. Thank you very much. Lisa Sylvester from Washington.

Up next, the president, he's raising the pressure for his healthcare plan but he can't break the deadlock among members of his own party.

And some strong defense that I received after left-wing advocacy groups attacked me for simply saying the president is a citizen but why not just show that long form birth certificate?

We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Joining me now three of my favorite radio talk show hosts. From Cincinnati, WLW Radio's Bill Cunningham, in Detroit, WCHB, Mildred Gaddis. Good to have you with us, Mildred. And in Chicago from WGN, Steve Cochran. Good to have you with us, Steve.

Let me -- My guess is you guys have been talking about this today. An interview with the newly elected Senator Obama some five years ago, interviewed by radio talk show host Randi Rhodes. If you will, listen to this.


OBAMA: When you rush these budgets that are a foot high and nobody has any idea what's in them and nobody has read them.

RANDI RHODES, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Fourteen pounds, it was.

OBAMA: Yes. It gets rushed through without any clear deliberation or debate then these kinds of things happened. And I think that this is in some ways what happened to the Patriot Act.

Ii mean you remember there was no real debate about that. It was so quick after 9/11 that it was introduced that people felt very intimidated by the administration.


DOBBS: The president, then senator-elect, obviously concerned about administrations who rush legislation through Congress. Here is one of his many recent statements with a certain sense of urgency to it.


OBAMA: Time and again we've heard excuses to delay and defeat reform. Time and again the American people have suffered because people in Washington played the politics of the moment instead of putting the interest of the American people first.


DOBBS: Politics of the moment, Steve Cochran. Is that the fast track or is that the slow track?

STEVE COCHRAN, WGN RADIO IN CHICAGO: It's a duplicity of politics, right? I mean it's right for me when it's right for me and it's wrong when it's not. The clear thing is the Obama administration needs a win, and they need a win quickly politically.

There's no way this is going to get done next week or the week after. We'll be lucky if we see anything by the end of the year. But in the meantime the beer at the White House is cold and ready to be served.


DOBBS: OK. Mildred, your thoughts?

MILDRED GADDIS, WCHB IN DETROIT: Well, we need to remember that Barack Obama won this thing by convincing Americans that one of the one things that he would take care of is initially one of his priorities would be health care for those who are uninsured in this country.

CNN released a study that said that 86.7 million Americans are without health insurance so it is, indeed, an issue. The question is why is the president...

DOBBS: Whoa, whoa, whoa. 86.7 million Americans?

GADDIS: 86.7 million Americans.


GADDIS: This study was done by a family organization. It is -- in fact, it's on your Web site, by the way.

DOBBS: It's on my site?

GADDIS: I'm sorry, it's on CNN's Web site.


GADDIS: Yes. And remember, this guy told America, I'm going to take care of that for you. The question is, why are the details not being released? Isn't that...

DOBBS: Mildred. Mildred. Actually the question is, what's the deal? The president, when he was a senator-elect thought that George W. Bush was rushing things through and intimidating Congress, and now as president he wants things passed by August 1st. That's the question. At least the one I pose.

GADDIS: And I'm saying to you that either there are some details that the president is not interested in everybody seeing right now or he's trying to rush -- or he's trying to rush and get this done. But of course...

DOBBS: We're getting real, all right, Mildred. Let's turn to Bill Cunningham. Your thoughts?

BILL CUNNINGHAM, WLW IN CINCINNATI: Well, Lou, I would say this. That all politicians have a little bit of con men in them, but this Obama's taking it to an art form. He talked about not signing bills with earmarks, he signs off 9,000 earmarks. I'm going to hire lobbyists, he's hired at least 45 lobbyists. He talks about putting on the Internet every bill he signs for 48 hours and the stimulus plan goes through at 3:00 a.m. in the morning.

This guy is taking lying to an art form. He's a con man and after six months, I think we finally figured it out and that's why his approval ratings are plummeting.

DOBBS: Well, Steve Cochran, what do you think?

COCHRAN: Well, he's a politician. Oh, you said he was a con man. He's a politician. Look, I don't go along with Barack Obama's trying to take down America. I don't buy that. I think there are enough dopes in both parties that have said many times in this program and on my own that the American people need to be more involved, more involved now, not wait for Lou Dobbs to do it, not for the three of us to do it. Get informed, get after it, and tell those people who are going to be running for reelection next year in the midterms, you're not voting for them unless they do their job. And if health care is your thing, then get on it. Pick an issue, just pick one issue and get on it, so you can change America. Don't count on them to do it.

DOBBS: Yes, and, you know, that's, I think -- first of all I think that's terrific and good counsel to all of us. You mentioned beer. That makes me think of the White House and a meeting Thursday among President Obama, Sergeant James Crowley and Professor Henry Louis Gates of Harvard.

Mildred, what do you think? A great idea?

GADDIS: Well, first of all, I think that the media has really taken this thing in a direction it did not need to go.

DOBBS: That darn media.

GADDIS: Yes, it did. Because, first of all, it was the media, keep in mind, Lou, that injected race into this issue. The president felt that the police officers acted stupidly and essentially what he was saying, he didn't say the white officers acted stupidly with the black professor.

DOBBS: He said the whole doggone department did.

GADDIS: And you know why? Because in this country, in America, you don't go into a man's home thinking that he has broken in and once you realize that he is, indeed, in his own home and he's proven that to you, you leave the premises.

Now even if he sounds like a jerk, there was no -- it does not appear, it's not proven yet, any legitimate reason to arrest this guy -- to arrest this man.

DOBBS: Let me just give you a -- you know, another view. Well, you know what? I was going to give you the view of Colin Powell who is going to be on "LARRY KING" Tonight 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time. But I can just say it very simple. He thinks that Gates acted, and I'm going to paraphrase this, and perhaps the general will not be appreciative, but he basically said both men behaved badly.

You know what? Both men had signed -- well, effectively, had signed a statement, a joint statement from Professor Gates and the Cambridge Police Department initially saying they both had behaved badly, again, paraphrasing, and they're going to move on. So...

CUNNINGHAM: Lou, look at it this way, Gates is a rich millionaire who played the race card early on by saying this is how black men are treated in America. With all due respect to my friend, Mildred, what happened here is Gates played the race card early on and Crowley bent over backwards not to arrest a rich, black, African studies professor from Harvard back from China, but only so much can be taken. This was contempt by cop. Crowley may be shouldn't have arrested him, but Gates is the one who threatened litigation. Gates is the one that hired the Professor Charles Ogletree and Gates is the one that played the race card. And I would tell that beer let it become room temperature. I wouldn't drink anything like that with Gates and Obama. Those guys are playing the race card, and not Crowley.

GADDIS: Well, you know what? I think it's very interesting you say maybe he should not have arrested him. He should not have arrested him. It was an abuse of power.



DOBBS: But you've got to get in here. I've never seen you so quiet. Steve Cochran, I'm starting to worry about you.

COCHRAN: Anybody that sits in judgment of a cop's actions ought to spend one day with a cop and see what their job is and how they do it. I think that both men said they could've behaved better is one thing. I think the race discussion's important. What I don't like is the hypocrisy of all of it. We've got kids shooting kids on the south side of Chicago in record numbers yet the Reverend Jackson couldn't wait to get on CNN and talk about how white people are treating black people poorly again.

I would like to see the Reverend Jackson go to the south side of Chicago and deal with some of this black on black crime and these kids shooting each other. It's tragic. It goes on day after day and this is the greatest city in the world. It doesn't have to happen. So...

GADDIS: He can't help that.

DOBBS: Or as we in New York refer to it...

COCHRAN: The publicity stunt of it is fine. You know what? Have a cover charge in a tip jar, maybe pay down the debt in this country a little bit. But it's nothing more than a publicity stunt at this point.

DOBBS: Well, when Steve Cochran does get engaged, he's engaged, right, guys?


Mildred, thank you very much. Bill, appreciate it. Steve, thank you. Great to have you all with us.

CUNNINGHAM: Thank you.

DOBBS: Up at the top of the hour, Campbell Brown. Campbell?

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey there, Lou. We're going to talk about the terrorist threat here at home. Several Americans under arrest in North Carolina for planning attacks. Just ahead, why some top security experts are sounding the alarm about terror cells here in the U.S. and what we need to look at.

Plus the government says obesity is costing this country $147 billion a year. But are overweight people becoming scapegoats for the nation's health care crisis? A debate on that.

Plus, we've, of course, got our "Mash-up" of all the top stories today coming up right at the top of the hour. Lou?

DOBBS: Don't you just love numbers like that? $147 billion. Somebody knows exactly what fat people are costing. You know it's great.

BROWN: There are people who get paid to do this, Lou.

DOBBS: They do. You better believe it. They do it great.

Campbell, thank you very much. Look forward to it. We'll be right back. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Well, be sure to join us here tomorrow, please, in our "Face-off" debate. The subject is, the Obama stimulus plan is saving or losing jobs and how do we know? Joining me will be the senior editor of "New Republic" magazine.

And a reminder to join me on the radio Monday through Fridays, please, for "The Lou Dobbs Show". That's 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. each afternoon on WOR 710 Radio in New York. And all around the country, go to to get the local listings in your area.

And please follow me on "Lou Dobbs News" on We'll have us a hoop or a tweet. Whatever.

Thanks for being with us tonight and join us here tomorrow. For all of us, thank you for watching. Good night from New York. Now, Campbell Brown.

ANNOUNCER: CNN Prime Time begins right now.