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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Obama's Offensive; Summer of Discontent; Collecting Personal Information; Healthcare in Switzerland; Health Care Town Halls

Aired August 11, 2009 -   ET


LOU DOBBS, HOST: We missed an opportunity there for cousins, Wolf, didn't we? Thank you very much. Good evening, everybody.

The president on the offensive as opposition to his health care plan intensifies. The president accusing opponents of using what he called scare tactics to mislead the American people.

Protesters, however, continue to exercise their right to freedom of speech. They're demanding answers from Congress. We'll examine the impact of these town hall protests in our "Face Off" debate here tonight. And we'll assess the president's plunging poll numbers.

And rising concerns that the Obama White House may be threatening your right to privacy. The ACLU is concerned. They've written the president. The Obama administration considering plans to collect personal information on anyone using a federal government Web site.

We begin tonight with the president's own town hall meeting on health care. President Obama immediately striking back at critics who oppose his health care agenda. The president accused opponents of spreading what he called wild misrepresentations. But the president didn't provide any new answers on his health care proposals.

He also failed to explain how his administration will tackle the almost $60 trillion in unfunded liabilities already facing the nation. Dan Lothian traveling with the president reports now from Portsmouth, New Hampshire.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Responding to criticism that he's not answering tough questions in his town halls, President Obama called for dissent.

BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't want people thinking I just have a bunch of plants in here.

LOTHIAN: Even then, the questions were mostly friendly. Although this Republican in the audience was concerned that a public option would hurt private insurers.

BEN HEIRSCHSON, TOWN HALL ATTENDEE: Because who can compete with the government? The answer is nobody.

LOTHIAN: As demonstrators for and against health care reform shouted and banged drums outside, President Obama made his case inside, and tried to knock down myths.

OBAMA: This idea that somehow the House of Representatives voted for death panels that will basically pull the plug on grandma, I am not in favor of that.

LOTHIAN: Since June the president has held more than a half dozen town hall meetings across the country. Health care reform 101.

OBAMA: If you like what you've got, we're not going to make you change. First of all, nobody is talking about some government takeover of health care. You won't have to worry about pre-existing conditions.

LOTHIAN: And in this health care marketing push, there's a constant theme.

OBAMA: If we do nothing, I can almost guarantee you your premiums will double over the next 10 years.

LOTHIAN: President Obama promises audiences that cost cuts and wealthy Americans will help pay for reform without adding to the deficit.

OBAMA: We've already identified hundreds of billions of dollars worth of savings in our budget.

LOTHIAN: But even after all these town halls Americans still have doubts. The White House blames a campaign of misinformation.

LINDA DOUGLASS, WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF HEALTH REFORM: And every time you try to do something with health care, those special interests try to scare people in to thinking that it's going to be worse for them.

LOTHIAN (on camera): The White House is trying to make the case that health care reform isn't just about helping the uninsured, but also about providing better care and making it more affordable for all Americans.

Dan Lothian, CNN, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.


DOBBS: President Obama today said he wants to set the record straight, as he put it, in the health care debate. So, first let's hear how he responded to some of today's questions. We begin with a college student who said he was concerned about our skyrocketing national debt.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm looking towards my future with career options and opportunities, and I don't want inflation to skyrocket by just adding this to the national debt, so I'm wondering how we can avoid both of those scenarios.

OBAMA: Right. That's a great question. First of all, I said I won't sign a bill that adds to the deficit or the national debt.


DOBBS: Well, in fact, the Congressional Budget Office says the White House version of the health care legislation will actually raise the federal budget deficit by $239 billion. The president today also rejected charges that his health care proposals are simply too expensive. Let's listen.


OBAMA: It's been estimated to cost somewhere between, let's say, 800 billion and $1 trillion over 10 years. About two-thirds of those costs we can cover by eliminating the inefficiencies that I already mentioned.


DOBBS: But, once again, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says President Obama's plan to cut Medicare costs will yield savings of only $2 billion and a health care plan that will cost around $1 trillion.

Now, let's hear what President Obama had to say about preventive health care which he believes will cut costs.


OBAMA: And finally, this is important, we will require insurance companies to cover routine checkups and preventive care. It saves lives. It also saves money. And we need to save money in this health care system.


DOBBS: Again, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office takes issue with President Obama. The CBO says preventive services would actually cost more money than they save.

Congressional Democrats today face more angry protests as they tried to defend the health care proposals at town hall meetings all across the country. Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania struggled to explain his point of view as he was bombarded by constituent questions. Jessica Yellin, who's with Senator Specter, reports now from Lewisburg (ph), Pennsylvania.


JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Anxiety, fear, confusion. Add summer heat, and you've got a potent combination for a health care town hall. Frustration on the sidewalk out front.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why don't they take the health care being forced down our throat? Yeah, why don't you go home? Why don't I have freedom? Because we elected somebody that wants to take our freedom. Where does my opinion count at?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're entitled to be here just like you. Just like you...

YELLIN: And inside the auditorium.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. You want to leave? Leave.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am going to speak my mind before I leave, because your people told me I could.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm angry. I'm an American citizen. I'm a voter. I'm a taxpayer. I'm sick of the lies.

YELLIN: The man at the center of it all, Senator Arlen Specter worked to dispel myths about health care reform.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (D), PENNSYLVANIA: So far, no bill has passed the Congress. You want to have a private option, you will have it. You can have that one where you'll not be charged for somebody who has an abortion.

YELLIN: And for a cancer survivor, an issue close to his heart, when a voter declared that health care reform would mean 74-year-old cancer victims would be denied coverage.

SPECTER: Well, you're just not right. Nobody 74's going to be written off because they have cancer. That's a vicious, malicious, untrue rumor.

YELLIN: The senator later declared the gathering civil, democracy in action, he called it. And told another crowd their views will help shape the final bill.

SPECTER: There will be very careful consideration to the ideas that I've heard here and the ideas you have when I go back to Washington.

YELLIN: And when he returns to Washington, these constituents will make sure the senator is listening.


YELLIN: Now, Lou, as you well know, there is another piece to this story, which is that Senator Specter earlier this year changed parties from Republican to Democrat. These town halls were held in strong Republican districts and at least a measure of the outrage people were expressing was fueled by their frustration, their sense of betrayal, that their senator had flipped parties. Lou?

DOBBS: And principally that rather than their opposition to the president's health care proposals?

YELLIN: I wouldn't say it was (INAUDIBLE) just that the two are separate. It was a sense that he has betrayed them by switching parties and he is now again betraying them by potentially supporting this health care bill, and the two fueled one another for a very intense mix.

DOBBS: All right, Jessica, thank you very much -- Jessica Yellin.

The rising opposition to the president's health care proposals pushing his poll numbers sharply lower. Many polls now show the president's overall approval rating has slumped to just over 50 percent. A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows more people strongly disapprove of the way President Obama is doing his job than strongly approve.

Joining me now the president of Rasmussen Reports, Scott Rasmussen. Scott, first, these numbers, is there any sign of stabilizing or is it -- is the president in some trouble here?

SCOTT RASMUSSEN, PRESIDENT, RASMUSSEN REPORTS: Well, the numbers have declined over the last month or six weeks. They seem to be stabilized right now, but this health care debate can change everything. What we know is voters are frustrated. They're frustrated by the economy, by the bailouts that started under Bush and continued under Obama. They are frustrated by the GM takeover. They don't think the stimulus worked. It appears that that frustration is weighing down the president's approval rating and it's all coming out in the health care debate.

DOBBS: You have -- your daily tracking poll today has his approval rating in the tracking poll at 49 percent.


DOBBS: Anything contributing to that? Is it the economy? Is it health care, or is it a combination?

RASMUSSEN: It's a combination. It's the fact that 71 percent think that this president's policies have driven up the deficits. But the economy is the underlying factor, and the health care debate is the issue of the day. And support for the health care program is declining. And that's -- that has to be hurting the president's numbers.

DOBBS: Well, the president stepped out in front of this debate. A couple of weeks ago has been absolutely -- has been on television every day. Just, you know, stomping for this, campaigning for health care legislation. It seems to be inverse, his engagement, with both the numbers on his job approval and the reaction to the health care policy on the part of those surveyed.

RASMUSSEN: And there's a lot more going on than just the president speaking, of course, but 42 percent now favor the health care plan working its way through Congress, that's down from 50 percent six weeks ago. The number who strongly oppose that way up there, 44 percent strongly oppose, 53 percent total disapproval for this health care reform package, and the numbers are slipping away from the White House at this point in time. And the reasons are simple. I heard the clips a moment ago. The president saying he's going to cut costs. Well only 19 percent of American voters believe that to be the case. Fifty-one percent believe costs will go up.

DOBBS: All right, Scott Rasmussen of Rasmussen Reports, in fact, the head man. Thank you very much, Scott, appreciate it.

RASMUSSEN: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: Still to come, much more on those town hall protests.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is about the systematic dismantling of this country. I'm only 35 years old. I have never been interested in politics. You have awakened a sleeping giant.


DOBBS: We'll take a close look at what these protests mean in our "Face Off" debate tonight.

And the Obama White House facing charges it wants to gather huge amounts of personal information -- your personal information, sacrificing your right to privacy.

And the Democratic Party making an all-out effort to spin the health care debate to its advantage. Some might call it manufacturing the message and the engagement. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: The Obama administration is trying to regain control of the health care debate. President Obama today held a seventh town hall meeting on the issue. The seventh since June. The White House is also launching a Web site to counter its critics, and congressional Democrats have set up their own war room to keep their members on message and trying to coordinate and control what you see and here from them. Ines Ferre with our report.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't trust me?


SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: OK. I -- you know, I -- I don't know what else I can do.

INES FERRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With booing and shouting sometimes disrupting town hall meetings held by Democrats, the administration is now stepping up its message. The president on Tuesday holding a town hall of his own in New Hampshire, trying to dispel what he called wild misrepresentations. OBAMA: Let me just start by setting the record straight on a few things I've been hearing out here about reform. Under the reform we're proposing if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.

FERRE: To drive home the point, a new Web site from the White House called Health Insurance Reform, REALITY CHECK, it describes claims that health care will be rationed as a myth and that reform will lead to euthanasia among seniors as malicious.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've been really surprised about some of the wild rumors that we've heard flying around.

FERRE: This public relations professor says that given the complexity and importance of the issue, the administration has to put its case to the public.

PROF. LYNN APPELBAUM, CITY COLLEGE OF NEW YORK: They need to be offensive and clear in terms of what their message is so that it's compelling that now's the time to act. But at the same time, they need to be able to spell out the message and also address legitimate claims and concerns that people might have.

FERRE: Besides the White House, on Tuesday the Democratic National Committee released a new TV ad to run on national cable, touting the health care plan.


FERRE: And Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's office, who this week co-authored an op-ed piece titled "Un-American Attacks Can't Derail Health Care Debate" has set up a health care war room for Democrats. Essentially it's a hotline where members and staff get answers and updates to policy questions and they're also monitoring media reports, Lou.

DOBBS: Well we've got to be very careful then, don't we?


DOBBS: I thought there was no effort on the part of this administration to control or the Democratic Party to manufacture or coordinate all of this.

FERRE: They're trying to drive home a message, a point.

DOBBS: Yes, they are indeed. One wonders what would have been the effect had they just begun at the very outset public, very public, and wide-ranging town hall meetings, public hearings, in which citizen participation was encouraged from the outset. One will never know. All right, thank you very much -- Ines Ferre.

The Obama White House facing charges it wants to collect personal information on tens of millions of Americans. Current rules ban the federal government from gathering information on people who logon to federal Web sites. But the Obama administration is now considering throwing out those rules. Brooke Baldwin with our report. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The White House playing the role of America's advocate or big brother? Proposed changes in the federal government's online privacy rules have set off alarm bells in certain circles. At issue, a proposal to reverse a decade-old ban on the tracking of users who visit government Web sites.

The tracking technology known as a cookie keeps information about computers and users who visit Web sites. The White House says that just like cookies facilitate communication on social networking Web sites, they would help government be more accessible and transparent. The American Civil Liberties Union agrees but argues...

MICHAEL MACLEOO-BALL, ACLU: There can also be certain precautions taken so that people are confident that their personal Internet usage patterns are not being collected and stored and used by the government for some perhaps nefarious purpose.

BALDWIN: The White House says it understands these concerns. Government spokesman Kenneth Baer (ph) says "any update of current policy will balance the need to use new web 2.0 technologies to open up government with the imperative to protect privacy". This comes just days after some criticized a White House blog posting that advised users if you get an e-mail or see something on the Web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, e-mail us. Critics worry the move could stifle free speech...


BALDWIN: ... and could be an attempt to gather names of supporters for political purposes. The White House insists it's no big brother.


BALDWIN: But if the government is doing no wrong, then the nonprofit Electronic Privacy Information Center has this question.

JOHN VERDI, ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFO. CENTER: What's the justification for the alteration of the policy? Clearly the government's intending to do something with them. At this point they're either unwilling or unable to tell us what.


BALDWIN: The White House has received more than 100 comments over the past two weeks thus far on this proposed change. No word as to when and if they'll make the decision to change the 10-year-old policy -- Lou?

DOBBS: Why do they want to do such a thing?

BALDWIN: That is the question that EPIC is asking and ACLU is asking and we don't know if they'll even make the change yet. It's possible. Don't know.

DOBBS: It's possible. It's -- it's possible. All right. Thanks very much.


DOBBS: At least perhaps we'll see public comment energized a bit on the issue. Thank you very much, Brooke Baldwin.

Well, I'll have a few thoughts about the administration's possible policy changes and how they could affect you and your right to privacy. You can hear my thoughts Monday through Friday on "The Lou Dobbs Show" on the radio 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. each afternoon on WOR 710 radio in New York. And please go to to find the local listings for "The Lou Dobbs Show", as well. And of course you can always follow me on loudobbsnews on and we appreciate it.

Up next, more Americans making their voices heard at those health care town hall meetings, including this one held by Senator Specter today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. You want to leave? Leave.


DOBBS: How much impact do these protests have on the debate? That's the subject of tonight's "Face Off" debate.

And comparing other countries' health care plans to our own, tonight Switzerland. A report you will only see on LOU DOBBS TONIGHT.


DOBBS: As Congress and President Obama consider an overhaul of the health care system, we're asking and answering the questions that most folks in Washington are not even considering including how satisfied are Americans with our health care system that we have, and is there any link between satisfaction and life expectancy around the developed world?

Eighty-three percent of Americans, as we've reported, are satisfied with the quality of the health care we're receiving. Life expectancy in the United States is 78.1 years. That sounds pretty good. But it's below the average of 79 years throughout developed countries.

In Denmark, 90 percent are satisfied with their publicly funded system, 90 percent. And life expectancy is 78.4 years, slightly higher than in the United States. But in Germany, where 55 percent of the Germans are not satisfied with their health care system, their life expectancy is 79.8 years. Fifty-seven percent of the folks in the United Kingdom say their system needs an overhaul. Life expectancy, 78.9 years in the U.K. In Canada, 70 percent say their system is working well. And life expectancy in Canada is almost 81 years. Eighty-four percent of the French say they're satisfied with their health care system, and they ought to be, it's considered to be one or two in all of Europe.

Life expectancy there is, by the way, 81 years. Forty-six percent of the people in the Netherlands say their system needs change, life expectancy there, 80 years. Well, on this broadcast we've been reporting on the health care systems, the public health care systems, all around the developed world.

Tonight, a special report on Switzerland. Switzerland's health care system is ranked seventh in Europe for patient satisfaction. And life expectancy in Switzerland is almost 82 years, second only to Japan. People in Switzerland are required by law to buy health insurance. Kitty Pilgrim has our report.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Universal health care, state of the art technology, complete free choice of doctors and hospitals. In some ways, the health care system of Switzerland looks ideal. Many lawmakers and academics, including Professor Uwe Reinhardt (ph) of Princeton, have studied the Swiss system.

PROF. UWE REINHARDT, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: It's a first-rate system, virtually universal coverage, with very high quality care.

PILGRIM: Everyone in Switzerland has to buy health insurance on their own. And there are about 60 different insurance companies to choose from. Premiums run between six and $7,000 a year for a typical family. The government subsidizes lower-income people for their coverage, about one-third of the population. Because premiums are not tied to income, people in the middle income range bear a heavier burden. Insurers cannot fleece customers. In fact, insurers are not allowed to make money on basic health care coverage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the basic package, the insurance companies cannot make a profit. But they can sell supplemental insurance for better, you know, single rooms or better eyeglasses, and on those they can make profit.

PILGRIM: For most people, the real choice in the system is what kind of deductible to select. Deductibles run from $300 all the way up to 2,000. Insurance funds with large numbers of chronically ill people are compensated through a risk equalization fund. The price for major procedures are below those in the United States because the government enforces price controls.

Nonetheless, the whole system is expensive, the third highest behind the United States and France. The Swiss spends 11 percent of GDP on health care versus 16 percent in the U.S. Per capita that works out to $4,417 on health care versus 7,290 in the U.S. There is one doctor for every 256 people versus in the United States, one doctor for every 416 people. Life expectancy in Switzerland is 81.7 years versus 78 years in the United States.


PILGRIM: Now, there are over 60 insurers available to the Swiss. But studies show that about 80 percent of the population are covered by the 10 biggest insurers and once the Swiss make their choice they tend to stick with the same insurer, even if the price is higher. Lou?

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Kitty. It's -- it's fascinating and its --its interesting. We wanted to do this -- to do these series of reports because it's important obviously to -- for the body of public knowledge to be expanded on this issue. But we also wanted to do it to basically highlight a relationship between satisfaction, life expectancy and to put away some of the myths.

And also to demonstrate that despite what some congressmen, some senators, and some in the administration have said the American people are perfectly capable of comprehending some of the complexities of this, and I think we're demonstrating that here. I'm even following some of this...

PILGRIM: No, it's -- it's interesting because people when given enough information can make very informed choices about their personal interests.

DOBBS: And we should expect them to do so in this country one would think. You know the Swiss I mean that's impressive, 82 years -- almost four years ahead of the United States. We have to -- we've got -- we've got a longevity race here, maybe that's the way the United States needs to put it. It's a longevity race. Let's get into -- into the game. Kitty, thanks a lot. Kitty Pilgrim.

Well, we're going to continue with our reports on the health care systems of other nations tomorrow. We're going to examine the state of health care in the nation with the highest life expectancy in the world, Japan. Please join us for that.

Well, most other countries require a much higher tax rate, of course, than does the United States to pay for health care. Only one of the seven countries that we've examined so far has a lower tax rate than the United States. The maximum personal income tax rate in the United States is, of course, 35 percent. Canada's lower, 29 percent. France, much higher 40 percent.

The United Kingdom, also 40 percent. And in Switzerland, the overall income tax rate can be as high as 41.5 percent. The highest tax rate in Germany is 45 percent. The Netherlands, 52 percent. And Denmark, the top tax rate there, 59 percent. As they say, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Up next, two leading members of Congress face off in our debate here tonight. Tonight, the subject is the president's health care plan and the angry protesters in those town hall meetings.

New concerns about violence at the town hall meetings. I'll be joined by one American who says he was attacked by members of a labor union.


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Lawmakers across the country are holding those town hall meetings on health care, and many have decided not to. Those who are facing emotional, often angry constituents, but these town hall protests, will they actually affect the outcome of the health care debate? That is the subject of our debate tonight in our "Face Off," and joining me, two of the leading members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which approved the health care bill last month. In Nashville, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee. Congresswoman, good to have you with us.


DOBBS: Here in New York, Congressman Frank Pallone of New Jersey. Congressman, good to have you here.

REP. FRANK PALLONE (R), NEW JERSEY: Good to be here.

DOBBS: Let's take a listen to this statement made at senator specter's town hall meeting just this morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't believe this is just about health care. It's not about T.A.R.P. It's not about left and right. This is about the systematic dismantling of this country. I'm only 35 years old. I've never been interested in politics. You have awakened a sleeping giant.

DOBBS: Well, Congressman Pallone, obviously there is great emotion we have heard from your leadership, that people are un- American who want to demonstrate loudly at these -- at these town hall meetings. We've heard from Robert Gibbs that this is all manufactured Astroturf. What's the deal here?

PALLONE: I don't know that I know for sure, but I will say, Lou, that many times that I've had town meetings, there were very few people there, so to the extent that we get people to turn out and participate in town meetings is probably a good thing.

DOBBS: Absolutely. Congresswoman?

BLACKBURN: Yes. You know, one of the things that I saw in the three town halls that I did last week was to say we're very organic. We had great crowds. We had sometimes five and six times the number of people that we thought we were going to have. And, Lou, they come asking very specific questions. They are very concerned. As the young lady in the clip said, what they are beginning to feel is the pressure from T.A.R.P., from the stimulus, from the omnibus, from the housing, from cap and trade and now health care. And they're going, wait a minute, this is not the kind of change that I wanted. I want congress to get itself in order. DOBBS: Are you hearing, I mean, anybody angry? You're obviously a Republican. And we're seeing what's happened in Democratic town hall meetings. Is there -- is there a quality here? Are you getting any of your feathers ruffled?

BLACKBURN: Oh, well, I have some people who disagree with me on issues. But I invite them to participate with us. And one of the town halls that I held last week out in a parking lot, because we were too large for the facility, I had --

DOBBS: Because you were what?

BLACKBURN: Our crowd was too large for the facility.

DOBBS: Oh, for the facility. I'm sorry.

BLACKBURN: Where we were going to be. And, you know, it was so interesting because we had plenty of give and take from people that were attending the event.

DOBBS: Congressman Pallone, you're getting ready for some give and take here later in the month.


DOBBS: How many town hall meetings are you going to hold?

PALLONE: I'm going to have one, actually two altogether. Part of the problem is you have to give your notices out, and it takes weeks to reach everyone with our notices. We'll have one in the southern part of my district and one in the northern part.

DOBBS: Are you going to have it wide open?

PALLONE: Oh, sure.

DOBBS: Are you concerned about the give and take?


DOBBS: Because it's been pretty noticeable. We've seen legislators, whether they be congressman, whether they be senators, who like they're a little off-put by the very temerity of their constituents to ask questions whether civilly or uncivilly.

PALLONE: I've had town hall meetings for 20 years I've been in congress.

DOBBS: This isn't your first rodeo.

PALLONE: This isn't the first one. It's sometimes that people come up and they are not happy. If people show up and obviously we don't want violence, but it's important to express their views because they're important to me.

DOBBS: We obviously don't want violence in any of this. It also seems peculiar that we've seen the attempt to marginize these demonstrators. It's not your first rodeo and it's not congresswoman Blackburn's. 96% of the congress gets returned to office. So, suddenly, there seems to be this, I mean, sometimes somebody is a shrinking violet. People are a little concerned. Is this a political ploy by the Democratic Party, or is there suddenly a --

PALLONE: Well, I think, Lou, if you think about it, during the presidential campaign, this was a major issue. I think it's become an even more a priority in the last six months in part because of the economy. And we see people losing health insurance. A lot of people can't afford the insurance they have. So, I think -- I think people are responding to it because it's a big priority for them.

DOBBS: And Congresswoman, I mean, what is your sense? Is this -- you know, honestly, I can't find the Republican Party leadership on this issue. I can see what's happening with congresswoman -- a congresswoman like yourself, but there seems to be a strategy here as well on the part of the Republicans, which to sort of, you know, get out of the way and let what happens happen, is that the case?

BLACKBURN: Well, I would disagree with that a little bit. We have presented alternative plans. And as Chairman Pallone knows, we've had the shaddic plan, we have the RFC plan, we have several different bills that would reform what needs to be reformed without doing a government-controlled system. What we know is that the people are very frustrated because congress does not seem to be listening, because the American people do not want government-run health care.

DOBBS: Let me ask you both, actually, you know, I'm going to ask you, Congressman Pallone, you're the top fellow. Do you kind of wish that you all had extensive, substantive public hearings from the outset? Do you think we'd be better off? Because there wouldn't be misinformation, there wouldn't be some of this nonsense that's going on.

PALLONE: No, we had full meetings in the energy and commerce committee and I've had town hall meetings over health care.

DOBBS: You don't see a problem.

PALLONE: No. We're still working on this. This is still a work in progress.

DOBBS: The president called upon you and your leadership to pass this legislation by august 1st.

PALLONE: Well, obviously that didn't happen and we're slowing down a little bit. But I think the more input the better as we move along.

DOBBS: All right, let's hope that's the case.

BLACKBURN: You know, Lou --

DOBBS: I'm sorry Congresswoman, I'm overtime. If you can do it very quickly, I'd appreciate it. BLACKBURN: A couple things --

DOBBS: Just one thing, because I have 15 seconds.

BLACKBURN: We published via Facebook. The American people want to be heard and they want to see the changes that they want made.

DOBBS: Congresswoman Blackburn, and Congressman Pallone, thank you very much.

Rising concerns at the town hall meetings are resulting in some violence in some places. We'll talk with one man who says he was attacked by members of a labor union after a health care meeting. And, by the way, three people have been arrested. Anyone can prove they're strong once. The real question is can they prove it again and again.


DOBBS: As we've been reporting, these town hall meetings around the country are becoming increasingly volatile. In at least one case there was violence. Now, the video you're looking at shows a scuffle after Congressman Ross Carnahan's meeting on health care near St. Louis. Kenneth Gladney was attacked by members, he says members of the labor union, the service employees union. He joins us now. Also with him David Brown, Mr. Gladney's attorney. Gentlemen, I want to thank both of you for being here.


DOBBS: Let me ask you, if I may, Kenneth, the -- there have been three arrests. Are you satisfied that the perpetrator -- excuse me, two arrests of two men, one woman in this, as I understand it. Are you satisfied that the people responsible for the attack on you have been apprehended?

KENNETH GLADNEY, ACTIVIST: Extremely. I'm extremely satisfied that they have been apprehended. And hopefully we can get some justice.

BROWN: There's one individual, though, Lou, that fled the scene. And we're looking for any videos anybody may have and would lead us to find this suspect.

DOBBS: Now, you -- one of the points here, flash points, is Mr. Gladney, you said that three of those people were wearing shirts, t- shirts, as I understand it from you --


DOBBS: That had service employees union SEIU, on them. Is that correct?

GLADNEY: That is correct. That is correct.

DOBBS: And has there been a reaction or a response from the service employees union to your allegations?

GLADNEY: Not that I know of at this point. I haven't heard anything. Up to now.

DOBBS: All right. And I also understand, you know, Mr. Brown, that you were actually near the scene when Kenneth was attacked. David, tell us what you saw. Did you see the actual attack itself?

BROWN: I was -- I've been friends with Ken for several years, and we were there together at the event. From about 40 or 50 feet away, I heard some commotion. By the time I got up to there, I saw a white gentleman, or if you want to call him a thug, you're free to do so, with the SEIU t-shirt. He was hurling racial epithets at Kenneth, which I will not repeat on the air, and kicking him in the head and in the side.

DOBBS: Yeah, this video is pretty declarative as to the points that you're making that we're watching right now. I don't know whether you can see it. But obviously we and the audience are seeing it. Have you heard from Congressman Carnahan about what happened?

BROWN: Congressman Carnahan has ducked and dodged and weaved the entire time, even held a secret press conference the very next day on Friday morning, a local radio -- yeah, a local radio host here in St. Louis snuck in and pressed him for answers and he couldn't provide any.

DOBBS: I want to ask Ken, if I may, one last question here.


DOBBS: And that is, are you surprised that -- that the St. -- Coverage of the "St. Louis Post-Dispatch" they have described you as bespectacled, as you are, mild mannered, and also a conservative and unemployed without health insurance. Give us a sense of the reporting on you particularly.

GLADNEY: Well, for one, I do have health insurance. Two, I -- yes, I am unemployed at this time. Three, I just -- I don't understand where they get all this, you know, this news from.

DOBBS: Are you a conservative?

GLADNEY: No, no. I am an independent.

BROWN: Independence Day, Lou.

DOBBS: All right. Well, on that note, we will say thank you very much. We appreciate it. David, thank you very much. Kenneth, thank you. And all the best to you.

Brooke Baldwin joins me now and she has an update on the other important stories that we're following tonight. Brooke?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Lou. House Democratic Party leaders have dropped their plans to buy four corporate-style executive jets. The lawmakers are under fire for adding $330 million to the air force budget to buy the jets even though the pentagon did not request them. But they are still buying on four other aircraft for $220 million.

Divers in New York have recovered the final two bodies from that horrific wreckage of a plane that crashed in the Hudson River. The single-engine plane collided with a sightseeing helicopter Saturday afternoon, killing a total of nine people. The national transportation safety board is investigating the cause.

And General Motors saying its new electric car, you've heard of it, the Chevrolet Volt, could get 230 miles per gallon. The Volt is powered by an electric motor and a battery pack. The Volt is expected to go on sale in late 2010.

And, Lou, we'll stay on top of those stories for you tonight.

DOBBS: Well, especially the GM Volt, 230 miles to the gallon.

BALDWIN: Can you believe it?

DOBBS: That's just right. All right. Thank you very much, Brooke Baldwin.

Up next, the president holding his own town hall meeting. We'll tell you how he did. Warning some people, however, to watch out. Some folks are trying to scare the heck out of folks. Plenty of folks are scared, they're angry. They're letting their representatives hear it. Now we'll find out if they'll be represented. That story and more next.


DOBBS: Well, joining me now, three leading radio talk show hosts, from Washington, WOL, Sirius XM Radio, Joe Madison, Joe great to see you. Las Vegas, KBW Heidi Harris. Heidi, great to have you with us.


DOBBS: And here in New York, WOR, John Gambling, John, great to see you.


DOBBS: Let's go to as they say, let's go to the video.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you going to do to restore this country back to what our founders created according to the constitution?

DOBBS: A constituent of Senator Arlen Specter. Obvious anger, great emotion and frustration. This is un-American?

GAMBLING: It's certainly not un-American at all. And I will tell you, Lou, my listeners are just as passionate as that lady was and I watched that Arlen Specter town hall today. And it was amazing. I have been on this -- I've been in this business 33 years and I have never had a subject that has more heat behind it than this one does.

DOBBS: Joe Madison, your thoughts?

JOE MADISON, SIRIUS XM RADIO: Well, I've been in the business over 30 years also, and there have been subjects that have had a lot of heat. But I agree, this one has a great deal of heat. The clip you show, nothing wrong with it at all, although, let's be quite honest. I think the way the town hall meetings should run and I've run a few myself is that people have a right to be heard. And these cannot be contrived protests, not all are. But I strongly suggest, Lou, that maybe this is where we in the media need to step up and really have the kind of town hall meetings where information, not heat, but information can come about on a very complicated complex issue.

DOBBS: You know, as we've been doing on this broadcast, Joe, and I've got -- this is a bit of pats ourselves on the back. But we're going through every major public health care system in the world. And reporting to our audience here. It's not being done on any other broadcast.

MADISON: And I think -- I think maybe --

DOBBS: Go ahead.

MADISON: I was going to say.

DOBBS: I wasn't through patting us on the back.

MADISON: One of the things that maybe the two of us or three or four of us should do. I think CNN knows how to hold town hall meetings. You know how to do it. Maybe we should really step up, have town hall meetings and maybe go across this country between now and the vote in November.

DOBBS: Well, the vote in November, Heidi, what do you think that vote would be were it to come in November?

HARRIS: I don't think it's going to go well for the Democrat. My radio station is holding a town hall meeting this Friday in Las Vegas because most of our congressional delegation is not doing it, not responsive to the people. My listeners are fears yurious. I think they're all worried about 2010, and they should be because the Republicans have wisely stepped away from this. Notice how they're not saying too much?

DOBBS: I was just talking about that with Congressman Blackburn. Where are they? I'm not sure that we know entirely that we want them back, but where are they?

GAMBLING: Lou, I think we hold a town hall meeting every single day on our programs. That's basically what we do. And I think to Joe's point, I would have to disagree a little bit, Arlen Specter handed out 31 cards to people in the audience, and they were the ones that were able to speak to him. So he short of chose or limited the conversation.

MADISON: Yeah, but then, but then congress -- Senator Carden today in Maryland couldn't even get a sentence out of his mouth to -- barely could say hello before the protests and demonstrations started. Look, you hold a town hall meeting in Las Vegas, I hope that it is one in which both sides can be heard. But imagine if I showed up in Las Vegas and disrupted the town hall meeting that you're going to hold so the point that -- and no one could be heard. We would be arrested in Las Vegas and taken to jail for doing that.

HARRIS: I don't know, it's tough to get arrested in Vegas for that kind of thing.

DOBBS: I just want to ask you, I understand you're doing a stand up America. You've started a petition.

GAMBLING: We have. For the last week at WOR, we have had on our website WOR stand up for and we have a petition that basically says if you're afraid and want America to be -- go a different direction than where it appears the Obama administration wants to take us, read our petition, if you like what we're talking about, sign it, we've got over 10,000 people in less than a week and we're just a local radio station.

DOBBS: Terrific. Heidi, let us know how that goes. Are you expecting fireworks?

HARRIS: I am. We've invited all of the congressional delegation and some of our local politicians. We don't know if they'll show, but we're hoping they do. We're going to have people from both sides, a nonpartisan event. We're going to videotape it and put it up on our website. And you know, we're going to have a respectful dialogue. That's how it should be, I agree with Joe. That's the way --

DOBBS: I think we all agree on that.


DOBBS: And Joe, I've got to ask you this quick, we've got about 30 seconds. Do you believe that if these hearings on health care had been started from the outset substantive, open, wide-ranging, in-depth that we'd be at a different place than we are today?

MADISON: Absolutely. We should've taken John Conyer's suggestion when he was angry with Charlie Wrangle, there should have been sincere hearings heard on both sides of this issue and I don't care we'd have -- you're right, yes.

DOBBS: Joe, thank you very much as always, Heidi thank you for being here. We appreciate it. And here in New York, John as always.

And up at the top of the hour, Campbell Brown. Campbell?

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey there, Lou, we are also taking a closer look tonight at this battle over health care reform. We're trying tonight to separate some of the facts from the fear out there with all of the anger, all of the shouting. Hard to figure out what is actually real. We're going to focus on a fact check. Taking a look at some of the more outrageous charges we've heard.

Also, why are so many people hopping on Hillary Clinton? On a key diplomatic mission in Africa, but that's not what everybody's talking about. We'll have our mash-up and the other top news in a few minutes. Lou?

DOBBS: Channeling her husband. She didn't much like that, did she?

BROWN: Seemed to hit a nerve.

DOBBS: I think you're right. Campbell, I said we didn't have to thank you, but I'm going to thank you anyway. Feels good.

BROWN: You're welcome, Lou.

DOBBS: We'll be right back with your thoughts.


DOBBS: We've got time to take a look at your thoughts.

Penny in Colorado rote in to say, "Thank you for the series on other country's health care plans. Thank god someone's thinking. This is too important not to have all of the information available in this day in age." I think you're exactly right.

Rick in Arizona, "Lou, your common sense report reviewing health care in other countries, a breath of fresh air. Too bad none of our politicians can actually muster or common sense thought."

We love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts to

And a reminder to join me on the radios Monday through Friday 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. each afternoon on WOR radio. Go to, for the local listings in your area.

You can always follow me and I hope you do on Lou Dobbs news on

Thanks for being with us tonight. Join us here tomorrow.

For all of us, thanks for watching. Good night from New York.

Next, Campbell Brown.