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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Obama's Vacation; National Deficit; Defending the CIA; No More "Made in the USA"

Aired August 25, 2009 - 19:00   ET



Tonight, four more years -- President Obama nominates Ben Bernanke to a second term as the nation's top banker. The news comes as the White House said the national debt will skyrocket to unprecedented levels, doubling to more than $20 trillion over the next 10 years.

Also, a New Jersey town says "no way" to a planned visit by Libyan leader Moammar Ghadafi. Presidents are stunned that Ghadafi wants to pitch a tent near the homes of some of the families of the Lockerbie victims.

And as President Obama turns to religion to sell his health care plan, what role should religion play in the health care debate? That's our "Face Off" tonight.

Plus the latest on the reported homicide investigation in Michael Jackson's death and the sentence for pop singer Chris Brown.

But we begin tonight with a stunning admission by the White House. Unemployment and the deficit will surge higher than previous Obama administration forecasts. According to latest numbers unemployment will top 10 percent and the deficit will surge to $1.6 trillion this year alone. The latest numbers are putting renewed pressure on President Obama's agenda in Congress, but the president tried to deflect some of those problems by naming Ben Bernanke for a second term as Federal Reserve Board chairman. Dan Lothian is traveling with the vacationing president and reports from Martha's vineyard.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Obama promised a news-free vacation, even urging the press to take a walk on the beach. But he threw on a blue blazer, brought Fed Chief Ben Bernanke to a hot school gym, broke the rules, and made news.

BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ben approached a financial system on the verge of collapse with calm and wisdom, with bold action and out of the box thinking that has helped put the brakes on our economic free fall.

LOTHIAN: The White House says renominating Bernanke to another four-year term helps to maintain market stability, reduces any economic disruptions, and puts to rest speculation about who would get the job next. A vote of confidence for the Republican Fed chief, who like the president, admitted big challenges remain.

BEN BERNANKE, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: Our objective remains constant -- to restore a more stable financial and economic environment in which opportunity can again flourish.

LOTHIAN: The announcement came just minutes before the release of negative economic news, from the White House and Congressional Budget Office, projections of exploding deficits and mounting debt and unemployment over the next decade. And a prediction that the budget deficit this year will jump to a record, nearly $1.6 trillion, bigger than expected. It's ammunition for lawmakers who are concerned that this is not the climate to tackle health care reform.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: I'm afraid we've got to think about putting a lot of that off until the economy is out of recession. There's no reason we have to do it all now.

LOTHIAN: In helping to right the economy, Bernanke must first be confirmed by the Senate. In a statement Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd says "he's probably the right choice and has demonstrated leadership." But adds that Bernanke was "too slow to act during the early stages of the foreclosure crisis."


LOTHIAN: Senator Dodd says he still has some serious concerns about the Fed's failure to protect consumers and he's promising that the confirmation hearings will be thorough and comprehensive. Lisa?

SYLVESTER: Dan, you know Representative Dave Kemp, he's the senior, the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee -- he came out with a statement saying quote, "if the House Democrats unaffordable $1 trillion health care bill wasn't dead before, it is now." This has got -- this latest economic news has got to frustrate the agenda of the Obama administration?

LOTHIAN: Well, it must, because there's a lot of pressure -- before this news came out, I mean there's been a lot of pressure of how this administration plans to pay for this massive health care overhaul plan. And that's been one of the biggest criticisms of this plan, even among Democrats. And certainly this does add much more pressure to what the president is trying to do with regard to health care reform.

SYLVESTER: OK, we'll see what happens in September. Dan Lothian, thanks very much for your report.

Well, two of the nation's leading economists say reports that the recession is over may be premature. Earlier this month, a survey by the National Association for Business Economics found that most business owners believe the recession is ending, but economists Nouriel Roubini says large budget deficits and rising oil, food and energy prices indicate the economy could dip again. Roubini wrote in the "Financial Times," quote, "the recovery is likely to be anemic and there is a big risk of double dip inflation."

And Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz told "Rolling Stone" magazine quote, "we may have another very bad negative turn. It's a 50/50 chance that we will wind up in a real mess -- a double downturn recession."

Well, the White House and non partisan Congressional Budget Office say the recession will end this year, but the cost of getting us out of recession will be high. That's one reason our national debt is expected to now double in the next 10 years -- Louise Schiavone reports.


LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The news about federal red ink is out and it's gloomy. The federal deficit is expected to register $1.6 trillion this year, a figure generally accepted by both the White House Budget Office and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. And although that's lower than January's forecast, it's still more than three times as high as last year's deficit.

ANDY LAPERRIERE, ISI GROUP: The government is borrowing 40 cents out of every dollar it's spending this year. You know, that's just -- that's off the charts. And unfortunately, this is happening at a time when we're about to experience significant long-term problems with the budget as the baby boomers retire.

SCHIAVONE: Analysts agree that every year, those retirement costs, along with the exploding costs of Medicare and Medicaid, weigh ever more heavily on the federal government. Former CBO Director Rudy Penner says however unpopular, the programs have to change and he sees a real impact on current health care reform efforts.

RUDY PENNER, URBAN INSTITUTE, CBO DIR., 1983-1987: The main budget problem facing us is the excess growth of health costs. In my judgment, we shouldn't be talking about increasing coverage until we can prove that we can control those costs.

SCHIAVONE: Compounding the worries are projections about unemployment. The CBO and OMD see jobless rates above 10 percent well into next year. With Obama Budget Director Peter Orszag blogging, quote, "as a result of a deeper than expected recession, certain spending programs such as unemployment insurance and food stamps are projected to automatically increase and revenues are projected to automatically decline", end quote.

CBO says that has created a deficit amounting to roughly 11 percent of the nation's economy. Bad news says Diane Lim Rogers of the deficit watchdog Concord Coalition.

DIANE LIM ROGERS, CONCORD COALITION: The deficit as a shared GDP is at an alarmingly high rate. It is at a post World War II high. Our revenue base is not sufficient to pay for our ongoing needs in terms of health and retirement benefits.

SCHIAVONE: The White House forecasts borrowing of $9 trillion over the next 10 years to cover the deficits.


SCHIAVONE: Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Geithner has advised Congress that early this fall, lawmakers will be called upon to increase the nation's current debt limit of $12.1 trillion. Lisa?

SYLVESTER: Yeah, and this is a point that you made in your piece, Louise. This money is not free, we are borrowing, which will entail future interest rates and charges on that. It is an astronomical figure that we are facing. Thank you, Louise, very much, for your report.

Turning overseas, four U.S. troops were killed today by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan; 38 of our troops in Afghanistan have been killed this month. At least 40 civilians were killed and dozens more wounded today when a car bomb exploded in Kandahar. The blast occurred in the middle of a business district. It shattered windows more than a half a mile away. Early results from last week's presidential election show incumbent President Hamid Karzai with a slight lead over rival Abdullah Abdullah. Final results are expected next month.

Al Qaeda in Iraq today claims responsibility for last week's deadly explosions that killed more than 100 people. The group said that that attack was meant to weaken the Iraqi government. Car bombs were detonated near government buildings. Iraq and Syria have since recalled their ambassadors from each other's country over the bombings. Iraq demanded Syria turn over two men suspected in the bombings, but Syria has refused to do so.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney today strongly defended CIA interrogation tactics. The Obama administration yesterday released documents relating to the interrogations and began an investigation into possible wrongdoing. But the former vice president said those tactics were successful and that they prevented further attacks and saved lives. Brian Todd has our report.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's pretty clear the president...

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The former vice president claims vindication over how terrorist suspects were treated in U.S. custody. A statement from Dick Cheney says quote, "The documents released Monday clearly demonstrate that the individuals subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques provided the bulk of intelligence we gained about al Qaeda. This intelligence saved lives and prevented terrorist attacks."

But Cheney never says the techniques themselves, like waterboarding, ever led directly to those suspects giving up key information. A Cheney aide was not able to comment further on his statement. The techniques Cheney defends were authorized at the time and are not the methods now being investigated by the Justice Department. The CIA documents released Monday, including two sets Cheney had pressed the agency to disclose, do indicate that alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed didn't give much information before enhanced techniques were used on him. And a U.S. official with direct knowledge of the interrogation program, who would not talk on the record because he's not authorized to, tells CNN, "Had it not been for the conditioning technique, he would not have been as forthcoming. Prior to the use of those conditioning techniques, he tried to dodge everything or lie." Cheney had previously alluded to that.

DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: The interrogations were used on hardened terrorists after other efforts had failed.

TODD: The documents say Mohammed did eventually give up valuable information. "He shed light on plots and possible targets, leading to the disruption of several plots against the United States." But there's never a link saying waterboarding or any other enhanced technique led directly to a certain piece of intelligence. Cheney says the intelligence from enhanced techniques saved lives. But when we asked CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen whether American lives were saved...

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: The kinds of information that was being given up by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed after being coercively interrogated were about various plots they had on the drawing board to attack the United States a second time. But these -- most of these plots were not serious.

TODD: For one of the waterboarded suspects, Abu Zubaydah, the CIA inspector general's report says, "it is not possible to say definitively that the waterboard is the reason for Abu Zubaydah's increased production." One former CIA agent who was present for at least one waterboarding of Zubaydah told us more than a year ago it produced results.

JOHN KIRIAKOU, FORMER CIA AGENT: They did. With Abu Zubaydah, they worked very well, and we were able to corroborate the information that he provided after the waterboarding and it turned out to be accurate.


TODD: But the documents indicate Abu Zubaydah also gave up substantial information before being waterboarded, and an FBI interrogator of Zubaydah told "The New York Times" that the rough stuff was unnecessary, saying quote, "there was no actionable intelligence gained from using enhanced interrogation techniques on Abu Zubaydah that wasn't or couldn't have been gained from regular tactics." Lisa?

SYLVESTER: Brian Todd reporting from Washington. Great report, we appreciate it. Thanks, Brian.

Well just ahead, new details into Michael Jackson's death, his doctor, and the cocktail of drugs that killed him.

Also ahead, singer Chris Brown back in court to hear his sentence for assaulting his pop star girlfriend, Rihanna.

And then, this:


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But, he is -- wait a minute. Wait a minute. He is sincere in his beliefs.


SYLVESTER: What Senator McCain said today about President Obama that had this Sun City crowd in an uproar.


SYLVESTER: One day after presidential advisers said the swine flu could kill 90,000 people in this country, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said today that closing schools would not stop the spread of swine flu. Her comments come as schools are preparing for both the start of the school year and the flu season.


KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES SECY.: What we know is that we have the virus right now traveling around the United States and that having children in a learning situation is also beneficial. Lots of kids get fed at school, it's a safe place to be, and we want them to continue to learn. So what we learned last spring is that shutting a school down sort of preemptively doesn't really stop the virus from spreading.


SYLVESTER: Sebelius went on to say that vaccines, not school closings, need to be the defense against swine flu.

The American public today continued to be heard at town hall meetings across the nation. Democrats are planning hundreds of rallies to marshal support for President Obama's proposals. Republicans, too, are listening. Senator John McCain today, he hosted a town hall meeting in Sun City, Arizona, and his constituents there made it very clear how they feel about the president's plan.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I am convinced the president is absolutely sincere in his beliefs...


MCCAIN: But he is -- wait a minute. Wait a minute. He is sincere in his beliefs, we just happen to disagree, and he is the president of the United States and let's be respectful.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SYLVESTER: McCain expressed concern that Democrats would use obscure Senate rules to force their health care plan through without a full and open debate.


MCCAIN: I am unalterably opposed to that. It would be a drastic change in the way that the United States Senate does business and I hope that if you see something like that coming, you would not allow that to happen.


SYLVESTER: Yeah, that procedure known as reconciliation. The crowd at the senator's meeting was so large that some had to be turned away. They were able to watch the meeting, though, from an overflow room.

Well, tonight we continue with our series of reports on the quality of health care in other countries and how they compare to health care in this country. Tonight, Norway. Norway ranked eighth in a European quality of health care survey. Life expectancy in Norway is 80.5 years. Norway's universal care system, though, is mostly funded by public money and the tax rate reflects that. Norway has an income tax rate of more than 45 percent.


SYLVESTER: In Norway, the government provides universal health care to all citizens. But a common problem patients encounter in such a single-payer system, long wait times for elected procedures.

MICHAEL TANNER, CATO INSTITUTE: The big problem in Norway is whether or not you can get the care. Waiting lists are extensive. They've actually passed a law to require that people be evaluated within 30 days.

SYLVESTER: Norway, a wealthy country of more than 4.5 million people came up with an innovative solution to their waiting problem.

ASST. PROF. PETER MUENNING, COLUMBIA UNIV.: The government took action and so they will actually send you to Sweden or to Denmark to get that procedure done if you're one of those people that might have a long waiting list. And they'll pay for the transportation fees and things like that.

SYLVESTER: The Norwegian government will also pay for whatever care the doctor deems medically necessary. Norway spends more on health care per capita per person than any other European country at $4,763, second only to the United States, which spends $7,290.

PROF. BIANCA FROGNER, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIV.: The idea is that everyone pays into the Norwegian health care system. Again, everyone gets covered, with generous benefits, and everyone gets care.

SYLVESTER: The generous benefits include free hospital stays, free prescription drugs, and sick pay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you become sick for up to a year, the government will effectively -- and your employer will effectively pay your salary.

SYLVESTER: Health care costs consume 8.9 percent of GDP versus 16 percent of GDP in the U.S. The health system known as the National Insurance Scheme, is financed by general tax revenue. Norwegians also pay a small co-payment for outpatient treatment. Private insurance does not play a significant role in Norway. Thirty thousand people are estimated to have supplemental private insurance. Most people in Norway are relatively pleased with their generous health benefits.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Norwegians actually seem fairly satisfied, overall. There are frequent complaints about the waiting lists, but by and large, Norwegians don't seem to be particularly inclined to uproot or to make drastic changes to their system.


SYLVESTER: The Norwegian government, though, is fairly explicit about the fact that it rations care. It has a medical ethics board that has suggested that money is better spent serving as large of a number of people as possible rather than spending most of the money on a few with very expensive conditions.

And we will continue with our series of special reports on health care around the world. Tomorrow, India. Later in the week, New Zealand and Turkey. And you can also find out -- find our reports online if you want to get more information, go to

Up next, Chris -- singer Chris Brown finds out what his punishment will be for beating his pop star girlfriend, Rihanna. We will have the details and have that story.

Also ahead, should religion be part of the debate over health care in this country? That's the topic of our "Face Off" debate tonight.

And is the "made in the USA" label a thing of the past for clothing manufacturers? We'll have our special report, "DOBBS AND JOBS NOW!"


SYLVESTER: There are two pieces of good economic news to report tonight. A key measure of the economy, the Conference Board's consumer confidence index rose to 54.1 this month, much better than Wall Street expected. Consumer spending makes up two-thirds of our economic activity and this is the best reading of consumer confidence since the spring.

And there are signs of improvement in the housing market as well. The S&P Case-Shiller index of home prices in 20 major cities increased 1.4 percent in June. And that is the first time that the index has risen for two months in a row since 2006. Well, tonight we continue our series of special reports, "DOBBS AND JOBS NOW!" We have reported here for years about the devastating impact of manufacturing jobs being sent overseas -- clothing manufacturing jobs in the United States are down 60 percent since 2000. Brooke Baldwin reports on how the recession and cheap foreign labor are ripping the industry apart.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In New York's world of high-end fashion, big brand designers mean billions of dollars in business. But before the catwalks and cash come the clothes. Cut and sewn by hand by thousands in Manhattan's garment district.

Timmy Rosales (ph) has made a career here for the last 15 years. His pay, almost 12.50 an hour. But with slumping sales and a down economy, the city's apparel industry has hit a snag. In the last year and a half, Rosales' (ph) factory has slashed its staff by 60 percent.

(on camera): This a busy time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It should be, but we are not.

BALDWIN: I see machines over there that are dark.

MANUEL "TIMMY" ROSALES, GARMENT DISTRICT WORKER: Yeah. Because we have to move people and put it closer, try to save electricity, because there's no work.

BALDWIN (voice-over): Manhattan's garment district is home to about a third of New York's 29,000 apparel manufacturing jobs. Nationwide, the number of jobs in that sector has fallen by more than 60 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now that the business is shrinking...

BALDWIN: Factory owner Tony Singh fears his business may go the same way. He says the recession, rising rent, and cheap overseas labor are destroying jobs in the garment district. Only three percent of the clothing sold in the state is made in the USA.

TONY SINGH, FOUR SEASONS FASHION MFG.: It is tough because they're sending most of the work overseas like China, Indonesia, India, and those places. That's why the businesses, you know they're going more for cheaper labor. That's why there's not enough work in the United States.

BALDWIN: Manhattan's apparel manufacturers see their future in high end, small batch production that designers don't want to send overseas. It's work that would preserve the now 9,000 manufacturing jobs in the garment district.

ANDY WARD, GARMENT IND. DEVELOPMENT CORP.: Those workers are the ones that really created this industry. And without the workers, we really won't have an industry. BALDWIN: Workers like Timmy Rosales (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what I learned. This is what I love and I love to do this job.

BALDWIN: Who hopes his job will survive both this economic unraveling and a global shift.


BALDWIN: And keep Manhattan at the heart of this billion-dollar fashion industry.


BALDWIN: Now, fashion week in New York is just two weeks away and that's when a lot of the big-name designers show off their spring collections, which typically, typically translates into a considerable amount of work for these sewers, the pattern makers, the machine operators like Timmy. But as we witnessed in the factory, Lisa that we went into, that is not the case right now.

SYLVESTER: Yeah and these workers are not making a lot of money, as it is. I mean you go into a department store here in New York City and you look and you have the sticker shock when you see the price tag, but then their wages -- I mean there's such a gap there.

BALDWIN: There is a gap. One positive point that Tony pointed out, the factory owner, he said you know what, these people are at least making minimum wage. Timmy in the piece making $12.50 an hour and if you really do specialize in some of these patterns and the embroidery, you can make up to 15, $16. It's good work for these folks, but the work is going away.

SYLVESTER: Yeah, so many manufacturing jobs. I mean this is in the clothing industry, but across the United States, the manufacturing industry has just been hammered.

BALDWIN: Taken a hit.

SYLVESTER: Yeah. All right, thanks, Brooke, very much for that report.

And please join us tomorrow when we continue our series of special reports "DOBBS AND JOBS NOW!" We will be reporting on one county where one in three people are unemployed and the stimulus package nowhere to be found.

Well, coming up next, God, politics, and health care -- also an uproar over a planned visit by Libyan leader Moammar Ghadafi and a community stunned at where Ghadafi wants to pitch his tent.

And singer Chris Brown sentenced for assaulting his pop star girlfriend Rihanna.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SYLVESTER: President Obama has been using religious language in an attempt to draw support for his health care legislation. Just last week, the president had a conference call with faith-based groups in which he said, "we have an ethical and moral obligation to look out for one another." Well, this brings us to the subject of tonight's "Face Off".

Should the president be injecting religion into the health care debate? Joining me now from Baton Rouge, the president of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins and from Washington, the president of Sojourners, a Christian social justice organization, is the Reverend Jim Wallis. We're going to get started -- first, I want to play some of that sound from the president and I want to get both of your reactions. Tell me what you think about this.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: What I consider a core, ethical, and moral obligation that we look out for one another, that I am my brother's keeper and my sister's keeper, and in the wealthiest nation on earth right now, we are neglecting to live up to that call. I need you to knock on doors, talk to your neighbors. I need you to spread the facts and speak the truth. There are some folks out there who are, frankly, bearing false witness.


SYLVESTER: I am my brother's keeper, sister's keeper, bearing false witness. This is straight out of the Bible. Jim, I'll have you take it first. What do you think of this? And I understand your group actually helped arrange this conference call, right?

REV. JIM WALLIS, PRES., SOJOURNERS: Yeah, 145,000 people joined the call, about 300,000 people have listened since. It was a big call. From the abolition of slavery, to women's rights, people have helped to make change. Change is scary, especially in uncertain times like now and a nation doesn't change until we choose hope over fear and the religious community can help with that. That being said, there is no right religious position or bill on health care reform. You know, god didn't send down Moses from Mt. Sinai with a final bill passed on a committee. It was Ten Commandments. But, nonetheless, there are moral principles, I think biblical principles, like, god's will is for health and not sickness. And when we are instruments of bringing good health, we are going the work of god. And right now, we have a system that is fundamentally broken. So many people are hurting, they're left out, left behind, even if they have insurance, they can't afford good health. The system the broken has to be fixed. How to best fix it, I think, should be what we focus on, in a sane, reasonable, healthy, and I think, yes, a moral debate.

SYLVESTER: All right. Tony, does religion have a place here in this debate on Capitol Hill?

TONY PERKINS, PRESIDENT, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: Well, Lisa, I think increasingly, Americans have little faith in the president's proposal here on health care. And I think he's trying to inject faith into this discussion to try to bolster its support. I will say I agree with Jim. I think we have a long history in this country of faith playing a key part in the development of public policy and bringing about change in this country. There's no problem there. It's the inconsistency. You know, on one-half, the president is telling one group like Planned Parenthood that reproductive health care will be in his proposal. And then he's talking to the religious left groups, saying that those that are saying that's in there are bearing false witness. I think the president needs to go back to what we taught kids back in Sunday school about be careful of lies what you see and be careful little tongue what you speak. Because even members of the president's own party are saying that he's not being forthright. That abortion would be expanded and paid for with taxpayer dollars thin this bill.

SYLVESTER: Jim, when I heard President Obama make those comments, I thought it sounded like they were taking a page from President George W. Bush. That they were essentially trying to get Christian groups to rally around him and to cast this in a moral aspect, somehow, that we have a moral obligation to do this. Is this essentially ripping a page from the previous administration? Do you think this is a genuine effort? And do you think the public will see it that way?

WALLIS: Well, I know President Obama is, himself, a person of faith. And I think this is right from his own heart. But let me speak to what Tony said. Tony and I want to take abortion off the table here. There is a consensus in the faith community that federal funds should be prohibited from paying for abortions in a health care bill. That's where we have to go. Are all the bills clear on that now? Not yet. They're making progress on the hill. We're not there yet, but I'm committed to making sure that the rules aren't changed. The president has said that he doesn't want federal funds to pay for abortions. You shouldn't have to pay for somebody else's abortion, and you shouldn't even pay for your abortion with public funding. Now, I think, Tony and I should agree on this, because good health care reform, if we do this right, this could reduce abortion in this country. And all of us, pro-life and pro-choice, ought to agree with that. Good health care, giving women better health care, will more likely enable women to carry their child to term. So good health care reform could reduce abortion in this country. And I would love to see that.

SYLVESTER: Tony, should the government have a role here? A government-run health care system, or at least a greater participation?

PERKINS: Lisa, I think that there is a problem in health care. I mean, I've written about this in the book that Bishop Perry Jackson, I published last year, health care reform is a top issue that the church should be involved in solving. But it's not going to be solved by the government taking it over and taking away certain choices from the American people. I do think the government has a role to play here. I think we can talk about changing certain laws to cover some of those uninsured that range anywhere from 20 to 40 million Americans. Some of those are in between college and working. They could be put on their parent's policies. We could allow pools to be gathered across state lines to increase the pulleys and depress the costs. But the issue here, we really can't have that discussion. Because as Jim mentioned, if we could take the issue of abortion and this end-of-life counseling off the table, we could have a legitimate discussion over health care. But the president has refused to let his yes be yes and no be no, to borrow a passage from scripture and say, yes, I will accept one of the dozen amendments in committee that would say no to taxpayer funded abortion. He has yet to do that. And until he does, we can't have that discussion.

SYLVESTER: Jim, the final word.

WALLIS: You and I know there are a lot of fear and confusion out there and there are a lot of lies being told, falsehoods are being told. I think we have to commit ourselves to a debate which is honest. And most Americans don't want government bureaucrats or health care industry bureaucrats dictating their coverage. Doctors, patients, families, faith communities should have a choice about their health care. But more people need good choices. That's what good health care reform will be. The president wants that. I think he wants that and you and I need to help in a good debate. You and I, Tony, need to talk about how things like death panels and euthanasia, all these lies are not letting us have a good debate, a sane debate, a rational debate, a civil debate, and a moral debate on health care reform. Because we need it. We really need it.

SYLVESTER: We're going to have to continue this discussion a little later, there certainly is a lot more to discuss. Tony Perkins, really enjoy your join us and the reverend Jim Wallis, always a pleasure.

Up next, staggering new numbers on the deficit as the president nominates fed chairman been Bernanke for another four-year term. Our political panel will join us.

Also ahead, should Libyan dictator Moammar Ghadafi be allowed to travel freely in this country just after the Lockerbie bomber was given a hero's welcome in Tripoli?

And new information tonight on the investigation into Michael Jackson's death and the possibility of criminal charges against Jackson's personal physician. That's coming up, next.


SYLVESTER: There's new outrage tonight over the release of the pan am 103 bomber and Libya's handling of his home coming. Libya's leader, Moammar Ghadafi, he's coming to this country next month and he plans to stay at a residence in New Jersey owned by the Libyan government. But that property is very near where the families of some of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing live. Jill Dougherty reports.


JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Obama administration is still fuming at Libya over how it welcomed home the Lockerbie bomber. Now, President Barack Obama will be face to face with Libyan leader Moammar Ghadafi at next month's assembly in New York for talks on nuclear nonproliferation. The Libyan leader gave up his nukes back in 2003. The U.S. and western leaders tout that as a success that countries like Iran could imitate.

GORDON BROWN, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We want to work with countries, even countries like Libya, who have renounced nuclear weapons now and want to join the international community.

DOUGHERTY: But even where Ghadafi will stay while in New York is a diplomatic ticket. Speculation abounds he'll set up his air- conditioned tent in Englewood, New Jersey, on the lawn of a property now a beehive of activity close to families where victims of the Lockerbie bomber live. Frank Lautenberg says, no way. He wants secretary of state Hillary Clinton to stop it. I ask that travel restrictions be placed on any visa issued to Colonel Ghadafi, limiting him to travel only in the United States headquarters district. But it's not that simple, the state department says.

IAN KELLY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We are generally obligated to facilitate travel to foreign nationals to and from U.N. headquarters in New York.


DOUGHERTY: Officials here in this build say they're using intense diplomacy to avoid having this turn into a showdown. Discussions within the U.S. government and directly with the Libyans over where is the most appropriate place more Colonel Ghadafi to stay.

Jill Dougherty, CNN, the State Department.


SYLVESTER: And Brooke Baldwin has an update on other stories that we are following tonight. Brooke, what do you have for us?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lisa, I want to start with pop star Chris Brown who was sentenced today to five years of probation for assaulting his girlfriend singer, Rihanna. Brown was arrested in February after that incident that took place in a rented Lamborghini. Brown reportedly punched and choked Rihanna. Along with probation, he will have to complete domestic violence counseling.

Michael Jackson's doctor today, coming forward, dismissing claims made about Jackson's last few hours of life. In a statement, Dr. Murray's lawyers said, quote, much of which was in the search warrant affidavit is factual. However, unfortunately, much is police theory. Most egregiously, the time line reported by law enforcement was not obtained through interviews with Dr. Murray, as was implied by the affidavit. Now, the time line Dr. Murray's lawyer is referring to shows different drugs given to Jackson in his final hours. And according to the L.A. county coroner's office, Jackson's blood contained a lethal level of the sedative propofol. The associated press is reporting a law enforcement source saying Jackson's death was, in fact, a homicide. Bad fuel valve on the shuttle "Discovery" has forced NASA to again postpone the launch. "Discovery" had been scheduled to launch early this morning for a 13-day mission to the international space station. Thunderstorms had postponed that attempt. NASA has now rescheduled the launch for Wednesday, but the bad valve will further delay their mission. By the way, South Korea, however, launched its first rocket this morning. That rocket lifted off on time, but its satellite overshot its planned orbit. South Korean officials are calling the launch a partial success.

And how about this one? A retired South Carolina state employee is the sole winner of the $260 million Powerball Jackpot. Solomon Jackson didn't exactly offer much information about himself, but he did tell reporters he bought the tickets because lottery proceeds help support education. But have no fear, another multistate lottery, Megamillions, you've probably heard of it, that will be drawing for over $250 million tonight. Lisa, New York, one of the states in the Megamillions, and I can think of more than a few CNNers who might be hoping for their own press conference tomorrow.

SYLVESTER: We can always keep our fingers crossed, right?


Best luck to everyone out there.

Coming up, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke nominated for a second term.


OBAMA: Ben approached a financial system on the verge of collapse with calm and wisdom, with bold action and out of the box thinking that has helped put the brakes on our economic free fall.


SYLVESTER: Will this presidential nomination sail through the senate?

And former Vice President Dick Cheney, he's blasting the Obama administration for investigating CIA interrogation tactics. Our expert panel of political analysts will be joining me, next.


SYLVESTER: Joining me now are three of the best political analysts in the country. Syndicated columnist Miguel Perez. New York Daily News columnist, WWRL radio morning show host and CNN contributor, Errol Louis. And in Washington, D.C., Chris Stirewalt. I want to start with a statement former vice president Dick Cheney said about the CIA interrogations. He said, quote, President Obama's decision serves as a reminder, if any were need, of why so many Americans have doubts about this administration's ability to be responsible for our nation's security. Errol, I want to start first off with you. Is the president making a mistake here by moving forward, saying they're going to have an investigation?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, not at all. I think the vice president's statement is an attempt, I guess, to refight the election of last year. It's clear that the people want a different kind of policy. They voted in the new policy. I would have preferred, frankly, if the Obama administration, instead of trying to split the difference, saying that we want to leave the people at the top alone and leave the people at the bottom alone and we want to talk about these lawyers that got it wrong, I think they kind of muddled the issue. I would have much preferred just an open truth and reconciliation commission, if you want to call it that, led by the congress, led by the people.

SYLVESTER: Chris, is this going to be a political problem for President Obama?

CHRIS STIREWALT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, on the upside, for him politically, this may buy him time with liberal members of congress who wanted to do something like a truth and reconciliation council. This may him run the clock down a little bit, and they are certainly distracted by other issues right now. I think you can get a sense of the potential political liability that exists here by the moment at which the administration opted to do - if you wait until the president and congress are both out of town and you do it on a day where you have a massive news dump involving chairman Bernanke, the increased deficit, and debt numbers and all of this other stuff, this is obviously something they wanted to sort of drop off in the deep end of the pool. But how they handle it and where it goes from here, we'll have to see.

SYLVESTER: Yeah, funny thing how they have all of this coming out when the president is on vacation. And on that note, he announced Ben Bernanke was going to nominate for a second term here. Is this a good idea? I mean as we're moving forward, or do we need some fresh faces, fresh ideas?

MIGUEL PEREZ, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Bernanke is a good idea because it's the stability we need in our economy right now and I think a new name, a new face would've brought in all kinds of questions, doubts about the future of the economy. This is a guy who has been involved in all of the restructuring that's been going on all the new, you know, the reason why we're in the deficit, and the reason he understands it all, so hopefully this is the guy that can provide the calm that the president spoke about when he named him again.

SYLVESTER: I want you to comment on this, the deficit was $455 billion, and that was a record in 2008. Now, $1.6 trillion this year alone.

LOUIS: Well, I think as -- I am not a deficit hog. When I hear a scary number, I think about starting school and just out of high school. Had never really worked other than a caddy and I borrowed tens of thousands of dollars to go to school. Why? There was a reason. There was a reason that we have a deficit, it's intended to sort of stop a downward spiral that can plunge this country into a very severe, very long-lasting recession. Those who understand that, I think, are okay with the fact that we're doing what they told us we would have to do. Those of us who didn't want to try the stimulus package I'm sure are upset.

SYLVESTER: There are so many people in this country, this is reflective of the town halls across the country, so many people are saying this country is getting into way too much debt and on top of this, President Obama's talking about having a new health care obligation.

STIREWALT: Sure, Republicans and Democrats alike, liberals and conservatives agree that sometimes deficit spending is necessary. The concern people are starting to have now when we start talking about doubling the national debt in ten years, talking about adding another $9 trillion on top is that somewhere in five to ten years from now, the debt service just paying our obligations to our creditors on an annual basis becomes our largest single component of our federal spending. More than defense, more than social security, more than Medicare, more than anything else. So when you create that dynamic and you worry about how we're going to carry this very heavy weight in the future, adding a new entitlement program does frighten some people.


PEREZ: I'm one of those people that's frightened, because, again, we've borrowed a lot of money, there's been a lot of stimulation going on with our economy that I believe was necessary, but now when it comes to health care, people are clearly scared of getting too far into debt and not being able to pay for it. You know, more and more people now, including Senator Lieberman, I heard in this program, basically say listen we need to slow down. Maybe we need to do this a little slower. What is the superficial deadline we've imposed on ourselves about health care? Why do we do this piece by piece as soon as we can afford the changes then we make those changes instead of going deeper and deeper and more and more trillions of debt.

LOUIS: Under almost any scenario, if this is a successful transformation of the health care system, people's life expectancy will increase, their productive years will increase, their time at work will increase, the sick days will sort of go away, the catastrophic personal bankruptcies a year will be reduced to perhaps even eliminated. This has to be taken into account. It's not like we're putting money in a barrel and burning it by spending money on health care.

SYLVESTER: But Chris, I don't want you to respond and weigh in here. We know that former president Clinton went down this road and he ultimately was not able to get health care reform. And if you look at the numbers, the polls, support for President Obama's health care plan doesn't seem to be there.

STIREWALT: Well, look, there's clearly a problem there, and actually I think ironically part of the problem has been for the administration that they've been too worried about not replicating bill Clinton, bill and Hillary Clinton's mistakes in 1993, that's why they didn't come out with their own plan, that's why they didn't sell it in a straightforward way to people that they could get behind and really make a case for savings or how this is a moral choice or any of the arguments that they've put forward so far. But without the public support, you're just not going to be able to get it home, especially when people do have these kinds of worries because they know in their hearts that no government program ever costs less than it's predicted.

SYLVESTER: Chris Stirewalt, Miguel Perez, so many topics, so little time, we're going to have to move on, thank you, gentlemen, for joining us. Appreciate it.

Coming up at the top of the hour, Campbell Brown. Campbell, what are you working on today?

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey there, Lisa, we are also focusing on a story you mentioned, the anger over Ghadafi's plans to stay in a New Jersey town during his visit to the U.S. next month. We're going to talk to one furious resident who lives next door to where he may stay.

And the latest on the South African runner who is being asked to prove she is not a he. Interesting new details tonight.

And a hero teacher risks his safety to stop a massacre and save his students' lives.

And we'll be mashing up the big stories at the top of the hour. Lisa?

SYLVESTER: Thanks, Campbell.

And we will be right back. I get the question "does it work?" All the time and you know what, it works.


SYLVESTER: The U.S. postal service offered a buyout to as many as 30,000 employees; they hope the move will save $500 million. It is on the verge of financial collapse according to a Government Accountability Office report. Maria Ines Ferre reports.


MARIA INES FERRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Getting mail delivered to your home on a Saturday may be a thing of the past. That's if the U.S. postal service gets its way, the agency wants to cut costs, a trend it claims to be on for years.

MR. PATRICK DONAHOE, COO, U.S. POSTAL SERVICE: We now deliver every day to 150 million addresses with about a 630,000 career employees. If you go back ten years ago, we had over 800,000 employees delivering to 130 million addresses. We have gotten much more efficient much more effective on a day-to-day basis. FERRE: It's a high-risk area in need of attention from congress and the Obama administration. That's according to a recent report from the government accountability office. The federal entity has been bleeding money for the last three years. By the end of 2009, it's expected to reach $10.2 billion in debt. Why? For one, mail delivery has taken a nose dive. 203 billion pieces of mail delivered last year compared to an expected 175 billion this year. Unlike any other government agency, USPS is paying $5.4 billion yearly through 2016 to fully fund benefits for future retirees. Dennis is the author of "The Book of U.S. Government Jobs."

DENNIS DAMP, AUTHOR, "THE BOOK OF U.S. GOVERNMENT JOBS": It's paramount they streamline, contract out what can be handled more efficiently and cost-effectively by others and work on getting down to where they need to be to be efficient, productive, and profitable. If they can't be profitable, they're not going to be viable and they're going to keep going back to congress for money and relief, which isn't going to work.


FERRE: And the postal service says it's selling other ones and freezing salaries of all service officers and executives. All in all, hopes to save about $6 billion this year, Lisa.

SYLVESTER: Thanks, Maria. And thanks for being with us tonight. Next, "Campbell Brown."