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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Obama's Blitz; Democrats v. Obama; Wilson Rebuke; Health Care in Mexico; ACORN Investigation

Aired September 15, 2009 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Wolf.

President Obama playing to his base today declaring he has plenty of fight left in him with his health care plan in jeopardy. A coming (ph) media blitz could be the president's final opportunity to change any minds.

Congressman Joe Wilson officially rebuked in the House of Representatives because he called President Obama a liar. But Wilson stays defiant. He refuses to offer up any more apologies.

And here we go again -- another school bus beating caught on tape, this time in St. Louis -- teams screaming and cheering while a kid is pummeled.

And ACORN, the left-wing organization under fire calling for investigations and demands tonight that President Obama cut off all, all government ties to the organization. We'll have the latest report on ACORN, a report you'll see only here.

ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of LOU DOBBS TONIGHT; news, debate and analysis for Tuesday, September 15th. Live from Washington, Mr. Independent, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening everybody. Preaching to the choir, that's what President Obama hopes he was doing today. In three campaign style speeches, President Obama went to union country trying to shore up big labor support of his health care plans -- plans that by most measures are in big trouble.

It was the beginning of a planned health care media blitz. A blitz that will have the president appear on five Sunday talk shows and "David Letterman". Any legitimate efforts to recruit Republicans seemed to have been abandoned by this administration, even the so- called gang of six, the partisan -- bipartisan group of senators has collapsed.

Dan Lothian reports from the White House. Dan, it seems very much certain that the president and the Democrats will be going it alone.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it really does seem that way, but the White House is still insisting that the president very much wants to get a bipartisan effort on health care reform even though for weeks Democrats have been signaling that they're willing to go along. And we saw more trouble, as you pointed out, among the gang of six, those three Republican senators, three Democrats who have been working now for quite some time to come up with a bipartisan proposal.

And my colleague up on the Hill, Dana Bash, sources telling her that the chairman, Max Baucus, will be unveiling a proposal tomorrow without the support of those three Republican senators because they still have a lot of concerns. But I should point out that those Republicans are saying that they're not walking away from the table yet, that they're still talking, and a White House official telling me that he's very, very pleased with that.

Meanwhile, the president has been doing an all-out full-court press on marketing health care reform today making stops in Ohio and Pennsylvania. And at one point, he sounded a bit like Rocky.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As long as you've still got an ounce of fight left in you, I've got a ton of fight left in me.


OBAMA: I've said it before. I'm skinny, but I'm tough. And as long as I have the privilege of being your president, I'm going to keep fighting for a future that is brighter for this community and brighter for Ohio and brighter for the United States of America.


LOTHIAN: And the president pointing out again today that health care reform cannot wait and that this is much more than just about the people who don't have health care insurance but also about those who do have it but are concerned about what will happen if they lose their jobs or if they get ill with a preexisting condition -- Lou.

DOBBS: Dan, the White House, are they a little concerned that it's getting a bit thin to call participation by three senators whose participation, by the way, tonight it appears they don't have, to call that bipartisan? What's the feeling there?

LOTHIAN: Well, I was talking to one administration official who told me, listen, the game isn't over yet. They're still talking. Republicans are still at the table and until they walk away from the table, they're going to be very optimistic about this. And they do believe that the president getting out there and stumping the way he has been in a sense for health care reform will help. Not only up on Capitol Hill but they believe that the president getting out, talking to the American people as well will help to get more support for health care reform.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Dan -- Dan Lothian from the White House.

Well, the president's media blitz so far has failed to sell the health care reform message. It's an effort that has failed as measured by a new "USA Today"/Gallup poll, a poll that finds 60 percent of Americans now say the plan to overhaul health care would not actually do what the president claims it would.

And only 43 percent approve of the way President Obama is handling the entire health care issue. And first it was the right. Now the president is being ripped off by the left over health care for illegal immigrants. Democrat Luis Gutierrez (ph), who happens to have been the first Latino congressman to endorse Barack Obama for president is simply outraged that the Obama administration is trying to bar illegal immigrants from private health care insurance. Lisa Sylvester has our report.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez (ph) has been a loyal supporter of President Obama, but this week he is sharply criticizing the president, this after the White House said it would move to bar illegal immigrants from buying private insurance in what's referred to as the exchange. The exchange is a key part of the administration's health reform proposal, a one-stop shop where consumers would be able to get the lowest health insurance rates.

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: On the one hand, they say they're for comprehensive immigration reform. They call gatherings together at the White House to search for a solution to comprehensive immigration reform. And on the other hand, they drive the very immigrants that they say they want to be helpful to they drive them further and further underground and further and further away from health care.

SYLVESTER: Gutierrez is accusing the White House of giving in to Representative Joe Wilson. Wilson became a household name after he yelled out "you lie" to the president over whether illegal residents would get health benefits. The White House insists its position hasn't changed, that the president since the campaign has opposed extending coverage to those in the country illegally.

But Representative Gutierrez argues unless illegal immigrants are included, they will continue to receive care at the emergency rooms, the most expensive place to get health coverage. But giving illegal immigrants health coverage is an unpopular idea with conservative talk show radio hosts who are gathering in Washington, D.C. as part of a radio rally and with citizens who participated in a march in D.C. over the weekend concerned about rising government debt.

JERRY PARK, VIRGINIA RESIDENT: The bottom line, we can't afford these things anymore. The government should be concentrating on cutting spending on all the programs. Not thinking of new wonderful ways to spend even more, exponentially more than they're spending now.


SYLVESTER: Representative Gutierrez said that the Hispanic Congressional Caucus might want to consider using their votes on future pieces of legislation as leverage to get more concessions, much the way the Blue Dog Democrats are currently doing. But when I asked Representative Gutierrez point blank if he would vote against the health care bill if it includes enforcements to screen our illegal immigrants and ban illegal immigrants from participating in the health care exchange, he said he wouldn't go that far, that that was something that he wanted to talk over with his caucus members first -- Lou.

DOBBS: You have got to give Congressman Gutierrez credit. He's not running from the issue. He's saying point blank he wants health care insurance. He wants health care coverage for illegal immigrants in this country whether they be 12 or 20 million or whatever the number may be.

SYLVESTER: Yes, he's definitely making the case, and so many Democrats on this issue who tried to essentially say no, we don't believe that it's for, but they don't want to have the enforcement there. At least Representative Gutierrez is saying well this is my position. This is where I stand on it and he's defending that position.

DOBBS: Yes and that's a matter of principle, for which I have to say you know I have great amount for the congressman for saying it straight up that way. It may not be good politics, at least as good politics is practiced in this town, but it's certainly straightforward candor that we need a lot more of. Thank you very much. Thanks, Lisa.

A breach of decorum is how one Democrat sponsored resolution describes Congressman Joe Wilson's outburst. He shouted "you lie" at President Obama during the joint congressional session last week. That resolution rebuking Congressman Wilson passed 240-179, as you might expect, along party lines. But Americans don't seem to be so offended or supportive of such a resolution.

A "USA Today"/Gallup poll finds only 23 percent of Americans are outraged by the congressman's comment while 45 percent were not. Brianna Keilar reports now from Capitol Hill. Brianna, is Congressman Wilson under any real pressure from his own party to apologize further?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not today, Lou. He took to the floor, actually, as the first Republican to speak during the debate portion once this resolution was introduced. And he certainly did not apologize, saying that apologizing to the president was enough.


REP. JOE WILSON (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: He graciously accepted my apology, and the issue is over. However, this action today will have done nothing for the taxpayers to rein in the growing cost and size of the federal government. It will not help more Americans secure jobs, promote better education, insure retirement or reform health insurance.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KEILAR: Now Republican leaders blasted Democrats for bringing up this resolution for a vote, but the one Democratic leader who spoke during the debate portion of this, Jim Clyburn, also of South Carolina, said it was necessary.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: This is nothing more than a partisan stunt aimed at trying to divert people's attention from the real issue that the American people want to talk and that's talk about health care.

REP. JIM CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: This is not a partisan stunt. I do not participate in partisan stunts. If the rules are not honored, if the rules of this House are not there to maintain order, we can never get to these discussions.


KEILAR: So while we heard from every Republican House leader as well as Congressman Wilson and some other rank and file Republicans, we only actually heard from two Democrats. Steny Hoyer, the number two in the House who introduced and spoke about this Bill, and then Jim Clyburn, who you just saw there, the number three, who covered all of the debate portion.

This was clearly a concerted effort on the part of Democratic leaders to really focus this debate on the conduct, Lou, instead of allowing some of the rank and file Democrats who we have heard being incredibly angry in the halls here suggesting that not responding or really the comments of Congressman Wilson encourage racism. We certainly did not hear them speak today, and that was no accident.

DOBBS: Well, it seems that that is no accident, but it looks as though they're running from their own resolution when they wouldn't appear to support it. Is that not also a fair conclusion to any analysis of what is going on there?

KEILAR: Well you mean a few of the Democrats who decided not to vote for this?

DOBBS: What I really am referring to is that only two Democrats were prepared to speak on behalf of this resolution -- the fact that Speaker Pelosi was absent all together. Where was she?

KEILAR: She did vote yes on this resolution, but she was noticeably absent, Lou. She did not speak during this debate. And when we asked her some questions in the hall today about this vote, on at least one occasion, she kind of brushed it aside, made it clear that she was focusing on health care, so it's pretty clear that the speaker wants to move on from what has obviously become a distracting controversy when the House is trying to talk about health care in the wake of the president's speech last week.

DOBBS: And the House led by the Democrats, the very Democrats who sponsored the resolution that they say is a distraction. That gets to be pretty confounding and complicated, doesn't it Brianna?

KEILAR: Well, Lou, I think it is certainly interesting to see how they focus this debate and where some people did speak and some people didn't speak. What I found particularly interesting was that some of those really upset Democrats were not obviously on the floor today to talk about really why they were really, really angry about what Congressman Wilson said.

DOBBS: All right. Thank you very much -- Brianna Keilar from Capitol Hill.

It's becoming a difficult sell for the president, the president now struggling to convince Americans that his health care proposals make sense and could work. Is it safe to say the so-called public option is now gone forever? We'll have the analysis.

Also ACORN, the left wing organization hammered again today. Republicans want President Obama to cut all ties to the leftist activist group. And look at these kids, if you will. It is not a pretty sight. Screaming and cheering as one of their fellow riders on that school bus is caught on tape beating another -- this in St. Louis. We'll show you what happened and as best we can understand it, why.


DOBBS: The swine flu vaccine will apparently be available earlier than had been expected, possibly now within the next three weeks -- the Centers for Disease Control announcing the new delivery dates today a week after researchers determined that a single injection could be effective against the virus. Given that 11 states are already reporting flu the timing could save lives.

We continue tonight our coverage of health care systems that we have examined all around the developed world and how those health care systems compare with health care in the United States. Tonight, we take a look at Mexico. Just four years ago, Mexico passed universal health care for all of its citizens. But the quality of care is inconsistent across regions of the country. Life expectancy in Mexico is 76 years. Kitty Pilgrim has our report.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Less than a decade ago, half of Mexico's population, 50 million people, were uninsured and it was getting steadily worse, the poor getting poorer, a social crisis according to a World Bank official who specializes in Mexican health care.

KEITH HANSEN, WORLD BANK: This was unbefitting a great nation and a country that has one of the 10 or 12 largest economies in the world.

PILGRIM: The desperately poor were caught, according to Julio Frenk (ph), who led health care reform as Mexico's minister of health from 2000 to 2006. JULIO FRENK, HARVARD SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: We were able to estimate that there were about between three and four million families every year that were thrown into poverty because they had to pay for health care.

PILGRIM: Now 35 million of the 50 million people who were previously uninsured are now covered under Mexico's new people's insurance plan. Frenk (ph) says the country is back on track to provide universal health care by the end of 2010. He is now the dean of Harvard University's School of Public Health.

FRENK: Lots of disagreements on the details, but at least there was consensus that the status quo was not an option that we couldn't continue to live in a society where you systematically exclude half of the population.

PILGRIM: Mexico still has a long way to go in terms of quality of care. Mexico only spends 6.2 percent of GDP on health care, about $97 billion, compared to 16 percent of GDP spent in the United States. That works out to $527 per each person a year compared to 7,290 in the United States.

There is one doctor to every 500 people in Mexico compared to one to 416 in the United States. Life expectancy is 76 years, two years lower than in the U.S. There are four main options for health care insurance. Just under half of people are expected to be covered under the people's insurance plan put in place in 2004.

An employer based system currently serves 40 percent of the population that makes up the working class. Government workers have their own plan. Less than five percent of people pay for private health care. A fifth of Mexicans, the poorest, are exempt from paying for health insurance. After that one pays according to income. State and federal governments also contribute to the system. Health care quality and access vary dramatically depending on the state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Poorer states tend to have more problems, longer lines, more complaints, more stock-outs (ph) of drugs, et cetera. Things have been progressively getting better, but this remains a big challenge for the system.


PILGRIM: Now despite the reform, inefficiencies remain. It's estimated that Mexico loses more than $1 billion a year because of a lack of coordination among the different health care systems, Lou.

DOBBS: Kitty, thank you very much -- Kitty Pilgrim.

Up next here, demands that the Feds investigate the leftist activist group ACORN, also new developments in the murder of that Yale University graduate student. We'll have the latest for you and disturbing video -- another kid brutally beaten on a school bus while the other kids cheer the assault on.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: On Capitol Hill, Republicans moving to block all taxpayer funding for the left-wing activist group ACORN. The Republicans demanding that President Obama cut that funding, and if he doesn't, they say they'll introduce legislation to try to do it themselves.

Also today, Senator Richard Shelby wrote Senator Chris Dodd, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. Shelby calling for a congressional investigation of ACORN -- Senator Dodd's office tells us Senator Dodd now supports an appropriate investigation, as they put it, of ACORN.

The Senate yesterday passed an amendment that bars ACORN from receiving federal funds under the Transportation and Housing Bill, and the Census Bureau has already dropped ACORN from its roll -- its planned roll in the 2010 census. We have been reporting here for some time about ACORN and its employees who have been investigated and convicted of voter registration fraud all across the country.

Now this broadcast has uncovered a tie-in between ACORN and a candidate for high office in New York. The case shows just how entwined ACORN and political campaigns, finances, and candidates have become. Bill Tucker has our report.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): ACORN has links with dozens of affiliated organizations across the United States, sharing office space, staff, and goals. Last year, workers for the organization were investigated for alleged involvement in voter legislation fraud. The National Legal and Policy Center, a long time critic of ACORN says it has other concerns.

PETER FLAHERTY, NATIONAL LEGAL AND POLICY CENTER: Well ACORN is under investigation in a number of states for allegations of voter registration fraud, but I think there's an even deeper scandal when it comes to their finances.

TUCKER: Earlier this month, New York City's Campaign Finance Board expressed concerned that seven candidates might be in violation of campaign laws because they were not paying full value for services from Data and Field Services (ph). That's a firm created by the Working Families Party, which works out of the same building as ACORN.

The board says its concern is Data and Field Services (ph) might be offering discounts to council members for services to dodge contribution limits. City Councilman Bill de Blasio (ph) paid affiliates of ACORN $110,000 for campaign services, including $5,000 to Date and Field Services (ph) for a list of voters. Other campaigns complained that was too little.

De Blasio (ph) is a supporter of ACORN and in 2008, he and three other council members directed $75,000 to ACORN housing to provide income tax preparation assistance. De Blasio (ph) declined our request for an interview. ACORN refused to take questions from LOU DOBBS TONIGHT about its links to the Working Families Party and Data and Field Services (ph). Two month ago, Republican Darrell Issa (ph), ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, described ACORN as a deliberately opaque (ph) shell game designed to hide the movement of funds between different parts of the organization and its affiliates.

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R-CA), GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT CMTE.: One of the secrets to ACORN's success is there are more corporations than there are states in the union and probably than there are counties is most states. They have been able to make it impossible for you to see the back and forth and often they're located in those same, same physical building.

TUCKER: ACORN has received more than $53 million in taxpayer dollars since 1994.


TUCKER: Now Lou, ACORN was already in hot water here in New York City over the release of hidden videotapes showing employees advising undercover filmmakers as a pimp and a prostitute on how to hide that money. The Brooklyn district attorney in New York today announced that he is opening an investigation into ACORN's actions. ACORN, as we know, has been critical of their tape saying it was doctored and have raised questions about the veracity of that tape -- Lou.

DOBBS: And the questions are building about why now the U.S. Justice Department has not launched an investigation of its own.

TUCKER: They are indeed.

DOBBS: Thank you very much -- Bill Tucker. Appreciate it.

Up next our "Face Off" debate -- what are the biggest hurdles to overcome in the health care debate? Well, we'll have the answers and this disturbing video from a suburb of St. Louis. A young man brutally beaten on his way to school as his fellow students stand by and cheer on his assailant.


ANNOUNCER: Here again, Mr. Independent, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Well, major huddles still ahead for health care legislation. In tonight's "Face Off" debate, that's our subject. Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (ph), Democrat of New Jersey joins us who says the big hurdle -- the biggest hurdle is clearing up what he calls the misconceptions about the plan. Good to have you with us, Congressman.

And Congressman Marsha Blackburn (ph), Republican of Tennessee who says the biggest concern in her view is the so-called public option -- good to have you with us.

Well, Max Baucus, Senator Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, as you both know, is expected to move ahead without support of the so-called gang of six bipartisan. Congressman Pallone, just how will that affect the way in your judgment your Democrat colleagues in the House will proceed? REP. FRANK PALLONE (D), NEW JERSEY: Well I think the fact that he's moving is significant because obviously, we would like to see movement in the House and the Senate. We have the bill out of committee in the House but not in the Senate, so I think it shows that we're going to move forward and that I think it has a positive impact on the House because now I think they'll be willing to take the bill to the floor.

DOBBS: What do you think of your colleague? They say they have not walked away in the Senate. Senator Enzi and Senator Grassley. The idea that they would walk away. Three Republicans senators make -- do they really make bipartisan legislation, those three?

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: Well, I guess the way the Senate operates, they feel they do, but I feel the thing to watch is what is happening with the American people. The poll you showed earlier, 60 percent of the American people think that this health care is on the wrong track.

So if Senator Baucus brings a bill forward, most American people are going to say, he's bringing something out, but it's the wrong thing and it's on the wrong track and it's not done in a bipartisan manner.

DOBBS: Congressman Pallone, the -- what is the single biggest hurdle? I mean this president is going to -- six weeks pushing his so-called health care plan. The numbers have worsen for him over that, almost week to week. This is a Congress that is dominated by Democrats, led by Democrats in a Democratic White House.

What is going on here?

PALLONE: Well, as I said before, I think the problem is misconceptions. You know you still have people who think it's euthanasia or that, you know, the public option, for example, is going to be mandated. They don't understand that there's choice and competition.

The whole purpose of this legislation is to provide more choice and competition and make health insurance more affordable, but a lot of those misconceptions continue. And I think that's indicated in some of your polling.

DOBBS: I -- you may well be right, but the Congressional Budget Office, the Congressional Research Bureau, they have contradicted in principle the president of the United States for his statements on efficiency, for his statements on cost, the savings that would be generated through on an initiative of preventative care.

He's been contradicted three times by a Democratic-led, nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

PALLONE: Well, you talk about the cost. You know one of the things, one of the points that I continue to make is the cost to this system as a whole will go down, but the government, because, you know, they're covering more people under Medicaid. They're providing subsidies to people who are in the health exchange so that insurance is more affordable.

It actually is additional cost to the government, but it is paid for, and that's the difference. It's paid for through savings and also through new revenues. But I think that there is again a misconception that somehow the government is going to be paying less. That's not true.

This cost $1 trillion or maybe a little less than that, but it's paid for. It doesn't create debt. And it is paid for through a combination of savings in existing programs, as well as new sources of revenue. So I think that's, again, part of the misconception.

BLACKBURN: The problem is the American people don't buy into the concept of the public option. They don't want government-run health care. There is no example where a public option has actually brought down cost and has increased access.

When you have a public option like we did in Tennessee, what you see is you move toward rationing and restricted access, and your cost goes up. Always does. Then they'll say, well, Medicare is our public option.

You talk about savings. They're saying they're going to get a half trillion of savings out of Medicare? What they forget, Medicare is not an option. It is a mandate. And individuals have had that money coming out of their paycheck. That is an obligation that government has.

And if you have savings in that program, if goes back to those that are in that program, not to another program.

PALLONE: But I disagree with Marsha on the savings from the public option. I mean the bottom line is the public option because it's essentially nonprofit, in other words, there's no -- they're not making money on it because it's a public option. I think if you have that in competition with these private plans in this health exchange, you will bring down insurance costs.

BLACKBURN: But it doesn't work. You can look at...

PALLONE: Well, I...

BLACKBURN: ... TennCare in Tennessee.

PALLONE: I know TennCare, but...

BLACKBURN: It doesn't work.

PALLONE: TennCare is a little different.

BLACKBURN: And that is a public option.

PALLONE: Because they cut back significantly on the program.

BLACKBURN: To get the costs down because they had to remove people from the roll. (CROSSTALK)

PALLONE: I don't agree. I think there's no way that a public option doesn't bring down costs.

BLACKBURN: You can look at TennCare's example that we had in Tennessee. It -- well, there's not an example where it has. It always drives up the cost. You can look at Massachusetts. You can look at Tennessee.

PALLONE: Well, we don't have it in Massachusetts.

BLACKBURN: You can look at Maine.

PALLONE: There is no public option in Massachusetts.

BLACKBURN: You can look at all these different proposals that have been tried. There's not one to bring down cost.

DOBBS: Thank you both.

BLACKBURN: Thank you.

DOBBS: I wish we had more time. And as the saying goes, the debate continues. Thank you very much, Congressman Pallone. Thank you very much, Congresswoman Blackburn.

BLACKBURN: Thank you.

DOBBS: Thank you.

Well, still ahead, who is the president calling a jackass? Also, ACORN under fire. Why should that be? New allegations spell even more trouble for the left-wing activist group and potentially the Democrat Party. If not this president.

Disturbing video as well tonight of a vicious attack on a suburban St. Louis school bus.


DOBBS: A 17-year-old Florida high school student today was killed when he was stabbed in a school yard fight. Two boys at Coral Gables Senior High School reportedly arguing. One stabbed the other in the chest. Police have not yet released the identity of the attacker. He is in custody.

Also today, a brutal beating on a school bus leaving two teens in jail and a community asking why it occurred. The 17-year-old victim was punched, kicked, and choked. Other riders on that school bus cheered as the attackers raged on. Even more disturbing, that assault captured on the bus surveillance camera, was completely unprovoked.

Ines Ferre has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) INES FERRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Watch this surveillance video closely as this 17-year-old boy attempts to sit down on a school bus seat. Bellaville, Illinois police say he's told he can't sit there, but he does anyway. He's then taunted by some of his peers and violently beaten, not once but twice.

Many of the kids around the fight are cheering it on. One student snaps a cell phone picture. A Bellaville police captain initially said he thought based on the video, race was a factor in the beating. The two suspects are black. The victim is white. Today, he backtracked on the comment saying he'll let detectives examine the evidence.

It's not the first time video has shown some kids just stand around or even encourage a fight. This video was taken in June by a bystander watching the beating of a South Chicago Heights, Illinois girl. Her attackers cutting her hair and burning her with a lighter. The victim said she was surrounded by five or six bystanders. The victim's mother was appalled.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's sickening. Where is the humanity in the world? You know? How could you just stand there and watch somebody go through that and not do anything?

FERRE: A survey by the CDC shows that in 2007, almost 36 percent of 9th to 12th graders reported being in a physical fight that past year.

DR. GAIL SALTZ, PSYCHOLOGIST, WEIL-CORNELL MEDICAL SCHOOL: It's a sign of the failure of the system which we should be trying to do something about. We need to teach empathy and we need to do a better job of teaching moral importance. That that is more important, quite frankly, than academic success.


FERRE: And as for the bus fight, the school district had no comment and the bus company said that the driver who had been telling the kids to sit down was a few minutes away from the school when he noticed the fight. He dispatched for help to meet him at the school. Two suspects, 14- and 15-year-olds were suspended and may face charges as juveniles -- Lou?

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Ines Ferre.

Up next, the president unfiltered. And a comment about a rapper that he wanted to take back. We'll have that. And the president on a media blitz. But he's not talking to everybody.

And pimps, prostitutes, and videotape. And now more trouble for the left-wing activist group ACORN. Who in this town really cares?


DOBBS: Former Border Patrol agent Ignacio Ramos was denied permission to travel to Washington to attend the "Hold Their Feet to the Fire" conference held today.

Ramos and his partner fellow Border Patrol office Jose Compean were convicted for the 2005 shooting of a fleeing illegal alien drug smuggler. The men were convicted in the testimony of that smuggler who was given immunity for his testimony and whose involvement in drug smuggling was information denied the jury.

President Bush commuted their sentences in his final day in office. Those convictions are -- will still stand. The men require permission to trial. And they were denied by the same federal judge who presided over their conviction.

Joining me now to talk about politics, Nia-Malika Henderson, White House reporter for Politico. Good to see you now.

And Chris Stirewalt, political editor, "Washington Examiner," good to have you with us.

And Steve McMahon, Democratic strategists, thanks for being with us.

Let's go to the -- first, let's start with the House of Representatives, Steve, passing a resolution rebuking Congressman Joe Wilson for his outburst during the joint session speech by President Obama. What do you make of it?

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I mean, I think the House has rules. And if he had done that to a member of Congress, he would have been reprimanded or censured. And he did it to the president of the United States in the joint session of Congress, the most inappropriate place in the world to do it.

President Obama was right to accept his apology. He was right to apologize. But he's (INAUDIBLE) to the House of Representatives more than the president. And decorum is important.

DOBBS: Decorum is important. Was it so offended in the House? It seemed to me to be more, really, an insult to the Office of the President?

CHRIS STIREWALT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, I mean, sure, it's true that they have rules. I think the larger question is, does this communicate the right message to the American voter? Does this do the right thing for the Democratically led House that's struggling in the polls right now, that's having some trouble with their initiatives?

Does talking about this move the ball? And I think that you saw by the speaker not participating in a very robust way and then limiting debate was clearly seen as a negative that it was a distraction.


NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, POLITICO: Yes, I mean, they clearly wanted to move on for this. They've gotten some, you know, political mileage out of this. By having Joe Wilson kind of be a stand-in for the -- you know, kind of the rowdy Republican Party in some ways and kind of reducing their argument to his outburst. So they got some mileage out of it, but it's clearly -- you know, I think Pelosi's move kind of signaled that it's time to move on.

DOBBS: Interestingly, Speaker Pelosi was not visible today at all. Steny Hoyer is standing up here and taking the brunt of it. It seemed almost a reluctant process, moving this resolution ahead.

And taking the brunt of the fall here, Joe Wilson, he's bringing in over a million dollars in new funding and by a 2-1 margin those are the most recent pollings supporting Congressman Wilson, not the House that seeks to rebuke it.

MCMAHON: Well, I mean, I think the House would have preferred -- everybody would have preferred if Congressman Wilson had stood up and apologized instead of making a phone call to Rahm Emanuel saying my leader said I should make this phone call so I'm making the call.

It's important, I think, for the House of Representatives and United States Senate to have the respect for the president of the United States. And not...


MCMAHON: And not just for show.

DOBBS: Well, no, I'm just asking, just curious, I mean, are you suggesting we have a requirement of sincerity on the part of the House members?

MCMAHON: I don't know how you would ever enforce that one, but I am suggesting that when the president comes and gives an address to a joint session of Congress, when he's invited there by the Congress, people shouldn't stand up and say you lie.

DOBBS: Well, I don't think...


MCMAHON: And if they do, they should apologize and they should take it like a man. And this guy made a call to Rahm Emanuel and said I was told to make this call. It wasn't really an apology. It was basically...

DOBBS: It was an apology accepted by the president.

MCMAHON: It was accepted by the president because the president is a bigger man than Joe Wilson, apparently.

DOBBS: Mm-hmm. But being a bigger man...

MCMAHON: But the...

DOBBS: But what does that make then...

MCMAHON: The House has rules. If he had done the very same thing to a member of Congress, he would have been reprimanded by the House. He did it to the president of the United States.

DOBBS: No, I don't think anybody would argue that it wasn't bad form whatsoever. Pete Stark -- speaking of bad form. I mean where are we going here? Let's take a look at the...


An exchange between one of Pete Stark's constituents and the good congressman.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Congressman, don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining.


REP. PETE STARK (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you. I wouldn't dignify you if I peed on your leg. I don't -- I wouldn't be worth wasting the urine.


DOBBS: Well, there's certainly a lofty standard being pursued by the House. What's your reaction to that one, Chris?

STIREWALT: Well, it's different, of course, because it's in a town hall, but it's also a point that Pete Stark is one of the Democratic members of Congress who are going to cause a lot of trouble as the cram-down on a compromise bill on health care comes soon. And he's going to be tough and he's not afraid to say some very, obviously, unpleasant things.

HENDERSON: Yes, it was a reminder, I mean, in August, Bernie Frank had, you know, really had frank exchanges with folks of these town halls so...

DOBBS: Which, by the way, was one of my favorite exchanges in the whole town hall series.

HENDERSON: Yes. Yes. So, I mean, the rhetoric is -- I mean, is heating up. As the debate heats up, you know, we're going to see a bill out of the Senate next week and then voting probably next month.

DOBBS: You know, we've played here a number of exchanges in parliaments around the world, South Korea, the Philippines, and of course, the home of the original parliament in London. We look like milquetoast compared to those other countries.

Do you think we have anything to learn from them about candor and straightforward talk?

MCMAHON: Well, I mean we do look like milquetoast, but that's by design and it's for a reason. And so, you know, Congress can certainly change the rules but the rules they have now don't permit the kind of outbursts that we saw. And by the way, I'm going to surprise you, Lou, because I'm going to agree with you on Pete Stark. I think members of Congress should set a higher standard and I think they should set that standard both when there is a joint session of Congress, they're not yelling at the president and when they're not yelling at their constituents. So how about that? Even.

DOBBS: I think that's terrific. You know, it's always great to reach an agreement here on this broadcast. We don't often do in any corner, whether left or right, or Democrat or Republican. Health

care. Is this thing -- is it live or is it dying or is it dead?

STIREWALT: Well, we saw that today that David Axelrod went up to the -- went up to Capitol Hill to try to re-wrangle Democrats. We had Jay Rockefeller from West Virginia basically come out and do to the bill what Pete Stark had mentioned earlier.

And so today was the day where we're testing this new coalition on health care. The new numbers that are out showed that the disapproval is creeping back up and maybe some of this bounce is wearing off. So the sales job sort of continues.

DOBBS: Any major disagreement there? Because we've just got to conclude with the president's remark about Kanye West. Because we have set such a high standard for decorum.


Go ahead, Steve.

MCMAHON: I think health care reform is on the upswing. I think you're going to see something. You might not see everything that's in the House bill, you probably won't, you'll something more like what Max Baucus is bringing forward. You'll see something.

DOBBS: This is the president reflecting on his motion surrounding Kanye West.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The young lady seems like a perfectly nice person. She's getting her award. What's he doing up there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would he do that?

OBAMA: He's a jackass.




DOBBS: What happened to decorum? What are we -- what's happening to decorum?

HENDERSON: You know, and in some ways, I think a lot of people wanted the president to maybe get a little tougher on Joe Wilson and wonders why, you know, he was kind of saving that for language Kanye West. But I think, you know, a lot of people agree that Kanye West pretty much stepped out of line and then certainly stepped on this young lady's moment. Beyonce was kind enough to kind of come out and rescue the...

STIREWALT: Truth is the ultimate defense to liable.





DOBBS: And how many times have we heard that in a town that doesn't always embrace that defense?

MCMAHON: I would agree with everything I just heard.

DOBBS: Thank you very much for being with us. Enjoyed it, Chris. Thank you. Nia, Thank you.

HENDERSON: Good to see you.

DOBBS: Well, coming up at the top of the hour, Campbell Brown. Campbell, tell us about it.

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey there, Lou. Well, tonight, we are at the "Fortune" magazine's most powerful women summit just near San Diego. And I will be sitting down tonight with newsmakers from politics, finance and the media to get their take on the bare-knuckle battle over health care and what the president needs to do to get back his momentum.

Also we're going to hear from Warren Buffett on the state of the economy, plus a special newsmaker, the most powerful woman in America and no, it's not Hillary Clinton. You're going to meet her at the top of the hour, Lou.

DOBBS: What is the deal here, Campbell? I had to come to the nation's capital and you get to go to San Diego? We're going to have to talk. Guys, we'll look forward to it.

BROWN: Yes, it's not too bad out here. We'll see you soon.

DOBBS: Looks good on you. Thank you, Campbell.

Up next, why the end of the recession may not mean the return of growth or more jobs. So what's recovery about? We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: Well, retail sales we can tell you surged in the month of August, promising an end to recession, but experts fear that a jobs recovery may remain out of reach for months to come.

Joining me now is Dr. Pat Choate, Ross Perot's former running mate, director of the Manufacturing Policy Project, author of the brand-new book, "Saving Capitalism."

Well, you couldn't have a more timely book. Capitalism in deep need of salvation. First, congratulations on the book.


DOBBS: Secondly, we're hearing from people like Chairman Bernanke that yes, we've got -- the recession is over but we're not going to get jobs, we're not going to get growth. And so what I have to ask is, what good is recovery if that's the case?

CHOATE: Well, I think what's happened is the financial community has recovered. After all we put out $10 trillion to them. But the rest of the economy is worse off than where we went in. In fact, it's worse off in many ways and basically we have structural problems.

And that's what I deal about in this book, is we've got six or seven really big structural thing that the country needs to take on. This crisis should be viewed as a person who's a major heart attack. If you have a major heart attack, you make some changes. You get right. That's what we need to do as a country.

DOBBS: Let's talk about some of the things that you argue...


DOBBS: ... in your book, "Saving Capitalism."

CHOATE: Right.

DOBBS: And you talk about oversight regulation. The president talked about the same thing yesterday on Wall Street. Do you agree?

CHOATE: I absolutely agree with him, but I don't think he's going to get it. I think he waited too long. He should have done this when...

DOBBS: It's hard that nothing is happening.

CHOATE: That's right. And what has happened is the programs that the Bush and the Obama administration put into place kept the things the way they were before the crash and you even wind up with the same people in charge.

DOBBS: Yes, and you have a president, George W. Bush, crazy enough to say things like he's suspending the principals of free markets to save free markets. How did that work?

CHOATE: It doesn't work. I mean we've had nine of these bailouts since 1982. Each one becomes progressively more expensive. If we don't get real regulation, we're going to have a tent and the next one may really take the world out -- take the economy down.

DOBBS: Today the president told auto workers in Ohio that he couldn't allow their industry to fail. You said the government should be involved in a lot of industries besides the automobile industries. What do you mean?

CHOATE: Well, I mean, basically, let's just take the automobile industry. The Japanese bring six million cars a year and produce three million in the U.S. Last year, we could only sell 16,000 cars in Japan. Korea brought in 900,000 cars into the U.S. last year, we could only sell 7,000.

We need some trade reform here. What we really need is the president of the United States and the Congress to go out and open up markets, stop predatory activities. Industry can't do this. The government has to stand behind our companies.

DOBBS: What other country has leaders dumb enough to say they support free trade and then will not notice that over the course of 20 years that Japan and South Korea aren't buying American cars and won't permit our cars in.

CHOATE: No other country. No other country does this. And it's because of this that the American economy is collapsing. Unless we deal with these issues and deal with them now as I'm prescribing to deal with them, we'll have a million and a half fewer manufacturing workers when the first Obama administration is over.

DOBBS: Let -- and let's hope that that's not the case.

CHOATE: But it will be the case unless we do something. The same medicine...

DOBBS: Well, this president...

CHOATE: The same medicine is going to get us the same results here.

DOBBS: And that seems to be something that alludes public policy makers whether the issue is foreign policy or whether it'd be economic policy.

"Saving Capitalism." Time for a one-word answer. Will capitalism be saved?


DOBBS: All right. The book is "Saving Capitalism." Its author, Dr. Pat Choate, one of the smartest economic thinkers I know of. Good to have you with us.

CHOATE: Thank you.

DOBBS: A reminder to join me on the radio, Monday through Fridays, for the "Lou Dobbs Show". Go to to get the local listings in your area for the show on the radio. It will be coming to you from New York tomorrow. Out of the capital. Yeehaw

And visit us at, sign up for our free daily podcast. Today we broadcast live from the "Hold Their Feet to the Fire" conference held by Fair, and 50 other broadcasters. It was a lot of fun.

And sign up for the free broadcast. Follow me on Lou Dobbs News on as well. That's Lou Dobbs News on

We thank you for being with us tonight. Join us here tomorrow. We'll be coming to you from New York. For tonight, thanks for watching. Good night from the nation's capital. Next stop, Campbell Brown.

ANNOUNCER: CNN Primetime begins right now.

BROWN: Tonight, hear the questions we want answered. Congressman Joe Wilson, folk hero or fool? Today the man who heckled the president.

WILSON: You lie!

BROWN: Under fire on Capitol Hill, formally reprimanded by his own colleagues.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Wilson did not so conduct himself on the evening of September 9th.

WILSON: There far more important issues facing this nation.

BROWN: Republicans call today's move a big fat stunt. Our question tonight, can we finally put a stop to the shouting and get back to a civil debate?

Also tonight, new details in the shocking murder of a Yale grad student just days before her wedding. How close are police to arresting the killer of Annie Le? We'll have all the latest developments.

Plus, the chairman of the Federal Reserve said the recession is very likely over. Really? We're getting some straight talk from the most trusted voice out there, billionaire investor, Warren Buffet.

And tennis legend Billy Jean King speaks out on Serena Williams' U.S. Open outbursts.

SERENA WILLIAMS, TENNIS CHAMPION: I just couldn't believe that happened.