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Lou Dobbs Tonight
Democrats Divided; Health Care Debate; H1N1 Vaccine Shortage; Not Made in the USA
Aired October 21, 2009 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, HOST: Wolf, thank you.
Democrats in disarray, party defections, killing a key health care plan, debate now over a government plan goes on and a new poll showing Americans split on the issue.
Troubling swine flu developments tonight, vaccines shortages continue to frustrate parents. No one can say for certain when or how much of the vaccine will be available. The federal government now forced to stretch supplies of the medication TAMIFLU, when will this end? Will it be too late?
President Obama's pay czar, cutting Wall Street salaries or at least trying to -- firms that took the most taxpayer bailout money to be hit the hardest, but will they accept that judgment? We'll see.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT; news, debate and analysis for Wednesday, October 21st. Live from New York, Mr. Independent Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. Democrats suffering another setback on health care. The Senate today voted down a $247 billion Democratic plan to block the steep proposed cuts to doctor's Medicare reimbursements. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had hoped that plan would convince medical -- the medical community to support the Democrats' health care overhaul -- some call it a payoff to doctors. Instead 12 Democrats crossed party lines to defeat the measure. Senator Reid vows that that measure will be back but it's another clear indication that Democrats are far from united on the issue.
Dana Bash reports now from capital hill -- Dana, just how big of a defeat is this for the Democratic leadership?
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well there's no question it is bad news for them, Lou, and specifically for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid because this just didn't go down, it went down big. A dozen Democrats defied their party leadership and they all did it pretty much for one specific reason and that is because it would have added $250 billion to the deficit. Because the $250 billion price tag to a permanently stop cuts in Medicare patients to doctors, it was not paid for.
So the concept of this certainly did not go down well at all with a lot of the so-called deficit hawk Democrats. But the concept overall of fixing what many call a flawed formula and how doctors get paid, that actually has been bipartisan but today no Republicans voted for that. Democrats said that this is simply something that is partisan, that Republicans are trying to block the president's agenda. But, you know, it's interesting, Lou, when you talk to Democrats, they admit that they really did do this for one reason, and that is because they wanted to separate out a very expensive issue from the overall health care proposal and it didn't work.
DOBBS: It didn't work and, by the way, suggesting this is a Republican issue, these are the same Democrats, the same Democratic leadership who claimed that the vote in the Senate Finance Committee was by partisan because of one Republican senator. What in the world are they calling it when 12 Democrats cross over party lines? That sounds pretty bipartisan to me.
BASH: Well surprising they're not calling it anything but on the other side of the aisle Republicans are calling this very much a bipartisan defeat and in this case, they're absolutely right. They're absolutely right.
DOBBS: The Senate majority leader, Dana, also saying that he was portrayed by the AMA here? I mean is that frustration? What is that all about?
BASH: You know, as the day went on yesterday, as the Democrats were trying to gather votes for this, they started to say more and more that this is now in the hands of the AMA. The AMA wanted this very, very badly. It was and still is a huge priority for them. You may have seen some of their ads on television. They may have waged a multimillion campaign to get this passed.
And as we reported yesterday, it was in a behind closed doors meeting last week that the Senate majority leader and other Democrats basically said to the doctor's groups, not just the AMA but other doctor's groups we will try to do this for you. But "A", we want to make sure you can get us the votes and, "B" we are hoping that ultimately you will support us, so this is...
DOBBS: It was a $250 billion buyout is what it amounted to right, or bribe, if you will?
BASH: Those are your words. I don't think...
DOBBS: Well those are words that I've heard from a number of people. Straightforwardly, the only reason why -- the only motivation here left for us, isn't it?
BASH: Well, I think the answer to that question is it's actually unclear because I was told by multiple sources in the room that there was no deal cut. That that was certainly the offer and that was the hope and the expectation by the Senate majority leader but there was no -- there were no promises by the doctor's groups and I will say that on this issue I go back to...
DOBBS: So it wasn't a bribe. It was an offer and an acceptance and then they reneged. Is that basically where we are?
BASH: It was a strong hope.
DOBBS: Audacious hope even -- thank you very much, Dana -- Dana Bash reporting from Capitol Hill.
BASH: Thank you.
DOBBS: Lawmakers continue to be divided obviously over health care legislation. Now a new CNN/Opinion Research poll reveals Americans are also deeply divided over the Obama care plan. But public support for government-run health care plan could be gaining some traction -- Candy Crowley with our report.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And there are going to be some fierce arguments in the days ahead. That's how it should be.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The more difficult, the more personal the issue, the harder the fight and the closer the polls. The latest from CNN/Opinion Research Corporation found that 49 percent of Americans favor what they believe to be the president's plan for health care reform, 49 percent oppose.
REP. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: Republicans have a better plan. The Republican plan will create more jobs and more opportunity and more choices in health care while containing costs and increasing access.
CROWLEY: Except that even though the Americans are split about the president's plan, 50 percent still trust him more than Republicans to handle the big reform issues, just 34 percent trust Republicans more. And even as the idea of a government-run health insurance option seems somewhere between iffy and doubtful in the Senate...
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: Leaning toward talking about a public option, we have -- no decision has been made.
CROWLEY: Supporters may find reason to hope in these numbers. Sixty-one percent of Americans now favor an option for people to buy into an insurance plan run by the federal government. That's a six- point jump since the noisy town hall days of August.
OBAMA: Too many Americans -- too many Americans have waited too long for this to happen. We are going to pass health care reform by the end of this year.
CROWLEY: The president is preaching to the choir on that one. Whatever their reservations, most Americans, 53 percent, say the president's reform would be better for the country than no reform at all.
CROWLEY: I talked to several pollsters and strategists today who think it's entirely likely that down the middle split the for and against Barack Obama's health care plan will not budge as that plan is put together on Capitol Hill. In truth, the more important poll will be taken down the line when reform, if passed, begins to affect people's health care for better or for worse. Lou?
DOBBS: And that poll, Candy, of all of the numbers, it comes down to 49-49. We have variations in there. But that is the essential number, is it not?
CROWLEY: It is. And I think what fascinated me about this poll is that we did see this jump is people who support the public option, whatever they believe that to mean. And yet we still -- and yet we still see this split, which I think if you look at it -- and, again, I talked to strategists about this and pollsters, they say what this says to them is that people have larger problems, some of them, at least half of them with Obama health care than just the public option.
DOBBS: And what -- two things. One, you used the expression reform, which you know I personally find to be highly editorial. I don't see anything in this right now that necessarily can be called reform, but assuming that that expression were intended in a value neutral way, fine, overall also has some connotations but the reality is there's not a single person in the country who knows what a public option is and we have got people out polling vast numbers and deriving great meaning from the entrails of polling to tell us what the mood of the body politic is. Public option -- I mean, come on.
CROWLEY: I think this is always the problem that you will find no matter what the polling is about, is that people have different definitions...
CROWLEY: ... when it comes to these policy issues of what they believe it to be and I think sometimes you even find that in say presidential polls during an election year...
CROWLEY: ... because they see -- they see a candidate and they believe him to be something and they only find out later...
DOBBS: Some of the younger...
DOBBS: Some of the younger voters perhaps.
CROWLEY: So you know, so it's always difficult (INAUDIBLE) the poll, but -- and it's a snapshot and as we've seen certainly since there's been a jump since August that people can change and sometimes what it tells you is who is doing a better job getting their message out, the people for or against the so-called public option. But I totally take the point that people have very different views on what that actually means and what it might mean for their own health care.
DOBBS: You know or as the old saying goes, one person's public option is another's reform. Thanks very much, Candy -- Candy Crowley.
DOBBS: Senator Chuck Grassley is raising serious concerns that a U.S. government Web site is breaking the law by using taxpayer money for propaganda purposes. The Department of Health and Human Services' Web site urges people to e-mail a form letter to President Obama in favor of his health care plan. A stature (ph) support icon is clearly displayed on the HHS site. The page requires e-mail information, asks for phone numbers and addresses. Senator Grassley wrote a letter to the head of HHS asking for an investigation into the misuse of executive funds for a Web site that is clearly political in at least this part.
The Obama administration today responded to the public outcry over Wall Street compensation. Executives at companies that received taxpayer bailouts will have their pay cut. This, by the way, comes in the wake of a $30,000 fundraising dinner last night in New York City for the president. The government's pay czar will order seven companies, given the most bailout money, to cut the annual salaries of their 25 highest-paid employees by an average of -- are you ready -- 90 percent. But before you get too excited, cash will be converted to restricted stock. Those companies are AIG, Bank of America, Citibank, GM, GMAC, Chrysler, and Chrysler Financing.
Up next here swine flu fears -- the vaccine is now in short supply. Most of that vaccine when it does arrive will come from overseas. Wait until you hear what our federal government is telling pharmacists to do. And it's not just the vaccine. Americans are dependent on foreign manufacturers for other critical medical supplies used to fight the swine flu. We'll be reporting on just how big that problem is. We're coming right back. Stay with us.
DOBBS: New desperate measures tonight by the federal government trying to deal with a critical shortage of the medication used to treat flu symptoms in children. The Centers for Disease Control has now authorized emergency measures to quote, "stretch the supply of TAMIFLU liquid", which includes the allowance of TAMIFLU that has passed its expiration date and other measures to stretch the supplies as well -- Kitty Pilgrim reports.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In this Walgreen's Drug Store in New York the pharmacist is stretching the supply of liquid TAMIFLU by what is called compounding, breaking open capsules and mixing the contents with liquid.
STACIA WOODCOCK, PHARMACIST, WALGREENS: The manufacturer let us know back in September that there was not going to be enough of the liquid suspension to go around, so we were very proactive, got out to our pharmacists, got a recipe from the manufacturer to be able to make an extemporaneous compound. PILGRIM: The CDC this week announced major pharmacies like Walgreen's and Walmart are doing this and other pharmacies should also.
DR. ANN SCHUCHAT, CDC: We do encourage pharmacies to be able to do compounding so that our pediatric supplies will stretch as far as possible.
PILGRIM: Liquid TAMIFLU used to treat swine flu is in short supply. Roche the Swiss manufacturer says it has ramped up production in the U.S. since the pandemic broke out last spring and will be producing 400 million doses of TAMIFLU next year. An estimated 20 percent of production will be inside the United States. Roche today says it intentionally shifted its production away from TAMIFLU liquid making capsules instead because capsules provide 25 times the dosage in the same amount of time it takes to make one dose of the liquid for a child, so now it's up to pharmacists to make the drug usable for infants by compounding.
EDITH ROSATO, NATIONAL ASSN. OF CHAIN DRUG STORES: The pediatric suspension is usually dispensed for infants or for children that cannot swallow tablets and also for adults that can't swallow tablets. So it's used pretty frequently.
PILGRIM: Liquid TAMIFLU is now in such short supply the FDA in July and again in October issued emergency measures to extend some lots of TAMIFLU for use beyond their expiration dates on the package. So for example, one lot of TAMIFLU due to expire May 31st, 2005 can now be used until February 28th, 2010.
PILGRIM: Now the FDA says using the expired TAMIFLU identified by lot number is perfectly safe. They've set up a Web site for consumers to see if their expired TAMIFLU is still usable. The CDC recently released 300,000 doses of liquid TAMIFLU from the national stockpiles to hospitals around the country but the CDC says that will not be enough to deal with the pandemic and the number of children who will need the medication. Lou?
DOBBS: Let's be really clear what the CDC is saying here is that there's a critical, critical shortage of TAMIFLU and that they are drawing them on the adult supplies to meet that demand and what will be the impact then on the availability of supplies for adults?
PILGRIM: There's no -- there's no estimate on that...
DOBBS: So this is...
DOBBS: This is truly triage?
DOBBS: Is what this is. PILGRIM: Yes, this is emergency measures that they are just trying to figure out how to cope. But there's no estimate -- they just started doing this, so there's no estimate on how much of this has to be converted to the children's dosage.
DOBBS: This is extraordinary and thank you, Kitty, and we'll be staying on top of this throughout. Thank you -- Kitty Pilgrim.
Well, the CDC today conceded that production of the swine flu vaccine is way behind schedule. Patients and doctors across the country are now reporting shortages -- in some case, severe shortages, and long lines awaiting the vaccine. Our Lisa Sylvester today experienced those delays firsthand when she took her son for his vaccination. Lisa, tell us what happened.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, you know this is something else when you actually sort of see this firsthand. And you know the first thing I have to say is -- to explain to people is you can't get the swine flu vaccine from your pediatrician, we couldn't get it from our family doctor, so the only place that we could go to was our local county health clinic, the Montgomery County, Maryland Clinic and they were offering hours -- they were only offering hours once a week, Wednesday, today, from 9:00 to 12:00.
Now, my friend Jacqueline, she got there early at 8:00 this morning and we thought we were being really smart about this, getting there at 8:00 in the morning, an hour before they opened. But what we found out is that there were hundreds of people already in line. Some people started arriving at 12:30 in the morning the night before. What is really in high demand are those injectable shots.
These are shots of the vaccine that only pregnant women, people with asthma and health problems can get and the county, Montgomery County Maryland had only had 200 doses of this -- of the injectable vaccine and they very quickly ran out. And so they don't now, as of this moment, they do not have any more injectable shots.
That only leaves the other option, which is the nasal flu mist. And today they administered about 1,300 doses. But you know there are just so many people coming up and they just don't have enough to go around.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are people here today probably really do need to be vaccinated, you know and can't get anything but that shot because of some underlying condition or age or whatever and that won't.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I went in to get it this morning and got up about 7:00 and look at the line. It's bad.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We got here about 7:45, 7:30 and waited for two and a half, three hours only to find out that they only had 200 injectables.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SYLVESTER: You know at one point the line stretched up for four blocks. In fact they had so many people they brought in port-a- potties and they started handing out water. All told in our case for my son we ended up waiting four hours and then he is right at 2 and so he was able to get the flu mist when it all said and done, but he actually has to go back in 28 days. If you get this and for kids between the ages of 2 and 10, they actually need two doses and that's what we're being told in order to be effective, so yes, we waited for four hours, yes he ended up getting the flu mist, but we also have to go back in 28 days.
DOBBS: Well and I suspect you're amongst the most fortunate people there, lots of people as you said not getting any vaccination whatsoever, whether the injectable or the inhalant. Any suggestion at all as to -- on the part of the public health authorities there, as to when vaccine will be made available?
SYLVESTER: You know that's the big question. In fact, this afternoon I spoke to county officials and I asked them that very question, so when. But the way it works is it's going from the federal government down to the state level, down to the county level and so the county officials are saying, we don't know. And that's so unfortunate because they can't really tell people.
They are scheduling more clinics this upcoming week, but they said you know we might have to scale it back a little bit depending on what we have because again they have no injectable shots. They only have the nasal flu mist. Right at this moment, they are keeping their fingers crossed hoping but -- and it's not just the story here in Maryland. This is a story, the same all across the country and it's very worrisome for parents.
DOBBS: Very worrisome for parents and it has to be absolutely terrifying for those expecting children, pregnant mothers as Kitty Pilgrim has been reporting throughout can't take the inhalant. They have to have the injectable. They can't have that live virus in the inhalant.
DOBBS: And have to have the injectable.
SYLVESTER: Yeah. And that is so true. It's pregnant women, it's kids who are under 2, it's people who have asthma or underlying health problems and the problem is the only option they have is the injectable. They can't do the nasal flu mist. And what -- what can they do when they show up at the county and the county says, I'm sorry, we're out. And these are for people who even did show up you know in the wee hours of the morning.
DOBBS: And we still haven't heard what your family doctor said, your pediatrician said. They have no better information obviously.
SYLVESTER: Yeah, they are still in line. Everybody is still waiting. DOBBS: Oh, boy, as are millions of people all over the country. Thank you very much Lisa -- Lisa Sylvester.
Part of the reason for the widespread swine flu vaccine delay is that three of the four approved manufacturers produce their vaccine overseas. Now only one of these companies and it's not even an American company, it's Sanofi Pasteur, it's producing all of its vaccine for the U.S. market in the United States. But it's the only company doing so and it's only 75 million doses.
The Centers for Disease Control has ordered over a quarter of a billion doses and only a fraction of that is on the way here, right now as we understand it's something in the neighborhood of 9.8 million doses. We're not only, of course, dependent on foreign companies for medications, vaccines, but critical medical supplies as well.
And now there are new concerns about whether there will be enough supplies to control -- to help control the spread of the swine flu. There are already mask shortages all around this country. And most of those masks are made of course overseas -- Ines Ferre with our report.
INES FERRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The CDC recommends using N95 respirators and other masks for dealing with swine flu patients. It recently recognized there is a shortage of respiratory protection but won't estimate by how much. One manufacturer estimates that at least 50 percent of the respirators for H1N1 swine flu are made in China. When it comes to surgical masks, 90 percent are made abroad in countries like Mexico, China and Thailand. One U.S. mask manufacture says too much production in now overseas.
MIKE BOWEN, PRESTIGE AMERITECH: If there's a pandemic America won't be able to supply its own need because we're pretty much it. And all of the other manufacturers have left the country. And we think that China will probably at some point if this didn't work, we think that China will probably keep their products for themselves.
FERRE: The American Nurses Association says some of their nurses have already reported shortages of approved masks in some locations.
NANCY HUGHES, AMERICAN NURSES ASSOCIATION: This has been something that has been in pandemic planning for several years. And the N95 is the minimal protection that we would need. So we're falling short already. It's very concerning because we want to see that nurses are protected on the job.
FERRE: In 2007, the Department of Health and Human Services predicted that if we were to have a 1918-like pandemic, there would be a shortage of respiratory protection and that's an area HHS said America would need 5.3 billion respirators and 26.9 billion surgical masks, far more than the number currently in stockpiles.
FERRE: And the CDC predicts a large gap between supply and demand of respiratory equipment and is telling health care workers to stretch their supply. Now some hospitals are asking nurses to use one mask per shift unless it gets wet or contaminated. Normal procedure is to change it with each new patient, Lou.
DOBBS: This is remarkable. What we are witnessing just in the last five minutes of your reporting and Kitty's, this is a nation right now that's not prepared for a pandemic. This is a nation whose primary public health agencies, which last spring in late winter were sending masks to Mexico to help with their outbreak. We now are a nation with critical shortages and we're supposed to be the advanced nation that has very sophisticated public health agencies and sophisticated planning and obviously there are shortfalls.
FERRE: And the manufacturers are telling me that they are slammed -- I mean they're saying they're working around the clock.
DOBBS: Again, this country has allowed two things to happen. One is we have only 20 percent of the pharmaceutical companies that we once did in this country. We're now dependent on foreign manufacturers for pharmaceutical companies and we are reliant upon China and other producers for necessary medical equipment. It's crazy. All right, Kitty, thank you very much. Thank you very much, Ines.
Well, I'll have a few thoughts about the swine flu pandemic and these shortfalls and our government response and lack of response to it. Join me on the radio Monday through Fridays for "The Lou Dobbs Show" 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. each afternoon on WOR 710 radio in New York. Join US tomorrow as we focus on this issue and go to loudobbs.com to get the local listings for "The Lou Dobbs Show" on the radio in your area, subscribe to our daily Podcast. Check out the loudobbs.com "Independent American" store. By the way, all of the products in the loudobbs.com "Independent American" store are, they're very rare because all of the products there are made in America. And please follow me on loudobbsnews on Twitter.com.
Up next, we'll have a lot more on the swine flu vaccine shortage. Some of the nation's top experts on controlling the virus join us here and you don't want to miss what they have to say.
And despite our struggling economy, colleges are hiking tuition fees, putting even more strain on American families. Why are we putting up with this? That's next. Stay with us. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: In our financial report tonight, 23 states saw their unemployment rates rise last month. That is, however, four states fewer than experienced rises in August. Twenty-seven states in the District of Columbia showed increased jobless rates that month. The national unemployment rate stands at 9.8 percent and expected to rise.
Neil Barofsky, he is the overseer of the $700 billion federal bailout, saying the cost to taxpayers will be greater than originally believed. Barofsky said quote, "It's extremely unlikely taxpayers will see a full return on their investment.
As the economy does continue to struggle, American families also facing spiking college tuition rates. College tuition, in the midst of this incredible recession, jumped 6.5 percent.
And it could be the biggest Windows launched ever. Microsoft tomorrow will release its newest version of the Windows Operating System. If you're counting, it's number 7. Microsoft and computer makers hoping Windows 7 will drive new computer sales.
Let's take a look now at some of your thoughts. Mike in Ohio said, "Keep on fighting, Lou. Don't quit bringing our politicians to task and we wouldn't quit fighting out here." You've got a deal. And Warren in Ohio, "Jobs and the economy should be the biggest issues, but this Congress wouldn't listen because they all have lobbyists with deep pockets while the American people are strapped for cash. We know that big money might buy votes in the House and the Senate, but it wouldn't buy mine."
And Linda in Texas, "Keep up the great work on defending America against our government that's out of control. I appreciate you and your honesty and I thank you." Bill writes, "You better be careful. You're too fair and honest. You may end up on the White House list of media outlets they wouldn't allow their people to talk with. If you do not agree and support their message, you may end up on the outside." I have to tell you, I'm on the outside already. But thank you for your thoughts and I appreciate your support. Albina, "I just noticed for the first time the flag pin that you wear on your suit jacket. You make me feel so proud to see you wearing the pin, which to me indicates your love of old glory and our country." That is part of the reason. The other is I put this pin on on September 12, 2001, and I said I'd wear it for the duration. Unfortunately, we have not reached the duration.
We love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts to loudobbs.com. Each of you who's e-mail is read will receive a copy of my book, "Exporting America" and you'll also receive a brand-new Independent American t-shirt. This is one of the most valuable garments in all of America, made in America. You can check it out on the store at loudobbs.com.
Up next, we can't wait for this story. California -- we'll be telling you about another slightly chaotic situation -- a crippling financial crisis that could put the state out of business. But don't worry, they've got all of the weed they can imagine, but they want more. We'll tell you about that.
And growing concern about the swine flu vaccine. Parents still don't know what to do, neither does your government. We'll be talking with some of the finest doctors in the country about what they're telling their own families to do and whether it's already too late.
DOBBS: The critical swine flu vaccine shortage is now forcing the federal government to take emergency action. But Americans are still divided about whether to inoculate themselves and their children.
Joining me tonight are Dr. Anne Moscona. She's Professor of Pediatrics, Microbiology and Immunology at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Dr. Peter Palese. He is Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at Mt. Sinai, the School of Medicine there in New York City. Good to have you with us.
And Dr. Martin Blaser. He's the Chair of the Department of Medicine at the New York University School of Medicine. Good to see you, doctor. Jemma-Marie Hanson. She's a Registered Nurse, Regional Coordinator for the New York State Public Employees Federation. Jemma's -- Jemma, it's good to have you back with us here.
And I want to start first with the issue of the shortage. As everyone watching tonight is keenly aware and who's been watching us for some time, last week we reported that the CDC was not providing public information on the shortage. They finally acknowledged that Friday. Why is there not a more forthright, straightforward statement about what is going on in this country when it comes to the availability of vaccines, about when that vaccine will be available? Why is that not happening? Doctor?
DR. PETER PALESE, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES, MT. SINAI: There are two different vaccines which we now need. One is for the regular season influenza...
DOBBS: I'm speaking specifically of the swine flu.
PALESE: And the second is the swine flu, and I think there are regional differences. In some areas of the country, we can get the swine flu vaccine as well. So I think it is really very different and I think it will be within a week or two weeks, I think, we will see a much better supply.
DR. MARTIN BLASER, CHAIR, DEPARTMENT OF MEDICINE, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: For 20 or 30 years, we have been disinvesting in our public health infrastructure, and that's one of the costs of it, so that when we need this, the system isn't working for us. And this -- this is something that we need, to use this opportunity to build it up again.
DOBBS: You're talking about public investment within the infrastructure, public health issues and infrastructure, but at the same time we've also witnessed the foreign acquisition of what were US pharmaceutical companies and we have been -- we've seen those pharmaceutical companies diminish -- American-owned and based -- diminish to 20 percent of what it was.
BLASER: So there's a production problem, but there's also a distribution problem, and we -- we have to fix both of them and -- and we want to fix it soon.
DOBBS: Doctor, the idea that we would be looking at a -- a public health distribution system that is not providing the vaccine, as Lisa Sylvester reported from Washington. She can't get the vaccines and -- and nor can most people all around the country, from their pediatrician, their family doctor, they're turning to clinics, public health clinics, but often they have no choice -- what are people to do here?
DR. ANNE MOSCONA, PROFESSOR OF PEDIATRICS, MICROBIOLOGY AND IMMUNOLOGY, NEW YORK PRESBYTERIAN/WEILL CORNELL MEDICAL CENTER: This is the time we really have to pull together as a community. I think in some sense we're ahead of where we might have been. We've developed a vaccine and brought it out in record time. The science was there, the medical expertise was there. We really did this.
On the other hand, people would like it sooner. But I think we all have to pull together and prioritize the populations that really need it -- the kids, the pregnant women, and have a little patience.
DOBBS: And Jemma, one of the aspects of this is that there in New York State -- it's here and Dr. Blaser and I were talking the last time when we got together -- the requirement, mandatory vaccinations for public health workers in the -- in the State of New York. That was over into (ph) a restraining order by a state judge and a clear victory for the health care workers. Where do we go from here and what is your thinking about whether or not you personally will take that vaccine when it's available to you or not?
JEMMA-MARIE HANSON, REGIONAL COORDINATOR, NEW YORK STATE PUBLIC EMPLOYEES FEDERATION: Well, I haven't made the decision if I'm going to take the vaccine or not, but I do think that it's extremely important that we make sure that our health care professionals have the tools that they need to care for patients safely, that they have the N-95s, and we know that there are shortages. And there's concern by all of us that work at the ground level in these hospitals when we have patients coming into emergency rooms that we will not have the protective equipment that were needed.
DOBBS: Well, that's (INAUDIBLE) reported tonight. And one of the things I was very proud of is that this country was very quick to ship to Mexico all of the equipment that they -- that we possibly could to help with their shortages, and here we are, six months later, and we don't have those masks, which is very important to nurses, to all the technicians, everyone working with patients, certainly obviously doctors.
What are we to do here, Dr. Palese? What is -- what is the proper public policy response?
PALESE: I think foremost, in terms of what we can do against swine influenza still is a vaccine. So these N-95 masks are protective and I think we should have them available, but I think foremost, the first line of defense should be the vaccine.
DOBBS: And who is making the decision about who will get this vaccine first? Because I've heard in my own family, my mother-in-law told by the family doctor that there will be a judgment about how older people will receive it, where they will be and, if you will, the triage line for vaccine. Who's making this decision? Because it's still unclear.
BLAZER: You know, when there's short supply, there has to be priorities.
DOBBS: Sure. We all understand that, but who's making the decisions?
BLAZER: The CDC has made -- they've made very reasonable priorities, and I think the medical community is -- is behind these priorities. They make sense and, again, the key is -- is to emphasize the danger of the vaccine, which is -- which is minuscule. It's really the benefit and -- and really get things going in -- in a hurry, because we don't want to miss this opportunity to prevent a lot of disease.
DOBBS: The -- preventing this disease, also there is one very big benefit that we should not allow to go without note here. This has -- even though it's a difficult and terrible flu, it is nothing like the worst that we feared, is it?
MOSCONA: That's right. So far the disease caused by this virus has not been worse than that caused by the regular, yearly flu. That said, it is targeting and affecting different populations than we expect to see, which is why we need to really look out for kids and pregnant women with this virus.
BLAZER: It's now worse, but it is -- it's the biggest epidemic we've had in at least 40 years.
DOBBS: And -- and we're going keep our fingers crossed, we're going to say our prayers and -- and, as always, depend upon our nurses and our doctors for your good care and judgment. Thank you very much for being with us. Appreciate it.
Up next, the New Jersey governor's race is a dead heat. What is interesting about this race in -- in the minds of many is that it seems a contest -- a referendum on the president. But it also is a referendum on the power, the strength and the appeal of independent politics. The independent party candidate will be my guest here tonight.
And California's financial condition is described as a train wreck, and that's from the state treasurer. And the assembly leader describes it as a high-speed train wreck. We will add to the hyperbole in just a moment.
DOBBS: State leaders in Sacramento, offering a grim assessment of California's future, again: California is in crisis. And if California goes belly up, the rest of the nation will certainly feel the pain. Casey Wian reports now from Los Angeles.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): How bad is California's budget crisis?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a train wreck. And it's going to get worse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that what Treasurer Lockyer says is correct. I just think it's a high-speed train wreck.
WIAN: High speed because less than three months after Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a long-overdue agreement to close California's $24 billion budget deficit, the state is already another $1.1 billion short and counting.
At a Milken Institute conference titled "California's Road to Recovery" Tuesday, a man who was forced to issue IOUs to pay the state's bills earlier this year was blunt.
JOHN CHIANG, CALIFORNIA STATE CONTROLLER: The numbers that we see in public, frankly do not capture the entire magnitude of the cash concerns that we have here in California. We have billions upon billions of dollars of additional cash concerns.
WIAN: The immediate problem continues to be that the recession has cut tax revenue dramatically. The state has raised taxes and cut spending on schools, health care, and over services but not enough to cause the gap.
Also, lawmakers used several short-term accounting gimmicks that will soon need to be paid for. Political leaders and business groups are proposing a wide range of long-term solutions. From tax cuts to attract businesses to more stable two-year budget cycles, to a complete overhaul of all the rules of the state legislature.
The California's finance director says it's much simpler than that.
MICHAEL GENEST, CALIFORNIA FINANCE DIRECTOR: What I mean is we either have to reduce spending or increase revenue or some combination. That's -- it's pretty mundane. It's pretty matter of fact. It's just simple arithmetic, but in the end it's the arithmetic that will always win the argument. It's just a question of how long it takes before the arithmetic prevails.
WIAN: And a matter of how long before California's problems infect the rest of the nation. California represents more than 13 percent or nearly one-seventh of the nation's total economic output. Its GDP is more than 50 percent greater than that of New York or Texas, the second and third largest state economies.
WIAN: And before other states feel too smug about California's troubles, budget deficits totaling $16 billion have emerged in 26 states and just since July 1, Lou.
DOBBS: Well, should President Obama consider sending in the National Guard, the regular army? What should be done with an out-of- control state government that's behaving so irresponsibly and so ineffectually?
WIAN: I think the only solution is going to be that the voters are going to have to make a change next year. I don't think there's much of a federal solution on the horizon.
DOBBS: We can't seem to find a federal solution to our federal problems.
WIAN: Right. Right. There's been a lot of dependence in California on federal bailout money, and it's pretty clear that not much more of that is going to be available any time soon, Lou.
DOBBS: But of course, there's always a gigantic revenue opportunity represented by marijuana, which I know has got many Californians excited.
Casey, thanks a lot.
WIAN: But as we know, it's not -- you're welcome, Lou.
DOBBS: Appreciate it.
Up next, a nasty statewide political race with implications nationwide. Two big party stars running neck and neck, a third-party candidate, an independent, who could -- he could win. So says the man in the middle. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: New Jersey's gubernatorial race is seen as a referendum by some on the president, but the latest polls show Governor Jon Corzine and Republican challenger Chris Christie in a dead heat. Independent voters could determine the outcome and will. The independent candidate is Chris Daggett. He joins us now.
Good to have you with us.
CHRIS DAGGETT (I), NEW JERSEY GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Lou, good to be here.
DOBBS: You have rich double digits. A lot of people said that couldn't happen. You've got a couple weeks to close this deal. Are you going to be able to do it?
DAGGETT: I believe so. I actually am in high double digits, and with margin of error, I'm maybe over 20 percent even.
DOBBS: And this is -- only one person will emerge. This is -- the plurality will determine.
DAGGETT: Winner take all.
DOBBS: And you really don't have that far to go. I'm sure it must seem like forever with you, but what are you going to do to seal the deal. DAGGETT: To seal the deal, I've got to get people to take the attitude that I've already made the case that I'm the best candidate for governor. I think people have seen that in the first debate. I was declared the clear winner in that debate by most news organizations. I think I've made the case, and it's a matter now of voters saying they've got to take it into their own hands, in the sense that the people who are upset at both parties and they are legion in New Jersey. They are everywhere.
It's a matter of them going to the polls and exercising their vote.
DOBBS: The "Star Ledger," the largest, most respected newspaper in the state of New Jersey endorsed you. Much of the shock of just about everybody in the state because they said not only are the candidates inadequate. The parties are basically incompetent and corrupt. That is about as strong an endorsement as you can possibly get.
DAGGETT: It was. He confirmed everything I've been saying in the campaign. And that is that the two parties have not gotten the willingness or the ability to step up to it and address the problems that face the state. So I agree with you.
DOBBS: How do you trump the money? Because they're both bringing all of the money, the Republican machine. Whatever else these two parties are, they are branding organizations, and they are money-raising organizations.
DAGGETT: It's a matter of doing all the things that we're doing: continuing to get the message out through the Internet, through advertising and television. We're not going to match the money.
But as I've said, I've made the case about my candidacy. And at some point voters have to say, it's never wrong to vote for the right person. And they can come in and make the difference in this election, and I think they will.
DOBBS: You've changed your party affiliation to independent just this year?
DAGGETT: I did.
DOBBS: And, first, why did it take this long? And, secondly, what do you say to those who say your -- your role is that of a -- and we should say from what party to independent, or in New Jersey it's unaffiliated. And what do you say to those who say you're a spoiler?
DAGGETT: I'm not a spoiler. The only wasted vote in this election is the vote for this politics as usual. It's been that way in New Jersey for a while. We've got an opportunity in this state to change things like we've never had in my lifetime.
And people are upset. They are unhappy with both parties. And the "Star Ledger" expressed that opinion very strongly. It captured the sentiment of the state. So tonight, those people just saying it's time. It's time to take the whole opportunity into our own hands and to exercise that vote by -- by formalizing that feeling that they have, which is really anti-party.
If you come around the state with me on a day-to-day basis, you'd see how angry people truly are. They're ready for a change in New Jersey.
DOBBS: I think they, it can be safely said, are being strongly considered around the country.
DAGGETT: I agree with that.
DOBBS: Appreciate you being with us. Good luck.
Independent candidate for governor of the state of New Jersey.
I just want to make very clear, we have invited Governor Corzine and Mr. Christie to share their views with us and join us here. We hope the two candidates will be at some point -- well, I hope they'll join us so we can examine their view and their -- and the allegations by Mr. Daggett. We can't just let this just stand.
Thank you, Chris.
DAGGETT: Thank you.
DOBBS: Up at the top of the hour, Campbell Brown -- Campbell.
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, thank you, Lou.
Who will be the FBI's newest edition to its most wanted list? Tonight, we're going to continue our special series with a look at the most powerful man you have never heard of. He runs a masked criminal operation that stretches across the globe and, yet, U.S. law enforcement can't touch him. Find out who he is in just a few minutes.
Also, we are just over an hour away from the premier of CNN primetime event, "Latino in America." We're going to kick it off with our own special panel tonight. Actor John Leguizamo, TV judge Christina Perez and CNN's Soledad O'Brien. Are all going to be here tonight -- Lou.
DOBBS: Look forward to it. Thank you very much, Campbell.
We'll be right back. Stay with us.
DOBBS: A reminder to join me on the radio. For "The Lou Dobbs Show," go to LouDobbs.com. Get the local listings in your area for "The Lou Dobbs Show." Check out our free podcast, our store there on the LouDobbs.com. All of it American made.
That's it for tonight. We thank you for being with us. Good night from New York. Next is Campbell Brown.