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Lou Dobbs Tonight
Afghan War Surge?; Where are the Jobs?; Health Care Battle
Aired October 27, 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.
A U.S. diplomat in Afghanistan says the war there isn't worth our fight. He's resigned in protest. Is the president listening? When will we have a new war plan and should we withdraw our troops?
Democrats at odds over health care and the so-called public option -- Republicans talking about a filibuster -- can any plan with government run health care pass no matter what you call it?
And government warnings tonight about swine flu scams. Some treatments being pedaled are fake and dangerous. We'll tell you how you can protect yourself and your family.
Also tonight our political panel on the health care debate -- will Democrats push the public option. Will they be defeated by fellow Democrats.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT; news, debate and analysis for Tuesday, October 27th. Live from New York, Mr. Independent Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. Not worth the fight, that's what a senior U.S. diplomat in Afghanistan has said about this war now. And he's resigned in protest -- the first high level administration official to do so. The announcement comes as the White House indicates that the president is close to making a decision on a new war strategy. That strategy can't come soon enough. Another eight Americans today were killed after a series of powerful blasts in southern Afghanistan, making October the deadliest month for our forces in this eight-year long war. Chris Lawrence reports now from Kabul, Afghanistan.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Defense officials are telling us that these were two coordinated, complex attacks. That means insurgents had one or more roadside bombs and also attacked with small arms fire, which suggests an ambush. That is the tactic that has been used over the past few months here in Afghanistan. We're told these were all American soldiers. Seven were killed in one attack, one in the other.
But this threat from the IEDs has been rising for some time. Defense officials say that the insurgents and the Taliban's ability to plan attacks and to target U.S. troops have improved since last year. And just last month, in September, Defense Secretary Robert Gates authorized up to another 3,000 troops to come here to clear mines for medical reasons, to gather intelligence, in order to help troops fight off the threat of these IEDs which the Defense Department calls the number one threat to troops here in Afghanistan.
Chris Lawrence, CNN, Kabul.
DOBBS: Nearly three quarters of our casualties in Afghanistan have been caused by IEDs. The eight American troops killed today bring the total number of our troops killed this month to 58. This is the deadliest month since the beginning of the war; 280 Americans have been killed in Afghanistan this year alone; 906 Americans have been killed there after eight years of war.
A senior American diplomat in Afghanistan becomes the first to resign in protest over the president's war strategy. Matthew Hoh, a former Marine captain and Iraq war veteran says the United States is now engaged in a civil war that is not worth the fight. Brian Todd reports.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His position as a U.S. civilian officer in Afghanistan was the second best job he's ever had. The best one, he says, was as a Marine commander in Iraq. Now, the widely respected Hoh has turned in his resignation to the State Department, an emotional letter saying "I fail to see the value or the worth in continued U.S. casualties or expenditures of resources in support of the Afghan government." I caught up with Matthew Hoh outside his apartment near Washington.
(on camera): What is the fundamental reason why you feel that way?
MATTHEW HOH, RESIGNED STATE DEPT. POST IN AFGHANISTAN: Basically, it's because I believe that the people we're fighting there are fighting us because we're occupying them. Not for any ideological reasons, not because of any links to al Qaeda, not because of any type of fundamental hatred towards the West.
TODD (voice-over): Hoh is believed to be the first U.S. official to resign in protest over the Afghan war, a move that has surprised and dismayed officials in the top echelons of the State Department.
IAN KELLY, STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: We take his point of view very seriously, but we continue to believe that we're on track to achieving the goal that the president has set before us.
TODD: Hoh says America's special envoy to South Asia, Richard Holbrooke, offered him a job after he resigned. He says he initially accepted but then changed his mind.
(on camera): Why not try to take that position and change things from the inside rather than take this step? HOH: If I agreed with our mission there, if I believed in what we were doing and I believed it was worth the sacrifice, I would have stayed working in Afghanistan's Kunar (ph) Province.
TODD (voice-over): Hoh says supporting President Hamid Karzai's government whose failings he calls legion and metastatic and not worth the cost in American lives.
(on camera): Do you believe in the end that those lives will be given in vain?
HOH: Yeah, that's a very difficult question to answer and I want to make one thing really clear -- is that one of the hardest things about doing this is I know by saying it's not worth fighting, I'm hurting a lot of families.
TODD: State Department officials are hitting home the point that Hoh's resignation is not a trend. Jack Lou (ph), the deputy secretary of state from management and resources says they have more volunteers than they need for civilian jobs in Afghanistan and there's no softening of interest -- Lou.
DOBBS: Brian, thank you very much. A very tough story -- obviously, a very tough decision for the former Marine captain -- thank you very much.
Turning now to the other war, the Iraqi government has released disturbing new video of the two suicide bomb blasts that rocked Baghdad over the weekend. At least 155 people were killed in those explosions including at least 20 children. The Baghdad City Council has voted for the resignation of the two men responsible for security, both the Interior Minister and the commander of Baghdad. The Islamic State of Iraq, a group connected to al Qaeda in Iraq has claimed responsibility for all of those deaths and injuries -- the attacks the deadliest in the capital in more than two years.
President Obama's long-awaited decision on Afghanistan is expected soon now. The White House said today, a Friday meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff could be the last of the sessions in this, what has been long process. Ed Henry reports from Washington. Ed, just how close is the president, do we believe, to announcing a new strategy in Afghanistan?
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, officials close to the situation are suggesting to me that it could come as early as next week. Because of that clue we got today, as you mentioned that the president has now called this meeting for Friday of this week with the Joint Chiefs. What is significant about that is they are in charge of sort of determining what kind of impact a troop level decision will have on our military, which is obviously already stretched thin because of two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And I have talked to officials close to the situation, involved in some of the strategy sessions who are basically saying that an important point that's being discussed behind closed doors is that even if the president were to order 40,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, it would take months to get them there. It would not happen overnight, despite the fact that maybe many people are getting the impression from this debate that if the president snaps his fingers almost immediately there would be a lot of troops, more troops in Afghanistan trying to get control of the situation.
It would take a long time, in part, because they'll need to rotate U.S. troops out of Iraq into Afghanistan. That is an important point to make, and officials close to the discussions are suggesting to me that the president seems to be leaning towards sending more troops, hasn't made a final decision yet, but seems to be leaning towards sending more troops. It's just unclear whether he'll send the 40,000 that General McChrystal has suggested -- he could send less -- something in the neighborhood of 20 to 30,000. That's why we expect this decision as soon as next week -- Lou.
DOBBS: And Ed, also, General McChrystal, his plan ranges up to 80,000 troops. We don't know whether that would include support troops or not. And this president has said -- this White House has said that the president will not consider withdrawing troops. We listened to former Marine captain Matthew Hoh resign today in protest. There seems to be an erosion of support for the war in Afghanistan -- any reaction at all from the White House?
HENRY: Yes, they're being very careful in their reaction to Mr. Hoh's resignation because they realize they don't want to start a wild fire here. The bottom line is that there are public opinion polls are suggesting that this war in Afghanistan, the mission, has lost much of its support. That it's under 50 percent of support among the American people. And so if there's more people in the government who started resigning, that would just add more fuel to the fire. And that's why it's so important for the president when he makes this announcement to really put the stakes out there for the American people after eight years for them to understand what is the mission -- Lou.
DOBBS: What is the mission? What is the strategy and why is it that the only super power in the world has difficulty in deploying, should the president order it, 40,000 more troops? Which raises the question, just how strained is our military and how limited should be this country's objectives and missions whether it be in Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world? What is the White House thinking?
HENRY: Well they're thinking that the president needs to be very clear with the American people about exactly what he's going to do. And not just dish out the numbers. As we saw in March...
DOBBS: By the way, on that regard, will we have more of the numbers, more than troop levels -- will we have a straightforward statement from this president about the mission, about the objectives, the goals, and the metric, the measurements of success in Afghanistan?
HENRY: The short answer is yes. I've been assured by senior officials that the president is going to lay out those stakes and go beyond the numbers with the American people. He gave a speech back in March when he announced a new strategy. This time, they realize he may have to do something bigger. He may have to do for example one thing under consideration I'm told is an Oval Office address. Something he has not done yet, but where he would have the opportunity to use a tool like that to talk directly to the American people because the stakes are so great here -- Lou.
DOBBS: All right, thank you very much, Ed -- Ed Henry.
HENRY: Thank you.
DOBBS: Coming up next here, the public option, it could threaten any health care plan from passing. What will happen?
And the government says the recession is over. Where are the jobs -- 30 million Americans want to know. What happened to all of that stimulus money? What happened to the 3.5 to 4.5 million jobs that would be saved or created?
Also, swine flu scares -- government warnings tonight about dangerous fake medications being sold. We'll tell you what products you need to avoid and how to protect your family.
DOBBS: There are new indications tonight that President Obama's stimulus plan is failing to stop job losses or create significant numbers of jobs. There are now 30 million people out of work in this country. House Republicans found that seven months into the stimulus every state in the union except one has lost jobs. And the news today from one of the country's biggest manufacturers may prove especially embarrassing to President Obama -- Ines Ferre with our report.
INES FERRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Back in February, President Obama went to a Caterpillar plant in Illinois to say that the stimulus bill would help bring back some of the more than 20,000 workers laid off by the heavy equipment maker.
BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yesterday, Jim, the head of Caterpillar, said that if Congress passes our plan, this company will be able to rehire some of the folks who were just laid off.
FERRE: Afterwards, the CEO of Caterpillar corrected the president, saying there would likely be more lay-offs before any rehiring. This week caterpillar announced it will bring back 550 laid off workers by the end of next year but is permanently cutting the jobs of 2,500 workers now on layoff -- the reason -- laggings sales and uncertainty about the timing and strength of recovery.
So how many jobs has the stimulus created? Administration officials say the stimulus money has created or saved 600,000 to 1.5 million jobs so far, and data that could support that claim will be released later this week. Republicans in Congress say that all but one state, North Dakota have lost jobs since the stimulus took effect. Some conservative economists say we're not yet getting enough bang for the buck.
VERONIQUE DE RUGY, CATO INSTITUTE: And what actually the data shows is while the government got the money and is starting to spend it, it's already spent over $100 billion. Unemployment rate is going up along with the money that is being spent.
FERRE: The White House says many more jobs would have been lost without the stimulus. A top Obama economic adviser says unemployment is likely to remain near 10 percent until the end of next year.
CHRISTINA ROMER, WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL OF ECON. ADVISERS: Most analysts predict that the fiscal stimulus will have its greatest impact on growth in the second and third quarters of 2009, and by mid- 2010, fiscal stimulus will likely be contributing little to further growth.
FERRE: Romer says job losses will likely end next year and big gains may still be several quarters away.
FERRE: And what is more important is how Americans are feeling at home. A new survey by a Washington think tank shows that one in four families say they have been hit by a job loss over the past year and more than 40 percent have either lost their job or seen their hours or salary reduced -- Lou.
DOBBS: These are tough times and no -- and the discussion about recovery is not helpful to those, obviously, who have lost their jobs, who are underemployed, who are amongst the discouraged workers in this country. And we're not hearing a lot of discussion from this administration about jobs, the creation of jobs. And that is creating some criticism in several quarters. I appreciate it. Thank you very much, Ines -- Ines Ferre.
Well many state unemployment insurance funds, in fact, are in danger of simply running out of money. The Labor Department is now estimating that as many as 35 state governments could see their unemployment funds simply evaporate by next year. High unemployment has put a strain on those funds and the states are responding with higher taxes. Lisa Sylvester has our report.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ronald Adler is the president of Laurdan Associates (ph), a Maryland Human Resources company. He's bracing for higher unemployment insurance taxes set to triple next year. For small businesses, Adler says the higher payroll taxes may mean not hiring more workers, foregoing pay increases or for some companies, shutting their doors for good.
RONALD ADLER, LAURDAN ASSOCIATES: There are some that are in the survival mode, and any significant increase in expenses without a corresponding either increase in productivity or increase in sales could push them over the edge. SYLVESTER: Blame it on the recession. Companies contribute to a pool that is used to pay unemployment insurance claims for laid-off workers. In Maryland unemployment claims increased 92 percent over the last two years, according to the state's Labor Department. A similar story in other states, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that as many as 35 states could run out of unemployment insurance funds by the end of next year.
Those states would then likely have to borrow from the federal government in order to keep checks coming to laid off workers. Andrew Stettner with the National Employment Law Project says states during the prosperous '90s did not adjust their payroll tax upward, and now businesses are getting stuck with a hefty bill.
ANDREW STETTNER, NATL. EMPLOYMENT LAW PROJECT: Well it's obviously been a recession of unexpected proportions. Plus, the states weren't well prepared. Put those two together and the states really had not saved enough money up for unemployment insurance.
SYLVESTER: Now states are facing tough choices. Do they cut unemployment benefits, borrow from the federal government, or raise taxes on businesses? No easy answers.
SYLVESTER: And this becomes a real dilemma, to dig out of the recession, companies really need to start hiring again and creating jobs, but adding new payroll taxes and cutting into a company's bottom line, well that just makes it less likely that a company is going to go out and start hiring -- Lou.
DOBBS: Absolutely. Thank you very much. Appreciate it, Lisa -- Lisa Sylvester from Washington.
Coming up here next, the political battle over health care legislation -- I'll be talking with four leading political analysts about the future of that legislation.
Also tonight, desperate for swine flu cures and prevention -- what you need to know about swine flu scams. In some parts of the country, that's all we have, are scams. We'll have that story and a warning to city leaders from the top cop in L.A.
DOBBS: The man who took over a scandal-plagued Los Angeles Police Department and then reformed it is now leaving his job. LAPD Chief William Bratton stepping down at the end of this week. He'll be going to work in the private sector. He leaves behind a rebuilt department and a warning for those who follow him. Casey Wian reports from Los Angeles.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Los Angeles Police Department. CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When William Bratton was hired as Los Angeles police chief in 2002, the LAPD's image was in shambles.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Friday.
WIAN: A long way from the mythical days of Sergeant Joe Friday and the motto to protect and to serve. The videotaped beating of Rodney King, the 1992 riots, and the O.J. Simpson case became internationally televised embarrassments. The rampart scandal and its revelations of corruption and racism brought the LAPD under the supervision of the U.S. Justice Department and to Bratton and promises of reform.
CHIEF WILLIAM BRATTON, LAPD: We will take that, the most famous shield, the most famous police badge in the world, and whatever little varnish or little tarnish that exists, it will be wiped clean.
WIAN: Seven years later the city's violent crime and murder rates are both down more than 50 percent. Gang homicides are down nearly 60 percent. The LAPD was released from federal oversight this summer. Bratton credits the hiring of nearly 1,000 police officers and improved relations with L.A.'s diverse communities.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even in the midst of the worst economy since the Great Depression, because police are thinking differently and acting differently, and the focus that we have with community policing crime by and large around (ph) America is down and continuing to go down.
WIAN: As Bratton leaves his post, he's warning city officials against proposals to scale back its hiring of cops to help solve a budget shortfall. The city is putting its police officer recruitment program on hold for the last two months of the year to save money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not the time to be cutting police resources. What's the old expression, you get what you pay for. Well if you start disinvesting in the police, it will start going the other way.
WIAN: Bratton says because the state of California is under federal court order to reduce prison overcrowding by freeing 40,000 inmates over the next two years, the city of Los Angeles should be hiring more police.
(on camera): Bratton expects his successor to come from inside the LAPD. The city is still interviewing candidates. Bratton was recently asked what advice he would give to the new chief. He said simply, have a ball.
Casey Wian, CNN, Los Angeles.
DOBBS: Bratton says lower crime has economic benefits as well. He says each murder has a negative cost of $4 million to the state. He points out that by cutting homicides in Los Angeles by 400 a year, the local economy has benefited by more than $1.5 billion.
To hear my thoughts on all of the issues of the day, join me on the radio Monday through Friday for "The Lou Dobbs Show" 2:00 to 4:00 each afternoon on WOR 710 radio in New York -- go to loudobbs.com to get the local listings for "The Lou Dobbs Show". Subscribe to our daily Podcast. Check out the store on loudobbs.com and you can follow me on loudobbsnews on Twitter.com.
Up next here fear of swine flu driving many into the hands of Internet scam artists. We'll tell you what you can do to protect yourself, your family, and what to avoid.
And Senator Joe Lieberman, will he stand in the way of Majority Leader Harry Reid's public option opt-out or is it opt-out public option or is it consumer option or competitive option, if you prefer? We'll be right back.
ANNOUNCER: Here again, Mr. Independent Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: A major setback tonight to the Democratic plan to push health care legislation through the Senate with the so-called public option or an opt-out public option. Senator Joe Lieberman, Democrat turned Independent says he will try to kill the legislation and will back a Republican filibuster if that bill does contain that so-called public option -- our Dana Bash with the report.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Anyone who thought Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's new health care bill with a public option could ultimately pass the Senate didn't talk to Joe Lieberman.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: If at the end it's not what I think is good for our country and most people living in our country, then I'll vote against (INAUDIBLE). I'll join the filibuster and I'll try to stop the bill from passing.
BASH: Lieberman says he'll try to block any kind of government- run health care option from passing the Senate, even if it allows states to opt out.
LIEBERMAN: It's still a government-run health insurance plan that puts the federal taxpayer on the line. And I don't want to do that at this point in our nation's history.
BASH: But the Independent senator did give Democrats one piece of good news. He will vote yes to start the health care debate.
LIEBERMAN: We've got to begin a debate on health insurance reform and we've got to do something on health insurance reform this year. That's different from the merits of the bill.
BASH: Lieberman put his complicated calculus is exhibit a of how complicated it is in the senate. Senate majority leader Harry Reid needs 60 votes to do anything. And with 60 Democrats and independents in the senate, there are likely no votes to spare.
SEN. BEN NELSON (D), NEBRASKA: I'm not a fan of government-run public option.
BASH: Democrat Ben Nelson is another wild card. He hasn't told party leaders whether they'll get his vote at all.
NELSON: No secret handshake, no wink, no indication whatsoever other than I haven't decided and I can't decide until I see the actual physical bill, get a chance to review it. Then I can make the decision.
BASH: Several other conservative d Democrats are saying the same thing. They're withholding their support for now. That includes those from conservative states where the whole idea of a government run health care option is not popular at all. That's why it's still unclear whether they can even muster the votes need to start debate on a health care bill and they want to start that early next month.
DOBBS: They want to start it. They wanted to have by August 1st a completed legislation, as you would recall, which seems, madly, wildly out of touch. Is this possibly in the same realm?
BASH: I was told by some of the senators who came out of the weekly caucus lunch that there was discussion of whether they think they could do this by what is the current deadline ultimate deadline which is to pass this through congress, send it to the president's desk by the end of the year. I asked the Democratic leaders if they thought there was any way that could flip. They said they'll still try.
DOBBS: They're going to still try. Are they yet talking about that being the people's deadline by the end of the year as they did August 1st?
BASH: Haven't heard that yet.
DOBBS: All right. Thank you, Dana. Terrific reporting as always, Dana Bash from Capitol Hill.
We'll have a lot more on the political debate over health care. I'll be joined by four of the country's leading political analysts.
Turning now to swine flu. The Centers for Disease Control now saying more than 22 million doses of the vaccine are available and most Americans should have better access to the vaccine. This echoes statements made on this broadcast night when Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health was asked about the roll-out of the doses in the coming weeks. So far, the virus is wide' spread in 46 states. More than 1,000 Americans have been kill bide the swine flu. The shortage of vaccine has a lot of us turning to the internet, searching for cures and easy steps to take to prevent the swine flu. The Food and Drug Administration is warning that these products are not only fakes but often extremely dangerous. Kitty Pilgrim has our report.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: People have been lining up all across the country in the hope of getting a swine flu vaccine. As of today, 22.4 million doses are available in the United States out of the potentially 250 million that may be needed for the pandemic. Today, the CDC admitted the situation is less than ideal.
DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL & PREVENTION: I think all of us are frustrated that we don't have more vaccine now. When the season is over, it will be a good time to look back and think of what could have been done differently or better.
PILGRIM: For the immediate future, people are trying to come up with a plan of their own. The new strain is particularly risky to young children and pregnant women. The FDA is warning people about turning to the internet to purchase swine flu remedies. Many are fake, some dangerous. The FDA has put out a warning list of 140 products listed with brand name. Ionic Silver asks, could it fill the gap between now and when h1n1 vaccines are available? The service website was not functioning for questions about their product. Simple clinics says protect yourself now. But the FDA tells LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, it's an unauthorized product. They say they take 24 hours to respond to e-mail inquiries. Liquid tamiflu is in critical short supply, especially the liquid for infants. The FDA is warning internet sales of tamiflu may contain bogus products that have no effect in reducing symptoms.
PILGRIM: The FDA said they were finding ten bogus sites a day in the spring, and even though they constantly patrol the internet, they're turning up 7 to 10 sites a week but because the internet is constantly in flux, they're having a hard time to find everything. Websites don't shut down and disappear when they're identified, and then others turn up.
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Kitty Pilgrim.
A disturbing new study shows more air travels would rather fly with the flu than pay a $150 airline change fee. According to tripadvisor.com, 51 percent of travelers say they would fly sick rather than pay those high fees. So far, the airlines haven't suspended their booking change fees in face of the swine flu threat.
The Federal Aviation Association has revoked the licenses of those two Northwest Airlines pilots who overshot a Minneapolis airport by 150 miles last week. They said they didn't fall asleep, claiming inside they were using their personal laptops and talking about a new work schedule. The pilots became aware of their position only after a flight attendant entered the cockpit to ask about the plane's arrival time. The NTSB is investigating the incident. Up next, Republican Governor Rick Perry on the state of the Republican Party. Will there be a backlash against the Democrats? And what are his plans?
And Nancy Pelosi steps in to say the government health care plan, will changing the language make a bitter pill easier to swallow? That's one of the things we'll be talking about with the best political minds here next. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Well, joining me now for more on the future of health care legislation, four of the country's best political analysts, KellyAnne Conway. She's republican pollster and strategist; good to have you with us, KellyAnne, president and CEO of the polling company. Jeffrey Plaut, who is democratic pollster, good to have you with us. Joe, columnist Salon.com, Joe Conason, and Matt Lewis, contributor to Politicsdaily.com. Matt also writes for Townhall.com. Good to have you all with us.
Let's start with the public option. Let me ask you Jeffrey if I may, what is the difference between an opt out public option, a competitive option, a consumer option, and say, government-run health care?
JEFFREY PLAUT, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Well, the public option is supported by 57 percent of Americans. So it's not yet supported by 60 United States senators. But an option is something that is in American politics, is popular. Health care is a split view between the parties, but the public option is much maligned but better thought of by the country than it is --
DOBBS: So, Kelly Ann, with 57 percent support for the public option, why in the world would Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, be playing with other options, opt-out option, consumer option, what's the problem?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: They must realize that polls that ask Americans do you support or oppose a public option are incomplete and I don't blame them because most senators seem confused as to what that is. The public option is a fancy way, a sanitized way really Lou of saying a government-administered plan. Even Tom Carper, a democrat of Delaware, today said he would support a public option if it were run by a nonprofit board and if the taxpayers didn't pay for it. That's hardly the public option that I think Nancy Pelosi and others have in mind when they say public option. Asking people if they support or oppose an option is like asking if they support world peace or no rain on Saturday. It sounds good.
DOBBS: Well adding the public option, Senator Reid the majority leader lost the support of Olympia Snowe. Also of Joe Lieberman today. Let's listen to what he had to say. Well, we don't have Lieberman. So I will just turn to the fact that we lost -- Senator Reid lost Joe Lieberman. What is the future -- I'm sorry?
JOE CONASON, SALON: I doubt he ever had Joe Lieberman. The reason is simple. Joe Lieberman has been a creature of the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies for 20 years. His wife worked for them. She was a lobbyist in all but named for Pfizer and for one of the biggest lobby shops in Washington. If they were ever counting on Joe Lieberman to them with this, they were making a big mistake.
DOBBS: Olympia Snowe?
CONASON: Olympia Snowe the public option is quite popular. I don't know if it's more popular than Olympia Snowe is but it is very popular. I wouldn't counter to the right end. The question really is what do they do in the filibuster? This is what Lieberman did today. He said he would vote against culture, which is a betrayal of his party. He promised he was a Democrat on everything but the war in Iraq.
DOBBS: Who is betraying the Democratic Party?
CONASON: Joe Lieberman who told the voters in Connecticut he was a liberal Democrat on all the issues except the war in Iraq. It turns out he's --
DOBBS: The same Democratic party which, by the way, rejected him.
CONASON: The voters did. The Democratic Party in Washington allowed him back in, let him keep his seniority, and he made promises to them.
CONWAY: What about Mary?
CONASON: She's not from Connecticut. That's a whole different thing. For many Democrats, any Democrat who supports a Republican filibuster against this bill is not much of a Democrat, and they're going to suffer for it.
DOBBS: Suffer, pain, punishment.
CONASON: Lack of contributions, lack of support in the party, and problems when they run for re-election.
MATT LEWIS, POLITICSDAILY: That's probably why Harry Reid probably came out in pressure of this. He's under intense pressure from the people that are threatening the votes. The liberal blogosphere and the unions. It's probably what has pushed Harry Reid to coming back to something that we all thought was dead a couple weeks ago.
CONASON: They don't have to vote for the public option, but they have to not support a Republican filibuster against a goal that Democrats have had for 40 years or more. That's a place that I don't think any Democrat needs to go unless they're really going to court extreme anger in their party.
PLAUT: If the public option went to ballot, which it's not, the United States senate obviously would get 55 United States senators or more, the whole issue is the number 60. 60 is a big number, and one to get past.
CONWAY: 60 is what you have, Jeff. You have 60 Democrats.
LEWIS: Most people do favor a trillion dollars in federal spending? Do you favor spending going up? They would say no. We're going to have Republicans in Virginia, even in New Jersey, there's a tough gubernatorial race. I think if I'm Blanche Lincoln or Ben Nelson or Mary Landrieu, I'm not sure I want to go and support a public option and campaign as a blue dog back home.
CONWAY: The opt out, if you want to provide an opt out, allow small business owners to opt out. This administration's policies have been an assault on small business owners, believe me, or allow seniors to opt out of the cuts in Medicare that are on the table.
CONASON: Cuts in the private Medicare.
CONWAY: But it's huge. When people hear it, they don't understand.
CONASON: We should discuss that. It's to cut Medicare advantage, which is a subsidy to private insurance companies to try to compete with Medicare because they can't compete with Medicare. When people complain about a government-run health care program, they're complaining about a program that is like Medicare. So it's an interesting position. On the one hand, they're trying to save Medicare. On the other hand, they don't want --
LEWIS: They benefit financially from getting rid of it. There's a lot of hypocrisy going around. What about the idea -- Because I think that's one of the big groups pushing for this. What about the idea of bipartisanship? Harry Reid and the Democrats had a Republican, Olympia Snowe. That would give them cover that said they would pass a bipartisan bill. That slapped her in the face. They have sold her down the road.
CONASON: They decided she's wrong on the policy issue.
DOBBS: The Associated Press reports on the profits of health care insurance companies, a unique report over the weekend. The insurance health care companies have been vilified in this debate by this administration, this president, by the Democratic leadership about the profits they're enjoying. It turns out according to the associated press survey of these companies that they have averaged 2.2 percent profits, ranked 35 out of 53 industries on the fortune 500. Has there -- is there just the slightest possibility that the rhetoric has exceeding reality to the point that it could be a problem moving forward?
PLAUT: If it covered pre-existing conditions, it would do a lot to improve Americans' views of them.
DOBBS: I'm asking about the administration's problems in public relations, not the health care companies. They're being vilified with 2.2 percent in profits, ranking 35th out of 53 industry groups in the fortune 500. I think I used the expression average. CONASON: So some of them are very large.
PLAUT: I think Democrats went on record saying this industry has the highest profits of any industry. In fact, we're 35th.
PLAUT: I don't think so.
CONWAY: There's a huge boogie man they have been trying to vilify.
DOBBS: The president stopped vilifying and demonizing doctors. He's talked about ripping tonsils out of children and amputating feet. That's to the good. Will we see a similar retreat when it comes to the insurance companies?
CONASON: I think they're going to try to make the companies come in and try to make a deal.
DOBBS: This sounds like it's not going to lead to a direct response to my question.
LEWIS: That's the Chicago way. If you don't make a deal --
DOBBS: Thank you all so much. Appreciate it.
Up next, Republicans hoping to capitalize on conservative voter power and dissatisfaction with the Democratic parties. What does that mean for one governor from the state of Texas, Governor Rick Perry? We'll find out here, next.
DOBBS: Conservative voting power can make the difference at upcoming key elections across the country. Here comes November 3rd. A new Gallup poll shows the number of Americans as describing themselves as conservative outnumber both moderates and liberals in this country. The trend could benefit Texas Governor Rick Perry. He's caught up in a tough primary battle to remain his party's electorate. Governor Perry joins us here now. Good to have you with us. Are you surprised by that poll, the Gallup poll showing conservatives overwhelming both moderates and liberals?
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: No, it doesn't necessarily surprise me. We go back and forth in this country, back and forth, hoping change gets people's attention and then we look at policies and people go, wait a minute, that wasn't the hope --
DOBBS: Need a little more change.
PERRY: The change we were hoping for. It's out there and people are looking for folks to stand up and say, here's what I believe in, here's what I'm going to do, or to have a record to look at.
DOBBS: You say Texans are so fed up with big government that the state may want to succeed. The federal government certainly hasn't become any smaller. What do you think about the necessity of succession?
PERRY: I don't think that's exactly the quote that I made. But let's just say that people are fed up with big government. There is a reason that Republicans are not in power in Washington, D.C. a lot of folks put their hands up and say, listen, elect me and I want to go be a Republican and then they went up and they voted like Democrats. And people kicked them out. People are fed up with government spending our kids' future. These $1 trillion deficits are scaring people. Health care bills that have $1 trillion attachments to them, people are just fed up with that.
DOBBS: You and Kay Bailey Hutchison are tied in a -- statistically tied in a recent Rasmussen poll. What's your plan to win the primary?
PERRY: I just run on my record. When you look at a state that's got 1,000 a people a day moving to it, a place with more than fortune 500 companies, inarguably Texas is the envy of the other 49 states economically. I'll put that record up against anybody.
DOBBS: You have five patrolled ports of entry into the state, as you know. Do you think homeland security Janet Napolitano is doing enough to secure the borders? And we'll limit that just to the state of Texas.
PERRY: And neither did the previous homeland security director.
DOBBS: Michael Chertoff.
PERRY: Neither one are doing enough. We've asked this administration for 1,000 National Guard troops to come, put boots on the ground. We haven't gotten an answer. There's a conflict between the department of defense and homeland security about who's going to pay for it. I don't care who's going to pay for it, just get the troops on the ground. Let's use the technology available. Why not fly predator drones up and down that border region. They're training drones anyway. They're practicing for the real deal. Let's use them, take that data, use it to help on our homeland security.
DOBBS: What's the number one issue for the state of Texas in the next five to ten years? And what are you doing about it?
PERRY: Making sure we keep the economy going. There's nothing more important than any governor does. I like to see states compete against states. So keeping that economic climate very positive in the state of Texas so that people know they can keep more of their money, they can have the type of quality of life, they can have the freedoms that they desire. If states get focused on the tenth amendment, if we continue to make Texas a place where people want to live, obviously, when there's 1,000 a day coming there, there's a reason for it, and it's the economy, stupid.
DOBBS: All right. Well, we're going end to with you calling me stupid. Governor, good to have you with us.
PERRY: Good, Lou. DOBBS: Governor Rick Perry, good to have you here.
Up at the top of the hour, Campbell Brown. Campbell, tell us all about it.
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, there, Lou. We are tonight going to hear from some of the most powerful and influential women in the country. They're all here for the women's conference, the annual event. One of the president's senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett, talks about bias in the media among other things. We also talk to former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and ask her if President Obama is doing the right thing in taking his time about whether to send more troops to Afghanistan. We've also go t the editor of glamour magazine, Dara Torres and our mashup of all the day's top stories at top of the hour.
DOBBS: Campbell, thanks a lot. Coming up next, some of your thoughts.
DOBBS: Well, time now for some of your thoughts.
Nancy in Texas, appropriately, "After Governor Rick Perry, said Lou, I bet President Obama and the chamber of commerce kiss and make up when it's sometime to push amnesty hard." You know, I wouldn't take that bet.
And Andrew, "From an independent observer, it seems that LOU DOBBS TONIGHT spends most of the time highlighting the negatives of the Obama administration and downplaying the positives. Is there really an agenda here?" Well, if you think so, try this one out.
Barbara in Georgia says, "Mr. Dobbs, you're a breath of fresh air. I find your show fair, insightful, and balanced. Keep up the good work."
And John in Texas, "I have seen Lou Dobbs' show and I feel that it is very one sided and not to my liking."
Eric writes, "Dear Mr. Dobbs, keep up the good work. I certainly don't agree with all of your viewpoints, but someone needs to at least ask questions about what goes on with our government." By the way, parenthetically, just asking a question, you can get into a lot of trouble in this country right now. End of parenthetical. "This is after all the most fundamental purpose and duty of the press." Well, we try.
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