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American Morning

Air Strikes in Gaza Halted; Dr. Gupta Being Considered as Surgeon General; Former Surgeon General Talks About the Job; Best and Worst Jobs in the U.S.; Oprah Opens Up About Weight Gain

Aired January 07, 2009 - 07:00   ET


CHETRY: Well, back to our top story. Israel has stopped its offensive in Gaza for three hours this morning to move to allow humanitarian aid into the area.
The Red Cross says Gaza is suffering a full blown humanitarian crisis. Momentum is building this morning for new talks to end the Middle East conflict after Israel hit a school killing dozens of civilians who were taking shelter there.

Israel, though, says it was responding to rocket fire from Hamas which was using civilians as human shields. The U.N. is disputing that and calling for an impartial investigation.

And overnight Israel's president defended the attack on the schools saying its country is battling terrorists who don't play by conventional rules.


SHIMON PERES, PRESIDENT, ISRAEL: We call it an organized government, which is illegal, and they use means or they permit themselves waste that were never permitted in the past, like use children as a shield to cover arms and fire from them, like use mosques as an arsenal, like to use hospitals to cover their terrorists.


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's Christiane Amanpour is live for us in Jerusalem this morning. And this is something that Israel has always contended that it puts them in a spot where their, you know, the enemies of the world, because people see the civilian casualties, at the same time they say it's not them.

It's the fact that their enemy is using these civilians as human shields, so how will this play out?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, President Peres says that this is the first time such a thing has happened but really since time immemorial when an organized army fights a guerrilla force, this is what's going to happen.

There will be civilian casualties, and many of those Hamas people are within the civilian population and even been firing their rockets out from within there.

But on the other hand, the school incident is so sensitive because this is where people ran for cover, urged on by the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces, to move from their places to these other places such as these U.N. schools.

And this U.N. school particularly and others, their coordinates were given to the Israeli army so this is why this is so sensitive.

And while the Israeli government is insisting that there was either Hamas militants or Hamas fire out of this school, the UNRWA, people say, that they have already conducted at least a preliminary investigation and interviewed so many people there and they say they're 99.9 percent sure there was no such activity.

But as this continues to play out, this war of words and the civilian crisis grows, Israel is now responding by, as we've been reporting, having humanitarian pauses in the bombing.

The first one is under way right now. It's about three hours long, according to the Israeli Defense Forces and it is Gaza-wide. They are stopping their activities throughout the Gaza Strip, so that people inside can go to various locations and collect humanitarian supplies, including fuel. Israeli Defense Forces say that if they are attacked while this is going on, they will respond -- Kiran.

CHETRY: And any news coming out of the Israeli cabinet meeting that's going on right now?

AMANPOUR: Well, it's meant to be discussing, we're told, the idea of either continuing the ground operations and going deeper in, which, of course, will provide enormous dangers going deeper into heavily-populated warrens of these towns such as Gaza city.

Or whether to go ahead and get on board with this ceasefire that's being drawn up by Egypt, the United States, France, all putting their proposals in, but centers heavily around an international or some kind of really good monitoring device to prevent the smuggling of weapons and cache into Gaza from Egypt, Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. That's certainly a key sticking point in all of this, so we'll be checking back in with you. Christiane Amanpour for us in Jerusalem this morning, thanks.

And we're also going to be giving you a look inside of the secret tunnels that Christiane was talking about between Gaza and Egypt. They're tiny pitch black dangerous passageways that have been under almost constant attack during this conflict.

Smugglers dug out dozens of them in recent years to re-supply the Gaza Strip with everything from guns, cache and drugs to laptops, even western-style blue jeans. All of this helps keep Hamas in power during Israel's economic blockade. Closing them will be key to making any cease-fire stick.

A view of war few will ever see, just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, since the summer of 2001, Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been CNN's resident neurosurgeon, medical correspondent, public health specialist and all-around great guy.

Well now, he's under consideration by President-elect Barack Obama as a candidate for U.S. surgeon general. What an honor! But what does the impressive title mean?

Well, it's meant different things over the years. Our Jason Carroll is here now. He's got the story on that.

Good morning, Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. You know, Sanjay is someone who definitely knows health care policy and, of course, we know him here at AMERICAN MORNING.

Obama's transition team is impressed with Dr. Gupta's experience in government, his communication abilities and his medical skills. According to sources, Dr. Gupta went to Chicago to meet with the president-elect last November. Dr. Gupta is, as you heard, CNN's chief medical correspondent. In 2003, he not only reported from Iraq and Kuwait, he ended up putting his medical skills to good use.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I was in Iraq covering the military's Devil Docs medical team. In moments, I would go from reporter to neurosurgeon.

(on camera): They don't have neurosurgeons on this particular medical unit, at least this far forward.


CARROLL: That's just a brief excerpt from a report that Gupta filed. Gupta was an embedded correspondent with the U.S. Navy's medical unit. He worked alongside them performing several brain surgeries. When he's not busy in the field, he is fulfilling his medical duties in the hospitals.

Dr. Gupta is a staff and faculty member of the Department of Neurosurgery at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. He regularly performs surgery there, and at Grady Memorial Hospital, where he's associate chief of neurosurgery.

Obama's transition team also liked Gupta's past government experience. In 1997, he was a White House fellow and a special adviser to then First Lady Hillary Clinton. The surgeon general serves as the country's chief health educator informing Americans how to improve their health and reduce the risk of illness and injury.

CNN released a statement saying that since first learning that Dr. Gupta was under consideration for the surgeon general position, CNN has made sure that his on-air reporting has been on health and wellness matters and not on health care policy or any matters involving the new administration.

If he accepts this offer, we are certainly going to miss him here on AMERICAN MORNING and throughout CNN.


CARROLL: And we are hearing that he is seriously considering it.

ROBERTS: I think he'd be a great person for the job, because he loves health care policy. The trick will be whether or not the Obama administration really gives the surgeon general a hand in health care policy.

CARROLL: It allows him to be what he wants to.

ROBERTS: It's something that would be -- it's something that would be a real big concern for Dr. Gupta, so we'll see how that goes.

CARROLL: All right.

ROBERTS: Jason, thanks.

CHETRY: Well, joining us now to give us a firsthand account of the job of surgeon general is Dr. Richard Carmona. Now he served the current Bush administration as surgeon general from 2002 to 2006. Dr. Carmona joins us now from the Canyon Ranch Institute in Tucson.

Thanks for being with us this morning.


CHETRY: Well, you just heard our own Sanjay Gupta has been approached by the Obama team about possibly becoming the next surgeon general. So we have a little interest in this position. What exactly goes into the selection?

CARMONA: Well, the surgeon general of the United States protects, promotes and advances the health, safety and security of the nation. It's a very arduous process and I think it's important that a lot of due diligence is given because we need to get a senior leader, somebody who has the credibility to work in the health space on behalf of the American public and our government, meeting with international and domestic leaders in health, and helping to change behavior, as it relates to improving the health, safety and security of the nation.

So it's a very important position, if used correctly.

CHETRY: And what do you think about Dr. Gupta?

CARMONA: Well, you know, I don't know a lot about the doctor. I met him about, oh, five or six years ago as surgeon general, when I was meeting with other surgeon generals at sea on a ship.

The Navy surgeon general was sponsoring us, two admirals and two generals, myself being an admiral as surgeon general of the United States, and we were having discussions about global health issues.

The doctor came and interviewed us and spent some time with me and then he put me on notice then. He said, well, you know, Surgeon General Carmona, I'm interested in this position, and you better be careful, because someday I'll have your job. So it seems that interest has continued.

CHETRY: That's very, very interesting. Well after you left the surgeon general's office, you actually were a little bit critical about it.

You told Congress, "The reality is that the nation's doctor has been marginalized and relegated to a position with no independent budget, with supervisors who are political appointees with partisan agendas. Anything that doesn't fit into the political appointees ideological, theological or political agenda is ignored, marginalized, and (ph) simply buried."

What were some of your chief concerns that prompted you to write that, to say that, and to feel that way about the position?

CARMONA: Well, first, let me say it is a wonderful position to be the doctor of the nation. It's an iconic position, one that not only the American public relies on for the best scientific information on a regular basis, but the world looks to for direction.

The fact of the matter is, and the context of those remarks were in a larger congressional hearing in which Surgeon General Koop and Surgeon General Satcher and I testified about the position and how it evolved over several decades where all of those issues that you pointed out where germane to Surgeon General Koop as well as Surgeon General Satcher, and we felt that Congress need to look at the position so that it can be adequately supported and serve the American public in the best manner possibly.

CHETRY: Also, you clashed with the Bush administration on issues like stem cell research, contraception, other things along those lines. Under the Obama administration, do you think that if the new surgeon general felt strongly about something or disagreed that he would be free to say that?

CARMONA: Well, I really can't say because I really don't know how President-elect Obama will be setting up his administration. As you heard from the testimony that Surgeon General Koop and Surgeon General Satcher and other surgeon generals have pined over the last few decades, the office of the surgeon general needs to be looked at very differently and de-politicized and funded and supported as it should be.

Recently the Institute of Medicine released a report as did the trust for America's health that spoke about the importance of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the office of the surgeon general, and how they have to be strengthened and in fact, reorganized to better serve the American public.

CHETRY: All right. Dr. Richard Carmona, former U.S. surgeon general, thanks so much for joining us this morning.

CARMONA: Thanks, pleasure to be with you.

ROBERTS: Well, let me tell you how it will be. There is one for you and 19 for me. That's how the Beatles described the tax man. But might there be some sympathy headed our way? How the IRS is planning to go easy on people who have it tough in today's economy.

And the sheets of sleet. People in for a slippery, messy, dangerous commute in the northeast this morning. What you need to know before you leave home this morning.

It's 11 minutes after the hour.

CHETRY: The new "t" word, one, one, 12 zeros.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't want to get into particular budget numbers.


CHETRY: The president-elect pumps up his stimulus plan and experts estimate it could take a trillion bucks to pay for it.


ALICE RIVLIN, FMR. BUDGET DIRECTOR: A trillion dollars is a lot of money, but the economy's in deep trouble.


CHETRY: But is even that enough to turn the economy around? You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning."

New prices at iTunes. Apple announcing downloaded music will now cost either 69 cents, 99 cents or $1.29. It will allow record companies to set those prices. Songs will be made available without copy protection, making it much easier to transfer music to other PCs, iPods and phones.

Well, the tax man expected to go easy on you really in today's tough economy. The IRS is giving agents new authority to waive late penalties and to work with people who make a good faith effort to pay their debt. IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman says that in this extraordinary time we need to "walk a mile in their shoes."

Hey, that's welcome news if it's true.

ROBERTS: It would be good, wouldn't it? It's a little bit of tax relief for some folks who really need it. Fifteen minutes after the hour. And for those of you who are still employed, you might be wondering what are the best and what the worst jobs in America. Our Ali Velshi "Minding Your Business" this morning. What's the news on that?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Alina just gave me a little fragrant, fruity gummy thing and stuck in my teeth. Well, I probably shouldn't have taken it right before I did my news report. But in case you're looking for another job, I have all the information for you.

CHETRY: After you swallow.

VELSHI: Well, it's like stuck in my tooth.

CHETRY: What is it? A chewy gum thing.

VELSHI: It's a chewy, little gummy gelatinous thing.


VELSHI: No, no. It's some kind of thing. Her and Jason Carroll were arguing, but Jason thought it wasn't very good I took it --

ROBERTS: Why don't you just bring breakfast on the set with you?

VELSHI: Yes. Why not?

CHETRY: Eat a few more of those and the best job will be a dentist.

VELSHI: So there's this Web site called Careercast, and they've put out this list of 200 jobs. They've rated them on the following scale. They've taken these factors into account.

The work environment, the income, the employment outlook, the possibility of, you know, jobs in that field, the stress level, and the physical demands. And they've come out with a list -- there's 200 of them -- but we want to show you the top five and the bottom five.

The top job on this list: mathematician, actuary is number two, and statistician is number three. That's a whole lot of fun.

CHETRY: Wait a minute.

VELSHI: And then biologist and software engineer. But you see there's growth in those industries, excellent salaries in all of them. I suppose not much physical demand.

CHETRY: What does an actuary do?

ROBERTS: And it's exciting work too.

VELSHI: They figure out insurance, you know, your risk.

ROBERTS: They figure out when you're going to die basically. CHETRY: Oh.

VELSHI: The mathematical calculation. So when somebody gives you a premium on your insurance, it's an actuary that's worked out what your risk is and how much you should pay.

CHETRY: I thought that was an underwriter.

VELSHI: That's not math. That's a crazy math.

CHETRY: Not an undertaker.

VELSHI: So down the bottom of the list is kind of interesting, 196 on the list. These are bad apparently. EMT, because clearly there's a high stress level in that area; number 197, seaman; number 198 is a taxi driver; 199 is a dairy farmer. That seems a little rough. You got to get up every morning and milk the cows; and number 200 is a lumberjack.

So, you know, you might like those things. You might really like cows or the sea or things like that. So I don't want to dissuade anybody. I don't know how much science went into this report, but kind of interesting.

CHETRY: I watch the "Deadliest Catch."

VELSHI: Right. But it's dangerous, right? That's why it's deadly.

CHETRY: That does not look (INAUDIBLE)

ROBERTS: Yes, but it's an adrenalin rush and those guys love it.

VELSHI: Right. So you might like for those reasons. You know, it's one of those things. Everybody's job is what they like. I like getting up early in the morning and eating stinky, fruity, fragrant chew things that stick to my teeth.

ROBERTS: And I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK.

VELSHI: There you go. Hey listen, this weekend...


ROBERTS: You were up all night and work all day.

VELSHI: You were asking earlier about the percentage of how much the debt is.

ROBERTS: Our executive producer is about to scream.

VELSHI: Let me tell you we have an answer for people like you. In fact for all of you out there concerned about the percentage of debt to GDP, but really the more important issue of deficits and Social Security and the amount of debt that this country is in, we actually have a special this weekend. It's running at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday. It's called I.O.U.S.A. (ph).

Remember there was a movie that came out about this in the summer. Kind of got buried but it was a really fascinating movie that was made with a whole lot of smart people about how serious our debt situation is in this country. So we're going to be looking into that in great depth. TiVo is.

ROBERTS: Dare I ask what the debt is as a percentage of GDP?



VELSHI: You do not.

ROBERTS: Thanks.

Will Ferrell polishing up on his Bushisms for Broadway. "W" with a play in the works in the final days of his presidency.

CHETRY: We'll also take you inside the Gaza underworld, where everything from diapers to rocket-propelled grenades are smuggled through hundreds of dangerous intricate tunnels.

It's 18 and a half minutes after the hour.



WILL FERRELL, PLAYING GEORGE W. BUSH: So I'm leaving the White House to go tear Dallas a new party hole. But don't worry, the Tiger Woods guy is taking over. He seems to know a lot of stuff, but here's the thing I'm really excited about.

After Farak Zema (ph) gets sworn in, I'm a free man. That means I can curse, fart, flip people off and get tired of cable again.


ROBERTS: That's a look back at "Saturday Night Live" and Will Ferrell doing his unforgettable impersonation of President Bush. Now he's getting ready to bring that act back to life and it will be on Broadway. The show called "You're Welcome, America" a final night with George W. Bush follows Bush's life from his college days through the presidency.

Bush will be out of office in just 13 days, but Ferrell made a lot of fun of him while he was actually in the Oval Office. So did that ever make Ferrell nervous?


WILL FERRELL, ACTOR AND COMEDIAN: I did it first. In fact, I think my phone was tapped for about a month, and then I realized it was just a bad connection. So -- no, I'm, you know, ignorance is bliss so I just kind of dive into it and hope I won't get audited.


ROBERTS: HBO has landed exclusive rights to the Obama inauguration kickoff coverage. They're going to broadcast the Sunday before the inauguration. According to the Hollywood report, you don't have to subscribe to HBO to see history because the network plans to make the event available to all cable and satellite subscribers for free.

And if you're away from your television set, you need the latest political headlines, you can get them any time. Just go to

And as we cross into 23 minutes after the hour, Rob Marciano looking after your weather today.

And, Rob, we've got lots of business going on in the northeast today. Rain outside here in New York, and some fluffy white stuff falling elsewhere. Rob?


ROBERTS: Oh, Rob, you're over here. I'm sorry.

MARCIANO: Hey, come on, John, keep walking. Here we are.

Where it is raining though, temperatures are in the 30s, so it's a nasty rain. There is slightly colder air behind the system but in the meantime from much of the day today, it's just going to be plain, old, disgusting from D.C. up to New York. Mostly cold rain here, but the pink doesn't mean good things.

Buffalo, New York yesterday, freezing rain and ice problems, traffic an issue there. At this hour, 34 degrees and raining. So that's definitely freezing on some spots. It will change to all rain and snow later on.

Boston preparing for the snow. They'll see several inches especially west of the city so the sanders, snowplows and front loaders are out in preparation for what could be a doozy of a storm. I think mostly outside of Boston. Boston should be close enough to the ocean to where it doesn't get too terrible.

But still ice storm warnings out for folks in western Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania. Two to four inches in the Catskills. Could be more in the Berkshires, maybe six to 12 inches of snow across the Adirondacks and into the Green and White Mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire.

All right. We've got an hour delay in Philly, 50-minute delay at LaGuardia and these delays will probably continue to ramp up because this is a fairly slow-moving system. One of the reasons being is the air behind it not terribly cold, I guess that's the good news.

Thirty-one degrees in Chicago for a high. Sixteen in Minneapolis, 45 in Kansas City and 39 for a high in New York. Fifty- six degrees in Atlanta for a daytime high.

John, back up to you. Stay dry.

ROBERTS: All right. Rob, thanks very much. We'll try to stay dry as we can.

Twenty-five minutes after the hour.

Oprah's brave admission for a new year. Straight talk from the queen of talk about her embarrassing weight gain. How she plans to get healthy, and new tips from her trainer that can help you, too.


DR. MEHMET OZ, OPRAH'S MEDICAL ADVISER: To me, weight gain especially when it's in the belly area is a reflection of stress.


ROBERTS: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


CHETRY: Well now that Oprah has very publicly admitted her weight gain, the world is watching, so now what?

Alina Cho joins us with more. Hi, Alina.


CHETRY: She did talk about it publicly, and you know just came out and said I've fallen off the wagon basically.

CHO: Yes, she did. And you may recall, Kiran, about a month ago, Oprah very publicly admitted in "O" magazine that she had tipped the scale at 200 pounds, the dreaded 2-0-0, she calls it. Now, in her most candid comments yet, Oprah is speaking out on her own show saying all the money, fame and attention in the world and none of it matters if you can't control your weight.


OPRAH WINFREY, HOST: Please welcome Tina Turner.

CHO (voice-over): Oprah says she hit bottom a year ago when she had to go on stage with Tina Turner and Cher.

WINFREY: I was embarrassed and I wanted to be anyplace other than there. I want' going to do it. I wasn't going to do it.

CHO: And so she says she tried to keep it a secret.

WINFREY: Here I am one of the most visible people in the world, trying not to be seen.

CHO: She says photo shoots for her magazine became embarrassing, with stylists trying to help her conceal the weight. But after months of hiding it, Oprah is putting it all out there, posing next to a smaller version of herself and once again opening up about a very painful and personal subject.

WINFREY: I am mad at myself. I am embarrassed. I can't believe I'm still talking about weight.

CHO: It's been a public struggle for decades. Remember this? That was 20 years ago, skinny, size 10 Calvin Kleins, pulling 67 pounds of fat in a wagon.

Just four years later, the pounds were back on, and Oprah tipped the scales at more than 230 pounds. She eventually got down to 160 pounds, but says she started feeling sick.

WINFREY: The moment I heard I have a thyroid problem I just thought well, I don't even know how you fight this. I felt completely defeated and I think OK, that's it. I give. I give.

CHO: Then it got worse. Oprah says she was put on medication that literally sucked the life out of her.

DR. MEHMET OZ, OPRAH'S MEDICAL ADVISER: Her obesity became an excuse that she could hide behind. Oprah took it one step deeper. She hid behind her hormones.

CHO: It got so bad her long time trainer asked if she was depressed.

WINFREY: What? Me? Depressed? I can't be depressed. I know what depression is. I'm not depressed.


CHO: Now, Oprah says that conversation with her trainer and long time friend, Bob Green, was a turning point. She says 2009 will be the year that hope won. That it's about finding balance, about putting yourself back on your own priority list, she says. And, Oprah, by the way, says she doesn't want to be thin anymore, Kiran. She wants to be healthy, strong and fit.

And finding balance really is the key for a lot of people including Oprah. You know and Bob Green says, she's just like everybody else when you're talking about battling your weight. You know, Oprah may be the queen of talk. She may be one of the most famous women in the world, but she has a lot of the same struggles that many of us have.

CHETRY: And she, you mentioned, goes for it. She said she told Larry she run five miles that morning.

CHO: She is nothing if not honest. I think a lot of people credit her for being brave, for being so candid about talking about her weight and, you know, talking about her road to recovery.

CHETRY: Thanks a lot, Alina. CHO: You bet.

ROBERTS: Thirty minutes after the hour now and here are this morning's top stories.

Al Qaeda bashing Obama in an audio message said to be from Al Qaeda's number two, Ayman al Zawahiri, vows revenge for Israel's air and ground assault on Gaza. He also calls the Jewish state's action against Hamas militants a gift from President-elect Barack Obama. Al Zawahiri who is a native Egyptian also calls Egyptian President Hozni Mubarak a traitor for not opening the border between Egypt and Gaza.

Barack Obama continues to assemble his White House leadership team. The "New York Times" reporting that Obama will pick Nancy Killefer as his chief performance officer. The newly-created position is designed to help reform the federal government. Killefer was assistant treasury secretary in the Clinton White House.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed an $18 billion package pitched by Democrats as a major down payment toward the state's budget deficit. California, the nation's biggest economy is in danger of running out of cash and facing a $40 billion budget gap by next year.

Well, troops returning from war with post traumatic stress disorder will not get a Purple Heart solely for that affliction. The decision just made public by the Pentagon. A statement released by the Pentagon says PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event, not a wound intentionally caused by the enemy. The military says the decision could be reversed in the future.

Well, with less than two weeks before the inauguration, President-elect Barack Obama is facing a harsh reality. His economic recovery plan could saddle the nation with a mountain of new debt, and he is warning that the deficit could run over - get this - over $1 trillion and for years to come. So what if his recovery plan does not jump-start the economy? Does Obama have a plan b?

CNN's Jim Acosta is live in Washington for us this morning. And Jim, when you think of those figures, $1 trillion a year for multiple years, it just boggles the mind.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's amazing, John, and Barack Obama is warning about the dangers of the deficit while at the same time talking about expanding it. You know, a different Illinois senator, Everett Dirksen was once quoted as saying "a billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you're talking about real money." Not in the Obama stimulus plan. Try trillion.



ACOSTA (voice-over): Get ready for the "t" word. By most estimates, Barack Obama's stimulus plan, once it passes through the Congress, could approach the $1 trillion mark, that's $1 trillion, a one followed by 12 zeros, 1,000 billions, a million millions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

ACOSTA: As "The Wall Street Journal" points out in today's dollars, that's more than what this country spent on the new deal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

ACOSTA: The race to the moon. And the atomic bomb. Only World War II cost more than $1 trillion.

ALICE RIVLIN, FMR. BUDGET DIRECTOR: A $1 trillion is a lot of money, but the economy's in deep trouble, and I think they really need to do something big.

ACOSTA: Clinton administration budget director Alice Rivlin says the Obama plans investments in infrastructure and tax breaks should get the economy moving, emphasis on the word "should."

RIVLIN: It's possible that the stimulus plan will not turn around the economy quickly. In fact, it's very probable that that is true.

OBAMA: You know, I don't want to get into particular budget numbers.

ACOSTA: While the President-elect has yet to give his plan a price tag, he insists it will be pork-free, no congressional pet projects.

OBAMA: We're not having earmarks in the recovery package, period.

ACOSTA: Some liberal economists worry Mr. Obama is being too cautious and say the stimulus package should be bigger, even if some of it is wasteful.

DEAN BAKER, CENTER FOR ECONOMIC POLICY RESEARCH: My big concern is that it's not as large as we really wanted. If we need to spend money we'd like it to be spent as well as possible, it's better that some of it be wasted than we be sitting there with higher unemployment rate.

ACOSTA: Conservatives would rather see more tax cuts and ask where does the spending end?

PAT TOOMEY, PRESIDENT, CLUB FOR GROWTH: You can't keep spending $1 trillion a pop and say well let's just try again, then what do they do next? Maybe then they'll get around to looking at the tax side of the equation.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ACOSTA: Then there's the other trillion-dollar question of the day, the new administration's budget director says that's the expected size of the federal deficit when Barack Obama is sworn into office, John, and that's just at the very beginning of his administration.

ROBERTS: It's kind of a frightening thing to think about, Jim, how much money we're going to be leaving our children and grandchildren to pay off. Pretty incredible.

ACOSTA: Absolutely, yes.

ROBERTS: Jim Acosta for us this morning. Jim, thanks so much.

ACOSTA: You got it.

CHETRY: You know, it really is a huge challenge facing Barack Obama as he prepares to take office in just under two weeks. So joining us now to discuss the political fallout of the massive deficit and the huge stimulus, Tara Wall, CNN contributor and deputy editorial page editor of the "Washington Times" as well as Melissa Harris- Lacewell, the associate professor of politics in African-American studies in Princeton University. Good morning to both of you. Thanks for being with us.


CHETRY: Melissa, let me start with you. So President-elect Obama is talking about this huge stimulus plan to the tune of $800 billion or more, included in that this huge tax cut proposal as well. What does he need to do to ensure the public and also the financial markets that this record spending will help get us out of these tough times?

HARRIS-LACEWELL: Well I think part of what we may have to cope with as a nation is the reality that in these kinds of situations. Sometimes it's true that the government is better than private industry or individual households in moving us out of such a big hole.

Most importantly, because the government can take on enormous projects like the rebuilding of our crumbling infrastructure, the movement of our energy plan into a more green energy economy, these kinds of things are actually best undertaken by massive projects. We could put easily a million people to work just in rebuilding transportation infrastructure and that's everything from white collar jobs like architects to blue collar jobs like the people actually out there pouring that cement for you.

So in this case, we are going to have to spend money from the perspective of the government, in order to lift the entire economy out. I think he's just going to have to be brave enough to do it.

CHETRY: And Tara, it's interesting because Melissa said that you know in some ways the government can do better and certainly the anti- conservative message. A lot of Republicans expressing concern the stimulus is too big, however they do admit that Barack Obama included as part of this proposal a massive tax cut in part to bring Republicans on board, so will he perhaps get bipartisan support for this?

TARA WALL, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I'd have to respectfully disagree with Melissa who I know. I don't think the government is the answer to solve these problems. I think certainly private entities do a much better job in communities and dealing with day-to-day issues of real communities.

There is a role for government to play, yes and certainly in the economic situation we're in, there has to be some type of government intervention. But I think what Republicans want to see, Republicans are encouraged about tax cuts of course, tax cuts have been a Republican mantra and it was something that President Bush was roundly criticized about when he tried to institute them early on and was successful.

And that's why I think the economy did move forward early on. But at the same time what Republicans are concerned about, what conservatives are concerned about is not giving tax cuts to those who don't pay into the income tax system which would essentially be more of what would be considered government welfare in some cases and also making sure that we're stimulating the economy in a way that's also beneficial to small businesses.

Government doesn't create jobs. Government is there to create an atmosphere that reinforces job growth -

CHETRY: Right.

WALL: And encourages job growth through small business, through private enterprise and those are the types of things that I think Republicans want to see.

CHETRY: In this proposal it would be a little bit of both, the tax cuts plus the plan for the infrastructure.

WALL: And it's good there's not going to be any pork. I think that's good that we hold him to the issue of no earmarks, no pork.

CHETRY: All right. Well, Melissa, let me ask you about this. The drama continues in the senate. Let's listen to a little bit of Roland Burris. He is the embattled appointee from Illinois describing his rejection from the capitol.


ROLAND BURRIS (D), FMR. ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERAL: My name is Roland Burris, the junior senator from the state of Illinois. I presented my credentials to the secretary of the senate, and advised that my credentials were not in order and I would not be accepted and I will not be seated and I will not be permitted on the floor.


CHETRY: You know, Melissa, yesterday this turned into almost a circus-like atmosphere with Burris trying to get seated, being followed around by the media. A key ally now, Diane Feinstein saying you know, maybe he should be seated. And law experts say that Democrats may not have a constitutional ground to block him. So is this one fight the Democrats should just give up right now?

HARRIS-LACEWELL: Well this is very painful and difficult. I lived almost ten years in Chicago, and one thing that I know a Chicagoan like Roland Burris should know is that you don't ever want to break a strike and that's basically what he's done here.

The politicos in Illinois needed to come together with a solid sort of strike against Blagojevich. They need to get Governor Blagojevich out of office and one of the major pressure points of doing that was saying look, he can't appoint a senator, if he can't appropriately appoint a senator, then the people of Illinois are without their full representation in the U.S. government, in the Senate, and therefore, let's get Blagojevich out and get a senator in.

By accepting Blagojevich's nomination, Roland Burris, although a perfectly nice man and himself doesn't appear to have any ethics violations has put himself in a situation where he actually blocks the ability of the people of Illinois to have real representation in the Senate. So yes, will Feinstein and the Democrats quite likely have to appoint him because there's no other way? Yes, but the point here is that the choices that Burris is making are bad for the people of the state that he claims to want to represent.

CHETRY: All right. Tara, quickly, because we've got to go.

WALL: I happen to absolutely agree with Melissa. Well there is one thing that can be done, the honorable thing that can be done, and that is Roland Burris can step down and not accept the appointment altogether. It may not be his right thing but it may not necessarily be the right thing for him to do.

CHETRY: And right now, he's fighting on.

All right. Melissa Harris-Lacewell and Tara Wall, great to talk to both of you. Thanks.


ROBERTS: Here are the critical issue in any potential mideast ceasefire, underground and inside the tunnels, a closer look at the Middle East world where everything from guns to potato chips are smuggled underneath the earth and away from border checkpoints.

And Barack Obama warning of trillion-dollar deficits for years to come. That's like nails on a chalk board to a guy like Ron Paul. The former presidential candidate joins us live, what he would do to cure America's sick economy. Coming up.


ROBERTS: Coming up now on 44 minutes after the hour. How could a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza be worked out? Some world leaders including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair say the solution lies underground in the hundreds of tunnels that connect Gaza to Egypt. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice addressed the issue of the tunnels while speaking to the United Nations security council yesterday.


CONDOLEEZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We must find a way with the consent and full cooperation of like-minded governments to prevent any arms or explosives from entering Gaza, and the tunnel systems that have allowed rearmament of Hamas, must be prevented from reopening.


ROBERTS: So exactly what is she talking about? Let's take a closer look at the border crossing connecting Gaza and Egypt. It's a town called Rafah, at the southern end, southwestern end of the Gaza strip. The border crossing is some 300 yards wide but you have to go through three checkpoints, two Egyptian and one Palestinian.

To get around these checkpoints there are hundreds of tunnels that are dug deep into the earth, sometimes as much as 50 feet deep providing Gaza's 1.5 million people from everything from diapers to rocket-propelled grenades. Hamas uses these intricate tunnels as a way to smuggle in explosives, cement, guns and ammunition.

An Israeli military spokesman says Hamas used the tunnels to acquire 100 tons of explosives in the past year among other supplies. A big source of revenue for Hamas as well but these tunnels also provide a lifeline for thousands of Egyptians and Palestinians. Some Egyptians say that they can make upwards of $50,000 a month smuggling goods underground.

And for the Palestinians, the tunnels provide everything from basic necessities to goods like potato chips, cigarettes, even American dollars and in some cases electronic equipment, even washing machines.

Israeli military officials estimate they have blown up almost half of the estimated tunnels along the Gaza-Egyptian border since Israel began the air strikes but Israeli leaders cautioned that Hamas would likely dig a new network of tunnels just as soon as the Israeli military withdraws.

So then how do you stop all of these tunnels? There's a number of ideas under consideration, one includes an underground barrier along the nine-mile border between southern Gaza and Egypt. If you dig it down, it's almost like a prairie fence where they dig a fence down three feet to stop the rabbits from getting into your cabbage patch.

An international military patrol with the authority to search for and destroy any freshly built tunnels is another idea. One possible road block to that, though Egyptian officials have not said whether they would allow foreign troops or monitors on their side of the border. There's this 300-mile-wide gap as we told you, called the Philadelphia corridor, up until 2005 it was patrolled by the Israeli defense forces.

It was termed responsibility for that was turned over to the Egyptians. So the question is would they allow an international agency in along that border area. And one of the more bolder ideas floated is also an 80-foot-deep moat, 80-foot deep, filled with sea water. An estimated price tag of $250 million, but that idea was nixed after fears that the sea water incursion would contaminate Gaza's scarce underground water supply.

So it's a huge issue. This is the real sticking point for Israel, because they say that's how all of those raw materials for those Qassam rockets which as we pointed out earlier are really kind of homemade there in Gaza get through. So if they don't close out the border crossings they're saying they'll never have peace, Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. A great look at that. Thanks, John.

You know someone who still has a TV with rabbit ears. They could be in danger of missing their favorite shows when everyone, the entire country goes digital. Well, now the government says the program to help bring people into the DTV age is running out of cash. So what happened?


CHETRY (voice-over): Help wanted in men's wear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guys have to actually look their best in order to get the interview, let alone the job.

CHETRY: How men should dress in tough economic times to get the job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know it's all about seduction at some level, you're seducing someone into your bedroom or to hire you.

CHETRY: Recessionista wear for men.

LOLA OGUNNAIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): So like these are like spanks for men?

CHETRY: You're watching the most news in the morning.



CHETRY: Well, hair, manicures, nice clothes. Not just the concerns of women. In these tough economic times, men are being forced to up their game in order to either find or keep the job. So our resident recessionista Lola Ogunnaike has come out with easy tips to stand out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your clothing is a voice before your mouth open.

OGUNNAIKE: So in these tough economic times, it's so important for men to bring their game face, isn't?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a 100 percent important. I think for guys have to actually look their best in order to get the interview, let alone the job. You will never get a second chance to make a first impression and if you look like you're not taking care of yourself and you unkempt, and your fingernails are dirty, and your hair is uncut, You have a five o'clock shadow and your shirt is not ironed, you're not making a very good first impression. And I think recruiters are really taking a note of that.

Part of dressing up is about feeling attractive. You know, it's all about seduction at some level. You're seducing somebody either into your bedroom or to hire you.

ERIC JENNINGS, VP SAKS FIFTH AVENUE: I think it's finally catching on when you're wearing clothes that actually fit you, it's more handsome you look smarter.

OGUNNAIKE: So what are in these boxes?

JENNINGS: This is underwear, and it's got spandex in it. It's like a boxer cut. It will slim down your - your -- this region.

OGUNNAIKE: This region. Your booty, if you got a little boot booty, you put this on? I could wear these.

JENNINGS: There's a little bit of spandex to give you that slimming effect.

OGUNNAIKE: So, these are like spanks for men?

JENNINGS: One can say, yes.

OGUINNAKE: Cool. These are really cute, actually, I could wear these around the house.


HOWARD KREITZMAN, VP, BLOOMINGDALES: A lot of men are trying our more premium items. We, men, get bags under our eyes, too. I think there are many, many people that realize that these are the times that they need to look their best and these things certainly can help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's all types of men. It's not just heterosexual or homosexuals or metrosexuals or uber-sexuals. It really crosses all barriers.


CHETRY: I love it. So spanks for men. You call them jokingly, my bike shorts. But yes, even the guys have to get in the game now, right? The funny thing, Lola is that a lot of guys don't want to admit when their size has changed and one of the people that you interviewed from Sachs, the clothes have to fit first of all.

OGUNNAIKE: That's the key. If your clothes fit, your clothes will always look more expensive. Some other tips that Robert Garrity gave me, the stylist in the piece is that make sure that your belt matches your shoes, brown belt, brown shoes, black belt, black shoes. Make sure your collars fits. If you're shirt is too big, you're going to look like a big old bottle head. So make sure that fits.

Make sure your tie fits. Avoid boxy suits at all costs. You don't want to look like you're wearing your dad's shirt. Make sure it fits. Have a nice tailor on speed dial. Make sure your nails are clipped and clean. Dirty nails, no, no, no. And your fragrance, make sure it's light. You don't want your fragrance walking in the room before you do.

CHETRY: You don't want Old Spice showing up before you do for your job interview.

OGUNNAIKE: No, no. Exactly.

CHETRY: All right. Tougher for guys than we think.

OGUNNAIKE: It is. We're competing. This is competition, you got to bring your game face.

CHETRY: All right. Lola, thanks so much.

OGUNNAIKE: Thank you.