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American Morning

Senate to Debate on the Economic Stimulus Package; Tom Daschle Embarrassed on Income Tax Return; Senator McCain's Take on the Stimulus Package; A Look at the Super Bowl Commercials; Awaiting Predictions of Groundhog Phil

Aired February 02, 2009 - 07:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to be getting a live report on that coming up in just a couple of minutes.

And the Pittsburgh Steelers, it was certainly their night last night, stealing a fourth quarter lead back from the Arizona Cardinals winning Super Bowl XLIII, 27-23.

A record six NFL titles for the Steelers, just 35 seconds left on the clock and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger found wide receiver Santonio Holmes in the end zone. He managed to keep both feet planted inbounds as the rest of him flew out of bounds. And that was it. They won. That was the winning touchdown.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: So Big Ben and Santonio Holmes off to Disney World today.

CHETRY: Yes, as with tradition. Do we have a picture?

ROBERTS: I think Bruce Springsteen, too because at the end of his performance, he said "I'm going to Disney World.

CHETRY: All right, there it is. This is -- yes, there it is, there it is. Holmes keeping both feet in. The rest of him out of bounds. And that was it.

ROBERTS: Just kind of dropped the pass right in there, didn't he? Just over the fingertips of the opposing player right in there, what a great catch.

The James Harrison run though just before the half was unbelievable. What an amazing play that was, the longest run in the history of Super Bowls.

Look at this. Watch this.

CHETRY: Well, there you go.

ROBERTS: Picks up the interception, he just goes for a little stroll.

CHETRY: No one can stop him. He gets knocked a few times but he keeps running, keeps running.


CHETRY: And then in the end, it was really -- he really ran away with it. There you go.

ROBERTS: It took him a long time to catch his breath. He just laid there. Just like that.

CHETRY: I would, too.

ROBERTS: Wow. It's (INAUDIBLE) evening. What a run, though. There was one it was like the masters, you know. It doesn't come until the back nine on Sunday afternoon. It's like it didn't count until the fourth quarter.

CHETRY: Yes, exactly. Then the Steelers coach said that, this is us. You know, we're a 60-minute football team. We need all 60 minutes to play.

ROBERTS: It was great right down to the wire.

CHETRY: It was.

ROBERTS: Good one for the fans.

CHETRY: Well, it's day 14 of the Obama administration and go figure, no sign of bipartisanship over the president's stimulus plan. It was passed without a single Republican vote. President Obama and his vice president are meeting with congressional leaders at the White House today and senators from both parties also hit the Sunday talk show circuit wasting no time trading shots.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: This bill has become a Christmas tree where members are hanging their favorite program on it.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MINORITY LEADER: I mean things like $150 million for a honeybee insurance and $600 million to buy government employees' cars is not exactly what the American public had in mind.

SEN. BEN NELSON (D), NEBRASKA: There's no pork in this. Let me say that right away, but there may be some sacred cows.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: They can't hold this up. The fragility of the economy is too great. We're going to get some Republicans. The question is how many, and it will pass.


CHETRY: Our Suzanne Malveaux live at the White House for us. And Suzanne, so what's the game plan going forward today? How much might we see this bill change?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Kiran, it really is lessons learned after the last go-round. You know, the House Democrats largely crafted that legislation without input from the president initially and then Republicans just cried foul with this when took a look at all these type of programs that don't necessarily create jobs right away. So we saw the president get involved, asking Democrats to take out this $200 million program for family planning. There was a dig debate over resodding of the National Mall, whether or not that needed to be included.

So what we're expecting is the president is actually going to sit down with the Democrats and say look, which once actually create jobs right away and what can we put perhaps in another bill that satisfies some of these other provisions and planning programs? Take a listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The important thing is getting the thing passed. And I've done extraordinary outreach, I think, to Republicans because they have some good ideas, and I want to make sure that those ideas are incorporated. I am confident that by the time we actually have the final package on the floor, that we are going to see substantial support and people are going to say this is a serious effort, it has no earmarks. We're going to be trimming out things that are not relevant to putting people back to work.


MALVEAUX: Kiran, some of the things they're talking about, lowering the mortgage rate. Also, perhaps doubling the credit for homeowners, first-time buyers. Those are the kinds of things that they might actually include and he is going to be meeting with Republican Governor Jim Douglas of Vermont. He is actually a Republican who supports this economic stimulus program. He's certainly hoping that Douglas will lobby on behalf of the administration to fellow Republicans to say, hey, look, we need you to get on board.

CHETRY: All right. And Suzanne, a little fun, of course. It doesn't matter what side of the aisle you're on. You were watching the Super Bowl yesterday, no doubt. Some were watching it right at the White House. So the Pittsburgh Steelers got a little bit of a congratulations phone call, right, from President Obama.

MALVEAUX: Yes, they did. As a matter of fact, it was right after the game. And as you know, the Steelers, that was the president's team. So he picked up the phone, he called the owner, Dan Rooney. He also congratulated coach Mike Tomlin and of course, the quarterback, Big Ben. He said that he did a fantastic job.

And Kiran, all of them have been invited to the White House. So we expect to see them sometime later.

CHETRY: Oh, that's going to be a thrill. Tomlin and Rooney, big campaigners for Barack Obama as well in the closing days there so I'm sure they're just as happy for his win as well, as they are for themselves.

Did you get any scoop on what everyone was eating, by the way, at the bipartisan Super Bowl party?

MALVEAUX: We're still working on whether or not there's a food fight that actually happened. But you know, it was interesting because if you think about it, one of the Republicans, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, obviously, he's a Republican, was rooting for the same side as Obama for the Pittsburgh Steelers. So at the very least, you know, they had that, that they were rooting for together. We'll see if he actually twisted some arms and changed some minds when it came to that economic stimulus package but for one night it seemed like they were on the same side.

CHETRY: Pretty good, pretty cool. All right, Suzanne, thanks.

ROBERTS: Lots of celebration at 1600 Pennsylvania over the Super Bowl.

Meantime, though, Tom Daschle says he is deeply embarrassed over mistakes on his income tax return. President Obama's nominee to head Health and Human Services failed to report more than $80,000 in income and had to pay more than $120,000 in back taxes. Daschle has since paid the debt calling his omissions "unintentional."

Jim Acosta live in Washington for us this morning. Jim, could this possibly derail his nomination? Republicans seem to be holding fire at least for the moment?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It doesn't look like it, John, but Tom Daschle is not going to Disney World either. He has sent a letter to the Senate Finance Committee apologizing for this tax issue saying he's deeply embarrassed and disappointed on what happened. President Obama promised to usher in a new era of responsibility in government. Now, two of his cabinet nominees have admitted they failed on their responsibility to pay their taxes.


TOM DASCHLE, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECY. NOMINEE: Does anybody chosen not to see a doctor because you just didn't want to pay the bill?

ACOSTA (voice-over): During the presidential transition, the man tapped to fix the nation's health care system, Tom Daschle, was busy meeting with community groups to hear their medical issues. But Daschle also spent some of that time quietly paying $140,000 in taxes and interest he owed to the IRS, something he did only after he was nominated as secretary of health and human services. Republicans say Daschle, a former Senate majority leader who has made millions in the health care industry and whose wife is a Washington lobbyist, should have known better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can see now why liberals don't mind if the tax rate goes up because they're not going to pay it anyway.

ACOSTA: Daschle's mistake, he failed to report income in the form of a free car service provided by media executive, Leo Hindery. He also didn't pay taxes on consulting fees due to a reporting mistake made by Hindery's company.

TIMOTHY GEITHNER, TREASURY SECRETARY: These were careless mistakes. They were avoidable mistakes, but they were unintentional. ACOSTA: Just one day after President Obama was sworn in, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was on Capitol Hill admitting he had failed to pay tens of thousands of dollars in taxes. Geithner was confirmed.

SEN. JON KYL (R), MINORITY WHIP: I just wonder if President Bush had nominated these people what folks will be saying about that.

ACOSTA: During the campaign Mr. Obama promised to reform Washington's ways.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Reform isn't just the rhetoric of a campaign, it's been one of the causes of my career.

ACOSTA: On his first full day, the president signed an executive order placing new ethics guidelines on his staff. Even Democrats say Daschle's tax troubles fight that reform message.

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It was obvious it was not intentional, but it's also embarrassing and not helpful.

ACOSTA: Not helpful but perhaps not fatal.

TERRY JEFFREY, EDITOR, "HUMAN EVENTS": Former Senate majority leaders get confirmed by the Senate even when they forget to pay $128,000 in taxes.


ACOSTA: And that's what they're saying here in Washington. Daschle, who's still waiting to be confirmed, is scheduled to meet with the Senate Finance Committee later today behind closed doors. Despite a tax issue that might have killed other nominations, leading Senate Democrats say Daschle is very much alive, John.

ROBERTS: All right. We'll be watching that closely. Jim Acosta for us this morning in Washington. Jim, thanks very much.

ACOSTA: You bet.

CHETRY: All right. Well, just weeks after taking billions of bailout bucks, Citibank honchos still living high on the hog, spending thousands, using the corporate jet but maybe some changes coming. The story you don't want to miss.

ROBERTS: Plus, President Obama looks to Republicans in the Senate to support his stimulus plan. Can the two parties meet in the middle? We'll ask John McCain live.

It's nine minutes now after the hour.


ROBERTS: Eleven minutes after the hour. How's this for the outrage story of the day?

Just weeks after taking $45 billion of your tax dollars to stay afloat, Citigroup jetted its former CEO to a luxurious Mexican resort. The "New York Post" reports that Sandy Weill and his family flew in a company plane to a new year's retreat.

The Post says the pricey resort is also a favorite of Jennifer Aniston and Eli Manning. The cost of the plane trip estimated between $60,000 and $80,000 plus another $2,000 just to keep it there while they enjoyed the sun and the surf.

Christine Romans here "Minding Your Business" this morning, talking about the stimulus package and where is the help for homeowners?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, the Senate version of the stimulus might have some more help for homeowners. Good morning, everybody.

Among those things that senators are talking about, some possible amendments you might see when the discussion gets under way. A four percent 30-year fixed rate mortgage for people who have good credit, for people who did not get caught up and made a bunch of mistakes during the housing bubble. A four percent 30-year fixed rate mortgage for people who are buying a home or refinancing. That would be backed by the government. It would be expensive, an expensive provision but that could be some help for people.

Also, a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures to allow people who did get in trouble during the housing bubble to spend a little more time trying to figure out what their options are and whether or not they can try to work a deal with their lender.

And the $7,500 homebuyer credit, we told you about this last week. There is a move to make that available not just for some homes but for all primary residences. And there are some Republican proposals to maybe up that to $15,000. So a big complaint along the way is there hasn't been enough help for homeowners. We've heard it from all different corners.

It looks like there's some discussion in the Senate version of this bill that might have a little more help for homeowners. But I just wanted to point out to you, guys, January was a really tough month. The Dow and the S&P both down nine percent, the worst month ever. It's not so much what's going on in the wrangling with the stimulus that's the problem for investors here. The confidence problem on Wall Street again right now, the banking system is in trouble. And they're waiting, waiting, waiting to find out what is this administration going to do to fix the banking system again.

Next week, we could see some big comprehensive plan that will be different than the stimulus. We're talking about another big move that might be necessary.

ROBERTS: Even the president saying, a few more months of bad times ahead before things start to come around.

ROMANS: Yes, that's absolutely right.

ROBERTS: Thanks, Christine. CHETRY: One quick question, I'm sorry. The four percent interest rate for 30 years, would that be across the board. Anybody could get that if they refinance?

ROMANS: You have to have a good --

CHETRY: But I mean people who are not in trouble?

ROMANS: Yes, it's for people who are not in trouble because those are the people who are the ones who can get out there and start spending some money in the economy and get things working again.

CHETRY: Fascinating. All right. Christine, thanks so much.

President Obama will be meeting with Senate Democrats in just a few hours trying to figure out how to get Republicans to sign onto a stimulus bill. So what does the GOP want out of the bill? We're going to be asking Senator John McCain live.

Also, the Super Bowl commercials are sometimes more popular than the game, so how did this year's expensive sideshow stack up? Carol Costello was up late. She was taking notes. She is going to show us some of the best and the worst.

Fourteen minutes after the hour.



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've got to get this economic recovery plan passed. We've got to start putting people back to work. We're going to have to straighten out the credit markets and make sure that credit is flowing to businesses and individuals so that they can start investing and hiring people again.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." President Obama taking his stimulus, his economic stimulus plan to the airwaves before yesterday's Super Bowl. The president and the vice president meeting with congressional leadership in just a few hours in fact. So, what can the president do to get more Senate Republicans to support his plan?

Joining me now with his take is Senator John McCain. Senator, great to have you on the program this morning. Thanks for being with us.


CHETRY: There is some reporting that two senators at least, Ben Nelson and Susan Collins out of Nebraska and Maine, are sort of going over this bill with a fine tooth comb figuring out ways to scrub it. As it stands now, would you be voting yes for this?

MCCAIN: No. And a group of us Republican senators are working together to come up with an alternative package that has to do with payroll tax cuts, incentives for people to stay in their homes, an end to this when economy recovers to start reducing spending, elimination of the pork barrel projects. Perhaps money for the military as they expand and need to reset.

So there's -- but the bottom line is that the president and the administration and the Democrats have to sit down and seriously negotiate. We appreciate the discussions that have taken place. The president coming over and talking to us. Now is the time to sit down and really seriously negotiate, which we haven't up to now.

CHETRY: There seems to be, you know, one of the fundamental disagreements between Republicans and Democrats as we move forward on this bill and as we saw in the House where not a single Republican voted for it. Is there enough going into cutting taxes? Is there enough going into infrastructure spending? And it seems that the Republicans feel that that's not the case? What do you need to see either taken out or added to this bill that would allow to you support it?

MCCAIN: Well, as I said, there's a number of things. We'd like to see payroll tax cuts. We'd like to see more incentives such as $15,000 tax credit for homeownership. We'd like to see elimination of these policy changes which have nothing to do with jobs. We want the stimulus package to focus on jobs.

I think we are clearly prepared to sit down, discuss, negotiate, a true stimulus package that will create jobs. We all know how tough the economy is. But now it's time after the way it went through the House without any Republican support. It's been rammed through the Senate so far.

We need to seriously negotiate. We haven't done that yet. We can do it, though.

CHETRY: It's interesting. You know, there's been a lot of talk about what is pork and what's not? And when you look through, you know, some of the finer points of the bill it's hard to decide. I mean, there's this $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts. There are some like Mike Pence who say are you kidding me? How is this stimulus?

And then there are others that say hey, this is going to create jobs. So how do you separate what is pork and what isn't when everybody seems to have a different viewpoint?

MCCAIN: Well, one is, does it affect, take effect in the next year or so, because that's the critical time here, as quickly as possible? Another is that all of us appreciate the National Endowment for the Arts but that's not a job creator. It creates jobs of infrastructure projects that shovels are ready to be turned.

Many of the policy changes that they put in have nothing to do with stimulating the economy and everything to do with their agenda which they're unable to get through. We need to have, in our view, more tax cuts and less spending but we can negotiate. That's what I'm saying, and it hasn't happened so far, but Republicans have got to be involved in the active negotiations.

CHETRY: I want to ask you, setting aside the stimulus package for a minute, this looming problem that is still out there with the banking industry and whether or not they're going to have to inject billions more to keep it afloat. Paul Krugman out of "The New York Times," the Nobel Prize winning economist, wrote, This is a classic exercise in lemon socialism: taxpayers bearing the cost if things go wrong, but stockholders and executives getting the benefits if things go right.

So, as we're looking once again at billions more going to the banks, how can we afford this?

MCCAIN: Well, it's going to be very difficult. That's why in a stimulus package, we have to -- as soon as we have two quarters of GDP growth, we've got to impose mandatory spending cuts to get this massive deficit under control.

Look, this crisis started with housing. It's going to end when we stabilize housing -- home prices. And I am convinced that a lot of the money that's gone into the banking institutions have not done any good because we haven't stabilized home prices. We ought to go out, give people mortgages they can afford to be able to stay in their homes. That's got to be a priority that I still don't think we have here.

CHETRY: All right. A lot of people saying that, Senator McCain. Thanks so much for being with us this morning. Sorry about the Cardinals. It was a great game though, right? They came this close.

MCCAIN: Thank you. For a change, the old guy almost won, but we're proud of the team.

CHETRY: Senator John McCain, great to have you on the show as always, thanks.

MCCAIN: Thank you.

ROBERTS: We're watching live pictures from Pennsylvania this morning and Punxsutawney Phil. The big question today, will he see his shadow. We'll take you there after the break. They're going to pull him out of his lair in about seven minutes time.

Also, millions of Iraqis went to the polls last week in crucial national elections. Ahead, we'll talk to our Michael Ware about what it means for the fledgling democracy.

It's 23 minutes now after the hour.


CHETRY: All right. There is a look this morning in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. It's Groundhog Day. We do this every year. All eyes are on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

And according to legend, if groundhog Phil sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If he doesn't, spring will come early. We haven't seen that since 1999, meaning he hasn't seen his shadow since then. We're expecting to see him in just a couple of minutes and we'll bring it to you live when we do.

ROBERTS: Not all of the memorable Super Bowl moments happened during the game itself. Singer Jennifer Hudson returned to the spotlight to sing the national anthem. It was her first performance since the October killings of her mother, brother and nephew.

Meantime, at halftime, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform bringing down the house with renditions of "Born to Run" and "Glory Days," one of the best performances I've ever seen.

"The Boss" rocked it last night and it was great game, but did the Super Bowl ads live up to all the hype? Our Carol Costello was up late watching and logging all the commercials. She joins us now from our Washington bureau this morning. What do you think?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, John, it was one of the few years when the halftime show and the game, they were actually more interesting than the commercials. But there were a few good ones, and we all have picks but we look to "USA Today" for the closest thing to official results.

The paper has tracked the top commercials for 21 years now. Now, of course, you may disagree, but by "USA Today's" standards, this year's top ad was -- I wish I had a drum roll. It was Doritos, the ad for Doritos.

It was an ad created not by Madison Avenue but by two unemployed brothers from Indiana who described themselves as two nobodies from nowhere and who came out on top in an online competition. Here it is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's my crystal ball.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks like a snow globe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it's real. Here, watch. Free Doritos at the office today? I thinks that a yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will I finally get that big promotion?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Promotion? Not in your future.


COSTELLO: There you have it. The brothers won $1 million for that ad which cost Frito-Lay $3 million to run. "USA Today" ranked 51 big budget spots by having people want to do those dial tests. That's how they came up with these results.

The unemployed brothers knocked out Anheuser-Busch which had won for ten years in a row, but the beer giant did come in second with this ad, which I have to say was my personal favorite.


MUSIC: Ain't no mountain high enough. Ain't no valley low enough. Ain't no river wide enough to keep me from getting to you, babe. Ain't no mountain high enough

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't know Daisy was dating.


COSTELLO: I love that ad. Bud by the way, also nabbed the fourth spot with another Clydesdale centered ad, the cute one about the horse fetching the stick. I love that one, too. The fourth spot went to Bridgestone which took us for a drive with Mr. And Mrs. Potato head.

ROBERTS: Carol, sorry, we got to interrupt you. We got to go to Punxsutawney here for a second to see if Phil sees his shadow. Sorry.

So there they are. They're taking a look to see whether or not this groundhog sees his shadow. 1886 since they started doing this, and believe me it's not the same groundhog.

He has seen his shadow somewhat (ph) 96 times, I think, and not seen it 14 times. The last time he didn't see it was 1999. So we're waiting to see if he gets to go back to sleep for six more weeks of winter or if it's going to be an early spring.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye, on Gobbler's Knob on this glorious Groundhog Day, February 2nd, 2009, Punxsutawney Phil, seer of seers, prognosticator of all prognosticators, awoke to the call of President Bill Cooper. He greeted his handlers, Ben Hughes and John Griffiths. After casting a joyful eye towards thousands of his faithful followers, Phil proclaimed that his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers were world champions one more time.

And as he looked, a bright sky above me showed my shadow beside me. So six more weeks of winter it will be. Oh, woe is us. Woe is us.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: There you have it. Six more weeks of winter. Punxsutawney Phil makes the proclamation. It doesn't look like there's any sun there to cast a shadow but I guess maybe that's all the glare the television might suggest enough light coming out of the sky there behind the clouds.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Maybe he had some help from the National Weather service who knows but I love having him say he proclaimed the Pittsburgh Steelers the winner. Too bad he didn't know the score yesterday for all the betters out there. All right. Mr. Punxsutawney Phil, you're very cute. Congratulations and thanks for six more weeks of winter.

31 minutes past the hour now. A look at the top stories this morning.

President Obama and Vice President Biden both sitting down with congressional leaders in just a few hours trying to find a way to get republican senators to support his stimulus bill. We just heard from Senator John McCain who said there's a lot of work to be done, a lot of things to be hammered out. The legislation passed in the House last week but without a single Republican voting for it.

And record breaking Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps is apologizing this mornining for "regrettable behavior and bad judgment." That is after a british tabloid printed that photo of the swimmer smoking out of a bong. Phelps promised his fans and the public it won't happen again. The Olympic champ has millions in endorsement deals at stake.

And George Obama, the half brother of President Obama was released this weekend after spending hours in jail. All of the charges were dropped. He was arrested during a drug raid according to police in Kenya. Authorities say George Obama was found with people possessing cannibis and that it was a "petty offense."

Well, Iraqi authorities say half of the country's voters turned out for last week's election. Seven and a half million people. It's a stark contrast to the 2005 elections when violence and intimidation meant only two percent voted. Preliminary results are expected later this week.

For more, we turn to CNN and Baghdad correspondent Michael Ware. We're talking about these elections taking place and also what we've seen as a pretty big reduction in violence.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, absolutely now, but there's a lot of reasons for this. And first and foremost what we have to consider is that yes, you have this electoral process that is under way. And remember, this is for the provinces, this is state by state. This is voting for the Arnold Schwarzeneggers of Iraq.

What's happening is all the key political parties in Iraq are playing the political game, but don't forget every one of these parties because you're not in politics without this. Has their own paramilitary force or army behind them. So these parties are waiting to see what they're going to get out of the process. And if one of the big parties doesn't get what it thinks it's due, that's when we can see a return to violence.

So for the rest of the year when we have an election, at the end of the year, for the president, and the prime minister and the national government. We're going to see a lot of politicking going on and I think we'll see less violence but that's a bubble of nonviolence that President Obama is going to have to maximize. Particularly while he's waging war in Afghanistan.

CHETRY: So what are the biggest challenges moving ahead then for Iraq?

WARE: For Iraq, it's going to be getting these political factions to accept the voice of the people. For what it is now. 51 percent of the vote turned out, that's less than many had hoped for. But hey, that's still 51 percent. There also seems to be from exit polls for what they are in Iraq. I mean, we're talking about Iraq here. It seems to indicate that people are moving away from sectarianism, they're not voting so much for religious parties. We're seeing the Prime Minister trying to shore up his position. Some people accused him of trying to be a mini Saddam. Right now, it's in America's interest to back that mini Saddam.

CHETRY: All right. Michael Ware for us. You've seen it all first hand and you'll be watching of course with interest. Thanks so much for joining us.

WARE: Thanks, Kiran.

ROBERTS: Thousands of Kentucky residents still without power and thousands of National Guard troops trying to help. We'll have the very latest for you. It's 34 and a half minutes now after the hour.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the most news in the morning. It's coming up on 38 minutes after the hour. And check out this snow. You know where it is? It's in the British capital. The heaviest in 18 years, all across England today, traffic and commuters stopped in their snow covered tracks. More than 650 flights canceled today at London's Heathrow Airport. The city's bus network not operating. The sub way system there also experiencing major delays. Get this, they're expecting more snow on top of this.

Back on this side of the pond, Kentucky's National Guard troops are trying to dig residents out and get power back on after last week's ice storms there. Terrible, terrible ice storms. Kentucky's governor warns that it would "a long haul before life is back to normal." The storms are being blamed for more than 40 deaths across nine states.

To see what's on tap for today, Rob Marciano down there at the weather center in Atlanta. He is tracking all the extreme weather. It looks like you got something going on in the south there today, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN, METEOROLOGIST: Yes, south and also the mid south, John, and through the Tennessee Valley areas that are without power. They are getting a little bit more snow today. So that's not exactly good news. Starting to stretch into the northeast, the i-95 corridor later on this afternoon will get a little bit of snow and a couple of inches possible in some of the bigger cities tonight and tomorrow.

All right. Temps at or slightly below freezing across parts of Nashville, Louisville, and then colder temperatures even north of Chicago, will be rolling south as we go through tonight and tomorrow, and that substantial cooldown for just about everybody again heading into Tuesday and Wednesday. Down across the deep south, looking at a more heavy rain across parts of southern Louisiana.

We do have a couple of delays to tell you about, Baltimore and Dayton are reporting delays at this hour. Mostly departing delays, they are on the increase right now, about 30 minutes. Areas like Atlanta down through Tampa and parts of Florida will see some heavy rainfall today and that kind of instigate some delays there. Snowfall forecast for the northeast, again, mostly light snow. You could see three to four to five inches across parts of eastern Massachusetts as this thing winds itself up later on tonight and tomorrow.

42 for the high in New York. 27 degrees in Chicago and 13 up in Minneapolis. I don't know how Punxsutawney saw his shadow, John, but I think you're right about maybe seeing some TV lights. It looks like the fix was on up a little bit.

ROBERTS: You know, maybe they read the Farmer's Almanac and just tried to conform with that. I'm with you on the more heavier, heavier than heavier is great.

MARCIANO: All right.

ROBERTS: Rob, thanks.


CHETRY: Well moving to a new city, a new job. Kids in a new school and a mother-in-law under the roof, the president also talking yesterday about how the first family is adjusting to life in the White House.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES: It's the best deal of this whole thing is it turns out that I've got this nice home office. And at the end of the day, I can come home, even if I've got more work to do, I can have dinner with them. I can help them with their home work. I can tuck them in.

If I've got to go back to the office I can. But I'm seeing them more than any time in the last two years and that's been great for the whole family.

REPORTER: Let me ask the question that's on everyone's mind right now, how is it going living with your mother-in-law?

OBAMA: Fortunately, I love my mother-in-law.

Reporter: I'm just asking. I'm not trying to start trouble.

OBAMA: She is actually - she defends me whenever I screw up. So Michelle, you know, she's about to come down hard, my mother-in-law comes in, intercedes. So -

Reporter: so everything is copasetic.

OBAMA: The longer she stays, the better off I'm going to to be.


CHETRY: See that?

ROBERTS: It's a big house.

CHETRY: That's the right thing to say.

ROBERTS: A lot of room there.

CHETRY: He also said that the hardest part is just adjusting to life inside the bubble which is, you know, you're not free to do what you want to do when you have Secret Service protection.

ROBERTS: We were talking to John Podesta about that last week, and you know, this inexorable sort of getting sucked inside the bubble process, very, very difficult to resist, but he's trying to do it as best he can.

CHETRY: Especially with two young kids, it's got to be even harder.

ROBERTS: Yes. Well, it's getting out of the battle is always good to see. North Korea says it's on the brink of war with South Korea, after a slew of stern warnings and broken agreement, is the secretive state ready to strike? We have a live report just ahead.

A California woman just gave birth to octuplets and she has six other kids at home. The case now raising ethical questions about fertility treatments. Just because you can, should you? It's 41 minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the most news in the morning.

There has been lots of saber rattling coming from North Korea, the secretive state says it is, "at the brink of war with its neighbor to the south." Is that the case or is Pyongyang just trying to get noticeed?

Our John Vause joins us live from Beijing this morning. And John, we have seen this many, many times with North Korea every time it's feeling a little bit neglected, it says something inflammatory. Is this another case of that?

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, probably just a lot of talk coming from Pyongyang, John. But when it comes to North Korea and especially leader Kim Jong-Il, we know he's unpredictable and he's dangerous and you never know what he's capable of doing.


VAUSE (voice-over): For months, North Korean officials have been talking up a possible conflict with South Korea. And now comes a warning, their country's relations with the south have "reached the brink of war" because they say the South Korean President Lee Myung- Bak and his government is the worst group of spiritless traitors and adding, "the U.S. imperialist aggressive forces in South Korea are root cause of all disasters."

And Kim Jong-il is talking tough. He reappeared on the world stage last month after apparently suffering a stroke in August. And over the weekend, he warned - "the Korean People's Army has grown to be the invincible revolutionary ranks."

North Korea has announced all military and political deals made with the south meant to ease tension and build trust are now dead. South Korea's military is on high alert even though defense officials in Seoul tells CNN there appears to be no unusual military movements in the north. And at the same time, South Korea's president is talking down the dispute saying it's not unusual.

PRES. LEE MYUNG-BAK, SOUTH KOREA (through translator): I'm waiting for North Korea to understand that South Korea has affection towards the north and I think that two Koreas can both hold negotiations before two long, he says. All of this might just be Kim Jong-Il's way of getting noticed by the new administration in Washington, a none too subtle reminder that he's still around.

RICHARD BUSH, BROCKINGS INSTITUTION, ASIA ANALYST: He will engage in brinksmanship, if he doesn't feel he's getting attention.


VAUSE: Now, analysts say we've seen all these tactics before coming from Kim Jong-Il. They say over the years, in fact, he's learned just how hard to push things to get what he wants before there's any major retaliation, John.

ROBERTS: All right. John Vause for us live in Beijing this morning. John, thanks so much for that.

CHETRY: Here's what we're working on for you this morning. How does a woman with six children get a fertility doctor to help her have eight more at once. We're taking a look at the ethical debate that's erupted after a California woman gave birth to octuplets.

And could you live on $6.25 a day? 31 million Americans have to. Our Sean Callebs is getting a lesson on how people living with food stamps make ends meet. It's 47 minutes after the hour.



CHETRY: Don't we all feel like that sometimes at 6:00 in the morning, 3:00 in the morning, whenever that alarm goes off. You know, it's really groundhog day today though. A furry prognosticators all across the country are out.

In fact, just a few minutes ago in Pennsylvania, it was Punxsutawney Phil who saw his shadow at Gobbler's Knob, according to the legend. It means there's going to be six more weeks of winter.

Also at the Staten Island Zoo, another groundhog that's trying to get Phil but forget about it. This is Staten Island Chuck. He also did not see his shadow. Wait. He did not see his shadow today which means that an early spring? I thought that meant six more weeks of winter? Anyway, it's a little difficult to get the groundhog to come out. Mayor Bloomberg actually had to use some political persuasion and a food bribe. There you go. Maybe he just didn't want to get up at all.

ROBERTS: Well, here in AMERICAN MORNING, we got our own prognosticator, his name is Phil also. We call him in Paramus Phil as in Paramus, New Jersey. Maybe Phil can be the deciding vote in this morning's split decision between Staten Island Chuck and Punxsutawney Phil.

Here comes Phil. He is out looking around. And Whoa! Phil saw the shadow. Let me tell you, that's a shadow that could bring a nuclear winter to all of Rhode Island. Big enough!

CHETRY: Hey you know what, Phil, six more weeks of winter? Yes, thumb's up? All right.

ROBERTS: So we got a 2-1 decision now. Staten Island Chuck, you're out of the running.

CHETRY: Staten Island Chuck doesn't want to go out and play.

ROBERTS: This goes to show that the television lights were brighter at gobbler's knob than in Staten Island.

CHETRY: Exactly.

ROBERTS: 52 minutes now after the hour. We'll be right back.


ROBERTS (voice-over): Her mother says she is obsessed with having children. Fourteen kids after giving birth to eight babies. The intense ethical debate, and just because you can, does that mean you should?

And living on food stamps.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have 176 dollars to live on the entire month. That's all 28 days!

ROBERTS: Find out what it's like.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can't get name brand items. You have to get store brands.

ROBERTS: And how you can make end's meet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You think you're getting a good deal, two for this, two for not, in reality you're really not.

ROBERTS: On the most news in the morning.



ROBERTS: 54 minutes after the hour. Welcome back to the most news in the morning.

It was shocking news to begin with. Eight babies born to a mom in California, octuplets. Then we learn she already has six children at home. Now it's fielding questions about the ethics behind fertility treatments. For one, how does a mother of six find a doctor to help her have eight more for a total of 14?

Kathy Kinlaw associate director of the Emory University Center for ethics, she joins us now from Atlanta. Kathy, it's great to see you this morning. So here we have a woman who as we said already had six kids. She had aid embryos leftover from fertility treatments which gave her those six kids. She asked the IVF clinic to implant them all. They did. Is that unusual for an IVF clinical to implant that many embryos?

KATHY KINLAW, DIR. HEALTH SCIENCES AND ETHICS PROGRAM: Absolutely. This is a time where we have learned a lot about in vitro fertilization over the years. And there are very clear limits on what is accepted practice. In the United States there is generally no more than four embryos would be transferred at a given time.

ROBERTS: Yes. I'm very good friends with the head of an IVF clinic here in New York City. I've done a lot of reporting with people like Mark Sauer, you know top of their field, in IVF. And then they say their goal typically is to have one healthy baby. What was going on here?

KINLAW: I wish that I knew more about the specifics. I think we're all anxious to hear more, but in this case, it's very clear that if this mother clearly wanted additional children, she was working with a fertility clinic toward that, that a smaller number of embryos being transferred would have been much safer both for the babies, as well as for her.

ROBERTS: At the same time though, doctors do insist that it is not their role to limit family size.

KINLAW: Well, think about it with our natural birth. We don't limit the size of families. And so I think people are very careful about making any regulations or boundaries on numbers of children with IVF. But this case does raise very real questions.

Also, what is the responsibility of the IVF clinic to counsel the patient about what they believe is the right thing to do from a health perspective, let's say? Because, you know, these babies, although they all - at this point, seem like they are going to make it, they, obviously, are going to be some health concerns here.

You know, they do put patients sometimes through psychological testing, at least counseling, and here he was a young woman who said that she was by her mother to be obsessed with having babies. Should she have gone, do you think through further counseling? KINLAW: Well, absolutely. Any fertility clinic would be putting through the woman and the couple, if there was a couple, through clear counseling so that they understand the risk for IVF, that they understand the risk for multiple births, risks to both the babies, as well as to the mother. And certainly, that would have happened, I think, in this case. Still baffles me that this many embryos would have been transferred under the circumstances.

ROBERTS: And what about the trickle down effects of this? You have eight babies and they're going to be in the hospital for a couple of months. Neonatal care and a few of them at least in intensive care. The cost of that care as you know from being at Emory is going to run into the millions of dollars. Do we not all in some way end up paying for this?

KINLAW: Well, this will be a very expensive set of babies. All premature babies will spend a good bit of time in the intensive care unit. And so many, many thousands of dollars will be acued by being in the clinics there. But also, of course, through the life of these children, the amount of money that will need to be spent on simply medical care and these babies who are doing remarkably well, are still, of course, at risk of long-term problems.

ROBERTS: Right. Raises a number of very pressing questions. Kathy Kinlaw from Emory University. Thanks for being with us this morning. Appreciate it.

KINLAW: Thank you.