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tv   Lou Dobbs Tonight  CNN  August 20, 2009 7:00pm-7:52pm EDT

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jeanne moos, cnn, new york. >> what can i say. we want you to check out our political podcast. to get the best political team to go, subscribe at cnn.com/situationroom. up next, "lou dobbs tonight." president obama today appealing to his most loyal supporters, the liberal progressive leaders that helped him win the white house now asking them to help them win the fight over obama care. president obama also looking for some divine intervention telling religious leaders we're god's partners. he also fired back at his critics for spreading what he called lies bearing false witness as he put it but is the president himself misrepresenting the facts on health care? we'll have a special report for you tonight. and jobless claims rising slightly today but unexpectedly. times, however, not that hard if you are a foreign worker in this country. we'll be reporting on all of that in our new series of
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special reports about more than 30 million americans looking for work. "jobs now." >> announcer: this is "lou dobbs tonight" news, debate and analysis for thursday, august 20th. live from new york, mr. independence, lou dobbs. >> good evening, everybody. president obama today insisted the fight over health care is not about politics or ideology but you he says it's about necessity. the president appealing to his most loyal supporters to help him sell that message in the weeks and perhaps the months ahead. the latest push comes just a day after president obama urged religious leaders to help him. the president saying "we're god's partners." the president also firing at his critics accusing them of spreading lies or as he put it bearing false witness. but exactly seven months into his term, president obama is now struggling to sell his top
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priority, a health care overhaul to an increasingly skeptical american public. ed henry reports now from the white house. >> reporter: with his health care push on the rocks, the president went back into campaign mode peeling off the jacket at democratic party headquarters to fire up his liberal base with talk of previous comebacks. >> last year just about this time, you'll recall that the republicans just nominated their vice presidential candidate and everybody was -- the media was obsessed with it. and cable was 24 hours a day. obama lost his mojo. you remember all that? there's something about august going into september where everybody in washington gets all wee weed up. >> reporter: earlier he took the talk to conservative talk radio pushing back on what he calls disinformation. >> we can focus on the areas of
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legitimate debate. >> reporter: and signaling he may be forced to pass a bill with only democratic votes. >> i would love to have more republicans engaged and involved in this process. i think early on a decision was made by republican leadership that said let's not give them a victory. maybe we can have a replay of 1993-'94 when clinton came in. >> reporter: a bigger challenge for the president is keeping peace in his own party as he was forced to reassure liberals he hasn't abandoned the option. >> the insurance reforms are the belt. the public option can be the suspenders. >> reporter: the president is walking a tight rope because he's also trying to show flexibility to conservative democrats who don't like the public option by suggesting he could drop it in the end but now
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some organized labor leaders are threatening to defeat those conservative democrats if they don't support health reform that they're pushing. i asked robert gibbs about that today. he said the white house wants to try to stay out of the back and forth. they may not be able to do that for long. there could be a civil war brewing within the party, lou. >> a civil war. and back and forth. isn't that the nature of politics itself? >> reporter: certainly. if you have people on the left threatening more conservative democrats just days after the president was trying to show flexibility in order to reach out to some of those conservative democrats and show that he's willing to listen to all sides in the debate, that might obviously make it a difficult for the white house moving forward just to keep their own democrats together let alone winning over republicans. >> keep them together or get them together. >> reporter: maybe get them. >> what is this expression. i never heard it before. none of our folks here have heard of it before. what is wee weed up as the
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president said. >> reporter: i had a sneaking suspicion you might ask me that. i hate not to have an answer for you. i suspect -- this is an educated guess -- >> wait a minute. do you know or do you not? >> reporter: i don't know. i think based on my reporting abilities i will suggest that he's suggesting that people are a little agitated if you will. a little over excited right now. >> your extrapolating that from the president's issue? >> reporter: that's right. i could not find it in the dictionary but i follow his words closely. >> given your experience and insight into washington, d.c. and the white house, we'll defer to your analysis and extrapolation. thank you very much, ed henry, from the white house. with the chance of a bipartisan plan on health care, the white house and top democrats are considering a number of possibilities to pass a bill by any means necessary and the words of senate majority leader
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harry reid among the possibilities the plans under consideration by senator reid according to "the wall street journal," split the legislation in two. that would be divide and conquer, a strategy that would allow democrats to go it alone according to some of their leaders on the most expensive parts of the bill and then perhaps work with republicans on parts where there is more agreement. congressional sources tell us this is just one of many possibilities now being considered by the democratic leadership and the white house. in a move that some fear to be outright retaliation for opposing the president's health care proposals, a congressional committee led by congressman henry waxman sent a letter to dozens of the country's private health insurance companies demand demanding financial information on their employees. the letters reportedly not sent to other industry groups some of
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which support the president's plan. a copy of the waxman letter obtained by "lou dobbs tonight" shows that congress wants to know the salary, the bonus, stock option, pension and other compensation arrangements of every employee making more than a million dollars a year between the years 2003 and 2008. that letter gives health insurers a september 4th deadline to comply. the companies are not legally obligated to do so without a congressional subpoena, however. no comment tonight from the insurance companies involved. one of the leaders in the fight for universal health care is senator ted kennedy of course who tonight is urging massachusetts to allow a speedy replacement process if he is forced to vacate his senate seat. senator kennedy is battling brain cancer. he wants to make sure democrats will have the necessary votes to pass legislation in the senate. dana bash with our report.
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>> reporter: rare recent pictures of ted kennedy returning from a sale at his legendary family compound on cape cod where he now spends all his time with kennedy suffering from brain cancer knows that time is not on his side. he's formally asking massachusetts officials to change state law so he's quickly replaced in the senate when he's gone. sending this poignant letter of request. as i look ahead i'm convinced that enabling the governor to fill a senate vacancy through an interim appointment followed by a special election would best serve the people of our commonwealth. what's behind this? massachusetts law allows five months to go by before a special election to fill an open senate seat. given kennedy's dire condition that could mean his seat would be vacant at a time democrats are voting on issues he's worked for 47 years. health care. kennedy made a brief dramatic return this spring to attend a
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white house summit on health care. >> now is the time for action. >> reporter: the ailing senator has been absent from the health care debate and though he's a proud liberal he's a skilled legislator respected by republicans who says his presence has been missed. >> it would work differently if he were here and an active part of it. >> reporter: massachusetts republicans oppose changing the law to all but ensure democrats have a critical health care vote releasing a statement saying the integrity of a representative republic is bigger than any person or legacy. the irony here is massachusetts law was just changed in 2004 to pro vent exactly what kennedy is asking. then some democrats feared gop governor mitt romney would choose a republican to temporarily fill democrat john kerry's seat if he won the presidency. a kennedy associate tells cnn that this letter which not only asks for a change in the way he's succeeded but essentially acknowledges he won't be around
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very long was tough for him to write. it was delivered to massachusetts leaders this week but written on july 2nd at a time he sat down to pen a lot of letters. kennedy sources say one reason he didn't deliver it then is because after consulting with colleagues and friends, senator kennedy concluded it would disrupt already intense health care discussions in the senate at the time. dana bash, cnn, washington. >> the obama administration holding a meeting at the white house on immigration reform. homeland security secretary janet napolitano leading the session which included religious, business and special interest groups but which excluded the media. president obama was not scheduled to attend the meeting but apparently he did make an appearance. a white house spokesman said the president understands our nation's immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed and that's why he asked secretary napolitano to meet with stake holders and members of congress to move the legislative process
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forward. today scotland released the only person convicted in the 1988 bombing of pan am flight over lockerbie scotland. the attack killed 270 people. ali mohmed al megrahi is home after the scottish government sent him free. crowds estimated at 1,000 cheered his arrival. a hero's welcome as he arrived. scottish government officials releasing the libyan on compassionate grounds. he has terminal prostate cancer. the victims' families expressing outrage over the terrorist release. it happened in 1988. 259 people aboard the plane, 11 on the ground were killed. up next, gay marriage and the obama presidency. the latest conflict within the administration is the subject of
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our face-off debate tonight. what lessons can we learn from the public health care systems of other nations? we've been examining for almost three weeks precisely that going around the world to find what we could learn. tonight, greece. where a long wait is unfortunately part of their health care system. and jobs now. our special report with millions of americans out of work, why do we continue to bring in foreign workers? our special report continues tonight. we'll be right back. with cialis for daily use... a clinically proven, low-dose tablet for erectile dysfunction you take every day so you can be ready anytime the moment is right. tell your doctor about your medical condition and all medications and ask if you're healthy enough for sexual activity. don't take cialis if you take nitrates for chest pain, as this may cause an unsafe drop in blood pressure. don't drink alcohol in excess with cialis.
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for a limited time, get an extra three weeks of meals free. that's right, you can get an extra 21 breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts, and snacks. that's 105 meals free. that's what guys like. "tell me, 'do this,' i do it, i lose weight." with prices as low as $12 a day, you'll save hundreds over other weight-loss programs. order now and get an extra three weeks of fantastic meals. that's right, 105 meals absolutely free. call or click now. we continue our special report. jobs and jobs now. we focus on what our leaders in washington are doing to actually create new jobs in this country and what they can do. the unemployment rate is nearly doubled in less than two years. and yet companies and the government are still seeking 1.1 million foreign workers each and
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every year. more than 30 million workers unemployed or underemployed in this country. what's going on? lisa sylvester with our story. >> reporter: sylvia is an information technology business analyst. she was let go in march joining the ranks of america's unemployed. now her savings have just about run out but she still can't find work even after taking classes to get her mba. >> it's been so slow this last year that no one is calling. no one is hiring at all. if they are, i'll go for an interview and they'll tell me they have 150 interviews at the same time. resumes that they're going through. >> another american has lost his job. >> the coalition for the future american worker has been running these ads. u.s. unemployment is at 9.4% near the highest levels in decades while u.s. companies are
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still bringing in foreign workers. according to data from the u.s. citizenship and immigration services, more than a million foreign workers and trainees were granted working status on temporary visas last year. immigration services have received petitions for 41,000 visas for skilled workers for the upcoming fiscal year. that's less than the cap of 65,000 visas but still represents tens of thousands of high paying skilled jobs. this group advocates stricter immigration controls and is a member of the coalition. >> we know the very jobs that one out of ten unemployed americans could use because you can support a family with that salary. >> reporter: as congress prepares to debate immigration reform next year, one question is whether the number of foreign worker visas should be scaled back given the state of the economy. microsoft founder bill gates recently told an indian technology association it would be a huge mistake to scale back
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the visa program saying "the u.s. congress is very tough on immigration but why not make an exception for smart people?" gates has long advocated raising the number of skilled foreign workers allowed in arguing it's crucial for u.s. competitiveness. here's something else to consider. earlier this year microsoft laid off 5,000 workers and in the first half of this year, 118,000 u.s. technology workers were laid off. the worst figure in seven years according to the outplacement firm. lou? >> lisa, thank you very much. lisa sylvester from washington. more people in the private sector lose their jobs, government jobs are actually increasing. a study released today says state and local governments have added 110,000 jobs since the recession began. total employment in state and local government rose in 30 states. fell in 16. unchanged in four others over
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the past year. i'll have a few thoughts about that, job creation in this country and what is going on with our economy and why washington is not paying attention. join me on the radio monday through fridays for the "lou dobbs show" 4:00 p.m. each afternoon in new york and around the country go to loudobbs.com to get the local listings for the lou dobbs show and subscribe to our podcast. today we talked about the president's sudden conversion to religious leaders to pursue a political goal. you can hear the entire interview and more by subscribing to our podcast at loudobbs.com and follow me on twitter.com. lou dobbs news on twitter.com each and every day. up next, mixed messages from the obama administration on the defense of marriage act. that's the subject of our face-off debate tonight. also, key promises of the president's health care plan. >> if you like your doctor, you
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can keep your doctor under the reform proposals that we put forth. if you like your private health insurance plan, you can keep it. but can you? we'll have a new report on whether or not the president could keep those seeming promises and health care in greece. plenty of doctors. too many patients. we'll tell you all about that next. others by the car of their dreams. during the lexus golden opportunity sales event, you can do both. special lease offers now available on the 2009 is 250. there's no way to hide it. sir, have you been drinking tonight? if you ride drunk, you will get caught... and you will get arrested.
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continuing our look at health care systems all around the world, we report tonight on the health care system in greece. greece ranks 19th in a european survey of health care quality. life expectancy there 79.5 years. almost two years longer than that in the united states. coverage is universal in greece but there are long waits to see a doctor. katie pilgrim has the report. >> reporter: greece set up their national health services in the 1980s to provide health care in far away islands. it's improved the level of health care. 60% publicly funded greece's health care system offers universal coverage for all through taxes and employer
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contributions. according to administrator at a hospital in greece, a lecturer at columbia university in new york. >> at a population level we see a tremendous drop in mortality rates. we see an increase in life expectancies. in that sense the system works. >> reporter: greece spends 9.6% of gdp compared to 16% in the united states. 2,727 compared to $7,290 in the u.s. life expectancy, 79.5 years versus 78 in the united states. because many health care resources are concentrated in major cities, there is an effort to develop better facilities on smaller islands. but rural villages are not neglected.
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>> they do have rural doctors as we call them who go to smallest of villages at least once a week to prescribe medications and examine patients. >> reporter: the biggest problem is long wait lines for certain procedures so people turn to private insurance for supplemental coverage. >> there are stories of people trying to call in for an appointment and they get an appointment two months later. long lines for primary or even for surgery that creates obviously dissatisfaction. >> reporter: the long wait times are part of the problems affecting many national health systems. according to nyu health policy professor who cite britain, spain and portugal as examples. >> they budget what they have and they operate within that budget. if they can't take care of everybody, some people have to wait and some care has to be
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rationed. >> reporter: payments have been played to hospitals and suppliers. most admit primary health care still needs serious reform. hospitals are overburdened by people seeking assistance when they can't get care fast enough. inefficiency, bureaucracy needs to be corrected but greece has come a long way in making sure everyone is covered. >> the issues of administration and efficiency of operation critically important in every instance that we've been reporting on. >> it certainly is. they have light years to go still on that though. >> light years to go and as can he go around the world we'll be looking at more examples of where public health care is working and varying levels of efficiency and satisfaction. thanks very much, kitty pilgrim. our coverage of health care systems continues tomorrow. we'll report on the quality of health care in ireland. please join us for that. up next, president obama firing
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back at critics of his health care proposals. >> none of the bills voted on in congress and none of the proposals coming out of the white house proposal giving coverage to illegal immigrants. >> what is their fate if i maigt ask because there's a law on the books that if you show up at the e.r., you have to be treated. >> we'll have more on the health care debate and misrepresentations the president is upset about those. how many has he participated in? president obama slamming his critics for spreading what he calls lies but as he misrepresented the facts as well? that's next.
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>> announcer: here again, mr. independent, lou dobbs. tonight the obama administration working feverishly to set the record straight on what it calls myths about government led health care. the president insisting the insured will keep plans and doctors may just not be the case. >> reporter: it's come up in a number of town hall meetings on health care. the concern that if given the
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choice between a government plan and a private plan, many employers would choose a federal one assuming it's less expensive. president obama and democrats have gone through great pains to reassure americans they can keep seeing their doctor. >> if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan. this is not some government takeover. if you like your doctor, you can keep seeing your doctor. >> reporter: not true for everyone says factcheck.org. some employers may have to modify plans after a five-year grace period if they don't meet minimum benefit standards and some employers are likely to buy separate coverage for their workers and drop coverage and pay a penalty instead in which caseworkers would buy their own private insurance or go on a federal plan. factcheck.org describes the legislation as a moving target with projections of how many would switch to federal plans ranging from near zoero to as much as 56% of all covered
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workers. >> you may not be able to keep the plan that you've got because that plan may cease to exist. you may not be able to see the doctor that you've always seen because your insurance plan may have changed. when the president says definitely you can keep your doctor, when members of congress say definitely you can keep your insurance plan, they're just guessing. >> reporter: then there's the issue of who doesn't have insurance? 46 million unsuinsured in the u. is the number you generally hear which is the number of people that told the government they didn't have insurance at some point during 2007. according to a research institute run by former health insurance industry executives that includes at least 12 million who are eligible for public health insurance programs but for whatever reason don't participate. of the 10 million noncitizens lacking health insurance that year, more than half are estimated to be illegal. and some 7 million uninsured individuals many of them young adults earning at least $40,000 and may have chosen to skip
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health insurance because they thought they didn't need it. one health care think tank we spoke with asked if the actual number of uninsured is far less than 46 million, is there a better way to devise a plan that would do just that, cover those uh-n unininsured people without affecting the rest of the population. >> a lot of questions but few answered. perhaps that will begin to change. thank you very much. another promise made by the president during his campaign to repeal the defense of marriage act. the clinton era law recognizes marriage between a man and a woman, allows states to ignore same-sex marriages from other states and withholds federal marriage rights for same-sex couples. here now to debate the issue in our face-off tonight is maggie gallagher, the president of the national organization for marriage. good to have you with us, maggie.
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and also a law professor at the university of pennsylvania. good to have you with us. >> thank you. >> let's turn to what the administration said in its brief in defending the act this week. it reads -- you say you were shocked by this brief. why so? >> there are two issues. it's true the obama candidate had a position paper that he's against the defense of marriage act. but he also went in a big publicized interview and promised the american people in an interview with rick warren that although he's for equal rights for gay people, he doesn't include marriage among them and now his administration is filing a brief saying the one federal law that defends marriage as one man and one
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woman is discrimination. it's a brief that says it's against it but then pretends it's trying to defend it. there's more shocking things in there. >> we'll get to those. your reaction? do you agree with what maggie said? >> i don't. let's be clear about what this statute is about. there are six states right now and a bunch of folks in california as well, six states that allow guy and lesbian couples to get married. it's about whether they will be discriminated against by the federal government. it has nothing to do with the federal government telling them what they have to do. i tell you, the justice department is in a wrong situation. here's why. they want this statute repealed as does the president and his administration. there's a long standing tradition that -- >> why not do it? >> there's a difference between repealing the statute which the president is working with
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congress to do right now and part of the democratic party platform to get rid of this statute and it's time for congress to step up and start working on it. there's a difference between that and what the justice department's obligation is when there's a constitutional challenge brought to a statute. >> let me just interrupt. this is where economists describe president obama. barack obama tends to become incoherent when discussing gay rights during the campaign. he said he supported equal rights for gays but that marriage should be between a man and a woman. how do you -- what you say is fine but wouldn't marriage be a fundamental right and why would there be any equivocation? >> i agree with you about that. i spent a lot of time working for the campaign -- >> i'm just asking -- >> i hear you. what the defense of marriage act is about is not telling states who is allowed to get married and who is not. it's about whether the federal government is going to discriminate against couples legally married in their state. >> but the justice department
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says it's discrimination. >> even worse is that pretending to defend it but in response to pressure from political groups they've changed their argument. the federal government is now saying the obama administration is telling the courts on your behalf and mine that the government has no interest at all in bringing together biological parents to raise their children together. it says marriage doesn't have anything to do with mother and fathers raising children together which is the one great argument that all of the liberal courts that upheld marriage, they have always done it on that reason. it's very deceptive i think what he's doing. >> it's deceptive. of all of the things that i have seen over the course of my career listing an assault on heterosexual marriage, i have
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never seen -- correct me -- where does gay marriage stand -- where is it for threat against heterosexual marriage? what's the causal relationship? >> i think when the government changes the definition of marriage, it changes for everyone. when the government says -- >> excuse me. i'm not asking anybody to change the definition of anything. i'm just asking you how is a heterosexual couple in marriage in any way assaulted by a homosexual couple in marriage? >> well, because the government has changed what marriage is. for a lot of us, lou, a marriage is a husband and wife. the government is proposing to change that. the obama administration is saying that idea is discrimination. our children will be taught that by public schools that our ideas of marriage are discriminatory. it's hard enough to get men and women together to do this thing without the government saying and obama administration saying the idea itself is
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discriminatory. >> let's bring this down to some real specifics. this is about couples who have been together for 30 years being denied their full social security benefits. this is about couples being denied access to health care. this is about couples who are being denied equal treatment in the tax laws after they spent their entire lives in -- >> you have that with civil unions. those arguments are not persuasive. >> this is about the federal government taking couples legally married saying we won't give you legal access to the social security benefit that every married couple in this country is entitled to. that's what this is about. >> if you have a trouble with social security, you can amend that act. you don't need to go into court -- >> are you out there? are you out there trying to fight for equal treatment for gay and lesbian couples in social security? are you the one that will take away social security benefits from gay and lesbian couples? >> i'm standing for the right
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the american taxpayers not to have same-sex unions treated as marriage without their consent. >> okay. >> there are six states that said they want gay and lesbian couples to be treated equally. the federal government should step out of the way. >> the federal government said the federal definition of marriage is one man and one woman. i support that. i think the obama administration should live up to its campaign promise to support that. >> they should live up to their promise to repeal this statute. >> there are two promises here and it would satisfy one of you or the other but not both. let me again go to this thing. the defense of marriage is a peculiar construction. when the primary reason for divorce is financial. one in two marriages in this country heterosexual marriages ends in divorce. we're watching two-thirds in some cases of children born out of wed lock. we have a disaster in this
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country and it seems it could be argued it seems to me forgive me for saying this that you're blaming homosexuals for an institution under assault from just about everyone but gays. >> i'm not blaming homosexuals for anything. it's four judges in massachusetts that brought us gay marriage. it's about a bunch of democratic legislators in blue states that are not gay as far as i know that brought us gay marriage in those states. this is a political movement to change the law. it will have a lot of consequences. i do not understand how we can possibly rebuild a marriage culture with the president of the united states and the government saying the idea that marriage means a husband and wife because you need a mother and father is discriminatory. >> at the end of the day this is about treating people fairly and equally and with dignity and getting rid of the defense of marriage act will allow us to get the federal government out of the way of states that made that decision.
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>> thank you both. appreciate you being here. lisa sylvester with an update on the other stories we're following tonight. lisa? >> reporter: hurricane bill has weakened to a category 3 storm as it approaches bermuda but forecasters believe bill could become a category 4 by tomorrow. the center of the storm is now expected to pass between bermuda and the east coast of the united states. officials are warning that extremely dangerous waves and rip tides could hit the east coast this weekend. at the university of alabama tonight, officials say 54 students were diagnosed with the flu on the first day of school. officials believe most of the cases are swine flu. school officials say they're prepared for flu outbreaks and will prescribe students and roommates with anti-flu drugs. schools across the country are preparing for possible swine flu outbreaks this fall. the obama administration will end the cash for clunkers program on monday.
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according to officials, applications for rebates will not be accepted after 8:00 monday night. the cash for clunkers program offered rebates for car buyers who traded in cars for new more fuel efficient models. car dealers have complained about the delays in reimbursement from the government but president obama said today that dealers "will get their money." those are some of the stories we're following tonight. lou? >> thank you very much, lisa. next, a desperate plea from house speaker nancy pelosi to pass a health care plan. seemingly any health care plan for this country. >> if we don't pass this bill with all of the comprehensive aspects of it now, i don't know when we'll have a chance to do it. >> after weeks of listening to their angry constituents, will senate democrats ignore the voice of the people? and will those democrats "go it alone"? we'll be right back.
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call now-- and get the system installed for just $99. broadview security for your home or business - the next generation of brink's home security. call now. joining me in washington, chris, good to have you with us and in new york, cnn contributor, and a democratic strategist and cnn contributor. what's going on here? some have said last week that the president didn't have a prayer with obama care. and beginning yesterday turned to religious leaders for support and help. what's going on? >> mart mosmart move. the movement here is obama care or health care reform. the problem is we still don't know enough of the details and that's what's giving people a good deal of anxiety. >> i like the fact that he's
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trying to frame it as ethical and moral question in part because he loses if it's a budget question. some people might want to spend the money and some might not. you frame it as a moral issue. is this something we should do for our saturdaociety. >> chris in. >> it's a risky play. it could pay off. the downside is for every action there's an opposite and equal reaction on the political spectrum. by talking about this as brid bringing religion into it he's inflamed passions with conservative faith groups that are upset about the possibility though not in the bill of abortion being funded, euthanasoou euthanasia and other things they think are there. as you pointed out without the plan being there, the president can't sell it and pass against it. >> one thing that's been
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happening and we've been doing this on this broadcast from the outset pointing out the number, 46 million americans being used by both president obama, the democratic leadership, and frankly those opposing the legislation, just accepting the number. the number is vastly overstated by any definition. why has this continued and the fact that this is going -- over the next few days and weeks as these things occur the american people are going to -- this is going to be reduced to reality. that reality is going to be no more than half of that number. it's going to be a terrific talking point against the president. why get involved in this? >> even if it is half the number, it's still presents a moral and ethical question for this country how we permit so many people to be without basic health care. that's what the president needs to get out front. that's what will change -- >> that changes the discussion what you just said.
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it's one of the rhetorical twists of this campaign for health care. that isn't people not receiving health care. that's people quote/unquote uninsured. let's go through that number. if it's a moral issue, we should at least pursue the reality. here are the numbers. 47 million. as we go through this, pacific research institute saying the number includes as many as 20 million illegal immigrants. 12 to 20 million. 14 million people are eligible for benefits for programs like medicaid but who just simply haven't taken advantage of that coverage. another 10 million earn $75,000 a year or more. make it 50,000. whatever number you would like. another 10 million. that leaves somewhere around 13 million uninsured but in the case of illegal immigrants they still have the ability to go into any emergency room in the country and be covered.
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it's not -- there's also something immoral saying this country is not taking care of those people when i can't find a single instance in which a person will not be covered. >> in new york city for example, 400,000 people go into public hospitals we have here. that's a great expense. i personally have never thrown around the 47 million or 46 million number. that's not the one that moves me. >> our president has. >> what i think people has to understand is they're paying top dollar when people show up at those emergency rooms. >> that's a different argument than the one the president is now pressing and which you just supported. which is a moral and ethical campaign. when the morality and ethics of this are we are providing health care to those who are in the country illegally. my god, medicaid, medicare, all of the programs in this country. this is becominge ining frighte which distorts an attitude on the part of the american people
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in providing health care for those that are needy. medicare, medicaid. my god. >> as a talking point, the number that's always moved me the most has been the million or so people who are estimated to file to file personal bankruptcy every year, due primarily to medical expenses. most of those people are insured. >> right, absolutely. chris, your thoughts? >> well, i think one of the other challenges that the president faces as he makes this a moral issue is dealing with liberals in his party, conscientious liberals, the previous administration, for using faith to sell policy, for using a religious message to try and sell policy points. i think there's a fair question that a lot of people are going to ask, which is i may be obligated as a person of faith to provide help to the needy. i don't know i'm obligated to move government policy in a different direction. there is the chance for some of the more intellectually honest
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folks who oppose the bush administration tactics in this vein are also going to -- >> this has nothing to do with bush administration tactics. but a basic tenet of american politics from the beginning. there is a reason why our money says "in god we trust." there's a reason why we say "one nation under god." god is also in the discussion. we see ourselves as an ethical and moral force in the world. so it's no surprise the president would go back to where americans really live, which is within those kind of ethical boundaries. >> no doubt. i think it is fair to point out this is something that the left took the right to task for a lot during the bush years. before that, in excessive insertion of this is something a lot of liberals were honestly upset with. >> you said they were being honest, hank. we're going to be right back with our panel. stay with us.
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