Skip to main content
CNN.com /transcript

CNN TV

EDITIONS
SERVICES
CNN TV
EDITIONS

CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER

Rumsfeld Outlines Plan for Defense Appropriations; Lott Discusses Federal Budget Spending in Slumping Economy; Dodd, Hatch Debate Congressional Priorities

Aired September 9, 2001 - 12:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's noon in Washington, 11:00 a.m. in Mexico City, 5:00 p.m. in London and 11:00 p.m. in Tokyo. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for this two-hour LATE EDITION.

We'll get to my interview with the U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in just a moment, but first, the hour's top story.

We begin today with the weakening economy and the shrinking budget surplus here in the United States. That's forcing the president and his Democratic critics to rethink some of their tax and spending priorities.

CNN's Kelly Wallace is at the White House with the latest.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: And the shrinking budget surplus may mean less money for U.S. missile defense and the military.

Earlier today, I spoke with the U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about that and more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Mr. Secretary, thanks so much for joining us once again on LATE EDITION. Good to have you on our program.

And let's talk money for a moment, which is of course is at the core of many of your problems right now. You want to significantly increase defense spending at a time when the budget surplus is shrinking, the point that it's only a Social Security, a Social Security surplus.

Do you think it would be appropriate to use those Social Security surplus funds to pay for increased defense spending?

DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The president's budget protects Social Security and it protects Medicare, and his priorities are defense and education.

And this defense establishment has been starved over the past five to 10 years. And we have underfunded equipment, we have underfunded the people, we have underfunded the infrastructure. And it's time to stop and see that we do the right thing for the men and women in the armed forces.

We have a proposal up there which I think we are going to get most of before this is over, if not all. We need every nickel of it.

BLITZER: But, as you know, the money may not be available, so let me repeat the question: If it means tapping into that Social Security surplus to pay for the increased funding that you need over the next several years, that you say you need, would it be worthwhile, would that be a legitimate, emergency funding situation that would justify tapping into Social Security?

RUMSFELD: That is not how the issue comes up. The issue comes up that up that there is X amount of money, and then there are these projections that keep changing every month. Every time the Congressional Budget Office comes out with a new number, everyone says, oh, let's chase that new number.

The president's budget provides for Medicare and it provides for Social Security. And he says, after that, our priorities are the defense and education, and other things need to be sorted through to fit within that budget.

BLITZER: One of the major problems you are going to have dealing with the budget constraints that you have is getting the funding that you need for a missile defense system that the president, of course, says is one of his top priorities.

The Armed Services Committee in the Senate, as you know, says they don't want to go ahead with $1.3 billion dollars that you want because there are they are concerned that there could be a violation of the U.S.- then-Soviet 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. They're going to fund the money, but they want to use it for other defense purposes.

RUMSFELD: Look, the president has said, I have said, Secretary Powell has said, the United States of America is not going to violate the treaty. The Russians know it, we know it, the Senate knows it. It is not going to happen. We're not going to violate that treaty.

BLITZER: You have to make a decision by November or December whether to go ahead with the test that some say would violate the ABM agreement.

RUMSFELD: You can find somebody to say anything you want. The reality is that there is broad agreement that what we have done thus far and what we are currently doing does not violate the treaty. It will not violate the treaty.

Now, at some point, there are tests and research and development activities that we are undertaking that could violate the treaty. But before that, we are dealing with the Russians. The president's been meeting with President Putin. I've been meeting with the minister of defense. Secretary Powell's been meeting with his counterparts. I'm going back over there again the end of this month, and we're going to find a framework that will enable us to get beyond the ABM Treaty which prevents us from having defensive capability against ballistic missiles. We need to be able to defend our population.

BLITZER: So, when you say the United States is not going violate the ABM Treaty, as you know, during the campaign last year the president specifically said, if the Russians don't accept this change, the U.S. would go forward unilaterally even at the expense of violating what he regarded as an outdated, old treaty.

RUMSFELD: No, no. We need to be very precise on the meanings of words here. "Violate" means you breach some provision of the treaty. The treaty provides for a six-month notification for withdrawal. That's not a violation. That is simply saying let's get on with it, let's get a new framework, let's mutually set this treaty aside.

And if we can't, the president has said he would have to give six months' notice and then continue discussing with the Russians how we might establish a new post-Cold War framework.

So that work is important, it's going forward, and the president puts a very high priority on it.

BLITZER: If the Congress determines, as the Senate Armed Services Committee has, that only with congressional approval could you go forward with national missile defense testing, if it were determined to be an abrogation or violation or inconsistent with the ABM Treaty, will the president veto that language?

RUMSFELD: Well, that's a president decision, but certainly -- first of all, I don't think that's going to happen. The Senate committee voted the way you said. The full Senate has not acted on that, the House of Representatives have not acted. Then there'll be a conference committee.

I have a hard time figuring out why some people want the United States to remain vulnerable to ballistic missiles.

BLITZER: I want to explain -- maybe we can have an answer from Senator Joe Biden, who's the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was on Meet The Press earlier today.

RUMSFELD: Let me finish this thought, though. I would recommend veto to the president if it happened that that language ended up coming down to his desk.

BLITZER: That Democratic-sponsored language.

All right, listen to what Senator Biden said earlier today about missile defense, as you envisage it. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), RHODE ISLAND: Missile defense would protect us from virtually nothing. It will not protect us from cruise missiles. It will not protect us from something being smuggled in. It will not protect us from an atom bomb in the rusty hull of a ship coming into a harbor. It will not protect us from anthrax. Will not protect -- all of which the Defense Department says are much more likely, much more likely threats than somebody sending an ICBM with a return address it on, saying, we just struck you, knowing that'll result in immediate annihilation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUMSFELD: Senator Biden is against missile defense.

One might ask him, why did they have those metal detectors at the Senate Office building? They don't protect you from a truck bomb. They don't protect you from a cruise missile, but why do you have them? Well, you have them because you've learned that there are a spectrum of threats that can damage the American people and damage our country. And what you need to do is try to deal with as many as you can.

That's why the United States spends so much money on the things he's talking about on terrorists. We spend a $11 billion trying to deal with terrorism and force protection.

To select out one and suggest to the American people, if you cannot defend against everything, you should defend against nothing, would be a policy of vulnerability, which I find incomprehensible.

BLITZER: I guess the point that he's trying to make is there's a limited amount of money available. You have to divide it in a way that is most effective, most useful.

RUMSFELD: Exactly.

BLITZER: And he says to spend these billions and billions of dollars for a missile defense system that may or may not work, that may or may not ever have any justification, is money not well spent at a time when there are other much greater and more effective ways to use that money.

RUMSFELD: Right. And there have been people making those kinds of arguments since the beginning of this country. Why should we waste money learning how to fly? Why did the Wright brothers try to learn how to fly airplanes? They'll never do it. Why do we ever have the Corona program for satellites? It'll never work. Eleven straight failures, and now it's one of the most important aspects of our intelligence-gathering capability.

I think that we are spending money on terrorism, we are spending money to defend against cruise missiles. And there are some people who, for whatever reason, find it that, in the one instance of ballistic missiles, the kinds of missiles that hit the barracks in Saudi Arabia and kill 28 Americans and wounded another 90 or so, that one thing we shouldn't try to defend against. That takes a leap from my standpoint.

BLITZER: One of the potential threats to justify a national missile defense shield would be China. Yet now we're hearing that the Bush administration is ready to, A, share information about the missile defense system with China and, B, look the other way as China increases its own development of its nuclear missile program.

RUMSFELD: Well, both statements are flat not true. The United States has not indicated that they're going to look the other way. Indeed the United States is in the process of trying to reduce the total numbers of offensive nuclear weapons in the United States, which we're working very hard on.

BLITZER: So you're going to raise with China its modernization program of its nuclear missile program?

RUMSFELD: The press reports to the effect that the United States was going to look the other way or engage in some sort of a quid pro quo were simply not the case. That's not the U.S. policy, it's not happening.

BLITZER: So the U.S. will raise this issue with the Chinese if they go ahead and modernize their missile program?

RUMSFELD: Well, they are. They've been doing it for years. They've been increasing their defense budget in double digits for the last five years to my certain knowledge. They're deploying more and more ballistic missiles. It has nothing to do with missile defense. That's what they're doing.

BLITZER: What about the other point about sharing with the Chinese the information that you're learning about missile defense...

RUMSFELD: Right.

BLITZER: ... in order to get them on board, if you will?

RUMSFELD: That is nonsense. We have agreed to brief them. We have briefed them. We want people in the world to understand what we're doing. But we have not proposed sharing missile defense capability with the People's Republic of China. We have discussed that with Russia and with our European allies and with Israel and with Japan and with a lot of other countries. But those are the kinds of things that you would do only after very careful consultation. It might involve warnings systems. It could involve some other aspects of missile defense.

But our interest, the president's interest, is being able to deploy a missile defense capability for the United States to defend our population.

BLITZER: You probably saw the cover story in last week's issue of Time magazine.

RUMSFELD: I did.

BLITZER: "Where Have You Gone, Colin Powell?" In this story there are suggestions, a lot of disarray within the senior national security team of the Bush administration -- you, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell... RUMSFELD: Look, Colin...

BLITZER: A lot of dissension there. And Colin Powell may not be as forceful a figure in this team as a lot of people thought he might be.

RUMSFELD: That is nonsense. Colin Powell is an unusual talent. He is doing a fine job at the Department of State. He works very closely with the president, he works very closely with me. We're on the phone two or three times a day, we meet together three or four times a week. And I have enormous respect for him.

And the thrust of that is totally misdirected. This is a very able person who's doing a terrific job for the country, and we ought to be darned glad he's there.

BLITZER: And the reports -- you've seen them in the papers -- suggesting that Donald Rumsfeld may not be long for this job at the Defense Department?

RUMSFELD: Golly, I'll tell you, you not only read gossip columns but you repeat it.

BLITZER: It's my job to ask you the questions.

RUMSFELD: I can't believe it. Nonsense.

BLITZER: You're staying?

RUMSFELD: You bet.

BLITZER: For how long?

RUMSFELD: As long as it makes sense for the president and for me, and I expect that's going to be a long time. This is a tough job, there's lots to do. And we're hard at it, and we're making good progress.

BLITZER: I want to get to two other issues before I let you go. Saddam Hussein in Baghdad right now, he's trying to shoot down a U.S. or British or allied warplane flying in the no-fly zones in the North or in the South.

RUMSFELD: He's been doing it for years.

BLITZER: He got close with an unmanned, drone, pilotless aircraft. What happens if he succeeds in that?

RUMSFELD: There's no question but that he's has been trying to do that. The Allied aircraft that fly in those areas, the British, the United States, have been managing their affairs in a way that we periodically degrade and take out his air defense capability.

To the extent other countries keep trading with him and improving his fiberoptics and improving his ability to cue and network, the risk level goes up. And then the United States and the U.K. are forced to go in and take out those capabilities.

BLITZER: Is there a greater threat right now than there was a year ago?

RUMSFELD: It tends to come up and then go down after it's been degraded. Of course you can rebuild these things in two, three, four, five, six months, so it's not something that's static.

BLITZER: A lot of controversy surrounding Israel's policy of what the State Department calls targeted killings of Palestinians suspected of getting ready to engage in terrorist actions.

As you know, the United States, when it sells Israel F-16s or Apache helicopters or other weapons systems, stipulates they can only be used for self defense, legitimate self defense. Otherwise those sales must be stopped.

When Israel engages in this kind of policy of targeted killings, is that legitimate self defense?

RUMSFELD: Well, look, Israel's got a very difficult problem. It has suicide bombers coming in, going into restaurants and hotels and bus stops, and killing themselves and killing 10, 20, 30 people who happen to be innocent bystanders. I don't know if that's targeted killing or not, but it is certainly terrorism and it is violence, and it is something that any country has to deal with.

Where the line comes between calling something defense and calling something something else, is a tough one. A good, vivid example was when Israel went in and took out Iraq's nuclear capability. And some would say, well, that was a preemptive act. Others would say, thank the good Lord they went in and destroyed that nuclear capability or Saddam Hussein would have, within a very short time, had a nuclear weapon and intimidated the entire region.

RUMSFELD: These are tough calls. I'm not international lawyer. And I'm sure that they and the United States and Secretary Powell, who deals with those issues with Israel, handles them very well.

BLITZER: On that note, I'm going to let you go, Secretary Rumsfeld. Good to hear that you're sticking around for a while, and you'll be frequent guest on LATE EDITION over the next several years.

RUMSFELD: Look forward to it.

BLITZER: Thanks so much.

RUMSFELD: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And coming up next, President Bush has reiterated his promise to steer clear of the Social Security surplus. Will Senate Republicans unite to help him keep his pledge? We'll talk to Senate Republican leader Trent Lott when LATE EDITION continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've got a plan to get our economy moving so Americans can find work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: President Bush speaking on Friday. Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Joining us now to discuss the economy, the budget, taxes and much more is the Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi.

Senator Lott, always good to have you on our program.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MINORITY LEADER: Wolf, great to be back with you.

BLITZER: Thanks for joining us.

You heard the Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld make the case for increased defense spending even at a time when the budget surplus is shrinking. If it's necessary to cut spending, government spending, across the board in order to avoid dipping into that Social Security surplus, would you include defense spending across the board, a cut as well?

LOTT: Well, first let me say I thought that Secretary Rumsfeld did an excellent job on your show this morning. And I wish he'd do more of that because he is articulate and he's answered some questions that are out there in the minds of the American people and the Congress, quite frankly.

There's no question that defense has been underfunded for five to 10 years. We are going to -- the Congress turned it around actually and started to have a net increase over the last couple of years, but we need even more.

But the question is, how much can we do in view of a tightening budget process? I don't think it's going to be necessary to so-called dip into Social Security to provide for education and defense. I think we've got enough money.

But if you have across the board, you're talking about an infinitesimal amount, probably less than you know five-tenths of 1 percent of the overall budget. It can be done.

And I don't think you can exempt defense from an across-the- board. I think you could exempt Social Security and Medicare, but basically nothing else if you go that route. And I'm not saying we should or that we shouldn't at this point, although it's clearly something we should do.

I think it's important though, also, that we provide leadership and keep our commitment. I agree with the president. We should encourage economic growth. We should find more ways to do that to get this economy out of the doldrums, and we hope do that.

BLITZER: I want to get to that in a second.

But Mitch Daniels, the budget director at the White House, did come meet with the Republican leadership this past week, I believe it was Friday. And he did say that the chances were really good that the administration would have to dip into the Social Security surplus for what, $5 or $10 or $15 billion in order to keep government spending going.

LOTT: Well, keep in mind now, this is the 2001 budget we're talking about.

BLITZER: The one that ends September 30.

LOTT: The one that ends September 30 that we passed last year with projections of surpluses being very high beyond the Social Security surplus, the so-called on-budget surplus.

And the surplus has gone down just as quickly and as unexpectedly as it went up quite often. We may have to address this by providing some additional growth incentives, I repeat again. And, you know, something like the sequester could be considered. It would be a very small amount so that we would take that small amount, across the board, out of spending in the 2002 budget to take care of the shortfall that may exist.

BLITZER: All right, so let's talk about what you have in mind to stimulate the economy. We know you want a capital gains tax cut to reduce the capital gains rate from 20 percent to 15 percent. What else do you want?

LOTT: Well, I think, clearly, taking a look at tax policy that would spur growth is one way to do it. A capital gains tax rate cut, all the experts say, would get you revenue certainly in the short term, I believe in the long term. You're talking maybe as much as $5 to $7 billion additionally in the next two years.

I also think the president is right to continue to push for additional trade authority. I'm glad the Senate this past week passed the Export Administration Act that will allow for greater export of our high-tech equipment from the United States.

I also think that we need to look at energy. Energy costs had an impact this year, more than a lot of people want to recognize. It affected farmers, small-business men and women, but more importantly, there's people that have to pay higher electricity bills. We have no national energy policy. We should do that, we should do it now.

BLITZER: A lot of economists say that, at a time when the economy is not strong, to cut the capital gains tax rate from 20 percent to 15 percent would result in the government even losing more money because you're not going to get the tax revenue that you would if you cut that during time of serious economic growth.

LOTT: I think that is still some of the old, static economic thinking. When you provide a reduced rate from 20 to 15 percent for capital gains, there will be, you know, buying and selling and churning and growth in the economy. It has happened every time we have done it -- in '97, in the '80s, in the '60s under Kennedy.

So, I think it's the right thing to do to begin with, and it clearly has always had a growth impact. There may be some arguments to the contrary we should consider.

But the main thing is we need some new ideas. We need to acknowledge that there are people in this country that are concerned about their jobs, some that have already lost their jobs. And we shouldn't sit around in a non-election year saying, oh well, it's because of this budget or that budget or this president or this Congress or senator. We should say, here's what we can do, and we have some ideas.

BLITZER: You know, the other argument many people, Democrats especially, say, cut the capital gains tax rate, that's going to affect largely the wealthy, the more prominent, well-to-do Americans.

Why not cut payroll taxes and let people on the lower end of scale get some benefit as well?

LOTT: Well, first of all, what we need more of in, I think, the economy is capital. We have a liquidity problem. It's not enough just to cut interest rates, which is good, and to have, you know, spending restraint by the Congress. You also have to actually have capital out there available to businesses and to manufacturers, and there's a little bit of a shortage of that. And I wish the Fed would address the liquidity question a little bit.

That's what the capital gains does. And when you help people create more capital, the beneficiaries are the people that get the jobs from that.

But the idea of reducing the payroll tax, I've been for that for years and years and years. I think that the payroll tax is too high. I remember when my son got his first check he hollered, you know, this is the first check he'd ever gotten from a job. And he said, "Dad, who is FICA," you know, because it took a big bite out of his check. And for entry-level people, it does hurt. I would be interested in entertaining a bipartisan effort to consider that.

I do want to say hello to my young grandson who's probably watching right now, too.

BLITZER: What about the political ramifications for Republicans if the president is forced to tap into the Social Security surplus after promising that he wouldn't? As you know, a lot of people compare it with his father's utterance of those famous words, "Read my lips, no new taxes."

LOTT: It should not be necessary at all to do that. And that is the solution, take actions. There are some technical things that can be done right at end. I mean, we're talking about the last two or three weeks of this fiscal year. There are a few things that could be done that would help with that.

Look at some tax incentives whether it's capital gains rate cuts or a payroll tax that would provide a growth in the economy. If we have to look at some additional spending restraint, do that. I think the key is not just stand around and hope for the best and hold your breath.

And even more important, is not what we do just in the next two or three weeks, but what we do in terms of the budget and spending and growth and education for next year.

BLITZER: We only have a few seconds left, but on education you're far apart with the Democrats on how much to spend on education, even though on the basic principles you agree. Will there be a deal any time soon?

LOTT: There should be, Wolf. This is one of the most important things we can do in America. Our education program is not doing what it should do in America. We need more incentives for training. We need testing of teachers and students. We need flexibility at the local level. And, yes, we need more money.

Now, there's not an endless pit of money available. How much is enough of an increase? Eleven is the percent that the president originally asked for, or is it 15? We could come to a agreement on that.

The important thing is reforms that will get education to the children so we leave no child behind, not any child in America. And school has started. Congress needs to get this job done.

BLITZER: OK, Senator Lott...

LOTT: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: ... thanks for joining us once again. Always a pleasure to have you on our program.

LOTT: My pleasure.

BLITZER: And just ahead, a grim economic forecast has politicians already playing the blame game here in Washington. What could be done to jump start the U.S. economy?

We'll discuss that issue plus saving Social Security, your taxes and much more with two key senators: Connecticut Democrat Christopher Dodd and Utah Republican Orrin Hatch.

LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back.

Joining us now to discuss the budget, the economy and much more are two top senators: Connecticut Democrat Chris Dodd, he's chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, and Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, he's the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senators, always great to have both of you on our program.

And, Senator Dodd, let me let you respond, talk a little bit about this whole issue of tapping into Social Security. If President Bush is forced to use a relatively modest amount of the Social Security surplus to pay for the rest of government spending, isn't that what the Democrats, the Clinton administration, other administrations have done since the '60s?

SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: Well, they have, and that was one of the problems. And that's why both parties agreed in very, very strong, clear language that neither of us -- and the president has recommitted that, as early as February this year, in his national radio address, very emphatically said -- except in the case of war or deep national emergencies, we are not going to touch those trust funds.

And let me tell you why that's important. It isn't just moving dollars around. One of the most important things Congress can do -- we really can't respond terribly well in the short term for economic crises. Monetary policy is better suited to do that.

Where we're very important is in fiscal discipline. What the Clinton administration and Bob Rubin insisted upon in 1993 was the Clinton administration get very disciplined fiscally, and they did that. And as a result of it, we've had eight years of unprecedented economic growth. To become undisciplined fiscally would be a huge mistake for us to make at this juncture.

So there are ways in which we can avoid this all together. We can talk about that in a minute or so. But to just abandon that pledge, after the American public demand otherwise from us, I think would be a huge mistake.

I love Pete Domenici, but he was terribly wrong this week to suggest that it doesn't make any difference if we dip into the Social Security trust fund.

BLITZER: Well, let's take a listen to what Senator Domenici, the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee, the chairman until recently, said about using some of those Social Security funds.

Senator Hatch, listen to this.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: Sure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. PETE DOMENICI (R), NEW MEXICO: When you have a surplus of this magnitude -- and it will be the second largest in the history of the country -- there is no reason in the world that you should look at that debt for only one purpose, that is to pay the debt down. What's wrong with looking at it for education if you need education now? What's wrong with looking at it if you need defense now? This should be the right time to do that. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Do you agree with Senator Domenici, Senator Hatch?

HATCH: Well, I think we ought to try to, as Chris Dodd said, maintain fiscal discipline.

But let's be honest about it, our military's in severe difficulty. We have planes that -- the Russians have faster, more- maneuverable planes than our F-15, our best plane in our arsenal. Our pilots are flying planes that are older than they are. You have the B-52, just to name one, but F-14. You name them, they're older than our pilots.

We've got...

BLITZER: So you're suggesting the MIG-29, or one of the Russian fighter aircraft, is better than the...

HATCH: I'm not suggesting, I'm telling you that there are some Russian planes that are more maneuverable, that are faster than our planes, and that we have allowed our military to deteriorate.

And I can go through all kinds of things like the decrease in shipping, the inability to fight a two-front war, a lot of things that are just plain wrong, that I think Secretary Rumsfeld is going to try and correct and make right.

Now, look, if we don't have national security, we may very well lose Social Security. We've got to -- that's a number-one priority. And if it comes down to making sure that we're strong and that we can take care of these difficulties, then we ought to do whatever we ought to do.

And one other thing. There is nobody who is not going to get their Social Security check in full between now and 2037. There is no lockbox, so to speak. That money is being used to pay down the national debt. And frankly, if some of it had to be used to strengthen our military so that we can maintain freedom and we can maintain the Social Security up through 2037, then it makes sense.

BLITZER: That's a good point that Senator Hatch makes, Senator Dodd. Republicans say that, not necessarily you, but the Democrats in general are once again using, what they call, scare tactics on Social Security to get Americans, baby boomers who are waiting to get their Social Security, current Social Security recipients nervous, by talking about using some of the Social Security surplus money.

DODD: Well, it's not a scare tactic. Mitch Daniels, the head of the Office of Management and Budget, has warned the administration and the Republican leadership we're going to be into Social Security trust funds to the tune of at least 9 billion and probably more, given the most recent economic news we've had on unemployment rates and consumer confidence...

(CROSSTALK) BLITZER: Why not do what Senator Lott proposes, is sequester some money from next year to repay that Social Security?

DODD: Well, I've got a better idea for you. I hope the president -- and I'm confident he does, how serious this problem is now. This is not just a minor problem, this is serious.

DODD: He has passed a tax cut which is unprecedented in its size, relying on economic forecasts into the next 10 years. If you would just hold up on some of these out years -- leave alone the tax cuts this place right now, the ones that people have received -- but hold back on $1.25 trillion in tax cuts, you would be able to do all the things that Orrin wants to do, that others want to do in education and health care and not have to touch the trust fund.

BLITZER: In other words freeze the tax cut right now.

DODD: Right. Why would you fool around with Social Security? That is going to be in trouble. Why jeopardize that in order to do these things that we need to do to get our economy back in order?

BLITZER: Do you want to respond?

HATCH: Well, remember, our tax cut was $1.3 trillion. The Democrats brought up the program that was $1.2 trillion; 48 out of 49 Democrats voted for that program.

And by the way, their program would dip into Social Security $78 billion more dollars than ours.

DODD: No, no, no.

HATCH: Oh yes, sir, over 10 years. Now, that's a fact.

Now, look we have the largest -- second largest surplus in history. It isn't as large as it was projected, but it still is very, very large. We're not in bad shape.

This lockbox thing, I've always had some trouble with that, because we all know that what happens is that money is taken and used to pay down the national debt. And if we keep doing that we'll get the national debt down to about $1.1 trillion over the next 10 years.

But what's important here is is that if some of that had to be used to strengthen our country and make sure that we don't lose our national security and that we can maintain the way of life that we have, there's something to that.

DODD: The tax cut is not $1.3. This tax cut is almost $2 trillion. $1.3, I wish it were $1.3. And we only have a rebate at all because the Democrats, in fact, put that provision in the tax cut. The administration had no intention of including any rebates in the short term.

So going on that approach, the president needs to step up, he needs to lead on this now. Congress needs to work with him, but the president needs to lead. And he ought to hold a national press conference, go on national television saying, "I'm going to resubmit a budget. I didn't predict -- I didn't think this would happen this quickly, but it has. So I'm going to submit a new budget to you. I want your help on this. We don't need to go into the trust funds. I'm going to hold back on, and suggest to Congress we hold back on those late tax cuts."

For instance, the repeal, if you will, totally of the estate tax. I think you ought to have a reform of the estate tax, but a total repeal of it, affecting 44,000 Americans, $620 billion, why not hold that up? It only affects 1 percent, less than 1 percent, a fraction of...

BLITZER: Well, we're going to pick up on this, Senator Hatch. We're going to take a quick commercial break. We'll talk about Democrats and their traditional ways of trying to stimulate the economy with what's going on right now, but stand by.

We'll also be taking your phone calls for Senators Chris Dodd and Orrin Hatch. LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. We're continuing our conversation with Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Dodd and Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch.

Senator Hatch, we're hearing from a lot of Republicans it's time now, unlike what Senator Dodd suggests, to have additional tax cuts, capital gains tax cuts. We heard from Senator Lott say a payroll tax cut to help lower income Americans.

Do you support additional tax cuts right now at a time of a squeeze on the budget surplus?

HATCH: Tax cuts work. We know that tax increases, the Hoover tax increases, don't seem to work, and they triggered a depression. But tax cuts do work. And we probably should have capital gains tax cuts.

We should also make the R&D tax credit permanent which would shore up our high-tech industry. We've got to come up with an energy policy that really will help to us reduce the cost of energy and keep energy flowing in this country.

And, look, we've had trade authority hampered and held up because some people want to have international trade laws and international environmental laws imposed upon it that basically will make it so it can't pass. So we've got to get permanent trade authority and give the president that kind of authority to be able to help our economy. And I think we can do it.

Keep in mind that we weren't even expecting to have these type of surpluses until 2002, back in 1997, when the first Republican Congress in 40 years passed a balanced budget law.

BLITZER: Let me get Senator Dodd.

Listen to what Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor during the Clinton administration, has recently written about the Democrats and the need to stimulate the economy during this period of anemic economic growth, if there's growth at all.

He writes in the New Republic, he says, "It's actually the Democrats who are being irresponsible by abandoning their traditional commitment to fiscal stimulus and government spending and, in the process, mortgaging our economic future."

Democrats always say, to stimulate an economy during bad times, increase government spending and go for some tax cuts.

DODD: Well, I don't disagree with that. I said earlier, if the president would hold up on these tax cuts, $1.25 trillion of them that we have not imposed yet or people have not received yet at all, and then reconfigure that...

BLITZER: A lot of economists say that would be worst thing to do because that would depress the economy.

DODD: No, let me finish, let me finish. Those tax cuts coming down there, we can't afford. We know that already. We're already talking about going to the Social Security trust fund. We're all going to be falling back into deficits here.

Hold up on those, and then reconfigure this. Resubmit the budget, if you will. And then you can provide for tax cuts that are better, more equitably distributed. You could have room, in my view, for a capital gains tax cut. But also you have room there to invest in education, invest in health care, invest in the infrastructure.

The administration's talking about a 2.5 percent across-the-board cut in all spending at this point, plus another tax cut, without touching anything else. That's a formula for additional trouble in the country.

BLITZER: I want to move on to talk about stem cell research, a critically important issue out there. As you know, the administration, the president signed off. He said there were some 60 viable stem lines. Now apparently, we're told there may be two dozen or so viable stem lines.

Is Congress, Senator Hatch, ready to step in and deal with this issue beyond what the president has authorized?

HATCH: My personal belief is Congress is going to try to support the president because the initial stem cell lines of about two dozen seem to be adequate.

But there is another issue that comes up, and that is these stem cell lines are basically European, U.S., some Asian. Hardly any other cultural groups are included. It's apparent that we're going to have to expand the stem cell lines. There are over, the estimates are well over 100,000 blastocytes from which these pluripotent cells can be taken that can be developed into any of up to 225 forms of human life or tissue. And it seems to me, they're going to be discarded, most all of those. So where you meet the NIH strict guidelines and you get the consent of the donors, it seems to me that those stem cell lines should be developed.

BLITZER: Would you prefer more beyond that the president has...

HATCH: I think we're going to have to. I think everybody knows that. And if they're going to be discarded anyway, why wouldn't we use those for the betterment of mankind? It seems to me that makes a tremendous amount of sense and, ultimately, we'll have to.

BLITZER: A lot of your fellow Republicans who oppose abortion rights totally disagree with you, as you know.

HATCH: Well, they do. But keep in mind, you know, what they don't seem to understand is that you can, through cloning, you can take stem cells out of the skin, you have stem cells in your mouth when you brush your teeth. Those stem cells taken from skin...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Embryonic stem cells.

HATCH: But no, wait. The point I'm talking about is that any one of those can be developed into a human being through cloning. And so, what does that mean? That we shouldn't brush our teeth because we might lose some stem cells?

DODD: Well, I don't want to ruin Orrin's reputation in Utah, but I agree with him here.

(LAUGHTER)

DODD: I think he's on the right tack. Arlen Specter, as well, has been leading on the issue.

But I also want to commend the president. He took a step that I think was hard for him to take, given his views on the abortion issue and others. And so, I want to begin by commending him for doing that and for advocating public financing, public support for the basic research in this area.

Tommy Thompson did a great job, the secretary of health and human services, the other day before our committee.

I think Orrin is correct for a couple of reasons, the ones he's mentioned. I don't think there are 64 lines. And even if there may be those lines, you've got another problem that I'm sure Orrin's aware of as well, and that is these mouse feeder cells and possibly some bovine cells that may be included that could cause real health hazards, because the Center for Disease Control standards have not been applied where a lot of lines are developed outside of the United States. So I think we're going to have to go beyond the August 9, 9 p.m. group in order to tap into some of the...

BLITZER: You have the last word, Senator.

HATCH: The mouse feeder cells, the FDA tells us that they can probably resolve those difficulties.

Chris is right. Look, we're worried about treatments and cures for people who are living. And these cells are going to be the discarded anyway. It seems to me that -- and the president really deserves a lot of credit, because what he's done is, he's said basically, not "when we're going to do this," it's that "we're going to do this."

We're going to get the best arm of NIH involved. We're going use that money so it goes quicker and faster in interchange of information. And we're going to get to the point where, over the next five to 15 years, we're going to bring about some treatments and cures that will help mankind. To me, I think that's the most pro-life position we can take.

BLITZER: So obviously we have not yet heard the last word from members of Congress on this, especially the U.S. Senate.

Senator Hatch, Senator Dodd...

DODD: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Good of both of you to join us.

Good luck to you, Senator Dodd. These are very, very important days. Our viewers should know you're expecting any minute now.

DODD: Any minute now. Keep tuned. We'll let you know.

BLITZER: You're not expecting, your wife is.

DODD: My wife is, but I feel like I'm expecting.

(LAUGHTER)

HATCH: He's very tenderfooted too, I can tell you that. You've heard some of that here today.

DODD: Yes, I have.

BLITZER: Good luck to you.

DODD: Thank you.

BLITZER: And good luck to you, Senator Hatch. Thanks again.

And up next, more than 3 million Mexican nationals live illegally in the United States. Will President Bush break the barriers and grant them amnesty? We'll debate that contentious issue with former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan and former Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros.

LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: A Mexican proverb tells us that (SPEAKING IN SPANISH) -- He who has a good neighbor has a good friend.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: President Bush welcoming Mexico's President Vicente Fox at the White House on Wednesday. Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Joining us now to discuss immigration policies between the United States and Mexico are two guests: Here in Washington, the former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan; he's the chairman and founder of The American Cause. And joining us from San Antonio, Texas, Henry Cisneros; he's a former mayor of San Antonio and a former housing secretary under President Clinton.

Thanks to both of you for joining us.

What's wrong, Pat Buchanan, with what President Bush is trying to do, find a way to allow those 3 million Mexicans who are here illegally to get some sort of legal papers so they can work legally, pay taxes, become productive members of the American society?

PAT BUCHANAN, FORMER GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Here's what's wrong, Wolf. The Mexican government's been conducting an invasion of the United States for the last 10 years at least. Fifteen million people have been apprehended on the American border and turned back. Three to 6 million have made it.

The president of Mexico walks into the office, the Oval Office, of the president of United States and says, "In four months, I want you to make these people legal, and I want you to put them on the road to citizenship in the United States of America."

General Eisenhower would have thrown him out of the office. Andrew Jackson would probably have called for dueling pistols.

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN: Mr. Bush has a moral obligation to defend the United States of America, the country our founders built and fought for with it's own unique identity, Wolf, and not give away citizenship.

BLITZER: All right. Henry Cisneros, what about that?

HENRY CISNEROS, FORMER SECRETARY OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT: Well, Wolf, my fellow immigrant Pat Buchanan uses inflammatory language in these situations. But this week I think the two presidents put this discussion in a very serious and respectful course. First of all, President Fox did not ask for legalization of everyone in four months. He said, in four months we'd like to have a plan that lays this out over the course of our respective terms -- six years for President Fox, presumably eight years for President Bush.

And what he called for was beginnings of a temporary worker program which many conservatives, business people, Republicans, support, including people like Senator Gramm, a worker program that matches workers to the jobs in industries like textiles and meat- packing and agriculture and poultry and others where they're needed.

But beyond that, a facing of the facts with respect to some 3 million persons who are within the United States who do essential jobs, who are not going to be shipped back, they're not going anywhere. So let's begin the orderly process of taking them out of this shadowy existence in which they live today and recognize these are the people who pick our crops, these are the people who clean our dishes and feed people in restaurants, care for children.

BUCHANAN: What Henry is talking about is a betrayal of the American worker. Black Americans have a 9 percent unemployment rate. There are 1 million manufacturing jobs that have been wiped out in the last year.

Yes, my ancestors came to America to become Americans, to assume an American identity, to learn American history, to learn the language, to become and respect everything that's gone on in America's past.

These folks are good people, I don't deny that. But what they are is illegal aliens who broke into our country and whose loyalty is first and foremost to Mexico.

BLITZER: Let's not -- let me let Secretary Cisneros respond to that.

Is that the case that these 3 million Mexicans don't have any loyalty to the United States? They want to stay here, but they want to have a loyalty to Mexico, is that what...

CISNEROS: Absolutely not, absolutely not. I just came from church in my home neighborhood here in San Antonio in which probably half of the congregation were people who were here undocumented. And American culture is so strong that they are assimilating into the mainstream of American life. Their children will be Americans.

Unfortunately this discussion, which ought to be about the legality of immigration, when it takes the direction that Pat has put it on, becomes about prejudices about who these people are.

BUCHANAN: Henry, it's got to take this direction...

CISNEROS: Just like the Irish who came before, they will be full-blown Americans within a generation.

BUCHANAN: The Irish who came to America... BLITZER: Hold on. Pat Buchanan, stand by. This debate is just beginning. We are going to take a quick commercial break. We have a lot more to talk about. Gentlemen, stand by.

For our international viewers, World News is next.

For our North American audience, stay tuned for the next hour of LATE EDITION. We'll continue our conversation with Pat Buchanan and Henry Cisneros. They'll also be taking your phone calls.

Then we'll discuss Congressman Gary Condit's political future with former Clinton special counsel Lanny Davis and former U.S. attorney Joe DiGenova.

Plus, our LATE EDITION roundtable and Bruce Morton's "Last Word." It's all ahead in the next hour of LATE EDITION.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: This is the second hour of LATE EDITION, the last word in Sunday talk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICENTE FOX, PRESIDENT OF MEXICO: We're partners to work together, building a better future for both of our nations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Leaders and friends: President Bush and his Mexican counterpart Vicente Fox push new rights for illegal aliens in the United States. What will that mean for U.S. citizens?

Former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan and former Clinton Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros face off.

Then...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DICK GEPHARDT (D-MO), MINORITY LEADER: I don't know what he will do. That's his decision, and I respect that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Congressman Gary Condit returns to Washington. Are his colleagues pressuring him to resign? We'll get legal and political analysis from former Clinton White House special counsel Lanny Davis and former U.S. attorney Joe DiGenova.

Plus, our LATE EDITION roundtable: Jake Tapper, Susan Page and Christopher Caldwell.

And Bruce Morton has the "Last Word" on an old rallying cry and its new relevance. Welcome back. We'll get back to our discussion about immigration policies between the United States and Mexico in just a moment, but first here is Donna Kelley in Atlanta with a check of the hour's top stories.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: Now back to our conversation about immigration with former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan and former housing secretary during the Clinton administration Henry Cisneros.

Once again, thanks to both of you.

President Bush, who's a conservative Republican, spoke out on this issue of these 3 million Mexicans who are here illegally right now, in Toledo earlier in the week.

Listen, Pat Buchanan, to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: If somebody is willing to do a work, a jobs others in America aren't willing to do, we ought to welcome that person to the country. And we ought to make that a legal part of our economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: He's signaling very strongly that he wants to find a way to bring these 3 million Mexicans who are here illegally, find a way to make them legal.

BUCHANAN: Look, Wolf, someone better wake up and smell the coffee here. What is taking place around the world and in this country, especially in the American southwest, is what's called la Reconquista. It is the demographic, social and cultural reannexation of the lost lands of Mexico by Mexicans who are coming in here illegally into the United States America. Politically and economically, they will be part of the United States.

We are facing a gigantic Northern Ireland in America, and the president has got to stop considering LULAC and La Raza and start looking out for the national interest of the United States, so we can remain one nation and one people. We are becoming bilingual and multicultural, and that is the beginning of the end of the United States.

BLITZER: Those are fighting words, I assume, to you, Henry Cisneros.

CISNEROS: Well, Pat could just not be more wrong. I mean, there are a lot of things I respect Pat Buchanan for and about his career and life, but on this point he is just absolutely wrong.

First of all, the president and, as I said, many Republicans are talking about some guestworker programs, and that's a good thing, because they match up industries that need the workers. But the long- term addressing of these 3 million-plus will take the form of not a general amnesty -- the president has already said he is not in favor of a general amnesty -- but of looking at people who've been here for 15 or 20 years and paid taxes all those years and they have tax receipts and payroll stubs to show it, or who have family connections, or who have been here for a period of time and shown how they've earned their place.

CISNEROS: The fact of the matter is, Mexico is another country. This is not about the Reconquista or any kind of merging of nations, nothing like that. This is about people here to do jobs that no one else is doing it. And people in California will tell you, no one else is willing to do stoop labor in the hot sun all day long and pick the crops. The crops would go rotting in the fields without these people.

BUCHANAN: But, Henry, let me ask you this. Look, you know as well as I do, Mr. Fox, Mr. Castaneda, they've talked about open borders between the United States, free movement of people and goods and everything like that, erasure of borders. You're talking about the end of our country.

What they are doing, and you know it as well as I do, they're pushing their poor and unemployed onto the welfare rolls and the payrolls of the United States of America because they can't deal with them.

CISNEROS: No, no, Pat, that's not true.

BUCHANAN: American taxpayers should not have to deal with this problem that belongs to Fox himself.

CISNEROS: American taxpayers are not having to deal with these problems. American taxpayers are not dealing with these problems. These people are paying their way, and more than paying their way. Many studies show that they pay in Social Security taxes and in other local taxes and property taxes and everything else. They more than pay their way.

This is not about open borders, this is about addressing the reality of 3 million people already here. And people all over America know it. This is not just California or Texas or Nevada or New Mexico.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: One at a time.

BUCHANAN: Look, Henry, you mentioned people all over America...

CISNEROS: Correct.

BUCHANAN: All right. 72 percent of the American people...

CISNEROS: Minnesota, North Carolina, Nebraska, lots of places.

BUCHANAN: Seventy-two percent of the American people want legal immigration rolled back. Ninety percent want English made the national language of the United States. Ninety-five percent want illegal immigration stopped cold if it means putting the American army on the border. Why not respond to the American people rather than AFL-CIO special interests or the Chamber of Commerce special interests?

CISNEROS: First of all, Pat, the AFL-CIO has traditionally been opposed to this kind of immigration, so this has nothing to do with the AFL-CIO.

BUCHANAN: But they're for legalization.

CISNEROS: And English is de facto the language of the United States. Anyone who has to get ahead in America understands they need learn English.

This is about the reality human beings who are here and working and raising their children. And, Pat, you just have to get over the differences in skin color between people who are brown and come from Mexico and people who come from other countries, because these people can build America too, just like they have been doing for 200 years in California and New Mexico and other places.

BUCHANAN: There are 28 million foreign born in the United States, 28 million. The vast majority of them are here legally. They've got the same rights as Pat Buchanan. But you cannot allow a foreign country to use your country as a dumping ground, as a flop house for its unemployed and people it can't hire and its poor who are poor because of the decisions of the Mexican government.

Someone has got to look out for the United States. Someone has got to enforce America's laws, and that's the president of the United States. And he is not doing it.

CISNEROS: That is not what is happening. Mexico is not using the U.S. as a dumping ground. The reality is that people come across borders because they are looking for work, and Americans' companies need them to work, so this has to be...

BUCHANAN: Why does the Mexican government not stop them at the American border the way it stops them at the border of Guatemala?

CISNEROS: The Mexican government is encouraging people to come back.

BUCHANAN: Good.

CISNEROS: The president actually said so. In his remarks, President Fox this week said, "I encourage Mexican brothers to come back to Mexico." But the fact of the matter is, our economy has been so...

BUCHANAN: Why can't they speed up that process since unemployment is going up in America?

BLITZER: Let me interrupt for a second. We have caller who wants to get into this conversation. Let's take a caller from Georgia.

Please go ahead with your question.

CALLER: Yes, thank you, Wolf.

Pat, will immigration be a big issue in the 2002 elections?

BUCHANAN: Immigration is going to be the major issue of this decade not only in the United States but in Western Europe, my friend, because three things are happening: One, populations are dying in the West. Secondly, countries are being overrun by immigration. Third, we've got the decomposition of countries all over Europe from England to France to Czechoslovakia.

CISNEROS: Wolf, let me speak to this for just a moment.

BLITZER: Go ahead, Secretary Cisneros.

CISNEROS: One of the things that's happening in the world is that as industrial populations age, new workers are coming to those countries. In the United States, as our traditional populations age, new workers are required. New people have to come in and bring their energies and their raw talents, and that's a good thing. We're seeing it as a way that we can see the future of America continue to be sustained.

BUCHANAN: But the truth is, Henry, we're exporting factories all over the world. There's 4,000 American factories virtually in northern Mexico. Manufacturing employment falling in the United States. Unemployment's going up. It's 9 percent among black Americans. Let's look out for Americans first.

CISNEROS: The Chamber of Commerce reported on Friday before a Senate committee that in 2008 the American economy will produce 161 million jobs but only have 154 million workers, so there's a short fall.

BUCHANAN: Well, tell them to read the headlines on Sunday.

BLITZER: All right, let me interrupt for a second.

Pat Buchanan, President Fox of Mexico addressed the joint meeting of the U.S. Congress earlier in the week, and he made a point of reminding all of us that with the exception of native Americans, we are a nation of immigrants. Listen to what President Fox said.

BUCHANAN: Sure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FOX: Many among you have a parent or a grandparent who came into this country as an immigrant from another land.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All of these illegal immigrants, aliens here in the United States, were not from Mexico, let's say, they were from Europe or Ireland. Would you have a different attitude towards them?

BUCHANAN: If they came illegally -- Wolf, if they came just to work, Wolf, what we want...

BLITZER: But if they were European ancestry as opposed to Hispanic, would that make a difference?

BUCHANAN: Look, if they're Hispanic and they've waited in line and legally they've come here and they want to be Americans like you and me, they want to learn our history, our language, our culture, they want their children to grow up to be Americans, in that case, there are as welcome as the...

BLITZER: But are you saying these Mexicans don't want their children to grow up to be Americans?

BUCHANAN: Look, they're coming up here and Fox himself says it, they're coming up here just to work. Mr. Bush says...

CISNEROS: No, wrong.

BUCHANAN: Mr. Bush says they're coming for empty jobs that nobody else would take.

CISNEROS: Wolf, yesterday afternoon...

BUCHANAN: We want immigrants who want to be Americans.

BLITZER: Secretary Cisneros, go ahead.

CISNEROS: Yesterday afternoon in the library two blocks from my house, I presided over a ceremony that had to do with adults learning English, with people learning to read, with people preparing for citizenship classes. That's what's happening in the American Southwest. This is just like the earlier immigrations of Poles and Irish and Jews and Croatians and Germans and everyone else who's come to America's shores.

BUCHANAN: Wolf, those people did not want to go home.

CISNEROS: And at an earlier time...

BUCHANAN: And Mr. Fox himself says they ought to come home after they've...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: But a lot of those immigrants, a lot of those immigrants did come over here thinking they would make some money and then go back.

BUCHANAN: But, look, if they -- look, Mr. Fox himself says these folks are here temporarily. They're good Mexicans; they're North of the border, and they're going to come home eventually. We want immigrants who want to become Americans.

BLITZER: What about guest workers?

CISNEROS: I'm with you, I'm with you on that point.

BUCHANAN: We don't need guest workers in the...

CISNEROS: We want immigrants who want to become Americans, and that's going to happen.

BUCHANAN: You've got 28 million foreign born. How many more people do you need?

BLITZER: Well apparently there are a lot of jobs out there that many native Americans don't want to take.

BUCHANAN: We have something called a free market. If they won't take them at present wages, raise their wages.

BLITZER: Secretary Cisneros, one of the key arguments made against legalizing, if you will, these illegal aliens in the United States is that, why reward those who broke the law who jumped ahead of the line, who butted into line? Why reward them by giving them this sort of status?

CISNEROS: The fact of the matter is they're not jumping ahead of the line. All we're talking about is a legalization process that puts them at the rear of the line for citizenship. They still have a five- year process that they have to go through if they want to become citizens. This doesn't make people citizens, it just takes them out of the shadowy world where they can be deported at any instance, where they can be hauled off in the middle of the day.

BUCHANAN: You're point is extremely well-taken for this reason. You're extremely well-taken for this reason. By rewarding illegal aliens with regularization and put them on the fast track to citizenship, you're making a fool out of every single decent folks in foreign countries -- Mexico, Europe, Asia, wherever -- who got in line, waited in line, who said "I want to be American." What's your rewarding is massive lawlessness. It's like a movie theater where everybody that breaks into line gets in and the folks who stood in line don't get to see the show.

CISNEROS: What we're...

BLITZER: Secretary Cisneros, we have 20 seconds. You have the last word.

CISNEROS: What we're dealing with is the reality of people on the ground in the United States. In 1986 when we had the last general amnesty, which we did, it was followed by the greatest period of economic expansion in America's history. And every analysis shows that the immigrants were part of that. They became homeowners, they bought appliances, they bought cars, they became part of the economy, and many of them, most of them, the vast majority, are becoming American citizens as soon as they can.

BUCHANAN: It was also followed by the greatest invasion in American history across our Southern border.

BLITZER: All right, you had the first word and now you had the last word.

BUCHANAN: There you go.

BLITZER: Pat Buchanan, you can't keep him quiet, Henry Cisneros.

(LAUGHTER)

CISNEROS: That doesn't surprise me.

BLITZER: Thanks to both of you for joining us. This debate will continue.

Up next, will Democratic Congressman Gary Condit decide to run for reelection? As the whispers in Washington continue, we'll consider Condit's next move with former U.S. attorney Joe DiGenova and former Clinton special counsel Lanny Davis.

LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back.

Joining us now to discuss Congressman Gary Condit's decision on his political future are two guests: Joe DiGenova, he's a former U.S. attorney; and Lanny Davis, former special counsel to President Clinton.

Gentlemen, good to have you on the program.

And, Joe, amid a flurry of speculation late last week that Congressman Condit had already decided not to seek reelection, he issued a statement that said this: "Media reports today stating that Congressman Condit has reached a decision regarding his 2002 campaign are inaccurate. No such decision has been made," his spokesman said.

What do you think he is going to do?

JOE DIGENOVA, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, I really don't know what he's going to do. He's a very strong-willed individual, obviously. He may decide to run as an independent in spite of the effort of the Democratic Party to redistrict him out of a seat and make him an unpopular type of Democrat to run in the new district.

It would be unusual, but, you know, the last few years have shown us that anything is possible in American politics. I wouldn't be surprised if he did decide to run as an independent, if not a Democrat.

BLITZER: Is it fair for the Democrats to be, in effect, railroading him and pushing him and sending him all these signals, don't run? LANNY DAVIS, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE SPECIAL COUNSEL: Well, it's really not the Democrats, it's the people in his district. The polls are overwhelmingly clear that, because of the way he's conducted himself and the way that he didn't cooperate from the outset with the investigation and certainly the way he conducted himself in that interview with Connie Chung, overwhelmingly the people in his district, as of now, are not going to reelect him. And I think he will lose in the Democratic primary. With the redistricting, he may not have a place to run in.

So at this point it's the people of his district that are telling him what to do, not the Democrats.

DIGENOVA: I think, one thing I would like to add, I think Lanny's correct. If he does run, either as a Democrat or an independent, it'll be bad for the Democrats, because he will be remembered as a Democrat, to the extent that he's remembered at all. And I think that they would prefer he not run for the obvious reason that he might become a poster child for the Democratic Party at a time when they're trying to focus on economic issues, different political issues and away from that type of scandal.

I think they're going to do everything they can to maybe help him get another job and to make his life a little easier since he is not a man of independent wealth. His life was politics, and he himself has self-inflicted a wound which has ended his career.

BLITZER: And his leaders, the governor of California, Gray Davis, a Democrat, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, Dick Gephardt, they're issuing public statements very critical of him.

DAVIS: The chairman of the California Democratic Party.

Look, this is really not a party issue here. The Democrats have distanced themselves from Gary Condit more than the Republicans have. I haven't heard Speaker Hastert say anything. I haven't heard Mr. DeLay or Mr. Armey say anything. Dick Gephardt has, and it shouldn't be viewed as a party issue.

I think Joe would probably agree with me that what this comes down to is that Gary Condit failed in a human obligation to the Levy family, to be cooperative with them. Once he did that, unless he changes that around, he's simply not a viable political candidate. And no party is going to gain or lose by that, since I think both are separating themselves from his conduct.

BLITZER: I guess a lot of Republicans are saying to themselves, with the exception of Bob Barr and a handful of others who have been quite critical of Gary Condit, that when the enemy, in this particular case the Democrats, are digging a hole, you don't have to jump in there and help them dig it.

DIGENOVA: Well, no question about that, Wolf, and the fact that Denny Hastert has said nothing about this is actually a good thing, because it did not make it a partisan issue. It was an issue for the Democrats and their caucus to decide they had a moral, legal and political obligation to do that. They have decided that he should not be in the House of Representatives. So has the governor of California, who, I must say, did, I think, the final deathblow to Mr. Condit as a Democrat. But remember, he can still run as an independent if he chooses to, even in a new district.

BLITZER: Dick Gephardt, though, did stop short of saying he should resign, shouldn't seek reelection. Listen to what Gephardt said this week when pressed by reporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DICK GEPHARDT (D-MO), MINORITY LEADER: He got elected by over a half a million people, just like I did. His political future is between him and them. It's not my business. They elected him to Congress. That's their decision, and that's the way it should be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: But, Lanny Davis, it is Gephardt's decision whether Condit should serve on the House Intelligence Committee, which deals with the top secrets of the United States. Gephardt can easily remove him from that committee.

DAVIS: Well, first of all, I agree with Congressman Gephardt about telling somebody whether to resign or not. And I do think the answer has already been delivered by his constituents, unless he reverses course.

Secondly, on the Intelligence Committee, I don't quite see the need for him to resign from the Intelligence Committee. The notion that he's going to be blackmailed just doesn't pass muster with me. There are lots of people with skeletons in their closet who may or may not serve on the Intelligence Committee.

DAVIS: I think Dick Gephardt has handled this exactly right. If the Democrats in the caucus believe that there's a clinical liability for him being on the Intelligence Committee, they'll make that collective judgment. But I don't think it's up to Dick Gephardt to decide unilaterally.

BLITZER: Joe DiGenova, you're a former U.S. attorney, you've dealt with some of the nation's most sensitive information, top secrets. Should Gary Condit be privy to that kind of information right now?

DIGENOVA: No, I don't believe so. He is not non-blackmailable at this point. In fact, he has been criticized by Lanny for not being forthcoming, for not cooperating fully, for not fully disclosing all the information. Unless and until he rids himself of this cloud of not cooperating and not telling the truth, continuing to hide information, he remains blackmailable.

Now, it is Dick Gephardt's decision whether or not he stays on the Intelligence Committee. The leadership in each party decides who serves on that committee. The Democratic leadership will have to decide whether or not he should stay there.

The real problem they face is that people in the Intelligence Community who come up and testify before that committee may advise the committee that if he is there, they will have trouble giving certain types of information to the committee and will not share it with them if he is present. That is the danger here, is that the executive branch may feel it necessary to withhold certain information from the committees because of his presence. There's no indication that that has happened yet. But it remains a live option for the executive branch as long as he's there.

BLITZER: Lanny Davis, Cadee Condit, the young daughter, the 26- year-old, 25 or 26-year-old daughter of Congressman Condit, was on Larry King Live earlier this week. I want you to listen to what she said about her father. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CADEE CONDIT, GARY CONDIT'S DAUGHTER: I think there's just a bandwagon to bash Gary Condit when he's down. You know, I don't understand why the governor or Mr. Gephardt are so interested in my dad coming forward about intimate details of his relationships.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Why is Gephardt and Gray Davis, the governor of California, so interested in forcing Gary Condit to discuss openly with Connie Chung or some other reporter intimate details of the nature of his relationship with Chandra Levy?

DAVIS: First of all, as a father, if I had children -- that Gary Condit. He certainly has done something right in raising those two children to be as loving and loyal as they are. And I only have the greatest sympathy and admiration for both of them in the way they were interviewed.

But you just heard really the red herring that is untrue. We're not asking for intimate details, which is what the young lady said, or which Gary Condit says, the details. All we want is an acknowledgement that he had the affair, and a lie detector test administered by a third party.

BLITZER: But didn't he acknowledge that he had affair effectively?

DAVIS: No he didn't, and the reason he didn't is absolutely incomprehensible to me. He hid behind not wanting to get into details. Nobody wants him to get into details. People want him to say the truth and then take a lie detector test administered by the FBI. If he had done those two things, he would have been far better off.

BLITZER: Those people, Joe DiGenova, point out that he did basically what Bill Clinton did in that 60 Minutes interview, he admitted that he had made mistakes. His marriage was not perfect, which were code words: yes, he was fooling around. DIGENOVA: But he is not Bill Clinton. He's not the president of the United States in whom people repose a certain level of forgiveness which they don't give to a congressman that they've never met before until a scandal.

Mr. Condit, did not do what Lanny said he should have done, which was simply admit the relationship; refuse to discuss details but confirm that it was an intimate one and that he should have cooperated more fully.

The reason that Gray Davis and Dick Gephardt did what they did was very simple: They looked at those polls after the Connie Chung interview, and their response was already written for them.

I find it fascinating, by the way, that when Dick Gephardt reacted, he was in St. Louis, in his home district, in his home state. He was not in Washington, D.C. Those polls came out, which were so damning of Gary Condit, happened when Mr. Gephardt was at home in Missouri. It was a little more difficult for the minority leader in the House not to come down hard, but he really didn't have any choice and neither did Gray Davis. Those numbers were staggering, 90 percent of the people did not believe him.

BLITZER: Why are you laughing?

DAVIS: Wolf, I honestly don't see this as a political matter. My good friend, Joe DiGenova, has put it into a political perspective by saying that. For me, Dick Gephardt reacted the same way that I did watching the television, screaming at that television, "Tell the truth and get this behind you, Congressman Condit." I think most Americans reacted the way Dick Gephardt and Gray Davis did.

DIGENOVA: I actually was not being critical of Congressman Gephardt. I was saying that he was faced with a compelling reality, which was, if they did not say something about Gary Condit that was least a little bit more negative than the Democrats had been treating him, they were going to look complicit in his cover-up.

The Democrats could not afford to be in the position to look as if they were condoning an obstruction of justice. And that's exactly -- by the way, God bless them for finally having realized they should have said something.

DAVIS: God bless them, I agree with you.

DIGENOVA: Yes, I'm all for them. Congratulations, they've won a prize.

BLITZER: Joe DiGenova and Lanny Davis, thanks for joining us.

DIGENOVA: Thank you.

BLITZER: And thank you.

And up next, President Bush has had a very busy week -- his first state dinner, budget battles and a gloomy economy on the horizon. We'll go 'round the table on that and more with Jake Tapper, Susan Page and Christopher Caldwell.

LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back.

Time now for our LATE EDITION roundtable. Joining me: Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for USA Today; Jake Tapper, Washington correspondent for salon.com and the host of CNN's "TAKE FIVE"; and Christopher Caldwell, senior writer for the Weekly Standard. He's also a panelist on Take Five, which of course airs Saturday nights, 8:30 p.m. Eastern. We watch it every Saturday night.

JALE TAPPER, CO-HOST, "TAKE FIVE": I love that. Thank you very much.

BLITZER: All right, we've got promotion. You're not here just for anything.

SUSAN PAGE, "USA TODAY": They should put you on their show so you can talk about LATE EDITION.

BLITZER: No, I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Let's talk about Hillary Rodham Clinton. She came out this week and spoke very, very aggressively against the Bush administration, President Bush, the economic problems the country's facing right now. Let's run a little sound clip from what Mrs. Clinton had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), NEW YORK: His staff has said that he will focus like a laser beam on the economy. But so far, the laser beam from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue has only succeeded in vaporizing the surplus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Is this a new chapter in Senator Clinton's coming out, if you will, becoming more public in her fight against the Bush administration?

TAPPER: I think it is, and it's also -- all the Democrats in the Senate got together on Thursday to decide how they're going to deal with the problem of the vanishing surplus. And, you know, the liberals want to spend more, and the conservatives, you know, have more fiscally restraining solutions to the problem.

The one thing they could agree on: Blame it on Bush, and put the ball in his court. And so, this a safe way for Hillary Clinton to come out and put the spot on the White House. BLITZER: Smart politics for the Democrats to put her out on front? I guess some have suggested, Ron Brownstein of the "Los Angeles Times" suggested, that maybe this will remind people that, during the eight years of the Clinton administration, the economic times were relatively good.

CHRISTOPHER CALDWELL, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": That's right. And there's another thing that I think Democrats have agreed on strategically, is that they think that this big 10-year tax cut is still in play. And everything you say -- everything they say, and you heard it with Chris Dodd on your own show today, is aimed at getting a rescinding of some of those larger structural cuts, particularly the estate tax cut and some of the high- income bracket cuts, in the out- years. And that's their ultimate goal.

BLITZER: I want to pick up that in a second, but, Susan, what's your take on the new posture, if you will, if there is a new posture, of Senator Clinton, the junior senator from New York?

PAGE: Well, you know, she had that very rough start, you remember, those terrible early days when she was having to deal with questions about her husband's pardons. But I think she has now truly begun to come into her own. We can say Senator Clinton, and we think of her. We talk about Clinton in Washington, and we think of her rather than her husband.

And, you know, she is the leading spokesman for a faction of the Democratic Party, definitely going to be a player.

You know, another thing she said this week that got some attention, she was asked about Al Gore and his presidential campaign and pointedly did not make warm and friendly noises about it. So she's definitely one of the leading Democrats in the country, and we expect her to speak out on these and other issues

BLITZER: And maybe she'll start doing some national TV interviews at some point as well. I'm not holding my breath.

All right, let's talk about the Bush strategy in dealing with the shrinking budget surplus. He spoke out about the economy earlier in the week. Listen to what he had to say on Friday when he made the statement with Senator Lott, the Republican leader in the Senate, Speaker Hastert and Dick Cheney alongside. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: The unemployment numbers today are evidence that I've seen firsthand as I've traveled the country, and that is, too many people are losing their jobs as a result of a slowdown that began when Dick and I were campaigning across our country last summer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Now, he's inoculating, at least trying to inoculate himself, by suggesting, well, the economy began to deteriorate when Bill Clinton was in the White House more than a year ago. TAPPER: He sure is. But he's also inoculating himself against his father's problems. Back in '91 and '92, when his father, you might remember, took a long time to even acknowledge that there was a recession, did not know, you know, what a supermarket scanner was. Here is Bush saying that there is a problem, he's very aware of it and he's very aware of it because he's out there with the real people.

But I do think that I'm not really a fan of the way the Democrats are putting the White House on the spot and not offering their own solutions to this problem. But I'm not a fan the White House's refusal to acknowledge that they are dipping into the Social Security surplus, perhaps even more so than projected.

BLITZER: On the supermarket scanner, there's still a huge debate whether or not President Bush at that time...

PAGE: I was actually there...

BLITZER: You were...

PAGE: ... and I think that's a misrepresentation of what happened.

TAPPER: Is that right? OK.

PAGE: Yes, I think he was amazed at this new generation of supermarket scanner. This is something you engage officials from the first Bush administration on at some length, but it...

BLITZER: And I've been engaged on that...

TAPPER: I shouldn't -- I'm sorry, I trusted the media.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: And I should know better.

BLITZER: Actually, I believe it was a "New York Times" story that supposedly got it all wrong. You probably made the mistake of reading the "New York Times."

TAPPER: I'm sorry, I apologize.

BLITZER: At that point, can he inoculate himself, getting back to the economic problems, the surplus problems, if he has to dip even a little bit into the Social Security surplus fund? Will it be like his father "Read my lips, no new taxes," a betrayal of public statements that he made?

CALDWELL: I don't think so. But there are two different strategies being contemplated in the White House now. One was the one Domenici brought forward today, or this week, in saying, "This trust fund is an accounting fiction. If we want to spend it on education, we can spend on education."

The other is the more aggressive supply-side approach of the sort that I think that OMB Director Mitch Daniels likes, of talking about a capital gains cut.

But until Bush decides on an approach, he is going to bide his time and he's going to look a little bit weak. But I think ultimately he can survive this.

BLITZER: Were you surprised today to hear Senator Lott say, in addition to a capital gains tax, which he loves, also, he would support a cut in payroll taxes, which would affect, obviously, lower- income Americans.

PAGE: First of all, I'd like to know who in America has capital gains to tax at the moment?

(LAUGHTER)

PAGE: But, you know, I think this is something you heard Republicans begin to talk about a cut in payroll taxes. It would be very popular. Even that quarter of Americans who don't pay income taxes and didn't get anything back from that first rebate would get some benefit from a payroll tax cut. I think it's very interesting, Republicans putting that forward, because it goes to the great mass of Americans as opposed to capital gains tax cut, which of course, goes mostly to the very richest Americans.

BLITZER: We're going to take a quick break. More of our roundtable when LATE EDITION continues. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to the roundtable.

Chris, Phil Gramm, the Republican senator from Texas, announced this week he's not going to seek reelection. Earlier Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, Jesse Helms, another Republican senator from North Carolina announced their not going to seek reelection. There are more Republicans who are up for grabs in 2002 than Democrats. It's a major uphill struggle for the Republicans to regain the majority in the Senate.

CALDWELL: Oh, it sure is, and it doesn't look likely.

But these three particular seats, the way they're shaking out, don't look like they're going to cause too many problems for the Republicans. In South Carolina, you've got Lindsey Graham, a strong candidate, wants this, has raised a lot of money. North Carolina Republicans have three strong candidates including Libby Dole. And in Texas, the Democratic Party remains in disarray. I think in the governor's race their top candidate, Tony Sanchez, is only polling at 23 percent against Rick Perry.

So Republicans should keep these, but it is a real uphill battle in the Senate.

BLITZER: But, I believe, Susan, correct me if I'm wrong, there is a Democrat governor in North Carolina, a Democratic governor in South Carolina, a Republican governor in Texas. If the economy continues to stumble between now and November 2002, those Republican seats could be vulnerable as well.

PAGE: Well, you know, I think Democrats think South Carolina is probably off the table. But in North Carolina, what if Elizabeth Dole turns out not to be such a good candidate? They might have some hopes there.

And there are some reasonably credible Democratic possibilities in Texas. There's Dan Morales, the former attorney general. There's Ken Bentson, the nephew of the former senator Lloyd Bentson from Texas.

You know, one the interesting things to look at in the Texas race is we could have the first Hispanic senator in U.S. history. Henry Bonilla, the congressman from San Antonio is the leading Republican candidate. Dan Morales on the Democratic side, also Hispanic. So that could a groundbreaking kind of contest.

BLITZER: A lot of people, Jake, are looking at Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee, who's a Republican. He's supposedly undecided on whether to seek reelection.

If you're a Republican senator and you think you're going to be in the minority next time around after the election of 2002, that might not make the job as attractive as if you're going to be a chairman and be in the majority.

TAPPER: I think that's exactly right. I think that's one of the reasons why Phil Gramm, I'm sure, resigned. You know, one of the interesting things about the Texas race is they are actually, the White House and some Republicans of Texas, trying to get Phil Gramm to resign before his term's expired so that Henry Bonilla or some other Republican, attractive Republican, who does not have a statewide reputation yet, can be appointed by the Republican governor to that seat. And that shows you that they might be a little more worried about keeping that seat that otherwise you'd think.

PAGE: And, you know, they also could make this happen by either giving Phil Gramm a top job at Texas A&M or by appointing him chairman of the Fed if that job came open, which of course it's not. But those are both jobs that I think Phil Gramm would leave the Senate for.

BLITZER: A lot of speculation if he could succeed Alan Greenspan as chairman of the Fed.

Christopher, this week Janet Reno made it official. She's going to run for governor against Jeb Bush in Florida. She's got to get the Democratic nomination first.

Do you think there's a serious problem standing in the way of her capturing that Democratic nomination?

CALDWELL: No, because of the way the Florida primary works. They have one of these no-run-off primaries, which means you can win a primary with four candidates with only a plurality of the vote. And such primaries tend to favor the most famous person in them. I think ultimately Pete Peterson, the former Vietnam ambassador and former POW, would be a stronger candidate, particularly in North Florida which behaves like a southern state. But I think that Reno has to have the inside track for the primary nomination.

BLITZER: And he's from the northern part of Florida.

What do you think? Janet Reno's got a chance of becoming governor of Florida?

TAPPER: She has a chance just because Jeb Bush is not an overwhelmingly powerful governor and because obviously the contested election from last year, there are a lot of Democrats, rank and file Democrats, who are very angry still and will continue to be.

The Democrats in Florida running a huge nationwide soft money campaign for the first time in the state's history, the same way that the New York Democrats did for Hillary.

I have to say, though, that I know that Senator Graham, the Democratic senator from Florida, told another senator who shared with me off the record that they were trying to talk Reno out of running. And they were obviously not able to do that.

BLITZER: A lot of people can't talk Reno out of anything. When she makes her mind up, she does it.

PAGE: As Bill Clinton found out.

You know, the one thing I'd say about this, though, is I certainly think Janet Reno would win the primary if the primary were tomorrow. But it's not. It's a year away. It's September of next year. And that's a lot of time to find out if she's a vigorous candidate, if she's a compelling candidate. It gets time for Democrats to get behind some alternative like Pete Peterson. So I'm not sure how that primary comes out. It's just too far away to be very confident about it.

BLITZER: OK. Susan, Christopher, Jake, thanks for joining us.

CALDWELL: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: It goes quickly, doesn't it?

CALDWELL: It's very quick.

BLITZER: When you're having fun.

Up next, Bruce Morton's "Last Word."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Taxation without representation is one of the things the Americans fought the British over back during the revolution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Fighting for a basic right in the nation's capital. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Time now for Bruce Morton's "Last Word" on taxation without representation right here in the nation's capitol.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MORTON (voice-over): The people who live in the District of Columbia aren't really Americans. They can get U.S. passports, sure. But, in fact, they live in a colony without the rights real Americans have.

They can vote for president once every four years. They elect a mayor, though Congress can overrule anything he does. They don't have senators or congressmen. They have a non-voting delegate in the House, but making deals for votes is often how the House does business. And if you don't have a vote, you can't play.

So Parisians vote in France, Londoners in Britain. Washingtonians, no. Puerto Ricans -- that's another colony -- can't vote either. But because they're a colony, they don't have to pay federal income tax. The District though, gets the worst of both worlds: No vote buddy, but here's your bill from the IRS.

Taxation without representation is one of the things the Americans fought the British over back during the revolution. Now it's on the District's license plates, a much milder protest.

Why no representation in Congress? The usual reasons are, in no particular order: too Democratic, too black, too liberal.

President Bush, a Republican, opposes representation for the District.

This is about politics, not right and wrong. Asking a Republican president to put two more Democrats in a closely divided Senate is about like asking him to poke himself in the eye with a sharp stick.

Once, back in 1978, a Democratic president and Congress, the House and Senate approved a constitutional amendment giving the District representation. Even Republicans like Barry Goldwater were for it. But it needed the approval of two-thirds of the states as well, and didn't get it.

Could a simple law give the District representation? Maybe, but it certainly won't pass this Congress. Could you make the District a state? Yes, it wouldn't even be the smallest in population. More people than Wyoming; almost as many as Vermont. But that won't happen either.

Or you could let D.C. residents vote in Maryland. It would gain an extra House seat probably, and D.C. residents would vote in the Maryland Senate races. But D.C. political leaders don't like that idea. They want their own turf. And maybe the Maryland legislature wouldn't want another big city in the state either.

So, no congressmen, no senators, no vote. And not that much anger. People aren't chaining themselves to the White House fence or marching. We don't like it, but we live with it. Probably we should get angrier about it.

I'm Bruce Morton.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Thank you, Bruce.

Now it's time for you to have "The Last Word." Many viewers continue to express their opinions about Democratic Congressman Gary Condit.

Becky from Glenwood Springs, Colorado, writes this: "I would like to see Gary Condit answer a grand jury. It may be the closest thing to the truth we'll have."

But Richard from Tinton Falls, New Jersey, disagrees: "I cannot understand why the media does not leave him alone and leave the investigation on her disappearance to the Washington, D.C., police. It is a political effort to destroy Mr. Condit."

And responding to our segment on the budget last week, Enid from Carmel, California, says, "The Republican campaign tactic of projecting a slowing economy has produced just that, by instilling an element of fear in the minds of the people thereby causing loss of consumer confidence."

As always, we welcome your comments. You can e-mail me at LATEEDITION@CNN.com. Don't forget to sign up for my free weekly e- mail at CNN.com/email.

Just ahead, we'll show you what's on the cover of this week's major news magazines. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: And now a look at what's on the cover of this week's major news magazines.

"Newsweek" reveals the secret vote that made Bush president: The untold story of the Supreme Court's five-to-four ruling, with a picture of the man that was declared the winner, President George W. Bush, on the cover.

"TIME" magazine asks, is this man the next Billy Graham, with the galvanizing preacher T.D. Jakes on the cover.

And on the cover of "U.S. News and World Report": "America's best colleges: Inside the admissions game, a guide to getting in." And that's your LATE EDITION for Sunday, September 9. Please join us again next Sunday and every Sunday at noon Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk.

And if you missed any of today's program, tune in tonight, 7:00 p.m. Eastern, for our one-hour replay of LATE EDITION.

I'll see you tomorrow night, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, on Wolf Blitzer Reports. Until then, thanks very much for watching. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

 Search   


Back to the top