Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
President Obama's Stem Cell Research Reversal; Hillary Clinton Hits Reset Button With Russia
Aired March 6, 2009 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now: President Obama is set to give new hope to the sick and stir anger on the right, a big change in the works right now involving embryonic stem cell research.
Also, the jobless rate hits an astounding 25-year high. Which Americans are hurting the most? We're breaking it down for you.
And Hillary Clinton presses the reset button on U.S. relations with Russia and makes quite a show of it, but her message gets lost in translation -- all that and the best political team on television.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Most Americans aren't old enough to ever have experienced a job market as bad as this one, the unemployment rate skyrocketing to 8.1 percent last month, the highest level in a quarter-century. Right now, 12.5 million Americans are out of work, the most since records started being kept back in 1940.
President Obama went to Columbus, Ohio, today to offer his economic stimulus package at least a ray of hope for those who are suffering.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So for those who still doubt the wisdom of our recovery plan, I ask them to talk to the teachers who are still able to teach our children because we passed this plan. I ask them to talk to the nurses who are still able to care for our sick and the firefighters and first responders who are still able to keep our communities safe. I ask them to come to Ohio and meet the 25 men and women who will soon be protecting the streets of Columbus because we passed this plan.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's go to our chief business correspondent, Ali Velshi. He's ready to break down these unemployment numbers for us.
It's not as simple as it looks, Ali. ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: No.
It breaks down many ways, but let's just take a look at the unemployment rate, which you mentioned, 8.1 percent. At the beginning of this recession, December of 2007, the unemployment rate in this country was 4.9 percent. It stayed steady that way until about March. Then it started ticking up. Take a look at this.
Once you get to October, once that credit crisis started hitting, companies couldn't make some of their payments, they started laying off people. Look at that, 6.6, 7.2, all of the sudden, 8.1 percent. And that's how it breaks down totally.
Let's break it down by age. You have got adults with a much lower unemployment rate than teenagers have. Adult women have an unemployment rate of 6.7 percent, adult males, 8.1 percent. But take a look at teenagers, Wolf. This has been a problem for a long time, people looking for work at an early age, 21.6 percent, big problem for young people looking for work -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Certainly is.
Break it down for us by industries, as far as unemployment is concerned.
VELSHI: OK. Again, a similar story through what we have seen for over a year, the number-one area of job losses in this country, manufacturing jobs. We are just shutting down factory lines across the country, 168,000 jobs lost in manufacturing, 104,000 in construction, because we haven't been building any new homes because we can't get rid of them fast enough, even retail losing 40,000 jobs, Wolf.
Government adding 9,000 jobs, that's a trend we have seen, and health care adding 27,000, health care the only private sector industry that added jobs in February -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And, finally, Ali, break it down by race and ethnicity.
VELSHI: OK. And this is, again, another trend we have seen not entirely to do with the recession. But it's a trend we have seen for awhile.
Asians have a lower unemployment rate than the normal -- than the regular population of 6.9 percent vs. 8.1 percent. Whites have a 7.3 unemployment rate again vs. the national average of 8.1 percent. Hispanics have a higher-than-average unemployment rate, 10.9 percent.
And look at the situation with blacks in America, 13.4 percent unemployment. These are trends that we have seen long before this recession started. But you can see that, as it goes on, there are some groups that are hit disproportionately -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Ali Velshi, thanks very much.
This important note to our viewers. Ali's going to be hosting another edition of the CNN Money Summit tonight 10:00 p.m. Eastern. The CNN Money Summit will take the pulse of the real economy and how it feels to you, 10:00 p.m. Eastern tonight only here on CNN.
The accused swindler Bernard Madoff may be ready to make a plea deal. Madoff is accused of defrauding investors out of some $50 billion. His lawyer now says Madoff waived his right to a grand jury indictment.
Also, CNN has learned a court filing from January showed attorneys and prosecutors were discussing a possible, possible settlement.
We have just learned that President Obama is only days away from overturning one of the most hotly debated policies of the past Bush administration. That would be President Bush's executive order in 2001 limiting federal tax dollars for embryonic stem cell research.
Let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry. He broke the story earlier here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Ed, tell us what's going on.
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, what the president is going to do with this executive order is overturn specifically an executive order that President Bush, former President Bush, signed in the summer of 2001.
It basically limited federal funding on embryonic stem cell research to 60 existing stem cell lines. Now that's going to be overturned with his executive order Monday. It's going to be hailed by a lot of the president's supporters who believe this could lead to all kinds of breakthroughs in research to deal with Parkinson's disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, et cetera.
But a lot of conservative are already coming out. They are upset because they believe destroying an embryo is essentially destroying human life. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council just put out a statement in the last half-hour, accusing the White House of leaking this out on Friday night, so that it gets very little attention. You can guarantee this is going to reignite a big debate on Monday -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And you're also working another story, the possibility that the president may nominate former Governor Howard Dean of Vermont, the former chairman of the DNC, to become the nation's surgeon general.
HENRY: This all coming about of course because CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta has taken himself out of the running for surgeon general.
Two Democrats close to Howard Dean say that, privately, he's expressed an interest in this job. We know that he publicly said he was interested in being health and human services secretary. He did not get that job. What is most interesting is that two White House officials here say that, while they do not have an official list yet, it's still early, since Sanjay Gupta just pulled out, they're not dismissing the notion that Howard Dean could be considered, despite the fact that he had a feud, as you know, back in 2006 with the White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.
A third person close to Howard Dean just called me and insisted, though, that Howard Dean has not been contacted officially by the White House and has previously said he's not interested in the surgeon general job. We will see if the president reaches out, whether he would be interested this time -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Hard for these kind of political leaders to say no to a president of the United States, if asked.
All right, thanks very much, Ed Henry, doing some good reporting for us at the White House.
Let's go to Jack Cafferty. He has "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: President Obama is warning critics of health care reform -- quote -- "The status quo is the one option that is not on the table" -- unquote.
During a health care summit at the White House, the president vowed that he will listen to anybody who has a good idea, there will be no sacred cows, and that anybody who tries to block health care reform will not succeed this time around.
Mr. Obama seems to promise a more open and inclusive push for expanded health care than the failed effort of the Clinton administration 15 years ago. Although he wants coverage for all Americans, the president suggested that he's open to compromise.
In the '90s, President Clinton had promised to veto any measure that didn't give him exactly what he wanted. Back then, you will recall Hillary Clinton led a secret effort that was mostly written by the White House with little input from lawmakers or other public interest groups, and it was eventually roundly rejected.
However, President Obama's making a public show of consulting with a wide range of people right from the start. He's setting a strict timeline. He says the U.S. has 48 million uninsured people, the world's most expensive health care system. And aides say the president's determined to get health care reform passed this year.
Democratic leaders say they hope to pass a bill by the end of the summer, but it won't be easy. There are so many interests involved, from patients, to doctors, labor unions, the drug companies, insurance companies, and, of course, lawmakers, those especially who are up for reelection next year.
Here's the question: How can President Obama succeed where Hillary Clinton failed when it comes to health care reform?
Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile. Post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.
If he gets this done, wow, big, big accomplishment. BLITZER: As he pointed out, they have been trying to do this since Teddy Roosevelt -- not Franklin Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt. So, it goes back a long time.
BLITZER: Jack, thank you.
For and against -- some lawmakers hold up one hand to protest wasteful spending, while holding out the other hand to secure government money for their states. Is your senator one of them? We're checking.
And it may look like one of those so-called easy buttons, but will it be easy for the U.S. and Russia to restart strong relations, especially when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's gesture seems to get lost in translation?
And a secret report makes some shocking claims about Afghanistan, echoed by people who know the country well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARY BERNTSEN, AUTHOR, "JAWBREAKER: THE ATTACK ON BIN LADEN AND AL QAEDA": Seven years into this conflict, and they have trained almost no one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: An accused al Qaeda sleeper agent cannot appeal his imprisonment. The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed Ali al-Marri's appeal.
He's the only remaining accused enemy combatant held in the United States. He's been in a military jail since 2003. Al-Marri challenged America's right to hold him indefinitely without charges. But, last week, he was indicted on conspiracy charges. The president requested the case be moved to a civilian court, making the appeal moot.
A new report claims U.S. intelligence failures are hurting the fight against insurgents in Afghanistan.
Let's bring in our Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence. He's had access. He's got information on what's in this report. And it's pretty shocking.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf.
And if intelligence is really the foundation of any good war strategy, this report suggests that American combat in Afghanistan may be on shaky ground.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): It's a picture of U.S. intelligence that raises serious questions about America's combat mission in Afghanistan.
Prepared by the RAND Corporation for the military, the report was leaked and posted online. Based on interviews with coalition officials, it describes missions that alienate more Afghans than kill enemies, and says the U.S. military often doesn't share information with allies.
One officer says there were more than a dozen intelligence sections at one camp -- quote -- "It would have been helpful to have combined them. Then we would have known everything. One section knew the location of an IED factory, and we drove by it for three months."
But some analysts say that has more to do with the size of the coalition, not a wholesale unwillingness to pass intelligence.
ROBERT GRENIER, MANAGING DIRECTOR, KROLL: There are certain things that can be shared with some countries and not others.
LAWRENCE: Robert Grenier ran the CIA's Counterterrorism Center. Former CIA official Gary Berntsen spent a lot of last year in Afghanistan. He says sharing isn't the issue.
BERNTSEN: The problem is, the collection of intelligence.
LAWRENCE: He says the language barrier is destroying intelligence efforts.
BERNTSEN: The reality is, we're not fighting in Afghanistan or Pakistan. We're fighting in Pashtunistan. And the United States government must start training people in this language. It's amazing that we're seven years into this conflict, and they have trained almost no one.
LAWRENCE: The report says the U.S. military is often at the mercy of worthless intelligence.
GRENIER: Afghans are very, very clever at peddling information to whoever is there to buy it.
LAWRENCE: Grenier says too many inexperienced troops believe junk tips, like one tribe tells the U.S. another tribe is close with al Qaeda, when it's just a lie based on vendettas.
GRENIER: And, frankly, it requires people who have spent enough time there, gained enough experience on the ground to recognize what's being done to them.
LAWRENCE: And as President Obama sends more troop to Afghanistan, success could come down to having not just numbers, but the kind of well-trained, experienced troops and translators that produce good intelligence -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Intelligence is so important in all these conflicts. All right, thanks very much, our Chris Lawrence, for that report.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is laying some groundwork right now to try to repair U.S. relations with Russia. But her attempt at humor fell a little short.
Our foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty, is traveling with the secretary -- Jill.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, just a couple of months ago, things were looking pretty bad in relations with Russia. Now the first high-level meeting aimed at turning that around.
(voice-over): The U.S. secretary of state gives the Russian foreign minister a gift, a reset button to symbolize a new start in U.S./Russian relations. Only one problem: The message gets lost in translation.
SERGEI LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: You got it wrong.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I got it wrong.
LAVROV: It should be perezagruzka.
LAVROV: And this says peregruzka, which means overcharged.
DOUGHERTY: Well, it's the thought that counts. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says, in some areas, there's great potential for cooperation.
CLINTON: I appreciated greatly the openness and willingness that Minister Lavrov had to discuss any and all issues. Nothing was off the table.
DOUGHERTY: Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is cautiously optimistic.
LAVROV (through translator): I'm confident that, in the near future, we will try and arrive at some agreements, some results, which would enable us to bring closer political and diplomatic solution to such things.
DOUGHERTY: The U.S.-Russian relationship crashed last year, after Russia invaded Georgia. And there are still hot spots. The U.S. accuses Moscow of using energy as a political weapon and of trying to call the shots in its neighborhood. Russia objects to U.S. support for giving NATO membership to Georgia and Ukraine and opposes U.S. plans to install a missile defense system near Russia's border. Moscow sees it as a threat. The U.S. says the system is aimed at possible missile attacks from countries like Iran.
A senior U.S. official says there now may be a shift in Moscow's thinking on this. And, he says, it's easy to forget how many places Russia can play a role on things that matter to the United States, either positively or negatively.
(on camera): The dinner here in Geneva sets the stage for the next chapter in pressing the reset button, an April meeting at the G- 20 summit in London between President Obama and President Medvedev -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jill, thanks very much -- Jill Dougherty reporting for us.
Please be sure to watch THE SITUATION ROOM tomorrow, Saturday. The former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is among our guests. He talks about Iran's nuclear ambitions and Russia's role in helping the U.S. deal with Iran, tomorrow, 6:00 p.m. Eastern, THE SITUATION ROOM.
President Obama hits back at critics who call his recovery plan unnecessary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I also know that this country has never responded to a crisis by sitting on the sidelines and hoping for the best.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You're about to hear the president speak at length about this worst jobless rate in a generation.
Plus, Republican leaders railing against what they call the wasteful budget bill. So, why did they load it up with their own pet projects? And which Democrat did the same thing?
And no longer at risk in the Rockies -- a once endangered animal making a comeback.
Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Congress was forced today to pass a temporary spending bill to keep the government running for five more days. That's because a sweeping measure to fund federal agencies for the rest of the fiscal year is stuck in the Senate. Republicans put the brakes on the bill, complaining it's simply filled with thousands of pet projects. But do they share -- we're talking about the Republicans -- do they share some of the blame?
Let's go to our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash. She's checking the numbers.
Dana, what's going on?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it certainly was an embarrassment for Democratic leaders in the Senate to have to abruptly stop or delay this spending bill because they didn't have the votes. But the reality is that Republicans have been pretty successful in painting this as a wasteful spending bill filled with pork barrel projects. But you know what? It's not just Democrats who have these earmarks.
BASH (voice-over): Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell rails against the $410 billion spending spree of taxpayer money.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: It strikes us that we're on a spending spree of gargantuan proportions here.
BASH: Yet inside the spending bill, McConnell asks for 53 earmarks totaling $75 million for his home state of Kentucky, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a budget watchdog group. A spokesman for McConnell says the requests were made last year, and notes he voted for an amendment to strike all earmarks, which failed. But McConnell just won a tough reelection battle, campaigning in part on bringing home the bacon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
NARRATOR: Mitch McConnell is helping build a new Kentucky, securing $280 million for Kentucky universities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: The second ranking Senate Republican, Jon Kyl, has been slamming the spending bill, too, even saying this during debate...
SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: I was surprised to learn that this bill includes earmarks totaling about $7.7 billion, 8,750 earmarks, allegedly.
BASH: But some of those earmarks, $25 million worth, were his requests, like $4.2 million for a bypass at the Hoover Dam. Though Kyl's name is next to that earmark and nine others in the bill, a Kyl spokesman insists they're not earmarks because Congress has already approved the projects.
BASH: As for Democrats, most defend the spending bill, saying it increases funding for projects and programs cut by President Bush. But Democrat Evan Bayh broke with his party, arguing this: SEN. EVAN BAYH (D), INDIANA: We have got to economize and cut back a little bit. And with these projects, surely we have a moratorium for a year or two until the economy turns around.
BASH: Yet, he has nearly $15 million in earmarks in this bill. A Bayh spokesman tells CNN he, too, voted for an amendment to strip all earmarks out, but it failed.
BASH: Now, both Bayh and Republican senators argue it's not even the earmarks that they have a problem with; it is that there is a big increase in spending overall in this bill. In fact, it increases spending by about 8 percent in general for government agencies. They point out that that is a lot more than inflation at this point -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Dana Bash looking at all the numbers for us -- thank you, Dana.
At a time when so many companies are laying off workers in droves, how do you find a firm that's actually hiring? Stand by. We have some important tips for you.
And a vote of no confidence in the treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner -- why frustrated day traders are betting he will be jobless by the end of the year.
And President Obama talks at length about the astounding unemployment rate and what he's doing about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Thank you very much. We have a responsibility to act, and that's what I intend to do as president of the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now: A month after pancreatic cancer surgery, the Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she will be around awhile. She told "USA Today" she returned to work quickly to show she's alive and well. And we hope she stays that way for a long time.
Gray wolves are now off the endangered species list in some regions. The interior secretary says gray wolves are no longer at risk in the Northern Rockies and the Great Lakes. That's great for the wolves.
And the father of an Oakland Raiders player missing at sea says he will stop searching for his son. Marquis Cooper was on a fishing boat that capsized off Florida. His father says it's time to start healing.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Let's get back to our top story. President Obama is not happy with the dismal new jobs -- job numbers and defends the economic stimulus plan as helping to reverse the job loss tide.
Let's get some more on what's going on. The president spoke to a graduation ceremony for new cadets in Columbus, Ohio. He says some of them have jobs directly right now because of the stimulus plan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: You know, just this morning, we learned that we lost another 651,000 jobs throughout the country in the month of February alone which brings the total number of jobs lost in this recession to an astounding 4. 4 million -- 4.4 million jobs.
I don't need to tell the people of this state what statistics like this mean because so many of you have been watching the jobs disappearing long before this recession hit. I don't need to tell this graduating class what it's like to know that your job might be next because, up until a few weeks ago, that is precisely the future that this class faced, a future that millions of Americans still face right now.
Well, that is not a future I accept for the United States of America.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: That is why...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: That is why I signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law.
OBAMA: Now, there were those -- there were those who argued that our recovery plan was unwise and unnecessary. They opposed the necessary notion that government has a role in ending the cycle of job loss at the heart of this recession. There are those who believe that all we can do is repeat the very same policies that led us here in the first place.
But I also know that this country has never responded to a crisis by sitting on the sidelines and hoping for the best. I know that throughout our history, we have met every great challenge with bold action and big ideas. That's what's fueled a shared and lasting prosperity.
And I know that at this defining moment for America, we have a responsibility to ourselves and to our children to do it once again. We have a responsibility to act. And that's what I intend to do as president of the United States of America.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: So for those who still doubt the wisdom of our recovery plan, I ask them to talk to the teachers who are still able to teach our children because we passed this plan. I ask them to talk to the nurses who are still able to care for our sick and the firefighters and first responders who are still able to keep our communities safe. I ask them to come to Ohio and meet the 25 men and women who will soon be protecting the streets of Columbus because we passed this plan.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And the president also reiterated his argument on what the economic plan will do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: All together, this recovery plan will save and create over three and a half million American jobs over the next two years. Because of this plan, those who have lost their jobs in this recession will be able to receive extended unemployment benefits and continued health care coverage.
Because of this plan, 95 percent of working Americans will receive a tax break that you will see in our paychecks starting on April 1.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The president says his White House is taking bold steps to spread growth and prosperity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: That's the work we must continue in the days and months ahead. That's why my administration is also moving quickly and aggressively to restart lending for families and businesses, to help responsible homeowners pay their mortgages and refinance their homes, to address the major economic challenges of our time -- the cost of health care, our dependence on foreign oil, the state of our schools.
All of this takes time and it will take patience. It will entail great effort and cooperation. But most of all, it will require a renewed sense of responsibility from every American -- a responsibility to ourselves and one another, a responsibility that's already been demonstrated by the men and women who are sitting behind me here today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The President of the United States speaking at length on what's going on.
Meanwhile, some critics of the Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, are betting he won't last long on the president's economic team. The pressure on Geithner has intensified after two people he had hoped to name to key posts withdrew their names from consideration.
Let's bring in our national correspondent, Jessica Yellin, to explain what is going on.
What's going on -- Jessica?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's been something of a rocky road for the Treasury secretary, Tim Geithner. Wall Street is calling on him to release more specifics about his bailout plans. And, at the same time, none of his top deputies have been confirmed by the Senate.
YELLIN (voice-over): As lay-offs mount and the market gyrates, President Obama's Treasury secretary says he's on the case.
TIMOTHY GEITHNER, TREASURY SECRETARY: We need to make sure that our banks have the resources necessary to provide credit. And we need to act to get the credit markets flowing again directly.
YELLIN: But there's no patience on Wall Street. Online, frustrated day traders are betting on the chance Geithner will leave his job by the end of the year. And the gurus of stock spin at CNBC are increasingly blaming Geithner and the administration for the market's troubles.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tim Geithner, he's mulling things over and, you know, I'm confident by the time that -- that Bank of America goes to one and Wells Fargo is at two, that he'll have a plan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since the inauguration, stocks are down 20 percent on the broad S&P.
YELLIN: Geithner is an extremely tight spot. Business leaders are calling on him to release detailed plans to rescue the banks, after his initial outline was panned. And because of the tough vetting rules for nominees, he's working without a full staff in place.
Click on the Treasury Department Web site and nine only confirmed official -- the Treasury secretary himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM FEBRUARY 26)
PAUL VOLCKER, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC RECOVERY BOARD CHAIRMAN: I know that shameful is the word that comes to mind, that the secretary of Treasury is sitting there without a deputy, without any undersecretaries.
(END VIDEO CLIP) YELLIN: Some say the problem has more to do with political reality -- that to stop the market slide, the administration needs to commit more money to saving the banks and it just isn't prepared to do that.
VINCENT REINHART, FORMER FEDERAL RESERVE OFFICIAL: Wall Street is holding the greater economy hostage. As long as financial institutions need funds, they won't make loans, they won't support market activity. So what we have to do is pay them to get past this.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
YELLIN: Now Treasury officials are absolutely adamant that the secretary has all the support that he needs. They say 50 political appointees are already working at the department while they wait to be confirmed. And they point out the secretary has gotten started with a housing plan that's up and running and that he's released information about the first steps of his rescue plan.
Wolf, they say they're just not going to be pressured by the traders on Wall Street, who want immediate, immediate results.
BLITZER: I know Gene Sperling is already working at the Treasury Department for him.
YELLIN: He is.
BLITZER: He was one of the top economic advisers to former President Clinton.
All right, thanks very much, Jessica Yellin, for that.
President Obama right now on the verge of reversing a controversial Bush administration policy on embryonic stem cell research. The best political team on television is standing by to weigh in.
Plus, the marketing of the Obama presidency -- we get a closer look at a new stimulus logo. Critics say it's missing one critical thing.
Stay with us.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Let's get right to our top story and our discussion with our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger; our CNN political contributor, Steve Hayes, of "The Weekly Standard;" and our CNN political analyst, Roland Martin. They're all part of the best political team on television.
Gloria, listen to this exchange that our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux, had earlier today with one of the president's top economic advisers, Christina Romer. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Your reaction to the job numbers today?
CHRISTINA ROMER, CHAIR, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: I think there's -- there's no way we could or should spin these. They are terrible. We know that we've lost now more than 650,000 jobs each of the last three months. And that's a tragedy for the American families that are losing those jobs and for the whole economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And we heard from Mark Zandi, the economist, earlier in THE SITUATION ROOM. We could be losing another 600,000 jobs each month for the next three months, who knows?
But this is a -- this is an awful, awful situation -- a real dilemma, because people want to see results and they're anxious.
GLORIA BORGER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, Wolf, we live in a 24/7 news cycle. We can plug into the Internet anytime we want. We tend to be a very impatient society.
But when you look at the polls, the public says we understand that this isn't going to change overnight. I think, however, when you combine these job losses with the fact that the lending market has not yet received -- has no liquidity at this point, you see people unable to borrow to refinance. And I think that that's the real problem here, that between the job rate and the stock market and the housing market, people are nervous. And the White House is still searching for a way to calm everyone down.
BLITZER: And, you know, we heard Mark Zandi say earlier, the economist, that the president may have to seek yet another economic stimulus plan. The current one that's passed might not be enough.
STEPHEN HAYES, SENIOR WRITER "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Lord help us. We -- I think people -- I'm with Gloria. People need to be patient here. I mean I don't think -- you know, even given a lot of time, I don't think that the kind of economic stimulus that was passed is likely to do long-term good or to do much long-term good.
But I think, you know, in the short-term, over the next quarter, we are likely to see at least some improvement -- some spike at some point. And I think people need to be patient.
I think Christina Romer, actually, as much as I think it's important for the president to be more optimistic in his public statements, she's got to address these things realistically. And she's right, it was a terrible jobs report.
BLITZER: And what do you think, Roland?
Because, as you know, the American public, especially those who have just lost their jobs -- and there are millions of folks suffering right now -- they would like to see this thing turned around very quickly.
ROLAND S. MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the bottom line is it can't be. I mean folks should be reminded that it took our administration until December 2008 to say that the recession began in December of 2007. So you talk about acknowledging a year later in terms of how it turns around.
But, also, this is a different kind of situation here. This is not like one sector being in trouble. I mean you have a housing sector -- not just people losing their homes, but also losing the value of the home. So you don't have the building that's going on.
When you throw in what's happening in terms of the credit, it's affecting Wall Street, but also the small business owner -- the financial services companies. I mean it's hitting in so many different areas.
You see -- in Pontiac, Michigan, Wolf, it was amazing. The school district there announced yesterday they're laying off every employee as of June 30th and bringing people back on an as needed basis. This is a school district -- every employee.
And so it goes beyond just a couple of areas. And so people have to be patient. This cannot be the microwave society.
BLITZER: And here's another development that we just learned about today. The president no longer going to wait for Congress to pass legislation to reverse the ban -- the restriction of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. He's going to sign an executive order doing that on Monday.
There's going to be political fallout -- Gloria.
BORGER: Yes, there is going to be some -- some fallout, Wolf. But, you know, we knew that he was either going to do it through executive order or have the Congress do it. I guess at the White House they figured that Congress probably has enough on its plate right now and didn't want to force some Democrats from conservative districts to have a tough vote on this.
But after all, you know, this was passed. Embryonic stem cell research was passed by a majority of both the House and the Senate. It was President Bush's first veto after five years in office. And I think for this president, at least, it was kind of a no-brainer.
BLITZER: How is it going to play, Steve?
HAYES: Well, we should -- we should make no mistake. I mean this is a policy reversal. He told John King, you know, four or five weeks ago, he was going to let Congress handle this -- they were going to be the ones who took this over and he was going to follow their lead on this.
He has now changed his mind.
BLITZER: He said it was his preference that Congress do it.
BORGER: He wasn't sure.
BLITZER: But he wasn't hard and fast.
HAYES: Right. Well, I think he -- I mean, obviously, he expressed a strong preference to have Congress do it. He's been that way, I think, on a lot of issues. I think he probably got -- and I don't -- you know, I don't have any reporting. He probably got some pressure from Congressional Democrats who said look, you need to lead on this.
BLITZER: Roland, what do you think?
MARTIN: Well, I think, first of all, I mean, obviously, Democrats will be pleased by this. As Gloria stated, the House and the Senate passed it. President Bush vetoed it.
But, also, you have strong conservative voices out there -- well, you know, folks wouldn't say Nancy Reagan is going to be in the same category as some others -- who have been speaking out in terms of their support for this, as well.
Look, the social conservatives are not going to be happy. The Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, that whole crew, they're not going to be happy. But there are others who are saying this is going to advance the issue in terms of saving lives. That's really where the president has been, on the whole notion of saving lives, as opposed to getting embroiled in the whole Evangelical social conservative fight.
BORGER: Yes. And he does have the cover, as Roland says, of Senators like Orrin Hatch of Utah, who is a very strong pro-life Republican who supports stem cell research.
BLITZER: We'll cover it on Monday.
Guys, thanks very much.
Have a great, great weekend.
MARTIN: Thanks, Wolf.
BORGER: You, too.
BLITZER: A new logo is unveiled by the Obama team, but the last time they did this, they took a lot of flak.
Does this one get it right?
And where are the jobs?
There are some jobs out there, but are you willing to move to get one? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm originally from New Mexico, which is a little bit easier to find work there. And living here in New York is a bit of a challenge. But I still have hope -- with the economy, I still have hope that I will find something soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Do you want or need a job?
CNN's personal finance editor, Gerri Willis, has some valuable tips -- Gerri.
GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Wolf, we're definitely losing a lot of jobs. But there are some areas that are still hiring.
WILLIS (voice-over): Here at the Yonkers Employment Center in New York, folks are searching for jobs. But let's look at where the jobs really are. Career Builder put together this information.
On this map, dark blue areas show where the most jobs are in relation to the population. Orange areas show where the fewest jobs are.
These job seekers in New York might be better off looking in the South. The South leads all regions in job creation.
Older people are moving to warmer climates and the nation's oil and gas industries are still strong.
Health care is a huge job creator in Arizona, Florida, Nevada and Georgia. Engineering jobs in the energy industry are making Texas is big area of growth.
Let's take a look at the West. Technology is creating jobs here. In Washington State, biotech and health care are still strong. In California, recent lay-offs are believed to be a short-term trend. Software engineers, systems analysts and Web-related occupations there are still in demand. And natural resources, mining and agriculture, are creating employment opportunities in Wyoming, Colorado and Idaho.
Let's head back East. We're seeing a lot of growth in government jobs -- defense contractors, education and insurance.
Washington, D.C. Maryland and Virginia are getting a boost from government hiring.
And while New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts are suffering from financial industry losses, collection agencies and insurance companies are still hiring there.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
WILLIS: Manufacturing losses are hitting some states particularly hard, especially places like Michigan and Ohio. It's hoped the green initiatives in the stimulus bill will help spur job creation in those areas -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Gerri, thanks.
Gerri is in Yonkers, New York. Don't forget her show, tomorrow morning, "YOUR BOTTOM LINE." It airs only here on CNN, 9:30 a.m. Eastern.
Let's go right back to Jack Cafferty with The Cafferty File -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: The question this hour, Wolf, is -- how can President Obama succeed where Hillary Clinton failed when it comes to health care reform?
Ken in North Carolina: "Like roaches shun the light, keep the cameras on them so the public can see and hear what they say and do. Doctors, labor unions, drug companies, insurers and lawmakers don't like their public or shareholders to see them objecting to health care ideas that we want and need because of the P.R. damage it would cause. Keep the light on them. That's what he needs to do."
James writes: "Sadly, Jack, he won't. There are too many entrenched special interests. The effort, however, will illustrate just how powerful these forces really are."
Deb in Illinois writes: "Hillary Clinton has always been an unlikable woman. She was sandbagged by the radical Republican right- wing and American health care took the bullet. We're hearing the same thing now from the Limbaugh wing of that failed party. They don't care how they hurt America, as long as the Democrats fail."
Joan writes: "In the early '90s, most people had health insurance. The problem didn't touch very many. Now, everybody knows someone whose life has been adversely affected by either a lack of health insurance or the very high cost of health care. The lobby to reform the current situation has had 16 years to change public opinion and they've been very successful."
Lynda in North Carolina: "Obama can succeed by listening to health care professionals who are on the front lines. Leave the insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies out of the talks. All they want is profit, not good efficient patient care. Do we ask the textbook and pencil makers about education reform? No. We go straight to the teachers."
And Herman in Fresno, California writes: "By being president, instead of being married to the president."
If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog at CNN.com/caffertyfile and look for yours there among hundreds of others.
See you Monday, Wolf. You'll have two days off to read the book.
BLITZER: I will enjoy it.
BLITZER: Jack's new book is coming out. Get excited.
BLITZER: All right. Have a great weekend, Jack.
CAFFERTY: You, too.
BLITZER: Thank you.
Here's a look at some Hot Shots coming in from our friends over at the Associated Press -- pictures likely to be in your newspapers tomorrow.
In South Africa, a cricket fan sits in a sparsely filled stadium during a match -- sparsely filled.
In London, new police officers wave at a graduation parade.
In Sri Lanka, a fisherman repairs his nets before taking to the sea.
And in Bahrain, children play on top of the desert cliffs at sunset. A nice picture. Pictures worth a thousand words. Advertisers will tell you product branding is important. Well, now the president has a new logo. What it's supposed to mean to you and why one expert says it's missing something. We'll explain, when we come back.
BLITZER: Supporters of President Obama helped make his campaign famous with logos like these. Now, the administration is rolling out more graphic designs to help his causes. But not everyone is giving them rave reviews.
Let's bring in CNN's Samantha Hayes.
She's taking a closer look at this story.
What are you finding -- Samantha?
SAMANTHA HAYES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you know, some are more effective than others. And, you know, companies do this all the time. They use a logo or an emblem to identify a product, to send a message -- even sometimes try to elicit some kind of emotion.
Well, now the Obama administration is using that one to identify projects associated with the recent $787 billion stimulus package.
HAYES (voice-over): President Barack Obama wants you to associate this logo with one thing.
OBAMA: Let it be a reminder that our government, your government, is doing its part to put the economy back on the road of -- of recovery.
HAYES: The White House tells CNN the O-shaped American Recovery and Reinvestment Act emblem speaks to investments in green energy, infrastructure and health care.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like that he just actually took the time out and broke -- broke it into three categories, instead of just having one logo, to show everybody that he cares about more than one issue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's trying to get people back to work.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can see other people saying, well, why are you spending so much time on creating the logos, you know?
I mean, it might have created jobs.
HAYES: Rob Frankel has written a book on branding. He says the emblem is missing something.
ROB FRANKEL, BRANDING EXPERT: Unfortunately, it lacks any type of inspiration. And in these types of economic times, inspiration is almost all you've got.
HAYES: He compares it to FDR's Works Progress Administration logo and this one from President Gerald's Ford's Whip Inflation Now campaign.
FRANKEL: I think an important aspect here is that this logo comes across as simply just another government service. And that sets up the expectation of, again, here's what the government is going to do, as opposed to here's how you can get involved.
HAYES: It's been hit or miss with Mr. Obama's logos. The O logo during the campaign was seen everywhere. But he came under fire last June for this one, displayed during a meeting of Democratic governors. Critics said it looked an awful lot like the presidential seal -- a presumptive move by then candidate Obama.
But as president, he continues to push his brand and right now, that's job creation, green energy and health care.
HAYES: Well, the same Chicago firm that did that O logo for the campaign also did this one, the stimulus logo. And the White House told me that the firm did the work for the stimulus logo it pro bono and that the administration paid the production costs. It was about $3,000. BLITZER: Thanks very much.
We'll see you back here tomorrow in THE SITUATION ROOM, Saturday, 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Among my guests, Tony Blair, the former British prime minister.
I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting.
Up next, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT.
Kitty Pilgrim is sitting in for Lou -- Kitty.