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Toyota Navigates a Crisis; Toyota Culture Clash?; Hartshorns' Health Battle
Aired February 24, 2010 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: OK. Let's get going here. Time for your top-of-the-hour reset.
I'm Tony Harris in the CNN NEWSROOM.
It is 12:00 on Capitol Hill, where Toyota's president will answer questions about the safety recall today.
It is noon in North Palm Beach, Florida, where a Toyota dealer keeps an eye on today's Q&A and how it may impact his bottom line.
And it is 9:00 at a dealership in Santa Monica, California, where we will ask customers, why are you considering a Toyota?
Let's do this -- let's get started.
Toyota hoping to steer its way out of a crisis. Company president, Akio Toyoda, is on Capitol Hill.
You're looking at live pictures of the room where day two of the recall hearing began this morning.
Let's get straight to our congressional correspondent, Brianna Keilar.
Brianna, what's your take on how the hearing has gone so far?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you know right now, Tony, we're waiting to hear from Akio Toyoda, the president of Toyota Global. And just by my estimate, because it's not like we have an exact time when he's going to appear, it's possible that it could take place before the next top of the hour, or sometime around there.
Right now, though, what we're listening to is testimony, questions and answers, between lawmakers and the transportation secretary, Ray LaHood. They're talking about the role of federal regulators and whether they missed red flags, what they could have done to do a better job. Because while the head of this committee said that Toyota failed customers, he also said that NHTSA, which is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, failed taxpayers.
This is what Ray LaHood said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RAY LAHOOD, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: Over just the last three years, NHTSA's defect and compliance investigation have resulted in 524 recalls involving 23 million vehicles. We haven't been sitting around on our hands. When people complain, we investigate. When there needs to be a recall, we do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: So, you see there, Secretary LaHood really standing up for those federal regulators.
I should mention, Tony, we actually thought NHTSA, or the head of NHTSA, David Strickland, was going to be testifying here today. There was even a placard up there on that table when I was here this morning, and then it went away, and we were told he wasn't going to be testifying.
Ray LaHood was asked about this, and he said it was his request. He said David Strickland's only been on the job for six weeks and that he, Ray LaHood, was basically going to take the punches for this, that he would answer the questions and that he would face the criticism for this.
Republicans though on this committee have jumped on this decision by really top Democrats to allow this to go on, saying that this is the Obama administration circling the wagon. But the top Democrat on the committee said that he thought this was a reasonable request, considering that Ray LaHood said he would take all of these questions -- Tony.
HARRIS: Boy, it's interesting, because a lot of these complaints, as you know, were filed in the second term of the Bush administration. And so I'm asking today, where is Mary Peters? She was the transportation secretary during those years.
Where is the NHTSA administrator during those years, Nicole Nason? Where is she? And where are those ladies, and why aren't they testifying?
But here's my follow-up for you, Brianna. What about the possibility of an electronics problem? We are hearing that question asked more and more in the hearings so far.
KEILAR: Yes, this is something we heard yesterday, as well. So many lawmakers and engineering experts say they just don't buy it, that the topic of these recalls, which is the floor mats and these sticking floor pedals, they don't buy it, that that's all that is going on here. They are worried that it has to do with the computers in the cars, that it has to do with electronics.
And Ray LaHood addressed that today. He was asked about it. He said NHTSA is going to look into that. They are going to exhaust all of their avenues.
He said they have engineers who are going to -- who are well equipped to take care of this issue and look into it. And he promised they would get to the bottom of it until every Toyota vehicle is safe to drive.
HARRIS: Very good.
Brianna Keilar on Capitol Hill for us.
Brianna, thank you.
You know, we expect a heavy dose of contrition today from Toyota's president.
Ali Velshi is here. He is our chief business correspondent. He is also the anchor of CNN NEWSROOM follows this program at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
What's at stake for this?
ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, two things are at stake.
One is, Toyota has to be able to prove that it's got a handle on this situation. Brianna was just talking about this, whether it's electronics or mechanical.
And for those who don't remember, we've made a shift. Everything was mechanical in a car, and now so much of it is electronic. And there are engineers who differ as to what the solution to this problem is.
Some saying Toyota's not hitting on the right thing. So, A, he's got to communicate that this is an engineering company, this is a big deal and they're on it. Right? That's number one.
HARRIS: Because they're not so much a marketing company, they are a company of engineers.
HARRIS: These are car geeks, right?
VELSHI: Now, we don't think about that, but that's the reality for it.
VELSHI: Also, for the Japanese, the whole "Made in Japan" label, Toyota is the biggest export out of that country. This is a major thing. So he's got a lot on his shoulders.
The other thing he has got to do is the contrition you just talked about. He's got to be sincere in, "We've got it, there's a problem in our company, we're looking at it."
He wrote that in "The Wall Street Journal." We know he's going to say that it in his remarks. Is that going to be convincing and he is going to be able to hold up to Congress?
You saw Ray LaHood. He's an old pro before Congress.
Look at his body language. He was relaxed, he's sort of leaning. They're making jokes with him.
HARRIS: They hit him hard, and at the end, oh, we love you, Ray.
That's not going to happen with Mr. Toyoda. And he comes from a culture where things are a little more formal. So, how that plays out, the theatrics of it, is going to very, very important for Mr. Toyoda.
HARRIS: We talk about someone being on the hot seat all the time. This guy is really on the hot seat.
VELSHI: He really is.
HARRIS: I mean, with the heat turned up, right?
HARRIS: And how many audiences is this man speaking to today?
VELSHI: And this is a good point, because the obvious one is TV and Congress.
VELSHI: But, look, he's got workers. He's got more consumers, more car consumers than many other car companies combined. He's got investors. He's got workers in Japan, all over the world, and in America.
VELSHI: There are many, many thousands of Americans who are employed in the manufacturing and/or selling of Toyotas in the United States. And he's got everybody else in the car business watching him, right? GM, Ford, Chrysler, they've got to be watching very carefully to say, where is our opportunity to get more market share out of this mess of Toyota's?
HARRIS: But is amazing to hear the president of this huge company say, do you know what? We grew too fast. We outgrew our capacity.
And we remember hearing from Rhonda Smith (ph), who was a victim of one of these cars with this sudden acceleration problem saying, you know what? Toyota, shame on you. You were greedy.
And then you link that statement with the statement from Mr. Toyoda, right, and you begin -- wow, this is a nexus here. We're talking about a company where they grew too fast.
(CROSSTALK) VELSHI: Right. But this is very common in lots of companies.
HARRIS: In the race to the top, being number one.
VELSHI: And when Toyota was edging out GM as number one, this was a major strategic concern of theirs, that when you're not number one, when you're almost there, everybody loves you. Everybody thinks you're great and you're not there.
When you are number one, you are target number one. And they knew this was a problem that would occur. I don't think they knew it would be about brakes and accelerations and recalls, but it is part of a culture shift where, when you're not number one, you really worry about these things.
When you're number one, now it's all about outsourcing and different companies making parts and where -- and it's hard to find out what's wrong. That's not what you want to hear from Toyota.
So, he's got to say, that's not who we are. We're still one of the best carmakers in the world and we're going to solve this problem.
HARRIS: I love having you on the set. One more quick one.
You've got to mix the contrition with, but, hey, we're still a very strong company. Let's not get crazy here.
VELSHI: That's absolutely right. Right. And he's going to be under attack from people -- I mean, would you go to a congressional hearing? They're not fun experiences.
VELSHI: Unless you're Ray LaHood, by the way. That is the nicest congressional hearing I've seen in a while.
But that's exactly right. He's got to be contrite, but he's got to say we are Toyota, we are cars, as far as most of the world is concerned.
HARRIS: That is terrific. Ali, it's going to fall in your -- his testimony is going to fall in your hour. Can't wait. Appreciate it.
VELSHI: Yes. Good.
HARRIS: Good stuff.
And you know we are waiting for Toyota's president to testify about the company's massive recalls. I'm going to keep an eye on the testimony and Ray LaHood working the room.
The culture, to the extent that it is a culture clash that we're going to see today, let's get to Tokyo now and Kyung Lah. She's joining us live now. Kyung, look, what are we likely to see? This man has never faced anything like what he is going to face before Congress today. You can prep all you want, but this is going to be an entirely new experience for him, isn't it?
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Despite the fact that he got his Master's degree in the United States and he did live in California for a short time, everything about this process is something that, here in Japan, that just doesn't happen. You don't see corporate heads being hauled in front of lawmakers and directly questioned and called into a very difficult situation --
LAH: -- trying to defend your company, trying to defend your name. It is something that just doesn't happen here.
So let's talk about him walking down the hall. That's also something that we don't see here.
You don't really see media and cameras surrounding a company head like this. This sort of situation is reserved here in Japan for criminals.
So, everything about this process is going to be completely foreign. I'm sure he has been prepped by Toyota USA and what to expect. But top to bottom, from the language to the questions he is asked, to how this is all translated, all of this is going to be very different for him.
HARRIS: Kyung, how has this story, this entire story of what is going to happen today, the chief, the CEO and president of Toyota, testifying on Capitol Hill, how has this story played out in Japan?
LAH: A couple of things. The main broad brush that's being painted by the newspapers and the press here is that this is a make- or-break moment for Japan.
That's from an editorial today, and that this is something that Toyota has got to do. He's got to be able to perform in this moment.
We can call this political theater, but this is also about this economy. This is a critical moment for Japan.
We're seeing the world's second largest economy slip to number three at some point this year, being surpassed by China. This has been a very tough year for this economy, and Toyota's woes certainly are painting on top of that as well.
The undercurrent here, though, Tony, also is that there is lot of discussion in the blogosphere on whether or not this is Japan-bashing. Ford is owned -- you know --
HARRIS: Sure. Sure.
LAH: -- we can talk about, you know, the U.S. lawmakers and what, you know, implication they have in connection with the U.S. auto industry, the U.S. government owning some of the U.S. companies.
LAH: So, there is that concern from the Japan side, that, hey, is this Japan bashing? Is this the lawmakers trying to prop up the U.S. companies? So, there is a lot of that going on in the background as well.
HARRIS: Kyung, perfect. Way to set the stage for the testimony next hour, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Kyung Lah for us in Tokyo.
Here is what we know about Akio Toyoda.
Toyota's president is the grandson of the founder of Toyota. He joined the company back in 1984 and became the company's president in June of last year.
At 53, he is the company's youngest president. Toyoda has an MBA from Babson College in Massachusetts.
Akio Toyoda hopes Congress buys his explanation. Dealerships hope you keep buying Toyotas.
The view from the showroom, that is next, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.
HARRIS: All right. Back in the hearing room right now. A House committee will soon question Toyota's president.
You're looking at the transportation secretary right now, Ray LaHood. He's answering questions from representatives.
Akio Toyoda's answers to questions today, as well as his tone and demeanor, may influence any car buyer who is considering a Toyota right now.
Let's get the view from the showroom. And Earl Stewart has been great, giving us a lot of his time.
Earl, it's great to see you.
He owns a Toyota dealership in North Palm Beach, Florida.
Earl, I think you heard Kyung Lah, our correspondent in Tokyo, talking about just how high the stakes are for Mr. Toyoda today.
What do you want to hear from him next hour?
EARL STEWART, EARL STEWART TOYOTA: Well, pretty much what he's been saying all along. I think he needs to sincerely apologize.
He's admitted that Toyota's had some quality problems in the past. He needs to address those. I think he also needs to address the way they respond to customers.
I was particularly taken with the woman, Mrs. Smith, yesterday that testified and the shabby treatment that she got both from the dealer and from Toyota. So, I think Toyota and the Toyota dealers need to look at their customers a lot more seriously and with more compassion than they have in the past.
HARRIS: What has the exchange been like between you, your team there at the dealership, and the customers that you've served for so many years, who have come to expect safety and quality from the Toyotas that they have bought from you over the years? What has that exchange been like when you've had to talk to them about these very serious issues having to do with safety?
STEWART: Well, Tony, with a few exceptions, my customers have been amazingly supportive. As a matter of fact, our sales in February this month are actually ahead of February last year already. So, we have had a remarkable loyalism from our customers, partly because we've always been totally open and compassionate and concerned about this whole recall thing. And in the past we've shown that kind of understanding, which I think all dealers and Toyota needs to do the same.
HARRIS: And Earl, one final question here. I love that the work is going on behind you right there.
What do you think of -- I don't know to what extent you've been able to hear some of the testimony in the first hour, but what do you think of what you've heard so far? You've heard some pretty close questioning of the transportation secretary by representatives.
What do you think so far?
STEWART: Well, Tony, I didn't catch any of the testimony today. I did catch Jim Lentz yesterday, and I can say that the tone of the questioning is the same directed toward the people today, Akio Toyoda, as it was to Jim Lentz.
I think it's unfair, and I think that they're being too tough. I think that there's a clear prejudice toward the Japanese manufacturer here, and I think there's some deference toward Detroit. I thought that particularly John Dingell's testimony was inexcusable, and I think it was reprehensible.
HARRIS: Wow. All right. Earl, I think maybe we will revisit that, and appreciate that. That's great.
Earl, you've been great with your time. We appreciate it. Thanks again.
STEWART: Thanks for inviting me, Tony.
So many cars at issue in the Toyota recall. We have an easy way to see -- for you to take a look online, to see whether it affects you or a loved one. Here's what you can do. Just go to CNN.com/Toyota.
We will also have your views of today's event there as well.
Garet Heartshorn sells health insurance, but he can't afford it for his sick wife. It is a story that gave me new insights into the battle over health care. We will share his story in just a moment.
HARRIS: In his congressional testimony just moments ago, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood pointed to a Web site to find out if your car is safe.
Josh is here, following the hearing with me.
And Josh, if you would, have you been able to find what he's referring to?
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I have. Yes.
In a minute I'm going to show you what people are seeing on their screen there, the CNN.com page that we have. But first what I want to do is show you what the secretary said just minutes ago.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAHOOD: For those cars that are listed on our Web site, DOT.gov, for recall, to go back, those are not safe. We've determined they're not safe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.
LAHOOD: We believe that we need to look at the electronics in these cars, because people have told us they believe there's an issue. And we're going to do that. We're going to have a complete review on the electronics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEVS: All right. So, there you go. We jumped right on it.
This is the Web page he was talking about. DOT.gov is the official Web page of the Department of Transportation. And we look at it often enough.
Anyway, what you see when you go there now is there's a relatively prominent link right under the main photo. There's a link to the Toyota recall information.
When you get there, it's a lot of text. I'll just show you the basic idea here. They're listing all sorts of cars that basically they're saying you should bring in to be checked right away, you should take back. And they give you the reasons as well. All that right there from DOT.gov.
Now, we have something very similar right here at our page, CNN.com/Toyota. And we've been doing this for months.
It's packed with all sorts of information. And Tony, what we have here is something very similar that works in an interactive style. So we have photos and explanations of which cars are up for recall and why.
You can click on whichever type of car you have. You can take a look at the specific words over in the corner that track you why yours could be under recall. Also specific models, specific years, all of that, CNN.com/Toyota, along with a couple other things that I like a lot.
The timeline here -- a lot of people keep saying how long has this been going on? Why didn't I know about it sooner? What has happened along the way? This is a timeline at this Web site that takes you through all the major events leading up to today and including today.
HARRIS: That's great.
LEVS: And let me just show you two more quick things that I find really interesting here.
"The Rise of Toyota." This is from our partners at Time.com, "TIME" magazine, Tony. They are looking all the way back. They're doing the whole history of the Japanese automaker, where it came from, how it built its name, what the errors were along the way, the problems, and how it got to today.
Finally, I want to mention this. Toyota.com has its own Web site going, Toyota.com/recall. When you get there, they will give you this video message. They'll also track you through some of the specifics of where are they are saying that you can take your car, how to get to the nearest dealer, and which car should go back. All that at their Web page.
But we actually link you to all of it from ours as well. So, the easiest, simplest way to do all this stuff, CNN.com/Toyota, Tony. It should be a one-stop shop for all the stuff today.
HARRIS: Thank you, Josh. Appreciate it.
You know, tomorrow, President Obama hosts Republicans and Democrats for a health care summit. Got to tell you, a while back I met a wonderful couple who really personified to me the need to get something done on health care reform. The Hartshorns are like so many Americans who have slipped between the cracks. They make too much for Medicaid and aren't hold enough for Medicare.
Here's an update on the story.
HARRIS: Where's Robin?
GARET HARTSHORN, FMR. FORD EMPLOYEE: She's in the kitchen.
HARRIS (voice-over): I first visited Garet and Robin Hartshorn 17 months ago for a homemade chili dinner. At the time, the family was struggling, but they were still in good spirits.
G. HARTSHORN: I mentioned blackberry cobbler, but you got peach.
HARRIS: Garet's been looking for work for nearly two years. He was a veteran of Ford Motor Company, making good money as a quality control engineer, when the plant shut down.
G. HARTSHORN: We can produce a car at 15.7 hours per unit.
HARRIS (on camera): You're still proud of that.
G. HARTSHORN: I am extremely proud of my friends and everything that has to do with that plant.
HARRIS (voice-over): The downward spiral was just starting. Soon after Garet lost his job, his wife, the mother of their two children, developed serious health problems.
(on camera): Tell me what you're dealing with.
ROBIN HARTSHORN, CAN'T AFFORD HEALTH INSURANCE: I'm dealing with losing, like, three pints of blood, and I have -- I'm a diabetic, high blood pressure. But finding out why I've lost the blood, we just don't have the insurance to do that. We have to meet a real high deductible first.
HARRIS (voice-over): Their deductible was $2,200, part of Garet's severance pay from Ford.
G. HARTSHORN: We just spent $200 of real important money to go have us checked out, you know. And you see how white she is. She's anemic now.
I've got to find a way that I can produce enough cash flow where she can be taken care of. And I will. I'm very close right now.
HARRIS: How close he was. Listen to what he's doing now.
G. HARTSHORN: I talked to underwriting. Everything is fine. All they need is your doctor's -- your doctor information.
HARRIS: It sounds like he's on the phone arranging health care for his wife. But he's not. This is Garet Hartshorn's new job, arranging health care for other people. He's a health insurance agent. But like so many other independent contractors, his job has no health insurance benefits.
Garet is living a much lonelier existence since his wife's health has gone downhill. Robin stayed in her room when we came to talk to her on camera. She wouldn't come out.
G. HARTSHORN: She's not the girl she wants to be. That's for sure.
HARRIS: A year and a half after Robin Hartshorn's doctors told her to check herself into a hospital to get the necessary tests, Robin still hasn't done it.
G. HARTSHORN: Her blood cell count keeps going down. She gets cold at night, and it seems like her circulation is not all that good in her hands and feet and legs. And I'm concerned about that, because her hands are like ice. And, you know, and she's sort of like -- I don't know, she's sort of like a real old woman now.
HARRIS: Garet Hartshorn can't even write a policy for his own family. The insurance broker can't afford the insurance he sells.
G. HARTSHORN: In all honesty, that's $1,000 a month. And because of our diabetes, pre-existing illness, and that's just the way it is. And right now, $1,000 a month is like $1 million.
I'm a half a month behind on my house payment and months behind on my credit cards. And have exhausted my 401(k).
HARRIS: Garet tries to stay positive. He reads self-help books on positive thinking, but he is very angry at Congress.
G. HARTSHORN: They failed miserably. Both sides of the House, and Independents, too.
If they can't realize how serious this is, then they don't need to be elected officials. They need to go home and build cars, or doughnuts, or whatever they're good at, because they're not very good as legislators.
HARRIS: The health care debate. What makes tomorrow's bipartisan meeting a success? We will take that up with our panel next.
HARRIS: We're getting a 10-minute break right now. The hearing's been going on since about 11:00 Eastern Time this morning. We are anticipating that we will hear from Akio Toyoda in the next hour.
Again, live pictures as the House Oversight Committee members take a bit of a recess for 10 minutes.
The questions, of course, what did Toyota know, when did it know it, and has the company really pinpointed the problem causing vehicles to accelerate, the sudden acceleration problem?
We will bring you Akio Toyoda's testimony live, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.
You know, some portray tomorrow's health care reform summit as an opportunity for compromise. Others say it is nothing more than political theater.
Decide for yourself. CNN will have live coverage beginning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time. That is tomorrow morning.
Let's talk to two people who will be watching, that's for sure. Dr. Brian Hill is an Atlanta urologist. And Kathie -- Brian, it's good to see you again. And Kathie McClure is an attorney and founder of votehealthcare.org.
And Kathie, let me start with you.
Let me ask you to fill in the blank here. This meeting tomorrow, this bipartisan health care summit, is a success if? And fill in the blank there.
KATHIE MCCLURE, FOUNDER, VOTEHEALTHCARE.ORG: I think it would be a great success if the Democrats would be forthright and persuasive in explaining to the American public what these bills will do for people. People like the Hartshorns, who are suffering every day.
People are dying because they don't have access to affordable care and coverage. So, I think that would be my number one goal here, is that the -- that President Obama exercise leadership, that he encourage the Republicans to speak up on the issues that they feel are important, but also to acknowledge where these bills have actually incorporated their positions.
HARRIS: Yes. You're disappointed with the president. Tell me why.
MCCLURE: Well, I think he's missed a lot of opportunities to be -- to exercise leadership on this issue. We are now almost into March and we still don't have a bill. We should have really had one last year.
I think if he had been more strident in keeping the issue on the front burner, in keeping the legislative process moving at a reasonable pace, we wouldn't be sitting where we are today. But I think this is an important opportunity for the president to inform the public about what aspects of these bills really serve Americans.
HARRIS: Yes. OK.
MCCLURE: To keep -- to keep premiums down, to level the playing field with insurance companies. HARRIS: And cover more people, right?
HARRIS: I mean, costs and, OK, and coverage.
Brian, what do you think? Tomorrow's meeting is a success if?
DR. BRIAN HILL, UROLOGIST: I think this meeting's a success if we actually go through a problem solving approach to fixing this structural problem for our health care. You know, if we continue to build upon a health care delivery system that is structurally made to not work, then this is going to fail and we're going to continue to fail, not only tomorrow, not only in a year, but in 10 years down the road because if we don't fix the underlying structural issue and solve these structural problems, then all this is for naught.
HARRIS: OK. So neither of you, from this point on, can be 100 percenters. You know what I mean by that, got to have everything I want or nothing gets done. Because, you know, frankly, all of your ideas may be good, but not great. It may not make the final bill. What is, Brian, your -- your absolute must-have above all other must- haves?
HILL: I think we need to be smart. I mean the problem is, and we've already broken this down into what do we need to have, what do we need to do, do we need to have interstate commerce, do we need to have tort reform? We're missing the point. The point of this right now is, is that there is a structural problem in the way the health care system is set up. It's set up that as a third-party payer mix that removes the patient, you know, and does not empower the patient to manage their own health care dollars, and that's the structural problem that we have that's wrong here. And everything else is just icing on the top. And until we fix that, we're in trouble.
HARRIS: So what are we talking about from your point of view? What are we talking about -- why at are we talking about from your point of view? Give me one fix. Is this these flexible spending accounts? What are we talking about here, Brian?
HILL: So, I'll tell you, and I think it's a great idea. The problem is, and I'll tell you this, and this is the issue that I'm sure you know quite well, you can't sit down in a 30 minute discussion here, a 30 second discussion and say, this is the way we need to fix the problem, you know.
HARRIS: Well, good point. But, try, if you would, please.
HILL: But health care consumers -- yes, but I'll try. And, I'm sorry, but I think we really want to educate people and we need to sit down and actually have these good discussions so that we can have a true education session, not just little, you know, talking points.
HILL: But in that sense, one approach to it, and I think a starting point, again, not the end result, but a starting point is actually, like you said, maybe maintaining health savings accounts with high deductible health policies. What that allows is it allows us to cover for these major medical problems, these major medical issues that can bankrupt people, but then it also allows them to develop a health savings account so that it's money that they keep in their pocket. They pass it on from year to year. It's a tax incentivized program where they can actually put tax credits. And if they don't spend it, they carry that with them.
So, like the people we were just talking about, the Hartshorns (ph), they could have, over the past 20 years, if they had a health savings account, could have actually continued to grow that over the past 20 years so that they would have had a tremendous reserve available for them when they went through this kind of problem, because it would have been affordable. Instead, all that money that they might not have used early on is in the pockets of the insurance companies.
HARRIS: Got you. Got you.
Kathie, let me let you in here. And don't want you to debate -- I know you want to, Brian's point, because I don't want to run out of time without getting from you your must-have above all other must- haves.
MCCLURE: Well, my must-have is that we get a bill that actually extends coverage to more people. And the bills that are currently in Congress now, would extend coverage to 30 million additional people. That is no small success, particularly when you have people like you -- people like the Hartshorns who have no affordable options. We really need to recognize that people are suffering every day here. And we have an opportunity here, both chambers have passed bills.
HARRIS: Yes. Yes.
MCCLURE: And now we have an opportunity to move those forward to a bill that the president can sign.
HARRIS: And, Brian
MCCLURE: So bravo for that. Let's get that -- make that happen.
HARRIS: Yes. So, what do you think happens -- Kathie, let me stay with you. What happens on Friday? We have the meeting tomorrow. What happens Friday?
MCCLURE: Friday, I think you'll hear a lot of screeching and yelping out of both sides, probably, about how they aren't totally satisfied with what's going on here.
MCCLURE: But I think the legislative process will move forward. I think that we're headed towards reconciliation, which, of course -- which contrary
HARRIS: You think that's where we're going?
MCCLURE: I think we're headed there.
MCCLURE: And contrary to what the Republicans say, reconciliation is not a trick. It's a process that they used to pass the Bush tax cuts. And I think that's where we're headed.
HARRIS: All right.
MCCLURE: And I'm hoping that the summit will educate the American people about what these bills actually do.
HARRIS: Yes, I hope you're right.
Brian, what are your thoughts? What do you think we're hearing on Friday?
HILL: Well, I'll tell you, and the problem, again, is this. And this is the ultimate issue. Is that all we have right now, and just as a little analogy, probably doesn't work that great, but we have a bridge that's structurally fragmented. It's broken. And all we're doing with this current health care plan that's in place right now is broadening that bridge, repainting it, adding some new pavement to it and sending people back on that bridge without fixing the structural problem of that bridge.
MCCLURE: Well --
HILL: And it's going to collapse. And it's going to fall apart. So unless we actually wise up and realize that we've got to fix the fundamentally flaws in the health care system, then all this is for naught, because the Hartshorns are going to be there and there's going to be another generation in 10 years. As costs go up, we're in trouble.
HARRIS: Right. Kathie, you want to jump in? Last words here.
MCCLURE: What I have to say to that is, we do not live in an ideal world. We cannot scrap the current system that we have. Nobody in Washington is in favor of that.
HILL: And that's a shame.
MCCLURE: And we need to build on what is good about our system and make it better. That's our goal here.
HARRIS: Well, I love -- I love having you both on because you're both so smart and so passionate about this issue. And if you're agreeable, we'll have you back on again.
Dr. Hill, appreciate it. Kathie, good to see you, as always.
MCCLURE: Thank you.
HARRIS: Thank you both.
HILL: Thank you.
HARRIS: And make sure you tune in to CNN tomorrow. President Obama is gathering together Republicans and Democrats in hopes of finding middle ground on health care reform. And, of course, we are bringing you live coverage of the White House health care summit at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time.
So, what are your thoughts about the health care summit tomorrow and the chance of health care reform being approved by Congress? Send us your comments to cnn.com/tony. We're back in a moment.
HARRIS: Let's see. I think we should start with the hearing. The recess is over, as you can see, and the transportation secretary is back testifying and Q&A is going on. It continues. We will follow this and maybe squeeze in and find moments where we can actually dip in and let you hear a little bit more of the question and answer session.
I've got to tell you that Japan and the U.S. have very different corporate cultures. And, of course, what we're leading up to here, Paul, is the testimony from the CEO and the president of Toyota, Akio Toyoda. Sometime we believe in the 1:00 p.m. Eastern Hour. Paul Ferguson is here. He is a CNN International news-gathering supervising editor.
Could you make that title any longer?
HARRIS: He spent years living --
PAUL FERGUSON, CNN SUPERVISING EDITOR: (INAUDIBLE) it makes the cards bigger.
HARRIS: Yes, it does. Living and working in Japan and is here to talk to us about some of those cultural differences.
First of all, what's at stake today?
FERGUSON: Well, for Toyota, I mean, the foreign minister of Japan himself has weighed in on this.
FERGUSON: For how important it is for Toyota. Japan is built as an export economy. That's how they've been for many, many years. So they see this as vital.
HARRIS: In your time there, how large a shadow does Toyota cast?
FERGUSON: Enormous. Enormous. It's something of -- inside Japan, something of a gold standard of how a good Japanese company should work. HARRIS: Uh-huh. How does -- how does this crisis, and to what extent has it sort of shaken the confidence, shaken that -- that -- that culture there in Japan?
FERGUSON: It's a lot. They -- the Japanese media focuses on stories like this and stories about their export statistics
FERGUSON: Almost as if it's a sports score. They take it very serious. We would rarely have a headline of GDP up 0.3. It wouldn't be our lead story. But in Japan they're very, very sensitive to economic growth. And these stories are huge.
HARRIS: Do you have a sense of how this story is playing out in Japan?
FERGUSON: Very big. Very big.
HARRIS: Yes, very big?
FERGUSON: Yes. Yes.
HARRIS: What is it going to be like for this man today when he come before Congress. We know how raucous this can be. We almost had a little bit of it this morning. This was tame, but, I mean, come on.
FERGUSON: This is something way outside of a typical leadership of a Japanese corporate leader.
HARRIS: Does anything like this go on in Japan?
FERGUSON: Nothing at all. In Japan, this would -- the legislature has very little role in this kind of a thing. It would always -- it would always be a ministry.
FERGUSON: And a ministry would drive it. So there would be no equivalent of a Japanese congress holding hearings about a recall.
FERGUSON: This would be behind closed doors in a ministry of people that all knew each other. There would be no elected officials involved. That would be very rare. So this is all new, the spotlights, the police escort into the budding, it's all very new.
HARRIS: Right. How do you think he's going to handle this event? I mean he's got to be nervous. I mean, come on.
FERGUSON: He's a worldly, cosmopolitan guy.
HARRIS: Right. FERGUSON: But, you know, the corporate culture inside Toyota are -- they're really a bunch of -- the top echelon. I've met a few of the top echelon, are really engineers. It's different from an American car company.
HARRIS: Yes, you made that point in our meeting this morning, that this is not about a company that's laden with a lot of PR folks and --
HARRIS: And marketing folks and (INAUDIBLE).
HARRIS: Maybe more so in the United States, but certainly not in Japan. But these are car people, right?
FERGUSON: Right, right. Right, right. That's how you get ahead in a place like that is on love of cars. Media savvy. It's very, very important inside an American company.
FERGUSON: In a Japanese company, it's almost irrelevant. It really doesn't matter. It's the marketing department and it's over there and it's different from the leadership of the company.
HARRIS: What do you expect from him? Will he -- I mean his tone, his demeanor? Tee that up for us a bit.
FERGUSON: He -- you know, it's hard to speculate and to guess what he'll -- how he'll do it. But in a typical Japanese leadership role, you are something of a -- outside of the fray. So different departments can make their own rules and come back to and tell you. It's different from here
FERGUSON: Where the CEO would drive things.
HARRIS: Yes. Yes. So if you're thinking you're going to get Jamie Dimon from, you know, JP Morgan, you're not going to get that kind of a performance.
HARRIS: And not -- yes.
FERGUSON: Right. He's not going to turn around and say, (INAUDIBLE), get into my office. We have to change that.
HARRIS: Right. Paul, appreciate it.
FERGUSON: It will be more of a behind closed doors, consensus- type of meeting. HARRIS: Yes, Paul, appreciate it. Good stuff. Good insights. Thank you.
And if you'd like in depth -- a look into the Toyota recall, just go to cnn.com/Toyota. There you can find if your car has been recalled and what to do. It all comes to you from the worldwide leader in news.
We're back in a moment.
HARRIS: All right. At this time, we'd like to remind you of the good work done by our Money team at cnnmoney.com. Go there if you want the latest financial news and analysis. It's always top notch.
Let's get you to the New York Stock Exchange now for a look at the big board, coming up on three-and-a-half hours into the trading day. As you can see, the Dow is up almost into triple digit territory, up 93 points. The Nasdaq, at last check, was up 25 points. We will, of course, be following these numbers throughout the day.
Snow, blizzards, cold temperatures. Where is Chad Myers? We're back in a moment.
HARRIS: OK. So another big storm targets the Northeast, and Chad Myers is tracking that for us in the weather center.
And, Chad, even some snow in the south this morning, huh?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, some flurries around, sure. Some lake-effect cold air coming around. I just got a call from our D.C. bureau. They're going, hey wait a minute, we're hearing five inches in D.C. And I go, no, probably not five. Maybe one or two.
But, you know what, we've lowered our standards so far that if we were going to get one or two inches of snow, and this was the first snow of the season, people would be panicked in D.C., right?
HARRIS: That would -- yes, that would be a huge story.
MYERS: But once you get a 20-incher, hey, one to two, I can handle that. I guess that's how it goes.
MYERS: It is going to be a far northeast event for the very next one, missing, really, the nation's capital, but really getting into Philadelphia and Binghamton, Oboca (ph), back toward Rutland (ph). Boy, the ski resorts up around Killington (ph) are loving it! They are going to see some really good snow. There has been such a snow drought up there for the skiers, they'll take it.
This is the first storm that put down about 10 inches in some of those ski resorts, but the next storm is just developing. It's just coming in. It's going to be a kind of a combination, Tony, of a couple storms. The cold air and the warm air all coming together and then spinning around for a couple of days. And when you get the storms, the snow for 48 hours, that's how you can pile it up.
HARRIS: Yes. There you go. Thank you, Chad.
HARRIS: Toyota's safety record. We are talking to dealers from coast to coast.
HARRIS: OK. Once again, live pictures now. The Toyota hearing before the House Oversight Committees continues with Representative Jim Cooper from Tennessee firing questions at the transportation secretary, Ray LaHood. We expect to hear from Toyota's president and CEO in the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM. Probably not breaking news here, but the Toyota recalls are slowing sales. Our Casey Wian at a dealership in Santa Monica, California.
Casey, good to see you.
How is that dealership trying to drum up some business?
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tony, let me tell you, we're here at Toyota of Santa Monica, and this recall has had a significant impact on this dealership. You know, Santa Monica, California, is a hot bed of environmental activism, and so this is the number one dealership in the entire country for sales of the Toyota Prius. They sold 1,100 of those cars last year.
And over here at this service bay behind me, you can see very busy, even though it's sort of late in the morning right now. About 50 percent, almost half, of their business in the service department now is recall related. The dealership tells me that their sales have not been impacted that much by the recall, but it has still caused a significant problem for this dealership.
I am joined by Billy Rinker, who's the general sales manager here at Toyota of Santa Monica.
Billy, what's it been like for you?
BILLY RINKER, GENERAL SALES MGR., SANTA MONICA TOYOTA: You know what, it's just been a little bit more hectic than the normal pace. You know, overwhelmingly, our customer response has been very positive. You know, 95 percent, I would say, if I was to pull a number out, have been, you know, very positive. They've owned Toyotas before. They're not worried, you know.
WIAN: But it's those 5 percent who are worried that's making things a little difficult for you.
RINKER: Yes, correct. Yes, the 5 percent, I would say, takes up, you know, a good amount of time. We're spending the time necessary to answer questions, to explain some of the miss information that has been out there. Because there's a lot of confusion. And so once we spend the time with them, you know, they're pretty happy.
And the recall fixes and remedies, you know, for the Prius enhancement on the software's available for the sticky pedals here, we've done a bunch of that. You know, we've probably seen about a 20 percent increase of our service of people coming in wanting to have just some type of remedy done.
RINKER: But overall, as you mentioned, you know, probably about 50 percent of the people that we're seeing, you know, are having something done. They might just come in for their regular service and then we'll say, hey, we'll go ahead and upgrade your software or something like that.
WIAN: Understood. We've got to wrap it up.
Tony, that's the story from here. A positive outlook from this dealership, despite the national concern that we've seen.
HARRIS: OK, Casey, appreciate it. Casey Wian for us in Santa Monica, California.
If you'd like an in-depth look into the Toyota recall, just go to cnn.com/Toyota. There you can find out if you car has been recalled and what to do. We're back in a moment.