Return to Transcripts main page
STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN
Photos to be Published of U.S. Soldiers Posing with Corpses of Suicide Bombers in Afghanistan; Ted Nugent Makes Controversial Comment about President; Southern Baptists Minister Makes Controversial Comment about Race; The Fight Over Your Taxes; Troops Pose With Suicide Bombers; Warming Up To Climate Change; Lottery Winner Charged With Fraud; Six-Year-Old Handcuffed; One For The Ages; "Fried Chicken And Latkes"
Aired April 18, 2012 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: That's it, I'm getting fully naked. It's kind of brilliant. I thought so too.
And the health care for the world's third richest person, that would be Warren Buffett, telling his shareholders that he is now battling prostate cancer. We'll update you on his condition.
Plus wildfires and twisters and one of the balmiest winters on record. We'll tell you why more people are talking now about climate change. It is Wednesday, April 18, and STARTING POINT begins right now.
Welcome, everybody. We begin with breaking news this morning, a new controversy for troops in Afghanistan to tell you about. General John Allen, he is the commander of the International Security Assistance Force, the ISAF in Afghanistan, is now strongly condemning some photos that will be appearing in "The Los Angeles Times" at 8:00 a.m. eastern time and those photos depict U.S. troops posing with the bodies of suicide bombers in Afghanistan.
The ISAF said that the incident, which took place back in 2010, quote, "represents a serious error in judgment by several soldiers who acted out of ignorance and unfamiliarity with U.S. army values." We've got Nick Paton Walsh standing by with more on this. Nick, we haven't seen the photos yet. What exactly are they supposed to show us?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They have taken the rare step apologizing for the contents of these pictures ahead of their publication by "Los Angeles Times" expected later on today. They issued a statement in which they condemn the images which apparently show the bodies of dead afghan insurgents who died in suicide attacks, I mean apparently taken, according to ISAF in 2010 but only now being leaked to the press.
Let me read to you some of the statement. "The actions of the photographs do not represent the policies and these behavior is inconsistent with the values." But to be honest, after the past four months, NATO are becoming used to and practice the art of damage limitation. In January we had the instance in which United States marines apparently corpses of dead afghans and then the mistake of burning Korans by NATO soldiers and then the massacre of 17 Afghan civilians in Kandahar. So a deeply troubling narrative for the NATO campaign as it inches towards its end. It's unclear what it will be when the pictures are published. This adds to a growing toll of bad news towards the end of this decade-long war here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: That's Nick Paton Walsh reporting for us this morning. Thanks for that update, Nick. We'll try to get those photos for you as soon as we possibly can and have more conversations about them this morning.
Time to get to our panel this morning. Naftali Ben David is a political reporter for the "Wall Street Journal." He's been a guest for us before. Nice to have you back. Amy Kremer is the chairman of teapartyexpress.org. Nice to have you with us. Do you prefer chairman or chairwoman?
AMY KREMER, CHAIRMAN, TEAPARTYEXPRESS.ORG: Chairman is fine. Either way. It's all the same.
O'BRIEN: And Will Cain is a columnist for TheBlaze.com, also a CNN contributor. It's a conversation we have been having.
WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Still here.
O'BRIEN: Looking good.
What about this Ted Nugent comment controversy? Controversy, yes or no? What?
NAFTALI BENDAVID, POLITICAL REPORTER, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": That's one of the questions that always comes up with these things. Should we care? He didn't have an official position with the Romney Campaign or anything like that.
O'BRIEN: He's kind of known for saying things that are over the top.
BENDAVID: That's the thing he's most known for right now. On the other hand, he's a celebrity and he endorsed Mitt Romney. Romney campaign glad to have him on hand. They were happy to benefit from that. And now it's back firing somewhat.
CAIN: On the heels of Hilary Rosen's comment, connected to movements or administrations and how much did her comments respect those they're speaking about.
O'BRIEN: And doesn't it even matter.
BENDAVID: I think Ted Nugent just builds upon the Hilary Rosen narrative. Should we care what Ted Nugent has to say? KREMER: I think, really, this kind of conversation coming from either side is not helpful. We've seen it from Debbie Wasserman Schultz too about the Tea Party, and, you know, it's not just helpful from either side. And, you know, I've heard last night I think somebody said this is the nastiest presidential campaign ever and these people who have a platform as celebrity, I think they need to tone it down. They don't speak for the campaign or the party, but, still, it's not helpful.
O'BRIEN: I don't know that people will tone it down in the days of Twitter. It will just elevate and get that whole conversation spread to more people.
Ted Nugent, I should mention, had an opportunity, if he wanted to, he could have apologized yesterday because he was on Dana Loesch's radio show. And instead he doubled down. There has been a lot of doubling down of these comments. People say something, instead of saying, I was wrong. My goodness, I apologize. I meant it, I said it, I really meant it. I mean it more today than ever before. He told the crowd as he was stumping for Mitt Romney at the NRA convention in St. Louis, this originally on Saturday. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TED NUGENT, SINGER: If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: OK, wasn't really sure what he exactly meant by that, but then when he was talking to Dana Loesch he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NUGENT: I spoke at the NRA, and I stand by my speech. It is 100 percent positive. It's about we, the people, taking back our American dream from the corrupt monsters in the federal government under the administration and the communist czars he has appointed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: I'm not sure what he means by that, either. "The National Journal," others reporting today that the Secret Service is now involved and intends to follow up with Nugent about exactly what he meant. Democrats launching a social media and one video campaign demanding that Mitt Romney disavowed Nugent, who is endorsing Mitt Romney. The Romney campaign actually didn't directly respond to Nugent. They actually issued a statement through the Romney spokesperson saying this -- "Divisive language is offensive no matter what side of the political aisle it comes from. Mitt Romney believes everyone needs to be civil." That's exactly not going out on a limb. Let's get right to Senator James Inhofe. He's a Republican from the state of Oklahoma, ranking member of the environment and public works committee. Nice to see you, sir. Thanks for talking with us.
SEN. JAMES INHOFE, (R) OKLAHOMA: Nice to be with you, Soledad.
O'BRIEN: Thank you, appreciate that. We were just talking and walking through what rocker Ted Nugent, who's pretty much known for his outrageous comments had to say. I'm interested in your take on it now that the secret service is involved.
INHOFE: I hadn't really heard the exact comments until I heard it three times on your program and earlier this morning. What he's saying, I can't figure out what people are talking about. He's talking about him, that Ted himself would either be dead or in jail. How does that relate to the president? I have a real hard time putting that together. If you want to see how you can be abused, read my book "The Greatest Hopes" and see what Bobby Kennedy, you know, he wanted to hang me for treason. And, so, if you want to see some real threats, you can see them. I don't know what they're talking about.
O'BRIEN: Do you think, hold on one second there, senator. Do you think that Ted Nugent when he said those comments, which I think were very vague, but he did go on to talk about chopping off the head I think of the administration in general, not certain individuals. It's certainly violent language at the very least. Go ahead, Senator, I'm sorry.
INHOFE: Yes, he did. Again, he was talking about himself. To me, when I first heard that, I thought this guy is so offended by what the administration is doing, if we're going to have to have four more years of Barack Obama, maybe he will either be dead or in jail. I put a totally different interpretation on that.
BENDAVID: Well, Senator, I mean admittedly the comment was hard to understand what he was getting at, but one interpretation said he was going to somehow attack the president and that's the reason he would wind up in jail or dead. I realize there may be other interpretation, but the Secret Service is taking it serious enough to go after it. I'm puzzled by your puzzlement to why the reaction has been as strong as it has.
INHOFE: I think that anyone could put an interpretation on like that. I just didn't hear that because that's not what he said. And it is confusing because it's hard to say, why would he be dead and now we're talking about Ted, not the president. And I didn't quite understand it. Well, I tell you, if they scrutinize people that close, they have done that to me, so I can understand. Why is it? Let me ask you guys this, we have a --
O'BRIEN: Are you interviewing me on our own show? Come on, Senator, we love that.
INHOFE: I know you're interested in what's going on. We have a president who constantly says that we only have two percent of the reserves, and he says this totally outrageous, not true at all, but he says is it so many times, people believe it. He also says if we open up for some these lands for drilling. You know how long it would take, Soledad?
O'BRIEN: I don't know. INHOFE: It would take perhaps 70 days. I talked last night to Herald Hamm who is one of the biggest, he's from Oklahoma and working up in North Dakota right now. I said if they were to open up some of these public lands or other places because 90 percent already stopped we can't drill on and that's back to supply and demand, how long would it take you to reach the pumps to fill our gas tank? He said, well, 60 days to bring the first barrel up. And then it would take an additional, listen to this, 10 days to go through the refining process and reach the pumps. You're talking about something like two or three months.
And I agree, Yuri Becker is a Nobel Prize economist and he said, what's wrong with these people? There's not a person watching us right now who didn't in the elementary school hear about supply and demand. We have if we would just open up and do what every other country does, enough gas, oil and coal to take care of this country without any independence on the Middle East for the next 90 years.
O'BRIEN: So Senator, we have the president saying that. I want to play that first and then ask you a question on the other side, if I can. Let's play that, guys.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The problem is we use more than 20 percent of the world's oil and we only have two percent of the world's proven oil reserves. Even if we drilled every square inch of this country right now, we'd still have to rely disproportionately on other countries for their oil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: I would say roughly that I talked to 25 analysts over the X number of years about gas prices as they go up and back down, and invariably they talk about those prices are not really linked to whoever is sitting in the Oval Office. They really say, listen, whatever the external factors are, in this particular case, instability in Iran is really much more correlated to those high gas prices. Is that not correct?
INHOFE: No. I think, first of all, he trying to use this manipulation as an extension of his attack on oil companies and all of that. But, again, you're just making that case. You just repeated that he has said over and over and over again, and people assume that someone is going to tell the truth.
O'BRIEN: I didn't repeat it. I replayed what he said. I played a chunk of what he said because you had mentioned it the first time and I'm telling you what analysts told me is that they correlate high gas prices to externals. In this particular season it is really about what's happening in Iran. Is that wrong?
INHOFE: No, I think it is wrong. I think that we have to look at what our domestic capabilities are. But he talks about two percent. That's what they call proven reserves. In order to prove a reserve, you have to prove a term. Recoverable reserves which is what is there and what is our potential. Our recoverable reserves are greater than any country in the world and al we have to do. Again, we're the only country that doesn't exploit our own resources. I think, you know, you have to look at this supply and demand because it's a major thing.
Again, I'm not an economist. But that's why I quote other people who are saying how is it that we can just ignore all of this potential that we have out there. Obviously, in addition to being able to be self-supporting, we'd have all the jobs and everything that goes with it and maybe it's because I'm from an oil state and I look at this and just shake my head and wonder.
By the way, I just got back from the Middle East and areas like that and they asked the same question. Why is it you guys don't develop your own resources? I don't know. We should do it and I think we will do it, but this president's not going to do it because he has a commitment to the Moveon.org and George Soros and Michael Moore and all the far left environmental extremists. He's going to try to do that and hold them together for their election and therefore using the same thing over and over again.
Let's not forget that this thing about, it would take 10 years before it would be reflected. It's just outrageous.
O'BRIEN: We'll go back and we're going to crunch the numbers. We're going to crunch the numbers independently, as well. We'll keep this conversation going because, we'll have you back. We always love talking to you. Senator James Inhofe, Republican from the state of Oklahoma, thank you, sir, appreciate it.
Christine has got other headlines for us. Hey, good morning.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. Police say a female soldier stationed at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina may be in danger this morning. Army first class Kelli Bordeaux was last seen as at a Fayetteville bar early Saturday morning. An army official telling CNN a bar employee gave her a ride home. She never reported for work Monday, and her sister says she's not the type to go AWOL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLIVIA COX, KELLI BORDEAUX'S SISTER: She joined the military because she knew that was going to better her life. And so, she just did the best she could. She wanted to make her family proud and she knew joining the army was going to do that. She's loved by all of her friends and family and we all just really want her to come home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Bordeaux joined the arm ay one year ago and reported for duty in Gt. Bragg as a health service specialist.
Warren Buffett is battling stage one prostate cancer. The billionaire investor will undergo daily radiation treatments for two months beginning in July. The 81 year old Buffett says he feels great and his energy level is 100 percent. The world's third richest person writing a letter to his Berkshire Hathaway shareholders telling them his condition is, quote, "not remotely life threatening or debilitating in any meaningful way." Buffett going on to say "I will let shareholders know immediately should my health situation change."
U.S. stock futures down, Dow futures are about 25 points lower after a solid rally yesterday. Did you see that rally yesterday? Biggest in weeks. Everyone is waiting for news from Europe. There are concerns Spain may need a bailout now. Investors also waiting on more corporate earnings reports which have been unexpectedly good so far.
A man gets naked at the Portland International Airport last night. He says he was protesting the TSA screening process accusing agents of harassing him. And 50-year-old John Brennan was arrested and charged with indecent exposure. And that is a unique way to complain about TSA screening.
O'BRIEN: Proving the theory I have. I have a theory about people who get naked. The people you get naked are the people you never want to see get naked.
BENDAVID: That is unfair criticism of a man who has made a very, very strong stand this morning.
I salute him. Put your jacket back on and go through the screening like everybody else, sir.
O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, a Southern Baptist leader is now apologizing for calling prominent black religious leader "race hustlers." We'll talk this morning to the president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
And our "Get Real." A shovel ready project, $205,000 to move one shrub.
If you're about to head to work, don't miss the rest of the show. Go to our blog at CNN.com/startingpoint. Back in just a moment.
O'BRIEN: Calls to resign despite an apology this morning from the head of the Southern Baptist Convention public policy arm over comments he made in the Trayvon Martin case. Last week on his radio show Richard Land had this to say about Reverend Al Sharpton and Reverend Jesse Jackson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. RICHARD LAND, PRESIDENT, SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION, ETHICS AND RELIGIOUS LIBERTY COMMISSION: Not that the facts matter to people like Al Sharpton. Even if it turns out Zimmerman did not act out of fear, did act out of fear for his safety and not racial animosity, don't expect anyone stoking the racial fires to start issuing mea culpas. They'll be too busy looking for the next racial ambulance to chase because they're race hustlers who have made their careers and made their fortunes exploiting racism in the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: So, that was Richard Land talking. The comments didn't sit well with some Southern Baptists. After all the Southern Baptist Convention spent many years trying to distant itself from a complicated path that's been linked to racism in this country.
So on Monday Land apologized and he wrote this. "I'm writing to express my deep regret for any hurt or misunderstanding about my comments about the Trayvon Martin case. It grieves me to hear that any comments of mine have to any degree set back the cause of racial reconciliation in Southern Baptist or American life."
But some of the SBC's 16 million members say it's not enough. They are demanding his resignation. This as the religious group is expected to vote in its first African-American president in a few months.
Bryant Wright is the current president of the Southern Baptist Convention, joins us this morning. Nice to see you, thanks for talking with us. We just had a technological glitch and we have lost him. So we will see if we can get his connection up again, but we're going to ask him about these comments about Richard Land.
Interesting, I think when you look at the polling on the whole Trayvon Martin case, outside of the case, sort of no question that George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin, no one is arguing that part of the case. The question becomes, was it justified, anything anyone can be convicted of at the end of the day. African-Americans overwhelmingly see injustice done in not arresting him and white people for the most part, overwhelmingly see that injustice is done and arresting him in some way. The numbers are almost exactly flipped. And I think that this goes to the heart of what Richard Land is talking about. What he calls a rush to judgment and racial ambulance chasing.
CAIN: I don't know if that's put exactly right. I think the poll would reflect it, if my Twitter feed is any reflection of how people feel the assumption of knowing the unknowable. We still don't know exactly what happened in this case and that doubt, some people really don't like hearing that doubt in this case.
O'BRIEN: I think the biggest question is about racial profiling. I think black people say racial profiling exists and they will cite personal experiences they have. They'll say, racial profiling exists, so, no surprise that this could have happened with George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin and there should be an arrest because to not have an arrest is an indication that the police aren't doing their job. I think white people, and this is broad strokes on this, a very nonscientific polling on my part, who don't have an experience personally with racial profiling say, let's wait for a judgment. Let's see how it turns out.
KREMER: I don't think that when we're talking about white people versus, you know, African-Americans, I think everybody wants justice done in this case, justice served. And I believe in the justice system. I think most people do believe in the justice system.
But what we've seen played out here is it's being tried in the media, and it's just perpetuated by these comments that are being made from people all across the country and it's not helpful. Let the authorities, whether they be the state authorities in Florida or the federal authority, let them do their job and let justice be served in this case. That's what we need to do.
O'BRIEN: I think a lot of people would say that's philosophically great. If there wasn't protests and marches, probably the case would not have gone back to being reconsidered. If you remember what actually happened, the local folks started marching, and eventually it was Reverend Sharpton and reverend Jackson who flew in and became part of those marches. So maybe it would have just disappeared --
BENDAVID: Also, I think that black people in this country have had a lot of experiences with authorities not doing their job. You know, they've seen over decades that people who were supposed to step in and particularly in the south and pursue these cases whether it's police, prosecutors, judges haven't done what most of us would consider to be justice. And that's why they don't have the same trust that people with a different experience may have had.
And I think one of the things that Richard Land's comments highlight is white conservatives in the south do have a fairly complex history with race. I think for him to say that in that contest provoked a certain action which he himself had recognized when he apologized.
I think it just really shows that conversations about race are really mired in conflict and people's personal reactions and are informed by your sort of personal experience and then get ugly very, very fast.
I think we have Bryant Wright up, I hope you're there. There you are. Always nice to toss to you and see you in person. Richard Land has apologized but still calls for him to step down. Do you think those calls are merited?
BRYANT WRIGHT, PRESIDENT, SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION: I really don't in light of the fact that all throughout Richard Land's ministry he has been working for racial reconciliation. And racial reconciliation is very important to Southern Baptist Christians. And I know that he has apologized for comments that were in appropriate, that have inflamed the issue and I just ask others to be forgiving, as he has asked forgiveness for his actions here and let us all work together when it comes to racial reconciliation because our lord and savior Jesus Christ certainly wants mankind to love one another.
O'BRIEN: President Obama said, talked about the Trayvon Martin case. I believe it was one set of comment where he really talked about Trayvon Martin could be his son and said, he sort of said he felt very sorry for the family. Richard Land said this about the president's comments and I want to play them for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAND: He knows that this is prejudice in the case and fanning the flames. People say, why would he do this? Mr. Obama is in deep trouble for reelection, and the only chance he has is getting 95 percent of the black vote and getting the black vote to be as high as it was last time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: What do you make of those comments?
WRIGHT: Well, I think Richard Land has come out and expressed an apology for comments that were inappropriate in that setting and I think all of us have made mistakes when it comes to comments about racial issues through the years and I'm just sorry that for a man like Richard Land, who has really worked so hard to lead so many Southern Baptist Christians to have a greater sensitivity and understanding and call for justice in areas of racial reconciliation has made some comments that have, obviously, been offensive to others and inappropriate in this situation.
But he has asked forgiveness. And I think when someone acknowledges that they said some things that are inappropriate and asked forgiveness, I think it is our calling to forgive and accept that apology.
O'BRIEN: Have you had conversations with the incoming president who would be the first African-American president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Reverend Luter of New Orleans, I believe is where he's from? What kind of conversations do you have about moving the organization forward and taking this controversy, if you will, and at least sort of getting something positive out of it, if that's doable.
WRIGHT: Fred Luter is a very fine pastor and he pastures the strongest Southern Baptist church in New Orleans and probably will be elected as the next president of the Southern Baptist Convention. And these comments were disappointing for him and yet he has also expressed an acceptance of Richard Land's apology and urging us to move forward and any steps that we can take when it comes to racial reconciliation. He is a mighty fine man.
O'BRIEN: Thank you for joining us. Nice to see you, sir, we appreciate your time this morning. Sorry about our technical difficulties off the top. It's great to have you as part of this conversation.
WRIGHT: Glad to be with you.
O'BRIEN: Thank you.
We'll come back in just a moment and continue this conversation about breaking news. U.S. troops apparently posing in photos with dead bodies, the pictures taken back in 2010. Apparently those bodies of suicide bombers in Afghanistan, the "L.A. Times" apparently will be releasing those photos at 8:00 a.m. eastern time and we're going to, obviously, keep following this story for you. So we're going to take just a short break. We're back in just a moment.
O'BRIEN: That is not my song. Who is that? That comes from Congressman Steve Israel's playlist.
The election battle year over Texas and how to best grow the U.S. economy is going to again come to a head tomorrow that when a Republican bill to cut small business taxes will come up for a vote.
On Tuesday Majority Leader Eric Cantor taking up the bill suggesting that it will not only create jobs, but also help women at the same time. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR (R), MAJORITY LEADER: There's a study out, which shows that this bill fully implemented would create additional 100,000 plus new jobs. And, in fact, the beneficiaries of this policy are small businesses and, frankly, a third of those small businesses are women-owned businesses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Sounds good, right? But Democrats say this thing is nothing more than a tax cut for the most wealthy. President Obama is already vowing to veto the bill, if it reaches his desk and it becomes clear the Republicans and Democrats are divided over taxes, lots of Americans seem to agree that the current system isn't working.
There's a new CNN/ORC poll that shows that 68 percent of Americans think the current system benefits the rich isn't fair to the rest.
Democratic Congressman Steve Israel of New York is the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee joins us this morning.
Obviously, fairness in taxes is a big topic in this political year and no surprise that it's coming up in a political year. Why do you think what Eric Cantor is proposing is not a good thing?
If you believe him, he's saying 100,000 jobs would help women, sounds like it would help the middle class, as well.
REPRESENTATIVE STEVE ISRAEL (D), NEW YORK: Well, over one half of this so-called small business tax cut goes to people earning over $1 million a year. This is a typical House Republican bait and switch.
You put a label on something saying it's for small businesses, but you give away the store to millionaires. You tell people that because of our debt, we have to dismantle Medicare because we can't afford it on the one hand.
But then you pass a $46 billion tax cut for millionaires that's not paid for. I'm all for investments in the middle class, giving incentives to small businesses, but this doesn't make investments and incentives in small businesses and moms and pops in the middle class.
This is another unfunded, unpaid for tax give away, giving away the store to people who are earning over $1 million a year.
BENDAVID: Mr. Chairman, this Naftali Bendavid with the "Wall Street Journal." I just wanted to ask you, how are you feeling currently about your chances of retaking the House?
There are a lot of people who would say that right now Democrats would take about 10 seats, which is far short of the 25 they need and redistricting if anything help. So how do you feel about your odds at the moment?
ISRAEL: Well, Naftali, you know, I'm a big fan of the New York Mets. I understand patience and you have to wait to the last game of the season and we're not there yet. I've said from day one that this is an uphill battle, but that the House will be in range.
I can tell you today, the House is in range. We'll see what happens in November. The more House Republicans say that we've got to end Medicare because we can't afford it, but keep getting tax cuts to millionaires.
The more they divest from the middle class and kick the middle class in the stomach with budgets like the ones that they're passing, the better our chances. But that also gives us an obligation to offer some solutions.
Our solution to this economy is fundamentally you invest in the middle class. We want people to pay the lowest taxes possible. The problem now is that the rich are paying less and the middle class is paying more. That's why we need to have a tax code that is fair and that invests in middle class families.
KREMER: Yes, Congressman, this is Amy Kremer with Tea Party Express. I just have to say Republicans don't want to end Medicare. Republicans want to reform Medicare.
It was just last May that the Board of Trustees issued a report saying if it was not reformed, it would be bankrupt by 2024, I believe. It falls on both Republicans and the Democrats to take the necessary steps to reform this program so that our seniors can count on it in their future years.
That's what they banked on their whole lives they worked hard and they deserve that. It falls on both parties. The party politics of going back and forth and blaming each other is not acceptable. You both need to stand up and do what's right for the American people. O'BRIEN: I'm going to throw a question on to the end of Amy's point, which is in an election year, is that going to be possible? In a year where there's a benefit for everybody running to a camera and positions that are opposite of what the other person is stating. Is that even viable?
ISRAEL: Well, why can't we do something like give the secretary of Health and Human Services the authority to negotiate volume discounts of prescription drugs for Medicare just like the secretary of Veteran Affairs does?
That will help to stabilize prices. There are a lot of things we can agree on. The problem is this, Amy. I agree with you. We need to reform Medicare. We need to strengthen it. We need ensure its solvency.
The criticism I have, with all due respect, of House Republicans is they start solving the budget crisis by taking seniors off Medicare, by turning it from a guaranteed benefit program into a coupon program where you may have it, you may not.
And the Congressional Budget Office says under any scenario it's going to cost you an additional $6,000. Why are we this week passing a $46 billion tax cuts for millionaires, but at the same time saying we are going to balance our budget, not by making taxes low and fair, but by asking seniors to pay more first?
O'BRIEN: Congressman Steve Israel is a Democrat from New York joining us this morning. It's nice to see you, sir. Thanks for the time. Appreciate it.
Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, did you hear the story? A 6-year-old kid cuffed after throwing a fit in school. We're going to talk about what happened there. Did they go overboard? I think the answer is yes, they did.
Also, a lotto winner now in trouble. Accused of keeping her winning secret while she cashed her welfare checks. Stay out of the news if you win lotto or you're going to get caught.
And an update on our breaking news out of Afghanistan. We're going to update you on that photo that was supposed to be released by the "L.A. Times" in roughly 20 minutes or so. So you're watching STARTING POINT. We got to take a short break.
O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. We start with breaking news, the photos are out. It could be huge problems U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. "L.A. Times "releasing some new pictures, which show soldiers posing with the remains of suicide bombers.
The paper says a photo shows a soldier from the 82nd Airborne with a dead insurgent's hand resting on his shoulder. It was taken back in 2010. The commander of coalition forces says these pictures are strongly condemned.
It says that it represents a serious error in judgment by several soldiers who acted out of ignorance. We're following the story. As soon as we have the photos, we'll bring them to you.
Got to get to some other stories making news, Christine has the headlines for us. Hi, Christine. Good morning.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning again, Soledad. Warming up to climate change, a significant majority of Americans now believe global warming contributed to our unusually warm winter and a bunch of other weather disasters in the last year.
Still wonder in March the number of reported tornadoes in the U.S. was nearly triple the 20-year average combined that with last summer's stifling heat wave, throw in blizzards in each of the last two winters and dangerous drought conditions in Texas, Oklahoma.
Yale and George Mason University finding 69 percent of Americans now believe global warming is affecting our weather.
A 26-year-old Michigan mom is facing felony fraud charges for cashing thousands of dollars worth of food stamps after winning the lottery. Amanda Clayton spent Monday night in jail and was arraigned yesterday.
Prosecutors claim she failed to inform state welfare officials about her million dollar jackpot win and cashed more than $5,000 in food stamps after collecting a lump sum lottery payment of $735,000. Here's Amanda's mom in defense of her daughter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EULINE CLAYTON, AMANDA'S MOTHER: When I spoke with her, she said she called the welfare office and they don't return your phone calls. So, what are you supposed to do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So she tried to report --
CLAYTON: She tried to report it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Amanda Clayton has pleaded not guilty. Her lawyer says he plans to ask for all these charges to be dropped at a hearing next week.
Police in Milledgeville, Georgia, are standing by their decision to handcuff a 6-year-old kindergarten student after she threw a tantrum at school. They say Salecia Johnson was out of control and had to be "cuffed," quote, for her own safety." The girl's family doesn't see it that way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CANDACE RUFF, 6-YEAR-OLD'S AUNT: She might have misbehaved, but I don't think she actually misbehaved to the point that she should have been handcuffed and taken downtown to the police department.
DRAY SWICORD, MILLEDGEVILLE POLICE CHIEF (via telephone): Our policy states that any detainee transported to our station in a patrol vehicle should be handcuffed in the back. There's no age discrimination on that rule.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Police say the girl was not charged. She will not be charged because of her age.
Some scary moments on the ice last night during an NHL playoff game between the Phoenix Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks. A vicious hit delivered by Torres right near center ice. Torres driving his shoulder into Hoza's head, he went off on a stretcher and was taken to a hospital in Chicago. Torres could face a suspension for that hit.
The Denver Rockies making history last night. Their pitcher, Jamie Moyer now the oldest pitcher to win a game in the Major League. They beat the San Diego Padres, 5-3. How old is pitcher Jamie Moyer, he's 49 years old, 49 years old and 159 days old.
Moyer first joined the Major Leagues back in 1986. He got emotional last night talking about his record-breaking win.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMIE MOYER, COLORADO ROCKIES: It's a special night for me. You know, a lot of emotion. It's been a long time since 2010. It's only three games, but, you know, winning my first game, as I said earlier, I kind of feel like it's my first game.
And it's pretty much all I know and it's pretty much all I've done my whole life and I'm still able to live the dream. And I still believed I have the passion for the game and it's a special night for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Wow, Moyer is just 80 days older than the last player to hold that record. That was Jack Quinn of the Brooklyn Dodgers who set the record in 1932. Wow. Can you imagine, he started in '86, Soledad?
O'BRIEN: I love that. He's 49-1/2 years old. He is awesome. We had Jim Abbot on yesterday, a pitcher. I love hearing these guys talk. I don't follow sports all that closely, but I love the passion for sports and sort of the metaphor of sports.
CAIN: A lot of people see Jamie Moyer win a game at 50. We'll see it, right?
O'BRIEN: I believe it, 50 is the new 30. That's what I say. Now that I'm getting closer to it every day.
Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, today's get real is about blaming Bush, no, not the former President Bush, an actual bush.
More tax dollars being wasted. This story is so crazy and that's the bush right there. My 11-year-old daughter likes this song, too. You're watching STARTING POINT.
O'BRIEN: That's Brooks and Dunn off Amy's playlist. Our "Get Real" this morning is kind of crazy. We turn to the state of California, a state as we have reported many times, huge financial problems.
However, still managed to spend more than $205,000, yes, $205,000 on that plant right there to relocate a single shrub that was standing in the way of a billion dollar highway project in San Francisco.
Here's the reason why. Apparently, the plant was located in the roadway improvement project and so, this plant, which is actually known, it is one of the few rare one growing in the wild right in the middle of the median, which meant they had to dig up and replant it
The cost of all that work, I guess, removal, $100,000, that sounds high to me and I've been ripped off by many contractors. Transfer $25,000 total came out to $205,000.
However, the kicker in this, of course, you can buy these plants. They're not from the wild, but you can buy them in a nursery for roughly like $15.98.
KREMER: Soledad, you know, I'm a big gardener and I love gardening more than anything and, actually, to get my hands in the dirt and remove me from all this political stuff.
But you know what? There are societies and garden clubs that are willing to go and do this stuff at no charge. I know we have them in Georgia. They're all over the state. I'm sure they're in California, too. Why did they not tap into some of these people to do this?
O'BRIEN: So you think the removing of the plant itself, which seems like this rationale behind it, which is this is the last one growing in the wild, through the concrete and has been there for a long time. But not thinking of sort of creative ways to do it. I would dig up that plant for $40,000.
CAIN: Are you telling me that we shouldn't have paid government?
O'BRIEN: By the way --
CAIN: For $16 at the local nursery. I'm having a hard time at this story.
KREMER: Do you know how long it takes to grow a gallon plant to that huge of a plant. It takes a long time.
O'BRIEN: The plant is not valuable. We do think other people could jump in --
KREMER: It is valuable now.
O'BRIEN: By the way, SOB, which happens to be my initials.
Just checking, still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT. It's a show that starts off with shalom, my brothers. Growing up with her famous dad who is black and her mom is Jewish.
In honor of our guests, here is Creed singing "Rain." You're watching STARTING POINT.
O'BRIEN: This is "Respect." How many people have sung around with this song with a hair brush? You are a stand-up comedian and singer. Your dad is Richard Pryor. He died at the age of 65, a little over six years ago now.
You call him one of your biggest influences ever. You are starring in a limited run, which is a one woman show that's taking place off Broadway on 36th Street here in Manhattan.
It takes a look at racism in the '60s and '70s. It's Nice to have you back. We certainly appreciate it. So it's your life story but framed a lot around your dad who was a huge influence. Did you have to sort of run it by him before? You performed it back ten years ago. Then you brought it back.
RAIN PRYOR, DAUGHTER OF COMEDIAN, RICHARD PRYOR: Not at all. The only thing I ran by him is when I do him in the show. I asked would that be OK? And then since he's passed, you know, I add a couple things obviously because things have changed since I first created it. He said no problem.
O'BRIEN: How many different characters do you play?
PRYOR: About 12.
O'BRIEN: All from your life?
O'BRIEN: What's the range?
PRYOR: The range is from high school, I play my Jewish grandmother. I play my dad. I play kids from my school. I play the woman at my dad's funeral who was ridiculous and all those things.
CAIN: Who is that woman at your dad's funeral that was ridiculous?
PRYOR: Whoever they paid to do this eulogy that one else wrote that was hideous really. That's going in the show.
O'BRIEN: It's a long play with not a break in between. You're playing all these different characters out of your own life. Does it feel like a relief at the end of the show or do you feel exhausted about reliving some of these very tough moments in your life?
PRYOR: I thought I wrote a drama. I realized I wrote a comedy. It's kind of fun for me. I have a great time playing these different people and going into them and exploring who they are and coming out of it. It's exciting.
CAIN: When I think of an actor playing multiple characters, I think of Eddie Murphy. He had the aid of a lot of makeup and wardrobe. Do you have the same aid in this?
PRYOR: I do not. I believe that the audience should come on the journey and it's the actor's responsibility to take you there. I have no props.
CAIN: You could play two different characters?
PRYOR: I could.
CAIN: Could you? Show us the two ends of the spectrum.
PRYOR: My Jewish grandmother on the night Obama became president she called me up on the phone and she said rain flower, I want you to know, I'm so happy for your people. She's just one of those.
I asked her once did you have any black friends? We had a black maid once. We were friendly. I paid her well and then there's my paternal grandmother, now, Soledad, you is about as they come. You got a boob job because it looks good. That's who these people are.
O'BRIEN: You said you're a survivor. What's the hardest thing to survive? Do you feel you're on the other side of it?
PRYOR: Absolutely. You can exist in this world that's of its own called Hollywood and have a life. For me that's kind of where I've come through and to be someone who is black and Jewish and say but I'm part of the human race. I'm not either/or. I am but you know.
BENDAVID: You do a lot of comic work with difference between black and Jewish community. I'm proud but feel guilty kind of thing. Are there ways in which communities are similar and can come together?
PRYOR: It's very hopeful. The food is good on both sides, you know. That's one of them. I think the commonalities of feeling displaced are part of it. If you look back at African-American we were brought over in slavery and the Jews are fighting for whatever they are fighting for. I don't know.
O'BRIEN: The show is on West 36th Street. Not far from where we live. It's nice to see you. We have to take a short break.
Still ahead on STARTING POINT -- the panel is out of control. How much money would make you happy? How much money would make you happy, Will Cain? CAIN: A lot. I don't need money I'm just happy.
O'BRIEN: President Obama feeling the gas price pressure promises a new crackdown on the oil markets. Reels them in. Is it the same political ploy he mocked a few weeks ago? We're going to talk to Senator Nelson from Florida talking about that.
We have breaking news we're following this morning, new controversy from those troops in Afghanistan. We're going to hear a live report from Afghanistan this morning also update you on what the Pentagon is saying. You're watching "STARTING POINT." We'll take a break and be back in a moment.