Return to Transcripts main page
STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN
New Jersey Father Goes Public with Tape; New Details On Bin Laden's Death; Senate Backs Postal Service; President and Romney Urge Student Debt Interest Rates for Government Loans Do Not Increase; Think You're Hot?; Wonder Woman Spins New Tune
Aired April 26, 2012 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN GUEST HOST: Our STARTING POINT, bully on wire tape. We're talking to a dad who wired his son, his autistic son to expose teachers he says tormented the child at school.
Plus, inside the raid, one year after Navy SEALs swooped in and killed Osama Bin Laden, brand new details this morning about how it all went down and who voted against the raid. It will surprise you. Who was left in the dark about it until the last moments?
Wonder Woman in a backspin. Linda Carter is here live talking about going back to her roots. It's Thursday, April 26th. STARTING POINT begins right now.
This is from Lynda Carter's playlist, on her own playlist. I wish I could sing on my playlist. She will join us later this hour. John Fugelsang is here, political comedian. Abby Huntsman, she is a political commentator and the daughter of Jon Huntsman and Will Cain, a columnist at theblaze.com. Nice to see you all this Wednesday --
All right, it's a story that's creating a national stir. A father in New Jersey planting a recording device on his 10-year-old son to spy on the teachers in the classroom. Stuart Chaifetz became suspicious when administrators told him Akian, who has autism, has autism, has been acting out violently in school. So, he hooked him up with a wiretap and that tape had some stunning revelations.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shut up!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You go to see any books in the library or you just looking at sculptures?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, Akian, you are a bastard.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ROMANS: The school fired an aide but another teacher caught on that tape was transferred to another school.
Stuart Chaifetz joins us now. And, you know, this story is -- I don't know your child. And the story is heartbreaking. You must be furious.
Why did -- why did you decide to put the wiretap on him in the first place?
STUART CHAIFETZ, RECORDED SON'S TEACHERS: Well, when I started getting reports that my son was hitting his teacher and his aide, I knew something was wrong because my son has always been a very nonviolent and gentle and loving child. And Akian, I've never seen him hit anyone before. So, I knew there was something wrong.
I tried to work within the system of the school, but then I realized it came to a point when I was never going to find out what happened unless I could put myself in that room and the only way to do that was through a digital audio recorder.
ROMANS: All right. You recorded over seven hours in that original recording. Let's play another clip and then talk about that.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had a bottle of wine with my girlfriend last night. I forgot to eat dinner.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, God.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know what I was doing this morning?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Heaving?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my God, so bad. The wine won.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ROMANS: So, what were you thinking when you heard that? I mean, here, these are supposed to be trained aides, teachers for your child with special needs, in the school district, and this is the conversation you're hearing.
CHAIFETZ: Well, I mean, I was shattered when I heard what happened. The first 15 minutes of the day alone were so disgusting and disturbing, the way that they yelled at my son. The way that the inappropriate conversations.
It was the unbelievable disrespect they had for those children. They treated them as if they were unfeeling machines who could, because of their disabilities, could never tell parents about what they were doing in that class.
And my heart broke. And my -- at the same time, I realized that this could not be kept a secret.
ROMANS: Let me -- there's another clip from that recording. Teachers interacting with your son and it has to do with whether that your son could see you. And on the back on it, I'll have you explain why this particular interaction is so important.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
AKIAN: May I see dad after mom?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
AKIAN: May I see?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can't see.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ROMANS: One of these teachers is laughing about this. Obviously, this exchange caused your child torment. Explain why.
CHAIFETZ: You know, I can't listen without being enraged about what they did.
To explain that, I'm a single parent. My son lives with me most of the times, because he has autism, he has difficulty transitioning on the weekends when he sees his mom. So, he says, may I see dad after mom? It's a very sweet, innocent thing he says. He just needs to be reassured. And instead, they really just stabbed him with their words.
That second clip when that woman felt so comfortable making fun of him and you hear the teacher and the aide laugh at him and then he starts to cry uncontrollably, I'm still haunted by that. That they felt so comfortable that they could make fun of him and no one would stand up for him. It's just unbelievable.
ROMANS: I want to bring the panel in. But, you know, what's interesting here is that a child with special needs in the school system.
I mean, the taxpayers are paying a great deal of money to make sure those children are getting care, not baby sitting or bullying, but care so that they can function. They can function at the highest level they can -- to hear this is just, as a taxpayer, parent, as a human, is just heartbreaking.
JOHN FUGELSANG, POLITICAL COMEDIAN: I'm glad you brought up bullying, because it does relate to bullying on the issue of when we entrust our children to these institutions for care, we can expect a certain standard of behavior from all of the staff members.
And, Mr. Chaifetz, good morning. It's John Fugelsang. I thank you very much for what you've done, speaking as somebody who has worked in special ed in the past. For those parents watching, can you explain to us the kind of recording device and microphone you use and how you concealed it on your kid? Because I think a lot of people would like to know.
ROMANS: And a lot of school administrators are terrified that this going to be a national craze.
CHAIFETZ: And, you know, one of the things that's happened, I've gotten so many e-mails from parents asking me that. It's simpler than you can imagine. You can get a $30 digital audio recorder. It's just -- I have it on me. I brought it with me. It's something this size. You can put it into a child's front pocket and they'll never know it's there.
And if you feel that there's something going wrong at your school and your child is unable to tell you, if it's legal in your state, check first.
CHAIFETZ: But you know your child better than anyone. If you think there's something wrong and you need to know, then do what you have to do. I mean, if it was illegal in New Jersey, I still would have done it because --
ROMANS: I'll tell you something -- I know a mother whose child is on this spectrum and says the mantra of parents like her is that if you are not there, they don't care. Meaning, you have to show up at random times at school. You have to -- she says you have to do things like this. There are so many wonderful teachers.
And yesterday we highlighted the teacher of the year. I said the most important job in America is a good teacher in a school.
The most dangerous job in America is bad teacher or bad aide who is getting in the way of someone's learning or someone's functioning.
I want to read, though, the superintendent of the school district, how they responded ant get your response, too.
"Although this is a personnel matter and there are specifics that I cannot legally address publicly, I want to assure our parents that the individuals who are heard on the recording raising their voices and inappropriately addressing children no longer work in the district and have not since shortly after we received a copy of the recording."
You've said the aide was fired but the teacher was merely transferred. Have you heard anything else on this matter? Has the school sufficiently kept you informed about what happened to those people?
CHAIFETZ: Well, no, they didn't. Literally minutes after I heard -- I read that story on the Web site, I took a video camera. I made a second video which is on my YouTube channel where I called the high school where that teacher was transferred to. I played her voice mail so you heard her voice, which means that statement is incorrect by them, because a teacher who you heard laughing at my son and calling him that vicious name, she was not dismissed from the school. She was transferred to the high school.
ROMANS: So, that is a teacher who says the B-word about your child is a teacher who is now working somewhere else in another district you're saying?
CHAIFETZ: Yes, yes. That's what that second video proved it, because -- you know, I wasn't at war with the district. I appreciate that they did fire the first person. I appreciate that they took action.
But my fight is the fact that the teacher whose primary responsibility is to protect my son, was the lead bully against him and she didn't lose her job. And she was transferred to that high school, which is why I played that voice mail to prove it that I wasn't a liar as they try to show. She really is there.
ROMANS: It's notoriously difficult to fire a tenured teacher as we all know. And Education Action group did a study that shows that it takes up to five years to fire a teacher for an event like this.
So, you think that's why this teacher simply wasn't fired. It's going to be a big headache for the school district?
CHAIFETZ: It's very possible. That's why, you know, I put that petition out there. I hope if there's a congressman or governor listening to the show today, that they're going to rise up, because there's so much public support for drawing the line in the sand. I'm not against tenure.
But when there's evidence that a teacher has violated a child physically or emotionally, they should be immediately discharged and their teaching certificate torn up so they can never teach again. Teaching is not a right. It's a privilege. And when you violate a child in any way, you lose that privilege and that's why we need a strong change to the law.
ROMANS: I want to you about the public response. You mention this Internet campaign or this campaign you want to make things -- you know, you want to make lawmakers aware of what's happening here. You put a petition on change.org. How has the response been?
CHAIFETZ: Unbelievable. You know, I just checked it before the show. There were more than 100,000 signatures. I never expected this. In fact, when I first set it up I was worried that people wouldn't care or think about it. I set 1,000 signatures as a goal. We blew past that in the first few hours.
So, there's so much an outpouring of love for my son from people. I want to thank everyone.
ROMANS: How is he doing? Is he still in school? This is in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, right? Is he still in school? Is he having a new aide? Are you happy with what's happening?
CHAIFETZ: I really don't want to comment where he is, but he's doing much better. The minute that he was taken away from these people, he immediately improved and he hasn't lashed out at anyone, which told me even more that it was these people who were tormenting him that the only way he could tell me there was something wrong was by him lashing out. It was his way of communicating say, dad, help me. I'm sorry it took me so long to really understand what happened.
ROMANS: All right. Stuart Chaifetz, thank you so much. I mean, it's had 2.1 million hits on YouTube. I mean, clearly, your story and what you've done on behalf of your child trying to get change from a system that wasn't listening, it resonated with parents and with all of us. Thanks so much for joining us.
CHAIFETZ: Thank you. I very much appreciate it.
ROMANS: And our best to your son.
Time now to go to Zoraida Sambolin for the other big stories of the morning.
Good morning, Zoraida.
ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: I got to tell you, that was ultimate in advocating for your child. Thank you for that.
New report suggesting that strippers and prostitutes were part of the culture in the Secret Service. KIRO TV in Seattle quotes a government subcontractor who worked with the Secret Service advance team in El Salvador prior to President Obama's trip there in March of 2011. That source says about a dozen agents and military personnel got wasted at a strip club and paid extra for the VIP area.
But Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who oversees the Secret Service, says this is not typical behavior.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHIARMAN: To your knowledge, is this the first time something like this has happened?
JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: There was nothing in the record to suggest that this behavior would happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: The Secret Service tells CNN it has no comment but one source says the reaction by our leadership speaks for itself.
And for the first time, the parents of missing Arizona 6-year- old Isabel Celis are speaking out begging for their daughter's safe return.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are here today to plea for a safety return of our baby girl Isabel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're looking for you, Isabel. We love you. We miss you so much. We will never give up. We will never give up looking for you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: Isabel was reported missing last Saturday morning. Tucson police say they are scaling back the search for the little girl. If you have information, you are urged to please call police.
Rupert Murdoch on the hot seat this morning for a second day. He's denying accusations that he used his media empire to influence British prime ministers over the past few decades. He testified at a hearing yesterday saying, "I have never asked a prime minister for anything." Murdoch's testimony continues today.
They called her a sinner and now she is suing. A Catholic school teacher in Indiana has filed a federal lawsuit against the diocese, claiming she was fired for receiving in vitro fertility treatments.
Emily Herx claims one official at St. Vincent de Paul School called her a grave moral sinner. She also allegedly warned that it could cause a huge scandal for the church if it got out. No response yet from the church -- Christine.
ROMANS: All right. Zoraida, thank you so much.
Ahead on STARTING POINT: killing bin Laden one year later, "TIME" magazine with brand new riveting details about the raid and why this raid almost never happened.
And this is so getting tweeted. It's a picture of President Obama with a totally shocked college student. It's exploded on social media. It's things like that will it help push the president over the top with young voters?
This is Allman Brothers Band, "Rambling Man," from Abby's playlist.
You're watching STARTING POINT.
ROMANS: It was year ago this coming Tuesday that President Obama announced that the mastermind behind the 9/11 terror attacks had been killed by U.S. forces.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama Bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who's responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: And now new details emerging. The new issue of "Time" magazine exclusively reports information about both Bin Laden's life in Abbottabad and the 38 minute special ops raid that led to his death. Joining us is the magazine's deputy Washington bureau chief. Michael Crowley. It is compelling reading. It really is.
MICHAEL CROWLEY, DEPUTY WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, TIME MAGAZINE: It is.
ROMANS: And I'll tell you that even in the days after his death, we were saying, oh, how could we have so many details? Why wasn't more of the secret? But there really is a lot still to look at, most, I think, fascinating how small the circle of people who knew about this was up until the very last moment. Tell us about that.
CROWLEY: Yes. Well, one reason we have a lot of detail is Graham Allison (ph), who's a former government official now at the Harvard Kennedy School, was allowed access into the White House, CIA, and Pentagon. He spent hundred hours talking to people and reviewing documents. And, one of the key points he makes is that there was just unbelievable secrecy around this operation.
They started talking about doing this in 2010, and for months, only about a half dozen people very senior national security people at the White House knew that this plan was in the works. And, one of the great details he has is when they start to expand the circle and tell more and more people, the point where it finally comes out is that they call to brief Congressional leaders.
We all know what blabber mouths people on Capitol Hill are. Five minutes after they brief Capitol Hill, five minutes, the news has gone public.
CROWLEY: So, they did pretty good right up until those final moments before the operation goes public.
ROMANS: I want to read an excerpt here. "The Abbottabad material was so compartmentalized that it was excluded from the threat matrix in the president's super secret daily brief at a fear that it would raise flags at the Departments of State and Defense and other agencies."
And frankly, defense Secretary Robert Gates and secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, weren't part of the circle really until after Leon Panetta went and talked to the intelligence communities, is that right?
CROWLEY: That is right. It was an extremely small circle. A lot of cabinet members did not know. You actually had a bunch of national security staffers in that inside circle, Tom Donilon, the national security adviser, Denis McDonough, his deputy, John Brennan, Obama's top aide for counterterrorism, a few others.
So, a lot of the big names that people know, you know, the bold face cabinet officials, they were in the dark. I think one reason for this Allison makes this point is when Obama was deciding whether to send more troops to Afghanistan a couple years ago, a lot of that information leaked out, and the process was messy in public. They learned that lesson from that.
ROMANS: And defense secretary, Robert Gates, and Joint Chiefs of Staff, Vice Chairman James Cartwright, opposed the raid. There's a great part of the story where they're talking about people taking a vote about whether you should do it or not. Those two didn't want to do it. Why?
CROWLEY: Well, and also Secretary Gates as well as Vice President Biden and General Cartwright all opposed it. Smart, experienced people -- they had different reasons. You know, it wasn't unified, but I think that one of the core concerns was that if you sent men in, boots on the ground, there was a high possibility that the Pakistanis, for one thing, would discover the mission, and you could get into a fight with the Pakistanis which adds a very dangerous and complicated new wrinkle.
And that it might be safer to just do it from a distance. Drop a huge bomb on the compound. But Obama decided that he wanted clearer evidence that the mission had succeed, and we'd gotten Bin Laden, didn't want people saying, no, he had gotten away and he was living in the mountains and the myth would live on.
And I believe Vice President Biden may have thought they should take more time to get greater certainty. I'm not positive --
ROMANS: Well, they didn't really know if he was there. I mean, at some point, they thought maybe there was a 40 percent chance that he was there, 60 percent chance. They knew there was this tall figure.
ROMANS: Tell us a little bit about the intelligence that may or may not have been used to try to pinpoint was -- you know, UAV that looks like an eagle, for example, actually, testing the water of the town maybe to see if there's DNA from the Bin Laden family there?
CROWLEY: Right. Unfortunately, Allison's language had to be a little bit cryptic. They couldn't confirm exactly what they had done, but he writes that in some of the option they consider were testing. It's not pleasant testing the sewage in the town for genetic markers, and then, another was this UAV. Actually, it wasn't an eagle size UAV. It's much smaller.
I think it's the size of like a hummingbird, this tiny little flying drone that, at one point, had been attacked by an eagle because it seemed so realistic. So, they were really using all their most cutting edge capabilities to try to nail this down, but they still, as you say, Mike Leiter (ph) who run a National Counterterrorism Center, he still thought it was only 40 percent on the eve of the operation that it was actually Bin Laden.
ROMANS: Wow. And seriously, the electricity was cut off just before the raid. Bin Laden told his wife to keep the lights off. When she woke up, startled, could hear that something was happening. And he said keep the lights off. It turns out they didn't have a choice to keep the lights off.
CROWLEY: Didn't have much choice on that. No.
ROMANS: All right. Michael Crowley, deputy Washington bureau "Time" Magazine. Really compelling reading. Peter Bergen reporting on the conditions, Harvard professor, Graham Allison (ph) reporting on the operation. Really good stuff in there. Thanks so much.
CROWLEY: Thank you.
ROMANS: All right. Ahead on STARTING POINT, of all of the gin joints and all the towns all the world, he walks into mine.
ROMANS: Hear from the super excited college student in this picture and whether stunts like this will help the president with the youth vote in November.
If you're headed to work, check out our live blog and the rest of the show on CNN.com/STARTINGPOINT or you can chat with us @STARTINGPOINTCNN or for me, @ChristineRomans.
ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Twenty-four minutes past the hour. Here is what's happening.
SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Billions of federal dollars may soon go to help save the U.S. Postal Service. In a bipartisan vote, the Senate agreed to give $11 billion to help keep the postal service from shutting down thousands of offices across the country. It also allows Saturday delivery to continue. The House takes up the issue next.
Police pepper spraying a cameraman and his camera as he was trying to tape an arrest during a wild student protest. This is Montreal. Riot police called in as 11,000 students protested tuition hikes. Cops declared it an illegal assembly. They arrested more than two dozen people there.
SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Christine, back to you.
ROMANS: All right. Thank you, Zoraida.
All right. A college student sitting in bar with friends, pretty normal day in most college towns, but then, the president of the United States walks in. That's what happened to the University of Colorado junior, Madalyn Starkey Tuesday when President Obama made an unscheduled stop at the local student hangout, "The Sink, " in Boulder.
This photo of Madalyn and the president went viral after she posted it on Twitter. Zoraida talked to Madeleine earlier this morning.
MADALYN STARKEY, STUDENT WHO TOOK PHOTO WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA: He like went around to everyone's table, shaking hands, saying hey, like introducing himself. And I just get like so star struck when I see famous people. And so, I literally was just like, ah, can I get a picture with you?
And he was like, yes, for sure. Stand up. And so, we did that. And then, after that, I was just like, well, you smell good. And that was pretty much the whole conversation I had with President Obama.
SAMBOLIN: You told the president that he smells good?
SAMBOLIN: What did he say when you said that?
STARKEY: He just kind looked at me awkwardly and was like, yes, thanks, and then, he moved on.
I've always known that he's like a really nice, charismatic guy. So, I mean, yes, he definitely showed that when he was in the place. He's shaking everyone's hands and taking pictures and signing autographs. And so, yes, you know, he's a wonderful dude.
ROMANS: She didn't say if she would vote for him or not. That's what I find really interesting. I mean, the whole point of this excursion is so that he can drum up support.
LIVINGSTON: She'll remember what he smelled like in the voting booth.
FUGELSANG: Her parents may be the Republicans who are paying her tuition.
ROMANS: I suspect that might be --
FUGELSANG: But it's nice to know that David Plouffe is coming up with ideas beyond e-mailing us all 20 times a day. So, I mean, whoever thought of this idea at "The Sink" was a pretty shrewd operator.
CAIN: Show up at college bars and shakes hands and there was, like, like, like.
(LAUGHTER) CAIN: That's going to reach a lot more college voters than Mitt Romney signing up for student loan subsidies.
LIVINGSTON: You forget that he's an expert campaigner, you know? He's so personable. And I think that's why he really excites the youth. I was in college when he ran in 2008. It was such a movement, and people see that again.
ROMANS: Ahead on, like, STARTING POINT, come fly with me as long as you're hot. A website where beautiful people can get free rides all over the world.
LIVINGSTON: Sorry, Will.
ROMANS: And wild video.
CAIN: I don't, like, care.
ROMANS: Wild video you don't want to miss. A plane wobbly ride as the pilot comes in for landing.
Plus, Wonder Woman is here. The iconic, Lynda Carter, joins us. The talented and iconic Linda Carter joining us.
Dinah Washington is from John's playlist, "Lover Come Back To Me." Dinah Washington is fantastic.
FUGELSANG: Great live album.
ROMANS: You're watching STARTING POINT.
ROMANS: And just into CNN, 388,000 jobless claims were filed for the first time last week. That's more than economists were expecting but it's below 400,000. That's the really important number that shows the labor market is healing. So 388,000 people lining up for jobless benefits for the first time last week. We already had futures lower. We'll see what that means for today.
Let's look at other big stories happening right now. Zoraida has got those. Good morning.
SAMBOLIN: Good morning, Christine. The Supreme Court justices seem to be siding with Arizona in the fight over its controversial immigration law. The federal government is arguing that states don't have authority to enforce immigration laws. President Obama appointed Justice Sonia Sotomayor says the fed's case is, quote, "not selling well." Earlier on STARTING POINT we spoke undocumented immigrant and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas to get his take on this issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS, JOURNALIST: What we have here is if these provisions come into play, can you imagine the United States of America having 50 different policies for each state when it deals with immigration?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: Protests against the law are heating up in Arizona. Nine demonstrators were arrested in Phoenix yesterday. The Supreme Court is expected to make its final decision in the summer. They are expecting that in June, actually.
Horrific testimony just too painful for singer Jennifer Hudson at her family's murder trial. Hudson shut her eyes as a police officer described finding the bloody bodies of her mother, brother and seven- year-old nephew. She walked out of the courtroom to avoid seeing disturbing crime scene videos of the victims. The defendant William Balfour reported wiping away tears as grizzly images of the seven- year-old were shown. Balfour is the estranged husband of Hudson's sister accused of killing her family in a jealous rage.
A new video this morning of the so called "death race caravan" that got two New Jersey state troopers suspended. They allegedly escorted expensive and fast luxury cars on a dangerous 100-mile-per- hour run to Atlantic City last month. Former New York Giant Brandon Jacobs was reportedly behind the wheel for one of those cars. An attorney for one of the officers tells us the incident is being exaggerated and suggested to us the troopers were doing their job.
The New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis will hold a press conference this afternoon ahead of the NFL draft. The Saints may have hard time picking players in the draft because the team still doesn't know what punishment they'll receive in connection with the team's bounty scandal. The draft kicks off today, but the one and two picks are already spoken for. Andrew Luck is reported to go number one. Heisman trophy winner Robert Griffin III going at number two.
And some frightening footage out of northern Spain as a pilot fights to keep control of his plane while landing in fierce 60-mile- an-hour winds. Take a look at this video. It was recorded in February and just released this week. The plane fishtailed violently as it approached the runway. It was a bumpy landing, but we're happy to report everything did turn out OK there. Maybe some sick people on board but they are fine.
ROMANS: Whoa. I've been on wobbly plane before but nothing like that. All right, thanks, Zoraida.
It's an issue that's hugely important to millions of young voters and their parents -- student loans. The current interest rate on a federally backed student loan for low and middle income students is scheduled to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent interest unless Congress acts. Why is this important? Last most the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reported that America's total student debt outstanding is around $1 trillion dollars. Compare that to outstanding credit card debt at about $800 billion. That may explain why both President Obama and the presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney agree and are honing in on this issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We can't price the middle class out of a college education. We can't do it.
OBAMA: Especially when most new jobs in America will require more than a high school diploma.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Particularly with the number of college graduates that can't find work or that can only find work well beneath their skill level, I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Republican Congressman Aaron Schock of Illinois is a Romney supporter helping to reach out to young voters. And thank you student loans is something that young voters are talking about and care about. And keeping those interest rates low for low and middle income voters is going to mean up to $5,000 over a 10-year course of payback on a loan. This is something that Mitt Romney and the president agree on.
REP. AARON SCHOCK, (R) ILLINOIS: Absolutely. You saw John Boehner spoke yesterday. The House Republicans agree as well. I think you'll see action on that extension this month. This issue will not be an issue in terms of whether or not interest rates should go up.
Christine, the interest rates really are one issue. Obviously what you pay on your student loans is an issue. You don't want that to go up. The bigger issue is the cost of college education that's gone up 25 percent. Three-quarters of high school graduates now are saying that college education is unaffordable for them. The big issue is once you get your degree, you can't find a job right now. Young people are hit the hardest in this economy.
ROMANS: You have to pay for it, and that's where Mitt Romney is sort of deviating from the script here, because it will cost $6 billion. You have to find a way to pay for it. It is actually taxpayers subsidizing kids going to college. It's taxpayers that pay to keep the interest rates low.
SCHOCK: It's also taxpayers that pay for most public institutions. Whether you go to a private institution, you may get a Pell grant, which is a taxpayer subsidized form of financing a college degree. All of your public universities receive taxpayer dollars as well. So the notion of taxpayers subsidizing education both in elementary and secondary and college is not new.
The issue of subsidizing interest rates is something that the Congress waded into a few years ago when the Democrats controlled Congress. They passed a bill that now the rates are expiring. And Mitt Romney, President Obama, all agree that right now we cannot allow these rates to tick up when these young people are struggling to find work in this economy. Half of the young people that graduated last August are unemployed or underemployed. Half of them still live with parents. That's unacceptable.
ROMANS: It's higher tuition that's rising faster than the cost of anything else. You have borrowing more money because -- you're borrowing more money because you can't get out of the house. You don't have a job on the other end and you have the government involved in subsidizing loans.
CAIN: Let me ask the congressman this. The free market has done an amazing job of lowering the prices of everything from cars to phones but as you point out there are these exceptions. The price of a college education has skyrocketed along with home prices and health care. There is no coincidence there. There's a strong correlation to the government subsidizing those products. And then the products prices rise extraneously. You are here today arguing to us that we should subsidize the price of a college education and lament that the price is going up.
SCHOCK: I agree with you that you can look at any commodity that the federal government subsidized does rise at a faster rate than it would in a free market. That said, now is the not the time to pull the rug out from underneath young people as they're struggle to find work. I think when you have an upswing in the economy and young people are having no trouble finding good paying jobs when they get done with college, that's the time you look to move back to a more free market competition based system.
But right now these young people cannot find work, and to basically allow these rates to expire and go up will only exacerbate the problem of these unemployed young people trying to survive.
ROMANS: Two-thirds of the 2010 class has a student loan debt. The debt average is about $25,000. If you can get a job presumably you can pay for that on the other end. There's rules like don't borrow more than you think you will earn your first year out. A lot of students borrow more money than they can reasonable pay back, and that gets them into some trouble.
There was an Occupy Wall Street movement, Occupy student debt movement. There are those that are calling for forgiving all of this student debt. It would be kind of a stimulus for the economy, to forgive it all. What do you make of that?
SCHOCK: Well, as you rightly point out, there is no free money, and so we don't have -- the federal government does not -- we're going to struggle to find the $6 billion necessary to pay for an extension of these subsidized rates for student loans. We don't have the money in the treasury to completely eliminate the debt that students have taken on to get a better way of life.
Let's keep in mind, young people don't take on this student debt with the notion that they're not going to get employed or they're not going to find a better way of life. We take risks as young people. We go to college. We work hard. We take on debt. Why? Because we want to get a better paying job and a better way of life. Completely eliminating the debt is not the solution. Getting an economic policy in place to give these kids an opportunity and a job is the right solution.
ROMANS: Congressman Aaron Schock, Republican of Illinois good to see you. It's the only kind of debt like that you can mass without anyone scrutinize you for your ability to pay it back. It's not a debt. It's an investment. No one has taught on how to manage that investment. It's tough.
Ahead on STARTING POINT, sexy and you know it. We'll tell you how to get a free ride anywhere -- a website hooking up hot people with rich travelers. And wonder woman brings her body and soul to the stage. Lynda Carter is here to talk about her new gig. You're watching STARTING POINT.
ROMANS: Think you're hot and you love to travel? Have we got a website for you. MissTravel.com connects rich people who have nobody to travel with to hot looking young people or just hot looking people. I don't know how old the people are. The founder insists this is not an escort service.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRANDON WADE, FOUNDER, MISSTRAVEL.COM: I am a huge romantic. And I love to travel. And I figured well, why not take love and travel and put them together? Like any other bars when people meet there, the bar owner is really not responsible. So what we're trying to do is really get people who love to travel, like-minded individuals to meet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: In two weeks 18,000 people have signed up; 70 percent of them in the "attractive" category. So you sign up as either attractive, meaning I'm willing to go for free on a trip with you or "generous" meaning I'm the sugar daddy or sugar mommy but I think it's almost all sugar daddies who need someone hot to travel with.
LIVINGSTON: Well here they say they take all types. They take men, women, gays, straight they're all welcome but you have to be attractive or generous. So what about that big group that is not considered attractive or not wealthy?
(CROSSTALK) ROMANS: Or whether you think you're attractive --
HUNTSMAN: What if you're Will Cain? And you're not invited.
FUGELSANG: I had a very embarrassing experience in the green room here early this morning at 6:00 a.m. I was with this gentleman and one of the assistants of the show came in, one of the AP's and told me about this service. And I said so it's really for hot people who want to trade sex for airport food?
I didn't realize that guy was standing right next to me. So I want to apologize here. You're not a pimp at all, sir. Good luck on your very wholesome venture.
ROMANS: All right.
CAIN: It's not pimping, it's gold digging.
ROMANS: I know an online gold digging there you go.
Ahead on STARTING POINT, who could forget her as Wonder Woman? Lynda Carter has a new gig. She's live with us next to talk about it. You're watching STARTING POINT.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(FROM THE TV SERIES "WONDER WOMAN")
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: That is so awesome. Ok you know her as Wonder Woman. The amazing super hero fighting the forces of evil on the TV series that ran from 1975 to 1979.
But Lynda Carter is now spinning her singing talent at a new -- a new show called "Body and Soul" this weekend in New York City.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: She fights crime. She raises happy, well-adjusted children and then she comes and she -- third album now doing a show. Congratulations and welcome to the program.
LYNDA CARTER, ACTRESS/SINGER: I know, I must add that my first album was vinyl.
ROMANS: Look, you have struck a real chord. When we told people that we were having you on today, I mean, everyone was talking about it. You are the hero for a whole generation of women including me. I mean, this is the kind of thing I would sit with my little sister and watch and all of us have dressed up as you -- as well, Wonder Woman for Halloween.
Jen Tuttle, one of our bookers, gave us this nice little picture of her dressing up as Wonder Woman. There she is. Isn't that sweet?
And then even someone who I dare I'm not even going to say her name but a famous reality show person has dressed up as Wonder Woman. Kim Kardashian, there you go.
I mean, so that's then and now isn't that awesome and I've done it several years in a row.
CARTER: Well, you know, it's the goddess within.
ROMANS: It is. Strong, smart, fighting crime.
FUGELSANG: I dressed up as Wonder Woman to get out of the Navy.
ROMANS: Oh my goodness.
CARTER: And wouldn't the lasso of truth work in Washington, I have to say.
ROMANS: Oh yes I would say. So those five years, I mean those were -- you have been singing since you were 17 years old. You did those five kind of iconic years that have defined -- you know you defined Wonder Woman but Wonder Woman you haven't let define you really here.
CARTER: Well, I don't think I really tried to avoid it. I think that I -- that people have a tendency to box people anyway. So if you are too tall, you're too young, you're too pretty, you're too this, you're too that, whatever it is and -- or you're a female or -- so it's just another thing.
But mostly I find that people enjoy talking about if they have a little history with dressing up as Wonder Woman or whatever. I mean, it was quite a while ago. It's really a long time ago.
CAIN: Do you ever get tired and come on don't ask me about Wonder Woman again?
CARTER: Yes I can't believe you're doing this. No, well, I could. I could do that.
CAIN: Do you? Do you feel that way?
CARTER: No. No. I have tried always to -- because it's usually people that want to talk to me about it. And when people are talking to you about it, then it is -- you know they just want to connect.
FUGELSANG: And also Wonder Woman, your TV program, I think was really very significant in terms of feminism for young males.
ROMANS: Oh yes. Oh yes.
FUGELSANG: For young males of my generation who never had a female superhero before. You also allowed lots of young guys to get their moms into DC comics which counts a lot and I respect she gave up her Lyle Waggoner. So that really went a long way.
But my question is about your touring.
CARTER: Oh I want to do.
FUGELSANG: Well, do you find though, that -- that the greatest thing about that celebrity notoriety of the show got you was that it allowed you to do this kind of art and to sing the way you like to whereas if you didn't have the tights --
CARTER: Without a doubt it -- what fame really does bring you is an ability to get more work.
CARTER: And that is truly the -- one of the saving graces of fame because oddly enough we don't really sign up for it. We -- it's not -- until you've been in it, it's hard to understand how intrusive fame can be at times.
ROMANS: Well you see, you look at the magazines of the famous people dragging you know -- I don't want to use the word dragging, taking their little children in front of the cameras and stuff. You stepped back. You wanted to raise your children in private and you did not want to be on the road.
CARTER: Right. I did, I left music, I kept acting but I left music for -- because it was no place to raise a family. Mainly and -- and also I -- occasionally my kids would be in a picture but I said, ok, you've got a ten-minute window. You better have it and that's it.
And they would come in ok but really it was they never seen a red carpet with me in it. Not until "The Dukes of Hazard" and "Sky High" which I did a few years back and my daughter went, geez, mom.
LIVINGSTON: I know. Well, I know Wonder Woman was just a character that you played but did she inspire you? Did her character inspire you? I know over the years you've -- you've been through a lot in your life and you've been very open and honest about it especially in your songs. Has playing that role given you that courage I guess to -- to speak out more?
CARTER: Well, I've always had sort of -- I've always ridden a lot of high horses. I always have an opinion on everything. But I think that --
ROMANS: Tell us some of the high horses you've ridden.
CARTER: Oh about gay rights and about women's rights and women's health and you know, anti-bullying and -- but I've been doing that for years and years and years. And education, and reading, and trying to, you know, help the soldiers with these decaying places that they have to live. And I just -- you know give me something to argue about.
ROMANS: And you've been -- you are -- and you fought alcohol addiction. You've been sober for 14 years.
CARTER: I did, yes.
ROMANS: 14 years is great; congratulations.
CARTER: Thank you. For me it was this genetic component. I didn't even have -- really start drinking until I was in my 20s. And so -- and it's just -- it was such a powerful genetic component to it that you know it got me flat. And luckily while my kids were still small.
ROMANS: Another genetic component that voice. Your voice is beautiful. Tell us a little bit about coming back. This third album. How it feels to come back to the first love of singing?
CARTER: You know, there's nothing better. I think this time around I have had this band for almost six years and they are all studio musicians out of -- mostly out of Nashville but Lulu Marini who is the sax player -- famous sax player is in the band as well and he's from New York.
They are really jazz players. One from Blood, Sweat and Tears, one from Toto and one from musician hall of fame, this kind of thing, some buddies of mine for many years that I used to work with in L.A. And for me the story telling piece of music gives me an opportunity to be all those things and to relay all the things that I have experienced in my long life and career.
ROMANS: You were born in Arizona, is that right?
CARTER: I was.
ROMANS: You were born in Arizona.
CARTER: An Arizona girl.
ROMANS: All right.
CARTER: Everyone thinks I'm from Texas. I guess because I am tall.
CAIN: We are tall.
ROMANS: Will is from Texas. CARTER: Oh.
ROMANS: Lynda Carter, so nice to meet you.
CARTER: So nice. Thank you for having me on.
ROMANS: Music is beautiful. And thanks for coming on to Lincoln Center tonight.
CARTER: Lincoln Center, no -- tomorrow and Friday and Saturday night.
ROMANS: Friday and Saturday. You got it.
All right. The "End Point" with our panel is next.
ROMANS: Time for "End Point". Ladies first today since we only have 30 seconds.
HUNTSMAN: We didn't get a chance to talk about Navy SEALs. We're talking about the year since Osama bin Laden's death and I just want to give it to the Navy SEALs. They're my heroes and they're incredible.
ROMANS: Oh, totally, totally.
You have a second.
FUGELSANG: Comedians are really sorry that Newt Gingrich is dropping out. I'm going to ask Gene Wilder to call him and the Willie Wonka boys and say "You get nothing. You lose. Good day, sir."
CAIN: I have a friend, Navy SEAL, Brandon Webb has a new book out, "The Red Circle" so as long as we're giving props to Navy SEALs. Let's give one to his (inaudible) also an author.
ROMANS: All right. Let's book him.
All right. Thanks guys. Nice to see you guys.
CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello begins right now. Good morning Carol.