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Health Care Ruling Today; The Future Of Health Care; Lining Up For The Decision; House To Vote On Holder Contempt; Four Dead As Debby Moves Away From Florida; Ann Curry: I'm Leaving "Today Show"; NBA Draft Tonight; Colorado Burning; Health Care Ruling Today; Syrian TV: Explosion in Central Damascus

Aired June 28, 2012 - 06:00   ET


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. Welcome to EARLY START. Thanks for being with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everybody. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It's nice to have you with us. We're bringing you the news from A to Z. It just hit 6 a.m. in the east.

Let's get started with the big story of the day, historic really, a decision that is going to affect every single one of us, every single American and about four hours away in fact.

The Supreme Court is going to decide whether all or even just parts of the Affordable Care Act, which a lot of people have now become familiar with as Obamacare is constitutional or not.

Politically, it is considered the signature legislation of President Obama's time in office. It is likely to be a centerpiece of the presidential election campaign.

It already has been for Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. He says he will take action no matter what the decision is today.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Whatever the Supreme Court does tomorrow, one thing we know, if I am elected president we're going to get rid of Obamacare and replace it with real reform.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The American people understand that we're not going to make progress by going backwards. We need to go forwards. They understand we don't need to refight this battle over health care. It is the right thing to do.


BANFIELD: Well, here is one thing that we know for sure. Today's decision is going to affect how much you get medicine, how much you get health care, how much you may have to pay for those both. Our congressional correspondent Kate Bolduan is live outside the Supreme Court where it's all going to get down just a few hours from now.

So Kate, I know that you have read all 2,700 pages of this actual signature legislation. That's something the justice system had to do. When we get right down to it, they have a lot of options today. What are those options?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They do have a lot of options. I mean, it comes down to do they deem the individual mandate requiring nearly all Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty come 2014, do they deem that constitutional or do they throw that out? Do they deem it unconstitutional?

But from there, Ashleigh, it becomes a bit of a murkier tale because the next question is this domino effect that we have kind of deemed it. If the mandate is thrown out, if it is struck down, can the rest of the law stay in place or do part or all of the law, the rest of the law need to be thrown out as well?

It was unclear coming out of oral arguments back in March what direction a majority was leaning on those issues. The justices definitely seemed uncomfortable with the idea of going through all 450 provisions, all 2,700 pages and picking what should stay and what should go, but again we will have to wait and see on that.

The next question is kind of a separate, but related issue dealing with the Expanded Medicaid program under the new health care, under the health care law. States are challenging that saying they are being -- that this program unfairly steps on state's rights.

Kind of, quote/unquote, "coercing" them to have to take part and take on more of the cost to take part in this Expanded Medicaid program. Many options before the justices, but all eyes really are going to be on the individual mandate because that's really the centerpiece of it all.

Does the individual mandate stay or does it go and what is the reasoning behind the justice decision. That's what we will be reading carefully for come just about 10:00.

BANFIELD: It is very unusual to hear such a din of activity behind a reporter in front of the Supreme Court at 6:00 in the morning on the east coast.

But clearly there are a lot of people there, people who have been waiting in line to get in. It sounds like they are putting crowd control, you know, those big iron bars, right.

BOLDUAN: It's separate and different from the case that we're hearing at the same time the Supreme Court building itself is undergoing some facade working and some fixing. So we're dealing with construction noise as well.

BANFIELD: I was wondering if they were hammering to get in the front doors.

BOLDUAN: That was me, yes.

BANFIELD: Let me throw one other really crazy wild card out there. When we put the graphic up, which we call the wait until 2014, which I think a lot of people would be wondering why 2014. It should be happening today.

It is the whole issue of tax, whether that individual mandate that you were just talking about can be considered a tax and if it is a tax, that's not something the Supreme Court can actually even decide upon until the tax is in place.

BOLDUAN: This was very interesting. This was not actually raised by either side in the case. This was raised by a lower court and has to do with as you said the tax issue.

It is a little known very old federal law known as the anti-injunction act dating back to the 19th Century that says you cannot sue, you cannot challenge a tax until the tax has gone into place, until the tax has been levied.

Well, there has been an argument in the lower court because this penalty, this fee if you do not purchase health insurance is going to be paid through your tax returns, through the IRS, because of that it is considered a tax.

And because individual mandate hasn't gone into effect until 2014, the states can challenge that individual mandate. That quote/unquote "tax" until it goes into effect. It is unlikely the justices will take this quote/unquote "legal time-out."

They seemed during oral arguments, Ashleigh, like they wanted to move far beyond that and that they wanted get to the key question in this case. But again, we'll see. Some are calling it the sleeper issue of this case.

BANFIELD: Right. Lord, help us if they do that. This discussion you and I are having, it is going to last another two years. All right, Kate, so get your speed reading goggles out for when the opinions come down, we're going to follow everything you and Jeff Toobin have to say.

Kate Bolduan live in front of the Supreme Court this morning.

BOLDUAN: Thanks.

SAMBOLIN: It's 5 minutes past the hour, some people already lining up to be there when the decision comes down. We do know construction is happening there.

This was the scene outside the Supreme Court yesterday afternoon. A teacher from California and a nurse from Florida flew to Washington to be there.


LAURA BRENNAMAN, NURSE: I had the opportunity because they announced when they were going to issue the opinion in advance to grab an airplane ticket, and fly up and sit out here all night, and I just thought I was going to grab the opportunity and do it.

DUTCH ANDERSON, TEACHER: I really love the government class because every day there is something in the news that I can bring to my class.


SAMBOLIN: That's really great. So we have special coverage of the health care fight all morning long. Chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, on how the health care decision will affect your medical coverage.

National political correspondent Jim Acosta tells us what this will mean for both the Obama and Romney campaigns and business correspondent, Christine Romans, well, she is going to break down what this means for you and your money.

All of that coming up this hour on CNN and be sure to watch "STARTING POINT" as well with Soledad O'Brien. Less than two hours from now, senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin weighs in.

Soledad will also speak with Republican Senator Mike Lee from Utah and Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer from New York. That is beginning at 7:00 Eastern.

BANFIELD: Also we got some special coverage that starts at 9:00 Eastern, our crack team, CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Candy Crowley and John King are going to lead the network coverage live when the Supreme Court issues this landmark decision on health care reform.

SAMBOLIN: I can't tell time. I said in less than two hours, but Soledad's show an hour from now.

An unprecedented House vote is scheduled for later today on whether to hold the sitting attorney general in contempt of Congress. Eric Holder was mingling with lawmakers last night at the White House as he attended the Annual Congressional Picnic.

Republicans have already gained access to more than 7,000 documents regarding "Fast and Furious." But they have their sights set on something more like internal communications within the Justice Department after the gun walking operation failed. President Obama has asserted executive privilege over some of the subpoenaed documents.

Later on STARTING POINT at 8:15 Eastern, Soledad talks with the Democratic Congressman Emanuel Cleaver from Missouri, he's Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

BANFIELD: That storm called Debby moves away from Florida. Guess what, there is still more rain in the forecast and rough surf and hazardous boating conditions.

Scattered showers and storms expected across Central Florida over the weekend where they are already dealing with massive flooding.

The area hit with at least 26 inches of rain just this week alone, more than 5,000 people in 17 different counties don't even have power this morning. Officials in Florida say four people have died in separate incidents.

SAMBOLIN: It is probably going to be a very difficult day for "The Today Show" co-host Ann Curry. She is expected to officially announce this morning that she is leaving.

Speculation has been rampant about Curry's future at NBC. "The Today Show" ratings have slipped since Curry replaced Meredith Vera last year.

BANFIELD: And moving on up to the NBA. The NBA draft is taking place tonight at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The 19- year-old Anthony Davis from the University of Kentucky is the consensus to be selected first by the New Orleans Hornets.

SAMBOLIN: Is that the uni-brow guy?

BANFIELD: Yes, the one -- trademarked that.

SAMBOLIN: I can't wait to see him play. I haven't seen him play yet. I'm looking forward to that. It's 9 minutes past the hour. Glimmer of hope among the bright, glow of flames.

The weather could help turn the tide today in Colorado. Rob Marciano is going to weigh in on that. He is there live. That's coming up.


SAMBOLIN: Explosive wildfires in Colorado now swelling to epic proportions. Top officials say they have never seen anything like this. Multiple blazes are burning out of control. President Obama is planning to go there tomorrow.

In the meantime, the "Denver Post" showing just a few of the hundreds of homes burned to the ground. Tens of thousands have been forced to leave their homes. Take a look at those pictures. It is just simply amazing.

Rob Marciano is there live. He is in Colorado Springs. You know, this has been nothing, but really devastating news to everybody. Yesterday, there was a mass exodus of cars backed up trying to get out of the area. Is there any good news to report on the fires?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Not a whole lot to be honest. Yesterday, it didn't make that terrifying approach to the subdivisions that it did on Tuesday night. That was the night folks literally looked out their window and saw fire coming down the canyon into their neighborhoods and they just scrambled to get out, over 30,000 people now have been evacuated and most of them staying with friends and family.

But they're still in shock, certainly sad and frustrated not knowing whether or not really their homes have made it. They certainly have been trying to get that information out. There is no official count as to how many of these homes burned.

But you see some of these pictures, I mean, it is obvious and the some of the aerial photography also shows likely over 100, maybe as many as 200 or 300 homes at least burned if not completely destroyed by this.

That's 18,000 acres and only 5 percent contained. Yesterday, we had winds that were erratic and it was frustrating for firefighters and at times, they actually seek safe places and abandoned the firefighting efforts, and that will likely be again the case today.

Lightning with those thunderstorms obviously can spark more fires. Take a look at this time lapse video. This is another fire burning southwest of Boulder, Colorado and it shows a thunderstorm moving over the front range there and then lightning strikes and igniting even more smoke and flames.

So that's what we're dealing with, thunderstorms that don't necessarily bring good news as far as a ton of rain. They more bring lightning and gusty winds, which makes for a frustrating fire fight.

There is good news in this. With this fire, the Waldo Canyon fire here in the northwest suburbs of Colorado Springs, no fatalities and no serious injuries. And that is remarkable considering the speed at which this fire came down the hill and the number of people that had to get out of harm's way.

Obviously, the extreme heat and the lack of snowfall this past winter, that all contributed to a volatile fuels and that heat in many cases record-breaking beginning to surge to the east.

So here is the fire situation. Take a look at the maps as far as the red flag warnings and the critical fire danger today. It is out west, but it's also going to shift to the east in places like the Great Lakes.

Because that is where this searing heat is shifting and with that will come some dangerous winds also. Over 20 states under heat advisories and warnings with this heat dome building off towards the East. You couple in the humidity and it's going to -- we're talking about dangerous heat indices, went over 110, 115 degrees, and we had temperatures at an all time record high in Kansas and Colorado the past few days and that is now moving off to the east.

Residents not allowed to get back to their homes, no word when with that will happen.

So, it's going to be a tough, tough long haul here in Colorado Springs and only 5 percent containment. So, they're going to have their hands full for days and probably weeks to come -- guys.

SAMBOLIN: Rob Marciano -- live for us in Colorado Springs -- thank you very much.

You know, a lot of you want to know how you can help the people displaced. So, to find out how you can help in Colorado and other Western states, you can go to There, you can find all the organizations and all of the ways that you can help those that are in need. That is

BANFIELD: Sixteen minutes now past 6:00. Let's get up to date with top stories.

Christine Romans doing that for us this morning. Hello.


The future of health care in America is in the hands of the Supreme Court today. In less than five hours, we're going to know whether the court will decide to strike down portions of the law, strike down the whole thing, or uphold it. The biggest issue: the individual mandate that requires nearly all Americans by to buy some form of health insurance beginning in the year 2014. If they don't, they face fines and penalties and government taxpayers will give them subsidies, though, to make sure it gets done.

The FDA approving the controversial diet drug Belviq, the first prescription drug for long-term weight loss in more than a decade. It's designed for overweight or obese adults with one or more health issues such as diabetes or high cholesterol. The drug works by fooling the brain so patients eat less and still feel full.

The consumer group Public Citizens are urging people not to take Belviq because of heart risks. The drug could be on the market by early next year.

A Canadian search and rescue teams says there are no survivors inside the rubble of the mall that collapsed in Lake Elliott. Workers removed two bodies yesterday. Twenty-two others were injured when a roof top parking lot collapsed into the two-story mall over the weekend.

Earlier this week, rescuers were hopeful. They heard tapping from a location.

According to local media reports, the mall has had a history of roof problems including leaky ceilings and rusty beams.

Now is the best time to buy a new car. According to the Kelly Blue Book, the average new car costs $500 less than a year ago and the most significant declines are for Japanese vehicles. Honda and Toyota are fully restock and had discounts are back and the automakers ran into trouble last year after a March earthquake and tsunami hit assembly plants hard.

Google making a splash in its annual developer conference in San Francisco. The web search giant unveiled a new 7-inch tablet computer yesterday, the Nexus 7 that will go on sale next month and will compete with Amazon's Kindle Fire. Both are about 200 bucks. The nexus 7 will weigh less and have more features. It will have a front facing camera.

Everyone is talking about the keynote stunt that included sky divers and stunt cyclists Google's computer you can wear. The demo began with a plunge out of a blimp that was live streamed. Project Glass will be available for people to test. Prototypes of the device will be purchased for $1,500 only at the conference this week. The consumer version could come in early 2014.

Google glasses. There you go.

BANFIELD: Trying to figure out if they worked out the glitch about walking on a street while you're reading directions through the Google glasses.

SAMBOLIN: The ultimate of multi-tasking.


BANFIELD: -- where you're going or that there might be traffic coming. That he whole issue of those important things.

ROMANS: Hey, it's no different that opening up a big map. Have you been in midtown Manhattan lately, all of the people with their maps, same thing.

BANFIELD: When was the last time you walked around with a map in front of your face, Romans?

SAMBOLIN: I see a lot of people walking around with maps trying to figure it out.

BANFIELD: I'm going to wait past 2014. I don't want to pay $1,500 for those.

They're funky looking though, you have to admit.

ROMANS: They're going to implant in your brain -- wait until 2015 you and will get a chip right here.

BANFIELD: The eye chip, yes. Great.

All right. Thanks, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BANFIELD: Landmark ruling for the nation and an important ruling for the family finances. Christine is going to come back after the break to talk about what all of this hullaballoo, everything you're seeing on cable news, what it means to you and your family when it comes to money.


SAMBOLIN: Minding your business this morning. Christine Romans is here talking about Obamacare and your money.

BANFIELD: I think a lot of people have been deluged with TV news about politics, the pros and cons, like 3,000 pages. But when it comes down to it, what does it mean when it comes to how much this is going to cost?

ROMANS: There's been so much more politics than substance in the health care debate, and that's one of the things I think you're seeing reflected in the polls. People are confused about what it means for them.

Look, intelligent people today can't figure out their co-pays and co-insurance, and then you talk about a sprawling remake of the American health care system. It's really complicated stuff.

Let me start very simply and say, look, getting all of these uninsured people to have coverage doesn't come for free. The price tag is about a trillion dollars. They have to pay somehow.

So, how do you pay for that? You pay for that with cuts to federal health care spending in some areas and taxes on hospitals, employers, and you.

Who gets taxed? Well, rich people will be taxed if you make $250,000 or more a year. Under health care reform, you're going to be paying more in Medicare taxes and more on your investment income.

If you're uninsured you're going to have to pay for insurance. If you don't pay for insurance, then you're going to get a fine or penalty but you're going to get a subsidy. The government is going to give you money to go buy insurance to get you in the system. That's supposed to help everybody overall.

Flexible spending accounts change, if I misuse them, there is a fine for that. And if you go to the tanning booth, there is a 10 percent tax because the theory is that, you know, you're going to be unhealthier long-term and the tanning industry will be mad I said that, you know, whatever. That's how you will pay for health care reform.

Now, this affects millions of people. It affects every family. If there is a wholesale repeal of this law, who pays immediately? Seniors who will pay more for prescription drugs. Who pays immediately? Well, society because you will have all of these 50 million uninsured people still uninsured and they're going to cost the system every time they go to the emergency room and get costs of care.

Prevention, a lot of prevention and wellness stuff in health care reform and the theory is that's an investment for the long-term. That would change.

Anybody with a preexisting condition, a child with a preexisting condition who is being treated today with insurance immediately, immediately costs for the family would go up.

So, this is something that really affects everyone.

SAMBOLIN: People with chronic illnesses as well. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to come in and talk about that specifically. Those people and how are they affected.

ROMANS: You know, health care is 16 percent of the every dollar of the American economy's health care. It is huge. It is huge.


ROMANS: So, this is not just a little political story. This isn't Democrats and Republicans fighting. This is really important stuff.

BANFIELD: See the clock, it just disappeared. It was on the bottom of the screen, three hours and 45 minutes away from the decision. I don't know if you can do this math this fast or if you know generally speaking if I choose not -- if they uphold the individual mandate and I have to go out and buy myself insurance -- and I choose not to, is it cheaper for me to pay the penalty or cheaper for me to get the insurance with the subsidy.

ROMANS: They're going to make it cheaper for you to get the insurance with the subsidy. That's the whole point. They want you in the system.

Now, small businesses are complaining that they think it's going to cost too much and some small businesses who told me --

SAMBOLIN: They say they're going to go under.

ROMANS: You know, they say, look, I have to stay below I think 50 employees. I'm not going to grow because I want to stay under this certain level.

I have talked to a lot of small business owners and the big complaint now is they're hiring lawyers to tell them how to do it and it is costing them money, because they're too busy running the business to worry about this.

This is just the beginning. No matter what happens if only part is repealed, this is just the beginning.

And the GOP said we will not rest until every part is undone. So, the uncertainty remains.

The one thing you need to know about this and how it means to your money today, health care costs have been going up and your percentage -- if you have a job and you have insurance coverage right now, your health care costs are probably still going to go up.

Have you noticed you're paying more? Have you noticed the co- pays are bigger, that you pay all of this co-insurance? Have you noticed you're not getting the same things?



ROMANS: Those sorts of things are not really handled under health care reform. Health care reform is about access, getting all of those people who are completely out of the system into the system. It's not necessarily about making sure if you have a job, that you have insurance.

BANFIELD: There's no easy answers. I came from a country with universal health care and there is raging debate constantly in that country. So, no easy answer no matter what.

Thank you. Good job.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: If the health care law is struck down today, what happens the next time you walk into the doctor's office? You know, there are many layers to this story. We have answers to those questions and more from CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta. That is coming up.


BANFIELD: In a matter of hours, we're going to know whether President Obama's health care law lives or dies. We're going to take a look at what the Supreme Court's ruling could mean for your coverage.

SAMBOLIN: TSA screeners caught sleeping on the job in a major airport. Now, some of them have paid the price with their jobs.

BANFIELD: No mouse? No problem. The new way to move your cursor with the flick of a finger.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, my goodness. Seriously?

BANFIELD: So cool. Get your geek hat on. Going to get you up to speed on that.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody. Nice to have you with us.

SAMBOLIN: That is going to be really cool.

BANFIELD: I can't wait. Listen, I am somewhat geeky, but I am also really cheapy so I have to wait until everybody else has the stuff before I get it.

SAMBOLIN: I'm with you on that, Ashleigh. I'm with you.

That's Ashleigh Banfield. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Thanks for being with us this morning.

In just a few hours, the Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of the health care law, the signature achievement of President Obama's first term. There is a lot at stake of course. Not just politically.

The high court decision will affect every one of us.

So, let's bring in the CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He's also a practicing neurosurgeon at a public hospital and worked in the White House during the Clinton administration.

We are delighted you are with us this morning.


SAMBOLIN: Let's start with what effect will this have if the coverage -- the entire law is upheld?

GUPTA: If it's upheld?


GUPTA: Well, there's a lot of things that are going to go into effect over the next few years, including in 2014 a lot of the provisions people are talking about in terms of the mandate, in terms of also not discriminating against someone based on preexisting conditions. That's already in effect for children, and also going to affect for adults.

But some 450 provisions in this. You know, we have been focusing on just a couple three here. But there's lots of different things.

We also talk about no lifetime caps. We talk about no annual caps, so you can't all of a sudden run out of money if you have a chronic illness. I mean, those are some of the big ones.

SAMBOLIN: Well, I'm getting a lot of e-mails and I want to talk specifically about that preexisting condition, because a lot of parents are worried. They have some children with chronic illnesses and most preexisting conditions and they are wondering what's going to happen now?

GUPTA: That's a really tough one Zoraida because that is a particular provision that's already gone into effect.

So, the scenario is that you have a sick child. You've been having a really tough time getting them insurance. But now the insurance companies cannot discriminate. They can't charge you any more money for your child's health care insurance than they would charge another child living in the community at the same age. So, that's been a good thing for children with chronic illness.


GUPTA: If it is overturned, if the law goes away, then by law, insurance companies wouldn't have to do that anymore. They could charge whatever they want to charge.

We have talked to a lot of the insurance companies. We have been investigating this for some time and some of the big providers say, look, we're not going to do that. We're certainly not going to suddenly charge prohibitive cost or drop children from the plans. That would be a disaster obviously for those kids and those families.

But by law, again, they could charge pretty high prices.

SAMBOLIN: And what happens if the individual mandate is thrown out? We talk about that a lot. That is really the key and vital issue here.

GUPTA: You know, I have been thinking about this issue for over a decade. I think the best way to explain this is that the mandate is the money arm of this. You are bringing more people into the system. They pay more premiums. So, you have more money to help pay for people who have illness, who have disease.

If you don't have a mandate, that means that, look, a person might say, I'm not going to buy insurance until I get sick. It would be like saying, I'm not going to buy car insurance until I am already in a wreck. It obviously doesn't work for anybody. The insurance companies wouldn't be able to sustain themselves if that thing happened.

And, by the way, that scenario has already been tried at the state level. This was tried in Kentucky where they said we're not going to do a mandate. We're also going to tell insurance companies, you know what, you can't charge more than the same amount of money for every single person living in the community.

Everybody's premiums went up. They went up by 40 percent in the state of Kentucky and ultimately that law was overturned. So, that's a little bit of a forecast of what could happen.

SAMBOLIN: Now, we were talking earlier with Christine Romans and she said that some of the first people affected by this are going to be seniors.

GUPTA: I think the costs could go up. There's two things. One is when you talk about potential cuts to Medicare, which is a federal entitlement for elderly people, that could be affected. People have talked about differing impacts on that.

But I think more immediately it is just drug costs. My parents fall into this category as well. You know, you get a certain amount of money. It is called a donut hole to toss at drug costs.

But then for a while, you know, you are sort of just paying on your own and it could be in the thousands of dollars a year. If that donut hole is not shrunk down, that's going to be a huge liability for seniors.

SAMBOLIN: So, I'm going to put you a little bit on the spot here. What would not best case scenario for the average family then?

GUPTA: I think that, you know, health care costs, I think it is one thing people need to come to terms with, and probably this plan and not having this plan, neither one of them do a great job of controlling costs. But I think you have tens of millions who are uninsured. Whatever the plan is ultimately, those tens of millions of people need to have access to insurance that's not prohibitive.

You have a situation right now, Zoraida, that there are people out there who have illness who cannot buy health insurance at any cost, no cost. They are the people that need it the most and they are the people who have almost the least access to it.

So, whatever the plan ends up being, that has to be addressed.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, we really appreciate your insight this morning. I know you're going to be watching this closely and covering for us all day-long as well.


SAMBOLIN: Thank you very much.

GUPTA: You got it, Zoraida. Thank you.

SAMBOLIN: All right. In just about 10 minutes, national political correspondent Jim Acosta tells us what this will mean for the election and both the Obama and Romney campaigns.

BANFIELD: Also want to make sure you are sure to watch "STARTING POINT" with Soledad at the top of the hour. She's got a great team in place. Senior legal analyst Jeff Toobin is going to weigh in on the Supreme Court's historic decision. She'll also speak with Republican Senator Mike Lee from Utah and Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer from New York. And all gets under way a half hour from now.

Now, take a look at this, 9:00 Eastern, the big team coverage begins. We have the top team, CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Candy Crowley and John King about the lead the coverage live when the Supreme Court decision comes down. It's expected at 10:00. But our coverage gets under way well before hand, 9 a.m. Eastern Time. Make sure you stay tuned for that.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BANFIELD: And we're just getting this into CNN, some brand new pictures coming out of Damascus in Syria. You can see the smoke risings. Apparently the report is that there has been a massive explosion taken place in central Damascus.

Take a look at the video that we're getting in. To say the least, it is harrowing. The explosion apparently happening in a place very familiar to people that have been to the capital of Syria, been to Damascus. It's in the A'mara neighborhood also known as al-Nasser (ph) Square, where you see a lot of the protests.

Here's what we don't know at this point. We don't know who's behind it. We don't know if this is opposition or if this is Syrian government. A lot of the attacks that have been happening in the capital in Damascus have been opposition attacks.

In fact, a Syrian division station was attacked earlier on, several days ago and the government said this was an opposition attack and deaths involved and it was a Syrian controlled TV station.

So, if this is in fact an opposition attack, this is showing just how severe this is in this country because the Syrian government has said that this is war. Outside observers have said this is civil war. If the opposition has been able to make then encroachment and impact this damage in a central square, like al-Nasser Square, it can be very significant indeed in this civil battle.

Also want to let you know at this point we aren't sure about casualties, but the reports are coming in slowly. So, we'll continue to keep you updated as to what's happening in central Damascus in Syria.

BANFIELD: It is 38 minutes past the hour.

Touch screens -- we're going to switch gears here. Touch screens are so yesterday. The next wave for your PC, gesture control technology. Much more on this am coming up.


BANFIELD: Forty-two minutes now past the hour.

Let's get you up-to-speed with the travel forecast. Rob Marciano is live for us this morning in Colorado Springs -- Rob.

MARCIANO: Good morning, Ashleigh.

The heat is going to be the main factor. If you are traveling today, pack lightly, especially the eastern two-thirds of the country. Here's a look at where storms may fire along a front that's going to kind of get bumped up over it maybe into the Great Lakes, but the heat and the humidity will be pumped into the Great Lakes and into the West as well. The Pacific Northwest may be seeing some showers.

Here is the heat advisories for today, over 20 states got them. Some of them, the heat warnings. You couple in the humidity, it's going to be dangerously hot -- 110 to 115 -- is what it will feel like on your body.

So, today's high temperatures forecast -- check out some of these numbers, pretty remarkable stuff -- may approach 100 in Chicago, 105 in St. Louis, 102 in Nashville, and tomorrow, this builds and shifts a little farther to the east and places like Atlanta may breach the 100 degrees mark and D.C., tomorrow, if you're travelling there, it's going to be a hot one as well, near 100 degrees.

Here are some selected cities forecast for the next four days. So, the heat is going to be with us several days. And in D.C., we could be in the dangerously hot zone right on through the weekend.

So we are in summer full bore for sure and certainly into fire season here. We have just to the east of the fire burning here in Colorado Springs over my left shoulder. At times, you can see the glow of the fire which typically this time of night begins to lay down. But erratic winds like yesterday are expected today, only 5 percent containment with the blaze that has taken likely hundreds of homes and over 18,000 acres burned.

Guys, back up to you.

BANFIELD: Thousands of people have having to flee homes just to be safe.

Rob, thanks very much. Keep an eye on that for us if you would, please, sir.

SAMBOLIN: Forty-three minutes past the hour. Let's get you up- to-date.

Here is Christine Romans with this morning's top stories -- Christine.

ROMANS: And that top story is the Supreme Court and health care -- how you get your medicine and health care coverage could all change this morning.

At 10:00 Eastern, the Supreme Court will rule whether President Obama's health care bill is constitutional. The key issue is the individual mandate that requires nearly all Americans to buy some form of health insurance beginning in 2014. If they don't, they face fines or penalties.

Breaking news out of Syria. An explosion in central Damascus, the state run news agency reporting a bomb exploded in a garage near the Palace of Justice. You can see heavy smoke right now rising above the buildings.

No casualties reported yet. We'll continue to get you the latest pictures and news out of Syria.

Eight TSA officers at Newark Liberty Airport have been fired for violating screening procedures. Officials say surveillance cameras caught the six men and two women violating protocols, including sleeping on the job when they were supposed to be checking your bags.

The TSA issued a statement saying, in part, the decision to take disciplinary action reaffirms the strong commitment to ensure the safety of the traveling public.

It's accurate, small, cheap, just impressive. Leap Motion unveiling its new gesture control technology. You install the software on your computer, wave your hand in the space above the sensor, and it starts tracking any finger pointing at the screen. You become the mouse.


ROMANS: It's funny to watch you waving your hands as if you could be doing it right now.


ROMANS (on-camera): There you go.

BANFIELD: It makes me feel like Tom Cruise from "Minority Report." Remember?

ROMANS: I know.

BANFIELD: --everything by -- and that was years ago. So, cool stuff.

ROMANS: Tom Cruise had it all.

SAMBOLIN: Catching up with us.

ROMANS: Can we -- I mean, can you -- that would be so awesome with the economic numbers.

BANFIELD: The things you could do, Ms. Romans, with a magic wall, I am afraid for CNN brass right now. You'll be knocking down the door. Thank you, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome

BANFIELD: It's now 45 minutes past 6:00 on the east coast which means it's almost time for Soledad.

SAMBOLIN: She's here with a look ahead.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This morning on "Starting Point," it is decision day, of course. The justices will announce its verdict on whether or not President Obama's healthcare law is constitutional. The decision will affect every American in this country. We got the historic ruling covered from every angle.

CNNs legal analyst, Jeff Toobin, is outside the courthouse this morning awaiting the decision. Dr. Sanjay Gupta will be back to talk about the medical ramifications, and CNNs Jim Acosta is live to talk about just how the verdict is going to affect the 2012 presidential race.

We also have an all-star lineup on Capitol Hill with Utah senator, Mike Lee, and New York senator, Chuck Schumer, both joining us live this morning. And there's no way out for Attorney General Eric Holder.

Lawmakers are going to hold a contempt of Congress vote against Holder in just a few hours. A group of House Democrats, though, are planning a walkout to boycott that vote. Leading the charge there is Congressman Emanuel Cleaver. He's going to be joining us live.

And then, the life and times of Jimmy "J.J." Walker. We'll tell you the story about how a struggling stand-up comedian from the South Bronx became a television icon. He's going to join us live in our studios.


O'BRIEN: I will not. I will wait for him to say.


O'BRIEN: You say it.


BANFIELD: Dine-o-mite.


O'BRIEN: It was the anthem of our youth. We'll get the back story behind dynamite. It's actually very, very interesting. We want to remind everybody you can watch CNN live on your computer or your mobile phone while you're at work. You can go to We'll see you in just about 13 minutes.

BANFIELD: He doesn't look like he's aged.

O'BRIEN: At all.

BANFIELD: Isn't that amazing?

SAMBOLIN: I used to watch him all the time.

BANFIELD: Oh, sure, yes. Looking forward to meeting him. Thanks a lot.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Forty-seven minutes past the hour. Counting down to today's historic healthcare ruling. What the Supreme Court says today could force strategy shifts in the race for president? We're going to take a look after this quick break.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. Fifty minutes past the hour. One of Mitt Romney's favorite lines on the campaign trail is to tell his audience that "If I'm elected, I will repeal Obamacare." That line really works. Republicans love to hate President Obama's healthcare reform act and this line gets them all fired up.

But, if Romney wins the election, he might not be able to deliver on that campaign promise. Not because he wouldn't follow through, but because the Supreme Court might strike down Obama's healthcare reform today. And that would be a loss for the Romney campaign, yes or no? That mind about repealing Obamacare would be gone. So, joining me now is CNN's Jim Acosta. And Jim, politically speaking, should Mitt Romney and President Obama both be rooting for the court to uphold the law?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The president ought to hope that the Supreme Court upholds this law, and Mitt Romney had a pretty good line about that last night in Virginia at a campaign event. He was saying that the president was probably going to be having a sleepless night last night because of this pending ruling before the Supreme Court.

But what Mitt Romney has been saying lately, and Zoraida, this message works whether or not the Supreme Court strikes down this law is that President Obama is guilty of a moral failure in Mitt Romney's words for not pursuing the economy, by not trying to jump start the economy as soon as he got into the office during the financial crisis as opposed to what the president did do which was really go after healthcare reform.

Those were Mitt Romney's comments. Now, the president will say, hey, we went after the stimulus. We tried to do other things to get the economy moving, but that's what Mitt Romney said last night. And it's interesting, Zoraida, because in recent weeks, Mitt Romney has been saying he thinks that the Supreme Court should strike it down, that the president's healthcare law is unconstitutional.

But in the last several days, he's been making this economic argument that President Obama should have been going after the economy not healthcare reform. Here's what he had to say.


MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If the court upholds it, if they say, look, it passes the constitution, it still is bad policy, and that will mean if I'm elected, we're going to repeal it and replace it.


ROMNEY: And if on the other hand, the court strikes it down, they'll be doing some of my work for me. I won't have to repeal it.


ACOSTA: Now, what is really sort of, you know, unclear about what might happen later today is what happens if the Supreme Court upholds most of the law but strikes down the individual mandate? That is a scenario that I don't think either side has really gained out at this point, Zoraida.

You know, the healthcare industry will tell you that the healthcare law just doesn't work without the individual mandate, that those consumer protections banning discrimination on people with pre- existing conditions, those kinds of protections just aren't affordable anymore in the law without the individual mandate that brings everybody into the system.

And what's interesting about that is that Mitt Romney made that argument when he was governor of Massachusetts, when he passed his own healthcare law. Now, I will tell you, Zoraida, we are expecting Mitt Romney to make some kind of comment on the Supreme Court ruling later this morning.

He spent the night in Washington last night. We're expecting him to come out and make some kind of statement. We just don't know how or when or what he will say. That all depends, of course, on what the Supreme Court does.

SAMBOLIN: Can I just ask you one other thing, because politically speaking again, how is this really going to affect the outcome of the election, because Americans really are more concerned about the economy as you just pointed out. So, is this really going to weigh in that heavily?

ACOSTA: You know, what the Obama campaign has been saying, Zoraida, and I'm not sure a lot of people have focused in on this and it sort of depends on what the Supreme Court does, the Obama campaign is saying, look, if the Supreme Court strikes down this law, some of this consumer protections may go away for some people.

And they're saying Mitt Romney, if the Supreme Court doesn't strike it down, will do that as president. So, that's what they have been saying, so far. You know, they've been pointing out and even Republicans will note, there are some popular measures in that healthcare law like banning discrimination on people with pre-existing conditions, letting people stay, young people stay on their parent's insurance until they're age 26.

Many of these things may go away or become unaffordable in a post Obamacare world if this law is struck down, and that's what the White House has been warning. That's what the Obama campaign has been warning voters in the last several days.

SAMBOLIN: There's certainly a combination there, right? They kind of affect each other. Healthcare and the economy are tied together. Anyway, Jim Acosta, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

ACOSTA: You bet.

SAMBOLIN: We really appreciate your insight.

BANFIELD: Fifty-four minutes now past 6:00 a.m. on the east coast. We look to a guy named David Frum for clarity and analysis of the complex issues, but who do you think he looks to for advice? Coming up, you're going to hear what the best advice he ever got one.


SAMBOLIN: "Starting Point" less than a minute away.

BANFIELD: We're going to wrap it up as always with "Best Advice" from Christine Romans.

ROMANS: And today is from someone who makes a living with the turn of a phrase. This comes from CNN contributor, David Frum. Listen.


DAVID FRUM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: The best piece of advice that anyone ever gave me, so many, so many unfortunately that I didn't take when I should have. But, I think maybe the best piece of advice is to say yes to things, not to be pessimistic and not always to look for every crack in the sidewalk ahead of you.


ROMANS: Yes. I look for a lot of cracks in the sidewalk.


ROMANS: So, I like this advice. I like this advice.

BANFIELD: Let me tell you something about David Frum. His mother, Barbara Frum, iconic in Canada. She's like the Ted Cole (ph) of Canada. She died a number of years ago. They cancelled the show instead of refilling her shoes because her shoes were so big to fill.

So, I figure that David Frum has probably had some of the best advice over and over at his dinner table as a kid, and I have always envied him for having that person in his house.

ROMANS: He said say yes.


ROMANS: Say yes to things.

SAMBOLIN: I like his advice. Yes.

ROMANS: Say yes to things.

SAMBOLIN: All right.

BANFIELD: That's it for us. We are done officially. That's the news from "A" to "Z." I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. "Starting Point" with Soledad O'Brien starts right now.