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Pundits Debate U.S. Economic Performance; Players Sue NFL Over Punishment for Bounty Program; Severe Weather Affects Part of U.S.; Catholic Controversy; Extreme Heat And Hunger; Deadly Storms On The Move; Source Of Deadly Wildfire Located; Mexico's Presidential Election Official; Satellite Communications Upgrade At Gitmo; A Look At The Recovery; Essence Music Fest; Little Known Illness Creeps North

Aired July 6, 2012 - 06:59   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN HOST: And welcome, everybody. We're coming to you live this morning from the Ruby Slipper Cafe in downtown New Orleans. Nice to have you. If you haven't gone to bed yet, you're welcome to stall on (ph) by and come hang out with us. We're here for the Essence Music Festival, of course, with spotlight the RnB music and empowerment sessions (ph).

And in just a few moments, we're going to be having an opportunity to play for you Khari Lee Allen and the New Creative Collective. They are band today providing the "Starting Point" playlist for the entire morning. Lots to talk about this morning.

We're going to start with the deadly storms that are moving through the national park in Tennessee. Lots to tell you about there.

Also, the critical jobs numbers to get to, just 90 minutes away.

Talking about the Saints bounty battle now heads to court with the NFL players filing new lawsuit.

All-star lineup, Jay Thomas, Vanessa Williams and Mitch Landrieu joins us. STARTING POINT begins right now.


There they are, that's Carey Allen Lee and the New Creative Collective is the new band playing this morning. They'll provide the playlist coming to you live from the ruby slipper cafe in the heart of downtown New Orleans.

Lots to get to, but I guess I should mention first the food it's in front of us. Lots on the menu, some of the specialties though, you can take a look include this -- this is the main thing, a barbecued shrimp.


O'BRIEN: He says this is the dish that's their specialty, I'm told. And this is bananas foster French toast and over there is eggs benedict with crab in it, all very caloric. THOMAS: New Orleans health food.

O'BRIEN: That's right.


O'BRIEN: Joining us this morning is Representative Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana and also the only practicing physician in congress, not going to ask him to weigh in on the caloric content in the food, serious radio talk show host and New Prleans native, and Michelle Eubanks is with us this morning. Nice to have all of you with us this morning. We appreciate it.

Lots to get to. But first we'll start with the breaking news on deadly storms on the move right now. Violent thunderstorms have slammed into eastern Tennessee, happened overnight. Reportedly so far, two people have been killed, dozens others injured. We want to get you right to Rob Marciano live in the Extreme Weather Center for us. What's going on?

ROB MARCIANO, METEOROLOGIST: Hey, Soledad, this cluster of thunderstorms popped up late yesterday and bumped into heat and humidity. I don't have to tell you that if you live east of the Mississippi you're in the heat. There's with the biggest storms hit as far as the most intense winds, Smokey Mountain National Park, a lot of people camping here. This is prime time for camping season. Tents and RVs, not a lot of places to hide. The trees coming down injuring dozens of people and two fatalities, rescue workers are still in there trying to get folks considered to be trapped.

These storms weakened overnight but they'll be back along the front which will eventually cool down the eastern third of the country but not until later on this weekend. So until then, heat and humidity will be the call. Record breaking stuff expected again today with a couple of dozen states under heat advisories or warnings. Dangerous stuff with heat indexes over 100 degrees and when those storms do develop, they will have an intensity to explode, 83 in Chicago, 84 degrees in St. Louis, we're off to a running start. It's probably close to that in New Orleans, but maybe not quite that warm. We don't expect severe weather across the big easy, try to stay cool.

O'BRIEN: We appreciate that. We're grateful for that today, thanks, Rob. Let's get right to Brooke Baldwin on our top stories this morning. Hey, Brooke.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Soledad, good morning to you. I got some breaking news out of Syria, a high ranking commander and close confidant of President Bashar al Assad has defected to Syria, this is according to a Syrian official. He is a member of the elite guards and son of defense minister. His defection would be the first from the inner circle since the uprising began and could mean Assad's hold on power is beginning to crack.

George Zimmerman's bond set at $1 million by a judge who fears he may be plotting to leave the country. It means Zimmerman has o to come up with $100,000 cash plus $1 million in collateral to get out of jail. Zimmerman is accused of killing Trayvon Martin. Martin's family attorney spoke to CNN's Erin Burnett last night.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trayvon's parents would rather that the killer of their unarmed son remained in jail until the trial. However, they respect the court's order and the fact that the judge sent a very strong message in his order.


BALDWIN: Zimmerman's original bail of $150,000 was revoked after the judge learned Zimmerman and his wife failed to disclose more than $150,000 donations they had gotten from the public.

Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.'s condition is worse than at first believed. He has been on a leave of Congress since last month. His office has released a statement saying Jackson is being treated for, quote, "physical and emotional ailments" that he has been battling for a long time and will need extended inpatient treatment.

Another day of burgers, beer, and bus rides on tap for the president. He is waking up in Akron, Ohio, will wind up in Pittsburgh wrapping up the two-day campaign tour of the rust belt. He is expected to push his accomplishments ahead of the June jobs report.

And a June boon for the Romney campaign. They raked more in $100 million in contributions, a huge increase from the total in May of $77 million. That's a look at the stories we're watching out for here. Soledad, back to you.

O'BRIEN: All right, Brooke, thank you very much. This morning we're waiting for the crucial June jobs numbers, going to be released we're expecting in 90 minutes. The outcome could be an indicator about the state of our economic recovery. It will have a great significance for those both President Obama and mitt Romney's presidential campaigns.

The report is expected to show it has added 95,000, that would be an improvement of 69,000 in May, but if the jobless numbers are stagnant or if the unemployment rate goes up from its current 8.2 percent, we're expecting Mitt Romney will say it is evidence that the president isn't getting the job done.

We'll go to Ken Rogoff a professor of economics and public policy at Harvard. First though we're going to introduce another member of our panel. Roland Martin is with us. Nice to have you with us. In terms of politics, every month we do the same game in a way. The jobs numbers come out and we see both campaigns, here's why my guy should be president of the United States and not the other guy. We expect the same thing this time.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Here's what you have, Obama folks would say private sector job growth has increased. They will tout that as being an actual recovery, although it is very slow. For Mitt Romney, very interesting for Republicans, you see job losses largely in the government sector, it's interesting, they'll criticize the jobs but, wait a minute, I thought you liked smaller government so you want to see the jobs go away. These are going to be the most crucial four months. What happens over the next four months will be the narrative what takes place in November.

O'BRIEN: Would you agree with that the next for four months will be a litmus test of how the election is going to go? Or do you think, the district you represent here in Louisiana is localized, do you really look at the national job numbers? You want to know how your people are faring.

REP. BILL CASSIDY, (R) LOUISIANA: It is not statistics, it's families, right? And families stressed that the husband or wife is out of work and the finances are stretched. If you do that, clearly over the next three or four months, if families don't feel better about themselves wherever they are, they are going to tend to vote against the status quo and if it is 96,000 is still under performing. They want to see something where they have the chance not only to earn more money with better benefits but to move to a better job if they so choose. Right now people are hanging on because of an insecurity. I think it will be critical over the next four months, 96,000 jobs, is obviously inadequate.

O'BRIEN: That's been an estimate.

CASSIDY: That will be inadequate to grow the economy.

MARTIN: You talk about it's underperforming, we're operating what I call the new normal. Our economy right now, we're no longer driven by credit when 77 percent is based on consumer spending and people don't have the level of credit beforehand, you won't see the level of spending. So it's amazing how we want what used to be the case but that no longer exists.

CASSIDY: There are things coming on now that are better. When I first ran four years ago, 66 percent of the imported oil came from OPEC, which meant we sent that much to OPEC nations. Now we buy it from North America, those dollars are kept in north America. That's a good thing.

O'BRIEN: Is the question about blame, they say who is the person to blame, you say it will be whoever is in the status quo. Some people say the Congress is in the status quo, all of your colleagues in Congress have not moved on a jobs Bill fully, which they could and that would make a change. Do you worry about that criticism, and as you know those congressional approval numbers are not as terrible as they had been in the past but not great.

CASSIDY: The House of Representatives passed 30 different jobs bills, one of the reasons we push the Keystone XL is there are 100,000 jobs created indirectly.

O'BRIEN: You know some people dispute those numbers and say it's 6,000, not 20,000. I'll concede 20,000 for the moment.

CASSIDY: It will be a huge private sector job creation for people who are currently underemployed. MARTIN: Also about the president's construction bill, we talked about rebuilding roads and bridges. You support and all of a sudden say not really. You talk about Keystone, those are short term jobs. If you're talking about rebuilding the country, have to rebuild bridges and schools, why won't that bill also get passed?

CASSIDY: Any construction job is only for the construction project, so rebuilding a school or road similarly, if you do the keystone excel, not only are you building a pipeline but expending the petrol chemical plans with permanent manufacturing jobs.

MARTIN: Why don't we do both.

CASSIDY: We absolutely should. We passed a transportation Bill that puts the money in infrastructure that releases the money to states. We're hitting that. Now let's hit the other. We should do both.

O'BRIEN: You talk about the fiscal cliff coming in January, literally January, things will fall of this cliff. Again, I think it goes back to who's to blame for the lack of movement that's bringing us to a cliff.

CASSIDY: There's some philosophical differences. Republicans think we should be a low tax state and relatively -- and allow the private sector to generate economic opportunity. The president thinks, no, the reason we're in trouble is we cut a lot of government jobs. And Republicans will respond, you can't lift yourselves up from the bootstrap, eventually that can only go as far as Greece has gone so far. So there's to philosophical differences and there's going to be some battles.

THOMAS: You know, it's funny, I don't look at these every day. I looked up this morning, the bureau of labor and statistics reported in June, 422,000 more people working in May and they created 100,000 jobs in June, better than the prior month. Why don't we consider the economy recovery -- I know it's slow and you may want 500,000. I go, gee, these are stats I found myself this morning. Is it because you have to win in November you can't ever give Obama a little pat on the back or economy? It's $1 trillion economy. It's going to take a long time to turn the boat around.

CASSIDY: Economists say we need to create 226,000 jobs roughly, speaking off the top of my head, a month, to not only take care of the 125,000 entering the job market monthly but those unemployed or underemployed. I don't think we as Americans should live with diminished expectations. We should say, wow, if we can create our own domestic energy and lower the cost of energy for energy intensive manufacturing sector on and on. We should not settle for less.

MARTIN: Michele can speak to it, look at the housing prices and lack of access to credit, it goes beyond energy. It goes to other areas as well.

O'BRIEN: We'll have two hours to talk about all of this. We've got to take a commercial break -- THOMAS: Don't tell me until 9:00, would you? If my name comes up on the list --


O'BRIEN: I'd be happy to, not after the show ends.


O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning, we're going to be talking about challenging the power of the commissioner, NFL players suing over punishment. The players association will be our guest coming up. And Melinda Gates talks about her mission to provide birth control to women around the world. She's a practicing Catholic and tells Dr. Sanjay Gupta what she would say to the Pope if given the chance.

You're listening to the New Creative Collective, they'll provide the playlist all morning long. We're back in just a moment.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Happy Friday, I'm Poppy Harlow with quick business headlines. U.S. stock futures slightly lower ahead of the big June jobs report set to be released at 8:30 a.m. eastern. A lot of weight on this report, especially since there are four more jobs reports coming out before Election Day.

Apple has been slapped with a lawsuit over the voice assistance service. The la times says a Chinese company says Siri violated their patent on voice assistance.

And the new record low for a 30-year fixed rate, 3.62 percent. This number has been dropping for ten of the past eleven weeks and 15- year rate is 2.89 percent. If you're been thinking about buying a home, this might be the time to do it.

Spidey back in a big way, "The Amazing Spiderman" made more than $58 million in its first three days, including a $36 million opening night. That is a record for a Tuesday. Soledad, looks like you're having fun down there at essence fest. Enjoy.

O'BRIEN: Yes. Yes, we are Poppy, appreciate it.

The NFL players association is suing the NFL on behalf of three players suspended in connection with the pay for play bounty scandal under the bounty program. Certain players were allegedly paid money to hurt their opponents on the field. The lawsuit is the latest development in a fight that original natured with the New Orleans saints claiming that the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was biased in making decisions about the suspensions of the accused players that would be will smith, and Anthony Hargrove and say that he didn't give them a proper chance to defend themselves. That brings us to Domonique Foxworth, president of the NFL players association. He's also a free agent NFL quarterback. It's nice to have you with us. What exactly are you looking for from this lawsuit? I assume lifting the suspension, certainly? DOMONIQUE FOXWORTH, PRESIDENT NFL PLAYERS ASSOCIATION: Absolutely. We want the suspensions vacated and negotiated a deal that would require Roger Goodell to be an impartial arbiter. And based on the campaign, he was not doing so, so we find that the penalty should be vacated and other players should be allowed to play.

O'BRIEN: You're saying it violates the league's collective bargaining agreement. What do you mean by that specifically?

FOXWORTH: As I said, we agreed to have Roger Goodell as an impartial arbiter, to convict our players of penalties or committing pay to injure program without allowing our players to properly defend themselves and face down evidence they found against him, by him doing so it's made him impartial, so our players not -- are kind of facing a penalty with the decks stacked against them. We've asked that this penalty be vacated and players be given a fair and due process.

O'BRIEN: So you think it was sort of being tried in the press essentially was part of the reason behind your lawsuit?

FOXWORTH: Absolutely. I think that's the wrong way to go about it. Our guys are pillars in their community for most part, and these guys have worked hard to build up strong reputations, and in this case they had their reputations tarnished by actions of the league and then forced to go in front of arbiter who is not fair and unbiased in this situation.

O'BRIEN: so I know you're aware what the league says said. Back to your lawsuit, there's no basis for asking a federal court to put its judgment in place of the procedure agreed upon in the collective bargaining, basically saying, you do not have a legal leg to stand on here. What's your strategy?

FOXWORTH: I don't suspect they would agree with us. If this did, we wouldn't have to go to court. In these cases our players have had a season taken away and year of earnings taken away. If they are lucky enough to play 10 years compared to a normal working person who would work maybe 40 years or so, you're taking the equivalent of four years of working life away from those players. So it's our obligation to defend our players, and I'm going to stand by the players who told me this didn't happen.

And we've had a conversation with our players, and it's unthinkable if a pay for injure kind of program was taking place but our players have said there hasn't. The league has refused to show evidence it has. Until then, we're going to fight and defend our players in any way they can, and that includes the federal court system.

O'BRIEN: Dominique Foxworth is the president of the NFL Players Association.

Interesting position, at the same time there's the 2,000 players who have -- and family members suing say, that not enough was done to protect against injury, specifically the brain injuries. One would imagine that puts Goodell in an interesting position. THOMAS: Goodell had reams of evidence. I love the NFL, but they had reams of evidence, and the players did not bring one -- did not bring one person forward who disputed any of his evidence. I found -- I can't believe they are doing this lawsuit. It's silly. They ought to just pay the fine, not play for a year and never do it again. But I think he had a ton of evidence.

CASSIDY: Jay, don't you -- put it this way. Is it only the saints or other teams?

THOMAS: Of course there's other teams.

CASSIDY: In which case do you say we'll penalize a guy for his whole year of earning potential but we'll make him an example --

THOMAS: These guys got caught.

CASSIDY: These guys got caught.

THOMAS: And there were confessions by the way. You're making $10 million a year for $1,500, I'm going to hit you harder, to make ends meet? That seems silly that you would need another $1,000 if you're a multimillionaire to hit Brett Favre a little harder.

O'BRIEN: We've got to take a break. Ahead this morning, we're going to talk about a contraception controversy, Melinda Gates taking heat from bringing birth control to developing countries. The Catholic Church is not for it. Carey Allen Lee and the New Creative Collective coming to you live. We're right back.


O'BRIEN: And welcome back to STARTING POINT. We're coming to you live from the Ruby Slipper Cafe in New Orleans. We're talking about Melinda Gates getting major criticism by Catholic bloggers about the new birth control program she's been promoting. The gates foundation provides contraception to 120 million women in developing countries, bloggers claim that that not only violates the sanctity of sex but could also result in population control, which I think was part of the idea behind it. Dr. Sanjay Gupta spoke with Gates in an interview. Here's where he asked her and what she said.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You're completely comfortable being a practicing Catholic and advocating for this and encouraging funding it?

MELINDA GATES: To hear a poor woman say to me, I can't find the means to feed this child and if I have seven children, there's no way I can feed and keep alive seven children. I think somebody needs to give voice to that and I think it's important I do that.


O'BRIEN: It's an interesting dilemma, she's in, I think, as a practicing Catholic, very strict on birth control issue. As a woman who's saying, my mission is to make practical actual change for women who need it in countries that have such major poverty issues they cannot have more children, you know.

THOMAS: It seems so logical that you should -- we're not talking abortion, it seems so logical that you should be able to use contraception. But I know you as a Republican can't just -- can't just say it. And I don't how you really feel but you -- it seems logical, you're a doctor, there's a problem. There are too many people. There's cultural problems. There's women being forced into all sorts of sexual situations, there's AIDS. And the Catholic, some group of Catholics, which I was raised Catholic says it, it defies logic.

CASSIDY: Republicans can address this. If you're speaking about HIV and have a couple that's married, you obviously want the man to use a condom to protect himself or his partner.

Believe me that's a thing. I think what is kind of the false thought is that the birth control pill will be a cure for poverty. I say that because Japan and China have a demographic time bomb.

Where they've been so strict on their population control, that the average age of their population is no -- is increasing rapidly and they are not reproducing or replacing their people.

O'BRIEN: Is it a false analogy to compare an economy like Japan, an economy like China and compare that to developing nations that really have a massive gap in that issue. But their issue is not that the population is getting old, they are dying from lack of food.

CASSIDY: A developing economy or a developed economy?

O'BRIEN: I put it more in the developed economy.

CASSIDY: People are saying by 2050, China will no longer be able to support itself because their population will look like that with many old and few young.

By the way, I'm not arguing against what she is doing, we have to point out that in 20 years Vietnam will have more people that Russia. Russia's future is limited by their inability to replace the population.

If I was in Russia, you should have pro-natalists policies. Vietnam's strength will be their labor market.

MARTIN: You have folks who are born into poverty and then you have children then you have a much more difficult time to get out of poverty.

In this country right now, the exact same thing. If a woman is having the opportunity to choose birth control and she says, look, I may not want to get pregnant at an earlier age, later age, that's fine. I have no issue with that.

People complain -- I get the Catholic deal, let's be honest, it's a whole lot of Catholics doing stuff outside the pews different than what they are sitting in the pews in church.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Catholic women use birth control, 98 percent, that's a stat. So are they going to be excommunicated is the question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is about choice, right, for women. Women should have choice. Not to have seven children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Women to have the choice we have in United States and developing countries.

O'BRIEN: I think what she's doing is an amazing thing. Maybe help those countries that I mired in terrible poverty.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, critical jobs numbers coming out for June. We're expecting that in less than an hour. We're four months from Election Day.

Campaigns, of course, in full swing, which means that each side will leverage those numbers to death.

Plus, ready to rock, we're live at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans. But his festival isn't all about music. We're going to show you what's at the heart of the festival as well. STARTING POINT coming to you live from the big easy. Stay with us.


O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody. You're looking at the inside of the Ruby Slipper Cafe here on Magazine Street in New Orleans in central business district, which means we're a stone's throw from the French Quarter where they tell me that one of their best selling dishes is what we have here, the shrimp and grits.

MARTIN: We'll be getting that. I'm telling you with the coffee right here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The French toast is too far away. I'm happy to share. I'm happy to share.

MARTIN: They hog it on that end.

O'BRIEN: Yes, we are, we have a lot to get to this morning. We're going to get right to Brooke Baldwin who has an update from New York on the top stories making new. Hi, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Hi, Soledad. I'm from Georgia and love shrimp and grits. You're all having a wonderful morning there in New Orleans. Good morning to all of you.

There will be no relief from the stifling heat today. It's been now a full week since a freak storm knocked out power to millions of people.

Seven days later, you still have half a million people in 11 states, no AC, refrigerators aren't working. You have now these feeding centers open across West Virginia providing 25,000 meals to some folks who haven't eaten in days.

Look at this map. Scorching heat will wave on through, continuing today. Thousands without power, extreme heat warnings and heat advisories in 25 different states today.

Highs in the triple digits, even hotter they say today in Chicago, Indianapolis and Baltimore. And even more extreme weather is on the move right now. You have these violent thunderstorms just slamming Eastern Tennessee overnight reportedly killing two people injuring dozens of others.

The storm is tearing through parts of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park that's near the North Carolina border. A park spokesperson tells affiliate WATE that a falling tree killed a woman and another man died when he wrecked his motorcycle during that overnight storm.

Investigators, they are finding spot where the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history began. Still though, they don't know what caused it. They just know where it started.

The Waldo Canyon fire forced evacuation of 35,000 people, killed two people, destroyed close to 400 homes. The wildfire in Colorado Springs now 90 percent contained.

Enrique Pena Nieto is officially the new president of Mexico. The country's Federal Electoral Institute confirming that with nearly 100 percent of those ballot boxes counted, Pena is ahead of his closest challenger by more than 3 million votes.

The runner up, the leftist party candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador claims Pena Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party engaged in vote buying and he is expected to take legal action there.

It doesn't look like the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo Bay will be closing any time soon. The Pentagon confirming $40 million will be spent to upgrade the satellite communications. Systems at Gitmo plans call for an underwater fiber optic line that will stretch from the base to the coast of Florida. Soledad, back to you.

O'BRIEN: All right, Brooke, thank you very much. As we've been talking about all morning the crucial June jobs report will be released. We're expecting it less than an hour from now.

The outcome will be a reflection of the health of the U.S. economy and state of our nation's recovery. We'll have an impact, of course, on both President Obama and Mitt Romney's presidential campaigns.

The report is expected to show that the economy added 95,000 jobs and that would be certainly an improvement from the 69,000 jobs that were added back in May.

It would give the president evidence that his policies are helping grow the economy. But if the jobless numbers increase or if the unemployment rate goes up from its current 8.2 percent, we're expecting Mitt Romney to say it shows the president isn't getting the job done.

It brings us to Ken Rogoff. He's a professor of Economics and Public Policy at Harvard University and also former IMF chief economist, one of the world's leading authorities on the financial crisis.

It's nice to see you, sir. I know we had some technical difficulties earlier this morning. I'm glad we were able to sort them out. And 95,000 is what the number that the experts are quoting. How do you feel about that number? What are your predictions for this report?

KEN ROGOFF, PROFESSOR, ECONOMICS AND PUBLIC POLICY, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Well, I think in the best of scenarios it's going to be a pretty lame job number. We're not having strong growth.

There's no doubt about it. We need 125,000 to 150,000 just to employ new entrants into the labor force, much less to get some of the ones who are unemployed working again.

O'BRIEN: OK, so then let's look at that point in sort of two fronts, one of course, is the economist front for potential growth and turning around or continuing the recovery if you will.

Then politically as well, there's a huge implication. So when you look at that chart, we can pop that up, it shows the step tool downward at job growth, which is a jobs added kind of a sickly number as you head down the step stool, which politically is problematic for President Obama certainly.

ROGOFF: No, it surely is. I think the president needs to keep making the case that when you have an epic financial crisis like we did, it can take many, many years, even a decade to get back to where you started to recover.

And of course, candidate Romney wants to say, well, fine, but I think I can do better. This isn't an unusual trajectory unfortunately, this halting recovery.

This jobs number Soledad, is one of the best numbers we have on the pulse of the economy, what are ordinary people feeling? What's their family feeling, their wages, their neighbors?

So it is a big piece of information and we don't quite know. It could be the 95,000, could be much better or worse. There's a lot of uncertainty.

O'BRIEN: How much of it is in the president's control? I mean, there's a sickly jobs number, who's to blame?

ROGOFF: Frankly, I think no matter who had been president, the last four years we would have seen very sluggish recovery. It's normal after a financial crisis, but there is a question of where things are going from here.

What are the job numbers going to look like the next four years? And I think that's what the debate has to be around. There are, of course, two very different visions for the economy between candidate Romney and President Obama between growth and perhaps more fairness.

O'BRIEN: So as an economist then where would you say the change should be made to grow the economy? If you were in charge of it, what would you do?

ROGOFF: Well, I think we can improve the tax system a lot by taking away a lot of exemptions. There's a need to rebuild the infrastructure in the United States. We need to improve the education system in the United States.

There are a lot of things we can do. The U.S. is a fantastic franchise, but this political paralysis that we've had between the Congress and president that's been going on for a long time has been leaving the economy drifting in the wind.

Frankly, Soledad, if you look at what's going on in Europe, which is scary. China is slowing down. We need to try to strengthen our economy now in order to make us more resilient because the weather could get worse.

And I would like to see a break of this gridlock, but of course all Americans are hoping for that.

O'BRIEN: Yes, we certainly are. Ken Rogoff, nice to have you with us. Of course, we appreciate it. We're expecting those job numbers, the actual numbers in about 45 minutes or so. Thank you for being with us.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, it's a disease that's now starting to pop up in the southern part of the United States and left untreated it could be fatal. We'll tell you about Chagas disease.

We got a tropical disease expert joining us on STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.