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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Battle over Bush Tax Cuts; Interview with Congressman Kevin Brady of Texas; Fisherman Attacked by Shark; Tough Call; Virus Discovered in Cambodia; Documentary Follows Long-Time Unemployed; Casey Anthony's Guilt; Separating the Sexes

Aired July 9, 2012 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. Good morning. I'm Christine Romans, in for Soledad.

Our STARTING POINT: President Obama drawing battle lines over the Bush tax cuts. He'll be holding a news conference in the Rose Garden in a few hours as Republicans point fingers at the White House for the poor jobs numbers.

We're going to talk to key players on both sides of this fight.

Plus, racist or fair to all? The Texas voter ID law tested in court today.

And it was the place where American dreams were launched, Long Island, the original burb. Now a new HBO documentary looks at how the dream is on life support. The director of "Hard Times: Lost on Long Island" joins us.

It's Monday, July 9th -- STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

ROMANS: Good morning, everybody. That's my playlist, The Black Keys, "Gold on the Ceiling."

Today, our team of STARTING POINT team: Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, Republican from Tennessee, Jose Baez, criminal defense attorney who represented Casey Anthony, the author of a new book about it called "Presumed Guilty", and Richard Socarides is former senior adviser to President Clinton and a writer for NewYorker.com.

Welcome all. Happy Monday.

Our STARTING POINT this morning: President Obama just a few hours away from making a major announcement about extending some of the Bush-era tax cuts and Republicans are accusing him of waging -- here it is -- class warfare before Election Day. The president will surround himself with working class Americans when he holds an event in the White House Rose Garden today.

He'll be calling for an extension of the Bush tax cuts only for families earning $250,000 a year or less.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CANDY CROWLEY, HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": So the president's totally committed to getting rid of the tax cut for those making $250,000 and above?

ROBERT GIBBS, OBAMA CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: Let's make some progress on our spending by doing away with tax cuts for people that, quite frankly, don't need them, tax cuts that haven't worked, and have them pay their fair share.

CROWLEY: So is that a yes or a no? That the president is completely committed to this, he won't allow it to happen?

GIBBS: He is 100 percent committed to it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: A hundred percent committed.

Dan Lothian, live at the White House.

Dan, sounds like the Bush tax cuts and who gets them is going to be a priority issue for this campaign.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It really is going to be a priority issue. And, you know, the president has been talking now for quite some time about the wealthy paying more. He sees this as a way to cut into the federal deficit. But there's more here than just sort of the official reason that the White House puts out for this. There's a politics behind this.

On the campaign trail, the president has been pushing for assistance for the middle class and those trying to get into the middle class. But in addition, the president can draw a contrast between what he believes, which is, he says, pushing for those who need help the most, which are those in the middle class and those that he says Mitt Romney is supporting and those are the wealthy.

And so, you see the president and other surrogates will be out there trying to amplify this message, at least according to the campaign this week, in key battleground states like New Hampshire, Florida, Colorado and Nevada. You will hear from middle class families, press conferences, also from local and state officials as well. But, you know, there will be push back from Republicans here who continue to insist that this is not the economic environment to be raising taxes on any Americans but also there's disagreement from some Democrats who believe that it should be those -- the threshold should be at a million dollars not $250,000.

So this is not a clean message here from the Democrats, from the president, but the president very much believing that this is a strong campaign message, especially coming on the heels of those disappointing jobs numbers last week, Christine.

ROMANS: You know, a couple of years ago, Dan, I mean, the president came out and said he wanted to extend Bush tax cuts for people making $250,000 or less. But in the end, he had to extend for everybody, right, to get it done.

LOTHIAN: That's right. And it was to get the deal done at the time. And so, you know, now the president is trying to sort of go back at this again, saying that the middle class families are the ones who need help not the wealthy Americans, and that's why we expect them to hold to this line.

You never know what happens when it comes time to negotiate a deal like this. But that's what the president is pushing for.

ROMANS: I know you say it with a smile on your face. You never know what's happening when it really comes do the deals.

LOTHIAN: Thanks right.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks, Dan.

Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn is the Republican deputy whip. I want to talk more, a little bit about the plan as well with the Republican Congressman Kevin Brady of Texas. He's the vice chair of the joint economic committee. So, we've got a couple of players here to talk about.

Let me start with you first, Congressman Brady. Your reaction to this decision to extend the Bush tax cuts just for people making $250,000 or less. Will that fly with you guys?

REP. KEVIN BRADY (R), TEXAS: No. It's more bad politics and more bad news for the economy. I think we've had 300 economists, independent economists indicate doing that would harm the economy even further and the president --

ROMANS: Would it harm it? It would harm it if you don't extend it to everyone, you mean?

BRADY: Absolutely. As you know the president is really struggling these days. The June jobs report was a bit of a milestone. And now out of ten recoveries since World War II, President Obama's recovery ranks dead last, tenth in both jobs and economic growth.

In fact, if he was just an average president -- I mean, just middle of the road on the economy 4 million more Americans would be going to work this morning. I think he's looking for anything to cover up just a horrible economic record.

RICHARD SOCARIDES, NEWYORKER.COM: Congressman, I think one of the things that many Americans don't understand is why do millionaires and people making over a million dollars need tax cuts? Why is that?

BRADY: Well, actually -- actually I think if you look at the economy here are the people -- the two tax brackets, the one to create the most jobs, many small businesses file taxes as individuals like you and me not as corporations, so they get hit hard.

And, secondly, these also are the consumers within our economy. Here you have small businesses begging for more consumers to come to the door. These are the ones who are doing it. Why you would punish that in terms of the economy makes no sense.

ROMANS: You know -- let me interject because we've had tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans for 10 years now. Ten years now and it hasn't create this had boom of jobs that we keep saying don't tax the rich, but do we know that lower taxes -- I'm just saying do we know that lower taxes --

BRADY: So you are raising taxes is positive for the economy?

ROMANS: No.

BRADY: I just want to understand the philosophy here because I'm just not seeing that in any economic data anywhere where taxing people more, it will jump-start the economy especially on main street. It doesn't happen.

SOCARIDES: And have more money.

ROMANS: Well, a lot of more money.

BRADY: Barely, it will not have a lot more money at all. In fact, at the rate they're spending, in fact, the president has already raised more than $60 billion of taxes. Guess how much went to the deficit? Zero. Not a dollar.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: Well, this president has been cutting taxes like crazy. I mean, let's be honest, right? The middle payroll tax holiday --

BRADY: -- spending as a result of more government revenue.

ROMANS: Let me ask you --

BRADY: If he really wanted to tackle the deficit he'd put the energy workers back to work because we can create a lot of jobs and revenue that is government by giving our industry.

ROMANS: There's the shout-out for Texas.

Let me ask you quickly about -- so, one of the things here is that can we -- I mean, what if nothing gets done? What if nothing gets done because of the gridlock we're seeing between the White House and House Republicans and you face this fiscal cliff where you have taxes rising for everyone? Can we get some bipartisanship in Washington before that happens?

BRADY: Absolutely. I think in July, this month, House Republicans will pass extension of the tax relief and some fundamental reform elements I think that are critical.

At the end of the day, I think the president will understand he's in really a bad economic position. He will cave and these tax -- we will not see the tax increases he hopes for.

ROMANS: Let me talk -- I want to -- let's switch gears a little bit. I want to talk about what's happening in Texas with the Voter Rights Act.

This is an interesting development. I mean, there have been more kind of -- more talk in the last couple of years about this that we've seen I guess in the 40 years since -- in the 40 years prior. Let me ask you about this, about what is happening in Texas.

The Justice Department says that this law, this voter fraud issue that they're talking about in Texas where they want people to come to the polls with an ID, the Justice Department says the law addresses a problem that doesn't exist. According to PolitiFact, of the 57 election fraud prosecutions, 2002 to 2012, 26 were specified as convictions and just two were guilty pleas resulting in a conviction.

I mean, 60 percent of those weren't convictions at all. They're talking about 28 convictions in tens of millions of potential votes.

Can you explain to me the -- what's happening here with the Voter Rights Act and whether it's really just something to keep people from going and voting for President Obama?

BRADY: Sure. Sure, it's not. As you know, I think there's more politics. Thirty-one states have voter ID laws in place. The Supreme Court has already ruled constitutional other states that have done this. We know the outcome. This is more politics.

But I think back to 2008 where Gloria Guidry, a pastor's wife, a mother of four, a grandmother of 11, had died in 2007 yet somehow managed to vote in the Democratic primary in 2008. I think the 121 voters all registered at a nonexistent address in El Paso, Texas, probably by groups like ACORN. I think of the 4,000 people on the voters roll in the one county, Pierce County, who were listed in Social Security as having been deceased for a number of years.

Yes, there is voter fraud and I think protecting the integrity of the ballot is a real voting rights here.

ROMANS: But, you know, 11 percent -- so the Brennan Center at NYU School of Law estimates that 11 percent of U.S. citizens do not have a government issued photo identification, 21 million Americans do not have a government-issued photo identification. The Obama administration blocked the law because they say it's unfair to voters who say it's more unlikely not to have an identification. That's a significant number of people.

BRADY: I just don't think that's the case. I don't think those numbers are accurate. There's a real question about whether the Justice Department is relying upon Democrats --

ROMANS: So you think the Department of Justice is just making that up?

BRADY: Yes, I think they're absolutely cherry-picking the numbers in the political groups they want to it use for that data and I think then the data course is going to realize that. What we really want are people who are eligible to vote.

We want as many as possible to get to the polls and register to vote. We don't want people who are dead. We don't want the fraud --

ROMANS: Of course not. No one wants that.

BRADY: We want actual real ballots from real people and this law does that.

ROMANS: You want to make sure you are not shutting anyone out at the same time. There's a balance between making sure you are not shutting people out because the overriding issue here has to be that someone who is an American and is eligible to vote is allowed to vote. You don't want to put any barriers that way.

BRADY: And the good news is -- and the good news is I agree. Georgia, for example, has seen an increase in minority voting after their voting ID laws. I don't think we have a concern there.

I just wish the White House would spend less time on this and more on the economy.

ROMANS: All right. Thank you so much, Kevin Brady, Congressman Kevin Brady from Texas -- nice to see you.

Let's get to Ali Velshi now for the rest of the top stories.

ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: I didn't want to get away from that spirited conversation.

ROMANS: I know -- I saw you hopping around over there. You are all fired up about taxes, raising taxes, creating jobs.

VELSHI: I am. But I want to give you the news anyway.

And if you couldn't get online this morning to get the news, you are not alone because a crippling Internet virus may be affecting hundreds of thousands of computers this morning. At midnight, the FBI shut down servers that were protecting as many as 300,000 PCs from the Internet doomsday virus -- nice name --which will knock you entirely off. Some Macs and iPads were hit, too.

Now, online security companies, Facebook, the FBI, they were all offering free diagnostic checks for users whose computers may have been affected. I bet you ignored them. So, now, you're going to have to call your Internet service provider to find out how to get back online.

Not much relief from a cold front that moved through the Midwest and the Northeast. It brought a fresh round of storms with it, slowing down recovery efforts in the Virginias, even causing more damage in hard had hit areas. More than 160,000 customers in nine states and D.C. are without power this morning. Some of those people have not had electricity for over a week and more hot weather could be on the way.

Well, after desperately needed rain and slightly cooler temperatures, Colorado's governor has lifted a statewide ban on fires. The Waldo Canyon blaze is 98 percent contained this morning. It is the most destructive fire in Colorado's history. It began on June 23rd. It's blackened more than 18,000 acres and destroyed 346 homes in Colorado Springs -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Thank you, Ali.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, a close encounter with a great white. A shark sinking his teeth into a kayak. We're going to ask an expert if the predators are coming closer to our shores.

And today's tough call, a father sentenced to jail for hosting a bible discussion in his own home. Is the city code out of step with the Constitution?

And this is from Ali Velshi's playlist. Come on, do the dance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do it.

ROMANS: "Call Me Maybe."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: That is so creepy. Just the music is creepy. Imagine you're kayaking on the ocean when you feel a bump from below, tosses you overboard and then you see a great white shark take a bite out of your kayak while you float helpless in the water.

This happened Saturday to a fisherman near Pleasure Point, at the popular surfing spot in California. The 52-year-old man was in his kayak when a great white estimated to be 18 feet long. Maybe up to 18 feet long. Knocked him into the water. The kayak suffered some bite marks. You can see in there. But the fisherman was unharmed and pulled to safety by a nearby boater.

There have been 103 great white shark attacks in California in the last 59 years, 12 fatalities.

Sean Van Sommeran is the executive director of the Pelagic Shark Research Center. Is it Pelagic? Pelagic, right? Is that right?

(LAUGHTER)

SEAN VAN SOMMERAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PELAGIC SHARK RESEARCH FOUNDATION: Pelagic. Pelagic. Anything other than nomadic or --

ROMANS: Tomato, tomato. Just call the whole thing up.

Well, he spoke with the fisherman -- you examined the kayak just minutes after this attack and, first of all, tell me, you know, what happened here. Was this a -- was he mistaken for a seal or this is a very -- I don't know, an adventurous great white wanting to just get a taste? What happened here, do you think?

VAN SOMMERAN: Yes, it just, you know, speculation. The easy part is these guys were out fishing in kayaks outside the kelp beds and a big shark swam by, took an interest in his kayak put his teeth on the bow section of that kayak leaving these big pretty distinctive cuts and scratches.

ROMANS: And were there teeth left in there?

VAN SOMMERAN: And so that's upsetting and --

ROMANS: Yes, I'd say. I -- well, so the guy who's the fisherman, he's tossed out of there. What did he do, swam over to another boat? Swam quickly to another boat?

VAN SOMMERAN: It was real quiet, a still morning. So there's a group of kayakers in a relatively small area and a boater nearby was able to hear and then see the contact between the big shark and the kayaker and just automatically responded, everybody kind of gathered up, recovered the guy, the equipment, the kayak and then they towed it in to a nearby harbor at the Capitol Pier (ph) and Marina.

I got a call from Ed Borell, said you've got to come down here and look at this kayak which got bit. I was actually in a hurry trying to get to Carmel Bay to look for bashing sharkswhich have a lot of teeth, but very small, don't bite things. And so a little bit distracted but it wasn't far away. So I went down, met with Mel who is the kayaker, and very experienced. They're well organized. And he was OK. Had his wits about him still. Shaken up.

ROMANS: Maybe he wasn't -- he was a little shaken up, I mean --

VAN SOMMERAN: Yes. You know, not freaked out but you could tell he had an interesting morning.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: And did he see it? Could he see it in the water after it knocked him out? Could he see this humongous shark?

VAN SOMMERAN: Yes, but from -- as it was described to me the shark came up more or less kind of vertically and took it in its mouth and so he got a good look at the eye and the head and the snout and all that stuff.

ROMANS: Oh, man. Oh, that's just -- that's something. All right. Well, look, thanks for telling us the story. I mean, shark attack, great white, kayak, not just your average day at the office, that's for sure.

Sean Van Sommeran, thanks so much. Nice to see you.

VAN SOMMERAN: Thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: Ahead on STARTING POINT a man was hosting a bible study in his own home. Now he faces jail time. The city says he broke the rules, but should they apply to religion? That's our tough call. That's coming up.

Don't forget you can watch CNN live on your computer, your mobile phone while you're at work. Head to CNN.com/tv.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Our tough call this morning, this one is about a Phoenix man. He may start serving a 60-day jail sentence today. He's refusing to stop holding bible study in his own home.

The city says Michael Salmon is violating building code laws, 67 violations in all. He is an ordained pastor. He and his wife have been holding bible studies on their properties since 2005, usually about 15 people attend. The neighbors have been complaining about the traffic.

Now in 2007 he received a letter from the city telling them that holding bible studies in their living room was not allowed. It violated construction code. 2009 the Salmons got a permit to build a 2,000-square-foot building on their property. Now the permit was actually for converting a garage into a game room.

They moved the bible study into this building. The city shows up with a search warrant and says you are violating the permit. It can't be used for assembly or church. They say they're not running a church. But there's a pulpit, there's a cross, there's seating for up 40 people. They courts have now agreed with Phoenix officials and said, no, this is -- you're holding an assembly.

This has gone past what the building code should allow. So tough call. Is this his right to, you know, have a bible study in his home or is this a guy trying to run a church out of his house? What do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's a tough call.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that's why we call it a tough call.

ROMANS: Should he go to jail for it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. I think that --

(CROSSTALK)

JOSE BAEZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That was just insane.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: OK. Jose Baez, what is insane? What? BAEZ: Get me a jury trial. How are you going to convict someone for holding bible study in their own home? You can do what you want in your own home, granted -- provided it's not illegal. How do you even get a search warrant based on traffic?

ROMANS: What about a building permit? I mean he got a building permit to convert it to a game room. I guess if it's really a bible study, you can have a bible study in your game room --

(CROSSTALK)

BAEZ: If it's your home --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's got six children, you know, and I am certain that if you have a multipurpose room, sometimes you may use it for bible study, sometimes you may use it for games, sometimes you may use it for bible study games.

(CROSSTALK)

BAEZ: And you have to use --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They thought he was running a church, right, because the traffic congestion outside of his house was so bad that they were alerted to the fact that something other than, like, bible study for your family.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anybody who has children and those children have friends and you have a lot of come and go, anybody that's got that kind of extended family --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I think the solution her e-- there's a great solution here to this tough call. This guy ought to get you to represent him and you could get him of for free.

BAEZ: It's for free. No problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could get him off for free, that's right. You can get them off.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because you can get anybody off. You even got that woman off.

(LAUGHTER)

BAEZ: You pay his routine, all right?

ROMANS: I know but that woman, what was that story again?

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to talk more are about that, right? He's a great lawyer. If I were in trouble, I'd hire him.

ROMANS: I've heard. All right. Thanks, guys. We're going to -- we'll find out if that had to go to jail today.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, a mysterious disease has claimed dozens of lives. We're going to talk to our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joining us live on this from Cambodia right after the break.

And hard times on long island. A documentary looks at people struggling to make enters meet amid a backdrop of suburban paradise.

Mark Levin's playlist, John Lennon, "Working Class Hero." There you go. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: A possible breakthrough in Cambodia where health workers are trying desperately to figure out what caused the mysterious deaths of 64 children. Samples taken from 24 of the patients found more than half of them positive for enterovirus type 71, a common cause of hand, foot and mouth disease that can also be responsible for several neurological complications, especially in children.

CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta live in Cambodia this morning. Where do things stand right now with this illness?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you point out, finding that enterovirus 71 was a pretty important discovery overall. It was only in 54 of sample studied, and 66 patients have had this sort of mysterious, a lot of questions remain.

Let me point out something I think is interesting. Within 24 hours of these patients, these children being admitted to the hospital, they're dying. And that's very sudden. Obviously for any sort of virus, certainly enterovirus causing hand, foot and mouth disease, something people know about, it is a big change. People come in with a mild fever, many of them develop encephalitis which is an inflammation of the brain. What is most striking about this is almost complete destruction of the lungs according to the doctor who has been taking care of these patients. Here in Phnom Penh. That virus has been isolated.

ROMANS: Is it contagious, Sanjay?

GUPTA: Well, that's one of the missing parts of the puzzle here. If you think of enterovirus, they are contagious. If a child, for example, has it in their home, then a sibling would be more likely to get it, even a parent, for example. That's called clustering. It can cluster in communities and enterovirus to behave. We haven't seen that. They haven't seen that here in Cambodia. Sporadic cases in several different provinces around Phnom Penh but it's not behaving the way you would expect it to behave and that's why researchers are still trying to study this.

ROMANS: All right, still a mystery there. Sanjay Gupta in Cambodia.

Let's get to Ali Velshi right now with the headlines for us. Hi, Ali.

VELSHI: Former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan said they had constructive talks with Syria's President Bashar al Assad this morning in Damascus. He says they agreed on an approach to peace that he will now share with opposition forces in Syria. Annan's visit follows secretary of state Hillary Clinton warning to Assad and his backers that the demise of his regime is, quote, "bloody inevitability."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The future, to me, should be abundantly clear to those who support the Assad regime. The days are numbered.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Meantime, Assad recently blamed the U.S. for the carnage in his country.

New concerns about security in London. Reports say a terror suspect with links to Al Qaeda was arrested after breaching an exclusion zone surrounding the Olympic park on five separate occasions. Officials say the suspect never got into the park. He is charged with violating anti-terrorism restrictions.

And it looks like the race for the White House may be going down to the wire. Take a look at the latest "USA Today" survey. If the election were held today the president holds a two-point lead over Romney in 12 critical swing states. That is, however, within the poll's margin of error. And that lead expands to four points for the president when all of the states are counted.

Democrats are demanding Mitt Romney explain his offshore bank accounts and release more of his tax returns. The timing is no coincidence. The presumptive GOP nominee was busy picking up about $3 million in campaign contributions this weekend from the rich and powerful in New York's Hamptons. His appearance sparked protests. Some 200 people gathering near the residents of a billionaire David Koch while he held a private fund-raiser for Mitt Romney at his house in Southampton. The protesters holding signs reading "Our elections aren't for sale."

And taking cover in the dugout. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow. That knocked -- the players are coming off the field whether they want them to or not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: That was nuts. A crazy thunderclap sent players and the umps running at the Texas Rangers game in Arlington last night. A bolt of lightning struck just outside the stadium. Josh Willingham, the runner at first, dropped to his knees. Twins centerfielder tweeted, "That's the loudest noise I've ever heard." I thought Jesus was coming during the 46-minute delay that followed, Christine. That was loud.

ROMANS: Many of us do find Jesus in baseball, too. That's very true. Thanks, Ali.

Later this morning president Obama plans to call on Congress to extend tax cuts only for people making less than $250,000 a year. The people who would most be affected by this extension are those in the middle class still struggling from the recession.

A new HBO documentary takes a hard look at people dealing with serious financial pressures, called "Hard Times: Lost on Long Island." It follows four families over nine months following the affects of unemployment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been working since I was 15. I never used those benefits. I worked hard for those benefits. Now I'm 50 years old and I can't get them. I'm broke. I'm done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: We have the producer and director of "Hard Times: Lost on Long Island." It premieres tonight on HBO. Thanks for being here. It's interesting. This is a profile of four families, long-term unemployed. We in this country have defined ourselves by work and for the first time in a lot of people's lives we don't have enough of what defines us. It's very difficult on families.

MARC LEVIN, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER: Absolutely. I'm going to take this out.

ROMANS: Sure, go for it.

LEVIN: When you have a financial disaster or earthquake, a hurricane, you can see people's live lives. This is a disaster. Though the houses look beautiful, the cars still look nice, the neighborhood still looks nice, inside you see people's psyche disintegrating.

ROMANS: It's interesting because Long Island is the genesis of this suburban dream, really.

LEVIN: Levittown after World War II became the new post war suburbia. And I guess you could call it a social contract -- if you worked hard, were a responsible citizen, you could give your kids a better life. We started it in 2010 when there was optimism it was going to be recovery, the summer of recovery and the administration was saying it was the summer of recovery. And at the end of 2010 after the Republicans had won Congress and the tea party had risen, we saw people saying this isn't just two years we're going to be back. REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN, (R) TENNESSEE: We see it everywhere. And I think that people are very distrustful of the federal government and I think that the tea party, people have gravitated to that because they want information. Many times we say it is almost impossible to give our constituents too much information right now. They want the facts on things. They don't like what they see happening to the American dream and they want the ability to say Washington bureaucrats, get out of my way. Just let me do my job. Let me get back to work.

LEVIN: Well, you know, it's interesting. We have made a conscious effort to kind of strip this film of politics. You can imagine there were quite passionate debates.

(CROSSTALK)

LEVIN: There was one couple where the husband went to Tea Party events. The wife went to Occupy Wall Street. What was kind of scary they were silent. They were mute. They felt as if they almost disappeared, that their voices didn't matter anymore.

ROMANS: That's interesting.

LEVIN: There was incredible shame, a sense of suffering.

ROMANS: You define yourself by work. So many people have for so many years and when you've been two years out of work -- I have a hard time finding people who want to tell their story. Did you have a hard time finding people?

LEVIN: Very hard.

ROMANS: Really it attacks the very essence of who they are. I haven't been working for two years. Suddenly one of the big qualifiers of who you are is gone.

LEVIN: Exactly. We had a lot of people we talked to off camera. Once we turned the camera on, it was a different situation. People said I can't go on camera because my family doesn't know or my neighbors don't know. In fact, one of the couples brought their two children, two sons, and their sons saw their mom go to a food pantry and it was the first time they learned their mom was going to a food pantry to get them food for the family.

RICHARD SOCARIDES, NEWYORKER.COM: Did you meet anybody? Did you talk to anybody who had found an alternative way of finding some faith, they often turn to spirituality to get relief to them.

LEVIN: That's interesting that you say that. Yes, we did. Stories really like Job, why do bad things happen to good people. This guy survived six or seven near death experiences including people in the world trade center on 9/11.

JOSE BAEZ, AUTHOR, "PRESUMED GUILTY": What about alcoholism or drugs? LEVIN: I didn't see that but certainly medication, antidepressants. And the health risks when you are so stressed out and you lose the sense of self-worth.

ROMANS: Any found jobs in the two years since?

LEVIN: Yes.

ROMANS: That's what I wanted to hear. I wanted you to see the show premieres tonight on HBO at 9:00 p.m. Marc Levin, thank you. Thank you for bringing that to us.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, inside the Casey Anthony trial. Her former attorney Jose Baez starting the STARTING POINT team and the behind-the-scenes details. "Presumed Guilty: Casey Anthony, the Inside Story" next. I know you have a lot of questions still. You're watching STARTING POINT

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ROMANS: It's been a year since Casey -- Casey Anthony was found not guilty of murdering her 2-year-old daughter Caylee. Casey has kept a low profile since the controversial trial, serving probation at an undisclosed location in Florida but so many other details have been kept in the dark until now.

Jose Baez was her criminal defense attorney. He has a new book "Presumed Guilty: Casey Anthony, the Inside Story." We know so much about this trial. And I was just saying that it's almost by osmosis people knew what was happening in this trial.

This was the most hated woman in America. Her daughter was dead. She gets off. You become famous in the process, too. I mean, how did this change your life?

JOSE BAEZ, AUTHOR, "PRESUMED GUILTY": Incredibly. You know, it started out very difficult. There were times that people couldn't draw between the legal professional and the accused. I had helicopters flying over my house. My wife and I had a child during the process and we had to keep her -- the baby confidential and when we went into the hospital -- all kinds of craziness going on.

And when you say a lot of people have heard so much about the case, I'm of the opinion that no you haven't. There's so much --

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: So what do I not know about this case?

BAEZ: There's so -- there's so much --- well there are so much more. Well, for example, how mythical some of the stories are such as the chloroform. Chloroform was never an issue in the case. There are dozens and dozens of pieces of evidence that -- it was just outright insane. Hair samples, where -- in what world do you see that?

ROMANS: What -- what is her relationship now with her parents? I've read that she talks to her mother every day but that she does not really have a relationship with her dad? Do you know what the situation is there? Because -- because her relationship with her father and accusations about her father was something that you brought up for reasonable doubt.

BAEZ: Well you know, I've -- she allowed me permission to write the book and to tell the story, the entire story from beginning to end. Unfortunately, it ends after she gets out of prison. And you know anything beyond that I think I would be crossing the line as to my agreement with her.

SOCARIDES: I'm kind of interested you know aside from the obvious that it was -- these facts were kind of sensational, now that you've had some time to reflect, what do you think it was about our culture, our bigger culture that made this so fascinating to everybody on a day-to-day basis?

BAEZ: I think because she was young, pretty and white. I'm going to call people out on it --

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: But a little crazy, too.

BAEZ: Oh it is -- that's not --

ROMANS: -- women look at this case, it wasn't because she was young, pretty and white, it was because there was a beautiful child gone and this woman running around and saying oh here is my office at the Universal Studios and oh I have -- you know all of this -- this fantasy world.

BAEZ: Absolutely but if you do this business long enough you're going to see crazier stories, crazier cases.

ROMANS: Everybody is crazy.

BAEZ: No, not necessarily everybody is crazy.

ROMANS: Right.

BAEZ: But you're going to see some outrageous behavior across- the-board. But what brought it in, what gave this case legs is that -- is who Casey is, her family, couple that with the odd facts and you've got yourself a regular three-ring circus.

And that's what made this case what it was, to the point where I want to try to explain in the book, is get the facts. Let everybody make their determination from the facts. And after you're done reading the book if you think she is innocent, great. If you think she's still guilty, that's obviously your -- your option as well.

But without people knowing the true story, the facts, the inside story in there because I was the only person from the first day --

(CROSSTALK) ROMANS: Yes.

BAEZ: -- to the very last day to be on the case and have access.

SOCARIDES: You think you have good facts, you think you have good facts, I mean you think -- you think most good criminal lawyers could have gotten her off or you got her of because it was you, right?

BAEZ: No, there were some bad facts and there were times in the case where I felt this case is horrible.

SOCARIDES: You thought this was a horrible (ph) case?

BAEZ: Yes there were times where we thought to ourselves, uh-oh. I need to talk to her about a plea. But as we started digging deeper and looking beyond the headlines, see there's no room for the facts in the headlines. And once you start looking beyond that, you could start seeing --

(CROSSTALK)

SOCARIDES: Did you think you're going to -- when the -- when that jury came in, did you think you're going to win?

BAEZ: I felt very strong about our case. I felt throughout the entire trial we were making headway and I could look across the courtroom and see the jury nodding their heads in agreement with some of our points.

ROMANS: Oh you had a good feeling. All right, Jose Baez, the book is called "Presumed Guilty" is the name of the book. There you go.

Ahead on STARTING POINT -- separating the boys from the girls. More schools are going for single sex classrooms. Is it better for students? Is it even legal? That's next.

You're watching STARTING POINT.

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ROMANS: It's a growing trend across the country, public schools separating students by sex. And now dozens of those schools are being targeted by the American Civil Liberty Union over their single sex classes. All boy and all girl classes began popping up back in 2006 after the U.S. Department of Education relaxed -- relaxed some restrictions.

To put it in perspective there are only about a dozen schools separating the sexes and now there are 500. The schools say it improves students' learning. But the ACLU and other critics worry, hey, this is promoting gender stereotypes. You're segregating kids based on sex.

Steve Perry is CNN education contributor. He's just here now, your -- your school used to be all boys but you had to bring it, now it's mixed classrooms where you are, right?

STEVE PERRY, CNN EDUCATION CONTRIBUTOR: Well we never got to open as an all boys school. But that was the goal, the goal originally was to make Capital Prep an all boys black and Latino male school but we are not that. We are a mixed gender or co-ed school that is multicultural.

ROMANS: Tell me about single sex classrooms. Do they help or hurt student learning?

PERRY: I think the greater question is one of choice. Each parent should be put in a position where they get the opportunity to choose the school that they think works best for their child.

In some settings I do think the single gender setting is best for a child. Parents have to know their kids and have to be given an option for that. Again, when we consider schools like Mt. Holyoke or Smith which are women's colleges, they turn out every year hundreds of graduates who go on to make amazing impact; or Morehouse that's a black and male college. If it works and has worked for so many generations, then we can't look past the facts.

Do I know if it is in and of itself inherently better? No I do not. But I do support it as an opportunity as a method of education.

ROMANS: That's interesting the choice part of it. And people who support that -- or proponents of this say that they can tailor the curriculum a little bit better. That they can help improve girls confidence in particular and get girls more immersed in science, technology, engineering and math without -- without boys. They can really get their confidence up.

And for boys they can tailor the curriculum to get their graduation rates up and to really give them the kind of skills that they need. I mean, that's what it's about essentially.

PERRY: Right. Suffice it to say we have to come to some understanding that boys and girls typically are different. And very often boys are maligned for being boys in the primary school grades. So boys are typically made to feel like there's something wrong with them. It's one of the many reasons why so many of our boys are labelled, especially boys of color because in many cases the people teaching them are women.

And because of the divide and the way in which we interpret children's behavior even as professionals we think that boys' behavior is somehow malicious and therefore needs to be corrected. And in many the boys themselves are just being boys.

On the same token, when we look at girls, girls are put in positions where they're not encouraged to pursue the hard sciences but when you look at them again at a college setting where there's either a large percentage of girls and/or it's a women's college, these women are often found to feel better. We actually strongly encourage most of all of our girls to consider a woman's college because we found that when our girls go off to a woman's college they actually have a greater sense of self-efficacy than they do typically when they go to a co-ed school.

ROMANS: We just think about something middle school or something, Steve, where the distractions like flirting, bullying -- all these other things, I mean maybe there are some benefits there, too. Ok, thanks, Steve Perry.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: Not that I'm against flirting. No, no, no -- I'm just saying, you know, we have a lot of work to do in the American public schools. Thanks, guys.

We're going to have the "End Point" coming up next.

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ROMANS: Time for our "End Point" this Monday morning. We'll start with Richard Socarides.

SOCARIDES: Well, I would draw everybody's attention to Paul Krugman's op-ed in "The New York Times" today which talks about Governor Romney and his refusal to release his tax returns, his Swiss bank account, money he has invested in the Cayman Islands. I think it's going to be a big issue in the campaign. The campaign is going to get nasty and a lot is going to be about Mitt Romney's finances.

ROMANS: All right. Jose?

BAEZ: I will go for the shameless book plug and say that you can pick up my book on Amazon or BarnesAndNoble.com. If you're interested in the Casey Anthony case, you have to read this book.

ROMANS: Yes. Not very many people are interested in that case, sadly for you.

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: Issue number one, jobs and the economy, government doesn't create jobs. It creates the environment to create jobs. Less regulations, less litigation, less taxation equals more innovation and job creation for Americans --

SOCARIDES: That's where she started this morning.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: Thank you so much. We'll keep talking about this into the break.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello right now -- Carol.