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Minimum Wage Discussion; Obama in Mexico; U.S. Ice Dancers Make History; National Guard Member Suspended; Milk, Gasoline Prices Headed Higher

Aired February 19, 2014 - 09:30   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: A lot of people work simply to get health insurance.

STEPHEN MOORE, CONTRIBUTOR, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": Carol -- Carol, we want people working. One of the reasons the economy isn't performing up to standard is because we've seen this record dropout of people from the workforce. As an economist, I find that to be a very troubling thing.

Now, look, the other thing that the CBO found about this minimum wage was they found that 80 percent of the workers who would be affected by the minimum wage, who would get a raise -- an increase in their wage, those are people not in poor households. Those are people oftentimes in, you know, teenagers and middle class households who are just working to get some walking around money.

Your -- I think the point is that the minimum wage increase is not a very good way to cut poverty. We all want to reduce poverty in this country. I read that whole report and I came away thinking, this isn't a very smart way to reduce income inequality --


MOORE: And to get people who are poor into the middle class.

COSTELLO: I hear you. I hear you. Forty-six and half million Americans live in poverty. So what's your idea?

MOORE: Well, I want to see more jobs in this country. I would -- I would get rid of Obamacare --

COSTELLO: Everybody does. But what -- but how?

MOORE: OK. Get rid of Obamacare. I mean this is something right away that would help create a couple of million jobs. I think cut taxes on businesses so they can hire more workers. And balance the budget.

COSTELLO: Oh, come on, Stephen, businesses are not hurting. Banks are not hurting. They're just not hiring people because, you know what, they don't have to.

MOORE: Well, you know, you're right, Carol, that businesses are actually sitting on a lot of money right now. According to "The Wall Street Journal," about $2 trillion. You know what the problem is, Carol, they're not reinvesting that money into the economy.


MOORE: When I ask employers why not, it's because they say they're afraid of what the next hit is going to be from Washington. Whether it's going to be, you know, new regulations under Obamacare or tax increases. I just think that it's the five year anniversary of the fiscal stimulus. It hasn't created nearly the jobs that had been promised. Why don't we try a new approach of maybe taking some of these burdens off the back of businesses?

COSTELLO: There would be many people who argue that there are too few burdens placed on business. And when you have very wealthy Americans, frankly, coming out and saying the things they're saying in the recent past, that Americans should be satisfied because if they lived in China, golly, they would be rich.

MOORE: You know --

COSTELLO: Nobody really believes that business leaders really want to create jobs or pay their workers more.

MOORE: They do. Look, I mean, if you -- if you look at, for example, what happened in this week in Chattanooga where they tried to unionize that plant, one of the reasons that it failed was because the workers are already earning about $27 an hour.

I want a high wage economy, Carol, as do you. I want to see the American workers get a pay raise. But you've got to create a kind of economic environment in this country that rewards businesses for expanding. These people who say, oh, you know, businesses should be hiring more workers and so on and that we should have more regulation on business, most of those people have never started business. They don't know what it takes to meet a payroll. It's a tough thing to run a small business and it's very risky to hire workers in this kind of environment.

COSTELLO: Well, we'll have to leave it there, Stephen Moore. An interesting conversation, as always. Thank you so much.

MOORE: I told you so. Minimum wage destroys jobs, Carol. I said this last week.

COSTELLO: Well, I would say, not quite, but I let you have your say.


COSTELLO: Stephen Moore, thank you so much.

MOORE: Thank you much.

COSTELLO: Still to come in the NEWSROOM, President Obama heads to Mexico for a critical meeting of North American leaders. Jim Acosta is there.


That's right, President Obama will be sitting down with leaders from Canada and Mexico here in Mexico later today. But he's going to find that some of the issues under discussion have been causing some frustration for his neighbors. I'll explain in just a few moments.


COSTELLO: A whirlwind trip for President Obama today as he heads to Mexico for a one day North American leader summit. On the agenda, global trade, the Keystone pipeline and immigration reform. Our senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta is traveling with the president.

Tell us more, Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Carol. President Obama will be down here in Toluca, Mexico, later today to sit down with the president of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto, and the prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, on a whole range of issues. You mention a few there. Trade, the president would like a transpacific trade agreement hammered out with these leaders and leaders across the Pacific. He's probably not going to get much accomplished in terms of what might be on paper during this summit, but that is one thing that he's looking at. Of course, as you know, Carol, he's been hearing it from Democratic leaders up on Capitol Hill that they don't like the fast track trade authority that the president would like to hammer out that transpacific deal.

Also on immigration reform, the president of Mexico would very much like to see the United States pass comprehensive immigration reform and get it to the president's desk. Obviously that has been stymied up on Capitol Hill and so that will be under discussion according to administration officials.

The Keystone pipeline, which is something that Canada has wanted to see taken care of in the last several years as it's been under review by the United States, Stephen Harper, the prime minister, has said he may wait for another president to come along to try to work out that deal. So there -- you know, even though they call this the three amigos summit, there could be some tensions behind the scenes as these leaders sit down. Of course, some of this we may be able to see later on this evening at a joint news conference, all three leaders holding a joint news conference later on this evening.


COSTELLO: All right, Jim Acosta reporting live for us from Mexico City.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, Meryl Davis and Charlie White make U.S. Olympic history with a gold medal win in ice dancing. Rachel Nichols is live from the Olympic village.

Hi, Rachel.


As beautiful as they skate on the ice, they were even more fun to talk to. We'll have the interview coming up.


COSTELLO: Day 12 of the Winter Olympic games in Sochi, Russia. A bit of a spoiler alert for you. U.S. skier Ted Ligety has won the gold this morning in the giant slalom. Also some Olympic history has been made at this year's games. Meryl Davis and Charlie White have won their first ever gold medal for the U.S. in the ice dancing competition. Davis and White beat the Canadian team by just four points. Fellow ice skater Adam Rippon tweeted his congratulations after their near perfect performance saying, "I was tearing up in the middle of Meryl and Charlie's free dance. So proud and happy for my friends. No one deserves it more."

This is where the medal count stands. Russia leads the overall medal count with 22, while the United States as 21. Germany and Norway both tied with eight gold medals.

Rachel Nichols, a lucky woman indeed, she sat down with the American ice dancing team shortly after they won gold. She's live in Sochi.

Good morning.


You know, in figure skating, international circles, the longtime perception was that the American ego was too big, that American individuals could never truly form into a harmonious ice dancing team. I don't how much merit that ever had to begin with, but certainly these two have proven them wrong. They are a great team together on the ice. They are great friends and they're great company too. You'll see in this interview. Take a look.


NICHOLS: I know you guys visualize every part of your routine every moment. Did you visualize after you win a gold medal?

MERYL DAVIS, ICE DANCING GOLD MEDALIST: No, absolutely not. You know, Charlie and I have just been saying that we were so well prepared for the programs, so well prepared for what it was we were going to do on the ice, that kind of the aftermath of our performance was very new, unchartered territory for us, and we're just kind of taking it one step at a time. And, as athletes, we've really planned so much of our lives that we're just trying to enjoy this moment.

NICHOLS: Most people can't imagine working one on one with the same person for 17 years.

DAVIS: Yes, it's a really unique relationship. But we have a hard time comparing it to anything else. But I think that, as I said, we had a really great foundation from the start and then from that foundation getting to grow up together and experience so much of our lives together has really only enhanced that foundation that we started with.

NICHOLS: Visa has this great commercial running now that shows videos of you guys as kids. And it's amazing. The story is that you were so shy as a kid you couldn't really look at him --


NICHOLS: And that your coach had to put a sticker on your forehead?



WHITE: I mean we -- we were both very shy kids, you know, and the whole cootie stage and --


WHITE: But --

NICHOLS: I mean you were eight, nine years old at this point, right?

WHITE: Exactly. But we loved what we did and we wanted to do anything we could to improve. So he just put it right on my forehead so she didn't have to concentrate on like looking at my eyes or anything like that.

DAVIS: I don't remember what it was, but --

WHITE: She could just focus on that anyways --

NICHOLS: Focus there and then --

WHITE: You know, so it would look like she's looking up at me, but she's --

NICHOLS: Gazing at you, but instead she's like looking at the sticker.

DAVIS: Didn't actually have to make eye contact.

WHITE: Exactly, yes.

NICHOLS: Exactly. Well that's important when you're nine years old.


NICHOLS: You just don't look at a boy.

DAVIS: Exactly I grew out of that not so quickly but eventually.

NICHOLS: And you have this amazing rivalry with the Canadian champions. They won the gold medal in Vancouver. You won the silver. Flip-flopped here but it's gone back and forth. And that you guys have pushed each other. What has that been like over the past four years? WHITE: It really helped us as a team I think having such amazing skaters and then our close rivals training with us. You know we see them in practice every day, and you know, just they are so talented. We always felt like we could never take a day off.


NICHOLS: Really, a lot of fun, right, Carol? And I'm glad you gave that spoiler alert. Because I have some news that broke in the middle of that package for you. This is huge here. Team Russia the men's ice skating team -- ice hockey team, I'm sorry I'm so over round I can't believe this. The men's Russian ice hockey team has just been eliminated from the Olympics. They were one of the gold medal favorites here.

Finland just beat them 3-1. President Vladimir Putin had said that this was the medal he was most concerned about he wanted the Russians to win this ice hockey medal. They are not even going to compete for that medal because they have been eliminated in the quarter finals by Finland 3-1.

COSTELLO: Oh Rachel but the United States is still in it, right? Right.

NICHOLS: Absolutely. They'll play tonight. Yes they'll play tonight.

COSTELLO: Awesome Rachel Nichols thanks so much.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM outrage after a Wisconsin National Guard member posts disrespectful photos on social media. They actually were making jokes about military funerals. What Wisconsin's governor is saying about this just ahead.


COSTELLO: An outrageous move by a Wisconsin National Guard member has gotten her suspended. Get a load of this she posted two extremely disrespectful photos on social media where she made jokes about military funerals. In this picture soldiers are shown posing around a flag draped casket with the caption reading, "We put the fun in funeral."

So this has now gone viral and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is weighing in. Here's Hillary Mintz of WISN.


HILLARY MINTZ, WISN: These are the two pictures that Wisconsin National Guard Specialist and Funeral Honor Guard member Terry Harrison posted on Instagram that got her suspended. One is Harrison with a folded flag in the background and the caption quote, "It's so damn cold out, why have a funeral outside? Somebody is getting a jacked up flag."

Then Harrison in this light hearted group photo after her graduation of training for honors at funerals with the comment quote "We put the fun in funeral." Major Paul Rickert says Harrison has been serving on the Funeral Honor Guard for about a year and says it's a significant position.

MAJ. PAUL RICKERT, WISCONSIN NATIONAL GUARD: We don't excuse or condone the pictures or the comments. We take it very seriously. We expect our funeral honors teams to treat the veterans and fallen service members that they inter with the respect and honor they deserve.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rickert says they do have social media awareness in their yearly training. But they also don't stop any soldiers from using it.

RICKERT: It's an expression of free speech. However again we expect soldiers and airmen to conduct themselves professionally and honorably. They're representing not only themselves but also the National Guard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor Scott Walker says he is not happy about the pictures.

GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: To me, it's just completely unacceptable. It's an outrage. It's unfathomable to me that people who were not just service members but were picked to be in this highly specialized area wouldn't be sensitive enough to realize just how awful that is.


COSTELLO: As you might expect, this story has caused quite the firestorm on the guard's Facebook page. One user wrote to her, quote, "A total disgrace to the uniform of the United States, a slap in the face to the families of the fallen. You all need to be court martialed, including your commanding officer."

We'll keep you posted.

A gallon of milk, prices creeping up -- we'll talk about what's driving up the cost of milk and gas and actually how much they are going to go up.


COSTELLO: Checking our "Top Stories" at 56 minutes past the hour. The claims of a so-called Craigslist killer are slowly unraveling. Alaska officials now say there is no evidence to back up Miranda Barbour story that she killed anyone in that state. Authorities says they followed up tips but found no evidence of a crime. Barbour previously told reporters she's committed countless murders in several states. She and her husband are currently in Pennsylvania in a jail there after admitting to killing a man they met on Craigslist.

An Oregon woman is safe this morning after she fell into a 20-foot deep sinkhole while searching for her poodle in her backyard. A neighbor heard her crying for help and called 911. Amazingly both the dog -- both the woman and her poodle escaped unharmed.

Here is some news that would make Frank Underwood smile. A new survey found Netflix customer satisfaction is at a three-year high as the sting of price hikes wears off. In fact, Netflix scored a bigger year over year increase than any other online retailer last year. Netflix has 40 million streaming subscribers worldwide. Nearly all of them here in the United States.

Might be time to rethink your budget -- two of the most important gallons are about to cost more. The price of both milk and gasoline headed higher just in time for spring. Don't you know it?

Zain Asher is at the New York Stock Exchange to tell us why. Good morning.

ZAIN ASHER, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi Carol. Yes, I'll start with milk prices. We could actually see milk prices rise by 60 cents by march. So currently, milk prices are roughly around per average $3.50. They could actually go up to $4.10. A couple of reasons why. First of all, the drought in California we have been hearing about. Obviously, farmers need water to feed cows. They also need water to produce alfalfa. If they had difficulty producing any of those things or alfalfa rather, you're going to see the price impact in milk.

Also, growing international demand for cheese, especially in places like China. China has had their own supply problems, especially with dairy products partly because of high feed cost, weather problems, disease and so they have been imported more from the U.S. And so the increase in demand, the spike in demand is also affecting milk prices as well.

But the good news is that if some stores might actually absorb the cost rather than passing it on to consumers. That's what we hope for -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Yes, that is what we hope for. Zain Asher reporting live for us this morning -- thanks so much.

The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts now.