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CNN Lou Dobbs Tonight - Transcript

Location: Washington, DC

LOU DOBBS TONIGHT 06:00 PM Eastern Standard Time January 21, 2004 Wednesday
Copyright 2004 Cable News Network
All Rights Reserved

SHOW: LOU DOBBS TONIGHT 06:00 PM Eastern Standard Time

January 21, 2004 Wednesday


GUESTS: Nancy Pelosi, Nadine Strossen, Mark Corallo

BYLINE: Lou Dobbs, Peter Viles, Lisa Sylvester, Jamie McIntyre, Bob Franken, Kitty Pilgrim, Kathleen Koch, Casey Wian, Christine Romans

LOU DOBBS, CNNfn ANCHOR, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: Tonight, President Bush is in Arizona, a key state in his reelection campaign, a front-line state in the battle to stop illegal immigration. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are our guests.


DOBBS: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi last night delivered one of the Democratic rebuttals to the president's State of the Union address. The minority leader joins me now from Washington, D.C.

Good to have you with us.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: Thank you, Lou. My pleasure to be here.

DOBBS: You were critical of the president on the issue of national security.

What would you or the Democrats do differently than the president over the course of better than two years in the war against terror and providing for national security?

PELOSI: What I said last night and what the Democrats have been saying for a long time is that the greatest threat to our national security is the clear and present danger of terrorism.

Democrats-we know as a country what we must do in that fight. Democrats have some proposals that the Republicans have resisted. First, we must have screening of cargo and of containers coming into our country, 100 percent. Right now, it's about 3 percent. We must have a very heightened security at our nuclear and chemical plants. So far, the administration has resisted the level of security necessary.

We must have 100 percent real-time communication among our first- responders, police, firefighters and others. The technology is there. The resources are not. And, just for another example, we know and can buy up the fissile material, the uranium, etcetera, for making weapons of mass destruction, but the administration has resisted putting resources to that end. It would be much better for our country, of course, to prevent an assault, an attack on one of our cities, than to simply eliminate-reduce the civil liberties of the American people to avoid a terrorist attack.

DOBBS: The president is already being criticized for raising spending to levels not seen in decades. The expense of the war on terror in providing for homeland security extraordinary. To move from inspecting containers, as you suggest...

PELOSI: Screening.

DOBBS: From 2 or 3 percent to 100 percent, these are going to be very expensive propositions. Is there the will to put that kind of money behind the effort?

PELOSI: Well, first of all, for screening-and let me make a distinction between inspection and screening for-of these containers and cargo-would cost less than $100 million to do it in the whole country. It's not a big expense. But you have to weigh whatever expense it is against the cost to our community, to our country of the loss of life and if we ever had a nuclear weapon come into a container could cost our economy a trillion dollars. And any other kinds of terrorist attack on a nuclear, chemical plant could cost very, very many lives and an enormous amount of money so this is an investment.

Quite frankly, some of it are investments in infrastructure in our country. Protecting our waterways and our ports, et cetera, which are an investment in America that we should be making, which would produce high paying jobs immediately. would protect the homeland, would be good for the economy, as well as for our security.

DOBBS: Leader Pelosi, neither the president or this Congress, Republicans or Democrats, seem to want to talk about bringing security levels at our borders to a degree that illegal aliens cannot cross our borders, that our borders will be secure against terrorists. Why is that?

PELOSI: Well, I believe that, first of all, some of the principles of immigration policy, about family unification and having a pathway to citizenship in our immigration policy also include more security at our borders. I don't know what the extent to what you want to go on it. We certainly don't want to use the U.S. Army to do it, but we certainly should strengthen our border security. I don't know that there's a resistance to that, I guess it's just a question of degree.

DOBBS: And how do you respond to the president's threat-should there be any attempt in Congress to change Medicare and the prescription drug benefit to an outright veto.

PELOSI: The prescription drug bill that the president and the Republicans put forth is really a hoax on America's seniors. It's a gift to the pharmaceutical companies and the HMOs, consumers come in last. It unravels Medicare and it does not provide a guaranteed defined prescription drug benefit under Medicare.

It prohibits the secretary of HHS from negotiating for lowest cost and for import really practically eliminates the possibility of reimportation of drugs from Canada or other countries where they are less expensive. So affordability issue is diminished in this bill as well as unraveling of Medicare.

It's a bad bill. We have initiative, Senator Daschle and I, to give the secretary of HHS the negotiating power and another one of-with another one of our colleagues, Chad Edwards of Texas and Ron Emmanuel of Illinois is taking the initiative. We are trying to get it to be a bipartisan initiative to improve importation.

But those are two discreet parts of it though. The fundamental part of the bill, the unraveling of Medicare is something we must overturn. It's a cruel hoax on seniors and I say to them beware of Republicans bearing gifts. This is a Trojan horse.

DOBBS: Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, House minority leader. We thank you for being with us.

PELOSI: Thank you, Lou.


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