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Economic Outlook; European Economy; Super Committee

Aired August 10, 2011 - 19:00   ET


JOHN KING, HOST, CNN'S JOHN KING, USA: Good evening everyone.

Tonight new U.S. sanctions on Syria and new evidence the outlaw regime simply does not care what the world thinks of its brutality.

Also ridiculous as the White House responds to an allegation it is sharing secrets of the Osama bin Laden raid with Hollywood in exchange for a chest-thumping movie release just before next year's election.

But up first tonight, more turmoil in financial markets and more details of how Washington will try to address one source of that wild volatility. You might remember we asked last night if Tuesday's 400- plus-point gain was a blip or perhaps a building block. Well, sadly, we got a decisive answer today.

The Dow industrial average plunged 520 points, 4.6 percent amid jitters about Europe's debt crisis and growing resignation that the long-term prospects for growth here in the United States are bleak. Alison Kosik watched the massive sell-off up close.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, we had yet another brutal session here on Wall Street today. You know, there's a lot of uncertainty out there over the economic outlook here in the U.S. and in Europe as well. You know, there are worries about France being downgraded like the U.S.' debt was downgraded. They really accelerated the losses in the final minutes of the trading day, and then, of course, there's a fear factor that's around here.

You know, investors feel like they're flying blind. No one has any idea of what's coming next or where the economy is headed, and it's that certainty that's feeding this downward spiral, but I also want you to keep in mind, what's also fueling this volatility are the computer models that many institutional investors use to trade stocks, so as the market falls, the programs trigger selling at different levels.

And that sent prices spiraling even lower. Now yesterday investors felt energized by the Federal Reserve statement that it would likely keep interest rates exceptionally low for another two years, but today investors got a second look at that statement and there's a part that they didn't like, that the Fed said to get ready for more slow growth, and traders tell me what you're really seeing happening in the market is the market pricing in the growing likelihood of another recession -- John. KING: Let's sort through the rubble of another rocky day now with our chief business correspondent Ali Velshi and Dave Ramsey; he's a best-selling author and the host of "The Dave Ramsey Show". Ali, I want to pick up where Alison left off there.


KING: People, investors here are looking at the U.S. economy and the new Fed statement which is pretty bleak and then looking at what's happening in Europe and thinking perhaps, perhaps another recession around the corner, especially when you look at the Europe debt issue bubbling up yet again. Now it's France. How serious of a concern?

VELSHI: Well, it's kind of strange, because the rumor, it wasn't even fact, the rumor that France might be downgraded from a AAA to a AA-plus like the United States cost their biggest bank there 15 percent on the stock market and then ended up with this. And you got to be wondering here when you're sitting in the United States what does France getting downgraded by one notch have to do with the value of my 401(k), but the problem is it's one of those markets where anybody saying anything slightly negative makes people say I don't want to be holding the bag if this keeps going down.

So what's happening is you're seeing money going into gold again, gold hitting $1,800. Another non-inflation adjusted all-time high and you saw more money going into U.S. treasuries, so the cost of borrowing money for the U.S. government has dropped yet again. This all says something called a flight to safety. People don't want to be involved in any risk whatsoever, and any hint of risk sends them into something that isn't risky and that is costing people in their portfolios. As Alison said, a lot of it is program trading. A lot of it is computers but that doesn't really give much comfort to people watching their 401(ks) diminish in size.

KING: And so Dave, you have a lot of interaction with people watching their 401 (ks). People who are worried, people who are saying what is my path to safety, and a lot of them I know to Ali's point have been saying, hey, why not gold, the price is way up? Is that a good buy?

DAVE RAMSEY, HOST, "THE DAVE RAMSEY SHOW": Well, I'm not a speculator. I'm an investor. And an investor always thinks as we've talked about many times on your show already, we always think long term. A speculator might say, well, gold's probably going to hit $2,000 by Christmas. I think it probably will, but I'm really not worried about Christmas.

I'm worried about Christmas 15, 20 years from now for my 401(k). So a flight to safety to gold is not true anymore than a flight to safety would be buying tech stocks in the late '90s. This is what's known as a bubble. And it's going to burst when the fear subsides. And so I don't want to be in gold and I don't want to be in gold at all. But if you want to play the daily run on gold, you can probably make some money. That's not what I do, though.

KING: I was having a conversation with our friend and colleague here at CNN Fareed Zakaria about what the markets are looking for, and he says especially after that Fed statement yesterday there's a lot of concern that Washington, not the economy at large, but Washington in particularly won't do any steps to encourage growth and job creation. Let's listen.


FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN'S FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: The market is saying what we care more than anything else about is whether or not you're going to get economic growth and the market is right in this particular case. So, what is our policy? What is our national strategy to boost economic growth, to create jobs, to generate demand from American consumers? We have none.


KING: Is "A," is that true, Ali, in your view we have none and "B," is that what the markets are looking for?

VELSHI: Well it would like growth somewhere, so if we didn't have growth in the United States but we had it in other parts of the world where we can manufacture things or sell services to them that would be great. But when you see this kind of soft economy all over the place you wonder where does growth come from? Growth doesn't come out of nowhere. Generally growth comes from the fact that people are working; their wages are increasing, so they buy things.

That creates demand and companies then hire more people and expand their workforces. The problem with that is that it's not -- we've had unsustainable growth for a long time. Why should we just be growing and growing and growing? So we don't have a plan to get people back to work, and without that back to work, you don't get more tax revenues in the government. Your debts don't get smaller. There has to be some plan and that plan means making it easy for employers to hire people and providing incentives which might be tax cuts or credits to businesses that are most likely to hire people here in the United States. We'd have no such plan -- as you know better than anyone, John, we have no such plan or anything even resembling such a plan in the United States.

KING: And so in the absence of that, Dave, I was reading that statement from the Fed yesterday and I kept reading it over and over again. It's just one piece of paper and I kept reading it and reading it, trying to find something to say aha, there's a nugget of good, but it says that the growth projections are now less than they were just two months ago, that the downsides, potential huge risks to the economy, more than they were two months ago.

Persistent, chronic unemployment as far as the eye can see. When you go through that and you interact with your listeners, people who call in with questions, with people who you are helping with investments, how do you deal with the fact that that is an incredibly pessimistic outlook?

RAMSEY: Well, it is extremely pessimistic, you're right. And but I think what's happened is, is that somewhere along the line we got sold a bill of goods and the bill of goods was that the government had the ability to be the economy's puppet master that -- and it kind of comes out of the roots of Keynesian economics, if you will. It started there. And this idea that somehow the president and the Congress are responsible for throwing the levers and getting the economy moving. Truthfully the economy moves from the bottom up. And to stimulate -- just like Ali said, to simulate the small business out there, will move the needle, because 64 percent of Americans work for a company 500 people or less.


RAMSEY: And so, you know, you and I are the economy, and so the great recovery will happen from the bottom up, and what Washington can do there is they can leave the emotion of that charge and put people back in charge of their own lives.

KING: Right now the emotion is out there and it is anxious and in some cases it is angry and I think it's safe to say a lot of it is very frustrated. I want you guys to weigh in on the example here. A single mother from Missouri, Lucy Nob (ph) is her name, she's a single mother. Times are tough. Resources are scarce, yet she spends a few hundred bucks to do this, pay for an airplane to fly a sign around lower Manhattan that said thanks for the downgrade. You should all lose your jobs. She also wanted to send that my way down here to Washington but we have a no-flight zone around the nation's capital for security reasons. You know Ali, people are looking for somebody to blame. Is there a culprit?

VELSHI: There isn't a culprit. There isn't, John. I mean, economic downturns are part of history. They happen. We had thought over the years that we had had the ability to make them shorter and shallower and the recession of 2008 showed us that that wasn't actually true. The economy is not science. For people out there wondering, saying they don't understand the economy, Dave put it correctly. It's you. If you are going to spend more, if you're going to go out to dinner, if you see your 401(k) going down and you make a decision you're not going on a trip or you're not spending on something, that's the economy.

It is no more complicated than that. The thing that makes people spend is the value of your home increasing, the value of your savings or investments increasing or the value of your wage increasing, that's it. Or you marry a rock star or you rob a bank. Those are the only ways you get richer in society. So we need those options in front of us, but as for the woman who did that banner it's American ingenuity.

KING: She's stimulating the economy, right, Dave?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right she did. That's right.

RAMSEY: Absolutely she did.

KING: But when people look -- when people are looking for a victim, how does it affect their behavior, Dave, when they're down like that? RAMSEY: Well it does. Instead of looking to themselves and this sense of self-reliance that made this country great, they're saying Congress, fix my life. Oops, you didn't do it. Mr. President, fix my life. Oops, you didn't do it. So, I don't feel hopeful. I don't feel prosperous, and then based on that feeling, that's consumer confidence is one way we measure that, they don't go into the marketplace. Now I'm not purporting people go into the marketplace and spend willy-nilly just to drive the economy.

I'm not one of those that believes that. But they are not saving correctly. They're panicking and pulling their money out of the market right now, and all of this has to do with this broken hope, this lack of hope. And so -- and that is a leadership breakdown in Washington, so in that sense we can point at both parties and that's what this lukewarm compromise that really made no one happy did to the markets. The markets lost their hope with that.

KING: Dave Ramsey, Ali Velshi, rocky day, but appreciates your insights, two very smart guys. We'll keep in touch. Thanks so much.



KING: Still to come here the audacity of Sarah, yes, that Sarah. The Republicans running for president have a big debate and a big straw poll this week in Iowa and tonight word of a big surprise rolling in from Alaska. And next we now know nine of the 12 members of that super committee charged with finding more cuts, more deficit cuts. Is this group ready to bargain in good faith over tax increases, maybe Medicare cuts or is it a group picked to protect the status quo?


KING: Worries about Europe drove much of the stock market's drop today, but worries about Washington also were a huge part of the volatility and uncertainty and tonight we have important new pieces of a critical puzzle. Congressional leaders have now named nine of the 12 members of that so-called super committee charged with finding at least $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction.

The White House, again, made clear today it wants more tax revenues as part of any committee deal. And the House Republican leadership just as quick again made it clear it views tax increases as a nonstarter, so is this enterprise destined to fail already, or are there ingredients for a grand compromise?

Our senior political analyst David Gergen is here, along with Bob Herbert, a former "New York Times" columnist, now a contributor to Gentlemen, I want to go into some of the particulars of the members in a minute, but, Bob, to you first, just a quick headline, when you look at the nine members so far, do you see status quo, gridlock, beholden to the leadership or do you see maybe a recipe for surprise? BOB HERBERT, FORMER NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: I don't see a recipe for surprise. I see status quo, but I also thought that when they came up with the decision to create this super committee that it was going to be status quo. I don't see where the give is going to come from, and I don't see, you know, we had the debt ceiling and the potential for default hanging over the government and they couldn't come up with an agreement then. I don't see how they're going to do it in a few shorts months by Thanksgiving.

KING: David, the same not optimistic -- I won't call it pessimistic -- not optimistic view or do you see maybe in these members some potential?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well I think Bob Herbert is fundamentally right. When you look at this group, three of the members were on -- one Democratic senator and two Republican congressmen were on the Simpson/Bowles Commission that tried to come up with a grand bargain, propose a grand bargain. All three were against it in the Simpson/Bowles Commission.

Another Republican senator walked out of the conversations with Joe Biden about trying to come up with some big compromise, so John, I think it's going to be very tough with what they've got. The issue is going to be is there -- if six members of one party hang together, can they pick off a seventh from the other side? And people are going to be looking at who is the potential break point? Who is the potential person who could form a (INAUDIBLE) otherwise you come out 6-6 in the committee. It's a nonstarter. You're going to have something to vote on.

KING: Well let's look at some of the potentials here. I'm going to bring up some of the members here. I want to start on the Senate side. You say who might be the compromise -- on the Senate side you have Senator Kerry. He was a presidential nominee. Patty Murray, the knocks on her is that she's also at the same time she chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. She's raising money for Democratic Senate candidates who are trying to say the Republicans want to kill Medicare at the same time she's serving on a committee in which Medicare cuts will be an issue.

That's been a criticism there. Liberals don't like Max Baucus because he has supported some entitlement programs, Medicare, trims in the past. Here's an interesting part, David and Bob. You mentioned who are the potentials. Now Jon Kyl (ph) is one of the guys who didn't like the negotiations with the vice president. Some conservatives though worry because he's retiring after this term. They think he might be looking for a big achievement. Here's another one here. Rob Portman, Democrat -- this is probably the kiss of death for Rob Portman.

He's widely viewed as a potential vice presidential candidate, the new senator from Ohio, worked in the Bush Budget Office. Democrats welcome his appointment, Bob Herbert. They say he's someone who, yes, he's a conservative, but they don't view him as an ideologue. Might he be a deal maker? HERBERT: Look there's a possibility that one side could pick off one member from the other side, but the problem then is that it's got to go to the Congress. I just think that this whole thing is fraught with politics and ideology. I mean people have rigid ideological positions, and I just don't see how a grand compromise could work. If the president and John Boehner who supposedly had come close to some kind of an agreement and that couldn't work, I don't see how it's more likely to work when you throw it open to members of Congress.

KING: And, David Gergen, does it make any difference in the game of Washington chess, all three of these Republicans relatively good relationship with their leadership. These three Democrats good relationships with their leadership, you come over to the House side, Speaker Boehner picked three Republicans with whom he has very good relationships, Nancy Pelosi has the final picks, the Democratic leader. Does she have any special leverage now that she knows all the other members?

GERGEN: Yes, well it makes it -- it makes her picks obviously more interesting, but Nancy Pelosi, as you well know, John, has said going into the 2012 elections, there are three issues on the table, Medicare, Medicare, Medicare. She's going to send people in there who are going to refuse to have any big cuts on entitlements. What I'm less certain about is we don't know when John Boehner was agreeing to those $800 billion in new tax revenues what that involved.

Was there a formula there that if you -- if you reform taxes, that revenue would come out of growth as opposed to higher taxes. I don't know the answer to that, but there may be some give in there. There are some aspects of this -- I wouldn't write this off, but I do agree with Bob Herbert that the outlook is not optimistic.

KING: That --

HERBERT: John --

KING: Go ahead, Bob.

HERBERT: Just one more point I could make?

KING: Sure.

HERBERT: Quickly. Even if they can come up with an agreement, what we're talking about is a move toward austerity here which it seems to me in this economic environment is exactly the wrong way to go. So an agreement, if anything, in the short term will likely harm the economy and make unemployment even worse. So, we're in a really terrible fix here.

KING: Which brings me to this point; you mentioned an age of austerity perhaps coming here. We went back and counted; the president in recent days saying he wants to pivot now and focus on one word and that is jobs for the American people. We went back and found at least six examples going back to 2009, in which the president said it's time to stop what we're talking about and move on to a jobs debate. Here is one of them in a conversation I had with the president back in 2009.


KING: -- knew I was going to be seeing you, so I asked 20 people what would you ask if you had the privilege --


KING: -- that I have at this moment, 18 of the 20, 18 asked a variation of --

OBAMA: Jobs.

KING: -- where are the jobs? When are they coming back?

OBAMA: Yes. Well look the -- this is something that I ask every single one of my economic advisers every single day, because I know that ultimately the measure of an economy is, is it producing jobs that help people support families, send their kids to college. That's the single most important thing we can do.


KING: David, that's two years ago. You see it from the left; you see it from progressives more toward the center. A lot of disappointment in this president and you see almost every other breath in the Republican presidential candidates saying he promised you jobs. He has failed. Will we see a sustained focus from the president on jobs?

GERGEN: Don't know. We've just heard from the Federal Reserve, too, that they think for the next two years we're not going to have much growth and many new jobs. John, I think that the most important thing he can do right now is to take time away from campaigning, turn seriously, bring the leaders of the Congress back and cut a deal on jobs and do something that gives people a reassurance that we're going to actually do something real in their lives.

This will help to staunch the flow of blood in the stock market. It will give people more confidence. And maybe if he can get the jobs issue moving with a bipartisan kind of deal, I think the makings of it are there, maybe he can change the environment in which this debt commission is going to work. But I do think it's right -- I think Bob Herbert again is right -- I agree with him on a lot of these issues -- we disagree on others -- that its got to get this jobs issue right. He's got to get moving on this. This country right now feels as if there's no one in charge.

KING: And --


KING: Bob, it's both a leadership and a credibility question, is it not?

HERBERT: Oh, it is. David is absolutely right about the need for the president to essentially come off the campaign trail, really focus on jobs, in an environment when you don't have a lot of tools for job creation begin to bring people together and try to forge some kind of bipartisan agreement on jobs. Now, I know this is difficult, but I think that's what the president is obliged to do. That's where -- that's -- leadership is called for and he's the one that's obliged to provide that leadership.

KING: Bob Herbert and David Gergen, appreciate your insights on these two important topics tonight. We'll keep in touch gentlemen.

And still to come here, Sarah Palin isn't in the big Iowa Republican debate tomorrow night or on the Iowa straw poll ballot on Saturday. So, why, oh, why, is she rolling into Iowa this week? Is that smart, maybe selfish?

Also Anderson Cooper joins us live from Somalia where Bono among those trying to help the starving.


KING: Welcome back. Here's the latest news you need to know right now. Using a robot, technicians this afternoon disrupted what the FBI calls a potential explosive device found on a gas line in Oklahoma. A law enforcement official tells CNN it contained black powder, propane and had some sort of timer.

The Pentagon now says 17 Navy SEALs, not 22, were among the 30 Americans killed Saturday when the U.S. helicopter was shot down over Afghanistan.

This afternoon Arizona petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to allow it to begin enforcing that tough anti-immigration law the state passed last year.

After a nearly three-year drive, three-year drive one of NASA's Mars Rovers finally is along the edge of a 14-mile-wide crater. In this newly released photo, you can see the ground sloping down from the hills out there along the rim.

And back on earth the European Space Agency has posted satellite images showing how the tsunami from last March's earthquake in Japan hit an ice shelf in Antarctica, causing icebergs to break off.

Next we go live to CNN's Anderson Cooper in Somalia where the food will run out in as little as three weeks. And later a Republican congressman wants to know if the White House is exchanging -- endangering our troops by sharing classified information with Hollywood.


KING: Actions, we are told at a young age, speak louder than words. And in Syria tonight, the actions of the brutal regime speak volumes. New violent attacks on anti-government protesters in strongholds this time in northern and eastern Syria. Human rights activists report intense gunfire and say at least three people are dead and eight wounded in these new attacks. And the new violence came despite new economic sanctions from the Treasury Department, part of an escalation in U.S. policy that CNN is told will soon include an explicit call for President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

And Syria's crackdown comes despite a new push for additional condemnations and sanctions from European countries and from the United Nations Security Council. There at the U.N., Russia and China are described as still resisting tough new sanctions and the Obama administration -- well, it's not hiding its frustration.


SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: We think that it's past time for all council members to put the interests of the Syrian people rather than particular bilateral issues or interests at the forefront of their action and for the council to continue as it did last week with our strong support to deliver very strong message that what is happening in Syria is unacceptable and it needs to be stopped.


KING: CNN's Arwa Damon is working her sources inside Syria from neighboring Lebanon tonight.

And, Arwa, this appears to be a cycle, the international community intensifies the heat and President Assad intensifies the crackdown.

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, that most certainly is exactly how it seems to be playing out. We have this ongoing military offensive in the Deir Ezzor, in the eastern part of the country, and the military build-up, it would seem, in Ezlib (ph) province, once again with hundreds reported being detained in a number of different villages there.

And we're just receiving right now information from the Lebanese -- from the local coordination committees of Syria that the death toll in Homs has risen to 15.

And so, it most certainly seems that the Syrian government is trying to continue to play both sides in the sense that on the one hand it's still promising political reforms, it's making what activists would call superficial moves. But on the other hand, it appears just as intense to continue cracking down militarily.

KING: And from the United States Treasury Department, today, new sanctions against Syria's largest mobile phone operator, also against a major Syrian bank and its subsidiary there in Lebanon. Any sense that tightening the economic noose will have any impact on the regime's behavior?

DAMON: Well, John, it seems that the tightening of that noose by the United States is not likely to have that great of an impact on Syria. Now, should that be followed by more sanctions by European countries especially those that have interests in Syria's energy sector, that could perhaps have a greater impact.

But what is really going to tighten the noose on this regime is going to be something that is going to have to be beyond words, beyond rhetoric, and beyond sanctions, because this is a regime that is fighting for its very existence. It is a regime that ever since it came into power with Assad Sr., the current president's father, 40 years ago, has worked to build up the institutions that two allow for it to stay into power.

So, for those institutions to begin to crumble and for the regime to begin to fall, it is going to take much more drastic action by the international community.

KING: Arwa Damon in Beirut for us tonight -- Arwa, thank you.

Also major international news today in Somalia, even though the World Food Programme says it may run out of food supply for Somalia within three weeks, the African Union postponed a donor pledging conference for two weeks until August 25th. One African aid group calling that a message of apathy to the rest of the world.

CNN's Anderson Cooper, who is in Somalia, heard a much more urgent call to action today during an interview with musician and human rights activist, Bono.


BONO, ENTERTAINER & ACTIVIST: Thirty thousand of them have died in the last few months. And it's true, you know, people seem to prefer watching, you know, people on the high streets of London fight policemen rather than watching children of Somalia fighting for their lives. People watch the values -- you know, stock values crumble while, you know, I think about our own sense of values tumbling, because this will define who we are. This is a defining moment for us, and there's lots to distract us, and there's serious issues -- people's livelihoods.


KING: "A.C. 360" is live from Somalia at the top of the hour and Anderson is with us now live from Mogadishu.

Anderson, you hear the urgent call from Bono. You are seeing the urgent desperation first hand, and then you hear things like a major donor conference postponed for two weeks, even though the food could run out in three. It has to spark a profound sense of outrage.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Well, I mean, it is shocking to hear that. Not surprising, though. I mean, first of all, African Union troops, by the way, have been fighting and dying here for years. There's 9,000 African Union troops, Ugandans and groups from Burundi.

But the silence on the part of Arab governments around the world, the silence on the part of Islamic governments around the world, the failure of them to even bolster the peacekeeping forces here, these peacekeeping forces, the Ugandan troops have been fighting and dying. They are undermanned. They are desperate for more troops to try to create safe corridors where they'd be able to deliver food -- but that isn't happening.

I mean, I was at a hospital, John, here in Mogadishu today, where the security situation was so bad we could only stay there for about 30 minutes.

But in that time, we saw this couple sitting on a bed, and noticed that in between them was a child wrapped in a shroud. It was their last child. Two of their other children had already died. This was their last child, a little boy named Ali. He was just 1 years old and he had died a short time before we got there.

And they didn't have the money to bury him. They didn't know what they were going to do. They were just sitting there for hours on the bed not sure what to do.

And you see this time and time again. I mean, the time has run out. And the World Food Programme is, you know, they're trying to make the headline. They're trying to get people to pay attention that they have three weeks of food supplies left. And yet, it seems to be falling on deaf ears, particularly that donor conference.

KING: And so, people who have a history of trying to help like Bono, you could hear the frustration in the short clip we played. Tell us more about that interview. And I watched last night as well, you are trying -- sometimes celebrities come forward to try to shake people to their senses. What more did he tell you?

COOPER: Well, you know, he's interesting because he's actually very well-informed on both short-term and long-term solutions. Because the problem here, there's the short-term, the immediate humanitarian crisis, they need $2 billion for this. That's what they believe they need to address the needs of people here.

They only have $1 billion that's actually been sent, $1 billion that's in the pipeline. So, that's 50 percent shortfall. So, that's the immediate need they need to figure out.

But also just long term, we talked about agricultural needs. There have been programs -- U.S.-backed programs, USAID-backed programs in Kenya and Ethiopia that are working right now and had prevented the impact of the drought, which is occurring in Kenya and Ethiopia, for having the same impact as it's having here.

So, the solutions are both short-term and long-term. We'll talk about that tonight on "360."

KING: And "360" coming up. It's about 20 minutes, at the top of the hour. We appreciate Anderson live from Mogadishu. Stay tuned for much more at the top of the hour.

Anderson, thank you. And up next here, Sarah Palin's latest surprise, she's getting back on a bus and driving to a state, well, a state the other Republican presidential candidates had hoped to have all to themselves.


KING: Here she goes again. Remember when Sarah Palin rolled her bus tour through Massachusetts and up into New Hampshire just as Mitt Romney was announcing his presidential candidacy? Innocent coincidence, she said, no harm intended.

Well, tonight, CNN was the first to report that former Governor Palin was getting back on the bus this week and rolling into Iowa. And here's the innocent coincidence, or coincidences, there's a presidential debate there tomorrow night, Republican event. And the big Ames presidential straw poll -- that's Saturday. Governor Palin isn't in the debate or the straw poll ballot.

So, why crash a week that's pretty important to those who are officially in the race?

Is that smart? Selfish? Or so what?

Republican consultant Rich Galen is here, along with Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher who worked for the Obama campaign in 2008. And in New York, CNN contributor John Avlon, a senior political columnist for "Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast."

Rich, as a guy who's worked in Republican campaigns, if you're in one of the other campaigns, this is a big week to try to get traction --


KING: -- and in comes Palin-o-rama, you got to be P.O.'d.

GALEN: Yes. She's like the girl who sat at the cool kids' table in high school and graduated. And every time there's some dance or something, she comes back to remind everybody she was the coolest girl.

I mean, go away. Go to college. Whatever. Just get out of here.


KING: That's the Republican take, I'm afraid to ask anybody else.

CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Actually, I can't give a better take than that. But here's the thing. Here's the problematic if you are a guy like T-Paw, you know, and you are really trying to struggle to get some traction here -- she overshadows almost everyone else in that field, even those front-runners although I think Bachmann is the frontrunner. She overshadows them and she makes it harder for T-Paw and some of those other candidates to gain traction. That's who she is really hurting here.

KING: And, John, let's watch a little bit before I get your take. She not only announced she's going in there and she's raising money, but this is -- she puts up a flashy video. And, look, whether you like Governor Palin or don't like Governor Palin, she is a very smart self-promoter and she does a pretty good job on her Web site with these videos.


SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: They're the ones who do some of the hardest work in America, who grow our food and run our factories and fight our wars. They love their country in good times and bad, and they're always proud of America.


KING: So, the heartland reference there, Iowa state fair pictures, John Avlon, she's good.

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. And I don't know about you, but every time I go on a summer vacation, I like to release a promo video before just to really, you know, frame the whole thing for everybody.

I mean, this is really bizarre, right? I mean, first of all, when the Republican strategist Rich Galen is doing the high school girl metaphor, you know she's worn out her welcome. But second of all -- I mean, this is really sort of a strange bid for attention, much more than anything resembling a serious presidential bid. And, clearly, it's no coincidence. But there doesn't seem to be any larger plan, just a lot of self-promotion, strategically timed to distract from other Republican candidates.

It's kind of bizarre behavior, frankly.

KING: I want to watch to see how it plays out.

But, first, I want to turn to something that for the moment I'm going to make the bold statement is more important. It's the super committee that has been named. Now, we have nine of the 12 members of the super committee. And they have to come up with at least $1.5 trillion deficit reduction. Wall Street has made clear it would like more than that.

I'm going to walk over to the wall and show some of the members.

And, John Avlon, I want you to go first, as you look at this group, everyone we've seen so far, and I'll show the Senate picks, we have all six of the Senate picks, three Democrats, Kerry, Murray, Baucus, three Republicans, Kyl, Toomey, and Portman. Let's start here and then we'll move on to the House side. When you look at this group, John, I know you were a founding member of the centrist group, No Labels. You want these guys to strike a grand bargain. Is this a group to do that?

AVLON: This is a profound cynicism and it's frankly a pathetic bid by party leaders that just recycles the original problem that got us here. Instead of appointing people like the "gang of six," serious people who sat down in the room and try to reach across the aisle to propose solutions, those "gang of six" were intentionally excluded. Instead of a conservative like Tom Coburn, you get the founder for Club for Growth like Pat Toomey.

And, you know, the only members of the Bowles/Simpson committee that were appointed were the people who voted against the recommendations.

This is really a pathetic recycling of the original problem, and so, I'm not optimistic at all.

KING: That is the general consensus, Rich and Cornell, and, John, stay with us -- that is the general consensus around town, that you got three people here very loyal to the Democratic leader Harry Reid, he does not want to give up the Medicare issue going into the next election. Three people here, Pat Toomey is a newcomer, a bit of a wildcard -- but as John noted, had led the anti-tax group Club for Growth. These are close to the leader, Mitch McConnell. Portman is known is more of a pragmatist.

Rich Galen, I want to go with you. What about the contrarian argument that because these guys are beholden to the leadership, because anti-tax Republicans trust this guy, that if they come up with a deal that has tax reform, not, you know -- broad tax reform that brings Washington more money but lowers rates, he's the kind of guy who could sell that?

GALEN: Well, I was listening to Bob Herbert earlier, who is very smart. But I think he was wrong in this regard. There is -- it's like going into labor negotiations saying these guys are so far apart they'll never settle, they always settle. What I think if you look at these six, you look at the -- I think the secret is Baucus and Portman.

What I think they've done is the leaders have put on the two real true believers and somebody who can actually make a deal, Baucus can make a deal, Portman can make a deal, and then on the House side as well, they'll be one in each -- in each of the -- in each of the groupings that can make a deal.

KING: We don't know the Democrats yet on the House side.

GALEN: Fred Upton is probably the one, and I think that -- and you only need one switcher, assuming you keep to the other side.

KING: Conservatives have raised worries in the past about Fred Upton. When they took the majority, they want to take his chairmanship away. Dave Camp, some people in the Tea Party think ways and means guy might cut a deal.

Here's a guy who's viewed as a very close to the conservative base, had a famous back-and-forth with Obama when he went up to speak to the House Republicans in Baltimore.

Cornell, again, these are not your friends. But do you see guys here who could do a deal?

BELCHER: Look, I got to push back on this because I'm getting tired of this crap, this idea that is equal on both sides. When you look at those Senate picks there, when you look at a guy like Toomey who is ideologically entrenched, there is not one -- Kerry and Baucus and Senator Murray, there's not one of those senators who is ideologically entrenched as a Toomey and who's not movable on all those issues.

When you got a guy like Baucus, quite frankly, some are questioning maybe Medicare is on the table.

But when you look at some of those Republicans and how entrenched they are, guy, it's not equal. And we should stop pretending it's equal. Those guys are entrenched -- doing ideological battle and it's not the same on both sides.


AVLON: I can keep hearing this from Paul Krugman and other folks that the problem here is the center. The problem is not the center. The problem is hyper-partisanship and it's not about moral equivalence here. It's about that both leaders intentionally side-stepped the "gang of six" and that shows bad faith in my opinion. That is


BELCHER: The "gang of six" because they are put out there. But you do us a disservice when you say it's hyper-partisanship on both sides, because it's not hyper-partisanship on both sides. None of those three senators, Democratic senators that you put there are as close to hyper-partisan, it's not equal. It's not equal.


KING: OK. All right. All right.

We're going to watch this play out. This is a -- this is a very consequential, important policy debate -- incredibly important policy debate. We'll see Leader Pelosi's picks. We'll move on from there.

Hopefully, they will surprise us. I understand. Hopefully, they'll surprise us.

Ahead -- gentlemen, thank you.

Ahead here: a movie on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden might be in the theaters just before you vote next year. And the White House is helping the Hollywood filmmakers. A Republican congressman says thumbs down and asks if team Obama is somehow sharing classified secrets. That's next.


KING: There's a big made for Washington dust up tonight about a made for Hollywood real-life drama, the CIA raid that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The Obama administration is cooperating with Oscar winning moviemaker Kathryn Bigelow of "Hurt Locker" fame, on just such a project. And a Republican member of Congress is crying foul.

Congressman Pete King has two big questions -- is the administration giving the filmmaker access to any classified information about Special Operations procedures and tactics? And is the White House cooperation perhaps in exchange for an October 2012 release, just before the next presidential election?

Both the Pentagon and the CIA acknowledge meeting with the bin Laden movie team, but they say it is routine and that those working on this project are getting the same kind of background briefings routinely given when writers and filmmakers are exploring major military and intelligence issues.

And the White House says any suggestion that secrets are being shared or politics play a supporting role here are out of bounds.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The claims are ridiculous. When people, including you in this room, are working on articles, books, documentaries, or movies that involve the president, ask to speak to administration officials, we do our best to accommodate them to make sure the facts are correct. That is hardly a novel approach to the media. We do not discuss classified information. And I would hope that as we face a continued threat from terrorism, the House Committee on Homeland Security would have more important topics to discuss than a movie.


J. KING: So, is Congressman King satisfied? The chairman of the homeland security committee is with us tonight from his district in New York.

What do you say, Mr. Chairman? The White House, the Pentagon, the CIA say this is all routine, nothing to worry about.

REP. PETE KING (R), NEW YORK: You know, Jay Carney had a clever talking point. But it makes no sense at all.

The fact is for the last 90 days ever since the raid, which I give President Obama total credit for. He showed extraordinary courage and strong decision making in authorizing that. So, this is nothing against President Obama's decision.

But it is a real reflection on this administration. For 90 days, we've had sensitive information on top of sensitive information being disclosed to the press. And -- I mean, just so many things, including reports of a Pakistani doctor, reports of a second CIA operation going back to Abbottabad. An article in "The New Yorker" last week which recounted minute by minute the whole operation that was carried out to get bin Laden.


J. KING: Let me jump in on one point. Secretary Gates and a lot of people, including yourself, complained about leaks. There are a lot of complaints about leaks in Washington. That "New Yorker" article you mentioned, though, it quoted military commanders and not anybody inside the White House. It said it was military commanders who had access to the details of the operation.

The specific question about this movie -- yes, there have been a lot of leaks, a lot of people think a lot of them have been reckless and maybe compromised security. But do you have any specific information that this movie team is getting classified information?

P. KING: And that's why I asked for the investigation. I'm asking for the inspectors general in the Department of Defense and CIA in view of the poor track record of this administration to show exactly what precautions and procedures are put in place to make sure that no sensitive information has been given out. And the reason it's more of an issue that it may be otherwise is because the administration has shown itself incapable of keeping sensitive information secret. And if they are disclosing it to newspapers, magazines and the media and to God knows who else, how can we be sure they're not going to disclose it to a Hollywood producer?

And I think it's a cause for real concern and I can tell you I got so much contact from people in the intelligence community today fully supporting what I'm doing and saying that it's overdue.

J. KING: I have your press release announcing and attached the letters to the two inspectors general. And you make this point -- the film is reportedly to be released next October just a month before the November 12th, 2012 elections. By you putting that right here seems to raise the suggestion you think perhaps the White House sees a political gain here.

Do you think this president would sell access essentially for political gain?

P. KING: I would think that people in the administration may think they can make a deal with Hollywood not intending to disclose anything sensitive or classified, but their conduct in the last 90 days shows they're not capable really of deciding what's sensitive and not. And that's why I want the I.G.s to come back and tell us again, what precautions and procedures are being put in place.

And, by the way, I've heard from people in the CIA that when they agreed to this cooperation, they had no idea this was going to be released three weeks before election day. That is totally new news to them. They had no idea about it. Some of them feel as if there's a breach of faith.

J. KING: The White House rebuts that. And I want to read you a statement we received tonight from the filmmakers, including Kathryn Bigelow. Our upcoming film project about the decade-long pursuit of bin Laden has been in the works for many years and integrates the collective efforts of three administrations, including those of Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama. This was an American triumph, both heroic and nonpartisan. And there is no basis to suggest that our film will represent this enormous victory otherwise."

Are you satisfied there that they say this will not be partisan?

P. KING: Well, no one said more than I have. This is a great victory for President Obama. He proved himself to be an outstanding commander in chief in this instance. I've said that.

So, I'm not trying to take any credit away from President Obama at all.

But again, all I'm saying is that if this is supposed to be a nonpartisan or unpartisan movie, people in the CIA have told me they were not told it was coming out three weeks before election. So, to me, this raises more questions.

J. KING: It raises more questions. And so, when you get the answers from the inspectors general, if they can satisfy you that sure we met with these guys, but we meet with everybody. They meet with "The Transformers" people when they come in. They meet documentary makers who are doing, you know, factual nonfictional things.

If they satisfy you we had the meetings, they are routine, no classified information, will we get another press release saying I'm satisfied?

P. KING: Depending on what they tell me. I mean, I've been very bipartisan or nonpartisan as chairman of the homeland security committee. I've given Secretary Napolitano credit when I believe she deserves it. I've given President Obama total credit for what happened on May 1st with the killing of bin Laden.

But I'm saying this administration has shown itself incapable of keeping sensitive information secret over the last 90 days. How can we trust them now when they've done such a poor job over the last 90 days?

J. KING: We will circle back. I hope you get your answer, sir, and I hope you check in with us when you do.

Chairman of homeland security committee, Congressman Peter King -- thanks for your time tonight, sir.

We'll see you tomorrow. "A.C. 360" starts right now.