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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Interview with Representative Dave Camp; New Presidential Poll; Yemen Protests; Where is Baby Lisa?

Aired October 26, 2011 - 19:00   ET

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


ERIN BURNETT, HOST: Thanks, John. We're on the "Front Line" with Bernie Madoff's wife. Ruth Madoff says she and her husband were so distraught by the exposing of the Ponzi scheme they attempted suicide. And then Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on his intimate "bunga bunga" parties, we can't resist giving you all the details and we have some truly lurid information.

And the "Bottom Line" on today's super committee hearing, if they don't cut 1.2 trillion, we could all get hit with a big interest rate hike. Let's go OUTFRONT.

I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight countdown to another downgrade of America? The super committee held a rare public hearing today. They're the group of 12 charged with cutting the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion. If they don't do it, we could end up on a rate to higher interest rates and a lower standard of living. Here are the dates we need to watch.

November 1st, that's when the CBO says the super committee must submit their plan for review. That is five days from now. November 23rd, that is the deadline for the final submission. And then December 23rd, the final deadline when Congress must up or down vote that plan. The committee must come to an agreement, and Congress has to pass it or automatic across the board cuts will be made, half of them coming from our defense budget.

The problem is those cuts don't come until 2013. They are too small to prevent more downgrades. Yes, thanks to Congress, America's economic standing in the world is on the verge of another downgrade. Economist Ethan Harris (ph) at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch says he expects at least one more credit downgrade this fall quote, "when the super committee crashes."

Note he writes when, not if. OUTFRONT spoke with a lot of major investors today, and they all were in the when, not if, camp. None expected the super committee to save America from more downgrades. Today, Republicans on the committee shot down a Democratic plan to cut up to three trillion. But note the word cut is a little bit misleading as you can cut the deficit by either cutting spending or raising taxes.

So who are the people charged with coming up with a plan? The team of 12 politicians, six from each side of the aisle, and one of them is OUTFRONT tonight. Representative Dave Camp, Republican from Michigan, and Representative Camp, really appreciate your joining us. And I'm going to talk about your tax plan out today in just a moment.

But first, given this whole debate this afternoon, the Dems apparently offering a proposal, obviously some details of that have leaked out of cuts up to three trillion; they say half spending cuts, half tax increases. Republicans shot it down. What happened?

REP. DAVE CAMP (R), MICHIGAN: Well Erin, I'm not going to go into all the details that happened within the super committee but let me just say we've had lots of back and forth, lots of discussions. We all think -- I think take our responsibility very seriously to try to come to a solution of at least 1.2 trillion, which is our statutory obligation if you laid out -- as you laid out, before the deadline. And we're continuing to work as hard as we can. But I think these discussions are best left to the meetings, and not to try to characterize them in the press.

BURNETT: Well I would agree with that because I think every time there are characterizations the other side gets angry, so I appreciate that on this show. I think others in the media do as well. But let me just ask you this. Is it fair to say that you are acknowledged that to get a deal done, there will have to be some sort of revenue increase? Is that fair to say?

CAMP: I think it's important that we not try to box people in or out; that we continue to have discussions. Obviously that's something that many people on the committee think is important to do. Obviously I'm going to look at everything the committee does through the prism of, what is the best thing to grow our private sector economy, to create jobs in the U.S., and whatever policy it is I think that's the analysis we need to take. And ultimately, I think you're right, we need to get a package or I think there will be an overarching issue of can America deal with the problems that are facing it? Can we address our long-term debt deficit problems? And I hope we can do that.

BURNETT: Because I heard someone recently say something that was pretty disturbing because it doesn't jive with what I hear from people in the markets, the people who control the interest rates we all pay on our mortgages, credit cards and our whole country pays. Someone had said well look, you know if the super committee doesn't do its job these cuts will happen in a couple of years. They can kick the can down the road.

You know Bill Gross from PIMCO, the biggest investor in U.S. treasury debt in the world said to me today the U.S. is kicking the deficit can down the road (INAUDIBLE) strongest leg one of these days like an NFL field goal kicker, it will lose its job. Do you all on that committee feel that pressure that if you don't get this done we could end up with interest rates jumping sharply at some point?

CAMP: Oh I think we all feel how important this issue is. And frankly the country spent more than it's had for 50 years. This is just not a new thing. But we're at a crisis point and I think the preview is what we're seeing in Greece and Europe and we don't want to go in that direction, because if we don't manage this issue now, as you point out, in many ways it could be an issue that manages us. And the decisions then that would be made under a crisis situation would not be appropriate. And now we can address some of these issues in an orderly way, in a way that isn't going to cause tremendous dislocation or discomfort. And we need to do it now. So I think we all feel very strongly about that.

BURNETT: You also came out with a tax plan. I want to ask you about it. You're saying that you would cut corporate tax rates 25 percent and eliminate loopholes. I believe that that is something President Obama has also agreed with as long as that was revenue neutral. Are you on the same page with him on this?

CAMP: We are saying revenue neutral and he has said positive things about corporate tax reform. This is the first step in putting a concrete proposal out there. This changes -- our rates are the highest in the world. We're the only country basically left with this worldwide system of taxation. We need to do like other countries and go to a territorial system so our worldwide companies doing business around the globe that are American companies aren't double-taxed when they try to bring investment back to the U.S.

We want that investment to come back. We want it to come back to the U.S. to create jobs here, not to be stranded overseas where it's invested there and the jobs are created overseas. So this is the first step to doing that and I think is a big step to getting the entire aspect of corporate and ultimately comprehensive tax reform done in the Congress.

BURNETT: All right, well Representative Camp, thank you very much.

CAMP: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: Interesting idea that a support on both sides of the aisle in part because frankly it gets rid of what a lot of people in America are frustrated about. If there's no loopholes, lobbying to get more loopholes or to take advantage of them wouldn't benefit you. So getting rid of loopholes for a lower rate could make a lot of sense.

Gloria Borger is CNN's chief political analyst. John Avlon is a contributor. Good to have both of you with us. So John, do you think that those 12 members get it?

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I hope so because we really can't kick the can down the road. We need them to succeed. The question is whether they've been set up to fail, because the leadership put forward some of their most partisan members. Now but it was interesting, Congressman Camp, when you asked, would you be open to some revenue increases? Whether that can be achieved through lowering rates and closing loopholes, he didn't say no. It's obvious what needs to be done. Everybody knows it, tax reform, entitlement reform and like Bowles-Simpson said, you can lower rates, close loopholes and erase revenue to pay down the debt. The question is whether they'll have the political will to do that.

BURNETT: And Gloria Borger, what do you think? I mean I have to say it was interesting today that the Democrats came out with a plan, sort of leaked it out, Republicans shot it down. That's exactly the kind of politics we don't want because then they become more entrenched.

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Exactly.

(CROSSTALK)

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Here we go again. You know it's also interesting to me that congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle have started meeting privately with their proxies, if you will, on the super committee. Because people who serve on the super committee know that they can't make a move without their leaders. So they're now starting to caucus, if you will, privately so they can figure out what is in the realm of the doable.

To me, you've got some people on that committee who are key. One person I point to is Rob Portman of Ohio, somebody who's a conservative, who has national political ambition. He's been mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate with anybody who runs and is somebody the Democrats feel that they can talk to. So I think when Senator McConnell appointed him, it was a very important signal that they do want to get something serious done. But again, the tax question is the big question out there. Will they do anything on taxes?

BURNETT: Right. That is a big question. And of course, it's also the rhetoric that you use around it --

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: If you're going to raise revenue, having it not be in class warfare terms would be positive.

AVLON: That would be positive --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

AVLON: -- but it's a question of what's the goal? Is the goal deficit and debt reduction or is tax cut theology going to take the first level? And (INAUDIBLE) the question whether Rob Portman can lead the Senate to some reconciliation. Maybe it's John Kerry. Maybe it's Max Baucus (INAUDIBLE) voted against Bowles-Simpson as did the chairman Jeb Hensarling. So you know we all know what needs to be done. The question is whether that center is going to be able to hold. One person, one vote needs to be able to cross party lines to bring this to a vote in Congress.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: You know there really is no center. There is no center anymore. That's -- you know that's the problem. There is no center --

AVLON: Not on this committee. (CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: On this show we're trying to define it.

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: You get sniped from both sides --

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: All right, John and Gloria are going to be back with us after this break. We're going to be talking about the latest from baby Lisa -- the baby Lisa case and what police think they could find from the interviews going on today, plus surprising information in the latest polls. That's what John and Gloria are going to talk about. Some real shock in terms of who's leading in some crucial early states and from the super committee's 12 members to the 12 Caesars. Silvio Berlusconi is in the news again. We can't resist telling you all the lurid details.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: The number tonight, 37,782, that's how many dollars it costs for an out-of-state student to attend the University of Michigan. That makes it the most expensive public school for out of staters at the College Board Track (ph). Now President Obama is taking on college affordability in Denver today. He was touting plans to help students pay for college. Among the ideas let borrowers cap student loan payments at 10 percent of discretionary income and provide a discount on consolidation loans. But those counting here, student loans are in the discretionary part of the budget, and hence open to cuts right now.

All right, there are some surprising headlines from some big new presidential polls today. CNN's Tom Foreman has the numbers first. Tom, who is out front?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it's time to go "poll vaulting" as it always is around here. Let's go to the first big state -- there you see it -- Mitt Romney 24 percent, Herman Cain 21 percent, Ron Paul 12 percent. Moving along from the next stop up here to New Hampshire, once again, Mitt Romney 40 percent here, different from Iowa. Iowa has a stronger conservative movement, more of a Tea Party movement.

Herman Cain has more support there. Here he is at 13 percent, Ron Paul again at 12 percent. Come down to South Carolina. This is one of these four states that President Obama did not win in the last election, down here, Mitt Romney again 25 percent, Herman Cain close behind at 23 percent, Ron Paul at 12 percent. And then down here to Florida, big whopping battleground state, Mitt Romney again at 30 percent, Herman Cain at 18 percent, Newt Gingrich at nine percent, and Erin, I know that you can tell me right now who's missing from all of this -- Rick Perry --

BURNETT: Could it be the governor -- yes?

FOREMAN: Look at that -- look at that -- 11 percent in South Carolina.

BURNETT: Amazing.

FOREMAN: That's the best he did in these four states. That is not a good thing for them to hear at their camp tonight.

BURNETT: No. Really amazing as you said, tied with Gingrich left, right and center. All right, thank you very much, Tom.

Well John Avlon is back. Gloria Borger is back. Gloria, what do you make of what Tom was just saying on those polls, a few big headlines but certainly not good for Rick Perry.

BORGER: No and I think in the end, Mitt Romney will be very happy that Rick Perry got into this race, at least so far, because he's been the beneficiary of Perry's decline. You know when you dig deeper into these numbers even in a conservative evangelical Republican community in Iowa Mitt Romney is making inroads with evangelical voters. He's doing very, very well with seniors in the state of Florida. He's even doing well with Tea Party voters in the state of Florida and that all comes out of the hide of Rick Perry. So what's not good for Perry is good for Romney.

BURNETT: John, I'm also noticing here that on some of the national polls we've seen you've seen Cain vault to the top. Now granted often within the --

AVLON: Margin of error.

BURNETT: -- margin of error. But here Romney appears to be pretty comfortably on top of Cain in each of these early states.

AVLON: He does. Look, Romney is able to consolidate those voters who aren't part of the tea-evangelist crowd, Tea Partiers, evangelicals. He's making inroads --

BURNETT: Did you just think a new moniker there --

AVLON: The tea-evangelist crowd, yes. There you go. But those polls show a couple of things. First of all, Herman Cain is solidly in second place. He's not in the same tier as Romney, but he's solidified the gains he's made. They've -- those have come out of Rick Perry's hide. The other thing is at least in those first three states look at the winner's circle, Perry's not only not in there. It's actually Romney, Cain, and Ron Paul. Give the man credit where he's due. He's up there in that top three in these most recent set of polls.

BURNETT: Gloria, how serious is Ron Paul as a contender now? I mean his base has always been incredibly loyal and evangelical Paulites (ph) --

BORGER: Right. BURNETT: Right?

BORGER: He's got -- he's got his loyal base. They will always be his loyal base. But he's not going to be in the top tier of candidates. He's got some money, actually, but in the end, I don't think he's going to wind up in that top tier. And I think Herman Cain is actually hurting him to a great degree. Michele Bachmann, by the way, nowhere in these polls --

BURNETT: Yes.

BORGER: And the state of Iowa was supposed to be her big move. She's trying to get more people to work there for her. She's trying to really make her move there. But look, she's absolutely nowhere, single digits. And so I think what you're seeing now is the top tier solidify and Perry hoping that he can get back into it.

BURNETT: John, what about the fact though that so many people are still undecided or say all right this is my choice now, but I'm completely open to changing?

AVLON: That's the most significant thing in these CNN polls of battleground states is that around 50 percent of voters say that they haven't made up their mind, they're open to making a switch. That shows just how fluid this field is the high level of dissatisfaction with the candidates and that a lot more action can occur. This is far from over.

BURNETT: All right --

BORGER: You know I think these Tea Party candidates are just auditioning people. And they change from sort of week to week who they like. And I don't think they've really settled. And in the meantime, they have to sort of figure out at some point whether they can live with Mitt Romney or not. That's a big decision.

BURNETT: It's back to getting in bed with Mitt Romney. All right --

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Thanks to both of you. All right and now a man obsessed with Michael Jackson. Yes. He collected nearly $2 million of Jackson memorabilia, including this crystal-covered glove. Now the United States is trying to seize that glove, along with $71 million in other assets from an African playboy. DOJ is trying to get his $30 million home in Malibu -- look at it there -- a Gulf Stream jet he owns worth $38.5 million, and a 2011 Ferrari worth 500,000.

Why? Well the U.S. says that Nagoya (ph), the son of the ruler of Equatorial Guinea, took the money from the country's oil and timber deals and then laundered it into the U.S. There he is.

Lanny Breuer is the U.S. assistant attorney general of the criminal division and he told OUTFRONT today that quote "this case is a crowning example that the U.S. will not support this type of theft by the world's corrupt leaders. It's a message they can't steal from their own people and spend their ill-gotten gains here in the U.S."

Taking the moral high ground sure sounds good. The thing is the U.S. is part of how Nagoya (ph) got his money in the first place. We looked into it. Equatorial Guinea is Africa's third largest oil producer. Nearly 100 percent of its trade comes from selling oil. But who is the biggest trading partner for this corrupt leadership? Yes, the United States of America. It's something that got us thinking, America and China are competing in this great race in Africa to get access to increasingly rare commodities like oil, copper and cobalt.

When I was in the Congo I met a regional governor who used some of the money he got in public transparent deals from American companies to build a road to his weekend house and he proudly bragged to me about driving his brand new Ferrari, the only one in the DRC (ph), on his new road to his new house. The truth is that while America may dislike corrupt regimes, it will still do business with them if they have something the U.S. needs and that is still the reality despite the move to depose Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

All right OUTFRONT next, the shocking confession made by Bernie Madoff's wife, Ruth, how close they came to suicide. And then flu shots, a new study says they may not work for you, too bad because it's flu season. And a story we cannot resist and we adore. The lurid details about Silvio Berlusconi's sex parties.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: And now a story we cannot resist. This is a story about a guy who wants to dance and the conservative authority that won't let him. But this is not a story about "Footloose" or any of the other dancing movies so popular lately. No, this is a story about Silvio Berlusconi. Yes that's the Italian prime minister; he's in the news again insisting that his infamous "bunga bunga" parties are innocent get-togethers and not as widely reported the lurid sexual escapades of Italian emperors past.

Because even though Berlusconi has been accused of fraternizing with an underage girl and prostitutes dressed as nuns at his parties, that's amateur hour compared to what Emperor Tiberius did on page 127 in Suetonius' "Twelve Caesars". That is the most disgusting thing I have ever read. As for Berlusconi, he defends his antics. He says quote "there was no sacrilegious behavior at my house. When a guest said are we going to have some bunga bunga after dinner, they were just talking about dancing."

The craziest part this isn't even his biggest problem right now. Berlusconi faces constant demands for his resignation as Italy's economy gets worse and worse and members of his parliament got in a fist fight today -- yes that is a picture from today. He certainly is not doing Italy any favors right now. But at least all of this craziness gives us an excuse to play a clip from 1984 movie "Footloose".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's dance!

(MUSIC/SONG)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: We couldn't resist.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: Still OUTRONT the "OutFront 5", school swindle, the pressure to succeed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've gone through bouts of depression just because you feel so swamped.

BURNETT: Motivated by money?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think Dr. Murray's greedy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do I think?

BURNETT: Conrad Murray's team pleads his case. Unveiled --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a remarkable sign of defiance in a deeply conservative Islamic culture.

BURNETT: OUTFRONT in the second half.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: We start our second half of the show with stories we care about. We focus on our own reporting, do the work and find the OUTFRONT 5.

And number one tonight, as we told you earlier, Mitt Romney is leading new CNN polls in four primary states. Our polls show Romney has a commanding lead in New Hampshire and Florida, tied basically the margin of error with Herman Cain in Iowa and South Carolina.

John Avlon tells us Romney is pulling in support from a key group tea-vangelists. I thought that was a pretty neat name for Tea Party members and evangelists.

All right. Number two, Hurricane Rina losing some of its power as it gets closer to the Mexican coast. From space, Rina still looks powerful. It has dropped, though, to a category 1 with wind speeds of 85 miles an hour.

According to the CNN severe weather team, the Yucatan Peninsula will get hit with Rina's rain and wind tomorrow. But that's a far cry from the category 3 it was yesterday.

Number three: a study released today claims the flu shot is only effective in 59 percent of healthy adults. Previous studies have found effectiveness to be as high as 90 percent. OUTFRONT spoke with the president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases who dismissed the study, saying the vaccine, while not perfect, is still good.

Our medical team adds the study shows better vaccines are needed. Researchers have been working on them for the past five years. Another reason I'm not getting the flu shot.

Number four: Freddie Mac CEO Ed Haldeman will resign in the coming year according to the regulator of the mortgage company. Housing expert Ken Rosen told OUTFRONT the resignation has nothing to do with the future of Freddie. Haldeman became CEO in August 2009, after the government took control of Freddie and Fannie.

Well, it has been 82 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back? We're going to talk about that in a moment with the super committee.

But now, a shocking development in the Bernie Madoff saga today. New revelations by Ruth Madoff, wife of the disgraced Ponzi schemer, that she and Bernie tried to take their own lives in a Christmas eve pact to end their misery. Ruth Madoff tells CBS' "60 Minutes," quote, "We decided to kill ourselves because it was so horrendous what was happening. We had terrible phone calls. Hate mail, just beyond everything."

With me here is Brian Ross, author of "The Madoff Chronicles: Inside the Secret World of Bernie and Ruth"; and Nick Casale who's supervised Madoff's house arrest and was the last person to leave that Madoff apartment that Christmas Eve.

Thanks to both of you for being with us. I really appreciate it.

And, Brian, let me start with you. So, you knew them well, you obviously wrote this book and spent a lot of time. Does this surprise you at all?

BRIAN ROSS, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORR., ABC NEWS: It does surprise me because I think Bernie Madoff was an unlikely suicide candidate. He showed no remorse. In fact, he showed scorn for people who were his victims and they committed suicide. He thought very little of them, thought they were weak.

Ruth was a different story. She was more distraught, I think, in many ways than Bernie was and there was always concern about her. This revelation by Ruth Madoff to "60 Minutes" comes, of course, after her son Mark last year killed himself.

BURNETT: Terrible, yes.

ROSS: And Mark's wife was on "20/20" on ABC news this last Friday essentially saying Ruth abandoned Mark and put some of the blame on Mark's suicide on Ruth. So there's a very ugly family tragedy playing out here. BURNETT: It is. It is -- tragedy is the right word. I mean, what do you think happened? I mean, you were the last one to see them that night.

NICK CASALE, CASALE ASSOCIATES: I can tell you what I saw that night. And there was nothing different that night than there had been the nights prior. I arrived there maybe about 4:00, left about 7:00, give or take a few minutes. And they were in the kitchen like they always were, discussing the day's events. There was nothing that demonstrated to me that they were, you know, covertly planning a suicide.

BURNETT: And their mood -- I mean, I would imagine just in that whole few weeks period between when the revelations came of this whole scheme, and then now this event that supposedly happened -- was it in any way normal? I mean, business, life as normal?

CASALE: You know, it was indifferent. I guess a degree of indifference turns out to be the normalcy of the period.

BURNETT: I guess that's a fair point. I mean, Brian --

ROSS: This was just two weeks, Erin, after he was exposed as a scammer, with billions of dollars lost. With his own sons being disgusted at what their father had admitted to them and not speaking to them. They actually went to the FBI. He asked them to give him a week to get prepared, they went that day. And he was arrested the next day, and the sons did not speak to him again, had not.

BURNETT: And, Nick, what kind of people were they? You knew them for a long time before this.

CASALE: Well, no, I was brought in to submit the modification agreement which won their freedom by their legal team, Ira Sorkin and Dan Horwitz. In that period of time getting to know them, discussing strategy and defense, originally them pleading guilty, his mental state, Ruth Madoff was confused, I would say. And Bernard Madoff at the very least was stoic, his approach to what was going on.

But what was more important was in the instant, I didn't see anything that was a telltale sign that they were looking to or planned to commit any act that night.

BURNETT: What did she have to gain? If it's a stretch or an exaggeration, is it a bid for sympathy? I mean, it seems this woman has been through so much.

ROSS: She's been through a lot. Her sister was wiped out by her husband's scam. But she was estranged from her remaining son Andrew and they're both appearing on CBS "60 Minutes" this Sunday. I think this is an attempt for her to get back with Andrew and essentially put Bernie aside finally.

When she had a choice between sticking with her husband or with her two sons, she chose her husband. Now, she seems to be reversing that. There have been reports she might get a divorce from Bernie. I think she's finally through with Bernie.

They've been married now almost 52 years, coming up on 53 years. They were high school sweethearts here in the Queens area of New York. And she stuck with him. And in the view of Mark's widow, that led in part to Mark's suicide.

So this is a woman who's been through a lot. And whether or not they try to kill themselves -- I mean, clearly, she's somebody who suffered deeply for what her husband did. She's always denied knowing anything about the scheme.

BURNETT: Right.

ROSS: Although early on, she was the bookkeeper for Bernie when he started working on a card table in the apartment there.

BURNETT: Well, thanks to both of you very much. Appreciate your coming in, Brian and Nick. And, of course, Brian, as we said, wrote the definitive book about Ruth and Bernie.

Well, as we told you earlier in the show, the clock is ticking on another possible downgrade for America. Americans do not think their elected leaders will step up and stop it. The latest poll shows -- let's go with the 10 percent, because that is a little bit more indicative.

Ten percent of Americans trust their government to do the right then, 89 percent do not. I don't know about the other 1 percent.

Eighty-four percent of Americans also disapprove of Congress.

But is this enough pressure on our elected leaders to get the job done?

Nancy Pfotenhauer is a former adviser to John McCain. Jamal Simmons is a Democratic strategist.

Appreciate both of you being with us.

Jamal, I want to start with you because I have an e-mail here from an aide to a Democratic member of the super committee saying, they did not leak the deal today. I'm referring of course to the leak that came of details of a Democratic plan to cut up to $3 trillion, which was immediately shot down by Republicans and threw a big bomb in the middle of this whole goal to get this done.

What's going on here with the leaks, Jamal, do you think?

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, clearly, one side or the other is positioning against each other. And this notion that -- what's interesting to me is this notion that you were going to get all these Democrats in this committee and none of them would have voted for something like Medicare, Medicaid cuts. It looks like now those cuts are on the table as well as some tax increases.

So, you've seen some of these Democrats people thought were maybe too liberal to go along with something like that, you've seen them maybe move over a little bit and be willing. So, we'll see what the Republicans are going to do now. But this certainly does seem like there's some jockeying going on in the public square to see who's going to take the blame for this thing.

BURNETT: Nancy, do you think they're going to get a deal done?

NANCY PFOTENHAUER, FORMER ADVISER TO JOHN MCCAIN: I don't know. Given what they've come out with today, if this is it, the Republicans would be better to take automatic spending cuts than something like this. I mean, it's bad politics and it's worse policy.

We're talking about $1 trillion plus in tax increases with an economy in the shape we're in, it's like -- if you went to someone who is floundering in the water, grabbed them by both shoulders and then pushed their head down and held them under. It is absolutely lousy economic policy. And I don't think it's good politics.

BURNETT: Here's what -- hold on for one second, Jamal, because I want to give you a chance to respond. But let me just give you this first.

I talked to the Republican Dave Camp, super committee member, at the top of the program. And I asked if it was fair to say that a deal would have to have some sort of revenue increase. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DAVE CAMP (R), MICHIGAN: I think it's important that we not try to box people in or out, that we continue to have discussions. Obviously, that's something that many people in the committee think is important to do. Obviously, I'm going to look at everything the committee does through the prism of, what is the best thing to grow our private sector committee, to create jobs in the U.S. And whatever policy it is, I think that's the analysis we need to take.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Jamal, he did not take tax increases off the table.

SIMMONS: He didn't. And I think that's very encouraging, because in order to get this deal done -- listen, everybody in America is going to take a hit in order to deal with this deficit.

And, you know, Nancy just said it's bad to put taxes on business. Well, one can make the argument that it's bad to cut government spending in a recession because you're taking money out of the economy. It's bad to take money away from Social Security recipients because it's taking money out of the economy.

There's all things that are going to have to happen to get this deal done. And I think we've all got -- at least certainly the committee members have got to be willing to look at it all in totality and not start crossing things off the list.

BURNETT: All right. Nancy, Jamal, thanks to both. We appreciate your time.

PFOTENHAUER: Thanks.

BURNETT: And now, a quick check with Anderson Cooper with a look at what's ahead on "A.C. 360" -- Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN'S "A.C. 360": Erin, we're keeping them honest tonight on "360."

A closer look tonight at the verbal sparring and finger-pointing in Washington and on the campaign trail, even while poll after poll shows Americans are fed up with the political posturing and just want elected officials to get back to work. We're keeping them honest.

And a "360" follow up: ungodly discipline. We report on the deaths of two adopted kids whose parents followed Michael and Debi Pearl, authors of a Christian fundamentalist parenting died that preaches a religious duty to spank children. But they say the book does not advocate abuse. We're going to talk to Michael Pearl directly about that. He joins us tonight.

Those stories and tonight's "Ridiculist" at the top of the hour -- Erin.

BURNETT: Anderson, thank you.

And still OUFRONT: Students cheating on the SAT. Are we pushing our children too hard in this country?

And then protests in Yemen -- thousands of women burning their veils.

And where's baby Lisa? New developments tonight from Kansas City.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: We do this at the same time every night. Our "Outer Circle," where we reach out to sources around the world.

And tonight to Turkey, where rescuers pulled a teenager and a teacher from collapsed buildings today. The death toll is still rising and survivors with no place to live are waiting for aid.

Diana Magnay is in Turkey.

Diana, how are people managing there?

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, I'm in Guvecli, one of the villages hardest-hit by the earthquake. And we'll just pan round and show you the destruction. Fifteen people lost their lives here, 80 percent of the buildings are completely destroyed, and the other 20 percent are no longer inhabitable.

So, people are having to live in tents like this. Some of them, 20 people to a tent. They say aid is coming in dribs and drabs, but it's not coming fast enough.

And bear in mind, a long, hard winter is setting in and they don't expect to get even temporary housing until the spring -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Diana.

And now to Thailand where seven major highways have been shut down due to the country's severe flooding. Residents told to flee, rising waters have closed Bangkok's airport. What's the effect of the floods on the entire transportation system?

Sara Sidner is there -- Sara.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, the capital Bangkok is facing some serious transportation issues. The domestic airport, for example, has been shut down and we saw why. Floodwaters have crept onto the runway. And then, of course, you have the freeways and the roads -- many of the roads inundated by water. Some of the freeways look more like rivers better for boats than for vehicles.

But most of the capital is still dry. But officials are warning tourists and residents alike to prepare for the worst because the high tide has not yet made it here -- Erin.

BURNETT: Sara, thank you.

And now to Yemen. Thousands of -- this is an amazing story -- thousands of women protesting President Ali Abdullah Saleh's crackdown on anti-government demonstrations. The way they're doing it is by burning their veils.

Mohammed Jamjoom is in Abu Dhabi.

And, Mohammed, how significant is this?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, this is an extremely significant development. While we've seen more and more women anti- government demonstrators flooding the streets of Yemeni cities the past few months, this is a remarkable sign of defiance in a deeply conservative Islamic culture.

According to some of the women protesters today, they say this is the first time this has been done in the nine-month-long uprising. They say it was done for symbolic value. One: to call for help from the international community. And two: to ask Yemeni tribes for their support and for their protection, especially from government crackdowns targeting peaceful anti-government demonstrators, specifically women and children -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Mohammed. Women in Yemen, as I experienced, certainly all were veiled.

An emotional day of testimony at the Michael Jackson death trial. Conrad Murray's former patients jumped to his defense. The doctor accused of causing the pop star's death through his reckless, even incompetent, care, was brought to tears by the heartfelt support of the five patients who stood by him today.

Here's just a sample of what they said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That man sitting there is the best doctor I've ever seen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have never had a doctor that was more caring.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've known him, I know him, I knew his love, compassion, his feelings for his patients. You can ask every one of them.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

BURNETT: All five of these character witnesses testified that without Conrad Murray, they wouldn't be alive today. But after 17 days of hearing how Jackson died under Murray's care, will the jury be swayed?

Ted Rowlands, as you all know, following the case closely, still in L.A. monitoring. And, Ted, how did the jury respond to that testimony?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think absolutely, this testimony did resonate with this jury because they were all real people, all five people speaking very honestly. I think it was very, very effective.

BURNETT: And Jackson family members, Janet, La Toya were there today, Randy as well. How did they react?

ROWLANDS: They were engaged as well, especially with the final witness, 82-year-old Ruby Moseley (ph). In fact, Randy Jackson, she was getting off the stand, whispered over to Janet, "She's sweet." And they were smiling throughout her testimony as well. She really was a ray of sunshine in that courtroom today.

BURNETT: Oh, it's interesting they did that.

Prosecutors have accused Murray of abandoning his patients in Las Vegas and Houston because he was being paid $150,000 a month by Michael Jackson. What did his patients have to say about that? Doesn't seem they felt that way.

ROWLANDS: Oh, they told the polar opposite story. In fact, they talked about his practice in Houston, which is an underserved community there. They say when you go to see Dr. Murray, he treats you first then asks if you have insurance, rather than vice versa, in those medical facilities.

So, they actually told the polar opposite story.

BURNETT: And what about the medical defense -- medical experts coming on the defense? Anesthesiologist tomorrow. What do you think you'll hear?

ROWLANDS: Well, he's the defense case. I mean, if he comes through and hits a home run, they've got a chance here, basically. He's going to tell the jury a different version of the science that would enable a possibility that Michael Jackson accidentally killed.

BURNETT: All right. Ted, thanks and good to see you.

And we also have a new twist tonight in the search for the 11- month-old baby Lisa Irwin. Investigators turning to the baby's half brothers now for fresh clues in her disappearance. These boys are age 8 and 6, and they were in the Missouri home the night their baby sister was missing.

Now, that was more than three weeks ago. It is also the last time investigators spoke with the boys. Now, Kansas City police say the brothers will be re-interviewed this Friday. Why now?

Jim Spellman is in Kansas City for us tonight and he joins us.

Jim, what triggered this interview? I mean, why this Friday? What do they think the boys can add?

JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's been this really growing divide between investigators here, Erin, and the family. The mom and dad -- they still refuse to have an unfettered interview where they can be asked anything by the investigators. So, that's still on hold.

The boys are crucial because we know that that night that Deborah Bradley, the mother of baby Lisa, admits that she was drinking and maybe even blacked out. So, those two boys in the house will be crucial. They tell us -- the mom tells us through the attorney tonight that they've had to balance what they say is the well-being of the children, the trauma of being interviewed, versus the needs of the investigation. They feel comfortable now with these new circumstances of going forward with this interview on Friday.

BURNETT: And they want DNA samples from the brothers as well. Do you know why they think that will be useful at this point?

SPELLMAN: They conducted a 17-hour search here last week, Erin, and they took DNA all over the house. They need to eliminate as much of that DNA as they can. So, they hope they get the boys' DNA, they'd be able to rule out some of the DNA and try to get closer to any DNA that might have been from an intruder.

BURNETT: All right. Jim, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Jim Spellman, as you said, reporting from outside the Irwin home in Missouri tonight.

Well, still OUTFRONT: six Long Island students busted for having another student take their SATs.

Is there anything that can excuse this? What punishment should be laid out? Did the pressure make them do it? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: A security firm run by the former FBI director Louis Freeh has been hired to review security procedures for standardized testing procedures.

Now, the measure was put in place because of a cheating scandal at a Long Island high school where at least six students paid a former student to take the SAT in their place.

Now, according to the Center for Academic Integrity, this is a really stunning number. Sixty-eight percent of college kids admit to cheating either on tests or on written assignments.

The documentary "Race to Nowhere" looks at the pressure students have placed on them to achieve.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "RACE TO NOWHERE")

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our students are pressured to perform. They're not necessarily pressured to learn deeply and conceptually.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Vicki Abeles is the producer and co-director of "Race to Nowhere."

Vicki, thanks for being with us.

Those statistics are pretty startling. Have we always been a nation of cheaters and now we're picking it up in the polls?

VICKI ABELES, PRODUCER, "RACE TO NOWHERE": No, I don't think so. I mean, if you look back in the 1940s, those numbers were 20 percent. And today, we have college students at rates of 65 percent to 98 percent who admit to cheating in high school. So, I think the trend is really scary and unfortunate.

BURNETT: And why do you think it's happening? I mean, is it as simple as there's so much pressure on kids to get into college and that's why they're doing it? Or is it something more than that?

ABELES: Well, you know what? I think it's a sad commentary on our culture, on the one hand, and on the other hand, I think that we, in education, there's so much competition and emphasis is on the test scores and the grades. And so, in that way, we influence behavior.

We're also raising a generation that is afraid of failure and they don't know how to deal with failures.

BURNETT: All right. So, what is -- you've spent a lot of time -- and I know that your documentary is shown at schools around the country.

How do we deal with this problem? If kids cheat, how should we punish them?

ABELES: All right. I think absolutely, we do need to look at the consequences of cheating and then importantly we as adults in this culture need to look at our own behavior. I think our kids look to us and they see us bending the rules not only on Wall Street, what do we expect them to do?

So, I think absolutely, we want to be looking at what are the consequences for cheating and then I think that we need to look at the measures and the stakes that we've put on these tests, and re-evaluate that. We want to be developing whole children, not only a nation of good test takers.

BURNETT: Well, that's true. I was a terrible test taker. I agree with you on that.

I was talking to someone today and saying that you were coming on. They were saying, well, here's the problem. We're in a situation where you have little kids who are under the age of five and they go to play games and everybody has got to be a winner, right? They all get a trophy.

And someone said, well, you know, when my kid found out all the other kids got a trophy, he threw it away and said, well, I don't care. Everybody is used to being a winner that might from a very young age contribute to a situation we're in right now, where cheating is right.

ABELES: I'm not so sure about that. I do know that was a trend a few years ago. I think we're trying to move away from that as a culture.

You know, I might point to the fact that we're asking young people to do things that are developmentally out of sync from where they are. So, when your 5 year old comes home from school with a reading log to complete, something they can't do on their own and you're the parent complete that just in an effort to get it done and allow them to go to bed, I think in that way, we're teaching them from a very young age that you do what it takes to jump through the hoops.

So, I think that's a bigger problem.

BURNETT: All right. So, in terms of punishment, we've heard some of this -- you know, is this something where -- this could stick with you forever, right? So, how do you learn the lesson where the kid should obviously if a school found out, they're not going to be getting into that school, right? I mean, this is something that could taint you for the rest of your life.

ABELES: Well, I'm not convinced that it needs to taint you for the rest of your life. I absolutely think there needs to be a consequence and this kind of behavior needs to be reported to the schools. But, again, I think as a culture, as a society, we need to rethink the emphasis that we're placing on these high stakes tests.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. We really appreciate your taking the time, Vicki. It's amazing.

To all of you viewers, let us know what you think about this issue. You know, when you think about people admitting to cheating on tests, 39 percent of undergraduates, 62 percent admit to cheating on written assignments, 68 percent cheating on test. What do you think you should be done? What is the right punishment?

Let us know OutFrontCNN is our Facebook, and, of course, on Twitter, as we continue to follow this issue. Thanks so much to all of you for watching.

"ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts right now.