Tuesday’s American Morning audience continued question and debate regarding the murder of Dr. Tiller and the issues surrounding abortion.
President Obama is hoping his visit to the Middle East this week will begin to "change the conversation" between the U.S and the Muslim world. He'll be trying to win over the hearts and minds of millions who are still very suspicious of America's motives. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright joined us to talk about the challenges facing the president.
Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is on Capitol Hill today meeting privately with Senate leaders who could decide her fate. Meantime, the current Supreme Court justices will be judging Sonia Sotomayor in a different way when they consider her ruling in a race discrimination case.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/02/intv.steele.art.jpg caption="RNC Chairman Michael Steele blasts President Obama's GM plans as 'government intrusion.'"]
To date, General Motors and Chrysler have been given some $85 billion in taxpayers’ money and now they have to explain to Congress how they’re going to use it and eventually pay it back. Meantime, President Obama is defending the move by the federal government to step in and try to save the auto industry.
“In the midst of a deep recession and financial crisis, the collapse of these companies would have been devastating for countless Americans and done enormous damage to our economy beyond the auto industry.”
The GOP is now firing back. They have a web ad out dubbed “GM: Government Motors” and called President Obama “America's new CEO.” Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele spoke to Kiran Chetry on CNN’s “American Morning” Tuesday.
Kiran Chetry: President Obama says he has no interest in actually running General Motors, but U.S. taxpayers now hold a 60% stake in the company. You called it a “government grab of a private company and another handout for the union cronies…” If not the president's plan, what do you think we should have done when it comes to the auto industry?
Michael Steele: I think you let happen what has happened with major corporations like GM before. They go into the market, they work out their situation in the market, they go through bankruptcy. Look. We spent $20 billion to keep them from going into bankruptcy, so I'm sitting here now and asking myself, why did we spend $20 billion if that’s ultimately where they were going to end up. Everyone stood in the doorstep…preventing GM from declaring bankruptcy six, eight, ten months ago. And now this is where we are.
So the reality for me was this is very short sighted planning by the administration, that clearly, you know, the ultimate goal was bankruptcy. So why are we doing it now as opposed to earlier in the process? Let it work itself through. Get rid of the bad assets, streamline the product, get a competitive business plan in place and go back into the marketplace very much like Harley Davidson did and very much like Chrysler did 20 years ago. And make yourself a competitive force. But this government intrusion to me is just offensive to the market.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/02/intv.young.art.jpg caption="GM CFO Ray Young tells CNN's Kiran Chetry that General Motors will learn from their mistakes."]
GM’s bankruptcy is viewed by many as a failure of historic proportions. GM’s chief financial officer says he views it as a once in a lifetime opportunity. GM CFO Ray Young spoke to Kiran Chetry on CNN’s “American Morning” Tuesday.
Kiran Chetry: Under the restructuring plan, the government will give the company $30 billion additional in taxpayer money, amounting to $50 billion so far. It's the largest amount, besides AIG, dolled out by the government. In a nutshell, can you explain what went so wrong for General Motors?
Ray Young: Kiran, we admit there have been errors in the past that we’ve made at General Motors. We’ve had a lot of extra excess costs, excess capacity over the years. We’ve got…defined benefit obligations that have really hurt us in the balance sheet. But going forward, Kiran, we're going to learn from our mistakes. And we’ve been given a once in a lifetime opportunity to restructure the balance sheet, to shed a lot of our extra capacity, extra costs, and move forward with a profitable new General Motors that’s going to be smaller but more focused with four core brands and with a cost structure that is very, very efficient.
Chetry: Can you explain to the American public how you're going to do that? How you're going to get back on track. Do you plan on being able to eventually return the billions in taxpayer money?
Young: Well clearly, with four core brands, we’re going to be very focused in terms of our product development and our marketing dollars. We're going to shed our extra capacity or our excess capacity in order to bring down the break-even level of our cost structure. But we're going to be very much focused as a product and customer oriented company…a lot of investments in this area, in terms of advanced technologies. Our intent is to return this investment by the American taxpayers both in terms of the loan they’re providing to us as well as the shares that the American public will initially own in the new General Motors.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/02/art.tiller.kake.jpg caption="Dr. George Tiller was one of the few U.S. physicians who performed late-term abortions."]
From CNN's Carol Costello and Bob Ruff
Killing doctors who perform legal abortions is rare in this country—but it happened again over the weekend.
Dr. George Tiller, who performed late-term abortions at his Wichita, Kansas clinic, was shot and killed while serving as an usher at his church Sunday morning. Tiller was the fourth abortion doctor killed.
Dr. Barnett Slepian was killed by a sniper in his Buffalo Amherst, NY home in 1998.
In 1994 Dr. John Britton was murdered while sitting in a car in Pensacola, Florida.
The first killing of an abortion doctor happened in 1993, also in Pensacola. David Gunn was shot while abortion opponents protested outside his clinic.
You’ll notice that it has been more than a decade since the last such murder, and some speculate there’s a reason for that.
UC Berkeley professor Cynthia Gorney, author of “Articles of Faith: A Frontline History of the Abortion Wars”, says anti-abortion leaders realized years ago that such killings do not help their cause of eliminating all abortions in this country—and so they’ve discouraged it. The problem with high profile killings, Gorney told CNN’s Carol Costello, “is that you do stir up a great deal of conversation, and for them it’s almost all negative, because you’re going to get a huge backlash against right to life. You’re going to get a lot of people now saying, ‘see those people are all crazy.’”
Randall Terry, the outspoken founder of “Operation Rescue,” an anti-abortion pro-life group, agrees that such extreme violence puts pressure on their pro-life movement. He told reporters Monday that “President Obama, the pro-abortion groups, their friends on Capitol Hill are going to try to browbeat the pro-life movement into surrendering.”
But Terry has no qualms about verbally assaulting Dr. Tiller, even in the wake of his death. “George Tiller was a mass murderer,” says Terry, “he reaped what he sowed.”