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Emergency Budget Meeting Over; Shutdown Showdown; Libyan Opposition Fighters Retreat; Parent University in Philadelphia

Aired April 7, 2011 - 23:00   ET



Tonight breaking news, with people across the country and in war zones around the world getting ready to go without paychecks or tax refunds, more emergency White House negotiations, aimed at heading off a government shutdown have just come and gone and there is no deal.

Just moments ago President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker John Boehner and others wrapped up talks for the night and President Obama -- President Obama spoke briefly.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to report again to the American people that we made some additional progress this evening. I think the staffs of both the House and the Senate, as well as the White House staff, have been working very hard to try to narrow the differences.

We made some progress today. Those differences have been narrowed, and so once again the staff is going to be working tonight around the clock in order to see if we can finally close a deal. But there's still a few issues that are outstanding. They are difficult issues, they're important to both sides. And so I'm not yet prepared to express wild optimism. But I think we are further along today than we were yesterday.


COOPER: He said he wants to be able to have good news to report in the morning. For now, no deal, no agreement on legislation to fund the government through fiscal 2011.

Now the two sides still divided on additions to the bill, so- called policy writers, cutting funding for Planned Parenthood and several other organizations that conservatives object to.

Before the talks tonight, another day of bickering on the House floor today.


REP. ERIC CANTOR (R), MAJORITY LEADER: We are trying to do the business of the American people.

REP. STENY HOYER (D), MINORITY WHIP: We never shut down the government when we had the majority and President Bush was in power.


COOPER: Well, a lot of rhetoric today, no results. And keeping them honest, get this, no matter what happens, even if the government shuts down, even if the parks shut down, even if the soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen don't get paid, guess who does? The folks on Capitol Hill.

These guys, these guys who got us into this mess and can't get their act together, they will still be getting paid. Just this morning, that fact was news to House Speaker John Boehner. "If there is a government shutdown," he said. "Not only will Congress not be paid, but federal employees will not be paid."

In fact, only the second part is true. Yet when the interviewer pointed out, Mr. Boehner first disputed the fact. A moment later, he said that well, whatever the case may be, lawmakers shouldn't get paid.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: They shouldn't be getting paid, just like federal employees shouldn't be getting paid.


COOPER: Well, shouldn't be, but they are getting paid. They wouldn't be if the House passed had a version of this Senate bill S388 titled "A bill to prohibit Members of Congress and the President form receiving pay during government shutdowns."

Kind of spells it out. But the House didn't in part because of a real Catch 22. The House legislation to stop paying lawmakers in case of government shutdown is bundled into the bill that if it doesn't pass would lead to a government shutdown. Catch 22.

So they'll get paid, but 800,000 federal workers won't. The troops won't. Many people won't get their tax refund checks. Small business loans won't go out. National parks will close and a whole lot more.

Today, President Obama talked about Sergeant Christopher Hartune who'd be losing a paycheck. Well, it turns out his wife is a federal worker, so they'd go from two paychecks to none. Yet a lot of lawmakers who by the way are making $174,000 a year are downplaying the impact of a shutdown.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we need a jolt, if we need the government shutdown for a few days for us to really get serious, I think the American people are with that.

REP. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: If liberals would rather play political games and shut down the government instead of making a small down payment on fiscal discipline and reform, I say shut it down.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is that a bad scenario?

REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: If essential services keep going, no. It wouldn't be.

REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: I don't think it would hurt one bit. You know if an individual can't pay their rent on time, they might ask their landholder to say look, I'll be there next week. They adjust. The owner and the renter adjust. And this is the way the government should adjust. They should -- if they can't pay their bills, wait.


COOPER: Not sure all landlords are quite so nice. Again none of those -- these lawmakers will have to tell the landlord or the bank or the phone company to wait, they'll be getting paid. Some have said they'll give their paychecks to charity. Others, though, say they need the money.


REP. LINDA SANCHEZ (D), CALIFORNIA: It's very difficult for me to say, hey, I can give up my paycheck because the reality is I have financial obligations that I have to meet on a month-to-month basis that doesn't make it possible for me.


COOPER: Democrat Linda Sanchez of California. She actually went on record on this. So far no one else, Democrat or Republican, to the best of our knowledge, has done the same.

Joining us now, Dana Bash on Capitol Hill, senior political analyst David Gergen and Dan Lothian at the White House.

Dan Lothian, do we know what happened inside the White House tonight at that meeting?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We're still trying to get more details about what exactly happened inside that meeting tonight. It lasted a little less than an hour, which is kind of interesting because the other meetings that they've had here at the White House have gone longer than that.

COOPER: So Dan, this wasn't --

LOTHIAN: But the president said --

COOPER: This wasn't one of those meetings where they're like, we're going to lock the doors, we're going to order in, you know, Chinese takeout and we're going to roll up our sleeves and spend all night doing this. This was, they met for an hour and then they left.

LOTHIAN: No. Right, exactly. And now the real work, I guess, if you will, begins because as the president pointed out, both the White House teams and the Hill teams will be working late into the night to try to hammer out some kind of an agreement.

As the president said, he's not ready to, you know, call this any kind of wild optimism coming out of this meeting, but he does believe that they've made additional progress, they've been able to narrow some of the differences. But the key will be what these teams are able to negotiate over the evening.

And as the president himself pointed out, the mechanism to shut down the government is already in place and moving forward. And so he wants to hear back --

COOPER: Right.

LOTHIAN: -- early in the morning.

One other thing, you know, when the president, after he wrapped up his remarks here, I asked him if, you know, what some of those sticking points were. He just walked out of the room. But I think that's crucial. It's not clear exactly what those final points are now that they've been able to narrow those differences.

COOPER: Well, Dana, it seems like, and because we heard from the president last night saying that in terms of the money, that they're relatively close together. It seems like the sticking points -- at least according to a lot of Democrats -- are these riders that Republicans have put on.

Explain what some of these riders are about. Because I think it's going to surprise a lot of people, it's not necessarily about, you know, money, it's about some more social issues.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Social and economic issues -- excuse me -- you're right. Let me just give you two examples, Anderson, of what we're talking about.

Overall, the House bill actually have had about 40 to 50 policy riders. But there are some that are more controversial than others. Again, two examples. First of all, it says that the EPA cannot regulate greenhouse gases. Now Republicans say that that's something that they feel is important because they said doing this hurts jobs. That's their argument.

Democrats of course say no, they're just trying to go ahead and deal with global warming in a way that really hurts the environment.

Then the issue of abortion. And this specifically is a plan that the House Republicans passed to completely eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Of course that has been a controversy that's been brewing here. Republicans say that the reason is because Planned Parenthood does provide abortion services.

Talked to Planned Parenthood, talked to their Democratic allies here on Capitol Hill, and even some Republicans and they say, wait a minute, federal funding for abortion is already banned. And so the federal funding that they get does not go for abortion. So -- but nevertheless, these are some of the issues that certainly are big, very, very big. And they are some of the issues on the Republican side that leadership aides, others tell us, that they are being pushed very hard to keep on.

However, as you mentioned, Democrats are talking about this over and over and over again. And every press release that they can put out, because they understand that it's politically beneficial for them to say that Republicans are holding this up, they want a government shutdown potentially because of these issues.

Republicans insist, Anderson, at least going into this meeting, that there are still differences on maybe not -- maybe just a few billion dollars of differences on what -- on how much to cut but it's what to cut that they still have differences over, programs and agencies.

COOPER: David Gergen, you worked in White Houses, Republican White Houses and Democratic White Houses. Do you believe the Democrats? I mean are they right in your opinion when they say, look, the Republicans are trying to shut this government down basically based on social issues?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think they're partially right, Anderson. There are so many outreaches now that are accumulating over this whole controversy. It's just --


GERGEN: It's extraordinary.

COOPER: But is it normal -- discussion of greenhouse gases in a budget debate like this?

GERGEN: No. No, no. And it is -- it would be an outrage to shut down the government, for the Republicans to shut down the government, no matter how much money we give to Planned Parenthood or how EPA is funded. Those are not central issues to the budget. They can be settled elsewhere. They're legitimate debates, they're legitimate subjects, but not central to the budget.

But Anderson, the whole thing -- this whole controversy has become an abject failure of leadership in the White House and in Congress. We should not -- great nations should not be on the brink of shutting down its government over a fairly trivial amount of money.

You know David Walker is a former comptroller of the general, says, you know, points out this is a small fight. The big one is coming. This is a fight about paying, as David says, paying the bar bills on the Titanic.

COOPER: Well, David, let me ask you about that because is this -- with that in mind that there is this bigger -- you know the budget for next year, that battle looming, I mean is this about optics for that fight? Is this about posturing for that fight that neither side, Republican or Democrat, want to be seen as weak moving into this next coming looming battle?

GERGEN: Well, it's partly about that, Anderson. But you know it's gotten so messy now, it's like a mud fight, they're wrestling in the mud, and you can't disentangle one thing from another.

But let me just -- look, politicians have failed this country. They should not now be collecting paychecks when the government is down. It's the military who is serving the country and they should be collecting paychecks. And the -- you know, the Democratic argument, well, we can't send paychecks to the military.

They could take care of that problem tomorrow morning. They could reach an agreement, the Republicans, put up the appropriations and continue the paychecks. It's a phony issue.

COOPER: Dana, explain -- OK, I'm hearing Dan Lothian. You've got some news with that?

LOTHIAN: That's right. You know tomorrow the president was expected to go to Indiana to take part in another energy event. You know he's been pushing his energy policy of late. There were some questions throughout the day as to whether or not the president would postpone that trip in order to focus on the matter at hand, and that's getting this budget hammered out.

Now the White House is saying that this trip has been postponed tomorrow so that the president can put his complete focus --


LOTHIAN: -- on trying to get this deal done.

COOPER: OK. So, Dana, explain -- because this boggles people's minds. I haven't heard anyone who thinks that this makes any sense whatsoever, that folks on Capitol Hill are still going to get paid with 800,000 federal workers not getting paid.

BASH: It is mind boggling. I mean there's just no other around it. There's no question about it. And you know members of Congress understand that. That it is mindboggling. And that's why, as you mentioned at the beginning of the program, that there were moves at least to try to stop that and there are members -- member after member after member is coming out and saying well, I won't take my money, I'll give it to charity.

Could they work harder to find a way to not get paid? Absolutely. But one thing that is interesting, I actually just realized in researching this today, which is that believe it or not, it's in the Constitution. Article 1, Section 6 of the Constitution says that members of Congress shall receive a compensation and is ascertained by law.

They have to get paid by the Treasury of the United States. And because of that, the payment for Congress and for the president is not in this annual budget process. It's called -- it's a little bit into the weeds here, but just -- it's important, it's a mandatory spending. So it's automatically -- automatically goes into Treasury for members of Congress.

There's one other thing, the 27th Amendment of the Constitution. It says that members of Congress can't change their salaries during the session. And the goal of that was to make sure that members of Congress didn't raise their own salaries during the session, but it also has an impact on this.

Doesn't take away from the politics, doesn't take away from the problem or the outrage that members of Congress understand the people feel about the fact that they could get paid and the people who work for them wouldn't.

COOPER: Dan Lothian, so the staffers on Capitol Hill work through the night. The president hopes to meet with them tomorrow?

LOTHIAN: That's right. The president said that he hope that he'll check in with them tomorrow morning. He doesn't want this to push late into the day, because as he pointed out, you know, that this whole mechanism, the machine to shut down the government is already in motion. And so if you're going to start pulling that back, he wants to hear from them early in the morning.

I should point out that the deal doesn't have to be completely done. There just has to be sort of this agreement and then the president says he supports a stop gap of two or three days until they can finalize this deal. So we'll have to see if these teams can make any progress overnight.

COOPER: David, Dan, Dana, thanks very much.

Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter, @AndersonCooper. I'll try to tweet tonight although we got a lot going on.

Up next, a Democratic strategist Paul Begala joins us, who's close to some of the people involved in the current negotiations. He joins us. He also has a such a familiarity with what happened the last time the government shut down.

Also, Tea Party activist Dana Loesch joins us.

Tonight opposition forces also in Libya fleeing a crucial city in eastern Libya in Ajdabiya. We'll check with CNN's Ben Wedeman and Nic Robertson on the ground.


COOPER: We'll continue to follow the breaking news during the night. Emergency meetings of the White House have come and gone without a budget deal to head off a government shutdown.

President Obama saying just moments ago he could not express wild optimism tonight. All the same, he says he hopes to be able to announce a deal tomorrow. And again, without a deal, the government shuts down. Joining me now, CNN political contributor and Democratic strategist Paul Begala. Also, CNN political contributor Dana Loesch, co-organizer of the St. Louis Tea Party Coalition, who's also editor at

So Paul, a lot of people are saying, listen -- or a lot of Republicans are saying, even Democrats are saying, look, this lies at the feet of the Democrats. They could have and should have taken care of this when they still control both Houses. Are you just going to blame Republicans tonight for this?



COOPER: I knew you would.

BEGALA: You know but here's why. But no, let me tell you why. On December 14th, Democrats still controlled -- they'd lost the election but the Republicans had not taken office, so it was still a Democratic controlled Senate. It's absolutely true.

On December 14th, a Democratic controlled Senate Appropriations Committee bundled together all 11 appropriations bills, as sometimes happens, and passed through the committee an omnibus budget for the United States of America.

It looked like that was going to go through, it was right after that tax cut deal where bipartisan majority put that through. And then Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, said, and I'm quoting him here.

He said, "I am actively working to defeat that budget." And he said, "This bill should not go forward."

When he said that -- he's the leader of his party -- Republicans coalesced around it. They had enough votes to sustain a filibuster. The Democrats couldn't bring it up. So you tell me who we should blame. The Democrats who were trying to pass it or the Republicans who had enough votes to mount a filibuster that could have -- would have killed so the Democrats pulled it down in the face of a filibuster.

COOPER: Well, Dana, I know you're just going to blame Democrats, but why in a budget bill are there riders about the EPA and greenhouse gases?

DANA LOESCH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, and I have to make a point to my colleague Paul that last year when the Democrats actually had majority in Congress, they didn't deliver anything. They didn't deliver any budget. But we can play this game all day long. The thing about the riders --

BEGALA: But -- did your ear piece not working? I just explained to you how the Republicans blocked it. That's why they didn't deliver it. It's like Lincoln told the story about the guy who murdered his parents --


BEGALA: -- and then asked for mercy because he was an orphan?

LOESCH: No, no, no, no. You had the majority. They had a majority.

BEGALA: The Republicans killed the budget.

LOESCH: They could have done whatever they wanted. But I want to answer -- I want to answer Anderson's question, though, about the riders.

BEGALA: A filibuster.

LOESCH: This is about cutting spending, and these two riders specifically that are mentioned in this -- what is it? The one that deals with Gitmo and bringing detainees to U.S. soil. And then the one about Planned Parenthood funding in Washington, D.C.

This is about cutting spending, not adding to it. So it seems completely like a moot point to even have these included in something that's about the budget when we're talking about reducing the amount of spending that Washington is involved in.

COOPER: Paul, does it make sense for the Republicans to have these riders in here? I mean is this the time to be discussing the EPA and greenhouse gases?

BEGALA: No. And I can tell you from people who are involved in the negotiations. It's really all coming down to Planned Parenthood, Anderson.

COOPER: That's what it's coming down to?

BEGALA: Yes, sir. They're very close on the number. But the rider that the -- the Republicans had 40 or 50, OK, so to their defense, they're saying OK, we're going to draw the line in the sand on one, at least this is what I'm hearing from my friends on Capitol Hill.

So the Republicans draw that line on Planned Parenthood and their argument is look, we're going to give up 49 of our riders but we really don't want Planned Parenthood to get any funding.

The Democrats say look, we've been arguing about abortion for 40 years in America, and the Hyde Amendment, named for the late Henry Hyde, who was the strongest abortion opponent, I think, in Congress in his day, already says that no federal funding can go to abortion and the Planned Parenthood money goes to non-abortion women's health, you know, other exams or contraception or mammograms or Pap tests or any manner of other things.

So I do think this is something that should be put off for another day. But the Republicans -- this is where Mr. Boehner, the Republican speaker, is in a terrible bind. He is in a horrible box. I almost feel sorry for him, because if he jettisons that rider, I think his own Republicans won't vote for even the cuts that he's winning which are deep cuts.

COOPER: Dana, you're shaking your head.

LOESCH: Yes, I find -- I just think it's kind of funny. I just -- this whole issue -- this is about -- again, this is about spending. And you're -- is it that important? I mean because also we have to consider, too, our -- the funding for our servicemen and women and it seems as though that's the thing, that the hill that Democrats want to fall down on?

Well, there's lots -- there's not taxpayer funding for this Planned Parenthood in Washington, D.C., so we're going to have to veto this whole stop-gap measure. We're not going to be able to have it in. That seems ridiculous to me, especially when you look at precedence.

This isn't the first time that we've been at this impasse and Democrats have signed off on this before when there's been such riders like this where they've -- to not have taxpayer funding for abortion. I mean Democrats have signed off on this before. So the thing that kind of strikes me as -- makes me a little bit curious is why this is different? Why now? Why all of a sudden, why is this different?

And why is there this draft guidance that's been issued by the White House that raises the ante on this and targets military pay? This is so screwy. It's just -- it's a quagmire is what it is.

COOPER: Paul, you seem perplexed.

BEGALA: Yes, well, I mean, who wouldn't be? Look, what this is about is priorities.

LOESCH: Oh, come on.

BEGALA: Right? The president (INAUDIBLE) famous, he said to govern is to choose. The Republicans are -- it seems to me hell bent on -- some on shutting down the government. They won't take yes for an answer. They're getting deep cuts, cuts that the Democrats are really finding it very difficult hard to swallow, but I think they will.

But they're so hell bent on this -- apparently this Planned Parenthood thing that they're willing to shut down the entire government over it. And I think David Gergen is right in the earlier segment, this is just the warm-up bout.

The Republicans are passing a long-term budget, which they've already passed through the budget committee in the House of Representatives, which according to "The Wall Street Journal" -- I'm quoting "The Wall Street Journal" -- will essentially end Medicare. It will also, by the way, cut taxes for the rich very, very deeply and subsidize oil companies but it will end Medicare. That's going to be the Armageddon. I mean you think we're having a fight over Planned Parenthood. Wait until the Republicans say we want to end Medicare which is what they're passing right now in the long term.

COOPER: I want -- I want to talk to both of you --

LOESCH: Can I add a quick note about that?

COOPER: Yes. Very briefly. Very briefly. But you're coming back after the break.


LOESCH: Let's talk about the health control bill -- OK. Democrats actually kicked seniors off of Medicare advantage. Don't forget, it gave billions to AARP so that they could get seniors to buy Medigap. We can talk about that. Let's talk about cutting Medicare.

COOPER: Dana, we'll bring you right back. Paul Begala, as well.

Stay with us. I also want to bring in our David Gergen into the conversation right after the break.

Plus, tonight the latest from Libya. New airstrikes kill at least four people in the eastern part of the country. But where did the air strikes come from? The opposition says NATO fired on the wrong people. That's coming up.


COOPER: Back now with the breaking news. No deal to end the budget standoff. White House talks to break the log jam over the night with no agreement. Late word as well that President Obama is postponing tomorrow's trip to Indiana because of the impasse.

Let's talk now again with Paul Begala, Dana Loesch and bringing in David Gergen.

So, Dana, why -- I mean I'm still not quite clear why in a budget bill are there riders about the Clean Air Act, about abortion. I mean is this really the best time to be focusing on those things?

LOESCH: Well, the stop-gap measure that was proposed by Boehner included the two riders, that included the one about Gitmo and it included the one about the Planned Parenthood funding -- or the abortion funding for D.C.

And I look at it like this. If we're going to talk about cutting spending, we have to actually talk about cutting spending, and we have to talk about cutting projects here and there. And I think any time is a good time to talk about cutting spending.

And I have been completely unhappy with both -- all of the proposals that I've seen from both parties. We have Democrats and Republicans that are only talking about cutting the tiniest little bitty bit of what is being spent. No one actually wants to get into the meat and potatoes of what is causing us to be in such extreme debt.

No one wants to talk about what is adding to the deficit. We added a trillion dollars to the deficit last year. No one wants to get into cutting the serious stuff that needs to be cut. So I have to wonder, how serious is Congress about cutting spending? Or is this just, you know, just all a dog and pony show?

COOPER: Paul, I think I read something -- I don't know if it was Ezra Klein, I'm not sure who it was -- was saying that -- he was saying that on the Republican side, this has a lot to do with John Boehner trying to appeal to the Tea Party, or at least to conservatives and show that he can be their representative. Do you buy that?

BEGALA: Yes, this is the real -- it's an almost impossible situation that Speaker Boehner is in. And honestly, I kind of feel for him.

You know President Obama, Senator Reid and the Democrats, they seem to be pretty aligned. They don't much like these cuts but they're ready to accept really deep cuts. And I don't pick up a lot of dissension on the Democratic side of the aisle even though they're going to vote for pretty difficult cuts.

It's on the Republican side where -- as I said, they don't seem to be able to take yes for an answer. And Speaker Boehner has a terrible choice. This is going to be his choice and he's going to sleep on it, I suppose, tonight.

Either he takes the position of the Republican base, that really hardlined Tea Party, you know, Obama is a Muslim, aliens are landing from Mars base, and give them the kind of cuts that they want. But that can't pass the Senate. And it won't be signed by the Senate. Or he tries to find a bipartisan solution. He could get a lot of Democrats for some of these if he rejected some of the extremist language.

But if he did that, I'll tell you, Anderson, they'll kill him. The Republican base in his House, they want a government shutdown. Boehner, I don't think does at all. I don't think the country does. But he's got this base. They are committed -- they should be committed if we had a functioning mental health system, but they want to shut the government down over this. And I think they're going to get their way. So I don't know how Boehner gets out of this box.

COOPER: So David Gergen, how much is this then boil down to about politics on both sides, whether it's internal Republican politics or Democrats not wanting to look weak -- you know in front of Republicans going into this next budget battle?

GERGEN: It's all about politics. Increasingly it's about smelly politics.

Dana, I want to come back to this thing about Planned Parenthood. The reason for cutting Planned Parenthood because they're going to save money doing, you know perfectly well the amount of money involved is tiny, tiny, Planned Parenthood in D.C.

But let me ask you, you know perfectly well that the reason they're tried to gut Planned Parenthood is they don't like it. Same reason they're trying to, you know, gut National Public Radio. It doesn't spend a lot of money.

LOESCH: Well, where's the refusal to make some cuts?

GERGEN: They just don't like it. There are a whole --


GERGEN: Listen, there are a lot of cuts on the table. What I would like to ask you --

LOESCH: You're going to shut down the government over that?

GERGEN: Well, that's what I want to ask you. Are you --

LOESCH: You'll shut down the government over Planned Parenthood?

COOPER: Let him out. Let him out.

GERGEN: Will the Tea Party -- yes, that's what I'm asking you. Would the Tea Party punish members, Republicans who vote for a compromise that does not include a Planned Parenthood rider? Would you actually punish them if they -- if they vote for a compromise and keep the government open?

LOESCH: Well, I don't speak for the whole Tea Party.

GERGEN: Well, what is your personal view?

LOESCH: But I will say this. I speak for myself. I look at it like, if we're going to talk about the budget, we need to talk about cutting things. And if you want to make the stand on Planned Parenthood, you want to shut down the government, you want to actually target the salaries of our servicemen and women, who are overseas right now, where -- we just got into Libya, who are overseas right now, you want to target their salaries over one instance in Washington, D.C.?

COOPER: But, Dana, you're making it sound like --

LOESCH: That could be something that you could go to sleep with.

COOPER: But, Dana, I mean, you're making it sound like the Democrats are the ones who brought up this Planned Parenthood thing and they're the ones who are pushing this down people's throats. Democrats are saying, wait a minute, it's the Republicans who brought this up. You're the -- they're saying you're the ones who are making this the issue.

LOESCH: It was suggested as a cut. And can Democrats suggest other things that they would like to replace with that -- to cut? We have to start cutting somewhere. I reject the amounts from both parties. I think they're too small.

GERGEN: How much is involved? How much is involved with Planned Parenthood in D.C.? How much is involved? It must be less than $500,000.

LOESCH: That's irrelevant. Because you can say that with --

GERGEN: How is it irrelevant if the issue is --


LOESCH: Over time it adds up, though. Over time it adds up.

GERGEN: You know, if you want to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood --

LOESCH: Only in D.C. --


GERGEN: I think you can guaranty if you want to shut down the government, if the Tea Party wants to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood --

LOESCH: It's not the Tea Party.

GERGEN: Well, but --

LOESCH: We wouldn't even be having this discussion if we had a budget passed a year ago.

GERGEN: That's true.

LOESCH: We wouldn't even be having this discussion.

GERGEN: I -- your point is well taken on that. I disagree with my good friend, Paul Begala on that. But the point of this is, if you really want to hand -- shut down the government over Planned Parenthood, don't you think there's a reasonable chance it will discredit the Tea Party?

LOESCH: Well, this isn't -- I don't think it's going to discredit the Tea Party at all. And again, I don't look at this as we're taking -- no one is taking a stand on Planned Parenthood. People are taking a stand on let's start cutting.

COOPER: Coming up, the latest from Libya. U.S. General Carter Ham saying it's not very likely the opposition will be able to oust Gadhafi, looking more and more like a stalemate on the ground.

The opposition hasn't -- has complained that NATO isn't doing enough to help and now there's word NATO may have accidently fired on the wrong people and the opposition, they've hightailed it to Benghazi. That's next. And breaking news out of Japan. The last thing they needed, another strong aftershock. This is the earthquake hit at night there. More than a hundred injured, at least two dead with (INAUDIBLE) now. The latest ahead.


COOPER: The situation for the Libyan opposition has gone from bad to worse and tonight there are serious new questions about whether NATO is getting the job done or just adding to the chaos.

Four people died, 14 were injured in airstrikes in the eastern part of the country today. Opposition leaders wondering if NATO may have accidentally fired on the forces it's supposed to be helping.

Here's some of what CNN's Ben Wedeman saw and heard outside of Ajdabiya today.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Already demoralized by the superior fire power of the Libyan army, fighters and medics alike are showing the strain. And they're lashing out at their should-be protectors.

"They shouldn't hit the revolutionaries, we're helpless," says this fighter.

The attack has left the opposition forces reeling and sparked yet another wild retreat. First foe, and now it would seem friend, has them on the run.


COOPER: NATO says it's looking into those airstrikes, saying the situation is fluid and unclear. What is clear the battle between Gadhafi forces and the opposition forces is looking more like a stalemate than ever.

Opposition Gadhafi forces have been ping-ponging between Brega and Ajdabiya and today U.S. General Carter Ham said it's unlikely the opposition will be able to take Tripoli and push Gadhafi out.

Ben Wedeman joins us live from Ajdabiya. Here in New York, Professor Fouad Ajami at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the Hoover Institution. In Berkeley California, former CIA officer Bob Baer who's's intelligence columnist and co-author of "The Company We Keep." And in Tripoli, senior international correspondent Nic Robertson.

Ben, you -- last night you were in Ajdabiya. A lot of the media had left. Today, you had to rush out of Ajdabiya after fierce Gadhafi's forces were at the western gate of the city. What happened?

WEDEMAN: Well, basically we were sort of really completely focused, Anderson, on this -- the aftermath of the airstrike. We were at the hospital. But as we were talking to the doctors, talking to eyewitnesses and the wounded, we noticed that truck after truck after truck of the opposition was just streaming out of town.

Word went out that the Gadhafi forces were at the gates of Ajdabiya, and would soon be in the city itself. So we had to run back to our hotel in record time, packed our bags and ran away in 10 minutes. The hotel staff was already gone. In fact when I gave in my key, I was answering the phone at reception because there was nobody else there.

And we hightailed it out of town, along with the entire rebel army. And we saw them sort of regrouping outside the town, also firing Katyusha rockets sort of madly back inside the city, even though there were probably still rebel fighters in the town.

But this really underscores the chaos that is descending upon the front line and it's not helped by whatever happened today. It's not clear, was it a NATO strike, was it not? NATO has still not come out 17 1/2 hours after the incident to simply say, yes, we had a plane in the area. Yes, that plane fired rockets.

It's utter confusion from every direction -- Anderson.

COOPER: And briefly, Ben, what happens to all those folks in the hospital who we just saw? That hospital is in Ajdabiya. If Gadhafi forces take it over, do they all get evacuated? I mean did they leave, too?

WEDEMAN: Yes, a lot of them were being treated on the spot and then being moved back to Benghazi. So if anybody's got their act together, it's certainly -- it's these medics who have incredible courage in working on the front lines, ferrying people out. So I think nobody was left behind in their hospital bed -- Anderson.

COOPER: Fouad, as you see the situation, I mean it does -- it certainly does not look good for the opposition. They're now back in -- outside of Ajdabiya and back toward Benghazi.

FOUAD AJAMI, PROF., JOHNS HOPKINS SCHOOL OF ADVANCES INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: And nothing about this, by the way, should come as any great surprise.

When a professional soldier like Carter Ham, the head of the Africa command said, look, the rebels can't take Tripoli, the rebels can't go to Tripoli, we' should have known this. I mean this is playing according to script. The idea that teenagers, the idea that lawyers and businessmen who rush to the Toyota Corollas and rush to the front are going to take on Gadhafi and win --


COOPER: So is a stalemate acceptable to you?

AJAMI: Well, it's just a scandal. It's a great moral scandal. And I think we now see the contradictions of American policy. We left it to the British and to the French, and they took the lead. They insisted they could do it. And now we see the contradictions of NATO.

What is NATO? And you look at the Turks, they're in NATO, and they are sympathetic to Moammar Gadhafi. You look at the Germans. They have no interest in the use of power against Gadhafi. So I think there's nothing here that's in any way -- we should have known that it would come to this.

COOPER: So Bob Baer, where does it go from here? I mean you've said all along opposition forces are difficult to train. That it would take a long time to get them, you know, up to a standard where they could be a fighting force.

Is -- I mean what do you see happening now? Is there a stalemate that there's a partition and then a force is built up?

ROBERT BAER, TIME.COM INTELLIGENCE COLUMNIST: Well, first of all, the no-fly zone is not working now because there's no forward air controllers. And these -- there should be troops on the ground that would --

COOPER: Like special operations forces, CIA officers on the ground?


COOPER: Laser sighting and things, calling in airstrikes?

BAER: Laser sighting, GPS, the whole thing. It's the only way that works when you're fighting in close quarters. So it's not a surprise to me that the NATO bombed the rebels force. We -- you know, we're sort of got one foot in this, but not completely and that's not enough. It's almost -- the logic of this conflict is you have to put people on the ground.

I don't think it's a good idea, but that's where the logic is going. And even now if this route continues, and they move on Benghazi, we still have the same problem of an enormous humanitarian problem for Europe. I mean people are going to be fleeing to Italy, to this -- you know, Lampadooza (ph), the island where they're all going to is going to sink with the number of people coming.

This is a European problem that is not going away right now.

COOPER: Well, Fouad, if they move on Benghazi, we're in the situation that the world faced several weeks ago that got NATO -- that got the U.S. involved in this in the first place, an attack on Benghazi.

AJAMI: Absolutely right. In fact, what President Obama did with Benghazi is he granted Benghazi a stay of execution, if you really want it in such a language. And if Gadhafi drives towards Benghazi one more time, we will face exactly the same dilemma.

And Bob Baer is right, you either have boots on the ground or you have a robust air campaign where NATO is willing, in fact, to give it to Gadhafi, to take it to him. COOPER: Which they're clearly not at this point.

AJAMI: They're not. I mean we do not -- we do not have a viable air campaign against Moammar Gadhafi.

COOPER: Nic, in Tripoli, you were able to interview Eman al- Obeidy yesterday. I want to play a little of that for our viewers.


EMAN AL-OBEIDY, ALLEGED LIBYAN RAPE VICTIM (Through Translator): I was kidnapped by two cars belonging to the armed forces and the Gadhafi brigade. They drove their normal patrol police cars. They dropped me off the patrol car because I am from the eastern province and they asked me to ride in their cars. Then they took me.

They were drunk in the car and they took me to the residence of one of them where I was tortured, raped, beaten and I was tied. When I was showing the journalists my hand bruises as a result of being tied, my hands and legs were tied up backwards for two days.


COOPER: Now, Nic, for days now, for more than a week, the Libyan government has been maligning this woman, calling her a prostitute, calling her a whore. This interview actually came about because one of Gadhafi's sons helped make it happen. I don't understand. How did that happen?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He helped facilitate it. He provided the location, he provided the car to pick her up. We asked him and told him that we wanted to do it and we needed his help.

COOPER: Up next, a convicted sex offender who allegedly kidnapped, raped and imprisoned Jaycee Dugard for nearly two decades is back in court today. All that talk of a plea -- plea agreement did not happen. We'll tell you what did happen instead.

And another powerful earthquake hitting Japan today. There's some injuries. The latest developments ahead.


COOPER: Breaking news tonight out of Japan. At least two people are now confirmed dead in a powerful earthquake that struck the island nation today. The last thing Japan needed. It hit just before midnight local time. That's what it looked like. Close to the same area as last month's magnitude 9 quake. It's the largest aftershock so far, measuring between 7.1 and 7.4.

At least 132 injuries were reported, some of them serious. The quake knocked out train lines, it damaged roads, at least two buildings collapsed, millions lost power, it triggered a tsunami warning, as well.

Just imagine the fear that must have set off. The warning was canceled about 90 minutes later.

Not clear what the toll might be on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which has been in crisis since the March 11th quake of course and the tsunami. The epicenter of today's quake was about 73 miles from that facility.

Workers were forced to evacuate the site but they have since returned. They're assessing the damage, we're told. Earlier, TEPCO said power was still on at the plant.

Today, a nuclear watchdog group raised new concerns about the plant's containment structure saying it's hard to know how they'll hold up during aftershocks and new earthquakes given the damage they sustained from hydrogen explosions last month.

A lot of other stories we're following right now. Isha Sesay is back with a "360" news and business bulletin.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, gunfire rings out in the streets of Ivory Coast's main city. People ducking for cover. Laurent Gbagbo, the self-declared president of the West African country, refuses to give up power after a day-long assault on his home. His men battled forces loyal to Alassan Ouattara who's considered the legitimate winner in November's election.

And when Gbagbo's fighters attacked the Japanese ambassador's home, French forces moved in to rescue him.

Well, here at home, a not guilty plea from Phillip Garrido, who's accused of the kidnapping and rape of Jaycee Dugard. California authorities say Dugard was held in Garrido's home from the ages of 11 to 29 and gave birth to two daughters in captivity.

A "360" follow. Arizona's governor has signed a new budget which reinstates coverage for medical transplants under the state's Medicaid program. In a controversial move, that funding was cut last fall and two patients who were waiting for transplants died.

Oil prices have climbed above $110 a barrel for the first time in 2 1/2 years. Prices have surged 20 percent due to the uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa.

And Anderson, it's the news you didn't know you were waiting for. The venomous snake that went missing at New York's Bronx Zoo is no longer missing a name. Say hello to Mia, as in missing in action. Get it?

COOPER: Got it.

SESAY: The officials have no idea how the cobra slithered away for five days, but they sure are glad she's back. Mia is saying about her name. In our heart she will always be Mrs. Justin Bieber.

COOPER: You know, I collected snakes as a kid and I once bought a new snake and I left it in a bag in the taxi on my way home from the pet store. SESAY: Why does that not surprise me that you kept snakes?


COOPER: And I felt bad because this nice little old lady got in the cab right after I left and I imagine her sort of opening up the bag and seeing this snake but.

SESAY: And to this day, she is cursing you.


COOPER: That's right, if she survived the cab ride.

SESAY: If she survived the cab ride.

COOPER: Let's hope.

Still ahead, parents gone back to school to learn how to help their kids with homework. "Perry's Principles" is next.


COOPER: President Obama has called education equality the civil rights issue of our time. Here's what else he said yesterday.


OBAMA: When too many of our schools are failing our children, too many of our kids are dropping out of school, that's not a black or a white or brown problem, that is an American problem. We're going to have to solve that problem. We are all responsible.


COOPER: Well, the child -- the support a child gets at home of course can make a huge difference in the classroom. That's the idea behind a program that teaches parents how to help their kids with homework.

Here's CNN education contributor and Principal Steve Perry with this week's "Perry's Principles."


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please take a colored marker.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you remember when we went to school? We did what was called the traditional method of multiplication.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have five minutes to complete this task.

STEVE PERRY, CNN EDUCATION CONTRIBUTOR: It's a busy night in these Philadelphia classroom. They're packed with men and women hoping to connect with the most important people in their lives, children and grandchildren.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that might be an issue that we have today in mathematics, because we really do need to understand why we're doing what we're doing.

PERRY: It's a real challenge for parents everywhere. What they learned in school is very different from what kids are learning today. That's why Superintendent Arlene Ackerman created Parent University.

ARLENE ACKERMAN, SUPERINTENDENT, SCHOOL DISTRICT OF PHILADELPHIA: Not every parent has a computer, not every parent has access to the resources that many middle class families have. So in this district, we've really focused on engaging parents in this process. And it's worked.

PERRY (on camera): What's the reason so many parents are signing up?

ACKERMAN: They're free. All you have to do is have a child in the public school system and you can come.

PERRY (voice-over): Jose Ramirez has two boys in middle school. He's originally from El Salvador.

JOSE RAMIREZ, PARENT UNIVERSITY STUDENT: Sometimes as an immigrant, we say oh, the teacher can handle the classroom. My children are fine. Because of the culture, the barrier is right there. But right now I feel I'm more closed in.

PERRY (on camera): What are some of the classes that you've taken at Parent University?

RAMIREZ: Well, Character development, computer classes.

PERRY: What changes do you see in your dad as a result of this?

NICK RAMIREZ, JOSE'S SON: He seems more confident in doing things, as he was before, like sometimes he would not want to do it because he couldn't do it before.

PERRY (voice-over): Octavia Lewis, another Parent University student, is a grandmother and foster mother.

(On camera): You have students that showed them why you're in school. Does that make it harder on you?

OCTAVIA LEWIS, PARENT UNIVERSITY STUDENT: It's a challenge but it's a welcome challenge because my grandchildren get to see me experience what I tell them.

PERRY: We're in the worst (INAUDIBLE) times of our life. Things are getting cut. How are you going to sustain this program?

ACKERMAN: You know, I think it's become so popular now that, you know, it's one of the last things that we'll cut, because we believe it's so important. It's so tied to our first core belief that children come first. And right after the children are the parents.

LEWIS: When your child comes home and they're in tears because they don't understand what the teacher just told them, to be able to give them the help they need, it's priceless.


COOPER: It looks like Philadelphia has a really good program in place. How can other districts help parents who want to be involved?

PERRY: It does look that way. What these districts can do is in fact help parents to have more confidence. One of the challenges that many parents have is that they don't feel comfortable helping their children with homework. And so what the Philadelphia or Parent University in Philadelphia does is it gives parents the confidence to help their children with something as simple as math -- well, not as simple as math, but math and science and social studies, but the basic subjects that children have in school.

It makes them feel good about themselves and as a result, when they sit down with their children, their children do better in school.

COOPER: Yes, I'm not sure I could go back to even remember anything I learned in math classes sadly. But --

PERRY: Well, fortunately, fortunately, neither of us have to.


COOPER: Steve, thanks very much.

PERRY: My pleasure.

COOPER: Steve Perry.

That does it for "360." And thanks for watching. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts now. See you tomorrow.