Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

September 23, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

9-11 Survivor


  • seven years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, the memories are still fresh for some. They are for Joe Dittmar, who was on the 105th floor of the World Trade Center's south tower when the first airplane hit the north tower. He was in Phoenix last week to speak at the Healing Field a display of nearly 3000 American flags for each person who died in the terrorist attacks. Dittmar shared his memories of that day in NYC.
Guests:
  • Elliot Pollack - Elliot D. Pollack & Company
  • Dr. Eric Novack - Chairman, Proposition 101 initiative committee
  • Dr. Mary Rimsza - Arizona chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics


View Transcript
Ted Simons:
>>> Tonight on "Horizon" volatility on Wall Street and in investment banks has many feeling financially insecure. We examine the real estate and economic environment.

Ted Simons:
>>> Plus, we continue our series on the ballot propositions. Tonight, the "freedom of choice in healthcare act."

Ted Simons:
>>> And, a man who survived the terrorist attacks on the world trade center shares his story. That's coming up, next on "horizon."

Ted Simons:
>>> Good evening. Welcome to "horizon." I'm Ted Simons.

Ted Simons:
>>> The economy tops the news tonight as congress discusses potential bailout strategies for troubled U.S. financial firms. Experts say the economic instability all stems back to housing and the mortgage loan crisis among our nation's brokerage firms and investment banks. Here now to talk more about the economy is Elliot Pollack of Elliot d. Pollack & company. Good to have you on the show. Thanks for joining us. $700 billion rescue plan, what do you make of it?

Elliot Pollack:
>> It's interesting. If this hadn't been done, this is to buy the assets that you described. Banks made loans on the house and some were 100\% loans and some were 90\% loans and sold them off to other banks, to mortgage companies, to businesses, to Wall Street and now the values of houses have gone down so much that those things have no value especially in a world of market to market accounting. What happened was banks to protect their capital essentially stopped making loans because they didn't wan to take anymore risk. The system froze up and because it was frozen and because the economy floats on a sea of credit. Bernanke's fear were, look, banks won't make business loans or car loans or housing loans. Your kid won't be able to get a loan to go to school if you don't do something, we will spiral downward. In this is attempt to take the bad assets out of banks and have for injection of capital and assets to use and make loans on?

Ted Simons:
>> Is it enough to thaw the markets?

Elliot Pollack:
>> That's the $64 question. So far they have done everything that the textbooks suggest to free up the markets and it hasn't worked. Will this work? Well, it should. Is this a guarantee? No. By the way, if this works, the economy is in lousy shape and consumers have too much debit.


Ted Simons:
>> Indeed, bernanke says approve this or we get in a recession. I thought he were in one already.

Elliot Pollack:
>> In Arizona we have been in one for the past six months and nationally no question in my mind in the second half will be in recession.

Ted Simons:
>> $700 billion plan, who pays for it and how?

Elliot Pollack:
>> Obviously the average American taxpayer pays for it because there will be bonds issued and somebody has to pay the interest on the debit. In theory somebody has to pay back those debts down the road and that means less spending down the road. It also probably will weaken the dollar and as a result will we will all feel the affects of it.

Ted Simons:
>> original administration's plan, paulson's plan, says give us the money, not much way in oversight, we'll make the decisions, thanks a lot. Bye-bye. Is that what will happen?

Elliot Pollack:
>> it's what they are trying to do. It shouldn't happen that way. What assets to buy and what to do with the assets and how to dispose of them and how to administer the whole process this. Takes a large bureaucracy. This is more akin to the rtc.

Ted Simons:
>> it's been described as cash for trash. Is that accurate?

Elliot Pollack:
>> that is accurate. Given the government's forcing banks to use market to market accounting, they are force today price assets for which there is no market. How do you price a mortgage-backed security when nobody wants to buy them? If there's a price is a million dollars worth or trillion dollars worth?

Ted Simons:
>> doesn't the government have to overpay to get it back in the system?

Elliot Pollack:
>> no, i don't think they will overpay. They will buy them at some price off the books of banks at 20 cents or 30 cents to the dollar and take them and are resell them at a lower price to get them off their books because the government's not going hold them 4 for a long time. It will get them off the books of the banks. Do they purchase bad real estate assets and bad mortgage-backed loans and bad housing loans and commercial loans.

Ted Simons:
>> a lot of wrangling on capitol hill regarding oversight and regulation. What do you see happening?

Elliot Pollack:
>> a pile-on with things thrown on top that isn't going to help but cost more. Is that a dangerous road to go down. there's nobody alive that's done this before because it's not happened before. That is a dangerous road for the economy.

Ted Simons:
>> limiting executive pay in these bonus packages and these sorts of things, i don't think anyone is saying--well, some may be. Especially those that failed. Does that have traction?

Elliot Pollack:
>> i think it will. It's a dangerous road to go down. The government can buy assets from the bank and tell what you your chief executive what to get. If they get a contract, does that mean they can tell the chief executive what to make? This is a dangerous road for a capitalist society to go down and we have to be too careful.

Ted Simons:
>> have we gone down too far already?

Elliot Pollack:
>> a lot of economists believe we have already. They would have allowed the chips to fall where they may. The chips will fall all the way down and market will recover and hopefully prevents it from spiraling downward.

Ted Simons:
>> quickly, foreign banks any help or hinderance?

Elliot Pollack:
>> yes, forget about the rest of the world being disconnected from us. If we go down, they go down.

Ted Simons:
>> mortgage rates, correct me if i'm wrong, they have gone down since the fannie mae and freddie mac takeover, correct?

Elliot Pollack:
>> correct.

Ted Simons:
>> will it work?


Elliot Pollack:
>> time will tell if it worked. The market seems to say the bailout worked fine. Time will tell. Yes, it should help a lot. But you're in a situation where it's too early to tell.

Ted Simons:
>> since even talk of the bailout, we have seen stocks go down and oil prices go up. Immediate reaction is that this is the kind of thing we need to get used to? What is that telling you?

Elliot Pollack:
>> you saw the market go up 700 points after the first two days of conversations of the bailouts. They have gone down because of the stuff piled on and leading us down a path most doesn't want to see. For example, if what congress is talking about if you live within your means and made your mortgage payments and pay all your bills, you have to subsidize those homeowners who didn't. Most americans don't really like that. And the costs would be huge and i think that's what the stock market's reacting to.

Ted Simons:
>> you say most americans don't like and i think most americans don't like the idea of big rig, a c.e.o. who runs the company into the ground and government bails them out and getting tens of millions of dollars in bonuses.

Elliot Pollack:
>> i can't argue with you. I can argue with you. Oversight as slipped. That will change. You could have not have the bailout and the economy will freeze up and economy floats on a sea of credit without loans for autos and homes and businesses and college loans, we'd be in real trouble. This hopefully unfreezes this. It doesn't mean the economy will recover. We still have the problems if the economy that will last awhile.

Ted Simons:
>> last question, outlook of 2009 set to come up here as far as the presentation, talk about that. What do you see happening? Will it get better or worse?

Elliot Pollack:
>> at least the first half or all of 2009 is not a happy picture. I don't see it getting better fast other than the unfreezing of financial system which allows the recession to have normal course instead of much more downward spiral that might occur.

Ted Simons:
>> Information on of the 2009 is on the screens. If you are here in the late '80s and early '90s will look familiar.

Elliot Pollack:
>> all too familiar.


Ted Simons:
>>> we continue our series tonight examining the ballot propositions you will be voting on this november. One is a constitutional amendment called the "freedom of 7 choice in health care act." supporters of the initiative say it will preserve our freedom to choose health care coverage. Opponents of the measure say it will stop future options for universal health care plans and reduce health care choice. In a moment, we talk with both sides of the issue. First, here's a look at the language of the proposition.

Merry Lucero:
>> the freedom of choice in healthcare act, proposition 101 would amend the arizona constitution to provide that no law shall, one, restrict a person's freedom to chose a private healthcare plan or system of their choice. Two, interfere with a person's or entities a right to pay directly for lawful medical services. Three, impose a penalty or fine of any type for choosing to obtain or decline healthcare coverage. And four, impose a penalty or fine of any type for participation in any particular healthcare system or plan.

Ted Simons:
>> Here now to talk about proposition 101 is Dr. Eric Novack, the chairman of the initiative committee and opposing the measure, is dr. Mary Rimsza, with the Arizona chapter, American academy of pediatrics. Thank you both for joining us.

Eric Novack:
>> Thank you.

Ted Simons:
>> Okay, why is this initiative necessary?

Eric Novak:
>> It is crucially important. We all know healthcare reform is coming. It's desperately needed. All you have to do is look to your previous guests, look to 8 what's going on in the energy crisis recently. We know this, when legislation gets written, the biggest special interests will sit down at the table behind closed doors with legislatures and bureaucrat and craft legislation in their own image and leave us patients and families off the discussion. All the proposition does is protect the right of patients to be in control of healthcare decisions.

Ted Simons:
>> protecting rights of patients to be in control of their healthcare decisions, what's wrong with that.

Mary Rimsza:
>> It sounds like motherhood and apple pie. It's a constitution amendment so once it's done and can't be changed. What they haven't told us is it can reek havoc on the state what happens does private healthcare mean or healthcare mean? It's not defined. For example, health law experts say this will cause us to totally revamp the whole system in the state which relies on working with private managed care organizations and private care. The way we did it managed care or model, cuts the costs dramatically. Estimates are the costs of plans, the taxpayers plans will increase over a billion dollars a year if we go for the fee-for-service which is proposed.

Ted Simons:
>> have you looked at initial fallout passed the consequences?

Eric Novack:
>> Absolutely. There is a trumped up charge. We drafted this over a year ago. Some opted to remain neutral and some supported us. They all add an ample opportunity to look at this. This is simply spreading of fear. Who is opposing us? Out of state insurance company called scan healthcare which in the past had more complaints per patient than any other California HMO just put in $50,000 to oppose us. Scan healthcare is what? One client in Arizona. That is the government in Maricopa County providing access care. What happened here is big government and special interests are each other's back and looking to protect each other. This does nothing to access.

Ted Simons:
>> But the idea of we got higher--costs will increase and higher premiums and folks will wind up not being insured and, boom, you have a system that's overloaded. Why does that not make sense?

Eric Novack:
>> Well, because your initiative makes no impact on the costs at all. Again that is trumped up charge. What happened is people out of governor's office had decided they wanted to oppose prop 101 and got legal opinions on anything they could possibly. If you want to oppose something say it will reak havoc on the financial of the state and break the budget. It happened in 2006 when people opposed property rights said it would cost us $54 billion it passed and 65\% vote. The cost to the taxpayers two years later is zero. It does nothing to the costs.

Ted Simons:
>> You describe terms of trumped up.

Mary Rimsza:
>> We disagree. Healthcare experts say it's serious issues. Because they have not defined the terms, it will be up to the courts to define whether access applies. We think it will apply because access uses contracts. We want to decrease the number of uninsured and provide healthcare at lowest possible costs and maintain as many options for them to decide what they want in the healthcare reform. If we pass an initiative that changes our constitution, that's irrevocable. We can't argue the different pros and cons after it's done. That there trumps every statute whether we have access, workman's comp and erisa.

Ted Simons:
>> is this because of the competition that's involved? Is this the core?

Mary Rimsza:
>> Not the competition. It's managed care that competes. What's at the core is whether or not you can make for less expensive healthcare insurance by limiting what can be covered. Do we really want it to be possible for somebody to get their hair transplant when they're on access? Maybe we don't want to do that. Maybe we want to put limits on something.

Eric Novack:
>> That is the most absurd thing. There's nothing in the initiative to require the government or access or access plan or any private insurer to cover anything. All this is very simple. I urge everybody read the initiative, watch the show again go to yes101.com, read the initiative and read the words. I can only imagine what Mary and what the other people that were around for the bill of rights and said well, freedom of speech is way too vague.

Ted Simons:
>> We won't go back that far. You talked about motivation as far as the other side is concerned. Some are suggesting your motivation is stop universal healthcare before it gets past the first committee. Your response.

Eric Novack:
>> Absolutely not true. Supporters of proposition 101 are diverse group. There are people across the political perspective, republicans, democrats, conservatives and liberals. We have disagreements but we agree on one thing that no matter the fundamental rights to be in control of the healthcare are to be maintained. There are smart people across the political spectrum for the healthcare policy. I would ask Mary, which part of the initiative is unpleasant that people chose? That they should be able to pay for it? The government penalize you if you don't want it?

Ted Simons:
>> What's unpleasant?

Mary Rimsza:
>> it's an amendment on the state constitution. We have seen the havoc when we have things in the constitution that can't be changed easily. This needs to be an open discussion about how we want to go further with healthcare reform in this country. We shouldn't pick options off the table. This takes some of the best options off the table due to a constitutional amendment before we have a discussion.

Ted Simons:
>> We have to end the discussion right there. Thank you for joining us. We appreciate it.

Eric Novack:
>> Thank you for having me.


Ted Simons:
>>> Seven years after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, President Bush told nato officials today that the world must stand together against terrorism. The memories of 9/11, 2001, are still fresh for one man, Joe Dittmer, was in the world trade center when the airplanes hit. He was in phoenix last week to speak at the healing field, a display of nearly 3,000 American flags for the people who died in the attacks. Dittmer sat down with Merry Lucero to talk about his experience.

Joe Dittmer:
>> I'm here today to be their voice.

Merry Lucero:
>> With passion and patriotism, Joe Dittmer spoke to the crowd at the heeling field at Tempe state park on September 11th. He shared the memories of the date from 2001 for the display of flags one for each person who died this the terrorists' attacks on September 11th. He was on the 105th floor of the world strayed center south tower on 9/11, 2001, when the first airplane hit the north tower. Joe, thanks for sitting down to talk with me. You were in New York City on a business trip. Share with us what happened?

Joe Dittmer:
>> We saw the lights flicker and that's about you a we saw. A guy came in a volunteer fire marshal and told us to evacuate there was an explosion in the north tower. 54 people and basically all 54 reacted, we'll be fine. He said you have to leave. I can't leave until you leave. He got us escorted to the internal fire escape inside the world trade center to start the trip down.

Merry Lucero:
>> You decided to take the stairs down?

Joe Dittmer:
>> At this point you didn't have an option. Everyone was guided down. The option to use elevators didn't occur until people got to the 78th floor of the building at the sky lobby level. At that point i wound up making the best decision i ever made by thinking, you know what, i know the other building is the one that's been affecting but building in duress don't use an elevator because i was in the 75th and 72nd floor when the second plane hit our building. Unbelievable to feel what that felt like and experience that stairwell that we were in shook side to side 30-35-degree angles. Not just a little bit, concrete cracking and spider-ring of the handrails breaking away from the wall. Amazingly we were three or four stories below the impact level because the plane went in through the 78th and 82nd floor. Hundreds and thousands of people waiting for elevators were killed instantly.

Merry Lucero:
>> did you know what happened at that time, or did you know it was an explosion?


Joe Dittmer:
>> All of you outside knew before we did. We started in a closed conference room, didn't see, sense, smell or feel anything. On the 90th floor we looked out the window and got out of the fire stairwell, something we shouldn't have done. Saw the holes in the building, signs of fuselage of the plane. North cell tower wasn't working and cell service was gone land lines are basically gone and we are inside the building and don't have a clue.

Merry Lucero:
>> You were on the way down, you encounter the firefighters and police officers on the way up.

Joe Dittmer:
>> The 35th floor we finally had the chance to meet with firefighters and police and paramedics from New York. We knew that they knew they were going to fight a fire they couldn't beat, going to save lives that they couldn't save and they were going to go up and they knew they were never going to come down. I don't know how you can do something like that, that's incredible.

Merry Lucero:
>> Once you got out on the street-level, what did you experience?

Joe Dittmer:
>> all you first see is crumbled steel, twisted steel and crumbled concrete and red blotches and you knew what the red blotches were. They had bulldozers pushing it aside and it looked like war. It was an incredible sight. As they were pushing it, they screamed run, run, run, run. You do that for a while and you can't help yourself and get across the street from the complex and stop and turn around and you look back and you see--you see the ticker-tape of furniture and bodies coming from the sky. Absolutely incredible.

Merry Lucero:
>> have you had post-traumatic stress?

Joe Dittmer:
>> This let's me not have post-traumatic stress. I weigh more than i used to. I worry less about things, though, than I used to. I have a completely different outlook on life than i used to. As unbelievable as it sounds, in a lot of ways for me personally, this has been a blessing as opposed to a curse but I think it's because I'm willing to talk about it. I think it's my obligation to talk about it. If you were involved in an historic event of this nature, maybe the most historic event, it's my obligation to tell the story. 3,000 people lost their lives that day. And they lost their voices that day. I think it's my obligation to give them some level of a voice so that the lives they lost weren't lost in vain.

Merry Lucero:
>> Do you think it changed your political views surviving that personal event on that level?

Joe Dittmer:
>> I can answer that easy. No. It's so unpolitical. We talk about that a lot. 82 nations were attacked that day. People from the United States and all over the world lost their lives from the world trade center and at the pentagon. It's an un-or non-political event. Do I have a political view? Of course I do. I find it's given me and people like me to truly appreciate the liberties and freedom we have here and not take them for granted and say, hey, the folks that attacked us can't attack us with an army per se. They attack our style of life. They want us to crawl in bed and pull up the covers over the head and shake and fear that another terrorist attack is going to happen. Another terrorist attack will happen. There's no doubt. We know this is the way the terrorists work. They want us to live our lives in fear. Those who chose to get on a plane six days after the event like I did or those who chose to be out there about the way we live and do the things that we do, that's the way we fight back. We can't fight this with guns and bombs. We can only be what we are; be good Americans.

Merry Lucero:
>> The healing field is in its fifth year and 3,000 American flags have the name, age, occupation, and photo of the victim of the terrorists' attacks. A sunrise ceremony began the event and a candle light vigil closed the day.

Ted Simons:
>> The healing field is sponsored by the valley of the sun exchange clubs foundation. The healing field plans to be back at Tempe Beach Park next year.

Ted Simons:
>>> Supporters of prop 200 call it the payday loan reform act. Opponents say it's no reform at all. They'll debate the issue.

Ted Simons:
>>> Plus a progress report on the Roosevelt school district. Tomorrow at 7:00 on "horizon."

Ted Simons:
>>> That's it for now. Thank you so much for joining us. I'm Ted Simons you have a great evening.

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