tv ABC World News With Diane Sawyer ABC January 5, 2011 6:30pm-7:00pm PDT
economy. >> world news is up next. >> and from all of us here, thanks for watching. we'll see you tonight on "world news," in charge. a dramatic day in america. a new congress, a new speaker, with a giant new gavel. and we sit down with some tea party mavericks on their day one in d.c. the general's wife. going into battle to protect military families from financial predators here at home. autism outrage. the doctor who linked autism to vaccines. was just it a fraud, a crime? was it for money? modern bride. we now learn from tweets about prince william and kate's big day. is that girl all alone in the cinderella carriage history? good evening.
the drama of democracy in action in america unfolded under the capitol dome today. the people voted in november, and today, for the 112th time, a new congress entered the halls. and this time, power was transferred from speaker nancy pelosi to the new speaker, john boehner of ohio, and his army of republicans galvanized by the tea party. jon karl was there for the historic transfer of power and tells us about it tonight. jon? >> reporter: diane, after a hard-fought and bitter campaign, that left some deep scars, today, we saw a great american tradition. the peaceful and at times even cheerful transfer of power. a new republican era in the house has begun. >> the people voted to end business as usual and today, we begin to carry out their instructions. >> reporter: the new speaker -- >> do you solemnly swear --
>> reporter: ohio's john boehner. son of a bar owner who worked his way through high school as a janitor, now just two heartbeats away from the presidency. >> the american people have humbled us. they have refreshed our memories to just how temporary the privilege of serving is. they remind us that everything here is on loan from them. that includes this government. >> reporter: it's the culmination of a lifetime's ambition and a hard-fought election. known for bouts of emotion, boehner teared up even before getting to the speaker's chair. on this day, little sign of the deep divide that now defines congress. even shared smiles with his bitter rival. >> i now pass this gavel, which is larger than most gavels here, but the gavel of choice of mr. -- speaker boehner. i now pass this -- >> reporter: but speaker pelosi, the first woman to be called
speaker of the house, would not turn over the gavel without a fight, touting her record, especially the health care reform bill that helped lead to her party's defeat. >> pregnant women and cancer patients can no longer be thrown off their insurance. our seniors are paying less for medical prescriptions. taken together, it will save taxpayers $1.3 trillion. >> reporter: for his part, boehner steered clear of policy, leaving the fight to another day. >> we will not always get it right, and we will not always agree on what is right. my belief has always been that we can disagree without being disagreeable. >> reporter: one more thing about that gavel, diane. as you can see from these two pictures we'll show you, it does, in fact, dwarf the size of the gavel that nancy pelosi received four years ago. but this is a gavel that has personal significance to boehner. it was made by a friend of his in ohio, and given, diane, as a
gift to him for this occasion. >> okay, jon, thank you. and from gavel to everything else, i want to bring in george stephanopoulos, who is here with us now and has seen so many of these transfers of power. george, what was marked for you today? >> reporter: well, you look at that gavel, that was actually the only over the top thing of this entire ceremony, and that was very much by design by speaker of the house john boehner. first, it's rooted in who he is. he's a humble guy. his first line in his speech is, it's still just me, guys. secondly, the republicans now know the times, they know there are still tough economic times. and diane, it's rooted in their reading of history. they looked back to the last time republicans took control of the house in 1994 and they believe that newt gingrich's overreaching helped re-elect bill clinton. they do not want to re-elect barack obama. >> but this was a seismic event, a big day. what are they thinking today at the white house as they observed it and planned their own strategy? >> reporter: let the republicans have their day. in the white house, they're feeling pretty good about how they came out of the lame duck
session. the president had a good vacation. what they're focused on now, getting their own house in order. could have a chief of staff before friday. then they're going to focus on the state of the union, when the president will be in that chamber january 25th. >> okay, george, thank you. and seismic, of course, because of the tea party energy, in part. and as we told you yesterday, the distant tea party thunder has now arrived in congress. and we met a lot of the 87 republican freshmen, half of them are from the tea party, yesterday, as we made our way across the capitol. and we gathered ten brand new members of congress together to mark this moment, after the fiery rhetoric of the campaign. this is the day they have to start delivering. here they are. the beltway version of a motorcycle gang, riding in on a wave of taxpayer and tea party discontent. and now, it's their turn.
i just want to go around each of you and ask you to give me the one word that best expresses what you felt when you walked in, knowing you were here. >> humility. >> determined. >> the imminence of the problems. >> expensive. >> reporter: you mean, as in -- >> washington is expensive. it costs the american people a lot of money. >> i'd say humility. >> reporter: but what about congressman brooks who fiercely attacked the former speaker, nancy pelosi? >> what is the message to washington? fire pelosi! >> reporter: what's the first word going to be when you see her? >> my first word will be "hi." on a personal level, be happy to go out to lunch with her, chat with her, but we're going to fight pretty hard when it comes down to some of the basic beliefs that we have. >> and, you know what, i'm conservative but i'm not mad about it. i can do it with a smile on my face and we can have civil discourse. >> reporter: there was a sense that everybody had come to storm the place. >> i couldn't disagree more. i could not disagree more. the idea behind the tea party
movement is neither partisan nor is it angry. i don't think we're angry. >> i do think that the people of the united states have been angry. and for the right reasons. the bottom line is, our government hasn't listened. >> reporter: so, what are they going to do on that first really tough vote? will they actually allow the u.s. to default on its ious rather than vote to raise the amount the u.s. can borrow? their own speaker, john boehner, says it's an adult moment and should be raised. the white house economic adviser says raise it, or -- >> the impact on the economy would be catastrophic. >> reporter: it will be catastrophic. that it will be the first time in history that there will be a default by the united states caused by insanity. >> there's got to be a time when you say no, you say no more. we've got to get our house in order. >> reporter: but when they're saying it would be catastrophic. >> they present it as a false choice. what about we spend what we take in?
>> reporter: they told us, they want to use this vote as leverage for promises to cut in the future. but the democrats have a challenge for the republicans, saying, if you're going to cut spending, go ahead and start close to home. congresswoman vicky hartzler of missouri got more than $750,000 in taxpayer subsidies for her farm. are you ready to vote against all farm subsidies? that's $20 billion by one estimate, at least. >> well, i think everything should be on the table. and, yes, there's a lot of us farmers that have participated in the program. >> reporter: congressman stutzman of indiana got more than $100,000. >> yes, i -- i would vote to eliminate farm subsidies. it manipulates the market. and that's the problem here in washington. the adult conversation, i think, has to be no. >> i'm ready to start the discussion and look at it. >> reporter: not a yes yet? >> i think we need to make sure that everything is looked at before we just pick on the
farmers. >> reporter: and on the promise to repeal health care reform, democrats ask, will they be giving up their new taxpayer subsidized insurance? only two of them said they would. >> first of all, congress should not be exempt from rules they passed and that's exactly what happened here. in fact, i asked everybody to denounce that. because we shouldn't be taking that, unlike anybody else. >> i'm not taking the health insurance, either. >> reporter: the rest of you who are now renouncing it, how do you answer this? >> there's a big difference between receiving health insurance through one's employer on the one hand and on the other hand, establishing a national regulatory program that tells people where to go to the doctor and how to pay for it. >> reporter: but the taxpayer doesn't have an option but to support it. >> look -- >> reporter: the taxpayer -- >> health care regulation is fundamentally a creature of state law. this is a state issue. >> reporter: we'll let you know later what each of them decides. but for now, they are in total
87 new americans, farmers, pottery store owners, just trying to find their way around a new life and a new town. >> my wife and i, we were surprised to discover that to buy a place where you can park your car costs more than our first house. that was remarkable. >> reporter: who is going to live in their office? >> i'm one of the sleepers. >> reporter: what, do have a sleeping bag, a sofa? >> a blowup mattress. they work very well. >> i'm going to be living with my dad. >> reporter: what is he going to say about that? >> i don't know. we'll see. most people already have their kids move out after college. i'm 47 and moving back in. >> reporter: and everyone coming here said they'd seen that jimmy stewart movie about mr. smith. >> jimmy stewart wins. >> reporter: how many of you see yourselves still here in ten years? really? really? two years? >> i don't think it's about us, individually.
it's about what needs to be changed for the country. >> we could pass a balanced budget and term limits and i'll go home next week. i want some rules in washington and then i'll go back and be a doctor. >> so help you god. congratulations. >> there are many of us, probably, yell at our tv in frustration over, you know, what in the world are they thinking back there? now you have an opportunity to actually have a voice. >> no matter what happens, the most wonderful country in the world and office is just a real humbling and solemn duty. >> and the full conversation will be on abcnews.com. and, we have to mark another milestone today. barbara mikulski, 74 years old, just became the longest-serving female senator in history. and we're going to tell you more about her story later this week. but way to go, senator mikulski. with all those grand entrances on capitol hill, one notable exit at the white house. press secretary robert gibbs announced he will step down in early february after nearly two years in the post.
and seven years as one of the president's closest advisers. he plans to step back and recharge, unless something new comes along. >> i told the president i'm happy to serve as ambassador to italy in the second administration. >> he called his time with the president the opportunity of a lifetime. and coming up next, a crucial and wrenching decision made by parents every day. they know that vaccines protect their children from serious illness. but many still fear that the vaccines might cause autism because of all of the reports through the years. well, tonight, there is new outrage over the doctor who first reported a link, only today, to be debunked, and now he stands accused of deliberate fraud? and it may have cost children some of their lives because of the consequences of the diseases without vaccines. here's dan harris. >> reporter: this is the man who changed the way many parents make decisions about the health
of their children, and who tonight is being accused of telling lies that have hurt families worldwide. in 1998, dr. andrew wakefield, a british surgeon and researcher, released a study of 12 children, eight of whom, according to their parents, started displaying "behavioral symptoms" in an average "6.3 days" after being vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella. >> the work certainly raises a question mark over mmr vaccine. >> reporter: the doctor set off a global firestorm. for some parents of autistic children, it is now an article of faith, that vaccines are the reason their children cannot function normally in the world. but today, a prominent medical journal said the doctor's study was, in fact, an elaborate fraud. >> i think what dr. wakefield did was a moral crime, if not an actual crime. >> reporter: working for the british medical journal, investigative reporter brian deer compared the actual medical records of the 12 children to
the symptoms reported by dr. wakefield, and he says he found that wakefield changed the data. according to the report, some of the children dr. wakefield claimed had autism were, in fact, perfectly healthy. and some of the children he claimed got sick after being vaccinated were, in fact, sick before the vaccine. all of which raises the question why this purported fraud. >> i think his motive was money. >> reporter: according to deer, wakefield was paid around $750,000 for his research by lawyers who were trying to sue the makers of the measles vaccine. tonight, many in the medical community are reacting with outrage, pointing out that after dr. wakefield's study, vaccination rates dropped dramatically. >> what's happened is, children have suffered and have died because of the false notion that vaccines cause autism. >> reporter: dr. wakefield has consistently denied any wrongdoing, and though he has been stripped of his medical license, he is still out pushing his theories.
dan harris, abc news, new york. and, still ahead on "world news," vulnerable military families and general petraeus' wife springs into action. also, the wedding planner. the splashy new details about william and kate's big day, just revealed. [ sneezes ] client's here. whoa! that achy cold needs alka-seltzer plus!
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we learned today that the white house is set to make a high level appointment tomorrow, naming an official to help out america's military families. the name is familiar. petraeus. but it's not general david petraeus, but his wife, holly. as sharyn alfonsi reports, she's going to be helping vulnerable families targeted by scam artists. >> reporter: diane, a mother of three, was fighting in iraq when she learned she had been scammed by an auto dealer, who illegally sold her a car and then left town. >> i have no doubt i was targeted because i was military. >> reporter: thousands of miles away, but worried about the fallout back home. three-fourths of financial counselors say they have dealt with members of the military who have fallen victim. it's a cause dear to the heart of holly petraeus. she grew up a military brat, married petraeus two months after he graduated from west point, moving their home, her family, two dozen times over 36
years. but outside each base, she told our austin, texas, affiliate, she noticed the same thing. lenders lined up. >> oh, right outside the gates as you drive by a military installation, you see that sort of thing right by the gates. >> reporter: high interest loans, bogus credit plans. and rent to own programs. all preying on young service members. so, the general's wife started advocating for military families on consumer issues. and when the president named elizabeth warren to the protection bureau, holly petraeus marched right in to see her. >> we did the polite, shook hands, sat down. and i mean, we had been sitting there two minutes when she starts in on, here's what's going wrong and here's what's going wrong. and i thought, well, this woman is a ball of fire. >> reporter: in a recent poll, service members say they're more stressed out about their finances than even going to war. so, while her husband leads forces in afghanistan, back home, the general's wife is waging her own battle.
protecting the people who protect us. sharyn alfonsi, abc news, new york. and, coming up, the latest on that $380 million lottery. as a manager, my team counts on me to stay focused. so i take one a day men's 50+ advantage. it's the only complete multivitamin with ginkgo to support memory and concentration. plus it supports heart health. [ bat cracks ] that's a hit. one a day men's. another heart attack could be lurking, waiting to strike.
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chattering today about the wedding plans the world is waiting for. prince william and kate middleton. some of the big questions were finally answered and our nick watt is on it. >> reporter: first of all, the bad news. kate and will will marry at 11:00 a.m. london time, that's 6:00 a.m. in new york, 3:00 a.m. in l.a. you guys will have to get up pretty early on april 29th. here's what else we know. kate will be driven by car to westminster abbey, william and the altar. >> she probably wanted to avoid the comparisons to the late princess of wales who arrived in that beautiful golden glass carriage. >> reporter: after eight-year-olds of courting, this archbishop will marry them, this bishop will say a few wo words, then, they will ride, yes, in a carriage, through streets lined with thousands of well-wishers to buckingham palace. there will be plenty of that flag-waving the british are so famous for. these details were released
today on twitter. they've asked the queen to hold the reception at her place and charles to host a private dinner, followed by dancing. >> i think it's going to be a fantastically exciting day. the one thing the royal family do very well is celebrations. >> reporter: yes, they will kiss and wave from that balcony, just as william's parents charles and diana did, nearly 30 years ago. nick watt, abc news, london. >> that wonderful, and a little scary balcony, i expect, for a new bride. great to have you with us tonight. we'll see you right back here tomorrow. until then, good night. san francisco rolls out the red carpet for the biggest prize in sailing but will enough teams compete. >> also san francisco police renew the case for the use of tasers and then this....
>> i have the sacred trust that goes with it to the new speaker. >> after four historic years, nancy pelosi passes the gaf el to the new republican leader. >> i'm nannette miranda, governor swarzenegger left behind a $20 million piece of art and governor brown is wondering what to do with it. good evening. san francisco's police chief is renewing his call to arm his officers with tasers. vic lee is here with the latest developments. >> carolyn, dan, this is second officer-involved shooting in two weeks in san francisco. chief george gas con believe that as its may provide a good option -- tasers and he wants to see that his officers need more training.
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