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Fiscal Cliff Talks Hit a Wall; Belcher Family Responds to Killings; Murder-Suicide's "Forgotten Victim"; Bootless Man Not Homeless

Aired December 4, 2012 - 10:30   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Oracle has joined the list of companies paying dividends to its shareholders before the end of the month instead of January. If the country falls off the fiscal cliff dividends could be taxed as much as 39 percent next year. Right now the same investments are taxed at only 15 percent.

The White House wasted no time rejecting a GOP counterproposal on avoiding that fiscal cliff. The Republican plan totals $2.2 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years. Now, the part that stood out to us was the $600 billion in proposed savings in Medicare reforms in part by raising eligibility from 65 to maybe 67.

In turning down the proposal White House spokesman Dan Pfeifer singled out these items saying it, quote, "Provides no details on which deductions they would eliminate, which loopholes they would close, or which Medicare savings they would achieve.

Jason Johnson is a political science professor at Hiram College near Cleveland. He's also the chief political correspondent at Politics 365; and John Brabender is a Republican political consultant and former senior strategist in Rick Santorum's presidential bid. Welcome to you both.



COSTELLO: So I keep wondering, you know, why are the two parties negotiating in public? Wouldn't it be better if they negotiated behind closed doors, Jason?

JOHNSON: Well they're not going to negotiate behind closed doors because nothing gets done. I mean, what you see right now with that Republican proposal on Monday, first off it was similar to what the Democrats were offering in 2011. And also John Boehner is under a tremendous amount of pressure to look tough. The Republican lost really bad in November elections they want to beat their chests, they want to rattle sabres and say we're standing up to Barack Obama before they are eventually going to have to cave.

So that's why I think a lot of these negotiations are happening publicly. In the end it's going to be a private meeting and things are going to get done. COSTELLO: So John, do you agree?

BRABENDER: Yes I do. I think actually both sides should probably be embarrassed at this point. We are not in the "get it done" stage. We're in the "public relations" campaign phase. Both of them have put forward less specificity than you would see in a $50,000 mortgage application yet we're talking about $2 billion.

So I think both of them are trying to secure their position with the public and then we will see this get done as we get closer.

COSTELLO: So -- so John, let me ask you this, so will the Republicans at any point say, well, we kind of have to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans to get a deal done? Do you think that will happen eventually?

BRABENDER: Well, let's not forget, in their plan they are raising the tax on the wealthy but they're doing it in a way by getting rid of tax loopholes which they feel rather than raise the tax rates will have less of a negative impact on the economy. At the end I think that there will be a little bit of movement on their side possibly raising the dollar income level that we have for that and making so it's a combination of increases as well as loopholes but frankly, the President's policy of just trying to punish the rich is what he seems to be interested in is also counterproductive, frankly.

COSTELLO: I saw Jason Johnson shaking his head no.

JOHNSON: Yes, look this is not true. They haven't specified what any of these taxes are. They're trying to sell people a bridge and you don't even know where the bridge is going. So that's one of the reasons that the White House rejected the plan.

But here is the other reason why the Republicans are eventually just going to go along and raise taxes and deal. The most important number in this whole debate is 56. 56 percent of the public according to a recent poll will blame the Republican Party in Congress if this deal does not get done. They do not need another public relations hit after being shellacked in the November elections.

So I think essentially the Republicans they can dress up however they want, they're going to have to accept some tax increases. They lost this battle, they lost this election, and it's time for them to move on.

COSTELLO: OK. So -- so John, let me ask you this, and this may mean nothing at all, and I hear you, Jason, but I don't know. There was a -- there was a holiday party at the White House and you know, John Boehner was there and the President was there, and John Boehner didn't get his picture taken with the President. Does that mean anything in the grand scheme of life?

BRABENDER: No. But I think what is probably happening is there are more negotiations going on than are public. I think there's probably more dialogue than -- than is probably public. I think it's a disaster for both the President and for Speaker Boehner if this doesn't get done, but I do think that there are strong ideological differences.

Quite frankly, the President had promised that he would do more than two times as many cuts as raising taxes. Yet his plan does the opposite of that, and so I do think there are some ideological splits, but end of the day neither side can afford not to get this done. They'll both be blamed equally.

COSTELLO: I kind of think he's right, Jason. There's a sentiment out there that -- that Democrats actually want us to go off the fiscal cliff.

JOHNSON: Well, nobody wants anyone to go off the fiscal cliff. And the reality is we have to look over the last two years. The Republican Party established themselves as the party that was willing to let Americans entire credit rating go down the tubes in order to stop Barack Obama last year. So it's very clear that most people are going to see them as being the party that's being more obstinate.

The truth of the matter is they also because they lost so badly in the election nobody wants to be seen playing footsie with Barack Obama under the table which is what they're going to have to do in order to get this deal done.

But no, the Republican Party is going to end up being blamed which is one of the reasons they're going to have to compromise more. It's the same thing the Democrats did when Bush won. You have to compromise with the party that just won.

COSTELLO: Jason Johnson, John Brabender; thanks to you both.

BRABENDER: Thank you.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

COSTELLO: The New York film critics have made their choices for top films and many times they end up as Oscar favorites. All the details next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole world is going to want in on this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want targets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where was the last time you saw bin Laden?


COSTELLO: That's a clip from "Zero Dark Thirty," a new movie detailing the hunt for Osama bin Laden and it's one of the movies that's already winning an award, one that could be a good preview for the Oscars.

A.J. Hammer is in New York to tell us more. Hi, A.J. A.J. HAMMER, HLN HOST, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT": Hi, Carol. Well "Lincoln" is already off and running -- and "Lincoln" and its star Daniel Day- Lewis had a lot of Oscar buzz long before the film hit theaters. And now the New York Film Critic Circle is validating that buzz giving three major awards to the movie including best actor for Day-Lewis, best supporting actor for the great Sally Field and best screen play for Tony Kushner.

The other film that did especially well is the one we are just looking and talking about last hour "Zero Dark Thirty". The New York Film Critics gave that movie a big vote of confidence, they named it best picture. The critics also gave awards to Director Kathryn Bigelow and cinematographer Greg Fraser for the film.

There are 35 New York film critics who get to vote on these awards. Three of the past five winners in New York have gone on to win the Oscars, including Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker". So really not great news for some other early Oscar favorites this year including star- studded "Les Mis." The critics didn't give that musical any love.

"Argo", another action favorite that was snubbed by the New York critics.

So Carol, this announcement officially now gets the award season off and running is officially then time to start researching your Oscar pool just about three months from now.

COSTELLO: OK, it's a good idea. A.J. Hammer, thanks so much.

HAMMER: You bet.

COSTELLO: For more entertainment news watch "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" at 11:00 Eastern on HLN.


COSTELLO: The families of Jovan Belcher and Kasandra Perkins are responding to the murder-suicide that took both the couple's live. Belcher, as you know, is the Kansas City Chiefs linebacker who police say shot and killed his girlfriend Perkins in front of their home on Saturday and then drove to Arrowhead Stadium and killed himself. Belcher's aunt spoke to reporters.


MARY KIMBLE, BELCHER'S AUNT: We will cherish the wonderful memories we have of Jovan and pray that those memories will bring us peace as we grapple to understand the unpredictable and tragic ending of his life and the life of Kasandra Perkins.


COSTELLO: Kasandra Perkins' family released a statement saying, quote, "We appreciate the outpouring of love and concern for our Kasandra 'Kasi' Perkins. Our hearts are truly broke for 'Kasi', she was a beloved daughter, granddaughter, sister, mother, cousin and friend."

Let's talk about Kasandra a little more this morning. Diana Reese is a freelance journalist from Kansas City who posted an article on "She the People" the Washington Post women's blog. Good morning, Diana.


COSTELLO: I read your article and I was touched because I was listening to a sports radio talk show in my car driving home yesterday, and the guy on the radio referred to Kasandra Perkins as that woman who was shot who had a kid, and I was kind of stunned by that.

REESE: I -- I know how you feel. Yesterday my editor asked me to write a piece about the local reaction here in Kansas City to the murder/suicide, so I got on Twitter and Facebook and talked to some people and everything seemed to be this outpouring of grief and this mourning for this wonderful guy and just what could have happened? And he must have snapped and maybe it was repeated head injuries -- whatever.

And there was just not the mention of Kasandra. And finally there was one tweet from a second baseman of the Royals who said, "Hey, we need to remember, we need to remember her."

COSTELLO: And why she might have died. Police don't know for a fact, but people seem to be leaning towards domestic violence. I think in this country we're still confused by domestic violence for some reason.

REESE: I think we are, too, and honestly, I didn't realize just how pervasive of a problem it is. It really is an epidemic. I discovered yesterday that one in four women will be affected in some way by domestic violence -- or the new term is intimate partner violence -- and an average of three women a day are killed by a boyfriend or a husband.

So two other women died on Saturday besides Kasandra, and I actually found a Web site that told who they were. There was a woman in Chula Vista, California, with a 3-year-old, whose boyfriend stabbed her; and a 32-year-old woman who was shot by her boyfriend in New Orleans.

COSTELLO: And you could tell there's confusion, too, by the way the Kansas City Chiefs reacted because the day the game was played on Sunday there was a moment of silence. Neither name was mentioned, and you think at the moment of silence was in remembrance of domestic violence victims, maybe the Chiefs should have mentioned Kasandra's name.

REESE: I can understand why they didn't want to mention Jovan's name because of everything that had happened, but it really does seem like they should have had that moment of silence for her. She had been involved with the Chiefs -- there's an organization of Chiefs wives and girlfriends. She'd been involved with them. They all knew her. Her cousin is actually married to another Chiefs player. She should have been remembered by name, I think. COSTELLO: So when all is said and done and then this story goes by the wayside, as you know, most tragic stories do, sadly, as a country will we have learned anything?

REESE: Yes, true.

I hope that there's more awareness. If you have a friend who is in a situation that you think is abusive, maybe you need to talk to her. There are shelters and there are places to get help. One of the people I interviewed yesterday was the director of Safe Home which is a shelter in the Kansas City area. There is help out there.

I think that we need to be careful who the role models are for our sons. There's another program, Coaching Boys into Men, that works with sports teams and their coaches to -- of young kids to help them teach them how to treat women with respect. We need to get past that culture of violence, and we need to be raising boys that will treat women with respect and not resort to violence.

COSTELLO: Diana Reese, thanks so much. Appreciate you being here this morning.

REESE: Thank you.

It's a picture that should warm your heart. A New York City police officer giving boots to a homeless man, but now this story is taking a strange twist.


COSTELLO: A feel-good story might not be all it seems. You have probably by now seen the picture taken on a New York City street last month. A police officer buying and giving a homeless man a pair of boots.

But now there are reports in New York that say the man in the photo is not homeless. According to the city's Homeless Services Division, that man, Jeffrey Hillman, actually has stable housing.

So let's talk about that. Joining me now is Sister Simone Campbell, the executive director of Network. She speaks out for those who are less fortunate and lobbies lawmakers on issues of economic justice. Welcome, sister.

SISTER SIMONE CAMPBELL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NETWORK (via telephone): Glad to be back with you.

COSTELLO: Thanks for sticking around for us. We appreciate it. I think that, you know, when people say, oh, this isn't a homeless man after all, they might not feel as warm-hearted towards this person as they once did.

CAMPBELL: Well, you know, that may be the case, but the fact is that clearly he continues to have needs, and the report that I saw reported that he was a veteran that did -- had been homeless and got housing through the current effort to get homeless vets into permanent housing.

But there are two aspects here that I think are so important. One is the generous-hearted response of the police officer whose heart opened up and he responded to need he saw. That is a good news story. The second good news story is that this man, while struggling, clearly having problems being barefoot in New York right now, clearly with problems, had gotten some effective help through government programs.

So both -- in many ways it's a good news story. The sad news is that he continues to apparently sit on the street barefoot, and that's anguish to watch and wonder what is going on with him. And I hope that the folks that are continuing to work with him are working on those issues. But that's a lot bigger question.

COSTELLO: Yes. I think "The New York Times" reported that the boots were really expensive and he was afraid to wear them out because, you know, somebody might rob him of the boots so he's hidden the boots somewhere and that's why he's not wearing them. This is according to "The New York Times".

I was curious by the initial reaction to this photo, because you see people everyday just walking by homeless people, treating them like they're a nuisance, and yet this picture is taken and this outpouring of love. How do you like marry the two images?

CAMPBELL: It is tough, isn't it? I know I have a hard time just walking past homeless folks and feeling torn. I think when we have a single image, then it can touch our hearts and it's not in that apprehensive threatening way because you never know if folks have mental disabilities, what they will do.

I think our fears can rise up sometimes, but when we see one person, then our hearts are touched because we see, oh, my heavens, that could be me. I could be in that place, and we identify with the person.

That's the challenge in our huge nation, as rich as we are. We often don't know how to connect one on one. And the glory of this story is that it tells the generosity of one wonderful man, though I could understand how a homeless person would be terrified. The most valuable possession that he would have could be stolen. And sometimes we just don't appreciate the complexities of other people's lives.

COSTELLO: Sister Simone, thanks so much for sticking around. We appreciate it.

CAMPBELL: Glad to be with you.

COSTELLO: "Talk Back" question today: "Is Cory Booker's food stamp challenge helpful or a pointless exercise?" Your responses next.


COSTELLO: Starting to get cold, and that means fever season, especially for kids. But before you reach for those over-the-counter meds, listen to pediatrician and author Jennifer Shu's warnings in today's "Daily Dose". (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENNIFER SHU, PEDIATRICIAN: Over-the-counter acetaminophen may be used as early as a newborn period. We see many babies actually who have to get that kind of medicine for hospital procedures. Ibuprofen may be used after six months of age. All these medicines are based on a baby's weight so it's important to have a recent weight on your baby. And then you can check with your doctor about the proper dose.

Aspirin should never be used in children because there is a risk of developing a disease called Reye Syndrome. Reye Syndrome is a problem with brain swelling and liver damage that some children can get if they have a viral disease.

Over the counter cough and cold medicines are not recommended until 6 years of age or later. The risks often outweigh any benefits. Those risks include high blood pressure, fast heart raise, seizures, and other problems.


COSTELLO: All right. "Talk Back" question today -- "Is Cory Booker's food stamp challenge helpful or a pointless exercise?

This from Penny: "I have been on both sides of food stamps -- received them and distributed them. If Congress had to live a week on a fixed income, no expense account, they would have a different opinion about cutting public services."

This from Anderson: "It's a political move. You can't get food stamp assistance for a week and understand a family's plight for a lifetime. Booker has to live in the projects with limited health care without a car to see how things really are."

This from Marlene: "This effort will raise awareness. When was the last time you thought about what it would be like to have only $4.32 a day for food? I spend more than that for just salad stuff. Booker is wonderful to do this."

Keep the conversation going. Thanks for your comments.

And thanks for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello.

CNN NEWSROOM continues right now with Ashleigh Banfield.