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Standoff On The Fiscal Cliff; NATO Warns Syria: No Chemical Weapons; Chemical Weapons "Completely Unacceptable"; Royal Baby Ends Royal Discrimination; Bin Laden Movie in Political Crosshairs

Aired December 4, 2012 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT tonight, our lawmakers celebrate the holidays with a tree lighting, but they still can't see the light when it comes to the fiscal cliff, 28 days to go. What will it take to get a deal?

Plus, the stern warning for Syria from NATO, the use of chemical weapons will bring an immediate reaction from the international community. We ask our panel if the United States will go to war.

And a new Hollywood movie about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden sparks Oscar buzz and outrage. Questions over just how much confidential information the film makers had access to, an OUTFRONT investigation. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, let there be light. Finally, some bulbs turned on in Washington this evening. Well, on the congressional Christmas tree, that is, pretty beautiful, lights, love, camaraderie, song.

But while our lawmakers took some time to celebrate together, they still weren't showing any spark when it came to negotiating a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, which is the Christmas present the country needs.

Today, we heard President Obama's response to the proposal that House Speaker John Boehner put on the table yesterday.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The speaker's proposal right now is still out of balance.


BURNETT: Out of balance, kind of similar to what Republicans said last week when the president sent over his terms. So now what? Will they sit down and talk it through? Well, not according to at least one senior Republican aide who told CNN today, no conversations today, no e-mails, tweets, carrier pigeons.

As for Boehner and Obama, they actually did see each other in person, everyone, at the White House holiday party last night in black tie. While other lawmakers waited in line to get the photo with the president, multiple sources from both sides of the aisle tell CNN that Boehner wasn't among them.

Well, so much for holiday cheer, right? We have this picture. We're wait for the day there's a fiscal cliff. There wasn't total silence in Washington today. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke up, but in his case, in the form of a swipe.


SENATOR HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: I sympathize with John Boehner. The key party has a firm grip on the Republican Party, and that's obvious, what's happened this morning here in Washington.


BURNETT: That disconnect within the GOP was in the spotlight today. Tea Party leader, Senator Jim DeMint spoke out against Boehner's proposal to the president.


SENATOR JIM DEMINT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Republicans should not be conceding that the federal government needs more money, negotiating with ourselves, and treating the president's proposal like it's serious.


BURNETT: Very critical of John Boehner and DeMint's press release aimed squarely at John Boehner. I mean, this was a real punch in the face. The $800 billion tax hike will destroy jobs and allow Washington to spend more.

As you all know, John Boehner put an $800 billion tax hike as a center of his proposal. So John Boehner got rejected from the White House, which wants another $800 billion on top of that in tax hikes and then rejected by the right wing of his own party, which wants absolutely no tax hikes at all.

So unlike Harry Reid, I actually feel genuine sympathy for John Boehner so kudos, speaker, for showing deserters or dissenters who is boss. Boehner stripped four Republican House members all of whom have opposed leadership in the past of their key committee assignments today.

And earlier I spoke with one Republican leader in the House who himself has been out of step with Boehner in recent days, Deputy Whip Congressman Tom Cole of Oklahoma.

He said the GOP should agree to Obama's proposal to extend Bush tax rates for households that make less than $250,000. And they should do that deal right now, deal with the rest later.

Boehner said no way. And then Tom Cole said Boehner should not offer a counterproposal to the fiscal cliff deal the president presented. Boehner offered a proposal yesterday.

I asked Cole if he's frustrated with John Boehner.


REPRESENTATIVE TOM COLE (R), OKLAHOMA: No, not in the least. Look, I support the speaker and we're actually not very far apart on anything. And, you know, at the end of the day, he's going to negotiate a deal. It will probably be a challenging vote for a lot of people. I always support him.

I would expect I will again and try and persuade others. Just to be clear, I'm not for raising taxes on anybody. I think it's a mistake. I think all Republicans believe that.

However, you have to recognize the reality that at the end of the month, tax rates for every American that pays income tax are going to go up. So there is an area that we do agree with the president on. That is 98 percent of the American people, getting about 80 percent of this tax cut shouldn't have their taxes raised.

So my suggestion -- it was delivered, by the way, in private and leaked and put in public, but that's fine. I mean, it's certainly what I said. My suggestion was let's take the one area that we agree and take it off the table.

BURNETT: And -- but just to be clear, though, you actually think -- because this is when I saw your comment what I was so curious about, just from a negotiating standpoint. We had the super committee that failed, now we have the fiscal cliff, right?

And if those sorts of deadlines aren't enough to get a deal, if you actually were -- were going to break with your own party or say go ahead, we'll extend them for the middle class. Do you actually think that you would be able to negotiate a deal where they didn't go up on the top 2 percent at the beginning of the year?

COLE: You might be able to negotiate that deal. Again, I think a lot of people misunderstand, you know, what's happening with the 98 percent. Number one, I don't think you ever ought to use the American people as, quote, "leverage in a debate." That's a mistake. You don't treat people that way.

Second, much more importantly, it's not our leverage. It's the Democrats' leverage. They're the ones going around, hollering, my goodness, taxes are going to go up on everybody unless we do something. Let's just take that leverage away from them.

Our real leverage are the spending cuts, which Democrats don't want to make, and ultimately further on down the debt ceiling.

BURNETT: So let me ask you though, today Nancy Pelosi filed a petition to try to force a House vote later this month on extending the Bush tax cuts for families that make under $250,000 a year. As you just said, you stand by your support of that position, but you've said you wouldn't support the petition by Nancy Pelosi.

COLE: Well, I'd like to ask Leader Pelosi how many discharged petitions she supported when she was speaker. I mean, the reality -- that's a political game. It's not going to be helpful. It's not going to get anything done.

And no, I would never sign a discharge petition against my own speaker or my own conference. The way you do things is to negotiate. And frankly, the negotiation is going to largely involve the president of the United States and the speaker of the House of Representatives.

With all due respect to the other players, they're honestly less central to this. And if they can come to a deal, then I think we can avoid the fiscal cliff.

BURNETT: And do you think that -- somebody put this idea out here, and this idea is really vile. I'll use the right word. I think you'll agree. Here's the idea. Let's go off the cliff, just for purely political reasons, nothing happens immediately.

And then, you know, you all come back in session in early January, and you give the middle class a tax cut, and you give the wealthy a tax cut, they'll pay more than they're paying now but less than $39.6. Is that possibly what both sides are angling to?

COLE: Well, you use the word vile and I'll echo that word. I think going over the cliff is a disaster. I think responsible leaders negotiate the best deal that they possibly can, and let's try and get this done. I would not be for playing a game of chicken, if you will, or trying to fool the American people who are pretty dad gum smart when it comes to these sorts of things.

BURNETT: Do you fear the right wing of your own party, a wing that says any revenue, as you heard Jim DeMint say, no revenue. Revenue is just not going to be part of the deal. I mean, do you think that's going to be what hurts your party and makes you all fail on this?

COLE: Look, these are my friends and there are people I agree with on the issues, but look, rates are going up if we don't act. Some people act as if we can just hold tight and nothing will happen. The opposite is true.

We have to react to prevent a massive tax hike. But with all due respect to those people that say we're putting revenue on the table, the American people did that when they elected, you know, the president and a Democratic Senate again.

Again, they have to agree to a deal or tax rates on everybody go up. I think we should do everything we can to avoid that for as many people as we possibly can.

BURNETT: So far, four House GOP members, as we said, John Boehner has booted them from key committees for going against leadership. You're obviously the deputy whip. You are part of leadership. You have challenged John Boehner.

I mean, what you put out there, it may sound -- may sound very normal and calm and compromise-filled to many, but perhaps to him, it's a little bit of a slap in the face. Have you talked to him about it directly?

COLE: Yes, of course. I mean, look, I deal with the speaker on a regular basis. And he knows, look, I'm never going to undercut him and he knows when the tough votes come, and they're going to come, that I'll be there to try and support him and help him.

So he's not going to scold me because I offered in private, you know, my advice that was solicited and then when it was leaked actually defended in public. I don't think he would expect me to do anything else.

BURNETT: Well, it's good. It's good you stand by what you said. And I know we have to applaud when anyone chooses to do that in Washington, sir. thank you so much. Appreciate your time, Congressman Cole.

COLE: Thank you, Erin.


BURNETT: All right, a man who stood by what he said, even though it flew in the face of what others like Grover Norquist are most afraid of. Grover Norquist, a man who has a lot of influence on Tom Cole and a lot of other Republicans, the man behind the anti tax pledge, Grover Norquist is OUTFRONT.

Plus NATO warns Syria any use of chemical weapons is going to bring international response. What does that mean? That means the United States. What will the president decide to do?

And the president plans to shake up his diplomatic ranks heading into his second term. One report says he has his sights set on "Vogue" editor, Anna Wintour.


BURNETT: Our second story OUTFRONT, a stern warning to Syria, the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable. NATO says the use of these weapons of mass destruction will be met with an immediate reaction from the international community.

Former British prime minister and Middle East envoy, Tony Blair, had the same message for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad earlier today with Soledad O'Brien on "STARTING POINT."


TONY BLAIR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: If there was any sense at all that Assad was going to use chemical weapons or did use chemical weapons against his own people, I would expect a very tough response that would be military.


BURNETT: The question tonight is what role will the United States play in such a quote, unquote, "military response?" OUTFRONT tonight, Peter Brookes, former deputy assistant secretary of defense under the Bush administration, and Colonel Cedric Leighton, former member of the Joint Staff. Good to see both of you.

Colonel Leighton, let me start with you. If the United States were to get involved at this point, what would a serious U.S. military intervention in Syria look like?

COLONEL CEDRIC LEIGHTON, U.S. AIR FORCE (RETIRED): It would probably, Erin, start out with a no-fly zone type operation, similar to what we had during "Operation Southern Watch," which -- and "Northern Watch," which basically governed the skies over those parts of Iraq after the first Gulf War.

So that would be the first step. However, in order to secure things like chemical weapons, you would definitely have to look at using ground troops. It may not be U.S. ground troops, but the possibilities certainly exist that they might be used.

BURNETT: Of ground troops, which I think is the key words for all viewers out there, ground troops is a very different sort of concept than what many people thought about what would happen in Syria.

And Peter, I guess it comes down to this, about whether Bashar Al Assad would use chemical weapons. The rebels seem to be gaining ground. The chemical weapons are horrific. Would Bashar Al Assad use them?

PETER BROOKES, SENIOR FELLOW FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: It's a big question. It's an important question. You know, I'm kind of wondering, Erin, whether this was a regime decision. You know, this activity surrounding chemical weapons, or they saw a local commander, perhaps, doing some things.

And the international community wanted to send a message to everybody, including the Assad regime, saying that one of your local commanders may be getting out of line here and may use these weapons. You better crack down on it.

So it's not quite clear. The government knows more than we do but outside, it's not quite clear exactly what they were trying to get at here. Obviously, stop the use of chemical weapons, but who was going to use them? What their intent was, we still don't know that outside.

BURNETT: Right. And certainly, I would imagine even how secure they are given that we now know many of the rebels or some of the rebels have links to al Qaeda or other extremist groups. There are lots of risks here, Colonel Leighton.

And sources familiar with Assad is thinking at least are saying that his mood may be at this point, look, I'm going to end up being killed anyway. If I try to leave, I'm going to be killed by my own people and they sort of paint the picture of a very desperate man with nothing to lose. Does that scare you when you start to think about chemical weapons? LEIGHTON: Absolutely. Chemical weapons are the worst kind of weapons. You look at lethality rates that are almost 100 percent with the nerve agents like Sarin and VX, which are the type of nerve agents that the Syrians actually have.

And when you look at somebody who is cornered, they're going to act just like a rat would act, and they would go after the people that are attacking them. And they will do whatever they can to either take many people with them or lash out at the forces that they perceive to be occupying their country. So it's a very dangerous situation -- Erin.

BURNETT: Peter, I'm curious, when you talk about the depth of Syria's chemical weapons program. I mean, they do have some of the most advanced chemical warfare capabilities that there are, mustard gas, Sarin, possibly the VX nerve agent.

I'm curious as to how confident we are in what they have. I mean, a lot of people may think about this and harkens back to Iraq and weapons of mass destruction. Do we really know what Syria has?

BROOKES: Well, I mean, if you look at Syria, most people consider it to be a chemical weapon super power. It has the largest chemical weapons arsenal in the Middle East, maybe in the world. I think the level of certainty is pretty high regarding this.

This -- and I think there's obviously the signals that are coming out, the intelligence community must feel they really do have them. Now, once again, Erin, you know, intelligence -- you know, we're not omniscient.

We work in an imperfect world. We work with imperfect knowledge, but I think the level of certainty is pretty high and if they're used, you're certainly going to know.

BURNETT: Colonel Leighton, the civil war has gone on for 21 months. We've seen 40,000 people estimated to be killed. Tony Blair used that number today. The United States, it appeared, it learned a lesson from Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya saying we're going to sit this one out. It's another country's civil war. We're going to sit it out. Do you think intervention would have saved tens of thousands of lives or not?

LEIGHTON: I believe it would have, Erin. And intervention is always a very tough call to make in these situations and Syria is an ethnographic and demographic situation is a very, very complex one. So we would have gotten into a very difficult situation.

But a type of intervention using perhaps local troops from the region might have been something that could have worked early on. But 40,000 people is 40,000 people too many. And that is a real, real problem, not only for the people that are affected directly by it, but also for the entire Middle East.

BURNETT: Peter, final question to you. Do you think Bashar Al Assad will live through this? BROOKES: That's interesting. If you look at Saddam Hussein, if you look at Moammar Gadhafi, but I think he can get out of the country. I think what they really need to worry about, this guy is really worried about his being.

You know, Chaucheska and Romania at the end of the cold war being chased down the streets, going before the international criminal court, being like the fellows from former Yugoslavia.

I think that's what really worries them. But I think he definitely can get out of the country, even if he used chemical questions. It's really an open question. I'm not sure he's going to stay to the bitter end.

BURNETT: All right, we'll see, of course, whether the criminal court is in his future or what might happen to him. Thanks very much to both of you.

Still to come, a new Hollywood film about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, it's picking up awards, there is Oscar buzz about it. It's going to be a blockbuster and there is major controversy. Accusations are flying about whether the filmmakers were given classified information by the White House about the raid.

And baby mania sweeping through Britain, we're going to tell you how William and Kate's baby contains a centuries-old law that we are thrilled is changing.


BURNETT: Our third story, OUTFRONT, the royal baby craze. Everywhere you look there's talk of the most anticipated baby since -- yes, that's probably right, Suri Cruise. The U.K. is so moved by the news that the Duchess of Cambridge is expecting.

The deputy prime minister today said he expects a change in succession law that no longer dictates the next monarch must be male. This is a big thing. OUTFRONT tonight, Raha Lewis who covers the royal family for "People" magazine.

Raha, appreciate your taking the time. So explain this to me if you would. What is this law change?

RAHA LEWIS, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Essentially all it means is that it no longer makes a difference if you're a male or female, and you're in the line of succession to the throne. Both male and female will be treated equally, as of October, 2011.

BURNETT: OK, so it's retroactive. So if they can't get it fully passed, it's still OK. I mean, how far are we from actually seeing this law go through? Is there any doubt?

LEWIS: Well, actually, it was first announced in October, 2011. It went into effect immediately. It's going to be put into legislation. So it will be a little while before we see it in writing, but it was made effective as of October, 2011. BURNETT: All right, and so Prince William was seen going to visit Katherine at the hospital again today. How do we know about -- how she is doing? Obviously, given the situation they were forced to announce this much earlier than they ordinarily would have.

LEWIS: Right, right. Well, we know she is expected to be in hospital for the next few days. She is being treated, and he is by her side. And hopefully it won't be long before she's out and about again.

BURNETT: All right, well, thank you very much. Raha, we appreciate it. So much attention on this -- Kate Middleton.

All right, ahead, Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan with dueling speeches tonight reinventing themselves and the GOP.

And internet security pioneer, John McAfee, wanted for questioning in the death of his neighbor. He has fled from Belize, but tonight we actually know where he is and why he's there.


BURNETT: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT. We start with stories we care about, where we focus on our reporting from the frontlines, and we begin tonight in Iran.

The Navy there claims it has captured a U.S. drone, saying the drone entered Iranian air space over the Persian Gulf. But a U.S. defense official tells CNN that whatever device Iran has, it is not an actively operating Navy drone.

Officials say the Navy has fully accounted for all of its unmanned vehicles in the Middle East. Iranian state media meanwhile reports the drone was carrying out spy operations.

Well, internet security tycoon, John McAfee who is on the run from authorities says he is in Guatemala, but Belize police believe he's in Belize still. McAfee is wanted for questioning in the shooting death of his neighbor in Belize.

He says the government is trying to pin the murder on him. McAfee has hired a new lawyer. He told CNN McAfee chose Guatemala because it was, I'll quote him, "the closest and most immediate place to protect his life from persecution."

And former President George H.W. Bush is still in the hospital tonight for treatment of a lingering cough and bronchitis. He was supposed to be released over the weekend.

But a spokesman from Methodist Hospital in Houston tells OUTFRONT that doctors are being extra cautious with his care and are in hurry to send him home. They also told us the former president had a good day yesterday and that his conditioning condition is improving.

And this just in a moment ago: Mali government officials ands leaders of two armed rebel groups that have taken over the northern part of the country have agreed to end hostilities. Now, this is according to a "Reuters" report. The meeting between the officials and Ansar Dine and the MNLA -- those are the Tuareg rebels -- was being held in neighboring Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou. As part of dialogue going forward, the parties agreed to reject any forms of terrorism and extremism and respect human rights. We'll see if that actually moves forward.

It has been 488 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?

We're drilling for more oil at home. That could mean more jobs. Today, the Energy Information Administration said American crude oil production averaged 6.5 million barrels a day in September. That is the best, people, in 15 years.

And now our fifth story OUTFRONT -- we go from a good story to a bad one -- the fiscal cliff. Dissension within the ranks.

It seems that not recall Republican lawmakers and conservative groups are in lockstep with House Speaker John Boehner and his approach to the fiscal cliff.

Earlier, I spoke with one GOP House member who hasn't been on the same wave length as the speaker recently. He's in senior leadership. Here's what deputy whip, Congressman Tom Cole, told me about those who in his party who say taxes shouldn't be on the table.


REP. TOM COLE (R), OKLAHOMA: For those who say we're putting revenue on the table, the American people did that when they elected, you know, the president and a Democratic Senate again. Again, they have to agree to a deal or tax rates on everybody go up. I think we shouldn't -- we should do everything we can to avoid that for as many people as we possibly can.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT tonight, Grover Norquist, whose anti-tax pledge signed by most sitting Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill has been a major point of contention in this debate.

Grover, let me start by asking you, something, I'm following up on Congressman Tom Cole said. He said it's the American people who spoke. I mean, this was central to the president's plan, right? Raise taxes on the wealthy.

I know that you don't like it, you ardently don't agree with it. But didn't the American people speak?

GROVER NORQUIST, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN FOR TAX REFORM: Well, on the very day that they elected Obama by a few percentage points, the exit polls also asked, would you like to raise taxes to reduce the deficit, 63 percent said no. Eighty-six percent of the ads run for Obama were personal attacks on Romney. He won a stunning mandate to not be Romney. He did not run on the basis he was going to do massive new spending and the kind of tax increases, $1.6 trillion, that he's now talking about.

And at the same time that Obama was elected president, the Republican House, which had twice voted for a real budget -- remember, the president's budget he claims he has a mandate for was put up before the House and the Democrats all voted against it. In the Senate, the Democrats didn't want to have anything to do with it.

It's a little hard to argue, he had a mandate for something the rest of his party ran away from.

BURNETT: Well --

NORQUIST: And he did not run ads on those issues.

BURNETT: I mean, of course, it was a bit more complicated than that. But to your point about the exit polls, it's true, most people said that they didn't want tax increases to solve the deficit. What they said -- the majority of them, was they wanted both balanced. They wanted cuts and tax increases, which is what both John Boehner and the president -- in very stridently different ways have put forward.

NORQUIST: Well, one of the challenges you have is if you ask the question, would you be willing to tax the rich? Some people say yes. Second question, if it they tax the rich in a deal, do you think they'll also hit the middle class? Yes. If they raise taxes, do you think they'll just spend it as opposed to reduce the deficit? The majority say yes.

So there's a real question here about -- when you say would you like to raise taxes to reduce the deficit, people understand, as happened in '82 and '90, the Democrats promised to use tax increases to reduce the deficit, but they just spend the money.

BURNETT: Well, I mean, you could talk about what the money is going to be used for. I mean, we have a -- we have a big problem in terms of the deficits that we're running. But let me just ask you this crucial question about where we're going to go from here, Grover, because I know you have this kind of soul-searching moment in front of you, where you can keep going ahead and saying no revenue, right? It has to be revenue-neutral. And you might lose.

Or you can start to bend a little bit. Are you going to have to start to bend?

NORQUIST: Well, I'm in favor of more revenue. If you talk about the tax reform that Speaker Boehner has talked about in the letter that he and all the Republican leadership sent to Obama asking him to get serious about spending restraint, which he hasn't done yet --

BURNETT: But can I just clarify --

NORQUIST: Reduce rates and broaden the base. BURNETT: OK. But it didn't say for sure let's reduce rates.

NORQUIST: Yes, it did.


BURNETT: It opened the door to reducing rates -- John Boehner has put on the table before he would be willing to raise revenue without cutting rates.

NORQUIST: No, in the context of tax reform, I think the letter is very clear. In the context of tax reform, which reduces rates, broadens the base, and gives you economic growth.

BURNETT: OK, but you're not going to get that. Can we just be honest? You know that's not going to happen right now. I mean, it's not.

NORQUIST: OK. This is exactly what we were told two years ago, when we had the discussion on increasing the debt ceiling. The Democrats said you can't do it just with spending restraint. What happened? We did it just with spending restraint.

The Democrats and some in the press called that a failed negotiation. They didn't finish the sentence. We failed to raise taxes to let the government spend more money.

BURNETT: But we still were running trillion-dollar deficits.

NORQUIST: Yes, the government is spending too much money, and unfortunately, Obama has committed to spending more money. He has a trillion -- you talk about revenue, there's $1 trillion of tax increases baked into the cake because of Obama's 20 taxes in Obamacare. Ninety percent of those tax increases that Obama put into Obamacare were conveniently put in to take effect after he got re- elected to the presidency.

So there a massive tidal wave of Obama tax increases coming at the American people, starting in January. It has nothing to do with the fiscal cliff. But it has everything to do with Obamacare.

BURNETT: Now, it is true that a lot of those taxes did take place after the election. That's something we pointed out and is a fair point.

NORQUIST: Yes, 90 percent.

BURNETT: It's a fair point. But let me just ask you about the compromise we have to go to. Because like I said, again, to get this done, taxes are -- I mean, they're going to go up on somebody. I just believe that this is what is going to happen.

I think Tom Cole thinks it's going to happen. I think Tom Coburn thinks it's going to happen. I wanted to play a bite from him and get your reaction. Here he is.



SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: I'm OK to compromise even on some of my issues, if, in fact, we'll solve the problem. But what we have is a game being played for political -- for the extreme right wing and the extreme left wing in this country rather than coming together and leading and solving the problem.


BURNETT: So, Grover Norquist, if you had to accept the tax rates would go up, all right, just they're going to go up and they're going to go up on somebody. What would you really want in return? Not revenue-neutral. Real tax increases. What do you want in return?

NORQUIST: Well, I am in favor of revenue increases -- look, if you grow at 4 percent a year instead of 2 percent a year, Reagan levels instead of Obama levels or French levels, you get $5 trillion in additional revenue over a decade. We could pay down all of the overspending of Obama's first term by having 4 percent growth instead of 2 percent growth.


NORQUIST: And we know how to do it, because we did it under Reagan.

BURNETT: But why would you cut spending then, spending that's supposed to encourage the economy to get better so you get more growth and get rid of your deficits?

NORQUIST: I think -- well, I think we should, one -- first of all, we have to pay down the debt he ran up. We're spending $1 trillion more each year, the federal government -- we, the federal government is spending $1 trillion more each year than when Obama walked into office. It's that overspending that we need to bring down.

Raising taxes doesn't solve the overspending problem. It feeds it. And, again, we have been through this Lucy and the football thing in '82, in '90.


NORQUIST: We didn't take the advice of the tax increase last year, and we got spending restraint for the debt ceiling.

Remember, the Republican House has a tremendous power over the debt ceiling. So all this stuff about how we have to bend to the emperor's will isn't true.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Grover Norquist, thanks very much. We appreciate your taking the time tonight.

Let's bring in our CNN contributors James Carville and Reihan Salam, who also writes for "The National Review".

Good to see both of you.

James Carville --


BURNETT: -- Grover Norquist is not -- he's not bending. Not yet.

CARVILLE: Well, President Obama, or as Mr. Norquist refers to him, Obama -- President Obama has done something Mr. Norquist has never done in his life and that's get people to vote for him. And so, (INAUDIBLE) start of an election.

So I would also remind, Mr. Norquist, who conveniently forgets that president Clinton raised taxes on the wealthy and created 22 million jobs. President Bush cut taxes on the wealthy and created 1 million jobs.

So his economic expertise is a little behind here. But the truth of the matter is, everybody voted in this election, the president said he'd raise taxes on people earning over $250,000. That's what he's going to do. That's what's going to happen.

He has the authority of an election behind him. Running for office is a difficult thing to do, and the people that win the elections have a lot more moral authority than in a democracy than people who talk about elections.

BURNETT: I mean, Reihan, that does seem to be the point. I mean, you know, people like Grover Norquist may not like -- Republicans may not like it, but that wasn't what this election said American people want, the majority of them.

REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think it's certainly true you have a large number of Americans, 60 percent, according to a "Washington Post" ABC news poll who favor raising taxes on folks earning more than $250,000 a year.

But there are a couple other things to keep in mind, as well. President Obama often talks about returning to Clinton era tax rates.


SALAM: The thing is that he actually wants to raise much more revenue from high earners than the Clinton era tax code itself would have raised.

BURNETT: Fair point.

SALAM: Another thing to keep in mind is President Clinton also dramatically lowered capital gains taxes, and that generally benefited high-earners.

And so, a lot of folks believe that's something that balanced out against the increases on ordinary income. So, you know, that's something that arguably contributed to a lot of that surge in technology stocks and much else that created surpluses in the latter half of the Clinton presidency.

So, it's a more complicated picture. Definitely there are folks who want tax increases but let's not gloss over the fact that President Obama is talking about way higher taxes than we saw during the Clinton era on those high earners.

BURNETT: That is true, when you talk about capital gains.

All right. Want to talk about a party going on tonight. James, pretty good. There is a party going on, Jack Kemp Foundation is having a party.


BURNETT: And Marco Rubio is speaking. Paul Ryan is speaking. They both want to have complete makeovers.

You know -- Marco Rubio doesn't want to be the Hispanic guy who talks about immigration. And Paul Ryan doesn't want to be the Grinch that stole Medicare. Paul Ryan is standing there right now.

So, what do you think? Are these guys going to succeed? Are they the future?

CARVILLE: Well, if I was Paul Ryan, I would want to be something else. If I was selected vice president and I got slaughtered in my -- and my candidate got slaughtered in my home state, I would be looking to have a makeover also. I don't blame him.

I think that Senator Rubio could run on anything he wants. I agree. If he wants to run on economic expertise, perceived economic expertise, it's a good thing for him to do it. He should do that.

Paul Ryan decides that he wants to, know, not believe, that the best thing that makes a child study is toothache, because that's apparently what he believed before. If he wants to change his mind, that's his business too.

I don't fault any of these guys. And, you know, 2016, the sooner it starts, the better it is for us, Erin -- we, political commentators, the more politics, the better it is. And that's why we give --

BURNETT: Well, it looks like we're starting tonight, James, Reihan.

CARVILLE: Yes, all for it. He's great.

SALAM: This is actually a really interesting development, in my view. I think if you're looking at Paul Ryan, one thing you hear from folks in the Ryan camp, is that he was very eager to talk about poverty and a new war on poverty during the Romney campaign. But he didn't have much of an opportunity because the Romney folks were so risk-averse. And that's something he's going to talk about tonight.

Whereas Marco Rubio is someone who comes from a very scrappy, lower middle class background who wants to talk about upward mobility for all Americans. That's a theme that he's going to build out over the next two years and it's a theme that I think exactly what Republicans need to talk about.

The problem is, these guys have the music, it's not clear that they have the lyrics. It's not clear they have the policy substance yet that's really going to make this message resonate.

BURNETT: But they're young.

SALAM: They are young and they have a lot of really solid ideas. And they have the right broad message. But the question is, are they going to have the right policies, as well?

BURNETT: James, do you think these are the two -- these two are the future right now? I know it's early and it's hard to tell. But I mean, a lot of the Republican parties really invested in these two young men.

CARVILLE: Well, you know, from 1948 through now -- actually, 1944 through now, it's always been the senior person, the obvious person that got the nomination. They don't have one this time in the Republican Party so it's going to be interesting to see it air out here. But there's a lot more people.

My own governor, Governor Jindal, has been very vocal. He seems to be itching to pull the trigger in 2016, too. There are a lot of other people.

But, clearly, the people who are going to watch -- I just don't think that Ryan had a particularly good campaign. He didn't do anything for his ticket in Wisconsin. He didn't do very much across the board. He didn't show a lot.

But maybe he was constrained by the Romney people. I'll buy that. And let him go out and make his case.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thanks very much to both of you. It's interesting.

CARVILLE: Well, thank you.

BURNETT: Because minorities rising in the Republican Party, a party that can't seem to get its act together when it comes to minorities. This is going to be a fun game to watch.

OUTFRONT next, a new Hollywood film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden hasn't opened yet but is attracting serious controversy because we have new details on how much confidential information the filmmakers had access to about what happened on that raid.

And President Obama has prepared to make some big changes to his administration and one report says he could turn to the editor of "Vogue" for one of the top posts in the country.


BURNETT: Welcome back. Let's check in with Anderson Cooper with a look at what's ahead on "A.C. 360" -- Anderson.


Yes, we're keeping them honest on the program. Take a look. A live picture on Capitol Hill, and here's what's happening there right now -- nothing, at least on the most important issue facing the country, the fiscal cliff. There has been zero progress on a deal, no behind the scenes negotiating. No staff level talks, even. Nothing.

Former Senate majority leader George Mitchell has ideas on how to get a deal. We'll also speak to a political panel, Erick Erickson and Rich Galen.

And what it's going to take to stop the suffering in Syria. We show heart breaking pictures of these like a family fleeing incoming shell for 21 months now. We know it's hard to watch. We think it's worth making sure the world knows what is happening inside the country right now. Senator John McCain has also been keeping a close eye on Syria. You'll hear from him tonight.

Plus, this is the image of a man in the final seconds of his life about to be struck by a subway train. The picture made the front page of "The New York Post." We'll ask Dr. Drew Pinsky about why he was being photographed instead of rescued. There was a lot of people standing around on the platform. Should they have gotten involved?

Those stories and tonight's "Ridiculist", a lot more at the top of the hour -- Erin.

BURNETT: Anderson, we'll see you in a few minutes.

And now our fifth story OUTFRONT: did Hollywood get access to classified information?

"Zero Dark Thirty" is a new thriller. It's about the daring operation in which Osama bin Laden was killed. It hasn't opened yet but it's already gotten Oscar buzz and it is shrouded in controversy.

Republicans say the Obama administration gave directors unprecedented and possibly inappropriate access to classified information. The White House denies this.

OUTFRONT on the story, CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't think she's a little young for the hard stuff?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Washington says she's a killer. BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a Hollywood spy thriller with as much as Oscar buzz as it has controversy.

"Zero Dark Thirty," the story hunt for Osama bin Laden from the Oscar winning powerhouse team of Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, recreates how it all happened, from the female CIA analyst who finally figured out where he was hiding to the Navy SEALs who killed him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are two narratives about the location of Osama bin Laden.

STARR: The controversy? The Obama administration has faced accusations it gave undeserved access to the filmmakers. In real life, everyone involved in the hunt for bin Laden remains sworn to secrecy.

But the filmmakers say they got firsthand accounts. They just won't say exactly how that happened.

MARK BOAL, WRITER/PRODUCER, "ZERO DARK THIRTY": I think as a reporter you would understand we take protecting our sources and sort of the exact methodology of our sourcing pretty seriously -- just in the same way if I asked you how exactly did you source that story.

STARR: Kathryn, when you hear Mark talk this way, do you -- are you a journalist or a filmmaker?

KATHRYN BIGELOW, DIRECTOR/PRODUCER, "ZERO DARK THIRTY": That's a good question. Well, I certainly try to be as faithful to the research as possible and make a good movie and make a film that was timely.

STARR: But how much access they got is the issue.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Obviously, things went wrong here.

STARR: Congressman Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, first called for an investigation at both the CIA and the Pentagon.

KING: There was an event where operatives were involved and they did not know until they got there that the Hollywood people were going to be present. So, which means their identity would have -- would have been shown.

STARR: King questions whether the military was pressured to cooperate on the film.

KING: What access they were told to give, some resisted, some acquiesced.

STARR: But a senior military official denies the SEALs were pressured. CIA and Pentagon officials say no secrets were given away. KING: My understanding is the Hollywood people got access to CIA operatives, CIA locations, that they had access to Navy SEALs, which they should not have had. And I can't really go beyond that other than to say that now, this investigation has gone on and it's been expanded.

STARR: Boal says he and Bigelow were very aware of national security concerns.

BOAL: We're acutely aware that there are sensitivities around this material, and I think we approached this with a lot of respect for those sensitivities.


BURNETT: Pretty -- I really want to see this movie. But, I mean, it does raise a legitimate concern about how much cooperation there is between the CIA, between Hollywood, between the military.

STARR: It does. I mean, there's a long-standing relationship with Hollywood and the CIA and the U.S. military. But, you know, since 9/11, this has been a very sexy thing, the Navy SEALs, the commandos, the CIA agents. Everybody likes to watch this kind of movies and the real question here, is did it get out of hand, did the government just let them have too much access.

BURNETT: And get too wrapped up. What about the members of SEAL Team 6? Because, obviously, you have one member, you know, who came out --

STARR: He wrote a book.

BURNETT: Now we know who he is. He wrote a book in violation, supposedly --

STARR: Right. These guys are sworn to secrecy and their own commanders have really been cracking down, saying to all of them, keep your mouth shut. You sign an oath of secrecy, you must obey it.

And they have concerns that it's just, again, too much information. This was supposed to be one of the most secret operations in the history of the United States. We all seem to know an awful lot about it.


So what is going to be the outcome here? Because it seems that they -- you know, because the operation was so significant, you don't want to set a precedent that something inappropriate might have happened and people might have gotten away with leaking.

STARR: Right. According to Congressman King, his feeling is the movie makers, it's a free country, you can make whatever movie you want. He has no problem with that.

BURNETT: Yes. STARR: He wants to see the CIA and the Pentagon tighten up the rules a little bit, make sure they're following the rules, make sure that these people aren't getting -- movie makers aren't getting into classified meetings, meeting people they're not really supposed to meet because they're undercover.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to Barbara Starr.

STARR: Sure.

BURNETT: Pretty interesting, a movie that gets a whole lot of discussion, controversial and otherwise.

President Obama is planning to shake up his diplomats heading into his second term. And "Vogue" editor-in-chief Anna Wintour is reportedly on the shortlist. Our view.


BURNETT: President Obama is about to shake up his diplomats and a couple of prized positions could be open, ambassadorships to France and the United Kingdom. And according to a "Bloomberg" report out today, on the short list for both is Anna Wintour, the very influential editor-in-chief of "Vogue" magazine since 1998.

Now, she has been criticized for a demanding personality but she has been praised for keeping "Vogue" relevant in the ever-changing world of fashion for almost 25 years. She's a lion in her business.

But that's probably not the reason she's being considered for the jobs. Ambassadorships are increasingly used as rewards for top level political supporters and Anna Wintour was a very good political bundler -- financial bundler for President Obama during his campaign. She hosted two fund-raising dinners this summer at $40,000 a plate.

The president appreciates that sort of thing. Politicians do. He's already appointed other big backers to top posts. Back in 2009, telecom executive Donald Gips got South Africa. Investment banker Louis Susman, the United Kingdom. And the Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney got Ireland.

It's not just this president. Over the years, the number of people who donated their time and money to Democratic and Republican candidates have been tapped for high profile posts after the election. It happens all the time.

But should this be the way it is? There are so many career diplomats who do work overseas, wonderful work, and maybe it's time for us to decide what we think an ambassador really should be. Is it a position designed to represent American interests around the world by a skilled diplomat? Or is it just a great way to say thank you to our friends?

Well, thanks for joining us. Tomorrow on OUTFRONT: Amy Copeland. We are so excited for this. You will recall the college student who struggled with a flesh- eating bacteria. We have been following her recovery. It's been miraculous. She joins us tomorrow.

Anderson starts now.