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GOP & Democrats At Fiscal Cliff Standoff; Obama Demanding Tax Hike On Wealthy; Dave Brubeck Has Died; Jobs Being Slashed Or Moved; Jobs Being Slashed or Moved; Feds Probe Dolphin Deaths; Jazz Great, Dave Brubeck ,Dies

Aired December 5, 2012 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Suzanne Malveaux. I want to get right to it. The big battle over the fiscal cliff getting increasingly contentious. As we know, time is running out, just 27 days to go until more than $500 billion in automatic spending cuts and tax hikes actually kick in. Now, the president, he is standing firm saying there's not going to be a deal unless taxes for the wealthiest Americans go up. The president is offering $400 billion in cuts from entitlements, but he also wants to spend $50 billion more on infrastructure. Now, we go to House speaker John Boehner. He is offering $800 billion in increased revenue. He also wants much deeper cuts in entitlements and $800 billion in other cuts in spending.

So, we've got reporters all over this in Capitol Hill as well as the White House. So, I want to start off with you, Dana Bash on the Hill. A standoff here, Republicans essentially saying, look, the president is not being reasonable here, and then you got the White House saying this is magic beans and fairy dust. So, is this a lot of posturing here? Are we really at an impasse?

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes to both of those questions. We -- there is a lot of posturing, but we do seem to be at an impasse. I want to show our viewers some video that will illustrate just what we're talking about and that is pictures of members of the House of Representatives leaving for the week. And now, I don't want tower viewers to get concerned. The calendars on the desk tops are not wrong. It is still Wednesday. And this did happen at noon on Wednesday. It would be nice if all of us could do that, but --

MALVEAUX: Yes, really.

BASH: This is -- but this is not an accident. Republican leaders say that they just simply have nothing to vote on right now on the floor of the House. And, you know, it helps them illustrate the whole message that they're sending out which is that the ball is in the president's court. It is up to him to respond to the Republicans, at this point. And until then, there's not a lot for rank-and-file members of the House to do. Listen to what the speaker said about where he thinks things stand right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN BOEHNER, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: And if the president doesn't agree with our proposal and our outline, I think he' got an obligation to send one to the Congress, and a plan that can pass both chambers of Congress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: So, that's where things stand. Republicans say that they are waiting and they have a very deliberate strategy, you heard part of it right there from the House speaker, to try to make the president look like he just won't move, like he is being unreasonable both on the process, but also on the substance. The other point that John Boehner hit home hard in his press conference today was that Republicans, in their counter offer, are also -- insist also saying that they think it's OK to raise taxes effectively on the wealthy. They just don't agree with the fundamental difference between the two of them which is how to do it.

MALVEAUX: Sure.

BASH: Of course, the White House, the president wants to raise it on tax rates. The Republicans say, no way.

MALVEAUX: Dana, is there any concern, among Republicans, because we know they're not all kind of lining in lock step on what to do here, that this doesn't look good, the optics of it all, them leaving and going home. A lot of people look at this that and go, really, you're not going to try, stick around, get more work done here? I mean, are they worried it could backfire?

BASH: I actually asked the speaker that very question, and he said, look, I'm here. I'm going to be here. I'm going to be waiting for the president to respond. So, certainly, there is some concern, but as one Republican told our Deirdre Walsh just a short while ago, look, it is what it is. It is the reality. The reality is there is a lot of waiting going on, on both sides, but particularly right now when it comes to Republicans. One of the sort of subplots that we've been talking about here, Suzanne, I think you and I talk about it about it yesterday, is the conservative backlash inside the Republican Party against the speaker for this counter proposal they put forward that has $800 billion in new tax revenue. We were outside this meeting that Republicans had today, and we thought that maybe there would be some of that vocalized.

MALVEAUX: Yes.

BASH: It didn't happen, according to many sources, that they say that they're united behind the speaker in what he is trying to do right now which is just move the process forward.

MALVEAUX: OK. Dana, thank you. Let us know if anything comes of that. If it does move forward.

President Obama made the fiscal cliff case to business leaders today. Our Dan Lothian is at the White House. So Dan, he is meeting with business leaders, but there is no phone conversation that is taking place, no conversations at all taking place with Boehner now. So, what position is the White House in? How does the president feel this is going?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You're right about that. I mean, the White House continues to insist that conversations are ongoing, but I'm hearing from GOP aides that, in fact, what we're seeing in the public is exactly what's happening in the private, and that is that it's essentially a standoff. There are no phone conversations, no e-mails, no texting going back and forth. And so, you know, I've been talking about this. It's very difficult to see how this whole process moves fast if the two sides aren't talking. But, nonetheless, the president continues to apply pressure from the outside. We see him bringing in business leaders to the White House, CEOs, middle class Americans, today, again, reaching out these CEOs of the business roundtable saying that his policies will help businesses. His policies will make it easier to create jobs and that he is rooting for them. At the same time, the president is trying to get their support behind his vision for fixing this fiscal crisis and giving them somewhat of an optimistic tone when he said that he is seeing some good movement on the other side. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, I think there's a recognition that maybe they can accept some rate increases as long as it's combined with serious entitlement reform and additional spending cuts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LOTHIAN: And the president saying that if the leadership -- the Republican leadership takes up, they can get them to take up that framework then the numbers are not that far apart, and that a deal can get done within a week. Of course, that's really optimistic again if the sides -- both sides aren't really sitting down and talking.

MALVEAUX: Yes, a week. You made my eyebrows rise there. I was, like, a week. OK. Well, let's see how this goes. That's a very optimistic point of view there, but, of course, both sides really trying to put forward their best effort. Dan, thank you. Appreciate it.

LOTHIAN: OK.

MALVEAUX: So, if the country falls off the fiscal cliff, 90 percent of all Americans are going to feel the pinch. The average American household will see taxes go up by more than $3,400. Our next guest went to Capitol Hill and the White House today to do something about this. Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, she is one of the co-founders of Moms Rising, an on-line group that advocates for families. So Kristen, tell me a little bit about your group. You went to the Hill today. You have a petition, and you got some teddy bears as well. What's the serious message behind this?

KRISTIN ROWE-FINKBEINER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CEO, MOMSRISING: Well, MomsRising has more than a million members across the country. Moms who care about family economic security and care about our nation. And they sent in stories by the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds about how going off the fiscal cliff would impact them. Today, we went to Congress, and we delivered those stories, in fact, to every member of Congress saying, don't put us in an unbearable situation.

MALVEAUX: Oh, now I get it.

ROWE-FINKBEINER: Don't throw moms and families off a fiscal cliff. We need to act quickly to fix this situation for women and families and to end the Bush era tax cuts for the wealthy so that those folks around the country don't end up paying more than their fair share.

MALVEAUX: All right. So, what can both sides do here? Because they're obviously at an impasse and you say you don't want the taxes to go up for the -- for the wealthiest Americans. Republicans would come back and say, what are you willing to do here? What are you willing to give up to make sure that everybody is contributing their fair share?

ROWE-FINKBEINER: Well, I think the first thing that each and every member of Congress has to do is listen to their constituents. It's important to note that families are struggling. A quarter of young families are living in poverty and having a fiscal cliff situation, going on inside the beltway, has a rippling repercussions for people outside the beltway. We heard stories from people like Ruthy who shared with us that her husband is a small business owner. He runs a catering company and because of the economic downturn, he has had fewer clients, which has meant they cannot make ends meet on her salary at a nonprofit and his salary to raise their two children. And, in fact, their phone was recently turned off. They're very concerned about having to pay more taxes just because Congress can't end this fiscal cliff fiasco.

MALVEAUX: Oh, so, I'm sorry, you might have misunderstood the question. What do you think the moms can do? I mean, what do you think, you know, families can do or should be doing to try to help the situation? Obviously, because you've got some people who argue, well, you know, maybe there ought to be major cuts when it comes to Medicare or Medicaid or reforming Social Security, that kind of thing?

ROWE-FINKBEINER: Well, we absolutely 150 percent are hearing from moms across the country that it is not the time to cut Medicaid. It is not the time to cut Medicare or Social Security. In fact, one in three kids are now receiving their health care through Medicaid, and so we don't want to see any kind of bargaining or putting on the table of anything that takes health care away from kids because, guess what? That does not help taxpayers in the long run. When we don't give kids the care they need, we end up using more taxpayer dollars in the long run to fix later health problems.

So, we heard stories from people like Ann who shared that her four- year-old son has autism and he is getting help from Medicaid to have occupational training. If they pull that program, then her son will not be able to be an independent living person in the future.

MALVEAUX: Kristin, we appreciate your activism. Obviously, bringing your point of view to the Hill. Hopefully folks are listening on all sides here. And it seems like we are at an impasse, and certainly want to make sure that we avoid the fiscal cliff. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

We have sad news for music lovers. Jazz legend Dave Brubeck has passed away. He has died. He was a pianist. He was known for both really stepping outside of the conventional boundaries of jazz. Really an incredible individual. Very creative, bringing jazz to the mainstream. Even appeared on the cover of "Time Magazine." That was back in 1954. He broke racial barriers as well. This is someone who in the 1950s played in black jazz clubs in the deep south. He was a veteran of Patton's Army and returned from Europe to start the Dave Brubeck quartet.

By 1959, the group cut the jazz -- the first jazz record ever to sell a million copies. Decades later, Clint Eastwood actually produced a documentary about Brubeck. Back in 2009, he was a Kennedy Center honoree. He died of heart failure on the way to a routine cardiologist appointment with his son, we are told. And he would have turned 92 tomorrow.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: Big news on the employment front today. Two major companies, one a financial firm, maybe the other an aerospace company. They are cutting or moving thousands of jobs. Maribel Aber, she is at the New York Stock Exchange to talk a little bit about the announcements which really makes it kind of tough for people to think about and accept the fact that we are actually in the midst of a recovery. How do you figure?

MARIBEL ABER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Suzanne. This is true. And the labor market has been recovering for a couple of years now but not nearly at a pace that we'd like to get the economy really moving again to. And now, you can you see it reflected in some of the moves these big companies are making. So, what they're -- what's happening is that they're being forced to streamline to keep things operating as tightly as possible. Citigroup said that this morning, it will cut 11,000 jobs around the world, so this is a global layoff. And they're doing this in an effort to save about $1 billion. Citi CEO Michael Corbat says these actions are logical next steps in Citi's transformation. Suzanne, to remind our viewers, the bank has struggled more than some of its rivals after the financial crisis.

Now, I also want to update you on what's happening with Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin is relocating hundreds of jobs from Georgia to Texas. So employees who work on the company's F-22s will have the option to move from Marietta to Fort Worth by the end of March. So if they choose not to, they'll either be reassigned or laid off. And you're going to hear similar situations at other companies too. And these moves are one of the more unfortunate aspects of an economy that's really having trouble rebounding, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And explain to us on the flip side here. There are still some companies that are actually having trouble filling their positions when there's still millions of people who are out of work. How does that -- how does that square?

ABER: Well, you know, part of the problem is that the pay in a lot of these positions is pretty modest. I mean we talked to UPS, one of the companies that's having trouble filling their temporary holiday spots. So they pay about $8.50 to $11 an hour on average, but they were really reluctant to say that's held people back. Instead, it's the fact that workers know the holiday positions are just temporary. So UPS told us that on the East Coast, lots of potential workers, well, they took FEMA positions to help out with Sandy recovery. So many of those jobs last longer than what UPS can offer. And experts say that that's also part of the problem, but the fact that people want to hold out for more permanent, better paying jobs.

But, Susan, one other thing here. The issue of filling positions isn't just in lower paying fields. There's currently a big skilled worker shortage. But one consulting group says it's not that there's not workers out there. It's that companies, they're being too selective about who they hire and they don't pay competitive wages, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Wow. Complicated picture there, but obviously a lot of people still out of work. Some companies can't fill positions. Maribel, thank you. Appreciate it.

They're smart, right? They're playful. Very intelligent. Why would someone want to kill dolphins? We are searching for a killer.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: It is very strange. It's very disturbing. It's happening along the Gulf Coast. This is since Friday. The bodies of two dolphins and the head of a third have now washed up on shore. This is just on top of at least seven others that have turned up this year along a 120 mile stretch from Louisiana to Florida. Now, locals say it's not unusual, right, for dolphins to end up on the beach after getting caught up in fishing nets or dying of natural causes, but some of these dolphins, the ones we're talking about here, were shot, stabbed, and mutilated. Our Ed Lavandera, he's in Biloxi, Mississippi, to talk about it.

Ed, what do we suspect? Is there any link, first of all, between all of these dolphins?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, Suzanne, that's what investigators are trying to figure out, and that is the big question that they haven't been able to answer at this point, or at least probably tell us whether or not this is the work of one specific person or if there's several people involved. But the one thing that does link them, and we've spoken at length with various people who are involved in this investigation, including the specialist who has been doing the necropsies, which is the autopsies of these dolphins, and it is very clear from that work, we're told, is that these dolphins were clearly killed as a result of, quote, "human interaction." So these dolphins were essentially murdered.

We do know that there's a little bit of evidence in the way, at least a couple of them, several of the dolphins, as you mentioned, were shot. And we're told it was with a -- you know, with a handgun. So there's some ballistics evidence that they're able to look at. What the result of that has been, we don't know yet. So, you know, they're still trying to figure out what's going on here and in this -- it's very hard to prove.

This is a massive, massive crime field. This has happened along about 120 mile stretch of the Gulf Coast from eastern Louisiana to western Alabama. So there's a lot of, you know, the crime scene is massive. So they're trying to -- it's hard to kind of get any kind of evidence or any kind of witnesses. So they're really urging people -- they're hoping that whoever or whoever is responsible for all this perhaps has been bragging about it in some way and that people who have overheard these people talking would come forward and tell investigators.

MALVEAUX: Do we know, Ed, what the penalty is for this kind of thing, for killing dolphins in this way?

LAVANDERA: Well there's -- they're protected by the Marine Mammal Act. And so for each dolphin that you're convicted of murdering, killing, it is up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. So there are up to seven, that they suspect, that we've reached so far and then another three, the three that you mentioned there off the top, that have been found in recent days. And that's really the concern is that this started back in -- or they started washing up on shore in January, but it's really been in the last month and a half where you've seen the greatest number of these dolphins start washing up on shore. And as specialists here along the Gulf Coast will tell you, it's a reason for concern because here in the next few months a lot of the female dolphins will be moving into the Mississippi Sound, just a little closer to shore, to give birth to their babies, and they're really worried that, you know, these attacks could start claiming the lives of young baby dolphins.

MALVEAUX: All right, Ed Lavandera, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Sad news for music lovers. Jazz legend David Brubeck has died. As a pianist, Brubeck was known for both stepping outside the conventional boundaries of jazz and, of course, for bringing jazz into the mainstream. He even appeared on the cover of "Time" magazine in 1954. He also broke racial barriers. It was back in the '50s he played black jazz clubs in the deep south. Brubeck died, we are told, of heart failure. He was on his way to a routine cardiologist appointment with his son. And Bill Cosby, he's a jazz enthusiast who actually appeared in a documentary about Brubeck, they was produced for his 90th birthday. I want to bring in Bill Cosby, who's now on the phone with us.

Mr. Cosby, thank you so much for joining us. Tell us what he was like.

BILL COSBY, ACTOR (via telephone): Dave was a jazz musician. And one of the stories that I love about his life is the college he entered. Dave was not playing the kind of music they were teaching, but they did recognize that Dave had an ability that even though they weren't really teaching it, it was, in fact, important. And so he graduated. However, in the biography, and according to Dave, I heard him say this, that they asked him not to tell people where he received his degree because they did not like the way he was playing. And, of course, Dave then went on and those times with the music of racism, along with Louie Armstrong and others, certain clubs would not let you in if your group was integrated, and Dave said, no, it's not going to happen that way.

MALVEAUX: Who was behind that?

COSBY: It's wonderful to have people like Dave who see life that way. And I have to give condolences for his wife because Dave and I worked together at -- I think it might have been Carnegie Hall. I'm not sure. It was to celebrate one of his birthdays with either a 5 or a 0. And I remember going into his dressing room, and, as always, I have never seen more than five or 10 couples in show business locked the way they were locked. She was there always. Dave sitting there quiet. They connected with each other. And so I think I came in to sign posters, autographs, and a young woman whose grandfather was the general manager of the hotel Decap (ph) had come in to visit New York City.

MALVEAUX: Yes.

COSBY: So I said, well, come -- and, of course, French people love our jazz. And so when she came, she became, I think, more excited about this legend, Mr. Brubeck. And she came into the room. She was very, very calm, and we gave her a poster.

MALVEAUX: Yes.

COSBY: But, man, when she went home, she just lit up all of the south of France with the stories about meeting Dave Brubeck.

MALVEAUX: And, Mr. Cosby, you spent some time with him. What was he like really as a person?

COSBY: In the '50s, the music was supposed to be the music of the cool, the cool guys, you know? Psychology and smooth. And that's exactly what he was. He brought -- he brought with him, and others who know music technically, like Wynton Marsalis, hopefully you'll be able to get him -- him on, will explain to you those -- I mean Dave was really a different kind of player. Rhythmically thinking with the cords. I just think he was cool because that was the time. Cool.

MALVEAUX: Cool. And he broke racial barriers. You talked about that a little bit. What was behind that? What was behind his thinking that he felt that the kinds of rules that separated many people and things that people accepted, he did not.

COSBY: Well, as I have said, racism is a waste of time. And people who try to push it and keep it out front because of whatever their idiocy happens to be, there are people like Dave and others, many good men, et cetera, et cetera, Louis Armstrong, they all knew that in playing these places, that they were given an opportunity to say, no, it's not going to be that way.

And I must tell you, another person who's not a musician but was very, very important in that time for breaking the racial barriers was Hugh Hefner, because all those clubs he owned in the '50s, Hugh said they will be private clubs and we will integrate.

MALVEAUX: What kind of contribution did he make to the music world, to the jazz world? What kind of loss is this now that he is gone? I understand he practiced up until really just days ago.

COSBY: With our musicians, you will be able to tell who that person is by becoming an acquired listen.