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Taking Taxes to the American People; Stocks Could Rise to 15 Percent in 2013; Senate Invited to "Lincoln" Screening; The NFL's "Enforcer"

Aired December 6, 2012 - 09:30   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Carol Costello. It's 30 minutes past the hour.

Stories we're watching right now in THE NEWSROOM:

Tanks and armored personnel carriers now line the streets near the presidential palace in Cairo following a night of violent protests. This is a live look from that area right now. At least five people have been killed, close to 450 more are injured. The unrest centers around President Mohamed Morsy's decree, giving him judicial immunity until a new constitution is approved.

Smoking a joint is now legal in Washington state. At midnight, pot users celebrated as the voter approved initiative went into effect. Possessing an ounce of marijuana is A-OK. But selling and growing the drug is not. Plus, it's still against federal law.

Right now, the Seattle Police Department telling officers to give out verbal warnings only.

And popularity of "Gangnam Style" knows no limits.


COSTELLO: This is 81-year-old former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson doing the "Gangnam Style" dance. We just wanted to compare Simpson's version to the dance made famous by the South Korean rapper, Psy. Come on, Psy, give him the picture.

Simpson's version is part of a new social campaign really. And I know, Alan Simpson's actions may seem a little silly, but he might be taking a page out of President Obama's playbook, using social media to get Americans to weigh in on public policy.

Most recently, the White House urged people to take to Twitter and use the #my2k to talk about the effect of potential tax hikes on the middle class. And in case you forgot, the former senator is one half of the Simpson-Bowles duo appointed by President Obama who actually came up with a plan to cut the deficit, a plan that everyone hailed as magnificent but no one wanted to adopt.

Joining me now is CNN contributor Will Cain. He leans right. Good morning, Will.


Let me tell you something. You said the popularity of "Gangnam Style" knows no limits. I beg to differ.


CAIN: I think we just found its limits, when 81-year-old starts doing "Gangnam Style" you can count on its popularity decreasing. We're about a year away from it. No, no, I'm sorry, six months away from being "Macarena".

COSTELLO: OK. Seriously, though, what Alan Simpson was trying to do, he's trying to get young people to use social media to get the two sides to come together on a deal to avert the fiscal cliff. And there ain't nothing wrong with that.

CAIN: Well, look, I don't know about young people's abilities to force cats and dogs and Democrats and Republicans to come together to find a deal. But he did have a much more profound message than just simply dancing in that -- in that clip, in that PSA essentially.

What he did was he was trying to alert young people to the fact that old people, bluntly, are organized. Look at the army of AARP representatives that ensure that programs like Medicare and Social Security, programs that take up something like 50 percent of our federal budget will remain intact and won't be subjected to the necessary reform to last for young people to ever reach them.

Now, the problem is that young people don't think life goes on after the age of 30. If you're on Twitter and Facebook, that's a long way away. Why are you worried about entitlements?

COSTELLO: Well, the funny thing is, that President Obama is using social media to do the exact same thing. For example, he's going to visit a Virginia middle class family today. They were part of his Twitter verse. That's why he chose them.

President Obama must think that talking to average Americans might force Republicans to change their minds about raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

CAIN: Well, if the most recent election is any indication, President Obama is dead on right. I mean, he was -- he and his team were masters at social media in getting elected and using social media to spread his message in nontraditional ways -- ways that will be traditional in every election going forward.

So, he knows what he's doing. And, by the way, I think his particular message this time looks like it's achieving success, Carol, right? I think, what, 65 percent of Americans are very comfortable with raising taxes on the top 2 percent.

So he knows what he wants and he's got people behind him. COSTELLO: So why aren't Republicans bending? You know, Eric Cantor came out yesterday and said President Obama was obsessed with higher taxes and his obsession would have to go away before any deal is made.

But if the majority of Americans feel comfortable with raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, don't Republicans have to bend?

CAIN: OK. Well, look, first, I think Eric Cantor is right. I personally now am taken aback at how dedicated President Obama is to raising taxes on just 2 percent of our population. He's shown an amazing amount of resolve to raise taxes on a group of people that won't make a significant dent in our annual deficit or 10-year deficit projections, something like $70 billion off $1.4 trillion deficit. It's just not going to make a big dent.

So, why is he so dedicated to it?

That being said, Carol, despite the fact that it sends me a little off kilter, he -- yes, Republicans lost the election. They don't have a ton of leverage. They want to try to achieve a deal that they think is going to maximize potential good for the country, meaning spending reform, budget deficit reduction, but the truth is that they don't have a ton of leverage in forcing President Obama to take a look at Medicare and Social Security to bring this conversation full circle that really mean serious budget and deficit reform.

COSTELLO: Well, I'm sure that the majority of Americans are hoping the two sides will come to some sort of deal.

CAIN: Yes.

COSTELLO: Wouldn't that be nice? That would be a nice Christmas present.

Will Cain, thank you.

CAIN: Yes, you bet.

COSTELLO: Thanks so much.

One of the top U.S. banks out with a pretty rosy prediction for next year. Could it be enough to save your 401(k) from that fiscal cliff?


COSTELLO: If you're worried about the fiscal cliff, you might find some reassurance on Wall Street. One Goldman Sachs strategist predicts stocks could rise as much as 15 percent next year. And that would be great news for your 401(k).

Maribel Aber is live at the New York Stock Exchange to explain it all.

Why the rosy outlook?

MARIBEL ABER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Carol. Well, you know, this is coming from a strategist who has been with Goldman for more than 20 years, a strategist pretty much known for being optimistic. And I'm talking about Abby Joseph Cohen.

She points to a couple of reasons for the rally she's expecting. And she says, for one, the overall fundamentals of the market, you know what? They are healthy. So what does that mean? It means that large companies have excess cash and they are benefiting from historically low interest rates.

And, two, just to put it simply, consumers have money to spend, because they're carrying less personal debt than any time since the '90s. And when Americans spend, Carol, guess what? The economy grows. That ends up translating to investors as being more confident -- confident enough to buy into the market. Since most 401(k)s closely track the S&P 500, this 10 percent to 15 percent rise Cohen is expecting would be great, of course, for your retirement savings.

I want to give you an example here. If you start the year with, say, $30,000 and the index gains 15 percent, you're looking at almost $5,000 in gains. So it probably won't surprise you that the fiscal cliff, though, is a concern.

But, you know what, Cohen says even if the market is shaky at the start of 2013, the gains the second half of the year will make up for it -- Carol.

COSTELLO: So, that's a pretty rosy outlook. There must be a counter argument, because all the other -- I mean, I hear such dire things.

ABER: Of course. You know, there are other big financials that release their outlooks, too, Carol. Most are generally positive, though. There are some pessimists out there. Wells Fargo strategist expects stocks to decline next year and she points to slowing global growth and policy uncertainty. So, in other words, the fiscal cliff we're talking about.

UBS is also fairly cautious and expects just a modest gain next year and that strategist says that because of conversations about key structural issues just keep getting pushed back, there's significant uncertainty about the direction of the economy and earnings. And as we always say, uncertainty is something that the market doesn't like, Carol.

COSTELLO: You got that right. Maribel Aber, thank you so much.

Senator Harry Reid likes Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" so much he wants the entire Senate to see it. We'll tell you about the special screening.



DANIEL DAY-LEWIS (as Pres. Lincoln): The common notion is this: things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other. That's a rule of mathematical reasoning. It's true because it works, has done and always will do.


COSTELLO: That's Daniel Day-Lewis as President Abraham Lincoln, his critically-acclaimed performance in "Lincoln" may help bring bipartisanship to Washington. We're learning later this month senate members will be invited to a special screening of "Lincoln".

Kareen Wynter is in Los Angeles. And I must say after I saw this movie my faith in this country was renewed.

KAREEN WYNTER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: You told me you loved it. You loved "Lincoln" and this is a pretty big deal that it's gotten the attention of Washington. That's right Carol. Everyone in Washington they seem to love this movie, although they may be missing the point of it. But the Senate is the latest branch of the government scheduling a special screening of "Lincoln".

You know the story broke yesterday on "Deadline Hollywood Daily". Senate Majority Harry Reid was setting up a screening on the floor of the Senate. Well we've reached out to everyone involved here. And while one of our sources have confirmed there is now a special senate screening scheduled for December 19th we're also being told, Carol, that you know there's still some details being figured out and at this stage we don't know if it will actually happen inside the Capitol building, but this is at least the third time "Lincoln" is getting a special political screening.

The President, remember that? He held a special screening at the White House with the entire cast and Director Steven Spielberg. And Republican Representative Kevin McCarthy he held a special -- a special screening as well for some GOP House members.

So maybe if you know they watch the movie once, perhaps twice.


COSTELLO: Now here's a better idea.

WYNTER: Everyone will realize we need compromise.

COSTELLO: No here is a better idea. Daniel Day-Lewis should do the whole "Lincoln" get-up, go into Congress and act as Abraham Lincoln and draw the two sides together.

WYNTER: You know what I think that may actually work. And then we can have a "Lincoln 2".

COSTELLO: Thanks so much.

WYNTER: Bad idea.

COSTELLO: New Orleans Saints fans may hate him. But Roger Goodell's brother calls him a hero. We'll explore another side of the NFL commissioner.


COSTELLO: Kobe Bryant now a member of an elite group, the 30,000- point club. The Lakers guard passed the NBA milestone with this basket, there it goes, against the New Orleans -- against New Orleans last night. Bryan Jones, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Carl Malone and Michael Jordan are the only players to pass this 30,000 point mark. At 34 years old, 104 days, Kobe is the youngest to do it.

But of course Kobe started playing in the NBA at 17 while the other four went to college. Former teammate Shaquille O'Neal sent out this tweet during the game. Quote, "Congrats to the great Kobe "Bean" Bryant for dropping 30,004 points over his career and still counting." Current teammate Pau Gasol tweeted, "Congratulations to the best scorer in the planet. Mate and friend Kobe for joining the 30,000 points club. Huge accomplishment. Congrats."

Marking a solemn moment in sports. Members of the Kansas City Chiefs attended the funeral for teammate Jovan Belcher. As you well know Belcher committed suicide after killing his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins on Saturday. The couple leaves behind a 3-month-old daughter. Perkins funeral is today in Texas.

Jovan Belcher's murder/suicide led to another controversy for the NFL this year. You know, the league that's dealt with deaths of current and former players, concussions, a high profile lawsuit and bounties. The question on Sunday, should the Chiefs have played -- played the game with Carolina just a day after Belcher and Kasandra Perkins' deaths. That's just one topic.

Then NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell addresses in this issue of "Time" magazine cover story "The Enforcer". "Time" senior editor Sean Gregory wrote the piece. Sean joins us this morning. Welcome Sean.


COSTELLO: So what did the Commissioner tell you about Belcher and the decision to play the game on Sunday?

GREGORY: Yes. You know, his reaction was -- he was stunned. You know he gets a phone call from his director of security and he's hearing the details and he can't believe what he's hearing. Then he starts to hit the phones and he knew that there was pressure not to play the game and there were thoughts on that side.

But you know, he reached out to Clark Hunt, the chairman of the Chiefs and told them to please seek feedback from the players. And he basically deferred to the players. And the feedback he was getting, he says he was getting that the players wanted to play. And you know, five days, four days later, it seems like it was probably the right thing to do.

The Chiefs won. It was an emotional victory. And -- and everybody -- it was a moment for them perhaps to -- to forget about what happened and move on a little bit.

COSTELLO: So you know cynics might say -- critics might say the real reason was money. They wanted to play the game because the NFL is a money machine. Is that too cynical?

GREGORY: No, you know that's a fair -- that's a fair argument to make. And -- and he will say and has said that it's not about money. You know he's -- no matter what you think of him, he's pretty strong in his convictions. For example, the referee lockout whether you believe him or not, he will say over and over again that that was not about money. It was about getting a long-term deal and -- and getting some backup officials and full-time officials to kind of hone the craft.

So he's very big on that. You can believe him or not believe him but he will stay -- stay strong on those decisions and you know this is -- this is another decision where he's very firm in it and he doesn't really look back or apologize or regret stuff.

COSTELLO: Ok so you attended a recent NFL game with Goodell. What were -- what was the fans reaction to him?

GREGORY: You know, he wasn't in New Orleans. So we should say that from the outset. And it was -- it was fairly positive. I saw him in the Jets parking lot before a game in late October. And when he gets out there people -- people shout at him. You know free Vilma, some of the saints stuff. You hate James Harrison from the Steelers. He gets his criticisms but he's very he's very good at kind of listening to it, smiling and not fighting back.

And -- and he's -- and other people will go up to him and say good job. Good job. People flock to him. He does have a presence about him. And he hugs a lot of people. Whatever you think of him, a guy, he's got that politician touch to kind of you know tussle hair and give hugs and shake hands and he's the son of a senator. So that has rubbed off on him.

COSTELLO: Ok so one of the most interesting aspects of your article was Goodell's relationship with his brother, Michael. Tell us about that.

GREGORY: Yes and that was a real surprise. You know Michael -- you know, Roger was kind enough to give me access to his brothers and have them call up. I didn't know what to expect. And you know Michael is very open. Michael was an effeminate -- kind of a feminine kid and he came out as a gay man after college. And he was bullied a lot. And -- and Roger was very protective of him.

He was kind of a brawler as a kid and got into some fights when they were -- when they were younger. And there is an incident where Michael visited Roger in college and some -- some tough guys were messing with him. And Roger kind of cursed him out and stuff like that.

And you know Michael just had this comment about, you know listen, this stuff is in the news. This kind of gay bullying, bullying gay kids and tragedies and suicides and he said this could have been me. But Roger protected me and my brothers protected me particularly Roger because Roger is a year older than Michael. And -- and you know that could have been me if not for the protection I had. So he called Roger his hero, one of his heroes or you know a hero to him. And you know I read that back to Roger. And I was surprised. He got teary and emotional. He never heard that before from his brother. So it was kind of a -- you know a kind of a very emotional real moment that was -- that was interesting to see.

COSTELLO: Yes another side to Roger Goodell. The article is in "Time" magazine. Roger Goodell is the cover boy this -- this month. And thank you Sean Gregory for sharing with us this morning.

GREGORY: Thanks a lot, Carol.

COSTELLO: "Talk Back" question for you today. "Are you prepared if the nation goes off the fiscal cliff?" Your responses next.


COSTELLO: "Talk Back" question today. "Are you prepared if the nation goes off the fiscal cliff?"

This from Jim. "This so-called cliff may be the only way these guys address the deficit seriously. Bring it on.

This from Ray, "I honestly do not think it's going to be as bad as people make it out to be."

From Michael "I live below my means and I live paycheck to paycheck. If only these elected officials had to live like I do, they would fix this ASAP."

From Donald, "As a retiree who lives on investments, we're working with our financial advisor to make necessary changes to minimize our losses."

And from John, "Short answer. Yes. Parachute all inspected and packed. Better you should ask the lawmakers if they're prepared for the unemployment line."

Keep the conversation going.

The next hour of "CNN NEWSROOM" begins right now.

Happening now in the "NEWSROOM" --


CROWD: Three, two, one.


COSTELLO: The most laid back new year's celebration ever? No. a celebration of Washington State's brand new pot law. And yes, those people are smoking joints.