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Gun Control Debate Reignited; Former President Bush in Intensive Care; Obama, Senators Back to DC; New Home Sales Jump in November

Aired December 27, 2012 - 10:30   ET

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


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CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: We are keeping a close eye on the former President George H.W. Bush. He remains in the hospital in Houston this morning. He was moved to the Intensive Care Unit last Sunday after developing what a spokesman called a stubborn fever. His family says the former President has been relentlessly positive, though. He spends a lot of time talking and joking with his doctors.

CNN's Miguel Marquez is at that Houston hospital. Are you hearing anymore about President Bush's condition?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well the family spokesman Jim McGrath is going to great lengths and the family wants to thank everybody who has called in and expressed their concern.

But they are going to great lengths to tell the world that he is doing OK. It's just that he had a very stubborn fever they are trying to deal with here.

We do know a few facts about how the 41st president is doing. He has been in the hospital here for a little over a month now. He came here the 23rd of November. He's been put on a liquid diet. His spokesman won't say why they put him on a liquid diet.

Now he's being treated with everything from Tylenol and other measures. He says -- he's also in intensive care because staff here at the medical facility just wanted to keep tabs on him and -- and check on him in various ways and sort of an abundance of caution. At this point the family is saying that they hope and believe that this is much adieu about nothing and that he will be home back here in Houston before too long.

And joking with his wife and his family from that side of town -- Carol.

COSTELLO: We hope so. He's a tough guy. He jumps from planes for goodness sake. He's a war hero.

MARQUEZ: Very, very tough guy. He's had -- you know he's had another problem with his lower extremities. It's a Parkinson's-like disease affecting his legs so he's not able to get around as well as he used to. The family spokesman saying the doctors say that there is no link between that and what he's experiencing right now. It's just a stubborn fever. They hope and believe that he's getting -- he's getting the best care that he can in the world and they believe that he will be home before too long there -- Carol.

COSTELLO: I hope so. Miguel Marquez reporting live from Houston this morning.

Coming up next, oh the fiscal cliff. We're close enough now to peek over the edge of that cliff. And insiders say buckle up and prepare for the worst.

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COSTELLO: We are so close to the fiscal cliff right now we can practically look over the edge. In fact, some people are saying that it might even be too late for a deal and we're going to go over that fiscal cliff.

Senator Harry Reid just took to the Senate floor 30 minutes ago to say he thinks it's very likely we're going to go over the cliff. He said Republicans like Speaker -- House Speaker John Boehner and Senator Mitch McConnell a Republican have been radio silent on negotiations.

Joining me now Will Cain a CNN contributor and an analyst for the Blaze.com GBTV and Roland Martin, a CNN political analyst and a syndicated columnist. Welcome to you both.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Hi.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to see you Carol.

COSTELLO: Oh good to see you. I'm just so sad we have to talk about the fiscal cliff. Let's start with you, Roland. So Harry Reid comes out and says oh the House isn't in session. The Senate is in session, the President is back. The House is going nowhere. John Boehner is doing a terrible job and we'll likely go off the cliff because of the Republicans.

MARTIN: Well it's interesting. This morning I talked to Congressman Emanuel Cleaver on the Townsville Morning Show (ph) and he said part of the issue here deals with the House rules. And that they have to have 48-hours notice to come back to Washington, D.C. The Republicans also have a rule that says they have 72 hours -- --

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COSTELLO: Well like there are phones.

MARTIN: Well yes but again, though, again, it's the question of -- but the problem also is the House rule that they must wait 72 hours to act on legislation. And they can always suspend that rule, frankly change it for this particular purpose. And so that's part of the problem, the procedures because they've waited so long. And so this is also one of the reasons why Congress should have kept their butt in Washington, D.C. to get this problem solved because this affects millions of Americans, it affects our credit, it affects -- it will affect the stock market. And this is what happens when you have congressional leaders who don't do their job and wait until the last second to do things. You frankly try to run the clock out and it makes no sense whatsoever.

COSTELLO: So -- so Will here is the thing, Dana Bash our great congressional correspondent talked to her sources. She said that lawmakers are prepared to go over the fiscal cliff because taxes will go up, yes, but then the new Congress reconvenes on January 3rd and they will just vote to cut taxes. Problem solved -- kind of.

CAIN: Yes right well I mean, I think Dana's sources are probably accurate we're going to go over the cliff. Remember Carol I think it's like a week ago I said, I told you we wouldn't. So take whatever I say with a grain of salt. I wouldn't hold everyone to some strict -- some strict record on the fiscal cliff predictions, though.

Look, we're going to go over the cliff because it doesn't really serve either party's interests to avoid going over the cliff. We as Americans don't want to. We don't want to keep our tax rates where they are. We want certainty about what the government is going to dictate the rules of taxes and spending over the next year.

But from a political standpoint, it doesn't help -- it doesn't help the Democrats to get a deal before January 1st. And from a political stand point it doesn't really help the Republicans. We always talk about them getting the blame for this, but they can't seem to see the political win and making concessions to Democrats right now. So neither side sees a win in compromising so go to the cliff.

MARTIN: So Carol it doesn't -- it doesn't help Democrats, it doesn't help Republicans but it screws the American people. Yes that sounds like Congress.

COSTELLO: But it's awful. It's just awful.

I mean you can say that --

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MARTIN: But yes if people who can't do their jobs. I mean, at the end of the day, it's people who can't do their jobs. OK and so you have people look, you have the IRS talk about how it's going to throw things into disarray. You have other people are talking about the problems it is going to put forth. It is because you have people who are so entrenched. One of the points I made last night on "ERIN BURNETT SHOW" is that this is what happens when you also push out moderate voices in both parties.

That in primaries when you say if you are too moderate on the Democratic side, or you are a blue dog; if you're too moderate on the Republican side, or you're simply a Rockefeller Republican. And so we have no use for you. When those voices leave, all you're left with are strident voices who refuse to come together and say let's put together a coalition to get this thing passed for the benefit of the American people.

COSTELLO: Yes but I thought -- I thought the election sent a strong message to lawmakers that people are tired of partisanship. They want lawmakers to come together and do their jobs, Will Cain.

MARTIN: Did you forget one thing?

CAIN: No, no.

MARTIN: Don't you forget one thing, the same people who are there now where they are last year.

CAIN: Not all of them right and -- and look, here's the deal. While Roland is probably right to some degree that moderates have been pushed out and people are intransigent in their position, it doesn't mean --

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MARTIN: Not probably I am.

CAIN: It doesn't mean it's a valueless debate. The two sides have a debate that is very important for this country. And we talked about it this morning on the morning show. Democrats want to pass the Bush tax cuts for everyone making under $250,000 but want to continue spending at a rate that isn't supported by that tax base.

And Republicans for their willingness to not raise taxes on anyone they haven't made any real big measure, any real big gestures towards cutting spending. So the point is we have to have this -- this big debate over -- over bigger issues than the fiscal cliff on taxes and spending. Why we can't come together right now in the short-term for something that could -- could yes hurt us as the voters in our short- term economic pocketbooks, it's really just delaying a bigger conversation that's going to have to be had.

COSTELLO: OK so --

MARTIN: Then that's what Congress does.

COSTELLO: Just a final, I just want one name. Who is the savior who is going to swoop in and convince everybody to do their jobs -- Roland?

MARTIN: Jesus. You need Jesus to come down and blow like Lazarus on Congress and blow breathe into these dead, lifeless bodies.

COSTELLO: Will Cain --

CAIN: If you think I'm -- yes right, if you think I'm going to follow Jesus with something like Steve (inaudible), you're crazy. No --

MARTIN: Sorry, baby. You can't top Jesus.

COSTELLO: Thank you so much. Roland Martin and Will Cain. We'll be right back.

MARTIN: Thanks so much.

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COSTELLO: More good economic news this morning when can it comes to new home sales; they are up for the month of November and the best in two years. Alison Kosik is here to break down the numbers.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Carol. So this is yet another sign that the housing market continues to be the brightest bright spot in the economy. We found out that new home sales rose 4.4 percent in November. That's about in line with forecasts in showing as well that the median price for a home is just over $246,000.

This is a sharp turnaround from October when Superstorm Sandy drag down these sales. Now although new home sales only make up about 10 percent of the housing market, we do like to watch these numbers because what they do is they give us some really good indications about how the overall economy is doing because new homes, they typically are more expensive than previously-owned ones since they are built from the ground up.

That has a ripple effect. It helps add construction jobs and people need to fill and decorate those houses so it would help home improvement stores and sales of appliances and furniture. And also we have seen the market for new homes steadily improving. Sales, Carol, are now up almost 15 percent over the year. And that's because of a variety of factors. One of them including those record-low mortgage rates.

See, we don't just talk about the depressing stuff like fiscal cliffs. We have good news in the housing market.

COSTELLO: Yes. Alison. Thanks so much.

This just in to CNN. A shakeup in President Obama's Cabinet. Lisa Jackson, the administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, will step down from her post after the President's State of the Union speech next month. Jackson began at the agency in 1987 as a scientist.

"Talk Back" question for you today: Will America ever come together on guns? Your responses, next.

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COSTELLO: It is 51 minutes past the hour. The U.S. Senate seat left vacant after the death of Daniel Inouye of Hawaii will be filled this afternoon. Hawaii's governor Neil Abercrombie taps Lt. Governor Brian Schatz to the seat. A White House official says Schatz is flying with President Obama to D.C. and expected to be sworn in later today. Schatz is a former Hawaiian legislator and an executive of a non- profit group.

D.C. police say -- they said no when NBC asked if they could use a high-capacity ammunition magazine as a prop that David Gregory showed on "Meet the Press". Gregory used it during an interview with the executive vice president of the NRA but the devices are illegal in Washington. Even if they are not attached to a weapon. NBC has not responded to CNN's request for a comment.

A whale discovered on a New York beach is not expected to survive. Biologists say the thin whale is emaciated and in poor physical condition and nothing can be done to save it. They say if nature does not take its course, they plan to humanely euthanize it.

And adding to the fiscal cliff worries, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says the United States will hit the $16 trillion debt ceiling on Monday. That's when the government reaches its legal borrowing limit. Geithner says the government can operate for a few more weeks using emergency measures, but congress needs to act quickly to avoid a full-blown crisis.

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COSTELLO: Our "Talk Back" question today: will America ever come together on guns?

This from Leighton: "I guess my question is if we can't control the flow of people and drugs across our borders, how do we expect to control the flow of guns? Control that then talk to me about gun control.

This from Chris: "Come together, no. Gun people will never give them up readily. It's one of the great challenges before this nation right now. Get the worst weapons, assault rifles and handguns out of the hands of private citizens. It might take a hundred years but it will be worth it."

This from Hadayai: "I hope so, our children and grandchildren's lives depend on it."

And this from Steve: "I personally don't need a gun but I'm not for taking the guns. The people need their guns to keep the ever encroaching government from totally taking over their lives."

Thank you for the conversation this morning. Facebook.com/CarolCNN and also for your tweets @CarolCNN.

I'm Carol Costello. Thanks for joining me today.

CNN NEWSROOM with Alina Cho after a quick break.

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