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Fiscal Cliff Clock Ticking; Major Setback in Fiscal Cliff Talks; President Calls on Congress to Reach Deal; Milk Prices Could Hit $7 Per Gallon; Teetering on the Fiscal Cliff; Oak Ridge Boys Serenade Bush; Fiscal Cliff Looming; Poll: Clinton Leads 2016 Dems; Angry at Washington

Aired December 30, 2012 - 14:00   ET


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Martin Savidge, in this weekend for Fredricka Whitfield.

This hour and throughout the day we're following breaking developments on a story that affects every single American. Yes, I'm talking about the fiscal cliff. Hello, it's good to be with you.

We are just two days now remaining that is, until the countdown clock and the pressure is mounting on lawmakers to get a deal done. Both houses of Congress are back in session this Sunday ready to vote on a plan that Senate leaders are trying to hammer out right now.

If a deal isn't reached, your taxes will go up and government spending will be slashed. Dana Bash and Jessica Yellin are covering all angles of the story. So let's start with Dana on Capitol Hill who has heard word of a setback in the talks. Dana, what do you know?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Martin. A setback from the perspective of Democrats, we should underscore that because this is -- any information that is coming out, is coming out for a purpose, but this is certainly significant when it comes to the Democrats' perspective.

And that is, they are very unhappy and they call a quote, "poison pill." What they say is an offer from the Republicans to include in this deal, which has been from the Democrats perspective, mostly focused on taxes to include in it, a change in a technical way that Social Security is done.

What it effectively would mean is that Social Security recipients would get smaller checks each month. This is something that the president himself did offer as part of a larger deal when he was in those talks with the House speaker.

But what Democrats would say is we're past that. We're not in the larger negotiations any more. This is a scaled-back negotiation and they do not want anything relating to entitlements, especially Social Security, involved in this.

So this Democratic source says again that this is a poison pill. It is a major setback. I was told by another source that McConnell offered this last night and that the Democrats formally rejected it about an hour ago. This is important because the good news is we weren't hearing a lot of details.

It is not good news when we hear details particularly words like major setback. It definitely could be a ploy and it probably is part of a ploy to make Republicans understand they're serious. They really mean it, the Democrats, when they say they're not going to go for this.

What the technical term is chain CPI. They're not going to go for it, but if it is not that, if it is really genuine and the Republicans won't back down on this. Then it could be a very, very bad omen for getting this kind of deal because we only really have hours to go.

SAVIDGE: Well, let's talk about that that timeline here. If a deal isn't reached today, they could hold a vote tomorrow, could we see this possibly dragging on to New Year's Day?

BASH: Possibly. But the plan as far as Senate Democrats go and they're in charge of the Senate is as follows. If this setback isn't fixed over the next few hours, then what Senate Democrats plan to do by this evening is to put a fallback plan on the Senate floor.

And that fallback plan would include really just a focus on tax issues. For example, mostly tax issues. What the president campaigned on for two campaigns, letting the tax rates, which expire for everybody, tomorrow night, just letting them expire for incomes over 250,000.

They would also fix the AMT, which many Americans know what it is, from doing their taxes, they would patch it. They would also fix a big problem for people who are Medicare recipients, in that doctors would get a lower amount of money from the government, which would make a lot of doctors say I'm not giving Medicare patients any business.

They're going to try to fix that and extend unemployment benefits. That's the fallback position that the Democrats in the Senate say they'll put on the Senate floor tonight if they can't fix the setback and get to the other deal they're working on with the Republicans as we speak.

SAVIDGE: All right, Dana Bash talking to us from Capitol Hill where word of a setback at least from the Democrats. Let's go now to Jessica Yellin in Washington, she is, of course, has been following things at the White House.

Jessica, is President Obama taking a role in these talks on a day-to- day basis or is he staying on the sidelines today?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Martin. Well, the White House and the negotiators at the White House have been in contact and are you know, they say the lines of communication are open. But the work is really happening between negotiators on the Senate side.

And you know, work gets done more effectively, frankly when they are able to trade deal points between themselves. And what you're seeing right now is, is the sort of bartering that has to happen before the president can sort of weigh in and the White House can sort of play its role.

And this is how Washington works most effectively. Now I would say that if, for example, chain CPI were part of this deal, I do not think that that's something the White House would accept that is something as Dana said, is part of a bigger deal. Not something that they're going to be happy with if it's part of a small deal.

But obviously this is the bartering that goes on in basic contract negotiations, it's what you see. They're posturing right now and as the clock ticks down you would expect something like that.

When the president was on "Meet the Press" earlier, he made it pretty clear that we're in the position right now where one of two things is going to happen. Here's how the president put it.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I'm confident that one of two things is going to happen when it comes to the fiscal cliff. Number one, we're going to see an agreement in the next 48 hours, in which case, middle class taxes will not go up.

If that doesn't happen, then Democrats in the Senate will put a bill on the floor of the Senate, and Republicans will have to decide if they're going to block it, which will mean that middle class taxes do go up. I don't think they would want to do it politically. But they may end up doing it.


YELLIN: Now the one point I would make, finally Martin, is that the president's fallback alternative I would say is less a real fallback measure because we know Republicans are likely to block it. It's more of a political measure for Democrats to try to shift the blame of responsibility on to Republicans before the nation goes over the cliff -- Martin.

SAVIDGE: All right, Jessica Yellin, following things from the White House perspective, thank you very much. We'll check back in with you later.

The fiscal cliff isn't the only pressing legislation that's on Congress' plate. There's also something called the farm bill. Republicans in the House opposed a measure passed by Senate in June saying that it simply cost too much.

If Congress doesn't act, dairy farmers among others would no longer have a government safety net for prices and the cost of a gallon of milk could soar. Here's what Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack had to say on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION."


TOM VILSACK, ARICULTURE SECRETARY: Well, if you like anything made with milk, you're going to be impacted by the fact that there's no farm bill. Because if there is not an extension of the existing bill or a new bill basically on January 1st or shortly thereafter, permanent agricultural law goes back into place, 1949 law.

Which basically means that the government, the federal government, will go back into the business of strongly supporting and I mean, strongly supporting the dairy industry by raising the price support if you will or support for dairy products to $38 a double weight that is almost twice what the price of milk is today.


SAVIDGE: Vilsack says, by the way, that the agricultural exports and farming families will also be affected if a farm bill is not passed. All right, let's take you now to the Senate floor, Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader is speaking. Let's listen.

SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MINORITY LEADER: -- to the vice president to see if he could help jump-start the negotiations on his side. The vice president and I have worked together on seclusions before and I believe we can again.

I want my colleagues to know that we'll keep everyone updated. The consequences of this are too high for the American people to be engaged in a political messaging campaign. I'm interested in getting a result here.

I was here all day yesterday, as I indicated we submitted our latest proposal at 7:00 p.m. last night. We're willing to work with whoever -- whoever can help. There's no single issue that remains an impossible sticking point.

The sticking point appears to be a willingness, an interest or frankly the courage to close the deal. I want everyone to know I'm willing to get this done, but I need a dance partner.



REID: We have been --

SAVIDGE: Now we've got the senate majority leader, Harry Reid speaking in rebuttal.

REID: -- we did have conversations last night that ended late in the evening between staffs. This morning, we've been trying to come up with some counteroffer to my friend's proposal. We've been unable to do that.

I've had a number of conversations with the president and at this stage we're not able to make a counteroffer. The Republican leaders told me, and he just said here that he's working with the vice president, and he and the vice president, I wish them well.

In the meantime, I will continue to try to come up with something. But at this stage, I don't have a counteroffer to make. Perhaps as the day wears on I will be able to. I will say this. I think that the Republican leader has shown absolutely good faith in just that we're a part on some pretty big issues.

SAVIDGE: That was Harry Reid, who is the Senate majority leader, speaking representing the Democratic side of things. From the sound of both men, it appears that they are at an impasse. And certainly not optimistic when it comes to trying to reach any kind of any negotiated settlement right now. We'll continue to listen in here.

I want to bring in Dana Bash while we wait. Dana, what do you take of this? I mean, it doesn't sound like they've broken off all talks. They've said, OK, that's it, I've made my proposal, you've made yours, we're too far apart.

BASH: I wouldn't say that they've broken off all talks. But what I will say is that this is very, very bad news, a very bad sign. Because as you and I talked about at the top of the hour, it is, it is good news or a good sign when we don't, we in the media don't hear a lot of what's going on in private.

When either side decides to come out and say that there is a major setback or there is a big problem, that's a big red flag. The fact is that the Republican leader came out and he said he wants to dance. Close to a deal. He just needs a dance partner.

Well, as we reported at the beginning of the hour, Democrats feel that one of the things that Republicans are offering behind the scenes is a nonstarter from his perspective and that is that an offer to change the way technically Social Security recipients get their money or effectively would make Social Security checks for every recipient lower each month.

That is something that the president offered as part of larger negotiations for a big grand bargain or part of a bigger deal. But Democrats here on Capitol Hill and as Jessica was reporting at the White House simply say that that's not in the cards right now for this smaller deal.

So it is not a good sign at all. That that they are not right yet right yet and that they are not talking in private, but what's going to happen next, Martin, is in about 45 minutes, in the floor underneath me. The Republicans in the Senate are going to get together.

The Democrats in the Senate are going to get together. They're going to all talk. And each of the parties' rank and file are going to get more information about where things really stand in these talks and I think we'll get a better sense if they're going to be able to keep talking through the afternoon.

Or whether they are going to go to that fallback plan that I talked about and as Jessica mentioned, the fallback plan might at the end of the day mean no plan at all because it might be very hard to get enough Republicans to vote for that in the Senate, never mind the House.

And that's -- that's an understatement, but we'll see what happens in the next hour or in these meetings. SAVIDGE: All right, Dana Bash talking to us from Capitol Hill where again, the news is not good. It appears that for now, the talks to avoid the fiscal cliff have run into some major road blocks. But apparently those discussions will at least continue on some level.

Republicans and Democrats as we know are playing chicken with the economy as the fiscal cliff approaches. We'll get A.B. Stoddard's take as the clock ticks down.

And believe it or not, people are already talking about who they want to be the next president. Just who are you voting for in 2016? We've got the answer.


SAVIDGE: Many Americans are waiting for lawmakers to reach a deal to keep our government from going over the fiscal cliff. With time running out, we've learned of a major setback in talks between Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

We want to bring now in Candy Crowley in Washington, anchor of the "STATE OF THE UNION." Candy, I know you had a busy morning, talking to eight lawmakers and they couldn't agree on anything they, could they?

CANDY CROWLEY, HOST, CNN'S "STATE OF THE UNION": They couldn't. We had one panel, two Republicans, two Democrats from both the House and the Senate. And even to get them to talk about whether something was going to pass or not, produced a sort of policy dispute on who had offered spending cuts, who hadn't offered spending cuts.

You know, who should pay more in their tax rate, et cetera, et cetera. So it was a pretty good indication of why they haven't been able to get a deal so far. I have to tell you though and this was prior to the latest setback as it is being called.

There was some optimism saying most people will keep their tax rates, they shouldn't worry about it. What there was a difference of opinion on, was weather that would happen before the 31st of January. There were a number of people who thought the deadline might slip that it wouldn't harm most people in the sense that their taxes aren't going to go up right away, anyway.

And basically, the withholding is still set at the old rate. So there was optimism, but you kind of wonder, is it going like this. I don't know if there's any more. There was this morning, but now we seem hung up on whether to change the way that cost of living increases are computed for Social Security recipients.

SAVIDGE: Right. And this breakdown or setback, do you see this as a strategy on somebody's part or do you think it's sort of a legitimate indication that the wheels are coming off the negotiation process?

CROWLEY: I don't know that wheels are coming off the whole negotiation, but I do know that when you talk to Republicans today, thematically, what they were talking about was where are the spending cuts here? You're asking us to raise taxes, but in this minimalist package, there's not a spending cut.

They took the president to task. Senator Corker and among others, the Republicans said, you know, the president hasn't offered this trillion-dollar spending cuts. If he had, we'd be on the floor.

There's a dispute about even whether or not the president has offered any more spending cuts. So it does not surprise me that one of the things that Republicans are now saying is, let's begin to cut these entitlements programs. And one of them obviously is Social Security.

On the other hand, we see progressives and a lot of groups that help the president get re-elected saying, wait a second, there is no need to touch any entitlements, not Social Security, not Medicare, not Medicaid. There's no need to ouch it. We won the election, hold firm.

So you're beginning to see that within the Democratic Party, the president has sort of spoken favorably about the Social Security fix. It was part of a broader package, but he's talked favorably about it.

But some Democrats don't want to do that. While we've seen these rifts in the Republican Party about, you know, whether to raise taxes, tax rates on anybody. You're going to begin to see as this conversation as the conversation moves forward. The rifts in the Democratic Party about what programs should be cut and what programs should be saved.

And I think that's a little of what you're seeing now. I don't know if it's enough to sort of throw the whole deal out. I think only those folks -- you did hear the folks, Senator McConnell saying I've called my friend Joe Biden, can he get to the president?

It's very clear that the Democrats are saying that the president is the one who won't -- you know, who doesn't want to put up a counteroffer. So we'll see.

SAVIDGE: We will. I mean, it does not look good now, but who know? Maybe optimism --

CROWLEY: Changes by the hour.

SAVIDGE: Yes. Candy Crowley, thank you as always, we'll be in touch.

All eyes continue to be in Washington, of course, as the cliff gets closer, the president insists on a tax hike for the rich, but the Republicans won't budge. Something has got to give. A.B. Stoddard weighs in.


SAVIDGE: As Republicans and Democrats play brinkmanship with the fiscal cliff. One GOP senator is throwing a little gasoline on the fire, Wyoming's John Barrasso said, quote, "The president is doing nothing about the addiction that his administration has to spending," unquote. So let's bring in A.B. Stoddard, a conservative columnist and associate editor with "The Hill" to get her perspective. Let me start you off by just saying what we've heard now, the setback, to understate it, it doesn't sound good, does it?

A.B. STODDARD, "THE HILL": No, it doesn't. But this kind of thing does happen a lot towards the end. It's always darkest before the dawn and deals have been saved from the rubble like this before.

I think that what you're seeing from the Republican side is what Candy was talking about previously, a desperate need to be able to find something that they can tell their constituents they supported in terms of cuts.

It's lot of money to get those unemployment checks going again, to patch the alternative minimum tax hole, to fix the Medicare, which is going to raise, cut their pay by almost 30 percent. A lot of money needs to be found.

Even as they, to tax some wealthy at the top brackets, there's not enough money in the pot. So there's a scramble now to be able to have Republicans vote for a tax hike and be able to say they voted for some cuts as well.

SAVIDGE: Right it seems that the president has been very skillful in this argument here that he sort of focused all the attention on taxes and given the impression that Republicans are oppose the only to preventing taxes from being raised on the wealthy. But in fact there's a lot more that they're opposed to and as you say, it's trying to cut the deficit.

STODDARD: Right, that the problem is that the cuts that everyone is talking about that are in "The Sequester," those have already been decided and those are in the bank, but as you look to change current law, the tax cuts expire tomorrow.

To replace a bunch of them, to find new revenue and then not continue to cut does not get us out of our hole. It's gets us back to a fight on how to increase the debt ceiling just weeks from now.

So that's the problem, is we're looking at a very small band aid that doesn't get us through the next hurdle. It keeps us right at a fiscal precipice that we've been trying to get out of for 17 months.

SAVIDGE: Do you see and you heard the words used by Mitch McConnell and also by Harry Reid, do you really see this as a breakdown or is it just more brinksmanship?

STODDARD: Well, as you know, even the most distant viewer observer far away from Washington would know that these are never resolved before the absolute last-minute. So to get anything resolved today would be surprising.

I think people are pushing on both sides of the bargaining table asking for a little more, a little more. There's going to have to be more budgeting. But it is a good sign as was mentioned before that the vice president is going to get involved.

I think you see an earnest effort on behalf of the Republican leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, saying I really want to do something. I was here yesterday. I'm looking for a dance partner, and actually saying that he and Joe Biden have solved problems before. That's a hopeful sign.

That he feels that there's a willing partner he can trust at the table and that gives us hope for the coming hours. But the fact that you know you can get to point where people don't even have a counteroffer obviously is frustrating and it's really neither side should look to the American people like they're giving up until the very last minute.

SAVIDGE: Right. A.B. Stoddard, thank you very much. We always appreciate your insight.

Well, there may be bickering on Capitol Hill about the fiscal cliff, but outside of Washington, Americans want something done and yes, they want it done now.

And the Oak Ridge Boys have been crooning for the ailing president, George H. Bush and someone who was there will join us to tell us how it went.


SAVIDGE: Welcome back to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Martin Savidge. If you're just joining us, thank you for tuning in. We are following the breaking developments on a story that affects every single American. That's the fiscal cliff. We reach the brink in two days.

So let's go live now to Dana Bash on Capitol Hill because of news of a setback. Dana, what do we know?

BASH: That's right. We got this word from Democratic sources about a half an hour ago. Maybe a little bit more, that they consider a major setback to be going on right now. What they even call a poison pill and that is something that the Republicans offered last night and Democrats rejected today.

It's called technically chain CPI. That's the buzz word for it. But what it means for real people and real terms would be that Social Security recipients would see smaller checks on a monthly basis and that's why Democrats are saying that this is a nonstarter.

Now the president did propose this to the House speaker as part of a larger deal. He even talked about it again this morning on NBC, the president. But Democrats are saying that they simply do not see this in this minor, smaller mini deal as they are calling it.

They don't want to deal with the entitlement issue at all until a later date when they can deal with it in a broad sense. Here's an example of what we heard just about a half hour ago from the Republican leader followed by the Democratic leader.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCONNELL: The consequences of this are too high for the American people to be engaged in a political messaging campaign. I'm interested in getting a result here. I was here all day yesterday. As I indicated, we submitted our latest proposal at 7:00 p.m. last night. We're willing to work with whoever, whoever can help. There's no single issue that remains an impossible sticking point.

REID: In the meantime, I will continue to try to come up with something. But at this stage, I don't have a counteroffer to make. Perhaps as the day wears on we will be able to. I will say this that I think that the Republican leader has shown absolutely good faith. It's just that we're apart on some pretty big issues.


BASH: Still apart on pretty big issues and I mentioned this Social Security related item. The other thing that I'm told by Democratic and Republican sources, Martin, is that the really big issue when we're talking about the fiscal cliff, which are those tax rates.

Republicans are saying, I'm told, that they actually want to keep all tax rates in place for those making even more than $400,000 a year. Democrats and the president himself, of course, campaigned on keeping the tax rates in place only for incomes of $250,000, letting everybody else's expire to help go towards deficit reduction.

But Democrats in these talks I'm told have been willing to come up and that's another big gulf between the two of them on this issue of tax rates.

SAVIDGE: All right, Dana Bash, thanks for the latest update there from Capitol Hill. Let's get you checked in with other stories that are trending on The death toll from Russia in a plane crash has risen to five. The plane went off a runway at a Russian airport. All eight people on board were crew members.

Two Georgia boys, will soon be headed home after being missing for several days. Henry and his older brother, Ben, were found in Austin, Texas. Police say their father, Daniel Cleary, failed to return them home after a holiday visit. Cleary is now in police custody.

And who doesn't know the "Oak Ridge Boys," the legendary band sang for former President George H.W. Bush the other day while he's recovering in hospital. We'll talk to one of the band members.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's do this one for you, you'll remember this one.


SAVIDGE: Those are the "Oak Ridge Boys" singing "Amazing Grace" for former President George H.W. Bush. The gospel turned country crooners brightened up the 41st president's day as he recovers at a Houston hospital. One of the "Oak Ridge Boys," Richard Sterban, joins me now from Nashville, Tennessee. Thanks very much for being with me.

RICHARD STERBAN, OAK RIDGE BOYS: Martin, thank you for having me. It's my pleasure certainly.

SAVIDGE: That's quite a voice and so distinctive and clearly you've got healing powers, at least the song has healing powers for the president, because soon after you sang to him, he was moved from ICU and I believe went into a regular hospital room. How did this connection between you and the president all get started?

STERBAN: Well, you know, we have a long, very long, long friendship with the Bush family. It actually started way back when he was vice president and it's continued up to this present day. George and Barbara are very dear friends of the Oak Ridge Boys.

He officially refers to us as his boys and so we were able to work it out between Barbara and the Bush family and four of to us make a phone call to President Bush while he was there in ICU and were able to sang couple of songs for him. And able to cheer him up just a little bit.

We asked him what he wanted to hear and quickly he said, "Elvira." So we sang a little of that for him and we went into one of his all-time favorites, which was "Amazing Grace."

SAVIDGE: Yes, well, both of them are great songs. And then you added "American Made," which is another great hit for you. As you sang, did he sing along with you? Could you tell what reaction you were getting?

STERBAN: Well, he has sung along with us in the past. It was difficult to tell over the telephone whether he was actually singing, but according to Barbara and his kids, he was just beaming. We got emails, to talk about how it affected him and such a positive way. It made us feel very good, that we were able to help out a little bit.

SAVIDGE: It helped out more than just a little bit. Because whether it was coincidence or not, he moved and appears to be getting better, thanks to your heartfelt singing, how does that make you feel?

STERBAN: It makes us feel very well, I think a lot of people have been praying for him. So I think as a result of our prayers and well wishes and maybe just a little bit of good music from the Oak Ridge Boys, things are heading in the right direction.

SAVIDGE: I think you're right. Maybe they could use some of that on Capitol Hill. Richard Sterban, thanks very much. It's a pleasure talking to you as always.

Well as we say, the clock ticking down on the fiscal cliff and will lawmakers on Capitol Hill be able to beat that clock? Americans are speaking out and you know what, they are not happy.

And what does Hillary Clinton have in common with Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan? Our new poll says it all. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAVIDGE: You are looking at the center of attention at least for this afternoon, the Senate where they are still trying to work out a deal to avoid a fiscal cliff. We're just watching and keeping an eye on things so we'll bring you the latest developments as they happen. When they do, we'll bring them to you.

Let's move on in the meantime. Deal or no deal -- that is the $64,000 question, isn't it? And this is not a game show. We are talking about, of course, the high-stakes politics in Washington that will impact every American family.

The fiscal cliff is here and we all go over it in two days unless the president and Congress are able to come up with some kind of budget deal. So let's bring in Bryan Monroe. He is the editor of He is joining us from San Antonio, Texas.

Bryan, nobody really wants their taxes to go up. We know come Tuesday, everyone who gets a paycheck will get less money in it unless a deal is reached. I know you've been talking to people and getting the pulse of the country, what are they saying to you?

BRYAN MONROE, EDITOR, CNNPOLITICS.COM: You know, Martin, you're right. Gallup did a recent poll looking at this. Let's take a look at this. This recent poll shows that 68 percent of Americans are saying lawmakers should compromise in order to reach this fiscal cliff solution. Only 22 percent think those lawmakers need to stick to their guns and not budge either on tax increases or spending cuts -- Martin.

SAVIDGE: So we know that gridlock, of course, has been a big problem and we're seeing more, it appears on this issue. In the end, could this result in who has the upper hand in public support?

MONROE: Well, that's the game they're playing right now, is it the Republicans to blame or the Democrats? President Obama has seen an increase in his numbers as they've been going through this.

As you saw with Dana Bash, right now they're at a standstill, who knows what they're going to do. You know, we asked citizens who do you think is to blame and let's take a look at those numbers.

Over half of Americans, 54 percent support President Obama and his handling of the fiscal cliff situations, that's compared to what, 28 percent of Americans who approve of House Speaker John Boehner and the job that he's doing.

You know, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, he has got an approval rating just a little bit above that, 34 percent for his role in the fiscal cliff negotiations.

SAVIDGE: Let's move on to some other polling information, which is I agree is pretty long-term. Locking out to 2016 now, what is the potential impact on all of this say on who could replace the current president of the United States? What are we seeing? MONROE: Well, you know, that's right. The future is very fascinating. We took a look in a poll that we released today, the CNN/ORC poll that looked at Republicans and Democrats. We asked citizens from both parties, who they support, who is going to be at the top of their lists?

Let's take a look at those numbers. You know, here's the lineup, for the Democrats it's Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She's far and away ahead of the pack with what, 85 percent of those who said they would support her.

She's got nearly a 20-point lead over the next front-runners, which is Vice President Joe Biden. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the son of Mario Cuomo is in third with 56 percent.

SAVIDGE: A lot of that I would guess is probably just simply based on name recognition at this point?

MONROE: Yes, it really is. You know, we can even take a look at the Republican field, which is a little tighter, but it's still early. You've got Paul Ryan, who has gotten a big boost in name recognition from his run as vice president in the recent election.

He's at the top of the list with 75 percent of support then you've got New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. You know, he is very outgoing, has been talked about as a candidate for 2016. He's got 59 percent and Florida Senator Marco Rubio is right behind him at 58 percent.

SAVIDGE: All right, well, we got a little time to work this all up. Bryan Monroe, thank you very much. We appreciate it. Well, there's no deal on the fiscal cliff. That we know. And many Americans are not happy about it we'll hear your take on it. We'll hear your take on it.

Meanwhile, New York City is preparing for the New Year's Eve celebration. Anderson and Kathy Griffin want you to get ready for our special coverage tomorrow night. We'll hear from them both.


SAVIDGE: All day long we've been listening to voices coming out of Washington talking about the fiscal cliff. Now it's time to listen to you and to aid us in that effort Josh Levs joins me now -- Josh.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and look, I mean, this is a critical part of the story. You know, why our lawmakers are trying to actually get something done right now, well, a big part of it, the legitimate economic concerns about what happens to the economy if that fiscal cliff takes in and who gets blamed for it.

But also because more and more Americans are fed up and frustrated. So we're not telling you the story unless we're telling you what you and many Americans out there are saying about this and what better way to start them through I-Report.

We're getting a lot of video clips from you saying how you feel. We're going to start off with this one. It came in today from 18- year-old college student who says she really wants to believe in the government.


SHANNEN BAZZI, I-REPORTER: My New Year's message to Washington is that this entire fiscal cliff problem isn't just an isolated incident. It's representative of how partisanship and polarization have taken over Congress.


LEVS: She goes on to say she really want the government to actually work. Now some of you are sending videos in which you give an actual prescription for what you think should be done, what shouldn't be cut. Take a look at Joseph Segal says.


JOSEPH SEGAL, I-REPORTER: My New Year's message to Washington is to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. Invest in our children, in our schools and in our communities, raise taxes on the rich, and eliminate corporate loopholes, and do not cut Social Security or Medicare. Thank you and Happy New Year.


LEVS: Now, I-Reporters is one way we're communicating with you. Another way is Facebook. I got a big discussion going on my Facebook page. Let me show you a few quotes what people are posting there on @joshlevscnn, join anytime.

This first one, let the Bush tax cuts expire. Go back to the Clinton era tax rate and watch Republicans squirm. That's what Benjamin Bog is saying. The next one takes a different says, we need to cut entitlements and spending, and get people of government reliance.

That's Candria Crisp who wants what some of Republicans are pushing for, saying they want more spending cuts in the legislation. I think we have time to jump in with one more. Let's do this one.

The people in Congress have their form of entitlements, but still end up on vacation with no work done. That's Terrence Hogan. One of many people complaining that Congress only got back together in this respect in recent days and hasn't had this worked out a long time ago.

So we're going to invite you. We're going to be sharing your I- Reports, your comments on Facebook, your comments on Twitter throughout the afternoon, throughout the evening. Go ahead and send them and Martin, we'll be back later on with more.

SAVIDGE: Well, after all, Congress does work for the people. Maybe it's good they hear from the home office from time to time. All right, thanks very much, Josh.

Well, there's only one place to spend New Year's Eve and that is right here with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin. They've got a special preview for us.


SAVIDGE: Leading our coverage from Times Square on New Year's Eve, Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin. Of course, the two will host as the New Year is welcomed around the world. Anderson and Kathy are here to tell us what's in store for us.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN'S "AC 360": I'm here with Kathy Griffin. Kathy, the funny thing is we're on CNN Weekend right now. If they're wondering who their typical viewer is, it's actually you, because all you're doing during the weekend is watch CNN, right?

KATHY GRIFFIN, COMEDIAN: I am a CNN super fan. I know the entire slate, the reporters. I'm so excited to be doing New Years with Candy Crowley. I mean, two women, she clearly did the best debate out of any of the CNN reporters.

COOPER: She's not doing New Year's with you. You're doing it me again.

GRIFFIN: Kathy and Blitz-Griffin?


GRIFFIN: I thought you were busy going to Andy Cohen's New Year's Eve party?

COOPER: No. I put aside all parties because I want to spend it with you.

GRIFFIN: Are you going to come on the rise and do like 10 minutes and then you're out?

COOPER: Yes. I will physically be there. Mentally I will be in my safe place.

GRIFFIN: All right, just out of curiosity, this year we're on for two and a half hours. Obviously you don't know what's going to happen. Even more than America, don't know. What are the kinds of things like mantras or phrases you use to calm yourself?

COOPER: There's no real -- there are no real mantras, I mean I, although I am looking at you from time to time I'm just not there. I'm just --

GRIFFIN: When you look at me, do you see Kelly Ripa and you feel better?

COOPER: Yes, basically I'm imagining Kelly Ripa exactly.

GRIFFIN: OK, because she's more calming for you, I understand. Do you ever look at me and see Sanjay. You know he could take your blood pressure or anything?

COOPER: No, no. And you know, I don't know that other people know that I'm not sure I've told you this. But this all started six years ago there was a typo, I actually requested Kathie Lee and somehow --

GRIFFIN: Can't book her.

COOPER: I don't know if it was they changed the name or -- we ended up with you, and it's been great. I'm not denigrating you.

GRIFFIN: No, even Kathie Lee is happy. I know, look, Kathie Lee and Hoda are happy, having box wine with my mother somewhere, so they're taken care of. What's the worst thing, what's the worst thing that you think I might do to you this year?

COOPER: You've already done pretty much the worst things I can imagine you doing. You yelled at a person in the crowd, an obscenity.

GRIFFIN: I thought I was protecting you.

COOPER: The following year you uttered multiple obscenities under your breath.

GRIFFIN: I'm a little dyslexic.

COOPER: Sadly, I did not hear it because of all the noise, it was only after we started getting calls from "The New York Times" and others that I realized had you been saying this all along.

GRIFFIN: Is the "New York Times" like "Us Weekly"? I've never heard of this thaw speak of.

COOPER: It's a big paper on the east coast. And last year you stripped, which was a first for me.

GRIFFIN: Well maybe not the last. Also remember, I strip to a degree. I didn't, I didn't go full landing strip.

COOPER: I don't know what that means.

GRIFFIN: You will, it's the weekend show.

COOPER: It's the weekend show. What are you looking forward to in the New Year? Do you have a resolution?

GRIFFIN: I have no resolutions, I don't believe in them. My resolution is to get other people to not have resolutions. It's the same thing, to just try to keep Oprah and Ryan Seacrest off my back. I just want to live another year. I believe that now you're in ka hoots with them, I believe there's plotting going on between the three of you. You're the trifecta of terror.

COOPER: People think you're kidding, but you really think Oprah and Ryan Seacrest are trying to kill you?

GRIFFIN: Yes. I believe Ryan Seacrest is so devious he's using you to get it me. I believe you're a messed-up star chamber and al I am is an innocent little dainty flower, trying to make people laugh and trying to make America better.

COOPER: Yes, how long have you been fixated on Ryan Seacrest? Why would he be trying to kill you?

GRIFFIN: Because Ryan knows that I have something he can never have. It's called talent. It's called quick-wittedness. It's called soul. Is this going to be an awkward dinner when we eat with him the night before?

COOPER: I think he seems like a very nice guy.

GRIFFIN: That's what they used to say about the devil.

COOPER: No one said that about the devil.

GRIFFIN: I bring out the devil is part of the parlor conversation.

COOPER: Do you know that Dorothy Parker is buried in a dress that my mom gave her?

GRIFFIN: That sounds like heaven to me. Don't act like that's nothing. We're going get to the bottom of all of your personal issues, they are many and they are varied.

COOPER: All right, I look forward to it.

GRIFFIN: I'm practicing not talking when you're talking. It's throwing you that I'm not talking nonstop. You don't know what to do with me now.

COOPER: Monday night, 10:00 p.m. "New Years Eve Live," two and a half hours, Kathy Griffin and me, thanks very much. Back to you.

SAVIDGE: Just a taste of what's in store come New Year's Eve. Meanwhile, minutes from now, Senate negotiators meet again on Capitol Hill trying to come up with a last-minute deal to avoid the fiscal cliff. It's coming down to the wire. You're watching it live right here on CNN. Keep it here. Our live coverage continues after a quick break.