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Fiscal Deadline Tomorrow Night; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Hospital

Aired December 30, 2012 - 22:00   ET

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


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon. Thanks for joining us.

We are watching two major stories affecting your world tonight. One, the health of the U.S. Secretary of State. Hillary Clinton is in the hospital right now with a blood clot. Stay right there. Full details on her condition and her prognosis.

And also tonight, say the words with me here, fiscal cliff. No vote yet, no agreement yet. And not a lot of time left. Can you say one more day?

We're going to start though with the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, hospitalized tonight with a blood clot. The clot was discovered today during a follow-up exam. Doctors say it is related to a concussion she suffered earlier this month. You will recall, the former First Lady was suffering from a stomach virus when she fainted.

I want to bring in CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta now.

Sanjay, she was just cleared to return to work this week, and now this.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (via phone): You know, there are a couple things here, I think, Don, that are very important. First of all, it sounds like and admittedly, the details are a little bit vague, Don. It sounds like she went in for a routine exam, they found a clot, a blood clot. They did not specify where this clot was located. And she's now hospitalized on blood thinners, anti-coagulants as you mentioned.

These are important points. You know, from a medical perspective, first of all, finding this on a routine exam means that she didn't go in for some particular new problem or new concern. And the fact that she's on blood thinners, specifically from this, really suggests to me, you know, as a neuron surgeon, we should all this all time. But, this is not a blood clot that's probably located in the brain, but rather somewhere else in the body. Probably the legs, for example, (INAUDIBLE), and that's something you would typically use anti- coagulants for.

I think what was tough to decide for a little bit, Don, here, was that they said this was related to the concussion, but not so much probably as a result of the head injury itself. But maybe because she had, you know, to take rest, be in bed or even, you know, just not doing much. And that could put someone at increased risk for a blood clot or deep venous thrombosis in the leg. That typically comes about just from inactivity or decrease activity, Don.

LEMON: Yes. And she was told to decrease her activity because of, you know, because of the concussion.

Dr. Gupta, the question is, for going into a doctor, though, for a routine checkup on a Sunday, wouldn't, I mean, wouldn't you think she had to be symptomatic or something to go to the hospital or have a checkup on a Sunday?

GUPTA: I do. I think that's a good point, Don. And you know, I mean, you know obviously, when you're Secretary of State, and when you're Hillary Clinton, frankly, and as you know, Don, someone who I know well, I worked for her in the past. But maybe she had some leg pain, maybe there was something that was bothering her a little bit. I think the threshold I get, Don, what I'm saying is, saying is a little lower in terms of getting checked out. And in this case, what would happen is, if someone had leg pain or even felt a knot or a clot in the leg somehow, they would do an ultrasound which is a noninvasive test. You do an ultrasound of the leg and look to see if there's a clot there. If there's a clot there, in and of it -- or she could have had leg swelling, for example, if there's a clot there, that in and of itself is not a problem. But you worry that it could break free and possibly cause what is known as a pulmonary embolism.

LEMON: Right.

GUPTA: It would break free and go to the lung and cause a problem. And that's why the blood thinners are used, Don, to try to thin out the blood, break up the clot and prevent that from happening.

Again, you know, we're all speculating here a bit, in part because the secretary's office has been a little vague in terms of describing what's going on. But that is the most likely scenario, Don.

LEMON: All right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Thank you, Dr. Gupta.

You know, I've got Elise Labott on the phone with me now as well. She is our foreign affairs reporter.

Elise, you travelled with the Secretary of State, you watch her work, you see the pace she keeps. This is a tireless woman, not used to slowing down.

ELLISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER (via phone): Definitely not, Don. This is a woman who we can't even keep up with her. The pace that she goes, especially on the road. But, also here in Washington, is really relentless. There's not someone who just lies and meets in a foreign ministry with a leader or president and has a dinner. This is someone who's constantly going on the road, meeting with civil society groups, meeting with opposition groups, having town halls. Someone who really doesn't slow down. And I think, Don, she got this flu, this stomach virus over her -- during her last trip, and then it had a cumulative effect from there. She was ill, she was dehydrated, she fainted. She had a concussion, and now we see that she has this blood clot. We were researching a little bit, and we did see that in 1998 during the midterm election for her husband, President Clinton, she also was treated for a blood clot and was on blood thinners, and also was kind of also at the time, keeping this hectic pace.

So, I mean, it does seem that she has a history with these type of clots. But it is I think over the last few months, she's really been tired. She even said in a recent interview with Barbara Walters. She said, Barbara, I'm really tired. And I think that just the last few months have really taken a toll on her, Don.

LEMON: Yes. And Elise, you know, with this job we fly a lot. I usually fly domestically and it can take a toll on you. But when you're flying internationally, even though she has a staff or whatever, it is still -- you are still up and down in the air, in and out of different hotel rooms and you know, the plane air or what have you. Did you notice anything recently besides her saying, you know, I'm just, I'm tired?

LABOTT: I think a lot of people have said, you know, when they know that you're covering Hillary Clinton, they'll say to you, she looks tired. She looks tired. I think just the pace of the last four months, you know, everyone's been wondering, is she going to run for president in 2016? And when you ask her whether she's going to, she says, I mean, a lot of people don't necessarily believe her. But she says no. And I think one of the things is, that even if she believes it right now, I think a lot of people think she just needs some rest, she needs to slow down, and there have been people that have been worried about the pace that she's taking. Because this is not someone who's saying no, I can't do that. This is someone to her staff is saying, come on, we can fit one more thing in, we can fit one more meeting, we can fit one more country in.

Sometimes I traveled to three countries in a day with Secretary Clinton. And I think one of the last few weeks as she's been suffering from this horrible flu and this concussion has been making sure her doctors, making sure that she's not working too hard. She's been working a little bit from home, but they needed to make sure that she wasn't overtaxing herself.

LEMON: And Elise.

LABOTT: That sheen wasn't doing anything strenuous, that she was resting her brain. Because when you have a concussion, it's not just a bump on the head, this is a brain injury. And they wanted to make sure she was resting and not going in a certainly at the pace that she was going.

LEMON: And yes. And doctors told her to take a rest. Take a rest. And now from this checkup, they've discovered this clot.

Elise Labott, our foreign affairs reporter. Thank you, Elise. Other news in Washington to tell you about. No deal tonight out of Capitol Hill. The deadline, midnight tomorrow, will we have a deal by then? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: This hour's top story, breaking news tonight, Hillary Clinton will spend New Year's Eve in a New York City hospital with a blood clot. Doctors admitted the Secretary of State today after a medical exam. The clot is believed related to the concussion she suffered earlier this month when she fainted from the effects of a stomach virus. Doctors want to keep a close eye on her for the next 48 hours.

No vote tonight as negotiations on Capitol Hill stall in the final hours to avert falling over the fiscal cliff. Senate leaders, well they need to put something together to avoid tax increases for just about everyone and big spending cuts.

Senator Claire McCaskill says, a make or break deal comes down to a few lawmakers on the topic of taxes for the wealthy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: It remains to be seen whether the Republicans being driven by a very extreme group of house members will allow our economy to pert because of their desire to protect multimillionaires in this country. And I think that's what it's going to boil down to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Any Cobol together plan would then need House speaker John Boehner to bring it to the floor for a vote. Republican representative Tom Cole says he's confident that Boehner can get the votes he needs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TIM COLE (R), OKLAHOMA: On the speaker's plan, he had over 200 Republican votes. So, it's not as if he doesn't have an awfully strong hand to play. If it's a deal with John Boehner can accept, then frankly, I think it will be passed in a bipartisan manner with a very strong majority. If on the other hand he's neutral and not favorable, then, his chances will be a lot slimmer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: CNN's Lisa Desjardins following the news on Capitol Hill.

Do you have any good news for us, Lisa?

LISA DESJARDINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the news is a little better than it was earlier today. We know that negotiations actually are still happening. There was a point today where there was a total breakdown. And tonight it is between Senator Mitch McConnell, the top Republicans in the Senate and also vice president Joe Biden. But, I will tell you. Some of the last people in the building, and in fact, come on through, guys, if you want. There's actually one of the crews that -- the worker crews are starting to come into work tonight because we're the last reporting crew. All the members of Congress have pretty much gone. Hey, guys.

The Republicans in the house were meeting late tonight to try to talk about what to do. But Don, in the end, this is what our producer Deirdre Walsh heard from them. The message is just sit tight, stay tuned and I think what we have to do, Don, is find out tomorrow morning, whether there is any progress between Senator McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden. But, there is definitely hope. There is not a lot of time.

LEMON: Well, let me tell you this, Lisa. When you see the workers there, and the crew that -- and those are the people who, you know, these negotiations are about. Every day Americans who work these types of jobs, who are every day Americans and so there you go. I think that is absolutely tells the story.

DESJARDINS: Don, I want to.

LEMON: Go ahead.

DESJARDINS: You got it.

LEMON: Go ahead.

DESJARDINS: I was going to sneak in one thing we found that hasn't been reported tonight. Also, on the table during negotiations in the last two days, Don, have been capital gains taxes. Those are the taxes that largely affects an investments, remember that came up with Mitt Romney. A lot of his taxes come from his capital gains.

We know now that on the table, Republicans and Democrats told us there's a discussion of adding a new capital gains rate, a higher rate for the wealthy. That's a big deal, because that's something Republicans have never talked about before in the past. But it's something that has been on the table during these negotiations. I was able to find that out today. We don't know if that will be in the final deal. But, it is something to watch for, there's a lot more on the table, I think, than people realize.

LEMON: Lisa, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

DESJARDINS: You got it.

LEMON: Secretary Clinton is in the hospital tonight. The concern, a blood clot that's developed. We'll have the latest next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: We're following breaking news tonight. It's the medical condition of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She is in a New York City hospital where she will remain, at least for the next few days. According to her spokesman, doctors found a blood clot today during a medical exam related to her concussion a few weeks ago. They want to keep her at New York (INAUDIBLE) hospital for observations.

Just 26 hours before the fiscal cliff deadline and for now, lawmakers have hit an impasse. So, what happens if no deal is reached? Specifically, how much would you pay in taxes? There's a calculator online to help you figure that out.

CNN's Josh Levs breaks it down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If you want to have a sense of how the fiscal cliff could affect you, specifically, in terms of how much more you would pay in taxes, let's take a look at this great tool right here, from the tax policy center. It's called the tax calculator. It allows you to plug in all sorts of information about yourself and your family, to find out how your taxes would change based on all sorts of factors.

Now, it is just an estimate, we can't predict the future. But, there are some really good ways to find out how the fiscal cliff would hit you at home. So, what we have done is we have been taken a couple generic examples. We want to show you those right here.

Let's turn of this one. This is, if you look at a married couple with one child in college. Now, if this couple has an income around $39,000 tax bill goes up $2,700. Look at that right there. That's a big chunk of money out of that income. That's big.

Now, if they're making about $84,000. They'll be paying another $3,000 in taxes. And if this couple has high income, more than $137,000 they're looking at another $8,000 in taxes. Now, that is just one set of generic examples there.

There are all sorts of other things along the way that you can look at. It depends what the deductions would be. Let's take a look at this one here. If you're looking at a single person with no children, all right? Income of about $46,000, that person will pay about another $1300 in taxes. If that person has high income, about $158,000, that person will pay about $5700 more in taxes.

How will it work out for you? This is what you do. You go to this Web site, you give it all the information you can come up with, and it will crunch the numbers for you. To make it easy to find I put it up on Facebook and Twitter I'm @joshlevsCNN. You will find the link right there. And after you do that, use that to inform your opinion and let us know what you think about the fiscal cliff in ireports. Send us a message on Facebook or Twitter, we'll share some of your messages here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Thank you, Josh.

Next we're going to go live to Washington. Is Congress going to let this happen? Are they really? Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: If we go over the fiscal cliff tomorrow night, Congress could still pass a bill in a couple weeks to prevent scheduled tax increases with minimal damage. But, there's no guarantee they'll be able to come to an agreement quickly.

Ryan Lizza is a CNN contributor and Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker." Ryan, it's good to see you at night.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good to see you. Thanks for having me.

LEMON: And during the evening. You know, this uncertainty that Americans are living with right now, do you think a deal can be reached by tomorrow?

LIZZA: You know, I don't know. It's -- right now, as CNN's been reporting, it's up to Mitch McConnell and Joe Biden. Those apparently are the two men where the entire negotiations have moved to. Senator Harry Reid who runs the Senate left tonight and told reporters on the way out, if you want to know if there's a deal, talk to Biden and McConnell. So, it is in their hands.

They have a history of reaching agreements. In the White House, Biden is known as the McConnell whisperer, and he got that reputation a couple years ago, when he was able to forge a budget agreement in 2010. So, maybe, maybe there will be a breakthrough. But there are a lot of liberals and a lot of conservatives who will argue that no deal is better than a bad deal that's rushed through tomorrow at the last second. So, that's another dynamic to keep in mind.

LEMON: When you said they have a history of making deals together --

LIZZA: Well, one --

LEMON: Yes. On which issues do you think the two sides may end up compromising?

LIZZA: Well, the level at which taxes will rise above where they are right now. So Obama's insistence has been, if you make over $250,000 a year, on the income over 250 you pay a little more in the new rates he's proposing.

Now, he's been willing -- it's been reported that he's gone as high as 400,000 in the negotiations with Boehner. So that's a place for agreement. The other place is the estate tax. The estate tax is scheduled to rise by quite a bit at the stroke of midnight tomorrow night. Republicans want to keep it low, Democrats want it to go up a little bit. There's room for compromise there.

And so, you know, it's not just marginal rates that are going up, there's a series of taxes that they're going to change. The thing that could not be settled today was this change CPI. That is essentially a benefit cut for Social Security recipients. That led to a breakdown in negotiations today, because Republicans wanted those benefit cuts to Social Security. And Democrats said no way. And that was the sticking point and that's when this thing moved from the Senate over to Biden and McConnell where it is and will be overnight. And we are not going to know until tomorrow morning if they come up with something.

LEMON: Yes, and the Senate went home, obviously.

Here's my question. I know we're Americans, we're very myopic. We like to think everything is just about us here. This isn't just about Americans, it's how about we look around the world, how other people perceive us. Is this making us look bad beyond America?

LIZZA: Our political system is not working, Don. I mean, that's the bottom line. Whether you think, you know, we can afford to go over the fiscal cliff tomorrow night and then, repair the damage a few weeks later which is an option. Whether you believe that or not, this thing has been out there. We've known about this for, you know, hundreds of days. We had an election where this was the front and center issue in our presidential election. And yet still, we can't solve this issue.

So remember when Moody's downgraded us? They downgraded us, because they said our political system wasn't working and they didn't trust folks in Washington to fix the economy. That's another -- this is another example of that. And I think people around the world look at it, and they just shake their heads and they don't understand why politics in Washington is not working. And we can go into the reasons and who's to blame for that. But, that's what we're left with as we face this deadline tomorrow night?

LEMON: We're all to blame, because we all put up with this every single time.

Thank you. Thank you, Ryan. Appreciate it.

LIZZA: Thanks, Don. Good to see you.

LEMON: Good to see you as well.

We're watching two major stories for you tonight. One the health of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She's in the hospital right now with a blood clot. And of course, as we have been talking about this, as well, the fiscal cliff, the fiscal cliff. As you heard, Ryan Lizza say, there's no agreement yet, and not a lot of time left.

The latest on both, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Getting close to the bottom of the hour, we want to get you a look at the headlines right now.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been hospitalized. This after doctors discovered a blood clot. The former First Lady had just been cleared to go back to work when doctors made the discovery. She suffered a concussion after fainting a couple weeks ago. Doctors said she had a nasty stomach virus and collapsed from dehydration. We have a live report coming up in a just a couple minutes here on CNN. The other big story tonight, of course, is the action or inaction on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers do not reach a fiscal cliff agreement, could you see your taxes skyrocket and deep spending cuts kick in. Major sticking points, entitlements and tax increases. House Republicans have ended their meetings tonight. We'll find out in the morning whether vice president Joe Biden and Senate GOP leader, Mitch McConnell, had made any progress in their talks. Any deal would have to get enough votes to pass the Senate and the house.

President Obama says Sandy Hook school shooting, the Sandy Hook school shooting was the worst day of his presidency. And Americans will have to explore their own feelings when his gun law reform proposals come out next year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The question then becomes, whether we are actually shook up enough by what happened here, that it does not become another one of these routine episodes where it gets a lot of attention for a couple weeks and then it drifts away. It certainly won't feel like that to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: The president says the law he's pushing will address assault style rifles, high capacity magazines and background checks.

The fiscal cliff, it's not the only deadline pressing on Congress. A five-year farm subsidies bill that expired in September was never renewed. House and Senate members did come up with a short term extension to prevent prices from going through the roof in January.

A charter bus crashed today interstate 84 near Pendleton, Oregon killing nine people. It happened on this icy stretch of interstate. The police say the bus skidded on the ice, left the road and tumbled a couple 100 feet down the embankment. At least 26 others were injured.

Thousands of first responders came to honor one of their own today in Webster, New York. Todd Lascano(ph) was one of two killed during an ambush on Christmas Eve. The 43-year-old was a volunteer with the fire department. Police believed an ex-convict set houses on fire, and then killed two firemen and wounded three others as they responded to the call.

We're working with our sources at the state department and in New York tonight learning what we can about Hillary Clinton's current situation. We found out a couple of hours ago that the Secretary of State was admitted to the hospital with a blood clot.

And Elise Labott now on the phone, she is our foreign affairs reporter, state department reporter.

Elise, give us an update now.

LABOTT (via phone): Don, she was admitted to the hospital today after doctors found this blood clot. As you know, Secretary Clinton has been out for the last few weeks. She was suffering for a stomach virus and then, it kind cascaded from there. She fainted out of dehydration.. She suffered a concussion, and has been resting for the last few weeks under a doctor's care. Our understanding is that during a routine physical exam, I guess getting that all clear to go back to work this week. They did find a blood clot.

And we understand that Secretary Clinton does have a history of such blood clots in her legs. She was treated for a blood clot in 2008 during the midterm election. And she was put on blood thinners there. So, we haven't heard that much from the secretary's office. But we understand that they have a handle on it, and they think she's going to be just fine.

LEMON: So, think she's going to be just fine. Obviously, she will have to -- she'll have to have a reduced or minimized schedule because of that?

LABOTT: Well, obviously, Don. And the last few years Secretary Clinton always has been someone that keeps a frantic pace even when she was First Lady, Senator. The last few years, Don, she's really been going at a kind frantic pace. They call her the ever ready bunny sometimes, you know.

The journalists that travel with her can't even keep up with her, she's always, you know, got some other group to visit, some other place to go, some other event and sometimes we could travel to three countries in a day. I mean, this is someone who really puts the pedal to the medal. She was looking to spend up until the very last day to be in the job until the very last day, until her successor, Senator John Kerry who has been tapped by President Obama just to seat her, to be in the job for the very last day.

And obviously, this is a major setback for her. Because she was looking to come back to work, she was looking to testify on the incident in Benghazi which killed Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans. There was a blistering report earlier this month that found lack - very poor security provided by the state department and a lot of people have been looking for Secretary Clinton to testify.

LEMON: Can we talk a little bit more about that because there had been some criticism. There were some who believe the Secretary of State was not as sick as she said she was, and that she was trying to avoid testifying about Benghazi.

LABOTT: That's right. She was scheduled to testify. She was scheduled to come back to work and testify. And it turns out that her deputies, Thomas Nides and Bill Burns, testified in her stead. And there were a lot of people, a lot of commentators who thought and essentially were accusing her of faking it. And there were some Senators and Congressmen on Capitol Hill that said they know she's sick. But she still needs to testify, and they didn't think the issue would be closed on until that was settled, until she spoke before Congress.

And I think that was heavy on her mind, you know. There's been a lot of talk about Secretary Clinton, whether she would run for president in 2016. She says she won't. A lot of people don't believe her. But, I think that that is something that if she says end up wanting to run, is she says right now that she won't, but if she changes her mind, if she reconsiders, if gets some rest, I think that this is something that she really wanted to hear -- have Congress hear her word on, put this behind her, and then she can put back the rest of her life, Don. And I think that people accuse her of faking it are kind of reconsidering that right now.

LEMON: There are still conspiracy theorists out there, I've seen it tonight, even saying, I think it could be, so you know. You know how that goes, Elise.

Thank you very much, Elise Labott. We appreciate your reporting.

Our other big story of the night, no deal in Washington, can they do it in 24 hours what they haven't been able to do until now? Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This whole fiscal cliff mess shows how incredibly out of touch you are with the way people really live in this country. You are off in la la land, and everyone's saying how you're acting like a bunch of spoiled brats who are more interested in being right than in doing the right thing and actually representing the people who elected you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Aren't most folks that way, though? Either way the folks on Capitol Hill have called it a day and they gone home. They reconvene tomorrow morning. But Democrats and Republicans are so far apart on their demands to prevent a fiscal cliff. That it will take a lot of negotiating to even reach a deal.

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin says, we need to avert the fiscal cliff to keep the economic recovery going.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: You know, the American people know what's at stake here. We have a tenuous recovery, we have more people going back to work now, businesses are a little more confident. But this is really important, this fiscal cliff is an important element in economic recovery. I hope we get it done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Cross the aisle. Republican Congressman Tom Cole says a deal, any deal will be hard to get done.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLE: Look. There is not enough revenue in this package whatever the quote number is to fix the fiscal problems for the country. And we are going to be in trench, you know, hand to hand warfare beginning in January with the continuing resolution the debt ceiling to try to deal and the sequester to try and with spending issues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, continued uncertainty about tax and spending policies in 2013 could result in another recession.

Frustration seems to be the operative word tonight. If no fiscal cliff deal is reached, most everyone's taxes will go up Tuesday with deep spending cuts kicking in. Earlier I spoke with a Democratic and Republican strategists, Maria Cardona and Ana Navarro. And they seemed to echo the sentiment of the voters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: This is like, Don, when you at the beginning of the year and you're in school at the beginning of the year, you get assigned a big project and you leave it until the last night. When I used to do that, my parents used to punish me. If kids were behaving the way these Congress people are, they would be in the time out. If it was the public sector they would be fired.

There is absolutely no excuse. And the only solution I would tell you lies with us, the American people, and with us the voters demanding that they start working together and actually coming up with something. We cannot continue having these spec tackles every few months. It's like making sausage.

LEMON: Can we talk about the optics of this, Maria? There are many people who say, you know what, I hear you guys up there this is a Republican and democratic problem. But, we're here because Republicans won't play ball.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I mean, you know, it's easy for me to say that, and I actually do think that politically, the Republicans will suffer more if this doesn't get done. I mean, the Republicans lost the election, a big reason was because the middle class Americans and normal every day people didn't think that this was a party that understood what they were going through. And if they are now seen as being the ones that are making taxes go up on everybody because they want to protect taxes for the rich, that's not going to be politically good for them.

But at the end of the day, this isn't good for Democrats either. So, I don't think Democrats or Republicans wants us to go over the cliff because while again, Republicans will be blamed more, Democrats aren't going to come out smelling very nice on this either, because everybody -- everybody. Everybody Don, You, Ali, Ana, me, the American people are frustrated that we're waiting until the 11th hour to get this done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And while the clock is ticking toward the showdown on the fiscal cliff. One of the big questions is, what will happen next? Shawn Tully is her, editor at large for "Fortune" magazine. He joins us from New York right now. You have followed most of the major economic stories for more than 20 years now. I'm not trying to make you seem old. Sometimes I do, when I say how long I've been doing this.

Is this the first time you've seen something go this close to the wire?

SHAWN TULLY, EDITOR AT LARGE, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: I think so, Don. And what's really troubling about the debate is really missed by a lot of commentators, this is really a spending issue. We understand that even if taxes go up on individuals making over 200,000 and families making over 250, it only plugs about eight percent of the deficit problem over the next ten years.

We have a $1.3 trillion deficit for 2012. It's going to be about a trillion through 2013. We're borrowing 35 cents on the dollar. The enormous problem is interest rates are way below normal, so when they spike, which inevitably will, and the government is borrowing very short term to keep its costs down. The deficit is going to swamp the economy.

And at that point you're going to have the debt crisis, and you're going to need a whole new stream of revenues. The only thing that Paul Krugman and Paul Ryan, the two Pauls agree on, is that in the crisis situation, only a value added tax will solve this problem.

There is no was no way enough revenue can be raised by raising marginal tax rates to get us out of this potential crisis. So we need very, very steep spending cuts, all of the emphasis and debate has been over marginal tax rates which are really a minor part of the solution, no matter what political strife you happen to be. Have you to realize that tremendous spending cuts are necessary and already -- any changes to Social Security have been ruled out in a short term solution, and it's going to be very difficult. The Congressmen from Oklahoma were correct. That it's going to be hand to hand combat in the next session in order to get any kind of cuts. No one is talking about major cuts.

LEMON: And Shawn --

TULLY: Except some on the Republican side.

LEMON: And Shawn, I hear what you're saying. It sounds like, you know, I've read that this fiscal cliff thing is too much austerity so quickly at one point. So, what is the worst case scenario at this point?

TULLY: Well, austerity works both ways. Austerity for the public sector is stimulus for the private sector. It's the same money, you're just shifting it from one pocket to another. So, spending cuts would be very, very reassuring to the markets.

You are always hearing that if government spending is cut, all of a sudden all that money disappears from the economy. That's not correct. That money has to be cycled into the private sector. That's a good thing.

So austerity in terms of shrinking the size of government, or the growth of government would be very healthy for the economy. Austerity in Europe is something elsewhere because of the euro situation you have to cut people's wages to make those countries competitive again. That's a completely different issue. But, austerity in terms of reversing the tremendous increase we've had in government spending over the last four years. Remember, we've gone from 2.9 trillion to 3.8 trillion in spending, 30 odd percent increase in four years. And there's no trend or motivation so far to reverse that or normalize that. So again, austerity for the public sector is stimulus for the private sector.

LEMON: All right. Thank you very much, Shawn. Happy new year to you as well.

TULLY: You too, Don.

LEMON: Happy New Year to you, as well.

A mom and her kids reunited after they had been missing for nearly a week, thanks to a CNN viewer. Thanks to you. Hear their story next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So, it unfolded right here on CNN.

Theresa Nash came on our show making a desperate plea for help to find her tow missing boys. A nationwide search was underway to locate Ben and Henry Cleary. They were on a holiday trip with their father in Tennessee. They were supposed to return to Georgia on December 24th, they never came back.

During our live interview last night, Theresa made a desperate plea for help in finding her sons. And then, just minutes after that interview, the boys called their mother, told her they were safe and that they were in Austin, Texas. Police there tell CNN that someone at a hotel recognized the boy from the amber alert and our program and they contacted police. Theresa jumped on a plane to Texas and was reunited with her sons, just hours later.

Theresa and her sons have returned and they came here to our couch to share their story. She has not told them everything. But here's how our conversation went.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Tell us what happened at the hotel.

BEN CLEARY, REUNITED WITH MOTHER: We tried calling her, but it went to -- it seemed like her phone was shut off. And there was no -- it didn't turn -- it didn't answer.

LEMON: Right. And then the man came in and said what?

BEN CLEARY: I forget. What man? LEMON: The man came in and said, we've been looking for you everywhere?

BEN CLEARY: Yes.

LEMON: What happened.

HENRY CLEARY, REUNITED WITH MOTHER: He said, we've been looking for you everywhere, and he showed us how much my mom loved us. He put on -- he got his phone out and he showed us on the internet.

LEMON: Yes. And then you called your mom?

HENRY CLEARY: Yes. We called our mom.

LEMON: Who called? Who talked? Who spoke first?

HENRY CLEARY: Me.

LEMON: What you say?

HENRY CLEARY: I forgot.

THERESA NASH, REUNITED WITH HER SONS: You said, yes!

LEMON: Did you miss mommy all that time?

HENRY CLEARY: Very much.

LEMON: We didn't know. Because you know, the reception -- we had no idea, we didn't know. So we were kind of worried about you. Did you know that?

BEN CLEARY: No.

LEMON: No? But now, you do?

HENRY CLEARY: Yes, now we do.

LEMON: Do you feel bad that you worried us?

HENRY CLEARY: Kind of.

LEMON: I'm kidding with you. So mommy, how do you feel?

NASH: More grateful than I ever thought possible. Grateful to everybody, grateful to you. It was this show the gentleman had just seen on my way home yesterday from taping. I got a call, and I'm answering every call and it was a gentleman, hello, my name is -- I don't know what his name is, but the FBI is going to let me know -- I'm sitting with your sons, Ben and Henry, and they would like to talk to you.

LEMON: And?

NASH: And I said oh, my God, oh, my God, oh, my God, no, no, no, no, no. Because I was so afraid it wasn't true. But all of a sudden Henry was on the phone and he said, mommy. And I said yes, and he said yes!

LEMON: Best sound you ever heard.

NASH: Oh, my goodness.

LEMON: What are you sharing with the boys, just that they couldn't get the reception and then, what are you saying?

NASH: Yes, absolutely. And everybody in this country has been looking for them. The people on all of the media has been helping and the FBI and every police officer in this country has been looking. People have been so thankful, we bumped into strangers all day in the airport. And the security officer and the ticket checker person, and they keep running up to the car and hugging us. And everywhere, they just recognize us immediately. And the boys didn't know that, and they're so shocked. And they think they're little bit movie stars. And I told them they get one week and then life goes back to normal. We got one week and I go back to shouting orders and not putting up with any junk, right?

LEMON: So, you can imagine there are many families that go through this, and it's not always a positive or happy outcome. You understand that?

NASH: Yes.

LEMON: What do you say to those families?

NASH: Oh, my goodness. Well, I was right there with you, and it is by the Grace of God and all the people in this country and all the angels in heaven and all the people praying and the FBI and Roswell police department and Dan's family who were such a critical part of this relief effort. Everybody pulled together.

The delta folks, you all, the media has been our angels and their angels all over. We have all your names and we got huge boxes of thank you cards and we're going to start that pretty quick.

LEMON: You are in such a different place than you were when you came here yesterday. You could feel it, you were in pain. And now, your light and the world is open up to you again.

NASH: It's all at peace. And we will be eternally grateful every minute of our lives for the rest of our life.

LEMON: Yes. All right, guys, all those people were wondering, where you are, they were worried about you, tell them, we're OK.

HENRY CLEARY: We're OK.

NASH: Thank you. Thank you.

HENRY CLEARY: Thank you so much.

BEN CLEARY: Thank you for praying.

NASH: Thank you for praying.

HENRY CLEARY: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Breaking news tonight on CNN.

Hillary Clinton admitted to a New York City hospital. Doctors admitted the Secretary of State today, after a merchandise exam revealed a blood clot. It's believed to be related to the concussion she suffered earlier this month, when she fainted from the effects of a stomach virus. Doctors want to keep a close eye on her for the next 48 hours.

I spoke with CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta earlier, and I asked him if it was a serious problem?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: The details are a little bit vague, Don. But it sounds like she went in for a routine exam. They found a blood clot, a blood clot. They did not specify where the clot is located and she's hospitalized on blood thinners, anti-coagulants as you mentioned. These are all important points. You know, from a medical perspective, first of all, finding this on routine exam means that, you know, she didn't go in for some particular new problem or new concern.

And the fact that she's on blood thinners specifically for this, really suggests to me as a neurosurgeon, we see this all the time, this is not a blood clot that's located in the brain but rather somewhere else in the body. Probably the legs, for example, a deep venous thrombosis. And that's something you would typically use anti- coagulants for.

What was tough to decipher a little bit, Don, here was whether this was related to the concussion, but not so much probably as a result of the head injury itself, but maybe because she had to, you know, be you know, in bed or even just not doing much. And that could put someone at an increased risk for a blood clot or deep venous thrombosis in the leg. That typically comes about just for inactivity or decreased activity, Don.

LEMON: Yes. And she was told to decrease her activity because of the concussion.

Dr. Gupta, the question is, for -- going into a doctor, though, for routine checkup on a Sunday, wouldn't -- I mean, wouldn't you think she had to be symptomatic or something to go to the hospital or be checked out on a Sunday? GUPTA: I do. I think it's a good point, Don. And you know, I mean, you know, obviously when you're Secretary of State and you're Hillary Clinton, frankly, and you know, as you know, Don, as someone I know well, I work for her in the past. But, maybe she had some leg pain, maybe there was something that was bothering her a little bit. I think the threshold I get, Don, what I'm saying is a little lower in terms of getting checked out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That was Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Negotiations on Capitol Hill stalled in the final hours to avert falling over the fiscal cliff. Senate leaders need to put something together to avoid tax increases for everyone and big spending cuts.

Senator Claire McCaskill says, a make or break deal may come down to just a few lawmakers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCASKILL: It remains to be seen whether the Republicans being driven by an extreme group of house members will allow our economy to hurt because of their desire to protect multimillionaires in this country. And I think that's what's going to boil down to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Any plan would need house speaker John Boehner to bring it to a floor for a vote. Republican representative Tom Cole says he's confident Boehner can get the plans he needs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLE: On the speaker's plan B, he had over 200 Republican votes. So, it's not as if he doesn't have an awfully strong hand to play. If it's a deal that John Boehner can accept, then frankly, I think it will be passed in a bipartisan manner with a strong majority. If on the other hand he's neutral and not favorable. Then his chances are going to be a lot slimmer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: We will find out in the morning whether any progress came out of the Senate leader Mitch McConnell's meeting with vice president Joe Biden.

We've been asking you our viewers to send in your thoughts, your messages to elected representatives. So, let's close tonight with some advice from one of you to Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My message to all of Washington for the new year is to set partisanship aside working on behalf of 100 percent of the voters, fix this mess you've gotten us into, bring a balanced budget to the table to grow this economy for the long term not the short term.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: There you go. I'm Don Lemon. Have a good night. Happy New Year to you.

END