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CNN NEWSROOM

Clinton Spends New Year in Hospital; Final Hours of Fiscal Cliff Negotiations; Long-Term Unemployed Affected First; Milk Prices Could Hit $7 per Gallon; Countdown to 2013

Aired December 31, 2012 - 09:00   ET

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


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Happy new year. Stories we are watching right now in the NEWSROOM. Hour by hour, inch by inch, the nation sliding closer to the fiscal cliff. We're going to have the latest on this morning's negotiations and how much you'll lose if those talks fail.

And minimum wage workers in ten states will actually see a pay raise as we ring in the new year, but they might not notice much of a difference in their paychecks.

Guns and ammo are flying off the shelves over public fears of a ban on assault rifles. It's a top priority of the president following the Sandy Hook school massacre. We are live at the White House with the latest details. Plus this.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Alina Cho in Times Square, where just hours from now New York will host what is arguably the biggest New Year's Eve party in the world. No. 1 tip. If you plan to come to Times Square, dress warmly. It is frigidly cold. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

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MALVEAUX: Good morning. I'm Suzanne Malveaux; I'm sitting in for Carol Costello. This morning, the clock ticking louder. The nation inching closer to this fiscal cliff. We could be just hours away from seeing all of our paychecks shrink.

We're following all the last minute drama to avoid that, of course. Brianna Keilar, she's covering this morning's urgent talks happening in Washington. Christine Romans shows us who's going to feel the the impact first, and Alison Kosik on Wall Street watching how worried investors are reacting this hour.

But first, also want to bring you another story: the health condition of the nation's top diplomat. This morning, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is waking up now in a New York hospital. She is being treated for a blood clot that formed after her fall and concussion that happened a few weeks ago.

Want to bring in Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our chief medical correspondent. And Sanjay, explain this for us because, first of all, when you think about it, she developed this blood clot related to a concussion so you would think maybe the clot formed in the brain, but that's not necessarily the case.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, it's not necessarily the case and I think saying it's related to the concussion, that may be putting that wrong impression possibly in people's minds.

There's a really simple reason why, Suzanne. She's being treated with blood thinners, or anti-coagulants. If this were a blood clot, for example, on top of the brain or around the brain, you wouldn't do that because that could worsen the bleeding, that could prevent an operation from being performed, if that is necessary. Again, no one is saying that's the case here.

But you're absolutely right, the typical sort of blood clots that are treated with blood thinners are something known as DVT, for example. You may have heard of this, deep venous thrombosis. It's something that often occurs in the legs, in the deep veins of the legs. It can be treated with anti-coagulation. You can see there, when one of these forms, you can treat that and dissolve it, that's what you want to do. The concern is that if it breaks off, it can actually travel through the body and all the way up into the lungs. That's called a pulmonary embolism, and that could potentially be a dangerous situation.

Again, we don't know, we haven't been told exactly where the blood clot is located. That's one of the concerns. It could also be in some of the veins around the head, as well. But, again, we're still awaiting some of those details, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Sanjay, from what we do know, do we suspect that this is something that's very serious?

GUPTA: Well, given the fact that the initial concussion she was actually told she could stay at home. She went in for an exam yesterday. My guess is, given that it was on a Sunday, it wasn't a routine exam. She may have had some particular thing that she wanted to get checked out. But now the doctors are saying that it will be 48 hours in the hospital.

That fits, Suzanne, with the amount of time it typically takes to put someone on blood thinners. So if that's the case, I think that all these things could potentially be serious, but it sounds like, from what we're hearing, they caught this in time.

MALVEAUX: You know, she's been doing a lot of traveling. She does, as Secretary of State, visiting more than 100 countries. It was back in 1998 as First Lady, that I had a chance to travel with her, and she had described that afterwards -- it was one of the most serious health scares she's ever had because of a blood clot behind her knee.

Do we suspect that because it happened once before, that it could happen , reoccur time and time again, especially if you travel?

GUPTA: Yes, absolutely. I remember that as well, Suzanne. So what you're describing is the first time that she had one of these blood clots. And if you've had one before, you are at higher risk of having one again. And if you add into that the traveling, which people are sitting, and they have their legs bent, and that reduces blood flow around the legs, that could put you at risk.

Also, after this concussion, one of the things she was told was to take it easy. You and I both know that's not an easy thing for her to do, but if she was taking it easy, lying around, that could also put you at increased risk for blood clot as well. So of all of those things potentially increase the risk. The treatment, though, Suzanne, again, these blood thinners, they usually do the trick.

MALVEAUX: All right, well, we wish her a good recovery. Thank you, Sanjay. We know she does not sit still for a minute. Appreciate it. Thanks again.

Want to get back to the fiscal cliff, where less than 15 hours from toppling over the edge if lawmakers can't seem to hammer out a deal or work something out. President Obama says he is modestly optimistic that negotiations could prevent these huge tax hikes and spending cuts from kicking in.

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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't yet see an agreement, and now the pressure is on Congress to produce. If they don't, what I've said is that in the Senate we should go ahead and introduce legislation that would make sure middle class taxes stay where they are, and there should be an up or down vote. Everybody should have a right to vote on that. If Republicans don't like it, they can vote no.

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MALVEAUX: Brianna Keilar, she's at the White House. So Brianna, they're saying they're going to come back to work in a couple of hours. A lot of people have been up a lot longer than that, up earlier, trying to figure out what's going on here. But I understand you do have some news. Potentially there's a new offer on the table.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. According to Democratic sources, Suzanne, they have gone up to $450,000 as the threshold for those income tax rates for where those Bush-era tax cuts would expire. So beyond $450,000 for a family.

This is somewhat significant because initially the president's starting point, once everything fell apart in his negotiations with Speaker Boehner, was to go back to $250,000. Ultimately, as he was trying to work out a deal with Boehner that did fail, he was at $400,000 when things fell apart there. Now up to $450,000. Presumably, Senate Republicans would want more than that.

But after just a whirlwind of negotiations yesterday on Capitol Hill and just a very busy weekend, negotiations are now going on between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, and Vice President Joe Biden. These are the two players right now. They discussed a possible remedy late into the night, around midnight, we are told by an aide to Mitch McConnell, and at least at the staff level, negotiations began again this morning.

So the question everyone wants to know, Suzanne, of course, is are we going over the cliff? And it appears very -- it's sort of unclear at this point. It's difficult to see how we kind of don't logistically and politically at this point, but the president has said he's optimistic, and so have some Republicans.

MALVEAUX: Brianna, finally, what is the drop dead last deadline here in terms of whether or not we know this is going to happen or it's not going to happen?

KEILAR: That's interesting because everyone would presume the drop dead deadline is tonight, and obviously to avert some of these tax cuts expiring, and it's not just these income tax rates, it's a bunch of other things as well and these spending cuts, that would be tonight.

But the sense I'm getting, and the sense that I think a lot of people following us are getting, it's not like the debt ceiling where if you hit that point and you haven't resolved something, the U.S. defaults on its credit. There's still very serious ramifications, but I think there's this expectation that even if the fiscal cliff is hit, they will continue to work, try to hash out a deal. The pressure will only increase, obviously, as Americans respond and the markets respond. So they would try in the days following still to reach an agreement.

MALVEAUX: All right. We're going to be following you throughout the day, Brianna. We hope some progress is made. Thanks again, appreciate it.

Want to look beyond the politics here and go straight to the bottom line. How much do we all stand to lose if these talks actually fail? The Tax Policy Center crunched out some numbers. They're pretty amazing, when you look at this.

If you are single with no kids, you make $50,000 a year, you're going to see taxes go up by $1,500 if no deal is reached. Now, the news is even worse for a married couple with two kids making $100,000. They'd see their taxes go up $5,300 a year.

CNN's Christine Romans is here to answer another question: Who's going to be the first to really feel the bite? What do we know, Christine? It just doesn't sound good for anybody.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the very first people, Suzanne, are going to be people who are on long-term unemployment benefits. Those are federal unemployment benefits after the first 26 weeks. Those last checks were December 29, on Friday. So if they go over the fiscal cliff, they don't have an extension of unemployment insurance benefits for the long-term unemployed, that's it. Two million people about, their last check was on Friday. They will not get a check next week. Another 1 million will run out in the coming weeks and months, once they run out of their original state benefits of 26 weeks. So the long term unemployed, they get hit first. Also, you've got folks, who, maybe they do do a deal on tax rates, doesn't look like the payroll tax holiday is included in any of these negotiations here today. So that means you're going to see taxes going up for everybody, a handful of dollars a week. The payroll tax withheld will rise from 4.2 percent to 6.2 percent on all of your income up to $113,000 a year.

Early tax refunds will likely be delayed so you wouldn't have that money to pay off the credit card bills from Christmas. That could be the problem. And as I mentioned, long-term unemployed benefits expire.

For families, four different tax breaks on the line here, probably scaled back. The child tax credit is one of them. You've got several of them that are so important to especially low income families. Child and dependent-care tax credit; the earned income tax credit. And the American opportunity tax credit, that was with the stimulus that the president pushed through in 2009. That's a tax credit for people sending kids through college. These probably would revert to earlier tax credit levels and so that would be money out of people's pockets. And a lot of people who say this say that it definitely hurts lower income families more than anything else.

That said, I just spoke to senator Johnny Isakson, a Republican, and he's sounding optimistic.

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SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON (R), GEORGIA: Well, I think we stand close to a deal. First of all, I'm not sure I have the inside information, but I do believe that the revenue issue is no longer a question. The question is making sure that any new revenues go toward debt spending reduction and deficit relief rather than new spending. It's deficits that got us into this problem; it's only reducing the deficit that's will get us out of this problem.

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ROMANS: The key there is "It's my best belief that they've reached an agreement on revenues." That means on this issue of raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. So this is still a fight over tax rates for wealthy Americans at this point. Not sure what else is on the table. Doctors will see a 27 percent cut on the pay they get for Medicare services, that's a problem. AMT. I mean, there's a whole host of people who are going to get hit if they don't fix this.

MALVEAUX: That's tough all around for everybody. I guess the fact he's staying somewhat optimistic is surprising to me. I haven't heard that much optimism, but we'll see how it goes. Christine, thank you. We appreciate it.

And of course the outlook on Wall Street might be a little gloomy when the opening bell rings later this hour. But investors elsewhere around the world, they're actually holding steady. Britain's FTSE index and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index spent most of the morning down but only slightly. Japan's Nikkei index was trended in the positive territory.

And it is 9:12. Whether we're traveling today, checking out for today's new year's celebration, you're going to have to bundle up in much of the country.

CNN's meteorologist Karen Maginnis is at the weather center for the forecast. What should we expect? It's cold here in D.C., I'll tell you that much.

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, and that's very typical, but actually it's a little milder than some of the other areas that we're looking at.

You may have heard about the peach drop in Atlanta, the conch drop in Key West, and the musical note drop in Nashville and the Space Needle in Seattle -- but the quintessential New Year's Eve celebration takes place in Times Square, New York City. It's going to be a little breezy so bundle up. Temperatures in the 30s but you get down to some of the areas where the tall buildings are, you get kind of the funneling of the wind, and as a result, it's going to feel a little colder than 36 degrees.

We take you around the country. Here comes the rainfall for the southeast. We think for Atlanta, it will hold off until after midnight. Indianapolis, we'll see 31 degrees at midnight. But the coldest areas that we can find across the lower 48 states will be in the Dakotas and the Midwest with single digits, but that is very deceiving because it's going to feel like minus 20, minus 30 degrees windchill factors in those areas.

In the central and the west central United States, Salt Lake City only 16 degrees for your new year's celebration. We go towards the West Coast. We could se visibility problems as far as Seattle is concerned as the next storm system is expected to move onshore.

Want to show you where that snowfall is going to be located -- primarily right across Interstate 70, right across Kansas and we'll see kind of a little changeover in through the Ozarks. So it could be a rain/snow mix.

So Suzanne, not everybody going to see the most fantastic, as far as the weather is concerned. But in New York, maybe a few flurries. Tthat will only enhance the ambiance there.

MALVEAUX: Yes, that will be nice. It's one of those new year's maybe you should just cuddle, stay inside with your loved ones. That's a good idea. All right, thanks, Karen. Appreciate it.

Fun fact about 2013, this is the first year since 1987, all four numbers are actually different. In Auckland, in New Zealand, already celebrating. Check it out.

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MALVEAUX: Happy new year! All of those enjoying the fireworks display at Auckland's Sky Tower. That was just a couple of hours ago. Also celebrating, Sydney, Australia, ringing in the New Year just this past hour.

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MALVEAUX: Wow, pretty cool stuff. Fantastic. Nice. Happy New Year to all.

All right. Forget your waistline -- milk, ice cream, cheese, many other dairy products may soon might slim down your wallet if Congress fails to vote on a farm bill extension -- deadline for action just hours away.

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SHANNEN BAZZI, IREPORTER: 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.

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MALVEAUX: Checking top stories:

A suburban New York newspaper that published a map with the names and addresses of people holding pistol permits plans is getting ready to do it again. Well, this time the "Journal News" plans to add a third county to the list. The paper has defended the controversial database, citing a need for the public to know about gun ownership after the Newtown, Connecticut, massacre.

An Atlanta area woman has been reunited now with her two sons thanks to a CNN viewer. Well, the viewer called police Saturday after seeing our coverage about these missing brothers. Well, they were found in Austin, Texas. Their dad now in custody facing a felony charge of interstate interference with custody, and the mom says he failed to return them as planned on Wednesday.

And the New Year going to bring in a pay raise for nearly 1 million minimum wage workers in 10 different states. Now, workers in Rhode Island, they're going to see the biggest bump in pay, about $510 a year. But if Congress does not work out a fiscal cliff deal, those workers will not notice much of a difference in their paychecks because of higher taxes.

And milk might be good for your bones. Soon it might be bad for your bank account. That is right. Congress has until tomorrow to vote on a mutual agreement to extend the farm bill by one year, or you could see milk prices double. It's not even certain the vote is going to happen yet, but people already calling the situation the "dairy cliff".

Yes, the Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack issuing a dire warning about all dairy product prices, and he explains why this is happening.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TOM VILSACK, AGRICULTURE 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 in the business of strongly supporting -- and I mean strong supporting the dairy industry by raising the price support, if you will, or support for dairy products to $38 a hundred weight. That's almost double what the price of milk is today.

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MALVEAUX: That price could even be $7 or more for a gallon of milk. The current national average is about $3.65.

And Chris Galen, he is the vice president of communications for the National Milk Producers Federation. He says a price hike is also going to hurt the dairy farmers.

He's joining us on the phone to tell us why.

Chris, good to have you here. First of all, explain to us how is it that the farmers themselves could be hurt as well if you don't have this farm bill extended.

CHRIS GALEN, NATIONAL MILK PRODUCERS FEDERATION (via telephone): What we're asking congress to do, Suzanne, is actually pass a new farm bill, as you mentioned, because that's going to provide dairy farmers a better safety net than what they've had in the past few years. 2012 was a really rough year for dairy farmers. And so, they're really hurting right now.

And we don't want to go back to the 1949 law. It's not a sustainable policy solution long term, however, it may take the prospect of going over the dairy cliff to prompt Congress to do its job here in the next few hours here hopefully and pass a new farm bill that has a better safety net for dairy farmers going forward.

MALVEAUX: Yes, Chris, we're all waiting to see what Congress does, if they're going to do anything at all in the next 12 hours or so. What would this mean, if you go to the grocery store and you don't have this extension, what kind of prices are we looking at?

GALEN: Well, first of all, Suzanne, the hangover for consumers and other products tonight won't be affecting consumers of dairy products tomorrow morning. It doesn't happen that quickly.

What would happen, though, as we go back to the 1949 law, as your earlier sound bite from Secretary Vilsack indicated, is that the USDA would be required to raise prices to dairy farmers, and eventually, that would trickle down to consumers of all dairy products.

MALVEAUX: So, are we talking like within days, within weeks, months, that you see a dramatic change in grocery shopping? GALEN: It won't be the next few days, but when we're back in our office on January 2nd, one of the first things we'll do is contact the Department of Agriculture and urge them to move ahead with this permanent law, again, not because we think it's a sustainable solution long term, but because we need the prospects of that permanent law in order to hold Congress' feet to the fire to get us a new farm bill.

MALVEAUX: And, Chris, we're seeing all these pictures. I imagine we're not just talking about milk, but we're talking about milky byproducts. There are many different things we would see on our shelves that would be dramatically much more expensive.

Can you give us the sense the kinds of things? Is it produce? Is it cheese, pizza, ice cream?

GALEN: Well, it's everything -- Suzanne, it's everything that's made from milk. And I think the other important point is dairy and milk products are not the only commodities affected by Congress failing to pass a new farm bill. We're the first ones out of a gate, because of how a dairy production happens, which is every day of the year, including on holidays. There are other major commodities, including wheat and corn, that would also be affected by reverting back to this 1949 law that Tom Vilsack mentioned.

So, we're the first one to have this happen to our industry, but it certainly won't be the only commodity affected if Congress still doesn't bring us a new farm bill with a New Year.

MALVEAUX: All right. Chris Galen, thank you so much. Appreciate it. Have a good New Year.

Hopefully, they'll get something done in Congress, and everything will not be double in price when you go shopping. The New Year's Eve test run -- check it out -- a success.

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CROWD: Three, two, one, happy New Year.

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MALVEAUX: That's Times Square setting tonight -- for tonight's ball drop. We're going to take you there live.

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MALVEAUX: All systems are go in New York at least.

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CROWD: Three, two, one, happy New Year.

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MALVEAUX: All right. They flipped the switch. Times Square ball rose 130 feet. Yesterday's test run. Alina Cho in Times Square, great duty man. I'm jealous. I'm jealous.

(LAUGHTER)

CHO: You're jealous?

MALVEAUX: I am.

(CROSSTALK)

CHO: You know it's freezing cold out, Suzanne Malveaux.

MALVEAUX: You look fabulous.

Tell us -- tell us what's going on.

CHO: Well, you know, people are already lining up behind me. They're in for a long day and a long night because it is bitterly cold outside, Suzanne.

I mean, I can tell you, for all the talk about the confetti, the crystal ball, and all the New Year's Eve resolutions, here's what you really need to know if you plan to come to Times Square tonight -- dress warmly. It will feel like it is below freezing tonight.

Let's talk about security. This is something we talk about every year, but it is mindboggling the amount of security that will be in place.

The NYPD says there will be thousands more police officers. There will be sharp shooters on roof tops. There will be radiological scanners, explosives teams, firearms teams, tactics teams. There will be security that you will see and security that you won't see.

And lest you be worried it will be safer here in Times Square tonight, there will be surveillance cameras throughout the area.

Some other things you should know is this, if you plan to come here, do not bring a large bag. Do not bring a backpack, do not bring alcohol. You will not be allowed inside the perimeter.

And the other thing you should know -- and some of these people, you might think they're crazy for coming early, get here early.

MALVEAUX: Yes.

CHO: The streets around Times Square start to close at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time. One million people expected here. I can tell you, it will be packed as usual, Suzanne. It will be frigidly cold and hopefully with all the security in place, it will be safe as well.

MALVEAUX: Alina, toll us about who's going to be inside the perimeter with you. Who's going to be performing tonight?

CHO: Well, your favorite and mine, Taylor Swift, Carly Rae Jepsen, Train, Psy of "Gangnam Style". Of course, our Anderson Cooper -- Anderson, if you're listening, dress warmly. And Kathy Griffin will be here for the sixth year in a row. That show gets under way at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

Suzanne, I can also tell you that when Mayor Bloomberg presses that button at 11:59, that signals the ball drop, he will be joined by the Radio City Rockettes, all 36 of them. That is 72 legs in all.

One final thing, you know --

MALVEAUX: Sure.

CHO: The Times Square Alliance actually put out a survey. And listen to this -- they said that 26 percent of respondents actually have nobody to kiss tonight, 15 percent will kiss whomever is standing next to them, 11 percent will kiss a family member. And get this -- 3 percent will actually lock lips with their pet.

MALVEAUX: Well, Alina, we're going to get back to you. We want to know who you're going to kiss tonight. We're going to see -- that's going to be part of the story tomorrow.

CHO: I'd tell you, but I'd have to kill you.

(LAUGHTER)

MALVEAUX: All right. Way to rock that hat. I know it's cold out there. We'll be checking in with you in a little bit. Thanks, Alina.

Tonight is going to be a wild night. You can see it all right here. CNN's "NEW YEAR'S EVE LIVE" with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin starting at 10:00 Eastern, right there in Times Square.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STAFF SGT. MIKE WITTSTOCK, U.S. ARMY: Happy holidays from Kandahar, Afghanistan. I'm Sergeant Mike Wittstock. I'd like to give a shout out to my wife Susanna and daughter Jolene in Ft. Knox, Kentucky. Also a shout out to (INAUDIBLE) Barney, Chris, Sabrina, Nathan, and Ben. Love you guys. Happy holidays.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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