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Investors Brace for "Fiscal Cliff"; Unemployment Benefits Could Run Out; Obama Pushes Forward on Gun Control; NFL Playoffs Set

Aired December 31, 2012 - 09:30   ET



SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Suzanne Malveaux, in for Carol Costello.

Stories we're watching right now in THE NEWSROOM:

Significant health scare for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She is in a New York hospital this morning undergoing treatment for a blood clot. Now, doctors think it is tied to a fall and concussion that she suffered earlier this month.

We now have aerials of the fatal bus crash in Oregon that killed nine people and injured at least 26. The charter bus was returning Sunday morning to Vancouver, British Columbia, for Las Vegas when it skidded on ice and crashed through a guard rail. The cause of the crash is now under investigation.

And there is word Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is suffering from new complications in his cancer treatment. Venezuela's vice president says Chavez's state of health is delicate. Chavez is undergoing treatment in Cuba. He has not been seen in public for weeks.

And one hour from now, we're going to learn more about the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya. Now, a Senate committee will discuss its findings on that September 11th siege that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans. The report, we have learned, offers a scathing assessment of state department failures that allow the attackers to enter the compound, quote, "unimpeded".

With the fiscal cliff deadline just hours away, investors are hoping that there's going to be some kind of breakthrough in these talks.

Alison Kosik, she's at the New York Stock Exchange.

Alison, simply give us a sense of the mood there. People must be watching, even on New Year's Eve very closely what they're doing.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Investors certainly are watching closely on Capitol Hill. A final trading day of 2012 could go two ways today. It could be quiet today because no one's around to trade today because it's a holiday, or it could be one of those real volatile days because of few people who are trading are trying to shore up their positions based on how these negotiations are going on Capitol Hill, on the fiscal cliff.

Now, some analysts and traders, they don't really know how the market is going to react once the deadline passes and there's no deal.

But one trader told me no deal is better than a band-aid measure or a temporary measure because, as the market sees it, there's no certainty with that, because what would with a short term or band-aid measure, things could keep changing, meaning the rules of the road as far as taxes go, and who's to say that lawmakers would be able to come to any agreement once they get their new negotiations going again.

Now, it is clear the market is nervous. You look at the VIX. The VIX is the market's fear gauge. The VIX is up 28 percent just over the past five days.

And you look at the level it's sitting at, it's sitting at a level that shows investors that they've got real concern about how stocks are going to fare in the short term -- although the VIX right now is down a bit. We are watching stocks down as well. The Dow down 26 points -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Yes, I guess, Alison, all the markets really want is some consistency and some confidence.

All right. We'll be watching. Clarity. Thank you, Alison. Appreciate it.

So, if Congress can't reach this deal by midnight, higher taxes is not the only concern for a lot of folks. Many families may not have any money coming in at all. More than 2 million people are at risk of losing their long-term federal unemployment benefits as the New Year begins. Another 1 million workers are going to exhaust their 26 weeks of state unemployment benefits in the first quarter and are not going to be able to file for a federal extension.

Joining us now is the president of Optimum Capital Management, Ryan Mack.

Ryan, good to see you.

First of all, a lot of people very worried here because we are talking about those who are really at risk, those who might not get their unemployment benefits. What kind of options do they have?

RYAN MACK, PRESIDENT, OPTIMUM CAPITAL MANAGEMENT: I mean, essentially, these are a lot of individuals operating out of a lot of fear. I mean, we do a lot of work across the country talking to those who are collecting these checks and basic questions of what sort of -- am I going to be able to eat? Am I going to be able to pay for housing and shelter?

These are basic concerns. So, what we have to first understand is that we have to start understanding -- while we teach financial literacy, they do have options. They can do things such as making sure that investments are not a priority. Liquidity is key. And instead of putting money in the market or trying to make that $10 investment in the stock become the next Google, put a budget together. Start doing research on improving your credit, making sure that you can start asking certain questions, how can we negotiate our interest rates on our credit cards? Make job searching your job, which is essentially a key component in understanding that everything single day, writing down a list of priorities, what am I going to accomplish this day?

From 9:00 to 5:00, I would be working, but you are working, getting a database together of all the things you need to -- of different job connections that you may have and ranking them in terms of are they going to say yes or no?


MACK: And really making sure from 9:00 to 5:00, you're doing that appropriate search.

MALVEAUX: And, Ryan, you mentioned something that's really -- it might seem obvious, but, you know, a lot of people don't think about this. They say you should stay healthy, that you should take good care of yourself. Explain.

MACK: Well, you might not have a lot of money for a gym membership, but you can go jogging. You can do a DVD workout in the house. You can try to eat as healthily as possible. I mean, these things and making sure that you can -- working out takes that stress level down.

It allows you to have a healthy mindset and a healthy body, and it also improves your ability, when you go into the interviews, you have a more confident mindset and confident outlook, and we need you looking bright to make sure that you're consistently going on the job searches and showing your best you.

MALVEAUX: And you also say too that part of showing your best you is maintaining your faith, a sense of confidence moving forward.

MACK: Again, if I can just talk to the unemployed out there for a second. I understand that this political circus right now is a travesty and the fact it has come to this and we've had a lot of individuals operating out of fear because of it. But we need you to have the appropriate amount of faith.

If there's a mathematical equation for faith, it's half belief and half acting on that belief. People act according to what they believe is going to happen in life, and we rise and fall together in this country. And we need everybody operating on four cylinders.

We need you to believe in that tomorrow you can find that job. And then we need you acting on that belief, and doing all those things fiscally as well as mentally preparing yourself to be able to move yourself forward, so we can all move together in this country.

I mean, again, I feel for you. I pray for you. We need you in this fight. MALVEAUX: Ryan, you couldn't have said it any better. I mean, really talking directly to folks about this.

So, give us a final point here. I mean, how do you prevent yourself from being taken advantage of? I mean, clearly, you're in kind of a desperate situation sometimes. Sometimes people take advantage of those who are very needy.

MACK: You know, bottom line is, people -- where there is fear and ignorance, there's somebody out there trying to capitalize off of fear and ignorance.

Those out there might say, hey, you can make $2,000 to $3,000 a day if you would just join this multilevel marketing scheme. You can come down and cash a check. You don't need a bank account. You don't need improvement. Just cash your check and pay us 1 percent to 5 percent on your check in order to do that.

So, what we have to do is to understand that we don't operate on fear, we operate out of faith and then educate ourselves. Even in times -- of hard times of unemployment, educating yourselves and steering clear with these financial predators trying to capitalize on what you don't know, and we'll be just fine.

MALVEAUX: All right. Brian Mack, amen. Thank you very much. Appreciate it. Have a good New Year.

MACK: Have a good New Year.

MALVEAUX: Lawmakers responsible for trying to reach this deal on a fiscal cliff -- well, they're about to get a pay raise. Yes, really, a pay raise. That's even though they are on track to go down as the most unproductive Congress since the 1940s. They only have an 18 percent approval rating. That according to the new Gallup poll as well.

So the raise is a result of an executive order signed by the president to boost federal workers' pay around 0.5 percent in late March.

Vice President Joe Biden will see his pay jump from $225,000 to nearly $232,000 a year. House Speaker John Boehner will see his salary increase to more than $224,000. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will take home an annual pay of $194,000 after his raise.

So those guys are getting a raise. And if you are counting on a tax refund in the next few weeks, the fiscal cliff, right, could force you to wait just a little bit longer than usual.


MALVEAUX: Checking our top stories.

The nation is just now 14 hours away from the fiscal cliff. Now, sources tell us Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell talked through the night and vow to keep these negotiations going on today. The gridlock in Washington could also hold up your tax refund. You might have to wait until late March to file if Congress does not approve a short-term fix for the alternative minimum tax in the next few days. Same issue two years ago delayed the opening of tax season by four weeks to mid-February.

Former president George H.W. Bush is still in a Houston hospital but no longer in intensive care. Bush was moved to regular patient room on Saturday to continue his recovery. The 88-year-old was initially hospitalized with bronchitis last month, came down last week with a stubborn fever.

Parts of the Midwest are under a windchill advisory today. It's going to feel like 35 below in parts of Minnesota, Iowa, and North Dakota, while the south will see some thunderstorms move through later as well.

Famous for being famous, Kim Kardashian expecting her first child with favorite bad boy rapper Kanye West. A spokeswoman for Kardashian confirmed the news to CNN. Twitterverse exploded Sunday night after West told those at his concert, quote, "Stop the music and make noise for my baby mama. Now you havin' my baby."

I guess that's one way to do it, huh?

It's new year's eve here at home. Many country as round the world already celebrating 2013. South Korea and Japan ringing in the new year in less than 15 minutes.


CAPT. HEATHER FOSTER, U.S. AIR FACE: Hi. My name is Captain Heather Foster currently stationed in Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. I'm from Sandpoint, Idaho. I want to give a shoutout to my mom, my grandma, and my best friend Karen back in Sandpoint, Idaho. I love you guys. Happy holidays. I'll see you soon. I


MALVEAUX: Military style rifles and high capacity ammunition are in high demand across the country. Assault weapons are selling out. Public fears of new gun control restrictions are now feeding this frenzy. Online retailers, sporting goods stores, manufacturers cannot keep up with the demand.

Well, while manufacturers and retail stores working forward to meet the public's demand for assault weapons, President Obama is stepping up his campaign for new gun regulation, making it a priority in 2013.

Want to -- I understand we have lost Brianna Keilar. We're going to try to bring her back. We're going to take a quick break.


MALVEAUX: Want to go to the White House. Brianna Keilar is joining us. And Brianna, we're talking a little bit about how the president really pushing forward on gun control, on gun control policy in this country. I wonder if there's a real appetite now since the school massacre, if he feels that he's confident he can do something in the new year.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, Suzanne, he acknowledged the political difficulty of doing so in an interview that he did with "Meet the Press" yesterday. He acknowledged what has been a very tough road for any sort of gun violence legislation that deals with gun control. But he said, and this is the question that so many people have raised, it's a question of whether this tragedy spurs people to action, whether this is different this time.

He said for him it is. In fact, he described it as the worst day of his presidency, that Friday just a couple weeks ago when the shooting happened in Newtown, Connecticut. And he said that something fundamental in America has to change.

Here's more of what he said.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So I'm going to be putting forward a package. I'm going to be putting my full weight behind it and I'm going to be making an argument about why this is important and why we have to do everything we can to make sure that something like what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary does not happen again. But ultimately the way this is going to happen is because the American people say that's right.


KEILAR: Now, Suzanne, remember President Obama put Vice President Biden in charge of what's essentially a task force between different agencies, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, the Education Department, and he has said he wants recommendations really right about now on exactly some recommendations for Congress to move forward on.

But we do know that President Obama has urged Congress and will continue to do so in the new year to pass an assault weapons ban, to pass a ban on high capacity ammunition clips and also to close the gun show loophole so that all gun purchasers are subject to background checks. And he also wants to address the mental health issue, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right, that's a full plate there. Brianna, thank you. Appreciate it.

So if you were watching, yes the NFL playoffs, they are set. Joe Carter from HLN Sports here to tell us who's in, who's out.

Hi Joe. Sunday was exciting, yes?

JOE CARTER, HLN SPORTS CORRESPONENT: Yes, very much so. Thank you, Suzanne. Good morning to you as well. It was an emotional year, emotional day in Indianapolis. Head coach Chuck Pagano back in the sidelines for the team. You know he's been out since September after being diagnosed with leukemia. You know, we saw a nice tribute yesterday. Even Texans' running back Arian Foster tapping the "Chuck Strong" banner after scoring a touchdown.

The Colts would go on to win this game 28-16 to finish the regular season 11-5. That's nine more wins than last year. It's the second greatest turnaround in NFL history. So as you can imagine, they were celebrating in the locker room after the game and why not? This is certainly one of the best feel good stories in the NFL season. And look at Chuck Pagano. He got moves. I like it; I absolutely love it. And the team has rallied around him.

Another great story that's happened this NFL season has been Minnesota Vikings' running back Adrian Peterson. He may have finished the season with the second best single season rushing total ever, but he and his teammates have plenty of reason to celebrate this Monday morning after beating Green Bay yesterday. Peterson capped off his incredible year with a 199-yard performance against the Packers, including the late 26-yard run that set up the winning field goal and put Minnesota into the playoffs. For the season, Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards, just 9 yards short of Eric Dickerson's all-time single season rushing record.

Now, the last time the Washington Redskins won the NFC East, Bill Clinton was still in the White House. That was 1999. And Robert Griffin III, well, he was nine years old. But right now the Washington Redskins are partying like it's 1999. The Redskins beat the Cowboys yesterday 28-18 to become NFC East champs. Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III, the guy ran for 63 yards and a score. The Redskins were once 3-6 this season. They had to rattle off seven straight wins to win the division and to get into the playoffs. Dallas, meanwhile, eliminated from the post season.

And who wants to play the Denver Broncos? The easy answer: nobody in the playoffs, not since Peyton Manning started playing like Peyton Manning. The Broncos' new quarterback, so good in orange there, the future Hall of Famer threw for three touchdowns in Denver's whomp yesterday, 38-3, they beat the Chiefs. That gave Manning 37 touchdown passes for the season. Second best in his great career.

Meanwhile, the Broncos, they've rattled off 11 straight wins to earn the number 1 seed in the AFC and, with that, they are going to be home throughout the entire playoffs. The Broncos have been the number 1 seed in the AFC five times before this season. They made it to the Super Bowl four of those five times.

So here's your matchup for the wild card weekend coming up on Saturday. Houston, because they lost three straight, now have to play in that round. They'll host the Bengals. And Minnesota and Green Bay will play again; this time it'll be in Green Bay. You have the Colts and the Ravens and then the Seahawks and the Redskins.

Happy New Year to you, Suzanne. MALVEAUX: Yes, Joe. My dad and my brother went to that Redskins game and of course we won, so they were pumped. They were psyched. It was a good weekend, all around.

CARTER: I mean, what a great turnaround for them. It's been a great story.

MALVEAUX: Fantastic. Thanks again. Happy new year.

Next hour of CNN NEWSROOM begins after a quick break with our own Joe Johns.