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Potential Fiscal Cliff Deal; Interview with Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu; Tax Refunds Could Be on Hold; New Year's Eve In Times Square; Hillary Clinton In Hospital; Keeping New Year's Resolutions

Aired December 31, 2012 - 12:30   ET


JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Then the next level of the deal, households that earn $450,000 are the ones who would be impacted by this. And individuals who earn $400,000 a year are the ones who would see it go to Clinton levels.

The deal -- the emerging deal would also include as I understand an extension of unemployment benefits and a compromise on the estate tax that would allow a slight increase, or some thing of an increase from where we are now, but not an absolute jump to where it would be beginning tomorrow. Now -- if there were no deal.

Now, the big sticking point as Dana has been reporting is on the sequester, and one of -- just to point out, one of the big reasons Democrats would not want it to be a three-month extension is because that would mean that spending cuts kick in right as the nation is heading into a fight over the debt ceiling, because the debt ceiling is going to hit again in February, Suzanne, and there will be another war over that between the Democrats and Republicans. Add these spending cuts to it, and we'll see another massive blowout like we have here.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: So, Jess, it certainly sounds like there's some movement, some development.

I have a couple of questions for you. I don't know if we have these details yet. But when you talk about the top earners, who are those people? Have they defined what they mean when they say the top earners?

YELLIN: Yes, yes. Let's caveat all of this by saying this is an emerging deal. Nothing is done. It could still change.

Having said that, within this deal, it would be individuals who make $400,000 a year, households, so couples who make $450,000. If you don't make that, you would be paying under this deal exactly what you're paying right now. So, most, you know, viewers and most people in America, 98 percent of Americans, would not see their taxes change under this deal for their federal income tax rate.

MALVEAUX: OK. Then the second question, the extension on the unemployment benefits, is that something that is short-term or long- term? Have they figured that out?

YELLIN: Yes. That, I don't know. Just based on how these deals have worked in the past, Suzanne, they've always been short-term. And then they fight it out in another year.

So they're usually one-year unemployment benefit extensions, and that's all. So, I would assume that's the same, but we'll wait and see.

MALVEAUX: OK. And then, final question, Jess. I think you already covered this year. You talk about the sequester, that is essentially $110 billion in spending cuts. That is the sticking point at this juncture here, whether or not that would be kicked down the can three months or kicked down the road for a year, is that right?

YELLIN: That's -- that's my understanding. That's the major sticking point in the negotiations right now is my understanding. There are other issues to be worked out, but that's where the major fight is right now.

And it's Dana Bash up on Capitol Hill that has been reporting that Democrats want the year, Republicans up want the three months. The broad framework is Democrats want to put it off as long as possible to give time to negotiate how to find spending cut agreements. Republicans want it as soon as possible so they can start this fight in the New Year again and begin this negotiation process to trim entitlements and get some of their principles locked in.

MALVEAUX: OK. Jess, excellent reporting. Of course, we're going to get back to you as soon as there's movement on other details and the sticking point you mentioned.

Jessica Yellin at the White House -- thank you very much.

YELLIN: Thanks.

MALVEAUX: Many Americans are furious about the potential of their taxes going up if there's no deal reached. There are many lawmakers, too, that understand that frustration.

We're going to talk to Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu who's joining us from the Capitol.

Senator, thank you for being here with us.

First of all, you heard Dana -- you heard Jessica's reporting and Dana's reporting as well. Does that sound like a reasonable compromise, something you could sign onto?

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D), LOUISIANA: Well, Suzanne, I haven't heard all of the details but I for one have been open, as many of my colleagues on the Democratic side and some on the Republican side open to a compromise that would reach a balanced approach. And by balanced, we've got to put both new revenues on the table to close the budget gap and some additional spending cuts.

One of the things, Suzanne, I wanted to let people know is Democrats have already over the last year before this election put $1.5 trillion of spending cuts in place. What we've been lacking is a partner on the other side that will put revenues on the table. But the good news is I'm glad we're here at work. We need to stay at work and get this done. And the negotiations seem to be moving in the right direction.

MALVEAUX: And are you satisfied with the president's position here? Because he won, and he had a mandate. He said $250,000 -- anybody making more than that, they would not have their tax cuts extended. Well, now, that has been raised by about $200,000 or so in that income threshold.

Do you think that -- do you think the White House has folded?

LANDRIEU: Well, I think what the president has done is done his very best, and he's been very successful to date in protecting middle class families, because the other side wanted to put all of the burden on the middle class through, you know, terrible cuts to programs that support middle class families, whether it's deductions for homeownership or deductions for putting your children through college. And that was unfortunate.

So, the president's done a good job. Everyone's going to have to compromise, including the president. I think he would say he'd prefer $250,000, but if we have to go to $350,000 or $400,000, he wants to solve this. You know, he wants to compromise.

But, again, we've got to close this deficit, and it's done not just by cutting but by putting revenues on the table and asking the wealthiest, which the president has been very good at saying ask the wealthiest to pay a little more than their fair share.

MALVEAUX: I know there's another issue dear to your heart we want to discuss as well. Just last week that the Russian President Vladimir Putin banned all U.S. adoptions -- very much a vindictive measure for something the U.S. had done as well, looking to punish those human rights violators from Russia.

You have been very vocal about this. You have two adopted children yourself. I understand that you've written a letter to President Putin to try to get him to change his mind. Is there anything that can be done to the nearly 50 pending adoption cases now where American parents have already met what they believe were their Russian children?

LANDRIEU: I hope so, Suzanne. As you know, Frank and I have two beautiful children that were adopted domestically. But there are over 100,000 adoptions in America every year, mostly by Americans for American children.

We have adopted anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 children overseas because Americans believe -- and I think most people in the world believe -- that children should be raised in families, by parents, or at least one responsible adult in a family-like setting. It is grossly unfair not just to America but to the children of Russia for what the Duma did and the president signing a bill that does nothing but harm Russian children who are desperately in need of a family.

Domestic adoption is growing in Russia, but not sufficiently --


LANDRIEU: -- to take care of it.

So, you know, I've never heard of a country that would use children as a political pawn. I mean, even in the United States' worst days, we don't do that.

MALVEAUX: All right.

LANDRIEU: So, it really is very unfortunate.

MALVEAUX: All right. Senator, we appreciate your time and your perspective on both issues.

Next hour, we're going to talk to Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming to get a sense of what he believes is a fair deal -- the negotiations that are taking place to avoid going over the fiscal cliff. That is going to happen at 1:10 Eastern.

We're going to have more after the break.


MALVEAUX: If you're counting on getting your tax refund early in the New Year, you might end up waiting a while. That is because all the back and forth over the fiscal cliff deal might actually force the internal revenue service to delay the start of the filing season.

We're going to bring in Alison Kosik at the New York Stock Exchange.

Alison, I want of those procrastinators, but there are people out there who file on time, and now, it looks like there might be a delay. Tell us why.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And this is because of the alternative minimum tax and also known the AMT. And you wouldn't know it because it doesn't make the headlines. We certainly don't report on it every year. But this has been happening for years.

What the Congress does is it passes fixes to the AMT, and the latest one is now being held hostage by all of these negotiations going on with the fiscal cliff. It's sometimes called the wealth tax. And what it was, it was created back in the 1960s and what it was meant to do was stop rich people from dodging taxes.

But here's the problem -- it was never adjusted for inflation. So, what Congress has to do, it has to go in every year and temporarily raise the income exemption levels. The thing is, it's just one of many tax provisions that need to be addressed in these cliff talks. And until it is, it means up to 100 million people may not be able it to file their tax returns until late March.

But there are lots of Americans who need to file much sooner than that, and they're the ones that need the money most. I'm talking about low income families with pretty simple returns who rely on their refunds to cover, you know, holiday bills or something like security deposits on an apartment. So, this could really sting them the most -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And, Alison, this actually happened. There was a similar situation that happened two years ago when there was a delay for the filing.

How did that impact folks there? Because you say it is a very difficult situation for a lot of people.

KOSIK: Yes. What you're talking about is what happened in 2010 when it took, you know, President Obama and lawmakers until mid-December that year to reach an agreement on many of the same issues. And what that did is delayed the opening of tax season, that tax season until mid-February, which hit about 9 million taxpayers.

But here's the difference with this now, with the fiscal cliff negotiations. We're much later in the game, and possibly, the impact of it could be much bigger.

The reason it's so frustrating is because, you know, Congress has been passing these fixes for ages, and both parties -- they will agree to a fix. They will agree to a pact, but until the broader cliff deal is reached, those taxpayers wanting to file early to get refunds are out of luck because, you know, lawmakers don't want to touch the AMT until they fix the fiscal cliff issue.


KOSIK: So, you know, it's actually crazy if you ask me.

MALVEAUX: All right. Alison, thank you very much.

This just in to CNN here. We've got breaking news. We understand President Obama is going to be addressing the nation from the White House just one hour from now on the fiscal cliff crisis. We're going to bring that to you live as soon as it happens, but we're looking at our watches here, our clocks.

About 1:30 p.m. Eastern, the president will come out and address the nation regarding whether or not we were going over this fiscal cliff, the talks and negotiations taking place, the back and forth. We know the vice president, as well as top Republicans in the Senate have been involved in talks throughout the evening and early into the morning. That there's some sort of rough framework that they were working with here, and we will hear from the president himself on the status of those talks. That is in about 45 minutes from you now.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in the hospital for a blood clot. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta says the drugs that doctors are using are offering clues to where that clot is.


MALVEAUX: 2013 less than 12 hours away. In New York's Times Square, folks are getting ready for the big party. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALES: Two, one. Happy New Year!


MALVEAUX: This was a test run yesterday. The famous crystal covered ball went up 130 feet, just like it's supposed to. Alina Cho, she's in Times Square.


ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For all the talk about the crystal ball, the confetti, and New Year's resolutions, here's what you really need to know if you come to Times Square tonight. Dress warmly. It is frigidly cold. And it will feel like it is below freezing tonight.

Let's talk about security. It's something we talk about every year, but it is mind-boggling the amount of security that will be in place tonight. Thousands of police officers, sharp-shooters on rooftops, radiological scanners, explosives teams, tactics teams, firearms teams. Unless you think it won't be safe here in Times Square, there will be surveillance cameras throughout.

Also, something you should know if you plan to come to Times Square, do not bring a large bag, do not bring a backpack, do not bring alcohol. You will not be allowed inside the perimeter.

And some of these people who are here early already, they are very smart. Get here early. The streets around Times Square start to close at about 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time. So get here early. One million people expected to jam Times Square tonight. It will be packed. It will be freezing cold. And hopefully with all this security, it will be safe.


MALVEAUX: All right. Thanks, Alina. It's going to be a fun night.

You can see it here on CNN's New Year's Eve live with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin. It starts at 10:00 Eastern in New York's Times Square.


MALVEAUX: Former President George H.W. Bush's condition is moving. Good for him. On Saturday, he was moved out of the intensive care unit of a Houston hospital where he has been for more than a month. A family spokesman says he has been fighting a stubborn fever after initially being hospitalized with bronchitis. Well, on Friday, the former president got a call from one of his favorite singing groups, The Oak Ridge Boys.


THE OAK RIDGE BOYS (singing): Amazing grace how sweet the sound. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: A family spokesman says it really cheered him up. Eighty- eight years old, Bush is the oldest living former president, four months older than Jimmy Carter.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she is in the hospital after doctors discovered a blood clot related to a condition that she suffered earlier this month. Now, she's expected to remain at the New York Presbyterian Hospital for another day or so while doctors monitor her condition. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes a look at how serious this could be.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, I looked at the statement very carefully from the State Department about the secretary of state. They talk about the fact that she has a blood clot. They did not specify where it is. They say it's related to the concussion. Although we're not exactly sure how. The only thing we do know for sure is that she's being treated with these anticoagulants or blood thinning medications.

Now, what likely has happened here is that when you talk about a blood clot, if it's being treated with blood thinners, it's unlikely to actually be something that's on top of the brain or around the brain, because that's almost the last thing you'd want to do. Blood-thinning medications at that point can worsen the bleeding. They can also prevent or prohibit an operation from occurring, should that be necessary. Again, we simply don't know.

What I can tell you is that blood clots that are typically treated with blood thinners are blood clots that are located in blood vessels, such as veins. You may have heard of DVT, for example, Suzanne. Deep venous thrombosis. Typically in the legs. They can be treated with blood thinning medications. If they are not, the concern is they could break off, travel through the body and go to the lung. That's called a pulmonary embolism and that could be of significant concern.

Now, there could also be some veins around the head that could have been affected by the concussion, by the brain injury she had a few weeks ago. Again, details a little bit sketchy coming out of the State Department on this.

I also know -- you know, I worked for the secretary of state back when she was first lady in 1998. She had one of these episodes of a deep venous thrombosis at that time. Now said described it as a very frightening experience. But again, this is something that she has experienced before, and as a result, more likely to experience it again.

Also, we know she's a very well-traveled secretary of state. The most traveled, in fact. Lots of air travel can put you at risk for this sort of thing as well. And, finally, just because of the concussion, she may have been asked to lie around, not do much. A very hard thing for her, I will tell you. But that can also put you at risk.

As we get more details, Suzanne, we'll certainly bring them to you. Back to you for now.

MALVEAUX: All right, thank you, Sanjay.

All right. So you make a resolution on New Year's Day. January 2nd, what do you do? You've broken it already. I guess we all do that. Well now there is an app that's actually going to help you out. We'll show you the best ones for helping you to stick to those resolutions, up next.


MALVEAUX: New Year's resolutions, we all make them, right? But how many of us actually keep them? Our tech reporter, Laurie Segall, she found some smartphone apps that could actually help you stick to your goals in 2013.


LAURIE SEGALL, CNN TECH REPORTER (voice-over): It's time to make those New Year's resolutions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Top be happier, healthier.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To lose my temper less often.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to try again this year to get into better physical shape.

SEGALL: You know, the resolutions you sometimes keep.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's my New Year's resolution year after year.

SEGALL (on camera): Is there an app for that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There may be an app for that. I think the app that I'm too concerned with is the appetizer, not the phone app, you know?

SEGALL (voice-over): That's where HealthTap comes in. It's not an appetizer, but this app puts health on the plate.

RON GUTMAN, CEO, HEALTHTAP: People ask about healthy living. How can they be proactive about their health. Thinking about things like nutrition, you know, better eating, right, reducing some stress, especially around the holidays, sleeping a little bit better.

SEGALL: The service connects users online with local doctors who can answer health questions. For New Year's, users can use the app to choose a specific resolution and work with a doctor to achieve it.

GUTMAN: If you have questions of how to do it, when to do it, how to sustain it, you can actually ask these doctors, get an answer for free and continue engaging it throughout the year.

SEGALL: And for those looking to get a bit more organized in the new year, an app called Brewster consolidates your contents into a high tech address book. STEVE GREENWOOD, CEO BREWSTER: If you're sending any holiday notes or if you're thinking about networking for the new year and thinking about who you should reach out to and say hello to, all these people right here in Brewster, they're a search away.

SEGALL: The app combines your contacts from FaceBook, Twitter and a number of social networks creating a digital view of your personal relationships.

GREENWOOD: It has all the nuts and bolts of things it's supposed to have, like e-mails and phone numbers, their FaceBook user name. But it also shows you all the different notes. Their interests, their hobbies, et cetera.

SEGALL (on camera): Right.

SEGALL (voice-over): And if you find a group of friends who want to work on the same resolution, you can now build your own app to work on your goals together.

LUKE MELIA, CTO AND COFOUNDER, YAPP: Anybody can create an app with the Yapp. And people are creating all sorts of apps.

SEGALL: To create an app, users head to Yapp's website, pick a theme, choose content, add friends and the app is ready to install on your smartphone.

MELIA: Within five or 10 minutes, you've got an app.

SEGALL (on camera): You created a buff in 2013 app.


SEGALL: So this is -- this is your goal, right?

MELIA: Yes. So we created this app with some of my friends, who also have a similar goal. As time goes on and as we're working towards these goals, we can encourage each other.

SEGALL: It could be someone's New Year's resolution to build their own app.

MELIA: Yes. I mean, I think if that was your New Year's resolution, with Yapp you'd be able to accomplish it on day one.

SEGALL (voice-over): Laurie Segall, CNN Money, New York.


MALVEAUX: I'm Suzanne Malveaux. Here's what's going on right now.

We are actually going to hear from President Obama on the fiscal cliff negotiations. That is at the White House. That is going to happen in about a half hour or so. We expect that there will be some news. They are clearly trying to hash out some sort of deal on both sides, that both sides would feel acceptable, to avoid the massive tax hikes and spending cuts that nearly all Americans would experience starting tomorrow, in the new year, if these two sides do not get together.

So we are expecting the president there at the White House to make a major statement to the American people regarding where we are on these negotiations.