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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Hillary Clinton Hospitalized with Blood Clot; Fiscal Cliff Hanger; Calling in the Closers; Fiscal Cliff: What It Means For You; Hillary Clinton Tops 2016 Poll; President to Submit Gun Control Legislation; Countdown to 2013

Aired December 31, 2012 - 06:00   ET

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


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN ANCHOR: Health scare for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She is hospitalized for a blood clot. Just how serious is her condition.

ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: Eighteen hours and counting, still no deal on the fiscal cliff. Can lawmakers reach a last-minute agreement?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: If we go over that fiscal cliff, what does it mean for you? Higher taxes and government spending cuts are about to take a major toll on your paycheck. The fiscal cliff almost here, but the effects are very real and they are starting already.

VELSHI: Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Ali Velshi.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans.

GUPTA: And I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. John and Zoraida are off. It's 6 a.m. in the East.

Up first, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waking up in a New York City hospital this morning. She was admitted yesterday after doctors discovered she had a blood clot. Now they say it is believed to be related to a concussion the State Department she suffered earlier this month.

Clinton is being treated with anticoagulants or blood thinners and she is going to remain hospitalized for at least 48 hours for observation. The secretary of state had just been cleared to return to work. So what's going on here?

CNN's Jill Dougherty has been following the developments for us. She is live in the Washington Bureau. Jill, we're hearing 48 hours and they seem to be saying it's not that serious. But what are you hearing from the doctors?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this point, it's not really that clear. In fact, there was a statement coming out of the State Department from Phillip Ryans, and I can read it for you, indicating the lack of clarity about this.

He says, "Her doctors will continue to assess her condition including other issues associated with her concussion. They will determine if any further action is required." Now, those other issues associated with her concussion, that's not clear, and I think, Sanjay, you as a doctor know when they say 48 hours, that, you know, could be 48 hours or more, but they will be watching to see whether those anticoagulants actually have some effect.

It does, of course, change her schedule. She was supposed to be back this week, and one of the big things on the schedule, very soon, supposed to be testimony about Benghazi, the attack on Benghazi that killed the American diplomats, the American ambassador and others.

And that would seem not be happening soon and her travel schedule. She was supposed to travel at the very earliest, middle of the month. That would conceivably be on hold as well.

GUPTA: You know, it's interesting because I worked for her back in 1998. She had a blood clot at this time as well. So this is not the first time this has happened to her. Are you hearing anything more about how she's doing overall?

DOUGHERTY: Not really. I mean, they are just saying she's in the hospital being observed, and we don't know exactly where the blood clot was. It, of course, they are saying was the result of the concussion, but they are not exactly saying precisely where. So I guess we'll have to see if we get updates as this 48-hour period goes through.

GUPTA: All right, Jill Dougherty, thanks so much for joining us.

ROMANS: I want to ask a few more questions about this because Sanjay, when you say a person developed a blood clot related to the concussion. The first thought is that the clot formed in the brain, but we also know that the treatment here is anticoagulants. So we don't really know where this clot is. What is her treatment telling us about the condition?

GUPTA: I think it's very important because the way the statement was worded. They said it was related to her concussion. I think it's very unlikely this is a blood clot on top of the brain or around the brain specifically because you just don't treat blood clots on the brain that way. That would worsen the bleeding.

ROMANS: Coincidence, the concussion, blood clot? They just found it.

GUPTA: There are a couple of things. One is that, when you have a concussion like this, you put at rest. This is somebody who is traveling a lot on planes already. Now she is at rest as well. Both those things can set you up for a blood clot, for example, in your legs. That's called a deep venous thrombosis.

There are also some veins around the brain that can also develop blood clots in them as well, but those again, are blood clots inside the blood vessel not on top of the brain.

VELSHI: You know, the people who get them from traveling. Increasingly, there's more awareness about what you should be doing to deal with that. How is that treated? GUPTA: Well, you know, it's interesting because people talk about this when something like this happens. Getting up, walking around, staying hydrated obviously very important. Sometimes people wear compression stockings, but it's a real issue.

You know, people can develop this really at any age, and that's the concern. We don't know why she developed it, but we also know she had it in the past, that puts you slightly more risk.

VELSHI: All right, hang on to your wallets, by the way. Eighteen hours to go before America goes over the fiscal cliff. This is the final day for Democrats and Republicans to get a deal done. If they don't, your taxes go up at the stroke of midnight.

Now the two sides brought in their so-called closers on Sunday. Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, those two are working behind the scenes as they have successfully done in the past. The Senate went home last night and they are going to get in this morning at the bright hour of 11:00 a.m. Eastern.

I don't understand how that works. We are not seeing any evidence of progress in either chamber, but as I said, we do know that McConnell and Biden are talking. That's important.

These two guys have a long history together. They have an ability to cut a deal. One major stumbling block has been overcome. Republicans have dropped their demand to reduce Social Security, cost of living increases. You will know that as the chain CPI.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: -- gratify to hear the Republicans have taken their demand for Social Security benefits off the table. The truth is they never should have been on the table to begin with. There is still significant distance between the two sides, but negotiations continue.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: The consequences of this are too hot for the American people to be engaged in a political messaging campaign. I'm interested in getting a result here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: He followed that by saying that he is so interested in getting a result, he worked on Saturday, kind of neat, worked all day Saturday to get a deal. We have known about this, by the way, for 517 days.

So the fact that we're all in this last-minute rush to get everything done is kind of fascinating to us. However, we're all doing it, on top of it, so is White House correspondent Brianna Keilar. She is live from Washington this morning.

Brianna, what is your crystal ball, combined with your contacts and all of your experience telling you about what is going to happen with the fiscal cliff today? BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: All signs point to iffy, I will tell that you, Ali. Some senators are saying there may be a deal by tonight. Some are saying there will be a vote by midnight tonight, some say we're going over the cliff. So it's really hard to tell.

But I do think the expectation is that even if we go over the fiscal cliff. Right now, Congress is still looking at trying to resolve this here in the next few days. So it's not as if we go over the cliff and stay there. There would be time to obviously resolve these issues even though the deadline is tonight. Congress maybe is waiting to do that.

That said, we saw a whirlwind of negotiating over the weekend on Capitol Hill. And right now, after things sort of didn't work out between Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid, the top Republican and top Democrat there in the Senate, they have now shifted as you said between Mitch McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden.

So that's where all of the action is right now. They are keeping the Speaker of the House John Boehner abreast of what's going on. They are keeping Harry Reid abreast of what's going on and of course, they are keeping President Obama abreast of what's going on.

But we heard from Senator Reid yesterday, Ali, that they are very far apart. We're not just talking on the threshold for where those Bush era tax cuts expire. You know, initially President Obama said $250,000.

There is talk now of a proposal of bumping that to $400,000. But there are also issues like unemployment insurance if you extend for two million people. Republicans want to know how we pay for it. There are farm subsidies. There is the doc fix, how do you Medicare payments.

So -- and also, of course, spending cuts. So there is a lot to be resolved here in the next few hours.

VELSHI: That's too bad we only found out about this, you know, yesterday or the day before, 517 days they've had to work out the details and now we're talking about them all. All right, Brianna, we'll be busy today and may be ringing in the New Year together. Brianna Keilar is in Washington for us.

ROMANS: Well, there is a ball dropping in Washington. There will be a ball dropping in Times Square, right and it looks more like we'll go off the fiscal cliff after the ball drops in Times Square tonight.

Here's what it means to you. Right away your paycheck will shrink. It probably won't get bigger even if Congress reaches a deal in early January. The payroll tax holiday, everyone has enjoyed for the past two years, is likely going away.

For someone making $50,000 a year, that means about $80 a month is coming out of your paycheck. Without a deal, taxes will rise for 90 percent of Americans. These are tax rates by about $2,000 a year for those making between $40,000 and $64,000.

If you're making six figures, your taxes could go up by $13,000 if Congress doesn't act. Then there is the hit that families will take. Families, especially lower income families, four tax credits are in danger of disappearing.

These are four family tax credits, including the earned income tax credit would shrink. It's worth close to $6,000 for families making around $50,000. The American opportunity tax credit designed to help lower income families pay for college.

All of these revert back to earlier lower levels, which would mean higher tax bills for American families. Good morning, everyone.

VELSHI: We're consumed by a couple of stories this morning, but this one is important because there are a lot of criticisms of whether it should be called fiscal cliff. Whether it's a slope or whether it's something else.

And in fairness much of it has already started. People have already pulled back on some of their spending in anticipation. People are not stupid. If they think they lose $2,000, $3,000, $4,000 next year, they start saving now. We see weakness in holiday shopping. We're already seeing consumer confidence turning down.

GUPTA: The criticism that you keep hearing about the media sort of overplaying this or hyperbole, what do you say?

ROMANS: I think it's just --

GUPTA: Is it as bad as it sounds?

ROMANS: This was designed to be something that was so bad it wouldn't happen. As John Avlon said, Congress designed this time bomb so that it would never go off and now they are trying to defuse the bomb that they've set.

It really shows a dysfunctional Congress and a budget process that is broken in this country. It's really -- it's really a problem, right. Right here at the tipping point and the middle class families will feel it if they don't fix it.

GUPTA: I mean, the recession they talk about possibly.

ROMANS: The CBO says 9.1 percent unemployment rate by the end of the year. That is not a slope. That hurts. That really hurts.

GUPTA: Right when things were starting to go in the right direction.

Checking on some other top stories as well, now new poll numbers should give Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a little bit of lift. As you know she is receiving treatment for that blood clot. She tops the list of 2016 Democratic hopefuls.

Take a look, 85 percent of Democrats and independents who lean toward the Democratic Party say they would be very or somewhat likely to support her if she seeks the Democratic nomination. That's compared to 66 percent for Vice President Joe Biden, 56 percent for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, 52 percent for Massachusetts Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren.

On the Republican side, take a look, 75 percent say they would be very or somewhat likely to support Congressman Paul Ryan in 2016, 59 percent for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, 58 percent for Florida Senator Marco Rubio, 51 percent for former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Now President Obama plans to submit gun control legislation to Congress in 2013. That legislation will deal with assault weapons specifically, as well as background checks on gun sales.

As you might realize, it's spurred on by the school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, killed 20 children and six adults. The gunman also murdered his mother and then killed himself.

Speaking yesterday on "Meet the Press," the president said something has to fundamentally change in this country, but the Newtown shootings cannot feel like what he called a routine episode.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That was the worst day of my presidency, and it's not something that I want to see repeated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: Vice President Joe Biden is leading a task force that will submit legislative proposals to the president in January.

Also, happy New Year, New Zealand, Auckland, already marking the start of 2013 with the fireworks display from Sky Tower, that's tallest free standing structure in the southern hemisphere.

VELSHI: And as Auckland rings in the New Year, preparations under way for the big Times Square celebration. We're live in the heart of New York City, coming up next.

ROMANS: And a New Years Eve resolution for Washington for you.

(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 have 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)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: Welcome back. Get ready to party. You feel like partying?

VELSHI: I feel like partying. GUPTA: Hundreds of thousands of revelers are going to brave bitter, sub-freezing cold to ring in the New Year in Times Square tonight. And Alina Cho is there already as preparations for the party and security kick in to high gear.

You're braving it already, Alina. Good morning to you. What's it like around you?

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Sanjay. Good morning.

As a doctor, you should be very happy to hear I did dress warmly today, because are you absolutely right about the weather. It is 30 degrees officially right now outside, but it feels like it's 20 degrees. So, the number one piece of advice, if you plan to come to Times Square to ring in the New Year -- dress warmly.

Let's talk about security. Now, it seems like we talk about this every year, but it's mindboggling the amount of security that will be in place. Thousands more police officers will be on the streets. There will be sharpshooters on rooftops. Those manhole covers will be sealed. All mailboxes and trash cans will be removed. There will be radiological scanners, explosives teams, firearms and tactics teams. Security you will see, and security that you won't see, and, of course, there will be surveillance cameras all around Times Square.

Be advised if you do plan to come here tonight, no large bags, no backpacks, no alcohol will be allowed inside Times Square. Also, Sanjay, if you plan to come here and ring in the New Year, get here early. The streets around Times Square close, starting at about 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time and with 1 million people expected in Times Square tonight, you can expect it will be packed, it will be cold, and hopefully it will be safe.

GUPTA: Yes, I have heard that it's supposed to be one of the safest times of the year to be there, despite all the people.

Besides Anderson and Kathy, do you know who else is going to be there? Who's expected tonight?

CHO: Well, as you know, and we should remind our viewers, for the sixth year in a row, Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffith will be here hosting our New Year's Eve special. That starts 10:00 p.m. Eastern, goes until midnight. But among the performers, I know your personal favorite Sanjay, is Taylor Swift, she'll be here.

GUPTA: How did you?

CHO: Along with Train. Along with Train, Carly Rae Jepsen, and my personal favorite, Psy of "Gangnam Style." He will be here as well.

And when Mayor Michael Bloomberg presses that button that starts the ball drop, right at 11:59, this year, he will be joined by the Radio City Rockets, all 36 of them, Sanjay.

VELSHI: Wow.

CHO: That's 72 total legs.

(LAUGHTER)

VELSHI: Well-said.

GUPTA: Yes, Alina. Thanks so much.

It's cold out there now, but it is going to be another wild night tonight. We know that for sure.

And I think Karen Maginnis is going to be joining us to talk about the weather. But here on CNN, "New Year's Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin" starts at 10:00 p.m. Eastern from Times Square.

VELSHI: Can I ask you a question before we check the weather? I just want to settle this. Because my mother is probably watching this, and all my mother asks me about at CNN, honestly, all she ever asks is about what it's like to work with Christine and Sanjay. So, can we just settle this --

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: It's amazing. I can't believe I get paid for this. Like I'm giving my payback today. Do you get sick by standing out in the cold?

GUPTA: No, you really don't. This is --

VELSHI: I mean, listening --

GUPTA: It's not that you shouldn't dress warmly. You get sick from viruses. You know, viruses, you can get those inside or outside. It's nothing to do with the cold.

VELSHI: It's not the cold?

GUPTA: It's not the cold.

VELSHI: So, mom says you lose 80 percent of your heat from your head -- of course, I don't have particular protection on my head. So that's -- should I wear a hat. That would actually help?

GUPTA: A hat would help, Ali. Let's get him a hat.

VELSHI: That was just for my mom.

GUPTA: All right. Mrs. Velshi.

VELSHI: Thanks, mom.

GUPTA: Let's get to Karen Maginnis now for a look at what tonight's weather looks like. It looks cold.

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it is. Not going to be as mild as we saw last year mild, with temperatures in the 40s. And you might see a flurry or two, but those temperatures expected to dip down into the 30s. But the wind-chill factor is going to make it feel like the 20s.

So, yes, wear a hat. Wear a coat.

And across the central United States into Kansas and Nebraska and Missouri. Even into the panhandle of Texas. This is where we are looking at snowfall cutting right across Kansas, along Interstate 80, there could be four to six inches of snowfall, but the wind chill is going to be very significant across northern Great Plains, but cutting right across the United States from Illinois, all the way into New Mexico, look for the snowfall there.

So, I think some of those New Year's Eve celebrations may be on the short side, especially in Grand Forks, North Dakota, where the wind- chill factor, Sanjay, supposed to be minus 28 degrees tonight.

GUPTA: Karen, thank you so much.

I think people are still going to be standing out in New York City tonight.

VELSHI: Yes, you couldn't pay me enough to go stand out there in the cold.

ROMANS: No bags and no booze.

VELSHI: No. But you know why? Because it doesn't matter what happens tonight. If this fiscal cliff thing is done, I'm going to sleep.

GUPTA: You deserve it.

VELSHI: However, if it isn't dealt with, your taxes are going to go up. Your grocery bill might go up, too, actually. The deal that could affect milk prices, next.

And a New Year's message from Washington from one of our viewers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EGBERTO WILLIES, CNN IREPORTER: My New Year's message to Washington is this. There are not enough wealthy people or corporations to keep you in office. In that light, please simply grow up, govern, but most importantly, support middle class policies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: All right. Welcome back. Good morning, everybody.

Minding your business right now.

Don't forget the dairy cliff. The price of milk could shoot up to $7 a gallon in the New Year. That's because while lawmakers play chicken with our taxes, they are ignoring some other pressing matters, too, like the ag bill, which includes a dairy subsidy for farmers that keeps the price of milk around a national average of about $3.65. That subsidy expires tomorrow.

Without an extension, the formula used to calculate what the government pays for dairy products reverts back to a statute passed in 1945, which has the government buy milk at a much higher price. The result is $7 a gallon for milk.

VELSHI: Unbelievable.

ROMANS: Yes. U.S. stock futures this morning, everybody, modestly higher. Investors getting ready for the final trading day of 2012. It's a full today.

Gold, with typically safety play, only a touch higher, about half a percent. Markets in Asia ended mix, a strong manufacturing report out of China helped there. European markets are mix. London, Frankfurt down, Paris up.

U.S. stocks lost about 2 percent last week as investors lost patience with Washington, along with the rest of us losing patience with Washington. The market lost ground in every session since Speaker Boehner's Plan B failed to come to a vote on December 20th.

Long time NYSE floor broker Ken Polcari on how the marks are responding.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KENNY POLCARI, INDEPENDENT NYSE TRADER: Unless, of course, they pull the complete rabbit out of hat and say, look, all along, we had this deal, we were just keeping it a secret from everyone, I don't think that's going to happen. But the market will certainly rally, you can feel it.

That's why every time one of them comes out and is optimistic, you see the market try to take back some of the losses because it wants a sentiment, it wants a resolution. The fact is it's not getting it, and the market will vote with its feet, which is what you saw happened, you know, this past week.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: All right. And one thing you need to know about your money today, it's OK on the last day of 2012 to look at your 401(k), call it the market rally nobody noticed. But the S&P 500 --

VELSHI: This is neat.

ROMANS: -- the broad stock market index, most 401(k)s, the stocks of your 401(k)s track this. It's up 11.5 percent year-to-date.

VELSHI: That's an average. Over 75 years, that's an average of what the market has done. Not bad considering Europe, considering this fiscal cliff, not bad.

ROMANS: And it's good enough for the tenth best year on record for the S&P 500. But, you know, a lot of people say it's the Ben Bernanke rally, right? It's plugging money into the markets -- into the economy, I should say. But also, a lot of regular people and hedge fund managers have been pulling out. So you might have missed it.

VELSHI: That was actually a lot higher at the beginning of the week.

GUPTA: I should check it more often. Docs don't check stuff this often.

VELSHI: We can help each other this morning, my friend.

GUPTA: That's right. I keep you healthy.

VELSHI: You keep us healthy, we'll make you rich.

GUPTA: Oh, wow.

VELSHI: All right. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is spending, sadly, New Year's Eve in the hospital because of a blood clot. The latest on her condition, just ahead.

GUPTA: And the Kardashian clan about to get bigger. Kim's big announcement in moments.

If you're living the house right now, you can watch us any time at your desk top or your mobile phone, just go to CNN.com/TV.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)