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House to Vote on Fiscal Cliff Deal; Bottom Line of Fiscal Cliff Deal; Public's Pulse on Fiscal Cliff Deal; Interview with Congressman Dennis Kucinich; Bottom Line of "Fiscal Cliff" Deal; Dig Yourself Out of Debt in 2013; Secretary Clinton Has Blood Clot Behind Right Ear; Seven NFL Coaches Sacked

Aired January 1, 2013 - 09:00   ET


JOE JOHNS, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the NEWSROOM, Happy 2013 from the East to the West, America rings in the New Year. It's a time of new hope, new optimism and a visit from Kathy Griffin.


KATHY GRIFFIN, COMEDIAN: Rihanna will be here.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Someone on Twitter was saying there was going to be a drinking game every time I giggle nervously.

GRIFFIN: Calvin Harris and Swedish House Mafia.

COOPER: Who is Calvin Harris?

GRIFFIN: Ok, grandma, you know what?


JOHNS: From the giggles to the glitter ball, highlights and lowlights from the big night.

Plus, was one of your resolutions to get out of debt between the credit cards and student loans? We'll show you sure-fire ways to crush those bills. Must have essentials to keep you out of the red and in the black for 2013.

Help wanted. Tuesday follows black Monday, seven NFL head coaches are looking for jobs after being sacked.

And private pot party. New year and a new place to light up in Colorado, members only clubs where you bring your own. Opening time 4:20.

NEWSROOM starts right now.

Good morning, I'm Joe Johns from Washington, and sitting in for Carol Costello. We begin this morning with the fiscal cliff and the drama that now shifts to the House, that's because overnight the Senate overwhelmingly passed a compromise measure, the move delays the spending cuts that have could plunged the nation back into a recession. For most Americans here is the bottom line. Taxes would stay the same for almost everyone but top earners, but the measure is now up to the House. Lawmakers there could vote on a compromise today and Republican leaders in the House are not making any promises that it's going to pass. This morning, both parties say more work needs to be done.


SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I'm disappointed that we weren't able to make the grand bargain as we've tried to do for so long. But we tried. If we do nothing the threat of a recession is very real. And passing this agreement does not mean negotiations halt, far from it.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: We've done some good for the country. We've taken care of the revenue side of this debate and now it's time to get serious about reducing Washington's out- of=control spending. That's a debate the American people want. It's the debate we'll have next, and it's a debate Republicans are ready for.


JOHNS: We're covering all the angles of this story as it unfolds, Brianna Keilar at the White House, Christine Romans breaks down the numbers, and Alison Kosik is getting an earful from Americans inside a New York diner, let's bring with Brianna.

Does the White House expect the House of Representatives to take up this measure today and do they think it's going to pass, Brianna?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They certainly think or they're certainly prepared for that and obviously that's the hope, they want -- the president said yesterday or I would say overnight actually in a statement that he wants the House to act without delay.

There's a couple of possibilities here, though, Joe. First off, Speaker Boehner needs to take the deal that was struck and passed in the Senate and he needs to see where his House Republicans stand on this.

Of course I think the expectation is that if he were to put it to a vote in the House it would pass, there would be Democratic support for it, and there would also be some Republican support. The question will be, is there enough Republican support as it is right now to just put it up for a vote.

Republicans may look at it and say you know what, we want to change some things, make it more to our liking so they could propose some amendments. It's even possible they could change it but, Joe, even if they were to go through that process, it is something that could still happen very quickly but we're waiting to see what comes out of a meeting today between the speaker and his Republicans.

JOHNS: Now this deal certainly buys some time, but is the White House a little bit concerned that they're going to have to fight this battle again in a couple of months?

KEILAR: No doubt about it. They know this is a reality. The president knows this is a reality, all of his aides know that as well. The debt ceiling now is where we turn our eyes to. This will be late February, early March, and this is where the issues of trying to tackle the long-term fiscal health of the country, be that entitlement reform, tax reform, all of those things that President Obama tried to do with House Speaker John Boehner but ultimately they failed to do in their negotiations.

It will now be attached to the debt ceiling since it was unattached from the fiscal cliff and we will be talking about this for some time, Joe. Happy new year to you.

JOHNS: Happy new year to you, Brianna. You've been up all night and still ticking. Thanks for all your work.

Eight senators voted against the compromise measure. But the opposition did not fall along party lines.

Senate Democrat Tom Harkin, Tom Carper and Michael Bennet all voted no and so did five Republicans. Senators Mike Lee, Richard Shelby, Rand Paul, Chuck Grassley and Marco Rubio.

Let's set the politics aside, though, for a moment answer the question that most of you are probably wondering on this New Year's Day, what does the measure mean for me and my wallet?

CNN's Christine Romans is crunching the numbers -- Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, HOST, CNN'S YOUR BOTTOM LINE: Well, Joe, for 98 percent of you it means your income taxes will not go up. Your income tax rates will not go up to those the Clinton era levels. It means if you're unemployed and you've got your last unemployment benefits check, the federal unemployment benefits check last Friday, will you get another check. Unemployment benefits have been extended.

If you're a teacher who writes off $250 worth of supplies that you buy for your classroom you're still going to be able to do that. If you're a doctor you're not going to get a pay cut because of your Medicare reimbursement falling off the fiscal cliff so a lot of different corners of society are not going to see their taxes rise.

But I really want to point out here the payroll tax holiday was not part of this deal. That means for 160 million of you, 160 million of you, you're going to see -- you're going to see higher Social Security taxes, and you're going to see a lower paycheck, a slightly lower paycheck. Anywhere from $10 to $40 depending on how much you earn, $10 to $40 every two week less out of your pocket so the payroll tax holiday always meant to be temporary, not part of this so that is a bite that people will feel -- Joe.

JOHNS: Christine, rates are not going up for people making between $250,000 and $400,000 but it turns out they could still be paying higher taxes? Am I right? Because some of their itemized deductions are being capped. ROMANS: Yes. And we're still digging in and trying to get some more details about exactly what that's going to mean but it's a way that I guess technically, technically the president could go back and say look, there are some people who make $250,000 a year or more who will see higher taxes and why?

Because they're going to cap itemized deductions for individuals at $250,000 a year and for households making $300,000 a year so there's been a lot of -- a lot of criticism among progressives, among liberals who have look, the president always said $250,000 he was going to raise taxes on people making more than $250,000, instead this Senate bill is for people making $400,000 and couples at $450,000 but they will be capping itemized deductions there at 250 for individuals and 300 for households.

And what that means, what that means, is that there are -- I'm telling you right now even on New Year's Day, accountants across the country who are scouring the books with their clients trying to figure out what that's going to mean for couples and families making more in the $250,000 to $300,000 range.

JOHNS: Right, so there's going to be people out there saying I thought they said my taxes weren't going to go up but I'm still paying more. That's going to be an interesting scenario on tax day there.

Thanks so much for that.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

JOHNS: Good to see you. And happy new year, Christine.

ROMANS: You too, Joe.

JOHNS: You bet.

The Senate missed the fiscal cliff deadline and we don't know what's going to happen in the house. So how are Americans viewing the stalemate in Washington? Alison Kosik, was taking the pulse of the public and with the clock running it's only appropriate that she's at a New York diner, Tick Tock.

How is it looking over there, Alison?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You took the -- you took the words right out of my mouth, Joe, we are at the Tick Tock Diner, very apropos considering the clock has really been ticking on Congress to make a decision on the fiscal cliff. And this is a great diner because not only people from New York are here but people across the world are here.

I ran into Fazad here from L.A. Happy new year.

FAZAD: Thank you, happy new year.

KOSIK: And you've got a lot to say about the fiscal cliff. You're frustrated, aren't you, about how lawmakers have handled this? FAZAD: Right, I just think that delaying it isn't a solution and a solution is that someone is going to have to give up something at some point, and the politics right now are so heavy handed that I don't -- I dont feel like in two months we're going to come away with something that people actually going to be happy with.

This actually affects people like me, I'm a teacher in L.A., or like people that politicians should be working for, I think they're so far removed in their own little worlds, Getting their own things done that I don't think it's not going to have a positive impact.

I don't even think anything is going to happen necessarily in two months. I wouldn't be surprised if we saw another delay or something along those lines.

KOSIK: How much do you think they've been sort of even playing with the economy, kind of holding it hostage and then when it came down to the wire, how much has really changed?

FAZAD: You're exactly right. I think it's just -- they're just holding different areas of American's lives hostage, be it the economy, health care, they take issues that actually affect people in everyday life, hold those hostage to kind of push kind of what they want to do on their own side so it's exactly what you're saying. And I don't expect anything to happen any time soon. That's pessimistic but until I'm proven wrong I think that's what I'm going with.

KOSIK: OK, Fazad, thanks so much and once again happy new year.

And whats -- and again this is a great place because we did talk with some folks out - from out of town, from -- especially from Europe and England and they actually say it's kind of laughable how our members of Congress are in such disarray, how disorganized we are, even some Europeans who have to deal with the European debt crisis, they're also laughing, which is kind of the pot calling the kettle black if you ask me. But there you go.

Anyway, let's go to O'Neill (ph) here. I was talking to him earlier.

O'Neill, you had some thoughts on the fiscal cliff and how these negotiations have gone?

O'NEILL: Yes. I just think it's a little bit irresponsible for them to wait last minute to make a decision since this affects more than a million people and I think as our government they should look out for the people versus for the interests of themselves.

KOSIK: And you were talking to me about how you're looking to really make a change on your own once you go into the voting booth again.

O'NEILL: Yes, I am, currently I have voted Democratic for the past two elections but now I'm looking more towards the Republican because I feel like, even though they don't support the middle class as much, they will support our economy and help us kill the deficit that we do have.

KOSIK: All right, O'Neill, happy new year.

So interestingly enough, Joe, you know, this whole fiscal cliff battle has made, you know, average Americans just become more empowered when it comes time to make that choice in the voting booth again so something maybe our lovely elected leaders should think about as they make their decisions today.

JOHNS: Absolutely, paying a lot more attention to financial matters, too. I bet you, though, that started probably back around TARP or so.

Thanks so much, Alison Kosik, good to see you.


JOHNS: And happy new year.

KOSIK: Same to you.

JOHNS: Pope Benedict XVI welcomed the new year by celebrating mass in St. Peter's Basilica. Crowds gathered to hear the Pope's blessing. He told people to look to God to find true peace. Catholics recognize this day as a World Day of Peace. The annual tradition started in 1968.

Hundreds of thousands of people rang in the new year in New York's Times Square and millions more watched and celebrated from home. It didn't take crews long to start cleaning up after the ball dropped in New York City. Believe it or not the streets are clean this morning.

Three hours later Seattle welcomed 2013 by counting up on the iconic Space Needle, which celebrated its 50th birthday in 2012.

And if you had a hard time deciding on one place to celebrate the new year, Sin City fought for people's attention with multiple fireworks displays above the Las Vegas Strip.

In less than three hours, the House gets its first look at the Senate's fiscal cliff solution, but will the House approve it? Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich weighs in on the plan.


RICK HUFFMAN, CNN IREPORTER: I cannot begin to tell you how irresponsible I think this has been for both parties to play all the politics they've been playing and leaving the people out, leaving the people's concerns out and just letting this thing happen. Both parties are responsible for this, both of them have been playing just little silly games.


JOHNS: Checking the top stories now:

Pot smokers in the Denver area have a new place to light up. Club 64 opened at 4:20 yesterday afternoon. You pay $30 to join the private club where it's BYOW, "bring your own weed." Voters in Colorado, as well as Washington state, approved recreational use of marijuana in November.

A shooting at a New Year's Eve event in Sacramento kills two people and wounds three others. Some 40,000 people were at a fireworks show when gunfire rang out as a fight at a sports bar spilled into the streets. Witnesses later saw police take a man into custody.

When the final figures for 2012 are in, Ford says its Focus model will be the top selling vehicle in the world. Overall, Ford says it sold more than 2 million vehicles in 2012, the only automaker to top that level.

And here's a great excuse to watch ball games today -- a storm system is moving East, bringing rain from Texas through the Southeast, and into the Mid-Atlantic States. There could also be a rain/snow mix from northern Virginia to southern Ohio.

How long we stay over the fiscal cliff now rests on the shoulders of 435 members of the House of Representatives and we're trying to get a sense this morning whether the House has the votes. The House wasn't in session when the Senate passed the bill in the early morning hours. It's in recess until noon today when representatives get their first crack at the agreement and it's going to be one of the last pieces of legislation several outgoing members of Congress deal with.

One of those is Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich, very well- known, of Ohio. He joins us now from Capitol Hill.

Congressman, happy New Year, for one thing, and how are you going to vote on this bill?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: Happy New Year to you.

Well, based on the details that were communicated to the Senate if nothing changes, it looks like something I'd be able to support. I've got to look at the fine print, of course.

You know, it's New Year's Day, but this place is starting to have the feel of the movie "Groundhog's Day", because even with this deal, two months from now, same discussion, spending cuts, the -- and taxes. The country cannot continue to lurch from crisis to crisis. There's responsibilities of governance here which are not being executed in a manner that the American people have a right to expect.

So, you know, this whole fiscal cliff thing really shows and it creates a crisis of confidence in government itself -- and that's a problem.

JOHNS: You know, liberal Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa voted against this on the Senate side. He said it didn't do enough for middle class families. Do you share those concerns?

KUCINICH: Tom Harkin's a great U.S. senator, and I think that, you know, he's right. The question is, though, whether or not the deal that's put together can effectively create a patch that will take us two months down the road. This is no grand bargain. The American people need to know that. This is essentially a two-month fix with respect to the bigger issues of spending, of debt, of tax cuts.

And, you know, is it true that the people are on unemployment deserve to have their benefits extended? Absolutely. Do middle class taxpayers need a patch on the alternative minimum tax? You bet they do. Should there be some relief with people with smaller estates? Yes.

You know, there are some things being done here that are good. But the fact of the matter is, how do we get into this mess to begin with? What is this "Perils of Pauline" scenario where governments all of a sudden or the people of the country are on some railroad track and have to be worried about being run down by the train of economic excess?

And why aren't we talking about jobs? We have over 10 million people unemployed. If you want more taxes, how about more taxpayers?

This is -- you know, the way this whole economy is being managed with a debt-based economic system is going to bring us right back to where we are or where we were yesterday, again and again and again until we reclaim the government's authority and ability to be able to create the jobs, rebuild the infrastructure and get America back on its feet.

JOHNS: Everybody's trying to vote count on this thing right now. Do you think there are enough Democrats and Republicans who are going to sort of lock arms to pass this thing and get out of here?

KUCINICH: I think it will pass. But, again, this is -- make no mistake about it, this is a temporary fix to a much broader situation, a much broader economic problem of a debt-based economic system, a massive unemployment, of low wages, of an economy that's stagnant. We need to get America's economy moving again.

What this will do will stop the stock market from diving tomorrow, but we need a much larger vision of America instead of this small ball debate about cuts and tax cuts and spending, which essentially we continue to go back to every couple months as a result of this deal or any other deal they could have put together at the last minute.

JOHNS: As I mentioned in the intro, you're leaving the Congress. You've been there a long time. You sent out an e-mail last week telling supporters you're going to continue to be active and when I saw that, the first thing I asked was whether you're planning on running for office again any time soon?

KUCINICH: Well, you know, talk to my wife about that. The answer is that I don't have any immediate plans to run for office. I'll be -- I'll be making some announcements in the next couple days.

Rather than worrying about myself in the last couple months since I knew that I wouldn't be returning, I'm concerned about the country. So I've been focusing on the job that I have now and when the new Congress is sworn in on Thursday, then I'll start to focus on what my plans are for the New Year. JOHNS: All right. Congressman Kucinich, thanks so much. It's been a real pleasure covering you on Capitol Hill, your run for president, and we wish you all the best.

KUCINICH: Thank you. Happy New Year to you and all your viewers. Thank you.

JOHNS: It wouldn't be a New Year's eve celebration without Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin in Times Square. We'll show you some of their best moments.


JOHNS: New Year's Eve is easy to celebrate but cleanup can take some time. But for all of those who stayed hours after the celebration ends, we do appreciate you and no place on earth understands that more than New York Times Square.

Two people who might have contributed a little bit to that cleanup are co-hosts of CNN's New Year's Eve extravaganza, Anderson Cooper and comedian Kathy Griffin. And yes, Kathy, we did see that. Let's roll the highlight reel.


KATHY GRIFFIN, COMEDIAN: Rihanna will be here.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Someone on Twitter was saying there was going to be a drinking game every time I giggle nervously.


GRIFFIN: Calvin Harris and Swedish house mafia.

COOPER: Who is Calvin Harris?

GRIFFIN: OK, grandpa, you know what? Let me take this part. Name Mitt Romney's sons.

COOPER: Schlep, there's Tagg, Josh, Ben, Matt.


COOPER: Craig?


COOPER: Oh, yes, thank you!

GRIFFIN: You did it!

COOPER: Do we have the election night?

GRIFFIN: The election photo.

COOPER: There's a photo that Kathy sent me on election night and told me to show it to David Gergen in the midst of our election coverage.

GRIFFIN: I love Gary Tuchman.

COOPER: Gary Tuchman is an amazing reporter.

GRIFFIN: Obviously, you are angry with him to send him Groundhog Day- style to some sort of town in Maine where he drops a minnow in a bucket. Am I getting this correctly?

Ryan, Ryan, screw you! We do a better broadcast because we improvise and we're real!

COOPER: Well, how is it going? Nice to see you.

Well, I almost wore this, Psy. I was this close to wearing this.

GRIFFIN: This is not awkward at all. This is great.

COOPER: Who was that?

GRIFFIN: That was M.C. Hammer.

COOPER: No, was it really?


Babe, I got you babe, I got you babe --

I started sexting George Stephanopoulos.

COOPER: Really?


COOPER: I'm not the only one you sext?


COOPER: Marissa says for a New Year's present, can Anderson get in a word once in a while?

GRIFFIN: You're like Ike Turner.

"Liz and Dick" was fantastic, she had on the Joan Collins wig. Oh, my God, it was heaven on a stick.

COOPER: You hardly talk to me anymore --

GRIFFIN: You hardly talk to me anymore, who do you come through the door at the end of the day.

COOPER: Let's check in with Gary Tuchman.


COOPER: And we wish you a very happy New Year of much success and peace and happiness and love.


JOHNS: Did Kathy Lee actually compare Anderson cooper to Ike Turner? That would make her Tina Turner.

All right, anyway -- have you made a New Year's resolution? If you're looking to climb out of debt, we have some tips that just might help you.


JOHNS: Good morning. I'm Joe Johns, in for Carol Costello.

Stories we're watching right now in THE NEWSROOM:

While Congress was focusing on the fiscal cliff, the U.S. hit the debt ceiling Monday. Lawmakers have approximately two months to raise the borrowing limit or risk having the government default on its financial obligations.

A royal Dutch Shell drilling unit has run aground on an uninhabited Alaskan island. The company and Coast Guard crews have been trying to get the rig to Seattle. The rig went adrift near Kodiak Island off the southern Alaska coast. Winds up to 60 miles an hour and waves as high as 28 feet made the recovery operation treacherous. Alaskan officials say there's been no oil spilled in the area.

According to "Politico", the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association is calling for nationwide boycott of "The Journal News" advertisers and any business that advertises with the paper's owner, Gannett. "The Journal News" published an online list of names and addresses of pistol permit holders. The paper says it will continue adding names to the map.

Two and a half hours from now, the house begins debating the deal to avert the dreaded fiscal cliff. The Senate overwhelmingly passed the compromise measure earlier this morning.

And business correspondent Christine Romans is crunching the numbers to answer the big question: what does it mean to you? Christine?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it means so much to you. I mean, whether you're a doctor or a teacher, a student, a parent, or working American or someone on unemployment benefits, this is a deal that reaches all corners of the population.


ROMANS (voice-over): In addition to dealing with the fiscal crisis, the Senate deal would extend federal farm policies through September. That means milk prices won't double.

The deal also nixed a set pay raise for members of Congress.

The White House scored an agreement to raise the tax rates on larger estates from 35 percent to 40 percent, but Republicans successfully insisted the exemptions should be adjusted annually for inflation, a provision that would increase the exemption amount to $7.5 million for individuals, $15 million for couples by the year 2020.

Now, those households also would pay higher rates on investment profits with rates on dividends and capital gains rising to 20 percent. For taxpayers earning less than $450,000, the deal would restore limits on personal exceptions, and itemized deductions, limits that existed during the Clinton administration, with those benefits phasing out for couples earning more than 250 grand a year and single people earning more than $200,000.

The deal calls for a permanent fix for the alternative minimum tax, which would otherwise hit about 30 million taxpayers for the first time when filing their 2012 return. And it would extend tax credits for college tuition and the working poor for five years.


ROMANS: Joe, of course, all of this depends on what the House does. That's the Senate version. What will the House do? Will there be any amendments that could muck it up?

Markets are closed today as you know, so there's a little bit of breathing space. We are officially over the cliff but with markets closed, it gives the House a little bit of time to try to do something today, Joe.

JOHNS: Breathing room at the very least. Very interesting to see whether somebody tries to amend it, because that could change everything. Thanks so much for that, Christine Romans.

ROMANS: Oh, yes.


New Year is a great way to start new habits and what better resolution to get your finances on track and dig yourself out of debt.

Here with some great financial advice is Ryan Mack, president of Optimum Capital Management.

Happy New Year, Ryan.

RYAN MACK, PRESIDENT, OPTIMUM CAPITAL MANAGEMENT: Happy New Year to you as well. Thank you for having me.

JOHNS: Let's talk about those elimination of debt strategies.

MACK: Yes.

JOHNS: What do you have in mind?

MACK: I mean, essentially, this is 2013. We're asking the government to get their fiscal house in order, we need to get our fiscal houses in order, and the first thing we have to understand is when you're eliminating debt, you know, relax, take a deep breath. Stress and concern never pays any bills. Only action pays bills.

So the first action you need to take is to make sure that you get your FICO score in order, develop your strongest weapons. This is so you can negotiate more effectively, go to sites like and paying your bills on time, which is 35 percent of your FICO score and more to make sure your FICO score gets to be 750 or higher.

Then you have to learn your rights. Go on different Web sites like and downloading the free brochure all the things you should know about debt collection, because if you have debt collectors calling you after 9:30 or 9:00 p.m., something's wrong.

And then, essentially, what we have to do is lay out a plan of attack. Many individuals, too many individuals I've seen have not taken the time to sit down and actually write out what their debts really are, from largest debts on the top to smallest on the bottom using your budget your surplus to pay your surplus from the smallest to the top. That essentially is snowballing strategy.

And then, lastly, develop a hardball strategy. Call them before they call you. Always know that the best time to negotiate with creditors could be at the end of the month because they're trying to collect commissions. So all of these things are little tips and strategies to make sure you put the ball in your hands and let's start standing on the fact that you will be debt free by the end of 2013.

JOHNS: What about investing savings to get out of debt? I mean, how risky is that?

MACK: Well, essentially, I mean debt is, it should be a short term strategy to try to eliminate it, credit card debt or collections debt. So, investing should be a long-term strategy. So you never want to try to use a long-term strategy to pay down short-term debt.

Essentially, investing should be -- I see a lot of individuals saying I can invest $10 in this stock today and hopefully it will be the Google where I can take down that and pay all of my debt. That's a little bit too risky. It's not Atlantic City slot machines, this is investing. So, you want a dollar cost investment strategy that's five years or more.

But if you have excessive amounts of debt, pay down that first or at least try to put a little bit paying down your debt, putting money into savings and then work on investing and put yourself in a better situation.

JOHNS: Say you want to go and sit down with someone -- do you think credit counseling is a good idea?

MACK: Well, credit counseling is a great strategy. We'll say this, if someone comes to you and say, hey, you pay me $600 and I can help prepare your credit, what I say is get out of there as fast as possible. You shouldn't have to pay.

There are too many free things. I like to fight for free. So, the National Foundation of Credit Counseling is a great organization. is a great organization. You can find some credit counselors in your area, and essentially just try to make so you can do all the right things to pay for credit counselors, what you'll be doing, you can find a good free resource right in your neighborhood, I bet.

JOHNS: A lot of people hear about these consolidation loans. Is that a good idea, just one bill and you basically pay everything?

MACK: Well, it's definitely a lot easier. But the problem is that a lot of times with this one bill comes a lot of excessive fees. So, with additional fees and sometimes that credit consolidator, they want to make money, too.

So in addition to the fees, they might even jack the interest rate up. So, even though if you calculate the weighted average of all the fees and expenditures you're actually paying, you might be paying more with that one bill. Again, that might be the cost for something easier. So want to go to Web sites like and then use that debt consolidation calculator to see exactly how much you would be paying according to the term that they gave to you figure out exactly is it worth or is it not. You might want to pay a little bit more if it's easier, but that's a question you should discern for yourself.

JOHNS: How far should you stick your neck out here? Who should come first, yourself or your creditors?

MACK: I mean, look -- at the end of the day, you have to pay bills and this is a lot of hard times for a lot of individuals. So you have to make hard choices which bills to pay first and I'm not advocating anyone getting kicked out of not paying rent, because some credit card company is trying to call and collect their money.

Again, so we have to make sure we have wise and conscious decisions about who we're paying, how we're paying it and what's the most beneficial to you. But, first, before we get to that, if you decide to say you're going to be paying late on a particular bill, call that creditor first and say, look, can we work out a strategy? Because I'm going to pay you, but it might not be on the exact date it was originally on the terms we agreed upon.

So, if we start calling them first, don't wait for them to call you, then we can be responsible making financial decisions for our households.

JOHNS: Ryan Mack, you are certainly a great resource. Good to talk to you and happy New Year.

MACK: Thank you so much. Happy New Year to you too as well.

JOHNS: Billions, James, billions. That British secret agent might want to change his name now that he's broken records at the box office.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) JOHNS: Kim Kardashian is speaking out for the first time about her bundle of joy. Her boyfriend Kanye West broke the news the couple is expecting their first child. We don't know how far along she is.

In a statement posted on her Web site, Kardashian wrote, "It's true. Kanye and I are expecting a baby. We feel so blessed and lucky and wish that in addition to both of our families, his mom and my dad could be here to celebrate this special time with us. Looking forward to great, new beginnings in 2013 and starting a family. Happy New Year."

And other baby news this morning: Jessica Simpson is already showing off her new baby and at the box office, star power can't overcome "The Hobbits." Nischelle Turner explains.


NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN SHOWBIZ CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jessica's bikini baby bump. Jessica Simpson is baring baby bump and she's doing it in a bikini.

The singer posted a TwitPic of herself Sunday at a two-piece swimsuit showing of her pregnant belly. She added the caption, "Bumpin' and proud." This will be Simpson's second child with fiance Eric Johnson. Their daughter, Maxwell, is only eight months old. Simpson announced her pregnancy on Twitter on Christmas day.

"Skyfall's" broke records Sunday when its global ticket sales surpassed the $1 billion mark. This is Daniel Craig's third turn as James Bond and the 23rd film of the spy franchise and it's the first Bond film to ever make more than $1 billion at the box office. According to the "Hollywood Reporter" it's the third film of 2012 to hit the billion-dollar mark following "The Avengers" and "The Dark Knight Rises."

"Django's" box office victory. In a battle of new releases and possible Oscar contenders, Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" beat the much hype "Les Miserables" in an upset at the box office this weekend. The Western drama shot two seconds on the box office chart with more than $30 million in ticket sales this weekend.

"Le Mis" followed at number three with $28 million in sales, while Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit" narrowly held on to the number one box office spot. "Django Unchained" has earned $64 million since its December 25th release.


JOHNS: New details this is morning on Hillary Clinton's condition. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains the danger she faces and her chances for recovery.


JOHNS: Checking "Top Stories" now, lawmakers in the House return to work in about two hours from now. Their challenge: debating the fiscal cliff compromise measure that overwhelmingly passed the Senate overnight. The Republican-controlled House could approve, reject or amend the measure which keeps tax rates pretty much unchanged for most Americans.

The family of Venezuela's cancer-stricken President is asking supporters to ignore rumors that his health is failing. The Reuters News agency, quote "Hugo Chavez's son-in-law is saying the 58-year-old is in stable condition". Chavez has not been seen in weeks and the government has reportedly described his condition as delicate.

2012 saw gas prices hit their highest average ever, according to AAA. The average price last year was $3.60, that's nine cents higher than 2011. Hurricanes, refinery outages, and tensions in the Middle East all contributed to those rising prices.

This is a great excuse to watch bowl games today. A storm system moving east bringing rain from Texas through the southeast into the Mid-Atlantic states. There could also be a rain/snow mix from northern Virginia to southern Ohio.

And how about this for a New Year's resolution, an Australian couple in their 60s plans to run, get this, a marathon a day for every day of 2013, that works out to more than 9,300 miles. The couple plans to raise money for various charities and promote a healthy lifestyle. They'll be living on raw fruits and vegetables.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is spending New Year's Day in the hospital. The news broke late yesterday. The blood clot she's being treated for is located between her brain and the skull, right behind the right ear. Clinton was hospitalized Sunday for a blood clot that formed after she fell and suffered a concussion a few weeks ago. Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is joining us from New York.

Sanjay, Happy New Year to you.


JOHNS: Now that we know the details can you walk us through what it means to have a blood clot between her brain and her skull?

GUPTA: Yes, absolutely, Joe. You know one of the first things you want to ask if someone has a blood clot is where is it located, is it inside a blood vessel or outside a blood vessel and as you point out, Joe, we found out that in fact this blood clot is inside a blood vessel, one of the veins that drains blood away from the brain.

Joe I got a model here, let me just show you. This might make it a little bit easier to understand. We know it's on the right side of her head but I'm going to show you the left side for the purpose of this model. Take a look as I remove this part over here of the brain you see this area over here, Joe, in blue, that area -- these are the veins that are called sinuses, and they drain blood away from the brain.

In the Secretary's case there's a clot in one of those veins that sits right around here and that's what they're trying to address, Joe, with these blood thinning medications, these anti-coagulants as they're called. Joe, one thing I should point out if you think about blood going to the brain, blood also has to leave the brain. If it has a hard time leaving the brain because of this clot, the pressure can start to build up inside the brain and that's what they're trying to avoid, Joe.

JOHNS: And so how serious is this medically and how long would it take to recover from something like this in.

GUPTA: Yes you know it's a good question. I should point out this is a pretty rare occurrence. This isn't something that's common so there's not a lot of, you know, data on these sorts of things but it's one of those things where if it's treated, someone could do very, very well, but if this had not been caught and not been treated, the concern is that pressure inside the brain, because the blood again can't leave the brain could eventually lead to swelling in the brain, could lead to stroke, could lead to some sort of neurological impact.

The doctors have said very clearly, Joe, that there's no evidence that any of that has happened, there has been no evidence of stroke, there's been no evidence of neurological complication and they say that they're treating this. They're giving her the blood thinner medications and the reason that she's in the hospital, they've got to sort of tinker with that dose to make sure they get it absolutely right.

JOHNS: So what do you think a week or two for her to recover from something like this? Months?

GUPTA: Well you know being in the hospital takes, you know, probably a few days or a couple of days, but in terms of how long she's going to be on the medication that is usually months. In terms of how she's doing overall, she may have had headaches you know as a result of the -- the concussion and now this -- this blood clot in the brain as well. It's a little bit harder to say how -- how long that would last but you know I think that put that more in the realm of weeks as opposed of days.

JOHNS: And blood thinners is there anything they can do for something like this?

GUPTA: Well you know blood thinners is sort of the -- the first treatment of choice for -- for a clot like this if it doesn't work, then sometimes there's other things that you know doctors have to think about. Do they actually do something to go and try and fish that clot out directly again to try and open up the blood flow in that vessel? That's more aggressive procedure. And again you try these blood thinners first because that's safer and just a medication.

JOHNS: Sanjay Gupta good to see you. Thanks for that.

GUPTA: You got it Joe. Happy New Year.

JOHNS: The NFL's Black Monday takes a heavy toll. Seven head coaches are sacked. We'll tell you who is out.


JOHNS: A New Year's Day tradition continues with college football games. Here are four big games to watch today: the Georgia Bulldogs take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Capital One Bowl from Tampa at 1:00 o'clock Eastern. It's the same kick off time for South Carolina against the Michigan Wolverines in the Outback Bowl. The Rose Bowl and Pasadena has Wisconsin against Stanford at 5:00 o'clock Eastern. And the Northern Illinois Salukis takes on the Florida State Seminoles in Miami's Orange Bowl beginning at 8:30 Eastern.

Seven NFL teams start the New Year looking for head coaches and with the league's teaming coaching carousel don't be surprised if some of the interviews include guys who got fired yesterday. He's Joe Carter from HLN Sports.


JOE CARTER, HLN SPORTS: Well they call it Black Monday in the NFL. The Monday after the last day of the regular season when head coaches job security is up for grabs. Probably the most shocking head coach fired yesterday would be the Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith. Smith coached nine seasons for Chicago going 81-63 and even leading the Bears to the Super Bowl in 2007 with a loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

The Eagles let go of their all-time winningest head coach yesterday Andy Reid. Reid was the head man for Philly for 14 seasons going 130- 93-1. The Eagles went to the Super Bowl while Reid was the head coach in 2005, losing to the New England Patriots.

Other coaches fired on Monday the Kansas City Chiefs, Romeo Crennel. He coached one full season with the Chief's before being let go.

The Buffalo Bills parted ways with Chan Gailey who went 16-32 in his three seasons with the team.

Ken Whisenhunt was relieved of his duties as head coach to the Arizona Cardinals. The Cards were 45 and 51 during his era.

The Cleveland Browns parted way with Pat Shurmur, who went 9-23 in two seasons as the head coach of the Browns.

And the San Diego Chargers fired Norv Turner who accumulated a 56-40 record while at San Diego.


JOHNS: Besides those seven coaches, five NFL general managers also lost their jobs on Black Monday.

The next hour of CNN Newsroom begins after a short break.