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No Vote on Superstorm Sandy Aid; Investors React to Fiscal Cliff Deal; Perks for Hollywood in Cliff Deal; Rental History Gets "Social"; ESPN Anchor Back to Work

Aired January 2, 2013 - 10:30   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Bottom of the hour, let's check the "Top Stories".

Now the House has avoided the fiscal cliff, but it has also avoided Superstorm Sandy. The House adjourned last night without voting on a bill that would have sent billions to help recovery efforts across the northeast. The Senate approved a $60 billion bill last week, but the House decided not to bring up any other legislation.

Just a short time ago, I spoke with New York Congressman Peter King. And he places the blame squarely on the shoulders of House Speaker John Boehner.


REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: He walked off the floor, he refused to tell us why, he refused to give us any indication or warning whatsoever. And Eric Cantor he met with us throughout the week, he's the one who devised the strategy as to how he would bring it to the floor to make it acceptable, to let Republicans who wanted to vote against certain parts of the bill, they could do that, but the bill was going to pass with $60 billion and -- but listen the bottom line here is the Republican Speaker walked off the floor without allowing a vote.

And I'm just saying these people have no problem finding New York -- these Republicans when they're trying to raise money. They raise millions of dollars in New York City and New Jersey. They send Governor Christie around the country raising millions for them.

I'm saying anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee should have their head examined. I would not give one penny to these people based on what they did to us last night.


BLACKWELL: Well, the new Congress starts tomorrow and a bill will start from scratch but house appropriations chairman Hall Rogers is not concerned about quickly getting the money of the area. He's a Republican from Kentucky. He says the Federal Emergency Management Agency, quote, "Has enough money to last until at least late February or March anyway."

And besides that missing money in your paycheck, people are noticing a lot of missing cooperation on Capitol Hill. Here is Democratic Representative Peter Welch on our show about an hour ago, describing Americans' frustration with this divided Congress.


REP. PETER WELCH (D), VERMONT: They should have confidence that on New Year's Eve they have a Congress that's done its job. And we hadn't done it. So this brinksmanship is very negative for the whole process but it does reflect how divided we are.


BLACKWELL: Well, but at least some on Washington -- in Washington, rather, were able to come together and make that vote happen. We did get a deal done last night.

Senator John Barrasso is with us from Capitol Hill. He's a Republican from Wyoming it's good to have you as part of the conversation sir.

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R), WYOMING: Thank you. Thanks Victor.

BLACKWELL: You -- you voted yes on this deal. Was that begrudgingly I mean, do you feel like you voted against your party's core value in voting yes?

BARRASSO: No, I don't at all, Victor. You know taxes were going up on all Americans on January 1st, and we made permanent the Bush tax cuts for 99 percent of Americans. I think that's an important thing to do. What the President wanted and did not get as part of this deal was he wanted to actually raise the debt ceiling. And that's going to be the next debate and fight on Capitol Hill, because the President has maxed out his credit card, and he is not going to get an unlimited credit card.

We're going to talk specifically about cuts and specifically focused on tax reform as well as helping to save and strengthen Medicare and Social Security. And that's the next discussion we're going to have in Washington.

BLACKWELL: What you -- what the Republicans wanted and did not get was to keep the Bush era tax cuts in place for everyone, and also to have some guaranteed spending cuts as part of the conversation of taxes, hand in hand at once. Are you confident that these cuts will come? What we hear from House Republicans so many times and from Senate Republicans, is that the cuts never come.

BARRASSO: Well, on January 1st, tax rates were going up on all Americans, but now if the President wants the Congress to vote to raise the debt ceiling, there is going to be keyed to that specific cuts long term in the entitlement programs. Let's face it, 10,000 baby boomers today are turning 65. 10,000 did yesterday, 10,000 will tomorrow. We need to have a growing economy and a program set to make sure that these long-term entitlements are there for the next generation.

You know the President the night he was re-elected said he didn't want people -- children to grow up in a country burdened with debt, yet he has done nothing to deal with the debt. He sort of campaigned on the idea that if you raise taxes on just a few, it will solve the problems. It has not solved any of the problems. All it has done is actually dealt with about seven days of spending over the course of a year. There's still the other 51 weeks that need to be dealt with. And that's why we have to focus on the spending.

BLACKWELL: Earlier on CNN, Tea Party Movement member, Representative Jeff Landreau acknowledged some political infighting within the party. Do you see that happening?

BARRASSO: Well, I see Republicans united, united on the issue of cutting spending. The President is addicted to spending, as are the Democrats in Congress. When the President talked about the debt ceiling, and he said he wasn't going to not pay the bills that Congress has passed. I would remind the President these are for programs that he was the one that instigated. It's his health care law. And I'm a doctor. That healthcare law continues to be unworkable, unpopular and unaffordable. And it's the President's own stimulus package which I believe was a failure and did not do the things for our economy that the President had promised.

BLACKWELL: Well, many of the bills do predate 2008, but unfortunately we're out of time. I wished we could talk more. Senator John Barrasso, thank you very much.

BARRASSO: Thank you, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Markets are surging over the news about the fiscal cliff deal. Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange like there, 250 points up on the day, Alison.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONENT: True the market is rallying but the $64,000 question Victor, how long will the good feeling last? We'll be back after the break.


BLACKWELL: It's been less than 12 hours since Congress passed a measure to avert the fiscal cliff and investors are getting their first chance to weigh in. Here's a look at the big board. Just over an hour after the opening bell we're at 240 already up on the day.

Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange. Alison, is this about what the investors expected to see? Are we above or below where we expected to be at 10:39 Eastern?

KOSIK: It's right where we expected to be, it's right where investors expected to be. Huge gains to kick off the New Year, all because of the deal to avert the fiscal cliff. And here's what's funny, though. You know for as long as it took for lawmakers to reach an agreement, one analyst actually says Congress has done the easy part. And now comes the hard party, meaning reducing spending and increasing the debt limit which of course will come in about two months.

So then the question becomes how long will this good feeling last? With one trader warning investors at this point its buyer beware but you know what if you look at the numbers this morning and those buyers are far outnumbering the sellers -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about the payroll tax check -- the payroll tax hike, rather.

KOSIK: Right.

BLACKWELL: Most Americans aren't sees a tax hike in their tax rate but most everyone will see the paycheck shrink and it's because of the payroll tax. Let's talk about that.

KOSIK: Right, because the payroll tax holiday Victor is over. So that means your paycheck is going to get smaller so let's say you make about $50,000 a year, that means $83 a month will be coming out of your paycheck it will be that much less. If you make $75,000 a year you're going to be bringing home a $125 a month less.

But you know what there's also plenty of upside for your wallet in this deal as well. The deal prevented the alternative minimum tax from expanding. That will keep most middle class tax refunds right where they are. And most people won't actually feel a change this year in income taxes either, but you know it is a whole different ball game of course if you're making more than $400,000 a year, but you know what for most people it's a nibble instead of shark bite -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Yes and they will take the nibble over the shark bite. Alison Kosik, thank you very much.

Despite raking in a record $10.8 billion last year, Hollywood is still going to get some major tax breaks and it's all part of the fiscal cliff deal. And it's your tax dollars.


BLACKWELL: The fiscal cliff deal include some big bonuses for Hollywood like $430 million in tax breaks that will continue for U.S. movie production. Now keep in mind Hollywood raked in $10.8 billion in ticket sales last year, that's a new box office record. And some Hollywood stars were very supportive of President Obama during the election, for example Sara Jessica Parker.


SARAH JESSICA PARKER, ACTRESS: OK. The guy who ended the war in Iraq, the guy who says you should be able to marry anyone you want, and the guy who created four million new jobs, that guy, President Obama and Michelle are coming to my house for dinner on June 14th. And I want you to be there, too, because we need him, and he needs us.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLACKWELL: CNN's Nischelle Turner is in Los Angeles and back with us. I'm just going to come to you with a one-word question that I'm sure a lot of people at home are asking. What?

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can see the eye roll. I can hear the people sucking in their breath. Yes, I absolutely understand the initial reaction, but don't be fooled by the celebrity factor, Victor. You know, Hollywood is a business like any other. And while this whole star power thing may be important to people like us, according to the Motion Picture Association of America, some 2.1 million people got up this morning in the United States, and went to work at a job dependent, not a direct hire, but dependent on the film and television industry.

That's an important number. There's a lot of competition for those jobs. Frankly there's no guarantee that they will stay in the United States, because, you know, people used to think television production would always stay in California, but other states started competing for those jobs. Last year, listen to this, when the new season rolled out of the 23 new network shows -- this is according to "The L.A. Times" -- only two of them were shot in Los Angeles County.

So you can see the same thing happening internationally. Now remember these major studios are all parts of multinational corporations, who are not shy about outsourcing. And over the we have seen plenty of television shows, like in Canada, take advantage of historically favorable exchange rates and tax breaks in that country.

And earlier Christine Romans said this to you, and I thought it was spot on. She said one man's pork is another man's job creator. That's exactly what it seems like we have here.

BLACKWELL: It certainly is. It's pork when somebody else is eating it.

Nischelle, let's talk about some of these other countries because you mentioned Canada. Which other companies are competing for the U.S. film industry?

TURNER: Yes, there's several, you know, there's countries like New Zealand. They're actively competing for Hollywood productions. You know, "The Lord of the Ring" series, "The Hobbit" they have been financial windfalls for that country. They brought in hundreds of thousands of tourists.

And according to "The New York Times", Warner Brothers spent an estimated $500 million in New Zealand on "The Hobbit" movies alone. To get that kind of business, the kiwis actually reworked some of their labor laws and they subsidized films like the hobbit with a reported 67 million New Zealand tax breaks, that's the support that's turned it into a major center for film makers. There's also China, we're seeing a lot of competition from there as well -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Big dollars that people are trying to get. Nischelle Turner in L.A. for us, thank you.


BLACKWELL: So we're talking movies. Let's talk about your embarrassing movie choices. Well, they soon might be fodder for your friends on Facebook. The new law that's catching some by surprise. We're going to talk about that next.


BLACKWELL: OK. So we all have our cinematic guilty pleasures, right? Take the movie "Mean Girls". Yes, it's fun if you're 15, a little embarrassing if you're 45. And maybe your Facebook friends don't need to know that you've streamed it nine times on Netflix in the last month, but that could change.

Congress passed a law making it easier for sites like Netflix and Hulu to share your entire rental history on social sites like Facebook.

Eric Deggans, TV and media critic for "The Tampa Bay Times" joins me from St. Petersburg. Eric this is another story about Netflix, one, but you're pretty critical of this new prospect. What's at stake here?

ERIC DEGGANS, TV AND MEDIA CRITIC: Well, whenever users' privacy is encroached upon, I think we always want to be careful about it. The only thing that concerns me about this is that is Netflix is talking about using Facebook to share information with people inside your friends' circle, so you can let them know what you're watching on Netflix.

But we know that Netflix has a history of not necessarily being as sensitive to its consumers' needs and wishes as it could be. And Facebook is notorious for changing privacy settings, and changing how privacy areas work without adequately informing the users. And you sometimes get surprised with the level of information shared with people in your circle or even with the general public.

When a change is made and you're not made aware of it. So I hope people keep an eye on this, and both companies do an adequate job of letting people know what information is available and when it becomes available.

BLACKWELL: Now this isn't totally unprecedented. I mean this is already in place in Canada, Latin America. Have we heard any complaints from those users.

DEGGANS: I'm not sure we've heard any complaints from them and Netflix tried to implement some social sharing aspects to its service years ago, and was sort of dissuaded from doing so by legal hurdles. There's been laws on the books against sharing people's video rental history for years, connected to when Robert Bork tried to become a justice and his video rental laws were shared with journalists.

This recent change in legislation sort of changed all that, made it easier for social and digital sites like Netflix and Hulu to use social media to share people's information. And you know, A lot of people are going to have fun sharing information on their favorite TV shows, their favorite movies that they watched in the service. My only question is people should know and have full control of what information they're sharing with their friends and when this stuff gets implemented. So we have to keep a close eye on this.

All right Eric Deggans with "The Tampa Bay Times", thank you, we'll see what happens with this new law.

BLACKWELL: Sports caster Hannah Storm She returns to the air just three weeks after being burned in a propane grill accident. She talked about the moment when her clothes caught fire.


BLACKWELL: Just in to CNN. House Speaker Boehner says he'll make a vote on Superstorm Sandy a top priority, but not until the new session. Boehner outraged lawmakers in the hard-hit northeast area when he refused to bring the matter to a vote yesterday. Some lawmakers, including fellow Republican Peter King of New York, called the sleight disgraceful.

The best moment of yesterday's Rose Bowl parade in Pasadena was -- probably able to bring a tear to your eye because an army sergeant who was deployed to Afghanistan stepped off a parade float and surprised his wife and little boy three months early. He was (INAUDIBLE). The military was in on it. It took a lot of planning. He just runs over and jumps into his dad's arms.

After Army Sergeant First Class Eric Pazz told his family he won a contest for an all-expenses paid trip to the parade, through, they traveled from her home on a base in Germany to get there to meet him. Great moment.

Rose Bowl parade viewers took in another emotional moment with the return to air of sportscaster Hannah Storm. Storm hosted the show with her former ESPN co-anchor Josh Elliott. Storm was back at work just three weeks after suffering first and second-degree burns in a propane gas grill accident.


HANNAH STORM, ESPN ANCHOR: I didn't know what to do other than I'm left-handed, reach and get the shirt off as much as possible. That's why my hand is so badly damaged. I yelled inside to my 15-year-old daughter who was in the kitchen, "Mommy's on fire, you have to call 911."


BLACKWELL: "Mommy is on fire". I cannot imagine. She looks great.

Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is back with us. First and second degree burns. How serious, how do you treat these? It's unbelievable when we see those pictures. She's being really open about this.

ELIZABETH COHEN, SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's so wonderful that she's being so open because people do need to be careful when they're grilling at home. It's wonderful to see how well she's doing. This was just three weeks ago. So first and said degree burns are serious. We can see in these pictures, here it's no little thing. It can cause blistering. You see I think those are probably scars from the blisters, that intense redness. This is over a pretty significant part of her body.

She does absolutely the right thing. You don't want to treat this at home. You're going to call 911 to get medical attention immediately.

BLACKWELL: She's back after three weeks off from this burn. She has said that she wanted to kiss the makeup artist when they first put on their first eyebrow and she's wearing hair extensions. But she looks great. Is this level of recovery so soon typical?

COHEN: You know, I think she really is doing terrific. She really is. I mean to come back after three weeks, she looks terrific. She looks like she's full of energy, even after having gone through this incredible trauma. I was talking to a specialist that people have done this. If the burn is treated mealy and treated well. It sounds like they got terrific care at a place that specializes this, you can come back, but other people aren't so lucky. They don't necessarily get the exact care at the exact right moment

BLACKWELL: Aside from the physical scars, there are lots of emotional scars, not just for her, but also for her daughters.

COHEN: I mean Can you imagine being 15 years old and hearing mommy is on fire? What a great 15-year-old. She obviously got to work, got on the phone and called 911, yes, this is a different things to get over. There will be scars most likely for a while. I was talking to a specialist, those scars may not look like what we just saw forever, but there will likely be some scars forever, but chances are she's not in pain. The pain goes away after a shorter period of time.

BLACKWELL: That's good to know. She looks great, she's back at work. Of course we wish her the best. Elizabeth Cohen thank you.

COHEN: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell, thank you for joining us today.

CNN NEWSROOM continues right now with Ashleigh Banfield.