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Inside the Fiscal Cliff Negotiations; 5 Things to Watch in 2013 on the Budget; Markets Rally after Fiscal Cliff Deal; Will 9/11 Good Samaritans Get Compensation?

Aired January 2, 2013 - 11:30   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, I wish you good luck with that.



BANFIELD: There are a lot of people hurting up here in New York and these states.


BLUNT: I agree. We've had disasters in our state and we dealt with them with disaster relief and came back and dealt with them in the regular appropriations process.

BANFIELD: So I promise --

BLUNT: And we'll do that again with Sandy.

BANFIELD: -- in the intro, I promised that our audience would hear the back-door negotiations -- and I really back-doored into this discussion. But can you give me your sense of what Mitch McConnell and Joe Biden were doing and how they were able to effectively get this vote to go this way?

BLUNT: I think that they got any deal at all in less than 72 hours on this big an issue is incredible. They both deserve credit for that. I think we all deserve blame for not solving more of the problem before a new Congress gets here. But one of the most unfair things you could do is ask about 80 members of the new House and Senate, OK, we couldn't deal with this big problem. You said you could deal with it during the campaign, so let's see if you were right or not. I think that's unfortunate.

Mitch McConnell, Joe Biden got together, they made something happen almost out of nothing, in a way, that extends current tax policies for 99 percent of all Americans and makes them permanent. That's a good thing. Now let's get on and do the other things that need to be done.

BANFIELD: Good luck with the new group and good luck --

BLUNT: Exactly.

BANFIELD: -- with the swearing-in as this week continues. Senator, thanks for being with us. I appreciate your time and your candor.

BLUNT: You bet.

BANFIELD: For a complete breakdown of how each of the Senators and each of the congressmen decided to vote, go to


BANFIELD: Got a couple of other stories making news this hour.

The Coast Guard says that oil rig that ran aground in Alaska is luckily stable, not leaking. During the tow to Seattle, extreme weather forced the crew to cut the rig loose, cut the tow lines. The Coast Guard evacuated the 18-man crew on Saturday but bad weather has kept the crews from being able to re-board that rig.

More than 800 people in Minnesota, and the art of swimming in winter. This is the Annual Polar Bear Plunge, an event that help two charities, one for injured troops, the other for suicide awareness. Minnesota wasn't the only place. In North Carolina, there they go. This is the polar bears braving the icy waters to benefit child abuse prevention. Before they ended up in the water they decided to gather to remember those who were killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook, so a lot of reasons for them to brave the cold.

Brand-new club opening at stores in the mile-high city today, Club 64, the first pot club in Colorado. Gets its name from Amendment 64, the amendment that made recreational use of marijuana legal in the state. The club is private, and it's open to members who pay $30 and a fee.


ROB CORRY, CO-OWNER, CLUB 64: You cannot buy marijuana from the club. But you can come in here, you can bring marijuana, you can share marijuana. This club is what the voters of Colorado finally wanted. They wanted adults to be able to get together and exercise our freedoms, together.


BANFIELD: So it still will be another year before stores sell marijuana and will be legally allowed to do so in the state of California.

One more breaking news piece, this one courtesy of the White House. I just received a statement. Bear with me, I'm reading it as I'm speaking to you live. But effectively the White House is calling on Congress to go ahead and hold a vote today on the Hurricane Sandy Relief Bill. That's the issue that has caused such consternation. Superstorm Sandy caused billions of dollars in damage and a $60 billion package had been ready -- it went to the Senate. It had been ready to be voted. I believe theirs some amendments in those numbers. However, the speaker decided not to hold that vote last night, which led Congressman Peter King, of New York, to almost go ballistic, suggesting this was Republicans turning their backs on the people. So there you have it, the White House saying our citizens are trying to put their lives together, our states are still trying to rebuild vital infrastructure, and asking Congress to hold that vote today. So stay tuned. We'll find out if there's reaction from Congress.


BANFIELD: So did you think after coming off an election year, you would have a chance to exhale? Think again. There's three more fiscal cliff-type showdowns that are going to be spilling the ink in Washington, so to speak. Big headlines are coming.

CNN's contributor, Ryan Lizza, is also correspondent for the "New Yorker." He joins to talk about his favorite five, the five things to watch for 2013.

Ryan, nice to see you.


BANFIELD: Start me out with -- I wish we could talk about something else. It's so frustrating to always talk about the fiscal cliff and the intransigence in Washington.

LIZZA: I know.

BANFIELD: But budget wars are number one. Break it down.

LIZZA: I think so. The coming budget fights will make it look like nothing. We have three big events that will be happening now almost simultaneously.

Remember the sequester, $110 billions in blunt automatic spending cuts? Well, that legislation that passed yesterday, that just put it off for 60 days. So 60 days from now, we have that hitting.


BANFIELD: And we couldn't deal with it in 517 days, but now we have 60.

LIZZA: Right. It's absurd. The whole opponent of doing it in the first place was to force them to deal with it. Well, they didn't deal with it. They put it off for 60 days.

That's going to coincide with the fight over the resolution that funds the government expiring. Remember, we had this big showdown over a potential government shutdown? Well, we're going to have another one happening in the same time frame. If that continuing resolution doesn't get passed or continued, the government shuts down.

BANFIELD: Terrific.

LIZZA: And the third big thing -- yes, terrific, right? This is biggest, Ash, the debt ceiling. We hit the debt ceiling sometime in the next two to three months. We've actually already hit it. The Treasury Department is taking emergency measures to extend it a little longer. Anyway, that set of issues we'll be hearing a lot about in the next three months.

BANFIELD: OK, so that's just item one and we broke that into three of them.

LIZZA: That's item one.

BANFIELD: Just for the sake of time, I'm going to combine number two --

LIZZA: Yes, quickly.

BANFIELD: -- and number three, the Supreme Court. Yes, we have other politics on the agenda, don't we?

LIZZA: Yes, Obama's domestic agenda. Can he pass anything, given all these budget wars?

Number three, the Supreme Court, we could have a vacancy. And we will certainly have a big affirmative-action case that will decide the future of affirmative action. So I would say that's the two and three.


BANFIELD: And number four is Boehner versus Cantor. I think a lot of people have been answering it almost rhetorically, is Boehner's seat safe as we sign on these new members of Congress and vote for perhaps a new speaker. What do you think?

LIZZA: It's safe. I don't think anyone wants that job. It's an impossible job. But what happened, when Boehner voted for this bill yesterday and Eric Cantor voted against it, it exposed a rift not just in leadership in the House, but in the Republican Party. You have Marco Rubio, Eric Cantor and other prominent Republicans voting one way, and people like Boehner and Paul Ryan voting another. The Republican Party is in a -- I wouldn't say disarray -- but they're sort of reinventing themselves after a tough election.


BANFIELD: And with out last 45 seconds, Hillary, thrice. I know she's in the hospital, we're all pulling for her, but there's the talk of 2016. Is it just us talking?

LIZZA: I hate to bring up 2016, but the truth is, these things start right away. You know, she can walk into that Democratic primary, it looks like now from the polls, and probably win it. So she's got some -- once her health gets better, she has some major, major decisions to make. Everyone will be watching to see what she does once she retires as secretary of state.

BANFIELD: And we will all be reading your work.

Nice to see you. Sorry I didn't this in person to you yesterday, Happy New Year's. So I'll say it today, Happy New Year, Ryan.

LIZZA: Happy New Year's. I'll see you soon, Ash.


Back right after this.


BANFIELD: I have great news for you. That, 229. Investors apparently quite encouraged by the fiscal cliff deal reached. This is the first trading day of the New Year. Everything was closed yesterday. Things are really looking up, way, way up. The world markets were surging late yesterday on the news, that we have a deal, yeah, or we have a Band-Aid.

Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange.

How exciting is it there right now?


ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: What we're seeing happen on the board here today, it's exactly what we expected. They gains are on top of how the Dow did Monday when it went up 166 points on Monday. One again, big gains for markets around the world over night. And this, of course, is all because of the deal to avert the fiscal cliff. You look deeper at the stocks, all 30 of the stocks that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average are moving higher, led by Hewlett Packard and Caterpillar. They happened to be two of the worst performers from 2012. Right now, they're up 4 to 5 percent. So maybe some bargain hunting going on.

Bank stocks are looking good right now, including Bank of America, shares are up more than 3 percent. Bank of America shares touched a new 52-week high today.

So everything is up today of the almost 3,000 stocks that trade here, less than 200 are trading lower, so a strong way to begin the year. The question is, will it last? Ashleigh?

BANFIELD: Oh, you. I knew you were going to bring that up. You mean the three other fiscal cliffs we have to deal with where the markets can get upset about --


BANFIELD: -- our uncertainty again? Alison Kosik, gosh.

KOSIK: Just the little details, you know, like the spending cuts and debt ceiling debate.


BANFIELD: You're still the most adorable person on Wall Street, in my opinion. (LAUGHTER)

KOSIK: You know what's funny is there's one analyst who says Congress has all right done the easy part and now comes the hard part, which is reducing spending and dealing with the debt limit, which is two months away. And Wall Street is aware of this. Today, they're rallying, but this is on the back of their minds.

BANFIELD: Heck yeah.

OK, Alison, thank you so much, sweetheart. Good to see you. Happy New Year.

How big a rally will we see? We'll keep an eye on the big boards throughout the day.

And we'll be right back.



ERIC LEVINE, CHEF & HOST, CHOPPED: I'm the executive chef in East Hanover, New Jersey.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eric Levine got of to a rocky start on the food network's "Chopped," but the fact he showed up to compete at all defines resilience in the face of adversary.

LEVINE: The night before, I had chemo radiation treatment. I found out I had six to eight months to go. At that moment, it was like a light bulb went off. It was, wow, look at the opportunities that I have. Most people would give their soul to have what I have.

GUPTA: Eric survived the chopping block and won $10,000. But more importantly he's survived cancer five times. He was first diagnosed when he was 29 years old.

LEVINE: After I had had cancer for the fifth time, I wanted something to remind me every day of life. So the five on the outside represents the five times I've beaten cancer. And the I.M., is the indestructible master of one theory that I have. That's, if you take responsibility for your happiness and your action and what you do in life, if you pass that on to one person every day.

Good afternoon, ladies. How are you?


How are you enjoying your dining experience so far?

GUPTA: Levine, who is now 43, is using his newfound celebrity to inspire and push others to reach their full potential. And he begins right in his own kitchen. LEVINE: Throughout the kitchen we have different phrases for different signs and different things that I think is important to our well-being in the kitchen, the mindset of the kitchen.

The stems, cut it off. We'll use that for the --

GUPTA: Levine shares his culinary and cancer survival experiences at events held at his restaurant as well as when he lends time to the American Cancer Society.

LEVINE: for me, it's about paying it forward to a good cause and very involved in the American Cancer Society.

GUPTA: In the end, he says fight the fight, do what you love every day, and above all, have some fun.

LEVINE: I think the fun factor is what it's about, besides the hokey- poke. The hokey-pokey obviously is what it's about. But I look at me and go, OK, I get it. I'm not winning any sexiest man of the year awards, but I'm the happiest person on the universe.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN reporting.



BANFIELD: So hard to believe it was more than 11 years ago that America was just fundamentally changed on 9/11. Thousands killed, but also thousands of people were hurt. Among a lot of those brave first responders were real everyday people, just people who rushed in to help and do anything they could. Now they want to be included in Congress's $2.8 billion compensation fund, because they got sick from breathing in toxic dust, they say. But they are being told no. There are the figures. Why the roadblock?

Defense Attorney Joey Jackson is joining me talk about this.

Why would they turn away anybody who was a Good Samaritan on 9/11 and now has cancer?

JOEY JACKSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It's so true, Ashleigh. It's becomes a question of proof. People who were there and served -- and there were so many first responders who helped to keep people safe. It changed how, as you said, the way we live, think and communicate. It was a terrible day. We'll just never forget it. But the issue is whether people who were volunteers there could in good faith prove that they were volunteering.

BANFIELD: What kind of proof are you talking about? We're talking about evidence in a civil case?

JACKSON: Yes. Exactly. Unfortunately, there's so many people honest and well, that's not unfortunate. What's unfortunate is you have the few very who might fabricate. So what happens is a compensation fund says, listen, we understand you may have ailments. We understand you may have been there, and we certainly want to assist you as you assisted us. However, we need two affidavits sworn to and signed by two witnesses who observed, A, that you were there, and, B, the nature of the work doing. The problem is because that it was so long ago, people have moved away and people are no longer there. People who are really sick are having very bad problems finding someone who could establish that they were there and assist them.

BANFIELD: If I can't find two people because I have a photograph, somebody took a picture of me covered in the dust or lifting some of the debris, is that sufficient evidence?

JACKSON: It could be. What ends up happening is it's like any court of law, right? Ultimately what happens, not that this is a court of law, it's a compensation fund established to mete out these claims, but the reality is --


BANFIELD: The standards are similar?

JACKSON: Exactly. Similar standards, but you have to show some proof. If it makes sense, you would think the people overseeing it would be inclined to pay out the claim. But it has to make sense and you need proof. Why? Because there are those few who might seek to take advantage and you want to ensure the integrity and propriety of this fund.

BANFIELD: What you say is so true. Just after the shootings in Newtown, there are allegations this woman in New York set up a fake donation fund to rake in money for herself in the false name of one of the victim' family members.

The New York City Health Department said there's no association between cancer and 9/11, and the dust at 9/11. Does that factor in here as well? For those who do, say, have the evidence, do they have to prove that their sickness is because of it?

JACKSON: It won't. And here's why. Because Congress, which was a very good thing, is they said, listen, cancer takes a long time to develop. They approved 50 cancers which you can't really establish resulted from 9/11 but potentially could be. Because it takes a while to evolve, Congress said if you can establish you have those, even if there's no causal connection, we pay out the claim. But you have to have proof.

BANFIELD: I have 10 seconds left. Is there civil recourse if you get dumped from the government and you don't have an option to get to the pile of money? Do they have any other option?

JACKSON: Short answer, very little.

BANFIELD: Oh, really?

JACKSON: Very little civil recourse for this. You establish it there and get it from the fund. You know how courts work, Ashleigh. You'll be fighting forever in another type of court of law. BANFIELD: Can't sue the landlord?


BANFIELD: Can't sue for the use of certain materials in their building, nothing like that?


BANFIELD: You're just out?

JACKSON: Absolutely.

BANFIELD: If you're sick and don't get accepted, you're out of luck?

JACKSON: Have to get that proof.

BANFIELD: That's heart-breaking.

JACKSON: That's the problem.

BANFIELD: And it's difficult to hear. You can see both points of view, right, the people who cheat and the people who didn't.

JACKSON: The honest people, yes.

BANFIELD: Joey Jackson, always good to see you.

JACKSON: Pleasure, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Thank you, sir.

And that wraps it up for me and NEWSROOM. But stay tuned. Now I'm passing off the baton to my colleague, Suzanne Malveaux, with NEWSROOM INTERNATIONAL. Have a fabulous day.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to the NEWSROOM INTERNATIONAL. I'm Suzanne Malveaux. We're taking you around the world in 60 minutes. Here's what's going on right now.

The nation pulling back from the brink of economic chaos after a late night vote in the House. Now, President Obama back on vacation in Hawaii.