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Congress Reaches Fiscal Cliff Deal; Christie Goes Ballistic on Congress, Boehner; Two New Yorkers Arrested with Means for Terror Attack; Interview with Congressman Meeks; Interview with Congressman Lankford

Aired January 2, 2013 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT tonight, Congress told America it saved the country from the fiscal cliff, but that doesn't add up for the USA is at the bottom of the canyon tonight.

Plus, Chris Christie goes ballistic on the hated Congress and Speaker of the House John Boehner will show the outburst to you.

And police say two New Yorkers have been arrested with the means and the know-how for a terrorist attack. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, America or Homer Simpson. Like homer, we blithely skated to the precipice of the fiscal cliff believing we would sail into the sunset with a deal that made almost everyone happy, low tax rate, extended benefits. It sure sounds heavenly, but look what happens next.

Yes, that's how it ends. That feeling of weightless euphoria, believes there was no way he would ever crash, there would be a last minute save. That was America today. The Dow surged 380 points on news of the fiscal cliff deal. Congress patted itself on the back. Why wouldn't they? That was a big reward.

The problem is the truth. Congress sent America to the bottom of the chasm because like Homer, we're lying battered and bruised at the bottom. Why? Well, instead of cutting spending and raising revenue, which was original the point, the entire goal of the fiscal cliff, congress did the exact opposite, boosting spending and slashing revenue.

They actually increased the deficit. That is the ultimate cliff dive. The Congressional Budget Office put these numbers out. They say the deal that everybody celebrated will actually increase deficits by nearly $4 trillion over the next decade.

That's because by extending the Bush tax cuts for families who earn less than $450,000 a year, the deal cut revenue. Money that would have paid in taxes by $3.64 trillion and on top of that, it increased other spending by an additional $332 billion.

That deal was really just a small Band-Aid on America's battered body. All it did was kick the can for two months on the automatic spending cuts that were set to go into effect today. The truth is, Congress didn't have the courage to deal with the problem now.

And they left us sitting at the bottom of the precipice, but only they can get this country out. The problem is if the deal that they just did is the best they could do. On the last day of a lame duck session when a lot of people didn't have to worry about re-election, where the deadline the entire world was watching and judging them on, how can we expect them to solve the problem miraculously in two months at a new cliff deadline?

After all, they've already had a lot of chances. You know, when you look back at this, it's pretty amazing. There was a debt ceiling in the summer of 2011. Remember that whole negotiation to try to get a grand bargain? They failed. This country got downgraded.

They had another chance with the "Super Committee," which was charged with cutting the debt. It failed and that failure led to this fiscal cliff deadline, which was supposed to be so draconian and frightening that it would force a grand bargain on taxes and entitlement promises.

We know there are a lot of smart and thoughtful people in Congress. People who know the right thing to do, might cost them re- election, and are willing to lose because of that. I believe that as an American citizen, but if this deadline didn't get them to step up, what will?

OUTFRONT tonight, Bill Gross, PIMCO is the largest mutual fund. Bill, always good to see you. You know --


BURNETT: It's sort of a depressing situation in a sense, right. You look at the -- it's kicking the can down the road essentially for two months. We got another cliff coming. We got the whole debt ceiling debate coming again. How dangerous is the current situation?

GROSS: Well, I think it's very dangerous. You just mentioned that the point in time where we have a debt ceiling, the government also has to have what they call a continuing budget resolution. They need to fix the sequester, which they didn't fix.

So they have three data points in the next two months in which something has to be done. We've seen what happens in this particular case over a long weekend. So it's a dangerous situation and I perhaps not like Homer Simpson, I don't want to say do.

But it's fair to say that taxes on all Americans have gone up here over the past few days. I mean, the average American wage earner earning $50,000 a year will pay $1,000 more in taxes over the next 12 months, so not only have they not reduced spending, but they've increased taxes for basically 100 percent of Americans.

BURNETT: Which is something obviously people -- you know, this isn't the time to do that. You may need to do that when the economy's stronger, but perhaps not yet. But Bill, how do we get to the -- you know, we've talked about how "Super Committee," right, they are going to cut $4 trillion.

Simpson-Bowles said $4 trillion, all of that being a down payment on the much bigger problem that we face, which you've pointed out. The IMF has pointed out. It's a $16 trillion problem in this country. We can't even get a deal now that cuts anything. We've actually increased the deficit.

GROSS: We did that and as well, Erin, which hasn't been publicized. They continued $75,000 billion worth of tax breaks for TV and film, for, you know, basically Puerto Rican rum companies and for you know, other wind farm et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

The congress is in a gift giving mode and not in a reducing spending mode, which they need to do. You point out a number of the trillion dollars that they have to reduce. You know, they've basically raised $100 billion worth of taxes here on an annual basis.

We think they have to reduce spending by two to three hundred billion dollars a year. It's a fairly pathetic situation in which the American public is having less and less faith in terms of their ability to act.

BURNETT: And I guess the question is what about people like you and your faith because as long as you still have faith, you buy American bonds, this country can still borrow for basically nothing and that enables Congress to keep spending money and saying there's no problem.

Don't worry about downgrades, but at some point, people like you are going to say America may not pay us back. We can't necessarily trust America. I'm going to charge you a much higher interest rate. That could crush this country. Will that day ever come?

GROSS: Well, I think it's inevitable. At this point, to be fair, the Federal Reserve is buying about 80 percent of all treasuries that are issued. They're writing checks for a trillion dollars worth of fed purchases to fund the Treasury, but at some point, you know, investors and Federal Reserve will run out of check writing room. Inflation will increase and the deficit will just sink us down in terms of an economy.

BURNETT: Steven Englander at Citigroup said that the situation, the whole process that we just went through, which was, as you said, pathetic. It was so chaotic and the outcome so unsatisfactory that we're likely to see a further U.S. downgrade at some point.

Again, I caveat it with the U.S. got downgraded and the interest rates haven't risen. But maybe that's because the rest of the world is even worse off than the U.S. right now and being relatively good is not being absolutely strong.

So what's the likelihood you think that the United States gets downgraded again and in a way that could really affect all of us?

GROSS: Well, you know, Erin, agencies have stated that they would the firm ratings of negotiations lead to policies, which lower the debt to GDP ratios. It's a little technical and clearly, they have not. We have not seen that over the weekend.

But I wouldn't expect the agencies to do, to hold things here. I mean, they've proven in the past to do the bidding of clients and governments as opposed to investors, but the important thing is that investors should wise up before the agencies wise up.

You know, perhaps a few years down the road. The situation is definitely deteriorating and the happy, good feelings that Homer Simpson expresses, you know, in your opening cartoon, basically are something to be concerned about.

BURNETT: All right, Bill Gross, thank you very much. We appreciate your time, as Bill said, a pathetic situation and one that must be remedied.

OUTFRONT next, the Chris Christie storm over sandy relief. He took a direct and ferocious stab at John Boehner. That's one reason some are calling for Boehner to lose his speaker's job tomorrow, the showdown.

And the development in the health condition of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.


BURNETT: Our second story OUTFRONT, caving. House Speaker John Boehner in an abrupt about face announced today he's going to hold a vote Friday on a bill that will provide relief for Sandy victims.

Now this is after he allowed Congress to adjourn last night without voting on an aid package, which everyone expected they would do. It shocked many and led to a public smack down by fellow Republicans.


GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: In our hour of desperate need, we've been left waiting for help six times longer than the victims of Katrina with no end in sight. Americans are tired of the palace intrigue and political partisanship of this Congress, which places one ups man ship ahead of the lives of these citizens who sent these people to Washington, D.C. in the first place.

New Jerseyians and New Yorkers are tired of being treated like second class citizens. New York deserves better than the selfishness we saw displayed last night. New Jersey deserves better than the duplicity we saw on display last night. America deserves better than just another example of a government that has forgotten who they're there to serve and why.

Sixty six days and counting, shame on you, shame on Congress, disaster relief was something that you didn't play games with. But now in the current atmosphere, everything is the subject of one ups man ship. Everything is a possibility, a potential piece of bait for the political game and it's just -- it is why the American people hate Congress. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Republican Congressman Peter King of New York said that John Boehner's action was like a knife in the back and had threatened not to vote for him for speaker again.


REPRESENTATIVE PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: What was most galling about this is that within 10 days of Katrina, we gladly voted $60 billion and went over 100 billion ultimately. It's now nine weeks since Sandy struck Long Island and New York, New Jersey and we have not gotten a penny from the United States Congress and we play by the rules.


BURNETT: New Jersey and New York were among the hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy. The hardest hit and of course, they are states to send the lot more to Washington than they get back.

OUTFRONT tonight, Democratic Congressman Gregory Meeks of New York. He represents a district that suffered some of the most damage and continues to struggle. A lot of people below the poverty line and aren't able to have that big megaphone and ask for what they need.

The speaker says now he's going to schedule a vote on Friday for about $9 billion in flood insurance and then on the 15th of January, so another ten days away or 13 days away, is going to have another $51 billion. Is this good enough for you?

REPRESENTATIVE GREGORY MEEKS (D), NEW YORK: You know, I'm nervous because we thought we had a deal last night. We were fully expecting to vote on that today. We don't want the rules to change, going to have a new Congress now. We thought this would have been done in the 112th. Now it goes over to the 113th.

So I hope the speaker will be able to deliver the votes that we knew that we had last night so that the package will pass. So we know we do the $9 billion tomorrow and then that will lead with -- in the bill, we got the bill for the additional $18 billion for the 27 and then an amendment for another 33 billion, all of which will be done if the speaker keep his word, on the 15th of January.

BURNETT: All right, let's play devil's advocate here because I know everyone's been criticizing John Boehner, don't play politics with disaster relief as Chris Christie just said. But it's not just disaster relief, that's always the problem.

Part of what America hates about Congress is when disaster relief comes along it's an opportunity to stick all sorts of other junk for lack of a better word into a bill. So they had into the $60 billion aid package that went through the Senate that would have helped on Sandy.

A $150 million for fisheries in Alaska was included, $41 million for bases in Guantanamo and $2 million to repair loose damage on Smithsonian Institution buildings in Washington that predates the storm. OK, not huge amounts of the scheme of America, but why is that in this bill?

MEEKS: It wasn't in this bill and that's what was disheartening and that's why my colleagues, Peter King and Michael Grimm worked so hard. The speaker had said that there were certain things that were in the Senate bill.

And it was taken out of the House bill, so those items are not in the house bill. The mayor, the governors, both Christie and Cuomo came and made sure, they itemized everything and those items were not included in the House bill.

BURNETT: All right, so those items are taken out. So that's one good thing, but then what about the overall question. We're in an environment where a fiscal cliff deal comes along and nobody's really thrilled about what they got, but we did get something that increases deficits. So people who want cuts and spending say, well, then how can we go no matter how good the cause and spend another $60 billion.

MEEKS: Emergency disaster funding had always been different. We are Americans and when Americans are in trouble because of a national disaster, we come to one another's aids. What we were concerned about, Democrats and Republicans, individuals from New York, Connecticut, New Jersey.

But we also had colleagues come from around the country, is that why change the standards now because the standards have been the same. That's what we're asking for is the same fairness. When Katrina happened, let's do it within ten days, $60 billion was there.

When there's a small town, where there's a tornado or some other national disaster, we say let's do it because that's what makes America different. And here, we have now --

BURNETT: Sixty six days.

MEEKS: Sixty six days and counting, individuals still without power, out of their homes. Individuals who are still suffering from this storm and it seems as though the rules are trying to change. The speaker did not allow a vote on the floor when we thought we had an agreement. So my -- and I think that's why you saw the unanimous between Democrats and Republicans.

BURNETT: Yes, you and Michael Grimm.

MEEKS: Because when you go and talk to the people in my district as you have, and you look into their eyes, and you can see their hurt. And that's why in my state on the floor today, I was asking the speaker to walk with me. Come talk to these people as Mr. Hoyer.

Come walk with Michael Grimm or Peter King or Governor Cuomo or Governor Christie and you'll see and talk to these people and you'll know you're not talking to a Democrat. You're talking to a Republican, you're talking to an American and that's what's important. And we should kick aside all of the political gains that we play in Washington, D.C. when it comes time for disaster to help our American citizens.

BURNETT: All right, well, thank you very much, Congressman Meeks. And still to come, two New Yorkers in a very trendy area of the city, wealthy, well educated, every pedigree you could possibly imagine, arrested for possessing what police say is a terrorist encyclopedia.

And President Obama says he won't tolerate a debate over the debt ceiling, really?


BURNETT: Our third story, OUTFRONT, the terrorist encyclopedia. That document among bomb related materials police say belonged to a young couple living in a high-end apartment in New York City's trendy Greenwich Village.

The couple, 31-year-old Aaron Greene and 27-year-old Morgan Gliedman, are in police custody. They've been charged with felony possession of an explosive with intent to use and felony criminal possession of a weapon. Susan Candiotti is OUTFRONT with their story.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's not the kind of activity you would expect in an apartment in a posh section of Manhattan, but when police raided the home of Aaron Greene and Morgan Gliedman in Greenwich Village, they found explosive material called HMTD and chemicals used to make it, along with two shotguns and a flare gun and high capacity magazines.

RAY KELLY, NEW YORK POLICE COMMISSIONER: The HMTD is extremely dangerous, and that's why the building was evacuated and surrounding buildings as well were certainly put on notice because of the ability of this to just go off at any given time.

CANDIOTTI: As shocking the suspects come from successful families. Aaron Greene's father is a successful business owner and Morgan Gliedman's dad is a well known doctor who owns the building where the two lived rent free.

Gliedman's mom is a high-end realtor. Greene's lawyer declined to comment. A law enforcement source says the two met in rehab and that her family believes Greene was the instigator.

(on camera): What appears to have been going on in that apartment?

KELLY: Well, we are still trying to determine precisely what was going on, but obviously the biggest cause for concern was the explosive.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): HMTD is a signature al Qaeda bomb-making material. It was used successfully in the 2005 London subway bombing attack. Convicted New York City subway plotter (inaudible) tried to use it, but had trouble making it.

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's a highly unstable bomb-making element that it's so unstable that terrorists steer away from it because it's very difficult to transport and to handle and can easily go off.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): Police were turned on to the suspects by a tip. The alleged bomb makers here in Washington Square Park invited a couple over to their apartment nearby to use the showers, and that's when suspect Aaron Greene allegedly showed off the weapons and even blew up a small amount of explosives right there in the apartment.

(voice-over): Law enforcement sources say the incident happened six weeks ago and authorities suspect the tipster might have been moved to call the police after the Newtown school shooting.

(on camera): Did they have a beef against anyone, against the government or any writings? What are you trying to find out about them?

KELLY: Well, we're trying to identify precisely what you said. Was there a target? Was there a cause that they were adhering to, and what was the objective or the goal of having all of this information and this weaponry?


BURNETT: The story certainly seems very bizarre. When you look at these two people, 27 and 31 years old, did either of them have a criminal background? Just come out of the blue?

CANDIOTTI: Well, not as far as we know in terms of the young woman in this case. Now, the young man has four prior convictions even spent a year in jail back in 2005 on an assault charge. Now, law enforcement sources tell us that they met in rehab. She was treated in there for being treated for alcoholism. He was being treated for heroin use. Where it went from there, they're still trying to piece it all together.

BURNETT: They are still trying to figure out what their cause was and what they might have been targeting.

CANDIOTTI: What was it all about? They haven't yet entered a plea just yet. She's still in the hospital because she just gave birth the other day to a baby.

BURNETT: Which is one of the most bizarre parts about the story. All right, well, thanks very much, Susan. Keep following the story since it is very strange and also very frightening.

OUTFRONT next, many Republicans broke ranks with the speaker of the House last night. They voted against the fiscal cliff deal. It was a pretty overwhelming repudiation of him. So, does that mean he's going to be speaker anymore? And new information about Hillary Clinton tonight.


BURNETT: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT.

We start with stories we're watching tonight:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has just been released from a New York City hospital. She had been being treated for a blood clot located between her brain and her skull. According to the State Department, doctors expect her to make a full recovery.

You know, she was actually seen out of the hospital today. Former President Bill Clinton and daughter, Chelsea, were by her side.

And earlier today, a spokesperson said Clinton was active on the phone, speaking with aides and even foreign officials from her hospital room.

The United Nations came out with a stunning number today, estimating that the death toll in Syria has passed 60,000 people since the uprising began just over 18 months ago. Now, just to put this in perspective, 60,000 is a lot of people. Every one of them a human life and it is 15,000 more lives lost than CNN previously estimated, a huge increase in the estimated loss of life.

The U.N. high commissioner for human rights said collectively, we have fiddled at the edges while Syria burns.

Well, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett plans to file a lawsuit against the NCAA. He has the organization had no authority to bring sanctions against Penn State following the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. The NCAA levied heavy sanctions against the university, including a $60 million fine. Corbett says instead of punishing Sandusky, the sanctions actually are hurting current students.

But the NCAA fired back, saying the lawsuit lacks merit and called it an affront to all of Sandusky's victims.

Well, we got a rare glimpse today of Ri Sol-ju. Who is she? Well, she's the wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. This is a picture of them over the holidays. You can see her there in the purple sort of eggplant suit. North Korean television says Ri accompanied her husband to a New Year's concert.

Ri had rarely been seen in public in recent months. There had been rumors she was pregnant or had fallen out of favor with North Korean leaders. She apparently tends to wear bright colors, very pretty to look at, and apparently couldn't (INAUDIBLE) to some. We shall see.

It has been 517 days since the United States lost its top credit rating. The fiscal cliff deal likely will not help. Despite dodging the cliff technically, the problem is deficits increase with the deal and ratings agency Moody's reiterated today a downgrade from them is on horizon if Congress does not come up with a long-term debt reduction plan.

And that brings us to our fourth story OUTFRONT: speaker in the hot seat. A message loud and clear to John Boehner this week: do not take your party's support for granted. One hundred fifty-one Republicans, 151, broke ranks with Boehner and voted against the fiscal cliff deal.

Those Republicans include some very powerful figures. Majority Leader Eric Cantor, he Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, second and third highest ranking Republicans in the House among them.

A new Congress is sworn in tomorrow, so Boehner faces a crucial vote, whether he gets to continue to be the speaker of the House. Will there be a revolt against him or despite some very public failures and the fact that he wasn't even at the center of this whole debt deal itself, will he just sail into the speakership anyway?

Dana Bash is our senior congressional correspondent.

And, Dana, this is a pretty, you know, amazing story. I mean, there's been a real repudiation of John Boehner. But how is this vote going to go?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, what's so interesting is people may not realize that the speaker of the House is elected by the entire House, not just his or her party. So there will be a vote on the House floor tomorrow and what is going to be really fascinating to watch, Erin, is how the vote goes because the difference between Republicans and Democrats, if you do the math, if all Democrats voted against him, then he will -- all any opponent would need to do is get 17 Republicans to vote against him and what then happens is he doesn't get the majority and they take another vote and if he doesn't get the majority, they take another vote.

And it doesn't necessarily mean at the end of the day, he won't be speaker. But it certainly would weaken him.

I can also tell you it is certainly the buzz here in the hallways in a big way, that question -- whether or not he is going to, and whether or not that is going to happen, and whether or not there is any kind of quiet move among some of the rank-and-file Republicans who are dissatisfied with him to try to do that, to try to weaken him, at least symbolically, to vote against him. I have had some quiet conversations with some Republicans who have said that they have not decided if they're going to vote for him. They have said they are not satisfied with his leadership.

Having said that, the vast majority say that they are satisfied with his leadership, and it was a very telling moment that the speaker's spokesman people came out of a meeting going on right now. it's a procedural meeting that the Republicans are having. They came -- excuse me, they came out to make sure to tell reporters that they believe they're confident that the speaker will be re-elected by the House tomorrow. BURNETT: All right. When we talk about John Boehner, everyone will say, well, if there is a quiet revolt, if there is some sort of, you know, despite the repudiation of his leadership, it's still expected that he's going to remain speaker. The question is, who would the alternative be?

And, of course, everyone's been thinking about Eric Cantor, right? Who came out and vocally said, I don't support this deal, and 151 people, Republicans went along with him.

So is Eric Cantor someone who possibly his name could come up here?

BASH: He has been very careful, as have his aides, to say that he supports the speaker, he will vote for him tomorrow. And that he is -- no Cantor coup in the works.

BURNETT: Cantor coup.

BASH: And the truth is that, Erin, that if f in fact there is something that shakes up the leadership, the thinking is that Cantor could go down with it. Would go down with the leadership ship because those who would want a change would want a sea change and that it's hard to see Cantor staying there.

You know, stranger things have happened. But it's hard to see that.

But you really raise a good point that all this talk about will the speaker stay in his job, well, you have to have a speaker. So, the question is, if not Boehner, who? And that is another discussion that I'm having privately with a lot of Republicans, even tonight in the hallways here is that, you know, they just don't see who would be the person to replace him, who would be the guy who would be out there.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Dana, thank you very much. Obviously, dissatisfaction. But the question is, who could be better? Who will back Boehner and who won't? This could be a crucial showdown tomorrow.

And OUTFRONT tonight, someone who's going to make the decision, Republican Congressman James Lankford of Oklahoma.

All right. Well, good to see you, sir.


BURNETT: New Congress is sworn in tomorrow. You're going to be the chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee. You'll be the fifth ranking Republican in the House. You are in leadership.

But as you just heard Dana lay out, John Boehner could lose the speakership just because of the way the math works. If just 17 Republicans vote against him. Do you support John Boehner? LANKFORD: I do, actually. I just walked out of that meeting she just referenced saying it was an internal procedure. It was setting up the rules for the House starting for the 113th House. There was actually no conversation at all of any type about a lack of support for John Boehner.

BURNETT: So, let me just understand why that is though, because in the recent key moments of leadership, John Boehner has not been able to deliver, right? There was the Plan B right before Christmas. That he was going to put out and couldn't even get back to the floor for his own party, and then in the fiscal cliff deal, he was the guy doing the negotiating and wasn't able to get it down. And Senator McConnell had to step in and do it.

So, if John Boehner couldn't get that done, why is he going to be speaker?

LANKFORD: Well, here's the challenge of it. The House actually passed sequestration documents in May and we passed our tax documents in August and then we went to the process. The mistake that was made, and Speaker Boehner has even mentioned, is saying, we're waiting on the Senate to respond. He shouldn't have done face to face negotiations, get this out of what we call regular order.

The best way to accomplish a piece of legislation is the House to pass something, the Senate to pass something, and then we work on a compromise together between the two. That breaks down when the speaker goes and begins to meet with president, or some on the negotiations, or quite frankly, when you get down to the last 36 hours, you're trying to cram something in.

It's much better to be able to push it and the speaker has come up publicly and said, I'm going to focus on trying to get us back to regular order and stop these face to face negotiations that are outside of our normal system.

BURNETT: One of the things, though, that makes a speaker credible and powerful and able to push forward your party's agenda is all of you, the other leadership, the rank and file falling behind him at tough moments. The fiscal cliff bill that was just put out, you said you support John Boehner, but you voted against that bill that you brought to the floor. So, in a sense, people like you are the ones eroding his leadership.

LANKFORD: Here's the difference between Speaker Boehner and other speakers that have been there in the past. He doesn't demand absolutely unanimity behind him. He starts with, you represent your district. You have to vote your district, you have to represent your district, you have to do that that in the best wisdom that you have coming out of your district.

He doesn't demand unanimity behind him. He demands we represent the people that elected us, and then come here and let's get things done. Some people, that completely throws them off and they want to see this strong leader that demands everyone follow behind him. He's comfortable enough to be able to say, I didn't elect you, the people at home elected you and you represent them.

BURNETT: Part of the problem with that, I mean, you as an elected leader must experience this all the time. If you just did what your constituent wanted, you know, sometimes constituents, people like me were like kids, right? We want candy, we want tax cuts. We want more spending. That's what we want.

That's what the fiscal cliff bill does. I know you voted against it.


BURNETT: But isn't the whole point that sometimes as a member of Congress, you don't necessarily vote for what your constituents want, you vote for what you think is best for the country?

LANKFORD: That is correct. But it's still going to be based on the wisdom that's coming out of our own district. You're still going to listen to, not just the advice coming out of your district, but the collective common sense of that as well. You should do your research.

I should know more about the bill than anyone back home. I have more access to more data and more information here than people back home do. But at the end of the day, I still represent what's going on at home.

But you're right, that demands real leader. There are going to be times that I have taken votes that have taken a lot of heat back home for how I took that vote, but in reality, I knew more about what was going there because I was able to get more data here than I was there.

BURNETT: All right.

LANKFORD: Again, speaker's comfortable with that and that's a wise leader I think.

BURNETT: Congressman, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

LANKFORD: Thank you.

BURNETT: And, of course, that vote tomorrow for John Boehner.

OUTFRONT next, a girl in Brazil put her virginity up for sale. Our Shasta Darlington talked to her and asked her why.

And with the fiscal cliff, well, technically averted, although you know our point of view. We're lying at the bottom. President Obama has adopted a tough tone over the next fight. Is that a mistake?


BURNETT: We're back with tonight's "Outer Circle" where we reach out to our sources around the world. And tonight, we begin in Brazil where a young woman has decided to sell her virginity to the highest bidder.

Shasta Darlington is following the story from Sao Paolo, and I asked her why.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, a Brazilian high school student has put her virginity up for sale. Eighteen-year-old Rebecca Bernardo said she did it out of desperation. She made a video, she posted it on YouTube, hoping to raise enough money to help her invalid mother. But the inspiration came from another Brazilian woman, Catarina Migliorini, whose offer to sell her virginity through an Australian Web site, brought a lot of publicity and lucrative modeling contracts.

Now, in the case of Rebecca Bernardo, she said she made the decision after her mother suffered a stroke. That stroke left her confined to the bed. She can't eat alone or go to the bathroom alone. But the video set off a firestorm around Brazil and especially in Sapeacu. The reaction in many cases was hostile.

Now, Rebecca Bernardo said she wants enough money not only to care for her mother, but to start a new life in a new town, Erin.


BURNETT: Thanks very much to Shasta. A horrible story.

And now, we go to northern Nigeria, which is where the country's military has killed 13 suspected members of Boko Haram. It's a militant Islamic organization that has some ties or links to al Qaeda. It happened after the group slaughtered several dozen people in the region over the past two weeks.

David McKenzie has been covering the story and I asked him who was killed.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Since Christmas Eve, the violence in northern Nigeria has been brutal -- more than 50 dead, 27 of them Christian worshippers at church services. Many gunned down by militants, their churches burned, some their throats slit and Nigerian government officials.

The group blamed is Boko Haram, a militant Islamic group that wants to install strict Sharia law in northern Nigeria, the Muslim- dominated half of Africa's most populous nation.

Recently, the group's leaders have expressed solidarity with al Qaeda in the Maghreb. Rights groups like Amnesty International say the government's response is dominated by extrajudicial killings and corruptions, and has only worked to inflame further revenge attacks -- a charge the government denies.

Ultimately, negotiations to longstanding grievances on both sides could be only long-term solution. But right now, violence seems to be speaking louder than any words.


BURNETT: And now, let's check in with Ashleigh Banfield with a look at what's coming up on "A.C. 360".

Hi, Ashleigh.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, Erin. Thank you.

You know, we're keeping them honest ahead on "360". It is the vote that the House didn't hold last night that has lawmakers from both parties outraged. There's really no other word for it. Superstorm Sandy inflicted tens of billions of dollars in damage to states along the East Coast, and it seems like relief for this kind of disaster and all the suffering inflicted by it would be above politics -- it would seem.

Well, it was, yes, sure, with the lawmakers all along promising to get it done until they didn't get it done and then just went home. No vote. No money.

Dana Bash is going to join me from Capitol Hill with all of the finger-pointing and the yelling and the screaming and how Congress is now scrambling to get a grip on it, fix it.

And the survivors also of Sandy Hook, they're going to head back to school tomorrow. We're going to have that story for you. Gary Tuchman is going to tell us what the students and teachers are going to be facing as those classes resume nearly three weeks after that deadly attack.

We'll have those stories, as well as an interview with a state lawmaker who took a shot at a much celebrated holiday with a press release, are you ready -- why must we still hear about kwanza? We'll explain and we'll talk to him.

And we're going to count down the top "Ridiculist," I know you love them, Erin.


BANFIELD: The top "Ridiculist" of 2012, tonight, it's number three. All of these coming up at the top of the hour.

BURNETT: It's like Casey Kasem. All right. Thanks very much.

BANFIELD: Just a little different.

BURNETT: All right. Our fifth story OUTFRONT: President Obama talking tough in a very serious and aggressive way. It would put a Mafioso to shame because while we're waiting for the president to sign the fiscal cliff bill into law, he has drawn a line in the sand for what will be a very ugly and brutish battle over the debt ceiling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: While I will negotiate over many things, I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills they've already racked up through the laws that they passed.


BURNETT: Now, he's totally right. Congress has already spent the money it's not going pay back.

But that's not the point. The point is: can he just say, I'm not going to negotiate on it?

Is it more rhetoric than reality?

OUTFRONT tonight: CNN contributor Reihan Salam, also writes for "The National Review," political analyst Roland Martin, and John Avlon, columnist at "Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast'.

All right. Roland, we've heard these kinds of promises before from the president. He gets very angry about certain things and says he's just not going to do it. Here he is on the Bush tax cuts that he said we would -- $250,000, that's the limit. Here he is.


OBAMA: I'm not going to ask students and seniors and middle class families to pay down the entire deficit while people like me making over $250,000 aren't asked to pay a dime more in taxes. I'm not going to do that.

Congress can pass a law that would prevent a tax hike on the first $250,000 of everybody's income -- everybody.


BURNETT: All right. So, Roland, you heard that. He said, I'm not going to do that, $250,000 was the limit. He is doing it. He's doing it at $450,000. I'm simply saying you can't say you're not going to negotiate on something that you're going to have to negotiate on, right?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, actually you can. It's called negotiating position. And we see it all the time.

I mean, how many times have you had people, when it comes to negotiating personal contract say, "I'm not going to take less than this," and then they actually do? And so, that's what negotiation is all about.

The whole point in having a hard stance is to for the opposition to come down on theirs. Remember, Speaker Boehner put out a proposal saying taxes on a million dollars. Even his own party rejected that, they have no choice but to accept what took place yesterday.

This is what you do in negotiations. You take a hard line. And, then, of course, you typically are going to soften it when you get a compromise.

BURNETT: All right. The problem is, Reihan, that now the president has come out and said, and, you know, chastised congress I would say appropriately. I mean, guys, you can't spent the money and say you don't want to pay it back. But said to them, I'm not going to negotiate on it.

Is this just going to embolden them to even nastier and make it an even a bigger thing?

REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think part of the issue is that when you look at the most of the Republican members of the House, they're coming from safe districts. And so, they are really keeping their potential primary challengers and that's what emboldens them. Because they know that what they really have to answer to, they really have to answer to conservative primary voters.

There's another tension however. When you look at President Obama seeming to cave on that $250,000 number, the thing to keep in mind a successful political coalition creates problems as well as opportunities. When Barack Obama does really well with those upper middle class voters in the suburbs, that also means you have a lot more tax sensitive voters than you do otherwise. And so, that creates tensions for him as well. He's been saying that, hey, I'm going get more tax increases if I'm going to accept any spending cuts this time around.

But the trouble is that there are a lot of Democrats who are quite happy with that $400,000 line as well. So, I think that this is going to complicate negotiations, these fractures among Democrats as well as the hard position of Republicans.

BURNETT: Smart position that he took or not?

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think it's a tough position. Look, I mean, every compromise is not a cave. But in this specific instance --


AVLON: -- I mean, the president is telegraphing something specific saying he won't negotiate around the debt ceiling. Now, you said in the outset, Erin, look, the debt ceiling is going to come due. And we already know that a lot of Republicans are fully intending to use that as leverage to try to force a grand bargain.


AVLON: But what the president is saying, I think, and he's saying very clearly, is he's made a political calculation out of the White House that if Republicans want to unilaterally try to hold the nation's full faith and credit in hostage and take us over the debt limit and have us default, then they will have to own that politically.

And I think as president, he's not only reflecting the lessons he learned from his first term, Erin. I think he's trying to do something also. He's trying to say, look --

MARTIN: Hey, Erin.

AVLON: Hold on, Roland. I think he's also trying to make a very important point, which is that that is a bad precedent. What we went through 500 days ago, that led to the downgrading of AAA, that that was a dangerous precedent for the United States and he needs to -- he wants to send a message out that will delink (ph) forward because we can't proceed that way any further.

BURNETT: Roland?

MARTIN: If you go back to what happened last time, they were late in the game in using even President Ronald Reagan's own words when it came to the debt ceiling. I think you're going to see a lot more aggressive tact.

What the president has done, he basically with the fiscal cliff said, no, we're only dealing with tax. With the debt ceiling he's saying we're only dealing with the debt ceiling. If you want to have a debate when it comes to cuts then we'll deal with that when it comes to sequestration.

So, that important piece in the fiscal cliff deal the 60-day pushing out that's what he has done. The Republicans have wanted spending cuts to be part of fiscal cliff and debt ceiling and sequestration. He's saying no. Put them in one area.

It's a smart tactical move. We'll see if he's able to keep them at bay.

SALAM: I just want to remind people that President Obama when he was Senator Obama voted against raising the debt limit as well. Opposition parties --


SALAM: -- use the limited leverage they have and Barack Obama recognized that in the past and now that he's on the other side of the negotiating table, he thinks that should be taken off the table. And that's fair enough.

The thing is that this is connected to the sequester deal as well. And so, President Obama needs goodwill from Republicans if he's going actually get movement on the sequester as well. So, these things are not going to be that easily separated.

AVLON: But the key is that it's incumbent upon the president to actually move a grand bargain forward to show, follow through on his rhetoric about entitlement reform. He'll be able to delink them effectively. He's going to have to be aggressive and work with them and offer real entitlement reform to avoid this.

BURNETT: Right. Because practically delinking them doesn't make any sense, right? That feeling is, they are just coming to you right around at the same time and they are the same issue. AVLON: That's right. So, he's going to have to reach out early and aggressively to get a grand bargain, otherwise, we are going to have that game of chicken. And, Erin, you know what happened the last time. We got downgraded, the whole nation got hurt.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to all three of you.

And OUTFRONT next: 100 luxury cars and $12 million in prizes. It could all be yours if you have the right camel.


BURNETT: There's a reason I came back from vacation on Wednesday, it's hump day -- obviously, the perfect day for a camel report. And what a report it is.

After 15 straight days of festivals, celebrations and nail biting competitions, Abu Dhabi's Al Dhafra Festival has come to a close.

Now, it was the sixth annual event. It also features dog races. You saw a falcon, date packing, and falconry.

But the camel beauty pageant is unquestionably the crown jewel event. I mean, look at them. They are wearing crowns.

Now, with over 1,500 camel drivers and 25,000 camels in attendance, this was the biggest event ever. It might sound silly to some, but this is very serious business. The judges at the competition are some of the top camel experts in the world, and before the competition can begin, every trainer must take an oath on the Koran. To make sure there's no cheating.

There's also a very strict scoring system in place that awards points. The head is 25 points. The front, 15. The back, 10. The hump, 25. It should be even more. It all comes down to a hump, doesn't it?

Still not convinced? Maybe the prize money will sway you. Up for grabs this year was 47 Dirhams. That's about $12 million. And on top of that, 100 luxury automobiles.

So, before you laugh off this beauty contest update, you might want to think about it: millions in cash and prizes sure nothing to spit at.

"A.C. 360" starts now.