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Theater's Remembrance "Disgusts" Families; Obama Signs Off on Fiscal Deal; New Congress Opens At Noon ET; Weekly Jobless Claims Inch Up; Fiscal Deal Fallout; Hillary Clinton out of Hospital; Starbucks to Sell Reusable Cups; Chill Grips Northeast; GM Sales Up 5 Percent In December

Aired January 3, 2013 - 10:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour. Happening now in the NEWSROOM. It's supposed to be a healing moment for families of the victims of the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting. Learn why they are now calling a planned evening of remembrance disgusting.

A new session of the House, a new challenge for the man in charge. Can Speaker John Boehner keep his job after the debacle over aid for Superstorm Sandy?

Plus your money, your taxes, new concern this morning over when you can expect your tax refund from Uncle Sam. The CNN Money team is on it. And this --


UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: He said touching that pole, but it's really not.


BLACKWELL: It's really not. And move over, Erin Andrews, a 3-year- old football fan may be around your job. NEWSROOM starts right now.

Good morning. I'm Victor Blackwell in for Carol Costello. It's been more than five months since a gunman opened fire inside a crowded Colorado movie theater. In just two weeks, that complex in Aurora will reopen.

Twelve people were killed in July, 58 were injured. Cinemark, the theater owner, invited those families to a special evening of remembrance, a chance to visit the theater and see a show, but that offer has upset a lot of families.

Their response, "They sent us this invite two days after Christmas. How insensitive can you possibly be? They never even offered condolences. We will not be used as pawn to help them with ticket sales. The offer of a free ticket for a family member and a guest is despicable. Our family members paid for their ticket with their lives." Listen to one family member.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JESSICA WATTS, COUSING OF SHOOTING VICTIM JONATHAN BLUNK: That is a blatant lack of respect for the families. They're looking to boost their own ticket sales for the reopening to the public.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the expense --

WATTS: At the experience of 12 families who are heartbroken at a loss.


BLACKWELL: Jim Spellman joins us live from Denver. Jim, a lot of these families are not only unhappy with this, but they're planning to boycott the event and the theater company.

JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, not only that particular theater in Aurora, but all of the Cinemark theaters. They just say it's too insensitive to the families the way they've handled this. Most of the people in this group that have informed of family members say they wanted that theater torn down, they did not want this going on and being an entity.

Now what the city of Aurora did was they had a question on their Facebook page asking people what they wanted to do with it. Overwhelmingly people said reopen it. That's exactly what they are doing. But these family members, a lot of them will be involved in a lawsuit against the theater. They say it's not the right way to go.

However, not all family members agree. One family member was tweeting don't boycott it, go, let it serve as a reminder to live your life every day as a remembrance. You can only imagine, Victor, how painful it is for these families to have to navigate all of these five months after their loved ones were killed.

BLACKWELL: Yes, when you have 12 people who were killed, 58 injured, I'm sure you have a mix of opinions and feelings. Will any of the victims' families be at this preliminary hearing next week?

SPELLMAN: Yes, a lot of them are planning to go and actually that's part of the problem with this theater reopening. They say it's a 1-2 punch. All next week, we're going to have the preliminary hearing. The first time we'll hear detailed evidence about what went on that night.

And the families are being braced for that by the DA's office. Yesterday, they had a webinar when family members could log in and get briefed by the district attorney about what they would see. That's going to include 911 calls. They are going to see video from inside that very theater from the night of the shooting.

So families are preparing to go through that trauma of the preliminary hearing right after that, the theater reopening. They say it's too much. Especially, Victor, that this is opening as a commercial entity.

It's not like Columbine High School, where they changed it a bit, reopened it and it parts of this thriving community. They say the people are going to pay their 10 bucks, go and see a movie is just disrespectful to their family members.

BLACKWELL: To sit in the same seats where some of their relatives were killed. All right, Jim Spellman, thank you very much for that.

President Obama is waking up in Hawaii this morning, but he's probably basking in the glow of the fiscal cliff deal that he signed into law -- well, kind of signed. He used this device. It's an auto-pen to send his signature 4,800 miles and sign the fiscal cliff deal into law.

White House correspondent Dan Lothian is traveling with the president. He joins us from Honolulu. I say kind of signed because he wasn't there, didn't actually himself put pen to paper, but it's done.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. He was thousands of miles away and in fact, the president was out on the golf course yesterday for a big part of the day. But a senior White House official saying that they did receive the bill late yesterday afternoon.

They processed it then a copy was made. The president later reviewed that bill and then directed that the auto pen be used to sign it into law, putting an end to what everyone agrees was a very ugly battle, but the president still faces some major challenges in the coming months.

Some see this as a victory of sorts for the president, but the person who's getting a lot of praise this morning is the vice president for the role he played in getting the fiscal deal across the finish line. In fact, a couple White House aides telling me that he played a crucial role, critical role of convincing lawmakers at a time when things were not looking good.

In fact Senator Mitch McConnell has talked about the vice president's role, talking about the good faith negotiations, referring to him as a dance partner. So it will be interesting to see the role that the vice president continues to play as the president deals with some over big issues in the coming months.

The debt ceiling, trying to tackle gun violence, immigration reform to see if the vice president will use all of his years in the Senate in twisting the arm of lawmakers who might be skeptical about what the president is pushing.

BLACKWELL: Dan Lothian in Honolulu for us, thank you, sir.

We're less than two hours from the start of a new session of Congress. Lawmakers both old and new face some daunting challenges. Dan just detailed a few of them. Negotiating the debt ceiling, identifying painful spending cuts and confronting the bipartisan anger aimed at a heavy-handed speaker of the House.

Senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash is on Capitol Hill. John Boehner ignited this fir firestorm within his own party by delaying the House vote on aid for Superstorm Sandy victims. Will he be re- elected today?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, that was just one of the things that's angered some of the conservatives in his own caucus. The other is what happened the night before on Thursday night, which is the fact that the House passed this fiscal cliff package and only 85 Republicans voted for it.

The vast majority of his caucus voted against it because they felt that there wasn't enough -- it didn't deal with spending cuts and it effectively raise taxes so to answer your question, the answer seems to be, yes, he is very, very likely to win another term as the House speaker.

Of course, the speaker of the House is the speaker of the entire House. So what happens is once the House -- the new session starts they go through series of -- one thing I will tell you is there is 201 Democrats, more than the last time around, there only needs to be, Victor, 17 in his caucus, 17 House Republicans to vote no to make a symbolic -- effectually slap him in the face symbolically.

What would happen then is they would take vote after vote until there is a majority for the speaker. But the Congressional Research Service says that since 1913, that's only happened once since 1923. So that's very, very rare. Don't expect that to happen.

I've been talking this morning to Republican lawmakers who maybe would be among the most likely to vote no, and they have insisted they will not do that. They are going to vote for him.

BLACKWELL: Dana Bash on Capitol Hill for us. Less than two hours until the 113th Congress. Thank you.

Here's a reminder of special programming. Wolf Blitzer will have live coverage of the opening session of the new Congress today at noon Easter.

And now a new measure of the economy, this morning, we learned that initial jobless claims inched up last week to 372,000, an increase of 10,000 from the week before. It's being felt on Wall Street, one day after its biggest day of gains in more than a year.

Here's the big board here, down just 23 points now, we're probably 40 minutes into the trading day. We'll keep an eye on Wall Street, of course.

And don't think just because the fiscal cliff deal is done, you can file your income taxes now and get that refund you've been expecting, that financial nightmare is still causing headaches for the IRS and your refund could be late.

CNN's Christine Romans joins us with the fiscal cliff fallout. So why is this going to delay the refunds, Christine?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Because they just waited too long to fix this problem. Look, the IRS isn't say what the delay will look like or how long it will be, but bottom line here is taxpayers are telling us you can't file your refund today if you wanted to.

And one CPA telling me he expects for simple returns you won't be able to file until the first week in February, more complicated returns sometime after that. Here's why there were about a dozen different provisions hanging out there until the very last moment and they just didn't know if they would be extended for 2012.

That will cause some delays with the software programming to get this all fixed up. This is what the IRS is saying -- they're currently reviewing the details of this week's tax legislation and assessing what impact it will have on this year's filing season.

They say they're going to give additional guidance, quote, "soon," about what that will means for tax preparers and for you are, but the tax preparation community saying they're ready to rock and roll, just waiting for guidance about when they'll be able to do that.

If you look at the 1040 form right now, the IRS had to pull out a few lines and put the word "reserved" in instead. For some of these tax breaks and considerations that were up in the air until the last moment. The big one was the AMT it's been patched permanently.

The CPA that we just talked to, his first client called to talk to him about this was already talking about 2013. That's when the big changes will happen especially for high income people so already kind of a lot of interest in the tax preparation community about where we're going to go from here.

The biggest losers will be those people who use the IRS' forced savings, and then they take their refund as soon as they file real early, get the refund to pay for the holiday bills. Those people will probably see a delay.

BLACKWELL: People budget around that refund.


BLACKWELL: They start paying some bills they've been holding off on for a while. Christine Romans, thank you for that.

Tea Party activists are disgusted and angry over the fiscal cliff deal.


AMY KREMER, TEA PARTY EXPRESS: There are going to be consequences. How long can we continue down this path?


BLACKWELL: Now some Tea Party-backed politicians may have to answer for that vote. You'll hear from Amy Kremer, Chairwoman of the Tea Party Express.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLACKWELL: It's 15 after the hour now. Let's check top stories. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is no longer in a New York hospital. Clinton was discharged last night shortly after a visit with her husband, former President Bill Clinton and their daughter, Chelsea. For three days, Clinton received treatment for blood clot between her skull and her brain, but she is expected to make a full recovery.

Starbucks is hoping you'll pay a little extra next time you come for a latte maybe a gingerbread latte. Starting today, the coffee chain will sell reusable plastic cups for a dollar a piece and in return customers will get a 10 cent discount when they buy a drink using that cup. The company has been criticized for the amount of trash it generates with those green and white cups. The chain has sold reusable cups before, but believes the new low price will spark customer interest.

A lot of people in the northeast are waking up to wind chills below zero this morning. High temperatures will only tap out in the 20s and 30s today. The temperatures will reach normal levels by the weekend and drop again next week.

A lot of Tea Party activists are just plain outraged that Congress approved the fiscal cliff deal. Some say they're extremely disgusted like Tea Party Express Chairwoman Amy Kremer who also said there will be consequences.

That's because some of the people that Tea Party Movement helped get elected voted to pass this deal. Like Senator Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania, Senator Ron Johnson from Wisconsin. He also backed by the Tea Party Movement back in 2010, and Congressman Paul Ryan, who was the GOP vice presidential candidate.

Earlier I spoke with Tear Party Express Chairwoman Amy Kremer about those consequences.


BLACKWELL: So you're saying that some of these representatives, these senators will be primaried. Are you going to push to get some of the people you tried to push in 2010 out, to get out? You loved Paul Ryan, do you want him out now? Are you going to push for the primaries?

KREMER: Well, you know what? Honestly I think that every person has to -- we haven't decided anything at this point, but I can tell you, I live in the state of Georgia, and Saxby Chambliss will be primaried, our own senator. It's unacceptable to have somebody that votes with the Democrats more than they do with the conservatives.

And he has proven time and time again he's all about the spending. We're a red state. We deserve a conservative senator, a conservative senator that would stand with Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Mike Lee, who all voted no for this bill.

BLACKWELL: You brought up Marco Rubio who voted against it then there's Paul Ryan who voted for it and this is becoming kind of a 2016 story line. I want to know if this vote will be to Republicans what the war vote was to the Obama and Clinton race for 2008. Do you think that line will be as bright and sharp as the war vote was?

KREMER: Well, you know, I don't know, Victor. I mean, we have 2014 to worry about. There are a number of Senate races happening, so that's what we'll be focused on.

BLACKWELL: I want to ask you one of the questions that was sent to me on Twitter because we've asked our viewers if they have a question, I'd pass it on. This is from Butch, he says ask Kremer which concessions, if any, were OK for the GOP to consider? Is she pleased with the gridlock in Congress and its effect? Should the GOP have dealt on anything?

KREMER: This is the thing. I'm not happy with the gridlock in Congress. I mean, who want to be dealing with this. I'm happy to be here and talk to you, but this is the last thing I want to be talking about. I want to be talking about a great Senator Ted Crusbian sworn in today.

But at the end of the day, this is the issue we all need to be focused on. Everything should be on the table. There's going to be a fight in two months with the debt ceiling. Look, the cuts never come. Now the sequester that was supposed to be automatic spending cuts, it's even been pushed back. When will, to get this country back on track.

BLACKWELL: Let me get back in here, Amy, because you said you didn't like the gridlock, but you didn't tell me one thing that the GOP should compromise on. So the opposite of gridlock is compromise. So give me something you are willing to compromise on as we move forward and have the discussion about cuts.

KREMER: Like I just said, I think -- all departments should be on the table. All departments should be -- I mean, the Department of Education is one of the biggest department in the federal government. I mean, let's look at where these departments are bloated.

I know that the Democrats say the Department of Defense. I'm saying to you, let's put it all out there, because at the end of the day you cannot raise enough money from taxes to cover all the spending. We do not have a revenue problem.


BLACKWELL: Thanks again to Tea Party Express Chairwoman Amy Kremer for joining us earlier this morning.

We've got more numbers from the auto industry. Let's go back to Felicia Taylor at the New York Stock Exchange. So we started with good news for Chrysler and then good news for Ford. How is the news for GM?

FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, GM actually did pretty well as well. Not as well as some of the others, but certainly they saw, you know, pretty strong numbers coming in. So we've actually seen pretty good numbers all across the board. We had Chrysler up 10 percent and Ford was up 2 percent. So it's really because there were some, you know, pent up demand, but also because, you know, we've been talking about this -- easier access to financing.

So it's been a really good month in December for the auto companies. Not such a huge surprise. We were expecting this to happen, but nevertheless, it's good news, because it means that people are willing to go out and spend money. They're feeling a bit better about their finances. Not across the board, but certainly when it comes to buying a new car, it seems like that's a benefit.

BLACKWELL: Good news for the big three. Felicia Taylor at the New York Stock Exchange, thank you. And we're back in a moment.


BLACKWELL: Before the break you heard from the chairwoman of the Tea Party Express, who is threatening backlash against GOP members who voted for the fiscal cliff deal. So what effect could this have on someone's political career?

Joining us to talk about this, CNN political analyst, Roland Martin who leans to the left and CNN contributor and Republican strategist Ana Navarro, no? You're sitting up straight now, but in some cases leaning to the left.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It depends on the issue, brother.

BLACKWELL: So we balance out. Let's start with you, Roland, I want to know, and I asked Amy Kremer this, and she didn't give me a direct answer. Will this vote be to Republicans what the Iraq funding authorization vote was to the Clinton/Obama race in 2008?

MARTIN: God, no, poor Amy. I really feel for her. She's still trying to deal with the loss of Mitt Romney to President Obama. Y ou have two other major issues. Keep in mind, the midterm election seasonal until two years away. It's not like it's in November.

You have the dead ceiling, sequestration, so you have opportunities for Republicans, including Tea Party-backed candidates to establish their ideas when it comes to cutting the budget.

So maybe Amy should remember that 98 percent of Americans kept tax cuts in place, including a lot of people in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, all red states. Tea Party folks might want to remember the 98 percent as opposed to just the 2 percent.

BLACKWELL: Ana, what do you think about this? How big is this vote for the Republicans?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I actually agree with Roland, I think we have a lot to do between now and the next elections. I think this is just the beginning of this negotiation, the beginning it was the first battle in what is a war to tackle some of these very serious issues that we're still dealing with as a country, issues like entitlement, like Social Security.

They things are coming up. The debt ceiling is coming up. I tell you this, I think this threatening of backlash to Republicans by one group or another is frankly silly. I want to elect Republicans and Democrats who go to Congress and act based on their conscience, based on their principles, who study the issues and vote according to what they think is right not because somebody or some group is threatening a back lash.

I don't want somebody acting out of fear, but acting out of conviction. That's what I would tell my republican counterparts, friends in Congress, do your job right, it's the best thing you can do towards re-election and getting a nomination.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about the rage yesterday from the interview that I did with peter king and what we saw from Governor Christie about the delaying of this Sandy aid bill. Did Speaker Boehner make a mistake here? I mean, I guess politics before getting to the policy.

MARTIN: He screwed up big time. Keep in mind, I interviewed Congresswoman Yvette Clark in the morning show. There are people in New York and New Jersey without power, folks who have mold in their homes.

People right now, earlier you talked about the temperatures being in the low teens, you know, as 10, 20 degrees. They're freezing their butts off. If you are Speaker Boehner, if you felt the Senate bill had too much pork, say it, be up-front about it.

But you don't promise to the New York or New Jersey delegation you're going to put this up for a vote and you don't do it. They should be angry, and I think he hurt himself big time, because he put partisanship over the people who are hurting in that region.

BLACKWELL: What we saw yesterday was actually the end of kind of a trend for Speaker Boehner on a -- we saw Plan B go down, we saw this fiscal cliff go to the very end, the talks stall with the president and then he's going to be re-elected speaker today. Is there an alternative in the House?

NAVARRO: I don't think there is an alternative. I think he did some pretty fancy footwork. You know, he's going to take some flack from it. What he did vis-a-vis New York, was it a mistake? Absolutely.

Listen, buddy, when Chris Christie is calling you in the middle of the night, take the call. New Yorkers and folks in New Jersey are a bad group of people to be ticking off. Part of the problem he had was he was doing this to his friends and they felt betrayed.

Peter King is one of the JohnBboehner's biggest and strongest allies. You just don't treat your friends like that. I think he quickly realized it, he's tried to make amends. He's promised a vote as soon as Friday, another vote on the 15th of January, buddy, you better live up to that promise. I tell you, these folks from New Jersey and New York, they don't joke around.

BLACKWELL: They will be back on. Roland Martin, Ana Navarro, thank you both.

MARTIN: Thanks so much.

BLACKWELL: God morning. I'm Victor Blackwell in for Carol Costello.