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U.S. Federal Government Partial Shutdown Continues; Debt Ceiling Looms; ObamaCare Glitches Continue; Interview with Rep. Reid Ribble; Possible Break in Madeleine McCann Disappearance; Financial Tips for Uncertain Times;

Aired October 14, 2013 - 12:30   ET


HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: A Senate leadership meeting has just ended. Dana Bash is on Capitol Hill with more on what happened, what was discussed, and what a possible outcome may be today.

Dana, hi, we're getting awfully close to that debt ceiling crisis.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are, and according to Senator Reid who I just spoke with, along with many other reporters in the hallway, walking from Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader's office back to his own, I asked if they were getting closer to a deal.

And he said, we are getting closer. He said, we're not there yet. But they are getting closer.

And the other question that was asked is whether or not he thought that they could have a deal by the time leaders go to the White House, which is at 3:00 Eastern, so that's in two-and-a-half hours.

He said, I sure hope so. He said that, we're still talking about everything. Not there yet. But he certainly sounded more optimistic than we have heard people talking and people sounding in the past.

And let's face it. Just the fact that he was walking out of Mitch McConnell's office, the Republican leader, that just is a good sign based on everything that has been going on, or rather not going on, up until the past 24 hours.

So it definitely has the feel of something that could gel soon, but we're going to have to see what the details are.

Now, I should tell also you that our understanding is that the Democratic leader has been pushing, at least in the past day or so, a shorter-term bill to fund the government in order to make sure that the sequester levels, the new forced-spending-cut levels that kick in, new spending cuts that kick in in January aren't locked in.

Unclear if that is still part of the discussion, really the crux of the discussion, or if they've move on to other issues. Of course, the big issue is the debt ceiling and length of raising the debt ceiling and what price if any Democrats are willing to pay on that.

Just one last thing, I was told just before coming down to the hallway here to stake out this meeting that the whole concept of medical devices, the tax on medical devices which Republicans have really been pushing on because it has to do with ObamaCare, repealing that or at least maybe delaying that is still possibly on the table as part of this short-term deal.

But, again, it's very fluid. They're still trying to finalize it.

HALA GORANI, CNN CO-ANCHOR: And short-term there being a key word that we keep hearing.

Thanks very much, Dana Bash. We'll stay in touch with you, of course, for more on a possible deal, still very uncertain, though.

So let's bring in someone from Capitol Hill, Reid Ribble is a freshman Republican congressman from Wisconsin.

Thanks for being with us, sir. You've been hearing about potentially there some sort of deal with the Senate leadership there.

How close or far are we from this actually being resolved?

REPRESENTATIVE REID RIBBLE (R), WISCONSIN: Well, I think we're getting closer for sure.

They're going to go over to the White House this afternoon. It will be bicameral and bipartisan to actually try to lay out this framework.

It's always been the Republican position that we should have a longer- term c.r., shorter-term debt limit. What you just heard from Dana is that Senator Reid is offering a longer debt limit and shorter-term c.r. So they're still going to have to work that out.

I find the whole thing kind of interesting now that they've shifted, or Harry Reid has shifted to talking about the sequester, because, on the one hand, they want to say ObamaCare is settled law, but they don't want to admit the sequester is settled law.

And so in reality in Washington, D.C., there's no such thing as settled law. We can continue as the Congress, to vote and pass things as long as the president will sign it.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Yeah, Congressman, I'm interested, though, in your thoughts on the broader question here.

When you look at redistricting, it's really meant that no one on the right has suffered for being too extreme, but they have for being too moderate.

Going forward, what do you do when there really is no electoral upside to bipartisanship in some areas of the Congress to cooperating if you like for the benefit of the country over ideology?

What's your view on that when you look forward?

RIBBLE: I've been very outspoken on the whole idea of gerrymandering. It's not just on the right. It's on the left. As time has gone by, restricting has taken place, districts have gotten bluer and redder.

And as they get bluer and redder, you have members of Congress representing those very blue and very red districts.

Stop and consider, we know longer have a system where voters are selecting representatives, but representatives are selecting their voters by redistricting them.

This is the problem we have. It's causing the gridlock.

HOLMES: A very good point.

GORANI: I want to ask you what the Republican Party here at the House level wants.

I mean, initially there was a group that wanted defunding, gutting ObamaCare, then it shifted to something different.

Now we're talking about the sequester cuts that are due to come into effect in January.

What is it that the Republican Party at the House level wants in order to get something agreed on here?

RIBBLE: You know, it's actually a great question because we're having kind of a convergence of two discussions taking place. One is on the debt limit. One is on the continuing resolution to fund the government.

I think they want different things, but at the end of the day, I think the broad number of members in the Congress really want one thing and that is to fix the systemic long-term threat, the very things that you talked about prior to coming into this segment about how the international community views how we're managing our nation's finances.

We've made promises to that American people that are going to be broken unless we address them now. They will get more expensive to address the longer we wait to take care of them.

GORANI: But do you shut down the government to keep long-term promises?

The American public certainly doesn't seem to be very pleased with their congress people. You're at approval ratings that are in the single digits here.

RIBBLE: Yeah, yeah, and I have very few family members left, and so they might go down lower.

The reality is that what has to actually happen -- and this is happening. One of the side things that has happened that the American people don't see because the news coverage can't see it is that there are an awful lot of sidebar meetings taking place now between regular members of Congress like myself. Now you introduced me as a freshman. I'm actually in my second term, but the reality is members of Congress are meeting together privately trying to find a pathway forward and asking the correct questions.

And it is, how can we help you -- as Republicans how can we help you as Democrats get to see this position? And Democrats are saying how can we help you as Republicans get to this place?

And these conversations are being done thoughtfully, respectfully and behind the scenes. And I think that maybe more than anything, this is starting to break some of the gridlock that we've seen and some of the partisan wrangling that's actually unhealthy for the process.

HOLMES: I think a lot of people would be delighted to see more moderate voices.

GORANI: Maybe you should have cameras behind closed doors because it seems like that's where the conversations, the polite conversations, are taking place.

RIBBLE: There's more pragmatism here than you might it be aware of, and you know, I came out of the private sector having never served in Congress before, or in any elected official capacity.

HOLMES: You must have been shocked.

RIBBLE: Well, yeah, and I was surprised at how sequestered we are and how politics rules the day, when in reality, most of us want to get something good.

We want to make sure that we protect our seniors and we want to protect our future seniors, which are our children, and those things can happen, but they'll only happen if we set politics aside for a while, lay down our swords, and actually do what's right for the American people.

HOLMES: And as they always say, you go in there hoping for all these wonderful things and do you -- are you able to achieve it long-term?

Wish we could chat more. Some good points there, Congressman Reid Ribble, thanks so much.

RIBBLE: Thank you for having me. It's good to talk with you.

GORANI: All right, well, we're going to take a short break. We'll be right back.

Stay with us on AROUND THE WORLD.


HOLMES: Obviously, we're continuing to keep an eye on Washington. We just heard from Dana Bash that Harry Reid, after meeting with Mitch McConnell, saying maybe they're a little closer to a deal there in Washington. Heard that before, but hopefully, this time there will be a little bit more meat on that. They're scuttling around and having meetings, and hopefully something will happen.

GORANI: All right, fingers crossed.

Well, a lot of this has to do with ObamaCare for some House members. But almost two weeks into the start of ObamaCare enrollment and, still, we have a few issues with software and technical problems.

HOLMES: Yeah, some experts say fixing them could take a long time.

Our Elizabeth Cohen has been trying to set up her account.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I put in my user name and password and it didn't recognize it.

Error messages, page not found, system down, it's been a tough nearly two weeks for ObamaCare.

There were error messages or that little annoying kind of like twirly thing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hate the twirly thing.

COHEN: Hate it, right?

I've been trying since day one to get an account and log in on I failed again.

We couldn't make this page work.

And again.

It wouldn't log me in.

And again.

It's not working.

When I've called the 1-800 number for help, the reps tell me volume is high and to try again during off peak hours.

So I tried again at 10:30 at night, 7:00 in the morning and still it didn't work.

So finally I set my alarm clock for 3:00 p.m. Sunday morning. But guess what, the system was down for maintenance.

I'm not the only one having trouble. On Facebook, people took to the page to vent by the thousands.

And on CNN's iReport.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've tried hundreds -- literally, hundreds of times since October the 1st.

COHEN: Independent analysts tell CNN the problems go way beyond high volume and minor glitches. They say the site fails to follow even basic protocols in its coding.

There is always the old-fashioned option of enrolling over the phone and using snail mail.

And you do have time. To be insured by January 1st, you just have to complete the process by December 15th.


HOLMES: A little bit of time there.

I remember last week we were joking with you about, you should get up at 3:00 --

COHEN: I did.

HOLMES: -- and you did.

COHEN: I did, and it was down for maintenance, right? Just my luck, right?

HOLMES: But you did eventually get in.

COHEN: I did. This morning, I have some success to report. I tried to log in and failed, tried to log in and failed, tried to long in and failed.

So I tried to create a new account, which I've been trying to do for several -- for a while now and failed. That time it didn't work.

GORANI: Under your name?

COHEN: Same name with different user name.

GORANI: Right.

COHEN: Tried again to create a new account, that didn't work.

I tried a third time to create a new account, and it worked. So I now actually have the two accounts, but -- and it worked.

So, you know, it's a lot of jumping through hoops. It did work. And we've heard from other people, even in the beginning, that it has worked.

It seems to be very spotty. It works sometimes and it doesn't work a lot of times.

GORANI: About an hour and a half ago, I logged in. I created an account. It asked me to verify with an e-mail address. I did that, I logged back in, and it worked just fine for me. And it was actually surprisingly quick I didn't go through the whole process because I wasn't applying for coverage, but I did create an account with a user name and a password and it worked fine.

HOLMES: A bit of a lottery thing.

COHEN: It feels like that because, literally, one second it failed and the next second it didn't for me. Like, one second it wasn't working and then the next second it was

I think a lot of it is luck. And I know when you call the reps, they're like keep trying, keep trying.

But I think, you know, to your point, it is a beautiful site to use. I mean, when it works, it's lovely. It's a great user interface. It was very smooth.

GORANI: Pretty user-friendly.

COHEN: Very user-friendly.

GORANI: Very clear what the next step is.

It reminds me of some of those tax-filing software programs, sort of like, click here, you know, and you go to the next page and then it asks you multiple choice questions, and then you move on to the next.

COHEN: There's those Web sites you sort of don't know what to do and you can get lost easily.

When this works, it really does, at least from what I've seen, work quite well.

HOLMES: Be patient and hopefully they're working on all the bugs.

And the funny thing is, during our morning meeting editorial meeting, we were discussing you being on the program today, and one of our producers just did it on his iPad and had success, so --

COHEN: Right. Right, and I had to jump through incredible hoops -


COHEN: -- that I think a lot of people wouldn't jump through.


COHEN: So you just never know.

HOLMES: Exactly.

COHEN: I had to game the game.

HOLMES: Elizabeth -

GORANI: Let us know -- HOLMES: -- you're in.

GORANI: You're signed up.

Let us know, by the way, on Twitter how it's worked out for you so far, if you're trying to sign up.

HOLMES: All right. Meanwhile, the U.S., just three days away, what is it now, 59 hours, 14 minutes from running out of money to eventually pay all of its bills.

What should you do with your stock?

GORANI: Up next, advice on protecting your money. We'll be right back.


HOLMES: Welcome back. We've been hearing the president is at a place called Martha's Table, which is a food pantry, if you like, in D.C., giving out food to people who are at the moment affected by the government shutdown.

And we did hear that the president opened his remarks, he said thank you to the volunteers saying part of the reason we're here today is because we have a lot of volunteers who are furloughed workers.

But then he went on.

GORANI: Right. Commenting on the prospects of hitting the debt ceiling on Thursday, President Obama said, quote, "We stand a good chance of defaulting."

HOLMES: But then he also was asked whether he was confident a deal would be reached and he said, well, there is some progress on the Senate side. Of course, we've been hearing about some of that. Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell meeting today, and some progress there. Of course, what the House thinks of whatever they come up with is a whole other thing.

GORANI: At 3:00 p.m., there's a meeting at the White House in the Oval Office at the White House today, which of course we'll be covering for you with that --


GORANI: -- involves, right, the bipartisan congressional leadership.

Average investors, that's you and me.

HOLMES: You're not average.

GORANI: If the partial government shutdown and economic gridlock in Washington is making you nervous, hold on.

HOLMES: Yes. As one leading money manager put it, don't do anything rash, not yet.

GORANI: That's good advice for anything in life. Christine Romans reports.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: One day a selloff, the next day a rally, it is enough to make the average investor swear off stocks and bonds and hide their nest egg in the mattress.

The memories are still fresh from the crash in 2008, stocks down 50 percent. Fast forward to today. And the Washington wrangling is bringing up nightmarish scenarios that conjure up the same fears. Afraid of the worst-case scenario, money managers say increase the cash portion of your portfolio from 10 percent to 20 percent. But one advisor says have a plan first.

DOUG FLYNN, FNDR, FLYNN ZITO CAPITAL MANAGEMENT: I don't think you ever want to make today the day that you exit the market in cash unless you have a clear-cut plan on when you're going to get back in. Most people don't have that clear-cut plan because if the market drops precipitously from here, most people aren't going to feel that's the time to get back in.

ROMANS: Concerned you're not rebalancing enough? Don't just do the something, stand there. That's what's mutual fund legend Jack Vogel says. Vogel examined two portfolios, both 70 percent stocks, 30 percent bonds. One rebalanced every year, another never touched.

Guess what, there was very little difference. But that's not to say you should always leave your portfolio on autopilot. Experts say consider lower risk options like a core intermediate term bond fund or even a dividend paying stock fund. But one thing is clear: don't try to invest by playing the headlines.

NED RILEY, RILEY ASSET MANAGEMENT: For the average person, I would just try to take a vacation from the market for about two to three weeks; don't do anything rash or silly by selling when it appears that the news is bad.

ROMANS: Riley says this is a multiyear bull market for stocks. He feels profits will be excellent for American companies next year -- Christine Romans, CNN, New York.


HOLMES: Don't do anything rash. There you go.

Hala is a busy woman. She's going to go down to CNN International to anchor her regular show.

GORANI: All right. It was great being with you. And if you're able to watch CNN International, I'll be with you there in about 10 minutes.

HOLMES: Yes, OK. Stick around here, though, for the rest of AROUND THE WORLD.

When we come back here on AROUND THE WORLD, remember Madeleine McCann, just 3 years old when she vanished from a vacation with her parents. Up next, we'll show you some new leads in her disappearance.


HOLMES: Welcome back. In the United Kingdom, police are holding out new hope for leads in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, you probably remember her, the little 3-year-old British girl who went missing in May 2007 while vacationing with her parents in Portugal. She would be 10 years old now.

Police releasing two computer generated sketches of a man spotted near the resort where the little girl was last seen. Eric McLaughlin is in London.

Erin, what do we know about this man? Who spotted him and what his connection or nonconnection could be?

ERIC MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Michael. This a man seen by two witnesses around the time of Madeleine McCann's disappearance. He was seen walking away from the McCanns' apartment carrying a small child of 3 to 4 years old. Witnesses describe him as a white male between 20 to 40 years old, medium stature with short brown hair.

Now police acknowledge that this could have been a completely innocent sighting but they really want to know more information about this individual. Michael?

HOLMES: You know, I remember initially Madeleine's parents were considered possible or potential suspects. They're now totally cleared, aren't they?

MCLAUGHLIN: Absolutely. Police are saying the parents are not a focus of this investigation. They believe that Madeleine McCann was abducted from her holiday apartment during the night. She was abducted they say while her parents were at a nearby restaurant having dinner with friends.

And they have ruled out a theory that she could have somehow wandered out of the apartment and been kidnapped outside of this holiday complex. They believe that the kidnapping had happened inside the McCanns' apartment, Michael.

HOLMES: Certainly an incredibly -- one of those cases that's captured the public imagination. So many kids go missing every year. This one has sort of really gripped people. Erin, keep an eye for us, Erin McLaughlin there in London. Thanks so much.

Thanks to you for watching AROUND THE WORLD today. Appreciate your company. I'm Michael Holmes. Be back tomorrow. Meanwhile, "CNN NEWSROOM" with Wolf Blitzer starts right after this.