It was like the first day of school on Capitol Hill yesterday as new members of the 113th Congress were sworn into the Senate and the House. Among the freshmen joining the House was Republican Representative Ron DeSantis of Florida's 6th Congressional District. DeSantis was one of less than a dozen newly elected members of the house who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan. He's also a Jag Officer in the U.S. Navy. Hopefully, he's prepared for upcoming battles in the House. Representative DeSantis joins us now to talk about his first day on the job, and what he plans to work on. First off, he says he would not have voted for the fiscal cliff deal passed earlier this week.
The House passed the Senate approved fiscal cliff legislation late last night with a 257 to 167 vote. Rep. Jeff Landry is a Republican from Louisiana and a member of the Tea Party Caucus. He voted against the bill and joins “Early Start” this morning to explain his reasons.
Landry says he was opposed to raising taxes on anyone, “but we're hiding the fact that we're spending way more than we're taking in.” He stresses the failure of the bill to work on the “16.8 trillion deficit and debt we acquired on the backs of future generations;” the looming debt ceiling fight ahead. “The sad part about it,” he says, “all we did was basically take us off one cliff, only to put us on one that's much higher.”
Landry also expresses disappointment in Speaker Boehner, criticising him for allowing the president to undo the promises he made after the 2010 elections. “The president was able to get the speaker to undo everything he promised he would do for the American people over the last Congress.”
The House finally passed a fiscal cliff deal 257 to 167 late last night, averting an avalanche of spending cut and tax hikes in the eleventh hour. So how can you make sure that Congress' last minute deal doesn't knock you off your own personal financial cliff? While we can't control what goes on in Washington, we can control our own spending. Manisha Thakor is a Personal Finance Expert and author of "Get Financially Naked". She shares advice for healthy spending habits live from Albuquerque, NM this morning.
In an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer last night, Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist said that the Senate’s plan to raise taxes on those earning $400,000 or more does not violate his anti-tax pledge.
Ali Velshi asks Rep. Phil Gingrey, who has signed the pledge, about Norquist's support of the fiscal cliff deal brokered by Vice President Biden and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Early Start this morning.
"I guess Grover could say that theoretically we've gone over the cliff. So, everybody's taxes have gone up, at least for 12 hours, and a vote would be actually a vote to lower taxes for everybody under $400,000," Gingrey says. "But I'm just not sure the people in the 11th district of Georgia will see it that way. I'm concerned that they will think that this is just more smoke and mirrors and Congress pulls these stunts all the time."
Gingrey also explains that while he thinks it's too early to commit to a definitive vote on the measure, he thinks the bill looks like it's raising revenue, but doing "very little if anything about cutting spending."
"At one point in this business of living to fight another day, you have to dig in your heels, and say by golly, I'm going to die over this today because it's important to the people of my district and this country," Rep. Gingrey explains.
All eyes are on the House this morning. Shortly after ringing in the New Year and plunging off the fiscal cliff, the Senate voted on a plan to avert it. But the question of 2013 is whether the House will follow suit. Congressman Jason Altmire is a Democrat from Pennsylvania. He's a Blue Dog Democrat, and therefore a fiscal conservative. Altmire, who is considered to be one of the most independent voters in the house, has crossed party lines before and is willing to do so to work with getting stuff done. He's also retiring at the end of this session. We hear from him live from D.C. this morning.
Rep. Altmire confidently says he will vote for the Senate approved fiscal cliff bill if it comes to the floor unamended. "I think you will get most all Democratic votes on the house, if they allow it to come to the floor. I think half the Republicans, maybe slightly more. This will pass if they allow it to come up to a vote.”
This morning, we wait with bated breath to see if a fiscal cliff deal worked out between Vice President Biden and Senate Republicans can pass the House later today. Ron Meyer is Spokesperson for the conservative group, American Majority Action. Long critical of how Boehner has been handling fiscal cliff negotiations, his group has suggested that Speaker Boehner resign for proposing his Plan B. Meyer weighs in live from D.C. this morning.
Meyer had correctly predicted very early on that the House would not pass Speaker Boehner’s Plan B measure. He offers his ideas about whether the bill that passed the Senate last night will pass the House this time around. “It could pass the House, but it definitely doesn’t have the majority of the GOP caucus right now,” Meyer says. He predicts that “at least 100 Republicans...will vote against this if they bring it up as proposed by the Senate.”
Meyer also speaks about the impact this fiscal cliff deal will have on young Americans who will feel the consequences down the road. “For people who actually care about saving my generation from a huge amount of debt, this bill is a complete joke,” Meyer says. “That's one of the things where I think House Republicans get it, where at least I mean the majority of our caucus gets it, where we're going to stand up against this plan because it's bad for young people, bad for our future. It's bad for the rest of America too.” Meyer believes a core group of Republicans will defend the idea that “this plan is gonna hurt and bankrupt our generation…and try to get a real solution done.”
Meyer also criticizes Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, for his role in the fiscal cliff talks. “He endorsed Plan B. And guess what?” he asks. “We shot it down. We had more than 50 Republicans against that bill. Grover Norquist’s power…it’s just Washington created. It’s media created.” Meyer further says the idea that Norquist is “some sort of magician behind the curtain is an absolute fallacy.”
If no deal is reached and the U.S. economy goes over the fiscal cliff the Defense Department is facing half a trillion dollars in budget cuts over the next 10 years.
– CNN’s Pentagon Correspondent Chris Lawrence takes a closer look at the possible gloom and doom scenario.
As the deadline to avert the fiscal cliff nears, fears of a shrinking paycheck for Americans continue to grow. On Sunday, Democrats and Republicans met to negotiate before large tax increases and spending cuts were to begin taking effect on New Year’s Day but failed to produce a deal. The House and Senate are expected to reconvene Monday morning at 10 and 11 o'clock respectively.
This morning, Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) joins "Starting Point" to weigh in on the latest fiscal cliff negotiations. Burgess says he will not vote for a bill that only expires the Bush-era tax cuts for households earning $450,000 or more.
The U.S. is just four days away from falling over the fiscal cliff. Lawmakers in Washington have had quite a long time to cut a deal to avoid it, but there is still no deal in sight. Maybe that could change today, when president Obama holds a meeting with all four congressional leaders at the white house. Here to weigh the odds is Ron Brownstein, CNN Senior Political Analyst and Editorial Director for The National Journal.
Brownstein says the fiscal cliff standoff “is really indicative of a broader problem we face of a red coalition and blue coalition that are very different, that reflect very different visions of America and are showing less and less willingness to sort of accommodate the other.” He says, “The reality is we are looking at a divided government for the next two years, and most likely the next four years. If they can't make an agreement on this, with all of the pressure that the fiscal cliff implies, how are going to make progress on anything else?”
He also comments on the big White House meeting and whether a leader will emerge who can control his or her party. “I think democrats by and large would follow the president,” he says. “I think that that is clear. It is very unclear whether Republican leaders can control their caucus, especially in the House."
He also believes that there are only two options in terms of avoiding the fiscal cliff. “Either we are going to go over the cliff, which now seems more likely. Or John Boehner has to bring a bill to the floor that will be supported primarily by Democrats and opposed by a majority of House Republicans. Because I do not believe that these two Venn diagrams overlap.”
Only six days remain now until the U.S. falls over the fiscal cliff. Even with time dwindling, President Obama and our lawmakers in Congress went off for Christmas vacation. The president will leave Hawaii very late tonight to come back to D.C. For an update on the House and Senate, “Early Start” hears from Congresswoman Nan Hayworth, a Republican from New York and a member of the Financial Services Committee.
Rep. Hayworth discusses the hopes of reaching a compromise within the Republican party with so little time left to work out a deal. "The common link that we all have is that we wanna see 23 million unemployed or under-employed Americans go back to work," she says. "And the only way to do that is to provide relief for our employers, small ones, big ones."
Rep. Hayworth says the onus is now on the Senate, which returns to work tomorrow. “We have to wait on the Senate at this point,” she says, “and that’s our challenge.”
"Early Start with John Berman and Christine Romans" airs weekdays from 5-6am ET on CNN. Check in regularly for news, show updates and a little bit of fun.