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December 21st, 2012
08:45 AM ET

Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) talks lack of GOP support in House over vote on Rep. Boehner's "Plan B"

House Speaker John Boehner's “Plan B” to avert the fiscal cliff failed to garner enough support from Republican leadership yesterday. The proposal would have extended Bush era tax cuts for Americans that make less than one million dollars. But the vote was ultimately postponed. Then the House went into recess for Christmas, and went home. Congressman Joseph Crowley is a Democrat from New York. He joins “Early Start” live from Washington this morning with the latest.

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Filed under: Congress • Fiscal cliff
December 21st, 2012
07:53 AM ET

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) talks lack of vote over Speaker Boehner's "Plan B" proposal: 'clearly what the president wanted'

Only 11 days remain until the United States falls over the fiscal cliff, but a deal is still pending. House Speaker John Boehner's “Plan B” failed to garner enough support from Republican leadership yesterday. The proposal would have extended Bush era tax cuts for those making less than one million dollars, but a vote on it never happened. Rep. Michael Burgess is a Republican from Texas. He's also a medical doctor who's the Chairman of the Congressional Health Care Caucus. Rep. Burgess joins us live from Washington this morning with more.

Rep. Burgess reflects on the epic opposition Speaker Boehner faced from his own party when he tried to get the House to vote on his Plan B legislation. “It was unlike anything I have seen in my brief ten years here in the nation’s capital,” he says. He says he expected a last minute conference to whip people into shape, "but this was not that."

Rep. Burgess also believes the outcome is “clearly what the president wanted.” “The president has wanted the tax increases that are going to start on January first. He’s wanted the cuts into defense that are going to kick in with the sequester,” Rep. Burgess says. “I really believe this is what the White House has wanted all along.” Rep. Burgess thinks the president has barely engaged in the fiscal cliff talks in Congress. “The president has a lot of power, and unfortunately in this case, it was only between him and the speaker.”

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Filed under: Congress • Fiscal cliff
December 19th, 2012
07:48 AM ET

Georgia Republican Congressman Paul Broun talks fiscal cliff "Plan B": 'doesn’t deal with the whole problem...spending'

Only 13 days remain until the United States falls over the fiscal cliff, but a resolution and the future of your taxes is still up in the air. Congressman Paul Broun Broun is a Republican from Georgia. He joins “Early Start” to discuss the latest on the fiscal cliff negotiations.

Speaker John Boehner introduced a “Plan B” yesterday that would extend tax cuts for those making under a million a year. Rep. Broun says he hasn’t seen the entire plan, but says he leaned ‘no’ on the proposal yesterday.

Rep. Broun also claims that President Obama “has been missing in action on this” and is responsible for lack of growth in the economy. “This bill doesn’t deal with the whole problem,” Rep. Paul Broun says. “The real problem is spending. We’ve got to deal with this problem and the president has been unwilling to do so.”

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Filed under: Fiscal cliff
December 19th, 2012
07:22 AM ET

Ron Meyer, Spokesperson for American Majority Action, talks fiscal cliff "Plan B": 'no shot to pass the House'

Thirteen days remain until the United States falls over the fiscal cliff and a solid resolution—and the future of your taxes is still up in the air. Republicans reportedly met late last night to see if they can get enough votes to bring a new "Plan B" onto the House floor. It would extend tax cuts for those making under a million a year. Speaker John Boehner introduced it yesterday.

Democrats say the bill has no shot in passing in the Senate. Ron Meyer is the Spokesperson for American Majority Action, a national conservative organization, and he opposes the new proposal. He agrees with the Democrats and thinks this bill is a mistake. Meyers joins “Early Start” live from Washington D.C. this morning.

Meyer says he’s spoken to “some really good sources in the House of Representatives and staff members, and they think that this plan has no shot to pass the House.” He voices their frustration with Speaker Boehner and how he is handling the fiscal cliff negotiations, “frustrated that he’s coming out with another tax hike offer, when it’s clearly a non-starter with us. The problem is not tax revenue,” Meyer says. “The problem is spending.”

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December 14th, 2012
06:44 AM ET

Fiscal cliff fallout at Pentagon over defense spending cuts; CNN's Chris Lawrence reports: Pentagon officials on 'auto-pilot to defend their budget'

Only 18 days remain until the U.S. falls over the fiscal cliff. Without a deal to avert it, automatic tax increases and spending cuts are set to go in affect at the beginning of next year. The cliff’s cuts include a $500 billion reduction in defense spending spread out over the next ten years. CNN’s Chris Lawrence explores the fallout over this at the Pentagon.

One Pentagon official says allowing sequestration “would introduce senseless chaos”. Another likens its potential affects on the armed forces to “Armageddon”, Lawrence says. "What I worry about is being blindsided by a huge cut,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says, “because they don't have the strength and the courage and the guts to do what they have to." General Martin Dempsey says, "Sequestration would risk hollowing out our force." This view has Pentagon officials on full alert over fiscal cliff negotiations.

"A senior Defense official admits that everyone at the Pentagon, from the Secretary on down, is on auto-pilot to defend their budget,” Lawrence reports. "Even though he feels they need people to go in and challenge their own cost, he argues that's better done over time—not forced on them by the fiscal cliff."

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Filed under: Fiscal cliff • Pentagon
December 7th, 2012
07:44 AM ET

CNN Contributor & Washington Correspondent for The New Yorker Ryan Lizza talks fiscal cliff and Sen. DeMint

Just 25 days away from the looming fiscal cliff, all eyes are on talks in Washington. The New York Times is reporting private negotiations between House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama. And the latest shakeup in politics is the resignation of Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina. Who will fill his seat?

Ryan Lizza is a CNN Contributor and Washington Correspondent for The New Yorker. Lizza comes to the studio this morning with his take.

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Filed under: Congress • Fiscal cliff • Politics
December 6th, 2012
07:42 AM ET

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz offers advice for job creation: 'invest' to 'bring our manufacturing base back'

The United States is less than four weeks away from falling over the fiscal cliff when the nation faces automatic spending cuts and tax increases unless Congress is able to come to a deal averting it. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz sat for an interview with CNN’s Poppy Harlow and he tells her his thoughts about the looming crisis.

Schultz feels that unless a deal is made, the consequences will be far worse than last year's debt ceiling fight, when the U.S. credit rating was downgraded for the first time ever. His message to lawmakers is to quit playing politics and do right by the American people. Harlow comes to “Early Start” with more on her conversation with Schultz.

One piece of advice the coffee giant shares with Harlow regards job growth. “We know there's a large sum sitting on the balance sheet of some public companies overseas,” Schultz says. “Some people have said $2-3 trillion dollars. I don't know the exact numbers, but if we repatriated that money at a lower tax rate, people would bring the money back, but I would tie the repatriation to a mandate of having to create jobs or invest in manufacturing capital equipment that would bring our manufacturing base back, or begin to.”

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Filed under: Fiscal cliff • Jobs
December 5th, 2012
08:20 AM ET

No deal in sight, CNN Contributor John Avlon calls fiscal cliff a 'self inflicted crisis'

The country is only 27 days away from tumbling over the fiscal cliff. Yet, neither side is budging to come closer to a deal. CNN Contributor John Avlon says that most politicians don't want to go over the cliff, but some partisans might derail the discussions on both sides. In a recently published CNN opinion piece, Avlons calls members of Congress the "Cliff-Deniers". He writes:

There is danger ahead—a growing chorus of ideological activists on both sides who insist there is no reason to fear going over the fiscal cliff, if the cliff exists at all. Call them The Cliff-Deniers. Listening to all-or-nothing advocates got us into this mess in the first place, leading directly to the loss of America's AAA credit rating. Listening to them again would be the definition of insanity.

The Author of "Deadline Artists – Scandals, Tragedies & Triumphs: America's Greatest Newspaper Columns", Avlon comes to the studio with his take on the stalemate in Washington.

"Right now, we are in the stage of public positional bargaining, and both sides making opening bids that the other side immediately dismisses as not serious, but of course this is serious," Avlon says. "This is a self inflicted crisis. And Washington is playing chicken with the fiscal cliff."

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Filed under: Congress • Fiscal cliff • Politics
November 30th, 2012
10:20 AM ET

Democrats and Republicans struggle to reach a compromise to avoid the fiscal cliff

The fiscal cliff is just 32 days away. With Democrats and Republicans both refusing to compromise, Zoraida speaks to a representative from each party to sort through the details.  

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas says her main focus is to fight for the working class who is being ignored. "That is what the bottom line is for the president and for Democrats, to protect benefits in a reasonable manner, and to ensure that we have the revenue to bring down the deficit and to continue to operate in the needs of the American people," Lee said.

Kansas Republican Congressman Tim Huelskamp does not like the President's newest proposal, but does like some of Obama's past ideas, "I agree with the president from two years ago when he said you can't raise taxes in the middle of a recession. I think the economy is lower than it was last year. Slower than it was the year before, and we have this idea and notion that somehow raising taxes is going to create jobs."

As for compromising, the Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus Lee favors focusing on growing the economy and not increasing cuts. She wants the Republican party to see eye to eye on that priority as well, "If my Republican friends would think about the working people of America, stop the war on working people of America, and not adhere to the fact that in a recession, you must constantly focus on the deficit. Most economists say focus on growth," she said.

Huelskamp agrees with her that progress can only be made by focusing on gaining revenue, "We have about 23 million Americans looking for work. Raising taxes doesn't create jobs. If we want more revenue in Washington we need to grow the economy. We need to talk about ways we can grow the economy and get Washington out of the way so people can go back to work, he said."

Instead of pointing the blame at just one person or party, Huelskamp, the House Budget Committee member, says the problem lies in Washington as a whole, "I think one of the problems with Washington in general is these things are taking place behind closed doors. That didn't work out a year and a half ago when they put together a bad deal. Both sides, the president, majority leader, the speaker, that created this crisis."

Though she doesn't believe a resolution will be reached before Christmas, Lee is positive about avoiding falling off the cliff, "I am looking forward to reasonable men and women coming together as patriots, and ensuring that we will address this question for the American people." Huelskamp agrees that a a solution can be found if and when Congress focuses on the good of the nation, "It's not about Washington. It's not about what the politicians are thinking. It's about how do we create more jobs in America and get our economy growing again?"

Filed under: 2012 • Fiscal cliff • Politics
November 30th, 2012
07:13 AM ET

Small business owners concerned about looming fiscal cliff; CNN's Poppy Harlow reports

If Congress does not reach a deal averting the proverbial fiscal cliff by the January 1 deadline, massive spending cuts and tax increases are set to go in effect. Almost 90% of Americans will pay more in taxes starting next year. That includes small business owners. But small businesses are at the heart of America's economic recovery, and hurting them could hurt the economy as a whole. CNN’s Poppy Harlow talks with two small business owners in Freehold, New Jersey to get their take. Like all Americans, they want answers from Washington.

Bob Bellagamba, the CEO of Concord Worldwide, a limousine company, calls debt a cancer. His message for Congressional leaders is to walk a mile in his shoes. The uncertainty of no deal is making it difficult to run his company. “I'd love for them to come here and just spend a day, spend a week, just to know what a small business goes through,” he says.

Charles Altiero, the owner of Freehold Jewelers, says there are days now that he goes home without a paycheck. He just wants Congress to get to work and make a deal. “Do your job,” he says. “Make a decision.”

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Filed under: Congress • Fiscal cliff
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