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tv   The Situation Room  CNN  December 10, 2013 2:00pm-3:31pm PST

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was a ratings hit for the network even though critics were ready to say so long to star carrie underwood's performance minutes into the show. the broadcast did well in social media, drawing more than 450,000 tweets, some of them even nice. that's it for "the lead." i'll be back in two hours on "outfront." i now turn you over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." happening now, white house shakeup. president obama turns to a former top clinton aide for some help. can he put the second term agenda back on track? handshake uproar. an impromptu greeting with cuba's raul castro sparking controversy and speculation. is it an omen for u.s. relations with cuba? and dying wish. a young cancer victim inspires a bipartisan bill to increase funding for research. why do some democrats say it's a fraud? i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."
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a troubled second term and now a shakeup in the white house. president obama's turning to a man who has been through it before, john podesta, who was chief of staff to bill clinton during his impeachment crisis. can he help steer another democratic president down a very bumpy road? let's begin our coverage with our senior white house correspondent, brianna keilar. brianna, tell us what podesta's role will be. >> reporter: his title, wolf, will be counselor to the president. it's a key advisory role and podesta is expected to be very influential. the deal that he struck with white house chief of staff dennis mcdonnough is to be at the white house for just one year, a sign of just how important president obama thinks 2014 will be to his legacy as he tries to tackle immigration reform and tries to get obama care back on track. failed gun legislation, stalled immigration reform. the government shutdown and one very, very bad health care
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reform rollout. his approval rating is at record lows. it's been a rough year for president obama and he needs to turn his presidency around. >> my friend john podesta -- >> reporter: obama is bringing in two men with extensive ties to congress as he loses one of his closest capitol hill savvy advisors, pete rouse, by his side since his days in the senate. shilero was there during the passage of health care reform and is returning to steer the troubled program to success and assuage the concerns of democrats. podesta shepherded president-elect obama's transition team in 2008 and will serve as counselor to the president, traditionally a very influential role. he has advised even pushed the president over the years as he did on cnn after the president's re-election. >> you really have to focus on what you want to accomplish, particularly in the first year. i think that first year after re-election is the time to get a lot done. >> reporter: obama was unable
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to, and with the window closing on his chance for second term achievements, democratic sources tell cnn podesta's expertise is much needed. as president clinton's disciplined chief of staff, podesta guided that white house through a sex scandal, impeachment and a war in kosovo. he was known for cracking the whip. one former clinton colleague telling cnn his co-workers made him a name plate. on one side, john d.podesta. when he would lay into other aides, he or they would often turn the name plate around to reveal skippy, the nickname for podesta's hard as nails alter ego. it's openly known, even democratic sources will tell you that president obama's relations with capitol hill are not very good, be it with democrats whose support he needs on health care reform, or republicans whose help he will need if he is to tackle immigration reform. to that end, podesta will be key. he knows the senate very well. he was the chief of staff to
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patrick leahy, who is the longest serving not only democrat but senator, period. >> he's got a lot of experience. i'm sure he will help the president. stand by, brianna keilar, at the white house. let's dig a little deeper with our chief political analyst, gloria borger, our senior political analyst, david girgen and andy card, chief of staff for president george w. bush, now at the bush school of government at texas a & m university. david, let me start with you. it was a little more than 20 years ago, i remember i was the senior white house correspondent breaking the news that then-president bill clinton was calling you in, you had served three republican presidents as a counselor, he needed some help desperately at the time, this in the first year of his administration, the first term of his administration, and we spoke at the time. listen to this. >> what is going to be your number one priority? what were his marching orders to you when he asked you to become his counselor? >> i think two things.
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this president had the best run democratic campaign we have seen in years. a lot of those same people at the white house, how can we work together to turn this into the best white house operation and then how do you develop and communicate a vision of where this president wants to go. >> so david, you have been in podesta's shoes. what does he need to know? >> well, first, wolf, this is a first class appointment. he's a first class human being. i think many regard him as one of the best chiefs of staff in modern times. he did a very good job for president clinton. i think it's a wise move. but much now depends upon what the dynamics are going to be within the white house. john podesta as chief of staff ran things. he is not going to be running things as counselor. dennis mcdonough as chief of staff will be running it. does that mean is his relationship with dennis, who recruited him, or will he really have the president's ear and
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have a chance to influence the directions of the white house. i'm not sure how that's going to work out. we don't know enough yet. but does he have the presence here, does he have the president's trust. he does not know john as well as he knows dennis and some of the other people around him. >> he worked for four presidents but you have worked for three presidents, andy. what do you think he needs to know coming into this job, because in this first year, the second term, the president's approval numbers at record lows. he's got a lot of work ahead of him. >> well, john podesta is very able. he understands the groundwork that has to be done to restore confidence on capitol hill where the president really has lost the confidence of the democratic majority. so there's a lot of work to be done. john is very able and i think will help restore that confidence. but john also does have to pay attention to the internal workings of the white house. if john is not part of the solution at the white house, and he's pushed aside a little bit, then he becomes a liability,
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because the white house will be dysfunctional. i think you have to look to see what kind of relationship john will have with the president and then with the chief of staff. it's really important that the president give john podesta kind of the running room to do what has to be done to make a difference. i think he's pretty able. president obama really needs his help and quite frankly, congress is looking for the president to have some mature leadership at the white house and i think john podesta may provide it. >> gloria, you and i know john podesta. he is obviously a talented political guy, knows a lot of the policy stuff. what does he bring that the president needs? >> first of all, when you look at him, you think of somebody who is actually the brain trust for the democratic party for many decades. he runs a democratic think tank which has provided the democratic party with the bulk of its ideas over the last couple of decades. so i think he can go toe-to-toe with the president on policy, but he can also go and advise
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him politically, because he's been there with a president in a time of crisis. i also think that he can help dennis mcdonough kind of figure out the flow of information and what should get to the president and what shouldn't get to the president. one of the questions we have been asking over these last months is why didn't the president know on a variety of issues, right, and so the question, why didn't he know about the website, why didn't he know about the irs scandal. i think that john podesta is a hand who can say look, this needs to get to the president and we need to let him in on some of the secrets we have been keeping from him. >> is this, david gergen, a vote of no confidence in the current staff by the president? he doesn't like to fire people but is it sort of an indirect statement, i need help and the guys who are there now and the gals, for that matter, not necessarily doing the perfect job i need? >> well, it's certainly an admission he needs help. i don't think it's a lack of trust in the people around him.
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he's not firing anybody. i think it's an addition to the white house which is what i all along, it's been apparent he needs to do. but again, john podesta, it's going to be an interesting challenge for him. he will not be the chief of staff. dennis mcdonough is still the chief of staff. so he can't decide we're going to do this or that. that's going to be between dennis and the president. but what he can be there for in tough situations to provide, he can provide a lot of political savvy. he is much more politically experienced than dennis mcdonough, the current chief of staff, is. he's much more politically experienced than most people. to gloria's point, he also does bring a set of ideas that he can refresh the intellectual side of the white house, especially on questions of income inequality, where he and the president both have a very strong intense interest and i think he will also bring frankly more of a liberal agenda with a lot more emphasis on climate change as well, an issue that matters a lot to john.
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>> don't forget, he is also bringing in his former congressional liaison, bringing him back and phil is somebody who knows how to tie up all those loose ends, whether it's on the hill or whether it's policy wise. i think what the president has been missing here is a lot of loop closing, including about things that have to end up in the oval office. >> so let me wrap it up with andy card. if john podesta said andy, give me one piece of advice going back into the white house now after all these years, running the center for american progress out of government, if you will, give me one piece of advice, what would you say to him? >> don't pretend to be the chief of staff because you're not, but have the courage to speak candidly with the president and bring him that unvarnished counsel that is so important that i think president obama has not had. >> bring him the bad news, not just the good news and don't be reluctant to do so. all right. gloria, andy, david, guys, thanks very much. up next, the historic nuclear agreement with iran
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perhaps teetering on the brink of secretary of state john kerry as he tries to talk some skeptical lawmakers out of imposing new u.s. sanctions. plus, the handshake seen around the world. this impromptu greeting between president obama and cuba's raul castro an omen? twins. i didn't see them coming. i have obligations. cute obligations, but obligations. i need to rethink the core of my portfolio. what i really need is sleep. introducing the ishares core, building blocks for the heart of your portfolio. find out why 9 out of 10 large professional investors choose ishares for their etfs. ishares by blackrock. call 1-800-ishares for a prospectus which includes investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. read and consider it carefully before investing.
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had today for members of congress, many of whom think the deal with iran is a bad idea. so are they buying what kerry is selling? our chief national security correspondent jim sciutto is here working the story. i understand you just learned an important potential development. >> that's right. a win in effect for the obama administration. that is that the senate banking committee chairman tim johnson has come out saying that he will not pursue sanctions, new sanctions, legislation for the time, releasing a statement to cnn saying the president and secretary kerry have made a strong case for a pause in congressional action on new iran sanctions so i'm inclined to support the request and hold off on committee action for now. that does not kill sanctions entirely, because there are other members of the senate who can pursue it. i reached out to the staff of senator robert menendez, chairman of the senate foreign relations committee. i'm told he will continue to pursue sanctions along with senator mark kirk, republican. i'm told that many according to staff for menendez will come to support them so you have that possibility. but it is a victory and it
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likely means that the way the senate works, that this will not come to be new legislation until january. the administration bought some time here at least at a minimum. >> the secretary of state was testifying before the house foreign affairs committee today. how did that go? >> that's right. not friendly territory from either party. it shows how deep the rifts are between the administration and many on the hill. kerry was making the case on the hill as he has before that this is the best chance for the administration, for the u.s., to avoid -- to keep iran from getting a bomb, not a perfect chance. in fact, secretary kerry said today that he made clear he has his own serious concerns, serious questions, about iran's commitment, but he says it is the best chance short of military action. here's how he put it to the committee today. >> you want to take a nation to war, you better have exhausted all the possibilities of trying to get a peaceful resolution before you do it. >> so strong words there from secretary kerry, but that argument did not sway many house members. eliot engel, a democrat, asked
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why the administration was opposed when sanctions would not take effect for six months. democratic brad sherman even accused the administration of hampering previous efforts to sanction iran. this was not friendly territory on either side of the aisle. listen to what republican congresswoman iliana ross-leighton said echoing benjamin netanyahu. >> this deal is a bad deal. i believe that the concessions offered to iran will be the death knell on the sanctions program as we know it. >> we just have to respectfully disagree. in six months, the world will know whether you're right or i'm right or whether you're wrong or i'm wrong. we are going to know. >> you hear secretary kerry there, in effect sticking his neck out, saying this is on me. we know it's a risk, we know that iran has broken agreements like this before. we think that we have enough verification here, but we have to wait and see, at least give it a chance, and he was saying there you know, it may break, it may not come to be and if it doesn't, it's his fault. but he thinks the u.s. is
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covered and also made the case that american national security is safer with this agreement, israeli national security is safer, our allies in the persian gulf. >> how is iran reacting to all of this? >> the iranian foreign minister said if there are new sanctions, this deal is done. i have spoken to people who said let's take that with a grain of salt because if iran walks away from this deal, say there is new sanctions legislation even next month, they lose that $7 billion in sanctions relief. their oil production is going to go down again, inflation will jump, unemployment, et cetera. they have a price to pay as well if they walk away. >> where do we go from here? >> well, i think it looks like the administration has bought time, at least until january, on the sanctions but they still have to make a case in the meantime because as we were saying earlier, you have others, menendez, powerful democrats and republicans, who are not backing away from new sanctions. >> the secretary of state is heading back to israel this week, right, for more talks with the prime minister netanyahu. >> the mileage counter keeps ticking up. >> jim sciutto, thanks very
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much. let's take a quick look at some of the other stories we're monitoring in "the situation room" right now. snow and ice are making travel extremely tough across much of the country right now, especially in the northeast. more than 1,000 flights have been canceled for the second day in a row. and driving has been bad in many places as well. that's been the case for days. we are getting some incredible video from milwaukee, wisconsin, showing car after car slamming into one another, causing a huge and dangerous pile-up. drivers couldn't see the cars stopped in front of them since the visibility was so bad. florida republican congressman ted yoho is hosting a gun safety event for kids on the first anniversary of the newtown, connecticut school shooting. he is a staunch opponent of gun control but says the date was not intentionally chosen to coincide with the anniversary. the event will focus on safety and encourage responsible gun ownership. a major announcement from general motors today. the company says it's chosen mary barra to be its new ceo.
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she will be the first female head of a major u.s. automaker. she currently is an executive vice president, has been with g.m. for 33 years. she will take over in january, becoming g.m.'s fifth ceo in less than five years. coming up, president obama opens up his tribute to nelson mandela. why did it resonate so deeply with so many south africans? plus, the uproar over this handshake. critics blast the obama/castro greeting but one former president says he hopes it's an omen.
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truly a remarkable gathering including four american presidents and leaders and celebrities from around the world, all paying tribute to nelson mandela. the weather may have been gray with rain pouring throughout the service but the mood was festive as thousands celebrated the life and the remarkable achievements of south africa's first black president. cnn's david mckenzie is joining us from johannesburg right now. he watched it all in person. what was it like, david? >> reporter: it was an
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extraordinary scene here today. obviously commemorating nelson mandela's the great statesman of south africa who died last week at the age of 95. terrible weather here, still is in johannesburg, but it didn't stop thousands from streaming into that stadium here in johannesburg to witness history in the making. more than 50 world leaders on the scene there to commemorate the loss. it has been a period of mourning but has been more like a period of celebration here in south africa. song and dance and all the struggle songs being sung yet again of nelson mandela, the man and the legend that has really brought south africa out of a divided past and into a peaceful future. president obama made very personal statement. he was one of the most popular speakers on the day and connected his own story with that of nelson mandela. >> we will never see the likes of nelson mandela again, but let me say to the young people of
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africa and the young people around the world, you too can make his life's work your own. over 30 years ago, while still a student, i learned of nelson mandela and the struggles taking place in this beautiful land, and it stirred something in me. it woke me up to my responsibilities to others and to myself, and it set me on an improbable journey that finds me here today. and while i will always fall short of madiba's example, he makes me want to be a better man. he speaks to what's best inside us. >> reporter: in africa, the rain
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is good wishes for someone who has passed on, and certainly the weather has played a huge role today. it still does, wolf, but today really about remembering this great man. >> he certainly was a great man. as you point out, president obama was very well received, but there were actually boos among the thousands there at that stadium when the president of south africa, jacob zuma, was speaking. what was that all about? >> reporter: very controversial moment, in fact, those boos of jacob zuma, the president of south africa. also, people were making this sign and anyone who watches sports knows that's to make a substitute. there is a lot of anger here in south africa with the current administration. south africa has moved on a long way since apartheid. many of those racial divides have been closed, but there is also a big problem with poverty. less than 1% of white south africans are in poverty but that number for black south africans, nearly half of black south
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africans so that divide is still there. many people i've spoken to through this week expressing disappointment that the current anc government hasn't done more to bring those people up. but certainly, the predominant feeling this week is one of mourning and of celebration of this great man, nelson mandela, and certainly, people will be looking forward to the next several days of commemoration in pretoria and at his hometown later this week. >> i was expecting that stadium to be packed, jam-packed. i know the weather was bad, it was raining, but there were a lot of empty seats there. was it simply because of the weather? >> reporter: i think it was because of the weather and maybe because people were worried about how difficult it would be to get to that stadium as well. mostly a logistical issue. they also had other viewing places across the country but also it might be that this has been several days in the making. the true emotional moment would have been on friday after the announcement came and also, we must remember that nelson
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mandela was sick for several months, in fact, bedridden, so south africans in some way were expecting this. but there has also been a lot of quiet reflections. many people i have spoken to say they remember their personal connection to this man, not just the president, just ordinary south africans who remember the day he came out of prison, the day they saw him take office as the president of a free south africa, and i'm sure you remember those same moments. >> yeah, all of us do. david mckenzie in johannesburg, thank you for that report. let's dig a little deeper right now with our chief national correspondent, john king. also our cnn political commentator, charles blow and republican strategist ana navarro. charles, what did you think of the president's speech today? clearly seemed to resonate with south africans. >> i think it was an amazing speech. i think this is the kind of moment where you see obama kind of rise.
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something happens between him and large crowds, stadium kind of crowds, where they feed off his energy, he feeds off that energy and he kind of lifts himself above both rhetorically and also in his demeanor above the kind of smallness that is actual governing. this is when you see him and i think it's kind of a non-political moment. this is a moment when you can be proud that we have a president who can do this sort of thing and represent the country well, whether or not you agree with him on policy or not. this sort of thing is where he really does shine and he makes america look good in moments like this. >> you know, ana, there was some controversy as you well know, you live in florida, down in miami, cuban americans, many of them not very happy with that handshake between president obama and raul castro in the box up there as the president walked in, shook hands with everyone. iliana ross-leighton, the republican congresswoman from florida, said this at a hearing when john kerry, the secretary
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of state, was testifying. >> when the leader of the free world shakes the bloody hand of a ruthless dictator like raul castro, it becomes a propaganda coup for the tyrant. raul castro uses that hand to sign the orders to repress and jail democracy advocates. >> what was your reaction? a lot of folks are hoping that maybe even a simple gesture like that handshake could result in alan gross, the american who has been held captive in cuba for four years, maybe he will be released. >> i would say let's have a reality check here. i've seen a lot of people be very worked up about this handshake. to put it in context, as you said, raul castro was the first guy sitting there as obama came up the stage to give his remarks. i don't think that this handshake is going to end up changing policy terribly. let's remember that the u.s. embargo is codified. in order to change it you need an act from congress.
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guess who is in charge of the foreign relations committee in the senate? bob menendez. it's going to take an act of god to get through bob menendez to change sanctions on cuba without cuba changing their repressive regime on the cuban people. let's also remember that today is international human rights day. there are people still getting repressed, harassed and jailed in cuba for wanting to express their human rights and express freedom freely what they feel and be the centers of this government. i commend president obama, because in his speech, though he did give the handshake, i think what's also meaningful is what he said in his speech, where he said that there are rulers, there are leaders, who say they are in solidarity with what mandela stood for in the latter part of his life, and yet do not allow the scent of freedom in their own countries. i would say he was talking directly to raul and fidel
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castro at that point. >> john, marco rubio, the senator from florida, also cuban american like bob menendez, the democratic senator from new jersey, rubio put out a statement, if the president was going to shake his hand, he should have asked him about those basic freedoms mandela was associated with that are denied in cuba. they didn't get into any conversation at all. it was simply a handshake saying hello, basically. >> the white house says it was a very brief essentially casual greeting. it was good manners on the president's part. he was a guest of the mandela family and south african government, first one on the stage, so the president if he walks past him, that's an international incident. the president shakes his hand, now it's an international conversation. the white house says it's not about policy, it's about respect for mandela and the moment. to senator rubio's point and to the point ana was making, look, this is crystal proof that all politics is local. however, ana knows this better than any of us in the conversation, even that conversation is changing. you go to little havana today and talk to younger cuban americans, they disagree with their parents and grandparents
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because look, this is the 11th american president to have to figure out how to do the castro dance. first fidel, now raul. this goes back to the eisenhower administration. there are some younger cuban americans who say let's try easing sanctions, try sending mr. hilton and hyatt into cuba. what my parents wanted hasn't worked. maybe it was the right thing to do then but it hasn't worked. this is an interesting conversation. if the president were running for re-election he might be more nervous about that handshake because of florida. but look, to ana's point, people are overblowing the moment. this was a memorial service for nelson mandela and that was a man showing good manners. >> the president made the gesture to raul castro. is the ball now in cuba's court to do something to try to improve relations with the united states? >> i mean, that gets to the point you made earlier, where you showed the clip of somebody saying it was a propaganda coup. the christian science monitor is reporting that cuban state television didn't even show the handshake and they didn't
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hypothesize about what it meant. we're doing that. is something slightly askew here? we are so obsessed with this. in cuba, it's not having the effect that people are saying that it is having. we've gotten ourselves worked up past the moment. i agree with john and ana that this is mandela's day. it would have been really horrible for the president to try to make a political point on that podium today at mandela's funeral. this is not the day for this conversation, even. i think the president showed proper protocol, shake the hand and keep moving. that does not signal in any way to me that any policies are changing and the policy discussion we will be having for the next 50 years as we've had it for the last 50 years. >> we have to end it on that note. i do think the cuban government did issue some sort of statement saying maybe this is the start that americans so-called oppressors will stop doing bad things toward cuba, something
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along those lines. but we will continue to watch the fallout. see what happens, if the cubans in fact take this potential opportunity and do something positive as far as alan gross is concerned. thanks very much. up next, a flurry of protests across the country to raise the minimum wage. for some, poverty is a vicious cycle that can't be broken. >> some things i don't want to try. what's the point? i'm not going to make it anyway. [ male announcer ] they are a glowing example of what it means to be the best. and at this special time of year, they shine even brighter. come to the winter event and get the mercedes-benz you've always wished for, now for an exceptional price. [ santa ] ho, ho, ho, ho! [ male announcer ] lease the 2014 e350 for $579 a month at your local mercedes-benz dealer.
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♪ nationwide is on your side ♪ congress is set to be close to a bumdget deal ahead of friday's deadline but one sticking point is whether or not to extend unemployment benefits. a minimum wage increase is not on the table despite growing protests by retail and fast food workers and support from
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president obama. meantime, many americans are struggling to support families. cnn's poppy harlow has some of their stories. >> you have no money on your lunch account. not a dollar. >> reporter: at 29 years old, joanna cruz is stuck, stuck in a job that pays $7.30 an hour. she works overnights at a deli 40 hours a week. her weekly paycheck, $244.70. what do you need to make to be able to get by on your own? >> i would have to make at least $14, $15 to be able to live comfortably. >> reporter: you add it up as you go? >> yeah. >> reporter: you do. >> i have to. >> reporter: she's single mom fighting to get by. don't be mistaken, she blames herself for not finishing high school and not going to college. she tells me there has to be more she can achieve. >> there is no moving up. i might get a raise if i'm there long enough, but that's about it. >> reporter: her life mirrors her mother's.
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augusta cruz worked 30 years in a mattress factory and says she never made more than $9 an hour. >> it's a vicious cycle for everybody. >> reporter: her mother provides the home joanna can't afford. if it weren't for you having them here under your roof, where would she be? >> in a shelter. on the street. >> reporter: years of low wage work has left joanna with little hope. >> i'm already 29. by the time i finish school, i would probably be like 40. and then who's going to hire a 40-year-old just starting off with no experience? probably not going to happen. some things i don't want to try. >> reporter: tell me what you mean. >> i just feel like what's the point. what's the point of trying, i'm not going to make it anyway. >> reporter: do you think from the outside looking in, people have any idea what you go through? >> no. none. >> reporter: americans have long believed in a fair day's pay for a fair day's work, but we can't
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agree on what that wage is today. president obama supports raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to about $10 an hour, but critics argue that won't help. it will hurt, costing jobs and increasing prices. >> in general, prices go up, people buy a little less, therefore firms use a little less labor. you are better off if you earn a higher wage, clearly, but weigh that against the likelihood that your employer will make do with somewhat fewer workers and you might be one of those workers. >> reporter: at the center of the debate, fast food chains and big box retailers. in 2012, the average pay for a fast food worker was $9 an hour. for retail workers, it was $12.17. both higher than minimum wage. still, tiffany, a part-time walmart worker, is among those demanding higher pay. she's a member of our walmart, a union-backed group that does not represent walmart workers, but protests for higher wages.
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>> it isn't enough money for me to get by. it's very hard. we're at a standstill right now with my family. >> reporter: walmart's u.s. ceo says they pay a fair wage and are unfairly criticized. >> we pay above average wages for the retail industry, and we provide incredible opportunity. the discussion around the starting wage, minimum wage, is one that the country needs to have, the debate needs to be had but that's not the issue. the issue isn't where you start, it's where you go to once you started. >> reporter: tiffany wants more opportunity but at $10.70 an hour, she can't afford to work full-time given the child care costs she would need to cover. so why doesn't she look for another job? >> i'm actually not unhappy with my job. i really like my job. i like being with the customers. so it's not -- i mean, it's pointless for me to find a job. i would rather stay and fight. >> reporter: as for joanna, her pay will go up in january when minimum wage in new jersey increases to $8.25 an hour. she will still struggle but
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hopes her children's lives will be better. >> it's not going to happen to my kids. it's not. i promise you that. it's not going to happen to my kids. it's just not. i won't allow it to. >> reporter: poppy harlow, cnn, reporting. a new quinnipiac poll shows strong support for increasing the minimum wage, 69% of those asked are in favor. 27% oppose. we are just learning that there will be an announcement in about 15 minutes or so at the top of the hour, looks like they've got an agreement, a budget agreement. patty murray on the democratic side from the senate, paul ryan on the republican side from the house, they have been working for weeks on a new budget agreement. they are apparently getting ready to make an announcement. we'll have live coverage here in "the situation room." just ahead, a young girl with terminal cancer takes her fight public. >> one of my fears is that more young children are going to die. i don't want that. >> now congress is poised to act
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a ten year old's dying wish is posed to come true. gabriela's dream is close to coming true. dana bash is here with more on this remarkable girl. >> her mother, ellen miller said to me something i will never forget as she said how do you
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tell your 10 year old daughter that she's going to die? the way she told her was to encourage her to fight. and that's exactly what gabriela did. >> reporter: everywhere she went, she brought her frying pan to smash a walnut. it started when gabriela's father broke the news to his young daughter that she had a brain tumor. >> they told us it was about the size of a walnut. so we would, every night take her outside and give a walnut a whack with a frying pan. >> it's not fair. just because, you know, we don't know as much doesn't mean i'm not important. >> reporter: the millers quickly learned how little was available for kids with cancer. >> she questioned all the time, why don't they have a real draw that will work for us kids.
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>> reporter: less than 4% of $5 billion in research goes to childhood cancers. >> one of my fears is that more of like really young children going to die. >> reporter: she almost seems like an old soul. >> she got it. she understood. >> once you got cancer, you kind of got to be all grown up. and you don't really have a childhood. >> reporter: but gabriela embraced activism in speeches and online videos with a simple message to politicians. >> stop talking and start doing. >> reporter: six weeks ago, gabriela lost her 11 month battle with cancer, but her message got through. republican greg harper and democrat peter welch want to
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direct money toward pediatric research. they named the bill after gabrielle la miller. it's pretty rare to name a piece of legislation after a person. >> instead of spending money on political conventions for political parties, shouldn't we have as our priority, research for kids? >> this bill is an act lieutenant fraud. >> reporter: some senior democrats oppose this as a publicity stunt. >> if there's some way you can do it, why not do it? >> as a mother and grandmother my heart goes out to gabriela's mother. bring back the $1.55 billion that they cut from the national institutes of health. >> reporter: cantor vows to work on that. but you've got to start somewhere. >> can we just put the
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battle-axes down for a while and take a step forward? i think we can. >> reporter: in the spirit of this from little gabriela. >> if i lose my battle, then i want other people to carry on for more. we can win this war. >> reporter: now the house is going to vote on this gabriela miller research bill tomorrow despite opposition on both sides, cantor told me he is expecting it to pass. the fate of this is uncertain in the senate. but just the fact that gabriela miller was abe to stir this debate, her parents tell me that she is absolutely beaming from heaven. >> they've got to find the money. if we can spend a billion dollars or $2 billion a week in afghanistan, we can find some money for pediatric research. >> and to hear that from a 10 year old girl with such el
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against is pretty remark abable. a deal has been reached between house and senate, a deal to keep going. it looks like they're going to have a budget deal. we'll have live coverage. stay with us. hi honey, did you get the toaster cozy? yep. got all the cozies. [ grandma ] with new fedex one rate, i could fill a box and ship it for one flat rate. so i knit until it was full. you'd be crazy not to.
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i'm wolf blitzer in the situation room. we're following breaking news. members of congress strike a crucial budget deal only days before their deadline. we're standing by for a formal announcement. patty murray, paul ryan, they've been working with the house, senate conferees to come up with a deal. analysts are standing by. all of them, john king, gloria
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borger, dana bash. what are the headlines out of this? what do we know? >> reporter: first of all we know this is not a grand bargain. this is not going to address the big things that really are eating away at the country's economy, the debt and the deficit. but it is a deal. it's something that we haven't seen in a very long time. >> and it will keep the government going. there won't be a shutdown. >> reporter: that is really a key. we have not seen anything that has gone down to the wire in a long time. what are we talking about? . we'll just go through some of the details. it is going to eliminate the arbitrary forced spending cuts for two years and instead allow congress to choose the cuts. again, it won't be arbitrary. >> the so-called sequestration. >> reporter: how are they going to do that? they're going to pay for it with an increase in airline travel
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fees and an increase in the worker contribution to federal pensions. so that is the outlines of the deal. it's not global. it's not going to really attack the debt and deficit, but it is going to keep the government running and address some of the concerns by democrats and republicans about these forced spending cuts. republicans were upset about it because it ate too much into defense. democrats because it ate too much into domestic programs. >> even if they agree to this, it's got to pass by a majority of the house of representatives, and it's got to pass in the senate. i suspect it won't have much trouble in the senate, but in the house of representative, protectionly with a republican majority, will they go along with paul ryan? >> reporter: it's very hard to say, because these automatic spending cuts have been very popular with a lot of conservatives who believe it's one way to restrain spending.
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there have some who say you need to raise the cuts for the military because it's put us at a disadvantage globally. so you're go fog have all points of view. >> tomorrow morning there's going to be a meeting of house republicans, and they are going to have to bless this or leaders are going have to make sure that they do have enough votes because a lot of conservative groups have already come out, many of them and said conservative republicans do not vote for this. >> so you could see liberal democrats siding with conservative republicans to oppose this because the liberal democrats are saying we just wanted to lift these automatic spending cuts totally, and this isn't really good enough for us. and by the way, we don't want our constituents some of whom are federal employee, paying for this. >> now john king has been watching what's going on. i suspect that there will be plenty of conservative republicans who won't be very happy with this deal.
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>> when you lay over this the coming 2014. we're now in december heading into the 2014 midterms and many republicans, including the senate republican leader are facing conservative, many of them tea party inspired challenges back home. just had another one to the number two, cornyn in texas. the man brokering it from the republican side was a man six months ago was the hero. they trusted paul ryan. now he is viewed suspiciously as part of the establishment. watch the voices. watch what mcconnell says about this. this could become, and gloria's dead right, this could now become the latest exhibit, if you will, in what is a philosophical civil war. >> and brianna keilar, if it
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does pass the house, the senate then has to sign it into law. are you getting any reaction yet from white house officials to this dole? >> we don't have any reaction from the white house yet at this point. i think they're waiting for the formal announcement of exactly what is in the deal and what is not in the deal. but i do think that president obama and white house officials are going to feel that this reenforces the strategy that he took during that battle with the government shutdown. that he wasn't going to give when it came to funding for the government or when it came to the debt ceiling. he wasn't going to give on obama care. he was in a little bit, you could argue, sort of intransjents. he said no, i'm not negotiating on this. and once this was all said and done in october, he said that he didn't think there was going to be another fight. so if that is the case, i think they're going to see that as justifying his strategy and that ultimate think did work.
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i will tell you, though, president obama has dedicated a lot of time to talking about unemployment insurance, and it appears that that is not going to be part of this. you have uninsurance benefits expires for 1.3 million people at the end of the year. a lot of this is going to be in this bargain. it appears at this point, that that's still going to be an issue unresolved from this agreement. >> i know you've been checking. this is a deal to keep the government going. there won't be a government shutdown. it's going to be, there's going to be controversy as you pointed out, but it has nothing to do with raising the nation's debt ceiling which has to be raised in the next couple months as well. >> the dead lean for that is february. that's going to be a whole different fight. and it is an important fight and it is one that republicans have continued since they were elected the majority of the house to make it a fight, because they want to use it to cut spending, but unclear if
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they're really going to do that, given the fact that the president really held the line, and the reason he did it was to break the fever of the last time around. so it's really uncertain how big of a challenge that is going to be. >> gloria, step back a minute. talk about paul ryan, the vice president nominee in 2012, certainly a potential presidential candidate if he wants to run in 2016. where does this put him? >> he's straddling that line, wolf. i remember the night of the budget shutdown, remember that? where paul ryan actually voted for the shutdown, and we were all surprised about that. but he's somebody who also voted on the fiscal cliff to not go over the cliff. he got a lot of conservative push back on that. it's clear that he's interested in national office, and i think he's, wants to be seen as a konsyl greater right now.
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don't forget he ran with mitt romney who saw him as kind of a junior partner in that campaign, and i think paul ryan is trying to put his stamp on the budget. he's the chairman of the committee. he's respected in the republican party, but he may not be far right enough on this issue for republicans. >> we're waiting for paul ryan, senator patty murray, the senate budget committee. it's called the bipartisan budget act of 2013. if they get this passed in the house and senate and the president signs it into law, it will keep the government operating without any problem, at least in the short term. we'll watch what's going on. we'll take a quick break. much more on the breaking news right after this. [ male announcer ] did you know
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we're watching the breaking news. you're looking at a live picture from capitol hill. there's going to be an announcement moment tearily by paul ryan and patty murray. they are going to announce an agreement, what they call a bipartisan budget act of 2013. they're coming to the microphones right now. let's listen in. paul ryan and patty murphy. >> good evening. i am happy to report that senator murray and i have reached an agreement. we've been talking all year. and this week that hard work of the two of us sitting downen a talking to each other all year has paid off. it started because we passed
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budgets. and senator murray deserves credit for passing a budget through the senate. that got the ball rolling so we started talking. this bill reduces the deficit by $23 billion. and it does not raise taxes, and it cuts spending in a smarter way. from the outset, we knew that if we forced each other to compromise a core principle, we would get nowhere. that is why we decided to focus on where the common ground is. so that's what we've done. that means to me a budget agreement that reduces the deficit without raising taxes and replaces some of the arbitrary across the board spending cuts with permanent smarter reforms that pay for this relief. it balances the budget within ten years. it pays off the debt, but i realize that's not going to pass in this divided government. i see this agreement as a step in the right direction. in divided government, you don't always get what you want. that said, we still can make
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progress toward our goals. i see this agreement as that kind of progress, as a step in the right direction. instead of the arbitrary cuts we make smart, targeted reforms. we stop sending checks to criminals. we cut corporate welfare. we reform some mandatory programs and we start to make real reforms to these auto pilot programs that are the foundation of our debt in the first place. this agreement makes sure that we don't have a government shutdown scenario in january. it makes sure we don't have another government shutdown scenario in october. it makes sure that we don't lurch from crisis to crisis. it also allows congress to finally exercise the power of the purse. we're both from the legislative branch. the constitution says that the legislative branch should exercise the power of the purse, we want to reclaim that from the administration instead of having all these continuing resolutions. we want to get our government
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functioning at its very basic levels. that, we think is a step in the right direction. that brings us some normalcy back to our government. i want to take a minute to thank senator murray. she's a tough and honest negotiator. she's fought hard for her principles every step of the way. all the summary documents will be texted and placed upon our budget websites by the end of the night. and with that, i'd like to offer senator murray. >> well, for far too long here in washington, d.c. compromise has been consider add dirty word. we have lurched from crisis to crisis and from one cliff to the next. and when one count down clock was stopped it wasn't too long before the next one got started. that uncertainty was devastating to our fragile economic recovery. the crisis cost us billions of dollars in loss jobs and growth.
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the continued cuts from sequestration were forcing our families and communities to pay the price. so i am very proud to stand here today with chairman ryan to announce we have broken through the gridlock and reached a bipartisan budget compromise that will prevent a government shutdown in january. our deal puts jobs and economic growth first by rolling back sequestration, harmful cuts to education and defense jobs for the next two years. now i know there were some people who thought these cuts should continue, but i'm glad that we increased these key domestic investments and that we averted the next round to military programs and defense jobs in our country. this deal builds on the reduction we have done since 2011 and continues the precedent we set in the fiscal cliff deal that sequestration shouldn't be replaced with spending cuts
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alone. this bipartisan deal will help millions of americans who are wondering if they were going to keep paying the price for d.c. dysfunction. from the workers at our military bases and construction basis who were furloughed or laid off, to the kids who lost their slots in head start programs to the seniors wondering if they were going to have meals on wheels, to the families who were praying for halted medical programs to get back to a cure. because of this deal, the budget can stop lurching from crisis to crisis. this deal allows congressional committees to proceed under regular order and gives government agencies and the companies that do business with them the certainty to hire workers and make investments. this isn't the plan i would have written on my own, i'm pretty sure congressman ryan wouldn't
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have written it on his own. i was disappointed that we weren't able to close even a single corporate tax loophole. i know man' republicans were hoping this would be the opportunity to make some of the changes they've advocated for, but congressman ryan has set aside our differences. we've made some compromises and we've worked together to get something done. now this deal doesn't solve every issue in front of congress. we focused on issue wes we can agree. but we have long term issues that this deal doesn't fix. our debt piles up and the economic foundation middle class
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families have depended on continues to crumble. we have budget defics that have improved but have not disappred and we have deficits in infraructure and we know we need comprehensive tax refor and comprehensive immigration reform. there is a lot more for congress to do, it doesn't solve all our problems, but i think it is an important step to heal some of the wounds here in congress, to rebuild some trust and show we can do something without a crisis right around the corner and demonstrate our value in making the government work for the people we represent. so when all this is done, i am very proud to stand with chairman ryan and anyone else who wants to work on this. nothing is easy here. but i know the american people expect nothing less. i want to take a minute to especially thank chairman ryan. he and i do have some major differences. we cheer for a different football team, clearly.
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we catch different fish. we have some differences on policies. but we agree that our country needs some certainty and we need to show that we can work together. and i've been very proud to work with him. i also want to thank congressman van holland who's worked very hard to make sure this deal reflects the values he cares about, and all of our committee, they have been very hardworking with us to get to their deis de. so i'm hopeful we can get this through the house and then through the senate and get home for the holidays that i think everybody deserves this year. >> questions.
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>> well, look, as a conservative, i think this is a step in the right direction. what am i getting out of this? i'm getting more deficit reduction. so the deficit will go down more than if we did nothing. point number two, there are no tax increases here. point number three, we're finally starting to deal with auto pilot spending, that mandatory spending that has not been addressed by congress for years. look, this isn't easy. this is the first divided government budget agreement since 1986. the reason we haven't done a budget agreement since '86 is because it's not easy to do. so we know we're not going to get everything we want and she's not going to get everything we want. all right. so there you have it. a major, major deal, words you don't often here in washington, d.c. right now.
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compromise. and as you heard paul ryan say, a step in the right drink, although there will be plenty of conservatives who won't be happy with this deal. there will be some liberals who won't be happy with it as well. it's still got to pass the house of representatives, pass the senate, go to the president for his signature. if it passes, there will not be a government shutdown in january. we'll be right back. every day we're working to be an even better company -
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all right. so there's a historic two-year budget deal that's on the table now. it's got to pass the house, pass the senate, go to the president. i assume, brie aanna, if it pas the house and senate, the president will speedily sign it into law. >> reporter: we know they have
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been in such close consultation with senate democrats. you wouldn't expect patty murray to announce a deal that would be something the president wouldn't sign. we now know it does not include the unmomeemployment benefits. jay carney was asked last week if he would sign it if it didn't include that, he sidestepped that question. >> it doesn't look like the extended unemployment benefits will be included as part of this deal. there will be other opportunities down the road. brianna, thanks very much. our continuing coverage of the breaking news resoups right now with crossfire. this is cnn breaking news. welcome to crossfire.
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i'm van jones on the left. >> i'm s.e. cupp on the right. we have breaking news. >> but it contains a lot of stuff that republicans don't like and democrats don't like. let's go to dana bash. >> as you look, the headline is that there is a deal and that you have the republican budget chair standing next to the democratic budget chair, house and senate, hand in glove, saying that they worked on this together. that in and of itself is phenomenal given the atmosphere we have seen here in washington for years. it is not the grand bargain that we want and need in this country, but it is baby steps, a two-year deal to do away with those arbitrary forced spending cut and replace it with different cuts that congress would agree to that would be more acceptable to some democrats and some republicans depending on how they look at this.
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both of the lawmakers said this is not what they want, but they both said, look, we are in divided government. this is what we're going to get. >> dana, look, there's opposition on both sides of this deal, thoechlt can you help us understand what some of the concerns are from democrats and republicans? >> sure. let's start with some of the democrats, the liberals. they are not happy because of the way some of the changes are paid for is by forcing federal workers and those in the military to contribute more to their pensions. that's not something that a lot of democrats like. they also wish that there was an extension of unemployment benefits in this, that is not in this deal. on the republican side, you have a lot of conservative opposition from the outside, a lot of group, including the famous koch brothers who have really financed a lot of conservative campaigns writing a letter warning conservatives to vote against this because they like those forced spending cuts because it keeps spending down in a way that doesn't allow for members of congres