tv CNN Newsroom CNN November 14, 2012 9:00am-11:00am PST
after day to explain what happened in person. he has declined all of our questions so far because of scheduling, but his spokesperson did speak to me today. they are trying to make an interview happen because i got some questions still for the governor of florida. we're about six days away from the certification of the votes in florida. that's all i'm going to say about that. thank you, though, for watching. suzanne malveaux begins right now with "newsroom international." >> gearing up for the president and the press this hour. want to get right to it. the scandal that brought down the head of the cia, a looming financial crisis, and lingering questions about the deadly attack on the u.s. diplomatic mission in benghazi, libya. president obama expected to face questions about all of that and much more in the next hour. president pulling his first news conference since winning re-election. we'll bring you live coverage. this hour we're taking an
in-depth look at the issues likely to come up when the president meets with reporters. we'll hear from white house court reporter briana keiller and fran townsend and former governor of michigan jennifer granholm, host of "the war room" on current tv. the last time the president held an official news conference, rick santorum appeared to have the edge over mitt romney in republican primaries, and the first campaign reallily was two months away. that was back in march 6th. fast forward to today we want to bring in briana keiller. it's expected that the fiscal cliff is going to be a big topic, but also the scandal that broke about the former cia chief, david petraeus. how does the president essentially stay on message and move on to the economy? >> well, is he going to be trying to turn this to the economy, suzanne, but the fact is he will be definitely getting questions about the scandal, about general petraeus, and certainly about his faith in general allen, so that is going to be a topic. he will try to pivot to the economy and to talk about the fiscal cliff, which is obviously
his number one priority trying to get that resolved, and we also expect that he will be here talking -- or he will be asked about benghazi. this will be his first press conference since that september 11th attack in egypt that killed u.s. ambassador chris stevens and three other americans. as well, would you expect them to be asked about cabinet -- or, pardon me -- in libya, and you would expect him to be asked about the cab -- potential cabinet shake-ups as well. you said he hasn't had an extended press conference since march. that's true. there are a lot of outstanding questions, and he will be asked probably about all of them today, suzanne. >> imagine it's going to be taking a while to get through all of these, and the priorities -- i mean, you're right. he hasn't really faced the press for a lot of those tough questions in a long time. do we think that now entering a second administration he is going to feel more comfortable in taking questions from the press corps, or is he going to take a more friendly, you know,
audience when he goes to "the view" or late-night comedy shows instead? >> you know, i don't know. obviously we saw -- i don't think we're going to be seeing him as much on, say, "the view" and some of the lighter shows and doing as many -- quite as many local television interviews as we saw him do leading up to the campaign because, obviously, he was really trying to get his message out, but i think that when you look at how the white house approaches these press conferences, they're making obviously a calculation. when you look at a press conference involving the white house press corps, which is intensely familiar with the president's record, they calculate the down sides of potential missteps in a press conference. it's somewhat unprotectable. they have an idea of the questions that will be asked, but they don't totally know, and certainly during the campaign they felt that it was better for them to get their message out through social media and by doing local television interviews. certainly we'll be pressing to get more questions, but this
one, for instance, would have been highly unusual if he did not do this press conference following the election. this is pretty standard for a president, george w. bush did one. i think it was two days -- yeah, two days after he was re-elected. clinton, three days after. reagan, it was the morning after he was re-elected. here we are eight days later, and president obama is holding his. >> i believe bush said he had more capital and he intended spend that capital and he is going to use that. >> that's right. >> we'll see. >> memorable comment. >> absolutely. >> an issue that reporters president obama's press conference should bring up, that, of course, the sex scandal involving former director david petraeus, and his biographer paula broadwell. we're getting new details. cnn's national security contributor, member of the cia external advisory board. fran, nice to see you. i want to talk about this, some of the things that we have learned that are new here. the security concerns surrounding david petraeus's
relationship with his biographer broadwell. you have found out new information about why the fbi was actually searching her home in north carolina earlier in the week. what were they looking for, and what do they believe her role is? >> well, what we're hearing now, suzanne, is that david petraeus, at some point earlier on had designated broadwell as his archivist. that is, to be the re pos itory of sort of the documents related to his military career. you can imagine we often think of that in relation to prior presidents who have a library david petraeus was assembling and leaving his documents, and he had broadwell, worry told, doing that for him. pretty interesting, suzanne, because, of course, we heard from surrogates for david petraeus that the relationship ended four months ago, so it's a question as to why would you have continued to have her be the repositivetory for these documents? we saw a five-hour search at broadwell's home. many documents pulled out. we're looking at those pictures
now. clearly, the concern of the fbi is and has been are there classified materials there and if there are classified materials, where did she get them from? >> those are all important questions. we also know that broadwell spoke about her time shadowing petraeus during aspen institute panel, and she talked about really this balancing act. i want you to listen to what she said. >> i felt like i was almost held to a higher accountability because i could lose my clearance. yet, i wasn't trusted to sit on high level meetings and other meetings in the morning, listen to classified chatter of terrorist talk. i had that background anyhow, and i knew a lot of that information, and i knew it was important to form my writing, and i knew there was a clear line i couldn't cross when writing it out. >> if it's so clear because
retired military -- told me that when he was coordinating the military relief efforts after hurricane katrina, he asked for a writer to shadow him, and they told him no that this is not the type of thing that is allowed. do you see anything that is inappropriate in her role here. >> if you are the justice department having to make a presidential decision about the unauthorized leak of classified information. paula broadwell was a reservist. you heard her mention that. as a reservist, she hilary clintons we're told, top secret compartmented information clearance, but that clearance is only in place, if you will, active when she's on reserve duty. clearly when she was embedded and getting ready as her biographer to write a book that, doesn't apply. unless david petraeus walked her in and -- if the general brings her into a room before there's a
classified conversation, you really put the onus then on his suborder nants to raise the question of whether or not they can talk in front of her, and, of course, they're taking their signal from the general kwsh if he is bringing her in, it's implicit that they're able to speak in front of her, and i think this is a pretty complicated investigation both for the fbi and for the justice department. >> all right. fran townsend, thank you for break it down for us. appreciate it. well, president obama's news conference likely going to be dominated by questions about the latest scandals. there's still a large looming issue of the fiscal cliff. we have to take a look at what democrats and republicans can actually find some common ground. plus, who is jill kelly? we have new information about the woman tied to the downfall of america's top spy chief. and -- >> i didn't go to iraq with 60 marines that just wanted to go down and level a city. i went with 60 marines that wanted to improve a city, so why would it stop overseas? >> how one veteran is helping others with his war dance.
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turning to the middle east. aljabari's car came after benjamin netanyahu warned that israel would retaliate for the increased rocket attacks from gaza. this was a first in a series of air strikes. eight so far in gaza today. i want to bring in sarah who is joining us from jerusalem with the latest on this. this was a very big deal here. i mean, he was very important symbolically and also in the military. >> absolutely. s he was head of the military wing of the merl wing. he was killed today in an air strike along side another person inside of a vehicle. we are getting conflicting reports. one says that was his bodyguard. a website from the military wing says that was, indeed, his son. it could be one in the same person, but we do know that at least six people have been killed in air strikes. we now are up to 11 air strikes
over the past several hours. israel has been flying over gaza and hitting very targeted areas and looking for certain targets specifically. what we also know from israel is that they are prepared for a ground war. however, they have the boots, they have the soldiers, they have everyone ready, but they have not gone ahead and said go for it. right now they're just in a waiting position, a wait and see position. what we also know is that this is reaction from hundreds -- 120 rockets that have been fired over from gaza since saturday into israel that have damaged homes, damaged buildings, and injured about six so far civilians in israel. we are hearing from hamas saying that this will open the gates of hell on the occupied forces, referring to israel, so there is a lot of worry, obviously, from the civilians who live on the south right there on the gaza border in israel that they will
be, again, the targets of their fury and also hearing from israel that if they are attacked, israel will retality, and we're seeing the results of that right now, suzanne. >> what do we anticipate that's going to happen in the next couple of hours in terms of escalation here? >> well, we're just -- it's one of those things where we have to wait and see. i mean, both sides are saying if you attack us, we're going to attack you, and we've been seeing this for the past few days. this really all started on thursday with the death of a 13-year-old palestinian child who was outside playing football. he was killed by a bullet. there is different stories as to who may have killed him. the israeli military says that, yes, they were in the area, but they do not believe they're responsible for the death of that boy. however, witnesses and the e-mail tant groups inside gaza believe that israel was responsible for killing that child. they then responded. a militant group inside gaza sent an anti-tank missile into an israeli jeep. on the israel side of the gaza
boarder, injuring four soldiers. israeli responded that with more tank fire into gaza. that ended up injuring 30 people and killing four civilians, and here we then saw rocket after rocket after rocket coming in to israel. there is a lot of fear as you might imagine by civilians on both sides. wonder and worrying what this might mean, and if this is going to rachet up into a full scale war. suzanne. >> dangerous escalation. thank you very much, sarah. appreciate it. the president is meeting at the white house today with 12 of the most powerful ceos in the country. he is talking about the fiscal cliff. it's going to be his first public meeting with corporate leaders since being re-elected. now, among those attending the white house meeting general electric ceo american express ceo -- and the ceos of aetna, ford, ibm, proctor & gamble, honeywell, pepsco, and -- many leaders said they are holding back hiring and spending because they're worried about washington gridlock over the fiscal cliff.
what are we talking about here? .$7 trillion in tax hikes and spending cuts that's going to take effect next year if sknk and the president don't come up with a budget deal. nearly 90% of all americans will see an increase in taxes mechanics year. the average household will pay about $3,500 more a year in taxes. jennifer granholm is michigan's former governor and now host of current tv's "war the war room." you might remember her rouzing speech at the democratic national convention nominating president obama. it is now to the serious business of governing. jennifer, thank you for being with us. i know you bring that enthusiasm again to some of the big problems we have here. let's talk about the fiscal cliff, the democrats, republicans trying to figure out a way to avert this fiscal cliff by figuring out a way to agree on the budget. democrats want to raise the tax
rates on household incomes over $250,000. >> republicans under speaker boehner are saying, look, that's not going to happen. where is the wiggle room? how would you advise the president, the republicans to come up with something that's workable? >> well, you know, some sg is going to happen anyway, suzanne. if they don't reach agreement before the end of the year. those tax rates are going to go up, and the question is how long can the republicans in congress hold out once that happens, and they're going to be held responsible. there was a poll out yesterday that showed people will blame the congressional republicans for going off the fiscal cliff. people decide they had agreed with the president. the president has leverage. after the first of the year he is going to have more help in the senate, more help in the house, and he will have automatically higher tax rates, so the question will be will the republicans in the house and senate vote to lower the rates for the middle class because they will have gone up.
one way or the other it will be resolved. that $3,500 tax on families, it's not going to happen. the question is are they going to reach consensus before or after january 1st? >> it's the difference between the tax rates under president bush and also president clinton here. you mentioned the president having leverage. jennifer, do you think that he has a mandate going in. >> absolutely, i do. i do -- i mean, let me say something, suzanne, on that. president obama won by far more electoral votes and as it turns out now, with all the votes in, a significant amount of more popular vote. he has right now with millions still out outstanding of votes to be counted, he still has 3.3 million vote advantage. that is a huge mandate as he goes into these negotiations, so
that's leverage. >> do you think he should allow the fiscal cliff to happen? do you think he should call their bluff and say these should happen in phases and, therefore, i'm going to insist on this? >> i think -- well, i think he needs to be strong, and he needs to let them know if they take him over the cliff, it will be on them. those leaders in business, 80 of them, a big american multi-national corporation signed a letter that was posted in the "wall street journal" saying we have to have a balanced solution. >> the last three during the recession, who made -- 25% of state departments, the public employee benefits and pensions, but the state also benefitted from the government bailout for the auto industry. what kind of advice do you give here if you are looking at the president saying, look, we do have to make some serious cuts,
where do those cuts lie? >> i cut more out of government by far because it wasn't just the last three years. it was the loss of manufacturing jobs that caused shrinkage of our revenues to our economy, and we decided that we were going to cut based upon our values. what is it we must invest in that will keep a safety net for vulnerable people in the middle class? what is it that is nice but not necessary, and we based all of those decisions on what's going to create jobs in michigan, so i think that the federal government has to look at that. what is in the tax code that's been in there for years that may have been put in there at a time when it made sense, but it's an abbing nichl now, it's no longer serving the purpose of job creation. they need to go over all of that. >> we're going to have to leave it there. we're going to bring you back a little later, ask a couple more questions. thank you, jennifer. she identifies herself as a honor rather console general, but jill kelly is recognized as
part of a growing scandal involving the former cia director. we're going to take a look at the controversial figure up ahead. ♪ announcing the all-new 2013 malibu from chevrolet. ♪ with a remarkable new interior featuring the available chevrolet mylink infotainment system. this is where sophisticated styling begins. and where it ends? that's up to you. it's here -- the greatest malibu ever. ♪
now more the scandal that ended the career of general david petraeus as director of the cia. for the first time we are herring the voice of jill kelly. she is the woman whose complaint to the fbi led to an investigation of petraeus and his resignation over an extramarital affair. kelly called tampa police last weekend to complain about media presence on her lawn. listen. >> i'm an honor rather consul general, so i have involability. i don't know if you want to get diplomatic protection involved as well, but now because it's against the law to cross my property since this is now like involable. >> i'll let the officer know. >> thank you. >> kelly is an honor rather
consul to south korea. it's a symbolic position that kelly will lose if her situation becomes problematic. kelly has another high-ranking military official caught up in this petraeus scandal. general john allen is under military investigation for allegedly sending inappropriate e-mails to kelly. allen is the top u.s. commander in afghanistan who is nominated to become nato's supreme commander. he has denied any wrong doing. well, this is supposed to be his time to shine, and now only after a week after the re-election he has his hands full, of course, with the scandal as well. how is it going to, if it is, going to overshadow his initiatives? we'll ask our own fareed zakaria up next.
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now, from the scandal that brought down the cia director david petraeus, to the looming financial crisis involving the fiscal cliff. it's the persistent questions about the deadly attack in benghazi, libya. the president has not held an official press conference sense march, utility he had a few informal briefings. we have a lot to talk about here. let's take a look at the looming fiscal cliff. our ali velshi joining us here. we know the president met with at least 12 major ceos to talk about some of the things that they're going to be concerned about, the cuts, raising taxes. what do we suspect that they're going to be telling the president here? what's going to convince them to start letting go of some of that money in their investments and starting to hire again? >> well, think i they're going try to lay out their position for what they need to see in tax reform, and i think the president is going to say to them, you know, not a lot of these people are unfriendly to the president, but there are some people with whom the president has been adversarial,
and he will say to them put your guns back in your holster, gut on to your republican candidates and let them know that they need to come to the table. you can see there proctor & gamble, honeywell, pepsi, chevron, aetna, american express, honeywell. these are big, big companies. pepsi, ford. they're going to tell them what they need in order to invest, put more money in and start employing people. he is going to tell them what he needs in terms of getting congress to capital cooperate. you know, congress is probably more influenced by these companies than the white house is because these are funders on an ongoing basis, including organizations like the u.s. chamber of commerce with which the white house, as you know, has no relationship to speak of. >> now, one of the things we know that some of these groups, these ceos, poured more money into the republican races than the democratic races and essentially we're investing in beating the president, but for the most part when you look at that group there, they are, a, friendly with the white house, and there are no small businesses represented. do you think that's a problem for the president? why doesn't he have those people in the room?
>> there are a couple of groups that are not intdz in this conversation. small businesses are really opposed this idea of a tax increase on the wealthy because they say that a lot of small businesses run their incomes through their personal taxes and as a result this will have an impact on them. they don't want this tax the rich thing going on. then you have the grover norquists of the world who are against any tax increases, none of them have been invited to this, and as i said, the united states chamber of commerce which is down right hostile to the president and was very involved in defeating a lot of -- or attempting to defeat a lot. they weren't successful. this is a friendlier group. the bottom line is these are people who worked to the president. jeff immelt from g.e. has wording with the president. these are people who are prepared to sort of bridge that gap because i think they realize that in many cases the business community supported mitt romney, they wanted less regulation, they wanted more favorable terms. they didn't get that. they got now years. it's an important inflexion point in the american economy. they're going to have to work together. >> you know, ali, we've also
seen some disturbances in europe. i mean, people who are taking to the streets because of the measures there to cut spending. how does that impact what we're going to see here in the months to come? >> well, so we're growing in the united states at about 2% right now. right? hopefully we want to grow a little biltmore. if the fiscal cliff hits, it takes us down to negative growth next year. europe is the partner with whom as a group we deal the most in the united states, so it's imperative that europe doesn't get worse, and what you are seeing are protests across europe. you see them in spain, italy, greece. people protesting these austerity cuts. two things are going to happen. one is the president is going to use those images and say, look, we can't have the kind of austerity they've got in europe, so don't go overboard with the cuts that you're looking for, and, number two, we have to be very concerned that europe doesn't get substantially worse. it is worsening in some cases, and that could affect our economy here in the united states so, we need stability here at home. >> all right. thank you, ali. from dodging bullets to dancing on the stage, one veteran is using his military experience to enlighten others
struggled adjust to life at home in return from the war in iraq. he turned to his artistic side and created a ballet called the homecoming. photojournalist bob went to see how this is helping fellow soldiers adjust for our look at veterans. >> i'm a u.s. marine, iraq war veteran. i'm also the artistic director of exit 12 dance company. i started dancing at a smaller
studio, and that led to transitioning to a larger studio. >> as a typical american, i took a lot of things for granted. i wanted to see if i could do something totally different than being an artist. i had something to prove to myself. i also wanted to serve my country, and i joined the united states marine corps. in 2005 we were called to deploy to fallujah, iraq. we got back in 2006. six months after my girlfriend sat me down and said you're not okay. you're not the same person that i knew before the war. if you could really do anything in the world, what would you do? >> and beautiful -- >> i had this interest in choreography. i would start a dance company. >> nice. >> it wasn't a primary goal to talk about the military, but it just wasn't me not to put that part of myself in that work.
the whole tie-in is important, and it's allowed us to do community service to veterans. sfoo imagine all the sadness and the grief of the hero who isn't true. >> warrior writers is a group of military veterans that write about their experiences. >> we brought together a couple of veterans. they were very skeptical at the beginning, as was i, but in the end they were so emphatic about giving their stuff and seeing how it came together in movement. >> your life after death and message lives on. >> i get up every morning and i, again, know that i'm making a difference in somebody's life. >> nice job. yeah. i went 60 marines that wanted to
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just two aleve can keep pain away all day. when we got married. i had three kids. and she became the full time mother of three. it was soccer, and ballet, and cheerleading, and baseball. those years were crazy. so, as we go into this next phase, you know, a big part of it for us is that there isn't anything on the schedule. since ameriprise financial was founded back in 1894, they've been committed to putting clients first. helping generations through tough times. good times. never taking a bailout. there when you need them. helping millions of americans over the centuries. the strength of a global financial leader. the heart of a one-to-one relationship. together for your future. ♪
president obama will have to tackle a lot of complicated challenges over the mechanics fee yours, like the escalating tensions between israel and hamas, the bloody civil war that has killed 32,000 people now, pulling u.s. troops out of afghanistan, 68,000 still there, and china's growing influence on the world economy. how does he make headway? fareed zakaria, i want to start with breaking news in the middle east today. this is unbelievable. have you this flare-up now in the violence between israel and hamas and the militants there, they take out of one of the head leaders of hamas, a military leader. this following the dozens and dozens and dozens of rocket attacks that are coming from gaza strip into civilian-israeli neighborhoods. it really looks like this is escalate. where does this put the president now? >> it does look like it's escalating, and i think what the president has to on do is keep
pushing forward in the way he has with regard to trying to find a way to broker a settlement between the israelis and the palestinians. he does not have the power, the authority to -- it's important to understand the israelis and palestinians have to make peace themselves. the united states can play a role. it can encourage. as he found out when either side is really reluctant to do so, is insistent that they're not going to do so, there's only so much the united states can do, and i think he is going to find that to be the case here as well. you know, it's a crisis, and it will occupy our attention, but it won't stop the fact that the two sides are far away from the negotiating table. >> let's talk about afghanistan here. he is in charge of pulling out
68,000 troops by the end of 2014. do you think that the scandal involving general allen, involving the former cia director, david petraeus, is that going to have an impact whatsoever on the bigger picture here, the larger picture of the mission inside of afghanistan? >> yes, it is, suzanne. this is a real tragedy. it's a tragedy at a personal level for general petraeus who is a great american, but it's also a tragedy for precisely the reason you pointed out. this is a very tense period are. we're not only many the process of trying to figure out how to draw down these troops, but we're trying to figure out how to build up the afghan army in a way that doesn't produce the kind of problems we've had with afghan forces firing on u.s. soldiers. in other words, making sure we don't take the bad guys in as we're trying to expand the army. we're trying to figure out is there some way to negotiate with the palestinian and actually we had reached a very critical juncture with regard to that.
all that is now in flux so that the president is going to have to put back together a kind of new core team for afghanistan with, of course, perhaps it will be general allen, perhaps a replacement, but this is probably the area they need to move faster even than the secretary of state or secretary of defense because the taliban aren't going to wait. >> fareed zakaria, appreciate it. he was expected to provide key information, right, about the bengauze yea attack before the scandal, but the embarrassing affair is not going to stop the former cia director david petraeus now from taking a stand. having you ship my gifts couldn't be easier. well, having a ton of locations doesn't hurt.
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that attack, including ambassador christopher stevens. three committees are now set to hold closed-door hearings today. dana bash, who is live on capitol hill. dana, first of all, how is this going to work with petraeus? >> well, we expect him to come and testify, or maybe the better word is brief, members of the senate intelligence committee and likely members of the house intelligence committee. that is according to dianne feinstein who is the chairwoman. the question is when is that going to happen? we don't know that yet, but we reported yesterday that senators on that committee definitely wanted general petraeus or former director he petraeus to come and talk to them because they felt that that was a big stone left untender if he didn't with regard to what lael happened in benghazi. let me just tell you something that is happening as we speak. there's such a frenzy on capitol hill. that was about libya, but with
regard to the petraeus matter that forces resignation, the affair that he was having with his biographer, there was a briefing going on as we speak with the leaders of the house intelligence committee and the fbi. we expect there to be the number two of the fbi had come, but we were just told by our national security producer, pam benson, who is outside, that the fbi director robert mueller is here. he came personally to talk to them because as we've been reporting, there are a lot of ruffled feathers, to say the least, especially the heads of the intelligence committee about why they were not informed at all about this ongoing fbi investigation of general.yas or, forgive me, former director petraeus with regard to this affair. >> sounds like it's a smart thing to put the guy at the very top to answer those questions. tell us about nancy pelosi and what her future holds. >> very interesting morning. if not for this scandal, that would really be all the talk, the buzz, leading up to today
around the water cooler here on capitol hill. will she or won't she stay? she, of course, did decide she was going to stay for at least another two years as leader of the house democrats, and the image you see there on this screen, the imagery was kind of remarkable, suzanne. certainly we know and we have known that she has taken pride in the fact that she has -- is the highest ranking woman in history. she was the first female speaker of the house of representatives, but the imagery today of her surrounded by so many women, democratic women, obviously, in the house, currently serving newly elected women, really had not heard her hit that issue as hard as she did today, and, in fact, at one point when asked about why she wanted to stay, she sort of made a joke about the fact that if she didn't, that there would be four men around the table negotiating and can you imagine how horrible that would be? she quickly tried to make if a joke, but, you know, it was kind
of an interesting scene. there sent a precedent for this. sam rayburn stick around after he lost the speaker's gavel for four years, and he was able to get it back because he led his party back to the majority, and that's what she's hoping to follow. >> powerful pictures there. thank you, dana. appreciate it. the first press conference, the president to begin in 40 minutes or so. cnn has special coverage of the event. more team coverage when we return. e easy to remember. with the bankamericard cash rewards credit card, i earn 1% cash back everywhere, every time. [ both ] 2% back on groceries. [ all ] 3% on gas! no hoops to jump through. i earn more cash back on the things i buy most. [ woman in pet store ] it's as easy as... [ all ] one! -two. -[ all ] three! [ male announcer ] the bankamericard cash rewards credit card. apply online or at a bank of america near you.
president obama is going to go before reporters. it's his first news conference since he was re-elected. of course, we're going to bring it to you live when it begins. we want to talk about what we can expect. fran townsend and foreman michigan governor genfor granholm and host of the war room on current tv. keynote speaker of the democratic national convention as well. we want to bring in fran, first of all. want do you want to hear from the president today that would satisfy you that this scandal and the investigations involving
former cia director petraeus and general allen won't disrupt the work of national security. what do you want to hear? >> i many some respects the timing of the press conference given the scandal really is disruptive to the president's message on the economy. he can't have this press conference and not have to face these questions. i really think the only thing that he can say about it, i mean, is that he is going to honestly have the investigation that's being conducted by the d.o.d. inspector general as it realities to general allen and then authorize the leak of classified information investigation that's now being undertaken by the fbi and the justice department related to broadwell and petraeus is going to be followed to its endened every available lead and if there is prosecution or punishment that has to come from that in either case, is he going to see that that happens. the other thing will be the mof these investigations at the
senior levels of the military and that he and the secretary of defense are going to set the tone for the ethical and moral conduct of our most senior military officers. >> fran, real quickly here, there are less than 38 active u.s. generals of this stature around the world. how significant a blow is this that you have our top guy in the cia and the top guy in afghanistan now both on the sidelines? >> no, that's right. he has to assure that it won't distract the men and women of the cia or the military. it won't distract them from the day to day mission to protect this country. thank you very much. appreciate it, as always. want to bring in governor granholm. jennifer, what do you want to hear from the president in stermz of what kind of mandate he has and what he uses his leverage for going forward in the next four years? >> i expect that he will be extremely clear about what he is going to put on the table, that we have to have a balanced
solution as everybody has said but that we can't hurt the economy. he will put on the table a 106 trill job dollar proposed budget. it's the resolution that he has. there's a bill before congress that we should is and that the people expect that he will make sure that the highest end earners pay their fair share and the middle class is not harmed. it's going to be hard to stay on that message in light of everything that's happening with the petraeus affair, but i think he has got to be really focused and clear about what he intends to do to solve the fiscal cliff. >> what kind of tone do you think he should strooit strike to satisfy this totally diverse coalition of supporters who put him back into office? >> i think he has to be clear and firm. he needs to say the people send sent me. we were super explicit on the campaign trail about what we were going to do. i won an overwhelming amount of support from the voters,
overwhelming electoral mandate. we're going to complete that job, and the first thing on tap is to make sure that we have a tax structure that is fair. >> we're going to wrap this up real quickly here. the president was rewarded, the latino vote, overwhelming majority, and we've heard senator chuck schumer and lindsey gram. african-american voters also overwhelmingly support this president. do you think that he can be througher now to express specific concerns, economic hardships facing the african-american community? >> totally. i think he can. i think he can really robustly talk about how important it is to have jobs in urban areas, jobs for all kinds of people, and i think having an active government in partnership with big bis and he meeting those people today to make sure that we have jobs in aurban areas, the federal government can be a partner with state and local entities to make creative and
incentives for locating jobs in america. that is an opportunity for him, and i bet you he will talk about it. >> all right. jennifer granholm, thank you so much for your time. appreciate it. of course, a quick break, and we will have a special coverage straight ahead. i'm wolf blitzer in washington. also want to welcome our international viewers, our viewers in the united states and around the world. a scandal that's brought down the head of the cia, a looming financial crisis, and a lingerring question about the deadly attack on the u.s. diplomatic mission in benghazi, libya. president obama expected to face questions about all of that and more this hour when he meets with reporters over at the white house. he is scheduled to step up to the podium in about 30 minutes. you'll see all of it live right
here on cnn. we're bringing you special live coverage leading up to the president's news conference. i'm joined by our colleague suzanne malveaux. she's at the cnn center in atlanta. also, our panel here many washington. our chief political analyst gloria borger, donna brazil, and our national security contributor fran townsend, also a member of the cia's external advisory board. we also have our chief business correspondent ali velshi standing by in new york. our senior who will be at the news conference east room to get ready to ask questions. jess cardiacs i'll start with you. set the stage for us. how much concern is there at the white house right now that this general petraeus scandal could overshadow some of the other critical items on the president's agenda, especially the looming financial crisis.
he knows that will also be a topic of discussion with the meeting at the end of the week on friday with congressional leaders for fiscal cliff negotiations. i expect you will hear questions on all those issues, on the fiscal cliff, whether he will sit down and meet with speaker boehner one-on-one. will he take a more active role as fran townsend just brought up, setting a tone inside the military for ethical behavior inside the military. questions, no doubt, about benghazi, and how the second term will be different from the first term many terms of avoiding gridlock, making legislative process, and then we don't know about further questions down the road. he also pledged yesterday in a meeting with progressive leaders to make immigration reform top priority and move on it quickly. maybe he will be able to talk
about that coming up. >> that's about as much as this president gets to. we try to throw compound questions at him so we can get more insight on each question. >> and it gets to call on eight reporters, maybe each one of them could do two or three-part questions, and we'll get more information from the president. i know you have to go over to the east room. go go ahead. jessica, walk over there and get ready for your question or a three-part question, whatever you got. we'll check in with you shortly. let's bring in our panel right now. jessica, let me -- gloria, let me start with you right now. this is his first formal white house news conference, what, since march 6th. this is a president -- he doesn't like to do these news conferences, does he? >> no, he doesn't. just think, wolf. if he had actually had his post-election news conference directly post-election, he wouldn't have to be answering all of these questions about general petraeus and what's
going at the cia and, you know, the fbi and all the kinds of questions he now is going to answer -- have to answer about what he knew about this scandal and when he knew it and the implications for national security and what he is going to do about rejiggering his entire national security team because there's a big hole in the middle of it. this is not the sort of post-victory news conference he would have wanted. having said that, he will take this opportunity to try to pivot, change the subject a little bit, and talk about the thing that's so important, which is the fiscal cliff and i will think lay out his opening bid, if you will, which seems, by the way, to be sort of $1.6 trillion in tax increases over the mechanics ten years. you are talking about somebody that's saying no exchange. if you republicans want to just cap deductions for the wealthy, i'm not going to make a trade
with you on that many terms of how high my rates are going to go. my rates still need to go higher, and that's going to be his sort of opening salvo. >> will he follow, donna, in the footsteps of other democrats who say, you know what, go over the fiscal cliff, let the republicans be blamed, if you will, taxes will go up on everyone, including the middle class, and then you would start from scratch in the new congress that takes -- that convenes in early january. do you think he will be that bold and be willing to make that assertion? >> i don't want to make any news for the president. there's so much news out there and so many scandals, so i wouldn't want to make any news. the president will outline i'm sure his agenda for the second term. he is also going to lay out the framework for the discussion that is will surround the so-called fiscal cliff. i have seen some progressives call it a stair clays, not a cliff. we're not totally going overboard, but clearly it's an opportunity for us to do a lot of big things and now that we
have this russia of spending cuts as well as taxes that will go up, unemployment insurance expiring, et cetera, but the president, i'm sure, will address this recent controversy involving -- i get so excited when i have to talk about sex all week, but it's not the kind of sex that i like to talk about because it doesn't involve anything many my life. i've been reading about it, and the president will have to address that as well. >> there will be a lot of questions on general petraeus and general allen. right now there's a new crisis that's developed in the last few hours with israel and the palestinians and gaza. i assume there's going to be questions on that. i want everyone to stand by. this cult, as all of us know, is heading towards what's called the fiscal cliff. later today, the president will be meeting with business leaders to talk about ways to prevent economic disaster. ali velshi on what all of this means, what it could cost. we're going to be speaking with ali in a few moments as well as we wait for the president's first news conference since being re-elected. anne's tablet .
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we're waiting for president obama's first news conference hins sis re-election. it's his first formal white house news conference since march. let's bring in suzanne malveaux at the cnn center in atlanta. like me, suzanne, you used to cover the white house. you attended a lot of these presidential news conferences. you know what it's like for the reporters to prepare for the president of the united states to prepare. what are you anticipating as you look forward to this news conference that's supposed to be given at the bottom of the hour? >> i think a lot of us will be looking to see whether or not there are any hints as to how he will govern in the differences in the next four years. it was interesting the first week of the presidency pretty astonishing, right? he had a lot of executive offered. the lily ledbetter, and one that shut down guantanamo bay. we will see if he feels as if he really has some sort of mandate
here, that he is iffing to be able to govern, to move from the middle, but also to insist what this coalition of supporters has put on his plate. is he going to move forth on immigration reform? is he going to talk about specifically if he is asked whether or not there is going to be a benefit for a second obama administration for the african-american community and how they're doing economically? and also, you see this president over the last couple of weeks who is more emotional and we've seen him cry the last couple of times, the last couple of weeks. is he iffing to feel that he can be a little bit more of himself, more open and really own this administration, own his policy, and be a more comfortable president in the next four years? >> he got re-elected rather decisively, 332 electoral college votes. you only need 270 to be elected. he goes in right now with a lot of confidence, but, you know what, all that confidence in the world can't help if the country is about to go over the fiscal
cliff. >> yeah. you ow, i mean, it really is something when you think about it going in the second term that he is going to be dealing with something like this. there are some advisor who's say, yeah, call the bluff, go over the cliff. it's not going to be as bad as you think because you've got more leverage than you can imagine, but there are others who believe, look, you know what, this is going to be very costly. i want to bring in ali velshi to talk about this, and, ali, talk about the $7 trillion because we're talking those tax increases in spending cuts that people don't really even realize are going to take effect. its a bundle of things. some are the expiration of the take role tax holiday, and some of it is the sequestration because they couldn't get a budget deal. here's what will happen. 88% of households would see an increase in taxes, and they would see an average of $3,500 more in their annual taxes. this is not just income tax. this is taxes, deduction that is go away, things like that. now, suzanne, the biggest
increase is going to come to those making $108,000 or more. you'll see an addition of about $14,000. obviously at the lower end of the scale, you won't see that is correct but it's an inefficient way to increase revenue. what president obama is going to propose today is that he wants $1.6 trillion in additional revenue over ten years, but they're going to do it in certain ways. most of it is going to be on the backs of those earning more than $250,000. if it happens through the fiscal cliff, it will be an inefficient way of doing it, and that's part of the problem. he is showing some ability, some movement as wolf pointed out the other day, in his speech, he showed some flexibility. you're certainly seeing some flexibility from republicans, and these business leaders who are at the white house are going to see pressure on them to talk to republicans, to talk to congressmen, to talk to people they financially supported in the last election to say you guys have got to move a little bit. we cannot afford no compromise and no movement by the end of the year. >> how does it shake out here? you hear the republicans, you know, talking about closing tax
loopholes and limiting deductions, rather than raising taxes. do they get to the number they need to actually balance the budget? >> you don't get to the number you need if you believe -- if you have signed grover norquist's pledge to not increase any taxes. there is no way that that math works. there's no way -- it's just bottom line, you can't cut enough to get what you need. what president obama is going to ask for, as a starting offer, is $1.6 trillion in more revenue over ten years. almost $1 trillion of that is going to come from increasing, letting the bush tax cuts expire on the wealthy. another half a billion dollars is going to come on other taxes having to do with the wealthy. you're almost at $1.3 trillion of $1.6 trillion on just the wealthy. then it gets complicated. if the republicans will not agree to my tax increase or the closure of any loopholes, it's a nonstarter. >> all right. ali, huh. appreciate it. wolf, obviously that's one of the things everyone will be asking about is the fiscal cliff among other things, the scandal as well. >> it will be fascinating to
hear if the president uses the word that he is demanding increases in tax rates, the word rates, very, very important for so many of these republicans. as opposed increase in tax revenue. stand by for a moment. just want to remind our viewers, the last time the president held one of these full blown white house news conferences was way, way back during the republican presidential primaries, back in march. just a few minutes the president will speak from the east room for the first time since being re-elected. he is expected to address so many of these issues, including, of course, the looming financial crisis, and the scandal right now surrounding the former head of the cia. all of this coming up in 15 minutes. stay with us. it never gets dry . can your moisturizer do that? [ female announcer ] dermatologist recommended aveeno has an oat formula, now proven to build a moisture reserve, so skin can replenish itself. that's healthy skin for life. only from aveeno.
conversation. deal or no deal on the fiscal cliff before the end of the year? >> both sides are hardening, wolf, and it's looking maybe this is just the opening bid on both sides, and maybe it's emblet attic of a serious negotiation coming, but, you know what i would love to see what i'm going to suggest to republicans is let's do this out in the open. the president had a health care summit in february, i think, when was it, of 2010, and it got republicans together in front of the tv cameras, and the president, when he was elected, said he wanted to do these kinds of things out in the open. >> air all the -- >> let c-span air. >> if republicans are being obstructionist, then let's see it. if the president is the one who is not serious about budget cuts and republicans are concerned right now that the president is not putting any serious budget cuts on the tables, he is -- guess, what we're not going to go to the moon in the next five times in the next 20 years. wire not counting that either. there are lots of stuff we're not doing. the republicans are concerned
we're not seeing serious budget cuts coming from the president, and that's the real problem. >> don't hold your breath for all the live coverage of the back room negotiation that is are going to -- >> it's what the president said we should do. >> don't hold your breath for that. >> you would be foreseeing the president doing this out in the open, right? >> i don't need a videotaping of the republicans love gridlock and like being obstructionist. >> i'll be krarian. if they have -- as much as i love transparency, as a journalist, i want to see everything. if they're all catering and they're post urg for their constituencies, there won't be a deal. sometimes you need to go behind the scenes, work it out, and then announce what the compromise is. otherwise, there's not going to be a compromise. let me move on to fran before i let her run away from us. fran, hovering over all of this right now is the last thing i assume the president of the united states wanted with this crisis involving the cia director, general pet yashgs now gone. the man who was going to be the supreme allied commander in europe general john allen, his confirmation process now on
hold. all amidst allegations of sexual affairs of all of this kind of stuff. this is the last thing the president wanted to have to discuss right now. >> no. look rshgs anybody white house doesn't want either the president or the preference to deal with this sort of sorded salacious material. the president will hide between the age old bromide it's an ongoing investigation, dod inspector general has it. >> when he is asked, president, were you shocked that you were not informed by your people, people who work for you in the executive branch of the u.s. government that the head of the cia was being investigated, should you have been told? what does he say then? >> i think he pivots and avoids the question. when they say, with all due respect, you didn't answer the question. were you -- should you have been told over these months what was going on? >> and i think, wolf, he is going to -- look, i think white house staffs try to protect the president, right? they hold the information until
they can give him a complete story, and so whoever knew in the white house and whenever they found out probably didn't tell the president until the last moment. i think what you'll find the president to say sshgs look, i was certainly disappointed and then pivot to petraeus has had a storied and very credible and really colorful military career, very successful. of course, i was disappointed to see it end this way. we're grateful for his service, and we're going to await the outcome. >> did someone in the white house try to protect the president from alienating the head of the cia because of benghazi, because he didn't want to alienate someone who then might be a little too forthcoming on benghazi, whom you -- >> the president will -- i mean, that's -- >> no, but somebody on the white house staff may be able to. somebody in the cia. i think france is right. people do protect plausible deniability. >> the attorney general of the united states knew about this investigation -- they knew about it for months and months and months. they never mentioned it to
anyone at the white house -- they never mentioned it to the vice president, the national security advisor, the president, john brennan. there are a lot of questions that have to be answered right now. let's see if the president answers any of them or he does what fran says he might do, a pivot. we'll see if the reporters let him pivot. the scandal just one of the issues the president is expected to address in a few minutes. our special coverage of president obama's first news conference since his re-election, that continues right after this.
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brazil and alex, our national security credibilitior fran townsend, also a member of the cia's exteshl terminal advisory board. also joining us our chief business correspondent ali velshi is new york. our senior congressional correspondent dana bash and our chief white house correspondent jessica yellin, who is now inside the east room where the president will be walking in momentarily. only minutes away from the president taking the podium there in the east room of the white house. lingering questions about the mission in benghazi, libya. another question is cabinet. let's go to dana bash first. dana, he is almost certainly likely to be asked about his picks for treasury secretary twuf state, secretary of defense. >> what weigh do expect to hear questions about whether he will answer it as a different issue.
can i tell you there was a press conference through republicans, but two of whom are kind of his chief foes on particularly on this benghazi issue. john mccain and lindsey gram and on the issue of cabinet, they made very clear that they will do whatever it takes if the president who decides to nominate -- rice, to move her over to the state department that, they are going to say no way because they think that she was at the very least in their words incompetent with regard to the public remarks that she made that it turned out to be wrong about benghazi. that's where we stand on that. you and fran were talking earlier about the fact that the president certainly didn't know about what was going on with david petraeus until just a day before he resigned. right now on capitol hill the fbi and his deputy are here
briefing the heads of the house intelligence committee about that investigation because, guess what, they were not informed either. there's a lot going behind the scenes as the president is speaking publicly about the scandals that have really embroiled his administration. >> jessica yellin, inside the east room of the white house getting ready for the news conference, and getting ready for -- i assume the president will start, jessica, with an opening statement. is that your understanding? >> start with some opening remarks, wolf. i would point out that obviously, those of us in the media are very interested in asking him about general petraeus, asking him about dana's remarks about the ens dent in bengauze yea, sklg him about the negotiations on the fiscal cliff, but there is something worth pointing out that two years ago after another election he held a press conference and came in and had to address a different set of raults. he talked about the shell abbinging he took, and his position because of very different outcome in the election, and it will be interesting to see how his
posture is different, if it is different, this time because this time democrats didn't lose. they had a much more positive wrout come in their view. he won re-election. they see that as a gain in leverage for the president. we'll be watching for his mood, his tone, his body language on all of that, and how it will translate into his negotiating position with members of congress on all these issues. >> ali, the president will be meeting with major ceos after the news conference. i assume -- what do you assume their message to the president will be of avoiding the fiscal cliff, obviously, but will it be a similar message from all of them? do they speak with one voice?
>> these are not banks. ken from american express will be there, aetna obviously is a major insurer, but generally these are not banks. they're going to be talking about a couple of things. one is making keeping the tax regime such that these companies can afford to bring some money back and invest in america. making it attractive for them to do so. the other thing is i think they're going to try to have some peace talks about the fact that in general the business community which supported president obama in 2008 supported mitt romney in 2012. not all of these people, not the ceos, not necessarily their companies, but how they move forward as with one voice in avoiding the fiscal cliff and in getting america back on a greater growth track, including because of what's going in europe and a slowdown in asia.
what can corporate america do to make sure that hardline americans will comp myself a little bit because the president will be clear. he wants $1.6 trillion over ten years in new revenue and that has to mean tax increases particularly on the wealthy. wolf. it's interesting, fran, as we await the president, there's all of a sudden a crisis developing in the middle east. not libya, necessarily, or in syria, but between the israelis and the palestinians. hamas specifically. in gaza the israeli air strikes killed the top hamas military commander. i assume this issue will be coming up. the president will have to deal with this in some way. >> this is very delicate, wolf. as he steps out, this is -- we have rockets, we have attacks, we have the leaders killed, the military leader killed. this is a really delicate developing crisis.
>> the u.s. is trying to get a peace process going again, but it doesn't bode well, politically speaking. this could be problematic as well as we wait for the president? >> well, this is how a president is tested, and a gnaw strooigs, again, as he embarks on his second term, the kind of relationships is he iffing to have with republicans while the rest of the world sees us working all these things out. people take, i think, advantage of the uncertainty right here that we're seeing. >> gloria, you know, we heard from jessica earlier. the president will take eight questions. that means eight reporters will have a chance. i assume based on all the years i have been covering presidents he has a lites of reporters he knows which reporters he is going to call on going into this news conference. >> i assume he knows that, and i assume reporters are ready with a half a dozen questions because, of course, you don't know what questions will be asked first, what questions will be asked second, and reporters in the white house press corps, as you know, wolf, trying and
ask three questions in one so they can sort of ask their follow-ups while they're asking their initial question. >> do you want to suggest questions to reporters? >> we all do. >> here's the president of the united states. he is walking in right now. the reporters are standing up. he has opening remarks. >> good afternoon, everybody. please have a seat. i hear you have some questions for me, but let me just make a few remarks at the top and then i'll open it up. first of all, i want to reiterate what i said on friday. right now our economy is still recovering from a very deep and damaging crisis, so our top priority has to be jobs and growth. we've got to build on the progress that we've made because this nation succeeds when we've got a growing, thriving middle class, and that's the idea at the core of the plan that i talked about on the campaign trail over the last year.
rewarding manufacturers and small businesses to create jobs here, not overseas, providing more americans the chance to earn the skills that businesses are looking for right now keeping this country at the forefront of research, technology, and clean energy putting people back to work rebuilding our roads and bridges and schools, and dealing with the budget balance in a responsible way. we face a clear deadline that requires us to make some big decision on jobs, taxes, and deficits by the end of the year. both parties voted to set this deadline, and i believe that both parties can work together to make these decisions in a balanced and responsible way. yesterday hi a chance to meet with labor and civic leaders for their input. today i'm meeting with ceos of some of america's largest companies, and i'll meet with leaders of both parties of congress before the week is out. because there's only one way to solve these challenges, and that is to do it together.
as i've said before, i'm open to compromise and i'm open to new ideas. i've been encouraged over the past week to hear republican after republican agree on the immediate for more revenue from the wealthiest americans as part of our arithmetic if we're going to be serious about reducing the deficit because when it comes to taxes, there are two pathways available. option one, if congress fails to act by the end of this year, everybody's taxes will automatically go up, including the 98% of americans who make less than $250,000 a year, and the 97% of small businesses who earn less than $250,000 a year. that doesn't make sense. our economy can't afford that right now. certainly no middle class family can afford that right now. nobody in either party says that they want it to happen. the other option is to pass a law right now that would prevent
any tax hike whatsoever on the first $250,000 of everybody's income, and, by the way, that means every american, including the wealthiest americans get a tax cut. it means that 98% of all americans and 97% of small businesses won't see their taxes go up a single dime. america has already passed a law like this. democrats in the house are ready to pass a law like this. i hope republicans in the house come on board too. we should not hold the middle class hostage while we debate tax cuts for the wealthy. we should at least do what we agree on. that's to keep middle class taxes low, and i'll bring everyone in to sign it right away so we can give folks some certainty before the holiday season. i won't pretend that figuring out everything else will be easy, but i'm confident we can do it, and i know we have to. i know that that's what the american people want us to do.
that was the very clear message from the election last week, and that was the message of a letter that i received over the weekend. it came from a man many tennessee who began by writing that he didn't vote for me, which is okay, but what he said was even though he didn't give me his vote, he is giving me his support to move this country forward, and he said the same to his republican representatives in washington. he said he will back each of us, regardless of party, as long as we work together to make life better for all of us. he made it clear if he doesn't get enough progress, he will be back in touch. my hope, he wrote, is that we can make progress in light of personal and party principles, special interest groups, and years of business as usual we've got to work together to put our
difference as side. that's precisely what i intend to do, and with that let me open it up for your questions. i'm going to start off with ben filler of a.p. >> thank you, mr. president. can you assure the american people that there have been no braechz of national security or classified information in the scandal involving generals petraeus and allen, and do you think that you as commander in chief and the american people should have been told that the cia chief was under investigation before the election? >> well, i have no evidence at this point from what i have seen that classified information was disclosed that in any way would have had negative impact on our national security. obviously, there's an ongoing investigation. i don't want to comment on the specifics of the investigation. the fbi has its own protocols in terms of how they proceed.
and, you know, i'm iffing to let director mueller and others examine those protocols and make some statements to the public general. i do topt emphasize that general petraeus had an extraordinary career. he served this country with great distinction in iraq, afghanistan, and as head of the cia. business hen own assessment, he did not meet the standards that he felt were necessary as the director of the cia with respect to this personal matter that he is now dealing with his family and with his wife, and it's on that basis that he tendered his resignation and it's on that basis that i accepted it. but i want to emphasize that from my perspective at least he
has provided this country an extraordinary service. we are safer because of the work that david petraeus has done, and my hope right now is that he and his family are able to move on and that this ends up being a single side note on what has otherwise been an extraordinary career. again, i think you're going to have to talk to the fbi in terms of what their general protocols are when it comes to what started off as a potential criminal investigation and one of the challenges here is that we're not supposed to meddle many criminal investigations, and that's been our practice, and, you know, i think that there are certain procedures that both the fbi follow or d.o.j. follow when they're involved in these
investigations. that's traditionally been how we do things, in part, because people are innocent until proven guilty, and we want to make sure that we don't prejudge these kinds of situations. so my expectation is that they follow protocol that is they already establish. jessica yellin. where is she? >> mr. president, on the fiscal cliff, two years ago, sir, you said that you wouldn't extend the bush era tax cuts, but at the end of the day you did, so respectfully, sir, why should the american people and the republicans believe that you won't cave again this time? >> well, two years ago the economy was in a different situation. we were still very much in the early parts of recovering from the worst economic crisis since the great depression, and ultimately we came together not only to extend the bush tax
cuts, but also a wide range of policies that were going to be good for the economy at that point. unemployment insurance extensions, payroll tax extension, all of which made a difference and is part of the reason why what we've seen now is 32 consecutive months of job growth and over 5.5 million jobs created and the unemployment rate coming down. but what i said at the time is what i meant, which is this was a one-time proposition. what i have told leaders privately as well as publicly is that we cannot afford to extend the bush tax cuts for the wealthy. what we can do is make sure that middle class taxes don't go up, and so the most important step we can take right now and i think the foundation for a deal
that helps the economy, creates jobs, gives consumers certainty, which means gives businesses confidence that they're going to have consumers during the holiday season is if we right away say 98% of americans sht iffing to see their taxes go up. 97% of businesses are not going to see their taxes go up. we are absolutely removing half of the fiscal cliff. half of the danger to our economy is removed by that single step, and what we can then do is shape a process whereby we look at tax reform, which i'm very eager to do. i think we can simplify our tax system. i think we can make it more efficient. we can eliminate loopholes and deduction that is have a distorting effect on our economy. i believe that we have to continue to take a serious look at how we reform our entitlements because health care costs continue to be the biggest
driver of our deficits, so there is a package to be shaped, and i'm confident that parties -- folks of goodwill in both parties can make that happen, but what i'm not going to do is to extend bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% that we can't afford and according to economists, will have the least positive impact on our economy. >> you've said that the wealthiest must pay more. would closing loopholes instead of raising rates for them satisfy you? >> i think that there are loopholes that can be closed, and we should look at how we can make the process of deductions, the filing process easier, simpler, but when it comes to the top 2%, what i'm not going to do is to extend further a tax
cut for folks who don't need it which would cost lows to $1 trillion, and it's very difficult to see how you make up that trillion dollars if we're serious about deficit reduction just by closing loopholes and deductions. the math tends not to work, and i think it's important to establish a basic principle that was debated extensively during the course of this campaign. i mean, this shouldn't be a surprise to anybody. this was -- if there was one thing that everybody understood was a big difference between myself and mr. romney it was when it comes to how we reduce our deficit, i argued for a balanced, responsible approach and part of that included making sure that the wealthiest americans pay a little bit more. i think every voter out there understood that that was an important debate, and the majority of voters agreed with me. by the way, more voters agreed with me on this issue than voted for me.
we've got a clear majority of the american people who recognize if we're going to be serious about deficit reduction, we've got to do it in a balanced way. the only question now is are we going to hold the middle class hostage medical record to go ahead and let that happen? or can we all step back and say here's something we agree on, we don't want middle class taxes to go up. let's go ahead and lock that in. that will be good for the economy. it will be good for consumers. it will be good for businesses. it takes the edge off the fiscal cliff, and let's also then commit ourselves to the broader package of deficit reduction that includes entitlement changes and it includes potentially tax reform as well as i'm willing to look at additional work we can do on the discretionary spending side. i want a big deal. i want a comprehensive deal. i want to see if we can, you know, at least for the foreseeable future provide certainty to businesses and the
american people so that we can focus on job growth, so that we're also investing in the things that we need, but right now what i want to make sure is that the taxes on middle class families don't go up, and there's an easy way to do that. we could get that done by next week. >> thank you, mr. president. on immigration reform, the criticism in the past has en that you did not put forth legislation with specific ideas and send it up to the hill. this time around you have said again that this will be one of the top priorities for a second term. will you then send legislation to the hill? and k3b8 what do you envision as broad immigration reform? does that include a legalization program? also, what lessons, if any, did democrats learn from this last election and the latino vote?
>> i think what was incredibly encouraging was to see a significant increase in latino turnout. it is the fastest growing group in the country and historically what you have seen is latino votes at lower the broader population and that's beginning to change. you are starting to see a sense of empowerment and civic participation that i think is going to be powerful and good for the country. and it is why i'm very confident that we can get immigration reform done. before the election i had given a couple of interviews where i predicted that the latino vote was going to be strong and that that would cause some reflection on the part of the republicans about their position on immigration reform. i think we're starting to see that already. i think that's a positive sign. this is not historically been a partisan issue.
we've had president bush and john mccain and others who have supported comprehensive immigration reform in the past, so we need to seize the moment. my expectation is that we get a bill introduced and a bill intr begin the process in congress, very soon after my inauguration. and, in fact, some conversations i think are already beginning to take place among senators and congressmen and my staff about what would this look like, and when i say comprehensive immigration reform, it is very similar to the outlines of previous efforts of comprehensive immigration reform. i think it should include a continuation of the strong border security measures that we have taken, because we have to secure our borders. i think it should contain serious penalties for companies that are purposefully hiring undocumented workers and taking advantage of them and i think there should be a pathway for
legal status for those who are living in this country, are not engaged in criminal activity, are here simply to work. it is important for them to pay back taxes, it is important for them to learn english. it is important for them to potentially pay a fine. but to give them the avenue whereby they can resolve their legal status here in this country i think is very important. obviously making sure that we put into law what the first set that we have taken administratively dealing with the dream act kids is very important as well. one thing i'm very clear about is that young people who are brought here through no fault of their own, who have gone to school here, pledged allegiance to our flag, want to serve in our military, want to go to school and contribute to our society, that they shouldn't be under the cloud of deportation. that we should give them every opportunity to earn their
citizenship. so there are other components to it obviously, the business community continues to be concerned about getting enough high school workers and i am a believer that if you got a ph.d. in physics or computer science, who wants to stay here and start a business here, we shouldn't make it harder for them to stay here. we should try to encourage them to contribute to this society. i think that the agricultural sector obviously has very specific concerns about making sure that they have got a workforce that helps deliver food to our table. so there are going to be a bunch of components to it, but i think whatever process we have needs to make sure border security is strong, needs to deal with employers effectively, needs to provide a pathway for the undocumented here, needs to deal with the dream act kids, and i think that's something we can get done. >> chuck todd. where's chuck? >> mr. president, i just want to
follow up on a couple -- ben's question and jessica's question. on having to do with ben's question -- >> what about lori's question? >> no, i feel like you answered that one completely. are you withholding judgment on whether you should have known sooner that there was a potential -- that there was an investigation into whether your cia director potentially there was a national security breach with your cia director? do you believe you should have known sooner or are you withholding judgment until the investigation is complete on that front? and the follow-up to jessica's question, tax rates. are you -- is there no deal at the end of the year if tax rates for the top 2% aren't the clinton tax rates, period? no ifs, ands or buts on that specific aspect of the fiscal cliff? >> i am withholding judgment with respect to how the entire
process surrounding general petraeus came up. and we don't have all the information yet. but i want to say i have a lot of confidence generally in the fbi, and they have got a difficult job. and so i'm going to wait and see to see if there is any other -- >> do you think in hindsight you should have known? >> well, i mean, chuck, what i'll say is it is also possible that had we been told, then you would be sitting here asking a question about why were you interfering in a criminal investigation? so, you know, i think it is best right now for us to just see how this whole process unfolds. with respect to the tax rates, i just want to emphasize, i am open to new ideas. if the republican counterparts or some democrats have a great
idea for us to raise revenue, maintain progressivity, make sure the middle class isn't getting hit, reduces our deficit, encourages growth, i'm not going to just slam the door in their face. i want to hear -- i want to hear ideas from everybody. look, i believe this is solvable. i think fair minded people can come to an agreement that does not cause the economy to go back into recession, that protects middle class families, that focuses on jobs and growth, and reduces our deficit. i'm confident it can be done. my budget frankly doesn't. i understand that i don't expect the republicans simply to adopt my budget. that's not realistic. i recognize we have to compromise. as i said on election night, compromise is hard. and not everybody gets 100% of
what they want and not everybody is going to be perfectly happy. but what i will not do is to have a process that is vague, that says we're going to sort of kind of raise revenue through dynamic scoring or closing loopholes that have not been identified, and the reason i won't do that is because i don't want to find ourselves in a position six months from now or a year from now where lo and behold the only way to close the deficit is to sock it to middle class families. or to burden families that have disabled kids or, you know, have a parent in a nursing home. or suddenly we got to cut more out of our basic research budget that is the key to growing an economy in the long-term. so that's my concern. i'm less concerned about red
lines per se. what i'm concerned about is not finding ourselves in a situation where the wealthy aren't paying more or aren't paying as much as they should. middle class families one way or another are making up the difference. that's the kind of status quo that has been going on here too long and that's exactly what i argued against during this campaign, and if there is one thing that i'm pretty confident about, the american people understood what they were getting when they gave me this incredible privilege of being in office for another four years. they want compromise. they want action. but they also want to make sure that middle class folks aren't bearing the entire burden and sacrifice when it comes to some of these big challenges. they expect that folks at the top are doing their fair share as well and that's going to be my guiding principle during these negotiations but more importantly during the next four years of my administration.
nancy cordes. >> mr. president, on election night you said that you were looking foard to speaking with governor romney sitting down in the coming weeks to discuss ways that you could work together on this nation's problems. have you extended that invitation? has he accepted and in what ways do you think you can work together? >> we haven't scheduled something yet. i think everybody forgets that the election was only a week ago and i know i've forgotten. i forgot on wednesday. so i think everybody needs to catch their breath. i'm sure that governor romney is spending some time with his family. and my hope is before the end of the year, though, we have a chance to sit down and talk. there are certain aspects of governor romney's record and his ideas that i think could be very
helpful. and, well, to give you one example, i do think he did a terrific job running the olympics. and, you know, that skill set of trying to figure out how do we make something work better applies to the federal government. there are a lot of ideas that i don't think are partisan ideas, but are just smart ideas about how can we make the federal government more customer friendly how can we make sure that we're consolidating programs that are duplicative. how can we eliminate additional waste? he presented some ideas during the course of the campaign that i actually agree with. and so it would be interesting to talk to him about something like that. there may be ideas that he has with respect to jobs and growth that can help middle class families that i want to hear.