tv Happening Now FOX News November 16, 2012 8:00am-10:00am PST
hundreds and thousands of people put their lives on the line to bring people to freedom. check that out. martha: fascinating. great work. thank you bill we look forward to that. have a nice weekend. bill: right on. great weekend. martha: "happening now" starts right now. former cia director david petraeus testifying before committees on capitol hill. he's answering questions that lawmakers have about the deadly terror attack on the u.s. consulate in libya. four americans murdered during that assault on september 11th including our ambassador. at a closed door hearing, it's happening just a week after the general admitted having an extramarital affair and stepped down as cia director. that is not the focus of today's hearing, the affair. today he's answering questions about what the administration knew about the attack and when they knew it. we'll have much more on his testimony in a moment. brand-new stories and breaking news. jon: a major meeting at the white house, president obama and
congressional leaders starting to talk about how to avoid billions of dollars in tax increases and spending cuts, set to go into effect january 1st. the maker of twinkies, ding dongs and wonder bread closing down. how super storm sandy happened, what we can learn from the disaster, it's all "happening now." good morning to you on this friday. i'm jon scott. jenna: happy friday nice to have you back on the set with us. jon: thank you. jenna: a long week. jon: a little time away. jenna: we are glad to see everybody on this friday. i'm jenna leave. we'll get back to one of our top stories now. new testimony on the deadly terror attack in libya from the former kia director. general petraeus going before the house and senate committees,
he's doing that right now a week after he admitted to an extramarital aeu fir an affair and resigned. that scandal is not the focus of the hearings but something we are keeping an eye on. lawmakers wanting to learn why it took so long to get an accurate assessment where four americans were murdered, particularly when the attack was initially blamed on a video protest. catherine herridge follows the story from capitol hill. what did we learn from the hearing this morning. >> reporter: thank you, jenna and good morning. let me lay it out for you. general petraeus the former cia director testified in a closed, classified session before the house intelligence committee for the better part of two hours. it began with a broad, opening statement about 20 minutes where he did address the issue of his affair which he said he very much regretted. if there is one take away from the hearing based on conversations with lawmakers is that they really zeroed in on these talking points about the
consulate attack on 9/11 that were prepared by the cia and lawmakers told fox after that briefing that there was a significant difference between the talking points prepared by the cia and what was ultimately embraced to am bass sore susan rice. what we mean here is there was a review process and an editing process in which the emphasis on extremist groups, al-qaida, an sar al says sharia was deemphasized in the second version used by ambassador rice. at what point did the former cia director believe that this was an act of terrorism or an act of extremists? a s*r member of the committee told fox a sort time ago was what the director laid off was an evolving picture on intel kwrepbs. >> he reinforced the facts -- in the first 24 hours he felt at
that point, or the cia felt at that point that this was a protest as a result of what happened with the film. he clarified that after -- after more information came in there was not a protest. >> reporter: one lawmaker telling fox after the hearing that he did feel that there were discrepancies between the former cia director's statements today about what he said on september 14th, and the recollection of that lawmaker. let's listen. >> his testimony today was that from the start he had told us that this was a terrorist attack, or there were terrorist involved from the start. i told him -- i have a very different recollection of that. the impression we were given was the overwhelming amount of evidence was it rose out of a spontaneous demonstration. >> reporter: the one question that has been raised in the hearing today, and also in these
classified hearings on thursday and capito on capitol hill is ultimately who made the changes to the talking points provided to ambassador susan rice. her statements on september 15th five days after the attack were very much in line with the view that the anti-islam video was the catalyst for the attacks from a demonstration spun out of control. what is clear now is there was absolutely no demonstration at the consulate at the time it was attacked, jenna. jenna: -ts hearing is on going right now. we'll continue to watch for lawmakers coming out of the hearing. we will be speaking with one in a few moments as it ends. catherine back to you as news develops throughout the day. thank you very much. >> reporter: you're welcome. bill: fox news alert. an air raid -- fox news alert now air raid sirens sounding in jerusalem signaling a possible rocket attack aimed at the holy city.
this as rockets fired from gaza target tel-aviv. leland vittert is live from the israel-gaza border for us right now. leland. >> certainly, jon what we're seeing right now is a majorress ka lace. there hav major escalation. there have never been rockets fired, first time in 20 years on tell louisiana sreufplt it's going to elicit a very strong response from israel here along the border we continue to take incoming fire. there is an eerie feeling of sorts around here that an all out ground offensive by israel is imminent. there is so much take of the iron dome interest septembering missiles but it's not perfect and it doesn't work this close to gaza where home-made rockets fly out there is not time. it impacted right here a couple of yards from a house. you see what it did to the whole barbecue area. had there been people out here they won't have stood a chance. to give you an idea as to what
it would do to a person if somebody was standing out here. this is the wall of the house and you can see where the strap tphashap knellvan knel shrapnel embedded itself. had you been outside this would have been you, ten seconds life or death. >> ten seconds. >> reporter: we've seen a number of them driving down, we are only 4 or 5 yards from the border. you have israeli personnel carriers, and the tanks. the key to this position is you see all the rows of trees there where they are moving these in and all the trees are giving them a little bit of cover so they can stage the weapons without having the palestinians being able to take a shot at them. now whether israel moves those tanks and armored personnel
carriers into position to fire on the gaza strip is still yet to be determined. the israelis say they don't want to launch a ground offensive but just in the past couple of hours the egyptian prime minister went inside the gaza strip to try and negotiate some type of cease-fire. that so far has not happened. tonight, jon air strikes are continuing to pound away at gaza strip a at the same time the gaza militants are continuing to launch rockets out. back to you. jon: a very tense time there. leland vittert covering it all. thank you. can a full-blown war are avoided and what test the escalating violence does to america. the israeli tanks are massing. it appears they are poised for an invasion of gaza, that doesn't necessarily mean it will take place. what is the next step here?
>> to me clearly, jon it's going to get worse before it gets worse, because the goals that harass and israel have are fundamentally opposed to one another. the israelis are determined as they did in 08 and 0 the this time to avoid a ground war and create deterrence, to force hamas to understand that there is a punishing cost for using these high trajectory weapons. hamas is determined to survive, keep themselves intact no matter what the israelis do and pick up political points from the egyptians, the turks, all of which legit myselfed and sanctioned hamas' resistance. the key here it seems to me is whether or not the egyptians can find a way to lean on hamas sufficiently and whether or not the israelis are prepared to give the egyptians additional time and space to do so. that really is the dynamic in play here today. jon: so far the rhetoric out of
the new president of egypt seems to be supportive of the palestinians. >> not seems to be, it is. he's withdrawn the ambassador. he wants to push the issue into play at the u.n., he's summoned the arab league. morisi does not he ban to attach himself to hamas let alone to the jihaddist groups, smaller ones that are operating in gaza. he has a loan that they are negotiating, a billion-plus in military assistance from the united states. he's got multiple audiences on this. he's going to appear supportive. the question is can he bring his influence? remember, the muslim brotherhood is in fact the foundation stone from which hamas emerged. he does have influence with hamas. they share a common border. hamas has to give some credibility to what he wants and to what he said. the question is, how much time do we have before this escalates to a ground incursion?
jon: the palestinians profess they want their own state. hard to argue that you deserve statehood when you're launching rockets at your neighbor. >> you have three states between the mediterranean and the jordan river. have you a weak and dysfunctional palestinian authority which controls 40% of the west bank. you have a highly centralized hamas which controls gaza and you have israel. before anybody can talk about negotiating for statehood you're going to have to have one unified palestinian national movement that has control over the guns and its own negotiating position. we are a long way away from that. jon: all right. aaron tkeufd miller it's always good to have you on. thanks for your expertise today. martha: certainly one of the biggest stories of the day as gaza militants fire rockets towards tel-aviv, israel's commercial hub. we wanted to give i context about the city and what it means to have rockets hit around there. tel-aviv is located 37 miles
from the gaza strip. its population is about the size of dallas, texas with around 1.2 million people. the surrounding area, though, if you look at the suburbs, we are talking about 3.3 million people and that is nearly half the size of the entire israeli population. so far the rockets have only reached the outskirts of this area, but a direct strike on tel-aviv would mark the first time gaza rockets have reached the city and that would mark a significant escalation. more on that as we get it. in the meantime we have more breaking news for you now out of the gulf here stateside. the coast guard has said that it is now investigating a fire at an oil-drilling platform off the coast of louisiana. an owe a parish official says the rig is not drilling at a deepwater site like we saw, for example with the bp incidents. obviously the coast guard is giving this plenty of attention.
we are reaching out to the coast guard, where is this. what is the extent of this fire if there is one that they are investigating, so we'll have more breaking news out of louisiana in a moment. jon: while the violence in the middle east is dominating the headlines right now there is other major news overseas. china picks a new leader as the obama administration increasingly turns its attention to asia. we'll discuss what the u.s. can expect from the new man in charge in china. plus, imagine surviving this crash, a mother and daughter lucky to be alive after a collision with a hit-and-run driver. thanks to a very quick reaction. we have the videotape showing how they made it out. also, with the fiscal cliff looming and a second obama administration ahead, what questions do you have on the economy? ben stein comes to the hot seat today to answer your questions. send them to us via twitter at "happening now" or at jenna fnc.
oh, let me guess --ou see this? more washington gridlock. no, it's worse -- look, our taxes are about to go up. not the taxes on our dividends though, right? that's a big part of our retirement. oh, no, it's dividends, too. the rate on our dividends would more than double. but we depend on our dividends to help pay our bills. we worked hard to save. well, the president and congress have got to work together to stop this dividend tax hike. before it's too late. do you have the coverage you need? open enrollment ends friday, december 7th. so now's the time to get on a path that could be right for you... with unitedhealthcare medicare solutions and plans including aarp medicarecomplete,
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jon: right now some incredible surveillance video shows a modern day superman coming to the rescue. take a look at this. in milwaukee a car races through a stop sign slams into an suv trapping a mother and her toddler daughter inside the wreckage. a man then rushess outside after hearing the collision in front of his home. you can see him highlighted here. he manages to pull the toddler out of her car seat. other neighbors rushing to help getting the mother out. incredibly both mother and daughter are able to walk away. they are now doing fine. police are looking for that hit-and-run driver. jenna: unbelievable video there. turmoil is rocking the middle east. again one of our top stories of the day. many of america's top cabinet members are in asia ahead of the president's trip there this weekend to cambodia. he will be the first sitting president to make that trip and visit that country. this is part of the president's determination to pivot east.
it's also happening on the same week that china has elected a new leader as well. let's bring in gordan chang offer of the coming collapse of china and nuclear showdown with china takes on the world. good to have you with us. we have so much tunnel vision with our own election. this is a very big election in china what do we need to know about it. >> this is the fourth generation giving away to the fifth xi jinping. the politburo standing committee, a seven member group it's going to be dominated by at least your conservatives who are really hard liners, or maybe even six of these hard liners. jenna: what does that mean when you say hard liner in china what does that mean? >> these are the guys antireform who are taking a very tough position against neighbor about japan. you talked about the japan riots, also against the united states. they see the u.s. as trying to contain china which is ridiculous. the united states has tried to
integrate china into the international system. the hard liners have lost touch with reality in a sense. jenna: there is so much happening around the globe. a lot of our attention right now is focused on the middle east. we see some of our top officials, including the president traveling to asia, is that a good move or strategy at this moment? >> that's a good strategy in the sense that we really need to pay much more attention to the periphery around china these countries are asking the u.s. for more leadership. as you point out this is the first time a sitting american president has visited burma and cambodia. you have secretary clinton who is there, defense secretary panetta. the other thing we've got to remember is this is not the only part of the world that needs attention, because while we are looking at asia and that is a really good thing the chinese are trying to take one of our bases in the azors, and if they do that they will be dominant in the atlanta atlantic. jenna: which base is that. >> own an island called tecerra where we are going to cutback
and call it a ghost base. the chinese are looking, they want that base. from that base they can control the mediterranean, interdict shipping in the atlantic and they are only 3,200 miles from where we are sitting in new york. jenna: what is stopping them? nothing will stop them if we decide to leave that race because of budget reasons. that's why sequestration is so important because the military is holding down fort around the world where we rely on our security. jenna: we'll have to pay closer attention to that. i want to ask you as well about something we saw or learned about this week. north korea using a chinese ship sending missile parts to syria. we've talked about the relationship between north korea and the middle east before. this is the first we've heard of this and this happened a couple of months ago. what do you make of it, what is the involvement we need to watch. >> this is a continuation of a trend because the north koreans have been not only selling missiles but nuclear reactors.
the reactor destroyed in 2007, that was a north korean reactor. iran paid for it. the united states has not been paying enough attention to north korean proliferation. jenna: there is so much to watch, gordon how do you prioritize. >> that is the real problem, the crises is come one right after the other. it will be very difficult for the administration or even a bunch of countries to be able to deal with this because there is too much happening all at once. jenna: it certainly feels that way. you give us a lot of thins to think about. it's good to have you on set. thank you. appreciate it very much. jon: a couple of icons of the american lunch box could be no more. we might be seeing the last of the twinningees and ding dongs, say it ain't so. plus avoiding the fiscal cliff, which side has the upper hand as the president sits down with leaders from both parties. debate, fair & balanced coming up.
jenna: an american company, one you know well, hostess the maker of twinkies and wonder bread says that's all folks, it's going out of business. rick folbaum is here to tell us why. >> reporter: the company made it clear, get back to work or we're shugt the whole company down. that seems to be what happened. the two hedge funds that own hostess said they couldn't afford to stay in business during a long workers' strike. thousands of employees went on strike last week over proposed cuts to salaries and benefits. unions repping those workers said executives at hostess were getting massive 2, 300% raises while workers' pay was getting clashed. all hostess employees will be laid off. hose ses has been in the process of rebuilding after two recent bankruptcies. the company that makes twinkies,
wonder bread and other iconic brands says many people are more health conscious now. moms and dads are more likely to put carrot sticks in lunch boxes than a twinkie or a ho-ho. jenna: it was always a nice surprise, every once in a while you get the hostess cupcake in your lunch with an apple. jon: fox news alert and strong language from republican congressman peter king. the congressman now saying former cia director david petraeus stated that he knew the benghazi attack was terrorism, and that the talking points begin to ambassador susan rice were different from the ones prepared by the cia. petraeus stated that rice's talking points were edited to deemphasize the possibility of terrorism. king will be a guest on "america live" later today. >> the final ones just said
indications of extremists. it said indicate even though it was clearly evidence to the cia that there was al-qaida involvement. they said it goes through a long process an interagency process and when it came back that had been taken out. jon: king also said that the talking points the cia prepared were also passed around among other intelligence agencies, perhaps altered before they went to ambassador king -- rice, rather. >> i wanted to make sure that we are able to cooperate together, work together, find some common ground, make some tough compromises, build some consensus to do the people's business, and what folks are looking for, and i think all of us agree on this is action. they want to see that we are focused on them, not focused on our politics here in washington. jon: right now at the white house the president is meeting with congressional leaders in a push to avoid the so-called
fiscal cliff that comes january 1st, that's when massive tax hikes and mandatory budget cuts kick in. taxes and cuts that could sink an already weak economy. most economists agree on that. who has the upper hand at this point with time very much running out? monica crowley, is a radio talk show host. judy roginsky, both are fox news contributors. it seems to be, congress, republicans you need to do it my way. >> it does seem that he has the upper hand. but that is not to say that the republicans should just cave n. we are talking about two major sacred principles for the republicans here, not raising taxes and cutting spending, getting government spending under control. both of those things need to be in play. when john boehner talks about
raising revenue he's willing to do that if it only comes in the form of tax reform, not raising tax rates, but actually lore erring tax rates, closing loopholes, broadening the base and you will get more money coming into the treasury. the other part of the equation that is so important which has not been part of the public conversation is cutting spending, not just slowing the rate of growth but actually cutting spending to try to get this deficit under control. i know the republicans don't control the narrative on this but i want to hear more from them on that side of the equation. jon: julie our nodding your head you must agree. >> i think both sides need to come to the table. enough already with these sort of, you know, showmanship, game man ship, these are people's lives that are at stake in this economy. monica is right in that the president does control the upper hand at this point. if nothing is done all the bush tax rates will expire. you have exit polling coming out of the recent election saying two-thirds of the american people who voted support raising
some taxes, not all people support raising all taxes. people do understand that we need to contribute to the tax base in terms of higher tax revenue and in terms of higher tax rates, at least on the highest marginal tax rates. at the same time you have a president that i think has already shown he's willing to compromise on the spending side. he has put on the table as recently as a year and a half, two years ago to do something to address medicare spending and social security. a lot of democrats weren't happy with that. he did come to the table to do that in the grand bargain debates we had a year and a half. >> this president is u.n. serious about cutting spending. he has delivered a record-breaking four years of hi-def sits. we are at $16.2 trillion. he is not interested at all in cutting spending. the fault with the republicans lies in allowing the president to grab a hold of the conversation and just be talking about tax rates, rather than actually talking about spending. this country doesn't have a revenue problem.
plenty of revenue coming in, what we have is a spending problem. one month alone last month, jon, the month of october, this government had 120 billion-dollar deficit in just one month. the spending has got to stop. never mind revenues. the american people are taxed enough, this is about cutting spending. >> here is the problem for the republicans and i actually feel for john boehner in this. he's got a caucus, eric cantor and paul ryan undermining anything he's going to do in terms of negotiations. nor kweus said no compromise, no way know-how. you have bobby tkopbl in virginia, colleagues of ours, bill crystal a conservative saying why don't we get off this whole notion of no way know-how and at least talk about potentially raising revenue rates on the upper, upper, upper easterners here. john boehner is in a bind because he's not going to be able to do that based on his own caucus, it's not the president who is the problem it's john boehner's lack of control of his own party. jon: you hear john boehner telling the president to show some leadership. >> i hope he goes to his caucus
and is able to corral them. >> if you want economic growth you lower taxes. jon: julie and monica, thank you. >> thank you. jon: and we'll be right back. [ man ] ring ring... progresso this reduced sodium soup says it mahelp lower cholesterol, how does it work? you just he to eat it as part of your heart healthy diet. step 1. eat the soup. all those veggies and beans, that's what may help lower your cholesterol and -- well that's easy [ male announcer ] progresso. you gotta taste this soup.
four people were killed. more than a dozen others injured. casey seeing fell live in midland, texas, with more on this tragedy. casey? >> reporter: yeah, jon, union pacific railroad spokespeople said the gaetz and warning lights were functioning. i talked to a eyewitness who tells me the parade float which was essentially a 18-wheeler flatbed semi was halfway through the intersection when the gates did come down on top top of the flot but clearly there was not enough time. investigators with the ntsb, or national transportation safety board are on the ground here trying to get to the bottom of what happened. federal teams flying in from washington to look into this matter. this was the 9th annual show of support parade here in midland, texas. the float carrying 12 wounded war veterans and their spouses headed from a local hotel in town to a
special banquet in their the fld clearing the intersection, the train blaired its horn. people panicked. some jumped off to safety and then the impact. >> i just saw people under the train. there was like blood. there was blood all over. >> i heard the noise. this is a fluke. this sounds like somebody got hit. >> we saw them go by. >> we waved at them. i didn't see the guard rail down. >> reporter: the four victims range in age from 34 to 47. three were army sergeant majors. one was an army sergeant. some were injured in combat. one had a wife and young children. five remain? hospital. four are in stable condition. a fifth was critical and airlifted to a hospital in lubbock, texas. in 2003 the speed limit of trains in this area was increased from 40 miles an hour, to 60 miles an hour.
but it is not clear right now how fast this one was going. horrific. jon. jon: just absolutely awful. casey stiegel live in midland, texas. casey, thank you. >> he was saying there are many streams of intelligence but he also stated that he thought all along he made it clear that there was significant terrorism involvement and that is not my recollection of what he told us on september 14th. jenna: new reaction to former cia director david petraeus's testimony on libya. general petraeus answering questions from lawmakers in both the house and senate intelligence committees this morning. king says petraeus said that the talking points given to ambassador susan rice were different from the ones prepared by the cia that is according to congressman king who was inside the closed briefing. lawmakers want to know what the administration knew about the attack in gaziano on september 11th that led to the murder of four americans and when did
members of the administration get clarity what happened there. roy blunt of missouri is member of the senate intelligence committee. he was in the latest hearing when general petraeus. senator, what did you learn today? >> we were just in the hearing with general petraeus and we went through the points that he made on september the 13th, when he met with the senate committee and then basically how long it took to figure out what points that they made that day were right and which ones were wrong. the one that was the most wrong was the idea there was a spontaneous demonstration. i'm most concerned, jenna, by the thought that the cia and the fbi and our entire intelligence gathering community, if you believe them, can't figure out for 10 days whether there was a demonstration or not. i saw, i saw the video yesterday. it was very clear there wasn't a demonstration. there were people they could have interviewed. i think that is a an important question to ask.
why don't you ask people that were there that were in germany the next day. we got people out of there to germany the next day. what they saw and said there was no demonstration. don't use that as the background for what happened. jenna: just for clarity the video you're mentioning is video of the attack in benghazi? >> it was surveillance video that wasn't initially available. we shouldn't have to have a video to show there was no demonstration going on. there were people that could have been asked. it shouldn't have taken 10 days for for the intelligence community to find out that something didn't happen. jenna: senator, talk about the impressions that you got from the hearing. this of course being closed and classified. congressman king is giving the impression that general petraeus said today among the talking points that he gave on the briefing that you mentioned in just a few days after the attack, that they did mention terrorism but there was a decision to downplay that, in that briefing, that lawmakers were the only ones present
for. but, petraeus made the argument today that he mentioned terrorism. did you get a similar impression as well based on what you heard on september 13th and what you learned today? >> i wasn't in the same hearing, the same meeting that congressman king was in. he would have been in the house meeting. i was in the senate meeting. i do recall the general making the points, the four points, that he reminded us that he made and one of them was that there was likely terrorist involvement here and some planning that went into the events that happened but he also thought that day there was a demonstration from some public reporting that turned out not to be right. but i do think he told the committee the things that he is suggesting today, that he said he told the committee. jenna: with respect to the briefing being closed, and to being classified, what did you learn about the lack of security and what general petraeus's impressions were about the lack of security at the consulate and also the lack of military
response once we began to learn just how serious this was on september 11th? >> well the cia did respond and responded quickly. they got to the mission in a very short period of time but not enough, they didn't get there quickly enough to save the life of the two people that were killed at the mission itself which is different than the second facility. the attack at the second facility doesn't come for several hours after the first facility. think that is the harder thing to explain. why seven hours later we still weren't protecting the americans that were in benghazi. jenna: senator, who changed the talking points? is there a change of talking points that actually happened? do you believe that? or do you think that there were just, there was a decision made by individuals to de-emphasize certain talking points over others? >> well that's going to be something that we need to find out. what is the chain of
information here? who had it? at what point did these talking points change. but back to my original point i'm actually more concerned about why even five days later when ambassador rice is on television apparently with these talking points as her talking points we're still talking about the key event is an event that didn't happen. just how good is the intelligence community or the fbi that five days after an event we're still basing that event around something that we now know didn't happen at all? there was no demonstration. this wasn't the outcome of spontaneous crowd that then got upset. we're still saying that five days later. we're in fact not changing that story until september the 24th. i think we ought to be concerned about that. jenna: here two months later, more than two months later so many big questions yet to be answered. senator, we look forward to having you back, to find out what's next. thank you so much for your time today. >> thank you, jenna. jon: a fox news alert.
the president has been meeting with leaders of congress about the budget situation and the fiscal cliff. they are now emerging from those meetings to talk about what transpired. let's listen to house minority leader nancy pelosi. >> lifting the spirits and confidence in our country we will have an economic downturn that must be avoided. we understand our responsibility there. we understand that it has to be about cuts. it has to be about revenue. it has to be about growth. it has to be about the future. so as we cut investments and as we talk about revenue, we have to do so in a way that promotes growth and supports the future. it was good. i feel confident that a solution may be in sight. mitch? >> i can only echo the observations of the other leaders it was a constructive meeting. we all understand where we are.
i can say on the part of my members that we fully understand that you can't save the country until you have entitlement programs that fit the demographics of the changing america in the coming years. we're prepared to put revenue on the table, provided we fix the real problem. even though most of my members, i think without exception believe that we're in the dilemma we're in not because we tax too little but because we spend too much. one final observation on another issue. i had a chance to talk to the president yesterday about his trip to burma, a country i have had a long-standing interest in over the last 20 years. i want to commend him for going. i think it is an important step for him to take. >> thanks, everybody. jon: so a built of confidence expressed there that we are not going to go over the fiscal cliff come january 1 when those mandatory cuts kick in, cutting half a trillion dollars, for instance, out
of the pentagon budget, when tax rates automatically go up for just about every single american. but the devil will be in the details. there isn't a lot of time to get a deal done. we'll continue to monitor that for you here on fox and let you know how it proceeds. jenna: more breaking news now. new reports suggest there are two people missing in the oil platform fire we told you about at the beginning of our show. this is just breaking. we have a coast guard captain on the phone. captain, what can you tell us about the fire. >> good morning. about 9:00 this morning the coast guard received a report on a platform about 20 miles south of grand isle, louisiana. the report we had 28 people were onboard. after the fire occurred commercial helicopters evacuated individuals on the platform to a nearby platform. we're still working on full accountability for the people that were there. jenna: we have heard reports of four being flown to the hospital and two being missing or as you know, when
it comes up in reports two being dead. can you confirm any of that for us? >> four individuals have been flown to west jefferson hospital for injuries. you know, we have gotten conflicting reports about two dead, about two missing. and so we're really not sure until we get confirmation on the facts of that. until that happens the coast guard has launched a search-and-rescue effort around that platform the we have two boats on scene as well as fixed-wing aircraft. there are a number of other vessels helping. jenna: captain, don't have to tell you when we hear about this we think about the bp oil spill. we think about the deepwater horizon incident. this is not in the same area. can you tell us a little bit the area this is in and how that affects your mission right now? >> sure. this is a very different incident than the one occurred several years ago. this is in shallow water. this on a platform affixed to the seafloor. at the time of the fire it had not been producing oil. it had not been pumping oil
prior to this incident up into the platform and then into pipelines. what we think happened from initial reports we're getting on scene this platform was under some maintenance and construction and some workers might have cut into a pipe that had some oil in it and that oil caught on fire. jenna: i see. what's next? what is the next hour look like? >> we're going to continue our search-and-rescue efforts but our first objective here is to get the full accountability of the people that were there. jenna: is the fire still burning by the way? is the fire out or is it still an active scene if you will? >> good question. just got a confirmation from coast guard boats on scene. there is no visible fire on the platform. there is a little bit of smoke but not nearly as much as was on there before. there are three vessels, three commercial boats still pumping water onto the platform. so seems like the fire's out or nearly out. jenna: that is some good news. we like to have breaking news like that. captain, you've been most helpful. we stay close to you and continue to watch the story as it progresses. thank you so much. >> surely.
jon: talking about another crisis still ongoing, the aftermath of superstorm sandy. that hurricane changed the lives for so many, pummeling large stretches of the atlantic coast. how did this superstorm come together with such devastating results? a hurricane chaser on lessons learned coming up. ome years at y different park service units across the united states. the only time i've ever had a break is when i was on maternity leave. i have retired from doing this one thing that i loved. now, i'm going to be able to have the time to explore something different. it's like another chapter.
jon: right now we're still cleaning up the debris from sandy but there are lessons to be learned. she was never stronger than a category 1 hurricane but became one of the most devastating weather events ever to hit the u.s. how did sandy become such a powerful superstorm? could we have had better warnings for instance? what does sandy say about possible storms in the future? jason is a hurricane chaser who saw sandy up close. took part in special show on
the superstorm that airs this sunday on the discovery channel. people think about the tremendous damage this did and it came ashore essentially as a category 1 storm. now they don't typically this far north come ashore as a four or five, right? >> that's right. it is pretty rare. the conditions in this part of the country are not supportive for a big hurricane. it happened where we had category 2 or three but pretty rare you get that kind of a storm. jon: so what are the lessons we can learn? >> i think experience is the best way people can prepare to know what to do for the next storm. a category 1 storm can have tremendous storm surge like we have hurricane sandy. it,000 miles across were the tropical storm force winds which cause a lot of storm surge. you can get a lot of testify station for aek storm. jon: there was bad timing or bad luck, whatever you want to say. came in ashore at essentially a high tide, a full moon, all those combinations all those factors combine to make the storm surge even worse? >> you get the spring tides.
we have the full moon. that add as couple of feet to the storm surge already getting pushed up by those winds. the fact it was blocked from going out to sea and the fact we had this full moon raising up the tides was setting up a real big disaster for the northeast. jon: it is more than the hurricane. you say there are four factors that came together to really cause such damage here. what are we talking about? >> if we look at some of the unique things that came together for the storm. we had a storm rapidly intensified south of cuba, which is very rare. 95th percentile of storms can increase a category in matter of 24 hours. then it started to interact with a front as it came up the east coast. that helped to energize the storm. instead of getting deflected out to sea it was hugging along with that front. high pressure dropped in from the arctic and kind of blocked it, finally blocked it from going out to sea and got sucked in toward the east coast. not only did we have a very strong storm spreading out into its wind field it had
nowhere to go except to the northeast is i mentioned at the top there are still folks who are in the dark, have no power. they're still cleaning up. they still have mud in the house and that sort of thing. is this going to be happening again and again and again? or is this in a century kind of storm? >> it is the million dollar question. this storm you might expect to see once every 100 years or some maybe even longer that on that. we don't have the answer as far as how often they're going to come. certainly we've gone through times we have series of storms. we had gloria and bob in the northeast in the '80s and '90s. now we had a series early brushed the coast and irene in 2007 and now sandy. don't know whether there is a series or series of bad luck. jon: we'll learn more on the discovery channel on sunday night. jason. thank you. >> lawmakers heard david petraeus testify today on libya. what they know now about the
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rick: hello, everybody, rick folbaum here. sirens are sounding in tel aviv, israel. those are being sounded in israel for the very first time. jerusalem, has a ground invasion on the way. also, david petraeus resigned last friday over an extramarital affair. today, he is on capitol hill talking to lawmakers about what he knew about the attack on the u.s. consulate in benghazi. his testimony is not likely to make the white house happy. speaking of the white house from the president and republican leaders sitting down to try to hash out a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff. can they do it? we will have all of that and breaking news is the second hour of "happening now" starts right
now. jenna: capitol hill in the white house on either side of the bargaining table, taxpayers caught cozumel. a very tough place to be. welcome to the second hour of "happening now." we are so glad to have you on this friday. i am generally. jon: i am jon scott. taxes are going up for you and everyone else must lawmakers and the president can reach a deal by january 1. at the same time, federal spending will be cut across the board. that is six weeks work out a compromise. less, they take time off for the holidays. failure will mean severe economic pain for just about everyone. with that reality hanging over their heads, political leaders from both sides made the trip to capitol hill from the white house. meeting with top democrats and republicans from the president says everyone can agree on the
need to find a solution. >> are challenges to mr. that, you know we are able to cooperate together and work together and find common ground. tough compromises, build some consensus. in order to do the people's business. jon: chief washington correspondent james rosen is live at the white house right now. reporter: jon and jenna, good afternoon. majority leader harry reid said there's no more talk of doing something later and adding that we are going to do this right now. the chief executives stopped executive stopped in the roosevelt room at the four members of the house and senate and top aides about an hour ago. it how minority leader nancy pelosi spoke of setting a christmas deadline between the house and congress before the fiscal cliff cliff looms on january 1. when an automatic round of
budget cuts will go into effect, it's a double barrel prospect that economists say will plunge the economy back into recession. in opening remarks from the president spoke in terms of making sure that taxes are not raised on middle-class families. the president saying what folks are looking for an all of us agree on, this is action. they want to see that we are focused on them and on our politics here in washington. how speaker john boehner also spoke about approaching the 16 trillion-dollar debt of the nation in a fair and balanced way. he indicated that his satisfaction with the tone of the talks, but gave no indication that republicans were considering raising tax rates on any category of income earners. >> to show our seriousness, we are going to put revenue on the table. why we will continue that and put that revenue on the table,
we will show the american people that we are serious about cutting spending. reporter: one member said to chris stirewalt yesterday on transport, with the promise that we will get into looking at all revenues, and that could include tax rates. we will look at all the tax codes. and we will also look at spending cuts. as you mentioned, there is come to this entire episode a ticking clock pressure between now and january 1. jon: untangling that tax code would be a good thing. i would hope for that. james rosen, thank you very much. jenna: one of our other top stories today, former cia director david petraeus, is testifying today on the deadly terror attack in libya.
chairman peter king says the white house is immediately explanation did not match with the cia originally believed. >> they didn't have al qaeda terrorist activity in front of them. so they went through the process, whatever that processes. it was unclear. jenna: remember, these are closed hearings. we really need to rely on lawmakers for what they heard on the inside and their impressions as well. just that caviar fair, we can watch this developing story. rick folbaum is here with my. rick: you just heard congressman king david david petraeus told lawmakers that the cia was ready to call the benghazi attacks terrorism right from the start. the that the word terrorism, he said, which was a part of the
reason original talking points was mysteriously removed from those notes. these are the notes that the u.n. ambassador, susan rice used, to prepare for her interviews, where she called the attack a response to an anti-moslem video. here is congressman king, more of his remarks. >> they now believe there was clear terrorist involvement. >> he said that? >> yes. speed-reading they believe that there was an intentional goal to it mislead the american people to believe it was spontaneous and not terror related. david petraeus said originally that it was carried out by a flash mob, but he seems to be saying otherwise. he says all this confusion is unintentional. >> we try to get information out very quickly.
and as soon as the media receive this information, the people are terrified. rick: talking to senators now, testimony not under oath, and he is not being asked about the extramarital affair that led to him to step down from his post exactly one week ago today. jenna: it's hard to believe all of this happening in one week, still so much to come. thank you. jon: this fox news alert out of the middle east. air raid sirens wailing as the jewish state appears to be on the brink of war with hamas in the city of gaza. air raid sirens sounding like this. [sirens sounding]
jon: people running for cover. you can see people ducking down, running for cover. israeli police say that that particular rocket landed in the sea. tanks are gathering along the border of the palestinian territory. that could mean invasion is imminent. more than 200 rockets have hit israel since the start of the skirmish on wednesday. israel responded to the strikes by beefing up air strikes on wednesday, sending a top military hamas official. that could pose a big challenge to israel and the united states. they have counted on egypt to remain an ally against terrorism. jenna: more on that story in a moment. but first, new information and a twist on déjà vu.
more word on another taxpayer bailout. this time housing is under focus for the federal housing administration continues to hemorrhage money from losses on home loans. well, it's all coming to a head. peter burns is following the story line for us. peter, what do we know? peter: that's right, jenna, first fannie mae and freddie mac, now the fha. which has more than a trillion dollars in mortgages, they could be help from the treasury. an annual audit today found that the agency has a $68.3 million capital shortfall because of mortgages going back. but the fha is downplaying the possibility. it will ask the treasury for taxpayer funding and expects to add $11 billion in new capital for new mortgage insurance business in the year ahead. it is also announcing new steps and changes today to try to improve finances, and it says all of this, it hopes, will return of capital returns put
through the year. the agency says that should reduce the likelihood that we'll need to add to its credit line. but officials say they won't make any announcement on that until the president releases in 2014 budget in february. jenna? jenna: peter burns, thank you so much. we are going to take a breath here. there's a lot happening with the economy. we know there is a lot of news happening around the world. when it comes to the economy, we are talking about fiscal cliff and taxes and unemployment. the stock market. how about the eurozone? also making headlines this week. when it comes to exports, today we are putting ben stein on hot the hot seat. he will answer your questions about any of those things, and quite frankly anything else. send us a message on twitter and we will be talking to ben and a few minutes ago from now.
jon: a terrorist leader accused of killing u.s. soldiers. he has been released by the iraqi government. even after it promised the u.s. that would never happen. the latest on this developing story is coming up. and old mcdonald lost his farm. a stay on the death tax. while some children may not inherit with their appearance worked so hard to build.i stilln >> kids on why we have 12 year old trucks, its because were barely surviving as it is alka-seltzer plus rushes relief to all your worst cold symptoms, plus it relieves your runny nose. [ sighs ] thank you! [ male announcer ] you're welcome. that's the cold truth!
one of its platforms caught fire. the fire, we understand, from a coast guard captain we spoke to, it is apparently out. you might remember in the deep water horizon fire the that led to the bp oil spill. i burned for a couple of days until the rig melted and collapse and then the wheels started spewing into the gulf. this does not appear to be as serious of a situation. however there is word that there are workers that are missing at this point. we are told that the fire is out. a couple of crew members in the gulf are missing. jenna: right now, a suspected operative of hezbollah has not been a allowed to walk free. he was accused of killing five
american soldiers in iraq. he was acquitted by an iraqi court and allowed today to fly to lebanon. here is the important background. the united states handed this man over to the iraqis last december, earlier this year we have received assurances that they would not release this man, even though the iraqi court had cleared him of the charges, but as we stated, he is now free today. jon: just a short time ago, president obama wrapped up a high-stakes meeting with leaders on the so-called fiscal cliff. the year-end tax hikes and spending cuts. a look at what happens to some american farmers and small businesses if washington cannot reach a deal red william hazlitt about from washington. reporter: one of the tax is being negotiated is the estate tax, which is due to jump from 35 to 55%.
reporters say it is necessary that the rich pay their fair share even when they die. critics argue it's not about income equality. it is about raising revenue. this printer works dawn to dusk, drives a 12-year-old child, and earns less than a typical bureaucrat in washington dc. yet, the federal government considers a much enough to pay a death tax. >> there is no way financially to my kids can pay after my death and keep his ranch in tax. >> the idea behind the estate tax is to prevent the very wealthy from accumulating vast fortunes and passing them on to the next family. reporter: that's not a picture of the american farmer. >> a celebrity or someone at a
hotel heiress, that someone that they should be targeted after someone like me. reporter: $5 million and up will be taxed at 35%, but rates will then jump to 55% on a million dollars or more. some republicans want to eliminate the death tax entirely, the president proposes a 45% rate on estates of $3.5 million in. >> burdened with millions of dollars of estate tax, it forces us to shut down ranches and farms. it's not good for the environment and future generations and americans in general. reporter: he paid the irs $2 million when he inherited the ranch more than two decades ago. at this point, his children will have to pay $13 million. reporter: that will jump to 52 million estates who will be
affected by this. farmers say it hurts them because all their money is in the dirt and not in their pocket. jon: the fact he pay taxes on your life and that he pay them again when you die, it's a great system thank you well, we finally seeing some compromise between capitol hill and the white house? details of what takes place at that meeting between the president and congressional leaders. is there some agreement here somewhere? jenna: plus, we are watching the volatile situation between israel and hamas militants. day three of airstrikes. israel is wondering if there is a ground assault on the way. we have answers ahead.
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jenna: right now, a very tense situation in the middle east that we really need to pay attention to her. militants in gaza appear to be in an all-out war. air raid sirens are sounding out across the jewish state. this is happening even in jerusalem. which has never been targeted by gaza roberts before. tel aviv and the occupied territories have been focused on. president obama spoke with israel's prime minister and egypt's president. what is the goal of the united states as we watch this play out?
that is a big question. general, what is the role of the united states or? >> right now, the role of the u.s. is to be a mediator. certainly there is very little we can do and israel and hamas does not want to seek her help either. they are trying to serve as a mediator between the israeli and egyptian leadership, emphasizing there is nothing good that can come out of this for any of these entities. israel, the city of gaza, or egypt. doctor bed and invasion. speak to the president is planning to head this weekend to the east. he said this is part of a previously planned trip. how do you see a? >> jenna, i would disagree. i don't think the role is for him to be a mediator as
president. i think it is to be a strong supporter of israel. he has been under rocket fire for months. they have obtained iranian missiles which are being used to target border communities and the industrial heartland of israel. a weapons factory in sudan was a missile producing factory. the fact of the matter is that hamas has been gearing up to target israel for months. speak to be specific. what does that look like? >> the u.s. has got to allow benjamin netanyahu to do what he needs to do. he needs to go in there and clean up these long-range iranian missiles that threaten israel. that threaten his population and the industrial heartland. we would expect our president to president to support us if terrorists were bombing from
mexico into dallas or houston. we would not expect them to be mediating with terrorists in mexico. this is a loyal ally and we need to support it. jenna: i would like your reaction to that with contacts. the compare some of new thoughts, mexico to attacking dallas, texas. >> first of all, i support israel. it is hamas who are the aggressors here. clearly, the support for these rocket attacks is a rock. it is also important to emphasize that this is an effort on the israelis to protect, so to speak, should israel have to strike iran. i'm not trying to take sides. the question you're asking is what is the united states going to do. right now, the best thing the united states can do is stand back and hopefully, these two
sides will have a cease-fire and we can back off. jenna: it seems that you want something stronger than that. we have that right? >> we support our allies. there is no better friend and no worse enemy. they have been under attack by trance of hamas. we might go in there and clean out these long-range iranian missile -- missiles. jenna: during the last hour, we just got another report. taking a look at nuclear sites around the world. we just got word that according to them, ron is ready to sharply expand its uranium enrichment in the underground site we talked so much about. basically saying, they are ready
to hit the accelerator towards these nuclear programs. and develop nuclear weapons. until you looked a lot into this, mark. we are getting that news while this conflict is playing out as well. how do you see this coming together? is this just a huge distraction? ict use that term because people are dying. but a distraction from the focus that should be a ron? [talking over each other] >> if you are an israeli military planner and you are planning a strike, you have to go in and clean out iranian support terrorists like hamas and hezbollah. in the broader context, the israeli military is trying to go in there and strike a blow at iranian terrorists in the city of gaza. they know that in a month or year or so, they may be hitting iran's facilities and they could be facing an onslaught sometime
soon all, as i said before, the evil hand that play is the country of iran. they support hamas. they are trying to cause the problems in the area. iran will strike back not only themselves, but they will strike back their surrogates, hamas and hezbollah. israel's best military option is to try to clean up these missile sites with air power alone. to do another style of operation would not serve the best interest of israel, and i think that that is absolutely, absolutely solid military advice. jenna: we will continue to watch this. the tanks are continuing to move closer to the border, the israeli tanks. a lot happening. mark, general, great to have you with us today. >> thank you. >> thank you, jenna.
jon: news coverage of the deadly terrorist attack in libya continues to evolve, some have gone pretty easy on the obama administration. but there's also been some very tough coverage of republican lawmakers. let's go to our news watch panel. judith miller is a pulitzer prize-winning investigate iive reporter, kirsten powers is with the daily beast, both are fox news contributors. i want to start off by playing a bit of the news conference the president had after his re-election. his first time at the podium in
eight months, a solo news conference, and really the first time we'd had an opportunity as the press corps to question him about what happened in men with ghazi, and here is one of the questions or statements that gets made. listen. >> and congratulations, by the way. >> thanks. there when i was running for state senate. >> that's right, i was. >> christy and i go back -- >> i've never seen you lose. i wasn't looking the one time. jon: judy, what do you think of that? >> well, i think a little banter back and fort is sometimes appropriate -- forth and sometimes appropriate, but not when a president has been hiding from the media, at least the media who's supposed to be asking him to tough questions for so very long. this was our first opportunity as reporters to get him to answer the questions that have been swirling around the benghazi incident and the administration's presentation of what happened there.
and he got off very, very easy. what he did was divert attention from those pressing issues to his defense of his u.n. ambassador, susan rice. that's what this was for him, a great moment to kind of score chivalrous points rather than answer and be pressed on the challenges and the questions that so many fair-minded people have about what happened in benghazi that night and what the administration said about it. jon: a number of senators including senator lindsey graham, senator john mccain, senator kelly ayotte -- a woman, it should be noted -- were critical of what ambassador susan rice said when she went on the five sunday talk shows and said this was all about the video. now, kirsten, i want to read a clip of your most recent column. here it is. you say: president obama bizarrely cast the u.s. ambassador to the united
nations, susan rice, as some delicate flower the boys should stop picking on for her dissembling: jon: come back to haunt him in what way? >> well, i think he got so caught up in this silly story about senators mccain and graham, and he did leave out, also, that there was a female senator as well as you mentioned involved in criticizing susan rice, that he went a little over the top, and he said some things that i think are going to come back to haunt him including, basically, why are they going after susan rice when she had nothing to do with benghazi? which just raises the immediate question, well, if that's true, then why was she put out as the face of the administration on five sunday talk shows? and i think in a real press conference what would have happened was after the president said that, someone would have
followed up and said what i just said, you know? they wouldn't have just let him get away with that. there's no give and take, there's no follow up, there's no holding him accountable for the things that he says, and trying to portray secretary rice as some poor little victim because a couple senators are criticizing him. look what eric holder has gone through. could you imagine the president saying they're just picking on him because, you know, they're too afraid to come after me which was kind of the implication of what he said? is he would never say something like that. jon: it is a point i'm stealing from kirsten, judy, what if george w. bush had told the press corps to stop picking on john bolton, his ambassador to the united nations? [laughter] >> right. discrimination against men with moustaches. [laughter] it is so absurd, and the president gets away with it, frankly, because we let him get away with it. there was ed henry of fox news, a couple other people trying to ask some hard questions, but he
just swept them aside, and that format is death for getting to the bottom of an affair. that's why we really do need to know in detail, either a select committee or some other venue, what the administration has said about what happened in benghazi that night, whether or not they were attempting to mislead the american people about what happened to make their re-election more likely. i mean, these are questions that are not going to go away even though the administration would like them to go away. jon: yeah. because if susan rice wasn't connected at all to the benghazi incident, why did they put her on the sunday morning shows? >> right. that's an obvious question. [laughter] it's such an obvious question. and, look, i also don't understand why the media -- if i was part of the white house press corps, there should be stories the day after these ridiculous press conferences. they're opportunities for the president to filibuster. he just goes on and on with these talking points. nothing is ever answered. why is he not hammered for that?
why aren't they complaining -- if i was barack obama, i would do this every day, you know? [laughter] this is his opportunity to sit there and just hold force, and they all just kind of sit there and scribble down what he says, you know? it's outrageous. jon: judy, does it go this way in all administrations, so is there some particular fawning that goes on with this white house? >> there is particular fawning with this white house. we have talked about this on news watch so often. but, you know, the president is very good at this. you've got to give him credit. he just is miraculous at kind of diverting attention from the issues at hand and one-liners and this is his, this plays to his strength. the problem is the american people really do want answers. they deserve answers to what happened in benghazi that night. four americans are dead, and we can't just let it lie. and by the way, if he's going to nominate susan rice as the secretary of state, i wonder if she's going to be able to defend herself for whether or not she's going to need barack obama there at her side the whole time.
jon: right. >> that's a great point. jon: he told those two male senators, mccain and lindsey graham, called them out by name and said, essentially, if you want to criticize her, come after me. [laughter] interesting times in washington. judy miller, kirsten powers, thank you both. >> thank you. jon: be sure to tune in tomorrow, 2:30 eastern time and again at 11:30 p.m. where we will cover the coverage and uncover media bias, or so we hope. and right after "happening now," be sure to tune in to "america live" with megyn kelly. she talked with congressman peter king. he has a lot to say about the administration's story after the benghazi attacks and about the petraeus testimony that took place behind closed doors just this morning. jenna: we'll look forward to that, a lot more clarity on what he's thinking right now. in the meantime, we're going to move on to this part of hurricane sandy. from new jersey to new york, places of worship are struggling to recover after that storm's wrath. normally, a place of worship is a place where people find comfort, but sandy flooded or
damaged or completely destroyed so many churches and temples. now the faithful are the ones really asking for help. our religion correspondent, lauren green, is live with this story. >> hi, jenna. as you said,ouses of worship are supposed to be sanctuaries for the broken hearted, but countless are in great need of healing themselves. the repair work as begun at all saints in bayhead, new jersey, but the road ahead is wrong. the historic structure was built in the late 1800s and designed by boat builders but was never meant to withstand the surge from dirty bay water that sandy brought. >> if it had been just the ocean water, it would have been a lot cleaner, but because it was the bay water and the ditch, it threw the mud in as well and caused more damage than if it had been just purely clean sea water. >> reporter: now, sandy was an equal opportunity destroyer.
at western synagogue in queens, new york, the rabbi surveys the damage. the storm put the entire neighborhood and temple under at least four feet of water. the once-pristine sanctuary now has buckling floors, the holy books are unusable, but because of their religious content they cannot be burned, so they sit covered outdoors awaiting their fate. >> in judaism, we don't today things away. we have to take our prayer books and give them a proper burial. that's how we show that they're sacred and they're not just tossed aside. >> reporter: many houses of worship across the northeast are in the same situation having lost treasures which simply cannot be replaced because insurance may not cover the millions of dollars needed for repairs. the congregants themselves will likely have to raise the money. jenna? jenna: lauren, thank you. jon: well, say it ain't so. hostess going out of business. could it be the twilight of the
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if you experience a sudden decrease or loss in vision or hearing. this is the age of taking action. viagra. talk to your doctor. jon: congressional leaders are expressing confidence that they can reach a deal with president obama to head off the fiscal cliff and the risk of a new recession hitting this country. top members of the house and senate spoke at the white house after a closed door session with the president. at issue is a series of tax hikes and spending cuts that could jeopardize the nation's economy. >> i believe that we can do this and avert the fiscal cliff that's right in front of us today. >> and we felt very, i feel very good about what we were able to talk about in there. we have the cornerstones of being able to work something out. jon: maya mcginnis is president of the committee for a responsible federal budget. she launched an ad campaign calling on leaders to work together to solve the problem, and her voice is very well heard
in washington when it comes to this issue. so, ya, having listened to the sound bites -- so, maya, having listened to the sound bites after that white house meeting, are you hopeful? >> i think they can do this. i am hopeful. um, the fiscal cliff is helping to focus the mind of members of congress that they have to take action to deal with both not going off of the cliff -- it would just be so foolish to go ahead and let all these policies hit which we have been told would cause a recession -- but they also just can't punt which is something they've done so often before, and they need to use this moment to put in place a bigger debt deal, the kind of thing we all know needs to happen to fix our fiscal challenges. and i do think that the importance of in this moment is going to help bring both parties, the senate, the house and the white house together to hash out what's going to be a difficult deal, committedly -- admittedly, but it's so clear
it's what we have to do. jon: you've expressed that the negotiating strategy could be foolish and dangerous. what do you mean by that? >> i've been worried when people have talked about going off the fiscal cliff, right? it just doesn't make sense that we would be willing to do something that we know would put the country back into recession. and i know political negotiations are what they are, and everything's overly partisan in this town even when something so important as not only avoiding the cliff, but putting in place a big debt deal, but i also have seen incredible interest and openness to putting in place a deal both from president obama and leader boehner and a number of members of congress who are saying we can't put our head in the sand. we know that this has to be dealt with, and now is the moment to get started on it. so i'm worried when i hear people saying, well, if i don't get my way, i'll go off the cliff. and you hear that on both sides, frankly. but i'm also encouraged with the kinds of openings that you've heard from both sides about acknowledging what's true.
we have to reform our tax code, and we have to raise more revenues, we have to reform our entitlement system in a way that is structural and really fixes these programs, we have to rein in spending, and we have to do all this in a way that's good for growing the economy, pro-growth instead of putting us back in a recession. we can do this, but the parties are going to have to work together. jon: let's hope that everyone in that room this morning is as optimistic as you are and can actually get this done. maya mcginnis -- >> let's hope. thank you. jenna: tensions rise anything the middle east, rocket fire into jerusalem for the first first time into the jerusalem area, by the way. is the region on the brink of war? continuing coverage of this developing story ahead. and there he is, it's always so nice to see ben. he's sitting in the hot seat. there you go, saluting. economist extraordinaire, he's ready to take your questions at "happening now" on twitter. ben, we'll see you after the commercial. thanks.
jenna: well, you ask, and our next guest will definitely have an answer, if not the answer. we have lots of different questions about the economy, ben stein on the hot seat. he's looking pretty comfortable though. it's not too hot of a seat, ben. it's great to have you with us. >> honor to be here. jenna: ben's the author of "how to really ruin your financial life and portfolio," which is, of course, everything we're trying not to do. so jon had this great question, and i think it's one that a lot of our viewers have, are we really as close to the fiscal cliff as everyone is saying? what do you think? >> we're close to a situation where taxes would go up to roughly what they were in 1998 or '99, and spending would be
cut quite significantly, but it isn't the end of the world. if we go over the cliff for a month or two, you're not going to see america go into a depression. the defense budget is the really most delicate part of the equation. we don't want to cut defense, we don't want to penalize the men and women in uniform. if but if we have taxes going up by several percentage points for the rich and a couple, a bit less -- quite a lot less -- for the middle class, it won't be the end of the world. it's not the end of the world at all. jenna: so michael had a follow-up question, and i picked this question because his last name is lee, so i'm just paying favorites. >> excellent. jenna: he says that the president claims taxing the rich will not affect 97% of small businesses. is that true? is that figure true when we talk about who's affected by taxes going up if they make more than $250,000? >> well, i have been one of the most severe critics of president obama, can so i don't want to seem to be praising him; but his
data is correct. tax increases in the late '90s or under bush 41 are not going to really hurt us that much. it would be good if we could do it in a gradual way, but it's not going to affect us that much or dramatically unless we phase them in very, very roughly or crudely. if we go over the fiscal cliff for a couple months, then we work out a more gradual phase-in of tax increases, it'll be fine. with all due respect, we've got to do something. jenna: sure. >> we're racing towards bankruptcy. jenna: and if i could, because a viewer has another question on this. >> go ahead. jenna: ken has this question. we're not heading towards depression in the next couple months. >> no. jenna: what about 2014? what about europe going into a recession? how do we protect ourselves? >> well, that's a real problem. europe going into recession, and china had a dip, it's growing pretty fast again, i think you protect yourself as individuals by working and saving. i don't think this is going to be a big problem for any family
where the bread win ors work as hard as they can and save as much as they can. it's going to mostly affect people who are living on the razor's edge. but for people who have got a solid financial plan, they're going to do fine. jenna: so the world concern. >> it's not.coming to an -- it's not coming to an end at all. jenna: ben stein said it today -- >> well, it comes to an end at some point, but not today. jon: look how cheery he is. jenna: thank you very much. always great to have ben on the program. we appreciate it. jon: yeah. jenna: well, check this out. it's a bird, it's a plane, he calls himself this, a super an author. -- anchor. i'll give you a couple guesses on who i'm talking about. jon: i do not. [laughter] jenna: why is jon in that tree? we'll tell you coming up. i'm a conservative investor.
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showed you what jonah likes to do we did this is what you do this weekend? jon: this is what i did in virginia with my sister. a tree that sits in front had her terrifies because it wasn't looking so good. jenna: that's pretty high up there, jon. jenna: looking back, that is a victory. can viewers hire you?