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November 29th, 2012
10:48 AM ET

Rep. Cole: Republicans should take the 98% of Americans 'off the table' in fiscal cliff negotiations

After suggesting that lawmakers extend the Bush tax cuts for 98% of Americans now and haggle over the top 2% later, Republican Rep. Tom Cole has found himself in the center of the firestorm over how to address the impending fiscal cliff.

Numerous Republicans have come out in opposition to Cole's idea, with House Speaker John Boehner saying that he disagrees with the Oklahoma representative in a press conference with reporters yesterday.

Idaho Republican Rep. Raul Labrador also told CNN that Cole is wrong about how to address the fiscal cliff, saying that Cole is a "man who has voted for a lot of the increased spending in Washington DC and that's the problem."

Rep. Cole responds to Labrador's criticism on Starting Point this morning, saying that “in this case, honestly, [Labrador] is new [to Washington] and he doesn't know what he’s talking about in terms of my record on spending and taxes."

Cole also reiterates his position on extending tax cuts for 98% of Americans, saying, "I think where we agree is on the 98%. We should take that off the table so Americans don't have to worry about that. That actually strengthens our position. At the end of the day it's a discussion among Republicans over tactic, not a division or debate."

November 29th, 2012
10:42 AM ET

Champion bobsledder Steven Holcomb on regaining his sight to win the 2010 Olympic gold medal

As one of the best bobsledders in the world, Steven Holcomb was seen as a strong team leader and contender for the gold medal leading up to the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games. The fearless bobsled driver raced his U.S. team downhill at speeds up to 100 miles per hour. But, in the prime of his career, Holcomb struggled as he suffered from a degenerative eye disease that was making him blind.

“It’s like opening your eyes under water,” Holcomb explains of his sight with the disease. “I mean, you can tell where people are, but you can't really see who they are. You just know that there's a person there. And you learn how to pick things up with their voices.”

Holcomb joins “Starting Point” on Thursday to discuss his new memoir, “But Now I See: My Journey From Blindness to Olympic Gold,” which traces his struggle with the disease, keratoconus, and explains how he overcame near-blindness through a revolutionary procedure before leading his team to the 2010 Olympic gold medal in bobsled racing.


Filed under: Olympics • Sports
November 29th, 2012
10:35 AM ET

CNN's John Avlon on his new anthology, "Scandals, Tragedies & Triumphs"

With the rise of digital media, the printed newspaper column has transitioned and found a new home online. But for generations, those black and white pages were the weapon of choice for writers voicing their opinions and giving their take on the historic events that shaped the world. Last year CNN contributor John Avlon co-edited the critically acclaimed book "Deadline Artists," which was a collection of some of the most timeless columns from throughout American history. Now he is back with the sequel, "Scandals, Tragedies & Triumphs" – a new anthology of some of the nation's most shocking and uplifting moments, as told by the preeminent writers of the time.

This morning Avlon joins “Starting Point” to explain why he thinks “it is a time to reflect on the great newspaper culture and what’s different and what continues.”


Filed under: Book
November 29th, 2012
10:12 AM ET

Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) says she likes 'what Tom Cole has to say' about getting past the fiscal cliff

It has been more than three weeks since the election, but with partisan gridlock potentially holding up everything from a resolution to the fiscal cliff to appointing a new secretary of state, it's looking like Washington is settling right back into its old ways. There are however at least two Republicans in Congress with no reason to tow the party line. In fact, they share the same last name. This morning, husband-and-wife team, outgoing Florida Congressman Connie Mack, and outgoing California Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack join “Starting Point” to discuss solutions and positions regarding the fiscal cliff.

Rep. Bono Mack says if she has to be signed up with a camp she agrees with recent comments made by veteran Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma. Cole was chided by House Speaker John Boehner for his statements Wednesday suggesting to extend the Bush-era tax rates on all but the wealthiest Americans. Bono Mack says although she and her husband disagree on this particular proposal, she thinks “Tom [Cole] presented a very thoughtful articulate position.”

Rep. Mack says, he however does not “happen to agree with his wife and congressman Cole,” and lawmakers need to continue to look for ways to cut spending. The Florida congressman adding that, “now is the time for the president and for Speaker Boehner to lead. That is what we need in this country right now in this country – leadership.”


Filed under: Fiscal cliff
The Big Tease...
November 28th, 2012
09:21 PM ET

The Big Tease...

Our Starting Point Thursday... Big Money. We'll talk about developments in the fiscal cliff negotiations and also update you on the Powerball drawing. (fun fact of the day: if we go over the fiscal cliff and Congress does nothing, a single winner of the Powerball jackpot (at $550M) would pay $16,569,200 more in taxes (taking the lump sum payout). We're also talking about the latest setback for Amb. Susan Rice. We've got:

7:15am ET - Sen. John Barrasso (R) Wyoming

7:30am ET - Rep. Adam Schiff (D) California

7:50am ET - Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and author of, "The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?"

8am ET - Rep. Tom Cole  (R) Oklahoma

8:15am ET - Steven Holcomb, author of, "My Journey from Blindness to Olympic Gold"

8:30am ET - Rep. Connie Mack (R) Florida and Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R) California

8:50am ET - John Avlon, co-Author of, "Deadline Artists – Scandals, Tragedies & Triumphs: America's Greatest Newspaper Columns"

November 28th, 2012
11:30 AM ET

Naked AIDS activists protest assistance cuts in John Boehner's office

With 34 days until the fiscal cliff, several activists have set out to offer the naked truth – by stripping to the bone.

Seven naked protestors rallied inside House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) Washington office on Tuesday to draw attention to potential cuts to the AIDS assistance programs that may occur if the U.S. slides off the fiscal cliff. The "Naked Seven," including Michael Tikili, Cassidy Gardner, Megan Mulholland, Jennifer Flynn, Stephan Georgiou, William Livsey, and Leon Tyer, joined "Starting Point" on Wednesday to discuss how cuts to AIDS assistance programs would hurt AIDS victims and their families.

"I think that a lot of people may wonder why we got naked, but I think that the important number to remember is 62,000 people will die," Jennifer Flynn, one of the "Naked Seven" says on "Starting Point."

"People with AIDS will die if these budget cuts go through, calling it sequestration, calling it the fiscal cliff really shrouds – and I'm using that literally – the issue that what we're actually talking about is cutting life-saving services for people. So at $689 million to global health programs, it's $538 million to programs that serve people with AIDS here in the United States," she says.

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Filed under: AIDS • Fiscal cliff
November 28th, 2012
11:28 AM ET

Former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman: Fiscal cliff impacts national security

As Congress continues to struggle over the spending cuts and tax increases necessary to avoid the looming fiscal cliff, the former Governor of New Jersey, Christine Todd Whitman, argues that decisions on the fiscal cliff could have a surprising impact on national security. Whitman, President of the Whitman Strategy Group, joins "Starting Point" Wednesday to take a closer look at how national security could be hurt by the fiscal cliff if Congress fails to act.

Whitman argues that after Sandy it has become increasingly clear how infrastructure affects national security. "It makes it even more important that our representatives here in Washington actually step up and say – we have our important things that we believe in very deeply and we're not going to give up on the very basics – but we understand we have a bigger job and that bigger job is to ensure that the United States is on a good, strong fiscal path because that affects everything," she says.

"When the United States falls as it has in the last five years from number one to number seven in competitiveness, that hurts us," Whitman explains. "It hurts us domestically and internationally, and that's part of national security."


Filed under: Fiscal cliff • National security
November 28th, 2012
11:24 AM ET

Fmr. Republican Pres. Candidate Tim Pawlenty weighs in on fiscal cliff talks

The United States is just under 34 days away from falling off the fiscal cliff. The January 1 deadline brings a combination of tax rate increases and deep spending cuts. And Congress is reporting slow progress on reaching a deal to avoiding that combination.

Former Republican Presidential Candidate Tim Pawlenty says, "in order for the policy airplane to fly over the fiscal cliff its going to need two wings." He goes on to explain these two wings involve working on "revenues" and "structural spending reform and containment."

Pawlenty who is now a top lobbyist for the banking industry, weighs in on the gridlock in Washington live on “Starting Point” this morning.

November 28th, 2012
11:24 AM ET

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) says entitlements should be off limits in fiscal cliff talks

Republicans have been adamant about their terms in talks with Democrats about averting the fiscal cliff. They say they will only budge on more tax revenues if Democrats put entitlements such as, social security, Medicare and Medicaid, on the table. But Democratic Senator Dick Durbin says entitlements should be off limits until this whole fiscal cliff mess is behind us. Durbin says, "the social security is a separate thing. It does not add a penny to the debt. We should deal with its long term survival and solvency and we can do that in a separate setting other than this last minute fiscal cliff negotiation."

Assistant Majority Leader of the Senate, Durbin joins “Starting Point” live from the capitol this morning.

November 28th, 2012
10:57 AM ET

Legendary singer Dionne Warwick talks music career, new CD

International music great Dionne Warwick has sold 100 million records in her five decades in the business. She’s won five Grammy’s and countless fans for hit songs like "Walk On By", "I Say A Little Prayer", and "What The World Needs Now".

Warwick is now celebrating her 50th anniversary in music with the newly released album entitled Now. She joins the Starting Point team at the studio this morning to talk about her legendary career and the new CD.

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Filed under: Music
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