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December 1st, 2008
03:24 PM ET

Warnings of mortgage meltdown: Why government did not act?

The government was warned of financial crisis and mortgage meltdown years before it happened.

The government was warned of financial crisis and mortgage meltdown years before it happened.

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It's official. We're in a recession, and we have been in one since December of last year according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. That's their job. They tell us when we're in a recession. Any American could have told you we've been in a recession for the past year, but the government agency that's supposed to tell us these things just got around to it today.

The government is great. According to a new analysis of documents conducted by the Associated Press, the government was warned of the coming financial crisis and mortgage meltdown years before it happened. But the Bush administration ignored the warnings under aggressive lobbying and promises of stability from some of same financial institutions that ultimately failed.

"Expect fallout, expect foreclosures, expect horror stories," one California mortgage lender wrote to U.S. regulators in January 2006. Some bank regulators proposed capping risky mortgages and providing clearer explanations of what mortgage-backed securities are. But regulators delayed putting new rules in place for the mortgage industry until later that year. By then it was too late. The meltdown was well underway.

The Bush administration has always been about trusting market forces and avoiding government intervention in the economy. The Associated Press points out that that philosophy "ironically has ushered in the most massive government intervention since the 1930s."

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean that the White House and Congress failed to act earlier on warnings about the mortgage meltdown?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: US Congress • US Economy
December 1st, 2008
02:26 PM ET

Nuclear weapons: What should Obama's first priority be?

 Click the play button to see what Jack and our viewers had to say.

Click the play button to see what Jack and our viewers had to say.

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

On Inauguration Day, Barack Obama gets the "football." It's not what you think. This football is the small leather-bound metal briefcase that contains the U.S. nuclear launch codes. It will be handed off to Obama at his swearing in, and from that moment on will go everywhere with him. Think of it as Armageddon in a box.

The world is awash in potential nuclear weapons problems right now. North Korea already has them. Iran is racing toward acquiring them. The main nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia expires next year. And tensions between India and Pakistan are on the rise in the wake of the terror attacks in Mumbai last week. Pakistan is a nuclear power. It's a daunting array of problems for any president to face.

Watch: Cafferty: Nuclear priorities?

So what's inside the football? A secure phone that can connect President Obama to the nuclear command centers at the Pentagon, Colorado Springs and "Site R," a bunkered emergency command center just over the Maryland border in Pennsylvania. Through these centers, the president can reach the 1,300 U.S. strategic nuclear weapons which are always on alert. There is also a list of various attack options, everything from a single shot to an all-out war.

Here’s my question to you: When it comes to nuclear weapons, what should Barack Obama's first priority be as president?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Barack Obama
December 1st, 2008
02:25 PM ET

Are presidential pardons a good idea?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

More than 2,000 convicts are asking President George W. Bush for a pardon or a commutation of their prison sentences before he leaves office next month. Among them, junk bond king Michael Milken, media mogul Conrad Black and American-born Taliban soldier John Walker Lindh. They've all applied to the Justice Department for this free pass of forgiveness.

Last week, the president issued 14 pardons and commuted two prison sentences, all for so-called "small time criminals." During his eight years in office, he's granted a total of 171 pardons and has commuted eight sentences. A president has complete freedom to pardon anyone he wishes, and he doesn't have to justify his decisions or explain himself to anyone.

For example, President Bush could also excuse people who have not been charged with any crimes in order to protect them in the future. People like former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and baseball pitcher Roger Clemens.

The White House has declined to comment about future pardons, but some people close to the president say they doubt he would take such action. He did, however, commute Lewis "Scooter" Libby's prison sentence. Libby was the only administration official convicted in connection with the Valerie Plame CIA leak scandal.

So far President Bush has granted fewer than half the pardons Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan did.

Here’s my question to you: Are presidential pardons a good idea?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST