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January 27th, 2009
04:23 PM ET

How would you rate Pres. Obama’s first week?

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It's been one week since Barack Obama became our 44th president, and a busy week it's been–signing executive orders, meeting with his teams of advisers on the economy, national security, Iraq and the Middle East. He's also been meeting with lawmakers from both parties trying to win support for his emergency stimulus package.

How's he doing so far?

In addition to getting his feet wet, the new President is learning some things along the way.

For example, the White House press room is where the press is, and if you don't want the press to ask you questions, don't go there.

If you're going to ban lobbyists from working for you, you have to ban the one that used to lobby for Raytheon from working in your Defense Department as well.

If you're going to close Guantanamo, you have to have a plan for what to do with the inmates there. A couple of them have turned up in recent al Qaeda videos.

You can't overturn President Bush's executive order banning abortion funding for charitable groups overseas without incurring the wrath of right-to-lifers in this country.

And picking a fight with the corpulent Oxycontin aficionado of right wing talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, will mobilize a bunch more on the conservative right and begin to down your approval ratings.

But the new President seems to be weathering the storm quite well. The latest Gallup Poll, taken over the weekend, gives him a 69% job approval rating.

Here’s my question to you: How would you rate President Obama's first week in office?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

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Filed under: Obama Administration
January 26th, 2009
05:55 PM ET

Bipartisanship: Is it already dead?

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama had hoped the political capital he won on the campaign trail would pay off in Washington and allow him to push through his emergency stimulus bill without too much hassle. But after less than a week in office he has run headlong into the partisan battles he promised to eliminate in the Nation's Capital.

Eric Holder is sworn in during his confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on January 15, 2009. Holder's nomination to be the next Attorney General has been a source of contention between the President and many Republicans.

The new President is facing sharp resistance to his $825-billion stimulus package that the House is expected to consider on Wednesday. Questions about how the money will be spent stand in the way. Not that surprising when you consider the mystery of the $750-billion Wall Street bailout President Bush signed off on last year. We still don't know where a lot of that money went.

President Obama is pulling out all the stops to get everyone on the same page. He's meeting with his economic advisers, talking with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, and continues to tell the American people how bad things are and warn them to brace for things to get worse.

And it's not just the stimulus package the President is having problems with. Republicans are holding up the confirmation of his Attorney General, Eric Holder.

And they can't be thrilled that the new President is signing one executive order after another to undo the policies of his Republican predecessor.

These are all indications that this isn't going to be the smooth sailing President Obama had in mind.

Here’s my question to you: Is the spirit of bipartisanship already dead in Washington?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

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January 26th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Pelosi says birth control will help the economy. Is she right?

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The $825-billion stimulus package that President Obama wants on his desk by mid-February is supposed to start turning the economy around. The President talked about transparency and has even announced that a Web site will give an accounting so people can keep track of how the money is spent. He's also vowed that there will be no pork in the bill.

House Speaker Pelosi recently said that contraception would “reduce costs to the states and to the federal government.”

Over the weekend lawmakers got on their soap boxes. Democrats were out peddling the plan and Republicans were pointing out the problems.

On ABC, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended hundreds of millions of dollars in the stimulus package earmarked for family planning.

She said family planning reduces costs and explained that the stimulus plan includes assistance to states and part of that includes children's health and education. That includes contraception, which she said will, "reduce costs to the states and to the federal government."

What exactly did she mean? Are the millions of dollars for birth control supposed to stop people from having babies? She's starting to sound like Chairman Mao.

When asked if she had any apologies for those remarks, Madam Speaker answered, "no apologies."

Here’s my question to you: Is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi right when she says adding birth control to the stimulus package will help the economy?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

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January 26th, 2009
01:10 PM ET

How secure is your job?

ALT TEXT

An unemployed Coloradoan signs up at a job fair in Denver, Colorado on January 22, 2009. Unemployment in the United States, now more than seven percent nationally, is at its highest level in many years.  (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

If you want proof this recession has legs, you need look no farther than a series of announcements this Monday morning that companies continue to slash jobs right and left.

It started with construction giant Caterpillar announcing plans to cut 20,000 jobs.

Home Depot said they're cutting 7,000 employees and will close their high-end EXPO stores.

Sprint-Nextel said they are cutting 8,000 jobs.

And there are reports that Starbucks is going to slash 1,000 jobs. That's in addition to previously announced cuts.

There was also the announcement that pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is buying competitor Wyeth, a move that will cut more than 19,000 jobs.

And this afternoon GM announced plans to cut 2,000 jobs.

ING and Philips Electronics, both based in the Netherlands with employees in the U.S., plan to cut 7,000 and 6,000 jobs respectively. One estimate is that 56,000 jobs were cut today alone.

Last week it was Microsoft and before that Circuit City. These days just about everybody knows somebody who has lost a job.

The National Association for Business Economics, a trade group for private companies, says 39% of their companies plan to cut their payroll within 6 months.

Here’s my question to you: How secure do you feel about your job?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Economy • US Economy
January 23rd, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Pres. Obama’s press room visit: Was substantive question unfair?

ALT TEXT

President Barack Obama took an impromptu tour of the White House press work area yesterday. The president made the surprise visit on his second full day in office. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

When President Obama made a surprise visit to the White House press room yesterday he was asked how he justifies his new policy banning lobbyists in his administration when his pick for Deputy Secretary of Defense lobbied for Raytheon.

President Obama said he just came to visit and this is what happens. He added that he wouldn't be able to stop around informally to visit if he gets grilled every time.

When the reporter from Politico pressed further the President got serious and, by some accounts, sounded irritated. He said, "We will be having a press conference at which time you can feel free to [ask] questions. Right now, I just wanted to say hello and introduce myself to you guys - that's all I was trying to do."

During the 10-minute visit, President Obama was also asked if he's been able to work out or play basketball. And the President asked some questions of his own about who sits where and so on, as he checked out reporters' offices, shook hands with members of the press corps and noted how small the space is.

Here’s my question to you: Was it unfair to ask President Obama a substantive question during an informal visit to the White House press room?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

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January 23rd, 2009
05:00 PM ET

How should the Obama Administration approach Mideast peace?

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama proclaimed that the U.S. will actively and aggressively seek lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

An Israeli soldier fires tear gas at Palestinian stone-throwers during a demonstration by Hamas supporters to celebrate what they called the 'Gaza war victory' following the weekly Friday prayers in the West Bank city of Hebron on January 23, 2009.

Last month Israel launched an attack on Gaza that lasted three weeks destroying buildings and claiming lives. A unilateral cease fire was reached last week, and President Obama has urged Israel to open its borders with Gaza.

The new President also announced that George Mitchell will serve as special envoy for Middle East peace under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Mitchell's credentials include negotiating the cease fire in Northern Ireland in 1998.

This is yet another break from the Bush administration that avoided appointing someone to the post.

Now former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice negotiated a deal for open border crossings to Gaza back in 2005 but Israel often shut them down because of security concerns.

Israeli officials say they will not open the border if it, in any way, strengthens or legitimizes Hamas.

Here’s my question to you: How should the Obama administration approach achieving peace in the Middle East?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

January 23rd, 2009
02:08 PM ET

Is it a mistake for the GOP to oppose stimulus plan?

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama's hopes for broad bipartisan support for his $825-billion emergency stimulus package have been dashed.

US House Minority Leader John Boehner (L)R-OH and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) make remarks to the press outside the West Wing after their meeting with President Barack Obama today at the White House.

The President wants the emergency bill on his desk by President's Day. But there's an obstacle in the way: Opposition from Republicans that seems to be growing by the day. Now they are complaining they've been shut out of the process of writing the bill. They are pointing a finger at the Democrats for ignoring the President's call for bipartisanship.

We're in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Voters made it clear they're sick and tired of partisan warfare in Washington. Is anybody listening?

Today President Obama met with GOP leaders to hear their concerns. House Republican leader John Boehner said he and his colleagues feel the package is too expensive and too slow. Republicans want tax relief in the hands of Americans right away.

The President said he would take the Republican concerns under consideration. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said President Obama will go to Capitol Hill next week to meet with lawmakers and try to get this thing done.

My question to you is: Are Republicans making a mistake by opposing President Obama's stimulus plan?

Here’s my question to you: Are Republicans making a mistake by opposing President Obama's stimulus plan?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Republican Party • Stimulus Plan
January 22nd, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Possible early difficulties for Pres. Obama?

ALT TEXT

Where is President Obama likely to encounter the most difficulty early in his presidency? (PHOTO CREDIT: JIM WATSON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Every president gets a honeymoon period. Some are shorter than others. But with an approval rating in the 80s, President Obama has lots of political capital to spend and presumably a long time before he runs out of good will.

That being said, he's in a precarious position right from the start. We are in the midst of an economic crisis that no one seems to have a firm understanding of, and there are heated debates already about the best way to proceed when it comes to bailouts, spending programs, tax cuts, etc.

Then there are the wars. Pull out of Iraq and step it up in Afghanistan. What if Iran comes into Iraq as we leave through another door?

We haven't been attacked in seven and a half years, but terrorism is still a fact of life. Global warming, health insurance, pick something you like.

Nevertheless, the new president is off to a good start. And this time we appear to be in the hands of someone less inclined to shoot from the hip. But even President Obama's coolness under fire will be tested at some point… either by domestic politics or foreign affairs.

Here’s my question to you: Where is President Obama likely to encounter the most difficulty early in his presidency?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

January 22nd, 2009
05:43 PM ET

Banning Enhanced Interrogation: Does it invite U.S. enemies?

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama issued three executive orders today that signal a sharp departure from the Bush Administration. One of them bans torture. It ends the CIA practice of so-called enhanced interrogations and requires the Army field manual be followed for terror interrogations.

Leg shackles sit on the floor at Camp 6 detention center at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Bush administration and intelligence agencies under Bush's command said the tactics were the only way to get information from suspects being held captive in the war on terrorism.

The techniques include forceful grabbing and slapping, forced standing for more than 40 hours while shackled and handcuffed, holding naked prisoners in a 50 degree cell while splashing them with cold water, and waterboarding which simulates drowning.

At one point the former CIA director and former attorney general both testified to lawmakers about the value of the practices.

Human rights organizations, of course, said the U.S. was out of line and said they were violating international laws.

It's been the subject of much debate since coming into practice in 2002 and now President Obama has put a stop to it.

Here’s my question to you: Does forbidding so-called "enhanced" interrogation techniques send an invitation to enemies of the United States?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Guantanamo Bay • US Military
January 22nd, 2009
01:15 PM ET

Can Pres. Obama change the way Washington does business?

ALT TEXT

Can President Barack Obama change the culture of Washington? (PHOTO CREDIT: SAUL LOEB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama didn't waste time before getting to work and making changes. As he promised on the campaign trail, he is determined to make a clean break from the policies of the Bush administration.

So far he's ordered the closing of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay within a year, ordered all cases of terror suspects be reviewed, and banned torture.

The new President also issued a freeze on the salaries of senior White House staffers and implemented new ethics rules for staff who leave their jobs.

He promised openness and transparency and instructed his team to follow his example. This is a sharp contrast to the secrecy of his predecessors where it seemed the entire eight years was based on executive privilege.

President Obama is moving at lightning speed in a town that usually moves at a snail's pace. He wanted an emergency economic stimulus bill signed before his inauguration but was told by lawmakers it will take until February.

Here’s my question to you: Can President Obama really change the way business is done in Washington?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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