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July 2nd, 2009
06:00 PM ET

What to do about California's disastrous financial situation?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

California is on the brink of a financial meltdown. Once the richest state in the union, California has run out of money and is being forced to issue billions of dollars of IOUs to taxpayers, county agencies and small businesses.

Proposed budget cuts threaten funding For California universities, including UCLA where students here are seen passing the bronze statue of their campus mascot, the Bruin - a California grizzly bear.

California's deficit was already at a whopping $24.3 billion... and the failure of the state legislature to agree upon cost-cutting measures made it grow by another $2 billion.

Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to use deep spending cuts and borrowing... while Democrats push for tax hikes and less-severe cuts.

Schwarzenegger has declared a fiscal emergency - and is giving lawmakers 45 days to figure things out. He's also ordered state employees to take a third unpaid day each month - which brings their total pay cut this year to about 14-percent.

Meanwhile the IOUs could wind up causing a lot of damage - especially for small businesses that rely on state contracts. Counties will have to find other ways to fund social programs - including those for alcohol abuse, mental health and services for the elderly and disabled. And California's universities will look for other ways to help students who won't get state grants.

The federal government is also threatening to seize six state parks if they're closed to help balance the state's budget.

California's deepening financial crisis could be a preview of things to come for other states as money dries up and citizens brace for tax increases and cuts in services.

Here’s my question to you: What should be done about California's disastrous financial situation?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Economy
July 2nd, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Good idea to allow guns in bars?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

They didn't call it the Wild, Wild West for nothing... and in a giant step backwards in time, guns may soon be allowed in Arizona bars. The state Senate has passed a bill that would let people with concealed weapons permits carry a gun into businesses that serve alcohol.

The measure now goes to Republican Governor Jan Brewer - who hasn't said if she'll sign it, but is a long-time supporter of gun rights.

Critics say guns and alcohol are a dangerous combination. Really? Some restaurant and bar owners are worried it would jeopardize public safety, increase employer liability and hurt tourism. They think the bill will in essence turn the clock back to the days of the Wild West.

One Democratic lawmaker who voted against the measure says: "We don't let people drink and drive, why should we let them drink and carry guns?"

But supporters insist they should be able to protect themselves regardless of where they are. One of the bill's sponsors says the most important thing is that people carrying guns into bars aren't allowed to drink. Fine, but if the gun is concealed, how do you know who has a weapon, and who doesn't? And by the time you find out... it might be too late.

The National Rifle Association says 40 states have similar laws and insists it's just common sense since criminal activity happens everywhere.

Here’s my question to you: Is it a good idea to allow guns in bars?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: United States
July 2nd, 2009
04:00 PM ET

In light of recession, how will this 4th of July be different?

ALT TEXT

(PHOTO CREDIT: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As millions of Americans get ready for the July 4th holiday weekend, some more dreary news on the job front.

The government reported another 467,000 jobs were lost in June - far worse than forecast and the first time in four months that the number of jobs lost went up.

The unemployment rate - now at 9.5 percent - has gone up for nine straight months and sits at a 26-year high. One expert describes these numbers as not catastrophic... but "still pretty damn lousy."

As the recession drags on, a new Gallup poll shows 71-percent of Americans say they have cut back spending... while 88-percent say they're watching spending very closely. This is despite the fact that 78-percent of those surveyed say they have enough money to buy only what they need.

21-percent say they worried "yesterday" about spending too much.

Gallup suggests these results show Americans may have reached a "new normal" of spending less and that frugality may become a permanent part of the national fabric.

In the wake of the recession, they also looked at Americans' drinking habits, and found the percentage of adults who drink alcohol has stayed fairly steady at 64-percent. There are no major changes reported in how much drinkers drink - and their preferred drink is still beer.

It's a problem. The recession may very well give people more reasons to drink - but they have less money to do it with.

Here's my question to you: In light of the recession, how will this July Fourth celebration differ from years past?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Recession • United States