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July 21st, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Government services you're willing to see reduced or eliminated?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Almost every state in the nation is hurting financially. More unemployed people along with cuts in consumer spending mean states are collecting a lot less in taxes - and that means bigger and bigger budget shortfalls.

Protesters demonstrate against cuts to social services that aid people with disabilities and the poor at the home of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Financial Times reports one estimate shows tax collections dropped by almost 12 percent during the first quarter of this year... with 45 of 50 states reporting declines. Early numbers for April and May are even worse - showing declines in tax revenue of almost 20 percent.

Some are also questioning how effective the federal stimulus package has been - if states are spending billions of these stimulus dollars and still can't close budget shortfalls. There are only two choices when it comes to this: either raise taxes or cut expenses.

Many states have made cuts to school districts, health care, programs for the disabled, the prison system and state employees... California has even been issuing IOUs for things like welfare checks.

The bad news is this may not be a temporary situation. These cuts to state budgets may be the new reality going forward... Almost two-thirds of states are projecting budget gaps for 2011... and at least 15 states already foresee gaps as far out as 2012 - when the federal stimulus money will have dried up.

Here’s my question to you: What government services are you willing to see reduced or eliminated?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Economy • Government
July 21st, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Political stakes for Obama when it comes to health care?

President Obama has a lot riding on his health care reform plan-and at this point it's too close to call. The president insists the legislation isn't about him or about politics... but rather about a health care system that is breaking America's families, businesses, and economy.

President Obama delivered remarks this morning about health care reform legislation in the Rose Garden at the White House.

Not everyone's buying that argument and the Republicans smell blood.

South Carolina Republican Senator Jim DeMint said that stopping the president's push for health care could be his "Waterloo." Conservative columnist Bill Kristol has urged opponents of the president's plan not "to let up on their criticism."

Republicans are screaming about the costs - pointing to a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that these plans won't pay for themselves - and instead will wind up increasing the budget deficit.

The chairman of the Republican Party calls Obama's plan socialism.

And - it seems like the Republicans are gaining traction. Approval of the president's handling of health care is slipping, and Mr. Obama has been forced to take his case directly to the American people - with a prime-time news conference tomorrow followed by a town hall on Thursday.

Health care reform was a major part of the president's campaign platform; and if he doesn't get it through Congress now, it's likely to be much more difficult, if not impossible, to get it done later - once Congress starts pandering to voters for the midterm elections.

Here’s my question to you: When it comes to health care reform, how big are the political stakes for President Obama?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Health care • President Barack Obama
July 21st, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Govt. cover up research on cell phones & driving?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Here's another example of government transparency. Not. Using a cell phone while driving is dangerous; but for some reason the government didn't want the American people to know about it. The New York Times reports that in 2003, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration withheld hundreds of pages of research on the hazards of cell phone use while driving.

The former head of the agency says he was urged not to release this information so as not to upset members of Congress who wanted the agency to stick to gathering safety data... He says he was told the agency might lose billions of dollars if Congress thought they were lobbying states.

But critics say not sharing this information with the public has cost lives; and allowed people to get used to multi-tasking while driving. Some experts consider the practice as dangerous as drunken driving.

Researchers wanted to recommend that drivers not use cell phones - including text messaging - while driving, except in an emergency. They also warned that hands-free laws might not be the answer - since it's the cell phone conversation itself - not just holding the phone - that can distract drivers.

It's estimated that in 2002, cell phone use by drivers caused 955 deaths and 240,000 accidents.

Here’s my question to you: Why would the government suppress research about the danger of cell phone use while driving?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Government • The New York Times