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September 3rd, 2009
06:00 PM ET

What should president say in health care speech to Congress?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama will try to re-gain the upper hand in the debate over health care reform by addressing a joint session of Congress next Wednesday.

The White House and the Democrats endured a brutal month of August - with rowdy town hall meetings and lots of Republican criticism. Anti-reform forces spent millions trying to defeat the legislation.

President Obama will reportedly use his speech to lay out more specifics for his plan. Specifics have been sorely missing from the president on this from the beginning, and he's come under a lot of fire for only outlining broad principles for what he wants... and leaving most of the details to Congress. Big mistake.

Republicans are already saying the president's speech will be too little, too late... they say the real problem is the substance... and that the American people aren't buying what he's trying to sell. But Democrats are hoping that a more forceful pitch from the president will help move this thing along.

In fact, the Vice President is promising success when it comes to health care. Joe Biden says: "We're going to get something substantial... but there's going to be an awful lot of screaming and hollering before we get there."

Meanwhile - polls show Americans are evenly split on whether to support the president's health care plan... six in 10 younger Americans support it - while six in 10 senior citizens oppose it. It might be worth remembering that it's the seniors who vote in large numbers.

Here’s my question to you: What should Pres. Obama say about health care reform in his address to Congress next week?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Congress • Health care • President Barack Obama
September 3rd, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Is U.S. still in a recession?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Almost nine in 10 Americans think the country is still in a recession - more than 21 months after it began. A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll shows 87 percent of those surveyed say we're in a serious, moderate or mild recession... while 69 percent say things are going badly in the U.S.

The good news is that number is down from a high of 83 percent in November, and 77 percent in April.

Also - fewer Americans now think we're in a "serious" recession than those who did in the spring.

And, although the economy is still the top issue according to most Americans.... this poll suggests it's dropping in importance.

While the American people might not be convinced that the end is in sight, a lot of economists say things are turning around. The Federal Reserve says it's more confident that the economy is stabilizing... although they're not sure what the recovery will look like.

Recent data has shown the economy expanding, but so far it hasn't been enough to turn around the job market. We still have 9.4 percent unemployment; and that number is expected to top 10 percent.

It's unlikely we'll see any more significant changes until consumer spending - which makes up two-thirds of the economy– picks up again. And with an overwhelming majority of Americans saying we're in a recession - it doesn't seem like they'll be reaching for their wallets any time soon.

Here’s my question to you: Do you believe the U.S. is still in a recession?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.


Filed under: Recession • United States
September 3rd, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Six lobbyists per lawmaker enough on health care?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Want to know why they're having trouble getting health care reform passed in Washington? Consider this: There are six.... count 'em - six, lobbyists for each of the 535 members of Congress.

This translates to 3,300 lobbyists working on health care - or three times the number who lobby on defense. These groups reportedly spent more than $263 million on lobbying during the first six months of this year - with drug makers alone spending more than $134 million.

One expert tells Bloomberg news: "The sheer quantity of money that's sloshed around Washington is drowning out the voices of citizens and the groups that speak up for them."

And let's talk about that money for a minute. According to The Center for Responsive Politics, health-related companies gave almost $170 million to federal lawmakers in 2007 and 2008.

Max Baucus - chairman of the Senate Finance Committee - got $3 million from the health and insurance industries from 2003 – 2008.

The ranking Republican on that committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley, took in more than $2 million since 2003.

Over in the House - Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel received $1.6 million from the health sector and its employees in the last two years. And ranking Republican Dave Camp received almost $1 million in that time.

And this is just a few of them.

Here’s my question to you: When it comes to health care reform, are six lobbyists for each member of Congress enough?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Congress • Health care • Lobbyists