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September 22nd, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Should Congress keep extending unemployment benefits?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: Chris Hondros/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The House is considering a bill today that could help more than one million jobless Americans. It's an emergency measure, widely expected to pass, that would extend unemployment benefits for an additional 13 weeks for people living in states where the jobless rate tops 8-point-5 percent. That includes 27 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

This would be in addition to the 26 weeks of benefits that most states offer, and the federally-funded extensions of up to 53 weeks that Congress approved last year.

As this recession drags on and the jobless rate goes up, lawmakers have been under pressure to extend benefits... with governors from 22 states calling on Congress to act quickly. It's estimated that there are now more than six potential workers for each job opening - that's up from 1.7 when the recession began.

But critics say that additional unemployment payments can be a disincentive to looking for a job... and that it could be counterproductive to extend benefits now - when the economy is showing signs of recovery.

The bill's sponsor says it won't add to the deficit because it would extend a federal unemployment tax paid by employers... and require better reporting on new hires so the government doesn't keep paying them unemployment benefits. Senate Democrats say they'll address the measure as soon as the House votes.

State unemployment checks are around $300 a week, plus another $25 from the stimulus act. The national unemployment rate is now at 9.7 percent and expected to be above 10 percent for much of next year.

Here’s my question to you: Should Congress keep extending unemployment benefits?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

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Filed under: Congress • Unemployment • Unemployment / Economy
September 22nd, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Congressman who called Obama a liar has since raised $2 million?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Congressman Joe Wilson has raised over $2 million since he called President Obama a liar. It hasn't even been two weeks since the Republican from South Carolina carried on like a child on the floor of the House during the president's health care speech before a joint session of Congress.

Rep. Joe Wilson shouts, "You lie!" after President Obama denies the health plan would cover illegal immigrants.

In fact, Wilson's outburst has been a money-maker for both parties. Wilson and his Democratic opponent in next year's election, Rob Miller, each raised more than $1.5 million in the week following Wilson's stunt.

Initially, Wilson was quick to apologize to the president for his behavior; but since then he's become more defiant. In videos on his campaign web site, Wilson says he's "under attack by liberals" and vows not to be "muzzled."

The House voted last week to formally reprimand Wilson, but that hasn't stopped the congressman from raking in the big bucks from all around the country. In fact, he's become somewhat of a hero to conservative activists - being invited to speak in other states.

But there's a darker side to all this... Some people, including former President Jimmy Carter, say Wilson's actions were racially motivated. Wilson insists that's not the case, although critics point to his past actions - like a 1999 vote against removing the confederate flag from South Carolina's Capitol dome.

Here’s my question to you: What does it say when the congressman who called the president a liar before a joint session of Congress has since raised $2 million?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

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September 22nd, 2009
04:00 PM ET

More important for U.S. president to be liked or feared outside the country?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama may not be leaving the country this week - but it's likely his global support will be put to the test during the meetings of the U.N. here in New York and the G-20 in Pittsburgh.

As Mr. Obama meets with world leaders and addresses issues like climate change, the global economy and the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East - there's no question that this president is better liked overseas than his predecessor, George W. Bush.

A recent Pew survey finds significant support for President Obama still throughout Africa, Europe and Latin America. Attitudes toward the U.S. are also more favorable in some mostly Muslim countries.

The survey shows America's image has improved markedly in most parts of the world, reflecting global confidence in Barack Obama. In a lot of places - opinions of the U.S. are as high as they were before Bush took office.

But the question may be: Does it really matter? What's changed on the international stage as a result of President Obama's increase in popularity? The answer is - Not a whole lot...

North Korea, Iran, Russia, China, Afghanistan and Iraq all still present the same challenges to this country as they did before Mr. Obama won the election.

And - just because other countries may like our president - it doesn't always mean they're going to support his foreign policy decisions.

And the arrest of suspects in a terror plot this past week inside the U.S. indicates the terrorists haven't suddenly decided to lay down their arms and become our friends.

It's nice to be liked, but being president of the United States isn't necessarily about winning a popularity contest overseas.

Here’s my question to you: Is it more important for an American president to be liked or feared outside the country?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

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