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December 15th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Last chance for health care reform in U.S.?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It may not have been pushing the panic button but it was close.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT)

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT)

President Obama summoned the Senate Democrats to the White House in a last ditch effort to get something they can call health care reform through the Senate without being embarrassed.

The president was expected to characterize this as the "last chance" to pass comprehensive reform. It's yet to be determined if it's either comprehensive or actual reform.

The Senate is racing to pass this thing by Christmas - whatever it is. The problem is they need 60 votes, and with Democrats, that means they have 60 opinions.

The biggest obstacle has been Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut - an independent who caucuses with the Democrats. Lieberman has threatened to join a Republican filibuster if the bill includes either the public option - or a provision allowing people older than 55 to buy into Medicare.

Lieberman couldn't even win his state's Democratic primary last time around - but he's threatening to block the whole enchilada here.

In 2006, Joe Lieberman ranked second in the Senate in the amount of money he took from the insurance industry. His state, Connecticut, has more than 22,000 people who work for health insurance companies.

In the last 10 years, Lieberman has taken more than a million dollars in contributions from insurance companies. One e-mailer called him "Senator Aetna."

Here’s my question to you: Is this the last chance ever for health care reform in the U.S.?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Health care • United States
December 15th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Will the truth come out about the Bush administration?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Nearly a year after Pres. George W. Bush left office - computer technicians have found 22 million e-mails that his administration said were missing.

(L to R) Condoleeza Rice, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld.

(L to R) Condoleeza Rice, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld.

Two watchdog groups - who had sued over these documents - say the e-mails had been "mislabeled and effectively lost."

But - it could still be years before the public gets to see any of this stuff. First they have to go through the National Archives - they decide which e-mails get released. Records from the Bush White House won't be available until 2014 - at the earliest.

A former spokesman for Bush says too much is being made of the discovery of these e-mails, and that misleading statements about the former administration show "a continued anti-Bush agenda." What he fails to mention is that there is a law that says records of the president must be preserved. But then the Bush White House often ignored laws when it was convenient for them to do so.

You suppose it's just coincidence that the 22 million e-mails from 2003 to 2005 cover some pretty significant periods of history - including the months leading up to the Iraq war, the firings of U.S. attorneys by the Bush administration and the announcement of a criminal investigation into the leaking of CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson's name? Sure.

Here’s my question to you: Will the public ever get the truth of what happened during the Bush administration?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Bush Administration
December 14th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Federal workers make twice as much as private sector workers

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Turns out federal government workers haven't had it so bad during the recession... on average making nearly twice as much as workers in the private sector.

USA Today puts the average federal worker's pay at about $71,000... compared with about $40,000 in the private sector.

What's more - the number of federal workers making $100,000 or more went from 14-percent to 19-percent during the first 18-months of the recession... This at a time when more than seven million Americans lost their jobs in the private sector.

And, This increase in federal workers making 6-figure salaries is happening everywhere - big and small agencies, high and low-tech jobs. The reasons for the jump in pay are substantial pay raises along with new salary rules.

Consider this: Federal employees will get a two-percent pay raise in January 2010.

50 million Social Security recipients will get no cost of living increase next year for the first time in more than 30 years. But government workers are getting a raise. The reason is that social security increases are pegged to the cost of living. And that actually went down over the last 12 months - which means the cost of living is going down.

So… no increase for the nation's elderly on Social Security… but government workers get a raise - even though they already average almost twice as much as workers in the private sector.

Makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean that the average federal worker makes almost twice as much as the average private sector worker?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 6pm 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: Government
December 14th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Time to take aggressive action against Iran?

ALT TEXT

Iranian soldiers stand near a S-200 surface-to-air missile during military maneuvers. (PHOTO CREDIT: Ali Shayegan/AFP/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

When it comes to Iran's nuclear program... the country just keeps thumbing its nose at the rest of the world.

The Times of London reports it has gotten its hands on secret documents that show Iran is working on testing a key final part for a nuclear bomb. The notes describe a four-year plan to test the component that triggers a nuclear explosion.

It's believed these documents are from 2007 - four years after Iran was thought to have ended its weapons program.

Tehran has repeatedly said that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but with these new documents, experts insist there's no possible use for what the Iranians are doing here - except for a nuclear bomb.

The latest revelation will likely increase pressure for tougher UN sanctions... not like it really matters. Iran has already pretty much ignored 3 sets of sanctions meant to curb its uranium enrichment program.

Meanwhile tens of thousands of students filled the streets of Iran for two days last week in the biggest anti-government protests in months. Many protesters shouted slogans against the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and chanted "Death to the Dictator."

The U.S. insists it won't sit by and ignore the protests in Iran... with one top diplomat saying the Iranian people "deserve decent treatment from their government."

Also today - Iran says it will try those three American hikers jailed since crossing the Iraqi border last summer. Iran has accused the Americans of spying - but the U.S. insists they were tourists. Some worry Iran could use them as bargaining chips in nuclear talks.

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Iran
December 14th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Do you think the recession is over?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Depending on which member of the Obama administration you ask - the recession may or may not be over.

There were mixed messages coming this weekend from some of the president's top economic aides.

Larry Summers, head of the National Economic Council, said: "Today, everybody agrees that the recession is over, and the question is what the pace of the expansion is going to be."

He pointed out the U.S. was losing 700,000 jobs a month when the president took office - and last month we lost 11,000 jobs. He says there should be job growth by spring.

But wait... When Christina Romer - head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers - was asked if the recession is over, she said: "Of course not. For the people on Main Street and throughout this country, they are still suffering." Romer says she won't say the recession is over until the unemployment rate is back to about five percent. Right now - it's at 10-percent.

The Obama administration is doing a balancing act here. On the one hand - they want to show optimism that the economy is recovering - after all, there is an election in November. But - they also want to appear sensitive to the difficult time that millions of Americans are still going through.

However, saying both these things at the same time is confusing.

Here’s my question to you: In light of mixed messages coming from the Obama administration, do you think the recession is over?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Obama Administration • Recession
December 11th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Ethically, Congress ranks lower than car salesmen

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

When it comes to ethics - Congress scores lower than car salesmen.

For the first time in Gallup's annual poll, a majority of those surveyed - 55-percent - say the honesty and ethical standards of members of Congress are "low" or "very low." That number has more than doubled since 2000.

The decline in Congress' ethics rating in the past year has occurred almost equally among Republicans, independents and Democrats.

The most-highly rated professions include nurses, pharmacists, doctors, police officers and engineers.

Scraping the bottom of the barrel along with members of Congress: Car and insurance salespeople, stockbrokers, HMO managers and lawyers.

Telemarketers and lobbyists weren't included in this poll - but have received even lower ratings than Congress in the past.

It's a sad reflection of how Americans view the people they send to Washington to represent them. But it should come as no surprise considering the shennanigans that go on in the Capitol:

  • Like former Cong. William Jefferson, recently sentenced to 13-years in prison... in a corruption case where he famously hid 90 grand in cash in his freezer...
  • Or Senator John Ensign - who admitted to an affair with the wife of a staffer, paid the family almost 100-thousand dollars, and then allegedly got the husband a lobbying job, where he lobbied Ensign
  • Or Congressman Charlie Rangel - still up to his ears in ethics investigations tied to his personal finances

And Senator Max Baucus of Montana - who faces accusations that he nominated his girlfriend for a U.S. attorney job.

And that's just skimming the surface… we didn't mention Larry Craig, Mark Foley, David Vitter… it's a very long list.

Here’s my question to you: Ethically speaking, what does it mean that members of Congress rank lower than car salesmen?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Congress
December 11th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Should the Patriot Act be allowed to expire?

ALT TEXT

Five Americans were arrested in Pakistan this week, accused of plotting a terror attack.

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The arrest of five American Muslims in Pakistan is just the latest example of the growing and alarming trend of homegrown terrorism.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says "Home-based terrorism is here... and it will be part of the threat picture we must now confront."

The experts say recent cases make 2009 the most dangerous year since 9/11... They include:

  • A Chicago man charged with planning the Mumbai terror attack
  • The mass murders at Fort Hood, which some suspect was a terror attack
  • Major arrests of Americans accused of plotting with al Qaeda - including one New York bomb plot

Extremism suspects joining foreign networks - like Somali-Americans going to fight in Somalia

And the FBI rounding up homegrown terror suspects in Dallas, Detroit and Raleigh, North Carolina - claiming they broke up plots to attack a synagogue, government and military buildings

Meanwhile unless Congress acts before the end of the year, three provisions of the anti-terrorism Patriot Act are set to expire - the parts that grant law enforcement domestic surveillance powers.

Some say the fact that Congress hasn't acted on the Patriot Act so close to the deadline is "just crazy"... they suggest the threat has been clear in places like Fort Hood and we need to protect ourselves.

But critics claim the Patriot Act disregards civil liberties, goes against constitutional freedoms, and should be allowed to die a natural death.

Here’s my question to you: With a rise in homegrown terrorism, should the Patriot Act be allowed to expire?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Government
December 11th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Mandatory population control to fight global warming?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

While world leaders talk about combating climate change in Copenhagen - some say population control is the only way to really fight it.

Newborns lie on a hospital bed in Beijing.

Newborns lie on a hospital bed in Beijing.

The Chinese instituted a policy limiting the number of children each family can have 30-years ago. And they claim that since then, it has prevented 400-million births - and saved carbon emissions to the tune of 18-million tons a year.

And it's not just the Chinese. There's a piece in the Canadian newspaper The Financial Post which suggests: "The real inconvenient truth" is that humans are overpopulating the world.

It suggests that every nation should adopt China's one-child policy; because if we don't control the earth's population, we will eventually destroy or run out of everything - from other species to vegetation, resources, the atmosphere, oceans and water supply - and that's whether the globe overheats or not.

This piece points out that despite China's dirty coal plants - it is a world leader in creating policy to combat the destruction of the environment.

One study shows that if from now on, every woman gave birth to only one child - the world's population would drop from 6.5 billion now... to 5.5 billion in 2050. If we do nothing - the population could soar to an unsustainable nine-billion in that same time.

Needless to say there are lots of people who disagree with population control - like fundamentalist leaders who oppose birth control or politicians from emerging economies.

Here’s my question to you: Should mandatory population control be a part of the fight against global warming?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Global Warming
December 10th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Would you choose your child's gender?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Choosing your child's gender is becoming more and more mainstream in the United States.

It's done by using a technology called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis - which was developed two decades ago to screen embryos for genetic diseases. Parents using in vitro-fertilization have the embryos screened to make sure they're not passing along genetic illnesses.

But the same screening can also be used to select the gender of the embryo that's implanted in the mother's uterus.

In most countries it's illegal, but not here in the land of instant gratification. It costs about $18,000.

Experts say most of the clients come from other countries; but that a lot of the Americans using this technology for gender selection already have a boy and want a girl - or vice versa.

Critics worry about the ethics of it all… is this really stuff we should be playing around with? And they suggest it could lead to a gender imbalance - especially in countries that traditionally prefer boys - places like China or India.

A doctor who pioneered this technique says he worries about using it to screen embryos for non-scientific reasons - asking if it's something doctors should be involved in.

But other fertility doctors see nothing wrong with it and say it's just another example of giving women more reproductive choices.

Here’s my question to you: Would you choose your child’s gender?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Uncategorized
December 10th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Is there such thing as too much information?

ALT TEXT

(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Picture enough books to bury the entire United States under a pile seven feet deep. That's how much information we consumed last year.

A new study shows that residents of the U.S. consumed 1.3 trillion hours worth of information last year - that includes everything from computers to TV, radio, cell phones, text messaging, video games, movies, books, newspapers, magazines, you name it.

That averages out to almost 12 hours spent daily by every person - and this doesn't even include the information you soak up at work. It's just mind boggling and represents a 350-percent increase from 30 years ago.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego found that people get most of their information from television... followed by radio, the internet, video games and reading.

And a lot of these things happen at the same time, you know… multi-tasking, people talking on the phone while e-mailing... or text messaging while watching TV.

It's so bad that people don't even look where they're going anymore. They walk down the street with their noses buried in some hand-held device, oblivious to what's going on around them. Or worse, they do it while they're driving. They also sleep with them by their bedside and use them in the bathroom.

We live in a society where it's nearly impossible to turn the information off - it comes at us wherever we are.

Here’s my question to you: Is there such a thing as too much information?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Uncategorized
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