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February 26th, 2010
07:00 PM ET

Should Dems try to ram health care reform through with 51 votes?

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House Minority Whip Eric Cantor picks up a copy of the Senate's health care reform plan prior to the start of a bipartisan meeting hosted by Pres. Obama. (PHOTO CREDIT: SAUL LOEB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As predicted, that day-long televised health care summit wasn't much more than political theater.

The Democrats are taking a hard look at using a 51-vote shortcut in the Senate to ram a health care bill through. It's a procedure known as reconciliation and it is supposed to be used only for legislation that affects taxes and the deficit.

Democrats are trying to figure out how the complicated process could work, and whether they even have enough votes in both houses to make it happen.

The plan would be for the House to pass the bill that's already gone through the Senate, and then for both houses to pass a package of changes that mirror the president's plan. Under those rules, the Democrats would only need 51 votes in the Senate.

But there are problems. Plenty of them...

For starters, Senate Democrats aren't even sure if they would have the 51-vote simple majority needed. They could also face a big-time backlash from the public for trying to jam this thing though.

Over in the House - Democrats may not have enough votes either. The one Republican who voted for the health care bill last time already says he'll vote "no," not to mention Democrats facing tough re-election races who may change their votes to "no."

And, abortion might be the biggest obstacle of all. There could be as many as a dozen house Democrats who'd vote against the senate bill because they say it's not strict enough in making sure tax money doesn't pay for abortions.

Here’s my question to you: Should Democrats try to ram health care reform through the Senate with 51 votes?

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: Democrats • Health care
February 26th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Single most serious problem facing U.S. today?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It's been more than two years since I addressed the subject of our broken government on CNN - and in that time, things have gone from bad to worse.

Tonight at 7 p.m. ET, you're cordially invited to join me for an hour guaranteed to depress you. Not only is the government broken, the questions about whether it can be fixed are growing larger every day.

Just this week we've talked about:

  • 75 percent of you think federal government officials are dishonest
  • 86 percent of you think the government is broken
  • $25 million of stimulus money spent for airport scanners that sit in storage somewhere - while some of the nation's busiest airports go without them
  • Congress might as well go home. The House has passed 290 bills - the Senate has acted on none of them
  • By 2019, it's estimated the national debt will rise to about $23 trillion dollars - that's more than one-third of the gross domestic product of the entire world
  • At five percent interest, it will cost the taxpayers more than $1 trillion a year - without paying a single dime on the debt itself. Just interest.
  • There are tens of trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities for Medicare, and the Social Security Trust Fund consists of nothing but IOUs - which we taxpayers are also paying interest on - some trust!

It's a long list, but if you've got an hour to spare tonight, I hope you'll join me because if there's any chance at all to stop this country from circling the drain, it's going to be the average American citizen who ultimately makes it happen.

The Show airs immediately following this broadcast at 7 p.m. ET

Here’s my question to you: What do you consider the single most serious problem facing the U.S. today?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: United States
February 26th, 2010
02:55 PM ET

Cafferty File Special Report

Please tune in to "Broken Government: A Cafferty File Special Report" TONIGHT at 7pm ET.

Jack will take an in-depth look at the many ways our government is broken and whether it’s too late to fix it.


Filed under: Cafferty File
February 25th, 2010
07:00 PM ET

Chances of health care reform with 8 lobbyists for each Congress member?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Lobbyists are one major reason why our government is broken.

A copy of the Senate's health care reform plan sits between members of Congress as Pres. Obama hosts a bipartisan meeting to discuss health reform legislation.

A copy of the Senate's health care reform plan sits between members of Congress as Pres. Obama hosts a bipartisan meeting to discuss health reform legislation.

And you don't have to look any further than health care reform to see that we have the best government money can buy:

  • Consider this: More than 1,700 companies and organizations hired about 4,500 lobbyists last year to work on health care reform. That translates to eight health care lobbyists for each member of Congress.
  • According to this report by the Center for Public Integrity: The health sector spent more than $540 million on lobbying last year. The health industry has given $45 million dollars in campaign donations for the 2010 election cycle; and it spent more than $200 million on TV ads related to health care reform last year.

You think anyone in Washington hears the voice of the common man? Think again.

The fingerprints of lobbyists are all over this legislation. As one expert put it, "They cut it. they chopped it. they reconstructed it. They didn't bury it. I don't think they wanted to."

Lobbyists apparently succeeded at blocking the public option and softening the effect of cost-cutting measures on health care companies.

The American medical association says it helped kill some fees for doctors and a tax on cosmetic surgery - among other things.

At the end of the day, we're talking about legislation that can be called "reform," while what it really is is a three-card monte game designed to protect all the vested interests in the debate except the taxpayer.

Here’s my question to you: What are the chances of health care reform when there are eight lobbyists for every member of Congress?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Congress • Health care • Lobbyists
February 25th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Should wild animals be used as entertainment?

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A killer whale at SeaWorld in San Diego. This is not the same orca involved in yesterday's trainer death at SeaWorld Orlando. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The death of a whale trainer at SeaWorld never had to happen.

The park has canceled whale shows today and is re-evaluating safety procedures - a day after a 12,000 lb. killer whale grabbed the trainer's ponytail, dragged her underwater and killed her.

The 22-ft. long killer whale has been linked to two other deaths, including the drowning of a trainer and some idiot who apparently climbed into the whale's tank one night.

One marine biologist says in yesterday's death, the whale may simply have been trying to play with the trainer or get her attention - because that's how whales play with seals and sea lions in the wild - tossing them in the air.

She says killer whales normally live in groups with their families - and males stay with their mothers their entire lives. They rely on their family for social structure and play - and cover hundreds of miles of ocean. She says situations like this cause stress. Duh.

PETA wants SeaWorld to stop confining these animals to an area that's like the "size of a bathtub" to them... and forcing them to perform silly tricks over and over. That's not what they were meant to do here.

And this isn't just about killer whales. Wild animals are not meant to be kept in places like circuses - where there are many reports of abuse - or small cages in zoos - or forced to perform in places like Las Vegas, where a tiger attacked its handler during a Siegfried and Roy show a few years ago.

And inevitably when someone playing around with these wild animals gets attacked, it's the animal that gets put down. It ought to be the other way around.

Here’s my question to you: Should wild animals be used as entertainment?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Uncategorized
February 25th, 2010
12:16 PM ET
February 25th, 2010
12:14 PM ET
February 24th, 2010
07:00 PM ET

290 bills passed in House are stalled in Senate

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

You don't have to look very far for signs that our government is broken... and here's one more:

The House of Representatives has passed 290 bills that are stalled in the Senate.

The Hill newspaper reports that frustrated House Democrats are out with a list of the nearly 300 pieces of legislation they've passed - that the upper chamber has yet to act on.

The stalled bills include both big and small ones - from health care, climate change and Wall Street Reform... to a Civil War battlefield preservation act and naming a federal courthouse in Iowa.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office says this list is put together during each Congress - but that this year's is probably the largest ever. Nonetheless, Pelosi isn't blaming her Democratic counterparts in the Senate. Instead she lays the blame on Republicans who are "abusing" their right to filibuster.

But some Democratic congressmen aren't shy to fault their Senate colleagues for not doing more with their super majority when they had it. House Majority Whip James Clyburn suggests that senators see themselves as a "house of lords" and that they're out of touch with the American people since they're not up for re-election every two years.

Over in the Senate - majority leader Harry Reid also blames Republicans for the back-up of legislation. Isn't he in charge?

The Democrats - starting with Reid and Pelosi - have to figure out how to get all their troops marching in the same direction. The people's business is piling up, and our lawmakers are just watching.

Here’s my question to you: How can Washington accomplish anything if 290 bills passed in the House are stalled in the Senate?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: House of Representatives • Senate
February 24th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Now time for gov't to announce plan for $1 billion London embassy?

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An aerial view of the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye ferris wheel. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Our government is broken. It's going to spend one billion dollars of taxpayers' money to build a new, high-security American embassy in London. A billion dollars.

The 12-story, 500,000 square foot fortress will be built in the shape of a light-filled cube surrounded by natural defenses of a meadow, woodland, and a 100-foot wide moat. Yes, a moat.

The Philadelphia architect who designed the embassy says they were able to use the landscape as a security device - it's meant to protect the embassy from potential bombers and remove the need for blast barriers. Just put some crocodiles in the moat.

Construction is set to start in 2013 and be finished by 2017.

The new London embassy is being billed as one of the greenest and most eco-friendly in the world - with solar panels covering the roof and energy-absorbing material lining the building's exterior. The embassy will also be able to collect and store London's rainfall so it can be self-sufficient in water.

Which is all fine and well - but the one billion dollar price tag makes it one of the costliest U.S. embassies ever built.

Can you say tone deaf? These grandiose plans are announced at a time of record deficits and 10 percent unemployment. Millions of Americans are struggling to make ends meet, to pay for food and health care, and our government is planning for a castle-like embassy with a moat.

Here’s my question to you: Is now the time for the government to announce plans for a $1 billion embassy in London?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Government
February 24th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

Too early for Pres. Obama to plan re-election campaign?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama is taking a lot for granted.

Politico reports that top White House advisers are quietly working on plans for the 2012 re-election campaign.

For now - the planning is made up of private, closed-door meetings among aides at all levels. I guess when you have the economy, health care reform and the deficits under control, you can spend your time worrying about the next election. Even if it is almost three years away.

The article's sources say the president has given every sign he plans to run again and wants the next campaign to look a lot like the last one. My guess is it won't turn out the same way.

It's believed the re-election campaign would be managed by the white house deputy chief of staff Jim Messina - and possibly be run out of Chicago... a good way to remove it from Beltway politics and locate it instead in that bastion of good government.

The planning is still at its early stages - but some say it would likely launch in about a year.

Nonetheless, there's still a long way to go. President Obama's approval rating is hovering at around 50 percent; and a majority say he doesn't deserve to be re-elected.

The American people were promised change and a lot of them think this administration is just more of the same. And if the jobs don't start coming back soon, he may want to see if that community organizer job is still open.

Here’s my question to you: Is it too early for President Obama to be planning his re-election campaign?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: President Barack Obama
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