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February 23rd, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Why is President Obama ducking the press?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama has set a dubious record - going longer than President Bush in avoiding a formal news conference with reporters.

It's been more than 215 days since the president's last prime-time, nationally televised press conference. George W. Bush's longest stretch was 214 days. I wonder why he doesn't want to answer reporters' questions.

Maybe it's because at his last prime-time news conference in July, Mr. Obama stepped in it, big time. That's when he said the Cambridge police "acted stupidly" in the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Gates. That comment turned into a media storm.

Since then it's been all about staying on message. Earlier this month - the president took questions from reporters in a mini-presser after showing up unannounced - on a snow day - at the daily briefing. He took a handful of questions for about 30 minutes. Not the same as a full-fledged, announced-ahead-of-time, prime time news conference carried live on all the networks.

One White House reporter tells the Washington Times the president seems "a little snakebit on the whole presser thing," and other reporters have said they're frustrated at not being able to "hold the president's feet to the fire."

The White House argues they've done more interviews with more reporters at this point in the president's term than any of his predecessors.

And that's true - the president is all over the media - doing interviews with the network anchors, "60 Minutes," Oprah, print reporters, etc. ...but that's not the same as standing before the nation's Washington press corps and making yourself accountable.

Here’s my question to you: Why is President Obama ducking the press?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: President Barack Obama
February 23rd, 2010
05:45 PM ET

Is the recession over in your state?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

While there are signs that the national economy is slowly starting to recover - it's still a bleak situation in many of the 50 states.

A new report says because of declining revenues, state economies still have not seen the worst of the recession. The National Governors Association says the fiscal year 2011 - which starts this summer - will be "the most difficult to date"... and 2012 won't be much better.

Revenues have been down for five consecutive quarters due to shrinking tax collections - the longest period that states have taken in less money since at least the Great Depression.

The situation is most difficult in places like Oklahoma - where revenue dropped nearly 27 percent last quarter compared to the previous year... or Arizona, which saw a 17 percent drop. Seven states did report an increase in revenue, but it's believed that's more because of tax increases rather than a growing economy.

Meanwhile the drop in revenue comes despite hefty tax increases in many states. At the same time, costs are going up for programs like Medicaid. This means a lot of states will have to either raise taxes some more - or cut spending and jobs.

States face a combined budget gap of $134 billion over the next three years, and because states actually have to balance their budgets it's not going to be pretty. Plus the states are facing a combined $1 trillion shortfall for employees pensions and retirement benefits.

Some governors are banking on getting more money from the federal government - but that's money that hasn't even been approved yet.

Here’s my question to you: Is the recession over in your state?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Recession
February 23rd, 2010
05:00 PM ET

Gov't hasn't installed one airport scanner with stimulus $$$

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Our government is broken. The Department of Homeland Security still has not installed a single airport scanner paid for by Pres. Obama's economic stimulus bill more than one year ago.

Congressman William Jefferson (D-LA)

Congressman William Jefferson (D-LA)

$25 million was set aside to buy the kind of screening machines that would be able to detect the explosives that the Christmas Day bomber carried on him.

Politico reports it took Homeland Security seven months just to order the 150 screening machines. Seven months. The company that builds the scanners says they've since delivered more than 100 of them to the transportation security administration - and now they're sitting somewhere in storage.

By way of an explanation, Homeland Security spokeswoman Amy Kudwa says they're "very actively working on a deployment plan." A deployment plan? Like put them at the airports?

TSA spokesman James Fotenos says it is "In the process of accepting delivery of the initial 150 units purchased," and that it is "staging for their deployment," whatever the hell that means. He also says they're "working closely with airports to install these units."

Some of the nation's busiest airports still don't have these scanners, including New York's JFK and LaGuardia, Chicago's O'Hare and Washington's Dulles. The machines are in storage.

Here's the height of government arrogance and dysfunction. To mark the anniversary of the stimulus bill, Homeland Security Sec. Janet Napolitano inspected a scanner at Washington's national airport. They've been in use there for more than a year.

She also trumpeted the $25 million spent on the 150 additional scanners - but failed to mention of course that not a single one of them is in use yet.

Late this afternoon, in response to the embarrassing nature of this story, a Homeland Security official said they think they can get these scanners installed by the end of June.

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean if the government hasn't installed a single airport scanner paid for more than one year ago with stimulus money?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Government • Stimulus