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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
February 22nd, 2010
07:00 PM ET

How honest are federal government officials?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Yet another sign of our broken government:

Three-quarters of Americans think our federal government officials are dishonest.

A new CNN/Opinion Research corporation poll shows only 22 percent of those surveyed say federal officials are honest; a whopping 75 percent say they're not.

These figures have remained virtually the same since 1994. And, what's more, people think the problem of dishonesty goes back much farther than that.

This poll is out on the 278th anniversary of George Washington's birth - and it shows 74 percent say the father of this country lied to the public while he was president... that would be the very same George Washington who was known for never telling a lie.

Also, Honest Abe doesn't fare much better in this survey... with 71 percent saying Abraham Lincoln also lied to the public as president.

All this goes to show the idea of broken government has been around for a very, very long time. Probably for good reason, Americans are always a little cynical about people seeking elected office. They don't believe that politicians always tell the truth - because they don't. Also, experts suggest that people might sense that the president sometimes has to keep things from the public.

But whatever the reason - we keep sending these politicians to Washington, hoping they will represent the people's interest. Even though we think they're dishonest. The voters are their own worst enemy.

Here’s my question to you: How honest are federal government officials?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Government
February 22nd, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Is our government broken beyond repair?

ALT TEXT

(PHOTO CREDIT: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Almost nine in 10 Americans believe the government is broken in what is clearly a crisis of confidence in the way we run our country.

A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll shows an overwhelming 86 percent of those surveyed say the government is broken. That's an increase of eight points from four years ago.

On the plus side, of the 86 percent - 81 percent say the government can be fixed, while five percent say it's beyond repair.

According to the poll - the increase in those who say the government is broken is highest among wealthier people and those who live in rural areas. Guess what? This is the same group of people who make up the Tea Party movement.

Americans are disgusted. They're tired of politicians playing games in Washington while the country slides ever closer to catastrophe. The list of problems the U.S. faces is daunting: From the skyrocketing record deficits and the more than $12 trillion national debt, to the still fragile economy, millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans, health care, and education... just to name a few.

And on so many of these fronts - our government chooses partisanship and politics over real solutions while the problems continue to get worse. They spend their time raising money and campaigning for the next election... so they can stay in Washington and do nothing for a few more years. One day in the not-too-distant future it won't matter what they do.

Here’s my question to you: Is our government broken beyond repair?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Government
February 22nd, 2010
05:00 PM ET

Should gov't control what health insurance companies charge?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama is finally out with his own detailed plan when it comes to health care reform. Some have been asking for this for months.

But the timing is a little suspect. The president's grand plan comes just four days before the televised, bipartisan, health care extravaganza... where Republicans are supposed to bring all their ideas to the table for fixing health care.

Yet it sounds like if the Republicans aren't on board... the president will get the Democrats to jam through this plan without approval of the GOP.

The White House Communications Director says the president "expects and believes the American people deserve an up or down vote on health care"... and, if the Republicans are intent on filibustering, the Democrats might use a procedural move called "reconciliation" - where they only need a simple 51-vote majority.

Meanwhile as part of the president's plan, the federal government would get new authority to regulate the health insurance industry - almost like a public utility. This comes in the wake of outrage over recent premium increases of up to 39 percent by one California health insurance company.

The health and human services secretary - along with state authorities - would be able to deny substantial premium increases, limit them... or even demand rebates for consumers. In the past, oversight of insurance companies has been left up to the states. But the president's proposal calls for a new seven member Health Insurance Rate Authority to monitor the industry and come out with an annual report setting the guidelines for reasonable rate increases.

Here’s my question to you: Should the government be able to control how much health insurance companies charge?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Health care
February 22nd, 2010
02:11 PM ET
February 22nd, 2010
02:08 PM ET
February 22nd, 2010
02:02 PM ET
February 19th, 2010
07:00 PM ET

Why is First Lady more open to talking about race than her husband?

ALT TEXT

(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The first lady is going "there"...

Michelle Obama is opening up and talking about race in a way that her husband hasn't so far.

Politico reports that while Pres. Obama hasn't been as willing to talk about how policy affects minority communities, the First Lady frequently brings up issues of race, region and inequality.

For example, she recently announced a campaign against childhood obesity. While it's a problem everywhere - one-third of the nation's children are either overweight or obese. Mrs. Obama points out how it's a particularly serious issue for black and Hispanic kids. She also talks about the lack of healthy food options in some inner city neighborhoods.

And in other speeches or interviews, Michelle Obama has talked about how many inner city neighborhoods are just plain unsafe.

Some believe that the First Lady is serving as a bridge from the White House to the African-American community, much like she did during the campaign.

As a candidate, Barack Obama shied away from talking about race... with the exception of that big speech he made in Philadelphia after the incendiary comments of his pastor came out.

Many supporters have been disappointed since he's taken office - saying the president hasn't lived up to the image of the first big city, urban president. A former community organizer in Chicago, it must be assumed President Obama is well aware of the problems of the inner cities. And while it's true he's created the white house office of urban affairs, he hasn't laid out a clear agenda for problems in these communities.

Here’s my question to you: Why is first lady Michelle Obama more open to talking about race than her husband?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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