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July 28th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Who's winning the debt ceiling battle?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It's pretty clear who is losing in the whole debt ceiling stalemate in Washington - the American people.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) at a news conference earlier today.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) at a news conference earlier today.

They have a right to expect much more from the people they voted into office. Losers include those whose lives could be affected if a deal isn't reached in the next few days and their checks aren't put in the mail. Oh, and let's not forget the country's reputation as a whole. That's taking a helluva beating. Even if a deal is passed at the last minute, the U.S. credit rating could still be downgraded, leaving investors around the world wondering if the United States is still a good place to invest.

The folks on Capitol Hill don't seem to be too concerned with losers. So who exactly is winning here?

The House is expected to vote on Speaker John Boehner's plan in the next hour. Boehner told reporters on Thursday the measure will pass. Tea party conservatives have been whining and stomping their feet for days saying the Boehner bill doesn't do enough. But some last minute wrangling could sway enough votes.

That has House Republicans feeling pretty good about themselves. House Minority Leader Eric Cantor told the Senate on Thursday to accept the Boehner bill or the cut, cap and balance bill previously passed in the House or suffer the consequences of default. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid doesn't seem to care about that. He has already said that the Boehner measure will die when it reaches the Senate. And the clock keeps ticking.

Where is President Obama in all this? For the last several days he has had no public schedule and has remained behind closed doors inside the White House. So inquiring minds want to know.

Here’s my question to you: Who's winning the debt ceiling battle?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Government
July 28th, 2011
04:11 PM ET

What's your view of the current state of the U.S. economy?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The general feeling about the economy in this country hasn't been great for a long time. And the stalemate on Capitol Hill over raising the debt ceiling has only made Americans more nervous... not just about the current state of their own households but about the future of the U.S. economy as a whole.

Unemployment's stuck at 9.2% and probably not improving much anytime soon. With all the uncertainty surrounding the debt ceiling, companies aren't exactly rushing to ramp up hiring. "Wait and see" is the prevailing game plan. Uncertainty is business investment's worst enemy.

Home prices are down 4.5% from one year ago. The housing crisis may not be over for several years. Bad news for a seller sometimes means good news for a buyer - but not right now. Even if you're lucky enough to get a mortgage, rates are going to be headed up - and if the U.S. defaults on its debt obligations, that will happen pretty fast.

Oh and your investments? If lawmakers don't raise the debt ceiling and the U.S. defaults on its payments for the first time in history, stocks could drop 30% over the following six months to a year. This is according to a new report from Credit Suisse.

Polls have shown Americans have been growing increasingly concerned with the economy, and the number of Americans feeling this way has been on the rise over the last few weeks. Nearly 3/4 of Americans in Gallup's Daily tracking poll say the U.S. economy is getting worse. That's up 11 percentage points since July 6. In a separate CNN-ORC poll, nearly six in 10 Americans now say that the economy will be in poor shape a year from now.

And in Washington the pathetic games continue.

Here’s my question to you: What's your view of the current state of the U.S. economy?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

July 27th, 2011
05:43 PM ET

GE moving X-ray business to China. What message is sent to U.S.?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Here is more evidence of the suicide mission this country is on: General Electric announced it's moving its 115-year-old X-ray business from Waukesha, Wisconsin to Beijing, China.

The X-ray business is part of General Electric's GE Healthcare unit, and this move is just part of a broader plan by GE to invest $2 billion in China.

This will become the first GE business to be headquartered there. A handful of the unit's top executives will be transferred to China but otherwise, the company says, none of the 150 staffers in the Milwaukee-area facility will lose jobs or be transferred. However, GE plans to hire more than 65 engineers and a support staff at a new facility in China.

It's the kind of news that makes you want to reach for something sharp and jab it in your eye. General Electric's Chief Executive, Jeffrey Immelt, is one of President Obama's advisers on… ready? U.S. job creation!

In January, President Obama asked Immelt, a self-described Republican, to head up the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Tapping Immelt was supposed to provide the Obama administration with a business world perspective on job creation - not in China - here.

The administration also hoped it would give the president a leg up negotiating with the Republican-controlled House on deficit reduction, jobs programs, and health care. And we can all see how that's worked out really well.

Two months after Immelt was named to the council, The New York Times reported that General Electric paid no income taxes last year... thanks to some fancy accounting footwork, even though the company earned $14.2 billion in profits last year - more than $5 billion in the U.S. alone.

Here’s my question to you: General Electric is moving its X-ray business to China. What message does this send Americans?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: China • U.S. Global Image • United States
July 27th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Debt ceiling crisis: Why won't gov't listen to the American people?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The American people have had enough, but their feelings on the debt ceiling crisis continue to fall on deaf ears.

Sheets of freshly made $20 bills lay in stacks at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

Sheets of freshly made $20 bills lay in stacks at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

Monday night, President Barack Obama called on the American people to "make your voices heard," and boy, did they. The calls and e-mails to Congress the next day almost shut down the phones and computers in Washington. Might not have been a bad idea. But no matter. Here it is Wednesday. Default is less than a week away. And still nothing. Americans want compromise, and they've made that very clear.

The polls - CNN-ORC, Pew, ABC News-Washington Post - have all been reflecting this for weeks. They do not want their government to default on its debt obligations. They know the rest of the world is watching, and they want leadership to fix this mess. But Washington is clueless. They don't seem to hear us or care much what we think.

They have their own agendas and, as a result, are playing games with the financial well-being of millions. According to two recent polls, two-thirds of Americans believe a failure to raise the debt ceiling would have a negative impact on their own financial situation.

Yesterday, the new chief of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, said a default or even a downgrade of U.S. debt would be a "very, very, very serious event," not just for the U.S. economy but for the global economy. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has a plan that won't pass, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner has a plan that won't pass and President Obama has no plan at all.

Maybe the voters will come up with a plan for these dysfunctional clowns in 2012.

Here’s my question to you: When it comes to the debt ceiling crisis, why won't the government listen to the American people?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Government
July 26th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

How much do you rely on the U.S. postal service?

ALT TEXT

(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The post office is in big trouble, and today the United States Postal Service announced it's planning to close nearly 3,700 post offices in 50 states and in Washington. The closings will occur mostly in rural areas and involve outlets that don't get a lot of foot traffic. The closings would save $200 million.

The move shouldn't come as a surprise. The postal system has been bleeding cash for years. The volume of first-class mail has dropped 28% in the past four years as more Americans send e-mails and pay their bills online. Last year, the U.S. Postal Service had an $8.5 billion loss, that's compared with a loss of just $3.8 billion in 2009. Things aren't looking any brighter this year. Last quarter, the U.S. Postal Service lost $2.2 billion.

But many people in the communities set to lose their post offices are up in arms. The postal service says "village post office" kiosks will be created in grocery and convenience stores in the next year to fill the voids in these towns. You'd be able to buy stamps and mail packages there. And that may be the future of post offices. The postal service plans to review half of its existing 32,000 post offices over the next 10 years for possible closure just to stay afloat.

Legislation proposed in Congress could provide more help to the ailing agency. It would relieve the agency of paying into a retirement fund for future retirees' health benefits, and it would reduce mail delivery to five days from six. That would save an additional $3 billion annually. But that still may not be enough.

Here’s my question to you: How much do you rely on the U.S. postal service?

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: Postal Service
July 26th, 2011
04:56 PM ET

Is Pres. Obama more concerned with reelection than with the country's welfare?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

After listening to his speech last night, you gotta wonder: Is President Obama more worried about the U.S. defaulting on its debt obligations? Or is he more worried about being re-elected to a second term in 2012?

The president says he wants a deal on the debt ceiling, but he's been unable to bring both parties together to agree on anything– even after days of closed door meetings. Republican House Speaker John Boehner walked out on talks with President Obama this weekend. He said he won't negotiate with the president anymore and instead he will work directly with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. There's a match made in heaven.

The president is in trouble. For starters, a lot of the people who elected him in 2008 aren't so pleased with the job he's doing. An ABC News/Washington Post poll out today shows the number of liberal Democrats who support Obama on his jobs record has dropped from 53 percent last year to below a third. And the percentage of African Americans who feel the president has helped the economy and the jobs situation has plummeted from 77 percent to barely one-half.

One recent poll showed that any generic Republican would beat President Obama by eight percentage points if the election was held today. I don't know if you've noticed, but the current Republican field of presidential candidates leaves a lot to be desired.

Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, said he thinks it would be a good idea for President Obama to face some primary opposition as we get closer to the election. The last incumbent president to face primary opposition was ... ready? ... Jimmy Carter.

Here’s my question to you: Is President Obama more concerned with his reelection than with the welfare of the country?

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: President Obama
July 25th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Politically, who stands to win or lose most in debt ceiling Russian roulette?

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Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's signature, as seen on a new $20 bill. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

With all the ugliness surrounding the debt ceiling debate and no end to it in sight, it's hard to see how anyone can come out of this mess on top. But politics are politics. And while it's a high-stakes game, and no one knows the outcome, there will be a huge price to pay for someone.

President Obama's re-election hangs in the balance of course, and he's all too aware of it. He wants a deal desperately, but his plans have fallen flat and he's been unable to accomplish any great compromise between the two parties.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has blamed President Obama's fixation on the 2012 election for holding up a deal. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said in an interview yesterday that the president's objective was to take the threat of default off the table through the election. That's pretty telling.

But it's not just the president who is worried about his future. Incumbent seats in both houses of Congress are in jeopardy; and as a result, so are the Democratic control of Senate and the Republican control of the House. There's a lot at stake today; and a lot at stake down the road. And the average American citizen doesn't even have a seat at the table in this debate.

Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein says so far the Republicans are winning because the debt ceiling can't be raised without their support but, he points out, that according to polls, they don't have popular support behind their position. Members of the Tea Party aren't budging on their promises of deep spending cuts and no new taxes. And that's preventing Republican leaders from compromising on a deal.

Democrats in the meantime are playing defense, hoping to strike a deal that avoids an economic disaster and doesn't rock the political boat too much. But with the clock ticking and the world watching, that's not likely to happen.

Here’s my question to you: Politically, who stands to win or lose most in debt ceiling Russian roulette?

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: Government • United States
July 25th, 2011
04:56 PM ET

Are America's best days behind it?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

While lawmakers continue to play games with the debt ceiling deadline, millions of people's lives are being affected. The clock is ticking …

Republican congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul thinks time may have already run out. On the floor of the House last week, Paul said, "When a country is indebted to the degree that we're indebted, the country always defaults. We will default because the debt is unsustainable."

Meanwhile, we’ve got no deal as our politicians continue to appear they have lost sight of what they were elected to do in the first place. They argue. They grandstand. They posture. All with an eye on whether they will be re-elected. But nothing is decided. What they're really good at is what matters to them.

On Sunday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi left the debt ceiling negotiations in Washington to attend a fundraiser in Connecticut for a friend and fellow congresswoman who is up for re-election next fall. When asked about her decision to choose a fundraiser over the debt ceiling, Pelosi said, "Sunday morning is sort of a time out."

Really?

There is a general sense of pessimism in this country right now, and it's not just our nation's debt. We are in deep trouble. The economy is gasping for air, millions are out of work and the future of a once proud and thriving middle class is sinking into quicksand. While Washington may be out of touch, we are well aware how bad things are.

According to a new CNN/ORC poll, 84% of Americans say the economy is in poor shape and 59% believe the economy will still be in poor shape one year from now. This is the 14th year CNN has asked this question; this is the first time a majority has been pessimistic about the country's economic future.

Here’s my question to you: Are America's best days behind it?

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: United States
July 21st, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Will the Tea Party's hard line on the debt ceiling ultimately help or hurt them?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

When it comes to the debt ceiling debate, members of the so-called Tea Party - particularly those in the House - have taken a hard line, and they are not straying from it. Deep spending cuts - no new taxes, or no deal.

Their unwillingness to compromise has not only hurt the chances of a deal on the debt debate, it's also damaged the negotiating power of their own party leaders like House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who have grown more open to compromise as the clock ticks down toward a deadline.

It's a tough place to be for Republicans who aren't buying the Tea Party message, particularly those in the Senate who have shown interest in the Gang of Six bipartisan compromise. But compromise isn't on the Tea Party agenda, and the passage of the so-called Cut, Cap and Balance bill in the House earlier this week proves that.

The bill requires steeper spending cuts, and it pushes for a constitutional amendment to require a balanced federal budget. But of course that bill has little chance of passing in the Senate, and President Obama said he will veto it if it ever gets to his desk. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking.

In the end, House Republicans may be forced to vote for a short-term agreement on the debt ceiling to avoid a government default - and to save face with constituents. Either way, if a deal is reached on the debt ceiling by August 2, we'll find out just how much - or how little - power the Tea Party really has.

Here’s my question to you: Will the Tea Party's hard line on the debt ceiling ultimately help or hurt them?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Tea Party
July 21st, 2011
04:56 PM ET

Should calling for the assassination of the president be protected as free speech?

ALT TEXT

(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

An appeals court in California has overturned a man's two convictions for threatening to assassinate President Obama. The grounds? Freedom of speech.

In 2008, two weeks before Barack Obama was elected the first black president in this nation's history, a California man posted violent, racist messages about Obama on an online message board: One posting said, "Shoot the ____" using a racial slur to describe Obama. Another post said Obama would end up with a "50 cal in the head soon."

The Secret Service tracked down this individual as you might imagine - a guy named Walter Bagdasarian - within weeks. He had a .50-caliber rifle and five other guns and ammunition in his possession when they found him. He was arrested, and after waiving his right to a jury trial, Bagdasarian was convicted by a federal judge of two felonies for threatening to kill a presidential candidate.

But Wednesday, a court of appeals in - wait for it - San Francisco overturned that decision.

In a 2-to-1 ruling, the court said his actions were protected by the First Amendment and that while his words were "alarming and dangerous," they were not illegal. The court also said Bagdasarian expressed no intent to act on his words himself.

Prosecutors can now ask the appeals court for a rehearing or appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

After Bagdasarian was initially convicted in 2009, he apologized for his actions and said he had posted the messages while drunk. Apparently in his mind that made it OK. He was sentenced to two months in a halfway house in addition to the 24 days he had already served in jail.

Here’s my question to you: Should calling for the assassination of the president be protected as free speech?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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