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Our government is more badly divided than maybe it has ever been. What's the answer?
September 28th, 2011
04:34 PM ET

Our government is more badly divided than maybe it has ever been. What's the answer?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The public's trust in the federal government is at an all-time low, which is no big surprise. They're lucky in Washington the citizens haven't marched on the place yet.

There's a new CNN/ORC International Poll out Wednesday that shows only 15% of Americans say they trust the government in Washington to do what's right always or most of the time. Fifteen percent.

Seventy-seven percent say they trust the federal government only some of the time. And 8% say they never do.

Just last year 25% of Americans felt they could trust the federal government always or most of the time. Before the Watergate scandal in the 1970s, the majority of Americans felt this way. But the only time Americans have had such trust in the government since the 1970s was right after 9/11.

Meanwhile, as both parties appeal to their bases and emphasize their differences with the opposition, another new poll suggests what Americans really want is compromise.

The Gallup survey shows for the first time a majority of Americans say it's more important for politicians to compromise than to stick to their beliefs.

Tea party members are the only group in this poll who say it's more important for politicians to stick to their beliefs. Again, no surprise there.

All this comes as the federal government just barely averted another shutdown, this time over a disaster funding bill. Last month, our lawmakers took us to the brink of default on our national debt obligations as they wrangled over an increase in the debt ceiling.

And you can bet when the supercommittee comes out with its deficit-cutting proposals there will be lots more ugly partisanship from our leaders. It seems to be all they know how to do these days.

Here’s my question to you: Our government is more badly divided than maybe it has ever been. What's the answer?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: Government • US Government
Does the U.S. have any business telling Europe how to fix its financial troubles?
Pensioners carry a banner reading "We refuse to pay the head-tax," as they march in Athens to protest against further austerity measures.
September 28th, 2011
04:33 PM ET

Does the U.S. have any business telling Europe how to fix its financial troubles?

Here’s my question to you:

Note to the United States from Germany: Mind your own business.

Can't really blame them. President Obama, the owner of a $14 trillion national debt and $1 trillion plus annual deficits, scolded European leaders for letting the Greek debt crisis get out of hand.

Mr. Obama said that Europe's financial crisis is "scaring the world."

Germany's finance minister pushed back, saying "it's always much easier to give advice to others than to decide for yourself. I am well prepared to give advice to the U.S. government." Ouch.

But he's got a point. The United States hardly presents a picture of fiscal soundness.

We're facing unsustainable $1 trillion plus annual deficits and a $14 trillion national debt. So far, no one in the government has been serious about doing anything meaningful about either one.

There's also the president's $447 billion jobs program. It's going nowhere fast. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a fellow Democrat, says the Senate won't even take up the bill until they come back from this week's recess. Reid says, "we'll get to that."

Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner spent the last three weekends travelling around Europe meeting with their leaders and telling them how to conduct their affairs. It's no wonder he was given the cold shoulder on several of his stops.

Granted in today's global economy, what happens in Europe greatly affects us here in the U.S. - but there's an old saying: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

Here’s my question to you: Does the U.S. have any business telling Europe how to fix its financial troubles?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: European Opinion • Money
Are Republican debate crowds bloodthirsty?
September 27th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Are Republican debate crowds bloodthirsty?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Republican presidential debates are turning into lively affairs. Maybe too lively.

For the third time in as many debates, crowd members have either booed or cheered at what some say are inappropriate moments.

Most recently, former Sen. Rick Santorum was asked about the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell."

When an openly gay service member asked what the candidates' intentions were for gays in the military, members of the crowd booed loudly.

After the fact, Santorum said he condemned those who booed the gay soldier. He said he didn't hear the boos in the debate hall.

In another debate, Rick Perry was asked about the death penalty and the more than 200 executions that have happened under his watch as Texas governor. The crowd cheered that question.

Another GOP debate crowd got worked up when Ron Paul was asked a hypothetical question about a 30-year-old uninsured man. The crowd cheered when Paul was asked if that man should be allowed to die.

President Barack Obama has criticized the reaction of some of these audience members at the GOP debates; and Vice President Joe Biden calls the booing of the gay soldier “reprehensible.”

Politico asks in an online conversation if the GOP debate crowds are bloodthirsty.

Critics say these debates promote extremism within the Republican Party, and show “the mean season is upon us.”

They fault the candidates themselves for not stamping out the behavior when it happens. They should. Also, some suggest the booing or cheering could turn off moderate and swing voters in the general election. It should.

Here’s my question to you: Are Republican debate crowds bloodthirsty?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election
September 27th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Has President Obama made racism worse?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama has made racism worse in America.

So says the African-American actor Morgan Freeman. He told CNN's Piers Morgan that the tea party's opposition to Mr. Obama, the nation's first black president, is rooted in racism.

Freeman claims tea partiers will do whatever it takes to "get this black man out of here."

He adds that the tea party shows the "weak, dark underside of America," and that "we're supposed to be better than that."

The only black Republican candidate for president pushed right back. Businessman and tea party member Herman Cain says most of the people who criticize the movement have never been to a tea party rally.

Cain says "name calling" will continue because opponents don't know how to stop the tea party movement.

Meanwhile - with black leaders grumbling that Mr. Obama hasn't done enough about staggering black unemployment - the president has evoked language that sounds a whole lot like the civil rights era.

He told the Congressional Black Caucus to march with him: "Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes."

Americans are split on how Mr. Obama's presidency has changed race relations in the U.S.

A recent USA Today/Gallup poll shows 35% of those surveyed said race relations have improved, while 23% say they've gotten worse under President Obama.

41% percent see no change.

Back in 2008, when the nation voted for "hope and change," Americans had a much rosier view of what this president would do for race relations.

Gallup found that the day after Mr. Obama was elected, a whopping 70% predicted race relations would improve.

Here’s my question to you: Has President Obama made racism worse?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: President Barack Obama • Race • Race Relations
Should Chris Christie join the Republican race?
September 26th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Should Chris Christie join the Republican race?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has said "no" just about every way imaginable when it comes to a presidential run in 2012.

But with a splintered Republican field and lack of enthusiasm, many GOP donors are hoping that "no" really means "yes."

And this time it might. Former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean tells the National Review that Christie is "very seriously" considering running.

Politico reports that he will decide in about a week.

As Rick Perry seems to be fizzling out, supporters think there's a rare historic opportunity for Christie to jump in.

Here's the thing: Chris Christie is the rare politician who does what he says.

As New Jersey governor, he's made tough budget cuts and taken on teachers unions and other entrenched interests.

Christie is pro-life - but not an ideologue - and he doesn't engage in the more extreme rhetoric of the tea party.

As one top Republican who watched Rick Perry's debate performance put it, Christie "can string a sentence together."

Christie's aides tell the Wall Street Journal that the governor has received a "relentless" stream of calls over the last week urging him to run; but they insist that his answer is still "no."

And there are several reasons Christie might yet decide to sit this one out:

He has no national fundraising apparatus. He's been governor for less than two years - which limits his record.

Christie himself has said he doesn't feel in his heart that he is "ready"... and Politico reports a source close to Christie says the governor doesn't think he's prepared on all the issues and is "leery of learning on the fly."

Here’s my question to you: Should Chris Christie join the Republican race?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election • GOP • GOP Ticket • Gov. Chris Christie • Republican Party • Republicans
Are Rick Perry's 15 minutes up?
September 26th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Are Rick Perry's 15 minutes up?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Turns out Rick Perry may be all hat and no cattle.

Opponents lobbed the same criticism at another Texas governor and pretend cowboy, George W. Bush.

Watching Perry's most recent debate performance, it looked like he got his cowboy boot stuck in his mouth.

The Texas governor may be fading out of the Republican race as quickly as he shot to the top of the polls last month.

The signs of trouble are stacking up everywhere around Perry, starting with Mitt Romney closing the gap in the national polls. Although Perry is still at the top of the pack, Romney polls stronger against President Obama.

On the state level, Perry is losing one straw poll race after another:

In Florida, businessman Herman Cain pulled a surprise landslide victory. Cain's 37% win topped Perry and Romney combined. Perry was expected to win the Florida straw poll at the start of the weekend, but his underwhelming debate performance put him a distant second.

In Michigan's straw poll, Perry also finished second, this time to Romney, a native of Michigan.

And last week, Perry placed a distant second to Ron Paul in a California straw poll.

These straw polls are only mock elections and don't necessarily reflect how the primaries will go. But, if you are the Republican front-runner, there is an expectation that you win some of them.

An adviser to Jon Huntsman's campaign suggests it is becoming increasingly clear Perry can't perform, saying he has a case of "electile dysfunction."

Perry's people claim the Florida straw poll is a big loss for Mitt Romney, who has been in the campaign for much longer.

Here’s my question to you: Are Rick Perry's 15 minutes up?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election • GOP • GOP Ticket • Gov. Rick Perry • Republican Party • Republicans
How much do you blame Pres. Obama for struggling economy?
September 22nd, 2011
06:00 PM ET

How much do you blame Pres. Obama for struggling economy?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

With the Dow tanking nearly 400 points on Thursday, it looks like Americans are more likely than ever to blame President Obama for the sluggish economy.

A new USA Today/Gallup Poll shows for the first time ever a slight majority, 53% of those surveyed, blame this president for the nation's economic problems.

Just in time for re-election.

That number is up sharply from the 32% who felt President Obama was to blame six months after he took office.

The silver lining here for Obama is that Americans blame former President George W. Bush even more than him for the nation's economic woes. But Bush won't be on the ballot next November.

The poll also shows that about six in 10 independents believe both presidents are to blame.

This is not good news for President Obama, with the economy sure to be the top issue in the 2012 race.

Another recent CNN poll shows eight in 10 people think the economy is in poor shape, and less than 40% approve of how President Obama is handing the economy and unemployment.

What's more, only 9% say the president's policies made the economy better.

Thirty-seven percent say they made the economy worse, while 39% say his policies prevented the economy from getting worse. Fifteen percent say they had no effect.

If it's the economy, stupid – and it always is – the president has a real problem.

If he has any hopes of a second term, something's got to be done about persistent 9% unemployment. And it's got to be done quickly.

But the Congressional Budget Office predicts unemployment will remain above 9% right through the end of next year. Which means it's very likely to become someone else's problem.

Here’s my question to you: How much do you blame President Obama for the struggling economy?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: Economy • President Barack Obama
What does it say that most of the 10 poorest states are Republican?
People wait in line for lunch at a soup kitchen.
September 22nd, 2011
05:00 PM ET

What does it say that most of the 10 poorest states are Republican?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As the Republican race for the White House heats up, here's something the GOP can't be too comfortable with:

Most of the 10 poorest states in the country are Republican.

Mississippi is the poorest... followed by Arkansas, Tennessee, West Virginia, Louisiana, Montana, South Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama and North Carolina.

And the list doesn't even include Texas, where Rick Perry is governor and one in five people lives in poverty.

In a piece on CNN.com, Roland Martin writes Republicans expect to win all 10 of these states in 2012, although President Obama won North Carolina by a slim margin in 2008 and West Virginia is usually considered a Democratic state.

Martin points out that despite the red-leanings in these states, you don't hear so much from Republicans about poverty.

In fact the word "poor" has barely come up at the GOP debates thus far. The only exceptions were:

- Rick Santorum discussing welfare reform

- Ron Paul suggesting the U.S. get rid of the minimum wage

- and Mitt Romney using the phrase "energy-poor."

Overall, Republicans believe their economic agenda is the best way to get people back to work - and many in the GOP are quick to blame President Obama for the rise in the poverty rate.

But how about addressing the root causes of poverty more directly - especially when millions of people in these so-called red states are suffering.

The Census Bureau reports a record $46.2 million Americans are living below the poverty line - which translates to about $22,000 a year for a family of four.

Minorities are especially hard hit - with 27% of blacks living in poverty and 26% of Hispanics compared to about 10% of whites.

Here’s my question to you: What does it say that most of the 10 poorest states are Republican?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: Republican Party • Republicans
How are economic fears changing your life?
September 21st, 2011
06:00 PM ET

How are economic fears changing your life?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Americans are afraid of where our economy is headed - and it shows.

A new study on financial security shows that 40% of consumers have cut their spending in the past two months.

The Bankrate.com survey shows this applies to Americans in all income groups - from the rich to the poor.

Consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the U.S. economy, so if the cutback in spending continues, we could be headed for another recession.

The study also shows people across all education levels say their net worth is lower today than it was last year.

Job security is a big worry too: Only 23% of those under 30 say they feel more secure in their jobs now than they did a year ago. That number drops to a measly 10% for those between the ages of 50 and 64.

It's easy to understand why people are concerned when unemployment remains stubbornly above 9% and is expected to stay there through the end of 2012.

For those who are lucky enough to have a job, median incomes are on the decline. Meanwhile, there are 46.2 million people in the U.S. living in poverty - the highest level in almost 20 years.

As if people didn't have reason enough to worry - the international monetary fund is out with a stark warning today, saying the global economy has entered "a dangerous new phase" with the recovery weakening considerably.

If the U.S. can't find a way to deal with its ballooning national debt, the IMF says the result could be a "lost decade for growth." Decade. 10 years.

And Americans get it. A new USA Today/Gallup Poll shows six in 10 people don't expect the economy to recover any time soon, while 80% think the country is still in a recession.

Here’s my question to you: How are economic fears changing your life?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: Economy
What does it say about Obama's '12 chances if Palin's within 5 points of him in one poll and she's not in the race?
September 21st, 2011
05:00 PM ET

What does it say about Obama's '12 chances if Palin's within 5 points of him in one poll and she's not in the race?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Here's something that should keep the Democrats up at night:

Sarah Palin isn't even a candidate for president - yet - and she's gaining major ground on the president.

A new McClatchy-Marist poll finds that the half-term, dropout governor of Alaska trails President Barack Obama by only 5 percentage points – 49% to 44% in a hypothetical matchup. Three months ago, Palin trailed Obama by 26 percentage points.

And even more troubling for the president: Palin now leads him among the all-important independent voters.

Let me remind you: Palin hasn't even announced she's running. She tells the F-word network that she's "one of those still considering" a run. She acknowledges she will have to decide soon since some of the early-voting states have a November deadline to get on the ballot.

But it's not all good for Palin. The bad news is that 72% of Republicans and independents who lean Republican don't want her to run.

As for the president, there are other disturbing findings in this survey:

A majority of those polled say the president will lose to the Republican nominee, whoever it is. Also, 49% say they definitely plan to vote against Obama. For independents, that number is even higher at 53%.

Pollsters say this shows how "the middle" is not Obama's right now. In order to win re-election, he will either need to win back independent voters or energize the base - in ways he hasn't so far.

Other hypothetical match-ups in this poll show the president leading Mitt Romney by a mere 2 points and Rick Perry by 9 points. These two men actually are candidates for president.

Here’s my question to you: What does it say about President Obama's chances in 2012 if Sarah Palin is within five points of him in one poll and she isn't even in the race?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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