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Is anyone besides Ron Paul serious about our deepening national financial crisis?
September 20th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Is anyone besides Ron Paul serious about our deepening national financial crisis?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama's $3 trillion debt reduction plan is really a huge tax increase accompanied by very small and somewhat questionable spending cuts.

The president wants $3 in tax increases for every $1 in spending cuts, according to the Washington Times.

His plan will go nowhere in Congress.

Besides the $1.5 trillion in new taxes, here are the president's ideas of spending cuts:

Find "waste" in Medicare. Where have we heard that before?

Count savings from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which was going to happen anyway.

Count lower interest costs on national debt.

Where are the cuts? There's no entitlement reform in this plan, no orders to cut the federal workforce, to cut the budgets by a significant amount or to close overseas military bases.

There's no means test for Social Security, no raising of the retirement age. Nothing.

Meanwhile, as we wait for the so-called Super Committee to come up with its plan, this deficit situation is a ticking time bomb.

Here's the scary truth: Even if the committee manages to come up with $1.5 trillion in deficit cuts over the next decade, it's a miniscule drop in the bucket.

The United States is more than $14 trillion in debt and we are adding to this debt at the staggering rate of more than $1 trillion in deficits per year.

So even if the government cuts $3 trillion or $4 trillion over 10 years, we will still have a national debt of $21 trillion in 10 years: $7 trillion more than we have now.

The federal government knows this full well and refuses to be realistic about how dangerous our predicament is.

Here’s my question to you: Is anyone besides Ron Paul serious about our deepening national financial crisis?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Economy • Ron Paul
How much of a problem does President Obama have with his own party?
September 20th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

How much of a problem does President Obama have with his own party?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

There are a lot of unhappy Democrats these days, and they are setting their sights directly on President Obama.

A group of liberal leaders says they want to field a slate of candidates against President Obama in the primaries. Just what he needs.

Ralph Nader tells the Washington Times that without an intraparty challenge, the liberal agenda will be ignored.

Nader - who has repeatedly been ignored by the voters in presidential elections - says Obama running unopposed will kill voter enthusiasm and that voters won't get to see the real differences between the democrats and republicans.

More than 45 liberal leaders support this idea. They point to President Obama's handling of the Wall Street bailouts, the wars, Libya, the extension of the Bush tax cuts and the debt ceiling deal... just a short list of grievances.

Meanwhile the head of the Congressional Black Caucus says unhappy members of his group would probably be marching on the White House if Mr. Obama weren't president.

Black leaders have been begging the president to address unemployment among African-Americans - which is close to 17%. Almost double the national average.

Finally - one of Mr. Obama's hometown newspapers, The Chicago Tribune, is running a column called Why Obama Should Withdraw.

Columnist Steve Chapman suggests not running for re-election might be a sensible thing for Obama to do.

He says the president might do his party a favor by stepping aside, taking the blame and letting someone else replace him at the top of the ticket. Someone like, oh, say, Hillary Clinton.

Here’s my question to you: How much of a problem does President Obama have with his own party?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

How much will it hurt Rick Perry that nearly 1 in 5 Texans live in poverty?
September 19th, 2011
04:00 PM ET

How much will it hurt Rick Perry that nearly 1 in 5 Texans live in poverty?

Rick Perry loves to talk about all the jobs he's created in Texas... but that's only part of the story... and a bit misleading at that.

The other part of the Perry story is that nearly 1 in 5 Texans in the state where he is the governor are living below the poverty line; and that the poverty rate is growing faster in Texas than the national average.

CNN Money reports that Texas ranks 6th in terms of people living in poverty.

Both demographic and economic factors play into this high poverty rate - more than half the state are minorities and many Texans have little education. Especially in southern Texas, many families live in shanty housing with no electricity or indoor plumbing. In 2011.

Also, the poor in Texas don't get much help. The state has one of the lowest rates of spending on its citizens per capita; and it has the highest share of those without health insurance.

Relatively few Texans collect food stamps - even though many more qualify for them - and receiving cash assistance is difficult. Experts say part of the reason more people don't seek help is the Texas mentality that you should pick yourself up by your own bootstraps.

For his part, Texas governor Rick Perry says creating jobs is the best way to help his citizens. And it's true that Texas has created 40% of the jobs added in the U.S. in the past two years.

But many of these new jobs are low-paying ones. More than half a million workers in Texas last year were paid at or below the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. That's just $15,000 dollars a year for someone working full-time.

Texas has the highest percentage of minimum wage workers in the country... tying with Mississippi at nearly 10%.

With jobs and the economy sure to be the top issue in 2012...

Here’s my question to you: How much will it hurt Rick Perry that nearly one in five Texans are living in poverty?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Gov. Rick Perry • Texas
What should happen to the U.S. Postal Service?
September 19th, 2011
03:55 PM ET

What should happen to the U.S. Postal Service?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Barack Obama is throwing the U.S. Postal Service a lifeline. But maybe he shouldn't.

It's all part of the president's larger plan to cut $3 trillion from deficits over the next 10 years.

First, the president would allow the postal service to raid $7 billion from an overfunded pension account to avoid financial collapse.

The agency is facing a serious cash crunch and is expected to hit its $15 billion borrowing limit in a couple of weeks.

That is why Obama also wants to give the postal service more time to make a $5.5 billion payment to a health care retiree fund that's due at the end of this month.

The White House plan would allow the Postal Service to end Saturday mail delivery and raise the price of a first-class stamp another 2 cents to 46 cents.

Obama is against letting the Postal Service void union contracts to lay off 120,000 postal workers. The Postal Service itself proposed layoffs in its own cost-cutting plan.

Republicans are slamming the White House plan - especially the part about using $7 billion from its extra contributions to the pension plan. They say instead of fundamental reform, this plan uses "accounting gimmicks."

The Postmaster General has acknowledged that the agency faces a "new reality." He's looking to cut $3 billion a year by closing hundreds of processing facilities, cutting equipment in half and slowing mail delivery.

With the use of e-mail and other electronic communication, it's clear the Postal Service has become a dinosaur: There are 43 billion fewer pieces of mail sent now than four years ago.

Yet our government is intent on throwing more taxpayer dollars down the drain.

Here’s my question to you: What should happen to the U.S. Postal Service?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: Postal Service
Where is the U.S. headed if SAT reading scores are at the lowest in nearly 40 years?
September 15th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Where is the U.S. headed if SAT reading scores are at the lowest in nearly 40 years?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

You probably already suspected this, but just in case….

SAT reading scores for high school seniors this year are the lowest they've been in almost 40 years.

The College Board - a non-partisan group that administers the test - reports that SAT scores are down in every subject; dropping three points in reading, one point in math and two points in writing.

Overall, the combined average SAT score of 1500 was down six points from last year and down 18 points from five years ago. A perfect score is 2400.

The College Board says scores are lower due to the growing diversity of students taking the test:

In 2011, 44% of test-takers were minorities, 36% were the first in their family to go to college and 27% didn't speak English exclusively.

The test administrators say more students than ever are taking the SAT, which includes more students from different ethnic, economic and academic backgrounds.

Meanwhile, these disappointing SAT scores come as schools have been working to raise scores on state standardized tests under the No Child Left Behind law. But it sounds like a lot of children may be getting left behind.

Experts acknowledge that we should be worried. They suggest that high schools need more rigorous classes to prepare students for college . Gee... there's an idea!

Others suggest that educators have been putting more focus on math and science in this age of technology - and not as much on reading and writing.

But without reading and writing, how will the next generation of Americans be able to communicate - and lead this country out of the serious problems we have?

Here’s my question to you: Where is the U.S. headed if SAT reading scores are at the lowest in nearly 40 years?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: Education
How can President Obama save the Jewish vote?
September 15th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

How can President Obama save the Jewish vote?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Just what President Obama needs, another fire threatening to burn out of control.

The Democrats' loss in New York's special congressional election this week could signal serious trouble for Obama and the Jewish vote in 2012.

District 9, made up of parts of Brooklyn and Queens, is one of the most Jewish in the nation. And many believe that if the Democrats lost there, Obama could be in jeopardy in key states like Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. It's nearly impossible to win a presidential election without those states.

The problem is, a lot of American Jews feel neglected by this president and think he has been too tough on Israel.

In the New York race, former Mayor Ed Koch – a Jewish Democrat – endorsed the Republican. Koch cited Israel as the main reason why. He says he likes the president and helped get him elected, "but Obama threw Israel under the bus."

And it's not just Obama's policy toward Israel. A recent poll shows that other issues that trouble many voters – like the economy, Social Security and Medicare – are more important than Israel among Jewish voters.

Republicans smell blood in the water here and will no doubt make Israel a wedge issue in 2012.

In 1980, Jimmy Carter was the last Democratic candidate to not get an overwhelming majority of the Jewish vote. All Obama needs is another comparison to Carter.

Obama's approval rating is about 60% among Jews nationally. In 2008, exit polls showed nearly 80% of Jews voted for him.

This makes Jews just one more group to start deserting Obama. He's also lost support among other key voting blocs like blacks, women and independents.

Here’s my question to you: How can President Obama save the Jewish vote?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

Rick Perry says he can't be bought for 5K. How much will this haunt him?
September 14th, 2011
05:55 PM ET

Rick Perry says he can't be bought for 5K. How much will this haunt him?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

If Rick Perry wants to be president - he needs to start thinking more about what he says before he says it.

The Texas governor has already come under lots of criticism for saying Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke's actions are potentially treasonous, and for comparing Social Security to a Ponzi scheme.

At Monday night's debate, he stepped in it again... and this time it may be harder to scrape off the bottom of his shoe.

When Michele Bachmann suggested Perry pushed for the HPV vaccine at the bidding of Pharma giant Merck, Perry reponded, "If you're saying that I can be bought for $5,000, I'm offended."

Here's the problem: Perry didn't finish that sentence... he didn't go on to say that he can't be bought at all. and with voters extremely skeptical of the ties between politicians and big business... this is a comment that could haunt Perry for months to come.

Meanwhile, Perry claimed he received $5,000 from Merck, but that only represented their 2006 contributions. In all, Perry pocketed about $30,000 from Merck, the maker of the HPV vaccine.

Merck has also reportedly given more than 3$380,000 to the Republican governors association, or RGA, since 2006... the year that Perry stepped up his role in that group. One watchdog group estimates the RGA has given Perry's campaigns more than $4 million over the last five years.

A Perry spokesman insists the governor's vaccine decision was based only on women's health concerns, saying "What drove the governor on this issue was protecting life and nothing else."

It's also worth noting that Perry's ties to Merck don't end with a check - his former chief of staff was a lobbyist for Merck before and after he worked for Perry.

Open the window. You can smell this.

Here’s my question to you: Rick Perry says he can't be bought for $5,000. How much will this comment haunt him?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Gov. Rick Perry
Should President Obama consider not running for re-election?
September 14th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Should President Obama consider not running for re-election?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It had to be a pretty rough morning to wake up to in the White House today.

Democrats suffered two stunning losses in special elections. In both cases, the Republican winners tied their opponents to President Barack Obama and his economic policies.

The most crushing loss came in New York. Democrats lost the seat of disgraced former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, a seat that hasn't gone Republican since the 1920s.

The district, which covers parts of Brooklyn and Queens, is heavily Jewish, Democratic, pro-union and blue-collar.

If this doesn't send the Democratic Party into panic mode, it ought to. The results in Brooklyn bring into question whether Obama can carry Florida next year, a state absolutely crucial to his re-election.

And there's more. The guy who won, Republican Bob Turner, is a retired cable TV executive who has never served elective office. He defeated a Democratic state assemblyman, David Weprin, with two decades of experience in public service.

National Democrats poured in half a million dollars at the last minute and even sent former President Bill Clinton to campaign, but none of that mattered.

Meanwhile, in Nevada - another important state for the president's re-election - the Democrat was trounced in a special election there.

These twin losses are only the latest in a string of bad news for Obama:

A new CNN poll shows Obama receiving the highest disapproval rating of his presidency at 55%.

As for his $447 billion jobs plan, it's looking unlikely that will get much, if any, traction in a divided Congress.

And if the upcoming election is really all about jobs and the economy, the president's campaign could very well be doomed:

The Congressional Budget Office says the economy will grow slower than anticipated and that unemployment will stay close to 9% through the end of 2012.

Here’s my question to you: Should President Obama consider not running for re-election?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

Should tax increases be used to pay for President Obama's jobs program?
September 13th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Should tax increases be used to pay for President Obama's jobs program?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama's plan to pay for the $447 billion jobs bill with higher taxes is dead on arrival.

Republicans are pushing back - insisting that tax hikes are off the table.

The White House says congress should pay for the jobs bill by putting new limits on itemized deductions for the wealthy... that includes deductions for home-mortgage interest, state and local property taxes and charitable donations.

In this case - "wealthy" means individuals who make more than $200,000 a year and families who earn more than $250,000 a year.

President Obama also wants to end tax breaks for oil companies and corporate jet owners... and cut out a tax break for investment fund managers.

The White House says all these tax changes would raise $467 billion over 10 years.

But Republicans aren't hearing any of it when it comes to higher taxes.

And that's not all they don't like... they've also rejected new stimulus spending on road projects, teacher salaries and school construction. they say anything that smacks of another "stimulus bill" ain't gonna happen.

On the other hand, Republicans like the president's proposal to give more generous tax breaks to small businesses... and the idea of pulling back burdensome government regulations.

So far, President Obama is selling his plan to pay for the jobs bill as a single idea. But realistically, there's no way that will ever get through a divided Congress.

Republicans say certain parts of the plan should be considered individually.

Here’s my question to you:
Should tax increases be used to pay for President Obama's jobs program?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: President Barack Obama • Taxes
Is Rick Perry right to call Social Security a Ponzi scheme?
September 13th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Is Rick Perry right to call Social Security a Ponzi scheme?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Rick Perry went there. The Texas governor has electrified the third rail of American politics by wading into a debate on Social Security.

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you know Perry has referred to the program as a "Ponzi scheme," "a monstrous lie," and a failure.

Social Security is perhaps the federal government's most popular program. Millions and millions of Americans rely on it as they reach retirement age. By calling it a Ponzi scheme, Perry is implying that the American people are being duped by a massive fraud.

And those are fighting words - which is probably why Perry is walking back his comments a bit.

In Monday night's debate, Perry said it's time to have a legitimate conversation about how to fix the federal program so it's not bankrupt. And in an op-ed he wrote Monday, there was no mention of a Ponzi scheme.

Here are the facts: Social Security is broken. The program will keep paying out 100% of benefits promised until about 2036. After that, if nothing is done, it would only be able to pay out three-quarters of benefits.

What's more, there were only 1.75 full-time private sector workers last year for each person receiving Social Security benefits.

Perry suggests a way to fix the program might be to raise the retirement age, or introduce a "means test" to limit payments to the rich. In the past, he's also advocated the privatization of Social Security.

Meanwhile, the other Republican candidates, especially Mitt Romney, sense a weakness here and are pouncing on Perry over the Social Security issue. Romney calls Perry's language "over the top."

And it seems that most Americans agree. A new CNN/ORC poll shows only 27% think Social Security is a lie and a failure. However, an overwhelming majority believes that changes are needed.

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: Gov. Rick Perry • Social Security
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