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Should the U.S. government censor the Internet?
January 18th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

Should the U.S. government censor the Internet?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It’s been a Wednesday without Wikipedia and other major websites. As they go dark to protest two anti-piracy bills in Congress, critics say these bills amount to censorship of the Internet.

While Google hasn't shut down, a black rectangle covers its famous logo urging people to "Tell Congress: Please don't censor the web!"

The web-wide protest is in response to the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, in the U.S. House and the Protect IP Act, or PIPA, now pending before the full Senate.

The battle lines are drawn with Hollywood and major media companies, including CNN's parent company, Time Warner, on one side and Silicon Valley on the other.

If the bill passes, copyright holders could seek a court order to force search engines such as Google to remove links to sites that are offering illegal movies, TV shows, songs, etc. The main targets are foreign websites.

But Internet companies worry they could be punished for users' actions. Google says YouTube would have to go dark immediately if the bill passes, saying "it couldn't function."

On the other side, supporters say that online piracy leads to job losses in the U.S. since content creators lose income. They dismiss accusations of censorship, saying that the bills are meant to fix a broken system that doesn't prevent piracy.

Supporters say this bill won't hurt the average Internet user.

Many in the tech world agree that piracy is a real problem, but they worry about the implications of this legislation, fearing that it's a foot in the door that could lead to further government controls.

Meanwhile the bills that were once expected to sail through Congress have hit rough waters. One Senate aide tells CNN that because of the growing protests, the bill might not even make it to a vote.

Here’s my question to you: Should the U.S. government censor the internet?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: Congress • Government • Internet • Senate • Senate and Congress
If Congress is so bad, why do more than half of Americans say their own member deserves to be re-elected?
December 12th, 2011
03:06 PM ET

If Congress is so bad, why do more than half of Americans say their own member deserves to be re-elected?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Americans are fed up with Congress. Really fed up.

A new Gallup poll shows anti-incumbent attitudes are the highest they've been in 19 years.

76% of voters say most members do not deserve re-election.

What's more, this anti-incumbent mood is seen across the political spectrum - among Democrats, Republicans and especially Independents.

Back in 2010, when Democrats lost 63 House seats to Republicans, voters were less negative than they are now.

So, that means our elected representatives ought to start packing, right? After all, another recent poll put their job approval rating at an anemic 9%.

Well... not so fast. As is historically the case, even though people think Congress is rotten, they don't necessarily feel the same way about their own representatives.

This Gallup poll shows 53% of those surveyed say their representative deserves to be re-elected. Who are these people?

Makes it kind of hard to shake things up in Washington if people don't see their own elected officials as part of the problem.

And that's the thing: Almost every single one of them is part of the problem and part of the dysfunctional mess our government has become.

Congress can't even be bothered to pass a budget anymore. They can't be bothered to make any serious cuts to our skyrocketing national debt. They can't be bothered to do much of anything when it comes to energy policy. The list goes on.

Instead they just kick the can down the road on real issues and focus on getting re-elected.

Unless we stop them.

Here’s my question to you: If Congress is so bad, why do more than half of Americans say their own member deserves to be re-elected?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm 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.

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Filed under: Congress
Congress got 25% richer during height of recession?
November 2nd, 2011
02:09 PM ET

Congress got 25% richer during height of recession?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

While millions of Americans struggle under a weak economy, members of Congress keep getting richer. A lot richer.

"Roll Call" reports that members of Congress had a collective net worth of more than $2 billion in 2010.

That was up about 25 percent from 2008, during the height of the recession.

And these wealth totals likely underestimate how rich Congress really is. That's because they don't include homes and other non-income generating property, which could come out to hundreds of millions in additional dollars.

This wealth is split fairly evenly between both Democrats and Republicans.

Overall, about 200 members of Congress are millionaires. Once again, this doesn't include the value of their homes.

There are even a handful of lawmakers who are worth tens or hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Roll Call analysis shows that 90% of Congress' increase in wealth since 2008 benefited the 50 richest members. Sounds a lot like what's going on in the rest of the country.

What a surprise. Congress is getting richer faster than the rest of us. One economist says aggregate household worth went up 12 percent from 2008 to 2010, about half the increase Congress saw.

Another expert suggests members of Congress do better with their investments than the average American because they are privy to inside information.

Really? Seriously? They would take advantage of that… something that is clearly illegal for the rest of us?

The bottom line is this body of lawmakers has next to nothing in common with the average American. Yet we keep sending most of the same rat pack back year after year.

Here's my question to you: What does it say when members of Congress got 25% richer during the height of the recession?

Tune in to "The Situation Room" at 5 p.m. ET to see if Jack reads your answer on the air.

And we'd love to know where you're writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.


Filed under: Congress • Recession
What is the supercommittee waiting for?
August 24th, 2011
12:58 PM ET

What is the supercommittee waiting for?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The so-called Congressional super committee has a gigantic task ahead: they need to cut $1.5 trillion from the federal deficit in the next decade.

Which means these 12 lawmakers will have to address the politically sensitive issues of entitlement programs and tax increases – all coming up on an election year.

So far, the super committee has done... wait for it... nothing. In fact nobody even knows where they are.

Politico reports these dedicated public servants are enjoying the August Congressional recess along with the rest of Congress and don't plan to even convene until after Labor Day.

Even though their deadline to come up with these cuts is Thanksgiving.

Several of the members tell Politico they're ready to get to work sooner … but don't hold your breath.

One aide says that one of the co-chairs has been reaching out to every member of the committee - but so far those conversations are more introductory than substantive. And no work on cutting the deficit or raising taxes has been done. Nothing.

Critics are putting a lot of pressure on this committee to make sure its meetings are open to the public and transparent.

One committee member says he's "confident we will have public hearings." Really…the same kind we had with the health care reform bill? All done behind closed doors and rushed onto the floor for a vote before anyone had even read it? The law doesn't require the meetings to be open to the public and earlier this year other debt ceiling negotiations were held behind closed doors.

It's your money, but your government would rather you not know what's being done with it.

Here’s my question to you: What is the supercommittee waiting for?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Congress • Deficit
July 18th, 2011
04:25 PM ET

What's your greatest fear if the U.S. fails to raise debt ceiling?

ALT TEXT

Blank U.S. Treasury checks are run through a printer at the U.S. Treasury printing facility in Philadelphia. President Obama recently stated he can't guarantee retirees will receive their Social Security checks in August if the House and Senate can not reach an agreement on reducing the deficit. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

On August 3, the U.S. government is scheduled to pay $23 billion in Social Security benefits. But if a deal isn't reached in Congress to raise the debt ceiling, there's a chance those checks won't go out. That's because only $12 billion in revenue is expected to come in that day, which would leave the Treasury a cool $11 billion short, according to Politico.com.

Without an agreement, the federal government's line of credit will run out, and so will its options to write those checks. And when you include other payments scheduled that day, the federal government will be $20 billion short. Wonderful.

That's just one scenario, of course. Talking heads from Washington to Wall Street have weighed in with predictions on what could happen if a deal isn't reached - everything from a financial apocalypse to a nonevent. The administration has used words like "calamitous," "catastrophic" and "Armageddon." But a handful of vocal Republicans say the Obama administration is exaggerating the situation. They claim not a whole lot would happen if an agreement isn't reached by August 2.

But by and large, most economists say if the United States defaults on some of its loans, interest rates would shoot up, the dollar would plummet, stock markets around the world would tumble and our very fragile economy could suffer a mighty blow. Suffice it to say there doesn't appear to be a lot of upside to Uncle Sam defaulting on his obligations.

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Congress • National debt
July 13th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

What does it mean that 42 percent of Americans don't want Congress to raise the debt ceiling?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Despite that nasty game of chicken going on in Washington over raising the debt ceiling, congressional leaders from both parties have agreed that doing it is necessary.

National debt exceeds $14.3 trillion as the government faces an August 2 deadline to get congressional leaders to agree to a deal.

National debt exceeds $14.3 trillion as the government faces an August 2 deadline to get congressional leaders to agree to a deal.

The argument is over what else goes into a such bill that's tying them up and bringing us dangerously close to defaulting on some of our loans.

But according to a new Gallup poll, 42% of Americans don't want the debt ceiling raised and want their members of Congress to vote against any measure that raises it. Only 22 percent want their lawmakers to vote for raising the debt ceiling. One third of Americans say they are unsure.

When asked which is a greater concern, 51% say raising the debt ceiling without plans for major spending cuts worries them more. Only about 1/3 say they are more concerned with the risk of a major economic crisis if Congress does not take action.

But there are two separate issues here. Republican lawmakers have tied voting to raise the debt ceiling to long term deficit reduction. The fact is, if we don't raise the ceiling by August 2 and the U.S. defaults on some of its loans... interest rates would shoot up, the dollar would plummet, stock markets around the world would tumble. If you think things are ugly now, they could get much uglier.

In a separate poll, the number of Americans who believe the country is on the wrong track rose to 63% this month, up three percentage points from June. And if the United States fails to pay its creditors, it's a good bet that number will go even higher.

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean that 42 percent of Americans don't want Congress to raise the debt ceiling?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Congress • National debt
June 20th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Should Congress cut off funding for operations in Libya?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Questions continue over President Obama's decision to send U.S. forces to Libya. Whether or not he complied with the War Powers Resolution, or if he even needed to.

The president says he didn't.

Either way, lawmakers didn't have much say in the matter - and 90 days into the conflict, they still don't. But what they do have a say in is how much money can go toward a military operation like this one.

And House speaker John Boehner– who has said repeatedly that the president was in violation of the Vietnam era resolution - says the House could cut funding for U.S. military involvement in Libya when it takes up a defense appropriations bill later this week.

On the Sunday talk show circuit, two Republican Senators - Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona - both said they oppose cutting funding and warn that it could hurt NATO efforts in the region. Outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates also said cutting off funding in the middle of a military operation is always a mistake.

Gates also said he thinks that this conflict will "end okay" but he could not make a prediction as to how long it would last or when Moammar Gadhafi would fall.

But for a number of lawmakers the eventual outcome as well as the decision to go into Libya are beside the point. Last week, a bipartisan group of 10 House members filed a federal lawsuit challenging Obama's decision to send U.S. forces to Libya.

This is far from over.

Here’s my question to you: Should Congress cut off funding for operations in Libya?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Congress • Libya
June 7th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Should Rep. Anthony Weiner resign?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It took U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-New York, more than a week to admit that he lied about sending an explicit picture of himself to a young college student in Seattle and that he has carried on inappropriate online exchanges with a total of six women. But it only took a few minutes during his news conference to tell us he will not resign. He should.

Rep. Weiner admitted sending a lewd Twitter photo of himself to a woman and lying about it.

Rep. Weiner admitted sending a lewd Twitter photo of himself to a woman and lying about it.

House Minority Leader and fellow Democrat Nancy Pelosi announced that there will be an ethics investigation - not that those ever mean much, ask Charlie Rangel - into whether Weiner used government resources to send the messages or broke other ethics rules. If lying is considered unethical, an investigation is really unnecessary.

That's the crux of this matter. Not only did he send those sleazy pictures, pretty sick stuff in and of itself, he repeatedly lied about doing so. He sat down with countless reporters and members of the media and lied over and over and over again.

This leads one to wonder: What else does he lie about? How can his constituents or anyone else for that matter trust anything he says?

Weiner said in a statement he will "welcome and fully cooperate with an investigation by the House Ethics Committee."

Pelosi has not asked Weiner to step down as she did when the Ethics Committee launched a similar probe into former U.S. Rep. Chris Lee of New York, the married Republican who got caught trying to meet a woman over Craigslist last year. But then Pelosi has always had a convenient set of double standards. And when it comes to members of Congress, the phrase "Ethics Committee" more often than not proves to be an oxymoron.

Here’s my question to you: Should Rep. Anthony Weiner resign?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Congress • Government
May 16th, 2011
04:27 PM ET

Should Congress vote to raise the debt ceiling?

ALT TEXT

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner speaks during a press conference. Geithner announced that the Social Security Board of Trustees estimates that the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust funds will be exhausted by 2036. (PHOTO CREDIT: SAUL LOEB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The U.S. government officially hit its $14.3 trillion debt ceiling today, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told Congress. It comes as no surprise of course. Geithner pointed to this date months ago. But here we are, and lawmakers don't appear to be any closer to any sort of agreement on raising the limit the U.S. government can borrow.

The U.S. spends on average $118 billion more each month than it takes in. Geithner says he can keep things going until early August. After that, all bets are off. If Congress doesn't agree to raise the debt ceiling by then, the United States could default on its debt obligations. That could have devastating effects on our still-shaky economy and markets worldwide.

Many Republicans and some Democrats are refusing to vote in favor of such a move without a promise to make meaningful spending cuts. And while critics have warned against tying the two issues together, lawmakers are more concerned about how all this talk of debt ceilings and deficit reduction will play out with voters. Some Republicans believe if they vote for raising the debt ceiling, voters - particularly those in the highly vocal, newly powerful and very conservative Tea Party - will see it as a fiscally irresponsible.

A new Gallup poll shows 47% of Americans oppose raising the debt ceiling. Only 19% are in favor of it. But more than one-third say they don't know enough about the topic to say one way or the other. And that's a big part of the problem.

Here’s my question to you: Should Congress vote to raise the debt ceiling?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Congress • National debt
May 9th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Should raising taxes be more of a priority than cutting spending?

ALT TEXT

(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Americans are paying the smallest share of their income in taxes since 1958 - about 23.6% - according to new analysis from USA Today.

During the 70's, 80's and 90's, Americans spent about 27% of their income on taxes. If we were paying that rate now, $500 billion in additional taxes would be collected each year. Yes, $500 billion. That's about one-third of this year's federal deficit.

Now, conservative groups are quick to point out that this fall in tax revenue is due to a weak economy and not just lower tax rates or tax breaks. Deficit reduction advocates disagree. Either way, you gotta wonder what this country could do with an extra $500 billion dollars right about now.

This report comes as President Obama plans to meet with Democrats and Republicans separately over the next few weeks to talk about reducing the deficit. Senate Democrats will go to the White House on Wednesday, followed by Senate Republicans Thursday. House Democrats and Republicans will come in the "next few weeks."

Back in December, a deficit reduction committee created by the president recommended cutting spending and eliminating tax breaks to trim nearly $4 trillion from the deficit over the next decade. So far those recommendations have been largely ignored. President Obama came out with his own plan last month that calls for $2 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases.

Republican Congressman Paul Ryan has his own 10-year, $4.4 trillion plan that calls for spending cuts and the overhaul of Medicare but doesn't mention raising taxes. We're still waiting for a third deficit reduction plan from the so-called Gang of Six a bi-partisan group of six senators - we're still not sure what that will look like.

Here’s my question to you: Should raising taxes be more of a priority than cutting spending?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Congress • President Barack Obama • Spending • Taxes
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