By CNN's Jack Cafferty:
His critics have called him a socialist who wants to redistribute the wealth of the nation from the haves to the have-nots. Now a newly surfaced 1998 clip of then-Illinois State Senator Barack Obama would seem to support those allegations.
Republicans are pushing this audio clip – which they say was recorded at Loyola university...
In it, the future president talks about what he calls a "propaganda campaign" against government funded programs. He says he wants to resuscitate the idea that "we're all in this thing together, leave nobody behind."
Obama goes on to say this:
"I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution – because I actually believe in some redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody's got a shot."
Obama's critics say the idea of redistributing wealth is socialism; they're linking these 1998 comments to more recent remarks like Obama's "you didn't build that" line.
Back in 2008, John McCain and Sarah Palin went after Mr. Obama after he said "when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."
More recently the president has said he wants people to feel like they're getting a fair shot. In a December interview with “60 Minutes,” he talked about inequality and people like teachers and small business owners who are working hard but feel like they're just treading water.
In response to the 1998 comments, the Obama campaign says Mr. Obama was making an argument for more efficient and effective government. They say the president believes there are "steps we can take to promote opportunity."
Here’s my question to you: Is the redistribution of wealth President Obama's answer to America's problems?
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.
President Obama has some serious "issues" when it comes to the economy... and that might translate to "issues" come Election Day.
A new Gallup poll shows Americans continue to give the president failing grades on the economy, jobs and the deficit.
The president gets high marks for his handling of "terrorism"– 58 percent... and fair marks on "education" - 49 percent... and "foreign affairs" - 48%. But that's where the good news ends for him.
On immigration, Mr. Obama gets just a 38 percent approval rating... and it's downhill from there.
His worst marks come on "creating jobs" at 37%, the "economy" - 36%, and the "federal budget deficit" - 30%.
It's not hard to see why many Americans feel this way... with unemployment above 8 percent for 42 months in a row now and annual deficits topping $1 trillion dollars.
This poll also shows that the president's ratings on the economy are much worse than those of prior two-term presidents.
President Obama's 36% approval on the economy compares to 46% for George W. Bush, 54% for Bill Clinton and 50% for Ronald Reagan.
The bottom line here is millions of Americans continue to suffer under a weak economy, and if they don't get the sense that President Obama is improving their economic lives, it might be a tough sell come November 6th.
Here's my question to you: Should failing grades on the deficit, jobs and the economy cost President Obama a second term?
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.
By CNN's Jack Cafferty
More than 100 million people in the United States of America get welfare from the federal government. 100 million.
According to the Weekly Standard, Senate Republicans say that the federal government administers nearly "80 different overlapping federal means-tested welfare programs."
This figure of 100 million people does not include those who only receive Social Security or Medicare.
The most popular welfare programs are food stamps and Medicaid, with the number of recipients in both these programs skyrocketing in the last decade. Food stamp recipients alone jumped from 17 million in 2000 to 45 million in 2011.
And these 100 million people on welfare include citizens and non-citizens.
In fact, a new report by the Center for Immigration Studies finds that 36% of immigrant-headed households get at least one form of welfare. That's compared to 23% of native-born American households.
Immigrants from some countries rely on welfare more than others: more than half of those coming from Mexico, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic get welfare.
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney is accusing President Obama of loosening welfare requirements.
A new ad charges the president with gutting the 1996 welfare reform law that requires recipients to work in order to collect benefits.
But President Obama's campaign, the White House and former President Clinton - who signed welfare reform into law - are all pushing back against the Romney ad calling it false and misleading.
Here's my question to you: Where is the U.S. headed if more than 100 million people get welfare?
Tune in to "The Situation Room" at 4 p.m. ET to see if Jack reads your answer on the air.
From CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Turns out the golden years aren't so golden anymore for a lot of people.
A new study finds that many Americans die with "virtually no financial assets.” For more than 46% of us, that translates into less than $10,000.
The study - put out by a nonpartisan outfit called the National Bureau of Economic Research - finds that many Americans spend their golden years dependent on the government.
Researchers say many older Americans have no housing wealth and rely almost entirely on Social Security.
Since many seniors have so little in financial assets, they are unprepared to deal with unanticipated financial needs, such as major health-related expenses. Things like entertainment and travel are out of the question.
All this raises more questions about the future of Social Security.
If the government were to reduce benefits for seniors, it could directly affect the day-to-day lives of millions of older Americans who rely on these payments just to get by.
This study also highlights a connection between health and wealth, finding that healthier seniors are likely to have more assets than those who aren't as healthy. And, no surprise here, wealthier seniors are likely to live longer than poorer seniors.
One more thing to remember: Marriage might help you out in old age. According to the report, single seniors had a significantly lower median wealth than continuously married senior citizens. For some of us, that would seem to be counter intuitive.
Here's my question to you: What does it mean if almost half of Americans die with less than $10,000 in assets?
With the election just three months away and the economy struggling, a new poll suggests Americans overwhelmingly trust Mitt Romney to get the economy back on track.
The USA Today/Gallup poll shows by more than 2-to-1 - 63% to 29% - Americans say Romney's business background would help him to make good decisions about the economy.
The Obama campaign better take note. This poll suggests the president's strategy of relentless attacks on Romney's record at Bain Capital and his business background could backfire - big time.
With unemployment above 8% for 41 months, Americans might not care about what Romney did 10 years ago. What they care about is someone fixing the economy today. In fact, a lot of voters probably find Romney's business background to be a plus.
Meanwhile, the president has his own strengths over his GOP rival. This same poll shows by a margin of 2-to-1 that voters say Obama is more likable than Romney. By wide margins, voters say the president understands their problems better and that he's more honest and trustworthy than Romney.
Which sets up an interesting dilemma come Election Day:
Will Americans vote for the candidate who they believe can fix the economy - the nation's top issue - or the one they like more?
Here’s my question to you: Is it more important for a president to be able to handle the economy or to be likable?
Storm clouds are gathering for President Barack Obama.
The latest New York Times/CBS News poll shows Mitt Romney with a 1-point lead over Obama with 4% of voters undecided. And when asked about the economy, the difference is even more glaring. Romney holds an 8 percentage point lead over the president. Just 39% of those surveyed approve of the president's handling of the economy. That's down from 44% in April.
More bad news for the president:
In the crucial battleground of Virginia, Romney has closed a 12-point gap with Obama, and the two are now tied, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll. In 2008, Obama became the first Democrat to win that state since 1964.
Suffice to say that if there is no significant improvement in the economy - and it better start soon - Obama could have problems in Virginia and elsewhere.
The jobs picture remains bleak. Unemployment has been above 8% for 41 consecutive months now. Forty-one months. This morning, first-time jobless claims jumped sharply - up 34,000 from the previous week.
A new Gallup Poll shows Americans overwhelmingly say creating "more or better jobs" is the most important thing the government can do to jump-start the economy. That’s why some of the president's words and actions aren't helping much.
Many took issue when Obama said, "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."
Then there's the president's "jobs council." It hasn't even met for six months. The White House says Obama has "obviously got a lot on his plate" while Republicans suggest he's had time in the past six months to attend more than 100 fundraisers and play golf 10 times.
Here’s my question to you: Should the economy prevent President Obama from winning a second term?
Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.
Mitt Romney is coming under fire from some conservatives when it comes to the economy.
Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard says that Romney won't be able to win in November if voters don't think he has a clear plan to fix the economy.
Radio host Laura Ingraham also took a swipe at Romney - wondering why he's taking vacation when "we have a country to save."
The Wall Street Journal, now owned by Rupert Murdoch, says Romney needs to get more specific about how he would do a better job than Obama:
"The Romney campaign thinks it can play it safe and coast to the White House by saying the economy stinks and it's Mr. Obama's fault."
In fairness to Mr. Romney some of this griping is coming from conservative quarters that weren't thrilled with him in the first place.
Romney has a plan for jobs and economic growth laid out on his website.
And the likely Republican nominee has talked about how he would do things like lower tax rates, lift the barriers to the Keystone Pipeline, curb some regulatory policies that he says have driven up energy costs and repeal Obamacare.
Meanwhile what about President Obama? With another grim jobs report for June, unemployment is stuck at over 8% and job growth is weak.
If unemployment stays where it is - or goes higher - before November, it might be tough for the president to convince millions of unemployed Americans that he can feel their economic pain. Plus the national debt and annual deficits are out of control on his watch.
A recent CNN/ORC poll shows Americans just about split down the middle when it comes to who would better handle the economy.
Here’s my question to you: Whom do you trust more to turn around the economy: President Obama or Mitt Romney?
President Obama and Congress get a big fat "D" when it comes to their handling of the economy.
CNNMoney asked 20 economists to grade our leaders, and both the president and Congress received "D" averages.
It's hard to imagine any other profession where you could perform at this level and keep your job.
These experts say Congress is more interested in scoring political points than in helping the economy. They're also worried about the so-called fiscal cliff and the looming disaster if Congress can't get its act together.
But Congress doesn't seem too worried about any of this. Bloomberg news reports that congressional leaders may delay the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts until March. These cuts are scheduled to start in January.
At the same time they might temporarily extend income tax cuts and other tax breaks.
In other words, kick the can down the road some more without making any serious choices. That "D" grade is looking a little generous.
Meanwhile, ordinary Americans continue to suffer under the weak economy.
A new survey shows 28% of Americans have no emergency savings. Nothing. Zero.
The general rule of thumb is to have enough savings to cover at least six months of expenses. Only one in four people have that.
And just last week Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said he expects the unemployment rate to remain above 8% through the end of the year.
The real absurdity is Congress and the president will look at you with a straight face and tell you how they think they deserve to be re-elected.
Here’s my question to you: Economists give the president and Congress a "D" on the economy. How would you grade them?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Growing signs that the troubled economy keeps taking its toll on Americans in ways both big and small.
Nearly 7 million homes gave up cable or satellite TV last year - mostly due to the lingering recession.
A survey by GFK media shows that younger Americans, minorities and poor people dropped cable TV in the highest numbers - opting for broadcast or free TV only.
Industry insiders had worried people would dump cable TV in favor of online TV options but according to this survey, most people are cutting the cord because they need to cut costs.
Of course millions of Americans have been forced to cut much more than cable - including their homes, cars, vacations, grocery bills and medical care.
It's no surprise when you consider the drastic collapse in Americans' net worth.
A CNN/Money analysis of Census Bureau data shows that without including home equity, median household net worth fell by 25% from 2005 to 2010. When you include housing, the loss was 35%.
The great recession has wiped out nearly 30 years of net worth gains for the typical household. 30 years.
Once again, some groups are hit harder than others. Asian, black and Hispanic households lost about 60% of their net worth compared to 30% for whites. Young Americans also lost a bigger share of their wealth than their parents.
Lastly, more bad news for the struggling job market.
A Labor Department report shows the number of job openings fell in April.
The drop means there are 3.7 unemployed people looking for jobs for each opening.
Here’s my question to you: What has the economy forced you to give up?
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
It's the economy again, stupid; and this time around it just might sink President Barack Obama's re-election chances.
A new poll shows the president and Mitt Romney locked in a dead heat over who could better fix the economy, the top issue on voters' minds.
The Washington Post/ABC News Poll shows Obama with a three-point lead over Romney if the election were held today – 49% to 46%. But on handling the economy, the two are tied at 47%.
Despite the recent hoopla over other issues ranging from birth control to gay marriage, more than half of Americans say the economy will decide their vote. Issues such as health care, taxes and the federal deficit only rank in the single digits.
Late in the campaign in 1980, Ronald Reagan famously asked Americans: "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"
Turns out they weren't. There was a sudden 10-point swing in the closing days of the campaign, and Reagan defeated the incumbent Jimmy Carter in a landslide.
So how about in 2012? Some 30% of those surveyed say they are worse off financially today than when Obama took office in January 2009, only 16% say they are better off. This might make Obama-land nervous.
Obama's numbers on this question resemble those of George H.W. Bush. He lost his 1992 re-election bid in a rough economy.
However it's not all bad news for Obama. The poll shows voters are evenly split on who could better create jobs, and the president tops Romney on the question of who better understands people's economic problems.
Yet at the end of the day, many Americans might look in the mirror and ask themselves this question.
Here’s my question to you: Are you better off now than you were three and a half years ago?
Jack Cafferty sounds off hourly on the Situation Room on the stories crossing his radar. Now, you can check in with Jack online to see what he's thinking and weigh in with your own comments online and on TV.
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