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January 12th, 2010
04:00 PM ET

How much does Congress feel Americans' pain in recession?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Times are tough - very tough - for millions of Americans... but you could never tell by watching the way Congress spends our tax dollars on themselves.

Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Steny Hoyer (right) and Rep. Henry Waxman at a press conference in Copenhagen last month during the COP15 UN Climate Change Conference.

Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Steny Hoyer (right) and Rep. Henry Waxman at a press conference in Copenhagen last month during the COP15 UN Climate Change Conference.

CBS News has a stunning report on the all-expense paid trip at least 20 members of Congress made to the Copenhagen climate summit last month.

The bipartisan delegation led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was so large - it needed three military jets - two 737s and a Gulfstream Five. Some members brought along their spouses, children... plus there were also senators and staff members who made the trip to Denmark - most of them flying commercial.

Pelosi wouldn't answer any questions about costs or where they all stayed - even though she was the one who decided who went. Her office says only that it will "comply with disclosure requirements."

CBS puts the cost of military jet flying time at nearly $170,000 plus the cost of dozens of commercial flights... hundreds of hotel stays, many at the five-star Marriott... and tens of thousands of dollars in meals.

This is a disgrace - the national unemployment rate is at 10-percent, with employers cutting more jobs than expected last month. People are suffering. In California, Pelosi's home state is faced with a $20-billion deficit. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's budget plan would force 200-thousand children off low-cost medical insurance... end in-home care for more than 300,000 sick and elderly citizens... and cut income assistance to hundreds of thousands more.

This nation is hurting - but Nancy Pelosi can use three military jets for a December trip to Copenhagen and then refuse to answer any questions about it.

Here’s my question to you: How much do members of Congress feel the pain of the American people in this recession?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Congress • Recession
December 14th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Do you think the recession is over?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Depending on which member of the Obama administration you ask - the recession may or may not be over.

There were mixed messages coming this weekend from some of the president's top economic aides.

Larry Summers, head of the National Economic Council, said: "Today, everybody agrees that the recession is over, and the question is what the pace of the expansion is going to be."

He pointed out the U.S. was losing 700,000 jobs a month when the president took office - and last month we lost 11,000 jobs. He says there should be job growth by spring.

But wait... When Christina Romer - head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers - was asked if the recession is over, she said: "Of course not. For the people on Main Street and throughout this country, they are still suffering." Romer says she won't say the recession is over until the unemployment rate is back to about five percent. Right now - it's at 10-percent.

The Obama administration is doing a balancing act here. On the one hand - they want to show optimism that the economy is recovering - after all, there is an election in November. But - they also want to appear sensitive to the difficult time that millions of Americans are still going through.

However, saying both these things at the same time is confusing.

Here’s my question to you: In light of mixed messages coming from the Obama administration, do you think the recession is over?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Obama Administration • Recession
September 3rd, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Is U.S. still in a recession?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Almost nine in 10 Americans think the country is still in a recession - more than 21 months after it began. A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll shows 87 percent of those surveyed say we're in a serious, moderate or mild recession... while 69 percent say things are going badly in the U.S.

The good news is that number is down from a high of 83 percent in November, and 77 percent in April.

Also - fewer Americans now think we're in a "serious" recession than those who did in the spring.

And, although the economy is still the top issue according to most Americans.... this poll suggests it's dropping in importance.

While the American people might not be convinced that the end is in sight, a lot of economists say things are turning around. The Federal Reserve says it's more confident that the economy is stabilizing... although they're not sure what the recovery will look like.

Recent data has shown the economy expanding, but so far it hasn't been enough to turn around the job market. We still have 9.4 percent unemployment; and that number is expected to top 10 percent.

It's unlikely we'll see any more significant changes until consumer spending - which makes up two-thirds of the economy– picks up again. And with an overwhelming majority of Americans saying we're in a recession - it doesn't seem like they'll be reaching for their wallets any time soon.

Here’s my question to you: Do you believe the U.S. is still in a recession?

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: Recession • United States
August 24th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

How is the American dream changing?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

More good news from our government. Friday the White House said deficits would climb to $9 trillion over the next ten years bringing the total national debt to $20 trillion a decade from now.

The government also announced Social Security recipients will get no cost of living adjustments during the next two years. That hasn't happened since automatic increases were put into place in 1975. We can find hundreds of billions of dollars for AIG and Wall Street, but we can't give our senior citizens a small cost of living increase in their social security. When does the revolution start?

We're in the midst of a recession not seen since the great depression. Millions of Americans are out of work, unemployment has soared to 9.4 percent. Millions of good paying jobs have been have been shipped overseas never to return. And the manufacturing base that was once the engine of our economy is on life support. We simply don't make "things" anymore.

We are in debt up to our eyeballs to China and other foreign countries as we increasingly look to them to finance out deficit spending. And through it all have you noticed? There's no talk in Washington of cutting expenses or reducing the size of government.

There are unfunded liabilities in the tens of trillions of dollars for Medicare and Social Security; and no plan for how to pay for health care reform. Add in the drain of millions of illegal aliens and the fact that many states are bankrupt. We're in serious trouble here.

Here’s my question to you: How is the American dream changing?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Economy • Recession • United States
August 11th, 2009
01:50 PM ET

Nationwide govt. hiring freeze until after recession?

Should there be a nationwide government hiring freeze until the recession is over?

Should there be a nationwide government hiring freeze until the recession is over?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

During a recession most people tend to cut back-unless you're the government.

The state of California – which has a budget deficit of more than $26 billion dollars – added thousands of people to the state payroll last year. The state of California has lost nearly 760,000 private sector jobs during the same time that the government was adding 3,600 people to the state payroll.

Taxpayer groups are outraged, and rightfully so. They suggest cutting jobs, not hiring more people, should be the answer during tough economic times... which seems pretty logical. They say, "When there's no money left in the till, you should economize."

But state employees say they're being punished for the government's irresponsible financial decisions – like hiring thousands of additional workers when the state deficit is in the tens of billions of dollars. They point to unpaid furloughs as an example, saying the furloughs equal about a 14% pay cut for some state employees.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says monthly payroll costs have decreased by about 10% because of these furloughs. Also, the governor says the increase in workers is due to more demand on the state for services during the recession.

One state official insists that "it wouldn't be much of a safety net if we cut down services people needed most" during the recession. For example, some of the biggest increases came in the state's unemployment agency.

SO HERE'S THE QUESTION: Should there be a nationwide government hiring freeze until the recession is over?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Recession
August 4th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

How will you know when recession ends?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Some of the sharper financial minds out there think the worst recession in decades may be ending soon. Economist Nouriel Roubini says: "There is now potentially light at the end of the tunnel." He thinks the recession will end at the end of the year.

He's worth listening to. He predicted the financial crisis. But his prediction isn't all rosy. He says there's a chance the economy will start to recover - only to drop back into a recession by late 2010 or 2011 because of growing government debt - among other things.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan says he's pretty sure we've seen the bottom; and that economic growth may even pick up at a faster rate than what experts are predicting. But, Greenspan warns that recovery depends a lot on the housing market - which could possibly take another downward turn.

Other positive signs include recent reports on improving home and auto sales along with GDP numbers that show the economy shrank much less in the second quarter.

President Obama has credited the economic stimulus package for helping get things back on track. He says it helped "put the brakes on recession," and that he's optimistic about the economy, although there's still "a lot more work to do."

One of the biggest areas of concern is unemployment. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner says even as the economy on the whole improves - the unemployment rate may not peak until the second half of next year.

Here’s my question to you: How will you know when the recession ends?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Recession
July 31st, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Economy forced you to consider career change?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Millions and millions of Americans have lost their jobs since this recession started in December of 2007; and the unemployment rate is expected to top 10-percent before the end of this year.

Job opportunities in the health care industry are on the rise.

The harsh reality is that a lot of these people have remained out of work for a very long time. Many of the businesses that used to employ them - the auto industry, finance, real estate and construction - have also been hit hard by the recession.

At the same time, other fields - like health care, clean energy, computer science and government - are expected to grow a lot in the years to come.

USA Today reports that millions of Americans are making dramatic job changes. A survey by Career-Builder shows 71-percent of workers who were laid off and haven't found jobs yet say they're looking for work outside their fields. This could mean the unemployment rate stays higher for longer - as workers need time to get training and then find jobs in a new field.

And these transitions aren't always easy. Sometimes the unemployed have to spend thousands of dollars getting that training - to learn skills needed for a new career. And then they find they have to take pay cuts.

The government is trying to help... the economic stimulus package included $4 billion over three-years to help retrain and place unemployed people in new jobs.

Here’s my question to you: Has the economy forced you to consider a career change?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Recession • Unemployment • Unemployment / Economy
July 2nd, 2009
04:00 PM ET

In light of recession, how will this 4th of July be different?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As millions of Americans get ready for the July 4th holiday weekend, some more dreary news on the job front.

The government reported another 467,000 jobs were lost in June - far worse than forecast and the first time in four months that the number of jobs lost went up.

The unemployment rate - now at 9.5 percent - has gone up for nine straight months and sits at a 26-year high. One expert describes these numbers as not catastrophic... but "still pretty damn lousy."

As the recession drags on, a new Gallup poll shows 71-percent of Americans say they have cut back spending... while 88-percent say they're watching spending very closely. This is despite the fact that 78-percent of those surveyed say they have enough money to buy only what they need.

21-percent say they worried "yesterday" about spending too much.

Gallup suggests these results show Americans may have reached a "new normal" of spending less and that frugality may become a permanent part of the national fabric.

In the wake of the recession, they also looked at Americans' drinking habits, and found the percentage of adults who drink alcohol has stayed fairly steady at 64-percent. There are no major changes reported in how much drinkers drink - and their preferred drink is still beer.

It's a problem. The recession may very well give people more reasons to drink - but they have less money to do it with.

Here's my question to you: In light of the recession, how will this July Fourth celebration differ from years past?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Recession • United States
May 12th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Rising gas prices & recession impact your summer plans?

Gas prices are up almost 10 percent in the last two weeks, and have hit a six month high. AAA says the national average is now $2.25 a gallon for unleaded regular, up $0.20 from two weeks ago. One of the main reasons gas prices are going up is because of rising crude oil prices, which closed at their highest level of the year on Friday.

Will the price of gas keep you from doing what you really want to do this summer?

The good news is analysts say it's unlikely that prices will climb as high as they did last summer, when most people were shelling out $4.00 a gallon. In fact, while prices are going up now, they're still nearly 50 percent lower than the record high set last July.

Also it's typical to see prices increase ahead of Memorial Day weekend - the unofficial start to summer, when more Americans start hitting the road. But AAA says they'd be surprised to see prices reach $3.50 a gallon this summer unless there's an unexpected supply disruption - something like a hurricane.

The slumping economy is also expected to keep prices lower. That's because income is the biggest factor determining how much people drive; and with unemployment at 8.9 percent, it seems more likely that people will stay close to home to save on the gas bill.

Here's my question to you: How will rising gas prices and the recession impact your summer vacation plans?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Recession • Vacation
May 1st, 2009
06:00 PM ET

What makes you happy during the recession?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As the recession drags on, many Americans feel they've been dragged down with it. A new Washington Post-ABC News Poll shows 56 percent of those polled say the recession has caused them to make significant changes in their lifestyle; and a quarter are angry or upset about having to do so.

Exercise can reduce symptoms of depression, particularly during these trying economic times.

According to the survey, 66 percent of Americans have lost a job or seen it happen to someone close to them; while 71 percent have either had their wages or hours cut or seen it happen to a friend or relative. Not to mention the values of their 401(k)s and homes tanking.

So how can people stay positive with all this depressing stuff going on? U.S. News and World Report talked to experts for tips on how to stay happy during the recession.

Some of their suggestions include:

– Spending money on an experience, show tickets or dining out, rather than an item - new clothes, a cell phone or jewelry

– Working on meaningful relationships - especially with cheerful people

– Being grateful for what you've got - spending time with those less fortunate, like at a soup kitchen or hospital, can do wonders for that

– Exercising - which can reduce symptoms of depression

– Practicing acts of kindness like donating blood or feeding a friend's pet

Here’s my question to you: In light of the recession, what makes you happy?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Recession
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