By CNN's Jack Cafferty:
The polarization of America is like a cancer that is slowly killing us. And like many forms of cancer, there appears to be no cure.
We are more severely divided now than at any time in the last 25 years according to a new pew study.
And it's not the usual suspects of race, education level, income, gender and religion. Political differences are what's ripping the country apart.
This political divide peaked during the last decade - during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
The Pew survey finds Democrats and Republicans are most divided on the social safety net for the poor with a 41-point gap between the two parties.
Other issues with huge divisions include: the environment, labor unions, equal opportunity and "government scope and performance."
This deepening polarization is something we see among voters and of course among our so-called leaders in Washington. The government is paralyzed - unable to get over their political differences in order to work together and address the people's business that desperately needs doing.
Perhaps the most serious consequence of partisanship is our skyrocketing national debt - now closing in on $16 trillion.
The Congressional Budget Office says that unless Congress does something about government spending and/or taxes, the federal debt is set to double by the middle of the next decade and will reach twice the size of the whole U.S. economy by 2037. We are committing economic suicide.
But don't expect Washington to do anything about it. There's an election in November.
Here’s my question to you: What can be done about the deepening polarization in America?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Yet another sign of our very troubled times:
Almost half of Americans - 48.5% - live in a household that gets some kind of government aid.
That's a record high according to census data for the first quarter of 2010. It's up from about 44% of the population in 2008... and from less than 30% in 1983.
Here's how it breaks down:
More than 34% of Americans live in a household that gets either food stamps, subsidized housing, cash welfare or Medicaid. Applications for these programs are up nearly 50% in the past decade.
More than 14% live in homes where someone is on Medicare.
16% live in homes getting Social Security.
But that's only half the story.
As unemployment hovers above 9%, more than 46 million Americans live below the poverty line. And as more people turn to government assistance, there are fewer people actually paying taxes to support all these programs.
It's estimated that more than 46% of households will pay no federal income tax this year. In 2010, 45% of households paid no federal income tax.
It doesn't take a mathematician to figure out that this is unsustainable.
With fewer than half of Americans paying federal taxes - and just about half living in a family that gets government aid - this country is headed down the drain. And fast.
It's no wonder the crowds protesting around the country keep growing with every passing day.
Here’s my question to you: How long can we go on with almost half of Americans living in households that get government assistance?
The legalization of marijuana, immigration reform and health care.
These are just three hot-button examples of how the states and the federal government are increasingly out-of-step with each other.
Starting with California, the Justice Department is vowing to keep prosecuting people who possess marijuana there - even if voters approve a ballot measure that would legalize recreational use of the drug.
Attorney General Eric Holder says the administration "strongly opposes" Proposition 19 and will "vigorously enforce" federal drug laws should the measure pass.
Whether or not you approve of marijuana, California is bankrupt and in desperate need of money. Taxing pot might be a way to raise some cash.
Meanwhile - the federal government is going after states like Arizona, which are trying to do something about illegal immigration since the federal laws go all but unenforced.
The Obama administration is suing Arizona, claiming the state's immigration law is unconstitutional. A federal judge has put some of the most controversial parts of the law on hold... but Arizona's governor Jan Brewer is vowing to take her state's case all the way to the Supreme Court.
And then there's President Obama's signature issue of health care reform. It's been the law of the land for several months, yet dozens of states are now challenging it.
A federal judge has ruled that a lawsuit brought by 20 of these states can move forward. He says the states can challenge the constitutionality of the law's requirement for all Americans to buy health insurance.
Here’s my question to you: Why does there seem to be a growing disconnect between the states and the federal government?
Socialism may be tossed around like a dirty word these days, but it turns out more than one-third of Americans have a positive image of socialism.
A new Gallup poll shows 36 percent of those surveyed have a positive view of socialism, while 58 percent have a negative opinion.
No surprise that there is a big partisan gap here - most Democrats and liberals have a positive view of socialism, compared to the negative image held by most Republicans and conservatives.
The poll also shows Americans are very positive in their reactions to these terms:
While they are divided on the terms:
As for capitalism, Americans respond more positively than negatively - by almost two to one - 61 to 33 percent.
But out of all the items in this poll, socialism has the lowest positive rating and the highest negative rating - yet like we said, that positive view still tops one-third, which is significant.
In recent months - some of the president's critics have taken to calling him a socialist.
They point to some of Mr. Obama's policies, including what they call a government takeover of health care, as proof.
Here’s my question to you: What does it mean if 36 percent of Americans have a positive view of socialism?
From CNN's Jack Cafferty:
The Pew Researcher Center asked, "Where would Americans most like to live and how do they feel about the place they call home?"
Where would you live if you could live somewhere else?
The bottom line is that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
They surveyed more than 2 thousand adults back in October and found that 46% would rather live in a different type of community than the one they live in. City people want to move out to the country, and country folks want to head for the big city.
And when it comes to big cities what do they have in mind? Well Denver, San Diego and Seattle are the cities most people said they want to live in. Also high on the list: Orlando, Tampa, San Francisco and Phoenix. While Detroit, Cleveland and Cincinnati are the cities most people don't want to live in.
Even though people are longing to live elsewhere, 8 in 10 rate where they currently live as excellent.
Of course the Pew folks break it down in every way possible so they can tell us things like more men than women want to live in Las Vegas and younger adults would rather live in Los Angeles and New York and so on. It's Friday.
Here’s my question to you: Where would you live if you could live somewhere else?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Some pregnant high school students in Colorado may soon be getting maternity leave.
According to local media reports, the Denver Public School District is putting together guidelines for pregnant students' leaves, which could last for four to six weeks after they give birth. They would be expected to complete their schoolwork from home and keep up in their studies. However, school officials insist it's important to give the new mothers time to bond with their babies.
And, there are a lot of these new teen moms. Statistics show 42 of every 1,000 high school-aged girls are having babies.
The issue of maternity leave came up in Denver after the school district got complaints that some students were told to report to class the day after they got out of the hospital, or else risk getting "unexcused" absences. Experts, including a pediatrician and psychology professor, suggested giving new mothers at least four weeks of maternity leave to recover.
Across the country, other school districts like Seattle and Minneapolis say they have maternity leave policies that focus on individual attention for these students.
And there's a good reason for that: teen mothers often end up dropping out of school. By some accounts, less than a third of them get their high school diplomas and only 1.5% get college degrees before they turn 30.
Of course, critics would say this also raises the issue of whether it's a good idea to give these students any more time off.
Here’s my question to you: Should pregnant high school girls be given maternity leave?
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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