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February 28th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Should the power of public labor unions be reduced?

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Demonstrators protested in the capitol rotunda last night in Madison, Wisconsin. Demonstrators have occupied the building with a round-the-clock protest for the past 13 days protesting Governor Scott Walker's attempt to push through a bill that would restrict collective bargaining for most government workers in the state. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It's been two weeks since public-union supporters in Wisconsin began protesting in and around the state capitol in Madison.

They're upset over Republican Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to close the state's $3.6 billion budget gap. It calls for putting limits on public workers' collective bargaining rights and requiring those workers to have more money taken out of their paychecks for health care and pension funds.

But the budget bill is at a standstill. It passed the State Assembly, but rather than vote on the bill in the Senate, which is their job, the Democratic state senators ran away to Illinois and have not returned. But Walker is holding his ground.

Pro-union protesters have taken to state capitol buildings in Indiana and Ohio as well over the past week. This is also in response to Republican-sponsored bills calling for cuts to public union employees' benefits and limiting their collective bargaining rights.
In Tennessee, teachers are fighting a bill that would take away their collective bargaining rights. They've already said they'd make some concessions on areas such as tenure, which prevents teachers from being fired but is often criticized as keeping bad teachers in the classroom.

In this economy, public labor unions have lost a good amount of popular support. That's because private-sector union workers no longer get the job protection, health benefits and pension plans these state employees still enjoy.

Here’s my question to you: Should the power of public labor unions be reduced?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Uncategorized
January 18th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Tighten rules for senior citizens who drive?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As snow and ice cover many of the nation's roadways, here's something to think about:

At what point should elderly drivers be taken off the road?

America Online reports that elderly drivers now make up almost 20 percent of all motorists. And that number is growing as the Baby Boomers age. It's no surprise that one recent survey shows almost one in 10 adults are worried about an older family member driving.

Experts say the top thing is to understand the importance of mobility for the elderly. Driving gives them a huge sense of independence and autonomy.

They suggest if you're worried about a family member's driving, you should take a ride with them and watch. And then, if necessary, have a conversation about it - a sensitive topic, for sure.

Here are some things to look out for when a senior citizen gets behind the wheel:

Stopping in traffic for no reason, difficulty staying in the same lane, getting lost in familiar places, being easily distracted or irritated while driving, difficulty turning around to see when backing up, loss in confidence, other drivers often honking horns and scrapes or dents on the car or garage. Clues, one and all.

There is no specific age when the elderly have to stop driving. But there comes a point when they become a danger to themselves and others.

Many states have special requirements for senior citizens to renew their licenses. Sometimes they have to apply for a renewal more frequently. In some states, they need to retake road or vision tests or renew their license in person, instead of through the mail.

Here’s my question to you: Should the rules be tightened for senior citizens who drive?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Uncategorized
December 1st, 2010
04:23 PM ET

Anyone serious about tackling deepening financial crisis?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

If someone in Washington doesn't wake up and do something meaningful about America's deepening financial crisis, it could be the end of the road for this once great nation.

It's been clear for some time that we can't continue in the direction we are headed, yet Washington just sits on its collective hands: our lawmakers keep spending money they don't have, while refusing to make any serious cuts.

Take a look at where we are today:

  • For starters, the deficit commission that's supposed to come up with some solutions has issued its final report... but has pushed back its crucial vote until friday.
  • After promising to ban earmarks, the Senate voted not to - typical. These people are strangers to the truth.
  • Nothing yet from Congress on the Bush tax cuts - as we hurtle toward the biggest tax increase in American history on January 1. Meanwhile, polls show an overwhelming majority of Americans want at least some of them extended.
  • Unemployment benefits start expiring today for two million Americans - since the senate failed to renew them. If people can't find jobs... what happens to them now?
  • President Obama wants to freeze federal wages for two years, but he says nothing about reducing the size of government.
  • The States face a collective $41 billion budget gap.
  • As the war in Afghanistan drags on, it's looking like Korea or Iran could be next up. where's the money for that going to come from if it happens?

For all these reasons and more - the national debt now tops $13 trillion... some estimate it's growing at the staggering rate of five billion dollars a day.

Here’s my question to you: Is anyone serious about tackling the nation's deepening financial crisis?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Uncategorized
September 7th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

Florida church's 9/11 Quran burning a good idea?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

General David Petraeus - the top commander in Afghanistan - is condemning a Florida church's plan to burn Qurans on September 11.

Petraeus says the burning of Islam's holy books could endanger American troops overseas - and the overall effort in Afghanistan. There are about 120,000 U.S. and NATO troops fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Petraeus says even the rumor that the Quran burning might happen has sparked protests in the Muslim world. Hundreds of Afghans demonstrated yesterday in Kabul, chanting "Death to America" and calling on the U.S. to withdraw its troops. Thousands of Indonesians gathered outside the U.S. embassy in Jakarta over the weekend. Protesters say Quran burning is an insult to Muslims all around the world.

Meanwhile - the pastor of Dove World Outreach Church in Gainesville, Florida, tells CNN his congregation plans to go through with it.

Terry Jones says they've "firmly" made up their minds but are praying about what they're about to do. Jones says the congregation knows this is an offensive action, but says he's offended when Muslims burn the American flag or the Bible. He claims the church's message is not one of hate and not meant for moderate Muslims, but rather a warning to radical Muslims.

Lots of people think this is a bad idea. The U.S. embassy in Kabul says that the U.S. government condemns the "offensive messages" and disrespect against Islam.

And various religious groups are also opposing the Quran burning. The National Association of Evangelicals is calling on the church to cancel the event. And Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Hindu leaders in Gainesville have organized a so-called Gathering for Peace the night before the scheduled burning.

Here’s my question to you: A Florida church is planning to burn Qurans on September 11 as a warning to Muslim extremists. Is this a good idea?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Uncategorized
September 2nd, 2010
04:30 PM ET

What's the biggest complaint about your job?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

For those Americans who are lucky enough to have a job, stress is their biggest complaint about their work.

A new Gallup poll shows that a majority of U.S. workers are completely satisfied with many parts of their job - including their relations with coworkers, the flexibility of their hours, their boss or immediate supervisor - and the amount of work that's required of them.

They are least satisfied with stress, followed by their pay, retirement plan, health insurance benefits and their chances for promotion.

The poll also shows 48 percent of workers are completely satisfied with their jobs. That's similar to satisfaction ratings in the past several years, despite the onset of the global financial crisis.

What's more - job satisfaction is higher now than it was a decade ago. Workers appear to be more satisfied with several aspects of their job than they were in 2001.

Experts suggest this means either employers have become more generous - or maybe employees have become more grateful to have a job or easier to please, since the economy took a turn for the worse.

Meanwhile - the national unemployment rate stands at 9.5 percent; and underemployment is estimated at about double that. Stay tuned for the monthly jobs report tomorrow morning. You can be sure it will be gone over with a fine-tooth comb for any signs that businesses are starting to hire.

Here’s my question to you: What's the biggest complaint about your job?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 6pm 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: Uncategorized
June 18th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

Does it feel like a 'recovery summer' to you?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Turns out "recovery" is in the eye of the beholder...

President Obama and Vice President Biden have kicked off a massive PR campaign... celebrating what they're calling "recovery summer."

Pres. Obama and VP Biden discuss implementation of the Recovery Act, which would ramp up economic stimulus spending over the next three months in a bid to save or create 600,000 jobs through summer youth programs, schools and public works.

Pres. Obama and VP Biden discuss implementation of the Recovery Act, which would ramp up economic stimulus spending over the next three months in a bid to save or create 600,000 jobs through summer youth programs, schools and public works.

They say the $860 billion economic stimulus bill is working. The White House says 2.5 million jobs have been created; and that number should reach 3.5 million by the end of the year. They're highlighting new jobs at thousands of infrastructure projects across the country.

But the celebration may be premature. Just yesterday - the labor department reported that new claims for jobless benefits jumped by 12,000 last week. That's a sharp increase and shows the pace of layoffs has not slowed down. Plus we still have a national unemployment just below 10 percent.

An editorial in the Washington Times called "Obama's Endless Summer of Spending" suggests the administration's "make-work" jobs program has failed - and that those infrastructure jobs which are being funded by the taxpayers will disappear when the stimulus money runs out. Fact is the current recovery has been one of the worst for job creation on record.

Meanwhile the picture in many of the 50 states is terrible and getting worse. State and local governments are cutting wherever they can to meet their budgets... reducing or eliminating public services, underfunding state pension plans - and cutting more than 230,000 state and local government jobs in the last two years.

Former Fed chief Alan Greenspan is out with a dire warning that the U.S. may soon reach its borrowing limit if we don't make some drastic changes and reduce our $13 trillion national debt. But President Obama wants billions more for stimulus spending.

Somewhere there is a serious disconnect.

Here’s my question to you: Does it feel like a "recovery summer" to you?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Uncategorized
June 4th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

How much do you worry about $13-trillion federal debt?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

If this doesn't scare you, it should:

Our national debt is increasing at the rate of $5 billion a day and has now passed a record $13-trillion. Since President Obama has taken office, the debt has increased $2.4-trillion in less than 17 months. Staggering.

 FILE PHOTO: A shot of the National Debt Clock on July 13, 2009.

FILE PHOTO: A shot of the National Debt Clock on July 13, 2009.

We are in a fiscal crisis every bit as serious as the environmental crisis in the Gulf. And the implications are even more dire.

It doesn't really matter whose fault it is. And blaming someone doesn't make it all right. We, the taxpayers, are the ones who will have to pay.

A piece on CNNMoney.com called "Why U.S. Debt Matters to You" describes how this burden won't only fall on future generations - it will affect all of us.

Several problems could happen sooner rather than later, including slower economic growth and higher interest payments.

Some say if something isn't done soon, the U.S. could face a debt crisis in as few as five years. But nothing is being done; and nothing probably will be. See, there is an election in November and the gutless people we elect to run the country won't do anything until after that - if they even do anything then.

The president has appointed a commission to study the problem. It's pretty much worthless - has absolutely no power to change anything... just make recommendations which aren't due until December.

How many $5-billion-dollar days is that?

Meantime the country is like one of those Toyotas with the accelerator stuck... going faster and faster straight for disaster. And nobody cares.

Here’s my question to you: How much do you worry about the $13-trillion federal debt?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Uncategorized
May 21st, 2010
06:00 PM ET

How confident do you feel about the future?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Some days it really does feel like the end of the world as we know it. There is pretty grim news everywhere you look - from the economy to international threats to natural disasters.

And people are taking notice. A new Gallup poll shows only 23 percent of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S. - that's far below the historical average of 40 percent.

When it comes to the economy, the stock market is taking a beating. The Dow Jones Industrial Average had its biggest one-day drop in more than a year yesterday - nearly 400 points - and has dropped more than a thousand points in a matter of a few weeks.

One top economist, Nouriel Roubini, says the stock market will drop another 20 percent before this correction is over.

Investors are nervous about Europe's debt crisis, among other things. And it's not just Europe. Many worry America's skyrocketing deficits could soon put us on the brink of the kind of stuff Greece is going through.

Overseas, North Korea is threatening all-out war if South Korea retaliates for the North sinking one of its ships. Iran continues its march toward nuclear weapons and claims it could destroy Israel within a week if Israel attacks them first.

In the Gulf, a massive oil spill is threatening wildlife and entire industries up and down the Gulf Coast. And Mother Nature seems unhappy as well… with earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and Taiwan, floods in Tennessee and a volcano in Iceland that continues to spew ash and disrupt European air travel.

A lot to think about on a Friday night.

Here’s my question to you: How confident do you feel about the future?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Uncategorized
April 27th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

If you had extra $, invest in stock market?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The bloom is slowly returning to the rose that is Wall Street. More and more Americans are willing to put their money into the stock market these days.

A new Gallup poll shows 22 percent of those surveyed say stocks or mutual funds are the best long-term investment... that's up from 15 percent who felt that way one year ago...

Real estate tops the list in this poll - with 29 percent saying that's the best long-term investment... 28 percent say savings accounts or CDs ... and 14 percent say bonds.

This poll also shows wealthier and college-educated Americans prefer stocks and mutual funds for long-term investing... while those with lower incomes and no college education prefer savings accounts or CDs.

There are several reasons why Americans might be a bit more confident in Wall Street these days.

For one thing, the stock market is much stronger now - with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing at 11,205 points yesterday... up from a low of 6,547 in March of 2009 at the height of the financial crisis. That's an impressive gain of 71 percent in little more than a year.

Also, people may be more confident because they believe the government will soon have more oversight when it comes to Wall Street.

As we reported last hour in the Cafferty File - two-thirds of Americans support stricter regulations for banks and financial institutions.

So in case there are a few extra bucks in your pocket as the economy starts to show signs of recovery...

Here’s my question to you: If you had an extra $10,000, would you invest it in the stock market?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Uncategorized
April 26th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Is your recession over?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It's springtime and the signs of recovery are springing up everywhere... from the nation's ports to its malls, from the factories to car dealerships.

One longshoreman on the docks in Portland, Oregon told the New York Times, "Things are looking up."

There may be something to what he says. Consumer spending - which makes up more than two-thirds of the U.S. economy - was up by four percent during the first quarter... more than double what was expected.

Americans are shopping again - buying furniture, cars and electronics. One retail analyst says on his weekly "mall check" he's seeing lots of women ages 25 to 45 shopping again... one sign of a recovery.

Last month, retail sales were up nine percent; and new home sales were up 27 percent.

But the question is: How strong will the recovery be? It appears that much of the improvement in the economy so far is a result of the $800 billion government stimulus program. Once that money is used up - it's not clear how much consumers will keep spending.

And, another looming factor is when the jobs will come back. Although March saw the biggest surge in hiring in over two years, the U.S. economy has lost about eight million jobs since the start of the recession and the national unemployment rate is still almost 10 percent.

A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows 19 percent of those surveyed say the economy is starting to recover - that's up significantly from January.

46 percent say the economy has stabilized; and 34 percent say it's still in a downturn.

Statistics and poll numbers are one thing…your personal situation is another.

Here’s my question to you: Is your recession over?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Recession • Uncategorized
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