May 28th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Is the government getting too involved in the auto industry?


President Obama's 'car czar' Edward Montgomery tours a GM plant in Flint, Mich. in May. (PHOTO CREDIT: BILL PUGLIANO/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

When it comes to restructuring the auto industry, the Obama administration is knee-deep.

General Motors is expected to follow in the footsteps of Chrysler, and file for bankruptcy in the coming days. It would be the largest industrial bankruptcy in U.S. history.

G.M. says a committee of bondholders has agreed to a new deal offered by the government. It would erase GM's unsecured debt in exchange for company stock.

If the deal goes through, the government – which has already lent GM close to $20 billion – could have a 72% stake in the company and provide billions more in financing for General Motors to keep operating while being reorganized.

The administration's goal for G.M. is to return to profitability. The White House reportedly wants to play "as minimal" a role and "exit" the investment as soon as they possibly can. But the risks for taxpayers are huge, when you consider U.S. auto sales are near their lowest level in 27 years.

Not everyone is sure the level of the Obama administration's involvement is a good idea.

A poll taken in Michigan by Detroit News/WXYZ shows 42% of those surveyed say the president's role has hurt the domestic automakers, while 39% say he's been helpful.

Here’s my question to you: Is the government getting too involved in the auto industry?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Auto Industry
May 28th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Does it hurt GOP when right-wing critics call Sotomayor a racist?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The national dialogue just doesn't seem to get any gentler. Right-wing conservatives like Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh are now out calling Judge Sonia Sotomayor a "racist."[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/28/art.gingrich052809.gi.jpg caption="Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is among several prominent Republicans who have called Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor a 'racist.'"]

They are pointing to comments that the Supreme Court nominee made in 2001, when she said, "a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.".

Gingrich goes so far as to say that a white racist male nominee would be forced to withdraw and so, too, should a racist Latina.

The White House is pushing back, saying it's important for anyone in this debate to be "exceedingly careful" in how they describe different aspects of the confirmation process. And Hispanic leaders warn that critics risk alienating Latinos if they appear to be judging Sotomayor before she can even defend herself; nominees traditionally don't say anything publicly ahead of their confirmation hearings.

As Ed Rollins writes on CNN.com, the battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party has now spilled over into this Supreme Court confirmation debate. He says critics who have been unable to attack President Obama think they can smear him with his court pick. But Rollins says there can be no debate over Sotomayor's qualifications, and warns Republicans that this confirmation "is not the battle to be waged and it won't be won."

Here’s my question to you: Does it hurt the GOP when Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh call Judge Sonia Sotomayor a "racist"?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Newt Gingrich • Rush Limbaugh • Sonia Sotomayor
May 28th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

National sales tax the answer to reducing deficits, paying for health care?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The idea of a national sales tax as a way to reduce deficits - which could total $4 trillion over the next 5 years - and pay for health care seems to be picking up steam.[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/28/art.manillavat.gi.jpg caption="Protestors in Manilla show anti-VAT signs in 2006. A value-added tax may be gaining traction with lawmakers in the U.S."]

The Washington Post reports that some lawmakers and experts suggest such a tax is one of the only ways to right our financial ship. A "Value Added Tax" or VAT is a tax on the transfer of goods and services - that would include everything from a gallon of milk to a visit with a lawyer. This kind of tax is used in more than 130 countries, and ranges from 5% in Japan to 25% in Hungary and parts of Scandinavia.

One downside is that a national sales tax would fall more heavily on the poor, but supporters say that could be offset by using the proceeds to pay for health care for every American.

Other potential advantages are that this kind of tax is hard to dodge and it punishes spending rather than saving, which the Obama administration wants to encourage. Also, some economists say the threat of a VAT could help pull the country out of a recession sooner by making consumers spend before the tax hits. Depending on what percentage the VAT tax would be, it could exempt millions of Americans from paying income tax and lower the top income bracket for wealthier people.

Top government officials from Former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker to the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee have expressed interest in exploring the idea.

Here’s my question to you: Is a national sales tax the answer to reducing deficits and paying for health care reform?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Health care • National Sales Tax