July 9th, 2009
05:53 PM ET

Releasing prisoners early a good way to save states money?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

No doubt, tough economic times call for tough decisions and some thinking outside the box.

So in an effort to relieve budget woes, the Governor of Illinois is proposing the early release of up to 10,000 prisoners. The move would reportedly save taxpayers $125 million a year and result in layoffs for 1,000 corrections employees.

It would also put thousands of convicts on the streets. But have no fear, officials say it would only be those deemed by the state as non-threatening, who have less than a year left to serve.

Critics say it's just a scheme by the Governor to scare people into supporting an increase in income tax. But Illinois isn't the only state to consider such a move. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made a similar proposal in California to save that state $180 million by releasing undocumented inmates, among others.

In the past, Mississippi, Rhode Island and Kentucky have considered such plans too, and Mississippi is actually doing it.

Critics argue that public safety isn't the place to slash the budget. Then there is also the issue of whether or not a Governor has the authority to release thousands of inmates whose sentences were imposed by a judge after they were convicted in a court of law.

Here’s my question to you: Is releasing prisoners early a good way for states to save money?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Economy • prisons
July 9th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Will voters blame Democrats for economic problems in 2010 election?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

At some point it will become President Obama and the Democrats' recession, not George W. Bush's. If the economy doesn't start to show signs of picking up, Democrats could feel the voters' anger in next year's mid-term elections.

President Obama is traveling a path not unlike the one President Ronald Reagan once traveled and, as my colleague Christine Romans points out, the Democrats could learn something from President Reagan's experience. Both Presidents were wildly popular early on, but unemployment was rising.

In the 1982 elections Reagan's Republican Party lost 26 seats and experts say the scale was tipped when unemployment hit 10-percent. President Obama currently faces a 9.5-percent unemployment rate and now says 10-percent is likely before the year is over. Renowned investor Warren Buffet said this morning on Good Morning America that unemployment could hit 11-percent.

It seems everyone knows someone who has lost their job. While the Obama Administration is busy pointing the finger at Bush, those unemployed Americans who can't find a job will likely be tempted to take it out on whoever is in power when they vote next fall. What remains to be seen is if voters are ready to start returning Republicans to power so soon after the Bush Administration.

Here’s my question to you: Will the voters blame the Democrats for our economic problems in next year's election?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Democrats • Economy • Elections • Voter Turnout
July 9th, 2009
12:55 PM ET

Should health care legislation contain billions for parks, walking paths and farmers markets?

Here’s my question to you:

It is perhaps the centerpiece of President Obama's agenda for his first term in office. Reform the nation's health care system before it bankrupts the country. It also comes with a hefty, as yet undetermined, price tag which has been estimated as high as $1 trillion.

With all of the negotiating over who should be taxed and what provisions will stay or go, the plan to provide better health care for all Americans is also adding up to billions of dollars in what's being called health infrastructure. This infrastructure includes things like walking paths, streetlights, jungle gyms and even farmers markets.

Some suggest a better name would be pork...

Advocates, including Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy, say this is all needed to promote healthier lifestyles and cut medical spending down the road with lower obesity rates, less heart disease and other health problems.

Critics, including Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi, say this is pork and these are simply public works projects in disguise that don't belong in this bill.

The way it stands, local and state governments will have to submit proposals for the projects and Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, would have the final say. Can you imagine the potential bottleneck?

This is far from a done deal. But with an eye toward next year's midterm elections, it's never too early for the folks in Congress to think about keeping their constituents happy.

Here’s my question to you: Should health care legislation contain billions of dollars for parks, walking paths and farmers markets?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Health care