October 8th, 2009
05:55 PM ET

Limiting how long people can collect unemployment?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Senate Democrats now say they've reached a deal to extend unemployment benefits to almost two million Americans who could stop getting checks by the end of this year.

The plan would give an extra 14 weeks of benefits to unemployed people in all 50 states. Those in states with unemployment rates above 8.5 percent would get another six weeks on top of that.

Senate Democrats may bring the measure to a floor vote as soon as tonight. The House passed its own bill last month that would extend benefits for people only in states with unemployment above 8.5 percent.

The bills would be paid for by extending a tax on employers for another two years... so that all these extra benefit payments don't wind up adding to the deficit. Instead the money will come from the people we are counting on to create the new jobs, employers. Makes no sense.

And time is of the essence here - more than 400,000 Americans ran out of their unemployment benefits in September.

Benefits vary from state to state… starting at 26 weeks and going up to 79 weeks in those hit hardest by the recession. The average payment is about $300 a week.

The national employment rate hit 9.8 percent last month. That's a 26 year high. And it's expected to go higher into next year - even as the economy starts to recover. Estimates are there are now six workers for every available job opening.

Here’s my question to you: Should there be a limit on how long people can collect unemployment benefits?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Unemployment
October 8th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Why do House Democrats still support Charlie Rangel?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Yesterday it was Republican Senator John Ensign... today, we have a worm from the other side of the aisle: Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel. Republicans tried unsuccessfully once again to remove Rangel from the chairmanship of the powerful Ways and Means Committee. They introduced a motion that would have forced him to step down during the ongoing ethics investigation into his finances and other activities.

U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY)

But House Democrats wouldn't hear of it. They effectively killed the resolution - by voting to shut down the debate and send it to the House Ethics Committee - where the matter has already sat for a year. The phrase, "House Ethics Committee" is an oxymoron.

Rangel has been under investigation for lots of reasons: hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of assets that he allegedly didn't claim on financial disclosure forms. He has admitted not paying taxes on $75,000 in income from a rental property he owns in the Dominican Republic. And - he's accused of breaking New York City laws by keeping several rent-controlled apartments - including one he used for a campaign office. There's more… I just don't have time to list it all.

But despite it all... this weasel remains the head of the powerful House committee that writes our tax law. And judging by the actions of his fellow Democrats yesterday, it's all just fine with them. What it is is disgusting.

Charlie Rangel says he's the victim of a smear campaign by some in the media. He whines that other chairmen usually get to keep their leadership posts when under ethics investigations.

Here’s my question to you: Why do House Democrats continue to support Ways and Means Committee chairman Charlie Rangel?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Democrats • House of Representatives
October 8th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Post health care bill online 72 hours before Congress votes?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

In an attempt to make sure health care reform doesn't get rammed through Congress with little debate - a group of Senate Republicans has introduced a resolution requiring all bills be made public for at least 72 hours before a vote.

Not a bad idea. Since many in Congress don't read the bills before voting, maybe somebody should.

Over in the House, a group of more than 180 - mostly Republicans - is circulating a petition also requiring all bills to be posted online for three days. They're demanding the Democratic leadership schedule a vote on this. No vote so far, although Speaker Nancy Pelosi has pledged to post the final health care bill online 72 hours before the last vote.

But it's not just Republicans pushing for more transparency. A group of centrist Senate Democrats sent a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid this week saying "every step of the process needs to be transparent" - they also asked for three days for the public to look at this stuff on the internet.

There's also an online campaign called Read the Bill along with a group called Read to Vote that's collected more than 80,000 signatures asking lawmakers to promise to read every page of every bill before voting. That'll happen...

Democratic Congressman Brian Baird of Washington put it this way, "there's a pattern here, the more important the bill, the more complicated it is, the less time we have to read it."

Some Democrats point out the same thing happened under Republican control. Maybe so... but it was President Obama, not Bush, who promised more transparency once he was running things. Remember?

Here’s my question to you: Should health care legislation be posted online for 72 hours before Congress votes on it?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Congress • Health care