October 21st, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Lawmakers sticking "goodies" into health care bill for constituents?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

When it comes to health care reform - it shouldn't be surprising that our lawmakers are up to their same old tricks. Bloomberg News reports that Senate Democrats are making exceptions to the health care legislation to benefit their constituents, trying to protect the people who keep them in office from measures that will actually pay for the more than $800 billion reform.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)

Let someone else's constituents pay for it - right? For example, Majority Leader Harry Reid's home state of Nevada would get help with its Medicaid bills, seniors in Florida and New York would get extra Medicare benefits, and those in high-risk professions like firefighters or construction workers would get a break on the tax on expensive insurance plans.

Republicans say these provisions should be applied equally to all 50 states; they say the exceptions will "hurt the bill and raise the level of cynicism about Washington politics."

But Democrats are anything but contrite. Reid - whose job approval rating in his own state stands at a whopping 35 percent - says, "I make absolutely no apologies - none - for helping people in my state."

The language in the Senate finance bill is also so convoluted at some points that even congressional aides say they don't know what it means...

For example - When describing Medicare changes, those eligible for extra funds include retirees in "counties where the Medicare Advantage benchmark amount in 2011 is equal to the legacy urban floor amount." Who writes this crap?

Here’s my question to you: Should lawmakers be allowed to stick "goodies" into the health care bill for their constituents?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Health care
October 21st, 2009
04:31 PM ET

Transfer Gitmo detainees to Michigan maximum security prison?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

One of the first things Barack Obama did as president was promise to close the Guantanamo Bay prison by January 2010. With three months to go, here's a suggestion: The city council of Standish, Michigan has voted unanimously for a resolution that would move forward with the idea of transferring the Gitmo detainees to Standish Maximum Correctional Facility.

U.S. troopers are pictured inside an exercise yard at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base.

The state prison is scheduled to be shut down at the end of this month due to budget cuts; and officials are worried what the closure and lost jobs could do to the local economy.

The 19-year-old prison can hold up to 600 inmates. It's surrounded by 16-foot fences that are topped with razor wire and is monitored by five gun towers that overlook the interior and provide perimeter security.

This is a large maximum-security prison in very good condition and far from a major city. Should be perfect. Standish officials hope the move could bring as many as 600 new military and civilian jobs. And they sure could use those jobs in Michigan these days.

The state's governor and both U.S. senators are open to the idea as long as security concerns are addressed. Local officials say they expect to hear from the federal government in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile - as the January deadline ticks closer... the commander of Gitmo says he could clear all 200-plus prisoners with just 10 days notice from the White House.

Here’s my question to you: Should the U.S. transfer Gitmo detainees to a Michigan maximum security prison?

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: Guantanamo Bay
October 21st, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Why are so many Americans worried Obama will try to ban gun sales?


Fearful that Obama's administration is quietly planning to introduce tough new restrictions on gun ownership and worried that the recession will trigger a crime wave, Americans are scrambling to stock up on guns and ammunition. (PHOTO CREDIT: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

A majority of gun owners think Pres. Obama wants to ban gun sales.

A new Gallup poll shows 55 percent of those who own a gun, 53 percent who have a gun in the household, and 41 percent of all Americans believe he will attempt to ban the sale of guns while he is president.

This concern is greater among Republicans and people living in the South and Midwest than among Democrats or those living on either coast.

It also helps explain the sharp increases in sales of guns and ammunition. There are reports that U.S. bullet-makers are working around the clock and still can't keep up with the demand for ammunition. Shooting ranges and gun dealers say they've never seen such shortages.

However, President Obama has never said - as a candidate or as president - that he intends to push for a ban of gun sales. The president has said that he believes in the Second Amendment and that "lawful gun owners have nothing to fear." In May, he signed a law allowing people to carry loaded guns in national parks.

Nonetheless, gun rights advocates point to Mr. Obama's record as a state legislator and U.S. senator where he "voted for the most stringent forms of gun control."

They also surely remember that famous time during the campaign when the president spoke about small town people who are bitter and "cling to guns or religion."

This is an issue that speaks to millions of Americans. The U.S. is already the most heavily armed country in the world - with about 90 guns for every 100 citizens.

Here’s my question to you: Why are so many Americans worried President Obama will try to ban gun sales?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: President Barack Obama