February 2nd, 2010
07:00 PM ET

How has definition of 'middle class American' changed?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The middle class in this country isn't what it used to be.
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Since the end of World War II, middle class America has always meant a certain kind of security. If you got a good education and worked hard, there was the promise of success - being able to provide for your family, buy a home, educate your children; and enjoy a comfortable retirement. There was also the belief that each new generation would have it better than their parents' generation did.

Well - that's not the case anymore... and it might never be again.

Since the start of the economic downturn, it's estimated that more than seven million Americans have lost their jobs - and a lot of those jobs went overseas never to return.

The national unemployment rate is 10-percent, but jumps to a whopping 17-percent when you include those who are underemployed. The nation's jobless rate is expected to remain higher than normal for a long time.

As for the great American dream of owning a home... in the wake of the housing crisis, More than two million families have lost their homes to foreclosure in the past few years.

Consumer spending is down; and the new reality might be that it stays that way. Americans are paying more and more for the basics - food, health care and education. It's becoming increasingly difficult for many who used to consider themselves "middle class" just to make ends meet.

Here’s my question to you: How has the definition of "middle class American" changed?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: United States
February 2nd, 2010
06:00 PM ET

What role should abstinence-only sex ed play?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Abstinence-only education might just work.

A landmark, federally-funded study shows the first clear evidence that these programs can persuade teens to put off having sex.
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This could have huge implications on the national debate over lowering teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

The study - which appears in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine - shows 33 percent of sixth and seventh graders who took an abstinence-only program started having sex within two years.... that's compared to 52 percent who were taught only about safe sex... and - 42 percent who learned about both safe sex and abstinence.

The Obama administration had cut out more than $170 million in annual federal funding for abstinence programs... and instead put more than $100 million toward other types of sex ed programs.

But based on these new findings - officials suggest similar abstinence programs could be eligible for government dollars.

Some call this abstinence research "game- changing"... that it comes after years of getting a bad rap.

But critics say the curriculum in this study isn't a good example of abstinence-only programs. They say the class studied didn't take a moral tone. It encouraged teens to wait to have sex until they're ready - not until they're married; and it didn't disapprove of condom use.

One researcher says the take-away is the best solution to fight this problem is to use a wide range of programs.

The results of this study come just a week after another report showing that after a decade of declining teen pregnancies... the rate is going up again among all racial and ethnic groups.

Here’s my question to you: What role should abstinence-only sex education play in preventing teen pregnancy?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Education
February 2nd, 2010
05:00 PM ET

How would repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' affect military?


Defense Secretary Robert Gates (L) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen (R) participate in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. The committee is reviewing the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It could be the biggest shake-up to the military since the integration of the armed services under Pres. Truman back in 1948.

Pres. Obama is calling for a repeal of the controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy - which bars gays from serving openly... and prevents the military from asking them about it. Congress would need to approve Pres. obama's request.

And just hours ago - the military's top uniformed officer appeared before Congress to support openly gay members serving. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, says it's a matter of integrity and that it is wrong to force people to "lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens."

The military is set to begin a year-long study into how "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" can be repealed without causing major problems in the service.

But Critics say it's a bad idea to change this policy while the U.S. is engaged in two wars and faces the ongoing threat of terrorism. Republican Sen. John McCain says he's quote "deeply disappointed"... and while the policy hasn't been ideal, it has been "effective."

Meanwhile - a poll from late 2008 suggests more than 80 percent of Americans believe openly gay people should be allowed to serve.

It's estimated that more than 13,000 people have been discharged from the military under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" since it was implemented in 1993 - this includes dozens service members who can speak Arabic - a highly-prized skill with the U.S. fighting wars in the middle east.

Here’s my question to you: How would the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" affect the military?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: U.S. Army • US Military