February 5th, 2010
10:06 PM ET
February 5th, 2010
08:41 PM ET
February 5th, 2010
07:00 PM ET

Taxing basics like food to fill local budget shortfalls?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Phoenix, Arizona has approved a two percent sales tax on food. The city has a $240 million budget shortfall. So instead of laying off city workers, they have decided to tax people on what they eat. This is getting ridiculous.

It's estimated the tax on everything from milk to meat to vegetables will bring in tens of millions of dollars a year.

The tax is scheduled to last five years. The mayor says the city council could reverse its decision after hearing from the public in upcoming budget meetings.

Phoenix had been at risk of cutting close to 1,400 jobs - including 500 police and firefighters - along with closing libraries, senior centers and after-school programs.

Supporters of the tax say it's critical to keep emergency responders on the streets; and it can mean the difference between life and death. You could make the argument that eating also means the difference between life and death.

Guess who gets hit the hardest with a tax on food? The working poor, seniors and others on fixed incomes.

This tax will cause even more pain for the people of Phoenix during an already difficult economic time. Grocery shop owners worry what the food tax might do to their bottom line.

There's already an 8.3 percent sales tax on non-food items at grocery stores; and two percent of that goes to the city. But Phoenix wants more...

Here’s my question to you: Is taxing a basic necessity like food the answer to filling local budget shortfalls?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Food Prices • Tax Hike • Taxes
February 5th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

36% of Americans have a positive view of socialism

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Socialism may be tossed around like a dirty word these days, but it turns out more than one-third of Americans have a positive image of socialism.
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A new Gallup poll shows 36 percent of those surveyed have a positive view of socialism, while 58 percent have a negative opinion.

No surprise that there is a big partisan gap here - most Democrats and liberals have a positive view of socialism, compared to the negative image held by most Republicans and conservatives.

The poll also shows Americans are very positive in their reactions to these terms:

  • Small Business
  • Free Enterprise
  • Entrepreneurs

While they are divided on the terms:

  • Federal Government
  • Big Business

As for capitalism, Americans respond more positively than negatively - by almost two to one - 61 to 33 percent.

But out of all the items in this poll, socialism has the lowest positive rating and the highest negative rating - yet like we said, that positive view still tops one-third, which is significant.

In recent months - some of the president's critics have taken to calling him a socialist.

They point to some of Mr. Obama's policies, including what they call a government takeover of health care, as proof.

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean if 36 percent of Americans have a positive view of socialism?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Social Issues • United States • US Government
February 5th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

How to handle gov't squandering Social Security surplus?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

First it was the banks and car companies... and now it looks like Social Security is the next in line for a taxpayer bailout.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/05/art.soc.sec.jpg caption="A man dressed as a Social Security card demonstrates in front of the Capitol Building."]
Fortune Magazine's Allan Sloan writes that for the first time in 25 years - Social Security is taking in less than it's spending on benefits.

That's because For decades - the government has been using the surpluses from the nation's largest social program to pay for other things; and now Social Security is running out of money and pretty much consists of IOUs.

Sloan points out that no one has officially announced that Social Security will be cash-negative this year; but it becomes clear pretty quickly when looking at a report from the Congressional Budget Office.

This is outrageous - another bailout looming on the horizon because the government mismanaged these surpluses. And because there's no surplus, there's no interest income - tens of billions of dollars that are nothing more than a bookkeeping entry because the cash, which would earn that interest, is gone. replaced by IOUs.

Things haven't been so bleak for the government trust fund since the early 80s - when it came very close to running out of money. Back then, the government wound up trimming benefits and raising taxes - which led to the significant cash surpluses.

Meanwhile Social Security already provides more than half the income for most retirees; and with millions of people seeing their home values and stock portfolios slashed, this probably means they'll become even more dependent on social security in the future.

Here’s my question to you: What should be done about the government squandering the Social Security surplus?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Government • Social Security