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September 20th, 2010
06:55 PM ET

If your wealth threatened by rising taxes, would you move to another country?

Raising taxes on wealthy Americans could drive them right out of the country.

Raising taxes on wealthy Americans could drive them right out of the country.

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty

Raising taxes on wealthy Americans could drive them right out of the country.

In a recent letter to the Wall Street Journal, a California real estate executive wrote that although he makes more than $250,000, he doesn't consider his family wealthy. Glen Esnard says he's still paying off school loans for his three children, has no funded retirement plan except Social Security and no guarantee of permanent health care.

Yet he believes people making more than $250,000 are "vilified" and held accountable for paying for the government's runaway spending.

He writes, "Apparently our president thinks that living in America is so wonderful that we will never leave, despite being directly attacked... He should think again."

A Los Angeles Times reporter asked Esnard if he really expected wealthy Americans to consider leaving the U-S because their tax rate would rise from 35 percent to 39.6 percent.

Esnard responded that although he's not an expert, he thinks it's a real issue. And that he's received a lot of support from people who agree with him.

One possibility is Bermuda. It's a short hop from the U.S. and while you do have to battle an occasional hurricane, islanders pay no national income tax.

Meanwhile, most economists think it's a good idea to extend the Bush tax cuts for everyone, despite the president's call to let them expire for the wealthiest Americans.

CNNMoney.com polled 31 leading economists, and 18 of them said extending the tax cuts for everyone is the most important thing Congress can do to help the economy.

Only three backed President Obama's plan to raise taxes for the wealthiest Americans.

Here’s my question to you: If your wealth was threatened by rising taxes, would you consider moving to another country?

Interested to see which ones made it to air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Taxes
September 20th, 2010
03:33 PM ET

Will your health care costs rise under Pres. Obama's new law?

In some states, health care costs are increasing, in spite of new laws aimed at cutting costs.

In some states, health care costs are increasing, in spite of new laws aimed at cutting costs.

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Democratic candidates up for election are spending three times more advertising against President Obama's health care law than they are for it.

The president told Americans over and over again during the heated health care debate reform would mean lower health care costs. But so far, the opposite is happening.

Let's start with California, where regulators have now cleared all four of the state's major insurers for rate hikes. These four companies control 90 percent of California's individual health insurance policies.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Aetna was the last company to be approved, with rate hikes averaging 19 percent.

The company is defending the rate, saying they're necessary to keep up with rising health care costs – like hospital care, prescription drugs and doctor's visits.

They say the maximum increase for some of its members will be 30 percent. Thirty percent! Some policy holders are rightfully worried that they soon won't be able to afford health insurance.

Meanwhile, in Connecticut, regulators have approved rate hikes of more than 20 percent for the state's largest health insurer, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield

The Hartford Courant reports increases will vary depending on the plan, but costs will go up due to rising medical costs and the benefits from health care reform. This includes things like covering young adults until they turn 26 and covering the full cost of preventive care like mammograms and colonoscopies.

These rate changes mostly affect new customers buying individual plans, not those who are already insured through an employer.

Here’s my question to you: Do you think your health care costs will rise under Pres. Obama's new health care law?

Interested to know which ones made it to air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Health care
September 16th, 2010
05:35 PM ET

What message if Reid loses to Tea Party candidate?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

In the wake of the Tea Party's primary successes, suddenly the game has changed.

The marquee match-up going into November is in Nevada, where the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, Harry Reid, is trailing Republican Sharron Angle - who's backed by many in the Tea Party.

A new poll of likely voters in Nevada shows Angle and Reid tied, but with Angle leading among the crucial Independent voters by seven points.

Sharron Angle says controversial stuff - like calls to "phase out" Social Security and Medicare; and eliminate the IRS and the Department of Education.

Doesn't matter... just like in Delaware it didn't matter that Tea Partier Christine O'Donnell has a history of financial problems and has used her views on abstinence to rule out masturbation.

One of the reasons Harry Reid is in big trouble is he was President Obama's water carrier on such controversial legislation as the health care plan. Most people didn't want it - but thanks to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi we got it anyway.

If there's a single race anywhere in the country that will set the Tea Party up for a legitimate place on the stage in the drama that will be the presidential race of 2012... it's the defeat of the Senate Majority Leader. How will the Democrats explain it if Reid loses?

Midterm elections traditionally are a bit of a yawn, but you may want to get your tickets early for this year's because my hunch is it will quickly turn into standing room only.

Here’s my question to you: What message would it send if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid loses to a Tea Party candidate?

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: Harry Reid • Tea Party
September 16th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

Stuck in a recession that won't end soon?

ALT TEXT

(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Most Americans think the U.S. is stuck in a recession and they don't think the economy will improve any time soon. A new USA Today/Gallup Poll shows 82 percent of those surveyed say the economy is still in a recession.

54 percent expect things to be the same or worse in a year. That number is up sharply from 35 percent who felt that way last year.

While 45 percent say the economy will be better or fully recovered in a year, that number is down from 65 percent last year.

The poll shows Americans' negativity about the economy has grown; with Republicans, Independents and Democrats all sounding more pessimistic about the future of the economy than they were one year ago.

And you don't have to look far for reasons. Although the economy has posted four consecutive quarters of growth - that growth has been sluggish and inconsistent and weak.

Then there's continuing high unemployment - close to 10 percent - along with soaring underemployment. And, as we told you yesterday in the Cafferty File - poverty is now reaching record levels not seen in decades in this country.

All this goes to show why Americans see the economy as the most important problem facing the country... and the most important issue to their vote.

No doubt President Obama and the Democrats face an uphill battle in proving to the voters - ahead of the midterms - that the billions of dollars spent to help jump start the economy are actually doing that.

Here’s my question to you: Are we stuck in a recession that won’t end any time soon?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm 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: Recession
September 15th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

How will record U.S. poverty levels impact midterm elections?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It's not like the Democrats don't have enough problems headed into the midterm elections.

A couple applies for food stamps after being evicted from their home following job loss. They then moved into a motel with their three children.

A couple applies for food stamps after being evicted from their home following job loss. They then moved into a motel with their three children.

Now comes word that the number of people in the U.S. who are in poverty is on track for a record increase on President Obama's watch.

It's not necessarily President Obama or the Democrats' fault, and is likely the product of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. But some political damage will likely accrue to the Democrats anyway.

Census figures for 2009 are out soon, and it's expected the poverty rate will have increased from 13.2 percent to 15 percent of our population. That translates to 45 million people - or one in every seven - being poor.

It would be the highest increase in poverty since the government began keeping records in 1959.

Among working people aged 18 to 64, poverty is expected to have increased from 11.7 percent to 12.4 percent.

That would be the highest since 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson launched the war on poverty, which greatly expanded the federal government's role in social welfare programs from education to health care.

Here’s my question to you: How will record levels of poverty in the U.S. impact the midterm elections?

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: Elections
September 15th, 2010
04:45 PM ET

Is the Tea Party for real?

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Tea Party backed Christine O'Donnell. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Tea Party movement might just be the best thing that ever happened to the Democrats - raising questions about internal divisions among Republicans.

Two Tea Party favorites defeated more mainstream Republicans in yesterday's primaries. In Delaware, Christine O'Donnell easily won over nine-time U.S. Rep. Mike Castle in the Senate primary.

Castle, who held elected office in Delaware for more than 40 years, had the entire national GOP establishment behind him while O'Donnell was endorsed by Sarah Palin.

Many believe O'Donnell's win means the Democrats now have an unexpected chance to keep the Delaware Senate seat once held by Vice President Joe Biden. One Republican strategist described the Delaware primary results as "straight out of Harry Reid's dream journal."

Meanwhile, another Tea Party victory came in New York, where Carl Paladino beat Rick Lazio in the primary for governor. Paladino will run against the heavily favored Democrat, Andrew Cuomo.

Although some question the ability of Tea Party candidates to win in the general election, others insist it is one of the most powerful movements in recent American history.

A piece in the Washington Examiner headlined "One nation under revolt" says that while many have ignored or belittled the Tea Party, it has only grown stronger - showing an unprecedented level of activism and enthusiasm.

And here's part of the reason for the Tea Party's success: a new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll shows only one in four Americans say they trust the government to do what is right always or most of the time.

Here’s my question to you: Is the Tea Party for real?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm 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: Elections • Republican Party • Republicans • Tea Party
September 14th, 2010
04:41 PM ET

Should Congress adjourn early when they haven't passed a budget?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Our lawmakers ought to be ashamed of themselves:

A 2009 file photo of the National Debt Clock. That number now stands at over $13 trillion.

A 2009 file photo of the National Debt Clock. That number now stands at over $13 trillion.

They've yet to pass a federal budget, but some in Congress still think it's a good idea to leave town early to go home and campaign for the upcoming midterm elections. You know - go home and tell the folks what a great job they're doing.

The new fiscal year starts on October 1, and there are no signs Congress will have a new budget in place by then. This is inexcusable. Our national debt now tops $13 trillion. Annual deficits are running at more than $1 trillion. And without a budget it is impossible to have any idea what the hell the government is doing with our money. Our money.

In place of a budget, Congress usually passes what are called "continuing resolutions" for a month or two at a time. This prevents the federal government from shutting down. At this rate, Congress might not finalize a budget until after January - when the new Congress is sworn in. Four months from now.

So far, neither the House nor the Senate has even passed a formal budget resolution - which usually happens in the spring - last spring.

It's not to tough to figure out why there's no budget. Congress doesn't want to vote on a budget that could mean tough spending cuts right before an election. Heaven forbid. In other words, they are cowards.

But, no matter. Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the so-called House leaders are thinking about adjourning October 1 - a week earlier than scheduled - so they can go campaign for re-election. It's just disgraceful.

Here’s my question to you: Should Congress consider adjourning early to campaign when they haven't passed a federal budget?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm 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: Congress • Economy • National debt
September 14th, 2010
04:16 PM ET

Obama admin. implementing a backdoor amnesty plan?

ALT TEXT

A Mexican immigrant detainee (L) holds hands with his wife and son during a family visitation at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility for illegal immigrants in Florence, Arizona. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

If the following doesn't amount to a back door amnesty plan for millions of illegal aliens, I don't know what does.

The federal government, which has long ignored our nation's immigration laws, choosing instead to sue states like Arizona which are overrun with illegal aliens, is changing its strategy.

They're focusing more on illegal immigrants who have committed serious crimes - which makes sense. But by doing so the threat of deportation for millions of others who are in the U.S. illegally is reduced.

USA Today outlines some of the recent changes... including a proposal that would prohibit police from using misdemeanor traffic stops to send people to immigration officials.

The administration is also looking for ways to allow college students and spouses of military personnel to legalize their status or avoid deportation... if Congress doesn't pass immigration reform.

Critics say these measures show the government is "thumbing its nose at the law" and some suggest the Obama administration is trying to create a kind of backdoor amnesty program.

Immigration advocates are also not happy. They say deportations are at record highs and immigrants who stay in the U.S. are living in limbo - without any form of legal status.

With a record backlog of deportation cases and lacking an unlimited budget - the government says it makes sense to target people who pose the biggest threat to public safety.

Meanwhile it should come as no surprise that more than 20 states are now considering immigration laws like the one passed in Arizona. The public has had a bellyful of the government's impotence on this issue, and some states are trying to protect themselves.

Here’s my question to you: Is the Obama administration implementing a backdoor amnesty plan?

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: Obama Administration
September 13th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Should Rangel, Waters ethics trials be postponed until after elections?

ALT TEXT

FILE PHOTO: Maxine Waters [LEFT] (D-CA) speaks as Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), and Rep. Charles Rangel [RIGHT] (D-NY) listen during a news conference on Capitol Hill (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As long as we keep re-electing the same vermin, this is the kind of garbage we get that passes for government.

The Hill newspaper reports that watchdog groups expect the ethics trials for Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel and Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters to be delayed until - you guessed it - after the November election.

One group suggests that holding ethics hearings right before the midterms "overly politicizes" the ethics process.

But what about the voters? Don't they have a right to know whether or not their lawmakers are guilty of ethics charges before voting for or against them?

The way it works is the ethics committee must provide the member charged with all the evidence it plans to present in a trial - at least 15 days before the trial starts. So even if the committee gave Rangel and Waters their evidence this week, the trials couldn't start until the beginning of October... right around when Congress will likely leave town - again - to go home and campaign.

Meanwhile, the ethics panel investigated Rangel for almost two years before accusing him of several violations... including not paying taxes on a Dominican Republican villa and improperly using his office to raise millions of dollars for an education center named after him.

Two years!

Waters is accused of using her position to help a bank - where her husband owns stock - win millions of dollars in federal bailout funds.

Both lawmakers insist they are innocent and will fight the charges in a public trial. Waters has already won her primary in California and doesn't face a serious challenge in the general election. Rangel still needs to win tomorrow's primary here in New York.

Here’s my question to you: Should the ethics trials of Reps. Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters be postponed until after the November elections?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Election Process • Elections • Ethics
September 13th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

Will health care reform become more popular like W.H. says?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Months after President Obama's health care reform became law, the White House is still hoping voters will learn to like it. This may be wishful thinking.

David Axelrod, the president’s senior adviser, said on “Meet the Press,” "I think that health care, over time, is going to become more popular," adding that right now people are focused and anxious about the economy. Unless I missed something, health care costs are part of everyone's "personal economy."

The fact is the health care issue is so unpopular with voters that not a single Democratic candidate is promoting the law in their campaign ads. A recent Wall Street Journal column asked "Who's ObamaCare's Daddy?" It suggested that even liberals are now denying paternity of the law.

Some Republicans are vowing to repeal it if they gain control of Congress.

And it's not hard to find reasons why the president's signature issue is unpopular. During the long health care debate, the president told voters over and over the law would bring down rising health care costs and save them money.

So far, that's not happening. An analysis from Medicare shows health care costs will increase through 2019 as a result of the law.

Last week at his news conference, Obama seemed to back off a bit from his earlier claims, saying he never expected to extend insurance coverage to 31 million people "for free." The White House insists that over the long term costs will go down. But apparently not until costs go up some more.

Here’s my question to you: The White House says health care reform will become more popular. Do you agree?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Health care • White House
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