December 8th, 2010
06:44 PM ET

Do you feel poor?

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FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

With gasoline expected to reach $3 a gallon soon and unemployment stuck at just under 10% - not to mention the added expenses of the holiday season - it's easy to see why many Americans are feeling strapped for cash these days.

But in a piece called "Are Americans as Poor as They Feel?", Businessweek.com takes a look at the cost of living today versus 30 years ago.

They find that a lot of things aren't as expensive as we think, and that many items actually cost less in relative terms today than in 1980.

For starters, the piece suggests nominal income has increased more than overall consumer prices. Also, the price of many daily expenses – things like food and even energy – increased at a slower pace than overall consumer prices.

On the other hand, the cost of some bigger ticket items – things like education and health care – have more than doubled. We're talking big bucks, when it comes to college tuitions and health insurance.

Researchers have also found that compared with the 1970s, more families now have two full-time incomes. But, this change in lifestyle has added new costs – things like a second car and day care.

In fact, after an average two-income family makes its monthly payments, it can now have less money left over... even though both the husband and wife are working.

Finally, there are additional costs today that people didn't have to account for decades ago – including buying computers and software, Internet and cell phone service.

Here’s my question to you: Do you feel poor?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Economy
December 8th, 2010
05:45 PM ET

Tax cut deal damage Pres. Obama's reelection chances?


FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

By making the tax cut deal with Republicans this week, President Obama may be sealing his own fate in 2012.

Some Democrats say that agreeing to extend all of the Bush-era tax cuts – even for the wealthiest Americans – will cripple the president's chances of being re-elected.

For starters, the president has angered the Democratic base. The left wing of the Democratic Party is furious that he's refused to fight the GOP. Some think it would have been better to let all of the tax cuts expire rather than to roll over for the Republicans.

And, many Democratic lawmakers say they're shocked at the size and price tag of this deal. Some estimates top $900 billion. So much for deficit reduction.

Plus, by agreeing to a two-year extension, it guarantees that the debate over the Bush tax cuts will be raging once again just in time for the 2012 presidential campaign.

If the economy improves, the Democrats will be in a better position to argue for ending the tax cuts for wealthy Americans. However, that's a big gamble.

Speaking of gambling, the Daily Beast has a piece called "Obama's Lousy Bluffing Skills," in which they examine the president's poker habits and how they may have predicted his negotiating style.

Obama's former poker buddies describe him as a "very cautious" and "conservative" player who rarely won, or lost, big.

They say the president wasn't much of a bluffer and didn't call opponents on a bluff unless he had a strong hand.

Interesting when you consider poker is all about reading people and showing strength in order to get a desired outcome.

Here’s my question to you: Did President Obama damage his reelection chances by making the tax cut deal with Republicans?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: 2012 Election • President Barack Obama • Republicans • Taxes
December 7th, 2010
04:06 PM ET

Lowest pay raise for military in nearly 50 years?


FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As our government plans to extend tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans, they're also proposing the lowest pay raise for the military in almost 50 years.

You heard right. As our servicemen and women return to the battlefield for their third or fourth tours of duty, the people who represent us think it's a good time to cut corners there. Extend tax breaks for millionaires and the middle finger for the armed forces.

The Obama administration has proposed a 1.4 percent pay raise for the military in 2011 – the lowest since 1962, when they got no raise.

The administration claims a 1.4 percent raise would match the average for the private sector, and they say it's on top of other increases in housing and food subsidies.

But many in the military aren't buying it. And it's easy to see where they're coming from when rich Americans will be saving billions in tax breaks.

One Marine Corps sergeant who just got back from his fourth deployment in Afghanistan calls it "absolute garbage."

He asks USA Today how the government can bail out the auto industry and other major corporations, yet not give a larger pay raise to those putting their lives on the line for the U.S.

Some senators want to give bonuses to troops doing the most fighting. And an organization representing 32 military groups is pushing for a 1.9 percent pay raise.

It's estimated that an increase from 1.4 to 1.9 percent would cost taxpayers $350 million next year – compare that to the tax break deal which some say will cost $900 billion.

Here’s my question to you: In light of the economy, do members of the military deserve the lowest pay raise in nearly 50 years?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Afghanistan • Economy • Iraq • United States Military • US Military • War in Iraq
December 1st, 2010
04:23 PM ET

Anyone serious about tackling deepening financial crisis?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

If someone in Washington doesn't wake up and do something meaningful about America's deepening financial crisis, it could be the end of the road for this once great nation.

It's been clear for some time that we can't continue in the direction we are headed, yet Washington just sits on its collective hands: our lawmakers keep spending money they don't have, while refusing to make any serious cuts.

Take a look at where we are today:

  • For starters, the deficit commission that's supposed to come up with some solutions has issued its final report... but has pushed back its crucial vote until friday.
  • After promising to ban earmarks, the Senate voted not to - typical. These people are strangers to the truth.
  • Nothing yet from Congress on the Bush tax cuts - as we hurtle toward the biggest tax increase in American history on January 1. Meanwhile, polls show an overwhelming majority of Americans want at least some of them extended.
  • Unemployment benefits start expiring today for two million Americans - since the senate failed to renew them. If people can't find jobs... what happens to them now?
  • President Obama wants to freeze federal wages for two years, but he says nothing about reducing the size of government.
  • The States face a collective $41 billion budget gap.
  • As the war in Afghanistan drags on, it's looking like Korea or Iran could be next up. where's the money for that going to come from if it happens?

For all these reasons and more - the national debt now tops $13 trillion... some estimate it's growing at the staggering rate of five billion dollars a day.

Here’s my question to you: Is anyone serious about tackling the nation's deepening financial crisis?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Uncategorized
December 1st, 2010
04:22 PM ET

Why won't Congressman Charlie Rangel just go away?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The case of New York Congressman Charlie Rangel is bordering on pathetic.
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After being found guilty of 11 ethics violations after a two-year investigation, the full House is set to vote on censuring the New York Democrat on Thursday. It's sort of sad really.

The Ethics Committee overwhelmingly recommended censure last month, which is the harshest punishment short of expulsion.

The 80-year-old Rangel is asking the House for the lesser penalty of a reprimand. Rangel claims that censure should only be used in cases where corruption was proved.

There was a time before the guilty verdict that Rangel could have simply walked away with his reputation intact. But apparently his monumental ego wouldn't allow it. Now it's too late. By continuing to whine publicly about his treatment, Rangel, who has served in Congress for 40 years, diminishes himself.

He came out of the Korean War a decorated combat veteran, was elected to Congress and has remained there for 20 terms. In fact, he was just re-elected in spite of the ethics cloud hanging over him.

Among other things, Rangel was found guilty of not paying taxes for 17 years on his rental home in the Dominican Republic, failing to report assets for a decade, misusing a rent-stabilized Harlem apartment as a campaign office and misusing congressional resources to raise money for a college center named after him.

Rangel has apologized for what he calls honest mistakes and wrote his behavior off to "sloppiness." The House Ethics Committee found otherwise.

The ethics scandal cost Rangel the chairmanship of the powerful Ways and Means Committee and more than $2 million in legal fees.

Here's my question to you: Why won't Congressman Charlie Rangel just go away?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Congress
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