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January 6th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

House GOP breaking promises after only one day?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

That didn't take very long, did it? Republicans have officially been in control of the House of Representatives for a day now, and they're already backpedaling on some of the promises of transparency they made during the campaign.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/01/06/art.swear.in.jpg caption="Members of the 112th Congress are sworn into office on January 5, 2011 in Washington, DC."]
For starters, Republicans promised all bills would go through a regular committee process. Not exactly.

Wouldn't you know that the bill to repeal the health care law won't go through a single committee?

Republicans say it's because the committees haven't been fully formed yet and they want to move quickly. They also insist the repeal bill will be "a very straightforward document," whatever that means.

When Democrats were in charge, Republicans complained they didn't allow unlimited amendments and debate on a single bill. So they promised a more open amendment process for bills. Not exactly. With the bill to repeal health care reform, there will be practically no amendments.

You have to give the Republicans credit. It's not easy to break this many promises in a single day. House Republicans said they wanted to publish committee attendance lists - you know, so the people who elect them could see who was actually showing up for work.

That one never had a chance. They claim it wouldn't work since multiple committee hearings can happen at the same time.

Lastly, the Republicans had said they would include a constitutional justification with every bill. Not happening either.

All this comes after we learned that the estimate for how much the GOP would shave off the budget is now about half what it was in their "Pledge with America." So apparently that was a lie, too.

The more things change in Washington, the more they stay the same.

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean if House Republicans are breaking promises after only one day?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: GOP • House of Representatives • Republicans
January 5th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Your financial resolutions for the new year?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Instead of the more traditional New Year's resolutions to lose weight or hit the gym, how about getting your financial house in order in 2011?
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According to one recent survey, a whopping 70% of consumers say their top financial resolution is to decrease their debt. That's followed by improving their credit score, relying less on credit cards and saving more.

USA Today takes a look at five easy financial resolutions that could save you big money.

  • Order your free credit reports. This is especially important because a damaged credit report can hurt your ability to get a job.
  • Get a medical exam. Preventive health care can help your doctor identify medical problems before they become serious, thus reducing future health care costs. Thanks to changes in Medicare and the new health care law, millions of Americans can now get free physicals.
  • Update beneficiaries on your insurance policies, pensions and retirement plans. Experts say people often forget to do this and if they unexpectedly die, the money doesn't go where they want it to.
  • Increase your 401(k) contributions. Many workers reduced their retirement savings during the economic downturn, when companies froze matching contributions. But many of these companies are starting to match again.
  • Re-balance your 401(k) portfolio. Financial advisers recommend reviewing your investment portfolio at least once a year. Ignoring the changes in the market can cost you a lot of money.

Here’s my question to you: What are your financial resolutions for the new year?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Money • Personal Finances
January 5th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Moderate Senate Democrats already looking ahead to 2012?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As the new Congress convenes today, the next election in 2012 already looms as a possible impediment to the Democrats' Senate majority.

Politico reports that several moderate Democratic Senators up for re-election in two years will be more likely to buck their own party in order to save their seats.

And it's already started. During the lame duck session of Congress, when Harry Reid tried to prevent an extension of the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy, three moderate Democrats defected. When the Republicans proposed deep spending cuts, two more Democrats joined them. And yet another moderate jumped ship when Reid pushed through President Obama's tax compromise.

In all, 21 Senate Democrats - plus two Independents who caucus with them - will be up for re-election in 2012.

You can bet these Democrats are well aware of the "shellacking" their party took in the midterms; and they don't want to be the next casualty. As Senator Claire McCaskill - who is up for re-election herself - puts it: "If you're in re-elect mode, there's a tendency around here just to hide under a chair instead of making the tough calls."

Meanwhile Republicans are worried that Senate Democrats may try to eliminate the use of the filibuster now that they have a smaller majority of 53 seats. Some Democrats are proposing a rule change that would require only a simple majority of 51 votes - instead of 60 votes - to break a filibuster.

The GOP calls this a "naked partisan power grab."

Here’s my question to you: How effective can Senate Democrats be if some moderate members are already looking ahead to 2012?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: 2012 Election • Democrats • Senate
January 4th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Should children have the right to vote?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As things in Washington go from bad to worse, here's an idea that could really shake up the way politics is done in this country: Let children vote.
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It may not be as crazy an idea as it first sounds.

Politico.com has a piece about a recent report in the Economist on the problem of Japan's aging population.

The median age of the voting population in Japan will soon be 65. This gives older voters a huge amount of political power - and means it's highly unlikely they'll support cuts in entitlement programs. Sound familiar?

The United States is facing a similar problem: As baby boomers age, entitlement spending is taking up a larger and larger portion of our budget - and growing our deficit exponentially.

Well, one expert who wrote to the Economist suggests an answer to this dilemma is to let kids vote. In practical terms, this would mean giving parents an extra vote for every child.

This would take away some of the voting power from seniors in the United States, who traditionally vote in large numbers. It also could give the future generation, which will have to pay off our massive debt, a say in the decisions being made today.

However, it would also put the responsibility on parents to use those votes in the best interest of their kids.

During the Vietnam War, when young Americans were fighting and dying for their country, the voting age was lowered to 18.

Now that the country is starting to die under the weight of its debt, maybe it's time to lower the voting age again.

Here’s my question to you: Should children have the right to vote?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

January 4th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

States deny citizenship to children born of illegal immigrants?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

14 states are considering passing laws that would deny citizenship to children born of illegal immigrants in the United States.

Arizona - ever at the front of the immigration debate - could take the first step when it comes to the issue of "birthright citizenship."

Arizona lawmakers plan to introduce model legislation in Washington tomorrow that would force the Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue.

Lawmakers from more than a dozen other states plan to be there too - that includes everywhere from other border states like Texas to Utah, Oklahoma, Michigan, Delaware and Pennsylvania.

This all goes back to the 14th Amendment - which states that all persons "born or naturalized" in the United States are citizens of the U.S. The law was initially meant to give citizenship to freed slaves.

Those behind this new push say it wasn't meant to apply to children of foreigners. They say illegal immigrants and their children are draining taxpayer-funded services, and that they're attracting more illegal aliens to this country.

And they have a point... any of our states are drowning in budget deficits - estimated to top $140 billion in fiscal year 2012. They're making drastic cuts to all sorts of services - like education and health care, police forces, state workers, you name it...

Critics of an effort to end birthright citizenship say these attempts to take on the 14th Amendment could cost big bucks in legal challenges. They also say the issue is a federal one.

And we all know how serious the federal government is when it comes to dealing with illegal immigration.

Here’s my question to you: Should states deny citizenship to children born of illegal immigrants?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Immigration
January 3rd, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Technology replacing personal interactions at what cost?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

"The year we stopped talking to one another."

That's what USA Today dubs 2010, in light of the unprecedented use of technology.
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We are awash in technology. It's estimated that 93% of Americans now use cell phones or wireless devices. And one-third of those people are using so-called smartphones, which means the users can browse the Web and check e-mail on their phones.

According to an industry trade group, from June 2009 to June 2010, cell phone subscribers sent 1.8 trillion text messages. That was up 33% from the year before.

In other words, most of us spend our days walking around with our noses buried in our cell phones, BlackBerrys, iPhones, etc.

And while we're doing that, we're tuning out the people who are actually in the same room as us. We seem to have long ago crossed the line as to where doing this stuff is appropriate - people take calls while they're out to dinner, text or check e-mail while on a date, you name it.

Some experts say it's time to take a step back and reassess. They're reminding people that technology can be turned off, and that it's important to connect with people in person. They worry that kids won't know what it's like to share a story or actually look someone in the eyes. And that's sad.

But others point out the benefits of all this technology - staying in touch with friends and family, efficiently using time once spent doing nothing and being able to check in from anywhere.

Here’s my question to you: At what cost has technology replaced personal interactions?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: On Jack's radar • Technology
January 3rd, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Most important issue facing country in 2011?

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FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As the new Congress gets down to business this week, there's no shortage of issues waiting to be addressed.

House Republicans say they will fulfill a campaign promise and vote to repeal President Obama's health care law before he delivers his State of the Union address.

Seems like a pretty futile exercise - even if such a repeal were to pass the house, it's unlikely to go anywhere in the Senate since the Democrats still hold a slim majority there. Plus, President Obama could veto it.

Also, by focusing on health care - when much of the country is still worried about jobs - Republicans risk making the same mistake Democrats did when they plowed ahead with health care in the first place.

The GOP also has its eye on other legislation passed by the Democratic congress - like new limits on greenhouse gas emissions and the reach of entitlement programs. Some are calling for various investigations into the Obama administration...

Just what we need, tying up the Congress with investigations at a time when there are other huge issues out there - like the economy, immigration and the skyrocketing deficit. Republicans have vowed to tackle government spending, but they'll soon have to decide whether they want to raise the debt ceiling, once again, from $14.3 trillion.

Meanwhile, a majority of Americans are optimistic about the new year. A new Gallup poll shows 58 percent say 2011 will be better than 2010. 20 percent say it will be worse and 21 percent say it will be the same.

The poll suggests Democrats and young Americans are more positive than Independents, Republicans and older Americans about the coming year.

Here’s my question to you: What's the most important issue facing the country in 2011?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: United States
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