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February 9th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Health care law destined for scrap heap?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Except for some judges, the Republicans and some Democrats, President Barack Obama's health care reform law is very popular.

Consider this:

A top Republican says the House is likely to vote next week to block funding for the president's signature law.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says it's expected to be an amendment during House debate on cutting at least $32 billion from the government's budget.

Although it's unlikely such a measure would make it through the Democratic-controlled Senate, it could still set the stage for another partisan showdown over health care. And it's not just Republicans who are questioning the scope of the health care law.

A group of moderate Senate Democrats is considering rolling back the individual mandate that requires everyone buy health insurance.

They haven't decided yet whether they'll propose legislation; but if they do team up with Republicans on this one, it could be a major embarrassment for the president.

Many of these moderate Democrats are up for re-election next year and represent states that Obama lost in 2008.

The controversial individual mandate has also been shot down by some judges. Most recently, a Florida federal judge ruled that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and that the whole health care law should be thrown out.

This could very well set up a Supreme Court challenge over health care, not to mention the two dozen other court challenges pending across the country.

Here’s my question to you: Is President Obama's health care law destined for the scrap heap?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Health care • President Barack Obama
February 8th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Rate Obama administration's handling of Egypt?

ALT TEXT

People demonstrated in support of Egypt's uprising against President Hosni Mubarak in front of the White House earlier this week. Secretary of State Clinton called for international support for an orderly transition to democracy, warning of forces that might try to derail it. (PHOTO CREDIT: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Dealing with politics in the Middle East can be tantamount to juggling hand grenades, but some think the Obama administration is making a mess of its response to the crisis in Egypt.

The White House is sending out mixed messages.

First, President Barack Obama said Egypt's transition "must be meaningful, it must be peaceful and it must begin now," and It looked like the administration was taking steps to increase pressure on Hosni Mubarak to step aside. Well, maybe not.

Since then, Mubarak has made it clear he's not going anywhere until September. He says he needs to stick around to maintain stability.

So the administration is changing its tune. Now Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, says the process in Egypt will be "bumpy" and that "it's going to take some time to work this stuff out."

Meanwhile, the administration is undercutting its own diplomat, Frank Wisner. They sent him to Egypt to negotiate directly with Mubarak.

Upon his return, Wisner said Mubarak should stay in office - at least for now so he can hand over authority in an orderly manner. But Gibbs says Wisner doesn't speak for the administration. Gibbs says the Egyptians should decide the details of the transition.

Potential Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich calls all this back-and-forth "amateurish." Gingrich says he's concerned about the administration's handling of the situation and that it can't get on the same page as its special envoy.

Here’s my question to you: How would you rate the Obama administration's handling of the crisis in Egypt?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Egypt • Obama Administration
February 8th, 2011
04:56 PM ET

Pres. Obama get serious about deficit in his budget?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The U.S. is headed for fiscal disaster... and Washington may just watch while the ship goes down.

As President Obama gets ready to present his budget next week, it's unclear if he'll propose the tough cuts necessary to start turning things around.

We are in big trouble.

The national debt now tops $14 trillion dollars, and there's another $1.5 trillion deficit projected for this year.

And while everybody in Washington talks about cutting the deficits, no one really seems to mean it. Plus the public is partly to blame, as well. Polls show nearly 80 percent of Americans say it's more important to prevent cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid than to reduce the deficit.

So where are our leaders on this critical issue? President Obama all but ignored his own deficit commission. And the midterms caused everybody to look the other way.

Now A bipartisan group of senators is pushing to revive key elements of the commission's plan to cut deficits by $4 trillion in the next 10 years. But with a presidential election looming on the horizon - it will be a tough sell.

Experts suggest if the president wants to get serious, he needs to be specific in his upcoming budget... like setting targets for how much the government will cut. If Congress doesn't meet these targets, then across-the-board spending cuts should kick in.

Meanwhile, as Congress and the president sit on their hands when it comes to government spending, governors are setting a good example. They're slashing budgets, firing people, cutting programs - you know, "REAL" cost cutting.

But when it comes to the federal government, all we get is talk.

Here’s my question to you: Will President Obama get serious about the deficit when he presents his budget?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Budget cuts • Deficit • President Barack Obama
February 7th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Why is Pres. Obama a polarizing figure?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama has the most polarized approval ratings for a second-year president since Dwight Eisenhower.

A new Gallup Poll shows 81% of Democrats and 13% of Republicans approved of the job Mr. Obama was doing as president during his second year.

This 68-point gap is up from a 65-point gap during Mr. Obama's first year as president. That was also a record.

Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton are the only other presidents who had gaps of at least 50 points between party approvals by their second year in office.

This isn't to say that Mr. Obama is the most polarizing president ever. That award goes to President George W. Bush. He had three years in office with a gap in party ratings that topped 70 points.

But Bush's earlier years in office were less polarizing - mostly due to the support he received after the 9/11 attacks.

As for President Obama, he arrived in Washington full of talk about unity and bipartisanship. And his initial approval ratings were among the highest for any post-World War II president. But Mr. Obama quickly lost most of the Republican support, while maintaining high ratings from Democrats.

It's worth pointing out that this isn't just about Pres. Obama. Our country seems to get more polarized every year. On average, nearly all of the presidents since Reagan have more polarized ratings than those before him.

And we can probably thank hyper-partisan news on cable, the Internet, and talk radio for some of the growing divide.

Here’s my question to you: Why is President Obama such a polarizing figure?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: President Barack Obama
February 7th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Trust Palin's opinion on Egypt?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It was only a matter of time before we heard from Sarah Palin.

The former Alaska governor, who badly bungled her response to the Arizona shootings, had managed to keep quiet on the crisis in Egypt for about two weeks. That was until her interview with the Christian Broadcast Network, where Palin highlighted her lack of foreign policy experience or understanding.

She blasted the Obama administration on Egypt, saying the crisis is the president's 3 a.m. phone call, which "went right to the answering machine."

Palin says the administration hasn't explained to the public what it knows. She says she's "not really enthused" about what's being done in Washington and called for "strength and sound mind" in the White House.

When Palin speaks it's usually a lot of feathers - not very much chicken:

"Who's going to fill the void? (President Hosni) Mubarak, he's gone, one way or the other you know, he is not going to be the leader of Egypt, that that's a given, so now the information needs to be gathered and understood as to who it will be that fills now the void in the government.

"Is it going to be the Muslim Brotherhood? We should not stand for that, or with that or by that. Any radical Islamists, no that is not who we should be supporting and standing by, so we need to find out who was behind all of the turmoil and the revolt and the protests so that good decisions can be made in terms of who we will stand by and support."

Palin's words, once again, amount to a whole lot of nothing.

She criticizes President Barack Obama but doesn't offer any solution.

We should be used to this by now: lots of feathers, no chicken.

Here’s my question to you: How much do you trust Sarah Palin's opinion on Egypt?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Egypt • Sarah Palin
February 3rd, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Mideast chaos break U.S. addiction to foreign oil?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As unrest sweeps through the Middle East like wildfire, it's worth remembering this crisis will cost all of us - especially at the gas station.

And maybe – just maybe – this time, the chaos in that part of the world will finally be enough to break America's addiction to foreign oil.

Although Egypt is not a major oil producer, it plays a key role in the transport of oil and gas headed to the U.S., Europe and Asia through the Suez Canal.

Without it, shippers would have to send crude oil and gas around the Horn of Africa. That adds on more than two weeks of delivery time to global markets.

With the ongoing violence and protests in Egypt, some shippers are worried about disruptions to the Suez Canal or nearby pipelines.

Nearly 2.5 million barrels of oil go through the canal every day – that's about equal to Iraq's output.

All this comes as global oil supplies are tightening – mostly due to China's increasing demand.

And the markets are reacting. Crude is trading at more than $103 a barrel – that's a 28-month high.

Even before the Mideast erupted, some experts were predicting gas at $5 a gallon by 2012.

And it's not just about the money. So much of the politics of the region has always been dictated by our need for oil. It would be nice to do what's in our best national interest for a change... instead of being beholden to Mideast dictators for their oil.

Here’s my question to you: Should the chaos in the Middle East be enough to break America's addiction to foreign oil?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Egypt • Middle East • Oil Prices
February 3rd, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Mubarak forced out now instead of September?

ALT TEXT

Egyptian anti-government demonstrators gather in Cairo on this 10th day of protests calling for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. (PHOTO CREDIT: PATRICK BAZ/AFP/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Egyptian people are not buying what Hosni Mubarak is selling.

In fact, the anti-government protesters have only become more emboldened since Mubarak's announcement that he'll step down from the presidency - but not until September.

But they want him gone now. They think 30 years is long enough.

However, that doesn't seem to matter much to Mubarak.

He told ABC's Christiane Amanpour that he's sick of being president and would like to leave office now. But he says he can't for fear of the country slipping into chaos. That's as opposed to what we're seeing in the streets of Cairo right now.

As for the people shouting insults at him, Mubarak says, "I don't care what people say about me. Right now I care about my country, I care about Egypt."

Earlier this week, President Obama seemed to suggest Mubarak step down sooner rather than later, saying an orderly transition to a new regime "must begin now."

U.S. officials say the protest movement isn't going away - it's only getting bigger. They worry that the longer the crisis goes on without a resolution, the worse the economic impact and violence will become. Already there are food and fuel shortages and bank closures.

Other world leaders have also called on Mubarak to step aside, including Turkey's prime minister, who says Mubarak should "satisfy the people's desire for change" without hesitation.

Others are suggesting an interim "caretaker government" that could oversee the upcoming elections.

Here’s my question to you: Should Mubarak be forced out now rather than waiting until his term expires in September?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Egypt • Middle East
February 2nd, 2011
05:56 PM ET

What's next for Middle East?

ALT TEXT

A Molotov cocktail thrown by a supporter of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak arcs through the air towards government opponents in a side street during a violent conflict between the two groups in Cairo. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Middle East is starting to look like one big game of dominoes.

As the kings, unelected presidents and emirs watch what's going on in the streets of Cairo, they've got to be wondering if they're going to be next.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's days are clearly numbered. At this point, it seems highly unlikely he'll even make it through the rest of his term.

Mubarak would be following Tunisian President Zine El Abedine Ben Ali out the door after similar popular street movements pushed him out of power.

No doubt about it, some sort of genie is out of the bottle.

Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh says he won't seek re-election when his term ends in 2013. That's after more than three decades in office. He also says he won't hand power over to his son.

Of course, he made that announcement ahead of a "day of rage" protest scheduled for Thursday.

Thousands of people have already been demonstrating in Yemen in recent weeks.

Over in Jordan, King Abdullah has sacked his government and appointed a new prime minister in the face of protests. The king is asking the new government to implement what he calls "genuine political reform."

It’s funny how "reform" has suddenly become a priority in some of these countries after decades of repressive governments.

Meanwhile, demonstrators also are calling for change in Algeria and Sudan. And in Syria, there are protests planned for this week.

Experts say these protests sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa are "unprecedented" and a "watershed event for the Arab world."

For now, the leadership in Saudi Arabia and Libya seems secure, but it's safe to say a new day is dawning.

Here’s my question to you: What's next for the Middle East?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Egypt • Middle East
February 2nd, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Risks if Mubarak is removed from power?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Somebody suggested, "The devil you know is better than the devil you don't know."

When it comes to Egypt, Hosni Mubarak is the devil we know.

Ruling for the last three decades, Mubarak has maintained Egypt as a moderate regional force in the face of extreme Islamist nations.

He's also helped keep peace with Israel.

Now Mubarak says he's not running for re-election and it's unclear how much longer he will cling to power.

Which brings us to who's the devil we don't know?

History suggests we might want to watch what we wish for:

Remember when the Bush administration pushed for democratic elections in Gaza and Hamas won?

Or go back a little further: When the Shah of Iran was toppled 30 years ago, the ayatollahs took over and Iran became an Islamic republic.

The Iranian Revolution was originally backed by many groups - much like the one in Egypt - but the extremists took control of the movement - and look where we are today.

Some worry the same thing could happen in Egypt. They fear the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood. Even though the extremely conservative Islamic organization is banned from Egypt, it's still the largest opposition group.

But not everyone agrees. Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei rejects the idea that Islamic fundamentalists will take over.

The secular ElBaradei says he's reaching out to the Muslim Brotherhood and that they need to be included in any new government.

Here’s my question to you: What are the risks if Mubarak is removed from power in Egypt?


Filed under: Egypt • Middle East
February 1st, 2011
04:17 PM ET

U.S. withhold any of $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt?

ALT TEXT

Egyptian protesters take part in a demonstration today on Cairo's Tahrir Square. (PHOTO CREDIT: MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As Egyptian protesters demanding reform fill the streets by the hundreds of thousands, it's worth remembering that the U.S. helps control the purse strings in that country.

American taxpayers give $1.5 billion dollars a year in foreign aid to Egypt, second only to Israel.

Although the White House has said it's reviewing this aid depending on the military's behavior - One top Republican says now is not the time to threaten to withhold any of this money.

Congresswoman Kay Granger - who chairs the house subcommittee in charge of foreign aid - says we shouldn't use the money as a stick to force Mubarak into reforms.

Granger says most of the $1.5 billion goes toward the military - which seems to be a stabilizing force among the demonstrators.

Granger says Congress should only consider withholding aid if there's evidence that U.S. military equipment is being used improperly.

Several top Democrats are on the same page, saying the U.S. should remain committed to assisting Egypt. They point to the close relationship between the two countries.

Nonetheless, some experts think cutting financial aid is the best way to get results.

A bipartisan group of former officials says the administration should suspend all aid to Egypt until the government:

Agrees to elections as soon as possible, allows banned candidates to run, immediately lifts the state of emergency that's been in place for decades, releases political prisoners, and allows for freedom of the media and assembly.

Here’s my question to you: Should the U.S. withhold any of its $1.5 billion in financial aid to Egypt?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Egypt • United States
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