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June 15th, 2011
04:05 PM ET

What does the future hold for organized labor?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Wisconsin's Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a law that limits the collective bargaining rights of most state employees does not violate the state constitution. It's a major victory for Republican Gov. Scott Walker. The decision limits the ability of most of the state's public employees to bargain over their wages. Raises now will be limited to inflation unless voters approve other pay increases. Also, public employees will be required to contribute close to 6% of their salaries to their pensions and pay more than 12% of their health care premiums.

Thousands of union backers camped out in the Wisconsin Legislature earlier this year in an attempt to stop a vote on the measure. Fourteen Democratic state senators fled the state, and their duties as elected officials, in support. But the measure passed anyway.

The collective bargaining ruling in Wisconsin is yet another sign that organized labor is losing its power in this country. In a very different case in Seattle, the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of the machinists union is alleging aircraft maker Boeing moved jobs from union factories in Washington state to a new nonunion plant in South Carolina in order to save money. The NLRB says Boeing moved to South Carolina to get back at unionized workers in Washington who have previously gone on strike. The NLRB wants to limit Boeing's growth to Washington state. Boeing and the South Carolina politicians disagree and call the case an attack on job creation.

It's a hard sell to defend these unions in such a tight economy. We've got a 9.1% unemployment rate in this country.. Many Americans haven't gotten a raise in years. Others have seen their hours cut back and are making less today than they were a few years ago. In this economy, you have to wonder if these unions can ever regain the power they once held.

Here’s my question to you: What does the future hold for organized labor?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Uncategorized
Will Republicans have to lighten up on social issues in order to succeed in 2012?
June 14th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Will Republicans have to lighten up on social issues in order to succeed in 2012?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Each of the Republican contenders in last night's CNN presidential debate tried to set himself - or herself - apart from the other candidates, but their main message was more about beating President Obama in 2012 than each other.

With the president's approval ratings near all-time lows, our national debt sky-high and climbing, and unemployment above 9%, it would certainly seem it's the Republicans’ race to lose.

According to a CNN Opinion Research Corp. poll, nearly three-quarters of Republicans and Republican-leaning independent voters say they want a real contender who can defeat Obama in 2012, even if that nominee doesn't agree with them on every issue. More importantly, that's up 7 percentage points from January.

But for Republicans to keep conservatives happy, social issues - like abortion, gay marriage, "don't ask, don't tell" - still manage to work their way into the conversation. And that may prove to be a problem for Republicans once we head into the general election campaign.
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For example, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said on Sunday's "Meet the Press" that not only was he pro-life even in cases of rape and incest, he believes that doctors who perform abortions should face criminal charges. Santorum should save himself a lot of time and money and find something to do besides running for president.

On the subject of gay marriage, all the candidates except Herman Cain and Ron Paul said last night they'd support a constitutional amendment outlawing it. Several of them also said that if elected, they would go back to the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Note to the GOP: These are not the issues that middle America is worried about. They would like to be able to find a job.

Here’s my question to you: Will Republicans have to lighten up on social issues in order to succeed in 2012?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: 2012 Election • GOP • GOP Ticket • Republican Party • Republicans
June 14th, 2011
04:56 PM ET

How has the economy affected your plans to retire?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The United States is actually in worse financial shape than Greece and other debt-laden European countries when you add in all of the money owed to cover future Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security obligations. That's what bond fund manager Bill Gross of Pimco told CNBC yesterday.

But talk of reforming these so-called entitlement programs terrifies most Americans, especially after many saw their life savings evaporate during the Great Recession and the value of the home plummet.

According to a study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a whole lot of Americans have not saved enough for retirement and are going to have to rely largely on Social Security for their incomes as they age. The study also predicts that many Americans will have to work longer than planned - and many may end up working well into their 70s and 80s to afford retirement.

It's a depressing thought whether you're approaching retirement age or just planning to one day be able to afford it.

Americans are also living longer, and as a result the cost and quality of the health care available to them becomes more important. Seventy-two percent of non-retired Americans surveyed say the cost of health care will determine when they retire, according to the Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index.

We likely have seen the end of the gold watch, generous pension and company-provided health care for life that was a part of many of the previous generation's retirement. The golden years for many are shaping up to be more like brass.

Here’s my question to you: How has the economy affected your plans to retire?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Longevity
June 13th, 2011
04:40 PM ET

Has the value of a college degree changed in recent years?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama flew to Durham, North Carolina, Monday to meet with his Jobs and Competitiveness Council hoping to get some ideas from corporate leaders on how to boost the economy and promote job creation. Now there's an idea.

He's going to need all the help he can get. With 9.1% unemployment, things aren't looking so hot, particularly with the jobs situation so bleak for college age and college-educated young Americans, a demographic that widely voted for President Obama in 2008.

According to a one study, the median starting salary for students graduating from four-year colleges in 2009 and 2010 was $27,000 a year. That's 10% lower than what those who entered the workforce from 2006 through 2008 earned. A separate study found only about 45% of college graduates under age 25 are working a job that requires a college degree. Less than half. That number varies from major to major: Those who majored in education and teaching or engineering are much more likely to find a job requiring a college degree. But while engineering jobs are highly paid, education and teaching jobs have much lower earning potential.

And here's a sobering thought: Half the 54,000 jobs created in May came from McDonald's.

All of this is reigniting the debate over whether a college degree is really worth it in this economy. Over the past 20 years, tuition and fees at public universities have jumped nearly 130%. But real income for the middle class has actually dropped. The latest figures show the median income in the U.S. is $400 lower than it was in 1988.

We hear a lot about dealing with a "new normal" in the wake of the Great Recession. Choosing against a four-year college degree may be part of that for some Americans.

Here’s my question to you: Has the value of a college degree changed in recent years?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Education
June 13th, 2011
04:39 PM ET

What do you want to hear from Republicans at tonight’s presidential debate?

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The hall at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire is nearly ready for the first CNN Republican Debate. (PHOTO CREDIT: Bryan Monroe/CNN)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

We're about 17 months away from the 2012 presidential election. A handful of Republican hopefuls have already declared they will challenge President Obama, a few others have indicated they will do so in the coming weeks.

If unemployment doesn't come down and people don't start to feel more optimistic about their future, the GOP's biggest challenge will be to avoid snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Tonight seven Republican presidential hopefuls will debate in New Hampshire, live on CNN starting at eight o'clock. We're likely to hear a lot about the sad state of the economy, how President Obama has failed at job creation, why this country is so deep in debt, and how each of these men and women think they can change things. There will be promises of no new taxes, and steep cuts to government spending. Mitt Romney, who has emerged as the early frontrunner in the field, will have to defend attacks over the universal health care law passed in Massachusetts when he was governor. And Newt Gingrich will try to convince voters he's serious about running after most of his staff abruptly quit late last week.

This is just the second in a series of debates scheduled for Republican hopefuls. The characters will likely change over the months - Jon Huntsman, Sarah Palin, Rudy Giuliani and Rick Perry are all possible additions in the coming weeks. The issues, however, are likely to remain pretty much the same.

Here’s my question to you: What do you want to hear from Republicans at tonight's presidential debate?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: 2012 Election • GOP • GOP Ticket • Republican Party
June 9th, 2011
02:53 PM ET

Should Pres. Obama become personally involved in negotiations over the debt crisis?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Our growing national debt and the political games being played around raising the debt ceiling have created what's probably the most serious crisis facing the United States right now. And yet President Obama remains pretty much above the fray on the matter. Today he was hosting the president of the West Central African nation of Gabon at the Oval Office. Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden was holding a meeting with lawmakers from both parties on the debt ceiling.

The U.S. technically hit the debt ceiling back in April. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has said the government can get by paying its bills for a few weeks until the beginning of August. In the meantime, Republican lawmakers say they will not vote to raise the debt ceiling unless steep and meaningful spending cuts are agreed to.

The Biden-led meeting is part of the debt-ceiling working group the president requested the vice president head up earlier this spring. So far, both sides have agreed to about $200 billion in spending cuts, but that's just a drop in the bucket compared to what some conservatives want. Today, the group was to discuss taxes and entitlements. Good luck on that. Expect talks to continue, and expect them to get ugly.

This all comes on the same day that Fitch Rating Service said it would assign a "junk" rating to all U.S. Treasury securities if the federal government misses debt payments by August 15.

But President Obama was busy hosting the president of Gabon.

Here’s my question to you: Should President Obama become personally involved in negotiations over the nation's debt crisis?

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: Uncategorized
June 9th, 2011
02:52 PM ET

Why won't Rep. Weiner do the honorable thing and resign?

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FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Some people just don't know when it's time to leave. For disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner it's past time. But he insists he's not going anywhere, that he has no intention of resigning. My guess is he's going to change his mind about that, and soon.

A couple of late developments: Conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart says he's got another X-rated picture of Congressman Weiner. But he says he's not going to release it just yet. The morning papers in New York are full of explicit text messages. Disgusting stuff more appropriate for a drunken college frat boy that a member of the United States Congress. Yesterday we learned his wife is pregnant with their first child. On the scale of creeps from one to ten Congressman Anthony Weiner is an eleven.

Weiner arrogantly told a reporter from the New York Post today that while he is aware he betrayed many people, he's not giving up his job. Instead he said he is now trying to get back to work to, quote "make amends to my constituents, and of course to my family."

A Democratic source who spoke with Weiner told CNN that Weiner's digging in his heels because he says his wife wants him to stay in Congress. She would probably prefer he be anywhere at this point except at home.

But the sharks are in the water in Washington. Many of Weiner's colleagues want him gone, including a growing number of members of his own party. Senate majority leader Harry Reid says he won't take his calls. Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat from Vermont and the second most senior member of the Senate, today called for Weiner to quit.

Leahy joins fellow democrats Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania and a list of House Democrats who say Weiner must go.

I wonder if Las Vegas has the over and under on Weiner making it through the weekend. My guess is he's gone by Monday, but we'll see.

Here’s my question to you: Why won't Rep. Weiner do the honorable thing and resign?

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: Uncategorized
June 8th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

What are the chances the U.S. economy could eventually trigger violence in our country?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

For the first time maybe since the Vietnam War or certainly since the civil rights movement, there are some darkening storm clouds on the civility horizon. A growing number of voices are continuing to suggest that if this economy doesn't turn around, and people can't start feeling optimistic about their futures again, we could be headed for some ugly scenarios. A new CNN poll says 48 percent of Americans think the country is headed for another Great Depression in the next twelve months. That is a stunning number.

James Carville, who in 1992 told Bill Clinton, "It's the economy stupid," says the current economy is so bad, there is a heightened risk of civil unrest. And unless things start changing for the better, it's a distinct possibility.

Our country is bankrupt and our government refuses to do anything about it. Unemployment is stuck above 9 percent. Millions of Americans are out of work, some for a number of years now. The value of peoples' homes is sinking below the break-even line. In the most recent jobs report, more than half of the private sector jobs that were added were at McDonald's.

For young people coming out of the nation's colleges and universities, their families having invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in their education, the outlook is grim.

Add in the early record breaking heat in the cities in the East and we might not even have to wait until 2012. It could become a long, hot, ugly summer.

Here’s my question to you: What are the chances the U.S. economy could eventually trigger violence in our country?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Economy
June 8th, 2011
02:00 PM ET

Tim Pawlenty wants only two income tax brackets, 10% and 25%. Good idea?

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FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It's been about two weeks since Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty formally entered the Republican presidential race. So far, he's talked bluntly and forcefully, but not very specifically, about issues like gradually raising the retirement age for Social Security, overhauling Medicare, and phasing out ethanol subsidies. But yesterday, in what's being called his first major policy speech on the economy, Pawlenty talked specifics, calling for a "simpler, fairer, flatter tax system" and major cuts to federal spending.

He proposed reforming the individual tax code to have just two rates: 10 percent for the first $50,000 of income, $100,000 for married couples, and 25 percent for higher incomes. He said that would allow lower and middle income families to save more by being taxed at a lower rate, and would spur investment and job creation by cutting the top rate. His plan would also end the capital gains tax, interest income tax, dividends tax, and the estate tax. He'd also cut the business tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent.

But Pawlenty didn't just talk taxes-he also called for major spending cuts to many government services. In fact, he suggested if you can find a private sector product or service on the internet, then the federal government doesn't need to be doing it. Not a bad idea.

Critics are already calling the proposals "unachievable." But it's a more ambitious and specific plan than what we've heard from any other potential Republican candidate.

Here’s my question to you: Tim Pawlenty wants only two income tax brackets, 10% and  25%.  Good idea?

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: 2012 Election
June 7th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Should Rep. Anthony Weiner resign?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It took U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-New York, more than a week to admit that he lied about sending an explicit picture of himself to a young college student in Seattle and that he has carried on inappropriate online exchanges with a total of six women. But it only took a few minutes during his news conference to tell us he will not resign. He should.

Rep. Weiner admitted sending a lewd Twitter photo of himself to a woman and lying about it.

Rep. Weiner admitted sending a lewd Twitter photo of himself to a woman and lying about it.

House Minority Leader and fellow Democrat Nancy Pelosi announced that there will be an ethics investigation - not that those ever mean much, ask Charlie Rangel - into whether Weiner used government resources to send the messages or broke other ethics rules. If lying is considered unethical, an investigation is really unnecessary.

That's the crux of this matter. Not only did he send those sleazy pictures, pretty sick stuff in and of itself, he repeatedly lied about doing so. He sat down with countless reporters and members of the media and lied over and over and over again.

This leads one to wonder: What else does he lie about? How can his constituents or anyone else for that matter trust anything he says?

Weiner said in a statement he will "welcome and fully cooperate with an investigation by the House Ethics Committee."

Pelosi has not asked Weiner to step down as she did when the Ethics Committee launched a similar probe into former U.S. Rep. Chris Lee of New York, the married Republican who got caught trying to meet a woman over Craigslist last year. But then Pelosi has always had a convenient set of double standards. And when it comes to members of Congress, the phrase "Ethics Committee" more often than not proves to be an oxymoron.

Here’s my question to you: Should Rep. Anthony Weiner resign?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Congress • Government
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