August 4th, 2011
02:36 PM ET

Tea party's effect on the federal government?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The old saying is you can't fight city hall. The country's city hall is Washington, D.C.

And the frustration being felt by Americans with that city is palpable. We are lied to, pandered to, taken advantage of and taken for granted. And election after election, we watch the quality of our lives and our country continue to ebb away.

Most of us feel powerless to do anything about it.

Enter the tea party.

Love them or hate them, they are making a difference, changing the debate. When the conservative faction of the Republican Party was formed, it subscribed to a set of principles that, surprise, it continues to cling to today.

Tea party movement members said they would go to Washington and work for smaller government, lower taxes, less spending and a general disengagement of the federal government from our everyday lives.

Now granted, their recipe for success doesn't appeal to everyone.

But the point worth making here is this:

It is possible to fight Washington. They just finished doing it with the debt ceiling fiasco. The government was brought to its knees and made to look absolutely silly by a small group in the House of Representatives – just 60 out of 435 members.

They came to Washington and did exactly what they said they would do. That doesn't happen often in Washington.

But there is a lesson here for all of us:

Vote in enough numbers for the people you believe in and can trust, and who knows what might be possible.

Here’s my question to you: What's your impression of the effect the tea party has had on the federal government?

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: Tea Party
August 4th, 2011
01:38 PM ET

Govt. decide if poor people get free cell phones?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Free cell phones for the poor. Yet another example of where our government is getting involved.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/08/04/cell-phone.jpg]

The Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports on programs that provide free cell phones and 250 monthly minutes to people receiving government support like Medicaid or food stamps.

These programs, which exist in most states, are paid for by the federal Universal Service Fund. Federal law requires all telecom providers contribute to this fund.

An industry spokeswoman tells the newspaper that all cell phone carriers charge consumers a fee to recover the cost of their contribution to the fund.

Translation: People who pay cell phone bills are also helping pay for those who get free cell phones.

There are millions of participants nationwide in these programs. Customers only need to provide proof of income in order to qualify.

Supporters say the program is about "peace of mind,” that it's one less bill for someone to pay so they can afford to pay their rent or day care.

But critics say free cell phone service is no right, that you don't need a cell phone to live.

One expert at the Heritage Foundation calls the free cell phone programs "particularly wasteful and unnecessary,” adding that our society can't afford to give free everything to everybody.

Other experts suggest programs like these could help the overall economy since having a phone can help people find jobs – especially since public pay phones aren't on every corner like they used to be before cell phones became so prominent.

Here’s my question to you: Should the government decide whether poor people get free cell phones?

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: On Jack's radar