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Would Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan get you to vote for him?
October 17th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Would Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan get you to vote for him?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is breathing down Mitt Romney's neck – and much of the attention he's getting is focused on his 9-9-9 tax plan.

Cain talks about this plan, and how it would stimulate economic growth, a lot.

Whether you agree or disagree with Cain's tax plan, there's no doubt it would simplify our complicated tax code.

The 9-9-9 plan would get rid of almost all of the current taxes and replace them with:

  • A 9% flat federal individual income tax
  • A 9% flat federal corporate tax
  • And a new 9% national sales tax

Not everyone is sold. Far from it. Some economists along with other Republican presidential hopefuls have questioned the plan.

Critics say it would give the government a new revenue stream, the national sales tax, while not protecting families from paying more. Some insist it would raise taxes for the poor and middle class while cutting taxes for those at the top.

But Cain insists that while some people will pay more under his plan, "most people will pay less." He tells NBC that despite congressional opposition he thinks he could push through this plan as president.

Meanwhile it's worth pointing out that the 9-9-9 plan is just an early step in Cain's tax reform plans.

Ultimately he supports a "fair tax." This is a kind of national sales tax that would replace the current tax code and all the credits, deductions and exemptions.

So, for example, while mortgage deductions would disappear, the plan would still make overall taxes less for many homeowners.

And it seems people are intrigued. Cain has surged in the national polls. He's also statistically tied with Romney in the crucial early voting states of Iowa and South Carolina, and he's in second place in New Hampshire.

Here’s my question to you: Would Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan get you to vote for him?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Herman Cain
Where are the Occupy Wall Street protests destined to end?
October 17th, 2011
04:00 PM ET

Where are the Occupy Wall Street protests destined to end?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

What started with a few people in New York's financial district complaining about the economy and corporate greed has now spread around the world.

And as the Occupy Wall Street movement marks a month of protests, there are no signs of it slowing down.

Protesters have taken to the streets not only in a growing number of U.S. cities, but around Europe and Asia.

This includes cities like London, Rome, Paris, Oslo, Copenhagen, Sydney, Hong Kong, Taipei, and Tokyo. These protests have been mostly peaceful except for Rome, where they set off riots.

Organizers say protests will be held in 950 cities in 82 countries. Sort of sounds like a revolution.

Here in the U.S., police arrested hundreds of protesters over the weekend, including in New York, Chicago, Denver, Phoenix, and Raleigh, North Carolina.

American protesters say they're angry that banks keep making hefty profits after the 2008 bailouts, while ordinary Americans suffer under a struggling economy and 9% unemployment.

They say they take their inspiration from the Arab spring movement that led to the toppling of regimes in Africa and the Middle East.

Critics accuse the protesters of not having clear goal, and they question how long the movement can keep going. But they have lasted a month so far, and the folks who laughed at them don't look so smart now.

Plus politicians seem to be taking note that these protests aren't going away any time soon:

President Obama has voiced support for the demonstrators, and Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor - who previously compared protesters to "angry mobs" - now says his party agrees there is "too much" income disparity in the U.S.

Here’s my question to you: Where are the Occupy Wall Street protests destined to end?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: Wall Street
What does it mean for President Obama that he can't even get the Democrat-controlled Senate to pass his jobs bill?
October 12th, 2011
04:00 PM ET

What does it mean for President Obama that he can't even get the Democrat-controlled Senate to pass his jobs bill?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Here's just one more sign that President Obama is in deep trouble headed into a re-election year:

The Democrat-controlled senate has failed to pass the president's job bill, his top legislative priority.

The senate voted 50-to-49 against the $447 billion package - falling far short of the 60 votes needed to pass.

President Obama has been barnstorming the country to promote this thing, but it didn't make a difference:

Not a single Republican voted for the jobs bill. And, even worse - two Democrats up for re-election in conservative states also voted against it.

President Obama insists this isn't the end of the road for the jobs bill. He's vowing to break the massive initiative down into several separate bills and have Congress vote on them one at a time. Some of the more popular elements include a payroll tax cut and the extension of unemployment benefits.

But it's far from certain that the bitterly divided congress will pass any of this stuff headed into the 2012 elections. Republicans call the whole thing a political stunt. They say the jobs bill is nothing more than another failed stimulus plan.

Meanwhile, Democrats up for re-election will have to decide whether or not to stand by the president. Experts tell Reuters that at least a few dozen Democrats might duck President Obama in 2012 since unpopular presidents traditionally hurt their party in Congress.

It's early - and that number may go up or down depending on a couple of other numbers: Mr. Obama's approval rating, now in the low 40s, and the nation's unemployment rate - which has been stuck at over 9%.

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean for President Obama that he can't even get the Democrat-controlled Senate to pass his jobs bill?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: Democrats • President Barack Obama • Senate
Time for Attorney General Holder to resign over Fast and Furious gun scandal?
October 12th, 2011
02:16 PM ET

Time for Attorney General Holder to resign over Fast and Furious gun scandal?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It was curious timing for the administration to announce the details of that Iranian terror plot yesterday. The news conveniently took the focus off the growing scandal surrounding Attorney General Eric Holder and the federal gun-running operation, Fast and Furious.

President Obama was reportedly briefed on this supposed terror plot back in June – but the feds chose yesterday to go public with it. When Attorney General Eric Holder was asked about being subpoenaed over Fast and Furious, he abruptly ended his news conference on the terror plot.

But terror plot or not, this story isn't going away.

Congressional investigators have issued a subpoena. They want to get their hands on communications from top Justice Department officials including Attorney General Eric Holder.

The head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Republican Darrell Issa of California, says "it's time to know the whole truth."

Issa says holder has made "numerous statements" about the program that have "proven to be untrue." Translation: Holder's lying.

Fast and Furious allowed illegal guns to "walk" from Arizona gun stores into Mexico.

The idea was to track sellers and buyers of guns to the Mexican drug cartels. But, it all went wrong when weapons found at Mexican and American murder scenes were traced back to the program. In fact, two of the guns linked to Fast and Furious were found at the scene of the murder of a border patrol agent.

Holder testified in may that he only found out about the program a few weeks before then. But Republicans point to Justice Department documents that show Holder knew about it much, much earlier.

Here’s my question to you: Is it time for Attorney General Eric Holder to resign over the Fast and Furious gun scandal?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: Eric Holder • Firearms
How long can we go on with almost half of Americans living in households that get government assistance?
October 6th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

How long can we go on with almost half of Americans living in households that get government assistance?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Yet another sign of our very troubled times:

Almost half of Americans - 48.5% - live in a household that gets some kind of government aid.

That's a record high according to census data for the first quarter of 2010. It's up from about 44% of the population in 2008... and from less than 30% in 1983.

Here's how it breaks down:

More than 34% of Americans live in a household that gets either food stamps, subsidized housing, cash welfare or Medicaid. Applications for these programs are up nearly 50% in the past decade.

More than 14% live in homes where someone is on Medicare.

16% live in homes getting Social Security.

But that's only half the story.

As unemployment hovers above 9%, more than 46 million Americans live below the poverty line. And as more people turn to government assistance, there are fewer people actually paying taxes to support all these programs.

It's estimated that more than 46% of households will pay no federal income tax this year. In 2010, 45% of households paid no federal income tax.

It doesn't take a mathematician to figure out that this is unsustainable.

With fewer than half of Americans paying federal taxes - and just about half living in a family that gets government aid - this country is headed down the drain. And fast.

It's no wonder the crowds protesting around the country keep growing with every passing day.

Here’s my question to you: How long can we go on with almost half of Americans living in households that get government assistance?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: Food • Food Prices • Government • Population • Social Issues • Unemployment • Unemployment / Economy
Are the protests spreading across the U.S. the sign of an 'American Spring'?
October 6th, 2011
04:00 PM ET

Are the protests spreading across the U.S. the sign of an 'American Spring'?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Today is the 20th day of protests down on Wall Street ... and the movement is picking up steam all across the country.

The demonstrators are critical of the growing economic gap in the United States. They say they take their inspiration from the "Arab Spring" protests that overthrew governments and dictators and continue to cause massive chaos across the Middle East and North Africa.

But in the beginning, barely anyone even noticed. There were a few hundred people with signs, peacefully walking around Manhattan's Financial District, talking about corporate greed and inequality.

And when they were finally noticed, they weren't taken seriously. Reporters made fun of them, saying they didn't even know what they protesting about.

Well, now the unions are joining in and supporting them, and the crowds are suddenly starting to look like this. There were thousands of protesters in Lower Manhattan on Wednesday. There have been hundreds of arrests.

And it's not just New York. Protesters are beginning to take to the streets nationwide, including in Los Angeles; Boston; San Francisco; Denver; Chicago; Seattle; Spokane, Washington; Philadelphia; Houston; Dallas; Tampa; St. Louis; Savannah, Georgia; Hartford, Connecticut; and Washington.

This isn't a joke, and the media would be well advised to take them seriously. Their grievances are real, their numbers are growing, and the rest of us would be well advised to pay attention.

So far, these protests have been peaceful, for the most part. So far. But the more they spread and grow, the bigger a problem it becomes for Washington.

Our federal government should take note. Protests over economic conditions and government cutbacks have turned violent elsewhere in the world. People will only take so much.

Here’s my question to you: Are the protests spreading across the U.S. the sign of an "American Spring"?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: Government • United States
Would you leave your bank over new monthly fees for debit cards or checking accounts?
October 5th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Would you leave your bank over new monthly fees for debit cards or checking accounts?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Take a good look at your bank statements, because financial institutions are tacking on new fees as fast as they can.

Bank of America has come under a lot of fire for a planned $5 monthly charge for debit card use.

The only way to avoid the fee is to have a mortgage with the bank, keep a $20,000 minimum balance, or use the debit card only for ATM transactions.

And Bank of America isn't the only one going the way of debit fees:

Wells Fargo says it's testing a $3 monthly fee in several states. and JP Morgan Chase announced a similar test last year.

The banks are blaming new fees on Wall Street reform enacted after the bank bailouts, and more specifically the so-called Durbin amendment.

The measure - named after Democratic senator Dick Durbin of Illinois - limits banks to charging $0.21 per debit card transaction. They used to charge an average of $0.44. The new rule is expected to cost the banks about $5 billion a year.

So naturally they are looking for somewhere else to make that money up; and what better place than the consumer, right?

But Durbin himself claims that debit card usage costs banks less than $0.12 per transaction - far below the new cap of $0.21. He says consumers should consider switching banks to where they're treated better because of fees like this.

Meanwhile, Citibank - which bashed Bank of America on debit fees - will soon be charging many customers monthly fees for their checking accounts - unless they maintain much higher balances.

Here’s my question to you: Would you leave your bank over new monthly fees for debit cards or checking accounts?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: Money
How likely do you think it is that the U.S. would elect two black presidents in a row?
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, a fiscal and social conservative, won a recent Florida straw poll.
October 5th, 2011
04:00 PM ET

How likely do you think it is that the U.S. would elect two black presidents in a row?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

"Black walnut isn't a flavor of the week." So says Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. The businessman and former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City is talking about his own surge in the polls.

As Cain sees it, he just might be the second black president of the United States.

Several new national polls show Cain closing the gap with front-runner Mitt Romney - as Texas Gov. Rick Perry falls off a cliff.

In one poll, Cain is even tied for first place with Romney.

Just this hour, CNN is out with our first poll of polls on the 2012 Republican horse race.

It shows Romney at the top of the pack with 20%. He's followed closely by Cain at 17%. Rick Perry, who was briefly the GOP front-runner, is now at 15%.

The rest of the candidates are all in single digits.

Cain, who's picked up steam since his surprise victory in the Florida straw poll, is laying out his path to victory.

He tells ABC News that his goal is to finish in the top three in Iowa and New Hampshire, and then win in South Carolina and Florida. Might happen.

Meanwhile, as Cain gets stronger, President Obama is getting weaker.

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that four in 10 Americans "strongly" disapprove of how Obama is handling his job. That's a record high.

The poll also shows that 43% of independents and 47% of seniors strongly disapprove. You can't win re-election with numbers like that.

Even many Democrats aren't supporting this president. Just look at Congress: Harry Reid blocked a vote on the president's job bill in the Senate, because Democrats don't have the votes to pass it.

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

Which GOP candidate benefits most from Gov. Christie's decision not to run for president?
October 4th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Which GOP candidate benefits most from Gov. Christie's decision not to run for president?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has shut the door on a 2012 presidential run, saying "now is not my time."

Christie says he won't abandon the commitment he made to his state as governor – you know, unlike a certain half-term dropout governor of Alaska.

Christie put it this way: "New Jersey, whether you like it or not, you're stuck with me."

This also means that whether Republican voters like it or not, they are stuck with the current crop of Republican candidates.

Unless, that is, Sarah Palin decides she'll get in. But it's getting a little late for that. Plus, more than two-thirds of Republicans say they don't want Palin to run for president.

So with Christie out, it looks like Republicans will nominate either Mitt Romney or Rick Perry, who's sinking fast in the polls.

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows Romney leading the pack at 25%.

Perry is now tied for second place with businessman Herman Cain at 16%.

For Perry, that's a whopping 13 percentage-point drop in this poll.

The Texas governor's stock has been falling after a shaky debate performance and questions about where he stands on Social Security and immigration.

Cain, on the other hand, has been surging in national polls after his surprise win in the Florida straw poll – and a flurry of media attention.

Ron Paul is the only other candidate receiving double-digit support in this survey, at 11%.

With primary season sneaking up on us, it's time for Republicans to pick their poison.

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election • GOP • Gov. Chris Christie • Republican Party • Republicans
Should there be a tax on foods high in saturated fats?
October 4th, 2011
04:00 PM ET

Should there be a tax on foods high in saturated fats?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Hold that cheeseburger.

Across the pond in Europe, Denmark is becoming the first country in the world to impose a so-called fat tax on foods high in saturated fats.

That includes everything from cheeseburgers and pizza to butter, milk, cheese and oils. Many Danes stocked up on these yummy groceries before the tax went into effect his weekend.

How much the "fat tax" is depends on how much saturated fat is in any given food, but it comes out to about $3 for every 2 pounds of saturated fat.

Officials say the goal is to increase the average life expectancy in Denmark, since saturated fats can cause heart disease and cancer.

Denmark has been a leading country when it comes to tougher policies on unhealthy foods. They have higher taxes on sodas, cigarettes and alcohol beyond what's required by the European Union. And they've increased taxes on ice cream, chocolate and sweets by a whopping 25%. Also, it's illegal for any food to have more than 2% trans fats.

Critics say there's a "Big Brother" aspect to all this and the government has no right telling them what they should - or shouldn't - eat.

Others suggest that any tax hikes on fatty or sugary foods should be accompanied by measures that make nutritious foods more affordable.

Whatever Denmark's approach, it works. Danes are downright skinny compared with Americans: In Denmark, only about 10% of the population is obese. Here in the U.S., one-third of all adults and nearly 1 in 5 children are obese. And as a nation, we get fatter every day. It's disgusting.

Plus, it's not like we couldn't use the extra tax revenue these days.

Here’s my question to you: Should there be a tax on foods high in saturated fats?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: Obesity • On Jack's radar
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