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What's the best way to restore some balance between rich and poor?
December 12th, 2011
04:42 PM ET

What's the best way to restore some balance between rich and poor?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

How much money does it take to make you rich? Depends on who you ask.

A new Gallup poll shows more than half of Americans - 53% - say they'd consider themselves rich if they made $150,000 a year or less. At the other end of the spectrum, 15% of those polled say they would need to earn at least $1 million a year before thinking of themselves as rich.

The poll also finds higher estimates for what makes you rich among men, younger Americans, college graduates, people living in urban and suburban areas and parents of minor children.

In a separate question, half of Americans say at least $1 million in net worth would make them rich. That includes savings, real estate, investments, etc. But it's a far cry from what most people have in the bank.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median annual household income in the U.S. is about $50,000 a year. Income inequality is skyrocketing. It's estimated that between 1979 and 2007, the incomes of the poorest Americans grew by only 20%. The incomes of the richest 1% of Americans jumped up by 275%.

It’s no coincidence that the Occupy Wall Street movement is targeting this top 1%.

Most Americans agree that the rich - including those who make more than $250,000 a year - should be taxed more. But are higher taxes the only answer to growing income inequality?

Here’s my question to you: What's the best way to restore some balance between rich and poor?

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.

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Filed under: On Jack's radar
If Congress is so bad, why do more than half of Americans say their own member deserves to be re-elected?
December 12th, 2011
03:06 PM ET

If Congress is so bad, why do more than half of Americans say their own member deserves to be re-elected?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Americans are fed up with Congress. Really fed up.

A new Gallup poll shows anti-incumbent attitudes are the highest they've been in 19 years.

76% of voters say most members do not deserve re-election.

What's more, this anti-incumbent mood is seen across the political spectrum - among Democrats, Republicans and especially Independents.

Back in 2010, when Democrats lost 63 House seats to Republicans, voters were less negative than they are now.

So, that means our elected representatives ought to start packing, right? After all, another recent poll put their job approval rating at an anemic 9%.

Well... not so fast. As is historically the case, even though people think Congress is rotten, they don't necessarily feel the same way about their own representatives.

This Gallup poll shows 53% of those surveyed say their representative deserves to be re-elected. Who are these people?

Makes it kind of hard to shake things up in Washington if people don't see their own elected officials as part of the problem.

And that's the thing: Almost every single one of them is part of the problem and part of the dysfunctional mess our government has become.

Congress can't even be bothered to pass a budget anymore. They can't be bothered to make any serious cuts to our skyrocketing national debt. They can't be bothered to do much of anything when it comes to energy policy. The list goes on.

Instead they just kick the can down the road on real issues and focus on getting re-elected.

Unless we stop them.

Here’s my question to you: If Congress is so bad, why do more than half of Americans say their own member deserves to be re-elected?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm 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.

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Filed under: Congress
Where are Americans headed if more than half of workers say they have less than $25,000 in savings?
December 7th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Where are Americans headed if more than half of workers say they have less than $25,000 in savings?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Thinking of retiring? Think again.

A new survey shows 56% of workers say they have less than $25,000 in savings.

The survey by "the employee benefit research institute" also finds that nearly 30% of workers are "not at all" confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement. That's a record high.

Researchers point out that many people don't even know how much they need to save for retirement.

It's estimated a 65-year-old retiree needs $1.1 million dollars in savings to draw $50,000 a year.

That assumes 3% inflation and a 5% annual return on investments.

Financial advisers tell USA Today they're seeing more workers and new retirees with no savings and no plan to get out of debt.

They point to several factors jeopardizing retirement today, including:

  • The stock market, which wiped out many people's savings in the last decade.
  • The decline of the housing market and erosion of the value of most people's most valuable asset.
  • Baby Boomers procrastinating when it comes to saving or counting on Social Security for retirement.
  • People putting retirement last... after paying down debt, paying for their children's college, etc.
  • And high unemployment.

Sadly, there aren't many options as you near retirement age and don't have money stashed away.

You can either work longer - which millions of Americans are planning to do - save more or get a higher return on your investments. Or cut your costs.

So much for the golden years.

Here's my question to you: Where are Americans headed if more than half of workers say they have less than $25,000 in savings?

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.

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Filed under: Economy
GOPers say Gingrich a favorite uncle, Romney a missing father?
December 7th, 2011
02:54 PM ET

GOPers say Gingrich a favorite uncle, Romney a missing father?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

In a presidential election, a lot of things come into play when determining the outcome.

Our country is beset with countless serious problems. For starters, we're broke, we're not creating jobs the way we need to and congress and Washington are a divided, dysfunctional mess.

So every four years we get to listen to candidates who come forward with ideas about how to make our lives better. Like the candidates themselves, some of the ideas are good and others are not.

But at the end of the day, it's often the likeability or the power of a candidate to connect with voters that makes the difference.

On the Republican side, the choice increasingly looks like it's between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.

And one study found some interesting differences between the two men. Democratic pollster Peter Hart has described a focus group of Republican primary voters done for the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

When asked what relative Gingrich reminded them of, several Republicans said a favorite uncle or a grandfather. They described Romney as a "missing father" or a second cousin. Not exactly warm and fuzzy feelings for Romney.

Just one more strike against the one-time presumed nominee.

Meanwhile, Politico reports on the many reasons why Gingrich might win this thing, including:

Romney being forced to play catch-up; Gingrich's message being perfect for the anti-Washington Times; Gingrich rocking the debates, which are drawing huge audiences; the Obama campaign doing much of the anti-Romney work; social conservatives distrusting Romney, and Gingrich has momentum on his side, with the first four states voting in January.

Here's my question to you: What does it mean when Republicans say Newt Gingrich reminds them of a favorite uncle or grandfather, while Mitt Romney reminds them of a missing father or second cousin?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election • GOP • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich • Republican Party • Republicans
Now that Herman Cain is out of the race, who else should drop out?
December 6th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Now that Herman Cain is out of the race, who else should drop out?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The implosion of Herman Cain's campaign to be the GOP presidential candidate seems to be just one more thing working in favor of Newt Gingrich and against Mitt Romney.

Since Cain suspended his campaign over the weekend, it appears Gingrich has been the beneficiary of a good amount of Cain's former support.

Gallup polling shows that over the past month, as Cain's support went from 22% to nothing, when he ended his bid, Gingrich's support climbed from 13% to 37%. That's a 24-point jump.

Mitt Romney's support has remained steady at 22% over the same time.

Overall, the first ever Gallup daily tracking poll in this race shows Gingrich leads Romney nationwide by 15 points, 37% to 22%. Gingrich's 37% is the highest Gallup has measured this year for any candidate.

Plus, Gingrich tops Romney in many categories:

His lead is especially large among conservative Republicans and tea party supporters.

Gingrich also fares better than Romney among every age group, among both women and men and in every region of the country. He's especially strong in the Midwest and the South.

Meanwhile the Gallup Poll shows all the rest of the candidates are in the single digits. That includes: Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman.

Once the voting starts in a few weeks in Republican primaries and caucuses, it's clear that many of these campaigns will come to an end pretty quickly.

But why wait? The handwriting is already on the wall for several Republican candidates.

Here's my question to you: Now that Herman Cain is out of the race, who else should drop out?

Tune in to "The Situation Room" at 5 p.m. ET to see if Jack reads your answer on the air.

And we'd love to know where you're writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Herman Cain
How important is Donald Trump's endorsement?
December 6th, 2011
04:00 PM ET

How important is Donald Trump's endorsement?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Donald Trump fancies his endorsement a hot commodity in the Republican race... and several of the candidates apparently agree.

Many of the GOP hopefuls have been making the pilgrimage to Trump Tower here in New York the past few months to meet with the real estate mogul and reality TV star. Just yesterday, front-runner Newt Gingrich became the latest to visit Trump.

In his book, Donald Trump writes that the candidates come to see him "because millions of people listen to what I say and know I 'get it.'" He adds that it wouldn't surprise him if he's the "single most important endorsement a presidential candidate" can get. And just to be clear, Trump says he's not bragging, rather quote "I just tell it like it is."

He says he'll most likely endorse someone - but hasn't said when. Trump flirted with his own GOP run earlier this year... and still isn't ruling out an Independent run.

But not everyone in the Republican race is after a Donald Trump endorsement.

Jon Huntsman probably had the best line of the week - saying he refuses to kiss Trump's ring... or any other part of his anatomy. Huntsman says this is what's wrong with politics, "show business over substance." He adds that if Trump had any courage, he'd still be running for president instead of manipulating the process from the outside. Huntsman recently said he would not attend the GOP debate Trump is moderating.

Ron Paul has turned down that debate as well, saying it would have a "circus-like" atmosphere.

Paul also took a swipe at front-runner Newt Gingrich after yesterday's meeting with Trump. Paul says Gingrich and Trump would have a "wonderful time" shopping together in New York - picking out gifts for their wives. He suggests Tiffany's. I love Ron Paul.

Here's my question to you: How important is Donald Trump's endorsement?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Donald Trump
No president since FDR has won re-election with unemployment over 7.2%. Is President Obama doomed?
December 5th, 2011
01:33 PM ET

No president since FDR has won re-election with unemployment over 7.2%. Is President Obama doomed?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Here's something that ought to keep President Obama up at night: No president since FDR has won re-election with unemployment over 7.2%.

The unemployment rate may have dropped to 8.6% in November, but the picture isn't nearly as rosy as the White House would like us to believe.

Yes, it's the lowest it's been since March 2009, and it's getting closer to the 7.8% rate we had when Obama took office, but that's where the good news ends.

This job market still has a long way to go to recover from the financial crisis. A very long way.

In total, 8.8 million jobs have been lost since the recession started, and fewer than a third of those have been recovered.

More than 13 million people are still unemployed, and 43% of them have been out of work for more than six months.

Plus the current unemployment rate of 8.6% isn't even as good as it seems. That's because a big part of the rate decrease is due to more than 300,000 discouraged workers giving up entirely on their job searches and simply dropping out of the workforce. It's not due to job creation.

Speaking of job creation, employers added only 120,000 jobs in October. That's well below what economists say is needed just to keep up with population growth.

So numbers aside, the job outlook remains pretty bleak. Add in the disastrous housing market and the European debt crisis, which could pull our economy down even further, and Obama has his work cut out for him.

A recent CNN-Opinion Research Corporation poll shows only 15% of Americans say economic conditions are good. Six out of seven people say conditions are poor, with a majority saying "very poor."

Here's my question to you: No president since FDR has won re-election with unemployment over 7.2%. Is President Obama doomed?

Tune in to "The Situation Room" at 5 p.m. ET to see if Jack reads your answer on the air.

And we'd love to know where you're writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Posted by
Filed under: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • Unemployment
What does it say about Romney that he won't debate Gingrich one-on-one?
December 5th, 2011
12:23 PM ET

What does it say about Romney that he won't debate Gingrich one-on-one?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Mitt Romney is refusing to debate Newt Gingrich one-on-one in a Lincoln-Douglas-style debate.

Real Clear Politics reports that the conservative publications "Human Events" and "Red State" had locked down a date, December 19th, and a place for the debate.

They say Gingrich was rearing to go, but Romney turned down the offer.

It would seem potential Republican voters would welcome the opportunity to see the two top candidates answer tough questions face-to-face. Romney could benefit from the two-person format with his toughest opponent instead of the debate format where candidates who have virtually no chance of winning the nomination are included.

Plus it could be good practice for debates against Pres. Obama if Romney winds up being the nominee, which is appearing less likely each day.

So why won't Romney agree to debate Gingrich? Critics say he's "trying to run out the clock."

Gingrich will have a debate partner on the 19th after all. Jon Huntsman has accepted the invitation, while taking a swipe at Romney. Huntsman's campaign says the substantive format makes it hard for Romney to "hide from his record."

Romney could be making a big mistake by refusing to talk to the media, debate Gingrich, etc. The coronation he was counting on appears to be slipping away.

Gingrich now sits atop the national polls, as well as those in key early voting states. In Iowa, a new poll now shows Romney in third place, behind Gingrich and Ron Paul. In New Hampshire, another poll shows Gingrich has climbed nearly 20 points since October.

Meanwhile, there are reports that Herman Cain is getting ready to endorse Gingrich. If that happens, it's more bad news for Romney, who stands to lose more potential voters.

Here's my question to you: What does it say about Mitt Romney that he won't debate Newt Gingrich one-on-one?

Tune in to "The Situation Room" at 4 p.m. ET to see if Jack reads your answer on the air.

And we'd love to know where you're writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Posted by
Filed under: 2012 Election • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich
Has the time come for Herman Cain to just go away?
December 1st, 2011
04:00 PM ET

Has the time come for Herman Cain to just go away?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

At this point, it seems like a question not of if Herman Cain will drop out of the race, but when.

But the Republican presidential hopeful insists he's not making any decision until he talks to his wife in person. There's an idea. That happens when Cain goes back home Friday. He says he and his wife have spoken over the phone but not face-to-face since the latest bombshell dropped.

Cain also says he needs to re-evaluate his support and the effect that the latest allegation has had on fundraising.

The latest allegation, of course, is that of a 13-year affair with an Atlanta woman, Ginger White. Cain says White was just a friend whom he helped financially.

This charge of adultery comes after multiple accusations of sexual harassment, which Cain also denied.

Cain's wife, Gloria, rarely appears in public although she did an interview in support of her husband after the harassment allegations surfaced. But we haven't heard a word from her about White's claim of a long-term affair.

Herman Cain, who has been dropping in the polls since all this started to surface, insists he's a victim of character assassination. Nonetheless, he says we can expect a decision in the coming days.

It seems like the decision is pretty clear: Even if Cain stays in the race, it's hard to see how he'd ever win enough votes to be the Republican nominee.

Polls show Cain's support among Republican women going off a cliff. A new CNN-Opinion Research Corporation poll shows Cain gets only 12% support from Republican female voters. You can't win with numbers like that.

The poll also suggests Republican women are less likely to think Cain has the right personality and leadership qualities to be president.

Here’s my question to you: Has the time come for Herman Cain to just go away?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm 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.

Posted by
Filed under: 2012 Election • Herman Cain • Republican Party
Which GOP candidate – Romney or Gingrich – is more likely to beat Pres. Obama?
December 1st, 2011
03:55 PM ET

Which GOP candidate – Romney or Gingrich – is more likely to beat Pres. Obama?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It's a high stakes game the Republican nominees for president are playing. If the election was held today, President Obama would likely lose. At this moment he is vulnerable and then some.

A recent Gallup Poll puts President Obama's approval rating almost three years into his first term lower than any other president in modern history...including Jimmy Carter. That's being vulnerable and then some. Jimmy Carter?

Gallup has President Obama's approval at 43%. The only other president in modern times with an approval rating almost that low was Lyndon Johnson - 44%... and he didn't run for a second term.

Over on the Republican side, Newt Gingrich has to be scaring the hell out of long-time presumed nominee Mitt Romney.

Gingrich has jumped to the top of the pack in national polls - and he's leading in key early voting states like Iowa and South Carolina.

And check out these numbers in the critical swing state of Florida:

A new American Research Group poll shows Gingrich with 50% to Romney's 19%. That's a 39-point jump for Gingrich since last month. If numbers like these hold in a state like Florida, it may be difficult for any of the other candidates to touch Gingrich.

Actually at this point it's probably safe to say the Republican nomination boils down to a race between Romney and Gingrich.

A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows 40% of Republicans think Romney has the best chance of beating President Obama. 21% say Gingrich. But maybe this particular poll didn't ask you... so we will.

Here’s my question to you: Which Republican candidate – Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich – is more likely to beat President Obama?

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.

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