April 26th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Does GOP have the right idea when it comes to budget?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It’s so far, so good for House Republicans when it comes to how to cut the deficits and balance our budget.

According to a new USA Today/Gallup poll, Americans believe the Republican Party is the party better able to handle the budget problems facing this country and to fix the economy. Apparently that six-month-long game of chicken they played with the 2011 budget really paid off for them. At least for now. However, a much bigger battle over the budget and spending awaits. When Congress returns from its two-week spring break and raising the debt ceiling is front and center, we'll see if popular opinion changes.

It might. According to that same USA Today/Gallup poll, Americans are split on whether the deficit plan drafted by Republican House Budget Chair Paul Ryan or the one proposed by President Barack Obama is the right path for the country. Two-thirds of Americans are concerned the GOP plan for reducing the deficit would cut too deeply into Medicare and Social Security. Everyone wants the deficit cut, but no one wants to cut entitlements.

But it's a topic that's not going away. Republican House Speaker John Boehner said in an interview with Politico on Monday that there might not be a deal on raising the debt ceiling unless Democrats agree to rein in discretionary spending and reform Medicaid and Medicare. Things could get very ugly very quickly when Congress reconvenes.

Here’s my question to you: Do the Republicans have the right idea when it comes to the budget?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Budget cuts • Economy • GOP • Government • Republican Party • Republicans
April 12th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

What should Pres. Obama say in tomorrow's budget speech?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Without question, it's the most serious problem facing this country. And if it isn't addressed in a meaningful way and soon, we're not going to have a country.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/04/12/art.obama.flag.jpg caption=""]
We're talking about the national debt at $14.3 trillion. Annual deficits of $1.5 trillion. And the inability of our federal government to even go near addressing this stuff in a meaningful way.

It took the threat of government shutdown to get them to free a paltry $38.5 billion dollars in cuts for this year's budget. That's chump change.

Critics say that President Obama has failed to lead on this issue. Perhaps until now. He's scheduled to give what is billed as a major speech tomorrow on our budget crisis. This is the same President Obama who appointed a deficit reduction commission almost a year ago and then has ignored their recommendations which were given to him last December, conveniently after the midterm elections. Tomorrow however, he is expected to release his plan to reduce the deficit which will build on those recommendations. It's about time.

Like them or not, if it wasn't for the pressure being brought to bear on this subject by the Tea Party, my guess is Washington would just continue to kick the can down the road. Tomorrow's speech could be a defining moment for the president. If Americans are not convinced that he and the Congress take our economic crisis as seriously as the rest of us do, they may all be looking for a job in 18 months. And maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing either.

Here's my question to you: What should the president say in his budget speech tomorrow?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Budget cuts • President Barack Obama
February 28th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Will the federal government ever agree to meaningful spending cuts?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Democratic and Republican lawmakers returned to work today and they've got a big deadline looming.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/02/28/art.budget.jpg caption="President Obama unveiled his 2012 budget earlier this month."]
If Congress doesn't reach an agreement on spending cuts by Friday, the government will face a shutdown for the first time in 15 years.

The House already approved $61 billion in spending cuts in a measure passed earlier this month, but Senate Democrats have said that the proposed cuts go too far and that they will not vote in favor of them.

So the Republicans have proposed an interim spending plan that would give Congress a two-week extension. It would involve just $4 billion in cuts and would keep the government funded until March 18.

I wonder if they'll ever stop playing games and actually address our country's fiscal condition in a serious way.

Our national debt has now surpassed $14 trillion - a staggering sum that will never be repaid. And every day the government refuses to do anything about it, it just gets larger. We are bankrupt.

This weekend, Speaker of the House John Boehner called the national debt a "moral threat" to this country and said people "better start praying."

It will take more than prayers. It will take guts… the kind being displayed by people like the governors of Wisconsin and New Jersey.

Here’s my question to you: Do you think the federal government will ever agree to meaningful cuts in spending?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Budget cuts • Government • Spending
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.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/02/08/art.obama.jpg caption=""]
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?


Filed under: Budget cuts • Deficit • President Barack Obama
December 13th, 2010
04:10 PM ET

How serious is Pres. Obama about cutting the deficit?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

When President Obama announced the formation of the deficit reduction commission, he looked at us all with a straight face and said he was serious about tackling the country's skyrocketing deficits and $13 trillion plus national debt.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/12/13/art.obama.jpg caption=""]
Apparently that was just another "feel good" moment that meant absolutely nothing.

In addition to agreeing with the Republicans to add another $900 billion or so to the national debt by extending the Bush tax cuts, President Obama is also refusing his own deficit reduction commission's call for a summit with congressional leaders to tackle the debt crisis.

One person who attended the deficit meeting last week tells Politico that members of the administration who attended - including White House budget director and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, "didn't exactly jump at the idea."

The commission recently voted 11-to-7 to cut nearly $4 trillion in deficits over the next nine years through spending cuts and tax increases. But they were short the necessary 14 votes to formally recommend any of this stuff to Congress - which can now give the whole idea a wink and a nod as we spiral ever closer to insolvency.

Not only has the president rejected the idea of a summit on the national debt; he couldn't even be bothered to attend the meeting last Thursday.

Needless to say, committee members were annoyed. One Democrat tells CNN the president should have at least dropped by... you think?

President Obama is either getting some very bad advice these days, or his once-keen political instincts have completely deserted him.

Here’s my question to you: How serious is President Obama about cutting the deficit?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Budget cuts • Deficit • President Barack Obama
November 29th, 2010
05:56 PM ET

Deficit commission a pointless exercise?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama's deficit commission may be dead on arrival.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/11/29/art.disappointed.obama.jpg caption=""]
Apparently the differences among members are so great that the toothless, bipartisan commission canceled its last scheduled meeting tomorrow. Instead, they'll meet one-on-one and try to twist some more arms before the panel's final recommendations are due Wednesday.

A piece on Politico.com asks if the panel was doomed from the start. After months of reports about how bitterly divided the commission members are - it's hard to imagine that 14 of the 18 members will come to a consensus on much of anything meaningful.

And, this being Washington, there's plenty of finger pointing to go around.

There are the Republicans who co-sponsored the bill to create this commission and then voted against it.

Some even wonder if President Obama himself designed the commission to fail... to save him from making the tough decisions.

He set the December 1 deadline - which meant decisions about the deficit wouldn't factor into the midterm elections. Also, the president has ruled out tax increases for 98 percent of taxpayers.

As for the panel itself, Republican members have made it clear they don't want to consider tax increases... while Democrats don't want to touch Social Security - leaving precious little common ground.

All this makes it increasingly difficult to believe this commission will make a serious dent in our $13 trillion-plus deficit.

Nonetheless, some close to the commission are sounding upbeat - saying they've made significant progress in the last week and that they've "got a chance."

Don't bet on it.

Here’s my question to you: Was the deficit commission a pointless exercise from the start?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Budget cuts • Deficit
October 26th, 2010
05:54 PM ET

Spending cuts in U.S. lead to what we’re seeing in France?



From CNN's Jack Cafferty

Take a good look at what's going on in Europe, because we just might be next:

As France tightens its fiscal belt, protesters continue to take to the streets.

Earlier today, the French Senate passed the final draft of a bill that raises the minimum age for retirement from 60 to 62, and raises the full retirement age from 65 to 67.

This pension reform measure, which is expected to become law next month, has drawn more than a million protesters.

Unions have walked out on refineries, choking the nation's oil supply. There have been strikes at major ports, disrupted train service and garbage collection. More than 9,000 tons of rotting garbage are piled up in the streets of Marseilles alone.

Students have also come out by the thousands to demonstrate against the government cut-backs. In all, it's estimated these strikes are costing France's economy more than $500 million a day.

And it's not unlike what we saw last spring and summer in Greece, where tens of thousands protested sweeping reforms there, including cuts in pension benefits and increasing the retirement age to 65.

Union protests disrupted plane, ferry and public transport service and public offices were shut.

Meanwhile, despite all the budget cutting, it probably still won't be enough. Experts say Greece is likely to default over the next three years.

There's a lesson in all this for the U.S. If our leaders want to get serious about this nation's staggering deficits, they're going to have to make tough cuts – to things like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. They're going to have to raise taxes – maybe a lot – and perhaps raise the retirement age. In other words, it could get very, very ugly.

Here’s my question to you: Will spending cuts in the U.S. lead to the kind of thing we're seeing in France?

Interested to see which ones made it on air?

Filed under: Budget cuts • US Economy
July 8th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

$20 million for centers devoted to Specter and Murtha?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Like most everywhere else, in Pennsylvania - times are tough. But you wouldn't necessarily know it by looking at parts of the state's new $28 billion budget.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/08/art.specter.murtha.jpg caption="FILE PHOTOS: Arlen Specter (l) and John Murtha (r)"]
Governor Ed Rendell is planning to borrow $20 million dollars to pay for new public buildings to be named after Senator Arlen Specter and the late Congressman John Murtha.

The Democratic governor is setting aside $10 million for the Specter Library at Philadelphia University...

He's also earmarking another $10 million for the Murtha Center for Public Policy at the University of Pittsburgh. Murtha represented the people of Pennsylvania for 36 years - he died this winter.

And there are other pet construction projects... in all - they total $600 million - all paid for with borrowed money.

This comes as Pennsylvania is taking a scalpel to its budget due to the recession. Social services, for example, are being cut - including those for autism, mental health services, and family crisis. Aid to public libraries is also being cut by nine percent.

So it's no surprise Governor Rendell is coming under fire for spending millions in borrowed money on a library for Arlen Specter.

But the governor says these construction projects are a way to keep more Pennsylvania residents employed and to keep the state's economy "humming."
Here’s my question to you: Is now the time for Pennsylvania to borrow $20 million for centers devoted to Arlen Specter and John Murtha?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Budget cuts
May 10th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

What services are you worried your state will cut?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Coming soon to a state near you: Painful spending cuts.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/05/10/art.pledge.jpg caption=""]
A piece on CNNMoney.com suggests that although states have been struggling with huge budget gaps since 2008, federal stimulus funds have helped them avoid making some tough cuts.

But this year those federal dollars will be drying up - and the cuts ahead could be brutal: Think education and health programs, like Medicaid.

You see, states are required to balance their budgets; and for the past couple years, they've been getting help from the stimulus package.

To make matters worse, many states have already slashed services and used up their rainy day funds to balance their budgets.

As for money coming in, there are estimates that income tax revenue from this past April is likely to drop - a lot.

States are hoping Congress will renew some of the stimulus provisions - especially increased funding for Medicaid.

Without that federal money - states will be hurting. Big time.

For example, Pennsylvania would have to slash half its funding for domestic violence and rape crisis services, cut 25 percent from the budget for child welfare services, and reduce payments to hospitals, doctors and nursing homes.

As for education, 275,000 jobs could be eliminated nationwide due to budget cuts - which would pretty much wipe out the approximately 300,000 jobs saved by the stimulus bill.

Here in New York state - as many as 15,000 teachers could lose their jobs.

Here’s my question to you: What services are you worried your state will cut?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Budget cuts