Where do political contributions rank on your list of spending priorities?
June 27th, 2012
05:00 PM ET

Where do political contributions rank on your list of spending priorities?

By CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Many Americans are hurting - big-time - from a lousy economy. But that doesn't stop the politicians, shameless creatures that they are, from holding their hands out for campaign donations. It's an election year after all.

The latest scheme comes courtesy of President Obama who wants people to give him money in lieu of giving graduation, anniversary, wedding, birthday, bar mitzvah gifts, etc.

This new fund-raising tool lets those who want to contribute set up a gift registry to solicit donations from their friends and loved ones to give to Obama. This in lieu of a gift for your birthday or wedding. The name for this is chutzpah.

The website suggests this is a "great way to support the president on your big day. Plus, it's a gift that we can all appreciate - and goes a lot further than a gravy bowl." Sure.

As you can imagine, critics and comedians are having a heyday with this.

Jimmy Kimmel suggests it's a "great way for people to lie about getting you a present."

And one guy writes on the campaign's website: "M y 6-year-old just lost a lower incisor. he's going to be so excited when the Tooth Fairy leaves him an obama-biden donation receipt in his name."

Meanwhile the president, Mitt Romney, and the rest of them go right on asking Americans to give them money at a time when millions of Americans can't find a job and 28% of us have no emergency savings.

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


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Filed under: 2012 Election • Money • Spending
Instead of the Buffett Rule, why doesn't President Obama talk about cutting spending?
April 10th, 2012
03:40 PM ET

Instead of the Buffett Rule, why doesn't President Obama talk about cutting spending?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama's push for the Buffett Rule is nothing more than election year baloney.

And that's putting it nicely.

Fact is, if the proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy passes - which it won't - it will raise less than $5 billion a year in additional revenue - for the next ten years. This country, under Mr. Obama, is running $1 trillion-plus deficits annually. $5 billion a year is less than a drop in the bucket.

The so-called Buffett Rule is based on the idea that millionaires and billionaires, like Warren Buffett, shouldn't pay a lower percentage of their income in federal taxes than middle class Americans.

President Obama wants millionaires to pay at least 30% of their income in federal taxes. Senate Democrats are expected to vote on similar legislation next week.

This is all great politics if you're running for re-election. Divide the country along economic lines. Those nasty one-percenters versus the masses. Class warfare at its finest.

But there is no talk of cutting spending - spending which has added more to the national debt under President Obama in three and a half years than under former President George W. Bush in eight years.

A report out today says Obamacare will add $340 billion to the deficit over the next decade.

In a likely effort to get ahead of the criticism, the Obama Administration acknowledges that the Buffett Rule will do absolutely nothing to bring the deficit down and get the debt under control. They say it's all about fairness.

They're using it to talk about the wealthy - conveniently including Mitt Romney - paying their "fair share."
Republicans call it an election year stunt - which it clearly is.

Tax experts say the Buffett Rule would only further complicate an already complex tax code.

Here’s my question to you: Instead of the Buffett Rule, why doesn't President Obama talk about cutting spending?

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: President Barack Obama • Spending
May 9th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Should raising taxes be more of a priority than cutting spending?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Americans are paying the smallest share of their income in taxes since 1958 - about 23.6% - according to new analysis from USA Today.

During the 70's, 80's and 90's, Americans spent about 27% of their income on taxes. If we were paying that rate now, $500 billion in additional taxes would be collected each year. Yes, $500 billion. That's about one-third of this year's federal deficit.

Now, conservative groups are quick to point out that this fall in tax revenue is due to a weak economy and not just lower tax rates or tax breaks. Deficit reduction advocates disagree. Either way, you gotta wonder what this country could do with an extra $500 billion dollars right about now.

This report comes as President Obama plans to meet with Democrats and Republicans separately over the next few weeks to talk about reducing the deficit. Senate Democrats will go to the White House on Wednesday, followed by Senate Republicans Thursday. House Democrats and Republicans will come in the "next few weeks."

Back in December, a deficit reduction committee created by the president recommended cutting spending and eliminating tax breaks to trim nearly $4 trillion from the deficit over the next decade. So far those recommendations have been largely ignored. President Obama came out with his own plan last month that calls for $2 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases.

Republican Congressman Paul Ryan has his own 10-year, $4.4 trillion plan that calls for spending cuts and the overhaul of Medicare but doesn't mention raising taxes. We're still waiting for a third deficit reduction plan from the so-called Gang of Six a bi-partisan group of six senators - we're still not sure what that will look like.

Here’s my question to you: Should raising taxes be more of a priority than cutting spending?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Congress • President Barack Obama • Spending • Taxes
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
November 29th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

Black Friday stampedes, arrests and fights; what's happened to us?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The holiday season is upon us - and by the looks of things, we ought to be ashamed of ourselves.

Some of the behavior on display as Americans hit the stores for Black Friday deals was downright disgusting, including stampedes, arrests and fights. And it’s all in the name of buying holiday gifts for our loved ones.

Here are some reports from what happened at stores around the country:

  • In Georgia, a Marine reservist was stabbed when he tried to help stop a suspected shoplifter. The Marine was one of four servicemen stationed outside a Best Buy collecting Toys for Tots.
  • In Los Angeles, California, the Sheriff's Department had to temporarily put part of one shopping mall on lockdown after a fight in the food court.
  • An Indiana woman was arrested after fighting with other shoppers at a Walmart checkout. Police say customers were fighting about a person accused of cutting in line.
  • Another woman was arrested in Wisconsin. Police say she threatened other shoppers while waiting in line at a Toys R Us store. They say she tried to cut pass several hundred shoppers waiting in line. When she was confronted, the woman threatened to get a gun and shoot the other shoppers.
  • At yet another Wisconsin Toys R Us, thousands of people waiting in line rushed the doors when they opened. The store's employees had to lock the doors and call police. Customers waiting for hours reportedly chanted "end of line" to those just showing up.

Merry Christmas!

Here’s my question to you: In light of stampedes, arrests, and fights on Black Friday, what has happened to us?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Holidays • Spending
January 13th, 2010
01:42 PM ET

How much were banks to blame for the financial collapse?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Congress is trying to get to the bottom of the financial meltdown that practically brought the country to its knees.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/13/art.lloyd.sachs.jpg caption="Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein testifies during the first public hearing of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission on Capitol Hill."]
There were some tense exchanges on Capitol Hill today... with a bipartisan commission grilling the heads of Wall Street's top banks about who was to blame for the biggest downturn since the Great Depression.

The bank chiefs testified under oath about their institutions' mistakes that led to the crisis... things like the housing bubble, "new and poorly underwritten mortgage products" and "excessive speculation."

These banks bundled mortgages and sold them as investments. But when people began to default on the mortgages because they couldn't afford them in the first place, the bottom fell out.

At one point - Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein compared parts of the financial crisis to an earthquake and similar acts of God. Nice try. The commission's chairman - Democrat Phil Angelides - immediately pointed out: "These were acts of men and women."

The heads of three other big banks - JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America - also testified. They all tried to walk the fine line of owning up to what happened... while pushing back against potential government reforms that they think would go too far.

There's a lot of anger out there directed at Wall Street. Since the start of the downturn, seven million Americans have lost their jobs and more than two million families have lost their homes to foreclosure.

But the banks were given hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money to keep them afloat, and to this day they continue to pay out record bonuses. And they are making profits like they've never made before.

Here’s my question to you: How much were the banks to blame for the financial collapse?

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: Bailout • Goldman Sachs • Homeownership • Spending • US Economy • US Government Bailouts
November 24th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

How will your Christmas spending be different this year?

How will your Christmas spending be different this year? (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

With Black Friday right around the corner - retailers are hoping for a better Christmas shopping season than last year.

And there are some glimmers of hope:

One survey shows Black Friday shopping is expected to pick up more than 16 percent. The National Retail Federation says 57 million people say they'll definitely head to the stores this year - that's up from 49 million last year.

Some stores even plan to extend hours on Friday so people have more time to get in on the "door-buster" deals.

A new Gallup Poll shows consumer spending is up 11 percent from the prior week... Even more impressive is the comparison to the same week last year. Spending is down 7 percent–that's the smallest year-to-year decline so far in 2009.

That's something when you consider consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the U.S. economy.

There is also a big difference in how people say they plan to pay for their Christmas shopping this year. The same retail group reports an increase in the number of consumers who say they plan to use cash, debit or check cards. Credit card use is expected to drop by 10 percent.

The reasons include credit card companies reducing consumer’s credit lines and customers’ trying to lower their own debt as the recession drags on.

Here’s my question to you: How will your Christmas spending be different this year?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Filed under: Economy • Spending
January 9th, 2009
04:59 PM ET

$3.4B Homeland Security Complex Approved: What does it mean?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

In the midst of a recession, the federal government announced plans to build a massive headquarters for the Department of Homeland Security.

The 3.4 billion dollar construction project will be one of the largest in the Washington, D.C. area since the Pentagon was built in the 1940s.

St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C.

But this comes at a time of economic crisis. President-elect Barack Obama has issued a dire warning about the economy and has vowed to slash the federal budget.

So does the Department of Homeland Security really need a complex on a 176- acre site perched on a hill with panoramic views of the nation's capitol? Currently the department's 14,000 employees are scattered all across the Washington, D.C. area. Maybe the problem is just bad timing?

The location is on the grounds of St. Elizabeth's Hospital, a national landmark because it's where the first federal psychiatric institution was established in 1852.You can do your own joke here.

Historic preservationists have spent years arguing that the project will ruin the site and the National Park Service is still opposed.

It's not a done deal quite yet. The project still needs approval from Congress. If it moves forward, construction, which would last until 2016, would create 26,000 jobs.

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean that a $3.4 billion federal construction project can get approved during an economic crisis?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Spending • US Federal Government
January 8th, 2009
05:01 PM ET

Fed Spending: How Would You Cut It?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As a country, we are beyond broke. The Congressional Budget Office says the deficit this year will top $1.2 trillion. President- elect Barack Obama wants a stimulus package on his desk in the neighborhood of $800 billion shortly after he takes office. Predictions are that the federal deficits will exceed a trillion dollars for "years to come."

How can we cut spending?

Obama has a tough task: preach fiscal discipline to try to get Republican support (not that they've practiced anything approaching fiscal discipline for the past eight years), while at the same time, expanding health care coverage and investing in alternative energy.

The President-elect continues to talk about cutting federal spending, eliminating things from the budget, and so on. But the fact is that meaningful cuts are tough to come by. Unless you take a cleaver to defense and entitlements - Medicare and Social Security are the fastest growing drains on the federal budget - there's just not a lot of meat on the budgetary bone to trim. Plus government workers are civil servants who can't be fired.

At a news conference, Mr. Obama did say he'd talk about entitlements but not until next month.

Here’s my question to you: How would you go about cutting federal spending?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Spending • US Federal Government
May 9th, 2008
04:56 PM ET

Economy forcing you to cut back on spending?


FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The worsening economy is forcing half of Americans to cut back on spending.

A new Gallup poll shows 51% of those surveyed say they and their family have had to make significant cuts, while 49% say they haven't – yet.

It comes as no surprise that those being squeezed the most are lower income families. 70% of those who live in households earning less than $35,000 a year say they've trimmed their spending. That's compared to 51% of people who make between $35,000 and $75,000 dollars. Only 36% of those making more than $75,000 a year have cut back.

The top way for people to save money is by driving less, or buying less or cheaper gas – no surprise here with the national average now at $3.67 a gallon. Next, people say they're cutting back on travel and vacations, followed by food and groceries. Other ways Americans are saving include spending less on entertainment, eating out less frequently or buying only necessities.

Meanwhile, a separate USA Today-Gallup poll just out shows that record high gas prices are forcing Americans to drive less for the first time in almost three decades. People are making major changes in their driving habits – things like running fewer errands, taking steps to boost gas mileage, or seriously considering getting a more fuel-efficient car.

Here’s my question to you: Is the economy forcing you to cut back on spending?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Economy • Spending