October 19th, 2010
05:58 PM ET

Americans' negative view of federal workers justified?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

At a time when millions of Americans are disgusted with the federal government, a new poll shows low marks and negativity toward civil servants.

The Washington Post survey finds 52 percent of those polled say the 1.9 million federal workers are overpaid for what they do.

Seventy-five percent say federal workers are paid more and get better benefits than those working outside the government, according to the survey.

Thirty-six percent think they're less qualified than private-sector workers.

And half say that federal employees don't work as hard as those at private companies.

The poll also shows a deep divide along party lines when it comes to the views of the federal work force, with Republicans being more negative.

Republican candidates are latching onto this sentiment. On the campaign trail, they're using civil servants as examples of what's wrong with government - too big, too invasive and too much in debt. They vow to freeze pay raises and furlough federal workers if they win control of Congress.

Federal unions and Democrats describe criticism of "faceless bureaucrats" as scapegoating.

The government says it's hard to compare salaries in the private and public sectors because many jobs outside government are in low-paying industries while government workers are typically more skilled.

The good news for government workers is that of people who have interacted with a federal worker, the survey found. Three in four say the experience was a good one. Also, the survey shows younger Americans are more likely to give positive reviews.

Here’s my question to you: Is Americans' negative view of federal workers justified?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Taxes • United States • US Federal Government • US Government
October 19th, 2010
04:25 PM ET

Growing disconnect between states and federal government?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The legalization of marijuana, immigration reform and health care.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/10/19/art.pot.jpg caption=""]
These are just three hot-button examples of how the states and the federal government are increasingly out-of-step with each other.

Starting with California, the Justice Department is vowing to keep prosecuting people who possess marijuana there - even if voters approve a ballot measure that would legalize recreational use of the drug.

Attorney General Eric Holder says the administration "strongly opposes" Proposition 19 and will "vigorously enforce" federal drug laws should the measure pass.

Whether or not you approve of marijuana, California is bankrupt and in desperate need of money. Taxing pot might be a way to raise some cash.

Meanwhile - the federal government is going after states like Arizona, which are trying to do something about illegal immigration since the federal laws go all but unenforced.

The Obama administration is suing Arizona, claiming the state's immigration law is unconstitutional. A federal judge has put some of the most controversial parts of the law on hold... but Arizona's governor Jan Brewer is vowing to take her state's case all the way to the Supreme Court.

And then there's President Obama's signature issue of health care reform. It's been the law of the land for several months, yet dozens of states are now challenging it.

A federal judge has ruled that a lawsuit brought by 20 of these states can move forward. He says the states can challenge the constitutionality of the law's requirement for all Americans to buy health insurance.

Here’s my question to you: Why does there seem to be a growing disconnect between the states and the federal government?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


January 22nd, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Possible early difficulties for Pres. Obama?


Where is President Obama likely to encounter the most difficulty early in his presidency? (PHOTO CREDIT: JIM WATSON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Every president gets a honeymoon period. Some are shorter than others. But with an approval rating in the 80s, President Obama has lots of political capital to spend and presumably a long time before he runs out of good will.

That being said, he's in a precarious position right from the start. We are in the midst of an economic crisis that no one seems to have a firm understanding of, and there are heated debates already about the best way to proceed when it comes to bailouts, spending programs, tax cuts, etc.

Then there are the wars. Pull out of Iraq and step it up in Afghanistan. What if Iran comes into Iraq as we leave through another door?

We haven't been attacked in seven and a half years, but terrorism is still a fact of life. Global warming, health insurance, pick something you like.

Nevertheless, the new president is off to a good start. And this time we appear to be in the hands of someone less inclined to shoot from the hip. But even President Obama's coolness under fire will be tested at some point… either by domestic politics or foreign affairs.

Here’s my question to you: Where is President Obama likely to encounter the most difficulty early in his presidency?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


January 22nd, 2009
01:15 PM ET

Can Pres. Obama change the way Washington does business?


Can President Barack Obama change the culture of Washington? (PHOTO CREDIT: SAUL LOEB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama didn't waste time before getting to work and making changes. As he promised on the campaign trail, he is determined to make a clean break from the policies of the Bush administration.

So far he's ordered the closing of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay within a year, ordered all cases of terror suspects be reviewed, and banned torture.

The new President also issued a freeze on the salaries of senior White House staffers and implemented new ethics rules for staff who leave their jobs.

He promised openness and transparency and instructed his team to follow his example. This is a sharp contrast to the secrecy of his predecessors where it seemed the entire eight years was based on executive privilege.

President Obama is moving at lightning speed in a town that usually moves at a snail's pace. He wanted an emergency economic stimulus bill signed before his inauguration but was told by lawmakers it will take until February.

Here’s my question to you: Can President Obama really change the way business is done in Washington?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


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
October 24th, 2008
05:50 PM ET

What’s the risk of one party controlling Federal Government?

 Click the play button to see what Jack and our viewers had to say.

Click the play button to see what Jack and our viewers had to say.

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It's entirely possible the New Year will find the White House and the Congress controlled by the Democrats.

Virtually all the polls indicate it could be a big year for the Democrats. Some fearless forecasters are predicting Democrats could even wind up with the all-important 60 vote majority in the Senate. That would render Republicans virtually powerless to stop legislation there. Right now– the Democrats barely have the upper hand in the Senate– 49 Democrats, 49 Republicans and 2 Independents who caucus with the Democrats.

Watch: Cafferty: One party Federal Government?

In the House, Democrats hold a 235 to 199 majority with one vacancy. A 270-seat majority this election is probably out of reach but the Democrats are expected to pick up some seats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi predicts Democrats will control 250 seats when all the votes are counted.

And Barack Obama, another Democrat, is the current favorite to be the next president. So what would that mean for the rest of us? It means the Democrats would suddenly have the power to push about any agenda they want to–from raising taxes on the wealthy and cutting them for the middle class to steering more federal benefits to low-income families to expanding health care coverage to anything else they might decide suits their fancy.

Here’s my question to you: What's the risk of one party controlling Congress and the White House?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: US Federal Government