(CNN Student News) -- March 19, 2010
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Fridays are awesome! And by the end of the next 10 minutes, you will be stuffed with commercial-free news. You'll see what we mean. I'm Carl Azuz. This is CNN Student News.
First Up: Health Care Debate
AZUZ: First up, a potential vote in Congress postpones a presidential trip overseas...again. President Obama was scheduled to leave for a visit to Indonesia and Australia on Sunday. That will wait because the U.S. House of Representatives might be voting that day on the health care reform bill, the president's top priority for the country.
Now, we've talked about the controversy surrounding the bill and the processes that Democrats have considered to try to get it passed. Now, the Congressional Budget Office is weighing in with some numbers. The agency estimates that the bill will have a full cost of $940 billion. It also estimates the legislation would cut the U.S. deficit by $138 billion over the next 10 years. As Brianna Keilar explains, that 2nd number is a hopeful sign for the Democrats who are trying to get this thing passed.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Why is this important? It's important because House Democratic leaders, as they go it alone without Republican support, because Republicans say this is a government takeover of health care, Democratic leaders are looking for support from within their own party. And they're having a hard time getting it from some of those moderate Democrats, many of them fiscal conservatives who say they're worried about this costing too much. They're worried about it adding to the deficit. So, that deficit reduction is key there. Just listen to what Speaker Pelosi said about these numbers.
HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI, (R) CALIFORNIA: We feel very strong about where we are in terms of how we proceed. The CBO report that we have that, again, speaks so eloquently. I love numbers, they are so precise. Speaks so eloquently to the savings that are there for the American people.
AZUZ: Republicans have been opposed to the Democrats' health care proposal. They argue that the bill won't cut down medical costs, and they say this new estimate doesn't change their opinion.
REP. PHIL GINGREY, (R) GEORGIA: This bill spends too much. It taxes too much. It costs too much. And as Senator Coburn says, it does not lower the cost of health care.
HOUSE MINORITY LEADER JOHN BOEHNER, (R) OHIO: Do everything that we can do to make sure that this bill never, ever, ever passes.
AZUZ: What has passed is a jobs bill; it's now law, President Obama signing off on the $17.6 billion HIRE Act, HIRE standing for Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment. We told you about some of what's in the legislation yesterday. Some critics argue this bill isn't going to do enough. But President Obama says the HIRE Act will help speed up economic growth. Ali Velshi now joins us; he's going to take a look at the impact that this bill might have on the country's unemployment situation.
ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT AND HOST: Let's put this in perspective. From the beginning of this recession, we started losing jobs in January of 2008. Just a few at the time. Take a look at what happened last year. About last January, February, March, a year ago we were at the bottom here. More than 700,000 jobs in each of those months lost.
Then we started to creep up. There were some anomalies, but largely, we got to the point where we had one month of job gains. Then job losses again. Lost about 36,000 jobs in February. So, we've seen the job losses stem, but the bottom line is there are still a lot of people out of work who can't get that work.
Now, let me just show you what this means. I've created a guy named Jobless Joe. And what the president's jobs bill means for Jobless Joe.
So, the government passes this program, which basically has $13 billion in tax cuts for people who employ new workers. So, the company then gets some of this money. They get a discount, basically, on the payroll taxes that they have to pay to employ, in this case, Jobless Joe or Jobless Jane or whomever you want. That's how this bill ends up creating jobs.
Now, let's talk about what that means. We also looked at whether this will spur companies to actually create jobs. A recent survey by American Express says that 42 percent of companies say the No. 1 reason to create a job, well, it's pretty obvious: customer demand increases. That's the reason businesses typically create jobs.
Eleven percent of companies say tax credits, like the one we saw signed into law today, will be influential. But again, that could move, depending on how big or how small the tax credit is. Five percent say it's access to loans. That companies, and particularly small businesses, have difficulty with credit.
STAN CASE, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Today's Shoutout goes out to Mr. Divis' world cultures class at Bellows Falls Union High School in Bellows Falls, Vermont! Based on area, what is the largest country in the world? Is it: A) Russia, B) Canada, C) United States or D) China? You've got three seconds -- GO! In terms of land area, we put the top four in order for you, with Russia right at the top. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Moscow, the capital of that largest country, working on two issues. Today, she's meeting with members of what's called the Mideast Quartet. It includes the U.S., the United Nations, the European Union and Russia. They're trying to create a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians. The two groups had agreed to hold indirect talks recently. But after a conflict over Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, Secretary Clinton says she's waiting to hear if those talks will happen.
The other issue she was there to talk about: a nuclear weapons treaty. Yesterday, Secretary Clinton met with senior Russian officials to talk about both nations reducing their number of nuclear warheads. If they can put together an agreement, it would replace an old treaty from 1991 that expired in December.
Is This Legit?
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Is this legit? The NCAA oversees collegiate fencing and water polo. Legit! It's not just basketball and football. The NCAA oversees dozens of sports in multiple divisions.
AZUZ: Because of "bracketology," this time of year, most people are focused on basketball. But some education officials, including Education Secretary Arne Duncan, are pushing an idea that might leave a few holes in the March Madness brackets. If players can't cut it in the classroom, this proposal would keep teams off the court. Kate Bolduan dishes out the details.
ARNE DUNCAN, SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: I want to reiterate my proposal to the NCAA that teams that fail to graduate 40 percent of their players should be ineligible for postseason competition. Frankly, that's a low bar and not that many teams would be ineligible. Over time, I think we should set a higher bar. But it is a minimum, a bright line, which every program should meet to vie for postseason honors.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Secretary Arne Duncan wants any school graduating less than 40 percent of its athletes banned from postseason play, citing a new study by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport. It shows 12 teams in this year's tournament graduated less than 40 percent of their players, including Kentucky at 31 percent, Maryland at 8 percent, and Louisville at 38 percent. The study examined NCAA statistics of four recent graduating classes, the last in 2009. Tennessee also falls below the line, but men's head coach Bruce Pearl defends his program, saying the problem starts far before students hit the college court. And sports reporters like Andy Pollin say educators may not like it, but it's the reality of college sports today.
ANDY POLLIN, SPORTS DIRECTOR, 980 ESPN RADIO: If the NCAA was actually concerned about graduation rates, they wouldn't schedule weeknight games that start at 9:00. The NCAA isn't concerned about graduation rates. They're concerned about basketball programs and they're concerned about the billion dollars that they bring in from this three-week tournament that everybody plays in their office pools.
BOLDUAN: The NCAA says it shares the concern over low graduation rates, but also said in a statement "basing postseason bans on graduation rates penalizes the wrong students."
When I asked Secretary Arne Duncan about how exactly the Department of Education can implement and enforce his proposal, he said they can't. This really isn't going to be a federal mandate of any kind. His goal is to raise awareness on the issue. Kate Bolduan, CNN, Washington.
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Before We Go
AZUZ: Now before we go, don't bite off more than you can chew. Unless you're just gonna shove it all in your mouth anyway. Of course, when you're trying to eat as much corned beef as you can in 10 minutes -- ugh -- this is probably the way to do it. Top prize took home $5,000, and all it took was 15-and-a-half sandwiches. The man behind the winning mouth was Joey Chestnut. You wanna watch out for Joey Chestnut...
AZUZ: ...because when this guy sees competition, he just chews it up and spits it out. Yeah, I know. We couldn't stomach the idea of leaving you on a Friday without a pun for the weekend. Hope you have a great one. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.