(CNN Student News) -- December 3, 2010
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Fridays are awesome on CNN Student News! And on this Friday, we're talking about sports; we're talking about politics; we are doing it all with absolutely no commercials. I'm Carl Azuz. CNN Student News starts right now!
First Up: Tax Cut Extension
AZUZ: First up, tax cuts from 2001 and 2003: Should they stay, or should they go? When they were passed, these cuts lowered everyone's taxes. But the debate has been whether these cuts should be extended for everyone. Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted to extend the tax cuts, but only for families that make less than $250,000 a year. If you make more than that, your taxes would go up. Democrats argue that the government can't afford to continue the tax cuts for wealthy Americans. Republicans say that not extending those cuts could hurt the economy even more.
Even though the vote happened, the debate still isn't over. The Senate has to vote on this, and sources have said that both parties -- and the president -- are trying to work out a compromise that could mean an extension of the tax cuts for everyone.
AZUZ: Another big issue facing Congress is the federal debt. That is how much money the U.S. government borrows to pay its bills. Earlier this week, a bipartisan commission announced some of its ideas about how to cut the debt. We reported on that yesterday. But what if nothing happens? What if the debt just keeps getting bigger? Mary Snow examines some of the possibilities.
MARY SNOW, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As European countries are roiled by spending cuts to stave off bankruptcy, the focus turns to U.S. debt. With a bipartisan panel commissioned by the president warning, "If the U.S. does not put its house in order, the reckoning will be sure and the devastation severe." At stake: a national public debt of nine trillion dollars. Panel member David Cote, the CEO of Honeywell, spells it out like this:
DAVID COTE, CEO, HONEYWELL: So, to put it into perspective, if you had spent a million dollars a day since Jesus Christ was born 2,010 years ago, you would still not have spent a trillion dollars.
SNOW: While there's debate over what and how to cut, to do nothing carries the risk of a collapsed economy requiring an international bailout like what happened recently in countries like Greece and Ireland. The question is, could the same thing happen to the U.S.? Even leading fiscal experts say it's impossible to predict, but...
MAYA C. MACGUINEAS, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: The whole world is watching right now. And the folks on Wall Street and who lend the U.S. money from around the world are watching what we are doing and seeing if we get our fiscal house in order.
SNOW: And Maya MacGuineas, the head of the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, says the U.S. doesn't have a lot of time to act. The risk is tied to U.S. dependence on foreign lenders, especially China. If those lenders don't see the U.S. as a safe haven, they could pull back. But Greg Ip, U.S. editor of the Economist, says the rest of the world has no interest in seeing the U.S. collapse into bankruptcy.
GREG IP, ECONOMIST: In the case of the Chinese, they're not buying treasury bonds as some charitable act. They're doing it to prop up the U.S. dollar because that actually makes it easier for them to export stuff to the U.S.
SNOW: Bottom line is, it affects everybody. If the U.S. has to pay more to borrow money, it trickles down to higher interest rates for everything to mortgages to business loans. And ultimately, that hurts economic growth. Mary Snow, CNN, New York.
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Today's Shoutout goes out to Mrs. Herman's social studies classes at Marion High School in Marion, Iowa! Which of these terms is a form of political punishment? Is it: A) Gerrymander, B) Reconciliation, C) Censure or D) Filibuster? You've got three seconds -- GO! A censure is an official reprimand of someone who's done something wrong. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
Rep. Rangel Censure
AZUZ: Might not sound that bad, but in political terms, a censure is a big deal. Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted to censure New York Democratic Representative Charlie Rangel. Rangel, whom you see here, has served in the House for nearly 40 years. Last month, he was found guilty of violating House ethics rules, including failing to pay some taxes. He apologized, but says he hasn't done anything corrupt and asked the House for fairness before it voted on the censure yesterday. As part of his punishment, Rangel has to stand on the House floor while the censure against him is read out loud.
World Cup Hosts
AZUZ: All right, kicking it over to sports, now. Who is going to host the World Cup, the world's biggest soccer tournament? We already know it's Brazil in 2014. As for the one after that...
SEPP BLATTER, FIFA PRESIDENT: ...organized in Russia.
AZUZ: Russia will play host to the tournament in 2018. It'll be the first time that the country is home to the World Cup.
BLATTER: The winner to organize the 2022 FIFA World Cup is Qatar.
AZUZ: And the Middle Eastern nation of Qatar will be host in 2022. It'll be that country's first time hosting, as well. Soccer officials said one reason they chose Qatar was because they're trying to help soccer grow around the world.
AZUZ: From futbol to football, American football. What a player did during a Washington state high school playoff game is getting a lot of attention. Check this out: Ronnie Hastie followed up this touchdown run by kneeling for a quick prayer and pointing to the sky. But then a flag comes flying in. The ref said it was unsportsmanlike conduct for excessive celebration. Ronnie's done this same kneel-and-point after every touchdown this season. Never gotten a flag before. But the rule is that players have to give up the ball immediately after a touchdown, and they can't draw attention to themselves. Ronnie says he wasn't; he was drawing attention to Jesus. But he also says that the refs are in charge, and he isn't planning to point to the sky after future touchdowns, at least on the field.
AZUZ: What a story, what a controversy, what an opportunity for you to sound off on our blog. Do you agree with the penalty? And if this had happened to you, would you have stopped praying after scoring touchdowns? Our blog at CNNStudentNews.com is anxiously awaiting your comments! I am anxiously awaiting the chance to report on them!
JOHN LISK, CNN STUDENT NEWS: See if you can I.D. Me! I was built between 1792 and 1800. I have two wings and 132 different rooms. I'm located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I'm the White House, and I've been home to more than 40 families!
AZUZ: Well, they say there's no place like home for the holidays, even when you live in one of the most famous houses on the planet. The White House is decked out in Christmas decorations, and an estimated 20,000 people will be invited to events there during this holiday season. First lady Michelle Obama opened up the doors at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to give everyone a look.
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: In many ways, this is really what the White House is all about. And I say this all the time, it is the people's house. It's a place that is steeped in history, but it is also a place where everyone should feel welcome.
Here at the White House, we have 19 Christmas trees in every corner of the White House. We have a giant bow made out of pipe cleaners. We have 350 pounds of gingerbread house that you'll get to see, that took our wonderful pastry chef Bill Yosses and his team an entire month to create. Over the last few days, nearly 100 volunteers from all over the country have been working so hard. They've been making all of the ornaments, they've been hanging the lights and transforming these rooms into breathtaking works of art. That spirit of kindness and generosity is really what the holiday season is all about. And it was the idea behind this year's theme, which is Simple Gifts, because in the end, the greatest blessings of all are the ones that don't cost a thing. The time that we spend with our loved ones, the freedoms we enjoy as Americans, and the joy we feel from reaching out to those in need.
AZUZ: Knock, knock. Who's there? Your principal, and he's here to check on your homework! Doctor Steve Perry, a high school principal, is dropping in on one family to try to whip them into shape. It's a special program called Education Makeover, and it airs tomorrow at 2:30 and 4:30 Eastern on CNN. Check it out!
Before We Go
AZUZ: Finally today, you know that expression "bend but don't break"? This little lady is finding out exactly what that means. The doorstop she's fighting ain't going nowhere! Yeah, it's an adorable animal YouTube video. And you have to give the puppy points for persistence. Emma is displaying some dogged determination here, even if her opponent in this epic battle seems lifeless. We'd suggest that the bulldog take on a doorstop her own size.
AZUZ: But it's possible that she'd just recoil in fear. We've reached the tail end of our show, but we'll spring back with more CNN Student News next week. Hope you have a great weekend. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.