(CNN Student News) -- April 15, 2011
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Yesterday was Thursday, Thursday. Today is Friday, Friday. And you know what that means. CNN Student News is breaking down everything from budgets to baseball.
AZUZ: It's Financial Literacy Month. Monday is tax day. Debate's raging about the government's budget -- you know we're starting with a money story. First things first: The U.S. House voted yesterday on the 2011 budget, which runs through this September. The Bill would cut around $38 billion from what the government will spend this year. Its next stop was the Senate and you can go to CNN.com for the latest update on this Bill. Remember, it has to pass both the House and the Senate before the president can sign it into law. And all of this is just for the remaining few months in the 2011 budget. There's an even bigger fight brewing over the 2012 budget. Democrats, led by the president, and Republicans, who lead U.S. the House of Representatives, don't see eye-to-eye on how much the government should spend, or tax. Mary Snow dives into their differences.
MARY SNOW, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He said it before and President Obama vowed again not to extend Bush-era tax cuts for families making more than $250,000 a year.
U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We cannot afford $1 trillion worth of tax cuts for every millionaire and billionaire in our society.
SNOW: If those tax cuts are not renewed, it would mean that taxes would go up for about 2 percent of the population, the president calls them the richest Americans. But budget experts say it's not enough to help lower the deficit, even with spending cuts.
Here's a hypothetical scenario. The Congressional Budget Office crunched the numbers, if taxes were raise 1 percentage point for people in the top two tax brackets, it would amount to $115 billion over a decade.
But raise taxes by that same amount, 1 percentage point, on all the other brackets, and it comes to just under $500 billion.
CNN Money's Jeanne Sahadi says there are other reasons why the richest Americans cannot generate the kind of revenue that is need.
JEANNE SAHADI, SENIOR WRITER, CNNMONEY.COM: The income of the very wealthy tends to be more volatile than the income of most people because it's tied up with investments. And when the economy goes south, often their income gets hurt. So you're not going to get as much revenue from them as you might expect, especially when you need it in a downturn. And two, there are just not that many rich people. As much as we think there are a lot of them, they're not enough to carry the country in terms of deficit reduction.
SNOW: But with the 2012 presidential election around the corner, budget experts say no one wants to raise taxes on the middle class. Ron Haskins, who served as a senior adviser on welfare policy to President George W. Bush, says both Democrats and Republicans are wrong.
RON HASKINS, SENIOR ECONOMIC FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Republicans are betting that if they say no new taxes, the American people will like that and we'll try to do it all on the spending side. The problem is spending affects the American public, too. A lot of people are going to lose their benefits. And Democrats say we'll just tax the rich and not the middle class, but that won't produce enough revenue, so that's not going to work either.
SNOW: And if the last fight over the Bush-era tax cuts is any indication this will be a fierce battle, the president had vowed many times not to extend tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans, but in December he did. He said he did so in order to prevent a tax hike on middle class Americans. Mary Snow, CNN, New York.
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: See if you can ID Me! I'm a U.S. government agency that officially got off the ground in 1958. Whenever you fly in America, you fly under my rules. My mission is to provide the world's safest and most efficient aerospace system. I'm the FAA, the Federal Aviation Administration.
AZUZ: Big change coming at the FAA. The man in charge, Hank Krakowski, quit his job yesterday because he's ultimately responsible for his employees, and several them have fallen asleep at work this year! We're talking about air traffic controllers -- the folks responsible for directing planes when to take off or land and keeping tabs on weather conditions. They've fallen asleep on the job at least six times this year. And while no accidents or crashes have happened because of it, the FAA is taking action. It's reviewing employee schedules. In some cases, it's making sure that at least two air traffic controllers are on the job during midnight shifts -- right now, some towers have only one.
AZUZ: The gusty, dry winds blowing across Texas aren't making this any better. They're fanning the flames of a number of wildfires, which have burned hundreds of thousands of acres, destroyed homes and businesses, threatened animals. Firefighters have some of the fires under control. They're using everything from hoses to planes to get water on these flames. Different kind of danger forecast for the plains states and the south. A powerful storm system is sweeping across the states from west to east and severe thunderstorms are expected to be part of it.
AZUZ: You might know that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for Americans ages 13 to 19. But a study just found that reckless driving and alcohol aren't the main reasons for the crashes involving teens. Driver error is. Three of the common mistakes the study found: Not scanning around you well enough. Driving too fast for road conditions -- this isn't necessarily speeding, though. And getting distracted while driving. To be safer, researchers suggest learning to look far ahead, behind, and around your car. Adjust your speed to the weather, traffic, and road conditions. And don't get sidetracked by your friends or your cell phone.
MATT CHERRY, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! Who was the first African-American to play in baseball's major leagues? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Jackie Robinson, B) Ernie Banks, C) Satchel Paige or D) Willie Mays? You've got three seconds -- GO! Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier in the 1940s. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: Today is "Jackie Robinson Day": It's the 64th anniversary of Robinson's first game with the Brooklyn Dodgers -- of any African-American's first game in Major League Baseball. Brooklyn Dodgers' vice president, Branch Rickey, chose Robinson to integrate the sport. It was a controversial first in those days. And as Ed Henry tells us, for Rickey, it was a leap of faith.
ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Branch Rickey's decision to hire Jackie Robinson as the first African-American baseball player opened doors that changed sports and politics forever. And the details are etched in the memory of Ken Burns who did the definitive 18 1/2-hour PBS documentary on baseball.
KEN BURNS, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER: One of the finest moments in all of American history, not just sports history, but American history, when on April 15th, 1947, a black man, wearing the number 42, trotted out to first base at Ebbets Field.
HENRY: But we've learned a detail about this historic decision that, until now, was not known by Jackie Robinson's widow, Branch Rickey's grandson or even Ken Burns.
You have never heard this story?
BURNS: I haven't.
HENRY: This is new?
BURNS: This is totally new to me.
HENRY : It turns out just before signing the contract, Rickey secretly slipped into this Brooklyn church. The executive huddled with the pastor, Dr. Wendell Fifield, whose daughter-in-law is speaking with us about it for the first time.
DONNA SHOR, DAUGHTER-IN-LAW OF REVEREND WENDELL FIFIELD: He started pacing and he wore a groove into the carpet, he went around and around the room for 45 minutes.
HENRY: Branch Rickey III, now a Minor League baseball executive in Texas says his grandfather was deeply religious and determined to end discrimination but also fretted about taking on the institution of baseball.
BRANCH RICKEY III, PRESIDENT, PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE: Jackie became something that was not acceptable. I think my grandfather's reputation could have very quickly gone down the drain.
HENRY: That weighed on the Brooklyn Dodgers executive as he paced this room for nearly an hour, finally shrieking, "I got it," and slumping down in a chair.
SHOR: Branch Rickey wiped tears from his eyes and said, "Wendell, this was a decision so complex, so far-reaching, fraught with so many pitfalls and but still filled with so much good, if it was right. I had to work it out in this room and with you and I had to ask God about it."
HENRY: To protect Rickey's privacy, the pastor told only his wife who wrote a five-page essay that we recently found in an archive. The pastor's wife said she wrote the essay which appeared in the church bulletin with little notice after Rickey's death in 1965 so that Robinson would know how much Rickey struggled with it. But Robinson died young in 1972 and his widow, Rachel, told us the story never made it to her family until now and she praised Rickey's courage.
RACHEL ROBINSON, WIDOW OF JACKIE ROBINSON: He needed all the strength he could summon up, you know, to be able to take the step.
Before We Go
AZUZ: For sale: White House. Don't believe me? Check out the pictures. All six bedrooms, seven full bathrooms, gym, theater, elevator, party room for 100 --that would be a sweet sixteen! It took seven years to build this marvelous mansion. Just two things to keep in mind about it: It's not the White House. It's a white house, a replica built from blueprints of the president's residence. And it's out of your price range at $4,650,000.
AZUZ: It may not be historic, but its foundation is. And as far as White House replicas go, it definitely sets a president. See ya back here, on the other side of the weekend! I'm Carl Azuz.