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STUDENT NEWS

Congress Tackles Payroll Tax Cut

Aired December 14, 2011 - 04:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


GROUP: This is Mr. (Inaudible) class from Fortuna High School, and you`re watching CNN Student News.

CARL AZUZ, HOST, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Well, it`s Wednesday, I`m Carl Azuz and this is CNN Student News. Want to shout out a big thank you to our friends at Fortuna High for getting us going today. First up, we`re headed to Washington, D.C.

Congress is set to start its holiday break at the end of this week. The lawmakers are looking to tackle a few issues before they leave town. One of them is the payroll tax cut. We`ve told you about this before.

This tax cut lets Americans keep more money from their paychecks. But it`s going to expire at the end of this year if Congress doesn`t act to extend it. Everyone seems to want to do that, but there`s some debate about how to pay for it.

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AZUZ (voice-over): The House of Representatives voted yesterday to pass a Republican plan that would extend the payroll cut. But experts don`t expect it to pass in the Senate, where Democrats hold a majority. And even if it does, President Obama said he`ll veto the bill because it includes other things besides the payroll tax cut. So things are getting pretty tense over this issue in Washington.

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AZUZ: A national law against using a cell phone while driving: now there`s not one now, but there could if the NTSB, the National Transportation Safety Board, gets what it wants.

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AZUZ (voice-over): This would prevent every driver in America from texting or making non-emergency phone calls. You couldn`t use a hands- free, though passengers could still use their cell phones.

There are currently nine states plus the District of Columbia where it is illegal for drivers to use a handheld cell phone. Nevada`s ban starts in January. That would make 10 states. And there are currently 35 states plus the District of Columbia where it`s illegal to text while driving.

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AZUZ: Now we don`t know if the NTSB`s recommendation will become law. There are many American drivers who do use the phone, so it wouldn`t be a very popular idea in many places, and it would be up to states to ultimately decide if they want to act on the board`s suggestion.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just the facts: The Kyoto Protocol is a climate change agreement. Its goal is for countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, which may affect climate change. The Kyoto Protocol was established in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997. More than 190 countries have signed on to the agreement. Some of the world`s largest greenhouse gas emitters are part of it.

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AZUZ: And that includes China, who is exempt from the Kyoto Protocol. It also includes the U.S. American leaders didn`t sign on for several reasons. One of them is that meeting the protocol standards would be tremendously expensive. That`s the same reason why Canada is now dropping out of Kyoto.

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AZUZ (voice-over): The country`s government made the announcement on Monday. Canada`s environment minister said in order to meet its requirements, either every single vehicle in the nation would have to be taken off the road, or the country would have to pay $14 billion in penalties. Canada is the first nation that signed on the Kyoto to now back out of it.

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AZUZ: Well, when it comes to next year`s U.S. presidential election, the Democratic Party already knows its likely nominee: President Obama. That`s why there`s been so much focus on the Republican candidates, who want to be the person who faces off against President Obama.

You saw that in yesterday`s recap of 2011 political headlines. Now Dan Lothian looks at what it`s like when a president runs for reelection.

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DAN LOTHIAN, CNN REPORTER: You have the campaign because your competitors out there, the president could sit back in the White House and let them tell their story, or the president can go out and actually drive the bus and define what it is that he has done for the country.

The president campaigns sort of two ways. He might have an event that has to do with the economy, and then he holds a big fundraiser in that particular city, in places, in Ohio, out in California, in North Carolina, so he campaigns through fundraisers. And then he campaigns also through events, where he can talk about what he`s done for the country.

It`s unclear how many, you know, states he will cover. But I think when the campaigns sit back, they`ll look at the key battleground states. They`ll look at places like Nevada or Arizona. They`ll look at North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, even Florida. And so you will see the president spending a lot of time in those states, because those are the states that could make the difference.

Huge advantage: you have the bully pulpit of the presidency. When he speaks, he gets the media following him. The president has Air Force One, and so he can travel around the country on this big airplane with all of the resources that come with that. The money is split between the campaign and taxpayer dollars, depending on what it is that that is designed to do.

Disadvantages: you have a president now who is no longer a clean slate. It was hard for people to point the finger at the president in the last campaign and say, you know, this is what you didn`t do. We have here on the record. But nothing really holds up like now, where the president has a record that he has to run on. He has to defend what it is that he did or didn`t do.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today`s Shoutout goes out to Ms. Phillips` literature classes at Fourth Avenue Junior High in Yuma, Arizona. Hosni Mubarak is a former leader of what country? You know what to do. Is it Yemen, Tunisia, Libya or Egypt? You`ve got three seconds, go.

Hosni Mubarak was the president of Egypt from 1981 through February of this year. That`s your answer, and that`s your Shoutout.

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AZUZ: Mubarak was forced out of power during a political revolution. It was a historic event, and the news coverage of it included video from CNN iReporters, people who were there capturing the news as it happened.

Here`s a look back at some of the significant moments from this past year, from what you could say was a first-hand view of history in the making.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So excited. I`m so proud to be an Arab today, for the people of Egypt who wanted (inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa, whoa, whoa! Oh, my God. Holy crap. Oh, my God, the building`s going to fall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole ground was shaking so much, it was -- it was unreal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was something that you would not wish upon your worst enemy.

JASON SAUTER, IREPORTER: And we`re currently being escorted by the local authorities here, down to the media area, so we can get as close to Buckingham Palace as possible.

GROUP: Congratulations, William and Catherine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re here right now (ph). We`re fighting for jobs. We`re fighting for freedom (ph).

GROUP: (Speaking foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it`s over. The tyrant is gone.

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AZUZ: And finally today, Spain has the running of the bulls.

AZUZ (voice-over): Scotland has the running of the Santas. Not quite as dangerous, a whole lot more festive. This is the annual Edinburgh Santa Run, around a thousand jolly old and young elves took part in the event and helped raise money for charity.

Male Santas, female Santas, Santas young and old. Anyone can come out for the run, though we assume that when you sign up, you`re required to dress as Old St. Nick.

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AZUZ: It`s probably right there in the contract: the Santa Clause. We know these puns "sleigh" some of you. Others of you are seeing red over them. Maybe we should just set them to music or chimes, like a jingle -- bells. Felt like we started at the top there and then just way our way down the chimney. For CNN Student News, I`m Carl Azuz.

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