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CNN Student News Transcript: February 27, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Explore the details and concerns surrounding a federal budget proposal
  • Consider how the economic stimulus package could impact today's students
  • Discover the goal of a service project that takes U.S. teens to South Africa
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(CNN Student News) -- February 27, 2009

Quick Guide

Budget Announced - Explore the details and concerns surrounding a federal budget proposal.

Economy 101 - Consider how the economic stimulus package could impact today's students.

Journey for Change - Discover the goal of a service project that takes U.S. teens to South Africa.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Fridays are awesome, just like today's edition of CNN Student News. Thanks for joining us as we wrap up the week. I'm Carl Azuz.

First Up: Budget Announced

AZUZ: First up, President Obama offers a preview of his administration's first federal budget. If you've ever planned out your own spending and saving, this is similar, except with a lot more zeroes. President Obama says the proposed budget will help cut down the country's deficit, which could reach $1.7 trillion by October. But some lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats, say the budget is full of "wasteful spending." Samantha Hayes breaks it down for us.


SAMANTHA HAYES, CNN REPORTER: It's President Obama's blueprint for America's fiscal future at a time when economic crisis requires compromise.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We will each and every one of us have to compromise on certain things we care about, but which we simply cannot afford right now.

HAYES: The first budget request of the Obama administration, over $3.5 trillion for items like a $634 billion reserve fund to overhaul the nation's health care system.

OBAMA: It's a step that will not only make families healthier and companies more competitive, but over the long term, it will also help us bring down our deficit.

HAYES: Other major items: over $200 billion for U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and cuts aimed at slicing a record federal deficit in half by 2013.

PETER ORSZAG, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: All told, there's $2 trillion in deficit reduction contained in this budget; roughly a trillion in reduced spending compared to the current policy path that we are on.

HAYES: President Obama also hopes to generate billions with higher taxes for wealthier Americans. That's among the proposals sparking objection from Republicans.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) MINORITY LEADER: The American people know that we can't tax and spend our way to prosperity. It's just the formula that appears the President's budget is relying on.

HAYES: The plan presented by the White House is just a working outline. A final, detailed version will be released in April. For CNN Student News, I'm Samantha Hayes.


Economy 101

AZUZ: A multi-trillion dollar budget. A $787 billion stimulus package. Some big money being talked about in Washington these days, but what does it all mean for the country's economy, and what does it mean for you? Earlier, I spoke with Poppy Harlow, of, about these measures and the possible impact on your generation. Take a listen.


AZUZ: The president has presented his budget. What does that mean?

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM ANCHOR: What that means, Carl, is what we're going to spend as a nation and where we're going to cut. What we're looking at now is just a record in terms of the deficit, and what that means is how much more we owe than what we have taken in. And what we saw proposed for the budget, it's going to do two things, President Obama said: Reduce the $1 trillion-plus deficit that we currently have and make big investments in the future.

AZUZ: All right, now you mentioned government spending, the stimulus package. We've heard this huge, gigantic figure of $787 billion. What's that all going for?

HARLOW: There are two components of this that I want to talk to you about, broken into two main categories: spending and also tax cuts. The goal, the White House says, what they can do through this spending is to create or save about three-and-a-half million jobs in this country. And in terms of the tax cuts part of it, in 2009, it's estimated that 97% of American households are going to see their taxes reduced next year. So, that is the goal as well: take the burden off on the tax end and try to get Americans back to work.

AZUZ: Why should today's students care about it?

HARLOW: Because they're going to need a job. If you are in high school right now, you may already have a job, a lot of kids in high school do. When you go into college, you're definitely going to want a job, if you can, to help pay for that. But also, you have to think about your parents. If you don't have a job right now, and even if you do, you rely on your parents for a lot of money.

AZUZ: We've talked about the stock market as an indicator of how the economy is doing, and when the stimulus was signed and shortly afterward, we saw it plummet. Since then, it's jumped back up. It's been all over the map. Why is that, if the stimulus is meant to stabilize the economy?

HARLOW: The best answer I have for it is that people really act on how they're feeling. Consumer confidence in this country right now is at a record low. You've seen some companies collapse, you've seen some big, well-known banks get sold at fire-sale prices. You've seen a lot of things happen in the past year that you may not have expected, and that scares a lot of people. And people really do act on their emotions sometimes more than they act on statistics, if you will.

AZUZ: We've had some students getting pretty emotional on our blog, and we also carried a sound bite from John McCain when he described the package as "generational theft." How could today's students wind up paying for this stimulus package?

HARLOW: Because when you borrow money, you owe it no matter what, and the longer you take to pay it off, the more interest is accrued. So, not only are you paying back what you borrowed, you're paying it back plus interest. The longer you take, the more you owe.

AZUZ: How can today's students, when they enter the workforce, avoid making the same mistakes that got us into this economic mess?

HARLOW: If you can't afford something, you just can't afford it. Don't necessarily borrow in order to afford it. It has to do a lot with just living within your means.

AZUZ: Poppy Harlow, anchor for CNNMoney, thank you for joining us today on CNN Student News.

HARLOW: You're welcome! Thanks for having me.


Web Promo

AZUZ: You can watch that entire interview on our Web site! While you're there, check out the Spotlight section, where you'll find links to more information about the stories in today's show. Free Learning Activities, One-Sheets, our blog: it's all at! So, make us your homepage, and have all these resources just a click away.


GEORGE RAMSAY, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Today's Shoutout goes out to Mr. Skaalerud's U.S. history classes at North Junior High School in St. Cloud, Minnesota. What is the approximate distance between New York City and Johannesburg, South Africa? Is it: A) 4,000 miles, B) 6,000 miles, C) 8,000 miles or D) 10,000 miles? You've got three seconds -- GO! A trip from New York to Johannesburg covers about 8,000 miles. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Journey for Change

AZUZ: A group of students about the same age as you recently made that trip, and nearly all of them say it changed their lives. They took part in a service program, one designed to help them change their own community by giving them a glimpse of life in a poverty-stricken part of South Africa. Soledad O'Brien details their journey.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: It took interviews, essays, recommendations and 18 hours to get these 30 kids from Bushwick, Brooklyn 8,000 miles to Johannesburg, South Africa. Bushwick is a poor community, and many of these children are on the receiving end of government aid. But on this trip, they'll be givers, volunteering in South Africa's shantytowns, where every single person lives in crushing poverty.

VOLUNTEER #1: Do you need stuff for school?

STUDENT: Yes, I need stuff for school.

VOLUNTEER #2: You need your stationary, you need your books.

O'BRIEN: Home is a tin shack. The toilet is at the end of an alley. There's no money for school. The program is called Journey For Change, and its purpose is to give kids from a troubled community plagued by crime and drugs and dropouts confidence, hope and opportunity.

MALAAK COMPTON-ROCK, FOUNDER, "JOURNEY FOR CHANGE": I thought by bringing these kids here and seeing what real poverty is, and also seeing kids who are dying to go to school, dying to learn, that they would then take advantage of not only of the blessings that they have in the U.S., but then use those blessings to continue to serve.

O'BRIEN: Malaak Compton-Rock is a tireless advocate and fundraiser for these children.

COMPTON-ROCK: You guys have done a wonderful job. I'm proud of you.

O'BRIEN: In South Africa, they meet children who lack everything: food, parents and something many of the Bushwick kids don't take advantage of: free school. And they experience a culture they never dreamed of. How will it change them, and will those changes last?


Before We Go

AZUZ: Great story. Now before we go, a gutsy granny serves up some home-cooked justice.

ELLEN BASINSKI, ROBBER-CLOBBERER: And I whacked him! And he came up and looked at me like, "Lady, why did you do that?" And I hit him again!

AZUZ: She hit him again! And you thought your granny was tough. This 70-year-old used her frying pan to fight off four would-be robbers! They fled pretty fast when she creamed one with her cookware, and they were arrested after making off with just ten bucks.



AZUZ: Guess that whole robbery idea didn't really pan out. Hope you have a great weekend. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.

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