Capitol Hill (CNN) - The candidates are talking economy, security, health care and the deficit. But we aren't hearing much about the other topic Americans say they care about the most: education.
Take a CNN/Opinion Research poll from January as proof. When asked if different issues were important for Congress and the president to tackle, more people said education was "extremely" or "very important" (83 percent) than terrorism (80 percent). And education received about the same response as health care and the budget deficit.
So where are we with education policy?
Capitol Hill (CNN) – We now have the first expense reports for the 112th House of Representatives. The 3293-page Statement of Disbursements shows how much of their office budgets each House member spent in the first three months of the year. We've read it (you can read yourself, here) and will bring you highlights this week.
Who spent the most? A longtime congresswoman ending her Capitol career. Who spent the least? A fiscally-conservative freshman from Illinois.
Listen to our podcast for more, including something few people realize: when the House put expense reports online two years ago it also cut back on much of the detail in those reports. We now know far less about what members are spending than we did when the reports were done exclusively by hand.
Listen here. Comment below or keep reading.
Capitol Hill (CNN) - There are few hotter topics in Washington or on the campaign trail than jobs. And we just got a new, gloomier report. To save you time, here's your cheat sheet to Friday's U.S. unemployment report.
Obvious headline: U.S. created just 54,000 jobs in May, below the meager expectations.
Bigger Headline: Average length of unemployment hits record high of 39.7 weeks.
Capitol Hill (CNN) - As families make their 2011 summer plans, we here at American Sauce are thinking about 2011 summer politics. The Medicare plan from House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, is a clear, early contender, to dominate town halls and political barbecues.
What's in it? That is our podcast this week. Listen here. Comment below. Or keep reading.
Capitol Hill (CNN) – How exactly is the Treasury Department keeping the U.S. going, after the country has hit the national debt limit? A debt limit means no additional net borrowing - at a time when the federal government pays roughly 40% of its bills precisely through borrowing.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner calls the answer "extraordinary measures". Financial juggling is another way to say it.
This week, American Sauce lays out exactly what the Treasury is doing to limbo under the debt limit and buy Congress about two months of time to find an answer.
Comment below. Listen here:
Or keep reading for the bullet points in print:
Capitol Hill (CNN) – President Obama rails against "tax cuts for the wealthy." Republicans passionately push back, saying the president wants to hike taxes on "job creators." Meanwhile, the spending cut knife and partisan debate hover over Medicare and Medicaid, two programs critical to many of the poor. Neither side admits it, but the massive budget battle of 2012 hinges on the age-old debate of rich versus poor.
The twist now: the gap between rich and poor in America is growing dramatically. Yet, few in Congress or the media tackle the uncomfortable topic directly.
Not so, CNN's American Sauce. This week we lay out exactly where things stand for rich and poor in the United States, the status of the middle class (what is the middle class?) and we have blunt conversations with a multimillionaire and a woman of more humble means who are neighbors in New York City.
The point is not to blame either side, but to take a sober look at a tremendous issue in politics and American life.
Comment below. Listen here.
Or keep reading for some key statistics on rich and poor in the U.S.
Capitol Hill (CNN) - On Capitol Hill, the end of Osama bin Laden is opening up a new chapter in the debate over the war he sparked. (See what Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Indiana, told CNN over the weekend here.) This week, American Sauce burrows into the basic and slippery question of "what is the mission in Afghanistan?" You'll hear a difference between how Presidents Bush and Obama described the objectives and how the military in Afghanistan outlined them to us last week.
Capitol Hill (CNN) - Where are members of Congress in week two of recess? Working more on their jobs resume. A sampling from Monday: Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-North Carolina, signed up for the classic tour of a manufacturing plant, Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-New Jersey, checked in with a local economic group (bonus points that the group has "Main Street" in its name) and Sen. Kay Hagan, D-North Carolina, tweeted from a hope-inducing announcement of a multimillion research/technology project.
Congress is certainly talking jobs and standing near jobs. But what are lawmakers doing about them?
In this week's American Sauce, we dig into issue number one. No, not the royal wedding. We look at: 1. What exactly could Congress be doing, right now, about jobs? and 2. What has this Congress done? What have lawmakers even proposed?
Listen to our show, devoted to substance over soundbites (with good music and a little snark) here. And comment below.
Capitol Hill (CNN) - What do you think the deficit debate is about? How to cut the $1.5 trillion deficit? The dream of, some far off day, bringing down the $14.2 trillion national debt?
Try: It's about what Americans want their country to be. What society and government will become.
In this week's American Sauce, we look at the congressional deficit battle big picture. How this money fight could shape American society and government for years. We focus on three larger issues in this fight and compare how the plans from Team Obama and the GOP's Team Ryan would steer the broader future.
Listen here. Comment below. Or keep reading.
UPDATED 4:45 p.m. ET with new HIV, Hepatitis, STD, TB prevention figure (below).
Capitol Hill (CNN) – This is not a simple deal, folks, but here is a first bottom-line American Sauce take at the cuts and some of the policy in this budget proposal. (The one funding government through September.)
Note, there is still some significant confusion about a few of the biggest numbers. Meaning, confusion within government itself. So read carefully.
Read the bill: here.
Listen to our American Sauce, "what is going on?" podcast on the budget deal here. Or keep reading for what others might miss as well as the biggest cuts and biggest budget increases in the deal.