Program Note: Tune in to hear Gary Tuchman's full report tonight on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/25/art.curling.economy1.jpg caption="Gary Tuchman learns about curling and the economy in Fargo, North Dakota."]
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/25/art.curling.economy2.jpg caption="Gary Tuchman tests out his curling skills in Fargo, North Dakota."]
Gary Tuchman | BIO
What ever happened to the days of low unemployment, a decent housing market, budget surpluses; a robust economy? Those days are still here! But likely not where you are. They are where I am right now. Fargo, North Dakota.
The currently frozen city of 98,000 people where the temperature is zero fahrenheit as I write this, has an unemployment rate not much higher than that.
In a nation where 7.6 percent of people are out jobs, Fargo is at 3.4 percent, a rate which is recognized by most economists as "full employment."
Thursday on 360, after our 10 o'clock hour, we'll bring you a special preview of "Black in America 2" – the second installment of CNN's critically acclaimed documentary.
After we aired "Black in America" last July, we got a tremendous response and the question became, "Now what?"
Well, now a black president lives in the White House. Americans elected Barack Hussein Obama just months after "Black in America" premiered.
Nov. 4, 2008 was turning point in the nation's troubled story of race. A milestone with the potential to change the way white Americans see black Americans, how black Americans look at each other and how the rest of the world sees this nation.
"Black in America 2" will air this July, with a focus on pioneers who are working in ways large and small to make a difference in the black community and to develop tomorrow's black leaders. Over two nights we'll bring you stories of people who are finding ground-breaking solutions to transform lives and to turn pain into progress.
In our preview Thursday, you'll meet children from one of New York's poorest neighborhoods who travel to South Africa - and are inspired to dream big dreams.
You'll also meet a principal who holds everyone accountable in his school - from students to teachers to parents. The results he gets shatter the usual statistics.
And we'll take you inside a privileged corner of black America.. whose members say they often feel invisible. They are the elite of black America - wealthy, accomplished and well-connected.
Each of these stories, in its own way, reflects President Obama's journey to the White House.
You'll be inspired and amazed. We promise.
See you Thursday at 11 p.m. eastern, right after the 10 p.m. hour of AC360°.
By Ed Henry
CNN Senior White House Correspondent
President Obama will ask wealthy Americans to deal with a tax increase and pay higher Medicare premiums to help fund a $634 billion health care "reserve fund" aimed at reforming the system, according to senior administration officials familiar with the budget being unveiled Tuesday.
The reserve fund will essentially be a piggy bank to be used only for reforming the system by cutting costs and trying to deal with the 46 million people currently without health insurance. The budget will leave the actual details of how to reform the system to be worked out by Congress, and top Obama officials are already acknowledging this is only a start - it will take more money to get the job done.
"This is a substantial down payment for health care reform," one senior administration official said of the President's plan.
In order to raise $8.1 billion for the health care fund, the President is going to ask 1.5 million wealthy senior citizens to dig deeper into their pockets to pay more for their own prescription drugs starting in 2011, according to officials.
This affects seniors earning over $170,000 a year who already pay more for Medicare "Part B," which covers doctors' visits, and will now be asked to pony up more for Medicare "Part D," which covers the prescription drug program created by former President Bush.
In order to raise a whopping $318 billion for the health care fund, the administration will raise the tax liability of wealthy Americans earning at least $250,000 a year by limiting how much they can write off for itemized deductions like mortgage insurance and charitable contributions.
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We're so tech savvy here at AC360°. At least, we like to think we are these days. So, we've got more goodies for you.
Don't miss Erica Hill's webcast during the commercials. Watch our WEBCAST
And take a look at our live web camera from the 360° studio. Watch the WEBCAM
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/02/25/budget.healthcare/art.obama.health.gi.jpg caption="President Obama tells Congress Tuesday night: 'I have no illusions this will be an easy process'."]
Tonight, we have breaking news on how President Obama plans to spend your tax dollars. He'll unveil his first budget tomorrow, but tonight we know about a big part of it. It has to do with your health care. CNN's Ed Henry will have the breaking details at the top of the program.
Meanwhile, the House has passed a $410 billion dollar spending bill to keep the government running through September, the end of the fiscal year. Remember President Obama urged Congress last night to make tough choices to lower the deficit. Well, the spending bill is $31 billion dollars higher than last year. CNN's Dana Bash reports that democrats are giving generous increases for everything from agriculture to Amtrak. And, though Republicans are blasting the bill, they are demanding $8 billion more taxpayer dollars to prevent GOP aides from being fired, which usually happens after the party loses seats in an election. That's not all. There are $7.7 billions in earmarks or pork projects. We're tracking the cash.
What do you think of the spending plan? Sound off below.
And, join us for these stories and more starting at 10pm ET.
Carmen Van Kerckhove
President, New Demographic
“Slumdog Millionare” won eight Oscars on Sunday night, including Best Picture, in addition to the four Golden Globes it won earlier this year. Its commercial success and critical success contradicts the long-held conventional wisdom about what does and doesn’t sell at the box office.
So, will the success of this film - a story about an orphan growing up in the slums of Mumbai - translate in Hollywood to an era of increased diversity of characters on the big screen? If the past is prologue, it’s probably best not to hold our breath.
Ready for today's Beat 360°?
Everyday we post a picture – and you provide the caption and our staff will join in too.
Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite!
Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:
U.S. Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) yawns while listening to U.S. President Barack Obama address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress February 24, 2009 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC.
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Defense Secretary Robert Gates is requiring officials working out the details of the next fiscal year's defense budget to keep their discussions "secret" and he's gone the extra step to ensure the secrecy.
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters Wednesday that those involved in formulating the budget for fiscal year 2010 have been required to sign a nondisclosure form "to create an environment in which the best possible budget can be built."
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/europe/02/24/france.ysl.auction/art.auction.afp.gi.jpg caption="Yves Saint Laurent's private collection was also auctioned off earlier this week"]
Pity the struggling rich who find that their swaggering homes no longer have the value necessary to help them raise more cash when suddenly they need it. But for some there is salvation. There are certain institutions out there interested in taking something else as collateral for new loans: art.
You are particularly blessed if you not only collect important art – it has to be good stuff, not your great aunt's oils languishing in the attic – but are the creator of it. Just ask Annie Leibovitz, the portrait photographer whose clients have included Walt Disney and Vanity Fair, but who has apparently hit the financial shoals.