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Bulls & Bears
This past week's Bulls & Bears: Gary B. Smith, Exemplar Capital managing partner; Pat Dorsey, Morningstar.com director of stock research; Scott Bleier, HybridInvestors.com president; Charles Payne, Wall Street Strategies CEO; John "Bradshaw" Layfield, Northeast Securities senior vice president, and Laura Schwartz , White House Strategies principal.
Trading Pit: Rudy vs. Hillary — Best for Middle Class?
Rudy Giuliani or Hillary Clinton? Which frontrunner would be better for the middle class in America?
Charles: Hands down Rudy! I'm worried about who the Democrats define as middle class. They will tax people making sixty or seventy thousand dollars a year out of the middle class. These people are going to be hit hard by taxes and will lose the ability to buy that flat panel television at Wal-Mart. If Hillary gets elected, your whole way of life is going to be altered dramatically.
Laura: Unlike Rudy, Hillary has a proven record. She's had over 35 years of advocacy, and has been on her own in the Senate for the past six years. She championed great education reform for accessibility and affordability, health care for middle-income families whose children aren't insured, affordable housing, and minimum wage increase. I think people are going to look at her and say, "She's the one that will keep my family moving forward during the next four years".
Gary B.: The only thing Hillary has really run is her own campaign. She's never been in a leadership role like Giuliani. It's really going to boil down to what America wants. If America wants smaller government, lower taxes, and things like choice of school, then they'll elect Giuliani. If they want some big nanny state then they'll elect Hillary.
Bradshaw: The middle class wants whatever is not Hillary. Rudy is better just because he's not Hillary. Her universal health care proposal will kill the middle class. President Bush helped propel this economy by using tax cuts. The Democrats are going to repeal these cuts, and this will amount to the biggest tax hike in history. The President wanted to cut spending for the first time in this last budget, but the Democrats said, "No!" Hillary is the worst thing in the world for the middle class.
Scott: Hillary panders to middle America by penalizing corporate America. Giuliani does the exact opposite. He doesn't pander to the majority block of voters, but instead creates business incentives. This means more jobs for the middle class. So absolutely Rudy!
Pat: The greatest threat to the middle class is the idea that you have to protect American jobs from globalization. This threat is stronger among Democrat, but you see it expressed by some Republicans as well. This is the biggest risk out there. We are the most dynamic economy in the world, and the middle class is the one that benefits most if we trade with other nations and continue to grow. Hillary has generally been pro-trade. Giuliani's party has generally been pro-trade. So as long as you get free trade going, either candidate will be fine.
Should the U.S. Stop Funding the United Nations?
Iranian President Ahmadinejad was just granted a visa to come speak at the United Nations. And not too long ago, Hugo Chavez was also granted the right to come speak. Is all the money the United States puts into the United Nations a waste, since the U.N. is bowing to these dictators? Should we stop funding the UN?
Bradshaw: Absolutely! We just don't spend a billion dollars; we also spend all the security. They have forty acres of waterfront property on the East River that could create billions of dollars for New York City. And it's not just Ahmadinejad and Chavez; look at what the U.N. did after Saddam Hussein fell. Money from the Oil for Food Scam was being used to kill Americans.
Laura: We can't vote out the countries we don't like and can't slash funding or stop funding all together. Even the Bush administration says that would just feed the anti-American sentiment around the world. In 1999, the Helms-Biden law required our U.N. assessments be lowered from twenty-five percent to twenty-two. We could perhaps cap our assessments further or put in a ceiling for what we are doing for peacekeeping efforts.
Charles: Forget the rest of the world if they don't like us! We're doing a great job and have done so much. We've given two trillion dollars to the world since World War II. We're always fighting wars for other people. They're celebrating 50 years of the European Union, and the only reason it worked is because we went over and fixed Kosovo. If they don't like us, too bad. If someone came into your house, kicked over your furniture, kicked your dog, and spit in your face wouldn't you tell them to get out?
Gary B.: It's not a good investment. If we're worried about our standing in the world going down, the UN hasn't done much to prop it up. Since it's been there, I think our standing has plummeted. All the money we spend doesn't seem to have gotten us anything. The U.N probably does some good so it shouldn't go away, but it shouldn't be here.
Scott: We should continue to fund the U.N. The bottom line is you keep your friends close and you keep your enemies closer. Most of the members of the United Nations hates America.
Pat: The UN spends almost $400 million a year buying American goods and services. So some of the money we give them does come back. At the end of the day the U.N. has issues they need to fix, but reform sounds like a better idea than cutting off all funding.