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Bulls & Bears
This week Brenda Buttner was joined by Gary B. Smith, Tobin Smith, Eric Bolling, Pat Dorsey and Sarah Flowers.
"Pork" in Health Care Bill; Will It Make the Economy Sick?
Eric Bolling, FOX Business Network: It's bad! It's going to make us sicker. Honestly, I'm tired of government telling me how I'm going to work, how I'm going to play, and now, how and when I'm going to exercise! The bottom line: the health care bill was supposed to address the availability of health care and the cost of health care. It really wasn't supposed to go and tell me when I'm going to work out.
Sarah Flowers, Democratic strategist: It absolutely does get to the point of the cost of health care. This is prevention. What we're calling "pork" here, because it's a nice buzz word, is actually prevention. It's the tactics of how you make a healthier community and in the end, how you save dollars. We're talking about creating jungle gyms so that kids can go outside and play in communities where that doesn't exist. A poll of 1600 parents of two-year olds to 12-year olds reported that 41 percent of them said that the reason that their kid didn't get enough outdoor time was because they didn't have a local community park to go to. It's not about when people like us should go to the gym; it's about actual families in middle America and the resources they have to lead better lifestyles.
Tobin Smith, Changewave Research: In the United States, 20 percent of the population consumes 80 percent of the health care costs. That's an absolute fact. It's not little kids playing on a jungle gym. And the problem with this whole idea of "prevention" and "investing" is that if there is not a financial incentive and disincentive to use this, the healthiest people are the ones who are going to use these preventative things and it doesn't help them at all because they're already healthy. It is absolutely the wrong way.
Pat Dorsey, Mornringstar.com: Well we are the fattest nation in the world, and that's a fact. 33 percent of Americans are clinically obese and obese people do consume more health care in terms of diabetes and in terms of heart-related costs. And Tobin is right: those kids aren't consuming health care, but if they become obese and grow up, then they do consume a lot of health care. Will people just go out and use these jungle gyms without incentive? That's a debatable point, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and if you couple this with something such as: for example, smokers pay more health insurance than non smokers do and so you have obese people paying it. But the point is, if you do that and they don't have the resources available to exercise, you need both parts of it. This is at least a step in the right direction.
Gary B. Smith, thechartman.com: The people sitting in Congress really don't care about the health of the American population. When people were growing up in the 1920s, '30s, '40s, '50s there wasn't all these fancy jungle gyms and stuff. What my parents did was say 'get out of the house and don't come back for 8 hours and go play!' That's what my parents did! It's the parents' responsibility to make sure their kids are healthy; it's not the government's responsibility to coerce and push people into a healthy lifestyle. If the American people want to be obese, well then that's too bad but that's their choice!
Government Makes $6.7 Billion From Banks Paying Back TARP: Time to Pay Back the Taxpayers or Let the Government Use the Money?
Gary B. Smith: The hubris of people like Barney Frank to think: a.) that they can originally spend the TARP money however they want and b.) when by the grace of God, some of it is actually paid back, spend it again how they see fit is just unbelievable! He (Frank) wants to give money to people who can't pay their mortgage. Well, you know what, if I'm sitting there and can't pay my mortgage and I get money, do I have more or less incentive to go out and get a job? Come on, this is just ridiculous and it's just big government all over again.
Eric Bolling: Here's the point: the money that's coming in is interest. It's not principle. We're still not getting paid back. It's like if I owed Toby $100 and I pay him $5 a week and he thinks he's paid back. He's not paid back yet. We're not paid back yet! Here's what they should do: with every dollar that's paid back, whether it's interest or repayment of the loan, it should go towards retiring the debt: un-print the money that they printed in the first place.
Pat Dorsey: In all seriousness, a lot of these programs are to help people who can't pay their mortgages right now. They honestly haven't worked very well. In the hierarchy of fiscal needs, I'd say this one doesn't rank very well right now and paying down some of our debt is probably a more rational use of these funds.
Tobin Smith: What they're missing here is that people pay their mortgages back when they put 20 percent down. We all know when you have a good down payment you're paying it back. For people who didn't do a down payment, guess what? They're not paying their mortgages back. We're seeing 60-70 percent of these loans go bad 6-9 months down the road. I mean, what's wrong with them failing, getting out of the house, and letting someone buy it who can actually afford it?
Sarah Flowers: I think this is a response to the frustration that was noted earlier that the programs that the banks are currently engaging with the people who are struggling with mortgages aren't working fast enough and there is a bigger problem. It's not simply that there are lots of people lining up who could buy these houses. We can't see the mortgage values of whole communities and whole neighborhoods go under. So we need to keep people who reasonably could take this short term loan and pay it back in the future, and give them a little bit of a break in staying in their homes. We bailed out the big banks that caused the problems and now we need to have some moral conscience to bail out average folks.
Gary B. Smith: I was never in favor of bailing out the big guys so I'm certainly not in that camp but thank goodness we have the efficient, effective United States government to the rescue again. I mean, they've done such a great job over the years fighting poverty and health care and stuff like that, and thankfully they'll be there to rescue us from ourselves again.
GM Out of Bankruptcy; Now Get the Government Out of GM?
Eric Bolling: Well, here is what GM has become: basically a welfare program that happens to build cars. Unfortunately this is what you end up with: a GM $50 billion, maybe $80 billion in the hole -- and they can't compete with Ford and they can't compete with Honda. The bottom line? It is the same old car company, the same old cars and the same old cars that people don't want to buy. By the way, the only ones benefiting from GM right now: the UAW and the CAW (Canadian Auto Workers' union).
Pat Dorsey: I actually think they do have a shot. I mean, they're not going to pay back the full $50 billion. They're just never going to be that profitable, so let's write that off right now. But we need to stop anchoring on the GM of 15-20 years ago. The company has shed a lot of debt, its labor costs and health care costs have come down considerably. The cars are actually pretty good; the Malibu beat the Camry at every test out there. The trick will be convincing American consumers that they've changed, that the cars are better and actually worth taking a look at. That is a wild card. Whether that happens, I don't know. But at least they've got a shot because the car structure is such that there is reliability; unlike two years ago when it was just a long path to oblivion.