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Bulls & Bears
Nine Months In: Is This Now President Obama's Economy?
Eric Bolling, FOX Business Network: It isn't President Obama's economy this week because bad numbers came out. Every time good economic numbers come out, the administration says the stimulus package and its fiscal policies are working. When bad numbers come out, it's because of failed Bush administration policies. We've lost a lot of jobs, over three million since Barack Obama was sworn in. We have the lowest amount of total jobs in the economy since March of 2004. But apparently, it's still the fault of the Bush administration.
Julia Piscitelli, Democratic strategist: You have to look at the previous eight years of the Bush administration. You can't really judge this economy just going back to Barack Obama's inauguration. You have to look at what happened in the previous eight years of the Bush administration. You just cannot compare eight months with eight years. President Obama is trying to fix an economy he inherited.
Todd Wilemon, NYSE EuroNext: President Obama supported all four Bush budgets when he was a Senator. He supported the TARP program, the $787 billion stimulus for pork projects, a $410 billion omnibus spending bill, etc. Barack Obama supported many of the policies that got us to this point, so I don't see how he can't take a share of the blame. Every part of the employment report was bad, and it's not a good sign for the economy or the administration's policies.
Tobin Smith, ChangeWave Research: President Obama said that $787 billion in stimulus was the way to cure the economy as opposed to tax cuts or cutting capital gains taxes. He wanted to create new entitlement programs and put them on the government credit card. It became his economy when he put in place all his new relief programs and fiscal policies.
Matt McCall, Penn Financial Group: President Obama was in a win-win situation when he began his term. If the market got better, he could take credit for it, and if it got worse, he could blame it on the last eight years. The last two months, when there were signs the economy was improving, he took credit for it. Now, with these bad September economic numbers, it's the Bush administration's fault. The previous two months, he kept claiming the stimulus was working, jobs were being created, when only a relatively small percentage of the stimulus money has actually been spent. It is President Obama's economy from here on in.
State "Public Option" Plan; Will It Ruin Quality Care?
Tobin Smith: This will close the door on quality care across the country. Every state that has tried to implement some form of a successful public option plan has failed. Look at Maine. In 2004, the state passed this big health care reform bill to bring health care to everyone in the state. In almost six years, it has brought health care to only 3,000 people. 139,000 are not covered. These programs just go upside-down almost immediately and in the end shut off more people than they help out.
Julia Piscitelli: Public option plans haven't worked in states yet. It has been tried in various forms in different states, which isn't a bad idea because the plans can be better tailored for a state's particular needs and constituency. Politically, a federal health care reform bill won't get passed without some form of a public option. My question to everyone who opposes a public option is, what's your plan? Should we just keep the country's health care system as-is?
Matt McCall: If a public option doesn't work in one state, multiply that by 50 to get an idea of what will happen under a federal public option plan. Just imagine if 50 states are each trying to implement their own policies with New York doing one thing, California another thing, etc.
Eric Bolling: If there are 50 individual state public options supported by the federal government, where's that money going to come from? Taxpayer dollars. What's the difference if you center a public option in Washington, DC or split it up between 50 states? You won't be able to get insurance plans across state lines, such as if you live in Maine where insurance is more expensive than say, New Jersey. That's one of the major problems with health insurance right now--you can't buy across state lines and state public options would only make this problem worse.
Todd Wilemon: You can see how states handle health care, because Medicaid is run by the states with its costs split with the federal government. And it's run terribly, as are the other two major government entitlement programs--Social Security and Medicare. About 40 percent of doctors don't accept Medicaid patients now. "Romney-care" in Massachusetts is way over budget with huge wait periods to receive care.
Former Obama Adviser Wants National Sales Tax: Do We Need It?
Tobin Smith: If we wanted Europe, we'd live in Europe. After national sales taxes were implemented in Europe, income taxes actually went up since the sales tax wasn't hitting everyone equally. Government spending exploded because they had this new stream of revenue.
Julia Piscitelli: It's a pretty fair tax on the middle class. If you have to tax, you should be doing it fairly.
Matt McCall: We need consumers to spend right now. 47 percent of households will be zero federal income tax this year. A lot of households that would be hit by a national sales tax, paying more on everything from cereal, cars, whatever you want to buy.
Todd Wilemon: A national sales tax would be cruel to American families. It takes money out of their pockets. It'll give more money to the government and only strengthen it, while weakening the power of consumers. It would have a bad effect on the economy.