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Bulls & Bears
On Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010 Brenda Buttner was joined by Gary B. Smith, Tobin Smith, Pat Dorsey, Eric Bolling and Sarah Flowers
Crisis in Haiti Growing More Urgent by the Hour
Gary B. Smith, TheChartman.com: We're all at the end of the day, fellow human beings. We have to ask ourselves, "What's the right thing to do here?" It should be done regardless of the misgivings of some countries. The most important thing to do is help out the best we can with money, people and resources. I'm proud President Obama is working with other leaders to try and help Haiti out to the best of our abilities.
Tobin Smith, NBT Media: America has always been the most generous society for decades, going all the way back to the Marshall Plan. Today it's so much easier to do the right thing, like being able to send $10 to the Red Cross through text messaging. The success we've had in this country comes with responsibility. We do the right thing because it's in our heart and in our nature to do so.
Pat Dorsey, Morningstar.com: We have to distinguish between the people of a nation, and the government of a nation. Haiti has had many problems over the years. But pragmatically, giving this level of aid and assistance to Haiti is good for our brand. America isn't just a place, it's an image, it's an idea, and it's why we attract the best and brightest to this country. When America steps up, we're not only helping the people of Haiti, we're helping our own global image.
Eric Bolling, Fox Business Network: We committed $100 million so far, 10,000 troops, etc. Other well-off countries, like China, have only ponied up about $4 million, and a few dozen aid workers 'til now. When disasters like this happen, people first turn to God and then to America and ask for help. That's fine. My problem is that when a disaster isn't going on, we're the bad guy, until other people need our help.
Did Reid's State Just Prove We Can't Afford Health Care Reform?
Bolling: Harry Reid is on his way out. Nevada now wants to drop its role in Medicaid given its rising costs. Harry Reid is really just out of touch with what the people in his own state want, not to mention the majority of people in the country.
Sarah Flowers, Democratic strategist: All this proves is that the Nevada governor is playing political ball. He's operating on the assumption that most people in his state don't know specifically what's going to happen with health care reform. Ninety-five percent of all new costs will get covered by the federal government until 2014--plenty of time for states to figure out how they're going to pay for it. Not to mention, people will be able to access better care for less cost. This will help states out in the long run.
T. Smith: Nevadans know how to do the math. Nevada has one of the highest rates of unionized health care in the country. They can see the state will be upside down $800 million with health care reform. Nevada's governor sees this and, for obvious reasons, wants a deal like Nebraska got with all its new costs being paid for by the federal government. Otherwise, he wants the federal government to get lost.
G. Smith: The states only get half the funding for new Medicaid expenses. After 2014 all the costs fall on the states. The real costs of this reform are going to be incurred by the states, not the federal government. This is why so many states are opposed to health care reform. People are starting to wake up to just how badly they're going to get hit with this legislation, and I think we'll see more and more states threatening to take action like this.
Dorsey: Unfortunately, this bill doesn't do nearly as much as it should to reduce costs for health care reform. That's what really depresses me. There's so much in this legislation that should be there that isn't. Finally there's the political will to reform health care in this country, and Congress just totally misses the point. The biggest thing we have to worry about with health care is its rapidly rising costs, and doing something to help prevent this. But that's just not the case.
GM, Chrysler, Fannie, Freddie Not Paying Bailout Tax; Why?
T. Smith: The hypocrisy or stupidity on this issue--I don't know what's bigger. Let's look at the hypocrisy. The government said companies had to figure out how to pay back TARP funds within five years. The big ones paid them back in less than a year and a half. These companies played exactly by the rules. The government made money on the TARP funds it gave out. Most of the big banks we're basically forced to take the TARP money at gunpoint, and now they get hammered for it. It's ridiculous.
Flowers: This isn't the best deal out there. What's important is getting the TARP money, the taxpayer's money, back in full. Hitting Fannie and Freddie with this tax would basically be shuffling money from one pot to the other since the government already owns the two companies. GM and Chrysler are probably in too weak a financial position to start getting hit with a tax like this. It's very important we keep those two companies standing, especially given the taxpayer's stake in them. While they're still in the restructuring process, it makes sense to not hit them with the tax.
Bolling: The consumers are going to get hit by this tax. Banks will ramp up ATM fees, checking fees, etc. Consumers are picking up the slack. And this was the government's mistake for not ensuring TARP funds would be used by the banks to continue giving out loans to consumers. It's the government's fault for not ensuring that. And it's wrong for them to be hitting the banks like this after the fact, especially when they've paid back their TARP funds to the government's profit.
G. Smith: This makes my blood boil. This is a get re-elected tax. As soon as Obama says "Wall Street fat cats" everyone says "Yeah!" and riled up. Barney Frank said it's entirely legitimate to make banks pay this tax given the damage they caused to the financial system. And Barney Frank was key in encouraging Fannie and Freddie to expand mortgages to prime time borrowers. These banks paid the money back. The government has no business implementing this tax.