DISCLAIMER: THE FOLLOWING "Cost of Freedom Recap" CONTAINS STRONG OPINIONS WHICH ARE NOT A REFLECTION OF THE OPINIONS OF FOX NEWS AND SHOULD NOT BE RELIED UPON AS INVESTMENT ADVICE WHEN MAKING PERSONAL INVESTMENT DECISIONS. IT IS FOX NEWS' POLICY THAT CONTRIBUTORS DISCLOSE POSITIONS THEY HOLD IN STOCKS THEY DISCUSS, THOUGH POSITIONS MAY CHANGE. READERS OF "Cost of Freedom Recap" MUST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR OWN INVESTMENT DECISIONS.
FORGIVING OUTSTANDING STUDENT LOAN DEBT: WILL THIS HELP THE ECONOMY AND CREATE JOBS?
TRACY BYRNES: Look, my heart bleeds for all the students out there carrying these loans. The average loan is about $27,000-28,00 Cheryl, but this is not going to create jobs. This is nonsense. It's not helping the problem. The problem is lenders will give loans to anybody with a social security number and schools know this. So they keep raising tuition fully knowing these kids can go get funding. Quite frankly, they raise tuition while you're in the school during your four years there. That's the unfair part; forgiving the loan is doing nothing, but putting the burden on the taxpayer and starting the bubble all over again.
WAYNE ROGERS: Well you know, one of the unfortunate things about this is you can't file for bankruptcy on a student loan. You're prevented from doing that. They can go after you for the rest of your life. That should be changed, because this is the fastest growing debt category we have in the United States, more so than anything else and it's not going to help us because it's a debt against the future. Yes, you've got to find a way to deal with it. Meaning, I know it's not the right thing to say from a moral point of view, but ultimately you're going to have to settle this for less than what's at face value.
DAVID MERCER: We are in trouble and what the President has tried to do and what some members of Congress are trying to do is, given the current economic situation, to provide conditions that allow for students to actually pay back their loans. Whether it's reducing the term of the loan; keeping the interest rates low. Look, we've done that for banks; tried to negotiate with corporations, or they try to have negotiations with taxpayers and the government to lower their rates. There's no reason why students shouldn't be able to do the same so that they can afford to go to college, pay back their loans, and also have more discretionary income to be consumers in a consumer-driven economy.
JONATHAN HOENIG: No, it doesn't fly. It doesn't even get off the ground Cheryl. I mean, there is no mention of public education in the constitution at all, but what do we have today? A government monopoly on education. It's the right thing to do? What it is, is stealing from the taxpayers David. I mean, loan forgiveness is taking money from people who've earned it and giving it to those who haven't.
JOHN LAYFIELD: Yeah, what Tracy and Wayne are talking about is exactly right. This has exploded, this student loan debt right now, and there's two separate ways to look at this. There's the public debt, which the government is backing and to some extent what David is talking about, by keeping interest rates at 3.4 percent compared to 6.8 percent, which it's scheduled to go up to in July. That is a government subsidy. That has an interest rate that is reasonable even at 6.8 percent. The problem is the for-profit colleges. These guys are absolute criminals. They are raping these kids. They are getting these kids because you cannot default in a bankruptcy and so they are just saddling these kids with debt even though there's no possible way that they're going to pay back.
AUDI CHOOSES MEXICO OVER THE U.S.
JONATHAN HOENIG: Well, money goes where it's treated best Cheryl. That's the old saying and the drug war in Mexico is horrific, but we've got really a regulatory assault against corporations here, especially car companies. I mean, you've got OSHA, the EPA, the FTC, the NTSB, the DOJ, I mean I could literally go on and on and on. Of course, none of those entities, none of those regulatory entities, existed in Henry Ford's time and bottom of the line is that it makes productivity expensive and more difficult. That's why so many companies are looking to operate outside the U.S.
JOHN LAYFIELD: Better come with Kevlar. They've had 50 thousand drug-related murders in Mexico. You have a warning against travel down to Mexico. Jonathan's right. Money goes where it's rewarded. Money goes where it is needed the most. You look at right-to-work states; a lot of car companies are relocating down to the South so they don't have to deal with the unions or the legacy cost or any of those things, and that's what manufacturing's done. Look, when China pays their workers four dollars an hour in Africa, the continent as a whole pays them one. We can't compete with that. Companies are simply saying we're going somewhere we can hire low-cost workers. There is a give-up. There is a give-up for security and there is a give-up for human rights standards, but that's what companies are willing to do at times and that's why we're losing Audi to Mexico.
DAVID MERCER: Well, the plan is to overtake BMW, which also has plants here in the United States. We're not the only country where plants for automakers are positioned. I might say and flip the script a little in saying that with a thousand, nearly a thousand workers that are likely to be employed by Audi, that hopefully will see more Mexicans with less guns in their hands or drugs, less immigration in this country at least at a manageable rate, and therefore there are some collateral benefits to Audi doing it in Mexico and stabilizing their economy for our neighbors next door that have been causing collateral damage to us in the last couple of years.
TRACY BYRNES: They did (consider opening a plant in Tennessee) but their sister brand, Volkswagen, is in Mexico already so I understand that the economies of scale are there for them. The part that bothered me though is the Chairman of Audi came out and said that they had competitive cost structures in Mexico and existing free trade agreements and that was part of the decision making process. We should have that. How come we don't have that here in the United States? How come he's not saying that the United States has that and I could build here? That part bothered me.
WAYNE ROGERS: Well, you've got to come back to the cost again. It's not a question of whether it's good, bad, morally good or bad. It's a cost item and those guys are looking at the bottom line and they're willing to stand in the face of a murder rate that is one of the greatest in the world, John mentioned the security problem, and they're willing to take that on because of the cost. They'll get a substantially lower cost for that automobile and you know we had a law here and John I would defer to him about this, because he would know about this on the Texas border. You had a tax break by establishing a factory just over the border and you could get a tax break doing that and still get the advantage of the low-cost labor.
ELIMINATING CERTAIN MORTGAGE DEDUCTIONS: GOOD OR BAD FOR HOUSING AND ECONOMY?
DAVID MERCER: Well it's good to see Romney coming out with a plan, rather than telling those facing foreclosure that the market bottomed-out, but with that said, I think it is good. Second homebuyers are paying with cash. They're not affected necessarily by the deductions and I don't think it will affect the market. To do so on your average buyer, I think would be troublesome and until the market steadies out, I think we need those mortgage deductions for the middle class, but for the wealthy that are paying cash I think it's fine.
WAYNE ROGERS: You couldn't be more wrong. Of course it's going to hurt the housing market. Anything you do like that is going to hurt the housing market. You're making a statement because you're saying rich people buy a second home. Maybe there are some poor people who want a second home too pal.
TRACY BYRNES: If you're going to take it away on second homes, take it all away Cheryl. Flat-tax this thing already, because it's on the rich again. We pick and choose. One third of people who actually qualify for a mortgage interest reduction actually take it, because the rest of them take the standard deduction anyway. I'm not sure that it will hurt the housing market, but it will hurt the morale of those out there.
JOHN LAYFIELD: It doesn't matter. Interest rates could be at zero, you could have double the mortgage-rate deduction and people can't afford to buy homes right now in this country. They can't afford to buy homes. Second homes are an investment. Why give a tax break for an investment?
JONATHAN HOENIG: Maybe I'm old fashioned Cheryl, but things like the constitution and equal treatment under the law kind of matter. So that means getting rid of, as Tracy pointed out, all deductions and stop treating people with two sets of rules. If it's good for the one percent, it's good for the 99 as well.
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?
TRACY BYRNES: More women than men gunning for high-paying jobs.
JOHN LAYFIELD: Cheap natural gas makes Dow Chemical (DOW) a good play.
WAYNE ROGERS: Wells Fargo (WFC) provides stability in a shaky banking sector.
JONATHAN HOENIG: Dodd-Frank regulations will help Knight Capital (KCG) take bank profits.