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.
FEMA UNDER FIRE AS IT SHUTS DOWN SOME DISASTER CENTERS DURING STROM
GERRI WILLIS: FEMA is the wrong place to put it and I'll tell you why. This agency is a mess. It still owes eighteen billion dollars for Hurricane Katrina. This is an agency that cannot manage itself. The inspector general wrote a long report last year saying the agency is mismanaged and it doesn't have systems in place that can talk to states-they can't talk to each other. They don't have the right computers in place. And let me tell you, they are managing more disasters all the time. President Obama has called more disasters than any other President in the last twenty years. FEMA is not the organization-give it to the local states. They're the people who can make these decisions and can spend the money wisely.
CHARLIE GASPARINO: I will say this. If anybody thinks FEMA should get more money, this is what you should do-go out to Staten Island right now. I have friends out there. That place is devastated and it's tragic that the President hasn't gone out there yet. I mean, Staten Island has been destroyed. There're schools being used as morgues. The bodies, unfortunately, are piling up.
BEN STEIN: The ordinary guy who has just lost his boat or his house on Staten Island can not do anything for a top level bureaucrat. But another top level bureaucrat can. And I completely agree there's just a fundamental mismatch between bureaucracy and a natural disaster. But I think maybe Charlie and Gerri give a little too much credit to state and local legislatives. A state and local bureaucrat are not generally super men and super women either. So I just don't know what the solution is.
ADAM LASHINSKY: Where I will give elective officials the benefit on the doubt is that they want to try to be helpful and they want to try to give people something to feel good about and say-thank you for the good stuff you are doing. By the way, it's our job to criticize FEMA and we're doing exactly that. The statistics and the structural problem Gerri talked about are exactly right. These are problems-and they should be fixed. But I agree with Ben that you can't make the assumption that the local officials will do the job any better.
CHARLES PAYNE: I just can't believe what Adam is saying. That somebody in a faceless building in downtown Washington DC knows the people better in New Jersey that you have to wait for them to say, this neighborhood is bad but this neighborhood is good. The people in Jersey can drive around there with their eyes blind folded. The people in Staten Island know what's going on there. Here's the whole thing-Gerri hit it right on the head. This idea that New Jersey sends over $10,000 to DC and then you have to beg for the money back, and then pull out the palm palms when they do get it back. It's ridiculous. And to Neil's point, FEMA had over one hundred hours to get their act together. And after Katrina, you would've never thought this would ever happen again. It's a shame.
CRITICS TO DC: LESS "TALK," MORE "WALK" ON FISCAL CLIFF
CHARLES PAYNE: You know, this is really like a Greek tragedy except I don't see where the ghost and the machine are going to come in and save the day-because we're talking about Washington. Post election, I don't think either party has a real mandate per se; although, overall you would think their ultimate mandate would be to save this country. Neil you've been on top of this and I have to tell you-I have a feeling we will go into January 1st with no deal and it's going to take maybe the markets crashing. They gave themselves a ticking time bomb. But now they look Inspector Clueso trying to take it apart.
BEN STEIN: Well I don't see how there is any solution besides raising taxes. It doesn't really terrify me to see the tax rates that are going up on the screen, going up that much. What terrifies me is the idea of cutting defense. And I'd much rather see the tax rates go up than cut defense. But President Obama gave a speech on Friday which he basically said, I am not compromising, it's my way or the highway. And that is not a good approach.
ADAM LASHINSKY: I've never been more hopeful about this problem getting resolved. Boehner made conciliatory comments last week and the President made conciliatory comments last week. Both parties will come together and have a solution in the next few weeks.
GERRI WILLIS: Boy I'm glad somebody's optimistic about this because I'm not sure I am. What I hear is people backing up into the corners. There's this unholy alliance of the left saying, lets just go over the Fiscal Cliff and libertarians saying lets go over the Fiscal Cliff. The reality is, we'll loose two million jobs at a time we can barely afford it. The economy will go under recession if it's not already there. That's a cost we can't afford to pay.
CHARLIE GASPARINO: It's a political argument. The republicans are saying, let it go and let Obama get it because he bought it. Just let it happen. Obama is coming back and saying, and a lot of people think he's going to do this; yeah I'm (Obama) going to let this happen. I'll (Obama) have a quick and dirty rescission my first year in office and we'll deal with the deficit. I will point this out that President Obama's people are reaching out to the people in business community on Wall Street and saying they are willing to compromise and that they are serious about dealing with the defecate.
REPORT: GOV'T MAY SELL ITS GM SHARES SOON
BEN STEIN: Well GM wouldn't even exist. They would not even have been here-at least in their present form. Why shouldn't we get paid back? I mean, we're lenders. We should get paid back first.
CHARLES PAYNE: You know, I agree with Ben. The bottom line is that they already convinced the public that the bailout works. People should get something to show for it. We haven't gotten anything I think.
ADAM LASHINSKY: I totally disagree. We've gotten a very good return on this investment in the form of all the jobs GM and its customers have right now. This has been a good investment-if not a good financial investment.
CHARLIE GASPARINO: I think it's a lousy financial investment. You know, that's not why we bailed them out. We bailed them out to allegedly keep jobs.
GERRI WILLIS: We bailed them out for votes-let's face it. At the end of the day, it was a political calculation.
STOCK WINNERS FOR 2016
UNITED RENTALS (URI)
CHARLES PAYNE: I love United Rentals. It's the perfect business model.
ADAM LASHINSKY: Well I like it. It doesn't have the razzle dazzle of some of your typical pick Charles. But, it's expensive. And you know how I feel about expensive stocks.
CSX CORP (CSX)
ADAM LASHINSKY: CSX Neil, the railway company. This is an inexpensive stock with a modest dividend that will stick around for the next four years.
BEN STEIN: CSX has always been a great company and will always be a great company.
ISHARES MSCI CANADA (EWC)
BEN STEIN: I like EWC. Canada is an incredibly unbelievably well-run country. Rich in minerals and just a great country.