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.
SHOPPERS AND COs SEEN SPENDING LESS AS 'FISCAL CLIFF' NEARS
GARY KALTBAUM: Business investment was already down last quarter over one percent and the word uncertainty just pervades the air. The business, its consumer and how about philanthropic organizations that don't even know what kind of write-offs people are going to get if they give to charities next year. The longer this goes, the worse -- and of course the outcome is probably going to be even more worse as taxes are going to go up, and of course, there will be no spending cuts.
BEN STEIN: If we went over the cliff for a few months the impact would not be that enormous, but uncertainty is a very bad word and fear is a really, really bad word. These are the words that govern the economy today and it's imperative that both Republicans and Democrats put their whole heart and soul into finding a compromise.
DAGEN MCDOWELL: You cannot dismiss this, particularly if you're on the left, as something as hocus pocus or fear mongering because the numbers bear it out. You could look at the list of companies that are pulling back spending and they're some of the biggest names in the United States. Whether it's a Wal-Mart, Ford or Disney -- you name it. No company is going to commit new money to new jobs if they don't know what's going to happen in a matter of weeks. You're seeing the same thing with consumers.
CHARLIE GASPARINO: These companies are not cutting back because of the fiscal cliff. They are cutting back because of what they fear from President Obama getting his way in terms of higher taxes -- higher dividend taxes and higher taxes on just about every piece of the economy. Don't believe me, go out there and talk to them. They started cutting back way before last week and this is the problem. The fiscal cliff is really bad, but the solution offered by President Obama of massive taxes is not that good.
JULIAN EPSTEIN: I disagree, and I think the survey of businesses has shown that to be wrong. I talk to business leaders all the time. I think businesses are concerned mostly about whether consumers are going to spend or not. That's the principal concern, and as for the fiscal cliff -- I don't think that's what it is.
NEW HEALTH CARE RULES FUELING NANNY STATE DEBATE
BEN STEIN: Big brother is watching you through the Obama White House, through the Department of Health and Human Services, and they transmit that job also to your employer. I don't like it and I don't want big brother watching me. I don't want big brother telling me how much to eat, when to walk and whether or not I can smoke. I'd like to live my own life. I had my mother telling me what to eat as a child, and I'm done with that. I don't want Mr. Obama to be my mother.
JULIAN EPSTEIN: We incentive behaviors that we think are good, and desensitize behavior we think is bad. Price Waterhouse Cooper did a study before the health care law and it said it found the single highest health care expenditure was preventable disease -- everything from diabetes and heart disease which were all kinds of diseases that were largely preventable. So the idea that we're going to incentivize good behaving, better diet and nutrition seems to me to be something that is smart and something that would end up saving people in premiums and money.
DAGEN MCDOWELL: We had a choice as a nation and we need to use less health care. The people who have health insurance use too much of it but instead of putting the burden of them to make decisions for themselves -- instead we expand it and have greater government control over health insurance than this nation. So, we have made a choice or as the president has for us that the government is going to get more involved in what medicines we use and what medicines are available to us. Frankly, there is nothing in that law that's going to bring down health care costs. Right now they're going to go up and premiums are going to go up for employers and individuals. We just have to wait and see how much they go up.
CHARLIE GASPARINO: I did a public survey last week. The president should be giving me one of those little accommodations for calling Twinkies 'legalized poison.' You don't have to listen to this health care law; you could just listen to me. You bought it, you own it. We got this law, and if you could have government sponsored health care -- expect the government to tell you what to do and what not to do. We're all on the hook for this stuff and in the context of the health care law, which I hate -- this is a pretty good thing. Telling people what they should eat and what they shouldn't eat. People eat such garbage that leads to disease.
GARY KALTBAUM: Doesn't anyone find it a little ironic that the same who were telling you that salt was bad for you and that we can't drink large sodas, are saying, 'Let's smoke weed and make that legalized.' Government gets involved in every decision that we make on a daily basis and that's not the way this country was supposed to go.
NEW REPORT SHOWING FHA IS BROKE SPARKING NEW BAILOUT WORRIES
GARY KALTBAUM: We'll be bailing out the bailouts and that's the type of nation we've become. Everything off the taxpayers back, and it's just going to continue. The amazing part of this story is that the FHA was sort of okay, but while markets were crashing they actually expanded what they were doing and now we're talking 93 billion.
BEN STEIN: I think it has to be bailed out. It's unfortunate that it happened, but it's a government guarantee that has to be honored.
CHARLIE GASPARINO: It has to be bailed out. This is not Wall Street, it's the FHA. It's part of the government.
DAGEN MCDOWELL: People have been getting 3.5 percent money down mortgages. It was 20 percent in the 30s and it was 10 percent in the 60s. Five percent is how much you have to have down if you refinance through the FHA. If anybody has ever gotten an FHA mortgage and you're in trouble, then it's their fault. It's Americans who we are lending money to but not to these homes.
JULIAN EPSTEIN: I think the premise of the question is wrong. Tarp ended up making taxpayers money. We didn't break even on the auto bailout. I think if there is a bailout, there are a lot of steps the FHA can go before there is a bailout.
GARY K.: I really like Amgen. We've had a tough market, and this refuses to go down. It has very good consistent earnings. Very well run.
BEN STEIN: I love it. Great company!
ISHARES MSCI MEXICO (EWW)
BEN STEIN: Get it on with EWW! Get it on with Mexico! That company is on fire and their country is on fire. It's the best thing ever and it's going to be the next China.
GARY K.: Only if the market goes up. It's just a market play. I'm really worried about 2013.