• With: Steve Forbes, Quentin Hardy, Dennis Kneale, Neil Weinberg, Elizabeth Macdonald, Kym McNicholas

    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.

     

    BAILOUT FEARS GROWING AS STUDENT DEBT NEARS $1 TRILLION

    STEVE FORBES: When the government tries to help out students all it does is burden them with many mortgages. Tuition as a result of so-called government help has gone up four times the rate of inflation, twice the rate of health care inflation. Stop trying to help students and that way you put pressure on universities to get their costs in control. By the way, colleges and universities that's the next housing bubble, this education thing cannot continue because parents are realizing they are not getting a real return on the hundreds of thousands of dollars they have to spend to get their kids through college.

    QUENTIN HARDY: Unless this all has happened in the past 2 years it's hard to see how its exclusively Obama's fault. In fact, it's kind of hard to see how it's really scary once you break it down to what it is. Average student loans are not $900 trillion, they are $24,000 per student. And people take on that debt because it's an investment towards lifetime earnings that will be higher because they are educated, they are rational consumers making good choices. It is individual debt, which collectively makes the country richer and stronger because an educated population does better. I'm all for student debt, I thank them for taking on that loan, and I wish them well.

    DENNIS KNEALE: I like Quentin's point that the way you break down a big debt number and cite a per capita per student because now I feel a lot better about the federal budget deficit. But the problem is, if it's such a great investment let these people go out and borrow from the private sector. I don't think the government should have taken over the entire loan program, that's a big problem.

    NEIL WEINBERG: My own father would not have gone to college if it wasn't for the GI Bill after World War II and a lot of us around the country have to be thankful for the fact that there has been government support for student loans for a long time. When you think of all the things we spend money on, it's hard to think of something more valuable than educating our population and if that requires some government support then so be it.

    ELIZABETH MACDONALD: You have to look at the underlying reason that Steve is pointing out why college tuition costs are soaring. Only 28 percent or 33 percent of college tuition actually goes towards instruction, the rest goes towards research trips or building up gyms. I think the American parents, the American family, has had enough. College tuition has been in a bubble for a very long time and unless you reform it, unless you say "look no more non-profit status," unless you curtail the college tuition inflation rate and then the government can come in and give cheap loans. But until you get to the heart of the matter, you're not going to fix the problem.

    KYM MCNICHOLAS: I have no problem helping students versus banks. I would much rather bailout students than bailout banks, at least we're investing in our future leaders. I do think we need to limit how much we help and who we help. I think that we do need to help our state universities, but I think we need to stay away from our for-profit universities. I think the for-profit universities are exactly what they are, for-profit and I think they should do more for those students who go there to pay for school.

    WHITE HOUSE GIVING $6.7 BILLION TO MEDICARE PLANS FACING CUTS UNDER HEALTH CARE LAW

    ELIZABETH MACDONALD: $6.7 billion arbitrarily given out for our bureaucrats to decide which Medicare advantage plan gets a three star rating or more, it's ridiculous. This is a patch until the only free market plan is completely gutted by this administration. The health reform bill has become a slush fund. There's $18 billion for in preventive care, $75 million for personal education responsibility programs, there is no accountability to the taxpayer.

    NEIL WEINBERG: There's a lot of politics going on on both sides. I don't think the $6.7 billion patch proves anything that any plan is more expensive than another. It proves politics is going on.

    STEVE FORBES: Medicare advantage is now used by one out of four Medicare beneficiaries. Half of African-Americans use it when they retire, about four out of ten seniors use it. And the President wanted to cut it because it is private companies - and then suddenly realized he has an election in 2012 and better not take away this desirable plan from people. This is just a patch to get through the election, then he puts a squeeze on.

    QUENTIN HARDY: I say a curse on both their houses. They both seem to pretend that we can all live forever and we can just go on. You give seniors a real view of how end of life care works in this country and they choose not the extreme measures that both sides seem to want to fund and are the fundamental problems in this system.

    DENNIS KNEALE: A few thoughts, $6.7 billion clearly means we have more expenses than we realized we'd have and they're giving into plans, they are supposed to be giving performance bonuses because the insurance plans are really good, but instead they're giving it to mediocre, average performers so they don't have to take it out of the pockets of the customers. But that's a Medicare cut, how did the President manage to cut Medicare without the press noticing? What I worry is, when you go get $6.7 billion more that means it is a bottomless well, there is no end in sight.

    BILL BALDWIN: Neither Paul Ryan nor the President are being honest about any of this. The hard truth is that Medicare is underfunded, long-term not right now but long-term. Long-term by a factor of four. So to fix it we're going to have to double taxes, which Paul Ryan doesn't want, and cut benefits in half, I guess the President doesn't want that. And nobody is telling the truth.

    NEW WORRIES GREEN ENERGY PUSH WILL DRIVE UP UTILITY BILLS

    DENNIS KNEALE: There's a reason they call it green, it's because it costs lots of cash. The reason we burn 20 million barrels of oil a day in the U.S.? It's because it's incredibly cheap. If you want to go green it's going to cost you more whether you like it or not. I would just like for us instead to find less costly alternatives that don't need such a huge subsidy from government to get us to use it now when oil goes up hugely, green will be far more affordable.

    QUENTIN HARDY: If you want to look at an amazing energy resource that doesn't have pollution effects, the wind blowing through our great plains is a great place to start. It's a great thing we should tap, you have to take the cleanup costs of other energy into account if you're going to say this is expensive.

    STEVE FORBES: The fact of the matter is even when you factor in cleanup costs and the like, it's very cheap and in terms of natural gas, the fears about contaminating water outside of that one incident in Pennsylvania where the well was not constructed well, fracking works. The U.S. is going to become the Saudi Arabia, if we allow ourselves to do it, of natural gas. Not only would we use it, we're going to be exporting to the rest of the world. We have the energy here, let's use it and go for it.

    KYM MCNICHOLAS: We do need to invest in renewable energy. We have to become a more energy independent nation. I don't care what energy resources that we build, it's going to cost us and utility rates are going to go higher. But wouldn't you feel better about paying more now and less later? If you think about it, no fuel costs, no operating and maintenance costs in the long-term, at least very little.

    BILL BALDWIN: Kym's green schemes will kill you at the pump and kill you again at the grocery store. Let's take the Obama administration's oil policy, their policy is you can only drill dry holes.

    COMPANIES KEEPING THEMSELVES AND SHAREHOLDERS OUT OF DEBT

    NEIL WEINBERG: FASTENAL (FAST)

    ELIZABETH MACDONALD: APPLE (AAPL)

    KYM MCNICHOLAS: WALGREENS (WAG)

    BILL BALDWIN: WOLVERINE WORLD WIDE (WWW)