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.
FEARS WHITE HOUSE POLICIES ARE LIMITING PROFITS, JOB CREATION IN U.S.
MIKE OZANIAN: It's a very bad sign for the economy. This is a back-door way to have Washington get private insurance companies to lower their rates as well. Less profits mean fewer jobs, which is bad news for the economy.
QUENTIN HARDY: It is a non-for-profit corporation, with a heavily compensated CEO, who, last year raised premiums a lot. Now, he says he'll cap at 2 percent. That's what they typically make and return to the rest anyway. This is a very clever way he can blame the current environment, blame the government, and completely 'stick it' to his profit making competitor, WellPoint, which will now be under pressure to hurt their share holders and bring rates down. It's a competitive move on his part, entirely political.
VICTORIA BARRET: This is purely a PR move, but it's bad news for health care, it's bad news for jobs and here's why: if you put pressure on other companies to do the same this becomes a really unattractive industry to invest in. And without investments you're not going to see this industry grow, you're going to see fewer jobs, and you're going to see the government increasingly being the provider of health insurance in this country. And we saw this very interesting report this week by the consulting firm McKinsey, showing that 50 percent of companies surveyed who knew the healthcare plan that Obama has passed through well- said they're going to drop coverage for their employers and put them into these government exchanges. So, we're seeing this industry increasingly become one the U.S. taxpayers are going to pay for.
KYM McNICHOLAS: I get the fact that these companies like Blue Shield do need to make investments. They do need to have rainy day funds -- I'm not saying they don't. But, a not-for-profit is as such. I don't know what my colleagues don't understand about a not-for-profit, it is a not-for-profit. So, aside from rainy day funds, the excess cash should go back to consumers. Take this into consideration, if Blue Shield, for example, had projected costs of $100 billion for this year, and the cost came it at $110 billion, they're going to pass that cost on to the consumer. So, if they come in at $80 billion, why not pass that 20 billion or give that back to the insured.
ELIZABETH MacDONALD: Not-for-profit means they are operating on the taxpayer's nickel, so let's also be clear about that. There are other moves afoot in health reform that's going to put pressure on companies, and that includes forcing companies to spend more on the premiums themselves. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, in other words the government is directing them in what to do. So the question is, can you have universal health coverage in a free market, or do you let the insurance companies continue to ration it and do price control or do you have the government do it. By the way, health spending in this country- more than half of it is spent by the government already. They're trying to do things like protect the taxpayer's money and investments, so how do you do that in a free market.
BILL BALDWIN: The way for government to put the squeeze on insurance company profits, is to set up its own insurance company- a Blue Cross that's not-for-profit, but wait a minute now, once they set it up and they're competing in the health insurance business they have to repeal all the regulations on WellPoint and the rest of them. And I'd like to see the government set up its own auto insurance company and then repeal all control.
KICK OUT DELINQUENT HOMEOWNERS TO BRING HOUSING MARKET BACK
DENNIS KNEALE: It was a well intended effort by the government to try to stop prices from crashing and keep people in their homes, it has failed utterly. The treasury got $46 billion, and it spent less than 2 (billion). We shouldn't spend any of it. Why should anyone, I'm sorry for all of your pain out there if you face disclosure, but why you should be allowed to stay in your home for a year, two years, four years, without paying your mortgage, it turns out if you don't have the money to pay your mortgage then you don't deserve to be in your home. I rent, because if I put a down payment on my home I'm going to wipe out all the cash I have, and if I lose my job -- which is imminently possible at Fox -- I'm going to have nothing to pay my mortgage, and I will lose my home. And therefore, I didn't buy!
KYM McNICHOLAS: Imagine 4.2 million just homes landing on the market today, it would be absolutely catastrophic. I was just talking on the phone last night with Chris Cortazzo, he's the number one real estate agent in the world for Coldwell Banker, and he was saying that the market just can't afford a double-dip. I mean I'm not saying to bail out, everyone who's struggling with their homes right now, but if they're truly struggling and they have the best intention, then the government should step in, help them come up with a payment schedule that they can handle to help them through this tough time.
ELIZABETH MacDONALD: It's so easy for the government to be well intentioned and compassionate with other people's money. How is that being compassionate when they're using our tax dollars to support programs -- 1500 of them that helped blow up a bubble in the housing market. Wall Street is to blame. I say, move them out, and move them out now. If not, make them pay rent or get them to do something to pay their bills. Enough is enough, this behavior has been going on since the early '90s -- this has to stop.
QUENTIN HARDY: They're helping people try to stay who want to pay their mortgage. Have you heard of the robo-signing scandal in Florida? Many of these mortgages were pushed out with a lot of questionable things. And they're getting settled out of court. That takes time. Banks don't want to own houses, they want to own mortgages. If they own houses, they have to sell them and that wrecks the housing market.
MIKE OZANIAN: Quentin is right about banks' intentions. The problem though is banks at current sale rates own 3 years worth of foreclosed homes. The only way you're going to clear the housing market is to allow banks to get rid of these homes, sell homes. People currently in them who cannot afford mortgages have to get out.
BILL BALDWIN: This foreclosure situation is a total mess and I've got a solution for it, it's shared appreciation. Let's just suppose that Dennis Kneale Bank and Trust has a $200,000 mortgage on a house worth $150,000. Try to foreclose on it when they get through paying the lawyers, they get through paying for all the appliances that have been ripped out of it. There's a better system, write down the mortgage to $150,000 then the government would allow the bank to have half of the appreciation above $150,000. Then the bank and the homeowner both have a stake in it.
CALLS TO STOP FUNDING "GREEN" AGENDA ON REPORT OF HEALTH RISKS
MIKE OZANIAN: Producing steel can cause a lot of pollution. It costs 50 tons of steel to produce one megawatt of wind energy, which the Obama administration loves. That's a hundred times more steel than it takes to produce a similar amount of energy from natural gas, which they hate.
ELIZABETH MacDONALD: I don't like the waste of taxpayer dollars on projects like this, I don't like the weatherization project, but the overarching theme here is that indoor pollution is real. There is climate change going on indoors. Whether taxpayer dollars should support it is an entirely different question.
VICTORIA BARRET: I'm actually hoarding the old fashioned bulbs, I went on Amazon and I bought 80 of them. I can't stand the fluorescent stuff, by the time it takes to warm up and 2 minutes have passed, I'm out of my hallway. That aside, the issue here is we are going to see more government involvement in building because of these kinds of reports coming out. And that is going to cause even more cost on building generally and that's my real concern.
QUENTIN HARDY: I'm sure when light bulbs came along some people stocked up on candles because change is tough for some people. I hope we build better solar panels and better windmills, but there is a deeper problem here that we have to face. This show has been going for more than 10 years and people used to deny global warming was true at all. And the evidence has piled up - there's ice melting, we're seeing tornadoes you can't believe, we're seeing the hurricane season start early. We saw the temperature rise in Kansas 20 degrees in 20 minutes Thursday. If this is caused by people, we need to do something.
DENNIS KNEALE: Someone does have to die for greenness okay. And it turns out it's thousands of birds from those giant propellers on windmills. It's not going to be people, smoking cigarettes kills 400,000 people in the U.S. every year and we aren't doing a whole lot about regulating that.
STOCKS TO SAVE YOUR RETIREMENT FUND AND PAY YOUR BILLS
BILL BALDWIN: Rio Tinto (RIO)
KYM MCNICHOLAS: Reynolds American (RAI)
ELIZABETH MACDONALD: Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX)
DENNIS KNEALE: Verizon (VZN)