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.
This past week's Bulls & Bears: Gary B. Smith, Exemplar Capital managing partner; Pat Dorsey, Morningstar.com director of stock research; Scott Bleier, HybridInvestors.com president; Tobin Smith, ChangeWave Research editor; and Joe Battipaglia, Stifel Nicolaus.
Trading Pit: What Does Wall Street Need to Spark a Rally?
Gary B. Smith: Wall Street wants Ronald Reagan…but unfortunately he is not available! But Wall Street does want a fiscal conservative in the White House so American can avoid turning into Europe – which is essentially a growing welfare state!
Joe Battipaglia: Here is what Wall Street needs to recover: the housing market to stabilize; the Fed to complete the rate-cutting cycle; the financial insurers to have a stabilization plan; and equity analysts to cut their unreasonable second-half estimates. Unfortunately, this is going to take some time with more headline risk before recovery can get underway.
Scott Bleier: Wall Street does not want a fiscally conservative president… Wall Street wants a president who is going to spend a lot of money! But Wall Street wants that money to be spent on things that will help American businesses and not on pork projects. Once the credit markets are cleaned up and expectations for earnings are lowered (which will take another quarter), the market will be ready for a nice upside surprise. And this will all be done quietly; there will not be one big even that everyone will cover.
Tobin Smith: Wall Street wants a president that will not raise taxes on capital, will not run a protectionist foreign policy and will extend the Bush tax cuts to permanence. And Wall Street also wants real transparency in the banking, brokerage and derivative businesses.
Pat Dorsey: Wall Street is too shortsighted to care that much about a fiscally conservative president. On what the market needs to rally, two questions need to be answered: 1. Is the consumer going to "roll over"? 2. Will the rest of the world's economy continue to grow and buy things from America? Because demand for infrastructure from other countries is still strong, big American exporters will continue to grow – for now.
More Bad News for Housing, Good Sign to Buy?
Gary B. Smith: There are several reasons to be positive on housing:
1. Housing stocks always move before housing prices start climbing. And they've been moving: PHM, for example, up over 30 percent since the end of 2007.
2. The Fed has our back: 30-year and ARM mortgages are back to being a steal.
3. Despite the slump, median home prices for houses sold are STILL in a long-term uptrend.
Joe Battipaglia: The housing recession will last through 2009 with median home price declines of 20 percent; a total of 3 million foreclosures; $300 billion in related securities write-offs and an anemic domestic economy for 2008.
Scott Bleier: What a great time for first time buyers! We hear about how miserable housing is, but the focus is on the areas that were way overbuilt in the last boom. Those places appreciated the most and the fastest and they will continue to be hit the hardest. But good houses in desirable neighborhoods are not cheap and probably never will be. If you're looking for a repeat of the bubble frenzy because interest rates are coming down, forget it…The extremes of all buyers and few sellers a few years ago did not last forever — and the extreme of few buyers now will not last forever either.
Bulls & Bears Lightning Round!
Gary B Smith: Pepsico (PEP)
Tobin Smith: Natural Resource Partners (NRP)
Pat Dorsey: Cisco (CSCO)
Joe Battipaglia: General Mills (GIS)
Scott Bleier: Windstream Communications (WIN)
Gary B's prediction: Housing mergers are coming; SPDR S&P Homebuilders (XHB) doubles in 12 months!
Tobin's prediction: Real election winner: alternative energy! Suntech Power (STP) up 50 percent by inauguration!
Pat's prediction: Protect yourself from a slowdown. Tyco (TYC) up 30-40 percent in one year
Scott's Prediction: Possible MSFT/YHOO deal boosts Equinix (EQIX) 50 percent in one year!
Joe's prediction: Tech takeovers aren't done! Buy eBay (EBAY) before it's bought out!
On Saturday, February 9, 2007, Neil Cavuto was joined by Ben Stein, "Yes, You Can Supercharge Your Portfolio" author; Charles Payne, wstreet.com; Tracy Byrnes, FOX Business Network; Adam Lashinsky, Fortune Magazine; Ben Ferguson, The Ben Ferguson Show; and MeMe Roth, actionagainstobesity.com.
Bottom Line: Can Wall Street Afford Four Years of a Dem in the White House?
Neil Cavuto: John McCain hoping to win more votes today to seal up the GOP nomination. Yet, some vocal conservatives are still saying they'd rather see a Democrat in the White House. Can Wall Street afford that?
Charles Payne: The bottom line is Wall Street and the economy would be under total siege if there's a Democratic Congress and White House. I understand why Rush and the others are upset with McCain. I think somewhere along the line, McCain comes along with the olive branch, probably in the form of a really conservative, fiscal, evangelist vice presidential running-mate. But, at this point, it would be kamikaze for them to go the other way. It'd be absolutely nuts in my opinion.
Neil Cavuto: You know, I'm not a name dropper, as you know Ben Stein… but Clint Eastwood told me…
Ben Stein: Clint who? What?
Neil Cavuto: Clint Eastwood at told me he thinks its masochistic for conservatives to bash this sort of predicament… because they look childish. What do you make of that?
Ben Stein: I think he's exactly right. They look childish and selfish. McCain's not the perfect candidate. I have yet to see the perfect candidate. The closest one was Dwight Eisenhower. That was a long time ago. I think Wall Street could withstand four or eight years of a Democrat, but if that Democrat chose to repeal the capital gains tax reduction, chose to repeal certain other taxes, it would be a disaster for Wall Street. Wall Street would eventually recover, and Wall Street has done very, very well under certain Democrats, but it would be much better if we had a Republican.
Neil Cavuto: Ben Ferguson, you're to the right of Attila the Hun. So, where do you stand on this? I spoke to Ann Coulter and she said unless McCain gets a conservative running mate, she's not voting for him. Where do you stand?
Ben Ferguson: Well, I'll be honest with you: I think John McCain is a terrible candidate. I don't think that's being knit-picky. You have to look at the fact that he's going to be bad for the economy. He's one of two Senators who voted against the tax cuts! Let's be real about this man. He's not a conservative. I'd much rather have someone mess up the economy and other things, like Obama or Clinton, and have them take credit for it. John McCain is a guy who's been bad on taxes, on amnesty, and he's been a guy who's been a thorn in the side of the Bush White House and their tax cuts since day one. So yeah, I'm against him.
Neil Cavuto: Well, Dirty Harry says you're being masochistic.
Ben Stein: And childish.
Ben Ferguson: No, it's not childish.
Neil Cavuto: And he doesn't want you to see any of his movies. He hates you.
Ben Ferguson: No, no. You don't allow someone to masquerade as Ronald Reagan when he's not Ronald Reagan. I mean, at CPAC he said "I'm Ronald Reagan." No, you're not! You're a moderate at best.
Ben Stein: What's the point of being against John McCain? What good does it do? Would you really rather have Hillary or Obama? You really would?
Ben Ferguson: Ben, here's the thing: I'm going to vote against Hillary Clinton. I'm going to vote against Barack Obama, but that does not mean I'm going to support John McCain. And that's the issue here.
Ben Stein: But why?! He'll be better than Hillary or Barack.
Ben Ferguson: Of course, he'll be better than Hillary or Barack. But a failing grade is still a failing grade.
Ben Stein: Why not vote for McCain and support him?
Ben Ferguson: I'm going to vote for him, but I'm not going to support him.
Ben Stein: Why not?
Ben Ferguson: You can vote against Barack and Hillary, and you don't have to support and campaign for John McCain. I will vote against Barack. I will vote against Hillary.
Neil Cavuto: Man oh man! It's like the meaning of the word "is."
Tracy Byrnes: Ben, you gotta get outta the box! First of all, Ronald Reagan raised taxes in California, then he found religion in supply-side economics when he was running for president… so Reagan's not the best example here.
Ben Ferguson: Except he has eight years of good examples… but whatever.
Tracy Byrnes: And John McCain has already said he would keep the Bush tax cuts, he would lower corporate rates, and he would offer research and development credits. So why is that bad?
Ben Ferguson: He'll say anything to get elected.
Tracy Byrnes: That's what anybody does during this!
Ben Ferguson: He was one of two Senators that voted against the tax cuts!
Neil Cavuto: I want to bring Adam Lashinsky into this. Adam, what is your sense on how this is going to fall on the Republican Party?
Adam Lashinsky: Well, I think despite what we're hearing, the Republican Party will coalesce around its candidate; they will run a strong campaign. To say that Wall Street should worry if a McCain or a Clinton or an Obama were elected president is silly. If you want to just think of Wall Street as a bunch of cry babies who want everything handed to them… then yeah, those people are worried and they should be because they won't get everything they want. To say that John McCain will say whatever he needs to say to get elected… I don't know if it's more a question of naiveté or stupidity. I mean, this is a man who stood up against his own Party and with his President on immigration and with his President on the war because he thought it was right. That's the kind of leader he will be. I think Wall Street would respect him for it.
Ben Ferguson: You look at Democrats for one second: Who do you think Barack Obama would love to run against? The Democrats will be thrilled the day John McCain is the nominee because they know the conservatives are sick and tired of RINOs, which means "Republicans in Name Only," acting like they really are true conservatives.
Charles Payne: Ben, I disagree with you on that because I think McCain steals a lot of the Independent vote the Democrats are counting on. I think he steals a lot of men, particularly if Hillary runs. I think as far as the overall electorate is concerned, the Democrats are intimidated by McCain. On the other side, McCain must pay some sort of homage to the conservative side of the Party. He must pick a running mate that will make everyone happy. Obviously, we won't just buy into his lip service of fiscal conservatism… he's going to have to prove that over time. McCain knows his job is cut out for him. As far as the general election is concerned, I think he matches up best against the Dems.
Ben Ferguson: But do you think that John McCain can get enough people to rally around him that actually support him to win the election? I don't think so.
Charles Payne: Absolutely.
Tracy Byrnes: There are a lot of liberal Republicans out there.
Charles Payne: That's oxy-moronic.
Adam Lashinsky: No, it's not!
Tracy Byrnes: But, they exist.
Neil Cavuto: Ben Stein, I don't know if I told you I was talking to Clint Eastwood…
Ben Stein: You're kidding! Clint Eastwood??
Neil Cavuto: Yeah, I was.
Ben Stein: You mean, Dirty Harry??
Neil Cavuto: Yes. Yes.
Ben Stein: Unbelievable.
Neil Cavuto: One thing he said was very profound…
Ben Stein: Did he ask you if you felt lucky, punk?
Neil Cavuto: Yes, yes he did. He also said the winning Party is the one most united. The Party bickering the least tends to win. And he's right! He's absolutely right about that.
Ben Stein: Also, the one that gets the most votes…
Neil Cavuto: Well, I didn't consider that vote thing… (laughter) But, what do you make of this? That if the Republicans are too divided, it's a moot point; they just won't win the election?
Ben Stein: They aren't going to be whiney, cry babies like certain people I could mention… They're going to get united around McCain. He's a fine man. He's an incredibly courageous man. Character-wise, he's got it over every other candidate. And by the way, Mr. Reagan lowered taxes in the first year of his presidency and then raised them every year for seven years. So take that, Ben Ferguson!
Head to Head: Should Restaurants Ban Fat People From Eating Too Much?
Neil Cavuto: Have you heard about this one?! A lawmaker in Mississippi is trying to pass a law banning obese people from eating in restaurants. You heard me. Banned from eating! Sounds crazy to me. But, someone here says it's what our over-weight country needs. It's time to go "Head to Head." Ben Ferguson, time to yank the forks from overweight people?
Ben Ferguson: Lord knows I wish McDonalds, Taco Bell, and Burger King would have kicked my big, fat rear-end out when I was a kid! Gosh, it'd be great if restaurants would say "Get outta here!" If restaurant owners could actually decide that you're too fat for their buffets, I'd be in favor of that!
Neil Cavuto: Really! So MeMe, you've got one of the biggest, right-wing nuts on the planet backing you…
Ben Ferguson: I'm getting picked on today!
Neil Cavuto: Hey, I love ya Ben!
MeMe Roth: I think the proposed bill has insurmountable consequences. It can't happen as written. Instead, we need to target the substances and the behavior.
Neil Cavuto: No, no, no, no, no. This bill. I know it's lunacy and no one in his right mind would pass it, but it basically says if a heavy person walks into a restaurant, the owner can say "You know what? This guy's gonna eat me out of house and home. And I'm not going to have it!" By the way, many a buffet owner has told me that personally.
MeMe Roth: Here's the reality. It's eating disorder month. The eating disorder that is socially acceptable in this country is over-eating and improperly eating. That is why we have obesity. We are the land of the obese.
Neil Cavuto: Why won't you answer my question?
MeMe Roth: I'll answer you!
Neil Cavuto: I'm asking you… what do you think of the idea of a manager looking you over and telling you you can't go into the restaurant?
MeMe Roth: I think I answered it. You can't do it. You can't tell who's medically obese.
Neil Cavuto: I'm going to tell them it's a thyroid deal and then they can let me in.
Neil Cavuto: Charles, what do you make of this? I worry it's a very, very slippery slope.
Charles Payne: It's ridiculous. It's 100 percent ridiculous. First of all, I try to take food from my Yorkies and I have trouble.
Charles Payne: Now, try to imagine taking food from a 300 lb guy!
Ben Ferguson: I'm just picturing you with a Yorkie!
Charles Payne: We have three of 'em! They gang up on me. Do we stop selling cars to teenagers? Do you stop selling shoes to my wife? I wish you would! Where do we draw the line? It's absolutely ridiculous. I mean, if you have a buffet, particularly in Mississippi, you are in trouble!
Tracy Byrnes: Yeah, but it's lunacy! We're seeing the comparisons to a drunk person… a bartender has to stop serving you drinks… but you need food to live! You can't tell if some guy walks in from the street, whether he's 300 lbs or not, if he hasn't eaten in four days. He should get a burger! Plus, some cultures actually respect full bodies… Polynesian cultures, for example.
MeMe Roth: Not any more.
Neil Cavuto: Ben Stein, what do you make of this? Whether it's the food police or something else, obviously, it's about going after obesity.
Ben Stein: I think it's fine. A restaurant owner can kick out anyone he wants from his restaurant. It's his business. I think this obsession with one group of people telling another group of people what they can do is a bit disturbing, and I think that's a psychiatric disorder. Clearly, it's better for people to not be obese. Clearly, it's better for people not to be ordered around. Clearly, it's better for the US to not turn into Big Brother-land. There's an awful lot of conflicting data and points of view here… but a small business owner should be allowed to kick anyone he wants out of his restaurant.
MeMe Roth: And here's why it's not lunacy: These fast food chains have been sued for making people fat.
MeMe Roth: I'm not saying it's right! I'm saying that's why this isn't lunacy. You can see where these guys came up with the legislation.
Neil Cavuto: By the way, we shouldn't all pile up on MeMe… one at a time!
Neil Cavuto: MeMe, if you were to do this based on the color of someone's skin instead of how much skin they have, you would be dragged into court.
MeMe Roth: I'm not saying that.
Neil Cavuto: Others are. And they're making that logical leap! And you are telling us how to eat and be healthy. You are very healthy and very fit. We've tried to bribe you with Kripsy Kremes with little avail… but I'm just saying. Where do we draw the line?
MeMe Roth: We're in denial! We wildly overestimate the amount of calories we burn. We wildly underestimate the amount of calories we eat.
Neil Cavuto: You mean I'm not burning 1000 calories doing this show?!
MeMe Roth: I don't know what you're doing… but 2/3s of parents of overweight kids don't even recognize the degree of their child's obesity. We have to stop pretending we don't know what's going on… and we have to stage an intervention!
Neil Cavuto: Hypothetically, if you stay within 100 lbs of your wedding weight… are you doing alright?
Tracy Byrnes: It's not the restaurant's responsibility to teach you how to eat. You open your doors for business? You better welcome everyone.
Charles Payne: To be quite honest with you, I'd rather bar someone who's really ugly and may scare the other patrons.
Ben Ferguson: It's about the bottom line. If a restaurant has a buffet and they want to kick people out… it's because they're eating too much food. We've seen companies do that!
Tracy Byrnes: Well, then don't offer a buffet.
Ben Ferguson: Look at Abercrombie and Fitch for a second. Have you gone there? I can't find a size 36 waist there because they don't make them anymore… so they're saying to me, "You're too big to wear our clothes."
Tracy Byrnes: It's a teenagers' store, Ben!
Neil Cavuto: I want to give MeMe the final word on this… MeMe, I know you're not for what the restaurants are trying to do… but are you leery of the fact that more and more of our behavior is being monitored?
MeMe Roth: Here's what I want restaurant owners to do… they need to provide information about the food.
Ben Stein: Sieg Heil.
More for Your Money: $exy $tocks!
Neil Cavuto: Just in time for Valentine's Day: Sexy stocks our money studs say will help you get "More for Your Money."
Ben Stein: Pfizer (PFE)
*Ben owns shares of this stock
Charles Payne: Avon (AVP)
Adam Lashinsky: Church & Dwight (CHD)
FOX on the Spot
Charles Payne: Ciena (CIEN) jumps 25 percent this year; buy it now!
Adam Lashinsky: Writers' strike ends; couch potatoes make "DIS" a buy!
Tracy Byrnes: Valentine's Day is a waste; buy cheap stocks, not flowers
Ben Stein: Gov't stimulus is disgusting and irresponsible
Ben Ferguson: John McCain wins nomination, not the White House
Neil Cavuto: Mike Bloomberg won't run; populism is in, business is out
In Focus: Clinton and Obama Duel: Good for Stocks and GOP?
Rich Karlgaard, Publisher: Well, the deeper the democrats go in this head to head race between Hillary and Barack Obama, the more they are going to have to say ridiculous things to appease the left base and the Democratic Party. If this thing goes all the way to the convention – which it could- then it means the eventual nominee is going to have about two months to move back to the center which is not enough time. The market's going to see this, it's discounting it, and that's good for stocks
Victoria Barret, Associate Editor: I disagree. The market doesn't like uncertainty, and this election is full of uncertainty, that's what makes it so great to watch. But the democrats have a lot going for them, namely more democrats are turning out at the polls, we saw this Tuesday. About 15 million democrats showed up, about 9 million republicans. That's going to carry them a long way, so I don't see this divide getting in the way of what's pretty good momentum.
Mike Ozanian, National Editor: I agree with Rich. Both Barack and Hillary want to raise taxes and they want to move to socialized medicine, and the details of their plans, which are going to be very painful to America, haven't really come out. It's been a touchy, feely sort of race so far, but as those details come out, more people are going to move to McCain, who's a pro-growth, low-tax Republican, and that the market likes.
Lea Goldman, Senior Editor: I disagree, I think the fact that you have a clear frontrunner on the GOP side, and the fact that that frontrunner has now alienated conservatives - very vocal conservatives - who come out and said they would actually vote for Hillary because they are so adamantly opposed to a fake McCain GOP nominee. I think this is a great for the democrats. You could make the case that a split party is drawing more GOP fence sitters.
Steve Forbes, Editor-in-Chief: I think Lea is engaging in wishful thinking. Most conservatives are behind John McCain. He showed that this week at the Conservative Political Action Committee in Washington. They like his tax thing and they like his stance on national security, where he's stronger than any other candidate out there. On Hillary and Barack, I think that the longer it lasts, it's good for the republicans. But the stock market isn't going to react until they get a definitive democratic nominee, then they can really compare.
Quentin Hardy, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief: We don't know who is going to win, but we do know the market likes transparency and democracy likes healthy debate. You've got Hillary talking about how her so called tax increases are a rollback to the Clinton prosperity years, or how Barack is talking about how his healthcare plan is about cost savings early in the process. On the other side, you've got everybody running to McCain, and McCain, a fiscal conservative, talking about how he's for tax cuts at all costs. And he's associating with the extreme end of the party that most people associate now with Terry Schiavo, Jack Abramoff, "heck of a job, Brownie," and "it's a slam dunk!" That's not going to win over independents.
Devastating Tornadoes: Proof We Need a 'National Disaster Fund'?
Mike Ozanian: What a dumb idea. All that's going to do is encourage people to live in harm's way. Why do you want people who've made the decision to live in a safe place to pay for people who are putting homes right in the face of danger? It's only going to encourage more bad behavior. It's a terrible idea.
Elizabeth MacDonald, Fox Business Network: I think that the insurance industry overall, is in serious need of reform. You saw what happened with the California wildfires. What's happening is homeowners aren't getting the payouts that they expected when they signed up for insurance, but guess who cooked this idea up? Rudy Giuliani! Steve, were you in on this? Socialized property insurance? I think I may have a stroke.
Lea Goldman: You know I don't understand this argument. The federal government, by way of taxpayers, pays $17 billion a year to fund space exploration. It pays another $150 million to fund the NEA which gives money to ballerinas. Both of those agencies should be privatized. So, the idea that the government, by way of tax payers, should maybe play a hand in getting people back on their feet after natural disasters is a good idea. By the way, regarding the comment about incentivizing risk – the entire Midwest would be unlivable if you went by that notion. Virtually every state in that region is vulnerable.
Steve Forbes: That's the theory of the Soviet Union, and when you go so far you have a disaster on your hands in terms of the government running everything. What they should do is remove obstacles from true national insurance. Allow people to not have to go to through these state regulations to sell insurance inside the state. Make it easier for these companies to bundle policies together, get a national one, and the thing would work. Instead of trying to do it on a state level and having the government come in at the end, you get what Mike says – moral hazard.
Quentin Hardy: Well, there are terrifying natural disasters all over this country. There are hurricanes in Florida, tornados in Alabama, wildfires in California, earthquakes in California, there's the Berkley City Council in California, there's Paris Hilton in California, and yet people chose to live in these places. Maybe, if the state wants to create insurance for those specific weather hazards, natural disasters, that's fine. But someone in New Jersey shouldn't be paying for my hazard out here in California.
Victoria Barret: But they already are! There's a myth here going on. We say taxpayers shouldn't foot the bill, but they are. Every time we have a disaster, federal funds poor in, so why not create a national insurance pool that homeowners can buy into if they wish that would spread the risk around. I think that goes where the market fails. Some companies won't give you insurance or coverage.
Flipside: The Economy Is Fine!
Rich Karlgaard: It's a much better economy than it's given credit for, but that's been the case for the past five years. Look, there's a lot of pessimism out there. I would ask the viewers of the show just to distinguish between lagging indicators and leading indicators. The lagging indicators like retail sales and consumer confidence are bad, but they've always been lagging indicators. The leading indicators like manufacturing survey, the rise of the stock market over the last week and a half are looking much more positive. I think we're more than half way through this, and we're not going to have a recession after this.
Elizabeth MacDonald: I do like Rich's optimism but here's some broad perspective. We've had 16 months of weaknesses in the past 25 years. We've added the equivalent of China's GDP since 2003. But when you look at the weakness and the GDP numbers – point 6 – those numbers will be revised on February 28th. Sixty percent of the time in the past 5 years they head down. So I think the housing crisis is severe, it's a big punch in the economy's gut, and I think we will tip into a recession pretty soon.
Steve Forbes: This economy is like a heavyweight fighter. It can take punches and it can punch back. By spring time the economy is going to start to improve. Home financing is starting to go up, interest rates are starting to work. And for investors getting stock buybacks and companies calling in high-interest-rate bonds, cash is going to start flowing again.
Josh Lipton, Forbes.com Staff Writer: It's mixed news. I think that that's the problem here. You had a bad jobs report, but on the other hand you'll see unemployment is 4.9 percent. That's why the market stays so volatile. It's trying to determine does this slow in economy actually tip is into a recession? But it stays anxious and uncertain because the data is mixed, and that keeps the market sloppy.
Neil Weinberg, Senior Editor: There's zero chance of us going into a recession because we're already there. We're in recession right now, but the good news is in 5 of the last 9 recessions, the stock market has actually gone up. When people are all worried about things, that's the time when you need to buy. So, recessions tend to be short, and tend to be counted in months not years fortunately. So people should hunker down and buy stocks.
Informer: Best Kept Secrets on Wall Street
Neil Weinberg: E*trade Financial (ETFC)
Lea Goldman: Hormel Foods (HRL)
Victoria Barret: Dow Chemical (DOW)
Josh Lipton: Titanium Metals (TIE)
Our Cashin' In crew this week: Wayne Rogers, Wayne Rogers & Co; Jonathan Hoenig, CapitalistPig Asset Management; Jonas Max Ferris, MaxFunds.com; Dagen McDowell, Fox Business Network; Tanya Acker, Democratic Strategist; Marc Rudov, thenononsenseman.com
Docking Wages to Pay for “Hillary-care”?
Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Hillary Clinton says her plan for universal health care could involve docking pay for people who refuse to get insured voluntarily. Is that good for workers and the economy?
Jonathan: Socialism is all about force. When Hillary Clinton talks about forcing people to get health care, that's what it is. She says “I'm giving you affordable health care,” she's forcing them to participate in the system, forcing them to pay for it, and, in this case, coming to their workplace and shaking them down if they don't. To me that's a very bad idea, both economically and practically.
Tanya: The premise behind Senator Clinton's health care plan is there are about 47 million people without health insurance and 75 percent of our health care costs go to pay for people with chronic illnesses. The people who do have insurance—their premiums are up about $900 higher than they would be if everybody were insured. So Hillary Clinton's plan is meant to make sure everybody has to have some type of coverage, so that the rest of us aren't paying those health care costs. Like any government mandated plan, be it payment of child support or payment of taxes, garnishment of wages is one remedy that the government employs to make sure people comply.
Wayne: We pay our taxes in this country voluntarily. If you don't pay your taxes over a period of time, you can have an argument with the I.R.S. With this, someone is just going to grab your money and take it. It's outrageous and one of the dumbest things I've ever heard of in my entire life. I've got a better idea: let's just reach in your pocket and take your wallet. Jonathan's wrong about one thing. This is not socialism. This is totalitarianism.
Dagen: Give her credit. At least she admits it. The point being her plan doesn't work if you have people who can be out there without health insurance, aren't forced to pay for it because they ultimately will drive up the cost of health care. That's because if they break their arm, they are still going to go to the emergency room and we wind up paying for it, which is what's happing today.
Jonas: Hillary Clinton has been talking about health care for about 20 years and saying some pretty dumb things about it. This is actually one of the smarter things she's said. Because this addresses the issue which is everyone has to have insurance. It's kind of like car insurance in which you have to have it. If somebody doesn't have it and they hit me, then I'm going to get burdened with it. So to force it makes sense. Let's make everybody get health insurance so they don't tax other people indirectly which is what the current system is.
Should Employers Tell Their Employees How To Vote?
American Apparel has sent out an email to its employees and ran a slideshow on its website urging Democrats to vote for Barack Obama and Republicans to vote for John McCain. The company cites the candidates' views on immigrations. But should companies be in the business of telling their workers how to vote?
Tanya: I think this is the most abominable thing I've seen in quite some time and I say that as someone who is very passionate about Senator Obama. But this is completely inappropriate. The American Apparel ad is premised on the ad that G.M. ran a while ago saying what's good for G.M. is good for America. I think in this case what's good for American Apparel is not good for America because what this ad is trying to do is placate an immigrant workforce and ensure an abundance of cheap labor. I think it's bad in principle and bad in substance.
Wayne: I don't know that it's not in violation of election laws. That's the biggest problem there. If they are doing something that's in violation of the election laws, it shouldn't be done. On the other hand it's a free country; everyone can do and say what they want to. But it's an implied intimidation if your employer is telling you how to vote because he controls your paycheck.
Jonathan: They can run whatever ad they want. That's the point. They can send any memo they want. If the employees feel intimidated, they can leave. I happened to think it's a bad business decision but they have every right to do it.
Dagen: They can't run any ad they want to. Like Wayne said, if you run an ad for a specific candidate that could violate campaign laws. American Apparel has always run these marginally obscene ads that look like porno shots. But telling your employees who to vote for is more obscene. It's absurd.
Should Men Boycott Valentine's Day?
Retailers expect $17 billion to be spent on Valentine's Day, with men spending more than women. Should they keep their wallets closed on Thursday?
Marc: Valentine's Day is all about her. That's the first reason men should boycott it. The second is that it's expected generosity which is not only oxymoronic, it's moronic. It's demanded, it's expected, it's contrived, it's commercial, it's forced, it's phony. Those are all good reasons for not doing it. There's a double standard. Women love to be capitalists at work and socialists in their social lives. What are the two pillars of socialism? Entitlement and redistribution of wealth— from men to women.
Tanya: Is chivalry that dead? Is that awful to do something nice for somebody you who you care about? I think it's actually nice when a man opens a door or sends a box of chocolates. You say this holiday is all for women. I think most men would tend to disagree. I think when men are gifting their ladies with pricey lingerie, that's not just for the ladies. That's something that people can enjoy mutually. I'm sorry that you don't seem to be enjoying more of it.
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