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; Dr. Bob Froehlich, Scudder Investments; Danielle Babb, co-author of "Finding Foreclosures: The Insider's Guide to Cashing In on This Hidden Market."
Trading Pit: A Long Clinton-Obama Battle: Good Or Bad For Stocks?
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama taking their fight for the White House to Wyoming today. Caucuses there open in less than an hour. And we'll have results right here as soon as they come in. Both candidates telling voters they are going the distance to win the nomination. Will a long battle be good or bad for stocks?
Gary B. Smith: It's great for stocks! Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama fighting it out longer will be great for John McCain. It will give him the opportunity to make his way in the news and expose how socialistic their economic programs are versus his free market, tax cutting, small government ideas.
Bob Froehlich: This will be very good for stocks. This discourse between Hillary and Obama increases the Republicans chances of taking the White House. This is a win/win for the financial services sector that his been hit the hardest, and that's what we need as a catalyst to get the market back!
Tobin Smith: Obama and Hillary going against each other brings the market down! But it will give us the biggest buying opportunity we've had in years!
Pat Dorsey: In general there has been zero correlation between who's been in office and how well the market has done. Since 1960 we've had five Democratic administrations and stocks have done well in three of those and poorly in two. We've had seven Republican administrations and stocks have done well in four and poorly in three. Sounds like a toss up!
Scott Bleier: It's bad for the market. Hillary and Obama are bad and worse. There are still a lot of unanswered questions that could be very bad for the market.
Forcing Banks To Lower Mortgages: Will It Cause a Housing Collapse?
Foreclosures hit a record high. The Fed's answer to the credit crisis? Fed head Ben Bernanke says: banks should help out homeowners who can't afford their mortgages... by reducing their mortgage balance! Is this a good idea from America's top moneyman?
Tobin Smith: Not a good idea at all! It would basically invalidate about six and a half trillion dollars of transactions!
Danielle Babb: The problem is that these homeowners are in over their heads. And these people need help to keep their homes!
Scott Bleier: The stress caused in the market this past week is a result of Bernanke's comments! It's a terrible idea!
Stock X-Change: Lightning Round
The fastest way to make money on TV! The "Bulls & Bears" Lightning Round!
Gary B Smith: Under Armour (UA )
Tobin Smith: Petrobras (PBR )
Bob Froehlich: United Technologies (UTX )
Pat Dorsey: Walgreen (WAG )
Scott Bleier: Logitech International (LOGI )
Bob Froehlich's prediction: Comcast is the election winner! "CMCSA " up 20 percent by inauguration
Gary B Smith's prediction: Oil still going up; Buy "USO " for quick 20 percent gain
Tobin Smith's prediction: Anti-terror spending boost helps "FLIR "; up 25 percent by Oct.
Pat Dorsey's prediction: Call up Synchronoss (SNCR ); up 50 percent in two years
Scott Bleier's prediction: Picture perfect with Nvidia; "NVDA " up 50 percent in '08
On Saturday, March 8, 2008, Alexis Glick 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; and Leigh Gallagher, Fortune Magazine.
Bottom Line: Does America Need More Government?
Alexis Glick: The fight for Wyoming between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama set to start in 30 minutes. Senator Clinton won Ohio this week with a bunch of big-government promises. But, is big government really what America needs right now? Let's get the "Bottom Line."
Ben Stein: We certainly need a bigger defense establishment. We certainly need health care for the very neediest among us. But otherwise, hands off. Well, we also need more regulation of the banks and lending institutions so they don't screw up again like they did big time recently. But America doesn't need bigger government other than that. We simply can't afford it. We just don't have the money for it.
Charles Payne: Ben's talking about extra regulation for banks. I don't know. Does the government even qualify to lay down regulations? The government's bringing in all these CEOs to talk about the money they made. The government always seems to be so clueless. What kind of regulations would they put in place that wouldn't hurt capitalism?
Adam Lashinsky: I can answer that, Charles. One example: They could regulate the banks to make sure the banks don't make loans that clearly will fail for the lender and banker.
Charles Payne: What is clearly though, Adam? What are you talking about?! What is clearly? How do you know someone will clearly not pay their mortgage?
Tracy Byrnes: Hillary's talking about helping people with health care, with roads, with all this kinds of stuff that middle-America people in Ohio need. These people think that Uncle Sam and Big Brother can come in and save them, but it's the wrong way to go. Hillary's saying these things to get votes. And in the end, she might.
Alexis Glick: And Leigh, if you're sitting at home in Iowa and you're seeing prices rising and your home losing value… you don't care about regulation; you want results!
Leigh Gallagher: Exactly. Hillary's playing right to the Heartland. She's playing right to what's going on in the sort of epicenter of working-class America. These people are worried about working-class jobs. If you look at what's happened here, Americans are more concerned about the economy than ever before.
Charles Payne: But Leigh, is that the answer? I know people are worried. But, is that the answer. In other words… as people are worried about this, is making promises the solution? Helicopter-Hillary and Helicopter-Obama are throwing hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money out the window to make jobs that won't sustain themselves.
Tracy Byrnes: They don't care! These people in Ohio don't care. I don't think it's the right answer at all, but I think it's how Hillary's going to get her votes. As long as people are getting help somehow, they don't care how they get it.
Adam Lashinsky: Alexis, you asked if we need more big government. The fact is we have big government. So what the candidates are talking about is employing the tools that we have. If the two issues in Ohio for example are jobs and health care, I think what's fairly obvious is the health care in the U.S. doesn't work nearly as well as it could and that's going to resonate with a lot of voters. It should resonate. With the jobs issue, I think the Democratic candidates are taking exactly the wrong tact by being protectionists and against free trade. As I said before, I think they'll go back on that… but it won't be popular with voters. I think voters are wrong here.
Alexis Glick: Ben, we're talking about an economic stimulus package. After the jobs numbers we just saw, there's a lot of talk that we need a second economic stimulus package. We're relying on the government to bail us out of this kind of environment. So is it in essence the government who has to do the job for us?
Ben Stein: Well, I'm a little puzzled by what you're saying about the jobs numbers. There was a high number of layoffs, but unemployment improved. It's down a tenth of a percentage point. It's very odd to have a recession while unemployment is falling. I don't think it's a positive that we'll have a recession, but we probably will. Government cannot bail out society. It's like what Ron Paul said. I'm not a fan of Ron Paul, but he said something very smart. He said the stimulus package is us borrowing $150 billion from China to buy $160 billion worth of toys from China and then we'll owe China $160 billion. That is not a very good solution. Recessions come and go. People have to ride through them. In Ohio, a stimulus package is not going to save them. Those people need to be re-trained. They have to move to the Sun Belt. Big changes have to be made in Ohio. It's very sad. But, changes have to be made.
Alexis Glick: Charles, let's talk about this for a second. In this last month's data, we saw loss in manufacturing jobs, construction jobs, retail jobs, private sector jobs… yes, we might have a better unemployment rate, but we saw job losses across the job. You're campaigning in Wyoming today. What are you going to say? Aren't you going to talk about those solutions and don't some of those solutions imply that the government has to bail you out?
Charles Payne: Well, you've got to appease the voters and I think that's disingenuous. That's a big problem with politics to begin with. Everyone here seems to think these guys won't match up their rhetoric once they're in office, but I disagree because I imagine both candidates would want to run for re-election. Having said that, I do agree with Ben in the sense that there's a thing called creative destruction: We go through hard times, the world changes, we change. What was a hot industry 100 years ago will not be a hot industry 100 years from now. We cannot artificially make those hot industries. We cannot pay people to do jobs where there's not real capitalistic incentive to do that.
Ben Stein: Wyoming is booming.
Alexis Glick: That's true. They have a phenomenal unemployment rate compared to the country.
Ben Stein: They're booming insanely.
Leigh Gallagher: One interesting thing about the jobs numbers is government jobs contributed a lot to why the unemployment rate was down. If you take out the government jobs, the jobs number would have looked worse. So, government spending creates jobs. We're talking about another stimulus plan. One option would be to increase federal spending, build projects, build roads; that's a way to create jobs all around the country.
Tracy Byrnes: We're back to the Bill Clinton era. From 1993 to 2001 we had big government, lack of accountability… I mean Bill had the time of his life in the White House but the rest of us suffered from it. I don't think we want to go back there. And I'm really surprised that the voters want to vote that back in. I don't know why we'd want to repeat that.
Alexis Glick: Adam look. The candidates are out on the campaign trail. Isn't this what we'd expect from Sen. McCain?
Adam Lashinsky: Yeah, except to get back to free trade. Sen. McCain took the unpopular position and told the voters there needs to be job retraining and there needs to be free trade. That actually is the right policy thing to say. I think this will be one of the biggest issues come November.
Head to Head: Is Congress and Its Push for Ethanol to Blame for High Food Prices?
Alexis Glick: No doubt you've noticed it's getting more and more expensive to feed your family. Someone here says you have Congress to thank because of its push to go green. Let's go "Head to Head."
Charles Payne: It's the Congress and the president. They have equal blame in this thing. I don't think anyone took the time to figure out how much it'd cost to make ethanol and get the finished product into cars. Obviously, it's just not working. But, not only is it hurting Americans, it's crushing people all around the world. Particularly Mexico where corn is a staple. I also blame the environmentalists because they pushed this agenda so hard… the notion of saving Mother Earth at the expense of man. We have a lot of assets here. Ultimately, we want to get to an alternative fuel source. But ethanol? It's completely off the mark.
Alexis Glick: And just to clarify: Ethanol is being used as an alternative fuel source. Tracy, who is to blame? Is it Congress? Or is it rising commodities prices globally?
Tracy Byrnes: Yes, we have to look at that. We are in a commodities bubble. People are pouring their money in because they don't know where else to put it right now. Even the Average Joe is buying wheat. There's no financials on commodities. People don't know how to research them. Yet everyone's buying gold, and oil's a speculative bubble that's about to burst. I think the market has a lot to do with why prices are on the rise.
Alexis Glick: Adam, is that legit?
Adam Lashinsky: To put a finer point on what Tracy said, I think we're in a commodities boom. We may be in a bubble, but there's definitely a boom. There's no question that Congress and the president deserve part of the blame for the rise in the price in corn because of the ethanol mandates, but there are a couple of other factors here. When oil started shooting up to $100 / bbl, the ethanol producers were emboldened. They said any prices over $42 / bbl and they could make money. And, the growing demand for food from places such as China and India has as much to do with this as the Congressional mandates on ethanol. Remember, wheat is not part of ethanol, but the price of wheat is skyrocketing.
Alexis Glick: Ben, let me turn to you here. Since President Bush signed the energy policy act into legislation back in August of 2005, to date a bushel of corn is up 148 percent, bread goods up 20 percent, eggs up 86 percent. Across the board, most food commodities are up major double digits. Who's to blame?
Ben Stein: Congress and the president without question. Although, there has been a drought in Australia which has cut back wheat production worldwide. But, ethanol is a disaster. It doesn't produce as much energy as it costs to make it. That is, it uses up more petroleum and fossil fuels to make a barrel of ethanol than ethanol produces. So, it's a net energy loser. It's just a catastrophically bad idea. It drives up the price of eggs because chickens eat corn stock. It's just an all around disaster. It's a major lesson in what happens when Congress micro-manages economic policy.
Leigh Gallagher: I agree. Ben makes some great points. This has been a real big boondoggle to the corn industry. And by the way, it's been mostly to big corn farmers and not little corn farmers. So, it's not been distributed in the best way. You have to remember, the food headlines are recent, but the commodities boom started in 2001. It's been huge and driven by global shifts in demand. Another thing we can't forget is oil prices. As oil prices go up, it costs a lot to process the food, to fuel the tractors, then to transport everything to the grocery store… that's had a big impact as well.
Alexis Glick: I know the Charles Payne I sit with every morning. You're thinking… what about drilling for oil in Alaska? What about finding other sources that are sitting on the mainland or off-shore?
Charles Payne: Absolutely. I mean, how many people out there bought a hybrid because they felt guilty about not having one even though it cost $9,000 more than a regular car and you'll never recoup that money. The environmentalists have the upper hand: Everything that's green is politically correct. And I think Ben made a great point… when these politicians try to appease, to always ends up disastrous.
Alexis Glick: So what's the resolution, Adam?
Adam Lashinsky: The politicians have been trying to appease the corn growers for 20 years. It didn't work until the price of oil started shooting sky-high. Charles, much of what you and Ben said about ethanol is right… right now in 2008. But, the story's not over. I think ethanol will be part of our future.
Charles Payne: But not corn-based ethanol though.
Adam Lashinsky: Fair enough.
Tracy Byrnes: Either way, we need an alternative energy plan here at home. That should be the first and foremost thing on the agenda, quite frankly. I really think we're going to see prices go up because we have momentum in these plays. People are going to put more and more money there and unfortunately, the little guy is going to get in too late and out too late… just like he did in the tech bubble.
More for Your Money: Momentum Stocks!
Alexis Glick: Momentum. As Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama fight for it in Wyoming right now, our gang's got the stocks fighting for you!
Leigh Gallagher: Exelon (EXC )
Charles Payne: Priceline (PCLN)
*Charles owns shares of this stock.
Adam Lashinsky: Fluor (FLR )
Ben Stein: iShares MSCI EAFE Index (EFA)
*Ben owns shares of this ETF.
FOX on the Spot
Charles Payne: Gov't Fixes Infrastructure; "PCR " Up 40 percent by Next March!
Adam Lashinsky: The "Green" Bubble has Burst; Buy SunTech Power (STP )!
Ben Stein: Fed Needs to Do More to Turn the Credit Crunch Around
Leigh Gallagher: Circuit City (CC ) Short-Circuiting; Good for Best Buy
Tracy Byrnes: Beer Drinkers Beware! Price of Suds Going up 20-30 percent!
Alexis Glick: Dems Getting too Dirty; Need to Clean Up to Win WH
In Focus: Democratic ‘Dream Ticket' of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton: Dream or Nightmare for the Markets?
Elizabeth Macdonald, Fox Business Network: A Democratic dream ticket would be a nightmare. I hate to say this because I am a Yankee Democrat, but what these two are campaigning on is a really negative, angry, populist message that we haven't seen since Carter. Nothing would get done; you would have three presidents in the White House –Bill, Hillary, and Obama. You need serious social security reform, you need tax reform. These three would be fighting tooth and nail about their own legacies while serious problems that face this country wouldn't get solved.
Mike Ozanian, National Editor: A "dream ticket" would be a dream for all the same reasons Liz just sited. It would help the republicans capture the White House. We'd get tax cuts – that's good for the economy. It would be one big comedy show. Saturday Night Live would have a constant blast with it.
Steve Forbes, Editor-in-Chief: Nightmare for the markets and a nightmare for the nation because each would be pushing the other left. What Obama brings is a lot of young people who would go for that ticket, especially if he's at the top, and they wouldn't stop with Obama. They'd go straight down the line. If he's not on that ticket, they probably won't vote.
Bill Baldwin, Editor: Mike is right. It would be great for the market and the economy. Whether it's Clinton, Clinton, Obama or Obama, Clinton, there's a lot of people that don't like one of those three, add them all up, and they'll make sure McCain will get elected. That means it's less likely that we'll have legislation punishing savers, investors, people who work hard, and people that create jobs.
Victoria Barret, Associate Editor: So this would be the Bill-Hill-Bama ticket? Is that what we're calling it? I think in some ways this would be a dream for the same reasons Mike pointed out. These two cannot fight so hard then get together and kiss and make-up and still appeal to what are two different voter bases. I think it would be great news for McCain.
Neil Weinberg, Senior Editor: You're totally wrong. Didn't you see the kissing and hugging between Bush and McCain? The fact is this would be a nightmare for two reasons. One, this would get out the base for the democrats. If you came out with a standard vice president like Bill Richardson, boring, no one is going to come out for him. Secondly, this would be a Karl Marx healthcare system and crippling taxes. This would be the democrats best shot, so it's a nightmare.
Flipside: $4 Gas: Time to Drill More Here at Home!
Steve Forbes: Yes. Start with Alaska where a portion of ANWAR, as they call it, is off limits. Let's find out what's there. The oil industry for 15 years has had the technology to do it in an environmentally sound way, so let's find out. Another area is offshore. Outer continental shelf, tens of billions of barrels of oil and gas equivalents out there, so why are we hurting ourselves like this?
Victoria Barret: We've got to quit our dependence on oil. There's real innovation we can work towards. Why drill now at a time when a lot of money is going towards alternative energy?
Rich Karlgaard, Publisher: Two quick reasons why we should drill in ANWR. Number one, the Alaskans are all for it. Republicans, democrats, natives, everybody says this is not a pristine area. Have you ever been to ANWR? It's bleak! Drill for oil. And hasn't Victoria been paying attention? This is the coldest winter in forty years. This whole global warming argument against drilling for oil is a crock.
Lea Goldman, Senior Editor: It sounds like a compelling short-term solution, but I'm all for long-term solutions because the day after tomorrow we're going to have the same problem. We're all scrambling, we've got a finite source. What are we going to do when it's depleted? Well, let's go to Alaska. Alternative energy is where the future is at. This is an industry the U.S. could lead the world in. We could be green millionaires and billionaires and take this industry and lead the rest of the world. This is where the action and where the future is at.
John Rutledge, Forbes Contributor: That would be nice, but we'd be dead before you get there. Victoria wants to return to the glorious days of being hunters and gatherers. We were taller then, thinner, but we used 100 percent of our energy to find food, and you died when you were in your early 20s. The reason we're rich and fat today is because we've learned how to use stored energy in the form of oil, gas, and coal. ANWR has lots of it. We've got $100 oil, soldiers dying in Iraq and food prices around the world going up because of ethanol.
Elizabeth MacDonald: It's a compelling argument, but the department of energy says it would only reduce our import dependence by four percentage points, and it would take 15 years to bring that oil on line. It's a drop in the bucket at a time when we're possibly discovering big oil fields in Iraq and off the coast of Brazil. John McCain is against it and the state of Alaska wants to sue the BP for all the oil spills there in Prudhoe Bay. So it is a serious issue.
Debate: Is the United States in a Recession or Not?
Steve Forbes: Well we have a severe slowdown and obviously housing is in a depression with the financial industry. But if you look at the economy as a whole, there's plenty of liquidity out there. Plenty of small and medium companies are buying into their stock. By the second and third quarters, I think you're going to start to see economic growth. This is the tail end of a financial panic that this administration and Federal Reserve have badly mishandled, but eventually they will get it right
Bill Baldwin: Listen, I don't even trust the government statistics because I think they monkey with the CPI numbers – the inflation numbers. But I think the animal spirits are down. People are feeling depressed and feeling poor because they spend more money at the gas pump and their houses aren't piggy banks anymore. So, I think in that sense we are in a recession.
John Rutledge: I think we're not in a recession. In fact, I think that's the wrong question. A recession means falling GDP, falling GDP is just not happening right now. That doesn't mean things are ok. As Steve said, we have lots of pain in the assets market. It's in real estate, stocks and bonds. That's the eye of the hurricane. The danger is this could turn into a recession if banks stop lending working capital to small businesses. It hasn't happened yet, but so far the government has done almost nothing to fix the real problem.
Lea Goldman: I find it interesting John uses such technical terms to define whether we're in a recession or not. That's the difference between Main Street and Wall Street. Main Street operates by the gut and exactly as Bill said, they are feeling the pinch at the pumps and the supermarkets. For me what's going to be the proof in the pudding are those rebate checks come back in June. Folks aren't going to be pumping it back in to the economy by using the money to buy flat screens. They're going to be using it to defray the cost of the rising price of a gallon of milk, the rising cost of bread, home heating oil, and gas to fill their cars. And it's going to do nothing.
Rich Karlgaard: No Lea, it's the difference between rigor and sloth and getting things right. If you wake up in the morning and you have a headache and a queasy stomach, you could have the flu or you could have a hangover. It's important to get the diagnosis right. What we have is a hangover. The only way you break that is to raise interest rates, not lower them, but you've got to simultaneously cut taxes or you're going to cause too much pain.
Informer: Billionaire Stocks!
Josh Lipton, Forbes.com Staff Writer: Larry Ellison and Oracle (ORCL)
Neil Weinberg: Warren Buffet and Berkshire Hathaway B (BRK.B)
Mike Ozanian: Barry Diller and IAC/Interactive Corp (IACI)
Victoria Barret: Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Google (GOOG)
Primary Do-Overs in Florida and Michigan: Should Taxpayers Foot the Bill?
As Democrats debate whether to stage do-over primaries in Michigan and Florida, the question becomes: who pays? Should taxpayers fund the new voting?
Julia Piscitelli, Valentine, Democratic Strategist: I think it's a lot less about democratic voters more than what Jonathan thinks. I'm surprised he would agree these are economic stimulus packages for Florida. This is the size of the super bowl. The reason New Hampshire likes to preserve its first in the country stats is because it brings $100 million in. And we're talking about people with 18 million people. This could bring in $500 million. Well, if these states choose to agree to a do-over, it's not as though these states aren't going to get a tremendous benefit. The eyes of the entire world will be on these primaries. You have to give everybody a chance to re-campaign and put millions of dollars in ad sales.
Dagen McDowell, Fox Business Network: Not every taxpayer is a democrat and now it's a fight the leaders don't want the taxpayers to pay for it. It shouldn't happen. It's going to fall on the democrats and look at how much money Barack Obama alone has raised in February let him and Clinton he brought in a record $55 billion, Hillary brought in $34 million in one month. Let their campaigns pay for it if they don't like it.
Jonathan Hoenig, CapitalistPig Asset Management : If the state parted with the move they should pay for the consequences including raising the $18 million or $25 million. It's not public's responsibility to accommodate the political tactics.
Wayne Rogers, Wayne Rogers and Co.: This is most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. You're going to charge taxpayers to fund the Democratic Party because they were so moronic in the first place in canceling the thing? I mean, this is the dumbest idea I've ever heard in my life. You can't charge taxpayers just because you want to infuse the economy, for god's sake. Give it to me. I'll infuse the economy and go out there and help those states. This is crazy. Unbelievable! The democrats made this decision in the first place. They are the cause of the problem. Let them fix it. They should fix it.
Either at the national or state level. Dagen is absolutely right. This is a moronic thing to have the taxpayers pay for it. The democrats made their mess. Let them clean it up. I don't care what party it is. I'm not against democrats or republicans. It's their problem, let them fix it.
Jonas Max Ferris, MaxFunds.com: In the sense i have no sympathy for Michigan or Florida but i think the general taxpayers should -- it's funded by who can raise money and because that we haven't had a President who isn't rich. I'm talking the entire thing cost-related to running for president should be picked up by taxpayers. It's in the grand scheme of government spending it's not that much money to remove the special interests. Look at all the rich people running for the white house and these aren't even people.
Oregon Health Care Lottery: Is That What Universal Care Would Bring?
The state of Oregon is starting a lottery for people who can't afford private health insurance but who are not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. Is that would national health care would look like if it came to the U.S.?
Jonathan: The more government gets involved in health care the worse it gets so you will see rationing and the quality of everybody's health care will go way down. So yeah, if you want your health care run like NASA or the post office or Amtrak or social security get behind a socialized health care program because that's what you're going to get. The problem is that the free market has not failed health care. We don't have free health care. The customers are incentivized to provide health care. Let's move in the direction of expanding our free market and health care and not more towards a government-run health care which is going to make the quality of care worse for everybody.
Dagen: When you have this number of uninsured people the estimate is 47 million that it drives up the cost of care for everybody including you because you do have people going into emergency rooms and driving up the cost. However, I do agree with you on one point that when the government gets overloaded there's no telling in how a national health care plan could falter or fail because just look at Medicare…They can't even fix that. What they are not telling you is they are going to have to put limits on how much health care you can get in order to make this thing whole. But thanks to stores like Wal-Mart and cheap generic prescription drugs, that's got to help at least a little bit.
Julia: I think this is not exactly what we have to look forward to. What Oregon is facing is that they don't have the money to pay for everybody and the people who are in the lottery are in the lottery to pay for health care. They are not getting free care. I don't think this country can afford not to make sure people are insured. Women who are insured are 50 percent more likely to have a mammogram, a pap smear. If we don't make sure people are getting diagnosed with these kinds of diseases with breast cancer, with cervical cancer if those people are not insured we all pay the price. They go into emergency rooms, they're expensive -- This is what we're trying to prevent. We're trying to prevent this from getting worse.
Jonas: Oregon is actually has the cheapest health care in the country so there could be something to it. If everybody gets the crummy health care it's better than the emergency rooms. Everybody wants the private health care so you want to dole out a cheap lousy government plan to everybody and still have your own plan to get off of it.
Wayne: Listen, if it's going to help certain people, I think it's fine. Let them try to do something. It's not going to hurt anything. It's a lottery that's already paid for. This is not as bad an economic stimulus package than it is to pump money back into the democrats to have a revote. Dagen is right in the sense that health care run by the government is a horrible cost, out of control. We can't pay for it now. If they get into the full health care business unless we have some way to pay for this before we talk about what is needed, talk about how to pay for it and then you'll be ok.
Best Way to Fix the Housing Mess: Let Prices Tank?
With the talk of government bailouts for homeowners facing foreclosure swirling around Washington, would it be a better solution to leave the feds out and let prices free-fall to help get the housing market back on track?
Peter Schiff, Euro Pacific Capital: Well, remember we're in this mess because of the inflated home prices which led people to overpay for their homes, borrow more money than they were worth. It's the reason we had teaser rates and arms. People were overpaying for homes and if you look at the glut of homes on the market and foreclosure recovery rates of only 50 cents on the dollar, nobody is going to lend on this rambling. They have to plunge. But unfortunately that's going to bring in a whole new set of problems because now we're going to have bigger losses for the lenders, more people walking away and when more homeowners come to the realization all their home equity is gone, they are going to have to cut back on their spending. A lot of homeowners want to walk away. There's no incentive for these people to stay in these bad bets. Now that the bets have gone south, they are willing to walk away.
Jonathan: Julia, now you've got me paying for your mortgage and pap smear. Anything else you want me to pay for? But the role of government is what it gets back to. It's not to pay for people's mortgages or get them out of bad deals. It's not to pay for the consequences of your own poor decisions. The more the government doesn't stand in the way, the shorter the problem takes.
Wayne: We're headed for the south, and it's probably a good thing. Yes, you've got to do – the biggest fallout of this is not so much that some poor person is losing their house. That will work out. Banks do not want to foreclose. People do not want to foreclose. That is a drastic measure because then they've got to write off the loan or write the loan down. They are going to have to do this in some form or fashion.
The best thing to do is for the borrower and the lender to get together but the borrower and the lender no longer know each other. They no longer know where the loan is and that's one of the problems, one of the ways to fix this is to put them back together.
Jonas: We've been saying we needed a 50 percent correction. That doesn't mean it will happen in if a year. If that happens fast in a year, you're going to have a huge depression. It has to happen slowly. It has to happen but falling 5 percent a year for four years and plummeting in one year.
Julia: One of the things that the lawmakers are talking about is a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures which is not a long-term fix. What this does is it could allow the people the time be it three months or fife months to get out of these mortgages that they shouldn't have been in in the first place and get into something they could afford. We're talking about people who are going to end up. Jonathan, you're going to end up paying for these people anyway because they are going to have to go into public housing or be subsidized by the people somehow. Wayne is saying is right it is better for them to get together and allow someone the time to get out from under something they couldn't afford in the first place.
Best Bets: Safe Stocks
Our money experts offer their safe bets for an unsure market.
Jonathan's pick: Principal Protected Global Currency Basket (GBO )
Peter's pick: Telecom Corp. of New Zealand (NZT )
Jonas' pick: Wal-Mart (WMT )
Wayne's pick: Leucadia National Corp. (LUK )