Cashin In

Recap of Saturday, December 26

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.

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Bulls & Bears

On Saturday December 26, Brenda Buttner was joined by Gary B. Smith, Tobin Smith, Pat Dorsey, Eric Bolling and Julian Epstein.

Will Dems' 'Married' Health Care Bill Cost Under $900 Billion or Over $5 Trillion?

Tobin Smith, NBT Media: There's just no way the compromised health care bill will really cost under $900 billion. I've actually read this bill. Look at the price controls they're trying to put in place, such as limits on administrative costs for running small business or individual health plans; currently, administrative costs for these policies are about 25 percent to 35 percent. Congress wants to cap those costs at 10 percent. If price controls are put in place, these health insurance companies are going out of business. When that happens, that's when Congress can deliver its real plan. Who's going to insure all the Americans who'll lose coverage from health insurance companies going out of business? The U.S. government and U.S. taxpayer. We could easily see the cost of this plan mushroom to $5 trillion.

Julian Epstein, Democratic strategist: Critics of this health care plan have to be living in another world. They've consistently said that the Congressional Budget Office is the Holy Grail when it comes to figuring out what the impact on the deficit will be. The CBO has said the Senate bill will reduce the deficit by over $100 billion - the largest such plan in a generation. The critics say, to get there, the government will have to make major Medicare cuts, service fee cuts, reduce hospital readmissions, etc. and Congress will never do that. But the government has cracked down on wasteful health-care related spending successfully before — namely when President Clinton was in office. So enforcement works.

Gary B. Smith, TheChartman.com: These numbers are totally skewed. Most of the projected 10-year costs don't even kick in until 2014; the back half of the 10-year time frame. The real question here is, what is it all going to cost after 10 years? How about 20 years or 50 years from now? That's the real problem, and the fact very few people are pointing to. Every other major government program where the costs balloons at the back end are basically broke, like Medicare and Social Security. These sorts of programs never come anywhere near their projected budgets.

Eric Bolling, Fox Business Network: There's still time for Congressional members to say, "what about me?" Nebraska, Massachusetts, etc. get huge benefits from this legislation. I wouldn't be surprised if more states didn't try to get their share. But down the road, the costs for this reform are going to far exceed projections. This bill isn't really addressing health care costs. They’re going to continue to go up. As they do, guess who's bearing the brunt of it? Government. Whatever the CBO numbers are, you have to assume costs will rise over the long term. And I don't think the right math has been done to gauge the costs of this legislation.

Pat Dorsey, Morningstar.com: Unfortunately, cost containment has really been an afterthought in this whole process. Containing costs has to be a part of the method in extending coverage. Congress really missed a gigantic opportunity with this reform. It had the political rule to truly reform this massive, complex, critical issue, and whiffed it. We pay too much and get too little in return for our health care. We really need to direct our focus to things like tort reform, fee for service, and core issues that cause us to inefficiently spend all this money for health-related services.

Health Care Battle Delays White House Jobs Plan; Great for Job Market?

Eric Bolling: This will be great for jobs. The more they're delayed, the more jobs are probably going to rebound. This is the healthier way to stimulate job creation. Temporary stimulus for companies to hire won't last once the money is taken away. The jobs being created without help from the government are the ones that'll stick. I hope the day never comes when the White House can actually get a jobs bill passed.

Julian Epstein: This jobs bill shouldn't be delayed. The arguments saying a jobs bill shouldn't be passed are the same sorts of arguments made for why the stimulus plan has been bad. They just aren't true. Before the stimulus, economic growth was at negative 6 percent, Now, we're seeing positive GDP growth. Unemployment is still high, but before the stimulus, we were losing 750,000 jobs a month. That's what President Bush left President Obama with. As a result of the steps the government has taken to help the economy, we're starting to see the beginning of a recovery. If the private sector isn't going to create jobs on hire on its own, then the government needs to help create a short-term solution. Too many Americans are unemployed or underemployed not to.

Tobin Smith: Look at the stimulus, it cost the government an average of $230,000 to create a job. That's government efficiency for you. But the real core issue here is the natural business cycle during economic expansions and recessions. The natural business cycle will create jobs as they're needed. And we cannot forget that the majority of stimulus money hasn't even been spent yet. The thing that really put the zip back in our economy was the Federal Reserve making massive purchases of commercial paper, making financial guarantees, etc.

Pat Dorsey: The jobs bill under discussion really isn’t necessary. The economy is just too large for such a bill to really move the needle. Look at how much we had to spend in the stimulus just for minimal job creation. Right now, job creation really needs to be fairly level. Obviously unemployment is high, and average workweek hours are down. But as the economy improves, employers are going to add hours and more workers.

Gary B. Smith: I actually don’t despise the jobs bill. If you look into it, there are tax breaks for small businesses and potentially on their capital gains taxes. The bill also looks toward modernizing public transportation, which hopefully would include the nation's highway system. The whole infrastructure of the country is broken down and in dire need of repair. My only complaint is the emphasis on green jobs, and I don't like the government picking industries to stimulate.

FAA Spends $5 Million on Atlanta Trip for 3,600 Workers; What?

Gary B. Smith: This whole expenditure is ridiculous. It's not like the FAA employees we're learning about new radar or something. They were learning about new contracts. You do not need to be face to face for this stuff. It's completely possible to have video conferencing for something like this. But this is just another great case of government waste proving government employees somehow thinking they're above the private sector.

Julian Epstein: This isn't like AIG where the government bailed a company out, and then employees went out on some luxury retreat. Government agencies frequently bring large portions of their staff together for conferences. This is typical, and it's also typical in the private sector. Should the government totally stop having conferences?

Tobin Smith: The FAA is just following the lead of government leadership. Just keep spending other people's money for whatever means the government sees fit, and somehow it's good for the country and the economy.

Eric Bolling: This is just baffling. One of the FAA managers actually said the conference beat being at work. What a slap in the face to the millions of Americans out of work. How can they defend this?

Predictions

Gary B. Smith: White Winter! "TTC" plows up 30 percent in 2010!

Tobin Smith: "Party hopper" great for economy! "MOT" doubles in 1 year

Pat Dorsey: Keep your money health! Buy "WLP" for 50 percent benefit in 1 year

Eric Bolling: Carbon "pawprint" is a joke! "PETM" barks up 30 percent by August, 2010

Bulls & Bears | Cavuto on Business | Forbes on Fox | Cashin' In

Cavuto on Business

On Saturday December 26, 2009 Charles Payne was in for Neil Cavuto. He was joined by Ben Stein, Adam Lashinsky, Joe Battipaglia, Mat McCall and Leigh Gallagher.

Are Dems Buying Health Care Votes With Taxpayer Dollars?

Ben Stein, Author, "How to Ruin the U.S.A.": I think this is probably illegal under the 14th Amendment which guarantees all citizens of the U.S. equal protection under the law. We effectively have bribes being paid out to individual states, particularly Nebraska, to specifically benefit only the citizens of the particular state. If I were the governor of a state not getting a payoff, I'd sue the federal government, demanding it pay all of their state's Medicaid bills, for example. This is just such raw bribery, it's risen to the level that merits legal action.

Matt McCall, Penn Financial Group: There are probably more of these payoffs to come. But I'm sick of hearing people say this is business as usual. Why does that make it okay to do? Correct me if I'm wrong, but when President Obama was running for office, he said he was going to change business as usual. But this isn't change, it's bribery — something straight out of "The Sopranos."

Leigh Gallagher, Fortune Magazine: Deal making is the lifeblood of legislation, just as it's the lifeblood of business. Democrats saw victory in reach, and they got done what they had to do to get this legislation passed. Not too long ago, back in 2003, the Republicans passed the last big health care entitlement bill with prescription drugs. And the GOP pulled many of the same shenanigans to get that legislation passed. But this is nothing we haven't seen before.

Joe Battipaglia, Stifel Nicolaus: There's a tremendous amount of outrage out there. We're supposed to be getting low cost, affordable health care for all Americans. But if this were low cost, then why do Senators need to opt out so they don't have to bear any of the burdens? If rationing isn't an inevitable result of this legislation, then why do certain states get special provisions or the ability to opt-out of programs? We're being exposed to the fraud that lies at the core of this legislation. It's out of control.

Adam Lashinsky, editor-at-large, Fortune Magazine: No one should be shocked here. Is it a good thing that this sort of stuff happens? No, not at all. Did people actually expect this to be a painless process? Tens of millions of people will get health insurance, which was the primary goal of this legislation. And it's going to be relatively cheap. The government is not reaching into your pocket and stealing money. They're appropriating tax revenues for government programs, just like anything else. Nothing illegal is going on here.

Will Bitter Health Care Fight Kill Dems' Global Warming Tax Plan?

Matt McCall: If the proposed global warming tax gets killed, that'll be great for the economy. It'll finally help stop the spending. We're going to spend a ton of money on health care legislation, but now we may not have to worry about cap and trade. This standstill is going to be great for the economy — it won't be burdened with higher taxes, and manufacturers won't have new hurdles to jump over.

Ben Stein: We should be getting rid of cap and trade. It's just a solution in search of a problem. The whole idea of cap and trade changing the climate is just nonsense. This would cost our economy trillions over the long term and change global temperatures by a totally insignificant amount. This is a means to pay off the green people in the Democratic Party and President Obama's big supporters.

Adam Lashinsky: Most reasonable people I talk to don't like this legislation. Actually, it's not the greens who actually like cap and trade the most. It is major polluters. The way the legislation is crafted now, they get a huge financial "gimmie" at the front of the plan. I wouldn't be surprised if this legislation fails — it's certainly imperfect enough to do so.

Joe Battipaglia: There's little public support for cap and trade. The House of Representatives in the depths of the recession went and forged ahead with this bill anyway. I don't think it'll go away — the Democrats have the majority. As long as they do, they'll try to pass something. The problem is if cap-and-trade doesn't happen, it'll be a carbon tax. If not that, then the EPA will step in and regulate as it sees fit and go after polluters. Something will happen.

Leigh Gallagher: There's no question it'll be more difficult to pass all things on the Democratic agenda after this health care fight. There's actually a number of usually opposing forces who've united against cap and trade, which will make its passage even more difficult. Democratic senators from coal producing states and every single Republican will fight this thing, so it's very much an uphill battle. And there are much bigger issues Congress should be tackling, like financial reform.

Who'll Save Economy: Shoppers on Main Street or Lawmakers in D.C.?

Matt McCall: The consumer is going to save this economy. Most surveys show we'll actually see a small gain of about 1 percent to 1.5 percent is sales this holiday season over the last. And many Americans are looking to spend cash instead of credit cards. Americans are spending money they actually have. It's a great sign—not even a huge snow storm could stop sales.

Adam Lashinsky: I actually think we get too bogged down looking at Christmas numbers, which are relatively meaningless in the grand scheme of things. I think the trend moving forward is that the consumer won't be the driver of economic growth compared to the last 10 years or so. People are spending cash instead of credit, spending less overall, and staying within their means more or less.

Joe Battipaglia: Hopefully inflation concerns won't cause people to spend money "willy nilly". The government has tried its share of ways to stimulate the economy, and it just hasn't worked. The government cannot succeed throwing good money after bad money. Unfortunately, the government is going to keep spending, but pressure on the dollar, reduce consumer confidence, and repress the consumer's ability to revive the economy.

Ben Stein: It's good for the consumer to regain confidence, but a rise in consumption won't have enough effect to bring the U.S. back into a recovery alone. The economy doesn't recover due to government intervention — it recover because 300 million Americans start making prudent decisions of when to save, spend, what to invest money and capital in, etc. The consumer absolutely knows best.

Leigh Gallagher: I think this uptick in holiday sales were a blip. But people are looking for more emotional purchases this season, so they're spending more. Long-term though, there really are significant spending and saving changes that'll take place with the American consumer. Going forward, the government should help with jobs to some degree, because that's the key to help re-trigger consumer spending.

Stock Gifts to Keep Forever!

Joe Battipaglia: Unitedhealth (UNH)

Adam Lashinsky: Powershares DB Agriculture (DBA)

Matt McCall: Alpha Natural Resources (ANR)

Ben Stein: Vanguard Total World Stock Market Index (VTWSX)

Bulls & Bears | Cavuto on Business | Forbes on Fox | Cashin' In

Forbes on Fox

On Saturday, December 26 2009, Stuart Varney was joined by Steve Forbes, Quentin Hardy, Mike Ozanian, Mike Maiello, Evelyn Rusli, Victoria Barret, and Elizabeth MacDonald.

In Focus: Senate Health Care Bill Puts Limits on Health Insurers' Profits; Will It Put Limits on Health Care Quality Too?

Stuart Varney: Government-run health care -- closer now than ever before in American history. Harry Reid's near $900 billion health plan passes its final hurdle in the Senate. Now some at Forbes fear its call to put a cap on health insurance profits will put a cap on the quality of health care in America. Mike Ozanian -- limiting health care profits will limit health care quality?

Mike Ozanian: Stuart, this is just another step in President Obama's march towards eliminating private insurance. What he wants to do is raise the medical loss ratio which would force insurers to increase the amount of money they pay out for coverage. When companies have high medical loss ratios their share prices typically fall making it much more difficult to raise capital. This is a big step towards eliminating private insurance companies.

Mike Maiello: Mike has to remember that my insurance company is not my friend. So when I go out for my weekly liberal game of soccer and if I get injured and go to the doctor and need treatment my insurance company unfortunately has an incentive to deny that so they can save the money and put it right towards the bottom line. So somebody has to tell them NO. He pays premiums and a certain amount of money has to go to his needs whether you like it or not.

Steve Forbes: It's a low-margin business anyway. This isn't something like a tech startup so their margins are very small to begin with. Moreover, this is a form of price controls and price controls do not work. So what you are going to get is these firms will be virtual arms of the government which means one size fits all. The only choice you'll have is on the size of your deductible and co-pays otherwise it's what the government says goes. It's socialized medicine pure and simple.

Quentin Hardy: Well, not if you believe what the health insurers themselves tell you. You have to understand what a medical loss ratio means. It means that the loss is what they paid out to actually take care of people. They have an incentive not to take care of people. That's where the profits are. They claimed that their loss ratio was 87 percent. That means that 13 percent profits. This sets it at 85 percent. That would be 15 percent profits. Well gee that would be better. How come they would be complaining about that? Well because the senate investigated and found that in fact their ratio was 84 percent or 16 percent profits at big companies, 20 percent at small companies, and a whopping 26 percent profitability insuring individuals. That's amazing.

Elizabeth MacDonald: I think what matters more is the shortage of doctors than what's going on with health insurance companies. What you need to remember is that doctors are delivering the quality care in this country. There's about 17,000 doctors needed in rural and inner city areas. There are no doctors to fill those spaces. We are going to be having a doctor shortage by more than 125,000 by 2025. When you talk about quality care -- watch the horse dealing in Congress. Seventeen states are exempt from the 40 percent excise tax on Cadillac plans to get those elected officials in and Medicare Advantage won't be cut back in three counties in Florida to get that politician to vote got the bill.

Evelyn Rusli: The bottom line is that health care companies should be spending more on health care. When I pay for health care, I expect good access to health care. I don't care what Walmart makes in terms of profit margins but this is different. This is our health care industry. They should be putting money towards access and not putting so much money on administrative costs as well as bonuses. That type of thing should be minimized.

Is Hiking a Payroll Tax By 60 Percent to Pay for Health Care Reform a Job Killer Plan?

Stuart Varney: Brace yourself. A 62-percent tax hike is coming down the pike. It'll raise the Medicare payroll tax. It's part of the Senate's newly passed health care plan. They say it'll only hit families making $250,000 and individuals making $200,000 a year. But Steve says the real hit will be to America's job creators and job market.

Steve Forbes: First of all you are raising the cost of labor even if it's skilled labor so you're going to get less of that. But more importantly you're destroying capital. For three years this money doesn't go towards health care. It just goes to spend for their current programs. It's not being put in a lockbox or anything and in terms of capital creation it destroys it. It also hurts small businesses because a lot of them pay taxes at a personal rate so you're going to hurt jobs and hurt capital creation.

Mike Maiello: The job creators that you're talking about; these high earners that you're saying are small businesses that are going to hire people. They need the freedom to know that they can leave their employer and setup their own businesses so they are going to be able to buy insurance. The big problems is we need to speed the implementation of these insurance exchanges so these would be entrepreneurs can leave their employers, go strike out on their own, and know that they're still going to be able to buy health coverage. That's what this tax goes for.

Elizabeth MacDonald: Mike is talking about having the explicit backing of the government in these exchanges but when you're talking about these taxes, this is not just taxes. It's coercion. They're insurance mandates. Brute regulatory force we're talking about. You have to pay it and if you don't pay it or buy health insurance, you're going to be hit with a fee. So what you're really talking about is $400 billion in new taxes on the economy. A lot will get picked by small businesses -- 18 new levies and taxes and fees hitting the U.S. economy at the worst possible time. Again this is the worst piece of legislation we have seen coming down the pole in decades.

Quentin Hardy: You seem to think that people without health insurance are not in the system. They are. They just cost less because they show up late and sick. This way if everyone is covered, they tend to get earlier care which is cheaper to the overall system -- a good thing. I believe in Santa Clause but I have to give up on certain other nostrums. After eight years of George Bush, it's pretty clear that tax cuts for the rich in themselves are not enough. The rich are not some miracle engine that creates growth. We had that and it did nothing for over 10 years. We have an economy in a tank that we'll be paying for it for generations because we believed in nostrums. Let's get real. It isn't enough in itself.

Stuart Varney: I want to return to the basic question. Health care payroll tax is a jobs killer.

Victoria Barret: It is and I'm going to tie it to what Quentin said. A family in Silicon Valley that are both engineers, they can be making over $250,000. They'll get it by this tax and they do not feel rich in Silicon Valley. If you talk to venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, they now consider jobs outside of California because our tax rate is so high combined with the federal system. Silicon Valley is losing technology jobs in part because of taxes. This is going to happen nationwide because this is a global job market now. We are going to lose jobs to places that have lower tax rates.

Flipside: Government Plan to Prevent Flying Nightmare Is Bad for Travelers

Stuart Varney: Lots of you getting ready to fly home this holiday weekend and your "Uncle Sam" wants to make sure you aren't held hostage on the tarmac with screaming babies and stale air. A new government rule says airlines have to let you off the plane after being trapped for three hours. If they don't, they could face a $27,500 fine per passenger! But Evelyn Rusli says this new rule is awful for passengers. Evelyn -- explain your Flipside.

Evelyn Rusli: Everyone has had their fair share of airline nightmares, but this $27,000 per passenger penalty being imposed on the airlines is huge and severe. It's going to force airlines to dramatically change their schedules and procedures. That's going to cost a lot of money and who's going to pay for it? Passengers.

Quentin Hardy: There are about 1,500 flights per year that are delayed more than three hours. It sounds like a lot until you realize there are 13.5 million flights a year. We're talking less than .001 percent of all flights being affected by delays of this size. And this $27,500 per passenger penalty is not a guarantee and probably wouldn't apply in all cases. The airlines are a nightmare in terms of customer service. I'm glad someone's putting a collar on these companies.

Mike Ozanian: Since the government had deregulated the airline industry, crashes and risks have gone down, and that's a fact. This is just another step by President Obama to take over another industry. Remember when he said he didn't want to run the auto companies? Well, now he's telling them how to run their manufacturing plants. And if the government really cared about passengers, he'd have the airline companies have to pay their customers in the event of long delays.

Victoria Barret: As the mother of a very small child with loud vocal cords, we need to do something to incentivize the airlines not to keep people stuck on the plane for hours on end. We've heard many horror stories, but it's always after the fact that customers have gone through rough, hours-long stretches trapped on a plane. We need something. Maybe this is just a threat, but the airlines are just awful in terms of customer service and we need it.

Steve Forbes: If the government wanted to do this right, it'd have the airlines give money to the passengers. We really want to solve this problem instead of some generic public gesture. How about reforming the air traffic control system like every other modern country. Take it out of the hand of the government, and put it in the hands of the industry where you can get a proper budget, and proper long-term planning. With modern air traffic control, we could handle twice the traffic we do today, and we wouldn't have to worry about three or four hour delays.

Informer: Stocks on Sale!

David Asman: It's time for those after Christmas sales and our informers have the stocks you can get on the cheap that'll keep on giving all year long:

Mike Ozanian: Weight Watchers (WTW)

Evelyn Rusli: Quanta Services (PWR)

Mike Maiello: Aetna (AET)

Bulls & Bears | Cavuto on Business | Forbes on Fox | Cashin' In

Cashin' In

Ten Percent 'Tan Tax' to Pay for Health Care: Will You Be Burned Next?

Jonathan Hoenig, Capitalistpig Asset Management: isn't it a little bewildering that, at the end of the day, health reform in this country comes down to taxing tanning? Believe me it doesn't stop there. If you like ribs, barbecue sauce, beer, If you like salt or smoking or fast cars or soft drinks or fast food, you're next. Anything deemed to be harmful for society is up for grabs in a collectivist health care system, which is exactly what we're getting.

Chris Kofinis, Democratic strategist: It's a pretty small price pay. You're talking about expanding health care by giving coverage to 30 million people. There's assistance in there for small businesses. I mean, you're talking about a health care plan that's going reduce the deficit in the first 10 years by $130 billion. It's projected to reduce it by well over a trillion in the following decade so. There are positives of this health care plan, in terms of how it helps America become competitive again, because health care has been a competitive disadvantage, not to mention just really quick aside, I can't believe many people actually get a tan every day. That's bizarre to me.

John Layfield, Nutritionmarket.com: You've got to be kidding me. This government — these buffoons are completely our control. They are so reckless with their spending. They spent $2 trillion, and their only answer, is we're going tax tanning beds? You've got to be kidding me. Look, it's only a $5 billion industry completely combined. They're all small business owners, majority of them are women, this is a tax on small business. Can this happen elsewhere? Yes. April 1,2009, President Obama signed a tax for roll your own tobacco. Roll your own tobacco is smoked by low-income people. It was done because the major tobacco brands wanted to force them out of business. They went from $1 a bag to $25 a bag. That is a direct tax on low-income people. No one is spared unless you have a lobbyist or unless you have a congressman in your pocket which a lot of people do. These buffoons need to be thrown out of Congress.

Rebecca Diamond, Fox Business Network: If you're stupid enough –Tracy I know you eat healthy. You make sure you work out. Why should you have to pay for those who use these tanning beds who lay out in the sun and get skin cancer? Why should I have to pay for that if I'm being responsible? We're talking about the need for responsible behavior back in this country, like responsible homeowners, responsible banks, so why should I pay more if I'm not eating that fast food crap and drinking sodas and laying in tanning beds? Why should I pay for smokers? Yeah, John, if they're going to smoke tobacco, then they should pay more being because I'm not going to pay for them when they're being treated for lung cancer.

Wayne Rogers, Wayne Rogers & Company: John is on to something. This is not about tanning tax. This is about the fact that the congress is totally out of control. This is the biggest crime syndicate in the United States. Organized crime, that's what the congress is. Listen, they have bribed Bernie Sanders. They have bribed Ben Nelson in Nebraska. They have bribed these people to get their votes to pass this bill. This is just an outrageous thing. The people of the United States, we're going back to Rome, I'm telling you. This country is falling apart. The people, if they're going support this kind of thing, this is outrageous. All of these guys should be thrown out on their “tushies” tomorrow morning. As I said, the tanning tax is a meaningless thing in comparison to that you will other stuff.

New Wave of Foreclosures Set to Hit Real Estate Market Soon: Good or Bad for Economy in 2010?

Wayne Rogers: This will be good for the economy. It's going to clean up all the inventory that's out there. House sales were up over 7 percent this last month. They're the highest they've been in three years. The more that — the quicker we get all of this stuff out of the way, all of the toxic assets that are foreclosed houses and those kind of things, the better the housing market will be. And also, the better the economy will be. If you put this thing off, it will be hanging over you forever, and that affects everybody.

John Layfield: Look, Wayne's made a lot of money in real estate, but I hate to disagree with my friend, but I respectful do. Existing home sales were up, and new home sales were down ten times the economists' forecasts. Existing home sales sold a record because of an existing tax credit that is set to expire. The problem you have going forward is not just inventory coming up. Wayne is right. They are kicking the can down the road, which we have to reckon with at some point. The problem right here is the government has created the entire housing market. They put a trillion dollars on the fed's balance sheet, 75 percent of the securitization market is run by the fed. Once that stops, liquidity dries up. You talk about mark-to-market, it is going to be mark-to-make believe after this. It comes to roost in 2010.

Chris Kofinis: This is a serious potential next wave in terms of this housing crisis. Here is what disturbs me the most. The problem has gone from being sub-prime to prime. You’re seeing homes with “prime mortgages” being foreclosed on now. I think what has to happen is the government needs to come up with a program that negotiates these loans. If people can afford to stay in their homes, let’s make sure that happens.

Jonathan Hoenig: Well, if they can afford it Chris, they wouldn't be getting foreclosed on. That's why they're getting foreclosed on, because they're not paying their mortgages. All those modifications you harped on the banks for not making, the modification that they have made, and those folks end up defaulting anyway. Reality exists. And we can't pay for it over any more than we already have. Wayne is exactly right. Foreclosures are a positive thing for the marketplace.

Rebecca Diamond: It's to the benefit of the banks if they can maybe not push all this crap on to the market, these foreclosed homes, if they can keep the homeowner and modify it, and to Jonathan's point, yes, some of them have also re-defaulted on their mortgages, but not all of them. And if we have this glut of inventory, then it's to the banks' benefit to maybe gradually try to work some out, gradually put some on the market, not just throw this glut of inventory that's already the problem and that's depressing prices for everyone. It's hurting the economy as a whole, including my own home.

$2 Million to Weatherize Seven Homes: Proof Government Cannot Be Efficient?

John Layfield: Can government be efficient? Absolutely not. Look, none of these guys ever ran a business. Of course they can't run a government. This was federal money. Texas created 57 percent of the jobs nationwide last year. They run a huge surplus right now. 30 percent of electricity here in Dallas is renewable energy. Don't blame Texas. The federal government wants to do this to billions of dollars worth of homes. This is absolutely insane. These guys have run amok.

Chris Kofinis: In terms of the specific example of the situation in Texas, this isn't a failure of President Obama's weatherization or “cash for caulkers” initiative. It's a failure of the state government. It's a failure of Governor Perry. They're the ones implementing the program. They're implementing the problem terribly. They say it's President Obama's fault. It's comical. At the end of the day, this is a good initiative.

Jonathan Hoenig: The whole premise, with all due respect, Chris, is insane. The fact that weatherizing homes creates wealth? That making everything green creates wealth? That government spending creates wealth? That's the whole premise of the Obama administration.

Rebecca Diamond: When you asked of government inefficiency, can you use that in the same sentence? It's like using cupcakes and zero calories in the same sentence. You would hope, you know? And you would hope they try to create jobs with that money. But this is a good example of how it is not happening.

Wayne Rogers: It's the same problem with all government programs. There's no incentive built into it like there is in the private sector. There's no incentive to do this, there is no training of these people. These people don't know how to give these contracts out. They're not trained. They are inexperienced and they're going to lose all the money anyway. It's another boondoggle.

What Do I Need to Know?

Rebecca Diamond: Next week and next year, my mantra on Happy Hour is save the jobs, save the economy. I don't care if they're public, private, green jobs, brown jobs, yellow jobs, whatever. We need jobs in this country.

John Layfield: Business success came home to roost in the last decade. In the next decade, government excess is going to come home to roost. Rates go up, and that's going hurt the economy. Short to long term, 10 year, 30 years, short tiger woods, short President Obama, the way to do it is a fund — TBT — the fund is the easiest way to do it.

Wayne Rogers: I like Web M.D. Regardless of what happens with health care, all of these health care stocks I think WBMD is going to do well. I picked this about six months ago. It's up about 30 percent. It has another good run coming. Happy New Year with this one.

Jonathan Hoenig: We only hear about Israel within the context of militant Islam and missiles, but their market soared this year. EIS is a fund that trades here in the United States that holds basket of Israeli stocks. Israel is the most promising democratic society outside the U.S.