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SHOULD THE SUPER COMMITTEE CONSIDER ANY TAX HIKES?
TRACY BYRNES: Cheryl, the tax hikes will be here forever; the spending cuts you will never see them. All we do is kick spending cuts down the road. We did it with Medicare; they said they were going to cut doctor's payments and never did it. They even said they were going to cut the defense budget and that just keeps getting bigger by the second. We can't seem to rein in spending. Don't believe for a second that they're going to be able to do both simultaneously.
JOHN LAYFIELD: Well, all we're getting in this is the tax hikes. I read through this entire plan this morning and what you see is half are tax hikes, but the other half - what you're seeing is an assumption that we're going to get lower interest rates for our debt, which is several hundred billion dollars. When interest rates this low, that's a pretty drastic assumption and the assumption that you're going to have several hundred billion dollars in Medicare cuts. Not Medicare cuts but savings. You're not seeing hardly any cuts whatsoever in this plan. You have the assumption of lower interest rates and these huge tax hikes. All this thing does is kick the can further down the road and raise taxes to appeal to their base.
CHRISTIAN DORSEY: Well it all depends on who you raise them on and clearly the Democratic plan is all about looking at who's actually been able to get ahead over the last 10 years and seeking to raise taxes there, which seems to me is fair and makes sense. Let's all get it straight, you know Congress is not bound, future Congresses are not bound to follow what this Congress or previous Congresses do when it comes to tax increase or spending cuts, and that's why it's always difficult because decisions are made that are going to impact future legislators, and those future legislators are going to create their own path and not follow necessarily, what anyone has decided to do today.
WAYNE ROGERS: Well I think Christian makes a good point, because you're saying that a lot of this is going to occur in the future. You know, we're going to get the savings from this, from some future plan and that's a good point, but I think you're going to have to have some tax hikes in order to get the Congress to go along with this. In other words you're going to have to balance this somehow. I suggest you just take a one percent tax hike across the board and say okay, that allows a Congressman to back to his constituents and say see, I did get some tax hikes, but we also got the savings. It's a ploy; it's cosmetic, but you've got to do it in order to get something done.
JONATHAN HOENIG: That's what we keep hearing that we have to have compromise. In this case Cheryl; it's 50 percent tax hikes, 50 percent spending cuts. I mean why must there be that 50 percent compromise at all? Anytime you have a compromise between food and poison, guess what the poison wins. Tax hikes are poison. It's sending more productive capital to D.C. It's feeding the beast if you will, and it's sacrificing unfortunately our taxes, which is our liberty, our freedom, our capacity to create wealth and move forward. That's what this plan kills.
WALMART TO MATCH 'ANY PRICE' UNTIL CHRISTMAS: GOOD OR BAD SIGN FOR ECONOMY & HOLIDAY SHOPPING SEASON?
JONATHAN HOENIG: Well we're seeing a lot of the retailers, Cheryl, pull out all the stops trying to take advantage and make these types of offers because of the slowing economy, and despite the rally in the market, there's really not any positive, long-term economic indicators. Wal-Mart is going to make the Christmas season that much easier, with really, what is an amazing deal as you pointed out. I mean a gift card for the difference, without any stimulus, without any grand plan from Washington, Wal-Mart is doing what they've always done what the free market does; benefitting consumers, and you know what? Whether it's a 50 dollar gift card, or a 25 dollar gift card, that's money in people's pockets that they can use to fuel the economy, better their lives, and we need more of it this holiday season and in 2012.
TRACY BYRNES: I think it's more a story about Wal-Mart than it is about the overall economy. Look, I've been bah humbug about the upcoming season and I can't imagine anyone going out and blowing it through the moon because everyone is scared that they're going to lose their job and we know for a fact that savings is going down. We've got less cash in our pockets, but Wal-Mart has been struggling as well. There's dollar stores and Target as you mentioned. A lot more competition out there these days; Amazon is price cutting left and right. Maybe Wal-Mart's just trying to get the upper hand here and be competitive in what's going to be a difficult holiday season.
WAYNE ROGERS: You're right. You've picked out Wal-Mart; you've said it yourself, there are others. Sears, Best Buy, people who are giving all kinds of breaks and I don't think it really has to do with the economy. I think it's competition like Jonathan said, we've got competition in the free market that's what it does. One guy does it, the other guy has to do it. It's better prices for the consumer and better products for the consumer. I must tell you, at Kleinfeld's I'm one of the owners there, and we're having one of the best years we've ever had, and we're not price cutting or doing any of that. I disagree, I think the economy is doing very well right now and the market is just beginning to reflect it.
CHRISTIAN DORSEY: Well first of all, I'm still trying to recover from Jonathan saying the free market always benefits consumers, but aside from that, look, Wal-Mart is trying to compete on price which is part of their business plan, but I will tell you the holiday shopping season is probably going to be about the same as it was last year, which is not robust and it's not great, but that's to be expected. They're not any blockbuster products out there and there's really not anything that's going to drive consumers to dig deeper than they did last year and with high unemployment, there's not really that far that people can go. So, it's going to be about the same as it was last year; this is not really a new thing.
JOHN LAYFIELD: Well I'm not as bullish on the economy as my friend Wayne is. I think with high unemployment and with 3.7 million people that are coming off of long term, 99-weekers, long term benefits, I don't think you're going to see spending like you would see in past Christmases, but Wayne is right about this not being about the economy as far as Wal-Mart. We did this show last year, we did this show two years ago; we're going to do it again next year. Every year Wal-Mart comes out with the best marketing campaign of the Christmas season and gets tons of free press. This is one of the highest rated shows on Fox for the weekend and we're talking about Wal-Mart and low prices. That is the genius of Wal-Mart; they do this every single year; put it out there in a different way, with a different spin and get tons of free publicity. It's marketing genius by Wal-Mart.
LAWMAKER PUSHING FOR FREE DIAPERS: FLUSHING TAX MONEY DOWN THE TOILET?
WAYNE ROGERS: Well you've got food stamps on the front end and now you're going to have diapers on the back end. I mean, you know you're paying for everything; might as well pay for the entire family. Let's get rid of the parents and just have the state take care of everybody. It's nuts; it's totally out of control. You know what it's good for, it's good for Proctor and Gamble.
JOHN LAYFIELD: Hey in Florida right now, Representative Workman wants to legalize dwarf tossing because he thinks that will help the unemployment among the midgets. I'm not making that up. This is what happens when you have politicians look at this world and say oh my God how did I get in office? What am I going to do? Let's throw midgets and give away free diapers.
CHRISTIAN DORSEY: Has anybody actually read this legislation? They really should because it's only a page and it will only take a minute, and it just says that the federal money that goes to the states for childcare services, if the states want to, they can also include diapers as part of childcare services. They leave it up to the states to decide, which is exactly what many of you always talk about. This is not any new money; this is not giving anybody any free stuff. This is just allowing states greater discretion to use federal dollars for people in need.
JONATHAN HOENIG: Well it's actually not the individuals making the choices. Christian, as you said, it's the states that are making the choices and it's sad Cheryl. The whole thing is sad and it's literally swaddling kids in welfare from the moment that they come out of the womb. I think it's disgusting and Wayne, as you pointed out, it sets up the government once again as the parent responsible for taking care of everything from the kid's education; their health care; their diapers God sakes. That is the responsibility of the parent. There is no such thing as a right to diapers.
TRACY BYRNES: Cheryl, you can change a newborn anywhere from 12 to 15 times a day presuming on how much they eat. I've done that three times now and I'll be the first to tell you no one should subsidize my diaper issue other than me and if the state has extra cash on hand, it should not go to diapers. That should be the mother or father's problem, not the states.
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?
TRACY BYRNES: Another black eye for President Obama's health care plan as married couples will get less of a health insurance tax credit because, well their married. Hah, you think divorce rates are high now? Just watch out.
JOHN LAYFIELD: That Amazon Fire; the new tablet by Amazon has commoditized hardware. They're selling it for reportedly 10 dollars less than what they make it for. That kills the other tablet makers like a Samsung, who's making only tablets, but what it does is, if they want to sell content, so Amazon's going to take a hit on this in the short term. I say buy it on dips because long term it's a perfect strategy.
WAYNE ROGERS: Well, I think in any kind of an economy, you bet on good management and Leucadia I've bet on for a long time, and it has great management and in good or bad times they do well.
JONATHAN HOENIG: Cheryl, I think inflation is here. All the government intervention, money printing, is starting to show up in interest rates. I saw a big move higher in interest rates this past week and I'm looking at DLBS. This is an exchange traded note. I own it in my hedge fund; it rises as long term interest rates do, and I think that's the next shoe to drop for the economy.