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.
NSA Monitoring Israeli Leaders
Steve Forbes: It was. But this president doesn't pay attention to such niceties. In terms of allies he probably didn't consider Israel an ally at all, certainly not by his behavior. The fact he let a Congress be swept into this is a shocker. Shows he thinks Congress is a toothless tiger. Sometimes you have to spy on an ally like in the early part of the last decade on Schreuder who was close to Putin in doing strange things. Unless you have exceptional circumstances it should be hands off.
David Mercer: I think if I were in their shoes I would be more mad we didn't know there was a cyber device in the prime minister's office. That's what i could be concerned with. Secondly it wasn't just Netanyahu. It was president Erdogan of turkey. As a NATO ally was kept off the list as BiBi was with regard to eaves dropping. And the purpose of it, specifically which had the ascent of members of Congress, I might add, was to in the discussions or talks on the Iran deal there was also the concern that Israel might take a preemptive strike against Iran. In that instance it was deemed necessary.
Elizabeth Macdonald: That would be an unprecedented abuse of power. You're right. It is an issue of separation of powers there. The White House needs to get in front of this and say, we are not spying on members of Congress. Now members of Congress are saying we want answers. We maybe hold hearings on this starting next week. Senator Dianne Feinstein is saying this is not the way to go. Pete Huckstra is upset about this. You could see action from Congress retaliating.
Mike Ozanian: Good luck with that investigation. We saw where the investigation into the IRS went. We saw where the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails went. Stonewall, stonewall. Even before it has a chance to have getting anywhere, president Obama will be long gone.
Sabrina Schaeffer: No, and it's not simply the lawmakers being spied on but pro-Israel groups having conversations of the citizens the government was spying on. It gives legs to Senator Paul in the run for president now. He's saying we have to be much more vigilant with all of the spying programs to make sure the surveillance isn't this dragnet surveillance but targeted and legal surveillance which clearly this was not.
John Tamny: I think any time government is spending money it should be declassified. We should know this. My bigger question is what would we care about what's on the mind of world leaders? We know how inept ours are. Would anyone care what's on the mind of Joe Biden or Nancy Pelosi or the other clowns in Washington? End the program. It probably doesn't give us actionable intelligence and only succeeds to offend other countries.
Large Gitmo Release
Steve Forbes: it sends a terrible message to the world that we are not serious about the war on terror. You get economic prosperity; one of the conditions is a sense of safety and security. When everyone is looking over their shoulders waiting for the next attack, hunkering down that takes away the animal spirit. It hurts the security, economy. Bad deal all around. Shows this man is not serious about fighting Islamic terrorism.
David Mercer: I say what major general Michael Lennart says, Kissinger, Colin Powell and others that it should be worked to close Gitmo. As the major general pointed out who is the actual one that opened up Guantanamo who in January this year said that he regrets opening it and wants it closed. As far as economics, you know, look, as far as I know, they are not paying for room and board. The detainees aren't paying for room and board. The economics of paying for Gitmo is pretty crazy.
Elizabeth MacDonald: One in three now. It was one in seven a few years ago. People in the Pentagon say keep it open. Steve the right. We have a lot of hard-core terrorists there. We have three former defense secretaries saying the president's approach to foreign policy has not been state of the art. We have the Mideast in flames, a major refugee crisis. Why do we think a decision to close Gitmo is a piece that would be above the bad mistakes? It might be another bad mistake in the making.
Sabrina Schaeffer: That brings the conversation back to why we have Gitmo. There is a reason for it. We need a place that's not stateside to hold the prisoners, to close Gitmo it would be estimated at $600 million. Where will we put people? In Kansas at Leavenworth? I don't think so. A lot of things keep me up at night. This isn't one of them.
John Tamny: I'm glad to hear David Mercer say with it applied to Gitmo government spending is an economic negative. I wish the left would say that about everything else government does that holds down growth. Applied to Gitmo specifically, look. I don't know. But I don't want them to shut it down if, in fact, it's going to release a lot of dangerous tariffs. If, in fact, it's succeeding from keeping people from harming us, why close it?
Mike Ozanian: One thing I find troubling about this is that the president said he was going to come up with an alternative plan to Gitmo and would submit to Congress. He has never done that. I find that troubling.
Raising Cigarette Tax Brings in Less Revenue
Sabrina Schaeffer: I think not. This is so right, I love it. It brings a big smile to my face in the New Year. There are all these do-gooder regulators who want to control everything we do, put in our mouths, smoke, food, everything else in between. The reality is it's coming back to not help them. That's great. I love that consumers are finding a way around it. Whether or not any city will pay attention is doubtful.
David Mercer: You also -- that's a good example. You have other examples you see today with the same promises or claims by governors in New Jersey or Kentucky or Wisconsin that promise by lower corporate taxes you will get more jobs which we know those three states are hurting in job creation. I think it's not just in lowering taxes here regarding New York. It's what their neighboring states are charging and if they are lower people will go buy a cheaper pack of cigarettes there than in New York.
Mike Ozanian: This is the fault of Republicans who control spending.
Steve Forbes: Less is more. You see it in the case of New York and what big taxes end up doing is we must raise taxes everywhere and collect the money. You drive activity underground or drive it away all together. Less is more.
John Tamny: Taxes are a price. Naturally the high price drove away revenues for government. That's a positive thing. Why we have fallen in love with the notion we should get a tax rate that gives government more revenues is something I will never understand. Let's let New York State be idiotic if it wants to be.
Mike Ozanian: You also get more economic growth when you have lower marginal tax rates and lower tax rates on investment. We see with this economy it's the worst recovery since the 30s. Median household income is lower today after several years of a so-called recovery than it was in January 2008. The budget deficit as a percent of the economy is more than twice as high today than average during the Bush years.
Holiday Bonus Picks
Mike Ozanian: AXDX
Bill Baldwin: HCN