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Bulls & Bears
Senior Democrats Pushing to Extend All of Bush Tax Cuts
BRENDA BUTTNER: A tax cut stunner in D.C.: Senior Democrats said to be splitting with their party leaders now pushing to extend all the Bush tax cuts. This after a report showing that the economy is slowing down, home sales are hammering down, and more CEOs putting down the White House's plan to fix it all. Intel's chief joining a growing list of executives calling for tax cuts. So, are they all right?
GARY B. SMITH: Yes, they are absolutely right. The government can do one of two things to help business. They can either get out of the way of they can cut taxes. Everything else that they do just gets in the way. Obama is the most anti-business President since FDR. If you look at his two biggest plans, health care and stimulus, what are they all about? His three pillars: government spending, government regulation, and government control. That's anti-business. If he would just say, we're going to cut everyone's taxes and go on holiday that would be the biggest gift he could give.
CAROLINE HELDMAN: Obama is an easy target but the real target here is the economy, and changing the Presidency or Congress is not going to jumpstart the economy. He's just being made a scapegoat right now. The fact of the matter is, he passed corporate health care, he passed a watered-down economic reform plan, and profits are up 34 percent under the Obama administration, so businesses really have nothing to complain about.
TOBIN SMITH: Profits are up because overheads have been historically cut. We fired about 10 years of people in a 6 to 9 month period. That had nothing to do with Obama except for in maybe one way: they knew all of his new taxes were going to come down on them. As a small business owner it was easy to say, you three are out and I'm not hiring anyone new until I feel that we have a stable economy. Obama doesn't understand that.
ERIC BOLLING: It's very important to note that the extension of the Bush tax cuts may only be one year, and small business owners make long-term planning decisions based on 5 or 10 year projections, not 1 year. The Democrats are going to say "We're in favor of extending the Bush tax cuts. We're fiscally responsible. Re-elect us in November." And then three months after that, they'll say let them expire at the end of 2011.
JONAS MAX FERRIS: The Intel CEO wants corporate taxes lowered. He doesn't really care about the Bush tax cuts. And our corporate tax rate is much higher than many countries. Also, we have a bad immigration policy in this country and tech CEOs want better educated immigrants to get here more easily. They'd also like to do what China does, which is incentivize companies to open factories. Those are things that CEOs of companies want. Income tax cuts is not high on that list.
Firestorm Mounts as Debt Commission Co-Chair Talks Tough About Social Security
BRENDA BUTTNER: Fire him now. More Democrats calling for Alan Simpson's hide. They're ticked off about what the President's debt commission co-chair is saying about Social Security. Quote: "It's like a milk cow with 310 million…" well, it rhymes with 'fits.' Toby, you say he's right, and we need more people like him to tackle our debt mess?
TOBIN SMITH: Of course we do. Social Security was started when average life expectancy was 66. Today, if you make it to 66, you'll likely live to 85. We used to have 44 people in the workplace paying for 1 retiree. Now it's 3 for 1 and in a few years its going to be less than 1. That math doesn't work and Alan Simpson says it like it is.
CAROLINE HELDMAN: The two biggest increases in debt have been under Republicans: Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. With Social Security, we have until 2037 to reform the system. I think everyone agrees it needs to be reformed. Maybe make it need-based or maybe less age-based and more ability-based. But then we would have to fight this massive discrimination against elderly people across the United States.
GARY B. SMITH: At some point Obama is going to have to take responsibility. Social Security is an issue. At least George Bush made some attempt to reform it by trying to privatize it—putting some of it in the stock market and some of it into 401Ks.
ERIC BOLLING: Social Security is the third rail that no one really wants to deal with. Simpson is the co-chair of the debt commission, which is a lame-duck commission that makes recommendations to Congress. It's a colossal waste of time. Anyone can say anything they want out of or to that commission. Their recommendations aren't going anywhere.
JONAS MAX FERRIS: Both parties have been in control of the White House and Congress and neither of them make the very simple cuts that need to be made to solve this problem, like pushing the age back. It's just math problem as Tobin said and it's very manageable, but no one will touch it.
Author of New Health Care Law Says It Was Waste of His Time to Read It
BRENDA BUTTNER: A Fox exclusive on a new health care outrage. The senator who wrote the new health care law is now saying this: "I don't think you want me to waste my time to read every single word in that health care bill. You know why? It is statutory…it is written in statutory language. It takes a real…real expert to know what the heck it is. We hire experts."
Eric, you say this is more proof we're all going to pay for it big time.
ERIC BOLLING: This is so aggravating. The chairman of the committee who wrote the bill and jammed a trillion dollars down the American people's throat felt his time wasn't well spent reading it. This is a bill that's going to encompass one sixth of the economy. We are going to pay through the nose for this.
CAROLINE HELDMAN: This is playing on the public's lack of knowledge about the political process. It would be physically impossible for members of Congress to read every page of these bills. That's why they have people around them to read them. But it doesn't mean that he doesn't know what's in the bill.
GARY B. SMITH: I agree with Caroline. I don't expect them to read the whole bill. But that's not the problem. The problem is that these guys aren't even reading the executive summary and these hidden little weeds are already coming up. We just discovered that 11 million seniors are going to see their premiums go up, because the $200 million for the Health Care Advantage got chopped off. No one saw that! You're going to see a lot more of these because congressmen and senators didn't take the time to at least read the executive cliff notes.
JONAS MAX FERRIS: The details are written by health care lobbyists. Congressmen need experts to spoon feed them the facts and talking points. Otherwise they don't understand the complexities of these bills.
TOBIN SMITH: Whether the bill is 2 or 2,000 pages, most of the legislation happens after the bill is written, because there are so many loopholes in them. They are so poorly constructed.
Gary B. Smith: Tiger makes a comeback! (PEP) drives up 40 percent in 1 year
Tobin Smith: Long "Bulls & Bears," but short the market! (SSG) celebrates 30 percent gains by November
Jonas Max Ferris: Air Guitar is all the rage! (ATVI) jams out 30 percent gains in 1 year
Eric Bolling: America teaches D.C. a spending lesson! (V) charges up 25 percent in 1 year
Cavuto on Business
This week, Neil Cavuto was joined by Ben Stein, Charles Payne, Dagen McDowell, and Mike Norman.
Report-Unions Getting $88 Million Fund Ready to Keep Democrats in Power
CHARLES PAYNE, WSTREET.COM: Here's the real deal: unions are doing the dirty work for the White House. This week the Securities and Exchange Commission is making it easier for them to put candidates on ballots and corporate boards, making it significantly easier for these unions to put their candidates on these boards. That would mean pressure on CEO pay and, pressure on overseas business and a whole lot of things that, really to me would be anti-business. Also, the average union worker is making $130,000 compensation verse $60,000 for the people that are paying their compensation; that is wildly outrageous.
DAGEN MCDOWELL, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK: Unions have a lot of muscle right now. AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka has said that they'll put more campaign workers out there than they did in '06, and 2008. Union got national stimulus and an auto company bailout, and they got national health care.
BEN STEIN, AUTHOR, "THE LITTLE BOOK OF BULLETPROOF INVESTING": This is a shocking breach of faith and a shocking example of the hypocrisy of the unions on the left. Unions pushed the business wages and business costs of the manufacturing industry of the country to an unsustainable level; that had a lot to do with the collapse.
MIKE NORMAN, JOHN THOMAS FINANCIAL: I don't condone violence but the unions lost their influence over the last 35 years and are a shadow of what they were. If you go back and look at the period in the U.S. where union membership was at its highest, we saw much more income equality and saw stronger growth in corporate earnings and real GDP; in the last 30 years, when we have seen unions really brought down in size and influence we have seen the reverse.
Nation Worries Over Eggs as FDA Cracks Down on Vending Machines
BEN STEIN: This is the ultimate nanny state, the government saying we're your mommy and daddy, and we're going to tell you what to eat. I am telling you when they start to take away the freedoms and these little things, the freedoms and the big things are next.
DAGEN MCDOWELL: I'm hungry and angry, so, there you go! There is great irony but I'm not surprised that you have more government trying to tell you what to eat, because you have government intervening in health care. And, obesity costs so much in terms of health care costs, about $150 billion every year.
CHARLES PAYNE: This is what really happened this week: again the Obama administration let us down and the FDA let us down.
MIKE NORMAN: They should be out there, protecting us from things that are harmful. If you are going to tax me more now, for health care, I feel like people better take care of themselves a little bit better. That is starting to hit my pocketbook. So I can see from that angle, how, for me, anyway, that is somewhat justified but they should be looking into stuff that is really going to harm us.
New Sign U.S. Companies Are Losing Confidence in the USA
CHARLES PAYNE: This is a reality…an economic reality, but it is just not good. It is the ultimate wake-up call in my mind, and someone better pay attention and listen. We have a war against multinational companies in the country and the rest of the world, you have seen Brazil and China cut deals without using dollars and China cutting deals with Russia; they are cutting us out of this and when our own companies and banks get involved, it is more or less a lack of confidence in the country.
MIKE NORMAN: Maybe the Chinese currency reaches full convertibility and it is a reflection of policies. There is growth in China, companies see opportunities there, and they are going there.
BEN STEIN: People will borrow where it is cheapest to borrow and float securities where it is cheapest to do that and it happens to be cheaper in China to do that. But this is a tiny amount as mike aptly said and the dollar is still incredibly strong, considering the size of the deficits we are running and I don't think it is a problem in the slightest.
DAGEN MCDOWELL: I don't think it is the beginnings of a drip, drip, that could turn into a giants cannonball; what I worry about is we have been lauded into the sense of security, because people are afraid in general.
More For Your Money: Stocks Under $10
CHARLES PAYNE: MGM Resorts (MGM)
MIKE NORMAN: LDK Solar (LDK)
BEN STEIN: Cohen & Steers Reality (RQI)
Forbes on Fox
On Saturday, August 28, 2010, David Asman was joined by Steve Forbes, Mike Ozanian, Stephane Fitch, Quentin Hardy, Kai Falkenberg, and Fox Business Network's Elizabeth MacDonald.
In Focus: Obama Administration Considering New Mortgage Fee to Help Housing Market; Is That the Right or Wrong Type of Help?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: A $1.5 billion fund for housing…
OBAMA: Help out-of-work homeowners…
OBAMA: Government can stop preventable foreclosures…
OBAMA: We need to strengthen our housing market.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
DAVID ASMAN: Despite the government spending hundreds of billions to give housing a lift, the housing market is still sinking. New home sales at an all-time low. Pre-owned home sales have a record drop as well. All the while mortgage rates plunge to another all-time low. Some here say it's all because the White House won't get out of the housing market. Are they right? Hi everybody! I'm David Asman. Welcome to Forbes on Fox! Let's go in focus with Steve Forbes, Lizzie Macdonald, Mike Ozanian, Quentin Hardy, and Stephane Fitch. So Steve, it's because the government is in the housing market? That's why it's doing so poorly?
STEVE FORBES: It is David. Whether it's the temporary subsidies and the like that gives temporary hype, or trying to save homeowners and ending up sinking them, the government, David, can't clean even its own house. How it is supposed to help other people with their houses? They can't make distinctions between those who have real equity in their homes, or those who should be renters instead of homeowners. So instead of letting the markets clear and letting the markets get back on its feet and allow mobility so people can go move and find jobs, the market remains stagnant.
QUENTIN HARDY: Well the fundamental problem is the housing market. That was the center of the subprime crisis which led to the financial crisis. In the interest of being fair and balanced, your teaser probably should have pointed out that most of those government supports have run out and housing prices have declined because they are not artificially supported anymore. Should the government have been in there in the first place? Housing prices would have fallen farther and faster [with] a bigger shock to the system. That would have been a free market result. And maybe the government should get out of there and let housing prices fall 30 or 40 percent. But in that case we should probably also get rid of the mortgage tax interest deduction for the middle class and have an absolutely free market and let the housing prices fall 50 percent.
MIKE OZANIAN: [The government is] hurting it, David, and the main reason why it's hurting it is because it's hurt the overall economy. Housing prices will rise when the economy improves and incomes improve. This program, all the stimulus money from the Obama administration, has done nothing but hurt the economy primarily through inflation, through higher commodity prices, through a weaker dollar. This is what's hurt the economy and this is why the inventory of unsold homes is now at 12 and a half months where it was only at 9 and a half months before the government stimulus.
STEPHANE FITCH: I think the government does have a role to play. I think Quentin is right. If we hadn't had the government involvement, it would have been even worse. By the way, it's been awful, so we can't really credit the government for any wins here. My idea is help the little guy who is dangling by his fingernails, not by trying to keep him supported at the edge of the cliff… how about getting his 9 or 10 neighbors to give him a little bit of a hand, have them buy his house out of foreclosure and lease it back to him? Offer those folks, people who are well-off or middle class and not hurting with their house, a tax break. I think let Americans help Americans. Let the little guys who are doing okay bail out the guys who have really fallen off the cliff.
ELIZABETH MacDONALD: I think the answer is you get the banks to knock down the principal owed on these bubble-era reckless loans. They should never have expected those principal payments, first and foremost. Lou Ranieri, a big Wall Street-er, is now doing that with his fund. But to say that the housing supports from the government have gone away when we still have Fannie and Freddie, the Thelma and Louise of housing, driving the taxpayer over a cliff to paraphrase Pat Buchanan… That's the real issue here, how do you dismantle those two? So yes, there's been a lot of artificial starts thrown into the housing market when Australia, Denmark, other European countries never had as much of a government intrusion into their housing market.
Does America Need the Post Office?
DAVID ASMAN: Post Office union workers delivering a loud message this week. Do not cut our hours or our pay. Even though the Postal Service is losing billions of dollars and owes the government billions. And Oz – you say to forget cuts, shut down the Post Office all together?
MIKE OZANIAN: David, the Post Office should be abolished immediately. A few weekends ago I was waiting on line to mail something, a long line, and all of a sudden the woman behind the counter says, "You know what? I have to take a break. It's time for my 10 minute break." The line shuts down. Everybody has to stand there. It's completely inefficient. Its work rules are arcane. It should be abolished today.
STEPHANE FITCH: America needs the Post Office, warts and all. You know we forget how much people in little towns, like Clifton, Maine, where my family happens to own a small home, depend on their Post Office. FedEx and UPS won't deliver there, not cheaply anyway. Beware of people who call for the abolishment of the Post Office, these are people who get Thai food delivered to their house 3 times a week and check their Blackberry every 5 minutes during dinner conversation. They're rude.
STEVE FORBES: If you don't want to abolish as some countries have done, allow competition or privatization where it has to compete with everybody else. A number of countries have done it, the Netherlands and Germany have privatized it, Britain, New Zealand, Sweden and others have removed the monopoly. And guess what? Service improves. Competition does that. Why shouldn't we do that here? Let the people determine whether they want to go to the Post Office or not.
DAVID ASMAN: Emac, what about those faraway places that Stephane was talking about? FedEx and UPS won't deliver to unless you pay a very high premium.
ELIZABETH MacDONALD: Yeah, the LA Times asked UPS just that and they said they would not deliver to those unprofitable, rural areas of the country. So the issue is, how do you get those areas served? I hear what you're saying, privatizing works, but the privatization worked in those countries only if there was price controls, price caps. That's what happened in the UK, in Sweden, and in New Zealand. So the issue is the U.S. Post Office has more offices than McDonalds and Walmart combined. Maybe do a mixture of a privatization and a public model.
DAVID ASMAN: On the other hand Kai, everybody knows what Mike Ozanian is talking about. We've all waited in line and seen these guys reading their novels under the counter and taking their time. It'd be great if they had that UPS efficiency, right?
KAI FALKENBERG: On top of that, they want to close the Post Office on Saturdays and yet increase rates. Why should we be subsidizing that? And there hasn't always been a monopoly. If you look back in the first hundred years of this country, letter carriers were private; they were independent contractors. There was no monopoly; that's what we should go back to. We should allow competition. And these countries that Steve mentioned have been able to do it successfully.
QUENTIN HARDY: I think the Post Office absolutely outperforms FedEx and UPS on the basis of cost per delivery. That's why Forbes magazine is delivered by the United States Postal Service and not by FedEx or UPS. If they want to actually have service go up, maybe we ought to get used to a buck a stamp and Saturday closings. But really they're an incredible bargain relative to the size across which they're distributing the mail. This is a big country.
Flipside: Government Should Provide Gastric Bypass/Lapbands For All Americans Who Need It to Save on Health Care Costs
DAVID ASMAN: The government pays for a lot of things these days. But fat reduction? I kid you not. South Carolina has a new plan to pick up the entire tab for gastric bypass surgeries for some state workers. It costs $24,000 a pop. But Kai, you say this plan could actually save taxpayers money and we should do it nationally?
KAI FALKENBERG: Definitely. These procedures are highly-effective procedures. The studies show that the insurers recoup their cost within two years. Some of the patients are cured of their diabetes within days of leaving the hospital. There's tremendous cost savings here.
DAVID ASMAN: So Steve, eventually it saves taxpayers money?
STEVE FORBES: Well, I love that word… "eventually." David, where the real surgery is needed is not on obese people, it's on obese government. Let's start with that. And in terms of the government encouraging these kinds of operations, you know what is going to happen? You're going to have a run on them. These are very delicate operations. There are going to be a lot of botched operations. That'll lead to malpractice lawsuits. David, we should go to free markets on this. Let people decide if they want to do it, instead of politicians.
DAVID ASMAN: Stephane, should the government be in this?
STEPHANE FITCH: I think so. I mean if doctors and patients get together and they really decide this is the best thing, I think in some cases, some states should be offering it and maybe getting matching funds from the federal government. I obviously rather see people exercising and spending the $24,000 that these surgeries cost on better food, but you know, in some cases this makes sense.
DAVID ASMAN: In some cases. But Emac, you know how these things have a tendency to spread like your waistline, you know?
ELIZABETH MacDONALD: Yeah, that's true, David. And also in South Carolina in 2001 and 2004, they wouldn't do these surgeries because they said they were not cost effective and basically very risky. And I think that the studies have shown that they are cost-effective in some cases, but not all, not overall. So really, what bureaucrat is going to be monitoring these people who go through these surgeries to prove that they were cost-effective? That really doesn't happen after the fact.
DAVID ASMAN: You know Emac brings up a great point Mike, which is that there's all these spinoffs from these government programs that sound great from the beginning… but eventually you need a whole bureaucracy to take care of what they create.
MIKE OZANIAN: Well, beyond that, the first thing I would do if this became national law is I would go out and buy stock in companies that make ice cream, apple pie, and all of that stuff because I think we'd have a whole country full of people trying to get fat because they know the government would then pay for their operation. At least, I'd get fat.
Informer: Stocks Moving Up As Market Moves Down
DAVID ASMAN: And we are back, with the stocks that may calm your nerves and make you money in this wild market:
MIKE OZANIAN: Laboratory Corp of America Holdings (LH)
QUENTIN HARDY: Intel (INTC)
STEPHANE FITCH: Pennsylvania REIT (PEI)
Businessmen, Women Beating Career Politicians at Polls; Do Voters Think They Will Be Better Job Creators?
CHERYL CASONE: Professional politicians out, business leaders in. Voters sent another strong message this week, this time, in Florida's Republican primary for governor. Former health care CEO Rick Scott beat a political insider despite being portrayed as a greedy, health care crook. Are voters telling us that electing people who actually create jobs is the best way to get Americans back to work?
TRACY BYRNES: Career politicians probably have never hired anyone except for a landscaper and a nanny in their whole lives. We need people who know what to do to create jobs. Look at Meg Whitman. She's actually taken the lead over Attorney General Jerry Brown. She's created thousands and thousands of jobs. Look at what she did at eBay. Why we don't have more of that in DC is a conundrum we need to fix.
MARK LEVINE: The Washington Post says the real reason companies aren't hiring is demand. Because CEOs opt for caution. Why? Because they make more money than they ever have before and they're still not providing jobs. All these business people who are making all of this money aren't doing a thing about jobs because they only care about their bottom line.
CHARLIE GASPARINO: These business people are rational human beings. If they could make more money by expanding their business, they would. The reasons that they're not are higher taxes and higher mandates.
WAYNE ROGERS: Congress doesn't create jobs. The free market does. Having business people in politics is fine but they should be in the administrative side of things, in the bureaucracy, because those are the people who administer the laws that the Congress makes, and a businessman in that job can create jobs.
JONATHAN HOENIG: These are people who know how to meet a payroll, to expand, and to deal with the morass of taxes and regulations, that guys like Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, who have been in politics their whole lives, don't. I want people with the discipline and fairness of the business community in office.
Should People Living in High Risk Areas Be Bailed Out By Taxpayers?
CHERYL CASONE: Danielle won't be a direct hit but this hurricane season is already threatening to soak all U.S. taxpayers. FEMA is now seeking a $19 billion bailout for flood zones as the storm season heats up. But Jonathan says it's time to ramp up the common sense and he's looking at one home in Mississippi to make the point.
JONATHAN HOENIG: This home has flooded 32 times in the last 34 years and FEMA has paid something like $663,000 in claims over and over again. The government creates that moral hazard, because when you promise guaranteed coverage to everyone as we do with the National Flood Insurance Program, it's another entitlement program. That's a total disruption of the free market. We need to scrap the program and get our government out.
MARK LEVINE: I have no sympathy for the people in Mississippi who are trying to rebuild again and again and again. But the people to blame are the local officials who are letting them build on the ground again and raping the U.S. taxpayer. If local officials would require people to build safely, they wouldn't be stealing so much money. But we still need the Flood Insurance Program for people like those from my hometown of Nashville, who aren't living in a flood zone and still got wiped out.
TRACY BYRNES: 5.6 million properties are covered under this program but we do need to reevaluate the situation when people keep coming to the well over and over again to rebuild in the same place.
WAYNE ROGERS: The system is flawed. It has to be risk-based. I agree that there has to be some sort of program in case you have a natural disaster. It's not just hurricanes—it's earthquakes and major storms, and you need a program in the event of a national emergency. But it has to be administered properly.
CHARLIE GASPARINO: The financial collapse is a perfect analogy to this. When the government kept bailing out Wall Street over the years, through things like low interest rates, they created moral hazard. There was no consequence to risk. That's what has happened here, but there is a way to be constructively conservative in these situations without giving away the store.
Report Shows Cash-for-Clunkers Is Backfiring on Middle Class
CHERYLE CASONE: Americans getting clunked by the Cash-for-Clunkers program. It was designed to help the middle class buy cars but now we're learning it's backfiring on the middle class and helping drive up prices of used cars by as much as 30 percent.
TRACY BYRNES: It's the unintended consequences of government intervention. They do not allow the free market to work, and do not allow inventory to work itself out. Cash for Clunkers pulled clunkers back. People cashed them in and now, if you go out looking for a used car, you can't find one. Prices are up 30 percent because there is a shortage. This is what happens when the government puts sticky fingers where it doesn't belong.
MARK LEVINE: The success brings all of these stories together. We get these energy inefficient cars off the road that helps climate change. We don't have the floods in Nashville and Pakistan. Demand goes up for new cars and people have jobs. I want new cars to be made. I want more jobs out there. Demand causes jobs.
CHARLIE GASPARINO: Why do you think people couldn't afford homes in the 1990s and the last decade? Here is why. Barney Frank and Chris Dodd made it easy to get a mortgage and drove up the average price of a home. You couldn't buy a home unless you took out one of those crazy sub-prime mortgages. They priced the middle class and the working class out of normal home buying. And that's exactly what is going on with Cash-for-Clunkers.
WAYNE ROGERS: Something subtle is going on. Why didn't they bail out the apparel businesses? Why didn't they bail out other industries? The automobile industry at the time was suffering and the administration owed the UAW votes. That's what happened. The UAW came out and supported the administration. This was a pay off to the union and the automobile industry.
JONATHAN HOENIG: It cost everyday taxpayers $20,000 to subsidize these purchases. Yes, people bought energy efficient cars, but most of them could afford to buy these cars in the first place. This front loads sales. Whether it's housing or cars, once the stimulus goes away the market reflects reality.
What Do I Need to Know?
TRACY BYRNES: "Booting Biden" will show the president is serious about fixing economy.
CHARLIE GASPARINO: The SEC will ask Citigroup about accounting accusations.
WAYNE ROGERS: Invest for the long haul with quality companies like (F).
JONATHAN HOENIG: Investors are scared of U.S. stocks; have no fear with (FXF).