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.
Bulls & Bears
On Saturday December 19, Brenda Buttner was joined by Gary B. Smith, Tobin Smith, Bob Froehlich, Eric Bolling and Mike Papantonio.
57 Percent of Americans Don't Want Health Care Reform: Why Are Dems Still Pushing It?
Tobin Smith, ChangeWave Research : Thank God the American people have it right and they can do the math. If you called something 'reform' that would result in 14 tax increases and 106 new bureaucracies, you'd be someone that thinks Tiger Woods was framed. We would love to be able to afford something like this, but what they're trying to do is simply not the right way to reform.
Mike Papantonio, Radio Talk Show Host: Toby sounds like he's working for the insurance companies. They have to do something because the cost of doing nothing is a disaster. The good thing is that they build an infrastructure that will not allow the insurance companies to charge us to death, to deny anyone coverage, or to kill us by their exclusions. The cost of doing nothing means we will lose our sense of humanity. That doesn't bother Wall Street, but it should bother most people.
Gary B. Smith, TheChartman.com: Apparently the Democrats don't want a good bill because they're rushing this through. Mike seems to be overlooking the facts, which are that Americans don't want this and neither does half of Congress because they see the problems with this. By definition, it's going to be a government program. Mike, you'd have a hard time coming up with a government program that proved more efficient than one in the private sector or came in anywhere near budget.
Bob Froehlich, The Hartford: Americans are so skeptical because we don't need health care reform. We have to step back for a minute and realize that we have the best health care system in the world. You may not believe that, Mike, but every political leader in the world comes here when they need health care. If you want to reform something, let's implement tort reform and fix the problems with medical malpractice.
Eric Bolling, Fox Business Network: The small businesses are going to be affected most by this because they're going to have to lay off some of their employees. If you want to see the unemployment rate go from 10 percent to 15 percent, then pass health care reform. This is going to cost so much money that there's no way we're going to be able to pay for it either.
U.S. to Join $100 Billion Climate Aid Fund Despite 'Climate-Gate'
Eric Bolling: Whatever it costs, it's one penny too much. Three things: 1) Right after World War II, CO2 surged and we had 40 years of cooling temperatures; 2) Brazil, China, and India emit 97 percent of the increase of CO2 in the world, whereas the U.S. is actually dropping its level. 3) We're broke! We're $12 trillion in debt and don't need to be spending any amount of money on this every year.
Mike Papantonio: We have the Financial Services Alliance that says that if we don't do anything, by 2050 we will have spent $28 trillion on climate change problems. These people aren't tree huggers, they're Wall Street types. They're saying climate change is real and that if we don't do anything about it, it's going to be a disaster.
Tobin Smith: A lot of this money would be coming from U.S. corporations who would buy trees in the Amazon as carbon offsets. My question is: at $100 billion a year, that's 2 million jobs, so is the President saying that trees are more important than jobs? That's what I'm hearing.
Gary B. Smith: I'd even go along with Mike's free-spending ways if there was any evidence that this would work. But we do have evidence: for the past ten years or so, European countries have followed the Kyoto Protocol and have spent roughly $70 to $170 billion—and their emissions went up during that time. During that same period, we spent nothing and our emissions went down.
Bob Froehlich: We all know the Earth is flat. I like how Mike thinks that Wall Street knows what it's talking about with climate change but not when it comes to health care reform. You can't have both sides of the coin. We don't have the money to spend on climate change and we're going to lose jobs if we have new emissions standards.
Are Unions 'Scrooging' Walmart & Unemployed?
Gary B. Smith: Let's say I wanted to work on Mike's radio show and we agree that he'll pay me $5 an hour. But in Mike's world, he would like an outside party to come to him and say that he needs to pay me $15 an hour. What happens then is that Mike decides he doesn't need me if I'm going to cost him that much money and I get laid off. That's the situation we have and it's keeping the Walmarts of the world from employing people that don't have jobs.
Mike Papantonio: Gary, I wouldn't hire you for any amount, whether it's $5 or $15 an hour. If you were working for minimum wage and trying to support five children, you have bills to pay in order to take care of them. Those jobs are great for teenagers who are saving up for a car or the coolest new video, but they're not the kind of wages that we should pay people who are trying to support a family.
Bob Froehlich: We don't need a third party telling someone what to do. Think about where we are in this country. There comes a point in time when everyone needs to put their personal interests aside and do what's right for the country. Right now, the most important problem we have is with the job market. Unions need to put aside their own interests and let us get the country back to working again.
Tobin Smith: Why would these union guys not expect to get this passed? The President of the Service Employees Union has been to the White House 19 times in the last year. Another thing is that if you actually look at the hourly wage and the benefits a Walmart employee gets, it's about $17 an hour.
Eric Bolling: Walmart shocked everyone earlier in the year when they signed onto Obama's health care plan. If you lay with the dogs, you're going to wake up with the fleas. I'm not surprised that Big Labor is telling Walmart that if they're going to hire people, here are the demands we require. Walmart should push back against the unions and this health care plan.
Gary B Smith: It's going to be a green Christmas! "QLD" gains 10 percent by New Year's Eve
Bob Froehlich: Insure your $ from health care reform! "BAX" claims 50 percent by Dec., 2010
Eric Bolling: Iraq/Iran oil conflict heats up! "DVN" pumps 30 percent in 1 year
Tobin Smith: Fantasy football sacks workers! "MWW" hires 40 percent profits in 2010
Cavuto on Business
On Saturday December 19, 2009 Neil Cavuto was joined by Ben Stein, Charles Payne, Dagen McDowell and Adam Lashinsky.
White House Push for Health Care: Real Fears or Scare Tactics?
Charles Payne, WStreet.com: This is a combination of scare and desperation tactics. The president and his people put a finger in the air and figured out the American public is serious about the deficit and runaway spending so he decided to toss out the hottest buzzword among tea party attendees - "bankruptcy". But the notion that deficit spending erases deficit and fiscal responsibly will push the nation into bankruptcy is as absurd as saying a glass of milk is bad for you but a couple shots of Jack Daniels a day is what the doctor ordered.
Ben Stein, Author, "How to Ruin the U.S.A.": Of course it's scare tactics. And this 'bending the curve" on medical expenses is just plain silly. The Congress just repealed deep cuts in Medicare reimbursements to doctors which were supposed to be the key to the whole thing in terms of lowering costs. The whole thing is a giant, shambling, out of control mess. The whole government is just out of control - Congress passing huge spending bills with no regard to whether anyone has read the bills, minute by minute changes in the health care plan with no one but a few staffers having even a slight idea of what is in the bill hour by hour. The government is nowhere near "of, by, and for the people" any longer.
Adam Lashinsky, Editor-at-Large, Fortune Magazine: The President saying no health care reform will bankrupt America was a poor choice of words. But I think Vice President Biden was politically correct in saying that we might lose a chance for health care reform for an entire generation.
Bank Bailout Turning Into a Big-Government Slush Fund?
Dagen McDowell: Not only is it a slush fund, it might be illegal. The returned TARP money was supposed to go back into the Treasury to pay down the debt – not to pay for other government programs.
Charles Payne: Absolutely, in fact the White House is so anxious to get its hands on that TARP money it will let a still gimpy Citigroup off the hook and give them a $38 billion parting gift just to build up their treasure chest. The redistribution of wealth has hit its greatest stride ever and there is a desire to keep it going as long as possible. How do you explain how many government workers are making $100,000 a year and all are getting raises even as the mantra has been "shared sacrifice?"
Adam Lashinsky: TARP has been a slush fund right from the get-go. And let's be honest – it has been a successful slush fund; it helped to head-off a financial meltdown.
Ben Stein: I do think that Congress has the ability to appropriate funds wherever it sees fit. And the original TARP fund did its job.
Billions More for "Cash for Caulkers"; Waste of Your Money?
Charles Payne: This program has been enacted over and over again for decades. Unions are going to get a ton of money for supervising poor unemployed workers that will get paid a little more than minimum wage to lift solar panels off trucks and passed them up a ladder. Nobody is going to learn new skills and it's just going to be a way to seduce homeowners to make purchases they really don't want to make. These programs have been around for years with few takers. It's a gimmick when the nation needs a real plan and real investments.
Ben Stein: Where is this money to come from? We are already wildly in debt—wildly. Where is the dough to come from?
Dagen McDowell: This is just another example of bad industrial policy.
Adam Lashinsky: Dagen hit this on the head when she called it "industrial policy" – which is generally a bad idea. But the government has often been in the business of incentivizing. So if you offer people tax credit for weatherizing homes, will it work? Probably.
Adam Lashinsky: NCR Corp (NCR)
Charles Payne: EnerNoc (ENOC)
Ben Stein: Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSMX)
Forbes on Fox
On Saturday, December 19, 2009, David Asman was joined by Steve Forbes, Rich Karlgaard, Neil Weinberg, Mike Ozanian, Mike Maiello, Evelyn Rusli and Elizabeth MacDonald.
In Focus: Pelosi Puts It in Park; Good News for Taxpayers?
DAVID ASMAN: Slam on the spending brakes! That's the word from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. After passing nearly $3.5 trillion in bill in 2009, the Speaker says the House won't lead any new, controversial legislation in the upcoming election year. She reportedly wants to protect Democrats running for office in November. But, if the Speaker does quit spending "cold turkey," will it be good or bad for America?
STEVE FORBES: She just wants somebody else to take the brunt of it, for example the Senate. This is like suddenly discovering virtue after passing $3.5 trillion of bills. Look at cap and trade. Look at the stimulus bill. Look at the tax side on health care. The Soviet Union would have loved that health care bill. So all of that damage and taking a break?
MIKE OZANIAN: It's bad to take a break. I love it. All of this lousy legislation that she's tried to push through has informed people. Look, I think if we had gone through this horrible health care bill, let's say when Bill Clinton was president, instead of his wife doing those secret and illegal conferences, we may not have even had to have gone through this today because the public would have been informed on how disastrous this health care legislation is.
NEIL WEINBERG: What Speaker Pelosi wants to do is good. It shows the Democratic leadership for the craving-power mongers that they are. And in addition, it slows all of this horrible spending that they're doing. And it throws their base under the bus. Nothing for the Hispanic constituency with the immigration bill, nothing for the gay community with "don't ask, don't tell." They could really backfire on them.
MIKE MAIELLO: My Italian mother is really depressed to see a powerful Italian woman act like such a wimp. There is a lot we need done. They wouldn't have a problem in the 2010 elections if they had been enacting programs that people like.
DAVID ASMAN: What did your Italian mother hit you with? Her hand you're a soup spoon?
MIKE MAIELLO: Back of her hand.
RICH KARLGAARD: This may simply be a reaction that Pelosi now has a poll approval rating lower than anyone you could come up with, probably even Richard Nixon. It's not going to help. One, she's lost all credibility. They've got ethics problems. She promised to clean that up. It will be front and center in the campaign for 2010.
ELIZABETH MACDONALD: It's not spending bill that she's calling a pause on. It's union card check, the "don't ask, don't tell" bill that really does hurt gay soldiers, and immigration bills. But, I think this is bad. I think the voters deserve to see where these elected officials stand. They deserve full transparency on all of these issues.
Gitmo Detainees Coming to America and Creating American Jobs?
DAVID ASMAN: Moving suspected terrorists to an Illinois prison. Will it create jobs in America? The White House and lawmakers in the "Land of Lincoln" say that's what will happen when Gitmo detainees move to our homeland. But, Steve says pursuing the almighty buck will cost all of us more by creating a security nightmare.
STEVE FORBES: This kind of job creation kills an economy. First of all, we had the military running Gitmo very nicely. Those people are going to go onto other things, so we're going to have to hire people to replace the military workers. In terms of security, we're going to add more security costs to the United States because this will make us more of a magnet for terrorist attacks. Again, that kind of job creation is going to cost jobs and lives, as well.
MIKE MAIELLO: The president did campaign and promise to close Gitmo. That means the detainee do have to go somewhere. I'm happy to see the capitalists jumping on this and try to make a profit. As far as military resources go, the military resources we have at Gitmo can now be redeployed to other areas like Afghanistan. It could save us money.
RICH KARLGAARD: I don't like this for two reasons. One is this is crony capitalism. Is it any surprise that this is in Illinois, the president's state? I mean, this is the president's idea of how capitalism works – you reward your friends and your homies. It's straight out of Mayor Daly's playbook. The second reason I don't like it is because of Eric Holder's decision to try the 9/11 bombers in New York. It's this idea that these people are civilian criminals rather than war terrorists.
KAI FALKENBERG: This will end up costing us less. The annual operating cost for Gitmo is $100 million. The projected annual operating expenses to house these people in Gitmo North is $50 million. It's substantially less. To answer Rich's point, he says this is a reward… I'm not so sure this is a reward. A year ago, all the politicians were doing everything they could to prevent these detainees from coming to their districts.
ELIZABETH MACDONALD: This will cost us more because we're forgetting the FBI and the people who protect our shores are being swamped now with bomb threats. They're already under-staffed, underpaid, and over-worked.
MIKE OZANIAN: This is going to be using taxpayer dollars at the cost of about $60 a day per detainee. These jobs do nothing for the economy. They aren't going to produce any good or services to people in this country or around the world. It's just a temporary stop gap to help people in the president's home state.
Flipside: Tightwad Banks are Good for America!
DAVID ASMAN President Obama pushing bankers to loosen their purse strings this week. He says the bankers have an "extraordinary" obligation to taxpayers to help get America's economy moving. But, Neil says loose lending is what got us into this mess in the first place ... and "tightwad" banks are good for America.
NEIL WEINBERG: Loose lending did to the American financial system what loose living did to Tiger Woods's reputation.
NEIL WEINBERG: And now President Obama wants to jawbone his way into more and more spending. Why don't we let the market do what it's supposed to do? Let the banks make their decisions based on their own greedy self interests and we'll all be better off for it in the long run.
EVELYN RUSLI: I just want a return to rational lending; somewhere between too tight and too loose is responsible lending. There are indications that the industry has been too tight – for example, since April, the top 22 banks have reduced their small business loan portfolios by about $12 billion. While I don't expect that to just come back like that, they should be offering loans with proper terms.
STEVE FORBES: Well, if the president really wants banks to lend, he should get away from rhetoric and get back to reality… and that is his own regulators are telling banks to tighten up their lending standards. I think there's some sort of conspiracy here, David… let's bring out the black helicopters… the government wants the banks to have a pot of cash to buy the bonds the government will be issuing.
MIKE MAIELLO: Actually, Ben Bernanke lives that conspiracy theory… he gives the banks money for free overnight and they use it to buy those bonds. Obama should have said this a little differently. The demand for loans is actually down. Why? Because borrowers don't trust the banks. The president should be telling the banks "You should be out on the market with clear loan terms that people can understand." When people believe their lender is on their side, then we'll get credit moving again.
RICH KARLGAARD: Mike Maiello is right for the wrong reasons. The reason healthy businesses are not asking for loans is that they're trying to build fortress balance sheets because taxes are going up, health care costs may be going up, cap and trade costs may be going up, I mean, small businesses feel like they're under siege right now. I'm beginning to believe that President Obama, as smart as his is, doesn't understand the first thing about economic incentives.
Informer: Stocks to Pay Off Your Holiday Shopping Spree!
DAVID ASMAN: We're back with the stock to help you pay off all those holiday shopping bills:
MIKE OZANIAN: Lorillard (LO)
NEIL WEINBERG: United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS)
EVELYN RUSLI: Archer Daniels Midland (ADM)