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EPA ACCUSED OF DRIVING UP GAS PRICES AND HEATING COSTS: IS THE EPA HURTING AN ECONOMIC RECOVERY?
TRACY BYRNES: Look Cheryl, anytime the government imposes new rules or regulations it costs businesses money and as a result that gets passed on to us. We've already seen refineries shut down and now we're heading into the winter season. Oil's already going up; gas is going up; it is just going to continue to get worse when these rules kick in.
WAYNE ROGERS: It's not so much whether the 40 percent is going to make people suffer or not. I mean, the fact of the matter is people have already complied. That is to say, in a free market system we believe in a level playing field. If I've already spent the money and I'm part of that 60 percent that's already complied with these rules, why should my competitor be allowed to escape from complying with those rules? Everyone should comply with the rules or no one should. Now, the fact of the matter is, they invent rules every now and then. I mean, every year or every four years, three or four years, they come out with something stricter and stricter. So it costs the industry a little more money, but if you're complying already, and many people are, the rest should comply.
DAVID MERCER: It may have something to do with it, but there are a lot of other factors. There's the global energy market that dictates prices. There's competition among the pipelines and refineries. So there are a host of factors, but what's important here with EPA is that they have in their studies and their research in their watchdog capacity, have seen other additional costs. Whether it's 11 thousand that are dying of premature birth or asthma attacks; one hundred thousand kids or children suffering from acute asthma, you know those are costs that our country is bearing and they are saying let's have preventative medicine, which is cheaper than waiting until this gets to crisis proportions and everybody suffers in higher costs. So it's saying, let's retrofit these plants so we can avoid those deaths and not just see them as collateral damage and the cost of doing business.
GARY KALTBAUM: Well first of all, the 9.6 is a government estimate. We know with government estimates sometimes go three, or four, or five times higher. Look, I'm for the environment too, but here's the way I look at it. Business has already done a great job throughout the last few decades. I don't think they need this EPA which has a whip out at them really trying to make them move faster. You know, you've got emissions down 96 percent over the last two decades; sulfur and nitrogen down 50 percent. Businesses are already getting the job done. I just say leave well enough alone. They'll get the job done. You have to be a partner. The EPA should be a partner with businesses; not be the task master and that's what they're doing.
MINUMUM WAGE RISING IN 8 STATES ON SUNDAY: HURT JOBS IN 2012?
GARY KALTBAUM: Well, it hurts the people they're actually trying to help; the low income worker. The bottom line is, higher costs to business, less hiring. It's economic logic. It's an economic fact. Every study has shown throughout the years that a 10 percent increase in minimum wage would knock down one percent of hiring and frankly if you lower the minimum wage, you don't even have to get rid of it, businesses will do their job. Many areas across the country already pay higher than the minimum wage. Too much dictated from the government makes absolutely no economic sense whatsoever for me.
WAYNE ROGERS: The thing is, you're looking at the guy who's getting this bump. Most of these people are below the poverty level to start with and if you're talking about this minimum wage you're talking about, first of all, you're only talking about eight states. That's it. Number one. Number two: this is going to raise somebody to a level that will still be approximately seven thousand dollars below the poverty level in a family of four. So that's insane. You're not talking about a big bump here and as I said it's only eight states. It's not going to affect the economy one iota.
DAVID MERCER: Well listen, Bloomberg put out the statistic that from 1967 to now, with inflation, that they've actually seen a wage decrease by 20 percent and to Wayne's point we're talking about, on average, a 30 cent bump on a person's paycheck, but coupled with the payroll tax cut that we just saw and hopefully see for a year extension, that gives some installation of confidence in the consumer markets and we all know that the economy's driven 70 percent by consumers and by doing that you get more demand, and with more demand you're going to get employers hiring more to go to the point of the whether or not this leads to less hiring. In fact, it probably increases it because of the increased demand.
TRACY BYRNES: Look, I understand it's only 30 cents and we're not talking about a lot of money, but you extrapolate that. That hits your payroll. That hits your bottom line. It does hurt Cheryl. You know what? Businesses should have the opportunity to pay what they choose, because again, the market will mandate what should be given and you know what? The notion of minimum wage is not that you stay there forever. That's where you start. You're supposed to have aspirations to make more money. It is a starting point. So whether you start at two fifty or eight fifty you should have some sort of aspiration. We as the American people should to make more money.
TSA WANTS MONEY TO EXPAND BEYOND AIRPORTS: WASTE OF TAXPAYER MONEY?
TRACY BYRNES: Yeah, look you've got a lot of money. Let's use it a little bit better. I mean, let's budget it a little bit better. You can probably figure out how to do this with your eight billion. We're broke. Let's just come to terms here.
WAYNE ROGERS: Well if it's a question of safety you all know that's a judgment call. I don't know, but if you're talking economics, every agency once you start creating these agencies as we know, looks like alphabet soup. They all get more and more money. They grow just by osmosis. They all want more power. They all want to do something else. So, you can't expect them not to. On the other hand, you either have to get rid of it or privatize it. Bid it out. Let it go to the private industry and let them bid for it.
GARY KALTBAUM: They can find it in so many places. Look, the number one job of our government is safety and defense of the American people. I am all for doing whatever is possible. We do not want to wake up one morning and have another 9/11, which impacts the economy as well as the death in such major ways going forward. Go to the ferries; go to the trains, planes. I don't care about groping. I want my kids to be safe and I want to be safe.
DAVID MERCER: What I do know Cheryl, is that this would be a lot less expensive if initially instead of creating another department like Wayne had mentioned; the homeland security department and instead had insisted on greater coordination between FBI, CIA, defense, or headed warnings from the field from agents as we know was not done in the case of 9/11. Or, we had headed the warnings from Dick Clark from NSC on Al Qaeda. Then we would not have had to exact these costs on the American taxpayer and we would have tightened our ship that we already had a foundation for. So I think we're going to see these ever-increasing costs unless we do the things and fine tune the existing agencies without continuing to grow the new ones like homeland security.
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW FOR 2012: STOCK PICKS
WAYNE ROGERS: Ring in profits in 2012 with (LUK)
GARY KALTBAUM: Swipe up profits in 2012 with Mastercard (MA)
TRACY BYRNES: No party for stocks in 2012; Dow flatline at best