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Is Obama Making the Right Move to Fix the Economy?; Health Care is a Priority in the New Administration: What the Problems Are and What Needs to Be Changed
Aired March 15, 2009 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN HOST: Welcome to YOUR MONEY. I'm Christine Romans.
ALI VELSHI, CNN HOST: And I'm Ali Velshi.
We've had another busy week when it comes to your money. But this hour, we're going to get down to some things that you really need to know about.
ROMANS: Three big things we're going to tell you about. First, we're midway point through Obama's first 100 days. Is he making the right move to fix this economy?
VELSHI: All right. The other thing that we've been talking about and we want to get to the bottom of. Everybody is concerned about health care. The Obama administration is making it a priority, what is it that they are making a priority exactly, what the problem is and what needs to change? Guess who is here, Sanjay Gupta is going to be with us to us what needs to be done.
ROMANS: Is this economy like a hurricane, a train wreck, a tidal wave? Lots of colorful language to describe what is happening here a different way to describe it. We will give you your best shot to weigh in and tell us what you think.
VELSHI: Your best shot and we'll contribute ideas to that as well. Listen, the big thing everybody is talking about this week, jobs. Jobs are still at the top of everyone's mind. More than 5 million Americans are now receiving unemployment benefits. That doesn't tell the whole story. That's not everybody who is unemployed. There are well more than 12.5 million people now unemployed in the United States.
Now let's take a look at those unemployment numbers for a second. I'll show you how they break down state by state, because that is a good starting point for us today. Look at the whole country. We have an unemployment rate across the country of 8.1 percent. Let me show that to you. That is nationwide unemployment rate and those averages, Christine, you and I often talk about it. It depends where you live in the country.
Let me show you how this breaks down. We've color coded the country and we put those states in green that have an unemployment rate that is lower than 6 percent. So substantially lower than the national average. We have those in yellow that are 9 to 10 percent, not the highest in the country but edging up there. And those in red that are higher than 10 percent across the country. Let's start with this. This is the curiosity, Christine, take a look at the green states with the exception over on the east coast, most of them are centered right down the middle of the country.
The plain states and the mountain west. Take a look at Wyoming, that's the lowest unemployment rate in the country, and I'll bet you know a thing or two about this. You're in Wyoming; you don't have to go over to find some very high unemployment rates, Nevada 9.4 percent, Oregon 9.9 percent, California 10. 1 percent unemployment piled on to a whole lot of budget problems that they have also got.
Let's take it over to the east coast and see what the situation is over there; South Carolina has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, 10.4 percent. Take it to Rhode Island; this is another place that has been having a lot of problems, 10.3 percent and the granddaddy of them all, Michigan, look at that. 11.6 percent. We've known for some time that Michigan has the highest unemployment rate in the entire country.
What's with the green states in the middle of the country?
ROMANS: The green states, and the states that are gray there, what's happening there and they're not having the foreclosure crises like we're seeing in other places and also those are more diversified economies. You've got employment there that is not just one thing. Michigan, very manufacturing heavy, but this is technology. Texas has moved from gas and oil to technology, to their farming so there are a lot of other things that are happening there.
Services industry, and you look all of the way up the Midwest and you can see that. Insurance in Iowa. You have a lot of different things that are happening and a lot of small businesses that are happening and so the economic folks that watch labor markets say there's more diversity.
VELSHI: Do you have any disclosures that you need to give when talking about the diversity of the economy?
ROMANS: Yes. Because I'm from Iowa.
VELSHI: That is right. Lots of things going on. We'll talk more about jobs as well. Another story that you covered a great deal came to another milestone.
ROMANS: The beginning of the end really for the Madoff story.
VELSHI: What a story.
ROMANS: This guy goes to jail and pleaded guilty to 11 counts. For me there are still a lot of questions about Bernie Madoff. It's the largest ponzi scheme.
VELSHI: We've had more questions now than we've ever had before.
ROMANS: He told the judge, I always knew this day would come and I did it because I was trying to protect my investor.
VELSHI: We've also learned there was no investment of anything. He was taking their money and perhaps there was trading done in the very beginning of his career, for the last 13 to 15 years, was there not a single trade.
ROMANS: There are so many questions, and when I talked to victims this week of him they were saying the same thing. One told me the grandiosity of saying we didn't want to disappoint -- I didn't want to disappoint my investors. What investors? You took my money she said.
VELSHI: That's theft. You don't want to disappoint the people you stole from. Elie Wiesel is someone who commented on this like so many have. Listen to what he had to say about Bernie Madoff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIE WIESEL: Psychopath is too nice a word for him. I would simply call him a thief, scoundrel, criminal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: This is the man who has a Nobel Prize for peace.
VELSHI: You don't hear that kind of language out of him very often.
ROMANS: You do not. We also learned that government, a lot of the victims are very furious.
VELSHI: There were a number of victims who were able to speak in court and they were directing a great deal of anger and not just to Bernie Madoff but to the Securities and Exchange Commission of the government.
ROMANS: Because frankly, a whistle-blower has even testified that he laid out this case for the government and the government did nothing.
VELSHI: This is a guy named Harry Markopolos. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARRY MARKOPOLOS, FINANCIAL FRAUD INVESTIGATOR: I gift wrapped and delivered the largest Ponzi scheme in history to them and somehow they couldn't be bothered to conduct a thorough and proper investigation because they were too busy on matters of higher priority.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Markopolos had devoted years of his life to try to explain that there was something wrong with the system that Madoff claimed to be running. ROMANS: He turned out to be the common man of the whole thing. The guy with common sense who was trying to raise the alarm and nothing happened and I think Bernie Madoff had become ...
VELSHI: He was the face ...
ROMANS: Of the whole financial crises. Even though the Ponzi ...
VELSHI: Had nothing to do ...
ROMANS: ...was laid bare, but it's separate from the overall financial crises, but people may be trying to find the blame behind credit default swaps but Bernie Madoff is a good old fashioned scam, the guy took the money.
VELSHI: Here is something, I think to take away from this; there were a number of people we've spoken to, victims since then, who said they knew. They were smart, they had accountants looking at this and they had invested through their financial advisers, these weren't people who did sort of willy, nilly investments. Please go and check where you are invested. If you do it through an adviser, just ask for paper. Ask for a perspective.
ROMANS: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is and that is something that everyone should be thinking about with their money.
VELSHI: Nobody can get you a 12 percent return on a stock market investment every year all of the time. You can do very well; you can do very poorly as we've done, unless it's an annuity or a fixed interest rate return. There are some things that give you a fixed return. The stock market simply does not offer you a fixed return and anybody who says it does is lying to you.
ROMANS: Now let's talk about someone we have been listening to for a long time, Warren Buffett, the oracle of Omaha, is he the richest man? He's top ...
VELSHI: Yeah, he's up there. Bill Gates is back up at the top.
ROMANS: You know, once you're up in that echelon, you know, that's the ranking. This is what he said this week about where we are in this economy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN BUFFETT, CEO, BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY: The economy, ever since we talked in September, we talked about it being an economic Pearl Harbor and what was happening in the financial world would move over to the real world very quickly. It's fallen off a cliff and not only has the economy slowed down a lot, people have really changed their behavior like nothing I've ever seen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: What do you take that to mean when you saw, he'd been talking a lot the other morning. Did you get the impression he was saying it's really bad and going to get worse or it's really bad and going to get better?
ROMANS: I took the impression he said, point-blank, that his worst-case scenario has played out and it is changing for the first time. People are changing what they do. We have had the market go down and the financial crises and the American consumer has always been able to march along and with the globe. The things are changing this time, don't you think?
VELSHI: They are changing. They have changed. I agree with you and I agree with him and I think you and I had been looking at this for well over a year and we started to see consumer behavior. There was a glimpse of something going and it's the government report of retail sales in February. Now here's the thing. It was actually down. It was down 0.1 percent.
ROMANS: That's what constitutes good news.
VELSHI: First of all, because that's not much of a decline, but we always take out autos. This isn't a baseball stat where if you say we take out the autos, autos can skew the number one way or the other.
If you exclude automobile sales, sales were actually up .7 of a percent and we can break that down for you and show you that people spent more money on gasoline. That's not because they bought more gasoline. That's because gasoline cost more. Clothing and accessories up 2.8 percent, electronics up 1.2 percent and appliances by the way. Health and personal ...
ROMANS: That's the lipstick category, the economists had told me that lipstick sales always go up when time are bad, because it is a small purchase people can make at their drugstore, makes them feel better.
VELSHI: As you and I know it's the second month in a row where retail sales were not all that bad. That doesn't make the trend and it doesn't mean that they're changing and it might mean they're buying lipstick and a sweater because that's what you can do to feel better.
ROMANS: What we want to tackle next is can Timothy Geithner, the new treasury secretary save the economy? Do they have the right message? What are they telling us? David Gergen is going to join us and he is going to tell us also what happens if big banks should fail?
ROMANS: Again we hear about the financial institutions in this country that need more money, your money. Frankly Ali Velshi a lot of folks say to us. Why are we throwing more money into the banks? WE don't want to do it. You are going to explain to us very clearly why these big banks and financial institutions might need that money and why it might be important for everybody.
VELSHI: We had some senators actually calling for letting the big banks fail. There are a lot of banks in this country and not all of them are big, in fact there are about 20 that are really, really big and that is what we are talking about. Not the little banks. Let's talk about the big banks and let's take a look at the big bank and assume that it were to fail.
First of all, a bank depends on two things to survive. One is it depends on upon investors who buy its shares. The other thing it depends upon depositors who give the money that it loans out. If a big bank fails people would take their investment out of smaller banks for fear they would fail too. Depositors, how many people have taken their money out of healthy banks because they're fearful that they'll fail? When you take them out of the equation you end up with no lending. We also know what that looks like, because we were in a credit freeze. We are still largely in one.
No lending means that people don't get money for their cars. They don't get money for their student loans and they don't get money for mortgages. We already know what that feels like to some degree, but what we have seen is when the credit crises set in in September and October, no body could raise money, companies couldn't raise short- term operations money and that operations money goes toward things like jobs.
So much of the job loss that we're seeing today is directly related to the fact that companies can't shore up enough cash to keep their employees on the bocks and the way to save cash is to fire people. So letting a major bank fail could have catastrophic consequences just because of the ripple effect.
ROMANS: That is why two administrations, the Republican administration and the Democratic administration both have the same kind of ideas and that is they will do whatever it takes to make sure that the big banks, the banks systemically critical institutions do now fail.
Let's bring in David Gergen and talk a little bit. He is our senior political analyst, talk a little bit whether this administration is doing a good enough job getting the message out that these banks are so critically important because the public seems to be really outraged about putting more money into these banks.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the public is outraged, and the public outrage has been communicated to Congress and so you get one of these CEOs of one of these big banks that goes on Washington and the first message that he hears is you have no idea how much people out there hate you.
And it is translating into a resistance to doing more so-called T.A.R.P. money for the banks on the part of Congress and a real resistance on the part of the public, and it's making, I think, the administration very cautious about trying to put more money into directly out of U.S. Treasury funds. They're trying to use the Federal Reserve to do as much as possible with this.
ROMANS: You know, David, you know you're in trouble in the economy when the treasury secretary is -- is featured in a skit or an impression of him in a skit on "Saturday Night Live." Listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Earlier today I proposed that the Federal Treasury set aside $420 billion. This $420 billion will be placed in a special fund and will go to the first individual who comes up with the workable plan to solve the banking crises. If you have such a plan or know of someone who does, you can call the number on the screen below.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: And the number on the screen, 1-800-idea. David you have been vocal about the fact that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner who was said to be uniquely qualified by the president of the United States did seem to be absent for a while. They've been on a bit of an assault, a bit of a tear for the last week and a half or so with testimony on Capitol Hill. Have you been impressed by what you've seen from Tim Geithner in the last ten days or so?
GERGEN: I've been encouraged that he has now sought out more public forums to explain the policies of this administration. I must say, I think there is still a perception especially in financial communities that he's almost home alone at the Treasury Department and trying to run things. He's been unable and frankly, the White House hasn't been able to put together a team for him of a deputy and undersecretaries this week.
He lost a second person who was slated to be his deputy secretary, his number two, if you would. And this is a really terrific guy, Roger Cohen who is the managing partner of one of the nation's most prestigious law firms Sullivan & Cromwell. Apparently the word on the street is Mr. Cohen who was being penalized in some ways because he, as a partner of Sullivan & Cromwell has made deal with banks and is somewhat suspect. For a lot of people who know something about banking, that's the very man you want to have doing that because he understands the industry.
ROMANS: My sources have been telling me that over the past few weeks the tide has turned and they felt like the administration had gone from being outraged about the scofflaws on Wall Street to being outraged about Wall Street and that that was hurting them in terms of getting people to help with this problem.
You know, Ben Bernanke, the Fed chief is going to be on "60 Minutes" on Sunday night. Are they doing a good enough job? Now they're trying to get out and explain it in layman's term terms on what is happening and what they are doing? Can they turn it around and get the public's perception sort of behind them and say we're doing something and we're going to fix it. Just be patient.
GERGEN: It seems to me they've gotten the message that first of all, they're not explaining their policies well enough and secondly they need to show more respect for the business community. Yes, there are scofflaws, yes, there are villains, but that's very different from saying everybody in business is a villain. When the president spoke to the business roundtable late this past week I thought that was a good sign that they've gotten the message and they're reaching out. The public, let's be clear about this, the American people as a whole are very, very supportive of this president. They like what they see, but there's been a gulf that's opened up between the president and the business community and most of us believe, if you're going to solve this economic crisis, the worst since the great depression, you will need the business community as a partner and not as an enemy.
ROMANS: David Gergen. He's advised four presidents and now he's here with us some fantastic stuff. Thanks, David.
GERGEN: Thank you.
VELSHI: You know the president met with the business community and the business roundtable this week, it was a big group hug.
ROMANS: The business roundtable made up of a bunch of CEOs.
VELSHI: By the way, nobody said scofflaws. I can't believe when you said that. You made David Gergen say it, too. He said it.
When will Wall Street hit bottom? Or has it hit bottom already?
ROMANS: If I knew that I'd be on a deserted island, it depends.
VELSHI: We'll tell you when we come back.
ROMANS: A few up days in the market this week have everyone asking is there a bottom in sight? Is the worst behind us? We wanted to look at the charts to tell you just how bad it has been and what that might mean for the future. There have been 15 bear markets since 1929 and does this one feel ugly? It's because it is. Look at it. This bear market, the S&P has fallen 57 percent. Think of that. You've got to go only back to 1929 all of the way back there that was the worst one.
The S&P from top to bottom fell 86 percent. Take a look here, 1937 and 1938, S&P down by about a half, 2000 to 2002 it fell 49 percent, 1973-'74 down 48 percent. What in the world does all this mean? What it means is this bear market is the second worst ever and it is way up there in terms of the size of the declines and it has some people saying, Ali, that maybe the worst could be over. Others say, oh, no, the economy is so bad that there's a reason why it's the second worst and we don't want to try to call the bottom just yet.
VELSHI: What do you do about that? We have an expert here. Chief investment strategist from Charles Schwab, Liz Ann Sonders, good to have you here. First of all there are so many measures that we've taken, that we've learned that almost don't seem relevant because of the scope of this recession and this bear market. Do you -- can you use historical measures to give our viewers some clue as to where we might be going next?
LIZ ANN SONDERS, CHIEF INVESTMENT STRATEGIST, CHARLES SCHWAB: You can use them as a guide, and I think one of the more important guides is understanding the order of things as they unfold and the very strong tendency for the market to recover first and then for the economy to recover and then for some of the lagging indicators like the unemployment rate tend to recover well after that.
So I think history does give you a sense of what to expect in terms of the priorities, but I would hasten to use long-term averages as some automatic guide for what we should expect going forward in terms of market returns.
ROMANS: What we know, I think, is this feels ugly, what has happened here and when you look at it in the context of history, it has been ugly. People are very, you know, they're right to be confused and upset about what to do with their money. A lot of wealth has been lost and their plans have been put on hold or changed. What is your advice to people who are just now thinking about bailing out of the market or people who right now are saying, oh, no, I'm going to get in right now with some money that I used for college in a few years?
SONDERS: Well, first of all getting in and getting out are not investment strategies those are speculative gains. Investment should be a process over time not a bottom and top calling moment in time decision.
ROMANS: That's incredibly good advice because there are a lot of people right now who had a strategy and now are panicked.
SONDERS: Panicking is not a strategy. It never has been. This is a very different environment, but let me say one thing, it's somewhat trite and I don't mean to make light of the situation, but I think it's something we have to start considering. We're in brutal financial crises.
We are in the great recession, it may not look like a depression, but we've had recessions, we've had depressions and we've had financial crises. We've had brutal bear markets and there is one thing even though they're all slightly different, there is one thing in common with all of them and that is they end. They end.
VELSHI: Right. And usually they'll run up. The other side of it is a little bit of fun.
ROMANS: If you're in it.
VELSHI: For people who are not in it right now, what would your advice be? If somebody came to you as a client and said what do I do? I'm kind of scared of these markets and I'm not invested right now. What do I do?
SONDERS: Here's another thing that's often irresponsible when it comes to reporting on this, and a lot of the pundits that come on and give very quick answers is I have to ask, who are you as the investor? Too often the answer is it's time on buy now. Well, are you a 22-year- old investor that just started putting money in a 401(k) and you're not planning on retiring for the next several decades and you're not going to earn income and you have a high tolerance for risk. I would say, yes, absolutely. Look at your allocation. You're below what you should be in equity get up there. If you're someone in retirement who had too much exposure on the risky asset classes and lost a tremendous amount of money and literally needs every single dime that's left and needs to earn some income on that, the answer to that question for that investor is completely different. There's a cookie cutter blanket it's time to buy now is just I think an irresponsible message.
VELSHI: But it is very responsible of you to explain it's not about timing the market it's about who you are. Thank you very much.
ROMANS: And it's about a strategy. And deciding now to do something is ...
SONDERS: Have a plan.
VELSHI: Can we ask people to go to CNNmoney.com because we have a personal finance section and an investment section that gives you a 101 on how to get through these things. Just take time to learn about these things.
ROMANS: If you're behind on what you should be saving and how you should be allocating for your age. Liz Ann Sonders thanks very much for joining us.
VELSHI: We're midway through the first 100 days of this administration. We need to find out what's working. Which policies are working and how will they help you with your investments, your retirement and your home when we come back.
ROMANS: Fifty plus days now into the Obama presidency. President Obama and his policies, are they working? Jobs, investing, housing.
VELSHI: I mean those are the ones that we want to know about. Are they working on those fronts that are going to make you feel a little wealthier and are it too early to tell or the right time to tell?
ROMANS: That is right. Roland Martin is a CNN political analyst, Stephen Moore is the editorial writer with the "Wall Street Journal" and both of them are here to give us an insight on whether trying to judge someone over 50 days is too quick. Stephen let me ask you first, I mean how well is he doing so far from your perspective?
STEPHEN MOORE, EDITOR WRITER, "WALL STREET JOURNAL:" Well, I'm a fiscal conservative of free enterprise guys.
ROMANS: Let me guess.
MOORE: I'm not too thrilled with this. In the first 50 days of this administration we have $3 trillion of new debt. That's kind of an Olympic medal for fiscal irresponsibility, but you know it probably is too early right now to judge whether these policies will work. I don't think that they will.
I think government spending is the problem and not the solution, but certainly it's too early although it's interesting this week, Christine, that Larry Summers, the chief economist for Barack Obama sort of laid claim to the economy and is talking about some of the good news. We did have a good week for the stock market, but maybe that's an indication that there's more confidence than there was a month ago.
ROMANS: I thought President Obama said we're not supposed to watch the Dow go up and down every day, though. This week is OK to look at it going up and down every day.
VELSHI: Let's talk about jobs for a second because that is front and center for most people. Do you have some sense of hope in you that the Obama administration's plans are likely to create jobs?
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The bottom line is we don't know. Look, Washington D.C., has been so focused on oh, yeah, this will work and this will fail. The reality is they don't even know. You have to actually give it time. So, again, when you look in terms of how corporations had to reach rock bottom and how they're going to actually build, we talk all the time about consumer confidence and we look at it in terms of spending.
Sure, up slightly, not a lot, but the bottom line is when the consumers begin to have a little bit more confidence, it is amazing how the market react, but again, I don't think we can sit here and judge what has happened thus far and say, no doubt, we'll see 2 or 3 million jobs. We have no idea and I wish people in D.C. would be honest with us. We don't know.
ROMANS: It's political suicide to say I don't know what is going to happen. I don't know what we are doing is going to work. I have never heard a politician say that.
VELSHI: We're going to spend a whole lot of money on it.
Let's talk about -- you mentioned the stock market Stephen. I think we probably agree -- we all agree with the president. It's not ideal for most people to be tracking it on a daily basis, but we also disagree with the president when he said it's like a tracking poll because the truth is it's your retirement and the tracking polls don't affect your retirement as much as the stock market does. Do you think there's hope in this market that maybe we hit a bottom and people shouldn't be too afraid of it or do you still think there is a lot of fear here?
MOORE: I hope we have hit a bottom; I also lost a lot of my retirement money and college fund for my kids. I think I'm pretty typical. I think one of the failings that the administration has had in its first 50 days and this is critical to the future direction of both the stock market and the real economy, jobs, is, you know, the center of the crisis is the financial crises, the banks.
They're not lending money. You still have kind of a credit freeze and so far the administration has not been very good at really being specific about what the strategy is for dealing with the banking crises, and I think from both sides of the aisle, he hasn't gotten high marks in that respect when Tim Geithner, the treasury secretary has gone to Capitol Hill they've said what's the plan?
ROMANS: Well here is the problem.
MARTIN: I have to say this because we saw it with the Bush administration as well. Paulson came out and said it that talk, we have to focus on these toxic assets. All of a sudden they then said changes it we'll move on to something else and so the people say it.
We kept hearing it, take your time. Don't rush into it. Then all of a sudden, new president, where is your plan? Where is your plan? I think if you're going to sit here and focus on trillions of dollars worth of assets you better take all of the time you can to make sure it is the best darn plan possible versus throwing something out there.
The failure when Secretary Geithner came out and said we have a plan and I'll come with the details later that was an unnecessary news conference. I don't know what that whole announcement was about.
MOORE: I agree with you on that, Roland. You want to do it right rather than do it quickly, but the same goes for the stimulus plan. They rushed this thing through before anybody -- the trillion dollar bill, nobody in Congress even had a chance to read the bill because they said we have to do it right now. You know, my attitude is, and I've been in this town for 25 years, guys is that whenever Congress does something in a sense of crisis and in a hurry they almost always get it wrong. So you're probably right, Roland, make sure you get it right.
VELSHI: All right. Let's talk about the one thing we do have some details on and that is the administration released as much as we know, the administrations plan to rescue some people in foreclosures or in difficult times in their house. We have some details and it will help some people refinance and it helps others modify their loans. Stephen your view on that.
MOORE: There's been a bit of a backlash against this both politically and from the financial markets. What Americans don't like about this is the idea that they have to pay higher taxes for people who took out bad mortgages, who maybe took out mortgages they couldn't afford, and I know that President Obama has said there is not going to reward people who were trying to profit from the housing market and so on, but there is still a sense that it's just not a fair program to people who are paying their mortgagees on time.
MARTIN: I want to -- if you're sitting at home and you're one of those whiners and complainers saying I pay my mortgage on time. Let me help you with something, if you live on a block and there are four, five, six houses facing foreclosure and they go into foreclosure, your values are going down and crime may very well go up and you should be praying that people are able to stay in these homes.
We hear all of the time, Hurricane Katrina, oh, I was able to get out. Why couldn't you get out? The people who are doing the complaining right now, guess what? Thank God that you're not in the situation because you're probably looking to the government to help you out if you couldn't pay your bills.
ROMANS: The Obama administration said by their calculations that their plan will save every home owner on average $6,000 of a value of their home that would have been lost. Do you buy that?
MOORE: Well I hope that's right. We've taken out about $30,000 in debt per homeowner to try to solve this problem. So, you know, you're throwing money at the problem, and I really believe the best way to do this is just let the banks and the borrowers get together and renegotiate the contracts.
Roland is right. You don't want people to foreclose. That's bad for people on the street and it's bad for people who are in the homes and it's bad for the banks, but I just have a problem and I think a lot of the American people do of bailing out ...
MARTIN: But Stephen, the banks have not done a good job because frankly, they were forced to step up. If the bank his gotten pro- active frankly in September and October we wouldn't be in the situation now.
VELSHI: You lead us into our next discussion about banks, guys. Thanks for joining us. I want to say thank you to both of you for coming together on one idea and that is that bold, striped ties are the way to go.
MARTIN: Come on, now. You know I will rock the tie, Ali.
ROMANS: Primary color, gentlemen.
MARTIN: You need a pocket switch.
ROMANS: Thank you so much. Stephen Moore and Roland Martin.
All right. The future of health care, Sanjay Gupta, the doctor is in the house. Paging Dr. Gupta.
VELSHI: Up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The cost of our health care has weighed down our economy and our conscience long enough. So let there be no doubt, health care reform cannot wait. It must not wait and it will not wait another year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: President Obama trying to prove he can do more than one thing at a time. He can try to fix the economy and he can also take a look at some very big problems in our economy and one of those problems is health care. I don't think anybody thinks that there -- that the health care system works today as it is.
VELSHI: By the way, until the economy became so much the bigger story out there, health care was a very big campaign issue and many Americans probably voted on it. Sanjay Gupta is with us. He's the chief medical correspondent for CNN and knows more about this than anybody.
ROMANS: Hi, Sanjay.
VELSHI: Sanjay welcome. President Obama talked about it, what's the it? What is fundamentally the biggest problem that we have to solve? The number of uninsured people in America?
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think so. The health care system works great for a certain segment of the population, but too many people don't have access to it in part because it's too expensive. That's how you sort of break it down and right now the number 46 million uninsured is the number that a lot of people pay attention to but there are a lot of people who are underinsured as well. They have insurance and it's simply not good enough for them.
ROMANS: Sanjay, one of the things that when we talk about job loss, one of the big things here, those numbers are going to go up, there's no doubt about it because so many people are losing their jobs right now and with it goes the employer-sponsored health care. This problem is only going to get worse here over the next year. It's a very not controversial statement.
GUPTA: No, it's not. A lot of people mentioned that that at the end of this year or the middle of this year those numbers might actually get worse. Now one thing that you sort of brought up is this idea of whether you tackle the economy and then move on to other things, health care, energy, education or if you sort of believe they're inextricably related.
The president based on all his public statements believes that they're related and that you can't fix the economy without fixing health care. You guys talk a lot about this on your show, but so many businesses have such high health care costs to continue to provide healthcare insurance to their employees and be able to rein in cost is a very difficult thing.
VELSHI: Are those equal components? Do we have to rein in costs and cover more people? Is one a greater priority than the other? We hear about universal health care.
VELSHI: How does that fit into this equation of covering more people and reducing costs?
GUPTA: I think if you had to prioritize them and rank orders them, they would say cost first in this administration.
Bill Clinton in his administration back in '93 when they last really tackled health reform would have put access as the number one issue. So cost, if you bring down the cost of health care overall, it will become more affordable to a lot more people so that improves access. It's a somewhat simplistic way of putting it, but I think that's what they're thinking.
ROMANS: How can you bring down those costs though? This is what I don't get when I look at two things; tuition and health care are the things that never get cheaper. Is it because all these new inventions and new treatments and so it's getting more and more expensive. How do you bring the cost down, really?
GUPTA: Well, you know, there's a couple of things. One is you have to sort of recognize how the United States prices things, first of all. If you go to other countries, for example, I was just in India, for example. They can do the same sorts of operations at about a tenth of the cost that we can do it here and it's worth looking at them and it's worth reminding people of that where are a lot of these costs?
People are sicker in this country. We don't exercise prevention strategies enough. That will ultimately save costs, but I think to your point, not right away. Are pharmaceutical costs extremely high in this country in the overall cost of health care because of administrative costs is very high in this country.
Doctors will tell you that we don't always know what works the best for groups of patients. We don't have the best evidence-based medicine. When President Obama talks about health I.T., for example, this idea of collecting lots of data and figuring out what really works will help patient care, but will also bring down costs. This is what he's saying, so ultimately a lot of the things should bring down costs, but it's going to take some time.
ROMANS: Sanjay Gupta. Dr. Sanjay Gupta we have to leave it there. Thanks.
GUPTA: All right. Guys, thanks.
VELSHI: Well another big problem, foreclosures, boy they're rising and home prices keep going down. That combination is toxic. Where does that leave the value of your home?
VELSHI: When will the housing market rebound? Will the government rescue plan help foreclosure rates? We wanted to discuss how this is going to have an impact on you.
ROMANS: And is it time for you to buy a home if you're ready to buy? And will you have a better chance of selling your house if you need to. Pamela Liebman is president and CEO of Corcoran Group and she's here to help us try to decipher what's happening in the housing market right now and who is best positioned. Thanks for joining us Pamela.
PAMELA LIEBMAN, PRESIDENT & CEO, CORCORAN GROUP: My pleasure. ROMANS: So, look, will we see a bottoming in this housing market in the near future? We've seen an awful lot of efforts from banks, but also from the government to try to stem foreclosures and try to spark some kind of at least bottom in housing.
LIEBMAN: I think it's tough to say when we can actually call a bottom; bottoms are never easy to call till we know that we've been there and we are on our way back up. I think the plans that are being put forth today will certainly help, I don't think they are the end all, and be all. We need is consumer confidence to come back in the overall economy in the financial system and we need to get money out there so people can get loans to buy these homes.
VELSHI: We started to see a little bit of up tick in some consumer spending, not enough to make a trend, but going back to the earlier part of this month when the government outlined its mortgage plan part of which would help some people refinance their mortgages if they weren't in too much trouble, part of which would help people modify their mortgages if they were underwater by 50 percent if their mortgage was 50 percent bigger than their home value. Do you think those two programs the government says will help 7 to 9 million people? Do you think they're really going to help?
LIEBMAN: Well, I think they can help some people stay in their homes but one of the bigger questions is how we do get a lot of the other homes sold. Some people are in houses they simply cannot afford to stay into. And if the new buyers cannot get any money to buy them, it causes a problem. So it's definitely a bridge for some of the folks to stop foreclosures now which we need. It gets inventory off the market. It helps people not get kicked out of their houses but I don't know how much it does to actually stir buying across the board in all of the markets in every price range.
ROMANS: Who is buying a house these days? Is it the first-time home buyer with money in the bank who is seeing bargains in -- specifically in some of the high market value markets? Who is buying?
LIEBMAN: Well, I think there's a mix of people buying. Absolutely first-time home buyers are out there. If they have good credit which is a very big deal right now. Obviously the pendulum swung in the opposite direction in terms of qualifying for a loan. If they have good credit they're out there taking advantage of some of the lower mortgage rates and of course of lower prices.
VELSHI: When somebody comes to you to buy a house Pam, I guess there are two questions, one you have to ask them and one they have to ask you. First, do you ask their credit score before you start looking for houses for them? Number two; are they asking you when you think prices will stop going down and why they should buy now if prices don't seem to be stopping?
LIEBMAN: Yes, absolutely. We ask them if they've been prequalified for a mortgage, what their credit score is. We give them some help and some counseling on what they can do before they even begins to think about bidding on a home. And as far as whether or not they should buy now, we look at a home as a home. It's not a stock. It's not something that you trade. It's not a commodity. The past couple of years the run-up in housing turned a lot of what was traditional home buying into speculative investing.
For the traditional home buyer, why do you want the house, why do you need to move? Take advantage of low interest rates, low prices, which is what everybody wants, and find you the right home for you right now.
ROMANS: All right. Pamela Liebman, president and CEO of Corcoran Group. Thank you for dropping by today, I appreciate it.
LIEBMAN: Thank you.
VELSHI: Well everybody is trying to find the right word to describe the financial crises. We're going to give it our best shot and you get to weigh in as well.
ROMANS: Welcome back to NO MONEY. I mean YOUR MONEY. I'm Christine Romans.
VELSHI: And I'm Ali Velshi. We're continuing to try and find ways to describe this financial crisis and every last thing that is happening.
ROMANS: He didn't even laugh at my joke.
VELSHI: It was funny.
We have to figure out ways to talk about this continuing crisis in terms that people who don't follow money every day will understand. So we end up using analogies to describe what is happening out there, whether its storms or it's medical terms or whatever the case -- automobile terms, slamming the brakes and hitting the gas.
ROMANS: Getting the car back on the road.
VELSHI: One of the best in the business for this, of all, is our friend Richard Quest who joins us from London. Richard your descriptions of pretty much anything in life are very easy to understand. But you have been put to the test over the last several months trying to describe what is going on in this complicated world of money to our viewers.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. I think that you can think just about anything you possibly like when it comes to making these analogies. And the best part of course is as you dig the hole deeper and you start getting further and further down and then you start pulling the soil on top of you, and before long you're six foot down, you're dead and buried and as you can see, the analogy goes nowhere fast and you can't find your way out.
My favorite analogy for the economic story is like the cancer patient. The global economy is like the cancer patient. The reason I like this particular one is because you rip the patient open, you grab the cancer out. You have to bury around to make sure you get all the toxic assets out. You see where this is going, guys.
ROMANS: Yes, I see.
QUEST: And then you sew the patient back up again. But, as with any form of cancer treatment, the patient doesn't make an immediate recovery. And that's your slow growth back in 2010.
VELSHI: And I like to use antibiotics as an example because sometimes you want it to work really quickly but it takes a little time. Kind of like the stimulus that goes into the economy. Sometimes you to wait a little while but then the bus goes off the road and you hit the brakes ...
ROMANS: The reason why we do this is because it's so complicated and we're trying to make it simple.
QUEST: Don't forget, Christine, of course, there's always the plane because of course the economy is like a plane. We've taken off in great times but we've hit some turbulence. However, most people will keep their seat belts securely fastened. There will be those people who are in the lavatory in the turbulence; they will be the ones who suffer. But thankfully, if the Fed is flying the aircraft and is on the correct flight path, well, we will all land safely. How about that one?
ROMANS: It's more interesting to understand than credit default swaps and complex derivative strategies.
QUEST: But don't -- if you really want to see what I think is my piece de resistance, it was how I had to explain quantitative easing.
ROMANS: How did you do that?
QUEST: Well, maybe someday you'll run the tape, but basically, I went to a bar and I built a champagne fountain of glasses. And we poured the water down to show the money going right through it.
VELSHI: We will have to get that tape.
ROMANS: I had a lovely time this week doing mark-to-market accounting on "Newsweek" with Heidi Collins. In the end, I think everyone knew more about that.
VELSHI: Richard, come back with us every week. We'd love to continue to hear this because it does help us. Everything you tell us on TV Christine and I are going to be using all week.
ROMANS: Tell us about your show Richard, when is it?
QUEST: It's on every night. I'm most keen of course to have U.S. viewers. U.S. people, listen, are you into twittering, guys?
VELSHI: Totally into twittering in.
ROMANS: Ali is a big tweet.
QUEST: Yeah, that's what I heard. At Richard Quest, I'll follow you. You follow me. And we might actually get a few followers.
VELSHI: And I'm at Ali Velshi. We'll tweet each other. Richard good to see you my friend. Come back often.
ROMANS: Is it a tweet or a twitter in.
VELSHI: It's a tweet if you send to someone. I tweet you but I'm on twitter. I just got on it this week. Follow me at Ali Velshi. I don't know what that means. Follow me to do what? Every now and then I sit there and I say Ali is eating lunch. I think this means we're supposed to go.
ROMANS: E-mail us your analogy at YOURMONEY@CNN.com. You can also e-mail us your instructions on how to be a twitter. Since I don't know anything about it.
VELSHI: Or you can just tweet me. Make sure you join us every week for YOUR MONEY, Saturdays at 1:00 p.m. Eastern and Sundays at 3:00 right here on CNN.
ROMANS: And you can also logon 24/7 to CNNMONEY.com. Have a great weekend.
VELSHI: Tweet tweet.