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CNN IN THE MONEY
America Gets Ready to Vote in Midterms; What is the Fed's Direction on Interest Rates?
Aired October 29, 2006 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The war in Iraq is such a mess that the economy is actually getting short shrift as Americans get ready to vote in the midterm elections. A third party candidate is about as welcome in Washington as a telemarketer calling you dinner time and managed care is out to put the doctor put the bottom line first and your health second. But there is hope. You can vote against every single incumbent on Election Day. This is IN THE MONEY.
Welcome to program. I'm Jack Cafferty. Joining me today, a couple of IN THE MONEY veterans, Jennifer Westhoven, Andy Serwer.
The gross domestic product was a little on the gross side when it came out on Friday morning. Disappointing, to say the least. What does that do in terms of the Fed's future direction on interest rates, Wall Street, does the stock market react negatively to that? How did you read the numbers?
ANDY SERWER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: See I think we have to take a step back here and tell ourselves that as far as the economy goes, it doesn't get any better than this. I mean, think about it, the Federal Reserve didn't touch interest rates. Thinks the economy is neither too hot, nor too cold. The stock market is going up, energy prices are down. What more do you want?
JENNIFER WESTHOVEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I don't know, I think when we talk goldilocks economy, that is sort of the rising tide lift all boats. And that's not something that's going on here. I think the stock market might be applauding those great corporate earnings, and but housing market looks pretty bad ...
SERWER: That is some bad stuff.
WESTHOVEN: And you know the heating costs are going to be really tough this winter.
CAFFERTY: And there's that 1.6 percent GDP, a little too low to keep producing jobs in the economy and moving things forward.
SERWER: It is a little weak. You are always going to have soft spots. You talk about the housing market. That seems to be falling off a cliff. That number about new housing prices really down. But then the stock market sort of mitigates that. It's actually up about the same amount of the price of your house is down. So you know, again, what do you want here, people? I mean it's interesting, the Republicans don't seem to be able to take this to their advantage, though. That's an interesting point.
CAFFERTY: Well, because of the overriding concern, I think for war and foreign policy and the war on terror. It'll be interesting, though, the Fed probably is not going to be able to go near raising interest rates for a while and we might actually be looking forward to a time in the not too distant future when they cut them.
SERWER: Yeah. I think that's probably right.
CAFFERTY: Price of gasoline is not so much of a consumer issue as a national obsession. But with the midterm elections coming in up about a week and a half, a couple of issues are leaving even the mighty price per gallon in the dust. Carroll Doherty Is the associate director of the Pew Research Center for the people and the press. And he is going to talk about where the economy figures in in the minds of voters these days. Carroll, nice to have you with us. Thanks for joining us.
CARROLL DOHERTY, PEW RESEARCH CENTER: Nice to be here.
CAFFERTY: Traditionally, people vote their wallet when it is time to go into the voting booth. Why will this election may be different in that regard?
DOHERTY: I think as you noted, the war is crowding out other issues as we head into the homestretch for the midterms. It's been Iraq that's overtaken the economy.
SERWER: But Carroll is it true that people talk a good game when it comes to national issues. But when it really comes down to, it particularly with their congressmen and congresswomen, they vote local. I met the person at the car dealership, they seem really nice. Do people vote based on Iraq locally?
DOHERTY: Well, certainly this is a more nationalized election than we've seen in quite a while. Maybe since 1994, the famous year when the Republicans took over. Every measure we have of a nationalized election is there this year.
WESTHOVEN: Well, when we talk about the war, what is it about the war that people are really talking about? Is it how the war is going? Is it that the people that maybe who have been running the war are still in charge? You know what I mean? Can we be a little bit more specific whether people care about?
DOHERTY: Well, what they're seeing and what we see reflected in our polls are things are not going well. We had 59 percent in our latest poll saying things are not going well over there. And that's the highest number we've ever gotten.
CAFFERTY: On the other hand, things, as we were just talking here before we introduced you, things are going pretty well in the country, as far as the economy's concerned. Unemployment is low, stock market's up, interest rates are reasonable. What is it about this management of a war in Iraq that has virtually obliterated the good news on the economy here at home? Why are people so angry? DOHERTY: I think people are angry. I think the negative view is that, you know, this is a very different situation than we had four years ago going into the midterms. The economy was much more important. We were headed to war at that point. But economy was much are more of an issue. This year it's Iraq, Iraq, Iraq. Now I would say that the economics are local to a certain extent. We see much more concern in say the Midwest about the economy than we see in the rest of the country.
SERWER: Let me ask you about this expectation's game we always play, Carroll. I mean everyone's suggesting, the Republicans are going to lose Congress, maybe the Senate. But isn't it really true that we say these kinds of things every time. And then oh my goodness, how is it the Republicans didn't do that badly. People aren't disillusioned as they tell some pollster. Isn't that always the case?
DOHERTY: Well, it depends on the election. I think in this case you do see a strong national trend in favor of the Democrats. But these are in the House, these are 435 individual races. And we keep stressing that.
CAFFERTY: What about the possibility that the Republican base may not choose to participate this time around? You had a little bit of the perfect storm for them when the NIE estimate was leaked from -- concerning the war in Iraq, suggesting it might get worse next year.
You had Woodward's book out, "State of Denial", suggesting things are just going to a in a basket when it comes to this whole war in Iraq. And then perhaps the most damaging to the Republican base, the Mark Foley scandal, this degenerate worm who apparently been hitting on these 16-year-old kids for a long time down there in Washington, DC. And the suggestion that was might keep the Republican right-wing, the conservative Christian voters home on Election Day. Do you see evidence that might be the case?
DOHERTY: It's hard to tell at this point. I mean, again, the turnout operation's really kicked into high gear now. And we'll see the effect of this on Election Day. But it is notable that the Republicans are creating more of a contrast. Emphasizing who Democratic leaders are going to be. Emphasizing who the Democratic committee chairmen are going to be. And I think that's intended to get Republicans, in particular, to say, there's a contrast in this election. And it's important for them to turn out to vote.
CAFFERTY: So you should run out and vote Republican, just so you don't have to listen to Nancy Pelosi for the next couple of years. Is that kind of the deal?
DOHERTY: Well, there some to that effect.
CAFFERTY: Carroll, it's nice have you on the program. Thanks for your thoughts. I appreciate it.
DOHERTY: Thank you.
CAFFERTY: Carroll Doherty, associate director Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.
When we come back on IN THE MONEY, why there is no new Ross Perot. We'll look at whether money is keeping third-party candidates out of mainstream or whether they are being excluded because of structural things that have been done to the system to make sure that more than two can play this game.
Also ahead, less M.D. more MBA. See why your doctor spends so much time with your insurance company and so little with you.
And watch your head. See how solid that glass ceiling is. Despite all the female CEOs out there in corporate America. We'll continue in a moment.
CAFFERTY: Well, it's come down to the lesser of two evils and Americans are growing tired of only able to choose between a Republican and a Democrat. It's like which bag of fertilizer would you like?
So how likely is a legitimate third party if this country? With anyone without the billions of a Ross Perot or a Michael Bloomberg really be able to amount a serious challenge? Joining us now is Ron Rappaport, who's the coauthor of the book "Three's a Crowd, the Dynamic of Third Parties, Ross Perot and the Republican Insurgents."
Ron, nice to have you with us.
RON RAPOPORT, AUTHOR: It's great to be here.
CAFFERTY: On THE SITUATION ROOM on CNN a few weeks ago, I asked this question to the viewing audience. Would you support a third political party in this country that was head by Colin Powell and Barack Obama. We got thousands of letters and ninety percent of them said, you bet and yet it's not likely to happen. Why not?
RAPOPORT: Well, it's always difficult for a third party. They have to get on the ballot. Campaign finance laws is tend to be slanted against them. It's very hard for them to raise the money that they need because we limit the amount of money that individuals can give.
And they often have great difficulty getting access to the media. A candidate like Ross Perot or Colin Powell certainly stands a much better chance. And is sometimes able to do that. But I think it's important that a third party, to be successful, really needs a set of issues. That the two major parties have ignored. And Ross Perot had that in '92.
CAFFERTY: It seems to me that there are a bunch of those very things sitting out there, staring us right in the face right now. I mean do a poll on the war in Iraq. Do a poll on the Republican leadership. Do a poll on Congress. The country's fed-up with the status quo. They're mad at Republicans, and quite frankly the Democrats ain't a whole lot better. RAPOPORT: Well, I think that's right. I think reformism is clearly a very important base of a third party. But think that Perot had not only reformism going with him but the economic nationalism. U.S. involvement which people were opposed pretty strongly at that.. Some anti-NAFTA. So you need a pretty solid constituency that both rejects the Democrats and Republicans and buys into the position that you hold.
The problem with third parties is, they always look good, until they have to define their positions. Ross Perot was able to identify a very clear set of issues that he was distinguished from the major parties on, and in which people bought into. He came to embody those and was very successful with them.
CAFFERTY: A lot of the stuff he said, he was absolutely right about when you look back at what has happened since he ran.
RAPOPORT: That's absolutely right and I think a lot of these same issues -- economic nationalism, which is immigration. U.S. involvement. The balanced budget, and reform. Those are all three sets of issues that are there for the right candidate to sort of put together. But it does take the right candidate. And money is a problem. And so is structure. Access to the debates is crucial. And it was crucial for Ross Perot.
CAFFERTY: Of course depending on your political leanings, you could argue against the emergence of a third party. Ross Perot gave us Bill Clinton, didn't he?
RAPOPORT: A lot of the evidence is he didn't have too much impact on Election Day. About half of the Perot people said they would have voted for Clinton, and about half said they would vote for Bush. Those who would have voted. A good number wouldn't have voted at all.
CAFFERTY: What happens to the 20 percent? And I guess he got close to 20 percent which is remarkable showing, given all of the things you're talking about. What happens to the people that vote for a Ross Perot when the election's over? Where do they go?
RAPOPORT: That is the a great question. What we find happens is is that when a third party is successful in identifying an issue constituency that the major parties have ignored one or more of the major parties, then, tries to move on that issue constituency and that's what Republicans did in '94. They spent basically the two years between '92 and '94 crafting a strategy to get the Ross Perot supporters. And the Contract with America was a Ross Perot document. It didn't mention the Republicans. It was a contract. And most importantly, it didn't mention either abortion or free trade. It focused on reform. And it was making the appeal to that Perot constituency. And they moved from getting half of the Perot voters voting Republican for congress in '92, to two-thirds' voting Republican for Congress in '94.
CAFFERTY: Would it make any sense, from your perspective -- You've got people like Rudy Giuliani and John McCain and even a Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City who are being talked about as possible candidates in 2008.
Given the general sense of disgust over the status quo in this country and the dissatisfaction of the average voter with not just the Republicans, but the whole dysfunctional federal government structure, if you will, would it make any sense for those kind of people to seriously think in terms of trying to mount a third political party? I mean I don't know anything about this stuff. But it seems to me if ever a time for it, the time is right now.
RAPOPORT: Well, I think the time may well be right now. And I think that will especially be true if the Democrats take Congress. Because then I think both parties are responsible for the problems, which I think are unlikely to be solved. You know, clearly if McCain can get the Republican nomination, he has a better chance of being elected than running as an independent.
I think you need someone who does embody a position. I think McCain embodies reform, it a much greater degree than either Giuliani or Bloomberg. I think a Colin Powell embodies kind of nonpartisan commitment to the country in an important way. I think that Lou Dobbs is someone, who on an issue like immigration.
RAPOPORT: Lou Dobbs.
CAFFERTY: Oh, I have heard of him, yeah.
RAPOPORT: You've heard of him?
He embodies that issue to such a degree that people who care about that issue, I think it easily rally to him. Because I think they trust neither the Democrats nor the Republicans on it.
CAFFERTY: Yeah I trust Lou more than I trust any of the politicians I know of. And it's funny you mention that. I get a lot of mail saying that say Lou ought to run for higher office. I don't know that he would be interested. But there are a lot of people out there that feel exactly the way you're suggesting they do. We have got to stop there, Ron. It's nice to have you with us. Thank you.
RAPOPORT: Well, it's been a real treat for me. Thank you very much.
CAFFERTY: Ron Rapoport. He teaches government by the way at the College of William and Mary. If you want to send your kid there to get a little primer on how this whole system works or doesn't. He's also the coauthor on a book "Three's a Crowd: the Dynamic of Third Parties, Ross Perot and Republican Resurgence" which is a really long title.
Coming up after the break, preventive medicine. See why a big pharma and some other industries are pumping money into the Republican campaign machine cause they're scared, that's why.
And later boxed in. Find out how many women are making it out of the cubicle and into the corner office.
And there goes your retirement. We'll tell you what it costs to send a kid to college these days. Trust me, it's a lot. Back after this.
WESTHOVEN: All right this is the time when we take a look that the week's top stories in our "Money Minute." The Fed this week voted to keep interest rates right where they are, but on Friday the economy came in with a slower than expected reading for the quarter. Now Fed watchers are raising the odds we will see a cut in rates when Ben Bernanke and company meet again in December.
And the big drop in gas prices is really hurting the big oil companies. Yeah, right! ExxonMobil made $10.5 billion. One of the highest quarterly profits ever reported. In fact second only to ExxonMobil. Last year. The stock's near an all-time high.
Different story though in the real estate market. This week we saw news of the biggest drop in home prices since Richard Nixon was president. The median price for a new home down almost 10 percent to $217,000. Housing experts blame a glut of new homes for sale.
CAFFERTY: Should you labor under the assumption that big business is sitting out these midterm elections, you would be wrong. Think again. Corporate America pouring big money into the races at the last minute. Susan Lisovicz joining us now from the New York Stock Exchange to talk about who is giving, how much they are giving, and where the money's going in this week's "Street Talk." Susan, nice to see you.
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Great see you, Jack.
CAFFERTY: The big business guys tend to line up, a lot of them, on the side of the elephants. And the elephants are in trouble. Tell me how what is going on and how that translates to what they're doing with their checkbooks.
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think you can certainly make the case, Jack, that big business is heavily invested in this midterm election. $2.6 billion is the projected overall spending. And that would be the most expensive midterm election ever. Just up 18 percent from just four years ago.
I think one of the interesting things about it is that it's almost even. If you look at the overall spending between each party, $1.4 billion for Republicans, $1.2 billion for Democrats. It was an interesting quote I saw from the chairman the Federal Election Committee. And he said, clearly this is one of the best years for challenger fund-raising than we've seen in decades. So you bet, big business is interested in the outcome of this election.
SERWER: But Susan, as Jack was saying, you think a lot of times, big business, Republican Party. But which businesses? Which industries are tied to the Democrats? Give the Democrats big money? LISOVICZ: You know interestingly enough, the top donor is the law profession, lawyers and law firms. And that is heavily Democratic. Especially when you talk about trial lawyers.
LISOVICZ: They don't want any caps on those class action awards. That's something businesses in general would favor and they tend to vote Republican. But lawyers vote Democratic. So the number one recipient of -- individual recipient of law fees, donations in this election, is someone we all know well, and that is Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. The junior senator from New York.
CAFFERTY: And what is it that we, as individual, are allowed to contribute? There is a maximum, right? What is it $1,000?
LISOVICZ: Yeah, well you know, it's confusing. Jack, I can read balance sheets. I can't understand the difference in campaign finance reform. But the bottom line is that the soft money has gone away. The hard money is still there. Ultimately it's still spending. We as individuals can give more. That's basically doubled from four years ago. And that is about $2,100 per candidate, per election. So you can give that twice. So you could give it in the primary. You could also give it in the general election.
CAFFERTY: The point I was trying to make is we could give $2100 or $4200, businesses are giving, what did you say? $2.6 billion? And you think you and I have any kind of a voice that anybody cares about in Washington, DC? We must be dreaming.
LISOVICZ: Well $2.6 billion, according to the CRP, three quarters of that is coming from big business. Whether it's coming from PACs, political action committees that are tied to industries or companies. Or the employees themselves.
SERWER: Hey, just quick, last question here, Susan. Where are some local races where businesses have really ramped up the ...
LISOVICZ: That's actually really an interesting question because pharmaceutical, one of the big donors is not only spending heavily in some hotly-contested races, but also is an issue itself. Three years ago, Jack, I want you to listen up, there was a bill passed in Congress. And it was a law that allowed Medicare spending to cover prescription drugs.
One of the most contentious aspects of that bill is that it bars the government from negotiating prices for those prescription drugs. So you're seeing big pharma pour money into some races. One of them is in Pennsylvania, which has a big population of senior citizens. Seniors of course vote. The race I'm thinking about specifically involves a Senator Rick Santorum, who has received about half a million dollars from pharmaceutical companies. And you bet his opponent is saying -- is using that as a weapon, saying that that program, which he was a proponent of, is a giveaway to big pharma. So not only is big business invested in this election, in some cases is an issue itself. SERWER: Yep. All right, well that's interesting stuff, Susan. We are going to have it to leave it at that. The incomparable Susan Lisovicz, CNN's financial ...
LISOVICZ: Great to see you guys.
SERWER: Good to see you.
Coming up next on IN THE MONEY, the bare minimum. See why today's minimum wage is so last century and plus, in good company. With more firms putting women in the corner office, we'll tell you how the glass ceiling is looking these days.
And we want to know what you think about the show, we really do. You can send us an e-mail. We're at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SERWER: Overworked and underpaid -- it's our new national motto it seems, for a lot of us anyway. We all feel like we deserve a little bit more, but what if you were making just $11,000 a year? That's about the annual salary of a minimum wage earner. The federal minimum wage, $5.15 an hour hasn't been raised in almost 10 years.
Now some states are taking it upon themselves to do it. Twenty- two have upped it on their hone and six are putting it before the voters next Tuesday. Beth Shulman, author of "Betrayal of Work" joins you now with more on this. She's the co-chair of the Fairness Initiative on Low-Wage Workers.
Beth, I guess the first question is, how is it that we haven't raised the minimum wage? And how have "they" been able to suppress this move to raise it?
BETH SHULMAN, AUTHOR, "BETRAYAL OF WORK": Well, what we've seen certainly in Washington, is moneyed interest, you know rallying against it.
But what's been extraordinary is that there's been really a revolution at the state level. We now have 22 states that have a minimum wage higher know that the federal level. And six more as you stated are going to be voting on it this coming Tuesday. So what we've got here is really people at the local level saying, enough is enough. You know we believe in America. That if you work hard, you should be able to take care of yourself and your family. But for millions of America that promise is just no longer true.
And one of the best ways of you know starting to make sure that people make an adequate wage is to raise the minimum wage.
WESTHOVEN: You know, during these 10 years that they haven't raised minimum wage. Congress has given themselves, I think it's nine pay raises that this point.
SERWER: Why play fair?
WESTHOVEN: Hey, you talked about the money that's come in, that keeps the federal government, the Congress from doing anything about it. Can you just tell us a little bit more who's paying that money? Who's really out there blocking this from happening that states have to do this on their own?
SHULMAN: Certainly we have business interests who have, you know always opposed a hike in the minimum wage. And we have ideologues who just oppose it just on the basis of ideology. But again what's significant here is you have more than 85 percent of Americans who support a hike in the minimum wage and this isn't a partisan issue.
Seventy-two percent of Republicans support a hike in the minimum wage. You know, in two states that went for George Bush in the last election, Nevada and Florida, both of those, you know, had a hike in their minimum wages.
So this is an issue of basic fairness. This is an issue where Americans are saying enough is enough. We're working hard. Yet we're being priced out of the American dream.
CAFFERTY: But it doesn't matter 85 percent of Americans want, does it, Beth? It matters what the big corporate contributors who payroll and finance this government, who own this government, who buy and carry our lawmakers around on their back pocket, it is what they want. The government won't enforce our immigration laws. There are 12 million illegal aliens in this country. Many of them more than happy to work for less than the minimum wage, and everybody in Washington knows that, and nobody cares.
SHULMAN: Well, it's really clear that corporate interests are really dictating the agenda in Washington. But again what's happening at the state level is Americans are saying, this is enough. We're doing what we need to do. We're working hard. We're trying to support our families. And it's only fair that we make an adequate wage so that we can support our families.
And again, I don't think this is the end of it. You know six states are going to have it on the ballot November 7th. And we're going to see continuing states you know going for a hike in their minimum wage above the federal level.
SERWER: But Beth, let me jump in here and ask you. What these big businesses say is that if you raise the minimum wage, you'll cause inflation to increase. And -- I'm just playing devil's advocate here. But how do you respond to that number one? And number two, you will cause layoffs. Because you'll make the salaries that they pay to workers that much more and they will have to lay people off. Isn't that true?
SHULMAN: This is the same old story. They've been putting this out again and again and again. The reality is all the studies show that in fact there's not more unemployment after the hikes in the minimum wages at the state levels. Even at the federal level, you know, when we hiked it 10 years ago, there was no increase in unemployment. In fact there's studies that show the states that have a higher minimum wage have created more jobs than those that don't.
WESTHOVEN: But add a little bit more to that too, now that we've got, what, 22 states and DC that have tried it, we've had a lot of states where we can study. And it's true that when they look at many of those states, they look at the statistics, they don't see any kind a drop there in terms of the employment level.
But I wanted to ask, how many people at this point really are affected by the minimum wage? Because these days, if you are somebody who goes to work at McDonald's, they pay better know that the minimum wage.
WESTHOVEN: Well, if we just raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, 15 million Americans would get an increase. I mean 15 million Americans. That's really significant.
SHULMAN: That's why it's so important to raise this minimum wage. And obviously it has an impact on those right above making minimum wage. It kind of has a ripple effect up. We've seen stagnant wages across the board. We've seen increase in productivity. Increase in profitability. Yet working Americans are just not seeing it in their paycheck. We need to raise the minimum wage.
SERWER: All right, we're going to leave it at that. Obviously it's an issue that's not going away. And it'll be interesting to see how things play out on November 7th. Beth Shulman author on of "Betrayal of Work." She is the co-chair of the Fairness Initiative of Low-Wage workers. Thank you for coming on the program.
SHULMAN: My pleasure.
SERWER: There's lots more to come here on IN THE MONEY.
Up next, Frankendoc. Insurance companies are creating a creature that's part doctor, part businessman. Find out if that's good for the health of your pocketbook. Well, what do you think?
And later, hard tops. See if that old glass ceiling is still hanging over the American workplace. We'll look at the changing number of female CEOs out there.
WESHOVEN: Millions of American workers who are lucky now you have health insurance at work, are right now checking out their options. It's open enrollment season, but don't expect to find any bargains with costs rising all across the board. Our next guests says the insurance companies are calling the shots. And they're making life a lot harder for patients and for doctors, too.
Joining us now Dr. Pamela Gallin. A surgeon at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center here in New York and she is also the author the book "How to Survive Your Doctor's Care."
We know we don't mean you, since you're a doctor as well. Certainly welcome. What kinds of, you know, crossing the Is, dotting the Ts, how much time to do doctors have to spend just dealing with the insurance companies?
DR. PAMELA GALLIN, SURGEON: We spend a staggering amount of time. In fact, when you're in the examine room, three of us there -- the doctor, the patient and the bureaucracy and people have hired additional staff just to deal with the bureaucracy.
CAFFERTY: Why has our health care system deteriorated to the point that it has? Where we don't have affordable health care. The insurance companies have created this bureaucratic nightmare for people. What's behind all of this, doctor?
GALLIN: We -- it's -- nobody's stopping it. And as practitioners and as a patient, it's a terrible time for us. And we're all having great difficulties stopping the cascading efforts.
CAFFERTY: When you say, "Nobody's Stopping It," who's nobody?
GALLIN: I think -- I'm an individual practitioner. So this is one person's opinion but in fact I think it has to be on the federal level. Because the insurance companies are self-perpetuating. We're subject to the rules and regulations, as practitioners, and also as patients.
SERWER: You know, Pamela, you are complaining about the paperwork that you're facing, but I tell you, I don't feel that badly for you and I will tell you why. Because you understand the system. You know how to cope with people. I see doctors and when they call the insurance company, they get through to someone. When my wife and I have to go through the paperwork, we're put on hold for 45 minutes. Every time we put a claim in, they tell us it's rejected. They just do that to make us give up. Everyone knows that. So I think we've got it, patients have it worse than the doctors do, don't you think that's right?
GALLIN: I'll agree with that. Patients have worse know that the doctor, but doctors have it worse than they did before. And in fact when we call, we get put on hold. This is Simon says. I have to have my secretary call and say "Please may my patient have an MRI?" And the person to whom I'm asking this question is a low-level person. And it's really very frustrating and it hampers my ability to give care and my colleagues, when we have to ask permission for simple tests and procedures.
And of course when we call as patients, we get put through to another place which goes in a circular file. But it happens to the doctors also.
CAFFERTY: Tell me about the war of the codes.
GALLIN: The war of the codes. There is now a degree that you can get. As a technician of sorts in CPT codes. And that is, if you have -- if you hire people who are very clever with the codes, you can get a higher reimbursement. CAFFERTY: The codes, just so our viewers understand, the codes are the things that identify the medical procedures that we all have that go into the insurance companies, right.
CAFFERTY: If I come to you for a problem, you put a code on my claim form.
GALLIN: Yes. And I put -- there are three, four different levels of examinations from simple to complex. You have a diagnosis. And sometimes are there subdiagnoses. And everything is categorized by these numbers. And if it's coded one way, the reimbursement is at a higher level than at another. And when we go to our medical meeting, previously we would go in and discuss complicated patients. And now we hear people grousing about the bureaucracy.
CAFFERTY: And the codes, the insurance company's interests are to keep the codes down. And it's the provider's interests to mark the codes in such a way that the patient gets some reasonable reimbursement and there are actually full-time positions now created within the health care industry, for people to do nothing but sit around and futz back and forth and argue about these code, correct.
GALLIN: Exactly. And there is another layer of bureaucracy, and it hampers patients' abilities to get care and doctor's ability to give the care.
SERWER: Let me ask you, doctor. I hope this is the point of your book. What can we do? What are some tips you have to navigate through this quagmire?
GALLIN: Well, the first thing as a patient with the bureaucracy specifically is try to get a person on the other end who will process your papers, which is an exceedingly difficult task. But if you're in a big corporation, there is usually a point person whose job is in fact to help the workers in that company. And in that case you really have an advocate. Because they will call the insurance companies. Say look, my worker here needs to be reimbursed. And it doesn't matter whether you're the president of the company or a temporary person. They will help you. As an individual.
And for me as a self-insured person, which is what I am, it is exceedingly difficult because you are constantly fighting the bureaucracy. There are time limits. If you don't file a claim within a certain amount of time then it self destructs and so you have to do it went window. But if you are sick enough to have a problem you're sick enough not to want to do it in that time window. So it's catch- 22, quite literally.
WESTHOVEN: Oh, Dr. Gallin. It's intimidating and Andy sounded like he's been stuck in the bureaucratic nightmare. I know I've been stuck in the war of the codes. It is awful sometimes. You can't get your money back. Thank you very much for helping people to try to navigate that sea of numbers.
GALLIN: Thank you very much.
WESTHOVEN: That's Dr. Pamela Gallin. She director of pediatric ophthalmology at the Colombia University Medical Center in New York.
All right, more and more women are breaking into the top office at companies. On "Fortune" magazine's list of the most powerful women, seven of them this year are CEOs. Power, though, doesn't always translate into pay. Carol Costello has the story.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are some of the most powerful well-paid women in business today. Safra Catz, annual income, $26.1 million. Susan Decker, annual income, $23.4 million. Catz and Decker who are the top women earners and other female executives have broken through the glass ceiling. That informal barrier to advancement. But even the highest paid women executives still make two to three times less than the highest paid men.
Eugene Isenberg. Annual income $71.4 million. Ray Irani, annual income $70 million. Fortune's top 10 list a list of mostly white men. The highest paid woman makes 47 percent less than the lowest earning man on the list.
LOIS JOY, CATALIST: The wage gap has narrowed, but still women earned 73 cents to the dollar for men in managerial positions. And as you move higher up the hierarchy that gap widens.
COSTELLO: More women are at the helm of giant companies than ever before. Prompting "Fortune" to call the year the most powerful woman CEO. But experts point out, the number of women in CEO positions remains a fraction the number of men.
JOY: CEO positions are dominated by men. As you move up, we see fewer and fewer women. So at the corporate officer level, we have about 16.7 percent women. At the CEO level, there are approximately 10 women CEOs in the fortune 500.
COSTELLO: Lois has been studying the disparity in wages in the workplace for 12 years. And says the inequality women face has more to do with the stereotypes that still exist in top leadership than in balancing work and home life.
JOY: Stereotypes still persist. Don't see women as confident leaders. When they think of who makes a good leader, they're not necessarily thinking of a woman. Or a woman of color. They're thinking of a white man. It may be very unconscious.
COSTELLO: With women like Indra Newi (ph) at PepsiCo Pat Wertz (ph) at Archer Daniels Midland and Irene Rosenfeld at Kraft Foods being promoted to the top seat this year, are there signs that is slowly changing. But experts believe women are still decades away from parity with men in the work place. Carol Costello, CNN, New York.
WESTHOVEN: Next right here on IN THE MONEY, degrees of pain. Cost of a college education just hit a new record high. We've got that number.
And it's time to hear from you. We'll read some of your e-mails from last week and you can send us an e-mail right now. We're at email@example.com.
SERWER: There are three things you can count on in America -- death, taxes, and rising college tuition. The cost of getting a higher education has broken another record. And cnnmoney.com managing editor Allen Wastler explains it all in this week's "The Number" segment. Allen?
ALLEN WASTLER, CNNMONEY.COM MANAGING EDITOR: Andy, the number for today is, 30,367, that is the average cost.
WASTLER: Average, average. So we've got tuition, your room and boarding your transport costs, your books. Everything in there. Average cost for college. Isn't that good news, Jack.
CAFFERTY: Without the pizza.
SERWER: The walking around money, as they say, right.
WASTLER: Fraternity initiation fees. All of that. That's a rise of 6.3 percent over the previous year. Here's the good news though, less of a jump than the year before that.
WESTHOVEN: Oh gee.
WASTLER: So you're seeing the rate of increase go down. You grasp at whatever you can, Jen. I've got more good news for you. In the second number, you get two numbers for one this week, OK? Second number, 51,554. That is the average salary of someone who has a college degree. That is also an increase from the previous year. Compare that to 28,645. That's the average salary of someone who only has a high school degree.
SERWER: I see where you're getting at.
CAFFERTY: Isn't it true, Mr. Wastler, that a lot of students who attend these collegeS and universities get aid, student aid, financial aid.
WASTLER: Yes, it is Mr. Cafferty and I'm glad you asked that.
CAFFERTY: That's part of my job. Shepherd this thing alone.
WASTLER: If you were wondering, the average Pell grant is now $120 less now than it would usually be. The amount of aid is actually leveling off. Not keeping up the pace of the actual increases.
CAFFERTY: Who pays for this aid?
WASTLER: Ah, that would be the taxpayer, Mr. Cafferty.
CAFFERTY: And in the meantime, we have these places, like Harvard, sitting on these endowments, of billions. See where I'm going with, this Mr. Wastler? You and I are paying the student aid to these universities that have endowments in the billions.
CAFFERTY: Why don't they get the can opener out and get into the piggy bank and start paying a little of their own ...
WASTLER: Well, I think you would have to look at their cost structure, okay.
CAFFERTY: Oh come on.
WASTLER: Because there is a lot of infrastructure there and a lot of fat that could -- you.
CAFFERTY: Mean the cost structure of tenured professors that teach two classes a week, take the entire summer off and make 100 grand year, for is -- is that the kind of cost structure that you're talking to me about, brother?
WASTLER: Bingo, right there.
SERWER: That's what I'm talking about.
WASTLER: That's the kind of job that if they put a real manager in charge of these places like you or me.
CAFFERTY: Almost like being a congressman.
WASTLER: Boom, we would screw that right down, but yes there you go. There are the numbers.
CAFFERTY: Thank you for enlightening us, oh wizened one. Allen Wastler, the webmaster with this weeks number. Well, actually, two numbers.
WESTHOVEN: October is breast cancer awareness month. In this week's life after work, Valerie Morris talked to a retired woman who has taken a new job. She's traveling to rural areas to teach other women about the disease and how to take care of themselves.
VALERIE MORRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In 1998, Charlie Stayton retired from her job as a librarian to fulfill her life's mission. CHARLIE STAYTON, EXEC DIR., THE WITNESS PROJECT: I don't think that I would have been this busy at the age of retirement because now my family's telling me, ma, when you going to come home?
MORRIS: At 63, Stayton is the executive director of the Witness Project. Located on the campus of the university of Arkansas. The non-profit organization educates women. Mostly African American, about breast cancer and cervical cancer.
STAYTON: We want to reach all the women in the state of Arkansas that are not covered with medical insurance. We go out into the communities and we present educational programs. And through these educational programs we teach them the benefits of early detection.
MORRIS: Stayton knows the importance of treating cancer early. And even though her battle with cervical cancer was more than 20 years ago, she draws on that life experience to help others today.
STAYTON: The most rewarding part of my work is helping the ladies. Because when I went through my ordeal in 1984, no lady stepped to the plate and said, I've had cancer. So when you can give the ladies consolation and let them know you'll be there and walk them through regardless, that make me feel I have done something worthwhile.
MORRIS: Valerie Morris, CNN.
WESTHOVEN: Stay with us. We're going to be right back with a lot more of IN THE MONEY.
CAFFERTY: Time now read your answers to our question of the week, about whether you've moved in the last five years, and why?
Jeffrey in California writes this, "We moved from Florida to Valencia, California because I am a teacher and Valencia schools pay twice as much as they do in Florida. Now I have better pay and my kids are also going to better schools themselves. And I am saving a bundle on homeowners insurance."
Linda in Iowa writes, "Last year I moved from California to Iowa so I could by a home I could never otherwise afford. I got one for less than $100,000 and this is the best move I ever made."
And Nancy in Texas writes. "The ever expanding construction along with the impossible traffic in the Dallas area forced us to move to a less crowded area in West Texas. The irony is that we never had an accident in all the years we lived in Dallas. Somebody hit us and sent me to the emergency room right after we moved to our new city."
Well, that's no fun.
Time now for next week's e-mail question of the week which is this, what's the most important issue for you in this year's midterm election. Send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org. You should also visit our show page at cnn.com/inthemoney.
On that note we thank you for joining us for this week's edition of our tidy little program. My thanks to Headline News correspondent Jennifer Westhoven, "Fortune" magazine editor at large Andy Serwer and cnnmoney.com managing editor Allen Wastler.
We hope to see you back here next week Saturdays at 1:00, Sundays at 3:00, that would be Eastern Standard Time. Set your clocks back on Saturday night. Until then, enjoy the rest of your week.
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