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YOUR MONEY

Change Has Come to Washington, But Will It Mean Change For Our Economy?; How Obama's First 100 Days Could Define His Presidency; What Is Obama's Administration Going to Do for Health Insurance and Health Care?

Aired January 24, 2009 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ALI VELSHI, CNN HOST: Welcome to YOUR MONEY. I'm Ali Velshi.

Changes come to Washington this week, but it will mean change for our economy? In his inaugural address, President Obama declares that in the face of serious challenges, Americans have chosen hope over fear, but was Wall Street listening?

That same day, the Dow Industrial Average dropped 332 points. Wall Street saw its lowest close since late November, the fear in the markets is back and it's a reminder that the economy is still in very serious trouble, 2.6 million of you lost your jobs in 2008 alone. More than 11 million Americans remain unemployed right now and our banks and automakers are struggling to survive. These are all problems that the new administration is going to have to tackle, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN HOST: Thanks, Ali. I'm Christine Romans.

President Obama's choice for Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told Congress just this week that fixing the financial system is going to be a long endeavor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIMOTHY GEITHNER, TREASURY SECRETARY: We're in the beginning of this process of repairing the system, not close to the end of that process and it is going to require much more substantial action on a very dramatic scale.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: More substantial action on a very dramatic scale. Traditionally, the first 100 days of a new presidency defines the course set by the new president. Make no mistake; a 100 days will not fix the banks or the economy. It is a historic challenge for this president and his team.

VELSHI: We are joined by a few guests. Frank Sesno, a CNN special correspondent is with us, Karen Tumulty is the national political correspondent for "Time." Thanks to both of you.

We should probably first address this first 100 days discussion because, you know, this is not a typical presidency. This is not a typical time. The clock started ticking prior to the day that Barack Obama was inaugurated. Karen, let's start with you. What's a sense of timing and urgency in terms of dealing with the economy that this president has to convey?

KAREN TUMULTY, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "TIME:" Well you know, the initial plan after the election that was Barack Obama was not going to get heavily involved with the economic mess until he took office. Essentially, there were arguments within the Obama camp that they should sort of let George Bush take ownership of this economy.

They realized pretty quickly that they would have to get a running start on it and at this point, you know, they were talking at one point about Congress having the stimulus package on his desk on day one. At this point it's looking like they'll be lucky to get it done by mid-February.

ROMANS: You know, Frank, one of the things that people keep telling me, economists keep telling me and sort of the people who just dig into these numbers and what's happening in the economy. They tell me with a chuckle, really, to talk about the first hundred days is really the old way of thinking and that we're in a whole new world here where 100 days, this president has such a big job here. This isn't something you will see any kind of difference in 100 days on any stretch of the imagination with the economy.

FRANK SESNO, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Imagine what the Dow will do in the next hundred days. Reset your watches. This is the first hundred minutes or hours. Throw it all out. This president is on a wartime footing only this is a domestic war front and things are happening so quickly in this fog of economic crisis that things are expected very quickly. There's already impatience on Capitol Hill.

Some Democrats saying they don't sense sufficient urgency in mediates of the Obama team. They think it will take way more than the $350 billion that was just uncorked a short time ago to address the issues of foreclosures and bailouts and that all that kind of business and they say if you're going to have more money you need to attach it, you need to appropriate it so get it us to now, within days. So there's absolutely no running room. No breathing room for this president. He's in the middle of it.

VELSHI: That's an interesting point. Karen, let's talk about that. We're not entirely sure how we're supposed to approach it. There is a traditional way of talking about tax cuts then stimulate the economy because businesses and people with a lot of money invest and create jobs and then there's a lot of people who say why not just take the $825 billion stimulus and divide it up amongst everybody and let it be used by Americans?

And about two-thirds of the proposed stimulus does talk about that and give money more directly to people through unemployment benefits and cobra and infrastructure jobs. We've never really seen the split in an approach to stimulus. What's your opinion of that?

TUMULTY: They really are trying to do everything all at once. There was a report out earlier this week from a congressional budget office pointing out that the appropriated funds, that portion of the stimulus package that, you know, less than half of that was really going to be spent even within the next two years.

So yes, the tax cuts can get out quickly. The aid to severely stress people and extended unemployment benefits can get out quickly, but they're trying to pursue longer term agendas under this package under the guise of stimulus because they know this one has to pass.

ROMANS: And you know, Frank, one thing that people keep saying, too, is it's got to work, frankly. A year ago we passed a $168 billion stimulus that was supposed to prevent something worse in the economy and it was a blip at best. At worst it didn't do anything, but to add to our deficits and add to what we have to pay eventually.

Do you think that there's kind of this unease among the American public? We were told a year ago we had to do this and spend this money or else and then we were told in the fall that we had to do this and spend this money or else. And now we are being told again that we have to do this and spend this money or else.

SESNO: Yeah. It is not just unease among the American public it's unease for among experts, if you wander around Washington as Karen and I do and when you guys are here in town, you talk to people very close to the process they'll pretty much acknowledge that they're on totally unknown territory from the size, the dimension and complexity of these issues are so rolled up and bundled up, that trying to untangle them one at a time simply isn't going to work but then the question is can you go at them all at once?

In just the newspaper this morning, you have Microsoft, you got Sony announcing more layoffs, and you have the tanking of the home construction industry. You've got people with their reduced investment portfolios, retirement funds and home equity. You have businesses that are contracting and you've got this huge financial crisis in that sector. They're trying to address all of this simultaneously with a brand new team. It's really almost overwhelming.

VELSHI: A bad move among investors. We're seeing numbers on the stocks markets that we haven't seen for a while. These layoffs, you know Microsoft is not a company that you would have expected mass layoffs from, more than 30,000 layoffs announced worldwide just this week, but there it's also this nonsense on Wall Street that's going on again.

We heard about John Thain, the CEO of Merrill Lynch, former CEO of the New York Stock Exchange. You remember the days when John Thain was a hero. He was the guy who came in ...

ROMANS: Mr. Fix It.

VELSHI: Remarkable, Karen. This is what plays into the hands of so many people who say I've had it with Wall Street. I don't trust them. There's no regulation and it doesn't help the situation right now that we continue to see bad behavior by the banks and their CEOs. TUMULTY: You know, I don't quite get this. I wonder that these guys have all these high-powered P.R. people. It was just like when the auto company executives flew in on their corporate jets to ask for a handout from Congress. It just really does seem like, you know, that even PR 101 would make you figure out these sorts of unnecessary mistakes.

ROMANS: What it says is this is how Wall Street works. This is how it has worked for a very, very long time, but the message out there is it can't work like this anymore. Guess what everybody you now your biggest investor is the American government. It is now Bank of America.

VELSHI: You should get three people to sign off before you buy a box of pencils these days.

All right. President Obama says to choose hope over fear, that's easier said than done when your job could be on the line. What the White House says they're going to do about that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back. We are joined now by Suzanne Malveaux, our CNN White House correspondent as well as our friends Frank Sesno, CNN special correspondent and Karen Tumulty, national political correspondent at "Time."

We've been talking about the first 100 days and just the incredible challenge. Just this week we found out that the president is going to have a daily economics briefing much like his daily intelligence briefing. I think it shows just how serious this crisis is.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, he's certainly trying to convey the message that it is very serious. He's meeting with Larry Summers, his top economic adviser as well as a host of others simply to sit down every day just like that intelligence briefing and talk about the threats to the economy. He's going to be taking a look at the unemployment numbers, the jobs numbers. He said recently this had is an unprecedented economic crisis and he said very frankly that the news is not good.

So he realizes that a, he's got to be engaged. He's got to be informed so that will happen on a daily basis, but the big challenge here, as you know is really trying to make that -- to get that economic stimulus package through Congress the $825 billion.

What we've been seeing him do just over the last couple of days and into the future is he's sitting down with the leadership of both the Republican and the Democrats in Congress to try to push this thing through. He has got a lot of nay sayers who are looking at this and saying where's the accountability? Where are these dollars going to go? So what he's said recently is that this is a three-legged stool.

One part of it obviously is all of the money that he wants to put out there and what he says will generate up to 4 million jobs, but the other part of it is accountability and reform to make sure that you don't have these companies that are renovating their offices with the bailout fund to make sure that you don't have the incredible waste that the government's report has come out and said. So he addresses all of these things.

VELSHI: You know, one of the things you just mentioned the companies. We were just talking about that a few moments ago. The report earlier this week that Merrill Lynch's CEO just before he resigned spent over a million dollars renovating his office. An office that he came into to try and save this company that had been writing down billions of dollars. Even if it isn't bailout funds ...

ROMANS: I think it was, by the way.

VELSHI: ...it was Merrill Lynch before it was Bank of America. It's still no more acceptable when people are losing their jobs across this country.

Frank, let's just talk about the idea of creating jobs. President Barack Obama suggests that this amount of money could create 4 million jobs. There are studies that have been done that tie spending on infrastructure to the creation of jobs, but ultimately we don't know how jobs are created effectively.

SESNO: We don't. A lot of people worry that a lot of these infrastructure jobs go into the deep, dark hole and the money gets lost in bureaucracy. It was very interesting. I was at a conversation among county executives a few weeks ago and they were actually meeting with Obama transition officials and the plea was get the states out of the way.

Get the money directly to us because they don't trust the states. They're worried that if the money goes to the governor there will be another level of politics and bureaucracy, and they say we have the bridges and libraries and projects ready to go.

There's also the whole competition factor and politics factor. How long is this going to take? It is why people argue convincingly that if you cut taxes and the money goes directly to consumers especially consumers at the lower end of economic ladder where they spend every dollar they've got that will stimulate the economy more rapidly than funneling into these infrastructure projects, which takes who knows how long to actually get under way.

ROMANS: Which are predominately male fields and there is this concern that on the campaign trail, Barack Obama had said many, many times that if his grand mother her work could have been valued the same as a man who knows what she could have been done. A lot of people would argue raising a man who became president.

TUMULTY: But that $400 million number that's more a political number than it is an economic number. It was Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff who insisted behind the scenes that if they wanted to sell this package they had to put a very tangible goal, they had to attach that to the package. So that people would understand it and could measure it. SESNO: If you really want to get things going one of the most controversial ideas out there that has been kicked around certainly by some conservative tax cutters is suspend the payroll taxes. Social Security tax for a year or two, that would benefit both workers and businesses because they both contribute on an on going basis and not a one-time hit where you get a tax refund and maybe you pay a bill off or you put it in the bank, but you actually have more money in your paycheck week after week after week. It's estimated something like $600 billion a year. That's a big hit.

VELSHI: That is a big hit. Ultimately, folks don't spend money if they think they'll lose their jobs. The fear of losing jobs seems to be haunting everybody, Frank.

SESNO: That is right, it's psychology right now. It's fear of losing jobs and fear of watching while your investments go away, you got a kid going to college, a parent who is already retired or you're thinking about retiring. The wealth effect really matters here.

ROMANS: Suzanne, there you are at the White House, there is a new team coming in and already they have to sort of say how dire the situation is and then they have to make these big promises so they can sell the plan I mean it must be an incredible tight rope, because they almost have to under promise in a way, but who knows what they can deliver.

MALVEAUX: What President Obama is asking the American people to do is to be patient here. He's not a patient person. He is somebody who wants to make this thing happen right away, but they were trying to lower expectations here, and I thought it was interesting when you talked about the jobs figure there.

We hear President Obama say 3 million to 4 million jobs that is a huge spread that is a huge difference. Three million to 4 million jobs there. I mean people are asking for some more details here. They're asking for specifics, deeper tax cuts and also the big question is whether or not can you spend that money fast enough to create jobs?

People want a quick fix here and they don't want to wait around for something that's kind of long term. So he has to give a sense of hope and optimism that this is something that ultimately people's lives will improve, they'll change, but he's tempering it with saying American people have to be patient and take a look at the long term.

ROMANS: If you're trying to create 3 to 4 million jobs save or create over years, you have to create 1.2 million just to keep up with new people entering. What they're supposing to just to stop the bleeding.

VELSHI: Right, create the 1.2 million jobs to deal with what we lost. Like Suzanne says the spread between 3 or 4 million jobs we throw around billions now and trillions in a way that we never did before.

Good to talk to you, Suzanne. Thank you so much. Suzanne Malveaux, Frank Sesno and Karen Tumulty, a pleasure to speak to all three of you.

ROMANS: All right. The new administration promising big changes for health care and what that means for you and your family.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: Finding affordable health care is one of the biggest financial burdens so many families face and by the way it leaves so many people into personal bankruptcy. President Obama promised to change our medical system on the campaign trail. So what is his administration going to do for your health insurance and your health expenditures in the years to come?

ROMANS: OK, so it's time now for family money. Andy Rubin is the vice president of Critical Affairs at NYU's Langone Medical Center and host of "Health Care Connect."

VELSHI: So you get a lot of calls and you hear from a lot of people.

ANDY RUBIN, NYU LANGONE MEDICAL CENTER: I hear from a lot of people.

VELSHI: Who are confused about the medical system today and how it is and what will happen. Let's talk with the latter. In all of this talk about stimulus I would imagine that the amount of money we spend on the economic system so far on this financial crisis could have solved our health care problems, but what's going to happen to our health care?

ROMANS: That's a good point.

VELSHI: What's happening to our health care system?

RUBIN: There is a lot of interesting proposals out on the table right now. The question is what gets implemented? Health care is very complex. Lots of solutions and lots of problems and it is all solved by money and the question is how much money is really going to be available to solve these problems.

I think you're going to see some quick changes, there have been local Massachusetts, for example, they implemented some form of universal health care. It's been viewed by the citizens in Massachusetts as wildly successful. They've dropped their uninsured numbers down. On the flipside, there are shortages of doctors and state budget for health care has gone way up, but I think you're going to see some national platform which really resembles the Massachusetts plan.

ROMANS: So the Obama administration pushes this through and uses it as part of the stimulus and part of the effort to patch up the economy saying if we can modernize medical technology, if we can get costs down and we can get people insured and covered then we can help the economy.

RUBIN: Absolutely. There is two components to that, there is a short-term fix and there's a longer term fix. The short-term fix is people are losing their jobs and the way you stimulate the economy and keep people with health care is you increase the funding to the states to provide Medicaid coverage and that's a quasi state federal programs that take care of the lower income people. That will have a direct impact and that can be done fairly quickly and it will put money into the economy and it will keep the hospitals running and keep the doctors busy.

The longer term, the longer term requires a broader solution which is making sure all of the uninsured Americans; about 40 million, 50 million people have insurance. So you've got to create some mechanism some form of a national insurance plan, whether it be private, public, a combination of the two where you're tapping in to all these people who don't have insurance to create a larger pool of people to pay premiums.

So the insurers then offer more coverage to a broader base of people including the people who are currently uninsurable and people with pre-existing conditions and people who are afraid to switch to a different health care plan because they're afraid their condition may not be covered.

VELSHI: Let's talk about one of the specific proposals in the stimulus package. The recovery package and that's the automation of medical records, that doesn't seem to resonate with people but in fact it's a very, very important task. A lot of hospitals have undergone this in the last several years.

ROMANS: I love this subject.

VELSHI: It's fascinating that records aren't automated and doctors can't see what's going on in the pharmacy and they can't see what's going on in radiology. There's a lot of room to save money with the automation of medical records.

ROMANS: A lot of money. And preventing errors that are preventable completely preventable. There's a lot of really great stuff that's been done on this but for some reason it hasn't taken hold.

RUBIN: Just like everything else in healthcare, nothing is easy. To save money and to improve quality you have to invest a lot of money. Without getting into specifics, if an urban medical center wants to invest in an electronic medical center, you could be talking 100, $180 million to do this. Most of these medical centers are either losing money or barely getting by.

VELSHI: There's a good long-term saving ...

RUBIN: There is a good long term saving and the Obama administration is talking a lot about automating records and clinical outcomes to save money, but to do that you're going to have to invest money in the system, but that also is a stimulus.

VELSHI: It's not a matter of scanning records, it's every hospital room on either net and everyone is connected on the handheld units.

RUBIN: I'm working on this right now at NYU Medical Center and it's a massive, massive project.

ROMANS: Let me ask you quickly, you've lost your job and you've lost health care with your job. Quickly, what do you do?

RUBIN: The first thing you want to do and I tell any friend who has lost their job, if you can, and I don't want to sound flip, hold on to your insurance. Although it's easier to say that than do that. So there are a couple of things you can do. One is you have Cobra, but only nine percent of people on average can afford Cobra. It's four to six times more than you pay. It's the same insurance, but it's four to six times more because your employer is not paying the premium anymore.

So it is expensive. If you can maintain Cobra, maintain it. If you want to just insure yourself you may want to drop your whole family off. Again hard choices. You can look at Medicaid programs or if you're currently healthy and you're not worried about pre-existing conditions you can go out into a marketplace and buy a high deductible plan just to make sure you have catastrophic coverage, but don't give it up if you can avoid it.

VELSHI: Andrew Rubin, vice president of Clinical Affairs and the host of Sirius XM Dr. Radio.

ROMANS: All right. We're going to take a look at where you stand right now. What does 2009 mean? Will the recession end in the year or do we need to worry about something much worse?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta.

Now in the news: President Barack Obama predicts a worsening economic picture if lawmakers don't embrace an $825 billion stimulus package. After making his first weekly radio address this morning as president, Mr. Obama met with his economic team.

A roof collapse takes the lives of four boys in a suburb of Barcelona, Spain. Hurricane-force winds forced the children inside a sports complex. The metal roof and part of the building cement siding then collapsed. Nine other people were injured.

The suspect in a horrific stabbing rampage in Dencermonoe, Belgium was charged today with three counts of murder. Two babies and one adult were killed in yesterday's nursery school attack. A dozen other people, most of them children, were wounded.

Does the Obama family in the White House change the perception of African-American families? That and much more at the top of the hour. Now back to YOUR MONEY with Ali Velshi and Christine Romans.

ROMANS: We are now almost 14 months into an official recession. The Obama administration wants a huge stimulus plan to prevent something even worse and stop the bleeding in the jobs market. Even before he took office, we have committed more than $7 trillion.

VELSHI: I don't know if most people realize it's that much.

ROMANS: The bailout is $7 trillion.

VELSHI: A lot of people are asking whether or not it's working. A few economists and analysts are starting to use the dreaded "d" word as in depression. University of Maryland economist Peter Morici declared that the economy is already in a depression and he's here to tell us why and we are also joined by economist Stephen Leeb. Author of the new book "Game over, how you can prosper in a shattered economy." Thank you to both of you.

Peter, let's start with you. You're the news maker on this one. You have been one of a very small group of people who have said we are in a depression. Explain that.

PETER MORICI, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: Well, the whole mark of a depression is something structural that causes the economy to shrink permanently. For example, Microsoft yesterday declared when they announced layoffs that they felt the economy had shifted down to a lower level of activity for sort of an indefinite period of time.

What is causing that is the break down of the banks with all this money we are putting in isn't fixing and the structural trade deficit we have which has so much demand for goods and services abroad and all of the Chinese goods. Unless we fix the banks and the trade deficits on oil with China, we're not going to get out of this mess. Once it spreads, we'll fall back in.

ROMANS: Stephen, you don't think it's the hallmark or a traditional depression. Explain to us why you think this might be semantics.

STEPHEN LEEB, AUTHOR, "GAME OVER:" I agree with Peter on a lot of what he's saying, but no, I don't think so. Typically it takes about six months for stimulation to affect the economy. Back in August we were actually talking about raising interest rates. That was the debate in the Fed. Fight inflation. It's unbelievable and by September, we realized, hey, we're not in Kansas and that's when we started pulling out all of the stops.

We're only about three or four months into this stimulation activity and I suspect that we're already seeing some evidence. You've seen a pickup in energy demand, for example. You've seen mortgage applications start jumping. You've seen commodity prices start picking up. I would guess in the next two or three months we actually will see real clear evidence that we're at a bottom. If I can just comment on Peter's point about the structural problems.

ROMANS: Sure.

LEEB: The trade deficit is totally a problem, but there's a very easy way out of that. We can actually invest massive amounts of money in alternative energy infrastructure. Create a new industry and basically solve a lot of our trade deficit because we won't be importing so much oil.

VELSHI: This -- Boone Pickens made that argument.

LEEB: Right and I think Boone was absolutely right. It's two birds with one stone and much better than what we did in the new deal. The new deal gave us the Hoover Dam and this is a whole new industry our children can prosper with.

VELSHI: That's an interesting point, Peter. Barack Obama had made this point prior to the election that he thinks the last 15 to 20 years of this economy was driven by cheap credit and the next 15 or 20 years can be driven by alternative energy. What do you think that this Obama administration has to do to get us out of a nasty recession or a depression?

MORICI: Well first of all, they have to fix the banks; we can talk about that on the energy front. A lot of what they're suggesting will cause to us to use domestic energy sources more efficiently and substitute some of the natural coal and our natural gas for conservation in the generation of electricity. The real problem on energy is imports of oil for automobiles. We're not going to get to electric cars right away; they are going to transition in slowly. We need incentives to get people to trade in their Tahoe's for something more reasonable like a Traverse.

They don't have to go down to a tiny little car, but to increase the gas mileage on 50 percent with most of the fleet. With regard to China we need to do something fundamental about their currency. They won't evaluate it, so we need to tax conversions. The problem I see is that Obama is talking about things that will have bite in terms of energy, way out in time, he's not talking about trade and his economists and his new treasury secretary are talking about continuing the present policy with the banks.

ROMANS: Let me ask you quickly then. Let's have you wrap it up for us. We only have a few more minutes, but what do you make of all that?

LEEB: Well I think, a, we can do a lot with alternative energies and I we can create an industry and I think it can get working right away. Wind is probably the cheapest way of generating electricity. We need to work on the grid so that wind is usable. As far as the banks, there might be some form of nationalization regulation, and I hate that.

But on the other hand, if you look at AT&T as a model, a company, there once was a company called AT&T and they were long-term thinkers. They were the widows and orphans stock. They paid a dividend and they traded and they were heavily regulated and out of AT&T came such things as the transistor, probably the internet. So many Nobel Prize issues can't count them so regulating banks very strictly and strenuously ...

VELSHI: It doesn't mean ... LEEB: No, it doesn't and it is not inconsistent with capitalism.

VELSHI: Good to talk to you both. We should let our viewers know these are two of the smartest guys around when it comes to economic thinking.

Peter, it is always a pleasure to have you. We'll keep talking to you about this and Stephen, you've written a book about how you can prosper in a shattered economy and we love your writing so I hope our viewers will enjoy that.

ROMANS: All right. The word change has been thrown around a lot. But you know change can be a good thing or a bad thing.

VELSHI: Will President Obama's version be a good or bad thing for your money?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: Well, the country is now in the hands of President Obama and a Democratic Congress. They are not the only ones proposing big changes, but is change necessarily a good thing?

ROMANS: It depends on who you ask. We're putting that question to both the left and the right. Amy Holmes is an independent conservative and a CNN contributor, Mark Green is president of Air American, editor of the new book "Change for America."

Mark, let me start with you, change. The changes that you're seeing in Washington, do you like them? And you have some changes of your own that you think should go further.

MARK GREEN, AUTHOR, "CHANGE FOR AMERICA:" Beyond the big-ticket pending items on stimulus and the low-carbon economy and education reform since information is the new goal, in change for America we have 67 of the best progressive scholars we could find to come up with big ideas and there were three, but they're all based on the middle class is being shafted and screwed. They feel like they're running faster after an accelerating bus called prosperity and they can't catch up.

So one, there are some new and some old. One old is real tax reform for the middle class. And I don't mean tax relief for the rich. Warren Buffet said there is a class war, my class started it and we're winning. Instead of eliminating the estate tax, so-called Harris Hilton's billionaire's tax you have to tax people who can afford it to pay for everything that we need. Real tax reform should be and will be, I think, on the agenda. Second and third is a national transportation policy. Transportation, service transportation.

ROMANS: You'd like to see a light rail system with so much of our economy is energy, is fuel used for cars and trains and planes.

GREEN: Seventy percent of our energy is transportation and we've emphasized highways over light rail which is more energy efficient and less environmentally corrupting and more economically smart. This is a circulatory system of our economy. We haven't discussed it much and finally, everyone's trying to get new jobs but millions are now under or unemployed and we need wage loss insurance.

ROMANS: Explain what that is because I think this is interesting. Explain what that is exactly.

GREEN: OK. Let's say you're earning $100,000, not bad. If your income goes down two-thirds because something happens in your workplace, that is so jarring. Trade helps America, but there are some losers.

ROMANS: Right.

GREEN: So the federal government should help just as it does with health insurance, wage loss insurance so if wages collapse you're OK for a couple of years. We can't all subsidize everybody.

ROMANS: But it cushions that transition and we keep hearing about how the transition with losers and the transition period.

VELSHI: Mark says tax reform, he says transportation so that we can consume less in terms of energy and wage loss insurance. What are your priorities for this administration?

AMY HOLMES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, my priority would be looking at that stimulus package and cutting a whole lot of that fat out. We just knot a report this week from the CBO that less than half of the $8.25 billion that's in this program which, by the way, was not discussed with Republicans so there goes the air of bipartisanship, less than half of that will be spent to the end of 2011. Is this really a stimulus package or this the same old same old?

We were told about hope and change and yet we have Democrats, Nancy Pelosi famously, she just said this week, look, we won the election, we get to write the rules and we get to pass the legislation, that's not bipartisan and it is not stimulus. In looking at some of the things that Mark was discussing I certainly see where he's coming from and let's talk about light rail, for example.

I'm from Seattle. That's my hometown. They're building a light rail system there, for them to even expand from where it is now which is fairly modest it will be $22.8 billion. That's for one city and even reports in Seattle show that in terms of Co2 emissions, it would only go down by .7 percent. You could actually buy carbon Co2 offsets for $2.5 billion, rather and get the same bang for your buck instead of this huge program that may not even really serve the people.

I think we don't need centralized government planning for some of these local issues to find out what -- how are cities growing and what plans do they have? Do they want more suburban sprawl? Do they want more city concentration, high-density living? These are things local communities should be trying to make those decisions about and how to spend those tax dollars wisely.

ROMANS: What do you think, Mark? GREEN: Centralized government planning is such 1950s rhetoric. Bush lost 2.5 million jobs this year in the supply side, trickledown cut taxes for the rich has completely failed and left us in a near depression. So the Obama administration will try different things. Mass transit is less polluting and more efficient, period. It may take some investment in the start.

The internal inferno engine will be a thing of the past so long as we have hybrid plug-in electric stations and not just gas stations. So I understand where Amy is coming from, but that's the same old Republican rhetoric that got into the problem. Obama won by triple the margin of Bush; he's going to try and should try new things.

ROMANS: There's a lot of money to be spent and a lot of people with opinions on how it should be spent. Amy thanks so much for joining us. Mark Green thank you so much to both of you.

VELSHI: You know these themes about the amount of money that would have to be spent to automate medical records.

ROMANS: Medicate auto records.

VELSHI: Medicate auto records.

ROMANS: That's a whole other issue.

VELSHI: There are a lot of things that will save us money and or consume less over the long term but it will require some spending now and that's what this very important debate is all about.

ROMANS: There are blue collar jobs and there are white collar jobs.

VELSHI: And speaking about greening the economy.

ROMANS: That is right, we're going to tell you about green collar jobs and how to find them, what they pay and if they're hiring.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: OK. Enough. Enough with all the horrible news about jobs. Our friends at Fortune have found a whole bunch of companies hiring and hiring big. Sisco, right now has 500 job openings, Edward Jones needs 1,000 workers, Whole Foods is hiring, go right downstairs and get a job at Whole Foods.

VELSHI: Or "Fortune" Magazine as the best 100 companies to work for are hiring. Who's on the list? Well our senior correspondent Allan Chernoff tells us. Allan, which company takes the top?

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Ali, Christine, the top honor goes to Net App, the computer data storage company that used to be called Network Appliance. It has taken the number one position away from Google which has fallen to number four.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CHERNOFF (voice over): Computer data and storage company Net App gives employees like these five paid days a year to do volunteer work, provides adoption assistance and other generous benefits and promotes an inclusive, open culture that earned it the top spot on Fortune's 100 best companies to work for. Treating employees well says President Tom Georgens is at least as important as paying them well.

TOM GEORGENS, PRESIDENT, NET APP: Pay matters. I'm not going to suggest otherwise, but I think that pay is more of a dissatisfier than a satisfier. I think if you have a bad work environment where people don't enjoy their colleagues and people don't enjoy how they're treated, I don't think you can pay them enough.

CHERNOFF: Brokerage firm Edward Jones is number two on the list followed by Boston Consulting and Google which had been number one for the past two years. Google has had to cut back on some of its legendary perks like a free ski trip for all employees. Fortunately, there are a lot of great places to work, Google told CNN. To be considered for the list companies have to nominate themselves and then permit 400 employees picked at random to provide detailed critiques of their employer.

LEE CLIFFORD, "FORTUNE:" We ask very honest questions. What is the atmosphere like? What is your boss like? What is the mood around the office? And if you really want to get a feel for when it's like to get to work at this place.

CHERNOFF: Among the top companies Four Seasons has one of the most diverse workforces. Build a Bear work shop is one of the top companies for female workers and Aflac is one of only six on the list that has never had layoffs. In today's tough economy, many of the top companies like Starbucks, Microsoft and Zappos.com are cutting employees.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHERNOFF: But 20 of the companies are hiring now. The complete list is right here on the Fortune pages of CNNMONEY.com including the exact jobs those 20 companies are looking to fill. Ali. Christine.

ROMANS: Companies hiring and most of the companies are hiring more than 350 people. So they're hiring a lot of jobs. We were just joking. Green is the new black?

VELSHI: Green is the new black. Green-collar jobs, they might be the future and they may be there is a way out of this financial mess. The Obama White House has high hopes for a green revelation and this administration makes it sound like a good plan, but how is it going to create the jobs and how do you end up getting one for yourself?

ROMANS: Time for a view from the top. Matt Arnold is partner with PriceWaterhouseCoopers and founder of Sustainable Finance specializing in environmental policy and strategy. What is a green- collar job?

VELSHI: Theoretically, you have one. ROMANS: You are a green collar worker.

MATT ARNOLD, PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS: I used to be a tree hugger and now I'm a green collar worker. It's gotten more respectful. A green collar job is really any job where you're trying to make the place greener or cleaner.

So, imagine a construction worker who is building a wind turbine farm or recycling plant, a home builder is installing solar panels and energy efficiency systems in the home. A lawyer doing environmental law, a consultant doing environmental consulting. Any of us can have a green job. There are thousands of green jobs in all companies now. They're hard to count.

VELSHI: Right.

ROMANS: You know I actually know somebody who started their own business by going to -- people could hire them, small companies could hire them and they could walk through and show them how to save money and become green or maybe it costs to be green but saves longer term.

ARNOLD: Well that's the idea in homes. It costs a little more in the front end but the operating costs are lower. So there are 8.5 million is the number that we see -- counting these jobs is hard. What precisely is a green job?

VELSHI: Right.

ARNOLD: A lot of people are greening their jobs and they're not counted. But 8.5 million people, it's maybe 10 percent of the workforce we could think about having a green job.

ROMANS: Is it a good idea to green your job, go to your boss and say, I know how we can green -- is it a selling point in the office do you think?

ARNOLD: It's a selling point because it's about reducing cost in the office environment; it is also about motivating people. This is fun. It's meaningful. It's important. It's about more than a paycheck. So green jobs are good jobs.

VELSHI: OK. So where's the best place to go? We're dealing with a country with more than 7 percent unemployment with millions of people out of work, millions more going to be out of work and in many cases they are out of work in jobs that are not going to come back anytime soon. So if I'm excited about this green economy that this administration wants to promote, where would I look? What kind of things might I look at?

ARNOLD: The energy economy is really where all the jobs will be in a meaningful way. So if you look at the early stimulus packages, there's tons of support for energy efficiency and renewable. But, really, you can't reinvent yourself as something you're not.

I think the first thing you've got to do, if you're looking for a green job, is educate yourself about what the green issues are relative to your skill set. What do you bring to the table with your existing skill set that is a little bit different from what somebody else brings? Then network like hell. There are networks. They're tight. People know one another. I've been doing this for 20 years and it's a big network.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks so much, thanks for dropping by. Green collar jobs.

VELSHI: Where is my bailout?

ROMANS: I don't know. I've been wondering the same thing?

VELSHI: The stimulus plan could reach close to a trillion dollars. How much of that is going to me and to you and to you?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: Well, the federal government might be handing out hundreds of billions of dollars. Whether it is your paycheck, your house, even your commute, what share of that money is going to get to you, what share of it is really going to affect you?

ROMANS: We are talking about the stimulus here. In effect, it's your bailout. It's the bailout for the economy that might make it to you somehow. Poppy Harlow and Steve Hargreaves is from CNNMONEY.com are here to talk about that a little.

Poppy, you know I think it's so interesting because people keep talking about where's my bailout. But that's essentially what this big stimulus is supposed to be, a bail out that either gets you a job or gets some money in your paycheck.

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: Billions and billions proposed. Actually, something like what we saw last year, stimulus checks in some form of tax rebates, $144 billion in the house version.

VELSHI: Which I recall didn't really work.

HARLOW: It worked for about two minutes.

VELSHI: So there will be some portion of it that is money that goes to people and some part of it which is taxes. How does it affect people, let's say, in the education part of it?

STEVE HARGREAVES, CNNMONEY.COM: Well a lot of it's going directly in the form of aid to states. How this is going to show up, is you won't have your state taxes raised or you won't see the services cut at your school. There will be a big chunk that will go toward building schools.

ROMANS: It might be what you don't see in some of these cases. It might mean they're not going to lay off the crossing guard workers or they are going to be able to keep the gym open on the weekend, something like that, right?

VELSHI: When people say where's my bailout, there are a number of things in this package that might help you that don't come to you as a check.

HARLOW: But here's the thing. Of course, a lot of Republicans don't agree with the house version of the bill and they are speaking out. A lot of them say, good ideas, but the money is really allocated to really take effect in two, three, four years. What about the stimulus we need right now? They say it's too long term and nothing is really different and this administration says they're going to change things. A lot of them say we need the immediate effect.

VELSHI: The immediate tends to play towards the issue of jobs. On the jobs side talking about extending unemployment benefits and health care benefits and cobra benefits. That should stimulate the economy. We had a guest earlier who said that will keep people not paying more for health care and make them able to spend that money elsewhere.

HARGREAVES: And it will also provide a much needed safety net. In recession people lose their jobs and you need to strengthen those things.

ROMANS: $43 billion more for unemployment benefits, health care benefits and food stamp programs and we are also talking about the infrastructure jobs, we are talking about shovels in the ground programs. Also, internet infrastructure and school -- technology in schools and hospitals so infrastructure, a lot of different ideas.

HARLOW: It is wide reaching. It is not just new bridges for the ones that collapsed.

There's a lot of new bridges. Its light rails. Steve and I were talking about it before we came on the program. Maybe your town will have wi-fi or maybe a walk into the post office and see them putting new light bulbs in or redoing it. It may not be a check to your house although you may get that, too, but it is going to be things around your community.

ROMANS: I was asking economists about this idea that these are things that are long term projects and we need something right away. What the economists have been telling me is that we have a long term problem and we could have an economy that is weak for the foreseeable future. So the fact that we're talking about long term projects shows how deep the problem is.

VELSHI: The question is what is the immediate? The immediate is with a we need to feel but the long term may be what we need over the long term. It will be interesting to see how this pears out. The issue, as Poppy said, there's some Republican resistance to this. What will this bill look like in order to get everybody's support?

HARLOW: I don't think anything will get everybody's support. But in order to get the majority support, I think it needs to have a lot of concrete examples of what we're going to do for everyone out there who needs it in the next year. It has to be a little more specific. I think Republicans say, we know this will pass but we want some answers. HARGREAVES: You'll see more in the form of tax cuts and you probably will see more targeted programs. A lot of this infrastructure money, a lot of it, a big chunk, and $30 billion was just for road. Some people are upset about that. They're saying this is supposed to be -- this money is supposed to move us to the green economy.

VELSHI: It's a smaller amount but there's $10 billion for mass transit and a lot of other things in there.

ROMANS: It's going to be a fight. I mean, everyone is going to want something and everyone is going to think that something else works and it's going to be interesting. All right, Steve Hargreaves and Poppy Harlow thanks so much.

OK, make sure you join us here every week we are here talking about these sort of things. YOUR MONEY Saturdays at 1:00 p.m. Eastern, Sundays at 3:00 right here on CNN.

VELSHI: Stay with the CNNmoney team everyday for the latest news on YOUR MONEY and logon 24/7 to cnnmoney.com.

ROMANS: Have a great weekend, everybody.

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