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New Global Economy Survival; Super Mom Samantha Bee; Fee-Based Debit Card

Aired February 19, 2011 - 09:30   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, HOST: What does the president's budget mean for your budget? The country's spending so much beyond its means that hard work may be only just beginning. It's often said a president's budget reflects his values, but make no mistake, how Washington spends your money affects your bottom line.

Jeanne Sahadi is a senior writer with CNNMoney and Rick Newman is chief business correspondent with "U.S. News & World Report."

Rick, let's talk about no more Pell grants for summer school. No more tuition or interest subsidies for many of those post graduate student who is are getting some free money from the government to defer their interest payments. Are these good things?

RICK NEWMAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: Well, they're going to become necessary things. I don't know if that makes them good. But, let's remember that these are President Obama's proposals, so this is one set of ideas for how we start nibbling away at the deficit. This is by no means everything it's going to take. But you're right, many of the things we think of as things that just enhance the middle class are becoming unaffordable. The Pell grant cut is one indication of that. so, they're talking about taking away a little part of the Pell grant, not the bulk of it, but something that affects summer school qualifications.

And I'm not sure it's going to happen this year. But I think people really need to be paying attention to these ideas because this is the kind of stuff that is going to have to happen in two, three or five years. I don't know when, but we're going to have to get serious about cutting these things.

ROMANS: Low-income heating oil help for a lot of people in the Northeast rely on this, that's also a program that's going to be trimmed. I mean, when you look at it, though, trimmed back to 2008 levels.

NEWMAN: Right, this is another big controversy. Again, this is an idea and these are just becoming things we can't afford anymore. My guess is that will not actually end up cutting because there are a lot of senators going to bat for that and protect it. But sooner or later, we're just going to have to come to terms with the things we have taken for granted are not be there in the future.

ROMANS: What a lot of budget hawks say is missing in this whole conversation of the big drivers, how to rein in the big drivers of our debt, Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security. Here's New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.


GOV CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: -- nobody's talking about. You're going to have to raise the retirement age for Social Security. Oh, I just said it and I'm still standing here. I did not vaporize into the carpeting, and I said it.


ROMANS: Any chance that, Jean, more people will start talking about the big things that have to be done?

JEANNE SAHADI, CNNMONEY.COM SENIOR WRITER: I think that we're moving in that direction. I think the fiscal commission started that conversation, I think it has been muted in the last few months because everyone's politically afraid in terms of the 2012 election year. But everybody kind of knows that's where we have to go. And in fact, the House GOP is going to be coming out with its 2012 budget proposal. It will be very different than the president's, almost certainly. And they are saying they will include entitlement reform. President Obama has said he is open to having these discussions, so there may be a lot of backdoor discussions about this.

ROMANS: So, we started this segment saying that the president's budget ultimately affects your family's budget. And you point out that people have to start, I mean, you can't -- we can't do anything about what's happening in Washington. We've got -- you've got to take care of ourselves, because things are going to change for the American middle class and for American people.

NEWMAN: Yes, we're getting back to self-sufficiency, I think, is a really important theme. And you know, they're playing small ball in Washington, right now. They're talking about cuts in discretionary spending, which is a tiny portion of the budget. Everybody who's dealing with this problem knows it's going to come to Medicare and Social Security and no one wants to talk about it.

Chris Christie may actually end up vaporized as a politician if he ever really pushed through things like that. But of course, he doesn't control Medicare and Social Security, that's a federal thing. But I think people need to basically start looking at their own budget. I mean, there was one estimate by a budget cutting panel that said if these proposals went through after tax income on most people on average would fall by about 4.3 percent.

ROMANS: Wow, 4.3 percent.

NEWMAN: I think a smart thing to do is look at your budget, say, sooner or later -- what happens if my after-tax income goes down by five percent, let's say, what changes to I need to make? And start thinking about those changes now. It's going to be things like start being a little more responsible for how much health care you consume. Find ways to just cut back on that a little bit. Other things, plan for your own retirement a little bit better, save more money, create a cushion so you're not crushed when these things happen. ROMANS: Jeanne, the president said that he'd like to cut his own -- he's like to raise his own taxes, he'd like to, you know, hurt himself -- people who make $2five0,000 a year, he says, like me, the president says, would have to eat a little bit more -- to pay more in terms of their mortgage interest deduction, in terms of charitable donations. I mean, real estate industry was immediately coming out of that.

SAHADI: Sure, well, this is -- he made a proposal to cap itemized deductions for people making more than $2five0,000. That proposal was made twice before, it went nowhere twice before. The difference this year is he's saying, look, I want to use that money that we raise from capping the deduction to pay for protecting the middle class from the AMT, which a very expensive thing to do which --


ROMANS: Alternative Minimum Tax that all of you people out there, you've heard people complaining about it, if it hasn't hit you, yourself.

SAHADI: It's very expensive. It's 70 to $80 billion a year and we don't pay for it, normally. That adds to our deficit. So, the context in which he is proposing it now changes, we are more deficit conscious, so maybe it has a little bit more leg, but the truth is if we do tax reform, which is really what people should be talking about instead of cherry picking, total tax reform may make this a moot point altogether.

ROMANS: Jeanne Sahadi, Rick Newman, thanks guys.

How many times have you heard the advice that you need to re- invent yourself to survive in the new global economy? Stay positive to get a job, find what you love. Forget the self-help blather. This isn't about wishing your way to the right career. The smart things you have to do now to change course to compete and to survive.


ROMANS: A stunning new report from the Government Accountability Office finds we spend billions of dollars on retraining programs that are redundant and overlapping with no way of really knowing if they even work. At the same time, you're told to retrain and retool for this new, global, competitive job market. That means you're on your own.

Pamela Mitchell knows a thing or two about a career makeover and reinvention. She is the author of "The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention."

It is so nice to meet you. Thank you for coming on the program, this morning. You know, if I had a dollar for every time someone told me that you need to have a positive attitude to try to go out there and get a job. There are a sea of people without a job. How do you go beyond the self-help headlines and really tell people how to reinvent themselves? PAMELA MITCHELL, AUTHOR: Here's the thing, Christine, you know, there's no job security anymore outside yourself and I think that's the lesson of this whole new economy. People are looking for that safe industry or they're looking for that safe company. Doesn't exist anymore. The new form of job security is really about knowing your skills and talents and how they can be applied according to what's going on in the market trend. So really that's how you're going to have to look at finding a job in this new economy is doing an assessment of your skills and talents, seeing where the market's headed, and saying how do I repurpose what I have to offer according to where the market's going?

ROMANS: So for example, if you're a very good manager of people and you're very good of keeping track of budgets and the bottom line and you know your personal goal every year to shave two percent off your costs, then you need figure out how to translate that into an area of the economy that's growing. It can be very difficult because you're trying to balance happiness and success, and then a fish out of water someplace else and trying to get in. How do you have the confines to do that?

MITCHELL: Well, here's the thing, I think, also you got to think about, because, you know, so many times we make it all about our job, but what we really forget is that the key to our job is to deliver this life we want, so finding that happiness is really about the intersection of the two. And what you want to do is you want to take a look at what kind of things you want in your lifestyle and then also look at what kind of industries have an application for your skills and talents. If you're a good manager and shave two percent off of your costs, where can that be used in a place that you find interesting and engaging enough and it also delivers the lifestyle that you want, that's the intersection that you're looking to find.

ROMANS: All right, Pamela, stick with me. I mean, you're an author, you are also, were very successful in corporate America. I want to introduce you to a baby boomer named Glenn Grossman, he was laid off in his mid-five0s, he couldn't find a job he wanted or a job that wanted him, so after a long search, he started his own business, Dinosaur Securities. Dinosaur Securities, pun intended. Now, he's the one doing the hiring, bringing in the best workers, regardless of age.


GLENN GROSSMAN, DINOSAUR SECURITIES: These banks are very big banks.

I wasn't prepared to work for anyone else, I wanted my own thing. I had a lot of responsibility before, and I still wanted to have that. We started Dinosaur, and it was a struggle, but eventually started to get a rhythm and getting there.

We have 20s, 30s, 40s, five0s, 60s and 70s, and hopefully we'll have a couple of octogenarians, soon, because the 70-year-old guys, they come to work early, they work hard, they're enthusiastic and they have about as good of a work ethic as anybody. And they're excited about new developments in the market.

If somebody wants an opportunity and they're ready to do it, why not. And you find these people have experience. They're fascinating people, I mean, you start finding out who you know in common and what they've done.

Self-starter, that's the most important thing, ability to work with other people, can they work outside an environment where things are handed to you? One of the things we like best, us older guys, is taking someone who's in their 20s, just out of school, and teaching them everything. And I love teaching.

It's not about age, it's about working. And just forget about, you know, gender, age, anything like that. Just think of it as a black box, you can't see who's on the other side and are they doing what they want to do? If I had to do it all over again, I'd have to have my head examined, but don't regret it right now and I'm scared all the time. I mean, I'm terrified all the time, but I'm also thrilled about, you know, what we've managed to accomplish.


ROMANS: Wow, Pamela, Glenn, you know, he says look, he was pushed out, he jumped out with no plan, whatsoever. For most people, it's important to have a plan before you make the move, so you're not so terrified all the time, right?

MITCHELL: Exactly, exactly. You want to have that plan. Now, knowing that hey, that plan can change, but at least if you have a framework, there's a certain sense of security and a certain sense of direction that you get, as well.

ROMANS: You know, he has so many good pieces of advice about -- he said he was a suit, he was a suit and finds all these people out there who are suits who have been squeezed out of corporate America who are looking for the job they had and not trying to reinvent for the jobs that are there. He also says, and other people also say there's this euphemism, you know, I'm overqualified. Overqualified can mean overpaid, overqualified can also mean you're trying to recreate something that was in the past. How do you recreate for the future?

MITCHELL: Well, that's the thing. I mean, don't try to look back and say I want to do what I did. Look forward and see what's happening out there and how can those skills be used in a new way? It's really about looking ahead and seeing what the trend is and then saying what kind of application can they use in terms of all of this experience? And that's what I love about what Glenn is doing, because he really identified a niche. He said there are lots of people out here that are still vibrant, that have something to contribute, that have something to give back and I'm going to create a mechanism for them doing that. That's exactly what reinvention's all about.

ROMANS: All right, Pamela Mitchell, the founder and the CEO of the Reinvention Institute, coming to us from Miami. Thank you so much. We hope to talk to you again very soon. MITCHELL: All right, thanks, Christine.

ROMANS: All right, my next guest uses her skills every day at the office. Her skills include brutal honesty, killer sarcasm, and making fun of people like me. "Daily Show" correspondent Samantha Bee is next.


ROMANS: My next guest is the ultimate working mom. You know Samantha Bee from "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," she's also the author of "I Know I Am, But What You?"

Welcome to the program.

SAMANTHA BEE, AUTHOR: Thank you so much for having me.

ROMANS: So listen, you have three kids under the age five, five and under.

BEE: Yes, I do.

ROMANS: So, what's comedy gold? Where do you mine for comedy gold? Toddlers, cable news pundits or career politicians, which give you the best material?

BEE: The best material comes -- it really does come from -- I laugh the hardest at my children. I mean, there's a lot of funny stuff going on in the world, but the funniest stuff is the most pleasing stuff that goes on at home, definitely.

ROMANS: Three under five is pretty crazy. I have three under five, too.

BEE: It's pretty crazy. I think you might be the ultimate working mom.

ROMANS: And you wrote this book at the same time, which is crazy.

BEE: It is crazy. But, you know, once the wheels are off the bus and the bus is on fire and the bus is falling off a cliff, you might as well go for it, so why not write a book right in the middle of all that.

ROMANS: And new babies sleep an awful lot.

BEE: Oh, they sleep beautifully. I mean, don't your children sleep? I mean, they're amazing.

ROMANS: No, I just don't sleep.

So many of the critics of this book, they kept likening you to David Sedaris. The very dry, rye David Sedaris. I mean --

BEE: I'm more like Jesus, honestly. If I had to pick, I'd probably pick Jesus.

ROMANS: In the book you talk about your childhood crush --

BEE: That's a lot of little girl fantasy life to marry Jesus. It's not normal. It's not good, but it is --

ROMANS: I did not have that fantasy.

BEE: You did not? OK, well then, it was just me.

ROMANS: You did marry Jason Jones who is somebody you work with. You must work at a pretty child-family-friendly. What's it like working at "The Daily Show?"

BEE: We do. It's a great place to work. And they've been tolerant of our desire to repopulation the earth with Canadian babies. They really are just wonderful about it.

You know, we don't really bring our children to work or anything like that, it's not insane -- obviously they'll be correspondents in the future. But they're very tolerant of our needs. And we have needs, believe me.

ROMANS: Let me ask you about you about your job. You say you're a correspondent and you are, you're also a comedian. Is your job to make people laugh, is to make people think, or is it both?

BEE: I only try to make people laugh. I can't be bothered with making people think. Others can take that on.

ROMANS: Some people watch "The Daily Show," and a lot of young people are forming their political opinions and they're taking, you know, taking their news judgment from "The Daily Show." That's kind of a responsibility.

BEE: It's a wonderful place to come for a cathartic moment, but ultimately probably, you know, should be getting your news elsewhere if you want to find our jokes funny, right?.

ROMANS: Samantha bee is not a hard news girl, she's telling you right now.

BEE: I'm a soft sell, yes.

ROMANS: So how do you, I mean, this is a really cliche question, but I'm going to ask you anyway, how do you manage it all? (INAUDIBLE), book, husband who obviously adores you.

BEE: Oh, it's that obvious. You know, it's true. I have no idea. I don't remember what I ate for breakfast this morning. I don't -- you know, I take a lot of pictures because I know that 10 years from now I won't remember a thing about it and I want to be able to see it all again so that when I have time I can re-enjoy it. It's incredibly pleasurable, but I don't know exactly know how it works.

ROMANS: So life is good. BEE: It's great. Chaotic, good, amazing.

ROMANS: What do you think people who don't have three little kids under five -- what about this period of your life, I mean do you think you will ever be this productive. I mean, three kids under five is insane and you're working the big job.

BEE: No, no, no, I'll never be as productive as I am right now. And honestly, I can't remember, I don't know if you can remember, I have no idea what I did before I had children in my life.

ROMANS: I could have learned 18 languages.

BEE: I could have gone around the world 60 times. I could have invented a new language, really. And now I can't do anything. Now I am Cheerios in my hair, as I'm speaking to you I probably have some kind of Fruity Pebbles back here, all tangled up.

ROMANS: You guys must watch an awful lot of cable news tape. I personally have been the butt of few, you know, funny little montages.

BEE: Everyone's watching us right now. Hi, everyone at work.

ROMANS: And we have nothing to pull over you. All right, Samantha Bee, from "The Daily Show." The book is called "I know I am, but what are You" and it's a very, very good read.

BEE: Thank you so much.

ROMANS: All right, from "The Daily Show," to a hip-hoppin' media mogul, my candid chat one-on-one with the one and only Russell Simmons. Why he says banks, they just don't like the middle class.


ROMANS: Hip-hop mogul, Russell Simmons says banks simply don't like the middle class, so he sells the Rush Card, a prepaid debit card aimed at people shut out by the big banks. Now he scoffs at suggestions that this card is riddled with fees, fees to put money in, fees to take money out and even to check your balance.

I sat down with Russell to talk about that card, helping people be better with their money and about the inspiration for his new book, "Super Rich."


RUSSELL SIMMONS, HIP-HOP MOGUL: I wrote the book almost as a selfish experience, after having 20 year of studying yoga and all the scripture and all of these -- I think of yoga as the science for happiness. And this book, "Super Rich," is about taking control of your life and using your inner strength to make a difference.

ROMANS: You also in the book talk about thinking differently. Here on page 28 you talk about how there was a time in the '80s when prince "When Doves Cry" and Lionel Richie and these were the songs that were getting on the radio and that were getting the money and getting the attention and hip-hop was something that wasn't -- you had to think differently to push, push, push for the birth of hip-hop, didn't you? You had to think, I hate to say think outside of the box because that's so cliche, you call it being a "yogi businessman."

SIMMONS: A business yogi. I'm going to give you another example. When there were 60 million Americans who didn't have a chance to buy into the American dream, they couldn't get a bank account and so therefore, they would have to get their check, go to a check cashing place, pay a large sum, get online to pay their bills, maybe eight to 12 hours a week, and they couldn't rent any services over the internet or rent a hotel room or a car, I created something that was totally unique. And it was our Rush Card. And the Unirush Company has gone on to become a full financial service company. It's so much cheaper for many middle class Americans and people are migrating from banks to use our Unirush financial services. We build credit --

ROMANS: But why are they doing that? Because you do have fees on there and people like Ryan Mack --

SIMMONS: I want to give you JPMorgan's most recent research, that the average Unirush account, which again wires money, card-to- card transfers, it builds credit, it give us free health care discount cards, it gives you budgeting services and most important thing, I guess, you get from a bank, if you're part of a process, you build credit, we do that very, very well. And the average fee for a year is about $210. And why is that relevant? Because the average fee for middle class Americans to run a free bank account is about $440.

ROMANS: And one of the things you say in the book is don't get yourself behind something that you don't love. If you don't love it, you don't support it. You clearly, clearly support this --

SIMMONS: I thought it was a great card. I mean, even the Kardashian card --

ROMANS: I know, they get a lot of grief about that.

SIMMONS: A lot of grief about it, but I think it's easy to criticize. You know, the celebrity card, maybe people wanted the card or the account and then maybe wouldn't use it. So they made them pay up front -- but when they paid up front, and I don't want to defend the card because I don't know what hidden fees are there, the litigation is about. I'm sure there are some and maybe some that they were not aware of. But just on the surface, the Kim Kardashian Card, for a lot of middle class Americans -- certainly for someone who doesn't have a credit card at all, or even a bank account -- was a good deal.

ROMANS: You think so?

SIMMONS: Our deal may be way better, but the deal, you know, if you compare it to a bank that doesn't want -- because the banks don't like the middle class. ROMANS: You don't think so.

SIMMONS: No. Not unless they have a big account.

ROMANS: That's why they're going to charge you --

SIMMONS: If you ever checked a check and you're at a bank, they don't want you. They'd much prefer -- unless you're going to bounce a lot of checks, other than that, it's a loss. The technology that we have is much cheaper to operate than the brick and mortar system that they have. And people are migrating from the banks to my business by the hundreds of thousands.

ROMANS: So you're feeling --

SIMMONS: Yes. So the criticism is from people who just don't know any better.

ROMANS: Let's just close it out with -- have I missed an essence, a kernel from this book that we can close with?

SIMMONS: Money is a fringe benefit. The book is about happiness, and the book is one that I think will improve anyone's life who reads it or reviews say so. I'm very excited about what contribution it'll make to a lot of people's lives and that's about all I can say. I really do believe that I've got here a guide to help people have it all.


ROMANS: You heard me tell Russell Simmons about criticism from Ryan Mack, a frequent guest on this program who says the Rush card is a bad move for any consumer. These two men could not disagree more. Russell Simmons says he's helping people the banks won't. Ryan Mack says Russell Simmons isn't helping anyone, but rather preying on them. We've invited them both on the show next week to settle it.

And we hope you'll join us for that, same time same place next Saturday morning. Back now to CNN SATURDAY for a check of the latest headlines, right now.