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Jobs Battleground; OWS: Unclear Message?

Aired May 5, 2012 - 09:30   ET



RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: I'll be back with more of the big stories of the day at the top of the hour, but first, here is YOUR BOTTOM LINE.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, HOST: The key to winning this election: getting you a job.

Good morning, everyone. I'm Christine Romans.

It's a presidential race that comes down to the haves and have-nots. A president who until eight years ago still had student debt and his likely Republican rival who has no debt at all and millions in the bank. But which one is likely to guarantee you a job?

Joining us now to talk more about the politics is CNN's chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.

Good morning, Gloria.


ROMANS: All right. So, Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP, has a new video. He claims that President Obama, Gloria, broke his promises on jobs and the economy. He says median household income has declined by $4,300. The unemployment rate has been above 8 percent for a record- breaking 38 straight months. Nearly 23 million Americans are unemployed, underemployed or have stopped looking for work.

But the Obama campaign has its own video touting accomplishments on jobs.


AD NARRATOR: And over the last 25 months, 4.1 million new private sector jobs. And while there's still more to do, there's been real progress.


ROMANS: So, Gloria, the facts are both of those ads are correct.

BORGER: Right.

ROMANS: They're both right. But the man who better convinces voters -- BORGER: Right.

ROMANS: Is he the one who wins the election?

BORGER: I think it's true. I think you've got to convince voters that you're the person who can get us out of the mess we're in. One thing voters seem to agree on when you look at the polling, as I do every day, is that a majority of Americans in this country believe that things are going badly. When you compare President Obama to Mitt Romney on the economy, they're about at parity right now -- when you ask the question who's better able to get us out of this mess?

So it's clear that the opportunity for the Romney campaign right now is not on foreign policy. We've been hearing a lot of talk about Osama bin Laden and all the rest of it. But the opportunity right now for Mitt Romney is to convince people that he's got the competency and the business experience to get us out of the mess we're in.

ROMANS: And this is going to play differently in different battleground states. I want to show you the battleground states and how it's going to play out here.

Since President Obama stepped in the White House in January 2009, Gloria, as you know, six of the 15 swing states have seen a drop in their unemployment rates. They're the states highlighted in highlighter yellow here -- Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and Virginia. The jobless rate in New Hampshire is pretty much steady at 5.2 percent.

Let's focus on Michigan first here: 11.3 percent to 8.5 percent. The last GOP candidate to win Michigan was the elder Bush in '88. The economy there is still weak, but the unemployment rate has dropped there.

Now to Ohio, another really important state. The unemployment rate has dropped there as well. The past 11 elections, Buckeye voters correctly picked the next president. The jobs market improving in Ohio and the unemployment rate is below the national average overall.

Let's look at the states in orange because these tell the other story, the swing states where the unemployment rate has gone up since the president became president -- 109 delegates at state in these orange states here. The western states have had it the worst.

The unemployment rate in Nevada is some 12 percent. And Missouri, one of the states that serves as a proxy in the nation, that one has seen a big spike as well, 7.4 percent, more than two percentage points over the president's term. Twenty-nine delegates in Florida, that's another key one that might be a hard sell for Democrats.

My question for you, Gloria, is how much credit and how much blame to do voters put on the president for their state's unemployment rates?

BORGER: Well, you know, you're in charge. You're the president of the United States and you own the economy. ROMANS: You know, Michigan is a tough one as well because even when things are improving, they still -- people don't feel good about their circumstances.

BORGER: That's right. But don't forget, the president had the bailout, OK? And that helps him with voters. But when you look at the numbers in the state of Michigan, a majority of the voters there believe the economy is on the wrong track. A majority of Republican voters weren't in favor of the bailout anyway. And the president and Mitt Romney are kind of at parity. So, the Romney campaign, taking a look at Michigan, calls it a wild card state. So, they believe it's doable.

ROMANS: You know, the president is saying, "Forward," that's the theme of the campaign. And right now what you're hearing from the Romney camp is broken promises, right?

BORGER: Right, but --

ROMANS: So those are the two messages that I think define how you're going to take the numbers and decide what it means for you.

BORGER: Well, here's the interesting thing right now and this is the problem for the Obama campaign, which is that a majority of people like the president in this country. But only 50 percent or 49 percent approve of his policies. So they like him more than they think he's doing a good job. And that's where their problem is and that's Mitt Romney's opportunity.

ROMANS: Gloria Borger, as always, have a great weekend. Nice to chat with you.

BORGER: You too.

ROMANS: If you want a full breakdown of this and also where the jobs are in this week's jobs report, head over to show page,

Coming up: jobs -- a big part of Occupy Wall Street's frustration. But have they lost support amongst the very people they count on?

And later, is your son struggling at school? Are you worried about your teenage boy finding a job? Passionate advocate and mother Lisa Bloom joins us with a call to action for all parents.


ROMANS: The Occupy Wall Street movement shows that free speech and protests are alive and well in America, and not just limited to Tea Partiers. Occupy's successes are clear. It branded the concept of the 99 percent versus the 1 percent, the very rich against everyone else. Occupy successfully encouraged people to dump their banks and move to credit unions.

But lots of people in the 99 percent are now asking themselves six months on, does Occupy represent everyday Americans? What's the message? What's the end game? Are they now the 1 percent of the 99?

Todd Gitlin is a professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University, also the author of the new e-book "Occupy Nation." He's a former leader of the '60s movement Students for Democratic Society.

Pete Dominick is host of Sirius XM "Stand Up." I think he was born in the '60s.

And Will Cain --


ROMANS: And Will Cain is a CNN contributor.

Welcome to the program, everybody.


ROMANS: Occupy Wall Street started back in September and many thought it might have died down over the winter. But Tuesday's theme this week -- no work, no shopping, no banking, a day without the 99 percent. It may have reignited this movement.

An OWS spokesman Mark Bray said, "The popular media narrative is that Occupy is dead. But what we're here to show is that that's far from the truth. The issues that we're talking about are too important to go away."

Pete Dominick, there's a lot of talking. The issues we're talking about, I named some successes. What else are they doing? How have they changed America? Is it a success?

DOMINICK: Yes, absolutely. I mean, the Tea Party worked within the system to elect people to work in the system.

And I think the Occupy movement has a problem with the system and wants the system to change. What did it do? It created awareness for so many Americans about the issue of economic inequality that many of us know about and care about and concerned with. But now, so many more people know about it. More A-1 articles about income inequality. Even Paul Ryan agreed that's there.

And the move their money campaign was a metric, people moving their money away from these corrupt Wall Street banks into credit unions and community banks. Those are all good things. Awareness is key.

ROMANS: So, here's where some people in the middle started to separate a little bit this week. And this is with the idea of threats to disrupt traffic, banking, arrests, and then the idea of staying out of work and staying out of school to protest for better jobs and a better education. Are the -- is Occupy the 1 percent of the 99 percent, Will?

CAIN: I think so. But look, radical means for radical goals. Let's not be unclear about this. They have radical goals for what Pete has said, changing the system. Four years ago, we accepted a debate where we accepted the terms of what was hope and change. But not enough people asked change from what to what. So, let's ask this about Occupy. Change what system?

When I look up here and I see pictures about "rip capitalism" and I've seen pictures about "save the world, kill a capitalist," I ask this -- are you trying to change the greatest economic system man has ever evolve -- ever brought himself into, that pulled more people out of poverty than any system out of earth, is that what we want to change?

ROMANS: Well, Todd Gitlin, let me bring you here, because you have been fighting for people a very long time, your whole career. Do you see what you se here happening now, this assault I guess against capitalism, how does it compare? How is it different from what was the movement that really changed this country in the '60s?

TODD GITLIN, AUTHOR, "OCCUPY NATION": This is a much more popular movement than all of the movements of the 1960s. They were all minority movements. This movement starts with a great popular understanding that money has taken over politics, that inequality is unconscionable, that the system is rigged.

ROMANS: But isn't it a natural -- and I'm going to quote here -- isn't it by product of capitalism? I mean, isn't -- if you don't have inequality, then what do you have?

GITLIN: Capitalism has lots of by-products. But, you know, when you produce products and some of the by-products are poisonous, you should actually do something about them. That's what people are saying.

Some people want to undermine capitalism in this movement. Some people want to reform it. Some people don't know exactly what they want to do about it.

But one thing they converge on and, you know, it's a central thing they converge on is that there's other work for the society to do than simply genuflect to capitalism.

DOMINICK: This isn't -- I mean, Will calls it radical. I would ask the professor, is the Black Liberation Movement, Women's Liberation Movement, gay equality -- are those radical? This branding 99 percent is great because it's everybody versus the elitist who have created not trickle down, but (INAUDIBLE) up, how are in control of the system. Was that -- is it radical?

GITLIN: Yes, radical means goes to the root. And the root is that we have an oligarchy that has taken over our politics. When you have one man can plunk $10 million into a political campaign just in the primaries, this is crazy.

ROMANS: But Barack Obama was somebody nobody heard of eight years ago with student loan debt. And he became president of the United States.


ROMANS: Is he part of the oligarchy? GITLIN: No. But the oligarchy can stop with anything --

DOMINICK: He didn't have one person funding his campaign. Newt Gingrich would not have been running for a year without one person.

GITLIN: You can't organize a political campaign without money. But you cannot actually arrest the power of the oligarchy by doing business as usual.


CAIN: No, it's just an impossible debate to have. This is one advance --

DOMINICK: No, it's not. It's a great debate. Go ahead.

CAIN: It is when you can't speak. It's why it's impossible to have with Occupy because you can change the purpose, you can change the movement every time I speak. If it's about capitalism -- no, it's about money and politics. You will answer a laundry list of things.

Pete, let me ask you this, in the end there's one common theme and it's almost autocratic, almost tyrannical.

You want to talk about money and politics, I ask you, who are you to say the right amount? Who are you to say the right amount of free speech?

GITLIN: I'm a citizen of the United States who thinks I have as much right to voice in American politics as Sheldon Adelson, with radical ideas.

CAIN: But do you have the right to shut down his voice?

GITLIN: He can get on a street corner and talk as much as he wants.

ROMANS: Look, he didn't make it, Gingrich didn't make it. With all that money behind him, he didn't make, right? Rick Perry had so much super PAC money behind him on some of these ads, I mean he outspent in ads in a couple of different states. Iowa was one of them. And he didn't make it either, you know?

So my question is, some of this that we've seen lately, I don't know if the money is actually working. There's so much money that crossed purposes.

GITLIN: But it drowns out everything else. It drowns out the people who want to talk about equality.

DOMINICK: It drowns out public interest -- the issues of the public, the issues in this case of the 99 percent. Will and many people can be against this movement. It's not so much a political movement. It is about the vast majority of the American people who don't have an opportunity that the entitled upper class, 1 percent have and want to hold on to. They're the entitled ones. ROMANS: I want to ask Todd something. When you watch this movement, are there lessons learned from the '60s where they could clarify what their mission is or where they could have maybe a set of goals that the people can agree on, legislature -- the point of Occupy for so long is that we don't do that. That's not what we're about. We're about --

GITLIN: One of the lessons learned from the '60s is that the movement is strongest when it is resolutely nonviolent. Now, Will is going to chortle -- but the pictures of the moments when some maniac cracks a window are the pictures that get on -- pardon me -- your air.

ROMANS: But look, I'm showing a lot of pictures behind you, right now, actually.

GITLIN: I know. And some of them -- you know, the guy with the dreads does -- gets a lot of promotion. But the thing is, that was one thing that people learned from the '60s. The nonviolent tradition works.

The second thing I think that a lot of people learned from the '60s and maybe over-learned is that you don't want hierarchical organizations, you don't want bosses, you don't want the media anointing your leaders, you don't want a rigid movement, you want a movement that moves. You want a movement that's flexible.

DOMINICK: Would you have asked -- would the media have asked Thomas Jefferson in 1775, what are your goals? He probably would have said well, right now we want to get out from under King George's boot and we've got some other things we're going to caucus about but we're working on that. That's what this is. It's a movement and it doesn't necessarily have to have a focus.

ROMANS: I'm going to leave it with Pete Dominick doing his Thomas Jefferson impersonation.

DOMINICK: What would we have wanted?

ROMANS: That was very good. That's British (INAUDIBLE).

DOMINICK: It's perfect.

ROMANS: It's very well done.

Guys, thanks so much. Todd Gitlin, Pete Dominick Todd Dominick -- thanks, guys.

Coming up next, she was raised on picket lines for the rights of union workers, women and people of color. Her philosophy on life is the old IBM motto, "Think". Best-selling author and passionate advocate Lisa Bloom joins us with a startling look at teenage boys and her advice to parents.

And later, are more people rethinking the American dream to own a home? We'll take a look.


ROMANS: Welcome back. More evidence this week that not going to college doesn't just cost you, it also costs the economy. A new study predicts the U.S. won't achieve a 60 percent college graduation rate by 2025, falling short by 24 million degrees. That will cost our economy about $600 billion a year in lost wages and income taxes.

Keep working. Retirement is a little farther off out there on the horizon these days. An annual Gallup poll finds the average American now expects to stop working at age 67. That's up from age 60 in 1996.

And the 1980s movie "Mr. Mom" may have been ahead its time. Census data finds 32 percent of men stay home with their children at least one day a week in 2010 while their wives worked. Ten years ago, it was only 26 percent.

The concept of stay at home dad is not new to Lisa Bloom. That's how her children were cared for when they were little. She joins me now with her new book, "Swagger: Ten Urgent Rules for Raising Boys in Era of Failing Schools, Mass Joblessness and Thug Culture."

Good morning, Lisa.

LISA BLOOM, AUTHOR, "SWAGGER": Good morning. He was home with them only for a few months. But it is true. And I'm all in favor of stay- at-home dads, stay at home moms, whatever works.

ROMANS: I know. No kidding.

What was -- you've outlined sort of the forces aligned against sons in this country. What are they?

BLOOM: Yes. I was really surprised doing the research for this book, how our culture is hammering boys. Boys today are four times are more likely to go to prison than I was a kid. The majority of African- American and Hispanic boys in our country drop out of school, a majority, and only a bare -- and only little bit better than that, for white boys.

So, they really have a problem. Girls are outperforming boys at every level of school. Our young male unemployment rate is the same as it is, an Arab spring is about 18 percent.

So, I wanted to write issuing a wake-up call to parents about how bad the climate is for boys right. But the second half of the book are tips, step by step guide for parents and how you can raise a strong son and protect him, because I agree with Frederick Douglass, who said it is easier to raise strong sons than to repair broken men.

ROMANS: Oh, wow.

BLOOM: That's what the book "Swagger" is all about.

ROMANS: And that's incredible -- I mean, that's an incredible reminder of that quote as well as we live in this very modern culture, with all of these things lined against boys -- joblessness, failing schools, sub-culture you say.

You have a boy and a girl.


ROMANS: You wrote a viral article last year about raising girls, showing us, you know, as a society, we teach girls to value their beauty more than the smarts. And for boys, you say in the book and I want to quote from it, Lisa, "Having been told since birth that they are not only handsome and talented as Jamie Foxx, but naturally smarter than Einstein, 85 percent of American teens are confident of their math and science abilities, 43 percent very confident, 42 somewhat confident. Gosh, that must feel good except for the uncomfortable truth that this attitude is completely unmoored to reality."

What is their reality? Why does society teach swagger over substance?

BLOOM: Yes, our kids are 25th out of 30 first world countries in math. But in one area we're number one, confidence. You know, the Bible exhorts us to have an air of humility, pride goes before a fall. With humility comes wisdom.

And don't you know, social science bares that out. Kids who are overconfident do worse in school. We as parents think we are doing a good thing for our kids, constantly telling them they are smart, praising them just for getting up in the morning and putting on their shoes and bruising their teeth.


BLOOM: But we're doing them a disservice. We need to praise effort. We need to praise hard work. We need to praise a kid who put in the extra hour for the home work and not just praise their brain. Ultimately, that hurts them.

And I call the book "Swagger" because we're living in a swagger culture. That's the most popular word in pop music, rap and hip hop. And you ask any boy about swagger, he's going to pop out his chest, he's going have that bravado, that arrogance.

But ultimately that's harming them. We need to take that attitude down a notch.

ROMANS: Lisa Bloom, the book is great, it's called "Swagger." Very nice to see you. Have a nice weekend, Lisa.

BLOOM: Thank you, Christine. You're the best.

ROMANS: All right. Coming up: why it will never be a better time to buy a home, but should you? Next.


ROMANS: Home ownership, worth it or not worth it? Is the American dream a home with a big backyard and white picket fence? But is that dream fading?

Home ownership is down to 65 percent. That's the lowest in 15 years. Home prices have fallen, too. They peaked in May of 2006, but home values are now back to 2002 levels.

Jack Otter is the executive editor of He's also the author of a new book called "Worth It, Not Worth It: Simple and Profitable Answers to Life's Tough Financial."

We're going to take that 'worth it, not worth it" mantra and apply it to the housing prices. Jeff, we're probably bottoming in home prices, do you think?

JACK OTTER, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, CBSMONEYWATCH.COM: It certainly looks that way. The danger is, of course, we've been seeing this for a while now and they keep on taking a little further. It's called trying to catch a falling knife. But I really do think we're pretty close to the bottom, unless there's another shock.

ROMANS: So rents are rising at the same time, right?


ROMANS: So, is it worth it or not worth it to rent right now?

OTTER: Well, I come down on the side of buying for two reasons. One, it's really a behavioral argument, not an economic one. A house is a piggy bank that you live in.

It would be cheaper to rent your whole life, invest that money well and then you'd be rich by the end of 30 years. The problem is, people don't do it that way. Money that they save they actually spend on other stuff.

So, people work hard. Most people are able to pay off their mortgage over 30 years and then they have this great asset. And so that's why I think buying is a better deal.

But it's true, that in a lot of places, renting was cheaper as housing went up, up, up, and now, buying is a little bit cheaper. So that's another reason.

And then finally, you know, it's a depressed asset. You're using other people's money that you borrow at 4 percent and get a tax deduction.

ROMANS: So you're telling me it's worth it to buy?

OTTER: So, it is worth it to buy. But you and I have talked for a while about how just because it's worth it to buy for some people doesn't mean it's right for everyone. So, that number you just quoted I think is actually probably where we ought to be 65 percent homeownership.

ROMANS: Yes. OTTER: You know, young people, you might have a job offer halfway across the country. You don't want to live in underwater house. You meet the love of your life and she says, great, but I don't want to live in the same state as your mother, you know?

So if you're renting, that's easy. So I think there's a lot of reasons people should just sort of let go of the American dream and not feel that I'm not a grown up if I don't own a house, because that's not true.

ROMANS: Jack Otter, "Worth It, Not Worth It" -- you go through the books with all kinds of simple and profitable answers, very nice to have you on board. Thanks.

OTTER: Great. Nice to be with you.

ROMANS: All right. We've got a great conversation about real estate going online. I want you to join in. You can find me on Facebook and Twitter @CNNBottomLine and @ChristineRomans.

I also want to know what you think about the difference in raising boys and girls and whether Occupy Wall street speaks for what you hope to get from this economy.

Back now to CNN SATURDAY for the latest headlines. Have a great weekend.