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The War for Women; Degrees of Debt; The Social Investment; Moving Forward

Aired May 19, 2012 - 09:30   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For months, you've heard of the so-called war on women. Now with a general election in sight. It's a war for women.

Good morning.

I'm Christine Romans.

A stop by "The View," a speech at Barnard college.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are better off when women are treated fairly and equally in every aspect of American life.



ROMANS (voice-over): The president needs women to win as his party rails at a war against them.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL), DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIRWOMAN: But turning back the clock for women really is something that's unacceptable.

ROMANS: The left is ratcheting up the rhetoric.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This November, we're going to remember.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How you threw women under the bus.

ROMANS: But is the argument backfiring?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The real war on women has been the job losses as a result of the Obama economy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The American people are smarter than that and women are smarter than that.


ROMANS: 2012 is no 2008, when President Obama handily won the women's vote. This week, two polls showed President Obama and his Republican rival inches apart. A Gallup Poll looks a lot like 2008, with the president leading Romney by 9 points among women. But the shocker came from a CBS/"New York Times" poll, with Romney holding a slight edge over Mr. Obama.

Joining me now are Hilary Rosen. She's a CNN political contributor and Democratic strategist. And Margaret Hoover. She's a Republican consultant, a CNN political contributor and the great granddaughter of President Herbert Hoover.

Margaret, who was born in my home state of Iowa, a hero to Iowans.

Margaret, for -- for months, Democrats have -- you know, they've said a Republican war on women will help President Obama. These polls, are they telling us something different?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I -- I think that it's true. I -- I think the Republican -- or the Republicans' war on women was this mechanism that seems to have been contrived by Democratic strategists in order to exploit the gains among women.

The truth is, when you look at the numbers, Democrats and President Obama need to win more women because they're losing men. And so they -- they -- they won women handily in 2008, split women evenly in 2010. They need women to come back to the Democratic fold if they're going to win in November.

ROMANS: And certainly women were really energized in 2008. And that's something that's important, from the Democrats' point of view -- you know, Hillary, I want to ask you, you know, women care about jobs more than anything else.

Do you think it was a mechanism, as she puts it, Margaret puts it?

Was the war on women a mechanism for the political season?

HILARY ROSEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I mean, first of all we shouldn't think of women as a constituency group. We are actually a majority of the country, number one. So when a -- when a candidate is trying to lead the country, policies toward women matter a lot. It's not sort of a -- a tactical political move.

And, you know, I think, that, I -- first of all, you should just know I hate this word war on women.

ROMANS: I know. I know. And it's been and it has so political and it's been so...

ROSEN: It's terrible.

ROMANS: -- sound-bited to death, too.

ROSEN: And it's just such a bad vibe and it's got terrible energy. And it's -- it's just -- it's really disturbing.

So let's go back to I think that sort of this kind of started when there was that big fight over contraception...

ROMANS: Right.

ROSEN: -- and -- and -- and reproductive health and those issues.

Let's put those aside, because you really, smartly, focus on money. So aside from whether or not policies go there, there are three things, I think, that women in particular, and all citizens, will look at when it comes to who to vote for in November.

The first is, you know, who's created jobs. The second is what is the tax policy that's going to help. The third is what is the, you know, the things that a president has control over, like a federal budget.


ROSEN: There are a lot of things they don't have control over.

How does the budget policies affect women in particular?

And I think kind of on all three of those things, people are going to come down on President Obama's side. We've had you know, 20...

ROMANS: So you're not worried about that view -- that -- that CBS/"New York Times" poll. I mean I know we've got six months to go...


ROMANS: -- but that really caught a lot of people by surprise.

ROSEN: It -- it did. It's -- it's -- and I think the Obama campaign has sort of debunked several components of it as -- as a bunch of outliers, in terms of who they're serving.

So let's just, you know, polls are going to go up and down and move all around. But I think when you look at things -- you know, the Romney campaign is trying to be, portraying themselves as job creators.


ROSEN: Well, you know, Mitt Romney actually, when he was governor of Massachusetts, was the third lowest in the country for job creation.

ROMANS: But people, look, I want to get Margaret in here. People want to know who is going to create a job for them in the future, who's going to -- you know, we can...


ROMANS: -- we can -- we can hash out all of the -- their track records. But in an interesting twist on this -- and, Margaret, I'm going to bring you in -- I mean Mitt Romney can say look at what this president has -- what his policies are doing right now.

And that's where they've been focusing, right? They've been saying -- he's been saying, look, I can make it better because I understand business. And that means I can make jobs for women and for men and for however you want to break the demographic.

HOOVER: Right. And what Republican women, of course, are doing is trying to push back and saying, look, all issues that are relevant to the electorate are relevant to women. And you have...


HOOVER: -- you know, 14 members of Congress, women members of Congress, who came out and wrote an article in Politico this week, saying 85 percent of health care decisions are made by women in the family. Eighty-five percent of a family's consumer purchases are made by women in the family. Two-thirds of all new businesses, startup businesses, are started by women.

So all of these issues -- job recovery, economic recovery, debt, deficit reduction -- all of these affect women no differently than they affect men. But these are women's issues. All issues are women's issues.

So this is...

ROSEN: I agree with Margaret.

HOOVER: -- I think, an effective push back of the GOP. And -- and then we just have to sort of look at the record.

Who -- how is the economy doing?

Has it not been as strong as a recovery and women have been disproportionately affected?

ROMANS: Do you really think -- do you think (INAUDIBLE)...

HOOVER: And, you know...

ROMANS: -- Hilary, do you think that women are going to be less energized this fall than they were in 2008?

ROSEN: Well, I think Americans are less energized. People are frustrated. You know, people want greater economic growth. I don't think -- I think the enthusiasm factor, on the Republican side, is as, you know, potentially low as it is on their -- on the Democratic side.

But let's talk about kind of the record and where this goes. We have had, you know, 26 straight months of job growth. An interesting statistic, Christine, that Ali was talking about in -- on TV last week...

ROMANS: But, you know, wait, that's...

ROSEN: Wait, wait, wait.

ROMANS: -- (INAUDIBLE) OK, go ahead. ROSEN: -- wait, is that, you know, President Obama has finally restored all of the jobs lost before he came into office. And now we get into job growth. Somebody had to restore the jobs lost. Now we get into job growth.

Who has got the best plans to do that?

And I think that what we are going to -- what we are going to have to compare is does a -- does a Romney economic policy, which essentially provides additional tax breaks for the wealthy, no investment in education and technology and energy and those sorts of things...

ROMANS: And those are all talking points...

HOOVER: -- compare...

ROMANS: -- we've heard.

But leave -- let me roll back for a second, because...


ROMANS: -- you know, for every one of those economic statistics, the other team can take it and turn it upside down. I watch it happen every time it comes -- I can -- I can read the press releases in my mind, from both teams, the minute the jobs numbers come out. And you're right, the president has restored a lot of those jobs that have been lost, almost all of them. But not keeping up with population growth. It's still the slowest jobs recovery of our lifetime.

So each side has (INAUDIBLE)...

ROSEN: Right. But do you know what the drag is on job growth?

ROMANS: But, wait. The list is -- the key is going to be whose message do people believe?

ROSEN: That's exactly right.

ROMANS: The person who owns the message is going to own the -- the -- the election. And -- and that's what I think is so interesting about some of these polls this week.

Margaret, do you want to jump in?

HOOVER: And that -- and that's exactly -- I mean, also, there's, you know, just to say another point, because Hillary made such a good point on her side, is, you know, there's also this question. Many articles right now, how many people have left the workforce entirely?

And so -- so even when you talk about jobs recovery, if people aren't even competing in the workforce then you still have over 8 percent unemployment. But I -- I think you're right. It's whose message is going to be believable. And, at the end of the day, people are going to ask, are you better off today than you were four years ago?

HOOVER: I think it's also going to be what kind of capitalist are you?

Are you an Obama capitalist or are you a Romney capitalist?

ROMANS: You guys, so nice to talk to you this morning.

HOOVER: Thank you.

ROMANS: Thanks for dropping by.

Margaret Hoover and Hilary Rosen, nice to see you.

Have a great weekend, you two.

HOOVER: Thanks.

ROSEN: You, too, Christine.

ROMANS: Coming up next, reach high -- you could end up in the White House. Dream big -- you could end up a Supreme Court justice. That's the message from two of the nation's highest achievers to America's class of 2012.

But how much student debt does it take to get there?


ROMANS: It's graduation week for many schools across the country. From the president to the Supreme Court justice, the commencement message was clear -- dream big.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And if you fight for your seat at the table and you set a better example and you persevere in what you decide to do with your life, I have every faith not only that you will succeed, but that, through you, our nation will continue to be a beacon of light for men and women, boys and girls in every corner of the globe.



SONIA SOTOMAYOR, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: I am sure you are a little sad about leaving some of your friends and leaving your familiar and comfortable routines, a little fearful of the unknown challenges life will bring, finding a career in uncertain economic times.


ROMANS: But students are optimistic.


JOANNA CIAMPA, NYU GRADUATE: I know like in the field that I'm entering into, there's a lot of jobs that are like needed. So I'm pretty confident I'll find something.

JARETT MONTERIO, NYU GRADUATE: Well, there are definitely opportunities out there. But you can definitely tell it -- it's not the same market as it would have been like five or six years ago. So it's definitely tough.

BRYSON ARMSTRONG, NYU GRADUATE: I don't have a job lined up and I'm not sure what I want to do. But I'm pretty sure it's going to work out.


ROMANS: For 1.8 million graduates, it's going to be big dreams and big debt.

I'm joined by CNN political analyst, Roland Martin, and Aaron Smith, co-founder and executive director of Young Invincibles. That's an advocacy group for 18 and 30 -- for kids 18 to 35 years old.

Now, Roland, student debt. The conventional wisdom is these kids are drowning in it. Ninety-four percent of undergrads borrow now. They've got some $20,000 plus in debt. But, Roland, I've written about this and I've reported about this. That should be manageable once people get a job.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Right, it should be. And -- and that's -- there's a thing I believe, Christine, called good debt. And that is, this college degree is putting you in a -- in a position to be able to get a job to earn a certain amount of income. I think you have to look at this thing over a 10 year period. And that is this. And that's how I look at it.

I came out of college with about $30,000 worth of debt. And that was in 1991. And so if you say, over a 10 year period, if you have an average salary of about, you know, $40,000 -- and that -- that's adjusted for, you know, growth over that period, you're talking about $400,000 gross that you would earn in a 10 year period based upon a $20,000 student loan.

If you went out and got a car that was a $25,000, $30,000 car note, you're going to lose a -- lose value in that car. And so I think we have to look at student debt in a different way. But it must be manageable and not some crazy $100,000, $150,000...

ROMANS: And let's be clear, that's the 1 percent of the 99 percent of kids who are getting student debt, the ones with hundreds of thousands of dollars.

MARTIN: Precisely.

ROMANS: Aaron, I want to -- I want to lay out the job situation here, because the issue is, once you get a job, you can start to pay the debt. But we know a Rutgers University survey found just over half of recent college grads are working full-time. And Gallup says, Aaron, one in three 18 to 29-year-olds in the workforce was underemployed, meaning they were doing a job that they were under qualified. They could be doing something much, much bigger.

President Obama is calling for you, your generation, to fight for a seat at the table.

But, you know, your generation is seen as Generation Entitled -- complaining about debt that should be an investment and kind of waiting for the right job to come around and picking majors that the economy maybe doesn't favor anymore.

AARON SMITH, CO-FOUNDER, YOUNG INVINCIBLES: Well, you know, we just finished a 21-state bus tour hitting over 43 different campuses. And we talked to graduates all across the country. And, absolutely, the economy is brutal.

But the optimism that you said -- you suggested -- is definitely out there. I mean, these -- this is a generation that we've done polling and find they -- they want to work hard. They know education pays off and is the key to success. But they're -- and I absolutely agree that the -- college is still a good investment.

But the question is, at what point does the cost really start to work against graduates?

We are seeing tuition that's going up...

ROMANS: Right.

SMITH: -- you know, three times since the nine -- since 1980. It's just not sustainable.

ROMANS: Yes. And you know, I want to...

MARTIN: But you know what, Christine, though?

I -- I think we need to be honest about something, as well. You hit a critical point when you said, what is your major?

People have to study -- and I believe as a high school sophomore, junior and senior, where are the available jobs in America?

Where -- where are the areas where you're going to have growth?

Also, where are you going to have people who are retiring?

And you have to say, what is my major and what is the profession I'm going in?

ROMANS: Well, you know, I...

MARTIN: And not just that, does my profession require a masters degree, as well?

ROMANS: Right.

MARTIN: Because I know lots of students who are going to get masters who don't need them and they're incurring more debt. ROMANS: You know, here's the thing, the econ -- and you're right about that.

The economy, though, is changing so quickly. We don't do a good enough job of -- of telling kids what the odds -- what the prospects are out there.

We also still have this feeling in America that we're the leader in the world and college is a place to find yourself, to find yourself to be a...

MARTIN: That's, ah...

ROMANS: -- well-rounded person and then to enter into a dynamic labor market that's going to embrace you. And that's just not the way it is right now.

MARTIN: I hate that phrase. I hate that -- that whole notion of looking for yourself, because while you are looking for yourself, you are spending either your parents' money or you are trying to get more loans, going into debt.

I also believe, Christine, that on the high school level, we've got to staff up aggressively when it comes to advising people; also, taking advantage of people who are in the industries right now who can say, no, here's the appropriate advice that you need.

I knew I was going to be a journalist. I knew that my industry did not require a masters degree. And so I said, look, get the B -- get my BS...


MARTIN: -- and then get in the workforce, versus incurring more debt.

ROMANS: Aaron, let me bring you in, because we see all this optimism from your generation. And one thing that HR experts and demographers tell me is that your generation doesn't know you can't do it. You also don't have mortgages and kids and a lot of other responsibilities, so you can be more mobile and nimble. And you are the first real generation in the workforce who was born tech savvy.


ROMANS: Do you think those are things that are, you know, we're looking at you with Generation X eyes here.

SMITH: Well, I mean you're -- you're right, there's -- there's tremendous potential for this generation because they are so tech savvy, because they're so entrepreneurial. There is a lot going in our favor.

At the same time, you know, we have these concerns, that we're not investing in this generation in the same way we have in the past.

And hitting on the point about information, there's a total information gap. Young people don't necessarily know where the jobs are and they're not being provided...


SMITH: -- you know, a lot of schools are cutting guidance counselors...

ROMANS: Well, you can...

SMITH: -- and those are the people who should be providing that advice.

ROMANS: You can watch here every weekend to find out where the jobs are and what they pay, because we do this over and over again. And I think another really important point here, fellows, is that kids can take on as much debt as they possibly can. I mean you have -- you could not buy a car with less scrutiny or a house with less scrutiny, you couldn't even apply for a job for -- with less scrutiny than it is for getting -- just loading up on student debt. So all of those things are really important factors here.

Thank you so much for joining both of us.

Have a great weekend, guys.

MARTIN: Thanks much.

SMITH: Thank you very much.

ROMANS: All right, coming up next, Facebook makes history. It starts trading on the NASDAQ.

But if you're upset you didn't get a piece of Facebook, hey, it might be a good thing. We're going to tell you why the odds were stacked against you from the start.

And you'll hear one family desperate to sell their house at whatever cost.

That's next.


ROMANS: Facebook has now gone public, meaning you can own a share of this company. And with the frenzy over the IPO behind us, the question now, whether you should get in on the action at this point.

CNN chief business correspondent, Ali Velshi, and I have been arguing about this, like every other married couple who battles over money, all week.

When it comes to Facebook, it's Ali hitting the accelerator. Of course, I'm the one tapping the brakes -- so, Ali, you start.


ROMANS: Tell me why it's a good idea to buy the stock. VELSHI: OK, maybe this isn't the best proof that you should buy the stock, but you do have to understand, this just isn't over hype. This is what I call the second transformation of the Internet.

The first one was from, you know, those portals, CompuServe and AOL and Yahoo! ! Still looks like one, where you get everything you didn't know to look for in one page.

Then you went to search. The Internet was just about...

ROMANS: Right.

VELSHI: -- a little box where you put any question you could possibly think of into this thing and people smarter than you -- you don't even know if they're really people -- answer the question for you.

But what Facebook is saying is that we are taking the Internet this space where is a journey through life that is curated by your friends and your community that you choose. In other words, a completely different way of looking at the most powerful tool in the world.

And if you belief that is important, that may be a reason to buy the stock.

ROMANS: And if you believe advertisers can make money off that and Facebook can make money off that, that's a reason to buy the stock.

Here's where I get a little concerned. I think IPOs are risky. There's a reason why just anybody can't walk up some place and buy a share of Facebook, because we take a company public so you can see what it's going to do.

VELSHI: Right.

ROMANS: Look under the hood.

VELSHI: That's right.

ROMANS: You can find out how it's going to grow.

VELSHI: You can't do that with private companies.

ROMANS: That's right. So now we're going to start to learn now, today. The company is public. Now, in the days ahead and the quarters ahead, when the company reports to the government about what it's doing, that's when we're going to get a real look at Facebook.

So I am the conservative type who says IPOs are risky, folks. If you're not a seasoned investor, be careful. You could lose money. And some IPOs have lost money.

VELSHI: And we talked about advertising. And you feel like...

ROMANS: I'm a little...

VELSHI: -- you've got to make sure. ROMANS: -- concerned about advertising, too. Oh, my goodness, I'm right up -- there we go.

I'm a little concerned about advertising, too.

You know, what is the business model going to be for this company?

Not all ads are clicked on and not all companies make money when they put ads on Facebook. And that's what it's about, it's about making money when you're public.

VELSHI: Well, it's also about making money when you buy a stock. You buy a stock to sell it for more money than you paid for it. And if you think you can do that with Facebook -- in other words, can you buy it this week and sell it for more than that a year later or two years or three years later? that might be a reason to do it.

ROMANS: All right, that's going to wrap it up.

Coming up next, if I told you selling your house for less than you paid for it was a smart move -- a smart move?

Would you believe me?

We're going to look at one couple who did just that and they say it's the smartest move they've ever made.


ROMANS: For years, there's been nothing but bad news in housing. Two years ago, it sure looked like buying a house was buying at the bottom. Not quite.

But in real estate, sometimes getting ahead means taking a loss.


ROMANS (voice-over): Scott Nooner is a geophysicist. Kate Nooner is a brain researcher. No question this couple is smart. But their savviest move of late...

(on camera): So tell me the best advice you got about staging for sale.

(voice-over): Putting their home on the market for 10 percent less than they paid for it.

(on camera): Look at this. This is how many brokers came through this house.


SCOTT NOONER, HOME SELLER: Yes, there's house different brokers in there.

K. NOONER: Yes. And...

ROMANS: And some must be repeats.

S. NOONER: Some are -- no...

K. NOONER: There are over 100 where there were repeats.

S. NOONER: A hundred -- a hundred individuals.

ROMANS (voice-over): The Nooners have exciting new jobs in North Carolina. They don't have much time to pack up and move, so they priced their home to sell quickly.

K. NOONER: It was definitely a pretty bitter pill to swallow as we were making this decision.

ROMANS: It may not be easy, but selling at a loss gives something valuable in return -- peace of mind. Psychotherapist Robi Ludwig says life can't wait for the housing market to improve.

(on camera): We are in an economy, a housing market, where a 5 or 10 percent loss is actually a good thing, we'll, in the end.

ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOLOGIST & AUTHOR: We live in different economic times. And so to measure things against an old economy doesn't really make any sense and isn't appropriate.


ROMANS (voice-over): It's the first spring selling season in years that hasn't been, well, miserable. Housing affordability is the best in 40 years. Relentless price declines are slowing. And surveys point to prices creeping higher next year. Housing starts are up and home builder confidence is at a five year high. Mortgage rates are near all-time lows.

But a true recovery in housing comes only with a better job market.

(on camera): The bottom line is, you know, you can't have a house hold you back from, you know, living your life.

SCOTT NOONER: That's what we ultimately decided. Even if we lose money, if that's the right move for us, we -- we decided that we have to -- we have to do it.


ROMANS: Their strategy sure paid off. After a successful open house, they received several offers and they accepted one for about 5 percent less than they paid for their home in 2010.

All right, if you've got a question you'd like us to answer, find us on Facebook and Twitter. Our handle is cnnbottomline. My handle is @christineromans.

Back now to "CNN SATURDAY." Have a great weekend.