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Supreme Court to Rule on Obamacare; Worker Shortage?; Interview with Jim Rogers

Aired June 16, 2012 - 09:30   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, HOST: The future of your health care is at stake, will the Supreme Court strike down President Obama's landmark health care reform law?

Good morning, I'm Christine Romans.

In the coming days, as the U.S. Supreme Court will announce its ruling but the public has already spoken. A recent CNN/ORC poll found just 43 percent of Americans say they're in favor of the health care law. 51 percent of Americans say they oppose it. Important to point out of those who oppose it, about two-thirds say it's too liberal, the rest say they think the law should go even further.

The issue before the Supreme Court is not is it a good law, but is it constitutional? There are several possible outcomes. The court could strike down the law entirely or just a single provision in the law, it could also uphold the law entirely.

This is politics, law and your health care all rolled up into one, which is why I want to bring in CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and CNN contributor Will Cain. Will is not a doctor, but he knows politics, and he's got a law degree. Sanjay is a doctor.

So, let's start with you. The sticking point here for many conservatives is this individual insurance mandate, Sanjay, saying that most Americans have to purchase health care. But some of the other provisions of this bill have gained wider appeal. I mean including, what, coverage for people with preexisting conditions, lower prescription drug prices for seniors, letting kids stay on parents' policies longer.

Sanjay, what if the individual mandate is struck down?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is the most contentious part of the whole thing, no question. From a pragmatic standpoint, you know, as a physician working in hospitals and seeing how they work, I think the concern is that they all sort of are built on each other a bit.

So, the individual mandate means more people will be putting money into the health care system and more people will be buying health care insurance. They say, if you can afford it, you have to buy it. If you don't have that extra money coming in, it's very hard to make the other things you just mentioned work, Christine, including this idea of not discriminating against people based on their preexisting conditions.

ROMANS: Even children.

GUPTA: Even children. So, you know -- there are people who say look we're going to keep those things in effect, that's still going to be there, even as the mandate goes away, but it's very hard because the money just isn't there. So let's point it out, I know, Christine, as you have talked about that Governor Romney had a mandate in his state of Massachusetts when he was governor, and I've asked him about this specifically, and he says, look, I would still like to keep, you know, if possible for people who have preexisting conditions to get health care insurance. He says he still wants that. The problem is that left to its own devices, the premiums, the cost of buying an insurance plan if you're sick will just be prohibitively high.

ROMANS: I want to bring in Will Cain. Will, what do you think that odds are that this thing is struck down? I mean you've been saying for a while that you felt like it didn't look like a slam dunk, that this was going to -- this was going to remain law?

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, as far as the individual mandate is concerned, Sanjay points out some very important things there, the fact that the whole law's entirely built upon that individual mandate. And as far as that particular provision, I think it's probably going to be struck down. I think it's going to be a narrow decision, I think it's going to be five to four. But I do think that will be struck down. What that does to the entire law and if the court throws out the entire law, I got to be honest with you, I don't know, and I don't know what the effects are in the health care market from that point forward.

ROMANS: What does it mean for Republicans, though? Republicans have been lobbying for this, then they're going to be able to do a little victory dance, right?

CAIN: Well, yeah, but, you know, Republicans have said this, since -- they must be held to the standard, it is repeal and replace. So, if they don't repeal it but the Supreme Court knocks it down, they've got to begin to tell us what replace means.

ROMANS: Like make a provision that children with preexisting conditions will be able to get health insurance.

CAIN: Well, you know, what's interesting...

ROMANS: The popular parts of this law ...

CAIN: That's right.

ROMANS: That even Republicans have to like ...

CAIN: What's interesting is, ideologically conservatives would say that you want to build a health care market that's consumer oriented, that means buying insurance across state lines. And some provisions like that. But now they're saying that they like some of the provisions in Obamacare, such as keeping children on the insurance until 26. If we call people children at that age. And, yeah, embracing the concept of preexisting conditions. So they had given some lip service to liking aspects of Obamacare. It will be interesting if those are, you know, attempted to be maintained.

ROMANS: And Sanjay, 50 million Americans are without health insurance right now, and the Congressional Budget Office says that 30 million Americans would get coverage under this law. What happens to the uninsured if the law's overturned?

GUPTA: Well, you know, it's interesting, it's a very -- it's very difficult. I mean people become sicker before they access the health care system. Maybe they still visit a hospital, visit through the emergency room, but they often come in much sicker. So, what I think is interesting, Christine, you put up those numbers in terms of favorability and unfavorability, I think a lot of people think, you know, look, I'm insured right now, this isn't an issue for me, I, you know, it just seems like it's going to be a nuisance. So I'm not in favor of it.

They don't realize that not having more people insured does affect them. It affects their premiums, it affects, you know, their community, it affects other hospitals where they're getting their care. So this law affects everybody. And I think people who have their insurance right now haven't been that interested in it, really need to pay attention.

ROMANS: But the people who have insurance right now, Sanjay, we should point out there will be ramifications for them. If you have a kid who is 23 coming out of college and you thought that person was going to stay on your insurance for three more years, that part of the law would be -- could be struck down. If you've got a child with a preexisting medical condition -- there are people who have insurance right now, there are a lot of provisions that would affect them.

GUPTA: Yeah, you know, and we've talked to several -- the big insurance providers about that very issue. And you're right. I mean from a legal standpoint they -- if the law is struck down, they won't be mandated to do that. Some of the big health care providers say they will still do it. They say we will still allow parents, for example to keep their children on their plans until age 26. Some say we will not get, you know, get rid of the preexisting discrimination clause.

ROMANS: They're not sure about the existing -- for children, they're not sure about the preexisting conditions for children. You haven't seen all the insurance companies come out together on that one, have you?

GUPTA: That's right. No. We haven't. And even on the other one, they haven't all come out together.


GUPTA: These are some big providers who are making their own determinations now at this point.

ROMANS: Well ... GUPTA: One other thing, though, you know, just in terms of the individual mandate, and Will knows this as well as anyone, is ideological as it has become, the origins of the individual mandate actually came from, you know, the Heritage Foundation. This was a plan that's been around since 1989. This was the Republican's sort of alternative to health care in the late '80s. So it makes for strange bedfellows sometimes.

ROMANS: All right, it's not that we -- you know, we don't know what the Supreme Court will decide, but you've got a show coming up later. Can you give us a preview?

GUPTA: Yeah, well, we're going to talk a lot about this. I'm going to interview -- you know, I've interviewed Governor Romney in the past, I'm interviewing his top health care adviser on this very issue as well. All together, fascinating series, Christine, you might be interested in, it's called "Surrogacy Sisters," this idea that a woman who is no longer able to have any more children, so her sister-in-law actually stepped in as a surrogate. Her husband's sister stepped in as a surrogate. How exactly that all comes together, we're tracing their whole journey, Christine, from the beginning to the delivery of this baby.

ROMANS: I can't wait. It sounds like a lot of fun. Thanks so much. Sanjay Gupta, also, Will Cain. Sure, we'll be talking about this again very, very soon.

All right, coming up next, nearly 13 million Americans unemployed and companies insist they can't fill the openings they have. Are American workers really that bad or are companies too lazy to train them or pay them more? That's next.


ROMANS: The bottom has fallen out of the middle class. Between 2007 and 2010 American families lost nearly 40 percent of net worth. The crash erased 18 years worth of savings and investment for the typical family. The value of your biggest asset, your home cratered and 13 million people are unemployed and looking for work. And if that's not bad enough, American business leaders say, they can't find workers with the right skills. Wait a minute. We've 13 million people out of work and companies say, they can't find enough workers. Economics 101 says if you can't find workers you pay more. But wages are flat or going down. Stephen Moore is an editorial writer with the "Wall Street Journal," former "New York Times" columnist Bob Herbert is also a distinguished senior fellow at Demos. Bob, you're not buying it.

BOB HERBERT, SENIOR FELLOW, DEMOS: No. One, I think, these are two separate issues, employers unable to find qualified workers, and then the much larger problem of all of the unemployed in this country. If you have trouble finding workers that in your company, you pay higher wages as far as I'm concerned. And eventually if those wages get high enough, you'll be deluged with applicants.

ROMANS: What about training? You train the workers yourself. HERBERT: On the job training, I mean that's been the way of corporate workers in this country since the beginning of the industrial revolution, it seems to me.

ROMANS: Stephen, it's pretty clear there are shortages of elite workers in science and technology. There is really no question about that. Listen to what Facebook's chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg told the president earlier this year.


SHERYL SANDBERG, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, FACEBOOK: Every company I know, my own included, we're desperately trying to find more people, but it has to be people who have the technical skills to meet the jobs we need, and it gets harder and harder to find them.


ROMANS: All sorts of industries, Stephen, are complaining they can't find qualified workers. A Manpower Group survey says employers report shortages in accounting and finance, in sales reps, in IT staff, engineering and the hardest job to fill, skilled trades, jobs like plumbers, electricians and carpenters. So Steven, why not pay more or do more on the job training to fill those jobs? You've got a big group of people looking for work.

STEPHEN MOORE, EDITORIAL WRITER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Look, I totally agree that the best kind of job training is on the job training, and that's why getting people back into the workforce is the most important thing we can do right now to get people to have more skills and, by the way, higher wages. And Christine, when you ask the question why aren't these employers paying higher wages to get the skilled workers, the problem is that the pool of people they're trying to -- they're picking from just don't have the basic skills. I think partly this is a failure of our education system over the last 30 years, partly it's a question of whether we're properly getting our kids ready for the workforce.


MOORE: For example, you mention -- you know, where I live you can't get a plumber, you can't get an electrician, you can't get a carpenter. And those are the kinds of jobs, maybe we need more emphasis, and I'd be interested in Bob's view on this, on the kind of vocational skills that used to be taught in schools and community colleges that aren't available now to kids.

ROMANS: But, you know, Stephen, unions have traditionally provided training ground for their members and workers. Maybe unions are a solution to our skills mismatch.

MOORE: Well, the problem there, Christine, is only one out of -- only about seven percent of private sector workers are in unions nowadays. So, look, the role of unions has actually been shrinking for the last 30 years. I'm not sure that trend is going to be discontinued. I just think we need more emphasis in schools, and even by the way in colleges, you know, you've got kids that are taking courses in gender studies and sociology and things like that, and they are coming out, you know, after four years, spending $150,000 or $200,000 on a college degree and you know what, what they've learned is not very applicable to the job market.

ROMANS: I'm not sure how many gender studies majors there are, actually. But I'll look that up for you. I don't think there are that many, really. Go ahead.

HERBERT: Why is it the obligation of the public school systems or the colleges to provide workers for specific industries who are having trouble staffing their organizations?

MOORE: That's true.

HERBERT: It seems to me that that's a problem of the industries and the companies themselves.

MOORE: Bob, can I just interrupt you there? Because it's a good point. I agree with you. Look, what schools should do is just get people knowledgeable, and the problem with our schools right now, when I talk to employers, Christine, around the country, they say a lot of the kids they, you know, their reading skills, their math skills. Their science skills are deficient.

ROMANS: And you're right. And no one disagrees.

MOORE: And that's, Bob, where I think the schools have failed.

ROMANS: But no one -- no one disagrees about that. The problem is right now, right now companies need workers and right now workers need jobs.

MOORE: Right.

ROMANS: So trying to do a 12-year or 20-year makeover of the public school system we can talk about it hypothetically, and how it needs to be done.

MOORE: Right.

ROMANS: ... but it's not going to get people ...

MOORE: That's true.

ROMANS: And companies connected right now. How de we -- companies like Fedex and Alcoa, they are working with community colleges to train workers.

MOORE: Right.

ROMANS: But I'll tell you, sometimes when you talk to employers, they are concerned about investing a lot of money in workers and then suddenly a fast global economy's changing the skills they need. They don't want to invest money for skills that are going to be obsolete in a year. MOORE: All right. I have an idea for you.

ROMANS: What's your idea?

MOORE: And I don't know if Bob -- I don't know if Bob will like this idea very much. But I think actually one of the things at lower rungs of the economic ladder that is -- that is impeding people getting going in the economy is the minimum wage. And Bob, what about if we had a training wage for especially, for kids under the age of 25, maybe, you know, $5 or $6 an hour to get them in the workforce, the companies ...

HERBERT: That's just ...

MOORE: ... will actually give them skills and then they can earn higher wages as they climb the ladder?

HERBERT: That's just another -- that's just another subsidy for private corporations. I'm not ...


MOORE: I knew you wouldn't like that idea.


HERBERT: But I also think that it's important, we're overstating this mismatch problem, because even if you fill all of these jobs that we're talking about, you would still have an enormous unemployment problem in this country.

MOORE: That's true.

HERBERT: That's one thing. And then the second thing is when you start talking about employers complaining that they don't have enough people with writing skills or reading skills and that sort of thing, the truth of the matter is, they've been all over the country interviewing these people, that there are all kinds of people, college educated, many with advance degrees who cannot find work. So, the idea that they can't read or they can't write well is just not the case.

ROMANS: All right, we have to leave it there. Stephen Moore, the "Wall Street Journal" editorial writer.

MOORE: Maybe if they had a degree in engineering or something like that they could get a job. I guess my point is they're not getting their degrees in the kind of skill-based professions where we need the jobs, Bob. That's the problem.

ROMANS: We'll actually discuss this later on in the program. So, that's what would we call a deep tease, Stephen Moore. People are going to stick around so we can talk about that again.

MOORE: All right.

ROMANS: Bob Herbert of Demos. Nice to see both of you. Have a great weekend, guys.

MOORE: Thank you.

ROMANS: Coming up next, we'll hear from legendary investor Jim Rogers about where he's investing his money and what he's carrying around in his pocket.


ROMANS (on camera): How much?

JIM ROGERS, LEGENDARY INVESTOR: I got gold in my pocket.


ROGERS: I hope I do.

ROMANS: Let me see. He sure does.


ROMANS: Yeah, he's got gold in his pocket. Where else is he putting his money? He's going to tell you himself, next.


ROMANS: Legendary investor Jim Rogers knows a thing or two about getting rich. He co-founded the Quantum Fund with legendary investor George Soros back in the 1970s, and he made his fortune before he was 40. Since then, he's spotted many other opportunities to make money. He says you should trust your own judgments. At the age of five, he was collecting empty bottles at baseball games instead of playing. I took a walk in Central Park with him and I asked him, why are you so down on the U.S. right now?


ROGERS: You should be very worried about 2013. 2014, you should be very, very worried.

The stock market's done nothing for 12, 13 years now. We have a lost decade in America. We're going to have another lost decade. Next year's going to be bad in the American economy. Be very careful.

ROMANS: So, if you are so worried, what do you buy? What are you buying? Where are you putting your money?

ROGERS: My money is -- I'm short stocks, you're shorting when you think something will go down, and I own currencies and I own commodities.

ROMANS: They say everyone should have a little big of gold in their portfolio as a hedge.

ROGERS: Everybody -- I have a little bit of gold in my pocket.

ROMANS: How much? No.

ROGERS: I hope I do.

ROMANS: Let me see. He sure does. I won't keep it, but ...

ROGERS: I know you won't keep it! I've got witnesses!

ROMANS: China the answer here? I mean, China's slowing as well.

ROGERS: China's been trying to slow its economy for three years, rightly so. They got overheated, they had a property bubble. They need to slap (ph) inflation, they need to slow down. Now, China cannot save us, Christine, they've done a great job. The American and European economies together are ten times as big as China.

ROMANS: Right.

ROGERS: Ten times. So even if China booms, if the rest of us have problems, China cannot save us.

ROMANS: Well, a lot of people think we're looking back on, you know, a chapter that will be written in the history book where the 19th century belonged to the U.K., to England, where the 20th century belonged to the United States and the 21st century belongs to China and the big rising Asian nations. Do you think so?

ROGERS: I have moved -- I have sold my house in New York. I have moved to Asia and my girls speak Mandarin -- speak perfect Mandarin. What more can I tell you? There -- I'm preparing them for the 21st century by knowing Asia and by speaking perfect Mandarin.


ROMANS: So, is China the new land of opportunity or can you still get rich in America? I asked Jim Rogers that question and I'll have his answer for you this afternoon at 1:00 p.m. Eastern when I join Ali Velshi for "Your Money."

All right, coming up, why teaching your kids to be nerds could pay off, next, in "Your Bottom Line."




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the nerds!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're back and they're bad!



ROMANS: And they are back. We've really reached into the vault for that one. That's a clip from the 1980s movie "Revenge of the Nerds II." And in today's job market, it's all about the nerds. Growing up, your parents may have wanted you to be a doctor, a lawyer, a banker, maybe an airline pilot. Those were the rock stars, right? But the rock stars of today, science, technology, engineering and math. Software engineer ranked as the best job of 2012. This is according to Career Cast. Paying around -- around $90,000 a year. Petroleum engineers even averaged six figures, $114,000 a year. Call them nerds, but it's cool to have a career that pays. They don't come any cooler than Ainissa Ramirez, scientist and former professor of mechanical engineering at Yale University. Welcome to the program.


ROMANS: Ainissa, you call yourself a science evangelist. The point here is engaging kids from kindergarten to college to get into stem field. How do we do that?

RAMIREZ: Well, we've got to get them excited about science. As you know, some science classes and math classes just don't capture children's imaginations, so we have to figure out how to do that. So instead of telling children to be a software engineer, ask them, hey, wouldn't you like to be the next Zuckerberg? We have to put them in context and get them excited about these careers. That's what I mean.

ROMANS: The 2012 teacher of the year was so interesting. She gets her kids to design an app in first or second grade, right? Apps, this is -- you've got to do it right away and do it in something that they understand. But when we talk about the top jobs in these fields, engineering in particular still a boys club. Look at this, 88,000 degrees were handed out in 2011. Just 15,000 of those, Ainissa, went to women. Why aren't women getting more excited about STEM, science, technology, engineering and math? Is that also happening in the schools?

RAMIREZ: It's a sad fact, but it's definitely true. Women are about 20 percent of the bachelors degrees that are coming out in engineering, and there's no gender bias in terms of how people perform in math. That means girls and boys do math just equally as well. The difference is that there aren't any role models. And also, there's a stigma. You know, girls often hear you can't do math. We had a Barbie doll at one time that said "math is hard." So there's socialization that causes girls to think that they can't do math, and that they lose confidence.

But that's the key. We need to have cool role models. And also, girls just go about projects differently. If we had them more collaborative, if there was more hands-on, and also if they thought the projects that they were working on had relevancy, girls would be all over engineering. If you go in and say engineering is your way to change the world, I think that's very different than, you know, than what people usually think is that, you know, I have to suffer through math. If you know that the math is important because it's going to help you create something, you're more willing to stick with it.

ROMANS: What's not happening in the classroom might be happening online, too, and with their friends, and they're using things that require these skills, so maybe that will help change things as well. Ainissa Ramirez, thank you so much. Nice to meet you.

RAMIREZ: Absolutely.

ROMANS: Thank you. The conversation continues online. Find us on Facebook and Twitter. Our handle is cnnbottomline. My handle is @christineromans. Now back to "CNN SATURDAY" for the latest headlines. Have a great weekend, everybody.