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Interview with Jorge Ramos; Marriage Bills Soar; Interview with Kevin Baker

Aired May 29, 2005 - 15:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: From New York City, America's financial capital, this is IN THE MONEY.


JACK CAFFERTY, HOST: Welcome to the program. I'm Jack Cafferty. Coming up on today's edition of IN THE MONEY:

Crossing the line. Learn how immigrants will risk everything for a future here in the United States. We'll talk to an author that traced one group's tragic journey from Mexico.

And that's enough about the filibuster, buster: Have you had it with partisan noise coming out of Washington yet? See if America is finally hitting political overload.

Also, skip the photographer: If you want to member that special day, don't worry. We'll look at how much some people will pay to get hitched. It is astronomical.

Joining me today, a couple of IN THE MONEY veterans, CNN correspondent, Susan Lisovicz; "Fortune" magazine editor at large Andy Serwer.

You know, it doesn't happen often, but we take hope where we can find it. Economic statistics this past week or so, income in this country actually exceeded spending for one of the few times in recent memory. And given all of the talk about the huge debt load that Americans are laboring under on a daily basis, is it possible to look at a number like that and say maybe, maybe, maybe there's a glimmer of us starting to think about living within our means?

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE": You know, there is some hope. I'll tell you, there's two schools of thought on Wall Street, right now. There's some people who think that the American consumer will keep on keeping on. That if there was a stock called the American Consumer Spending, you know, with buying high-end perfume, watches, jewelry, that would be great. On the other hand, there are people who think we're about to really hit the wall. There are no more tax cuts coming, no more re-fi's coming. So, who knows here? It may be an inflection.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, and I hate to be the barer of bad news, but we also, a few days ago, got yet another record before it on existing home sales and the following day another record on new home sales. So, if you're talking about spending on big ticket items, the biggest ticked item, we're still spending out there.

CAFFERTY: Right, people who are spending on buying homes are also making money in terms of the amount of equity they begin to acrew almost immediately because of the rising prices.

LISOVICZ: Right, and you did see, in terms of spending, taper off a couple reasons. One is, of course, oil prices which have started to come down now. That's good. But also the stock market. You know, the stock market was in the tank and that has recently started to improve.

CAFFERTY: Yeah, we've had a couple weeks of some encouragement on there.

SERWER: And we seen the state budgets doing a little bit better, too.

LISOVICZ: That's right and so confidence improves and people start spending again.

CAFFERTY: Sky is blue, go out and buy something.

One of the busiest sections of the U.S. workforce is also one of the least visible. It's driven forward by hope and it's held back by fear of discovery. We're talking about illegal immigrants. People so eager to work in the United States that they will risk even their lives in order to get here. And some of them, sadly, lose the gamble.

Journalist Jorge Ramos chronicled what he calls the worst immigrant tragedy in American history in his book titled, "Dying to Cross." He's with us from Miami to talk about immigration and reform and the growing Hispanic powerbase in America.

Jorge, it's a pleasure to have you back on IN THE MONEY. It's good to see you again.

JORGE RAMOS, AUTHOR: Thank you so much, great to be here.

CAFFERTY: The discussion about immigration inevitability gets divided into two sections: Illegal immigrants versus those who come here legally. And because of the fear of terrorism in this country, there is a growing agitation on the part of the American taxpayer that we, in the United States, are not doing enough to protect the borders of this country from the influx of illegal immigrants. They don't necessarily object, even, to many of the illegal immigrants who come here from Mexico. It's fear that people who could do bad things to us are coming across these porous borders. Before we go any farther, how would you solve the illegal immigration problem in this country?

RAMOS: We have to do three things right now. First, we have to provide legal status to 11 million illegal immigrants living in this country. If you don't want to do that for political or economic reasons, or for humanitarian reasons, I think we have to do it for national security reasons. It makes sense to know who is living in this country. Second, we have to negotiate an immigration agreement with Mexico to have an orderly and legal flow of immigrants coming to this country. They will keep coming as long as you have Mexicans making $5 a day in Mexico and jobs for them in the United States making exactly the same amount of money in 30 minutes or 40 minutes, they're going to keep on coming. And third, there has to be a huge investment between the United States and Europe and Latin America so in 20 or 30 years from now Latin Americans don't think of the United States as their only economic alternative. Those are the things that we have to do and nothing is being done at this point.

LISOVICZ: Jorge, one thing you didn't mention was the sleeping giant, and that is the growing Latino voter base in the U.S., just in the past month we had the second largest city electing a Hispanic mayor. We certainly know about their clout -- growing clout in Washington and big cities throughout the United States. That is something that could be tapped into.

RAMOS: Absolutely. For many, many years people thought of the Hispanic power -- Hispanic power as the sleeping giant. Well, guess what? The sleeping giant is awakening. Not only do we have a mayor in the second largest city of the United States, we have two senators for the first time in history: Ken Salazar from Colorado, and Mel Martinez from Florida. We have Latino governor, Bill Richardson Lopez, in New Mexico, and we have an attorney general, Alberto Gonzalez. So, what we're seeing is an incredible demographic revolution. Latinos are already the majority in cities like Miami and Los Angeles. In 20 or 30 years from now Latinos will be the majority in Texas and California and in 120 years from now, and I'm sorry to say none of us is going to be here, well, there will be more Hispanics than whites in this country. So, this is truly a democratic revolution and what is happening in Los Angeles is the best example of that.

CAFFERTY: Under the label "it's not just American politicians that say stupid things," the president of Mexico, Vicente Fox, came out the other day and made this absolutely moronic comment about Mexicans are willing to take jobs in this country that not even blacks want to do. So far, he's issued no apology for that. What's the affect of that kind of, what I would characterize as, irresponsible commentary?

RAMOS: And not only irresponsible comment, it's truly a racist comment. And it's not as the Mexican government presented it as an unfortunate remark. This is truly a racist comment, and President Vicente Fox, he has met with Reverend Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and he hasn't apologized publicly. It seems that the Mexican government is expecting that this is going to disappear, but it won't disappear. And the affect on immigration policy, especially in negotiations with the United States is terrible because it's come at a point in which when we have a bipartisan proposal in Congress by John McCain and Ted Kennedy and by the White House well, the Mexican government will have absolutely no influence whatsoever if President Fox does not apologize and it seems at this point that he won't apologize and he's just going to make matters much worse.

LISOVICZ: A bad situation worse. RAMOS: Absolutely.

LISOVICZ: And since most of the undocumented workers are coming from the Mexican border, obviously it's adding fuel to the fire. But Jorge, can you -- do you think that most Latinos can understand that while the U.S. does need more workers than it has to fill these low- level jobs, in particular, that it is putting a tremendous strain on the U.S., in particular, its health care?

RAMOS: Well, I mean, overall, in the most comprehensive study ever conducted about immigrants in this county by the National Academy of Science has concluded that all immigrants, both legal and undocumented, contribute $10 billion to the economy of the United States every sing year. So, yes, I do understand that it creates a lot of stress, it seems, in health care and education but overall, immigrants contribute much more to this country than what they take away in social programs and education and health care. And at the same time, let me just repeat the fact that as long as we have -- this has nothing to do with politics or with the law, the war against terrorism, it has everything to do with law of supply and demand, as long as you have workers in Mexico and Central America and Columbia, making $5 a day and for them, and jobs for them in the United States making exactly the same amount of money in just a few minutes, they're going to keep on coming. It doesn't matter what you do at the border.

CAFFERTY: You know, I owe you a small apology, Jorge. I neglected to mention at the beginning of our interview segment that you are probably more widely watched and well known than any of us on this program. You're an anchor on "Univison."

RAMOS: Maybe.

CAFFERTY: And that is the widely-watched Hispanic network. Nice to have you on the program. You were here once before, I enjoy the give and take and your perspective on the Latino situation. Thank you for being here today.

RAMOS: Thank you so much, gracias.

CAFFERTY: All right, when we come back:

Tuning out the blah, blah, blah, and we're not taking about this program. If you're sick of the partisan issues in Washington, is what we're talking about, you might not alone. We'll look at whether Americans still feel like they own their government.

Plus, betting on the future: You can argue about stem cell research or you can invest in. We'll see how shares in one company are doing as the government and Washington wrestles with federal funding of stem cell research.

Plus, tied to the hitching post: The cost of a big wedding, these days, can wipe out a newlywed couple's finances before they even get started. We'll find out just how much money some people are willing to pay.


CAFFERTY: If the word filibuster makes you turn the channel, you're not alone. Millions of Americans tuned out the recent debate on Capital Hill, they didn't care what filibuster was or why some politicians think it's important. I guess it is. Clearly, more and more people in this country are feeling disconnected from the political process and it shows in a recent CBS poll on approval ratings for Congress. Get this: 29 percent of Americans view lawmakers favorably. That's the lowest level since 1996. So, why are people so turned off?

Joining us to talk about this phenomenon is Kevin Baker, he's a novelist and historian who worked on a bestselling history book, "The American Century."

Kevin, welcome to the program.

KEVIN BAKER, HISTORIAN: Thanks for having me.

CAFFERTY: Help me out here, 29 percent of the people think Congress is doing a great job, that means, what is it, 71 percent don't think they're doing so hot. And yet every time there's an election all of the incumbents get re-elected.

BAKER: Yeah, it's an amazing phenomenon. Everybody hates every politician in the country except their own it seems.

SERWER: Hey, let me ask you, Kevin, one thing I think has been very problematic in Congress has been the TV cameras. The posturing that goes on is nauseating. Ladies and gentlemen, my colleague's a great senator from the great state of Maryland, blah, blah, blah. Why don't they stop that? I mean, I know it seems like kind of a small thing, but I really think that's problematic. Maybe you can have cameras there for history and show it later, but you know, it's just -- it's really bad.

BAKER: Yeah, I mean, that was the famous saying, right? That you -- politics was like sausage making, you didn't actually want to see it going on.


BAKER: But you might like the results.

CAFFERTY: Are the politicians down there aware of the low esteem in which they are held by the American public and the growing perception that our federal government is something that's bought and paid for hook, line, and sinker by the big corporations in this country and that the average citizen has absolutely nothing to say about what's going on in his government, his country, his social policies or any of the things that are supposed to matter and that are supposed to be looked after from the people that take money from the corporations and ignore the voters?

BAKER: I don't think it could be possibly put better. Whether they're aware of this or not, I don't know. The thing that amazes me is how little contact the average American politician has with people on the street on kind of a day-to-day basis. Particularly in districts that are considered safe, you know, I -- I mean, I can't tell you how infrequently I see people who represent me, for instance, in what is considered, I guess, a safe, you know, district on any level: Councilman, assemblymen, congressman, you just never see these people. Maybe occasionally on like the month of the election, but even then, and I think that's something that's really missing. They really need to kind get on, you know, onto the street again.

SERWER: But Kevin, we've seen those poll numbers and Jack was alluding to them, those are the symptoms. What are the implications? What does this mean for our country that people hate politicians, they think the process is bunk, they don't give a damn. What does it mean?

BAKER: Well, I think it's something very scary. I think people are very cynical about it, are very divided. I think it's like a lot of American institutions now, that people they don't like it, but they don't feel there's anything they can do about it and that's an essential feeling of powerlessness that doesn't really serve us well.

LISOVICZ: You know, it's interesting that even the so-called "mavericks" and bipartisan senators that appeared on national television the other night were really out of touch it seemed. I mean, one of them actually proclaimed the republic is saved. Just because they came to some sort of agreement...

SERWER: Get real!

LISOVICZ: ...that they wouldn't filibuster anymore after a year. They wouldn't filibuster on a certain handful of judges. I mean, doesn't that seem out of touch to you?

BAKER: Yeah, it is pretty grandiose, but of course, this is the sort of doomsday rhetoric we get more and more now. And I think part of this, too, is the fact that unfortunately god was brought so prominently into the debate. Once you start talking about god, you're kind of -- you know, it is one of the issues behind the judges, you start to get into very, you know, dangerous waters where people start to say that they're saving the universe and things like that.

CAFFERTY: What is it about people that they won't exercise the franchise to kick the bums out on the street where they belong? Not all of them, most of them, but not all.

BAKER: Yeah, I mean, that is the interesting thing. People just seem to feel like that their guy is terrific and they're going to stay with him for some reason or they simply don't care enough. I mean the voting turnout rates for local elections are just atrocious. You know? You know, they're approaching single figures in many races. You know, politics has been aloft as a real grassroots, on the street corner sort of thing in this country. You know, part of that was the passing of old political machines which is basically a good thing.

CAFFERTY: A lot of it's television, too.

BAKER: Yeah, which is, again, part of the kind of top down imposed idea of politics.


BAKER: Forty-five attack ads in your living room.

CAFFERTY: Exactly.

SERWER: Yeah. Kevin, just a quick last question. What would you do? What would you do to fix this?

BAKER: What would I do to fix it? I would ban all TV advertising for politics it would force people to get down to the grassroots level and, you know, and kind of rely on turning out people.

LISOVICZ: CNN would be out of business.

BAKER: Yeah.


BAKER: Well, not the answer you'd want to hear.

SERWER: Bite your tongue, Kevin. All right, it may be a good idea actually; some of those ads are pretty ridiculous.

All right, Kevin Baker, novelist and historian. Thank you for coming on IN THE MONEY.

BAKER: Thank you.

SERWER: Coming up after the break:

The investment that is smaller than the eye can see: We'll look at a company that's doing stem cell research and see how the stock is performing.

Also ahead, rancho del prez: George W. Bush's Crawford retreat is just the latest in presidential get aways. Find out where presidents go when they want to get lost.

And, the difference between trusting the bank and trusting the bankers:'s Allen Wastler's looks at the recent identity theft scam.


LISOVICZ: Now, let's take a look at the week's top stories in our "Money Minute." The U.S. Economy seems to be heating up. The government says the gross domestic product grew faster than originally thought for the first three months of this year. And orders for durable goods rose 1.9 percent in April, the most since last November.

Big changes on the way for GM. Top Wall Street analysts are betting GM will soon begin a major reskructuring especially at the GMAC financing division. And another sign of leaner times, GM is reportedly asking its retiring executives to help out by offering their vehicle discounts to other people in hopes of drumming up new sales.

And there could be help for Enron employees who lost their retirement savings when the company collapsed. A federal judge has approved a $69 million settlement for 20,000 former workers. The average check would be about $3,500.

SERWER: All right, this week the House of Representatives passed a bill to allow taxpayer founded stem cell research. This bill is not expected to survive President Bush's promised veto, but some investors think it is a good time to invest in biotech companies specializing in stem cell research. ViaCell is one of the largest of those U.S. companies, even though it just started trading this year. Almost all of these companies got a quick boost after the House bill, but things started to settle back down at the end of the week. That makes ViaCell our "Stock of the Week."

That stock was up 20 percent on Thursday because of this news. It's such a mixed bag. I'm not sure what people were smoking down because if you're saying the president is probably going to veto this stuff, you got Geron, you got Astrum, a bunch of these other companies, it's very, very speculative, though. Their little two, three, $5 stocks have been up, they've been down. It's very nascent at this point.

LISOVICZ: But, Congress may still be able to override the president's veto.

SERWER: No, that's very much in question.

LISOVICZ: And the interest remains high, it's not going away. But again, you're talking about biotechs, very risky, not all of them will survive, there's a handful of them better known names and certainly all of them won't survive.

CAFFERTY: Another distinct that maybe is important to be point out in that piece of legislation down there in the House of Representative is that they're talking about federal funding for stem cell research. There's a lot of private funding that's going on. President Bush takes issue with using taxpayer dollars to fund this stuff, but there are research projects underway all over the country and around the world, for that matter, and somewhere in these companies is the next Microsoft, perhaps, because when they do the breakthrough, when they say, we can grow replacement kidney, we can grow a new liver, we can, you know, fix the macular degeneration by putting a couple of new -- when that happens, you know, somewhere in there will area going to be huge, huge returns, but there'll be a lot of failures, a lot of losses along the way.

LISOVICZ: Which company is...


SERWER: But I think you hit on something important there, Jack, when you started talking about Europe and places around the world, because as we fiddle and diddle and argue about this issue it is going on in places like Europe and China and India and we could be falling behind here which really kind of adds to the debate, you know, because it's economic, as wall as political, as well as social issue. You know, it comes back to one of those issues like abortion for many people which is very, very much of a lightning rod. So, you know, it's interesting to see whether this is going to tie the scientists hands here, but again, it really depends on where you come out on, I guess, the social part of this problem.

CAFFERTY: And if American stem cell companies aren't speculative enough for you, maybe look at the South Korean stem cell research or an Indian stem cell research company. I mean...

SERWER: And there will be people doing that.

CAFFERTY: Risky stuff, though, but big return if you hit it.

SERWER: Yep, indeed. Coming up on IN THE MONEY:

Presidential palaces: We'll find out about the homes where some U.S. leaders have gone to get away from it all.

Plus, getting hitched today, like there's no tomorrow: See how lavish weddings can lead to debt that'll be around for a while.

And spot the real deal: See if you can tell a fake smile from the genuine article on our "Fun Site of the Week."


LISCOVICZ: It's Memorial Day weekend and you think you need a vacation? Try living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. American presidents have been escaping the stressful halls of the west wing for years, centuries even. From Washington's Mt. Vernon to Bush's Crawford ranch, nearly every American president has had a hideaway. Some chose a quiet cottage, a ranch. Others took very public trip trips filled with photographers.

Our next guest says presidential vacations say a lot about the man in the office. Kenneth Walsh is the author of the new book "From Mount Vernon to Crawford." A history of the presidents and their retreats. Welcome to the program.


LISCOVICZ: What a great idea for a book. How much you can tell really just from where the man chose to spend his private time. I think the one most touching for me Kenneth was F.D.R. who went to Warm Springs, Georgia, and a place that is certainly not a very hot place in term of chic getaways. There was a reason for that. Can you tell us?

WALSH: Absolutely. Franklin Roosevelt of course was an American aristocrat. Had all the money he needed to go anywhere he wanted to. He contracted polio in his late 30s. And had polio -- and his legs were paralyzed. When he was president, he was trying to find a place to go where he could take some therapy and get some recuperation. He could have afforded to go anywhere. He found this rather ramshackle health spa in Warm Springs, Georgia, where the waters did make him feel better.

The reason he went there so often -- as you say, it's a very poignant story is partly because he helped inspire and motivate a lot of the other polio patients who were there. They saw the president there, undergoing the same kind of therapies they were going through, persevering, trying to get better, and they were inspired by this and Roosevelt understood that. Many of the patients that were


WALSH: That got into the discipline of therapy.

SERWER: Ken is there anything we can take away from the presidents and where they go and how much time they spend there at these retreats? I remember Nixon used to get all balled up and then he'd go out to the Kevisca (ph) and hang out with B.B. Revoso (ph) to feel better.

WALSH: Exactly, well President Bush is going to his ranch again this coming Thursday for a long weekend. He's been away for more than 300 days at the ranch in about 4 1/2 years as president. Which you think that's a long time. But for presidents, it's really not. Eisenhower was away for a full year of his presidency. And in the five-year period to his farm at Gettysburg. The farm wasn't ready as soon as he took office.

Reagan was at his ranch for a full year. Franklin Roosevelt was at Hyde Park for more than 550 days. And Warm Springs for 175 days. So this goes actually back to George Washington who escaped to Mount Vernon, which people can still see these days in northern Virginia, to get away. The presidents just have this desperate need -- they try so hard to get to White House and once they get there, they're desperate to get away from the place. But they just want some sense of normalcy.

It's actually sort of an poignant thought, that these public men who have so much power just feel they live abnormal and strange lives. They have to get a place that grounds them. That tends to be places they're familiar with, their homes and hideaways they've used for a number of years.

CAFFERTY: Nevertheless there's a perception among the American public that presidents who spend too much time at the vacation house are slacking off on the job and not getting the public work accomplished. Are there examples where being away from the White House at these so-called presidential retreats has actually done harm to a president's political career?

WALSH: There is -- there are cases of that. Most Americans, I think throughout our history, understood that the presidency is a very difficult judge and they don't grudge the president's time away. But there have been cases where presidents have over done it. John Adams, our second president went to Quincy, Massachusetts, home, for really too much time. In one of years as president, he was away there for eight months.


WALSH: His critics in Washington said he's loafing, he is abandoning the office, and they took advantage of it and started to take over the functions of government because the president was gone. That's one case. Another was President Bush's father, George Herbert Walker Bush who went to Kennebunkport, his lovely estate up in Maine. And he went up there during a recession. You recall a lot of Americans and lot of Democrats criticized him for riding a speedboat and for taking time off.

He insisted he could run the government from up there. He really could. I think this insensivity image is what hurt him. And it was part of the whole image he had of sort of not being in tune with the country.

LISCOVICZ: Kenneth, I think conservatives call that place Mecca; by the way, it's not Kennebunkport. I've seen it it's pretty lavish. But you know it is interesting some of the presidents, like, for instance, President Reagan and G.W. Bush, they like it very simple. In fact, at the Reagan ranch there was no air-conditioning or heat. But LBJ was a complete contrast to that. He liked the trappings of the office when he traveled.

WALSH: He did and with LBJ you know we hear stories about his incredible ego. When you go down to the LBJ ranch, and you saw the full breath-taking range of his ego. Because everything was about him. He'd have people fly down from Washington and he'd have people sort of hanging out on his property, waiting for the president to tell them to do something. One of the more interesting stories is that he would take people out on tours of the ranch in this big convertible and he'd have a little bar in there and they could have drinks and they'd have beers and throw the beer cans off to the side.

And he would ride these cars into gullies and across ravines and he'd order the secret service to have it repaired for the next day so he could be ready to do it again. There was one other interesting story, he had an amphibious car which actually floated in the water and he would drive this car to the edge of Lake LBJ or the river, have it go downhill, then he'd shout out "the brakes won't hold" that end the people in the car would be terrified, they'd splash into the water. And then the president would say, "No, she can float." So he'd just -- everything -- and his humor was at other people's expense.

LISCOVICZ: Our taxpayers' expense, too, our tax dollars hard at work. Kenneth T. Walsh is the author of "From Mount Vernon to Crawford" a history of the presidents and their retreats. Fascinating, enjoyed having you, thanks.

WALSH: Nice to be with you.

LISCOVICZ: There is a lot more to come here on IN THE MONEY. Up next, marry in glitz and repent at leisure. Weddings have gone from hook up to blow out. We'll tell you how high the cost can get these days. And ladies and gentleman start your shredders, there's another big identity theft case in the news. Allen Wastler of will have a hook at what went wrong this time.


SERWER: It's one of the biggest days and biggest bills of your life. A new survey by the Fairchild Bridal Group puts the average cost of a wedding this year above $26,000 bucks. Our next guest says many parts of the country, that number is low. Here with more is Rosie Amodio executive director at The Knot. Welcome Rosie.


SERWER: I'm interested, you heard about the cost of weddings phenomenon going up the past couple of years. It doesn't show and signs of abating does it?

AMODIO: No, not at all. In fact we are finding weddings are becoming bigger and bigger event. We're using a phrase called the marathon wedding, which is just several-days of parties and having lots fun.

LISCOVICZ: And one of the interesting things is that because people are getting married later in life, they're picking up more of the expense and they're doing it even more lavishly. Who would have thunk?

AMODIO: Absolutely. I mean I think the average age is 27 for women, 29 for men, which is up significantly from 20 years ago. We're finding it's no longer about the mother and father of the bride paying for the wedding. Couples are contributing up to like 70 percent of couples are contributing to their wedding.

CAFFERTY: I've got four daughters --

AMODIO: So you like the new trend --

CAFFERTY: I've got a vested interest in this conversation. Two of them are married. So we've got two. There's still a 50 percent divorce rate in this country. One out of two of these things ain't going to make it. What is it that drives people to think if they blow $100 grand of mommy and daddy's money they somehow got a leg up on the divorce statistics?

AMODIO: Well, I'm not sure about that. But I definitely think that a wedding is -- especially for women it's the biggest day of their lives. And they're not thinking about the divorce rate. They're thinking this is beginning my new life. Lets have a great big party.

CAFFERTY: How much of that is the result though of the marketing that is done by people who plan and sell big weddings to wide-eyed and romantic young kids who don't know any better?

AMODIO: You make it sound so terrible. CAFFERTY: It is terrible.

SERWER: Rosie's wedding was terrific, by the way, she just got married.

CAFFERTY: I've been married twice. One of them worked, one of them didn't, and neither one cost more than $5 grand, but that's another story --

SERWER: That is why the first one didn't work.

CAFFERTY: To me and I'm old-fashioned. Like I said, I got four girls. It is absolutely a waste of money to spend and spend and spend on a wedding when you can be buying a house --

AMODIO: But that's -- I sort of disagree, because I'm -- honestly, personally, I just got married a few months ago. For me, it was something I dreamed of since I was a little girl and I wanted to have my princess wedding.

CAFFERTY: How's it working out for you so far?

AMODIO: It's going well. Let's hope I'm the good one of the two.

SERWER: Jack definitely has an ax to grind here, a couple marriages, four daughters, there's stuff going on. He has issues here, obviously.

CAFFERTY: That's right.

SERWER: Issues. But let me ask you about what about all celebrity weddings? These things crack me up. You know "The Bachelorette," "The Bachelor," you know, wedding TV. What's going on with the reality stuff, isn't that playing a big part?

AMODIO: Yes absolutely. I mean we think that a lot of why people are spending so much more money on their weddings is they see celebrities are everywhere. You know they see Nick and Jessica's wedding and they have a certain kind of cake and you want to have the same kind of cake and these come with a high price tag. So I think celebrities are definitely influencing the increase in spending.

SERWER: You're someone who studies this stuff. So what did you do and what worked?

AMODIO: Well, I started planning before I was at The Knot. So I started planning the whole thing -- actually it was a little stressful was seeing all these real weddings and all these other people getting married, saying, they're doing these fabulous thing, I have to do something better. I feel even just for the ordinary bride that's a lot influence, too. You see your friend's wedding and Jack's four daughters; each one has to build on the previous wedding. Wait until that last one --

LISCOVICZ: That's it. CAFFERTY: Was there any point, as you were leading up to this day, that you said to yourself, you know what, I'm spending too much money here?

AMODIO: Oh, every day. But it was really beautiful.

LISCOVICZ: Did you get a lot of nice gifts?

AMODIO: I did get a lot of nice gifts. And it was just -- you know what too, I did -- like my advice to brides is the week before you've done everything you can and have fun. Because I think what happens is a lot of people start stressing about the money they're spending and is there some debt and not having a good time and you really just have to be like, this is what I planned, and have fun with it.

SERWER: You just need a checkbook.

CAFFERTY: The other --

LISCOVICZ: And a good credit rating.

CAFFERTY: The other approach you can take to this is elopement. I'm not sure there's any significant --

LISCOVICZ: Jack, you're trying so hard.

CAFFERTY: No difference between the divorce rates of those who elope and those who blow all the money on the great big wed. Are you listening? Elopement. Look it up, it's a good word.

LISCOVICZ: And on that, we're going to leave it at that happy romantic note. Rosie Amodio blushing bride and executive editor of "The Knot." Thank you so much for joining us.

AMODIO: Sure thanks.

LISCOVICZ: And we have an announcement of our own. Because our hard-working producer Joanna Degaronamo (ph) is tying the knot herself next weekend. And Jack, Andy and I want to thank you for planning your wedding, keeping a cool head --

SERWER: And putting up with us.

LISCOVICZ: Putting up with us. Thank you Joanna and congratulations. Good luck.

Coming up after the break, smile like you mean it, stranger. We'll show you a website where you can guess which smiley face is on the level. And if something on our show today made you grin or grimace, write and tell us about. The e-mail address is

But first this week's "Money and Family."

Make the most of your patio furniture this summer. We'll tell you how to lounge in style for less. Clean the spots off concrete by spraying the area with liquid chlorine bleach, wait five minute and rinse. Don't mix with anything but water. Protect your grill without spending a penny. Fold an old environmental table close in half and sew up the side. You now have an outdoor barbecue grill cover. Get the fire started. Fill an empty egg carton with a dozen briquettes, one in each department. Squirt each briquette with lighter fluid, close the lid and carefully light the container. Remember this is a job for an adult only.

With a stiff brush, give a warm saltwater scrubbing to wicker furniture. Let the furniture dry in the sun, this extends the life of wicker furniture and baskets and can save you big bucks for many summers to come.

I'm Susan Lisovicz for "Money & Family."


CAFFERTY: Over the years, you may have noticed that managing editor Allen Wastler is good at finding the good news in the bad and vice versa. To highlight that unique ability or disability, depending on your point of view, we've come up with a fancy name for Allen's segment. We'll call it "Inside Out." Today Allen wants to talk about identity theft and why it's not really your fault if some yahoo! from Slovenia gets away with your Social Security number. "Inside Out" I like that.

ALLEN WASTLER, MONEY.COM: You like that? That's very good. Now think about this in the latest rash of I.D. thefts we've had, the latest one was Wachovia, b of a, it turns out some of the employees were selling your profile to various collection agencies. Before that, they were in another one. Then of course, then there was choicepoint. Choice point is like oh we sold them to the wrong people. Then you had Lexusnexus, you had Ameritrade, and you had DSW -- a shoe store.

Our very own beloved Time Warner oops, we lost the box. Where's the box, don't know. Now in all this, all this identity theft, everybody thought the problem would be the Internet. And it's not. It's just your very own files and employees, the same people who have been around all the time.

Don't worry about the Internet so much, go ahead and spend on your credit card. Now worrying about identity theft with the other stuff, well big business now is responsible for losing all these profiles. Hmm, who's going fix it? Well, it's certainly not going to be big business. So then what we'll see is the age of the lawsuit, come in, and start seeing all these class actions against people losing your identity theft. And if anything has proven effective against big business to turn around and start guarding against the problem and fixing it, it's been class action. Don't worry, everything's fine.

LISCOVICZ: Get your lawyer on the case.

WASTLER: Eventually you'll collect some money.

CAFFERTY: I like that. I feel better already.

SERWER: Where do I sign up?

WASTLER: I'm glad I was able --

SERWER: How much money do I get?

CAFFERTY: What about the fun site of the week?

WASTLER: Oh, found it, the producing crew found an interesting one here, courtesy of the BBC. Let's see if you can determine a fake smile from a real smile. OK, run the video.


WASTLER: Susan, you say fake?

CAFFERTY: That looks real.

WASTLER: Jack, real. Andy?

SERWER: I thought it was real.

WASTLER: With teeth like that, it's got to be a genuine smile. I think the guy' English. Remember, we said BBC.

CAFFERTY: You know how I was able to get that one right, 40 year of watching television executives, you're able to spot a phony smile a mile away.

WASTLER: How about this lady, what do you think?

LISCOVICZ: Is that a smile?

SERWER: Phony.

WASTLER: Sorry guys, that's real.

SERWER: That was real?


LISCOVICZ: She didn't really commit.


WASTLER: OK here is the final one. Now, i had a problem on this one too. I couldn't tell if it was a guy or a girl.

CAFFERTY: That is a problem.

SERWER: It's disqualified.

CAFFERTY: I don't know.

WASTLER: Come on, 50/50 shot. CAFFERTY: Phony.

WASTLER: Phony. Definitely phony.

SERWER: All right so we are two out of three.

WASTLER: That's only two out of three. There's 20 on the site, go check it out; it is really amazing it's fun to watch.

LISCOVICZ: Put Jack on there.

SERWER: Was that a boy or a girl --

LISCOVICZ: What about Jack's smile?

CAFFERTY: Thanks, Allen. Coming up next on IN THE MONEY, time to hear from you as we read some of your e-mail from the past week. And you can send us an e-mail right now address it to


CAFFERTY: It's time now to read your answers to our question about whether women should be allowed to fight in front-line combat in the U.S. Military.

Sergeant Hattie Lange wrote to us with this, "The problem with your question is there is no front line anymore. The attacks can come from any place at any time. A lot of women soldiers have already been killed in combat situations and this question belittles their memory."

Believe me sergeant that was never our intent.

Jonathan wrote this, " I think we should allow women to have full equality in the armed forces. The women who volunteer for service are just as capable and are usually smaller in stature than the men. Why the army would reject fighters with a greater ability to conceal themselves confuses me."

And Mike in Illinois wrote, " The problem with having women in combat isn't the women it's the men. I spent 10 years on active duty and my experience was that male soldiers were unable to act rationally in cases where women were hurt or captured. This says more about American culture than anything else."

It's time now for next week's email question of the week, which is this, "Is the rising cost of real estate pricing you out your chosen neighborhood?" Send your answer to And you should also visit our show page at which is where you will find the address of our fun site of the week. Check out those phony smiles.

Meantime thanks for joining us for this edition of the program. My thanks to CNN correspondent Susan Liscovicz. "Fortune" magazine editor at large Andy Serwer. And managing editor Allen Wastler. Join us next week, Saturday at 1:00 Eastern, Sunday at 3:00. Or you can catch Andy and me all week long on "AMERICAN MORNING" which gets under way at 7:00 Eastern time Monday through Friday. Until then, enjoy the rest of your week.


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