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How Your Tax Dollars Are Being Spent as Part of Stimulus Money; How Obama's Health Care Reform Would Affect You; Stock Market Numbers Increasing Ever So Slightly; Paying Money to Take Naps

Aired July 25, 2009 - 13:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: President Obama says health care reform is vital to economic recovery. But, will opposition from his own party ultimately doom landmark legislation?

I'm Christine Romans. Welcome to "YOUR MONEY." Ali Velshi is off this week.

In the next hour we're following your tax dollars. We're going to show you exactly where the $787 billion in stimulus money is being spent.

Plus, we'll find out if the surging stock market is a mirage or maybe a sign that we've come back from the brink of financial collapse.

But, first, we begin with the president's battle to reform health care. He made his case before the American people this week.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we do not reform health care, your premiums and out-of-pocket costs will continue to skyrocket. If we don't act, 14,000 Americans will continue to lose their health insurance every single day. These are the consequences of inaction. These are the stakes of the debate that we're having right now.


ROMANS: How will he pay for the massive overhaul? Where are the details? Former New York Mayor and Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani insists Americans were left with more questions than answers.


RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The cost of health care is going to go up over the next five to 10 years. When you add the trillions of dollars that he's spending, inflation alone is going to drive it up. So, I mean, I think that's why even his own Democrats -- he's got so many Democrats that don't support this. He's not telling the American people really how it's going to operate. And I think they left the press conference last night with more questions than they had before.


ROMANS: So, did the president succeed in making the case for health care reform? Let's pose that question to Jamal Simmons, Democratic strategist with the Raben Group; and Steven Moore, editorial writer for "The Wall Street Journal."

Jamal, let me start with you.

Did he sell you on the need and the urgency for this plan?

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, THE RABEN GROUP: Well, you know, I was sold before he started talking. So, let's just be serious.

ROMANS: The president had you at hello, didn't he?

SIMMONS: He had me at hello.

I do think he did a good job. One of the reasons why people voted for Barack Obama and the reason why his poll ratings don't stay above 50, 55 percent is because they trust him and they think he's smart. And the one thing that he did do at that press conference is he showed off his brain and he sort of established that he's still the person who's speaking straight to the American people on this issue.

You know, Rudy Giuliani just said that costs are going to go up under the plan. Well, you know what, costs are going to go up anyway. Right now we're spending about $2.5 trillion on health care. That's going to go to $7 trillion in 2025 if we do nothing at all. So the president wants to get this done so we can try to save some of that money and get it out of American's pockets.

ROMANS: But Stephen Moore, the president had an unscripted remark in that press conference that was pretty interesting. He said, look, if you want a plan that's going to guarantee more people uninsured, it's going to guarantee higher costs it's going to guarantee more suffering for people and not necessarily better care. We've got that plan, it's the status quo.

STEPHEN MOORE, EDITORIAL WRITER, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": Yes, Christine, I think the problem the president has right now, though, that despite what Jamal said, that public opinion polling shows that continued decline in support for this plan.

It's as if the more Americans get to know what's actually in this bill -- and by the way, this is a 1,200-page bill, so a lot of us still don't know what's in it. But the more we kind of start to glean what's in it, support is eroding.

I think one of the biggest problems is the way they pay for this trillion dollar bill is mostly on the backs of small businesses. And, you know, my line on this is that if we pass this bill, everybody's going to have health care, but nobody's going to have a job.

ROMANS: Well, that's interesting. I want to listen to something else the president said in that press conference, talking a little bit about the politics. He's talking about the politics on the other side of the aisle.

Listen to this.


OBAMA: I've heard that one Republican strategist told his party that even though they may want to compromise, it's better politics to go for the kill. Another Republican senator, that defeating health care reform ask about breaking me. So, let me be clear. This isn't about me. I have great health insurance. And so does every member of Congress.


ROMANS: But, Jamal, what's the problem here? Is the problem here roadblocks or opposition from the Republicans? Is the problem here that he's getting pushback from his own party about what this is going to look like and what kind of timeline there's going to be to get this thing done?

SIMMONS: You know, health care isn't just for Democrats. It's going to be for Republicans also. So, I mean, there are 14,000 Americans who lose their health care every single day. Some are those people are Democrats, some of those Republicans.

The Republicans have responsibility to get in the game and try to figure out how to help solve this problem just as much as the Democrats. Of course, the president has to convince Democrats to go along with it, but this shouldn't just be a one-party bill. This should be a bipartisan piece of legislation, and frankly, it's a little discouraging that Republicans would rather play politics and try to disable the president when we have this big crisis then to try to figure out how to fix this problem.

ROMANS: Well, I don't know, Stephen, it sounds like everyone is playing a little bit of politics here. This is a big, huge undertaking with a lot of different constituencies who have different viewpoints on how it should be done.

MOORE: Yes. Look, I'm all for bipartisanship. I think there is a bipartisan solution to this, Jamal. But this health care bill is being handled exactly, Christine, like the stimulus bill was done and the cap and trade bill.

SIMMONS: That's not true.

MOORE: Democrats only, Republicans are out of the process. None of the Republican ideas are in this bill. And that's, I think, the reason that it's become so bifurcated.

You know, Republicans said, look, if we're not at the table, why in the world would we vote for this? There are ways to of doing this that would, I think, ensure -- the main thing is to ensure the people who don't have insurance. But you don't have to screw up the entire health care system for people. Look, Christine, most people who have health care, which is the vast majority of Americans, like the insurance they have right now and they're very nervous about losing it.


ROMANS: Go ahead Jamal.

SIMMONS: Well, according to the president's plan, what they want to maintain people's quality, and maybe even improve quality, keep costs down, and allow people to have choice and keep their own plans if they want it.

Now, you just said that Republicans didn't have a chance to participate in this bill. The president mentioned the other night, one of the bills moving through Congress had 160 amendments from Republicans that have been considered. So, I mean, you can't say Republicans don't have a chance.

MOORE: They've been considered, but they've all been voted down by the Democratic Congress.

SIMMONS: Well maybe they were bad ideas.

MOORE: So how is that bipartisan?


SIMMONS: Maybe they were bad ideas. But that doesn't mean they don't have a chance to participate in the process. They certainly do.

MOORE: But, you know, Christine, at this point, you know, we're coming sort of the fourth inning of this. It's not going to happen before the August recess.

ROMANS: Right.

MOORE: They're going to go back. And I think the Democrats are going to have to get this done. And I do think there will be a bill this year, but I think it has to move more to the center. And it cannot put all the costs on small businesses, because small businesses are the backbone of our economy.

SIMMONS: I agree with that.

MOORE: And it has to be a system that also constrains costs. And, Jamal, I agree with you, we have to do it. I just don't think this bill -- look, for example, there's no medical malpractice insurance reform in a 1,200-page bill and everyone knows that's a good way to control health care costs.

ROMANS: All right. And health care costs is something that we still continue to worry about and talk about how it will be affected here. And there's still a feeling that we haven't gotten control over that quite yet either.

Gentlemen, we're going to leave it right there. Stephen Moore, "Wall Street Journal;" Jamal Simmons, Democratic strategist.

Thank you so much for joining us. And we'll be talking about this again.

SIMMONS: Have a great weekend.

MOORE: Thank you.

ROMANS: I can guarantee it. Have a great weekend.

SIMMONS: Take care.

ROMANS: The debate over health care reform happening all over the country, probably even at your dinner table. But what exactly is everyone arguing about? Here's what's at stake -- projections estimate that by next year, 164 million of you will get your health insurance from work, through your job. 81 million from Medicare or Medicaid. 14 million of you will buy insurance on your own. And 49 million of you, and counting, won't have coverage.

The Democrats want to cover the uninsured but also preserve the employer-based health care system. Now, the exact plan, the details, still in flux. But we're going to break it down, what we know, how we're going to explain how it could affect your doctor visit and your monthly budget.

Jeanne Sahadi, our good friend and senior writer at is here.

Jeanne, if you get health insurance through your job, through work, not a lot is going to change for you in the very beginning if this plan happens.

JEANNE SAHADI, SENIOR WRITER, CNNMONEY.COM: Right. There's the near term and the long term for people, which is called the ESI.

In the near term, premiums are not expected to go down measurably. It's unlikely your employer is going to drop you into the public exchange that they want to create, a national insurance exchange supermarket.

What could happen, though, is that within five years, all insurance plans, those from employers, those on the exchange, will have to conform to certain regulations. What you'll hear President Obama said this week, what Nancy Pelosi said this week was, you will have your out-of-pocket costs annually capped. You will have the cap on lifetime benefits from a plan removed. You will be guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions.

So that could help somebody with employer-sponsored insurance today, because it means a couple of things. Within five years -- and really, we're talking 2018, because this won't get under way until 2013, you might see a reduction in your out-of-pocket costs if that cap soon applies. You also might be freer to leave your job, because right now if you leave your job, like, ooh, how am I going to get insurance especially have a pre-existing condition? Now, you know there are going to be some options out there for you.

ROMANS: And this is most people at this point. Most people still have the coverage through their jobs. You also point out you could pay a tax. You don't have to pay a tax on the benefit right now that you get from your job. That could be on the table.

SAHADI: A couple of different things on that. We don't know what the pay-fors will be. The House bill that everybody is talking about has a surtax on the wealthy. The threshold for that was couples making $350,000 or more. Nancy -- the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to push it up to $500,000. We don't know what will happen there. The Senate Finance Committee has yet to put out its proposals. The leading idea had been to tax your benefits at work which are currently tax free.

ROMANS: Right.

SAHADI: The portion your employer pays. Don't know what's going to happen there.

And now there's a competing idea coming out to tax insurance companies and employers who provide these Cadillac plans. But that could get passed down to you by way of costs. Who knows.

ROMANS: Of course.

Let's talk about the people who buy their own insurance. What does it mean for people -- the Democrats' health care proposals -- for people who buy their own health insurance?

SAHADI: In the near term it could be a benefit for them because it's very expensive to buy on your own in the individual market. Those folks will be immediately eligible to go into the exchange when it opens. And the idea of the exchange is you have a lot of different plans competing with each other for your business. So -- and also, if they're very low income, they can qualify for a subsidy.


SAHADI: The subsidy is if your income takes you to 400 percent of poverty level. So, that's another potential.

ROMANS: Let's talk about the people who don't have insurance -- the 49 million projected for next year.

SAHADI: They benefit the most.

ROMANS: They get the most out of all of this?

SAHADI: Right. There's going to be a mandate to buy insurance so they will have that. But again, if they're low income, they can't afford it now, they will be subsidized to buy it. They will have more choice and plans than they do now. They will have all those protections that will immediately apply to plans in the exchange, you know, guaranteed coverage if you have a pre-existing condition, they can't toss you out of a plan if you get sick. ROMANS: sure.

SAHADI: That kind of thing.

ROMANS: All of this still in flux, of course.


ROMANS: And there's two tracks, I keep saying. There's what's your health care going to look like, but then also, how we're going to pay for it. So, two different kinds of -- very complicated and political discussions going on.

Jeanne Sahadi. Thanks so much, Jeanne.

SAHADI: Thank you.

ROMANS: The federal government paying $5 million for turkey meat. On the surface it looks silly. We'll tell you what it's really all about. Find out what Uncle Sam's doing with your stimulus money.


ROMANS: Never has more money been pledged to stimulate the economy in such a wide array of projects. Your stimulus money is starting to flow around the country. More than 10 percent of it is already out the door. Now, you can track it yourself at the government's website following the stimulus, that's

But here's a taste, just a little taste, on what you're spending money for. $9,034 in Washington, D.C., on office chairs. That's office chairs contracted by the Department of Labor. They're setting up an office for up to 20 people. These chairs usually retail about $1,100 apiece, but that's just one small contract your stimulus money going for office equipment at the Department of Labor.

Now Wisconsin, here is one project, almost $200,000 for a bathroom remodel and door replacement. That's what the contract says. We called, dug into it. This is four bathrooms for a forest service office space. The company doing that project says it's been able avoid laying off employees because of this contract. It has 20 people working full time on this $200,000 project.

Next door in Minnesota -- this one caught our eye -- look at this. $5.3 million for Jennie-O turkey. That's right, your tax dollars for turkey. The Department of Agriculture says that turkey is going to food banks and soup kitchens. It's actually part of $100 million in emergency food aid that's meant to combat the recession. Right now a lot more food including pork and mozzarella -- 800,000 pounds of mozzarella -- all being paid by your tax dollars to go to soup kitchens.

Now, here's by far is the biggest single contract on here. Look at this. You can see this for yourself at It is in Washington, the state. More than $1 billion for clean up a nuclear waste site. It's the Hanford site. The Department of Energy says this contract is putting 832 people to work.

That is just a snapshot of your stimulus money at work.

But is this how your stimulus dollars should be spent? Is this a good use of your money? These are a few examples.

Republican Congressman John Campbell of California; and Democrat Robert Andrews of New Jersey join us from Washington.

Thanks for joining us, sir -- gentlemen, I should say.

Let me ask you first, in New Jersey, what kind of contracts are you seeing doing there? Are they going to create jobs, and is it good for your state?

REP. ROBERT ANDREWS (D), NEW JERSEY: I think it is good. There's a highway that runs right through my district that is pockmarked. A lot of the bridges need repair. And people working today on that project. I think it's going to solve some major traffic problems and create some good jobs. So, I think it's what we should be doing.

ROMANS: Congressman Campbell, let me ask you about -- I guess -- some of the blowback for some of these projects. When you go looking through the web site -- or .gov web site and you see some of these projects, $9,000 for office chairs, stirring up a little bit of debate about whether this should have just been regular appropriations.

Why is this particularly stimulus? You can see bridge-painting contracts, for example, that haven't gotten exactly up to speed yet. Is it stimulating all of these projects, or do some stimulate more than others?

REP. JOHN CAMPBELL (R), CALIFORNIA: No, I don't think it is stimulating. And most of this, as you just suggested, in my view, should have gone through the regular appropriations process. There are many of these things that are welfare programs, transfer payments, bureaucracy things, you know, bathrooms, whatever, things for bureaucracy.

And that's great, we can discuss whether we should be spending money on that stuff or not. But to say it's stimulating the economy -- because it's just not. Because there's no multiplier effect. What would have been simulative is if only 3 percent of this was infrastructure-type projects, only 3 percent of the spending.

Had more of it been that, when you build a road or you create wireless internet or put in a bridge, then you create additional jobs than just building that because the private sector uses that infrastructure to create more jobs. And that's what we should have been doing. But this -- this so-called stimulus didn't do that, and in my opinion is actually going to harm the economy, because all the borrowing we're having to do to pay for it.

ROMANS: Congressman Andrews, let me ask you about the infrastructure part of all of this. Because there are Democrats, too, and Democratic economists and progressive and left-leaning economists who have said we need another stimulus and it needs to be focused on infrastructure.

Would you use that argument to say we even need more stimulus and we should do a big infrastructure package?

ANDREWS: I don't think we should do a second one. I think we should give this one a chance to work and put people to work. You know, there's money that's not yet been spent because we want to spend it carefully. I hate to hear these examples of expensive office chairs and all. That's not supposed to happen and it's our responsibility to make sure it doesn't happen.

ROMANS: Those chairs retail for $1,100 and it looks to me by my math, it means the government got them for $400 and some. So they got them for better than retail.

ANDREWS: Well, we should do better than that. And let me say this to you. There's money, for example, to try to make the grid smarter. So if someone builds a windmill, they can get the electrical power from the windmill site to the utility company. That's money that's going to be spent. I think it makes sense.

There's people that are going to close on buying a home this week that are going to get an $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit that's helping to bring back the residential real estate market. And I think that what you'll begin to see is that over time -- it's not soon enough as far as I'm concerned -- you will see over time people go back to work, more companies prosper and more opportunities for the American people. I think it's going to work.

ROMANS: Congressman Campbell, let me ask you about waste because there's been a lot of concern just the size of this project. We have never undertaken something like this before. We know there's government waste and abuse in contracting in all kind of different areas.

Are you concerned at all about that?

CAMPBELL: Yes. I mean, there is no way -- this is almost $1 trillion. And remember that you hear from the White House, from the administration, and so forth, well, we've got to get this money out real quick so it stimulates the economy.

The problem is when you get it out really quick, literally billions at a chunk, tens of billions at a chunk, you're going to have abuses, you're going to have waste and you're going to have fraud. And there's no way you can just create a trillion dollar program, dump it all out there in 12 months and not waste a lot of it.

Now, that's not an indictment of the administration. That's just a fact of how it's going to happen. That's why we shouldn't have done this because unfortunately, we've -- this money is not free. It's all going to be borrowed. And we're going to have to pay that back. And my fear is that even if you make an argument that it has some help to the economy now -- and I don't think it will. But even if you do make that argument, it will absolutely hurt a recovery in the future as we try to pay this money back.

ROMANS: All right, well, this was, you know, billed as a jobs, jobs, jobs package. We'll keep following all this spending is find out where we're creating jobs, what we're doing with this with money and what kind of impact it is happening on the economy.

CAMPBELL: Thank you.

ANDREWS: Thank you.

Gentleman, we'll talk to you again. Thank you so much. Congressman John Campbell, Republican from California; and Robert Andrews, Democrat from New Jersey.

A luxury item that saves you time and money. Small business succeeds by packaging one really good idea and focusing on the customer. That's next.


ROMANS: It's just brutal out there for small business. Customer traffic is down. Costs are up. It's hard to borrow money. That's why we were so pleased to visit a small business owner in Brentwood, Missouri, whose found the right ingredients for success.


(voice-over): Can a small business survive, even thrive, in a recession? Paige Oligher thinks so. She and three partners started Time for Dinner five years ago, based on an idea they found in a magazine.

PAIGE OHLIGER, CO-OWNER, TIME FOR DINNER: We're a meal assembly service where people come in and they assemble meals in the raw form and then take them home and put them in the freezer and then put them out when they need them.

ROMANS: The business has grown nearly 15 percent each year. The goal now is $1 million in revenue this year. That's right, a small business succeeding. Despite recession and obstacles like a flood last fall. Three feet of water shutting down the facility for three days.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you have your rewards card. Great, great, great.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's hard to find good customer service these days. And the ladies and the entire staff that work here should be an (INAUDIBLE) example for everybody.

ROMANS: Customer Jeralynn Schmitt (ph) drives 45 minutes from Illinois, to prepare meals for her family of six. She's been coming for five years.

OLIGHER: You know, I think we're thinking about changing that.

ROMANS: Oligher says Time for Dinner listens to these customers, making changes that always makes it better. Time for dinner is still going strong while 13 local competitors, mostly national chain franchises have gone under.

RICH SOLAN, CO-FOUNDER, STARTUP NATION: Because they are local and because they are doing so much to connect with their community and their customer base, they are excelling. They are succeeding. And they are doing better than the national chains.

ROMANS: Customer Amy Pugh says she and her husband save money and time using this service.

AMY PUGH, TIME FOR DINNER CLIENT: We both work full time and so coming home, both of us are tired, neither of us want to cook. And he comes home. We have a meal that's defrosted in the fridge. We usually budget about $200 every couple weeks for meals. And this is $115 for the month. So, it saves a bunch of money.

ROMANS: Clients say they save money because they can't buy all the ingredients used in the recipes for as little as a Time for Dinner meal costs. And they eat out less often because nice meals are waiting at home. The recipe for small business success in this recession -- a unique idea, hard work, but, most important --

OLIGHER: It's all about the customer and that's how we make decisions here. If it's good for our customer, then it's going to be good for us, and it's proven that that works.


All right. From success to uncertainty, another look for struggles to small businesses across the country.

Let's go to West Hempstead, New York. A horse farm there, tightening the reins in this economy, but will it be enough. Here's stable owner Alex Jacobson in his own words.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pull yourself up. There you go, he's almost there.

ALEX JACOBSON, OWNER, LAKEWOOD STABLES: It's a struggle every day to keep Lakewood Stables open. Mortgage payment here, $12,100. Another one here, $23,000. Bill for shavings that were delivered last week $5,100.

Lakewood Stables easily has $50,000 to 60,000 of bills a month, depending on the month. In order to take care of a horse, it costs. Even our basic costs is about $500 to $600 a month to just take care of that animal, one horse. We have over 60 horses here.

Children that used to take two or three lessons a week are taking one lesson a week. Some families had to cut it out temporarily, you know, until they get back on their feet because of the recession. People don't have that extra money to spend. I've only been here three years. You have people that have grown up here. So, you talk to them about this place closing down or going under, their world is over, you know. And it's not right.

PATRICIA TAGLIAFERRI, MANAGER, LAKEWOOD STABLES: This is my home. I grew up here. I've been here for 20 years. I live here. I ride here every day. I come here every single day even on my day off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My girls are taking a lesson. There's an age where they are always like this at each other's throats. But coming here, they're getting along so much better, let's put it way that way, since they started coming here because they really have this in common they both really love it.

JACOBSON: Lakewood Stables is I would say 90 percent kids business, OK. You have little boys and girls, mostly girls here on a daily basis. And you have really thousands on a monthly basis that come through our doors.

Our summer camp program, this is a program that took off since the inception. And unfortunately this year, you know, we see it. We see our numbers down from last year's camp because of the recession.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do we tell our horse? Good walk, please.

JACOBSON: We have developed a therapeutic riding program with horsability (ph), which is a program that helps handicapped and autistic children through therapy on four legs.


JACOBSON: This place has been here for 100 years, you know? And some of the things we're doing here are so great for the children that it would really be a shame not to get what we need to keep it here.


ROMANS: Jacobson says there are three things that Lakewood Stables needs to remain open: An indoor arena to keep revenue in regardless of the weather all year-round, tax relief.

Jacobson currently pays $70,000 a year because the operation doesn't have the five acres needed to be taxed as an agricultural property. They've applied for an exemption which could cut their tax bill by 90 percent. They've also worked out a payment plan with their lender. In order to keep their mortgage current, they have to pay a lump sum of $60,000 in September, that's at the end of their high season.

Good luck to you.

Well, you've heard of the stay-cation. That's the stay-at-home vacation. There's fun-employed, you know, that's not having a job but using the time to do some fun things. And now there's a he-session (ph). We'll explain that one when we come back.


All right. It's time for our news ticker. Every week we go through the headlines so that you don't have. We invite some of our opinionated friends to add their two cents.

Here to add their collective four cents to this week's stories are Alfred Edmond, editor in chief of Black Enterprise; and CNN politics contributor Roland Martin.

And we'll start with stocks. Above 9000. The Dow -- you know, I've had my hands over my eyes for about six months or seven month. You turn around, suddenly is the market telling us that things are going to get better in the economy, or is the market telling us that the lights are still on essentially?

ALFRED EDMOND, EDITOR IN CHIEF, BLACK ENTERPRISE: I think it's more the lights are still on. How much worse can it get when you get down near 6,500. It had to come back. I think it's encouraging that it's somewhat sustained performance by the stock market. And I think -- you saw the news on the housing starts.


EDMOND: That's encouraging. I think we can take a breath, but I don't think we can relax yet.


ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: OK. Here's the deal. Are we getting better? Yes. Well you bet at 6,500, and you're now at 9,000. That's better, Rush Limbaugh, that's better!


Whether you like it or not. So, you know, it amazes me when people act as if you cannot acknowledge when the number is better.

I remember every day, it was -- I mean, every night, I'm sitting on Campbell Brown's show and Ali Velshi, "The market's down 400 points. Oh my gosh, what's going on?" And all of a sudden as we come back up, it's like, OK, fine, it went up, no big deal.

Look, here's the reality. I'm not one of these big whig -- big whiz financial experts. I'm the kind of person who pulled my money out of mutual fund six months ago because I got tired of losing money. Guess what? After the show I'm calling my company back and saying, fine, you can now start taking that money out because it's confidence.


ROMANS: You missed a big confidence --

EDMOND: But it's talking about restoring confidence. This is the second week in a row we got some signs that there were some good things happening --

MARTIN: Right. It's restoring (INAUDIBLE).

EDMOND: And it's restoring confidence. And that was the whole point, to restore some confidence.

ROMANS: And he brings in Rush Limbaugh, because Rush took a little piece out of me, mentioned this program, also my friend Susan Lisovicz saying, that what by talking about the stock market rally we were somehow missing all of the terrible things that had happened. And no --

MARTIN: Like he's not a fact.

ROMANS: It has been a very brutal, brutal time for workers. We still have high unemployment.

EDMOND: Absolutely.

ROMANS: It's still a problem. But, look, you can at least open up your 401(k) statement and see that you're getting a little bit of it back. You're not back to where you were. But you starting to get a little bit back.

EDMOND: Right. It's like you're getting some traction. What you want is some traction. You want a feeling that things aren't sliding anymore, that things are moving forward. I don't know what else you could expect.

ROMANS: It's not a political statement. It's just a fact that stocks are up 43 percent to 37 percent respectively, from the lows hit in March.

MARTIN: And yes, Rush, you can't argue with those facts. And so you always want to see positive growth. You always want to see that if things are getting slightly better, it's a lot -- that's much better than it's getting worse. I mean, literally, it was every day.

EDMOND: every day.

MARTIN: People were going, oh, my God, not another report of how bad it is.

ROMANS: We still have a lot of hurdles, though, and I think that we can all agree on that -- that we've got a demand problem. We've got small businesses are really hurting right now. You've got --

MARTIN: Can they cut further?

ROMANS: Yes. And then corporate profits, frankly, are up because they're selling divisions and because they're able to lay off workers.

EDMOND: And you still have to get through the next quarter.

ROMANS: Right. Let's talk a little bit about the credit rating agencies that are being sued. They're part of the whole puzzle of who is to blame for everything's that happened in the economy.

The credit-rating agencies. I mean, should we be going after them? Should they be changing the way they do business?

EDMOND: I don't think suing them is the way to do it. I mean, we all, of course, trusted the ratings. Everybody based investment decisions --

MARTIN: I don't.

EDMOND: You don't or you didn't?


EDMOND: You never did?


EDMOND: OK. Well, you are an exception to the rule. Everybody else thought that if I got a AAA rating, if I got this great rating --

ROMANS: AAA means good.

EDMOND: -- that was a good thing.

ROMANS: Right.

EDMOND: I think we need to go back and say exactly what those ratings mean and to what degree they can be held accountable. And do I think that's going to happen as a result of a lawsuit? I don't happen to think that's (INAUDIBLE).

MARTIN: I tell you what. When you put some folks under depositions, it's amazing how, you know, the truth comes out.

But I'll tell you who we really should be going after.


MARTIN: We talk about credit agencies. The credit report companies.


MARTIN: Because that is the biggest fraud. I mean, if you sit here and pay stuff off, oh I'm sorry, your credit score is very low. No, no. We want you to have a credit card. We need you to have a credit card. I don't want to have debt. You want to sue somebody. Sue those fraudulent folks.

ROMANS: I have a theory about credit scores, too. I think over the next 10 years, so many people are going to have bad credit scores, that it's going to start to become irrelevant that what your credit card score is. Because so many people are seeing it -- because they're losing their house, they don't have a job, you're triaging your bills. I mean, we're heading into a period that's going to be pretty tough for people.

I want to talk --

MARTIN: I hate them. Can't stand them.


ROMANS: Tell me what you really think.


ROMANS: Let's talk about unemployment in this recession because There's a couple things. We keep hearing this word, the "he-session" or the "man-session." That 80 percent of the jobs that have been lost, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, have been to men.

There's an interesting piece in "Foreign Policy" magazine this week about how it's the end of macho. That global, male-dominated, high-risk, high-reward behavior is what got us into this mess. And men are suffering more and that maybe it's the end -- the death of macho.

EDMOND: Let me say this. First of all, macho has been dying for at least the last 60 years. If you haven't been paying attention. You can't have two secretaries, one to do your work and one to chase around the desk. All of that stuff has been going away for a long time. So now we're seeing --


EDMOND: I'm ruining your day, I know. But here is my solution. I have three daughters. Have as many daughters as possible because they will take care of you in your old age.

ROMANS: Why is that? Because they're getting their degrees and going to college, everyone is making the money?


EDMOND: They're doing well.

You know, this is part of a very long-term shift. And we're really noticing it globally. What this -- all this means, is my one son, is going to have to change what it means to be a man in the global economy. That's all that means.

MARTIN: And not only that, I think back to Bernard Shaw when he gave a speech to the Black Journalist convention in Las Vegas, a couple years ago. When he said, "White men, take notice, you're a speck in the ocean of color." His whole point there was the world is changing.

EDMOND: Exactly. MARTIN: And so it used to be a male-dominated world, a white- male-dominated world. So guess what? White males are now going to have to get used to the fact that they're going to see more Hispanic and African-Americans and Asian in the marketplace. The same thing when it comes to gender. So it changes.

ROMANS: But black and Hispanic men are also losing their jobs in this 80 percent number. You know, 80 percent of the jobs lost. And they're middle-class and manufacturing jobs.

MARTIN: Yes. Because they're still men.

EDMOND: Again, we're going to have to retool. We're going to retool future generations of young men. My son cannot think about training to work in a factory. He's going to have a different mindset in terms of what it means to be a working man that may be different from my mindset or my father's mindset.

MARTIN: For instance, one of the areas where we have a severe shortage in this country -- nursing.

EDMOND: Nursing, absolutely.

MARTIN: So, when you typically have women who are largely going into nursing, guess what, you now have a man who is saying, you know, I might need to go ahead and get rid of my bias --

EDMOND: My bias. My macho bias about what a nurse is. Absolutely.


MARTIN: When it's like, no, you can be a male nurse, as well. That's a part of the whole issue.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks so much. Roland Martin, Alfred Edmond, thank you so much gentlemen. We'll see you next week. A lot of fun.

MARTIN: Absolutely. The market's great, Rush!


ROMANS: So, where in the world is Ali? Well, right now, he's on vacation. But before he left, he got to spend some quality time in the kitchen at Chipotle.


ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: Let's make a burrito.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's make a burrito. So, we'll start with a flour tortilla, OK? What would you like in your burrito?


ROMANS: They say you are what you eat. So what did our friend Ali put in his burrito?

EDMONDS: His hands are in his pocket.

MARTIN: Not a speck of flour on his apron! Come on, Ali!


ROMANS: The Obama administration wants new regulations that could affect your money and your investments. At the heart of this plan, the creation of a consumer financial protection agency. A single agency, to regulate mortgage, credit cards, insurance, the things that touch your money. It would have the power to examine subpoena information from banks and it would ban financial products deemed deceptive.

The idea is under assault, though, mainly by the financial industry who says the power should remain within the fed and who fear this new agency could stifle innovation and freeze the credit markets. The Treasury Department disagrees and says reform is critical to protecting your money from a repeat of this crisis.

So, how could it affect you? I recently spoke with the Sallie Krawcheck, the former CEO of Citi Wealth Management, and asked her what she saw in the administration's proposal that could help individual investors.


SALLIE KRAWCHECK, FORMER CEO, CITI WEALTH MANAGEMENT: here's some really important things here for the individual investors. The thing we're hearing a lot about is the consumer financial protection agency.

A lot of noise about that. If it's done poorly, it can be a morass of red tape and bureaucracy. If it's done well, it can really, I think, help provide consumers with some -- with a way to cut through the clutter and confusion that the financial service products can be for so many of them.

Mortgages, what are you really signing when you sign a mortgage? And if done correctly, I think it can be a very interesting watchdog and helpmate for the individual investors.

ROMANS: And that watchdog, I mean, the proposals are just about anything that has to do with your money, your house, your retirement would come under this umbrella. You say it could go well or it could go poorly.

How can they make sure it goes well? What are your recommendations to make sure this is something with teeth that helps individual investors?

KRAWCHECK: Well, one, it's got to have teeth. Two, it's got to have the independent funding and the ability to really maneuver. But I think, more important than anything else, it's just got to have common sense, right? The issue with disclosure is people tend to think more is better, right? It's another risk, put it on in there. If an average consumer of financial products cannot understand what they're buying and what the risks are, I think in 10 minutes or less, then we fail.

ROMANS: We know there are a lot of different agencies that had --


ROMANS: -- a mission to protect consumers and somehow nobody actually did it.

KRAWCHECK: Well, and that is an issue. If you scatter responsibility too broadly, then no one really has responsibility. So, that can be a problem. But with any of these things, it really is, do you have the right regulations in place? And, very importantly, do you have the right people in place who can cut through it? And do you have a number of the right initiatives in place?

ROMANS: People have been burned whether it's by the mortgage or whatever it is --

KRAWCHECK: Exactly right.

ROMANS: Confidence has to return.

KRAWCHECK: And if you stalk to the individual investors today, they say, you know what, I feel like the jerk, right?

You know, we had the research scandal some number of years ago. We had this meltdown. You know, what's having these folks do the best thing for me? And so by bringing out this consumer protection agency, by bringing out this fiduciary standard, by fixes the rating agencies, through a few of these things shoring up the money found, some of the things that are being done here, the most important thing is to bring back the level of confidence.

ROMANS: All right. Sallie Krawcheck, thank you so much for joining us.

KRAWCHECK: Thank you.


ROMANS: All right, you know, so let me get this straight. While I'm here in the studio working hard, Ali gets to -- let's see -- go shopping with Diane von Furstenberg, he gets to ride his motorcycle with the guys from Orange County Choppers, he cooks with Rachael Ray, and now he's learning the craft of burrito making with the CEO of Chipotle.

I'm clearly doing something wrong.

Ali's latest adventure coming up next.


ROMANS: You know, if you'd asked Steve Ells what his dream job was after he graduated from culinary school, the answer would have been to open a fancy, expensive restaurant. That was his dream. You may not know who Steve Ells is, but you've probably heard of his creation, which is neither fancy nor expensive. It's the fast-food restaurant Chipotle.

Our vacationing Ali Velshi recently got a taste of how it all unfolded.


STEVE ELLS, FOUNDER & CHAIRMAN, CHIPOTLE: I moved to Denver, in '93, with the idea that I would start this one little restaurant called Chipotle, and it would be this cash cow that could help fund my real restaurant.

VELSHI: Right.

ELLS: And it did very well. It did so well, in fact, that I said, maybe I'll open one more. One more Chipotle. And that did even better than the first one. And, you know, when I was doing this, though, I was feeling guilty. I was feeling like I wasn't really following my calling. You know, it's like, well, I'm opening these Chipotles. It's nice, I guess, but it's not really what I'm meant to do.

VELSHI: Tell me about your philosophy with respect to what's on the menu.

ELLS: So it's important to understand where your food comes from and how it was raised. And I started to become interested in this about 10 years ago, when I visited some pig farms. I mean, it's really sort of a brutal condition that they're raised in. And they're raised with antibiotics and they never see the light of day and they're in small cages, and it's very, very unpleasant. And at that moment, seeing that, I knew that I didn't want Chipotle's success to be based on that kind of exploitation. And so that led us to look at every single ingredient we buy. To make sure it is raised the right way.

VELSHI: But there's a tradeoff here, right?

ELLS: There is a tradeoff.

VELSHI: You're getting better quality of food and it's going to cost them more.

ELLS: It costs a little bit more. Absolutely. And especially in these tougher economic times, it really puts a squeeze on folks. And unfortunately, you know we have lost some transactions in the last year. But not a lot. And people are still willing to pay a little bit more for the kind of quality they get at Chipotle. But maybe they just don't come as often.

VELSHI: Let's talk about the menu you don't seem to have a lot of items and it hasn't expanded a great deal over the years.

ELLS: Right. Well, we have a very focused menu. The neat thing about Chipotle though, is that with just a few things you can make all these different combinations, 60 some odd thousand combinations, you know, you can make between burritos and tacos and the different meats and different beans and different salsas. So, we satisfy lots of different tastes.

VELSHI: I asked you all the questions I can ask you. I guess there's only one thing left.

ELLS: Let's make a burrito.

VELSHI: Let's make a burrito.

ELLS: That's your burrito.

VELSHI: Perfect. I will enjoy this.

ELLS: Enjoy.


ROMANS: Enjoy. Ali will be back next week.

So, here on YOUR MONEY we like to do something called Roman's Numeral. Get it? A little play on words. Today you're looking at this number -- the Roman's Numeral for today. And since most of you -- well, most of you probably don't live in Ancient Rome, we'll have to tell you what the number is.

And here it is, it's the number 725. And that is where the minimum wage stands right now. The recent 70-cent increase may not seem much to some. But to small businesses it makes a big difference. And you the customer, maybe, maybe you'll feel it.


(voice-over): Rafael Cuellar doesn't want your grocery bill to go up. But he's worried his customers might see higher prices soon.

Cuellar has owned this Shoprite, in Passaic, New Jersey, since 2005. In that time he's seen the minimum wage in the state jump $5.15 an hour, to $7.25 an hour. Up 10 cents just this week to meet the new federal level.

RAFAEL CUELLAR, CEP, SHOPRITE PASSAIC: It's just extra payroll. It hurts. What ends up happening usually, though, is extra payroll transitions over to the consumer because some costs are going to go up.

ROMANS: Cuellar has 40 to 50 minimum wage earners on his staff. His payroll costs won't go up dramatically with the new wage hike. But he says his suppliers, produce and meat companies and consumer goods factories -- they're going to get hit hard. CUELLAR: All these companies all have thousands and upon thousands of minimum wage earners. Obviously their costs increase. It passes on to me. And then it passes on to the consumer.

ROMANS: But many consumers will have more money to spend argue some economists and business owners like Cuellar will benefit.

DAVID MADLAND, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Even if they do have to raise their prices a little bit, they often -- very often, almost always -- make up for that in increased business because workers are able to spend more money that they have in their pockets.

ROMANS: But not all workers are getting a raise. And others argue that in this economy, employment will suffer.

PETER MORICI, ECONIMIST, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: It's going to cost us lots of low skilled jobs, simply employers won't be able to hire as many people. Some will get laid off. Well those with jobs will have a little bit more money in their pocket, those that don't get hired won't have any at all.

ROMANS: And empty pocket is what concerns Rafael Cuellar.

CUELLAR: A long term effect of it is it makes people who weren't making minimum wage a little poorer. Millions of other people didn't get a pay raise.


Still there are many economists who point out it's simply the right thing to do. If you are earning the minimum wage, working full time, all year round, you make about $15,000 a year. That is depending on the size of your family, not even enough to cross the poverty threshold.

All right. Are you sleepy? If you can barely keep your eyes own, if you can't think, then you either you don't like our show, or you may be part of a growing number of Americans tossing and turning night after night. Why? We're going to tell you next. Don't fall asleep.


ROMANS: Are you counting more sheep at night than money in your bank account? You're not alone. Americans are losing sleep over the state of our economy.'s Poppy Harlow takes a look and a nap.


POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM (voice-over): If a good night sleep seems like a faint memory, blame the economy. One third of Americans are losing sleep over their concerns about their personal finances or the economy, according to the National Sleep Foundation. DR. GARY ZAMMIT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SLEEP DISORDERS INSTITUTE: We're seeing a combination of people, people who have had long standing problems with their sleep who report that their sleep is getting worse because of the added stress of the economy, as well as people who are coming in saying that they've never had a sleep problem before.

HARLOW: Prescriptions for sleep medications at a record high, topping 56 million in 2008, and up 54 percent since 2004. But if pill popping doesn't sound like the solution, consider a good old-fashioned powernap.

ZAMMIT: You can nap in response to sleep loss. So after the fact. Or you can nap in anticipation of sleep loss. Because only sleep can replace sleep.

HARLOW (on camera): And napping may be just the ticket. Business is booming here at Yelo Wellness, where believe it or not, people in Manhattan will pay nearly $30 for a 40 minute nap.

NICHOLAS RONCO, FOUNDER & CEO, YELO: It's been a real interesting change in terms of consumer behavior. Before September, a lot of people were coming here and saying, you know, I need -- I'd like to get a nap. And now what's been happening is that people actually need their nap. It's become a real necessity in people's life.

CAITLIN BUSH, LAWYER: I just think it makes a real difference, first of all, in my work. I do a better job which means I'm going to get a better bonus. And I'm not going to burn out.

HARLOW (voice-over): Two-thirds of adults say sleepiness interferes with their concentration and makes handling stress on the job more difficult. Regulars here say the fee to sleep is a small price to pay to overcome exhaustion.

BUSH: Coming here, spending the money taking a nap, allows me to kind of burn the candle at both ends.

HARLOW: Poppy Harlow, CNN, New York.


ROMANS: According to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health, taking a 30 minute power nap three times a week can reduce the rate of heart disease in healthy people, by 37 percent. And the National Sleep Foundation found that those people who report losing sleep over the economy are more likely to report being unable to work efficiently or to exercise or eat healthily.

All right. Well, thanks for joining us on YOUR MONEY. You can follow Ali Velshi and I on Facebook and Twitter at ChristineRomans and at AliVelshi. And you make sure you join us every week for YOUR MONEY. Saturdays, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern and Sundays at 3:00. You can also log on 24/7 to Ali's back next week. Have a great weekend.