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Obama Under Pressure; Person of the Year; Drinking Beer without the Weight Gain

Aired December 19, 2009 - 13:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN HOST, YOUR MONEY (voice over): The pressure is on President Obama. Jobs, health care, climate change. Can the president turn yes, we can, into, yes, we did?

The CNN Express is on the recovery road and Ali's on a mission to hear all of your solutions to the financial crises.

And is the time person of the year really the person of the year? Get ready to turn the page. It's time to talk YOUR MONEY.


ROMANS: Welcome to YOUR MONEY. I'm Christine Romans. Today we're putting President Obama to the test with this simple question, can he deliver results? The great recession, 10 percent unemployment, massive health care reform and a solution for climate change. A lot on the president's plate. Let's examine then them one by one.

First his plan for creating jobs. The stimulus, it's said to have two phases. Phase one, the rescue. Emergency money to help states pay for food stamps, Medicaid, budget caps and keep tens of thousands of teachers and firefighters on the job. This week top White House advisers said it is on to phase two. Time to create all of those new private sector jobs we've been hearing about. In 2010, the money is headed for infrastructure projects like bridge and road construction. High-speed rail and health care research.

The president has also focused on helping small businesses. Scolding the bankers to lend. The results, the small businesses are still caught in a credit crunch. Another $1 billion in small business loans from major banks vanished in October alone. Over the last six months, small business credit is on the decline, down almost $12 billion. The president has not seen the results he hoped for. His poll numbers have also declined.

A CNN poll of polls found that just 45 percent of those questioned approved of how the president is handling the economy. So when will this president start to deliver results? We pose that question to Ali Velshi on the recovery road with the CNN Express joining us from Savannah, Georgia.

Also with us from Washington, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen as well as Brian Wesbury, he is the author of "It's not as bad as you think: While capitalism trumps fear and the economy will thrive." Let's go first to Ali, what are you hearing on the road Ali about all of these things on the president's plate?

ALI VELSHI, CNN HOST, YOUR MONEY: Well I have to tell you Christine, what we're hearing on the road and maybe it is partially because we're calling this recovery road, and we are inviting people to tell us about how their improving their financial situation, but I have been on the road, I've been doing these trips for about two years. There does seem to be an evolution of what people are thinking about.

First of all, less focus on Washington and Wall Street. People have got it out of their system. They're as mad as they can be and they feel the government hasn't done everything it could. But that is not what this one has been about, this trip has been about the things people are doing to help themselves. They are still stuck though on high unemployment. I've been through parts of the country where unemployment exceeds 12 percent, particularly in South Carolina, some towns over 20 percent.

The other issue you mentioned in the introduction, business credit. We're talking to a lot of small businesses. I'm in this area in Savannah, Georgia, surrounded by small businesses. They're struggling and many of them need money. They need to be able to borrow. They know there are risks, because that's what loaning money and borrowing money is about. They feel that they need the banks to cooperate a little more with them.


ROMANS: Fred let's talk about the jobs. The jobs that have been created so far by the stimulus. You've been critical of the stimulus. So far it has been mostly public sector jobs, teachers, firefighters, police officers, people whose jobs have been saved just by, like, shoving budget holes. Next they say the next phase are these private sector jobs. Grade for me the stimulus and what you think the president should be doing next on this?

BRIAN WESBURY, AUTHOR, "IT'S NOT AS BAD AS YOU THINK:" See, I think if you're in, a politician in Washington looking at stimulus you've got, in a sense, you are stuck between a rock and hard place. In one sense the political pressures are for you to do something. To spend money, to say you're creating jobs. On the other hand in reality, if you look at the economy over history, the more the government spends, remember, they have to tax that money or borrow it from the private sector. That means the less the private sector has.

So the more the government borrows, the less banks have to lend out. And, therefore, we know that the bigger government gets, the lower the number of jobs. The higher the unemployment rate. All you have to do is look at Europe. They've had seven; eight, nine, ten percent unemployment for 30 years and the reason is they have big government. So I think what we need to do, is back off the stimulus now. Let the private sector take up the slack. Truly let them, don't try to help them, they can do this on their on, in the end I think they're the real man of the year.

ROMANS: You know David, let me tell you this, you got house passing $154 billion new jobs package. Which some are saying is a stimulus. But isn't called a stimulus and you have the original stimulus which is now entering phase two. We still have $300-some billion to spend in this. Maybe we'll start seeing results next year. But what are the political pressures for the president when so many people are saying what has the stimulus done for me?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANAYLST: This president is going through a very tough weekend. You know, with climate change and health care and also this rising pressure on jobs. Christine, I was out in Ohio this week as well as Arkansas. I'm sure I saw what Ali has been seeing. That is, that there is a sense we're much better than we were a year ago. We no longer feel we're going over the cliff, but at the same time, and there's a sense that this growth that we're experiencing in the economy is coming back.

There's a worry that by March or April of this coming year it may flatten out. Nobody knows for sure whether it's going to keep going up or whether it's going to flatten out, and what Congress is looking at, and what the White House is saying is, it's hard to create these private sector jobs, but we do need some more money for jobs, say at the state and local government level where there are a number of governments facing continuing fiscal crises. Such as California.

If you don't put more money in there from the federal government, they're going to be a lot of teachers laid off as well as others, and that would be -- that is better to spend the money, spend yet more money. I must tell you, I think the public is very wary of all the spending coming out of Washington and they are very fearful of the deficits.

ROMANS: David, we're going talk more about the political aspects of this and Ali, about what you're hearing on the road right after the break. All of you stay. Fascinating discussion.

First it was Labor Day then it was Christmas. Is it time to stop setting deadlines for health care reform and will it ever get done? What will it look like?


ROMANS: Welcome back to YOUR MONEY. Ali Velshi on the recovery road with the CNN Express. Also with us from Washington is CNN senior political analyst David Gergen and we also have Brian Wesbury, he is author of "It's not as bad as you think, by capitalism trumps fear and the economy will thrive."

All right. Ali I want to throw it to you first. Howard Dean really taken to the air waves this week, I mean this liberal revolt reform. Listen.


HOWARD DEAN, FMR. DNC CHAIRMAN: This is an insurance company's dream, this bill and I think it's gone too far. It's a shame. But bad decisions were made along the way. And now we're in the last week of this and this is the Washington scramble. I think it's ill-advised.


ROMANS: A Washington scramble, Ali. How's that playing out on the streets of America?

VELSHI: Well, I have to tell you the issue of heath care and how Washington is handling it is playing a little smaller on this trip than it was in August and September when I was out talking to people around the country about it then. There was a real sense there about it being rushed. The prior to Labor Day deadline, as you said, and now Christmas, there's definitely a sense that this is now an inside the halls of Washington discussion that the people I've been talking to in the last week don't seem to feel they're as involved as the last few months ago. It does seem like this conversation moved has moved out of the streets of America and into the corridors of power in Washington.

ROMANS: Brian Wesbury I was joking earlier this week to Wes Aster (ph) that if this were delivering this health care reform of pregnancy this would be in the fifth trimester and this kid would way 35 pounds. When are we going to deliver this thing and what is it going to look like?

WESBURY: Yes, I still believe that there is a better than 50 percent chance that we don't get anything in this election cycle. You know, I know that the conventional wisdom in Washington is that they have to pass something, but, you know, out here in the heartland I'm sitting around Chicago, and it seems to me that it's going to be very hard to get something through. By the way, if this goes down, and does not pass I think that would be very good for the stock market.

Already in the last quarter, health care stocks are up. There's a, they're the best sector of market. What they seem to be saying is that there is going to be either a very, very slimmed down version or no bill at all.

ROMANS: David.

GERGEN: Well, I must say, I agree with Ray on one fundamental point. That is, my sense around the country and you look at the polls almost everywhere. The last three or four weeks there's been a pretty sharp drop off in support for the health care bill and an increase in disapproval. People ask why Ben Nelson of Nebraska, the Democrat has been such a staunch hold out against this, not only for abortion.

But if you look at the poll back in Nebraska, a recent poll there found that 67 percent of Nebraskans oppose this health care reform and it is the number one issue in their minds. Even if they get this through the Senate, I have been feeling all along they would get it through the Senate. I'm having questions whether it will ultimately pass next year, if the public sentiment continues to be so strongly against this, it's going to be very, very hard to get skittish Senators and members of the House to vote for it in the final analysis.

ROMANS: David, why is it do you think that the port is waning? Do you think it is because people are watching all of these deals being cut and they are saying, wait this is starting to feel a little bit like politics as usual on a very big scale, or is it that maybe liberals are saying, wait. This isn't what we signed on for in the very early going or conservatives who don't - I mean, why is a port waning?

GERGAN: Well, as you know there is this old axiom that there are two things in the world you never want to see being made. One is sausage and the other is legislation, and the process here I think has been one that has really dismayed a growing number's people. They don't understand what's in the bill anymore. It just seems to be very messy, it's not clean. Because the White House didn't have a bill of its own and there wasn't a strong central argument to begin with, the people who were for this and are passionately for it frankly are losing the message war, and Americans are saying, we've had for the first time a poll that says, a national poll that says, there are more people that think we should do nothing than pass this bill. That's almost shocking considering where we started.

ROMANS: All right. Let's leave it there for a moment, guys. We're going to talk about all of these things in just a minute. David Gergen, thank you so much for joining us. Ali Velshi still on the road with us and Brian Wesbury will stick around as well.

You know "Time" makes a controversial choice for person of the year. Did they get it right?

Also, you're going to love this one. The secret to drinking beer without gaining weight this holiday season. From someone who knows just a little bit about beer.


ROMANS: All right. Time to look at some of the big headlines this week. Ali Velshi is on recovery road with the CNN Express. He joins us from Savannah, Georgia. Our good friend Richard Quest is in London. He's host of CNN's "Quest means business "and Brian Wesbury, author of "It's not as bad as you think" is back as well.

Gentlemen, 2009, the year of Ben Bernanke -- that is at least according to "Time" Magazine, who named the Federal Reserve chairman "Person of the year." The magazine said that the depression scholar helped the nation dodge another great depression, but we dug through the archives and found out this prediction from the mild mannered Fed chief back in 2007.


BEN BERNANKE, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL RESERVE: We believe the effects of the troubles in the subprime sector on the broader housing market will likely be limited and we do not expect significant spill overs from the subprime market for the rest of the economy or to the financial system.


ROMANS: All right. So to be fair, a lot of people didn't get it right back then. But "Time" says Bernanke is the reason the U.S. financial crises wasn't worse. Not everyone is happy with the pick. Republican Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky compared it to rewarding the captain of the "Titanic" for getting people off the ship after it rammed into as iceberg. OK keep in mind "person of the year" doesn't necessarily mean hero of the year, most beloved person of the year, it's really more about influence. Ali, did "Time" make a good pick?

VELSHI: He is an influential man. The Federal Reserve has put more money into this economy than the federal government. So when you think about the $700 billion T.A.R.P. bailout, you think about the $787 billion stimulus, that the Fed has put way more money than that into the economy. In fact one day last summer, they put $1.3 trillion into the economy. That is what brought mortgage rates down and that is why you can still get a 30-year fixed mortgage for 5 percent if you have good credit.

That said, if I were picking something to name Ben Bernanke in 2009 it would be most improved student. Partially because of that clip you just showed and partially because well into 2008 he was still one of those people along with George Bush and Henry Paulson saying that the economy is fundamentally sound when lesser people than him with no economics degree were saying, a ha. It's not fundamentally safe.

ROMANS: Right. I mean Richard we watch it, I mean Ali and I, we've gone round and round about this and we have showed the clips again and again. I mean a lot of people have said no, subprime, it is not going to be a problem, and Richard this is why when so many Americans watched the process of saving the economy and the exit strategies for the Fed, they say, wait a second. You guys didn't know this. How do we know this time you're right?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST, "QUEST MEANS BUISNESS:" Look, you guys are just simply cruel. There is no other way to put it. You are determined to run the tape until you can barely see the video on that particular clip again and again. Which one of us, honestly, likes to have our words thrown back at us two or three years later the truth is yes, Ben Bernanke was one ever those who couldn't see it was as bad as it was going to get, but the actions that he took, the fighting that -- remember, the Congress rejected the original T.A.R.P. plan. It was only because of people like Bernanke under the U.K. Gordon Brown that pushed forward against those headwinds that I think we're not looking at a great depression.

ROMANS: Weigh in here Brian. What do you think?

WESBURY: Sure. I'm a conservative, so I am right next to the hippopotamus at the local zoo, but you know when I go back to 2007, and 2008, what really was, what took a problem, and Ben Bernanke knew -- we all knew there was an issue. Ben Bernanke said it wouldn't spread. What was the accelerant, what caused it to spread, the gasoline on the fire, was mark to market accounting. That's what took this small problem and turned it into a catastrophe and the proof is very simple.

We passed T.A.R.P., we passed two stimulus bills, and the Federal Reserve lowered interest rates to zero. We spent trillions of dollars, expanded the Fed's balance sheet. None of it helped, until March 9th when we found out that we were going to have a hearing and the accountants were come to Capitol Hill and Barney Frank was going to light a fire under them and they would have to change this rule and that was the day that the stock market bottomed.

And in other words, I would not have made Bernanke "Man of the year." I would have not voted for his reconfirmation. He refused to change mark to market and kept telling us, oh believe in me. I'll save the day. In fact, government caused the problem in the first place.

ROMANS: All right. Let's talk another form of, former Federal Reserve chairman. And that is Alan Greenspan. I want to talk about Greenspan for a minute, while Richard Quest's steam is coming out of his ears. The Senate Homeland Security Committee this week, he told them this, our nation has never before had to confront so formidable a fiscal crisis as is now visible just over the horizon. Whew.

Greenspan told lawmakers he endorsed a proposed bipartisan deficit reduction commission to get the nation's debt under control. Meanwhile, this week the House approved legislation to raise the debt limit by $290 billion. That isn't much, folks, which brings me to my roman numeral five. That is the number of times including this one the debt ceiling has been raised in the last two years and gentlemen, we are going to have to raise it again in six to eight weeks I'm told to borrow more money. Is there a debt doom in our future? Ali Velshi?

VELSHI: Absolutely. You know what? I have to say, what Alan Greenspan said is something I'm hearing in my tour across America. I'm hearing more and more people starting to understand that the debt crisis is going to be more significant than they've been thinking about. Obviously over the last year we have been talking about health care, we have been talking about stimulus and jobs and housing, and the stock market, but the reality is this is a major concern.

I'm probably not going to share an opinion with Brian and so far as this is, this can be managed. There are actually ways in which you can deal with this and most developed nations are also in a debt crisis. So we're not entirely alone in this one, but it is serious, and it is going to have to be the next project of the Federal government to deal with.

ROMANS: Richard Quest, the way you deal with this, is you either raise taxes, cut spending or both and when you look at the amount of red ink we have, maybe both in a very dramatic way?

QUEST: Yes. I mean, if you want a real look at how closely you need to look at this, look at Greece. Just over the past week, and Ireland over the past week.


QUEST: Both of which have had to deal with deficits heading north of 10, 11, and 12 percent. Greece has had to announce the most draconian measures to try to get the deficit down by half over the next four to five years. Let nobody be fooled. Whether it's Greece, Ireland, the U.K. or the United States. That debt burden is an overhang on the markets and it's something that is going to have to be dealt with and, yes, we are facing 50 percent marginal rates of income tax in it U.K. next year, and you're going to face maybe not as high but higher rates elsewhere.

ROMANS: Brian.

WESBURY: And Christine, all I would say --

VELSHI: Over to this side ever the pond, move here, Richard.

WESBURY: And you know what, I am going to agree with Ali that the debt is a serious issue and it's going to get much worse in the future, but it's not going to take our economy down today. However, why we're insisting on passing a health care bill today that will add trillions of dollars of new spending in the next decade when we already have a debt crisis on our hand, I just don't get.

This -- this idea that somehow this is going to reduce the deficit or help our economy in the long run, it's just not true. The only way to get through this is to increase spending dramatically, is to get national health care and that will make this problem even worse in the future.

ROMANS: All right. You know, Brian, Richard and I are going to take a break and we are going to sit here and argue about how to fix our national debt problems. But Ali is going to talk about something a little more exciting. He's going to talk about beer. Ali hope you have samples with you.

VELSHI: I'm on a road trip and I'm collecting some as I go along. But I recently sat down with Jim Cooke; he is the founder of Boston Beer Company which makes Sam Adam's. I asked him how he got involved in the business.


VELSHI (voice over): Jim thanks for being here. There's beer, there are beer bottles, there are glass, nothing but trouble can come off this, but you are somebody who just loves this industry. Tell me your story. How you got involved in the Boston Beer Company, which we know as Sam Adams?

JOM COOKE, FOUNDER, BOSTON BEER COMPANY: I started making Sam Adams in my kitchen 25 years ago, back when there were no microbreweries in the U.S. Everybody thought it was all going to be these mass produced, light beers and I started making rich flavorful beers, kind of bucking that tide, and 25 years later, the company has become the largest independent American-owned brewery at less than 1 percent of the beer market. So we are still tiny.

VELSHI: What's in the pour? Why don't you show me what the perfect pour of a bottle of beer into a glass is supposed to look like?

COOKE: You want to create maybe a couple of fingers of foam at the top. So you kind of bring it down, the side of the glass.

VELSHI: OK. COOKE: And then you know, finish it off with just a nice beautiful head.

VELSHI: That is excellent.

COOKE: And a really good beer will have a head that is so thick, you can float a bottle cap on it.

VELSHI: No kidding?

COOKE: There it is. Just a happy little boat.

VELSHI: That is excellent. I want to ask you something else. In a year that we've been through where Corporate America and the business of lead have really had a black eye. You have a company that, you have a culture, amongst your employees that you try foster.

COOKE: We have, Sam Adams brewing the American dream program that is a micro lending facility for small, low and moderate-income entrepreneurs in food and beverage and over the last year and a half we've helped almost 40 businesses get up and running and created hundreds of jobs in Boston. So for us, that's our way of giving back.

VELSHI: You do seem like you feel like you're a lucky guy. You like what you do, but things have changed for you. You're a much busier guy. What does your day look like?

COOKE: It really depends. That's one of the great things about my job is, I don't sit in an office. I don't do the same thing. I get bored.

VELSHI: Right.

COOKE: If I have to, you know, repeat. So I get to make new beers. I get to create new styles, new brewing techniques. And you know, sometimes I sort of feel like a Johnny Appleseed of beer.

VELSHI: Your enthusiasm is catchy. Thank you so much for being here, Jim a pleasure to talk with you.

COOKE: Cheers.

VELSHI: Cheers.


VELSHI: All right. Have you or someone you know lost a job, well what do you do now? The idea of completely shifting gears and retraining can be terrifying. But we'll hear from some people who have done just that. Real solutions to this recession, next on YOUR MONEY.


VELSHI: Over the last two years I've logged thousands of miles all across America on the CNN Express. I was on the road in January, 2008 when the economy first showed serious signs of crumbling, then again months later when high gas prices and election primary season had Americans thinking and worried about their economic future. A year later, high unemployment and a polarized health care debate had Americans trying to figure out a road plan into new economic reality, but on every trip we've taken the mood of the country has been different. This time it's about recovery and solutions opinion. Here's a taste of what the CNN Express found on recovery road.


VELSHI (voice over): This trip's a little different than the ones we've done before. This one's called "Recovery Road" it is about recovery, but it's about resourceful. We are talking to people not about who is to blame or how they're feeling, we're talking to people about things that they've down to improve their situation or to improve their town's situation.

(UNIDENTIFED FEMALE): What we're seeing is this town in the middle of a slow change.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): We must be poised to answer as a community whether or not we have what it takes to get the resources into the hands of the folks that are creating jobs.

VELSHI: There's a young lady over there who's retraining.

LORRAINE SMITH, NEW STUDENT: My entire life worked in science.

VELSHI: And now you've decided that you're going to be an educator?

SMITH: You have to get out there and do what it takes to find that job, and if that means moving to a new place, which wasn't possible for me, then going back to school may be your best option.

VELSHI: This issue of retraining is a big deal though. For a lot of mid career people, they lose their jobs, it disorients them and for a long time they're waiting for the job to come back or something to change. You had to make some decision at some point to the say; I'm going to have to go after something different?

SMITH: You can sit around and wait, but I think what is it? God helps those who help themselves?

VELSHI: How are things around here?

(UNIDENTIFED FEMALE): Things around here are very good.

SHANNON JUSTICE, ENTREPRENEUR: A year ago I was laid off from my job as a marketing director and because of the economy and because of needing financial help, we decided to start couponing, me and my friend, and what has come back from that is that we've developed a website called where we send out e-mail shopping lists to people showing them where they can save about 60 to 90 percent on groceries.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): I'll take these sales fliers.

JUSTICE: My father has recently retired and he's just taken to couponing like a duck in water.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): So this is my stash, as we say here.

JUSTICE: He's actually had to build on a second pantry on to his house, because he saved so much and is buying so many things.

VELSHI: Has this generated some income for you?

JUSTICE: Very little right now. We're in the beginning stages. We've started with facebook marketing. A lot of people that you know we are not that bad off we have to use coupons. The point is that it doesn't matter how bad off you are. You can really take that savings and put it toward something else in your household.

VELSHI: The point of this trip, as I said to you earlier, was to take things that we're learning on the street from people, put them on TV, and have our viewers who may see themselves in each of you get some lesson out of it. What's interesting in this conversation is that each of you, I think, I'm going to ask you for the lesson.

(UNIDENTIFED FEMALE): Plan for the future.

(UNIDENTIFED FEMALE): Make sure you're happy.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): Don't ever feel like you're too good to do anything.

(UNIDENTIFED FEMALE): Help people out so that when you need help, they can help you.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): Don't be intimidated by the situation. It's a horrible situation, but like you said, we've been talking about that a year. Everybody knows it's a horrible situation. Can't use it as an excuse, you have to put on your big boy pants and go for it.


VELSHI: You have your college degree, you are good to go, time to find a job. Not so fast in this economic climate. We will find out how new college graduates of coping, next.


VELSHI: A few minutes ago you saw me in Columbia, South Carolina's I was sitting on benches with six people. Four of them are recent college grads; they just graduated this past week, in fact. Two graduate in May. Some of them have jobs lined up, some don't. At least one is starting out at a level she didn't need to go to college to attain well despite all that, they are hopeful about their futures.


VELSHI (voice over): You're all of a generation where you've not seen this in your lives. It's not been -- a lot of people haven't seen this in their lives. This is pretty serious. NEDRICK RIVERS, ADVERTISING MAJOR: This is a very competitive world, very competitive field. I wasn't prepared for that, basically. So now I'm coming at it at a totally different angle now. I had to like become a soldier, basically. I was thinking coming out with my head up high, you know, all right. I got all my credentials, my internships and stuff. So I'm going to get a job. It's not like that.

VELSHI: Aja you're working in an industry that has been hit very hard during this recession in tourism and hospitality. Have you got work lined up?


VELSHI: What kind of a job? Tell me?

SANDERS: Just an hourly job, which is kind of, hey what can you do?

VELSHI: Thanks. How do you feel than?

SANDERS: A job is a job. I go got to may my rent. I can't complain. But like I told them I was like hopefully I can move up pretty quickly. They said in a couple of months, I should be able to start into get into the M.I.T. Program.

VELSHI: That's manager in training?

SANDERS: Right. We go to school four years. Most of us don't hope to get paid hourly. We hope to have a salary job. But I really can't complain right now. A lot of people don't have jobs.

VELSHI: Has that hit your confidence?

SANDERS: Nobody is to take a low-paying job. People start low and they go up real high. You have to start somewhere.

CATHERINE MCABEE, PHAMACOLOGY MAJOR: Hopefully our generation will learn from these mistakes. That led us into the recession. We won't be going out and buying outrageous houses that we can't afford and getting mortgages. We really appreciate our jobs.

VELSHI: That sounds like it. That sounds like it. Do you think that your generation or at least your class of this last couple of years will have a different appreciation of money and spending it?

MCABEE: Definitely. Definitely. After you see, you know, these people losing their homes, and I mean, families, loosing their own families losing their homes, and I mean, families, their own families losing their homes.

VELSHI: How are you different than somebody who graduated five years ago?

SANDERS: I think they had it a little bit better. Five years ago I was in high school. Everything was great. In high school, the money was flowing. I had a job in high school as well. Everybody was happy, all of this. I mean, I graduated in a depression. Not like just an economic depression. Like everybody is depressed.

VELSHI: Anybody having disagreements with their families or siblings, their friends about the direction that they're going in or do you find your network very supportive?

DANIELLE MCQUEEN, FASHION MERCHANDISING MAJOR: I was a nursing major two years. When I changed my major to retail everybody was like what are you doing?

Nursing is going to be one the biggest growing jobs in the country.

MCQUEEN: Nursing wasn't my passion. My passion was retailing and merchandizing. I'm going out for the faith and that's what I want to do.

VELSHI: You'd rather struggle a little bit and do the thing you want to do?

MCQUEEN: What I want to do, because it will fulfill me.

VELSHI: I can see why someone might look at you and say, give up nursing to do. But that's interesting. You are going to succeed at it --

WHITFIELD: Take you straight to snowy Washington, D.C. There's the president of the United States commenting about health care reform today and the progress on the hill.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE U.S: The place where I live covered in snow I'm finally starting to feel like home and I am sorry to drag you guys out in this weather, but I wanted to speak briefly to you about the significant progress that we've made on two of the major challenges facing the American people and the cost of health care and our dangerous dependence on fossil fuels.

On health care, with today's developments it now appears that the American people will have the vote they deserve on genuine reform that offers security to those who have health insurance and affordable options for those who do not. So I want to thank Senator Harry Reid and every Senator who's been working around the clock to make this happen. There's still much work left to be done. With not a lot of time left to do it, but today's a major step forward for the American people.

After a nearly century-long struggle we are on the cusp of making health care reform a reality in the United States of America. As with any legislation, compromise is part of the process. I am pleased that recently added amendments have made this landmark bill even stronger. Between the time the bill passes and the time when the insurance exchange gets up and running, there will now be penalties for insurance companies that arbitrarily jack up rates on consumers, and while insurance companies will be prevented from denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions once the exchange is open, in the meantime there will be a high-risk pool where people with pre-existing conditions can purchase affordable coverage. In a recent amendment has made these protections even stronger. Insurance companies will now be prohibited from denying coverage to children immediately after this bill passes. There is also explicit language in this bill that will protect a patient's choice of doctor. And small businesses will get additional assistance as well. These protections are in addition to the ones we've been talking about for some time. No longer will insurance companies be able to drop your coverage if you become sick, and no longer will you have to pay unlimited amounts out of your own pocket for treatments that you need.

Under this bill the family will save on their premiums. Businesses that will see their costs rise if we don't act will save money now and in the future. This bill will strengthen Medicare and extend the life of the program. Because it's paid for and gets rid of waste and inefficiency in our health care system, this will be the largest deficit reduction plan in over a decade. In fact, we just learned from the Congressional Budget Office that this bill will reduce our deficit by $132 billion over the first decade of the program, and more than $1 trillion in the decade after that.

Finally, this reform will make coverage affordable for over 30 million Americans who don't have it. Over 30 million Americans. As I said before, these are not small changes, these are big changes opinion they're fundamental reforms. They will save money. They will save lives, and I look forward to working with the Senate and the House to finish the work that remains so that we can make this reform a reality for the American people.

I also want to briefly mention the progress we've made in Copenhagen yesterday. For the first time in history all of the major, the world's major economies have come together to accept their responsibility to take action to confront the threat of climate change. After extremely difficult and complex negotiations this important breakthrough lays the foundation for international action in the years to come. This progress did not come easily and we know that progress on this particular aspect of climate change negotiations is not enough.

Going forward, we're going to have to build on the momentum that we established in Copenhagen to ensure that international action to significantly reduce emissions is sustained and sufficient over time. At home that means continuing our efforts to build a clean energy economy that has the potential to create millions of new jobs and new industries. And it means passing legislation that will create the incentives necessary to spark this clean energy revolution.

So even though we have a long way to go there's no question that we've accomplish add great deal over the last few days, and I want America to continue to lead on this journey. Because if America leads in developing clean energy, we will lead in growing our economy, in putting our people back to work and lead in a stronger and more secure country for our children. That's why I went to Copenhagen yesterday and that's why I will continue in the weeks and months to come. Thank you very much, everybody.

WHITFIELD: The president of the United States on this very snowy, blustery weekend there in the nation's capital saying he wanted to outline the progress on two fronts affecting the American people. One on climate change as a result of his quick trip to Copenhagen and he also underscored more importantly, perhaps, his views about what took place on Capitol Hill today. U.S. Senate majority Democrats 60, what appears to be 60 votes that might be forthcoming on a health care reform bill that was crafted by Senate majority leader Harry Reid.

Our Brianna Keilar is on Capitol Hill right now. It was a working Saturday for these Senators as well as for the president there. He spelled out what he believed were points of progress on this bill. Specifically saying insurance companies would be prohibited from denying children coverage. He says this will also make coverage more affordable for 30 million Americans who currently don't have coverage, and he said families as a whole will save money on their premiums.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What he's trying to do, Fredricka is emphasize what this does for people who are uninsured and what this does for people who are insured. For the uninsured it provides federal subsidies, coupons, basically that will help people who cannot afford insurance right now purchase insurance. It will be a coupon for really money from the federal government to help them buy insurance and then for those who have insurance or maybe aren't going to get a subsidy, really I guess the victory from the Obama administration's point of view, from Democrats' point of view here is very much these insurance industry reforms, making sure that people cannot be denied coverage on the basis of a pre-existing condition among other thing.

But you know this all came about because of an agreement between Democrats to get 60 votes and this was a really tough negotiation. They happened to get this. It was a one Democratic holdout from Senate majority leader Harry Reid and other Democrats were trying to work on and bring onboard. That was Senator Ben Nelson a social conservative from Nebraska who is against abortion, against abortion rights.

He wanted to make sure there was no taxpayer money going to abortions and he just didn't feel like the language in the Senate bill was tough enough. So he got some concessions to assuage those concerns and really for Democrats being able to go over a major hurdle, they'll have a vote here on Monday very early in the morning, Monday morning that will require 60 votes and this agreement getting 60 Senators on board will allow them to clear that major hurdle a key priority for President Obama.


WHITFIELD: So in part the president would be getting his wish granted for Christmas. He would have something possibly, depending on that 1:00 a.m. Monday vote, just before Christmastime, but it doesn't necessarily mean this is the last hurdle cleared? We are still talking about maybe the first of the year before there might about larger consensus on this type of bill?

KEILER: Well, even that, Fredricka, I think is a heavy list. Because the next step is to reconcile what the House passed. They've passed a health care bill already. Then what the Senate is here expected to pass. They are hugely different bills. I cannot overstate this. The one from the House side includes even stricter abortion language than the one on the Senate side but it also includes that controversial government-run insurance plan, that public option.

The senate one very much does not. These are night and day differences. They're going to hash them out and try to bring something very close into the new year to the president's desk, but it is going to be I think -- a bit more of a slog ahead of us even though this is a major hurdle that was cleared today, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much. Brianna Keilar on Capitol Hill there. We'll have much more from Capitol Hill and the White House at the top of the hour. Meantime, back to YOUR MONEY already in progress.

ROMANS: What do you think, Brian?

WESBURY: I'm going to, for this last 18 months, going to give it to George Bush who went on national TV and said, you could lose your job, your house and your pension, but don't panic. And when the president goes on TV and says, "Don't panic," everybody panics. I think that was the biggest mistake anybody made in the last 18 months. I think it literally caused or was one of the key causes of the panic we lived through late last year and early this year.

ROMANS: Richard.

QUEST: The most stupid thing of all, the dumbest moment, I think, of the past year has been the single-handed irresponsibility of the bank CEOs to recognize the anger of the public. You see it no more clearly than in the bonus fiascos that just keep erupting left, right and center like hand grenades.

ROMANS: All right. Brian Wesbury, Richard Quest, Ali Velshi, guys, we could go on and on about bonehead moments. But I will agree with you Richard that yes there was a real disconnect with the old way Wall Street works and didn't have to deal with public relations, perception from the public. That's all changed because the public rescued Wall Street and now wants a little bit of accountability in return. I agree with you Richard Quest. Thanks gentlemen.

Next, Martha Stewart tells me why my sugar cookies are so hard, and they are. And she has a few words on the new consumer. But first CNN's Thelma Gutierrez has the story of how one gondolier is keeping his business afloat in this week's "Turn around."


THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is a story about the business of romance. A gondola cruise through the canals and waterways of Naples. Naples, California, that is, near Long Beach.

MIKE O'TOOLE, GONDOLA GETAWAY: We started with one little tiny boat in 1982.

GUTIERREZ: Mike O'Toole is a California beach boy who saw money and love. He started the gondola getaway near the bay where he grew up. I couldn't think of a better place for the interview. So this was born out of a love. It was born out of a dream that you had.

O'TOOLE: I had always seen pictures of gondolas out here. I thought that would be great. I did it as a college project.

GUTIERREZ: After he graduated, Mike set off for Venice where he learned to row with the gondoliers. He came back with his first boat.

O'TOOLE: Dug out his roses, replanted them, and made the boat float. You saw me standing alone.

GUTIERREZ: Twenty eight years later, Mike has a fleet of ten custom- made gondolas, and has seen a fair amount of courting.

O'TOOLE: They can tune you completely out. Oh, my word.

GUTIERREZ: Marriage proposals, and lately, gondola weddings. But in this economy, at $75 a couple per hour, Mike found out that even the most romantic at heart couldn't afford to indulge and business dropped.

O'TOOLE: Oh, it was 50 percent, at least. It was like; we were already into a problem now. We didn't realize it so we had to get creative. We had to get down and dirty and figure out something new. Got bless the Internet.

GUTIERREZ: Mike reached out and formed alliances with other Italian- themed business owners. How did you do it?

O'TOOLE: Just start sharing information. Being linked on their Website. Me having brochures in both places of both businesses. That was a way to make us bigger.

GUTIERREZ: What should small businesses avoid?

O'TOOLE: Avoid overspending. You don't know where the end of this thing is going to be. You've got to buckle up and hold on tight.

GUTIERREZ: If another low tide hits, will you be better prepared to deal with it knowing what you know now?

O'TOOLE: Yes. I think what we are building now is a strong low-tide business, so to speak. When it's high tide, it will be twice as high. When it comes down low, we are always prepared for that.

GUTIERREZ: He says it's always easier to weather a storm if you do something you love.

O'TOOLE: The tradition of a kiss underneath the bridge for the couple. It's pretty amazing. Well, we've got to keep that tradition here. We don't know each other well enough yet. That's one bridge.

GUTIERREZ: Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Naples, California.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROMANS: Don't forget, the Dolan's are coming up next in the "CNN Newsroom." This week they'll tell you 11 ways to find extra money right now. Martha Stewart, her name says it all from the 69 cookbooks, magazines, TV show, to the house wares, crafts line. Martha Stewart's empire is vast and she says she is not done yet.

I went over to Martha Stewart's studio to chat about the future of you, the consumer. Take a look.


ROMANS (voice over): I want to talk first about the consumer. The new consumer is focusing on home. They really are, I looked at the research. Trying to spend a little bit less, but trying to spend money in a way that adds value to their family.

MARTHA STEWART, HOST, "MARTHA STEWART LIVING:" Yes, because so many people's homes have become less valuable in terms of price, but more valuable in terms of being a place where the family is centered, where family is really living. They're spending more time at home. They want to cook more because they found that cooking good nutritious, healthy meals at home is less expensive than going out or bringing in or stopping at the fast food places.

ROMANS: Right.

STEWART: For me, it just makes me happier that people are realizing that home is a good place. A place where you can enjoy crafts and baking and cooking and entertaining with your family and friends. And I think the economy has really done that, the down turn in the economy.

ROMANS: Let's talk about some of the things people can do at home. Things they can do with their family save a little bit of money or at least on the heels of a recession begin to look more inward.

STEWART: Let me point everybody first to our Website at We are known for holidays, we are known for trusted and true and workable recipes. Cookies right now, I think, are the big search item on our website.

ROMANS: I just searched this the other day. Mine get very dry; I have a hard time keeping them moist in the middle.


ROMANS: The sugar cookie is very brittle.

STEWART: Have you tried our recipe? It's very good.

ROMANS: Do you think this trend lasts? Do you think if the economy starts to recover next year people go back to their bad old ways of overconsumption or do you think that value and home is something people are going to treasure?

STEWART: I certainly hope and think the home, which is now home- centric for pretty much everybody, I think people are realizing that it's fun to cook, that it's fun to craft. They're not doing it just out of necessity, they are also enjoying themselves.

And also, it's economical. And when people get to feel value and feel that they are not wasting money, that they're actually saving money so they can go on that great vacation or they can pay their kids' tuition, they feel that this is a good way to live.

That's how I was brought up. We were all brought up eating at home, a family dinner, talk around the table. What are you reading? What are you learning? What did you see today? What did you experience? Those are nice things.

ROMANS: And my grandmother always said you can't buy the laughter around the table. You can buy the expensive roast or a bottle of wine, but the laughter around the table is free. And so I think maybe the American families are starting to recognize that.

Let me ask you a little bit about what's next then for the Martha Stewart brand?

STEWART: We will continue to expand our Home Depot offerings. And hopefully it will be a very expansive program. I'm very excited about it.

And for the first time we're really getting to the do-it-yourselfers in a big way, because Home Depot is the largest home store in America selling so much products for do-it-yourselfers. So hopefully we'll get onto a lot of those categories.

We continue to expand our beautiful line at Macy's which is focused on house-wares, bedding, and bath. And I'm very excited -- and wedding registry. We are the number one registered brand at Macy's.

We are evolving our magazines. You're going to see great stuff in our magazines. And our Web site is burgeoning.


ROMANS: Thanks for joining us for "Your Money." You can follow Ali Velshi. He is in Savannah, Georgia, but you can follow him on Facebook and Twitter. I'm at Christi Romans, he's at Ali Velshi.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And I'm coming home. I'll be there all next week, Christine. Make sure you join us every week for your money, Saturdays at 1:00 p.m., Sundays at 3:00 p.m.

Have a great and safe weekend.