Return to Transcripts main page

YOUR MONEY

The Economy Election; Medi-scare Tactics; Paul Ryan's Roots; The Price of Your Vote; Why the Middle Class Matters

Aired August 18, 2012 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Governor Romney has made his choice. And now it's your turn. Does the selection of Paul Ryan change the conversation in an election that continues to be focused on the economy?

I'm Poppy Harlow. And this is YOUR MONEY. Ali Velshi is away this week but he's been warning us of an impending economic storm that could hit our shores.

Yes, since Romney tapped Ryan to be his running mate, it sure seems like the conversation on jobs and economy has been overtaken by a debate on entitlements and budget cuts. That's odd because when it comes to the U.S. economy, President Obama has a lot to answer for.

Take a look at these numbers. It's Gross Domestic Product. The broadest measure of the economy. And it has fallen steadily from a far more healthy 4 percent in the final quarter of last year to a very sluggish 1.5 percent in the most recent reading.

And those figures are consistent with how Americans are feeling. A recent CNN/ORC poll, you see it here, what it found is that 63 percent of respondents say the economy is doing poorly. That's an increase of 6 percent from April.

And jobs, nothing is more important to our recovery than creating jobs. Unemployment remains high at 8.3 percent. But the even more important number that you should look at each month in this report is how many jobs were created. In July, 163,000 jobs were added. That is an improvement. But tell that to the 12.8 million Americans still out of a job and looking for work.

So while Mitt Romney made his choice, it's now up to America to make its.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Paul Ryan and I believe in America. And we believe in you. In this election we're offering Americans a clear and honest choice.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Obama-nomics is not working. And you know what? The recovery starts November 6th when President Obama is not working in the White House any longer.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The direction that you choose when you walk into that voting booth in November is going to have an impact not just on your lives but on your children's lives, your grandchildren's lives for decades to come. This one counts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Stephen Moore is an editorial writer with the "Wall Street Journal."

And Stephen, I have to, I have tell you, you know, one word I haven't heard all week is Bain Capital. But another thing I haven't seen, frankly, is a focus on jobs and economy. Does the Ryan selection take voters' attention away from an economy that is still very, very much struggling under this president?

STEPHEN MOORE, EDITOR WRITER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, Poppy, let me just first say for full disclosure, I've been friends with Paul Ryan for 20 years. So I have a personal bias. I just love the guy. I think he was a great pick for Republicans.

You know, what I think that the impact of Paul Ryan being on this ticket, Poppy. is that it kind of raises the stakes. It makes this campaign -- even more so about big substantive issues, not just jobs and the economy. You're right, those are issues number one and number two. But also what are we going to do about this big budget deficit? What are we going to do about the tax probe?

HARLOW: But why not take on issues one and two head on first?

MOORE: Because, Poppy, I think that the case that Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney have to make is these are all tied together. That just as you need a strong economy to get the ducks to sit down, we do need reform in these entitlement programs. We do need reforms in our tax system if we're going to get back to that 4 to 5 percent growth path that we should be on.

You know, Paul Ryan, whether you -- whether you like him or don't like him, he is very conversant in these issues. There's almost nobody in Washington who knows the kind of back rooms of the budget and those numbers better than he does. So I think this is going to be kind of an education of the American people about the budget.

HARLOW: Right. And I don't think anyone is debating whether Paul Ryan is smart on budgets.

MOORE: Yes. Right.

HARLOW: We all know that. It's whether he has the right plan. So I want to bring in Greg Valliere. He's a chief political strategist with the Potomac Research Group, a nonpartisan think thank in Washington, D.C.

You know, Greg, conservatives got VP pick in Paul Ryan that they can certainly may even agree with him on policy and on vision. But you know it's interesting there was this fascinating political article that came out on Monday. And it showed that a lot of Republican strategist are very much questioning this and whether they feel good about this choice politically. You bring up the point of Republican congressman and women in some pretty hot contests right now think this could hurt them.

GREG VALLIERE, CHIEF POLITICAL STRATEGIST, POTOMAC RESEARCH GROUP: It could. You know, Poppy, Paul Ryan is like my friend Stephen Moore. Great guy. Very knowledgeable on these issues. But, at the same time, they might be a little too bold for a lot of American voters.

To me, the name of the game is getting 270, 270 electoral college votes. I think this pick makes it a little tougher to win Florida. I can't see Romney winning the election without Florida. So that hurts. And the other thing that, as you mentioned in your question to Stephen, is that instead of speaking about Obama's very mediocre record on jobs and the economy, we're now going to talk about entitlements. I think that takes away a more lucrative, more fertile battleground for the Republicans if they're going to be talking about Medicare.

HARLOW: So I want to bring in "Politico's" Wall Street correspondent Ben White.

I mean, Ben, let's talk about it, when you talk about this issue, when you talk about the president. If President Obama had to sell his economic record to voters without mentioning Bush and what he was given, without mentioning Romney or Ryan, could he do it?

BEN WHITE. WALL STREET CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: He's had a hard time doing it. And that's why you see a lot of attacks against Mitt Romney and talk about his tax -- you know, his tax returns and Bain Capital and all that stuff.

HARLOW: Yes.

WHITE: What he has to say is that things would have been a lot worse if we hadn't done what we did which was pass the stimulus act and keep us away from a great depression.

HARLOW: And it's something people don't want to hear that.

WHITE: They don't want to hear that, and that's why the Obama campaign really wants to talk about Mitt Romney and what Mitt Romney's ideas are. And I think the Paul Ryan pick actually helps them talk about the alternative that Romney presents.

HARLOW: You get some substance.

WHITE: You get some substance and it's substance they like talking about. They like talking about Medicare, they like talking about Social Security. The Romney campaign is trying to go on attacks saying Obama will cut Medicare which actually isn't true. And the Obama campaign really wants to talk about these issues and Ryan lets them do that.

HARLOW: I want you to listen to this quick thought from Paul Ryan. Clearly focusing on the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

P. RYAN: President Obama cannot run on his record. Just think about it. This is the worst economic recovery if you call it that in 70 years. He promised he'd keep unemployment from going up above 8 percent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: So he has a point there and that is that it has been quite a long time since the president got elected with unemployment this high. And that's just history.

WHITE: Right. And it really hasn't happened since FDR.

HARLOW: Right.

WHITE: And it's absolutely history and that's true. But you look at where we came from. And this is the narrative the Obama campaign has to -- try to sell, which is a difficult sales job. But it's -- look, we were headed towards a great depression, we were headed toward 10 percent more unemployment.

They made some two rosy projections early on. And that's their big problem, their initial response to the crisis and their passage of the stimulus to say we're going to get below 8 percent unemployment. Probably shouldn't have said that. But it's tough to return from these financial crisis. They go very deep. They take a long time to recover from. It puts the Obama campaign in a tough spot. But they'll have to say we took these steps and here's what we're going to do in the future.

But the Romney campaign, I think, with the Ryan pick is getting off of their message.

HARLOW: So, and Stephen wants to jump -- go ahead.

MOORE: Can I add something?

HARLOW: Yes.

MOORE: I want to take you guys on a little bit on this issue of the politics of picking Paul Ryan. And look, Greg, I respect your political opinion. I read your stuff all the time. So I defer to you on this. But I think here's why you might be a little wrong on this. I think what Paul Ryan has done for the ticket, it has energized and electrified conservative voters who quite frankly, Poppy, weren't all that excited about --

HARLOW: Stephen? Stephen?

MOORE: About Mitt Romney in the first place.

HARLOW: So --

MOORE: So I think the fact that you know have conservatives really, strongly supporting this ticket, the intensity issue, Greg, I think is important.

HARLOW: So did Sarah Palin.

VALLIERE: Where are they going to go?

HARLOW: Sarah Palin energized the ticket.

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: Well, Sarah Palin --

VALLIERE: Where were they going to go?

WHITE: And I also bring up in Montana, you've got a Senate candidate, Danny Rehberg, who is running in a conservative state or a conservative candidate for the United States Senate. He is running on his vote against the Ryan budget.

VALLIERE: Right.

WHITE: And the fact is that congressional candidates are running away from Paul Ryan. They're running away from the Ryan budget.

HARLOW: All right. Stephen Moore, thank you very much. And Greg, thank you. We'll get back to both of you after the break. Ben, thank you for joining us.

WHITE: Pleasure.

HARLOW: Up next, was Mitt Romney's choice of Paul Ryan and his controversial plan for Medicare a senior moment?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: My plan has already extended Medicare by nearly a decade. Their plan ends Medicare as we know it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: President Obama on the attack. But the Romney-Ryan ticket firing back. A key member of Obama's re-election campaign is here and we are going to find out just exactly what happens to Medicare, the truth. What happens to Medicare under Obamacare. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: Paul Ryan's plan to limit federal funds for entitlement programs including Medicare has come under intense scrutiny since Ryan was named as Romney's running mate, especially from seniors. Since 1965, Medicare has provided federal health insurance to Americans 65 and older.

According to the Pew Research Center, 88 percent of Americans believe that Medicare is, quote, "good for the country."

Ryan's plan, if implemented, would apply to people who are now 55 and younger. In other words, it would not touch today's seniors. Under it, Americans who reach retirement age can opt to get a federal subsidy or a voucher projected to be about $8,000 a year to use to buy private insurance. Seniors could also choose traditional Medicare instead. But some do make the argument that that Medicare system would be weaker than it currently is.

Now people talk about cuts in Medicare in both Ryan's plan and in the Affordable Health Care Act or Obamacare which is law of the land now. And that is true. Both plans do try to cut costs. They have to. This program, it's running out of money. It is unsustainable in the long run. But the plan's address cost cutting in different ways. Obamacare saves money by capping payments to health care providers like hospitals or insurers.

Ryan's plan will work in two-ways. First off, he believes that competition from the private sector would bring costs down. Keep them down. Secondly, his plan would cap the amount that government pays out each year to seniors in the form of vouchers. Now one expert told CNN Money, quote, "It's a different philosophy on who would bear the burden."

Now let's get to the politics of it all. According to Pew, 51 percent of seniors oppose Ryan's plan to offer credit towards purchasing private health coverage. Only 25 percent favor it.

Greg Valliere and Stephen Moore are still with us. But I also want to bring in Jen Psaki, she's an Obama campaign spokesperson and former deputy White House press secretary.

Thank you, Jen, for joining us.

JEN PSAKI, OBAMA CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON: Thank you.

HARLOW: We know you're very busy these days. You know, Jen, the president said his plan extends Medicare for almost a decade and he said, look, the Ryan budget is going to end Medicare, quote, :as we know it." But is that fair given the fact that there is that option under the Ryan plan for seniors to opt to stay under traditional Medicare?

PSAKI: Well, first I'll say don't take our word for it. The AARP has also said that the president's plan would strengthen Medicare, would extend the solvency of the program and has said that the Romney-Ryan plan would undermine Medicare and could pass costs along to seniors by up to $6,000, or even more than $6,000.

HARLOW: No, you know, Jen, I know you're citing that $6400 number. And that is actually what the CBO marked on Ryan's previous budget released in 2011. So that doesn't apply to the most current one.

PSAKI: Well, which Mitt Romney said he would have signed. So --

HARLOW: But it doesn't apply to the most current one.

(CROSSTALK)

PSAKI: Well --

HARLOW: So I just want our viewers to know that.

PSAKI: OK. But, you know, regardless of that, I think, you know, this is an important debate we're going to have. We know that seniors in Florida are waking up to headlines across the state that are saying be concerned about the Romney-Ryan budget. Worry about what it means for Medicare.

We know what the president's plan represents and stands for. He was raised by his grandparents. He knows that Medicare is a program we need to strengthen and protect. And that's what he's done throughout his presidency. So we're happy to have this debate.

HARLOW: I want to bring in Stephen Moore.

Stephen, I want to show you this map. Hopefully you can see it there. But we're showing Florida. Florida has the greatest proportion of people who are at least 65. That is followed by West Virginia, Maine, Pennsylvania, and Iowa. So here's what our team was talking about and thinking about.

Could the campaign here, the Romney-Ryan campaign, have had a senior moment that could cost them a crucial swing state like Florida?

MOORE: Well, don't forget, I mean the crucial statistic about the Ryan plan is that anybody over the age of 55 is not affected by the Ryan plan. So those seniors in states like Florida and Ohio that are being scared that they're going to lose their Medicare, it simply isn't true.

HARLOW: But you know what, Stephen, people -- those seniors aren't just thinking about themselves. They're thinking about their grandkids and their kids.

MOORE: But -- hold on, though. If -- this is the whole point. If those seniors are really thinking about their grandkids, then the Ryan plan is the only plan that saves Medicare. I mean the one point that you didn't make, Poppy, that is so important for every American to understand is if we don't save money for this program, even President Obama himself has said in nine years the program is going to be bankrupt. That is to say there will be no Medicare because there's no money to pay for it any longer.

The costs of Medicare right now are $500 billion. In 10 years, it's going to be close to a trillion dollars. This program is crowding out everything else in the budget.

HARLOW: All right. I want to bring in Greg, also.

Greg Valliere, weigh in on this. You know when I was reading some of your writing, you know, you said something interesting, too, when it comes to the -- to the broader markets which do impact our economy that the markets, Wall Street loves Romney. But the Ryan pick could undermine that. How does that all play in here? VALLIERE: Well, look, Poppy, I'm not affiliated with either party. So let me make a cynical comment more than a political comment. We live in an era now of sound bites and bumper stickers. When -- when anyone says well, let me explain how this is going to work, I'm sorry but a lot of people's eyes glaze over.

I know what Stephen is saying. And there is any merit in any plan that will strengthen Medicare. But in a bumper sticker campaign, I'm not sure this is going to play very well. I think people realize that this is the third rail. When you touch that third rail, people get burned.

HARLOW: You know, Jen, I do want to bring you back in here because we heard Paul Ryan say this week, you know, we are happy to have this debate over entitlements, over Medicare. But I do -- I do agree with Greg that a lot of people's eyes glaze over. It's very complicated, wonky --

PSAKI: That's true.

HARLOW: -- to explain it. So is the president ready to take on this battle? Is it helpful for you guys because it takes the focus off of persistently weak economy? What's your play here?

PSAKI: Well, look, we'd be happy to have a debate about our economic plans and our tax plans. And you know, we know that we're going to keep talking about the Tax Policy Center report and what it said about what the Romney-Ryan -- now Romney-Ryan plan would do by -- by leaving the burden of extending tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires on the middle class. But this is a debate they brought up. It's a debate we're happy to have.

I think another important piece of this is that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have been very straightforward about their desire to end the Affordable Care Act. We know we need to do more educating on the Affordable Care Act. But the Affordable Care Act has actually lowered the cost of prescription drugs for millions of seniors by hundreds of dollars. It's helped cover people with pre-existing conditions.

HARLOW: Right.

PSAKI: And these are pieces we'll also be talking about beyond the budget.

HARLOW: I want to bring Greg in and give him the last word. I mean, where should the focus be right now, Greg? Because it's clearly shifted this week. We'll see if it shifts back to jobs and the economy or if it shifts and focuses on taxes. You know, what's your final take here?

VALLIERE: I think it should be on the economy and jobs. But there's been a fundamental re-altering of this campaign. It's now on entitlements. We didn't even talk about Social Security. The idea of partial privatization is equally explosive.

I think bringing all these issues in is maybe it will succeed. But it's a very risky move for the Republicans.

HARLOW: Yes. And we've seen in past, in history what happened when you bring up privatizing Social Security. But that would make for an even more wonky debate. So we'll see if maybe that is next week, guys.

VALLIERE: Right.

HARLOW: Maybe that's next week.

VALLIERE: All right.

HARLOW: Thank you all very much.

PSAKI: Appreciate it.

HARLOW: Jen Psaki.

MOORE: Thank you.

HARLOW: Up next, before he was picked as vice presidential candidate, Ali Velshi sat down with Paul Ryan one-on-one to find out which Democrat he would pick to sit down with in a room and work out a budget deal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

P. RYAN: I would like to work with President Mitt Romney and I'd like to work with the Senate that's run by Mitch McConnell.

ALI VELSHI, HOST: Can you choose somebody who is in office right now?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: He didn't. So if elected, is the guru behind the Republican economic agenda capable of compromising to break the dangerous gridlock in Washington?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: Well, Governor Mitt Romney picked a numbers guy for a running mate in Congressman Paul Ryan. Ryan who is the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee is pretty much the architect of the GOP's economic agenda these days. But some say that could hurt rather than help the party's chances come November.

Ryan Liza is a Washington correspondent with the "New Yorker." He wrote an in-depth, really the definite piece recently, on Paul Ryan, which is published just a few days before Ryan was selected to join the Romney ticket.

And I want to read the tweet that you put out there. You said, "He's a very nice guy," talking about Ryan, "but I would be flabbergasted if Romney picked him as a VP."

So you along with many others were shocked by this decision. RYAN LIZZA, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORKER: Yes.

HARLOW: But what stood out to me in your piece, Ryan, is you said when people envision what Republicans would do come November, if they win the election, you don't need to understand Romney. You need to understand Paul Ryan.

LIZZA: Yes.

HARLOW: And frankly, he has so many more details out there in his proposals than we know from Romney. Romney's camp has been very, very shy on any details. Do you sense that Ryan is at all concerned that his proposals, his budget proposal, for example, could hurt Romney? Does he have that concern?

LIZZA: No, I don't think he does. In fact, quite the opposite. I mean one of the -- one of the things that came up when I interviewed him and interviewed him a couple of times in July and there was this debate in Republican politics. Do you run the safe campaign and just wait for Obama to sort of collapse because the economy is so bad and then you're just standing there as the default alternative?

Or do you run a big, bold ideas driven campaign and make the campaign not just a referendum on the current president but a choice between two visions of America? And Ryan was arguing to me that that's the kind of campaign he wanted Romney to run.

HARLOW: So compromise. Compromise is key to getting anything done no matter who wins. But compromise is not something that we're seeing in Washington right now. And so you want to see that for whomever you're going to vote for.

You know, our Ali Velshi sat down with Paul Ryan back in April and they talked about compromise. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Could you and the president sit in a room like this or a Starbucks or a room we provide, and hammer out a budget? Notwithstanding all of the outside concerns?

P. RYAN: I would love to try. I would love to try. The president has given us four budgets. He's never once attempted to do that. I mean usually you have to get an invitation from the White House to do such a thing. I've always wanted to do that. I've always wanted to try.

When I first put budgets out, I -- maybe I was naive. I thought if I put this budget plan out, then others will put their plans on the table.

VELSHI: Right.

P. RYAN: Then we'll start debating each other's plans and then we'll get to emerging -- a consensus. The problem is we put our plan out there and nobody followed suit. And now what we've got -- found is the president decided not to put out a plan to solve the problem. The Senate hasn't passed a budget over 1,000 days. They waited for Republicans to offer our solutions and then they just simply attack it.

VELSHI: Right.

P. RYAN: For the election purposes.

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: But a lot of the things that you have said --

P. RYAN: So I just don't see -- I don't see that kind of leadership from this president if we were going to get this kind of leadership from this president, we would have gotten that by now.

VELSHI: Ultimately, you almost got to deal with this before that. So if you had to choose --

P. RYAN: Well, I don't think that's right. I don't think the president -- if the president wanted to have a budget agreement.

VELSHI: Right.

P. RYAN: Then he would have given us a budget that attempts to solve the problem. And Harry Reid would be passing budgets. Harry Reid has decided --

VELSHI: Who would you --

P. RYAN: -- not to pass a budget.

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: We said we can put you in a room and you guys have three days to work it out.

P. RYAN: I don't know --

VELSHI: Who on the other side would you most like to work with? Because -- I'll try and get it done. I'll try and get you that person.

P. RYAN: I would like to work with President Mitt Romney and I'd like to work with the Senate that's run by Mitch McConnell.

VELSHI: Can you choose -- can you choose somebody who is in office right now on the Democratic side?

(LAUGHTER)

VELSHI: Well, I'm asking you, who on the Democratic side do you think has the wherewithal?

P. RYAN: Yes, see -- to me it's not about the people or the party, it's about the ideas. VELSHI: Right.

P. RYAN: Where are the best ideas to saving and shrinking this country, these problems, Medicare and things like that?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: No answer. No answer for a single person across the aisle that he would sit down with. This is a very smart man. A man who is respected from people in both parties whether they agree with his policies or not and well liked.

LIZZA: And well liked by a lot of Democrats.

HARLOW: And well-liked. Do you get a sense that Paul Ryan is part of the problem in Washington or part of the solution?

LIZZA: I mean, to be very honest, he has not had a background in forging bipartisan agreements. And in the last few years, if you look at his record on these budget issues, he's -- he was a part of Simpson-Bowles. That was the commission that --

HARLOW: Sure.

LIZZA: Bipartisan commission that got together to put together a plan to deal with the long-term deficit issues. He was a dissenting vote on that bipartisan plan. Boehner and Obama, they got together. They were this close to having an agreement inside the Republican caucus.

HARLOW: Right. On a grand -- grand bargain.

LIZZA: This is less -- yes, this is less well known. Inside the Republican caucus, Ryan was -- well, along with Eric Cantor and other more conservative members were telling Boehner don't do it. We don't like this agreement. Let's take this issue to the American people. Win the election and institute our budget into 2013.

HARLOW: And no agreement so that president doesn't get re-elected?

LIZZA: That was his argument. That was his -- that was Paul Ryan's argument. So he's not known as someone who's forging bipartisan consensus. He's known as someone who's deeply conservative, has very set ideas about these -- about the budget and wants his ideas to prevail.

HARLOW: (INAUDIBLE)

LIZZA: There's nothing wrong with that. But there's no reason to assume that he's --

HARLOW: Right.

LIZZA: If he's vice president he's going to be good at building bridges to the other party.

HARLOW: And the record shows votes very much along his party lines. LIZZA: Absolutely. Absolutely.

HARLOW: All right. Ryan Lizza. Don't go anywhere. We'll be back with you.

Coming up next, the hometown that shaped a world view. Jamesville, Wisconsin, home of Paul Ryan. It's a town searching for an identity years after an auto plant closing put thousands out of work.

I went to Jamesville to find out how it could play into the presidential election.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: Jamesville, Wisconsin, it's a blue collar town of about 64,000 people and home to the presumed Republican Party's vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan. It's a town that is still reeling from the closing of a massive GM plant that employed thousands of workers.

I spent time in Jamesville this summer. Folks there told me it's a town that's frankly searching for an identity. Jamesville is also a town that traditionally votes Democrat. It was a very union based town. But that could change in this upcoming election.

Ted Rowlands reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tobin Ryan says it's still hard to believe that his little brother whom he shared a bedroom with could be the next vice president of the United States.

TOBIN RYAN, BROTHER OF PAUL P. RYAN: We're still coming off from a cloud. And we learned about the acceptance, you know, Friday night like most everybody did.

ROWLANDS: It really hit home, Tobin, says at Sunday's rally in Wisconsin when Paul, his wife Jana and his mother teared up with emotion.

T. P. RYAN: To see Paul and Jana and the tears on their face, it really dawned on us that we were at a special moment in time.

ROWLANDS: At 42, Paul Ryan is the youngest of four children, his father Paul Sr., an attorney, died of a heart attack when Paul was 16.

TOM THORPE, FAMILY FRIEND: He's the one that found his father and he was home alone at that time. I think he grew up a lot faster than he otherwise would have.

ROWLANDS: Tony Hummel runs an online television company in Jamesville, Wisconsin. He's known Paul Ryan since elementary school. He says his friend who often comes across as Mr. Serious has a great sense of humor.

TONY HUMMEL, PAUL RYAN'S FRIEND: He has this witty side of him that not a lot of people get to see.

ROWLANDS: Some of that comes across in this interview Hummel did two weeks ago with Ryan for a local comedy program.

HUMMEL: You have a beautiful family, Jana, kids.

P. P. RYAN: I do. You do, too, Tony Hummel.

HUMMEL: Thank you. Which one is your favorite?

P. P. RYAN: All of them. That's pretty good.

HUMMEL: One of my most vivid memories, we're 27 years old. And we sit down, he goes, I think I'm running of Congress. And we both just laughed. I mean, are you kidding me? What?

ROWLANDS: Ryan's run for Congress did not surprise his high school government affairs teacher.

SAM LOIZZO, TEACHER: He was one of those kids that you could pretty much predict that he would go places.

ROWLANDS: Sam Loizzo says he's kept in close contact with Ryan, every year before retiring he took his class to Washington to visit Ryan, and was Ryan's guest for the 2001 George W. Bush inaugural. Even though they're such good friends, Loizzo says Ryan knows he'll never get the vote of his former teacher.

LOIZZO: There's no doubt about it that he's a great guy, a great family guy, cares a lot about the community. But we just don't see eye-to-eye on politics.

ROWLANDS (on camera): And Sam Loizzo says that he's a life long Democrat. So he won't be voting for his former high school student or Mitt Romney. But he says, along with other people here in Jamesville, Wisconsin, that he is absolutely proud of what Paul Ryan has been able to accomplish.

Ted Rowlands, CNN, Jamesville, Wisconsin.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: Great piece by Ted Rowlands there.

So, you know, we both have been to Jamesville. This is very much a working class town. But as you say in your piece, the Ryan family is an established well known family there.

LIZZA: Yes.

HARLOW: You know, certainly not blue collar. I mean they did run a construction firm. But very well off.

LIZZA: Yes.

HARLOW: But you know it's interesting, right, you hear the criticism from the left that Ryan's proposals are proposals that break the back of the elderly and the poor, and help the rich. This town and his formative years do not seem like a time or a town that shapes someone that would do that. Are the attacks from the left on that point misguided?

LIZZA: Well, look, I think -- I think his ideology comes out of a belief. This is what he said in the first budget he put out, that the only way to be truly free is to take as much responsibility for yourself as possible.

HARLOW: Right.

LIZZA: So I think that's as clear a statement of his ideology and what drives him as anything. And so if you believe that -- and look, he -- you know, he got into these sort of libertarian philosophers at one point in his life. And if you believe that freedom is inherently tied to how much responsibility you take for yourself, then your view of the social safety net and your view of government programs is very, very different.

HARLOW: One other question. You know, through 2007, before he renounced earmarks.

LIZZA: Yes.

HARLOW: Paul Ryan got a lot of earmarks --

LIZZA: Yes.

HARLOW: Like most congressmen and women do for his district. Everything from highways to retraining for autoworkers. And you pointed this out to him when you talked to him. You know, that a lot of what helped his hometown was government spending.

LIZZA: Yes.

HARLOW: How did he square that with you?

LIZZA: You can't help but notice when you go to Jamesville they're recovering from a dramatic loss of a major GM plant. And all of the success stories in Jamesville right now are directly tied to some federal money, some state money and some city money but it's all government money. That's what -- there is an economic development thing happening there.

HARLOW: There is. Yes.

LIZZA: It's all about partnership between the private sector and the public sector. Unavoidable. You know, when I mentioned this to Ryan, I said, come on, you -- this whole campaign now is about the role of government and the economy. And you guys are hammering President Obama for his argument that, you know, you didn't build that.

HARLOW: You didn't do it alone.

LIZZA: I went to Jamesville, the government is building stuff there. HARLOW: Yes.

LIZZA: And, you know, he said, look, that's just a caricature of who I am. I am not an anti-government fierce libertarian. Of course I believe in the government. Of course I believe that it should provide infrastructure and airports. So, you know, that was his response. That he -- the caricature of him is not quite right.

HARLOW: You know, also, like he is the one in 2008 -- you know, who helped push through banning earmarks.

LIZZA: He did. So, you know, he's pretty pure now on earmarks. That is the process by which special process in the legislative process where you -- where you put in legislative language like, OK --

HARLOW: Right.

LIZZA: -- business in Jamesville is going to get $100,000. He stopped doing that. A lot of the businesses in Jamesville aren't that happy about it. He's had some tough conversations with people back home about that. On the other hand, as has been reported this week, he has done the sort of new version of earmarks which is as a Congress person you write a letter to the e administration and you say --

HARLOW: Sure.

LIZZA: You know, government bureaucrat X, like the Energy Department --

(CROSSTALK)

HARLOW: And he'll say he's doing his job.

LIZZA: He says he's doing his job.

HARLOW: For his constituents.

LIZZA: And it's -- you know, some people say it's a more transparent process. You know, you're not actually writing into legislative language but you're lobbying --

HARLOW: For it.

LIZZA: For it.

HARLOW: Very interesting. Fascinating stuff. A good inside look at a man we're all just really getting to know. Thank you so much, Ryan.

LIZZA: Hey, thank you.

HARLOW: Appreciate it.

LIZZA: My pleasure.

HARLOW: Coming up, it's Wall Street versus Hollywood in a battle for campaign cash. We're going to tell you where the billions, yes, billions of dollars are going. That's straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: The economy is still the number one issue in this election. And we hear both candidates talk a lot about your money. But the real politics of this campaign seems to be campaign cash.

Opensecrets.org says the presidential race will cost -- get this -- $2.5 billion. So we hit the streets here in New York to ask how much is your vote worth?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't really think it's worth much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not too sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A dollar (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe like $1.30 or something?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty-five dollars.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fifty bucks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At least $75.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A thousand?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five hundred thousand dollars.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's priceless. What else can I say?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My vote is worth everything to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: It should be worth everything to you. Both President Obama and Governor Romney are drawing millions from donors. Romney raked in $101 million in July. The president pulled in $75 million last month.

But where is the big money coming from? Well, Governor Romney's got Wall Street. And it looks like the president's got Hollywood. Romney's top five donor groups are all from the financial sector, from Goldman Sachs to Morgan Stanley to Bank of America. But to be clear here, we're talking about people who work at those companies, not the companies themselves.

Meantime, some Hollywood A-listers are backing the president. One event at producer Harvey Weinstein's beachfront home where donors reportedly paid more than $38,000 a plate for some face time with the president.

Jeffery Katzenberg and Tyler Perry are also big bundlers of funds for the Obama campaign. George Clooney, Alec Baldwin, Tom Hanks are donors as well. But both campaigns seeing more than 90 percent of the money they brought in during July came from normal folks, folks donating $250 or less. So we asked you, if you have 250 bucks, would do give it to the Obama campaign, the Romney campaign? Would you keep it? What would you do?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would definitely keep it for myself. I'm not going to lie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keeping the money for myself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd split it between me and Obama?

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd probably give it to the Obama campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll do half and half.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First of all, I don't think they need the money. So I'll probably keep it for myself. Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

HARLOW: I would keep it for myself, too, I think. I'm joined now by Will Cain, he's is a CNN contributor, and Chrystia Freeland, she's the editor at Thomson Reuters Digital.

Will is dying to jump in here.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I love the guy whose vote is worth half a million dollars. It's not priceless but it's not cheap.

(CROSSTALK)

CAIN: That man is classy.

HARLOW: It's not -- it's not cheap either. All right. So we know millions coming in each month, billions is the projection at $2.5 billion campaign.

Will, I'll start with you. What do donors get for this money?

CAIN: Well, I think the most obvious thing they get is influence. They get influence over all of us and who we choose for a candidate. That money is going to go towards advertising, trying to convince us who we should vote for. So we have to say, first and foremost, and clearly it's influence. But anything beyond influence now we're projecting.

You know, bribery, selling votes in the form of politician doing quid pro quo. That's against the law. HARLOW: You know, and --

CAIN: So we have to really kind of peer behind the curtain if we're going to say what do these votes get donors from politicians?

HARLOW: Well -- and also when you look at the top donors to the Romney campaign and, you know, both of you clearly see this. It's a huge switch from what it was in 2008.

CAIN: Right.

HARLOW: You know, Obama had the backing of a lot of the folks of the big banks. And now he doesn't. And frankly a lot of that likely come down to rhetoric and the tone towards Wall Street.

Will, that's your point.

CAIN: I think that's one of the main things Wall Street is banking on getting for their donations. They want a tonal change from the White House. They don't want to hear anymore about Wall Street being the source of what many see as a lot of our problems.

Look, I'll give you this example. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has said at this point he's barely a Democrat. The point being he's a Democrat but he's certainly displeased with what he's hearing coming out of Washington.

HARLOW: Chrystia?

CHRYSTIA FREELAND, EDITOR, THOMSON REUTERS DIGITAL: I agree with you, Poppy, that this shift of Wall Street money is really huge. It's a big deal in this campaign. And it says a lot about the Obama administration and definitely you talked to the guys on Wall Street and the first thing they'll say is we hate the tone. You know, why are we the villains?

CAIN: Right.

FREELAND: Why are we the bad guys? Some of them say to me now, my kids say that they're embarrassed that they're dad is a banker. But I think that it's about more than tone. I think that it is also about fear of more intrusive regulation.

HARLOW: Policy. Right.

FREELAND: There's real fear of Dodd-Frank and the Volker rule and it also crucially worries about taxes and the truth is there is a clear divide between Obama and Romney and the truth is also if you are a Wall Street millionaire, your taxes will be significantly higher if Obama is re-elected. That is a real personal reason to support Romney.

HARLOW: You know, I want to take a look at the top donor groups for the president because the president has a lot more than just Hollywood on his side. Take a look at the top five contributors to his campaign. Microsoft, University of California, the law firm DLA Piper, Google and Harvard University.

How do you read this? What's your read on that in terms of individuals of those institutions giving to the president?

FREELAND: Well, I think, you know, we do have to remember Romney is outraising Obama. And this is really significant. And if you look at the super PACs, it's an even bigger deal. So they're not on equal footing. And that is really significant because incumbents usually outraise challengers.

I think the people who are backing Obama, it's Hollywood, it's technology, and it's what you might call the liberal intellectual class. People who really socially identify with the president.

HARLOW: So it's more about social issues in that group in your opinion?

FREELAND: The support that Obama is getting, for sure, because these are people, you know, the rich donors to Obama are in some ways voting against their own personal pocketbooks.

CAIN: It doesn't -- I think we would make the same point. It doesn't say as much because these are pretty traditional liberal ideological institutions. It doesn't say much about what --

HARLOW: You can't read it as clearly.

CAIN: That's right.

HARLOW: Chrystia, stay here. Will, stay here.

Up next, both candidates say they care about the middle class. They hammer away at it. But how do they plan to actually help those in the middle class? We'll be right back with that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: There aren't a lot of things that most Americans would agree on especially in an election year, but a "Washington Post" survey does show that 95 percent of folks out there say they're either working, middle or upper middle class. What people don't agree on is which candidate puts the middle class at the top of their list of priorities.

Take a look at this recent CNN/ORC poll. Only 18 percent of Americans feel Obama favors the rich, 42 percent says he favors the middle class. More than a third say he's concerned most about the poor. Same question about Mitt Romney, much different results, 64 percent say Romney favors the rich. Middle class gets just 27 percent, just 2 percent think that Governor Romney favors the poor.

Mitt Romney has a plan to strengthen the middle class. We're going to lay it out for you. Focuses heavily on jobs. One, more drilling for oil, secondly, plans to train and educate workers, also changing trade laws to benefit American goods and services. Fourth, cutting taxes and spending, and basically shrinking the government, and finally supporting small business and all of this in an effort to put more money in people's pockets.

So let's bring back in Will Cain, he's a CNN contributor, and Chrystia Freeland, she is the editor at Thomson Reuters Digital.

The plan sounds like a plan that everyone would want. It also sounds like, as our Candy Crowley said, you know, a lot of politicians put plans out there like that. The question is, don't we need more details, many more details, Will?

CAIN: You know, yes. You do need more specifics and I will tell you that there is a -- a specific political purpose to not giving you specifics. That being said I fear that conservative economic philosophy is always going to leave you wanting more and here's why. I'm going to give you an analogy, I realize it's over simplistic, but that doesn't mean it's useless.

Conservative economic philosophy is a bit like planting a garden. Like a farmer comes in, he tills the soil, he turns it over, he plants the seeds, he hopes for sun and rain and hopes the economy grows from the bottom up. His plants, the economy, grow from private business in the free market, the chaos of the free market.

That is opposed to an economic view. It is more like a constant gardener, that you can come in and prop up wilted plants -- bailing out auto companies that you can plant adolescent plants like green energy companies. That is one that lends itself to specific policy proposals, action and to anecdote.

HARLOW: But --

CAIN: It's always easier to answer the specifics question when you have these stories.

HARLOW: And here's the issue, with your philosophy in terms of lack of details and tilling and planting and hoping.

CAIN: Right.

HARLOW: That's a lot of hope and a lot of questions, but it does give you on the alternative side, if you do sort of put those plants in as you were saying Democrats are doing auto bailout, for example.

CAIN: Right.

HARLOW: You get stories.

CAIN: Absolutely.

HARLOW: And Chrystia, this is a point Will has made, you get stories you can tell on the campaign trail. You can go to Michigan, you can go to Ohio and you can point to specifics.

FREELAND: Yes, well, I think actually the auto bailout is turning out to be probably the most politically valuable act of the Obama administration, and it's turning out to be particularly useful in the swing states where Obama really, really needs to win in order to win the election.

Going back to Will's garden analogy, which I love.

HARLOW: It's a great one.

FREELAND: My dad is a farmer so I'm particularly close to that, actually although, Will, farmers don't till anymore.

CAIN: Oh no?

FREELAND: There's a no-till revolution.

HARLOW: Come on.

FREELAND: We can get into that -- it's actually true. We'll get into that later. But what I think it gets at and what actually I think is really valuable about this election is there is a very clear, a very sharp ideological contract and Mitt Romney has chosen to embrace that with his selection of Ryan as his running mate, and it does ultimately come down to what kind of a society do you want to live in, and what approach do you think is most likely to create economic crisis.

Do you believe a small state with low taxes and in particular, actually, low taxes on the rich, because you want them to have as much money in their pockets as possible in order to invest, that would be the conservative view or do you believe that you need government, you need government to regulate and you need government to invest in common places --

HARLOW: You know, the middle --

FREELAND: -- like education, like roads and actually, when it comes to the rich I think the contrast is sharpest because I think the Democrats would say actually we need to tax the rich significantly more than they are taxed now. Right now Romney pays 13 percent. All of us probably pay more than that.

HARLOW: OK. And by --

(CROSSTALK)

HARLOW: It's 14.5 percent over the past two years, but I do want to let Will -- Will, jump in here.

CAIN: No, I would say in the end I don't totally disagree with anything Chrystia said but we should say for the sake of the audience in understanding what the choices before us. Neither of these guys, President Obama nor Mitt Romney, are pure avatars of these economic philosophies that we just laid out.

HARLOW: Not at all.

CAIN: The choice is one of direction, though. It's directional. Which way this is going?

FREELAND: But look -- I mean more than -- more than in most elections.

CAIN: Yes.

FREELAND: I think we are seeing quite a sharp and quite a clear ideological difference.

HARLOW: It's an ideological divide.

FREELAND: Which they're embracing.

CAIN: Right.

FREELAND: And I think that's a good thing.

HARLOW: I do think that voters, though, deserve details from both sides on how things are going get accomplished. When you're deciding and going to the polls who you're going vote for and what it's going to mean for you and so many people are still, still struggling, and that conversation has gotten away from jobs and the economy this week and focused on entitlements.

It needs to talk about what matters to people most right now, in addition to entitlements and the future.

CAIN: Like tilling.

HARLOW: Like tilling.

FREELAND: Like -- no.

CAIN: We need to bring back tilling.

HARLOW: For the record I thought they tilled, too, and I'm from Minnesota so I grew up around farms and stuff.

Thank you guys very much.

CAIN: Yes.

HARLOW: Appreciate it.

You have heard the arguments from both sides of the election on this show. Now it's your turn. I'll show you how to get in on the action. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: So does Governor Romney's pick of Paul Ryan as his running mate mean the election conversation has changed? If the focus turns to Ryan's budget, does President Obama benefit in this struggling economy because we talk less about jobs?

Ali Velshi may be away, but I know he still wants to hear from you. Send him your tweets. He reads them all, even on vacation. His handle is @alivelshi or you can also find him on Facebook at facebook.com/alivelshi. Will Cain here tweeting Ali right now.

Thank you so much for joining the conversation this week on YOUR MONEY. We are here every Saturday, 1:00 p.m. Eastern and Sunday at 3:00 p.m. Have a great weekend.