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Government Shutdown Continues; Affordable Care Act Exchanges Open Online; Debt Ceiling Deadline Looms for Congress

Aired October 5, 2013 - 14:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. This is no longer a government shutdown. This is a congressional breakdown.

I'm Christine Romans. This is YOUR MONEY. The economy struggling to move forward but Washington is pushing it backward. But a default on the nation's debt could trigger an economic catastrophe. The Treasury Department says it could be worse than the recession of 2008, so terrifying in fact the consequences even showed up years ago on the political drama "The West Wing".


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, the immediate collapse of the U.S. economy followed by Japan seeking into the sea, followed by a worldwide depression the lengths of which no mortal can imagine. Followed by week two.


ROMANS: During a shutdown mandatory spending isn't effected. That means, for example, seniors are still getting their Social Security checks. But that's not the case with the debt ceiling. When you run out of money you run out of money. On a typical day in the U.S., the government spends up to $60 billion. But on October 17th it will have just $30 billion in the bank and no ability to borrow more to make up the shortfall.

That means just like when your bank account is emptied and you can't find any source of extra cash, the government will have to stop paying some of its bills. That has never happened before. What are we talking about? We're talking about maybe interests on our massive loans, interest to countries like China, right? Maybe Social Security, maybe some months or some days there won't be enough money to pay for Social Security.

How about Medicare and Medicaid? Over 110 million people are in one of those programs. And there's a very intricate finance arrangement between the banks and hospitals, and the government not providing that Medicaid funding.

So what might be even worse here is what we don't know. Markets hate uncertainty. What could happen to your nest egg? Despite all of that, 38 percent of all Americans say it would be a good thing if the debt ceiling were not raised. That's compared with 56 percent who say it would be bad. I want to bring in Rana Foroohar, John Avlon, and Chris Voss. Rana Foroohar is assistant managing editor for "TIME" magazine, John Avlon is CNN political analyst and executive editor for the "Daily Beast," and Chris is a former FBI leader international kidnapping negotiator.

You know, here we are. I can't believe we've got a hostage negotiator with us. This is what it's come to. I'm on a money show and we had to bring in someone who makes sense of what is happening. John Avlon, have people lost their minds? What is happening?

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: They have a serious case of Stockholm syndrome. They're being hostage by their own party, including Speaker Boehner. They think the people holding them hostage are their allies, their friends, their base. In fact, they are making them impotent to deal with this problem, the self-inflicted crisis that now the economy is starting to suffer through. So I think it's an inspired choice to have a hostage negotiator.

ROMANS: I want you to listen to some of the language we are hearing, the ransom hostage language you are hearing.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You don't get to demand some ransom in exchange for keeping the government running. You don't get to demand ransom in exchange for keeping the economy running.


ROMANS: Hostages, ransom, holding a gun to the heads of the American people -- what is the first thing we should do here to step down the crisis level?

CHRIS VOSS, CEO, THE BLACK SWAN GROUP: Well, somebody needs to ask a really good question. I know that sounds simplistic. But the idea is, it's not the answer, it's the response that you're looking for. Ask somebody a question that makes them stop and think. Then you try to see if you can refocus on something, a common goal, "common ground" is commonly used as a term. You get people to respond and stop and think. At that point in time, you see what they say, and it's a little bit of an ad lib situation.

And they're not really stopping -- if the common goal is creating jobs, you don't send 800,000 people home without a paycheck.

RANA FOROOHAR, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Absolutely not. It's Shaving 0.2 percent, 0.3 percent off the economy growth each week. We've been here 18 times already. We know what happens. It's not good. I mean, you know, the bigger challenge, of course, is if we get to the debt ceiling and go over that, because, as we spoke about before, that is a really catastrophic economic event. That's a Lehman Brothers style event. "West Wing" aside, we probably would see an incredible global fallout from that.

ROMANS: John, we have Chris Voss, crisis negotiator, and I can't tell who is at war with who. If it's the Democrats and the Republicans, if the Democrats are the Republicans are at war with each other or just exactly what's happening there?

AVLON: It's all of the above. Part of the problem people aren't talking. There isn't a back room negotiation. There hasn't been the normal pre-negotiations before we went to this crisis because trust is so broken in Washington. So that is a fundamental problem. You know, Boehner can't control his caucus. When he tells his own members or business that don't worry, we're not going to default. Well, these are a lot of the same leadership who did don't worry, we're not going to have a shutdown. So there's a trust crisis even within the Republican Party and their key constituencies like this.

ROMANS: You said two words, "credibility" and "trust." So when you're in a situation like this and neither have either, that causes a real problem when you're trying to stand things down, doesn't it?

VOSS: It does. What you really need to do is take the word "trust" out of the equation and drop in the world "predictability." They become far more predictable. Trust is really an emotional word and it clouds everybody's thinking and what their expectations are. So you drop in the word "predictability" instead.

ROMANS: Republicans are no longer the party of business. Predictably you'd think the Republicans are the ones who would do what's in the best interest of the American economy in creating jobs. But there's a big question about whether things are changing.

FOROOHAR: This is a fascinating political shift. If you look at business surveys, what business wants more than anything else is certainty. They just want to know what the rules of the road are going to be. And it's really fascinating that the Republicans that used to be the pro-business party are hijacking the process here.

You know, I'll say the thing that I'm most worried about right now is the housing recovery because that has been something that has really void the economy. But if you look at what's happening, the federal housing administration has mainly been furloughed, same with the IRS. People are waiting for their mortgages to be approved.

AVLON: And just to really put a clear point on that, I mean, right now the shutdown is intertwined to the debt ceiling. These negotiations will be one in the same, maybe they will focus their minds oncoming up with a solution.

But the pro-business backbone of the Republican Party has been hijacked by a conservative populous who are hostile to the idea of raising the debt ceiling. People who cheerlead against it because it gets applause from the cheap seats, and they're not living in economic reality. They know ultimately, this deal gets done, it's going on the centrist Republicans reaching out to the Democrats. It's going to have to be blown away for this to get solved.

ROMANS: Chris, here's what's so interesting to me. It's almost as if you've got one faction saying we're going to burn the whole House down if we don't get what we want. And then who wins?

VOSS: Right, exactly. It's an awful lot like the husband -- or ex- husband who has taken the ex-wife hostage and says I love you so much I'm going to kill you. It doesn't seem to make any sense at all. And getting them to realign their perspective or refocus what their perspective and their actual goal is the only way to get them out of the mold.

ROMANS: I want you to listen to what John Boehner said on Friday.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) HOUSE SPEAKER: This isn't some damn game. The American people don't want their government shut down. And neither do I. All we're asking for is to sit down and have a discussion and to bring fairness -- reopen the government and bring fairness to the American people under Obamacare. It's as simple as that.


ROMANS: It's simple. Is it simple?

AVLON: It's not simple. There are a couple of things going on there. He's frustrated because he doesn't have the cards to be able to drive the negotiation. He doesn't have the votes even to be able to coral his own caucus. But what's really frustrating there is that he enabled to vote to cause this shutdown. Republicans right now are calling for compromise, calling for negotiations. That is a poll driven attempt to flip the script because they know they have a fundamental problem. They're in negotiating position and increasing with the American people.

ROMANS: How does the debt ceiling end?

FOROOHAR: Oh, my gosh. I just can't belief, like the rest of Wall Street I'm in a state of disbelief that me could go over it, because let's look at what could happen. If we didn't pay our creditors we would be in a Lehman Brothers style event. We would immediately go back into recession. We would probably push much of the rest of the world in recession. That is an event that can't happen.

Just looking back in 1979 we had a tiny technical default on some of our debt because of the word processing equipment that was being used failed. That pushed interest rates up for months by half a percent sage point. That raised borrowing costs on Treasury bills by $12 billion. That was a tiny event. Just think if we are wholesale not paying our debt what would happen.

AVLON: There may be a silver lining here, because you're starting to see with the prospect of the debt ceiling, not saying let's about Obama care. Maybe there's an opportunity for a grand bargain or modest bargain, maybe the legacy items that can get done that are real Republican priorities as opposed to obsessive opposition of the president.

But the largest stakes are this. This is not how super powers behave. The rest of the world starts to laugh at us if our democracy becomes the greatest source of dysfunction.

ROMANS: The rest of the world? The people of this country are laughing at the --

FOROOHAR: It's embarrassing. You point out something important from the economic stand point, because a third world nation, emerging markets tend to behave like this. That's been the behavior of the past. They pay a lot more to borrow money.

ROMANS: Chris Voss, I got to tell you. Maybe we've been watching too many crisis, hostage negotiator movies, right? You've got one phone call. This is it. This is the end. Who do you call to negotiate with? Is it the president, John Boehner, Ted Cruz? You've got one last call to talk sense into someone. Who is it?

VOSS: I call the president. I think the one who is in the best position to refocus the conversation and pick a spot that a common goal that everybody is after. That's who I would start with.

ROMANS: Chris Voss, very nice to meet you. I know it's a little out of your wheelhouse but it isn't out of your wheelhouse.

VOSS: It's essential.

ROMANS: Nice to see you guys. Have a great weekend.

Coming up, stopping Obamacare, it's the root of this fight in Washington. Dr. Sanjay Gupta hits the road and leaves the politics behind.


ROMANS: The Affordable Care Act has survived a Supreme Court challenge, a presidential election, and now a government shutdown. Open enrollment on the health care exchange began this week even as the government closed its doors. As expected --



BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- than have ever been on at one time. That gives you a sense of how important this is to millions of Americans around the country. And that's a good thing.

SEN. ROY BLUNT, (R) MISSOURI: A glitch means it's not working. I don't think those glitches get any better over the next few weeks.


ROMANS: Let's be clear. This fight isn't about websites. The Republicans believe they're staging an intervention, that Obamacare will kill jobs and raise costs for everyone. That's why they are fighting so hard to stop it and why the debt ceiling could be the next bargaining chip in this fight.

The GOP also insists fervently that the president's assurances that you can keep your doctor, keep your same health plan will eventually be proven false.

So what does the Affordable Care act mean for people who already have insurance? For the answer to that crucial question we turn to CNN's chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, I think we've been hearing for a long time, look, if you have health care insurance, you're happy with it, you don't need to worry about this. I think in part Christine, that's why so many people have not really paid attention to this up until now.

But that question, how much does this affect people who already have insurance is a little bit more of a complicated answer. Let me give you an example. UPS, that's a company that's based in Atlanta, has one of the large distribution centers in Kentucky. They made this move to look at their spouse of non-union employees and if those spouses could get insurance through their own employer they should do that. About 15,000 spouses affected by that. It's not saying those people are no longer going to have insurance. It's more that they're going to have to get their insurance through their own employers.

So depending on how you look at that that could be an example of this. Again, this idea that some of these changes, some of the potential cutbacks in terms of employer-based coverage or the increase in premiums, they may have been happening anyway and it's hard to relate that directly to what's happening with the Affordable Care Act.

ROMANS: Thanks, Sanjay Gupta.

All right, 7 million people visited in the first two days. But once you do get in what will you find? Our Tom Foreman is here to walk us through that.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Despite all this monumental talk about the changes from Obamacare, most of us who have insurance and that is most of us, aren't going to see any changes, maybe some modifications. But that's because this is really aimed at the 48 million people who are uninsured, about half of whom is now expected to buy insurance through these health care market places, about 7 million by the end of year to give you an idea of how fast it will move along.

So how can we imagine these marketplaces? Think of a store where you could x can go in and buy one of four different insurance plans, bronze, silver, gold, or platinum. If you buy at the lower end over here at the bronze level, what you're going to do is have a relatively low monthly payment or premium. But if you go to the doctor, your co- pay, your deductible, all of your fees are going to be much higher.

If you got to the other end and take a platinum plan, well, then your premium each month will be higher, but your in-office costs will be considerably lower. And by the way, this will not be the same state to state to state because local companies are involved. So if you were to try to deal with your brother-in-law in Montana and say what are you doing up there, he may say, it's not the same as what you have in South Dakota. But this is supposed to be the same. There should be no higher premiums. If you get sick, no denial of coverage, if you're already sick, no matter where you live, and there should be no fees for preventive care. If you need a physical or your kids need a vaccination, you're not supposed to pay for that under this new system.

Still, it is expensive, especially for people on the lower end of the economic scale, and the government is going to help them out a bit. If you make $46,000 or less as an individual, or $94,000 or less as a family or four, the government is going to give you a refund to help cover all of the costs here.

This is something that pretty much everyone is going to be involved in. Yes, there are some people with questionable immigration status who won't be involved, some people make very little money. But even if you live in one of these states that we've colored red here that have opted out of Obamacare, that don't want anything to do with it, that doesn't mean you're out of it. That just means your state won't run the marketplace. The federal government will run it for you. And yes, you're going to have to go on the website and look at the options and make some choices or you will be fined by the government. Christine?

ROMANS: Great explanation, Tom. Clearly a big, big change is coming into how you get your health care. Big changes, everyone should educate themselves.

All right, from Obamacare to Obama-scare, we'll reveal the top scams to watch out for as the Affordable Care Act takes hold.


ROMANS: Criminals are finding creative ways to exploit the confusion over the new health care law to rip off unwitting consumers. Zain Asher is here with a top Obamacare cons, which people should be looking out for.

ZAIN ASHER, CNN ANCHOR: This is really the nature of the beast. I think when you have confusion, confusion is really a con artist's best friend. I want to go through the top exchange scams. Number one, watch out for fake health insurance sites. These are basically sites that look like exchanges. They have the appearance of state exchanges but they are not real. They're really only out to get your data. You might type a website into your browser. You misspell it by one letter and you're redirected to a fake site. Just go to and find the link for your state exchange. That's the best way to protect yourself.

Another thing which I find particularly creepy is people impersonating navigators. Navigators -- I know -- their job is to sort of help you sign up for health insurance, especially if you don't have the Internet. But an impersonator might say, pay us about $300 and we'll help you sign up. Watch out for anybody asking you for money.

ROMANS: You don't have to pay to sign up. ASHER: No navigator is going to ask you for money.

Another thing which also breaks my heart is people use this opportunity to prey on seniors. Someone might call up a senior, hey, you need a brand new Medicare card, you need a brand new Obamacare card. That is simply not true. If anybody calls you up telling you that, hang up the phone and tell your parents do the same. Largely, I'm just going to say this. The bottom line is go with your gut. You know, if you're getting unsolicited calls, those should be b red flags. You have to be vigilant.

ROMANS: That is incredibly good information. Zain Asher, thank you very much.

One reason Obamacare is so ripe for those scam artists, millions of Americans have never heard about the new health care exchanges. In fact six in ten people plot ray wear of the exchanges, that's according to a survey from the Commonwealth Fund. And 17 states now run their own health care exchanges and are trying to get the word out in some creative and wacky ways. I want you to check out this particular ad from Minnesota. It's Paul Bunyan water-skiing. He has an unfortunate run-in with a tree.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Minnesota, land of 10,000 reasons to get health insurance.


ROMANS: I love that. How about this one from Washington state, a raccoon jumping out of the trash can hurdling towards this woman, flying in slow motion lieu the air. This little girl's hand shows up. She's taunting this woman. I guess she is featured in a number of Washington state spots, highlighting the various freak accidents that might befall people, people who don't have health insurance.

And take a look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Camp out the same things we stand strong together so let me hear you sing.


ROMANS: Isn't that sweet? That's PR Oregon. It's campaign featuring these folksy music videos with local musicians. They all have the same thing -- long live Oregonians.

What all of these ads have in common, those ads never mention the word Obamacare or Affordable Care Act. Ad agencies have decided this. To sell Obamacare you must never say the word "Obamacare." Make it all look happy and peaceful and try to entice people and get people to come into the world of health insurance.

Want to own a piece of the Empire State Building? You can. But the offering fell flat with investor. That's right.


ROMANS: The Empire State building might wow tourists but its IPO was a big disappointment to investors. The Empire State Realty trust began trading on Wednesday. Shares debuted at 13 bucks, the low end of the offering range and less than a ticket to the observation deck. For more stories that matter to our money, give me 60 second on the clock. It's "Money Time."


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And speaking of the iPhone, Apple climbed to number one on the best global brands list followed by Google in second place. And after 13 years at the top, Coca-Cola fell to number three.

Forget just playing Candy Crush Saga, soon you can own it. The U.K. company behind the wildly popular online game is preparing for an initial public offering in New York. It could be worth $5 billion.

Back to barilla. The president of Barilla pasta issued a new video apology for anti-gay remarks this week, but that's not stopping a worldwide boycott. He sparked outrage with comments about traditional family.

And your car's cup holder is not just beverages anymore. KFC is selling five new go cups for $2.49 each.


ROMANS: All right, that's it for "YOUR MONEY." We'll be back here tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. eastern. Until then, I want you to check out this cool interactive tool at It's on why the debt ceiling matters to you. It really explains how the American economy works. It's worth a look. See you tomorrow.