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Tablet Wars; Hardcore Solutions; Weighing Washington's Words; Teen with Autism Speaks through iPad; One America, Two Economies; Low Wage, High Price; Fighting Foreclosure in New Orleans; $6 World Series Ticket; The Mystery Face of Obamacare?

Aired October 27, 2013 - 15:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN HOST: What the tech is going on? I'm Christine Romans. This is YOUR MONEY.

Twitter stock for sale, but what will it cost you to buy in? Facebook stock finally soaring, but Zuckerberg and friends spent the week hemming and humming whether to allow videos of beheadings on the site.

And when it comes to stock prices, everyone is playing follow the leader with Google. Google shares crossed $1,000 a share this week. Meanwhile residents of Blackberry's hometown are vowing to survive even as that company begins to lay off nearly half its workforce. And all this on a week that saw competitors trying to steal Apple's iPad thunder.

In the 1990s Bill Gates famously said Microsoft was committed to putting a computer on every desk and in every home. Today the battle is for this space, and it's getting ugly.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This isn't going end to well for me, is it? No. Definitely not ending well. Do you still think I'm pretty?

ROMANS: Ooh. Ouch. Sales of laptops and desktops are falling. But tablet shipments are taking off. Expected to jump 53 percent this year. Here to explain what the tech is going on in tech, CNN's tech business correspondent Samuel Burke.

Samuel, the iPad may be the founding father of tablets, but will it be the last device standing?

SAMUEL BURKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's still the one to beat. They just came out with a new one. It's lighter. It's faster. But it still has that $499 price tag. So that's pretty heavy for some folks. But there's also the iPad Mini which is also now the iPad. It's not called the iPad Mini anymore. It has a better screen now. But it's 399 bucks. So it's still a lot of cash, isn't it?

ROMANS: It is still an awful lot of cash.

BURKE: So a lot of people think that iPad Mini or as it's now called the iPad, has to compete with this thing. The Nexus. You look at that. That's pretty small. You can hold it in your hand. That's from Google. It's $229. So a lot less expensive than the iPad Mini. And a lot of people -- it's a big question. Should I use iOS, the Apple tablets, or should I use Android.

So I use my mom and dad as the example. My mom already knows the iPhone. I tell her just get an iPad. It's hard to relearn a new system. My dad has fat fingers. One thing that people like about Android is that it has customizable keyboards. Maybe it's time for my dad to get an Android because you can usually keyboard --


ROMANS: (Inaudible) is he going to be? Right now with this fight for supremacy, if you get generation Y with I like Android, I'm doing this, are they going to stay forever?

BURKE: Here's the thing. Android actually already has more market share than Apple when it comes to tablets. Yes, Apple sells more tablets, but in terms of that Android has 62 percent of market share when it comes to operating systems. Apple only has 32 percent of market share.

But I think what's happening is a lot of people already have apps on Apple. You may want to stick with Apple. If you already have your apps on Android, you may want to stick with an Android tablet.

If you already purchased the apps, you've spent like 20 bucks, then you can do that. But those aren't the only new tablets, not just from Apple. Then there's also this thing. The Microsoft Surface 2 just came out. 499 bucks. It doesn't have nearly as many applications as Apple or Android. But people like it because of the keyboard. Yes, you can get a keyboard for a tablet like with Apple. But this has a keyboard that comes with it. And so people like that keyboard.

ROMANS: All right. We'll watch this space. Thank you. Samuel Burke.

A year and a half after Facebook's IPO face plant, Twitter says it's ready to go public now. The company says shares will cost between $17 and $20. That's the price for the big institutional investors. Not for you and me. That can change before the stock launches, of course. The question is should you buy in? Here to answer that, Matt McCall. Matt is the president of Penn Financial. He is here to play our game, buy or sell.

Nice to see you, Matt.


ROMANS: What a crazy week in tech.

OK. You were wary of Facebook's IPO. How concerned are you about Twitter?

MCCALL: Well, you know, I'm kind of torn on Twitter because it's pricing between $17 and $20 a share. As I said, you and I not getting that share. That's for big institutional investors. Once this opens for trading, they're saying possibly November 6th, it probably opens at $30, $40, even higher. As the individual investor, I don't run out and buy it at that price because typically want to (inaudible) public, it does pull back the next couple of weeks. We saw that with Facebook. It fell 50 percent before it actually bottomed out.

ROMANS: Right. So we don't know what's going to happen there. I mean, you could buy it. You could sell it. Let it have a little --


MCCALL: At this point, yes. Sit back.

ROMANS: Let it sell back. OK, $930 a share, this is amazing. That's going to -- the most expensive iPad Air. What you will not get for the price of an iPad Air is the price of this. Look at that, $1,000 for Google shares. What do you think about Google?

MCCALL: I look at the chart. I'm kind of overwhelmed.

Do I buy it here? I should obviously been buying it about six months ago --


ROMANS: For a lot of people, they say that looks like a sell.

Wow, look at that huge run-up.

MCCALL: I'm going to override you here. I'm going to jump in and say I still think this is a buy. I may not buy Monday morning. But it some point you'll have a week where it pulls back a little bit.

Why do you still like it? (Inaudible)?

MCCALL: You have amazing growth. You have a 4 P/E ratio below 20. And Google is everything. They have self-driving cars. They have Search. I mean, they are really the company that controls the world in my mind. I want to have a piece of Google in my portfolio.

ROMANS: All right. So you're on the record there.

Where are you on the record for Apple? You look at this one. People are counting out Apple down here. This has had a nice run here. Carl Icahn, the activist investor, one of the reasons why the stock has been going up, people know he's interested. Also, they've had good product launches lately.

MCCALL: They have. And you also look back on where we were from the start of the year; we're actually unchanged throughout the year. When you have Microsoft and some of the other big names up over 35 percent, Apple's actually unchanged. To me this is extremely bullish pattern. It's coming back up. I think we see this level up there and I hold that buy.

(CROSSTALK) ROMANS: He gives Apple a buy right there. Let's take the last one here, Netflix, even the CEO is saying, hey; don't get so excited about my stock.


ROMANS: What do you think about Netflix?

MCCALL: Well, if the CEO is telling me not to be excited, I'm not going to be that excited either. This stock's up over 230 percent this year. That's one of the best looking charts. To me, if it comes back down around 200 or so, but right now, if I'm owning this, I'm selling this stock right here. I'm taking a profit.


ROMANS: Matt McCall, thanks, Matt.

We can't all look like movie stars. That doesn't mean we can't invest like movie stars. We caught up with Jake Gyllenhaal this week. We asked him about the best investing advice he ever got. Listen.


JAKE GYLLENHAAL, ACTOR: I've seen the financial ups and downs of the business and never really having much security. And I think creating your own security is the most important part. And being able to have enough discipline to put things aside, even if it's in small increments.


ROMANS: We also caught up with Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent. He's so committed to sound investment principles he released an album titled "Get Rich or Die Trying."


CURTIS JACKSON, "50 CENT", PERFORMER: Be very careful. And this value, I -- hold onto your money. A lot of times your ideas are enough.


ROMANS: Hold on to your money.

All right. Coming up. He's back.

LES GOLD, "HARDCORE PAWN": What he should have done was put a penny in that fortune teller to realize it Les ain't going to go a penny more than 80 bucks.

ROMANS (voice-over): All right. What America's most famous negotiator can teach Washington about making a deal. Les Gold. Les Gold returns for us. Next.


ROMANS: Gridlock, dysfunction. Intransigence. Aren't you tired of hearing LL about the Washington problems? Let's talk solutions. The U.S. deserves a long term fix to the budget mess. And it may just require something no one in D.C. has thought about yet. So on this show we have been giving lawmakers some new perspectives, since they clearly don't have any.

Today we have the most hardcore solution yet. Les Gold is the star of "Hardcore Pawn." On TruTV, it's part of the Time Warner family along with CNN. He's a friend of the show. He's also the author of the book "For What's It's Worth: Business Wisdom from a Pawnbroker." He not only deals with difficult people every day, he makes deals with them. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I tell you what, my shoes are cleaner than this couch.

GOLD: Then don't buy it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make me a deal. I've got cash in my pocket, man.

GOLD: Including two chain saws, four nail guns, that golf clubs and a crowbar, 800 bucks all together.



ROMANS: OK. That reminds us of Washington's bickering which can -- Washington' bickering can get nasty.


JOHN BOEHNER, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: You get "The Wall Street Journal" out. And it says we don't care how long this lasts because we're winning. This isn't some damn game.

SEN. HARRY REID, MAJORITY LEADER: I read that modern day anarchists in the House have been celebrating the shutdown.

ERIC CANTOR, HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: It's pretty unfathomable to me to see that the Democrats are voting against the veterans.

NANCY PELOSI, HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I urge our colleagues to see this for what it is. It's pathetic. It's not responsible.


ROMANS: Oh my. One of the most important lessons you learned in the pawn business is close the deal no matter what. How do they get the focus back on closing the deal?

GOLD: I wish I could answer that question. That's something that's going to be in the arena for a long time. There's so many issues with this medical issue. There's so many things going on in Washington right now. They're so caught up in this emotional involvement. They need to get the emotion out of it and understand what do they really want to accomplish?

I don't think anybody knows what that is yet. That's why it will never be resolved.

ROMANS: How do you break down a stubborn customer? Somebody walks through the doors of your store.

How do you break down a stubborn customer who will not move from their position?

GOLD: What will you take? You know, that's one of the issues that we're dealing with. Nobody knows what that will take. When I'm selling a ring or when we were on the streets of New York we knew there was an item. We knew it had value. We knew we didn't want to pay too much.

With this thing in the political arena right now, I don't think anybody knows what they really want and that's the problem. Once they figure that out, then we'll understand that's when a deal is going to be made. Once they figure out what their bottom line is going to be.

ROMANS: We talked to a hostage negotiator on this same subject. He said ultimately the authority lies in the president. The president has to put the leadership. That's the ultimate deal maker. Even though other people are making deals.

You, and in the end, in your place, you are the ultimate dealmaker. You decide whether it's going to happen. Is it the case here that there are too many people involved in the deal?

GOLD: Well, you know, the president already made the deal, you either agree with it or you don't. I don't think there's a variable when it comes to that.

So the bottom line is what does the president think? What does he think is going to be the right decision for America? That's what it is. You have both sides bickering. But there's no resolution. You have the Republicans, you have the Democrats. Who is going to win? Hopefully the people of the United States will win. That's the ultimate goal. But how we get there, I wish I could answer that question.

ROMANS: I know. Me, too. I just love hearing your perspective on it though, pawnshop politics. That's what we should call it.

Really nice to see you, Les.

GOLD: Pawnshops are easy. Politics are tough.


ROMANS: Exactly, exactly. Nice to see you again. Thanks for coming by and best of luck to all of you there.

GOLD: Thank you so much for having me.

ROMANS: In Detroit. Love that you're doing business in Detroit. We wish the best for Detroit and everybody doing business there. Thanks, Les.

GOLD: Thanks so much.


ROMANS: For more stories that matter to your money. Give me 60 seconds on the clock. It's "Money Time."

More young people are just saying no to work. In 2000, 83 percent of 20- to 34-year olds had jobs or were looking. Today it's less than 78 percent. Men are doing more grocery shopping and food makers are taking notice. Darker packaging. Buzzwords like ultimate and commercials like this are designed to snag male customers.

From singles bar to a search bar, according to a new survey, 38 percent of Americans who are single and ready to mingle have used online dating. Almost 60 percent of Internet users say it's a good way to meet people. A 15-point jump from 2005.

Good news for gas prices. They could fall to three year lows if the current trend holds. But watch out for air fares. You can expect to pay 9 percent more this year for Thanksgiving travel.

Tax season will be delayed thanks to the government shutdown. The IRS will start processing returns around the end of January, a week or two later than planned. That won't push back the April 15th deadline to file.

And Lionel Trains are chugging into cyberspace. The 113-year-old brand is going digital with a new iPad app and a new iPad game.


ROMANS: Hundreds of millions of dollars, the Obamacare website is a disaster. Where all that money went next.



ROMANS: Washington can't stop talking about Obamacare. And both sides are frustrated for different reasons.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nobody is madder than me about the fact that the website isn't working as well as it should, which means it's going to get fixed.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I intend to speak in support of defunding Obamacare until I am no longer able to stand.


So what are they really saying? I want to show you something. It's called a word cloud. This is where we take the text of those speeches we turn into a visual representation. The words said the most appear the largest in the cloud.

This is a word cloud for President Obama's statement on Monday. I want to show you what really strikes me here. He wants to get people insurance. The president apologizing for the website. The message that jumps out right there in the middle. The president wants to get people insurance.

Now here's another word cloud from Republican Senator Ted Cruz's 21- hour pseudo-filibuster of Obamacare. You see that word Obamacare? During that speech on the Senate floor he said a lot of things, including "Green Eggs and Ham," but what came up over and over again, Obamacare. A dirty word among his contingent and protecting the American people from Obamacare.

Each side clearly has a message. But what word isn't nearly big enough in either of these? The word money.

Zain Asher joins me now.

Zain, we know the government is pouring millions into health care. Help us follow the money. Who is making the money?. Because if the shutdown was no way to run a business, this rollout is no way to run a tech business.

Who is making the money here?

ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Christine. Federal contractors pretty much walked away with hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money for a website that barely even works. We're talking about 55 contractors,36 states, 4,500 insurance plans. This has got to be one of the most complex websites ever created.

But for all that money, Christine, what did we get? We got problems online. We got lengthy wait times. We got error messages. So the big question as you asking us who got paid. Want to talk about CGI Federal. They were the lead contractor for the online exchanges, pretty much responsible for the enrollment process. They landed the heftiest contract. We're talking $200 million total.

Optim, whose role was to secure accounts and register users, they stand to gain a possible $85 million. The problem though, Christine, is that nobody wants to admit fault. The contractors either see a losing lucrative contract or being forced to pay back some of the cash.

At the congressional hearing this Thursday, listen to how contractors washed their hands of any blame.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JOHN LAU, PROGRAM DIRECTOR, SERCO: We have no role in the development of the website. We have no role in determination of eligibility and we have no role in health plan selection.

LYNN SPELLECY, CORPORATE COUNSEL, EQUIFAX WORKFORCE SOLUTIONS: Equifax Workforce Solutions' role in the federally facilitated marketplace is limited.

CHERYL CAMPBELL, SVP, CGI FEDERAL: The first set of issues on the exchange concerned another contractor's enterprise at (inaudible) management.


ASHER: So a lot of spotlight has been on CGI, but they were not the only ones raking in the cash. As of March $55 million had been paid to Quality Software Services to set up a data port. $31 million was paid to National Government Services for a consumer call center and The Mutual Corporation got $22 million for project management and I.T. security.

So for all the public dollars spent, why the big flop? Are the problems fixable, Christine, or should the administration start from scratch?

Senator John McCain has his own ideas on a possible quick fix.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It's been a fiasco. Send Air Force One out to Silicon Valley, load it up with some smart people, bring them back to Washington and fix this problem. It's ridiculous and everybody knows that.


ASHER: So a lot of confusion and more questions than answers. But one thing is clear, the old adage that you get what you pay for certainly did not apply in this case.

ROMANS: It's just so frustrating. Everybody is just so frustrated by it, especially if you are trying to get insurance for the first time. Zain Asher, thank you.

It was a week of tablet showdowns and soaring tech stocks, but it's important to remember profound ways technology is changing lives.

You probably know a child or a parent affected by autism. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the number of children on the autism spectrum in the U.S. has increased tenfold in the past 40 years. In some cases those with the disorder are nonverbal. They struggle to communicate. Finding a voice, there's an app for that. CNNMoney's Laurie Segall introduces us to a teen named Joey.

Hi, Laurie.


We were lucky enough to spend a day with Joey. He's got supportive parents and supportive teachers. And they helped us understand how technology has just changed his life. Take a look.


SEGALL (voice-over): Ordering a sandwich has always been tough for Joe. He's 18 years old and he has autism.

CEONZO: Joe doesn't talk. Joe has never spoken to us.

SEGALL (voice-over): For his entire life Joe expressed himself by pointing.

CEONZO: Do you want yogurt or grapes?

SEGALL: That's what he could eat and where he could go, even the bathroom. He could get agitated at times, even violent.

CEONZO: He was biting himself, which a lot of kids on the spectrum will do. And I think that comes out of frustration from not being able to communicate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put paper plates on the table.

SEGALL: But a year ago, his communication skills improved. For the first time, he was able to get through to his mother. He's using an iPad app called AutisMate. Joe's still pointing, but his communication abilities have improved.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want strawberries.

SEGALL: His interaction less frustrating.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put the silverware on the table.

SEGALL: The app shows him his morning routine. Using the technology, AutisMate combines a child's physical surroundings with videos of the child in those surroundings.

CEONZO: It's Joe in the pictures, which all the other things are those symbols of things which Joe doesn't really have an imagination, so trying to figure out what the picture meant just made things more complicated.

SEGALL: He's learning, and he's much, much calmer.

MARK KANTER, SUPERVISOR, SPEECH AND LANGUAGE, THE MCCARTON SCHOOL: When Joe came to us at 15, really the extent of his communication was he was pushing us away if we were stopping him from something or grabbing what he wanted. But there was no real attempts at verbal language.

SEGALL: AutisMate has become a common teaching tool for kids in his school. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get the putty, Joe. Nice work, bud. That is the putty. You drink with a -- cup. Nice job, bud.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me something that goes with seat belts. Car goes with seat belts, you're so good.

KANTER: We're trying to give that correspondence where this magazine or this putty is represented by this picture here, literally what you're seeing in front of you. So if you touch what you want here, we'll give it to you. That's how you ask for it.

SEGALL: Subway is a block away from Joe's school. For the first time, he can order on his own.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A 12-inch Italian bread, Italian BMT, provolone cheese, pickles and chips please.

CEONZO: To watch a video of my son go into a Subway and order lunch and use a credit card and pay for it. I mean, can you imagine?


SEGALL: The progress he's made is really unbelievable. I should mention, Christine, AutisMate is not cheap. It costs $150 in the app store. But I'll say this, it's comparable to a lot of other therapy apps out there, and it's still a lot less than some of the older tech out there, which costs thousands of dollars.

And, you know, when it comes down to it, it's an investment a lot of families are willing to make and also a reminder that technology can change lives.

ROMANS: Really finding his voice for the first time, what a wonderful story. Laurie Segall, thanks.

Coming up -- the S&P 500 at record highs. The Nasdaq up 30 percent this year. But much of America isn't feeling any richer.

WARREN BUFFETT, CHAIRMAN & CEO, BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY: Corporations, businesses doing very well in this country and a large segment of the population is not riding along with it.



ROMANS: The stock market is up but you're feeling down, I'm Christine Romans, this is YOUR MONEY.

The S&P 500 at record highs, the Nasdaq up 30 percent this year. But much of America isn't feeling any richer.

BUFFETT: Corporations, businesses doing very well in this country and a large segment of the population is not riding along with it. ROMANS: Only half of Americans invest in the market. For everyone else, it's about a job and jobs aren't coming fast enough -- 148,000 jobs added in September, 45,000 fewer than August.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That pace of job creation is below what we can be fully satisfied with.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Too many people are being left behind. That is undeniable.

ROMANS: Also undeniable, America's cratering confidence. Just 29 percent of Americans say the economy is good. That's the lowest level of the year and a four-point drop since before the shutdown. But still, Congress snipes.

BOEHNER: We've got the whole threat of Obamacare continuing to hang over our economy like a wet blanket.

PELOSI: Republican budget priorities that will cost jobs and even put more of a burden on the middle class.

ROMANS: As we lurch from one manufactured crisis to the next, 11 million Americans are still out of work. The country with the best workforce and the best infrastructure will lead the 21st century. Hello, is anybody listening? For everyone else, it's about a job, and jobs aren't coming fast enough -- 148,000 jobs added in September, 45,000 fewer than August.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That pace of job creation is below what we can be fully satisfied with.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Too many people are being left behind. That is undeniable.

ROMANS: Also undeniable, America's cratering confidence. Just 29 percent of Americans say the economy is good. That's the lowest level of the year and a four-point drop since before the shutdown. But still Congress snipes.

BOEHNER: We've got the whole threat of Obamacare continuing to hang over our economy like a wet blanket.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA) HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: The Republican budget priorities that will cost jobs and even put more of a burden on the middle class.

ROMANS: As we lurch from one manufactured crisis to the next, 11 million Americans are still out of work. The country with the best workforce and the best infrastructure will lead the 21st century. Hello, is anybody listening?


ROMANS: Our Jake Tapper is anchor of "The Lead," Greg Valliere is chief political strategist for the Potomac Research Group. Gentlemen, nice to see you.

Jake, let me start with you. Americans have a real confidence problem here. Everyone asks me if the problem right now is Obamacare or the lack of jobs or Washington politics. And the answer is yes. There's just overwhelming negativity right now.

How does the White House move forward, Jake?

JAKE TAPPER, ANCHOR, "THE LEAD": Well, it's going to be difficult for them. And we saw that with the recent events and the government shutdown and, of course, the debate over the debt ceiling, I think there are a couple of areas of opportunity for the White House to work with Congress.

One is some sort of budget deal. I don't think that a large scale budget deal is in the cards because Republicans seem dead set against any new revenue, and I don't think the White House will go along with any deal that reduces the deficit that doesn't also increase taxes in some way, even if it's closing loopholes.

So I do think a smaller deal is possible, maybe some modest trims to social safety net programs when it comes to wealthier recipients and also some spending cuts.

And also, of course, there's immigration reform which I think is an area where there can be serious movement. There is momentum for it in the Senate and among the establishment Republicans in the House. The big question is, will the conservatives, the Tea Party coalition in the House block it the way they did with so much having to do with the government funding bill and the debt ceiling debate?

ROMANS: You know, Greg, you heard Jake's analysis there. I want to know your analysis and the president and his ability to take on his own party on entitlements. Maybe he'll be able to scale back the safety net for wealthier Americans.

Will you get real entitlement reforms? Can the president take that on?

GREGORY VALLIERE, CHIEF POLITICAL STRATEGIST, POTOMAC RESEARCH GROUP: That's tough. Two things I'd say, Christine. Number one, I think you can't get a big entitlement deal without some revenues, and the Republicans are not going to raise taxes, end of that discussion.

Number two, I think people probably have to get off this debate about maybe doing something to the Social Security COLA, the cost of living adjustment. That's not going to happen. But there are other entitlement savings, maybe some means testing, that I think could be part of this small deal that Jake talked about.

ROMANS: Even a small deal could be ugly, guys. We're talking about things that have been real and tractable problems for several years now.

Jake, has the tone shifted? I mean, the president changing the subject to immigration reform, maybe that's, you know, a good sign, but has the tone shifted?

TAPPER: It's kind of like if you're in a bad relationship and you stay in that bad relationship hoping that it will get better, and five years later all you have is five years' worth of nasty memories and things to bring up. That's kind of the relationship of President Obama.

ROMANS: Love advice from Jake Tapper on the program.

TAPPER: I'm talking about previous girlfriends not my current wife, or only wife.


TAPPER: But the idea that -- for instance, I've asked Republican congressmen what about a deal? What about some sort new revenues?

And the answer almost to a Republican is President Obama already got that. Look at the Bush tax cuts and the deal at the end of 2012 and the fact that taxes did go up on individuals earning more than, I think it landed at somewhere around $450,000 a year.

ROMANS: Right.

TAPPER: They say there it is. That's the Obama tax increase. He already got it and they don't want to talk about anything beyond that.

If you ask Democrats, some of them say, well, the Republicans already got their spending cut, look at the sequester cuts, those built-in budget cuts.

They already got their spending cuts. So right now there's a lot of baggage that I think is impeding any sort of attempt to come to the table and start dealing anew with new revenues or new changes to safety net programs and spending cuts.

TAPPER: Thanks, Greg and Jake.

Coming up, McDonald's caught advising full-time employees to apply for food stamps. I'll tell you the high price we all pay for low fast food wages. That's next.



ROMANS: As if the "Do you want fries with that?" economy was bad enough, but now workers are left to ask, do you want food stamps with that? This week an advocacy group called Low Pay is Not OK posted a recording of a McDonald's employee calling the McResource help line. During the call the operator advises the worker to apply for food stamps and Medicaid.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You would most likely be eligible for SNAP benefits.


ROMANS: Also this week, Wal-Mart's CEO revealed the majority of the workers make less than $25,000 a year. Both companies say the headlines have been taken out of context. McDonald's says the video is not an accurate portrayal of the resource line, and Wal-Mart says many of the employees are part-time by choice, which helps explain low annual salaries.

But the bottom line here is not about the he said/she said of the details. It's the glaring fact these are people with jobs struggling to get by in this economy.

The question, is it time again to start talking about a $15 minimum wage? Midwage jobs were hit the hardest during the recession. What's coming back? Low-wage positions like those in fast food and retail.

Now, these used to be thought of as a gateway job for young people, but for many today these are careers. The median age of a fast food worker is 29 years old. And more than half of those workers get government assistance. That cost taxpayers an estimated $7 billion a year.

In an era of endless stalemates between the Right and Left, no one can be happy here. Conservatives decry the exploding government entitlement programs that fill the gap. Liberals express outrage that profitable billion dollar companies have employees forced to make decisions like this.


SHENITA SIMON, FAST FOOD WORKER: Sometimes my husband eats and I don't and sometimes I eat and my husband don't. We have to alternate like that because we can't eat every day and still supply for our children three meals per day.


ROMANS: Look, a $15 minimum wage may not be the answer, but it's hard to deny this economy is not working for everyone. Meantime, workers demanding higher wages not the only issue for McDonald's these days. Between controversies and sluggish sales, is the shine off the golden arches?


ROMANS: Seen the Hamburglar lately? It might be time for McDonald's to bring back the burger bandit. Slow sales, menu flops reaching beyond the brand, and now the end of the dollar menu as we know it.

Starting in November, get ready for the dollar menu and more with new items up to $5. McDonald's CEO says it promotes value at different price points. It's the latest attempt to bring in business and bank more bucks.

And Burger King is trying to play the fitness first game with low fat fries. But are customers satis-fried? It's too early to tell.

Meanwhile, Wendy's is getting a makeover. Wendy's is revamping its image and its stock price has doubled in the last year. Its sizzling new menu item, a pretzel bacon cheeseburger.

HOWARD PENNEY, MANAGING DIRECTOR, HEDGEVE RISK MANAGEMENT: Wendy's has definitely gotten back to the core foundation. Its quality, its freshness, its burgers, its fries, its Cokes, it's what people go to a Wendy's for. And McDonald's is, you know, trying to do all things to all people.

ROMANS: So does McDonald's need to keep its eyes on the fries?

PENNEY: To grow again they actually need to shrink. If they take their menu and eliminate those items that aren't selling, then people will gravitate to the items that are more popular.

ROMANS: Tell that to Starbucks. After conquering coffee, the Seattle house of high-priced hot liquids is opening teahouses.

HOWARD SCHULTZ, CEO, STARBUCKS: The acquisition of juice, the acquisition of food, the Teavana relationship, all of that is enhancing the experience of Starbucks creating different need states for our customers and recognizing that these things are about creating complementary experiences for our coffee customer.

ROMANS: But back in burger land, customers would rather keep it simple.

PENNEY: McDonald's is the biggest restaurant company on the planet for a reason. It's done one thing well for 50 years, sells burger, fries and Coke.

ROMANS: Mess with the menu and you may just get Grimaced.


ROMANS: You have to appeal to a younger audience too, so a lot of work ahead for McDonald's.

All right, up next, housing market hot or cold? I'm going to show you the only three numbers that matter in housing.

Plus, imagine your home ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, you rebuild, and now your house is taken away from you again eight years later.


GAYNELLE SORINA, KATRINA SURVIVOR: You could digest tragedy from Mother Nature, I can, me personally. But when you have this kind of storm to take place, I can't digest that. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: These families are not battling a storm, they are battling the banks.


ROMANS: All right, I have the real story of what's going on in the housing market in three simple numbers to explain. First, falling mortgage rates, 4.13 percent, the average for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, that is the lowest now in four months. And those rates are likely to drop even more.

Why? Because of this little number, the yield on a 10-year Treasury note dipped below 2.5 percent this week. A blah jobs report likely means Ben Bernanke and his Fed will keep the extraordinary bond buying for a while longer, at least until Janet Yellen takes over the Fed next year. The Fed's bond buying keeps rates low, and that's great news for first-time home buyers or anyone looking to refinance.

But my third number shows that low interest rates often don't matter in housing. Cash, baby, cash -- 49 percent of all home purchases in September were 100 percent cash, no mortgage, more evidence people with money are still making money.

And then there's this -- it's been more than eight years since an active nature devastated New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina killed hundreds and left thousands homeless.

Rosa Flores here with more.

Rosa, families that live to tell the tale now victimized again.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Believe it or not, Christine, many of them homeless again due to a perfect storm they didn't see coming that left middle class families like the one you're about to meet in foreclosure.


FLORES: Gaynelle and Adolf Sorina celebrated when they finished repairing their home after it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

ADOLF SORINA, KATRINA SURVIVOR: You had to do what you had to do.

GAYNELLE SORINA: Yes. It was survival.

FLORES: They look forward to sewing these suits in their family home, a tradition for four generations among members of the Black Feather Mardi Gras Indian tribe.

ADOLF SORINA: This actually was...

GAYNELLE SORINA: The living room.

ADOLF SORINA: -- the living room area.

But today the Sorinas are without their historic home once again, lost not to a hurricane but to foreclosure.

FLORES: After losing your home during Katrina, you weren't expecting something like this to happen again.

GAYNELLE SORINA: You could digest tragedy from Mother Nature. I can, me personally, but when you have this kind of storm to take place, I can't digest that.

FLORES: Their troubles began when their son became very ill, all while they were rebuilding after another hurricane. Fearful of falling behind on their mortgage, they asked their bank to renegotiate their loan.

ADOLF SORINA: "Notice date is July 11th, 2009. We are pleased to advise you that your loan modification has been approved."

FLORES: Yet each month, Bank of America kept billing them the higher amount from the old mortgage.

Adolf Serena kept paying on time as bank reps assured him it was just a mistake.

FLORES: And did you make all of those payments?

ADOLF SORINA: Made all of those payments.

FLORES: On time?


FLORES: A year later, the bank foreclosed anyway, taking the home where Adolf Sorina grew up, where his son was born. The bank sold off their home for $48,000, less than half of what they owed.

JAMES PERRY, GREATER NEW ORLEANS HOUSING ACTION CENTER: These are some of the files of people that we've helped over the years since Katrina.

FLORES: James Perry leads an organization that fights foreclosures.

PERRY: They're so proud of what they accomplished because they worked so hard to get there. And it didn't matter how many hurricanes came, it didn't matter what happened, those families rebuilt because they were there to stay.

FLORES: In a statement, Bank of America said "We apologize to the Sorinas for the events that clearly should not have happened the way they did. While we did not provide the service they expected from us, we're confident this is a unique case."

The federal government accused 13 banks, including Bank of America, with unsound foreclosure practices in 2009 and '10. The bank's admitted no wrongdoing but paid $3.6 billion in settlement money. The Sorinas' cut: $2,000.


FLORES: Now hear this, Bank of America made the Sorinas made a verbal offer of $100,000 in an effort to make things right in a fair way they say. But the Sorinas tell CNN that $100,000 is not a fair settlement.

And, Christine, here's their wish list -- or the majority of their wish list -- a mortgage-free five bedroom, three bathroom new home in the Gentilly Woods (ph) Pontchartrain Park subdivision in New Orleans, which is where they live, and also a monetary stipend of $750,000 for the five members of their household.

ROMANS: Sounds to me like a reasonable way for Bank of America to get out of a very bad and sticky situation that obviously Bank of America made a terrible mistake and hurt this family. We'll keep up to date with what they're doing and what happens in the very end. Thank you so much. Thank you for bringing that story and we'll follow up.

Coming up, a $6 ticket to a Red Sox World Series game. The company that sold it says it's not legit. So why was this lucky fan at the game anyway? We got his story, next.



ROMANS: All right, the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals slugging it out in the World Series. Tickets on resale sites like StubHub start around $400. But one fan got into Fenway for less than the cost of a beer. Here's the score.


ROMANS: Eric jabs bought a $6 ticket to game one of the World Series on StubHub. It was a fraudulent sale, $6. After 40 minutes on the phone with the website, they offered a $50 credit. He pushed back and so did a few media outlets. saying StubHub's (inaudible) protect guarantee should cover a ticket to the game. It worked. He sent us these photos from game 1. Nice seats.

Breaking with the World Series tradition, St. Louis mayor Francis Slay tweeted he won't be participating in a bet with Boston mayor Thomas Amino (ph). Why? He says the bets take time away from his work for the city.

You hear that, Washington? Mayor Slay is promoting a fundraising effort between churches in the two cities. The governors of Massachusetts and Missouri, oh, they're betting all right. If St. Louis winds, clam chowder from Legal Sea Foods and beverages from Polar will head west. Bissinger's chocolates and Fitz's Cardinal Cream soda will come east if the Red Sox win. Plus goodies from the local bakeries near each of the governors' offices.

President Obama says he's madder than anyone else about the botched rollout of Don't tell that to the woman smiling on the home page. You've seen her. How many times have you seen her? Who is she? Our own Jeanne Moos set out to find the woman dubbed the Mona Lisa of our time.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Have you seen the mystery girl? She's not missing but she is almost impossible to miss.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The troubled launch of President Obama's health care law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The botched rollout of health care has not only embarrassed the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Credibility death spiral.

MOOS: She's been floating across our TV screens, smiling out at us from our computers, online, at least.

This isn't the face of Obamacare.

This is.

And critics are having a field day tweeting, "Congrats, vapidly smiling splash page stock photo girl. You're now the most despised face on Planet Earth."

How would you like having your face associated with phrases like "problem plagued."

Watch your back newscasters, she's behind you.

Screen left --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Takes the heat for the Obama website glitches.

MOOS: -- screen right --


MOOS: -- when we asked about her identity, the company responsible for building much of the website didn't call us back nor did Health and Human Services.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not a lickety-split process.

MOOS: A small company that originally worked on the homepage told us she was part of the mock-up from the design folks.

We checked stock photo files but couldn't find her.

Her face is even being defaced.

"Does she have Obamacare?" someone tweeted.

Obamacare girl isn't getting the love the original Obama girl got back in 2008.

Some are crushing Obamacare girl by comparing her to Joey on "Friends."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As of today, I'm officially Joey Tribiani actor/model.

MOOS: But Joey's dream modeling job became a nightmare when he saw his photo plastered all over New York in a poster warning "VD, you never know who might have it."

Are Obamacare girl's friends snickering like Joey's?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, we're just laughing. You know how laughter can be infectious.


MOOS: But Obamacare is the treatment, not the disease, and while the original Obama girl sang of healthcare reform.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Universal healthcare reform.

MOOS: Poor Obamacare girl gets the cold shoulder and all she does is smile, the enigmatic Mona Lisa of health care.

Jeanne Moos, CNN --

If this is you, call me.


ROMANS: For more on what matters to your money, check out our blog. There you can find the full video of Les Gold and me hitting the streets of New York. I got quite a lesson in negotiate. That's right at the top of the page,

That's it for YOUR MONEY. For more on the stories that matter to your money this week, you can visit our blog, I'm going to take you through everything you need to know about JPMorgan's record $13 billion tentative settlement and what it means for Jamie Dimon, the man known as America's banker.

We're here every Saturday at 9:30 am, 2:00 pm Eastern, Sunday at 3:00 pm Eastern . Have a great weekend.