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Wall Street 'Worried' About Patriot Act?

Reported by Judy - January 7, 2006

After watching Brenda Buttner's "Bulls and Bears," I was all set to invest my millions in the stock market on Monday to take advantage of the Dow breaking 11,000. But then I watched Neil Cavuto's "Cavuto on Business" a half hour later (January 6, 2006) and I realized the Dow is about to go into the tank because the Congress may not renew the Patriot Act. Boy, am I confused!

Cavuto's show was devoted to the question, "Is America forgetting what happened on 9/11? It seems some liberals have. Is Wall Street worried?" The answerwas mainly yes, except from Barbara Corcoran, of Barbara Corcoran Inc., who dared to disagree and paid the price.

Joe Battipaglia, of Ryan Beck and Co., said Wall Street is worried about the Patriot Act not being renewed because "Investors react negatively to uncertainty, and to politically battle over every initiative in the war on terror and then call into question the president's leadership at a time when there is a key domestic agenda to keep the economy moving and fight this war is going to hurt the stock market and hurt investors over time." De-coded, that means Battipaglia thinks that if Bush loses the fight over the Patriot Act, he'll be weakened politically and won't be able to push through the extension of his tax cuts. It doesn't mean anything about the merits of the Patriot Act in the "war on terror."

Danielle Hughes, of Divine Capital Markets, hinted at possible disagreement, saying she wants government to keep her safe, but wondered "how far is far enough" because "liberty is extremely important to us, as well as to the rest of the world."

Corcoran, however, fearlessly took on the boys on the panel, saying, "I am so much in opposition to the Patriot Act.I think it flies in the face of everything that America stands for. I wouldn't even envision that we'd even entertain renewing it. I'm shocked that we're ever talking about it."

That set off Being Stein, author of Yes, You Can Still Retire. From then on, Stein interrupted Corcoran and talked over her every time she started to speak, saying repeatedly, "Give me one example of what it's done to impinge on anyone's civil liberties, " and "You don't even know what's in the Patriot Act."

Corcoran kept her cool, telling Stein at one point, "You're rough today, Ben. I'm saying as an American citizen, a singular person, I'm always afraid now of what I say to who because I don't know who is going to come and get me."

Charles Payne, of Wall Street.com, broke in, "I'm more afraid of a plane crashing into a building than I am of someone looking at my life." He claimed that "it's because of the Patriot Act and other defenses that we've taken that we haven't had any other attacks." Actually, I think it's because it's far easier for terrorists who want to kill Americans to go to Iraq and kill soldiers than to bother with coming all the way over here, but that's another argument.

Hughes finally found the courage to say where she stood, saying that the "Patriot Act is "over the top in certain areas." As an example of the law's requirements, Hughes said she had a customer who invested money with her company and then a year later withdrew it, and she had to report them to the federal government because of the Patriot Act. Stein started screaming about that having been the law since 1980, but Hughes insisted that it was required under the provisions of the Patriot Act, not older laws enacted to stop drug trafficking.

The discussion demonstrated yet again how Cavuto uses his so-called financial show to further a political agenda that has nothing to do with the financial world, and how big-money Republicans pay back Bush for his tax policies with support for other parts of his agenda.

What is sad is how a few members of minority groups have bought into this tactic. Upper class African Americans like Charles Payne now feel more solidarity with other rich people than with members of their race, falsely believing that having money will always protect them from discrimination. Jews like Ben Stein forget how fear has been used against members of minority religious groups, apparently feeling that provisions of the Patriot Act will only be used against Muslims even though the law can be used against anybody in the future.

Only women on the show were willing to speak up, although if regulars Jim Rogers and Greg Hymowitz had been on they might have had some company. Rogers has complained before about being on the "no fly" list and Hymowitz is the show's token Democrat.

At least some investors are unwilling to sell their birthright as Americans for the price of a few tax cuts.

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