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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Republicans And Democrats Debate Health Insurance Reform
Aired March 22, 2010 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, Michael Moore in his first primetime interview since calling the health care reform bill horrible, a joke, and arguing that tens of thousands will still die.
What's he saying now only hours away from it's being signed into law?
Plus, the man interrupted by the words "baby killer."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Baby killer!
BLITZER: Representative Bart Stupak is here. Did the antiabortion Democrat forever alienate some in the antiabortion community by voting yes on the bill?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Both sides will do well to remember the dignity of the House.
BLITZER: Next on LARRY KING LIVE.
BLITZER: Good evening, I'm Wolf Blitzer sitting in for Larry tonight.
Michael Moore is with us. He is the Oscar and Emmy Award winning documentary director, films include "Capitalism: A Love Story" and he "Sicko." He's an activist, best-selling author and good guest here on LARRY KING LIVE.
Michael, thanks for joining us.
MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: Hey, thanks for having me on, Wolf. And happy birthday to you.
BLITZER: Thank you very much. Nice --
MOORE: I understand --
BLITZER: Nice of you to know that.
MOORE: Well, all of the Web universe knows that.
BLITZER: The whole world now knows.
MOORE: We've been celebrating all day. And if I am correct, you're just three years away from being able to partake in that socialized medicine we have.
BLITZER: Let's hope that doesn't go forward. All right, let's talk a little bit about this medicine and health care reform.
MOORE: Talk about -- I'm talking about Medicare.
BLITZER: Let's -- yes, let's talk a little bit about what has now happened. History has happened, as you know. We spoke not that long ago. You didn't love this bill, to put it mildly. But you wanted everyone to vote for it.
It is now about to become the law of the land with President Obama's signature tomorrow morning. It will be the law of the land.
What do you think?
MOORE: Well, I think great. As I said on your show last week, I wanted people to vote for this in Congress. But I'm saying that with many, many reservations. I believe this bill is two steps forward and one giant step backwards.
The two steps forward are a number of really good things in this bill in terms of six months from now insurance companies won't be able to deny children coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
And by the way, insurance companies, if you just happen to be listening, why don't you just start tomorrow? Why would you deny a child health coverage because they had a pre-existing condition?
I mean -- I mean seriously. How inhumane can you be?
The other good thing about this bill is that kids will be able to stay on their parents' health plan -- assuming the parents have one -- until they're 26 years old. That's a really good thing.
BLITZER: There's other positive things that everyone seems to support. If you get really sick, there's not going to be a cap on how much the insurance companies can pay. They're going to have to pay whatever it costs to get you healthy.
MOORE: Not exactly true, Wolf. That's -- there will be an annual cap for the next four years. So, in other words --
BLITZER: But eventually, when the legislation fully takes effect.
MOORE: Yes. Correct. In 2014, after another 30,000 or 40,000 people have died as a result of not being able to get the health care that they need, it will be the law of the land. So way to go.
BLITZER: What don't you like about this bill?
MOORE: The worse thing about the bill is that our health care system in this country remains in the hands of private profit making insurance companies who stand between us and the doctors.
These companies are still going to be calling the shots. They are still going to -- this system will still be structured to pose the question every single day in every single waiting room, every single hospital room, what's in it for me, say the health insurance companies.
Where is the profit? Or how can we make sure that we don't lose too much money off this poor, sick person?
BLITZER: But as you know, President Obama never --
MOORE: That question is still going to be answered.
BLITZER: President Obama never wanted to remove the private health insurance companies. He always said from day one when he was a candidate and since becoming president that if you like the health insurance plan you have, you're happy with it, you're going to be able to keep it.
MOORE: Right, which really -- that attitudes really feeds to one of the worst things about us as a people, which is hey, if I'm doing OK, well, heck, then it's good for enough everybody else.
You know? It's like -- that's the wrong way -- he positioned that the wrong way. By the way, just to be honest, his -- when you say he ran as a candidate that way, actually, when he first was running for Senate, he said that he thought a single payer system was the best system.
MOORE: So --
BLITZER: He always said that if he had to -- if he had to create one from scratch, and this goes way back, he would have done that.
BLITZER: But given the realities of the world today, he said that was a nonstarter.
MOORE: Not way back.
MOORE: Yes, yes. If he could start from scratch. Well, you know, here's the great thing about if you get elected president of the United States, leader of the free world, you actually can start things from scratch.
You actually can actually walk in there and say, you know what? I think there's a better way to do this. Let's try that. Abe Lincoln did it. Franklin Roosevelt did it. John Kennedy did it. Quite a few lot of people have come up with crazy ideas like, hey, in nine years we're going to have a man on the moon. It's like -- and then they have the leadership to get everybody rallied around that and say, yes, let's go for it.
BLITZER: But he didn't have -- he didn't say, when he was a candidate for president he supported the so-called single payer system. And he --
MOORE: That's right.
BLITZER: He even walked away from what a lot of liberals and progressives would have liked as that so-called public option. That's not included in this new law.
MOORE: That's correct. So for everybody who's watching, please understand this. We do not have universal health care in this country tonight as a result of this bill. In fact, we do not have any real, real overhaul of our health care system.
We had a profit making system based on capitalist principles before this bill was passed. And we have the same thing now after that bill is passed.
BLITZER: Except for one thing --
MOORE: It's still going to be --
BLITZER: Michael. Michael, 32 million Americans who today don't have access to health insurance, they will have access to health insurance.
BLITZER: There may be another 10 million who won't. But you have to admit over the next few years, bringing 15 million Americans into the health insurance system is a good thing.
MOORE: Absolutely. And please remember, the key word there, and you did quote them correctly, 32 million now more people will have access to health care, not health care. In other words, there'll be a system set up where a goodly number of them are going to have to write a check to those profit-making companies who must be just -- you know, it's funny.
All day to day, Wolf, on the talk shows and on cable news and whatever, I haven't seen any of the CEOs from the health insurance companies on their talking about how horrible this bill is for them. Because ultimately, it isn't.
They're going to make billions more now because we've just mandated millions of more customers for them.
BLITZER: And if you watch --
MOORE: Let me just say --
BLITZER: Have you watched Wall Street -- hold on one sec.
MOORE: When you say 32 million --
BLITZER: Go ahead, finish that thought.
MOORE: Yes. No, I just want to finish answering your point, which is yes, so 32 million, that's good. Fifteen million still won't have that access. And so that means so many thousands of people are going to die each year. They've been given a death sentence, these 15 million that still aren't going to have it.
And I just think as Americans, you know, when we decided to get rid of slavery, we didn't say well, you know, we're going to free 32 million of the slaves, about 15 million of those slaves are still going to have to be in slavery.
You know? We didn't say, well, we're going to give 32 million women the vote. But, 15 million, you know -- but Mike, you know, be happy about that. Thirty-two million women are going to get to vote now.
It's like, no. I wouldn't be happy about that if that was the case in 1920.
BLITZER: But you are -- but you are happy.
MOORE: I'm not really about it.
BLITZER: You are happy that the president will sign this into law because the alternative, you say, would have been a disaster.
BLITZER: And we'll pick up that thought when we continue. LARRY KING LIVE will be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back. Michael -- Michael Moore is still with us.
Michael, if this had failed, if the president of the United States had failed to get this health care reform bill through the House and the Senate -- he's going to sign it into law tomorrow morning here in Washington -- what would have that meant for his presidency?
MOORE: Well, what I think would have -- it probably would have paralyzed him. Probably would have had a hard time getting anything done.
I think a lot of people, including myself who hoped that it would pass did so not just because of the good things that were in this bill, but also because a loss at this point, after working on this for over a year, would probably mean for the rest of this congressional session wasn't going to be able to get anything through.
BLITZER: Who do you credit? Because there was only a few week ago when Scott Brown, the Republican from Massachusetts, won that Senate seat, deprived the Democrats of their 60-seat super majority in the Senate. It looked to a lot of observers out there that this was dead.
Who turned it around?
MOORE: The people. I think the people out there. The people of America. Let their members know how they felt about this. You know, you had a very interesting poll on CNN today where on the surface, it looks like most Americans are against this bill, 59 percent.
But when they ask the second and third questions, why are you against the bill, it turned out that of those -- of the 59 percent opposed, about 13 percent, I believe, were opposed because they thought the bill wasn't liberal enough.
So when you strip that away, you then have a majority of Americans -- about 52 percent -- who either supported the bill in its present form or thought the bill should have even -- actually have gone farther.
BLITZER: That same poll, by the way --
MOORE: So I think the American people --
BLITZER: That same poll, by the way -- I just want to add, that same poll showed that 47 percent thought that their families health care will now be worse off than before the bill. But that was -- this poll was taken before the roll call last night on the floor of the House of Representatives.
MOORE: Yes. I think change is hard. But I'll tell you what's harder are the millions of people, 47 million, who have to suffer through not having insurance and then the millions of others who do have insurance but never really read their policy. Until they get sick or have a really bad situation happen in their family and then the insurance company goes all out to try to not pay the bill or to have it only have half measures taken when people need treatment.
MOORE: This is a really, really --
BLITZER: What does it say you to, Michael -- what does it say to you that so many of the opponents on the conservative side, on the right- wing, the far right, not even so much on the far right, they were saying this is a step towards socialism or even socialism.
I heard one member, one congressman from California basically say it was Soviet style socialism in the floor debate yesterday. Congressman Nunes of California. Yet, the stock markets today, Wall Street reacted just fine, including some of those health insurance companies, the pharmaceutical companies, the hospitals, the private hospitals.
MOORE: Oh, yes.
BLITZER: They seem to --
MOORE: You bet they did.
BLITZER: Wall Street seem to say, you know what? Not so bad.
MOORE: Not so bad. Exactly. Because free money is coming down the pike, boys. You know?
MOORE: Of course, Wall Street is very happy about this.
When they talk about this being some kind of evil communist, Soviet medicine or whatever, where did helping those who are sick and who are poor become such an evil thing to do?
When people speak out against holding our hand out to those who are the have-nots, aren't they really speaking out against Christianity, against Judaism, against the Muslim faith, Buddhism? I mean just about every faith actually demands that we take care of those would are the least among us.
So I don't know what -- I don't know what they're smoking on the Republican side of the aisle. But it's -- it's laughable. But it's actually tragic when you listen to their vile, hateful speech that comes out of them.
BLITZER: I think the deepest concern not only from the right but from many others is the cost of this. And we're going to talk about that. Where is all this money going to come from to insure another 32 million Americans?
We'll continue our conversation with Michael Moore right after this.
BLITZER: Michael Moore is still with us. We're talking about health care reform. The president getting ready to sign the legislation into law. The big concern from so many Americans is how much is this going to cost. Given the huge deficits, the annual budget deficits, the national debt.
Some of the money will come from Medicare, the growth of Medicare. There will be some reduction in that growth to the tune over the next 10 years of half a trillion dollars. Less money for Medicare than would have gone without this legislation.
Do you have a problem with that, Michael?
MOORE: Well, first of all, I think that if we -- if this is done right and if they make the bill stronger in the years to come, we're actually going to end up spending less. We spend $7,000 -- over $7,000 per American on health care.
The second number two country is Canada. And they're a little over, I think, $3500. Half of what we spend. So -- but we won't get there until we have a public option or senator -- Representative Alan Grayson's bill, congressman from Florida, where he's proposing -- he's got a four-page bill he's going to introduce. And basically -- I love how we have to count the pages of the bill now because, you know, if there's too many pages, that's a lot of reading.
BLITZER: It gets confusing.
MOORE: But --
BLITZER: But -- let me interrupt you. Michael because --
MOORE: Yes. He's going to propose -- but wait. He's proposing a Medicare, Medicaid buy-in where we can -- any citizen can buy that as their insurance policy instead of going to AETNA, or United Health Care or some other rip-off company.
So when we have real health care reform like that, the price of everything is going to come down. And I think that if they would also strengthen the preventative measures for health care in this country and we all, including myself, took better care of ourselves, we'd find the cost of all of that going down.
BLITZER: But does this -- does this new law --
MOORE: And we would live longer like the Canadian do.
BLITZER: Does this new law do anything to cut medical expenses?
MOORE: Well, no. Actually for the individual, your premiums are still going to go up. The cost of all this is going to continue to go up. For the individual, for company, the small business, whoever is having to buy insurance because the health insurance companies are still setting the rates.
And the sort of -- the weak regulation that's in this bill isn't really going to control them. So until we take them out of the equation and let me tell you something, they're not going to be threatened at all by this. I mean I love the punishment factor in this where there's -- you know, the one part of this bill where if an insurance company does deny you medical care because you have a pre- existing condition, their fine is $100 a day per person.
That's it. So, of course, they're going to weigh, gee, should I pay for this $100,000 operation this guy needs or take the fine of $100 a day? What do you think they're going to do? They're going to take the fine.
These are thieves and jackals. They have no business being around people who are ill and who need help. The question should never be asked, how much are we going to make off this? Or how much are we going to save?
BLITZER: But isn't that --
MOORE: That's got to stop.
BLITZER: Isn't that basic -- the nature of American capitalism?
MOORE: Yes, it, is, Wolf.
MOORE: That's why this economic system we have is broke, it's bankrupt, it's corrupt. It's unfair. It's not just. And we need a more democratic economic system where the people have more of a say in what's going on. And the richest 1 percent don't control the whole thing.
BLITZER: We're going to talk about your member of Congress, you're from Flint, Michigan, Bart Stupak. We're going to talk about him and what was achieved as a result of his willingness to vote yay together with his anti-abortion colleagues.
We'll take a quick break. We'll continue right after this.
BLITZER: Michael Moore, your congressman in Michigan, Bart Stupak, a Democrat. I think it's fair to say that because he and about half a dozen other anti-abortion Democrats decided to vote in favor of the bill last night, there will be health care reform signed into law at the White House tomorrow.
How much credit do you give Congressman Stupak?
MOORE: Well, he did the right thing. My neighbors and I, we spent the weekend up here, hundreds of us, sending him e-mails, calling his office, and putting as much pressure on him as we could, including coming up with a candidate to run against him in the August Democratic primary.
So I think that he heard us. It was one of these rare instances where a politician actually listens to his constituents. And he did the right thing. And I think that he made a very brave speech. I realized that he has a lot of personal religious feelings about this.
I understand those feelings. I was texting him from mass the other day.
MOORE: So -- but you know, my religious feelings and his religious feelings are supposed to be private and they're not to be imposed on other people. And so good for him for standing up for what he believes in. But he's not there for Bart Stupak. He's there for the people of northern Michigan who wanted this health care bill passed.
BLITZER: He's going to be on this show in the next segment. What would you say to him? And you have an opportunity because I'm sure he's listening right now.
MOORE: I think I would say to him, thank you for doing the right thing. Don't do this again. Don't put us through this again like that. But I'll tell you, Bart Stupak, he has had these moments where he's -- there have been these moments of courage where he stood up against the NRA here in northern Michigan.
I mean this is a gun owner's paradise up here. And he's a former state trooper in Michigan. But he knows right from wrong. I think that he did the right thing here. And I'm proud of him for doing that.
BLITZER: You heard the outburst on the floor, a Republican congressman from Texas, Randy Neugebauer, shouted out, he says "it's a baby killer," although we only heard the words "baby killer" when he was -- seemed to be directing his comments directly at Congressman Stupak.
It's getting pretty ugly here, this whole debate, especially if you heard some of the slurs that were expressed outside of the Congress during some of these protests over the weekend. It's pretty ugly out there.
MOORE: Well, yes. I think that -- look, the right-wing has been in power for -- you know, been in power for the last eight years and the President Obama and the Democrats have had it now for over a year. They're upset. They'd like to be back in power.
You know, they like to start wars. They like to bankrupt a country. They like to control women's uteruses. That's their gig. And so they're upset. I don't blame them.
Let's try and keep them out of office as long as possible because we don't need any more of what we went through through the bulk of this decade. We need to move forward into the 21st century. We need to treat each other better and whenever we hear this kind of racism, especially, the congressman who was spat upon, these sorts of things we must all stand up and speak out against it.
BLITZER: One final question. You recently wrote an open letter saying you know what? You would be a good White House chief of staff and Rahm Emanuel maybe -- should move along to the sidelines. You should take over. Do you still feel like that?
MOORE: No. I'm not saying he should. I just say -- I heard that they may be getting rid of somebody there. And if they were, I'd be willing to come and do the job. I just think President Obama needs somebody in there, getting him up at 5:00 in the morning.
I'll do the job. I only want $1 a year. I just need a cot in the basement of the White House. And I will get him pumped and ready to fight every day. Go up there to Capitol Hill and get the -- get this stuff done.
I mean this is -- what part of an overwhelming victory do the Democrats not understand? The American people sent them there to do a job, not to cower and be afraid of Republicans or hold out their hand and sing kumbaya.
This is time now to get these things done for the people. We've got millions who are unemployed. We've got the second economic crash about to happen because we haven't put one rule in place since the last crash. And we need real universal health care in this country.
These are jobs that have got to get done. I'm willing to do my part. I'm asking every other American to do their part to get behind this president. He's got a good heart. He's a decent person. And he just needs the fight in him. And he needs to know that we've got his back and we're behind him.
BLITZER: We'll see if you get that call from the president asking to come in. He's probably got a cot over there. But we'll see what happens.
Michael Moore, always a pleasure speaking with you. Thanks very much.
MOORE: Thank you very much, Wolf. I appreciate it.
BLITZER: Michael Moore, the Oscar and Emmy winning documentary director, filmmaker and activist, best-selling author.
Bart Stupak has taken a lot of abuse over the past few months. Will the "baby killer" shouts last night immediately directed at him? He's here on LARRY KING LIVE. We'll speak with him in just a moment.
BLITZER: Representative Bart Stupak is joining us. He's a Democrat from Michigan who originally said he would not support the health reform bill. But he ended up voting for it after working on an arrangement with the White House on abortion. Emotions ran pretty high during last night's debate. In the midst of Congressman Stupak's remarks, another congressman called out the phrase "baby killer" or "it's a baby killer." Watch the drama unfold. And listen very closely.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those who were shouting out are out of order.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Baby killer.
REP. BART STUPAK (D), MICHIGAN: Mr. Speaker --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Congressman Stupak is here. Did you hear those words that were shouted out? They were clearly directed at you.
STUPAK: And they were very clear on the floor, yes.
BLITZER: What did you hear?
STUPAK: "Baby killer."
BLITZER: Did you hear the words "baby killer" or "it's a baby killer"?
STUPAK: No, "baby killer." BLITZER: Just "baby killer." The word it's -- it's a baby killer -- you didn't hear the words it's and a? Because Randy Negebauer, the Republican of Texas, he issued a statement today saying what he said wasn't "baby killer" directed at you. He was referring to the legislation, that it's a baby killer. He called you, right?
STUPAK: Yes, he called me and he also talked to me on the floor. We had votes tonight. I talked to him there on the floor.
BLITZER: What did he say?
STUPAK: He apologized and said it wasn't directed at me personally. I told him, well, then it must be other members. Therefore, you owe the House of Representatives, the rest of the members, an apology. I mean, you have to keep proper decorum and demeanor on the floor. We're supposed to be professionals. I know emotions run high. You have to keep yourself under control.
BLITZER: He firmly believes that this legislation is -- the legislation, he says, is a baby killer. He gave an interview to one of our affiliates in Texas. I think we have a clip. Let me play this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RANDY NEUGEBAUER (R), TEXAS: I just called Congressman Stupak today and I said, I just want you to know that my remarks were not directed at you personally, that they were about the policy that was unfolding. I said I was very disappointed in the vote, where we had a government take over of health care. And I was particularly disturbed with the fact that we were somehow brokering a deal with the White House where we put the lives of unborn children in jeopardy.
I just told him, and I said I was speaking passionately. Some people thought I was directing the remarks at him. I wanted him to be assured that I was not directing those remarks at him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You don't buy that though?
STUPAK: No, I don't buy it. He didn't -- you know, he did apologize. He said it wasn't directed at you. But, first of all, the legislation is not a baby killer legislation. He never mentioned those facts when he talked to me, either on the phone or on the floor. So, I mean, the executive order that President Obama will sign once he signs this legislation makes it very clear the current law, to Hyde restriction, does not apply to this new act -- I'm sorry, it applies this new act. There will be no public funding of abortions. It protects the sanctity of life.
I really find it -- when George Bush was in, they had stem cell -- embryonic stem cell research. George Bush issued an executive order. All the pro-life groups and everybody applauded it and said it was wonderful and how great it is. We have the same thing, an executive order to help preserve the sanctity of life now being signed by President Obama. And suddenly it's not worth the paper it's written on? It's a baby killer? Isn't that a bit of hypocrisy here?
BLITZER: But he says -- Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey, Republican of New Jersey, said that executive order is not worth the paper it's written on.
STUPAK: Why it is worth the paper it's written on when it's George Bush who signs it on stem-cell research, but now President Obama signs it, it's not worth anything? No, executive order has the full force of law. And embryonic stem-cell research was a great one. Right to life applauded it. The Catholic bishops welcomed it. They thought it was great. Now President Obama does the same thing on the same principle.
BLITZER: The Catholic bishops don't like this legislation that's about to become the law.
STUPAK: Why? Is it more political? If we're really going to protect the sanctity of life, Whether it's stem embryonic stem cell research or keeping the Hyde language in here so we protect -- so we don't pay for abortions at federal clinics -- why is it OK for one president, not the other?
Look, it's obvious, as I said last night on the floor, they're using life -- they're politicizing life. Let's prioritize life. And that's what this legislation does.
The executive order is strong. It's firm. It's very clear. It says the act maintains current Hyde Amendment restrictions governing abortion policies, and extends these restrictions in newly health insurance exchange. It's very clear.
BLITZER: They realize because of you and a half dozen other Democrats who oppose abortion -- you went along with this. There will be health care reform. Without your support, it probably wouldn't -- they wouldn't have had the 216 votes they needed.
STUPAK: Correct. I think that's what they're more upset with. It wasn't the principle of life. They just wanted to destroy health care reform. And I and those other Democrats who said we must maintain our principle, protecting the sanctity of life, we all voted for health care in the fall when it came through the House. So we still stayed true to our principles, protect the sanctity of life and provide good, affordable, quality health care for Americans.
BLITZER: You're proud of your vote?
STUPAK: Yes, absolutely.
BLITZER: And you'll be at the White House for that signing?
STUPAK: Yes, tomorrow.
BLITZER: And have you met the president? Have you spoken to the president?
STUPAK: After we reached the agreement yesterday about 3:00 in the afternoon, I spoke to him on the phone.
BLITZER: What did he say to you?
STUPAK: I said I'm going to accept your language. Thanks for all your hard work on this. Now let's get health care passed. I said, Mr. President, I'm going to go vote, and we'll vote on it, along with my other members who stood with me.
BLITZER: And you'll be at the White House tomorrow?
STUPAK: I'll be at the White House tomorrow.
BLITZER: How did you feel about Michael Moore giving you a nice shout-out today?
STUPAK: He should do it a little bit more often.
BLITZER: He is your constituent. Congressman, thank you very much for coming in.
STUPAK: Thank you.
BLITZER: Thank you. Is health care reform going to help more than 30 million Americans? Or is it hurting even more people? There is fallout. There is an epic battle. We'll discuss that and more when we come back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Wolf Blitzer, sitting in for Larry. We're talking about health care reform reform and what it really means. We're joined by an outstanding panel. Ben Stein is the economist and best-selling author, a speech-writer for Presidents Nixon and Ford. He's a columnist now at "Fortune Magazine" Penn Jillette stars in "Penn and Teller Live" at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Vegas. His series, "BS," is on Showtime. He's a libertarian. Leslie Marshall is host of "The Leslie Marshall Show" on the radio. She says she's a Democrat who is liberal on most issues. And Dr. Andrew Weil is here. He is the best selling author of "Why Our Health Matters." Dr. Weil is founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.
Thanks to all of you for coming in. Let's do a quick whip around. First, good or bad? Right direction? Wrong direction? Dr. Weil, what do you think? This health care reform that is about to become the law of the land, good or bad?
DR. ANDREW WEIL, ARIZONA CENTER FOR INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE: This is not health care reform. It's health insurance reform. And that is a good thing. It's a step in the right direction. We desperately need health care reform, which means improving health outcomes, making us a healthier society, and getting health care costs down. This bill will do none of that.
BLITZER: Ben Stein? BEN STEIN, "FORTUNE MAGAZINE": Well, I don't think it's really that bad a bill. I'm not really that upset about the language. I think the way it was passed is shocking. There is no identical bill passed by both houses, which is a requirement of Congress for a bill to become law. They've done an end run around the Constitution. I think the contempt shown for constitutional processes yesterday was stunning.
BLITZER: We'll get into that. Hold on. Penn, good or bad for the country?
PENN JILLETTE, ILLUSIONIST: I don't think it matters whether it's good or bad. The end does not justify the means. There are no ends. There are only means. And the way it was passed -- I agree with Ben -- is horrible. If they want to trust the American people to do what we want, they should trust us. They should tell us the truth. There should be some transparency. There shouldn't be back room deals, no matter how good it is.
BLITZER: Leslie Marshall?
LESLIE MARSHALL, HOST, "THE RADIO TALK SHOW HOST": This is definitely good. I mean, we have children that are going to be born with birth defects in the future who will be covered. That's a relief to so many parents. This is a step in the right direction. I would agree with the doctor. It's not a fully health care reform, and we need to care more about the health, as opposed to the cost when it comes to reformation of the health care system. But a step in the right direction. Definitely a good thing.
BLITZER: If you had your way, Dr. Weil, what would you want to see in health care legislation, to improve the health of the American people?
WEIL: I would like to see a lot more language about prevention, about changing medicine. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa got some of that language in the Senate bill. And he's to be commended for that. We need a lot more of that. How can we as a society encourage people to make better lifestyle choices, discourage them from making worse ones? How can we change medicine so that our health professionals are trained to use lower costs interventions?
This is the real problem. How can we bring the cost of health care down and how can we make our health outcomes better. They're terrible at the moment compared to other developed nations.
BLITZER: Ben Stein, let me pick up on your complaint that you didn't like to process, how they did it. They've been doing it for 13 months now. It went through the Senate, went through House, went back and forth. There were committees, all sorts of debates in the committees, and then on the floor. What is so unconstitutional about this legislative process? That's a different process in the House than in the Senate, but that's the way the founding fathers wanted it.
STEIN: Right. Article I Section 8 says you must -- I hope I have the section, I definitely have the article right. It says the bill must be identical, in identical form, passed by both houses, before it is eligible for signature into law by the president. This bill is not at all identical.
BLITZER: That's not true. Ben, let me correct you. The Senate version that passed was passed last night, the identical Senate version. They didn't change a word. It was passed before the reconciliation bill came up for a vote. But they passed the Senate bill.
STEIN: Sir, with all due respect to you, my old friend and birthday boy, there is still an enormous, 150 page or more, reconciliation bill.
BLITZER: That is a separate piece of legislation. That's a Fix It, as they call it. But they did -- the Senate version was passed by the house.
STEIN: No, sir, with all due respect -- you know you have all my respect -- it is not the same version. The same version will be passed when that reconciliation is passed. It's written up and documented very extensively.
BLITZER: But you know -- I don't want to get into a huge fight about this. But if the Senate were to reject the reconciliation bill, that Senate bill is the law of the land. It's going to stay on the books. And everyone's going to have to live with that.
STEIN: Well, they'll stay on the books unless it is challenged by litigation and the Supreme Court says that these bills are not identical. With all due respect, they are not identical or else they would not need to pass this gargantuan reconciliation of the two bills. It is not identical. They can say it's identical. But it's not identical.
BLITZER: All right. Let me have another constitutional scholar weigh in.
JILLETTE: Well, I don't think -- I don't think you have to talk about -- be a constitutional scholar at all. The fact is that the spirit of this is not honest and open. Although I disagreed with some things Obama has to say, and I think I have a lot of disagreements, I believed him when he said that he was going to be transparent in this, and there were going to be five days that the bill would be in front of people before he signed it. There were all sorts of promises of no taxes. There were 14 taxes in this bill that have been added in.
And I don't think it was done with the idea of we're just talking to the American people honestly about this. It just seemed -- it just seems sleazy. Even if it is constitutional, man, it doesn't feel like change and a fresh breath and transparent.
BLITZER: All right, we'll pick up with Leslie Marshall and go back to Dr. Weil when we come back.
(NEWS BREAK) BLITZER: Leslie Marshall, you just heard Ben Stein complain about the constitutionality, the way this legislation was passed, about to be signed into law. Penn Jillette was not happy about the lack of transparency, as he said. Go ahead and respond to both of them.
MARSHALL: Well, first of all, I don't care what they're saying about the flavor, I think Penn said, because that's not going to work in a court of law. And most of these lawsuits, I think Wolf, and even lawyers, themselves -- and the president is a constitutional lawyer, practiced constitutional law for ten years -- they're going to get thrown out.
When you talk about transparency, the first time ever the president, with both sides, with legislators, on network television, talked about health care, the president constantly would say, that is not true; this is what is true. So when we talk about the transparency, when we talk about needing to hear what was in the bill, what was being proposed and what we were going to get, how it started from point A and end to where it is, I feel we did have that. Lastly --
BLITZER: But Leslie, let me interrupt you for a moment, because I think they the complaint was that some of the deals worked out, for example, with the pharmaceutical industry, Pharma as it is called, there were no C-Span cameras inside when White House officials negotiated with the representatives of the pharmaceutical lobby to get their support.
MARSHALL: Wolf, I can't -- I can't disagree with that. But whether we're on the left or the right, why are we surprised when politicians play politics? This is what had to happen, obviously, to get the Republicans to the table. This is not a bill with the public option. That's what the American people wanted. That's what the president wanted. That's certainly what I wanted. And that wasn't going to get the Republicans to the table or get the votes they got to pass it.
BLITZER: Dr. Weil, you are a doctor. You want people to be healthy. You want to make sure people get the access to medicine they need and to get the right treatment. You hear this debate going on, what do you think?
WEIL: Well, I am happy that more Americans will be covered. I'm happy that there is at least an attempt to make it harder for the big insurers to kick people out on the basis of preexisting conditions. As I said, I think this is a step in the right direction.
I'm not happy with the fact that this actually increases revenue going to the big pharmaceutical companies and the big insurers and the manufactures of medical devices. I'm not happy that all Americans aren't covered. I'm not happy that there is not real attention given in this legislation to ways that we can improve our health outcomes, make us a healthier society, shift this massive enterprise of disease management that we have, in the direction of disease prevention and health promotion.
BLITZER: We will bring back Ben Stein and Penn Jillette right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: Some critics may say it is a socialist move, a move toward socialism, but, Ben Stein, Wall Street reacted just fine today to the passage of health care reform. The pharmaceutical stocks, the hospital stocks and the private insurance company stocks seemed to do just fine.
STEIN: Well, I think that it is true that a lot of the money is going to be diverted to -- from the taxpayers to big pharma, to the insurance companies, to the advanced medical device companies. I don't see what is wrong with that. All these companies, pharmaceutical companies, drug companies, the medical device companies, they save lives. They help people live longer.
BLITZER: You don't buy this notion that this is a step toward socialism?
STEIN: If it is a step towards socialism, it is an extremely small step. It doesn't bother me one bit. By the way, Wolf, I did study law at Yale. I have a tiny bit of credential.
BLITZER: You know I am one of your big fans. You know that.
STEIN: Thank you.
BLITZER: And we can debate the whole issue of whether the House passed the exact Senate version or not. We will continue that debate on another occasion.
STEIN: Well, the "Wall Street Journal" may have it completely wrong. They have it in extremely great detail that it is not the same version. But with all due respect, I don't mind the bill that much at all. I do think the way it was passed was terrifying.
BLITZER: I know that you were also valedictorian, I think, of your high school. I have great respect for you. You grew up fast.
STEIN: No, at Yale.
BLITZER: At Yale, too. You are a brilliant guy, we have no doubt.
JILLETTE: Let me say, I'm not a brilliant guy. I went to clown college. I went to Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Greatest Show on Earth Clown College. Those are my legal credentials, and don't you forget it.
BLITZER: I'll never forget it.
BLITZER: I've seen your show in Vegas, and I know you've got a lot going on. But this is not the end of the world, it is, Penn? JILLETTE: No, it's not the end of the world at all. I don't agree with Michael Moore on an awful lot, but the idea that you punish big insurance companies by forcing people to buy their product is just a nutty way to take these -- these, you know, he calls them thieves and they have been villainized all over. And they are being treated pretty well.
What bothers me about this is I have never seen much that says there's a real surplus of doctors and a real surplus of hospitals, and you a bill that brings over 30 million people back into the system, and has nothing in there about getting more doctors and more hospitals.
BLITZER: Well, can we handle these additional 30 million people coming into the health insurance system over the next few years?
WEIL: Well, we can handle them if we really incentivize people to take care of themselves and be healthier. You know, Ben Stein said he didn't see what was wrong with diverting more taxpayers' money to the big insurers and big pharma and manufacturers of medical devices. What is wrong with it is that those companies are now making obscene profits. And that is a major reason for the dysfunction of the system. And to give them more money on top of that is absolutely wrong.
BLITZER: Unfortunately, guys, we will have to continue this on another occasion. We are all out of time. Thank you all for coming in.
Larry will be back tomorrow. Mitt Romney will be his special guest. Mitt Romney has called the health care bill an affront, his words, unconscionable abuse of power. Anderson Cooper starts right now.