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Joy Behar Page

Interview with Richard Hatch; Public Option?

Aired October 27, 2009 - 19:00   ET


JOY BEHAR, HOST: Tonight, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has put the public option back in the health care bill. Is it because he cares about the public or the public opinion polls?

Then, is it ok to spank a child? That depends on who you talk to. Actor Eric Roberts doesn`t think so. He`s here to debate the topic.

And a primetime exclusive: Richard Hatch. He survived an island, the prison and death threats but can he survive this interview?

All this and more, starting right now.

People like Martha Stewart, Al Capone and Leona Helmsley have all been there. In prison, that is. Add Richard Hatch to that list. The winner of the first season of "Survivor" spent three and a half years behind bars for not paying taxes on his $1 million prize.


JEFF PROBST, HOST, "SURVIVOR": The winner of the first "Survivor" competition is -- Rich. Congratulations, Rich. Congratulations.


BEHAR: And the angels sing.

Hatch says he`s innocent and that he is the subject of a witch hunt. "Survivor`s" first winner Richard Hatch joins me now for his first primetime interview since leaving prison on October 16th. Richard -- hi.


BEHAR: Thanks for coming and thanks for keeping your clothes on.

HATCH: My pleasure.

BEHAR: We`ll get to that later.

Ok, so you were just released?

HATCH: I was.

BEHAR: You are?


HEHAR: What`s the first thing you did when you got out of prison?

HATCH: You know, I don`t remember. I`m still in the fight of my life. I don`t have this feeling that everybody thinks you might have for being released. I`m still under supervised release. I`m still under the Bureau of Prison`s thumb. So I don`t even recall what I did.

BEHAR: Well, you must have been...

HATCH: I probably went for a run.

BEHAR: You probably were happy?

HATCH: Well, no, I`m not, I`m not in that happy place yet. I`m not walking around all angry but I am 100 percent innocent. It wasn`t just the three and a half years in jail or more three and three quarters.

I just got put back in jail for doing an interview I had permission to do -- craziness.

BEHAR: I know, we will get to that.


BEHAR: Let`s just talk one step at a time.

HATCH: Ok, great.

BEHAR: So you went to jail. Did you think -- for three and a half years...


BEHAR: ... because you didn`t pay taxes on the $1 million that you got from the "Survivor." Do you think that you deserve three and a half years for that?

HATCH: Well, what you say for that, I didn`t do. This is the misconception -- just as you introduced it...

BEHAR: You didn`t? You paid the tax?

HATCH: Correct. Well, I`ve paid whatever taxes were owed. Listen carefully, I`ll lay it out very, very simply. There`s a process in the IRS. You fill out your tax returns...

BEHAR: Right.

HATCH: ... and you submit them. And your job is to do that as accurately as you can.


HATCH: And that`s why I had accountants.

BEHAR: Right.

HATCH: So I submitted the most accurate return I could possibly submit. To this day, I have no bill, I`ve had no amendment, I`ve had no assessment, nothing.

BEHAR: So didn`t you think with -- wait a minute, they did not come in to get their money, I can keep this whole million dollars?

HATCH: No, no.

BEHAR: Is that what you thought?

HATCH: No, no, even better than that. The money was earned in Malaysia just so you`ll know. And so there`s a complicated international piece to it where by contract -- "Survivor" contract and by law, that money that was owed to Malaysia was required to have been paid before we even left the island.

So that`s a little piece of this.

BEHAR: Who is going to pay that?

HATCH: The contract says, CBS or SEG -- Survivor Entertainment Group.

BEHAR: Well, how much of the million was that?

HATCH: I think, from what I can tell now at this point, 15 percent, $150,000.

BEHAR: And so what about the rest of the 85 percent of the other $1 million. I mean, you had it the bank, right?

HATCH: Absolutely and great question, that`s what I`ve...

BEHAR: Weren`t you waiting, when are they going to come and get me?

HATCH: No, no I didn`t even wait, I asked the IRS. We`ve been asking since 2002. We got a response in May 9th 2009, this year. They are now interacting with my -- with my accountant they have been, they have written a letter saying I`ve been fully cooperative, I have no assessment yet.

BEHAR: Well, you know what, Richard, I was reading that you also didn`t pay -- claim a card that you got from "Survivor," rental property, income, you never paid income tax on that.

HATCH: I did.

BEHAR: And there`s other income, I mean, you were convicted in 2006 for not paying taxes on the $1 million. $327,000 he earned as a radio co- host...

HATCH: Right.

BEHAR: ... 28k in income on rental property.

HATCH: Right.

BEHAR: You don`t pay your taxes.

HATCH: Wrong and here`s the clue. Let me use those numbers. This is prosecutorial misconduct. False, submission of false data is prosecutorial misconduct, that`s...

BEHAR: But did you pay the taxes on that?

HATCH: Absolutely.

BEHAR: You did pay that?

HATCH: Absolutely.

BEHAR: So then, what did they get you on? They just had a whim and they didn`t like you? What?

HATCH: Well, yes. There is discrimination, it`s not a whim. I mean, its discrimination is real. Yes, I`m not allowed to be married in this country, I mean, I am...

BEHAR: Well, that`s separate from paying your taxes though?

HATCH: It is and that`s why...

BEHAR: Yes. Right.

HATCH: When somebody does pay their taxes and there`s a process involved where the IRS is supposed to assess you, look at what`s happened...


HATCH: Right, look at the thing and say to you, hey, no, we believe this. And you should do that.

BEHAR: Well, you mean, after the fact?

HATCH: Right.

BEHAR: After the fact and so in other words, you don`t pay it and then, they are supposed to come and find you?

HATCH: No, no, no. You file your return as I`ve done all my live, file your return...

BEHAR: Right, with a check.

HATCH: With a check, paid -- I don`t know how much. A lot, a lot.

BEHAR: So you`re telling me something that`s different from what I understand to be true.

HATCH: As does the rest of the public.

BEHAR: Well then -- so you went -- why don`t you sue them for putting you in jail by mistake?

HATCH: We`re working on it. This is part of the process, me talking to you, trying to get people to understand what happened. I filed the returns, I paid my taxes. I`ve asked the IRS. The IRS then, did what`s called the civil inquiry. They asked me questions about my return. And I was completely and fully cooperative.

The former attorney general of Rhode Island, Robert Clark Corrente, a corrupt man, who, for whatever reasons, discriminatory or political, stepped in and converted illegally that civil inquiry to a criminal prosecution because of me; because it`s a witch hunt, period.

BEHAR: Well, to call him a corrupt is not a good idea right now for you. Considering you were on the lam, you know what I`m saying?

HATCH: Well, now he`s trying to be governor.

BEHAR: All right, whatever but don`t get yourself into worse trouble than you`re in already.

HATCH: It`s true.

BEHAR: Now, you know, when you were on the island, where were you? Borneo?

HATCH: Borneo, yes.

BEHAR: Borneo.

HATCH: Just a little island off the coast of Borneo.

BEHAR: Charming. You were known as a schemer.

HATCH: I was.

BEHAR: Maybe some of this (INAUDIBLE) you`re discussing here, is because people didn`t like you because you were such a little schemer.

HATCH: It`s true. Absolutely true, I mean, the game is called "Survivor: outwin, outlast, out play." And damn it, I did it.

BEHAR: And you did.

HATCH: Yes, you know, that`s the rules. A football player doesn`t tell you, hey, I`m going over here. They`re trying to win the game based on the rules, which I did.

BEHAR: Ok, you were a schemer on "Survivor".

HATCH: Very much so.

BEHAR: We have something, watch it.


HATCH: Somebody`s got to go. I appreciate your vote, not against me. I would love to stay. I think it`s been an interesting road to say the least. As it gets more and more real, one of these days, like some people may never know, we worked well together.

And I think, I have a certain responsibility for pulling the alliance together from the beginning and these are the four we started with. And I would ask for your help -- love you, Sue.


BEHAR: You`re a little calculating there.

HATCH: I am.

HATCH: Are you like that in real life? Or was that just for the island?

HATCH: I`m intelligent -- how do you like that and here he is, what an ego this bastard has, right? I`m a bright guy.

BEHAR: You seem bright. You don`t seem stupid.

HATCH: Thank you.

BEHAR: But you know...

HATCH: It would be stupid not the pay the taxes.

BEHAR: But Stalin was also...


BEHAR: ... he was smart to.

HATCH: True. Stalin, Hitler, we drowned witches and witches don`t even exist. Let me take it back to the witch hunt...

BEHAR: All right, go ahead, go ahead, go ahead yes, it`s all right.

HATCH: But let tell you about that.


HATCH: The clip you just showed...


HATCH: ... showed me asking them for my vote. The people that voted for me are people I kicked off. They respected how I played the game.

It was our public. This was the original show. The public didn`t quite get it yet. They saw this thing that the media caricature continued to boost.

BEHAR: Yes, now. All right, well, I would say that you have a reputation as being and SOB.

HATCH: I did, yes.

BEHAR: So that was why, partly why you got some bad press.

HATCH: Absolutely.

BEHAR: Now, you were on the "Today Show."

HATCH: I was this morning yes.

BEHAR: Ok, when you were released, you were on with I guess with Matt or Meredith? Who were you on with?

HATCH: Matt came to my house in Newport, Rhode Island. We got permission from the BOP for him to be there.

BEHAR: Yes, yes, right. But you weren`t supposed to do it. That was an unapproved interview?

HATCH: No, it was approved --get this again, misinformation, absolutely approved in writing from the Bureau of Prisons.

You know what they said, "We didn`t know there would be two more people there asking you questions than that were there." They lied.

BEHAR: Let`s listen to what you said on NBC`s "Today Show" in August.


MATT LAUER, NBC HOST, "TODAY SHOW": You have alluded to me that you think because you`re a homosexual that in some ways that negatively impacted your trial and your case. Are you saying to me that if you were heterosexual you would not have gone to prison?

HATCH: I didn`t mean to allude to it. I meant to state that definitively.


BEHAR: Ok, so what`s the gay thing?

HATCH: When you select a jury, you can ask them questions during a process called voir dire. My attorney said, listen, this guy just came out on national television before 54 million viewers. He`s discriminated against in this country. He just got married in Canada because he`s not allowed to be married in the United States.

BEHAR: You did.

HATCH: We need to ask...

BEHAR: You`re married?

HATCH: Oh, yes.

BEHAR: Where did you meet him? In prison?

HATCH: In Argentina, honey. And he`s so amazing. I love him to death, I truly do. Now where do I go?

BEHAR: So you think that part of the bad rap that you got is because you`re gay.

HATCH: Clearly. We asked to ask the jurors about their feelings toward homosexuals and the judge denied it. He wouldn`t even let us ask of them. Jurors came in there saying, "I hate fags. I`m not going on the jury."

So those got kicked off but we weren`t even allowed to question the jurors that got selected. And I`m not saying anything negative about the jurors. I`m saying something -- that`s evidence of clear bias right from the get go of this judge who exhibited his full bias.


BEHAR: Ok. So, why can`t your lawyer do something about that in the moment?

HATCH: This is a misconception everybody -- this is why I`m speaking. It`s not how court works. The truth doesn`t come out in court. I wasn`t even allowed to speak. My accountant wasn`t allowed to testify. We were not allowed to do all kinds of things that now in my final appeal, I`m asking this new judge, Judge William Smith of Rhode Island, to look at.

I`m just hopeful he`s going to look at the bigger picture and see that there is absolutely no crime. Never mind was I guilty of one.

BEHAR: I don`t even know if you`re supposed to be out doing this interview. I could be aiding and abetting a criminal.

HATCH: You could.

BEHAR: If they ask, you say you wanted to come. I had nothing to do with it, ok?

HATCH: I won`t say a word, I promise.

BEHAR: I`ll be back with more Richard Hatch, right after this.



HATCH: I don`t owe any taxes; I`ve -- to this day -- never, ever not paid any tax that I have owed. I have always paid my taxes, always filed my returns. And I did in this case.


BEHAR: That was you, on "Access Hollywood." I`m back with first season "Survivor" winner, Richard Hatch. You told NBC`s "Today Show" this morning about solitary confinement; let`s listen to that.


HATCH: This was the worst time of my time in prison. It`s bad enough being innocent and in prison. But in solitary confinement for no reason, without anyone telling me how long I`d be there. Without anyone talking about why I was in solitary confinement was very difficult. In an awful cell -- this is a cement cell, a tiny cement square, blood and food on the ceiling.

Kill the fag written on the back of the door, (INAUDIBLE) to the steel door, ejaculate on the walls; it`s an awful place to be.


BEHAR: The sheriff is fighting back, saying you weren`t in solitary confinement and called you a stranger to the truth which is Spanish for you`re a liar. How do you respond?

HATCH: In English, he`s a liar.

Listen to this. I never met the guy. In that same article where he responded and said those things...

BEHAR: The sheriff, yes.

HATCH: He said I refused to put pants on. He`s a liar. He wasn`t there. I was arrested in my underwear. I didn`t refuse anything.

BEHAR: What? Are you always naked, Richard?

HATCH: I`m telling. There was a guy at the door, what the hell do you want me to do.

BEHAR: You know, I have to give you -- I have to say to you because I looked this up about how other people were treated.

Leona Helmsley 18 months in prison for more than $1 million. You go three and a half years.

HATCH: 51 months, more than three and a half years.

BEHAR: Wesley Snipes, three years for not playing $15 million in taxes. And Willie nelson, $16 million, no jail time.

HATCH: My sentence is longer than anyone in history and there`s never been an assessment. I can`t say that enough. Which means, never been told I`ve owed any.

BEHAR: You had bad lawyers I think.

HATCH: It`s not about the bad lawyers. The system has a problem. When people are discriminated against, as I have been; this is a witch hunt. There`s nothing you can do, or little. I`m still fighting.

BEHAR: Well, Wesley Snipes could have said, you know, that it was because he was black. People could claim anything when there`s some kind of travesty that they perceive.

HATCH: I agree. So they have to present evidence. And I have that evidence. It`s in the record, it`s undeniable now and that`s why I`m hoping Judge Smith will look at it and give me...

BEHAR: But solitary confinement, that`s a little rough. Even for a big guy like you. It`s a little safer in there if you get my drift.

HATCH: Well, that may not be a good thing.

BEHAR: How come you couldn`t scheme your way out of prison?

HATCH: They bested me, let me just say. They bested me. When the system comes downs on you as it has with me. I`ve never been in trouble my entire life. I`ve always paid my taxes.

BEHAR: Always a good boy?

HATCH: Well, so, they say. But you know what I mean? There`s no reason for any of what they have done to me. It hasn`t served anyone. And finding the truth and figuring out how this can happen to somebody when they`ve done what they`re supposed to do with the IRS is something I`m hoping, Eric Holder, this attorney general will do.

The prosecutorial misconduct here is egregious.

BEHAR: Let`s talk about your time in prison. I want to hear what happened there? Did the other criminals recognize you?

HATCH: They did. Most people...

BEHAR: Was that a good thing or bad?

HATCH: Both.

BEHAR: Because white collar crime is kind of a wimpy crime. You know what I mean? So they may not look upon you as too macho and might use you as a patsy. You know what I mean?

HATCH: True. True. But there`s a fascinating thing that comes with this caricature of me that`s portrayed in the public. People think I`m going to be this cocky, egotistical, arrogant thing.

When they meet me, they tend to find out that I`m not. I`m just a regular guy. But before they meet me, they come at me with that defensiveness.


BEHAR: Did you ever watch the show "Oz"?


BEHAR: Did you ever get any tips on how to behave in prison?

HATCH: No, I didn`t watch it enough, I guess.

BEHAR: Now, you know, you were known for the man who walked around naked.

HATCH: I did. Yes, sure.

BEHAR: Let`s watch this.


BEHAR: I want to see this.

HATCH: We can do that here.


HATCH: Funny when I hear, how come you`re naked all the time? I`m naked less than 1 percent of the time. I would like to be naked all of the time. That would be smarter in this 100-degree weather.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he naked? He walks around naked quite a bit. I think it bugs some of the guys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s kind of childish, immature to me and kind of grandstanding and walking around on national TV.

HATCH: Your life, my life, different things. Who cares?


BEHAR: Who cares?

Levi Johnston, Sarah Palin`s son-in-law -- that she can`t stand -- he`s posing naked in "Playgirl" magazine. He`s one of the centerfolds and full frontal I understand.

HATCH: I wonder if they`ll do pairs.

BEHAR: What do you mean? Pairs of what?

HATCH: Never mind.

BEHAR: That sounds like some inside gay thing that I don`t know anything about.

HATCH: Oh, you know all the inside gay things. Don`t even start.

BEHAR: I don`t know that one.

Do you have any tips? That`s really wrong to say do you have any tips.

Sorry, I made a mistake there.

In the next segment -- we`re going to go take break and come back. I want you to hear some Internet fan questions. People are interested in you. I want you to hear this.

Don`t go way. We`ll be right back with Richard Hatch.



HATCH: I think it`s ironic that she`s trying to stay on the board and she`s not even in danger of getting voted off. Kelly, on the other hand, has no idea that she`s leaving this evening.


BEHAR: I`m back with the first winner of "Survivor" Richard Hatch, for his first primetime interview since leaving prison on October 16th.

Very good. Thank you for coming and doing my show first, you know. We`re a little table show, we`re building, you know. I`m so happy to have...

HATCH: You have a huge audience, we love you, it`s going to be great. I`m thrilled to be on. Thank you.

BEHAR: Thanks very much.

We have some Internet fan questions. They`re so interested in you. They sent us these. First of all, was the food worse in jail or on Borneo?

HATCH: Way, way, way worse in jail. Seriously. Way, way worse.

BEHAR: Really disgusting food?

But didn`t you eat bugs and rodents and things?

HATCH: Live, delicious, nutritious food.

BEHAR: Did you eat a -- you didn`t eat any rodents.

HATCH: I didn`t need to because I was the one who caught fish. I`m the original survivor; I`m the only one who could catch fish. And I fed my team. The other team had to eat rats.

BEHAR: Did you have matches to cook?


BEHAR: You ate the fish raw? Like a sushi?

HATCH: We`ve got fire a little ways down and then we cooked it. We just laid it on the sticks.

BEHAR: Elisabeth Hasselbeck told me that she ate some kind of bugs and stuff.

HATCH: Yes, Elisabeth, you know that was one of those past survivors. That one was -- that came later. She`s not a real survivor.

BEHAR: She is. She survived "The View."

HATCH: That`s true.

BEHAR: How did you spend your time in prison? I`m interested in this a little bit too because you always hear that people are raping each other in prison. Is that true?

HATCH: There is sex that happens in prison.

BEHAR: Sex or rape?

HATCH: I think rape as well. There are initiatives within the Bureau of Prisons to ensure that less of it happens. More of it happens in maximum security facilities, believe it or not, than in the minimum security facilities. It`s hard to describe. The most sex that takes place is among straight guys. I don`t even know where to go how to explain that.

BEHAR: Well, there must be more straight guys in prison than gay guys anyway because they`re a larger population.

HATCH: True.

BEHAR: So that`s why, probably. But suddenly straight guys are attracted to each other in prison.

HATCH: It`s weird. I`m not sure what happens or how that happened but it did.

BEHAR: I see. Well, that`s lovely.

How did being on "Survivor" prepare you for prison?

HATCH: I`m not sure anything could prepare you for being innocent and ripped from your family. It`s been horrendous. You know, we`re joking about it and I can laugh.

BEHAR: Well, you`re out now. There`s no other way to go but to laugh now.

HATCH: But I`m still in it and I`m still fighting. So it`s still a very, very serious thing for me. But I don`t know.

BEHAR: If you just felt that you were discriminated against, you might have a lawsuit there, no?

HATCH: Yes, I will.

BEHAR: You need to make money.

HATCH: You know, I`m hoping to get on radio -- back on radio. I did radio in Boston for a year and do some things. But for now, I`m fighting to be exonerated. Afterwards, if there are people who are responsible for what happened who I can make accountable, I will.

BEHAR: Maybe you could go on another reality show like "Dancing with the Felons"?

HATCH: Hey, there`s an idea. "Amazing Race" is my favorite.

BEHAR: "Amazing Race?"

HATCH: That`s what I want to get on.

BEHAR: Or maybe you could become a motivational speaker. You know, George Bush is doing that so anybody can be motivational speaker as far as I can see. There`s hope for anyone if George Bush, who is the most inarticulate president we have ever had...

HATCH: I couldn`t agree with you more. That`s what I did that for 15 years. I was a motivational speaker.

BEHAR: I wish you luck because I mean -- whatever. You got a bad break. I still say you should have paid your taxes even though you say you did.

HATCH: Oh, my God, at least you said that. But I did.

BEHAR: I mean it`s your word. I mean, this is the information I read. I don`t really quite get it.

HATCH: The record will show I paid them. When they tell me I owe more, I will pay those.

BEHAR: The record shows he took the blows.

Richard Hatch, thank you for joining me. Best of luck.


BEHAR: As Harry Reid put the public option back on the table, Nancy Pelosi says we need to rename the public option to something more consumer friendly. Joining me to discuss this are Ben Stein, Fortune Magazine columnist, economist, and former presidential speech writer and Gail Collins, a New York Times columnist. And author of "When everything Change" OK, Ben and Gail, welcome to the show.


BEHAR: What should they rename it because public option sounds so -- wanky?

STEIN: How about vampira, princess of blood?

BEHAR: Meaning what?

STEIN: Because it`s just going to suck money out of the public and not really give that much back.

BEHAR: Really, Gail do you agree with that?

GAIL COLLINS, A NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST AND AUTHOR: Oh I would say friendly kittens and puppy is something -


BEHAR: That just tells you, well I mean, why is it going to suck - well it`s not going to be - STEIN: Well

BEHAR: Going to be only for people who are really poor, right?

STEIN: No, because they need a full-time national Gestapo to keep everybody from joining in. Because you have a lower premium, it`ll have gigantically valuable coverage, and everyone who can will sneak over the border and try to get in, will kill the insurance companies. By the way, I`m not posed to everybody having government subsidized health insurance. I think it is a fine idea. Why not they just give checks to people who are indigents or can`t afford insurance and let them buy private insurance instead of screwing up the whole system.

BEHAR: What do you think?

COLLINS: I you know, it is all because lays need it. The theories that government can`t do anything, government is bad, government is incompetent, and yet, if a government has a program, then it will destroy insurance companies and lead everybody to wreck and to ruin. I think it`s perfectly sensible; it`s just there to keep the insurance companies honest.

BEHAR: OK here`s Senator Majority Lead Harry Reid laying out his plan yesterday, listen.


SENATOR HARRY REID: The best way to move forward is to include a public option with an opt out option for States. Under this concept, the States will be able to determine whether the public option works well for them or will have the ability to opt out.


BEHAR: OK, is this a play by Reid to say, hey, I tried something. You know he`s up for re-election in his town.

STEIN: And a title and his -

BEHAR: In a very tight race.

STEIN: Very tight race.

BEHAR: And he just wants to say, see, I tried? Or is it really going to happen?

STEIN: I don`t know if it`s going to happen or not. But it isn`t a terrible idea if they can pull this off. Why not? Why are we saying that the insurance companies are thieves? I mean if they were, they were really are thieves, they`d be making a whole lot more money than they are. They`re not wildly profitable at all.

BEHAR: Oh I don`t know if that`s true. I think CEO`s make a lot of money. I was reading something, they make millions.

STEIN: Well they`re pennies compared to what people make on Wall Street. So why don`t we have a public option for issuing and trading stock too. I mean they pay pennies compared to Wall Street, we don`t get on their case, much more than we do on Wall Street space.

BEHAR: I don`t really understand what the problem of it is really. I`m just a layperson. STEIN: If they can police it and actually make a report.

BEHAR: Why can`t they police it? They police a lot of other things in this country. So if you don`t qualify for the public option, you won`t get it? And why is there a Republican party so afraid of competition?

STEIN: It`s not afraid of competition, it`s afraid of subsidized competition which will kill the insurance company.

BEHAR: Why? Why would it? -

STEIN: But I feel like I`m stealing all of Gail`s time.

BEHAR: Why would it kill the insurance company, Gail?

COLLINS: It wouldn`t kill the insurance companies. And it`s perfectly -- the reason you need to have a public option is mainly because there are a lot of States, not a lot but a number of States in which is only one insurance company. There isn`t competition in so many States out there and that`s one of the most important reasons for having an alternative.

STEIN: Well there`s one state that has a majority with one insurance company. That`s Alabama. That`s one state. And even that is highly questionable of whether or not they have that much of a monopoly. But the real issue is are they able to control for fraud in welfare, for fraud and Medicare, are they able to control for fraud Medicaid? What makes them think they can control this? And we know there`s a lot of a problem.

BEHAR: But not a perfect system Ben.

STEIN: No I agree it`s not a perfect system.

BEHAR: But if you`re a very poor person, you need Medicaid, you have to get it.

STEIN: I agree. And I think the government should just take people really, really poor, have them show proof of citizenship and give them a check to buy a plan from a private insurer. Why wouldn`t that be a simpler way to approach it?

COLLINS: The state?

STEIN: Have the state of the United States of America do it. The United States of America would do that just to pay for people`s Medicare only it would give people a check to buy private insurance.

BEHAR: Well isn`t that the same thing? That`s the tail wagging the dog.

STEIN: No because the public option would be a sub -- a giant, super subsidized insurance company that would drive the private companies out of business and would be a way for the government to exercise social control on scale which I think is unwholesome.

BEHAR: Why is it going to drive the other insurance companies out of business? I don`t get that.

STEIN: Because you or I, if we say on a borderline between middle class or being poor, we can apply for this sneak in with some careless bureaucrat, and get this that, and then more and more of those people will join the public option and will be drained out of the private system.

BEHAR: Come on.

STEIN: No and why do you say come on?

BEHAR: Because.

STEIN: Come on -- you just said there`s a lot of fraud. I`m agreeing with you.

BEHAR: But I mean -

STEIN: Yes there`s a lot of fraud.

BEHAR: It`s not going to be a perfect plan, Ben. But at least it gives some people the option to come into the system.

STEIN: I don`t expect a perfect plan. I would like plan that which guarantees people`s health but also does not extend social control by the government down to the tiny nitty gritty and does not put a DMV clerk between me and my doctor.

BEHAR: But the insurance companies think to control our health, that doesn`t seem to bother you.

STEIN: It doesn`t bother me at all. I have never had a bad -- I`m 64 years old. I`ve lived a lot longer than you and I have I never had a big problem with a insurance company doing any questionable to me. So I`m not sure what the problem is. I`m not sure why people are so mad at the insurance companies, the insurance companies by and large seem to do a fantastically good job.

BEHAR: Not really, not to everybody. First of all, all the pre- existing conditions.

STEIN: If they`re going to cover the pre - existing conditions they`re going to have to raise the premiums on everybody. Pre - existing conditions are by definition very expensive. Its fine if they want to cover all the pre-existing conditions, cover them. But bear in mind it`s going to mean higher premiums for everyone.

BEHAR: Do you to have anything that you would like to add to that?

COLLINS: I`m enjoying watching the two of you arguing. Feel free to talk among yourselves.

STEIN: I kept saying it wanted you to have a turn.

BEHAR: Now a lot of this is about the States having control that I think is a bad idea. I think that`s a bad idea, don`t you?

STEIN: I think that`s a bad idea too.

BEHAR: Because if you`re in the middle of Texas then you know the red states are going to say no, because they`ll say oh it`s creeping socialism.

STEIN: Some will. Some will - I don`t see, it seems to me, it`s either got to cover everybody, or it`s not going cover everybody. I would like to see everybody cover. In 1970`s when I was a young, young guy who wrote a speech for Nixon, sending out the first national health care plan ever sent of Congress. We just said look -- take all the people who are too poor to have health insurance, we`ll give them a check to buy health insurance, it was really simple. I don`t see what is wrong with that. It did not involve handing out.

BEHAR: But it`s the same thing. Hand out

STEIN: It isn`t. It is a hand out.

BEHAR: Why would you prefer a handout to some government-run option?

STEIN: Because the government plan, in order to make the public option work, and in order keep the whole thing so called budget neutral is going to involve as they say bending the curve, which is going to mean getting the in the face of everybody patient and doctor in your face, and trying to control ways to play the doctors less.

BEHAR: OK, let me explain something to you, 57% of Americans favor the public option according to the Washington Post.

STEIN: Well you know you don`t have 50% of the public on.

BEHAR: They want it. Americans want it.

STEIN: Well you don`t have 50% of the public on you. You have me and Gail on. BEHAR: Well what do you say to all those people? It`s too bad about you?

STEIN: No, I say we`re going give you insurance. But you`re not going to get it through a government bureaucrat

BEHAR: You are going to get a check

STEIN: You are going to get a check and you can go out into the market and buy insurance.

BEHAR: And then every year you have to keep giving checks to people because there`s no employment in the country, nothing`s going up.

STEIN: It`s going to cost money to have them have medical insurance, too. The question is do we do it by enlarging government control over people`s lives or do we do it by just giving people checks.

BEHAR: Why do Republicans fear big government so much? What is the fear?

STEIN: The fear is they`re going to control our lives. And freedom, freedom is the goal of America. Freedom is the goal of America.

BEHAR: But FDR had a huge government, it didn`t control our lives.

STEIN: It`s tiny compared to what it is now.

BEHAR: But if it wasn`t for FDR we would not have Medicare, we wouldn`t have social security.


COLLINS: Most of the inefficiencies, the worst in efficiencies in government exist because there`s an insistence that there always been some kind of a private enterprise thing. You can`t just have government taking care of this issue. You can`t have government offering you a one-stop health care plan and because we have to bring in all the insurance companies. We have to make sure they`re all included. They have a right to fight back and forth to compete with one another. And all of those different layers of bring private -- our Medicare health cost, our Medicare drug costs would be much lower if we didn`t have this layered thing to make sure that all the pharmacies and the pharmaceutical companies get to compete, get to be in there, get to sell things. It`s got to be the private market.

STEIN: Well that`s why

COLLINS: You`re the ones making things inefficient.

STEIN: No, no -- you`re citing one tiny instance of government expenditures. You said all the government expenditures that`s inefficient and it`s because of Republican instance on competition. That`s one area where -- under the Bush Administration, they said that the government could not bargain about the price of drugs. But they do require generics be used in most cases. That is a form of bargaining. And the idea that all inefficiencies cause by trying to be more efficient is kind of, I`d say a rather bold assertion, if I may say so.

COLLINS: That`s what we`re in for.

BEHAR: OK, God forbid this fails `cause if we don`t get health care reform this time, we`re never going to get it in our lifetimes.

STEIN: It`s not going to fail, you`ll get it.

BEHAR: OK, but if it does fail who is going to be to blame, Obama or Congress?

STEIN: It`s not going to fail so it won`t be an issue. They`ll get some kind of bill through. What it`s going to be like we don`t -

BEHAR: To me, without the public option you have nothing. You have done nothing. STEIN: What if the option is if we take people the indigents and we say to them here`s a check --

BEHAR: I know, the check, the check. I don`t know if that`s going work, Ben. Send me a check. All right.


BEHAR: Thank you Ben, thank you Gail. Up next a spanking debate, I`m going spank you later. We`re back to Eric Roberts, in just a bit.


BEHAR: Some people think that if you spank a child, he`ll learn. Does that mean if you water board him, will he become a genius? In 2009, is corporal punishment really OK? Joining me to discuss Peter Sprigg, senior fellow of policy studies. He is at the family research council and Eric Roberts, star and actor in the new series on STAR, "Crash." and supporter of the national child project. Welcome guys to the show.

Thank you.

BEHAR: OK Peter, so Peter tell me more why are you for spanking. Let us get right to it - a child.

PETER SPRIGG, SENIOR FELLOW OF POLICY STUDIES: Well parents need to have an array of different disciplinary tools available to them. And while spanking should not been the first resort, it should be available as one tool. It can be effective for example in reinforcing other tools, particularly when a child is being defiant. Spanking -- most parents understand the difference between an ordinary disciplinary spanking and physical abuse and are able to draw that line. And ordinary spanking is not harm to feel children. It can be useful to parents.

BEHAR: OK, Eric what do you think about that?

ERIC ROBERTS, STAR AND ACTOR: Well I`m devastated by his enjoyment of that. But it would be like -- here`s what it would be like Peter. If like someone is 15 feet tall, weighting over 750 pounds hit you for any reason, hit you for any reason, it would be a crime. And that`s how much bigger you are than a child. So - it`s against the law to strike an adult for any reason even if I call your mother a whore; you`re not supposed to hit ever an adult. It is against the law.

BEHAR: If a child ever said you`re a whore they would get swatted.

ROBERTS: So why is it okay to hit kids? It`s not

SPRIGG: Well the reason it`s OK is because the parent is in a position of authority over the child. It`s -- the same why it`s okay for the police to use force in ways that an ordinary civilian is cannot use force because the police are in a position of authority. I think we all come to understand that about the police - and I think kids understand that about their parents


BEHAR: Wait a second Eric. Why do you want your children to perceive you as the police department?

SPRIGG: Because I`m in a position of authority and I want them to understand that they have an obligation to obey what I tell them.

BEHAR: But you know what - let me say one more thing before you get in here Eric, if you give permission to some people to hit their kids at any level, that`s a slippery slope towards further beatings for some people. And you`re a pastor. You are a role model for people I don`t think it`s a good idea for you to put that out there, frankly.

SPRIGG: Well I think -

ROBERTS: Good for you, Joy.

SPRIGG: I think that churches, in fact that I`ve been to a session at a church where a speaker taught the people attending there to use spanking as an effective and as a loving form of discipline. Certainly, corporal punishment using more extreme forms of physical punishment can get out of hand. But there`s no evidence that most parents who use disciplinary spanking are tempted to go beyond that and become abusive.

BEHAR: OK jump in there, Eric.

ROBERTS: Well Peter, what we`re discussing what I call the right to bear hands. And who needs your protection more than anyone else in the world? Your children and animals. But we get away with abusing them. The rule as I said earlier is black and white. An adult cannot touch another adult legally.

BEHAR: Let me throw in a study from Duke University. That said that spanking children when they are very young, I guess a 1 year-old let us say, can slow their intellectual development and lead to aggressive behavior as they grow older. Now so, it`s not really a good thing to children, it makes them dumb. Why would you want to do that to a 1 year old child anyway who is a tiny little kid, I mean you don`t approve of that do you, Pastor?

SPRIGG: 1 year old, 1 year old is too on young. I think the best --

BEHAR: How about 2?

SPRIGG: The best research shows that spanking is most effective with toddlers` ages about 2 to 6. Under aged - under 15 months or over about 10 years old, it becomes less effective and -

BEHAR: And then they`ll hit you back at that point. I mean then you`re really asking for trouble from your kids if you hit them when they`re grownups.

ROBERTS: OK Peter, Peter, I have two great books for you. One is called "The Natural Child" by Jan Hunt, which I recommend the audio version of because my stepson Simons reads it. And the other one is "Alice Miller, For Your Own Good." Alice Miller writes about the hidden cruelty in child rearing and the roots of violence. My wife and I have a brand new idea. It`s called "Peace through Parenting" and it`s this. If you never humiliated a child, hurt a child, or scared a child there would be no war. Think about it.

BEHAR: That`s possible.


ROBERTS: Because if children think they`re in ever danger of being hurt, then they grow up feeling endangered. If they grow up being terrorized at all, they will always keep a terrorist in their life. Whether it be their partner or their boss or themselves. You turn this against yourself.

SPRIGG: The best research shows that the most -- the strongest determinant of how children turn out is not use of one particular disciplinary method or another. It`s the parent`s overall parenting style. Some parents are too authoritarian. They have too much anger and too much punishment with not enough love and nurture. Other parents are too permissive. And don`t have enough structure and correction when the child does something wrong. The ideal parents` style is what we call the authoritative parenting style which has a balance between correction and loving nurture and spanking can be an effective tool within that style of parenting.

ROBERTS: Well that`s fine. But hitting is not something that you ever do to anyone who you respect. Kids don`t learn respect from having to behave in a way that stops them from being hit.

BEHAR: How do you respond Peter to the point I just made to you that it`s making kids dumber? I mean what do you say to that?

SPRIGG: Well first of all there`s a problem with all of this research that is usually sided against spanking which is that it`s not actually research on spanking. It`s mostly research on corporal punishment where the researchers will lump together ordinary disciplinary spanking with beating, whipping, slapping, and -

BEHAR: But that`s my point, you don`t know how far a person is going to go.

SPRIGG: But most parents don`t do those things. But most parents don`t do those things.

BEHAR: Yea but the ones who are sadistic, you`re giving them permission in a certain way.

SPRIGG: No I`m not,

BEHAR: By saying give them a stick and take the whole hand. You know your mother use to say that to you?

SPRIGG: In fact, sometimes it`s more abusive -- children can be more abused verbally when the parent is so frustrated --

BEHAR: That`s just as bad. That`s just as bad. There are alternatives to treating children like they`re slaves.

ROBERTS: Here`s a problem, Peter, you may not hit a child in a rage but you end up giving permission to somebody who is going to hit a child in a rage. That`s not cool, pal.

BEHAR: Let`s face it. Before we go, the only spanking we approve of is between a congressman and a page. Stick around more in a minute.


BEHAR: OK. We`re back with actor Eric Roberts and Peter Sprigs. University of North Carolina study says mothers who spank their children are three times more likely to use harsher forms of punishment than those whose children were not spanked. It is a slippery slope, Peter, whether you like to admit that or not, it happens.

SPRIGG: Well, but studies, surveys of parental behavior show that about 90% of all American parents have used spanking on their children. Only about 1% of parents have actually abused their children. So --

BEHAR: Well they`re not going admit it.

SPRIGG: Not many people go down that slippery slope.

BEHAR: Peter, you`re being naive if you think people are going to come out and say I beat the crap out of my kid. They`re not going to say it.

SPRIGG: Well no. I`m talking about the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and so forth. In fact, in Sweden after they banned spanking the rates of child abuse went up and the rates of teen violence went up.

ROBERTS: I would have to see those numbers, Peter. I don`t know that that`s probably true.

BEHAR: Really, and also, that`s because people are not treated for the craziness they have. Maybe there are other ways to treat your children besides either spanking or beating or hitting or whatever. I mean there are other ways to raise a child. Somebody said something very interesting to me the other day on this show. It was Richard Belzer as a matter fact.

ROBERTS: I love -

BEHAR: He said that there was a study done of people who saved Jews during the holocaust and the one thing they all had in common was that they were -- none of them were ever hit or spanked by their parents which meant that they were not scared. They were not scared to save another human being. As a pastor I would think you would embrace such a concept. Of being kind to other people and especially your own children.

SPRIGG: Well, I mean, people --

ROBERTS: What a great understanding.

SPRIGG: I`ve never heard of that study, but studies have shown that it is an effective form of discipline for a loving parent to use.

ROBERTS: OK, Peter, you have to do us all a favor and have to get Alice Miller`s "For Your Own Good" and Jan Hunt`s "The Natural Child." It`ll make use

BEHAR: I mean, one thing she says in the book is apply the golden rule. Do unto your child as you and others would do unto you. I mean I think that that is a simple Christian principle and you`re a Christian.

SPRIGG: If I do something wrong I expect to be corrected. Now, I`m not --

BEHAR: I`m going to come over there and smack you right now.

SPRIGG: Well I`m old enough that I can respond to other forms of correction. But a child who`s 2, 3, 4, 5 years old does not have the cognitive ability to be able to respond to the kind of --

BEHAR: But you`re so much bigger than a 5-year-old child.

ROBERTS: You`ve obviously never spent much time with small children. They`re very aware.

SPRIGG: I am a parent. I am a father, and -- now, I will say this. Not every child needs to be spanked. Children have different personalities, and some children are particularly compliant, but other children are more strong willed. They`re more defiant and for those children spanking may be the most effective form --

BEHAR: What about giving them a time-out? What about saying, you can`t go to the dance, even though they`re 2 years old?

SPRIGG: Yea Joy what do you do if they won`t go in time-out? What do you do if they say I`m not going to sit in that chair?

BEHAR: Well then give them something else -

SPRIGG: The studies have actually shown that if you spank them, then they will comply with time-out in the future and then you won`t have to spank them.

BEHAR: OK this is an unwinnable war. So thank you anyway for coming on the show, Peter. I know it wasn`t that easy to do with the two of us against you. So Peter, Eric, thanks for joining me tonight. Thank you for watching. Good night, everybody.