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Glenn Beck's Health Care Special

This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," August 11, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GLENN BECK, HOST: Before I introduce you to my panel, I want to show you one more thing. This is a poster from Germany. See if this rings a bell to anyone or looks familiar just in a different kind of media. This is something that translates here at the bottom to the complainer.

Can you zoom in on this one?

There's the complainer. These are four men. Notice how ugly they are. How some of them look rich or fat or whatever, maybe Jewish, maybe this one, I don't know.

They're all the complainers. They're all standing around in a circle, and they're talking about — they're all standing around in a circle talking about how horrible things are, and how we shouldn't do this. The parade, back here, are the supporters.

This is a poster of what you see every day now in the news media making the complainers, the tea partygoers, look somehow rotten.

R.J. Pestritto is the author of "Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism"; Carter Snead is associate professor of law, University of Notre Dame, and former general counsel to President Bush's council of bioethics; John Hoff is former health and human services official in the Bush administration.

Gentlemen, first of all, does anybody here believe eugenics is coming, building a master race?

R.J. PESTRITTO, AUTHOR, 'WOODROW WILSON': No, sir. Absolutely not.

BECK: No. OK, good. We're all clear on that. That's not what we're saying.

Does anybody here think that Barack Obama wants to snuff out anybody's grandma?

JOHN HOFF, FORMER HHAS OFFICIAL IN BUSH ADMINISTRATION: Absolutely not.

BECK: OK. So, what is the connection to what I've just been — what I've just been saying?

CARTER SNEAD, ASSC. PROF. OF LAW, UNIV. OF NOTRE: Well, I think — I think what you're pointing out is that in any system where the government allocates scarce resources to the population based on its own judgments about who's entitled to receive benefits, and more importantly, who's entitled not to — who's not entitled to receive those benefits, there are serious issues and questions, very serious questions about possible discrimination and injustice. Who's going to bear the burden of the regime? Who's not going to get the treatments?

And I think those are serious questions to raise, questions about fairness. And all of the proposals that have been floated so far in the public square raise those kinds of questions. Peter Singer is the most obvious one, because his program is sort of indifferent to fairness and distribution.

But others, even Zeke Emanuel, who's a very decent and thoughtful person, his proposal and his sort of curve raises similar questions about how the weakest and most vulnerable will do under that regime.

BECK: John, I'm not saying that any of these people — I mean, these are conversations that in academia, you should have — you should have these conversations. So, I'm not saying any of these conversations that they've had, or statements that are inherently evil. It's in the implementation of things where it always goes awry.

John, the complete lives system, the president says he has no intention of rationing. Yet, at the same time, they say we're already rationing. So, what is the complete lives system?

HOFF: Well, you've quoted one sentence from the article that Emanuel had written, and basically it says that we will value young people more than old people. But not all young people, because the very young, we have no investment in, whereas the 15, 25-year-old we have invested money in. Therefore, they're more valuable.

And the people who would mainly benefit, I think as you read it, were people 15-40. And this is not discrimination, it says, because after all, the 65-year-olds had the chance to be 25, which is incredible.

Now, in the article, they say this is not — they apply it to organ allocation for organ transplant. They say it is, quote, "premature" to apply this to the health care system as a whole. Now, I don't know what turns it into maturity.

BECK: Well, let me ask you, R.J. I mean, historically, what has — wasn't — didn't the, what was it, the T4 project over in Germany. Are you familiar with the T4 project? Is anybody familiar with that? I think it's the T4 project. It was the baby — I think it was "Baby Knauer," was a horribly crippled, blind, deaf, I think, didn't have two limbs out of four. They said it was going to be a horrible life. The parents said, "Please, doctors, please put him out of his misery," and Hitler came to the forefront and said, "I will do it." It started as compassionate, and then it went awry.

Do you see any parallels in history at all where an emergency would kick us into rationing?

PESTRITTO: Well, I think the point that you made is the most important to underscore, which is we are talking about health care rationing, and, you know, President Obama was giving a town hall meeting earlier this afternoon where he was insisting that nothing could be further from the truth.

But the fact is, when you are extending benefits to so many and you are talking about reducing costs, it doesn't even have to take an emergency. Government officials are going to have to be in the position of deciding how to allocate scarce resources. This means that someone is going to have to be responsible for deciding to whom care is going to be given, to whom it's not going to be given. We have a history of that in this country of government coming in and deciding, well, maybe certain lives aren't worth as much as other lives.

BECK: When I come back, I want to start there. I want to start — you know, when you start valuing life differently, and we've already started down that path, and I want to talk about that tree and so much more, when we come back.

Don't go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BECK: Hello, America.

We have a special tonight on some information that I don't think you're going to get anywhere else. And we tried to — I'm sorry I'm going to go all Charlie Rose on you tonight, but I brought on some big brains to help discuss this, so we can ask bold questions, and then look for answers. These are important questions. We're about to change America.

R.J. Pestritto is author of "Woodrow Wilson, the Roots of Modern Liberalism" — that book will make your head hurt but you will read things that you'd never knew in history. Carter Snead, associate professor of law, University of Notre Dame, former general counsel to President Bush's council on bioethics group. John Hoff, former health and human services official in the Bush administration.

Gentlemen, you two, particularly, I have to say this, I'm going to get hammered for not only doing this show, but also because you're both in the Bush administration. You were both in the Bush administration. Either of you guys want to address that — I mean, this isn't just — you are not just a hired gun for the GOP?

HOFF: No, I have no talking points and we're free. We're free.

BECK: OK.

SNEAD: I'm an academic, so I can say whatever I like.

BECK: OK. I want to come back to where we were — before we go to the chalkboard, I want to go back to where we were on valuing life. What do you — what do you see there?

SNEAD: Yes, my sense, and again, just to reiterate, it seems to me that the chief concern that I have about any of this sort of program is who bears the burden, whose lives get devalued in terms of allocation of resources. And if you look back at the chart, at the curve that Dr. Emanuel put up and getting back to my friend John's point about how newborns, their lives are valued in a less weighty fashion than older children even, it is because of the amount of investment that adolescents have received.

But also, there is a striking statement in Dr. Emanuel's piece in which he says that infants, in comparing them to adolescents, don't yet have a developed personality capable of forming and valuing long-term plans whose fulfillment requires a complete life. And that — that's a moral judgment about the status of a new born child that is a very contested and controversial position and results with very deleterious effects on that child's well being and entitlement to resources.

And so, and I think that that's something that we need to notice and take very seriously.

(CROSSTALK)

BECK: We're not even arguing when does life begin, if it's at conception or at birth. Now we're saying life doesn't really begin — I mean, I know Peter Singer says it doesn't, I think until the child can recognize that there is a tomorrow.

SNEAD: Right.

BECK: I mean, you could have — you could have killed Ronald Reagan. You could kill any child up to, I think he says, two-ish. I mean, that's where we're headed here.

SNEAD: Yes. You have a situation which there are sub-personal human beings — human beings that are not yet persons or no longer persons. And Dr. Emanuel cites Ronald Dworkin, who espouses a similar view on one of his books.

Now, I have to say one quick thing, though, about unborn children. In addition to devaluing the lives of newborns in that one particular proposal, if you combine the incentives for cost containment with what is likely to be federal funding for abortion, you might very wind up with a regime in which there is a huge pressure on parents to abort a child who has a disability.

And you can understand why people like Sarah Palin are upset about that, people who have children with disabilities. And I think that's something that we — a kind of discrimination that we need to talk about, not just for those children but also for people who are living with disabilities and are intolerant of imperfection that flows from a regime in which those kinds of decisions are made.

BECK: My daughter has taught me more than any other person that I have ever been around. She had 13 strokes at birth. She teaches me something every day. Without that imperfection, you cannot find the — you cannot find the truth without imperfection.

You — go ahead.

PESTRITTO: Well, there's a lot of misleading statements, also, about the abortion coverage and the health care plan, Glenn, and Carter is exactly right. I just saw Senator Claire McCaskill today at one of these town halls that we've seen so much of on the news, and in response to a question, she was claiming, well, there's absolutely nothing in any of these bills about abortion.

And technically, she is right. There isn't anything in these bills about abortion. The way the law works, what the courts have ruled on this is when the law is silent, the abortion is considered to be a medical procedure or medical benefit that has to be covered. That's why we need things such as the Hyde Amendment as we've had in the past where you have explicit prohibitions.

So, technically, it's true. There is nothing about abortions in these bills.

BECK: Right.

PESTRITTO: Which means that it's going — it's going to be covered.

(CROSSTALK)

SNEAD: They have fought tooth and nail to keep out language that explicitly excluded abortions.

BECK: OK. Hang on just a second, because I want to come back and I'm going to keep you guys over for another break because I want to talk — I want to come back, I want talk about the end-of-life things that are in there and the misdirection there.

America, important decisions to make: you have to know who you are, who we are as a nation, who we are as people, and when you become a person or when you lose your personhood. This is the world we're living in today.

More with my guests in just a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BECK: Hello, America. Tonight we're doing a special show, and I urge you to take this and bring it to your friends, show it to your friends, pass on the information that you see here.

R.J. Pestritto is the author of "Woodrow Wilson: The Roots of Modern Liberalism"; Carter Snead, associate professor of law at University of Notre Dame, former general counsel to President Bush's counsel of bioethics; and John Hoff, former Health and Human Services official in the Bush administration.

We're talking about health care. Today, I saw the president give his speech, and he said, "You know, some of these guys on that other network that are always trying to dig at me say I'm going to snuff out your grandma."

I believe he was — I believe he may have been talking about me, which I don't believe he is going to try to kill your grandmother. And consequently, guys, I think he is talking about you now as...

PESTRITTO: Guilt by association.

BECK: Guilt by association. We were talking about abortion and the beginning of life and how it will be covered in health care, even though they say there's nothing in this bill that says anything — you say that's by design.

HOFF: It is by design and there is nothing in the bill. There's nothing in the bill about anything. That's the point. I want to get to that and I want to get to the end-of-life part.

BECK: OK, go.

HOFF: The bill has a provision for a benefits advisory commission which is to determine what the benefits are — what benefits the plans have to provide. That's it. It doesn't say anything other than certain minimums, like hospital care.

So this commission or committee, which will be 27 people appointed by the president and by the Government Accountability Office, will make the decisions. So they will decide what is covered and presumably under what circumstances.

Once you start down this road of defining what a benefit is, you can define ...

BECK: Anything you want. The president said today, he was trying to debunk some of these things. And he said, "Look, we just want people to have a conversation with their doctor at end of life, so they know what is available so they can make decisions."

HOFF: Well, that's end of life. That's Section 1233, which has become something. It is 10 pages in which they have provided that they are going to pay for the doctor to talk to the patient about end of life. But it sounds perfectly innocuous, except why did they add it? They could have added it if they just wanted to do payment. They could have added it in one sentence.

What is really worrisome about this is that it gets — it tells — the government is telling the doctor what the conversation with the patient should be. And I have real problems with this. In fact, the doctor has to give basically what is legal advice as to what the different instruments mean.

And it reminds me that the doctor may say to the patient, "You know, I'm not a lawyer, but I play one for Medicare." That's what is going to be involved.

But the idea is that it is voluntary. Well, two things. One, the doctor gets paid for doing it, so if you believe doctors will do things because they will get paid, which is why they are putting it in there, he will do it.

Secondly, and something that nobody has mentioned before, he gets judged — he or she — gets judged on his quality points as to whether or not he makes this — has this conversation.

So obviously, he is going to do it. And then the white coat appears to the poor woman who has just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. And what do you think her pressure is when she is counting on this person to treat her in the future?

BECK: OK. Let me — I want to play a clip. Again, I played at the beginning of the show, because this is explaining why we're doing this, especially this next segment. I want to you listen. This is during the campaign when people were asking, how do we know? Because he was always very vague on — what, give me my change. And he said, "Well, if you want to really know what my policies are, look to the people around me."

Here is what he said:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Let me tell you who I associate with. On economic policy, I associate with Warren Buffett and former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker. If I'm interested in figuring out my foreign policy, I associate myself with my running mate, Joe Biden, or with Dick Lugar, the Republican ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, or Gen. Jim Jones, the former supreme allied commander of NATO.

Those are the people, Democrats and Republicans, who have shaped my ideas, and who will be surrounding me in the White House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BECK: OK. So, who is surrounding him? Here is health care. What are the roots of health care? Who are surrounding him? I'm going to introduce you to these people and ask you this question — why is Van Jones, the green jobs "czar" — why is the green movement so interested in your health care?

When we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BECK: Tonight, we're talking a little bit about health care and we are going into the universal health care tree and Obama. And he told us if you want to know what his policies are, you have to look at the people he surrounds himself with. OK. So those would be the roots of the tree. Who is helping him make decisions?

And I want to say something: You know, we've said about the idea that, you know, it all starts out really well and this then goes awry. Germany went awry because of a couple of things. First, money — they ran out of money so they've got to make choices, tough choices. And then, crazy people.

As we go and tell you the roots, tell me if you think these people — they're not crazy, but tell me if they are mainstream thinkers.

With us, R.J. Pestritto, author of "Woodrow Wilson: The Roots of Modern Liberalism"; Carter Snead, associate professor of law at the University of Notre Dame, and also, we have John Hoff, former Health and Human Services official in the Bush administration.

OK. Tell me about — where do we even start on the roots of the tree here, guys? Who is the spookiest part of this root system?

SNEAD: Well, let me just say, first of all, you have to say that Cass Sunstein and Ezekiel Emanuel are two of the most impressive and thoughtful people in public life. I mean, we can't tar them with any sort of pejorative expressions but I think...

BECK: Wait, wait. I want to make sure, Carter, you understand I haven't said...

SNEAD: No, no, no. I wasn't...

(CROSSTALK)

BECK: I said early on the show, these people have a right to say these things and have these conversations.

SNEAD: One hundred percent. We understand each other absolutely.

BECK: Got it.

SNEAD: But I just wanted to say, what I think that underscores. Cass Sunstein is one of the most prominent regulatory affairs experts in the country. Zeke Emanuel one of the most thoughtful physician policymakers in the country.

But both of them have proposed systems — although Sunstein not for health care, but rather for regulatory reform — systems of allocation that raise the kind of discriminatory injustice issues that we have been talking about. So even very thoughtful, brilliant people who are well-intentioned can produce systems that raise serious questions.

Now, if you look between Emanuel and Sunstein, you have Holdren, who is Obama's science adviser, who has said some things that are in print, actually. I think it was in a book that he co-authored with Paul Ehrlich(ph) about — which I think you covered before — some extreme measures for population reduction and control.

BECK: Forced abortions, sterilants in drinking water. I believe it was — was it Sunstein or Holdren? Does anybody in the control room know? That would talk about taking children away from unfit parents?

HOFF: Sunstein wouldn't have said that. That must have been Holdren.

BECK: Holdren? I mean, not mainstream, and I'm sorry. I have respect for the thinking of Sunstein. But look — if he is advising Obama, look who he is connected with as a good friend, Peter Singer. And Peter Singer is — I'm sorry, but — well, he's out of his mind if you look at him as mainstream.

SNEAD: But I don't even monopolize the conversation, but Peter Singer is interesting in that he is the most — he is sort of the purest example of an allocation regime that is utterly indifferent to fairness.

BECK: Yes.

SNEAD: I mean, he just wants to maximize the total number of — what is it? Quality-adjusted life years. That's consistent with what he argued in The New York Times magazine.

And so — but as you said, these are all sorts of variations on the same theme. How do you divide up the pie and how does the government make judgments about who is entitled to care and who is not?

BECK: OK. Is there any doubt from anybody here that we are putting ourselves in a situation — forget about health care. We are putting ourselves in a situation where our debt is going to be crippling and so everything this country does, we're going to have to make tough decisions?

PESTRITTO: Glenn, that's true about everything that the government does.

The government has to make decisions with some of its resources about where farm subsidies are going to go, who's going to get them, who's not going to get them, who's going to get highway money, who is going to, you know, get a bridge.

What we're doing is we're taking health care — even with the very best intentions, we're taking healthcare and we're bringing it under that same kind of process.

BECK: OK. So we have — one of the pieces is money. You're going to have a problem with money. And the second is crazy people. And I don't think any of these people are crazy. But let me ask you, the people underneath this in the root system, one is a communist. They believe in forced abortions, legal rights for animals, and babies not human.

OK. Well, that doesn't sound too nuts to me.

I'll explain this connection, the green movement, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BECK: Tonight, a special on health care that I ask you to watch the whole show if you just joined us. R.J. Pestritto, author of "Woodrow Wilson: The Roots of Modern Liberalism"; Carter Snead, associate professor of law of the University of Notre Dame; and John Hoff, former Health and Human Services official in the Bush administration.

OK. Here's the tree. Obama says, "Look at how I make decisions. Look who I surround myself with." So those are his roots, the people who are feeding him and growing universal health care.

We've spent some time over here. There is so much more to cover, but I want to talk to you about the green movement root.

I couldn't figure out why the green movement — here's Van Jones. This is a convicted felon, a guy who spent, I think, six months in prison after the Rodney King beating.

He was a black nationalist. He came out an anarchist and a communist. He then found the green movement was the new red. And now, he's our green jobs czar. Why is there so much money from the green movement, fund for public interest?

These are the people paying people for going into health care right now on Craigslist. Progressive Future and HCAN, ACORN, Soros, SEIU — all funneling money here. How does this fit health care. Why would the green people be doing this?

May I make a connection and see if anybody agrees with it?

Holdren is the key to understanding the green movement. How many people in the green movement — Holdren says we have too many people, we should have forced sterilizations. We should have forced abortions. The population is too big. How many people in the green movement think that people are a virus? I think that's a connection. Anybody? Nobody wants...

SNEAD: Well, I think the important thing to realize here is the connection between the green movement and health care might have something to do with the fact that the green movement isn't so much about green movement. It may be a bigger notion of social concern.

BECK: Well, it could be. You know, there's another thing. You know, Barack Obama said that he is against reparations because they don't go far enough. Universal education and universal health care is the way to help the underprivileged. The green movement is about — Van Jones, at least — is about social justice and spreading the wealth, communism.

So maybe the green movement is that front you're talking about, and maybe that's just his way of spreading the wealth and moving all that money into social justice through healthcare.

No? Carter?

SNEAD: No, I was thinking of something else, actually. I was thinking about the irony of what you both were saying about in terms of the principal rationale argument for this universal health care initiative is to provide, you know, coverage to a broad array of people, people who aren't currently covered.

But as I was saying before, any kind of system where the government is picking winners and losers, there are going to be real serious risks of grave discrimination and injustice.

BECK: Right.

SNEAD: And I think that's an ironic feature of this whole discussion, you know, that the rational is to cover everyone but the mechanism to do that is ultimately going to discriminate against certain groups of people.

BECK: You know, they'll say that we have a horrible system now because it discriminates against people. I've got 30 seconds. Anybody want to address that?

SNEAD: I want to speak to that briefly, just very briefly. I mean, no one, I don't think, here is defending the current system as a perfect paradigm system.

BECK: Right.

SNEAD: But I think there is a moral difference between the government picking winners and losers, and winners and losers emerging from a process of aggregated individual choices that people are making.

And certainly, there are people that are not able to make choices because they suffer from serious inequalities. But the solution, I think — and I'm no policy expert, John is — is to try to raise those people up so that they can make choices rather than scrap the entire system of choices in favor of a government in position.

BECK: OK. I want to thank our guests. And we'll be back with a final thought, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BECK: America, I just told that the blogs are already on fire from this program. You know what they got out of it? That I cried. God help us all.

How we cannot have a serious conversation in this country, how we cannot talk about things that are truly, truly important. Last night, I left you with the idea and I want to leave it with you again: Question with boldness.

Don't let anybody tell you not to question things. Then, listen to the answers, even if they are ones that you don't like or appreciate. They're not answers — if they're the answers, just live with the answer.

Question with boldness. Hold to the truth. And then, you just speak without fear.

From New York, good night, America.

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