John Stossel, Penn Jillette on Health Care Debate

This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," July 16, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GLENN BECK, HOST: Here is comedian and magician, libertarian Penn Jillette, the show "Penn & Teller, B.S." is on Showtime tonight at 10 p.m.; and the co-anchor of ABC's "20/20," John Stossel. Don't miss his upcoming segment on Canada.

Is it a special or a segment?

JOHN STOSSEL, "MYTHS, LIES & DOWNRIGHT STUPIDITY": A segment, unfortunately. Just a segment.

BECK: Just a segment. Well, I mean, you know, you got the whole prime-time, you can carve out maybe a couple of minutes for...

PENN JILLETTE, "PENN & TELLER": You know, we've talked about doing a whole — a whole show on "B.S." on Canada. So, be ready for that.

BECK: What about Canada? I don't have a problem with Canada!


BECK: Canada doesn't exist!

? Video: Watch Beck's interview

So, John, let me start with you. Let's start with Canada, the Canadian health care. I am so tired of hearing, because I grew up right across the border, in Bellingham, Washington. I know the people, they built a special part of the hospital just for all the people coming in across the border to escape Canadian health care.

Tell me what you found out in Canada.

STOSSEL: What stuck most with me was the town that had a lottery. So many people were waiting to get a family doctor. They can't get one. Once a month, the town clerk pulls names out of a box and calls the lucky winners — congratulations, you're going to have a family doctor.

BECK: Right. Right.

Penn, insurance really is, I think, the problem, because it — we have no restraint. We have no restraint whatsoever.

JILLETTE: Well, you can also — yes. If you have — if you have food insurance, there's nothing but gourmet shops. But what we have is not really insurance, what we have is pre-paid. And that's a very big difference.

If you had it so that the people could get real honest catastrophic coverage, so they were really covered if they lost a lot of money and had a catastrophic event, but still had control over what they were paying on a smaller level, at least someone who was consuming the service would have some control over the payment.

When it gets really far away from individuals, it seems like a bad thing.

BECK: Well, I don't know either one of you guys if you've ever had this happen to you before, but I know, I've sat in a doctor's office and he'll say, "What kind of insurance do you have?" He'll be writing a prescription, "What kind of insurance do you have?" I'll say "whatever." Hmm, "I'll tell you what, I'm going to give you this instead."

They make different choices based on if somebody else is paying for it. And if you're insured and you're fully insured, you don't care.

STOSSEL: As Penn said, is if you had grocery insurance, you wouldn't care and the grocery store and the incentives that creates to spend more are just insane. And that's the problem with health care.

And yet, the politicians say the solutions are always more insurance.

BECK: Right. And I think, I don't know about you guys, I'm sure — once again, there are three — put all three of us up. There are three libertarians on television — at once. It's like, this is their convention right now.


BECK: When you — when we talk about...

STOSSEL: Andrew Napolitano is number four.

BECK: I know. He's upstairs. He's watching and going, "Oh, this is neurotic."


BECK: The thing about — the other argument that people always have is, "Well, then, what are you going to do to fix it? What are you going to do to fix it?"

First of all, I give people — I put people in charge of their own medical care, and then I also cap the attorneys, because the other reason why nobody seems to care is that the doctor is under so much pressure to not get sued that he'll do absolutely every test because he doesn't want somebody to say, "Well, why didn't you do that test?"

STOSSEL: It's safer to do a thousand tests when somebody else is paying, so they do many more. I don't know if capping is all that fair or that libertarian. If somebody behaves truly and egregiously, maybe a trial lawyer should back out of them.

BECK: Well, OK, how about this?

STOSSEL: How about saying "loser pays"?

BECK: Absolutely. How about that?

STOSSEL: Reduce the number of suits.

BECK: Right. If you have — if you are putting, if the person that comes and brings this ridiculous lawsuit loses, they pay for it, I'm all for it.

STOSSEL: And then the parasite class can't just go suing everybody for bad reasons and when they're proven wrong, they don't even have to say they're sorry.

BECK: So, Penn, how would you fix health care?

JILLETTE: Well, one of the things is all this pretending that we're going towards socialized medicine. We're not going towards it. We're already there. And one of the problems is that people are pretty happy with Medicaid and Medicare, and I'm not.

I think that morally, philosophically, individuals having more choice and more control over what they do is a really good thing. So, I'm afraid that I'm really in that position, I would like to get insurance away from the employers. I don't know why your boss has to be in charge of your insurance. It should be the individuals who travel with them. And that was only put in, as I understand it, during World War II. It was a work around of wage freezes to be able to give people more stuff.

Stop the employer from being in charge of that and make it individual. Your employer is not in charge of what you eat and eating is as important as medical care.

BECK: Right. Here's the deal in New York — because I'm a small business owner and I have 20 employees. I can't go out and buy a — be part of a plan in the entire country. I can't get a big group plan, but the government can, but they restrict insurance companies from putting a big huge group in. So, it's costing me an arm and a leg. And it's worse in New York than I bet anyplace else.

STOSSEL: And it's illegal for you to buy a policy in New Jersey, say where they may have fewer stupid rules.

BECK: Right.

STOSSEL: So, your policy costs more.

BECK: Exactly right.

By the way, I want to show you a little bit of John Stossel's upcoming g segment on healthcare in Canada and Great Britain. Watch this:


STOSSEL (on camera): If you want innovation and fast treatment? That often comes from people pursuing profits.

And you see that in Canada, because even here, there is one area where they do offer easy access to cutting-edge technology.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: CT scans, endoscopy, thoracoscopy, laparoscopy and arthroscopic procedures to evaluate joints, for cartilage abnormality.

STOSSEL: Available all the time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Twenty-four hours, seven days a week.

STOSSEL: Patients rarely wait.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I see a patient that has torn cruciate ligament in that patient's knee, we can generally have that patient scheduled within probably a week.

STOSSEL: But you have to bark or meow to get that kind of treatment. Want a CT scan in Canada? Private bed clinics say they can get a dog in the next day. For people — the waiting list is a month.


BECK: Unbelievable. It's absolutely unbelievable.

Let me ask you both this question, and, Penn, you said a minute ago that, you know, health care went to the employers back in the 1940s. I went back and I played on the radio show today, a fireside chat by FDR, where he talked about the second Bill of Rights? Are you familiar with the second Bill of Rights?

Yes, I'm going to play it on television, because there's video of it as well. It's practically been erased from our history books. He talked about there was a right to a job, and he actually wanted to change — put this into the Constitution, "a right to a job, a right to a house, and a right to health care."

It was rejected, but if you look at things, he did put the beginnings of health care. He did put the beginnings of — you're never going to have to worry about it with Social Security. He put the beginnings of a right to a house. Right now, about 60 percent of houses are owned by Freddie and Fannie.

And what does Obama do? He says, by the way, we'll just buy your house. If you're going to collapse, if you're going — we'll just buy it and then you can rent from us.

My gosh, our country is being transformed into something that is nothing like what our Founding Fathers laid out. True or false?

STOSSEL: It's certainly going in that direction. I think, today, that platform would win. It's people — it sounds good. Yes, I have a right to a house; I have a right to health care. It's a rich country.

BECK: We don't work for it.

STOSSEL: It sounds good to people. And we have to explain that to people that if you want good houses and good health care, all the innovation comes from that evil capitalism.

BECK: I know, I know. OK. Let me — go ahead, go ahead, real quick.

JILLETTE: I was going to say — that you always talk about the ambitious people are the ones who want to work hard. You should also stick up for the lazy people.

Capitalism allows people to do just enough to get by and not have government tell them what to do.

BECK: Let me tell you something...

JILLETTE: And that's also a reasonable life choice.

BECK: It is. I have absolutely no problem. There are people...

JILLETTE: And capitalism allows that.

BECK: You know that there are more beds in New York City than there are homeless people. There are more beds in homeless places in New York City, true or false, John Stossel?

STOSSEL: I have no idea.

BECK: OK. Come on, aren't you like — you are like Mister...

STOSSEL: I don't know everything.


BECK: So, they have more beds, they actually — the city actually hires people to go out, and a lot of times, they know these guys by name and they say, "Please come into a shelter." They choose not to. That's fine. In America, you should be able to do that.

But why is it that we have this nanny state — and again it comes back from the progressive movement in the early 20th century where they talked about, if you — you know, I think it was H.G. Wells, who was a big progressive, who said the state has a right to humanely put you down if you refuse to work or to conform to society.

This is craziness.

STOSSEL: But I had to apologize to Rudy Giuliani because I attacked him for his — we got to stop the squeegee men, we got to get this people off the streets. I, too, felt, if you want to sleep on the streets, who are we to say you can't?

But he made New York a lot more pleasant place to live.

BECK: The squeegee, you don't have a right to harass me and pound on my window and say, "Come on, pay more for spraying water."

STOSSEL: I thought most of them didn't do that. But...


JILLETTE: But also we're not sure that was Giuliani. There's a lot of stuff and freakonomics and a lot of theory that says, possibly that was just timing. Crime went down maybe not because of what they did, but just because crime went down.

BECK: OK. Let me — let me just — I want to do a rapid fire. Can we put a minute on the clock? You have a minute to answer — this is libertarian rapid fire. Are you are ready?


BECK: OK. John, we're starting with you, OK? A minute on the clock, go! Who is your dream third party candidate?

STOSSEL: I am. You are.

BECK: Yes.

Penn Jillette, spell laissez-faire?

JILLETTE: Oh, no, don't give me spelling.


JILLETTE: I will not do it!

BECK: Stossel, would you rather be the "American Idol" czar or the "America's Got Talent" czar?

STOSSEL: "America's Got Talent" czar.

BECK: Penn Jillette, what government agency would you get rid of first?

JILLETTE: Social Security.

BECK: John Stossel, would you rather see a doctor in the Dakotas on an Indian reservation or in Canada or in Gitmo?


BECK: Me, too.

Penn Jillette, naming your child.

JILLETTE: I think that's an easy one.

BECK: ...naming your child.

STOSSEL: I thought yours were easy.


BECK: ...naming your child, "Ian," is it a great tribute or dooming your child to obscurity?

JILLETTE: I think you should — the only bad thing about naming your children is naming them Dave.


BECK: All right. Penn, thank you very much. John Stossel, I appreciate it. When is your special on, or when is the...

STOSSEL: A week from tomorrow on Friday.

BECK: A week from tomorrow on Friday. And, Penn, your "B.S." starts tonight.

JILLETTE: Well, tonight at 10:00, and we just got nominated for two Emmys today.

STOSSEL: Congratulations.

BECK: Actually, Penn Jillette, his "B.S." never ends.


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