Share

The McLaughlin Group

Subject: Economic Growth, the Mid-Term Elections, Health Care

Participants:
John McLaughlin, Host;
Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast;
Tom Rogan, National Review/Daily Telegraph;
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report

Time: 11:30 am EDT
Date: Sunday, October 26th, 2014

Copyright © 2014 by Federal News Service, LLC, 1120 G Street NW, Suite 990, Washington, DC 20005-3801 USA. Federal News Service is a private firm not affiliated with the federal government. No portion of this transcript may be copied, sold or retransmitted without the written authority of Federal News Service, LLC. Copyright is not claimed as to any part of the original work prepared by a United States government officer or employee as a part of that person's official duties. For information on subscribing to the FNS Transcripts Database or any other FNS product, please email info@fednews.com or call 1-202-347-1400.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: The Next Nasty?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) So there are enormous reasons to be optimistic about America. We've got the best cards. We've got the best hand. We've come so far. But the question on our minds today is where do we go from here? What does our future look like?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The future looks bleak, Mr. President, if, that is, economist Robert Gordon of Northwestern University is right. In an analysis recently published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, Professor Gordon says economic growth forecasts for the coming decade are overly optimistic.

Currently, the Congressional Budget Office projects growth in the gross domestic product of 2.1 percent annually over the next 10 years. This is far below the postwar average of 3.5 percent growth, but not low enough for Professor Gordon. He predicts growth will average an anemic 1.6 percent over the next 10 years. The reason: The baby boomers' exodus from the workforce and a long-term drop in productivity.

Instead of enlarging the labor force, new hires will barely replace current workers. That means a smaller labor force, and, unless productivity expands dramatically, fewer goods being made. As a result, the ratio of national debt to GDP will climb to 87 percent by 2024, not the 78 percent in government forecasts. Interest rates will have to rise sooner and higher to finance that debt.

Gordon's forecast has alarmed Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Samuelson. Quote: "If he's right, this could be our next nasty economic surprise. The prospect now is for years of modest or, in Europe, non-existent growth. How will political systems cope? Will class warfare intensify as groups battle harder for bigger shares of a stagnant pie? Without an expanding economy as a shock absorber, will racial, ethnic, generational and ideological conflicts worsen? Prolonged sluggishness would turn the economy into a zero-sum game where one group's gain is another's loss. This is no formula for social peace," unquote.

Question: Are we in for a decade of political and social unrest? Pat Buchanan.

PAT BUCHANAN: I think more than a decade, John. I think those gentlemen are right. There is no question about it. If you take the share of the labor force that is working, that is diminishing. If you take the baby boomers, who are, quite frankly, the best-skilled, best-educated generation we've ever had, it's passing on.

It's being replaced by tens of millions of folks who are coming in, immigrating legally and illegally from the Third World, who lack the skills, who lack the education, who lack the abilities. And they're replacing these baby boomers. And I do agree, once the economy starts growing at such a sluggish rate in the United States, then you begin sort of a battle of all against all for control of the resources that are left. So I don't think it's a very pretty future. And I do believe recent years have pointed exactly to where this is going.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor Clift.

ELEANOR CLIFT: I think just the opposite. I think there's a very bright future ahead. I think that he's right about the baby boomers leaving the workforce, but the millennials are coming in. It's an even bigger group than the baby boomers. They're smart. They're educated. They're diverse.

There will be a lot of energy. We're on the verge of becoming energy-self-sufficient in this country. We're going to be exporting energy. We're still the technological leaders in the world. And the last time I checked, they revised -- not they revised -- the last quarter upwards growth in the second quarter of this year was 4.6 percent.

So I think we do have some real concerns about the nature of work. Jobs are being replaced by robots. And there's a real discipline of study now that worries whether robots are going to get so smart that we can't control them. So, you know, there aren't enough jobs to go around. I think work has to be rethought. But I think there's a lot of energy and creativity. And the U.S. remains the safe harbor for people's money. The dollar is the indispensable currency.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That robots remark is quite interesting. I wonder if I could get four robots to do this show with me.

MS. CLIFT: We get one robot.

MR. BUCHANAN: We could get a host -- a robot as a host. (Laughter.)

MORT ZUCKERMAN: If you had four -- if you had four robots doing the show, your phrase that it's interesting, that would not happen to be the word you would use to describe your show.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: And would there be liberal robots and conservative robots? How could you tell the difference?

TOM ROGAN: Robots don't have experience.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think that liberal robot is moving right. (Laughter.)

What do you have to say?

MR. ROGAN: Robots don't have experience, so you've got to keep us on the show. But I think in terms of -- the big issues, as I see it -- I think Eleanor is absolutely right in terms of there's a huge opportunity with energy. But I don't think we're taking nearly as much advantage of that as we should be. I think it could be done in an environmentally friendly way, but I think we have to get away from some of the scare tactics on fracking, for example.

But the more important issue is the national debt, which continues to explode, which we haven't seen anywhere near the kind of reforms that we need to see, both to the tax system, but also to social welfare in terms of Social Security and Medicare, making sure that that's something for the poorest Americans and that is efficient so that my generation has access to it.

In terms of social tensions, though, I think unless we address those issues, unless we come to grips with those big things that are going to be into the future -- and again, you look at the CBO, talking about 2018, the deficit goes up again -- then there are real issues.

But part of the reason I think there's this expectation of tensions at the moment is partly because of, you know, social media and the Internet, that it's broadcast and it galvanizes popular movements in a way that we haven't seen before. But there's optimism as well. We hold the opportunity in our hands.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, optimism is built on upward mobility.

MR. ROGAN: Right.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What happens when the economy is squeezed the way we're describing here?

MR. ROGAN: Yeah. And that's the issue. You have to have --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's happening.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, you're --

MR. ROGAN: -- opportunity culture.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's happening as we sit.

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And it's quite dramatic. And it's going to continue. I mean, just look at the -- if you took out the number of people who left the labor force and you just assume that those people, in effect, are unemployed, the unemployment rate wouldn't be 6.1 percent. It would be 12 percent. So these people, as a practical matter, many of them are leaving the labor force because they can't get jobs. So we --

MR. BUCHANAN: Real wages in middle America have basically --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- been totally stagnant since 1974.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: In the last --

MR. BUCHANAN: I mean --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: In the last half-dozen years, the real wages have gone down by about $4,500 a year. That's a lot of money for a lot of people.

MR. BUCHANAN: Where's the political unity to come together to deal with the entitlements, which I agree has to be done? Look at what we've got right now. You've got a wholly complete deadlock. Neither party is going to deal with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the enormous cost and consumption of --

(Cross talk.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Whatever we may think about it, I'm going to read you a number here. There was a poll that was just taken a couple of months ago. Seventy-eight percent said they had no confidence whatever that Washington could ride to their rescue and improve their economic condition.

MS. CLIFT: We've got a presidential race coming up.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: What it means is that you have --

MS. CLIFT: And these issues of inequality are going to be engaged. And I think the country is agitating. You have ballot measures to raise the minimum wage in a number of states. I mean, people are beginning to come to the realization that they've got to step up to the ballot box -

MR. BUCHANAN: When you take a look at it --

MS. CLIFT: -- and force Washington to act.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- I think -- take a look at the disrespect in which the Congress of the United States, the elected body, is held. I think we're moving to a point where a lot of people are going to say we need a man of action, someone, an authoritarian figure, to solve these problems, and that Congress can't do it.

MS. CLIFT: Not a woman as an authoritarian figure? (Laughs.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I wouldn't call it an authoritarian figure. I would just call it a leader. We do not have somebody, frankly, in the White House who has the credibility in the Congress to do the kinds of things that this country is going to have to do to improve its economy. And it's not just one part of it. It's a whole series of things that have to be done that people have been writing about and urging for -

MR. BUCHANAN: But can the Congress do it -- (inaudible) -- Congress like (we've got ?) to do that?

(Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: That's what elections are for too.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: According to Gallup, 58 percent of Americans say a third party is needed because they are already disillusioned with the performance of the two major parties. Is that poll the canary in the coal mine?

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me speak as a leader of a third party, John. I'm not sure that's a solution. (Laughs.) But, look, you get a third party out there -- you've got one in Britain. All it does is split off votes from one or the other parties. I mean, but this, again, reaches toward this idea almost of some kind of coalition government, different than the system -- our system is breaking down.

MS. CLIFT: But --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let me -- hold on. Let me give you this stat. How many Americans believe the two-party system is responsive to their needs? According to Gallup, September 4 to 7, 2014 governance poll, only 35 percent --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that's about a third -- say the two parties were adequately representing the public. That is the lowest percentage since 2008. What do you think of that?

MR. ROGAN: I think there's an absolute lack of trust among the American population, both on left and right. I think partly you see the rise of Chris Christie on the Republican side and Hillary Clinton, as more aggressive politicians, you know, taking advantage of that. But people have an appetite for change. But there is real sense of disenfranchisement and disconnection from politics. And the only way it gets resolved, I think, is by --

MS. CLIFT: A pox on both houses is how the voters feel right now.

MR. ROGAN: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You can't go wrong --

MS. CLIFT: But in the end, there'll be a choice and they'll vote for one or the other.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, you can't go wrong with that -- a pox on both houses.

MS. CLIFT: That's right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: On balance, whose projections for the next 10 years are more believable, the rosy scenario of the Congressional Budget Office or the downbeat scenario of Professor Gordon? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think Gordon and Samuelson are on the mark.

MS. CLIFT: I think the realistic assessment of the CBO and a look at where we are in the data compared to when this president took office, we're a heck of a lot better. He's brought this economy back.

MR. ROGAN: I would disagree with that. But I think the CBO numbers rely upon expectations that Congress is going to do things they've said they would do, which is -- you know, CBO has to do that. So I think it's very overly optimistic. They keep on having to change it. I think, yeah, we have a problem. I think Samuelson in his op-ed is reflecting a great concern. But it's addressable.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean the expectations of Congress being able to function as it's supposed to -

MR. ROGAN: Yeah, they --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- are overdrawn.

MR. ROGAN: CBO has to project what the Congress says it's going to do, and then it doesn't do it.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We've had five years, five years, consecutive years, in which GDP growth has been about 2.1 percent. That's the lowest we've had since the Depression. OK, it's the worst recession we've had. It's not even a recession in a normal sense. We are under tremendous economic pressure and political pressure. We will have to have a level of leadership in the next administration that we have not had in a long time.

MR. BUCHANAN: Spengler was right, John. Spengler was right; Spengler and Burnham and Buchanan, "Death of the West."

MS. CLIFT: All the people who are predicting the death of the West -

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In this environment --

MS. CLIFT: -- are wrong. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In this environment, McLaughlin is right.

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) OK.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And I think we need a third party. And I think you're our man, Mort.

Don't forget, the McLaughlin Group has its own website, and you can watch this program or earlier programs on the Web at any time, from anywhere in the world, at McLaughlin.com. Could anything be simpler -- McLaughlin.com -- or more character-building?

Issue Two: Ballot Battles.

Election Day, November the 4th, is not just politicians who will get yea or nay votes. So will ballot initiatives -- economic and social issues decided by voters that pertain to their individual states.

Often these issues have been neglected or stalled at the federal level; namely, in the U.S. Congress. Of the 125 ballot initiatives in 41 states that will be voted on in a week and a half, here's a sample, as listed by the Politico newspaper.

Item: Medical marijuana.

WOMAN: (From videotape.) We do know that cannabis is medicine.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Medical marijuana advocates in the state of Florida are hopeful that legal medical marijuana in their state will be a reality. The initiative needs 60 percent of voters to pass.

Item: Recreational marijuana. In the wake of Colorado and Washington State, where recreational marijuana use is now legal, voters will decide in Oregon and Alaska whether their states will follow suit and OK recreational marijuana.

Item: Minimum-wage hike in -- get this -- Republican-heavy states Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota. All four states voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, although the minimum-wage issue is one the Democrats have seized on.

Item: Guns. Washington State has two initiatives on the ballot that seemingly contradict one another. I-594 is a measure that would stipulate universal background checks for gun buyers. But Initiative I-591 prohibits background checks for gun buyers unless mandated by federal law.

Polling shows majorities of Washingtonians favor both initiatives. So what if both pass? Legal expert Professor Hugh Spitzer of the University of Washington says this. Quote: "My guess is that the state supreme court would try to reconcile the two initiatives. But they can't be reconciled," unquote.

Item: Abortion. Voters in Colorado and North Dakota will decide on, quote-unquote, "personhood measures," which would grant legal status to embryos at the point of conception. Tennessee voters will decide on a resolution that would allow the state legislature to, quote, "enact, amend or repeal statutes," unquote, on abortion.

Item: Bears, as in hunting them. Maine voters will decide whether or not to ban the use of bait, traps and dogs to hunt bears in their state.

Question: What are the political roots of laws passed by initiatives and referendum measures? Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: One of the roots, John, is the sense that there's complete gridlock at the national level, and people at the local level want to move on it. Particularly -- take particularly the minimum-wage laws. I think people have different expectations and differences.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MR. BUCHANAN: This is the new federalism, really, in action. I think it's a good thing. And I predict that all of these minimum-wage laws, especially the marginal increases, will pass.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but I'm looking for the political roots. It's prairie populism.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, this --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Didn't you involve yourself in a little bit of that?

MR. BUCHANAN: I involved myself in a little bit. There's also one you missed, John. Alabama is going to have -- has on the ballot a referendum on whether to outlaw Sharia law in the state of Alabama. I predict it will pass.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is a form of direct democracy. Do you understand?

MS. CLIFT: Right. And it is -- it's voters taking matters into their own hands. But there are also powerful special interests behind a lot of these movements. And you talked about those two gun laws. The one gun law where people want background checks on all guns strikes me as pretty grassroots. The other one that came in is funded by the NRA to counter the earlier one. And so you've got to look at where the money is coming from for most of these things.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MS. CLIFT: The personhood amendment in Colorado is funded by the right. And that's going to hurt the Republican candidate there, because personhood goes too far. And it's been defeated in a number of states in the past.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, initiatives and referenda -- why is there no provision in the United States Constitution for both?

MR. ROGAN: I don't know. I don't know why the founders --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you familiar with the Constitution?

MR. ROGAN: I'm familiar with the Constitution, but I --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know how it was written or what the circumstances were?

MR. ROGAN: I do. I do. But I --

MR. BUCHANAN: He's a Brit. He knows that. Look --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, he's not a Brit. He's a U.S. citizen.

MR. BUCHANAN: They lost the war. Look, John, but you're talking about a federal initiative. Teddy Roosevelt at one point recommended that; you know, go national initiative, referendum, a vote nationwide on laws and ideas like that. And it might not be a bad idea.

MS. CLIFT: I think we'd get background checks on guns. That's for sure.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But the moral of it is -- and there's a lot of huffing and puffing on this set on this issue, and I'm just trying to say that there was enough recognition on the part of the Founding Fathers to realize that we can't give all of this power to one source, and they wanted to have states have some authority. Do you like that idea?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Sure, I like the idea of having the states having some authority. I am not comfortable with these kinds of popular balloting that determines the outcomes of a lot of particular public issues.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why is that?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Because, amongst other things, they're susceptible, A, to a lot of money; B, to special-interest groups who can get out those people who feel the most strongly about it. A lot of people stay away from this kind of voting. And you have to, at some point -- this is where the British system, in my judgment, works so much better -- you have people who are somewhat, shall we say, seriously involved and knowledgeable about the issues and the consequences of the issues will have a chance to really think about it and debate it and come up to a conclusion. This kind of populism, in my judgment --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- is very dangerous.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think we could be -- conceive of this as feeding a constitutional engine so that one of these ballots or referenda, good one, a good one, could make it into the Constitution?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, see, this is -- well, you'd have to have a constitutional convention for (a decision ?).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (That's right ?).

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah. But I think -- yeah, I disagree 100 percent with Mort. We've got different states, different -- especially the more diverse we become, I think the idea that Texas can do one thing on taxes and California can do another thing, I think, is terrific.

MS. CLIFT: But you've also got some momentum building towards what will eventually be federal initiatives; i.e., marijuana. I mean, that is now being considered in a couple of states. It's in place in a couple of states. There are going to -- it's going to be on more state ballots in 2016 when more young people are out there voting. And I think this reflects the sentiment of the country. I know you think we shouldn't have it, John, right?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's in place in the District of Columbia.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By the way, (there's notice ?) that guns -- hidden guns on your person, I believe -- didn't the District vote --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Didn't the District vote --

MR. ROGAN: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now they're OK in Washington, D.C.

MR. BUCHANAN: The courts have been OKing a lot of the gun stuff in Washington, D.C., not the city council.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, the city council is -- (inaudible).

MR. BUCHANAN: Conceal carry? You've got to move to Virginia for that, John.

MS. CLIFT: No, no.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't think so.

MS. CLIFT: The council just did it, Pat.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It just happened, Pat. Stay up with the D.C. news, Pat. Stay with the D.C. news.

MR. BUCHANAN: Maybe I'll move back. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: You don't have to leave the gun at home -- (inaudible).

MR. ROGAN: The broader issue here, though --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Go ahead.

MR. ROGAN: The broader issue is not whether the founders made a mistake or whatever. I think the broader issue is that the American people, you know, whether it's populist or good, you know, Mort and Pat having the disagreement there.

Ultimately the American people -- and what we were talking about in the previous segment about trusting Congress -- we need to take more ownership of our democracy. And it's attention to detail that's needed here, because, you know, this is a democracy. And people sometimes -- (inaudible).

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible) -- breaks up the constipation in this city if people can act at the state level on their own on issue after issue after issue on which they disagree. And the laws are legitimate. If people don't like them, they can move out of the state.

(Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: Can you tell Congress --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're talking about the Congress.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Congress -- the whole government here. And everybody believes it's gridlock.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, not the D.C. government.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not the D.C. government; hidden guns and marijuana.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, they've got a lot of things going on.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not marijuana yet?

MS. CLIFT: No, but the D.C. --

MR. BUCHANAN: No.

MS. CLIFT: -- is under the thumb of the Congress. And taxation without representation -- it's on my license plate. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but it's not showing. It's not showing that much that the D.C. government is regulated in any real sense by the Congress.

MS. CLIFT: No, it's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: As a D.C. resident, I can assure you of that.

Exit question: Should there be a citizen referendum process to pass federal legislation? Yes or no?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think there should, but I think it'd take a constitutional amendment to do it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Yes, I think there should be some way to do that. But it's probably not constitutional at the moment.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tom Rogan.

MR. ROGAN: I think the voters should have a constitutional amendment if that's what you want to do. I would support that. I think take ownership of Congress. Get more involved in the primary process. Get people out. See how many people, just incumbents, get reelected. If they do a bad job, engage. Don't whine about it. Take ownership.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of what he's saying?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I agree with that. But I, frankly, am totally opposed to that kind of a method of legislating. You have to have a serious amount of knowledge about a lot of these issues. You can't expect 300 million people to really immerse themselves in it. I think it's very dangerous in terms of what kind of -

MR. BUCHANAN: That's really -- but people can elect the president.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, they can. It's the easiest thing to do. You do that once every four years. We're not talking about the kind of repeated referenda that you would -

(Cross talk.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It would paralyze our political system.

MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible) --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, no, Eleanor. No --

MS. CLIFT: -- background checks for guns.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, Eleanor -- yes, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Mort wins ?).

Issue Three: Health Care Failing Grade.

Listen closely. Of the world's rich industrialized nations, 11 of them, the U.S. health care system ranks last. Not only does the U.S. underperform on health care; it has the most expensive health care system.

Americans are getting little bang for their big bucks. Those are the findings from the Commonwealth Fund, a private health care research think tank, which examined the health care systems of the following countries and ranked them thus: Number one -- meaning the best -- the United Kingdom; two, Switzerland; three, Sweden; four, Australia; five, a tie -- Germany and the Netherlands; seven, a tie -- New Zealand and Norway; nine, France; 10, Canada; 11, dead last, the United States.

Here's some data. The U.S. average per capital 2011 expenditure on health care was $8,508. Compare that to the U.K., the nation with the number one health care system -- $3,405 per Brit, which is $5,103 less than the U.S. And despite that $8,508 spent per American citizen, the U.S. ranks last in efficiency, equity, meaning access to care, and the overall health of its population.

Quote: "People in the U.S. go without needed health care because of cost more often than people do in other countries. Americans with below-average incomes are not visiting a physician when sick, not getting a recommended test or treatment, or follow-up care, or not filling a prescription or skipping doses when needed because of cost," unquote.

These deficiencies lead to the U.S. ranking last on, quote, "infant mortality" and second to last on "healthy life expectancy at age 60," unquote. And for those who do get care, the cost is high in part because of, quote, administrative hassles, avoidable emergency room use, and duplicative medical testing," unquote.

What's the most noteworthy difference between the U.S.'s health care system and its better-ranked peers? Answer: The absence of universal health insurance coverage. So says the report.

The data studied in the report is from before the Affordable Care Act -- i.e., "Obamacare" -- is fully installed. So will "Obamacare" improve the U.S.'s standing when it is fully enforced?

Question: Where does the U.S. rank tops in the Commonwealth Fund study? Do you know, Mort?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The U.S. ranks in terms of high-quality medical care and research that goes into that kind of high-quality medical care. I think we are unparalleled in that one small area.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Access to preventive care; you mentioned that, access.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, there is access, I suppose. But the access in the British system or in the Canadian system, where I grew up, is totally different and totally superior.

MR. BUCHANAN: Talk about the population. You know, it used to be that not a single state in the United States had more than 15 percent of its people obese. And now there's not a single state in the United States that doesn't have an obesity record above 15 percent.

Among America's poor and disadvantaged, you've got gun crimes. You've got violence. You've got automobile accidents. You've got obesity; all of these things. And look at the size of the country, the United States -- 320 million Americans. There are almost as many people in that survey, John -- the Americans are equal to the entire other 10 countries combined.

MS. CLIFT: Well, I don't know what the point of all that is. But to say that Americans have not had sufficient access to quality health care -- many Americans do not have sufficient access to affordable, nutritional food. There are a lot of things wrong in this country. It works great for the people in the top 1 percent, top 2 percent, probably the top 10 percent. And the Affordable Care Act is evening out a lot of this. It's going to take time. People now can see doctors and they can get preventive care. Preventive care doesn't cost you anything. There are no co-payments for it.

MR. ROGAN: There are major issues if you look at the American Medical Association price-treatment points, the lack of competition, barriers to entry for foreign doctors, duplicate medical expenses, a lack of competition between different hospitals. The system is not working as it should.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Putin will use his oil and gas leverage to squeeze Ukraine this fall.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: He'll try, but the West will hang tough.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tom.

MR. ROGAN: He'll do it, and I think he'll get concessions from doing it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: He'll do it and get a lot of concessions.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bye-bye. Out of time.

(END)