Sunday, September 12, 2004

Updated September 12 at 11:30 pm.

On Monday night, September 13, the City of Chicago edition of “Public Affairs,” features 10th Congressional Dist. Democratic Candidate, Lee Goodman (D-Northbrook). The program airs in its regular time slot, Monday night, 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21 [CANTV] throughout the city of Chicago. Goodman debates and discusses with show host Jeff Berkowitz various domestic and foreign policy shows, including abortion, same sex marriage, prescription drug benefits, health care, gun control, education, Israel’s wall, tax cuts, the Economy and the War in Iraq. Goodman’s opponent in the race is four year incumbent, Cong. Mark Kirk (R- Deerfield).
Jeff Berkowitz: You want to take that program that is Medicare and extend it to the entire population in the United States?

Lee Goodman: Correct, right.

Berkowitz: So, that means that you would favor a single payer, Hillary Clinton style health care system.

Goodman: No, that is two entirely different things. Hillary Clinton was looking at an adjustment of the private health care system as we have it. I am saying you take Medicare, which is doing a very good job, not perfect, but a very good job of covering seniors, and you just open up the age limits. You still allow people to choose their own physicians, their own pharmacy; you just say that it is not going to have to run through the failed private insurance program. The Medicare program is much more efficient-

Berkowitz: Doesn’t government become the single payer, though? So, you would agree it is a single payer program, you just didn’t--

Goodman: But, you want to be careful about the words.

Berkowitz: You just didn’t like the adjective- Hillary Clinton style health care?

Goodman: And, when you say single payer, people think that means one thing. I am saying Medicare for everyone.

Berkowitz: But, it is a single payer, isn’t it?

Goodman: We can sit here all day. You call it single payer. I say it is Medicare. What it is talking about is a funding mechanism—

Berkowitz: Who pays for the entire thing?

Goodman: The government funding mechanism through Medicare-

Berkowitz: The government is the only payer, right?

Goodman: Okay.

Berkowitz: They are a single payer. I don’t know why you are quibbling with that word.

Goodman: We can do this— because I am not sure why you want me to say single payer.

Berkowitz: It is because it is a phrase that people use often. It is a term of art.

Goodman: Jeff, would it make you happy if I said single payer.

Berkowitz: If that’s what it is, I think you should say it.

Goodman: I want you to be happy.

Berkowitz: So, it is a single payer system that you—

Goodman: Go ahead.
Berkowitz: This is kind of the public school analogy…people can go to private schools now, but they give up a free education [if they do so]. You are saying under your model people could opt out and pay for health care [private insurance] separately or they could get it free from the government and I think you are suggesting why would anyone opt to a private system when they could get it free from the government?

Goodman: I think probably you would do better to look at it as a fire department analogy rather than private schools because I know you have trouble with the idea of public schools.

Berkowitz: Me, I am fair and balanced. I don’t have trouble with anything.

Goodman: Anyone right now could opt to pay for private fire protection, but since it is already provided by the government, no one does. And it would be the same way with medical care, I believe.

[Ed. Note. Goodman's reference to a fire department in his discussion of health care suggests an important distinction to make, one for which there was not time during the show. Health care and health care insurance are both more like education than a fire department. That is, in the jargon of economics, a fire department is more like a pure “public good,” than are either health care or education. A public good is a good for which an individual’s consumption of it does not take away from another’s consumption of it. The traditional example of a pure public good is a lighthouse. It doesn’t matter to any user whether one ship or fifty ships use the lighthouse; The number of ships using the lighthouse does not affect the ability of any one ship to use it. National defense is another “public good.” For example, your consumption of a missile shield in Chicago does not take away from my consumption of it in Cleveland. A fire department is also much closer to a public good than a private good. It may not matter whether a fire department covers one block or twenty. However, at some point, as you add geographic fire protection coverage or even population density to the same area, you will require more trucks, people, etc. The same may be true, but to a much lesser extent, with lighthouses and national defense. However, health care, insurance and education are surely not public goods, in the economics sense discussed above. User A, by attending a school, takes away from the ability of User B and User C to attend the school. So, education and health care are both more like an ice cream, a private good, than a lighthouse, a public good]

Berkowitz: One reason that I do say “single payer,” is important- a better way of putting it is single buyer…when we look at economics, it informs us about certain things… a monopoly, a single seller. Generally, this country frowns on monopolies. We have …the Sherman Antitrust Act, a whole body of law that tries to prevent monopolies—

Goodman: Let’s take a look at it.

Berkowitz: You are not in favor of monopolies, are you?
Berkowitz: …We don’t want people who are single sellers, a monopoly. We certainly have laws that try to prevent that.

Goodman: But, what you fail to recognize—

Berkowitz: So, there is an analogy to a single buyer. It is called a monopsony…It is also viewed as resulting in an inefficient allocation of resources. We don’t like monopsonies so much. They are also illegal. The Sherman [antitrust] Act applies to that [monopsony] as well. And, here you are suggesting that we [should] have a single buyer [a monopsony] in the form of the government.

Goodman: What I am suggesting is that we take a look at what is important. What is important is that people in this country don’t have access to health care and in virtually every other industrialized country they do and it is a disgrace that we are not guaranteeing people access to health care…
The transcripts, below, have been previously published on this blog.
Jeff Berkowitz: Are the people of Iraq better off now than they were before Saddam Hussein was overthrown?

Lee Goodman [D- Northbrook]: [A] very difficult question to answer. But, a more important question, or an equally important question is what kind of a position is the United States in right now as compared to before we started this war.

Berkowitz: You think the United States is less safe now?

Goodman: We are much less safe. We are in much worse shape.
Jeff Berkowitz: You don’t think there should be a law prohibiting same sex marriage?

Lee Goodman: Oh, my goodness, no.

Berkowitz: Currently, the law does, in many states, require a marriage to be between a man and a woman. Right? You would try to change that, so that the law would allow two men [or] two women, to marry. Right?

Goodman: Of course.
Berkowitz: Abortion, you are 1000% pro-choice. Now, Mark Kirk seems fairly pro-choice, too, and yet you have been critical of him on that issue. How do you differentiate Mark Kirk from yourself on the issue of abortion?

Goodman: When there was a vote in Congress [on a partial birth ban] he skipped the vote, he ducked it. Just like he is hiding from the debates. That’s where I criticize someone. If someone is in favor of a woman’s right to choose, he should be there to vote when there is a critical vote.
Berkowitz: You don’t have an opinion as a potential U. S. Congressman as to whether it was appropriate for Israel to build that fence [or wall].

Goodman: My opinion is that if we are going to help, we have to have a role there that will promote peace. And, simply my saying as a potential congressman-- or any other congressman saying Israel was right or Israel was wrong accomplishes nothing in terms of promoting peace.
Berkowitz: You were adamantly opposed to going into Iraq, right?

Goodman: Correct.

Berkowitz: In the fall of 2002, if you had been there [in Congress], you would have opposed…giving President Bush the authorization to take military action in Iraq?

Goodman: Correct.

Berkowitz: You would have voted differently from Senator John Kerry, now running for President. You would have voted differently form Senator John Edwards, now running for Vice- President. You differed from your Democratic colleagues on that issue, right?

Goodman: Yeah.

Berkowitz: And, right now, John Kerry says, if elected, he would not bring the troops out of Iraq. He would not withdraw. You agree with him on that?

Goodman: No, I don’t.

Berkowitz: So, you would withdraw immediately? Is that right?

Goodman: That is not what I said, either.

Berkowitz: Well, what would you do? If you don’t agree with him on that, tell us your view.

Goodman: What we need to do is to recognize that we went in under false premises, that our staying there at this point is accomplishing little or nothing and that the reconstruction and the things that have to be done in Iraq will not happen until we have made it clear to the world that we are getting out…We cannot run that country. It is not supposed to be a colony of the United States.
Lee Goodman, 10th Cong. Dist. Democratic Candidate, recorded on August 8, 2004, and as is being cablecast throughout the City of Chicago this Monday night, September 13, at 8:30 pm on Ch. 21
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of “Public Affairs,” can be reached at