NN LARRY KING LIVE
Interviews with Michael Moore and Ron Paul
Aired October 29, 2009 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, Michael Moore. What's he got against capitalism? The liberal filmmaker says it's evil, and that's not all.
MICHAEL MOORE, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER: I am here to make a citizen's arrest of the board of directors of AIG.
KING: He's had it with Republicans and he's threatening Democrats.
Playing politics with health care -- Congressman Ron Paul is here, and he's firing back.
Plus, President Obama as you've never seen him. Actor Edward Norton is here with his new documentary.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Senator McCain keeps on talking about me being risky.
KING: An unprecedented personal look at a man, his family, his rise to power, next on "LARRY KING LIVE."
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KING: Good evening, the Oscar winning filmmaker and bestselling author Michael Moore with us first. He's in Travers City, Michigan, and later his counterpart, or the other side of the coin, will be presented by Congressman Ron Paul.
His documentary, a runway hit, is "Capitalism, a Love Story" in theaters everywhere.
Concerning health care Michael, public option, is the big news today. The Democrats have unveiled sweeping legislation that includes a controversial public health option. Does that make you happy?
MOORE: Well, actually, the so-called public option that got announced today is the public option that about 90 percent of the American people will not be allowed to avail themselves of.
So I don't know how you can -- how they can really call this a real -- it's not the robust public option that the Speaker of the House promised us. But I realize the Democrats want one in the win column. So that's what they've decided to do.
And I think it's disappointing...
KING: Michael, it's going to cost $894 billion over ten years and apparently guarantees 96 percent of Americans coverage.
MOORE: Yes, it -- well, first of all, about 80 percent, 85 percent of Americans already have some form of coverage right now. What this does is it guarantees that the profit-making insurance companies are still going to be able to control our health care process. And that's the real story. That's what we should really be talking about.
The $800 billion that you spoke of, by the way, that's actually over those ten years going to be a savings, because if they do this right, if they -- if we have true universal health care and if it's done the right way, we'll actually save money, as President Obama says.
But, you know, I just feel bad that the Democrats felt like they had to cave on this and to compromise so early on when they didn't have to. I feel that, you know, we could have gotten so much more. The American people wanted more than this.
But, you know, this was the kind of can weak-kneed approach to claiming victory, I guess.
KING: Are you saying there is no a public option in this bill?
MOORE: No, no, there is a public option. But most Americans, the vast majority of Americans, will not be able to choose. In other words, the average person, the real good public option...
MOORE: ... because to allow any American to buy the same kind of insurance that Congress has. That was the original idea, to allow Americans to buy a federal health insurance plan that would be cheaper than the profit-making insurance companies.
Well, of course, most people would want to buy the cheaper insurance policy, get the same amount of care, that would obviously put a lot of the private insurance companies out of business and that's the one thing they wanted to make sure wouldn't happen. And so, therefore, the private insurance companies are protected tonight.
And some of the things that they're claiming victory over, like they won't be able to -- the private insurance companies now won't be able to stop you because you have a preexisting condition. Well, that's true. That's a very good part of this bill the Democrats are proposing.
But the fine for the insurance companies if they do deny you care is so low compared to how much savings they'll have if they just deny you as opposed to having to pay out $50,000 or $100,000 for an operation or cancer treatments or whatever.
So, look, there's still time for amendments to go onto this bill. There's still time for people to call their members of Congress and say, look, you promised a robust public option, one that all of us would have a chance to buy into. That's not what this bill is about.
KING: Your film "Sicko" is a scathing example of America's for profit health care system. Here's a former healthcare executive who says that it benefits the company to deny coverage to someone who is ill. What this from "Sicko."
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MOORE: Dr. Linda Pino, a former medical reviewer, at Humana.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Linda Pino. I'm here primarily today to make a public confession. In the spring of 1987, as a physician, I denied a man a necessary operation that would have saved his life and thus caused his death.
No person and no group has held me accountable for this because, in fact, what I did is I saved a company $500,000 for this.
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KING: Michael, before we move to "Capitalism," do you think we're very going to see the health care system you would like in this country?
MOORE: Absolutely. I think that day will come. We're the last of the western democracies that doesn't have true universal health care for everyone. So, obviously, that day will come.
But I think, Larry, the larger issue here isn't so much about which bill is going to pass right now, but rather, do we see our government as being there to serve the people or to serve the corporate interests?
And all we've seen, really, in the last year is that government is there to serve the corporate interests, to serve Wall Street, to serve the banks, to make sure that when they need help, they're taken care of.
But if an American, if the average person needs help, needs help because they got sick, needs help because their child needs an operation, where is government then?
We have to fight for so little when it comes to benefiting the people that I think we got to start talking about our government being there to serve us and not the corporate interests that pay for their elections, pay for the lobbyists that lobby them. They're the ones that get to have the same in this. The average person doesn't.
And it's just a -- we're never really going to see real change until we get money out of politics.
KING: Do you think capitalism has failed?
MOORE: I think capitalism as it's defined now has complete -- not only failed -- well, it hasn't really failed the rich. It's actually helped them. The wealthiest 1 percent now have more financial wealth than the bottom 95 percent combined. So it's a really good system for a few people.
But for most people...
KING: All right, let me get a break and we'll come back.
MOORE: Yes. OK.
KING: Let me get a break, and we'll be right back with Michael Moore, later, Ron Paul.
Want another take on health care? Go to CNN.com/LarryKing and click on "blog." Deepak Chopra has written some inspiring words. It won't cost a thing to read them. You don't need insurance. Check it out.
We'll take a closer look at "Capitalism" and what Michael hates so much about it, next.
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MOORE: Members of Congress, this is Michael Moore. I would like to read to you the USA Patriot Act.
I want the account where I can get the free gun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's whackos out there.
MOORE: Although most people in Flint were too poor to afford a Hyatt, the hotel allowed the public on opening day to come and ride the city's own escalator.
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KING: Michael Moore, are we happily -- are we out of the recession, do you think?
MOORE: I think as long as the unemployment continues to go up, as long as people continue to be thrown out of their homes, the foreclosure rates are still at an all-time high. Those are the real numbers we should be looking at.
I know there's a lot of people who are happy about the GDP going up -- I mean, that is good news. It's proof that the Obama stimulus plan was an excellent idea. We need more of that. It is working. That's very good.
But I'm sure he'll be the first to tell you that as long as we've got nearly 10 percent of the public officially out of work and probably closer to 15 percent, that is not something that any of us can celebrate.
So, no, I don't think that as far as how the recession affects the average person, that's -- we're not anywhere out of the woods yet.
KING: OK. You have not been a fan of our secretary of the Treasury. Let's take a clip from "Capitalism" and your portrayal of him. Watch.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Geithner has been a failure at pretty much everything he's done in life. Most of the institutions that destroyed the economy were under his direct regulatory authority.
MOORE: How did he get the job as treasury secretary?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By completely screwing up his job as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
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KING: Has your opinion of Mr. Geithner changed at all since that film?
MOORE: No, no, no, because not one single regulation has been put back on Wall Street since the crash over a year ago. Not one.
Congress has not passed one rule to reinstate any of the regulations they had back when Rubin and Summers, Geithner, the whole bunch of them were, you know, running the show almost ten years ago.
So they've done nothing to prevent the next crash from happening. Wall Street is already going crazy into new derivatives on life insurance and other crazy things that they're playing with the money and putting it at risk, taking new bets out on it. No.
This -- I'm just stunned that he and Congress have not done just the -- even the minimal thing they need to do, which is to put these regulations back in place.
KING: Geithner, he testified, Geithner, on Capitol Hill today. Here's what he had to say.
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GEITHNER: The rules in place today are inadequate and they are outdated. We've all seen what happens when in a crisis the government is left with inadequate tools to respond to contain the damage. That is a searing lesson of last fall.
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KING: He wants to wind down the big financial firms before they collapse. I'm sure -- don't you agree with that?
MOORE: Yes, I hope so. I hope that's what he does.
He keeps saying that it's too big to fail. Well, if it's too big to fail, it's too big to exist. He should not allow anything to -- and yet, the former head of AIG is now forming AIG II. So I don't see -- I mean, there's a lot of good talk, but there's very little action.
KING: Michael Moore's our guest. He's the Oscar-winning filmmaker, bestselling author. His documentary, "Capitalism: a Love Story" is doing well in theaters everywhere, and he's just getting warmed up.
And Ron Paul is going to join later and we'll be back in 60 seconds.
KING: We're back with Michael Moore. His latest film "Capitalism: a Love Story" is in theaters now.
One might be one of the funniest or saddest scenes in the film is what you're about to see, when Michael tries to get our money back. Watch.
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MOORE: We're here to get the money back for the American people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand, sir, but you cannot come in there.
MOORE: Can you just take the bag, take it in there, fill it up? I've got more bags. $10 billion probably won't fit in here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely not.
MOORE: We want our money back! We went to all the banks. Have you seen this guy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
MOORE: OK. We're here to make a citizen's arrest, actually.
Just drop it from the windows.
Everywhere I went -- I'm going to take it back to the U.S. treasury, right in this car. It's safe. You can trust me.
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KING: More with Moore, after the break.
MOORE: Congressman? Congressman? Michael Moore.
Governor Bush, it's Michael Moore.
GEORGE BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Go find real work.
MOORE: Hello, I have one question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Meeting adjourned.
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KING: Let's touch another base here Michael, while we have you. Let's talk about Afghanistan. You were very critical in "Fahrenheit 911" over Bush and Iraq. Are you equally critical over Obama and Afghanistan?
MOORE: I think it's critical he's in the process of making his decision. I think it's impressive that he's a thoughtful man. It's great to have a smart person in the White House who really thinks about the cost of human life before making a big decision like this.
It is my sincere hope that he decides to wind down and end this war, at least our part of this war, in Afghanistan. Initially, the idea of going and trying to capture the criminals who committed a mass murder on 9/11, that was a good idea. But we never did that.
And I hope he still has something that does that, but I don't know if that's in Afghanistan, where there's now less than 100 Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and we've got 100,000 coalition troops and another 200,000 afghan troops. I mean, this is not -- we need to leave. This is not our business.
And yesterday, Larry, that story in "The New York Times" about how the brother of the president of Afghanistan, the brother of Karzai, is suspected of being involved in the opium trade, which funds the Taliban, and our CIA pays this man. So we're paying the guy who's helping to create the money that's funding the Taliban that's killing our soldiers.
Are we, like, an insane country? When is this going to stop? I want this ended. I want these troops home.
KING: Didn't he kind of run on a campaign to bring troops home from just about everywhere and that he has kind of been accused of dawdling?
MOORE: No, he's not -- he's not dawdling. First of all, when he campaigned, he said it was going to take about a year and a half to wind down Iraq. OK. We're in the middle of that year and a half. That's what he's doing.
With Afghanistan, this is no longer the police action to find the criminals who committed that crime. This is now expanded into something else, into building a nation, into fighting the Taliban.
The Taliban are -- they're -- the people of Afghanistan. The people of Afghanistan have to settle that problem. That's not our problem to solve. And if President Obama decides to sends more troops, then it becomes Obama's war. It's not Bush's war anymore. It will be Obama's war.
And I'll tell you, I get this feeling from some of his people that he's going to try to hit the middle ground, like he's not going to send a whole bunch of troops, but he's going to send a few troops.
And any Vietnam vet that's watching this right now, they know the sound of that. "Well, we don't want to commit all the way, but we're going to commit a little bit. You know, kind of. You know?"
I mean, that is like -- that is the absolute thing, the worst thing for our troops. We're going to see more deaths, more coffins coming home. This has got to stop.
It's -- there is no middle ground. You're either going to go all out and fight a big war that can't be won, or you're going to bring the troops home and focus on the problems that we have right now -- huge unemployment, global warming, a health care mess, all these things, our educational system, everything.
KING: But then if you leave -- but if you leave, you then leave the Taliban to run the show, right, and a possible another 9/11?
MOORE: They are already running half the show there anyways. And not another possible 9/11, because Al Qaeda has left there. They booked out of the neighborhood, Larry. They're long gone, OK? They're in Pakistan, they're in parts of Africa, they're elsewhere in the Middle East. You know, they're here in the U.S.
They're a really Internet operation now, as Matthew Hull, this State Department individual who resigned last month over the Afghanistan policy -- you should go online and read his letter of resignation. You'll see he explains it very clearly that if we want to deal with Al Qaeda, the last place we need to be right now is in Afghanistan.
That's just a crazy, crazy-making place. It's unwinnable. It's immoral. It's illegal. It's wrong.
And what is our CIA doing paying the brother of the president of Afghanistan, who's involved in this opium trade that's funding the Taliban? I mean, where -- when does this stop?
KING: What do you mean -- he attended the transfer of bodies at Dover Air Force Base today, of 15 U.S. soldiers were killed in Afghanistan, powerful media images. President Bush did not, he focused away from that. What did you think of that?
MOORE: I thought that was -- I thought that was a very moving, sad, profound moment.
I am so glad we have that man in the White House. Even though I may have whatever disagreements I may have or I wish things were moving faster or whatever, to see that there today, Larry, to show that kind of concern that we never saw in the last eight years, thousands of our young boys and girls gone, dead, returning home, no pictures, no pictures allowed.
And then for him to stand there today proudly as the commander in chief, and to be there for them and for their families, I know this is weighing on him. And I'm going to trust in all my heart that he's going to make the right decision, that he doesn't want this to be called "Obama's war." This cannot be his Vietnam. I don't believe he's going to let that happen.
KING: Thanks, Michael, as always. Michael Moore, his film "Capitalism: a Love Story" out in theaters everywhere.
Congressman Ron Paul has a thing or two or three to say about what we've just heard, and he's here, next.
KING: Joining uh us now is Representative Ron Paul, a Republican of Texas. He ran for president this last election. He's here to react to what we just heard.
Concerning healthcare, Mr. Moore believes that universal health care is everyone's right, threatens that the Democrats will lose seats if they don't support it. What's your stand on this, congressman?
REP. RON PAUL, (R) TEXAS: Well, I think it's a fallacy to say that someone has a right to somebody else's services. You have a right to your life and you have a right to your liberty and you have a right to earn a living. You ought to have a right to keep it. But you have a responsibility to take care of yourself.
But you don't have a right to get something from government, because government has nothing, so government has to take it from somebody and give it to you. So it's a failed policy. It is, you know, a form of socialism, and socialism doesn't work. It leads to a big kind of...
KING: So if you have -- Congressman, if you have no money and you fall down on the street with a heart attack, you have no money, no one should take care of you? The government should not provide an ambulance or treat you?
PAUL: No. But we don't have a history in this country of this happening, even before government started managing health care. I practiced medicine in both circumstances in the early '60s. We didn't have managed care, and I worked in a Catholic hospital.
I made three dollars an hour and nobody was ever turned away and there were many, many church hospitals and you had Shriner hospitals and a lot of free care was given.
Today, even with managed care, they complain about, oh, somebody doesn't have health insurance and somebody's going to die because they don't have health insurance. But, really, people don't get turned away.
I mean, accidents happen. Man's imperfect. For the most part, anybody, including anybody illegal, can go to the emergency room and they always get taken care of. They just don't get thrown out in the street. KING: Are you saying you like the current system?
PAUL: No. I probably dislike it as much as Michael Moore does. But he's complaining about it being part of capitalism. It has nothing to do with capitalism. This is corporatism. The corporations -- I agree with him, corporations run things.
The drug companies' lobbyists, the insurance companies' lobbyists, the hospital manager companies' lobbyists, the AMA lobbyists, and that's all managed care and we have a system where money and bigness influences the government. But that's corporatism. That's not capitalism. What we want are free markets.
KING: OK. How do you change that?
PAUL: Allow free markets to work. There's an example of free markets, and I might have even heard it on CNN today, of the example of somebody that was going to be charge 100,000 dollars for surgery, and they went to Singapore and got it for 25,000 dollars. And the main reason they gave what they could afford to do it was that they didn't have horrendous malpractice payments to make, and there was a market. There was a market.
So the patients are leaving this country. They're going to India. But that's the market working. So we have put our charity hospitals out of business. At the same time, because of inflation and management and all the mischief of government, we have pushed these prices up.
Pumping money into a system doesn't improve quality. It increases prices. Look at our educational system. We pump in money, prices go up, the quality of education goes up. The quality of medicine has not gone up by just pumping more money in.
KING: Lyndon Johnson once said, the probable answer is that a government's going to have to be half capitalistic and half socialist. You have to have some. Social Security is socialism. You have to take care of those who don't have. Pure capitalism can't work. Would you agree with that?
PAUL: No, not really. It's sort of like I practice OB/GYN, I never tell my patients they had a touch of pregnancy. You're either pregnant or you're not. You either have government intervention messing up the markets or you don't. You either believe in freedom and believe in voluntary choice.
Just look at this disaster with the Swine Flu vaccine. They took over the whole project. We pump in billions of dollars. And they come up with shortages. The distribution is lousy. And they're talking about forcing people to take them in places like New York. And who -- nobody's even proved that it's necessary yet. We have still a lot of deaths from ordinary flu far surpassing Swine Flu. So central economic planning in anything fails, and especially in medicine it fails.
KING: But, Congressman, everyone online getting it, who's getting it free, is not standing there complaining about government involvement?
PAUL: Yes, but I have a daughter who practices medicine. And I was just talking to her about it. And she says, oh, yes, dad, I can give shots, and it's for free, but we don't have anything. When something is free, you don't have it. It's irrelevant. And some of the people who don't want it are being forced to take it.
We have lost our faith and confidence in understanding how free markets work. We turned it upside down by saying, anytime corporations get benefits, we call it capitalism and freedom. And it's corporatism. It's the military industrial complex. It's all the special interests.
And this is where Michael Moore get it all wrong. He works -- he believes diligently in free markets, because he believes in the First Amendment. He believes in making films. He doesn't believe in prior restraints. So why should he condemn capitalism, because he calls -- he's condemning corporatism. I condemn it too. Special privileges for corporation is the problem.
KING: Maybe it's semantic. More with Congressman Paul right after the break. Don't go away.
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MOORE: I think capitalism, as it's defined now, has complete -- not only failed. Well, it hasn't actually failed the rich. It's actually helped them. The wealthiest one percent now have more financial wealth than the bottom 95 percent combined. So it's a really good system for a few people.
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KING: All right, Ron, do you disagree with that statistic that Michael Moore just pointed out?
PAUL: No. And I complain about it as much as he does. But I think I understand it differently. Because when a country embarks on deficit financing and inflationism, you wipe out the middle class and wealth is transferred from the middle class and the poor to the rich. And when we get into trouble, then the corporations, once again, they come for their bailout and they get the benefits and the little people don't.
Yes, there is some truth to that. It's the failure of the free market to exist. That is our problem. It isn't the fact that we don't have enough government. We have way too much government. The government created this monster. If he doesn't like what we have, he has to look at what we've been doing for 30 or 40 years. It's called interventionism. It's called Keynesianism. It's called inflationism. It's called big government. That's the problem.
KING: Here's what Michael Moore said about Afghanistan. I'll ask Congressman Paul what he thinks about the war there. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOORE: Al Qaeda has left there. They booked out of the neighborhood, Larry. They're long gone. They're in Pakistan. They're in parts of Africa. They're elsewhere in the Middle East. You know, they're here in the U.S. I mean, they're a real Internet operation now, as Matthew Hall, this State Department individual who resigned last month over the Afghanistan policy -- you should go online and read his letter of resignation. You'll see, he explains it very clearly, that if we want to deal with al Qaeda, the last place we need to be right now is in Afghanistan.
That's just a crazy, crazy-making place. It's unwinnable. It's immoral. It's illegal. It's wrong. And what is our CIA doing paying the brother of the president of Afghanistan, who's involved in this opium trade that's funding the Taliban? I mean, where -- when does this stop?
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KING: Congressman, you're a strong critic of Iraq. Are you a critic of the Afghanistan policy as well?
PAUL: Yes, I sure am. My position is we shouldn't have gone in and we should just come home. But earlier on, Michael was saying that he was hopeful and sympathetic to what Obama was doing. I don't think he's quite willing to criticize Obama like Bush, but I am.
And yes, there have been a token effort of bringing some troops home from Iraq. Iraq is a mess. But at the same time, we're sending in contractors to replace the troops, paying them a lot more money, subsidizing the military industrial complex. And Obama ought to be condemned for that.
You can't just pick out -- so any time you support Obama in any of those policies -- they're bombing Pakistan right now, killing civilians. And we're on the vernal now of attacking, or at least putting on more sanctions on Iran, which will lead to hostilities if we're not careful, because we're talking about the Iranians just like we used to talk about the Iraqis, putting on tougher and tougher sanctions, making the people suffer, hoping the people are going to overthrow their leaders, not realizing the tougher the sanctions you put on the people, the more you drive them into supporting their leaders.
KING: So you would get out of Afghanistan and Iraq post haste?
PAUL: I would. My saying during the campaign is we just marched in, we can just march home. Nothing good can come of it. It's an undeclared war. It's an immoral war. We don't have any money. The longer we're there, the worse it's going to get. We just need to come home. We can't nation build.
And besides, I will win this argument because we are bankrupt and we can't afford it. It's going to end badly if we don't come to our senses and just say, let's quit this militarism around the world. We're in 130 countries and 700 bases around the world. And we cannot sustain these. And it is -- it's pumped up by both the left and the right in the Congress. Oh, we can't do away with this weapon. It will be bad for jobs. There's conservative Keynesianism and liberal Keynesianism. Always government management, which always fails and gives us the financial crisis that we're in.
KING: The always thoughtful Congressman Ron Paul of Texas. Thanks, Ron. Always good having with you.