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Good evening, I'm Robert MacNeil in New York. And I'm Jim Lehrer in Washington. After our summary of the news this Wednesday, we look at the rhetoric of the Medicare debate and at the winners of the Nobel Prizes for Chemistry and Physics, Betty Ann Bowser reports on tough child support laws in Texas and David Gergen engages James Baker. - Major funding for the MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour has been provided by the Archer Daniels Midlands company, ADM, supermarket to the world. And by New York Life, yet another example of the wise investment philosophy New York Life has been following for the last 150 years, and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and by the annual financial support from viewers like you. - The United Nations announced that a Bosnian ceasefire was set to go into effect at midnight local time tonight. The 60-day truce had been scheduled for midnight Monday, but was twice delayed when preconditions were not met.
Meanwhile, fighting between the warring parties intensified throughout the day as they fought for territorial advantage. We have more in this report from Nik Gowing of Independent Television News. - The Bosnian government had signed the ceasefire earlier in the day. The agreement from the Bosnian Serbs was awaited. It came finally at dusk. The Serb yes had come well after the Bosnian government's four o'clock deadline. All military forces in all parts of Bosnia now had to be told before midnight to prevent any instant violations because of ignorance of the ceasefire decision by the political leaders of all warring factions to cease hostilities. All day throughout Sarajevo, power engineers continued their struggle to make sure all conditions are in place, and the utilities connected to ensure all demands for the US-brokered ceasefire are met. After well over 11,000 deaths in this city alone, a new normality of sorts has returned, electricity and gas providing the basic comforts missing for so long. It has remained that today's political maneuvering from all sides has been a smokescreen.
It masks determined military efforts to seize new territory or seize back territory taken by military advances in recent weeks. NATO ambassadors meeting in Brussels today approved a plan for a peace force in Bosnia. The plan calls for deploying up to 50,000 troops in that country. NATO planners have stipulated that a peace agreement must be signed before any peace troops are sent to Bosnia. - Jim? - The FBI continued its investigation today of the wreck of Amtrak's Sunset Limited. One crew member was killed, 78 passengers were injured early Tuesday when the train derailed in the Arizona desert. Agents assigned to Operation Split Rail are taking calls to a toll-free hotline and pursuing other leads. Betty Ann Bowser reports from the crash site. - For the first time, the FBI, the National Transportation Safety Board, and the Southern Pacific Railroad allowed reporters and television cameras to return to the scene of Monday Morning's Amtrak derailment.
It's one of the most desolate, isolated stretches of desert in Arizona, where temperatures today topped 100 degrees. Huge industrial cranes lifted the first of the overturned cars back onto the tracks, as FBI investigators began scouring underneath looking for clues. But so far, FBI spokesmen say it could be weeks before they know who is responsible for the death of one Amtrak employee and the injury of 78 other people. - Numerous investigative leads have been developed and we are encouraged by the progress being made. The FBI is greatly appreciative of the cooperation and support received from the public. All leads received are being immediately assigned and combined with information already under investigation that's been developed. Questions? - Have you been able to narrow down your search for whether it's a militia group, a disgruntled employee, anything, any suspects? We're not at this point able to narrow it down in terms of suspects or if it involved the militia or any other type of organization.
- FBI spokesmen said the agency has expanded its investigation of the crime scene to the mountainous areas nearby, looking for tool marks, shoe marks and drop tools. They are also making plaster casts of all tire marks within a one and a half to two-mile area of the derailment. And now as they move the cars back onto the tracks, FBI spokesmen said they will look for evidence inside of the cars themselves. - President Clinton today took aim at Republican lawmakers trying to cut U.S. foreign aid. He did so on a speech to the annual meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington. Republicans in Congress have proposed cutting by half the $1.4 billion U.S. contribution to the International Development Association or IDA. The World Bank program lends money to developing countries. - The IDA is essential. Its loans provide a crucial tool for nations that seek to escape from poverty to sustained growth.
I want to say clearly that those who are determined to make reckless cuts in the funding of the United States for IDA should look at the facts. Today's despair means tomorrow's conflict. Resolving the funding for dealing with today's despair will save the world and the United States a lot of money and perhaps even precious lives in the future. - Republicans counter that cuts in World Bank loans and other foreign aid are essential to achieve a balanced U.S. budget by the year 2002. - There was more Medicare action on Capitol Hill today. The House Ways and Means Committee voted approval of the Republican Reform Plan and 15 senior citizen protesters were arrested at another House hearing on Medicare. Americans said the demonstration was staged by Democrats, Democrats denied that. They criticized concessions House Republicans made to win support from the American Medical
Association. The AMA endorsed Republican cuts in Medicare at a news conference with House Speaker Gingrich last night. Gingrich promised doctors' fees would not be reduced. We'll have more on the Medicare Reform story later in the program. - Israel today handed over three civil administration offices in the West Bank to the Palestinian National Authority. Thousands of Palestinians celebrated the exchange. It was part of the Israeli/PLO Accord signed last month extending Palestinian autonomy in the West Bank. The Civil Administration oversaw Israel's 28-year rule of the occupied territory. Hurricane Roxanne lost some of its punch today as it swept across Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. The storm roared through the resort island of Cozumel and surrounding beaches late Tuesday with winds over 110 miles an hour. Officials said they don't know the extent of the damage because phone and radio communications were knocked out. The storm then moved northwest to Cancun.
No major damage was reported there. - Americans won more Nobel Prizes today. Two were among the three winners of the chemistry prize for their research on the thinning of the Earth's protective ozone layer. Mario Molina teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. F. Sherwood Rowland is at the University of California at Irvine. The Physics winners were Martin Perl and Frederick Reines for discovering two fundamental subatomic particles, Perl teaches at Stanford University, Reines at the University of California at Irvine. We'll have more on their accomplishments later in the program along with the Medicare rhetoric, deadbeat dads, and a Gergan dialogue. - First tonight the reality and rhetoric of Medicare reform. The reality is that House Republicans continued this week to push their reform plan through Congress.
Kwame Holman has that part of the story. - All along Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee knew they had the votes to pass any bill they chose. That fact settled in on outnumbered Democrats early in the legislative process and the partisan attacks that have colored the Medicare debate for weeks quickly resumed. - What is the hurry, who is pushing us to do all this? - Will the gentleman yield? The happy deal. - I would refer the gentleman to the trustees' report page three. - I won't deal for that, I've read that, and I've read that. - Well it says in here "prompt effective and decisive action." - Mr. Nussle, I have the floor and I will not yield to you for a filibuster. - You were asking a question. - Put it on it. I've read the trustees report. In fact, I've read all 28 of them, Mr. Nussle. - You may not want to hear it, but it says "prompt effective and decisive action." Mr. Nussle, I have not yielded to you anymore. If you want some time, you get it. - Unable to make any changes in the Republican plan, Democrats offered a plan of their own.
- Privileged, Mr. Chairman, because of my seniority on the committee and the Democratic side to offer a consensus, Democrat proposal as a substitute for your proposal, Mr. Chairman. - The hastily drawn and suddenly released plan drew fire from the Republicans. - Do we have the legislative language so we can follow as Mr. Abernathy is supposed to? - Yes, yes. It's very warm. It just came off the press. - It just came off the press. - And so we did not even have 24 hours notice. - We saved it I think about 15 minutes ago. We had a week to receive the other and we have no minutes to look at this. - Democrat Pete Stark asked his staff to describe how their alternative bill was written. - You work for the minority of the Ways and Means Committee. Do you not, Mr. Abernathy? - Yes, sir. - And do you have any staff who received six figure payments on behalf of large insurance companies in the past year or so? - I have no one but me, all right? - The questions included a backhanded slap at last night's sudden endorsement of the Republican
plan by the American Medical Association. - Were you instructed to accommodate the AMA and their desires? - They're not talking to me these days, all right? The Democrats were given an hour to try to convince Republicans to support their alternative, but California's Bill Thomas made it clear he wasn't about to. The Republicans have said is that this is a problem that the entire society shares. That the beneficiaries have to share in the solution, taxpayers have to share in the solution, and the providers have to share in the solution. We have $50 billion coming from the affluent and the seniors holding them steady on the premium. The Democrats pander to them and say we can reduce it. Probably the thing that outrages me most is to say on the one hand it's this way, don't rely on us to be consistent in comparing it on the other hand. We're going to play the same old smoke and mirrors to tell you, we got a better plan than you do. It is outrageous. - The Democratic alternative went down to defeat on a straight party line vote, and in
the end the Republican plan passed in the same way. The Medicare reform plan goes to a full House vote next week. - And now the rhetoric: the congressional debate has been loud, angry, and full of contradictory rhetoric. Elizabeth Farnsworth picks up that part of the story. - The charges and countercharges flying in the Medicare debate make it difficult to sort out just what will change and how, if the Republican reforms pass. To get behind the rhetoric, we're joined by Susan Dentzer, chief economics correspondent of U.S. News and World Report. Welcome Susan. Let's start by looking at two statements from a story that we aired last week when representatives went home to talk to constituents about Medicare. - You can choose to stay in the current Medicare program. And at the same premiums you're paying now. Now in the last few years, every year, the premium goes up a little bit. That will be true under the new program if you stay in Medicare. The premiums will go up a little bit, no more than the past.
So there is truly nothing to fear. You can stay in the current program. The premiums will grow only the same way they've been growing. Now why can I do that? Why can I guarantee you that? I can guarantee you no change. How can I do that and still save money? I'll tell you why. Because the new programs that come on the market, that you're going to have the right to choose are going to offer you better benefits. And anyone, for instance, who has high drug costs is going to look at those programs. Now if you look at that program and you decide to join, a managed care plan that offers drug benefits and you don't like it, you can get out. You can get out absolutely the first 90 days and every year you can make a new choice. And you can always choose Medicare fee for service again. - We've calculated that for you to maintain the same benefits by the year 2002, that's when the plan's fully implemented, it's going to cost you $1,000 a year more for Medicare.
Now, maybe you can afford another $1,000 a year. Is that okay, another $1,000 a year? So if you're going to stay in Medicare, you've got to pay the full cost to the co-payments and deductibles. The seniors with low income can't afford that. They're forced into HMO type plans where they can't choose their own doctor and hospital. That's what they want you to do. They don't want you to be able to keep your own doctor. They want you to go into these HMO plans. It's one thing if you choose to go into an HMO plan. You like the network, that's fine. But how many of you like the idea of choosing your own doctor? How many of you are willing to give that up? I don't see many takers. - Okay, let's start with the question of premiums. Representative Johnson says a Medicare beneficiary will have a minimal rise in premiums, nothing any greater than is currently happening. And Ben Cardin says that within seven years, Medicare beneficiaries will be paying $1,000 a year more.
That's a lot of money. Who's right? - Well, as usual, Elizabeth and Washington, there are elements of truth in what both people say and also some elements that are very misleading. In effect, premiums would go up under the Republican plan about $7 to $10 a year on average, which is about the rate that they have been going up recently. However, it's also true that the Republicans would change current law so that people are going to pay more in Medicare premiums than they are currently projected to pay if we kept the law in place because the formula changes next year and in fact the payments would be less than they would be otherwise. So as I say, she's a little bit right, she's a little bit wrong. And to put this in a broader context, the American Association of Retired Persons has now worked up some numbers about what beneficiaries will have to pay. And they've concluded that under the House Plan, over this seven-year period until the year 2002, beneficiaries would pay about $1,700 more under the House Plan, under the Senate Plan about $1,950 more.
That is to say, under the House Plan, on average, over the seven years, about $240 to $250 a year more, than they would be under current law if we just left the program alone. And under the Senate Plan, they would be paying closer to $280 a year more. And again, as over and again, than if we just left the program alone. - Nancy Johnson also says that as a beneficiary, if I were a beneficiary, I could move into the managed care of the HMO program with greater benefits. And then if I didn't like it, I could come right back. Ben Cardin says that I'll be forced into an HMO plan where I can't choose my own doctor, who's right? Well, Congressman Cardin is wrong about being forced in. In fact, the Republicans have created a system where people really would have a broad choice in theory among a range of plans. There's nothing in this inherently that would drive people out of the traditional Medicare program, known as fee-for-service, and force them necessarily into HMOs. Actually, it might be that many people would find HMOs a very attractive option, as Congresswoman Johnson said.
If you choose to enroll in an HMO now as a Medicare beneficiary, you might find that, for example, you could drop your supplemental, so-called MediGap coverage that covers that you have to buy separately from Medicare that can cost $1,000 or more a year that is there to pay for things that Medicare doesn't cover, like prescription drugs. You might enroll in a HMO that would chart where you would only have to pay, say, $5 or $7 per every prescription drug that you had filled. That's something that beneficiaries might indeed find very attractive, and to the degree that the Republican plan expands options for people, that could be a positive. But we don't know, and where a crystal ball gets quite cloudy is, exactly what benefits will HMOs and other similar plans choose to offer the elderly over time? One of the reasons we don't know that is we don't know what the government really is going to pay HMOs in the future. So we can't stand here for certainty and say that everything is going to be coming up roses for beneficiaries in the future, but in theory, they will have more choices that for many could be more attractive.
- Okay, well, let's look at this question of quality for a minute. As we heard, the House Ways and Means Committee completed work on its Medicare reform bill today. The last three days of debate were filled with statements from Democrats that Republican plans for Medicare reform would seriously compromise quality of care. Pete Stark, Democrat of California is the speaker in this clip. - The vast majority, almost 85 percent of the savings are going to come out of the fee for service sector. That's rationing, you're rationing seniors. I mean, you know that, as sure as you sit there, you let the Medicare Plus plans charge premiums, whatever they want, that only the rich will be able to afford. You ration seniors by holding down the growth in Medicare. - Okay, ration. Republican say that you'll get the same quality whether you stay in traditional Medicare or you're in the HMO. You just heard Congressman Stark saying that the cuts will lead to rationing, which I take to mean less care, less quality.
What about that? - Well, rationing is a very charged word. As you suggest, a lot of people think it means less care and less care that I really need. A more neutral definition of the word would say, you're just going to get less care. And if you take a program that has been growing at 10 percent a year as Medicare has been and has projected to grow at 10 percent a year, and you ratchet that rate of growth down to closer to 6 percent a year as the Republicans would do, there's no question but that less is going to happen under that program than it would if it were growing at 10 percent a year. What we honestly don't know is what the effect of that will be. And if you take, for example, a new study that has come out about the state of California where 80 percent of privately health-insured people now are in managed care plans, this new study by the RAND Corporation suggests that over the decade of the 80s, health spending in California grew at only two-thirds the rate that it grew nationally. So there was clearly a lot of savings achieved from having a lot of HMOs and managed care presence in the health insurance population.
- What did that study say anything about quality? That's the catch. What the study clearly underscored is that we have no idea what the effect was. We can see what happened. We can see how a lot of these savings were occurred. We know that people had radically shorter hospital stays in California than they did in many other parts of the country, but we have such a poor benchmark of quality now. We really honestly don't know what our healthcare system achieves in terms of quality now. So we have absolutely no way to forecast how quality would be affected in the future. And that's what I think is so frustrating about this debate for many people. The politicians are making statements with great certainty on ground where the experts just fear to tread. We honestly don't know what the effect of this would be. - And will some doctors, are some doctors likely to pull out of treating Medicare patients if this bill passes? There have been anecdotal reports that suggest that already some physicians are turning away Medicare patients. The physician payment review commission, which is a congressional appointed entity that has looked into this question, has said that they have seen these anecdotal reports.
As yet they do not see a systematic problem with people not having access to medical care because of the fee cuts. But there's no question that as you continue to squeeze what Medicare pays, Medicare pays only about 60% of what the private health insurance system pays physicians now. As you squeeze on that more and more, you really do build pressure on physicians and you just simply cannot rule out that many of them will simply decide to stop taking Medicare patients. - Okay, now let's turn to the debate over whether the $270 billion savings planned by the Republicans are necessary to preserve Medicare. There are two views from Republican... here are two views from Republican Congresswoman Nancy Johnson again speaking to her constituents last week and from Democrat John Lewis yesterday at the Ways and Means Committee. - This year Medicare costs $178 billion. If we do nothing, in the year 2002, which isn't very far away, Medicare will cost $348 billion. So we do have to get serious about Medicare and there are ways that we can make Medicare
a better program for the current seniors and yet guarantee it will be there in the future for future retirees, that is your kids and grandkids. - Keep your greedy hands off of Medicare. Don't use Medicare, don't cut Medicare by $270 billion in order to give some of your rich friends a $245 billion tax cut. - Okay, who's right, are the savings meant to save Medicare or the cuts meant to save Medicare or is it to fund the tax cut? - Again, little bit of truth on both sides, let me try to elaborate. The whole of the Republican program, in terms of everything the Republicans want to cut, goes to pay for the whole of what the Republicans want to achieve. In other words, all the spending cuts that they want to achieve in Medicare, education, farm programs, et cetera, go to the goals that they wish to accomplish, which is to say,
balancing the budget over a seven year period. And if all goes well, having a $245 billion tax cut. It's not correct to suggest that there are red Medicare dollars which are going to be saved that will trickle over and be spent on a tax cut. Money is fungible, but also in a much more technical sense, what the Republicans propose to do is only have a tax cut if they balance the budget first, if interest rates then fall, if the government therefore spends less borrowing money to fund a deficit, and therefore you have a theory of pool of savings out of which you can have a tax cut. It's not a direct linkage between Medicare and a tax cut. It is, however, I think, appropriate to raise the question of even if all of these wonderful things did come true in interest rates fell and you had this pool of savings. It is at least appropriate to ask the question about whether you would want to have a tax cut, a large portion of which would be lavished upon high income people. And I think that that's where the Democrats are to give them their due, asking a serious
question. Do you want to go through all this effort to balance the budget? In many ways, hurting people who are low income, keep in mind three quarters of Medicare beneficiaries have incomes below $25,000 a year, oo you want to go to all of that effort, putting a lot of pain on a lot of people, and then at the end of the rainbow, turn around and have a tax cut, a lot of which is going to be showered upon the rich. That's a serious public policy issue, and even if there isn't a dollar for dollar linkage, it's one that's probably worth asking. - Will the tax cuts actually add up to $270 billion, what's the evidence on that? - The tax cuts, $245 billion? - I mean the welfare cuts, sorry. - The Medicare cuts as far as we can tell now look as if they will add up to $270 billion, but again, we're going to have to see how these bills evolve as they go through the floors of both houses. It does appear also that a lot of the savings are going to be achieved after the fact if we don't get a lot of savings out of a movement of many Medicare beneficiaries into HMOs.
If those savings don't materialize, we're going to have to come back and take some pretty dramatic steps to restrain fees to doctors and hospitals. And that's a real question, when we then go back and take those dramatic cuts. And if all of that adds up, yes, indeed, $270 billion could be saved out of the program. - Susan, thank you very much for being with us. - My pleasure. Still ahead, Nobel Prize winners, rounding up deadbeat dads, and David Gergen with James Baker. - Now today's Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry. The Physics Prize went to two Americans for their work on subatomic particles, the one for Chemistry to two Americans and a Dutchman for their research into the Earth's protective ozone layer.
Here to explain what the winners did and why it matters to all of us is Richard Harris, science correspondent for National Public Radio. Richard Harris, welcome. - First on Chemistry, Mario Molina, who is a Mexican, but who teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, F. Sherwood Rowland of the University of California at Irvine, research of a hole in the ozone layer. What did they find out? And when did they find it out? - This actually goes back to the 1970s, the third winner, Paul Crutzen, discovered in 1970 that there were some air pollutants that could actually waft all the way up into the stratosphere, miles above the Earth and destroy ozone, a little molecule that nobody had really noticed before in a major way. And what he realized was that these chemicals could break down the ozone and that ozone is screening out ultraviolet light from the sun. Now ultraviolet light is very damaging if it would just beam through. You couldn't even have life on Earth. - Why not? - Because it's essentially radiation and it would just damage living things so much, all life would have to be in the oceans in order to be screened out from the sun.
- And it's this layer, this ozone layer that keeps that from happening. - Right. It's a very diffuse layer of ozone that surrounds the entire Earth and protects us from this ultraviolet light. What Sherwood Rowland and Mario Molina did was they said, well, gee, what other chemicals might be doing this and how big a threat might it be? And they turned their attention to chlorine containing chemicals such as freon, things that we used to use in our hair spray and things that we still use in our air conditioners and our refrigerators. And they said, how bad could this be? And one day, Sherwood Roland tells the story, he came back from the lab and his wife said, how was your day, dear? And he said, I had a really productive day, but I'm afraid I might have seen the end of the world. It sounds like a very exaggerated statement, but in fact, what he glimpsed was that there was enough chlorine being produced industrially that, in fact, if nothing was done about it, this ozone layer could be seriously damaged and all of us could end up in serious trouble. - Is there a simple way of explaining how he discovered that in his lab before he went home that day?
- It was really a calculation that he did chemically. You know, Nobel Prizes often go to a discovery that fundamentally changes the way people think about a particular science like chemistry. This wasn't a case like that. This was a case where he had an idea that fundamentally changed the way we looked at our whole world. And I must say that when people heard what he and Dr. Molina had to say, a lot of them were very skeptical. - Big controversy about it. - A big controversy for many years. - It had to do with politics and industry and all kinds of things. Economics, absolutely. - That's what I meant, economics. - And for many years, they were looked at with some scorn, I think, by certain elements of the scientific community, but they kept pressing and pressing and more and more data came in and more and more people did experiments. And ultimately, what convinced everybody, I think, or most everybody that this was a really real phenomenon happened in 1985, some British scientists in Antarctica noticed all of a sudden the amount of ozone that they expected to see over Antarctica was disappearing dramatically. They found a hole over the ozone, in the ozone, in Antarctica. And this was a real hole.
- You mean, a literal hole. We're talking real holes here, right? - Very, very thin ozone and a lot of this ultraviolet light was coming in and hitting the earth during a certain time of year. And they, over the last decade, have basically figured out that, yes, indeed, that is caused by these very persistent chlorine-containing chemicals that blow all around the earth and stay in the atmosphere for a very long time. - Is it common practice, the Swedish Academy in awarding prizes, particularly in the sciences, that there's a 20-year lag between when the actual discovery is made in this case, the initial discovery, at least, and when they actually give the award? - It's very unpredictable. 20 years is actually not at all uncommon. There was another award which we may talk about in a minute in Physics that was done in 1950. And there are other awards that have been given for work that's just a couple of years old. It really depends how long it takes for everyone to be convinced that the result is real and very important. And in the case of the ozone depletion, in 1987, governments from around the world were finally convinced by scientists from around the world that this is a significant enough
problem that we needed to have global action to control the chemicals that damage ozone. And the Montreal Protocol was signed and has been upgraded. And as a matter of fact... - It's real. - It's real and what's wonderful about this and doesn't often happen in the world is people said, if we let this problem persist, it's going to get worse and worse and worse. It's not a crisis now, but it's going to be. And people acted before it was a really massive crisis. - Based on what these men discovered. - Based on what these men discovered. - All right. Physically, the Physics prizes, as you just mentioned, Americans Martin Perl, of Stanford, and Frederick Reines of University of California, Irvine, they identified two subatomic particles. What two? And why should it... why does it matter? - Well, why it matters is why just we want to know how our universe is put together, and that's what these guys helped figure out. Frederick Reines did his work actually in 1950. He was challenged by a claim that was made in actually 1930. A scientist said, there's something we don't understand about physics.
And the way we'll explain it is we'll say there's just some theoretical particle that must exist that is so difficult to detect that no one will ever detect it. But if we put it into our formulas, physics will make sense and we can go home. And that's exactly what they did in 1930. And he said, well, if they really think that this particle exists, maybe I can find it. And the tricky thing about this particle, it's called a neutrino. And they are so ghostly, a neutrino can just pass right through the earth. They're a hundred of them in front of us right now or hundreds of them in front of us right now. They don't interact with anything. They just keep going. But he got an idea about how to detect these things. And lo and behold, in 1950, he and a colleague were able to detect neutrinos. And it was one of these things where 20 years of lapse between the time somebody predicted it just out of desperation, really. And somebody said, well, you were right. - The other one is called tau. - The other one is the tau particle. And this was discovered by... -T-A-U. - T-A-U, it's the Greek letter, that's right. And Martin Perl discovered that using the Stanford Linear Accelerator in the mid 1970s. This was a time of intense exploration of what our atoms are made up of.
I mean, we know that there are electrons and protons and neutrons, but everyone said, there must be something beyond that. There must be something more fundamental than those particles that break up the atom. And if you could just break up these parts, maybe you could find more particles. And so there was a huge explosion of experiments to do that. And he was doing some. And he broke up... - What kind of experiment? I mean, atomic. Yeah. - We're talking about atom smashing. - Blowing things up. - Well, we're talking about running together two little atoms that incredibly high speeds and smashing them into one another, these are the linear accelerators a mile long. And you fire one particle from one den and the other from the other end. And they smack together in the middle and it creates so much energy that all sorts of little flecks of garbage fly around. And everyone says, well, gee, what happens when you break up an atom? What do you see inside it? And in 1974, he ultimately said, I found this thing called tau. And it actually represented a whole new class, a whole new family of particles that no one had ever seen before. And with this little piece of the puzzle, physicists were able to essentially create what sort
of looks like a restaurant menu, if you will, of just a very fairly small number of particles with strange names like quarks and leptons and things like this. And they discovered, if you take one from column A and one from column B, depending upon which particles you take and put together, you can essentially create all the matter in the universe. - And but unlike the earlier one, the chemistry discovery, the ozone layer, this is more of a, this doesn't have a practical application, does it, for you and me. - Not that we know of right now, but it's the wonderful thing about science as you never really know where these things are going to end up. When they discovered the laser many years ago. - This is more pure science than applied science in the earlier... - It's more how the world, how the universe works. - And the more you know about it, the more other things, it could lead to other things. - Right. And it all ties into what happened at the Big Bang, the moment the universe was created, they all intersect. - All right. - Richard Harris, thank you very much. - My pleasure. - Next tonight, a Texas roundup of deadbeat dads and mums who failed to pay child support.
Congressional welfare reform packages required stricter enforcement of such state laws. Texas has one of the toughest in the country, Betty Ann Bowser, reports from Austin. - For Idalia Maldonado, putting food on the table hasn't been easy. When her husband divorced her 11 years ago, Maldonado was left to raise four children, three under the age of four, and one with Down syndrome. - I can remember a time when my mom and I have skipped meals so that the kids could eat. - Since her divorce, Maldonado's ex-husband has fallen $20,000 behind in child support. - From the very beginning, he was always late. He was constantly calling to say, you know, I've got to pay this other item. It was constantly one thing after another.
I could not rely on it. So I was working full time and going to school, along with raising the four children. - Officials in Texas think they have cooked up a way to recoup money, owed to Idalia Maldonado and millions of other parents, a way that could be almost as powerful a tool as wage garnishment, suspending licenses. Last month, Texas Attorney General Dan Morales sent notices to 75,000 parents, delinquent on their child support. The bottom line, pay up or lose your state driver's license, your hunting and fishing license or your professional license to practice anything from medicine to real estate. - These non-compliant parents are about to learn that a state license is not a right. It's a privilege. - From Maldonado's ex-husband, the threat worked. An attorney, he received a notice that he could lose his law license. Within a matter of days, he wrote a child support check for $5,900.
- The way I see it is, my kids, the neglect of my kids, has contributed to his getting his license. And so it's the neglect of his children that's going to have it taken away then I think that's only fair. - Office of the Attorney General, license extension, may I help you? - Thousands of other delinquent parents paid up too. An Austin hotline tells parents they have 20 days to make amends before the state suspends their license. In one month, the hotline has already reached more than $700,000. - Why don't you pay $100 this week and then $100 before the end of the month, that way you take care of your child support? - The more money Texas brings in, the less taxpayers spend to keep children on welfare. In fact, the White House estimates that 9 out of 10 children on welfare are owed child support.
- And the bottom line here is obviously the children of Texas. We are attempting to collect this money in order to ensure that our kids have adequate food, shelter, support services so they can grow up healthy and happy and have a fair shot at success. That's not asking too much. It's not our business and it is not our intention to collect licenses. It is our objective to collect child support. And theoretically, it would be my hope that we don't have to suspend a single license. - We show that you have a child support obligation that you have failed to make. - 19 other states have adopted similar laws, but Texas is by far the most aggressive. At least one parent thinks that Texas has gone too far. Pat Dillon, who transports cattle for a living, received a notice of license suspension last month.
Dillon hasn't paid child support for four years, but he hasn't seen his young son for six years. Dillon says he stopped paying child support only after his ex-wife violated a court order and disappeared with their son. - I didn't see no sense in me being a good father, like I was very consistent on my child support, I never, never missed one and caught up any arrears I had from before and then not be able to find my child, and the attorney general's office, you know, they kept telling me we can't release that information. - Dillon says the attorney general's office finally found his ex-wife this year on the East Coast. Texas won't guarantee that he can see his son, but it will guarantee that his paycheck will be cut and his driver's license suspended. - Attorney general will not do nothing about visitation, not I think. They expect me to pay child support and that is a court order and I realize, you know, I haven't done it a little while.
But then once again, it's also a court order that I can see my son every weekend, every holiday at two o'clock and also half a summer. You know, I believe that needs to be enforced just like child support's being enforced. - Attorney General Dan Morales doesn't buy that argument. - Clearly, I think that provisions related to visitation ought to be abided by. I think they ought to be enforced by our courts, but I don't think that a non-custodial parent has the right unilaterally to attempt to use visitation as some sort of quid pro quo, if you will, for the withholding of child support payments. The law in Texas says you cannot do that. That children deserve to have those payments irrespective of concerns regarding visitation. - Pat Dillon brought his dilemma to an Austin father's rights group. Ron Forrester of the men's hotline helped Dillon find free legal advice.
The way Forrester sees it, it's impossible to separate child support from visitation. - The state's main emphasis is on collecting the money. The state's made millions of dollars off of collecting child support. That's the only area they're interested in. They're not interested in the access and visitation portion of enforcing that. All they care about is the money. The state has been somewhat successful in bringing in money. - And Mr. Gonzalez, do you feel you can make that payment as agreed? - Texas officials hope the new laws will add $20 million to the $500 million it annually collects in child support payments. Still, child support collections remain low. Texas collects on only 18 percent of all of its cases. The number is the same nationally and has increased only one half a percentage point since 1989. - Now, in this one here, you're suspending Texas driver's license via... - Casey Hoffman, an attorney who once managed the child support enforcement office for
the state of Texas, says the reason collections are so low is because government case workers are overworked with 1,000 different cases each. - The number one reason why this system is broken down and why the collection rate has never gone over 20 percent is the overwhelming case load. The government spends more time answering complaints, answering critics, running from case to case to clean up mistakes that occur from being overwhelmed, than they do enforcing the child support. - Hoffman now runs a private collection agency called Child Support Enforcement. - Could you bring up the Maldonado case? One of his clients is Idalia Maldonado, who went to Hoffman after years of frustration with state enforcement officials. Hoffman's collection rates are nearly three times better than the state's, but his clients
must pay him 33 percent of all the money he collects. Hoffman doesn't believe that most non-paying parents are too poor to pay. - When you investigate the people who owe child support, you do find assets, you do find them employed. They're not all in mental hospitals, they're not all in prisons, they're not all picking up cans in the street, these people have money and they can pay child support. So I don't agree, I think it's a myth that the kids on welfare are the dependents of people who can't afford to pay child support. - If you have serious doubts as to whether or not you are the biological parent of the child or children before the court today... - The newest monkey wrench being thrown into the system is the increasing number of out-of-wedlock births. - If you request blood tests, the court will order a paternity testing order. - Twenty years ago, when states started enforcing child support, investigators tracked down
fathers and demanded payments. Now states spend much of their time establishing just to the father of the child is. - I'm going to issue a paternity testing order. - Texas is third in the nation for the number of children born out of wedlock. They take up two-thirds of the state's child support cases. The attorney general's office establishes more than 2600 paternities each month. - You are going to be responsible for the support of that child. - In an effort to combat Texas's high teenage pregnancy rates, Morales went to classrooms across the state, bringing a lesson in the economics of becoming a parent in the state of Texas. We are hopeful we'll make them think about the spectre of becoming a parent at an age where economically they may not yet be prepared for it. - But even Morales says government can only do so much. - We have seen the breakdown in a number of our societal support institutions in recent
years and decades. The church, government, communities, neighborhoods, the traditional family. As those things continue to change, we continue to see the consequences. And I think more than anything else, it really is those types of societal factors driving our caseload and presenting us with this problem. Government cannot be looked to in isolation to solve the problem of child support, delinquency, or child support in general. - What Morales hopes government can do is not only make it financially painful for delinquent parents, but also to attach a social stigma to the behavior. For now, the Texas government is working on locating an additional 125,000 delinquent parents who will face license suspension. Finally tonight, a Gergen dialogue, David Gergen, editor at large of U.S. News and World
Report, engages James Baker, former Secretary of State and the Bush administration, who has just published his memoirs, The Politics of Diplomacy: Revolution, War and Peace, 1989-1992. They are also former colleagues having worked together in both the Ford and Reagan administrations. - You've chosen to write a book actually about the last 43 months, really, of your tenure in government, about your time as Secretary of State. You said you found that personally the most satisfying of all of your assignments. Why? - Well, I wrote a book about my time as Secretary of State because the world changed during that 43 months. The world as I had known it for my entire adult life changed. There were so many historic things that happened with the collapse of communism, the fall of the Wall, the implosion of the Soviet Union, the reunification of Germany and NATO, Mideast peace, the Persian Gulf War, the war in Panama. I could never have written a book, I don't think it would have been of any reasonable length, about the 12 years in government through the campaigns and the White House and the Treasury and so forth.
- The linchpin seemed to be the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Berlin Wall. That seemed to open up everything else. - The collapse of communism, the end of the East/West confrontation, and it did open up so many different possibilities. It created a whole lot of events and facts on the ground. As I say, the world changed. We were so used for 40 years to looking at U.S. foreign policy in the context of our confrontation with the Soviet Union, in the East/West context, in the context of containment as the paradigm for formulation and implementation of our foreign policy. - One of the major achievements that came out of that was the move from confrontation to cooperation with the Soviets and the Russians. I was struck by how often you talked about Foreign Minister Shevardnadze, the Soviet Foreign Minister and the personal relationship... Was Shevardnadze a more important player in bringing the Soviets around than is generally understood on the outside?
I think he was a more important player than is generally understood on the outside, although Michael Beschloss and Strobe Talbott, who's now the Deputy Secretary of State, wrote a book that made the point that Shevardnadze was frequently seen to be pushing Gorbachev to take risks and take chances for peace and chances for change. You'll see in my book where Shevardnadze agreed to that initial joint statement with me the day after Iraq invaded Kuwait, when we stood together and condemned the Soviet client's state's invasion of Kuwait. He agreed to an arms embargo without ever clearing it with Gorbachev simply because he thought he was right. - As you look out to the future with Yeltsin, do you think he has a better prospect of succeeding where Gorbachev eventually collapsed? - Well, I don't know what you mean by succeeding. If you mean, is there a chance for reform to succeed in the Russian Federation? Yes, I think there is. And frankly, I think that economic change is taking place there better than you might believe if you just read the newspapers. They still have a rather difficult political situation with a proliferation of
parties. I think it was important for us to stay with Gorbachev as long as we did against criticism that we shouldn't have because we knew he was a reformer and we knew he was changing the Soviet Union in the direction that we wanted to see a change. And the fact of the matter is the Cold War ended peacefully. It didn't happen peacefully. By the same token, I think it's wrong to criticize President Clinton for hanging with Yeltsin because we know Yeltsin is a reformer. And after all, he is the first freely elected president that the Russian Federation has ever had. - It's obvious that the collapse of communism opened the door to the reunification of Germany, something which you play a major role in, opened the door to a new role and a new relationship with the Russians. What's less obvious is it opened the door also to what happened in the Gulf. Now, you write, you think that Saddam Hussein went into Kuwait in part because he saw that as his moment of opportunity?
- I think he did. I think he saw the end of the East/West confrontation as leaving one superpower in the world: the United States. I think that his desire for regional hegemony, he felt, would be thwarted if he waited. And that's why he moved when he did. And I write that. - Right. And he also apparently was going to go into Saudi Arabia. Well, we found out after the war, and I make a note of this in the book, we found out after the war that he'd sent a private message to Rafsanjani, the Iranian leader, in effect, tipping him off that he was going to move and saying, "I'm looking forward to living in peace with you along our 840-kilometer seacoast." Well, if you measure 840 kilometers down the Persian Gulf, you see it includes all of Saudi Arabia's Persian Gulf seacoast. - You had a meeting with the Foreign Minister of Iraq just before the war started. It was sort of the final moment and it really sealed American support and also sealed the fate of Iraqis, that we're going to go in, in which you actually threatened him with the possible use of tactical nuclear weapons. It was a little ambiguous, but the message was clear. - It was a calculated ambiguity on purpose. And what I actually said was, if you use weapons
of mass destruction against our forces, the American people will demand vengeance, and we have the means to exact it. That is not a threat, Minister. It is a promise. And I think they took it to heart. At least that's what they now tell the UN inspectors here in the last three or four weeks. - And we found, in fact, that they had a bigger biological capacity than we first thought. - They have a very, very dangerous and much larger biological weapons capability than we thought at the time. And their chemical weapons capability, we knew at the time, was fairly extensive. - That threat, the one you used with Aziz, which apparently worked, it was interesting that the notion to present that threat came from Colin Powell, who was often represented in America, on the American side, as being overly cautious. And yet he really wanted, he was with you on being aggressive towards Saddam. He was with, and then he wanted to use this threat. Did you find him overly cautious during your time as Secretary?
- No, I did not. And I make the point in the book, particularly in terms of the Persian Gulf War, I think it's been suggested that he wanted to give sanctions, economic sanctions a year to work. I never heard that from him. I never saw that in his behavior or actions. And in fact, he came and had a private meeting with me in October, during which time we laid out what the, what the options were. And I found him to be quite prepared to increase our force capabilities. But he wanted to make sure that if we were going to use force that we did it with overwhelming force. - Yeah, but later on he did oppose the use of force. You wanted to use force, or air power in Bosnia to break the siege of... - To lift the siege of Sarajevo? Yes, in June of 1992. And at that time both Colin and Dick Cheney were opposed to that. They were afraid that would put us on a slippery slope to war. My view was that we could use American air power safely to deliver humanitarian assistance or to break the siege of
Sarajevo. I think the Serbs probably got wind of the fact that we were about to do that because the president did sign off on it. And they... and the facts on the ground changed. And so we never had to had to use it. - But President Clinton has used that air power and has worked. - He has used it and it has worked and I applauded it. - I wanted to come back to one other point. You make a very strong argument in the book that it was, it would have been wrong to go after Saddam in Baghdad. But you also make an argument that had you gone after Saddam you would not have been able to get the Middle East peace process... - That's correct. ...rolling. - I think that if we had marched to Baghdad, we would have fractured the coalition. The Arab members would have left, the countries in the region are fearful of the Lebanonization of Iraq. They don't want to see that. We didn't want to see it at the time. But primarily we didn't want to lose a whole lot more American lives that probably would have been lost if we had occupied Iraq and had to fight a guerrilla war there. Furthermore the United Nations resolutions under which we were operating told us to kick Iraq out of Kuwait and that's
what we did and we did it rather convincingly. So we had satisfied our war aims, our political aims. There really is no argument to be made for going to Iraq, for going to Baghdad. - Except that Saddam is still in power. - Well he's still in power that's correct and we all anticipated at the time that he would not be able to remain in power. Now he's in power but he's in a cage as a consequence of the UN resolutions that have been enacted and that remain in force. [music] Again Wednesday's top stories. The rebel Bosnian Serbs and the Bosnian government agreed on a ceasefire to take effect at one minute past midnight in Bosnia. Workers cleared the wreckage the Amtrak train that crashed in Arizona early Tuesday. The FBI continues its investigation in what it's calling a potential case of terrorism. And the House Ways and Means Committee passed the Republican plan to cut $270 billion from Medicare by the year 2002.
Good night, Jim. Good night, Robin. Before we go, an editor's note. Last night we incorrectly reported the results of a 1992 Colorado referendum. The measure prevented local governments from passing anti-discrimination laws for homosexuals. It was approved by Colorado voters 53 to 47 percent. We'll see you tomorrow night. I'm Jim Lehrer. Thank you and good night. - Major funding for the MacNeil Lehrer NewsHour has been provided by the Archer Daniels Midland Company, ADM, supermarket to the world. And by New York Life, yet another example of the wise investment philosophy New York Life has been following for the last 150 years. And by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by the annual financial support from viewers like you.
The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour
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Episode Description
This episode's headline: Medicare - Rhetoric; Nobel Theory; Taking Responsibility; Dialogue - The Politics of Diplomacy. The guests include SUSAN DENTZER, U.S. News & World Report; RICHARD HARRIS, National Public Radio; JAMES BAKER, Former Secretary of State CORRESPONDENTS: KWAME HOLMAN; BETTY ANN BOWSER; DAVID GERGEN; ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH. Byline: In New York: ROBERT MAC NEIL; In Washington: JAMES LEHRER
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Chicago: “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour,” 1995-10-11, NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2024,
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