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MS. FARNSWORTH: Good evening. I'm Elizabeth Farnsworth in New York.
MR. LEHRER: And I'm Jim Lehrer in Washington. After our summary of the news this Monday, we look at the return of democratic elections to Haiti and at the 50th birthday celebration of the United Nations. Paul Solman gives a talk on budget talk, and we offer words of farewell about Warren Burger and Jonas Salk. NEWS SUMMARY
MR. LEHRER: The Supreme Court ruled today that student athletes can be forced to take drug tests. In a six to three decision, the court said public schools can require such tests even if the student is not a suspected drug user. The case involved James Acton, a seventh grader from Oregon. He was barred from his school football team after refusing a drug test. His family sued the school district. The court said today a school district's responsibility as guardian of students gave it the right to reduce the privacy expectation of its students. James Acton's parents criticized the decision today, but President Clinton's drug policy director, Lee Brown, praised it.
LEE BROWN, Director, Office of Drug Control Policy: The issue centers on the safety of the others. The court made a decision which we agree with. They've balanced the privacy rights of the Constitution along with the legitimate interest of the public. We think this is significant and that it provides the opportunity for school districts to do what many government agencies are doing right now, i.e., random testing and appropriate venues.
MR. LEHRER: In another decision today, the High Court set aside an appeals court ruling that banned prayer at public school graduations in nine western states. Funeral services will be held Thursday for former Chief Justice Warren Burger. He died yesterday from congestive heart failure at the age of 87. He was chief justice from 1969 to '86. We'll have more on him and his record later in the program. Elizabeth.
MS. FARNSWORTH: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak escaped an assassination attempt today. He was in Ethiopia for a summit of African leaders when gunmen fired on his motorcade. We have more from Jane Bennett Powell of Independent Television News.
JANE BENNETT POWELL, ITN: The Egyptian president had only just arrived in Addis Ababa and was on his way to the conference where heads of state would discuss economic and political instability in the African continent. As it passed the Palestinian embassy in the Ethiopian capital, his motorcade was ambushed, reports say, by six men, some in a vehicle in front, others on a building site nearby. In the firing which followed two motorcycle outriders and three gunmen were reportedly shot dead, and one of the would-be assassins was arrested. President Mubarak returned to Cairo and reappeared in front of the cameras to reassure his audience he was unscathed.
PRES. HOSNI MUBARAK, Egypt: For me, it was shocking, what's that? Then I realized that there are bullets coming through in our car. It is an armored car, so I was not afraid at all that anything could come in. One bullet came in the glass but no effect at all. I -- the driver was an Egyptian -- for our car. I told him turn back to the airport.
MS. POWELL: The Israelis were among the Middle Eastern nations to send messages of support to the Egyptian president. Others came from the Libyans and the Palestinians.
MS. FARNSWORTH: No one has claimed responsibility for the attack against Mubarak. President Clinton referred to the assassination attempt in a speech today commemorating the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. The President spoke at ceremonies in San Francisco, where the UN Charter was signed in 1945 at the close of World War II.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: In 1937, President Roosevelt called for a quarantine against aggression, to keep the infection of fascism from seeping into the bloodstream of humanity. Today we should quarantine the terrorists and terrorist groups, and the nations that support terrorism. [applause] Where nations and groups honestly seek to reform, to change, to move away from the killing of innocents, we should support them. But when they are unrepentant in the delivery of death, we should stand tall against them.
MS. FARNSWORTH: We'll have extended excerpts from today's anniversary celebration later in the program.
MR. LEHRER: There were democratic elections in Haiti yesterday for the first time in five years. National legislative and many local offices were on the ballot. Monitors from the Organization of American States reported widespread irregularities. Many polling stations opened late or not at all. There was scuffling and fighting at some voting places. Others closed early because of boycotts, death threats, and armed attacks. One polling office burned down, destroying an unknown number of marked ballots in a suburb of the capital Port-au-Prince. At another, angry crowds took five election officials hostage. The provisional electoral council said today it would reschedule votes at many sites. We'll have more on this story right after the News Summary.
MS. FARNSWORTH: The earthquake that hit Southern California early this morning was an aftershock from the powerful Northridge quake that struck the area last year. Scientists from the California Institute of Technology at Pasadena said the tremors were centered 40 miles north of Los Angeles and measured 4.9 on the Richter Scale. There were no injuries and no reports of serious damage.
MR. LEHRER: The nation's largest defense contractor announced a restructuring today. Lockheed-Martin will eliminate 12,000 jobs, close 12 plants during the next five years. The company expects to save $1.8 billion from the cutbacks. Lockheed-Martin was formed last March in a merger between Lockheed and Martin Marietta. And that's it for the News Summary tonight. Now it's on to the Haiti elections, 50 years for the United Nations, talking budget talk, and farewells to Warren Burger and Jonas Salk. FOCUS - DEMOCRACY AT WORK?
MS. FARNSWORTH: First tonight, what happened to the Haitian election process? As we reported, the Caribbean Island nation was choosing national legislators and local officials yesterday. There was a lot of confusion and some turmoil at polling places, and there has also been much debate over whether this election has helped Haiti on the path to democracy. We get four assessments now of the voting, two American and two Haitian. Brian Atwood is the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Congressman Porter Goss of Florida led the observer delegation of the International Republican Institute, a GOP group that monitors foreign elections. Both just returned from Haiti. The two Haitians are Amb. Jean Casimir and Raymond Joseph, publisher of the Haitian newspaper in New York, "Observateur." Thank you all for being with us. Let's start with you, Mr. Atwood. USAID, the Agency for International Development, put considerable funds into these elections, about $12 million, I believe. You just got back. What did you see? Did the funds do what they were supposed to do?
BRIAN ATWOOD, Administrator, USAID: Well, first, I should say that I think your opening exaggerated the violence. What we and all observers saw was a peaceful election. Yes, there was turmoil. Yes, there were a few people arguing with people. But in the context of Haiti elections, where 34 people were killed in 1987 and 16 were killed in 1990, this was a remarkable election, and people were voting with no fear that anyone was going to intimidate them, certainly no fear of their government for the first time in many years. I think it was a very positive step forward. Now, there were administrative problems, and these problems are going to be sorted out, I would hope. The provisional electoral council, as you have indicated, wants to take steps to resolve some of the disputes with respect to some of these elections. The final point, we were not talking about a single election. We were talking about 2,195 elections, local, parliamentary, deputies, and senate. It is a very, very difficult and complex process for any relatively poor country, as certainly Haiti is. I think they made a major effort. I think they still have some problems to work out, but it was a positive step forward with respect to democracy.
MS. FARNSWORTH: Congressman Goss, what did you see? You also just returned?
REP. PORTER GOSS, [R] Florida: Primarily what I saw was the preparations, the lack of training and the lack of preparation caused a tremendous amount of mismanagement. I agree with the statement that there was none of the violence that traditionally is, is reported in past elections in Haiti. There were degrees of serious disturbance, however. I would exceed that that did cause some problems in terms of disruption and disenfranchisement of an awful lot of voters in widespread areas. Mostly in the North was where the trouble was. In the middle part of the country it was a mixed situation, and in the South, it was relatively calm. The problem was that the preparations, themselves, led to missing ballots, lost opportunities to both candidates, who weren't put on the ballots as they should have been, those types of things. Unavailable materials caused disruptions as well. So we had what I would call a very halting step toward a democratic process, but at least the election got through. I guess there may be some revolts in a few areas, we don't know. But it was a very messy operation that can be improved because much of the problem was administrative.
MS. FARNSWORTH: Well, Congressman Goss, to the extent that it was messy, was this because of infrastructure problems, because of Haiti's history of not having had democratic elections or not many democratic elections in the past, or do you think there were political reasons for the messiness?
REP. GOSS: Primarily, I think that the problem laid with lack of preparation. As I say, we had a very compressed election schedule, for whatever reasons, they just didn't get off to a good start, the people who administrated this down there, and it was a very slow start. That caused -- that we just simply had unaddressed problems. They weren't ready with the ballots and things, and that led to insufficient transparency in a number of areas, and that, of course, erodes integrity in the process. I believe when it's all said and done, it is not fair just to excuse the fact that there are infrastructure problems, because I was there in the '90 elections, and I believe that the management of the election, the administrative management of this election, was a step backward. I believe that the atmosphere was a step forward. So I think progress is halting and slow, and it's going to take a lot more work to get to a satisfactory standard.
MS. FARNSWORTH: Okay. Amb. Casimir, you've heard both Mr. Atwood and Congressman Goss. What have you heard about the elections, and what are your comments about the criticisms?
AMB. CASIMIR: First of all, I must thank them for their comments, and I must point out first things first, that we are very proud, proud of the people of Haiti, proud of the determination to have a state of law, part of the determination to vote and to participate, and their tolerance and their effort to enter into the process, that one. Secondly, and what has been pointed out by the Senator -- sorry -- the member of Congress and Mr. Atwood is that you are starting a process, and you have to find the proper strength in new institutions to allow the people to express that determination into the normal process. We are starting. We have had, indeed, as was pointed out some problems of administrative and logistic nature which we have to overcome. Indeed, some people have not been able to vote but we cannot yet take that act as disenfranchisement. Movements are being done to do that, and I understand that certain polling stations are voting down today, and they are going -- they may have and will have, indeed, from what I know, over in local elections to remedy that. So we have some problems, and such problems, because we have limited resources, we are starting, but it seems to me that we are rightfully proud of what we have done. We are moving forward, and we will keep moving forward toward the institutionalization of a democratic country. Once you have the army out of the picture, as we have it now, everybody feel at ease to vote and to present their views.
MS. FARNSWORTH: Mr. Ambassador, just briefly, so we get the facts of this, there will be some voting in the areas where there were problems in the next day or two, and the results won't be out for what, eight or nine days?
AMB. CASIMIR: My information is that today they have started in certain areas having a, a vote being carried out in certain of the polling stations, and my information is also that they will have to do that wherever there have been difficulties, and the council had to stop the process.
MS. FARNSWORTH: Okay. Mr. Joseph, you have said that these were not elections for Haiti but elections for President Clinton. What did you mean by that?
MR. JOSEPH: Well, I think that if they were having elections for Haiti, they would have done it properly. President Clinton had an invasion of Haiti by 20,000 troops to bring back democracy, and he is rushing the process to say that he has succeeded in bringing back democracy. And for that reason, he --
MS. FARNSWORTH: You mean for political reasons internally?
RAYMOND JOSEPH, Haiti Observateur: For political reasons internally I think, because the Republicans will say, you spent $1.5 billion in Haiti to bring back democracy, and what do we have? And I think that's the reason why they rush this process. Just last Monday, six days before the elections, I wrote President Clinton a letter, and I said, Mr. President, it is rather messy because the president of the electoral council has made some major mistakes, why don't we stop the election, suspend it for a month, to give yourself time to do something better under international control, because --
MS. FARNSWORTH: And how do you think it finally turned out?
MR. JOSEPH: I think it turned out very badly.
MS. FARNSWORTH: Do you think that one could not say that these were fair and free elections?
MR. JOSEPH: Well, the OAS has said that he cannot say now that they are fair and free and honest. Just take an example. The president of the electoral council tells us that 1 million registration cards have been -- have disappeared, have been stolen. Then they ask them for the numbers. He doesn't give it. Then another few days, he says, oh, I have found 60,000 of them. Where did you find them? He doesn't say. Then three weeks after the first statement, he says, oh, I was just joking, I was just -- they were hoarding these cards, and they still leave this president to carry out this process. And you see what he has given.
MS. FARNSWORTH: Well, let me ask Mr. Atwood about that. There were some specific criticisms that were made. There were these cards that disappeared, and there were lists of, of candidates that -- or the process of qualifying to be a candidate, there were criticisms about that, that some candidates didn't get to be on the list. Can you respond to a couple of those, the lost cards for example.
MR. ATWOOD: Yes. A statement was made by the president of the electoral council that there were lost cards. The United Nations made a statement soon thereafter that they didn't think that was the case. What I can ascertain is that those cards were sent out, the registration process started very, very slowly, and therefore, for a period of time the cards were not coming back in. They've done a thorough investigation. They find that there were maybe a few thousand cards that didn't show up in the end, but as the registration process picked up, all of those cards were used. Indeed, at one point, the president of the electoral council thought he was going to have to print more. So I don't -- I think that was something that did hurt the credibility of the electoral council, and I'm certainly not going to sit here and defend the actions. I, in particular, believe that the failure to inform candidates as to why they were rejected was a mistake but it was more of a public relations mistake. I've talked to Mr. Remy, the president of the electoral council, and the fact of the matter is he has good explanations for all of them. He used a very strict standard to decide who would be qualified, perhaps more strict than I would use, but the fact is that he didn't then come public and tell the candidates why they were rejected. I think that was a mistake. And I think there were mistakes along the way, and I would agree there was some degree of mismanagement here, but don't forget, the first time this particular electoral council has ever run an election, I'm sorry that the same electoral council that ran the election in 1990 didn't come back, but the fact of the matter is we've had some major changes in this country since 1995. With respect to rushing the election, this election was scheduled for December. The parliament, most of the parliament, left their positions in January.
MS. FARNSWORTH: Last December?
MR. ATWOOD: Last December. And President Aristide simply -- and this is because his democratic credentials are very strong -- did not want to rule this country by decree, so yes, we rushed these elections, but you have to take a small step forward in order to get there. We have a run-off coming next and a presidential election probably next December, and I think the preparations for that, with the lessons learned from this one, will be much better.
MS. FARNSWORTH: Congressman Goss, let's get into some of the issues in this election. What were some of the key issues? Did they get out to the voters?
REP. GOSS: Well, you must understand that I was there as an independent observer for the International Republican Institute, and my mission was not as a congressman. It was an observer of the process, and we have issued two reports. The first report on the process was we felt that the electoral council had not done the job well for whatever reason, the lack of responsiveness that Brian has mentioned caused a little bit of a crisis of confidence among many of the political parties. That caused some disturbance that was not necessary.
MS. FARNSWORTH: Excuse me for interrupting, but would you have postponed the elections even further?
REP. GOSS: I would not have been in a position to make that judgment.
MS. FARNSWORTH: I mean, would you have recommended postponing them?
REP. GOSS: No, I would not have recommended postponing the elections, because I think the psychological impact of doing that would have been extremely negative. I think that the tragedy is that time and again the electoral council was warned of problems, and they failed to respond for whatever reason. They may have had reasons, but they failed to respond. That caused a crisis of confidence, an erosion of integrity. The second thing that happened down there that we reported on as independent observers in the IRI was the actual voting day experience. And that experience ranged to satisfactory in some places to non-existence in others because people were disenfranchised for a variety of reasons which I've mentioned. They didn't get a chance to vote, a very unhappy outcome for a democratic election process. So, clearly, a problem there. The third report we will report on will be the actual count of the votings. Now, regrettably, there has been a little trouble in that area already. We're not quite sure what it means. As I left Haiti this morning, there were some reports going on about some shenanigans in the counting of the ballots. That will be our third report. I am an observer. I do not know who won. I had no horse in the race, and I frankly do not know what all the issues were in the country.
MS. FARNSWORTH: But just the bottom line, do you think that the results should be contested because of what you saw, or do you think --
REP. GOSS: That is a judgment, of course, that should lie with the politicians in Haiti and the political parties in Haiti. We are foreign observers. we encouraged very much those parties who participated to use the appropriate channels that exist, as they do in any democracy to register their complaints. We believe that process is going on. Just this morning, the political parties who were unhappy said so, said why, were very specific. That will be the benefit if they are able to take the complaints of those political parties and put them to good use and remedy the situation, as I say. I think that will be a range from revoting to other things happening. One of the critical parts of this is that we've got a presidential election coming up in Haiti in the relatively near future, by December, by the constitution of 1987. The constitution is a very important document and a very important symbol for democracy, as well as a reality for democracy there. We have to stand by that. I am afraid they will have very serious problems with those elections if they do not make dramatic changes in the electoral council or the way it operates.
MS. FARNSWORTH: Mr. Ambassador, I want to move on to some of the issues of the election now. I mean, Haiti has tremendous problems, as you and your government have pointed out, problems of education, water, all kinds of things, which I saw when I was there. Did these elections deal with any of those issues? Did the voters get to deal with real issues here?
AMB. CASIMIR: Yes, indeed. In fact, in my information here from Washington -- because I was here monitoring and liaising with the government of the United States. My information is that, in fact, one of the reasons that explain why the people rushed to register and to participate is that they saw this election globally as a problem of underwriting decisions that have been taken and reporting, what I have been told with respect to the army, that one thing. People want a congress that will have a position toward an institution that should not in the future participate in politics and that should obey to civilian laws as far as the police is concerned and as far as the arm concerned. That is a decision taken by the President. They expect that parliament would move in that direction also, that one. Second issue that is very important that explains also I would say the flourishing of democracy that we will have in Haiti, there has been a series of local issues to be solved. Certain -- even candidates and certain national leaders were not so welcome in their district, in their -- with their constituency, because they did not answer at the time to the demands of the people. This is why it is very important that we have had this election now, because we do need to put in operation the different elements of decentralization that are foreseen in the constitution and that will assist us to give the instrument that the next president will need to govern the country democratically. This is a very, very important election we have had now, and we are preparing an even more important -- between those two things we must have --
MS. FARNSWORTH: Mr. Ambassador, I have to interrupt one second. We only have a few seconds left. What do you think about the -- were the issues covered? Did they get covered publicly and people get to deal with these issues?
MR. JOSEPH: No, the issues were not covered publicly because only the president's party had a chance to use the airwaves. The opposition parties were barred most of the time, and one thing else, the opposition parties made a lot of protests all along, and they did not even respond. The government didn't respond. The electoral commission did not respond, even by forming that commission, seven out of the nine members were pro-Aristide, and the political party says, hey, this is not what the constitution says, and they did not respond. So I don't see what protest they can make now and people are going to listen. They're not going to listen to them.
MS. FARNSWORTH: Okay. Sorry, we have to go. Thank you all very much for being with us. Jim.
MR. LEHRER: Still to come on the NewsHour tonight. The UN's birthday party, budget-speak, Justice Burger and Dr. Salk. FOCUS - HAPPY BIRTHDAY
MR. LEHRER: Now the United Nations at 50. There was a big birthday celebration today in San Francisco, where the UN Charter was signed in 1945. The UN has been much criticized lately for bureaucratic bloat, wasting money, and for its role in Bosnia. But today, President Clinton and a number of other dignitaries came to pay tribute.
BOUTROS BOUTROS-GHALI, UN Secretary General: Five decades are a brief moment in history, yet, since 1945, a new reality of global cooperation has taken shape based on the charter that was framed here in San Francisco. Today the world is accepting the ideals of democracy. Democracy is vital for development. Democracy has become a UN priority. We are the custodians of the dream of global cooperation. We will not let it perish. As long as people seek national identities, as long as people seek protection from aggression, as long as people yearn for a better world for their children, the United Nations will endure, and it will succeed.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, U.S. Ambassador to the UN: The United Nations Charter was authored by a world emerging from a nightmare, but it was also a world determined to dream again, determined to provide the means not through words alone but through concrete actions to ensure that horrors just past would not be relived. Let us heed the instruction of our own lives. If Nelson Mandela and Vaclav Havel could envision from jail the freedom not only of themselves but of their peoples, and if Ung Sung Su Chi can as we speak hold firm to the conviction that lies must inevitably give away to truth, and if Anne Frank, a child surrounded by evil, could believe nonetheless in the fundamental decency of human beings, then we too can believe in the dream begun here 50 years ago. We, too, can believe in ourselves.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: To millions around the world, the United Nations is not what we see on our news programs at night. Instead, it's the meal that keeps a child from going to bed hungry; the knowledge that helps a farmer coax strong crops from hard land; the shelter that keeps a family together when they're displaced by war or natural disasters. In the last 50 years, these remarkable stories have been too obscured and the capacity of the United Nations to act too limited by the Cold War. As colonial rule broke down, differences between developing and industrialized nations and regional rivalries added new tensions to the United Nations so that too often there was too much invective and too little debate in the general assembly. But now the end of the Cold War, the strong trend toward democratic ideals among all nations, the emergence of so many problems that can best be met by collective action, all these things enable the United Nations at this 50 year point finally to fulfill the promise of its founders. But if we want the UN to do so, we must face the fact that for all its successes and all its possibilities, it does not work as well as it should. The United Nations must be reformed. In this age of relentless change, successful governments and corporations are constantly reducing their bureaucracies, setting clearer priorities, focusing on targeted results. In the United States, we have eliminated hundreds of programs, thousands of regulations. We're reducing our government to its smallest size since President Kennedy served here, while increasing our efforts in areas most critical to our future. The UN must take similar steps. Over the years, it has grown too bloated, too often encouraging duplication and spending resources on meetings rather than results. As its board of directors, all of us, we, the member states, must create a UN that is more flexible, that operates more rapidly, that wastes less and produces more, and most importantly, that inspires confidence among our governments and our people. We must consider major structural changes. The United Nations simply does not need a separate agency with its own acronym, stationery, and bureaucracy for every problem. The new UN must peel off what doesn't work and get behind what will. We must also realize, in particular, the limits to peacekeeping and not ask the blue helmets to undertake missions they cannot be expected to handle. Peacekeeping can only succeed when the parties to a conflict understand they cannot profit from war. We have too often asked our peacekeepers to work miracles, while denying them the military and political support required, and the modern command and control systems they need to do their job as safely and effectively as possible. Today's UN must be ready to handle tomorrow's challenges. Those of us who most respect the UN must lead the charge of reform. Not all the critics of today's United Nations are isolationists. Many are supporters who gladly would pay for the UN's essential work if they were convinced their money was being well spent. But I pledge to all of you, as we work together to improve the United Nations, I will continue to work to see that the United States takes the lead in paying its fair share of our common load. [applause] Meanwhile, we must all remember that the United Nations is a reflection of the world it represents, therefore, it will remain far from perfect. It will not be able to solve all problems, but even those it cannot solve, it may well be able to limit in terms of the scope and reach of the problem, and it may well be able to limit the loss of human life until the time for solution comes. So just as withdrawing from the world is impossible, turning our backs on the UN is no solution. It would be short-sighted and self-destructive. It would strengthen the forces of global disintegration. It would threaten the security, the interest, and the values of the American people. So I say especially to the opponents of the United Nations here in the United States, turning our back on the UN and going it alone will lead to far more economic, political, and military burdens on our people in the future and would ignore the lessons of our own history. [applause] Instead, on this 50th anniversary of the charter signing, let us renew our vow to live together as good neighbors, and let us agree on a new United Nations agenda to increase confidence and ensure support for the United Nations and to advance peace and prosperity for the next 50 years.
MR. LEHRER: Back in Washington, the Republican-controlled Congress is taking action to reduce U.S. contributions to the United Nations. The House of Representatives has already voted to do so, and the Senate is expected to take up the matter after its 4th of July recess. FOCUS - DEFINING TERMS
MS. FARNSWORTH: Next tonight, a cut is a cut is a cut. Or is it? Paul Solman is our guide to defining the terms of the budget debate.
REP. JOHN KASICH, Chairman, House Budget Committee: [on floor] We not only give you tax relief --
PAUL SOLMAN: As the budget battle has continued to rage on Capitol Hill, a number of definitional disputes have arisen, even here on the NewsHour.
REP. JOHN KASICH; [June 14] We are not cutting Medicare or Medicaid, and the administration has got to get up with the language. We are slowing the growth of Medicare. We're going to go from $900 plus billion to $1.6 trillion over the next seven years, and some people want to grow to $1.8 trillion. Now, you want to call that a cut, I guess, you know, you can call it that, but it's, it's false.
LAURA TYSON, National Economic Council: There are ways to achieve savings in these programs. You can call it achieve savings; you can call it cut. But the amount of savings depends upon reforming not just those programs but the private health system, the private health insurance system in which those programs function.
MR. LEHRER: Does the President's position on this mean that Medicare, Medicaid, whatever you call it, cutting, cutting the costs or cutting the increase, whatever, that it is off the political table?
MR. SOLMAN: Cuts or increases, the debt or the deficit? The terms have been flying by fast and furious, begging for a few simple clarifications, and we thought we knew just the man for the job.
JOHN DRISCOLL: [1990] Now, remember, you're the ones that told me that the government should balance its budget. You take a shot at it.
MR. SOLMAN: Five years ago, John Driscoll, an especially inventive high school teacher in Fairfax, Virginia, had invited us to class to see how his kids were actually trying to lower the deficit so that as adults, they wouldn't get stuck with a national debt which then stood at an imposing $3 trillion. With deficit cutting now the talk of the town and so much of the talk confusing, we revisited Fairfax, having challenged Driscoll and his current class to clear up a few key sources of confusion.
JOHN DRISCOLL: Good to see you.
MR. SOLMAN: And to see you.
JOHN DRISCOLL: I haven't seen you in, what, $1 1/2 trillion. [Solman laughing]
MR. SOLMAN: This year's economics class was also deficit savvy and had split up to prepare a series of skits on different aspects of the issue.
ED BURRIER: The government's trying with their clamp down, they're trying to backload the budget.
MR. SOLMAN: And the moral of the very first skit was as basic as it is important -- the distinction between the national debt and the budget deficit. So what's the difference between the debt and the deficit?
ED BURRIER: The purpose of our skit is going to be to show the difference between the debt and the deficit. The beach ball is a representation of the national debt. The 15 seconds of air that the Deficit Man puts into the beach ball indicates the deficit for one fiscal year. Right now, the ball is flat, which indicates no national debt.
MR. SOLMAN: Now, the last time the United States had no national debt at all was early in the Washington administration, some 200 years ago. In most years since, we've been pumping up the debt with annual doses of deficit.
MR. SOLMAN: This is the deficit between what we took in in revenues and what we spent as a government.
ED BURRIER: The government spent for one year.
MR. SOLMAN: And so he's -- the air he's blowing in represents the one year's worth of deficit?
ED BURRIER: This is one year worth of the deficit into the debt.
MR. SOLMAN: Away flies Deficit Man now that one year is over to signify that the deficit is an annual event. The debt, by contrast, is cumulative.
ED BURRIER: Now, Deficit Man will fly back after one year, and he is now reenergized and ready to put more deficit into the debt.
MR. SOLMAN: So now another year's gone by, another year's worth of deficit.
ED BURRIER: Another year's worth.
MR. SOLMAN: And the point of this illustration is --
ED BURRIER: Just to keep on showing that even though the deficit goes back to zero, the debt just keeps on growing and growing.
MR. SOLMAN: So even if you stop adding to the deficit, i.e., we balance the budget, no more deficits, the debt remains?
MR. SOLMAN: Now this may seem like child's play, but the debt- deficit distinction is actually one of the most frequently asked budget questions, according to Price Waterhouse's Stan Collender, who gives more than 100 speeches a year on the subject.
STAN COLLENDER, Price Waterhouse: It's a very understandable kind of problem because, one, they both start with d-e, but two, they're difficult concepts to understand. Most people don't realize that even if we balance the budget, there will still be this huge debt that has to be paid off, or may never be paid off, but they'll still be paying interest on. People think that by balancing the budget the problem will go away. Well, that's not true. You'd have to run a surplus to pay off the deficit, and it's not clear that the political system could ever stand for that for any length of time.
MR. SOLMAN: Ah, running a budget surplus. It has happened in American history but only twice in the past 35 years. The kids' analogy: Running a surplus is like sucking air out of the debt balloon.
ED BURRIER: You see, this is next to impossible to suck out the air because the government will never create a surplus of revenue.
MR. SOLMAN: It's not impossible?
KEVIN FRIEDMAN: Oh, no. I could suck air out, but it would just be mighty hard, mighty hard.
MR. SOLMAN: Okay. Bottom line. The deficit or surplus is annual. The debt is the sum total of all past deficits, and with that, it's on to clarification No. 2, which concerns a frequent criticism of the proposed deficit cuts, that they'll never get made because they're backloaded, put off into the future. And so question No. 2: What is backloading? The kids chose to dramatize this explanation in the school's exercise room. To them, cutting the deficit was kind of like losing weight.
COLIN KRAUCUNAS: [student in skit] Hi. I'm a weight trainer here. What can I do for you?
ROBBIE BURTON: [student in skit] Well, my name is Robbie, and I'm going to be going off to college in seven weeks, and I want to lose 30 pounds, you know, because I need to look good for the ladies.
COLIN KRAUCUNAS: Ah, yeah. I had a guy earlier today who just wanted the same thing. You see, I developed this plan for him.
MR. SOLMAN: The plan, in brief, was to lose steadily, roughly four pounds every week.
ROBBIE BURTON: I didn't want to do it like that. I wanted to do it more like, you know, about one pound the first week, two the second, until about the fifth week, and then lose about twenty, twenty-five pounds in the last three weeks.
COLIN KRAUCUNAS: Okay. Well, why don't I get you started here.
MR. SOLMAN: Now, if you take the backloading approach to weight loss, your early efforts aren't going to be too taxing.
COLIN KRAUCUNAS: No, not that one [large weight]. That one's for the seventh week. You start off with this. That's your one-pound weight.
ROBBIE BURTON: Lifting weight.
COLIN KRAUCUNAS: Come on. Feel the burn. Come on. You got to lose that first calorie. Keep it going. Keep your arms up. Come on.
MR. SOLMAN: Okay. Now, what is this illustrating?
JASON BURGE: [student] This is showing how our government operates as far as it's taken the -- backloading the budget plans. Under the new proposed budget plans, 65 percent of the cuts come the last three years, 45 percent of those cuts coming the last two years.
MR. SOLMAN: So in cutting the deficit, it's like losing weight, and you put off the really hard work until the end.
JASON BURGE: Hard stuff till the end.
MR. SOLMAN: Budget expert Stan Collender liked the skit but thinks some backloading is to be expected.
STAN COLLENDER: Look, you would always like to see as much of it up front as you possibly could, but without a tax increase that brings in a lot of revenues very quickly, the likelihood of getting a lot of very early deficit reduction, just given the nature of the federal budget, is very small.
MR. SOLMAN: But you're not worried that cuts won't be made down the line?
STAN COLLENDER: Well, I'm always worried when you're talking about something seven years down the road in the federal budget. It's just impossible to predict what the uncertainties are going to be and how they're going to play out. I feel better about it now than I have in a long time only because the budget process has worked a lot better than anyone thought it was going to.
MR. SOLMAN: Back at the high school, it was time for lunch. The overall population seemed pretty laid back, what with the school year coming to an end, but for John Driscoll's class, lunch was just another opportunity to answer another budget question. Is Congress proposing budget cuts or cuts in budget increases?
MR. SOLMAN: So, now what are you demonstrating here?
JOHN DRISCOLL: Well, the problem here is: How do you demonstrate an increase in spending is going to actually be called a cut? And the way we did it basically was to have two groups for lunch. Group one here was given $45 to buy lunch or $5 each.
MR. SOLMAN: Because there are nine of them.
JOHN DRISCOLL: Eight of them and me is nine. Group two here, there are 14 of them plus you, makes 15.
MR. SOLMAN: Okay, 15.
JOHN DRISCOLL: They got $60.
MR. SOLMAN: In other words, the larger group gets more total dollars, $60 instead of $45. This would seem to be a budget increase. But because this group has way more people, fifteen instead of nine, it would also seem to be a budget cut for each individual, since they only get $4 per person compared to the smaller group which gets $5 a head and thinks it is better off.
MR. SOLMAN: How did you do?
JOYCE CHOI: Yeah. Well, I ordered a large turkey sandwich with a large drink.
MR. SOLMAN: And 5 bucks was enough for that?
MR. SOLMAN: Okay. How about you?
SIOBAHN EGAN: I got a nice big sandwich to eat and a nice big soda, and so I don't have to share my food with anyone.
MR. SOLMAN: And you?
ADAM BROWN: I got myself a sub and a drink, $5.
MR. SOLMAN: So you all did pretty well.
MR. SOLMAN: You're satisfied. $5 apiece, pretty good. But our group only had $4 apiece. I see, so there are 15 of us, $60. So what was our strategy?
STEVE ROBERTS: We decided to go for the bulk of lunch meats, since there were fifteen people instead of nine, so it's just an assortment of various lunch meats that we can fix, and we took out the middle man.
COLIN KRAUCUNAS: We're going to make it all ourselves. So instead of paying somebody else to make it for us, we're going to make it ourselves, and we also bought the bulk drinks and food to reduce the cost.
MR. SOLMAN: So we were more efficient.
STEVE ROBERTS: Yes, cheaper.
MR. SOLMAN: Okay. Cheaper, efficient, and so does this constitute a real cut or --
COLIN KRAUCUNAS: It just forced us to be more efficient.
MR. SOLMAN: Okay. And so that's what you guys think. And what about you guys, do you think that's right?
JOYCE CHOI: No, because they have less money per person to spend on for their lunch.
MR. SOLMAN: So for you, this is a cut?
STUDENTS IN GROUP TWO: Can we open the pickles?
MR. SOLMAN: Yes, please go right ahead. As in class, so in Congress. In the real life budget debate, there were various categories of spending in which the money would increase, a point made by many Republicans, but many Democrats counter: What kind of an increase is it if it doesn't cover a growing number of recipients and inflation? It's a cold cut, they contend, no matter how efficiently you say you're going to spend the money.
STAN COLLENDER: Some people say we can accomplish more with buying cooperatives, like for Medicare, where we can put people in, get management efficiencies, that they will still get fed, but it won't cost as much or in the case of Medicare, they will still get health care, but it won't cost as much. Now, this remains to be seen, whether it can actually be done in Medicare, but the concept is sound. But you've got to keep in mindthat there's a difference between those people who are managing the program and those people who are getting the benefits. And those people who are getting the benefits will always look at it as a reduction from what they would otherwise get if there had been no change in current law. And for them, that's the relevant statistic.
MR. SOLMAN: And so, in the end, are we talking about cuts or cuts in increases? Well, both, technically speaking. By now, the school day was winding down, but there was just enough time left for two last quickie demonstrations to provide a sort of overview. Point one is how elusive the data really are when it comes to the budget and projections about the deficit, such as the different projections President Clinton and Congress are debating as we speak.
JOHN DRISCOLL: These numbers are hard to get a handle on. As a matter of fact, they're almost as hard to track as nailing Jell-O to the walls. Maybe you'd better just hang the Jell-O on the nail. Whoops! [trying to put Jell-O on a nail]
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE STUDENT: Jell-O doesn't hang on the nail.
JOHN DRISCOLL: Well, I guess there's the point. [class laughing] Those numbers are mighty slippery.
MR. SOLMAN: And what's this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE STUDENT: A human bar graph representing the history of the national debt.
MR. SOLMAN: This human bar graph depicts how the national debt has grown and shrunk relative to the total size of the economy over the decades. Back in the Depression, for instance, our cumulative debt was a measly 15 percent of the economy. But after we borrowed heavily for World War II, it shot up to 130 percent. After the war, the economy grew so fast that the debt became a smaller and smaller percentage, down to 27 percent by the wilting of the hippie era in 1974, and today --
STEVE ROBERTS: We're higher than the Great Depression era, but we're lower than the World War II, and that may seem good, but we're not at war time, and so we shouldn't be at this high percentage.
MR. SOLMAN: Is a debt ratio of 65 percent good or bad? Well, most economists would tell these kids it depends on how wisely Uncle Sam used the money. The bad news is that we may not know the answer to that question for another few trillion dollars. The good news is that a group of high school kids has mastered some of the global truths of economics and learned how to toss them around for the benefit of us all. FINALLY - W. BURGER - J. SALK
MR. LEHRER: Finally tonight, some thoughts about two Americans who died over the weekend. Retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger died yesterday at the age of 87. On the NewsHour, in 1990, he was asked about the evolution of the court and whether it moved through liberal and conservative periods.
WARREN BURGER, Former Chief Justice: [September 1990] The Supreme Court does not get very reckless very often, and it undertakes certain concepts and tries them out and then if they aren't working, it may put limits on them. This is the nature of it in a democracy. It doesn't mean that they function as a legislative body, although sometimes they are -- the court has been so charged, and sometimes that has been correct. On the whole, particularly in this century, the Supreme Court has been, I think, functioning the way a Supreme Court ought to function.
MR. LEHRER: Our regular legal and court analyst, Stuart Taylor of the American Lawyer and Legal Times Magazine is here now. Stuart, how will Warren Burger be remembered?
STUART TAYLOR, American Lawyer Magazine: I think he'll be remembered as a pragmatic conservative who sometimes reached surprisingly liberal results, who set out to cut back the legacy of the Warren court, the liberal Warren court, particularly on rights of criminal defendants, but cut it back less than anyone had expected, who pushed out the horizons of judicial activism in some other areas, surprisingly, women's rights, abortion rights, church- state relations, bussing, and who was at least as interested in the mechanics of judicial administration and in improving the legal profession as Chief Justice of the United States, not just of the Supreme Court, as he was in the minutiae of constitutional doctrine.
MR. LEHRER: You used the word surprising a couple of times. He, he was supposed to do one thing, was he not, and he did another, at least in terms of public perception, right, political perception?
MR. TAYLOR: Yes. Remember, Richard Nixon in 1968 had campaigned in part on the idea that the Warren, liberal Warren court was letting criminal defendants off the hook with a lot of technicalities, like the Miranda decision technicality, in at least President Nixon's view, and when he appointed his first major act regarding the Supreme Court in 1969, was appointing Warren Burger as Chief Justice, and Burger came with a record that suggested he was going to cut back in that area in particular, and he did cut back somewhat, but he didn't cut back as far as had been expected or as far perhaps as he would have liked. No major Warren court precedent in any area was overruled flatly by the Burger court.
MR. LEHRER: What's the conventional wisdom on that, Stuart, that Warren Burger just did what he wanted to do, and people just miscalculated to begin with, or he got transformed here or converted here or what?
MR. TAYLOR: I think that one thing was he was no radical, as his little clip just indicated. He was a moderate, spirited man. He didn't want to do anything sudden and rash. He knew what direction he wanted to move in, but, but he didn't want to move too fast. Second, the other -- no Chief Justice can go anywhere without five votes, four votes plus his own, and the other members of the court didn't want to go as far in some lines as he did. Third, a lot of issues came up that nobody was paying attention to at the time he was appointed. The Supreme Court's biggest decision in recent history, Roe Vs. Wade, recognizing a woman's right to an abortion, was not on the radar screen when Warren Burger was inaugurated as Chief Justice, and he turned out to be in the majority on that decision.
MR. LEHRER: Is there a phrase that summarizes the Burger court, the Burger terms?
MR. TAYLOR: One phrase that's been used by a scholar named Vincent Blowsy, I believe, is "rootless activism." And --
MR. LEHRER: Rootless activism.
MR. TAYLOR: And the rootless activism of the Burger court is the phrase or the counterrevolution that wasn't is the other, and I think what's captured by that is in many ways it was a very activist court. Richard Nixon had said he would appoint strict constructionists who had practiced judicial restraint; but in a lot of areas, striking down state aid to religion, striking down lots of acts of Congress, upholding women's rights, not to be discriminated against by the government, upholding abortion rights, and lots of areas the Burger court was very activist, and in the sense that it reached out to overrule what other branches of government were doing and saying the Constitution required a different result.
MR. LEHRER: And Warren Burger, himself, turned out to be what, not, not an activist, himself, not an ideologue, more of a moderate, more of a pragmatist?
MR. TAYLOR: I'd say he was something of a pragmatic activist, certainly not an ideologue. Many of his actions greatly disappointed conservatives, who were looking, who were hoping for a more ideological approach, and who were hoping he would be more like the current Chief Justice, William Rehnquist. But he wrote the Supreme Court's decision in 1971, approving bussing as a school desegregation remedy; he wrote another decision in 1971, requiring strict separation of church and state; he wrote a decision upholding federal affirmative action, which the Supreme Court came close to overruling about a week ago. And on a number of fronts - - I don't want to overstate this -- he was no liberal -- on a number of fronts, he was a disappointment to conservatives, and, and was not nearly as scary as liberals had thought he would be.
MR. LEHRER: All right. Stuart Taylor, thank you very much.
MR. TAYLOR: Thank you.
MR. LEHRER: On Friday, Dr. Jonas Salk died in California at the age of 81. He became a national hero as the developer of the first vaccine to prevent polio in 1952. As a result of his work and that of Dr. Albert Sabin, which followed, polio has been virtually eliminated as a serious threat.
FILM SPOKESMAN: [Newsreel 1955] The Salk vaccine works. It is safe, effective, and potent.
MR. LEHRER: Our essayist, Roger Rosenblatt, is with us now. Roger, explain why Jonas Salk is seen as a hero.
ROGER ROSENBLATT: Well, on the basic level, he saved a lot of lives. If you think of diseases as context of war, he saved lives in a war against a disease, the effects of which everybody in the era before 1952, '53, when he was working on his vaccine, can remember painfully. The other thing is that he, he removed fear, not just the disease which would be something in itself, monumental in itself, but the great fear that attended the disease that hit children, and parents, you will remember as I remember, were terrified of children going to swimming pools, public swimming pools at the time or anyplace where the virus would be contracted. And those awful pictures of iron lungs and children in braces, all of that's gone because of the imagination, the scientific imagination of this man.
MR. LEHRER: But the use of this word "hero" is, is -- I mean, this was not a combat infantryman. This was not even a center fielder. I mean, this is a guy who did it with his mind, right? He did it with a process?
MR. ROSENBLATT: Yeah. Well said. And not only that, but he did it with a mind that was patient, and this is almost antithetical to American activity. It took its time. It had to build on the work of others. There was a Dr. Enders who worked at Harvard who started to deal with the cultures of viruses. That had to be done before Salk and then Sabin could do their work on the vaccines. And then after them, all vaccines started to come very quickly against rubella and flue and mumps and measles, and so forth. But all of this is process, and that kind of heroism is unusual in America, but it's the heroism of the artist who takes his time or her time with a novel or a painting and waits, and then when it emerges, it's something wonderful.
MR. LEHRER: And does it also symbolize that, Jonas Salk symbolizes the idea that we have the power, we as individuals have the power to do these wonderful things, I mean, to make these great discoveries and save all of these lives?
MR. ROSENBLATT: That's why when one focuses on the death of a great man, one really ought to focus on what the life meant, because what that life meant was that all lives could be saved by these wonderful surprises of the human mind. Right now, as we're talking about this fellow, somebody, some woman, some man, somewhere is working in the same way, in the same patient research way on AIDS or on cancer.
MR. LEHRER: Well, Salk, himself, was working on AIDS at the time of his death. He was on this program a few weeks ago talking about that very thing.
MR. ROSENBLATT: Exactly. He -- he regarded his life as a continuum, and that he would go, and he'd go away, and he'd go quietly into his lab, and then he'd emerge, he hoped, one day -- it didn't happen to him but it'll happen to somebody perhaps of what he did with a cure for AIDS or maybe a cure for the very heart disease of which he died.
MR. LEHRER: Yeah. And the solitariness of his -- of his heroism is also part of this, is it not? He did it -- he did it by himself in a way.
MR. ROSENBLATT: It's why we never are sure what history means. You can ask people, what was the most important event of the early 50's, was it the Eisenhower administration, was it the testing of the H-bomb, was it Korea, or was it this, the discovery of this vaccine? Similarly, you'd ask, what was the most important event for people, was it World War II, or the discovery of penicillin? If you're counting lives, lives saved, then you'd have to say these men are heroes.
MR. LEHRER: Roger Rosenblatt, thank you. RECAP
MS. FARNSWORTH: Again, the major stories of this Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that student athletes can be forced to take drug tests even if they are not suspected drug users, and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak escaped an assassination attempt in Ethiopia. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. Good night, Jim.
MR. LEHRER: Good night, Elizabeth. We'll see you tomorrow night. I'm Jim Lehrer. Thank you and good night.
The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour
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Episode Description
This episode's headline: Democracy at Work?; Happy Birthday; Defining Terms; Finally - W. Burger- J. Salk. The guests include BRIAN ATWOOD, Administrator, USAID; REP. PORTER GOSS, [R] Florida; JEAN CASIMIR, Ambassador, Haiti; RAYMOND JOSEPH, Haiti Observateur; BOUTROS BOUTROS-GHALI, UN Secretary General; MADELEINE ALBRIGHT; PRESIDENT CLINTON; STUART TAYLOR, American Lawyer Magazine; ROGER ROSENBLATT; CORRESPONDENT: PAUL SOLMAN. Byline: In New York: ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH; In Washington: JAMES LEHRER
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Chicago: “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour,” 1995-06-26, NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2023,
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APA: The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. Boston, MA: NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from