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reason: What's your view of recent history, especially in Iraq? Do you think the current arrangement, with Rice, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. David Petraeus, is more workable, even just from a purely managerial standpoint, than what came before?
Shultz: They had good arrangements before....
reason: What do you think of the prospect of a McCain-Rice ticket?
Shultz: Well, she's kind of ruled it out.
reason: But if she were to call you for advice on the subject, what would you say?
Shultz: She's very capable and can do just about anything. But she's expressed some interest in returning to Stanford, and that's our expectation.
reason: You were identified in The New York Times recently as part of the foreign policy debate for the heart and soul of McCain.
Shultz: I didn't know I was going to be in that story, but I'm a supporter of his.
reason: Have you had a chance to discuss any of the ideas set forth in this book on health care and entitlement programs with him?
Shultz: I think he thinks of me as a foreign policy person. I saw him recently and gave him a copy of the book, so he may look at it.
reason: The subjects you discuss in it couldn't be more timely. But how do we get these programs under control. How would you rate the positions of the candidates?
Shultz: Clinton's plan, apparently, is to force people to pay for health insurance. Obama says that he thinks the reason many people don't have health insurance isn't that they don't want it, but that they can't afford it. So I tend to agree more with that. Anybody, Republican or Democrat, can adopt some of the solutions we propose. We believe that the Social Security issue can be resolved more readily and that health care will require intermediate steps.
reason: One of the specific suggestions you make is to remove health-care tax exemptions for businesses.
Shultz: We didn't suggest that—President Bush suggested that. We mentioned various suggestions, including that idea, Milton Friedman's plan, and (Democratic Congressman) Rahm Emanuel's plan. Many of the proposals are interesting, but they're quite radical, and we didn't think a radical plan would likely succeed. Social Security is a problem that can be solved. There are various ways to do it. But it ought to get done. Nevertheless, the health of the system depends on other factors. The bigger the economic pie, the easier it is to cut a slice from it.
reason: The argument being made by Elizabeth Edwards and other critics of Obama and McCain's plan is that if everyone isn't covered, the costs will just be passed on to consumers.