Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Kucinich Comes Through

Dennis Kucinich announced today at a press conference that he would support the health care legislation when it comes to a vote.

Although he still prefers a single payer option, he has agreed to support the bill in its current form. I applaud the courageous stance he has taken to try to establish universal health care in this country. I also applaud his pragmatism in realizing that, in the current climate, that kind of health care bill would never pass this Congress. To quote his prepared remarks (from Common Dreams):

"In the past week it has become clear that the vote on the final health care bill will be very close. I take this vote with the utmost seriousness. I am quite aware of the historic fight that has lasted the better part of the last century to bring America in line with other modern democracies in providing single payer health care. I have seen the political pressure and the financial pressure being asserted to prevent a minimal recognition of this right, even within the context of a system dominated by private insurance companies.

I know I have to make a decision, not on the bill as I would like to see it, but the bill as it is. My criticisms of the legislation have been well reported. I do not retract them. I incorporate them in this statement. They still stand as legitimate and cautionary. I still have doubts about the bill. I do not think it is a first step toward anything I have supported in the past. This is not the bill I wanted to support, even as I continue efforts until the last minute to modify the bill.

However after careful discussions with the President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, Elizabeth my wife and close friends, I have decided to cast a vote in favor of the legislation. If my vote is to be counted, let it now count for passage of the bill, hopefully in the direction of comprehensive health care reform. We must include coverage for those excluded from this bill. We must free the states. We must have control over private insurance companies and the cost their very existence imposes on American families. We must strive to provide a significant place for alternative and complementary medicine, religious health science practice, and the personal responsibility aspects of health care which include diet, nutrition, and exercise.

The health care debate has been severely hampered by fear, myths, and by hyper-partisanship. The President clearly does not advocate socialism or a government takeover of health care. The fear that this legislation has engendered has deep roots, not in foreign ideology but in a lack of confidence, a timidity, mistrust and fear which post 911 America has been unable to shake.

This fear has so infected our politics, our economics and our international relations that as a nation we are losing sight of the expanded vision, the electrifying potential we caught a glimpse of with the election of Barack Obama. The transformational potential of his presidency, and of ourselves, can still be courageously summoned in ways that will reconnect America to our hopes for expanded opportunities for jobs, housing, education, peace, and yes, health care."

Thank you, Dennis. I know it wasn't easy for you to give up your ideals in order to vote for something you cannot fully support. Some may say you have caved to pressure, others may say you have sold out.

But I say you have done the right thing, the only thing you could do, in order to make sure more Americans receive the health care they deserve. It is not the end of the fight; it is only the beginning.


Sue said...

I'm so thankful and proud of Kucinich too! He is doing the right thing and I hope all dems get on board, it IS the right thing for our country! I'm so proud to be a DEMOCRAT!!

Ichabod said...


With all due respect, and I feel there should be a decent health care system, Kucinich is making a big mistake and he knows it.

He doesn't retract any of his objections.

I have a bad feeling about this one, not for me, for the people who are led to believe this may be something it is not.

I always respected Kucinich in the past, this about face surprises me.

Anonymous said...

MG, I'm with Ichabod on this one. I think he's voting with his party leadership and not necessarily with the base of the Democratic party, the majority of which want a public option or single payer system. It is a pragmatic stance, as you state, because I'm sure the President twisted his arm with the possibility of a primary challenge when he's up for re-election. It's a sad commentary on our legislative process, but this is the reality. In truth, I'm happy he agreed to vote because he's much more effective as a member of Congress than a sane voice cast into the political wilderness.

That said, I think he hit the nail on the head with his comments about post 9/11 America. He's one of the few staunchly principled progressives in the Democratic party. We need members like him now more than ever to ballast the party against the weenies like Pelosi and Reid, and loons like Stupak, who talk a good "progressive" game but always cave under pressure from the right. To paraphrase that "good" Republican, President Lincoln, "I like Kucinich. He fights."

Mauigirl said...

Sue, I'm glad too, as I said, because it's the only way we'll get something done.

Ichabod and Spartacus, I totally agree that the best thing would be to have the public option. And I also hope he will be the "voice in the wilderness" for a long time to come - and hopefully will be joined by other progressives. But with the majority of Congress not having his courage, we can only hope to accomplish a little at a time right now. My most cherished hope, and I think Kucinich's, is that progressives will continue to chip away at this legislation until it is closer to what is really needed.

amadmike1 said...

About time he came around...

Dave Dubya said...

Something is better than nothing. If this fails, there will be no advances whatsoever. Although I deeply distrust their ability to "fix" the legislation, we need to pass this. If for no other reason than to defeat the Republicans. If Republicans cannot be beaten our country is truly lost. I understand the point that it is already lost in many ways, but defeating Republicans is still the most crucial step from which to build. Bottom line.

Oso said...

I would respectfully disagree with those supporting passage of this plan.

Kucinich caved in to the pressure but his opposition to a bad bill was the right thing to do. All this bill does is close off all avenues for single payer. Now that everybody's insured we don't need single payer. So we cut that arguments legs out.

So now instead of opting out of purchasing a high deductible zero coverage policy you will be forced to purchase said policy.

Vaguely worded "pre-existing condition" exclusion prevention will almost certainly be even more vaguely worded.

In short, big win for Obama's legacy. Big win for Democrats. Obama delivered bigtime to the health insurance industry. Party of NO still gets lobbyist $ and has their insane teabag followers.

Only ones who lost are the American people. We now have even worse healthcare.

IMO it's naive to assume you can enact a piece of garbage then dress it up later. This isn't the fifties when unions were big and lobbyists were of little consequence. The situation is reversed. If anything future legislation will slash this POS further.

I don't understand why so many liberals oppose affordable healthcare. If you support this crap by definition you oppose affordable health care.

TomCat said...

Oso, I don't think your accusation is fair, my friend. As you know, I'm a single payer guy, just like you. But the Democrats did such a lousy job on this one in the beginning, they blew away any chance of getting what we want at this time. So the choice is not between this and what we want. The choice is between this and what we have now. This is an improvement, albeit a small one. But, if we don't take the opportunity to pass this now, it will be another generation before our cowardly politicians take it up again. On the other hand, if this passes, it can serve as a foundation on which we can build something closer to what we want, just as we did with both Social Security and Medicare. So please don't put words in our mouths, my friend. We want what you want. Our disagreement is over how best to get there.

WordDoc said...

Hi MG: I have to add my voice to those who object to the passage of this legislation. I can scarcely keep my primary care office open under the current state of affairs, and I cannot accept federally funded programs such as Medicare as the reimbursement does not even cover my overhead. I cannot see more people faster than I already am, but I pride myself in always keeping open same day appts. That will not be possible under the proposed changes. And that's just from a doctor's point of view much less the economic disaster that will follow the tax hikes assoicated with this entitlement program. Have you read this bill? I guess we'll have to pass it to see what's in it (per Pelosi!).

Fran said...

Dave D nailed it.
Not only do we need to move forward.... but since it has been all about the GOP shutting down Obama's plan-- we need this win to show the GOP they don;t run the place.

No doubt this is a watered down plan, in serious need of reform. But because of the reality of the system as it is-- the lobby $ legal to buy votes, the GOP playing partisan power games, the dems splintered & pandering to $$$ & re-election concerns over doing the right thing for the people.
The fact the GOP obstructed & stalled for a year & have nothing to offer... we really need to stop hoping for change & make it happen.

As for the $$$$, the cost of the bill is miniscule compared to military expenditures...
and they would have us believe they are doing us some painful favor & our human right & need to health care access is some favor they are doing us.

This is public money. For an important critical
Wall street bailouts.
Auto industry bailout/bankruptcy writeoffs.
And billions down the drain in war spending are things that should be scrutinized, and perhaps denied....
but the people's money for healthcare is proper spending, in my opinion.

Kucinich is right about getting up to speed with modern democracies.
He is also right that we have to get the topic out of the hands of for profit insurance companies.

But in the end, something is better than nothing. We have to start somewhere.

Since the topic had not been on the table for 16 years (Clinton), and of the 219 Republican members of congress, only yielded TWO votes... it is high time to get this this show on the road.

If something does not give & change, I think it would embolden all those crooks, skanks, bottomfeeder, tea bagger types who seem to have lost their humanity- traded in for money & power.


Only one strange thing, Kucinich did not mention his constituents as a part of his decision.
He lives in a poor district-- people who are hurting & in need of health care.

I think he did the right thing.
To vote no would have been out of touch w his constituents, and inadvertently supporting the GOP w their obstructionism.

Spadoman said...

I applaud him too. He knows that there will probably always be work to be done. He's taking what he can get now and will keep working towards the best for the people.

That's the way I see it and I think he's a stand up guy. He falls right in behind Russ Feingold and the wonderful late Paul Welstone.


Mauigirl said...

WordDoc, thanks so much for your comment, it is important to hear it from a doctor's point of view. I do admit I haven't read the bill myself. From what I have read about it, I do know this bill has issues but I am still in the camp with Fran and Dave and the others who feel something is better than nothing. I have no doubt if the unfortunate ramifications that you are anticipating actually happen, that something will need to be passed to mitigate that effect. Let's keep our fingers crossed that this happens sooner rather than later. But I feel the cost of inaction at this time would be greater.

Spadoman, I agree, Kucinich is one of those real stand-up guys. I wish there were more like him in Congress.

libhom said...

I feel so stupid for ever trusting Kucinich. His sellout for HMO/health insurer campaign contributions was depressing, to put it mildly. How could he be so cruel as to support fining people for not being able to support health insurance and slashing Medicare? He knew exactly what was in the bill and how evil it was (and still is), but he supported it anyway in return for the HMO/health insurer money Obama offered him on Air Force One.

There isn't a "Democrat" left who can be trusted.