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Kucinich: ‘I’m Just Trying to Do the Best I Can’
Posted on Mar 20, 2010
P.S.: Well, congressman, I don’t have to take too much of your time on a busy weekend. Thank you so much for speaking with us.
D.K.: I appreciate it. Josh? Are you there?
P.S.: Do you have any other questions?
J.S.: No, I mean ...
D.K.: Last chance.
P.S.: I mean, you were pretty bummed about it.
J.S.: Well, we let the congressman say his peace and I respectfully disagree on a political level, but that’s just me. But I’m not going to browbeat him or anything.
D.K.: You can do that. Listen, I’m inviting you to ask any other question about it. Because I trust your integrity in this as well. This is a tough decision. But you know what? If people see something in it that is ill-advised, I’m ready to listen to that too.
J.S.: I’m not a politician, you need this people and I don’t.
P.S.: Who are these people? The leadership?
J.S.: Congress. Down the line, he’s right. If he needs votes on bills, these people in power can do very bad things.
D.K.: See, I didn’t link this to anything else, by the way. I didn’t ask for it, and I didn’t get anything. It’s a really unusual position. Most times you don’t anything you don’t vote for it, right? But I’m thinking that when you look at the bigger picture here of what it means if anything labeled health care goes down and you can’t get anything, if you can’t even make a reform within a context of a for-profit system, if they seal it so tight that you can’t get in anything that provides real competition … and what you have is this irreducible, for-profit system, and they’re not even admitting reforms to that ... oh, that’s where I end up. It’s not whether somebody’s ever going to listen to a bill of mine, that’s the least of my worries. I’m concerned—can we restart a health care discussion in the Congress again. And I want to be part of it if we can, and I’m going to be part of it when we do.
J.S.: As a voter, my biggest problem with the bill is the mandate of insurance. It’s why I voted for Obama in the primary versus Hillary Clinton, because he attacked her plan which has a mandate for everybody and I don’t like the Massachusetts plan, which is a mandate, and I have serious issues with it, and I have serious issues with the president. I don’t think that you should force people to buy insurance.
D.K.: You know what? I agree with that, and I will say that it’s something else that I’ve seen in this bill that’s worth reporting, is that in my time in Congress, I have never seen a bill that was so universally criticized by its supporters as this bill. This is for land where mutually contradictory premises exist simultaneously and you call it law. And I would say that the reason, if it passes, I think it will, it’s going to pass despite the provisions that you don’t like, that I don’t like, it’s going to pass because people think this is a chance to create a new opening towards a broader type of health care reform. Now there are those who say, “Do it in this bill.” Yeah, right. Of course, that’s what I say. That’s what I said. I got a letter last year that 77 members of Congress saying we’re going to support this bill only if it has a robust public option. Well, guess what happened when the bill went to the House floor? 75 members of those members bailed. I was the only one left standing besides then-Congressman Massa of New York. And so he has left the Congress a month ago, so now I’m standing alone, holding righteously my public option, which I was never a supporter of first place because it was step away from single-payer, but here I am. Last person standing. And then the question becomes, well, what do I lead? What direction do I lead in? Do I just say, “This is a bad bill and we’re going to kill it” and then take responsibility if it goes down for all of the consequences and have people come who cheered it the next day say “Yeah, way to go” and then, a couple days later, they say “Well, what are we going to get now?” Well, it went down, we’re not going to have anything, there’s no more discussion, and they’re going to move onto other things. Or the alternative will be Eddie Goodblock. It’s a very, very tough situation. I’ll give you another analogy I was thinking about. There’s an old third-string quarterback, you go to the line of scrimmage and you’re ready to call a play. You think it’s the play you’re going to call, score a touchdown, you go to the line and look at the defense. And you know if you call the play, you’re not only going to thrown for a loss, but you may lose the game and may be injured and not play again. So what do you do? Do you call the play that you were going to call to begin with? Or are you going to say, “I’m going to call a different play” and try to do it so we still have a chance to still advance the ball. I just think that those who have supported me over the years should know that I’m not someone who backs down. But people should also know that I always had my eyes open about developments to see if there’s any danger out there. I’ll let people know about it. And the danger that I see here is that if the thing goes down, we’ll really going to be stymied. And those of us who fought hard a good part of our lives, who, if we help send it down, in the end we’ll not receive the gratitude to which we think we’re entitled. I appreciate talking to you because we’re always able to have some free-flowing discussions. I appreciate it.
P.S.: I appreciate it too, Dennis, because we know you as, of all the politicians in the country, you’re really one of principle. I was really genuinely curious because I couldn’t see a deal, and I couldn’t see what you were getting, and you were so strongly against this bill and I think that I do understand better now where you’re coming from.
D.K.: Well, l appreciate it. Some people were saying, he was on Air Force One and he sold out for a ride on Air Force One. I don’t need a big plane to make a big decision. Others say, there was some kind of vegan conspiracy, that’s what Limbaugh’s latest line, or that Elizabeth is going to get a job at the White House. She already has a job. Or that Limbaugh’s other lines is that my wife is a gazillionaire. I don’t know what a gazillionaire is, but if it means anything, anyone who has got a bank balance that goes beyond ...
P.S.: It means you have gazillions.
D.K.: Four figures every month, my wife may not qualify. But it gets to a point where things lose coherence here. And where the center is not holding anymore. And there’s a level of chaos building that actually works against principles of self-governance, so I’m hopeful that if this passes we can use this as momentum to get to a bill on a range of concerns. If it passes, maybe it means that the Obama administration can hit the reset button and work on economic policy in a way that they haven’t been able to. Maybe it will be a chance to give this presidency a boost so he can go back to help more people get jobs and more people stay in their homes and have a stronger hand in a wider range of things, not only domestically but foreign policy as well. So we’ll see what happens. But in the end, I’m just trying to do the best I can.
P.S.: Well, that’s all we can ask.
J.S.: Thanks so much, Dennis.
D.K.: Thanks, Peter. Thanks, Josh.
P.S.: Have a good day.
J.S.: Bye now.
D.K.: Take care.
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