A full transcript of the above interview, conducted by Truthdig Managing Editor Peter Z. Scheer and podcast producer Joshua Scheer, begins on Page 2.
By Narda Zacchino
Congressman Dennis Kucinich predicted Saturday that the health reform bill will win passage in the House on Sunday by just one vote. In an exclusive interview with Truthdig minutes after President Obama personally lobbied the Democratic caucus, Kucinich likened the bill to “the political equivalent of castor oil” but said he has been working to get other holdout Democrats to vote for it.
“The moment I made my decision, I knew I would be helpful with other members who have struggled with the contradictions of the bill ... who knew how badly flawed the bill is and still wanted to see if there was any way to justify voting for it,” Kucinich said.
He said President Obama made a “powerful presentation to the caucus ... where he outlined what he felt are the major benefits of the bill, and he also talked about ‘the moment’ that we have here. And I think that tomorrow at this time, we should be on our way to seeing the bill passed.”
Kucinich, long a proponent for Medicare coverage for all Americans or at least a public insurance option, had vowed not to vote for the bill without those reforms, and just days ago was considered a firm “no.”
After riding aboard Air Force One with Obama on a visit to the congressman’s home state of Ohio on March 17, he switched his opposition to the measure. On Saturday, he said he did so for several reasons: out of concern for how a defeat would impact the Obama presidency, responding to his constituents, and primarily to remain a strong voice in the continuing debate for further health care reform.
“I understood that any opportunity we have to impact health care policy after this bill is really going to depend on whether the bill passes or not. If the bill goes down, we may not see another opportunity in our lifetime to have a serious discussion about expanding health care, about redefining it, about transforming it, about making it more comprehensive.” He noted that serious discussion about reform last took place in Congress 16 years ago during the Clinton presidency.
When he saw no support from the White House or congressional leaders for the reforms he advocated and was told that he could sink the bill, he asked rhetorically, “Then do I want to be responsible for killing the only approach to health care that’s been offered, no matter how far [off] I think it is, do I just want to stop the discussion?
“I have to look at it from the standpoint that if the vote goes down, there’s not hope for after to do anything that I want to do. Who’s going to pay attention? ... Why would anyone want to hear anything I have to say about health care if I was the deciding vote against it? ... Why would anyone want to hear about the needs about my constituents?”
Yet in the end, “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 decision 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.”
Speaking of his constituents in Cleveland, he said many who wanted a “yes” vote from him brought him the message that “You can’t always get what you want, and when you can’t get what you want, you have to reflect maturely as to whether or not something is better than nothing. ... I have a responsibility to the people of the district that sent me here, not to cling to some ideological purity. ... But there comes a point when you have to look at the real world and say, ‘Is there anything that we can get out of here that would lead to something better?’ And that’s ultimately where I came down. ...”
Kucinich acknowledged that he is “usually the last one standing on a lot of issues” and conceded, “When you stake out a position that some see as ideologically intractable, you run the risk of marginalizing yourself. “ But on this issue, “I felt that the greater good was to be accomplished by permitting this bill to live and being part of an effort to continue to reshape health care.”
A vegan whose wife is a vegetarian, Kucinich said he talked to the president about a “missing dimension” of the health care discussion, which is “the choices that each person makes that creates health or disease; the choice of diet, the food that we eat, paying attention to nutrition.” The congressman, who has taken heat from across the political spectrum for his vote switch, scoffed at right-wing radio commentators who suggest he got “something” from Obama for his vote, other than “a firm commitment from him to work together” on these broader issues of health care.
Kucinich said he would continue to press for single-payer health plans at the state level, because not-for-profit, government-run health care is likelier to be achieved by the states.
The congressman said that his “concern about the president” is another reason he switched his vote. Although he has opposed Obama on his escalation of the war in Afghanistan, the financial industry bailouts and other issues, “the potential of his presidency is still unfolding. If this bill goes down, it also has an effect on his presidency. ... We have to be careful that we don’t cripple his ability to deal with some of the broader issues that deal with the economy and jobs, education, peace. ...
“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. 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 [in] foreign policy as well. So we’ll see what happens. But in the end, I’m just trying to do the best I can.”
Rep. Dennis Kucinich was interviewed by Truthdig Managing Editor Peter Z. Scheer and podcast producer Joshua Scheer.
Peter Scheer: This is Peter Scheer, I’m with Joshua Scheer and Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio. Dennis, you’re very much in the news this week for your switch on health care. But before we get to that, you’ve just come from a big meeting about the health care bill. Are you in the Capitol now?
Rep. Dennis Kucinich: I am. Well, I just am back in my office, but I’m in the Capitol complex in the Rayburn Building.
P.S.: And so how is the vote going?
D.K.: I think it’s going to be a very close vote. There are members who have been going back and forth on the question, it’s a tough decision for a lot of members. And the president understands that. And each of us know that this is a pivotal decision we’re making with respect to health care.
P.S.: And has the president been addressing the caucus?
D.K.: He did and he made a very powerful presentation to the caucus just moments ago, where he outlined what he felt are some of the major benefits of the bill, and he also talked about the moment that we have here. And I think that tomorrow, at this time, we should be on our way to seeing the bill passed.
P.S.: Have you been working to turn other members of the House who might have voted against the bill in favor of it?
D.K.: Yes. The moment I made my decision I knew I would be helpful with other members who have struggled with the contradictions of the bill, with other members who knew how badly flawed the bill is, and still wanted to see if there was any way they could justify voting for it, and so I’ve had many discussions with members throughout the Democratic caucus about the bill.
P.S.: Can you give us an example of something you said?
D.K.: Generally that my support for the bill wasn’t because I was celebrating its merits. I was not able to make the changes that I tried to make, and yet when it comes down to the vote, I understood that any opportunity we have to impact health care policy after this bill is really going to depend on whether the bill passes or not. If the bill goes down, we may not see another opportunity in our lifetime to have any serious discussion about expanding health care, about redefining it, about transforming it, making it more comprehensive. There are so many issues that are not addressed in this bill, and the whole debate occurs in the context of a for-profit health care system. And so there’s a lot of flaws here. But to get past the flaws ,you have to make it possible to show that you can make some progress on health care even on a bill that’s flawed.
P.S.: So the big question, congressman, a week and a half ago or so you told us that you didn’t think there was much they could do to earn your vote on this bill, and now you’re voting for the bill. And more than that, working to get other representatives to vote for it. How did you come to this decision?
D.K.: Well, I don’t retract or recant any of the criticisms I’ve made of the bill. In the end they really didn’t provide any kind of a compromise that I was looking for. I couldn’t get a public option in the bill, and I was literally the last person standing on that issue. I could not get legal protection that would free the states to pursue single-payer. And when I saw that there was absolutely no way that I was going to get anything out of the White House or anything out of the congressional leaders, specifically with respect to the two critical items that I felt were necessary in order to make this bill worth voting for, then I had to come to the conclusion, well, either the bill is going to rise or sink on my vote, and then do I want to be responsible for killing the only approach to health care that’s been offered. No matter how far [off] I think it is, do I just want to stop the discussion? And that called for some very serious thinking. And so I’m aware of all the criticisms I’ve made. I’ve been one of the foremost advocates of single-payer health care in this country in terms of anyone in Congress for the last 14 years. And I’m the co-author of the bill, H.R. 676. I ran twice for president on a single-payer platform. I carried single-payer proposals to national platform committee meanings. I’ve been on the floor to get, one time we had 92 members supporting it. I think now there are 87. The thing is, I knew this bill wasn’t single-payer. Single-payer was taken off the table. I fought for a compromise in the public option; it was so weak, but nevertheless it opened the door away from, there was opening away from the for-profit system. But this for-profit system has basically been sealed off and protected by this bill, as one of the flaws. However, when I understood that there was nothing I could do to change it, it goes back to having to make a decision whether or I wanted to be the one who would kill it, and in process stop any discussion about broader health care reform issues that must occur. I’m in a singular position here. Because if I were voting no, and I basically said, “Look, it doesn’t have what I want. It’s not the bill I want. I’m not going to vote for it,” and the bill dies, why would anyone want to hear anything I have to say about health care if I was the deciding vote against it? But why would anyone want to work with me. Why would anyone want to hear about the needs about my constituents if I had taken it upon myself to kill the bill? You can’t always get what you want and when you can’t get what you want, you have to reflect maturely as to whether or not something is better than nothing. At first I was offended of that kind of truism, but in fact many of my constituents who were calling supporting the bill began to tell me that, and in the end I’m hoping that’s true. But I’m taking another responsibility now on my shoulders now, and that is if the bill passes to fight again for expanding the meaning of health care to addressing the issues of diet, nutrition, complementary alternative medicine, and continuing to fight to allow states to have a legal right to a single-payer plan.
Joshua Scheer: Do the insurance companies then win?
D.K.: They have been successful in the sense that there’s no public option. Do they win? Those who have crafted this bill would argue that the insurance companies are, for the first time, being made responsible by having to cover people with a pre-existing condition, and having to extend coverage to families who have young people to age 26 in the household or have them on the policy. There are some reforms here, but I didn’t come at the conclusion because I said, well, there are some reforms and I’m rethinking that proposition. I have to look at it from the standpoint, if the vote goes down, there’s not hope for after to do anything that I want to do. Who’s going to pay attention?
P.S.: Sorry to interrupt. It sounds like you’re saying that you felt you came to the realization that it was your vote that would have sunk the bill, potentially. Was that expressed to you by the leadership, by the president?
D.K.: Well, it wasn’t only expressed, but it was expressed to me in many different ways, including contacts with congressional leaders and published reports that suggested that the efforts that I was making could create momentum in the direction of killing the bill. Look, I proceed on things always being mindful of what’s happening in the moment and what direction things are going. And I would liken this to driving a car and intending to go a certain route and as you’re driving you hit a roadblock. And you can try to go through the roadblock, and you can go over a cliff. Or you can take a detour and then reconnect with the direction that you ultimately want to go in. And very clearly, this is a detour, but I feel that it’s better to keep moving than to cut and go through a roadblock and rest on a principled position which I continue to hold but which is not in this bill, and which doesn’t have the support in the Congress that it needs. And so I decided to continue to fight for the things that I believe in while at the same time, having a new compromise so we can move the ball so I can keep the possession going, and to preserve the hopes of an ongoing effort towards reform. Again, if the bill goes down, forget any discussion about it. And if it passes without my support, and with my active efforts to defeat it, I’m not going to be given the chance to participate in those efforts. And this isn’t about me, ultimately. I have a responsibility to the people of the district that sent me here not to cling to some ideological purity, although I have very strong commitments and stand for economic justice, and stand for peace, and am willing to challenge groups and others. But there comes a point when you have to look at the real world and say, “Is there anything that we can get out of here that could lead to something better?” And that’s ultimately where I came down.
P.S.: Well, I think you can tell by Josh’s sniffling that he’s not entirely thrilled. You’ve gotten pressure from other groups that were disappointed with your decision. Josh, do you have anything to ask the congressman?
J.S.: I do have a quick question about the mandating of health care. I know that it’s going to take place in four years, when it’s going to be implemented. How are you going to enforce that, to make sure all Americans have health care? Is that going to be through fines?
D.K.: The bill has some penalty mechanisms in it. And I’m in a difficult position here because the letter of the bill is something that I can’t tell you that I’m excited about. I’m not. But what I see it as, the passage of it would be a breakthrough so that we can continue to work towards a more comprehensive approach. This is not a comprehensive approach; it is not the bill that I wanted. And I’m in a position where I’m either going to be instrumental in blocking any discussions down the road, or help keep something going that I don’t agree with. I’ve never really been in a situation like this that I can recall in my life, where something that I really didn’t like, that I found myself supporting in order to accomplish some better, higher good down the road.
P.S.: Do we run the risk of a situation where people like you try to improve and expand on health care coverage and health care reform and the public says, “Didn’t we already spend a year doing this? Didn’t we just do this?”
D.K.: This is something that will be the work of the rest of our lives, trying to make a health care system more just, more affordable. After the bill passes, I’ll be in touch with single-payer organizations around the country asking them, “What can I do to help their efforts at a state level?” The work of our lifetime will be to make the health care system one in which we cannot just have confidence for one in which every American is given an opportunity to take some measure of responsibility. One of the things I’ve talked about, and I talked to the president about this, too ... a missing dimension of health care, a missing dimension of discussion, is the central element of individual responsibility: of the choices that each person makes that creates health or disease; the choice of diet, the food that we eat, paying attention to nutrition. These are real choices that people make that have real consequences. That’s something that we need to have a broad discussion on, and take America in a new direction on that. And to look at things like children’s nutrition, and Michelle Obama is doing that right now, to make sure that we have a path towards complementary and alternative medicine. Because I know, from my own experience, a change in diet, a change in an approach to medicine, made all the difference in my own life. And I know it does in others, too. The responsibility that I take here is one that requires me to stay in the debate, but now I’m clearly in a position to do it, whether the bill passes or fails. Because no one can say to me that I spent my misgivings, didn’t give every opportunity for a bill to go forward, which is not within the context of a system that I approve of, but which, generally speaking and broadly speaking on health care, is an attempt to bring reform within the context of that for-profit system.
P.S.: When you were meeting with the president or the leadership, were you given any assurances about this kind of work going forward?
D.K.: The president said directly, “I give you my word that I will work with you on these issues,” meaning the broad range of issues that I just articulated, but he did not say, “Work with me on single-payer.” It’s not his cup of tea. But I do think that I have a firm commitment from him to work together on some of the broad areas of health reform, including diet, nutrition, and some of the other things I articulated, as we go down the road. There’s no question about that, that that commitment is there.
J.S.: There’s involvement, right, with your wife and Michelle Obama on eating plant foods?
D.K.: That was a Rush Limbaugh story.
J.S.: She’s supporting George Miller. He has a big thing that’s a push on healthy living?
D.K.: George Miller, Jerry Powers has a bill on nutrition. I’ve had life-long interest in this. Elizabeth is the public affairs director for the Physicians Committee on Responsible Medicine. I don’t believe she’s ever talked to Mrs. Obama about this, but I know she’s been working on that for quite some time. So Elizabeth and I share an interest in health and nutrition. I’m vegan, she’s vegetarian, and we both try to live a life that’s consistent with what we talk about.
J.S.: It’s just interesting to me. I know what you’re talking about, but it does seem like everyone talks about socialism and spending money. This seems to have more of the idea of this big government and there’s a lot of money on the line.
D.K.: What do you mean?
J.S.: A trillion ...
D.K.: Health care in America right now, Josh, approximately 2.4, 2.5 trillion dollars a year is spent on health care in America. It takes about 16 to 17 percent of our gross domestic product. [We had this wrong in our transcript. This figure has been fixed. -Ed.]
P.S.: So when people talk about the difficulty of, one of these arguments against a single-payer system is that it’s too big a part of our economy to reform health care. But isn’t that what’s so alarming?
D.K.: Actually, we’re not voting on single-payer tomorrow, to my regret, but one out of every three dollars goes for corporate profits, stock options, executive salaries, advertising, marketing, the cost of paperwork. This is part of the waste that’s inherent in a for-profit system. It’s going to take years to reconstruct that system. Single-payer saves money, it covers more people, it’s more comprehensive, but we’re not talking about that, unfortunately. We’re talking about a for-profit system and the president has made the case for reform within the context of a for-profit system. After the vote passes, I think we’ll find a clarification across the board as to what this bill is. One thing it isn’t, it’s not socialized medicine, so whatever the Rush Limbaughs of the world have tried to do to depict this as a government-run system, no, it’s not.
P.S.: Do you have a prediction for the vote?
D.K.: I think it’ll win by one vote.
P.S.: Really, it’s that close?
P.S.: While you’ve been lobbying other members to pass the bill, was there anything—you touched on this earlier—but was there anything that was expressed to you that was really an “aha” moment that made this a lesser evil? … What’s in the bill that you’re most excited about, eventually? We know what you don’t like about it.
D.K.: Yeah, I wish I could tell you that I’ve been going around saying “Oh, this is great.” No, I haven’t done that because, you know what, this, to me, is a political equivalent of castor oil. OK? Now somebody has told me, “I’ll take castor oil, I’m going to feel about it, or I’m about to find out. I’m not trying to sell the benefits of castor oil; I made a decision based on a belief that by keeping this bill alive, and passing it, we create a space for not just an ongoing discussion, but for a more comprehensive approach towards health care reform.
P.S.: You said this was one of the most difficult moments in your political life. I don’t know if that’s mischaracterizing it? ... .
D.K.: It’s a difficult moment, no question about it, because the criticisms I’ve made of this bill are well known. But not only that, it is my advocacy for health care has been for a totally different system.
P.S.: So how do you respond to these people on the left, lefty blogs, who’ve been giving you heat over this? I don’t know if that’s even been on your radar ... .
D.K.: We think that if we are responsible for killing this bill, it is unlikely that we’ll be in a position to have any influence on the debate later on. And that while I reject, I fundamentally disagree with for-profit health care, this bill brings reforms within the context of a for-profit health care system. And so I’m going to continue to work to propel reforms at a state level because I think it will be very hard to do it nationally for a long time, but I think at a state level we can achieve a breakthrough that can one day result in a national system, but we should think about this. Think about what happens. This is what I had to come down to on this, as a decision. Let’s say we defeat it. What do we do the day after? Do we go back and convince Congress that it’s worth another try on health care? It’s the best we’ve been able to do in the last few decades: a 16-year gap between the Clinton proposal and the Obama proposal. And people need to think about that. I have not in any way, shape or form abandoned my commitment to single-payer, but this is not the bill that I wanted. But as it is, the only way that I can achieve any credibility on behalf of my constituents, and those who believe in progressive politics, is to, in these circumstances, is to help this bill stay alive, and create an opportunity to be part of a close and intense reshaping of the health care system as we move forward, and I think now I am in a much harder position than I was before, frankly.
J.S.: And I think, Peter, it’s the life of a politician, because the congressman was getting attacked from the centrists, far worse by the way from the left and the right, not the right now. Now you change your position, and other people hate you. You always have someone who doesn’t like what you do.
D.K.: I’m always thinking about how does this affect people back home? I have a compass on my desk, it points north, and it reminds me where true north is, which is where my home is in Cleveland, Ohio. And when I think about the decisions that I make, I have to think about people in the neighborhoods who are just struggling to make ends meet, and what kinds of hopes they may have for the future. I know I’ve got to be very careful about the implications of the decisions I make. When you stake out a position that some see as ideologically intractable, you run the risk of marginalizing yourself. Now there are times, and I’ve really been in this position, because I’m usually the last one standing on a lot of issues, and on this one, I felt that the greater good was to be accomplished by permitting this bill to live and being part of an effort to continue to reshape health care. And people who I’ve talked to in Congress or are involved in the leadership, have expected my intention to participate in that reshaping of it. They essentially have, like it or not, brought in a partner in an endeavor to continue to reshape the nature of health care in America. And again, I don’t go back on anything I’ve said, any criticisms of the bill. But this is a moment when you’re in a pivotal position you can decide to either go forward or sit tight and hope that somehow you can reshape that opportunity to bring something else forward, and that somehow there are going to be socioeconomic pressures that will bring things forward, and Congress doesn’t necessary work that way here. And there’s one other thing that I wanted to mention. Aside from the concerns I have about my constituents, I have a concern about the president, too. President Obama and I have had difference of opinion on many, many issues, whether there are bailouts or cap-and-trade, he and I have our differences. But the potential of his presidency is still unfolding. If this bill goes down, it also has an effect on his presidency. It ruins his capacity to be an effective president. And it will have an adverse effect across the boards. now some may say, well good, there are things he won’t be able to do ... well, it’s not good, because he has to function, he’s the chief executive officer of the nation. We have to be careful that we don’t cripple his ability to deal with some of the broader issues that deal with the economy and jobs, education, peace, you know, again I reserve the right to object, to disagree with him on any and everything. But there’s a point at which you have to look at the broad implications of this pivotal decision on health care, because it’s not only about health care. It’s about a lot of other things, too. And there are lot of things that figure into my decision and that certainly was one of them.
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.
AP / Haraz N. Ghanbari
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, arrives Saturday on Capitol Hill to listen to President Barack Obama address the Democratic Caucus on health care overhaul.