Dennis Kucinich runs for the hills

In his State of the Union address to Congress on Wednesday night, President Obama urged Democrats not to run for the hills.  And of course, our darling Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) runs for the hills.  Appearing on MSNBC's The Ed Show yesterday, Kucinich presented the idea that Congress should hit the pause button on health care, seeming to say that Congress can only tackle jobs or health care, but not both simultaneously.

I will let you watch first, and then discuss.


Let's start with what Kucinich starts with.
In my own personal opinion, Ed, the Senate bill is a non starter. 
Well, thank you very much for your concern about the Senate bill, Dennis. If the Congressional record is correct, the bill that the House passed was also a non-starter for you.  You voted against it.
We should pay attention to what happened in Massachusetts, take a deep breath, take a step back, create millions of jobs, regain the confidence of the American people, and then come back with a bill that the President apparently asked for last night, which is Medicare for All.  And I think that we need to take this step back, though.  If we go forward into the breach here, we're risking further loss of confidence of the American people.
So the lesson from Massachusetts is to "take a step back."  Not to redouble our efforts, not to push through our agenda so people can see who is on their side, but to "take a step back."  Never mind that Dennis thinks MA was a referendum on the health care bill (supposedly, the MA voters hated the Senate bill so much, they made sure that the House has to pass that bill to get any reform at all).  Never mind that the small business tax credits immediately available through the Senate health care bill will help those workers get health insurance.  Has Congressman Kucinich forgotten that health care costs are one of the factors that squeeze small business and keep them from creating new jobs?  Never even mind that according to Speaker Pelosi, the health care bill will create 4 million jobs.  A lot of that, I reckon, would be due to the massive expansion of the Community Health Centers ($10 billion worth) thanks to Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.  Congressman Kucinich has this bizarre notion that if Congress is to work on jobs, it cannot also pass a health care bill.  And that's not true.  Congress can, and must, walk and chew gum at the same time.

You know what will lose us more confidence of the American people, Congressman?  If we give up when the going gets tough, that will tell the American people that the Democrats don't have the guts to govern.  If we give up on health care after coming so close because MA elected a Republican, that will tell the American people we don't deserve to govern.  Never mind the loss of confidence of the American people.  If we back down or turn our attention elsewhere, indeed, we will have proven that we are too cowardly to stand our ground.
I'll say it again, Ed.  In this political climate, I think we have to be aware of what happened in Massachusetts, and it's demonstration that the American people fell that this bill is too complex, and it was not representing their interests.  Let's pull back, pass a big jobs bill, and then come back with a health care bill that really would represent a challenge to established insurance companies here.  I think people would support it.  But first they want to see, can we deliver on jobs?  And we should be able to do that.
Ahem, Dennis, the House has already passed a $174 billion jobs bill.  I'd say that's a pretty big jobs bill.

I don't understand why Massachusetts has got Dennis Kucinich, the supposed fearless leader of the Real Left (TM) so spooked.  Snap out of it, Congressman!  We should put health care on the back burner because of Scott Brown?  Is that it?  I remind you once again that the House has already passed a jobs bill.  Another jobs bill, if need be, can be pushed through with relatively little time in the House.  But health care is proving to be far more difficult, and Congress needs to stay on it until it's done.   And speaking of political realities, Congressman, putting health care on the back burner now is the political equivalent to signing its death warrant.

Let me also say that I find this practice of pitting jobs against health care - presenting them as one at a time choice - abhorrent, anti-liberal, divisive, and most assuredly a right wing talking point.  For the whole of last year, Republicans have accused the President of losing focus on jobs and working on health care instead.  They have disregarded the Administration's efforts on behalf of the American people to save jobs through the Recovery Act, to stabilize the financial markets and salvage American auto industry - all of which kept us from an economic cataclysm.  This frame of arguments - pitting Americans who are going bankrupt because they can't pay their Medical bills against Americans who are losing their home because they lost their jobs - is a divisive conservative right wing tactic, and now Dennis Kucinich has adopted that meme.  Shameful.
But when we understand that this bill that we were looking at coming out of the Senate would have taxed people's health care plans, would have created a monopoly for insurance industries, gave them protection against anti-trust laws, this is wrong.
Oh, so you don't like the Senate bill because it has the Cadillac tax, does not create a government-run option for people to buy into so they don't have to buy insurance from the private market, and because it doesn't repeal the anti-trust exemption of the health insurance companies.  I see.  So remind us again why you voted against the House bill that did not have a Cadillac tax (it had the millionaire's tax), had a public option so the insurance companies wouldn't be the only entities one can buy insurance from, and repealed the anti-trust exemption?  Once again, thanks a lot for your concern.

We cannot give up on, scale back, or delay health care reform.  So once again, a call to action: Call your member of the House.  Tell them politely but firmly that you expect your member to vote for the Senate health care bill as is so that something can be on the President's desk to sign.  Then urge them to follow up with a reconciliation bill to fix it (find your member at House.gov).  Then call your Senators (find your Senators on Senate.gov).  Tell them you expect them to follow through on the House's reconciliation bill.  Call Harry Reid also if you like, as well as Speaker Pelosi.  Here are the toll-free numbers for the Capitol Switchboard (call and ask for your member):
  • 1-866-338-1015
  • 1-866-220-0044
  • 1-866-311-3405
I don't mind us working on other items as well. But we cannot put health care on the backburner. Pass the damn bill!  Don't walk away from reform now:






Before I finish, yes, I am aware that apparent Dennis Kucinich agrees with Rahm Emanual. Two observations about that: first, I have never thought much of Rahm Emanuel. Never liked him, and disagree with him on this. Second, at least the White House isn't yammering about how we have to look at the MA loss as a referendum on health care and thus trade lightly.

And lastly, for all of you that think Kucinich is just such a principled guy, I will just remind you a couple of things:
  • This guy used to be anti-choice until he ran for president in the 2003-04 cycle.
  • This is the same guy who, in 2004, made a deal to have his Iowa caucus goers join those of John Edwards, at the time the most fervent defender of the Iraq war among the Democratic contenders for President that year.
So much for principle.