Dennis Kucinich Schools the Sanctimonious Left (and Breaks Their Heart)

You wouldn't know it by listening to the freakout fest of the loud fringes on the Left and the Right against the recently signed Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010, but some pretty high-profile and credentialed liberals voted for this agreement. One of them was Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

Yesterday, in an interview with MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell, he revealed his vote for the President's tax compromise, and was refreshingly pragmatic about it.  Here's the relevant portion of the interview:



Dennis Kucinich is known far better for his ideology than for his pragmatism.  But he came through majorly for us in the health care legislation, and now on this tax deal.  And for that, I'm immensely grateful.  Let's quickly recap the part that we practical progressives have been arguing since the deal was announced, and frankly what the President patiently explained to all of us before the Left puritans delved into their non-sensical drivel about how the deal was untenable and a cave-in and how the world was going to end because of it.  Here's what Kucinich had to say -- asked how he voted, he explained thusly:
I voted for it.  But I didn't vote for it because it was a "tax compromise."  Unemployment is very high in my district in Cleveland, and I couldn't go back to my district and look at all these people who are trying to survive - not get more tax breaks so they can put more money away but who were living paycheck to paycheck before they lost their jobs, and then once having lost their jobs, they live on unemployment compensation.  How can you tell people that, "Well you know the rich are getting richer with this deal, but you know, we'll take of your problem later on after we fight that battle?"  No, I had to vote to make sure that people who are struggling to survive had the means of surviving for the next year and more.
Nail, meet hammer.  This is what the deal was about.  It was about the people who are struggling to survive, not those who already had too much.  It was about those who could not afford for the Democrats to sit happily in Congress and drag out an ideological fight - an ideological fight worth having, no doubt, but not in these terms, not on the backs of those most in need.

The truth is, you can't in good conscience tell the unemployed and the working poor: sorry, but help for you is going to have to wait while we have this big ideological fight with the Republicans.  You can't, in good conscience, tell those living on unemployment that their check would have to wait while they count the hours till their eviction notice or the dollars till they have to stop buying food for their kids.  You cannot, and the President couldn't, and Congressman Kucinich couldn't, in good conscience tell American families living paycheck to paycheck that their paychecks were going to shrink come January 1, an average of $3,000.

The biggest fallacy that played out throughout the debate was that if we didn't have the ideological fight while the American people were being held hostage that we could never have that fight.  We can, and we will.  The next two years will provide ample room to have a large scale debate about both our tax structure and our national priorities - i.e. just what the American people want to fund, and how they believe it should be paid for.  That is the much more important debate than the one between a generous estate tax provision and a more generous estate tax provision, and that between a 35% vs. a 39.6% top tax rate for a temporary period of two years.

Before I close, I'd also like to note that Congressman Kucinich dismissed the suggestion that he'd mount a primary challenge against the President, saying, "I'm not a candidate."  Oh no.  The professional poutrage artists must be heartbroken.  I guess now the pompous, sanctimonious Left will have to run a Wreck Listed Diary (TM) from Daily Kos and run it in the Iowa caucuses.  I'm crushed, I tells ya.