Home > Dennis Kucinich, Health Care, President Barack Obama > Kucinich is in: because he’ll get single-payer soon enough anyway

Kucinich is in: because he’ll get single-payer soon enough anyway

It’s hard to imagine that Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) — the most liberal member of the House, at least on the issue of health care — was persuaded to vote for the health-care bill by anything more or less than the fundamental economic and systemic reality it represents: a vote for it is to flick the domino, to set off a chain of events that will ultimately lead to the single-payer vision Kucinich clings to.

He told the Wall Street Journal that the president’s visit “underscored the urgency of this vote,” and that the president committed “to continue to work with me on the broad concerns that I have.”

It’s hard to imagine that the president didn’t convey to Mr. Kucinich that we’ll get there. “Look, Dennis,” he may have said, “let me be clear. This is just a big step toward the goal you and I both share. But failure to pass this bill leaves us where we are today — with nothing, with a broken health-care system. Let me be clear again. Wouldn’t you rather vote for a bill that slowly but surely eats at the private health-care system so that a move toward universal, government-run care, by default, becomes our only remaining option? I would. Vote with me. Thanks for letting me be clear.”

Matter of fact, Kucinich told the Journal, this bill is “a defining moment for whether or not we’ll have any opportunity to move off square one on health care.” This is square one? Wait, what? I thought this was fundamental reform? I thought this was the reform we’ve been waiting for? That we don’t have time for small fixes? If it’s square one, then what’s square two? Great question. Almost inevitably: the shift of all 305 million Americans — who soon, if this bill passes, won’t be able to afford private insurance — into a Medicaid-for-all program.

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I’m probably making a mountain of this molehill, but the article says Kucinich consulted the president, Pelosi, his wife, and close friends, before deciding ultimately to vote for this bill. Good politicians — or at least, politicians who have to worry about their jobs — at least pretend they consulted or listened to their constituents. This list of confidantes sounds more like that of a retiring NBA player or a repentant Tiger Woods — people whose careers are their own — and not that of an elected official who has to answer to the people he didn’t even think to mention when justifying his decision. Like I said, probably a minor quibble, but there it is.

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