Dennis Kucinich is a Democratic congressman and presidential also-ran. Kucinich graduated from Case Western Reserve University in 1973 with a BA and an MA in speech and communication. He began his political career early: he was elected to the Cleveland City Council at 23, and became mayor in 1977 at the age of 31. After spending much of the 1980's out of government, Kucinich was elected to Congress in 1996; he is currently in his sixth term. In Congress, Kucinich has a staunchly liberal and anti-war record. He is a strong advocate of national health care, clean energy, and an immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. Kucinich even brought articles of impeachment against Vice-President Dick Cheney, though the bill was killed before it could reach the House floor. Kucinich first ran for president in 2004; he ran again in 2008. In 2003, he received the Gandhi Peace Award, bestowed by the Quaker organization Promoting Enduring Peace. Kucinich is the author of a memoir, The Courage to Survive, as well as a collection of speeches, A Prayer for America.
Question: What element of the Democratic platform do you most disagree with?
Dennis Kucinich: You know I smile because I’m probably the only one running for president who took an issue to the democratic platform personally and asked them to act on it. And let me tell you what the issue was: healthcare. In 2000, I took this proposal for a not-for-profit healthcare system – Medicare for all – to the democratic platform committee. I was asked by the campaign of the presidential candidate to withdraw the proposal because it was . . . it was not favored by the insurance interests who were contributing mightily to the Democratic party. And virtually the same thing happened in 2004. So here’s the Democratic party, these candidates are saying “universal healthcare” like it’s some kind of mantra. “Universal healthcare, universal healthcare.” And people go, “Oh, they’re for me. They’re gonna give me universal healthcare.” The insurance companies want universal healthcare as long as the government is subsidizing them so they can maintain their . . . their holding their privileged profit position. I’m talking about no more healthcare for profit. Everyone knows these insurance companies make money not providing healthcare. Everyone knows that. So I’m saying no more for-profit healthcare; not-for-profit system; all the money goes into care for people. And then you have enough money not only for basic care, but for vision care, dental care, mental healthcare, long term care, prescription drugs – all covered 100 percent under the Kucinich program. The Democrats, noooo. They wanna protect the insurance companies.
Recorded on: 10/19/07