When the original vote was taken, I assumed that from-the-left opponents of the health care bill would be brought around if their vote was needed on final passage. But Dennis Kucinich has made clear that’s not the case, that he wants to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Sarah Palin, John Boehner, and Rush Limbaugh in killing the bill. His reason:
“This bill represents a giveaway to the insurance industry,” Kucinich told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell. “$70 billion a year, and no guarantees of any control over premiums, forcing people to buy private insurance…I’m sorry, I just don’t see that this bill is the solution.”
You know who agrees with Kucinich, Boehner, and Limbaugh that the health care bill is bad? Well, that would be the health insurance industry which after signaling some initial support for reform has ultimately decided it didn’t get the giveaway it wanted and wants to fight the plan. The US Chamber of Commerce agrees with AHIP, Kucinich, Palin, Boehner, and Limbaugh. In favor of the bill, by contrast, are the AFL-CIO, the SEIU, and the NAACP.
There’s something mighty fishy about this picture. Is expansion of Medicaid a “giveaway” to insurance companies? It sounds to me like life-saving medicine for millions of poor and near-poor Americans. Is an end to premium discrimination against women a giveaway to insurance companies? Sounds like a boon to American women to me. Right now, if the company you work for is mismanaged and needs to shut down, everyone who works there not only loses their job—they also lose their health insurance. The health reform bill would change that. If Kucinich thinks that sinking this bill is going to create a magical single-payer pony arrive, then I don’t know which US Congress he’s been serving in.
Progressives should be working to pass this bill, then working to pass Grayson’s Medicare buy-in law down the road. That’s a possibly feasible path to the preferred progressive end-state that has the benefit of making things better as we go along. Kucinich’s bold defense of the status quo isn’t going to change anything.