August 19, 2009 MSNBC
SCHULTZ: Welcome back THE Ed Show. Got some advice for the Obama White House, you dance with the one who brought you. Progressives put the president in office. All last year, they knocked on doors, raised money, got out the vote, did it all. So comments like this really burn me up. Here`s an anonymous Obama adviser quoted in the "Washington Post" today: "I don`t understand why the left of the left has decided that this is their Waterloo, said a senior White House adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. We`ve gotten to the point where health care on the left is determined by the breadth of the public option. I don`t understand how that has become the measure of whether what we achieve is health care reform."
OK, this is what`s known as a five-second cooling off period.
I wonder where the left of the left got the idea that a public option was key to health care reform.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I also strongly believe that one of the options in the exchange should be a public insurance option.
An option out there for people where the free market fails.
We should have a public plan to compete with the private plans. But, you know, these private insurance companies are always telling me what a great deal that they give to the American consumer. If it`s such a great deal, why are they worried about competing against the public plan?
We will not sign a bill that isn`t right for the American people. And I`m for the public option.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Joining me now is Congressman Dennis Kucinich, vice chair of the Progressive Caucus. Congressman, great to have you back on THE ED SHOW.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: Great to be with you,Ed.
SCHULTZ: Is the president playing this correctly? Is he patience going to pay off? Or is it time for him to get tough with Republicans, in your opinion?
KUCINICH: First of all, you raised a question about the left. And I think it is all about the left. It`s about 47 million left without insurance, about another 50 million left as uninsured. Millions left bankrupt because they can`t afford to pay hospital bills. It`s about what`s left.
I think that the president needs to go back to the drawing board actually, because the only true public option that will work is HR 676, the bill that I drafted with John Conyers, which is a single-payer, not-for- profit bill, that recognizes that one out of every three dollars in the system goes for the activities of the for-profit system. This is what the whole fight is about.
It`s about a fight over 800 billion dollars. And the insurance companies will stop at nothing to hold on to the American people`s wallet when it comes to health insurance.
SCHULTZ: So with that landscape, the way you see it and the way I see it, is the president gambling with the base that put his administration in office and also put the majorities in the House and the Senate? I mean, I get it all the time from people on the radio and e-mails and messaging, that look, they`re fed up with the niceties to the Republicans. They`re not serious about a public option, and certainly not serious about single- payer. So when does the president step up in your opinion?
KUCINICH: Well, this is bigger than the president.
SCHULTZ: But he`s the leader on this. This is his issue.
KUCINICH: It is. But I would suggest to you, Ed, that this an issue that`s even bigger than the president of the United States. What I think needs to happen is that Democrats have to go back to the people, not trying to force HR-3200 down their throats, but to listen at those town hall meetings to what people have to say about their experience with insurance companies.
Insurance companies make money not providing health care. If we hear from the people, then we can build the ground swell necessary to pass a bill.
SCHULTZ: Why are the Democrats in the Senate missing this? And why has the White House had a hard time communicating the message. The NBC poll last night very clear. Four big lies, more than 50 percent of the American people believe the Republican lives being thrown out there. Somebody is not saying straight talk to the American people on where they stand from the White House.
KUCINICH: Well, the message has been mishandled. I think that is something many people can agree on. When you see that, you don`t go forward into the breech. You step back and you start over. You know what? There`s time to start over without any embarrassment, by listening to what the American people are saying, by seeing the confusion that`s considerable, and looking at the interest groups that are trying to tilt the balance against the public interest.
I think that we need to go back to the people in town hall meetings everywhere, where we hear about people`s experience with the insurance companies. No one is talking about that.
SCHULTZ: What about this political strategy: don`t do health care reform; blame the Republicans; they`re the obstructionists; let`s go back to the polls in the midterm. What do you think?
KUCINICH: I don`t know. I mean, there`s an underlying issue here of the economy. People are out of work. They`re losing their homes, their jobs, their investments. That goes into this mix. There`s a lot of frustrated people out there. They have every right to be frustrated. They see Wall Street getting hundreds of billions, even trillions of dollars in bail outs, and they`re wondering, hey, where`s my bailout? What`s in it for me?
This health care --
SCHULTZ: Is a bailout. To a lot of Americans, it`s a big help.
KUCINICH: Well, there is a bailout for insurance companies, since government is subsidizing insurance companies, and for the pharmaceutical company, Ed, who are getting the gift of a ten-year extension to the Medicare Part D, taking the caps off the price controls, and drug companies don`t have to worry about the drug reportation, which would lower costs.
So this is a giveaway to private insurance and pharmaceutical interests. And frankly, I don`t think -- I think we should be finished with government subsidizing the private sector.
SCHULTZ: Amen. Congressman, great to have you on. You`re a great fighter for the people. I appreciate it. I know things are a heck of a lot better in the House than they are in the Senate when it comes to understanding all of this.
KUCINICH: Thanks, Ed. Kucinich.US, check it out.
SCHULTZ: You bet, my man. Thank you.