Friday, October 30, 2009

Greatest American Hero

**Click here to listen to my interview with Congressman Dennis Kucinich**

The fight for real health care reform is far, very far from over!

We political junkies know who the true heroes are. They've been in the fight for a long time, knowing that slow and steady wins the race.

Then there are the newcomers, the flashes in the proverbial pans.

Not that there's anything wrong with them. Congressman Alan Grayson became an overnight sensation, earning the hearts and dollars of progressive democrats, and the ire of the right wing media after standing up on the floor of the House and blowing the lid off of the GOP health care plan: "Don't get sick. And if you do get sick, Die Quickly!"

It wasn't even so much what he said; it was more just simply the fact that he said it!

Democrats are not used to any of our elected officials actually standing up and speaking truth to power.

Anthony Weiner has become another regular on all of the MSNBC shows. He's been calling for a floor vote in the House on his amendment, which would basically replace the House health care bill with the single payer bill HR 676. I know he has the best of intentions, yet he probably should have consulted with the authors of HR 676.

John Conyers and Dennis Kucinich wrote that bill. And Dennis Kucinich has been working diligently for YEARS, pushing for real health care reform in the US. In fact, when you visit, the masthead reads "Whatever it takes, for as long as it takes. Health Care For All" followed by a petition you can sign "establishing health care as a civil right."

When I asked him a few months ago about Congressman Weiner's efforts to resurrect HR 676, Kucinich was less than enthusiastic. Of course, being the kind of guy he is, he'd never criticize his colleague and only spoke of him glowingly. But he did assert that the Weiner amendment would not pass; moreover it would suffer a crushing defeat in a floor vote.

Weiner was publicly pushing this bill, which stood no chance in hell of winning, when he could have joined with Kucinch in a slow, steady movement toward actual reform. Instead, Weiner's flash served to undermine the Kucinich amendment, which was the one bright shining element in the massive HR 3200.

The Kucinich Amendment is brilliant. It appeals to Republicans because it's all about state's rights. And it's our best chance to get a single payer health care system in this country, in that it allows us to achieve it in the same way Canada was able to. State by state to their province by province.

The Kucinch Amendment would allow states to set up single-payer health care systems modeled after Medicare, passed the House Education and Labor Committee in July, but was stripped out by Democratic leaders as they pieced together their final bill from the various committee proposals.

Congressman Kucinich today sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi urging her to reinstate his amendment. According to the Washington Independent, the letter was also signed by the House Progressive Caucus leadership, including Democratic Reps John Conyers (Mich.), Eric Massa (N.Y.), Neil Abercrombie (Hawaii), Janice Schakowsky (Ill.), Lynn Woolsey (Calif.) and Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.)

We all must join the effort. You can contact Nancy Pelosi's office, and your congressional representative, and insist that the Kucinich Amendment be reinstated too.

You can send Nancy Pelosi a message from her website, using the very handy form here. And you can call her office at 202-225-0100.

If you don't know who your Congressman is, just click here and put your zip code in the upper left hand corner to find out and get his or her contact information.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich will be my special guest tonight at midnight ET on Air America radio. I hope you'll join me tonight to listen to our greatest American hero.