Rep. Dennis Kucinich answers questions in our presidential mashup.

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
Sept. 12 2007 11:51 PM

Kucinich: Osama Should Not Be Assassinated

Rep. Dennis Kucinich answers questions in our presidential mashup.

The following is an unedited transcript and may contain typos or omissions. Click here for more on the presidential mashup.

Rose: Congressman Kucinich, welcome to "mashup," this online debate. Let me begin by talking about Iraq. We'll have three minutes for that. And three minutes health-care education. And three minutes for a wild card. I begin with Iraq. Gen. Petraeus has made his statement to Congress, answered questions. The president will apparently support him. Is anything the Congress can do and will do to change that strategy?

Kucinich: Well, are we forgetting something here? I mean, do we still have civilian leadership in the United States or have we torn that page out of our Constitution as well? The founders made it very clear that Congress under Article 1, Section 8 has the power of war. And Congress also has the power of the purse. Congress must tell the president now, "The war is over. Bring the troops home. Bring the equipment home. Force those mercenaries to come home. Get Halliburton out of there." I mean, Congress has the power, and they can take action now. We cannot to fund this war.

Advertisement

Rose: Why hasn't Congress done it so far? Why hasn't Congress done it so far?

Kucinich: Good question. It hasn't been—listen, Congress is afraid to take on this president. We engage in all of these phony debates about the war. The essential question of the war—does it continue to be funded? I pointed this out over and over. It does not take another vote, Charlie. It simply is for the leadership of the House to tell the president, "We're not going to give you any money. Start bringing those troops home now." And after all, isn't that what they told the American people they would do when the Democrats were elected in 2006?

Rose: If the Congress doesn't have the votes to do it and you can't get enough Republicans to support a Democratic position, what is the strategy that you would have for the American government and the American military in Iraq after the surge ends?

Kucinich: First of all, you do not—Charlie, I'll say it again. You don't need votes to end this war. The leadership has to tell the president, "No more money." But here's my strategy. It's a strategy that I articulated over four years ago. The Congress tells the president, "No more money for the war," and that we have to go out and end the war, end the occupation, have a plan to bring the troops home with a parallel process simultaneously, an international peace-keeping and security force that moves in as our troops leave. That way, Iraq's stable. But in addition to that, stop the privatization of Iraq's oil. This is a prescription to keep the war going. No partition of Iraq. We have to have a program for honest reconstruction, for a chance for reconciliation between the Shiites, the Sunnis, and the Kurds, and also for reparations to the Iraq people. But right now, what's the Bush administration doing? They're keeping the war going, they're moving towards trying to privatize Iraq's oil, they're doing everything they can to create instability in the region. The occupation is feeling the insurgency. We must end war, we must bring our troops home, and we must have a Congress that stands up to this president to make that happen.

Rose: All right, this is a useful question, and I'll go a little bit over here on Iraq and take it from somewhere else. From J.D. Younger—he says, "If the insurgents and civil war continue or intensify after implementing your respective strategy, what then for the Iraqis?"

Kucinich: Well, first of all, the plan that I have is going to lessen the conflict, because, J.D., you must realize that it is our occupation of Iraq that has fueled the insurgency. There is over a million innocent Iraqis who have died during the course of this war. We have an obligation to get out of Iraq. But we have to have it stabilized at the same time. Now, how do you do that? You go to Iran and Syria, which the Baker-Hamilton report recommended, and get their help in putting together an international peace-keeping and security force. Now, I have the plan, it's HR 1234, to stabilize Iraq, but it begins with the United States getting out. We must bring our troops home, J.D.

Rose: All right, let me turn to health care. Do you favor universal coverage for everyone without exception, and if so, how would you pay for it?

Kucinich: Well, first of all, I'm for a national health-care plan. I'm the co-author of the bill HR 676, Medicare for All. Charlie, the whole debate about universal health care has been a fraud. All these other candidates are talking about keeping the for-profit insurance companies in charge of health care in America. That's not what I'm talking about, because I realize, as the viewers do, that these private insurers make money not providing health care. And so, I'm saying no more role for them. Let the United States be like every other industrialized democracy in having a health-care plan, a national plan where we take care of our people. And we're already paying for it. We spend $2.2 trillion on health spending, but $600 billion of it goes for the activities of the for-profit system each year. I'm talking about taking that money, putting it to care for people. And suddenly, we have enough money to cover everything for all Americans, including vision care, dental care, mental health, long-term care, prescription drugs. Charlie, this is the only plan that works. And all these other candidates—you know what they're talking about? They're talking about the American people having to pay more for their health care, because the minute that you leave the insurance companies in charge, you're at their mercy with respect to premiums, co-pays, and deductibles. My plan: no more premiums, no more co-pays, no more deductibles, no more control of our health system by private insurance companies.

Rose: And it would cost how much?