Political positions of Dennis Kucinich

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Rep. Kucinich (D-OH)

Dennis John Kucinich (born October 8, 1946) is an American politician, a former representative of Ohio's 10th congressional district (since 1997), a former Mayor of Cleveland (1978–1979), and twice a candidate for President of the United States.[1]

Kucinich is often regarded as one of the most liberal members of the United States House of Representatives.[2][3][4] Describing his views in the 2008 Democratic Party presidential primaries, he said, "I'm from the universal-health-care wing of the Democratic Party. I'm from the Roe v. Wade-litmus-test wing of the Democratic Party. I'm from the abolish-the-death-penalty wing of the Democratic Party."[5] Dennis Kucinich has been likened to social democrats in Europe.[6]

Dennis Kucinich has also gained reputation as a pacifist. On The Daily Show with Jon Stewart he said as he ran for president in 2004 he wanted to end the idea that war is inevitable.[7] He has authored a bill to create a Department of Peace.[8]

Social issues[edit]

Abortion[edit]

Prior to 2002, Kucinich's voting record was strongly pro-life, but he currently maintains a pro-choice stance on abortion. In 1996, he was quoted as saying that "life begins at conception", and he has also voted in favor on banning partial birth abortion and preventing the transport of minors to undergo abortion procedures. However since then he has been a strong supporter of abortion rights. He said in a 2003 interview that he had a "journey" regarding the abortion issue which "caused me to break from a voting record that had not been pro-choice."[9]

Kucinich said that, as President, he would not appoint anyone to the U.S. Supreme Court who would vote to repeal the decision of Roe v. Wade.[10]

Kucinich supports a woman's right to abort, having stated that "there are circumstances in which a woman and her doctor should be allowed to make this most difficult decision without government intervention." However, he advocates minimizing the number of abortions by use of prevention techniques, including providing sexual education and health care.[11]

He is currently rated 100% by NARAL's Congressional Record on Choice, indicating a pro-choice voting record. Prior to 2003, Kucinich's NARAL rating had never been above 25% in his previous six years in Congress.[12]

Animal rights[edit]

Kucinich identifies himself as a vegan, and he is a long-time advocate of the ethical treatment of animals. He has stated that "As a necessary component of the living world, we must extend compassion to one another and to every living thing.".[13]

Civil liberties[edit]

The American Civil Liberties Union gave Kucinich a 100% rating on civil liberties for the 2006-2007 legislative session. In addition he has been given an 89% lifetime rating by the ACLU.[14]

Kucinich supports same-sex marriage and opposes the definition of marriage as "between a man and a woman".[15] Rather, he feels that all citizens deserve equal treatment under the law, and should be allowed to choose for themselves whom they want to marry. He has also voted for the expansion of hate crime laws in the United States and against banning LGBT adoption in Washington, D.C.[16]

Kucinich has opposed the USA PATRIOT Act since its inception. He voted against the act in 2001, and against its renewal in 2006. He voted for an amendment to the constitution outlawing flag burning and desecration, however he has since taken up the opposite stance and voted against a similar amendment in 2005.[17]

In 2007, Kucinich voted to require the Department of Defense to present a detailed plan for transferring prisoners out of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.[17]

D.C. statehood[edit]

Kucinich supports giving rights of state to the District of Columbia, including its own executive, legislative and judicial powers and eliminating all federal government committees and/or subcommittees that have oversight or appropriation power over the DC government.

Kucinich supports giving DC an equal and proportional voting delegation in Congress.[18]

Death penalty[edit]

Kucinich strongly opposes the death penalty. He states that because human judgments are "fallible and often wrong," we do not have the moral authority to take human life. He advocates elimination of the federal death penalty "even if unpopular" and has introduced a national moratorium on executions. He has contended that 98% of those executed have been poor.[19]

Kucinich has introduced legislation that would abolish the death penalty under federal law.[20]

Drinking age and alcohol education[edit]

About the legal drinking age, Kucinich said, "We have to have confidence in young Americans... a president who reaches out to them and talks about drinking responsibly is much better than a president who tells them 'thou shalt not' because young people will do what they do. But they're looking for leadership from a President. I'm ready to provide that leadership. Of course they should be able to drink at age 18, and they should be able to vote at age 16."[13]

Drugs[edit]

Kucinich supports marijuana decriminalization for recreational and medical users. He supports penalties for those who provide the drug to minors and endanger others through irresponsible use. He likens the ban on marijuana use to the failed Prohibition policy, which outlawed alcohol.[21]

He has stated that the "war on drugs" has failed, and that "Prison should be for people who hurt other people, not themselves."[22]

Environmental issues[edit]

Kucinich had a 100% rating during 2005 and 2006 from the League of Conservation Voters, indicating pro-environment votes.[23] He has stated that clean water is "a basic human right".[24]

Dennis Kucinich proposed a Works Green Administration modeled after Franklin D. Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration during the 2008 presidential election. The initiative would "involve millions of Americans in new energy projects including retrofitting homes with wind and solar micro technologies."[25] Kucinich has been critical of organizations like the World Trade Organization and the North American Free Trade Agreement for their environmental records.[26] In the House of Representatives Dennis Kucinich said after the BP oil spill "When we look at the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico we learn how far we must journey to reconcile with nature. The false doctrine of subduing the natural world has put us in danger of extinction, because it ultimately attacks the precondition of human existence, and because it separates us from understanding the essential interconnectedness of all life. So were lulled into distancing ourselves from the oil disaster, from its effects on the natural world, from its effects on future generations...Only when we truly understand the deep significance of the Deepwater Horizon disaster will we be prepared to take a new direction, not only with our energy policy, but with our way of life."[27]

Education[edit]

Dennis Kucinich supports universal education including free access to high quality to pre-kindergarten education beginning at age 3 for any families who want it and tuition-free colleges for many students.[28] He has called the right to high quality free education as one of America's most treasured values.

Gun ownership[edit]

Kucinich is graded "F" by the National Rifle Association, indicating a pro-gun control voting record. He also received a 100% lifetime rating from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.[29] He has introduced legislation that would ban handguns.[30]

Health care[edit]

Kucinich believes that health care is a "right in a democratic society".[31] He is a critic of the for-profit health insurance and pharmaceutical industries in the United States, and is concerned about the large number of uninsured and underinsured in the United States.[5] He contends that if the overhead related to the for-profit insurance system, such as "stock options, executive salaries, [and] advertising", were used for medically necessary care, he says, there would be enough money in the system to cover all people at no extra cost.[31]

To this end, Kucinich prefers a national health insurance program for health care reform in the United States. He is a cosponsor of HR 676, a bill to do this by extending the national insurance program for the elderly, Medicare, to all American citizens.[32] He also supports the lifting of the prohibitions on the reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada and on Medicare negotiating prescription drug prices with drug companies.[33]

Kucinich Amendment[edit]

In July 2009, the House Education and Labor Committee approved an amendment authored by Kucinich to its version of the unsuccessful America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 by a vote of 27-19, with 14 Democrats and 13 Republicans voting for it.[34] The amendment empowers the Secretary of Health and Human Services to waive the federal law that pre-empts state law on employee-related health care, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, in response to state requests.[35] It has been speculated that the amendment's bipartisan support was for its appeal to states' rights in supporting progressive legislation.[34] In the past, states attempting to enact single-payer reforms have been successfully sued and stopped under ERISA.[35] It has also been speculated that this law's passage would open up vital new avenues for promoting, and actually implementing a single-payer system for the United States, as newly unbound states would show single-payer's success, just as Saskatchewan did for Canada.[34] However, the Kucinich Amendment was stripped from the merged House bill. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that it would have violated President Obama's promise that Americans who liked their health insurance could keep it.[36]

Kucinich's healthcare vote[edit]

On November 7, 2009, Kucinich voted with 38 other Democrats (mostly Blue Dogs) and 176 Republicans against the Affordable Healthcare for America Act because he believed the bill "incentivizes the perpetuation, indeed the strengthening, of the for-profit health insurance industry, the very source of the problem."[37] In his press release for why he voted as he had, Kucinich continues, "In H.R. 3962, the government is requiring at least 21 million Americans to buy private health insurance from the very industry that causes costs to be so high, which will result in at least $70 billion in new annual revenue, much of which is coming from taxpayers. This inevitably will lead to even more costs, more subsidies, and higher profits for insurance companies — a bailout under a blue cross.... The 'robust public option' which would have offered a modicum of competition to a monopolistic industry was whittled down from an initial potential enrollment of 129 million Americans to 6 million. An amendment which would have protected the rights of states to pursue single-payer health care was stripped from the bill at the request of the Administration.... America will someday come to recognize the broad social and economic benefits of a not-for-profit, single-payer health care system, which is good for the American people and good for America’s businesses, with of course the notable exceptions being insurance and pharmaceuticals.”[37] Unlike many, if not all, of his fellow democrats who voted against the bill, Kucinich has not been the target of scorn from liberal media outlets, but has instead been well received as being a man of conviction to his goal of a single-payer system.[38] When the bill comes out of conference committee, Kucinich will have the opportunity to vote for final passage of the bill, or vote 'no' as he previously had. The bill has been differed from conference committee due to a perceived time constraint, so the House and Senate are now playing political ping-pong to create the final bill.[39] However, he changed his vote to a yes in March 2010.[40]

Immigration[edit]

Kucinich has said that "Welcoming immigrants to our shores is one of our country's vital traditions." He supports immigration reform and giving resident undocumented workers "a clear road map to legal status".[41] In 2001, Kucinich was a co-sponsor of H.R. 500, which would have given legal status to all those living in the U.S. for at least five years.[42]

Foreign policy[edit]

Israel and Palestine[edit]

Dennis Kucinich spoke in the House of Representatives opposing H. Res. 34 which would recognize Israel's right to defend itself as he claims the resolution was incomplete in examining the conflict. He said "The Israeli Army evacuated 100 Palestinians to a house, and then bombed the house, killing 30 people. They don't have bomb shelters in Gaza. Emergency workers have been blocked by the Israeli Army from reaching hundreds of injured persons. Today's Washington Post headline documents that. We all want peace, but we're not going to get peace until we recognize that there are two parties to this dispute and that we have to also review Israel's conduct as well. That path to peace has to begin with stopping the war, having a cease-fire, constructing a truce, ending the blockade, getting humanitarian assistance through to all the people, rebuilding the infrastructure of the Palestinians, rebuilding their economic possibilities, bringing Hamas and Israel together for talks, using that as the basis to the path for peace in the Middle East."[43]

Venezuela[edit]

Dennis Kucinich was the only member in the House of Representatives to condemn US interference in Venezuela's internal affairs in a letter signed by Jesse Jackson, Howard Zinn, Edward Asner, Saul Landau, Naomi Klein, Doug Henwood, and others. The letter also praising Hugo Chavez's Bolivarian Revolution said "The world knows that you are achieving something remarkable in Venezuela: you are investing your country’s vast oil wealth in ways that benefit everyone, not just small minority of well-connected elites. Over the last year your government’s literacy campaign taught one million Venezuelans to read. And today, millions of others are benefiting from the governments investment in job training, small businesses and health care...We are committed to doing what we can, as U.S. citizens, to heal those relationships and encourage Congress and the White House to see Venezuela not only as a model democracy but also as a model of how a country’s oil wealth can be used to benefit all of its people."[44]

Afghanistan[edit]

Kucinich voted in favor of going to war against Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks, but has since been an opponent of the ongoing War in Afghanistan citing costs, corruption of the Karzai government, deaths of NATO troops, deaths of innocent Afghan civilians, and the fact that occupation is fueling insurgency as a reason for withdrawal of military forces. He has led the opposition against the war by demanding withdrawal under the War Powers Act. Kucinich has called Obama's classification of the War in Afghanistan as a just war a beginning of an Orwellian journey to a world where war is peace and also said "Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan are based on flawed doctrines of counter-insurgency. War is often not just; sometimes it is just war. And our ability to rethink the terms of our existence, to explore the possibility of peace without war, may well determine whether we end war, or war ends us."[45]

Cuba[edit]

Kucinich favors normalizing relations with Cuba. He advocates a full repeal of the Helms-Burton Act and the immediate lifting of the trade embargo and travel restrictions. He claims that America's "aggressive rhetoric and actions" have not helped US interests, but have hurt the Cuban people.[46]

Iran[edit]

Kucinich believes that the US should engage in direct diplomacy with Iran. He has claimed that the Bush administration was purposely escalating tensions with Iran and preparing to use military force without Congressional authorization.[47] After a December 3, 2007 National Intelligence Estimate report indicated that Iran was not developing nuclear weapons, Kucinich stated that it was clear that there was "no threat to the international community from Iran right now, or in the near future."[48]

Iraq war[edit]

Kucinich voted against the authorization of military force against Iraq in 2002. He has also voted consistently against funding the war.[49]

Kucinich cited the war as one of his primary reasons for entering the 2008 presidential race. He said that the 2006 mid-term elections were a message that Americans were unhappy with the situation in Iraq. "Instead of heeding those concerns and responding with a strong and immediate change in policies and direction," Kucinich said, "the Democratic congressional leadership seems inclined to continue funding the perpetuation of the war."[50]

The "Kucinich Plan" for Iraq includes an immediate withdrawal of all US troops and contractors, as well as the closing of military bases, to be replaced with a UN peacekeeping force. He would also work towards rebuilding the Iraqi infrastructure and economy, and "repair[ing] our relationship with Iraqis and with the world".[51]

Military intervention in Libya[edit]

Kucinich objected to the 2011 Military intervention in Libya missile strikes and questioned whether they weren't impeachable offenses. Kucinich also questioned why Democratic leaders didn’t object when President Barack Obama told them of his plan for US participation in enforcing the Libyan no-fly zone. He said Obama's action in Libya was "a grave decision that cannot be made by the president alone", and claimed that failing to first seek approval of Congress was in violation of the Constitution.[52][53]

Economic issues[edit]

Trade[edit]

Kucinich opposes participation in North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). He says that "one of my first acts as president will be to cancel NAFTA and the WTO."[54] Kucinich has consistently opposed free trade on the grounds that it costs American jobs and enables abusive working conditions in other countries.[55]

Farm policy[edit]

"Something is wrong when profits of agribusiness corporations skyrocket, but farmers must find off-farm jobs or sell their farms to survive," says Dennis Kucinich's website. Kucinich has been an opponent of market led agrarian reform and has advocated canceling NAFTA and the WTO and replacing them with bilateral agreements that benefit farmers, empowering farmers by providing incentives to join collective bargaining units, breaking apart agribusiness monopolies through enforcing anti-trust laws, shifting towards local food systems such as a farm-to-school program, reducing environmental impacts through safeguarding family farms from factory farm pollution, and restoring family farms in the United States.[56] Kucinich has also said he gives "strong and unwavering support to our organic family farmers.[57]

Social Security[edit]

Kucinich has been opposed to the privatization of social security. On the topic of retirement he said "I see a new vision for American seniors. I see a country where all citizens can retire with full benefits at age 65, where social security will never become privatized, and where retirement years won't land in the hands of the stock market."[58]

Tax policy[edit]

Kucinich introduced the Progressive Tax Act of 2003, which was designed to repeal what he called the "unfair Bush tax cuts" for wealthy Americans and corporate tax loopholes.[59][60] He also favors simplifying the tax code and a Payroll Tax Credit and a Family Credit.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dennis Kucinich Dropping Out Of Presidential Race Newsday.com. Accessed 24-January 2008
  2. ^ Klein, Joe (2009-08-20). "The GOP Has Become a Party of Nihilists". Time magazine. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  3. ^ Hechtkopf, Kevin (2009-08-18). "Artist Behind Obama "Joker" Picture Revealed". CBS News. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  4. ^ March, William (2003-11-29). "Kucinich Hit Stage As Cleveland Mayor". The Tampa Tribune. p. 15. 
  5. ^ a b Curry, Tom (2008-07-14). "Kucinich spices up the race". MSNBC. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ [3]
  9. ^ David Enrich, Kucinich’s Continued Evolution National Review, June 9, 2003
  10. ^ Dennis Kucinich at November 2007 Democratic Presidential Debate
  11. ^ Issues - Reproductive Rights Kucinich.us
  12. ^ Congressional Record on Choice by State NARAL.org
  13. ^ Issues - Animal Rights Kucinich.us
  14. ^ Tom Head Congressional Scorecard ACLU.org
  15. ^ Tom Diemer and Sabrina Eaton, Kucinich supports marriage for same-sex couples, Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 16, 2003
  16. ^ 2008 Presidential Candidates' Positions TheTaskForce.org
  17. ^ a b Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, VoteSmart.org
  18. ^ Issues - D.C. Statehood Kucinich.us
  19. ^ Issues - Death Penalty Kucinich.us
  20. ^ H.R.4923 - Federal Death Penalty Abolition Act OpenCongress.org
  21. ^ Issues - Marijuana Decriminalization Kucinich.us
  22. ^ Issues - Drug War Kucinich.us
  23. ^ Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, LCV.org
  24. ^ Dennis Kucinich: The Candidates in Print Time.com
  25. ^ [4]
  26. ^ [5]
  27. ^ [6]
  28. ^ http://education.kucinich.us/
  29. ^ Interest Group Ratings - Gun Issues VoteSmart.org
  30. ^ Kucinich Offers Comprehensive Plan to Address Violence in America House.gov
  31. ^ a b Martin, Michel (2009-05-12). "White House Looks For Ways To Lower Health Care Costs". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  32. ^ Kucinich, Dennis (2009-07-15). "Healthcare: Change the Debate Support a Real Public Option". kucinich.us. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  33. ^ "Kucinich: Eliminate Medicare Part D drug program". McKnight's Long-Term Care News & Assisted Living. 2008-08-11. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  34. ^ a b c Nichols, John (2009-07-17). "A Real Win for Single-Payer Advocates". The Beat (The Nation). Retrieved 2009-08-18. 
  35. ^ a b "Kucinich Amendment Grants ERISA Waiver for Single Payer States.". Center for Policy Analysis. Retrieved 2009-08-18. [dead link]
  36. ^ Grim, Ryan (2009-11-06). "Pelosi: Single-Payer Amendment Breaks Obama's Health Care Promise". The Huffington Post (Common Dreams NewsCenter). 
  37. ^ a b http://kucinich.house.gov/NEWS/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=153995
  38. ^ Stranahan, Lee (2009-11-08). "Kucinich's Brave Health Vote vs. Obama's Failed Promise". Huffington Post. 
  39. ^ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.../dems-will-bypass-conferen_n_410403.html
  40. ^ http://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2010/03/rep_dennis_kucinichs_health_ca.html
  41. ^ Issues - Immigrants' Rights Kucinich.us
  42. ^ H.R. 500 [107th]: U.S. Employee, Family Unity, and Legalization Act GovTrack.us
  43. ^ [7]
  44. ^ [8]
  45. ^ [9]
  46. ^ Issues - Cuban Embargo Kucinich.us
  47. ^ Dennis J. Kucinich, Collision Course With Iran TheNation.com, Feb. 26, 2007
  48. ^ Kucinich Slams Bush Over Iran Report All Headline News, Dec. 3, 2007
  49. ^ Use of Military Force Against Iraq VoteSmart.org
  50. ^ Zachary A. Goldfarb and Peter Slevin, Unhappy With Democrats Over Iraq, Kucinich Plans Another Bid for White House, Washington Post, December 12, 2006
  51. ^ The Kucinich Plan for Iraq Kucinich.us
  52. ^ Liberal Democrats in uproar over Libya action; Politico; March 19, 2011
  53. ^ Dennis Kucinich: Obama's Libya Attack An Impeachable Offense; Talking Points Memo; March 21, 2011
  54. ^ Campaign for America's Future June 20, 2007 Speech
  55. ^ The Candidates on Trade Council on Foreign Relations
  56. ^ [10]
  57. ^ [11]
  58. ^ [12]
  59. ^ Tax Reform House.gov
  60. ^ H.R.3655 Library of Congress