Progressives Should Not Follow Kucinich on Health Care

I don't blame Dennis Kucinich for changing his mind and deciding to
vote for Obama's health care reform bill.

The bill does have its merits: It greatly expands Medicaid coverage,
it increases funding for community health centers, and it subsidizes
people who don't have a lot of money to buy health care insurance. And
depending on the fine print, the bill may end discrimination against
people with preexisting conditions.

Plus, Obama and the Democratic leadership were putting enormous
pressure on him, and I'm sure he didn't want to hand the Republicans an
undeserved trophy.

But the bill is still grossly inadequate, as Kucinich himself
recognizes.

The bill is still a giant giveaway to the insurance companies, as
Kucinich has said many times.

The bill is nowhere near as good as single-payer, which Kucinich has
campaigned for time and time again.

Most of the benefits of the bill would kick in until 2014.

And the bill does a grave disservice to women, not only by
restricting abortion coverage but by allowing insurance companies to
discriminate in their pricing against women, as Dr. Sheila Levitt of
Physicians for a National Health Program recently
wrote
.

Even though Kucinich now gives this bill his blessing, that doesn't
mean that all progressive citizens need to follow suit.

Howard Zinn, a couple of years before he died, put the issue
perfectly:

"When a social movement adopts the compromises of legislators, it has
forgotten its role, which is to push and challenge the politicians, not
to fall meekly behind them," he wrote.

He added: "The mantra 'the best we can get' is a recipe for
corruption. We are not politicians, but citizens. We have no office to
hold on to, only our consciences."

So let's hold on to our consciences and demand better.