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Why Doesn't the President Lead?

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Transcript from interview by Paul Jay of Real News Network

PAUL JAY: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay. We're in Washington, in the Capitol building with Congressman Dennis Kucinich. Thanks for joining us again.

DENNIS KUCINICH: Thank you.JAY: President Obama will be speaking soon about his deficit plan. Some people are saying the White House is more allied with the Republican Party than sections of the Democratic Party when it comes to the deficit discourse. What's your take on this?KUCINICH: I think those people are probably right. I mean, how can you have a discussion about the deficit without looking at the fact that our defense budget has grown over $700 billion a year, that we will spend trillions of dollars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan? Now we have a new war in Libya. No one's talking about reduction in those areas. Where the discussion is, we're going to reduce the basic benefits that people have to take care of their health. I don't buy it.JAY: The whole kind of taking on of the deficit as the issue argument has been embraced by the White House. They kind of gave up on the debate, whether the issue was deficit fighting or the issue was moving the economy.KUCINICH: Well, how did we get a deficit? I mean, the Bush tax cuts added a trillion dollars. His wars have added several trillion dollars. The Fed, through their program of quantitative easing, has pumped trillions of dollars into their own bailout program for banks. The deficit and the reason why we have it underscores the transfer of wealth that's occurring in this country from the great mass of people into the hands of a few. And the Obama administration's actually presiding over that. That's, like, their job, to continue to accelerate the wealth upwards. That's why Wall Street has such extraordinary influence on the economic policy of this administration. That's why we have such a high level of unemployment. That's why the Dodd-Frank bill doesn't reach to stop the kind of black box derivatives that are going to drive another cycle of boom-bust. That's why the oil companies have so much influence in our energy policies. That's why privatization is in the background of the attack on the post office. That's why we're still at war. That's why we're being dragged around the world on imperialist policies that have nothing to do with America's mission to its people. So yeah. I mean, so we end up with a deficit. Yeah, we have a financial deficit. But we also have a moral deficit.JAY: The president apparently is going to say on Wednesday night that he's going to follow the lead of this presidential deficit commission, this bipartisan commission, which apparently takes as its underling assumption that the fundamental issue facing America is to reduce the debt. And there's going to be--and apparently he's already putting into play debt reduction [inaudible] somewhere near, not at the rate of, but near what the Republicans are calling for. What do you make of this kind of internalization and lack of combat on the argument itself?KUCINICH: Well, let's think about this. The president is going to accept the lead of his deficit reduction commission. I have an idea. Why doesn't the president lead? Why doesn't the president challenge these corporations who have basically single-handedly driven the United States economy over a cliff? Why doesn't the president challenge the military-industrial complex, which is now putting us into a fourth war? Why doesn't the president challenge not just the tax cuts to the wealthy, but conditions where corporations are getting away without paying any taxes at all, including one corporation that is tied quite directly to one of the president's top economic advisors? I mean, you can't pawn this off on some commission. I mean, presidents have always done that. Like, oh, I'll appoint a commission, let them make the decision, and I'll implement it. No, that's not the way it works. We elected Barack Obama president of the United States, and we have a right to expect him to lead on these economic matters. And there is no discussion about creating more jobs. There is no discussion about getting America back to work. And, frankly, you know what? If you've got people working, that starts to lower your debt, because people are paying money in. But the geniuses on Wall Street decided that a certain amount of unemployment is necessary for the proper functioning of the economy.JAY: Certainly [inaudible] high amount of unemployment.KUCINICH: Right.JAY: So what do you say to ordinary people who voted for President Obama and seem to be getting--they voted for one thing, and they seem to be getting another thing, and they say to you, well, what should we do?KUCINICH: I think it's important to explore these inconsistencies, and to ask questions, and to demand that we move forward as a nation, where everyone achieves economic progress. We're seeing a jobless recovery. We're seeing an intensification of the differences between rich and poor. That's happening on the watch of a Democrat. I mean, frankly, we need to challenge the president not to simply live up to his promises, but to live up to the promise of his administration that the American people bought into when they rallied to his candidacy in November 2008. I was president during that inaugural. I saw two million people gather on the Mall in a ceremony of extraordinary hope. You could feel the energy on the Mall that day. You could summon it if the president wanted to and put it as lightening in a bottle. And yet we've not only seen this energy dissipate, but we've seen put in its place an agenda that is so corporatist, so inflexibly dedicated to Wall Street's description of where the economy has to go, that it's demolishing the hopes of millions to save their homes, demolishing the hopes of millions to be able to have jobs, demolishing the hopes of millions to be able to have a level of health care which they have a right to expect.JAY: Thanks for joining us, Congressman.KUCINICH: Thank you.JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.End of Transcript DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

 

Dennis Kucinich is former US Congressman and two-time presidential candidate from Ohio who served 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Visit his website at  KucinichAction

Follow him on Twitter at @Dennis_Kucinich

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That Dennis Kucinich (or er Paul Jay?) is making a... by Philip Dennany on Wednesday, Apr 13, 2011 at 3:04:52 PM
I am pleased to see growing momentum in progressiv... by Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall on Wednesday, Apr 13, 2011 at 8:07:12 PM