Kucinich to support health care reform bill

KUCINICH TO SUPPORT HEALTH CARE REFORM BILL…. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) hosted a press conference on the Hill this morning to announce, once and for all, how he would vote on the Democratic health care reform package. Kucinich, of course, opposed the proposal when the House voted on it in November, and the White House hoped to persuade the progressive Dem to change his mind.

Today, Kucinich continued to voice his concerns about this “historic fight,” and said more than once that the bill is “not the one I want.” Noting his series of criticisms of the legislation, Kucinich added that he does not “retract” those remarks, adding, “They stand as legitimate and cautionary.”

After “careful discussions” with President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and others, Kucinich declared:

“I’ve decided to cast a vote in favor of the legislation…. I’m gonna vote for the bill.”

He emphasized that he still has “doubts,” and that he “struggled with this decision,” but Kucinich has decided to accept the package as it is, rather the way he’d “like it to be.”

Overnight, The Hill noted that Kucinich’s announcement “will either be a huge boost, or a significant blow, to Obama’s effort to overhaul the nation’s healthcare system…. If Kucinich is now a yes, it will provide some political cover for other skeptical progressives in the House. The about switch would also generate momentum because Kucinich would be the first no vote last November to publicly commit to voting yes on the final measure.”

Before leaving the podium, the Ohio congressman said he’d “like people to think about” the possibility of “destroying” the Obama presidency if the health reform fight fails.

The turnaround is a bit of a surprise given Kucinich’s previous opposition. Given the razor-thin margin we’re likely to see when the House votes, today’s announcement will no doubt come as a relief to the party leadership and the White House.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.