Why This Democrat Voted 'No' on the Health Care Bill

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," November 9, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Thirty-nine Democrats voted no on the House health care bill. One of them is Congressman Dennis Kucinich. Earlier, he went "On the Record."


VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you so much for joining us.

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH, D - OHIO: Good to see you.

VAN SUSTEREN: So, congressman, you were a giant no to the health-care reform bill in the House of Representatives. Why?

KUCINICH: Because it forces people to buy private insurance, makes them pay a penalty if they do not. People pay twice, first from their own pocket and the pay second through their taxes. That's the wrong business model.

Insurance companies are business to make money. In health care, they make money not providing health care. If we want health care then let's have health and put the money into health care, not take one out of every $3 and give it to the insurance companies.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is this penalty if you do not buy the health insurance? How much?

KUCINICH: Well, it depends. It is a percentage. But the point of the matter is we should not be incentivizing or forcing people to buy private insurance, but that is exactly what has been set up.

And, by the way, Greta, we tried to create some real competition with these insurance companies. First single-payer was taken off the table, then your robust public option was whittled down to nothing. The state single-payer protection amendment, which I had in the bill, was taken out.

In the end this is the insurance companies getting carte blanche and the Congress really giving up its power to insurance companies. Why that happens is anybody's guess.

VAN SUSTEREN: You, in essence, if I could simplify this, you are far left on this from your party. You voted no because you did not think that the bill went far enough, which is different than those who thought it went too far?

KUCINICH: I think a fair description is to say that I'm in the center where the American people are in saying why are you telling us that our taxes are likely to go up for this? Is the government going to borrow money when they subsidize the insurance companies on the health care?

How do you control costs? If you still have this premium, co-pay, and deductibles structure in there, how do you control costs? This whole thing is a boondoggle.

VAN SUSTEREN: Have you tried to get an audience with the Speaker of the House? Have you sat down and said this is why I don't like the bill that now been passed leading up to the vote. Did you have that kind of discussion, or not?

KUCINICH: Absolutely. Speaker Pelosi and I talk all the time. I have a great deal of respect for.

VAN SUSTEREN: What did she say?

KUCINICH: She has to deal with the White House, and the White House wanted that Kucinich amendment out of the bill because they were concerned that the insurance companies would think that it was a trip towards single- payer.

And, frankly, the speaker is a good speaker. She is trying to do a good job and balance all of these interests. My job is to represent my constituents, which is what I think I do.

VAN SUSTEREN: So did she say, "I am sorry, Dennis. I'm getting heat from the White House. It has to be this way." Is that the dialogue that goes on between the two of you?

KUCINICH: I wouldn't put it exactly in those terms, but the speaker and I talked about it.

I want you to know, Greta, I tried to see if there was a way to work things out. I've been looking to protect the right of states, and then when it was taken out of the bill, I said I could work with you on this, put that back in there. I tried and tried.

In the end, what was astonishing to me, Greta, is that they put abortion in there as an issue again, which is pretty startling, rather than address the state's single-payer issue. Really, it was amazing.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is the bill as its passed by the House, is that the law that we're eventually going to have in this country.

KUCINICH: No. If it gets out of the Senate and there is a conference committee, anything goes in conference, which is why I am telling everyone that I was concerned about the insurance companies and protecting those 10 states and more where there is active single-payer movements, let's take another run at this in conference, and see if there is a way to get it in the bill, which will be presented to the Congress for passage after the conference committee.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, always nice to see you. Thank you, I hope you come back.

KUCINICH: Thank you very much, Greta, it's good to see you.


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