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Speech to the Urban League National Convention

Author: Dennis Kucinich
July 28, 2003
Foreign Affairs

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Representative Dennis Kucinich, D-OH
Pittsburgh, PA
July 28, 2003

It’s an honor to be here before the Urban League to talk about a new urban policy. But before we talk about a new urban policy, we need to talk about a new international policy. As President I’ll be dedicated to a policy that sets aside the idea of unilateralism, the idea of pre-emption. The United States needs to work with the world community to make the United States more secure. I’m Congressman Dennis Kucinich, I led the effort in the House of Representatives to try to block the Bush Administration’s march toward war. As co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, the largest caucus inside the Democratic Party, I worked with members of Congress and led 126 Democrats into voting against the Iraq war. I led the Democrats into challenging the lies about Iraq’s nuclear capabilities. I led the challenge to claims about weapons of mass destruction. Where are the weapons of mass destruction?

I’m from the inner city of Cleveland, I was mayor of Cleveland, and I know where those weapons of mass destruction are. They’re in our inner cities. Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction. Joblessness is a weapon of mass destruction. Poor healthcare is a weapon of mass destruction. Homelessness is a weapon of mass destruction, discrimination is a weapon of mass destruction. Racism is a weapon of mass destruction. And lying to the American People is a weapon of mass destruction.

It is time – it is time. – to get out of Iraq. It is time to get out of Iraq and to rejoin the world community and international cooperation towards world security. U.N. in, U.S. out. U.N. in, U.S. out. U.N. in, U.S. out. It’s time to have the United Nations handle the oil receipts and the contracts, Haliburton.

Our sons and daughters – our sons and daughters are being used for target practice because of lies, greed, and desire for empire. Bring our men and women home. Bring our men and women home. Bring them home. Come home.

My candidacy for President will break the spell of fear which has settled over this country like a pall. We must remember the words of Francis Scott Key in the Star Spangled Banner, when he asked, “Oh say, does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave, over the land of the free and the home of the brave?” He connected courage and democracy. We must have courage to save our democracy, and we must have truth to save our democracy. We shall know the truth and the truth shall set us free. And the truth is that fear has driven a Pentagon budget increase by 13 percent. That fear has caused our health care to be cut. Has caused housing benefits to be cut. Has caused Veteran’s benefits to be cut.

As President of the United States, I’ll help break that spell of fear. We will cut the Pentagon budget by 15%. And put that money right into universal pre-kindergarten. Our children need an education. We will cut a 1.5 trillion dollar Bush tax cut, and we will put that money into a universal college for our children. Our children need college educations.

We will lead the way – and I’ll lead the way - to take profit out of health care. The market has failed at health care. We need universal health care, Medicare for all. No one paying any premiums, co-pays, deductibles. Preventative health care coverage, all medically necessary procedures. Vision care. Dental health care, mental health care.

We need universal health care. It is a moral responsibility of our government to provide health care. As President I intend to save social security. I’ll stop the privatization of social security. And it’s time to take that retirement age back to 65.

As President of the United States, I intend to lead the way towards a new urban policy. A new WPA to rebuild our cities. A new manufacturing policy, which creates jobs. A new trade policy, which cancels NAFTA and the WTO.

My candidacy offers the sharpest contrast with the incumbent president. I come from a state with 19 electoral votes. I’m a four-term member of Congress. I was Mayor of Cleveland.

And in this campaign, I’m going to offer the contrast on matters of war and peace. On trade. On health care and urban policy.

I come from the streets of Cleveland, from a family that lived in 21 different places by the time I was 17 – including a couple of cars. And I’m telling you, it’ll be from the streets of Cleveland to Pennsylvania Avenue for a worker’s White House and a people’s President. Thank you very much.

Questions:

Announcer: You’ve spoken of getting the insurance companies out of health care. How do you do that, and what do you replace them with?

Candidate Kucinich: Right now Americans pay a total of 1.4 trillion dollars a year from local, state, and federal sources, and from what employers pay for health care. But what we’re seeing right now is that 41 million Americans without health care – everyone in the room knows one story of someone who doesn’t have health care, and can’t get the care they need. People even have jobs and don’t get the health care they need.

What’s happening? Premiums are going up, co-pays are going up, deductibles are going up. We need a universal health care system, and you know what? My plan, which is embodied and which I worked with Congressman John Conyers in developing, as well as Congressman McDermott, takes the private sector out of health care.

It establishes a public health care system, just like Medicare exists, and extends it to everyone. And there would be no more co-pays, premiums, deductibles. All of our people would be covered. If we don’t do this, by the way, within ten years, health care spending is going to go up to 1.8 trillion dollars, 18% of the gross domestic product, and there will be more and more Americans who won’t be covered.

My plan, by the way, includes a prescription drug benefit. Everyone knows that the insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies are depriving our people of decent health care. They’re not delivering it. They make money NOT giving healthcare. I’m going to be the President who takes this issue to the American people and establishes universal health care, that’s what I intend to do.

Announcer: OK. My final question. President Bush was here today. He said that equal education is one of the most pressing civil rights issues of our day. What programs would you create to address this problem.

Candidate Kucinich: Well, it would have been good if when the President said that that he would have remembered that when his last budget came out it cut the No Child Left Behind Act by ten billion dollars. Now if you’re going to talk the talk, walk the walk. And the President hasn’t done that.

And as the next President, I’ve indicated earlier that we have the money. To have universal pre-kindergarten. Our children 3, 4, and 5 can have fully-paid daycare. Can have reading skills that they learn. Can have nutrition programs. Can have social skills and educational skills that are developed. We have to look at that early development, because that’s what gives our children a chance to be lifted up. The money is THERE.

We have to cut the Pentagon budget. I’m the only candidate who has taken this issue over and over again about cutting the Pentagon budget and getting the money for universal pre-kindergarten.

Finally, on the issue of college. Do you know that there are 12 million young Americans who attend public institutions, colleges, and universities. They pay an average of four thousand dollars a year. Now, you multiply that, it’s 48 billion dollars a year.

This take cut of the President’s amount to 155 billion dollars a year. For less than a third of the present tax cut you could have universal college for our young people. It’s time to make education a priority.

One final word. When I walk up to vote every day in the House of Representatives, there is a statue of a woman whose arm is outstretched, and she’s protecting a child who is blissfully sitting on top of a pile of books. And the title of that statue is called, “Peace Protecting Genius.”

Not with nuclear arms, but with the arms of love is the child, Genius, protected. We need to work for peace. And as we do that, that is the path to restoring this country to a new era where we have health care for all, education for all, jobs for all, and hope for all.

Thank you very much.