by Dennis Kucinich
This past weekend I visited a festival at a church in a working class area of my district. These events are opportunities for people from the community to gather, to eat ethnic foods, listen to music and enjoy each other’s company; before the brisk, brooding Cleveland winter begins to set in.
When I walked through the doors, I felt as though I had stepped back in time, to when I was a child growing up in the inner city of Cleveland where I witnessed people struggling every day to make ends meet. From this early experience I have learned to recognize poverty, the clothes it wears and the physical appearance it presents.
What I saw in the church were humble people whose shoes were well worn and whose clothes were in need of repair. I also saw people struggling with various stages of ill health, with obvious physical difficulties. I know what poverty feels like and I felt it here and I was surprised. What made this visit memorable was that it occurred in a suburban community which had formerly been known for its solid middle class housing.
Meanwhile about 400 miles away, in Washington, DC, the insurance companies have wielded enormous influence to knock a public option out of the Senate Finance Committee health care bill and we still struggle to keep the public option alive in the House. A decision is due soon from the full Senate. Will they actually pass a bill which requires that Americans buy private insurance? The House continues to try to determine the shape and content of our legislation.
The political system is failing the American people. Money for Wall Street, not for Main Street. Money for War, not for Peace. Money to move jobs out of America, not to create new jobs here. Money for insurance companies, but what about the people?
While 47 million uninsured wait for an answer, and another 50 million underinsured stand by, Americans are losing their jobs, their homes, their health care, their retirement security. How long can people wait for help?
I am asking you to continue to join me in the push to have a state single payer amendment in the health care bill. Whatever passes the Congress will be insufficient to meet the broad based health care needs of the American people, which is why it is important to give the states the option to move toward single payer. Call your representative now and demand that the Kucinich state single payer amendment remain in the bill.
In my community, and many others across our nation, the level of human suffering from an economy “gone bad” is rising to shocking levels. A recent US Census report states that in this decade the number of northeastern Ohioans who live fractionally above the poverty line has risen 10% – to a quarter of a million people.
But I do not see cold statistics. I see real people. I see the poverty lining their faces. I see their eyes asking: Why?
Dennis Kucinich is a maverick Ohio congressman who once served as Cleveland’s mayor. The Pittsburgh-based Merton Center announced that Kucinich will receive the 37th annual Thomas Merton Award for work in social justice on Nov. 1, 2009.
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