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Dennis Kucinich on the "Fiscal Cliff": Why Are We Sacrificing American Jobs for Corporate Profits?

"We’re creating our own economic vice here that is entrapping tens of millions of Americans," says the out-going Representative.

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And so, I think that as we look into the new year, we’ve got a couple things going here. There’s a decreasing confidence in government. This isn’t about Democrats or Republicans anymore. It’s about the failure of the government to respond to the practical aspirations of people for jobs, for housing, for healthcare, for retirement security, and for the education of their children. And we’re still there. Yet we still are pursuing wars abroad. We still are doing military buildups. And this is the direction America is going in, and it’s the wrong direction.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Congressman, I want to ask you, your colleagues, your Republican colleagues in the House, obviously have a different perspective. Speaking on Fox News, Republican Congressmember Mike Mulvaney of South Carolina blamed the Democratic-led Senate for the impasse in the negotiations on the so-called fiscal cliff. This is what he had to say.

REPMICHAEL MULVANEY: The House has actually extended these tax rates for everybody in the entire country, which is exactly the correct policy, as we see it. We sent it to the Senate; the Senate has simply refused to take it up. The Senate could fix this today, if they wanted to. I understand that while Harry Reid is in the well today in the Senate complaining about Mr. Boehner, he has not scheduled a debate today on the fiscal cliff, which is just absurd. So, if there’s one message to go out there, it’s that the House has actually done its job, and the Senate could fix this today if they wanted to.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Mike Mulvaney of South Carolina. Your response, Congressman Kucinich?

REPDENNIS KUCINICH: Well, it has to be translated. You know, what the Republicans want to advocate is a continuation of the Bush tax cuts, which, as everyone knows, added a trillion dollars to the deficit by helping to accelerate—and helped to accelerate the wealth of America upwards. We can’t do that anymore, although we’re seeing that some elements of the Bush tax cuts are remaining, you know, depending on the income distribution, for those who are in the middle class. But, you know, how is it we can be talking about tax cuts at the same time we have this massive deficit? You know, we’re getting the American people to believe that we can cut taxes, increase military spending, and balance the budget. That’s kind of what they talked about during the Reagan administration and ended up with a huge hidden deficits, beginning to balloon once new administrations came in.

We have to change our economy here. We have to emphasize job creation, and then investors can come back in, and then you can start to see consumer confidence building. But right now we’re limping as a nation. And, you know, our politics are being translated into some kind of Punch and Judy show between Democrats and Republicans. We don’t need that; it’s irrelevant. We’ve got to solve the real problems of people. We’ve got to help keep people in their homes. We have to do everything we can to get not only the unemployment benefits passed, but get the people back to work. Why aren’t we emphasizing that? And, you know, this is why this whole debate about a fiscal cliff, as Dean Baker said, has elements of it that are chimerical.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Congressman, in your prior response, you linked the whole issue of the continuation of the war machine to the battles at home over domestic spending. You—could you talk about your efforts, together with Congressman Ron Paul, to demand an inquiry into the justification for drone attacks?

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