Issue Research: Election 2008 | Globalisation | National Security

Kucinich links economic, immigration problems to trade issues

October 08, 2007

PORTLAND, OR --Democratic Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich told audiences in California and Oregon yesterday that the United States would not be able to resolve its economic and immigration issues until it resolves its trade policies, and he renewed his promise that his first act in office will be to cancel the United States’ participation in NAFTA and the WTO.

Kucinich addressed the National Latino Congreso in Los Angeles on Sunday morning then carried his populist No-NAFTA message 1,000 miles north to Seaside, OR, where he repeated it to a rousing reception at the Oregon AFL-CIO State Convention Sunday night.

He noted that NAFTA and the WTO were sold to the American people as a way to provide better wages and economy. But, as he and other critics had predicted, the pacts ended up destroying high-paying manufacturing jobs in the United States and seriously depressing the economy of Mexico, forcing millions of Mexicans to come to America in search of work. Once here, Kucinich said, the immigrant workers were exploited and often forced to work for low pay and few, if any, benefits, driving down the wages of U.S. workers.

The immigration issue is in many ways becoming a scapegoat for the problems being caused by trade issues, Kucinich said.

“The dialogue in this country has gone from the Statue of Liberty reading ‘give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses’ to discussions of rounding up immigrants from mass deportations,” Kucinich, speaking in a mix of Spanish and English, told the Congreso. “We’ve moved from President Reagan saying ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall’ to calls today to build a wall of our own.”

The six-term Ohio Congressman also continued his call for true single-payer, not-for-profit universal health care, an issue that separates him from the other Democratic candidates who favor subsidies and mandates that would keep the for-profit insurance companies involved in health care.

Kucinich is a co-author and co-sponsor of HR 676, a bill to expand Medicare-like coverage to all residents of the United States. Although the bill has 84 co-sponsors, none of the other Democratic candidates have signed on. In fact, Kucinich said, current and former Democratic Presidential candidates have said “they don’t want to take on the insurance industry.”

“Somebody's running for President of the United States, and they're saying they can't take on the insurance companies? If you can't take on the insurance companies, who else can't you take on?,” Kucinich asked the cheering AFL-CIO crowd.

He also outlined his bill in Congress to extract U.S. troops and private contractors from Iraq, while protecting the Iraqi people and their assets.

The way for the Democratic Party to win elections, he said, is to get out of Iraq quickly -- not in 2013, as other Democrats suggest -- and to give Americans “real health care,” not just more inadequate health insurance. But, he noted that the Democratic Party leaders and other Democratic Presidential candidates are not moving in that direction.

Noting that the Latino vote is becoming a more important voting bloc every year, Kucinich asked the Congreso audience how many people had lost faith in the Democratic Party. About three quarters of the audience raised their hands, and about half of the audience indicated support for a stronger third party to challenge the current two-party system. Kucinich promised he would take that message back to Party leaders.

Retreived 10.15.2007 from

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