KUCINICH CARE: Like millions of Americans who favor Medicare for All, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich was underwhelmed by the healthcare legislation presented by former single-payer backer Barack Obama. But after raising his objections, Kucinich admitted: "I know I have to make a decision, not on the bill as I would like to see it but the bill as it is."

With other members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, he decided to vote yes, explaining, "If my vote is to be counted, let it now count for passage of the bill, hopefully in the direction of comprehensive healthcare reform." But Kucinich coupled his announcement with something rare for this Congress: a reflection on the bill’s limitations. "My criticisms of the legislation have been well reported. I do not retract them," he said. "They still stand as legitimate and cautionary. I still have doubts about the bill. I do not think it is a first step toward anything I have supported in the past."

Recognizing that blocking the bill would only give a victory to the foes of reform, Kucinich stood with Obama and the hope that "the transformational potential of his presidency, and of ourselves, can still be courageously summoned in ways that will reconnect America to our hopes for expanded opportunities for jobs, housing, education, peace and, yes, healthcare." No matter Obama’s course, however, Kucinich was clear about his. "I have taken a detour through supporting this bill," he said, "but I know the destination. I will continue to lead, for as long as it takes, whatever it takes to an America where healthcare will be firmly established as a civil right."   JOHN NICHOLS

COLOMBIA FTA: Starting with his State of the Union address in January, Obama began pressing to resolve the pending free trade agreement with Colombia. But two recent reports remind us what’s at stake. In Colombia, criminal groups continue terrorizing trade unionists and civilians, according to Human Rights Watch. Here at home, the Economic Policy Institute warned that passage of the agreement could cost tens of thousands of American jobs.

Taken together, these issues are a near guarantee that Democratic leadership won’t push the deal ahead of a midterm election where jobs are issue number one. The fine print suggests Obama isn’t ready to push it too hard too soon either. His 2010 Trade Policy Agenda says the administration is working with Colombian officials to "improve the labor code" and "address violence against labor union officials." They have a long way to go, and simply improving the labor code won’t cut it. "The basic problem in Colombia is that even if it had perfect legislation on labor rights, trade unionists don’t feel free to exercise those rights," says Human Rights Watch’s Maria McFarland, adding that the Colombian government has failed to prioritize confronting the murderous groups. "If they want a free trade agreement, they need to make it a priority."   NICHOLAS KUSNETZ