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Tue Dec 11, 2012, 05:17 PM

“The Taxpayers Are Getting Fed Up”

The Middle Class feels squeezed, and a lot of people are angry. They are told to be angry about Social Security and Medicare benefits, but the truth is that both Social Security and Medicare operate at a profit. They are told to be angry about state employee pay and benefits, but virtually all states already have a balanced budget. Maybe they should direct their anger toward companies that fail to pay a living wage, requiring the taxpayers to make up the difference. Here is what Congressman Alan Grayson (D-Orlando) said on Cenk Uygur’s national TV show about that, recently, while explaining why he joined protesting Walmart workers on Thanksgiving:

CENK: And Congressman Alan Grayson from Florida is joining us now. Congressman, it’s great to have you with us. First of all, how angry was your family when you didn’t join them for Thanksgiving dinner?

ALAN: {Laughter.} They’re used to making sacrifices, in my case. They’ve been doing it for years.

CENK: Okay. All right, in all seriousness, what were you doing there? Why did you want to go and give these people turkey sandwiches? What was the real objective?

ALAN: We handed out bags to the workers who had to work. They didn’t want to work -- they had to work, on Thanksgiving night, and couldn’t be with their families. The bags had three things inside: a turkey sandwich, because it was Thanksgiving; a bag of chips; and a letter informing them of their right to organize.

CENK: All right, now what do you think here? Walmart says, “Hey listen, these strikes were no big deal. Only about fifty people walked out.” Now there are reports that that’s just not true. “But you know, we’re just perfectly lovely to our employees. I don’t know what you guys are complaining about.” How do you respond to that?

ALAN: Well, it’s ridiculous. As you pointed out, the average associate at Walmart makes less than $9 an hour. I don’t know how anybody these days can afford their rent, afford their food, afford their health coverage, afford their transportation costs just to get to work, when they’re making only $9 an hour or less.
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And who ends up paying for it? It’s the taxpayer. . . . The taxpayer pays the earned income credit. The taxpayer pays for Medicaid. The taxpayer pays for the unemployment insurance when they cut their hours down. And the taxpayers pay for other forms of public assistance like food stamps. I think that the taxpayer is getting fed up paying for all these things when, in fact, Walmart could give every single employee it’s got, even the CEO, a 30% raise, and Walmart would still be profitable.

CENK: Now Congressman Grayson, you’re going back in to Congress now. Is there anything you can do about it legislatively, or is it just simply political and economic pressure on Walmart to be more decent to their workers?

ALAN: Well one thing we’ve already done is in the Affordable Care Act. We have a mandate that the employer is supposed to provide health coverage, or pay the difference. And I think that’s going to make a big difference in the lives of these Walmart workers. But that’s just the start. I don’t think that Walmart should, in effect, be the largest recipient of public assistance in the country. In state after state after state, Walmart employees represent the largest group of Medicaid recipients, the largest group of food stamp recipients, and the taxpayers shouldn’t have to bear that burden. It should be Walmart. So we’re going to take that burden and put it where it belongs, on Walmart.

CENK: So that’s really interesting. And I want the audience to understand this. It’s really fascinating because Walmart, as Congressman Grayson is saying there, winds up becoming the biggest taker of government subsidies in some of these programs. But the six heirs to the Walmart fortune have more money that 40 percent of the country combined. That is amazing.

Congressman Grayson, the liberal think tank Demos came up with this idea. They said, “Look, if you just increase wages to $25,000 a year for the average Walmart worker . . . that would increase costs to us of $20 per year for the customer, right?" Twenty dollars per year doesn’t seem like a lot for the average customer. And then, here are the results. Do you know what it would do? It would lift 1,500,000 people out of poverty, create 100,000 new jobs, and give a $13.5 billion (gross domestic product) boost. Now what do you make of those numbers? Is that a deal that you think the American people are willing to take, if it costs an extra $20 a year to have these people make a decent wage, and possibly improve the economy?

ALAN: Listen, I think those numbers are mostly right, but I think the numbers are actually different from that. According to the numbers that I’ve seen, as I said before, every Walmart employee could get that raise to $25,000 a year, every single one of them, and Walmart would still be profitable, without raising prices.

Look, Walmart already charges people as much as they possibly can. That’s the nature of being in business. But what they do is give their employees as little as they possibly can. They exploit them and keep them in the dark, without benefits and without knowledge of the right to unionize. The difference is what they call “profit.” And Walmart is hugely, hugely profitable.

So I don’t think customers are going to end up paying any more at all; not a penny more. What’s simply going to happen is that Walmart is going to make a little bit less profit.

CENK: All right, Congressman Grayson. Good to have a progressive fighter back in Congress. Thank you for joining us, and back at Walmart, and sticking up for people as well. Thank you so much.

ALAN: You’re welcome.

Ask yourself this: who else among our so-called Representatives is standing up for the working poor? Who else is helping to make the right to organize something real? Isn’t it about time that you showed your support again for a Congressman With Guts? It’s not hard – just click on that CONTRIBUTE link below.

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Reply “The Taxpayers Are Getting Fed Up” (Original post)
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Response to Alan Grayson (Original post)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 05:22 PM

1. Spam deleted by SidDithers (MIR Team)

 

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Response to Alan Grayson (Original post)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 08:40 PM

2. Entitlement vs. Annuity

I heard someone say that semantics are important. She was a caller on the Stephanie Miller Show and said she's on social security and medicare which she considers annuities, not entitlements. She also called out companies not paying workers a living wage with benefits corporate welfare queens because their workers get subsidized by taxpayers for food stamps and health benefits, etc. When you look at it this way. It makes sense.

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Response to Alan Grayson (Original post)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 03:07 AM

3. K&R! Excellent interview!

Thanks so much for all your great work and can't wait until you return to Congress!

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