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Alan Grayson

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Member since: Sat May 22, 2010, 01:02 PM
Number of posts: 465

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My New Declaration of Independence

The original Declaration of Independence, declared 239 years ago, was a philippic against King George and his tyranny. I am no fan of King George. But the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution laid most of his tyranny to rest, and what remained was then laid to rest with him.

We need a new declaration of independence. FDR took a stab at this, with his “Four Freedoms.” Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Freedom from want. Freedom from fear. That’s a good start.

But now, eight decades later, we need to declare our independence from other forms of oppression.

We hereby declare our independence from bigotry, in all its evil forms. We declare our independence from racism, sexism, homophobia, language discrimination and chauvinism. Everyone has equal rights, no matter where you‘re from, what you look like, what language you speak, and whom you love. Everyone deserves respect.

We hereby declare our independence from narrow-minded, extremist or violent religious fundamentalism. We live in a land where church and state are separate. Religious belief, no matter how sincere, is no license to dictate to others whether to terminate a pregnancy, whether to use contraception, or whom to marry. Earlier this year, I placed my hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution; I didn’t place my hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.

We hereby declare our independence from the greedy. Malefactors of great wealth have no right to buy and sell elected officials thorough the legalized bribery of “independent expenditures.” They have no right to despoil our land and our water, the air we breathe and the food we eat. They have no right to manipulate or gut our laws in order to increase their lucre. They have no right to jack up the price of what we buy, or determine what we see on TV or on our computer screens.

We hereby declare our independence from “1984”-style surveillance. Neither the Government nor a private company has any reason to monitor the activities of innocent people, without their express, informed and freely given consent. Who I’m with, what I say, what I buy, what I read; that’s none of anyone else’s business. Privacy – the fundamental right to be left alone – is an essential part of what it means to be a human being.

We hereby declare our independence from exploitation. Bad bosses are today’s King George. They want to work employees as hard as they can, and pay them as little as possible in return. They call the difference profit. If workers are organized, they can fight back. But if not, then they need legal protection from exploitation. If you have a job, you should have a living wage, and time-and-a-half for overtime. If you have a job, you should have health coverage. If you have a job, you should have paid sick leave. If you have a job, you should have a pension. As John Mellencamp would say, “Ain’t that America?”

We hereby declare our independence from misinformation. Fox News is a lie factory. Special interests used to lie to us about the dangers of smoking; now they lie to us about the dangers of pollution and climate disruption. They claim a right to “free speech,” but we have a right to honest speech. We have to be part of what a Reagan aide once dismissed as the “reality-based community.”

We hereby declare our independence from hubris. No, we can’t bring peace through war. No, we can’t force our way of life or our way of thinking on seven billion other people. No, we aren’t going to end the 1200-year-old civil war between the Sunnis and the Shia. No, we aren’t going to go and kill everyone everywhere in the world who harbors some harsh views of us. And no, they won’t greet our soldiers with flowers, bake apple pies for them, and salute the American flag with a hand on their hearts. They want to be them, not us. We can care for victims, protect ourselves and help our friends without sticking our nose into every else’s business.

We hereby declare our independence from a rigged system of fake trade. We buy their stuff, creating tens of millions of jobs in other countries. But they don’t buy an equal amount of our stuff. Instead, they buy our assets – $11,000,000,000,000.00 of our assets. They not only rob us of our jobs, but they drive us deeper and deeper into debt. When did Uncle Sam become Uncle Sap? If we don’t declare independence, the endgame is national bankruptcy.

And me? I hereby declare my independence from the corrupt system of campaign finance. I will not carve up the law into little pieces, and sell it to the highest bidder. I will not make “friends” with lobbyists and special interests and the minions of multinational corporations, and then “help” those “friends.” I will not forsake my real job – doing something good for the 700,000 people who chose me to be their Congressman – in favor of begging millionaires and billionaires for a few crumbs from their tables.

In fact, I already have declared my independence. In 2012, I was the only Member of Congress to draw most of his campaign funds from contributions of less than $200. And in 2014, again. This coming year, whether I run for the House or the Senate, I hope to do it again – I’ll get by with a little help from my friends, my supporters, the progressive community.

We declare our independence. We are not cattle. We are not sheep. We are human beings.

Happy birthday, America. Let Freedom Ring.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Sat Jul 4, 2015, 02:58 PM (2 replies)

Should I Run for the US Senate?

You are a supporter. That’s why I send you these notes. Now, I need to ask you an important question.

Should I run for the U.S. Senate?

I’ve been thinking about this decision for a long time.

If I do decide to try to join Elizabeth Warren and other good Progressive Democrats in the Senate, I need to know that I have your support.

If you think that I should run, please let me know, by contributing $20, $50, $100, $250 or even $500 today.

Every day, inequality is soaring. Social Security checks are worth less and less. The minimum wage is stuck at $7.25. America is the only advanced country without paid sick leave and paid vacations. Thirty million of us still can’t see a doctor when we are sick. College education is hopelessly expensive. The yoke of discrimination still weighs heavy on so many necks. And the law itself is up for sale to the highest bidder.

Someone has to fight back. And that “someone” is me.

You are one of many people who serve on the front lines, fighting for justice, equality and peace. People like you were grassroots leaders when Democrats took the Senate and the House in 2006, and took the White House in 2008.

Now we must stand together, and do it all over again in 2016.

My grandfather survived the Great Depression by going to the dump each day, and finding something that he could sell. I worked my way through Harvard by cleaning toilets, and then as a night watchman on the midnight shift. I know what it’s like to struggle; very few of today’s candidates and elected officials do. That’s why I fight so hard to improve the lives of ordinary people.

Your early support, now, will confirm that I can win this race, and make me feel that I’m doing the right thing. Contribute whatever amount you can, and show that you’re on our side. Every dollar counts.

When I returned to Congress in 2013, many Democrats were dispirited and defeatist. But during the 113th Congress, I wrote more bills than any other Member of the House of Representatives, passed more amendments on the Floor than any other Democrat, and had more of my bills signed into law than any other Member of the House, Democratic or Republican. The amendments I successfully passed through the U.S. House of Representatives have sought to transfer millions of dollars from military operations to medical research, increase bilingual housing counseling by 50%, restore almost half of the proposed cuts to HUD’s Housing for the Elderly Program, protect our privacy, and eliminate federal contracts for contractors who have cheated the government previously.

Salon magazine said that I’m the most effective Member of Congress. Business Insider said that I’m the most productive Member. And Time magazine said that I’m a stand-out Member in a do-nothing Congress.

What I’ve shown is very simple: That progressive Democrats can fight – and win! That’s leadership.

What worked in the House can work in the Senate. But only with your support.

Contribute $20, $50, $100, $250 or even $500 today at ActBlue now, and I’ll know that I can count on your support.

The next few days will make the difference. I need to know that I can count on you.

So what do you think?

Should I run for the Senate? And will you help?

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

A Good Rule of Law: Mind Your Own Business

Yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision was a great victory for LGBT rights. But it also was a great victory for something that rests right at the heart of the human experience, the paramount legal doctrine of M.Y.O.B.

Mind Your Own Business.

Reporters love to generate controversy. In a TV interview yesterday, a reporter asked me, “What do you have to say to all of the millions of opponents of gay marriage?”

I replied thusly: “Mind your own business.”

OK, I’ll admit that that response will not earn me the Nobel Peace Prize. But I’m making an important point here. What difference does it make to Person X if Person Y marries Person Z? Seriously.

I sometimes give a speech where I go through a mock agenda for a Tea Party conference. One of the items on the agenda, from 2 pm to 3 pm, is a colloquium on “How Gay Marriage Destroyed My Straight Marriage,” moderated by No One. And attended by No One.

(Now that I think about it, most Tea Partiers who might attend that colloquium wouldn’t know what a colloquium is. And for sure, they couldn’t spell it. Or as they would write, “spel it.”)

Let’s face it: whenever anyone sticks his nose into other people’s business, something bad happens. The war in Iraq. The NSA spying on everyone because I-don’t-know-why. Chinese cyberattacks. Even the Patriots stealing opponents’ signals. Hey, everyone, just mind your own business!

One of the basic functions of the U.S. Supreme Court, which we just saw in spades, is to prevent a prejudiced majority from employing the law as a device to stick their noses into the business of “discrete, insular minorities.” That phrase comes from the most famous footnote in U.S. Supreme Court history, footnote 4 of the decision United States v. Carolene Products Co., 304 U.S. 144 (1938). Here’s the good part:

“(P)rejudice against discrete and insular minorities may be a special condition, which tends seriously to curtail the operation of those political processes ordinarily to be relied upon to protect minorities, and which may call for a correspondingly more searching judicial inquiry … .”

(Congratulations, you just passed the bar exam. Now good luck finding a job.)

In Carolene terms, the LGBT community is a discrete, insular minority. Prejudice against gays means that they cannot rely exclusively on political processes to protect them from prejudice and inequality. Therefore, in yesterday’s decision, after a “searching judicial inquiry,” the U.S. Supreme Court did so. Q.E.D.

So yesterday’s decision was not merely a victory for our LGBT friends. It was a quantum leap forward in how we see each other – with a very healthy respect. We mind our own business.

Or, as Pope Francis put it, “Who am I to judge?” A very good question, for all of us.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

“It doesn’t matter much to me.”

- The Beatles, “Strawberry Fields Forever.” (1968).

If At First You Don’t Succeed . . . .

This is becoming ridiculous.

A month ago, the Senate voted against the “Fast Track” trade giveaway bill. But the job thieves didn’t give up – they held another vote, a week later. Thanks to some mumbo-jumbo regarding currency manipulation, 13 Democrats switched sides, and Fast Track passed the Senate.

Two weeks ago, the House voted against the Senate’s Fast Track bill or, more specifically, the “trade assistance” part of the bill. But the job thieves didn’t give up – they held another vote, a week later. Thanks to some mumbo-jumbo regarding trade assistance, 28 out of 188 House Democrats voted in favor of Fast Track, which sent it back to the Senate, minus trade assistance. (For the names of those House Democrats, see our last e-mail.)

The Senate will vote again on Fast Track, tomorrow. Basically, they’re just going to keep voting on it, until you get screwed.

Are you starting to see a pattern here? The job thieves are relentless. So we have to be relentless-er than they are. We need to be just as tireless, steadfast, resolute, persevering, unflagging and indefatigable as they are – more so. We can’t give up.

Which means that we need to hit the phones. Again.

Reproduced below, for whatever purposes you deem fit, are the names, addresses and URLs of 13 Senators who really, really ought to hear from you. And here is what they should hear, here:

(1) Our trade debt stands at eleven trillion dollars ($11,000,000,000,000.00). That’s more than $35,000 for every human being in America – including you. “Fast Track” would pave the way for new trade bills that would increase that. How are we ever going to pay that money back?
(2) Fast Track applies to whatever the Executive Branch calls a trade agreement, even if it has nothing to do with trade.
(3) Fast Track unconstitutionally restricts Congress from holding hearings, conducting investigations, debating a bill and offering amendments – basically, its job. In fact, it could restrict each House Member to only 83 seconds of debate.
(4) No other bills get this special treatment – not bills on taxes, or Social Security, or defense, or transportation, or healthcare. Nothing.
(5) Fast Track applies to trade bills that the Executive Branch hasn’t even released to the public.
(6) None of the “standards” that Fast Track sets for trade agreements is enforceable – not one single standard.

Hear, hear!

Tell them “NO” on Fast Track! Call or e-mail – just do it. Below is a list of every Senate Democrat who voted to let Fast Track steamroll over us, a month ago. Pick one, pick them all, and MAKE THEM LISTEN.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

Bennet, Michael F. - (D - CO)
261 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5852
Contact: www.bennet.senate.gov/contact/

Cantwell, Maria - (D - WA)
511 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3441
Contact: www.cantwell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-maria

Carper, Thomas R. - (D - DE)
513 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2441
Contact: carper.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-senator-carper

Coons, Christopher A. - (D - DE)
127A Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5042
Contact: www.coons.senate.gov/contact/

Feinstein, Dianne - (D - CA)
331 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3841
Contact: www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/e-mail-me

Heitkamp, Heidi - (D - ND)
110 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2043
Contact: www.heitkamp.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

Kaine, Tim - (D - VA)
388 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4024
Contact: www.kaine.senate.gov/contact

McCaskill, Claire - (D - MO)
730 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6154
Contact: www.mccaskill.senate.gov/contact

Murray, Patty - (D - WA)
154 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2621
Contact: www.murray.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contactme

Nelson, Bill - (D - FL)
716 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5274
Contact: www.billnelson.senate.gov/contact-bill

Shaheen, Jeanne - (D - NH)
506 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2841
Contact: www.shaheen.senate.gov/contact/

Warner, Mark R. - (D - VA)
475 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2023
Contact: www.warner.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Contact

Wyden, Ron - (D - OR)
221 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5244
Contact: www.wyden.senate.gov/contact/

RIGHT NOW – Call Congress, Blow Up the Phones

Yesterday, I asked you to burn up the phones on Capitol Hill. But today, we have to turn up the heat. Burning up the phones is not enough.

We have to blow up the phones.

In the next couple of HOURS, the House will vote on the Trade Assistance bill, and on Fast Track. The Trade Assistance bill is a booby trap. According to a tricky “House Rule” that passed by five votes last night, the Trade Assistance bill has to pass for Fast Track to pass.

We can’t let that happen. Call the House at (202) 224-3121, right now, ask for your Congressman, and tell him or her to VOTE NO.

Today, it’s “no” on everything and anything. It’s National No Day.

“Do your best Nancy Reagan imitation. Just say no.”

“Be the anti-Nike. Just don’t do it.”

No. Negative. Never. No way. Not by any means. Absolutely not.

By the way, this is working. One GOP Member of Congress told me yesterday that calls to his office are running 100-to-1 against Fast Track.

100-to-1!

But the time is now, and now is the time. Anomie is the enemy. Take that phone out of your pocket, and dial (202) 224-3121, like your life depended on it.

As I said yesterday, if you feel that your talk needs to be pointed, then here are your talking points:

(1) Our trade debt stands at eleven trillion dollars ($11,000,000,000,000.00). That’s more than $35,000 for every human being in America – including you. “Fast Track” would pave the way for new trade bills that would increase that. How are we ever going to pay that money back?
(2) Fast Track applies to whatever the Executive Branch calls a trade agreement, even if it has nothing to do with trade.
(3) Fast Track unconstitutionally restricts Congress from holding hearings, conducting investigations, debating a bill and offering amendments – basically, its job. In fact, it could restrict each House Member to only 83 seconds of debate.
(4) No other bills get this special treatment – not bills on taxes, or Social Security, or defense, or transportation, or healthcare. Nothing.
(5) Fast Track applies to trade bills that the Executive Branch hasn’t even released to the public.
(6) None of the “standards” that Fast Track sets for trade agreements is enforceable – not one single standard.

Or you can just say that you’re tired of Middle Class America getting hosed. I sure am.

Or you can say, “Alan Grayson told me to call.” Apparently, a lot of people are saying that. Or so I am told.

And before I forget, here is our list of Democratic undecideds from yesterday:

Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) – (202) 225-3341
Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) – (202) 225-2040
Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) – (202) 225-2861
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) – (202) 225-2645
Rep. John Carney (D-DE) – (202) 225-4165
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) – (202) 225-8020
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) – (202) 225-3236

Look, it’s showtime. Make the call. Get into the action. This is democracy, baby.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

It’s Time to Burn Up the Phones

“Burn up the phones” – what is that, some new cyberterrorism threat? A wild new “app”? Nope; it’s what happens when you, and like-minded others, exercise your right to be heard.

It’s time to burn up the phones on Capitol Hill.

The Powers That Be have set a vote on the horrific “Fast Track” bill tomorrow. (I would call it “execrable,” but I’m not exactly sure what that means.)

If you care about anything, anything at all, then please pick up the phone, call (202) 224-3121, ask for your Congressman, and register your disapproval. Say this: “Vote NO on Fast Track.”

If you feel that your talk needs to be pointed, then here are your talking points:

(1) Our trade debt stands at eleven trillion dollars ($11,000,000,000,000.00). That’s more than $35,000 for every human being in America – including you. “Fast Track” would pave the way for new trade bills that would increase that. How are we ever going to pay that money back?
(2) Fast Track applies to whatever the Executive Branch calls a trade agreement, even if it has nothing to do with trade.
(3) Fast Track unconstitutionally restricts Congress from holding hearings, conducting investigations, debating a bill and offering amendments – basically, its job. In fact, it could restrict each House Member to only 83 seconds of debate.
(4) No other bills get this special treatment – not bills on taxes, or Social Security, or defense, or transportation, or healthcare. Nothing.
(5) Fast Track applies to trade bills that the Executive Branch hasn’t even released to the public.
(6) None of the “standards” that Fast Track sets for trade agreements is enforceable – not one single standard.

Or you can just say that you’re tired of Middle Class America getting hosed. I sure am.

If you have a Democratic Congressman who “gets it” on Fast Track, then you can call one of these undecideds instead:

Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) – (202) 225-3341
Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) – (202) 225-2040
Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) (202) 225-2861
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) – (202) 225-2645
Rep. John Carney (D-DE) – (202) 225-4165
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) – (202) 225-8020
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) – (202) 225-3236

Try flattery – there’s plenty of that in Washington, D.C. “Sir or Ma’am, if you vote against Fast Track, your courage and leadership will ring in dulcet tones for generations to come. You will become a legend, not only in your own mind, but in the minds of every living human being, and fetuses too. Vote against Fast Track, and when you walk amongst your people, as they glance downward in respect, they will sing your praises: basses, baritones, tenors, contraltos, sopranos and even falsettos. They will shower you with flowers – not only mere annuals or biennials, but perennials that will bloom in the same manner as your overwhelming renown. You will be beloved and worshipped by considerably more than 50.1% of the electorate. If you vote against Fast Track, then everyone – and I mean everyone – will like the cut of your jib.”

Look, it’s showtime. Make the call. Let’s try to inject some democracy into the plutocracy.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

Tell Congress to Support the Grayson Amendment - TODAY

Big news: there will be a vote TODAY on the Grayson Amendment, to lift the veil of secrecy over trade giveaways.

Here is the amendment, regarding appropriations for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative:

“None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to negotiate or enter into a trade agreement whose negotiating texts are confidential.”

Call 202-224-3121, now, and tell your Representative to vote for the Grayson Amendment.

What does that mean? It means that trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership have to be revealed to the American People, not shoved down our throats.

Even Members of Congress have been jammed up over this. Here is what Sen. Barbara Boxer said about it, a month ago:

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., today blasted the secrecy shrouding the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.

“They said, well, it’s very transparent. Go down and look at it,” said Boxer on the floor of the Senate. “Let me tell you what you have to do to read this agreement. Follow this: you can only take a few of your staffers who happen to have a security clearance — because, God knows why, this is secure, this is classified. It has nothing to do with defense. It has nothing to do with going after ISIS.” Boxer, who has served in the House and Senate for 33 years, then described the restrictions under which members of Congress can look at the current TPP text. “The guard says, ‘you can’t take notes.’ I said, ‘I can’t take notes?’” Boxer recalled. “‘Well, you can take notes, but have to give them back to me, and I’ll put them in a file.’ So I said: ‘Wait a minute. I’m going to take notes and then you’re going to take my notes away from me and then you’re going to have them in a file, and you can read my notes? Not on your life.’” Should we let our economic future be bargained away, in secrecy? “Not on your life.”


Don’t let secret trade deals deprive us of our future. Call 202-224-3121, and tell your Representative to vote for the Grayson Amendment.

Normally, our Government classifies information to keep it away from foreigners. But with these trade agreements, the foreigners have the information – it’s Congress and the American People who don’t.

The European Union has taken the entire “Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership,” which our government claims is confidential, and posted it at a website. And WikiLeaks, to the embarrassment of our government, has done the same with parts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Q. What other laws can be negotiated in secret?

A. None. Our Constitution does not allow for secret laws.

Three years ago, more than 100 Members of Congress wrote to the U.S. Trade Representative, and asked him to make the Trans-Pacific Partnership public. He refused.

Last month, President Obama said that “any critic” could see the full text of the agreement. So far, no one has.

The Trade Representative is treating Congress like a mushroom farm: Keep us in the dark, and spread fertilizer all over us.

The truth shall set us free. Call 202-224-3121, and tell your Representative to vote for the Grayson Amendment.

Today, there will be a vote on the Grayson Amendment. If you’ve ever felt like calling Congress, today is the day. Not tomorrow – that will be too late. Today.

It doesn’t matter whether your Congressman is a Democrat or a Republican. We just need 218 votes, whether they are red or blue. And you can help make it happen.

We really need to shed some light on this trade treachery. And as Justice Louis Brandeis said, “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”

In short, the public has a right to know. Help make that happen.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

We’re not gonna take it.
Never did, and never will.
We’re not gonna take it.
Gonna break it.
Gonna shake it.
Let’s forget it, better still.


- “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” The Who (1969).
Posted by Alan Grayson | Wed Jun 3, 2015, 08:13 AM (1 replies)

Call These People, and Make Them Listen

Under the First Amendment, you have the right to petition your government to redress your grievances.

Now would be a good time to do that. Today.

According to public reports, the 18 Democratic Members of Congress listed below are leaning in favor of voting for “Fast Track,” legislation that would prevent Congress from debating or amending whatever the Executive Branch calls a “trade bill.” As a public service, we provide you their office phone numbers.

Rep. Ami Bera (Calif.) – 202-225-5716
Rep. Jim Costa (Calif.) - (202) 225-3341
Rep. Jared Polis (Colo.) - (202) 225-2161
Rep. Mike Quigley (Ill.) - (202) 225-4061
Rep. John Delaney (Md.) – (202) 225-2721
Rep. Brad Ashford (Neb.) – (202) 225-4155
Rep. Gregory Meeks (N.Y.) – (202) 225-3461
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.) – (202) 225-4811
Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (Ore.) – (202) 225-0855
Rep. Kurt Schrader (Ore.) – (202) 225-5711
Rep. Jim Cooper (Tenn.) – (202) 225-4311
Rep. Henry Cuellar (Texas) – (202) 225-1640
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas) - (202) 225-8885
Rep. Don Beyer (Va.) – (202) 225-4376
Rep. Gerry Connolly (Va.) – (202) 225-1492
Rep. Rick Larsen (Wash.) – (202) 225-2605
Rep. Derek Kilmer (Wash.) – (202) 225-5916
Rep. Ron Kind (Wis.) – (202) 225-5506

Call one; call them all. Call as many as you want. Exercise your constitutional right to redress your grievances. Make them listen.

(By the way, the system is rigged so that you can’t send them an e-mail unless you are a constituent. So you have to call.)

Here are some things that you might explain to them about this bad bill:

(1) Our trade debt stands at eleven trillion dollars ($11,000,000,000,000.00). That’s more than $35,000 for every human being in America – including you. “Fast Track” would pave the way for new trade bills that would increase that. How are we ever going to pay that money back?
(2) Fast Track applies to whatever the Executive Branch calls a trade agreement, even if it has nothing to do with trade.
(3) Fast Track unconstitutionally restricts Congress from holding hearings, conducting investigations, debating a bill and offering amendments – basically, its job. In fact, it could restrict each House Member to only 83 seconds of debate.
(4) No other bills get this special treatment – not bills on taxes, or Social Security, or defense, or transportation, or healthcare. Nothing.
(5) Fast Track applies to trade bills that the Executive Branch hasn’t even released to the public.
(6) None of the “standards” that Fast Track sets for trade agreements is enforceable – not one single standard.

Alternatively, you can just say that you’re tired of Middle Class America getting hosed. But whatever else you say, make sure you say this:

NO on Fast Track!

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Mon Jun 1, 2015, 01:16 PM (2 replies)

“We Have a Federal Deficit Because We Have a Trade Deficit.”

Team Grayson here. Recently, our Congressman with Guts was on national TV, explaining in simple terms the awful ramifications of the “Fast Track” trade legislation that had just passed the Senate, and is heading to the House. Proponents of “Fast Track” are proffering smoke and mirrors, as they try to jam it through Congress. Congressman Grayson is just about the only one in Washington, DC, who can blow away that smoke, and shatter those mirrors. Listen:

Thom Hartmann: In the best of the rest of the news, it’s illegal to disclose the details of “ObamaTrade.” And the President is using that secrecy to confuse the American people. Earlier this month, President Barack Obama downplayed Senator Elizabeth Warren’s opposition to the TPP because, he said, “she’s a politician like everyone else.” This week, Warren’s office released a report titled “Broken Promises: Decades of Failure to Enforce Labor Standards in Free Trade Agreements.” Rather than criticizing the TPP outright, the report shows what happened over 20 years of so-called “free trade deals” promising to help American workers and consumers. Yesterday, Presidential consultant Michael Wessel published a story in Politico showing how the Obama Administration has made it impossible for elected officials, or advisors like himself, to criticize details of the deal. And unlike past trade deals, even the Administration’s cleared advisors, like Michael Wessel himself, can’t make specific public criticisms. They also aren’t being kept up-to-date on what revisions and proposals are being made by partner countries, which make consultations much more restrictive than past administration’s trade deals, according to Wessel.

Taking the Senate floor last week, Barbara Boxer shared her story about trying to read the TPP’s text. Take a look:

Sen. Barbara Boxer: And as soon as I get there, the guard says to me ‘hand over your electronics.’ OK. I gave over my electronics. Then the guard says ‘You can’t take notes.’ I said ‘I can’t take notes?!’ ‘Well, you can take notes, but you have to give them back to me and I’ll put them in a file.’ So I said ‘Wait a minute, I’m going to take notes, and then you’re going to take my notes away from me? And then you’re going to have them in a file and you can read my notes?’”

TH: So our elected officials can’t make notes, can’t make real public criticisms, and the President’s advisors are not even up to date on changes to the deal? And we’re supposed to believe that this deal is being negotiated in the best interests of the American people? Here now to discuss what’s going on with the TPP, and the TPA , US Representative for Florida’s 9th District, Congressman Alan Grayson. Congressman Grayson, welcome back!

Congressman Alan Grayson: Thank you.

TH: And thanks so much for being with us and for sharing with us that extraordinary video that you did that’s over at TradeTreachery.com. Do I have that right?

REP. GRAYSON: That’s right, and more than a million people have watched it on Facebook alone.

TH: Oh, that’s fabulous. Let’s start at the beginning here. Can you explain the difference between the TPP and the TPA, this new acronym that the Administration has rolled out? Go for it.

REP. GRAYSON: Yes, sure. The TPA is procedural, the TPP is substantive. The TPA is what people have been referring to when they speak of “fast track legislation,” when they refer to that. The TPP is the deal itself, which the fast track legislation would create a fast track for. Then there’s the TTIP, which is the Atlantic version of the TPP. That’s also a substantive arrangement – a treaty, if you will – that the fast track would enable.

TH: So, what is the argument against Fast Track, the TPA? Let’s start with that, because that’s what’s being debated right now.

REP. GRAYSON: Well, it’s a delegation of our legislative responsibilities to the executive branch and to unelected officials. What Fast Track does, very simply, is that it takes away our responsibility for hearings, for oversight, for subcommittee and committee and floor amendments, and in the Senate, even the filibuster. It sweeps all of that away to make a “fast track” for this so-called trade legislation that would increase the deficit, send jobs offshore, and eliminate our sovereignty. That’s what it does. In fact, one provision in the fast track legislation limits the debate for House members on this bill to 83 seconds each. That’s 83 seconds each!

TH: Wow. To your best understanding of what’s in the deal, and I realize if you’ve read any part of it you can’t tell us because you would go to jail … What will, in your opinion, what will the TPP do to the American worker and the American economy?

REP. GRAYSON: Drive us deeper and deeper into debt, and further destroy our jobs base. What the TPP does is that it continues a long line of trade giveaways that started with NAFTA. Since NAFTA went into effect, we’ve lost 5 million manufacturing jobs, and 15 million other jobs. Fast-Track greases the skids for deals like that to go even further. Right now we have free trade agreements, about a dozen of them, with 18 relatively small countries. Fast-Track, the TPP, the TTIP, all of those would extend that to 50 other countries, almost overnight. And the problem we have is very simple: We are buying the goods and services from other countries, we’re putting them to work, and in return they’re not buying an equal amount of our goods and services. Instead, they’re lending us the money to buy their goods and services, buying our assets, not creating any jobs in the United States by buying our assets, making inequality in this country higher and higher, and driving us deeper and deeper into debt. That’s how we end up with an $11 trillion cumulative trade debt. $11 trillion! Every man, woman, and child in this country already owes $35,000 apiece to foreigners, and these deals would make that worse.

TH: For decades, conservatives have been hysterical about the budget deficit. This is not the budget deficit you’re referring to, it’s the trade deficit. It’s the difference between what we bring in from selling things versus what we put out buying things. Can you talk a little bit about exactly why we should be concerned about the trade deficit, and why is it that most Americans don’t even know that there is a trade deficit, much less one that last month, for example, was $50 billion?

REP. GRAYSON: Well, the government deficit is money that we owe to ourselves. For the most part, the holders of government debt are Americans. So, if we needed to pay off the debt, we could do that. If we were willing to raise taxes, we could pay off the debt very quickly. We were heading in that direction under the Clinton Administration. We were only 8 years away under the Clinton Administration from paying off all the federal debt. The trade debt, the trade deficit, is entirely different. That’s not money we owe to ourselves. That is 100% money that we owe to people and businesses in other countries, even governments in other countries. And the result of that is that we can’t tax ourselves to pay that off. All we can do is hope that they don’t ask for their money back. And we’re talking about half a trillion dollars every year. In fact, the 14 largest trade deficits in the history of the human race are our 14 last trade deficits, going back during the last 14 years. It’s a half a trillion dollars a year, over a billion dollars a day, and cumulatively now over $11 trillion. And it all started with NAFTA. Before NAFTA went into effect, in 200 years of our history, we never had a trade deficit of $135 billion in any year. Every single year since NAFTA has gone into effect, for over 20 years, we’ve had a trade deficit of over $135 billion. And one causes the other. Because when you take that money out of our economy, when you take that money out of buying our goods and services, the government has to step in and make up the difference; otherwise, our economy collapses. The reason why we have a federal deficit is because we have a trade deficit.

TH: Wow. And it’s astonishing to me that this conversation never happens on the Sunday shows, it never happens in the mainstream media, and the vast majority of Americans don’t know what you’re talking about when you talk about the trade deficit, as opposed to the federal deficit. It’s astonishing. Mitch McConnell recently said that the reason why he’s pushing so hard for TPA, for Fast-Track, was not specifically for the TPP, for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or what I call “SHAFTA,” the Southern Hemisphere Asian Free Trade Agreement, but that it’s because it’s a six-year authorization, and he fully expects that the next President will be a Republican. And that Republican President, for the first four years of his presidency, assuming he or she is elected to more than one term, would be able to push through all kinds of “trade deals,” all over the place. Shouldn’t that really be front-and-center? Again, that seems like something that most Americans don’t know, that Mitch McConnell even said it, much less that that’s how the Republicans are thinking.

REP. GRAYSON: Well, that may be true, but look, there’s been a bi-partisan “shafting” of the American public. The initial trade deal, NAFTA, was something that was passed under a Democratic President. And we’ve had more of these passed under Democratic Presidents and Republican Presidents alike. In fact, there’s a unity among our elites in this country. They’ll do whatever they need to do to help multinational corporations increase their profits, even if it means giving away our sovereignty. That seems to be the one thing that Democrats and Republicans seem to agree on these days. “Let’s placate, let’s appease, let’s give more power to the multinational corporations through these trade deals, and to hell with America.”

TH: Yeah. Last week we had 13 Democrats go along with the Republicans for Fast-Track in the Senate.

REP. GRAYSON: And they switched to do that!

TH: Right.

REP. GRAYSON: They switched!

TH: Right – right!

REP. GRAYSON: It’s the classic case of “I was against it before I was for it.” And it will dog them for the rest of their days.

TH: Right. And I think they switched the day after the big train crash, and so most people don’t even know about it. Again, it didn’t get covered by cable news. So, anyhow, that’s where it’s at in the Senate right now. Where’s Fast-Track in the House?

REP. GRAYSON: Fast-Track in the House is waiting for Fast-Track in the Senate. Everybody agreed the Senate would go first. In fact, when Fast-Track was originally introduced, which was in the last Congress, the 113th Congress, it the Senate, and was dormant for two years. Now it’s being pushed forward, because the TPP, the TTIP, these other deals behind it are almost ready. So now they need to push Fast-Track through. The original plan was to wait for the “lame duck” session , but they weren’t ready for that, so now they’re going to jam it through right now, as best as they can. And this means coming down hard, hard, on anybody who wants to maintain our labor base, our labor standards; protect our environmental laws, our safety laws; make sure, instead, that multinational corporations get every single thing they want.

TH: Right. And you can learn all about it at TradeTreachery.com. And there’s also an interesting website for conservatives, it’s called ObamaTrade.com, and it’s the Conservative argument against it. The hard-right argument, let’s say. Yesterday, the World Trade Organization ruled that our United States country of origin labels on meat violate global “free trade” standards. First, I’m curious if you’re familiar with the ruling.

REP. GRAYSON: Yes.

TH: And if you could comment on it. And secondly, is this the sort of thing that we can expect more of under TPP?

REP. GRAYSON: It’ll be that, and worse. Basically, what we’re doing is that we’re setting up – and this is according to published reports; I’m not giving out any secret or confidential information, this is on WikiLeaks – we’re setting up a secret tribunal before the World Bank, and another secret tribunal before the United Nations. Both of these tribunals will be able to issue enforceable awards, arbitration awards or judgements, against not just our federal government, but also our state governments, our county governments, and our municipal governments. And they can do so whenever a corporation believes that its right, it’s God-given right, to profit, has been impaired – by a safety regulation, a health regulation, an environmental regulation, or simply a labeling regulation, like the one that you described.

TH: Yeah, it’s absolutely astonishing. TradeTreachery.com, you’ve got to check it out. And watch the video that Congressman Grayson put together. It is brilliant. Congressman Alan Grayson, you are such a light in Congress. Thank you for being with us tonight.

REP. GRAYSON: Thank you, Thom.

Yes, if you haven’t seen our Trade Treachery video, then check it out, by clicking here. And whether or not you’ve seen it, help us get out the word on it, and fight back against trade treachery, by contributing to our “Truth in Trade” Fund today. Over 1,000,000 people have watched the Trade Treachery video on Facebook already; with a little bit of help from you, we can double that. Help us spread the word.

1,000,000+ Saw This Video. Let’s Double That.

Q. Can a video capture a moment?

A. Yes.

During its first week online, one million people watched our Trade Treachery video on Facebook.

Let me say that again: One million people watched our Trade Treachery video, in the first week alone.

Nine million people heard about it. Almost 100,000 people “liked” it. Over 50,000 people shared it with all their Facebook friends. It drew well over 25,000 comments. And around 75,000 people provided their e-mail addresses to us, so that we can keep them informed about what they can do to help.

That’s not just a video. That’s a movement.

Why has this video gone viral? Because it explains, in simple terms, exactly what’s wrong with the “Fast Track” bill and the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership. And more fundamentally, it explains exactly what’s been wrong with US economic policy for the past 20 years. In a nutshell, we’re buying their stuff, and they’re not buying ours. So we lose the jobs, and we go deeper and deeper into debt, to pay for their stuff.

Here’s what we need to do: Make sure that everyone sees this video. And with your help, we can do that. Contribute today to our “Truth in Trade” campaign, to help us spread the word. It may be hard to believe, but $50 from you today means that we can tell 7000 more people about this video, this organizing tool for the 21st century.

The House of Representatives may vote on the “Fast Track” bill as soon as next week. Listen up: we have to fight back against trade treachery, and we have to fight back now, before it’s too late. To see the video, or to support our “Truth in Trade” campaign, click here, and click now.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson
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