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Alan Grayson

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Member since: Sat May 22, 2010, 01:02 PM
Number of posts: 382

Journal Archives

Constitutional Con Artists

This week, House Republicans are putting forward a bill called the "Northern Route Approval Act." This bill overrides the President's authority to make decisions on the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Whatever you think about the Keystone Pipeline, this bill is blatantly unconstitutional. The Constitution provides for a legislative branch, which creates legislation -- laws of general application. It also provides for an executive branch, which executes the laws. This is known as the separation of powers. The bill that the Republicans are putting forward is a clear violation of this principle.

The bill does one more thing: it bestows special favors on a foreign oil company, TransCanada. It lets the corporation build the Keystone XL pipeline without going through normal government approval processes, and even gives TransCanada a free right-of-way worth millions of dollars. House Republicans have said they want to get rid of Congressional earmarks. Yet here they are, bestowing an earmark anyway.

I challenged the Republicans on these points. I made two arguments, and put forward what is known as a "privileged resolution" outlining them. One, the House cannot vote on a bill that is unconstitutional. And two, under the House Rules that the Republicans insisted on, the House cannot vote on a bill that is a clear earmark. Contrary to the House Rules, the Chairman ruled this privileged resolution "out of order."

I'm no longer going to let the Republicans get away with claiming that they care about the Constitution when they trample all over it. And if they are going to cry about earmarks, they are going to have to justify why they want to bestow a special earmark on a foreign oil company.

I've linked my letter to Speaker Boehner here.

No more free passes.

It's time to fight back.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

Letter from Birmingham Jail

Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of the first publication of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” King was jailed for campaigning against racial segregation in Birmingham, in violation of an injunction against anyone “parading, demonstrating, boycotting, trespassing and picketing.” His letter was written on the margins of a newspaper, scraps of paper that another prisoner gave to him, and then a legal pad that his attorney left behind. It has been an inspiration to millions of people; I am one of them. Here are some excerpts:

MY DEAR FELLOW CLERGYMEN: . . . .

I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly....

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we stiff creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging dark of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Fu town is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you go forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness" then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience....

But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal ..." So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime---the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists....

I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham, and all over the nation, because the goal of America freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America's destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation-and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands....

One day the South will recognize its real heroes. There will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face jeering and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer. There will be the old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy-two-year-old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness: "My feets is tired, but my soul is at rest." There will be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience' sake. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo-Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Never before have I written so long a letter. I'm afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers?...

Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Trade Sell-Out: Out of the Mouths of Citizens….

If you have received my e-mails for a while, you know that I sometimes refer to you all, affectionately, as "Alan's Army." You are passionate, smart and dedicated. But last week you were something else: Amazing.

I told you about a proposed partnership between multinational corporations and their sellout tools in government (a/k/a the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). The TTIP features "investor-state" dispute resolution, which invites huge corporations to file lawsuits to prevent government actions that they just don't like, such as health and safety regulations. Similar trade agreements have allowed the World Trade Organization to strike down country-of-origin meat labels, dolphin-safe tuna labels and limits on candy-flavored cigarettes marketed to kids.

I asked you to send your thoughts to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), who will help decide whether to enter into this corrupt abridgement of American sovereignty.

Alan's Army responded – and how! In all, 9,625 of us submitted comments. Let me tell you how our response stacks up. Before we got involved, the USTR received only 113 comments in 88 days – many from corporate lobbyists. We added almost 100 times that amount, in a little more than 24 hours. Again, amazing.

Now, let's make our voices heard again. Tomorrow the House Ways and Means Committee, the committee with jurisdiction over trade, will hold a hearing on the TTIP. I plan to deliver a letter to the Committee expressing my disdain for this betrayal, and more specifically, that 30-pieces-of-silver investor-state dispute resolution clause. You can join me.

Click here to sign my letter opposing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

I would love to have 10,000 citizen soldiers of the Alan's Army on board. You did it once. Can you do it again?

And please, share this with your friends. We want ourArmy to grow.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

P.S. Some of you responded with eloquence. Others with anger. And a few of you were just plain nasty (and you know how much I enjoy that). Here are a few of my favorite comments:

As Thomas Jefferson put it, "I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country." – Paul from Sharon, MA

Corporations are running this world already. They need to be severed at the knees. This is Fascism, plain and simple. – Ralph from Blackduck, Minnesota

SERIOUSLY? YOU MUST BE COMPLETELY CRAZY TO CONSIDER ALLOWING CORPORATIONS TO SUE GOVERNMENTS! CRAZY OR EVIL. – Georgia from Novato, CA

I am opposed to this misnamed trade agreement in its entirety. It should more properly be called a cowardly corporate surrender document. – Jim from Ballston Spa, NY

American citizens can afford no further capitulation to greed-driven economics and legislation. It is time for those who have always bought their solutions to finally learn the word "No" lest we slip further into ownership by corporate powers and cease to be a nation of the people for the people. – Christina from Maplewood, MN

I am dead set against this agreement and the Trans Pacific agreement as well. What the hell are you guys smoking, anyway? – Bryan from West Linn, OR

I smell NAFTA (NO AMERICAN FACTORIES TAKING APPLICATIONS) and GATT (GANGSTERS AGREEMENT ON TRADE AND TARIFFS). – Mike from Seattle, WA

This is unconscionable! Why are we even considering this? Oh, I forgot...corporations are now more important than people. NOT!!! – Dee from Madison, WI

This is the worst of all the stupidest things I have ever heard of. – Stephen from<br /> Rochester, NY

If this insanity continues I will start pledging allegiance to the United Corporation of America! – Cornelius from West Amherst, NY

Unbelievable. Did Mitt Romney start this piece of crap? – Thomas from Phoenix, AZ

90-Year-Olds Would Face $1000-A-Year Cuts

As the quest for a so-called "grand bargain" to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits "in exchange for" modest tax increases on the rich lurches forward, we thought that you might enjoy this brief moment of clarity from a recent national TV interview with Congressman Alan Grayson:

John Fugelsang: You posted . . . that the President's offer, essentially to cut Social Security benefits for seniors, does break a promise to America's seniors. Some Republicans, of course, seem to like that. So, will Democrats support it, or will they support cuts to other social programs?

Congressman Alan Grayson: Well, the President specifically said in September 2008 that he would not change the formula for calculating the cost-of-living adjustment. That take $1,000 a year out of the pockets of 90-year-olds. As for whether the Democrats will support it, I don't know, but I know they shouldn't.We've lined up 35 Democrats here in the House already who say, in the "Grayson-Takano Letter," that they will vote against any cuts in Social Security, or Medicare, or Medicaid benefits.

John: So let me ask you, is it worth keeping the sequester cuts and foregoing any new revenues, in return for keeping Social Security as it is?

Alan: That's not a choice that we should ever have to make.Social Security is not responsible for the deficit. The Social Security Fund has $1.9 trillion in it. It's the largest sovereign wealth fund in the entire world. The Social Security Fund has been operating at a surplus now ever since the fund was founded, ever since the program was founded.We are 25 years away from anything resembling a problem of any kind with the Social Security system. In the next quarter of a century, under current law, the beneficiaries can get all that they're entitled to. I don't understand why we're fretting over what might or might not happen in the year 2037, when we have 25 million Americans who are looking for full-time jobs .

John: Well as you know, here on Viewpoint, we don't like to call these programs 'entitlements'--we call them 'earned benefits'. But is there no compromise to be had for the President, unless he offers something like that up?

Alan: That's just not the way you negotiate. The President has offered something up, in return for nothing. There's no sign that the Republicans have any interest in making any sort of deal with the President, and even if they did, we're not talking about things that are commensurate with each other. You can't equate cutting Social Security benefits, cutting Medicare benefits -- breaking the promise that we Americans have made to ourselves, the covenant that we make to ourselves -- you can't equate that with having millionaires and billionaires and multinational corporations finally pay their fair share of taxes.

John: With over 80% of the Bush tax cuts made permanent, I would add. So, let me ask you then, sir, for President Obama, is this an elaborate piece of political theater? Is he taking a page out of Dick Morris' playbook for Bill Clinton by triangulating against House Democrats on this issue? So he can put himself in the middle of the political spectrum, where they say most voters live?

Alan: He may think so, but he's making a terrible mistake.This is not a 'Sister Souljah' moment for the President. In fact, the President, I believe, is soon going to find through public polling that this is a terrible mistake.90% of Democrats and 80% of the Republicans are against this specific proposal. If you're talking more generally about cuts in benefits, you find that 80% of the Democrats and 65% of the Republicans are against this kind of proposal. This doesn't make any sense, either from a policy point of view, or a moral point of view, or even a political point of view. In fact,the President is putting at risk all the progress that we've made in identifying the Republican Party as the party in favor of cuts for Medicare and Social Security benefits, and the Democratic Party as the party that will protect the public from the Republicans.

Click here to see the video, or to show your support for our Congressman With Guts.

Let’s Whip the GOP on Social Security

How to protect Social Security, in two easy steps:

Step One: enlist an army. We've done that – 3,000,000 people have signed petitions demanding "No Cuts" to Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Step Two: bring the politicians face-to-face with our army. Here's how:

I've set up a website where you can help me get every Member of Congress on the record about Social Security and veterans benefit cuts. Go to www.CitizenWhip.com, and I'll show you how to ask your Member of Congress what he or she thinks. Then, after a few days, I'll ask you to tell us what he or she said in response. We'll collect all of the responses in one place, and then we'll know which Members of Congress are for and against these cuts. And by Election Day on Nov. 4, 2014, so will their voters.

http://www.CitizenWhip.com

The polling on Social Security is very clear -- voters like it just the way it is. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Southern voters like it. Northern voters like it. Democratic voters like it. Republican voters like it.

Social Security is like birthday cake. Everyone likes birthday cake.

For years, certain Members of Congress have been quietly telling their Wall Street paymasters they will cut Social Security benefits, and divert that money to Wall Street. They've been hiding this from their voters, many of whom have no idea that their Social Security benefits are being threatened. It's time to "out" these would-be Judas Members of Congress, by forcing every Member to state publicly his or her position on these important questions.

What's your Member of Congress's position on Social Security and veterans benefit cuts? Help us all find out.

One thing that's neat about this project is that by participating, you will learn a little bit about what it's like actually to be a Member of Congress. In Congress, a "whip" counts the votes for or against something. For instance, I'm the "Regional Whip" for House Democrats in Florida and Georgia. Typically, a whip is a member of a legislature, but in this case, it's you. A citizen. You're the whip. That's the reason why our site is called "Citizen Whip."

If we can make this work, we'll have a new relationship between citizens and Congress. Citizens won't just vote, call and e-mail. They'll also whip.

So, let's get your Member of Congress on the record. Click here:

http://www.CitizenWhip.com

Welcome to the Grayson Citizen Whip Team. This is just the beginning, and you're part of it.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

We Need Another Democrat

I'm trying my best. But there is a limit to what I can accomplish when there are 232 Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives (a/k/a “the Comatose Caucus”) and only 201 Democrats.

If we're going to win more votes, and pass more good bills, then we need more Democrats. Democracy is like that.

Tomorrow, there is a special election in South Carolina to replace Tim Scott, who was the last remaining African-American Republican in the House. (There are 42 African-American Democrats in the House.) The Republican nominee is former Governor Sanford. The Democratic nominee is Elizabeth Colbert Busch. Despite the fact that President Obama lost this district last year by 18 points, in the latest poll, the two candidates are only one point apart.

I'm not going to make fun of Governor Sanford. That's just too easy.

Nor am I going to ask you to support Colbert Busch because her brother is Stephen Colbert of the Comedy Central Channel. By the same token, I will not ask you to support Warren Beatty for Congress just because his sister is Shirley MacLaine. Same thing with Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez. Also Peter Graves and James Arness. And Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine.

I could ask you to support Colbert Busch because, according to one report, she is pro-choice, she backs marriage equality, and she supports immigration reform. So I could ask you to support her without feeling my gorge rise. But I won't do it for that reason alone.

No, I'm going to ask you to support her campaign because the last thing that we need in the U.S. House of Representatives right now is another Republican. And the thing that we do need is more Democrats. Seventeen more Democrats, to be exact.

We've established a contribution page to help her campaign. Click here, etc., etc. Let's take back the House.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Mon May 6, 2013, 04:55 PM (9 replies)

Medicare Should Cover Glasses, Hearing Aids and Dental Work

Our subject today is Congressman Grayson's recent bold statement that Medicare should cover glasses, hearing aids and dental work, because, as he put it, "most seniors have eyes, ears and teeth." But before we get to that, we just want to remind you that today is the last day to qualify for a chance to join Alan at Disney World next month by contributing $25 or more to his re-election campaign. We now return to our regularly scheduled commercial programming.

A couple of weeks ago, key progressive officials joined a conference call with grassroots leaders about how to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from Republican benefit cuts like the so-called "chained CPI." Earlier this week, we shared Congressman Grayson's statement on that call with you. Now, here is some of the Q&A:

Adam : We have a question from William Packson's e-mail , in Congressman Grayson's home state. He says:

"I am receiving $11,208 per year , out of which I must pay medical bills, rent, food, utilities, transportation, and prescriptions. As it is, there is not enough to pay for all necessities. What is Congress planning on doing to the cost of living adjustments?"

Congressman, would you like to take that first?

Alan: Well, sure. Unfortunately, there are Members of Congress, who are called Republicans, who are planning cuts to cost of living adjustments. The "chained CPI" is fakery that will recalculate the cost of living adjustments – basically with the idea that if the cost of gasoline doubles, that doesn't represent a doubling in the cost of living, because some people will have to walk to work, not being able to afford gasoline. So they put more shoe leather into the calculation, and less gas. It's just cheating. I laid this out in an email I sent around, in a blog post a few weeks ago. they are just trying to baffle us with "you-know-what." It's not fair. It doesn't fully reflect the increase of the cost of living. And it's a shame, because as the caller points out, right now the money you get from Social Security isn't even enough to raise you above the poverty level. We are not giving our seniors enough to live above the poverty level. Imagine what it would be like if they got less. (And I'm saying "less" in some real sense.) So I think it's unconscionable.

I don't know exactly why Republicans feel the same way about cutting Social Security and Medicare like the way a moth feels about a flame. I don't understand that, but we have to deal with it.

The Sequester is in danger of becoming the latest excuse for giving rein to this desire to hurt old people, hurt poor people, hurt sick people -- and we just can't allow it. We've got a system that accurately assesses cost of living increases, and we have to protect it from attacks by the other side. . . .

Peter King : Okay. Thank you very much. I'm actually based out of Orlando, which is Congressman Grayson's home state. And you know this is obviously a very partisan position, and the message here is very much Democrats versus Republicans. . . . s there anything here that you would be willing to compromise at all? I mean Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid are all really broad programs. And there is arguably a lot of waste in some of these programs. Just wondering to see if there is anything you could move an inch or a foot on here, to get rolling? . . .

Alan: Well first, it used to be that there was consensus on this. It used to be that Democrats and Republicans agreed that there should not be cuts to benefits for Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare – and that's changed. People used to regard Social Security as the "third rail" in American politics. You've probably heard that phrase before. But now, Republicans are not only touching the third rail, they are dancing on it. And that's unfortunate. You know, Reagan used to say 'I didn't leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me.' I think there are probably a lot of Republicans in the country, particularly seniors, who are scratching their heads and saying, 'I didn't leave the Republican Party, the Republican Party left me.' By this unquenchable thirst right now to hurt the needy. To hurt seniors, poor people, people who need medical care and just want to see a doctor when they are sick. It's not consistent with the original conception of Republicanism, of conservatism. We are trying to conserve these programs -- you'd think that "conservatives" would be with us.

But to get to your question, I will tell you this: I think you can eliminate fraud . You can eliminate waste, you can eliminate abuse – and in no sense would you break this promise. This is a promise that is very clear. It's that we are going to "vote against any and every <u>cut against Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security <u>benefits." Benefits – that's what the recipients actually see. If they're in Medicare and they go to a doctor that means there are major procedures that are covered, and those are not going to change.

If we can eliminate or reduce waste, fraud and abuse of these programs, that doesn't change their benefits. If we can run the program more efficiently, that doesn't change their benefits. If we change the payment plan, the Social Security tax, the Medicare tax, that doesn't change the benefits. If we change what doctors get paid for procedures, that doesn't change the benefits, either. It's what the recipients see .

You know, we can't ask people to pay into these programs year after year, decade after decade, and then when it's their turn, we say to them, "Well, you know, the law was that you had to be sixty-five , but now you have to seventy-two." That's not fair. It wouldn't be fair if the private entity did it. It wouldn't be fair if the government did it, either.

So the answer to your question is 'yes.' Of course you can make changes to the program, and then make the program better. I'd like to see Medicare cover eyewear. I'd like to see it cover hearing aids. I'd like to see it cover dental work. As far as I know, most seniors have eyes, ears and teeth. Laughs.
] I think these things should be covered. I'd like to move in that direction. That would improve these programs. But in terms of cutting benefits, no – that's not fair.

Isn't it about time that someone said that we should be perfecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, not cutting them? Well, someone just did.

If you would like a chance to join that special someone in Orlando, then please click here. Last chance, last dance, last romance.

How To Protect Social Security: Strategy Session

Before we get down to business, just a brief reminder: if you would like a chance to join Congressman Grayson at Disney World, then click here and contribute $25 or more to his reelection campaign today.

Evidence mounts each day that The Powers That Be in Washington are looking to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits.  A couple of weeks ago, some key progressive leaders joined a conference call hosted by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), to discuss how to protect and defend Social Security and Medicare.  Here is what Congressman Grayson had to say:

Adam Green: Hey folks, thank you so much for joining . This is Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. And I want to welcome you to our briefing today. In the midst of this sequester, we have great Progressives talking about their positions on the cuts. . . .  So without further ado, we are very proud to first turn things over to one of our bold, Progressive heroes, Congressman Grayson.

Congressman Alan Grayson: Yes. Thank you. Thanks very much. When we first put this letter together, I thought hard about the promise that it makes. And let me read it to you verbatim:

"We are writing to the President to let you know that we will vote against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits -- including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need."

I gave it a lot of thought before I signed off on this letter, as to whether I really meant it, whether that was my "red line."  I tried to think about all the different possibilities that might come up, the things that might go into a bill that would cut , what would be appealing to me. Honestly, I thought, 'What if they had said they were going to end the war in Afghanistan? ' -- that's something very important to me. But I realized in the end that I had nothing. I couldn't think of a single thing that could be put into a bill that would make me willing to break our promise to our constituents, for something they earned and so badly need. They paid for it. They need it. They want it. They deserve it.  It's that simple.

And I understand the difficulty that many people may have in this Congress, in predicting what might come up and making a commitment, making up their minds. A lot of people always want to keep their options open.  But I think this is a fair test.  This is a fair test.

This is a fair test of your commitment to basic principles, because a cut to Social Security benefits, Medicare benefits, Medicaid benefits is cheating old people, cheating poor people, cheating sick people. That's what it comes down to.  It's taking something away from them that they need it to live – something they've earned themselves. And I can't do it. So I'm happy to say to the President, to you all, and to anybody else that listens: I won't do it. I just won't. I'm not going to use my vote to hurt people who are that needy and that deserving. I won't do it.

And I'm apparently not the only who feels this way, because even though we have had this letter just out now for a couple of weeks, before today we had 25 Members of Congress who had signed on to this letter. Today, there are two more. We have been joined by Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts and William Lacy Clay of Missouri. And there will be more to come, because first of all, it's right, and secondly, it's good politics. And that has become clear to me more and more, as I talk to people.

I had a reporter come to me and ask me, "Is this like the Grover Norquist 'No Tax Increase Pledge?"' I said, "Yeah, sure, just like a fish is like a bicycle."

If you promise that you won't raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires and multinational corporations, that shows whom you really represent. And if you say that you won't cut benefits for old people, sick people, poor people, that shows whom you care about, too.

These programs are the greatest accomplishments of the Democratic Party and the Progressive Movement for the past 80 years. They are things that every other country with an advanced economy takes for granted.  Every other country has universal healthcare. Every other country has old-age pensions – every single one of them. And there is no reason I can think of why we have to be different -- particularly when you consider the Social Security trust fund has almost $2 trillion in net worth.

So that's what it comes down to. I want their party, the other party, to be known as the party that only cares for millionaires, billionaires and multinational corporations -- and they prove it through their pledge.  I want our party, our movement, to be known about the party that cares about poor people, needy people, sick people, who have earned the benefits that they deserve to get.

And that's a clear line I want the American people to see. It's something that I feel in my heart. And I also feel that it's great politics, because people deserve a choice. You know, you can't reach a point in this country where the only choice you get it is between Diet Coke and Coke Zero. That's not good enough. We need people to be able to choose.  And choose for real. There needs to be a clear line, clear difference, when they cast their vote. They need to know who they're voting for and why. And I think this is the best possible example – this makes it all clear.

I can go into my next election next year – and twenty-six other Democrats can go into their next election next year – knowing that we have provided certain amount of clarity about what is at stake for the people when they vote in our districts: You are either for The People or against them. And we've shown what side we're on.

That, ultimately, is the question in politics: whose side are you on?...

Which leaves us with an interesting question:  Whose side are you on?  Congressman Grayson is on your side.  Will you show that you're on his side, by contributing to his re-election campaign before the end of the quarter? Two lucky supporters will join Congressman Grayson at Disney World.  But every single supporter will have shown . . .

WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?

"A Budget That’s Bad Even For White Guys"

Last week, Congressman Grayson joined Rev. Al Sharpton on MSNBC, to talk about the Ryan Budget, the Republicans' blueprint for stealing from the poor to give to the rich. Republicans in the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly for this "get poor quick scheme" for America. Here is what Rep. Grayson had to say about it:

Reverend Al Sharpton: Joining me now is Congressman -- Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson . . . .

Congressman Alan Grayson: Thanks.

Rev. Al: Congressman, this will be the third time Republicans voted on a version of the Ryan Budget. And it might be the worst one yet. How do you explain these Republicans in the House?

Alan: Well, the Ryan Budget should have been relegated a long time ago to the septic tank of history. But here it is again. It's bad , for seniors, it's bad for children, and it's bad for everyone, even white guys. You wonder why they keep bringing it back over and over again. It raises the debt by $6 trillion -- that's $20,000 for every man, women, and child in this country -- for the sake of giving a $400,000 tax break to millionaires. The Republicans are literally trying to bribe millionaires with their own money....

Rev. Al: Now, you know, Congressman, today during the debate, House Republicans actually insisted that government spending can't create jobs. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

Congressman James Lankford: We're not promoting additional stimulus spending as the budget is being proposed right now is. A giant proposal for additional spending did not help us several years ago. Jobs do not come from additional federal spending long term.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Rev. Al: But Congressman, new polls show that Americans of both parties want the federal government to spend to create jobs. 91% of Democrats and 63% of Republicans support a federal government program that would put people to work through infrastructure repairs; what they support. And 93% of Democrats and 56% of Republicans support the federal government spending money to create more than a million new jobs. This is just a fact. And they are saying that government doesn't create jobs. That government spending will not do it.

Alan: I think that it shows that the public has a much better grip on reality than the Republican Party does. Look at state after state where the Republicans have been in charge. They have cut government spending in those states. They have laid off firefighters, they've laid off teachers, they've laid off police officers, they've laid off all sorts of public servants, and destroyed those jobs. In those states like mine, like in Florida, unemployment has remained high. I'm not going to get into some abstract debate about whether government spending creates jobs, because we've seen with our own eyes the past few years (and we're about to see again with the federal sequester) that cutting government spending definitely destroys jobs, and that's what we're going to see right now. We have a $14 trillion economy with $13 trillion of demand. And the government is making up the difference. If the government stops, this economy will collapse. Maybe Republicans will be happy , because there will be a reserve army of 25 million unemployed people. But as for the Middle Class in America, it's going to be all over. . . .

Rev. Al: Congressman, you know, we saw you going to Boehner's office with petitions for 300,000 signatures about ending the sequester. But who's going to fight them on these -- the need for jobs, the need to stop this nonsense? I mean, are you going to take them on? Who's going to stop this nonsense in Congress?

Alan: Well, I'm hoping that the 750,000 people at a minimum who will lose their jobs because of the Republican sequester will take them on. I'm hoping that the 3,000,000 people who may end up losing their jobs because those 750,000 people have no money left to spend on their rent, on housing, on health care, on food, all of the things that keep other people employed, I'm hoping that they are complaining about it, too.  We did take 300,000 petitions directly to Boehner's office, to show him that at least there are 300,000 people in this country with their eyes wide open, who understand that if we stop this , if we cut these jobs, we're going to end up hurting ourselves. And this notion that the Recovery Act didn't do any good is just nonsense. In my neighborhood, the Recovery Act paid to replace the trailers that my children were going to school in. I have five children who are in public school in Orlando. They were going to school in trailers, and we replaced them with a brick building. You can't tell me the Recovery Act didn't work.

Rev. Al: Well, the people that know the impact of the Recovery Act are those who needed to be recovered. The very wealthy have nothing to recover from, so they don't know what the recovery was. Congressman Alan Grayson..., thanks for your time tonight.

Alan: Thank you.

Congressman Alan Grayson: Bold. Incisive. Direct. A one-man Truth Squad.

To see the MSNBC video, click here.  And for a chance to break bread with Congressman Grayson at Disney World, just click here and contribute $25 or more to our campaign between now and March 31 (or to enter otherwise, here). It could turn out to be one of the best days of your life. One of the best days of your life -- that's got to be worth 25 bucks, right? If you think so, then exert pressure through your index finger, right here.

You, Me and Mickey Mouse

Warning: incoming.

This is the last week of the quarter, so in the next six days, you may receive countless e-mails imploring you to contribute to political campaigns.

This is one of them. With a twist.

Here is the deal: Anyone who contributes $25 or more to our re-election campaign this week will have the chance to join me at Disney World.

Why Disney World? Because I represent South Orlando. Thank God I don’t represent South Mogadishu – that would be a hard sell.

As usual, we will choose one winner from the Orlando area, and another winner from anywhere in the country. We will provide transportation to Orlando, a hotel room, and Disney admission. And then I will have the pleasure of your company, if you are the one.

Would you like to join me? I look forward to it.

Under these rules, you could wait until midnight on March 31 to make your contribution. But that would be silly.  So donate to our campaign now. Who’s stopping you?

Maybe we’ll have dinner inside Cinderella’s Castle in the Magic Kingdom, and watch the fireworks. Or maybe we’ll enjoy Octoberfest (in April!) at Epcot Center. Maybe I’ll just ask you what you want to do.

Decisions, decisions.

By the way, void where prohibited, subject to change, blah, blah, blah.

I’ll be honest – one of the great thrills of living in Orlando is that I get to take my kids to Disney World any time I want to. And if you win, then I can take you, too.

So please, hit that CONTRIBUTE button below, and cross your fingers. Mickey Mouse wants to meet you. And so do I.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

If you would like a chance to join Congressman Grayson at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, please contribute $25 or more to our campaign by March 31st. (Or you can fill out the form here.)
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