Alan Grayson's Journal
Member since: Sat May 22, 2010, 01:02 PM
Number of posts: 347
Number of posts: 347
Two months ago, we were told that if the United States did not attack Syria, we would see a new era of chemical weapons warfare.
Yet here is last week's Reuters headline: "Syria Meets Deadline To Destroy Chemical Production Facilities."
Let's celebrate the war that never happened.
Let's celebrate NOT having to hold sad and somber funerals for young Americans who would have lost their lives fighting in Syria.
Let's celebrate NOT having to nurse and care for the wounded veterans who would have returned from the U.S.-Syrian war.
Let's celebrate Congress NOT having to appropriate billions of tax dollars in emergency spending to support U.S. military operations in Syria.
Let's celebrate NOT having to attend bitter marches protesting the U.S. war in Syria.
Let's celebrate NOT having to rebuild Syria's roads and bridges and schools, so that we can have a shot at rebuilding our own.
Let's celebrate peace.
We won the battle, and the military-industrial complex lost the war.
We should be proud of our victories, because our victories matter. I know that politics sometimes can seem discouraging right now. Progressive often seem to lose, and lose frequently. But, you know what? Sometimes we win. And when we win, we save lives. We promote equality. We serve the cause of justice. We improve people's lives.
I'm going to crow a bit, right now. Because, together, we stopped a U.S. attack on Syria. The military-industrial complex said attack, and attack now. We said what John Lennon once said: "All we are saying is give peace a chance." We said that there is no such thing as humanitarian bombing. We said that we can't go around the world launching missiles and dropping bombs every time we see something that we don't like.
Well, we were right, and the military-industrial complex was wrong. We forced diplomacy rather than more carnage, and now the chemical weapons stockpiles are being destroyed.
This is victory. Our victory. Two months ago, 100,000 of us signed a petition at DontAttackSyria.com. Eighty thousand of us shared it on Facebook, and tens of thousands more shared it on Twitter.
And you know what? We stopped an attack. We saved hundreds, if not thousands, of lives.
And you know what else? We got those chemical weapons production sites destroyed.
Peace won. Lives were saved. Thanks to you. Good job!
We progressives, each one of us, we have a head, a heart and a spine. We can win. We will win.
Rep. Alan Grayson
P.S. If you like what we've done so far, we can accomplish even more together. If you haven't signed up already, then please become a $25/month sustainer of our campaign. Help make sure that our voices won't be silenced. Help make sure that we can continue to fight for justice, equality and . . . peace.
Posted by Alan Grayson | Tue Nov 12, 2013, 07:30 PM (116 replies)
This is the halfway point between Congressional elections. In our last two notes, we looked forward, and we asked for your support for the November 2014 election, 52 Tuesdays from now. Now I want to look back, and thank you and everyone else for your support in the November 2012 election, 52 Tuesdays ago.
According to information from the House Historian, our election last year was the biggest comeback in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives. We won by 25 points, just two years after losing in the general election by 18 points. That's a swing of 43 points.
(Attention trivia lovers: the old record was held by Rep. John Rousselot (R-CA). He was defeated for reelection in 1962, by seven points. Eight years later, the Congressman in the neighboring district passed away. That was a heavily Republican district. Rousselot ran against another former Congressman in the primary to fill that vacancy, he squeaked by in that race, and then he won the general election by 33 points – a 40-point swing after eight years, in an entirely different district.)
Moreover, last year you helped us to overcome the utter sliming that the Right Wing had launched against us in 2010. We will never forget that the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee said that I was the Republican's #1 target for 2010. That Glenn Beck said that he didn't care what happened in any other 2010 race, as long as I lost. That Sarah Palin came to Central Florida more than once to campaign against me, and called me a "jackwagon" (reading that from her palm, apparently). That our district became a laboratory for what dirty tricks the special interests could get away with after the Citizens United ruling, running $5½ million of attack ads against me -- more "independent expenditures" than in any other House race, anywhere in the country, at any time ever, until then. That the average person in Orlando saw 70 vicious and disgusting negative ads against me, paid for with sewer money from the Koch Brothers, the health insurance companies and the Chamber of Commerce.
Two years later, in 2012 – poof! – all gone. Instead, we won a historic victory – thanks to you.
And a recent analysis showed that of the 435 Members of the House of Representatives, I am the only one – the only one! – who raised most of his 2012 campaign contributions from small donors. That makes me feel special. And that makes you special – very special.
So let me do what I probably should do more often – just say thanks. Thank you for the opportunity to serve. Thank you for helping me to promote justice, equality and peace. Thank you for your support.
Rep. Alan Grayson
P.S. As I write this, the pledges from supporters like you have put us at a remarkable $99,255 in sustaining revenue. (I've printed out a copy of the ActBlue page, in case anyone wants to see it.) We were hoping to reach $100,000. It would be wonderful if someone pledged $20.14 per month toward the 2014 race, and put us over the top. Maybe you?
Posted by Alan Grayson | Mon Nov 11, 2013, 08:35 PM (13 replies)
I don't want to nag you. But I need to make a point.
In my last note, I said these three things: (1) The 2014 election is exactly one year -- 52 Tuesdays -- away. (2) We have to start preparing for it now. (3) The best way for contributors to show their support is to sign up for monthly contributions to the campaign.
Since we're talking about the 2014 election, my suggestion was to sign up for monthly contributions of $20.14. If you're willing and able to contribute more, that's great. If you're willing, but unable, then please sign up to contribute something each month – even five dollars.
Some of us did this. Some of us didn't. So if you didn't, then I'm asking again. If you intend to support the Grayson for Congress 2014 campaign, please sign up now for monthly contributions. Be a "sustainer." That way, I won't have to tell you next October that we're $500,000 short, and we need it in the next 24 hours, or whatever.
Some of my colleagues say, "My most important contributors are the Koch Brothers." Others say, "My most important contributors are the corporate lobbyists – man, I love those $10,000 checks." I can't say that. The Koch Brothers spent $2 million to defeat me in 2010. Corporate lobbyists chipped in another $2.5 million. The Democratic Party gave me nothing. So what I say – all I can say – is this: "My most important contributor is YOU."
Please help our campaign, by signing up for monthly contributions. I'm counting on you.
We need your help. I need your help.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Wed Nov 6, 2013, 11:06 AM (0 replies)
What a strange world we live in. Obamacare makes it possible for young working people and students in their twenties to get health coverage under their parents' policies, or under Medicaid expansion (in those States where a Republican governor hasn't prevented it), or enjoy large discounts called "affordability credits" on their health insurance plans. For some reason, this offends the billionaire Koch Brothers. So the Koch Brothers have been running ads suggesting that young people will be . . . wait for it . . . raped (!!!) if they sign up for health insurance.
As if that weren't weird enough, the Koch Brothers have been hosting beer parties and dance parties on college campuses across America, asking participants to pledge that they will not sign up for health coverage!
Our champion for universal healthcare, Congressman Alan Grayson, was invited on national TV recently to discuss this. His advice: "Drink their beer, eat their pizza, and then sign up for care." Here is the interview:
Rev. Al Sharpton: Joining me now is Congressman Alan Grayson, Democrat from Florida. Thank you for being here tonight, Congressman.
Congressman Alan Grayson: Thank you.
Rev. Al: You know, it is pretty unseemly for the billionaire Brothers spending money so that people won't have health insurance.
Alan: It's unscrupulous and sadistic. Here in Florida, more than a million people are not getting health insurance that the federal government would pay for entirely – one hundred cents on the dollar -- simply because the Tallahassee Republicans and Governor Scott won't go along with it. We pay our taxes to Washington, D.C., we would get this coverage in return, and they're preventing that from happening. So one million Floridians are going to go without health coverage this year, next year, and the year after, and a certain number of them are going to die because of that. The Koch Brothers are responsible. The Republicans are responsible. They all have blood on their hands.
Al: But you know what is interesting, Congressman? Ten Republican governors have caved on the Medicaid expansion. In fact, today, we're learning that Governor Kasich in Ohio has won his fight to bypass the state's Republican legislature to expand Medicaid. The Koch Brothers are still fighting this, but aren't more and more states seeing that expanding Medicaid is the way to go?
Alan: Well, you‘d have to be a fool to think otherwise. We're talking here about the poorest of the working poor. That's what this expansion covers – it's for people who make less than the poverty level, and who have no children, so they don't qualify under current Medicaid standards in most states. They still have to work, and they simply can't afford the coverage any other way. If you ask people, "Why don't you have coverage?" 90% of them say, "Because we can't afford it." So here, the federal government is stepping in and eliminating the discrimination that exists between child couples and childless couples, to treat everyone the same, and yet these Republicans have to insinuate themselves and prevent five million people from getting the coverage that they deserve.
Al: You know, Koch-sponsored organizations are also hosting – listen to this, they're going further – hosting events for college students on college campuses to get young people to reject the Affordable Care Act. They host pizza parties, dance parties with DJs – they hand out beer koozies that say "Opt Out." They even have a fake Obamacare "draft card" burning. I mean, they're going all out to turn young people off of something that young people really need.
Alan: Well, my advice to them is to drink their beer, eat their pizza, and then sign up for the care. Because in many cases this care costs less than a hundred dollars a month. It's less than my cable bill. And they need it. If they get in a motorcycle accident, or a car accident, as so many young people do, they're going to need that coverage, and they'll be glad that they did.
Al: This is really billionaires versus poor people. And in fact, President Obama recently called out billionaires like the Koch Brothers. Watch this.
--begin clip of President Barack Obama--
President Barack Obama: Some of the Tea Party's biggest donors, some of the wealthiest men in America, are funding an ad campaign trying to convince young people not to buy healthcare at all. I mean, think about it. These are billionaires, several times over – you know they've got good healthcare.
--end clip of President Barack Obama--
Al: Now, to be fair, they're not only spending their money in this area, Congressman. They reportedly own two million acres of land in Northern Alberta. If the Keystone Pipeline is expanded, the Koch Brothers stand to make $100 billion in profits. Isn't it exactly this wealth that makes it possible for them to have such enormous influence over issues that benefit them?
Alan: Well, that's exactly why they have such enormous influence over the Tea Party and the Republican Party. Because the Republican Party's creed these days is, let's take every tax break, let's take every bailout, let's take every permit like the Keystone (Pipeline) permit, let's take every government contract, and put it up to the highest bidder. Not for the public, not for the Treasury, but for their own coffers, for their own campaign contributions. And that's the way they do business. From Eric Cantor on down.
Al: Congressman Alan Grayson, thank you. And one last note, we reached out to the Koch Brothers on this story, but they declined to comment.
Congressman Alan Grayson – speaking out forcefully for universal, comprehensive and affordable healthcare. And calling out those who stand in the way. Click here to see the video, or to contribute to the Grayson campaign. Or both.
P.S. The 2014 election is precisely one year from now. So please show your support.
Posted by Alan Grayson | Sun Nov 3, 2013, 10:50 PM (11 replies)
After Congressman Grayson conducted Congress's first-ever briefing on Wednesday for the victims of drone attacks, CNN interviewed our Congressman With Guts. Here is what he said:
Brooke Baldwin: A missile falls from the sky, killing a grandmother and nearly killing her two grandchildren. Not because of what they did, but who they were possibly near. That is the tragedy that lawmakers heard today in this unprecedented meeting on Capitol Hill. For the very first time, Members of Congress heard from two reported survivors of a drone attack in Pakistan one year ago this week. These survivors – here they are – these are children of a primary school teacher whose story is featured in a documentary that's releasing tomorrow; it's called Unmanned: America's Drone Wars. And in fact a clip of that film was played during today's briefing, and then the boy and the girl described the drone they say nearly killed them.
--begin clip of Drone Strike Survivors Briefing--
Nabila Rehman: Everything was dark and I couldn't see anything, but I heard a scream. it was my grandmother, but I couldn't see her. I was very scared, and all I could think of doing was just run. I kept running, but I felt something in my hand, and I looked in my hand, there was blood. I tried to bandage my hand, but the blood kept coming. The blood wouldn't stop.
Zubair Rehman: I no longer love blue skies. In fact, I now prefer gray skies. The drones do not fly when the skies are gray. And for a short period of time, the mental tension and fear eases.
--end clip of briefing--
Brooke: Prefers gray skies, he says. Representative Alan Grayson of Florida invited that Pakistani to the U.S. to come and speak. He joins me now from Capitol Hill. Congressman, welcome.
Representative Alan Grayson: Thank you.
Brooke: We heard – you heard, and Members of Congress heard -- some of these drone strike victims, an incredibly unique perspective. You organized this briefing. What was your takeaway?
Alan: My takeaway is that we're undertaking something that's beyond anyone's capability: trying to decide on the basis of what we see, on a computer screen in the United States, who lives and who dies 8,000 miles away in a foreign land. It's inherently difficult, it's virtually impossible, and we're making many mistakes. There have already been as many as 200 children – children – who have died in these drone attacks, in Pakistan, in Afghanistan, and in Yemen.
Brooke: You know very well the argument for drone strikes. For the viewer, let me just show a list that CNN compiled of the top terrorists killed in 2012. And the first five here on this list, all killed by drones. The first name there, this is Yahya al-Libi, who had a $1 million reward for his capture. And then this perspective, this is a former advisor to the Pentagon saying this, recently. Take a listen:
--begin clip of Jeremy Bash on CNN--
Jeremy Bash: So the question really for the United States is how do we go after terrorists who hide in areas where we can't send in tanks, where we can't send in special forces, where we can't barrage the camps with artillery? And so we have developed a very precise, very effective weapon that can take out terrorists before they plot attacks against us.
--end clip of Jeremy Bash--
Brooke: Congressman, how do you answer that question? What is the alternative?
Alan: The alternative is to rely upon other countries to clean up their own messes, instead of having us send our death equipment to the other side of the world, to perform those acts for them. In this case, we're talking about Pakistan. Pakistan just received a billion dollars in U.S. aid. In fact, Pakistan receives about a billion dollars in U.S. aid every single year. And Pakistan has a one-million-man army. We're talking about capturing no more than 100 or 200 or maybe even 300 people operating in Pakistan. Why can't they do it for us?
Brooke: But Congressman, I have to jump in because I immediately think of Osama Bin Laden. Granted that he was not taken out by a drone, but can we trust these other countries?
Alan: Well, the alternative is to see casualties that are staggering, among innocent people, like the 200 children whom I mentioned. All the estimates are that between ten and thirty percent of the people whom we kill by drone attacks are completely, completely innocent, including this grandmother in her sixties.
Brooke: I hear you, and I know that so much of this for you and so many others whom I've talked to on this program say that so much of this is about what's dubbed this phrase "collateral damage," the killing of innocent civilians. But how much of this also, Congressman, is about the secrecy of this drone program?
Alan: Well, that's part of it, but I think that people look at the pros without considering the cons. Public opinion in Pakistan is completely inflamed against us, and we are losing the cooperation of an important regional ally because of these drone attacks. The same thing is true in Yemen. The same thing is true in many countries in the Middle East, and in fact around the world. The reason why we're killing these people is because we want to prevent them from taking action against the United States, but we are inflaming the opinions of millions of people against us when there are alternatives that don't require that, that are far more effective, less dangerous, and less likely to result in innocent deaths.
Brooke: I know that critics have called for some sort of judicial review or process, sort of a counterweight, versus something entirely relied upon within the executive branch, so I return to this family of these youngsters that you brought from Pakistan. Do they have any legal recourse against the United States for what they say happened to them?
Alan: Well, that of course remains to be seen, but we are talking about a whole class of people who are killed upon the command of one man. Generally speaking, it's God who decides who lives and dies, unless you're talking about drone attacks.
Brooke: Congressman Alan Grayson, thank you so much.
Alan: Thank you very much.
Let us share with you a very special moment from the briefing. After asking the witnesses a few questions, Congressman Grayson turned to the victim's son and said, "I'm sorry for your loss." He replied with his only words in English: "Thank you."
To see the CNN interview, or to make a contribution, click here.
Posted by Alan Grayson | Thu Oct 31, 2013, 11:14 PM (1 replies)
I’ve found an interesting and novel way to end Wall Street bailouts, and prove once and for all that no bank is “too big to fail.” And I need your help. This is a bit complex, but I think you'll find that this is a unique opportunity for you and me to make a difference.
Here's the story:
Recently, federal bank regulators proposed a new rule that would place strong new restrictions on the eight biggest banks in the country. Right now, these banks and their risky ventures are in essence subsidized by the taxpayers, because their own lenders believe that the taxpayers will bail out these banks if they go broke. Wall Street bankers rake in big bonuses by playing a game of chance – heads, they win; tails, we lose.
The new rule says that these banks need to maintain a larger buffer to cover their speculative bets, to make sure that they don't gamble with our money. JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of New York Mellon and State Street would have to put up $89 billion to guard against unforeseen losses. This would make the banks much safer. And after the 2008 wipeout, which destroyed 20% of America’s net worth in 18 months, that's a good thing.
Before this rule can go into effect, there's a comment period during which bank regulators have to invite feedback from the public. Often, this period is dominated by big bank lobbyists, who whine incessantly against whatever they don't like. And in this case, Wall Street already has mobilized its Republican hirelings in Congress to go on the attack against this rule, because they don't think that the public is paying attention.
But some of us are paying attention. Congressman John Conyers and I have written a letter asking the government to enforce this new rule. Not only do we want it enforced, but we want to make it even stronger!
That's where you come in.
We need you to join us.
We'd like you to co-sign our letter. Tell the government that big banks on Wall Street shouldn't gamble with your money.
Your support matters – it demonstrates that the public is weighing in, and it gives the government regulators the spine to stand up to big banks. Without us, the regulators will think that the banks are the only ones paying attention. If thousands of us show that we care, we will embolden the regulators to crack down on Wall Street’s taxpayer-funded, high-finance casinos.
So sign our letter. You can even add your own comment.
I will submit this letter, along with your signatures and comments, to the bank regulators. We’ve been in touch with them, and they've asked to hear what we have to say.
Let's tell them. Together. Click here to do it.
And thanks for your help.
Posted by Alan Grayson | Tue Oct 22, 2013, 06:38 PM (9 replies)
Shortly after the GOP shutdown/default crisis ended last week, Rep. Alan Grayson gave this very pointed analysis of the Tea Party, the Republican Party, the havoc that they had wrought, and what America needs to do to defend itself from them. Listen up:
Rev. Al Sharpton: So is it going to be easy for the Tea Party to bounce back from this defeat? I'm going to channel the President here: "No."Joining me now is Congressman Alan Grayson, Democrat of Florida. Thank you for being here.
Congressman Alan Grayson: Thank you.
Rev. Al: Congressman, does the President have the Tea Party on the ropes?
Alan: I think so. I think that ordinary Americans are with the President. They're appalled by the Tea Party's tactics. They come to the President saying, "If you don't let us steal your car, then, we are going to burn down your house." They are appalled by the way the Tea Party cheered on the shutting down of the government, cheered at the fact that we put our credit at risk for a generation to come. And they're appalled by the enormous expense - the fact that this temporary shutdown ended up costing America $24 billion. That's almost $100 for every man, woman, and child in this country. Frankly, they want their money back, and the Tea Party out of their lives. At this point, the Tea Party is no more popular than the Klan.
Rev. Al: Now, Congressman, some on the right are already threatening those who didn't push the defund movement all the way to the end. Sarah Palin wrote on Facebook, and I'm quoting it, "Rest well tonight for soon we will focus on important House and Senate races. Let's start with Kentucky."From sea to shining sea. Congressman, what will happen if the right, not just the Tea Party, all primary fights all over the country?
Alan: I think it's already clear to people that the Republican Party is on its way out. The Republican Party is going to go the way of the Whig Party, the way the Whig Party disappeared in the 1830s in America. And the reason is simple. They simply won't do anything useful for ordinary people. Whether the issue is jobs or housing or health care or transportation, whatever the issue might be, they got nothing. And it's not our fault that they've got nothing. They simply want to bring about the End of Days, as quickly as possible. That is the ultimate Tea Party Republican desire, to bring about the End of Days. The Republican Party has become the largest suicide pact in history. And I hope they don't take us with them.
Rev. Al: Now, you say they got nothing. The President says the fever is broken. Has the fever been broken?
Alan: No. Not yet. The fever will be broken when we vote them out of office, and take back the House next November. But in the meantime, we have to protect ourselves. And we have to protect ourselves specifically from their destruction -- that desire for destruction that keeps welling up over and over again. Now, I've introduced the simple two-page bill, H.R. 2313, called the ‘Fiscal Sanity Act.’ It funds the government for the rest of the year. It raises the debt ceiling until the end of next year until after the elections, when we can safely deal with these problems. And I'm hoping that people will flock to it. We've had almost 20,000 people come to our website EndTheLunacy.com, because they want to end the lunacy. They feel the same way the President does. They're tired of this. They want their needs met. They want Congress to listen to them, and not get sucked into these artificial crises that drag us lower and lower, to the very bottom.
Rev. Al: Rush Limbaugh says the problem is there weren't enough Ted Cruzes. Listen to this.
--Begin video clip of Rush Limbaugh--
Rush: Can you imagine in this last fight if we would have had five or ten Ted Cruzes? Can you imagine the different dynamic? Can you imagine: If we had five or ten Ted Cruzes, we'd win a lot of debates. If we had 45 Ted Cruzes in the Senate, we'd come close to winning every vote.
--End video clip of Rush Limbaugh--
Rev. Al: Clearly the Right Wing talkers aren't giving up. But the poll numbers for the GOP are in the tank. Will the leadership of the GOP keep listening to these talkers?
Alan: Listen, Boehner has to go. Boehner dragged this country (with its Tea Party allies) through the mud for two and a half weeks, completely unnecessarily. There was no purpose to this whatsoever. The bill we voted on late last was the same bill we could have voted on two weeks ago, two months ago, two years ago. And the fact is that John Boehner has become a short order cook for the far Right Wing. "Would you like some French fries or cheese with that?"That's what he does. He takes whatever they want, and he lays it out there as if that's the right thing to do. And another thing about him -- for nine times before this week, before this month, he stepped back from the abyss and let Democrats do the responsible thing, which is to keep the government running and to pass bills that needed to be . And this time he did not. And in doing so, he became useless. At this point, Dr. Jekyll has become Mr. Hyde. He has to go -- everyone who is willing to cater to the Tea Party has to go, so Americans finally get the government that they deserve.
Rev. Al: Congressman Alan Grayson, thank you for your time.
Alan: Thank you too.
Ask yourself this: who else in American public life today is as honest and as blunt as this? Congressman Alan Grayson deserves your support, like no one else. He, and only he, is saying the things that you are thinking, and so much need to be said. To see the video, or to make a contribution – or both – click here.
Posted by Alan Grayson | Mon Oct 21, 2013, 06:50 PM (3 replies)
Yesterday, Salon.com published a detailed interview with Congressman Alan Grayson about his thoughts as the current artificial crisis induced by the Republicans in the House of Representatives was about to end. Read the full interview below. Share it with your friends and family, and ask them to join the thousands of Americans who have had enough of the Republicans' ridiculous antics by signing our petition to end the lunacy at the website (where else?) EndtheLunacy.com.
What's your sense of what's going on in the House right now?
Pathetic flailing around to little or no purpose.
What do you think John Boehner is trying to accomplish?
John Boehner is trying to maintain his position as President Obama's golf partner.
Do you think the intention is to pass something that will become law?
No. I think that has never been the Tea Party's intention. The Tea Party's intention is destruction.
Do you expect that Boehner's proposal will pass the House?
I'd have to see it first…. You may recall that when they took over the House, they promised we'd have 72 hours to deal with anything before we voted on it. And now we're not even getting 72 minutes.
What do you make of this Vitter Amendment (to deny all health coverage to Members of Congress and their staff)?
I think that only those Republicans who were determined to shut down the government should have their healthcare benefits cut. Not the rest of us.
And the drive to take benefits away from congressional staffers?
We have always had staffers get the same benefits as other federal employees. They are federal employees. I've never understood the logic of abandoning that principle.
What would you say to the Republican staffers who could be affected by this?
That they're fools, and they work for fools.
What's revealed by the fact that we're now talking about opening the government and raising the debt ceiling in exchange in part for getting rid of the portion of people's compensation that goes to health insurance?
What it shows is that the Tea Party emperor has no clothes — that they never should have, or could have, forced their idiocy on the other house of Congress, or the other branches of government. That their blackmail and extortion and coercion has been recognized for exactly what it is. It's never made any sort of sense or had any moral strength to say to America, as they've said, "If you don't let us steal your car, we will burn down your house." They tried to steal the car, which was Obamacare, under threat of burning down the house, which is the U.S. economy. That was always wrong, it's still wrong. It's always going to be wrong. The sad thing is that they were able to extort the concessions that they've already received with those kinds of tactics, such as the fact that they took the President's budget, cut it by 20 percent, and then threw it in the trash can.
If the portion of congressional staffers' compensation for health insurance were taken away, how do you think that would affect who comes to work in the House?
Well, I know what the Tea Party would say: They would say that denying healthcare benefits to congressional staffers ensures that we will have a healthy staff. That's Tea Party logic for you.
And what would you say?
I would say that it's torturing people who work very hard, for very long hours, and for at best modest pay — almost all of whom could be earning more in the private sector — for the sake of some kind of twisted symbolism that only Tea Party fanatics can understand.
Do you think it's necessary at this point, in order to keep the government open and avoid a default, to give the Republicans some sort of fig leaf at least that they could claim as a concession?
I think the president's got this exactly right: We don't bargain over whether the government does its job. We don't bargain over whether the government pays its debt… It shows an utter disrespect for the law itself, and a sick love of chaos and despair, to drag us down into the mud this way, and keep people from getting the benefits that they're legally entitled to.
If it comes down to it, are you willing to vote for something that has other policy language besides opening the government and/or raising the debt ceiling?
Every proposal will get considered on the merits. That is too broad a question for me to answer — I have to see it first. I'll know it when I see it. But it should never have come to this.
This discussion of additional income verification under the ACA, what do you make of that?
It's an effort analogous to the Republicans' voter suppression efforts: now they're getting into health suppression. They're trying to do whatever they can to block people who do qualify…from getting that health coverage, by throwing up bureaucratic roadblocks in their way.
And delay of this reinsurance tax that some unions and businesses have objected to reportedly being in the Senate deal – almost momentarily — and then taken out again, what do you make of that?
I think that it was meant to address one of the flaws from the unions' perspective in the arrangements that we're making for healthcare…. Because it would have benefited union members, the Republicans were against it, despite the fact that it's entirely just on the merits, and there's no reason that we should discriminate among union members and non-union members when we're talking about affordability credits.
What about the push to delay or remove the device tax?
It's an example of the lengths to which Republicans are willing to go in order to give payoffs to their corporate donors. I have characterized many Republicans as corporate shills, and this demonstrates that as well as anything I can imagine. The Republicans are insisting on keeping the government shut down and forcing the government into default in order to be able to deliver a benny — short for a benefit — a benny to a corporate special interest.
What does that suggest then about the Democrats who have backed getting rid of the device tax?
I think you'd have to ask them that question. I don't know what's on their minds. I do know what's on the minds of the Republicans, because all you have to do is check their FEC reports.
So when we hit midnight Thursday night what is going to have happened?
I don't know. But I do know that this will prove once and for all, beyond any doubt, that the Tea Party and the Republican Party are agents of chaos. And they are completely unsuited to participating in government.
Are you suggesting the voters will prevent it from happening again?
The voters will prevent this from happening again. Even a dog knows when it's being kicked.
How will they do that?
By voting the Republicans out of power and relegating the Republican Party to the ash heap of history.
Does that mean a new era of liberal legislation out of Washington?
I don't know. You know, eventually the Whig Party was replaced to some degree by the Republican Party. I don't know what's going to replace the Republican Party. I just hope that it's more benign and less malignant.
What about if there's a deal in the next couple of days?
It's irrelevant. (The Republicans) keep dragging America into heavy traffic. They've done this over and over again. The fact that there's some kind of temporary deal until December or January doesn't change the fact that they are anarchists. To the extent that responsible people want to continue having our society function, the Republicans will have to be rejected. They'll have to be expelled from the body politic.
Even though the Congressional Progressive Caucus is the largest caucus among Democrats, there's a perception that when push comes to shove — whether it's on the Affordable Care Act or the fiscal cliff deal — that the progressives aren't really able to extract concessions. That in the end, once there's a deal, the progressives — unlike some of the Tea Party members — will go along with whatever the leadership has come up with, or give John Boehner the votes to pass something like a fiscal cliff deal or raise the debt ceiling. Do you think that's fair?
No. I think you're vastly over generalizing…. The reason why the Progressive Caucus voted for the Affordable Care Act was because it saved lives and it saved money. The Affordable Care Act was progressive.… That's why the Tea Party is so desperate to eliminate it…
I think the Progressive Caucus hasn't shown the willingness to inflict pain on other people that the Tea Party has shown. The Progressive Caucus won't torpedo constructive, productive, progressive legislation because it's not good enough. But I don't think that that's somehow a criticism of the caucus. I think that shows that the caucus knows how to get what it's trying to get — it knows how to get to yes.
Assuming the government opens up again and the debt ceiling is raised, how concerned are you that we're going to see cuts to Medicare benefits and/or Social Security benefits afterwards?
Well, the possibility of a Great Betrayal has raised its ugly head again. I'm not going to call it a "Grand Bargain" — I know other people do. And I guess every time, it's going to be like a game of whack-a-mole: there are vast corporate interests and right-wing ideologues who want to privatize Social Security, and they want to voucherize Medicare. And they want to do that because they're going to make staggering amounts (of money) from doing so…I guess they're going to keep trying, and I guess we'll have to keep beating them.
I gave 3 million signatures on a petition to the White House a few months ago…demonstrating the public doesn't want to see cuts…. If you poll it, it's overwhelmingly true.
The public just doesn't want it. I mean, if we're still a functioning democracy, then any effort at cutting these (Social Security and Medicare) benefits should be shot down. And it probably will be shot down…The guy who ran against me last year said in a debate, he said that he wanted to raise the retirement age to 70 or 72. And he got 37 per cent of the vote, and I got 63.
Do you think progressives can get the president to back down on cutting Social Security or Medicare?
I think the public will. I mean, the public spoke vehemently against military intervention in Syria, and if necessary, the public will speak vehemently against any great betrayal of their earned benefits for Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.
If the end of this shutdown is that Republicans get a change to the medical device tax, can they reasonably call that a victory?
No, not unless they've completely lost touch with reality. The only ones they can claim victory to in that regard would be the corporate lobbyists who pay them to obtain that kind of win. But in any larger and more general sense, they haven't won — they've lost.
They've, for one thing, tortured close to a million federal employees who deserve better treatment than this. For another, they've wasted staggering amounts of money… For another, they have stuck a knife into the economy… They have created chaos in the financial markets. They have substantially undermined consumer sentiment. And they've revealed themselves to be utterly incompetent when it comes to being a governing party. I mean, if they regard that as a plus, then that as much as anything shows how out of touch they are with reality, and how little they deserve to be part of government.
How concerned are you that there would be a debt default at this point?
I'm concerned. You know, the president has made it clear that the debt ceiling needs to be increased or we're likely to default. I take his word for it. I wish that he would declare the debt ceiling unconstitutional, but he has said that he is presently inclined against that approach. I hope he changes his mind…. In a Reuters op-ed piece a few days ago, I pointed out that you could easily avoid this entire problem if the Federal Reserve simply wrote off its Treasury debt…. The letter that I sent to Chairman Bernanke has gone unanswered….
The Republicans seem to be bent on destroying the credit of the United States. They actually want that to happen, as far as I can tell. There was an interesting ABC/Washington Post poll where we got the crosstabs…. 31 percent of Republicans thought that breaching the debt ceiling would cause serious economic harm, and they wanted to do it anyway. So yes, all of that makes me concerned. We have a significant part of the population that seems to have a financial death wish, and I'm concerned that they're going to drag us down with the rest of them.
Senator Ron Johnson said to me that not raising the debt ceiling "doesn't have to be a crisis," because you can prioritize payments. What do you make of that?
They're proving that they're economic illiterates. I mean, even if you prioritized payments, you would immediately be reducing the GNP by 4 percent overnight. It's just a matter of arithmetic…and this is before you get into the multiplier effects… I can't believe that in this day and age, people would think that if the government goes suddenly from borrowing $50 billion a month to borrowing zero, that that has no macroeconomic effect.
The language Republicans have proposed where the debt ceiling would be raised but the Treasury would be specifically prohibited from using so-called "extraordinary measures" to avoid a default – are there any circumstances under which you would vote for something that had that language?
I don't know… I'd like to see how it's worded, and what it's in the context of, and what are the trade-offs. But the fact is that they're like children putting their hands on a hot stove. They don't even know what these extraordinary measures are, and they want to cut them off… I'm sure they don't know. But whatever it is that they don't know, they want to stop them.
Stand with Congressman Alan Grayson, and tell the Republicans to end the lunacy at EndtheLunacy.com.
Posted by Alan Grayson | Thu Oct 17, 2013, 10:32 PM (6 replies)
I always thought that defending Social Security and Medicare was a good thing. But apparently, the corporate media doesn't agree with me. So the corporate media has dumped all over Congressional candidate Carl Sciortino – for defending Social Security and Medicare.
Earlier this year, as you may recall, there was a lot of nattering about cutting Social Security benefits by messing with the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). I didn't like that. My philosophy is simple: If it ain't broke, don't break it. So I authored the Grayson-Takano letter, pledging to vote against any and every cut in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits. Almost 50 of my House colleagues joined me. We posted the same pledge at No-Cuts.com, and that helped us to deliver almost 3,000,000 petition signatures to the White House and to the House Speaker against earned benefit cuts.
Call me naive, but I think that it's very important to let the voters know where every candidate stands. So I have encouraged Congressional candidates across the country to take the pledge, and promise to vote against earned benefit cuts.
Carl Sciortino is running to replace now-Senator Ed Markey in the U.S. House of Representatives. He did just that. Carl Sciortino promised to protect Social Security and Medicare from benefit cuts.
That pledge should have earned Sciortino applause. Instead, it earned him a nasty smack from the Boston Globe. By way of background, the Boston Globe is now owned by a Wall Street commodities and futures trader (but then again, what isn't?). Needless to say, Wall Street wants to privatize Social Security, and voucherize Medicare. So this week, the Boston Globe condemned Sciortino's staunch support for Social Security and Medicare, citing it as evidence that Sciortino lacks "maturity." (Excuse me, but isn't it precisely the "mature" ones among us who are most dependent on Social Security and Medicare?)
The Boston Globe chose to endorse a different candidate in Carl's race, on the theory that her stated willingness to cut Social Security and Medicare supposedly marked her as the "mature" candidate, even though this might be "disappointing to liberals." (Irony alert: the other candidate actually had pledged to a liberal group that she would not cut Social Security and Medicare, just before pledging to the Boston Globe that she would. So it appears that pandering and prevarication are the best marks of "maturity.")
The good voters of Massachusetts are about to choose between Carl Sciortino, a fierce defender of Social Security and Medicare, and another candidate who stands for I-don't-know-what. Shortly, one of these two candidates will be serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, and voting on our Social Security and our Medicare.
I think that we had better support Carl Sciortino. Right now. Because our future is at stake.
Last call. Tuesday is Election Day in Carl’s district.
Posted by Alan Grayson | Sun Oct 13, 2013, 10:56 PM (0 replies)
Ten days ago, the Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives shut down the federal government.
Two days ago, a pollster identified things that now are more popular than Congress. Here are some of them: Dog poop. Zombies. Witches. Hemorrhoids.
Yesterday, another pollster measured the GOP approval rating. Answer: 28%. No major political party has ever seen an approval rating this low.
I took to the House Floor to tell the Republicans exactly what you think of Congress. I pointed out that according to scientific polling, Americans think more of dog poop than Congress. And the Speaker of the House wouldn't let me finish.
You heard that right. When I carried your voice into Congress, the Republicans tried to shut me up. First they shut down the government. Now, they're telling America to shut up.
Despite their attempt to silence us, my speech was all over the media - from the Daily Show, to MSNBC's All In With Chris Hayes, to the Huffington Post, to Raw Story, to Gawker. Even right-wing propaganda organs like The Blaze and Weasel Zippers covered it. And now the polls are showing the Republicans might lose their majority in the U.S. House in next year's election.
Let's show them that when they shut down the government, we take back the House.
The GOP now knows that they're in trouble, and only their sewer money can save them. This means that every dollar we raise scares the GOP, and makes it more likely that they will fold on the government shutdown.
With every dollar, with every contribution that you make, I am going to work to take the House back for the Democrats. And I know I can count on you. Because I'm just saying what you're thinking. Which is that Congress shouldn't be less popular than dog poop.
Let's do this together.
Posted by Alan Grayson | Fri Oct 11, 2013, 07:35 PM (36 replies)