Alan Grayson's Journal
Member since: Sat May 22, 2010, 01:02 PM
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In one of Philip Dick’s novels, I think possibly Our Friends from Frolix 8, two guys are sitting in a bar on another planet, talking to each other. The first one says to the second one that he remembers him fondly. The second one, embarrassed, confesses to the first one that he doesn’t recognize him. The first one explains that that’s because when they were together previously, he had a different head.
I had that on my mind when I was introduced on local TV recently by a news anchor who had invited me to do something that I often am asked to do, to wit, defend Obamacare. The anchor said that I had a reputation for speaking that aforesaid mind. With that in mind, the following speaking ensued:
Greg Warmoth: Hi folks, and welcome back to Central Florida Spotlight. Today, I’m joined by Congressman Alan Grayson, an Orlando Democrat from Florida’s 9th Congressional District with a reputation for speaking his mind, and being very clear about his position on the issues. Congressman, thanks for joining us again today. With that intro, would that be accurate?
AMG: Thanks. You know, I speak my mind because who else’s mind would I speak, right? It’s got to be my mind, nobody else’s.
GW: Having that outspoken nature, has that gotten you good publicity? Bad publicity? The publicity you want?
AMG: I don’t think that much about it, but I do think people appreciate someone who’s a straight talker. That much is clear. I think that voters are entitled to know what’s on your mind. If you’re going to ask for their vote, they need to know what’s honestly on your mind, what you’re going to do for them. And people know that, when I make a promise, I’m going to keep it.
GW: Let’s talk about what happened . Congratulations on being re-elected, by the way.
AMG: Thanks -- by a double-digit margin, in a very bad year for my party.
GW: That’s my next point.
GW: It was not a good year. Republicans are now solidly in control. How will you reach across the aisle?
AMG: The same way that I have . Slate magazine said that I was the most effective Member of Congress, Democratic or Republican, in the past two years. And I passed more amendments on the Floor of the House of Representatives, controlled by Republicans, than anyone , either Democratic or Republican. Over thirty amendments in the course of two years.
GW: It was not a good run for the Democrats. A lot of your fellow Democrats are not back in Washington now. a wake-up call?
AMG: No, I don’t think so. I think the other side successfully vilified the President and made it seem like the President had been ineffective, when in fact the country is better off than it was when it was on the precipice of a Great Depression six years ago. And now we have 10 million people who have health coverage who didn’t have it a year ago. So there was a lot that was accomplished, but the Republicans, without putting forth any positive program of their own, nevertheless vilified the President, and they did so successfully.
GW: Let’s talk about that, Obamacare. Some would call it successful, from your vantage point. Others would say it’s nothing but an expensive way of forcing people into health care, and yet there’s a gap with millions of people still uninsured.
AMG: Well, let’s look at some of the things that have been accomplished. There are 40 million people who had a pre-existing health condition and couldn’t get private insurance. Now they can. We have 170 million women in the population; they used to have to pay more for their health coverage, because they are women. Now they don’t have to pay more for their health care any longer. We have dramatically expanded Medicaid in those states that were open to it, and we’ve put, as I said earlier, 10 million people in a position where now they can see a doctor when they’re sick, and before, they couldn’t afford to do so. I think those are very important accomplishments. If you can show me someone who has been forced to buy health care, I’d like to meet that person. I think that’s a bum rap.
(file footage of “Die Quickly” speech plays in background)
GW: You had that outspoken moment on the Hill with your sign, the Republicans’ plan. I saw you smile when I brought that back up. It became a viral moment for you.
AMG: Oh, without any question, sure. And the reason why it was is because it hit on a deep truth. Republicans need to learn that you can’t fight something with nothing. And one of the most offensive elements of their continuing obsession with repealing Obamacare is the fact that they want to replace it with nothing. We need to make health care universal in this country. We need to make sure that sick people can see a doctor. We need to make it affordable. We need to make it comprehensive, so that it actually covers the things that you need to have covered.
GW: You’ve also worked with taxes. How are you going to ensure the extension of certain tax provisions?
AMG: I think that’s one of our big accomplishments, one of my big accomplishments. . . . I passed nine bills in the last week , unchanged from the form that I had submitted them, in a Republican-controlled legislature, to dramatically extend middle-class tax cuts for Americans. Let me give you an example: a lot of people don’t realize this, but as of , we were facing repeal of the tax break that you get on your taxes because we have state sales taxes but not income taxes. That was going to end as of December 31st. I extended that. Let me give you another example. Do you own a home?
AMG: Okay. Do you pay mortgage insurance?
AMG: Okay. Many people do. There is a deduction for mortgage insurance that was due to lapse, expire on December 31st. I extended that for a year.
GW: That’s the PMI?
AMG: That’s right. We passed a total of nine of these that I introduced back in January, after lobbied heavily with the Republican majority in order to get them extended. The Republicans were initially resistant; they wanted to have tax cuts only for businesses. Eventually they relented, and we saw nine of those passed in the order that I introduced them back in January, unchanged word for word. That was a tremendous accomplishment.
I mention these things as often as I can because I’m trying to make a point: You can be a Progressive, and you can win. Not just win elections, but also make the world a better place.
You won’t find me feeling sorry after a bad election. You will find me scratching and clawing, with all ten fingers, to improve the lives of ordinary people, any way that I can.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Fri Jan 30, 2015, 09:06 AM (5 replies)
Good news and bad news. First the bad news.
The bad news is that I am virtually the only “Anglo” official in Florida who is prepared to explain why providing a path to citizenship for the undocumented would benefit everyone – especially to an Anglo audience, which may not be immigrant-friendly.
The good news is that because I’m almost the only one, I am often asked to do so. In fact, it happened just a week ago, on the most-watched Anglo TV news channel in Central Florida. Here is what I said:
Greg Warmoth: (This is) Central Florida Spotlight, joined again by Orlando Congressman Alan Grayson. Again, thank you for being here. Let’s talk about immigration. What do you envision on the immigration front for the New Year?
AMG: Not much. I thought the President (already) did what he felt was right, and I think it will cause a great deal of alleviation of suffering here locally. But I don’t expect any further steps along the same lines. I don’t expect Congress to take any action. But as for (the President’s) immigration reform, I think that we’ll see some benefits from the President’s action rather quickly. We have a lot of people here locally who are undocumented and not paying taxes; now they’ll have to pay taxes. We have a lot of people here locally who drive on the roads without any form of insurance for their cars; now they’ll have to get insurance for their cars. That’s (been) a danger to you, to me, to everybody else. So as we make progress in normalizing the lives of these people – whose only real crime is that they love America so much they want to live here – we’ll find benefits to the whole community.
GW: What do you say to those who are on the opposite side of this? I’ve seen posts (saying that if we provide a path to citizenship,) “Well, if we do this, then who’s going to work on our farms?” And I think a lot of people are critical of that comment or that statement, because (it implies that) therefore, you like the fact there are people that are undocumented, not paying taxes (and) stuck in the minimum wage. It’s not even that (much).
AMG: Well, in fact, what’s happened is that the undocumented have eroded labor standards throughout the entire local economy, and that is unfortunate. There’s no practical way to solve that problem except to bring them into the local economy in the same way that everyone else is. We don’t treat them as second-class citizens; we treat them as non-citizens. And the result of that is that they’re often not paid the minimum wage; that drags down labor markets for everyone else. They work without benefits; that drags down the labor market for everyone else. And in general, because of their undocumented legal status, they provide unfair competition to everyone else. Now we’ll see an end to that, as they become normalized and legalized.
GW: So you think, for both sides, this is what needs to happen? This is good for the country?
AMG: I think that there’s no doubt about it. If you look at the billions and billions of dollars that will come into the national economy and the local economy simply because we’re normalizing the status of these five million or six million people, I think it will be a dramatic improvement for everyone involved.
I’m not sure that my Anglo audience would have wanted to hear this, but there is another fundamental rationale for a path to citizenship for the undocumented: We are all the sons and daughters of immigrants, and we are all the children of God. Let’s treat each other with dignity and respect.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Wed Jan 28, 2015, 09:57 PM (1 replies)
When I was on national TV a week ago, I not only talked about what’s wrong with our trade policy, but also about the demented GOP decision to embed in the Rules of the House of Representatives a new provision that may end up cutting off Social Security payments to the disabled.
Thom Hartmann: It took less than a day in the new Congress for Republicans to attack Social Security. They introduced a new rule for the House you’re part of that puts millions of Americans at risk of losing Social Security benefits, specifically the Social Security Disability . It seems like that’s where they’re starting, like it’s always easiest to start with the most fragile, the most poor. “Let’s go after welfare!” What’s going on here? How is this going to play out?
Alan: Well, I think we need to examine this from the Republicans’ perspective. The situation you’re describing is that they’re cutting off funds for the Social Security payments that are made to the disabled, as opposed to senior citizens. And, to be fair to the Republicans, I think their rationale can be described this way, Thom: Essentially, they’re saying that if you’re disabled, you shouldn’t have asked to be disabled. It’s your own fault, and if you clicked your heels together three times, your disability would go away. So the Republican basic philosophy of self-reliance suggests to them that the disabled should raise themselves up by their bootstraps, assuming they have any legs.
Thom: Isn’t there also a variation on that? “You know, you really should have been born to richer parents. They can take care of you rather than the state.”
Alan: That’s right, and it shows their contempt, their absolute contempt for anyone in need, anyone in need. And frankly, it’s disgusting. It shows the underside of the right wing. Why would any rational, decent person want to prey on the disabled, of all people? And yet they’re proposing to cut off payments to the disabled. Nine million Americans will go without the Social Security payments that they earned through their paychecks. These are earned benefits; they paid for them. And the Republicans want to take them away.
Thom: Yeah. Speak to how this addresses the larger issue of the entire social safety net. For example, a year ago Christmas, Republicans blocked, in the House of Representatives – John Boehner personally blocked – a bill that was passed in the Senate that would have extended long-term unemployment benefits. You know, in the minute-and-a-half or so that we have left, I’m just curious about your thoughts on (a) where the Republicans are going to go with a whole wide variety of things in the social safety net, and (b) what you and the Democrats are going to try and do to stop that or even expand the social safety net.
Alan: Thom, all you need to do is look at the Ryan budget, which was passed by overwhelming majorities among Republicans, several years now in a row in the House of Representatives – I believe we’re up to four years in a row at this point – to see exactly what the Republican blueprint is. They want to shred the social safety net. They want to destroy it. They want to privatize Social Security, and thereby eliminate it. They want to privatize and voucherize Medicare, and thereby eliminate it. They want to do the same thing to unemployment insurance, to disability payments – essentially to anything that’s any good to ordinary people in this country – so the government consists entirely of defending the borders and corporate welfare.
Thom: Yeah, and even “defending the borders” is really code for something else, it seems.
Alan: The military-industrial complex pays off their that’s something the Republicans see true value in. But when it comes to helping the disabled, the blind, the halt – they couldn’t care less about that. And these people claim to be Christians.
Thom: Yeah, it’s truly tragic. Alan Grayson, Congressman Alan Grayson, thank you so much for being with us, and for the great work you’re doing in Congress.
Alan: Thank you, too, Thom.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Tue Jan 27, 2015, 02:45 PM (11 replies)
A week ago, I was on national TV talking about how the pending request for “Trade Promotion Authority” is the “Fast Track” to Hell. But before I get into that, I wanted to remind you that Bill Maher will be performing in Orlando on February 8, and two of my supporters will join us.
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We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.
So “trade promotion authority” is something that’s about to be proposed again in Congress, and I was on TV recently explaining:
(a) What the heck that is, and
(b) Why it’s really bad.
Thom Hartmann: In “Screwed” news, some lawmakers in Washington want to give the Obama Administration so-called “fast-track” trade authority to approve so-called “free-trade” deals, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP. That’s a terrible decision. A new report from the Public Citizens Global Trade Watch shows just how devastating fast-track trade deals have been for the American people, and the economy. According to the report, thanks to fast-track trade deals, over the past twenty years, trade deficits have ballooned, millions of American jobs have been shipped overseas, wages have stagnated, and inequality has exploded. So, given all of the destruction to our economy and our middle class over the last two decades, how can Washington be considering approving fast-track trade authority and signing on to yet another so-called “free trade” deal? Let’s ask Congressman Alan Grayson, representing Florida’s 9th Congressional District, the Congressman with Guts. Congressman, welcome back!
Congressman Alan Grayson: Thank you, Thom.
Thom: It’s always great having you with us. What’s your take on this new report from Global Trade Watch about the damage fast-tracked trade deals have done to our country?
Alan: Well, frankly, it’s stating the obvious. The basic problem is very simple. Trade is supposed to “You sell me yours, and I’ll sell you mine.” But it’s transmogrified into something very different in the United States, ever since NAFTA went into effect. For every year, before NAFTA went into effect – 200 years of American history – we never had a trade deficit as large as $140 billion. Now, every single year since NAFTA’s gone into effect, our trade deficit has been $140 billion or more. In fact, in the last 14 years, we’ve run the largest trade deficits in human history, larger than any other country anywhere in the world, larger than any country in history, larger than in our own history. It’s a disaster, and it’s not simply an abstraction.
Let me explain what’s really happening here. What’s happening is that American consumers are buying goods and services from other countries, putting tens of millions of people in other countries to work. That would be fine if they bought an equal amount of our goods and services. The trade deficit reflects the fact that they are not; they’re not, to the tune of half a trillion dollars every year. So what’s happening is that they’re taking those rectangular green pictures of dead presidents that they’re getting from us when we buy their stuff and, instead of buying our stuff, they’re buying our assets. They’re driving the price of our assets higher and higher, benefiting the 1% only, not creating any jobs in this country, and pushing us deeper and deeper into debt. In fact, at this point, on the basis of these trade deals, one seventh of all the assets in America – all the farmland, all the homes, all the cars, all the stocks, all the bonds, all the real estate, all the small businesses – 1/7th of all our assets are now foreign-owned. And the end game is that they will all be foreign-owned, and we will have to declare national bankruptcy. That’s where this is headed, and NAFTA and Fast Track want to grease the skids.
Thom: You know, we’ve been well-trained over the last, God, 30 or 40 years, with increasing levels of Republican hysteria about our federal deficit—although they were notably silent during the Reagan years… . In my lifetime, there’s never been a serious debate, outside the 1992 Ross Perot-Bill Clinton-George Bush debate, about trade deficits. Why do you think it is that the average American knows about budget deficits and our national debt, and has no clue either that we have a trade deficit, what a trade deficit is, or the consequences, those horrible consequences that you just described of our trade deficit?
Alan: Because, Thom, people don’t understand that one causes the other. You’ve got a $14 trillion economy. Take out half a trillion dollars so we can buy foreign goods and services, and you’re left with $13.5 trillion. We have to make up that half a trillion dollars somehow. The way we make that up is called “the federal deficit.” That’s the federal government borrowing and spending, to make up for the fact that foreigners are not buying our goods and products and services, so the federal government has to make up the difference. One causes the other. One often equals the other.
Thom: Wow! … Fast Track is almost certainly coming, TPP (I prefer to call it the “Southern Hemisphere Asian Free Trade Agreement” S-H-A-F-T-A). In any case, how do you see this playing out? Because it looks to me like there’s a coalition forming between progressive Democrats like yourself and conservative Republicans, who are concerned about the surrender of sovereignty associated with these things.
Alan: Well, we see it differently. I mean, progressive Democrats recognize that, because of these trade giveaways, this trade treachery, because of this we’ve lost five million jobs in manufacturing in the past twenty years, and maybe 15 million other jobs. So that’s why progressive Democrats are against this. Republicans are against Fast Track because they recognize it as a power grab by the President. The Fast Track legislation prohibits subcommittee debates, subcommittee hearings, subcommittee markups, full committee debates, full committee hearings, full committee markups, and it limits us in the House of Representatives to 88 seconds of debate for each one of us. Eighty-eight seconds to extend to 40 other countries (if we count both trade deals the President is working on), the disaster that’s been visited upon the U.S. economy simply by having a dozen existing countries with these deals in effect. They want to put our $30/hour workers directly in full head-to-head competition with the $0.30/hour workers in Vietnam and Brunei and in other places like that, who have no environmental protection, no labor rights, and in many cases are slave labor. That’s what these deals are trying to do. It’s the Fast Track to Hell.
“Fast Track” – a bill that only Snidely Whiplash could love.
Rep. Alan Grayson
To see the video, or to make a campaign contribution, click here.
Posted by Alan Grayson | Sun Jan 25, 2015, 04:55 PM (5 replies)
This is a statement that I made at a D.C. news conference on trade policy last Thursday:
Trade is a simple concept. You sell me yours, and I’ll sell you mine.
That’s not what’s happening.
What’s happening is that day after day, month after month, and year after year, Americans are buying goods and services manufactured by foreigners, and those foreigners are not buying goods and services manufactured by Americans. We are creating millions — no — tens of millions of jobs in other countries with our purchasing power, and we are losing tens of millions of jobs in our country, because foreigners are not buying our goods and services.
What are they doing? They’re buying our assets.
So we lose twice. We lose the jobs, and we are driven deeper and deeper into national debt – and, ultimately, national bankruptcy. That is the end game.
This is not free trade; it’s fake trade. We have fake trade.
That’s why before NAFTA was enacted and went into effect, this country never had a trade deficit as much as $140 billion a year, while every single year since then — for 20 years now — we have had a trade deficit of over $140 billion a year.
We have had a trade deficit of half a trillion dollars now, for the past 14 years.
Look back all across history. Look all across Planet Earth. You will see that the 14 largest trade deficits in the history of mankind are – all — the American trade deficits for the last 14 years.
(I cannot rule out the possibility that somewhere on Alpha Centauri there might be a country that has a larger trade deficit. But here on Planet Earth, no.)
Listen, we are in a deep, deep hole, thanks to fake trade. Thanks to fake trade, right now, 1/7th of all the assets in this country — every business, every plot of land, every car – 1/7th of all the assets in the country are now owned by foreigners. And ultimately, if we keep going the way we’re going, they all will be.
That’s why we have the most unequal distribution of income in our country, the most unequal distribution of wealth in our history.
We’re in a deep, deep hole. And there’s a simple rule about holes: When you’re in a hole, stop digging. Stop digging!
So I’m calling upon our leaders. I’m calling upon the American people. Let’s stop digging.
Let’s not only have a trade policy. For once, let’s also have a trade deficit policy.
Let’s deal with the reality that has robbed the American Middle Class now for decades. Let’s address it, and let’s defeat it. That’s what I’m calling , right now.
Let’s stop digging deeper. Let’s raise ourselves up, let’s climb out of this hole, and rebuild the American Middle Class. Thank you very much.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Mon Jan 12, 2015, 08:54 PM (12 replies)
Following decades of forceful advocacy and exhaustive legal battles, marriage equality finally arrived in the State of Florida this week . Pursuant to an equal protection court ruling that went into effect at the end of the day on Jan. 5, I persuaded the Osceola County Commission to direct the Osceola Clerk of the Court to open his doors at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 6, and license the first same-sex marriages in the history of Central Florida . When desperate right-wing groups urged prosecution – yes, prosecution – of Court Clerks who carried out their Constitutional duties, I obtained a commitment from our local prosecutor that no such prosecutions would take place. And then, at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 6, I joined the first couple, my friend County Commissioner Cheryl Grieb and her partner of 22 years, as their ring-bearer . As we waited for the clock to strike 12, I made a brief speech that night, and I’d like to share it with you. Feel free to share it with whomever you love – no matter what gender they may be.:
We’re here tonight for one of the most special of all special occasions. Going back through all of human history, we know that when a couple comes together, it’s not just a celebration for them, but at a celebration for the entire community. Tonight we celebrate equality for all . It’s bringing people together so that they can be joined in matrimony, and witness two, becoming one. For the first time in Central Florida, that applies to everyone, each one of us.
One of the greatest blessings that any elected official could ever possibly give to his constituents is equality. Justice, peace, and equality.
Tonight, a friend of a friend texted me, and said that she wasn’t going to get married here tonight. But she’s glad that she has the right to do that now.
And there’s are a lot of people tonight who are going to get married, and a lot of other people who are joined now, in equal protection under the law . They are no longer second-class citizens, but first-class citizens, like everyone else.
Tonight we see the fulfillment of the real American dream .
The real American dream is not a house, a job, or a 401(k) plan.
The real American Dream is to be all that you can be, no matter what you look like; no matter where you’re from; no matter what language you speak; and tonight, no matter whom you love.
Everyone is equal tonight.
Everyone is equal in the eyes of the law, and all of us can achieve that sanctity in their relationship, that up until tonight has been limited only to some. Starting tonight, it is now open to all.
This is a special time, and we want to recognize the fact that special people have made this a special time. In fact, it took courage to bring us here tonight.
I don’t think that anyone could have reasonably expected that running for the position of Clerk of the Court would drop one into the maelstrom that we’ve seen during the past few weeks. Armando Ramirez is a man of courage, a former police officer in New York City, chosen by fate or destiny to be the Clerk of Court, and stand here with courage tonight, to carry out these functions.
I want to thank the Osceola County Commissioners. I asked them if they would make this possible tonight. They rose to the occasion. They asked the Clerk of Court to open the offices at midnight, to give our people the earliest opportunity to make this happen, the earliest anywhere in the state.
Equality under the law starts here in Osceola County tonight, and that is something we can all be proud of.
I also want to thank State Attorney Jeff Ashton. When the clouds of litigation started to gather last week, I asked the State Attorney to state clearly that there would be no adverse legal consequences for this man the Clerk of Courts to carry out his constitutional duties, and to honor his oath of office, to uphold the constitution, not only of Florida, but the constitution of the United States. State Attorney Ashton rose to the occasion, and confirmed that. And that’s helped to make this evening possible, without conflict.
I know that there are some people who see it otherwise . And I ask them: Who are you to judge? The Pope himself asked that question a few weeks ago: “Who am I to judge?” It’s a good question for all of us.
I would say to those who cherish equality, “tonight is your night.” I would say to those who don’t cherish equality, who have reservations about this, I would say to them this: “Sometimes the best principle of public policy is for everyone to tend their own garden, and stop judging others.”
So tonight is a night for everyone to celebrate an enormous accomplishment, an accomplishment for the ages.
It’s an accomplishment that in some respects echoes the accomplishments of our parents and grandparents, from the civil rights movements in the 50s, 60s and 70s.
Tonight, we not only get to see the mountain, we get to be . . . on top of the mountain.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Fri Jan 9, 2015, 06:22 PM (2 replies)
Yesterday I had the temerity, the gall, the (dare I say it?) chutzpah to point out that for the past five months, every single elected Republican in Congress was a white Christian.
The Nazis are not pleased. Frankly, I have never been a favorite of theirs, but now they are really pissed off.
The “white nationalists” congregate at an online watering hole called Stormfront.org. The home page, in Fraktur font (look it up), proudly boast that “Every Month is White History Month”. Stormfront.org is famous for, among other things, trying to dictate the results of a Fox News online poll on racial segregation, because it takes one to know one, or something like that.
Lest you think that this is a non-serious matter, please be advised that according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Stormfront members have murdered almost 100 people during the past five years alone. No Members of Congress yet, though.
So yesterday at Stormfront, under the heading “News,” subheading “Politics & Continuing Crises,” there popped up a report called “Jew revealed: Florida Rep. Alan Grayson attacks GOP as the party of white Christians.”
The writer explained his sad tale: “I tried to unsubscribe before yet this Jew keeps sending me his lunatic Europhobic and anti-Christian rant that reeks of atavistic hatred.”
Talk about “atavistic hatred.” He didn’t call me a schweinhund. But he wanted to. I could tell.
The author’s signature line asserts that the “U.S. was founded as an exclusive Anglo-Saxon nation, according to Founding Fathers’ preference.” He overlooks more than 600,000 slaves, who made up 42% of the population of South Carolina, 39% of the population of Virginia, 35% of the population of Georgia and 32% of the population of … Maryland. Not to mention leftover colonists from France, Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden. And the “Injuns,” too.
Someone else posted my missive as a picture file, with the file name “jew white hate.”
I feel constrained to mention that I did not actually “attack” the GOP for being the party of White Christians. I simply observed that for the past five months, every single elected GOP Member of Congress (all 250+ of them) has been a White Christian. Maybe it’s a coincidence. Let’s see: 27% of all Americans are black, mixed race or Asian. 24% do not identify themselves as Christians. Let’s suppose that half of all Americans are white, self-identified Christians, and half are not. What are the chances that 250 of the white Christians just randomly would end up as the Republicans in Congress, and 0 of the others?
Answer: 0.28 percent. There is a 0.28% chance that it’s all just a terrible misunderstanding. And a 99.72% chance that it’s not.
Listen, Nazis: Achtung! The leitmotif of the GOP is not simply that when it comes to choosing GOP kommandants, all others are told Raus! It’s that the GOP says ja! – nein,Wonderbar! – to every bigoted policy that comes down the autobahn. Blocking immigration reform: Ja! Gutting affirmative action: Ja! Suppressing the vote: Ja! Denying a woman’s right to choose: Ja! Denying the pink triangles the right to get married: Ja!
Am I attacking the GOP tribe for all of that? Ja. Because that creates a weltschmerz that I loathe.
There are two planks in the GOP’s platform today. One is hatred. The other is fear. As I listen to their “debate” on the Floor of the House each day, I think of Rodney King’s very pertinent question: “Can we all get along?”
Rep. Alan Grayson
“When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.”
- Martin Niemoller (1946).
Posted by Alan Grayson | Wed Jan 7, 2015, 07:49 PM (6 replies)
For a five-month period that ends this week, every single elected Republican in Congress was a white Christian.
Let me repeat that: every elected GOP Member of the House and Senate was a white Christian.
Eric Cantor is Jewish. He left office on August 1 last year. Since then, the entire elected GOP caucus, in both the House and the Senate, has comprised only white Christians.
13% of America is African-American. 9% is of mixed race. 5% is Asian. 24% does not identify itself as Christian. 0% of those groups served as elected Congressional Republicans during the past five months.
GOP motto: “We’re monochromatic!” The GOP: Is it a political party, or is it a tribe?
Tim Scott was sworn into the Senate yesterday, and Mia Love and Will Hurd are being sworn into the House today. That makes three elected African-American House Republicans, up from zero. They join 43 African-American Democrats.
Lee Zeldin also is being sworn into the House today. That makes one elected Jewish House Republican, up from zero. He joins 27 Jewish Democrats, two Muslim Democrats, two Buddhist Democrats and one Hindu Democrat.
I’m not talking about 13 years ago, when GOP Leadership Rep. Steve Scalise addressed a racist “European-American” group. I’m talking about the last five months.
The conclusion is obvious: Judging by whom it elects to Congress, the GOP is now the White Christian Party.
And that appears to dictate the GOP position on a wide variety of important public policies: Immigration reform. Affirmative action. Voter suppression. Abortion. Even marriage equality.
Which is a shame. Because pluralism and diversity are uniquely and fundamentally American values. Those are values that should be shared by both parties, and by every party, not just by one party.
Variety is the spice of life. I strive for an America where you can be all that you can be, regardless of where you’re from, what you look like, what language you speak, and whom you love.
Reach into your pocket. Take out a coin, any coin. On it, you will find the Latin words “E Pluribus Unum.” Which means, “Out of many, one.”
That’s my America. That’s America.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Tue Jan 6, 2015, 05:13 PM (20 replies)
Earlier this month, we filed our 2014 “Post-Election Report” with the Federal Election Commission. On line 11(a)(ii), column B, was the figure $1,733,841.95. On line 6(a), column B, was the figure $2,938,217.45. Which means … .
Woohoo!! We’ve done it again. The majority of our 2014 campaign funds came from small donors.
Allow me to explain.
Following the 2012 election, the Houston Chronicle undertook a study of these Post-Election Reports. It found that out of the 435 candidates elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, there was one – only one! — who had raised most of his campaign funds from small donors (contributors who gave less than $200 for the entire election cycle). That was – drum roll, please! – me.
There was only one Senator: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
There was only one Presidential candidate: Michele Bachmann, God help us all.
Everyone else devoted their waking hours (and possibly their dreams, as well) to kissing rich butts, hoping for cash in return. While Bernie and I did The People’s Business, thanks to you. While I pushed through 33 amendments on the Floor of the GOP-dominated House, thanks to you. Etc., etc.
That was 2012. Well, what about 2014? Let’s find out. If you divide that figure in line 11(a)(ii), column B, by that other figure in line 6(a), column B, $1,733,841.95 divided by $2,938,217.45, you find that 59% of our 2014 campaign funds came from small donors.
We did it again!
And the best part of it is that when 100,000 donors come together this way, you end up with a Member of Congress who is unbought and unbossed. I don’t owe nothin’ to nobody. I can tell every lobbyist and fat cat to go to hell, and I often do – just for the fun of it. Sometimes, I even draw them a map:
Why not? They’re all going to end up there, anyway.
But enough about them. Let’s talk about you.
If you are one of our small donors, then you are our catalyst. Our enzyme. Our adjuvant. Our dynamo.
You are our stimulus and our stimulant. Our pick-me-up and our shot-in-the-arm. Our mover, and our shaker.
You are our instigator, our agitator and our motivator. You are the straw that stirs the drink. You put the meat in the seats. (You and Reggie Jackson both.)
If that sounds good to you, then do it. And if you’re already doing it, do it again. Please pledge $20.16 each month toward our 2016 campaign, and then just step back and watch the amazing.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Tue Dec 30, 2014, 11:12 AM (4 replies)
Congress passed 296 bills during the past two year. There are 435 Congresspeeps.
Do the math.
Yes, that’s correct. During those two years, many, many Members of the House drew $348,000 in salary, plus free rhinoplasty (just kidding) and passed no bills. None.
So how did I get nine of my bills passed, verbatim, in the order in which I introduced them, as part of H.R. 5771?
I’m glad you asked. Let me tell you how.
Back in the 111th Congress, when the Democrats were in charge, if you had a bill that would make things better, there was a darn good chance that it would get passed, and passed quickly. For instance, my Pay for Performance Act, which prohibited Wall Street from using bailout money for bonuses. That passed – in nine days.
That’s not the way it works anymore. Essentially, the GOP has instituted caretaker government. We’ve put Henry David Thoreau in charge: “That government is best which governs least.” Or more specifically: “That government is best which governs laziest.” Only a deadline, an unalterable deadline, generates action, and even then, only at the last minute.
Old fashioned is in. Newfangled is out.
So a year ago, realizing this, I started looking at deadlines. Specifically, expiration dates in legislation.
There are a lot of them. And, frankly, a lot of legislation deserves to die. For that stuff, you won’t see me engaging in life extension. I’m in favor of euthanasia.
But some of it doesn’t deserve to die. Some of it actually helps jus’ plain folk. And that good stuff needs a champion. Because if you don’t push, and push hard, then nothing gets done. Entropy wins. As William Butler Yeats said, “Things fall apart.” That gyre just gets wider and wider.
So I combed through expiring provisions, and I made entirely subjective judgments about what was good and what was bad. Then I introduced bills to keep the good stuff. And then the fun started.
The law is a big place, so certain people have responsibility for certain domains within the law. Unfortunately, in the U.S. House of Representatives, now all of those people are Republicans, but that’s the way it goes. I spend an awful lot of time talking to Republicans, because there is no other way right now to get my stuff done. My stuff being your stuff.
Twelve of the bills that I introduced back in January were bills to keep various tax provisions from kicking the bucket, cashing in the chips, buying the farm and biting the dust. There were a lot more that were due to go belly up – maybe almost a hundred. But those dozen were ones that mattered to me, because they matter to you.
So after I introduced those bills, I chatted it up with The Powers That Be. “Hey pal, did you see the Super Bowl? Helluva game. What a blowout! The Seahawks look like a dynasty. I almost forgot to ask, have you heard about those bills that I just put in? You mind taking a look at them?”
Oh, and memos. I gave them memos. Not because they read them. Because they put them in their vest pockets, and hand them off to staff, with instructions.
(Except for one GOP Chair. His vest pocket is like the Sargasso Sea. Nothing ever comes out of there.)
Thanks to a quirk in the oft-quirky U.S. Constitution, tax bills have to start in the House. That gave the House GOP the action, even with the Democrats in charge of the Senate. The original GOP plan was just to extend all the corporate handouts, rather than anything useful for thee and thine. You don’t have to take my word for it – just look at the bills that they filed, both before and after committee markups.
But I just kept pitchin’ and pitchin’ and pitchin’. I had a whole year to do it.
I did have help. The White House intimated that it would veto a bad bill. This year, in the House, those White House veto threats were like smelling salts. People came to their senses.
As the year went on, I started to see my bills creeping into play. More and more, over time. So I just kept pitchin’ and pitchin’ and pitchin’.
“Hey, bud, did you see that guy Bumgarner in Game Seven last night? He was amazing! I don’t know how he got the Royals to keep swinging at all of that crap he was throwing. And on two days of rest! It was like Mickey Lolich in ’68 – remember him? Oh, hey, are you going to be able to help me out on those energy efficiency tax breaks?”
And so on.
When the GOP finally reached out for some balance in their tax bill – balance between their welfare for billionaires and something resembling a break for Middle Class America — there were my bills, right within their grasp, all ready to go. With the extra satisfaction of knowing that if they put those bills in, then I would stop bugging them.
So the final score in our own little Super Bowl-World Series was this: I introduced 12 tax bills. As I said above, nine of them ended up in H.R. 5771, exactly as I wrote them, and in the order in which I introduced them. Two more also ended up in the bill, with tweaks. One didn’t make it.
Hey – nobody’s perfect. Not even Madison Bumgarner in the World Series. In 21 innings, he did give up that one lone earned run.
So that’s how you legislate, circa 2014. Look, I’m not asking you to like it. As John Godfrey Saxe said, “Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.” And now you know.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Mon Dec 29, 2014, 04:18 PM (2 replies)