Alan Grayson's Journal
Member since: Sat May 22, 2010, 01:02 PM
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Twenty years ago today, brilliant comedian Bill Hicks died of cancer, at the age of 32. Hicks's comedy has been an inspiration to me and millions of others. Hicks has been voted the fourth greatest stand-up comedian of all time. (If Hicks were alive to hear that, he would complain bitterly about losing out to Gandhi, Einstein and Stalin.) In honor of Bill Hicks, we yield this platform to him. This is how Hicks ended his performances:
( To the audience: ) You've been fantastic, and I hope you enjoyed it. There is a point (to my act). Is there a point to all of this? Let's find a point.
Is there a point to my act? I would say there is. I have to.
The world is like a ride, in an amusement park. And when you choose to go on it, you think it's real, because that's how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down, and round and round. It has thrills and chills, and it's very brightly colored, and it's very loud and it's fun. For a while.
Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question: "Is this real, or is this just a ride?"
And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, and they say, "Hey, don't worry. Don't be afraid, ever. Because this is just a ride."
And we . . . kill those people. Ha-ha!
"Shut him up! We have a lot invested in this ride! Shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry. Look at my big bank account, and my family. This has to be real."
It's just a ride. But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And we let the demons run amok.
But it doesn't matter, because it's just a ride, and we can change it any time we want. It's only a choice. No effort. No worry. No job. No savings and money.
(It's) a choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your door, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one.
Here's what we can do to change the world, right now, into a better ride: Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defense each year and, instead, spend it feeding, clothing, and educating the poor of the world – which it would do many times over, not one human being excluded. And we can explore space together, both inner and outer, forever. In peace.
Thank you very much, you've been great. I've hoped you enjoyed it. You're fantastic! Thank you! Thank you very much. (Hicks then falls to the ground, as if he were dead.)
Bill Hicks, R.I.P.
"I left in love, in laughter, and in truth. And wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit." - Bill Hicks's eulogy for himself.
Posted by Alan Grayson | Wed Feb 26, 2014, 06:59 PM (6 replies)
You probably didn't hear the news. In fact, I'm almost certain that you didn't hear the news, because the subject of drone warfare isn't on the approved list of what passes for news these days. But the news is that there were no U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan last month. For the first time in over two years.
I'm sure that the military-industrial complex will claim that this is a stunning victory in the war on terrorism, and that their steadfastness, dedication and fortitude have brought peace to the region. Whatever. I'm just pleased that there were no more dead children, killed by our hand. At least for one month. One whole month.
I'm happy that, conceivably, we may finally be seeing that secret war come to a quiet end.
During the last several years, there has been a fatal drone attack in Pakistan every two weeks. The longest respite coincided with a national election in Pakistan. Our military-industrial complex, recognizing how profoundly unpopular drone attacks are among the Pakistani people, temporarily stood down. Undoubtedly, the local apologists claimed that the attacks were over. They weren't.
The most recent month of peace in Pakistan was December 2011. Why that month? Because in November 2011, a U.S. airstrike accidently killed 24 Pakistan border guards – something else that you probably didn't hear about in the news. Given that gruesome embarrassment, the drones stood down during the month of December 2011. But the attacks resumed in January 2012, following calls from Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Pakistani leaders.
There was another pause during November 2012, after a drone strike killed a 67-year-old grandmother as she was tending her garden. Another gruesome embarrassment, another brief pause. But 36 days later, the drones were on the prowl again.
This time, no one is quite sure why there was no drone attack in Pakistan last month. A fellow at the right-wing American Enterprise Institute suggests that it might be because the Pakistani military has asked for more restraint. But he's not sure why they would do so.
I'm not sure, either. But maybe, just maybe, the two hearings that I attended on Capitol Hill listening to innocent victims of drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen have something to do with it. Maybe my statement at one of those hearings that "the drone strikes could end tomorrow" if the Pakistani Government wanted it that way – a statement that was front-page news in Pakistan – has something to do with it.
The military-industrial complex wishes that it could continue to kill children and grandmothers in secret. But over time, Robert Greenwald at Brave New Films, and Code Pink, and Reprieve, and many other good people, are making that more and more difficult. (If you haven't yet seen the Brave New Films movie about innocent drone victims, you can click here to see it now.)
The more we know, the worse it is for the joystick killers. The truth will set us free – and also save innocent lives.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Thu Feb 20, 2014, 08:01 PM (0 replies)
As we explained on Friday, Blue America PAC is helping us fight back against vicious attack ads run by the Koch Brothers to beat Rep. Alan Grayson, by inviting Blue America supporters to contribute to the Grayson and Lee Rogers campaigns, and awarding four Joni Mitchell art prints to four lucky contributors. Blue America has opened that offer to our Grayson supporters, through Monday at 3 pm. For more, here is the former President of Warner/Reprise Records, Howie Klein:
Last week, the Washington Post reported that the Koch Brothers are already pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into ads meant to demonize Alan Grayson, and defeat him in November. Fox "News" is targeting him again, as well. That these powerful entities are shoveling their vast resources towards Grayson's defeat is good news … because it proves that he's succeeding at the job that we sent him to Congress to do!
Blue America has launched a Joni Mitchell contest to help raise some campaign cash for Grayson's reelection, in the very expensive Orlando media market.
Grayson also requested that we ask our donors to give to Lee Rogers at the same time. Rogers is a friend and political ally running a tough campaign to win the seat Buck McKeon is giving up, just north of L.A.
"I like Lee Rogers," Grayson explained. "But that's not why I'm asking you to support his run for Congress.
"I respect Lee Rogers, because he is the doctor who founded and directed the Amputation Prevention Center, and reduced amputations by 72%. But that's not why I'm asking you to support his run for Congress.
"I know that we need a progressive doctor like Lee Rogers in Congress, to help Drs. Ami Bera and Raul Ruiz (D-CA) counter the demented ravings of Drs. Paul Broun (R-Paleolithic), Scott DesJarlais (R-Patient Dating), Michael Burgess (R-Fetal Wanking) and Larry Bucshon (R-Guns). But that's not why I'm asking you to support Lee Rogers's run for Congress.
"I'm asking you to support Lee Rogers for Congress, because we have to win a seat like his to turn the U.S. House of Representatives blue.
"Please contribute to the Lee Rogers for Congress campaign today. Every dollar counts, because every person counts.
"Do it for Nancy Pelosi, to make Nancy -- the first female Speaker of the House -- Speaker once more. Do it for me, so that I can push through all of our legislation for justice, equality and peace. Do it for yourself and the people you love, so that all of us can enjoy the blessings of good government."
That's what Alan Grayson had to say. Here at Blue America, this time we're running our "contest" a little differently. The basic rules are the same: Just contribute any amount to Alan and Lee on this special Joni Mitchell page -- or, if you're strapped for cash and want a chance to win, send us a postcard telling us so, at P.O. Box 27201, Los Angeles, CA 90027.
What makes this contest different is that we're giving away four Joni Mitchell art prints (18" x 24"), and Grayson suggested that we choose four random winners! That gives everyone a lot better chance to win one of the rare, collectible Joni prints -- four times better. These prints have never been offered for sale, for any amount of money.
Let us add something that Lee Rogers told us about Congressman Grayson: "As a doctor, I know most people use their guts for digestion. But Rep. Alan Grayson uses his guts for a more constructive purpose. He stands up for the voiceless and underrepresented as a Congressman. Sadly, unless you're one of the 0.01% who donates significant money to fill the coffers of politicians, you're probably one of those who are underrepresented by Congress. Alan is your voice. I greatly admire Alan for having the guts to stand up to nearly everyone, and almost single-handedly prevent an American war in Syria. He's bold, and he 'tells it like it is.' Those are qualities I hope to emulate in Congress, and I'm honored to have his support in my election."
Again, here's where you can click to support Alan Grayson and Lee Rogers and enter to win one of the 4 Joni Mitchell prints. One is pictured, above.
We are all in this together,
Howie, for Digby, John and the Blue America team
Posted by Alan Grayson | Sun Feb 16, 2014, 08:29 AM (2 replies)
When Blue America PAC learned about the vicious attack ads that the Koch Brothers are airing against our Congressman With Guts, Rep. Alan Grayson, Blue America leaders Howie Klein, John Amato and Digby decided to help. Blue America invited its supporters to contribute to the Grayson campaign, and also to the campaign of progressive House candidate Lee Rogers. To make things interesting, Blue America promised to award four Joni Mitchell art prints from Howie Klein’s personal collection to four lucky contributors. Blue America is now opening that offer to our Grayson supporters, through Sunday. For the details, we’re turning this over to the former President of Warner/Reprise Records, Howie Klein:
This week, we're pushing against the Fox and Koch smear campaign directed at Orlando progressive Congressman Alan Grayson. What we're doing is giving away four Joni Mitchell 18" x 24" art prints -- images she painted for her albums -- one print each, to four people who contribute to Alan Grayson and Lee Rogers. Alan asked that we help Lee's campaign as well.
The basic rules are the same as always: just contribute any amount to Alan and Lee on this special Joni Mitchell page -- or, if you're strapped for cash and want a chance to win, send us a post card telling us so at P.O. Box 27201, Los Angeles, CA 90027. Everyone has a lot better chance to win one of the rare, collectible Joni prints -- four times better.
Since you're already on this mailing list, you probably already know why we think Alan Grayson is the most essential -- the best -- Member of Congress. But what you probably do not know is why Alan Grayson counts himself among the world's most devoted admirers of Joni Mitchell's work. He picked the prize, and this little essay he wrote will help you understand why:
“170 Beautiful Words,” by Alan Grayson
Howie Klein asked me to explain to his Blue America audience my fondness for Joni Mitchell songs. I decided to explain by example. Here are the lyrics -- just 170 words -- for one of Joni’s less famous songs, “For Free,” from her album Ladies of the Canyon (1970):
I slept last night in a good hotel.
I went shopping today for jewels.
The wind rushed around in the dirty town,
And the children let out from the schools.
I was standing on a noisy corner, waiting for the walking green.
Across the street he stood, and he played real good,
On his clarinet, for free.
Now me, I play for fortune, and those velvet curtain calls.
I've got a black limousine and two gentlemen, escorting me to the halls.
And I play if you have the money, or if you're a friend to me,
But the one man band, by the quick lunch stand,
He was playing real good. For free.
Nobody stopped to hear him, though he played so sweet and high.
They knew he had never been on their TV’s, so they passed his music by.
I meant to go over and ask for a song, maybe put on a harmony.
I heard his refrain, as the signal changed.
He was playing real good. For free.
Here are some reasons why I love this song, all 170 words of it:
1. I can see it. I can picture Joni Mitchell standing on that noisy corner, waiting for the walking green.
2. With just a few images -- “hotel,” “jewels,” “limousine,” “escorts” -- Joni paints the enormous perks of success, matter-of-factly, without bragging.
3. With one single sentence, Joni succinctly draws the Venn diagram of everyday life for the today’s successful people -- “I’ll play if you have the money, or if you’re a friend to me.”
4. Joni concedes that success, including her success, is not always deserved, nor is anonymity. “They knew he had never been on their TV’s, so they passed his music by.” Fame begets fame, with or without talent. (If you don’t believe Joni on this, then ask Kim Kardashian.)
5. A random meeting, a chance encounter. You notice something beautiful that other people seem to be overlooking. A man playing the clarinet. A pretty cloud in the sky. A clever bumper sticker on a car. The lines in your own palm. Are you open to that, or are you just too busy?
6. I wonder what happened at the end. Did Joni ask him for a song? Did they put on a harmony? I’m not sure, but I don’t think so, because those would have been forms of payment, and he was playing real good -- for free. But as I said, I’m not sure what happened at the end -- and I really would love to know.
Well, my exegesis on the song is now considerably longer than the song itself, so I’ll stop. But here’s the thing -- all of Joni Mitchell’s songs are like this. Dense. Poetic. Brimming with deep and yet casual insights into the way people are. And that’s putting aside the gorgeous musical compositions, and Joni’s surreal voice.
What is the meaning of life? I’m not sure, but I sense that it’s somewhere in there, suffusing the songs of Joni Mitchell.
Again, here's where you can support Alan Grayson and Lee Rogers and enter to win one of the 4 Joni Mitchell prints. One of them, in fact, is pictured on this page.
We are all in this together,
Howie, for Digby, John and the Blue America team
Posted by Alan Grayson | Fri Feb 14, 2014, 12:22 PM (4 replies)
Yesterday I explained that vile attack ads already are running against me in my district.
I also said that whoever was running those ads must have money to burn.
Hmmmmm. Vicious, fraudulent negative ads. Money to burn. Who could that possibly be? Can you guess?
Right. It's the Koch Brothers. The Koch Brothers are running attack ads against me. Already.
The Koch Brothers, Charles and David, are tied for fourth place on the list of the richest Americans. Each of them has $36 billion. That's $36,000,000,000.00.
They own Koch Industries, which is one of the biggest polluters in America.
The Koch Brothers pledged and spent over $100 million in 2012, trying to defeat President Obama and the Democrats. That was roughly one one-thousandth of their wealth.
The Koch Brothers also spent $2 million to defeat me in 2010, through their front group "Americans for Prosperity" (AFP). And another $2 million through their front group "60 Plus".
In 2012, their front group AFP printed 80,000 door-hangers to distribute in my district, condemning me for voting twice to raise the debt limit. I actually had voted twice against raising the debt limit – on the very bills that they cited. But the Koch Brothers don't care. As far as they're concerned, the truth is whatever they say it is.
Well, now they're back, to try to beat me again. The ads in my district are paid for by the Koch front group "Concerned Veterans for America." Virtually every nickel that the "Concerned Veterans for America" has to its name comes from a group called the TC4 Trust. And the money for the TC4 Trust comes from the Koch Brothers. The Washington Post and Open Secrets laid it all out, nice and neat, earlier this month. In a Washington Post article called "The Players in the Koch-Backed $400 Million Political Donor Network," one of the "players" was "Concerned Veterans for America," which "was funded almost entirely by TC4 in 2012."
In the illustration above, Koch groups like this are called "Astroturf Agents," "fake 'grassroots' groups to project an appearance of popular support for ideas and policies that benefit big corporations."
Why do the Koch Brothers have it in for me? Is it because Slate magazine called me "the most effective Member of Congress"? Is it because Business Insider listed me as the most productive Member of Congress? Is it because I introduced more bills last year than any other Member of Congress? Is it because I passed more amendments last year – in a Republican-controlled House – than any other Member of Congress? Is it because I stood up against the military-industrial complex over war with Syria, and won?
Or is it all of the above?
Look, it's clear at this point. Whoever ends up as the nominal Republican nominee in FL-9 this year is simply a placeholder. A proxy. A surrogate. It's going to be me against the Koch Brothers.
As I explained yesterday, we need reach our voters, to dispel the Koch Brothers' lies. And whether we do it through TV ads, radio ads, internet ads, mail or even yard signs, it all costs money.
I need your help, and I'm going to need it all of the time between now and Election Day. Not once – all the time. If you haven't contributed to our campaign yet, then you need to start now. If you have contributed, then you need to do it again. If you aren't already contributing monthly, then you need to do that – because these rotten attack ads against me are going to run monthly, weekly, daily and hourly. And if already you contribute monthly, God bless you for that, but please consider upping the ante.
This is serious. I need you to pitch in. Every dollar counts, because I count, and you count.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Wed Feb 12, 2014, 04:49 PM (9 replies)
This year marks the fifth time that I've run for Congress. I have never had ads run against me ten months before the election – until now.
These right-wingers must have money to burn.
The front group running this ad is called Concerned Veterans for America. What they seem most concerned about is that I might be reelected to Congress.
Let me go through their brainwashing agitprop with you. Their disinformation ad features a father and daughter who are veterans. They claim that they are very unhappy with VA medical care. ("Government-run healthcare means disaster," says the ad.) According to them, VA medical care is the same as Obamacare. ("If you really want to know what Obamacare is going to be like, look at the VA system," says the ad.) Then the ad throws my face up on the screen. The implication is that I support Obamacare, and therefore, Grayson Must Go.
Regarding VA medical care, no system is perfect, and there's certainly room for improvement. But it should be noted that according to the University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index, the Veterans Administration enjoys a 94% customer satisfaction rating. That happens to be the highest customer satisfaction rating that the University of Michigan has ever recorded. Coca Cola, Google, McDonalds and Apple would kill to get a rating like that. If those father and daughter vets are part of the 6% who aren't happy, then we'll do our best to help them. In fact, our constituent service staff helps vets like them every single day. My goodness, I'll help them even though they were suckered into recording a bogus ad against me. I'm that kind of guy.
And as for VA medical care being the same as Obamacare – I wish. The VA medical system essentially is a single-payer system. The government employs VA doctors and nurses, and runs VA hospitals. In contrast, Obamacare attempts to salvage something from the wreckage of the profit-obsessed, dehumanizing, selfish, savage, brutal and lethal private health insurance system that traps roughly half of all Americans, while taking a stab at helping the 50 million Americans who have no health coverage at all, and can't see a doctor when they're sick. If the VA medical system is like Obamacare, then a fish is like a bicycle.
And yes, I do support Obamacare, because it saves lives and it saves money. So shoot me. Which is exactly what this ad is trying to do to my political future.
(Irony alert: the ad asks, "If you're sick or hurt, why should you have to wait to get attention?" Good question. The answer is that Obamacare makes it less likely that you'll have to wait, and far less likely that you'll die waiting.)
Anyway, 2014 has barely started, and they're already running these vicious, fraudulent attack ads against me. Every ad they run against me is trying to win the Academy Award in the categories of Most Hogwash, Twaddle, Rubbish, Hooey, Drivel, Horsefeathers, Poppycock and Bunk. If this is what they're doing in February, then what are they going to be doing in October and November?
We need reach our voters, to dispel the lies. And whether we do it through TV ads, radio ads, internet ads, mail or even yard signs, it all costs money.
Look, I need your help, and I'm going to need it all of the time between now and Election Day. Not once – all the time. If you haven't contributed to our campaign yet, then you need to start now. If you have contributed, then you need to do it again. If you aren't already contributing monthly, then you need to do that – because these rotten attack ads against me are going to run monthly, weekly, daily and hourly. And if you already contribute monthly, God bless you for that, but please consider upping the ante.
This is serious. I need you to pitch in. Every dollar counts, because I count, and you count.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Tue Feb 11, 2014, 04:52 PM (0 replies)
To paraphrase Vice President Joe Biden, this is a "big freaking deal." It's only February, and the Koch Brothers are already up on the air, with hundreds of thousands of dollars in attack ads. They are running ads against me, in my district, right now. No joke. Read about it here.
We are going to be in a tough fight this year. That's why I need you to fight back now. Please give our campaign $25 NOW, to help us fight back against the Koch Brothers.
In 2010, our opponents spent more money attacking me than any other Democrat in the House -- anywhere, ever. And guess what? They succeeded. They won, and we lost. I was out of Congress. And our voice was silenced.
Now, we're back. But they're trying to silence our voice once again. Will you let them? Or will you kick in $25 or more, right now, to help us fight back?
Think about it. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of attack ads. MONTHS BEFORE THE ELECTION.] From corporate crooks who have been called the worst polluters in America. These polluters-in-chief have pockets as deep as the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill, and hearts as black as the foul muck that washed ashore. Like an oil slick, they will stop at nothing.
But I can't turn to the Washington lobbyists or power-brokers to bail me out. They won't help me, because they can't buy me. They know that I stand up for you, instead. All of the special interests want nothing more than to beat us and silence us. The question is, will you let them?
If this ad disgusts you as much as it disgusts me, please, kick in $25 now.
We can get through this, but only with your help.
It's "Game On." Are you in the game?
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Fri Feb 7, 2014, 04:38 PM (6 replies)
The GOP has just set a new world record for “Insidious.” The Republicans have cut food stamps for the poor – only in Democratic states.
Here is how they did it. Food stamps, a/k/a the Food Supplement Program, is limited to the needy. Neediness is calculated based on family income. Income is calculated after subtracting deductions. One of those deductions is the “Full Standard Utility Allowance,” or FSUA, which is $644. Families who receive Low-Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP) payments are automatically eligible to take the FSUA deduction. That reduces their income, and makes them more likely to qualify for food stamps.
In the farm bill that just passed the House (I voted against it), the sole GOP food stamp cut was a change in the qualification rules to prevent LIHEAP recipients from automatically qualifying for the FSUA deduction. This is a $9 billion cut.
What do Vermont, New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Illinois and Maine have in common? They’re cold, and they’re Democratic. What do Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi have in common? They’re warm, and they’re Republican.
Are you starting to get the picture?
In fact, Democracy for America has calculated that 97% of this cut in food stamps falls on blue D.C. and 15 blue states: the New England states, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Michigan, Wisconsin, Montana, Washington, Oregon and California. All of them but Montana voted for President Obama twice. Twenty-eight of their 32 Senators are Democrats.
So basically, the GOP Farm Bill cuts food stamps for lots of Democrats, and only some Republicans. And those impoverished Democrats now have to choose between heating and eating.
First the GOP allegedly shuts down access to the busiest bridge in America, to punish a Democratic mayor who wouldn't endorse a Republican governor. Now they cut food stamps, but just in Democratic states.
What’s next? Will the GOP cut Social Security benefits for seniors who are Democrats? Will the GOP slash health coverage for veterans who are Democrats? Will they cut taxes only in the “red states”?
It’s official: The Party of Bellyaching is now the Party of Bullying.
Please sign our petition urging the Senate to reject the Farm Bill. And ask your friends to sign, too. Forward this to them.
And in November, the party that makes you choose between heating and eating is going to take a beating.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Tue Feb 4, 2014, 11:50 AM (7 replies)
A picture is worth 1000 words. So let me show you two of them. On the left, our trade balance between 1962 and 1992, before so-called "free trade agreements." And on the right, our trade balance since then:
What sane person could look at these two charts, and conclude that what America needs is more "free trade"?
We have run a trade deficit of at least $350,000,000,000.00 every single year since 2000, with no end in sight. The result is that we have gutted the U.S. manufacturing base, and run up enormous debt to foreigners – almost $6 trillion ($6,000,000,000,000.00) in U.S. Treasury debt alone.
We buy their goods, putting their workers to work. They buy our assets, driving us deeper and deeper into debt.
The real issue is not whether to sign new "free trade" giveaways and sell-outs. The real issue is how to curtail runaway U.S. trade deficits, and mountainous U.S. foreign debt.
The real issue is how we put our workers back to work, heal our economy, and heal our nation.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Tue Jan 21, 2014, 04:49 PM (5 replies)
One of the more frustrating elements of the debate about Obamacare is that the Right Wing has dictated the terms of that debate.
Resolved: Does American Want Socialized Medicine?
While the Obamacare legislation was being legislated, the debate was about "socialized medicine." As if. Obamacare is no more a government takeover of healthcare than air traffic control is a government takeover of the skies. Or traffic lights are a government takeover of the roads. (Although the Post Office is, in fact, a government takeover of the mail. Cue to Tea Partiers blowing up their own mailboxes.)
Resolved: Is Obamacare Unconstitutional?
Then there was that interminable debate about whether Obamacare is constitutional. Let me get this straight: are you telling me that it is constitutional for the Government to draft your rear-end and ship you to Vietnam to serve as cannon fodder, but somehow it isn't constitutional for the Government to make you pay for your own emergency-room care? Oh, come on! If it's constitutional for the Government to put you in prison if you fail to buy car insurance, then surely it's constitutional for the Government to make you pay a fee if you fail to buy health insurance.
Resolved: Isn't the Obamacare Website Absolutely Sucktastic?
And now the Tea Partiers are shedding crocodile tears over the Obamacare website. The website that they tried to repeal, on 40+ different occasions. The website that went live on the very day that they shut down the federal government. Because, you know, they get really upset if there is any delay in people obtaining Obamacare coverage, since they don't want anyone ever to have it.
Why? Why did the Right Wing go to such lengths to dictate the Obamacare debate? Because if you're obsessing over government takeovers, and constitutionality, and a website, then you aren't ever talking about:
-- closing the "donut hole" in prescription drug coverage for seniors;
-- extending coverage and care to 40 million people with preexisting conditions;
-- prohibiting insurance companies from literally pulling the plug on patients whose care becomes too expensive;
-- allowing young adults up to the age of 26 to remain on their parents' health insurance policies;
-- eliminating deductibles and copayments for ordinary care for seniors;
-- mandating refunds for seniors who are overcharged under the Medicare Advantage program;
-- eliminating useless and predatory "junk" coverage;
-- prohibiting overcharging on the basis of gender;
-- preventing employers who don't offer insurance coverage from making employers who do offer coverage feel like suckers and fools;
-- extending Medicaid to the working poor; and
-- paying over one-third of the cost of small businesses providing employee healthcare.
Funny, but I don't remember the Republicans ever arguing for the repeal of any of those specific provisions, just the "Obamacare" bogeyman.
Regardless, the autumn Tea Party blitzkrieg to repeal Obamacare really came down to an element of Obamacare that has received little or no mention, except when I mentioned it: the "affordability credits." The government-mandated discounts on health insurance, which generally see to it that you don't have to pay more than 11 percent of your income for health insurance. The discounts that the Kaiser Foundation says will save families who buy their own insurance an average of $2,700 each year. (Actually, to be specific, Kaiser found that 48% who purchase their own insurance will qualify for the affordability credits, and for them, the discounts will save a stunning $5,500 each year.)
That's what I'm talking about.
Tea Party Republicans were determined – no, engrossed – no, bent -- no, obsessed – no, consumed – no, possessed by demons, with the urgent compulsion to prevent the affordability credits from ever going into effect. Because then, you know, people could afford insurance, which means that they would get the healthcare that they need to stay healthy and alive. As opposed to the Tea Party chant at one of the Republican Presidential debates – "Let them die! Let them die!"
You don't have to take my word for it. A right-wing columnist in a right-wing newspaper (Byron York of the Washington Examiner) wrote this very revealing statement last July, just before the Tea Party repeal efforts went nuclear:
"The White House knows that once those payments begin, repealing Obamacare will no longer be an abstract question of removing legislation not yet in effect. Instead, it will be a very real matter of taking money away from people. It's very, very hard to do that."
So if you were wondering why the Tea Party went so far as to shut down the Government, and threaten default on the national debt, just to prevent one single aspect of one single government program from being implemented, now you know why.
Look, if you ask people who don't have health insurance why they don't have it, 90% say that it's because they can't afford it. Which leaves two options:
1. Make it affordable.
2. Tell them to go to hell.
Obamacare represents the first option. Maniacal efforts to repeal Obamacare represent the second option.
And now, as of January 1, 2014, America is going with the first option. That's America's New Year's Resolution: "Heal the sick."
I feel good about that.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Thu Jan 9, 2014, 02:04 PM (5 replies)