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The Fast Track to Hell
25 January 2015 - 11:32pm
You, Me and Bill Maher, in Orlando
22 January 2015 - 2:10pm
Our Trade Policy is Insane
12 January 2015 - 9:52pm
Marriage Equality Comes to Florida
9 January 2015 - 7:17pm
What's Really Wrong with the GOP
6 January 2015 - 6:02pm
The Fast Track to Hell
25 January 2015 - 11:32pm

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.

There are two ways to get in on this:

(1) Contribute $20.16 or more to our campaign during the next 7 days.
(2) Be, or become, a monthly contributor to our campaign.

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.

Listen:

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 [work like this:] "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, [and] TPP (I prefer to call it the "Southern Hemisphere Asian Free Trade Agreement" [or] 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 [relying on] 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.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

To see the video, or to make a campaign contribution, click here.

 

You, Me and Bill Maher, in Orlando
22 January 2015 - 2:10pm

Bill Maher will be performing in Orlando on February 8. I’ll be there. Would you like to join us? Maybe you can.

Bill Maher put political comedy on weekly TV, he has kept it there for 18 years, and he has won 21 Emmy nominations along the way. His 2008 expose of organized religion, Religulous, is the 7th highest grossing documentary of all time.

I’ve been on his TV show four times. Take it from me: he’s funny. Which is why I look forward to seeing his performance in Orlando. And why I would be happy if you came with me.

More specifically, two of my supporters will join us. One will be chosen from among the people who contribute $20.16 or more to our campaign, between now and Feb. 1. The other will be chosen from among our monthly contributors whom we call our “sustainers.”

So there are two ways to get in on this:

(1) Contribute $20.16 or more to our campaign during the next 10 days.
(2) Be, or become, a monthly contributor to our campaign.

If you are chosen, we will fly you to Orlando, we will put you up in a nice hotel, and you can join me for Bill’s show. But you don’t have to be funny – that’s his job.

Of course, there is the fine print. There’s always fine print. Void where prohibited, blah, blah, blah. It’s underneath my signature below. Take a look at it, if you have time – it’s almost as hilarious as Bill is.

Look, forget the fine print. It’s very simple – support our campaign (you know you want to!!), and you have a chance (maybe two chances!!) to join me and Bill Maher (THE Bill Maher!!) in Orlando (Florida!!). If you click here. Or if you hit that green button below.

C’mon. I’m serious.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

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Our Trade Policy is Insane
12 January 2015 - 9:52pm

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[n average annual] trade deficit of half a billion 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 [of them] - 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 [among all industrial nations] in our country, [and] 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 [for], 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.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

[If you would like to see the speech, or show your support for a true leader, then click here.]

 

Marriage Equality Comes to Florida
9 January 2015 - 7:17pm

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.

Justice,

Rep. Alan Grayson

What's Really Wrong with the GOP
6 January 2015 - 6:02pm

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.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

Candidate for Congress (D-FL)

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