Last week, Congressman Grayson joined Rev. Al Sharpton on MSNBC, to talk about the Ryan Budget, the Republicans' blueprint for stealing from the poor to give to the rich. Republicans in the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly for this "get poor quick scheme" for America. Here is what Rep. Grayson had to say about it:
Reverend Al Sharpton: Joining me now is Congressman -- Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson . . . .
Congressman Alan Grayson: Thanks.
Rev. Al: Congressman, this will be the third time Republicans voted on a version of the Ryan Budget. And it might be the worst one yet. How do you explain these Republicans in the House?
Alan: Well, the Ryan Budget should have been relegated a long time ago to the septic tank of history. But here it is again. It's bad [for women], for seniors, it's bad for children, and it's bad for everyone, even white guys. You wonder why they keep bringing it back over and over again. It raises the debt by $6 trillion -- that's $20,000 for every man, women, and child in this country -- for the sake of giving a $400,000 tax break to millionaires. The Republicans are literally trying to bribe millionaires with their own money....
Rev. Al: Now, you know, Congressman, today during the debate, House Republicans actually insisted that government spending can't create jobs. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Congressman James Lankford: We're not promoting additional stimulus spending as the budget is being proposed right now is. A giant proposal for additional spending did not help us several years ago. Jobs do not come from additional federal spending long term.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Rev. Al: But Congressman, new polls show that Americans of both parties want the federal government to spend to create jobs. 91% of Democrats and 63% of Republicans support a federal government program that would put people to work through infrastructure repairs; [that's] what they support. And 93% of Democrats and 56% of Republicans support the federal government spending money to create more than a million new jobs. This is just a fact. And [yet] they are saying that government doesn't create jobs. That government spending will not do it.
Alan: I think that it shows that the public has a much better grip on reality than the Republican Party does. Look at state after state where the Republicans have been in charge. They have cut government spending in those states. They have laid off firefighters, they've laid off teachers, they've laid off police officers, they've laid off all sorts of public servants, and destroyed those jobs. In those states like mine, like in Florida, unemployment has remained high. I'm not going to get into some abstract debate about whether government spending creates jobs, because we've seen with our own eyes the past few years (and we're about to see again with the federal sequester) that cutting government spending definitely destroys jobs, and that's what we're going to see right now. We have a $14 trillion economy with $13 trillion of demand. And the government is making up the difference. If the government stops, this economy will collapse. Maybe Republicans will be happy [at that point], because there will be a reserve army of 25 million unemployed people. But as for the Middle Class in America, it's going to be all over. . . .
Rev. Al: Congressman, you know, we saw you going to Boehner's office with petitions for 300,000 signatures about ending the sequester. But who's going to fight them on these [issues] -- the need for jobs, the need to stop this nonsense? I mean, are you going to take them on? Who's going to stop this nonsense in Congress?
Alan: Well, I'm hoping that the 750,000 people at a minimum who will lose their jobs [directly] because of the Republican sequester will take them on. I'm hoping that the 3,000,000 people who may end up losing their jobs because those 750,000 people have no money left to spend on their rent, on housing, on health care, on food, all of the things that keep other people employed, I'm hoping that they are complaining about it, too. We did take 300,000 petitions directly to Boehner's office, to show him that at least there are 300,000 people in this country with their eyes wide open, who understand that if we stop this [federal spending], if we cut these jobs, we're going to end up hurting ourselves. And this notion that the Recovery Act didn't do any good is just nonsense. In my neighborhood, the Recovery Act paid to replace the trailers that my children were going to school in. I have five children who are in public school in Orlando. They were going to school in trailers, and we replaced them with a brick building. You can't tell me the Recovery Act didn't work.
Rev. Al: Well, the people that know the impact of the Recovery Act are those who needed to be recovered. The very wealthy have nothing to recover from, so they don't know what the recovery was. Congressman Alan Grayson..., thanks for your time tonight.
Alan: Thank you.
Congressman Alan Grayson: Bold. Incisive. Direct. A one-man Truth Squad.
To see the MSNBC video, click here. And for a chance to break bread with Congressman Grayson at Disney World, just click here and contribute $25 or more to our campaign between now and March 31 (or to enter otherwise, here). It could turn out to be one of the best days of your life. One of the best days of your life -- that's got to be worth 25 bucks, right? If you think so, then exert pressure through your index finger, right here.
When I was elected to Congress in 2008, I asked to join the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). Why? Because I was a government employee. The AFGE negotiates benefits for government employees, including me. If I were going to benefit from that, I felt that I should pay my dues. I'm not the "free rider" type.
I was told that this was an unusual request. In fact, no one could remember any Member of Congress making that request before. That didn't bother me in the least. I joined the AFGE, and paid my dues.
There is another, deeper reason why I wanted to join the union: I don't see a lot of other organizations fighting for the common good.
After I was elected again in November, I was inundated with correspondence from all sorts of groups who wanted me to do something for them. Not for us. For them. Gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme. Now, to be fair, some of these requests were for worthwhile causes. More were not. Either way, it was "gimme."
With one exception.
Here is a letter that I received from Joseph Hansen, the President of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW):
Congratulations on your election to the 113th Congress.
The American people spoke loud and clear on Election Day.
They want a Congress that works for all Americans, not just a wealthy few.
They want a Congress that fights for Main Street, not Wall Street.
They want a Congress that helps create good-paying jobs that can support a family.
They want a Congress that balances the budget responsibly, by asking millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share while protecting programs like Social Security and Medicare.
They want a Congress that protects the rights of workers, women, and minorities.
Most of all, they want a Congress that works with President Obama to give more families access to the American Dream.
I look forward to working with you toward that end.
Sincerely, Joseph T. Hansen.
Amen to that, brother. Yes, President Hansen, I look forward to working with you toward that end.
You see what's missing from this UFCW letter? Gimme, gimme, gimme.
On the letterhead of the UFCW's stationery is the motto, "A VOICE for working America." That's something that I would be proud to have on my stationery, too.
This is a time of hyper-partisan warfare, when selfishness parades itself as a virtue. But amidst all that smoke there are still some of us – the UFCW, me – who can discern the bare outlines of something called "the common good." The common good -- that's our flag. And that's why unions are different.
And the rocket's red glare,
The bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night,
That our flag was still there.
Congressman Alan Grayson
If you would like a chance to join Congressman Alan Grayson for breakfast on Inauguration Day, please contribute $25 or more to his campaign by midnight tomorrow, or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
The Federal Reserve just released its Survey of Consumer Finances, the only government survey of wealth in America. The Survey is conducted every three years. This survey, conducted in 2010, is the first one to reflect the effects of the Wall Street Meltdown in 2008.
How does it look? Bad. Really, really bad.
The median wealth of American families (meaning half above and half below) dropped from $126,400 in 2007 all the way down to $77,300 in 2010. That's a 39% slide. It puts the median net worth of American families at its lowest level since 1995, fifteen years earlier.
About 12% of American families have a negative net worth. Meaning that they're broke.
As I mentioned on MSNBC last night, today marks 11 years since the Bush tax breaks for the rich were enacted. President George W. Bush signed the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act on June 7, 2001.
Bush claimed (as right-wingers always do) that tax breaks for the rich would create jobs in the private sector. Well, they haven't. There were 110 million private sector jobs in America in 2001. There are 110 million private sector jobs in America today. Despite a population increase of more than 25 million, there are no more private sector jobs today than when the Bush tax breaks for the rich became law.
In the past 11 years, the number of Americans living in poverty has increased from 33 million to 44 million. The number of Americans receiving food stamps has risen from 18 million to 46 million. "Trickle-down" has not even been a trickle.
A few weeks ago, it was reported that some right-wing rich guys' club had pledged $100 million to defeat President Obama. The Koch Brothers led the way, pledging $60 mil. Which is pocket change, when your net worth is $50,000,000,000.00.
Leaving aside the obvious issue – the estate tax – I'm puzzled as to why all those right-wing rich folks feel that way. The foundation of their wealth – the stock market – has performed vastly better when Democrats have been in charge.
In 2008, the New York Times reported that since 1929, $10,000 invested in the stock market under Democratic Presidents (over 40 years) had become $300,671. Meanwhile, $10,000 invested in the stock market under Republican Presidents (over 35 years) had become only $11,733.
Well, at least the affluent caste didn't lose money during Republican regimes, right? Wrong. The value of the dollar dropped by 92% during that period. So in real value, $10,000 invested in the stock market under Republican Presidents actually became just $955. And forty-six cents. In economic terms, roughly the same effect as some foreign enemy blowing up 90% of our factories, warehouses, farms, malls, office buildings, apartment buildings, and every other productive asset.
Poor rich people. All the money gone. Those darned Republicans.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce continues to drench my district with false propaganda about the Affordable Healthcare Act. As I noted yesterday, Factcheck.org says that: "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's latest onslaught of television ads continues to mis-educate voters about the potential impact of the heath care law."
This isn't a case where we have to guess who is behind the lies. As I found out in the 2010 election, the Koch Brothers hide behind the skirts of their puppet group "Americans for Prosperity." The health insurance monopolies pull the strings at "the 60-Plus Association." Those front groups make it hard to discern the real agenda. But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce? When did the Chamber of Commerece start to care about whether "20 million people [could] lose their current coverage"? When did the Chamber of Commerce become an eleemosynary institution?
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is inundating Orlando with TV ads that are brazen lies. Which makes them brazen liars. Let me tell you about (as now-Sen. Al Franken once put it) "Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them."
The Chamber ad professes that Obamacare, which I voted for, "could cause 20 million people to lose their current coverage." True or false? Well, according to Politifact, it's not just false, it's "liar, liar, pants-on-fire" false.
I recently happened to be at an event where billionaire George Soros was being interviewed. The right wing hates Soros because he is: (a) liberal, (b) rich, and (c) fearless. [I could also make a case that they hate Soros because he is (d) Jewish, but I leave that up to you.]
Soros said a lot of things, but he said two sentences that I wish that everyone could hear. This is what he said:
“You can’t cut your way out of a recession. You have to grow your way out of a recession.”
I don't know what Founding Father and President Thomas Jefferson would have thought about TV, cars, spaceships, cellphones, skyscrapers, computers or nuclear weapons. But I do know what Jefferson would have thought about the Buffett Rule. He would have liked it.
The Buffett Rule is the Obama Administration's proposal to adopt a 30% minimum tax rate on personal income above $1 million a year. It would promote one of the central tenets of progressivism: that the burden of taxes should fall on the rich, not the poor.
In 1811, two years after Jefferson left the Presidency, Jefferson wrote a letter to General Thaddeus Kosciuszko, a hero of the American Revolution. Jefferson said that he supported taxes (then tariffs, since there was no income tax yet) falling entirely on the wealthy. As Jefferson explained: "The farmer will see his government supported, his children educated, and the face of this country made a paradise by the contributions of the rich alone, without his being called on to spend a cent from his earnings."