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.
This week, the Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives did something that you wouldn't think is even possible: they introduced (and then the House passed) a five-page bill that, despite its brevity, may violate two separate provisions of the U.S. Constitution.
The bill increases the debt limit by some unspecified amount, but only for those expenditures "necessary to fund a commitment by the Federal Government that required payment before May 19, 2013." What does "necessary" mean here? I don't know, and the bill doesn't say. What about "commitment" and "required" – what do they mean? Don't know; doesn't say. Given sovereign immunity, I'm not sure that any payments by the federal government are ever "required" per se. What if the Government said, "Are you going to make me?"
Up until now, the federal debt limit has been a number. Now it's a concept, and an undefined one at that. I find it hard to square that vagueness with Section 4 of the 14th Amendment, which states that: "The validity of the public debt . . . shall not be questioned."
Not content with establishing that constitutional dilemma alone, the Republican leadership then made Congressional pay dependent on passing a budget. The bill says that if the Senate doesn't pass a budget, then Senate pay (which is monthly) is postponed to the first week of 2015. Specifically, it changes pay from $14,500 a month to zero per month, and then something like a $300,000 lump sum on Jan. 2, 2015.
I imagine that the polling on that looks good, but what about the 27th Amendment? The 27th Amendment provides: "No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened." The Republican leadership bill "varies" Senate compensation by postponing it for two years. (It also sticks a finger in the eye of the Senate, but what else is new?)
If you follow Tea Party yammerings, as I do, then you recognize that this "no budget, no pay" idea had been floating around in the Tea Party porcelain bowl for several years now. Right after it was introduced, the Republican Chairman of the Government Operations Committee (who presumably knows a thing or two about government operations) pointed out that this postponement would violate the 27th Amendment to the Constitution. (As Texas Gov. Rick Perry would say, "Oops.") Then he said he was mistaken. But maybe when he said that he was mistaken, that's when he was mistaken.
For goodness sake, we Members of Congress all swore to uphold the Constitution just two weeks earlier. The leader of the House Republican Caucus actually administered that oath to us. Couldn't they at least have waited a little longer?
To make things even worse, just a few days before this bill came up, the House Republicans arranged to have Members of the House read the Constitution out loud on the Floor of the House. Were they all wearing earplugs?
And yet these right-wingers keep telling us that they are "constitutional conservatives."
Anyway, I voted "no." Because there is no way to vote "this is absurd."
Tea Party Republicans, please don't propose any bills that directly contravene the plain wording of the Constitution. If you were capable of embarrassment, you would be embarrassing yourselves.
Congressman Alan Grayson
Very few of our so-called "leaders" seem to be willing to come to grips with the human price to be paid for budget cuts. One exception: Congressman Alan Grayson. Here he is on Wednesday, talking with MSNBC's Martin Bashir about Florida Governor Rick Scott's initiative to take disabled children away from their families, and force them into nursing homes:
MARTIN BASHIR: Congressman, Governor [Rick] Scott has repeatedly turned down the offer of federal funds that would allow parents to care for their disabled children at home. Now, in the interest of complete transparency, we cared for my own disabled brother at home until he died. But in a letter from the Department of Justice, it says Florida, and I'm quoting, "has planned, structured and administered a system of care that has led to the unnecessary separation and isolation of hundreds of children in nursing facilities."
ALAN GRAYSON: A sick, cruel, sadistic person, who happened to be elected governor despite the fact that he committed the largest fraud against Medicare in our history. I have to tell you that sometimes, the judgment of the voters is almost inexplicable. We've taken someone who has an appalling record, a callousness to him that's manifest, a dishonesty that's manifest, and we've made him governor of the third largest state in the country.
And the results are shocking. You look at what he's done and you say to yourself, "Maybe Tony Soprano could have done worse, maybe not. It's hard to say."
MB: Well, you use Tony Soprano as an example, sir, but I was reminded of Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania [and his] treatment of disabled children there, which started in the 1970s, where they were hidden and housed in the most appalling conditions. Now, of course, that an extreme example. But is this his preference for disabled children in America in 2013, that you simply house these disabled children in facilities away from their families?
Rep. Grayson: Well, it seems that it is. I mean either that, or he's under this bizarre misconception that just because he has $200 million in his bank account, so does everybody else. It's exactly the way you say. He is preying on the most vulnerable people in our society. Not just children, but sick children, disabled children, children who are desperate for help just to stay alive. And a certain number of them are going to die because of his cruelty. Like many right-wingers in this country, he has an enormous capacity for pain, as long as it's somebody else's.
MB: What is his theoretical justification, his ostensible justification for what he is doing, in separating disabled children from their families? What's his justification?
Rep. Grayson: Well the stated justification, of course, is the usual one, which is that somehow or other, we are desperate to save money, and "therefore" we have to toss women and children first over into the ocean. And it's wrong, but it's nothing new. It is sadistic, it is cruel, but it's typical.
Back in 2004, when Jeb Bush was governor, the Republicans saw there was a waiting list of almost 100,000 children for KidCare, our children's health insurance program here in Florida. So to deal with that tragic problem, the Republicans eliminated the list.
MB: Yeah, nice work. This appears to be a strategic pattern for Governor Scott, because this week he met with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to talk about the Affordable Care Act. He says its implementation will cost Florida taxpayers $26 billion to expand the state's Medicaid program. Politifact says it will cost $1 billion. So is Governor Scott both callous and a liar?
Rep. Grayson: It's a blood libel and it's tragic. We have twenty percent of the state that doesn't have any health coverage at all. Among Latinos, it's forty percent. We have four million people in Florida who can't see a doctor when they are sick. Thanks to the expansion of the Medicaid program that I voted in favor of, almost half of those people will be able to see a doctor when they are sick, unless Governor Scott prevents it.
And the federal government picks up every single dollar of the expense of doing that for the first three years of the program, and then after that point, the states can opt out.
MB: Congressman Alan Grayson, I thought you'd tell it like it is. Thank you, sir, for joining us.
Rep. Grayson: Thank you too.
Congressman Alan Grayson – telling it like it is. To see the video, CLICK HERE. And if you would like a chance to join Congressman Grayson for breakfast on Inauguration Day in Washington, DC, on January 21st, please contribute $25 or more to our campaign by 11:59 pm EST on Tuesday night. (Or you can send an e-mail to email@example.com.)
Right from Day One of the new Congress, Congressman Alan Grayson has been saying what needs to be said, and fighting for what's right. Here is an MSNBC interview of Alan from a few days ago, regarding the agenda in Congress:
Craig Melvin: President Obama is saying that he does not want to negotiate over the debt ceiling, and says he will not negotiate over the debt ceiling. From the looks of things, it could be the next big fight in Washington. Joining me now is a man who has never backed away from a fight: Congressman Alan Grayson, Florida Democrat. Congressman, always good to see you.
Congressman Alan Grayson: Thanks.
Craig: You are back in Congress after losing your seat in 2010. First of all, how does it feel being back?
Alan: Oh, it's great. It's great to be back in the saddle again, and we had the greatest comeback in the history of the House of Representatives. We won by 25 points.
Craig: We've talked about the debt ceiling over the past week or so, and I want to read you something that John Cornyn wrote. This is an op-ed from Senator John Cornyn. This is what he wrote about how things could go down here in the next month or so: "It may be necessary to partially shut down the government in order to secure the long-term fiscal well-being of our country rather than plod along the path of Greece, Italy and Spain." Pat Toomey said almost the same thing on "Morning Joe" this past week. Are we headed for a government shutdown in the next few months?
Alan: If the Republicans are crazy enough to want to do that, it's possible that they'll be able to pull that off. It's a very divided party on the other side—divided between the far right wing and the extreme right wing. The extreme right wing wants to shut down the government because they just don't like government at all. They'd rather have no government than even good government. So it's a possibility.
Craig: Does the extreme right wing of the GOP still yield that much power?
Alan: Well, sure. From what I can see, their caucus is divided almost equally between the corporate shills and the Tea Party. That's what passes for diversity on the other side of the aisle. The Tea Party represents a good hundred votes on the other side.
Craig: Republicans of course would argue that we just passed this fiscal cliff deal, and we should note th[at there were] no spending cuts. The national debt is now more than $16 trillion and the Democrats, a lot of them aren't wild about the idea of making cuts to entitlements. How does that work?
Alan: Listen, if they were serious about reducing the debt then they would be serious about taxing people who have money. It seems the only people that the Right Wing is willing to tax are the people without money. The people with money are those [whom] they regard as untouchable. If they'd do that, they'll reduce the deficit, just as we did during the Clinton Administration. The Clinton Administration ran three or four different surpluses, one after another, because the income tax rate was high enough to pay for the needs of the government and the needs of the people. But look at what they want to do instead: they want to cut Social Security benefits and they want to cut Medicare benefits. And those are the parts [of the federal government that] we actually make a profit on. The Social Security Administration has run a profit every single year since it was created. Medicare also runs a profit each year. It doesn't make any sense. They're basically trying to cut [those programs] because of some sadistic attitude toward old folks.
Craig: The President has indicated he might be willing to cut Medicare, and also willing to make an adjustment to the cost of living calculations used with Social Security.
Alan: Well, no. I think you have to be very specific when talking about this. What the President has generally indicated is to make these programs more efficient. I don't think the President has come out in favor of actual benefit cuts. These are two fundamentally different things. We're all interested in making the programs more efficient, at least people on our side of the aisle are. We're not interested in cutting the benefits.
Craig: There are so many issues still outstanding from the 112th Congress that you guys have to deal with. The sequester, of course, that's coming up March 1st, the Farm Bill, the Violence Against Women Act, and even more aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy. Make a prediction for us, if you can. What, if anything, is going to get done with the 113th Congress at the helm?
Alan: Well, the Congress will deal with the crises as they come up, but remember that a lot of these crises are artificial crises. Some of them are created specifically for the purpose of trying to get things done that could never get done by the will of the people through the regular order. Naomi Klein has written about this in the book, "The Shock Doctrine." What we've seen is a series of artificial crises in order to steal from the Middle Class.
Craig: Again, going back to a prediction for what's going to be the first or even the second order of business. Are we talking about immigration? Are we talking about gun control? What might we be looking at here for the next six months?
Alan: Oh, I think we'll have to deal first with the sequester, a completely artificial contrivance created by the Republicans to cut Social Security benefits and Medicare benefits. That's what's coming up first and right after that, possibly right before that, depending on Tim Geithner's private calculations, we'll have to deal with the debt limit.
Craig: How real is the concern among Congressional Democrats that as you crawl from crisis to crisis that it prevents the Administration from advancing any sort of long-range policies with regards to immigration or energy or climate change, or even gun control?
Alan: I don't think it should. I think that the Administration has enormous powers under existing law. For instance, the Administration probably could institute large parts of the Cap and Trade bill, which passed the House but not the Senate when I was in Congress, through regulation, through rulemaking. The President actually did institute a large part of what would have been our bill on immigration, the Dream Act, through administrative action. The President has a lot of power, and he should use it to solve the country's problems.
Craig: How would you characterize your last stint in Congress? How would you characterize that compared to this upcoming stint?
Alan: Well, we did a lot of good for a lot of people, particularly in our district, and I think they'll be able to do it again. A lot of the best things that we did for people in our district had nothing to do with votes on the Floor [of the House]. The job creates opportunities to do good things, and we'll do our best.
Craig: We certainly hope. We certainly hope that you will do your best and that your colleagues will also fall in line and do yours as well. Do come back again—I always enjoy our conversations and congrats to you.
Alan: Thank you.
Congressman Alan Grayson – telling it like it is. If you would like a chance to join Congressman Grayson for breakfast on Inauguration Day in Washington, DC, on January 21st, please contribute $25 or more to our campaign by Tuesday night. (Or you can send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
I’m asking you to contribute to our campaign today for a reason that you might not . . . expect. It’s to keep Mitt Romney’s dog safe.
Unless you have been visiting relatives in Atlantis for the last few months, you may have heard about Mitt Romney’s Irish setter Seamus. Mitt Romney caged Seamus, strapped the cage to the roof of his car, and then drove Seamus 650 miles, from Massachusetts to Ontario. During the ride, Seamus developed diarrhea. Romney calmly drove into a gas station, hosed off Seamus, the cage and the car windows, and continued his trek. Even though Romney’s dog was as sick as a dog.
It’s good to know that if America ever has a dog-on-the-roof-plus-excrement crisis, at least one person will know how to deal with it.
Alan Grayson was back on MSNBC on Monday night, telling it like it is. The subject was Senator Rubio's attack on President Obama. Rubio said that we "have not seen such a divisive figure in modern American history," and Rubio criticized the President for graduating from Harvard Law School. Rubio hit President Obama, and Alan hit back. Here is what Alan said:
Herman Cain came to Orlando to campaign against me last week. And yes, it's still more than six months before the November election. But as the Republicans see it, I am what the military refers to as a "high value target." So they bring out the big guns early, and the bombardment begins.
I've told people that I was secretly hoping that Herman Cain would win the Republican nomination. Because if both parties nominated an African-American for President, then every racist in America would feel like committing suicide.
Nevertheless, I was surprised to see Herman Cain leading in the Republican polls both in Iowa and nationwide, last October and November. I understand the Republican's desperation to nominate someone other than Mitt Romney, but Herman Cain for President? Seriously?