Here at the Grayson High Command, one of the best parts of our job is listening to what you have to say. Because we are always impressed, and often moved, by the eloquence of ordinary people.
Charlene Dill, a hardworking young woman with three children and three jobs, lost her life because Florida Republicans chose to turn down $60,000,000,000.00 in federal aid that would have paid for her healthcare, and the healthcare of one million other Floridians who comprise the working poor. After Congressman Grayson told her sad story in a Tampa newspaper, our Facebook page was inundated with over 600 comments. We’d like to share some of them with you:
Tom Odom: It’s more than sad. It’s shameful, reprehensible and immoral. Those legislators responsible for blocking Medicaid expansion should be brought up on manslaughter charges, at the very least.
Linda Weiner Seligson: I still remember the GOP presidential debate when there was a question about the lack of health insurance, and the audience shouted “let ‘em die,” and then cheered!
Cathryn Sykes: Killing people to make a “point.” Monsters!
Taft Chatham: The GOP Congress is one big Death Panel.
Fernando A. Ojeda: The GOP doesn’t really care about people who might or might not be able to afford healthcare … . They only seem to care about their billionaire sugar-daddies!
Dave Kisor: If you don’t have a million to donate to the gangrenous obsolete party [GOP], you simply do not matter.
Lala Jaymes: Please continue to highlight the people in the state that die UNNECESSARILY, because of inhumane cruelty wrapped up in fake conservative politics. Give them a VOICE, so that the voters will have a CHOICE!!!!
Pat Evans: Most Republicans don’t care if people die because of lack of health care. In their minds, if you don’t have the money to pay for health care, you deserve to die. And then they go to church and praise God for all of HIS goodness, just to them. Strange people and [their] strange religion.
Dick Olsen: Republicans want 47% of Americans to die. They see Poor People as Surplus Humanity. Affordable Health Insurance is the last thing they want for Americans.
Michael Durham: Time and time again, the GOP proves that they view the less affluent among us as eminently expendable cows, to be mercilessly milked for all we’re worth. Cattle have to be culled once in a while, you know.
Dave Hayes: [It’s] survival of the fittest. The GOP views people as animals. No one cries if the squirrel dies because it forgot to gather nuts, or ran in front of the car.
Walter T. Kuebler: They believe in Darwinian values, and they want the poor [and] sick enslaved, incarcerated or dead. Or better still … pregnant.
Harvey Anderson: GOP mantra: The poor, ill, disabled, and unemployed are solely responsible for their own and all of America’s problems and ills. Solution: eliminate all the poor, disabled, and unemployed; but it must be done quietly and without fanfare or publicity, lest the backlash destroy the Republican Party. Therefore, it must seem natural and inevitable when a poor person dies, preferably in obscurity, just one person at a time over a long period of time. Then the GOP can crow about how right they are.
James M. Wardell: The GOP and their belief in unregulated capitalism always put profits or the bottom line above people. It’s a flawed economic system when profits matter more than the people and the planet. It’s not sustainable, as we are starting to see.
Richard Schroeder: The GOP believes life begins at conception and ends at birth. A 32-year-old woman dying doesn’t matter to them as much as a 32-week-fetus.
Gregory Gadow: According to GOP dogma, people die for lack of basic medical care because they *want* to die for lack of basic medical care. If they wanted to live long, healthy lives, they wouldn’t have been poor in the first place.
Chris Reulbach: They are betting that the majority of people [who] will die will be those who can’t afford individual insurance – a/k/a Democratic Voters.
Jamie Dallas: They know exactly what they’re doing: killing off the Democratic voters. What better way is there to prevent us from voting?
Chester Prusaczyk: It’s tragic that so many will suffer and die because the conservatives hate the President.
Melissa Maino: What Republicans lack is empathy. If it doesn’t [a]ffect them personally, they are incapable of understanding [that] someone could be hurt. I believe that is a major difference between the parties, [and] between the people who choose one party or the other.
Cathy McCarthy: Why isn’t this story all over the [mainstream media]? The GOP manages to go national with stories about people who have not benefitted from the ACA — and they have all turned out to be lies. But the story of a woman who collapses and dies because Florida refused the Medicaid expansion doesn’t even make the local news.
Eddie Schmidt: Go search Fox News for this story; [it’s] nowhere to be found … .
Stefanie Krantz: [This is happening] in the wealthiest country in the world. We are not broke, we are greedy. There is a difference. Not providing decent medical care to all residents is a moral outrage, in a country literally overflowing with wealth. Charlene would have been better off sweeping the streets in Greece or Cuba. So much for “family values”! My family values are equality, generosity, concern for the sick, the poor, and the downtrodden. Thanks, Republicans! What the hell is wrong with these people?
Mercedes Arguello Aguirre: So much for the “pro-life” party. Hypocrites, all!
Robert Quisenberry: How long will it take before even Republicans realize that their elective[d official]s care nothing about America and Americans?
Donna Bergman: The GOP & the Tea Party are proving that they are the most hateful, hate-filled, spiteful, mean bunch that has EVER been in our Congress, in the history of America!!!! It’s VERY evident that Satan has these people in a choke hold, and he isn’t about to let go! He’s certainly USING them to his advantage, that’s for sure!
Robert Nordgren: Just remember this, people: More people have died [at] the hands of GOP anti-Obama actions than have died [at the hands of] Muslim terrorists worldwide. So ask yourself: Who is the real threat to America? It is the GOP.
Alexis J. Richard: [The GOP:] Greedy Old Psychopaths.
Vox populi (the voice of the people): We’re listening. And Charlene Dill, R.I.P. We hope that the world learns something from your suffering, and it was not in vain.
Republican-controlled States are refusing to take free federal money to expand Medicaid health care coverage to the working poor. My State, Florida, is one of them. The consequences of this callous GOP decision are grave. In a column for the Tampa Bay Times last week, I explained how grave they were for Charlene Dill – they put her in her grave. Please take a moment to read my piece, entitled “The price of ideology: a woman’s life.”
I believe that every Floridian who is sick should be able to see a doctor. Every person should get the necessary care to stay healthy and alive. Sadly, not every Floridian can afford health care.
One of my constituents, Charlene Dill, could not afford it. Last month, at 32, Charlene died of heart disease, leaving her three young children behind.
This young mother didn’t have to die.
Charlene knew she had a heart problem, but she couldn’t afford the medications and frequent visits to the doctor. She worked three jobs but earned only $11,000 last year. With only $11,000 to feed her three children, keep a roof over their heads and pay the property taxes on her trailer, Charlene couldn’t afford standard health coverage. And because she made more than $5,400, she was not eligible for free or reduced-cost coverage under Florida Medicaid.
Floridians with annual incomes between $5,400 and $11,400 are stuck in the “Medicaid expansion gap.” Charlene Dill was one of an estimated 1 million uninsured Floridians who fell into that gap. It cost Charlene her life.
When Congress passed Obamacare, it included a provision to expand Medicaid coverage to the working poor, like Charlene. States expanding Medicaid would receive the full cost of that coverage from the federal government for three years, and then 90 percent of the cost after that. The U.S. Supreme Court determined that states could drop that expansion after the first three years, without penalty, and pay nothing.
The federal government committed more than $50 billion to fund Florida’s Medicaid expansion. You might think that our cash-strapped state would be clamoring for money to provide health care to the sick and poor. But you would be wrong. Republican ideologues in the Legislature refused the money. And now, Charlene Dill is gone.
Florida has the second highest rate of uninsured individuals in the nation. Twenty percent of our state has no coverage. When these people get sick, they go to the emergency room. Emergency rooms cannot provide long-term care, manage chronic health conditions or provide lifesaving treatments on a one-off basis.
Charlene could never get the care from one single visit to the emergency room that she needed to stay alive. And she won’t be the only one. One study estimates that approximately 1,158 to 2,221 Floridians will die each year as a result of Republicans’ stubborn refusal to expand Medicaid.
Even if you leave aside the obvious moral merit of providing health care to nearly 1 million Floridians, the GOP’s refusal to expand Medicaid defies any economic sense. Florida’s forfeiture of tens of billions of federal dollars means that our federal tax dollars will instead pay for health coverage for the working poor in New York, California and other states that expanded Medicaid. But our own residents will receive nothing. That’s a high price to pay for the GOP’s blind adherence to ideology.
The rejection of Medicaid funding is only the latest instance of our GOP state legislators putting party politics ahead of what’s good for Florida. Their intractable opposition to the President has led them repeatedly to turn down federal aid with no strings attached — money that is urgently needed in central Florida.
In 2011, GOP lawmakers attempted to block $8.3 million in federal aid to allow the Osceola County Health Department to expand its community health centers. Why? Because they didn’t like Obamacare.
Lawmakers also turned down $2.1 million over a five-year period to help elderly and disabled nursing home patients regain independence and move back home — again, because they didn’t like Obamacare. (Ironically, the same legislators so morally opposed to accepting any money from Obamacare made an exception for $2.6 million in funding for “abstinence-only” sex education.)
Republican legislators argue that accepting funds from a bill that they opposed would be politically “inconsistent.” But what is more important, saving face or saving lives?
To Republican lawmakers in Tallahassee, on behalf of all of Florida, I have one request of you: Choose life. Expand Medicaid. Take the money. And spare 1 million Floridians from suffering, from sickness and from death.
Charlene Dill: R.I.P.
The Ryan Budget Resolution was circulated to Members of Congress at 7 p.m. on Friday. It’s 100+ pages. Amendments were due at noon today, i.e., Monday. That’s the new normal in the GOP House – accomplish nothing, and do it quickly.
Hypothetically, if you wanted to distill every form of right-wing economic lunacy into a 100-page document, then hypothetically, it would be the Ryan Budget. It’s all in there, and I had to cuddle up with it this weekend. Tax cuts for the rich, the so-called “job creators.” Tax cuts for multinational corporations, the other so-called “job creators.” (Why don’t they ever call them by their real name: the “job exporters”?) Cuts in middle-class tax benefits, like the deduction for pension benefits and IRAs, to pay for this. (Robin Hood in reverse.) Cuts in Medicaid and food stamps, because, you know, the Republicans want to make millions of sick, hungry poor people more self-reliant. A legal requirement to force the President to propose legislation to cut Social Security benefits and/or raise Social Security taxes, to make Obama do the Republicans’ dirty work for them. Big jumps in student loan interest rates. And massive increases in military expenditures.
Republican “ideas” – don’t they just stink? Don’t they just stink out loud? Like with a bullhorn – that loud?
And bear in mind that this is not some Monty Python proposal, put forth by the People’s Front of Judea, or even the Judean People’s Front. No, this is a resolution written by the gentleman who might be Vice President today, if Mitt Romney weren’t such a fop.
The weather was very nice in Central Florida this weekend. I could have spent the time at the beach. But duty called, so instead I read though that compendium of cruelty, that syllabus of stupidity, that oeuvre of offal, that digest of dreck.
(“So how do you really feel about it, Alan?”)
And then got to work. Before the noon deadline today, I introduced eight amendments to the Ryan Budget Resolution. Here they are:
(1) “Nothing in this resolution shall be construed to mandate, support or require any reduction in Social Security or Medicare benefits.” (Last year, I delivered to Speaker Boehner’s office almost 3,000,000 signatures on a petition saying this; let’s see whether he listened.)
(2) For Medicare, rather than defending from benefit cuts only “those in or near retirement,” I would protect “everyone.” (Yes, everyone – including you.)
(3) For Social Security, rather than requiring the President to introduce legislation to cut benefits, I would require him to introduce legislation NOT to cut benefits.
(4) Rather than increasing student loan interest rates, I would cut them until they are no higher than what Wall Street pays for loans from the Federal Reserve. (Thank you, Senator Elizabeth Warren, for this proposal.)
(5) The Ryan Budget Resolution has a sentence regarding so-called “free trade” that says, “The idea that global expansion [meaning outsourcing] tends to hollow out US operations is incorrect.” I would change “incorrect” to “correct” – possibly the shortest amendment in history (only two letters!).
(6) As between men and women, equal pay for equal work.
(7) Prohibiting the destruction of middle-class tax breaks like exclusion of employer healthcare coverage from income, the deductibility of pensions and IRAs, etc., for the purpose of lowering tax rates on the rich.
(8) Instead of cramming more and more cash down the gaping maw of the military-industrial complex, we change federal spending priorities in order to achieve full employment. (For instance, a million dollars spent on a bridge creates roughly four times as many U.S. jobs as a million dollars spent on the military – and after it’s spent, we have a bridge.)
So, that’s how I spent my weekend. House of Cards will just have to wait. (So please, no spoilers in your comments.)
Thanks to gerrymandering and Big Money, my party, the Democratic Party, is a minority in the U.S. House of Representatives. Even though my party received 1.5 million more votes in the last election, there are 235 Republicans and only 200 Democrats in the House. The Rules Committee decides on which amendments the House votes. Thanks to internal gerrymandering, the GOP outnumber the Democrats on that committee by 9 to 4. So there is a good chance that none of my amendments will ever come to a House vote.
So what? At least I did my job. As Dylan Thomas would say, I will not go gently into that good night. I will rage, rage, against the dying of the light.
I’m willing to fight for Social Security, Medicare, student loans, U.S. jobs, equal pay, progressive taxation and full employment. I know that a lot of people are counting on me to do just that.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
- Dylan Thomas, “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” (1951).
So Much Money, He Doesn’t Know What To Do With It
Before we say anything else, we want to say thanks to the thousands of supporters who contributed to our campaign last week. And if you aren’t one of them, don’t worry; we’ll still take your contribution — with a smile. Just click on that CONTRIBUTE button on the bottom of this page.
This op-ed written by Congressman Alan Grayson was featured by In These Times last month. Read it and share it with your friends and family.
I read a number of finance-industry newsletters. I want to share with you a recent excerpt from one of them. Here it is:
This is the amount of cash that S&P 500 companies (excluding banks and other financial institutions) are currently sitting on. As of the beginning of the third quarter, the largest U.S. companies collectively held $1.27 trillion. That’s about 13.5 percent more than this time last year.
Where is this cash coming from? Well, borrowing accounts for some of it. But mostly, it’s that companies are simply generating cash faster than they are spending it.
Companies sitting on cash — the financial newsletter thinks that this is great news! Spectacular news! How nice — for them.
Here is more great news for Big Business: Corporations have been largely excused from paying taxes. The Government Accountability Office found earlier this year that the average effective tax rate on U.S. corporations is only 12.6 percent of their income. That’s low enough to make Mitt Romney jealous. Hooray, say the financial newsletters! More spectacular news!
In fact, the corporate income tax has been performing a magical disappearing act for decades. In 1952, corporate income tax revenues totaled 6 percent of GDP. The average during our enormous post-war economic expansion, between 1945 and 1970, was more than 4 percent of GDP. Since then, in every year, it has been less than 3 percent. In 1983, Reagan’s tax breaks knocked corporate income tax revenue as a percentage of GDP all the way down to 1 percent. It returned to that pitifully low level in the first year of the Obama administration, and it has remained below 2 percent. No wonder the corporate cash pile keeps growing and growing and growing.
But what about the non-corporate entities in America? How are those bags of flesh and bones known as “human beings” faring?
Well, 11 million of us are unemployed and more than 7 million of us have part-time jobs, but can’t find full-time work. And in the past 10 years, the U.S. labor force participation rate has shrunk by 3 percent. Among those who are fortunate enough to find work, the average pay is a whopping $24 an hour.According to a University of Michigan report, around1 in 5 households in America has a negative net worth— they owe more than they own. In addition,48 million Americans have no health coverage, and48 million rely on food stamps to stave off hunger.
Don’t expect the next generation of red, white and blue meat-bags to do much better. One fifth of all American children live in households trying to survive on less than $2,000 a month. Many of these children go to bed hungry; is it any wonder that our schools are producing students whose math scores, by one measure, are among the worst in the world?
A Tale of Two Cities, the novel by Charles Dickens, begins with the famous words, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” In America today, it is the best of times for multinational corporations and their CEOs. But for ordinary people, it’s pretty bad, and getting worse.
For non-corporeal entities, times are good. For flesh and bone, bad.
Legal fictions, good. Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters — all bad.
I submit to you that there is a connection between those two things, a connection generally known as “cause and effect.” There are several such connections, in fact.
First, inequality causes poverty through simple arithmetic. If the richest 1% is taking half of everything, the highest in our history, but alsothe highest in any industrialized country.
According to the CIA World Factbook, our Gini coefficient — a statistical measure of income inequality — places us between Venezuela and Uruguay, with far more inequality than every major European or East Asian nation. Our inequality is surpassed largely by a bunch of African countries.
Second, inequality causes poverty through economic mismanagement. As that finance newsletter proudly states, huge corporations don’t spend their money; they just sock it away. And the same thing is true of rich people, and banks, and multi-national corporations. The 400 individuals on the Forbes 400 list alone have accumulated more than $2 trillion in wealth, the great majority of which remains in their pockets year after year. We are ending up with enormous pools of cash that have been drained from the real economy, and are not reinvested in it.
We have a national economy with amaximum possible economic output of $16 trillion each year, but much of it ends up in deep pockets with no holes, just sitting there. This creates a massive and chronic shortage in “aggregate demand,” a problem that John Maynard Keynes accurately described 75 years ago. If we allow demand to fall short, then unemployment explodes. Hence we paper over the evaporation of all that money from aggregate demand with federal deficits, “quantitative easing” and enormous personal debt.
But it doesn’t matter, because the existence of all those people without jobs — what Marx called a “reserve army of the unemployed” — still fuels poverty by decimating wages. Desperate people bid down the price of labor simply to survive. Average wages, adjusted for inflation, haven’t increased since the 1970s.America is becoming a nation of cheap labor. And the notion that in such circumstances, burgeoning business profits somehow will magically increase wages and create jobs is delusional. They haven’t, and they won’t.
The misconception that the so-called job creators will deploy corporate profits to take risks, to reinvest, to expand and, ultimately, to employ more people is a right-wing pipe dream. They might be doing that in China; they sure aren’t doing that in America. Businesses see labor simply as a cost. Business tries to reduce that cost as much as possible, in order to boost profits as much as possible. Business is not in the business of creating jobs. Business is in the business of maximizing profit. Business hires labor only when it can make a profit from that labor. If any business could eliminate its labor force entirely, it would. And many actually do just that, through subcontracting, outsourcing, offshoring and other measures that reduce compensation or eradicate the labor force.
So please forgive me if, when I read in a financial newsletter that giant corporations are “sitting on” $1,265,836,000,000 “in cash,” I don’t feel like breaking out the champagne. I see it as a funeral pyre for the American Middle Class.
A system that taxes Warren Buffett’s secretary at a higher rate than Warren Buffett stokes the flames of that funeral pyre. A system that provides for corporate tax loopholes that are as large as corporate tax revenue stokes the flames of that funeral pyre. We create that system, and it’s breaking us, from within.
Those are the facts. The Sturm und Drang that you see on the evening news is a desperate effort to avoid those facts. And the deep, deep question in our political system today is this: Are we going to do anything about it?
Two Targets of Koch Brothers Lies.
The Koch Brothers are continuing to run dirty attack ads against me in my district. No surprise there; they’ve been doing it since November. If there is a surprise, it’s how brazen and mendacious those Koch Brothers ads have become. Let me boil down their current ad campaign for you:
Grayson = Obama = Liar
Support our campaign today, and help us beat back these disgusting attack ads.
President Obama isn’t on the ballot this year. And when he was on the ballot, he won more votes than any American in history – twice. But the Koch Brothers think that they can defeat me by dragging President Obama through the mud, and me with him.
The anti-Grayson ads begin by claiming that President Obama told “the lie of the year,” and that I “backed him up.” They’re referring – in their usual abusive fashion – to the fact that President Obama said that if you like your current insurance, then you can keep it under Obamacare. Which actually is true – unless your insurance company refuses to renew it. It’s not Obamacare that’s ending the coverage, it’s the insurance companies. Personally, I’d love to see a law that requires health insurance companies to renew policies. Unfortunately, Obamacare is not that law. The GOP prevented such a law, claiming that that would be “socialism.” So what has happened is:
(1) Republicans blocked and attacked a law that would require insurance companies to renew policies;
(2) Obamacare undertook to make health insurance universal, comprehensive and affordable, without the provision the GOP blocked;
(3) Because President Obama undertook this effort, the Koch Brothers now label him the Liar of the Year; and
(4) I get taken along for the same ride.
Lies, Damned Lies, and Koch Brothers ads. Please help our campaign, and give us what we need to fight back.
But wait – it gets worse. The Koch Brothers attack ad also complains that “healthcare costs [are] up.” Yes, last year, healthcare costs rose, by the lowest amount on record. Furthermore, the Koch Brothers complain that “help [for] the uninsured” is “not working.” Yes – because Republicans in the Florida State Legislature prohibited the expansion of Medicaid to over one million Floridians, even though it would have cost the state nothing.
Don’t you just hate sick, lying ads like these Koch Brothers ads? Well, let’s do something about it.
Campaigns are all about communications. What the voters see and hear. And the biggest propaganda megaphone in America is spewing out lie after lie against me. That’s why I need your help.
I need to counter their lies with our truth. I need to counter their subterfuge with our facts. I need to counter their evil with our righteousness.
You can watch silently as the world drowns in Koch Brothers fibs, fables, fictions, fabrications, forgeries and falsehoods. Or you can help our campaign beat them back.
Beat the lies. Contribute to our campaign today.
Rep. Alan Grayson
The USA, If Cokie Roberts Has Her Way.
Recently, ABC infohack Cokie Roberts, doyenne of the D.C. Establishment, attacked me in her nationally syndicated column. Why? Because I dared to speak the truth about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a so-called “free trade agreement” that has lobbyists and Washington insiders alike clamoring to stuff their pockets with corrupt corporate cash. And because I dared to speak the truth about “Fast Track,” legislation whose sole purpose is to cram TPP and other corporate rip-offs down our throats.
By attacking me, Cokie Roberts unintentionally has provided a fascinating case study in how Washington, D.C. really works. Her attack on me was really an attack on the American middle class. Her attack on me was an attack on you.
Let’s look at the facts. Our corporatized “free trade” policy has been an abject failure. It began with NAFTA, which impoverished workers in both the United States and abroad, solely for the benefit of wealthy corporate special interests. So has every “free trade” deal since. For the past dozen years, every year, the United States has run the largest trade deficits of any country, anywhere in the world, at any time in history. Since NAFTA went into effect, our trade deficits total $10,000,000,000,000.00, or one-sixth of our national net worth. We are buying foreign goods and services, putting foreigners to work. Instead of buying our goods and services, they are buying our assets, driving us deeper and deeper into debt. We lose – twice.
For five years now, our so-called “Trade Representative” has conspired in secret with multinational corporations to give away our sovereignty, refusing even our elected representatives access to negotiations. “Fast Track” legislation simply is a ploy to jam the resulting surrender to multinational corporations through Congress, without hearings, without mark-ups, without amendments and even without significant debate. The real problem today is our towering trade deficit, and both “Fast Track” and TPP would make that worse.
But that’s not how Cokie Roberts, the daughter of two Members of Congress and a consummate Washington insider, sees it. She quoted some of what I’ve said, and then she said: “Liberal ideologues like Grayson are flat-out wrong.”
Let’s take a look at the evidence that Cokie Roberts offers to try to prove that she’s right and I’m wrong. She touts the fact that the United States exports $2 trillion in goods and services each year. While she ignores the fact that the United States has been importing nearly $3 trillion in goods and services each year. (Note to Cokie: three is more than two.) She touts the “fact” that trade supposedly “supports” almost 10 million jobs in the United States. While she ignores the fact that imports cost us even more jobs; in fact, we’ve lost five million manufacturing jobs to “free trade” during the past two decades.
Are you disgusted by this crooked and underhanded attack by Cokie Roberts? Do you oppose “free trade” giveaways? If so, please pledge $10 per month to our campaign now, to “honor” of the “almost 10 million jobs” that Cokie Roberts claims “free trade agreements” support in the imaginary world that she lives in.
To top it all off, Cokie Roberts then quoted this vapid and inane remark by the U.S. Trade Representative: “Trade is critical to America’s prosperity.” It would be far more accurate to say that trade is critical to the prosperity of America’s lobbyists. Lobbyists like Cokie Roberts’s brother, for instance.
And now we get to the heart of the matter, today’s lesson in how Washington, D.C. works – for people like Cokie Roberts. And her brother.
Why is Cokie Roberts ignoring the trade deficit, that 800-billion-pound gorilla in the room? Could it possibly be because her brother’s law firm represents a slew of multinational corporations and foreign governments who stand to benefit from the TPP? In just the Middle East, that firm’s client list includes Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait. That was good enough for Cokie’s brother’s firm to take in a whopping $40 million in lobbying fees in 2013 alone.
Cokie’s brother’s firm has represented scads of multinational corporations who just can’t get enough of “free trade agreements.” Last year alone, Goldman Sachs poured $480,000 into the coffers of that firm. Citigroup tossed in another $300,000. And Halliburton and Exxon Mobil shelled out tens of thousands of dollars, too.
(If you question whether Cokie Roberts would bend over backwards to help her brother’s lobbying firm, then consider this: Dianna Ortiz is an American nun who was tortured and raped by the Guatemalan junta. Cokie Roberts’s brother’s law firm represented the Guatemalan junta. Cokie Roberts claimed on the air, with no basis whatsoever, that Ortiz had fabricated her story. Ortiz then proved it in court, and won a $5 million judgment.)
Cokie Roberts’s attack against me is designed to discredit not only me, but also to discredit the concerns of ordinary Americans — like you — in order to protect the Washington elite: corporate lobbyists, corrupt insiders, millionaires and billionaires, multinational corporations, big banks, the Halliburtons and Exxon Mobils of the world, and other economic aristocrats who would benefit from these “free trade” giveaways. In short, the people who think that they own us.
The D.C. Establishment doesn’t know what to do about me, because I am unbossed and unbought. Lobbyists don’t like me, because I stand against their “free trade” giveaways, their bailouts, their no-bid contracts and their tax breaks. Billionaires fund my opponents’ campaigns. Not mine.
If you don’t like the TPP and other “free trade” giveaways, then invest in our campaign right now. If you don’t like multinational corporations who try to buy laws that benefit them, then invest in our campaign now.
Washington’s corporate elite relies on people like Cokie Robert to attack people like me, because I’m speaking for people like you. If you think that Cokie Roberts is wrong, that the way that the Washington, D.C. elite do business is wrong, then invest in our campaign now. With only $10 or $25 or $50 from you, every month, I can afford to keep standing up for us.
Monday marks our Federal Election Commission report cut-off date. We are under attack. And when I say “we,” I don’t just mean “me.” I mean that the American middle class is under attack. I mean that you’re under attack. When I say “we,” I mean you and me.
We are fighting for justice, equality, and peace. We are paying attention, we are working hard, and we are getting things done. And because of that, I am under attack. I need your help, and I need it today. Every dollar counts. Our deadline is midnight on Monday. Please contribute today.
Rep. Alan Grayson
This Is Not Me.
Do you remember “Joe the Plumber”? If not, you’re better off. But let me remind you – because now “Joe the Plumber” is attacking me. “Joe the Plumber” recently called me a “piece of nose slime.” (Which, as a plumber, he may see a lot of.) “Joe the Plumber” also called me a “dreg of society.” (A “dreg” is the sediment in a liquid. So if anyone knows about dregs, it’s a plumber.) “Joe the Plumber” has now joined Bill O’Reilly, Allen West and Mike Huckabee in their recent attacks on me personally.
If disgusting political attacks like calling a Member of Congress a “piece of nose slime” make you feel ill, then click here, and give us the support we need to fight back.
By the way, “Joe the Plumber” is not named Joe, and he’s not a plumber. If there were a way to belie the word “the,” I’m sure that “Joe the Plumber” would do that, too.
His real name is Samuel Wurzelbacher. In 2008, he claimed that he was a plumber, working for A.W. Newell Corp. in Ohio. But in Ohio, plumbers are licensed, and Joe didn’t have a license. So he’s not a plumber. As Gov. Rick Perry might say, “Oops.”
“Joe the Plumber” made around $40,000 a year not doing his not-plumbing. In his Walter Mitty imagination, though, he somehow was going to buy Newell Corp. Newell has sales of up to $2.5 million a year, according to Manta.com. How could “Joe the Plumber” buy Newell Corp.? The same way that a sparrow devours an elephant, I guess.
Not-yet-President Obama came to “Joe the Plumber’s” town of Toledo, Ohio, in 2008. At an Obama campaign event, “Joe” took that magical mental leap from personal failure to personal success, and told/lied/BS’ed Obama that “Joe” was “getting ready to buy a company that makes $250,000 to $280,000 a year – your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn’t it?”
“Joe the Plumber” was “getting ready” to buy that company in much the same way as Kim Kardashian is “getting ready” to end the civil war in Syria. It could happen. But I doubt it.
Aren’t you sick of right-wing fakers like “Joe” the “Plumber”? Click here to show your support for the Member of Congress whose bumper sticker reads: “Grayson. Truth.”
Anyway, Candidate Obama gave “Joe the Plumber” a substantive analysis of how “Joe’s” non-purchase of “Joe’s” non-plumbing business would affect “Joe’s” non-income and “Joe’s” non-taxes. Obama then added that Obama’s tax plan was necessary in order to reduce taxes on the middle class, which would add customers to “Joe’s” non-business. As Candidate Obama put it: “My attitude is that if the economy’s good for folks from the bottom up, it’s going to be good for everybody. If you’ve got a plumbing business, you’re going to be better off … if you’ve got a whole bunch of customers who can afford to hire you. Right now, everybody’s so pinched that business is bad for everybody. I think that if you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”
You may recall the shock and horror which the right-wing noise machine manufactured over the concept that “if you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.” The same shock and horror that the right-wing noise machine manufactured over President Obama’s statement in 2012 that “if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.” (Props to Sen. Elizabeth Warren.) History repeats itself – first as tragedy, and second as farce. (To quote someone else who, by coincidence, also wrote about spreading the wealth.)
Back the first time, in 2008, “Joe the Plumber” jumped, with both feet, into the ensuing distortion-fest. He said that the President’s answer would put us “one step closer to socialism.” He said that the answer showed that our first African-American President could “tap dance … almost as good as Sammy Davis, Jr.” He said that he could never support Obama, because of “questions” about “Obama’s loyalty to our country.”
For Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, a star was born. A dim, dopey, dense, doltish and deficient star, but a star nonetheless.
“Joe the Plumber” gave up his non-plumbing career, and became a “motivational speaker.” His talk consists of witty observations like asking why Senator Chris Dodd hasn’t been “strung up” yet. If you’ve ever actually listened to him, you know that his audience surely feels motivated to learn proper grammar.
Here are some of “Joe the Plumber’s” more recent bon mots:
(1) “Joe” says that both the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide were caused by gun control.
(2) “Joe” says that the way to stem illegal immigration is “going to Mexico, and start shooting.”
(3) “Joe” says that he would not let anyone who is “actually homosexual” near his children.
You might think that no one would listen to a schmo like this, but you would be wrong. In fact, “Joe the Plumber’s” website has drawn over one million visitors in a month. His website is one-stop shopping for anyone looking for folly, inanity, imbecility, dementia and lunacy. Not to mention constructive criticism, like calling me a “piece of nose slime” and a “dreg of society.”
And that’s really the heart of the matter. Not that “Joe” the “Plumber” calls me a “piece of nose slime” and a “dreg of society,” but that upwards of one million Tea Party stooges hear those words, and are poised to try to defeat me in November. Which is why I need your help, to fight back.
Not-Joe the Not-Plumber probably is upset with me because when he ran for Congress in 2012, we exposed his twaddle, and we raised $10,000 for his successful Democratic opponent. Meaning that Joe the Plumber’s promising political career as a Tea Party icon went down the drain. Which is exactly what Not-Joe wants to do to us.
Monday marks our FEC report cut-off date. We are under attack. It’s time for us to circle the wagons, and return fire. I need your help, and I need it now. We need to hire canvassers, collect petitions, set up phone banks and hand out campaign literature – right away. Every dollar counts. Our deadline is midnight on Monday. Please contribute today.
Rep. Alan Grayson
P.S. You may have heard this before, but the best way to help our campaign is to make monthly contributions. So please click here to contribute $20.14 each month. Help us fight back.
This Disgusting Illustration Has Been Making the Rounds.
I understand that you have to have a thick skin to be in politics. But I’m starting to think that I need an elephant’s hide. Or a flak jacket. Or both.
Recently, Tea Party star Joe the Plumber called me a “piece of nose slime.” Former Rep. Allen West revealed on national television that he “prays for my defeat.” Fox News propagandist Bill O’Reilly called me “crazy.” Former Gov. Mike Huckabee called my supporters “sick puppies.” So how long was it going to be, before national radio host Mark Levin chimed in and called me a “circus clown”?
If vicious personal attacks like calling a Member of Congress a “circus clown” make you feel ill, then click here, and give us the support we need to fight back.
For what it’s worth, I like circus clowns. I love the way that dozens of them pop out of those tiny little cars. My kids enjoy the suitcase gags, the juggling, and the magic tricks. But regardless of my affection for circus clowns, I am not one of them. Rather, I am a progressive, and the “most effective Member of Congress,” according to Slate magazine. Which is precisely why Mark Levin is calling me a circus clown. If I weren’t so effective, then they would ignore me.
And Mark Levin has an audience – a gullible audience, but nevertheless, an audience. Each week, 7.5 million people listen to his radio show. That’s the same number as Glenn Beck’s.
Lest you think that this is an isolated instance, an anomaly of some kind, here are some other harsh terms that right-wingers have flung at me during the merry month of March alone:
- “Chief Maggot of All Liberal Lowlifes” (Downtrend.com)
- “loudmouthed maverick liberal” (Gawker.com)
- “pretty big POS” (FireAndreaMitchell.com)
- “bad caveman” (AngryWhiteDude.com)
- “loathsome pest” (Downtrend.com again)
- “Lunatic” (“Jammie Wearing Fools”)
- “Shrek look-a-like” (SatireWorld.com)
I know what you may be thinking: “Sticks and stones will break Alan’s bones, but names will never hurt him.” Except they will hurt, because the website Gawker.com has over four million visitors each month. Downtrend.com has had over a million. These right-wing TV shows, radio shows and websites are running a conscious and coordinated smear campaign to prevent my reelection. Their Tea Party stooges hear those words, and they are poised to try to defeat us in November. Which is why I need your help, to fight back.
Do you remember the “Swift Boat” attacks against Presidential candidate John Kerry? Through endless repetition of lies and insults, they took someone who was a genuine war hero, and made him seem like a coward. We can’t let that happen again, to me or to any other victim of what Hillary Clinton called the “vast right-wing conspiracy.”
What if you were the target of these vile, depraved and degrading personal attacks? What if it were you?
I’m willing to stand up in the face of this brutal character assassination, and continue to fight for the common good. But I can’t defeat them all by myself. I need your help, and I need it now. Every dollar counts. Monday marks our FEC report cut-off date. Please contribute today. And the best way to help our campaign is to make monthly contributions.
I’ll do my part. But I need you to do yours. Please support our campaign today.
Rep. Alan Grayson
We batted .500 in the Illinois Congressional Primaries a week ago. Luis Gutierrez won, and George Gollin lost. If you helped either candidate, or both, thank you very much.
But that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about Susanne Atanus. GOP voters nominated her to run against Rep. Jan Schakowsky, in IL-9.
Even most Tea Party candidates are smart enough not to say what they really think. Not Susanne Atanus. It’s as if she had a chyron crawling across her forehead.
In a candidate debate at the Chicago Daily Herald, Atanus said that her top issue is the economy. The solution to our economic problems, Atanus said, is to eliminate the S&P, Dow Jones and Nasdaq indices. (While we’re at it, why don’t we eliminate unemployment by eliminating unemployment reports? How about achieving immortality by prohibiting death certificates?)
Here is more from the Daily Herald:
[Atanus] said she believes God controls the weather and has put tornadoes and diseases such as autism and dementia on earth as in response to gay rights and legalized abortions. “God is angry. We are provoking him with abortions and same-sex marriage and civil unions,” she said. “Same-sex activity is going to increase AIDS. If it’s in our military it will weaken our military. We need to respect God.”
She then elaborated on her views about religious meteorology with the aptly-named Windy City Times:
"Everybody knows that God controls weather," Atanus said. Atanus said that the snap of cold weather to the Chicago area, as well as the string of tornadoes and other adverse weather, is God’s response to the passage of same-sex marriage in Illinois. She also adds that she believes autism and illness are a response to abortion and same-sex marriage.
“God is super angry,” she said. “Gay marriage is not appropriate, and it doesn’t look right, and it breeds AIDS,” Atanus added later.
Oh, and Atanus also wants to repeal the separation of church and state in the First Amendment. “I believe that maybe there should be an amendment to get that out of the Constitution, because God will never go away,” Atanus said. Even if all the tornado victims and the AIDS patients wish he would.
Look: Barring an untimely death for one or the other (in case God really wants to get His hands dirty), the good people of the 9th Congressional District in Illinois are going to elect either Susanne Atanus or Jan Schakowsky to Congress in November. There are no other candidates on the ballot. That’s it.
I think that we had better make sure that it’s Jan Schakowsky.
I can tell you lots of good things about Jan Schakowsky. Like her jobs bill that I’ve cosponsored, which would put millions of Americans back to work. But that’s not what this is all about.
Susanne. Atanus. Must. Be. Defeated.
In 1991, when ethically-challenged Gov. Edwin Edwards ran against neo-Nazi David Duke for Governor of Louisiana, the bumper stickers read: “Vote for the Crook. It’s Important.” This time, the choice is a lot easier than that.
There isn’t always someone to vote for. But there is always someone to vote against. Please help Jan Schakowsky defeat Susanne Atanus today.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Big Brother, At Your Fingertips
After countless revelations about the NSA’s rampant domestic surveillance of innocent people, a group of experts, hand-picked by the President himself, have issued a report with specific recommendations to rein in the NSA. The Review Group carefully analyzed the NSA’s activities, and recently proposed changes that would protect our personal privacy, at no expense to our national security.
These proposals were presented as a coherent, comprehensive plan – and they should be treated as such. The President gave a speech recently and announced that he would accept a few of these proposals, but not all of them. That’s not good enough. No one – not the President, nor the Defense Department, nor the so-called “Intelligence Community” – should get to cherry-pick which proposals they’ll actually implement. The Review Group set forth a global program, not a menu.
We shouldn’t have to trade our privacy and freedom for our safety. And we don’t. The Review Group’s recommendations proved that point, and showed us the way forward.
The Review Group’s program is a serious start to reining in the spying-industrial complex. But without our support, that program will suffer crib death.
The spying-industrial complex will never reform itself. They never met a byte they didn’t like, or want. That’s why I’ve introduced the “Big Brother Is Not Watching You Act” – to curb the NSA’s infatuation with spying on innocent Americans. My one-page bill directs the President to implement each and every one of the Review Group’s 46 recommendations, within one year or less. Not just a few. Not half. Not even most. All of them.
If you agree, then please sign your name on our petition at MindYourOwnBusinessAct.com, and I’ll deliver your signatures to the White House. Together, we’ll tell the President that we demand real reform of the spying-industrial complex, and we won’t accept anything less.
Why? Because we are human beings – free, autonomous men and women who cherish our privacy, and respect the privacy of all others. We are not cattle.
Rep. Alan Grayson
P.S. Please, please, please forward this to your friends, family, co-workers, and anyone else who is sick of the NSA’s ubiquitous and unnecessary surveillance of innocent people. Urge them to sign the petition, and share it on Twitter, Facebook, everywhere. There is strength in numbers.