A Conversation with Alan Grayson: Transcript

As I mentioned earlier, tonight we had a conversation with Congressman Alan Grayson over at the facebook group "Progress for a More Perfect Union."  You can see the thread here, but since the questions and answers are not all in order, I have constructed a transcript of sorts that puts the questions together with the Congressman's answers.  I'm organizing the transcript by subject and not chronologically.

Economy and Jobs.
Q: Pre-written questions about the jobs situation.

Grayson: Try to find a union job. That's one way to get ahead. But more generally, we need to do more for the people in America who work. Health coverage for them and their families, paid sick leave, pensions and a decent life. A New New Deal. A Real Deal.

Q: How about the economy...getting better or should we be ready for even more pain?

Grayson: I'm not sure which way the economy will go in the short-run. The Recovery Act runs out at the end of September, and the Republicans have gotten so good at blocking everything that there may be nothing to replace it. Which would mean more pain, for lots of people.
Electoral Politics.
Q: I am wondering if you feel the Democratic chances for election victories in November are as grim as some prognosicators are reporting? Thank you.

Grayson: No. I can't believe that America wants to go back to $4 a gallon gas, endless wars, and borrowing from the Chinese to give tax cuts to the rich.

Q: Why have the Democrats abandoned North Georgia?

Grayson: Regarding the "abandonment" of North Georgia, no one is going to save us from us but us. There is a vibrant Democratic Southern Populist tradition; if you don't believe me, just as Rep. Marion Berry (D-Ark.). There are a huge number of Democrats in Southern State legislatures, and lots still in Congress (including me). If you want to take back North Georgia, just do it.

Q: Why are democrats not using the Republicans words against them? For instance John Boehner said that the Republicans would seek a moratorium on all regulation. Would no regulations prevent another BP disaster or financial disaster? Isn't it true you can just use their own words and policies against them?

Grayson: We do use the Republican's words against them. It's just that we don't have a giant megaphone like Fox that functions as a giant mimeograph machine for the right wing.

Q: Congressman, why are the Republican'ts so good at making Americans to believe their lies?

Grayson: As PT Barnum said, you can fool some of the people all of the time. Those people are called Fox viewers.
Health Care - Medicare Buy-in.
ME: Has the Medicare buy-in bill been scored by the CBO? What can we do to help you move it, if anything, beyond making calls to our Representatives and Senators?

Grayson: The Medicare You Can Buy Into Act scores at zero or better, because it specifically says that it has to pay for itself. But we have premium estimates that are very reasonable -- barely $500 month for people in their 60s, down to $100 a month for children.
Ending Tax Giveaways to the Wealthy.
Q: We are well aware that the Bush tax cuts represent the biggest portion of the deficit. Letting the cuts expire will only affect the very wealthy. How do Democrats sell a "tax increase" during the midterms?

Grayson: On the Bush tax cuts for the rich, President Obama has said quite clearly that he will not raise taxes on people making up to $250K each year, but that pledge does not apply to the rich. That's where he has drawn the line. If the Republicans think that they can force through more tax cuts for the rich while blocking health care and energy independence, they're crazy.
Congressional Process and Republican Obstructionism.
ME: A little known provision in the Constitution requires permission from one house of Congress for the other to go on recess. If the Republicans in the Senate continue their obstructionism, what do you think of the idea of Speaker Pelosi canceling all Congressional vacations, including for the Senate by denying them consent to adjourn? Or in the alternative, for the President to keep calling Congress back in session until they get things done on helping the 99ers and a meaningful energy bill, for example? Republicans seem to fear that one thing: being denied vacation time.

Grayson: The Republican filibuster has made the Senate entirely dysfunctional. Which is exactly how the Republicans like it -- dysfunctional. I saw today that Daily Kos is leading a campaign against the filibuster, and I hope it will catch on.
The Hostility of the Right.
Q: Please explain why the progressives who gave the President his job and a super majority have been ignored while conservatives have been wooed. And please make believable promises for some unmistakable progress in America.

Grayson: Regarding why conservatives have been "wooed" by the White House, there was a theory at the beginning that this would help to stave off Senate filibusters. That theory has been proven wrong, over and over again. Like any other failed theory, it should be discarded.

As to being "fired up" this year, just find candidates whom you believe in, and support them. It's that simple.
SeaWorld and OSHA.
Q: Some "SeaWorld" questions with OSHA... [not sure of the context].

Grayson: It's my job to help constituents who have some problem with a federal agency. This is true whether the constituent is a 74-year-old grandmother, or a theme park that employs 6000 people.
Once again, the transcript is summarized by subject matter, and only covers questions Congressman Grayson had time to answer. Congressman Grayson's website is Congressmanwithguts.com.

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