Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Alan Grayson on His Medicare Buy-In and Reality Show Personality Palin

The following from Crooks & Liars:

Alan Grayson appeared on Rick Sanchez's show for the first time and talked about his Medicare You Can Buy Into Act, HR 4789, how he feels about passing the health care bill, his comment about Palin where he said "scientists were studying very carefully her trips between Florida and Alaska to learn more about the migratory patterns of the wild Alaskan dingbat" and his statement that the Republicans' health care plan is don't get sick and if you do, die quickly.

SANCHEZ: Joining us now, he's on THE LIST for the very first time after voting for the health care bill last night, is Florida Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson.

Congressman, good to see you, sir.

GRAYSON: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Hey, what was it like yesterday? I just got to ask you, first of all, because there were times as I watched it I couldn't take my eyes off of it for seven hours. It was like watching a docudrama or something, what was going on in the House. It looked like the Taiwanese parliament for a while there.

What was your impression of everything going on?

GRAYSON: I had a different take than most people. I've heard those speeches over and over and over again.

I actually left around 8:00 and went down and hung out with the demonstrators for about an hour and a half and talked to them. There were plenty of people there on both sides of the argument. And I learned a lot from talking to them, and I heard some things I had not heard from my colleagues before.

SANCHEZ: You voted for this thing but you didn't like it. Right?

GRAYSON: No. I wouldn't say that at all.

I think it can be improved on. I've introduced a three-and-a-half page bill called Medicare -- the Medicare You Can Buy Into Act, HR 4789. And I think that that's the missing piece to this bill.

I think people should be able to buy into Medicare. If you want it and you pay for it, then you should have it. And I think that you're going to see movement in that direction after this bill. But I think it's a good bill. I'm glad I voted for it.

I mean, look, it saves lives.

SANCHEZ: I imagine the reason you want to do this, by the way, this Medicare thing that you're introducing, is because you want to create more competition. It doesn't seem like there's enough competition in this bill. Right?

GRAYSON: That's part of it. The other thing is that we -- the most difficult part of establishing competition is to establish a provider network.

And we've spent billions of dollars making sure that everybody from Nome, Alaska, to Key West Florida can actually go and see a Medicare doctor wherever they might need to be in the country, but it's available to only one-eighth of the public. It's like saying only seniors can drive on federal highways.

It just doesn't make any sense. It's this enormously valuable public resource that we own and we pay for and we have to use for the benefit of everyone.

SANCHEZ: The only thing about the Dems that I think they're being somewhat disingenuous on is I think you should just come clean, shouldn't you, and say, yes, this is very expensive? It takes a lot of money to do something historic like this. But I hear a lot of Democrats making it sound like this is the way to solve all of our economic problems.

Is that true? Is that genuine, when you hear people say that?

GRAYSON: Well, I think of it in terms of human beings. I know that there are so many people who don't have any coverage, and now 30 million more Americans will have it.

I know there's a lot of people who can't afford their coverage. Now it's going to be more affordable for them.


GRAYSON: I know that there's a lot of people who finally get all the health care they need until they actually need some. And then the insurance companies try to chintz them. That's not going to be possible anymore. So, ,in terms of actual individuals, those people are going to be better off, and seniors, too.

SANCHEZ: No, and I get that. And even Republicans that I talk to get that. But their concern is, it's too damn expensive.

Couldn't you have done it another way? Couldn't you have done it another time?

GRAYSON: But how can you say that when the Congressional Budget Office says it will reduce the federal deficit by $4,000 for every man, woman and child in this country? We're saving money, not wasting it.

SANCHEZ: Let ask you about something that just went on between you and Sarah Palin. You got into a little bit of a scuffle recently.

She said in a speech in Orlando, your district, your area, she said, "I can't even talk about this guy because there's kids in the room."

I mean, you've got to be a pretty awful guy for someone to say they can't even talk about you.

GRAYSON: I want to know why her kid was in the room. My kid was in school that day.

SANCHEZ: Well, you came back and you called her a "Alaskan dingbat." Did you really say that?

GRAYSON: What I said was that scientists were studying very carefully her trips between Florida and Alaska to learn more about the migratory patterns of the wild Alaskan dingbat.

SANCHEZ: My goodness. Now --

GRAYSON: And I also told her that I'd welcome the opportunity to debate her on the issues as soon as she learns anything about them.

SANCHEZ: Oh my goodness. So you don't think that Sarah Palin's all that qualified, then, from what I hear you saying, huh?

GRAYSON: You know, I think that she's an inspiration to quitters all over the country.


GRAYSON: I think that she's an inspiration to every student in school who cheats. That handwriting business, that was really original.

SANCHEZ: Palin recently said that she'd got some treatment. She was giving a speech in Calgary, I believe, and she said that she got treatment with her parents and would go down to Canada for -- to use their single payer system.

Now, that was weird, because she's been a real fighter against the system. Were you taken aback when she said that?

GRAYSON: Oh, look, you know, she's not even a political figure anymore. She's just a reality show personality. That's where all of this is heading. She just want to make money. That's it.

SANCHEZ: When you --

GRAYSON: It's all about -- go ahead.

SANCHEZ: Sorry about that. We've got a little bit of a satellite delay and it looks like we're stepping on each other just a little bit.

You're the kind of guy who says what he thinks. And when recently you were in the news for coming out and turning things around, as you tried to do with Republicans, and saying, no, they're the ones who are creating a situation where they'll kill old people, did you say that --

GRAYSON: No, no. Look, I mocked the absence of their health care plan.

There is no Republican health care plan that would actually give insurance to the people who don't have it. There is no Republican health care plan that will give you cheaper insurance. So what I said is, the Republican health care plan is, don't get sick.

But they understand that people are going to get sick anyway from time to time. So their backup plan is, if you do get sick, then die quickly. That's what I said.

SANCHEZ: Final question -- when you say things like that, which you know are going to -- I mean, Congressman, you know that they're going to get a lot of attention. Are you playing to the audience? Are you trying to get folks to say, hey, you know what, look at that guy down there in Florida, he's interesting? I want to see him -- are you making a lot of noise for the purposes of making noise?

GRAYSON: Look, you know, what it really comes down to is what the other side is saying. The truth hurts. And truth is very powerful.

SANCHEZ: And you believe that you were telling the truth?

GRAYSON: Oh, no question about it. No question about it.

SANCHEZ: Alan Grayson, congressman --

GRAYSON: Truth to power.

SANCHEZ: --- from Florida, is Alan Grayson. He's good enough to come and join us to have this discussion.

I'm glad you came on, sir. This is your first go-around, but we'll get you back. OK?

GRAYSON: I'll love it. Thank you very much.

SANCHEZ: Thank you.

Transcript via CNN.

Obama's grade/accomplishments

[Photo from the National Post]

This was sent to me by a friend and I think it is an important piece, especially in light of the vile, hostile, premeditated attempts by Republicans and the right-wing media to "bring him down" and make him "fail."

Robert P. Watson, Ph.D. Coordinator of American Studies
Lynn University "

I am always being asked to grade Obama's presidency. In place of offering him a grade, I put together a list of his accomplishments thus far.

I think you would agree that it is very impressive. His first six months have been even more active than FDRs or LBJs the two standards for such assessments. Yet, there is little media attention given to much of what he has done. Of late, the media is focusing almost exclusively on Obama's critics, without holding them responsible for the uncivil, unconstructive tone of their disagreements or without holding the previous administration responsible for getting us in such a deep hole. The misinformation and venom that now passes for political reporting and civic debate is beyond description.

As such, there is a need to set the record straight. What most impresses me is the fact that Obama has accomplished so much not from a heavy-handed or top-down approach but from a style that has institutionalized efforts to reach across the aisle, encourage vigorous debate, and utilize town halls and panels of experts in the policy-making process. Beyond the accomplishments, the process is good for democracy and our democratic processes have been battered and bruised in recent years.

Let me know if I missed anything in the list (surely I did).

1. Ordered all federal agencies to undertake a study and make recommendations for ways to cut spending
2. Ordered a review of all federal operations to identify and cut wasteful spending and practices
3. Instituted enforcement for equal pay for women
4. Beginning the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq
5. Families of fallen soldiers have expenses covered to be on hand when the body arrives at Dover AFB
6. Ended media blackout on war casualties; reporting full information
7. Ended media blackout on covering the return of fallen soldiers to Dover AFB; the media is now permitted to do so pending adherence to respectful rules and approval of fallen soldier's family
8. The White House and federal government are respecting the Freedom of Information Act
9. Instructed all federal agencies to promote openness and transparency as much as possible
10. Limits on lobbyist's access to the White House
11. Limits on White House aides working for lobbyists after their tenure in the administration
12. Ended the previous stop-loss policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan longer than their enlistment date
13. Phasing out the expensive F-22 war plane and other outdated weapons systems, which weren't even used or needed in Iraq/Afghanistan
14. Removed restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research
15. Federal support for stem-cell and new biomedical research
16. New federal funding for science and research labs
17. States are permitted to enact federal fuel efficiency standards above federal standards
18. Increased infrastructure spending (roads, bridges, power plants) after years of neglect
19. Funds for high-speed, broadband Internet access to K-12 schools
20. New funds for school construction
21. The prison at Guantanamo Bay is being phased out
22. US Auto industry rescue plan
23. Housing rescue plan
24. $789 billion economic stimulus plan
25. The public can meet with federal housing insurers to refinance (the new plan can be completed in one day) a mortgage if they are having trouble paying
26. US financial and banking rescue plan
27. The secret detention facilities in Eastern Europe and elsewhere are being closed
28. Ended the previous policy; the US now has a no torture policy and is in compliance with the Geneva Convention standards
29. Better body armor is now being provided to our troops
30. The missile defense program is being cut by $1.4 billion in 2010
31. Restarted the nuclear nonproliferation talks and building back up the nuclear inspection infrastructure/protocols
32. Reengaged in the treaties/agreements to protect the Antarctic
33. Reengaged in the agreements/talks on global warming and greenhouse gas emissions
34. Visited more countries and met with more world leaders than any president in his first six months in office
35. Successful release of US captain held by Somali pirates; authorized the SEALS to do their job
36. US Navy increasing patrols off Somali coast
37. Attractive tax write-offs for those who buy hybrid automobiles
38. Cash for clunkers program offers vouchers to trade in fuel inefficient, polluting old cars for new cars; stimulated auto sales
39. Announced plans to purchase fuel efficient American-made fleet for the federal government
40. Expanded the SCHIP program to cover health care for 4 million more children
41. Signed national service legislation; expanded national youth service program
42. Instituted a new policy on Cuba , allowing Cuban families to return home to visit loved ones
43. Ended the previous policy of not regulating and labeling carbon dioxide emissions
44. Expanding vaccination programs
45. Immediate and efficient response to the floods in North Dakota and other natural disasters
46. Closed offshore tax safe havens
47. Negotiated deal with Swiss banks to permit US government to gain access to records of tax evaders and criminals
48. Ended the previous policy of offering tax benefits to corporations who outsource American jobs; the new policy is to promote in-sourcing to bring jobs back
49.. Ended the previous practice of protecting credit card companies; in place of it are new consumer protections from credit card industry's predatory practices
50. Energy producing plants must begin preparing to produce 15% of their energy from renewable sources
51. Lower drug costs for seniors
52. Ended the previous practice of forbidding Medicare from negotiating with drug manufacturers for cheaper drugs; the federal government is now realizing hundreds of millions in savings
53. Increasing pay and benefits for military personnel
54. Improved housing for military personnel
55. Initiating a new policy to promote federal hiring of military spouses
56. Improved conditions at Walter Reed Military Hospital and other military hospitals
57. Increasing student loans
58. Increasing opportunities in AmeriCorps program
59. Sent envoys to Middle East and other parts of the world that had been neglected for years; reengaging in multilateral and bilateral talks and diplomacy
60. Established a new cyber security office
61. Beginning the process of reforming and restructuring the military 20 years after the Cold War to a more modern fighting force; this includes new procurement policies, increasing size of military, new technology and cyber units and operations, etc.
62. Ended previous policy of awarding no-bid defense contracts
63. Ordered a review of hurricane and natural disaster preparedness
64. Established a National Performance Officer charged with saving the federal government money and making federal operations more efficient
65. Students struggling to make college loan payments can have their loans refinanced
66. Improving benefits for veterans
67. Many more press conferences and town halls and much more media access than previous administration
68. Instituted a new focus on mortgage fraud
69. The FDA is now regulating tobacco
70. Ended previous policy of cutting the FDA and circumventing FDA rules
71. Ended previous practice of having White House aides rewrite scientific and environmental rules, regulations, and reports
72. Authorized discussions with North Korea and private mission by Pres. Bill Clinton to secure the release of two Americans held in prisons
73. Authorized discussions with Myanmar and mission by Sen. Jim Webb to secure the release of an American held captive
74. Making more loans available to small businesses
75. Established independent commission to make recommendations on slowing the costs of Medicare
76. Appointment of first Latina to the Supreme Court
77. Authorized construction/opening of additional health centers to care for veterans
78. Limited salaries of senior White House aides; cut to $100,000
79. Renewed loan guarantees for Israel
80. Changed the failing/status quo military command in Afghanistan
81. Deployed additional troops to Afghanistan
82. New Afghan War policy that limits aerial bombing and prioritizes aid, development of infrastructure, diplomacy, and good government practices by Afghans
83. Announced the long-term development of a national energy grid with renewable sources and cleaner, efficient energy production
84. Returned money authorized for refurbishment of White House offices and private living quarters
85. Paid for redecoration of White House living quarters out of his own pocket
86. Held first Seder in White House
87. Attempting to reform the nation's healthcare system which is the most expensive in the world yet leaves almost 50 million without health insurance and millions more under insured
88. Has put the ball in play for comprehensive immigration reform
89. Has announced his intention to push for energy reform
90. Has announced his intention to push for education reform

Oh, and he built a swing set for the girls outside the Oval Office

h/t to Bob Poris