November 15, 2012


Transcript of an interview with recently elected Representative Alan Grayson (D FLA) and The Young Turks' Cenk Ugyuar.

A few days ago, Alan Grayson was back on national TV with Cenk Uygur, host of "The Young Turks," talking about the so-called "fiscal cliff." Here is what they said: 

CENK UYGUR: What's unacceptable is how Washington continues to screw the Middle Class over. Now a guy who has been fighting against that is Representative Alan Grayson. He's a former congressman and a future congressman because he just got elected to Florida's [9th] District in Orlando. Congressman Grayson, [it's] great to have you here. First of all, talk to me about the "Grand Bargain." As it is currently structured, are you in favor of it or against it? 

ALAN GRAYSON: I'm entirely against it. Look, Naomi Klein wrote a whole book about this, called The Shock DoctrineThis is an artificial shock. It's being induced in order to be able to justify policies you could not possibly justify on their merits, and I think that people are getting very frustrated about this. The polls clearly show that over three quarters of the population doesn't want any cuts in benefits in Social Security, or any cuts in benefits for Medicare, in order to be able to reduce the deficit. What they want, a majority, want cuts in the defense budget, and they want an end to the war in Afghanistan to reduce the deficit. And instead what we are seeing is this artificial creation [of a crisis], right after we saw a real crisis. We saw a real crisis in Hurricane Sandy, and that's what a real crisis looks like. An artificial crisis is being instituted to steal from us, to steal from the Middle Class, and to steal from people in need. 

CENK: It's so refreshing to hear a Democratic Congressman actually say that. So now, unfortunately, not only do you have the Republicans against you, it appears that you've got the Administration against you. They can't wait to do this Grand Bargain. So how in the world do progressive Democrats fight back to make sure it doesn't happen? 

ALAN: Well, first we have to make sure people understand there is a third choice. We can't have the Republican Party saying, "We want to strip away your Medicare and your Social Security,"like they do in the Ryan Budget, which they all voted for and which passed the House, and then have the Democratic Party say, "Have half." That doesn't work. There's got to be a third alternative. Somebody has to say, "No, that's just not the way we are going to do this. We're not going to strip money from the people in need. We're not going to throw Grandma from the train. We're just not going to do it." 

What you're going to see is that this will become a litmus test. This will become a litmus test in the Democratic Party, in the same way that favoring tax cuts for the rich has become a litmus test for the Republican Party. Anybody who votes for cuts in Social Security and cuts in Medicare can expect a primary in the year 2014. 

CENK: That would be terrific. Now, as you go into this Congress, and unfortunately you are going to get there after the lame duck session, where they might cut this Grand Bargain. How much of a fighting squad do you have with you? How many progressives can stand up and actually say that? Is it a large enough block to actually throw a roadblock into what's happening? 

ALAN: Yes, but it shouldn't come to that. The Democratic Party should be united. We are the Party that created Social Security. We are the Party that created Medicare. We should stand behind it. We should protect it. It's amazingly popular among the voters. Why should we shoot ourselves in the head by saying we're going to end these programs, we're going to cut back these programs, when we created them and the voters love them? 

CENK: It is such a good question. Unfortunately there is no good answer for that, except for the fact that, of course, a lot of the Democratic Party establishment also takes money from corporations, and the rich and the powerful, and so no matter what the election says, the rich and the powerful including the defense contractors wind up winning anyway. We hope that you can be successful in your fight back on the policy issues. And, as always, thank you so much for joining us Congressman Grayson. 

ALAN: Thank you very much. It's a pleasure. Thank you.