As John wrote about yesterday, Alan Grayson is going to run for Congress again in Florida. He joined Ed Schultz to talk about the current negotiations going on right now over raising the debt ceiling and he didn't have too many kind words about our social safety nets being put on the table and for Republicans being given a complete pass for claiming we have to make huge cuts to the budget without explaining what those cuts are.
As Grayson noted, if we ended a lot of our ill advised military adventures, that would go a really long way towards balancing our budget rather than asking it be taken our of the hides of everyday Americans. Ed Schultz asked Grayson about President Obama putting Social Security on the table during these debt ceiling negotiations and I don't necessarily agree with the way Schultz characterized it since unfortunately we don't know enough details about what either side is offering up during these negotiations.
That said, I do agree that I don't think our social safety nets should have been put out there as a bargaining chip so that the Obama administration might be able to use to make the Republicans look like the unreasonable fools that they are if they still refuse to make a deal. The problem with making that offer is what if the Republicans take it? Then what?
Anyway, par for the course, Grayson as usual didn't pull too many punches here with how he feels about all of this.
Transcript below the fold.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.
One of the things we‘ve been talking about is whether President Obama will draw a line in the sand when we need him to. Is the president trying to strengthen Social Security and Medicare? Or is he talking about crucial cuts?
Let‘s bring in former congressman, Alan Grayson, who has been a fighter for the left since the day he got on the national scene.
Congressman, good to have you with us tonight.
I want to listen to part of what President Obama said today about the entitlements and Medicare. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The vast majority of Democrats on Capitol would prefer not to have to do anything on entitlements. And I‘m sympathetic to their concerns because they are looking out for folks who are already hurting and already vulnerable. And there are a lot of families out there and seniors who are dependent on some of these programs.
And What I try to explain to them is: number one, if you look at the numbers, then, Medicare in particular, will run out of money, and we will not be able to sustain that program.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Alan Grayson, you have been a man known for your unvarnished opinion. If you were in Congress today, what would be your advice and how would you handle this?
FMR. REP. ALAN GRAYSON (D), FLORIDA: I would not vote for any cuts in Medicare, I would not vote for any cuts in Social Security, and I‘d grabbing everybody else by the collar and telling them they should do the same.
Look, you know, the Republicans have been saying now for months that we need to cut $2 trillion out of the budget over the next 10 years, without ever saying what they would cut. They got a free ride for the past two months or three months talking about all these wonder cuts that are going to reduce the deficit, reduce the debt, without ever saying what they are.
Now, I know a way to cut $2 trillion out of the deficit in the next 10 years. You could end the wars. You could end the wars in Afghanistan, you could end the war in Iraq, and Libya, those wars cost us $157 billion last year, and the cost is going up, not down. If you want to save $2 trillion, how about peace? Why don‘t we give that a try?
SCHULTZ: Social Security is even a bigger deal, it seems like. Although Harry Reid was on “Meet the Press” I think a couple of months ago, said we didn‘t have a problem. But I guess now, the president wants to put it on the table.
The president has acknowledged it‘s not part of the deficit problem, and I think that‘s starting to sink with in Americans. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: With respect to Social Security, Social Security is not the source of our deficit problems. Social Security, if it is part of a package, would be an issue of how do we make sure Social Security extends its life and is strengthened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: So, strengthened means cuts, OK? Let‘s get the code language out here. Any time you want to strengthen something, you are going ask consumers, who pay into the program that‘s been successful for all these decades, that they just got to do more for the top 2 percent. So, if it‘s not the source of the problem, why in the hell do we have to address it now? What do you think?
GRAYSON: Because Washington has now divided between the meanies and weanies. That‘s the real two-party system today in Washington. The meanies and weanies.
The meanies want to take Social Security and Medicare away from grandma and grandpa. The weanies are quite willing to go along with it and compromise.
Well, people need Social Security and Medicare to live. And there‘s no compromise between life and death. There‘s no middle ground.
The average person who retires in America today has less than $50,000 in savings. That‘s good for one, maybe two years, and those people live for close to—
GRAYSON: There is no way anybody in America can get by without Social Security and Medicare, and that‘s what right wing in America wants to take away. I say, no, no compromise. We need to strengthen Social Security and Medicare.
I want to see Medicare cover dental work. I want to see Medicare cover hearing aids. I want to see Medicare cover actual medical needs.
SCHULTZ: Is this president weak? Why isn‘t he saying what you‘re saying? Why does he throw $4 trillion out on the table when he knows that‘s an unrealistic number? Is he just trying to prove a point that the Republicans are never going to deal with him? Hell, anyone could have told me that last week.
GRAYSON: He is the president. He‘s the leader of my party. So, I don‘t know exactly what to say.
But I do this—all of this compromise hasn‘t accomplished anything useful for anybody on our side. It hasn‘t done any good at all.
The president should be saying to people, the Republican Party is cruel. The Republican Party is bigoted. The Republican Party cares about tax breaks for the rich.
SCHULTZ: Congressman, there‘s a lot of people who need your voice.
Are you going to get back into this political arena?
GRAYSON: Ed, I announced today that I‘m running for Congress again. And already, at our Web site, congresswithguts.com, hundreds of people have made a contribution.
So, yes, I‘m back.
SCHULTZ: It‘s good to have you back. Former Congressman Alan Grayson with us tonight here on THE ED SHOW, thanks so much.