The Party's Over For The Tea Party Because They Couldn't Come Up With Any Solutions-- And We Need Viable Solutions, Not A Failed Austerity Agenda
Not every Member of Congress can be Alan Grayson. That used to make me so frustrated. Then Anthony Weiner tried... but he was Anthony Weiner, not Alan Grayson-- and what a disaster that turned out to be! Alan isn't looking for a platform that's popular... he embodies that platform with his entire being-- the way Raul Grijalva does, the way Judy Chu does, the way Barbara Lee does, the way Jerry Nadler does... the way, I'm afraid. Anthony Weiner just never really did. Authenticity still means something in politics.
A few days ago Eliot Spitzer had Alan Grayson on his TV show, Viewpoint, and you can watch it here (unfortunately, it can't be embedded). It isn't likely to please corporate Democrats who are trying to present Boehner's collaborator in the weakening of Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare as some kind of a hero. Alan knows who progressive heroes are and who isn't. Think about this exchange between him and Spitzer:
ELIOT: All right. Look, you are going to go to Washington to push a progressive agenda. How comfortable are you that after [the election] the President understands that this is now a time for a grand agenda, not just a “grand bargain”?
ALAN: It remains to be seen. It’s just too early to say. I couldn’t tell from watching the campaign. I couldn’t tell from his [victory] speech. I just don’t know. I don’t know if the President is going to try to fight for the Middle Class, fight to make America more equal, fight for the 99%, or whether the President is just going to try to play checkers with the other side, and see how that works out.
ELIOT: There is enormous pressure, even though the public doesn’t appreciate this, enormous pressure within the Beltway to reach a compromise, to play nice, and not to say things that sometimes need to be said, but are not comfortable for people to hear. And so, I sense, and the reason I am so excited about your going back to Washington is that you will push the White House, and hold them accountable if they cave too quickly. What should the President’s first offer to John Boehner be?
ALAN: Or if they cave [at all]. Wait a minute. Why talk about caving at all? The Democrats won the election. And I’ll tell you this-- I’m upset by the idea that we would try to make our fiscal policy somehow more sound at the expense of our seniors. I don’t understand why we want to do that. Why are we taking from the people who have nothing, in order to feed the rich? I just don’t get that. I don’t understand why. I’m against cuts in benefits for Social Security-- period. I’m against cuts in benefits in Medicare-- period. We’re just going to find another way to solve the deficit problem. We have to, because it is not fair to the seniors. We’re not going to throw Grandma from the train, as long as I’m going to have anything to say about it.
ELIOT: Which means that you are going to propose, you and those who agree with you (and I’m one of them) a tax policy, a tax plan that will take us in a more progressive direction, that will close the loopholes. Will you actually lay out for the White House, you and colleagues say, “Here in the Progressive Caucus, here is the plan, the alternative plan that will get us where we need to go?” And when would you do that for us?
ALAN: Yes, every year the Progressive Caucus has proposed an alternative budget. This goes back for a long, long time. And the alternative budget is based, in part, upon progressive taxation: The idea that Mitt Romney should not be paying less in taxes than the secretary who works for Warren Buffet or anybody else. The idea that the rich should pay their fair share... We [should] go back to the principle that a dollar is a dollar, and just because you are rich and you get it through capital gains doesn’t mean you get some sort of special tax break, or if you get it through qualified dividends you get some special tax break. If we go back to the [common] sense that a dollar is a dollar, that they’re all green, [so] let’s tax them equally, that itself would go substantially to reduce the deficit. That tax break alone is over $100 billion a year.
ELIOT: Well the notion of saying, as you just did, capital gains income is the same thing as ordinary income, taxing them in an equal way, it was actually in Simpson-Bowles, [but] of course people want to ignore that. And a critical report just came out from the Congressional Research Service saying that the premise of the entire Republican tax policy, which is that lowering tax rates on capital increases investment, is wrong. And it seems to me if you argue that point to the public, they will understand that what you’re proposing is the right way to go, both on equity grounds and on economic development grounds.
ALAN: Yes, and let’s stop stealing from the poor. They just don’t have any money left.