An Interview with Alan Grayson, a rare member of Congress, he’s honest —
John Fugelsang: You posted . . . that the President’s offer, essentially to cut Social Security benefits for seniors, does break a promise to America’s seniors. Some Republicans, of course, seem to like that. So, will Democrats support it, or will they support cuts to other social programs?
Congressman Alan Grayson: Well,the President specifically said in September 2008 that he would not change the formula for calculating the cost-of-living adjustment. That [would] take $1,000 a year out of the pockets of 90-year-olds. As for whether the Democrats will support it, I don’t know, but I know they shouldn’t.We’ve lined up 35 Democrats here in the House already who say, in the “Grayson-Takano Letter,” that they will vote against any cuts in Social Security, or Medicare, or Medicaid benefits.
John: So let me ask you, is it worth keeping the sequester cuts and foregoing any new revenues, in return for keeping Social Security as it is?
Alan: That’s not a choice that we should ever have to make.Social Security is not responsible for the deficit. The Social Security Fund has $1.9 trillion in it. It’s the largest sovereign wealth fund in the entire world. The Social Security Fund has been operating at a surplus now ever since the fund was founded, ever since the program was founded.We are 25 years away from anything resembling a problem of any kind with the Social Security system. In the next quarter of a century, under current law, the beneficiaries can get all that they’re entitled to. I don’t understand why we’re fretting over what might or might not happen in the year 2037, when we have 25 million Americans who are looking for full-time jobs [right now].
John: Well as you know, here on Viewpoint, we don’t like to call these programs ‘entitlements’–we call them ‘earned benefits’. But is there no compromise to be had for the President, unless he offers something like that up?
Alan: That’s just not the way you negotiate. The President has offered something up, in return for nothing. There’s no sign that the Republicans have any interest in making any sort of deal with the President, and even if they did, we’re not talking about things that are commensurate with each other. You can’t equate cutting Social Security benefits, cutting Medicare benefits — breaking the promise that we Americans have made to ourselves, the covenant that we make to ourselves– you can’t equate that with having millionaires and billionaires and multinational corporations finally pay their fair share of taxes.
John: With over 80% of the Bush tax cuts made permanent, I would add. So, let me ask you then, sir, for President Obama, is this an elaborate piece of political theater? Is he taking a page out of Dick Morris’ playbook for Bill Clinton by triangulating against House Democrats on this issue? So he can put himself in the middle of the political spectrum, where they say most voters live?
Alan: He may think so, but he’s making a terrible mistake.This is not a ‘Sister Souljah’ moment for the President. In fact, the President, I believe, is soon going to find through public polling that this is a terrible mistake.90% of Democrats and 80% of the Republicans are against this specific proposal. If you’re talking more generally about cuts in benefits, you find that 80% of the Democrats and 65% of the Republicans are against this kind of proposal. This doesn’t make any sense, either from a policy point of view, or a moral point of view, or even a political point of view. In fact,the President is putting at risk all the progress that we’ve made in identifying the Republican Party as the party in favor of cuts for Medicare and Social Security benefits, and the Democratic Party as the party that will protect the public from the Republicans.
Distributed by the Solidarity Information Service, May 14, 2013