Transcript: Thom Hartmann talks to Congressman Alan Grayson about health care and the Federal Reserve, 02 October 2009
Thom Hartmann: And welcome back, Thom Hartmann here with you broadcasting live today from Germany. I’ll be heading home tomorrow, we’ll be back in the U.S.A. as they say. And at the moment on the line with us congressman Alan Grayson, grayson.house.gov is his website. He is the US congressman from Florida’s 8th district, the Democrat from Florida’s 8th district. Congressman Grayson, welcome to the show.
Alan Grayson: Thanks Thom, I’m a big fan. I listen to your show all the time on satellite radio and I appreciate the fact that you run Jim Hightower’s reports as well because I read the Hightower report and I’m one of the original subscribers.
Thom Hartmann: Oh that's great, that’s great. Well, and I’m a big fan of your work. In fact I thought that your interrogation back in May of this year of the Federal Reserve Inspector General and your serial interrogations of Ben Bernanke demanding where did the 550 billion dollars in central liquidity swaps go and all this kind of stuff. I played a whole bunch of this audio of you on the air and I don’t think most of our listeners have put two and two together that you’re the guy who has been holding the financial feet to the fire of some of these people, as well as the guy who called out the Republicans on the healthcare thing. And if it’s okay with you, we’ve got 5 minutes here, I’d like to touch on both those topics. Can we start with you know, why you’re in the news right now, calling out the Republicans. Number 1: Good on ya. How do we get more of your colleagues to talk like you?
Alan Grayson: Well, because they’ll see the success and the public response that we’ve received. Our emails are running 4 to 1 in favor. We received over 6,000 emails in 24 hours after this happened and over 5000 people have gone to the website GraysonForCongress.com and contributed. That's over 5,000 new contributors. People see that a Democrat with guts can succeed. You know I’ve always said you don’t have to be a Republican to beat a Republican. I’m the first Democrat to represent my district in 34 years and I’ve been trying to set an example for others that the way to be a Democrat and succeed is to be a real democrat. A Democrat with a head and a heart.
Thom Hartmann: Well I guess what you’re saying is Harry Truman’s old saying that you know when people are given the option of choosing between a real Republican or a Democrat who behaves like a Republican, they’ll take the Republican. And obviously the same thing on the other side. We need more Democrats who behave like real Democrats. And you’re doing that, and you’ve done a marvelous job of hijacking the death meme that the Republicans have been putting out there. And it’s so real. I mean 45,000 Americans died. This is an American tragedy. There’s been some controversy around your use of the word holocaust. We’ve had some people calling in about that. Do you want to speak to that for a moment?
Alan Grayson: Well sure, I mean I regret the choice of the word but what’s important is not the words it’s the dead. As you just said. We have 45,000 Americans who die every single year from lack of health insurance. And you don’t have to take my word for it, this is a peer reviewed study printed in a prestigious medical journal 3 weeks ago, written by five Harvard professors that say that every single year 44,789 Americans die because they don’t have health insurance. And this is controlling for age and for gender and for race and even for weight. And they find that the death rate among the uninsured is 40% higher than it is among the insured. And it’s a tremendous tragedy. So I referred to it as a holocaust, you refer to is as a tragedy.
But let’s not get bogged down, let’s solve the problem. That’s the thing that frustrates people so much, you know, instead of having two or three or five or seven plans to choose from, we’ve got only one. The Democratic plan because the Republican plan is meaningless. The Republican plan is exactly what I said, the Republican plan for healthcare is don’t get sick. And if you do get sick, the bills are mounting, you have no way to pay them, your health is getting worse and worse, your insurance company cuts you off, then their plan is very simple: die quickly.
Thom Hartmann: Right, yeah, tragically. Congressman Alan Grayson on the line with us. What was the .com website, I'm sorry, sir?
Alan Grayson: GraysonForCongress.com and as I said we’ve been getting contributions literally every minute and it’s teaching the other side a lesson because things really got hot when the other side tried to attack me and introduced a resolution of disapproval for what I said and then they backed down because that’s the way bullies are. When you fight back they back down. But once they started to play that ‘you have to apologize’ crybaby card, then our side mobilized to protect me.
Thom Hartmann: GraysonForCongress.com.
Alan Grayson: That's right.
Thom Hartmann: And we’re talking with Congressman Alan Grayson, you’re also on the Financial Services House Committee on Oversight and Investigations, if I have that right?
Alan Grayson: Yes, and you know the work that we’ve done has been so well received. We did an oversight hearing on the Federal Reserve with the Inspector General, certainly not the most exciting topic, and…
Thom Hartmann: I find it fascinating.
Alan Grayson: And we put it up on YouTube.
Well so do a lot of other people. We put it up on YouTube. 2.8 million people, 2.8 million people have downloaded that congressional hearing and according to our YouTube statistics they watched the whole five minutes, that’s all they gave me, five minutes that’s all I can do. And people think it basically captures the sense that the people in charge really don’t know what they’re doing at the Federal Reserve. That’s why it’s the most popular clip of a congressional hearing in history. And we put up another one, the one that you mentioned concerning Bernanke.
The week that we put that up it was the 2nd most popular news video in the entire world. The first most popular news video was, that was the week that the ESPN reporter was videotaped naked in her hotel room. So that was the number one clip. Now we had no naked people in our clip so.
Thom Hartmann: Tough competition.
Alan Grayson: Yeah, that’s right, it was tough competition but we were number two. So even subjects like this we’re getting an enormous attention, enormous support, because people see that there’s someone who’s working hard, paying attention and getting things done. Somebody…
Thom Hartmann: Bottom line, Congressman, we’re talking with congressman Alan Grayson, GraysonForCongress.com his website, and the bottom line with regard to the Fed and TARP and the bailout and this whole, you know, helicopter dropping money on the banks scheme that’s been going on since the last years of the Bush Administration, did you ever get a straight answer to where did the 550 billion dollars go or where did the two trillion dollars go or what’s going on with our financial system?
Alan Grayson: No. The newspapers, the radio, the TV, they all cover these visible bailouts but not the invisible bailout. It was shocking to me to have Bernanke admit that he gave 500 billion dollars, that’s 1700 dollars for every single man woman and child in America, 500 billion dollars to foreign central banks to do with as they will. You know, honestly I think every country in the world got a bailout in the last year except the American ones. No bailouts for small business, no bailouts for homeowners. But if you lived in New Zealand, Mr. Bernanke gave you a $3000 line of credit for every single person who lives in New Zealand.
Thom Hartmann: That’s incredible, that’s incredible. And is Congress going to do anything about this? I mean we’re seeing the influence right now with the healthcare bill, for example, even among people in your own caucus and the Democratic Party, the influence of big money, from pharma to the insurance industry, and certainly in the financial services area, the power of big money to prevent these discussions in Congress, and obviously you know the hand in glove relationship between big banks and the big corporations that own the big media in the United States. Is anything going to break through here? There’s a real populist rage building and frankly I think it’s transpartisan.
Alan Grayson: I think we’re breaking through. I mean, I took a bill that was introduced 26 years ago by Ron Paul, the Republican from Texas, to audit the Federal Reserve independently. The Federal Reserve has never had an independent audit in the 96 years of its existence, never. Not even once. So he took that bill, introduced 26 years ago, it lay there dead for a quarter of a century, even when the Republicans were in charge and he was in charge, he was never able to get the leadership to even give it a hearing, much less pass that bill and get it out of the house.
I picked up that bill, I literally walked around on the floor of the house for weeks, explained that bill to my fellow Democrats, got over 100 of them to sign up for it. Now in the house with 435 members we’ve got over 300 co sponsors. Not just people who are going to vote for it, but 300 co sponsors to this bill to shine some light on the Federal Reserve's dark secrets and for the first time in 26 years, last week we had a hearing.
Thom Hartmann: That’s great. That is great news and a marvelous beginning. Congressman Alan Grayson, I wish you were my congressman. The people of the 8th district in Florida, the Orlando area I believe it is, are very, very fortunate to have you. GraysonForCongress.com, get over there and check it out. Congressman Alan Grayson, thank you for being with us today.
Alan Grayson: Thank you very much and I’ll keep listening to you.
Thom Hartmann: Thank you sir. Keep up the great work. Great talking with you.
Transcribed by Suzanne Roberts, Portland Psychology Clinic.