I interviewed Alan Grayson on my radio show on March 18th. The link to the podcast is here.
This segment of the transcript of the interview covers our discussion of Obamacare and getting more progressives in office.
(image by Wikipedia)
R.K.: And welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show WNJC 1360 AM out of Washington Township reaching Metro Philly and South Jersey. Also available on iTunes under my name, Rob Kall, K-A-L-L and at opednews.com/podcasts.
My guest tonight is Congressman Alan Grayson. He represents Florida's Ninth District. He has been singled out as an enemy by Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and George Will, something I am sure he's proud of and he's received more votes for Progressive Hero from Democracy for America than any other candidate in the country. Welcome to the show, it's good to have you back.
R.K.: Two more questions. One is, your opponent in this year's election says he is looking forward to debating you on Obamacare. How do you measure how your constituents have responded? Have they signed up? Are stats available by district? How many people or what percentage of people in your district would you expect could benefit from Obamacare?
A.G.: Well there is a loud mouth who keeps referring to himself as my opponent, according to the polling that we've seen, he's not even going to get the republican nomination and it's a foregone conclusion, so I don't pay much attention to people who just sort of whine without being able to line up any votes and if I sound a little harsh it's because the guy has been a jerk and I think I am allowed to say that. He's been a jerk. He has gone out of his way to insult me, my ties, my boots, my hair, I mean he seems to think that my boots are a major issue in this race but it doesn't matter because he's not going to be the republican nominee.
R.K.: Well I would hope that you're going to be doing some good butt-kicking with those boots so-
A.G.: Well they, you know, these boots are made for walking and other things. But to get back to your original question because time is limited, look, it's not even a close question in my district. In Florida in general, twenty percent of the population has no health coverage, that's the third highest percentage in the country.
My district is forty percent Latino. Latinos in Florida have forty percent no health coverage, much higher than the Anglo and the African American population. So people in my district are desperate. Desperate for health coverage. And we do have some district related statistics but the bottom line is that people are now already seeing that young men and women up to the age of twenty six can be covered under their parent's policies, that's seven million around the country at this point.
They're seeing already that the doughnut hole has been very close to eliminated for senior citizens and they don't have to choose between paying for their drugs and paying for their rent. They don't have to choose between those two things any longer. What they're seeing in addition to that is the fact that there is now an option to buy your insurance individually that didn't exist before and if people don't want it, that's fine, that's the way things work, you know? If there's a new brand of cola drinks on the shelves you don't have to buy it, it's up to you.
But right now there is a sophisticated and reasonably priced individual market that didn't exist before and the most important accomplishment so far, that people have seen, is the fact that now there's thirty five million people in this country who get insurance who couldn't get it before because they had a pre-existing condition and that's a huge breakthrough.
It used to be that the insurance companies would reject policy coverage for anybody who actually might be sick. So what good is the insurance then, right? Insurance is only good if you need it and they would charge as much as they could and they would give as little in return as possible in terms of care and they called the difference profit. Well now we've tamed that strange system where you had a conflict of interest with your insurance company and thanks to Obamacare right now, people who actually need coverage could actually get coverage and that's a very important thing.
Now you know if you look at the numbers you'll see that the percentage of uninsured has dropped substantially in the past year and only a year ago was over eighteen percent of all adults on the United States, now it's fifteen percent. And that's progress, that means that we're saving thousands of lives because people have coverage that they couldn't afford or just didn't have before, couldn't get before. That's just as true in my district as any place else in the country except in my district it's it stands out because we have so] many people who are uninsured.
R.K.: That's awesome. Last question, Adolph Reed wrote in a March issue of Harpers, an article, Nothing left; The Long, Slow Surrender of American Liberals, Bill Moyers had him on his show about three weeks ago, I had him on my show about two weeks ago, how do we get more people elected to Congress who are as progressive as you are? Or how can we push already elected representatives to the left?
A.G.: Well listen, you know we're trying and we're trying very vigorously. In the last election cycle, after I had been defeated by eighteen points in 2010, and was flat on my back, politically, I not only raised four hundred thousand dollars for other candidates who were progressive candidates to the party in the last election cycle but then I came back with a twenty five point victory, the biggest turn around, according to the US House Historian in history.
So when we work together and help each other we can get more things done. Politics is a team sport and we have to remember that. Tomorrow, in Illinois Luis Gutierrez, the champion of undocumented who sacrificed his political career by removing himself as the number three democrat on the Financial Services Committee, the money committee, and instead moving over to the Judiciary Committee so he could lead the effort toward immigration reform. He is on the ballot, he's got a primary opponent.
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