New Jewish Faces on Capitol Hill in 2013

PM Netanyahu Meets with Senator Daniel Inouye— by David A. Harris

Now that the 113th Congress has been sworn-in, we thought you would be interested in learning a little bit about the newest members from our community who are bringing their Jewish values to Capitol Hill.

Photo: Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu presents Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) with a replica of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Jerusalem
(September 2, 2012). Photo: Moshe Milner, GPO

More after the jump.

  • Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz was appointed to the U.S. Senate following the passing of Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) — a pro-Israel giant and true friend of the American Jewish community. Notably, Senator Schatz was sworn into the Senate with a Tanakh, and his entrance into the Senate brings the total of Jewish partisan Democrats to 10 — the number required for a minyan. (Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont, an eleventh Jewish senator who caucuses with the Democrats, is an Independent.)
  • Representative Lois Frankel (D-FL) is a former Mayor of West Palm Beach, Florida and she successfully fought a tough campaign against a formidable opponent. Frankel is very familiar with the issues that concern her constituents, including protecting the social safety net and support for Israel.
  • Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL), who was defeated following his first term in 2010, is beginning the second chapter of his congressional career in the 113th Congress. Grayson is an outspoken advocate for many of the issues of concern to American Jews, and his voice will be important in rallying the Democratic caucus.
  • Representative Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) was a prominent voice in both the California Assembly and Senate, and believes in so many of the policies supported by the clear majority of our community.
  • Representative Brad Schneider (D-IL) is a distinguished businessman and Jewish leader from Chicago who ousted incumbent Representative Robert Dold (R-IL). Schneider is an outspoken Israel supporter and is committed to protecting America’s middle class.

Former Rep. Alan Grayson on Florida Gov. Rick Scott

CENK UYGUR: Joining me now is former Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson to answer some of those questions. That conflict of interest blows me away. He’s got a company making millions of dollars from drug tests and he’s pushing the drug tests all over Florida? I mean, should they investigate that? What should they do about that?

ALAN GRAYSON: Well, look, he spent $70 million to buy the office of governor in Florida. He wants a return on his money. He promised us that he would run state government like a business. What we didn’t realize is he was going to run it like HIS business, like it’s all his. And that’s exactly what he has been doing. It’s not only what you said. In addition to that, he wants to cut all state funding for health care clinics. There are 4 million people in Florida who can’t afford to see a doctor when they’re sick. They have to go to health care clinics. He’s going to shut them all down so that they will be forced to go to Rick Scott’s clinics.

Transcript continues after the jump.
CENK: I mean, it’s beyond absurd. So, again, you know, let me turn to the prescription problem because that’s a whole, another thing. Why does he not want to track these prescription drugs?

AG: Well you said it. Florida has nine times as much as the rest of the country combined. I think eight times as much is Rush Limbaugh alone. It’s exactly what you said. I don’t think he wants to take the heat from Rush Limbaugh.

CENK: You think it’s just that simple? On Rush Limbaugh alone, he’s like, let’s leave these guys alone.

AG: Well look, all the right-wing leaders have catered to Rush Limbaugh for years and years. He says jump and they say how high. You’re seeing that now with the governor of Florida.

CENK: Let’s go back to the election for a second. There’s a new poll out that says if the elections were held today, Rick Scott would actually lose by 19 points. That’s a huge swing. So obviously the people of Florida, once that he got into power, and it didn’t take long, we’re like, whoa, that is not what we expected. So what did they expect and what did they get?

AG: Listen, this is somebody who made his fortune by cheating sick people. And the only reason why he got in in the first place is because Democrats in Florida, like Democrats all across the country, simply didn’t vote in 2010. And it’s like Ed Koch said in his last election. He said, “The voters have spoken, and now they will be punished for it.” And that’s exactly what you are seeing in Florida. We’re being punished for it. This is someone unfit to be governor; this is someone who is unfit for any job. My thinking was that he would get elected, he’d assume office and then he’d pardon himself and quit, but unfortunately he’s doing far worse than that. He’s using the state of Florida to stuff money in his own pocket, because he thinks the real problems facing Florida today, with 4 million people without health insurance, with 13% unemployment, the real problem in Florida is that Rick Scott doesn’t have enough money, and he’s dead set on doing something to correct that problem.

CENK: So final question for you. What can the people of Florida do about this? Now that they realize the scam he ran on them and you’ve seen they don’t like him anymore, and they’re like, whoa, I didn’t know he would funnel all this business to his own companies, now run by his wife, what can they do about it?

AG: Look, it’s a fundamental problem. The government is being run by a corrupt clique called the Republican Party of Florida. The last person in charge of the Republican Party of Florida was led away in chains and has been indicted. It’s as if the state has been taken over by the mafia, that’s how bad the Republican Party of Florida is. Unfortunately the governor himself appoints five of the nine members of the Florida’s Ethics Commission. So you can be sure that all those republicans are going to do nothing about this. The only recourse we may have in the end is to storm the Bastille.

CENK: What if he says, hey you know what? Look, I’m going to make more money; this money is going to get funneled to my companies because I’m going to drug test everybody? I’m going to drug test you and your dog and all that money is going to get funneled to me. What are you going to do about it? What can we do about it?

AG: I’m just glad that Rick Scott’s company doesn’t do proctological examinations, because then we would all have to bend over and cough.

CENK: Congressman Grayson, you are definitely clear on the topic. We appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.