REV. AL SHARPTON: Joining me now is former Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson, now running again for office in Florida's 9th district. Congressman, thanks for joining me.
ALAN GRAYSON: Thank you.
SHARPTON: As always, Florida will be close this year. Could the Medicare issue make the difference?
GRAYSON: Absolutely. You know, we do have a few senior citizens in Florida; you may have heard that. And, in fact, seniors are learning more and more about exactly how bad the [Republican] Ryan Plan is going to be for them. I think Ryan also has a sense of humor [referring to Ryan complimenting Mitt Romney for Romney’s sense of humor]. His plan is a joke, and the joke is on all of us. I think that all of us hope one day that if we're not already getting Medicare, we will be. And we don't want to have to pay an extra $6,500 [under the Ryan Plan] in order to have it. But the [more] fundamental problem with his plan is that right now, seniors get care, and what [Republicans] want to do is substitute the care with a check that they know is not going to be enough for the care.
GRAYSON: It's some kind of scheme, some kind of game that they're playing on senior citizens. And it's a game of life and death. If they don't get the care they need, then seniors are going to die.
SHARPTON: Congressman, if a senior is watching right now, what do they need to understand that the Romney/Ryan plan actually says to them? What is it really proposing?
GRAYSON: First they need to understand that as soon as Mitt Romney does what he's promised to do in his first week in office, which is to get rid of Obamacare, that immediately means an extra $600 that they have to pay for their drugs every single year. Every year. That's what that means right off the bat. Then beyond that, even without any change in the law, simply allowing what they want in their budget to go into effect will mean thousands and thousands of dollars more that seniors will have to pay.
And it's not just seniors. You know, look, I'm in my 50s. One day, I'll be on this plan myself, and I would be paying more. So will people in their 40s, people in their 30s. There's no end to it. And for what? For what purpose? So that Mitt Romney can have a tax cut? You know, Mitt Romney wants millionaires in America to have a tax cut because Mitt Romney wants a tax cut. That's what it comes down to. And he and his selfish friends are going to gut government and gut the economy for the sake of that. Now, we have a President who believes in good government, and we have a candidate who believes in no government. America can figure out which one is better for America.
SHARPTON: Now, Congressman, the President was in Jacksonville, Florida, today. Nationwide seniors are 10 percent of the population. But in Florida, they're 31 percent of the population. As you campaign around your district in Florida, are people talking about this? Are seniors talking about the difference between the Romney/Ryan plan and what the President is talking about?
GRAYSON: Yes. You've given the correct numbers on the proportions, but because seniors vote in higher numbers than younger people do -- and that will be true this year, like it is true every year -- you might see seniors making up as much as half of the electorate in Florida this year. And seniors are beginning to realize that Romney is basically conducting a shell game.
The interesting thing is when the President points out all these elements, deficiencies in what Romney's proposing for the country, Romney doesn't even take a stab at defending the Ryan Plan. He doesn't even try to do it, even though he's endorsed it in the past. [Romney] can't explain why it's right, after the President explains why it's wrong. That means it's wrong.
SHARPTON: Now, when you look at the polling, Commonwealth Fund polled it, and people were reporting excellent coverage in the past year. Thirty-seven percent seniors on Medicare. Twenty-five percent employer-based health care. So, I mean, people know the difference and people know what's effective for them.
GRAYSON: Yes. Right now, one-third of the country receives its health coverage from the government. One-half of the country receives its health coverage from the private sector, from private insurance. And one-sixth of the country doesn't get any health coverage at all. That's 50 million Americans. And when have you ever heard Romney or any other Republican explain what they're going to do to give coverage to those 50 million Americans who can't see a doctor when they're sick? Now, I'll tell you, those 50 million Americans, they're sick and tired of being sick and tired. And they're disgusted with the Republicans, because the Republicans will never even take a stab at solving the problems in their lives.
SHARPTON: Congressman Grayson, thank you so much for your time.
GRAYSON: Thank you, too.
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