Cenk Uygur had better not stay on vacation for too much longer or he might find his job in jeopardy from the Rev. Al Sharpton who's been filling in for him for the last week or so. Sharpton has shown himself to be more than willing to go head to head with these right-wing conservative House members over the last week and this Monday's interview with Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) and self proclaimed astroturf "tea party" member was no exception.
I wish more people would give these people the same treatment every time they came on the air and maybe they'd decide doing television interviews wasn't such a good idea any more, but I don't have any hope of that happening any time soon.
Sharpton started out with hitting him for his uber-patriotic nonsense of claiming to "love America" and asking him if he also loved actual Americans like seniors on Social Security and working people who need Medicaid. Sharpton summed that up nicely when he said to Graves "I appreciate you loving America, but do you love Americans that have to survive in America?"
Graves comeback to that was to say that Sharpton had probably never been to a tea party rally, but a lot of them are on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and pretended that their policies are actually going to preserve our social safety nets rather than destroy them and that their new slogan of “cut, cap and balance” was just common sense that most Americans should agree with.
Sharpton countered Graves by showing him some of what's posted on his own web site where he says no way in hell should the Republicans be compromising with President Obama on anything.
You know, when we hear the word “compromise” on Capitol Hill, that's what got us into this mess over the last several decades, and it's been Republican and Democrat. This is no time to compromise.
After Graves responded that Republicans should not be compromising, Sharpton asked him why he thought most seniors in the “tea party” who are on Social Security would object to things like taking away the tax breaks for those with corporate jets.
Graves tried to change the subject to President Obama, which Sharpton stopped him cold on and brought the conversation right back to him defending tax cuts for the rich.
Graves countered by saying he was one of the few Republicans who voted against corporate loopholes that Sharpton was addressing and Sharpton asked him if he really was against those things, why doesn't he ask his party to agree to include them in the debt ceiling talks going on right now.
Graves retreated to asking Sharpton if he'd be in support of Republicans and their ridiculous balanced budget amendment and Sharpton put that right back in his face with former Reagan advisor Bruce Bartlett's statement on the subject, and I'll add, they left the last line out in the interview but I'm going to include it here.
In short, this is quite possibly the stupidest constitutional amendment I think I have ever seen. It looks like it was drafted by a couple of interns on the back of a napkin. Every senator cosponsoring this POS should be ashamed of themselves.
Graves tried to turn it around to President Obama again saying “so Barack Obama is following the advice of the Reagan administration now? Is that what you're telling me?”
Sharpton again didn't let him get away with trying to deflect the conversation away from himself and onto the Obama administration, and told him no, this is what Al Sharpton is asking you. After that Graves was forced to admit that yes, he supports the amendment.
Sharpton wrapped it up with driving home the fact that Graves claims he's for cutting corporate welfare, but doesn't support it being part of these debt ceiling negotiations and pinned him down on his doublespeak. In the end all he could resort to is to claim that going after those loopholes really isn't going to make a dent in the budget, so naturally they should just be ignored right now.
Sharpton then showed him a graph of just how much money in the budget would be saved if the Bush tax cuts were allowed to expire and here's how the segment wound up.
SHARPTON: The bigger issue is, well I can show you (crosstalk) if you let the Buch tax cuts expire now, you have a huge amount of money to work with. But again, it's not what you say, and there's the graph right there, $424 billion you cut into if you let the tax cuts just expire.
But Congressman, what I'm saying is, is I'm a preacher.
GRAVES: You're a preacher.
SHARPTON: I know the difference between talking the talk, walking the walk. You claim you voted for it, but you don't want to walk with it. Because you have an opportunity right now, on national T.V. to say to your party and to your Speaker, put it on the table! I voted against it. That's what I'm telling everybody.
GRAVES: I want on the table and what I've made clear is, cut the deficit now, cap the spending and balance the budget. That's the answer to the deficit crisis and the debt crisis we have in this nation. And if we're to preserve America and our future, it's going to take big, bold proposals. That is big. Compromise and deals, that is not big. (crosstalk)
SHARPTON: And also we cannot ever talk about dealing with the rich and the corporate jets, but grandma and working people, you, are, expendable.
GRAVES: As long as you are on the air, there will be a lot of talk about it.
SHARPTON: Thank you for your time this evening.
GRAVES: Thank you Al.
I don't think we're going to see Graves come on the air with Sharpton any time again soon and I'll just echo his words, thank you Al.