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by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

November 27, 2012 - 11:50 am

The congressman who infamously said during the ObamaCare debate that Republicans want poor people to “die quickly” is coming back to the House in January, and got kicked out a Wal-Mart on Thanksgiving for trying to unionize workers.

Grayson was ousted from office in the 2010 midterm elections by Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.). Due to redistricting this year, though, the liberal firebrand was able to run against personal-injury lawyer and conservative talk-show host Todd Long — and defeated him 63 percent to 37 percent.

He was one of six Democrats who lost their House seats in 2010 to come back and win seats in redrawn redistricts.

Grayson, however, touted his win as the “biggest comeback in the history of the US House of Representatives” in an email to supporters.

Other gems over the years from Grayson: “I have trouble listening to what [Dick Cheney] says sometimes, because of the blood that drips from his teeth while talking.”

And: “Scientists have studied for years this difficult question of why some people have a conscience and some people don’t: Some people are called Democrats, and some people are called Republicans.”

Instead of spending Thanksgiving with his wife and five children, Grayson headed to a Wal-Mart store (which, like many other stores starting Black Friday early, opened Thursday night) to hand out bags containing a turkey sandwich, chips and “a letter explaining what their rights are to organize.”

The cops were called, but Grayson was escorted out of the store by Wal-Mart security staff, he told CNN today. A few days ago in a Huffington Post column lauding his actions, though, he said the cops kicked him out.

“The important thing is we showed workers what their rights are. Wal-Mart tries to keep them in the dark and we showed that they’re not alone. That people care that we want the working poor to have a better life in America,” he said on CNN. “All the people who have those jobs suffer from the fact that we have 8 percent unemployment. We all suffer from the fact that Wal-Mart underpays its employees. The average associate at Wal-Mart makes barely $1,200 a month. That’s $1,200 a month, could you live on $1,200 a month? I couldn’t.”

Grayson claimed Wal-Mart employees cost taxpayers more than $1,000 each in Medicaid and food stamps. “The minimum wage needs to be higher. And Wal-Mart and other employees need to pick up the tab on insurance and coverage for their employees and stop handing that tab off to the taxpayers,” he said.

Wal-Mart covers 1.1 million employees and dependents, and announced last month a program allowing employees to get heart, spine and transplant surgeries at six of the nation’s most prestigious hospitals at no cost.

Still, Grayson is trying to rile up workers to unionize.

“But the Wal-Mart employees in general are afraid. They’re being intimidated. They’re being told in many cases if you even talk about union you’ll be fired,” he said.

Wal-Mart reported better sales than last year despite Black Friday protests, and said even more employees showed up for their shifts than on the same day last year.

“The protests aren’t meant to stop people from shopping. The protests are meant to inform workers of their rights to organize under the law and under the constitution and to make sure that they understand that they’re not alone, and they will be protected if they exercise their rights,” Grayson said. “It’s not meant to raise prices, not meant to interfere with shopping. It’s meant to organize people who desperately need to be organized to make a better life for themselves.”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.
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