A quick note: I am not a political scientist. I am not a speechwriter. I have probably cast more votes for “Dancing With The Stars” than I have in public elections.
But my profession is to write in plain-spoken language for the people of Western Pennsylvania (and some of you folks who get KDKA in Ohio and West Virginia. What up!). And I believe any ol’ fool could write the stump speech for Democratic Congressional challengers — mostly because the Republicans just did it for them.
Good evening. Good evening to you. Thank you so much for being here tonight.
I am so grateful to see your support. It means a lot to me personally that all of you would come out tonight, and that many of you are volunteering to help. Some of you may have been working to support Democratic candidates for years. And some of you may be knocking on doors for the first time. Either way, I’m glad you’re here.
I’m sure every person in this crowd is a hard-worker. You work hard because you have a passion what you do. Or you work hard because you’re providing for your family. You put in the time, day after day.
And I’m sure you expect the same out of us. Heck, we’ve been working hard on the campaign trail these last few weeks. I’ll admit I’ve pulled a couple all-nighters with my team. They’re all working hard too.
But folks, I’ve got some bad news tonight.
The Republicans in Congress have stopped working for you. They have stopped working for their constituents. They have stopped listening to your concerns. They have stopped caring about you.
That was never more clear than it was late last year — when the Republicans rammed through their tax bill to make it the law of the land.
Actually, someone said it was less a tax bill and more of a ransom. I would have to agree.
That bill was not written by the people, for the people. It was written by the lobbyists, for the corporations and billionaires.
The gap between the richest and the poorest in our country is the most extreme it has been since the Great Depression. The rich are now wealthier and I would say more powerful than ever before. And they are using that power to bend the American financial system to suit them.
You know, while the the Republicans were writing their tax bill someone asked the Senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham… they asked him: what happens if you don’t pass your tax bill?
Now, he could have said a lot of things. He could have said why he believed in the bill — what he thought it would do for the country.
But instead, he did something interesting. He told the truth.
He said if we don’t pass the tax bill, the financial contributions will stop.
That’s what he said.
He said, if we don’t pass this thing, our donors will cut us off.
And he wasn’t the only one.
There’s a Congressman from New York, Chris Collins. He was asked the same question, about the tax bill.
You know what he said?
And this is a direct quote. He said, “My donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again.'”
“Get it done, or don’t ever call me again.”
If that’s not Washington politics at its worse, I don’t know what is.
Folks, I didn’t write that awful tax bill. You didn’t write it. The Republicans and the corporate lobbyists did. And guess what? You were not their priority.
You all work hard. You all play by the rules. But for the big donors, they want to change the rules so that they get all the benefits.
When they drew up the tax bill, the Republicans told teachers: ‘you know how you get to deduct the cost of school supplies you buy for your students?’ They said: ‘that’s gone.’ The Republicans told grad students, ‘you know how you can get a waiver on your tuition while you pursue your education?’ They said: ‘that’s gone.’ The Republicans told sick people, ‘you know how you can get a tax break on the medical expenses you pay out of pocket?’ They said: ‘that’s gone too.’
Almost hard to believe.
(Via FiveThirtyEight. Note the November average was 32% approval. It got worse in December.)
It took hundreds and thousands of phone calls from people like you — putting the pressure to make sure those tax deductions stayed in place. It took begging and pleading for the Republicans to protect the people that need it most.
But in fact, the worst parts of the tax bill never changed — the tax cuts for corporations were permanent. But tax cuts for folks like you and me: temporary. Our tax cuts have an expiration date. The one for big business… are set in stone.
People kept telling Washington over and over: this is not what we want from this bill.
Stop. This. Bill.
You know, as the Republicans were gearing up to pass it, only 26 percent of Americans actually approved of it. Only 26 percent! That means 74 percent of people — three out of every four people — said: it’s not for me. Not a fan.
Imagine that. Folks, this was the most unpopular tax bill in decades. You all recognized it. You saw through the ruse. You knew full well it was designed for the wealthy. They’re the ones that wrote it, and they’re the ones that get to reap the rewards.
You guys got what was happening. Your neighbors got what was happening. It was all a great, big con.
But the Republicans pushed it through anyway. They didn’t care.
And you know it was unpopular because they snuck it past everyone in the dead of night. You know when the Senate made their two big votes on the tax bill? It was while you were sleeping.
The first one was just before 2 a.m. on a Saturday. The second one? At 12:45 a.m., the week before Christmas.
I guess they needed a last-minute stocking stuffer to give to their donors.
And that first time they passed it, the Republicans scribbled their tack-ons and changes in the margins of the pages. Scribbled ’em in! That’s not how you pass a major law. That’s how a college kid finishes a paper right before it’s due.
Their priorities are different from your priorities, from our priorities.
Things could be so much different.
We could be using that money to fight the opioid epidemic, take on the addiction that’s killing our neighbors one after the other…the epidemic that’s getting worse before it gets better.
But instead, every billionaire is getting a couple million more added to their bank account.
We could be fixing our roads and our bridges. We could be making sure that American infrastructure is once again the best in the world.
But instead, that money is going as an extra tax break for wealthy real-estate investors. They snuck that in at the last minute.
We could be investing in our kids, especially kids who get sick and need help with their insurance. Innocent kids who are fighting in their hospital beds, just trying to get better.
But the Republicans couldn’t be bothered to come up with the funding for kids’ health insurance. They had more important things to do, like making sure the folks on Wall Street got an extra “zero” added onto their net worth.
Because it’s all about the money.
That’s what this election comes down to, folks. It all starts and ends with money. If you can afford to make millions of dollars in donations, you can have a tax system that’s tailored to your every need.
But if you’re a sick kid, a teacher, a construction worker, someone with a family member fighting addiction, the Republicans say, you’re outta luck.
Now I ask you, is that the kind of country you want?
Is that the kind of representative you want?
Is that what you want from your Congress?
Then let’s make a change. Let’s say to the Republicans in D.C., your time is up. You had your chance.
It’s time for us to start working hard for everyone.
It’s time we stop bowing to the rich, and start telling them to pay their fair share.
It’s time for a new voice in Washington.
It’s time to build an America for the many, not the few.
Thank you very much!