Clyburn: I Don’t Know Anybody Who Will Say They’d Rather Pay Less for Gas and Allow You to Take Away Voting Rights

Melanie Arter | October 20, 2022 | 1:10pm EDT
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House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) speaks during the unveilling ceremony of the Joseph H. Rainey Room in the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 3, 2022. - Rainey was the first elected Black member of the House of Representatives who served from 1870 to 1879. (Photo by GREG NASH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) speaks during the unveilling ceremony of the Joseph H. Rainey Room in the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 3, 2022. (Photo by GREG NASH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

( – Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) on Wednesday tried to draw a correlation between Americans paying less at the pump and having their voting rights taken away.

“What do you say to people who say, boy, Washington can talk about all these big programs and everything else, but I'm worried about the cost of food. I'm seeing the cost of eggs shoot up, chicken, gasoline, you know, coming now with the winter, heating. These are all concerns that hit very directly to people who may say, you know, what's going on in D.C., doesn't think of us,” MSNBC’s Jose Diaz-Balart asked.

“Well, let me make it very clear, all of us are concerned about these rising costs, and all of us knew this would be the case when we put in place this recovery program. Any time you put more money into the economy, prices tend to rise, and we do know that price gouging takes place and that's what Senator Warnock is concerned about down in Georgia,” Clyburn said.

“We knew the moment we went to aid the Ukrainians, the Russians would do what they could possibly do to undercut this administration, so they cut this deal with OPEC nations to reduce the production of oil so as to drive the price of gasoline up,” he said.

“We are not going to allow these kinds of intimidations - be it by big, corporations who are raising prices when they should not be or foreign countries who are doing untoward things in retaliation for our assistance, our allies,” the congressman said.

“That's not going to trump our -- and that's an intended pun there – our concern for people getting back on their feet in this country, getting more cash in people's hands, getting people back to work, fixing our infrastructure. When we passed the Inflation Reduction Act, we took into account that we were going to do what was necessary to cap the cost of medicine,” he said.

“That's what we did, allowing Medicare to negotiate for drug prices. We already seen that the price of the medicine going down 30%. That was to take into account the things that we knew would happen in the market if we did not do something,” Clyburn said.

“We kept insulin for seniors at 35 dollars per month, and we project to do the same -- the co-payment at $2,000 a year. So that's exactly why we are doing what we're doing, because we knew we had to combat inflation, and I don't know of anybody who will say I would rather pay $10 or even 10 cents or even 20 cents less per gallon and allow you to take my rights away, my voting rights away and these other things that we know the other party is doing to suppress votes. That's a fool's choice that we will not make,” he said.

DIAZ-BALART: But why ask people to make that choice? In other words, does economic policy necessarily equate what you're talking about? 

CLYBURN: Economic policy is always a concern. Look, I came out of a household that had difficulty with voting rights, and I don’t believe my parents will ever take a choice, saying, if you can take away my voting rights, just give me 10 cents a gallon less to pay for gas and you can have my voting rights. 

No. People are voting on more than whether or not you run up the cost of gasoline. They're voting on whether or not we're going to have lower costs for medicine, which they're getting from this administration. 

They're voting on whether or not we have voting rights, which they're getting from this administration, whether or not we fix our crumbling infrastructure, which we are getting, whether or not we do the things that are necessary to get people back to work, and that's what we're getting. 

Unemployment rate at historic lows because people are going back to work. I don't know anybody who would rather stay home from work so long as they can pay 10 cents a gallon less for gasoline. That's not a choice that we're going to offer the American people. 

When asked what Clyburn sees as President Biden’s biggest successes and whether Biden has had any failures, the congressman said, “Well, we all sometimes do things that may not have the expectations that we would like, but this president has restored the American's confidence in this democracy. He came into office at a time when covid-19 was running rampant throughout the country. 

"People were dying. Over a million people dying. He arrested all of that. He put cash in people's pockets. He put children back in school, unshuttered businesses, and we are now tackling our infrastructure, the largest infrastructure plan since Eisenhower's interstate highway we have now put in place," the congressman said.

"Broadband in every home, schools getting fixed up for climate change, and we are doing the things that are necessary to reduce costs for medicine, other things that people need. People are not going to be making choices now whether to take half a pill or half a dose of their medicine so as to buy groceries. We are taking all that into account, and this has been a great success of this president," he said.

"I call this the great recovery as opposed to the Great society. Lyndon Johnson gave us a Great Society program, and Joe Biden is giving us a great recovery. The largest infrastructure since Eisenhower. The largest Progressive program since Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. This is nothing to sneeze at, and the American people recognize that, and I resent people who feel that we would much rather not have jobs and education so long as we can pay ten cents less for a gallon of gasoline," Clyburn said.

When asked whether he would support Biden if the president ran again, the congressman said, “I suspect I will. I don't see why I would not. You know, I know that everybody is concerned. I will wait until the president let us know what he’s going to do after we have these midterm elections. My job right tomorrow. I'm going to Ohio, Iowa on Sunday, going to Indiana on Monday. We are trying to win this election, and I'm not concerned about 2024 until we get beyond November 8th, 2022.”

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