Hillary’s Faux Populism is No Match For Bernie Sanders
One of the biggest news stories of the past week is that Bernie Sanders, the independent Senator from Vermont, has announced that he is going to run for President as a Democrat, effectively challenging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Now what this means is that finally in this entire clown-car of Presidential candidates that we have seen from Rubio, Rand Paul, Hillary Clinton, and Ted Cruz, we finally have a candidate out there who actually cares about the American people.
Bernie Sanders has been out there for many, many years talking about issues that affect each and every one of us. He talks about income inequality, he talks about pay inequality, he talks about the right to marriage: everything that is important—not for millionaires and billionaires—but for the middle class, for the average working American.
And this is a huge step forward for America. I really think that Bernie Sanders’ candidacy, whether or not he succeeds in getting the nomination, [is significant in that] he still could pull the other candidates like Hillary Clinton a little bit further to the left.
And if you have been paying attention to some of the pundits out there, you noticed that Hillary Clinton is starting to sound a little bit like more like a populist. She is trying to co-op the Elizabeth Warren message, or the Bernie Sanders message, that we have to do something about these Wall Street banks that are screwing over consumers and taking all their monies, … and doing all of these illegal schemes.
But when you drill past her talking points, you can see the money behind Hillary Clinton. When she ran for Senate, her top donor was Wall Street, plain and simple. That is where her money came from. That is where her money is going to come from in this campaign.
There is no reason that we should believe her new populist message because it is a new populist message. This is not the Hillary Clinton that we saw four years ago; this is not the Hillary Clinton that we saw eight years ago. This is a brand new and improved, focused, tried Hillary Clinton.
It’s along the lines of what we saw with President Obama when he came out on the campaign trail in 2008. All these big messages about hope and change, reigning in corporate greed, ruling for the people, and then he gets into office: one of the first things he does is re-extend the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. He backed down from every fight the Republicans brought to him, and here we are six years later, in virtually the same position that we were when he was campaigning.
Obviously some things in many regards have gotten better. We did get the Affordable Care Act; it didn’t quite go far enough, again because he backed down from the Republican challengers but it’s a good start. So Obama has done a few really good things but overall it was all talk.
And that’s what we would get from Hillay Clinton. But that is not what we would get from a Bernie Sanders because these are not talking points for somebody like Bernie Sanders. He’s been out there saying these same things for decades. He means it. He understands it. He lives it. He knows it. Bernie Sanders is the real deal. And that’s why his candidacy is so important.
Can Bernie Sanders Beat Hillary Clinton? Bernie Sanders can win: deal with it!
Wall Street Democrats are fighting desperately: it’s all about Hillary; it’s a foregone conclusion that it’s about Hillary; they have to make Bernie Sanders go away. And one way they’re doing this is to have corporate media ignore Bernie Sanders.
Bernie is getting a little bit of exposure. He’s done rounds on the Sunday shows; he’s gone on Tom Hartmann’s Show; Ed Shultz’s Show; but aside from that, they [the corporate-owned media] are really trying to exclude him from the actual conversation when they have these conversations about presidential candidates at this point because the Democratic Party as a whole, which is mostly run by the Corporate Democrats, have already decided that they are going to anoint Hillary Clinton.
But when Bernie Sanders came out and raised $3 million in his first four days, most of that from individual contributions of less than $250, that’s when people started paying attention and realizing this guy has a real shot; that he is not just this crazy grandpa type who comes out and says these things, with which everyone agrees, but knows that he doesn’t have a chance. However, that $3 million that Bernie raised over a few days is a game changer: it demonstrated that he indeed has the potential to raise money—although not from corporations—and be a serious player!
One of the things that a lot of people like to say is, “well the best thing that we can hope for is that he will bring the populist message to the conversation and force Hillary to go a little bit further to the left.” And we’ve have been seeing recently that Hillary Clinton is trying to co-op that populist message.
But here’s the thing: we’ve had two election cycles where we had a Democratic candidate talk like a populist and convince us that he was going to go in there and raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires to help pay the deficit, to rebuild the infrastructure, to propose a single-payer healthcare plan, and change the way Washington operates, but then propose, endorse, or approve a corporate agenda instead of his promised populist agenda, like the following:
Extension of Bush tax cuts for the rich
Corporate tax rate reductions
Estate tax reductions
Increasing the retirement age
Increasing the retirement age for Medicare
Unfair trade agreements
Get-out-of-jail free cards for all banksters
Endless wars in the Middle East
SOPA and PIPA to limit free speech on the internet
the Patriot Act
Other corporate and 1% goodies
Remember? Hint: his name begins with an O and ends in an A.
So those corporate political strategists who feel that all Hillary needs to do is merely tinker and change her message, as Obama did, to dupe voters into supporting her are really just kidding themselves. Hillary is who she is, and she doesn’t make any apologies for it. So now Hillary trying to say one thing and doing another won’t work this time. Why?
Because now we can compare the records of the two: Bernie Sanders has over twenty years of voting records that we can look at and see that when he says something about fighting for the middle class, he has a voting record to back it up. But Hillary does not! And that makes all the difference this time.
The problem with the Democratic Party is that the DCCC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has done everything it can to hold back the progressive message, and has only grudgingly allowed any of the progressive messages to go forward. But now it has witnessed Bernie Sanders campaign raise over its first few days in the race $3 million dollars in total from 75,000 supporters, each giving on average $43. And this kind of grass-roots political support when Bernie Sanders is not even on the political radar map for most Democrats and Americans!
Consequently, it becomes important for social media and for the very few people left in the progressive corporate media, like Ed Schultz for example, to get the message out there that Bernie Sanders is not a guy that we want out there only to gel up the progressive message, but, rather, that this is a guy who can win the Democratic primary and the general Presidential election.
Recall what Bernie Sanders has been saying: he can save social security; he can save the environment; he can do something about Wall Street; he can do something about mom and pop pension programs; he can get the bankers under control; he can do something about this crazy imperialistic notion that we have with our military now and pull back on that. These are issues that he talks about all the time.
Bernie Sanders is not hiding anything. He has not been wishy washy on things, like others (whom will not be mentioned): “oh, I don’t know where I stand on TPP: I’m for it today; I’m against it tomorrow.” Or with the Keystone XL Pipeline: “no, it’s good; no, it’s bad.” He has not been wishy washy; he has not flip-flopped; he does not change his opinion based on the attitude of the day. What he says, he means. He is authentic and credible.
Clinton, on the other side, when she was Secretary of State, many of her staffers ended up going to work for TransCanada as lobbyists to get the Keystone XL approved by the State Department that Hillary Clinton was the leader of! Unfortunately people don’t understand that. Unfortunately people do not know that a quarter of her staff went to work for Wall Street!
It’s a crossroads for Democrats. People are worried that it will split the Democratic Party: fine, let it split the Democratic Party. Let the Democratic Party heal in a way that will make it what it used to be: a Party that gives a damn about people rather than corporations, big business, and big donor money. It’s a battle between Bernie Sanders, Main Street, and working class Americans against Hillary Clinton, Wall Street, and the 1%.
Until this battle is fought and won, it’s fine with me that the Democratic Party splits and I hope that Bernie Sanders is the person that does this.
MADAM PRESIDENT, IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE IN THIS PARTICULAR MOMENT IN OUR HISTORY MUST MAKE A VERY FUNDAMENTAL DECISION, AND THAT DECISION IS DO WE CONTINUE THE STATUS QUO WHICH INCLUDES A 40-YEAR DECLINE OF OUR MIDDLE CLASS AND A HUGE AND GROWING GAP BETWEEN THE VERY, VERY RICH AND EVERYONE ELSE, OR DO WE FIGHT FOR A BOLD AND MEANINGFUL ECONOMIC AGENDA THAT CREATES JOBS, RAISES WAGES, PROTECTS OUR ENVIRONMENT AND PROVIDES HEALTH CARE FOR EVERY AMERICAN?
MADAM PRESIDENT, THE QUESTION OF OUR TIME IS WHETHER OR NOT WE ARE PREPARED TO TAKE ON THE ENORMOUS ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL POWER OF THE BILLIONAIRE CLASS, OR DO WE CONTINUE TO SLIDE INTO ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL OLIGARCHY? THAT IS THE QUESTION WHICH THE AMERICAN PEOPLE MUST ANSWER, AND I HOPE AND EXPECT THAT THEY ARE PREPARED TO ANSWER WITH A RESOUNDING YES AND A DESIRE TO MOVE THIS COUNTRY IN A VERY DIFFERENT DIRECTION.
MADAM PRESIDENT, THE LONG-TERM DETERIORATION OF THE MIDDLE CLASS, ACCELERATED BY THE WALL STREET CRASH OF 2008, HAS NOT BEEN A PRETTY PICTURE. TODAY WE HAVE MORE WEALTH AND INCOME INEQUALITY THAN ANY MAJOR COUNTRY ON EARTH, WITH THE TOP 1% OWNING MORE WEALTH THAN THE BOTTOM 90%, WITH ONE FAMILY, THE WALTON FAMILY OF WALMART, OWNING MORE WEALTH ITSELF THAN THE BOTTOM 40%.
MADAM PRESIDENT, TODAY IN THE UNITED STATES, WE HAVE THE HIGHEST RATE OF CHILDHOOD POVERTY OF ANY MAJOR COUNTRY ON EARTH, AND WE ARE THE ONLY MAJOR COUNTRY ON THIS PLANET THAT DOES NOT GUARANTEE HEALTH CARE TO ALL PEOPLE AS A RIGHT.
THE UNITED STATES ONCE LED THE WORLD IN TERMS OF THE PERCENTAGE OF OUR PEOPLE WHO GRADUATED COLLEGE, AND THAT IN A GLOBAL ECONOMY IS AN ENORMOUSLY IMPORTANT ISSUE. WE CAN’T CREATE JOBS UNLESS WE HAVE A WELL-EDUCATED WORK FORCE. MADAM PRESIDENT, WE WE WERE ONCE IN FIRST PLACE IN TERMS OF PERCENTAGE OF OUR PEOPLE WHO GAWDED COLLEGE. TODAY WE ARE IN 12th PLACE.
MADAM PRESIDENT, I THINK AS MOST AMERICANS UNDERSTAND, WE ONCE WERE THE ENERGY OF THE WORLD IN TERMS OF THE QUALITY OF OUR INFRASTRUCTURE, OUR ROADS, BRIDGES, WASTE WATER PLANTS, WATER SYSTEMS, RAIL, BUT TODAY, AS ALL AMERICANS KNOW, OUR PHYSICAL INFRASTRUCTURE IS LITERALLY COLLAPSING BEFORE OUR EYES.
MADAM PRESIDENT, REAL UNEMPLOYMENT TODAY IS NOT 5.8% 5.8% — THAT IS OFFICIAL UNEMPLOYMENT — BUT WHEN YOU INCLUDE THOSE PEOPLE WHO HAVE GIVEN UP LOOKING FOR WORK AND THOSE PEOPLE WHO ARE WORKING PART TIME WHEN THEY WANT TO WORK FULL TIME, REAL UNEMPLOYMENT IS 11.5%. YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT IS 18.6%. AND AFRICAN-AMERICAN YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT IS OVER 30%. TODAY MILLIONS OF AMERICANS ARE WORKING LONGER HOURS FOR LOWER WAGES.
MADAM PRESIDENT, WHEN WE TRY TO UNDERSTAND WHY THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE ANGRY, IT’S IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND THAT IN INFLATION ADJUSTED FOR DOLLARS, THE MEDIAN MALE WORKER, THAT MALE WORKER RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ECONOMY, EARNED $783 LESS LAST YEAR THAN HE MADE 41 YEARS AGO. $783 LESS THAN HE MADE 41 YEARS AGO, DESPITE ALL OF THE INCREASES IN PRODUCTIVITY.
MADAM PRESIDENT, THE MEDIAN WOMAN WORKER MADE $1,300 LESS LAST YEAR THAN SHE EARNED IN 2007. SINCE 1999, MEDIAN MIDDLE-CLASS FAMILY HAS SEEN ITS INCOME GO DOWN BY ALMOST $5,000 AFTER ADJUSTING FOR INFLATION, NOW EARNING LESS THAN IT DID 25 YEARS AGO. WHY ARE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ANGRY? THAT’S WHY. A HUGE INCREASE IN PRODUCTIVITY. ALL OF THE GLOBAL ECONOMY, AND YET THE MEDIAN FAMILY INCOME IN AMERICA IS $5,000 LESS THAN IT WAS IN 1999.
MADAM PRESIDENT, IT SEEMS CLEAR TO ME THAT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE MUST DEMAND THAT CONGRESS AND THE WHITE HOUSE START PROTECTING THE INTERESTS OF WORKING FAMILIES AND NOT JUST WEALTHY CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTORS. WE NEED FEDERAL LEGISLATION TO PUT UNLESS OF OUR UNEMPLOYED WORKERS BACK TO WORK, TO RAISE WAGES AND TO MAKE CERTAIN THAT ALL AMERICANS HAVE THE HEALTH CARE AND EDUCATION THEY NEED FOR HEALTHY AND PRODUCTIVE LIVES. IN OTHER WORDS, WE MUST HAVE A VISION FOR THE FUTURE THAT TALKS ABOUT WHAT THIS NATION CAN BECOME, IN TERMS OF JOBS, IN TERMS OF INCOME, IN TERMS OF EDUCATION AND IN TERMS OF HEALTH CARE.
MADAM PRESIDENT, LET ME JUST VERY BRIEFLY DESCRIBE SOME OF THE MAJOR INITIATIVES THAT I INTEND TO FIGHT FOR IN THE NEW CONGRESS, AND THERE ARE 12 MAJOR INITIATIVES WHICH IF ENACTED WILL TRANSFORM THE MIDDLE CLASS OF THIS COUNTRY.
NUMBER ONE, WE NEED A MAJOR INVESTMENT TO REBUILD OUR CRUMBLING INFRASTRUCTURE, OUR ROADS, BRIDGES, WATER SYSTEMS, WASTE WATER PLANTS, AIRPORTS, RAILROADS, SCHOOLS, ET CETERA. IT HAS BEEN ESTIMATED THAT THE COST OF A BUSH-CHENEY WAR IN IRAQ, A WAR WE SHOULD NEVER HAVE GOTTEN INTO IN THE FIRST PLACE, WILL END UP COSTING US SOME $3 TRILLION. MADAM PRESIDENT, IF WE INVESTED $1 TRILLION IN REBUILDING OUR CRUMBLING INFRASTRUCTURE, WE COULD CREATE 13 MILLION DECENT-PAYING JOBS AND MAKE THIS COUNTRY MORE EFFICIENT AND MORE PRODUCTIVE. WE NEED TO INVEST IN INFRASTRUCTURE, NOT IN WAR.
TWO, THE UNITED STATES MUST LEAD THE WORLD IN REVERSING CLIMATE CHANGE AND MAKING CERTAIN THAT THIS PLANET IS HABITABLE FOR OUR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN. WE MUST TRANSFORM OUR ENERGY SYSTEM AWAY FROM FOSSIL FUELS AND INTO ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND SUSTAINABLE ENERGIES. AND WHEN WE DO THAT, MAKE OUR TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM ENERGY EFFICIENT, MAKE OUR HOMES MORE ENERGY EFFICIENT, MOVE TO WIND, SOLAR, GEOTHERMAL, BIOMASS, WE CAN ALSO CREATE A SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF GOOD-PAYING JOBS.
THREE, WE NEED TO DEVELOP NEW ECONOMIC MODELS TO INCREASE JOB CREATION AND PRODUCTIVITY. INSTEAD OF GIVING HUGE TAX BREAKS TO CORPORATIONS WHICH SHIP OUR JOBS TO CHINA AND OTHER LOW-WAGE COUNTRIES, WE NEED TO PROVIDE ASSISTANCE TO WORKERS WHO WANT TO PURCHASE THEIR OWN BUSINESSES BY ESTABLISHING WORKER-OWNED COOPERATIVES. STUDY AFTER STUDY SHOWS THAT WHEN WORKERS HAVE AN OWNERSHIP STAKE IN THE BUSINESSES IN WHICH THEY WORK, PRODUCTIVITY GOES UP, ABSENTEEISM GOES DOWN, AND EMPLOYEES ARE MUCH MORE SATISFIED WITH THEIR JOBS.
FOUR, UNION WORKERS WHO ARE ABLE TO COLLECTIVELY WAR BE A GAIN FOR HIGHER WAGES AND BENEFITS EARN SUBSTANTIALLY MORE THAN NONUNION WORKERS. TODAY CORPORATE OPPOSITION TO UNION ORGANIZING MAKES IT EXTREMELY DIFFICULT FOR WORKERS TO JOIN A UNION. WE NEED LEGISLATION WHICH MAKES IT CLEAR THAT WHEN A MAJORITY OF WORKERS SIGN CARDS IN SUPPORT OF A UNION, THEY CAN FORM THAT UNION.
FIVE, THE CURRENT FEDERAL MINIMUM WAGE OF $7.25 AN HOUR IS A STARVATION WAGE. WE NEED TO RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE TO A LIVING WAGE. NO ONE IN THIS COUNTRY WHO WORKS 40 HOURS A WEEK SHOULD LIVE IN POVERTY.
SIX, WOMEN WORKERS TODAY EARN 78% OF WHAT THEIR MALE COUNTERPARTS MAKE. WE NEED PAY EQUITY IN THIS COUNTRY, EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK.
SEVEN, MADAM PRESIDENT, SINCE 2001 WE HAVE LOST MORE THAN 60,000 FACTORIES IN THIS COUNTRY AND MORE THAN 4.9 MILLION DECENT-PAYING MANUFACTURING JOBS. WE ONCE LED THE WORLD IN TERMS OF OUR MANUFACTURING CAPABILITY, YET IN STATE AFTER STATE WE HAVE SEEN SIGNIFICANT LOSSES IN MANUFACTURING JOBS AND WHEN PEOPLE WALK INTO A STORE, IT IS HARDER AND HARDER FOR THEM TO PURCHASE PRODUCTS MADE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. MADAM PRESIDENT, THE TIME IS NOW FOR US TO END OUR DISASTROUS TRADE POLICIES THAT’S NAFTA, CAFTA, PERMANENT NORMAL TRADE RELATIONS WITH CHINA — BECAUSE THESE POLICIES SIMPLY ENABLE CORPORATE AMERICA TO SHUT DOWN PLANTS IN THIS COUNTRY AND MOVE TO CHINA AND OTHER LOW-WAGE COUNTRIES. MADAM PRESIDENT, WE NEED TO END THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM, AND TO DEVELOP TRADE POLICIES WHICH PROTECT THE INTERESTS OF AMERICAN WORKERS AND NOT JUST MULTINATIONAL CORPORATIONS. AMERICAN COMPANIES SHOULD START INVESTING IN THIS COUNTRY AND NOT SIMPLY IN CHINA AND OTHER LOW-WAGE COUNTRIES. POINT NUMBER
EIGHT — IN TODAY’S HIGHLY COMPETITIVE GLOBAL ECONOMY, MILLIONS OF AMERICANS ARE UNABLE TO AFFORD THE HIGHER EDUCATION THEY NEED IN ORDER TO GET GOOD-PAYING JOBS. 40, 50 YEARS AGO WE HAD A SITUATION IN THIS COUNTRY WHERE SOME OF THE GREAT PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES OF OUR NATION, THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK, STATE COLLEGES ALL OVER AMERICA WERE VIRTUALLY TUITION-FREE, AND ANYBODY COULD GO TO THOSE SCHOOLS, REGARDLESS OF THE INCOME OF THEIR FAMILIES. TODAY, FOR MANY, MANY FAMILIES AND YOUNG PEOPLE, THE COST OF HIGHER EDUCATION IS SIMPLY UNAFFORDABLE, AND EITHER STUDENTS CHOOSE NOT TO GO TO COLLEGE BECAUSE THEY CAN’T AFFORD IT, OR THEY COME OUT OF SCHOOL DEEPLY IN DEBT, A DEBT FASTENED ON THEIR SHOULDERS FOR DECADES. MADAM PRESIDENT, QUALITY EDUCATION IN AMERICA FROM CHILD CARE TO HIGHER EDUCATION MUST BE AFFORDABLE FOR ALL. WITHOUT A HIGH QUALITY AND AFFORDABLE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM, WE WILL BE UNABLE TO COMPETE GLOBALLY IN THE INTERNATIONAL ECONOMY AND OUR STANDARD OF LIVING WILL CONTINUE TO DECLINE. WE HAVE GOT TO INVEST IN EDUCATION. THE IDEA THAT WE ARE LAYING OFF TEACHERS IS COMPLETELY ABSURD. POINT
NUMBER NINE — THE FUNCTION OF BANKING, THE BANKING SYSTEM, IS TO FACILITATE THE FLOW OF CAPITAL INTO THE PRODUCTIVE AND JOB-CREATING ECONOMY. THAT’S WHAT BANKING IS SUPPOSED TO BE. PEOPLE SAVE, PEOPLE PUT MONEY IN BANKS, THAT MONEY HE GOES OUT INTO THE ECONOMY SO PEOPLE CAN BUY HOMES, CREATE BUSINESSES. FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS CANNOT BE AN ISLAND UNTO THEMSELVES, STANDING AS HUGE PROFIT CENTERS OUTSIDE OF THE REAL PRODUCTIVE ECONOMY. IN OTHER WORDS, BANKING MUST BE A MEANS TO AN END, IMPROVING SOCIETY, CREATING JOBS, PROVIDING PEOPLE WITH DECENT HOUSING, NOT SIMPLY A MEANS BY WHICH FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS MAKE MORE AND MORE PROFIT. MADAM PRESIDENT, TODAY SIX HUGE WALL STREET FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS HAVE ASSETS EQUIVALENT TO 61% OF OUR GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT, CLOSE TO $10 TRILLION IN SIX FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS. THESE INSTITUTIONS UNDERWRITE MORE THAN HALF THE MORTGAGES IN THIS COUNTRY AND MORE THAN TWO-THIRDS OF THE CREDIT CARDS. THE GREED, RECKLESSNESS AND ILLEGAL BEHAVIOR OF MAJOR WALL STREET FIRMS PLUNGED THIS COUNTRY INTO THE WORST FINANCIAL CRISIS SINCE THE 1930’S, AND EVERY DAY WE OPEN UP A NEWSPAPER — OUR NEWSPAPERS AND WE SEE ANOTHER MAJOR BANKING SCANDAL. THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER, MADAM PRESIDENT, IS THAT THESE FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS ON WALL STREET ARE TOO POWERFUL TO BE REFORMED. THEY HAVE TOO MUCH MONEY, THEY HAVE TOO MUCH WEALTH, THEY HAVE TOO MANY LOBBYISTS, THEY MAKE TOO MUCH IN CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS. OUR GOAL MUST BE TO BREAK THEM UP. THEY HAVE TOO MUCH POWER, TOO MUCH WEALTH, THEY MUST BE BROKEN UP SO THAT OUR FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS BEGIN TO SERVE THE NEEDS OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AND NOT SIMPLY THE C.E.O.’S AND THE STOCKHOLDERS OF WALL STREET FIRMS.
NUMBER 10, THE UNITED STATES MUST JOIN THE REST OF THE INDUSTRIALIZED WORLD AND RECOGNIZE THAT HEALTH CARE IS A RIGHT OF ALL AND NOT A PRIVILEGE. I THINK MANY AMERICANS DON’T KNOW THAT WE ARE THE ONLY MAJOR COUNTRY ON EARTH THAT DOES NOT GUARANTEE HEALTH CARE TO ALL PEOPLE AS A RIGHT, AND YET WITHIN THIS DYSFUNCTIONAL HEALTH CARE SYSTEM, WE TODAY HAVE 40 MILLION PEOPLE WHO HAVE NO HEALTH INSURANCE, WE HAVE MORE PEOPLE WHO ARE UNDERINSURED, WE HAVE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WITH HIGH PREMIUMS, HIGH DEDUCTIBLES, AND AT THE END OF ALL OF THAT WE END UP SPENDING ALMOST TWICE AS MUCH PER CAPITA ON HEALTH CARE AS DO THE PEOPLE OF ANY OTHER MAJOR COUNTRY ON EARTH. MADAM PRESIDENT, THE TIME IS NOW FOR US TO DECLARE THAT HEALTH CARE IS A RIGHT OF ALL PEOPLE, AN PRIVILEGE. WE NEED TO PASS A MEDICARE FOR ALL SINGLE PAIR SYSTEM. — SINGLE PAYER SYSTEM. POINT
NUMBER 11. MADAM PRESIDENT, MILLIONS OF SENIOR CITIZENS IN THIS COUNTRY LIVE IN POVERTY AND WE HAVE THE HIGHEST RATE OF CHILDHOOD POVERTY OF ANY MAJOR COUNTRY ON EARTH. I HEAR A LOT OF DISCUSSION ON THE PART OF MY REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUES AND SOME DEMOCRATS THAT WE SHOULD BE CUTTING SOCIAL SECURITY. WELL, I STRONGLY DISAGREE. IN MY VIEW, WE MUST STRENGTHEN AND EXPAND SOCIAL SECURITY, NOT CUT IT. AND THAT IS TERRIBLY IMPORTANT, ESPECIALLY AT A TIME WHEN MORE AND MORE SENIORS ARE SLIPPING INTO POVERTY AND WE HAVE MILLIONS OF SENIORS WHO ARE TRYING TO SURVIVE ON $12,000, $13,000, $14,000 A YEAR, MAKING DECISIONS EVERY SINGLE DAY ABOUT WHETHER THEY BUY THE MEDICINE THEY NEED, WHETHER THEY HEAT THEIR HOMES ADEQUATELY, OR THEY BUY THE FOOD THAT THEY NEED. WE SHOULD NOT BE CUTTING THESE PROGRAMS, WE SHOULD BE EXPANDING THESE PROGRAMS.
THE 12th AND LAST POINT THAT I WOULD MAKE AS PART OF AN AGENDA THAT WE BUILDS AMERICA AND REBUILDS OUR MIDDLE CLASS, IS AT A TIME OF MASSIVE WEALTH AND INCOME INEQUALITY WE NEED A PRODUCTIVE TAX SYSTEM BASED ON ABILITY TO PAY. IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE THAT EVERY SINGLE YEAR WE HAVE MAJOR PROFITABLE CORPORATIONS WHO PAY NOTHING IN FEDERAL INCOME TAXES, AND IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE THAT WE HAVE CORPORATE C.E.O.’S IN THIS COUNTRY WHO MAKE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS EVERY YEAR WHO ENJOY AN EFFECTIVE TAX RATE WHICH IS LOWER THAN THEIR SECRETARIES’. THAT IS GROTESQUELY UNFAIR AND IT MUST BE CHANGED. FURTHER, WE HAVE GOT TO ADDRESS THE DISGRACE THAT EVERY SINGLE YEAR OUR COUNTRY LOSES OVER $1 BILLION IN REVENUE BECAUSE CORPORATIONS AND THE WEALTHY STASH THEIR MONEY IN OFFSHORE TAX HAVENS ALL OVER THE WORLD. THE TIME IS LONG OVERDUE FOR REAL TAX REFORM WHICH SAYS TO THE WEALTHY, WHICH SAYS TO LARGE, PROFITABLE CORPORATIONS THAT THEY HAVE GOT TO BEGIN PAYING THEIR FAIR SHARE OF TAXES.
SO LET ME CONCLUDE, MADAM PRESIDENT, BY GETTING BACK TO THE POINT THAT I MADE IN THE BEGINNING OF MY REMARKS. AND THAT IS THAT WE ARE IN A PIVOTAL MOMENT IN AMERICAN HISTORY. THE VERY, VERY RICH ARE BECOMING RICHER, THE MIDDLE CLASS IS DISAPPEARING, AND TODAY WE HAVE MORE PEOPLE LIVING IN POVERTY THAN AT ALMOST ANY TIME IN AMERICAN HISTORY. AND WITH THE WEALTH OF THE BILLIONAIRE CLASS, THEY ARE EXERCISING THEIR POWER POLITICALLY BECAUSE CITIZENS UNITED, A DISASTROUS SUPREME COURT DECISION, HAS GIVEN THEM THE POWER TO BUY ELECTIONS AND CONTROL TO A SIGNIFICANT DEGREE OUR POLITICAL PROCESS.
AND WE AS A NATION HAVE ULTIMATELY GOT TO MAKE A DECISION ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT WE ARE GOING TO CONTINUE THAT PROCESS, WHERE THE MIDDLE CLASS CONTINUES TO DECLINE AND THE VERY, VERY RICHEST PEOPLE BECOME RICHER, OR WHETHER WE ARE PREPARED — AND THIS IS NOT EASY STUFF — TO STAND TOGETHER TO TAKE ON THE BILLIONAIRE CLASS AND THEIR GREED AND TO SAY ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, THIS COUNTRY DOES NOT JUST BELONG TO THE TOP 1% OR THE TOP .1% BUT IT BELONGS TO ALL OF US, AND I HOPE VERY MUCH THAT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE BECAUSE IF THEY DO, WE CAN BRING ABOUT A TRANSFORMATION OF THIS COUNTRY SO THE GOVERNMENT BEGINS TO WORK FOR ALL OF THE PEOPLE AND NOT JUST THE BILLIONAIRES ON TOP.
AND WITH THAT, MADAM PRESIDENT, I … YIELD THE FLOOR….
Ed Schultz: Welcome back. Thanks for watching tonight. Now if you have a son or daughter that’s getting ready to go off to college, what’s on your kitchen table. I can tell you what’s going to be on your kitchen table, and that’s a student loan debt because it has climbed to an all-time high in this country of $1.2 trillion. It is the fastest growing form of consumer debt in this country.
Now if we are going to lead as a country globally, the way we are going to do it is to make higher education more affordable and completely free. This is the new wave of thought in this country.
Which is exactly what my next guest, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, is aiming for. Earlier today the Presidential candidate introduced legislation to make four-year public colleges and universities tuition free.
And here’s the big kicker in the whole deal. College costs could be paid through a new tax on Wall Street transactions. This is what Senator Sanders is all about. Sanders wants a so-called Robin Hood tax on stock transactions to fund the federal share of tuition for every American student. The plan calls for a 50 cent tax on every $100 of stock trades on stock sales. Lesser amounts would be collected on transaction involving bonds, derivatives and other financial instruments.
Now this is clearly a step forward in the right direction as I see it. Why not try it for a year? Well, of course it would work, and then the Republicans would be against it.
Joining me tonight to give us more on this is the Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders, and candidate for President. Senator, good to have you with us tonight.
This is a very forward thinking, problem solving issue as I see it. It’s what every American families are dealing with every summer: how is my kid going to go to college. But the number that I think people have got to consume is where the debt is: $1.2 trillion. And I have to ask the question, Senator, if we don’t do something, where are we going to be in five years, and where are we going to be in ten years?
Senator Bernie Sanders: Ed, this is a disastrous situation. It’s really an embarrassment for a great country like ours. We’ve got hundreds of thousands of bright young people who now have given up the dream of going to college. We’re losing all of their intellectual potential.
And as you just mentioned, we have millions more who are leaving school?—$30,000, $50,000?—I talked to a young doctor last year, she is $300,000 in debt. This is insane.
So it’s time for us to learn what countries around the world are doing—Germany, Scandinavia, countries all over the world—and they are saying that they want to capitalize on the intelligence and energy of their young people, that all young people deserve the ability to get a higher education, regardless of the income of their family, and that furthermore young people should not be strangled by this oppressive debt around their necks, which go on year after year after year.
Schultz: Senator, those who oppose this plan are going to be saying why do we have to shake down Wall Street. Why is Wall Street the target here? Your thoughts.
Sanders: Well, the answer is two-fold.
Number one: folks on Wall Street and people who were trading in huge amounts of stocks are becoming phenomenally wealthy. Hedge fund managers are doing extraordinarily, extraordinarily well, and they have got to help us deal with some of the major crises that we face as a nation including making college affordable.
Second of all, Ed, what this legislation does is not only raise a very substantial sum of money in a fair and progressive way, it also puts a damper on this speculation that is rampant on Wall Street. So it serves a purpose in that direction as well.
Schultz: So it’s a two-for-one. You’ve always been concerned about the speculation on Wall Street and this would be throwing some cold waters on the Hot Tin so to speak, which of course would bring down the risk on our economy.
All right now what has been the response since you’ve announced this legislation and the mechanism you want to use?
Sanders: It’s been extraordinary. I think all over the country young people are writing us and their families are writing us in terms of emails, in terms of signing the petition that we have out there.
Look as you’ve just indicated, every parent about sending their kids to college is scared to death and worried about what kind of a debt their children are going to incur and what kind of a debt they are going to incur.
This is a no brainer. If you want a strong economy, you have to have the best educated workforce in the world. It is insane to tell kids that they can’t get that education.
Schultz: All right, so tell us about the second Robin Hood bill, which is similar to the one introduced by Congressman Keith Ellison.
Sanders: Right, it’s the same bill as Keith introduced. And essentially you know it’s the same bill. And we’re introducing it independently but also introducing it to pay for all of this higher education refinancing bill, oh, and by the way we will raise enough money to do some other things as well.
Look the bottom line here, Ed, is that the rich are getting much richer, you have corporations making huge profits, these guys are going to have to start paying their fair share of taxes so we can address the major issues facing our country and that includes making education affordable and lifting the yoke of debt that so many of our young people are dealing with.
Schultz: Senator if I may profoundly point out in the news in the last week other candidates are talking about war; you’re talking about kitchen-table issues. Where do you think the public is?
Sanders: I think the public understands that we need to fundamentally reshape our priorities.
That we cannot, cannot, cannot get involved in an endless war in the Middle East, which will cost us lives, which will cost us trillions more of taxpayer dollars.
That we have got to address, Ed, the crisis facing a disappearing middle-class and that’s where we’ve got to put our effort: we have got to create millions of decent paying jobs rebuilding our infrastructure.
We have to raise the minimum wage to a living wage.
We have to make college affordable. We got to deal with student debt.
You have to deal with climate change.
We can’t keep pushing these issues aside and get involved in more and more wars.
Schultz: Are you enjoying running? You know, I know you thought a lot. You’re early into it. Are you enjoying it?
Sanders: It’s quite a trip to tell you the truth. It’s very interesting, yes. The answer is I am and I’m looking forward to getting out all over this country, into New Hampshire and into Iowa. We’re going to make a formal announcement next week in Burlington Vermont.
Schultz: Senator Bernie Sanders, always a pleasure here on The Ed Show. Thanks so much Senator.
WASHINGTON, May 19 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today introduced legislation to make 4-year public colleges and universities tuition free.
“We live in a highly competitive global economy. If our economy is to be strong, we need the best educated work force in the world. That will not happen if every year hundreds of thousands of bright young people cannot afford to go to college and if millions more leave school deeply in debt,” Sanders said.
Under the legislation, $70 billion a year in assistance – two-thirds from the federal government and one-third from states – would replace what public colleges and universities now charge in tuition and fees. The federal share of the cost would be offset by imposing a tax on Wall Street transactions by investment houses, hedge funds and other speculators.
The legislation also would overhaul student loan programs so students and their parents could reduce crushing debt loads which now exceed Americans’ credit card debt. Federal profits on loans would be eliminated, work-study programs expanded and incentives offered for colleges and universities to keep costs down.
“We once led the world in the percentage of our people with a college degree, now we are in 12th place.” Sanders said. “Countries like Germany, Denmark, Sweden and many more are providing free or inexpensive higher education for their young people. They understand how important it is to be investing in their youth. We should be doing the same,” he added.
Tuition at 4-year public colleges and universities rose by 50 percent in the United States during the past decade. As state governments have cut support for higher education, the burden has shifted to students and their parents.
With this spring’s college commencement season underway, the class of 2015 is the most indebted class in American history, according to Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of Edvisors, a website on college costs and financial aid.
Summary of Sen. Sanders’ College for All Act
Eliminate Undergraduate Tuition at 4-year Public Colleges and Universities. This legislation would provide $47 billion per year to states to eliminate undergraduate tuition and fees at public colleges and universities.
Today, total tuition at public colleges and universities amounts to about $70 billion per year. Under the College for All Act, the federal government would cover 67% of this cost, while the states would be responsible for the remaining 33% of the cost.
To qualify for federal funding, states must meet a number of requirements designed to protect students, ensure quality, and reduce ballooning costs. States will need to maintain spending on their higher education systems, on academic instruction, and on need-based financial aid. In addition, colleges and universities must reduce their reliance on low-paid adjunct faculty.
States would be able to use funding to increase academic opportunities for students, hire new faculty, and provide professional development opportunities for professors.
No funding under this program may be used to fund administrator salaries, merit-based financial aid, or the construction of non-academic buildings like stadiums and student centers.
Student Loan Reforms. Restoration of Historically Low Student Loan Interest Rates. The College for All Act would lower student loan interest rates by restoring the formula which was in effect until 2006. Student loan interest rates would be cut almost in half for undergraduate students, dropping from 4.32% to just 2.32%. In addition, the legislation would ensure rates never rise above 8.25%.
Student Loan Re-financing.The College for All Act would enable borrowers to refinance their loans based on the interest rates available to current students.
Work Study Reforms. Today, the federal work study program receives less than $1 billion per year, and serves nearly 700,000 students. This legislation would expand the number of students and colleges that can offer part-time employment and participate in the federal work study program, and focus funding on schools that enroll high numbers of low-income students.
Simplifying the Student Aid Application Process. The bill would create a pilot program to eliminate the requirement that students re-apply for financial aid each year, simplifying the application process and removing significant barriers faced by low-income students.
Fully Paid for by Imposing a Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street. This legislation is offset by imposing a Wall Street speculation fee on investment houses, hedge funds, and other speculators of 0.5% on stock trades (50 cents for every $100 worth of stock), a 0.1% fee on bonds, and a 0.005% fee on derivatives. It has been estimated that this provision could raise hundreds of billions a year which could be used not only to make tuition free at public colleges and universities in this country, it could also be used to create millions of jobs and rebuild the middle class of this country.
Statement by Senator Bernard Sanders on the College for All Act
We have a crisis in higher education today. Too many of our young people cannot afford a college education and those who are leaving college are faced with crushing debt.
It is a national disgrace that hundreds of thousands of young Americans today do not go to college, not because they are unqualified, but because they cannot afford it. This is absolutely counter-productive to our efforts to create a strong competitive economy and a vibrant middle class. This disgrace has got to end.
In a global economy, when our young people are competing with workers from around the world, we have got to have the best educated workforce possible. And, that means that we have got to make college affordable. We have got to make sure that every qualified American in this country who wants to go to college can go to college — regardless of income.
Further, it is unacceptable that 40 million Americans are drowning in more than $1.2 trillion in student loan debt.
It is unacceptable that millions of college graduates cannot afford to buy their first home or their first new car because of the high interest rates they are paying on student debt.
It is unacceptable that, in many instances, interest rates on student loans are two to three times higher than on auto loans.
Let’s be clear: other nations around the world understand the benefits of having an educated workforce that isn’t burdened with enormous student debt. Other countries recognize that allowing all qualified students, regardless of income, to achieve a higher education is an investment in the economic prosperity of their people.
Last year, tuition was eliminated in Germany because policymakers believed that charging $1,300 per year was discouraging students from attending college. $1,300 per year, and that tuition was eliminated.
In Denmark, not only is college free of tuition and fees, people who go to college in that country actually get paid to go to college.
In Finland, Norway and Sweden, tuition and fees are free not only for their citizens, but in many cases, foreign students as well.
And, Chile, which has the highest level of income inequality in Latin America, will
implement free college tuition next year, and pay for it by increasing taxes on
But, it’s not just other countries around the world that are doing the right thing. There was a time, not so many years ago, when we in the United States understood the importance of making college available to all qualified students, regardless of income.
A generation ago, our nation’s public colleges and universities were the pathways for all students, no matter their family background, to enter the middle class.
For example, the University of California system, considered by many to be the crown jewel of public higher education in this country, did not begin charging tuition until the 1980s.
In 1965, average tuition at a four-year public university was just $243, and many of the best colleges — such as the City University of New York — did not charge any tuition.
And this investment in higher education worked – the United States once led the world in the percentage of young Americans with college degrees. Sadly, today, we are in 12th place.
It is time for a fundamental change in how we approach the financing of higher education, and the legislation I will introduce today will do just that.
The College for All Act will provide free tuition at every public college and university in this country.
This means that ANY student, regardless of his or her background or income, who has the ability and desire, will be able to get the education they need and the education they deserve. This legislation opens the door for a middle class life to millions of young Americans and will make our economy stronger and more productive.
This legislation will establish a partnership with states by developing a matching grant program which would provide $2 in federal funding for every dollar that states spend on making tuition free higher education in public colleges and universities.
This legislation would also expand the federal work study program.
This legislation not only addresses the crisis of college affordability, but it also deals with another issue of huge consequence for millions of families in this country. And, that is the incredibly oppressive burden of crushing student loan debt.
This legislation will allow every American with student debt to refinance their loans, so that borrowers will always be able to take advantage of favorable interest rates. It makes no sense to me that Americans can refinance their homes when interest rates are low, and that somebody can purchase a car at two percent interest rates, but millions of college graduates are stuck with interest rates of 5, 6, 7 percent sometimes for decades. That makes no sense. That is grossly unfair. This bill would cut student loan interest rates in half and lower the rate to about 2 percent for undergraduates.
In addition, this legislation would eliminate the obscene profit that the federal government makes through the student loan program – some $89 billion over a ten year period. The federal government should not be profiting off of student loans provided to low and moderate income families.
The truth is that providing free tuition at public colleges and universities, and reducing the burden of student debt in this country is an expensive proposition. So how are we going to pay for it?
How are we going to pay for this estimated $750 billion over the next ten years?
And, here’s the answer. At a time of massive income and wealth inequality, at a time when trillions of dollars in wealth have left the pockets of the middle class and have gone to the top one-tenth of one percent, at a time when the wealthiest people in this country have made huge amounts of money from risky derivative transactions and the soaring value of the stock market, this legislation would impose a Wall Street speculation fee on Wall Street investment houses and hedge funds.
More than 1,000 economists have endorsed a tax on Wall Street speculation and today some 40 countries throughout the world have imposed a financial transactions tax including Britain, Germany, France, Switzerland, China, India, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and Brazil.
My legislation would impose a Wall Street speculation fee of 0.5 percent on stock trades (that’s 50 cents for every $100 worth of stock), a 0.1 percent fee on bonds, and a 0.005 percent fee on derivatives.
It has been estimated that this legislation would raise up to $300 billion a year.
We must revolutionize our nation’s higher education system. We must invest in the young people today, because they are our nation’s future doctors, teachers, engineers, scientists and senators – so they can ensure our economy and our nation as a whole have an edge in the 21st Century.
Wolf Blitzer: Income inequality certainly a major issue in the 2016 Presidential race. Hillary Clinton has made headlines over the revelation that she and her husband the former President Bill Clinton made about 30 million dollars since last year alone in speaking fees, five million dollars for the book that she wrote. Listen to what she said about that when she spoke to reporters just a little while ago.
Reporter: On your income disclosure recently that just came out on Friday, you were in the tip top echelon of earners in this country. How do you expect everyday Americans to relate to you?
Hillary Clinton: Well obviously Bill and I’ve been blessed and we’re very grateful for the opportunities that we had, but we’ve never forgotten where we came from and we’ve never forgotten the kind of country that we want to see for our granddaughter, and that means that we’re gonna fight out to make sure that everybody has the same chances to live up to his or her own God-given potential.
So I think that most Americans understand that the deck is stacked for those at the top and I’m running a campaign that is very clearly stating we want to reshuffle that deck. We want to get back to having more opportunities for more people so that they can make more out of their own lives.”
Blitzer: Well let’s talk about that and more with the Vermont Senator, a Democratic Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders. Thanks very much for coming in. What’s your reaction when you hear her say that about income inequality, which is a huge issue for you.
Bernie Sanders: It’s an issue I have been talking about for many, many years, and I think what we need to do is be very specific about what we’re gonna do about it. Today, Wolf, 99% of all new incomes is going to the top 1%. The top one-tenth of one percent …
Blitzer: Would you put her in that top 10 percent, one-tenth of one percent, is that what you’re saying?
Sanders: I don’t know exactly, they may be. I don’t know if they are that high but …
Blitzer: Is that a problem though? Is that a problem that she and her husband made thirty million dollars for the past 16 months for speaking and writing a book?
Sanders: Well it’s a problem, but the more serious problem is what do we do about the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality in America today. So what do you have to do?
What we need to do is create millions up decent paying jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure.
What you need to do is say to the wealthiest people in the largest corporations, you know what, you gonna have to start paying your fair share of taxes; you can’t stash your money in the Cayman Islands.
What you’re gonna have to do, if you really want to grow the middle class, is say that everybody in this country, regardless of their income, if they have the ability, they’re going to get a college education. And today I just introduced legislation that would make public colleges and universities tuition free.
Blitzer: Where’s the money going to come from?
Sanders: A tax on Wall Street speculation and that’s exactly where it should come from.
Blitzer: Talk about that. What does that mean a tax on Wall Street speculation?
Sanders: What it means is right now you have people who are becoming phenomenally wealthy by speculating in derivatives and every other type of esoteric instrument that they can. People are getting very rich on Wall Street. What we are going to impose is what exists in dozens of countries around the world is a very modest tax on the transference of large amounts of stock.
Blitzer: What does that mean, a very modest tax? Is that going to pay for tuition free education?
Sanders: More than that. This is a very effective and progressive way to raise money. The estimate is that it could bring in as much as $300 billion-a-year.
Blitzer: Do you think Republicans are going to go along with this?
Sanders: Of course not.
Blitzer: Well if they if they’re not going to go along with this, it’s not going to become the law.
Sanders: No, well, I don’t think it’s going to be passed tomorrow. But what I think what we have to do is the American people will go along with it. The American people think it’s absurd that our young people are leaving school deeply, deeply in debt and young people can’t afford to go to college.
Blitzer: Is Hillary Clinton committed to this cause as are you?
Sanders: Wolf, you will have to ask her.
Blitzer: But what do you think?
Sanders: I don’t work for her. I don’t know.
Blitzer: But you know her, you know her position.
Sanders: I just introduced legislation. I don’t know where Hillary Clinton is coming on this. I believe we got to join Germany, Scandinavia, and many other countries around the world and say, if you have the ability, regardless of your income, you are going to be able to go to college tuition free.
Blitzer: So you want to raise taxes.
Sanders: On the very wealthiest people in this country? Absolutely.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to our series of interviews with the men and women running for president in 2016.
Tonight: Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent seeking the Democratic nomination.
Welcome to the NewsHour, Senator Sanders.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I) Vermont: Great to be with you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you are an independent. You call yourself a Democratic socialist. How is that different from being a Democrat?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, I have been in the Democratic Caucus in the Senate for over 24 years.
But, as an independent, my views, in fact, are a little bit different than many of my Democratic colleagues. I worry very much that we have a billionaire class now which has enormous power not only over our economy, but over our political system as well, as a result of Citizens United Supreme Court decision.
So, my own view is that we have got to be very, very bold in taking on big money and creating a situation where government begins to work for the middle class and working families of our country, rather than just the wealthy and the powerful.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So that’s the main difference that you would make.
Why are you running for president?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Judy, I’m running for president because, in my view, this country today, our country, faces more serious problems than at any time since the Great Depression.
And if you throw in the planetary crisis of climate change, it may well be that the problems today are more severe. Look, for the last 40 years, the great middle class of this country has been disappearing. Median family income today is significantly less than it was in 1999. Millions are working longer hours for lower wages.
And, at the same time, we have seen a huge shift of wealth to the top one-tenth of 1 percent. So, today — today, 99 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent. The top one-tenth of 1 percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. That is immoral and unsustainable.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, and speaking of that, I want to ask you about that. One of the issue is taxes. You have talked about raising the capital gains rate and the tax on dividends for the top 2 percent.
In fact, you talked about, I think, nearly doubling it. Critics say that is going to put a big damper on job creation and on the growth of this economy.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, I know. Critics are often paid by large corporations or corporate think tanks.
The fact of the matter is right now in America we’re losing about $100 billion every single year because very profitable corporations are stashing their money in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and other tax havens. And that has got to end. Second of all, we have a situation where hedge fund managers, guys that are making many, many millions of dollars a year, are paying an effective tax rate lower than what nurses or school teachers are paying.
And Warren Buffett makes the point that his effective tax rate, as a multibillionaire, is lower than his secretary’s. That’s got to end. The wealthiest people in this country are in fact going to have to start paying their fair share of taxes if I’m elected president.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Another issue is trade. You have been very critical of the trade bill President Obama is vigorously pushing. Hillary Clinton, your rival, has not yet taken a position on this.
Today, just today, CBS News reported that she has taken $2.5 million in speaking fees from organizations that are promoting this trade bill. Is that a problem?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Sure it’s a problem.
The problem that we have now is that our political system is increasingly dominated by a billionaire class and by super PACs, who have unbelievable influence over what goes on politically. It is a huge problem.
But in terms of this trade agreement, in my view, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement is a continuation of other disastrous trade agreements, like NAFTA, CAFTA, and permanent normal trade relations with China.
These trade agreements, among other things, have contributed to the that we have lost almost 60,000 factories since 2001 and millions of decent-paying jobs. And I think enough is enough. We have got to rebuild our manufacturing base, not send it to China or other countries.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Does it matter — we said Secretary Clinton has not taken a position. What does it mean if she doesn’t take a position on this before the Congress votes on it?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, I think that’s a very fair question. And I think the American people will have to decide.
If you are asking me why it is that the middle class is disappearing and we’re seeing more income and wealth inequality than any time since the 1920s, trade is a very important factor, not the only reason. And it is hard for me to understand how any serious candidate for president, Hillary Clinton or anybody else, can duck this issue. You can’t. You can be for it. You can be against it. But it is being hotly debated right now in Congress. You have got to have a position on it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In this race, you are going up against someone who is literally part of a political juggernaut in this country in Secretary Clinton. Why do you think you would be a better president than she would be?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: I have spent the better part of my adult life standing up and fighting for working families.
I have taken on virtually every element of the big money establishment, whether it’s the Koch brothers, and the big energy companies, whether it’s the industrial complex, whether it’s Wall Street. You’re looking at the guy who has introduced legislation to break up the largest financial institutions in this country.
I have taken on the drug companies. I have taken on the insurance companies. I happen to believe that we should move to a Medicare-for-all single-payer system, similar to what other countries around the world have.
So, I think if people understand that establishment politics just no longer is working, that we need some bold ideas, that we need a mass movement of people, millions of people to stand up and say, you know what, enough is enough, this great country belongs to all of us and not just to a handful of billionaires, if people believe that, I will win this election.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And you’re saying she can’t do that?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: I don’t think she can, yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: One other thing I want to ask you, Senator, about foreign policy.
ISIS, they just achieved a major victory in Iraq in taking over a big city, Ramadi, over the weekend. You have said you don’t think the U.S. should be leading the charge against ISIS. Does that mean that raids like the one that took place last week where the U.S. took out one of the top ISIS leaders and the ongoing airstrikes in Syria and Iraq shouldn’t go on?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: No, no, no, I have supported those efforts on the part of the president.
I voted against the war in Iraq. And I think, if you go back and you read what I had to say way back when, you know, it will sound pretty prescient in terms of the destabilization that we have seen in the Middle East.
So my view is, the United States has got to play an active role in defeating this barbaric organization, but at the end of the day, it’s going to be the Muslim countries themselves, supported by the United States and other Western countries, that will defeat ISIS and bring some degree of stability into the Middle East. It cannot be American troops on the ground.
And I will tell you what I worry about. I think too many of my Republican friends are into perpetual warfare in the Middle East. And that scares the bejesus out of me.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, the raid last week that took out the ISIS leader, you would — you support…
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: And I supported the airstrikes as well. But I do not want to see perpetual warfare in the Middle East. I do not want to see American combat troops on the ground in the Middle East.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator Bernie Sanders, candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, we thank you.
HAYES: At a round table with high school students yesterday in
Nevada, Hillary Clinton outlined a position on immigration that delighted
immigrant rights activists. Clinton didn`t just offer a clear and an
unequivocal support for a path to full citizenship for undocumented
immigrants, she went further than that, saying that as president, she would
do everything she legally can to help them.
She put herself, in fact, to the left of President Obama, promising to
expand his executive order of protecting so-called DREAMers from
deportation, to include the parents of undocumented immigrants brought to
you U.S. as children as well, even though the Obama Justice Department has
indicated it views such a move as illegal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are more people,
like many parents of DREAMers and others, with deep ties and contributions
to our communities who deserve a chance to stay, and I will fight for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: This is not the only issue where Hillary Clinton has staked
out a position on the left, on tax rates, criminal justice reform and other
issues. Clinton has sought to align herself in the early goings, with the
liberal base of her party. Just this morning, her campaign manager Robby
Mook indicated she supported the push for debt-free college education.
Now, if Clinton seems to be acting like she is facing a primary
challenge from the left, that may be because — well, she is facing a
primary challenge from the left. There are currently two declared
candidates in the race for Democratic presidential nomination — the other
being Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
And despite the long odds Sanders would seem to face against Clinton
who boasts high name recognition and strong connections to donors and party
leaders, Sanders who only announced his campaign last Friday has had a very
good first week. “Huffington Post” reported he`s raised $3 million in just
four days. He has brought in a crew of former aides to President Obama to
help with his campaign.
Today, he unveiled legislation to break up big banks, drawing at least
an implicit contrast with Clinton who some progressives view as too closely
aligned with the financial sector.
Also today, Sanders sent a letter to President Obama asking him to
cancel a trip to Nike headquarters. Quote, “Given Nike`s legacy of
offshoring American jobs and exploiting low wage workers.”
And joining me now is Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, candidate for
All right. Senator, let`s start with immigration reform. Do you —
if — as president, would you take the same position enunciated by Hillary
Clinton yesterday in terms of executive action to protect the parents of
those people who were brought here as children who were protected in the
president`s first executive action?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The short answer
is absolutely. And I applaud the secretary for taking that position.
Look, I voted and fought for immigration reform, voted for the Senate
passage of that legislation. We have 11 million people in this country
living in the shadows, living in fear. That`s got to end. We need a path
towards citizenship for all of those people.
And the best way forward, of course, is legislation rather than
executive action, but I certainly would go forward with that type of
HAYES: OK. Not to — I don`t want to tarry on this too long. But
you and now — you and now Secretary Clinton are endorsing a position that
the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel has rejected as unlawful,
just to be clear here. I mean, did they get it wrong?
SANDERS: Look, the courts are the people who determine what is legal
or not. And I think what you need is an administration that fights for
justice, fights for what`s right, takes the case to the courts and you do
your best to win that case.
HAYES: You introduced a bill today to break up too big to fail banks.
Is this an area of differentiation between you and Secretary Clinton?
SANDERS: Well, I suspect it is. But what`s most important, we have
to deal with the reality that you`ve got six financial institutions in this
country that have assets equivalent to 60 percent of the GDP in America.
They issue about half of the mortgages and one-third of the credit cards in
And in my view, if a financial institution is, quote/unquote, “too big
to fail”, it should be too big to exist. I think if Teddy Roosevelt, a
good Republican, were here today, he would say, break them up. They simply
have too much power. They are an island unto themselves. They are not
doing good service for the American economy.
HAYES: You, I think, are seen by progressives as a fellow
progressive. You have an identity that`s very associated with the liberal
wing of the Democratic Party.
I want to talk about your stance on guns. “Slate” had a headline,
“Bernie Sanders, Gun Nut”. They go through your record. They talk about
how you voted against the Brady Act. How you voted to allow guns on
checked bags on Amtrak. How you`ve actually gotten fairly high scores from
Are you, in fact, Senator, a gun nut?
SANDERS: Well, actually, if you check it out, the last rating I got
from the NRA to the best of my knowledge was an “F”, was an “F”. That
doesn`t quite make me a gun nut.
In my state of Vermont, we are a very rural state where guns are about
hunting, target practice, antique guns, and we have a pretty low crime
rate. I do believe, obviously, that nationally, guns in Baltimore and guns
in Los Angeles are very different. I have voted against the importation of
assault weapons. And I understand not every part of America is the state
HAYES: There is a big controversy brewing over the Trans Pacific
Partnership, specifically Congress giving “fast track” authority to the
executive, to be able to essentially strike the deal and vote on it in
full. Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta was asked how the campaign,
the Clinton campaign, would deal with the trade deal. He joked, “Can you
make it go away?” Which I thought was a pretty funny line actually.
You have been an outspoken opponent to it. Do you want to respond to
Podesta`s joke there?
SANDERS: Yes, John. It ain`t going to go away. In fact, we`re going
to be voting on it fairly soon.
Look, ever since I have been in the Congress, what I have understood
is that all of these trade agreements, NAFAT, CAFTA, permanent normal trade
relations with China and now the TPP — these are proposals that by and
large are being pushed by corporate America, they`re being pushed by Wall
Street, they`re being pushed by the pharmaceutical industry.
Since 2001, Chris, we have lost almost 60,000 factories in America,
millions of decent paying jobs. Trade is not the only reason for the
deindustrialization of America. It has played an important part.
In terms of TPP, I do not want American workers involved in a race to
the bottom, competing against people in Vietnam where the minimum wage is
56 cents an hour. We need a trade policy which helps poor people around
the world, but you can do that without losing millions of jobs in this
country or driving wages down.
HAYES: All right. Senator Sanders, there`s a lot more I wanted to
ask you, including your brother`s campaign in England right now and the
Green Party. We`re going to have to save that for — someone told me about
it today and I said, what? But we`re going to have to save that for the
next time that you and I talk. You`ll be on the campaign trail, so there
will be lots of opportunities.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Senator Bernie Sanders joining me now and, Senator, we are expecting your formal announcement into the race here in a little over a week. You’ve acknowledged that you don’t have the cash, that you don’t have the campaign infrastructure that Hillary Clinton, say, has and certainly as you enter the race, she is the one that you have your sights set on.
What’s your path to victory?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I – VT): Well, my path to victory is to talk about the issues that impact the lives of millions of Americans. Brianna, the reality is that for 40 years, the American middle class has been disappearing? people today are working longer hours for lower wages while at the same time 99 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent and the top 0.1 of 1 percent owns as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.
KEILAR: Hillary Clinton talks a lot about income inequality, how you differentiate yourself on this from her?
SANDERS: Well, it’s one thing to talk about it. It’s one thing to act on it. I have been helping to lead the fight for the American middle class for the last 25-30 years. We have introduced legislation that would rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and create up to 13 million new jobs.
In the Senate I’m leading the effort to raise the minimum wage up to $15 an hour so that people who work 40 hours a week will not be living in poverty. We have presented legislation right now which will say to the wealthiest people and largest corporations you know what, you can’t continue to avoid paying your fair share of taxes.
KEILAR: Your candidacy was assessed by “U.S. News and World Report” like this. It said,
“Like Obama in 2008, Sanders can serve to help define Clinton and make her a stronger candidate. Unlike Obama, Sanders can keep Clinton on her game without getting her tossed out of it.”
You look at that assessment. Are you a spoiler here?
Are you aiming to be a shaper of the debate? Or do you think that you really have a pathway to victory?
SANDERS: I think that there is more discontent with establishment politics, with the greed of corporate America than many people perceive. I think we have a good I’m
not going to deny for one moment that I’m going into this race an underdog? Hillary Clinton will have a lot more money that we have.
But let me say this, even in terms of money, we’ve been in this race for a couple of weeks? we’ve raised over $4 million because people are sending on average not $1 million, not $10,000, $43 per contributor to berniesanders.com we have now 100,000 contributions.
I think we can raise millions of those small contributions.
KEILAR: I just wonder is this going to be a civil debate with Hillary Clinton? Even if you’re talking about issues and not personality or the fact that she’s establishment, you have to go after a leading candidate with a hard edge. Are you prepared to do that?
SANDERS: Well, Brianna, let me turn it around to you, OK.
I’ve never run a negative political ad in my life. People in Vermont know that I run in many, many campaigns. I don’t believe in ugly 30 second ads. I believe in serious debates on serious issues. I’ve known Hillary Clinton for 25 years. Maybe I shouldn’t say this. I like Hillary Clinton. I respect Hillary Clinton. Will the media, among others, allow us to have a civil debate on civil issues? Or is the only way to get media attention by ripping apart someone else? I certainly hope that’s not the case.
KEILAR: Trade a big issue
SANDERS: Trade is a big issue
KEILAR: In the Senate and now we’re looking towards the House, where Republicans, oddly enough, may not have the votes along with Democrats for this initiative of President Obama’s, something you oppose. You have come out and said this is a terrible idea. Hillary Clinton has not. She is on the fence. Should she take a position?
SANDERS: Absolutely. You can’t be on the fence of this one. You’re either for it or you’re against it. No fence-sitting on this one.
Here’s the reality. When we talk about why the middle class is disappearing and why the gap between the very, very rich and everybody else is growing wider, you’ve got you
have to talk about disastrous trade agreements that have allowed corporate America to shut down in this country and move to China ,Mexico and other low-wage countries.
KEILAR: I want to ask you about George Stephanopoulos, the host of This Week, who has been in the news. You appeared on his show on May 3rd and on that program he asked you about your concerns over the money raised by The Clinton Foundation. You have said that The Clinton Foundation fundraising is a fair issue to discuss. He had donated
$25,000 over three years or $75,000 in total, $25,000 each year. He didn’t disclose those donations. And to viewers, to superiors at ABC. He didn’t tell you either, even though you discussed it.
SANDERS: Well, I think he should have made that public. (INAUDIBLE) what he should have done. I have to file a financial disclosure reform form and I think George should have done that. I don’t – between you and me, I don’t think it’s the biggest deal in the world.
KEILAR: If you take her at her word, Elizabeth Warren’s not getting into this race? Are you looking to gain that pocket of support to Hillary Clinton’s left?
SANDERS: Elizabeth Warren is a good friend of mine. I’ve known Elizabeth for many, many years. She’s doing a fantastic job in the Senate.
I think on many of the same issues, on many of the issues, Elizabeth Warren and I come out on the same page.
KEILAR: Overall, I don’t hear a lot of forcefulness from you? a lot of people who observe politics say this is a contact sport. You have to have sharp elbows. Even if it’s not going fully negative in character assassination
KEILAR: and there may be somewhere in between are you –
SANDERS: Brianna, Brianna, you are looking at the most progressive member of the United States Senate. I have led the effort in taking on Wall Street. I have led the effort in taking on disastrous trade agreements. I have led the effort in fighting for universal health care. I have led the effort in terms of trying to reverse our approach toward climate change
and move away from a fossil fuel society.
I’ve led the effort on many of those issues. I’ve taken on every powerful special –
KEILAR: But are you prepared to sharply point out where your Democratic opponents have not, in your opinion?
SANDERS: Of course I am prepared to engage in serious debate. But let me throw it back to you. I’ll tell you something else. The American people want to hear serious discussions on why they’re working longer hours for low wages. They want to know about why year after year we have these disastrous trade agreements, why the rich get richer and
everybody else gets poorer. Are you in the media prepared to allow us to engage in that serious debate? Or do I have to get media attention by simply making reckless attacks on Hillary Clinton or anybody else? I don’t believe in that. I believe in serious debates on serious issues.
KEILAR: Senator Bernie Sanders, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate it.
SANDERS: THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. MR. PRESIDENT, AT 2:30 THIS AFTERNOON THE SENATE WILL BE VOTING ON A MOTION TO PROCEED TO THE FAST TRACK BILL THAT THE FINANCE COMMITTEE RECENTLY OPPOSED APPROVED. I WILL BE STRONGLILY OPPOSING THAT LEGISLATION. HERE’S WHY
IN A NUTSHELL HERE IS THE REALITY OF THE AMERICAN ECONOMY TODAY. WHILE WE ARE CERTAINLY BETTER OFF THAN WE WERE SIX AND A HALF YEARS AGO, THE TRUTH IS FOR THE LAST 40 YEARS THE AMERICAN MIDDLE CLASS HAS BEEN DISAPPEARING. THE TRUTH IS THAT TODAY WE HAVE SOME 45 MILLION AMERICANS LIVING IN POVERTY, ALMOST THE HIGHEST RATE IN THE MODERN HISTORY OF AMERICA.
AND WHILE THE MIDDLE CLASS CONTINUES TO SHRINK, WE ARE SEEING MORE INCOME AND WEALTH INEQUALITY THAN AT ANY TIME IN OUR COUNTRY SINCE 1929, AND IT IS WORSE IN AMERICA THAN ANY OTHER MAJOR COUNTRY ON EARTH. TODAY, 99% OF ALL NEW INCOME IS GOING TO THE TOP 1%. TODAY, THE TOP .1% OWNS ALMOST — ALMOST AS MUCH WEALTH AS THE BOTTOM 90%. IN THE LAST TWO YEARS, MR. PRESIDENT, THE 14 WEALTHIEST PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY HAVE SEEN AN INCREASE IN THEIR WEALTH OF $157 BILLION. THAT $157 BILLION IS MORE WEALTH THAN IS OWNED BY THE BOTTOM 130 MILLION AMERICANS.
HOW IS THAT HAPPENING? WHY IS THAT HAPPENING? WE HAVE SEEN A HUGE INCREASE IN TECHNOLOGY, PRODUCTIVITY IS WAY UP, AND THE REALITY IS THAT MOST WORKING PEOPLE SHOULD BE SEEING AN INCREASE IN THEIR INCOME AND YET MEDIAN FAMILY INCOME HAS GONE DOWN BY ALMOST $5,000 SINCE 1999.
HOW DOES IT HAPPEN? WHY IS IT HAPPENING THAT IN THE RICHEST COUNTRY IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD, ALMOST ALL OF THE NEW WEALTH IS NOW IN THE HANDS OF THE FEW WHILE THE VAST MAJORITY OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE WORKING LONGER HOURS FOR LOWER WAGES? HOW DOES IT HAPPEN?
WELL, THERE ARE A LOT OF FACTORS BUT LET ME TELL YOU THAT OUR DISASTROUS TRADE AGREEMENTS — NAFTA, CAFTA, PERMANENT NORMAL TRADE RELATIONS WITH CHINA — ARE CERTAINLY ONE OF THE MAJOR REASONS WHY THE MIDDLE CLASS IS IN DECLINE AND WHY MORE AND MORE INCOME AND WEALTH GOES TO A HANDFUL OF PEOPLE ON THE TOP. PRESIDENT, MR. PRESIDENT, THE — MR. PRESIDENT, THE SAD TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS MANY OF THE NEW JOBS CREATED IN THIS COUNTRY TODAY ARE PART TIME AND LOW-PAYING JOBS.
30 OR 40 YEARS AGO, WORKING PEOPLE WHO MAYBE HAD A HIGH SCHOOL DEGREE COULD GO OUT AND GET A JOB IN A FACTORY. THEY NEVER GOT RICH, IT WASN’T A GLAMOROUS JOB, BUT YOU KNOW WHAT, THEY HAD ENOUGH WAGES AND BENEFITS TO MAKE IT INTO THE MIDDLE CLASS. BUT SINCE 2001, WE HAVE LOST ALMOST 60 THOUSAND FACTORIES — 60,000 FACTORIES IN AMERICA. AND TODAY WHEN YOUNG PEOPLE GRADUATE HIGH SCHOOL THEY DON’T HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO WORK IN A FACTORY AND HAVE A UNION JOB AND MAKE MIDDLE-CLASS BEIGES WAGES. THEIR OPTIONS ARE WAL-MART, McDONALD’S, LOW WAGES, MINIMAL BENEFITS, COMPANIES THAT ARE VEHEMENTLY ANTIUNION.
PRESIDENT, THE SAD TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS THAT WE ARE IN A RACE TO THE BOTTOM. AND NOT ONLY HAVE OUR TRADE AGREEMENTS COST US MILLIONS OF DECENT-PAYING JOBS, BUT THEY HAVE DEPRESSED WAGES IN THIS COUNTRY BECAUSE COMPANIES AND VIRTUALLY EVERY MAJOR MULTINATIONAL CORPORATION IN THIS COUNTRY HAS OUTSOURCED JOBS, SHED MILLIONS OF AMERICAN JOBS. WHAT THEY SAY TO WORKERS IS IF YOU DON’T LIKE THE CUTS IN HEALTH CARE, YOU DON’T LIKE THE CUTS IN WAGES, WE’RE GOING TO GO TO CHINA AND WE CAN HIRE PEOPLE THERE FOR A BUCK AN HOUR. SADLY, MR. PRESIDENT, THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT FOLLOWS IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THESE OTHER DISASTROUS FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS THAT HAVE FORCED AMERICAN WORKERS TO COMPETE AGAINST DESPERATE AND LOW-WAGE WORKERS AROUND THE WORLD.
PRESIDENT, OVER AND OVER AGAIN — AND I HAVE HEARD THIS SO MANY TIMES — I HEARD IT JUST ON THE FLOOR THIS MORNING — SUPPORTERS OF FAST TRACK HAVE TOLD US THAT UNFETTERED FREE TRADE WILL INCREASE AMERICAN JOBS AND WAGES AND WILL BE JUST A WONDERFUL THING FOR THE AMERICAN ECONOMY. SADLY, HOWEVER, THESE FOLKS HAVE BEEN PROVEN WRONG AND WRONG AND WRONG TIME AFTER TIME AFTER TIME. I HEAR THE SAME LANGUAGE AND EVERY TIME WHAT THEY SAY JUST PROVES NOT TO BE TRUE. LET ME JUST MENTION TO YOU SOME QUOTES FROM THE SUPPORTERS OF NAFTA. THIS IS WHAT PEOPLE WERE TELLING US ABOUT HOW GREAT THE FREE TRADE AGREEMENT OR THE NAFTA FREE TRADE AGREEMENT WOULD BE.
ON SEPTEMBER 19, 1993, PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON SAID THE FOLLOWING — HE WAS, OF COURSE, PRESIDENT PUSHING NAFTA IN THE SAME WAY THAT PRESIDENT OBAMA IS TODAY PUSHING THE T.P.P. THIS IS WHAT CLINTON SAID — AND I QUOTE — “I BELIEVE THAT NAFTA WILL CREATE 200,000 AMERICAN JOBS IN THE FIRST TWO YEARS OF ITS EFFECT. I BELIEVE THAT NAFTA WILL CREATE A MILLION JOBS IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS OF ITS IMPACT” — END OF QUOTE.
IN 1993, IT’S NOT JUST LIBERALS LIKE BILL CLINTON, HERE’S THE VERY CONSERVATIVE HERITAGE FOUNDATION IN 1993. THIS IS WHAT THIEVED — AND I QUOTE — “VIRTUALLY ALL ECONOMISTS AGREE THAT NAFTA WILL PRODUCE A NET INCREASE OF U.S. JOBS OVER THE NEXT DECADE” — END OF QUOTE.
1993 THE DISTINGUISHED SENATOR FROM KENTUCKY, OUR MAJORITY LEADER, MITCH McCONNELL, SAID — AND I QUOTE — “AMERICAN FIRMS WILL NOT MOVE TO MEXICO JUST FOR LOWER WAGES” — END OF QUOTE BY MITCH McMcCONNELL.
IS WHAT PRESIDENT CLINTON, IS WHAT THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION, IS THAT WHAT MITCH McCONNELL SAID TURN OUT TO BE CORRECT? OF COURSE, IT DID NOT. WHAT HAPPENED WAS EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT THEY SAID.
ACCORDING TO THE ECONOMISTS AT THE ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE, NAFTA HAS LED TO THE LOSS OF MORE THAN 680,000 JOBS. IN 1993 THE YEAR BEFORE NAFTA WAS IMPLEMENTED, THE UNITED STATES HAD A TRADE SURPLUS WITH MEXICO OF MORE THAN $1.6 BILLION. LAST YEAR THE TRADE DEFICIT WITH MEXICO WAS $53 BILLION. SO ALL OF THE VERBIAGE THAT WE HEARD ABOUT NAFTA BEING SO GOOD FOR AMERICAN WORKERS TURNED OUT TO BE DEAD WRONG.
WHAT ABOUT CHINA? WE WERE TOLD MY GOD, THE CHINESE MARKET WILL BE OPEN, BILLIONS OF PEOPLE, WHAT A OPPORTUNITY TO CREATE GOOD PAYING JOBS IN AMERICA. THIS IS WHAT THE PROPONENTS OF PERMANENT NORMAL TRADE RELATIONS WITH CHINA HAD TO SAY.
PRESIDENT CLINTON AGAIN IN 1999, BILL CLINTON — QUOTE — “IN OPENING THE ECONOMY OF CHAIN THE AGREEMENT WILL CREATE UNPRECEDENTED OPPORTUNITIES FOR AMERICAN FARMERS, WORKERS AND COMPANIES TO COMPETE SUCCESSFULLY IN CHINA’S MARKET. THIS IS A 100-0 DEAL FOR AMERICA WHEN IT COMES TO THE ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES” — END QUOTE.
CONSERVATIVE ECONOMISTS AT THE CATO INSTITUTE IN 1999, THIS IS WHAT THEY SAID: “THE SILLIEST ARGUMENT AGAINST PNTR IS CHINESE IMPORTS WOULD OVERWHELM U.S. INDUSTRY. IN FACT, AMERICAN WORKERS ARE FAR MORE PRODUCTIVE THAN THEIR CHINESE COUNTERPARTS. PNTR WOULD CREATE FAR MORE EXPORT OPPORTUNITIES FOR AMERICA THAN FOR THE CHINESE” — END OF QUOTE.
WOW, WERE THEY WRONG. THE ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE HAS STATED THAT PNTR WITH CHINA HAS LED TO THE NET LOSS OF 2.7 MILLION AMERICAN JOBS. GO TO ANY DEPARTMENT STORE IN AMERICA, WALK IN THE DOOR, WHERE ARE THE PRODUCTS MADE? CHINA, CHINA, CHINA, VIETNAM, OTHER LOW-WAGE COUNTRIES. IN FACT, IT IS HARDER AND HARDER TO BUY A PRODUCT NOT MADE IN CHINA.
SO ALL THOSE PEOPLE WHO TOLD US WHAT A GREAT DEAL PNTR WITH CHINA WOULD BE TURNED OUT TO BE WRONG, DEAD WRONG. IN FACT, OUR TRADE AGREEMENT WITH CHINA HAS COST US ALMOST THREE MILLION JOBS. IN 2001, THE TRADE DEFICIT WITH CHINA WAS $83 BILLION. TODAY IT IS $342 BILLION.
IN 2011 — ON ANOTHER TRADE AGREEMENT — U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, BIG PROPONENTS OF UNFETTERED FREE TRADE, STRONGLY SUPPORTING T.P.P. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE TOLD US WE HAD TO PASS A FREE TRADE AGREEMENT WITH SOUTH KOREA BECAUSE IT WOULD CREATE SOME 280,000 JOBS IN AMERICA. 280,000 JOBS, A LOT OF JOBS. TURNS OUT WRONG AGAIN. IN REALITY, ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE RECENTLY FOUND THAT THE KOREAN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT HAS LED TO THE LOSS OF SOME 75,000 JOBS.
AND NOW, MR. PRESIDENT, THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION SAYS TRUST US. FORGET WHAT THEY SAID ABOUT NAFTA. FORGET WHAT THEY SAID ABOUT KOREA. FORGET WHAT THEY SAID ABOUT CHINA. THIS ONE IS DIFFERENT. REALLY, REALLY. CROSS OUR FINGERS, HOPE TO DIE. THIS ONE IS REALLY, REALLY DIFFERENT.
YES, IT MAY BE TRUE THAT EVERY CORPORATION IN AMERICA, CORPORATIONS THAT HAVE SHUT DOWN FACTORIES IN THIS COUNTRY, MOVED TO CHINA, THEY’RE SUPPORTING THIS AGREEMENT. YEAH, IT’S TRUE THAT WALL STREET, WHOSE GREED AND RECKLESSNESS HAVE ALMOST DESTROYED THE AMERICAN ECONOMY, THEY’RE SUPPORTING THIS AGREEMENT. YES, IT IS TRUE THAT THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY WHO CHARGES US THE HIGHEST PRICES IN THE WORLD FOR PRESCRIPTION DRUGS, THEY’RE SUPPORTING THIS AGREEMENT. BUT NOT TO WORRY, WE SHOULD TRUST THESE GUYS. THEY REALLY ARE THINKING OF THE AMERICAN MIDDLE CLASS AND WORKING FAMILIES. TRUST US.
WHEN THEY TELL US A TRADE AGREEMENT WILL BE GOOD FOR WORKING PEOPLE, YES, WE SHOULD REALLY TRUST THEM. MEANWHILE EVERY TRADE UNION IN AMERICA, THE VAST MAJORITY OF ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS IN THIS COUNTRY, THEY ARE SAYING BE CAREFUL ABOUT T.P.P. VOTE “NO” ON FAST TRACK.
PRESIDENT, HERE IS THE REALITY OF THE AMERICAN ECONOMY. SINCE 2001, WE HAVE LOST 60,000 FACTORIES IN THIS COUNTRY AND WE’VE LOST OVER 4.7 MILLION MANUFACTURING JOBS. IN 1970, 25% OF ALL OF THE JOBS OF THIS COUNTRY WERE IN MANUFACTURING. TODAY THAT FIGURE IS DOWN TO 9%.
AND THE POINT HERE IS THAT BY AND LARGE, ESPECIALLY IF THERE WERE UNIONS, THOSE MANUFACTURING JOBS PAID WORKING PEOPLE A LIVING WAGE, NOT A WAL-MART WAGE, NOT A McDONALD’S WAGE.
OUR DEMAND MUST BE TO CORPORATE AMERICA, WHO TELL US EVERY NIGHT ON TV TO BUY THIS PRODUCT, TO BUY THIS PAIR OF SNEAKERS, TO BUY THIS TELEVISION, TO BUY WHATEVER IT IS, THAT MAYBE, JUST MAYBE THEY MIGHT WANT TO START MANUFACTURING THOSE PRODUCTS HERE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PAY OUR WORKERS A DECENT WAGE RATHER THAN LOOK ALL OVER THE WORLD FOR THE LOWEST POSSIBLE WAGES AT WHICH THEY CAN EXPLOIT WORKERS WHO ARE DESPERATE.
PRESIDENT, I WAS VERY DISAPPOINTED THAT PRESIDENT OBAMA CHOSE THE HEADQUARTERS OF NIKE TO TOUT THE SO-CALLED BENEFITS OF THE T.P.P. NIKE EPITOMIZES WHY DISASTROUS UNFETTERED FREE TRADE POLICIES DURING THE PAST FOUR DECADES HAVE FAILED AMERICAN WORKERS. NIKE DOES NOT EMPLOY A SINGLE MANUFACTURING WORKER WHO MAKES SHOES IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. NOT ONE WORKER. 100% OF THE SHOES THAT ARE SOLD BY NIKE ARE — THAT ARE SOLD BY NIKE ARE MADE OVERSEAS IN LOW-WAGE COUNTRIES.
WHEN NIKE WAS FOUNDED AND THIS IS THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE AMERICAN COUNTRY, WHEN NIKE WAS FOUNDED IN 1964, JUST 4% OF U.S. FOOT WEAR WAS IMPORTED. IN OTHER WORDS, WE MANUFACTURED THE VAST MAJORITY OF THE SHOES AND THE SNEAKERS THAT WE WORE. TODAY NEARLY ALL OF THE SHOES THAT ARE BOUGHT IN THE UNITED STATES ARE MANUFACTURED OVERSEAS. TODAY OVER 330,000 WORKERS MANUFACTURE NIKE’S PRODUCTS IN VIETNAM, WHERE THE MINIMUM WAGE IS 56 CENTS AN HOUR.
AND I HEAR PRESIDENT OBAMA AND OTHER PROPONENTS OF T.P.P. TALKING ABOUT A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD. WE HAVE TO COMPETE ON A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD. DOES ANYBODY THINK COMPETING AGAINST PEOPLE, DESPERATE PEOPLE WHO MAKE 56 CENTS AN HOUR IS A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD, IS FAIR TO AMERICAN WORKERS?
OF COURSE WE WANT THE POOR PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD TO SEE AN INCREASE IN THEIR STANDARD OF LIVING, AND WE’VE GOT TO PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN THAT.
BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO DESTROY THE AMERICAN MIDDLE CLASS TO HELP LOW-INCOME WORKERS AROUND THE WORLD. IN VIETNAM, NOT ONLY IS THE MINIMUM WAGE 56 CENTS AN HOUR, NONPARTISAN — INDEPENDENT LABOR UNIONS ARE BANNED AND PEOPLE ARE THROWN IN JAIL FOR EXPRESSING THEIR POLITICAL BELIEFS. IS THAT THE LEVEL PLAYING FIELD THAT PRESIDENT OBAMA AND OTHER PROPONENTS OF UNFETTERED FREE TRADE ARE TALKING ABOUT?
BACK IN 1988, PHIL KNIGHT — PHIL KNIGHT IS THE FOUNDER AND OWNER OF NIKE — HE SAID THAT NIKE HAD BECOME SYNONYMOUS WITH SLAVE WAGES, FORCED OVERTIME AND ARBITRARY ABUSE. PHIL KNIGHT WAS RIGHT. IN FACT, FACTORIES IN VIETNAM WHERE NIKE SHOES ARE MANUFACTURED HAVE BEEN CITED BY THE WORKERS RIGHTS CONSORTIUM FOR EXCESSIVE OVERTIME, WAGE THEFT AND PHYSICAL MISTREATMENT OF WORKERS. TODAY MR. KNIGHT IS ONE OF THE WEALTHIEST PEOPLE ON THIS PLANET, WORTH MORE THAN $22 BILLION.
WHILE MR. KNIGHT’S NET WORTH HAS MORE THAN TRIPLED SINCE 1999, THE AVERAGE VIETNAMESE WORKER WHO MAKES NIKE SHOES EARNS PENNIES AN HOUR. THAT IS PRETTY MUCH SYNONYMOUS WITH WHAT UNFETTERED FREE TRADE IS ALL ABOUT. A HANDFUL OF PEOPLE LIKE PHIL KNIGHT BECOME MULTI, MULTIBILLIONAIRES AND POOR PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD ARE EXPLOITED AND PAID PENNIES AN HOUR.
PRESIDENT, IT IS NOT JUST NIKE AND IT IS NOT JUST VIETNAM. ANOTHER COUNTRY THAT IS PART OF THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP IS MALAYSIA. TODAY THERE ARE NEARLY 200,000 ELECTRONICS FACTORIES IN MALAYSIA WHERE HIGH-TECH PRODUCTS FROM APPLE, DELL, INTEL, MOTOROLA INSTRUMENTS ARE MANUFACTURED AND BROUGHT BACK TO THE UNITED STATES. IF THE T.P.P. IS APPROVED, THAT NUMBER WILL GO UP SUBSTANTIALLY.
WELL, WHAT’S WRONG WITH THAT? IT TURNS OUT THAT MANY OF THE WORKERS AT THE ELECTRONICS PLANTS IN MALAYSIA ARE BEING FORCED TO WORK THERE UNDER HORRIBLE WORKING CONDITIONS. ACCORDING TO VERITE WHICH CONDUCTED A TWO-YEAR INVESTIGATION INTO LABOR ABUSES IN MALAYSIA, AN INVESTIGATION WHICH WAS COMMISSIONED BY THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, 32% OF THE INDUSTRY’S NEARLY 200,000 MIGRANT WORKERS IN MALAYSIA WERE EMPLOYED IN FORCED SITUATIONS BECAUSE THEIR PASSPORTS HAD BEEN TAKEN AWAY BECAUSE THEY WERE STRAINING TO PAY BACK ILLEGALLY HIGH RECRUITMENT FEES. IN OTHER WORDS, AMERICAN WORKERS ARE GOING TO BE FORCED TO COMPETE AGAINST PEOPLE IN MALAYSIA, IMMIGRANT WORKERS THERE WHOSE PASSPORTS HAVE BEEN TAKEN AWAY, WHO CAN’T LEAVE THE COUNTRY, WHO ARE WORKING UNDER FORCED LABOR SITUATIONS.
SO, MR. PRESIDENT, LET ME CONCLUDE BY SAYING THIS. ALL OF US UNDERSTAND THAT TRADE IS GOOD. IT IS A GOOD THING. BUT I THINK MOST OF US NOW HAVE CAUGHT ON TO THE FACT THAT THE TRADE AGREEMENTS PUSHED BY CORPORATE AMERICA, PUSHED BY WALL STREET, PUSHED BY THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY ARE VERY, VERY GOOD IF YOU ARE THE C.E.O. OF A MAJOR CORPORATION, BUT THEY ARE A DISASTER IF YOU ARE AN AMERICAN WORKER.
SO IT IS MY VIEW THAT WE HAVE GOT TO REBUILD MANUFACTURING IN AMERICA. IT IS MY VIEW THAT WE HAVE GOT TO CREATE MILLIONS OF DECENT-PAYING JOBS IN AMERICA. IT IS MY VIEW THAT WE NEED TO FUNDAMENTALLY REWRITE OUR TRADE AGREEMENTS SO THAT OUR LARGEST EXPORT DOES NOT BECOME DECENT-PAYING AMERICAN JOBS.
SO I WOULD URGE MY COLLEAGUES TO VOTE “NO” ON THE FAST-TRACK AGREEMENT. LET US SIT DOWN AND WORK ON TRADE AGREEMENTS THAT WORK FOR THE AMERICAN MIDDLE CLASS, THAT WORK FOR OUR WORKING PEOPLE AND NOT JUST FOR THE C.E.O.’S OF THE LARGEST CORPORATIONS IN THIS COUNTRY.
AND WITH THAT, MR. PRESIDENT, I WOULD YIELD THE FLOOR, AND I BELIEVE NOTE THE ABSENCE OF A QUORUM.