The Barefoot Accountant of Accountants CPA Hartford, Connecticut, LLC, presents the video and transcript of an interview of Senator Bernie Sanders conducted by Ed Schultz on The Ed Show on May 19, 2015.
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.
Sanders: Thank you.