Bill Curry: “In some ways, you would be [surprised that the polls in Connecticut are busy today]. Last week, on the Democratic side, every story said that it’s all over for Bernie; it’s so difficult to put this nomination together. And Bernie supporters really do feel that they are part of the revolution. They really do feel that this is a movement. Their dissatisfaction with the party leadership is really deep. And it turns out that nothing can keep them from showing up. Hearing a week of negative stories doesn’t seem to dampen their spirits at all. He has a real chance here…
On the Hillary side, on the establishment’s side, you hear a lot of calls for Sanders to drop out. And the thing is, this has always been about two things: this is about the base of the party in a revolt against its elites. This is not just in the Democratic party but in both parites. If you look at Sanders and Trump, it’s not just a left insurrection or a right insurrection, this is an insurrection of the broad middle class against the entire political establishment. This is a revolt against corruption in the eyes, I believe, of a solid majority of Americans.
So when the pundits on the national television say, maybe this next round will wind it up, there’s no reason for the Republicans to surrender their party to Trump, and there’s no reason for the Sanders supporters to give up their fight. And so it’s not just a question of picking a nominee, on each side they are trying to secure a future here. It’s going to go all the way to both conventions regardless of the results….
The largest rally on the [New Haven] green since the Black Panther’s trial of 1970. I think it’s been 40 years since a crowd that large assembled in New Haven for any reason. Having spent the last few years worrying that the grassroots democracy was just about dying out, the campaign trail was like the streets of Laredo with swinging saloon doors, tumbleweed bouncing down an empty Main Street, and suddenly the rooms are full in both parties. Suddenly these rallies are full.
If you want to take a step back from it, there’s a really hopeful sign here of a public that won’t give up on its democracy. That’s really good news.”
NERMEEN SHAIKH: I’d like to turn to an ad produced by the Emergency Committee for Israel, which alleges that Trump supports dictators. The ad started airing last month.
JAKE TAPPER: The world would be better off with Saddam Hussein—
DONALD TRUMP: Hundred percent.
JAKE TAPPER: —and Gaddafi in power?
DONALD TRUMP: A hundred percent.
Looking at Assad and saying maybe he’s better than the kind of people that we’re supposed to be backing.
And I think Russia can be a positive force and an ally.
But, you know, whether you like Saddam Hussein or not, he used to kill terrorists.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Glenn Greenwald, in one of your recent articles, you suggest that Hillary Clinton has demonstrated comparable support for what you call, quote, “the world’s worst despots.”
GLENN GREENWALD: Well, two things. You know, that article that I wrote about Hillary Clinton grew out of the debate where she attacked Bernie Sanders for comments he made in the 1980s in which he said positive things both about Fidel Castro and also the Sandinistan government in Nicaragua, and she very self-righteously said, “How could you possibly praise a government that is oppressive and tyrannical.” And yet, if you look at Hillary Clinton’s record, not in the 1980s, but far more recently, in the last five to six years, she has embraced and expressed extreme levels of support for some of the world’s most brutal and horrific dictators. She called President Mubarak of Egypt a close personal friend of her family and expressed all kinds of support for him at the time that the government, of which she was a part, was arming and funding him. She did the same with the Saudis. The Clinton Foundation has raised money from some of the worst and most oppressive dictatorships in the Persian Gulf, including the Saudis and the Qataris and the Emirates and the Bahrainis. Hillary Clinton, essentially, her record has been one of embracing and supporting, in all kinds of ways, the world’s worst tyrants.
The other aspect that I would add is that, you know, not just those Persian Gulf regimes, but one of the things that Hillary Clinton has done, with very little notice, has been to make a central part of her campaign embracing not just the right-wing Israeli government, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu herself—himself. She’s written op-eds in Jewish journals and in The Forward talking about the need to get even closer to Israel, if you can imagine that. And then the speech she just gave to AIPAC was about the most disgustingly militaristic, hawkish, pro-Israel speech, I think, that you could ever possibly hear, without the slightest even pretense of concern for people in Palestine or in Libya, where she supported a war that has caused great instability, or in Iraq, where she supported a war that has imposed huge amounts of suffering. And so it’s very easy to talk about Donald Trump being close to dictators or being dangerous, but there has been a huge amount of Hillary Clinton’s record that has spawned immense amounts of tyranny and violence in the world, that Democrats and progressives are steadfastly ignoring.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to a clip of Hillary Clinton addressing AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
HILLARY CLINTON: Many of the young people here today are on the front lines of the battle to oppose the alarming boycott, divestment and sanctions movement known as BDS. … We must repudiate all efforts to malign, isolate and undermine Israel and the Jewish people.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Hillary Clinton addressing AIPAC. Glenn Greenwald?
GLENN GREENWALD: What she’s doing there is affirming one of the most vile slanders that currently exists. There is a campaign in the United States and in Israel to literally outlaw any advocacy of a boycott movement against Israel, similar to the boycott and divestment and sanctions campaign that brought down Israel and the United States’s closest ally, which was the apartheid regime in South Africa. Now you can certainly raise objections to the tactic of boycotting Israel, and lots of people have, but to render it illegal depends upon this grotesque equating of an advocacy of a boycott of Israel with anti-Semitism and then saying that because anti-Semitism should be banned from universities or from private institutions, that it should be literally outlawed, to ban advocating the boycott of Israel, as well. And people in Europe are actually being arrested for advocating a boycott of Israel. Students in American universities are being sanctioned and punished for doing so.
And what Hillary Clinton did was go before AIPAC and pander, as grotesquely as she typically does, by affirming this line that if you “malign,” quote-unquote, the government of Israel and support a boycott of it, in opposition to their decades-long occupation of the Palestinians, it means essentially that you’re guilty of maligning the Jewish people. She is conflating the government of Israel with Jews, which, ironically enough, is itself a long-standing anti-Semitic trope. But it’s just part of her moving to the right in order to position herself for the general election by affirming some of the United States government’s worst and most violent policies.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, Democratic candidate Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was the only one to skip the AIPAC conference earlier this week. He did address the issue on the campaign trail, though, from Utah, calling for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: It is absurd for elements within the Netanyahu government to suggest that building more settlements in the West Bank is the appropriate response to the most recent violence. It is also not acceptable that the Netanyahu government decided to withhold hundreds of millions of shekels in tax revenue from the Palestinians, which it is supposed to collect on their behalf.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Bernie Sanders in Utah. Glenn Greenwald, I believe he did offer to address AIPAC by video stream or Skype, as did Romney in 2012, but we heard he was told no.
GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah, I mean, a couple months ago, Donald Trump, on an MSNBC program, said, when asked about Israel and Palestine, that he thought the U.S. should be neutral in order to be a more effective arbiter, which until 20 years ago was a standard mainstream U.S. position, but now has become very shocking. Same with what Bernie Sanders just said. To hear a prominent American politician stand up and actually criticize Israel in such stark and blunt terms, calling them occupiers, essentially, and criticizing how they’re treating the Palestinians, is almost shocking to the ear. Hillary Clinton would never do it, nor would leading Republican politicians. And yet it’s really a very mild way to talk about Israel. And it shows just how far to the right the discourse has shifted in the United States when it comes to Israel, and how much a part of that rightward shift is Hillary Clinton, when you think about how almost shocking it is to hear pretty mild criticisms of Israel coming from Sanders or mild proclamations of neutrality coming from Trump.
AMY GOODMAN: Very quickly, before we end, Glenn, the issue of encryption, again raised, of course, in the aftermath of the Brussels attacks, but the whole battle between the government, the FBI and Apple?
GLENN GREENWALD: The government’s attempt to make sure that nobody can use encryption to keep them out of private communications is based on continuous deceit. They falsely claimed that the Paris attackers used encryption, when they had no idea if it was true. They’re already making that claim about the Brussels attackers, even though there’s no suggestion that it’s true. And the whole campaign against Apple was based on what turned out to be a total lie, which is that they needed Apple to help them break into the San Bernardino phone, when all along they could have done it themselves. And it’s up to the media to check these claims on the part of the government, and, of course, the media has been very lax in doing so.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we want to thank you, Glenn, for staying with us. We’re going to talk to you for a few more minutes after this broadcast, and we’ll post it online at democracynow.org. Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, his piece for The Intercept is headlined “Brazil Is Engulfed by Ruling Class Corruption—and a Dangerous Subversion of Democracy.” Another recent piece, “The Rise of Trump Shows the Danger and Sham of Compelled Journalistic ‘Neutrality.'” We’ll link to these and many others at democracynow.org.
RADDATZ: That’s Hillary Clinton’s top rival, Bernie Sanders there, working the crowds this week on New Year’s Eve. In just a moment, Bernie Sanders will join me.
But first we go inside the growing feud between Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, who’s about to hit the campaign trail for his wife, Hillary, as ABC News Cecilia Vega reports, Trump’s new attacks on his former friend, Bill Clinton, are dominating the Democratic race in the New Year.
CECILIA VEGA, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A year ago it seemed the presidency might be Hillary Clinton’s race to lose.
Who would have thought 12 months later a Democratic Socialist from Vermont and a billionaire reality TV star would pose the biggest threat to her dreams?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Are you ready for a radical idea?
VEGA: Her main challenger, Senator Bernie Sanders, continues to draw large and enthusiastic crowds.
SANDERS: We have received 2.5 million individual contributions, more than any campaign in the history of the United States of America.
VEGA: And this week a twist, ugly attacks from a former friend. Just a few years ago, Trump had nothing but praise for the Clintons…
TRUMP: Hillary is a great friend of mine, her husband is a great friend of mine, they’re fantastic people.
VEGA: Now aiming his attacks only at his potential rival, but taking shots at Hillary’s husband as well.
TRUMP: She wants to accuse me of things? And the husband is one of the great abusers of the world? Give me a break. Give me a break.
VEGA: Those attacks not stopping Clinton from bringing what she calls her secret weapon to the campaign trails.
Tomorrow, the former president heads to New Hampshire, a place where both Clintons have enjoyed political comebacks. But this time, this is Sander’s backyard where he’s been leading in the polls since August.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let’s make this happen. I need your help. I need your support.
VEGA: For This Week, Cecelia Vega, ABC News, New York
RADDATZ: Our thanks to Cecelia.
Bernie Sanders is hard at work on the campaign trail this holiday weekend. And he joins me this morning from New Hampshire. Happy new year, Senator Sanders.
We noticed that today is the 25th anniversary of your first day in Congress. Twenty five years, what do you say to critics who say the country needs a president from outside Washington and not a career politician?
SANDERS: Well, what I say is if you study my record, I’m not exactly a career politician. Martha, during my tenure in the Congress, I have taken on virtually every powerful special interest from Wall Street to the insurance companies to the pharmaceutical industry to the military-industrial complex.
What my campaign is about is standing up to the billionaire class today, and making certain that we do not continue to see the decline of the American middle class, where people are working longer hours for lower wages and almost all new income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent. That is the issue that I find that the American people are most concerned about, the decline of the middle class, massive income and wealth inequality, and a corrupt campaign finance system.
RADDATZ: Well, let me take you back to 1990 on election night. This is what you said. “We need a mass movement of tens of millions of people prepared to say that we want national health care, that we want the millionaires and multi-national corporations who are not paying their fair share, to pay their fair share.”
That sounds an awful lot like Bernie Sanders 2015, but you haven’t really been able to create that mass movement. How can we imagine that you’ll do it now?
SANDERS: Well, Martha, we’re doing pretty well. You know, I started this campaign at 3 percent in the polls. There were some polls that had me out recently at 39 percent. Come to my meetings. They’re huge all over the United States of America.
And what we are seeing is mass dissatisfaction on the part of the middle class. We’re seeing people who are really upset that they can’t afford to send their kids to college. They can’t afford childcare. The rich are getting richer; almost everybody else is getting poorer. And what people are saying is, you know, it’s absurd. That with massive income…
RADDATZ: Let me turn to Iowa.
SANDERS: …and wealth inequality…
RADDATZ: Let me turn to Iowa, Senator Sanders. This is what you recently said at a campaign stop.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: Let me tell you a secret, don’t tell anybody. I don’t want to get Secretary Clinton nervous.
SANDERS: I think we’re going to win here in Iowa.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: I don’t know how nervous Secretary Clinton is about that. She has consistently led in the polls in Iowa through the latter part of 2015. What can you possibly do to try to stop that momentum in just four weeks?
SANDERS: Martha, should have been with us in our last trips to Iowa. The turnouts that we’re seeing in big towns and in small towns are extraordinary. The enthusiasm is very, very strong. I think that people are tired of establishment politics and establishment economics. And they are also tired of a corrupt campaign finance system in super PACs that allows billionaires to purchase elections. That’s not what the American people want.
And one of the manifestations of that is the kind of incredible fundraising that we have been doing in terms of small, individual donations. We have 2.5 million small, individual contribution-style campaign. That is more than any campaign in the history of the United States of America, and I think that speaks to the enthusiasm and support that we’re getting at the grassroots.
RADDATZ: Hillary Clinton has Bill Clinton joining her on the campaign trail there in New Hampshire this week. Donald Trump and Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus think Bill Clinton’s sexual history is fair game. Do you?
SANDERS: No, I don’t. I think, you know, we have enormous problems facing this country and I think we got more things to worry about than Bill Clinton’s sexual life. I think — interestingly enough, maybe Donald Trump might want to focus attention on climate change, understand that climate change is not a hoax, as he believes that it is, that maybe Donald Trump should understand that we should raise the minimum wage in this country, which he opposes, and maybe we should not be giving huge tax breaks to fellow billionaires like Donald Trump.
So I think maybe he should focus on those things.
RADDATZ: You have had some very harsh words for Donald Trump recently and you said you wanted to stay away from personal attacks…
RADDATZ: …in this campaign.
RADDATZ: Some of the things you’ve said, like calling him a pathological liar, have been pretty personal.
SANDERS: Yes. The truth is I do not get engaged in personal attacks, but Trump really is over the edge. He has attacked me very ferociously and has called me a liar because I point that out, that nobody else has seen on television thousands of Muslims celebrating the destruction of the Twin Towers.
Time after time, this guy just comes up with things off the top of his head that are lies. And somebody has got to say that he is a pathological liar.
RADDATZ: Senator Sanders, President Obama is reportedly considering executive action that would require unlicensed gun dealers to get licensed by the ATF and conduct background checks on potential buyers. Recent polling shows three in four Americans thinks it’s important that there be bipartisan consensus before implementing gun control. Is an executive action that circumvents Congress the right way to do it?
SANDERS: Well, I wish that we could get bipartisan action on gun safety legislation. I think the American people have been horrified by the mass shootings we’ve seen over the last couple of years. What I think we need to do, among many other things, is do away with the so-called gun show loophole where people are — do not have to go through the instant background check.
Martha, there is a wide consensus, overwhelming majority of the American people believe we should expand and strengthen the instant background checks so that people who should not have guns, are i.e. criminals or people with mental issues, mental health issues, should not guns. I think that’s what the president is trying to do and I think that will be the right thing to do.
RADDATZ: And very quickly, Senator Sanders, on the campaign trail last week, you said that the retaking of Ramadi in Iraq is a model for destroying ISIS and that training of Iraqi troops may have turned things around. Eighty percent of the reason Ramadi is falling is because of coalition air strikes, though. That’s what you think should continue?
SANDERS: Right. I think it has to be Muslim troops on the ground who are fighting for the soul of Islam, supported by U.S., French, U.K., German, other major powers, and using our air superiority.
RADDATZ: Might be very difficult to get those ground troops, but thank you very much, Senator Sanders.
RADDATZ: OK, let me move on in the short time we have. Let me move on to the next few months. “The New York Times” this week looked back through old polls and it turned out those candidates who have led in Iowa or New Hampshire, polls with just one month to go, have lost as often as they have won.
So any predictions of a shakeup?
I want to start with you, Matt. Just look at the races and what you think we’ll see in the next couple of months.
BAI: I would never make a prediction —
RADDATZ: He would never —
BAI: — no, I wouldn’t, at this point —
RADDATZ: — I want you to tell us what’s going to —
BAI: I was there, you know, in Iowa this week. I can tell you that it’s cold and I predict it will stay that way. And I think — this is a very fluid race to me still. Now maybe not. I mean, Alex and I were talking in Iowa. I think that one of the key numbers here is no matter how you divide it up, no matter where the polling’s been, 60-plus percent of the Republican electorate has identified with an extreme outsider, like a Ted Cruz or a Donald Trump or Ben Carson. And that tells you that maybe it doesn’t matter how this thing shakes out in the end, you know, the governing wing of the party, even if they congeal around a candidate, might not have the support.
But I think that’s still very fluid. I think Chris Christie’s very much in play, New Hampshire, and actually getting big crowds in Iowa. Marco Rubio’s still doing quite well. You know, I don’t think Jeb Bush and John Kasich are dead in New Hampshire and I think we’re going to see —
RADDATZ: And you talking — you’re talking Ted Cruz.
CASTELLANOS: — that candidate leading a month out doesn’t win, gosh, I hope that’s right about Ted Cruz in Iowa. But right now, I’d say Ted Cruz does win Iowa. There’s a chance that Donald Trump slightly underperforms because he is doing worse in early states than he is nationally. And usually it’s kind of a tell as you get closer to picking a real president, ehh, maybe he’s not the guy you want in the big chair.
So he underperforms. We go to New Hampshire. What happens there? New Hampshire looks to validate an alternative.
Who is that?
Well, right now, it’s probably Trump again. But that’s the opening for an establishment candidate; I think Rubio is capped by Christie.
What does that mean?
Christie’s got — by Cruz. Christie’s got a lane. If Christie can gel in New Hampshire, that could be the three-way race you’re —
RADDATZ: Well, Rubio had a lot of media energy this week, emerging as the establishment candidate to beat or as “Politico” put it, “establishment rivals rip into Rubio,” but some reality checks to you.
Had David Axelrod tweeting, “But where does he win?”
STEWART: So the key is —
RADDATZ: Where does Rubio win?
STEWART: — the key is Iowa is so important. But as you say, the last at least two cycles we’ve had, the winner of Iowa, who I worked for in the caucuses, did not go onto win the nomination.
The key is having a strong organization and ground game in Iowa but executing the same plan in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada and through the early states.
And racking up that magic 1,237 delegates needed in order to become the nominee. And I see that happening with the candidate who has strong ground game in Iowa, New Hampshire, all through the SEC states and showing that they’re able to be in this for the long haul, which means organization on the ground and the money to maintain as well an air campaign.
And right now I see that between the top three —
RADDATZ: — let’s hit the Democrats, first Sanders —
RADDATZ: — Martin O’Malley.
JONES: You talked about the person we always talk about, Donald Trump. Let’s talk about the person we never talk about, we just heard from.
Bernie Sanders has incredible momentum. He’s had almost a media blackout. We — I mean, he’s almost never the subject of the main conversation. But out in the country, you see a lot of Bernie Sanders support. He got more contributions, individual donors, than anybody in American history. That by itself lets you know something’s going on.
I think he’s going to win Iowa. He may win New Hampshire. And —
RADDATZ: — not afraid —
JONES: I’m not afraid — listen, I love Hillary Clinton. She will be our nominee. But there is something happening in this party that — and when you combine the authenticity of a Bernie Sanders with the popularity of his agenda.
You don’t like his agenda, there’s — being tough on Wall Street, very popular, across the board in America.
RADDATZ: OK. We’ll have a bit more of you guys later.
On Friday, the Democratic National Committee suspended the Bernie Sanders campaign’s access to a critical database after finding his staffers improperly viewed front-runner Hillary Clinton’s proprietary information when a computer glitch made it briefly available. The DNC backed down after Sanders filed suit, but the Sanders campaign has accused party leadership of trying to thwart the Vermont senator’s bid. The DNC has also been accused of trying to help Clinton by limiting the number of debates and scheduling them on low-viewership periods like Saturday nights. Bill Curry, political columnist at Salon.com and former White House counselor to President Clinton, argues that the DNC is deliberately blocking debate and that chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz should resign as a result. “This is supposed to be a political party. In a healthy society, there would be a democratic process in the Democratic Party, by which elected people would be overseeing these issues by making sure there wasn’t just nepotism and insider dealing,” Curry says. “That the political party itself — which is supposed to be the progressive party — has become mortgaged to a small group of Washington insiders, who raise money from large corporate PACs, [and] has become just a dead carcass of what it once was, is the most important piece of information that this contretemps over the data files has emphasized. It’s time for progressives in this country to stand up and demand a genuinely democratic process.”
AMY GOODMAN: Before we go to Phyllis on this issue of Deborah Wasserman Schultz, who is the Florida congress member, who’s head of the Democratic National Committee, Bernie Sanders has not gone this far, but you’re saying she, herself, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, must go. Why?
BILL CURRY: Yeah, absolutely. First of all, you know, when the—Bernie’s spokesperson in the earlier segment did a wonderful job. I would just add, though, that it wasn’t the DNC that shut down the debates. It was Ms. Schultz. There was no meeting. There weren’t no notice. There are no minutes. All the other members of that committee never got to say—there have been at least two vice chairs have come forward and said they read about it after the fact in the newspaper. No one else has claimed to have been informed in advance.
AMY GOODMAN: About?
BILL CURRY: It was a decision that Hillary—about the decision to have—to go from 26 debates in 2008 to six debates, three of them on a weekend, for 2016. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Hillary Clinton made that choice together.
In this contracting dispute, the contractor, a company of which Schultz’s nephew was a principal, and all of the principals have worked either previous—in various ways for different Clinton campaigns in the past, if you’re the Bernie Sanders campaign or the—
AMY GOODMAN: The ones that run the database.
BILL CURRY: The one—I’m sorry, the ones that run the database. For anybody to think they’re getting due process, when there’s such a small cabal making all the decisions—this is supposed to be a political party. In a healthy society, there would be a democratic process in the Democratic Party, by which elected people would be overseeing these issues by making sure there wasn’t just nepotism and insider dealing, and making sure that the public was able to see how this process works. That the political party itself, that what is supposed to be the progressive party, has become mortgaged to a small group of Washington insiders, who raise money from large corporate PACs, who are dependent upon them for their life, who pursue their own careers, that the party itself has become just a dead carcass of what it once was is the most important piece of information that this contretemps over the data files has revealed, or emphasized, because it’s been revealed a hundred other ways, including in the shutting down of debate. It’s time for progressives in this country to stand up and demand a genuinely democratic process—if nothing else, from the Democratic Party, a democratic process.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring Phyllis Bennis back into this conversation for the last minute we have. Phyllis, for the overall issues, we talked about what was raised, what wasn’t, by the journalists—they didn’t raise climate change, they didn’t talk about the issue of immigration—but where you feel the Democratic Party is going right now?
PHYLLIS BENNIS: You know, I think that what we were seeing here is that Hillary Clinton is not running in a Democratic Party primary. She’s running in the general election, with the assumption, the entitlement, that she will be the candidate. And that’s a huge problem.
I mean, everything that Bill Curry just said I think is absolutely right. I think that what we have to recognize is that this so-called two-party system is not working. This is what we’re seeing in Spain in the victory of Podemos over the weekend and the possibility of breaking the monopoly of a two-party system where there’s just not enough differences on certain key issues. There are differences—I don’t want to minimize the differences between the two parties here—but they’re not nearly what they need to be, and there’s not a democratic process within either party. We don’t have a democratic democracy—small-d democrat. So, I think that what we’re looking at is a situation in which the clear differences—there are clear differences on climate, there are clear differences on the economy. I disagree a little bit—
AMY GOODMAN: We have 10 seconds.
PHYLLIS BENNIS: I disagree that there was not clarity from Bernie Sanders. I think he made a very compelling case on the economic side. On the issues, the crucial issues of war, the notion that you can go to war against terrorism, none of these candidates were prepared to say, “You can’t bomb terrorism. You can only bomb people, and that creates more terrorism, not less.”
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’ll have to leave it there. But, of course, we’ll continue to cover these issues. Phyllis Bennis, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, and Bill Curry, weekly columnist with Salon.com. We’ll link to your articles.
DICKERSON: We’re back now with Senator Bernie Sanders, who is in Burlington, Vermont, this morning.
Senator Sanders, the president is going to address the nation tonight. If you were president, what would you say?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I would say is that we have got to be as aggressive as we can in destroying ISIS, but we have to learn the lessons of the past.
And that means we cannot do it alone. It must be an international coalition, in which the Muslim nations are the troops on the ground. King Abdullah of Jordan, whose country has been playing a heroic role dealing with refugees and ISIS, made the point that it is the Muslim nations that are fighting for the soul of Islam who have got to lead the effort in crushing ISIS. The United States, the U.K., France, Russia, Iran, other countries around the world have got to be supportive, but the troops on the ground have got to be Muslim nations.
And I believe very strongly that we need to put that coalition together. We need to put it together as soon as possible. But I do believe we have got to learn the lessons from Iraq.
I hear a lot of tough talk coming from my Republican opponents out there. They are really tough guys. But I heard that back in 2002 from George W. Bush. He was wrong. The invasion of Iraq was one of the worst foreign policy blunders in the history of this country and in many ways precipitated exactly where we are today.
So, yes, we have got to be tough, but we have got to be smart. And that means an international coalition with Muslim troops on the ground supported by Western democracies with airpower and other military efforts.
But the troops on the ground to crush ISIS have got to be led by the Muslim nations.
DICKERSON: That’s the foreign policy piece.
What is your feeling — what would you message be about America and the threat in the homeland security sphere of this conversation?
SANDERS: Well, obviously, we have got to do everything that we can to protect the American people. That’s a no-brainer.
And that means much tougher screening policies than we have right now. I think Secretary of Homeland Security Johnson is right. We should have more agents placed in other countries around the world. And it’s not just Muslim countries that we have to worry about. There are other countries as well that people can slip in to this country.
Second of all, I think we need to do much, much better work, not only in our intelligence efforts, but in coordinating international intelligence. I think, clearly, Paris was an intelligence failure. And we need to be tapping the intelligence information that is being ascertained from countries all over the world.
DICKERSON: Democrats are going to notice that you didn’t list gun control in your responses. A lot of Democrats, including the president, who will address it tonight, think gun control is an answer to this.
SANDERS: No, I — well, I was just at a press conference the other day talking about the need for gun — increased gun control.
I don’t think anybody believes it’s a magic formula. Clearly, though, there is an obvious commonsense consensus, John, in this country that guns should not be falling into the hands of people who should not be having them.
And, obviously, that goes without saying. I don’t think it’s very hard to understand that terrorists or potential terrorists should not have guns. People who are being barred from flying on airplanes should not have guns. I believe we must improve and expand instant background checks.
I believe we have got to do away with this gun show loophole. About 40 percent of the guns in this country are sold outside of the purview of the instant background check process. I think we need — I agree with “The New York Times.” I think it does not make sense to me that we have guns designed for military purposes that can kill enormous numbers of people in a very short period of time being sold and distributed in the United States.
And I support a ban on assault weapons. I think we need to do away with the straw man provision so that people can legally buy guns, but then give them to criminals.
And I think we need a revolution in mental health. And that revolution is about making sure that the many thousands of people who are walking the streets of America today who are suicidal or homicidal get the help they need, and they get it now, not two months from now.
Senator Sanders, we need to take a break right now, but we’re going to ask you to stay with us.
And we will be back with Senator Sanders in a moment.
DICKERSON: CBS News will carry President Obama’s address to the nation tonight on the San Bernardino shooting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 5:00 p.m. Pacific. Scott Pelley will anchor our special report.
We will be right back.
DICKERSON: Some of our CBS stations are leaving us now, but, for most of you, we will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION, including more with Senator Bernie Sanders and our political panel.
Stay with us.
DICKERSON: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. I’m John Dickerson.
We’re back with Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders.
Senator Sanders, I want to continue on with the conversation a little bit with — of on gun control. So many Democratic voters I’ve talked to in the wake of the San Bernardino shootings are concerned about this. One of the questions they wanted to ask — wanted me to ask you is whether you regret having voted to protect gun manufacturers, giving them that immunity. What’s your feeling on that now?
SANDERS: Well, I come from a rural state that has no gun control at all. I think the votes that I have cast over the last 25 years have been strong votes for protecting the American people from gun violence. That one particular vote, there were thing in it that make sense to me. There are things in it that do not make sense to me and I’ve said many times, I’m willing to rethink that piece of legislation and make it more effective. If a gun manufacturer understands and knows that the product that he is selling to a community is really getting out to criminal elements, that gun manufacturer should be held liable for what the company is doing.
DICKERSON: In retrospect, though, do you think it was a mistake, that vote?
SANDERS: There were elements in that vote back then that did make sense. In the sense that if a small gun shop owner in the state of Vermont sells a product, a gun, legally to somebody else who then goes out does something crazy, do I think that that small gun shop owner should be held liable for legally selling the product, no, I don’t. But I think, bottom line is, that we should be rethinking that legislation and we should be doing everything that we can as a country to make sure that weapons do not get into the hands of people who should not have them.
DICKERSON: Because of your experience from a rural state and your understanding of that, you’ve talked about being a bridge builder between the Democrats, who would like to see gun control and Second Amendment, those who care about the Second Amendment. So tell me how you would build that bridge in this instance, because when I talked to some conservatives they say, look, this is a situation in which a man went and killed his co-workers and a mother dropped of her six month old baby. You’re not going to stop those kind of premeditated killers with any gun control.
SANDERS: Well, let me answer it in two ways. For a start, there is a split, a political split on this country on guns, and everybody knows that. Every poll indicates that. But I think, John, there is a broad consensus of focusing on the reality that the vast majority of the American people, not everybody, by the way, but the vast majority understand that we have got to do everything that we can to prevent guns from falling into the hands of people who should not have them.
And who are those people? Obviously, criminal people. People who are in to domestic violence. People who will use guns to kill other people. People who are mentally ill and should not have those guns. The vast majority of the American people believe that. And I believe that what we should be doing is improving and expanding instant background checks.
Second of all, if you believe that, which most Americans believe, but most Americans also believe is you don’t want an obvious loophole that allows guns to be sold to people who are criminals or mentally ill. That means shut — ending the gun show loophole.
DICKERSON: Senator —
SANDERS: That means ending the strong man situation.
DICKERSON: I don’t want to leave without —
SANDERS: And I think there is a consensus, John. Yes.
DICKERSON: Let’s talk about climate change. I know that was an important issue for Democrats this week. You got a new plan coming out. It has a carbon tax as a part of it. Might that not scare people who think they’re —
DICKERSON: Tell me about that.
SANDERS: All right. Well, John, I mean this is not a plan for Democrats. Pope Francis recently said something, which I think is profound, and he’s right, as he often is. And what he said is, this planet is on a suicidal direction in terms of climate change. And it is beyond my comprehension that we can have a Republican Party and Republican candidates who are more concerned about getting huge campaign contributions from the Koch brothers and Exxon Mobil and the coal industry than they are about accepting what the overwhelming majority of scientists are saying. And that is, climate change is real, caused by human activity and already causing major and devastating problems in our country and around the world.
And what the scientists are telling us — we are — telling us is, if we do not act boldly and aggressively now, which is what my legislation does, massive cuts in carbon pollution, if we don’t do it now, the planet that we are going to be leaving to our children and grandchildren may very well be uninhabitable and in much worse shape than the planet is today. We have a moral obligation to move aggressively to transform our energies —
SANDERS: Away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy and that is what my legislation does.
DICKERSON: All right.
SANDERS: So if you want to talk about being frightened, I am frightened about the planet we’re going to leave our kids if we don’t act.
DICKERSON: All right, Senator Bernie Sanders, we’re going to have to leave it there. Thank you so much for being with us.
Dennis House: The Berlin High School football recruiting scandal continues tonight. Eyewitness News has learned it cost you the taxpayer tens of thousands of dollars. Eyewitness News reporter Matthew Campbell is live at Veterans Memorial Stadium in New Britain where the rivalry between Berlin and New Britain is about to go down.
Matthew Campbell: The game’s gonna kick in about an hour or so and let me tell you the bad blood will be boiling over between New Britain and Berlin. Take a look behind me as the band just actually came into the stadium. There’s two separate entrances: one for New Britain and one for the Berlin fans as well.
And extra security has been added here all after this recruiting scandal that was uncovered by New Britain. Now if it wasn’t uncovered, taxpayers in Berlin would continue paying for players that didn’t live there.
As another chapter in the annual wishbone rivalry is about to be written, an asterisk will forever be placed to this year’s game after the CIAC Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference discovered Berlin was recruiting players from New Britain.
Stephanie Santa: “…I feel very sorry for these boys because they were given something and then it was taken away.”
Matthew Campbell: The four ineligible players from New Britain were taking away spots on the field and seats in the classroom that were always intended for kids from Berlin.
Carol Argazzi: “…weren’t able maybe to have a position on the team because somebody else unfairly took it from them.”
Matthew Campbell: The CIAC handed down punishments this week. The four players from New Britain are banned from ever playing again. Berlin head coach John Capodice suspended by the district. But the scandal goes far beyond the gridiron. It hits taxpayers in their wallets.
Dr. Karissa Niehoff: “Each district is a little bit different but it for a family to come in and take advantage of another school’s resources like that, you know, if you do it for multiple years, you’re talking a lot of money.”
Matthew Campbell: In Berlin the superintendent confirms that each high school student cost taxpayers $14,982 a year. In these four cases that’s money that was being spent on New Britain kids seemingly just to gain an edge here on the field.
Stephanie Santa: “I feel pretty robbed.”
Matthew Campbell: Taxpayers will foot another bill. The CIAC fined Berlin $4,000: a thousand for each violation. The team also had to vacate all wins. So the majority of players, all of whom are innocent, have no shot at the playoffs.
Stephanie Santa: “I feel really bad for the football players because they’ve worked really, you know, from Berlin, well all of them, but they’ve worked really hard for these wins and those were also taken away.”
Matthew Campbell: A live look here at Veterans Memorial as this game will kick in about an hour. And this game will be played for pride. Roaming the sidelines for Berlin will be assistant coach Rob Levesque. The long-term future for Coach Capodice: that’s still unknown.
That’s the latest live here with the mobile newsroom in New Britain.
There are approximately 5,000 unaffiliated registered voters in Berlin, Connecticut in comparison to approximately 4,000 Democratic voters and 3,000 Republican voters. There must be reasons why voters did not register with either of the two major political parties.
Perhaps one of the reasons so many voters registered as unaffiliated was because of their disgust with major political parties. At the national level, our government has encountered gridlock on many important issues, leaving serious problems unresolved. Immigration, tax reform, money in politics, unfair trade agreements, invasion of privacy, are just some of the issues that a majority of American voters want addressed in this country.
On the Town Council in Berlin, Connecticut, we have witnessed voting by members on key important financial matters along strict party lines even though each election cycle we have been assured that they would reach across the aisle to work with those who belong to a different political party. The result, in my opinion, has been the party in power succeeding in promoting its party’s economic agenda, whether it be in the best interests of the citizens of Berlin.
Results of referendums have been largely ignored, if not dismissed entirely. Taxes this year have increased 4.7% over those of the previous year even though real disposable income of the majority of Berlin residents have not been increasing. Businesses have closed while it has been rumored that some new businesses have shunned Berlin, going to adjacent towns. Even some residents have voiced concerns over fear of being targeted by employees of the Town of Berlin, Connecticut. Do you recall the Berlin coaches who feared coming forward publicly to address their concerns with the Town’s School Board?
Are special interests controlling our two major political parties? Are small cliques of our citizens—who lead and/or control these two political parties—attempting to benefit from these two major political parties? Do governmental unions control one political party in Town? Do certain individuals control the other political party in Town, preventing the free expression of views and participation of all of its members?
If Berlin citizens support and vote for individuals running as independent candidates, perhaps we can change the political climate on our Town Council. For instance, if three Democrats and three Republicans need the vote of the independent candidate on the Town Council, perhaps then control of our Town can be wrested from the dominance of any one political party, which would ordinarily be in control of the Town Council by the mere fact that seven members serve on it.
Let’s consider electing an independent, unaffiliated voter to represent the majority of citizens living in the Town of Berlin. If you are interested in supporting this proposal, forming a committee to nominate a candidate, petitioning citizens to place an independent candidate on the ballot, or running for office on the Town Council in Berlin, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
by William Brighenti, CPA, Consigliere of Goombas to the IRS
An Offer in Compromise is an agreement between the taxpayer and the government that settles a tax liability for payment of less than the full amount owed. The Internal Revenue Service will generally accept an Offer in Compromise when it is unlikely that the tax liability can be collected in full and the amount offered reasonably reflects collection potential. Consequently, it is essential to do the math before deciding to pursue an Offer in Compromise, since if it is not unlikely that the tax liability can be collected in full and/or the amount offered does not reasonably reflect what the IRS could potentially collect from you through liens on and seizure of your assets as well as garnishments on your wages, you will not only waste valuable time processing this lengthy, detailed application, but may incur thousands of dollars in costs in hiring professionals to assist you, and incur needless application fees and installment payments if other alternatives are available and preferable.
There are other alternatives to pursuing an Offer in Compromise in order to settle a tax assessment, including installment agreements, partial installment agreements, penalty and interest abatement requests, bankruptcy, etc. The ideal alternative depends on the individual circumstances of the taxpayer, including the amount of the tax liability as well as the ability of the taxpayer to pay it. Assuming that all of these alternatives already had been considered and found wanting, the key in deciding whether an Offer in Compromise should be pursued is determining the amount of the offer that is required in an Offer in Compromise submission in order to be acceptable to the Internal Revenue Service. There is a mathematical algorithm consisting of variables and parameters that needs to be calculated to determine your offer. It is not simply a number picked out of the air or “pennies on the dollar”. It is what it is. The process of determination is rigorous and driven by a mathematical procedure to minimize frivolous offers. And you do not want to initiate a negotiation with the IRS with a ridiculous offer. Would you consider offering Don Corleone an insulting few shekels in payment of a debt? Not too long ago the Internal Revenue Service issued an alert to taxpayers to beware of promoters’ claims on television and the internet that tax debts can be settled for “pennies on the dollar” through their professional services, inappropriately advising indebted taxpayers to file an Offer in Compromise application with the IRS. The IRS characterized such advice as bad, only costing taxpayers additional money and time. The Don has spoken.
The purpose of this article is to explain how the amount of an offer is determined; however, it is not meant to encourage any unprofessionally trained taxpayer to prepare his own Offer in Compromise. If such were the intent, then this article, in effect, would be guilty of leading sheep to a slaughter. Only an experienced professional should be entrusted to undertake the actual final preparation of the application since its processing and terminology are subtle, detailed, and complex. Moreover, a great deal of supportive documentation needs to be obtained and included. Finally, too much is at stake to the taxpayer. Recall the fate of Luca Brasi.
Your first step in deciding whether to pursue an Offer in Compromise is to estimate what the IRS terms your “Reasonable Collection Potential” (RCP). This is essentially the heart of any Offer in Compromise and will be the basis of the Internal Revenue Service’s decision as to whether to accept or reject your offer, since the IRS requires that your offer equal or exceed your RCP. The Reasonable Collection Potential, in essence, is what the IRS reasonably and potentially could expect to collect from you from the attachment of your wages and income as well as from the seizure of your assets in order to settle the tax assessment against you. It equals your Realizable Value (RV) of all of your assets after paying off the Loan Balance (LB) remaining on any asset plus typically four to five years (depending upon the terms of your offer) of Disposal Income (DI), which equals Monthly Income (MI) less Necessary Living Expenses (NLE). If your offered amount is below the RCP, it ordinarily will be rejected, unless you can demonstrate extreme hardship, which has as much of a chance of being accepted by the IRS as Paulie’s apology to Michael Corleone.
The Realizable Value (RV) of your Monetary Assets (MA)–such as cash, bank balances, investments, life insurance cash value, and accounts/notes receivable–are ordinarily their face or Current Values (CV). The Realizable Value of your Non-Monetary Assets (NMA)–such as real property, vehicles, personal assets, furniture and personal effects, business assets, books and tools–require the following computation:
RVNMA = FMV x 80% – LB
NMA = Non-Monetary Assets;
FMV = Asset’s fair market value determined by appraisals, book values, written estimates, published valuations, etc.;
80% = IRS’s discount factor representing what you could reasonably expect from the sale of an asset if you sold it quickly typically in ninety days or less;
LB = Loan Balance remaining on any asset as of the date of your offer.
In addition to discounting the fair market value of furniture, personal effects, books, and tools, you are also entitled to exempt $7,900 from your Realized Value of furniture and personal effects and $3,950 from that in books and tools, as long as the exemptions do not decrease your computed equity in each of these two asset classifications below zero.
The Internal Revenue Service expects you to include in your offer the payment of the RV of your personal and business assets since it reflects your accumulated wealth and, as such, usually a significant component of your Reasonable Collection Potential. The IRS, in effect, expects you to pay a portion of your tax assessment by liquidating assets, obtaining loans from lending institutions on your equity in your assets, borrowing on your home equity through a second mortgage or reverse mortgage, borrowing on any available balances on credit cards, borrowing funds from family members, friends, and/or the mafooch.
In addition to offering your equity in all of your assets, the IRS ordinarily requires 4 or 5 years (contingent upon the payment terms of your offer, theoretically up to 10 years) of monthly installment payments of an amount representing your monthly disposable income. If you agree to full payment of your offer within 5 months, you would make 48 installments; if you agree to full payment of your offer within 24 months, you would make 60 installments; if you agree to full payment of your offer over the remaining statutory period of collection (120 months less the number of months since the date your liability was assessed), you would pay an installment each month in the remaining statutory period for collecting the tax.
Now you are ready to reduce the concept of the minimum offer represented by the Reasonable Collection Potential in an Offer in Compromise to the Internal Revenue Service to the following algorithm:
RCP = ?MACV + ?NMA(FMV x 80% – LB) – $7,900FPE – $3,950BT + #MO x DI
MA = Monetary Assets;
CV = Current Values;
?MACV = Your total equity in Monetary Assets;
?NMA(FMV x 80% – LB) = Your total equity in Non-Monetary Assets before exemptions;
FPE = Exemption for furniture and personal effects, limited to RV or $7,900, whichever is less;
BT = Exemption for books and tools, limited to RV or $3,950, whichever is less;
#MO = Number of MOnthly installment payments (48, 60, or 120 – # of months since assessment);
DI = Disposable Income = Monthly Income (MI) – Necessary Living Expenses (NLE).
Monthly Income (MI) includes your average or current monthly wages, interest, dividends, pensions, social security, child support and alimony, Schedule C’s line 31 net profit divided by 12, Schedule E’s line 26 total rental and royalty income divided by 12, total distributions reported on Schedules K-1 divided by 12, etc.
NLE includes monthly allowances for food, clothing, housekeeping supplies, personal care products, rent or mortgage payment, property taxes, residential insurance, maintenance, dues, fees, utilities (gas, electricity, water, fuel, oil, trash collection, telephone), lease/loan payments on vehicles, vehicle operating costs (maintenance, repairs, insurance, fuel, registrations, licenses, inspections, parking, tolls), mass transit fares (bus, train, taxi, ferry), health insurance, out of pocket health care costs (medical services, drugs, medical supplies – e.g., eyeglasses, hearing aids, etc.), court order payments, child/dependent care, life insurance, income and FICA taxes, secured debts.
Regarding food, clothing, housekeeping supplies, and personal care products, the IRS furnishes a table of total monthly national standards for these expenses and is presented below; the use of these values obviates any verification and substantiation on your part. The amounts are based on surveys of consumer expenditures prepared by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Apparel & Services
Personal care products & services
More than four persons
Over Four Persons Amount
For each additional person, add to four-person total allowance:
Unless higher amounts can be substantiated as “necessary” living expenses with all required supporting documentation, it typically is advisable to use the amounts listed above for the corresponding expenditures for the expense category, “Food, Clothing and Misc.” on Form 433-A, the Offer in Compromise’s Collection Information Statement.
Copies of documents of all other income and expense items, including your prior year tax returns, need to accompany your Offer in Compromise in order to substantiate and verify these amounts to the Internal Revenue Service.
As you can see from all of the above, there is a precise formula used by the IRS in the determination of your Reasonable Collection Potential and, consequently, the minimum amount of your offer. It is unlikely that a “pennies on the dollar” value would be derived from this computation, and you would be advised not to submit any offer that could be construed as frivolous unless you wish to “swim with the fishes”. Before deciding on submitting an Offer in Compromise and engaging expensive professionals to prepare the application, it might be prudent for you to calculate your Reasonable Collection Potential, or minimum offer, using the above algorithm. It is suggested that you set up the above algorithm and formulas in an Excel spreadsheet, enter the values of all of the requisite variables and parameters, and see how your calculated offer would vary using different assumptions, estimates, and data sets. Moreover, if you are undecided about which of the three basic payment terms you should select, just insert 48, 60, or 120 less the number of months since your tax assessment, into the algorithm to see their impact on your offer. This exercise alone may minimize errors of omission, incorrect estimates, and miscalculations in judgment, resulting in significant tax savings; more importantly, it may minimize the risk of your offer being rejected by the IRS. Although precise numbers may not be readily available for some of your living expenses and the like, at least guesstimates may be sufficient to assist you enough in arriving at a preliminary decision as to whether an Offer in Compromise is the appropriate economic course of action for you to pursue in the settlement of your tax liability assessed by the Internal Revenue Service. Of course, upon the formal filing of your offer, guesstimates will not suffice: complete, accurate, substantiated, and honest information compiled in “good faith” will be required in order to enhance the prospect of your Offer in Compromise of being accepted by the Internal Revenue Service.
In bocca al lupo!
This article is provided for informational purposes and is not intended to be construed as legal, accounting, or other professional advice. For further information, please consult appropriate professional advice from your attorney and certified public accountant.
Chuck Todd: Senator Sanders, welcome back to Meet the Press. And let me start with an issue you are going to be dealing with in a few hours, I know you will be flying back from Minneapolis to Washington for the special Senate session: the NSA, the Patriot Act, Section 215. I assume you are a supporter of the USA Freedom Act. Are you? Is that where you will be voting?
Bernie Sanders: I may well be voting for it. It doesn’t go as far as I would like it to go. I voted against the original Patriot Act. I voted against the reauthorization of the Patriot Act.
Look, we have got to be vigorous in fighting terrorism and protecting the American people, but we have to do it in a way that protects the constitutional rights of the American people. And I am very, very worried about the invasions of privacy right that we are seeing not only from the NSA and the government but from corporate America as well.
We are losing our privacy rights. It is a huge issue.
Chuck Todd: And the government is going to be asking corporate America to keep this data under the USA Freedom Act. You’re comfortable with that?
Bernie Sanders: No, I am not. But we have to look at the best of bad situations. The question is whether the NSA keeps it. The question is whether it is transferred to the phone companies who by the way already keep records for an extended period of time.
Chuck Todd: You’ve served under two Democratic Presidents: Bill Clinton and Barack Obama which one has been a better progressive champion in your view?
Bernie Sanders: Well, neither one of them have gone as far as I would have liked them to go and that’s one of the reasons what we’re seeing the disappearance of the middle class in this country and a huge increase in income and wealth inequality.
That is why we are not dealing with the fact we have 45 million people living in poverty and why we are still the only major country on earth that doesn’t guarantee health care to all people.
Look, I have a lot of respect for President Obama. I consider him a friend. I disagree with him on issues like that TPP or the extension of tax breaks that Bush initiated. But I think history will judge President Obama a lot better than many other of his contemporaries, given the fact that he came into office at a time when this country was in terrible, terrible shape.
Chuck Todd: You singled out President Obama for praise but not President Clinton. Why?
Bernie Sanders: Look I think Bill Clinton did a very good job as well. I disagree with him strongly on NAFTA, permanent normal trade relations with China. I’m a strong opponent of these disastrous trade agreements which have cost us millions of decent paying jobs. I am helping to lead the opposition against the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
I also very strongly disagreed with President Clinton on the deregulation on Wall Street. I opposed that strenuously and I think the results prove that when you allow the greed and recklessness of Wall Street to go unchecked, you’re going to end up where we are today and where we were eight years ago.
Chuck Todd: You know it’s interesting when you watch chief primary opponent right now, Secretary Hillary Clinton, on some key issues she has changed her position to amore progressive view on same-sex marriage, on immigration (that is, over the last 10 years), on NAFTA, on trade, on the Iraq war, on Cuba. She has moved from a position basically in disagreement with you to a position that comes closer to your view.
So I guess is, do you take her at her word and do you think that rhetorically that’s enough?
Bernie Sanders: Look, I have known Hillary Clinton for twenty-five years. I have enormous respect for her and I like her.
And what I hope, Chuck, is that the media will allow us to have a serious debate in this campaign on the enormous issues facing the American people, which is why for the last forty years our middle class has been disappearing, why 99% of all new income generated today is going to the top 1%, and why we have this grotesque level of income and wealth inequality.
I have been–I know a lot of people criticize me in Vermont: they say, oh, Bernie, you have been saying the same thing for thirty years.
Well, it is kind of true. And maybe, you know, it is a badge of honor.
But I have been there. I think we need a political revolution in this country. I think we need to take on the greed of the billionaire class, a disastrous campaign finance system.
Chuck Todd: Do you trust these changes that Hillary Clinton has made or do you think she has been doing it just for primary politics.
Bernie Sanders: I think that is for the American people to decide. I know where I have been on trade agreements, I know where I have been on Walk Street, I know where I have been on the Keystone Pipeline, and Secretary Clinton will obviously explain her position to the American people.
Chuck Todd: This week you have found what it is like to become a nationally recognized candidate for President and potentially a threat to somebody. A leaking of an essay you wrote in the 1970s for an alternative weekly. Your campaign has described it as satire: I’ll be honest with you, Senator Sanders, it’s uncomfortable to read. The only excerpt I am going to put up is you wrote this in February 1972, it was sort of a fantasy of men and women. You said “A woman enjoys intercourse with her man–as she fantasizes being raped by three men simultaneously.” Your campaign described it as satire. Can you explain this essay?
Bernie Sanders: Sure. Look, this is a piece of fiction that I wrote in 1972, that was forty-three years ago. It was very poorly written. And if you read it, what it was dealing with gender stereotypes: why some men like to oppress women; why other women like to be submissive. You know, something like fifty shades of grey. Very poorly written, forty-three years ago.
What I am focusing on right now are the issues impacting the American people today. And that’s what I will continue to focus on and what I think the American people will want to hear.
And by the way, on broader issues, what I think when we talk about issues, Chuck, we need a lot more debates in this campaign. I hope very much that we can begin with the Democratic candidates debates as early as July and have some Republicans in those debates as well.
Chuck Todd: All right, there you go. Senator Sanders calling for July debates. We will go to Secretary Clinton. We are ready to host them right here on Meet the Press. Senator Sanders, stay safe on the trail, we’ll see you back in Washington.