Is Bernie Sanders out in far-left field or are both political parties out in far-right field

birds of paradise mating dance

Have you ever observed the mating dance of the birds of paradise? The male moves dramatically, and in response, the female inches away, but ultimately the male conquers the female, and achieves the purpose of this ritualistic, instinctive dance.

Well, the Democrats and Republicans have been dancing ritualistically quite some time now like birds of paradise. The Republican Congress leaps dramatically to the right, and then the Democratic President and Congress inches to the right, and as a result, the fulcrum of the political balance between the two parties and the constituents that they represent, keeps moving ever so slightly and undetectably to the electorate to the right.

And this shifting to the political right has been occurring ever since 1969 with the election of Richard Nixon, but took giant steps with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and the obtainment of power in the Democratic Party in 1985 by the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), which argued against populism and the traditional left philosophy of the old Democratic party, and embraced corporate and 1% money in order to win elections.

So especially over the past 30 years, the Democratic Party has been moving dramatically to the right on economic issues, and camouflaging its collusion with Wall Street and Corporate America big money by hiding behind wedge issues—such as abortion, gay marriage, immigration, etc.—which are not financial and thus not any detriment or threat to the financial interests of Wall Street.

The elections of Bill Clinton as President in 1992 and 1996, and those of Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, proved the political viability of this schizophrenic approach of the Democratic Party of remaining liberal on social issues but selling out to Wall Street on financial issues.

And the election of Hillary Clinton in 2016 will all but put the final nail in the coffin for populism and signal the death of populist Democrats, like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and firmly establish the reign of corporate Democrats, like Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton.

So it is not surprising at all that Bernie Sanders is now being characterized as this “socialist” from out in far-left field.  But, in truth, Bernie Sanders has not changed politically over the past 45 years; rather, the Democratic Party has been doing this hokey-pokey dance with Republicans for all these 45 years in order to woo the votes of working class Americans while continue to cash in on its share of the loot from Corporate America and Wall Street.

Do you remember that hokey-pokey dance that you would do at weddings as a child?  That’s what Democrats have been doing with Republicans.

You put your left foot out,
You put your left foot in;
You put your right foot out,
And you shake it all about.
You do the Hokey-Pokey,
And you turn yourself around.
That’s what it’s all about!

Don’t believe me? Recall that Obama had talked about a single-payer healthcare bill in 2008. Recall that he failed to present this bill to Congress for a vote. Instead in response to the Republican cries of socialism, pink commie, and the like, he then inched over and presented the Romneycare version of fixing healthcare, the original Republican solution to our nation’s healthcare problem of the mid-1990s. Of course, now that the Republicans have leaped to the extreme right (the political right raised to the nth power of infinity), they have not truly proposed any viable solution at all to the prohibitive cost of healthcare except for holistically medically dumping the sick and old on a hill outside Sparta and letting nature take its course.

Still don’t believe me? Recall that Obama in 2008 originally proposed tax increases for those earning more than $250,000 annually, and tax cuts for those earning less. And how did the Republicans dance to that tune? In 2010 they counter-proposed tax cuts plus a huge estate tax cut largely benefiting the rich. See? President Obama put his left foot out and his left foot in, he put his right foot out, then shook it all about…hokey-pokeying the middle class and turning himself around, and that’s what it’s all about.

The problem with doing this dance of the hokey-pokey birds of paradise is someone gets screwed at the end of this dance, and guess who does? Always, inevitably, the middle class: no single-payer healthcare system to control costs, making the insurance, pharmaceuticals, and medical companies even richer; tax cuts for the rich, resulting in huge deficits, which are hidden, deferred taxes, later to be passed onto the middle class in customary subterfuge fashion; and ultimately the privatization of medicare and, doomed to follow, social security, eventually abandoning us all on that same Spartan hill after we become old and sick.

It’s too bad President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton never appeared on “Dancing with the Stars” because they do this dance oh so well, and would be shoo-ins to win that contest hands down with their hokey-pokey, birds of paradise dance. They are so good at it that I bet you didn’t even notice it, did you?

But do not fret:  Hillary Clinton will win the night on “Dancing with the Stars” and the American Presidency doing  the hokey-pokey dance of putting her left foot forward on the social issues of gay marriage, immigration, and feminism, but taking her left foot back on the economic issues of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Keystone XL Pipeline, and income and wealth inequality.  So Wall Street and Corporate America has its winning dance partner in Hillary Clinton.  Do you think she knows how to do the hustle?

Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, never even learned to hustle.  Consequently, is it any surprise that he is being characterized as the guy who is not with it and who is out in far left field?  Look at what this so-called “socialist” has been saying:

  1. Control the ever increasing income and wealth inequality
  2. Stop the outsourcing of jobs overseas
  3. Raise the minimum wage out of a poverty wage
  4. Require equal pay for both genders
  5. Cut the $720 billion annual military budget:  World War II ended 70 years ago, folks!
  6. Make public college education free:  virtually everyone needs a college degree to get a job today
  7. Provide healthcare to all instead of letting people die in streets
  8. Save our environment from total destruction
  9. Get big money corruption out of politics
  10. Break up those big banksters under the forgotten Sherman Antitrust Act
  11. Stop giving tax breaks to the rich and corporations, and go after their stash on the Cayman Islands
  12. Encourage free assembly in unions for workers

This is communism?!  This is socialism?!  Is there any mention of the State owning your property and your house?  Of course, Wall Street owning your house with all of your debt, and owning your children with all of their student debt is perfectly acceptable:  it is capitalism at its finest hour since the rich get richer and you continue to get screwed.  Or is it a corporate totalitarian state reigned by oligarchs and monarchs?

Does the State dictate prices and wages?  Or does Corporate America, by shipping all jobs to China and Vietnam, where the average hourly wage is $0.56 per hour?

Isn’t all of what Bernie Sanders has been saying is a call for equity and justice for all rather than merely the super rich, the 1%, the American aristocracy?  His twelve steps forward remind me of those once highly regarded American ideals and proposals of our most popular President of all time—Franklin Delano Roosevelt—who endorsed them over 80 years ago!

Yes, Old Uncle Bernie Sanders may indeed be an anachronism from the 1960s and the 1930s.  But he hasn’t moved to the far left; he has merely remained where he was in the late 1960s.  The country, through corporate ownership of our elected officials and of the media, has shifted way to the right.

And we, the American people, have been hustled to this far right by the birds of paradise mating dances of both the Democratic and Republican parties.  We just didn’t notice, however, that we were being hokey-pokeyed by these political parties.  Why?  Because its execution was, and is, kabuki theater at its finest!

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Senator Bernie Sanders warns the press not to underestimate him in the 2016 campaign for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States

don't underestimate meBernie Sanders: I’m not running against Hillary Clinton. I am running for the democratic nomination for president of the United States. Hillary Clinton is a candidate. I am a candidate. I suspect that there will be other candidates.

The people in this country will make their choice. I have known Eleizabeth Warren for many, many years. I think Elizabeth Warren is doing a great job in the Senate. She is a good friend of mine. And I think our views parallel on many, many issues.

But we are going to take our campaign to the American people. I think we are going to have the support of a whole lot of working people in this country, people in the middle class, people concerned about the environment, people concerned about women’s rights. And I think that we are going to do just fine.

I am not going to have a Super PAC in this campaign, We have up to this point—we have only been in for a couple of week—received over 100,000 individual donations. And you know what the average donation was? About $42 a piece.  That’s the world I live in.

I don’t go to fund raisers where millionaires sit around rooms, saying here’s a million, here’s five million for your Super PAC.  That’s not my life.  That’s not my world.

And I think the American people are saying that is not what our politics should be about; that is not what our democracy should be about.

I think we have a message that resonates.  It resonates in Vermont, and I think it is going to resonate all over this country.  Don’t underestimate me.

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Bernie Sanders does not have to win the Iowa Primary to set up his race

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Bernie Sanders does not have to win the Iowa primary; however, if the gets 35%, 40%, or 45% of the vote, that would set him up nicely for the New Hampshire primary, next door to his state of Vermont.

Steve Kornacki: There is news this week happening on the democratic side.  You’re going to have two candidates. It looks like getting into the race running against Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, is going to do this in Vermont on Tuesday.

…I think there’s some real energy behind Sanders right now.

…There is an authenticity to him, of frustration with the system, I think there is something there that connects with [many people]….

Steve Kornacki:  They know he is upset with the system, basically [wants to] blow up the system.  Robert Costa, what do you think of that comparison between Bernie Sanders and Ron Paul?

Robert Costa:  I think Sanders could actually be a more potent political figure than Ron Paul.

When I was in Cedar Falls, Iowa, this week following Secretary Clinton, there was a group of about a dozen college students outside all supporting Bernie Sanders.  There was a group of labor organizers holding signs pressuring Clinton on the trade deal and very disappointed with her lack of a stance.

There is a movement, especially in a place like Iowa that even Clinton has now acknowledged that Bernie Sanders could get 35, 40, maybe even 45% if it becomes a grassroots movement.  He doesn’t need to win Iowa but if he can show in Iowa, then he goes into his neighboring state of New Hampshire and he could become a problem.

Steve Kornacki:  There it is.  I mean, that’s the thing.  It does set up.  The first two states, Iowa with the populist grassroots, New Hampshire, right next door to Vermont, northern New Hampshire sharing the Burlington media market, starts to make you say what if, a little bit….

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Senator Bernie Sanders appeals to the media to cover the serious issues of our country instead of political gossip during political campaigns

 

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The Barefoot Accountant of Accountants CPA Hartford, Connecticut, LLC, presents the video and transcript of Senator Bernie Sanders’ appearance on CNN Reliable Sources, hosted by Brian Stelter, on May 24, 2015.

STELTER: Now, coming up here on RELIABLE SOURCES, attacking Hillary Clinton, we could call it a common sport for Republican presidential wannabes. But one non-Republican candidate says he thinks it’s the only way he can get airtime here on CNN and elsewhere. Hear what he says about that right after the break.

STELTER: We are back with more RELIABLE SOURCES. And this next segment is about something you probably noticed about

election coverage. Each week, a new presidential candidate jumps into an already crowded race, mostly on the Republican side. But there are also declared candidates besides Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side, including Bernie Sanders and soon Martin O’Malley.

Clinton has been taking a lot of heat from the media for ignoring the media, and I think that heat is perfectly appropriate. She did answer some questions from reporters early in the week and she says she’s now planning a big campaign event in mid-June.

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders has appeared on multiple networks. He’s willing to answer almost any question, but it seems sometimes all anyone wants to talk about is Hillary.

What got me thinking about this is what Sanders said last Sunday here on CNN on “STATE OF THE UNION.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: The American people want to hear serious discussions why they’re working longer hours for lower 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 and the media prepared to allow us to engage in that serious debate, or do I have to make media attention by simply making reckless attacks on Hillary Clinton or anybody else? I don’t believe in that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: So, are journalists giving that campaign a fair shake?

Senator Bernie Sanders is here with me now on set to talk about that. Thanks for being here.

SANDERS: My pleasure.

STELTER: It’s rare to hear a candidate or any politician really talk about the systemic issues in the press the way you did last week. I kind of lit up when I heard it, and I wondered, is it a winning strategy for you to be going at the press?

SANDERS: Look, I don’t know if it’s a winning strategy or not, but this is what I do know: the middle class of this country is disappearing despite the fact that people are working longer hours and they’re earning lower wages. We have seen an explosion in technology and productivity and yet all of the increase in income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent. Do you think that that’s an important issue to discuss?

According to the scientific community, climate change is the great planetary crisis we now face. Do you think we might want to be discussing that issue?

You have the top 1/10th of 1 percent now owning more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. I’m the ranking member of the budget committee. I dealt with the Republican budget which throws 27 million people off of health insurance, cuts educational programs by tens of billions of dollars, gives tax breaks to billionaires. Do you know how much coverage that got, outside of the political gossip? Virtually nothing.

Last year, I had the president of CBS, NBC, ABC — and we talked to them. Why is it you’re not covering climate change significantly? OK?

STELTER: So, what happened in that meeting?

SANDERS: Well, actually, a couple weeks later, there was a lot of discussion about climate change. But the scientific community is virtually unanimous in telling us that climate change is real, already causing devastating problems and that we have to reverse course. Do you think we’re seeing that kind of discussion in the media?

STELTER: Some Republicans will hear about that meeting you had with the presidents of some of the networks and say — the news divisions of the networks — and say that sounds like some sort of inappropriate coordination between the government and the press.

SANDERS: Inappropriate coordination. To ask them, well, we’re not discussing the major planetary crisis facing us? I don’t think so.

STELTER: But the rebuttal would be, the press should make up its own mind collectively about what should be a priority to be covered.

SANDERS: The answer is, of course, the American people and elected officials can weigh in as well. No one is telling them, no one is forcing them.

But when the scientific community tells us something is enormously important, maybe, just maybe, we may want to be discussing it.

STELTER: With your campaign now a few weeks in, are you finding that the media is taking it seriously or are you finding they’re using you only as a foil to Hillary Clinton to get headlines?

SANDERS: I think we are doing pretty well. And I think the media — we have gotten more serious discussion on our issues than I might have thought about.

But this is what I worry about. In terms of campaign coverage…

STELTER: Yes.

SANDERS: … there is more coverage about the political gossip of a campaign, about raising money, about polling, about somebody saying something dumb, or some kid works for a campaign sends out something stupid on Facebook, right? We can expect that to be a major story.

But what your job is, what the media’s job is, is to say, look, these are the major issues facing the country. We’re a democracy. People have different points of view. Let’s argue it.

STELTER: Fundamentally, you’re describing what is the systemic issue in press, in the nation’s news media, which is an interesting spectacle over policy.

SANDERS: To me, it is astounding. And correct me if you think I’m wrong. When you have ABC, CBS, and NBC not devoting one minute to the most significant trade agreement in the history of the United States of America, help me out, help me out. Give me an explanation.

(CROSSTALK)

STELTER: They might say they’re covering it on the Web site.

(CROSSTALK)

STELTER: They might say there are niche outlets that can do a better job covering it in this day and age on the Internet.

SANDERS: Not a good answer.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: I mean, television is an important medium. You cannot ignore that. You cannot ignore the reality of income and wealth inequality.

You cannot ignore the fact that Citizens United is undermining our democratic way of life. Now, there are two sides to the story. I’m not saying everybody has got to agree with me, but have that issue, have that debate. That’s what elections should be about.

(CROSSTALK)

STELTER: Some people might say, how do you do that in a way that keeps people watching, that gets people stay tuned and not turn the channel?

SANDERS: Oh, all right, good question, good question. All right.

So, let me back it up. About a year ago, there was a poll out there. Pollsters asked the American people, tell me which political party controls the U.S. Senate and controls the U.S. House? That was a year ago, when the Democrats controlled the Senate.

STELTER: It’s always disappointing to see how many people are wrong with their answers.

SANDERS: Sixty-three percent of the people in this country did not know that answer.

Who bears responsibility for that? Does the media bear any responsibility? How do you have a serious discussion? If you don’t like what’s going on in Washington, which nobody does, who are you going to Plame if you don’t know which party controls what? So I think that, instead of coming up with the next news of the

moment, breaking news, there was an automobile accident, a cat got run over, here is breaking news. For 40 years, the American middle class has been disappearing and the rich have been getting richer. Why?

STELTER: I have an idea for you.

SANDERS: OK.

STELTER: Bernie Sanders, cable news president.

SANDERS: All right. Are you offer — are you making me that offer on behalf of CNN?

STELTER: Oh, I don’t think I’m able to make that offer.

SANDERS: I accept it.

STELTER: But it sounds like you have got some ideas.

SANDERS: I just think that, as a nation, no matter what our political point of view is, I would hope that we are concerned about the state of American democracy. We need serious discussion about serious issues.

STELTER: I want to briefly go back to the issue about Hillary Clinton. I don’t want to become a parody of this conversation by focusing on it, because that would miss the point.

(LAUGHTER)

STELTER: But I wonder what it’s been like for the past few weeks, as you have officially declared? Do you wake up some mornings and think, well, the way I’m going to get attention today is to criticize Hillary Clinton?

SANDERS: Well, look…

STELTER: Are you leaning in to that reality of the media?

SANDERS: You’re looking — of course Hillary Clinton and anybody else deserves criticism. When you have different points of view, I guess that’s what criticism is about.

But I will tell you that I have never run a negative political ad in the state of Vermont in my life. People of Vermont know that. I just don’t think that that’s what politics is about. So, will I criticize Hillary Clinton on her position of TPP, or the lack of position? Will I criticize her on her views of Wall Street? Will I criticize her on foreign policy?

That’s what democracy is about. But taking cheap shots at people, making it personal, I don’t think that’s what politics should be about.

STELTER: Senator Sanders, thank you for being here this morning.

SANDERS: OK. My pleasure.

STELTER: Thank you.

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The new found populist message of Hillary Clinton is all talk and mere talking points to get elected

fake populism of Hillary ClintonThe Barefoot Accountant of Accountants CPA Hartford, Connecticut, LLC, presents the video and edited transcript of Farron Cousins’ op-ed, “Hillary’s Faux Populism is No Match For Bernie Sanders”, which appeared on Ring of Fire TV on May 18, 2015.

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.

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Bernie Sanders can win even though the Democratic Party is run by the Corporate Democrats and they have already anointed Hillary Clinton as their candidate for President

bernie-sanders1

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:

  1. Romneycare
  2. Extension of Bush tax cuts for the rich
  3. Corporate tax rate reductions
  4. Estate tax reductions
  5. Increasing the retirement age
  6. Increasing the retirement age for Medicare
  7. Unfair trade agreements
  8. Bank bailouts
  9. Get-out-of-jail free cards for all banksters
  10. Endless wars in the Middle East
  11. SOPA and PIPA to limit free speech on the internet
  12. the Patriot Act
  13. 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.

[The above posting is a very loose rendition—with liberal annotations by the Barefoot Accountant of Accountants CPA Hartford Connecticut LLC—of a conversation between Mike Papantonio and Farron Cousins on Ring of Fire Radio, published on youtube.com on May 21, 2015.]

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Senator Bernie Sanders before the Senate December 2 2014 presenting an Economic Agenda for America: 12 Steps Forward

economic agenda for America

The Barefoot Accountant of Accountants CPA Hartford, Connecticut, LLC, presents the video and transcript of Senator Bernie Sanders presenting “An Economic Agenda for America:  12 Steps Forward” before the Senate on December 2, 2014.

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….

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Senator Bernie Sanders tells Ed Schultz to make college tuition free for students and pay for it with a tax on Wall Street speculation

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.

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College for ALL Act presented by Senator Bernie Sanders on May 19 2015

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.

For example:

  • 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
    corporations.

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.

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Bernie Sanders tells Wolf Blitzer that college tuition should be free and paid for by a tax on Wall Street Speculation

The Barefoot Accountant of Accountants CPA Hartford, Connecticut, LLC, presents the video and transcript of an interview of Senator Bernie Sanders conducted by Wolf Blitzer on CNN on May 19, 2015.

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.

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