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Bernie-nomics: How Senator Sanders Wants To Handle The Economy

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Bernie-nomics: How Senator Sanders Wants To Handle The Economy

Bernie Sanders, Economy, Money, Policy, President Sanders, Independet, Vermont

By Ben Brody, Bloomberg News (TNS)

Does Bernie Sanders have a proposed economic platform for his presidential campaign? Sanders economic platform ishis presidential campaign.

The Vermont senator, a self-described socialist and political independent who announced Wednesday that he’ll seek the Democratic nomination for president, is making economic inequality the central focus of his political agenda. “I’m not running against Hillary Clinton,” he told reporters earlier this week. “I’m running for a declining middle class.” Another top priority: campaign finance reform, which Sanders sees central to his campaign against the corporate elite. No one explains Sanders’ economic theories more emphatically than he does, so here they are in his own words:

This has been one of Sanders’s core themes in recent years — the one many of his other policies are aimed at fixing. “In the last two years, according to Forbes, the 14 wealthiest people in this country…saw $157 billion increase in their wealth,” he told Bloomberg April 15. “That is more wealth than is owned by the bottom 40 percent of the American people. I mean, I don’t know how you describe that other than obscene and extremely dangerous.”

Sanders has also focused reining in the influence of money in politics, saying that the U.S. is headed towards becoming an “oligarchy.”

“Billionaire families are now able to spend hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to purchase the candidates of their choice,” he told the Brookings Institution in February. “The billionaire class now owns the economy, and they are working day and night to make certain that they own the United States government.” He has proposed a constitutional amendment limiting corporate donations. He told Bloomberg there’s a question of whether he “can raise enough money to run a credible campaign,” which might involve sums like Clinton’s $100 million. “Most of my money comes from small, individual contributors. I get some money — PAC money from unions and environmental groups and senior groups — but mostly individuals averaging, I think, $45 apiece.”

Sanders, who came to Congress in 1991, has raised a little more than six million dollars in the course of his career, with his greatest support coming from retirees and labor unions, according to data compiled by the Sunlight Foundation. By contrast, Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican elected to the Senate in 2012 and already mulling a presidential bid, has raised more than $13 million, and declared GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio, elected to the Senate from Florida in 2010, has raised more than $17 million.

“I think we should raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over a period of years, not tomorrow,” he told Bloomberg. That would almost double the current level. In a video posted to his YouTube account, Sanders calls the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour “a starvation wage.”

“What we want to do is create a situation where if somebody is working 40 hours a week, that person, that family, is not living in poverty,” Sanders adds.

“We’re losing $100 billion every single year because corporations are stashing their money, their profits, in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda and other tax havens,” Sanders told MSNBC in December. “I’m going to bring forward — and have brought forward — legislation to end that absurd practice.”

“The wealthiest family in America, the family that is worth $100 billion, does that family really need government assistance in the operation of their business?” he asked Salon.com in November 2013, referring to the Walton family, which owns Wal-Mart. “I think the answer is obviously no.”

“The greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior of major Wall Street firms plunged this country into the worst financial crisis since the 1930s,” Sanders wrote in his Agenda for America, a set of 12 economic policies he released in December. “They are too powerful to be reformed. They must be broken up.”

Sanders wants to shore up Social Security’s finances by lifting the cap on the amount of earnings subject to taxes for the retirement fund. Currently, only the first $118,500 of individuals’ earnings are subject to the tax, giving an end-of-the-year paycheck bonus to those in higher-income brackets. “America doesn’t have a problem with ‘greedy geezers,’ to quote one Social Security adversary,” he wrote Wednesday in an op-ed in the Des Moines Register. “It has a ‘Robin Hood in Reverse’ problem, a problem with policies that take from working families and give to the rich.”

“I happen to believe that the United States should not be the only major country on Earth that does not guarantee health care to all people through a national health care program,” he said in the MSNBC interview. “I support a single-payer national health care program.”

“Millions of homes and buildings need to be weatherized, our transportation system needs to be energy efficient, and we need to greatly accelerate the progress we are already seeing in wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and other forms of sustainable energy,” he wrote in his 12-point agenda. “Transforming our energy system will not only protect the environment, it will create good paying jobs.”

“We need legislation which makes it clear that when a majority of workers sign cards in support of a union, they can form a union,” he wrote in his agenda. “We’ve got to rebuild the union movement,” he told Bloomberg.

Sanders is adamantly opposed to trade deals that he says entice employers to leave the United States. “I happen to believe that our current trade policies — NAFTA, CAFTA, permanent normal trade relations with China — are a disaster which have lost us millions of jobs in this country as companies shut down here and go aboard to low-wage countries,” he said in the MSNBC interview. “I want to change fundamentally our trade policies so that companies reinvest in America, not in China.”

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a disastrous trade agreement designed to protect the interests of the largest multi-national corporations at the expense of workers, consumers, the environment, and the foundations of American democracy,” he wrote in a statement opposing the pending agreement. “It is part of a global race to the bottom to boost the profits of large corporations and Wall Street by outsourcing jobs; undercutting worker rights; dismantling labor, environmental, health, food safety, and financial laws; and allowing corporations to challenge our laws in international tribunals rather than our own court system.”

“Higher education should be a right,” he said, according to the Huffington Post. “Not for everybody, people who have the ability, people who have the desire, because that makes our country stronger.” In February, Sanders called for the federal government to give states $18 billion a year to decrease tuition 55 percent, according to Inside Higher Ed, and he wants student loan borrowers to be able to refinance at lower interest rates. At Howard University this week, he said he wants to make all public colleges and universities free.

Sanders would abolish taxes on estates worth less than $3.5 million, then impose a rate of 40 percent up to $10 million, and 50 percent for estates worth between $10 million and $50 million. Estates worth more than that would be taxed at a 55 percent rate under a President Sanders. “A progressive estate tax on multi-millionaires and billionaires is the fairest way to reduce wealth inequality, lower our $17 trillion national debt and raise the resources we need for investments in infrastructure, education, and other neglected national priorities,” he wrote in the Huffington Post in November.

“The fastest way to create the millions of jobs we desperately need is by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure — our roads, bridges, water systems, rail, et cetera,” he said in the December MSNBC interview. “If we invested one trillion dollars over a period of years, we could create 13 million jobs.”

“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,” he wrote in his agenda. “Study after study shows that when workers have an ownership stake in the businesses they work for, productivity goes up, absenteeism goes down, and employees are much more satisfied with their jobs.”

Photo: 350.org via Flickr



  1. spazaru April 30, 2015

    He’s got my vote.

  2. dtgraham April 30, 2015

    I worship the ground that Bernie Sanders walks on.

  3. Tom Highway April 30, 2015

    George W. Bush helped cut the Federal deficit from $318 Billion to $161 Billion between 2005 and 2007.

    1. dtgraham April 30, 2015

      The total debt was 7.918 trillion in 2005. That represented 61.4% of GDP. It was 8.493 trillion in 2006 which was 62.1% of GDP. It was 8.993 trillion in 2007 which was 62.8% of GDP. So, the federal deficit clearly continued to increase during those 3 years. There was no cut.

      1. Dominick Vila May 1, 2015

        I think it is also important to point out that W inherited a budget surplus, and that the deficit spending that started a year after his inauguration was largely the result of his irresponsible tax breaks, increased borrowing, and paying for two crusades.

    2. FireBaron May 1, 2015

      Sorry, Tom, but Dubya wouldn’t know how to cut a deficit with a chainsaw and a road map.

    3. 788eddie May 2, 2015

      W’s attempted to cut the deficit by using “continuing resolutions,” a way to add the Iraq War’s expenses to our debt without officially adding to out budget; a total sham. President Obama brought these expenses out into the open, adding them to our deficit, and then Republicans called these expenses Obama’s deficit.

      Can Republican leadership ever learn to be truthful?

    4. Carol Jones McDonnell May 2, 2015

      Out and out lie! Bush spent the Clinton $5.6 trillion surplus he inherited, raided the Social Security surplus, gave tax cuts to the corporate rich on CREDIT…. and entered two wars without ever PAYING for them…they were fought on credit, too. He left an $11-plus trillion debt when his term expired.

      1. Dominick Vila May 3, 2015

        Bear in mind that, for a Republican, facts only mean an opportunity to distort the truth. Take for example the claims they make about the increase in the national debt since President Obama was inaugurated. It includes the FY09 budget, which started October 1, 2008 and was signed by W. It also includes half of the $700B TARP, a Wall Street bailout sold and signed by W when he admitted that the economy was on the verge of collapse in 2008. It includes moving the cost of two crusades from the ethereal world of unfunded liabilities to the budget, where it should have been all along, like every previous war was. Most importantly, it includes the cost of saving the economy from collapse, and the cost of dramatically lower government revenues as a result of the economic and fiscal mess he inherited when he became President in January 2009. When it comes to Republicans, deception and cynicism are the centerpiece of their agenda, and the best tools they have to fool a large segment of our population.
        The sad part is that these demonstrations of partisanship and political greed, are distracting us from the problems that still exist, including the need to reform our entire tax system, starting with the elimination of loopholes, banning the use of foreign tax havens, and eliminating all subsidies with the exception of those that are for the public good. The influence of money on American politics must stop, starting with lobbyists writing policy and conveying the desires of their bosses to our elected officials. Solutions must be sought to address the impact of outsourcing, or off shoring as some people call it. The long term impact of outsourcing and technology on labor is immense, and it is being ignored because of greed and lack of courage by our elected officials. Last, but not least, is the need to address climate change, and its impact on our environment, weather patterns, and the availability of potable water, among other things.

  4. Dominick Vila May 1, 2015

    Regardless of where people are ideologically, Bernie Sanders is offering something that most politicians avoid at all cost: he is offering specific solutions to problems, instead of just pointing out what is wrong without ever offering a solution because of fear of a backlash. He is also addressing what is really important to most Americans: the economy, job creation, financial inequality, saving the middle class, and strengthening social programs that are critical to the well being of millions of Americans. He is a breath of fresh air at a time when all we hear are platitudes that mean nothing to most of us.
    Unfortunately, he is not electable. Not because he is not qualified or because his vision does not appeal to most people, but because the oligarchs that pull the political strings from behind the scenes will make sure he gets nowhere.

    1. FireBaron May 1, 2015

      Dominick, as you and I have bantered about, Sanders will keep Hillary, Jim Webb and Martin O’Malley on their toes, as well as give his Republican Opponents things to backpedal against. After all, as they are the ones who brought up the economic gap this time around, how can they possibly take a stand against measures designed to reduce that gap? Oh, I know they will and they will sugar-coat it in such a way that the ones most affected by that gap on the lower end will still support them in the GOPs drive to make them into a subservient class.

      1. Dominick Vila May 1, 2015

        I agree. I believe Bernie Sanders’ political platform, his record, and vision, will have a positive impact on other Democratic candidates, who are likely to be forced to take unambiguous positions on issues important for most of us. He will also force the opposition to do the same, which may prove to be extremely difficult for them considering the expectations and influence of the Tea Party in the Republican party. This may prove to be an exciting and unusual campaign, if it does turn into an issues, facts, and solutions exercise.

        1. Carol Jones McDonnell May 2, 2015

          We need to do much more than force other candidates to take unambiguous positions. We need a candidate will not say one thing and do something different once she/he is in office. I voted for him twice, but this is exactly what Obama did.

          I want a candidate who’s NOT tied to Wall Street & banks, to all the other special interests that control our country.

          Bernie has a proven track record. He’ll do what he says he will.

    2. Charlotte Sines May 2, 2015

      I will support Bernie with my vote and my money and I refuse to continue though the election season saying he is not electable. Maybe he won’t be but by continuing to say that, it could end up making it a self-fulling prophecy. I do not care in the slightest what the rich say. I make up my own mind and they can go to he$$ and the sooner the better.

      1. Carol Jones McDonnell May 2, 2015

        Agree 100%. He’ll push the critical issues into public debate. He offers far more than all other political candidates and has fought for each issue for decades.

        Wake up America. He’s the only candidate that wants to fully invest in our country again. Others will offer lip service and then go their own way once they’re elected.

        We’ve go nothing to lose, and everything to gain by supporting his candidacy. I intend to support him in as many ways as possible.

      2. Dominick Vila May 3, 2015

        I respect everything you said, but there are times when we must think pragmatically, if the goal is to prevent the GOP from taking control of all three branches of the Federal government. They already have both chambers of Congress. The House by such a large margin that it may be decades before we take it back, and the Senate by a comfortable majority. The Supreme Court has a conservative majority, and if they win the White House in 2016, and considering the age and health of some SC members, we can count on a super majority of Justices for many years to come. The implications of that distinct probability should be enough to convince even the most reluctant voter to vote for the Democrat with the best chance to win in 2016.

  5. Henry Williams May 11, 2015

    In 2012, the brain-dead apparatchiks of the Obama regime wasted $96,000 on iPads for kids. In kindergarten.

  6. dpaano June 8, 2015

    Henry, it wasn’t President Obama who wasted money on iPads for kids….it was one of our idiots who ran the school board in California!!! Luckily, he’s no longer in charge.


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