Mar 04 2013
HARTMANN: Senator Sanders, great to have you here. There is a lot going on.
SANDERS: There is a lot going on. Yes there is. Most of the listeners know that sequestration has begun. This is a real real tragedy to my mind because it’s a tragedy that goes beyond the people who will lose their jobs. Tom, I just came from an event at the Vermont National Guard. A lot of our people in Iraq and Afghanistan, some of them never came home. People really paid a price and yet we’re now talking about furloughs and people losing 20 percent of their pay. You’re talking about HeadStart being cut back, nutrition programs being cut back, etc. etc. So there’s going to be a lot of pain. But more significant than the loss of jobs in the middle of a recession, is this Republican ideology that despite the fact that we have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on earth, despite the fact that the wealthiest people are doing phenomenally well, that large corporations and Wall Street are enjoying record breaking profits, the Republicans are absolutely adamant that they will not ask the wealthy and large corporations to pay a nickel more in taxes and that the only way they want to do deficit reduction is by cutting cutting cutting. Cutting social security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, student loans, nutrition, environment, you name it. And I think that is such a disastrous approach. We are seeing a middle class now disappearing. There was a piece in the paper today that talked about how while unemployment remains very high many of the new jobs that are coming online and replacing the jobs that we’ve lost are low wage jobs. So we’ve lost middle class jobs and are replacing them with low wage jobs. This continues the trend of the median family income in this country going down by $5,000 dollars. So in the midst of all of this growing disparity between the very very wealthy and everybody else, the Republicans continue their attack on working families and it’s not just Republicans, it’s their sponsors. Groups like the Business Roundtable. It didn’t get a whole lot of attention, but a couple of weeks ago Business Roundtable, which is a group composed of the CEO’s of every large corporation in America
HARTMANN: It’s the hundred largest CEOs.
SANDERS: Hundred largest. Many of these corporations are enjoying huge profits, all of these CEOs receive fantastic salaries and compensation packages and retirement packages. They came to Washington and they said, ‘We think you should raise the Medicare eligibility age to 70 years of age and social security should start at 70 years of age.’ So you have these guys who are zillionaires who have enormous wealth and enormous power telling the United States Congress that we should continue to decimate working families, in this case elderly people. It is class warfare and you know I use that word advisedly, but I can’t use any other word. The rich are getting richer and they use their wealth and their power to continue to attack working families. You know these are the folks who have sent our jobs to China and to Mexico and to every other low wage country, and now when it comes to paying taxes they’re stashing their money in the Cayman Islands and in other tax havens. We recently mentioned on the floor of the Senate that Bank of America has dozens and dozens of subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands and their function is obviously to avoid paying taxes to the United States and that is what many of these corporations are doing. So what we have got to do is to rally the American people and say no we do not want to become a second class nation. We want to deal with our serious unemployment problem which is really over 14%. We don’t want to cut cut cut. We want to invest in our kids. We want to invest in the infrastructure. We want to transform our energy system. We want to create decent paying jobs in America and we don’t want austerity for working families while the wealthiest people do phenomenally well.
Listen to the rest of what Senator Bernie Sanders has to say about the sequester.
Thom’s Guest: Bernie Sanders, U.S. Senator from Vermont.
Take a look at Bernie Sanders’ website.
SONALI KOLHATKAR IS ON MATERNITY LEAVE.