Bernie Sanders has become the first to officially announce his plans to run against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. The conventional wisdom is that he has no chance to win (a type of prediction which I fear the media helps become true) but will move the conversation to the left. Unlike most politicians, Sanders’ views have remained quite consistent, making it a good bet that looking at his past statements will give a good idea of what he will be talking about while campaigning.
Common Dreams has a lengthy article on Sanders. This includes, “In December of last year, Sanders put forth what he called an Economic Agenda for America, a 12-point plan”
- Invest in our crumbling infrastructure with a major program to create jobs by rebuilding roads, bridges, water systems, waste water plants, airports, railroads and schools.
- Transform energy systems away from fossil fuels to create jobs while beginning to reverse global warming and make the planet habitable for future generations.
- Develop new economic models to support workers in the United States instead of giving tax breaks to corporations which ship jobs to low-wage countries overseas.
- Make it easier for workers to join unions and bargain for higher wages and benefits.
- Raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour so no one who works 40 hours a week will live in poverty.
- Provide equal pay for women workers who now make 78 percent of what male counterparts make.
- Reform trade policies that have shuttered more than 60,000 factories and cost more than 4.9 million decent-paying manufacturing jobs.
- Make college affordable and provide affordable child care to restore America’s competitive edge compared to other nations.
- Break up big banks. The six largest banks now have assets equivalent to 61 percent of our gross domestic product, over $9.8 trillion. They underwrite more than half the mortgages in the country and issue more than two-thirds of all credit cards.
- Join the rest of the industrialized world with a Medicare-for-all health care system that provides better care at less cost.
- Expand Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and nutrition programs.
- Reform the tax code based on wage earners’ ability to pay and eliminate loopholes that let profitable corporations stash profits overseas and pay no U.S. federal income taxes.
PBS Newshour has this information on his views, including additional links:
Campaign finance: Limit corporate and interest-group spending in campaigns.
Sanders proposes a Constitutional amendment that would effectively reverse the Supreme Court’s Citizen United ruling and ban corporations and nonprofits from unlimited campaign expenditures. The independent senator would also require disclosure of any organizations spending $10,000 or more on an election-related campaign.
Climate change: Charge companies for carbon emissions
Considered to be a “climate change hawk” and use some of the money raised to boost renewable energy technology.
Education: Two years free tuition at state colleges. Reform student loans.
Sanders would provide $18 billion to state governments to allow them to cut tuition at state colleges by 55 percent. And he would allow anyone paying off a student loan currently to refinance at a lower rate.
Federal Reserve and banks: Break up big banks. Open up the Fed.
Sanders would divide large banks into smaller entities and charge a new fee for high-risk investment practices, including credit default swaps. In addition, he believes the Federal Reserve is an opaque organization which gives too much support to large corporations. His pushed for a 2011 audit of the Fed and he would use the Fed to force banks into loaning more money to small businesses. Finally, he would ban financial industry executives from serving on the 12 regional boards of directors.
Guns: A mixed approach. No federal handgun waiting period. Some protection for gun manufacturers. Ban assault weapons.
In the House of Representatives, Sanders voted against the pro-gun-control Brady Bill, writing that he believes states, not the federal government, can handle waiting periods for handguns. Soon after, he voted yes for the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act that included an assault weapons ban. He has voted to ban some lawsuits against gun manufacturers and for the Manchin-Toomey legislation expanding federal background checks.
Health care: Change to single-payer government-provided health care
Sanders voted for the Affordable Care Act, but believes that the new health care law did not go far enough. Instead, he espouses a single-payer system in which the federal and state governments would provide health care to all Americans. Participating states would be required to set up their own single-payer system and a national oversight board would establish an overall budget.
Immigration: Offer path to citizenship. Waive some deportations now.
Sanders generally agrees with President Obama that most of the undocumented immigrants in the country now should be given a path to citizenship. He voted for the senate immigration bill in 2013, which would have increased border security and issued a provisional immigrant status to millions of undocumented residents once some significant security metrics had been met. In addition, Sanders has supported President Obama’s use of executive orders to waive deportation for some groups of immigrants, including those who were brought to the United States as children.
Taxes: Raise some taxes on the wealthy. Cut taxes for middle class.
The current ranking minority member on the Senate Budget Committee, Sanders would nearly double taxes on capital gains and dividends for the wealthiest two percent of Americans. In addition, this year Sanders asked President Obama to use executive action to close six tax deductions benefitting corporations and hedge funds. The Vermont senator would use some of the revenue gained from higher taxes on the rich to lower taxes for middle and lower class Americans.
Iraq, Islamic State and Afghanistan: Opposed the Iraq war. Calls for troop withdrawal as soon as possible.
A longtime anti-war activist, Sanders voted against the Iraq war resolution in 2002. He has regularly called for the U.S. to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Iraq as soon as possible. Regarding the Islamic State, Sanders has said the U.S. should not lead the fight. In general, he believes the U.S. should focus less on international conflict and more on the domestic needs of the middle class.
Iran and Israel: Supports current talks with Iran. Critical of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In an interview with ABC News Sanders called the Clinton Foundation money, along with money from conservative sources, a very serious problem:
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, said he is concerned by the millions of dollars flowing into the Clinton Foundation at a time when he thinks money plays too strong a role in politics.
“It tells me what is a very serious problem,” Sanders said in an interview with ABC News’ Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl. “It’s not just about Hillary Clinton or Bill Clinton. It is about a political system today that is dominated by big money. It’s about the Koch brothers being prepared to spend $900 million dollars in the coming election.
“So do I have concerns about the Clinton Foundation and that money? I do,” he added. “But I am concerned about Sheldon Adelson and his billions. I’m concerned about the Koch Brothers and their billions. We’re looking at a system where our democracy is being owned by a handful of billionaires.”
The issues in the above lists are primarily, but not exclusively, based on economic views. Sanders, as opposed to Clinton, also has a strong record of support for liberal positions on foreign policy and social issues. While it is inevitable that economic issues will dominate the campaign this year, I hope that during the course of the campaign more is said about both Clinton’s hawkish foreign policy views, along with her conservative cultural views.