What is Bernie all About?

Feel the Bern round

Here is what Bernie is campaigning for and it is why Denise and I are Bernie people:

Income and wealth inequality: In the United States today we have the most unequal wealth and income distribution of any major country on earth — worse than at any time since the 1920s.

In terms of income, more than half of all new income is going to the top 1 percent. In other words, millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages, while virtually all new income growth goes to the people who need it the least.

This is a rigged economy. It is an economy which is not sustainable from a moral, economic or political perspective. Our economy must be changed in fundamental ways.

Jobs and income: The newspapers tell us that “official” unemployment is 5.1 percent. Real unemployment however, including those people who have given up looking for jobs and people who are working part-time when they want to work full-time, is 10.3 percent. And the youth unemployment rate is off the charts. For high school graduates between the ages of 17 and 20 years old, the real unemployment rate is 33.8 percent for white Americans, 36.1 percent for Hispanic Americans, and 51.3 percent for African Americans. This is nothing less than a national tragedy.

The fastest and most effective way to create a large number of good paying jobs is to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure — roads, bridges, rail, airports, water systems, waste water plants, etc. We can also create good paying jobs by hiring the teachers and pre-school educators we need to make sure our young people get a high-quality education.

We must end our disastrous trade policies, which are resulting in the outsourcing of jobs. That is why I am vigorously opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, and will do everything that I can to defeat it.

We need to raise the minimum wage to a living wage. Nobody who works 40 hours a week in our country should live in poverty. Over a period of a few years the national minimum wage should be $15 per hour.

We must end the disgrace of women earning 79 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as a man. We will fight for pay equity.

We need to end the scandal in which millions of Americans work 50 to 60 hours per week but receive no overtime pay. People who work overtime must get time and a half.

Campaign finance reform: As a result of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, American democracy is being undermined by the ability of the Koch brothers and other billionaire families to buy elections. These wealthy contributors can literally buy politicians and elections by spending hundreds of millions of dollars in support of the candidates of their choice. I introduced a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and will fight hard to make certain that we win that struggle. In the short term, we need to pass a disclosure law to rein in the political power of big money. In the long term, we need to move toward public funding of elections so that all candidates can run for office without being beholden to the wealthy and powerful.

Climate change: Climate change is real, it is caused by human activity, and it is already devastating our nation and planet. The United States must lead the world in combating climate change and transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels and toward energy efficiency and sustainability. We have a moral responsibility to make certain that our kids and grandchildren can live on a habitable planet.

College affordability: In a highly competitive global economy, the United States needs the best educated workforce in the world. Thirty years ago we led the world in the percentage of our people who had college degrees. Today we are in 12th place, and we are moving in the wrong direction. I have talked to too many young people who can no longer afford to go to college or are leaving school deeply in debt. This is not acceptable.

Every person in this country who has the desire and ability should be able to get all the education they need regardless of the income of their family. This is not a radical idea. In Germany, Scandinavia and many other countries, higher education is either free or very inexpensive. We must do the same.

Dismantling structural racism: Throughout much of our history, the elite in America have divided people along racial lines in an effort to consolidate wealth and power. We need to simultaneously address the structural and institutional racism which exists in this country while at the same time vigorously attacking the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality which is making the very rich much richer, and everyone else — especially the African-American community — much poorer.

Meanwhile, too many people of color in this country find themselves subjected to a system that treats citizens who have not committed crimes like criminals. We have more people locked up in jail than any other country on earth. We need to invest in jobs and education, not jails and incarceration.

Finally, no person should have to worry that a routine interaction with law enforcement will end in violence or death. Black lives matter: we must reform our criminal justice system, move away from the militarization of police forces, and invest in community policing.

Health care: Shamefully, the United States remains the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care to all people. Despite the modest gains of the Affordable Care Act, 35 million Americans continue to lack health insurance and many more are underinsured. Yet, we continue to pay far more per capita for health care than any other nation. The United States must move toward a Medicare-for-all single-payer system. Health care is a right, not a privilege.

Poverty: The United States has more people living in poverty today than at almost any time in the modern history of our country. We have the highest rate of childhood poverty of nearly any major country, while millions of Americans struggle to put food on the table. The Republican response to the crisis of poverty in America? Give more tax breaks to billionaires and make savage cuts to health care, education and nutrition programs. My response is somewhat different. I believe that in a democratic, civilized society none of our people should be hungry or live in desperation. We need to expand Social Security, not cut it. We need to increase funding for nutrition programs, not cut them.

Tax reform: We need real tax reform which makes the rich and profitable corporations begin to pay their fair share of taxes. It is absurd that in 1952, corporate income taxes provided 32 percent of federal revenue, but in 2014 they provided only 11 percent. It is scandalous that major profitable corporations like General Electric, Verizon, Citigroup and Bank of America have, in a given recent year, paid nothing in federal income taxes. It is fiscally irresponsible that the U.S. Treasury loses about $100 billion a year because corporations and the rich stash their profits in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and other tax havens.

Warren Buffett is honest. He has pointed out the unfairness that he, a multi-billionaire, pays a lower effective tax rate than his secretary. It is not acceptable that billionaire hedge fund managers are able to pay lower effective tax rates than truck drivers or nurses because they take advantage of a variety of tax loopholes that their lobbyists wrote.

This must end. We need a tax system which is fair, and which is progressive. Children should not go hungry in this country while profitable corporations and the wealthy avoid their tax responsibilities.

The struggle to create a nation and world of economic and social justice and environmental sanity is not an easy one. The struggle to try and create a more peaceful world will be extremely difficult. But this I know: despair is not an option if we care about our kids and grandchildren. Giving up is not an option if we want to prevent irreparable harm to our planet.

We must stand up and fight back. We must launch a political revolution which engages millions of Americans from all walks of life in the struggle for real change. This country belongs to all of us, not just the billionaire class. And that’s what our campaign is all about.

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