FB Share
Email This Page
add comment
Print

Sanders writes: "It is all about ideology. It is all about economic winners and losers in American society. It is all about the power of Big Money. It is all about the soul of America."

Sen. Bernie Sanders gestures as he speaks at the California Democrats State Convention. (photo: AP)
Sen. Bernie Sanders gestures as he speaks at the California Democrats State Convention. (photo: AP)


The Soul of America

By Sen. Bernie Sanders, Reader Supported News

10 January 13

 

espite such terminology as "fiscal cliff" and "debt ceiling," the great debate taking place in Washington now has relatively little to do with financial issues. It is all about ideology. It is all about economic winners and losers in American society. It is all about the power of Big Money. It is all about the soul of America.

In America today, we have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on earth, and more inequality than at any time period since 1928. The top 1 percent owns 42 percent of the financial wealth of the nation, while, incredibly, the bottom 60 percent own only 2.3 percent. One family, the Walton family of Wal-Mart, owns more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans. In terms of income distribution in 2010, the last study done on this issue, the top 1 percent earned 93 percent of all new income while the bottom 99 percent shared the remaining 7 percent.

Despite the reality that the rich are becoming much richer while the middle class collapses and the number of Americans living in poverty is at an all-time high, the Republicans and their billionaire backers want more, more, and more. The class warfare continues.

My Republican colleagues say that the deficits are a spending problem, not a revenue problem. What these deficit-hawk hypocrites won't talk about is their spending. They won't discuss what they did to dig the country into this $1 trillion deep deficit hole. They waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq without paying for them. They gave away huge tax breaks for the rich. They squandered taxpayer dollars on the pharmaceutical industry by making it illegal for Medicare to bargain for lower drug prices. They also rescinded financial regulations that enabled Wall Street to operate like a gambling casino, leading to a severe recession that eroded tax revenue and left more than 14 percent of American workers unemployed or underemployed.

Now, despite the deficits their policies helped to create and despite the enormous suffering which exists in our society, the Republicans want to cut Social Security, veterans' programs, Medicare, Medicaid, education, nutrition programs, and virtually every program which benefits low- and moderate-income Americans. They choose to turn their backs on the economic reality facing a significant part of our population: high unemployment, reduced wages, 50 million without health insurance, college graduates saddled with enormous student debt and elderly people living in desperation. And they have tried to slam the door on any further discussion about how to raise revenue by ending tax loopholes and unfair tax breaks.

Republicans like Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who say the revenue debate is over don't want you to consider these facts:

  • Federal revenue today, at 15.8 percent of GDP, is lower today than it was 60 years ago. During the last year of the Clinton administration, when we had a significant federal surplus, federal revenue was 20.6 percent of GDP.

  • Today corporate profits are at an all-time high, while corporate income tax revenue as a percentage of GDP is near a record low.

  • In 2011, corporate revenue as a percentage of GDP was just 1.2 percent - lower than any other major country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, including Britain, Germany, France, Japan, Canada, Norway, Australia, South Korea, Switzerland, Norway, Italy, Ireland, Poland, and Iceland.

  • In 2011, corporations paid just 12 percent of their profits in taxes, the lowest since 1972.

  • In 2005, one out of four large corporations paid no income taxes at all while they collected $1.1 trillion in revenue over that one-year period.

We know where the Republicans are coming from. What about the Democrats? Will President Obama fulfill his campaign pledge to "protect the middle class" or will he surrender to right-wing blackmail? Will Democrats in the House and Senate stand with the vast majority of our citizens and such organizations as AARP, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the AFL-CIO, the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and every other veterans' organization in the fight against cuts to Social Security and veterans' programs, or will they agree to a disastrous corporate-backed "chained CPI" concept which makes major benefit cuts to those programs and raises taxes on low-income workers?

The simple truth is there are relatively easy ways to deal with the deficit crisis - without attacking the elderly, the children the sick or the poor.

For example, we have got to eliminate loopholes in the tax code that allow large corporations and the wealthy to avoid more than $100 billion in taxes every year by setting up offshore tax shelters in places like the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and the Bahamas. This situation has become so absurd that one five-story office building in the Cayman Islands is now the "home" to more than 18,000 corporations.

Further, we must also end tax breaks for companies shipping American jobs overseas. Today, the United State government continues to reward companies that move American manufacturing jobs abroad, despite the fact that millions of American jobs have been outsourced to China, Mexico, and other low wage countries over the past decade. The Joint Committee on Taxation (the official revenue scorekeeper in Congress) has estimated that we could raise more than $582 billion in revenue over the next decade by eliminating these offshore tax loopholes.

We must also recognize that Wall Street recklessness caused the economic crisis, and it has a responsibility to reduce the deficit. Establishing a 0.03 percent Wall Street speculation fee, similar to what we had from 1914-1966, would dampen the dangerous level of speculation and gambling on Wall Street, encourage the financial sector to invest in the productive economy and reduce the deficit by more than $350 billion over 10 years.

We are entering a pivotal moment in the modern history of our country. Do the elected officials in Washington stand with ordinary Americans - working families, children, the elderly, the poor - or will the extraordinary power of billionaire campaign contributors and Big Money prevail? The American people, by the millions, must send Congress the answer to that question.

 

Comments   

We are concerned about a recent drift towards vitriol in the RSN Reader comments section. There is a fine line between moderation and censorship. No one likes a harsh or confrontational forum atmosphere. At the same time everyone wants to be able to express themselves freely. We'll start by encouraging good judgment. If that doesn't work we'll have to ramp up the moderation.

General guidelines: Avoid personal attacks on other forum members; Avoid remarks that are ethnically derogatory; Do not advocate violence, or any illegal activity.

Remember that making the world better begins with responsible action.

- The RSN Team

 
+72 # tswhiskers 2013-01-10 09:41
Again, Bernie, you are right on. The Reps. have been doing their best to forget why we are in this huge deficit and most Rep. voters, thanks to typically short memory spans go along with them in blaming Dems for putting other interests before paying down the deficit. I think it's clear that our political system is badly corrupted, thus allowing the media and the public to blame both parties for current political woes. A few in the media have been putting the blame chiefly on the Reps. but it would help to clarify the argument if Dems had cleaner hands and were not so close to big money. It would also help if Dems would stand united on the battles coming up in March. The Senate should be able to pass any Dem or progressive legislation. And thanks to the increased # of Dems in the House it should be easier to pass sensible legislation there. And please, Harry Reid, change the filibuster rule in the Senate. This above all else will make it easier to pass gun and other needed legislation.
 
 
-31 # Jonathan Levy 2013-01-10 12:06
The republicans are openly assholes and the dems pretend they work for us when they clearly don't. Figures your wimpy pandering post would get likes on here. Bernie offers nothing here but a disempowering and incorrect assumption that his leaders, Barry, in particular, have the slightest interest in helping the American people when barry has done nothing of the sort to this day. Bernie affirms the theater and in doing so, completely disempowers the movement he says he supports. Yeah, you agree with what he says but such is like agreeing with analysis in why Hulk Hogan won his pro wrestling matches. He is operating in world of theater, a theater he will not point out.
 
 
+8 # tabonsell 2013-01-10 18:13
Sen. Bernie may be "right on" again, but can anybody get him or other "progressive" legislators to listen to us out here.

Sanders wants a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision, which takes considerable time to accomplish. It has been pointed out to him there is a quicker and easier route to take until an amendment is finalized.

Use legislative power to regulate commerce with a law stating that all money a corporation has is legally owned by the employees, whose labor created the wealth, and the shareholders, who own the corporation. Make it illegal for any CEO or board of directors to use that money for any purpose not directly related to the core function of the business without the approval of those groups. Those opposed to using corporate money for political or lobbying purposes get their share of the proposed spending in the form of wage bonuses or higher dividend payments.

This has been proposed to Sanders, but as yet no action from him. It is a solution to some of our problems that Sanders has chosen to ignore.

Let the GOP oppose such a law and alienate the millions of shareholders who have been ripped off for decades by corporate insiders. (See how Enron insiders did that in the book "Saving America: Using Democratic Capitalism to Rescue the Nation from Economic Folly")
 
 
0 # robcarter.vn 2013-01-13 00:37
Of course Bernie is right, but will someone explain accounting to them all, it may help his arguement that REPUBLICANS spend most to Corp War Suppliers 1% Profiteers. When they talk budget they talk Budget expense not Capital Items buying special budgets. the deficit is in operating defense, operating government, Entitlements are ten called one name for, health Welfare, none of them need much Capital for new Assets that is were Defense spends the trillions on machines and buildings etc. They are were the Deficit for payment comes from, there is were the default is Asset buys. Thats why they have the funny Budget group called ENTITLEMENTS to confuse that workers are spending more than Defense & government,it is Lies and tricks from woe to go in both Parties there.
 
 
+1 # robcarter.vn 2013-01-13 23:30
You are all idiots if you cant see Wen they talk defense budget they do not include any Capital Purchases like Rovers to Mars, or New sips. Only a lost or destroyed one.

Wen they talk the things that come as entitled to you workers = pensions health and junior education etc. they lump them as 1 budget item to say you et 48% entitlements and they et just 52% over all items government Defense etc> Your entitlements must be reduced not profit to new spaceship builder 1% corp Billionaires or subs or sips or un stocks or or or. They demand dont increase their tax lower your entitlements, dont lower your War machine and Space Capital items purchases.
 
 
+40 # tomtom 2013-01-10 10:47
The poor, sick and wretched are not represented by their peers. You have to be raising a family, homelessly, feel the reality of being in pain, Hungry, cold, to undérstand enough, to make the changes neccessary to rectify this enormouse, yet, achievable goal. Within one week of conscientious effort, on a local level, with some national guidelines and expert input, every person in América could be Eating nutricional meals, regularly. We are in such a negative mindset, we are being taught that we aren't able to help our own fellow citizens cure their illnesses, house, clothe, educate, their children, etc. Talk about identity theft, our soul have been stolen!
 
 
+3 # Smokey 2013-01-10 11:58
[quote name="tomtom"] "Within one week of conscientious effort, on a local level, with some national guidelines and expert input, every person in América could be eating nutricional meals, regularly. We are in such a negative mindset, we are being taught that we aren't able to help our own fellow citizens cure their illnesses, house, clothe, educate, their children, etc. Talk about identity theft, our soul have been stolen! "

Are you suggesting that more government - and more public spending - won't solve all of our nation's problems? In this conversation, you sound like some sort of radical.

I agree with everything that Bernie says in the essay above. Obviously, we can't have Social Security and an adequate health care system without significant government involvement. We can't "care for the sick" by collecting a few dimes and quarters at the local bar and grill. Charity alone isn't enough.

Still, tomtom gets it right on a few points that, maybe, Bernie doesn't grasp. Government alone won't take humanity to the Beloved Community. There's a need for "something else."
(A point that anarchists and many religious people understand.)
 
 
-17 # Jonathan Levy 2013-01-10 10:58
Obama is no more Bernie's friend than the republicans, unfortunately. Talk about sending jobs overseas: Obama's Asian free trade agreements do everything Bernie stands against. Bernie buys the theater that we have a two party system and a real debate. As a democrat he will not acknowledge Barry's full complicity with the republicans and, despite the NDAA and the recent appointment of a Bush torturer to head the CIA, for example, RSN and its sheepish Obama drones will still continue their silly unfounded fantasy that Obama will do anything but collude with the republicans as much as he can.
 
 
+50 # jon 2013-01-10 11:11
The win-win situation for the republicans is that by being the united front for big money, they have forced the democrats into a situation where they cannot run for office without accepting money from the exact same oligarchy - and we know what that results in, NO democracy.

Unless we get money out of elections, and restore the fairness in broadcasting act, democracy is history.
 
 
+22 # reiverpacific 2013-01-10 11:40
Y'know, you'd think the widening knowledge that the current Rethug-dominate d Congress is less popular even with the opiated American public, than Cockroaches and the lower orders of used car salesmen (I'm not making this up) and "Boner" in particular -with ol' "Bitch" o' KY right down there alongside, would persuade them to look at why.
But they really don't care and Mr golf-tan-crocod ile-tears just became speaker again in the face of public contempt.
Why Obama is still trying to work with these ciphers is beyond me!
If the Jackboot were on the other foot, they'd be rolling over the opposition with utter disregard and stomping on the remains.
So much for compromise!
Mr Sanders remains a lonely voice I'm afraid.
 
 
-25 # MidwestTom 2013-01-10 11:48
Bernie is again ignoring the role that Quantitative Easing has had on the difference between the wealthy and the rest of us. As the government increases the money supply, the price , in dollar terms, of any limited supply item goes up. The most obvious increases have been in gold, silver, oil, and the stock in major companies. When there is plenty of money in the banking system the price to borrow goes down.

In this situation those that must borrow to survive are encouraged by the banks, thus making them servants to their banking masters; while those with cash (wealth) invest in things that are in short supply and enjoy the increasing dollar value of their assets.

In attempting to create jobs they are enslaving us all, Read "The Road to Servitude".
 
 
+30 # rockieball 2013-01-10 12:31
But who owns most of the stocks in major companies? Who owns most of the stock and shares in gold silver and oil? The same people who own the Republican party. The same people who got those big tax breaks. The same major companies still getting government corporate welfare. The same people who banged the drums for those two wars and then made a profit off the dead bodies on both sides.
The Road to Servitude is already here and it's the servitude of the Republican party to that of the rich and the corporations. The servitude of the people who vote for them in the belief of the myth that they to will one day be rich, even as they grow old and vote against the same system (Social Security, Medicare and Medicare) that today keeps them alive.
 
 
-2 # MidwestTom 2013-01-10 13:53
Seven of the ten wealthiest Congressmen are Democrats. The Democratic party raised more money than the Republican party. I say this not because I think that democrats are wealthier than Republicans, but because anyone who thinks that all Democrats are poor and all republicans are rich, is basically nuts. Forget party labels, for the battle is between the top 2% and the rest of us; not Democrats vs Republicans. When the Democrat controlled the White House and both Houses, did they do anything to hurt the rich? I believe that 95% of those we elect are there for the power, not to help the country.
 
 
+1 # Jonathan Levy 2013-01-10 14:57
True, Tom, true, democrat and republican are merely labels to fool us into thinking we actually have a debate in congress. Both parties rep the same interests but these sheep on here don't get it
 
 
+3 # ericlipps 2013-01-10 16:39
Quoting MidwestTom:
Seven of the ten wealthiest Congressmen are Democrats. The Democratic party raised more money than the Republican party. I say this not because I think that democrats are wealthier than Republicans, but because anyone who thinks that all Democrats are poor and all republicans are rich, is basically nuts. Forget party labels, for the battle is between the top 2% and the rest of us; not Democrats vs Republicans. When the Democrat controlled the White House and both Houses, did they do anything to hurt the rich? I believe that 95% of those we elect are there for the power, not to help the country.


Suppose that last sentence is true: what should we do about it, Tom?

As for Democrats not doing anything to "hurt the rich" when they controlled Congres and th White House, you wouldn't know that from the way the wealthy elephants trumpetduring such periods about how the D's are "punishing the wealth creators."
 
 
0 # ericlipps 2013-01-10 16:35
Quoting MidwestTom:
Bernie is again ignoring the role that Quantitative Easing has had on the difference between the wealthy and the rest of us. As the government increases the money supply, the price , in dollar terms, of any limited supply item goes up. The most obvious increases have been in gold, silver, oil, and the stock in major companies. When there is plenty of money in the banking system the price to borrow goes down.
In this situation those that must borrow to survive are encouraged by the banks, thus making them servants to their banking masters; while those with cash (wealth) invest in things that are in short supply and enjoy the increasing dollar value of their assets.

In attempting to create jobs they are enslaving us all, Read "The Road to Servitude".

Those who must borrow to survive are ALWAYS encouraged by the banks. And the "increasing dollar value of . . . assets" held by the wealthy is a two-edged sword when the value of those dollars is declining.
 
 
+16 # James Marcus 2013-01-10 13:07
This is what we get, for allowing Thieves and Liars to Run our Government. We, The People, are no longer represented
(except by a small number of brave souls)
 
 
+14 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-01-10 13:15
What the public is not informed about:corporati ons use the federal tax money as a piggy bank. When they the corporations, are in trouble, they are loaned the middle class tax dollars and the dollars of the wealthy who do pay taxes. Corporations hate "big" also known as strong government until they are in financial trouble which they created by their own greed. Once the money is loaned, corporations have their money, big government (strong)is in their view, now great. Sometime after the money is loaned to them, they again hate big or strong government. If and when the money is paid back, they again "hate" big (strong) government. They then hire lobbyists to strip the government of rules and regulations that protect the public and again cause a collapse of the economy by their own doing. Comes the next recession.
 
 
+3 # geraldom 2013-01-10 13:32
Dear Sen Sanders. I hope that you get this message. For years I've heard you speak out in support of the little guy & I've heard you many times on "Brunch with Bernie." I've a lot of respect for you, Sen. You speak with passion, but the NDAA was simply the last straw for me.

I do know that you actually carried on a real honest-to-God filibuster several years ago in the Senate, the old fashion way. You actually got up on the podium & spoke for many hours. But, unfortunately, the old fashion filibuster where one stands up at a podium to speak isn't the type that will actually block a bad Bill unless you have 40 additional Sen votes to support you. When Repubs carry out a filibuster, they don't use the old system. With the current Senate rules, all that they have to do is simply threaten to filibuster a Bill or a pres appointee & that's enough to stop the Bill or the candidate in its or their tracks without questioning whether or not there are 40 additional vote to support the threat.

I spoke with one of you advisers in your Wash office & the bottom line here is that you refuse to filibuster the Repub way which, if you did, would've stopped the NDAA. In conclusion, you're great at talking the talk, but not so much at walking the walk. You could've stopped the Patriot Act, the Mil Commissions Act, the FISA Bill, & NDAA if you had filibustered the Repub way.

Sen Sanders, you could've saved & preserved our Constitution & our B of R.
 
 
+4 # tbcrawford 2013-01-10 13:43
Just wish one of you would also call for a financial transaction tax on all financial obligations! Bernie does speak unique truth about our situation and if we could clone him we might be saved but in the interim, there are basic practical steps we can and must take.

And, Obama may not be perfect but we do get a president the country deserves. (Sorry, don't know who said this first).
 
 
+2 # Jonathan Levy 2013-01-10 14:55
May not be perfect? More like in complete collusion with his supposed adversaries, the republicans. Look at the record
 
 
+6 # angelfish 2013-01-10 17:04
There ARE wealthy Democrats. The difference between them and their ReTHUGlican counter parts is that the Democrats, at the very least, fight for the poor working stiff, while the Thugs fight ONLY for their Mega-Wealthy Masters. I have hope that someday, Congress will begin to Police itself, treating their jobs just like ANY other job in America. They should abolish Salary for life and the attendant perqs that go with it. Let them pay into Social Security and Medicare and see how the REST of us have to subsist. Let them scramble for decent, AFFORDABLE Health Care and see how quickly they may see the GOOD of a Universal, Single Payer System. Bernie Sanders is a National Treasure and should be awarded the Medal of Freedom for his Never-ending Allegiance to ALL Americans. Hopefully, this NEW Congress will begin to actually WORK for Americans and begin earning their salary for a change. Time will tell.
 
 
+4 # Gnome de Pluehm 2013-01-10 17:34
"Now, despite the deficits their policies helped to create and despite the enormous suffering which exists in our society, the Republicans want to cut Social Security, veterans' programs, Medicare, Medicaid, education, nutrition programs, and virtually every program which benefits low- and moderate-income Americans. They choose to turn their backs on the economic reality facing a significant part of our population: high unemployment, reduced wages, 50 million without health insurance, college graduates saddled with enormous student debt and elderly people living in desperation. And they have tried to slam the door on any further discussion about how to raise revenue by ending tax loopholes and unfair tax breaks."

So? There are too many people in the world, anyway; let's starve a big bunch of them! That makes perfect sense as a motto they won't admit.
 
 
0 # hoodwinkednomore 2013-01-10 18:19
Yessa, Massa 1% anything you say, Massa 1%. Yessa. Yessa. I'll just keep slaving like you say, Massa 1%, until the end of time--that you know is comin' cuz you are makin' it come true and it will be fine, Massa 1%. Just fine, Massa 1%. And whateva, Johnathan Levy or the other moles have to say, just let 'em say it cuz they know everrthing, Massa 1 %. You tot me that, Massa 1%.


p.s. I love Bernie Sanders, Massa. WATCH OUT!
 
 
+3 # hoodwinkednomore 2013-01-10 18:25
You right, Massa 1%, you right. Anything you say, Massa 1%, anything you say. Yes, the world be ending soon, Massa 1%, cuz you say it so, and you been workin' harder than ever to make it happen, Massa 1% SO please just take me with you, Massa 1 % AND whatever the Johnathan Levy's or the other moles have to say about it just pity them,Massa cuz they just don't know how RIGHT ON Bernie Sanders is!!

Samuel L. Jackson said it quite perfectly, people: Wake the F Up!
 
 
+4 # tabonsell 2013-01-10 18:55
If Sen. Sanders wishes to defuse the calls on the right to solve our problems with massive spending cuts (when that has never succeeded in the past) here's all he needs to do.

Submit a proposal in Congress (or get President Obama to listen) requiring all member of Congress to submit a detailed proposal to cut one billion dollars spent in each member's district or state. No last-minute pork barrel proposals can be made only to then be considered for spending cuts.

And only from that member's district or state, no cutting from another locale. Then adjust that cut to reflect how much spending is done in that district and how much it pays in taxes. That is; if a district receives $1.5 dollars spent for each dollar collected in taxes the spending cut is adjusted to$1.5billion reduction. But if a district receives 75 cents for each dollar taxed, the spending cut is reduced to $750million.

Then send each member home to campaign for or against spending cuts. If the voters want a billion dollars or more cut from spending in their home district, they can re-elect that person, who can't repeal the proposal. If voters don't want to bite the bullet, they will elect a replacement politician who would then repeal the request for spending cuts. That way each politician can put his/her political career where their mouths are.

Such a proposal has been sent to the White House only to be totally ignored to date.
 
 
+7 # Dave45 2013-01-11 04:36
I appreciate Mr. Sanders' willingness to speak critically of his colleagues. They are indeed the problem. Political courage in the present House and Senate is hardly noticeable. I believe Sanders when he suggests that fixing the system would not be all that complicated. The problem is that our elected leaders (including our president) are, more than anything, interested in spending their time trying to find private sources who will give them money for their votes. All it would take is a reasonable raising of taxes on the rich and huge corporations, i.e., those who have benefited gloriously from the most recent bubble and their attempts to cover-up their own larceny. Taxing speculative financial transactions (many of which are nothing more nor less than sophisticated gambling) would easily get the support of the common people. But that is the catch; unfortunately, most Representatives and Senators care little about that group.
 

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.

RSNRSN