Bernie Sanders' Political Views
Biography of Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders currently represents the state of Vermont in the United States Senate and was the primary competitor to Hilary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic Presidential Nomination, winning a number of primaries and caucuses but ultimately losing the nomination after a long campaign. Well known for his progressive politics, Sanders began his political career as the mayor of Burlington, Vermont, the largest city in the state, winning election in 1979 after spending much of the 1970s running unsuccessfully for various offices as an anti-war candidate. He served as Mayor from 1981-1988, then was elected to the U.S. Congress as Vermont's sole representative in 1990, a position he held until 2006, when he was elected to the Senate. Sanders is an Independent candidate who has historically caucused with the Democratic Party because of his progressive views, however, he officially joined the Democratic Party in 2015 in order to make his presidential run. This hub will attempt to get past Bernie's labels to look at his political views.
Bernie Sanders on the Issues
1. Economic Growth and Job Creation. Sanders has highlighted the lack of economic growth, wage growth, and job availability for the Middle and working classes as one of the biggest reasons for why he is running for President. He has called for a gradual increase of the minimum wage to $15 an hour, calling the current minimum wage "a starvation wage" and stating "Anyone who works 40 hours in a week in America should not be in poverty." Sanders also supports pay equity for female workers so they make the same amount of money as men for the same amount of work.
2. Financial Regulation. One of Sanders's most important issues has been increased regulations of big banks and the financial industry. As early as 2003 Sanders called then Chairman Alan Greenspan "you see the major function of your position as the need to represent the wealthy and major corporations." He has repeatedly voted for measures designed to increase consumer protections on things such as credit card and debit card fees, predatory lending, and other financial activities. In early 2015, he penned an op-ed for the Huffington Post calling for the break-up of big banks, stating "No single financial institution should have holdings so extensive that its failure would send the world economy into crisis. If an institution is too big to fail, it is too big to exist."
3. Taxes and Budgets: Sanders has generally voted against tax cuts for the wealthy during his time in Congress, voting to increase the tax rate paid by those with annual incomes over $1 million in 2008, voting against the decision to raise the estate tax threshold from $5 million to $10 million in 2007, and repeatedly pointing out the fact that the share of tax revenue coming from corporations has dipped dramatically from the 1950s (when it was around 30%) to the present 9-10%. In early 2015, Sanders also proposed removing the cap on social security tax, which currently on taxes income up to $118,500, a move he says will "immediately bring in enough revenue to the Social Security trust fund to extend it for decades and also be able to increase benefits."
4. Foreign Policy: Sanders has consistently been against U.S. intervention in the Middle East, voting against the Iraq War in 2002 and voting against U.S. involvement in Kosovo in 1999. In 2015, he has repeatedly made statements criticizing the Republican Party for warmongering against Iran, stating "[M]y Republican friends seem to be itching for that war...When you sabotage the effort to reach a peace agreement by the leader of the United States of America...that, to me, is really unspeakable." Sanders was also one of only a few members of Congress to oppose the passage and extensions of the Patriot Act, which gave greater latitude to the NSA and other intelligence agencies to conduct surveillance to protect homeland security, a decision that he has said was validated by recent revelations that the NSA was spying on American citizens. Sanders has also been known for his support of veterans rights and groups, co-sponsoring a bill with Senator John McCain to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs in the wake of scandals about the VA's quality of care in 2014. For his work on veterans issues, Sanders was awarded the Colonel Arthur T. Marix Congressional Leadership Award from the Military Officers Association of America.
5. Gun Control: Sanders has generally supported measures to increase protections against gun violence, voting for background screenings for mental health for all gun buyers and a ban on high-capacity magazines in 2013 in the wake of the school shootings in Newtown, CT. Sanders explained his votes as follows: "There is a growing consensus, however, in Vermont and across America that we have got to do as much as we can to end the cold-blooded, mass murders of innocent people. I believe very strongly that we also have got to address the mental health crisis in our country and make certain that help is available for people who may be a danger to themselves and others."
6. Environmental Issues: Sanders has been a strong advocate for the environment and has repeatedly stressed the importance of federal action to combat the effects of climate change. His website states "The United States must lead the world in tackling climate change and make certain that this planet is habitable for our children and grandchildren. We must transform our energy system away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energies. 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."
7. Social Issues: Sanders has generally been very supportive of gay rights and a women's right to choose. He voted against the constitutional amendment banning same sax marriage in 2004 and has been awarded consistent high ratings from the Human Rights Campaign, NARAL, the ACLU, and other civil rights related advocacy groups. In 2015, Sanders called for the Supreme Court to make gay marriage legal nationwide, stating "Of course all citizens deserve equal rights....It’s time for the Supreme Court to catch up to the American people and legalize gay marriage."
Bernie is Sick and Tired of Billionaires Getting Special Treatment!
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