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Bernie Sanders on Budget & Economy

Democratic primry challenger; Socialist Senator; previously Representative (VT-At-Large)

 


Should top 1/10 of 1% owns as much wealth as the bottom 90%?

Is it acceptable that in America the top 0.1 percent now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. Is it acceptable that while the average American works longer hours for lower wages, 58 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent? Is it right that in the greatest, wealthiest country, so many of our young people can't even afford to go to college or leave school deeply in debt?
Source: 2016 PBS Democratic primary debate in Miami , Mar 9, 2016

Yes, limit size of government, but address inequality

Q: How big a role do you foresee for the federal government? It's already spending 21% of the entire US economy.

SANDERS: Well, to put that in a context, in the last 30 years in this country there has been a massive transfer of wealth going from the hands of working families into the top 1/10 of 1% whose percentage of wealth has doubled.

Q: But, my question is how big would government be? Would there be any limit on the size of the role of government?

SANDERS: Of course there will be a limit, but when today you have massive levels of income and wealth inequality, when the middle class is disappearing, yes, in my view, the government of a democratic society has a moral responsibility to play a vital role in making sure all of our people have a decent standard of living.

Hillary CLINTON: The best analysis that I've seen based on Senator Sanders plans is that it would probably increase the size of the federal government by about 40%.

Source: 2016 PBS Democratic debate in Wisconsin , Feb 11, 2016

I led the effort against deregulation, but we lost

SANDERS: Let's talk about why, in the 1990s, Wall Street got deregulated. Did it have anything to do with the fact that Wall Street spent billions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions?

CLINTON: You're the one who voted to deregulate swaps and derivatives in 2000, which contributed to the over-leveraging of Lehman Brothers, which was one of the culprits that brought down the economy. I'm not saying you did it for any kind of financial advantage. What we've got to do as Democrats is to be united to solve these problems.

SANDERS: I was on the House Financial Committee at that time. I heard the arguments coming from Democrats and Republicans -- Robert Rubin, Alan Greenspan -- about how great an idea it would be if we did away with Glass-Steagall and if we allowed investor banks and commercial banks and big insurance companies to merge. Go to YouTube today -- look up Greenspan -- it was the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression.

Source: MSNBC Democratic primary debate in New Hampshire , Feb 4, 2016

We need a 21st-century Glass-Steagall legislation

CLINTON: I have great respect for Senator Sanders's commitment to try to restore Glass-Steagall [regulatory legislation which was overturned in 2000, setting the stage for the deregulated banking crisis of 2008].

SANDERS: I would say that we do need a 21st century Glass-Steagall legislation. I would tell you also that when you have three out of the four largest banks in America today, significantly bigger than when we bailed them out because they were too big to fail, I think if Teddy Roosevelt were alive today, a good Republican by the way, what he would say is: Break them up; they are too powerful economically; they are too powerful politically. And that is what I believe and many economists believe. Time to break them up.

Source: MSNBC Democratic primary debate in New Hampshire , Feb 4, 2016

The greed of the billionaire class is destroying our economy

We've got to deal with the elephant in the room, which is the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street. When you have six financial institutions in this country that issue 2/3 of the credit cards and 1/3 of the mortgages, when 3 out of 4 of them are larger today than when we bailed them out because they are too big to fail, we've got to re- establish Glass-Steagall, we have got to break the large financial institutions up.

I don't have a super PAC. I don't want campaign contributions from corporate America.

And let me be clear: While there are some great corporations creating jobs and trying to do the right thing, in my view--and I say this very seriously--the greed of the billionaire class, the greed of Wall Street is destroying this economy and is destroying the lives of millions of Americans. We need an economy that works for the middle class, not just a handful of billionaires, and I will fight and lead to make that happen.

Source: 2015 ABC/WMUR Democratic primary debate in N.H. , Dec 19, 2015

Almost all new wealth goes to the top 1%

I think most Americans understand that our country today faces a series of unprecedented crises. The middle class of this country for the last 40 years has been disappearing. Millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages, and yet almost all of the new income and wealth being created is going to the top one percent.

Millionaires and billionaires are pouring unbelievable sums of money into the political process in order to fund super PACs and to elect candidates who represent their interests, not the interests of working people. What this campaign is about is whether we can mobilize our people to take back our government from a handful of billionaires and create the vibrant democracy we know we can and should have.

It is immoral and wrong that the top 1/10 of 1% in this country own almost 90 percent--almost--own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. That it is wrong, today, in a rigged economy, that 57% of all new income is going to the top 1%.

Source: 2015 CNN Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas , Oct 13, 2015

Economic justice: Address root causes of economic inequality

The main goal of Bernie's career in politics has been to address the root causes of economic inequality. He calls for expanding the social safety net, creating more well-paying jobs, and reforming systems that perpetuate inequality such as our broken criminal justice system. The main steps to achieving economic justice are:
Source: 2016 grassroots campaign website FeelTheBern.org, "Issues" , Sep 5, 2015

Economic issues take a larger toll on minority groups

I think the nationwide issues that we are dealing with, combating youth unemployment, talking about the need that public colleges and universities should be tuition free, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, creating millions of jobs by rebuilding our infrastructure, are issues that should apply to every American.

But to be honest with you, given the disparity that we're seeing in income and wealth in this country, it applies even more to the African-American community and to the Hispanic community. And what we are going to do is make a major outreach effort to those communities.

Source: ABC This Week 2015 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jun 28, 2015

Break up large banks; add fees for high-risk investments

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.
Source: PBS News Hour "2016 Candidate Stands" series , Apr 30, 2015

We've transferred trillions from middle class to the top 1%

Q: Please comment on this: (VIDEO CLIP): CLINTON: There's something wrong when hedge fund managers pay lower tax rates than nurses or the truckers that I saw on I-80 as I was driving here.

SANDERS: Well, she's absolutely right. What we're seeing, is that for 40 years, the American middle class has been disappearing. Millions of people are working longer hours for lower wages despite a huge increase in technology and productivity. And what we have seen during that period is a massive transfer of trillions of dollars from the middle class to the top 1/10 of 1% of America--massive wealth and income inequality, where you have 99% of all new income today going to the top 1%.

Q: You said you had serious doubts about whether she was willing to take on the billionaire class?

SANDERS: That is the fight that we have to wage if we're to save the middle class: take on the big money interests who control so much of our economy and, as a result of Citizens United, our political process as well.

Source: Fox News Sunday 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Apr 19, 2015

Comprehensive 12-step agenda for moving America forward

Agenda for America: 12 Steps Forward
  1. Rebuilding Our Crumbling Infrastructure
  2. Reversing Climate Change
  3. Creating Worker Co-ops
  4. Growing the Trade Union Movement
  5. Raising the Minimum Wage
  6. Pay Equity for Women Workers
  7. Trade Policies that Benefit American Workers
  8. Making College Affordable for All
  9. Taking on Wall Street
  10. Health Care as a Right for All
  11. Protecting the Most Vulnerable Americans
  12. Real Tax Reform
Source: 12 Steps Forward, by Sen. Bernie Sanders , Jan 15, 2015

Dairy price fluctuations help no one but speculators

Vermont's rural communities and its working landscape were formed by dairy farms. Its rural communities, and its working landscape, continue to be shaped by dairy farms today.

Farms, unlike businesses that can slow down or increase production, often face a stark choice: when prices drop, and loans are called in, they all too frequently must be sold. And then, suddenly, there is not enough milk, and the price of cheese and milk to consumers rises rapidly. These huge fluctuations help no one but speculators--not consumers, not dairy-based businesses, not tractor salesmen--and they particularly do not help or sustain farmers.

The best policy is to develop a system of supply management, so that dairy farmers never severely overproduce or underproduce, thereby stabilizing prices and ensuring a sufficient amount of high-quality dairy products for our country.

Source: Sanders Intro to `Milk Money`, by K. Kardashian, p. vii-viii , Oct 9, 2012

Why did we bail out South Korea?

I think the American people are interested to know that the Fed bailed out the Korea Development Bank, the wholly owned, state-owned Bank of South Korea, by purchasing over $2 billion of its commercial paper. The sole purpose of the Korea Development Bank is to finance and manage major industrial projects to enhance the national economy not of the United States of America but of South Korea. I am not against South Korea. I wish the South Koreans all the luck in the world. But it should not be the taxpayers of the United States lending their banks' money to create jobs in South Korea. I would suggest maybe we want to create jobs in the United States of America. At the same time, the Fed also extended over $40 billion for the Central Bank of South Korea so that it had enough money to bail out its own banks.
Source: The Speech: A Historic Filibuster, by Bernie Sanders , Dec 10, 2010

Middle class spending $2,200 each to bail out Wall Street

We have a bailout package today which says to the middle class that you are being asked to place at risk $700 billion, which is $2,200 for every man, woman, and child in this country. You are being asked to do that in order to undo the damage caused by this excessive Wall Street greed. In other words, the "Masters of the Universe," those brilliant Wall Street insiders who have made more money than the average American can even dream of, have brought our financial system to the brink of collapse, and now, as the American and world financial systems teeter on the edge of a meltdown, these multimillionaires are demanding that the middle class, which has already suffered under Bush's disastrous economic policies, pick up the pieces they broke. That is wrong and that is something I will not support.
Source: Outsider in the White House, by Bernie Sanders, p.324 , Oct 1, 2008

Voted YES on $192B additional anti-recession stimulus spending.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. LEWIS (D, GA-5): This bipartisan bill will provide the necessary funds to keep important transportation projects operating in States around the country. The Highway Trust Fund will run out of funding by September. We must act, and we must act now.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. CAMP (R, MI-4): [This interim spending is] needed because the Democrats' economic policy has resulted in record job loss, record deficits, and none of the job creation they promised. Democrats predicted unemployment would top out at 8% if the stimulus passed; instead, it's 9.5% and rising. In Michigan, it's above 15%. The Nation's public debt and unemployment, combined, has risen by a shocking 40% [because of] literally trillions of dollars in additional spending under the Democrats' stimulus, energy, and health plans.

We had a choice when it came to the stimulus last February. We could have chosen a better policy of stimulating private-sector growth creating twice the jobs at half the price. That was the Republican plan. Instead, Democrats insisted on their government focus plan, which has produced no jobs and a mountain of debt.

Reference: Omnibus Appropriations Act Amendment; Bill H.R. 3357 ; vote number 2009-S254 on Jul 30, 2009

Voted YES on modifying bankruptcy rules to avoid mortgage foreclosures.

Congressional Summary:Amends federal bankruptcy law to exclude debts secured by the debtor's principal residence that was either sold in foreclosure or surrendered to the creditor.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. PETER WELCH (D, VT-0): Citigroup supports this bill. Why? They're a huge lender. They understand that we have to stabilize home values in order to begin the recovery, and they need a tool to accomplish it. Mortgages that have been sliced and diced into 50 different sections make it impossible even for a mortgage company and a borrower to come together to resolve the problem that they share together.

Sen. DICK DURBIN (D, IL): 8.1 million homes face foreclosure in America today. Last year, I offered this amendment to change the bankruptcy law, and the banking community said: Totally unnecessary. In fact, the estimates were of only 2 million homes in foreclosure last year. America is facing a crisis.

Opponent's argument to vote No:

Sen. JON KYL (R, AZ): This amendment would allow bankruptcy judges to modify home mortgages by lowering the principal and interest rate on the loan or extending the term of the loan. The concept in the trade is known as cram-down. It would apply to all borrowers who are 60 days or more delinquent. Many experts believe the cram-down provision would result in higher interest rates for all home mortgages. We could end up exacerbating this situation for all the people who would want to refinance or to take out loans in the future.

Rep. MICHELE BACHMANN (R, MN-6): Of the foundational policies of American exceptionalism, the concepts that have inspired our great Nation are the sanctity of private contracts and upholding the rule of law. This cramdown bill crassly undercuts both of these pillars of American exceptionalism. Why would a lender make a 30-year loan if they fear the powers of the Federal Government will violate the very terms of that loan?

Reference: Helping Families Save Their Homes Act; Bill HR1106&S896 ; vote number 2009-S185 on May 6, 2009

Voted YES on additional $825 billion for economic recovery package.

Congressional Summary:Supplemental appropriations for job preservation and creation, infrastructure investment, energy efficiency and science, assistance to the unemployed, and State and local fiscal stabilization, for fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2009.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. DAVID OBEY (D, WI-7): This country is facing what most economists consider to be the most serious and the most dangerous economic situation in our lifetimes. This package today is an $825 billion package that does a variety of things to try to reinflate the economy:

  1. creating or saving at least 4 million jobs
  2. rebuilding our basic infrastructure
  3. providing for job retraining for those workers who need to learn new skills
  4. moving toward energy independence
  5. improving our healthcare system so all Americans can have access to quality treatment
  6. providing tax cuts to lessen the impact of this crisis on America's working families.

Opponent's argument to vote No:

Rep. JERRY LEWIS (R, CA-51): Most of us would agree that the recent $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) is an illustration of how good intentions don't always deliver desired results. When Congress spends too much too quickly, it doesn't think through the details and oversight becomes more difficult. The lesson learned from TARP was this: we cannot manage what we do not measure. We cannot afford to make the same mistake again.

Sen. THAD COCHRAN (R, MS): We are giving the executive branch immense latitude in the disbursement of the spending this bill contains. We are doing so without any documentation of how this spending will stimulate the economy. Normally, this kind of information would be contained in an administration budget. For items that have a short-term stimulative effect, most of us will feel comfortable debating their merits as an emergency measure. But there is a great deal of spending that is not immediately stimulative.

Reference: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; Bill H.R.1 ; vote number 2009-S061 on Feb 10, 2009

Voted YES on $60B stimulus package for jobs, infrastructure, & energy.

Congressional Summary:
    Supplemental appropriations for:
  1. Infrastructure Investments: Transportation: DOT, FAA, AMTRAK, and FTA
  2. Clean Water (EPA)
  3. Flood Control and Water Resources (ACE)
  4. 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities (ED)
  5. Energy Development (DOE)
  6. Extension of Unemployment Compensation and Job Training
  7. Temporary Increase in Medicaid Matching Rate
  8. Temporary Increase in Food Assistance

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. DAVID OBEY (D, WI-7): Congress has tried to do a number of things that would alleviate the squeeze on the middle class. Meanwhile, this economy is sagging. Jobs, income, sales, and industrial production have all gone down. We have lost 600,000 jobs. We are trying to provide a major increase in investments to modernize our infrastructure and to provide well-paying construction jobs at the same time.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. JERRY LEWIS (R, CA-41): Just 2 days ago we were debating an $800 billion continuing resolution. Now in addition to being asked to pay for a bailout for Wall Street, taxpayers are being asked to swallow an additional $60 billion on a laundry list of items I saw for the first time just a few hours ago. The Democratic majority is describing this legislation as a "stimulus package" to help our national economy. But let's not fool ourselves. This is a political document pure and simple. If these priorities are so important, why hasn't this bill gone through the normal legislative process? We should have debated each of the items included in this package.

It doesn't take an economist to tell you that the economy needs our help. But what does this Congress do? It proposes to spend billions more without any offsets in spending. The failure to adhere to PAYGO means that this new spending will be financed through additional borrowing, which will prove a further drag on our struggling economy.

Reference: Job Creation and Unemployment Relief Act; Bill S.3604&HR7110 ; vote number 2008-S206 on Sep 26, 2008

Voted NO on paying down federal debt by rating programs' effectiveness.

Amendment intends to pay down the Federal debt and eliminate government waste by reducing spending on programs rated ineffective by the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART).

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

My amendment says we are going to take about $18 billion as a strong signal from the Congress that we want to support effective programs and we want the taxpayer dollars spent in a responsible way. My amendment doesn't take all of the $88 billion for the programs found by PART, realizing there may be points in time when another program is not meeting its goals and needs more money. So that flexibility is allowed in this particular amendment. It doesn't target any specific program. Almost worse than being rated ineffective, we have programs out there that have made absolutely no effort at all to measure their results. I believe these are the worst offenders. In the following years, I hope Congress will look at those programs to create accountability.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

The effect of this amendment will simply be to cut domestic discretionary spending $18 billion. Understand the programs that have been identified in the PART program are results not proven. Here are programs affected: Border Patrol, Coast Guard search and rescue, high-intensity drug trafficking areas, LIHEAP, rural education, child abuse prevention, and treatment. If there is a problem in those programs, they ought to be fixed. We ought not to be cutting Border Patrol, Coast Guard search and rescue, high-intensity drug trafficking areas, LIHEAP, rural education, and the rest. I urge a "no" vote.

Reference: Allard Amendment; Bill S.Amdt.491 on S.Con.Res.21 ; vote number 2007-090 on Mar 22, 2007

Voted NO on restricting bankruptcy rules.

Vote to pass the bill that would require debtors who are able to pay back $10,000 or 25 percent of their debts over five years to file under Chapter 13, rather then seeking to discharge their debts under Chapter 7. Chapter 13, calls for a reorganization of debts under a repayment plan. A Debtor would be restricted, in this bill, to a total exemption of $125,000 in home equity for residences bought within 40 months of a bankruptcy filing. The bill also would establish permanent and retroactive Chapter 12 bankruptcy relief for farmers.
Reference: Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act; Bill S 1920 ; vote number 2004-10 on Jan 28, 2004

More enforcement of mortgage fraud and TARP fraud.

Sanders signed Fight Fraud Act

Source: S.386&HR1748 2009-S386 on May 4, 2009

Ban abusive credit practices & enhance consumer disclosure.

Sanders signed Credit CARD Act

Source: S.414 & H.R.627 2009-S414 on Feb 11, 2009

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