Bernie Sanders on Families & Children

Democratic primary challenger; Independent VT Senator; previously Representative (VT-At-Large)


Half of Americans are women; and half my Cabinet will be

Q: How will your Cabinet ensure the best advice on issues that affect women's physical and financial health?

Bernie Sanders: My Cabinet will look like America. Over half of the people in America are women and that will be the representation in my Cabinet and my administration. And in terms of policies, I have consistently believed that it is a women's right to control her own body, not the government's. I have believed that we have got to deal with domestic violence in this country. I have made the case that we cannot have women in America earning 80 cents on the dollar compared to men. We need to have universal, affordable, high-quality childcare, so women who are single or married can go off to work and know that their kids are going to be well taken care of. So I think my agenda is very strong agenda in fighting for the rights of women.

Joe Biden: I commit it that if I'm elected President, my Cabinet will look like the country. And I commit that I'll pick a woman to be Vice President.

Source: 11th Democratic primary debate (Biden-Sanders one-on-one) , Mar 15, 2020

Guaranteed child care: Age 0 to 4 are most important years

Q: Will you universal childcare program be free for everyone regardless of income?

SANDERS: Yeah. Every psychologist in the world knows zero through 4 are the most important years of human life, intellectually and emotionally. And yet our current childcare system is an embarrassment, it is unaffordable. Childcare workers are making wages lower than McDonald's workers. We need to fundamentally change priorities in America. We should not be one of a few countries that does not have universal high-quality affordable childcare. We should not be one of the only major countries not to guarantee health care to all people as a human right. We should not be spending more than the 10 next countries on the military, hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, tax breaks for billionaires, and then tell the moms and dads in this country we cannot have high-quality affordable childcare.

Source: 7th Democrat primary debate, on eve of Iowa caucus , Jan 14, 2020

Trump threw 32M families off healthcare, socialism not issue

Gov. John HICKENLOOPER: If we don't clearly define that we are not socialists, the Republicans are going to come at us every way they can and call us socialists.

Sen. Bernie SANDERS: The American people understand that Trump is a phony, that Trump is a pathological liar and a racist, and that he lied to the American people during his campaign. He said he was going to stand up for working families. Well, President Trump, you're not standing up for working families when you try to throw 32 million people off health care and 83% of your tax benefits go to the top 1%. That's how we beat Trump: We expose him for the fraud that he is.

Source: June Democratic Primary debate (second night in Miami) , Jun 27, 2019

Workers need paid family leave and paid sick leave

The Family and Medical Leave Act that Congress passed in 1993 is totally inadequate for our twenty-first-century workforce. It covers only employees in companies with fifty or more employees, and it requires only unpaid, rather than paid, leave. The economic benefits of a paid family and medical leave more than outweigh the very modest costs of this program.

Women who have paid family leave are more likely to stay in the workforce and off federal programs like Medicaid, food stamps, and public housing.

Families that have paid leave are much less likely to declare bankruptcy. And children have a greater chance of leading healthy and more productive lives if their parents have paid family leave.

We have to make sure that workers in this country have paid sick time. Forty-three million Americans don't have access to paid sick leave today.

Source: Guide to Political Revolution, by Bernie Sanders, p. 19-20 , Aug 29, 2017

Real family values: time with newborn and sick relatives

The right has claimed the mantle of "family values" for far too long. When my Republican colleagues use this term they're usually talking about things like opposing contraception, denying a woman's right to choose, opposing gay rights, and supporting abstinence-only education. Let me give a somewhat different perspective on family values--on REAL family values.

When a mother cannot spend time with her newborn child during the first weeks and months of that baby's life, and is forced back to work because her employer doesn't offer paid family leave and she can't afford not to work, that is not a family value. That is an attack on everything that a family is supposed to stand for.

When a husband cannot get time off from work to care for his cancer stricken wife or gravely ill child, that is not a family value. That is an attack on everything that a family is supposed to stand for. And it should be an embarrassment to anyone who claims to speak for family values in this country.

Source: Our Revolution, by Bernie Sanders, p.235 , Nov 15, 2016

American workers need a vacation

Moreover, when we are talking about a disappearing middle class, we're talking about millions of Americans working longer hours for lower wages. We're talking about millions of Americans who are overworked, underpaid, and under enormous stress. Some are working two to three jobs just trying to care for their families.

Today, largely because of the collapse of our middle class and declining wages, Americans are working longer hours than the people of any other major developed country in the G-7, which includes Japan, Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and Italy.

That is why I have introduced legislation to require employers to provide at least ten days of paid vacation to workers in this country every year. This is not a radical idea. It is already being done in almost every country in the world, and it is one more way to demonstrate our commitment to family values.

Source: Our Revolution, by Bernie Sanders, p. 240 , Nov 15, 2016

Affordable housing underlies jobs, and child development

Study after study has shown that without stable housing, it is much harder for working people to hold down jobs and get the health care they need, and children are put at a profound disadvantage in terms of intellectual and emotional development and school performance. The very idea that everyone has equal opportunity to succeed evaporates in the absence of stable and affordable housing. We have to level the playing field. We have to build millions of units of affordable housing.
Source: Our Revolution, by Bernie Sanders, p. 255 , Nov 15, 2016

$1.61 a week for paid family & medical leave

Hillary CLINTON: I don't think a middle-class tax should be part of anybody's plan right now.

SANDERS: When Secretary Clinton says, "I'm not going raise taxes on the middle class," let me tell you what she is saying. She is disagreeing with FDR on Social Security, LBJ on Medicare and with the vast majority of progressive Democrats in the House and the Senate, who today are fighting to end the disgrace of the United States being the only major country on Earth that doesn't provide paid family and medical leave. What the legislation [costs] is $1.61 a week. Now, you can say that's a tax on the middle class. It will provide three months paid family and medical leave for the working families of this country. I think, Secretary Clinton, $1.61 a week is a pretty good investment.

CLINTON: Senator, I have been fighting for paid family leave for a very long time. I have a way to pay for it that actually makes the wealthiest pay for it, not everybody else.

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

Increase payroll tax to guarantee paid family leave

Q: How would you pay for your proposal of paid medical leave?

SANDERS: I think if you're looking about guaranteeing paid family and medical leave, which virtually every other major country has, so that when a mom gives birth, she doesn't have to go back to work in two weeks, or there's an illness in a family, dad or mom can stay home with the kids. That will require a small increase in the payroll tax. According to Senator Gillibrand's legislation and we can accomplish that with just a small increase in the payroll tax.

Q: That's going to hit everybody.

SANDERS: Yes, it would. But it would mean that we would join the rest of the industrialized world. We are behind many other countries in protecting the middle class and working families.

Source: ABC This Week 2015 interview by Martha Raddatz , Oct 18, 2015

We're the only major country without paid family leave

Q [to Secretary Clinton]: You now support mandated paid family leave. There are so many people who say, "Really? Another government program?"

CLINTON: I know we can afford it, because we're going to make the wealthy pay for it. That is the way to get it done.

SANDERS: Here's the point: Every other major country on Earth, every one, including some small countries, say that when a mother has a baby, she should stay home with that baby. We are the only major country. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. That's not what the American people want.

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

LGBTQ values are family values

Bernie Sanders has been consistent in his belief that the LGBTQ community deserves equal rights, and has supported them long before it was politically expedient to do so.

In 1972 and 1976, when Bernie first ran for office in Vermont, he was an outspoken ally of the LGBTQ community; as a plank of his platform, he proposed the abolishment of all discriminatory laws pertaining to sexuality. In 1983, after he was elected to be mayor of Burlington, Vt., Bernie backed the city's first-ever pride march.

Throughout his decades of public service, Bernie has voted against measures that impede the LGBTQ community's rights and has supported those that protect them from discrimination.

LGBTQ Values Are Family Values: Bernie was an early supporter and continue to be a committed advocate for LGBTQ families. He has regularly fought for them to have the same rights as families formed by heterosexual couples, publicly equating family values with LGBTQ values.

Source: 2016 grassroots campaign website FeelTheBern.org, "Issues" , Sep 5, 2015

Provide affordable childcare & early pre-K education

Bernie knows that children born into poverty and other difficult situations often do not have easy access to resources that could help them live a happy and productive life. Bernie believes that all children deserve a quality education, affordable healthcare, affordable childcare, and access to nutritious food.
Source: 2016 grassroots campaign website FeelTheBern.org, "Issues" , Sep 5, 2015

Violence Against Women Act applies to men and gays, too

The rates of sexual and domestic violence against women in this country are both shocking and tragic. Bernie believes that the rates of sexual and domestic violence against women--and men--is too high, and that "much more has to be done".

In 2012, Bernie co-sponsored the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, a bill that included additional provisions to protect LGBT victims, expand access to justice for victims on Native American reservations, and extend protection for immigrants.

After the renewal of the VAWA, Bernie said: "While we are reducing the incidence of domestic violence, much more has to be done. Too many girls and women are still suffering from domestic violence and sexual abuse and that must end."

Men are victims of domestic violence, and Bernie supports all victims of domestic violence. Although the title of this Act states that it is for women, the operative text is gender-neutral and applies to men and women, including transgender people.

Source: 2016 grassroots campaign website FeelTheBern.org, "Issues" , Sep 5, 2015

Real family values means paid family leave & sick time

When a mother has a baby and is unable to spend time with that child during the first weeks and months of that baby's life, and is forced back to work because of a lack of money, that is not a family value.

When a wife is diagnosed with cancer and a husband cannot get time off of work to take care of her, that is not a family value.

When a mother is forced to send her sick child to school because she cannot afford to stay home with her that is not a family value.

Those are attacks on everything that a family is supposed to stand for. It is time to join the rest of the industrialized world by showing the people of this country that we are not just a nation that talks about family values, but that we are a nation that is prepared to live up to these ideals by making sure that workers in this country have access to paid family leave, paid sick time and paid vacations just like workers in every other wealthy country on earth.

Source: The Essential Bernie Sanders, by Jonathan Tasini, p. 57-9 , Jun 11, 2015

1972: wrote fictional "satire" about men oppressing women

Q: This week saw the leaking of an essay you wrote in the '70s from Alternative Weekly, which your campaign described as satire. I'll be honest with you, it's uncomfortable to read. You wrote in February of '72, a sort of a fantasy of men and women, "A woman enjoys intercourse with her man as she fantasizes being raped by three men simultaneously." Can you explain this essay?

SANDERS: Look, this is a piece of fiction that I wrote in 1972. That was 43 years ago. It was very poorly written. And if you read it, what it was dealing with gender stereotypes, why some men like to oppress women, why other women like to be submissive. You know, something like "50 Shades of Gray," very poorly written 43 years ago. What I'm focusing on right now are the issues impacting the American people today. And that's what I will continue to focus on. And what I think the American people want to hear.

Source: Meet the Press 2015 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , May 31, 2015

Parents worry more about kids than themselves, economically

I think what is going on in this country and why the anxiety level is so high is not just that people are worried about themselves--parents worry more about their kids than they do about themselves. But what parents are sitting around and worrying about now is they are saying: Will, for the first time in the modern history of this country, my kids have a lower standard of living than their parents?

Will my kids earn less income? Will my kids not have the education I have? Will my kids not have the opportunity to travel and learn and grow as I have done? Are the best days of America behind us? That is really the question. I don't think that has to be the case.

But if we are going to change the national priorities in this country, if we are going to start devoting our energy and our attention to the needs of working families and the middle class, we have to defeat this [Obama-Republican tax] proposal and we have to defeat similar types of proposals which come down the pike.

Source: The Speech: A Historic Filibuster, by Bernie Sanders , Dec 10, 2010

Bernie Sanders on Green New Deal

My priority is working class families, not the rich

What is unique about our campaign, is we say, unashamedly, we are raising our campaign contributions, not from billionaires but from working class people. That our campaign is about the working families of this country for the working class of this country and that is the administration that we will run. It is time to take on the big money interests. It is time to change our national priorities. Thank you.
Source: 8th Democrat 2020 primary debate, St. Anselm College in NH , Feb 7, 2020

Voted NO on establishing nationwide AMBER alert system for missing kids.

Vote to adopt the conference report on the bill that would assign a national coordinator for AMBER alerts. AMBER alerts is an alert system for missing children, make available additional protections for children and set stricter punishments for sex offenders. Two-time child sex offenders would be subjected to mandatory life sentence. The measure would make it a crime to pander visual illustrations of children as child pornography. It would increase maximum sentences for a number of specified crimes against children. It would also make it a crime to take a trip to foreign countries and engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor. It also would enlarge law enforcement's wiretap and electronic surveillance abilities in investigations of child pornography.
Reference: Child Abduction Prevention Act; Bill S 151 ; vote number 2003-127 on Apr 10, 2003

Voted NO on reducing Marriage Tax by $399B over 10 years.

Vote to pass a bill that would reduce taxes for married people by $399.2 billion over 10 years by doubling the couples' deduction and the child tax credit. Among other provisions, the bill would allow married couples filing jointly to claim a standard deduction equal to the deduction they would receive filing singly.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Weller, R-IL; Bill HR 6 ; vote number 2001-75 on Mar 29, 2001

Member of the Missing & Exploited Children's Caucus.

Sanders is a member of the Congressional Missing & Exploited Children's Caucus

    Statement Of Purpose

  1. To build awareness around the issue of missing and exploited children for the purpose of finding children who are currently missing and to prevent future abductions.

  2. To create a voice within Congress on the issue of missing and exploited children and introduce legislation that would strengthen law enforcement, community organizing and school-based efforts to address child abduction.

  3. To identify ways to work effectively in our districts to address child abduction. By developing cooperative efforts that involve police departments, educators, and community groups we can heighten awareness of the issue and pool resources for the purpose of solving outstanding cases and preventing future abductions.
Source: Congressional Caucus Web site 01-CMECC0 on Jan 8, 2001

Rated 7% by the Christian Coalition: an anti-Family-Value voting record.

Sanders scores 7% by the Christian Coalition on family issues

The Christian Coalition was founded in 1989 by Dr. Pat Robertson to give Christians a voice in government. We represent millions of people of faith and enable them to have a strong, unified voice in the conversation we call democracy.

    Our Five-Fold Mission:
  1. Represent the pro-family point of view before local councils, school boards, state legislatures, and Congress
  2. Speak out in the public arena and in the media
  3. Train leaders for effective social and political action
  4. Inform pro-family voters about timely issues and legislation
  5. Protest anti-Christian bigotry and defend the rights of people of faith.
Our ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
Source: CC website 03n-CC on Dec 31, 2003

Ban high lead levels in children's toys.

Sanders co-sponsored banning high lead levels in children's toys

OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: A bill to direct the Consumer Product Safety Commission to classify certain children's products containing lead to be banned hazardous substances.

SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. OBAMA: The unfortunate reality for many children--particularly in low-income and minority households--is the continued presence of high blood lead levels. Lead is a highly toxic substance that can produce a range of health problems in young children, including IQ deficiencies, hyperactivity, and damage to the kidneys, brain and bone marrow.

We know that lead poisoning is completely preventable. As the Nation has increased efforts to reduce environmental lead exposure, the number of children with high blood levels has steadily dropped. Restricting lead in gasoline and paint represent two major accomplishments in this regard. But much work remains to be done.

Disturbingly, lead is present in a number of toys and other frequently used objects by young children. About half of tested lunch boxes have unsafe levels of lead. In 2004, there were 3 recalls of nearly 150 million pieces of toy jewelry because of toxic levels of lead. And the Consumer Product Safety Commission has dragged its feet in aggressively addressing the problem of lead in toys.

It's a national disgrace that toys that could pose a serious and significant danger to children are readily available in our department stores and markets. The Lead Free Toys Act of 2005 will help us keep our children safe and healthy, and contribute to national efforts to reduce lead exposure.

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; never came to a vote.

Source: Lead Free Toys Act (S.2048/H.R.668) 05-S2048 on Nov 17, 2005

More funding & services for victims of domestic violence.

Sanders co-sponsored Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act

Introduction by co-sponsor Sen. Kay Hagan (D,NC):
We have a serious responsibility to ensure that women and families are protected. The rates of violence and abuse in our country are astounding and totally unacceptable: domestic violence affects more than 12 million people each year. In my home state, 73 women and children are killed on average every year because of domestic violence.

Since 1994, the STOP Program has provided grants for services, training, officers, and prosecutors, and has transformed our criminal justice system and victim support services. And this bill includes the bipartisan SAFER Act, which helps fund audits of untested DNA evidence and reduces this backlog of rape kits. I ask you: What other victims in America have to identify the attacker before authorities will take action? None.Introduction by Sen. Chuck Grassley(R,IA):
I urge my Republican colleagues, as I will do, to support the motion to proceed. There has long been bipartisan support for the Violence Against Women Act. Too many women are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence. There is overwhelming bipartisan support for 98% of what is contained in S. 47. [Since our negative vote last session], controversial provisions have been removed. The key stumbling block to enacting a bill at this time is the provision concerning Indian tribal courts. Negotiations are continuing, and compromises would allow the bill to pass with overwhelming bipartisan support. Introduction by Sen. Pat Leahy (D,VT):
Our bill will allow services to get to those in the LGBT community who have had trouble accessing services in the past. The rates of domestic and sexual violence in these communities are equal to or greater than those of the general population. We also have key improvements for immigrant victims of domestic and sexual violence.

Source: S.47/H.R.11 13-S0047 on Jan 22, 2013

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