Robert Reich Defends Bernie Sanders

Economist Robert Reich explains why Bernie skeptics need not doubt the Senator. Here Reich provides responses to the top six objections to Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, and he does so in just three minutes. (Video posted by YouTube channel “Bernie Sanders For President.”)

Bernie Sanders’ Speech at Georgetown University 11/19/2015

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders delivered a powerful speech at Georgetown University on Nov. 19, 2015. As we near the Iowa caucuses in just three days, I want to provide a recap of Sanders’ eloquent speech as it reveals a great deal about his platform. The following are main points extracted from the Democratic Socialist’s Georgetown visit. (Video posted by YouTube channel “Separation of Corporation and State.”)

  1. During the Great Depression era, Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed numerous reform measures that were dismissed by opponents as “socialist” ideals. These include the creation of minimum wage, the social security program, unemployment insurance, bank regulations, deposit insurance, 40-hour work-weeks, child labor laws and union rights.
  2. In the 1960s, Lyndon B. Johnson proposed Medicare and Medicaid—health insurance for elder citizens and health insurance for low-income citizens, respectively—both negatively denounced as socialistic by conservative opponents. (Note: The U.S. Census Bureau reported that 15.7 percent of Americans, roughly 49 million people, were covered by Medicare in 2012. That same year, 16.4 percent, more than 50 million people, were covered by Medicaid.)
  3. For the past 40 years, the middle class has been shrinking, taking with it public faith in the political system. An increasingly powerful corporate class continues to hoard the wealth by way of greed-driven practices. The top one-tenth of one percent in this country has nearly as much wealth as the entire lower 90 percent. Moreover, 58 percent of all new income generated in America goes to the top one percent. Median family income is $4,100 less than it was in 1999. We are working harder for less while the money continues to be distributed disproportionately, favoring the corporate elite.
  4. We are the wealthiest nation in the world. Yet, nearly 47 million people are currently living in poverty in the U.S. Over 20 percent of children are living in poverty, which equals more than one in five children. (Sanders pointed out that 36 percent of African-American children live in poverty.) Our childhood poverty rate is currently greater than almost any other developed country on earth.
  5. 29 million Americans do not have health insurance while even more are under-insured. One in five Americans cannot afford their medical prescriptions.
  6. We have more people incarcerated than any other country on earth. (As Sanders points out, we have more incarcerated citizens than communist China, which has a population four times that of the U.S.) We spend $80 billion every year incarcerating our citizens.
  7. In 1944, FDR gave a speech detailing the “second Bill of Rights.” This speech presented the idea that freedom cannot be acquired without economic security. Roosevelt urged that Americans had economic rights—not privileges—that ensured adequate paying jobs, adequate sustenance, and adequate time off from work; the right to live and work in atmospheres devoid of dominating monopolies; the right to adequate housing; and the right to healthcare. Sanders reiterates that people are not truly free when these rights are not recognized.
  8. Democratic socialism means we must reform a corrupt political system that fails those who are not wealthy. A system which, for example, allowed Wall Street to spend $5 billion in the 1980s to lobby away government regulations. The same system invested trillions in bailing out Wall Street ten years later when reckless greed (including illegal activities) resulted in economic crises. While Wall Street CEOs have circumvented legal penalties for destabilizing our economy, nonviolent offenders (for example, young people caught possessing marijuana) are routinely subjected to incarceration and lifelong criminal records.
  9. Democratic socialism means reforming a system that offers huge tax breaks to the extremely wealthy, supports corporate welfare, and enables trade policies that benefit wealthy corporations at the expense of working Americans.
  10. Democratic socialism is not communism. It means that the working Americans who create the wealth in this country should see more of it. Private enterprise is important; however, it should emphasis domestic job opportunities, rather than outsourcing to and exploiting developing countries.
  11. Our current healthcare system is the most expensive per capita than any other nation. A universal single-payer healthcare system would ultimately save money and provide economic boosts in addition to providing healthcare, a human right, indiscriminately.
  12. We must invest in higher education with the same voracity that we have historically invested in incarceration.
  13. We must require a living wage for workers to ensure that anyone working full time will not be impoverished.
  14. We must pass legislation that honors family values by allowing paid family and medical leave for working Americans.
  15. We must not allow the fossil fuel industry to diminish the quality of our planet.
  16. We must not use war as a first resort, but as a last. (Sanders stated he will not hesitate to go to war in defense of the country, but he will not take our nation to war under false pretenses and without an end in sight.) We should also remember that history confirms the challenges of overthrowing regimes in turmoil-stricken countries.
  17. Islamic extremists must be combated primarily by Muslim nations with the backing of America and other allies. Currently, many Gulf-region nations have contributed little to help combat ISIS and that must change.
  18. Entrepreneurialism and innovation should be encouraged and rewarded; however, “greed for the sake of greed” should not be supported by public policy. The wealthy must pay their fair share.
  19. In the last election, 63 percent of Americans did not vote, including 80 percent of young people. While it is easy to avoid involvement in a political system so clearly flawed on either end of the spectrum, boycotting the polls will simply support the status quo.