Tag Archives: Bernie Sanders

Sanders Calling for Largest Voter Turnout in History, Declares ‘Imperative to Counter Trump’s Unique Threats to Democracy’

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), at a rally in Queens during the 2020 campaign. In remarks at George Washington University regarding the “unprecedented and dangerous moment we are in because of Trump’s unique threats to our democracy” called for unprecedented voter turnout, warning that Trump may well declare victory in Election Night, before the millions of mail-in-ballots are counted, confiscate the ballots to prevent them from being counted, and even instruct Republican legislators to disregard the popular vote and select Trump electors to vote in the Electoral College. If all that, including impeding delivery of mail-in-ballots, calling out thugs to intimidate voters who come to the polls, Trump says he is counting on the Supreme Court, with his third pick already on the court, to hand him the election. Only then, he says, will there be a “peaceful transfer” because there won’t be a transfer at all, but a continuation of power. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), in remarks at George Washington University regarding the “unprecedented and dangerous moment we are in because of Trump’s unique threats to our democracy” called for unprecedented voter turnout, warning that Trump may well declare victory in Election Night, before the millions of mail-in-ballots are counted, confiscate the ballots to prevent them from being counted, and even instruct Republican legislators to disregard the popular vote and select Trump electors to vote in the Electoral College. If all that, including impeding delivery of mail-in-ballots, calling out thugs to intimidate voters who come to the polls, Trump says he is counting on the Supreme Court, with his third pick already on the court, to hand him the election. Only then, he says, will there be a “peaceful transfer” because there won’t be a transfer at all, but a continuation of power. – Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Here are Senator Sanders’ remarks, highlighted, as prepared for delivery:

Saving American Democracy 

This country faces an unprecedented set of crises. We are struggling with a pandemic that has already cost us over 200,000 lives. 

We have an economy in which we have a grotesque level of income and wealth inequality, where the middle class is being decimated, where millions of workers have lost their jobs and half of our people continue to work paycheck to paycheck — many for starvation wages.  

We are living in the moment when climate change is ravaging this planet, leading to massive fires on the West Coast, drought and unprecedented levels of extreme weather disturbances all across the globe. 

We are the only major country on earth not to guarantee healthcare to all people as a right, over 90 million Americans are uninsured or under-insured, and we pay by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.

All of these issues, and others, are enormously important and should be the issues that are being debated in this campaign. But, today, I’m not going to talk about any of them.

What I am going to talk about is something that, in my wildest dreams, I never thought I would be discussing.  And that is the need to make certain that the President of the United States, if he loses this election, will abide by the will of the voters and leave office peacefully.

What I will be discussing today is the danger that this country faces from a president who is a pathological liar, who has strong authoritarian tendencies, who neither understands nor respects our constitution and who is prepared to undermine American democracy in order to stay in power. 

With less than 6 weeks left to go in this campaign it is my fervent hope that all Americans — Democrats, Republicans, independents, progressives, moderates, conservatives — come together to defend American democracy, our constitution and the rule of law. We must ensure, in this unprecedented moment in American history that this is an election that is free and fair, an election in which voters are not intimidated, an election in which all votes are counted and an election in which the loser accepts the results.

This is not just an election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.  This is an election between Donald Trump and democracy – and democracy must win. 

The United States is the oldest continuous democracy in the modern world. We held elections in the middle of a Civil War in 1864. We held free and fair elections during World War I, during the Great Depression, and during World War II. After all of those elections, held in extremely difficult circumstances, the loser acknowledged defeat and the winner was inaugurated and took office.  That is what America is all about.  That’s what democracy is all about.

But today, under Donald Trump, we have a president who has little respect for our constitution or the rule of law. Today, that peaceful transition of power, the bedrock of American democracy, is being threatened like never before.

I am not in the habit of quoting former President Ronald Reagan, but I think something that he said in his first inaugural address makes the point about how important — how precious — is this part of our heritage. I quote: “The orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution routinely takes place as it has for almost two centuries and few of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many in the world, this every 4-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle.” Unquote. 

Protecting this “orderly transfer of authority” as President Reagan characterized it, this miracle, is absolutely essential if we together — all of us, Republicans, Democrats, Independents — want to keep faith with the American ideals we hold so dear and with the sacrifices that so many made in order to protect our democracy.

And in that regard I think it is terribly important that we actually listen to, and take seriously, what Donald Trump is saying.  

Several weeks ago, speaking at the Republican National Convention, Trump said, and I quote, “The only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election.” What is remarkable about that statement is that he made it at a time when almost every national poll had him behind and when he was trailing in polls in most battleground states.

Think about what that statement means. What he is saying is that if he wins the election, that’s great. But if he loses, it’s rigged, because the only way, the only way, he can lose is if it’s rigged. And if it’s rigged, then he is not leaving office.  Heads I win. Tails you lose. In other words, in Trump’s mind, there is no conceivable way that he should leave office.

And just last night Donald Trump went even further down the path of authoritarianism by being the first president in the history of this country to refuse to commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses the election. 

When asked by a reporter in the White House briefing room: “Win, lose or draw in this election, will you commit here today for a peaceful transferal of power after the election?” Trump responded:

“We’re going to have to see what happens.  You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.  We want to get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation.”

That’s not his choice.  That’s for the American people to determine.  Let us be very clear.  There is nothing in our constitution or in our laws that give Donald Trump the privilege of deciding whether or not he will step aside if he loses.  In the United States the president does not determine who can or cannot vote and what ballots will be counted.  That may be what his friend Putin does in Russia.  It may be what is done in other authoritarian countries.  But it is not and will not be done in America.  This is a democracy.

I do understand that Donald Trump is a billionaire, or so he says.  I do understand that he was born to a very wealthy family and, from his earliest days, was able to get anything he wanted because his family was rich and his family was powerful.  I do understand that when you’re rich and you’re powerful you don’t  have to pay taxes like ordinary people and that it’s easy for you to avoid the military draft.  I do understand that when you’re rich and you’re powerful you can buy politicians and get hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate welfare for your real estate empire.  

But this I also understand.  No matter how rich and powerful you may be, no matter how arrogant and narcissistic you may be, no matter how much you think you can get anything you want, let me make this clear to Donald Trump: Too many people have fought and died to defend American democracy.  You are not going to destroy it.  The American people will not allow that to happen.

Despite all of the evidence, Trump continues to be obsessed with the belief that there is massive voter fraud in this country. 

In 2017, after he won the presidency, Trump insisted that he would have won the popular vote, which he lost by 3 million votes, if, quote “millions of illegal votes had not been cast.” There is absolutely no evidence of that being true. In fact, it is totally preposterous to believe that millions of votes, or any significant number of votes at all, were cast illegally. This is an assertion supported by no one. Not Democratic officials.  Not Republican officials. No one.  And yet that is what Trump said after he won. 

There have been numerous studies done on the issue of voter fraud in our country. They have all concluded essentially the same thing.  Voter fraud in the United States of America is extremely rare. 

study by Dartmouth University found no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election.  

An article in the New York Times from December 18, 2016 stated: “In an election in which more than 137.7 million Americans cast ballots, election and law enforcement officials in 26 states and the District of Columbia — Democratic-leaning, Republican-leaning and in-between — said that so far they knew of no credible allegations of fraudulent voting. Officials in another eight states said they knew of only one allegation … In Georgia, where more than 4.1 million ballots were cast, officials said they had opened 25 inquiries into “suspicious voting or election-related activity.”  But inquiries to all 50 states (every one but Kansas responded) found no states that reported indications of widespread fraud.”

A report by the Brennan Center for Justice reviewed elections that had been meticulously studied for voter fraud, and found incident rates between 0.0003 percent and 0.0025 percent. The report concluded that it is more likely that an American, quote, “will be struck by lightning than that he will impersonate another voter at the polls,” unquote.

Even the conservative Heritage Foundation, which maintains a database on election fraud, could only find 143 criminal convictions of mail in voter fraud out of 250 million mail-in votes cast over the past 20 years, a rate of 0.00006%.

But you don’t have to trust me on this issue.  Benjamin Ginsburg, one of the leading Republican experts on elections, a man who served as national counsel to the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign, a man who played a major role for the Republican Party in the 2000 Florida recount, and who co-chaired the bipartisan 2013 Presidential Commission on Election Administration, recently wrote in the Washington Post, and I quote, “The truth is that after decades of looking for illegal voting, there’s no proof of widespread fraud. At most, there are isolated incidents — by both Democrats and Republicans. Elections are not rigged,” unquote. 

Let me repeat from one of the Republican Party’s leading experts on elections: “The truth is that after decades of looking for illegal voting, there’s no proof of widespread fraud. At most, there are isolated incidents — by both Democrats and Republicans. Elections are not rigged.”

And if even the statement of Mr. Ginsburg is not good enough for you, here is what the Trump administration’s own voting integrity commission reported.  According to an analysis of administration documents by the Associated Press, Trump’s commission uncovered, quote “no evidence to support claims of widespread voter fraud,” unquote, and disbanded in 2018. 

Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tamped down concerns about mail-in ballots last month, saying, and I quote, “Many parts of our country vote by mail. Oregon, Washington and Colorado have voted by mail for years.”

And yet we have a president who calls mail in ballots “a hoax” and “a scam.”

Trump’s strategy to delegitimize this election and to stay in office if he loses is not complicated. Finding himself behind in many polls, he is attempting massive voter suppression. He and his Republican colleagues are doing everything they can to make it harder and harder for people to vote. In addition, he is sowing the seeds of chaos, confusion and conspiracy theories by casting doubt on the integrity of this election and, if he loses, justifying why he should remain in office. 

In an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News, Trump refused to say that he would leave office if he lost. Asked to give a direct answer on whether he would accept the election results, Trump refused. He said, quote, “I have to see. No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either.” Pretty much what he said yesterday.

In the middle of a pandemic Trump made clear that he wants to defund the Postal Service in order to limit the use of mail in ballots. In an interview on August 13, discussing a possible deal for a relief package that would have funded the post office, Trump let the cat out of the bag by admitting that, quote “If we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money. That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting; they just can’t have it.”  

In other words, what Trump is saying to tens of millions of Americans is that at a time when over 200,000 people have already died from the coronavirus, you have a choice: You can either risk your health or even your life by walking into a voting booth or you can’t vote.  How disgusting is that?

Amazingly, at the very same time Trump is making completely baseless allegations about voter fraud, last month he urged his supporters in North Carolina to try voting twice, which is a felony. 

In order to advance his plan for mass voter suppression, the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit in Nevada, which fortunately was dismissed, challenging the state’s mail-in voting laws. 

In July, Trump used false claims of voter fraud to propose delaying this year’s election, which he does not have the power to do. This was so outrageous that Steven Calabresi, the co-founder of the conservative Federalist Society, wrote that it was, quote “grounds for the president’s immediate impeachment again by the House of Representatives and his removal from office by the Senate,” unquote.

Last week, Trump told his supporters at a rally in Nevada that he, quote, “was entitled” to serve a third term, which is obviously a violation of the Constitution’s 22nd Amendment. 

On Saturday, Trump suggested to his supporters in North Carolina that he might sign an executive order to prevent Joe Biden from becoming president. 

Trump has also urged his supporters to become, quote, “poll watchers,” but what he is really saying is he wants his supporters, some of whom are members of armed militias, to intimidate voters. We’re already seeing this in Virginia, where early voters were confronted by Trump supporters, and election officials in Fairfax County said that some voters and polling staff felt intimidated.

On and on it goes.  Every day, over and over again, Trump is making it harder for the American people to participate in the political process and is attempting to delegitimize the outcome of this election so that if he loses he can remain in office.

The concerns that I am raising today are not just mine alone, and are not just concerns shared by progressives and Democrats.

Miles Taylor, a lifelong Republican who previously served as chief of staff inside the Trump administration’s Department of Homeland Security, warned that there is nothing that Trump will not do or say to defeat Biden. 

“Put nothing past Donald Trump,” Taylor told The Associated Press. “He will do anything to win. If that means climbing over other people, climbing over his own people, or climbing over U.S. law, he will do it. People are right to be concerned.” 

Well, I agree with Mr. Taylor. I am concerned. I am very concerned.

Last week, my former Senate colleague Dan Coats, Trump’s own former Director of National Intelligence, published a piece in the New York Times calling for a high-level bipartisan and nonpartisan commission to oversee the election to reassure all Americans that it has been carried out fairly. Coats wrote, quote, “The most urgent task American leaders face is to ensure that the election’s results are accepted as legitimate. Electoral legitimacy is the essential linchpin of our entire political culture. We should see the challenge clearly in advance and take immediate action to respond.”

I couldn’t agree more. I strongly second Director Coats’ call for this election commission.

Last week as well, Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and I sent a letter to Senator McConnell urging him to hold hearings on the issue of election and post-election security. Senator Schumer and I stated, “We would like to hear from the most knowledgeable people in the country as to how we can do everything possible to make sure that the election and the period afterward is secure and peaceful.”

Majority Leader McConnell: Please respond to that letter.  Please establish that bi-partisan committee.  

And today I call on every elected official in America whether they be Republican, Democrat or Independent to vigorously oppose voter suppression and voter intimidation, to make sure that every vote is counted, and that no one is declared the winner until those votes are counted.  

And to my Republican colleagues in the Congress please do not continue to tell the American people how much you love America if, at this critical moment, you are not prepared to stand up to defend American democracy and our way of life.  Stop the hypocrisy.

With or without Donald Trump this election is unique in American history because it’s taking place during a pandemic and a public health crisis.   

As a result, states all over America are taking the appropriate steps to ensure more Americans can safely vote by mail in their own homes instead of risking their health or their lives to vote in person.  

The result is that this election will see, by far, the largest number of mail in ballots ever. 

And let’s be clear.  Despite what Donald Trump says, voting by mail is not a new or dangerous idea.  Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah conduct their elections almost entirely by mail.  California, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia and my state of Vermont have pledged to mail ballots to all registered voters for the upcoming election.  And many other states are making it easier to vote by mail. Trump himself, as well as members of his administration, have repeatedly voted by mail.  Members of the U.S. military have regularly voted by mail since the 1800s.

Given the significant increase in mail in ballots why, you might ask, are Trump and his allies trying to attack the integrity of our vote by mail system? 

The answer is simple.  A number of studies have shown that for, whatever reasons, Republicans are more likely to vote in person while Democrats are more likely to use mail in ballots.  

In fact, one poll found that only about a quarter of Biden supporters would vote in person on Election Day while some two thirds of Trump voters planned to vote in person.

In other words, if Trump can undermine people’s confidence in the validity of votes cast by mail, he will be calling into question the validity of votes that may overwhelmingly support Joe Biden.  

Let us consider the following scenario:  

On election night, Trump is ahead in many battleground states based on the votes of those who voted in person on election day.  All across the television screens people see Trump ahead before they turn in for the night.  But as more and more mail in ballots are counted, Trump’s lead falls.  Trump then announces, with no proof, that there has been massive mail in ballot fraud and that these votes should not be counted – and that he has won the election.

In other words, Trump may well announce that he has won the election before all of the votes are counted and that large numbers of mail in ballots should be discarded.

Furthermore, in states where Republicans control the legislature, it is possible that the election results will be ignored because of false accusations of voter fraud and that the legislature itself will use its power to appoint electors pledged to vote for Trump, overriding the will of the people. 

And, in the midst of all of this, with the death of Justice Ginsburg, Trump is attempting to push through a Supreme Court Justice who may very well cast a vote in a case that will determine the outcome of this election.  He is doing that at a time when early voting has already begun and millions of ballots will have already been cast.

In this unprecedented moment what can we as a people do in the struggle to preserve American democracy?  

First, it is absolutely imperative that we have, by far, the largest voter turnout in American history and that people vote as early as possible

As someone who is strongly supporting Joe Biden, let’s be clear: A landslide victory for Biden will make it virtually impossible for Trump to deny the results and is our best means for defending democracy.  

Second, with the pandemic and a massive increase in mail in voting, state legislatures must take immediate action now to allow mail in votes to be counted before Election Day – as they come in.  

In fact, 32 states allow for the counting or processing of absentee ballots – verifying signatures for example – before Election Day.  All states should do the same.  The faster all ballots are counted, the less window there is for chaos and conspiracy theories.  

Third, the news media needs to prepare the American people to understand there is no longer a single election day and that it is very possible that we may not know the results on November 3rd.  

Fourth, social media companies must finally get their act together and stop people from using their tools to spread disinformation and to threaten and harass election officials.

Fifth, in the Congress and in state legislatures hearings must be held as soon as possible to explain to the public how the election day process and the days that follow will be handled.  As we count every vote, and prevent voter intimidation everything possible must be done to prevent chaos, disinformation, and even violence.

Lastly, and most importantly, the American people, no matter what their political persuasion, must make it clear that  American democracy will not be destroyed.  Our country from its inception and through the sacrifices of millions has been a model to the world with regard to representative government.  In 1863, in the midst of the terrible Civil War, Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg stated that this government “of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

That was true then. That is true today.  Regardless of what Donald Trump wants the American people will preserve democracy in our country.

Bernie Sanders at DNC Issues Call to Arms to Supporters: ‘We need Joe Biden as our next President. The price of failure is just too great to imagine’

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President in 2020, a featured speaker on the first night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, urged his supporters to back Joe Biden and end Donald Trump’s march toward authoritarianism, saying “the price of failure is just too great to imagine.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President in 2020, a featured speaker on the first night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, urged his supporters to back Joe Biden and end Donald Trump’s march toward authoritarianism, saying “the price of failure is just too great to imagine.” Here is a highlighted transcript of his remarks:

Good evening. Our great nation is now living in an unprecedented moment.

We are facing the worst public health crisis in 100 years and the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. We are confronting systemic racism and the enormous threat to our planet of climate change. And, in the midst of all of this, we have a president who is not only incapable of addressing these crises but is leading us down the path of authoritarianism.

This election is the most important in the modern history of this country. In response to the unprecedented crises we face, we need an unprecedented response—a movement, like never before, of people who are prepared to stand up and fight for democracy and decency—and against greed, oligarchy, and bigotry.

And we need Joe Biden as our next president.

Let me take this opportunity to say a word to the millions who supported my campaign this year and in 2016. My friends, thank you for your trust, your support, and the love you showed Jane, me, and our family.

Together we have moved this country in a bold new direction showing that all of us—Black and white, Latino, Native American, Asian American, gay and straight, native born and immigrant—yearn for a nation based on the principles of justice, love, and compassion.

Our campaign ended several months ago, but our movement continues and is getting stronger every day. Many of the ideas we fought for, that just a few years ago were considered “radical,” are now mainstream. But, let us be clear, if Donald Trump is re-elected, all the progress we have made will be in jeopardy.

Defending Democracy

At its most basic, this election is about preserving our democracy. During this president’s term, the unthinkable has become normal. He has tried to prevent people from voting, undermined the U.S. Postal Service, deployed the military and federal agents against peaceful protesters, threatened to delay the election and suggested that he will not leave office if he loses. This is not normal, and we must never treat it like it is.

Under this administration authoritarianism has taken root in our country. I, and my family, and many of yours, know the insidious way authoritarianism destroys democracy, decency, and humanity. As long as I am here, I will work with progressives, with moderates, and, yes, with conservatives to preserve this nation from a threat that so many of our heroes fought and died to defeat.

The Pandemic

This president is not just a threat to our democracy, but by rejecting science, he has put our lives and health in jeopardy. Trump has attacked doctors and scientists trying to protect us from the pandemic, while refusing to take strong action to produce the masks, gowns, and gloves our health care workers desperately need.

Nero fiddled while Rome burned; Trump golfs. His actions fanned this pandemic resulting in over 170,000 deaths and a nation still unprepared to protect its people.

The Economic Crisis

Furthermore, Trump’s negligence has exacerbated the economic crisis we are now experiencing.

Since this pandemic began, over 30 million people have lost their jobs and many have lost their health insurance. Millions of working families are wondering how they’ll feed their kids and worried that they will be evicted from their homes.

And how has Trump responded? Instead of maintaining the $600 a week unemployment supplement that workers were receiving, and the $1,200 emergency checks that many of you received, instead of helping small businesses—Trump concocted fraudulent executive orders that do virtually nothing to address the crisis while threatening the very future of Social Security and Medicare.

Trump the Fraud

My friends, the American people have caught on that this president and his administration are, to put it bluntly, frauds.

In 2016, Trump promised he would stand with working families. He said that he would “drain the swamp,” take on Wall Street and powerful special interests. He would protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and, by the way, he would provide health care to “everybody.” Well. None of it was true.

Instead, he filled his administration with billionaires and gave trillions to the top 1 percent and large corporations. He tried to throw 32 million people off of their health insurance, eliminate protections for pre-existing conditions, and submitted budgets that proposed slashing Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.

Joe Biden

But the truth is that, even before Trump’s negligent response to this pandemic, too many hard-working families have been caught on an economic treadmill with no hope of ever getting ahead. Together we must build a nation that is more equitable, more compassionate and more inclusive.

I know that Joe Biden will begin that fight on day one.

Let me offer you just a few examples of how Joe will move us forward.

Joe supports raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. This will give 40 million workers a pay raise and push the wage scale up for everyone else.

Joe will also make it easier for workers to join unions, create 12 weeks of paid family leave, fund universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year olds, and make child care affordable for millions of families.

Joe will rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and fight the threat of climate change by transitioning us to 100 percent clean electricity over the next fifteen years. These initiatives will create millions of good paying jobs all across the country.

As you know, we are the only industrialized nation not to guarantee health care for all people. While Joe and I disagree on the best path to get to universal coverage, he has a plan that will greatly expand health care and cut the cost of prescription drugs. Further, he will lower the eligibility age of Medicare from 65 to 60.

To help reform our broken criminal justice system Joe will end private prisons and detention centers, cash bail, and the school to prison pipeline.

And to heal the soul of our nation, Joe Biden will end the hate and division Trump has created. He will stop the demonization of immigrants, the coddling of white nationalists, the racist dog whistling, the religious bigotry, and the ugly attacks on women.

My friends, I say to you, to everyone who supported other candidates in the primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election: The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake. We must come together, defeat Donald Trump and elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as our next president and vice president. My friends, the price of failure is just too great to imagine.

Biden, Lauding Sanders As ‘Powerful Voice for Fairer, More Just America’ Vows to Fight on Together

Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders in their only one-on-one debate. Vice President Joe Biden, now the only Democratic candidate for president, acknowledged Bernie Sanders’ decision to suspend his campaign, lauding Sanders“for being a powerful voice for a fairer and more just America” and vowing to continue the fight for climate change, income inequality, universal health care. (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.

Vice President Joe Biden, now the only Democratic candidate for president, acknowledged Bernie Sanders’ decision to suspend his campaign, lauding Sanders “for being a powerful voice for a fairer and more just America” and vowing to continue the fight for climate change, income inequality, universal health care. This is his statement:

Today, Senator Sanders announced he was suspending his campaign. Bernie has put his heart and soul into not only running for President, but for the causes and issues he has been dedicated to his whole life. So, I know how hard a decision this was for him to make — and how hard it is for the millions of his supporters — especially younger voters — who have been inspired and energized and brought into politics by the progressive agenda he has championed. Bernie has done something rare in politics. He hasn’t just run a political campaign; he’s created a movement. And make no mistake about it, I believe it’s a movement that is as powerful today as it was yesterday. That’s a good thing for our nation and our future.

Senator Sanders and his supporters have changed the dialogue in America. Issues which had been given little attention — or little hope of ever passing — are now at the center of the political debate. Income inequality, universal health care, climate change, free college, relieving students from the crushing debt of student loans. These are just a few of the issues Bernie and his supporters have given life to. And while Bernie and I may not agree on how we might get there, we agree on the ultimate goal for these issues and many more.

But more than any one issue or set of issues, I want to commend Bernie for being a powerful voice for a fairer and more just America. It’s voices like Bernie’s that refuse to allow us to just accept what is — that refuse to accept we can’t change what’s wrong in our nation — that refuse to accept the health and well-being of our fellow citizens and our planet isn’t our responsibility too. Bernie gets a lot of credit for his passionate advocacy for the issues he cares about. But he doesn’t get enough credit for being a voice that forces us all to take a hard look in the mirror and ask if we’ve done enough.

While the Sanders campaign has been suspended — its impact on this election and on elections to come is far from over. We will address the existential crisis of climate change. We will confront income inequality in our nation. We will make sure healthcare is affordable and accessible to every American. We will make education at our public colleges and universities free. We will ease the burden of student debt. And, most important of all, we will defeat Donald Trump.

At this moment, we are in the middle of an unprecedented crisis in American history. There is enormous fear and pain and loss being felt all across the country. There are also untold stories of heroism — of nurses and health care workers and doctors and first responders and grocery store workers and truck drivers and so many others on the front lines of this crisis. Putting their own lives in danger for the rest of us. If we didn’t know it before, we know it now: This is the backbone of our nation.

Our first job is to get through the immediate crisis threatening the public health and getting into the pockets of America’s workers. But we also need to take a hard look at what we need to fix and change in this country. Many of the biggest cracks in the social safety net have been laid bare — from health care to paid sick leave to a more extensive and comprehensive system of unemployment benefits. We will need to address these. Just as we need to address rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure. And we all know — the clock is ticking — we don’t have a moment to waste in combating the climate crisis.

As friends, Jill and I want to say to Bernie and Jane, we know how hard this is. You have put the interest of the nation — and the need to defeat Donald Trump — above all else. And for that Jill and I are grateful. But we also want you to know: I’ll be reaching out to you. You will be heard by me. As you say: Not me, Us.

And to your supporters I make the same commitment: I see you, I hear you, and I understand the urgency of what it is we have to get done in this country. I hope you will join us. You are more than welcome. You’re needed.

Together we will defeat Donald Trump. And when we do that, we’ll not only do the hard work of rebuilding this nation — we’ll transform it.

Bernie Sanders Suspends Campaign for President, Congratulates Joe Biden

Bernie Sanders with wife Jane at rally in Queens, New York. Sanders suspended his campaign saying “We won the ideological battle,” and pledging that the movement will continue on. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign for president. In a live video message, he thanked the legions of volunteers and supporters, and reviewed the accomplishments the campaign achieved, insisting “We have won the ideological battle.” He congratulated Joe Biden “a very decent man, on his victoryand “standing united, we will go forward to defeat Donald Trump, the most dangerous president in modern American history.” Here are highlights: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

WE HAVE WON THE IDEOLOGICAL BATTLE

If we don’t believe that we are entitled to health care as a human right, we will never achieve universal health care.

If we don’t believe that we are entitled to decent wages and working conditions, millions of us will continue to live in poverty.

If we don’t believe that we are entitled to all of the education we require to fulfill our dreams, many of us will leave school saddled with huge debt, or never get the education we need.

If we don’t believe that we are entitled to live in a world that has a clean environment and is not ravaged by climate change, we will continue to see more drought, floods, rising sea levels and an increasingly uninhabitable planet.

If we don’t believe that we are entitled to live in a world of justice, democracy and fairness – without racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia or religious bigotry – we will continue to have massive income and wealth inequality, prejudice and hatred, mass incarceration, terrified immigrants and hundreds of thousands of Americans sleeping out on the streets of the richest country on earth.

Focusing on that new vision for America is what our campaign has been about and what, in fact, we have accomplished. Few would deny that over the course of the past 5 years our movement has won the ideological struggle. In so called “red” states, and “blue” states and “purple” states, a majority of the American people now understand that we must raise the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour; that we must guarantee health care as a right to all of our people; that we must transform our energy system away from fossil fuel, and that higher education must be available to all, regardless of income.

It was not long ago that people considered these ideas radical and fringe. Today, they are mainstream ideas – and many of them are already being implemented in cities and states across the country. That’s what you accomplished.

In terms of health care, even before the horrific pandemic we are now experiencing, more and more Americans understood that we must move to a Medicare for All, single-payer system. During the primary elections exit polls showed, in state after state, a strong majority of Democratic primary voters supported a single government health insurance program to replace private insurance. That was true even in states where our campaign did not prevail.

And let me just say this: In terms of health care, this horrific crisis that we are now in has exposed how absurd our current employer-based health insurance system is. The current economic downturn we are experiencing has not only led to a massive loss of jobs, but has also resulted in millions of Americans losing their health insurance. While Americans have been told, over and over again, how wonderful our employer-based, private insurance system is, those claims sound very hollow now as a growing number of unemployed workers struggle with how they can afford to go to the doctor, or not go bankrupt with a huge hospital bill. We have always believed that health care must be considered as a human right, not an employee benefit – and we are right.

Please also appreciate that not only are we winning the struggle ideologically, we are also winning it generationally. The future of our country rests with young people and, in state after state, whether we won or whether we lost the Democratic primaries or caucuses, we received a significant majority of the votes, sometimes an overwhelming majority, from people not only 30 or under, but 50 years of age or younger. In other words, the future of this country is with our ideas.

THE CURRENT CRISIS

As we are all painfully aware, we now face an unprecedented crisis. Not only are we dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, which has taken the lives of many thousands of our people, we are also dealing with an economic meltdown that has resulted in the loss of millions of jobs.

Today, families all across the country face financial hardship unimaginable only a few months ago. And because of the unacceptable levels of income and wealth distribution in our economy, many of our friends and neighbors have little or no savings and are desperately trying to pay their rent or their mortgage or even to put food on the table. This reality makes it clear to me that Congress must address this unprecedented crisis in an unprecedented way that protects the health and economic wellbeing of the working families of our country, not just powerful special interests. As a member of the Democratic leadership in the United States Senate, and as a senator from Vermont, this is something that I intend to be intensely involved in, and which will require an enormous amount of work.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

That takes me to the state of our presidential campaign. I wish I could give you better news, but I think you know the truth. And that is that we are now some 300 delegates behind Vice President Biden, and the path toward victory is virtually impossible. So while we are winning the ideological battle, and while we are winning the support of young people and working people throughout the country, I have concluded that this battle for the Democratic nomination will not be successful.

And so today I am announcing the suspension of active campaigning, and congratulate Joe Biden, a very decent man, on his victory.

Please know that I do not make this decision lightly. In fact, it has been a very painful decision. Over the past few weeks Jane and I, in consultation with top staff and many of our prominent supporters, have made an honest assessment of the prospects for victory. If I believed we had a feasible path to the nomination I would certainly continue the campaign. But it’s not there.

I know there may be some in our movement who disagree with this decision, who would like us to fight on to the last ballot cast at the Democratic convention. I understand that position. But as I see the crisis gripping the nation – exacerbated by a president unwilling or unable to provide any kind of credible leadership – and the work that needs to be done to protect people in this most desperate hour, I cannot in good conscience continue to mount a campaign that cannot win and which would interfere with the important work required of all of us in this difficult hour.

But let me say this very emphatically: As you all know, we have never been just a campaign. We are a grassroots multi-racial, multi-generational movement which has always believed that real change never comes from the top on down, but always from the bottom on up. We have taken on Wall Street, the insurance companies, the drug companies, the fossil fuel industry, the military industrial complex, the prison industrial complex and the greed of the entire corporate elite. That struggle continues. While this campaign is coming to an end, our movement is not.

Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us that “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” The fight for justice is what our campaign was about. The fight for justice is what our movement remains about.

And, on a practical note, let me also say this: I will stay on the ballot in all remaining states and continue to gather delegates. While Vice President Biden will be the nominee, we should still work to assemble as many delegates as possible at the Democratic convention where we will be able to exert significant influence over the party platform and other functions.

Then, together, standing united, we will go forward to defeat Donald Trump, the most dangerous president in modern American history. And we will fight to elect strong progressives at every level of government – from Congress to the school board.

As I hope all of you know, this race has never been about me. I ran for the presidency because I believed as president I could accelerate and institutionalize the progressive change that we are all building together. And, if we keep organizing and fighting, I have no doubt that our victory is inevitable. While the path may be slower now, we WILL change this country and, with like-minded friends around the globe, the entire world.

See also: In an opinion piece published today in The Guardian , Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) laid out the “core principles” which he believes must guide Congress’s next legislative package to tackle the coronavirus pandemic:

We cannot rely on Trump. Congress must lead the way in this unprecedented crisis

Bernie Sanders Releases Priorities for Next Coronavirus Stimulus Package: Calls for ‘Boldest Legislation Ever Written in Modern History’

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday released a list of priorities to ensure the next coronavirus legislation passed by Congress is the boldest legislation in history, matches the scale of the crisis, saves lives and ensures working Americans are not left behind. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.

BURLINGTON, Vt. – Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday released a list of priorities to ensure the next coronavirus legislation passed by Congress is the boldest legislation in history, matches the scale of the crisis, saves lives and ensures working Americans are not left behind.  

“We are in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic that could lead to the death of hundreds of thousands of Americans and infect millions of others, and we are entering an economic downturn that could be worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s.” Sanders said. “In this unprecedented moment in modern American history, it is imperative that we respond in an unprecedented way. That means that Congress must pass, in the very near future, the boldest piece of legislation ever written in modern history. Today, I am outlining a set of six core provisions that must be included in new Congressional legislation to support working people during this horrific crisis.” 

Sanders’ priorities include:

Keep workers on payroll – make sure that every worker in America continues to receive their paycheck, retroactive to the beginning of the crisis. An important precedent was set by keeping airline workers on payroll in the last bill

Use Medicare to make sure no one has to pay for health care during the crisis

A $2,000 monthly emergency payment to every person in the country until the crisis has passed

The forceful use of the Defense Production Act to direct the production of all of the personnel protective equipment, ventilators and other medical supplies

Hazard pay for workers on the frontlines of the emergency

$600 billion in direct fiscal aid to states and cities

Freezing monthly rent and mortgage payments

Emergency food for millions of families who would otherwise go hungry

In a mailing to supporters, Sanders described his priorities in more detail:

Our country is now facing its worst crisis in modern history. We are in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic that could lead to the death of hundreds of thousands of Americans and infect millions of others, and we are entering an economic downturn that could be worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Last week, 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment. This week that number doubled to 6.6 million claims — ten times higher than any other week on record. It is certain that well over 10 million people have lost their jobs — more than in the Wall Street crash of 2008.

In this unprecedented moment in modern American history, it is imperative that we respond in an unprecedented way. And that means that Congress must pass, in the very near future, the boldest piece of legislation ever written in modern history.

There are many, many issues that must be addressed in our response to this pandemic, and working together, we will make sure they are addressed.

1. Addressing the Employment Crisis and Providing Immediate Financial Relief

There is little doubt in my mind that we are facing an economic crisis that could be even worse than the Great Depression. The St. Louis Federal Reserve has projected that 47 million more people may become unemployed by the end of June, with unemployment reaching 32 percent. In my view, we must make sure that every worker in America continues to receive their paycheck during this crisis and we must provide immediate financial relief to everyone in this country.

An important precedent for that approach was taken in the recent stimulus package in which grants were provided to the airlines for the sole purpose of maintaining the paychecks and benefits of some 2 million workers in that industry through September 30. We must expand that program to cover every worker in America and we must make it retroactive to the beginning of this crisis. This is not a radical idea. Other countries, such as the UK, Norway, Denmark, France, and others have all come up with similar approaches to sustain their economy and prevent workers from losing their jobs.

Our primary goal during this crisis must be to prevent the disintegration of the American economy. It will be much easier and less expensive to prevent the collapse of the economy than trying to put it back together after it collapses.

To do this, we must also begin monthly payments of $2,000 for every man, woman, and child in our country, and guarantee paid family leave throughout this crisis so that people who are sick do not face the choice of infecting others or losing their job.

2. We Must Guarantee Health Care to All

Let’s be clear: we were facing a catastrophic health care crisis before the pandemic, and now that crisis has become much, much worse. Already, 87 million people are uninsured or underinsured. Layoffs will mean tens of millions of people more will lose their current insurance — which will result in countless deaths and bankruptcies. Already in the last two weeks, an estimated 3.5 million people have lost their employer-sponsored insurance.

And as the pandemic grows, we are seeing more and more reports of people who have delayed treatment due to concerns about cost. In this pandemic, uninsurance will lead to deaths and more COVID-19 transmissions.

Therefore, during this crisis, Medicare must be empowered to pay all of the deductibles, co-payments and out-of-pocket healthcare expenses for the uninsured and the underinsured. No one in America who is sick, regardless of immigration status, should be afraid to seek the medical treatment they need during this national pandemic. Let me be clear: I am not proposing that we pass Medicare for All in this moment. That fight continues into the future. But, for the moment, we must act boldly to make sure everyone can get the health care they need in the coming months.

3. Use the Defense Production Act to Produce the Equipment and Testing We Need

Unbelievably, in the United States right now, doctors and nurses are unnecessarily putting their lives on the line treating people suffering from the coronavirus because they lack personal protective equipment like masks, gloves, and surgical gowns. The CDC has directed health professionals to use homemade gear like bandanas or scarves and some workers at the VA are being told to re-use one surgical mask for a week at a time. HHS estimated that our country needs 3.5 billion masks in response to this crisis.

President Trump has utilized the Defense Production Act thousands of times for the military and for enforcement of his immigration policies, yet he has resisted using its power to save lives during the pandemic. That is unacceptable. We must immediately and forcefully use the Defense Production Act to direct the production of all of the personal protective equipment, ventilators and other medical supplies needed.

We must also utilize this power to produce antibody tests so we can begin figuring out who has already contracted the virus and has developed some immunity to COVID-19.

In addition, OSHA must adopt a strong emergency standard to protect health care workers, patients, and the public during this crisis. We must crack down aggressively on price gougers and hoarders, and use any means necessary to secure supplies.

4. Make Sure No One Goes Hungry

Even before this crisis hit, one in every seven kids in America was going hungry and nearly 5.5 million seniors in our country struggled with hunger. Already in this crisis we see lines at food banks and growing concern that our most vulnerable communities and those recently unemployed may struggle to feed their families.

As communities face record levels of food insecurity, we must increase SNAP benefits, expand the WIC program for pregnant mothers, infants, and children, double funding for the Emergency Food Program (TEFAP) to ensure food banks have food to distribute, and expand Meals on Wheels and School Meals programs. When necessary, we must also develop new approaches to deliver food to vulnerable populations — including door-to-door drop offs.

5. Provide Emergency Aid to States and Cities

Even as state and local employees like police officers, firefighters and paramedics work on the front lines of this pandemic, states and cities that pay their salaries are facing enormous budgetary pressures.

Congress must provide $600 billion in direct fiscal aid to states and cities to ensure they have the personnel and funding necessary to respond to this crisis. In addition, the Federal Reserve must establish programs to provide direct fiscal support and budgetary relief to states and municipalities.

6. Suspend Monthly Payments

Even before this crisis, half of the people in our country were living paycheck to paycheck. In America today, over 18 million families are paying more than 50 percent of their income on housing. Now, with growing unemployment, families are facing financial ruin if we do not act quickly and boldly.

That’s why we must suspend monthly expenses like rent, mortgages, medical debt and consumer debt collection for 4 months. We must cancel all student loan payments for the duration of this crisis, and place an immediate moratorium on evictions, foreclosures, and utility shut-offs.

Brothers and sisters: In this unprecedented moment in our history it is easy to feel like we are alone, and that everyone must fend for themselves. But that would be a mistake and a terrible tragedy. Now, more than any other moment in our lives, we must remember that we are all in this together — that when one of us gets sick, many more may get sick. And when my neighbor loses their job, I may lose my job as well.

Further, we cannot wait until our economy collapses to act. It will be far easier and less expensive to act now, in a very bold way, than to try to rebuild our country later.

If we work together and unite behind these basic principles of economic and health justice, I am confident that we will not only get through this unprecedented crisis together but that we will lay the groundwork for a better and more just America in the future.

But today, I am outlining a set of six core provisions that must be included in the next legislation Congress passes to support working people in this country during this horrific crisis. Please read them and add your name to say that you agree:

(Read the priorities here.)

The proposal put forward by Sanders today is backed by several progressive groups.  

“Half of Veterans are over age 65, and we disproportionately suffer from preexisting conditions and economic challenges which make the COVID-19 pandemic particularly devastating for our community,” Common Defense Director Alex McCoy said. “Meanwhile, countless workers at the Department of Veterans Affairs are making extraordinary sacrifices to save lives, while going without sufficient protective equipment. Senator Sanders’ plan for Phase 4 of COVID-19 response takes the bold steps which are absolutely essential to saving countless lives and preventing immeasurable economic hardship. We must immediately implement his proposals to provide Americans with a financial lifeline, and pivot our industrial capacity to produce sufficient supplies. We applaud Senator Sanders for demonstrating real leadership in this crisis and centering the tangible needs of ordinary people, while Donald Trump downplays the threat and weaponizes aid to give favors to his political allies and bail-outs to his favorite corporate CEOs.”

“Senator Sanders’ economic rescue principles speak to the bold, fast action needed to protect and support people, and prevent corporations from consolidating economic and political power amidst a crisis,” People’s Action Director George Goehl said. “We urge him to build on this strong framework by including a Rent Zero policy in the short term: no rent or mortgage payments during the crisis, no late fees, and no debts from housing obligations during the crisis.”

“Bernie’s plan for the fourth phase of a federal legislative response centers people, not corporations. It is about helping us survive with the cash assistance, healthcare, nutrition, worker safety we need, and relief from monthly payments we cannot make. It speaks to the needs of frontline workers who are battling the pandemic and making it possible for the rest of us to shelter in place, said Ana Maria Archila, Co-Director of Center For Popular Democracy Action. “Bernie is uniquely courageous in demanding and lifting up the inclusion of immigrants, recognizing that low-income communities of color will bear the worst of this crisis. His plan provides urgent and direct relief to those most vulnerable — addressing the gaps left by previous relief bills and creating a foundation for long-lasting recovery.” 

“Governments all around the world are keeping people employed and on payroll by covering salaries if businesses commit to not cutting wages or laying people off,” Justice Democrats Executive Director Alexandra Rojas said. “Senator Sanders is leading the fight to bring that common sense model to our country when so many workers and small business owners are confronting a complicated Rube Goldberg machine just to get a little relief.”

“This moment of crisis exemplifies the detrimental impact failing to account for the needs and extend protections to the most vulnerable has on the health of all within our communities, said Javier H. Valdés, Co-Director of Make the Road Action. “Only through a comprehensive response that covers the immediate and future healthcare, economic and maintenance needs of all members of our society can we prevent greater loss of life and a deeper economic downturn. Make the Road will continue to fight alongside Senator Sanders to ensure the next phase of COVID-19 legislative response includes these provisions and an eye towards justice.” 

“The current government response has left behind some of our most vulnerable neighbors including the homeless, the undocumented, the unbanked, and those without internet connections, said Marisa Franco, Founder and Director of Mijente. “The priorities outlined by Senators Sanders for the next Coronavirus Stimulus Package are what our country needs to ensure everyone in our community can access the financial and medical support needed to withstand this crisis. We stand with Senator Sanders in demanding a $2,000 monthly emergency payment, emergency food, and Medicare to every person in our country regardless of their housing situation, immigration status or whether they have a bank account or internet connection.” 

Sanders: Coronavirus Crisis Points to Urgent Need for Fundamental Changes to Economy, Healthcare System

Senator Bernie Sanders on the coronavirus pandemic: “In this moment of crisis, more and more people understand that we need fundamental changes to our economy, and we need fundamental changes to our healthcare system.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

BURLINGTON, Vt. – Sen. Bernie Sanders gave remarks regarding the lessons we can learn from the growing coronavirus outbreak.  This is a rushed transcript provided by the Sanders campaign:

Good afternoon everyone, thank you for being here. In the midst of a major healthcare and economic crisis currently facing our country, I’d like to take a few minutes to talk about the lessons we can learn long-term about what we are experiencing today.  

As I discussed yesterday, our country is facing, as everybody knows, a medical and economic crisis, the likes of which we have not seen for generations. And we must prepare for this response in an unprecedented way, making certain that our government responds effectively, and protects the interests of all our people regardless of their income, or where they live. In other words, this is not just about giving tax breaks to large corporations, but about remembering the people today who don’t have much money, who are nervous about their economic futures and healthcare prospects. 

Needless to say we must massively increase the availability of test kits for the coronavirus and the speed at which the tests are processed. We need to anticipate significant increases in hospital admissions, which means that we will need more ICU units and ventilators, we will need more doctors, nurses, and medical personnel of all kinds – and we must make sure that these frontline personnel are well protected from the diseases they are treating. I have talked to nurses recently who worry very much about whether they are getting the kind of knowledge and equipment they need so that they do not get sick. 

We need to significantly improve our communications and collaboration with other countries to ensure that we are learning everything that we can about the successes and failures of other countries as they deal with this crisis. And furthermore, we must be honest with the American people and communicate as effectively and directly as we can with all of the scientific information that we can provide. 

Further, and most importantly, our response to this entire crisis must be guided by the decisions of doctors, scientists, and researchers, not politicians.  

But as we struggle with this crisis, it is also important that we learn the lessons of how we got to where we are today, and what we must do in the future so that we are better prepared for similar crises that may come.  

Poll after poll already shows us that the American people understand that we must do what every other major country on earth does, and that is to guarantee healthcare to all of our people as a human right, not a privilege. As we begin to see the failures and vulnerabilities of the current healthcare system, my guess is that those numbers and the demand for universal healthcare will only go up. 

The American people are asking: how is it possible that we spend twice as much per capita as the people of Canada and other major countries, while 87 million of us are uninsured or underinsured.  

And obviously, in this crisis, and unbelievably, it means that people who are sick today, people who woke up this morning with symptoms of the coronavirus, are saying, “you know I feel sick but I cannot afford  to go to a doctor.”  And when somebody is not treated for the virus – somebody who is unable to afford to go to that doctor – that means that that infection can spread to many others, putting us at risk.

So it’s not just a question that in normal times – tragically, unbelievably – that we lose 30,000 people a year because they don’t get to doctor on time, but now the lack of healthcare threatens other people as well. 

How could it be, that when we spend so much more than what other countries are spending, we have millions of people who may be dealing with the virus but they cannot go to the doctor because they can’t afford it? That is a question that must resonate in every American’s mind.   

If this isn’t a red flag for the current dysfunctional and wasteful healthcare system, frankly I don’t know what is. 

For the benefit of all of us, we must make sure that every person in this country who needs to seek medical treatment can go to a doctor free of charge regardless of their income. That is obviously what we must do now in the middle of a crisis, but it is what we must do as a nation in the near future. 

Here are just a few instances about how absurd and dysfunctional our current healthcare system is. 

It has been estimated that a full battery of tests for the coronavirus costs over $1,300.  First of all, take a look at that – $1,300 to get the test people need to have to know if they have the virus or not. 

In America today, 40% of our people don’t have $400 in the bank to pay for an emergency expense. We have half of our people living paycheck to paycheck. 

If their car breaks down they can’t afford to get it fixed, and if somebody tells them it costs $1,300 for the test to determine whether you have the coronavirus if they’re sick, what are they supposed to do? What happens to them?  

How can someone without insurance afford to pay $1,331 to get tested when they don’t even have $400 in the bank? What are they supposed to do? What happens to them?  Do they go to a payday lender where the average interest rate is over 390%? Do they borrow money from their family? Or do they go without the test? Which every doctor in the world will tell them is a test they should have.  

And while the Trump administration says it may cover co-pays to cover the cost of testing for those who have insurance, they will not cover the cost of treatment – which could cost tens of thousands of dollars.  

How cruel is that? How absurd is that? To say to people, “we’re sorry you have coronavirus, we covered the cost of the test, but now you’re on your own and it’s going to cost tens of thousands of dollars to get treated.” That is totally absurd. 

Clearly what we need to do is to make sure that if someone has the coronavirus that person gets the treatment that they need.  

In other words, our current system leaves people uninsured, but even if you have insurance you may not even have the ability to travel to a doctor near you. 

Because now we’re talking about a system in which many rural hospitals have closed down and they cannot find a doctor in their communities. 

The reality today, and this is an issue we must to deal with, is that we don’t have enough doctors, we don’t have enough hospitals, and we don’t have enough clinics in rural communities and inner cities.   

Further, we are in a situation when we desperately need affordable prescription drugs, yet we have a pharmaceutical industry that continues to make billions in profits by charging outrageous prices for prescription drugs, sometimes 10x more in this country than in other countries.   

In my view, the most cost effective way to reform our dysfunctional and cruel system is to move to a Medicare for All, single-payer healthcare system.

And I think in the midst of this crisis, more and more Americans understand the truth of that.  

It is nearly impossible to believe that anyone can still think it’s acceptable to continue with a healthcare system that leaves tens of millions of people uninsured. The cruelty and absurdity of that view is more obvious in the midst of this crisis than it has ever been.   

And let’s be clear. Lack of healthcare and affordable medicine does not only threaten the healthcare and well-being of the uninsured. It threatens everyone who comes in contact with them.

In fact, what this crisis is beginning to teach us is that we are only as safe as the least insured person in America. 

Further, we are the only major country on earth that does not mandate paid family and medical leave. And we’re seeing how that crisis is impacting where we are today.  

As we speak, there are millions of workers — right now — who are being told to go to work, yet they may be ill and should be staying home. 

But these very same families will face financial ruin if they don’t go to work. These are workers in the restaurant industry, transportation industry, tourism, retail — in other words the people who interact with the public every single day.  

Right now, at a time when half of our people live paycheck to paycheck, and at a time of massive wealth and income inequality, we must directly address the economic desperation facing a huge number of Americans. 

So we must finally pass a paid family leave program in the United States to keep this virus from spreading and to keep Americans healthy.  

We must do it right now. 

People should not be going to work when they are sick, it is unfair to them, it is unfair to the people they are in contact with. And yet, that reality exists, because we are the only major country on earth not to guarantee paid family leave and sick time.

Finally, from a national security perspective, it is incomprehensible that we are dependent on China and other countries for masks, for prescription drugs, for rubber gloves, and for key parts needed to make advanced medical equipment like ventilators.

As a result of globalization and our disastrous trade policies, we have been outsourcing millions of jobs and factories overseas that have gutted our economy. Now we are seeing another tragic and devastating result of those policies, as we find ourselves dependent on other countries to provide the most essential things we need to combat a pandemic and protect the lives of the people in our country.

Now trade is a good thing, but it has to be based on common sense principles. It has to be based on protecting American workers and protecting our national security, making sure we are producing what we need in this country in the event of a national crisis.

Now is the time to begin bringing back production and manufacturing to the United States and enact fair trade policies so that we are never in this position again. 

Now here is the bottom line. As we are dealing with this crisis, we need to listen to the scientists, to the researchers, and to the medical professionals, not politicians. 

We need to move quickly to prepare for the exponential increase of cases we will be seeing here in our country.

But as we do that, we must begin thinking about how, as a society, we can create a healthcare and economic system that is humane, that is compassionate, and that works for all people, not just the wealthiest.

Now that is an issue that people have had to think about for a long time, but I think in this moment of crisis more and more people understand that we need fundamental changes to our economy, and we need fundamental changes to our healthcare system.

Democratic Race for 2020: Sanders Issues ‘Reproductive Health Care and Justice for All’ Plan

Senator Bernie Sanders has released his “Reproductive Health Care and Justice for All” plan. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. In what can be described as an love letter to Senator Elizabeth Warren’s supporters, Senator Bernie Sanders has released his “Reproductive Health Care and Justice for All” plan. But you decide how many of these provisions would ever be enacted. This is from the Sanders campaign:

WASHINGTON – Senator Bernie Sanders released a major tenet of his presidential platform: Reproductive Health Care and Justice for All. The latest policy plan builds on the Senator’s wide-ranging agenda for quality and affordable health care for all people. The plan centers on two primary prongs — ensuring universal and affordable access to reproductive health care, and a comprehensive action plan to address the crisis of maternal mortality in communities of color across the country. 

“There has been no time in the history of this country when women, especially Black women, have had the reproductive freedom and justice that they deserve. In my administration, that will finally change,” said Senator Bernie Sanders. “We must once and for all put an end to the unacceptable crisis of Black maternal mortality, and ensure every woman in this country — no matter where they’re from — has the basic right to quality healthcare.”

Sen. Sanders continued, “When I am in the White House, we will fight back against the Republican assault on abortion rights across this country and defend a woman’s fundamental right to control her own body. As President, there will be no doubt that in the United States of America, abortion is a constitutional right. Period.”

The Reproductive Health Care and Justice for All plan reflects the fact that issues of justice must be addressed holistically and intersectionally. The plan will be implemented in tandem with a comprehensive, progressive agenda to end racial disparities in our economic, criminal justice, environmental, education, and health care systems.  

The full and detailed plan can be found here. The following is a summary of key policies and action items as part of Reproductive Health Care and Justice for All.

As President, Bernie Sanders will:

Use executive authority to reverse President Trump’s anti-choice actions.  

Codify Roe v. Wade in legislative statute, require all judicial nominees to support Roe v. Wade as settled law, and require preclearance for state abortion laws to ensure that state laws do not impose undue restrictions and barriers for abortion services.  

Protect and expand funding for Planned Parenthood, and repeal the Hyde and Helms Amendments.  

Ban state Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws that put undue and unnecessary burdens and regulations on doctors who provide abortion services with the goal of restricting access.  

Ensure anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers do not receive federal funds.  

Ensure that all communities have access to nearby abortion care.   

Make birth control available over-the-counter, in addition to free under Medicare for All.  

Ban ineffective abstinence-only sex education.  

Increase access to and funding for reproductive services and facilities in communities of color, eliminate “contraceptive deserts,” and increase funding to hospitals where Black mothers and parents receive care.  

Work with women of color-led community organizations to develop and coordinate policy.    

Educate health care providers and medical school students on providing culturally competent care.  

Ban discrimination by health care providers, and provide a right of action for patients discriminated against.  

Establish standard protocols to rapidly address postpartum hemorrhage, a leading cause of maternal mortality in Black women.  

Require hospitals that receive federal funding to hire culturally competent care liaisons to field complaints, and provide training to all labor and delivery staff, including nurses, doctors, and clerks.
 

Ensure there are sufficient OBGYN physicians, midwives, lactation consultants and doulas in medically underserved communities of color.   

Create and expand programs for Black maternal mortality liaisons, patient advocates, care coordinators, and social workers at hospitals serving at-risk women of color.  

Expand the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program for pregnant mothers, infants, and children.  

Sanders to Trump on Coronavirus: Stop Playing Politics With Our Health and National Security

“Concern about the coronavirus continues to grow, yet the Trump administration’s response has been inadequate, misleading, and dangerous,” declared Senator Bernie Sanders after Trump appointed Mike Pence to lead the administration’s response to the pandemic. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday issued the following statement on the Trump administration’s response to coronavirus: 

“Concern about the coronavirus continues to grow, yet the Trump administration’s response has been inadequate, misleading, and dangerous. By picking Vice President Mike Pence to lead the administration’s response to the pandemic, Trump has not only chosen someone completely unqualified, but the president has made clear that he’s more concerned about his own politics than the health and safety of the country.

“In my view, the Trump administration must take immediate action. First, they must replace Mike Pence with an expert on pandemics and disaster response. Second, the Trump administration must stop releasing misleading, unscientific, and false information about whether the coronavirus is controlled or when it will be controlled. Third, they must immediately staff their response team with experts and scientists to help us address a pandemic based on facts – Steve Mnuchin and Larry Kudlow are political cronies, not scientists. In addition, Trump must sign the full $8.5 billion in coronavirus response funding proposed by Sen. Chuck Schumer.

“We need a president who does not play politics with our health and national security. Besides passing Medicare for All so everyone can see a doctor or get a vaccine for free, my administration will greatly expand funding for the Center for Disease Control and National Institute of Health, work with the international community, including with the World Health Organization, and invest in research and technology to make vaccines available quickly,” Sanders stated.

Democratic Race for 2020: Sanders Answers the Burning Question: How Would He Pay for his Progressive Agenda?

One of the most severe criticisms of Senator Bernie Sanders’ candidacy is the price tag of his progressive programs including Medicare for All, College for All, universal child care and pre-K, and Green New Deal and how these programs would be paid for. In the Charleston, SC debate (number 10 for anyone who is counting), Senator Amy Klobuchar charged that his plans, collectively, would cost $60 trillion, or three times the entire US economy. Now, just ahead of the South Carolina and Super Tuesday primaries, Sanders has released his plan to pay for his major policy proposals, which he handed to Chris Cuomo during a CNN town hall on February 24:

Senator Bernie Sanders, running for president, has released his plan to pay for his major policy proposals, including Medicare for All, College for All, universal child care and pre-K, and Green New Deal © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com \

College For All

It will cost $2.2 trillion to make public colleges, universities and trade schools tuition free and to cancel all student debt over the next decade.  It is fully paid for by a modest tax on Wall Street speculation that will raise an estimated $2.4 trillion over ten years.

https://berniesanders.com/issues/free-college-cancel-debt/

Expanding Social Security

Bernie’s bill to expand Social Security will increase benefits for low-income senior citizens and people with disabilities by more than $1,300 a year.  It is fully paid for by making the wealthiest 1.8% of Americans – those with incomes over $250,000 a year – pay the same rate into Social Security as working families.

This bill will also extend the solvency of Social Security into the year 2070 – ensuring that Social Security can pay every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 50 years.

https://berniesanders.com/issues/expand-social-security/


Housing for All

Bernie’s proposal to guarantee housing as a human right and to eliminate homelessness will cost $2.5 trillion over the next decade.

It is fully paid for by a wealth tax on the top one-tenth of one percent – those who have a net worth of at least $32 million.  (Bernie’s wealth tax will raise a total of $4.35 trillion.)

https://berniesanders.com/issues/housing-all/

https://berniesanders.com/issues/tax-extreme-wealth/
 

Universal Childcare/Pre-K

Bernie’s proposal to guarantee universal childcare and pre-school to every family in America who needs it will cost $1.5 trillion.

It is fully paid for by a wealth tax on the top one-tenth of one percent – those who have a net worth of at least $32 million.  (Bernie’s wealth tax will raise a total of $4.35 trillion.)

https://berniesanders.com/issues/tax-extreme-wealth/

Eliminating Medical Debt

Bernie has introduced a proposal to eliminate all of the $81 billion in past due medical debt held by 79 million Americans.  It is fully paid for by establishing an income inequality tax on large corporations that pay CEOs at least 50 times more than average workers.  

https://berniesanders.com/issues/tax-extreme-wealth/

Green New Deal

The $16.3 trillion climate change proposal that Bernie has introduced will fundamentally transform our energy system away from fossil fuel and towards energy efficiency and renewable energy.  It will also create 20 million good-paying union jobs in the process.

It is fully paid for by:

– Raising $3.085 trillion by making the fossil fuel industry pay for their pollution, through litigation, fees, and taxes, and eliminating federal fossil fuel subsidies.

– Generating $6.4 trillion in revenue from the wholesale of energy produced by the regional Power Marketing Administrations.  This revenue will be collected from 2023-2035, and after 2035 electricity will be virtually free, aside from operations and maintenance costs.

–  Reducing defense spending by $1.215 trillion by scaling back military operations on protecting the global oil supply.

–  Collecting $2.3 trillion in new income tax revenue from the 20 million new jobs created by the plan.

– Saving $1.31 trillion by reduced the need for federal and state safety net spending due to the creation of millions of good-paying, unionized jobs.

–  Raising $2 trillion in revenue by making large corporations pay their fair share of taxes.

Key Points:

By averting climate catastrophe we will save: $2.9 trillion over 10 years, $21 trillion over 30 years and $70.4 trillion over 80 years. 
 

If we do not act, the U.S. will lose $34.5 trillion by the end of the century in economic productivity.

https://berniesanders.com/issues/tax-extreme-wealth/

Medicare for All

According to a February 15, 2020 study by epidemiologists at Yale University, the Medicare for All bill that Bernie wrote would save over $450 billion in health care costs and prevent 68,000 unnecessary deaths – each and every year.

Since 2016, Bernie has proposed a menu of financing options that would more than pay for the Medicare for All legislation he has introduced according to the Yale study.

These options include:

Creating a 4 percent income-based premium paid by employees, exempting the first $29,000 in income for a family of four.

In 2018, the typical working family paid an average of $6,015 in premiums to private health insurance companies.  Under this option, a typical family of four earning $60,000, would pay a 4 percent income-based premium to fund Medicare for All on income above $29,000 – just $1,240 a year – saving that family $4,775 a year.  Families of four making less than $29,000 a year would not pay this premium.

(Revenue raised: About $4 trillion over 10-years.)
 

Imposing a 7.5 percent income-based premium paid by employers, exempting the first $1 million in payroll to protect small businesses.

In 2018, employers paid an average of $14,561 in private health insurance premiums for a worker with a family of four.  Under this option, employers would pay a 7.5 percent payroll tax to help finance Medicare for All – just $4,500 – a savings of more than $10,000 a year.

(Revenue raised: Over $5.2 trillion over 10-years.)
 

Eliminating health tax expenditures, which would no longer be needed under Medicare for All.
 
(Revenue raised: About $3 trillion over 10-years.) 
 

Raising the top marginal income tax rate to 52% on income over $10 million.

(Revenue raised: About $700 billion over 10-years.)
 

Replacing the cap on the state and local tax deduction with an overall dollar cap of $50,000 for a married couple on all itemized deductions. 

(Revenue raised: About $400 billion over 10-years.)
 

Taxing capital gains at the same rates as income from wages and cracking down on gaming through derivatives, like-kind exchanges, and the zero tax rate on capital gains passed on through bequests.

(Revenue raised: About $2.5 trillion over 10-years.)
 

Enacting the For the 99.8% Act, which returns the estate tax exemption to the 2009 level of $3.5 million, closes egregious loopholes, and increases rates progressively including by adding a top tax rate of 77% on estate values in excess of $1 billion.

(Revenue raised: $336 billion over 10-years.)
 

Enacting corporate tax reform including restoring the top federal corporate income tax rate to 35 percent.

(Revenue raised: $3 trillion of which $1 trillion would be used to help finance Medicare for All and $2 trillion would be used for the Green New Deal.)
 

Using $350 billion of the amount raised from the tax on extreme wealth to help finance Medicare for All.

​​​ 

Democratic Race for 2020: Sanders Releases Plan to Guarantee Child Care and Pre-K for All

Senator Bernie Sanders, running to win the Democratic nomination for President is releasing what he claims is “the most comprehensive and expansive early childhood policy ever proposed by a candidate running for president.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Bernie Sanders is releasing what he says is “the most comprehensive and expansive early childhood policy ever proposed by a candidate running for president,” except that he does not attach a price tag nor say how it will be paid for. Separately, in a “60 Minutes” interview, he said the undetermined amount would be paid for from a wealth tax (Senator Elizabeth Warren has said the same thing, except she attaches dollar figures to her proposal.) This is from the Sanders campaign:

Sen. Bernie Sanders released the most comprehensive and expansive early childhood policy ever proposed by a candidate running for president, including guaranteeing free, high-quality child care for all children from infancy and pre-k starting at age three.

“Childcare must be guaranteed for every child regardless of their parents’ income, just like K-12 education. We know that the first four years of a child’s life are the most important years of human development, so it is unconscionable that in the wealthiest country in the world, we do not properly invest in early childhood education.” Sanders said. “As president, we will guarantee free, universal childcare and pre-kindergarten to every child in America to help level the playing field, create new and good jobs, and enable parents more easily balance the demands of work and home.” 

Today in America, our child care and pre-kindergarten system is failing our children, our parents, and our child care and early education workers. Not only is our child care infrastructure and access to high-quality care and early learning lacking throughout the country, child care is unaffordable in every single state in America.

The average family in America today spends nearly $10,000 a year on child care. For low-income families, the burden is even higher: a full 35 percent of these families’ income goes toward child care. According to a survey conducted last year, over half of mothers worked less hours to save on child care costs, and a quarter of moms left the workforce entirely due to care for their children. 

Our dysfunctional system also punishes the people who take care of, nurture, and educate our youngest children. Child care workers, on average, make just $11 an hour despite the skyrocketing costs of child care and early education. Even though they take on the most important job in America – caring for our children – child care workers, 96 percent of whom are women and are disproportionately women of color, are paid starvation wages.

In the richest country in the history of the world, we have a moral responsibility as a nation to guarantee high-quality care and education for every single child, regardless of background or family income. We owe it to our children, parents, and child care workers to do much better. 

As President, Bernie will:

Guarantee every child in America free full-day, full-week, high-quality child care from infancy through age three, regardless of income.  

Provide child care at least 10 hours a day and ensure programs operate at times to serve parents who work non-traditional hours.  

Guarantee every child access to a full-day, full-week pre-kindergarten education, regardless of income, starting at age 3.  

Ensure students with disabilities receive the support they need and are included with their peers from an early age.  

Double funding for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program, which supports home visiting services from  nurses, mental health professionals, social workers, and other support professionals for families with young children who live in low-income and at-risk communities.  

Pass Bernie’s Universal School Meals Act that he introduced with Rep. Ilhan Omar to provide year-round, free universal school meals — breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks — to every child in child care and pre-k.  

Construct, renovate, or rehabilitate the child care facilities and pre-schools we need throughout the country.  

Enact Bernie’s Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education to make transformative investments in our public education system to ensure the developmental gains made by implementing universal child care and pre-k are built upon when children start their K-12 education and:  

More than double the number of early childhood educators in this country from over 1.3 million to more than 2.6 million.    

Guarantee everyone working in the field of early education a living wage, ensure all are compensated commensurate with their experience and training, and ensure all lead teachers are paid no less than similarly qualified kindergarten teachers.    

Require anyone providing direct service to young children have at least child a Child Development Associates (CDA) credential, all assistant teachers have at least an Associate’s Degree in early childhood education or child development, and all lead preschool teachers have a Bachelor’s Degree in early childhood education or child development.   

Guarantee support for existing and new early care and learning professionals to get the education required to care for and teach young children, within a reasonable phase-in period, and ensure that these professionals reflect the cultural, linguistic, racial and ethnic diversity of the communities they serve.   

Ensure that all early childhood educators have access to ongoing high-quality professional development that includes coaching and mentoring.  

Provide early childhood workers with strong protections for unionizing, sector-wide collective bargaining, workers’ rights, workplace safety, and fair scheduling, regardless of immigration status, and that they have the information and tools they need to act on these rights and protections through  the passage of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Act introduced by Rep. Pramilla Jayapal and enacting Bernie’s Workplace Democracy plan.

The full plan can be found here.