From climate change and alternative energy, to ending peak historical wealth and income inequality, Americans are starting to listen and they like what they hear. This presidential candidate’s rise in popularity in the current American presidential race has been nothing short of meteoric.
Sanders is the first candidate in modern election history to not only talk about not lowering the level of the contest to negative ads and character hits, he has actually practiced it, positioning himself as a true statesman focusing on the issues that are important to most people.
He won’t back down from a fight (ask anyone who has worked with him during his 30-plus years of public service), yet his preference is always diplomacy first. And because he has chosen to be a statesman, now, when his opponents attempt to cast him in a negative light, he is flooded with millions of dollars in small campaign donations from millions of everyday citizens, expressing their disagreement with the misleading and sometimes untruthful things being said about him and his hope for a better America.
Here are ten of the reasons why these millions of people are starting to “Feel the Bern.”
10. Campaign Finance
Money talks and Sanders knows it. The American defense lobby, for example, spent $53 million lobbying congress, and received $142 billion in contracts on 2013. The Citizens United Supreme Court decision recognized money as free speech and corporations as people, which has opened the door to a massive influx of special interest money that has placed the interests of the corporate and wealthy above the interests of the citizens, or as Sanders likes to say, the 99%.
As an example, Sanders will require all government contractors to disclose their political spending, strengthen the mission and adequately staff the agencies responsible for regulating campaigns and donations, and insist on complete transparency of all campaign funding. Americans know this is needed, and Sanders is the only candidate who isn’t afraid to take this on, due to his campaign being financed by millions of small donations and not by the large money interests who have had the deck stacked in their favor for the past 30 years.
9. Balancing Income Inequality And The Tax Structure
Listen to Bernie on any given day, and he’ll tell you how the gap between the very rich and everyone else in America has never been greater since 1928 (“The Great Gatsby” takes place around this time), and most of us know that’s only a year before the start of the Great Depression.
Since 1984 in particular, the percentage of wealth owned by the top one tenth of one percent has risen unimpeded. American corporate tax rates peaked at 52% post World War II and have steadily declined to their current 35%, though the effective corporate tax rate actually paid by American corporations is approximately 12.6%.
Sanders reminds his listeners that if any one of them paid more than $1 in taxes from the period from 2008 to 2013, they paid more taxes than the combined taxes of General Electric, Boeing, and Verizon, even though their combined profits for that same period were in excess of $102 billion. Sanders wants to restore balance to the taxation system, where all involved pay their fair share.
8. Wall Street And The Banks
Sanders reminds anyone who will listen that it was the taxpayers who spent $700 billion to bail out the banks and provided them with over $16 trillion in zero interest loans during the recent Great Recession. The banks that were considered “too big to fail” back then, are 80% larger now. He believes it’s been a “Wild West” environment in the American investment and banking industries, and he plans to be the new sheriff in town.
Sanders firmly believes that if a bank is too big to fail, a bank is too big to exist. He wants to cap credit card interest rates at 15%, and restore a modern Glass-Steagall act, which keeps the depositor’s money in a bank separate from risky investments taken on by the bank.
Sanders also wants to place a “micro-tax” on high frequency algorithmic trades, and strengthen staffing and purpose at the agencies that oversee Wall Street and the banks. Sanders wants to restore a healthy system of checks and balances to the banking and investment industries, and create a healthy, prosperous, and sustainable American economy.
7. Healthcare For All Citizens
Americans spend more money on healthcare than any modern country in the world, yet significant portions of the population are still not covered. Sanders plans to move the country into a system (much like Canada’s) that provides healthcare as a right of citizenry.
His analysis says this will save the average American family $5,000 yearly and provide full coverage for all. A family of four making $50,000 annually would pay $465 for a full year of medical coverage under the Sanders plan (instead of paying that amount or more monthly, as many currently do.)
Sanders’ analysis also reveals that while the cost of his plan is $1.4 trillion annually, government healthcare is currently costing the U.S. $3 trillion yearly. So he provides a plan to cover everyone in the country with healthcare, and also reduces annual healthcare spending by $1.6 trillion. It’s plans like this that give candidate Sanders so much of his cross-party appeal, and yet another reason why he just might be the next American president.
6. Lowering Prescription Drug Prices
Sanders is quick to point out that last year, 20% of the American population failed to get their prescriptions filled because they did not have enough money, and this is in the presence of multi-billion dollar profits for the pharmaceutical companies.
Prescription drug prices in the United States are the highest of anywhere in the world. The Medicare reform legislation under the Bush administration prohibited the government (the largest purchaser of prescription drugs for Medicare) from negotiating prices with the pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Sanders’ intent is to restore normal market buying power to the government. In addition to allowing Americans to purchase prescriptions in Canada where the cost for the same prescription drugs can be 20% to 60% less and more for the same drug, the Sanders plan will prohibit the brand name pharmaceutical companies from paying off the generic drug manufacturers to keep their products off the market.
And again, we see Sanders appealing to both sides of the aisle, as 82% of Republicans agree that there should be greater transparency in pharmaceutical pricing.
5. Improved Working Conditions
At a time when millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages, as Sanders has said repeatedly, it’s now imperative to rebalance the company/employer equation.
Sanders is well aware that the country has been involved in a 30-plus year experiment to stack the deck towards the supply side, and the results of that experiment are conclusive. It doesn’t work and it isn’t sustainable. By restoring the balance with the demand, or consumer, side of the economy, he knows that both the demand and supply side of the economy will prosper, and return the country to its egalitarian vision and strengthen its democracy.
He’s proposing overtime pay protection, paid family and medical leave, $15/hour minimum wage, and facilitating workers’ abilities to organize and bargain collectively. His across the board appeal here is that nobody should work 40 hours in a week and live in poverty. He wins this debate because it would be virtually impossible to present a reasonable argument to the contrary.
4. Paying For College
The $1.3 trillion in student debt that students have taken on in order to get a college education in America is greater than the country’s credit card or auto loan debts. Sanders knows that education is a key component in building a stronger economy and a stronger democracy. The $75 billion plan is fully paid for, as Sanders describes it, by imposing a fraction of a percentage point tax on speculative Wall Street trades.
He also plans to get the government out of the business of making a profit on student loans, allowing refinancing of student debt to lower interest rates (auto loans have a lower rate of interest than student loans currently, for example), and increasing the federal work/study program to better prepare college students for their careers. It’s easy to understand his appeal to not only college students, but to their parents.
3. Rebuilding Infrastructure
Rebuilding the country’s road, drinking water, electricity, bridge, dam, and airport infrastructure, will be paid for by a tax on the $2.1 trillion held by U.S. corporations in offshore accounts. This alone accounts for $620 billion in tax revenue of the proposed $1 trillion necessary for rebuilding America’s infrastructure, with the balance being covered by the elimination of various tax loopholes that allow profitable multi-billion dollar corporations in some years to pay zero tax or even receive multi-million dollar tax refunds.
Sanders uses a low estimate of 13 million jobs being created from this program, with estimates from some economists tripling or quadrupling that 13 million job estimate number. You can see where Sander’s appeal here makes total sense, in that Americans, irrespective of their political affiliation, are angry about potholed roads, overcrowded airports and highways, and in some cases, drinking water infrastructure that’s approaching or exceeding a hundred years old. This is the type of work, that in the future, people’s children will thank them for undertaking.
Sanders wants to foster the rebuilding of a devastated middle class. There was a period in American history when the middle class prospered (The upper class too, for that matter.) A forty hour work week typically took care of a family, provided a home, car, vacations, and a retirement in post-war America up until the 1980s. And because Sanders is appealing to a value that resides deep in the psyche of both liberals and conservatives, he’s drawing supporters from both sides of the aisle. A candidate can’t be in any better position than to have people from the other side cross over and join him, especially when they’re drawn by the hope of a better life.
1. He Has The Best Ad. Ever.
This may be the best political ad ever. Sanders shows himself as a people’s candidate, not a candidate of, by, and for the large corporation. It’s warm, about the people who are the backbone of America, with a text message that’s simple yet powerful. The soundtrack and message are infectious, memorable and indisputable. They really have come to look for America. And one senses from looking at the throngs of his supporters, and their passionate response, that Bernie Sanders is a candidate that sincerely wants to make America a better place and this is exactly what they want.
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