Sanders speaks at Politics and Eggs
MANCHESTER – Fresh off his virtual tie with Pete Buttigieg in the murky Iowa caucus, Bernie Sanders’ campaign continues momentum, as the Independent Democratic presidential candidate spoke at the Saint Anselm College Institute of Politics in Manchester on Friday morning.
Sanders didn’t need much of a warm-up, as he fast-balled his talking points on the economy, a living wage and Americans living paycheck to paycheck, healthcare and affordable childcare.
“President Trump says the economy is doing great, that it’s booming,” said Sanders. “If you are the average American worker, despite huge increases in technology and productivity over the last 45 years, today you are not earning a nickel more in real inflation accounted for dollars than you did 45 years ago, why is that?”
A kinder, gentler Sanders touted his successful campaign and encouraged Americans to “think outside the box.”
“We’re asking the people take a look at our country and the world in a different way,” he said, “than Congress does or even the media does and ask some fundamental questions about what is going on in our nation.”
Even as we are the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, Sanders stressed income and wealth inequality.
“We don’t talk about it,” he said. “Congress doesn’t talk about it. The media doesn’t talk about it terribly often. How do we feel when three people in America own more wealth than the bottom half of our country? That’s 160 million people. How do we feel when the top 1% owns more wealth than the bottom 92% at the same time when tonight over 500,000 Americans will be homeless sleeping out on the streets or in shelters, including 30,000 veterans?”
Sanders stated that in the last three years, American billionaires increased their wealth by more than $800 billion while the average American only saw an increase of 1%.
“How does it happen that year after year after year, people on top do phenomenally well, year after year after year, working class and middle-class struggle and 40 million people live in poverty?” Sanders asked. “Think about that.”
A recent NBC News/Marist poll shows that Sanders gets support from 25% of likely Democratic primary voters in the Granite State, while Buttigieg gets support from 21%
Sanders naturally made room for battering Buttigieg on the former South Bend mayor’s billionaire donors, reading Friday’s headlines.
“‘Buttigieg has most exclusive billionaire donors of any democrat,’ that was ‘Forbes,'” said Sanders. “‘The Hill’: Buttigieg tops billionaire donor list. ‘Fortune’: ‘Buttigieg takes lead as big business candidate.'”
“I like Pete Buttigieg. He’s a nice guy,” Sanders continued. “But we are in a moment where billionaires control not only our economy, but our political life.”
Sanders also knocked billionaire Democratic candidate Mike Bloomberg, though not by name.
“When you talk about money in politics, we have a former mayor of New York City,” he said. “He’s entitled to run, no problem with that. Smart guy. But he is spending hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to buy the election. There is something wrong with that.”
As for the Trump, Sanders saved his best jabs for last.
“Right now, you have a billionaire president who is a pathological liar, who is corrupt, who is a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a xenophobe and a religious bigot,” he said. “Big money business is not unhappy with this guy. He gave them huge tax breaks. Two years ago, he gave $1 trillion in tax breaks to the wealthiest 1% in large profitable corporations, such that companies like Amazon, owned by the wealthiest guy in America, last year paid zero in federal income taxes. How does that happen? We have a corrupt political system. Nobody wants to hear that.”
Later, Sanders analogized the Woody Guthrie song, “Which Side Are You On,” to the current climate in American politics.
“I will not sing that for you,” he joked. “But right now, we need policies in Washington that reflect the needs of the working families of this country who have been too, too long neglected.”
“Which side are you on? Sanders asked.
George Pelletier may be reached at email@example.com