sSenator Bernie Sanders called on Democrats to make a “major course correction” focused on fighting for the American working class and standing up to “strong corporate interests” as the Democrats’ legislative agenda is stalled and their party faces tough prospects in the November elections. .
The White House will likely see his comments as a snapshot of the left wing of a party increasingly frustrated with how centrist Democrats have been able to spoil or delay large parts of Biden’s domestic policy plans.
In an interview with The Guardian, Sanders called on Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to push for a vote on individual bills that would be a boon for working families, noting extended child tax credits, lower prescription drug prices and Raising the federal minimum hourly wage to $15.
The Vermont senator insisted such votes would be good politics and good politics, saying they would show Democrats fighting for the working class while highlighting Republican opposition to very popular policies.
“It’s no secret that the Republican Party is gaining more and more support from workers,” Sanders said. Not because the Republican Party has anything to say to them. That is because the Democratic Party has in many ways turned its back on the working class.”
Sanders, who ran for the party’s nomination in both 2016 and 2020, losing in fierce contests to Hillary Clinton and then Biden, is a popular figure on the party’s left. The Vermont Democrat remains influential and has been supportive of Biden during his first year as the party tries to deal with the dual threats of the pandemic and an emerging and increasingly radical Republican Party.
But his comments appear to reflect growing discontent and concern with the direction of the Biden administration. “I think it’s very important that we do a big course correction,” Sanders continued. “It’s important that we have the courage to take on the interests of the very powerful corporations that have incredibly strong control over this country’s economy.”
The individual bills that Sanders favors may not attract the 60 votes needed to overcome Republican obstruction, and defeating them could embarrass Democrats. But Sanders, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and one of the country’s most prominent progressive voices, said, “People can understand that sometimes you don’t have the votes. But they can’t understand why we haven’t put forward important legislation that 70 or 80% of the American people support.”
Sanders spoke to the Guardian on January 6, the same day issued a statement that the best way to preserve our democracy It is not only about enacting legislation protecting voting rights, but also to address the concerns of the “vast majority of Americans” for whom “there is a disconnect between the reality of their lives and what is going on in Washington.”
He said millions of Americans are concerned about such “hard realities” as “low wages, dead-end jobs, debt, homelessness and a lack of health care.” In that statement, he said, many working-class Americans had become disenchanted with the political system because “nothing has changed ‘for them’ or, if it does, usually for the worse.”
In the interview, Sanders repeatedly said Democrats need to show forcefully and clearly that they are fighting to improve the lives of working-class Americans. “The fact of the matter is that people are going to work, and half of them are living with paycheck,” Sanders said. “People are suffering from healthcare and prescribed medication. Young families cannot afford childcare. Older workers are anxious to death about retirement.”
Sanders has long been troubled by rising wealth and income inequality in America, but he has made clear he believes it is time for Democrats to take on the super-wealthy and powerful corporations — a move he said large numbers of Americans would support. “They want the rich to start paying their fair share of taxes,” he said. “They think it’s ridiculous that Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk don’t pay any federal taxes.”
He praised Biden for pushing for better child care and expanding the tax credit for children. But he said it would also be good to “show workers that you are willing to step up and stand up to the greed of America’s ruling class right now.” He repeatedly cited high prices for prescription drugs as an example of “corporate greed.”
“There is no problem that people care more about than that we are paying the highest prices for prescription drugs in the world,” he said, adding that the pharmaceutical industry has 1,500 lobbyists in Washington who “tried everything to make sure we don’t.” Reducing the cost of medicines.
“I think the Democrats are going to have to clear the air and say to the drug companies — and say it out loud — we’re talking about working-class needs — and use the term ‘working class,’” the senator said. Not only is it the right thing to do, but I think it would be the politically right thing to do.”
last Wednesday evening, Sanders broadcast live nationwide During which he spoke with the leaders of three long-running hits: Warrior Met Coal in Alabama, Special Metals in West Virginia, and Rich Product Corporation’s Jon Donaire Desserts in Southern California. In a sign that hedge funds or billionaires own large stakes in all three companies, he criticized those companies for offering modest increases or asking workers to pay more for health coverage even as owners’ wealth rose during the pandemic thanks to a stock market boom. .
“These entities, where the people at the top have done exceptionally well, are putting pressure on their workers and lowering the standard of living for striking workers,” Sanders said. “this is unacceptable.”
In December, Sanders went to Battle Creek, Michigan, to support 1,400 Kellogg workers who were striking at grain mills in that city as well as in Memphis, Tennessee. Omaha, Nebraska; Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In the interview, Sanders said, “I think the Democratic Party should address the long-running debate, which is, ‘Which side are you on? Are we willing to stand with working families and seize strong institutional interests?'”
Sanders has expressed frustration with the lack of progress on Biden’s rebuilding better legislation, which Democrats have sought to enact through budget compromise, a process that requires only a simple majority to pass. That effort was slowed by protracted negotiations with centrist Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kirsten Sinema of Arizona — and then blocked when Manchin said he opposed the $2 million deal, sparking left-wing anger and deep frustration in the White House.
“We’ve been experimenting with a strategy over the past several months, which has been mostly covert negotiations with a handful of senators,” Sanders said. “You have not succeeded in rebuilding better or on voting rights. It has demoralized millions of Americans.”
He called for reviving a strong version of Build Back Better and also called for a vote on individual parts of this legislation that would help working-class Americans. “We have to put these things on the floor,” Sanders said. “The vast majority of people in [Democratic] The conglomerate is willing to fight for good policy.”
Sanders added, “If I were a Senator Cinemas and a vote was taken to cut the exorbitant cost of prescription drugs, I would think twice if I wanted to be reelected in Arizona to vote against it. If I were Mr. Manchin and I know the tens of thousands of struggling families in Virginia Western benefited from the expansion of the children’s tax credit, I would have thought a lot before voting against it.”
Sanders also called for legislation on another issue he championed: making Medicare provide benefits for teeth, vision and hearing. “All these issues, it’s not just Bernie Sanders standing up and saying this would be a great thing,” he said. They are very popular issues, and in every one of them, Republicans are in opposition. But a lot of people don’t know that because Republicans weren’t forced to vote for them.”