Editor’s Note: Fox News Channel will televise a town hall with Vermont senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. EDT on Monday, April 15. “Special Report” anchor Bret Baier and “The Story” anchor Martha MacCallum will question Sen. Sanders and take audience questions in the live broadcast from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
In America today, we have more wealth and income inequality than any other major country on Earth and it is worse now than at any other time since the 1920s.
Unbelievably, while millions of American workers are forced to work two or three jobs to pay the bills and over half of our people live paycheck to paycheck, the three wealthiest families in our country now own more wealth than the bottom half of Americans – 160 million people.
Today, while hundreds of thousands of bright young people cannot afford to go to college and millions are struggling with high levels of student debt, the top 1 percent owns more wealth than the bottom 92 percent.
Today, while CEOs of major corporations make over 300 times what their average workers earn, thousands of veterans sleep out on the street and 20 percent of senior citizens are trying to survive on a paltry $13,500 income or less.
For 40 years, under Democratic and Republican administrations, we have seen a massive redistribution of wealth and income from the working class of this country to the top one percent. In fact, if the distribution of income remained what it was 40 years ago the average household in America would have about $11,000 more in income today.
Do you want to know why the American people are angry? Today, despite an explosion in technology and worker productivity, the average worker has seen his/her income go up by just 5 cents an hour over the last 43 years after adjusting for inflation.
And, if we don’t turn the economy around, economists predict that the younger generation will have an even a lower standard of living than their parents.
This is not acceptable to me. We need an economy that expands the middle class and reduces poverty and not one that makes the very rich much richer.
When Donald Trump ran for president he made a lot of promises to working families. He told them that he would protect their interests while standing up to the Establishment. Unfortunately, he did not tell the truth.
During his campaign, Trump said he would provide "health insurance for everybody,” but as president he has pushed to repeal the Affordable Care Act and throw 32 million Americans off of the health insurance they have. His efforts would also end the protections that are currently in existence for pre-existing conditions and end the ability of people under 26 to stay on their parents’ insurance plans. Meanwhile, while 34 million Americans currently have no health insurance and even more are under-insured with high deductibles and co-payments, a handful of health care CEOs paid themselves more than $1 billion last year.
In my view, at a time when we spend almost twice as much per capita on health care as do the people of any other nation, we should not be throwing millions of Americans off of health care they have. Quite the contrary! We should join every other major country on earth and guarantee health care to all people as a right through a Medicare for All, single-payer program. Medicare today is a popular and effective health insurance program for seniors. Over a 4-year period it should be expanded and improved to cover every man, woman and child in the country. And when we do that we significantly reduce the cost of health care for the average American family.
We are living in a pivotal moment in American history. Our goal must be to create good-paying jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, not give huge tax breaks to people who don’t need them.
During his campaign, Trump said that he would stop the pharmaceutical companies from “getting away with murder.” Well, that didn’t happen. They’re making more money than ever. During the first half of last year there were 96 drug price increases for every price cut. Today, in the United States, we pay by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, while the top ten pharmaceutical companies made $69 billion in profits last year alone. Shockingly, one out of five Americans cannot afford to purchase the prescription drugs their doctors prescribe. That is insane.
As president, I will implement legislation I have introduced which would lower prescription drug prices by 50 percent so Americans no longer pay any more for their medicine than the people of other countries.
During his campaign, Trump promised he would not cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. But the budget he proposed in March would cut $1.5 trillion from Medicaid, $845 billion from Medicare, and $25 billion from Social Security. As president, at a time when so many seniors and people with disabilities are struggling, I will not cut Social Security. In fact, legislation that I have introduced would expand Social Security benefits while extending its solvency for over 50 years.
During his campaign, Trump promised that “the rich will not be gaining at all” under his tax plan. But the reality is that the plan that he helped pass provides 83 percent of the benefits to the top one percent by the end of the decade. Further, as a result of his tax plan, major profitable corporations like Amazon, General Motors, Chevron, IBM and Eli Lilly and dozens of other major corporations paid zero in federal income taxes after making billions in profits. That is a regressive and unfair tax system that must not be allowed to continue.
At a time when the very rich are getting much richer and when corporations are enjoying record-breaking profits, I believe that the wealthiest people in this country have got to start paying their fair share of taxes and that we must end the tax havens that exist in places like the Cayman Islands where corporations and the rich stash trillions of dollars to avoid paying their taxes.
During his campaign, Trump promised that he would substantially reduce the trade deficit, prevent the outsourcing of American jobs and protect good-paying jobs here at home. However, since Trump has been president the trade deficit in goods has hit a record high of $891 billion and his own Labor Department says that 185,000 American jobs have been shipped overseas under his watch. He has also expanded the tax cut that rewards companies for replacing American workers with robots; created new tax incentives for his corporate allies to shift jobs overseas; and given out $50 billion in government contracts to companies that are offshoring jobs.
We are living in a pivotal moment in American history. Our goal must be to create good-paying jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, not give huge tax breaks to people who don’t need them. Our job must be to invest in public education and combat climate change, not spend trillions on never ending wars.
Our job must be to bring all Americans together – black, white, Latino, Native American, Asian American, gay and straight, native born and immigrant – and not allow ourselves to be divided up.
Together, we can and must create an economy and government that works for all Americans and not just the 1 percent.