Senator Bernie Sanders: It’s 2012 – So, Where Do We Go From Here?

by on December 30, 2011 · 4 comments

in American Empire, Economy, Environment

Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont

By Bernie Sanders / RSN – Green Mountain Daily / December 30, 2011

The year 2011 has been a tough one for Vermont and our country. The recession caused by the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior of Wall Street continues. While Vermont is doing better economically than much of the country, too many of our friends and neighbors are unemployed or underemployed or are earning less than they need to adequately support their families.

Further, in Vermont we have had to deal with the devastation of Hurricane Irene, which caused so much hardship for individuals and businesses. We should all be grateful for the efforts of state and local officials, first responders, the many hundreds of volunteers, and members of the National Guard who all did such an extraordinary job in the cleanup and recovery effort.

It is no secret that the people of our country are angry and frustrated with Washington and their government. They correctly perceive that we face enormous problems: a collapsing middle class, increased poverty and a growing gap between the very rich and everyone else; sky-high unemployment; 50 million Americans without health insurance; a deteriorating infrastructure; the continued loss of our manufacturing capabilities; the ongoing mortgage and student loan crises, and the planetary challenge of global warming. And on top of all of that, we have a $15 trillion dollar national debt.

The American people want action. They want their government to start representing the 99 percent, not just the top 1 percent. With that goal in mind, let me say a few words about some of the issues that I will be working on when Congress reconvenes in January.

With more than 24 million Americans unemployed or underemployed, 15 percent of our workforce, we must be aggressive about creating the millions of new jobs we desperately need. It is simply not acceptable that high school or college graduates are not able to find work as they try to begin their careers. It is horrific that millions of older workers, who were looking forward to secure retirements, find themselves unemployed and facing the possibility that they may never again have a job.

One of the fastest ways to create jobs is to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure – roads, bridges, railroads, airports, water systems, wastewater plants and aging schools. While we spend 2 percent of our GDP on infrastructure, China spends 9 percent and Europe spends 5 percent. We also need to make sure that Vermont and all of rural America gets the quality broadband and cell phone service that we deserve in order to be able to compete in the 21st century. When we rebuild and improve our infrastructure we not only create a significant number of jobs, we make our country more efficient and productive. I will continue to fight for a substantial federal investment in infrastructure.

Another important way to create jobs – while we protect our environment, address global warming and prevent new wars – is to transform our energy system away from foreign oil and fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy. In Vermont, we already lead the country in energy efficiency, but much, much more can be done. We can create many new jobs weatherizing homes and buildings while, at the same time, we cut greenhouse gas emissions and save consumers money on their fuel bills. This is a win, win, win proposition. We must also be more aggressive in moving toward such job creating sustainable energy technologies as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass.

When we talk about the economy and jobs, we cannot forget about the need for real Wall Street reform. After all, it was the outrageous behavior of Wall Street which caused this recession in the first place. Incredibly, after we bailed out the behemoth banks that were “too big to fail,” three out of the four are now even bigger than before the financial crisis. Within the next several months I will be introducing legislation which would bring fundamental change to the Federal Reserve as well as the way that largest financial institutions in this country are run.

While we focus on job creation and the economy, we cannot forget about some of the most vulnerable people in our country – the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor. As chairman of the Defending Social Security Caucus, I intend to do all that I can to protect Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the needs of our veterans.

Last but not least, this country faces a major deficit as a result of two wars that were not paid for, tax breaks for the rich, and reduced revenue because of the recession. The deficit crisis must be resolved but in a way that is fair to the middle class. As part of any deficit-reduction package, the wealthiest people in this country, many of whom are doing phenomenally well, must be asked to pay their fair share of taxes. We must also do away with the hundreds of billions in corporate loopholes that currently exist, which enable many large and profitable corporations to pay little or nothing in federal taxes.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Sandi Thomas January 1, 2012 at 8:19 am

All that and Religeous discrimination too. I was told to remove my Nativity Scene. because it offended some people. Retailors display Seasons Greetings because Merry Christmas is offensive to some people. For centuries Christmas has been a celebration of the birth of Christ. Now it offends some people. And retailors defer to these people. Since providing financial support to retailers who kow tow to these people offensive to me. (and I am not very religeous), I propose the boycott of retailors who would turn Christmas into a secular (for profit only) holiday. Imagine if all Christians were to refrain from spending money in places where they are discriminated against. No Black Friday. No Christmas shopping. How long would it take for Merry Christmas be once again be acceptable. The sensitivities of those who are offended by the religeous aspect of Christmas Vs the economy. Who do you think would win?


avatar Goatskull January 1, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Retailers have always treated the holiday/Chrstma/quazakahmas what ever you want to call it. Do you really think ever cared about the meaning of any holiday? If so than you’re really one naive person.


avatar Reuben Ryder January 15, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Dear Mr. Sanders,
You are way out in front of us all. In oder to keep up, I would like to know what I could do to keep up and advance the directions that you are proposing. If there was just a single thing, what would that be? And please don’t say, send cash. I mean something that I can do personally that will make me proud and give me the sense that I am truly defending America. We need to change, become more creative, and to reject the same old solutions that solve nothing. There is a big election this year. What should be the agenda in real terms. I really don’t know if you are a Democrat or a Republican. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m an independent but you seem to have the people of this country at heart and you’re not afraid to say it. So, if there was one thing I could do to take the next step, what would that be?

One last thing: I guess I’m a little worried that the country is so fractured and people have separated so diametrically in to little camps that it will allow for an extreme administration to take hold in this country. As Mr. Obama moves over to the middle and Mr. Romney moves over to the right, each only to move in the opposite direction, when the election nears, my fear is that neither will actually have a plan to address the issues, and whomever we elect for Congress will be at the mercy of the Special Interests, who will have claimed to have put them there, whether it is true or false. We will then not have moved ahead, but we will be back where we started, or maybe worse depending on how much and from whom the money came. Maybe it’s just to start on Citizens United and correct that, since it seems so bad. Let’s here the specifics of what needs to be done. I’m with you totally, though, whatever.


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