Senator Bernie Sanders Discusses Politics, Policies And Plans With The Washington Post

Jun 7, 2018

Last week, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders filed petitions in Vermont to run for his third term.  The independent began his political career in 1981 as mayor of Burlington, served 16 years in the U.S. House and has been in the national spotlight since running for president in 2016.  On Wednesday he appeared on the Daily 202 Live, a program produced by the Washington Post, to discuss policy and politics.

Senator Sanders spoke for nearly an hour with Washington Post national political correspondent James Hohmann on a number of topics and answered Twitter questions. Their initial conversation focused on this week’s primary results and the influence he and the organization that sprang from his presidential campaign — called Our Revolution – has had on politics.   “The most important thing and what we try very hard to do is bring millions of more people, young people, working people, into the political process. What my job is is to get Americans involved, get them out to vote, to run for office, to demand that we have an election system which reflects the needs of ordinary people rather than billionaire campaign contributors. And I think in that regard we’re having some success.”

Host James Hohmann noted that Sanders was born in Brooklyn and posed a question regarding New York’s gubernatorial race.  “The chairman of the DNC Tom Perez endorsed Andrew Cuomo, who’s locked in a pretty competitive primary with Cynthia Nixon. Our Revolution has endorsed Cynthia Nixon. Do you think that was a mistake for the chair of the DNC?”
Sanders:  “Absolutely.”
Hhmann:  “Does it make it harder to trust that you know progressive candidates in 2020 will get a fair shake when they’re leading into primaries like this?”
Sanders:  “Yup, it does. Look, there is massive discontent with the political system. When you have the head of the DNC, and I’ve worked OK with Perez on some areas, but to endorse one candidate over the other is not what the chair of the DNC should be doing. And then you’ve got other issues. In New York state, you know, we talk about voter suppression.  It’s not just money in politics. Go to New York state and find out that if you’re going to participate in the Democratic primary, you have got to be registered as a Democrat six months before that primary. And when I ran in 2016, three million people in New York state were ineligible to vote. Does that make any sense? No.”

Sanders was blunt as to why he thinks Majority Leader Republican Mitch McConnell has cancelled the Senate’s August recess.  “He is scared to death that Republicans, and he’s scared for good reason, that the Republicans might lose control over the Senate, he wants to keep Democrats in Washington rather than campaigning. I think that’s you know that’s pretty petty.  So, you know would I’d rather be back in Vermont than in Washington, D.C. in August? Hmmm, yeah!”

During policy discussion the issue of entitlements came up.  Sanders immediately noted that he “hated” that term and then renewed his vow to prevent cuts in Social Security and Medicare.  “Over my dead body it will happen. Trump’s budget: trillion-dollar cut in Medicaid, $500 billion in Medicare over a 10-year period.  In my state of Vermont, you’ve got elderly people who are  trying to get by on $12 or $13,000 a year Social Security. And to cut back on Social Security how vulgar, how obscene! Cut back on Social Security for people who make $13,000 a year and give tax breaks to billionaires.”

Hohmann said he had not planned to ask but since there were numerous Twitter questions about Sanders’ 2020 presidential plans he wondered when the Senator would decide.  Sanders, who turns 77 in September, responded he would decide whether he will run “at the appropriate time.”  “Number one, 2018, as I have said many times, is the most important midterm election in my lifetime and I’m going to do everything that I can to see that we end one party rule here in Washington where the Republicans, right-wing extremist Republicans control the Senate, the House, and the White House. And second of all, what I am going to do is bring more and more people into the political process.  And then I’m focusing on the important issues that need to be discussed.  Believe me, there will be more than enough candidates, I’m quite confident, running for president and at the appropriate time, I will make that decision as to whether I do it or not. Right now, I am going to be running for reelection to the U.S. Senate in Vermont.”

A link to the complete Washington Post Daily 202 with Senator Bernie Sanders is here:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/post-live-2018-daily-202-bernie-sanders/?utm_term=.3bfd91bb1272