Bernie Sanders Is Embracing Socialism in His 2020 Presidential Bid

June 18, 2019 by TWN Staff

Candidate: Bernie Sanders

State of Residence: Vermont

Campaign Website: https://berniesanders.com

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) delivers remarks at a campaign function in the Marvin Center at George Washington University on Wednesday, June 12, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Sanders discussed democratic socialism in his address. (Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images/TNS)

Short Bio: Bernie Sanders is serving his third term in the U.S. Senate after winning re-election in 2018. His previous 16 years in the House of Representatives make him the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history. Born in 1941 in Brooklyn, Sanders attended James Madison High School, Brooklyn College and the University of Chicago. After graduating in 1964, he moved to Vermont. In 1981, he was elected (by 10 votes) to the first of four terms as mayor of Burlington. Sanders lectured at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and at Hamilton College in upstate New York before his 1990 election as Vermont’s at-large member in Congress. The Almanac of American Politics calls Sanders a “practical and successful legislator.”

Throughout his career he has focused on the shrinking American middle class and the growing income and wealth gaps in the United States. As chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Sanders in 2014 passed legislation reforming the VA health care system. Congressional Quarterly said he was able “to bridge Washington’s toxic partisan divide and cut one of the most significant deals in years.” Today, Sanders remains on the veterans committee and was tapped by Senate leadership to be the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee. He also serves on the Environment and Public Works Committee, where he has focused on global warming and rebuilding our nation’s crumbling infrastructure.

He is a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where he has championed efforts to transform our energy system from fossil fuels to renewable power sources like solar and wind. He also sits on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, where he has fought for greater access to affordable health care and improved education programs from pre-K to college. [Official Senate Bio]

Fun Fact: Bernie Sanders is the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history. [CNN]

On the Issues

Health Care: Launch universal, government-provided health care. Sanders proposes a government-run health care system for all Americans. He was the lead Senate sponsor of the 2017 “Medicare For All” bill, which would launch universal health care and end employer-provided health insurance.

Sanders’ team in the past has estimated the plan will cost $1.38 trillion a year. Others estimate the program would cost more than twice that amount. Sanders would fund the plan through multiple sources: a 6.2 percent charge on employers, a 2.2 percent fee on most families, increased marginal tax rates for incomes $250,000 and higher, increased taxes on capital gains, and a larger estate tax for the wealthiest. Under the plan, the top individual income tax rate would be 52 percent. [PBS]

Trade & Agriculture: Sanders rolled out a proposal to help revitalize rural farming communities and break up big agriculture corporations. The comprehensive plan would enact “Roosevelt style trust-busting laws,” address climate change and propose job training and education for farmers. [Axios]

“I think we do need new trade policies that are fair to the working people of this country not just to the CEOs, but as usual, I think Trump gets it wrong in terms of implementation,” Sanders told the NewsHour’s anchor and managing editor Judy Woodruff in an interview.

Sanders, who has opposed many of the same trade deals Trump has, including the Trans Pacific Partnership and the North American Free Trade Agreement, said his policies are aimed at stopping companies from sending jobs overseas. [PBS]

Jobs/Economy/Taxes: Sanders has long said he supports raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. He recently proposed hiking estate taxes for millionaires and billionaires, including a top rate of 77% for estates over $1 billion. [Axios]

Sanders co-sponsored a bill in April 2017 that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15. In September 2018, he introduced the Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies (Stop BEZOS) Act, which would tax companies for public benefits their workers accessed. [Axios]

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