Millionaires and billionaires are pouring unbelievable sums of money into the political process in order to fund super PACs and to elect candidates who represent their interests, not the interests of working people. What this campaign is about is whether we can mobilize our people to take back our government from a handful of billionaires and create the vibrant democracy we know we can and should have.
It is immoral and wrong that the top 1/10 of 1% in this country own almost 90 percent--almost--own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. That it is wrong, today, in a rigged economy, that 57% of all new income is going to the top 1%.
A: Black lives matter. The African American community knows that on any given day some innocent person like Sandra Bland can get into a car, and three days later she's dead in jail. We need to combat institutional racism from top to bottom, and we need major reforms in a broken criminal justice system. I intend to make sure people have education and jobs rather than jail cells.
SANDERS: Every other major country providing health care to all people as a right, except the United States. You see every other major country saying we are going to have medical and family paid leave. I think we should look to countries like Denmark and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people. Do I consider myself part of the casino capitalist process by which so few have so much and so many have so little by which Wall Street's greed and recklessness wrecked this economy? No, I don't. I believe in a society where all people do well. Not just a handful of billionaires.
CLINTON: What Senator Sanders is saying certainly makes sense in the terms of the inequality that we have. But we are not Denmark. We are the United States of America.
A: I would vote yes because I am seeing too many lives being destroyed for non-violent offenses. We have a criminal justice system that lets CEOs on Wall Street walk away, and yet we are imprisoning young people who are smoking marijuana. I think we have to think through this war on drugs which has done an enormous amount of damage.
CHAFEE: It's certainly the chaos in the Middle East. And it all started with the Iraq invasion.
O'MALLEY: I believe that nuclear Iran remains the biggest threat, along with the threat of ISIL; climate change, of course, makes cascading threats.
CLINTON: I think it has to be continued threat from the spread of nuclear material that can fall into the wrong hands.
WEBB: Our greatest long-term strategic challenge is our relation with China.
Q: Senator Sanders, greatest national security threat?
SANDERS: The scientific community is telling us that if we do not address the global crisis of climate change, transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to sustainable energy, the planet that we're going to be leaving our kids and our grandchildren may well not be habitable. That is a major crisis.
CLINTON: I know we can afford it, because we're going to make the wealthy pay for it. That is the way to get it done.
SANDERS: Here's the point: Every other major country on Earth, every one, including some small countries, say that when a mother has a baby, she should stay home with that baby. We are the only major country. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. That's not what the American people want.
CLINTON: We have an opportunity here--and inside the administration this is being hotly debated--to get that leverage to try to get the Russians to have to deal with everybody in the region and begin to move toward a political, diplomatic solution in Syria.
Q [to Sanders]: Putin in Syria?
SANDERS: I think Mr. Putin is going to regret what he is doing.
Q: He doesn't seem to be the type of guy to regret a lot.
SANDERS: I think he's already regretting what he did in Crimea and what he is doing in the Ukraine. I think he is really regretting the decline of his economy. And I think what he is trying to do now is save some face. But I think when Russians get killed in Syria and when he gets bogged down, I think the Russian people are going to give him a message that maybe they should come home, maybe they should start working with the United States to rectify the situation now.
SANDERS: Of course not. This was a large and complicated bill. There were provisions in it that I think made sense. For example, do I think that a gun shop in the state of Vermont that sells legally a gun to somebody, and that somebody goes out and does something crazy, that that gun shop owner should be held responsible? I don't. On the other hand, where you have manufacturers and where you have gun shops knowingly giving guns to criminals or aiding and abetting that, of course we should take action.
CLINTON: Senator Sanders did vote for this immunity provision. I voted against it. I was in the Senate at the same time. It wasn't that complicated to me. It was pretty straightforward that he was going to give immunity to the only industry in America. Everybody else has to be accountable, but not the gun manufacturers.
SANDERS: Let's begin by understanding that Bernie Sanders has a D-minus voting rating from the NRA. Back in 1988, when I first ran for Congress, I supported a ban on assault weapons. And over the years, I have strongly supported instant background checks, doing away with this terrible gun show loophole. And I think we've got to move aggressively at the do away with this gun show loophole, that we have to address the issue of mental health, that we have to deal with the straw-man purchasing issue, and that when we develop that consensus, we can finally, finally do something to address this issue.
O'MALLEY: Have you ever been to the Eastern Shore? Have you ever been to Western Maryland? We were able to pass this and still respect the hunting traditions of people who live in our rural areas. We did it by leading with principle, not by pandering to the NRA.
WEBB: As long as they go through the legal process that our country requires, I respect that.
Q [to SANDERS]: Tell an American soldier why you can be commander-in- chief given that you applied for conscientious objector status.
SANDERS: When I was a young man, I strongly opposed the war in Vietnam. Not the brave men like Jim who fought in that war, but the policy which got us involved in that war. That was my view then. I am not a pacifist. I supported the war in Afghanistan. I supported President Clinton's effort to deal with ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. I support air strikes in Syria and what the president is trying to do. Yes, I happen to believe from the bottom of my heart that war should be the last resort that we have got to exercise diplomacy. But yes, I am prepared to take this country into war if that is necessary.
SANDERS: Absolutely. Of course.
Q: You would, point blank.
SANDERS: Well, what exists right now is that virtually every telephone call in this country ends up in a file at the NSA. That is unacceptable to me. But it's not just government surveillance. I think the government is involved in our e-mails; is involved in our websites. Corporate America is doing it as well. If we are a free country, we have the right to be free. Yes, we have to defend ourselves against terrorism, but there are ways to do that without impinging on our constitutional rights and our privacy rights.
CHAFEE: The courts have ruled that what he did was say the American government was acting illegally.
CLINTON: He broke the laws of the United States.
O'MALLEY: Snowden put a lot of Americans' lives at risk.
Q: Senator Sanders, on Edward Snowden?
SANDERS: I think Snowden played a very important role in educating the American people to the degree in which our civil liberties and our constitutional rights are being undermined.
Q: Is he a hero?
SANDERS: He did break the law, and I think there should be a penalty to that. But I think what he did in educating us should be taken into consideration before he is [sentenced].
CHAFEE: No, that was a 99-to-1 vote for the PATRIOT Act, and it was seen as modernizing our ability to tap phones which always required a warrant.
Q: Do you regret that vote?
CHAFEE: As long as you're getting a warrant, I believe that under the Fourth Amendment, you should be able to do surveillance. And in the Patriot Act, section 215 started to get broadened too far. So I would be in favor of addressing and reforming section 215 of the Patriot Act.
Q: Secretary Clinton?
CLINTON: No, I don't. I think that it was necessary to make sure that we were able after 9/11 to put in place the security that we needed.
SANDERS: It was 99 to one and I was maybe the one. [Note: See related FactCheck--he was not the one!]
A: I voted against that piece of legislation because it had guest-worker provisions in it which the Southern Poverty Law Center talked about being semi-slavery. Guest workers are coming in, they're working under terrible conditions, but if they stand up for their rights, they're thrown out of the country. I was not the only progressive to vote against that legislation for that reason.
SANDERS: Let's remember where we were when Bush left office. We were losing 800,000 jobs a month. My Republican friends seem to have some amnesia on this issue. Are we better off today than we were then? Absolutely. But the truth is that for the last 40 years, the great middle class of this country has been disappearing. And in my view what we need to do is create millions of jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure; raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour; pay equity for women workers; and our disastrous trade policies, which have cost us millions of jobs; and make every public college and university in this country tuition free.
SANDERS: I believe that the power of corporate America, the power of Wall Street, the power of the drug companies, the power of the corporate media is so great that the only way we really transform America and do the things that the middle class and working class desperately need is through a political revolution when millions of people begin to come together and stand up and say: Our government is going to work for all of us, not just a handful of billionaires.
WEBB: I got a great deal of admiration and affection for Senator Sanders, but Bernie, I don't think the revolution's going to come.
Q: What do you mean by "revolution"?
SANDERS: What I mean is that we need to have one of the larger voter turnouts in the world, not one of the lowest. We need to raise public consciousness. We need the American people to know what's going on in Washington in a way that today they do not know.
CLINTON: I fully support Social Security, and will defend it against continuing Republican efforts to privatize it.
Q: Do you want to expand it?
CLINTON: I want to enhance the benefits for the poorest recipients of Social Security.
SANDERS: When the Republicans in the Congress and some Democrats were talking about cutting Social Security and benefits for disabled veterans, for the so-called chained CPI, I q founded a caucus called the Defending Social Security Caucus. When you have millions of seniors in this country trying to get by--and I don't know how they do on $13,000 a year--you don't cut Social Security, you expand it. And the way you expand it is by lifting the cap on taxable incomes so that you do away with the absurdity of a millionaire paying the same amount into the system as somebody making $118,000. You do that, Social Security is solvent until 2061 and you can expand benefits.
CLINTON: I applaud the administration because they are engaged in talks right now with the Russians to make it clear that they've got to be part of the solution to try to end that bloody conflict. And, to provide safe zones so that people are not going to have to be flooding out of Syria at the rate they are.
SANDERS: Well, let's understand that when we talk about Syria, you're talking about a quagmire in a quagmire. You're talking about groups of people trying to overthrow Assad, other groups of people fighting ISIS. You're talking about people who are fighting ISIS using their guns to overthrow Assad, and vice versa. I will do everything that I can to make sure that the U.S. does not get involved in another quagmire like we did in Iraq, the worst foreign policy blunder in the history of this country. We should be putting together a coalition of Arab countries who should be leading the effort. We should be supportive, but I do not support American ground troops in Syria.
The above quotations are from CNN Democratic primary debate|
Five candidates in Las Vegas, October 13, 2015.
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