SANDERS: Well, what Congress should do is move aggressively in listening not only to this report from the Trump administration but from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which tells us that climate change is already doing irreparable harm all over this planet. What Congress has got to do is take Trump on, take the fossil fuel industry on, and transform our energy system away from fossil fuel, to energy efficiency and sustainable energies like solar and wind.
Q: The report estimates knocking as much as 10% off the size of the U.S. economy by the end of this century because of related costs.
SANDERS: The debate is over about the reality of climate change and the incredible and costly harm it's going to do to this country. We are talking about hundreds of billions of dollars in damage that we're going to have to pay for.
SANDERS: You pick up on what I wrote in a Washington Post op-ed: back in 1994 Newt Gingrich--who I disagree with on everything--had a bold right wing agenda, and I think we should learn from that. This is what the American people want. And we should do it. Poll after poll shows that the American people understand that our current dysfunctional health care system needs fundamental change; that we have to deal with a broken criminal justice system; with immigration reform. The question is whether Congress has the guts to stand up to the big money interests who want more tax breaks for the rich, who want to cut Social Security. Or we stand up for the shrinking middle class and we demand legislation which represents the working families of this country.
SANDERS: I do. When we brought this up in March we ended up with 44 votes--only 5 Republicans. I think we now have a chance to get a majority of the Senate. I think people are looking at the horrific humanitarian disaster now taking place in Yemen. There was a recent report that over the last number of years some 75,000 children have died of starvation. This is a country dealing with cholera, with a terrible level of famine. This war was never authorized by the US Congress in violation of our constitution. And you got the Khashoggi incident which says that we have a Saudi government led by a despotic ruler who killed a political opponent in cold blood. Add that all together. I think the American people & Congress are now saying let us end our support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
SANDERS: Well, I happen to believe passionately that there really is not a blue state/red state division in this country. I think there is a lot of mythology attached to that. People believe that health care is a right. People believe we should raise the minimum wage to a living wage. People do not think, as Trump does, that we should give a trillion dollars in tax breaks to the top 1 percent, but in fact we have got to demand that the rich start paying their fair share of taxes. So, whether you are in Kansas or the Bronx or in Vermont, we have common interests and common aspirations. And we have got to fight for an America that works for all of us, not just the 1 percent.
SANDERS: It makes me think that either Trump doesn't understand what Russia has done--not only to our elections, but through cyber-attacks against all parts of our infrastructure--or perhaps he is being blackmailed by Russia, because they may have compromising information about him. Or maybe he admires the kind of government that Putin is running in Russia. We have got to make sure that Russia does not interfere, not only in our elections, but in other aspects of our lives.
Q: How do you protect yourselves in the next race against something like that happening?
SANDERS: We need a president who is going to do everything to work with statewide officials all over this country to make sure that, when people cast a vote, that vote is going to count. Congress has allocated money to strengthen the protection of our electoral system. The president has got to be aggressive in implementing that. The integrity of American democracy is at stake.
SANDERS: The issue goes well beyond that problem. Climate change is already devastating, and yet we have a president and a head of the EPA who do not even recognize reality of climate change. And over the last number of years we have made success against air pollution and against water pollution. We have made some success in transforming our energy system. And the idea to go back and listen to the short term needs of the coal industry or the oil industry makes no sense to me at all. Look, here is the truth. What the scientific community is telling us is that climate change is one of the great environmental crises facing this planet. And if we don't get a handle on that, we're going to leave a planet to our kids that is not healthy or habitable. We've got to address that. The Trump administration is moving in exactly the wrong direction.
SANDERS: Yes, they should. Look, Gaza, as I think everybody knows, is a humanitarian disaster. The unemployment rate there is beyond comprehension. And there is just enormous unrest. What the function of the United States government should be right now is to sit down with the Israelis, sit down with the Palestinians and figure out how we can rebuild Gaza.
Q: We should note, the Palestinian Authority did boycott a meeting at the White House recently to talk about rebuilding Gaza.
SANDERS: We should also to tell the Israelis that when you've got tens and tens of thousands of people protesting, they cannot overreact. And the idea of 15 or so people being killed and hundreds being wounded is, to me, unacceptable.
SANDERS: Well, we know nothing about Dr. Jackson's vision for the VA. But what concerns me is that, right now in Washington, we have a family called the Koch brothers--with a few of their other billionaire friends--their view has been we have got to privatize, privatize, and privatize. And Dr. Shulkin [the previous DVA chief], who Trump fired this week, said the reason for his firing is that he resisted privatization of the Veterans Administration. I work very closely with the major veterans organizations, and what they say is they want to strengthen the VA, not dismember it, not privatize it.
Q: Well, the White House says, at this time, they have no intent to privatize the VA.
SANDERS: They have been putting more money into the private sector with VA money. I do not believe them on that issue. I think they are listening to the Koch brothers. And I think that that is a very, very bad idea.
SANDERS: Yes, I think from a moral perspective it was the right thing to do. But it's a terrible and inefficient way to run a government.
Q: The President's biggest achievement so far is that tax cuts are gaining in popularity as some of these big companies hand out $1,000 bonuses. Do you think that the public should be pleased that workers are getting another $1,000 in their pockets?
SANDERS: Well, sure, everybody should be pleased when any worker gets a raise. But what we should also understand that that tax proposal will add $1.4 trillion dollars to the deficit and at the end of ten years 84% of the tax benefits will go to the top one percent. At a time of massive income and wealth inequality, billionaires and large multi-national corporations do not need tax breaks, it is the middle class and working families of this country who do.
SANDERS: The focus right now has got to be to do what the American people want us to do--80% of the American people understand that we have got to restore the legal status that Trump took away from 800,000 young DREAMers--people who came to this country when they are two or three years of age--and we cannot let them be put in a position where they're subjected to deportation. So the main focus to my mind has got to be to make sure that Dreamers have legal status and a path towards citizenship.
Q: What about a deal with a border wall?
SANDERS: The bad part comes is the idea of a wall, which I thought was a great idea in the 15th century when China built the Great Wall. Not so smart today when we have technology that is much more cost effective in terms of protecting the border.
The above quotations are from CBS "Face the Nation" interviews during 2018|
(John Dickerson & Margaret Brennan interviewing candidates for 2018-20 races).
Click here for other excerpts from CBS "Face the Nation" interviews during 2018
(John Dickerson & Margaret Brennan interviewing candidates for 2018-20 races).
Click here for other excerpts by Bernie Sanders.
Click here for a profile of Bernie Sanders.
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