Friday, January 22, 2016

Bernie Sanders: abortion

From the Bernie Sanders campaign:

The Supreme Court guaranteed a woman's right to choose in the Roe v. Wade decision 43 years ago today. This was a tremendous step to protect women's health and to affirm their control of their own bodies.

Unfortunately, since the Roe v. Wade decision, extreme right-wing politicians in states have made it more and more difficult for women to actually access abortion care, aided in many cases by the federal Hyde Amendment and other anti-abortion policies. Nearly a quarter of these restrictions have come in the last five years. This is unacceptable.

The extreme right-wing works tirelessly to make it more difficult for women to access reproductive health care. Republicans in office work to shut down clinics while extremists terrorize health care providers and their patients. Making women travel hundreds of miles, wait weeks for an appointment and face harassment at the clinic door is a national disgrace.

So today, on the anniversary of this important Supreme Court decision, we must affirm not only the right to have an abortion, but we must protect the right to access a doctor or clinic who can perform that procedure.

Add your name to mine if you agree we must expand access to reproductive health care and protect Roe v. Wade.

We are not going back to the days when women had to risk their lives to end an unwanted pregnancy. The decision about abortion must remain a decision for a woman and her doctor to make, not the government.

We are not going to allow the extreme right-wing to defund Planned Parenthood, we are going to expand it. Planned Parenthood provides vital healthcare services for millions of people, who rely on its clinics every year for affordable, quality health care services including cancer prevention, STI and HIV testing and general primary health care services. The current attempt to malign Planned Parenthood is part of a long-term smear campaign by people who want to deny women in this country the right to control their own bodies.

We are not going back to the days when women did not have full access to birth control. Incredibly, almost all of the Republicans in Congress are in favor of giving any employer who provides health insurance, or any insurance company, the ability to deny coverage for contraception or any other kind of procedure if the employer had a “moral” objection to it. That is unacceptable.

Under my administration, we will protect and expand the fundamental rights of women to control their own bodies. I promise to only nominate Supreme Court Justices who support Roe v. Wade. Our Medicare-for-all plan would cover reproductive health care, including abortion, because all health care is a right, not a privilege. And I would work to repeal the federal Hyde Amendment, which currently restricts the federal government from spending any money on abortion care. That is wrong, and it will be abolished when I am president.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Bernie Sanders: gun violence

From the Bernie Sanders campaign:

Here is the very sad truth: it is very difficult for the American people to keep up with the mass shootings we seem to see every day in the news. Yesterday, San Bernardino. Last week, Colorado Springs. Last month, Colorado Springs again. Newtown, Aurora, Tucson, Isla Vista, Virginia Tech, Navy Yard, Roseburg, and far too many others.

The crisis of gun violence has reached epidemic levels in this country to the point that we are averaging more than one mass shooting per day. Now, I am going to tell you something that most candidates wouldn’t say: I am not sure there is a magical answer to how we end gun violence in America. But I do know that while thoughts and prayers are important, they are insufficient and it is long past time for action.

That’s why I want to talk to you today about a few concrete actions we should take as a country that will save lives.
  1. We can expand background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill. This is an idea that over 80% of Americans agree with, even a majority of gun owners.
  1. & 3. We can renew the assault weapons ban and end the sale of high capacity magazines — military-style tools created for the purpose of killing people as efficiently as possible.
  1. Since 2004, over 2,000 people on the FBI’s terrorist watch list have legally purchased guns in the United States. Let’s close the “terror gap” and make sure known foreign and domestic terrorists are included on prohibited purchaser lists.
  1. We can close loopholes in our laws that allow perpetrators of stalking and dating violence to buy guns. In the United States, the intended targets of a majority of our mass shootings are intimate partners or family members, and over 60% of victims are women and children. Indeed, a woman is five times more likely to die in a domestic violence incident when a gun is present.
  1. We should close the loophole that allows prohibited purchasers to buy a gun without a completed background check after a three-day waiting period expires. Earlier this year, Dylann Roof shot and killed nine of our fellow Americans while they prayed in a historic church, simply because of the color of their skin. This act of terror was possible because of loopholes in our background check laws. Congress should act to ensure the standard for ALL gun purchases is a completed background check. No check — no sale.
  1. It’s time to pass federal gun trafficking laws. I support Kirsten Gillibrand’s Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking & Crime Prevention Act of 2015, which would “make gun trafficking a federal crime and provide tools to law enforcement to get illegal guns off the streets and away from criminal networks and street gangs.”
  1. It’s time to strengthen penalties for straw purchasers who buy guns from licensed dealers on behalf of a prohibited purchaser.
  1. We must authorize resources for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study and research the causes and effects of gun violence in the United States of America.
  1. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are over 21,000 firearm suicides every year in the United States. It’s time we expand and improve our mental health capabilities in this country so that people who need care can get care when they need it, regardless of their level of income.
Add your name in support of these commonsense measures Congress can take to make our communities safer from gun violence.

Earlier today [Dec. 3, 2015], the U.S. Senate voted against non-binding legislation to expand background checks, close the “terror gap,” and improve our mental health systems. I voted for all three, although each of them came up short.

They failed for the same reason the bipartisan Manchin-Toomey legislation failed in 2013, just months after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School: because of the financial political power of a gun lobby that has bought candidates and elections for the better part of the last several decades.

In 2014 alone, the gun lobby spent over $30 million on political advertising and lobbying to influence legislators in Congress and state capitals across the country. And just last month, it was reported that the Koch brothers made a $5 million contribution to the NRA.

Americans of all political stripes agree. It's time to address the all too common scene of our neighbors being killed. It's time to pass a common sense package of gun safety legislation.

With your help, that's what we’ll do when I’m president.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Bernie Sanders: Wall Street

From the Bernie Sanders campaign:


[complete speech as prepared]

Greed, fraud, dishonesty, and arrogance: these are the words that best describe the reality of Wall Street today.

We can no longer tolerate an economy and a political system that have been rigged by Wall Street to benefit the wealthiest Americans in this country at the expense of everyone else. While President Obama deserves credit for getting this economy back on track after the Wall Street crash, the reality is there is a lot of unfinished business.

That's why today in New York City I announced my plan for taking on Wall Street. We must break up the banks, end their casino-style gambling, and fundamentally change the approach of the financial industry to focus on helping the American people.

When I am president, we will reform Wall Street and our financial system to make it work for all Americans. I want to tell you about what I will do, then ask you to add your name to endorse our plan.

Add Your Name

To those on Wall Street, let me be very clear. Greed is not good. In fact, the greed of Wall Street and corporate America is destroying the fabric of our nation. And here is a promise I will make as president: If Wall Street does not end its greed, we will end it for them.

As most people know, in the 1990s and later, financial interests spent billions of dollars in lobbying and campaign contributions to force through Congress the deregulation of Wall Street, the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, and the weakening of consumer protection laws.

They paid this money to show the American people all that they could do with that freedom. Well, they sure showed the American people. In 2008, the greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior on Wall Street nearly destroyed the U.S. and global economy. Millions of Americans lost their jobs, their homes, and their life savings.

Meanwhile, the American middle class continues to disappear, poverty is increasing, and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is growing wider and wider by the day. But the American people are catching on. They also know that a handful of people on Wall Street have extraordinary power over the economic and political life of our country.

We must act now to change that. Our goal must be to create a financial system and an economy that works for all Americans, not just a handful of billionaires.

There are eight points to my plan, and I want to go through each of them here because I think it's important for our campaign to discuss specific policies with our supporters. Some of this may seem a little in the weeds, but I trust our supporters to be able to handle this kind of policy discussion.

Here's my plan for what I will do with Wall Street when I am president:
  1. Break up huge financial institutions in the first year of my administration. Within the first 100 days of my administration, I will require the Secretary of the Treasury to establish a “Too Big to Fail” list of commercial banks, shadow banks, and insurance companies whose failure would pose a catastrophic risk to the U.S. economy without a taxpayer bailout. Within one year, my administration will break these institutions up so that they no longer pose a grave threat to the economy.
  1. Reinstate a 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act to clearly separate traditional banking from risky investment banking and insurance services. It is not enough to tell Wall Street to "cut it out," propose a few new rules and slap on some fines. Under my administration, financial institutions will no longer be too big to fail or too big to manage. Wall Street cannot continue to be an island unto itself, gambling trillions in risky financial instruments. If an institution is too big to fail, it is too big to exist.
  1. End too-big-to-jail. We live in a country today that has an economy that is rigged, a campaign finance system which is corrupt, and a criminal justice system which often does not dispense justice. The average American sees kids being arrested and sometimes even jailed for possessing marijuana. But when it comes to Wall Street executives — some of the most wealthy and powerful people in this country whose illegal behavior hurt millions of Americans — somehow nothing happens to them. No jail time. No police record. No justice.

    Not one major Wall Street executive has been prosecuted for causing the near collapse of our entire economy. That will change under my administration. “Equal Justice Under Law” will not just be words engraved on the entrance of the Supreme Court. It will be the standard that applies to Wall Street and all Americans.
  1. Establish a tax on Wall Street to discourage reckless gambling and encourage productive investments in the job-creating economy. We will use the revenue from this tax to make public colleges and universities tuition free. During the financial crisis, the middle class of this country bailed out Wall Street. Now, it’s Wall Street’s turn to help the middle class.
  1. Cap Credit Card Interest Rates and ATM Fees. We have got to stop financial institutions from ripping off the American people by charging sky-high interest rates and outrageous fees. In my view, it is unacceptable that Americans are paying a $4 or $5 fee each time they go to the ATM. And it is unacceptable that millions of Americans are paying credit card interest rates of 20 or 30 percent.

    The Bible has a term for this practice. It's called usury. And in The Divine Comedy, Dante reserved a special place in the Seventh Circle of Hell for sinners who charged people usurious interest rates. Today, we don't need the hellfire and the pitchforks, we don't need the rivers of boiling blood, but we do need a national usury law.

    We need to cap interest rates on credit cards and consumer loans at 15 percent. I would also cap ATM fees at $2.
  1. Allow Post Offices to Offer Banking Services. We also need to give Americans affordable banking options. The reality is that, unbelievably, millions of low-income Americans live in communities where there are no normal banking services. Today, if you live in a low-income community and you need to cash a check or get a loan to pay for a car repair or a medical emergency, where do you go? You go to a payday lender who could charge an interest rate of over 300 percent and trap you into a vicious cycle of debt. That is unacceptable.

    We need to stop payday lenders from ripping off millions of Americans. Post offices exist in almost every community in our country. One important way to provide decent banking opportunities for low-income communities is to allow the U.S. Postal Service to engage in basic banking services, and that's what I will fight for.
  1. Reform Credit Rating Agencies. We cannot have a safe and sound financial system if we cannot trust the credit agencies to accurately rate financial products. The only way we can restore that trust is to make sure credit rating agencies cannot make a profit from Wall Street. Under my administration, we will turn for-profit credit rating agencies into non-profit institutions, independent from Wall Street. No longer will Wall Street be able to pick and choose which credit agency will rate their products.
  1. Reform the Federal Reserve. We need to structurally reform the Federal Reserve to make it a more democratic institution responsive to the needs of ordinary Americans, not just the billionaires on Wall Street. It is unacceptable that the Federal Reserve has been hijacked by the very bankers it is in charge of regulating. When Wall Street was on the verge of collapse, the Federal Reserve acted with a fierce sense of urgency to save the financial system. We need the Fed to act with the same boldness to combat the unemployment crisis and fulfill its full employment mandate.
So my message to you is straightforward: I’ll rein in Wall Street's reckless behavior so they can’t crash our economy again.

Will Wall Street like me? No. Will they begin to play by the rules if I’m president? You better believe it.