Bernie Sanders can say ‘I don’t know.’7/8/2015
Bernie Sanders is drawing big crowds as the little guy fighting big things.
Big money. Big banks. The democratic socialist senator from Vermont wants to “break up” those banks, and calls for the like-minded to sign a petition on presidential campaign website.
So does he think Iowa farms are getting too big?
“Good question, I just don’t know,” Sanders told Cityview Friday. “I’m not a great fan of factory farming, I should tell you that.”
Sanders, now in a second term as an independent in the U.S. Senate, spoke with Cityview, the Denison Bulletin and La Prensa Iowa Hispanic Newspaper before marching in Denison’s Independence Day celebration Friday afternoon. More than 50 enthusiastic supporters, many of them with Sanders signs, and even more with cell phone cameras poised for selfie poses with the Oval Office aspirant, joined Sanders in the staging area before the parade in the Crawford County seat’s downtown.
Iowa State University Political Science Professor Steffen Schmidt said Sanders’ “don’t know” response on the size-of-farm query is hardly surprising. It’s the sort of candor that makes Sanders, 73, so popular, Schmidt said.
“When he doesn’t know something, he says, ‘I don’t know,’ ” Schmidt said. “Isn’t that better than if he came up with some BS?”
Sanders won’t pander, tell people what they want to hear, Schmidt said, adding that he talks about issues at the national level rather than just checking the traditional Iowa boxes.
“He doesn’t care about Iowa specifically,” Schmidt said. “He cares about big-picture things.”
Sanders argues that income inequality is a defining issue, that a system that allows one family, the Waltons of Walmart, to hold more wealth than the bottom 42 percent of all Americans combined is devastating the middle-class ethos.
“My experience so far in Iowa has been that the people of this state, as well as the people of this country, want very fundamental changes in economics and politics,” Sanders said. “They’re tired of working longer hours for lower wages. They’re tired of seeing the overwhelming majority of money in this country going to the top 1 percent. They’re tired of seeing their jobs go to China and other low-wage countries.”
The American political system, Sanders said, is controlled by billionaires who are “buying elections.”
“I think those issues are resonating in Iowa,” Sanders said.
The senator supports comprehensive immigration reform to bring what he said are 11 million undocumented residents out of a shadow economy.
“They deserve a path to citizenship, and I believe that very strongly,” Sanders said.
Latinos and African Americans are often at the bottom of the line when it comes to decent-paying jobs, Sanders said.
Sanders has pulled large crowds in his upstart challenge to Democratic White House front-runner Hillary Clinton with a consistently robust attack on income inequality and the reeling off of a progressive laundry list to close the disparity.
“What we can do for business growth is end corporate welfare,” Sanders said. “Right now, we waste billions of dollars in my view in providing tax breaks for large corporations, many of whom stash their money in the Cayman Islands. Many of them are busy outsourcing American jobs.”
Sanders supports increasing the minimum wage over a period of years to $15 hour, from the current $7.25. He said the minimum wage should apply throughout the nation, not be scaled based on geography, where it would be different in Denison than Seattle, Washington.
“I think that’s national legislation that should be implemented all over this country,” Sanders said.
“The fact of the matter is people can’t make it on $7.25 an hour. That’s just a simple fact. That’s a starvation wage.”
At $7.25 an hour, workers can’t accumulate disposable income to spin back into the economy for goods and services, Sanders said. CV
The Bernie Sanders Brief
• A democratic socialist running for the Democratic nomination for president.
• Supports free tuition at public college and universities. Sanders would fund this with a “Robin Hood” tax on certain Wall Street transactions.
• Wants to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour nationally.
• Served as a U.S. congressman from Vermont (1991-2007), and mayor of the state’s largest city, Burlington (1981-1989), before being elected to the Senate in 2006.
• Lives in Burlington, Vermont, with his wife Jane. He has four children and seven grandchildren.
• Age 73.
• Born in Brooklyn, New York. CV
Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa newspaperman who resides in Carroll. He and his family own and publish newspapers in Carroll, Jefferson and other neighboring communities.