Bernie Sanders Opening Statement to the Senate Budget Committee

Bernie Sanders Opening Statement
to the Senate Budget Committee:
April 5, 2022

Have you heard the words below on the mainstream media? If not, why not? Bernie Sanders, still the most popular politician in the United States, is calling the United States “an oligarchy”. While millions of workers are getting paid starvation wages, over the last 45 years there has been a huge transfer of wealth, to the tune of $50 trillion dollars, from the bottom 90% of Americans workers to the top 1%. The 1% use a little bit of their wealth to control the government through their donations to politicians which is essentially bribery and corruption. The 1% also have a control over much of the news media: newspapers, TV, radio, and web traffic. One tragic result of this is that we still have not guaranteed health care for all resulting in the death of 60,000 Americans who cannot afford to go to a doctor when they need to. Nor do we have free higher education as far as you can go and free apprenticeships, which all other rich democracies have.

“Today in America, while the very rich are getting richer, over half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck. Millions of workers are trying to get by on $8, $9, or 10 bucks an hour, which, in my view, is a starvation wage. 

“Today in America, income and wealth inequality is at its highest level in over 100 years. The two richest men in America now own more wealth than the bottom 42 percent – over 130 million Americans.

“During this terrible pandemic, when thousands of essential workers died doing their jobs, over 700 billionaires in America became nearly $2 trillion richer.

“While we hear a lot of talk about the need to take on the oligarchs in Russia – something I strongly support – anyone who thinks we don’t have an oligarchy right here in our country is sorely mistaken.

“Today in America, multi-billionaires like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson are off taking joy rides on rocket ships to outer space, buying $500 million super-yachts 

“In his budget, the President has proposed a 20% minimum tax on those who are worth at least $100 million. That is a step forward. I would go further.

“In 2020, I introduced a 60% tax on the obscene wealth gains billionaires made during the pandemic – legislation I will soon be re-introducing, and which is enormously popular.

“Now, I understand that some of my colleagues believe this is a terrible idea because it would redistribute wealth. But the reality is that over the last 45 years there has been a massive redistribution of wealth in America. The problem is that it has gone in the wrong direction.

“According to the RAND Institute, since 1975, $50 trillion in wealth has been redistributed from the bottom 90% to the top 1% – primarily because corporate profits and CEO compensation has grown much faster than the wages of average workers.

“But it’s not just income and wealth inequality. It is economic and political power. As we discussed at a hearing in this committee last month, three Wall Street firms control assets of over $21 trillion which is basically the GDP of the United States, the largest economy on Earth. Three Wall Street firms.”

“In terms of health care, over 72 million Americans today are either uninsured or under-insured while more than 60,000 Americans die each and every year because they cannot afford to go to a doctor when they need to.

“We remain the only major country on Earth not to guarantee health care to all people, and yet we pay the highest prices in the world for health care.”