“We need leadership in this country which will improve the lives of working families, the children, the elderly, the sick and the poor. We need leadership which brings our people together and makes us strong.”
Bernie Sanders is a U.S. senator from Vermont and candidate to become the next president of the United States. In 2006, he was elected to the U.S. Senate after 16 years as Vermont’s sole congressman in the House of Representatives. Bernie is now serving his third term in the U.S. Senate.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Bernie attended James Madison High School, Brooklyn College, and the University of Chicago. After graduating, he moved to Vermont where he worked as a carpenter and documentary filmmaker. In 1981, he was elected as mayor of Burlington, the state’s largest city, by a mere 10 votes. As mayor, Bernie’s leadership helped transform Burlington into one of the most exciting and livable small cities in America. Under his administration, the city made major strides in affordable housing, progressive taxation, environmental protection, child care, women’s rights, youth programs and the arts.
In Congress, Bernie has fought tirelessly for working families, focusing on the shrinking middle class and growing gap between the rich and everyone else. As chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Bernie worked across the aisle to “bridge Washington’s toxic partisan divide and cut one of the most significant deals in years.” In 2015, Democratic leadership tapped Bernie to serve as the caucus’ ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee.
Sander’s Policies, Plans & Commitments in His Own Words
Sanders has promised to take the following actions to address Americans’ concerns about affordable healthcare coverage, access to care, prescription drug costs and improvement of the current system.
I am running for president because the time is long overdue for the United States to join every other major country on Earth and guarantee healthcare to all people as a right, not a privilege, through a Medicare for All program. Healthcare is not a commodity. It is a human right. The goal of a rational healthcare system should be to keep people well, not to make stockholders rich.
- My Medicare for All program would provide comprehensive health coverage to all with no premiums, deductibles, copayments, or surprise bills. The plan would ensure that Americans can go to the doctor of their choice and get the care they need, when they need it, without going into debt.
- Under Medicare for All, we will stop the pharmaceutical industry from ripping off Americans by making sure that no one in America pays over $200 a year for the medicine they need by capping what Americans pay for prescription drugs.
- Medicare for all would also expand coverage to include home and community-based long-term care services, ensuring people with disabilities can receive the care they need to stay in their homes and remain part of their communities.
- Mental healthcare, under Medicare for All will be free at the time of service, with no co-payments that can be a barrier to treatment.
- Over four years we will transition to a system in which Medicare is expanded to cover everyone with no copays, deductibles or premiums.
Sanders said he would take the following steps to close the racial wealth gap and the pay gap for women and promote economic security for middle- and low-income Americans.
I will treat the racial wealth divide like the crisis it is. (I will) work to end the especially pernicious racial wealth divide that exists today in America within the gap between millionaires and the poor, working, and middle classes of all races. My administration will:
- Raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Raising the minimum wage will increase the wages of 38% of African-American workers and 33% of Latinx workers.
- Guarantee Equal Pay for Equal Work. Raising the minimum wage is not enough, Black students, particularly Black women, are saddled with more student debt than their white counterparts, and because of income disparities, take longer to pay it off while paying more interest. Canceling student debt would cut the racial wealth gap for young Americans by more than half– from 12:1 to 5:1.
- Guarantee housing for all, significantly expand sustainable homeownership in this country, and end the structural racism in our housing system.
- Create a commission to establish a financial relief program to the victims of predatory lending, mortgage fraud, redlining and those who are still underwater on their mortgages as a result of the 2008 crash, which will address the fact that Black Americans lost 40% of their wealth in the 2009 housing crisis and were directly targeted by predatory lenders.
- End the discriminatory practices in our financial services. We will allow every post office to offer basic and affordable banking services and end lending discrimination once and for all.
Criminal Justice Reform/Gun Violence/Judiciary
Sanders would address criminal justice reforms, including over-policing, sentencing reforms and help with full and productive reentry into society by pursuing the following policies.
Together, we will eliminate private prisons and detention centers. No more profiteering from locking people up. Together we will end the disastrous “war on drugs.” If we stand together we will end cash bail. No more keeping people in jail because they’re too poor. If we stand together we will enact real police department reform and prosecute police brutality. If we stand together, there is nothing, nothing, nothing that we cannot accomplish. My comprehensive plan will:
- End for-profit greed in our criminal justice system, including banning cash bail and banning civil asset forfeiture.
- End mass incarceration and set a goal of cutting the incarcerated population in half.
- Transform the way we police our communities, creating an unarmed civilian corp of first responders to handle mental health emergencies, homelessness and other low-level issues that should not require contact with the police and criminal justice system.
- End the War on Drugs, including legalizing marijuana and expunging past convictions for marijuana-related offenses and finally ending the sentencing disparities for crack cocaine and powder cocaine offenses.
- Enact a Prisoner Bill of Rights for incarcerated individuals, including living wages, access to families, access to educational and vocational training, and the right to vote.
- End the criminalization of communities, end cycles of violence and provide support to survivors of crime.
- Reverse the criminalization of disability, addiction and homelessness.
- Ensure our system treats children in the criminal justice system as children.
Sanders proposes to improve pre-K through 12 education and post-secondary education opportunities (including apprenticeships and trade training) through the following actions.
My administration will make transformative investments in our children, our teachers and our schools, and fundamentally rethink the unjust and inequitable funding of our public education system. We will:
- Combat racial discrimination by supporting community-driven strategies to desegregate schools.
- Ban for-profit charter schools and support the NAACP’s moratorium on public funds for charter school expansion.
- Provide equitable funding for schools by tripling Title I funding and establishing a national per-pupil spending floor.
- Provide at least 50% of the funding for IDEA (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).
- Set a starting salary for teachers at no less than $60,000, expand collective bargaining rights and teacher tenure, and fund out-of-pocket expenses for classroom materials.
- Expand access to summer and after-school programs, teen centers and tutoring.
- Provide year-round, universal, free school meals and incentivizes locally sourced food.
- Expand funding for sustainable community schools that provide a holistic approach to learning and the well-being of our young people.
- Rebuild and modernize our nation’s schools.
- Make schools safe and inclusive by protecting the rights of all students.
- Guarantee childcare and universal prekindergarten for every child in America.
- Guarantee everyone the right to quality higher education if they choose to pursue it through the College for All Plan, which will make public colleges, universities, trade schools, community colleges, tribal colleges, and apprenticeship programs free for all.
- Cancel all student debt.