WASHINGTON, June 27 - "The American people are angry," Sen. Bernie Sanders said in a major Senate floor speech today. They are angry that the middle class is collapsing because of the Wall Street-caused recession, they are angry that unemployment is sky high, that 50 million people lack health insurance, and that working families can't afford college for their kids. Meanwhile, the wealthy and the largest corporations are doing phenomenally well and now billionaires and their congressional friends want to balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor."
Sanders described an American economy which has more wealth and income inequality than at any time since the 1920s. Today, he said, "the wealthiest 400 individuals own more wealth than the bottom half of America - 150 million people. Today, the six heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune own more wealth than the bottom 30 percent. Today, the top one percent own 40 percent of all wealth, while the bottom sixty percent owns less than 2 percent. Incredibly, the bottom 40 percent of all Americans own just 0.3 percent of the wealth of the country."
Sanders listed a set of key priorities that includes creating jobs to repair America's crumbling infrastructure, providing health care for all Americans, strengthening Social Security, blocking cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, and making the wealthy and profitable corporations pay their fair share to reduce the deficit.
"Americans want an economy that works for the middle class and working families and not just for the rich," Sanders said. "They want everybody in this country to have health care as a right. They want to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. They want to move away from these gross inequalities in income and wealth," Sanders said.
People are furious, the senator added, that Congress provided a $700 billion Wall Street bailout while millions of hard working Americans lost their jobs, their homes and their life's savings as a result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street.
"The same politicians who were yelling and screaming about how important and how appropriate it was for our government to bail out the crooks on Wall Street, are nowhere to be heard when it comes to having government help average Americans," Sanders said.
The Supreme Court, Sanders said, has erected a major obstacle to achieving many of those objectives. Its disastrous 2010 ruling in Citizens United and Monday's decision in a case from Montana expanding that ruling has opened the floodgates for the super-rich and profitable corporations spend virtually unlimited sums to influence elections.
"If you're getting bored by just owning coal companies and casinos and manufacturing plants, you now have the opportunity to own the United States government," Sanders said. He cited the Koch brothers with their energy and manufacturing fortune and Las Vegas casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson as examples of wealthy individuals attempting to defeat candidates who are representing working families.