Although the economy has improved significantly since the Great Recession, and while corporate profits now exceed their pre-recession levels, far too many middle class and working families are still struggling just to get by. Despite huge advancements in worker productivity, millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages. The real median income of male workers is $783 less than it was 42 years ago, while for women workers it is $1,300 less than it was just nine years ago. There are more Americans living in poverty today than at any time in our history, and the middle class is slowly disappearing.
Moreover, more than half of all Americans have less than $10,000 in savings, and millions have no idea how they will ever retire in dignity. An unforeseen car accident, a medical emergency, or the loss of a job could send their lives into an economic tailspin.
Meanwhile, the vast majority of new income since the Great Recession has accrued to the top one tenth of one percent of the population. It is no wonder that America now has more wealth and income inequality than any major developed country on earth, and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is wider than at any time since the 1920s.
Sen. Sanders believes we must take bold action to put the economy back on track, and to address the obscene levels of wealth and income inequality in our country.
He has proposed putting millions of Americans back to work by rebuilding our nation's crumbling infrastructure and by bringing our electric, data and telecommunications networks into the 21st century. His Rebuild America Act would make a historic $1 trillion five-year investment to modernize the physical infrastructure that our businesses need to stay competitive in the global economy, and in the process, create 13 million new jobs we desperately need.
Sen. Sanders has also introduced several bills to promote energy efficiency and transition to sustainable sources of energy – which together will create millions of new jobs in the clean energy sector as we address the planetary crisis of climate change.
Sen. Sanders’ Employ Young Americans Now Act would address the tragedy of high youth unemployment by investing $5.5 billion in a youth jobs program to provide 1 million teenagers and young adults with job skills and to help them move up the economic ladder.
- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
Sen. Sanders believes that no full-time worker should be living in poverty, which is why he has introduced legislation to increase the federal wage in steps over the next several years until it reaches $15 an hour in 2020.
Sen. Sanders believes it is outrageous that women earn just 78 cents for every dollar a man earns, which is why he is a co-sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act to bring pay equity for women.
We must reverse decades of failed free trade policies like NAFTA, CAFTA, and “most favored nation” trading status with China that have driven down wages and caused the loss of millions of jobs. These unfettered free trade deals have been unrelentingly bad for American and foreign workers. If the U.S. is to remain a major industrial power – producing real products and creating good paying jobs – we must implement new trade policies that protect not just the profits of large corporations, but the jobs of working people in our country.
Sen. Sanders believes we must stop profitable Wall Street banks and corporations from sheltering profits in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens to avoid paying U.S. taxes. His Corporate Tax Dodging Prevention Act would make these corporations pay their fair share. He also believes that capital gains and dividends should be taxed at the same rate as other income.
As the Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, Sen. Sanders frequently discusses the collapse of the American middle class, noting: “The reality is that we have the hollowing out of the American economy.” Sen. Sanders feels that those individuals and profitable corporations who have benefitted from years of tax cuts and a laissez-faire approach to corporate regulation should be asked to bear much of the burden of digging us out of this hole.
On December 10, 2010, he spoke on the floor of the Senate for nearly eight hours, opposing the extension of Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy and linking the overly generous treatment of the wealthy with the disappearance of the middle class. You can read his “filibuster” in its entirety, here.