A New Year

The year 2008 is one which saw a much-needed change in leadership in Washington but also an economic crisis felt in households across the country. Middle class families knew long ago that this economic emergency was taking place, but Wall Street and Washington only woke up to it when the financial institutions themselves began faltering. Last spring, Sen. Bernie Sanders was talking about the collapse of the American middle class - well before Lehman brothers fell. Sanders heard in his numero

The year 2008 is one which saw a much-needed change in leadership in Washington but also an economic crisis felt in households across the country. Middle class families knew long ago that this economic emergency was taking place, but Wall Street and Washington only woke up to it when the financial institutions themselves began faltering. Last spring, Sen. Bernie Sanders was talking about the collapse of the American middle class - well before Lehman brothers fell. Sanders heard in his numerous town meetings about the hardships faced every day by so many Americans which he compiled in his "Collapse of the Middle Class" booklet. The Nation wrote, "When just about everyone else in the Capitol was absorbed with the presidential race last fall, the independent senator from Vermont recognized that the biggest story of 2008 was not the election - it was the collapse of the economic house of cards…"

Sanders traveled to Florida to tour the working conditions faced by tomato pickers and has fought ever since for the small but significant gains made by theses workers as major corporations from Burger King to Whole Foods Markets agreed to pay the workers a penny-per-pound more. Sanders voted against the bailout for Wall Street and has continued to fight to halt the second tranche of the $700 billion payout. He strongly supported a remarkable veterans' outreach program in Vermont and the new GI Bill that will provide expanded education benefits for a new generation of veterans. Sanders worked with the rest of the Vermont delegation to double funding for the crucial home energy assistance program. Additionally, the senator continues to work toward expansion of the highly efficient and highly effective community health center program.

Looking towards 2009 with a new Congress and new administration, Sanders called for a major economic recovery program which invests at least $400 billion in each of the next two years to create millions of good-paying jobs; an investigation as to how the greed and recklessness of Wall Street financiers caused the greatest financial collapse since the 1920s; and, legislation to provide health care to every man, woman and child as a right of citizenship. "In my view, the next few months will be a pivotal moment in the history of the United States and for much of the world," said Sanders recently. "How do we finally ensure the U.S. government begins representing the needs of ordinary Americans, and not just the greedy, the wealthy and the powerful?"


To read The Nation's piece, click here.

To read Sanders entire statement on his priorities for the 111th Congress, click here.

To watch the senator's speech on the Wall Street bailout, click here.

To read the "Collapse if the Middle Class booklet, click here.

To read more about the tomato workers in Immokalee, Florida, click here.

To watch one of the senator's town meetings, click here.