Bernie Sanders

Remarks in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire

January 21, 2016

Thank you! [applause]

Whoa, thank you. Thank you so much for -- love you, too! [applause]

Thank you so much for coming out this evening. This is a wonderful, wonderful turnout.

Let me also thank my dear friend Bill McKibben. I trust all of you know that Bill is not only an outstanding writer, he really is a great writer, and not only the subject matter that he deals with so thoroughly, he really writes very, very well, but Bill is also not just one of the leaders of the movement to combat climate change in this country, Bill is one of the international leaders.

He founded, as you know,, which has played a role all over the world in bringing people to stand up in the fight to save our planet. [applause]

And when Bill talks about organizing at the grassroots level, there is nobody I know who does it better than he does. About a year- and-a-half ago, I think it was, we were in New York City, 400,000 people, a lot of young people, a lot of people of color, people from all over the world were marching to demand that Congress and governments all over this planet recognize the seriousness of what we are going through now and move aggressively to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy. [applause]

So when you hear from Bill, you're hearing from a guy who is an international leader on one of the most important issues facing our country. And I'm going to get into that in a moment.

Let me say a few words about our campaign, before I get into the thrust of my remarks. We began this campaign about nine months ago. And when we began we had no money, no organization and, frankly, my name recognition around much of the country was not very, very high. And a lot of the media pundits were saying, well, you know, Bernie Sanders combs his hair outstandingly. [laughter]

And I want some recognition. I just got a haircut here. That's worth something, you know? [applause]

My wife said enough is enough, you gotta get a haircut, so we did that. [laughter] And you know, and I was considered, this campaign was considered to be a fringe candidacy. Interesting, but not significant. Well, I think a lot has happened in nine months. [applause]

With your help, we've got a real shot to win here in New Hampshire. We're are doing better and better in Iowa. A recent poll, actually a poll a few hours old, had us ahead in Iowa. [applause]

And I think it is fair to say that we have a lot of momentum. In my view, we will win in Iowa, we will win in New Hampshire if -- and here is the big if -- if there is a large voter turnout, if working people and young people and older people decide that it is important enough to make a statement, and that's what your state does, that's what Bill was saying, you're making a statement that will be heard not only all across our country, it will be heard all over the world.

And the statement is that we have had enough of establishment politics, establishment economics, we need to move in a new and bold direction. [applause]

Now, when you come within a week or two weeks or two-and-a-half weeks of an election, suddenly you start hearing a lot of strange things being said. And one of the things that my opponent, Secretary Clinton, is saying is that Bernie Sanders is unelectable, he just cannot defeat a Republican candidate in a general election.

So it gives me some pleasure to give you some facts that suggest that that might not just be the case. [applause]

Here in your state of New Hampshire, a state where people know Hillary Clinton very well, she ran here in 2008, she's running hard now, a state where people know me well, when we were compared in a recent poll from CNN and WMUR just the other day, in terms of how well we would do against Republican candidates, this is the result from New Hampshire. Secretary Clinton loses to Marco Rubio by one point; we beat him by 18 points. [applause]

Secretary Clinton and Governor Kasich are tied; we beat Kasich by 21 points. [applause]

And here is my favorite. [laughter] Because it deals with my good, good friend Donald Trump. Secretary Clinton defeats Mr. Trump by nine points, we beat him by 23 points. [applause]

All of which -- all of which -- reaffirms my love for the smart people in the state of New Hampshire. But it's not just New Hampshire. The results are not quite as strong, but they're also strong in Iowa where we do a lot better than Secretary Clinton against Republicans, in polls, and also nationally. There was an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that came out the other day. Secretary Clinton defeated Trump by 10 points; we defeated him by 15 points. [applause]

And the main -- even more importantly than polls, polls go up and down, but even more importantly is the thrust of our campaign. Here is a political fact, and the fact is that Republicans win national elections when people are demoralized and they don't come out and vote.

And last year in the midterm election, Republicans won a landslide victory, they won a huge victory all over this country because 63 percent of the American people didn't vote, 80 percent of young people didn't vote.

And what is going on in this campaign, I think any objective observer would note, that the campaign that has the excitement, that has the energy, that's bringing working people, that's bringing young people in, a campaign that has spoken to 450,000 already, all over America, that has spoken to over 27,000 people in meetings like this in New Hampshire, that our campaign is the campaign of excitement, energy, momentum, which will result in a large voter turnout, which mean victories for the Democrats from the top on down. [applause]

And let me also say this. When we began this campaign, as I said, we didn't have money and we didn't have an organization, name recognition not all that high. And one of the problems that we had to face right away is the fact that, as all of you know, to run for president of the United States, sad but true, you need to raise an unbelievable amount of money.

And what the pundits and the experts were saying, well, the only way that a candidate in this day and age with this disastrous Citizens United decision, the only way that a candidate can raise the kinds of money you need is to set up a super PAC. And the truth is that my Democratic opponents set up super PACs and that almost all Republican opponents set up super PACs.

But to my mind, as somebody who does not represent the billionaire class, does not represent corporate America, I decided that I was not going to establish a super PAC, I was not going to ask them for millions and millions of dollars in money. [applause]

But then, you know, that's a very lovely statement, but that still doesn't bring you any money. So how do you do it?

Well, what we did is kind of an old-fashioned way. We reached out to the middle class and working families of this country. And what happened is -- and this I would not have in a million years dreamed that we could do. In the last nine months, we have received 2 1/2 million individual contributions. [applause]

That is more than any candidate in the history of the United States of America, up to this point in a campaign. [applause]

And at a time when candidates are so proudly leaving rooms with millionaires and coming out with 5 million or 10 million bucks, our average contribution is $27. [applause]

So what all of that means is we have already accomplished something enormous, and that is we have shown the American people that despite this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, despite all of the super PACs, one can still run a strong and, I believe, winning campaign based on the support from working families and the middle class. And I'm very proud of that. [applause]

And today in New Hampshire, we have many thousands of volunteers, and we have a wonderful, wonderful organization. And with your help, if we can get a good voter turnout on February 9th, I believe we can win this state and I ask for your help to make that happen. [applause]

Now, one of the reasons that I think our campaign is doing well is because we are treating the American people as if they were intelligent human beings. [laughter]

Now, that's a radical idea for a politician. You know, when we we are often seen on TV in six-second sound bites or when the media will tell you what the most important issues are, we have chosen to go a different direction. And what we have tried to say is the most important issues facing us is not what appears on television tomorrow, the most important issues are the issues that you are struggling with today in terms of your lives, your children's lives and your parent's lives. Those are the issues that we have got to address, whether the media finds them interest or exciting or not. [applause]

Now, what do I mean by that? I'll just give you a few examples, OK?

A couple of weeks ago I was in Nevada. A woman, early 30s, I think, came up to me. She has a 5-year-old child and she said, Bernie, I am trying to make it with a 5-year-old kid, earning $10.45 an hour and paying off my student debt. And tears started running down her cheeks. I don't know if I can do that, I don't know what happens to my child.

In my state, and it's no different here in New Hampshire, we have many, many seniors who are trying to get by on 11, 12, $13,000 a year Social Security. And if you just do the arithmetic, you can't get by on 11, $12,000 Social Security. And some of those seniors are literally cutting up their medicine, their pills in half, which is not a good thing to do, but they don't have the money they need to buy the medicine that they require.

I fought very hard to expand the Meals on Wheels program; Republicans resisted. But all over this country, there are seniors who are on waiting lists trying to get Meals on Wheels because they're having a hard time eating at least one decent, nutritious meal a day. [applause]

And what a disgrace that is. And then I go all over the country and I talk to people. Young people stand up. I spoke to a kid the other day. Senator, I will be graduating college very shortly. I'm going to be $60,000 in debt, having a hard time finding a job. I'm supposed to pay back $1,200 a month. I have no clue as to how I can do that.

Saw another young man, late 20s, two kids, married. He's working in sustainable energy. He's devoted to the environment. He says he's paying 53 percent of his limited income on student debts.

Talk to moms and dads all over New Hampshire, all over Vermont, all over this country, who desperately want quality, affordable child care for the little ones, can't find that.

Talk to 55-year-old workers who are scared to death about going to work someday and finding the employer say, Joe, thanks for working for us for 30 years, but we can hire somebody at half your age for half the wages.

Talk to the kids graduating college and have a hard time finding jobs commensurate with their education.

Talk to people, and I do all of the time, who are working two or three jobs, trying to cobble together some income and some health care.

Talk to husbands and wives whose marriages are being stressed out and strained because people are working so hard and they don't have enough time to spend with their kids.

Now, the truth is, although my Republican friends deny it, our economy today is obviously today in a lot better shape than it was when George W. Bush left office. [applause]

When Bush left office, we were hemorrhaging 800,000 jobs a month. That is unbelievable. Our deficit was a record-breaking $1.4 trillion. And oh, by the way, the world's financial system was on the verge of collapse. Other than that, we were in really good shape. And these people have the nerve to attack Barack Obama. [applause]

So we have made progress. We've cut the deficit by more than two-thirds. The world's financial system is now, at this moment anyhow, not on the verge of collapse. And we are growing jobs rather than hemorrhaging jobs.

But having said that, what we must also be honest about and that is is to acknowledge that under Republican administrations and Democratic administrations for the last 40 years, the great middle class of this country, the middle class that was once the envy of the entire world, has been disappearing -- has been disappearing.

If you are a male worker in the middle of the American economy, half the people on top, half the people below, you are earning today in inflation-adjusted-for dollars 700 bucks a year less than you made 41 years ago. Productivity expanding, technology exploding, and yet you're making $700 less than you made 41 years ago.

If you are a woman, you are making a thousand dollars less in adjusted income than you made in 2007. Well, that's the reality.

Now, the reality is also and why people are so angry is they're working harder and harder, many of them are slipping into poverty, everyone is worried about the future of their kids -- which, by the way, if we do not get our act together, the kids, our kids, will be the first generation in modern American history to have a lower standard of living than we do.

So what people are asking is, what's going on? Technology exploding, global economy, worker productivity going on, but the middle class for 40 years has been in decline and more and more people living in poverty.

Well, I would suggest to you that a lot of why that is happening has to do with the fact that we have seen in the last 30 years a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class and working families of our country to the top one-tenth of 1 percent, trillions of dollars that were owned by the middle class are now gone while the top one- tenth of 1 percent has seen a doubling of the percentage of wealth that they own.

And to my mind, together, as we try to turn this country around, one of the areas that we absolutely must focus on is the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality we are experiencing today. [applause]

Now, let me just blur you for a moment with a few facts, but I think it's important for you to know it. They don't usually get reported in the media, but it's important that people know it. And that is, in America today the top one-tenth of 1 percent, not 1 percent, one-tenth of 1 percent, owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. Got that?

Today in America, the wealthiest 20 people -- 20 people -- that's the front row here, not these guys, though... [laughter]

...the wealthiest 20 people in America own more wealth than the bottom half of America, 150 million people.

Today in America, one family, the Walton family that owns Walmart, one family owns more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of the American people.

And by the way, when I walk about the Walton family, let me mention to you that I know that you hear a lot from politicians about welfare reform. Right? We hear a lot about welfare reform, people ripping off the welfare system. So let me tell you who the major welfare recipient family in America is. It's not some poor family down the road. The major welfare recipient in America is the Walton family, the wealthiest family in America. And they are the major recipient because you as taxpayers are paying taxes for Medicaid and food stamps and affordable housing that Walmart employees need because the Walton family is not paying them a living wage. [applause]

So when we talk about a rigged economy, an economy where the rich get much richer while almost everybody else gets poorer, it seems a little bit absurd that the middle class has got to subsidize the wealthiest family in this country. [applause]

So I say to the Walton family, the owners of Walmart, get off of welfare, start paying your workers a decent wage. [applause]

That's wealth. When we talk about income, despite the fact that so many of our people are working such long hours, turns out that 58 percent of all new income generated goes to the top 1 percent.

So you ready for a radical idea? Why not. What about creating an economy that works for working families and not for the 1 percent? [applause] But when we talk about the economy, it is not only the grotesque level, and it is a grotesque level of income and wealth inequality, it is also about jobs.

Now, every month, the federal government issues a set of reports on unemployment. The report most of you see on the front pages of the paper is the official unemployment report, which is now about about 5 percent. What the official unemployment report does not include are those people who have given up looking for work and those people who are working part time who want to work full time. If you add that together, we're close to 10 percent unemployment.

And here's something that is almost never discussed at all, but it is a huge and tragic issue, and that is the problem of youth unemployment -- youth unemployment. A couple of months ago, I asked some economists to do a study for me. And I said, tell me what real youth unemployment is in this country for kids who graduate high school, not drop out.

And this is what they said: Kids who are white, 33 percent unemployed or underemployed, 33 percent; Latino 36 percent; African American 51 percent.

Now, if anybody in this room thinks there is not a connection between that outrageously high level of youth unemployment and the fact that we have more people in jail than any other country on earth, I believe you would be mistaken. [applause]

Today in America, we have 2.2 million people in jail. We spend $80 billion a year locking them up. So here's my second radical idea of the evening, and that is maybe it makes a lot more sense for us to be investing in education and jobs rather than jails and incarceration. [applause]

Our goal should be to have the best-educated population on earth, not more people in jail than any other country on earth. [applause]

And when we ask ourselves why it is that people are working such long hours, why? You know, it's a funny story, but it's not really so funny. If you remember the history books that we read when we were in school, there were pictures of workers a hundred years ago, marching down streets, holding up big placards. And you know what those placards were saying? They were saying we want the 40-hour work week.

Well, a hundred years have come and gone and we still want the 40-hour work week. [applause]

Turns out that we in the United States work the longest hours. I don't know if you know this. We work the longest hours of any people in the industrialized world. The Japanese are very hard workers, we work longer hours than they do. And one of the obvious reasons as to why people work such long hours is that wages in this country are too damn low. [applause]

So let me be very clear. The federal minimum wage today of $7.25 an hour is a starvation wage. We need to raise the minimum wage to a living wage, 15 bucks an hour over the next few years. [applause]

And when we talk about equitable wages, I hope that every man in this room will stand with the women in the fight for pay equity for women workers. [applause]

There is no rational economic reason why women should be making 79 cents on the dollar compared to men. That is just old-fashioned sexism, and together we are going to change that. [applause]

Now, in New Hampshire, for better or for worse, you see a whole lot of politicians trotting through your state. And if they are Republicans, you may hear them talking about family values. They just love families. Stay up nights worrying about families. [laughter]

Especially if they're very wealthy families who can contribute to their campaigns.

But you all know what they mean by family values, which is not a laughing matter. What they mean is that no woman in this room, in this state, in this country, should have the right to control her own body. I disagree. [applause]

What they mean by family values is that we should defund Planned Parenthood. I think we should expanding funding for Planned Parenthood. [applause]

And what they mean by family values is that our gay brothers and sisters should not have the right to get married. I disagree. [applause]

Now, my wife, Jane, and I have been married for 27 years, we have four great kids. You saw my son Levi. We've got seven beautiful grandchildren, three of them here in New Hampshire, and we're very proud of our family. And we believe very strongly in family values.

But when I talk about family values, my values are a little bit different than the Republicans. And when I talk about family values, I talk about ending the international embarrassment of the United States of America being the only major country on earth that does not provide paid family and medical leave. [applause]

Now, the good and beautiful news is that here in New Hampshire today and in Vermont and all over this country, women are giving birth and for those of you who are parents you know what an extraordinary day that is. And it's a pretty big day for the baby as well. [laughter]

But here's the story. If that woman who gives birth today is a working-class woman or a lower-income woman, the likelihood is that she will have to basically give up her baby, lose contact with her baby, separate from her baby and go back to work in a week or two in order to earn enough money to take care of her family. That is not a family value. That is the opposite of what a family value is. [applause]

Virtually every government on earth, and not only wealthy nations, developing nations, poor nations, understand that mom and dad should have the right to stay home with their newborn baby in what amounts to the most important weeks and months of that human being's life.

But it's not just childbirth. All of you know that kids get sick. It happens once in a while. And mom or dad should have the right to stay home with their child when their child is sick. Parents get sick. Sons and daughters should have the right to tend to their mothers or fathers.

That is why I am strongly supporting and will make happen as president three months of paid family and medical leave for every family in America. [applause]

That is not a radical idea. My goodness, every other country on earth could do it, or virtually every country. I think we can as well.

And when we talk about the economy, obviously we're talking about job creation. And when real unemployment is 10 percent and youth unemployment is higher than that, in my view, we need a massive federal jobs program to put our people back to work. [applause]

We should be hiring teachers, not firing teachers. [applause]

When we have a dysfunctional child care and pre-K system, which for many families is unaffordable and where child care workers are earning minimum wage or a little bit more, we need to create hundreds of thousands of jobs for well-trained, well-paid child care workers in this country. [applause]

And when we have an infrastructure, roads, bridges, water systems, wastewater plants, and I'm not just talking about Flint, Michigan, I'm talking about municipalities all over this country where water systems are leaking and in bad trouble, we need to rebuild our rail system to catch up with Europe and Japan and even China. [applause]

We can create 13 million decent-paying jobs rebuilding our infrastructure with a $1 trillion investment. And I intend to make that investment. [applause]

Well, people say that's a great idea, but it's an expensive proposition, even in Washington. A trillion dollars is a lot of money. Where are you going to get the money? I will tell you where we get the money. We are going to end this outrageous tax loophole that allows major, billion-dollar, profitable corporations to stash their money in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens. [applause]

We are losing a hundred billion dollars a year. You have corporations that make billions of dollars in profit, not paying a nickel in a given year in federal income tax. That's wrong. We're going to change that. We are going to invest in our infrastructure, create millions of good-paying jobs. [applause]

And by the way, not only do we need to create millions of good- paying jobs, we need to stop the loss of millions of jobs through a disastrous trade policy that allows corporate America to shut down plants here and move to low-wage countries abroad. [applause]

When I talk about an economy that is rigged, when I talk about a campaign finance system that is corrupt, when I talk about a criminal justice system that is broken, it turns out that we see all of that in a recent story that was in the papers about a week ago. And here is the story that tells you how corrupt our economic and political and criminal justice system is.

About a week ago, it was announced that Goldman Sachs, one of the major financial institutions on Wall Street, was going to reach a settlement with the federal government for $5 billion -- $5 billion -- and they were reaching that settlement because they had sold subprime mortgage packages that were worthless and cheated investors. Investors thought they were buying something that was worth something, but it was worthless and Goldman Sachs knew that.

Now, over the last 30 years, Goldman Sachs has operated what we call a revolving door. A revolving door means that people leave Wall Street and corporate America, go into government, do the bidding of Wall Street and corporate America, and then go back to the private sector. In fact, in the last 30 years, Goldman Sachs has given this country two secretaries of the treasury, one under a Republican administration, one under a Democratic administration. That's how the system works. Big money gets their people into government, works for big money.

And then it turns out that the guy who is head of Goldman Sachs, the financial institution that has paid $5 billion in settlement with the government, is a billionaire who a couple of years ago went to the Congress and he said, you know what, Congress, you have got to cut Social Security, you've got to cut Medicare, you've got to cut Medicaid, we can't afford to sustain these programs. This is coming from a billionaire whose company now paid a $5 billion fine for ripping off the American people.

Now, when we talk about why the American people are angry and why they are increasingly alienated from the political process, it has a lot to do with the fact that there are kids in New Hampshire, kids in Vermont, who get arrested for possessing marijuana and they get... [applause]

...and they get a police record. And you know what? When you get a police record, sometimes it's a little bit hard to go out and get a job. And yet, when you are the CEO or a major executive of a multi-multi-billion-dollar financial institution which helped crash the economy because of their greed, recklessness and illegal behavior, helped create a situation in which millions of people lost their homes, their life savings, their jobs, when you are that person, somehow you do not get a police record. That is wrong. That has got to change. [applause]

And by the way, to make a bad situation even worse, this particular company, Goldman Sachs, spends huge amounts of money on campaign contributions and on speakers fees to unnamed candidates. [laughter]

But that's how the system works. That is how the system works. That's what power is about. That's why the 1 percent gets richer and while everybody else gets poorer.

And when I talk about a political revolution and when I talk about bringing millions of people into the political process, what our job is to end that type of corruption and power-mongering and to create a government that works for all of us, not just a handful of people. [applause]

And speaking about campaign contributions, it turns out ironically that today is the sixth anniversary of one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in the history of this country, and that is the Citizens United decision.

And what Citizens United did was to say to the very wealthiest people in this country you already own much of the economy, now we're going to give you an opportunity to purchase the United States government, and that is precisely what they are trying to do.

You have one family and a few of their friends, the Koch brothers, second-wealthiest family in America, and they're very, very nervous and unhappy. You see, they're trying to catch up to the Waltons and they're only in second place, so they're working really hard and figure they could become even richer if they can elect candidates who hold their views, which is not just to cut Social Security or Medicare, it is to end Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid and the Environmental Protection Agency. That's a family that is spending $900 million on this campaign cycle.

Now, when you've got one family, second-wealthiest in America, spending more money in a campaign than either the Democratic Party or the Republican Party, you're not looking at a democratic society, you're looking at an oligarchic form of society. And together, we are going to stop that. [applause]

And the reason, the reason that that issue is so important, is that it touches on every other issue. You name the issue. And if people are elected to office to represent the wealthy and the powerful, the needs of the middle class and working families, the needs of women, the needs of children, the needs of the environment, will not be addressed.

And then there are -- so let me conclude that by telling you, and here's a promise, that no nominee of mine to the United States Supreme Court will get that nomination unless he or she is crystal clear that they will vote to overturn Citizens United. [applause]

Everybody in this room knows we live in a highly competitive, global economy. And if we're going to succeed, we need the best- educated workforce in the world. There was once a time when we did. That time is not anymore.

Now, it seems to me to be totally absurd, beyond comprehension, that when we need the intellectual capabilities of all of our people, we have hundreds of thousands of young Americans who are able, who are qualified, but who cannot get to college for one reason and one reason alone, and that is their families lack the money.

That is why I believe that in the year 2016 we must make public colleges and universities tuition free. [applause]

And I say that not just for the obvious reason, that it means that bright young people will be able to go to college and people will not leave school deeply in debt, but there is a more profound reason. I grew up in a family that never had a lot of money. And my dad came from Poland, he had dropped out of high school, my mom graduated high school.

But the people, like every milieu, the people you associate with, your family associates with, in my family and other families, you associate with people with similar economic backgrounds. And the people that we associated with just did not have college education. And that's true all over America. There are kids who don't know anybody who went to college.

If we can make public colleges and universities tuition free, if every parent in this country, every teacher in this country, every child in this country, kids who in the sixth grade, the eighth grade, understand that if they do their schoolwork seriously, if they pay attention in school, that they will be able to get a college education regardless of the income of their families. That is revolutionary. [applause]

And when we talk about our responsibilities as adults, as inhabitants of this earth, as parents, as grandparents, it seems to me that we have a moral responsibility to make sure that the planet that we leave our kids and grandchildren is healthy and habitable. [applause]

I sit on the Senate Environmental Committee and on the Senate Energy Committee. And in that capacity, I've met scientists all over our country, all over the world. And what they say is very clear: Climate change is real, it is caused by human activity, it is already causing major problems in our country and around the world.

And what they also say, and this is scary stuff, is that if we do not get our act together, this planet earth, our only planet, could become five to 10 degrees warmer by the end of this century. And what that means is more drought, more floods, more extreme weather disturbances, more acidification of the ocean, more rising sea levels, more international conflicts as peoples fight for limited natural resources.

If elected president, I will lead our country into working with Russia, China, India, countries all over the world, to take on the fossil fuel industry, transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy. [applause]

And let me connect some dots here and show you how everything is related to everything else. Today we have a major political party, it's called the Republican Party, where not one of their candidates for president, and they have many candidates for president, not one of them has stood up and said, you know, I've read the literature, I've talked to the scientists, we've got a problem, climate change is real, we better do something about it. Not one. And in the Congress, there are very, very few of them. There are some, but very few who are prepared to talk the truth about climate change.

Now, some may say, well, you know, Republicans are dumb or something like that. But that's not the case. Some of you may think it's the case, but it's not the case. Not here.

I'm on a lot of committees and I serve with Republicans and we discuss issues, like cancer and Alzheimer's disease and heart disease, on the Health Committee and so forth, and they ask the same rational questions anybody else would ask. They don't go around attacking cancer researcher or Alzheimer's researchers.

But on this issue, on this issue things are very, very different. And the reason for that is a corrupt campaign finance system which tells the Republicans that if one of them were to stand up and say, you know what, climate change is real, we've got to do something about that, on that day they would lose their funding from the Koch brothers and the fossil fuel industry. [applause]

And that is just one example of many as to why we need campaign finance reform. [applause]

When we talk about America and when we talk about the future of our country, what I am trying to do in this campaign is to get people to think big, not small. In other words, if we were an impoverished country, we would have one type of discussion. But we are the wealthiest country in the history of the world. And that calls for a different type of discussion.

Today there is one major country on earth -- one -- the country that you live in, that does not guarantee health care to every man, woman and child as a right. [applause]

Now, I have been criticized for believing that health care is a right, not a privilege. People want to criticize me, that's fine, that is what I believe. [applause]

Now, I am a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, and in that capacity spent an enormous amount of time working on the Affordable Care Act. And in my view, the Affordable Care Act has done some very, very important things. It has ended the private insurance company obscenity of preexisting conditions. [applause]

And in 20 years from now or 50 years from now, people will look back and they'll say I really cannot believe you had a system where insurance could tell somebody, oh, you had breast cancer five years ago, we will provide you insurance, but not for breast cancer because it may recur. It's like saying I'm going to give you fire insurance, except if you have a fire. [laughter]

You know, it is totally, totally insane. That's gone.

What we have also done through the ACA is provided health insurance for some 17 million Americans who otherwise would not have it. We have made it much fairer to women, who do not have to pay higher prices for insurance than men.

So there's a lot of good stuff in there. But let's also be clear. Today, 29 million Americans have no health insurance. Many more are under-insured with high deductibles and co-payments. There are people in this room who have high deductibles.

Anybody have a high deductible? Would you mind telling us? Anyone want to tell us what their deductible is? Six thousand, $4,000, $10,000. OK. [laughter]

Whatever I do, they say I always feel like a Vermont auctioneer, you know. [laughter]

Sorry to say, you won unless somebody can go higher than $10,000.

But what that means is that all over this country people do have insurance, but they have high deductibles and they have high co- payments. And what does that mean? It means in real world that people hesitate to go to the doctor when they're sick because they just don't have the money in their pocket.

And what that also means, and I've talked to a whole lot of doctors in Vermont and all over this country, is sometimes people go into the doctor's office and they are really, really, really sick. And the doctor said, why didn't you come in here six months ago? And the person says, well, I didn't have any health insurance or maybe I had a high deductible and I couldn't afford it. Sometimes those people do not make it. Sometimes they end up in the hospital at great expense and at great suffering.

In my view, when we have a system which has 29 million people uninsured, more under-insured, when we pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, which is a huge problem, when we end up spending almost three times more than the British spend, who provide health care to all of their people, 50 percent more than the French spend to provide health care to all their people, far more than our Canadian neighbors spend who provide health care to all of their people, I think we need to move forward toward a Medicare-for-all single-payer program. [applause]

And because Medicare for all takes the private insurance companies out of the equation, and you all know their function is simply to make as much money as possible, when we'll be able to negotiate prices with the drug companies, we end up through a Medicare-for-all program saving middle-class families thousands of dollars a year on their health care costs. [applause]

When we talk about issues in America, I know that all of you share with me our fatigue, our disgust, our anger at seeing videos on television of innocent people being shot to death by police officers. [applause]

And often, those people are African American or Latino.

Now, I was, as you all know, the mayor of Burlington, Vermont for eight years and in that capacity worked very, very hard with our police department. And in my view, the vast, vast majority of police officers in this country are honest, hardworking and are asked to do an enormously difficult job. [applause]

It is not easy being a police officer in the year 2016. But as is the case with any other public official, if a police officer breaks the law, that officer must be held accountable. [applause]

We need major reforms in our criminal justice system. We need to demilitarize local police departments. [applause]

We need to make police departments look like the diversity of the communities that they serve. [applause]

We need to take a hard look at the so-called war on drugs. [applause]

Right now under the Federal Controlled Substance Act, marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drug, right next to heroin. Now, I don't have to tell the people of New Hampshire about the horror of heroin. I don't have to tell the people of my state about the horror of heroin. It's a growing problem all over this country, a problem, by the way, in terms of opiate addiction and heroin addiction we have got to get a handle on. [applause]

Which means that we need a revolution in mental health treatment in this country. [applause]

Which means that when people need treatment for substance abuse, they get the treatment when they need it, not six months from when they need it. [applause]

And I am aware -- I just met a mother earlier today, lost, I believe, it was her daughter to drugs, and I know how serious that problem is in your state and how serious that problem is in my state.

But when you have marijuana next to heroin, I think that makes no sense to me at all. [applause]

And what I worry about is young people who get police records for possession of marijuana and then find it really hard to go out and get a job and get their lives together. And that is why I have introduced legislation to take marijuana out of the Controlled Substance Act. [applause]

In America today, we have about 11 million undocumented people. Many of them are being exploited and many of them are living in fear. I have talked to young Latinos with tears running down their cheeks who worry that their parents could be deported or that they could be deported. As president, I will be as aggressive as I can in moving toward comprehensive immigration reform and a path toward citizenship. [applause]

Now, we can have honest disagreements about any issue, including immigration reform. But what we should not be having in the year 2016, what we should not be having are candidates using racism and bigotry to attack... [applause]

The idea that somehow in the middle of the night we're going to pick up and round up 11 million people and throw them out of the country, the idea that people like Donald Trump are referring to Latinos who come into this country as criminals and rapists is unacceptable -- unacceptable. [applause]

This campaign is about not just electing a president. It is about transforming America. Bill McKibben mentioned to you a little while ago that it's not good enough to elect a president. What we need to do is to transform this country. And no president can do it alone. We need to be working together, we need to raise political consciousness, we need to have an understanding about what's going on in Washington and politically in a way that we have not had for a very, very long time. [applause]

But here is the bottom line. The bottom line is that we are the wealthiest country in the history of the world. We are a country in the last 30 years that has seen a massive transfer of wealth away from the middle class to the top one-tenth of 1 percent. I believe that if we stand together, if we do not allow the Donald Trumps of the world to divide us up, if we are Latino or if we are Muslim, but if we stand together, there is nothing, nothing, nothing that we cannot accomplish. [applause]

Please don't tell me that the United States of America, our great country, cannot guarantee health care to all people as a right.

Don't tell me that we cannot make certain that all of our young people, regardless of the income of their families, are able to get a college education if they have the ability to do so.

And don't tell me that we can't train carpenters and plumbers and sheet metal workers who need that training to get good jobs.

Don't tell me that we have to have more income and wealth inequality than any other major country on earth at the same time as we have more childhood poverty than any other country on earth.

Don't tell me that we have to maintain a crumbling infrastructure. Don't tell me that cannot address the fact that the wealthiest people in this country often pay an effective tax rate lower than what you pay. [applause]

When we stand together, there is nothing we cannot accomplish. That is what this campaign is about. And that is what a Sanders administration is about.

Thank you all very much! [applause]

Bernie Sanders, Remarks in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives