Bernie Sanders (b. 1941)

Reference: Jewish Virtual Library
Bernie Sanders (b. September 8, 1941)

Bernard Sanders (b. September 8, 1941)

On January 3, 1991, Bernard Sanders came to Congress as Vermont’s only Representative in the House and the first Independent elected to Congress in 40 years. Sanders was reelected seven times, making him the longest-serving Independent in the history of the House of Representatives. In November 2006, Sanders was elected to the Senate.

During the 104th Congress, Sanders focused his efforts on the work of the House Progressive Caucus, which he founded and chairs.

Since its establishment in 1991, the Progressive Caucus has grown from 5 Members to 58 Members. This body is organized around the principles of social and economic justice, a non-discriminating society, and national priorities which represent interests of all people, not just the wealthy and the powerful.

The purpose of the Progressive Caucus is to present thoughtful, practical solutions to the economic and social problems facing America. Its agenda includes job creation, increasing the minimum wage, eliminating corporate welfare, single payer health care reform, environmental reform, and women’s rights.

In the 105th Congress, Sanders focused on articulating the views of the caucus as the main voice of opposition to the GOP “Contract with America”. The Progressive Caucus offered an 11-point counter-proposal to the “Contract with America”, called the “Progressive Promise: Fairness.”

Sanders has brought to Washington an agenda for fundamental change in American politics. His major issues include:

  • Progressive tax reform — Sanders believes that the federal tax system is unfair, unduly taxing working and middle class people and giving excessive tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy. For this reason, Sanders voted for the Clinton budget plan, which raised 80% of new taxes by increasing taxes on the wealthiest 2% of the population, while at the same time offering 20 million low income working families tax reductions through the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit. Sanders has repeatedly cosponsored alternative budget resolutions introduced by the Congressional Black Caucus/Progressive Caucus which would have shifted a significant portion of the tax burden from working people and the middle class back to the rich. He will continue to push for such budget resolutions.
  • Eliminating Corporate Welfare — Sanders believes that substantial corporate welfare cuts must be included as an essential component of any reasonable and fair plan to balance the federal budget. Sanders has introduced legislation such as the “Come Home Corporate America Act” and the “Corporate Responsibility Act” to significantly cut back on the $125 billion a year in tax breaks and subsidies which the U.S. currently spends on some of the largest and most profitable corporations in America.
  • National health care — Sanders believes that every American should be guaranteed comprehensive medical care as a right of citizenship, with no out-of-pocket expense. A long-time supporter of a Canadian-style single payer health care plan, in 1990 he introduced legislation to establish such a plan for the U.S. on a state-by-state basis. Sanders also cosponsored HR 1200, The American Health Security Act. Under this plan, private health insurers would be replaced by a single agency that would negotiate and pay claims submitted by private doctors and hospitals. The system would be financed by progressive taxation. Sanders established a Task Force on Single Payer Health Care in 1993 which found that a single payer system would save Vermont $270 million over what is currently spent on health care.

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Sources: Congressman Bernie Sanders, Official Bernie Sanders Website