tv Newsmakers CSPAN November 9, 2014 10:00am-10:31am EST
>> among other things, it means that i am not going to become chairman in a new session of the veterans affairs committee. what the republicans did was, while not good for the country, politically very, very smart. with visit to the american people is, are you happy with what is going on in our country in terms of the economy. and, you know what, overall the majority of people are not happy. the middle class for the last 40 years has been collapsing. real unemployment today is close to 12%. youth unemployment is 20%. colleges unemployment for middle-class families. the gap between the very, very rich and everybody else is growing wider and wider. 95% of all new incomes go to the people on the top. people said, no. and the republican said that the problem is all barack obama.
and he said or who has worked with barack obama, terrible, have to throw them out. with a very, very low turnout -- in my state of vermont, the the lowest on record. i think it was true all over the country. people are demoralized and republicans came out and said okay, we are going to change things. with the republicans also come about, they didn't -- do, bob, they didn't tell the american people what to do. he going to do -- are they going to do? >> they are going to give tax to the rich -- people said we have to raise the minimum wage. do you think the republicans in washington are going to raise the minimum wage? other going to do anything income and wealth inequality? other going to do anything about pay equity for women?
it was a very interesting election and i think the republicans were very, very in blaming barack obama -- >> but, senator, doesn't president obama has some response ability? he has been in office for six years and republicans have not had control of the senate since 2006? dozen some of the responsibility and up with president obama? have a clear crats message? >> very good point. some of the responsibility absolutely rests with president obama. i think he has not been a strong and clear with the message and legislation that interests of the working families. to t also, bob, what i have level of is the republican obstructionism has been unprecedented in the modern history of america. we are looking at hundreds and hundreds of filibusters. how many people know that in the majority of us
voted to raise the minimum wage. could get 60 votes to overcome the filibuster. we voted for pay equity for women workers. we couldn't get the 60 votes. so, yes, i think the president part of the responsibility for what happened, but i think that a lot of the blame also has to go to republican obstructionism. that the main point here is country faces enormous problems in terms of a disappearing middle class, people living in poverty -- what do republicans have to say? on at are they going to do these important issues? a number or, there are of races like kay hagan in north carolina that were very surprising for democrats. that others would be held on to. many thought that georgia would go to a runoff. they had a lot of very tough losses for democrats.
i know you said that republicans didn't offer to run on -- both, democrats didn't also offer a clear message. they ran on obstructions and, wage and pay nimum equity, but that did not bring out voters to the polls. what else could they have done to bring out voters to the polls? >> lauren, that is a great question. your point is right. of the democratic candidates did not run on an with a which resonated working people -- which said to people, you know what, it is worthwhile for me to come out and vote. is very, very sad -- and i hope that people regardless views ir political appreciate this -- we have a situation where, i believe, some 60% of the american people 80% of vote and about young people and low income
working people do not vote. of d i hope, that regardless our political views, that people see that is a real -- a to say the m, least, in a democratic society. to answer your question, this is what i think. i think where the democrats have been weak and individual happened to be weak is stepping up to the plate and saying that they have to take on the billionaire class. the billionaires are able to money nlimited sums of and right now, what congress is doing, is working to advance the interest of the 1% and not the 99%. you look at the polls and what is totally amazing -- you look and i do lls out there -- what do people say? they want to raise the minimum wage to a living wage. want a jobs program.
rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. yes, investing in infrastructure will cost money, but i believe that people support it because they understand that it is $1 trillion investment in rebuilding our roads and and infrastructure can create 13 million decent paying jobs. to overturn this disastrous citizens united supreme court decision. they are sick and tired of his ugly 32nd ads on television -- coming from both parties. they do want campaign-finance limitations. republicans don't want it. they want to go beyond citizens united. with the democrat strong enough on that issue? i don't think so. people also understand that climate change is real, that the scientific community calls of the great crises of our time.
with the democrats strong on that issue? absolutely not. and last but not least, people know that there's something very, very wrong in our we have more wealth than any other major country in a -- wealth and income inequality than any other major country on earth. a senator, you have said on number of occasions that you are thinking about running for president. timing one, what is the of the decision and will you run as an independent or in the democratic primary? >> well, bob, let me just say this. as i say this, people will breathe a sigh of relief. eye, for one, will give the american people sometime to from this last campaign. some people want never-ending campaigns -- >> okay, but, you will take your time. what about the independent or
democratic primary? >> fair question. am the know, i longest-serving independent in the history of the united states congress. i'm very proud that my state of vermont had liquors to the two party de system. on the one hand, there is profound anger and frustration at the two party system. democrats do very, very bad and republicans, i think, cannot even worse. they do not think that either party is capable of addressing enormously serious problems. on the other hand, if you're as an independent -- if i decide to run at all run as you're going to an independent, wow, you're going to have to set up a political infrastructure in 50
states in this country. and the state of vermont, i signatures on 500 the ballot, but north carolina and other states, it is very, very difficult. so you need to spend a lot of and energy and money trying to develop the infrastructure. kind of the quandary that i'm in right now. and what i'm doing is going out of -- around the country if they are people prepared to be involved in a campaign that is going to take on the billionaire class. whether it is the drug companies, the koch brothers, the military-industrial complex -- these people have unlimited sums of money and power. it would be a very, very difficult undertaking and i will not do it unless i believe i can do well, that i can and to erious campaign,
do that, i will need millions of people at the grassroots to el really fighting hard protect working families and fighting for a progressive agenda. is that infrastructure -- is there that can support available? the answer is i don't know at this point. follow up on an i that because democrats have their millionaires as well. you have some who were in agreement with you about climate change. you are not accept money from like tom?aire >> he is a billionaire. >> he is a billionaire, okay. [laughter] >> here's what you have. it is absolutely true that you have democratic billionaires who contribute a lot, but let's not get into this idea of equivalent. the koch h is that brothers and other republican billionaire spend more than the democrats. and time is a very rich guy
to do -- he is trying tom is a very rich guy and what he is trying to do is to protect this planet from climate change. i think there's more of an equivalence between what he the koch and what brothers believe which is not utilize t we should more fossil fuel -- but if you look at the koch brothers a 1980 and i have, on the ballot an -- they have an agenda and it is an extreme right-wing agenda. so, having said that, i myself to overturn need citizens united and move the public funding of elections. to happen for you -- and uses sound like you saying this, anyways -- unless you can find the infrastructure, you are considering running as a democrat.
what needs to happen to get you into the race? hillary clinton runs unopposed? as a because elizabeth warren is not necessarily interested this time around? you into s 7 to get the race -- what needs to happen to get you into the race? if i run -- you know, i have been politically successful here in the state of vermont. i won with 71% of the vote. but vermont is very small state. can we -- is the message i'm going to deliver -- it doesn't resonate with people country and is there the grassroots support to take on big money? is what i would be telling people. for their support investing $1 trillion in our infrastructure to create 13 million jobs? do ll, my republican friends
not support it, but i believe that is best. country in the y world that doesn't have a national healthcare program guaranteeing health care to all people. where the only one. we spentas much per capita on health care than any other nation. is their support and therefore for all e single-payer system guaranteeing health care for all people? raising ir support for the minimum wage to a living wage? issue eir support on this of climate change? i believe it is real. i hear from scientists all over the world saying we have a limited window of opportunity transform our energy system and oil and gas to energy efficiency and sustainable energy, but how many people are going to support that type of agenda? of at fundamental reshaping her energy system. honest with myself and the american people.
there's not a willingness for people to say, you know, bernie i am going to work hard. i prepared to stand up and take on the billionaire class. if there is not that support, i will not run because i do not want to do something that run a -- i want to meaningful campaign. >> we have about 10 minutes left. >> senator, you mentioned and the ters grassroots movement and it brings to mind another presidential campaign -- ron paul. to see that type of presidential campaign -- he movement, he had grassroots and he did quite well. to see that as a model to do well on the left? >> well, no. you are right. ron ran a very impressive campaign, but he lost.
as you know, ron paul and i on some issues -- in fact, i am very proud to help past the amendment to get the audit of the fed, which took place in the financial crisis. i think there is a huge challenge and it is very, very difficult. the e would think that young people -- for whom the decision is being made today in washington - will have a huge for their whole lives. the young people today who to go to college, the young people graduating graduate school deeply in debt and paying these huge fees -- one would think they would gravitate to the process. youth unemployment is close to 20%. we have 5 1/2 million young who either merica dropped -- they do not have jobs.
one might think that they would be involved in thinking about political issues. unfortunately, that is not the case. it is not easy. it is not easy. been on college campuses and it is not easy to bring young people into the political process, but to answer your question, that is certainly be ould focusing on because you want energy of sm and young people. young people of this country the civil rights movement was transformed america's racial policies. such g people have played an important role on environmental issues. people get young involved in 2016? it certainly is something i would try to do. >> if it is okay with you, i wanted to turn to a different -- the veterans affairs is obviously an issue as the committee in hat the senate -- but came out and said that there
criticism he is receiving is as air and he is working aggressively as possible to of the top e officials were involved at the phoenix medical system. you agree with his comments unfair? there is a lot that you are so instrumental in helping pass, given the ability to -- it was focused on the appeals. should you have gone further? >> let me answer this in a couple of ways. number one, i have gotten to like him -- and i bob and i like him very much. he and his assistants are working very, very hard. the va is a huge system and cannot bring change overnight, but what i think he is talking about -- with the secretary is talking about is you can fire anybody, you you can fire them, but you don't want to lose on appeals. don't want somebody running and saying that they
were fired unjustly. get rid of ey do people, those firings will remain intact. i would make oint is what the -- effect that in parts of nd in other this country, we had unacceptably long waiting times. you know what? in the last number of months, -- under bob's leadership has made some very significant progress that veterans are getting into the va in a timely manner. or, if not, getting out into sector in a timely manner. so i think what you have seen in phoenix and elsewhere -- the i don't have statistics are infinitely -- but what you have seen is a
decrease in the waiting period. a lot of criticism and some of it very justified. it is completely unacceptable the books with dr. or lie -- and we had to do with those people -- but at end of the day, what i veteran in american understands, his want to get into the va, the quality of care is quite good. that is what all the veterans organization say and that is very true. the va has done cutting edge in terms of medical intervention -- there a project right now that is so revolutionary and exciting. process and ng on a a unit which people with injuries can now utilize and it is battery powered, which enables the batteries to move your legs
and move your arms. people who have been in a wheelchair for years are now getting up. with the help of this apparatus, they are now moving around and walking. just a revolutionary development. from my point ne" is the va does good and is to do better to provide healthcare for all the veterans in this country. >> when you get into the campaign, you have to assess your rivals. has the clinton of more than 60 members in congress. what is hillary clinton's biggest weakness? >> well, i'm not here to attack hillary clinton. i like hillary clinton. i sat with her in the senate. that is due respect, not the right question.
the right question is, what are the problems facing america? why is the middle class collapsing while all the new income is going to the top 1%? why is that? is e real question to ask whether the policies that we need to rebuild the american middle class, lower the high rates of this massive end wealth inequality? i suppose that hillary has different views than i do in coming up with the solutions. what i get upset about is is t so much of politics ugly 30 second ads. hillary clinton is a very decent person and i respect her. i suspect that if she runs and have run, we will differences in opinions and i look forward to that debate.
>> you know she's a front you want her at do -- what you want the democratic nominee to say? what my views are and the views that i have we need to rally the country, ass in this low-income workers, middle-class to stand up to the billionaire class. the $64 what i think issue is and i will be supportive to a varying degree of candidates were prepared to do that. to say that it is unacceptable that 20% of our young people are unemployed. to come up with a jobs program. to pass a national healthcare program. to invest in a visitor to create jobs. to deal with climate change. those are the issues we need to talk about. you mentioned that i'm a long shot, well, absolutely, you are right. but i want to tell you something. in my own small state of vermont, i started in politics in my u know what i got first election?
i got 2% of the vote. 1% the next election, i got of the vote. in the last election, i get 71% of the vote. so long shots can change with in your the ideas vision -- people here the ideas and your vision in the future. >> what reforms will be made since this the passed and signed by president in august -- and also, the va secretary did say the veteran affairs department will need more money. the need that money? >> okay, i don't know. i honestly don't know the answer to the last question. but what they're saying is, we are providing services to 6 1/2 million people. if you want us to do quality work, we will need the money, but to be honest with you, i have not thoroughly study that issue.
i will, but i have not at this point. did in the legislation -- and it was one of the few bipartisan pieces of legislation passed in the last several years -- and i am proud. we were able to work with republicans and pass this legislation. this is what it did. billion into the va in order to them to hire the doctors and the nurses and the medical personnel they need. what it also did was say, in those areas where we cannot get veterans into the va in a timely manner, we are go to a pay for you to private doctor or a community health center. what it also did and i am said to this, and the wives to the soldiers who iraq and afghanistan, you know what, you are going to be able to take advantage of bill and get an education.
so this bill put billions of dollars into the va health care and other areas. we have more to do. >> senator bernie sanders, we have to leave it there. think you very much for being with us. >> thank you very much. >> let me turn to the two of you and go through what we heard there from the senator. bob cusack, do think he is really going to run in 2016? >> i think he is going to run. on less you see some of the the left -- leg and elizabeth warren type of figure -- he he does not want -- hillary clinton poll numbers are fantastic, but there is an aspect of the left that he really doesn't like the ties to wall street. senator sanders is, not criticizing hillary clinton, but i do just he is going to run is that sure there rich debate and, who knows, in
politics, you never know. >> lauren french, what does he bring to the table for the democratic party? >> obviously, you know, he have those ties -- the wall street ties. it could be an enthusiasm grower for young people. for people who don't to essarily find themselves be hard-core democrats, but like the left issues. lost, the lost arkansas, they are more than going to lose alaska, so those issues do not play very well in the southern states. so if he says he wants to run a successful campaign, a winning campaign, is big be bringing those ideas to the south and is more republican states. that could end up being an issue for him to successfully talk about it.
the issues that people in north carolina care about are in y much different than the northeast corridor. >> senator sanders says he the public a break from politics, but not people are going to. his platform -- from what you talking about, lauren french -- is presumably the senate floor. what you think happens in the when ed and 14 congress in the e senator -- 114th congress? be very nk it will difficult and favre dealmaking. they are going to have to on ike some type of deal averting government shutdown and raising the debt limit, but whatever the deal is, the left and the right -- the people who are running for president about running for
president, and there are going to be people who announced their intentions in the next month or so -- they're going to criticize any dealmaking. it will be a big problem, i for senator mitch as speaker s well benner. will this congress be better than last congress? i think so. >> actually, i have to disagree with you there. about ascinating thing the senate starting in january they have mitch mcconnell continuing to be majority to der and he will have contend with the others who will be tripping over themselves to pull that away. then you have a number of people who are going to be a for election in 2016 from the blue or purple states -- i guess we haven't debate now on blue and purple the so watching -
mitch mcconnell walks every to give e of wanting this post -- not wanting to give up his post, i think it it even more ake dysfunctional because every time they try to make a video, you will have three very high-profile figure screaming no. the if he goes towards likely presidential candidates, you are going to have anyone who is running for reelection in 2016 saying, i'm going to lose if you do this. i think that is going to make it so paralyzed. >> the big difference though is that the republicans will own the next congress. a ow they are going to own very unpopular institution and unless they put points on the they're unless passing bills -- the voters are going to reject them. that is where the relationship