By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, February 11, the only two Democratic Party candidates for President of the United States, participated in a debate that was televised on PBS and CNN in the swing-state of Wisconsin.
US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) said that, “People are tired of establishment politics, People are tired of establishment economics.”
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) conceded that the economy is rigged. “America can only live up to its potential when we make sure that every American lives up to his or her potential.”
Sen. Sanders said that in the last 30 years there has been a massive redistribution of wealth from the poor and the middle class to the top one percent. Sanders promised that if elected he would make public colleges and universities free to attend and that the US has a moral responsibility to make sure that all of our people have healthcare coverage and proposed a single payer model to do that.
Sec. Clinton warned that, “Bernie’s plan would increase the size of the federal government by over 40 percent.” That is, “A promise that can not be met.”
Sen. Sanders said that Americans pay the most for prescription drugs of anyone in the world. “I have fought my entire life to make sure that Americans have a right to health care. In my view health care for all people is a right and I will fight for universal healthcare.”
Hillary Clinton defended the controversial Obamacare system we have now. She said, “We are at 90 percent coverage.” You need to level with people on what they will have with your plan. Many people will be worse off than they are right now.”
Bernie Sanders said that this is the only major country in the world that does not guarantee health care to all people.” We have to have the courage to take on the drug companies, to takes on the healthcare insurance companies, and to take on the medical device manufacturers.
Sec. Clinton said 170 million Americans get their healthcare through their employers. This is the system that we have inherited since World War II. “My proposals can be vetted.” Clinton said that her plan would only cost $100 billion a year which she will raise by taxing the wealthy and closing loopholes. “I will not throw us further into debt.”
Sen. Sanders asked: “Who denies that we have an infrastructure that is crumbling?” Who denies that real youth African American youth unemployment is 50 percent? Wall Street drove this country into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and he would impose a Wall Street speculations tax to make public college and university tuition free.
Sec. Clinton said that we differ on a couple of key points. You have to have some agreement to pass a plan. Senator Sanders plan would require that Governors like Scott Walker (R from Wisconsin) will contribute $23 billion a year. “I am skeptical that your governor will make any kind of commitment like that.”
Bernie Sanders said that, “The world has changed. In many ways a college degree is the equivalent of what a high school diploma was 50 or 60 years ago.” Free tuition should be a right.
Hillary Clinton said, “I have spent my entire adult life working to make sure that women are empowered to make their own choices even if their choice is not to vote for me.” When it comes to the issues that are really on the front lines we still have some barriers to knock down.
Sanders said I have a 100 percent Pro-Choice voting record. Paid family and medical leave should be a right of all working families. For somebody with my background, somebody with my views, somebody with my voting record to win the Presidency would be historic. “I spent my entire life taking on the big moneyed interests.”
Sec. Clinton said that she was proud that she has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood and NARAL. Those endorsements are because I have been a leader on those issues. Clinton warned of a whole national effort to set back women’s rights.
Bernie Sanders said that one out of four Black males born in this country today will go to jail. We have got to demilitarize local police departments so they don’t look like occupying armies. Police forces should look like the communities they serve. We have more people in jail than China does, a communist totalitarian country with four times our population. Sanders vowed to cut the prison population if he is elected.
Hillary Clinton said that there is systemic racism in education and in employment. Young people particularly young Black men are pushed out of school too early. We are seeing the dark side of the remaining systemic racism that we have in our country. We need good models about how to provide employment housing and education. She supported using the Justice Department against local communities like Ferguson.
Bernie Sanders said the economic crisis hit African American and Latino communities the hardest. African Americans lost half of their accumulated wealth, have unbelievable rates of incarceration, and suffer from institutional racism. We have an economy where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Sanders said that his plan to spend billions on public works and infrastructure project will create millions of jobs for low income kids so that they are not hanging out on street corners and will end up in the productive economy where we want them.
Hillary Clinton said, “I am deeply concerned” about what is happening in our communities including in the White Community. There have been increases in alcoholism. Whites are not living as long as their parents. Coal communities have been hit by the changing economy. I am going to do everything that I can to address distressed communities.
Sanders said that there has been a series of disastrous trade policies that have enabled corporate America to shut down American factories and put millions of American people out of work. Those job have gone to China. Adults that used to have a factory job with a pension now are working in McDonalds. That is why there is massive despair. The life expectancies of White working class people from 45 to 54 is actually going down. He wants an economy that takes care of everybody and not just a handful of billionaires who have enormous economic and political power.
Sanders said we have 11 million undocumented people and he favors passing comprehensive immigration reform and President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. “I will use the executive orders of the presidency if Congress does not do the right thing.”
Sec. Clinton also supports the president’s executive orders and believes they are constitutional. “Immigration is keeping economies going in many parts of the country.” She supports comprehensive immigration reform. After the election, “Hopefully some Republicans will come to their senses and realize that we are not going to deport 11 or 12 million people.”
Bernie Sanders said, “You judge a nation not by the number of millionaires or billionaires but by how we treat the poorest among us.” Many seniors are trying to get by on $11,000, $12,000 or $13,000 a year. He promised to expand social security by $1300 a year for people making under $15,000 a year now and extend it to disable veterans as well. This would be paid for by lifting the cap on social security taxes, currently at $265,000. A great national like ours should not be in a position where elderly people are cutting their pills in half and not getting enough nutrition.
Hillary Clinton said we both believe there has to be more money going into Social Security. I would expand the existing tax into passive income.
Sanders said he gets most of his contributions from ordinary Americans and that his average contribution is just $27. Half of Mrs. Clinton’s donations on the other hand have come from just two donors: George Soros and Daniel Sussman.
Clinton said, “Sussman and Soros have a Super PAC. They don’t coordinate with me. Their PAC was set up for President Obama. They decided to support me.”
Bernie said “Don’t insult the intelligence of the American people.” Why does Wall Street make huge contributions? Why does the Pharmaceutical industry? Why does the fossil fuel community? They don’t do it out of the goodness of their heart.
Hillary said that despite getting large contributions from Wall Street, President Obama pushed through and passed Dodd-Frank. That was a major accomplishment.
Sanders said, “Dodd-Frank doesn’t go anywhere near far enough.” No Wall Street executive has been prosecuted for the financial collapse. Six financial institutions have access to the equivalent of 58 percent of GDP. If Teddy Roosevelt, that great trust buster, were alive today, he would say break them up.
Hillary Clinton said that Muslims needs to feel welcome and invited in the American community. Donald Trump’s comments were dangerous.
Bernie Sanders said that it is a major responsibility of the President to keep our people safe. “I voted against the war in Iraq because I listened very carefully to what President Bush and Vice President Cheney said would happen and I didn’t believe that.” A powerful nation like the United States working with our allies can overthrow dictators all over the world. “We could take out Assad tomorrow, but what happens on the next day?” Hillary Clinton replaced a dictator in Libya and then that country spiraled out of control. The US has been overthrowing dictators for 50 or 60 years but what about the unintended consequences? Sanders said he will make certain the US does not get involved in perpetual warfare in the Middle East.
The Alabama Presidential Primary is on March 1.