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Video: Packed House in Arlington for Bernie Sanders, Don Beyer Public Policy Forum

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I just got back from a two-hour public policy forum in Arlington, Virginia, entitled “Rebooting Our Policy Agenda to Reclaim the American Dream,” and featuring Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA8) as special guest speakers from the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC). The room was at capacity (300 people? 500 people according to the Washington Post), with enthusiastic Bernie Sanders supporters (and others) arriving an hour or more early to make sure they got a good seat. Rep. Beyer gave an excellent speech whose theme was thesis/antithesis/synthesis – are we making progress in America? Then, Sen. Sanders gave a 1/2 hour or so stemwinder which had the crowd fired up, sometimes on their feet cheering him on. Finally, there were questions and answers for the last 45 minutes or so, topics ranging from international trade (the progressive crowd was much more with Sanders than with Beyer on this one) to guns (Sanders took some tough questioning from a gun safety mom regarding some of his votes, and his general attitude towards guns)   to campaign finance reform, Citizens United, health care, and much more. I’m going to upload the videos in the order they are available on YouTube, then possibly reorganize them later. With that…enjoy! 🙂

  • Sen. Sanders says the answer is simple: the Republicans’ function in life is to represent the wealthy. “We’ve got to stop being nice about this issue…well how do you think it happens; what do you think the big money is paying for?”

  • Sen. Sanders asks how we got the $18 trillion debt; notes that we were running surpluses when President Clinton left office. Sanders says Republicans CLAIM to be concerned about deficits yet they “just forgot” to pay for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; provide $250 billion in tax breaks for the top 0.2% wealthiest Americans. Sanders also says there has been a huge transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthiest Americans — need the wealthy and large corporations to pay more in taxes.

  • Rep. Beyer states his thesis, antithesis, synthesis on what it means to be a progressive today.

  • Sanders talks about the “tragedy of youth unemployment in America,” that “millions of Americans are working at horrendously low wages,” the need for a living wage, pay equity for women workers, etc. Sanders mocks Republicans’ hypocritical talk about “family values” – they mean women in American shouldn’t have the right to control their own bodies (“I disagree”), that women aren’t intelligent enough to know what contraceptives they want to purchase (“I disagree”), that “gay couples shouldn’t have the same rights as straight couples” (“I strongly disagree!”). Sanders says we need universal health care, family/medical leave. He praises Pope Francis and talks about the crisis of global warming/climate change — “the debate is over…we have a short window of opportunity to…move away from fossil fuels.” “We can do this, we have the technology now, it will only get better in the future.” “What the Republican worldview is…way out of touch with where the American people are…they do the bidding of the billionaire class.” Progressives should not fall into the trap of cutting less than Republicans, but instead to think big and ask “why not?” “Government must represent all of us.”

  • Among other things, Sanders rips the Koch brothers, Jeb Bush for his comments on Americans needing to work more, the wealthy trying to buy our democracy, etc. He says we should not cut Social Security, we should EXPAND Social Security; we should have raise the minimum wage to a living wage; a guarantee of health care to all Americans as a fundamental right; the need for the best educated people in the world, ergo the need for affordable higher education/make public colleges and universities in America tuition free; let people refinance their student loan debt at the same low rates as people get to buy a car or a house; pay for this by imposing a tax on Wall Street speculation; the need to address income and wealth inequality; etc.