After months with no solution to passing Pres. Biden’s Build Back Better plan, progressive Senator Bernier Sanders (I-VT) has a message for Democrats: don’t turn your backs on working class people.
In an exclusive interview with The Guardian, Sanders warned the Democratic party about the consequences of failing to achieve solutions directed at working class people such as: cutting the cost of prescription drugs, extending the child tax credit and raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.
“It is no great secret that the Republican party is winning more and more support from working people,” Sanders said. “It’s not because the Republican party has anything to say to them. It’s because in too many ways the Democratic party has turned its back on the working class.”
Although Biden has been successful at cutting child poverty through direct stimulus packages and child tax credits from the American Rescue Plan, Sanders says the stalling of the Build Back Better plan means Democrats should pivot to addressing individual components of the proposal.
Bernie wants Dems to focus on income inequality
“There is a disconnect between the realities of their lives and what goes on in Washington,” Sanders told The Guardian. All together, the Build Back Better plan would provide funding for a continuation of child tax credits, universal pre-K education, lower healthcare costs, and combating climate change, among other issues.
With “moderate” Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) dropping support for Biden’s agenda after forcing his colleagues to engage in endless negotiations for months, Democrats have turned their attention to passing voting rights legislation. They hope to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would strengthen the original Voting Rights Act of 1965, which would force states to receive approval before altering their election laws.
Democrats also hope to pass the For the People Act, which would expand voting rights, limit partisan gerrymandering, and establish new ethics and finance laws. As states like Texas and Georgia implement laws that make it more difficult for people to vote, Republican leaders have faced accusations of voter suppression even as some of their far-right members continue to spout lies about the 2020 presidential election.
“The right thing to do”
While Bernie Sanders supports both bills, he says everyday Americans are most worried about issues such as “low wages, dead-end jobs, debt, homelessness, lack of healthcare.”
“The truth of the matter is people are going to work, and half of them are living paycheck to paycheck,” Sanders said. “People are struggling with healthcare, with prescription drugs. Young families can’t afford childcare. Older workers are worried to death about retirement.”
The democratic socialist who almost became president has long railed against powerful corporations from the pharmaceutical industry to Wall Street. Income inequality in the U.S. has been steadily rising since 1980 and is worse than in other advanced nations, according to the Pew Research Center.
Ultimately, Sanders believes Democrats will lose in the 2022 midterm elections if they don’t provide substantial relief to working class people.
The Democrats have to make clear that they’re on the side of the working class and ready to take on the wealthy and powerful. That is not only the right thing to do, but I think it will be the politically right thing to do,” Sanders said.