Independent Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, went on the record Monday with his top priorities for 2014. In his video, “Plant Your Flag,” Sen. Sanders outlined the issues he wants to push heading into the new year. His pitch was critical of both Republicans and Democrats, but landed most of the blame for a dysfunctional Washington on the ‘extreme right-wing of the Republican party.’
The progressive agenda Sanders describes encompasses 5 issues: the economy, health care, global warming, education and election reform.
Sanders’ economic plan centers around four components: raising the minimum wage, investing in jobs through infrastructure programs, protecting social safety net programs like Medicare and Social Security, and breaking up the large financial institutions that received taxpayer bailout funds.
When it comes to healthcare, Sanders thinks that the Affordable Care Act didn’t do enough to fix the system. He’s proposing a move to single-payer:
“[H]ow does it happen that here in the United States we are spending almost twice as much per person on health care as the people of any other nation and yet our health care outcomes in many respects are not is good. So to my mind what we have got to do is move forward toward a medicare for all, single-payer system, guarantees healthcare or people as a right and it does it in a much more cost-effective way and the current dysfunctional system.”
According to a poll conducted by USA Today, over half of those polled felt global warming would become a “very serious” problem in the future if nothing was done about it. Eighty-one percent felt it would become either a serious or somewhat serious problem for the U.S.
Education is one of the issues Senator Sanders has been very vocal about. In July, Sanders went on the Senate floor to protest the passing of the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act that would potentially raise costs for students. In a statement, he said he plans to amend the Higher Education Act in 2014 to make college more affordable for students.
Sanders is a big proponent of overturning the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC through a constitutional amendment. The only legal remedy to corporate person-hood is through a 28th amendment. The campaign finance issue puts Sanders squarely in opposition to the Senate GOP leadership, as Mitch McConnell has openly championed the Citizens United decision.
“[W]hat we need to do is the happy a series of ideas we have to have some very specific legislation that the American people can rally around”
He’s been flirting with a prospective 2016 presidential bid and said he was “prepared to run” earlier this month during an interview on MSNBC. Few candidates have made a serious run for president outside of the support of a major or minor party. Whether or not Senator Sanders is going to remains to be seen.