Transcript: Congressman Bernie Sanders. Dec 31st 2004
New Year's Eve program with the independent Congressman from Vermont.
Thom Hartmann "Brunch" with Bernie Sanders 31 December 2004
[Thom Hartmann] ... And if you'd like to call in, the first hour of our program congressman Bernie Sanders is with us, our number is 1 866, that's toll free, 1-866-889-8894. For our listeners in Grand Rapids just a heads up, let you know that half way through the program at the bottom of the hour the show will be pre-empted by a local event and so if you have a call or question for congressman Sanders be sure to get it in early and to the folks in the chat room who are already asking, I have not seen the mouse this morning. We have a little mouse who lives outside the, outside the house. I look at him out the window and he's usually sitting out there and he's not, and I do see kitty prints. So, we had a name the mouse competition yesterday, maybe his name should be Catfood. I'll keep you up to date on that. Anyhow, it's time for our 'Brunch With Bernie' segment, congressman Bernie Sanders in 1991 became the first Independent congressman elected in 40 years to the House of Representatives, since been re-elected 7 times, the longest serving Independent in the entire 230 some odd year history of the House of Representatives. His website bernie.house.gov. If you'd like to be on the phone with him our number 1-866-889-8894. Bernie, welcome! Good morning! Happy New Year!
[Bernie Sanders] Happy New Year to you, Thom. Thanks for being with me today. Me being with you. Whatever the case may be.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah, there you go. It's a, somebody in the chat room said, made a comment, no, Shelby who runs RadioPower.org "the hardest working talk show host on radio and hardest-working member of Congress we're going to get through today, so here we are".
[Bernie Sanders] Who else would be on the air on New Year's Eve, right?
[Thom Hartmann] Well, you know, it's interesting. I, in that context, somebody made a comment to me the other day about, you know, why didn't Al Gore fight harder? And I think he actually, Al Gore fought pretty hard. I think he didn't, it wasn't until after the dust settled that he had any real idea how badly they had rigged the vote in Florida. But somebody asked the question, you know, why isn't John Kerry fighting harder? Why aren't the Democrats? Why doesn't the Democrat Party in general stand up against the Republicans? And it just hit me like a bolt of lightning that there are folks like you and I who are really, really very clear about our principles and our values and where we stand on the issues and what we are all about, and there are a number of good people like that in the Democratic Party but there's an awful lot of people also, and in the Republican Party as well, but I think that there's a lot of ideologues, true believers in the Republican Party. In the Democratic Party there's a lot of folks who are just trying to get by. And...
[Bernie Sanders] The word we use is called careerists.
[Thom Hartmann] Ah, OK, so...
[Bernie Sanders] Which means is, that the goal in life is to get elected. It's a good job and, you know, you get your name in the paper and you make some money and so forth and so on, rather than being passionate about trying to fight for change and improve the country.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah.
[Bernie Sanders] And yeah, you're quite right. In both parties there are many careerists, but in the Republican Party you have some driven people. You, you and I will agree that, you know, Tom Delay is a horrendous reactionary. But will also have to agree the guy works 24 hours a day, in fact is a true believer, and will do anything he can to win.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah, yeah. And I think that's, we need more of those in the Democratic Party.
[Bernie Sanders] Yeah, we sure do. But it's not only what we need in leadership positions. I think most importantly, and I try to make this point on this show many times. We need a change in the political culture. We need people to know they have power. And I just want to once more make a point that I've made in the past. In a nation which is politically divided, almost 50-50, why is it that commercial radio is full of right wing talk show hosts and why are there so few voices on commercial radio like yours? And what can ordinary people do about it? In community after community which voted overwhelmingly against Bush the only thing they're going to hear are right wing ideologues. Well, what can people do about it? They can contact their radio stations. They can say, 'Hey wait a minute! You know, we buy products. We listen to your show. We don't want to just hear right wing points of view. We want a balance out there.' People have power, and they've got to learn in a dozen different ways to exercise that power.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah. Well said, and with regard to radio also, support the sponsors of stations that you like.
[Bernie Sanders] Right, exactly, exactly.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah, and let them know why.
[Bernie Sanders] You know, we see time and time again on the networks, some, you know, some programming goes on which offends right wing people. 'Oh my goodness, they're going to boycott, they're going to do this, they're outraged by it.' And yet, on the same level you see people who are progressives sitting back and saying, 'Oh, nothing I can do about it'. Get your voices out there. Let's change the political culture and let's make 2005 the year that we involve millions of more people in the fight for justice and environmental sanity and moving toward a world of peace. We can do those things, but we have got to be active in political struggle in our communities and just stand up and fight back.
[Thom Hartmann] Well said. And in fact our quote for the day, Harriet Beecher Stowe, "Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn."
[Bernie Sanders] That is exactly, that is exactly right and I think, you know, you're a historian and you know this better than I do, but if you look through the pages of American history and look through some of those terrible, terrible moments of what this country did to Indians, what we did to, you know, African Americans, women not having the right to vote, what we did to immigrants who came into this country And people fought back and created a better country.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah, and labor.
[Bernie Sanders] This is a significant moment in American history. We've got to do the same.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah, and it's time for a revival of the labor movement as well. Let's go to the phone lines. We have a call from Grand Rapids. I know we're going to lose Grand Rapids at the bottom of the hour. So, Rick in Grand Rapids is on the line. Rick, welcome, you're live with congressman Bernie Sanders.
[Rick in Grand Rapids] Yes, happy new year Thom and Bernie
[Thom Hartmann] Thank you.
[Rick in Grand Rapids] And I think it's a very a propos comment you just made there Bernie, you know, for people that think when things look darkest, you know, there's no hope I have 3 words for them. "Boston Red Sox. And you guys know..."
[Rick in Grand Rapids] Remember how bad things looked?
[Bernie Sanders] Even I know that.
[Rick in Grand Rapids] They were trailing 3 games to nothing, they got beat 19 to 8.
[Bernie Sanders] That's right.
[Rick in Grand Rapids] Box score and all was lost. So never give up, right?
[Thom Hartmann] There you go.
[Bernie Sanders] That's right, and things change very, very quickly sometimes. That is exactly right, Rick.
[Rick in Grand Rapids] What I want to ask you, Bernie was, now this is something that concerns the other body, as you folks in Washington say, but, it may very well be that with Mr. Rehnquist in ill health that Mr. Bush will nominate probably either Scalia or Thomas and the right wingers are already going bonkers here by saying that if the Democrats filibuster, for example, Clarence Thomas, 'Oh, this really shows that the Liberals are actually racist, you know, they don't think Condoleezza Rice is qualified. They don't think Clarence Thomas is'. Do you think the Democrats, I know you're not a Democrat, Bernie, but do you think the Democrats are going to be cowed by that and say, 'Well, we'd better confirm Thomas, we'd better confirm Rice, because otherwise we'll be considered racist'.
[Bernie Sanders] Well, I think what you're going to see, Rick, is a huge propaganda effort on the part of the Republicans in a dozen different ways to try to cower Democrats into approving not only new Chief Justices but reactionary federal judges in general, and they will use every trick in the book. They will charge racism or religious bigotry or whatever it may be. The reality is that the filibuster exists in order to protect minority rule and it's a tool that Republicans have used for many, many years
[Thom Hartmann] Decades.
[Bernie Sanders] when they were in the minority and there really is an attack on that right now. And if the Democrats give up on that, in saying, 'Wait a minute, we have the right to prevent outrageous appointments' then there is no opposition to anything that Bush or the extreme right wing win. So, it's not just the Supreme Court chief justice. It's the whole ability of the Democratic Party in the Senate to remain strong and say, 'Wait a minute, you're not ramp anything you want through. We are going to fight back'.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah, as James Madison pointed out, the big difference between a republic and a democracy, and his definition, ultimately he ended up calling the United States a democracy, but the Conservatives like to point out his earlier, in Federalist number 10, I believe it was, definition is that in a republic the rights of the minorities are defended by law, whereas in a pure democracy, like the old Athenian Democracy, the rule of the majority is absolute. And this is your point, Bernie, that the filibuster rule protects the rights of the minority party, if they can at least be a 40% minority.
[Bernie Sanders] Right.
[Thom Hartmann] So not absolutely trammeled by the ...
[Bernie Sanders] Exactly. And it goes well beyond the Senate and the filibuster. What Tom Delay and his friends are prepared to do, which is really new, the degree to which they are doing it is. 'We have the votes. Therefore we will change the rules of the game and we will do anything that we want. We will undermine the constitution because we have the votes on the floor of the House and we will introduce legislation which says, "this legislation may not be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court." We have the votes to do that in the House. We have the votes to ramp through things the Senate and we're going to do away with this concept of a filibuster which protects the minority. We have the right because we chair, we are the Speaker of the House, and if the end of 17 minutes we are behind on a vote, such as the Prescription Drug Medicare Bill, you know what we'll do? We'll leave the voting rolls open for an hour, 2 hours, 3 hours, until we get the votes. We'll change the rules of the game.' So I think one of the areas that we have got to watch very, very carefully and fight back vigorously on is they've the greed to change the rules of the game. For example, right now Thom you may have seen in the papers, there are ethical rules in the House which the Republicans now, in order to protect Tom Delay, want to change so that people like Tom Delay who do things that are allegedly unethical, they will not be removed from positions.
[Thom Hartmann] Right, or even illegal. Even illegal, I mean, they want to say, even if he's indicted for a crime, he can still retain his power as long as he's not convicted.
[Bernie Sanders] So Rick's point is a very important point but it goes beyond, it goes it goes beyond just the appointment of a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. We have got now, in the Congress, those of us who are in the minority, have got to fight back vigorously to protect democracy and the rights of all the American people, I think in a fair shake.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah. This brings me back to the point I make over and over again on this program this is, in my opinion, and I may be wrong, but I think not, second only to the Ulysses S. Grant administration, and not even second to them, I think U. S. Grant was the number 2. He was, his administration was so corrupt that his own Republican Party wouldn't run him for a third term that he wanted, because of the railroad bribery scandals. And I think that this Bush administration is the most corrupted and morally corrupt and financially corrupt, legally cor- you know, by any definition of the word corruption, corrupt administration in the history of the United States.
[Bernie Sanders] Well, I think all that listeners and all Americans have got to do is take a look at the issues, and when you see a bill being proposed, or an initiative from the Bush administration just ask yourself, 'Who's going to benefit from this?' and in virtually every instance the beneficiaries are the large multinational corporations, Wall Street, pharmaceutical industry, the health insurance companies, etc. And that's in every single instance.
[Thom Hartmann] Well this is...
[Bernie Sanders] Those are the beneficiaries. Who's going to suffer from that? Working people, the middle class, seniors, lower income people. You go down the issues. You go whether it's our disastrous trade policy which is destroying the middle class and shipping corporate America, sold out the middle class and they're off to China big time, hiring people there at 30 or 50 cents an hour. That is, and issue after issue, that's what we're seeing.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah, absolutely. We're talking with congressman Bernie Sanders. It's our regular Friday afternoon session. The first hour of our 3 hour program. Brunch with Bernie! Congressman Bernie Sanders, bernie.house.gov his web site, 1-866-889-8894 if you'd like to be on the line with congressman Sanders. Twenty minutes after the hour on the Thom Hartmann program. ...
[Thom Hartmann] ... Ah, 'Auld Lang Syne'. Welcome back. The last day of the year. December 31st. The end of 2004. The beginning of 2005. Hopefully we can make it a much better year, a much better world. We're with congressman Bernie Sanders. It's our 'Brunch with Bernie' segment. 1-866-889-8894 our toll free number if you'd like to call in. Bernie, I understand you were on Fox News recently.
[Bernie Sanders] I was, Thom. Every once in a while I go on to Fox, and this time I had an opportunity to talk about an issue that you and I talk about a whole lot, and that is the decline of the American middle class and the growing gap between the rich and the poor and the disastrous role that our current trade policies with China and NAFTA are playing in losing us good paying jobs and the fact that corporate America is moving lock, stock and barrel out of America, selling our workers out, going over to China and building that country up to become what will clearly be the major economic power in the next 30 or 40 years. Now, this was what was interesting to me. You know, whenever you're on national television, you always get emails and telephone calls coming in, and we got a bunch in from the Fox audience. And 90%, and we got about 35, not a huge number, but 90% of the emails and phone calls came in from Fox viewers said, 'Right on, you're right'.
[Thom Hartmann] Wow, and you think of Fox viewers as people who are...
[Bernie Sanders] overwhelmingly Republican.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah, yeah.
[Bernie Sanders] And the point there is, and why it's important to keep banging away at these issues, is that ordinary Americans whether they are Conservative, whether they are Progressive, they understand that something tragic is happening in this country. That despite the explosion of technology, that despite the increase in worker productivity which should be increasing the wealth and the income of ordinary people; just the opposite is taking place. So people are producing more but they end up with less. They're working longer hours for lower wages. And one of the reasons that I really applaud you and this show for being one of the few shows that talks about this issue is we have a disastrous trade policy by which corporate America is now able to go to China, hire people for pennies, and ? people who can't stand up for their rights, have no religious freedom, have no environmental protection, go to jail if they try to form a union, and corporate America is saying, 'Why, what a good place to do business!' So billions and billions of dollars are being invested in China, not only in what is traditional manufacturing but increasingly information. technology. You have the founder of Intel, a fellow named Andy Grove saying China is going to be the information technology leader, along with India, in the next decade. You have the guy who's a fellow named John Chambers who's the CEO of Cisco, and he says, and I quote, 'China will become the IT center of the world, and we can have a healthy discussion about whether that's in 2020 or 2040.' And what is his strategy? He's of course taking Cisco to become a Chinese company. General Motors is going to move automotive production increasingly to China. What's left in America? And what the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us is that 7 out of the 10 fastest growing jobs in the next 10 years are going to be in the service industry: low wage, minimal benefit. My point here is you don't have to be a Progressive to understand that. Millions of Conservatives understand that as well. We can disagree on other issues, but people should stand together and tell corporate America, 'Stop selling out our country. It's the consumers, it's the workers who have made you the companies that you are. You can't desert this country.' And on top of that, these guys add insult to injury. They've got billions of dollars in corporate welfare and that is why, among other things, we're going to be introducing legislation to repeal permanent normal trade relations with China, to do away with corporate welfare for these companies that are deserting American workers.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah, good on you! You know, speaking of this whole thing, a year ago, I had Tom Tancredo on the show, the congressman.
[Bernie Sanders] Yep.
from Colorado, and I asked him if he could name one piece of legislation that had come out of the Republican House or Senate and been signed into law by George Bush in the at that point 2 and a half years, 3 years that Bush had been in, that benefited people rather than corporations. He was unable to name it. We have had a contest running for a year and a half now, I will give away a free copy of any one of the 15 books that I have written that are in print to anybody that can name one piece of legislation. Nobody has done it so far. It's incredible. Twenty nine minutes past the hour. I'll be right back. ...
Song: "Walk that walk. Talk that Talk"
[Thom Hartmann] That's what we've got to do. 1-866-889-8894 our telephone number. This is the Thom Hartmann radio program. Congressman Bernie Sanders with us. The first hour of our program every Friday. It's our 'Brunch with Bernie' segment. Congressman Bernie Sanders America's Independent congressman. 1-866-889-8894. Bernie, let's go to the phones, here. We have Mark in Clarkesville, Tennessee on the line. Mark, welcome to the program.
[Mark in Tennessee] Hi Thom, happy new year to you.
[Thom Hartmann] Thank you.
[Mark in Tennessee] Happy new year to the congressman Sanders, too. My question is for congressman Sanders. Now, we have a congressman who is going to challenge the vote.
[Thom Hartmann] This being John Conyers, you mean.
[Mark in Tennessee] Yes sir, and I'm wondering now he's sent letters out to all the Democratic senators. Does congressman Sanders have any friends that he could get to stand up? I mean, the black caucus couldn't do it in, 4 years ago, does he have anyone who could? And the other question I have for him is, I had heard that Rumsfeld made a Freudian slip and talked about the plane that went down on 9/11 in Pennsylvania being shot down and I have had that in the back of my mind all along that it actually was not the people in the plane taking over and crashing the plane and what his thoughts are about that. And I will hang up and listen to his answers.
[Thom Hartmann] OK, great, thank you Mark.
[Bernie Sanders] Mark, I'm afraid I don't know more about the 9/11 situation than you do. My assumption is that it was in fact the struggle of the people on board that brought it down. In terms of the vote situation, I'm not sure that there will be a senator who will challenge the vote. I think the key state where there has been controversy is the state of Ohio and the people who I know in Ohio have been outraged by a number of situations where voting lines, for example, were much, much too long because voting machines were not properly allocated in Democratic issues, in Democratic areas. But none of them, to my knowledge, believe that that would have resulted in the kind of votes to enable Kerry to have won. So I'm not sure how far that challenge is going to go.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah. So you're pessimistic that a senator will stand up on this.
[Bernie Sanders] Yeah, I don't think so, and frankly, I think what we have to conclude, some people may not want to hear this, Bush won the election. And the lesson here is that not only in Ohio but all over this country, we continue to have a voting process which is totally archaic and totally insane. You have written about, Thom, and talked often, about these horrendous touch screen balloting machines which leave no trace, and that is an outrage. A lot of things that we have gotta focus on to make sure that every vote in America is counted.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah.
[Bernie Sanders] It is not my view that Kerry ended up winning this election so I am not particularly sympathetic about going over that issue again.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah. I, the problem in my mind, over and over again, is that there is no evidence that George Bush won - that's not to say he didn't - but there's no evidence that he did because we had privatized the vote.
[Bernie Sanders] Well that's right. And that's got to stop. And that's...
[Thom Hartmann] Of all the things to privatize!
[Bernie Sanders] Yeah. And that would be true no matter who won.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah.
[Bernie Sanders] Given the voting machines that exist, right?
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah, yeah, and this...
[Bernie Sanders] I think that's an issue that we do have to focus on and again, in the year 2004 how could it be, with all of the technology out there that people in Florida, people in Ohio, people elsewhere were waiting hours and hours to vote. That's insane and totally irresponsible and has to be dealt with.
[Thom Hartmann] And how can it be that Diebold says that they don't want to or, you know, they don't make voting machines that produce receipts but they make ATMs and Ticketron machines.
[Bernie Sanders] Absolutely. A total nonsense. And the whole issue of the so-called intellectual property rights for the functioning of these machines to rest in private hands is totally unacceptable.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah. The software. OK. 1-866-889-8894 our telephone number. Israel, in Columbus, Ohio on the line. Hey Israel, welcome to the program.
[Israel in Ohio] Hi Thom, happy new year to you and happy new year to you congressman Sanders. I got a question because I do like, congressman, your opinion and your view on why you and people like you won't join something like the Democratic Party, take it from within and run to the highest office in the land?
[Bernie Sanders] Well that's, why I don't join the Democrats?
[Israel in Ohio] Yeah, why you won't join and take, because I believe that you easily can lead this country to a better situation or better condition! You're the kind of guy the Democrats need, Bernie.
[Bernie Sanders] Well, thank you very much Israel, that's a very kind remark. I think the role that I feel comfortable in playing is one who works with progressive Democrats in Congress and here in my home State of Vermont. I helped form the Progressive Coalition which now has over 50 progressive members.
[Thom Hartmann] This is the Progressive Caucus in Congress.>/p>
[Bernie Sanders] Progressive Caucus, right, I'm sorry. The Progressive Caucus in Congress which is now chaired by Barbara Lee and Dennis Kucinich. The role that I feel most comfortable playing is kind of standing a little bit outside and raising issues that the Democratic Party often will not raise and having the freedom to do that. And also having the freedom to kind of go outside a lot of this partisan nonsense that tales place and talk the issues to working people in the middle class that resonates so, what I have been doing since I have been an elected officer - I was mayor of the City of Burlington for 8 years in Vermont, congressman since 1991 - I'm comfortable with the role that I am playing. But I thank Israel very much for his kind thoughts.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah. Thank you, Israel, and happy new year to you. 1-866-889-8894 our number, Albert in Arizona on the line. Hey Albert, you're live with congressman Sanders.
[Albert in Arizona] Hey, how are you?
[Thom Hartmann] Good.
[Albert in Arizona] I've got a quick suggestion in here. For years and years, for the last 30 years I've been playing the lotteries in Arizona and Washington State and so on, and I'm sure millions of people have done the same. We picked up our numbers, we give it to the attendant, and they give us our receipt with our pick of the numbers, and if we win, the attendant can run that receipt and tell you how much you won or if you didn't win. Now, in the voting process, if we had a machine that we elect our, whatever officials we elect, it will produce a piece of paper sort of like a lottery ticket and have a second machine next to it to scan it, just totally independent from the first one just to verify that vote.
[Bernie Sanders] Yes.
[Albert in Arizona] And not only you will have the recording of the first one, but the second one as well, which avoids fraud.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah, this is called...
[Bernie Sanders] Albert, I think you've, I think you're absolutely right. That is the kind of approach that should be used to make sure that people's votes, all votes, are in fact counted and verified, are there if necessary for recount. The technology is there to do it today and you are absolutely right.
[Thom Hartmann] How is it...
[Bernie Sanders] That's the direction we've got to go.
[Thom Hartmann] How is it, Bernie, that Con... Thank you Israel, Albert, rather, for that call. How is it that Congress, that the Republicans pushed so hard for the Help America Vote Act in 2002 that allocated 3.8 billion dollars to the States to hand off the largest chunk of those billions of dollars to Diebold, Sequoia, ES&S, companies, ES&S and Diebold in particular that have a history of, shall we say, Conservative connections, that, that, why were the Republicans so aggressive in pushing this, this end of it, and yet at the same time Rush Holt comes out with his bill, and Hillary Clinton introduced a similar one in the Senate, that says, 'well that's fine if you are going to have the machines', which I, you know, I object even to the part about, you know, privatizing the software like you said, but here's Rush Holt's bill that says, 'OK, if you're going to have the machines, at least you have to produce a voter-verified paper ballot', which is what Albert was just talking about, that can then be scanned in the event of a recount. An actual ballot that the voter can look at and say, 'yes, that's how I voted'. Why will Tom Delay, Tom, Bill, ah, Dennis Hastert and Bill Frist refuse to bring either of these bills to the House or the Senate floor for even a discussion?
[Bernie Sanders] Well, that's a good question. I mean, I don't want to get paranoid on that issue because, you know, many States are controlled by Democrats who control these machines in a way. But, there's no question that Albert is exactly right. That is what we need to do and that's what we've got to fight for. Rush Holt of New Jersey has a very good bill in which we do, I think, to a significant degree what Albert is talking about. It is of the highest priority and we've got to move forward on that.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah, one of the big challenges, Bernie, that I have in producing this program, or I should say Louise has in producing this program, is getting Conservatives on to debate with me. It's one of my favorite things to do and increasingly they simply won't come on and talk with us. And we have been looking for a year now for any Conservative, be it a politician or just, you know, Conservative commentary, to come on and defend the Republican position in the House and Senate of refusing to go along with Rush Holt's bill which would simply make a verified ballot, and you would think that the Republicans would think, 'Well, some day the Democrats might be in charge, or ...'
[Bernie Sanders] And what I don't want to do here Thom is get totally paranoid, tell you every, you know.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah, well I'm starting to feel that way, Bernie.
[Bernie Sanders] The truth is that the majority of people in the Congress want honest elections.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah.
[Bernie Sanders] They do. And your question is a very good question.
[Thom Hartmann] But what are they saying to you? Cos they won't talk to me, I mean, what possible rationale, what do they say when they say, 'We don't support Rush Holt's bill'. Why?
[Bernie Sanders] It's, I mean, the truth is, that's not the way it works. There are so many pieces of legislation out there. I mean I could talk to you about 20 pieces of legislation which will never see the light of day.
[Thom Hartmann] Ah ha.
[Bernie Sanders] In the House we pass by I think 70 or 80 votes a, what we call Prescription Drug Importation Bill which would lower the cost of medicine in this country by 25 to 50%. In the Senate now Frist will not give them a vote because the votes are there to defeat that. So there are probably many, many instances, not probably, there definitely many instances where we have the votes to do some good things, and the leadership says, 'Sorry, that's not going to come up because our special interests don't want it to come up'.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah, so maybe it's just the voting machine companies don't want it or something.
[Bernie Sanders] I think so. I think probably more that. But it is an issue which is resonating all across America and I think that the vast majority of the American people, regardless of what their political point of view is, want to know that the person who won the election is the person who got the most votes and they want to see verification of that. So this is gong to become a major, major issue in the new Congress.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah, and I'm, I have to tell you, Bernie, not an hour goes by on this program I don't hear from somebody about it.
[Bernie Sanders] Yeah. No, I understand. Every time I ... I hear that as well
[Thom Hartmann] It is really hot. It is really hot. On your website, house.bernie. , excuse me, bernie.house.gov, on your web site, this article, which really struck me, 'Rumors are swirling in the wake of President Bush’s recent visit to Canada and the increasingly critical comments by Canada’s Health Minister about Americans purchasing prescription drugs...' that followed Bush’s visit. Did Bush really convince the Canadians to shut off the prescription drug life line to low-income seniors in the U.S.?
[Bernie Sanders] Well, here's what's going on there, here's what's going on, and I've been very active personally on this issue for the last 5 years. Americans pay by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. Much higher for the same exact medicine they do in Canada and in Europe. And one of the ways that some of us have thought that we can move to a Conservative Congress is to say, 'Look, we import products from all over the world', I'm not a free trader, many of these guys are, 'why not safe, FDA-approved prescription drugs?' Well, that principle won in the House, very strong vote. We have the votes in the Senate. Four or five States have already moved in that direction. So that millions of Americans are now buying medicine in Canada, some in Europe. Needless to say the drug companies who contribute very heavily at the Bush and the Republican leadership are not happy about that development. So what has happened is the Bush administration has done everything that they can to stop this re-importation legislation in the Congress at the same time now they have put enormous pressure on Canada to try to stop the flow as well. And there is some evidence that Bush has been over there making that point to Mr. Martin who is now the Prime Minister of Canada and the pharmaceutical industry in Canada is also putting pressure on the government and appears they may be having some success. I've just been on the phone, just yesterday as a matter of fact, with some people in the Canadian parliament to see what we can do to make sure that Americans will be able to continue to buy safe and affordable medicine there.
[Thom Hartmann] Remarkable. Remarkable. It's...
[Bernie Sanders] But it's the power. What you're looking at now, it's the same old story. It's the power of corporate money which essentially owns the Bush administration in prescription drugs, in health care, in trade, in you name the issue. You name the issue, and they're there. Tax breaks, they go to the very wealthy.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah. Yeah, well said. 1-866-889-8894 our telephone number, Alison, Humboldt County, California. Alyce, welcome to the program.
[Alyce in Humboldt County] Thank you. Why do you think the GOP leadership would not make the voting machines verifiable? Why do you think they still won't let it happen? They planned to steal the election and they did it.
[Bernie Sanders] Well, that's the issue that Thom just raised. 1 don't think it's quite that simple. I can't give you an answer but what I can tell you is, that is at the top of my priorities. You know, I think sometimes in politics, it doesn't do us too much good to become paranoid. My guess is, that on election day, we may not like it, but the reality is George Bush got more votes than John Kerry and our job is to go out and organize and do the very hard work to get people involved in the political process. To understand why millions of working people who have no health insurance, who are working longer hours for lower wages ended up voting for Bush.
[Thom Hartmann] Yes.
[Bernie Sanders] And I think we should...
[Thom Hartmann] This is really the larger question. I mean, even if Bush did steal the election, let's just say for a moment that there really was a conspiracy and it did get stolen, still, even if he stole the election, still, there were tens of millions of Americans who voted in favor of him against their own economic interest. We have to reach those people, educate those people. He should have lost by 90%, he should, you know,
[Bernie Sanders] That's right, I mean.
[Thom Hartmann] It shouldn't have been 50-50.
[Bernie Sanders] But I don't wanna, I think when we throw that, it's too easy an answer. 'Oh well, they stole the election'. No, I think we should have ended up on election day with more votes for John Kerry. That's what I believe. And it's just too simple to say, 'Well, you know, they manipulated all the voting machines.' I think that's a significant degree of paranoia because it then begs the issue that you are raising. And it makes it easy for people to say, 'Oh, I don't have to do anything, because these guys are going to steal it'
[Thom Hartmann] Right, the important thing is that we be educating, organizing, and active.
[Bernie Sanders] And working, yes.
[Thom Hartmann] And working on an ongoing basis. It's congressman Bernie Sanders, 'Brunch with Bernie', first hour of the Thom Hartmann program every Friday. Ten minutes before the hour...
[Thom Hartmann] And welcome back, Thom Hartmann here with congressman Bernie Sanders, it's our 'Brunch with Bernie' segment. Spike in eastern Pennsylvania on the line. Hey Spike, welcome to the show.
[Spike in E Pennsylvania] Hi, hello, thank you. I hope we my signal isn't too messed up where I am right now, I work ? for a living
[Bernie Sanders] I hear you perfectly.
[Spike in E Pennsylvania] But I would just like to say real quick, the whole reason I got a satellite radio is because of this show when I saw it on CSPAN leading up to the election and I'd like to thank you for that.
[Thom Hartmann] Thank you.
[Spike in E Pennsylvania] My question is to Mr. Sanders, you were talking about how prescription drugs are cheaper in Canada and everywhere, I've also bought items like clothing, back packs from Canada and I've discovered that, like, let's say it's 70 dollars for a back pack in this country. You could go to a store in Canada and pay 70 dollars in their money which in reality converts to a lot cheaper, you know. Same with hats and all of that. I was wondering, cos I don't really understand economics as well as other things in the world of politics and government. I was just wondering if maybe you could explain that a little bit more.
[Thom Hartmann] OK. Thank you, Scott, Spike.
[Bernie Sanders] Ah, I don't know the answer. We live about an hour away from the Candadian border. Some products are in fact are cheaper, some in fact are more expensive. In terms of prescription drugs, the reason that medicine in Canada is perhaps 50% on average less than it is in the United States in American dollars is because the Canadian government, like every other industrialized country negotiates with the drug companies and prevents them from charging any price that they want to charge. The United States is the only country in the world where there is no law to prevent the drug companies from doubling the price of the medicine that you use, doubling that for tomorrow.
[Thom Hartmann] Right.
[Bernie Sanders] We're the only country in the world that allows that.
[Thom Hartmann] OK, very, very...
[Bernie Sanders] That is why prescription drugs are much cheaper in Canada and Europe.
[Thom Hartmann] And very quickly, we've only got about 30 seconds left, here, Scott in San Diego. Quick question?
[Scott in San Diego] Yeah, it's really fast. How come at the exit polls, no-one's paying attention to exit polls where they're really off, in counties in Ohio? Exit polls are used in other countries to verify a vote. They're off in those counties where machines were used and they're all in favor of Bush, like this seems like a lot of fraud to me.
[Thom Hartmann] OK. Bernie?
[Bernie Sanders] Well, I'm not, you know, I know people who worked very hard in the Ohio elections. Spent months and months and months of their lives. They do not believe that Kerry won the State. That's all that I can say.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah, it's just, this is a tough one. It's just a tough one. Thank you Bernie, congressman Bernie Sanders, for being with us today. Hope you have a wonderful..
[Bernie Sanders] OK, Thom, thank you. Have a wonderful new year.
[Thom Hartmann] You too, have a great new year. I so appreciate you being with us this year and look forward to next year with you as well.
[Bernie Sanders] That's mutual. Keep up the great work.
[Thom Hartmann] Thanks, you too. It's the Thom Hartmann radio program. The real free speech zone. No barbed wire, no admission passes, no RNC permission required...