I want to take this opportunity to wish you and
yours a very happy new year. I also want to express my gratitude to you
for the political support that you have given to me, and for all of
your efforts in trying to move our country and the world in the
direction of peace, justice and environmental sanity.
As we survey our country at the end of 2013 I
don't have to tell you that the problems facing us are monumental, that
the Congress is dysfunctional and that more and more people (especially
the young) are, understandably, giving up on the political process. The
people are hurting. They look to Washington for help. Nothing is
- The middle class continues to decline with median family income some $5,000 less than it was in 1999.
Americans, 46.5 million, are now living in poverty than at any time in
our nation's history. Child poverty, at 21.8 percent, is the highest of
any major country.
unemployment is not 7 percent. If one includes those who have given up
looking for work and those who want full-time work but are employed
part-time, real unemployment is 13.2 percent -- and youth unemployment
is much higher than that.
of the new jobs that are being created are part-time work at low wages,
but the minimum wage remains at the starvation level of $7.25 per hour.
of college students are leaving school deeply in debt, while many
others have given up on their dream of a higher education because of the
as tens of millions of Americans struggle to survive economically, the
wealthiest people are doing phenomenally well and corporate profits are
at an all-time high. In fact, wealth and income inequality today is
greater than at any time since just before the Great Depression. One
family, the Walton family with its Wal-Mart fortune, now owns more
wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans. In recent years, 95
percent of all new income has gone to the top 1 percent.
scientific community has been very clear: Global warming is real, it is
already causing massive problems and, if we don't significantly reduce
greenhouse gas emissions, the planet we leave to our kids and
grandchildren will be less and less habitable.
if we are going to save the middle class and protect our planet, we
need to change the political dynamics of the nation. We can no longer
allow the billionaires and their think tanks or the corporate media to
set the agenda. We need to educate, organize and mobilize the working
families of our country to stand up for their rights. We need to make
government work for all the people, not just the 1 percent.
Before we talk about 2014, let me ask you a favor.
Do you know of friends, family or co-workers who might be interested in
receiving our email newsletters and updates? If you do, please forward
this email and encourage them to sign-up for occasional updates. They can sign-up for our emails by clicking here.
When Congress reconvenes for the 2014 session, here are a few
of the issues that I will be focusing on.
WEALTH AND INCOME INEQUALITY:
nation will not survive morally or economically when so few have so
much while so many have so little. It is simply not acceptable that the
top 1 percent owns 38 percent of the financial wealth of the nation,
while the bottom 60 percent owns all of 2.3 percent. We need to
establish a progressive tax system which asks the wealthy to start
paying their fair share of taxes, and which ends the outrageous
loopholes that enable one out of four corporations to pay nothing in
federal income taxes.
We need to make
significant investments in our crumbling infrastructure, in energy
efficiency and sustainable energy, in early childhood education and in
affordable housing. When we do that, we not only improve the quality of
life in our country and combat global warming, we also create millions
of decent paying new jobs.
We need to raise the
minimum wage to a living wage. We should pass the legislation which will
soon be on the Senate floor which increases the federal minimum wage
from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour, but we must raise that minimum
wage even higher in the coming years. We also need to expand our efforts
at worker-ownership. Employees will not be sending their jobs to China
or Vietnam when they own the places in which they work.
At a time
when only one in five workers in the private sector has a defined
benefit pension plan; half of Americans have less than $10,000 in
savings; and two-thirds of seniors rely on Social Security for more than
half of their income we must expand Social Security and make sure that
every American can retire with dignity.
financial crisis, huge Wall Street banks received more than $700 billion
in financial aid from the Treasury Department and more than $16
trillion from the Federal Reserve because they were "too big to fail."
Yet today, the largest banks in this country are much bigger than they
were before taxpayers bailed them out. It is time to break up these
behemoths before they cause another global economic collapse.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM:
not living in a real democracy when large corporations and a handful of
billionaire families can spend unlimited sums of money to elect or
defeat candidates. We must expand our efforts to overturn the disastrous
Supreme Court decision and move this country to public funding of elections.
While we have
made progress in recent years in expanding the rights of minorities,
women and gays, these advances are under constant attack from the right
wing. If the United States is to become the non-discriminatory society
we want it to be, we must fight to protect the rights of all Americans.
National Security Agency (NSA) and some of the other intelligence
agencies are out of control. We cannot talk about America as a "free
country" when the government is collecting information on virtually
every phone call we make, when they are intercepting our emails and
monitoring the websites we visit. Clearly, we need to protect this
country from terrorism, but we must do it in a way that does not
undermine our constitutional rights.
WAR AND PEACE:
With a large
deficit and an enormous amount of unmet needs, it is absurd that the
United States continues to spend almost as much on defense as the rest
of the world combined. The U.S. must be a leader in the world in nuclear
disarmament and efforts toward peace, not in the sale of weapons of
Let me conclude by once again wishing you a
happy and healthy new year -- and by asking you to share this email with
friends, family and co-workers. They can sign-up for our occasional emails by clicking here.
This is a tough and historical moment in
American history. Despair is not an option. Let us stand together as
brothers and sisters and fight for the America our people deserve.
Thank you for your continued support.
(image by Bernie Sanders)
Senator Bernie Sanders
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