As part of our #Transcripts2020 project, we are pleased to release the transcript of Bernie Sanders on Joe Rogan Experience #1330. An editable version is available here. All transcripts of this series are available here.
0:00:03 Joe Rogan: And we’re live. Hello, Bernie.
0:00:05 Bernie Sanders: How are you, Joe?
0:00:06 JR: Wonderful. Pleasure to meet you.
0:00:07 BS: Nice to meet you.
0:00:08 JR: It’s exciting to have you here, man. And it’s obviously an exciting time for you. Presidential campaign is up in full swing. Do you get frustrated by the time constraints of the debates?
0:00:21 BS: Absolutely. You shouldn’t even call them a debate. What they are is a reality TV show in which you have to come up with a sound bite and all that stuff. And it’s the meaning, it’s the meaning to the candidates, and it’s the meaning to the American people. You can’t explain the complexity of healthcare in America in 45 seconds, nobody can.
0:00:45 JR: Why is it still done that way? Have you tried to… Let’s pull this thing, bring it right there. There you go.
0:00:51 BS: I think the DNC is in a difficult position. They have 20 plus candidates and they wanna give everybody a fair shot, which is the right thing to do. And then if you’re gonna have 10 candidates up on the stage, what do you do? But there are other ways that we’ve gotta do it because the issues facing this country are so enormous and in some cases so complicated, nobody in the world can honestly explain them in 45 seconds. And then that what encourages people to do is to come up with sound bites or do absurd things up. So if I yelled and screamed on this show, I took my clothes off, it would get a lot of publicity, right?
0:01:25 JR: Yeah.
0:01:25 BS: But if you give a thoughtful answer to a complicated question, it’s not so sexy for the media.
0:01:29 JR: Well, you don’t even have a chance to give a thoughtful answer. Like Tulsi Gabbard went after Kamala Harris and then Kamala Harris had about 12 seconds to reply to it. It was so ridiculous. To have something that’s such an important issue, like, “Did you or did you not put all those people in jail for marijuana? Did you laugh about it? Did this happen? Did that happen?” All these different things. “Was evidence withheld?” These are a long conversations.
0:01:55 BS: But it takes us to another issue, that as a nation we do a pretty bad job in analyzing and discussing the serious issues facing our country. And I hold the media to some degree responsible for that. You know, other countries, what they do is they say, “Joe, you wanna run for president?” It’ll tell whether you’re a party in the general election. “We’re gonna give you a certain amount of time, hours, on television, and you use those hours anyway you want. You wanna 15 minute discourse… ” Do you remember Ross Perot?
0:02:24 JR: Yes.
0:02:25 BS: And people used to laugh at Ross Perot because he used to get up there with a chart and all this stuff and the media made fun of him. But in fact, he tried in his own way to explain his point of view to the American people. And we need serious discussion on serious issues.
0:02:39 JR: Well, he had the… Because he was so rich, he had the ability to buy airtime on network television, which is pretty unprecedented. He just bought a chunk of air time and then plead his case.
0:02:50 BS: But you know what goes on in other countries? You don’t have to buy that time. The obligation is, if you are a network you’re gonna make that time free and available to candidates.
0:03:00 JR: Do you think that that’s something that could be viable in America? Could you convince CBS and NBC and ABC to go along with something like that?
0:03:08 BS: No, you couldn’t convince them. You’d have to pass legislation to make that happen.
0:03:11 JR: But everyone’s online today. I mean the entire country is essentially getting email and Facebook and all that jazz. Like why bother doing it in this particular medium that has an inherent time constraint?
0:03:24 BS: Well, you’re right. I mean the internet has revolutionized politics. And in many ways, good ways. We use our social media, our email list, which is very large, everyday we’re sending out stuff and other candidates are doing it the same way. But television still has a very important role to be playing.
0:03:41 JR: I’m sure it does, but I mean the ability to discuss things in long form like you can do online, like you can do right here right now, you can’t get that on television.
0:03:51 BS: Well, you could. I mean if you had…
0:03:53 JR: Could you?
0:03:53 BS: Sure, you could.
0:03:54 JR: But they would have to interrupt you every 15 minutes or so for commercials.
0:03:56 BS: No, no, no, no. No, what I’m saying about is what goes on in other countries. If I’m not mistaken, don’t hold me to this. I think in the UK, you remember the Labor Party? You’re a candidate. “Here’s 30 minutes of time and you do with it as you want. You wanna speak 30 minutes on healthcare, whatever it may be, you can do that.”
0:04:12 JR: Really?
0:04:13 BS: Yeah.
0:04:13 JR: And they don’t interrupt with commercials or just… Right.
0:04:14 BS: No, no, no, no. That’s the law that they have given… This is the candidate’s opportunity to speak at length to the people of the country.
0:04:23 JR: What are the misconceptions of you? ‘Cause here’s the… If you go to the knee-jerk conservative reaction, you talk to people who are not interested in anyone that wants to be a democratic socialist, they hear the name Bernie Sanders. The negative implications are that you are somehow or another going to take their money.
0:04:42 BS: Right.
0:04:42 JR: Right? Is that annoying to you?
0:04:44 BS: Yes, it is. Of course, it is. And also then I’m Mr. Maduro. I’m a dictator, I love dictatorships and all that stuff. And the truth is, Joe, that if you look at the issues that I campaign on and what I believe in, they are really not terribly radical. They exist in many countries all over the world. For example, we can start on healthcare if you’d like. Is the idea that healthcare is a human right, not a privilege, a radical idea?
0:05:13 JR: I don’t think it is.
0:05:14 BS: It’s not. And the truth is we are the only major country on Earth… Many people don’t know this. We’re the only major country on Earth not to guarantee healthcare to all people as a human right, and yet we end up spending almost twice as much per capita on health care. The function, and you can argue with me if you want, but the function of the current healthcare system is not to provide quality care to all, it is to make tens of billions of dollars in profit for the drug companies and the insurance companies. That’s the function. If you go to Canada, and I live 50 miles away from the Canadian boarder, you have major heart surgery, you’re in the hospital for a month. Do you know what the bill is when you get out?
0:05:52 JR: Zero.
0:05:52 BS: You got it. You go to any doctor you want, you don’t have to take out your wallet. And yet they guarantee healthcare to all of their people and they spend one half of what we spend. That’s kind of what I wanna do and I don’t think that that’s terribly radical. We have a program now, which everybody knows, it’s called Medicare, it was started by Lyndon Johnson back in 1965. It is a popular program. All that I wanna do, over a four-year period, is to expand it. Today, eligibility age is 65, I wanna take it down to 55, 45, 35, everybody, over a four-year period, that’s about it. And I wanna expand benefits to include dental care, hearing aids, and eyeglasses as well. That’s about it, not too radical.
0:06:31 JR: That doesn’t sound radical at all. Now, when you say that they… That Canada spends less, obviously they have less people. You mean less per capita?
0:06:37 BS: Yes, half per capita. Exactly, per capita.
0:06:38 JR: Half per capita.
0:06:39 BS: And the quality of care is as good or better. Do they have problems? Yeah, they have problems. Everybody has problems. But overall the healthcare experts will tell you the quality of care there is as good or better than it is in our country.
0:06:53 JR: So what’s the hurdle?
0:06:54 BS: Okay, I’ll tell you exactly what the hurdle is. The hurdle is exactly the same thing as in every other aspect of our lives, it’s the power of money. Alright, listen to this. Over the last 20 years the drug companies alone have spent $4.5 billion in 20 years on lobbying and campaign contributions. That’s what we’re up against. The knowledge… And I… Mark my words, within a short period of time you will see TV ads in California, all over this country demonizing Bernie Sanders, “He wants to do this terrible thing to you, he wants to do that.” They have unbelievable amounts of money, and politicians are frightened of that power. I’ll give you one example. Back in 2016, I got involved here in a little way with an effort on the part of the nurses to control the cost of prescription drugs in California. You may recall that effort.
0:07:48 JR: I do.
0:07:50 BS: It was a ballot item in one state here in California. Do you know how much the drug companies alone spent to defeat that effort? They spent $131 million on one ballot item in one state. Alright, last year the top 10 drug companies made $69 billion. A week ago, I went to Canada with a number of Americans who are dealing with diabetes. We bought insulin in Windsor, Ontario for one-tenth of the price, 10% of the price, same exact product being charged in America. So you’ve got drug companies that are engaged in collusion and in price fixing who are incredibly greedy and the result is many elderly people, many working people, simply cannot afford the medicine they need. This is… It’s unbelievable. And the reason for all of that stuff is we are the only country in the world that does not negotiate with the drug companies. They can charge you any price they want, and that has to do with the fact that we don’t have a national healthcare program, Medicare is not negotiating, etcetera.
0:08:47 JR: Is this something that can really be implemented inside of four years?
0:08:50 BS: Yeah, surely…
0:08:50 JR: It seems like it’s an enormous endeavor.
0:08:53 BS: Well, I want you to think back. Think back, Joe. In 1965 you had Lyndon Johnson as President. And by the way, this idea of national healthcare, this has been talked about literally since Teddy Roosevelt. It’s not a new concept. Healthcare is a human right. That’s what Teddy Roosevelt was talking about, that’s what FDR was talking about. Harry Truman was talking about it. Kennedy was talking about it. Kennedy got killed, Lyndon Johnson picked up the mantle. And their idea was, according to people in their administration, “We’ll start with the elderly who are most impacted by healthcare costs and sickness. We’ll start… ” And they did. In 1965 without the technology we have today, they implemented Medicare, 19 million people, elderly people, signed up in the first year. So, if you could start a brand new program and have 19 million people sign up with the technology that is way, way behind where we are today, why can’t we over a four-year period simply expand that program? I don’t think it’s such a difficult operation.
0:09:55 JR: So when you talk about the drug companies and the lobbyists and the enormous amount of money that they spend, is this… Does this exist anywhere else other than the United States, lobbyists on that level?
0:10:05 BS: No, no, of course not. And the reason… You know, in Canada what you have is you have a national healthcare program and so forth. And they sit down and a, they negotiate with the drug companies. They have their own approach. But every other major country on earth says to the drug companies, “Of course you can’t charge us any price you want. This is a reasonable price. Tell me what your profits are, what your expenditures are, this is the price.” For us, you can walk in… You know, if you have an illness, you could walk into the pharmacy tomorrow and the price has been doubled and you say to the pharmacist, “What happened?” He’s like, “They just raised their prices.” They could do it any day they want, any price they want.
0:10:40 JR: Now, lobbyists are… In general, when people talk about lobbyists, it’s an unattractive term. We think of it in terms of a negative, we don’t think of, “Oh, thank God there’s lobbyists.” We think, “Wow, there’s someone with enormous amounts of money using that money to gain influence on politicians and it shapes regular people, it shapes our lives mostly in a negative way.” This is the way most people look at them. I’m not saying it’s correct. Why do we have that system in place? Like, why do we have lobbyists? Why is it legal for someone to spend exorbitant amounts of money to affect our civilization, to affect the way our culture works?
0:11:19 BS: Alright, now you’re taking us into a whole new area.
0:11:23 JR: Yeah.
0:11:23 BS: Alright, let’s look. Can I… Let me detour and I’ll come back.
0:11:25 JR: Yes. Please do, please do.
0:11:26 BS: Okay, alright. Today in America you’ve got three people earning more wealth than the bottom half of the American society. You don’t see that on television too much, yeah?
0:11:39 JR: No, you don’t.
0:11:40 BS: Three people. You’ve got the top 1% earning more wealth than the bottom 92%. Listen to this, this is a statistic we recently saw, came from the Federal Reserve. Over the last 30 years the top 1% has seen a $21 trillion increase in their wealth, the bottom half of America has seen a $900 billion decline in their wealth. So what you have in America today is a relatively small number of incredibly wealthy people. And I deal with these guys every day. People say, “Oh, you’re talking about rich. You don’t know what rich is, what multi-billion dollar operations are.” Incredible power over our society. And if you were the pharmaceutical industry, and last year 10 companies made $69 billion in profit, you’re sitting around right now saying, “Alright, that’s great. How do we do better next year? What strategy do we have? We gotta put up a lot of ads on.”
0:12:31 BS: “We’re gonna work with other… ” During the CNN debate that I participated in recently, in the debate, right in the middle of the debate, the drug companies and the insurance companies had an ad telling how bad so-called… How bad Medicare-For-All would be. So they’re smart guys, and they use their power over politicians, they use their power over the media, they spend billions of dollars on advertising on media to make sure that they make as much as they can in profit. But it’s not any different with Wall Street, it’s not any different with the fossil fuel industry, or the prison industrial complex. These guys have wealth, they have power, and they could care less about the needs of working people in this country. And that’s the dynamic of American politics right now. And in our campaign, look, we’re taking them all on, and I know it makes a lot of people uncomfortable. But we are taking on all of these entities, and all of their wealth, and all of their power, and that’s what a political revolution is about.
0:13:27 JR: So the real problem seems to be that they have this strategy of unlimited growth. Not that they’re not providing medication that people need to save their lives. It’s obviously important to have pharmaceutical companies.
0:13:38 BS: Absolutely. Of course, of course.
0:13:40 JR: Right. So there’s good that they provide, but the business aspect of it is where the problem lies, right?
0:13:45 BS: Right. Look, they have great researchers, but if you check how they even spend their money… They will tell you that they spend all of their money on research and development, “We’re tackling cancer, we’re tackling diabetes, Alzheimer’s.” The truth is, of course they are. But the bulk of their money is going often to what we call “Me too” drugs. They make modest changes in a drug which really doesn’t improve people’s well-being in order to make profits. So the answer is yes, we need obviously vigorous research and development. And by the way, your tax dollars, all of our tax dollars, often goes to that research and we don’t get the benefit of it in terms of lower prices.
0:14:21 JR: So it’s just… It’s a business model issue?
0:14:24 BS: Exactly.
0:14:24 JR: It’s a greed issue?
0:14:25 BS: You’ve got it.
0:14:26 JR: And how would one stop that? When you’re dealing with the kind of influence that you’re talking about with $69 billion dollars in a year, the resources that they have, how would you stop that?
0:14:38 BS: Well, that is kind of what we call the $64 question.
0:14:41 JR: Yeah.
0:14:44 BS: And I’ll tell you what I think, this is what I believe. If you think back on American history and you think about the real changes that have taken place in society, you think about the labor movement and working class people standing up and saying to their employers, “We’re not gonna be treated like animals anymore. You can’t hire and fire us, you can’t work us 15 hours a day. We deserve dignity.” And you think about the growth of the labor movement, of millions of people beginning to stand together and fight. You think about the civil rights movement. And it wasn’t just Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it was, again, millions of African-Americans and their white allies saying, “We’re gonna end segregation and racism in this country.” Think about the women’s movement. 100 years ago women in America didn’t even have the right to vote. Think about the gay rights movement, think about the environment. The only way that change takes place is when ordinary people come together and stand up and fight and say that the status quo is not working. And that’s what I believe, and that’s what we’re trying to do.
0:15:46 BS: So the message of our campaign is it’s us not me, ’cause I can’t do it alone. Let me be very honest with you. If I were elected President tomorrow, I can’t do the things that I would like to do, that I’m campaigning on, unless millions of people were working with me to tell the corporate elite that they cannot get it all.
0:16:07 JR: So how would that be implemented? Let’s say you become President. You gonna become President? What do you think?
0:16:11 BS: I think we got a shot at it.
0:16:12 JR: You gotta shot. Alright. President Bernie, what do you do? You get in there, what do you do?
0:16:17 BS: Okay. First of all, you make a very clear… You make it clear to the American people what your agenda is. And I appreciate the opportunity to talk about an agenda in more than 12 seconds. What does that mean? Alright, we’re gonna fight for Medicare-For-All. We’re gonna raise the minimum wage to a living wage. We are gonna deal with education in a profound way, ’cause I worry about what’s going on in education today. Everybody knows that the ages of 0-4 are the most important years for human intellectual and emotional development. Right? Every psychologist will tell you that. And yet we have a totally dysfunctional early childhood system. We pay our child care workers starvation wages, yet working class families cannot find affordable quality child care. You got our public school systems all around this country, and many of them really being challenged right now. Teachers are underpaid, teachers are working two or three jobs. You got kids who can’t afford to go to college. And here’s something that is just unbelievable, kids who have gone to college leaving school with $50,000, $100,000 in debt. Unbelievable.
0:17:31 BS: These are issues that we have to deal with, and I will deal with them. And we are gonna substantially improve the quality of education in America, we’re gonna cancel student debt by imposing a tax on Wall Street speculation. Alright? You gotta deal with education. You gotta deal with climate change. The truth is that Donald Trump is dead wrong, climate change is not a hoax, it is a very, very dangerous reality for our country and the rest of the world. Scientists tell us we have less than 12 years to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel or there will be irreparable damage. So those are… And health care, of course, for all. So those are some of the major issues. Criminal justice, immigration reform. You lay it on the table. You say, “These are the issue that we are gonna focus on.” And you rally the American people around those issues, and you tell people like Mitch McConnell, who represents a very poor state in Kentucky, that, “Mitch, if you are going to oppose raising that minimum wage to at least 15 bucks an hour, I will be in Kentucky as President of the United States and we’re gonna have a rally, because you’re gonna have to stop representing… ” And I hope, by the way, that Mitch McConnell is not the leader. I hope the Democrats can gain control over the Senate.
0:18:45 BS: But if he is, we’ll put enormous pressure on him to do what the people want. Every idea, Joe… Here’s the bottom line on this thing; every idea that I’ve just talked to you about is supported by a majority of the American people, these are not radical ideas.
0:18:58 JR: Let’s take these one step at a time, ’cause you mentioned a lot of important things there. Let’s go with the minimum wage thing. Now the argument that I’ve heard about the minimum wage being raised to $15 an hour is that they are entry level positions for high school kids, for people that are just getting their feet wet in the marketplace, they’re learning how to work, they’re making some money after school. That if you charge or if businesses have to pay $15 an hour to people like that, to entry-level people that they won’t be able to stay open.
0:19:27 BS: Well, first of all, they will be competing against… If you are a business, and I’m a business and both of us have to raise our wages at the same level, we both have the same burden so it’s spread across. That is what my conservative colleagues will tell you. The truth is, I don’t have the numbers right in front of me, that while it certainly is true that young people do work at McDonald’s and minimum wage jobs, a significant and majority of the workers are not kids, they are often… And I’d met them at McDonald’s, they are workers who have children themselves. When we… We worked very hard to raise the minimum wage at Amazon and at Disney. We put pressure on both of those companies and they did the right thing. And when you talk to the people at Amazon who got that raise, these are not kids, these are people in their 30s, these are ordinary adults who cannot make it on 12 or 13 bucks an hour. So I think the argument that “Oh, they’re all kids.” is not really quite accurate.
0:20:30 JR: Well, not even that, oh they’re all kids, but that if they are kids, what would you think about making a minimum wage for someone who’s under 18, that’s different from a minimum wage of someone who’s a legal adult?
0:20:41 BS: I’m not for that, I think we do it. And look, many of these young people have their own needs. I just talked to a young woman last night, who is working, going to college working full-time trying to take care of her family as well. So I think, look, the minimum wage has not been raised in 10 years, it is now $7.25 an hour, which is clearly unacceptable. The cost of housing, California, all over this country is rising fairly rapidly. People can’t afford healthcare, can’t afford college, I don’t think it’s asking our employers too much to pay at least $15 an hour minimum wage.
0:21:19 JR: Now, I’m glad you brought up Amazon. So one of the things that always freaks me out is when I find out that enormous corporations that make billions of dollars have tax loopholes where they literally pay no money. How is that possible and how do you stop that?
0:21:33 BS: Well, it’s the same thing as the drug companies. How is it possible that we pay 10 times more for insulin in this country and for other drugs, than the one in Canada or countries around the world? And the answer is, it’s power. So what it is the goal of major corporations in America? It’s to be deregulated, as much as possible. So in some cases, they can pollute our water, our air, our environment. It’s also not to pay any taxes. Trump campaign as you recall he said, “My tax plan is not gonna benefit the wealthy, it’s gonna benefit working people.” Well it turns out over 10 years, 83% of the benefit at the end of 10 years goes to the top 1%. That’s what these guys do. I remember, on the… Called the ranking member on the budget committee, in the senate. And some guy came forward, representing, I don’t know, one of the big business organizations. And this is their agenda. Their agenda was to cut social security, Medicare and Medicaid, and to do away with all corporate taxes. So what you have right now that’s what greed is about. They want it all. So as you indicated you have a company like Amazon, owned by Jeff Bezos, who happens to be the wealthiest guy in America worth about $150 billion, Amazon paid zero in federal income taxes. And it’s not just them, dozens of corporations paid nothing or very, very little.
0:23:00 BS: And on top of all of that, you got these guys able to stash all over the world, trillions of dollars, trillions of dollars in the Cayman Islands, in Bermuda, in Luxembourg and other tax havens. That is insane and that has got to end.
0:23:17 JR: Yeah. How is it legal to do that? Why is it legal?
0:23:20 BS: Joe it is legal because they make the laws.
0:23:23 JR: Right.
0:23:24 BS: Alright? You know that is what… Here, you’re touching now on the heart and soul of the tragedy of American politics. How does it happen that on issue after issue, the American people, the working class of this country wants something, nobody pays any attention to it, but billionaires want something and it gets done. And that has to do with a corrupt political system. So right now, if you are the Koch brothers, or some multi-billionaire you say to the leadership of the Republican party and in some cases to the Democratic party, “Hey, guess what? We’re prepared to put hundreds of millions of dollars into your campaign.” Hundreds of millions of dollars coming from one or two people. “And here is my agenda: I want tax breaks, I want a trade system which will enable me to shut down in this country and go to China or Mexico and pay people there 2 bucks an hour. I wanna be able to do more pollution ’cause I don’t like all of this, you know, money I have to spend preventing pollution of the air or the water, that’s what I want you to do. And by the way, I’m worried about the deficit, so you may as well cut social security, Medicare and Medicaid.”
0:24:31 BS: How many Americans actually believe that we should give tax breaks to billionaires and cut social security, Medicare and Medicaid. Very few. That is… Talk to Mitch McConnell. Get Mitchell on the show. That is exactly what he believes.
0:24:45 JR: But that’s ridiculous. And it seems that if you just took away those tax breaks, the enormous amount of money that would come from those corporations having to pay their fair share, would take care of a lot of the expenses of all these things that you’re proposing.
0:25:00 BS: Exactly.
0:25:00 JR: How… Like, okay, let’s talk about the education. Because the idea of free education is a wonderful thing for people. The idea that you get out of college and you’re in debt, in an insane amount that you might have 10, 20 years where you have to pay it back. And I know many people that are in that situation.
0:25:21 BS: Joe, there are people who are getting their social security checks garnished right now. It’s not 10 to 20 years. In some cases, it’s literally a life time.
0:25:29 JR: Now, a lot of that is… I mean it’s gotta… In some way be preventable by what we’re talking about here.
0:25:37 BS: Absolutely, alright.
0:25:38 JR: And is that how you would pay for it? How would you…
0:25:40 BS: I’ll tell you exactly how I would pay for it.
0:25:42 JR: Okay.
0:25:42 BS: Okay. And we pay for every idea that we have, we pay for them. And we pay for it by understanding that today, we have massive levels of income and wealth inequality. And we have in many cases, the wealthy and large corporations paying nothing or very little in taxes. Here is the issue in terms of education, 40-50 years ago, you were an average American working class person, you graduated high school. Especially if there was a union around, you can go out and get a job and make it into the middle class. You could own your own home, you could send your kids to school, you lived a pretty good life. You made it in the middle class.
0:26:16 BS: 40 0r 50 years later, there’s an explosion of technology, there’s a growth in un-feted free trade, and it is clear now that most people to make it into the middle class are gonna need a higher education. That’s college or maybe it’s technical training in order to become a skilled worker. It is insane to me to deny working class people and lower income people the opportunity to get that education because the cost of college has soared. So all that I say, is that 100 plus years ago the American people said that we should have free public education. I went to a public school. My parents didn’t pay a nickel. Went to kindergarten. I went through the 12th grade; pretty good education in Brooklyn, New York. All that I’m saying is the world has changed and a high school degree is not good enough anymore. So expand that concept through college. Now, guess what? 50 years ago, Do you know how much the University of California, a very great university, cost in terms of tuition?
0:27:20 JR: How much?
0:27:21 BS: Virtually free.
0:27:23 JR: What’s it now?
0:27:23 BS: I don’t know, but it’s pretty high. It is hard; it’s thousands and thousands of dollars. So you had great universities, like the University of California, City University of New York, state colleges all over this country where tuition was virtually free. And then what happened for a variety of political reasons, states and the federal government started cutting back on higher education and put more and more burden on the student with higher and higher tuition, which is where we are today. So all that I’m saying is in the year 2019, 2020, if our working class kids are gonna go out and get the jobs that are out there, they need a higher education, which should be tuition-free. In terms of the cancellation of debt, which is my view, you got 45 million people who are dealing with that. I’ll never forget this. This is where it really hit me. I was in Burlington, Vermont and I had a meeting on an issue. And a young woman comes up and she says she’s a doctor. She graduated medical school, she’s very happy. She’s practicing in the Community Health Center, loves what she’s doing. Said, “Bernie, I gotta tell you though. I am $300,000 in debt probably going to medical school.”
0:28:31 BS: I couldn’t believe it. I was in Iowa, a young woman $400,000 in debt. This is not unusual for medical schools and dental schools. And ordinary people, 50,000, $100,000 for going to college or getting a Master’s degree. We promise these young people, we said, “Go to college. Go out and get an education. You’ll get decent paying jobs.” Well, the answer is they have not been able to do that. So what we have proposed, in one piece of legislation, or two actually, is to make public colleges and universities tuition-free, cancel all student debt in this country. That will cost $2.2 trillion, a lot of money, over a 10-year period. We do this through a tax on Wall Street speculation, which will bring in $2.4 trillion. We bailed out Wall Street 11 years ago, and by the way, these are crooks on Wall Street who engaged in illegal behavior. Taxpayers, against my vote, bailed them out. If we can bail out Wall Street, you know what? We can cancel student debt and provide public colleges and universities tuition-free.
0:29:31 JR: When you say a tax on Wall Street speculation, what exactly do you mean by that?
0:29:35 BS: It will be a tax on all of the… Every sale of a tax. People buy and sell stocks and bonds all of the… We have a very modest tax on that. And by the way, it will have an impact on speculation by cutting back on the high frequency trading, which we now see.
0:29:51 JR: So you would just… There’s no current tax on?
0:29:54 BS: Correct.
0:29:55 JR: So you would put a small amount and that would do the job? That would finance…
0:30:00 BS: That would raise more than enough money. It’s a very small tax. It exists…
0:30:03 JR: When you say small, how much?
0:30:04 BS: It depends on the nature of the transaction, but it’s less than one half of 1%.
0:30:08 JR: Really?
0:30:08 BS: Yeah.
0:30:09 JR: And that would cover…
0:30:10 BS: Yeah. Because the amount of stocks being sold, bought and sold. And this is not, again, a new idea, it’s being done in countries all over the world.
0:30:17 JR: What about… Here’s one of the darkest things about student loans, is that if you go bankrupt, it doesn’t matter, you still owe that and that’s kind of crazy. If you have a serious medical issue, if you’re held up, whatever, whatever happens to you that’s awful, you go bankrupt, most of those things are resolved, but not student loans.
0:30:38 BS: Correct. Again, this talks to the… And that has to do with bankruptcy law which was passed against my vote. And while you’re on bankruptcy, and actually I should have mentioned this before, when you talk about the healthcare system, a half a million Americans every single year go bankrupt because of medical bills that they can’t pay. But you’re right, with student loans… I talked to this guy in Nevada, never forget it. The guy says, “Bernie, I’m owing my… ” The guy was in his 50s. And he said, “I’ve been paying off my student debt for years. I’m going nowhere because the interest rates are high, and I feel very much… ” which is the case, “that they will start garnishing, taking away my social security checks, taking money away from me.” So people are carrying this burden. The result is that they can’t, in many cases, get married and have kids. They certainly can’t buy a home. They can’t buy a car. They are really crushed by this debt. And what was their crime? What did they do? They tried to get a higher education. I think that’s pretty crazy.
0:31:38 JR: And a lot of them, when they do this higher education, they’re 18-years-old. Imagine making a decision when your brain isn’t even fully formed that’s gonna affect you for the rest of your life.
0:31:46 BS: You got it, yeah, exactly right. And then you talk to these kids and say, “Well, how much debt do you owe? What kind of interest rates are you paying?” “Gee, I really don’t know. They just told me to sign up.” Yeah, it’s alright.
0:31:57 JR: Now, right now, we are a week, not even a week out, just a few days away from two mass shootings in a row, and whenever these things happen, there’s all these people that want action, but nobody knows exactly what to do. There’s calls for gun control. There’s calls for mental health reform. There’s calls for… I mean, what, if anything, can be done to stop these things from happening? And have you sat down and tried to come up with some sort of a solution? And is there a solution?
0:32:31 BS: Look, I would be lying to you if I told you I had a magical answer. Well, I don’t. And this is such a horrific situation. We were in… We had a town meeting… We were in Nevada actually in Las Vegas when El Paso happened and we did a town meeting and and I said, “Okay, let’s take a moment of silence to remember the victims and pray for the survivors.” literally the next day in another part of Las Vegas I had to do it again and I said, “I can’t believe that just yesterday we did this and I have to do it again.” This is, I don’t know what the words… You know my friend Beto O’Rourke would say, you don’t know what words, what can you say this happens again and again, who can imagine some lunatic walking into a school or a mall or just on a night club area and taking out an assault weapon shooting down people and that we almost… We come to accept this as a normal part of American life is incredible, is just totally demoralizing.
0:33:40 BS: Alright, so here’s what I think. There’s no magical answer but let me tell you what I think. First of all this is the reality. The reality is that today as we speak there are approximately 400 million guns in America today, we have more guns than we have people. We have between 5 to 10 million assault weapons. And an assault weapon as you know is a military-style weapon designed to kill human beings kind of rapidly so that’s… And then on top of that we have again nothing to be proud of but we have a number of mentally unstable people, people for whatever reason are walking the streets, they’re suicidal, they’re homicidal and that’s the mix that we have.
0:34:22 BS: I think the answer is and I’m not the guy to invent all these ideas but here’s some of what we have to do. First of all, if you wanna own a gun in America we have got to know that you are a stable person and that means that we need to expand the background checks that currently exist. Okay, so we gotta know did you beat up your wife? Have you committed crimes, etcetera, etcetera? What is the state of your mental health? Number two, we gotta make that universal. Number two, right now there is a background check if you walk into a gun shop but you can buy guns in various states at a gun show and you don’t have to do any of that. ’cause if you and I go to a gun show you sell me a gun I don’t have to… I don’t have to do that. Third of all, I can today legally walk into a gun show, pass the background check and buy a dozen guns walk out and sell them to criminal elements who will use them for bad things. So I think those are issues that most Americans believe we have got to deal with and we can.
0:35:40 BS: Fourthly, I happen to believe and I’ve believed this for 30 years that we should not be selling or distributing assault weapons in this country. They are weapons of mass destruction in a sense, they kill people rapidly as we saw and thank God by the way when we talk about both Dayton and El Paso thank God, cops went there very, very quickly and did an incredible job ’cause if that guy had walked into the night club there could have been dozens and dozens more people killed within a few minutes time. I happen to believe A, that we should not be selling or distributing an assault weapons in this country, that’s my view, period. So I believe in a ban on assault weapons and I think we have got to begin thinking about when we have 5 to 10 million assault weapons which is more than the US military has we have to think about a strong licensing procedure in terms of who owns these assault weapons. So that’s some of what I think and there are many other things but those are some of the ideas that are out there.
0:36:40 JR: Now, the legal gun owners who are law-abiding citizens who would never in a million years think about going around shooting people but they love guns. They hear this kind of stuff about banning assault rifles, banning assault weapons, they don’t even like the term assault weapons. They like to refer to them as their individual names or whatever they are. These people feel like this is an inexorable part of being an American, that you should be able to own a gun, it’s written into our Bill of Rights, it’s written into our… The way this country was founded, it’s the Second Amendment. What do you say to those people that don’t wanna give up their guns, but they wouldn’t do… And they wanna protect themselves, they feel like these guns are viable options to protect themselves from criminals?
0:37:29 BS: I understand that, and Joe, if… You may know him, a senator from the State of Vermont, and the State of Vermont is one of the most rural states in America, every forum you’ve got a whole thousands and thousands of people who are out in the woods hunting, and it’s something that’s part of our tradition, I believe in it, I believe in the second amendment. But all that I ask of the gun owners, and you’re absolutely right, 99.9% of gun owners would never in a million, billion years think of doing these horrible things. But in the moment that we are living in, I think that we’re all gonna have to make some concessions to the reality of what is going on, and that is that there is a small number of, call them what you want, the brave people, who are prepared to do that. In Australia, you remember that terrible… New Zealand, I’m sorry, the terrible shooting at the mosque, and they moved pretty quickly in an aggressive way. So I wish I can say, in the best of all possible worlds, yeah, you can own any weapon you want and so forth and so on, we’re not living in the best of all possible worlds, we living in a world where we’re shocked every day by horror, so.
0:38:40 JR: I agree we are living in a terrible situation, there’s hundreds of mass shootings a year now, which is insane. And if you look at the number in comparison to the rest of the world, it’s crazy, a big one in another country’s three mass shootings in a year. We had more than 270. It’s crazy, but how would you implement something like this?
0:39:00 BS: Well, the idea of banning assault weapons has been done in 1994. We banned assault weapons, I believe, it was for 10 years, that ban was undone by a Republican majority. And it didn’t… I’m not suggesting, by the way, that anything here, that if we banned assault weapons tomorrow, that would radically change everything. But we have got to do the best that we can do. And again, I prefaced my remarks by telling, “I don’t have a magical solution.” You got hundreds of millions of guns out there, you have people who should not be owning these guns, who gets set off by god knows what, and do terrible things. All we can do is the best that we can do. But to say we can’t do anything, I think it’s a real disservice to the American… And I’ll tell you something else that bothers me in addition to the horror of seeing people lying on the street dead, is what this is doing to the children of this country, and I think we underestimate that.
0:40:00 BS: I have seven grandchildren, and for them and for kids all over this country, you’re gonna see the… Fall’s coming, kids coming back to school, you’re gonna see in schools all over America drills, “Alright, this is what you do if somebody walks into the school, alright? You’re gonna hide under here, you go over there.” Kids… A couple of months ago, I was in Iowa, this guy is about 6’2, big guy, probably a football player. And he says, “Senator Sanders, I gotta tell you that the young people in my school are increasingly frightened, terrified about what could happen in the school.” Think about what this… The trauma, the trauma of what this gun violence is doing. So I think we’re all… As Americans, there ain’t no easy answers here but I think we we’re all gonna have to come together and figure this one out, and do the best that we can.
0:40:49 JR: Now would that mean forcibly removing these guns from people’s homes?
0:40:55 BS: I don’t think you’re gonna have the FBI knocking on somebody’s doors and taking their… That’s not what we do in America.
0:41:00 JR: But we have 400 million guns already out there and we’re building more every year. Right now, as we speak, gun manufacturers are making more guns, this is happening right now. So if those guns already exist, it’s more than enough.
0:41:13 BS: Oh yeah.
0:41:14 JR: How would you stop?
0:41:16 BS: Well again, I think… Look, I do think there should be a ban on assault weapons, so that means that manufacturers would not be able to produce or sell those weapons, period.
0:41:26 JR: To American citizens but not to the military obviously.
0:41:29 BS: Right, obviously, right. Okay, so… And your point was well taken, if you have 400 million guns out there… So I think there are approaches… No one has any magical solution, but I’ve given you… I’ll tell you something else that I didn’t mention, and that is the role of gun manufacturers is that if you are a gun manufacturer and you are selling a hell of a lot of guns to a gun store in an area which normally you would not think… These guys know what cities buy, what towns buy, how many guns. And if suddenly, there is a tremendous demand, you gotta be thinking, “Why is this gun store buying so many guns? It doesn’t reflect the population in the area.” You gotta deal with that issue where the gun owners will have to take some responsibility.
0:42:16 JR: Besides the guns…
0:42:17 BS: The gun manufacturers, I’m sorry.
0:42:20 JR: Right, but besides the guns and the gun manufacturers, the other gigantic issue is mental health.
0:42:24 BS: Yup.
0:42:25 JR: The only way any of this ever happens is someone has to be insanely, mentally depraved, that’s the only way. And many of them are medicated, and many of them are on pharmaceutical drugs, and they have been since they were children, including amphetamines like Adderall and Prozac and all this different stuff that has varied effects on the human brain. What could be done, what would you done to analyze this, to find out what the cause and effect are, and to try to figure out what role and how much these drugs are responsible?
0:43:02 BS: Well, two things. Let me respond first by saying… It goes without saying that we have a mental health crisis in America before we even talk about drugs. And for whatever reason, there are a whole lot of people… And the nature of our healthcare system, getting back to healthcare, is… I just talked to a woman literally last night, and we had a town meeting and she said… This is unbelievable, she said, “Bernie, I was in Las Vegas when the terrible shooting took place, okay? And now I am… ” And I can understand this perfectly. “I’m seeing Dayton and I’m seeing… Watching television, El Paso, and I’m getting a PTSD reaction.” That’s totally… If you were in a place where people were shot down… And she… “I’m trying to get counseling, I can’t find it.” I remember a guy called up… A woman called up my office in Burlington, Vermont, and she said, “I’m worried about my husband, what he… ” My brother… “His brother, what he might do to himself or somebody else. We’re looking for mental health counseling, we can’t find something that we can afford.”
0:44:13 BS: So we need, above and beyond gun violence, we need… And this is why I believe in Medicare for all, mental health is healthcare. You break your arm, that’s a health issue, that’s a medical issue. Mental health is a medical issue and we have got to make mental health counseling available to all people in this country when they need it, not six months from now, at a price they can afford, and under Medicare for All, it would be free. So that’s number one. Number two, your point about studying the impact of drugs on people’s behavior and possibly resulting in violence absolutely deserves to be studied. We should be studying the impact of drugs. In my view, this is a layman’s view, I’m not a psychiatrist, I worry very much that we are over-medicating kids in schools, we have this deficit… Deficient issue, kids are running around and they’re active. When I was a kid, people used to run around, they were active, they weren’t drugged up. So I worry about that whole business, but your point is well taken, I think we need to study this and make sure that these drugs, in fact, are not causing kinds of reactions that we will regret later.
0:45:27 JR: Now on the subject of drugs, marijuana is obviously a big issue in this country and we’ve seen many states make it recreational, including this one. What do you think could be done, and what should be done to have this across the… Especially federally? There’s a guy that I have on the podcast coming up soon, his name’s John Norris, and he wrote a book on the cartels growing marijuana illegally all over this country and selling it, especially… Particularly in California now because it’s a misdemeanor, because it’s legal recreationally, and selling it with all sorts of horrible pesticides on it, all sorts of very, in fact, deadly chemicals. All of this because it’s not federally legal because we can’t have sanctioned licensed companies doing an ethical job of growing something, then any responsible law-abiding person should be able to consume.
0:46:19 BS: Okay. Let me say this. When I ran for President with the Democratic nomination in 2016, I talked about a broken criminal justice system which ends up having, in The United States, more people in jail than any other country. We have more people in jail than China does, which is a communist, authoritarian country. And what I called for then and I call for now is the legalization of marijuana in America. Right now, you have a federal law, it’s called the Controlled Substance Act. Here’s heroin, here is marijuana, they are at the same level. That is insane. Heroin is a killer drug. You can argue the pluses and minuses of marijuana, but marijuana ain’t heroin. So we have to end that, and that’s what I will do. As President of The United States, I believe we can do that through executive order, and I will do that.
0:47:13 BS: Second of all, what we have now is, a number of states, and I’m very proud, I talked about it during 2016, what seemed radical, the need to legalize, to decriminalize marijuana, very radical idea four years ago. It is spreading all over the country. And by the way, it blows my mind to drive through Nevada, or I think, here, even in California, now you see signs, corporations, “Buy our marijuana.” And four years ago, people were getting arrested doing that, their lives being destroyed.
0:47:39 JR: Particularly in Nevada, there was life sentences given out in the ’70s.
0:47:42 BS: Can you believe that? And now you have corporations selling the damn product to people went to jail for. So I think, ultimately, we’ve got to legalize marijuana. And what’s good news, in a sense, is some communities, some cities are expunging the records. So if you were arrested, have a criminal record for selling marijuana, that is being expunged, and that is the right thing to do. We can argue about the pluses and minuses, I’m not a great fan of drugs, I smoked marijuana a couple of times, didn’t do much for me. Other people, I guess, have different impact.
0:48:14 JR: Just a couple of times?
0:48:16 BS: That’s true.
0:48:16 JR: It didn’t do much for you?
0:48:17 BS: Yeah, maybe cough.
0:48:18 JR: Where were you getting it?
0:48:20 BS: [chuckle] That was in Vermont, Northern Vermont.
0:48:21 JR: Oh, that’s the problem, maybe you should get it from here, it’ll do something for you.
0:48:24 BS: Well, made me cough a whole lot. But I gather other people have had different experiences, correct?
0:48:29 JR: Oh, for sure. Yeah, I certainly have. The other problem is, of course, with illegal drugs comes… You get this horrible cycle, particularly in inner cities, where you have people that are incarcerated for illegal drugs, illegal drugs seem to be the only way out. The hard drugs, when we’re talking about cocaine and all these other drugs, how does one stop that? And would you ever consider legalizing all drugs or de-criminalizing all drugs?
0:49:00 BS: Not at this point, no, I wouldn’t. But you’re touching on a real tragedy. And when we talk about criminal justice in America, we have over 2 million people in jail, they are disproportionately African-American, Latino, and Native American. And here’s what I think, I think in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, what we have got to do, instead of building more jails and locking up more people, we really do have to invest in our young people, especially young people in distressed communities. What does that mean? If we can, and we can do this with the proper amount of resources, make sure that kids are not dropping outta school. If you drop outta school today… So you drop out in your second or third year of high school, you don’t have an education, you don’t have any job skills, What are you gonna do with your life? And the answer is you may well do drugs. Or you’ll get in trouble, self-destructive activity or destructive activity, and you’re gonna end up in jail.
0:49:58 BS: It makes so much more sense from a humane perspective, protecting our people. As well as our financial situation, we’re spending $80 billion here to invest in these kids. What does that mean? It means making sure they get the education that they need. Paying attention, having good schools, making sure that they get the jobs that are out there, doing job training. There was a principal in a school in Southern Vermont, I’ll never forgot what she said, it was a working class school. And she said, “Bernie, I love these kids, I am not gonna let them drop out.” And she had a mentoring program, just watching the kids who were mostly at risk so that they would not end up going through the cracks and getting into trouble. That’s what we should be doing as a nation. And when we do that, we invest in the kids, we get them jobs, we get them education. The likelihood of them falling into bad ways is significantly reduced.
0:50:48 JR: All those things sound great. The uncomfortable reality about drugs, though, is that when drugs are illegal, criminals sell them, and there’s obviously a need for drugs in terms of… Not necessarily a need, but a demand for drugs. Is it demand for drugs in this country that’s absolutely fueling Mexican cartels and illegal drug runners inside this country? There’s a lot of that, how do you curb that if drugs are illegal?
0:51:17 BS: You’re raising a deep question. The question, essentially, that you’re asking is, what is the cause of the opioid epidemic? Yes?
0:51:25 JR: That’s one aspect of it.
0:51:27 BS: Heroin?
0:51:29 JR: But the opioid epidemic is interesting because there’s so much of it that’s coming legally. That’s not the drug cartels, that’s the pharmaceutical industry.
0:51:35 BS: You’re right, but the heroin is illegal?
0:51:37 JR: Yes.
0:51:38 BS: Alright. Now you’re asking, this is a very, very deep question which we don’t talk about terribly much. Why is it that so many of our people are turning to drugs, to alcohol, by the way, and I don’t mean a drink at night, but I mean serious alcohol problems, and tragically to suicide. We now have for the last three years, something that is ahistorical, never happened before in modern history, and that is, our life expectancy is actually going down. And this is hitting all over the country but it is especially hitting rural areas. And what the doctors are saying is that these are diseases of despair, despair. So you’re in West Virginia, you’re in rural Ohio or any place, Vermont, any place, and the job you used to have earning a decent living is now in China. Your kid can’t afford to go to college, maybe you can’t afford healthcare, you got nothing to look forward to. Under that scenario, drugs become, alcohol becomes a way out. Then the worst case scenario is suicide.
0:52:53 BS: So I think what we’re talking about is why is this happening often in rural areas and urban as well? And how can we re-establish hope and optimism in the American people? And that gets back to a whole lot of other issues. It means if people have health care as a right, that will certainly play a role in this thing, they walk in to the doctor when they need. But it also means that people need decent jobs that pay them a living wage. That means we have to rebuild rural America, we have to rebuild the depressed communities in urban America. It means that we have to have a great educational system. And people say, “Oh, that’s great, Bernie, that’s utopian.” It is not utopian. This is something that, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, we can afford and we should be doing rather than creating a situation where Amazon pay zero in federal income taxes. So to answer your question, this is a deep question, and again, I’m not here to tell you I have all the answers, but there are a lot of people out there who have basically given up hope, and for those people, I guess, drugs is the alternative.
0:54:00 JR: So what you’re saying essentially is that if we can do something to mitigate despair, then we’ll do something to at least stop some of the demand for these illegal drugs?
0:54:10 BS: I believe that is the case. Look, if I am optimistic, if I’m excited about going to work tomorrow and I’m seeing my kid doing great in school, and when I get sick I can go to the doctor’s office, that happy sense of community, my downtown is not all bordered up because businesses have left, but we have a community. Yeah, the strong likelihood is there will be less diseases of despair and drugs than we’re currently seeing.
0:54:33 JR: Now when we’re talking about impoverished communities, and chronically, when you’re talking about cities like Baltimore or parts of Chicago and Detroit that have just been in a terrible state of despair for long periods of time and it doesn’t seem like there’s a way out, the people that are born there, the people that live there, they live in this state of despair. What can be done to resolve all of these terribly impoverished communities and bring them up to a standard where these kids that grow up there, that they feel like there is an out, that they do have an opportunity? And why is this not addressed when we talk about making America great? Wouldn’t fixing the worst parts of the country be the primary concern? The less people that grow up in a terribly disadvantageous position from birth, wouldn’t be an important thing, and what can you do to resolve that?
0:55:29 BS: Well Joe, I think you said it better than I can. I think you’re right. When we talk about what it means to live in a great society and a great nation, a nation that we’re proud of, I’m afraid there are some people who have incredible wealth and power who say, “You know what’s great? Is that we’re seeing a growth in the number of billionaires in America, isn’t that terrific? And we’ve got one guy who’s worth $155 billion. How great. Oh by the way, we’re building more nuclear weapons and we’re spending $750 billion a year on the military, isn’t that extraordinary? And by the way, did you see the yacht that that billionaire has? It’s three miles long, isn’t that great?” Your point is that we have to, I think as I understand what you’re saying, we have to redefine what being a great nation is about. We are not a great nation when we have 40 million people living in poverty and in despair. We’re not a great nation when we have massive levels of income and wealth inequality, when 87 million people can’t afford to go to a doctor today. So to answer your question, I think that as a nation, we have got to focus a great deal of attention on those distressed communities.
0:56:39 BS: Often they’re African American, often they’re Latino, often they are rural white communities. And that means making sure that the kids they get the quality education that they deserve, making sure that we’re creating good paying jobs in those communities. I voted against NAFTA, permanent normal trade relations with China and other trade agreements because I knew that those agreements were written by corporate America with the goal of shutting down plants in this country and moving abroad. And the result of that has been the loss of millions of good paying jobs and the complete destruction of communities all across this country in the south and all across this country.
0:57:19 BS: So we have got to rebuild those communities. We have got to bring high tech jobs, not just to Silicon Valley, but to rural America. Again, I don’t have magical answers but the goal is we will not under a Sanders administration, turn our backs on distressed communities. We will rebuild those communities. We will build the millions of units of affordable housing that we need. Now, think about what it means to a community now where people are living in terrible housing or housing they cannot afford. When we put young people to work, rebuilding their own communities, will that become an indication of hope and optimism? I think it will.
0:58:00 JR: We’re talking about so many deeply important issues and all of them that will be under the control, or at least to the direction of the one person who winds up becoming the president of United States. Is it a impossible job? It seems like being the president, you are managing so many different aspects of our economy, our culture, our safety, our environment, international communication, and… It’s so in-depth. How does one person do a job like that?
0:58:32 BS: Well, one person doesn’t do it. And you certainly don’t do it by tweeting every other day, major policy issues.
0:58:39 JR: I think he tweets a lot more than every other day.
0:58:43 BS: What you do, and this is the way any sane president operates, is you need to be working with the smartest men and women from all walks of life who understand these issues. Every issue we have touched on Joe is enormously complicated and I can send out a 20-word tweet on it, but that doesn’t solve it. Unlike Trump, we will bring together the best and most knowledgeable people in this country to address the housing crisis, to address the issue of these diseases of despair.
0:59:16 BS: We didn’t even touch on climate change and then the future of the planet. How do we lead the world in transforming our energy system and creating the kind of jobs that we need? How do we revitalize American democracy? So that instead of suppressing the vote we’re getting more young people involved in the political process. So, to answer your question, it is not a one-person job and anyone who thinks it is is dead wrong.
0:59:35 BS: You need the help of a very strong administration that knows the issues, that comes from the ranks of the working class and this is the promise I will make, my administration, unlike Trump’s, is not gonna be filled with billionaires who’s basically very often greedy type people who… It is gonna be filled with the best people. Often from the working class itself, from the Trade Union movement. People who are gonna help us create policies that work for workers and not just the billionaire class.
1:00:03 JR: Now, we’re getting to the end of your hour here. So climate change is obviously an enormous issue for our country, and for the world. What could be done? And what do you think you can do, as president, that can somehow or another slow down this process?
1:00:20 BS: First of all, we have to have a president, who unlike Trump, believes in science, and I do. And what the scientists are telling us, as I mentioned earlier, is that we have fewer than 12 years to transform our energy system, or else there will be irreparable damage done, not only to our country, but to the world. Now, climate change is not just an American issue, so we could do tomorrow, do all the right things, but if China, and Russia, and India, and the rest of the Brazil and Africa does not do the right thing, we’re not gonna make the progress we need.
1:00:54 BS: So, here is what we have to do in my view. Number one, we have to tell the the fossil fuel industry that their short-term profits, and they make a whole lot of money, their short-term profits are not more important than the future of this planet. I don’t think that’s a hard sell to make. You cannot keep producing a product which is destroying the planet in the United States and around the world.
1:01:18 JR: So, by saying that, you’re saying you would have to move, we would have to move consciously away from fossil fuels.
1:01:22 BS: Absolutely. No ifs and buts and maybes.
1:01:25 JR: And if we do that, how do you tell the fossil fuel companies, do you tell them, “You can’t sell fossil fuels anymore?”
1:01:30 BS: Yeah. There are a variety of ways to do that but that is the bottom line. And by the way, in the midst of that, we do what we call is a just transition. The guy out on the oil rig today simply wants to feed his family, and the coal miners today wanna feed their families, and we’re not gonna leave them. I’m a pro-worker. I have probably the strongest pro-worker record of any member of the Congress, so it is not my intention to throw these guys out on the… And women, out on the street and ignore the pain that they will go through. We are proposing billions of dollars to rebuild those communities and make sure that those guys and women get new jobs. So we’re not just discarding people in the fossil fuel industry.
1:02:12 BS: But ultimately, the product that they are producing, which is now carbon emissions, is destroying the planet. We have to move away from fossil fuel in a very bold way into energy efficiency. Right now, in my own state of Vermont and all over this country, there are buildings which are incredibly wasteful. We don’t have the windows, we don’t know the insulation, we don’t have the roofing, the doors that we need to keep the buildings warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and we can create just an incredible number of jobs, just retrofitting our buildings.
1:02:49 BS: Second of all, we need to move very aggressively to sustainable energies, like wind. And so in California, you’re doing a good job with wind. Iowa, is doing a good job. Texas, doing a good job, we gotta do much more. Solar, there is incredible potential out there. Price of solar has dropped in recent years and we have got to not only transformed the energy system in our own country, we gotta lead the world in working with Russia and China, because in this issue we are in it together. And here’s my dream, and this may be a utopian dream. The world right now is spending $1.5 Trillion on weapons of destruction designed to kill each other. And maybe, just maybe, if we had a kind of leader, and I hope to be that leader, who says to the world, “Instead of spending $1.5 Trillion killing each other, maybe we use those resources to transform the global energy system and save the planet for our kids and our grandchildren.” That’s the goal that I have.
1:03:43 JR: Well, these ideas sound great, but in the competitive environment of global politics, how would you convince Russia, or China, or any of these countries, to do something that would put them in some sort of a competitive disadvantage?
1:03:56 BS: And the answer is, Joe, if we do not do that in 50-100 years, everybody is gonna be in a terrible disadvantage. And look, I’m not… You know, I’m saying that… I’m not telling you that tomorrow it’s gonna happen. But you gotta make the case, these people… Putin is a dictator, I dislike him intensely. Xi in China, very authoritarian, so and so, but they’re not crazy people. And presumably, they have concern about their kids and their grandchildren. This is a planet under siege and I don’t wanna become a science fiction. You’ve all seen the movies, the meteor racing toward earth, we’re gonna blow up the earth. What do we do? Well, we gotta get together. This is in a sense what that is about, you know when I think about, in 1941, after Pearl Harbor. Alright. We were faced with a war in the east with China, a war in the west in Europe with Hitler. Within two years, the United States had transformed its economy to address and win the war, basically in two or three years by re-industrializing America, we can do it, we can lead the world. That’s what we have to do.
1:04:57 JR: So in your odds, we have to look at the economy almost as if the same threat or excuse me, the environment, as if it’s the same kind of threat as Nazi Germany back together.
1:05:07 BS: Look, if you asked the Defence department, you asked the CIA, you asked the defense people all over the world, tell us what the great national security threat is. You know what it is? It is climate change.
1:05:16 JR: There’s a lot of people though, that are skeptical of this. How would you convince them? This is a big part of the problem, there’s a narrative that you hear from a lot of people that, “Oh, climate change is not approving science. And climate change is a hoax,” this is something that’s repeated, over and over again, and I’m sure some of it has to do with lobbyists and some of it has to do with the merchants of doubt that go out there and seed the world with disinformation to try to increase their profits and…
1:05:43 BS: Yes.
1:05:43 BS: Continue the practices that they’re currently enjoying.
1:05:46 BS: You know Joe, when I’m thinking back, I don’t know if all of your listers can remember this, ’cause I’m older than most, but I can remember tobacco and cigarette ads on television, you remember that?
1:05:56 JR: Yes.
1:05:56 BS: Doctor guy dressed in a white frock…
1:05:58 JR: Sure.
1:05:58 BS: Smoking away. “This is a great cigarette. It’ll improve your health.” They lied. The tobacco industry knew exactly what was going on. And the fossil fuel industry is lying right now. And the President of the United States is either too stupid to understand what the scientists are telling us, or he is lying as well. Look, I am not the scientist, that’s not my idea. I listen to the scientist. The debate is long over. Climate change is real. My God, look at what’s happening around the world, the quite worst… July was, I think the warmest July, or warmest month in the modern history of the world. The Arctic ice is melting, heat waves in Europe, just look out the window at what’s going on. This is not Bernie Sanders talking, this is the scientific community. Climate change is real. It will only get worse if we do not act boldly to cut carbon emissions.
1:06:55 JR: Well, we just did an hour sir, so I’m gonna let you go ’cause I know you got very important things to do. One last question, if you got into the office and you found out something about aliens. If you found out something about UFOs would you let us know?
1:07:10 BS: Well, I’ll tell you, my wife would demand that I let you know. [chuckle]
1:07:13 JR: Is your wife a UFO nut?
1:07:14 BS: No, she’s not a UFO nut but just, “Bernie, what is going on? Do you have any access to rockets?”
1:07:19 JR: And you don’t have any access?
1:07:20 BS: I don’t. Honestly, I don’t know.
1:07:22 JR: Okay. You’ll let us know, though?
1:07:23 BS: Alright, I’ll be on this show. We’ll announce it on this show, how’s that…
1:07:25 JR: Please. Please do.
1:07:26 BS: Alright. You got too.
1:07:27 JR: Thank you sir, I appreciate your time.
1:07:28 BS: Joe, thank you very much.
1:07:40 JR: Thank you very much.