Bernie Sanders

Senator from Vermont
Jump to  stances on the issues
Bernie Sanders dropped out of the presidential race on April 8, 2020. This page is no longer being updated.
Sanders, an independent, is back after waging an unsuccessful challenge to Hillary Clinton in 2016 with a democratic socialist platform that included free college tuition. His positions on those issues have driven the policy debate within the Democratic Party ever since. He was elected to the Senate in 2006 and was previously in the House for 16 years.
University of Chicago, B.A. (1964)
September 8, 1941
Jane Sanders; divorced from Deborah Shiling
Levi (son with Susan Mott)
Heather, Carina and David
Congressman from Vermont, 1991-2007;
Mayor of Burlington, 1981-1989


Bernie Sanders urges Californians to reject 'bold-faced Republican power grab' in new Newsom recall ad
Updated 5:56 PM ET, Mon Aug 30, 2021
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has enlisted Sen. Bernie Sanders in his fight to remain in office, with the progressive icon urging voters to reject a "bold-faced Republican power grab" in a new recall ad. The spot released on Monday by Stop the Republican Recall, a countereffort launched by Newsom's team, features the Vermont independent asking voters to support the Democratic governor in the recall effort and making a thinly veiled attack on conservative talk show radio host Larry Elder, who poses a serious threat to Newsom's tenure. "At this unprecedented moment in American history, when we're trying to address the crisis of climate change, guarantee health care for all and pass real immigration reform, the last thing we need is to have some right-wing Republican governor in California," Sanders,tacitly referring to Elder, says in the new ad. RELATED: The California recall is another quirk of American democracy "The September 14 recall of Gov. Newsom is a bold-faced Republican power grab." The use of Sanders by Newsom and his allies shows just how worried his camp is about the upcoming recall -- and how urgently they are trying to activate progressive voters who might be tempted to sit out the special election on September 14 because of their frustrations about the pandemic. Newsom was in a strong position for most of the summer, but the resurgence of Covid-19 and the wildfires ravaging the state have led to worries among state and national Democrats that there is a very real possibility of him getting recalled. Polls show that on the question of whether voters want to oust Newsom or keep him, the race is within the margin of error. The Stop the Republican Recall group also released an ad in late July featuring Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, another noted progressive, who charged Republicans in California with "abusing the recall process" in an effort to "grab power" in the state. And last week, Vice President Kamala Harris canceled a rally with Newsom, with the former California senator avoiding the highly political moment in the wake of a terrorist attack in Afghanistan that killed 13 American service members as the US raced to withdraw troops from the country. RELATED: What you need to know about the California recall The recall effort was launched earlier this year after some Californians criticized Newsom's handling of the state's homelessness problem, devastating wildfires and the Covid-19 crisis. There are two questions on the ballot, asking whether Newsom should be removed from office, and if so, replaced by whom. There are more than 40 candidates running against Newsom, including a number of Republicans: Elder, businessman John Cox, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley and Caitlyn Jenner.


climate crisis
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Sanders has described climate change – now as well as during his 2016 run for president – as a global security threat. He is a leading proponent of the Green New Deal, the broad plan to address renewable-energy infrastructure and climate change proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. In August 2019, Sanders released a $16.3 trillion climate change program. His targets include meeting the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s goal of 100% renewable energy for electricity and transportation by 2030; cutting domestic emissions by 71% over that period; creating a $526 billion electric "smart grid”; investing $200 billion in the Green Climate Fund; and prioritizing what activists call a “just transition” for fossil fuel workers who would be dislocated during the transition. The Vermont independent would also cut off billions in subsidies to fossil fuel companies and impose bans on extractive practices, including fracking and mountaintop coal mining, while halting the import and export of coal, oil and natural gas. Sanders vows to recommit the US to the Paris climate accord, a landmark 2015 deal on global warming targets that Trump has pledged to abandon. More on Sanders’ climate crisis policy
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Sanders introduced his 21st-century Economic Bill of Rights in June 2019, in which he pledged “once and for all that every American, regardless of his or her income, is entitled to the right to a decent job that pays a living wage; the right to quality health care; the right to a complete education; the right to affordable housing; the right to a clean environment; and the right to a secure retirement.” In October 2019, he introduced a plan that would guarantee workers eventually take control of 20% stakes in the country’s largest companies through the issuance of new stock and would mandate that employees elect 45% of corporate boards of directors. The Sanders plan would also impose strict new guidelines on mega-mergers, while asking a revamped Federal Trade Commission to review deals pushed through during the Trump administration. Throughout his career, Sanders has been pro-union, saying in January, “If we are serious about reducing income and wealth inequality and creating good-paying jobs, we have to substantially increase the number of union jobs in this country.” In 2017, he supported a 10-year infrastructure plan costing $1 trillion. At the time, proponents estimated the plan would create 15 million jobs. He had put forth a similar proposal during his first presidential campaign. More on Sanders’ economic policy
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Sanders would eliminate tuition and fees at, as his campaign says, “four-year public colleges and universities, tribal colleges, community colleges, trade schools, and apprenticeship programs.” He unveiled legislation in June 2019 that would wipe out $1.6 trillion in undergraduate and graduate student loan debt for about 45 million people. The plan has no eligibility limitations and would be paid for with a new tax on Wall Street speculation. Sanders frequently describes education as a “human right.” That means “making public colleges, universities and historically black colleges and universities tuition-free and debt-free by tripling the work study program, expanding Pell grants and other financial incentives," he said. His “Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education” would seek to improve the K-12 system by taking aim at de facto segregation and public-school funding disparities while banning for-profit charter schools. More on Sanders’ education policy
gun violence
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Sanders describes “an epidemic of gun violence” in the US and has pushed for expanded background checks and the closing of assorted loopholes in firearm purchases. Sanders has consistently voted for legislation that would ban so-called assault weapons and said he would seek to do the same for high-capacity magazines. He said he would push for harsher punishments for “straw” purchases, when someone purchases a gun for someone who cannot legally possess a firearm. More on Sanders’ gun violence policy
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Sanders introduced “Medicare for All” legislation in 2017, which would have created a national government-run program providing comprehensive coverage with no premiums, deductibles or copays. He has taken this version of the plan one step further since its initial rollout to include long-term care at home and in the community for senior citizens and people with disabilities. Unlike some of his presidential opponents, Sanders says there should be no private insurance option except for items not covered by his Medicare for All act, such as elective procedures. Sanders argues that the increase in taxes would be more than offset by eliminating the premiums, deductibles and copayments associated with private health insurance. When asked during the first Democratic presidential debate about whether taxes would go up as a result of his health care plan, Sanders said: “Yes, they will pay more in taxes, but less in health care for what they get.” Sanders also supports importing drugs, allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices and pegging the price of medicine in the US to the median price in five other developed nations. More on Sanders’ health care policy
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Sanders has called for comprehensive immigration legislation, which includes providing a path toward citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He has proposed providing legal status for those covered by the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shields from deportation some undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children. Sanders has also called for restructuring Immigration and Customs Enforcement. More on Sanders’ immigration policy


Opinion: What's really behind the 'Justice for J6' rally
Updated 8:59 PM ET, Sat Sep 18, 2021
The so-called "Justice for J6" rally, a right-wing protest Saturday to support the insurrectionists facing criminal charges in the January 6 attack, was smaller than expected. It also lacked the mayhem and violence the Department of Homeland Security feared might break out. But that doesn't mean it wasn't dangerous. The rally in Washington, DC, was part of a dangerous attempt to rewrite the history of that dark day in America. For months, Trump spread baseless lies about widespread election fraud, claimed the election had been "stolen," and urged his followers to take action. It didn't help that many Republican members of Congress repeated those lies. Fueled by the false belief that they were defending democracy, members of the mob stormed the Capitol building while Congress was certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election, chanting, "Stop the steal," and "Hang Mike Pence." Now, it seems the organization behind "Justice for J6," which is led by a former Trump campaign operative, wants to free many of the insurrectionists of responsibility and cast them as victims. A permit application the organizers submitted to the US Capitol Police Board said the event was supposed to "bring awareness and attention to the unjust and unethical treatment of nonviolent Jan. 6 political prisoners." Trump has already given credence to this narrative in a statement that repeated the Big Lie. "Our hearts and minds are with the people being persecuted so unfairly relating to the January 6th protest concerning the Rigged Presidential Election," Trump said on Thursday. Although the claims being made about the legal process don't match the facts, this narrative has already taken root. Shortly after January 6, many Congressional Republicans condemned Trump and distanced themselves from the violence. In February, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, "Former President Trump's actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty." He went on to add, "There's no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day." The sense of outrage didn't last long. Republicans soon embarked on an effort to rewrite the narrative. Many downplayed or denied the violence, and Rep. Andrew Clyde went so far as to compare what happened to a "normal tourist visit." Many other Congressional Republicans stopped talking about January 6 altogether while others worked to prevent a bipartisan commission from being established. The goal was to move on, with an eye toward the 2022 midterm elections. Meanwhile, former President Trump continued to distort the facts by falsely claiming that the crowds in Washington that day were peaceful. The rioters, he said, were "hugging and kissing the police and the guards." False suggestions that Antifa or Black Lives Matter were responsible for the riot picked up steam on social media and right-wing radio shows. According to a newly released poll by the Public Religion Research Institute, those lies have taken hold among the right. While most Americans blame Trump, White supremacists and the conservative media for January 6, a majority of Republicans, see it differently -- and place most of the blame on liberal or left-wing activists. This is incredibly dangerous -- not only because these are distortions and lies but also because they diminish what little chance our elected leaders have to hold Trump and his enablers accountable. To be sure, some Republicans, such as former President George W. Bush have pushed back. On the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attack, Bush delivered a speech in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, comparing domestic extremists to international ones. "They are children of the same foul spirit and it is our continuing duty to confront them," he said. But those voices are all too rare. More common are the Republicans who remain silent as Trump and others spout lies about the January 6 attack and who was really involved. We live in an era of disinformation and conspiracy theories. Trump could be on the cusp, as Jonathan Chait argued in New York Magazine, of transforming this disaster into "a glorious uprising behind which he could rally his adherents." As the midterm elections heat up, it is important that Americans are not fooled. The implications of the attack on Congress -- which was directly connected to a presidentially-led effort to overturn the election -- can't be forgotten or excused. Reckoning with January 6 must be a paramount issue on the ticket in 2022 as voters decide which party is best suited to control the House and Senate. The twisted stories about what happened must be continually challenged and the government must do more to ensure that accountability in our democracy won't go by the wayside. The country needs a thorough, nonpartisan investigation to connect the campaign to delegitimize the 2020 election to the violence that unfolded on January 6.