Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) capped off a week of growing discontent among Democrats with an eight and a half hour exclamation point. Clearly upset with the Obama administration over its willingness to compromise, the bulk of the Senator’s lengthy remarks were dedicated to dismantling Republican’s economic proscriptions and enumerating their past failures.
“In my view,” Sanders said, “the agreement that they reached is a bad deal for the American people, and I think we can do better.”
That was at about 10:30 Friday morning. Senator Sanders continued, with brief support from Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), until just after 7:00 in the evening. During that period, Sanders spoke with passion on several topics related to America’s economic ills and their resultant structural societal inequities.
On income inequality, for example, too often ignored by the mainstream media, Sanders addressed it head on (emphasis added):
There is a war going on in this country, and I am not talking about the war in Iraq or the war in Afghanistan. I am talking about a war being waged by some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in this country against the working families of the United States. Against the disappearing and shrinking middle class of our country. The billionaires of America are on the war path. They want more, and more, and more. And that has everything to do with this agreement reached between the Republicans and the President.
In 2007, The top 1 percent of income earners in the United States made 23 and a half percent of all income. That is more than the bottom 50 percent…. But for the top 1 percent in America, that’s apparently not enough.
Incidentally, Sanders cited these same statistics within a Nov. 30 floor speech during the Senate debate over Wall Street regulation reform. Urged by shocked readers to fact-check this claim, Politifact did so, and found it to be “true.”
My favorite part of the speech, by far, was when Sanders addressed the Republican demand for Bush’s tax cuts for the top marginal earners. While Republicans have argued since the Reagan administration that cuts for the top income brackets have a stimulative effect on the economy, it has never worked out that way.
Even in the present debate, Republicans continue to insist that these cuts will be stimulative and job creators. This despite America’s present economic predicament having taken shape in the wake of the Bush’s tax cuts, ill conceived wars, and other unfunded mandates. On this, the Senator from Vermont states what should be obvious to us all:
For my friends, my Republican colleagues, to tell me that we need more tax cuts for the very rich, because that’s going to create jobs, that’s what trickle down economics is all about. What I would say to them is: Ya had your chance! It failed! In case you don’t know, losing 600,000 private sector jobs in eight years is not good. That’s very, very bad. That’s an economic policy that is bad. We don’t need to look at that movie again. We saw it. It stunk! It was a very bad movie!
Though Senator Sanders’ impressive effort wasn’t technically a filibuster — the Senate isn’t expected to vote on the Obama compromise until Monday — it served as a reminder to observers of what a filibuster should look like.
Below you’ll find a video of the first 12 minutes of Sanders’ remarks. For more, see Josh Harkinson’s excellent post, in which the Mother Jones reporter excerpts many of the highlights. Of course, if you have a lot of time on your hands, you can see it all on C-SPAN’s site.
Sen. Sanders, mid 'Filibernie' via youtube.com