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Public Statements

MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript

Interview

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Joining me tonight is Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Senator, you have the floor. What is the scariest thing about what I have just said about Citizens United at the local level?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: You know what the scariest thing is? You`re right, Ed.

I think people back home are thinking -- well, he`s exaggerating. Throwing around words like oligarchy, throwing around words like plutocracy, but that is exactly what`s happening now. Two trends: number one, in terms of distribution of wealth and income, you have a situation now where the top 1 percent owns 40 percent of the wealth. The bottom 60 percent owns 2 percent of the wealth. And the gap between the very, very rich and everybody else is growing wider.

You got the Walton family of Walmart alone owning more wealth than the
bottom 30 percent of Americans. So, that`s one trend. Rich are getting
richer. Everybody else is getting poorer.

And now with the Citizens United decision, what the Supreme Court said to all of these billionaires -- go for it. You`re tired of buying coal companies and gambling casinos. You know what you can buy now? You can buy the United States government.

So if you are the Koch brothers and you`re worth $50 billion, you`re Sheldon Adelson, you`re worth $20-plus billion, why would you hesitate one minute to spend $1 billion, $2 billion? That`s pretty good.

You could own the government. You could own various states. You can own county commissioners. You could own governors. Pretty good deal.So that`s where we`re heading right now. Now, immediately, what we have got to do is we have got to do everything we can to overturn this disastrous Citizens United decision. Some of us have brought forth constitutional amendments, short-term, and I think within the next couple weeks, we`re going to bring legislation to the floor of the Senate called the DISCLOSE Act.

DISCLOSE Act does two things. Number one, if you`re putting money into campaigns, you got to tell the world immediately who you are. No more anonymity. Number two, perhaps equally important, you want to put ads on
television, you`re going to have to have your pretty face right up there on
the TV screen if you`re the CEO of the corporation doing the advertising and you have to say I approve this message.

SCHULTZ: You think Republicans will go along with that, Senator?

SANDERS: No, I don`t.

I talked to Republicans, Ed, and in their hearts, some of them know that this is what is happening now is outrageous. But what they also know is it`s working to their advantage.

SCHULTZ: How can somebody like Harold Hamm be a major donor and openly serve as an adviser on energy policy? And how can this not be a signal to the American people that if Romney gets elected, it`s going to be guys like this that are going to be calling the shots?

SANDERS: Absolutely. And it`s Hamm and it`s energy. It is the Koch brothers and energy. What do these guys want? You know what really gets me, Ed, you know, if you were a billionaire, you know, how much more do you need? These guys are worth billions of dollars.

SCHULTZ: Well, they claim they`re going to take this wealth and create jobs. We haven`t seen that. What they`re going to do is buy more government to make sure they can concentrate the wealth and make sure they can have America exactly the way they want it.

Now, that`s what I believe and I don`t have any reason not to believe that the way things are going.

But I want to ask you, will Mitt Romney have to pay the mega donors back if he`s president?

SANDERS: Of course, he will. But it`s not even paying them back. That`s who he is. What does Romney talk about? He talks about to Wall Street -- he`s going to deregulate Wall Street, the entity that caused this horrendous recession in which so many people are suffering.

He`s talking about more tax breaks for the wealthiest people in this country. At a time when we have lost millions of decent-paying jobs because of outsourcing, Mr. Romney will take his outsourcing experience and make it even more prevalent.

So it`s not that he will give them what they want. They`re in the same boat together. They believe the same thing. More for the rich, and less for the middle class and working families.

And by the way, Ed, these guys if they get the power to do it, they`re going to go after Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, educational opportunities. They are working day and night to create the oligarchy you just talked about.

SCHULTZ: They`re going to run the table, they`re going to get the new deal if this keeps up.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, great to have you with us tonight. Thank you, Bernie.

SANDERS: Good to be with you.

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