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MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript: The Economy

Interview

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SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

You like numbers? I got numbers for you tonight. There is big
economic news today. Records are being broken. But there is still a major
story of income inequality underneath all of this.

First, the numbers. The nation`s economy added 157,000 jobs in
January, and the unemployment rate -- well, it ticked up to 7.9 percent.
But the jobs numbers for both November and December were revised upwards
significantly. This means more than 2 million jobs were created last year.
The best number since 2005 and better than seven out of eight years in the
Bush/Cheney era.

Now, the economy has now gained 5.5 million jobs out of the 8.74
million jobs lost in the great recession. We got a long way to go. No
doubt about it.

Now, the stock market is on a roll. It topped 14, 000 today for the
first time since 2007, 100,000 construction jobs were added in the last
four months of 2012, and today, Chrysler posted its highest sales in five
years.

And there is another side of this story, of course. Millions of
people are still out of work. The economy actually shrank by a tenth of a
point last quarter because of what? Government cutbacks -- 2/3 of
Americans are planning to delay the retirement according to "The Wall
Street Journal" because of the financial losses, income stagnation and
layoffs over the past several years.

Now, income inequality in the United States actually, folks, has
gotten worse. And we now rank in the middle of Latin American countries,
which have historically had poor economies and high levels of income
inequality.

We got a lot of work to do.

Let`s turn to Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Senator, great to have you with us tonight. Thanks for joining us.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Good. My pleasure.

SCHULTZ: There is still an ugly underbelly to this economy as it
stands right now. This past election was themed about and focused on the
middle class.

What can we do, Senator, moving forward here in the short-term? Your
thoughts?

SANDERS: Well, first of all, Ed, we have to do exactly what you were
doing now and focus on an issue that gets very, very little attention.
That is the fact that we have the most unequal distribution of wealth and
income of any major country on earth, worse today in the United States than
at any time since 1928 before the Great Depression.

Ed, from a moral perspective, moral, we have to ask ourselves whether
we think it is acceptable that the top 1 percent owns 35 percent of the
wealth in America when the bottom 60 percent owns 2.3 percent of the
wealth. Whether it is acceptable that the top 1 percent earns more income
than the bottom 50 percent. And in the last study that we saw in 2010, 93
percent, 93 percent of all new income went to the top 1 percent.

Is that the kind of country that we feel comfortable living in?

SCHULTZ: I don`t think so. I don`t think the American people believe
that. And I think that`s what this election was all about. I mean, when
you look at it, middle class families earned more in 1996 than today.
I mean, it`s absolutely amazing. The middle class are still asked to
share the sacrifice with the cuts to the big three.

SANDERS: That`s right.

SCHULTZ: We have to grab this conversation.

SANDERS: That`s exactly right.

And, Ed, what this is also about, it`s not only morality and fairness,
it is about politics, because what do you think the big money folks are
doing?

The big corporations who are enjoying record-breaking profits, the
wealthiest people are doing phenomenally well. They`re not sitting on
their money. They`re putting huge amounts of money into the political
process so they get even more tax breaks, more ability to outsource our
jobs, more ability to put their money in tax havens in the Cayman Islands.
And furthermore, it`s not only a political issue, it`s an economic
issue. And that is if consumers do not have the money, if the middle class
and working families do not have the income to spend, how are you going to
create jobs? How are you going to create jobs?

SCHULTZ: Well, that`s the whole thing.

Senator, your thoughts on what policies would reduce this wide gulf of
income inequality?

SANDERS: Well, let me just kick off a very few. I think what almost
all economists recognize is that when real unemployment is over 14 percent,
counting those people who have given up looking for work and are working
part-time, we need to invest significant sums of money, rebuilding our
crumbling infrastructure -- roads, bridges, water systems, mass transit, et
cetera.

Second of all, given the threat of global warming, we need to invest
very heavily and create jobs in weatherization, energy efficient and
sustainable unreasonable. That`s one area, Ed, if we are aggressive, we
can create many millions of jobs rather quickly.

Second of all, we have got to demand that Wall Street stop sitting on
the huge amounts of money they are and get that money out to the productive
economy so small and medium-sized businesses have the capital to expand and
also create new jobs.

SCHULTZ: That is a plan that needs to be discussed. And Americans
ought to get behind.

Senator Bernie Sanders, thanks for joining us tonight. I appreciate
it.


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