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NBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript: Economic Recovery

Interview

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Senator Bernie Sanders with us tonight independent from Vermont. Senator, good to have you with us. All of the things that you have talked about are coming to fruition no doubt. But, Senator how does our -- an economic recovery take place when you got wage earners going in the wrong direction?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I) VERMONT: Well, Ed first of all thank you very much for discussing this issue because you are one of the few people in the media who in fact are dealing with one of the great economic and moral issues, moral issues facing our country. And the answer to your question is we are having a great economic recovery if you`re on Wall Street, if you`re in the top 1 percent, if you are one of the multinational corporations that it`s enjoying record breaking profits. For the people on top the economic recovery has been extraordinary, but if you are in the middle class your wages have gone down, median family income has gone down by $5,000 since 1999.

Ed, today, we have more people in this country living in poverty than any time in the history of America and the gap between the very, very rich and everybody else is growing large.

SCHULTZ: That is almost an unbelievable statement. We have more poverty now than we`ve ever had in America`s history. And we sit there and watch our politicians not even talk about it or do anything about it -- a slack view such as yourself.

SANDERS: But it`s not only the politicians, it`s the media as well.

SCHULTZ: Well .

SANDERS: So we are seeing a disappearing middle class. We have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country on earth. Do we even talk about it, not alone act on it? So I thank you for being -- having the courage to get involved in this issue.

SCHULTZ: Well, Senator, no one has explained to anybody how we`re going to have an economic recovery when you have the median income going down in America. That means, that there`s, you know, less disposable income for them to go out and spend in the economy .

SANDERS: Right.

SCHULTZ: . but it also restricts their ability to contribute to the community for the basic services that communities need to survive. I mean there`s going to have to be some kind of real tax reform to turn this around if we`re going to have full economic recovery. We may be sitting here at 7, 8, 9 percent unemployment for years to come. Your thoughts.

SANDERS: Well, Ed, you know, what our Republican friends are telling us is that we have to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, nutrition, food stamps, et cetera. And you know what the American people are saying? They are saying overwhelmingly in poll after poll, Republican, Democrat, Independent, "Create jobs, create the millions of jobs that this country desperately needs."

Ed, one of the things that I worry about is not only very high unemployment but it is even higher for young people. Kids graduating high school have no place to go.

SCHULZ: Yeah.

SANDERS: So what we need to do is focus on job creation, raising the minimum wage, changing our trade policy, and paying attention to the middle class rather than the billionaires and multinational corporations.

SCHULTZ: We have a political party in this country, the Republicans that do not view this as a problem. They don`t talk about it. They don`t address it. They don`t even like using the term middle class. I mean they`re all about power. How could we ever restructure -- I mean, let me ask you this. Would this be a conversation piece in these budget negotiations that you`re going to be involved in? I mean the numbers are very clear.

SANDERS: I have already and will continue to talk about that. Look, what the Budget Committee has got to do is to do what the American people want. And what the American people want is for the wealthiest people and the largest corporations in this country to start paying their fair share of taxes. The American people, regardless of their ideology, want to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. And the American people want us to create jobs.

So my message to the Budget Committee is "Hey, let`s be very radical. Let`s do what the American people want us to do."

SCHULTZ: Senator, you went on a Southern tour. Did you see these numbers in real life?

SANDERS: Absolutely. Absolutely. You think it`s bad all over the country. It is. In the Deep South, it`s even worst. And, Ed, that is why we need to get rid of this mythology of red state, blue state. What we need to do is focus attention on these economic issues all over this country.

SCHULTZ: Yes.

SANDERS: Whether you`re conservative or not, people want jobs, they want to raise incomes, they want to make college affordable. We can bring people together on a progressive economic message. And by the way, nobody that I know thinks it is acceptable to have this kind of grotesque inequality in America in terms of wealth and income.

SCHULTZ: That`s exactly what it is. You know, I just wish the media and the Republicans would put as much effort into rebuilding the middle class as they have into selling junk insurance to us which of course has been a big discussion in the last several weeks.

Senator Bernie Sanders, always great to have you with us telling the truth here on the Ed Show. Thanks so much.

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