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NBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript: Campaign Finance


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For more, let me bring in Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who was
been very critical of dark money advocating of course for workers all the
time but also very concerned about communications in this country.
Senator, why is Ted Cruz blocking the nomination of Tom Wheeler? How
do you see this as part of his plan and just gumming this all up? What
does it mean?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), VERMONT: Well Ed, you know, what Senator
Cruz is talking about is an issue of huge, huge consequences. At the end
of the day, these guys have gotten Citizens United. And that means that
the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson and all of these guys can spend
hundreds and hundreds of hundreds of millions of dollars on political
campaigns opted without any disclosure.

They want to go further. What they want to do is to make sure that
individuals will be able to spend as much money as they want on campaigns,
giving money to individuals without any disclosure, whatsoever.

So, ultimately, what they are about is creating a campaign finance
system where billionaires can spend unlimited sums of money on campaigns
and candidates electing the people they want. That is not, in my view, a
democracy. That is called oligarchy, where a nation is run by a handful of
billionaires and the democratic foundations of this country are totally
supported (ph).

Now, what Senator Cruz is here talking about, he is really outraged by
the fact that the FCC is supporting a rule where it says that if you are
putting ads on television in the 50 largest media markets in this country,
that they are going to put that information on their websites so that the
American people will know .


SANDERS: . who is in fact funding these ads.

In my view, we should see that not only in the 50 largest markets but
all over this country, not only on television but on radio.

But bottom line here is what Senator Cruz and his friends want is a
campaign system where a few billionaires can spend unlimited sums of money
without any disclosure at all. That is what they want. And we have got
not only to the feedback, we need the alternative which is overturning
Citizens United .


SANDERS: . and which is moving forward to a public funding of

SCHULTZ: And Senator, there`s a domino effect to all of this and I
think the protection of the big three, Medicare and Medicaid, the Social
Security, plays right into this. Cruz wants to give these guys a super
highway, a pathway. They`re vilifying (ph) everything that we have when it
comes to earned benefit programs.

This, of course, is going to enamor (ph) him even further with the
conviction crowd. And I`ll tell you, it really is a brilliant strategy
because nobody else -- whoever thinks that the Chairman of the FCC would
play right in to somebody`s political campaign. But it`s very clear what
Cruz is doing. Are you concerned on the Budget Committee that this is what
you`re going to be running into?

SANDERS: Look, absolutely. This very same people who are making huge
contributions, and we`re talking about hundreds and hundreds of millions of
dollars, these are exactly the same people who are leading the affect (ph)
to cut Social Security, to cut Medicare, to cut Medicaid, to give huge tax
breaks to the wealthiest people in this country. All of that stuff is
related. That is the right wing extremist agenda.

And campaign financing, the ability of billionaires to buy elections
is at the very top of their list in terms of what they want to accomplish.

SCHULTZ: Yeah. Senator, on the other hand, with Cruz gaining in
notoriety, popularity, and with the French (ph) right, does it make the
Democrat`s job a little bit easier making the case to America about what
are our priorities?

SANDERS: Well, the answer is yes or no, Ed. In one sense, obviously,
he is such an extremist, that one should talk about his agenda, it becomes
easy to defeat him. But on the other hand, what he and others have managed
to do is move the Democratic Party further to the right. You and I have
talked about this a million times.


SANDERS: We have a number of Democrats now who are talking about,
"Let`s cut Social Security." The President of the United States is now
talking about that. So it`s a mix bag. Yes, he could be defeated. But,
on the other hand, he is helping to move the country to the right.

We need a strong progressive agenda which talks about the America that
we want, which is a very different one than Senator Cruz is talking about.

SCHULTZ: Senator Bernie Sanders, good to have you with us tonight on
the Ed Show. I appreciate your time so much. Thank you, sir.

SANDERS: Thank you.


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