Bernie Sanders

U.S. Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) discussed the upcoming midterm elections on "Meet the Press" on October 16, 2022. (Photo: NBC News/screenshot)

Sanders' Advice to Democrats Running in Midterms: 'Talk About the Economy'

Democratic candidates "should contrast their views with the Republican positions," the senator argued, pointing to "grotesque" GOP proposals to cut Social Security and Medicare.

U.S. Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders on Sunday urged Democrats running for office next month to focus more on economic issues on the campaign trail.

The Independent senator from Vermont, who caucuses with the Democrats, echoed his recent opinion piece for The Guardian in an NBC News interview, telling "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd that "what I think is Democrats should talk about the economy."

"I think they should contrast their views with the Republican positions," he said. "I believe, and most Democrats believe, that at a time when half our people are living paycheck to paycheck, we should raise the minimum wage to a living wage. No Republicans support that. I think we should make it easier for workers to join unions. Republicans don't support that."

"I believe that when you have billionaires not paying a nickel, in some cases, in federal income taxes, yeah, we should demand that the rich and large corporations start paying their fair share," Sanders continued. "Now, what Republicans are saying, Chuck, which is quite amazing to me, is that in the midst of these difficult economic times for seniors and for other people, you know what they say? We gotta cut Social Security. We gotta cut Medicare. We gotta cut Medicaid. I think that that is grotesque, and I think Democrats have got to hold them accountable for those reactionary positions."

Though many corporate media outlets are ignoring it, Republicans have made clear that they plan to gut Social Security and Medicare if they regain control of Congress in the November election. The four GOP congressmen hoping to serve as House Budget Committee chair have suggested the next deadline to raise or suspend the debt ceiling is "a point of leverage."

Sanders hopes that Democrats can hold and perhaps even expand their power in Congress. The interview highlighted some key Senate races, including Democratic Pennsylvania Lt. Gov John Fetterman v. Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz and Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes v. GOP Sen. Ron Johnson.

Campaigning Republicans have blamed Biden and other Democrats for economic issues that are disproportionately impacting working-class Americans. Meanwhile, many congressional Democrats have stayed silent on the Federal Reserve's recent interest rate hikes, which not only hit poorer people the hardest but also risk a recession and ignore how corporate greed is helping drive inflation.

Related Content

Sen. Elizabeth Warren questions bankers during a Senate hearing

With Most Dems Silent, Warren Slams Fed for Pushing US Toward Painful Recession

Jake Johnson

Inflation "is an international problem" caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, supply chain issues, Russia's war on Ukraine, and "incredible corporate greed," Sanders stressed. "And I hope everybody understands that when you go to the gas tank, you fill up your car today, the oil companies are making huge profits. The food companies are making huge profits... Pharmaceutical [companies] are making huge profits. We've got to deal with that issue. And Republicans won't, by the way."

Sanders said that he believes the Fed is "hurting the situation," adding: "I think it is wrong to be saying that the way we're going to deal with inflation is by lowering wages and increasing unemployment. That is not what we should be doing. This inflation thing is a real issue. It is a global issue. But at a time when working families are struggling and the people on top are doing phenomenally well, I don't think you go after working people."

The senator's message to voters across the country, but particularly working-class folks, is to vote for Democrats on November 8.

"Now, I'm not here to tell you that the Democrats are perfect," said the two-time Democratic presidential primary candidate. "Believe me, they are not. But on virtually all of the issues, including climate change, the choice is pretty clear. Democrats are far, far more preferable in Florida, Ohio, all over this country, and I hope very much that we can retain control of both the House and the Senate."

Related Content

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Amazon union organizer Chris Smalls

Sanders Says Dems Ignoring Economy Before Midterms 'Would Be Political Malpractice'

Jessica Corbett

As for Democratic candidates trying to win over some Americans who may have cast ballots for former President Donald Trump, Sanders said that "I think there are some extreme right-wing voters who are racists, who are sexists, who are homophobes, xenophobes... and I don't think you're gonna ever get them."

"But I also think there are millions of people in this country, working-class people, who look at Washington and they say, 'You know what? I'm falling further and further behind. I can't afford healthcare. I can't afford to send my kids to college. I can't afford the outrageous costs of prescription drugs. Who is listening to me?'" he continued.

"And I think what we need is a Democratic Party that has the guts to stand up to them and say, 'Yeah, we're gonna take on the greed of the insurance companies, and the drug companies, and Wall Street,'" Sanders declared. "And I think if we do that, some of those people--I'm not saying all--will say, 'You know what? I'm gonna stand with the Democratic Party because on these economic issues, they're far preferable to right-wing Republicans.'"

Join Us: News for people demanding a better world

Common Dreams is powered by optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter makes the difference.

Your contribution supports this bold media model—free, independent, and dedicated to reporting the facts every day. Stand with us in the fight for economic equality, social justice, human rights, and a more sustainable future. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.