Democratic presidential candidates participated in a CNN sponsored town hall meeting yesterday in Des Moines, Iowa with less than seven days before the Iowa Caucuses.
According to the latest polls, Vermont Senator Sanders has been surging in recent weeks as a populist candidate who is running on a platform that is centered on tackling economic inequality and working to reform Wall Street.
As expected, Sanders came out of the gates swinging about inequality problems in America and stagnant wages.
“And I think what the American people are perceiving is there is something very wrong in this country when ordinary Americans are working longer hours for lower wages, when we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country on earth, and almost all new income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent” Sanders said.
Sanders claimed that the U.S. economy is “rigged” and said there is a “corrupt campaign finance system” that permits billionaires to spend money through Super PACs to elect candidates of their choice.
CNN Host Chris Cuomo questioned Sanders if he is up to the whole job as president and cited a quote from President Obama earlier in the day, “You do not have the luxury of focusing on just one thing when you’re President of the United States. You have to be able to handle many different priorities.”
Sanders responded by stating that he has the background and judgment to do that and then said he didn’t support the Iraq War and instead led the opposition.
Sanders explained that Democratic Socialism is the right to economic security and noted that government should play a role in making sure that all American kids, regardless of their income, are able to get a higher education.
“Which is why I’m calling for free tuition at public colleges and universities, and why we have to deal with this horrendous level of student debt that people are having” Sanders said.
Sanders believes that Americans will support his medical – Medicare for All program because the United States today is the only major country that doesn’t guarantee health care to all people as a right.
Sanders is distrustful of private insurance companies and said America is the only country on Earth that allows private insurance companies to “rip us off” and noted that Americans spend three times more than the British, 50 percent more than the French.
Sanders said that he would raise taxes but eliminate private health insurance premiums for individuals and for businesses.
Tuition free colleges and universities will be paid for because Sanders is going to ask Wall Street to pay a tax on speculation.
Calling himself the “the most progressive member in the U.S. Senate,” Sanders said he also worked with Republicans when there was common ground.
He admitted to fighting against deregulation and leading the opposition to doing away with the Glass-Steagall legislation.
Former Secretary of State Clinton was asked about a recent statement from Vice President Joe Biden about her being a newcomer to the issue of income inequality.
Clinton responded by admitting that she has a 40 year track record of going after all kinds of inequality.
“And not only economic inequality: racial inequality, sexist inequality, homophobic inequality. The kinds of things that go after people to put them down and push them back” Clinton said.
Clinton pointed out that was involved in traveling to Beijing in 1995 and helped make a statement that human rights were women’s rights and women’s rights were human rights
Concerning income inequality, Clinton brought up her past legal experience with the Children’s Defense Fund and “going after schools that were being turned into private schools that were really there because they wanted to escape integration in the south.”
She also spoke about her past experience working for equality during her husband’s experience in the White House.
“At the end of eight years, we not only had 23 million new jobs, what was most important is incomes grew for everybody, not just those at the top, more people were lifted out of poverty, incomes rose, in the middle and working people” Clinton said.
On the topic of foreign policy, Clinton said that the American public has seen her exercising judgment in a lot of other ways besides the one vote she made for the Iraq War which she admitted was a mistake.
Clinton said that when she served as Secretary of State during President Obama’s first presidential term, she spent a lot of her time gaining back the confidence and the trust of America’s friends and allies around the world.
“And think about where we were when he became president. As I just said, Iran on the way to a nuclear weapon, which would have destabilized the entire Middle East, created an arms race the likes of which we have never seen” Clinton said.
“We had hundreds of thousands of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our best allies and friends in Europe and Asia were really put out with us because of the way they’d been treated by the Bush administration and were very skeptical that the United States was a good ally any longer and wanted to lead the world toward peace, prosperity and security” Clinton added.
When Clinton was asked by an American Muslim woman in the audience who served in the U.S. Airforce about protecting the constitutional rights of all groups of people without marginalizing any one community, Clinton used the opportunity to criticize “the Republican frontrunner” but avoided citing Donald Trump’s name.
“One of the most distressing aspects of this campaign has been the language of Republican candidates, particularly their frontrunner, that insults, demeans, denigrates different people. He has cast a wide net. He started with Mexicans. He’s currently on Muslims” Clinton said.
“It’s not only shameful and contrary to our values to say that people of a certain religion should never come to this country, or to claim that there are no real people of the Muslim faith who share our values, and to have the kind of dismissive and insulting approach” Clinton added.
Clinton acknowledged the need for a coalition that includes Muslim nations to defeat ISIS.
“And it’s pretty hard to figure out how you’re going to make a coalition with the very nations you need if you spend your time insulting their religion” Clinton said.
* It’s time for Donald Trump to put on his big boy pants and quit whining and threatening to boycott the next Fox Republican Debate because Fox Host Megyn Kelly will be one of the hosts. Contrary to what he believes, she has integrity as a journalist. Deal with it Trump.