Bernie Sanders gave his own response to the State of the Union, following Stacey Abrams’ official SOTU response. Sanders’ response is an annual tradition that he does for his supporters, where he delivers a short response on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. During his first year, his response was 14 minutes long. In the second year, the response was 21 minutes long. Here’s a quick recap with highlights of what he said tonight.
Bernie started out congratulating Stacey Abrams for her speech and said she’d make a great Governor.
“Not everything Donald Trump said tonight is true or accurate,” he then said. He repeated how Trump had said the economy was the hottest and the best in the world. “That may be to true for the members of his … country club. … For the wealthiest people in our nation, Trump is right. The economy is really booming… But for the middle class…the economy is not so great.”
Real wages are lower today than in 1973 for the average worker, Sanders said, after adjusting for inflation. This is despite huge increases in productivity.
“Millions of American workers are now forced to work two or three jobs just to pay the bills and keep their heads above water economically.”
Sanders then said that we have more income equality than any other time since the gilded age of the 1920s. “Yes the economy is great, for the three wealthiest people in America who own more wealth than the bottom half of our country.”
He talked about senior citizens who don’t have retirement.
“The economy is not booming when half of Americans 55 years of age and older have no idea how they will live out the last years of their lives with dignity because they have no retirement savings,” he said. “And that includes … 20 percent of seniors trying to survive on incomes on less than $14,000 a year. I just don’t know how anyone, certainly not a senior citizen, survives on [that.]”
He then talked about students going into debt, and Americans who can’t even afford their own medication that their doctors prescribe to them.
“Over 40 million people in our country are living in poverty,” he said. “This is not an economy you should be proud of when we have the highest rate of childhood poverty in the developed world, and when life expectancy in the United States has actually gone down for the third year in a row.”
Sanders then reminded his viewer that millions of Americans are working on starvation wages.
He added that Trump didn’t talk about raising the minimum wage to a living wage. Instead, he talked about trade, but corporations have shifted 185,000 jobs overseas since he was elected.
Sanders talked about how Trump mentioned the need to build our infrastructure. “And he is absolutely right,” Sanders said. “…But the proposal he is bringing forth is … an absurd proposal. Trump would encourage states to sell our nation’s highways, our bridges … to Wall Street, to wealthy campaign contributors, even to foreign governments.”
He said privatizing the nation’s infrastructure is an old idea that has never worked. he then talked about how Trump spoke of how we’re born free and will stay free. Sanders said:
I say to President Trump, people are not truly free when they can’t afford to go to the doctor when they are sick. People are not truly free when they can’t afford to buy the prescription drugs they desperately need. People are not truly free when they are unable to retire with dignity. People are not truly free when they are exhausted because they are working longer and longer hours for lower wages. People are not truly free when they cannot afford a decent place to live…when they cannot afford to feed their families.”
Sanders quoted Martin Luther King, Jr. when he said the U.S. has socialism for the rich and “rugged individualism” for the poor. Sanders said this is still true today.
Sanders then talked about how Trump said the strength of the economy depended on Trump being free from oversight and investigation. “The exact opposite is true,” Sanders said. “America’s strength is based on the rule of law and the fact that no one, not even the President of the United States, is above it.”
Sanders then addressed how Trump talked about a murder in Reno committed by an undocumented immigrant. Sanders said that in fact, the demonization of Latinos “is nothing less than racist, it is wrong, and it happens to be factually inaccurate.” Sanders said undocumented Latino immigrants commit fewer crimes than the general public in the U.S.
“Isn’t it strange that when we talk about terrible crimes committed… Trump forgot to mention that in 2017 a white man [Paddock] killed 58 people and wounded 851 in the deadliest shooting in modern American history. That also happened in Nevada.”
Sanders then said that Trump made a number of “anti-women” attacks when he spoke about not allowing certain kinds of abortions.
Then he said that Trump correctly did mention we need to address the opioid crisis. But writing a budget calling for a cut to Medicaid won’t help that fight, Sanders said.
“It is even more important to discuss some of what Trump refused to talk about,” Sanders said next.
One of those topics Trump did not discuss was climate change, Sanders said. Trump also did not talk about the need to guarantee health care to all people as a right, Sanders added, and the Citizens United decision.
“He didn’t talk about governors’ efforts all across this country … to suppress the vote,” Sanders said. “You can’t talk about freedom in America and ignore the vast amounts of voter suppression taking place.”
He also said that Trump did not mention Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid, despite promising during his campaign not to cut the programs. His budget, however, did propose massive cuts to those. Sanders then said that Trump ignored Russia interfering in the election in 2016, and didn’t say anything about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
Sanders said we don’t need to build a wall, but create comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship for millions.
He then quoted when Trump said we need to govern as one nation, not two parties. Sanders said he agrees, but throwing Americans off of health insurance isn’t the right way.
“Let’s take a look at what the overwhelming majority of people want,” Sanders said, adding they should do what most people want, not wealthy contributors. A Fox poll showed 70 percent of Americans support a tax increase on families making more than $10 million. The majority of Americans also support Medicare for All, he added. Another poll found that 72 percent of Americans, including 51 percent of Republicans, want to expand Social Security benefits. Americans want to create more jobs, and they want lower prescription drug prices. 72 percent of Americans, including 3/4 of Republicans, want to buy low-cost prescription drugs. And the majority of Americans want marijuana legalized, Sanders said, quoting more studies. The majority of Americans also want government-paid college tuition and a $15 minimum wage.
Overall, Americans by the majority want numerous policies that are currently being ignored, Sanders said.
My fellow Americans, if the overwhelming majority of Americans want us to pass these enormously popular initiatives, why can’t Congress pass them? Why isn’t Congress and the White House doing what the American people want them to do? The answer, frankly, is not complicated. The answer has everything to do with the power of the moneyed interests…”
Sanders said that while they may have the money, “we have something that is more powerful on our side — we have the people.”
If we are serious about transforming our country, if we are serious about rebuilding the shrinking middle class, if we are serious about reinvigorating our democracy and increasing over turnout, let us bring our people together to take on and defeat a ruling class whose greed is destroying our nation. … Our government belongs to each and every one of us, not just the few.”
At the conclusion of his speech, Sanders called for us to end unbridled greed and create a revived America.