Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said Sunday Democrats pushing for both an infrastructure public works bill and a massive social program bill are fighting holdouts in the party as well as “the entire ruling class of this country.”
In an interview on ABC News’ "This Week," the progressive veteran said only Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Krysten Sinema of Arizona are not “on our side.”
“From day one, it has been clear the president of the United States has said it, Speaker of the House [California Rep.] Nancy Pelosi has made it clear. The [Senate] Majority Leader [Charles] Schumer [D-N.Y.] has made it clear. Both of these are going forward in tandem,” Sanders said of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill and the current $3.5 trillion social infrastructure bill. “We've got to pass them both.”
Sanders said he agreed with Manchin that the larger bill has to be paid for, and that it would be — by the country’s wealthiest people.
“If you will just listen to what Manchin said. He said he wants it to be paid for. He's right,” Sanders said. “I want it to be paid for, and, in fact, that is exactly what we are going to do.”
“If it's $3.5 trillion, we can pay for it because as everybody knows, we got some of the wealthiest people in this country who don't pay a penny in federal income tax,” he continued. “Large corporations don't pay a nickel in federal income tax. So if Manchin wants to pay for it, I'm there. Let's do it, and by the way, you can pay for it at $3.5 trillion, and you can pay for it at $6 trillion. We have massive income and wealth inequality. We can do that.”
According to Sanders, the bottom line is “we've got to pass the infrastructure bill, and the American people are going to have to stand up.”
“What bothers me about this whole thing, poll after poll shows what we are doing is exactly what the American people want,” Sanders said.
“It's not what the big money interest wants, or the lobbyists want. It's what the American people want, and we got to do it,” he asserted.
Sanders predicted President Joe Biden will stand firm on passing both packages.
“We're not just taking on or dealing with Senators Manchin or Senator Sinema,” he said. “We're taking on the entire ruling class of this country. Right now the drug companies, the health insurance companies, the fossil fuel industry are spending hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars from preventing us from doing what the American people want.”
“This really is a test of whether or not American democracy can work,” Sanders said. “I expect that the Democratic president will stand firm and tell the drug companies that the American people need, elderly people need dental care, hearing and eyeglasses and other people need child care that they deserve,” he said.
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