Bernie Sanders: To boost turnout, Dems must attack GOP's "corporate agenda"

"Incredible level of corporate greed" is driving inflation, says Sanders; Democrats must push "pro-worker" policies

Published October 24, 2022 5:30AM (EDT)

Sen. Bernie Sanders addresses a rally of striking British workers at Trade Union Congress headquarters on Aug. 31, 2022, in London. (Guy Smallman/Getty Images)
Sen. Bernie Sanders addresses a rally of striking British workers at Trade Union Congress headquarters on Aug. 31, 2022, in London. (Guy Smallman/Getty Images)

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With early voting underway across the country, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., voiced concern on Sunday about turnout on the Democratic side — particularly among young and working-class voters — and urged the party to more forcefully differentiate its economic agenda from the corporate-friendly policies of the GOP.

"I am worried about the level of voter turnout among young people and working people," Sanders, chair of the Senate Budget Committee, told CNN's Jake Tapper. "What Democrats have got to do is contrast their economic plan with the Republicans'. What are the Republicans talking about? They want to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid at a time when millions of seniors are struggling to pay their bills."

"Democrats should take that to them," said Sanders, who recently announced an eight-state voter mobilization tour aimed specifically at energizing young and working-class voters amid mounting fears that Democrats aren't focusing enough on the economy.

One recent analysis found that less than 7% of Democrats' total ad spending since Labor Day has been devoted to the economy and inflation, which remains stubbornly high as the Fed continues to jack up interest rates, risking a painful recession.

"I think what we have got to do is contrast what a strong, pro-worker, Democratic position is with the corporate agenda of the Republicans," Sanders said.

Pressed by Tapper to respond specifically to GOP inflation messaging — which recent polling suggests has been effective — Sanders said it's "important to take the attack to Republicans" on the issue by stressing the right-wing party's opposition to cutting prescription drug prices and support for slashing Social Security and Medicare benefits.

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If they retake both the House and Senate in the midterms, Republicans are also planning an effort to make permanent the tax cuts for the rich that they enacted in 2017 — a move that would likely exacerbate inflation.

During his CNN appearance Sunday, Sanders emphasized the role that corporate profit-seeking has played in producing high inflation, which he noted is a global problem caused by myriad factors, including pandemic-related supply chain disruptions and Russia's war on Ukraine.

"At a time when working families are struggling, having a hard time filling up their gas tanks, paying for food, paying for prescription drugs, we are living in a nation today where the richest people are doing phenomenally well," Sanders said. "And one of the reasons for inflation is the incredible level of corporate greed."

"Check out the profits of the oil companies, the drug companies, the food companies," Sanders continued. "I think what the Democrats have got to say is, 'We are going to stand with working people. We're prepared to take on the drug companies, we're prepared to take on the insurance companies and create an economy that works for all of us.'"

By Jake Johnson

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