Hi Reddit. I'm Senator Bernie Sanders. Ask me anything. I'll answer questions starting at about 4 p.m. ET.

Follow me on Facebook for more updates on my work in the Senate: http://facebook.com/senatorsanders.

Verification photo: http://i.imgur.com/v71Z852.jpg

Update: I have time to answer a couple more questions.

Update: Thanks very much for your excellent questions. I look forward to doing this again.

Comments: 2523 • Responses: 14  • Date: 

mattmccarty1183 karma

As one of the few who did not vote for the Patriot Act, how do you feel about the recent public outcry over the NSA and spying from the Snowden leaks. Do you feel we could pass legislation to overturn some of the things in the Patriot Act?

SenSanders2498 karma

Not voting for the USAPatriot Act was one of the better votes that I've ever cast. In my view, the NSA is out of control and is very clearly acting in an unconstitutional manner. Terrorism remains a serious issue and we must do all that we can to protect the American people, but we don't have to do it through a massive invasion of privacy rights or undermining the constitutional rights of the American people. I am going to be working as hard as I can to pass the strongest legislation possible to end the abuses of the NSA and other intelligence agencies. If we are a "free country," then we cannot have the U.S. government, or for that matter the private sector, invading the privacy rights or our citizens.

2noame531 karma

First of all, thank you for taking the time to do this IAMA, Senator Sanders.

Back in May of this year, you asked the question of us, "What Can We Learn From Denmark?", and in that piece you mentioned their basic income guarantee. I'm sure you are also familiar, (though many reading this might not be), that we did actually pass a basic income guarantee of our own that passed the House but died in the Senate in 1970, back when we as a country thought poverty was systemic and not the fault of individuals.

Now in 2013, especially within the past few months since Switzerland made headlines with their gathering the necessary signatures required to vote on the implementation there of their own monthly income for all Swiss citizens regardless of employment, there have been a flurry of articles, from both the right and the left, discussing the implementation of a truly unconditional basic income (UBI) here in the U.S. as well.

With that said, this is my question for you:

Would you support a bill for the establishment of our own unconditional basic income, and if so, have you even already considered sponsoring such a bill?

It does seem to be one of those rare ideas drawing support from both conservatives and liberals alike, and being that we stand to lose half of our jobs to automation within 20 years, it seems like an inevitable choice between technological unemployment causing great suffering or great liberation.

Thank you for your time, and I would be happy to do whatever you recommend as a means of helping to accomplish such legislation.

Edit: For those interested, there's an entire subreddit to discuss this idea in greater depth. /r/BasicIncome

SenSanders402 karma

There is no question that when we have today more people living in poverty than at any time in American history and when millions of families are struggling day by day just to keep their heads above water, we need to move aggressively to protect the dignity and well being of the least among us. Tragically, with cuts in food stamps, unemployment compensation and other important benefits, we are moving in exactly the wrong direction. There are a number of ways by which we can make sure that every man, woman and child in our country has at least a minimum standard of living and that is certainly something that must be explored.

tt12345x341 karma

Thank you for doing an AMA here, Senator Sanders. Given the recent reports that you might be up for a presidential run in 2016:

  1. What would your campaign mostly focus on?

  2. Would being a socialist prevent a majority of Americans from voting for you?

  3. Would you run as a candidate in the Democratic party or run as a third-party candidate? Would doing the latter prevent yourself from getting an exorbitant amount of funding and support, or would you rather bolster support for third parties?

Thank you again for doing this AMA and for all the work you do in the United States Senate.

SenSanders1256 karma

I have not yet made a decision as to whether or not I will run for president. If I do, the main focus of the campaign would be on the decline of the middle class, high unemployment, income and wealth inequality and the fact that the United States is the only nation in the industrialized world not to guarantee health care for all people as a right.

andyol111290 karma

Hi Mr. Sanders.

Linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky often talks about the importance of workplace democracy and trying to create a decentralized socialism (often referred to as libertarian socialism ). In other words, a democratic economy based on cooperatives and more participation at the local level.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you agree that there should be more focus on things like worker ownership etc. and creating a more participatory democracy?

Keep up the good work.

SenSanders636 karma

I agree. Democracy is not just the right to vote every two years. It also means having an impact on your job and where you work. For millions of Americans, a job means not only inadequate wages but also no control over how they spend 40 hours a week of their lives. They are, in truth, cogs in a machine over which they have no power. In Vermont, we have made modest progress in the concept of worker ownership and companies with have strong employee stock ownership plans. When I visit those companies, where workers really do have a say over the nature of their job it is clear to me that those workers feel much better about their work life. I have also introduced legislation which would make it easier for businesses to sell their companies to their own employees.

FreeCollin256 karma

Do you see Obamacare as a "first step" or as a solution?

SenSanders941 karma

The bottom line is that our current health care system is dysfunctional. We spend almost twice as much per person on health care as do the people of any other nation despite the fact that over 40 million Americans have no health insurance and many more are under insured. I voted for the Affordable Care Act because it will provide health insurance to millions more Americans and ends the obscenity of "pre-existing conditions among other attributes. I also managed to get into that bill $11 billion to create hundreds of new community health centers throughout the country. Having said that, it is my strong view that the United States has to join the rest of the industrialized world and move toward a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system which guarantees health care as a right. I have introduced legislation to do just that.

darlingvikki2191 karma

Hi senator Sanders. I just wanted to let you know that you are a hero for us American people. How can the bottom 99% gain control of daily life in America?

SenSanders539 karma

The fact of the matter is that tragically this country is moving toward an oligarchic form of society in which a handful of billionaires have enormous power over the economic and political life of this country. I am extraordinarily concerned about the obscene level of income and wealth inequality, which is worse today than at any time since the late 1920s. Further, it is totally absurd that in recent years the top 1 percent have earned 95 percent of all of the new income created in America. In order to turn this around, we need a level of grassroots activism that we have not seen for many decades. We need 10s of millions of people to become actively involved in the political process and to demand that Congress and the president respond to their needs and not just the needs of billionaires and large campaign contributors. So in a variety of ways we need to educate, we need to organize and we need ordinary people to get politically involved.

boat298191 karma

Hello Senator Bernie ! What is the solution to giving Washington DC back to the Voters and giving big money and lobbyists the boot ?

SenSanders608 karma

If you are concerned about the economy, health care, the environment, women's rights or any other issue you must be concerned about the disastrous situation regarding campaign finances. For many years, big money has had enormous power over what goes on in Congress and the White House. The horrendous Supreme Court decision in Citizens United made a bad situation much, much worse. We now have the extraordinarily undemocratic situation by which billionaire families like the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson and others are able to contribute hundreds of millions of dollars into the political process and to elect the right-wing candidates they support. Nobody I know, and this goes across the political spectrum,believes that American democracy is about billionaires being able to buy elections. Short term, we need a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and I and Rep. Ted Deutch have offered what I think is a very strong amendment. Further, we need to pass public funding of elections so that working people and middle-income people can participate in the political process and run for office without being dependent upon wealthy benefactors.

atldoug124 karma

is there anything being done to restore the SNAP benifits , it really hurt when they cut my family back. thank you for your service to our country

SenSanders239 karma

In the United States of America in 2013 millions of Americans should not be worrying about where their next meal is coming from. Sadly, $5 billion added to the food stamp program in the stimulus package was not extended and my Republican colleagues in the House have passed a farm bill calling for a $40 billion cut in food stamps. This is outrageous and must be fought as hard as possible. With 46.5 million Americans living in poverty and almost one-quarter of American kids getting their nutrition through food stamps, we have got to work to make sure that all Americans have the nutrition they need to live healthy lives.

tiluchi118 karma

Hi Senator Sanders,

I'm a college student in your state, and very proud to call you my (adopted) representative. What steps do you think the United States must take in order to have a sensible energy policy and mitigate the threat of global warming as much as possible? What do you think of President Obama's environmental policy so far? Has it been sufficient?

SenSanders264 karma

The scientific community is telling us, loud and clear, that global warming is the most serious planetary crisis that we face. If we do not get our act together, and transform our energy system there will be more floods, more drought, more extreme weather disturbances and higher food prices. Along with Senator Barbara Boxer, I have introduced the strongest and most comprehensive global warming legislation ever written. Among many other proposals, it includes a tax on carbon and significant funds to move aggressively to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.

Paradoxiumm86 karma

The current capitalistic system is considered a failure by many whether because it is crash prone, the disparity between rich and poor, or a large number of other reasons.

What would be the three main things you would change about the current system?

SenSanders310 karma

I applaud the recent statements by Pope Francis, in which he levels strong and appropriate criticism of unfettered capitalism. No. 1, we need to invest significantly in the social safety net to make sure that every person in this country lives with dignity. It is an international embarrassment, for example, that the U.S. has, by far, the highest rate of childhood poverty in the industrialized world. No. 2, we need to move toward a national health care system which guarantees health care to all as a right and which, in fact, would be much more cost effective than the current dysfunctional system that we have. No. 3, we need to move toward a system of progressive taxation which makes certain that the wealthiest people in this country and the largest corporations start paying their fair share of taxes. Finally, we need real campaign finance reform which stops big money from buying elections.

Professor_Profound60 karma

Hello Senator Sanders, first of all let me say that i look forward to volunteering for your presidential campaign ;) Secondly, as a youth in this country I see more and more of my peers are becoming disillusioned with American politics as a whole, many see voting as a waste of time because they think they can't make a difference, and others just don't care, how do you plan on changing this view in Americas youth and what advice can you give to someone trying to convince people to get involved?

SenSanders128 karma

In my view, the way to get young people involved is to be honest in talking about the real problems facing this country and providing serious solutions to those problems. Young people having a difficult time affording college, who are experiencing exceptionally high unemployment rates, who are not able to get the education they want and deserve need to know that if we do not make fundamental changes in the way our government functions, they will be the first generation in modern American history to have a lower standard of living than their parents. So if they are interested in jobs, the environment, women's rights, gay rights, college affordability, global warming and many other important issues, they MUST get involved in the political process and help us make sure that government works for all of the people and not just powerful special interests.

LHB120260 karma

Hi Senator! As a longtime advocate for Social Security, how do you think we can best maintain the recent momentum behind the idea of expanding benefits?

SenSanders129 karma

As the founder of the Defending Social Security Caucus, I have been working very hard for the last couple of years to take on virtually every Republican, some Democrats, President Obama and billionaires like the Koch brothers and Pete Peterson who all want to make significant cuts to Social Security. The American people are very clear in poll after poll in telling us that they do not want the budget to be balanced on the backs of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor and that they do not want cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. More than a decade ago, when I was in the House, I first introduced legislation which would increase benefits for Social Security recipients. My approach was to have a special index in terms of how we formulate COLAs for Social Security, which would, in fact, show that the COLAs that seniors receive underestimate their real cost of living.

lautnerfied33 karma

Senator Sanders, How can we as Americans stop the Koch brothers and other republican donors from pushing their anti Minimum wage, anti social security, anti medicare/ medicaid agendas. I am a huge fan and I am on social security and Medicare and Medicaid and listen to your radio show every week.

SenSanders128 karma

The American people must understand the extremist nature of the agenda of the Koch brothers and other right-wing Republicans. Their goal is nothing less than repealing every major piece of legislation passed in the last 80 years which protect the interests of the middle class, working families, the poor, the sick and the environment. These people do not simply want to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, they want to get rid of these programs. Not only do they not want to raise the minimum wage, they want to abolish the concept of a minimum wage. They also want to do away with the EPA so that corporations can pollute our air, water and land with impunity. We need to organize aggressively against their incredible power. We need to overturn Citizens United. And we need real campaign finance reform which means public funding of elections.

khthorndike-2 karma

I believe that GMO's are one of the biggest threats to our health and the health of future generations. I have not heard your comments on this topic. It seems that we have been kept in the dark for 30 years despite the damaging effects GMO's have had on our health, especially the increase of allergies, asthma and multiple other chronic illness.

SenSanders34 karma

Honest people have differences of opinion about the possible impacts that GMO food might have on our long-term health and well being. My view, simply stated, is that people have a right to know, through the labeling process, whether the food they are eating contains GMOs. In dozens and dozens of countries throughout the word people do have that right and I believe we also should have that right in the United States. Last year I introduced an amendment, which got 27 votes, to make sure that states do have the right to require labels of foods with GMO ingredients. Connecticut became the first state to pass that kind of legislation. I hope others will follow.