Bernie Sanders

Self-described “socialist” senator considering presidential bid

Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who describes himself as a “democratic socialist,” is thinking about jumping in the 2016 presidential race if a candidate willing to push far-left political views doesn’t emerge.

“There are enormous problems facing this country…income and wealth inequality, massively high unemployment, the fact that we’re the only country in the industrialized which doesn’t guarantee healthcare to all people, global warming,” Sanders told MSNBC’s Ed Schultz.

The comments come over some dissatisfaction among the far-left in the Democratic Partyover what has been perceived as the coronation of Hillary Clinton as the 2016 presidential nominee, assuming she does indeed run. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has been touted by some as a potential alternative candidate, but she has declined to run.

“It seems to me, it would be a real disgrace if we had a campaign where those issues — the needs of working families, the needs of the middle class, the needs of the elderly — were not front and center,” he said. “We need people out there fighting for ordinary people, not simply taking huge campaign contributions from the wealthy and the powerful.”

“What I have said is that candidate is needed, and if somebody else doesn’t step up, I am prepared to do it,” Sanders added.

Senate reverses course, repeals ethanol subsidies

Just two days removed from a failed vote to repeal ethanol subsidies and protectionist tariffs for the rent-seeking ethanol industry, the Senate wound up passing the measure in a 73 to 27 vote:

The Senate voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to eliminate billions of dollars in support for the U.S. ethanol industry, sending a strong message that the era of big taxpayer support for biofuels is ending.

The 73-27 vote may ultimately be symbolic since the White House has vowed not to repeal ethanol subsidies fully and the bill the repeal language is attached to is not expected to make it into law. But it underscores the growing desperation to find savings in a budget crisis that is forcing both sides of the aisle to consider sacrificing once-sacred government programs.
The increasingly hostile attitude toward federal ethanol support has added fuel to a steep fall this week in the price of corn, from which most U.S. ethanol is made.

The Senate vote shows the odds are diminishing that the 45-cent-a-gallon subsidy the government gives refiners and the 54-cent-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol — both targeted in Thursday’s vote — will be extended at current rates beyond their scheduled expiration at the end of this year.

Repeal was backed by fiscal conservatives like Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Jim DeMint (R-SC) and hardcore liberals like Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the chamber’s only professed socialist.

Weakened Audit the Fed bill passes the Senate

As noted on Monday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) sold out on his amendment to Audit the Fed, opting for version that doesn’t audit monetary policy. It was passed without opposition by the Senate yesterday.

As Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) pointed out in his weekly Texas Straight Talk column, there is some good to the Sanders amendment, but it wasn’t enough:

[A]greements with foreign central banks are not touched by the new Sanders Amendment language. At a time when Greece, Portugal, Spain and other countries are experiencing dire financial crises and have their hands out to the international community, we need to know if our Federal Reserve is at all involved in bailing them out. As weary as we are of bailing out companies, the American people would not stand for bailing out entire countries. Our government is wasteful enough in its own affairs without contributing to the waste of other countries. Yet the Fed currently has the tools it needs to do just this, and to do it in secret.

Sanders sells out on “Audit the Fed” amendment

Those of us that support the Audit the Fed legislation were snubbed last week by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) as he accepted a watered-down version of the measure:

Senate Democratic leaders cleared two major obstacles Thursday to winning passage of a Wall Street reform bill, beating back a Republican effort to curb the reach of a new consumer agency and striking a compromise on a watered-down bill to shine a light on Federal Reserve activities.
it took an aggressive last-minute lobbying effort by White House, Treasury and Federal Reserve officials to win a compromise on the Fed amendment. The original language called for a “comprehensive” audit of the Fed’s activities, most of which historically have been kept from public view.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the chief sponsor, struck a deal on the Senate floor to limit the scope of the one-time audit to only the Fed’s emergency lending to banks, allaying concerns that a review would have interfered with interest rate decisions.

“At a time when our entire financial system almost collapsed, we cannot let the Fed operate in secrecy any longer. The American people have a right to know,” Sanders said. “This amendment is not a radical idea.”

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) says that Sanders sold out since the compromise, which can be read here, leaves out an audit of monetary policy. Sanders admits the version passed by the House was stronger, but still feels his compromise is meaningful.

Hey Washington Post, 11 Senators are rated to the left of the self-described socialist

David Boaz takes issue with the Washington Post profile of Bernie Sanders. He is the only self-described socialist in the United States Senate. If that’s the case what do you call the 11 Senators that are rated to the left of him by the American Conservative Union?:

In a profile of the poetry-reading chief of staff to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the Washington Post calls Sanders not only “the only socialist in the U.S. Congress,” but also “surely [the Senate’s] most liberal [member].” Surely. I mean, he’s a socialist, right? (And by the way, that isn’t a label that Sanders rejects.)

DeMint places hold on Bernanke’s renomination until Fed audit bill clears Senate

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) has joined Sen. Bernie Sanders in placing a hold on Ben Bernanke’s confirmation to a second term as Chairman of the Federal Reserve. DeMint says that his hold will remain in place until S. 604, the Senate version of the “Audit the Fed” legislation, has passed.

From DeMint’s press release:

Bernanke’s Search for Reappointment Meets A Wall

Yes, because Bernanke is just doing such a great job right now. Bernie Sanders and Ron Paul speak alot of sense in this clip from National Public Radio. Remember: centralized power never lets go of itself.

[Editor’s note] We had to remove the NPR embed. For some reason it’s not working. You can listen to the story on Bernanke here.

Will Clinton Act To Ban “Private Mercenaries”?

Earlier this month, I commented on the indictment of several Blackwater Worldwide security guards for their role in the killing of 17 Iraqis. There’s more news to this story, as apparently during the heat of the Democratic primaries Hillary Clinton cosponsored with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) the Stop Outsourcing Security Act.

The Act specifically called for the Secretary of State, an office she will be occupying next year, to act in making sure that American defense is provided for by the military:

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