Bernie Sanders Speaks Out About Vermont Issues

The subject of Bernie Sanders evokes a variety of opinions that range from favorable to ones of hate.

The cordial opinions include “Bernie cares about his constituents”, “He fights for the people of Vermont”, and “His independence is what makes him an effective member of Congress”.

The hateful remarks consist of “Bernie’s a communist”, “He sucks as an individual”, and “He’s a hypocrite”. Watching Bernie Sanders give a speech to group of students eating lunch at Cook Commons, Congressman Sanders is yelling into a microphone spewing a variety of criticisms towards both the White House and the Republicans concerning college loans, prescription drugs, Iraqi and U.S. Foreign policy.

Some student’s take a moment from eating their food to listen, and other students ignore him. What is evident from the crowd is while people may know Congressman Sanders, many in the crowd do not know what he does in Washington DC.

Congressman Sanders is a ranking member of the House Subcommittee for IMF funding, he has fought for better prescription drug coverage and has even gone as far as busing Vermont Senior Citizens into Canada to buy cheaper drugs.

Congressman Sanders has been a supporter against the use of immediate military force in Iraqi and has fought for better federal funding for the homeless.

Within the last few months there has been a push by the White House to use force against Iraqi.

The Bush administration has been criticized for its desire to use a unilateral action, instead of going through the United Nations.

Congressman Sanders has been at the forefront advocating, “War is something we should avoid, and the President is not doing everything to avoid war.”

A unilateral or preemptive strike would also turn our allies away from the US, particularly the Muslim countries who support the president’s War on Terrorism.

“Allies feel that unilateral US action will fracture the terrorism coalition, turn off Muslim countries, and it will increase terrorism. These potential actions will give Osama Bin Laden evidence to stand up and say, ‘See I told you so!'”

Other roles that Congressman Sanders has been working on in Washington include making housing more affordable.

As Mayor of Burlington in the 1980s Sanders helped start the Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS). The COTS program has helps find temporary housing for homeless or displaced people in the Burlington.

The program was such a success it won an award from the U.S. Department for Housing and is still in use today.

When asked if this issue pertained to the current Burlington Housing crisis, the Congressman said “Yes, but this crisis goes beyond Burlington and this state.” He stated, “Local communities do not have the resources to aid this crisis all over the state. Right now, I am working on the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund that has the support of over 3,000 separate organizations and over 200 cosponsors in the House.

“The subject of affordable housing is not within the capacity of most communities, and I foresee it being federally assisted”

In his speech at Cook Commons Congressman Sanders, spoke adamantly about the rising costs of College Education. He stated, “The federal government has not kept up with grants and aid to help assist individuals with the rising costs of college inflation. The government must make available more grants and expand this service to people.”

Currently, the White House’s 2001 budget, the President proposed freezing funding for a series of student aid programs including Work-Study, Perkins Loans, Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, and Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnerships.

When asked if there needed to be an expansion of debt forgiving service programs such as Teach for America, which forgives college loans if students teach in a urban school for a number of years or AmeriCorps. Mr. Sanders responded, “There needs to be an increase in these programs, they help with the costs of education and help supply the labor shortages in certain areas.”

Congressman Sanders is the ranking member of International Monetary Policy and Trade whose parent committee is the House Fiscal Services Committee. His Subcommittee focuses on federal monetary policy, currency, precious metals, the valuation of the dollar, and economic stabilization.

The last question was asked if he thought the Campaign Reform Law would hamper Grass Roots politics.

Congressman Sanders asserted, “Grass roots activism is about focusing on getting ordinary people involved with the process and that needs to be the main goal of this activism.”