Sen. Bernie Sanders, Robert Scheer and Dean Baker on the Proposed $700 Billion Bailout of Wall Street, the Largest Government Bailout of Private Industry in US History
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, Amy, that’s right. And I think if it’s too big to fail, it probably is too big to exist. And, by the way, among many other things, what we’re doing now with the Bank of America picking up Countrywide and picking up Merrill Lynch, you’re creating another institution which is too big to fail, so that, among many other things, in my view, that we have got to do is to start breaking up these very, very large multinational corporations who continuously put us in this position.
But my main concern—I’ve only got a few minutes here—my main concern is twofold. I mean, for the longest period of time, up to literally a few weeks ago, we had our friends in the Bush administration telling us that the fundamentals of the economy are strong, everything is just fine. And now they tell us we’re on the verge of a major economic meltdown. We’ve got to give Wall Street a $700 billion bailout. And, by the way, of course, it is not going to be the people who have benefited, the people at the very, very top who have benefited financially from Bush’s reckless economic policies who are going to pick up the bailout; it is going to be the middle class, which has been suffering for the last eight years.
So the first point that we have to make is, if a bailout is necessary, it is not going to be, if I have anything to say about it, a working people picking up the cost of this; it is going to be the top one-tenth of one percent, who earn more than the bottom 50 percent. It is going to be all of these people who have made out very, very well under Bush’s reckless policies. So that’s my main concern right now.
Obviously, also we have to ensure that the assets purchased from the banks are realistically discounted, so that we don’t get ripped off in the process, and we have to require that taxpayers receive equity stakes in the bailed-out companies.
Also, I think that we have got to be—we on the left have got to be thinking big and learn a little bit from our right-wing friends who are able to pivot on a dime. For years now, they’ve told us that we can’t afford—that the government providing healthcare to all people is just unimaginable; it can’t be done. We don’t have the money to rebuild our infrastructure. We don’t have the money to wipe out poverty. We can’t do it. But all of a sudden, yeah, we do have $700 billion for a bailout of Wall Street. So, my view is that, included in what we do, there should be a significant stimulus package, a really significant one, which addresses healthcare, which addresses sustainable energy, which addresses the infrastructure, which creates substantial number of jobs, addressing many of the long-term unmet needs of this country.
And that is why I like Bernie Sanders so much!