Bernie Sanders: Forbes 400 shows 'incredible and obscene' wealth gap in 'Walmart economy'
Bernie Sanders speaks to Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa (Telegraph Herald/screen grab)

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was disgusted when he perused the recently released Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans.

“Never before in the modern history of our country have so few had so much and so many had so little,” Sanders said. “This incredible and obscene level of wealth and income inequality is a grave danger to our economy and our political system.”

The left-leaning Sanders is giving “serious thought” to a 2016 presidential bid as a truly progressive candidate – who also hopes to attract libertarian and Tea Party voters with his populist message.

Speaking over the weekend in Davenport, Iowa, the senator discussed wage stagnation, wealth inequality, climate change, war, and high unemployment before a packed house of about 200 people, reported the Globe Gazette.

Sanders said the minimum wage should be boosted to at least $10.10 an hour, the newspaper reported, calling the current $7.25 minimum a “starvation wage.”

"The fastest way to create jobs is to put money into the hands of working people, not the very wealthy," Sanders said.

He drew enthusiastic applause when he suggested U.S. trade policies – including NAFTA and the proposed TPP – should be changed to encourage domestic investment, rather than shipping jobs overseas.

“Corporate America that wants us to buy their products every night on TV, buy this and buy that,” Sanders said. "Well, maybe they should start building those factories in America, so we can produce some of the products that we buy.”

He pointed out that 60,000 U.S. factories had closed in the past 15 years, and he told younger members of the audience about a time when shoppers could purchase products made in America.

Sanders said the largest private sector employer 30 years ago was General Motors, while today it was Walmart – which he said offered “low wages (and) minimal benefits, and (is) vehemently anti-union.”

“That is the transformation of the American economy, from a General Motors type economy, producing real products for real wages and real benefits, to a Walmart economy,” he said.

He pointed out that Forbes showed the 400 wealthiest Americans were worth $2.29 trillion – up 13 percent from last year, while more than half of Americans have less than $10,000 in savings.

“Congress must summon the courage to take on their big money campaign contributors and pass legislation that asks the wealthy to start paying their fair share of taxes and overturns the disastrous Supreme Court decision on Citizens United,” Sanders said.

The senator said real unemployment was nearly double the official 5.9 percent rate, and he said youth unemployment was close to 20 percent.

“You heard a whole lot of discussion about Ferguson, Missouri, and the tragedy that occurred there – the shooting down of an unarmed young man,” Sanders said. “But what you didn’t hear about is that African-American youth unemployment (is) over 30 percent, and the projection is that a black male born today stands a one out of three chance of ending up in jail.”

Sanders has made several recent visits to Iowa, which holds the first presidential caucus in the nation, and he told reporters that he would run a serious campaign if he decides to pursue the White House.

“If I run, I will run to win,” he said.

Watch video of his speech posted online by Soldierette: