Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Monday called out Wall Street for contributing to what he called a “grotesque and growing level of wealth and income inequality.”
In a speech to the Brookings Institute’s Center for Effective Public Management, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee said that the United States was experiencing a government that was “of the billionaires, by the billionaires, for the billionaires.”
“This is a profound moral issue, it is an economic issue and it is a political issue,” he said. “Despite an explosion of technology, despite a huge increase in productivity, despite all of the benefits of the so-called global economy, millions of workers today are working longer hours for low wages, and we have more people living in poverty than almost any time in this history of our country.”
“Shamefully, we have by far the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country on Earth,” Sanders continued. “You hear a whole lot of discussion about family values from my Republican friends but nothing about the fact that almost 20 percent of our kids are living in poverty.”
And according to the Vermont senator, activists in the Occupy Wall Street movement “have every right to be angry” because the median male worker earns less today than he did 42 years ago, and the median female worker earns less than she did in 2007.
“The top 1 percent now own about 41 percent of the entire wealth of the United States, while the bottom 60 percent own less than 2 percent,” he pointed out. “The top 16,000 family own almost as much as the bottom 90 percent!”
Sanders observed that just six Wall Street firms had assets equalling 60 percent of the United States gross domestic product.
“If Teddy Roosevelt, a good Republican, were alive today, I know what he would say… It is time to break them up,” Sanders argued.
“Casino capitalism, runaway capitalism, which is what we are experiencing right now is a disaster,” he later told E.J. Dionne. “What we are talking about is in a democratic civilised society that, the basic necessities of life should be available to all people.”
“Wall Street, instead of being the grease for the economy — taking money in and getting it out to small businesses, medium-sized businesses — what Wall Street has become is an island unto itself,” the senator noted. “Its goal is to make as much money as it can in whatever way that it can do it.”
“I don’t want to try to be too dramatic here. I happen to believe that the business model of Wall Street is fraud and deception.”
Sanders’ speech begins at the 18 minute mark below. His remarks about Wall Street begin at the 59 minute mark.
(h/t: Washington Examiner)
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