Bernie: "We Have An Oligarchy In This Country And We Might Want to Be Focusing On That As Well"

Because establishment Democrats made the conscious decision to move the Democratic Party away from the wildly popular and successful FDR path and in a more conservative, corporate-friendly direction, Biden-- since the early 1970s very much part of that establishment consensus-- was dealt a shitty hand as president. Chuck Schumer's top contribution to the Senate, Kyrsten Sinema (pictured above, laughing at Biden's modestly progressive agenda), plus Joe Manchin, have blocked every single initiative that would have made Biden a successful president instead of an abject failure. At this point, it looked as though he will be judged by history as a placeholder who was "not as bad as Trump."

This morning, writing for Politico, Ryan Lizza and Eugene Daniels, noted that Democrats are desperately trying to understand what's roiling the electorate heading into a brutal midterm environment. Every progressive Democrat I speak with knows exactly what's roiling the electorate: a lack of accomplishment. Focus groups show voters experiencing:

  • A preoccupation with inflation and crime.

  • Exhaustion with pandemic restrictions.

  • Cynicism about politics.

  • Deep frustration that President Joe Biden and Democrats have failed to deliver on their early promises.

  • Sympathy for Ukraine mixed with a lack of enthusiasm for Biden spending too much time and money on the issue.

  • Ambiguity about how important Jan. 6 should be for Democrats in the midterms.

After the Build Back Better bill collapsed, Biden and many Democrats began talking about last year’s two big wins: the American Rescue Plan and the bipartisan infrastructure law. But these two panels of base Democratic voters kept returning to what still needs to be done.

Would Bernie have had more success? We do know he would have tried-- and a lot harder. Take this press release his office released last week: Chairman Sanders to Hold Budget Committee Hearing on Corporate Greed. That hearing was today.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, announced Friday that the committee will hold a hearing Tuesday, April 5, at 11 a.m. titled “Corporate Profits are Soaring as Prices Rise: Are Corporate Greed and Profiteering Fueling Inflation?”
Tuesday’s hearing comes as working families across the country are increasingly bearing the brunt of growing economic pain and inequality. Across every major industry, prices continue to rise-- this includes a 38 percent increase in the price of gasoline, a 44 percent increase in the price of heating oil, a 41 percent increase in the price of a used car, a 24 percent in the price of rental cars, and a 17 percent increase in the price of furniture. Further, Tyson Foods recently increased beef prices by 32 percent, the price of chicken by 20 percent and the price of pork by 13 percent. As prices increase, corporate profits hit a record high of nearly $3 trillion in 2021, up 25 percent in a single year.
This level of corporate greed has only widened the gap between the top one percent and the working class. In 2020, CEOs of the top firms in the U.S., on average, made nearly 350 times more than the median worker. As corporations increase costs for working families, many are rewarding their shareholders with stock buybacks and their CEOs with massive compensation packages. In 2021, S&P 500 firms spent nearly $900 billion on stock buybacks. Corporate executives have bragged to shareholders about increasing prices to make themselves obscenely richer.
“Let me be clear,” said Sanders. “The American people are sick and tired of corporate greed. They are sick and tired of being ripped-off by corporations making record-breaking profits. They are sick and tired of being forced to pay outrageously high prices for gas, rent and food while large corporations make out like bandits. We cannot continue to allow large, profitable corporations to use the war in Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the specter of inflation to make outrageous profits by price gouging Americans in every sector of our economy. It’s time we discuss how corporate greed and profiteering are fueling inflation.”
Testifying at the hearing will be Robert Reich, Lindsay Owens, and Michael Faulkender.

Want to watch? It's long, but it's good: