Sen. Bernie Sanders: ‘Hard to Say’ Whether a Recession Is Coming

Melanie Arter | October 24, 2022 | 9:52am EDT
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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) (Photo by Guy Smallman/Getty Images)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) (Photo by Guy Smallman/Getty Images)

( - Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Sunday that it’s “hard to say” whether there is a recession coming, and he doesn’t want to see the Federal Reserve raise interest rates, because that will lead to more unemployment and lower wages.

When asked whether the United States is headed for a recession and if there is anything that can be done to stop it, Sanders said, “Well, I think what we certainly don't want to see is a Fed raising interest rates right now, which would result in more unemployment and lower wages.

“Here is the reality. You ask, Jake, why people are upset, why young people are upset, working-class people are upset, and the answer is pretty simple. For the last 50 years in this country, real wages are -- have not gone up. That's a reason to be upset,” he told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“Meanwhile, you got three people on top who own more wealth than the bottom half of American society. So, working people all over this country are saying, you know what? We are sick and tired of seeing all of the wealth, all of the income going to the people on top. Help us out,” the senator said.

“Why are we the only country on Earth not to guarantee health care to all people? Why do we pay the highest prices for prescription drugs? Why do we have a minimum wage today -- Republicans don't want to raise it; $7.25 an hour? That is a starvation wage. Why do kids leave school deeply in debt?” Sanders said. “So, we need an aggressive government that says, we're on your side, not on the side of the billionaires.”

“But do you think a recession is coming?” Tapper asked.

“Hard to say. I think, if we do the right things, we can protect the working class of this country,” he said.

When asked whether he’s worried the Democrats still haven’t found the right message on the economy, Sanders said, “Well, look, what I think, Jake, is, at a time when working families are struggling, having a hard time filling up their gas tanks or paying for food, paying for prescription drugs, we are living in a nation today where the richest people are doing phenomenally well, and one of the reasons for inflation is the incredible level of corporate greed. 

Check out the profits of the oil companies, the drug companies, the food companies. Their sky-high profits are ripping off the American people, and there are studies that estimate that 50 percent of inflation has to do with corporate greed. 

So, I think what the Democrats have got to say is, we are going to stand with working people. We're prepared to take on the drug companies. We're prepared to take on the insurance companies and create an economy that works for all of us.

Is the abortion issue important? Yes, but we have also got to focus on the struggles of working people to put food on their table.

Sanders said he’s “worried about the level of voter turnout among young people and working people who will be voting Democratic.”

“And I think, again, what Democrats have got to do is contrast their economic plan with the Republicans. What are the Republicans talking about? They want to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid at a time when millions of seniors are struggling to pay their bills. Do you think that's what we should be doing?” he said.

“Democrats should take that to them. Republicans -- Democrats want to have Medicare negotiate prescription drugs prices. We pay 10 times more for the same drugs that are sold in Canada. Republicans refuse to do that. So, I think what we have got to do is contrast what a strong pro- worker Democratic position is with the corporate agenda of the Republicans,” the senator said.

TAPPER: But, to play devil's advocate here, if I'm a swing voter out there, a young voter, working-class voter, I -- and I hear your message, I think, but you guys control everything. Democrats control the House and the Senate and the White House, and inflation is really high, and I'm having a tough time making ends meet. Why should I vote for you again?

SANDERS: Well, we have half the votes, exactly half the votes of the Senate and a tiny majority in the House, and I think it's important that, when we talk about inflation, Republicans will say, well, this is Joe Biden's fault. Really? Our inflation rate is much too high. It is 8 percent. It is 10 percent in the U.K., 10 percent throughout Europe, 7 percent in Canada.

Inflation is a global problem caused, A, by the breaking of supply chains because of the pandemic, by the war in Ukraine, and, as I said, a significant part of inflation has to do with corporate greed.

What are the Republicans' response to inflation? What do they want to do? Well, maybe they want to cut wages for workers. Do they want to raise the minimum wage? No, they don't.

So, I think it is important to take the attack to the Republicans. What do they want to do, other than complain? But bottom line is, you cannot cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, which is what they want to do. We have got to lower prescription drug costs, which is not what they want to do.


When asked whether Democrats should be talking about crime, Sanders said, “Crime is a real issue. Violence is a real issue, and I will tell you something. I go all over the state of Vermont. This drug problem, and the addiction to drugs, and the violence the drug causes is a huge problem all over this country. 

“So, we have got to focus in a smart way, not in a way that foments fear, but how do you deal with the growing addiction? How do you deal with the opioid crisis? And that means making investment in our young people, in good education, in good job training, and making sure that we have good law enforcement doing the right job all over this country.

“So, a more holistic approach, but do you think that would be resonant with voters, who a lot of them are just scared about going into cities or anywhere? They're afraid to leave their homes in some cases,” Tapper asked.

“Well, what need to do is have a -- it is a problem, and we need to have a sensible problem that actually work, and that's what we have got to work on,” Sanders said.

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