Sanders: 'People Want Us to Deal With Climate Change, Make College Affordable'

Susan Jones | August 31, 2015 | 6:05am EDT
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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) (AP File Photo)

( - Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont socialist, says he knows exactly what the middle class wants:

"People want us to deal with climate change, make college affordable. Those are the issues I have been talking about. Those are the issues that are generating enormous enthusiasm from one end of this country to the other," he told CNN's "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper.

Sanders suggested that wealthy people should pay for poorer people to go to college:

"Look, let's be clear. We have a situation where major corporations in this country make billions of dollars in profit. They stash their money in the Cayman Islands. They don't pay a nickel in taxes.

"I am funding my plan to make public colleges and universities tuition-free by a tax on Wall Street speculation. When you have hedge fund managers, as Warren Buffett reminds us, paying an effective tax rate lower than firemen or police officers, that's got to change.

"The rich are getting richer. They're going to have to start paying their fair share of taxes, as do major corporations."

The rising stock market generates income for people who are willing and able to save and invest.

But according to Sanders, the Wall Street business model is "fraud."

"And I think these guys drove us into the worst economic downturn into the modern history of America. I think they're at it again," he said.

Sanders warned against a powerful banking sector, and he called for the re-establishment of Glass-Steagall, the 1933 law that separated investment and commercial banking activities. "You have got to break them up," he said of the big banks.

The Obama administration's monetary policy is partly responsible for driving stock prices to what may be unsustainable levels.

"We've got to wake up to the fact that equity values got very high," Peter Fisher, a senior director at the BlackRock Institute, told Bloomberg TV on August 24, 2015. "This has been an amazing bull run. And the central banks in QE (quantitative easing) has been pushing it higher and higher."

Fischer said if equity prices keep getting pushed "up and up and up and up" by increasing the money supply, "we know the most likely things is, they go down."

As for climate change, Sanders said he agrees with Pope Francis "that climate change is threatening this planet in horrendous ways, and that we have to be aggressive in transforming our energy system away from fossil fuel, and defeat -- and defeat the Keystone pipeline."

Sanders also wants to expand Social Security by lifting the cap on taxable income. And he wants to raise the minimum wage over a period of several years to $15 an hour.

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