BRATTLEBORO -- U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., spent the weekend meeting with supporters at four different locations across the state to ask for help in his bid for re-election this fall.
On Sunday, Sanders stood before nearly 200 people at the All Souls Church in West Brattleboro to explain his work in Washington D.C., and lay out the problems Vermonters and the rest of the country are facing and what’s at stake this fall.
The Senator wasted little time before detailing the untold agendas of politicians like presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
"If you asked anyone, on any street corner in America, if they wanted social services, health care and education cut, they’d say no," Sanders said. "But that’s what we’ll get with extreme right-wing Republicans. You’re not going to get that in campaign commercials for Mitt Romney, but that’s the truth of it."
Sanders and his political entourage were in Rutland and Bennington on Saturday to meet with people there and on Sunday they traveled to St. Johnsbury before arriving in Brattleboro.
"We want to use this campaign to educate people on the very serious challenges we face in this country," Sanders told the Reformer prior to his speech. "We’ve got a lot of work to do and we’re gearing up all over the state to get volunteer support to make that happen."
Last fall, when thousands of Vermonters were struggling to get back
"I told them when a community suffers we provide support, and that’s what we did," he said.
Dummerston residents Tom and Lou Zopf sat in the back of the meeting hall and listened intently as Sanders spoke.
Both Tom and Lou said they’ve been supporters of Sanders for many years because of his willingness to fight for people’s rights.
"We like his politics for Vermont and the U.S. in whole," Lou said. "He’s fighting for universal health care and he’s done more for veterans in this country than anyone else."
The couple said they hope to volunteer to help with Sander’s re-election campaign in some capacity.
During Sander’s speech, he outlined what he was going to continue to fight for as senator.
There must be resistance to cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, he said. The cap on taxing higher incomes needs to be lifted so the programs can stay strong for the next 75 years, and there needs to be health care as a right for all Americans, he said.
"We must demand a progressive tax system in which the wealthy and large corporations start paying their fair share of taxes," he said. "And not only must we vigorously oppose the war against women, we must fight to end all forms of discrimination and prejudice in this country."
He also pointed out who he thought was responsible for the recent economic and unemployment crisis.
"The working people of this country did not cause the terrible recession that we are struggling to claw are way out of," he said. "The greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street caused this terrible recession."
When the Federal Reserve provided $16 trillion in nearly zero interest loans to major financial institutions, large corporations and to some of the wealthiest people in this country, they weren’t used to provide affordable loans to small businesses or put back into job creation, Sanders said.
Instead the corporations and banks have reported record-breaking profits and compensations packages for their top executives.
"They have learned nothing," he said. "If working families are deeply in debt and have little or no income to spend on goods and services, how can we expand the economy and create the millions of jobs we desperately need? There is a limit as to how many yachts, mansions, limos and fancy jewelry the super-rich can buy. We need to put income into the hands of working families."
He said the fastest way to create decent paying jobs is rebuilding the country’s infrastructure of roads, bridges, railways, airports, water systems and deteriorating schools and by creating an energy system that’s not dependent on foreign oil and coal.
"While we continue to do everything we can during the next six months to defeat Republican right-wing extremism, it’s also important that we never lose sight of the progressive vision that we are fighting for," Sanders said. "If we don’t know where we want to go, it will be impossible to get there."
Josh Stilts can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311 ext. 273.