31 Jan

From Senator Bernie Sanders

Friends of Bernie Sanders

Dear The McGlynn,

I want to take this opportunity to update you about
what’s going on in Washington, and share my thoughts about the short and
long-term challenges we face as a nation.

In the coming weeks I
will step up my efforts to generate strong grassroots support for a
constitutional amendment I have introduced to overturn the disastrous
Citizens United Supreme Court decision of two years ago.
seems to me that there are about five people in this country who believe that a
corporation is a person. Unfortunately, they are all on the Supreme Court. The
result of this misguided 5-4 decision, one of the worst ever handed down by a
Supreme Court, is that corporations can now spend, without disclosure, unlimited
sums of money on political advertising. And we are seeing the results of that
ruling right now with big money interests and Super PACs spending huge sums on
television and radio advertising in the Republican primaries and in Senate
races. Unless we change it, that situation will only get worse in future

The good news is that throughout the country grassroots activists
are working hard to reclaim our democracy and defeat Citizens United.
Resolutions in support of a constitutional amendment have already been passed in
cities and towns all over the country including New York, Los Angeles, Boulder,
Pueblo, Duluth, Oakland (CA), Albany (NY), Portland (OR), and Burlington (VT).
In Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont and Washington state
legislators have introduced similar type resolutions.

Please get
involved in this issue. Play a role in demanding that your local government and
state legislature take a stand in demanding that Congress pass a constitutional
amendment to overturn Citizens United.
To a significant
degree, this is not a partisan issue. Most Americans, regardless of their
political ideology, do not believe that a handful of wealthy and powerful
special interests should be able to dominate our political process and elect —
or defeat — the candidates of their choice.

Another issue that I
am currently working on is postal reform legislation. While this is not a very
sexy issue, it is extremely important not only for the 600,000 employees of the
U.S. Postal Service, but for our entire economy.

As a result of
a very onerous and unfair requirement that they pay $5.5 billion a year into a
health benefit account for future retirees, as well as a significant decline in
first class mail because of increased e-mail use, the Postal Service faces
serious financial challenges. Their response has been to develop a draconian
proposal which would eliminate up to 200,000 jobs by shutting down over 3,000
small post offices, half (252) of their mail processing plants and end Saturday
and next-day mail delivery. This plan would result in a significant decline in
the speed of mail delivery service and, in my view, the beginning of a “death
spiral” for that vitally important agency. With a diminishment in the quality
and timeliness of the services the Postal Service provides, fewer and fewer
businesses and consumers will be interested in using the mail. The result will
be that postal deficits will grow larger, more cuts will continue to be made,
and eventually the Post Office will be a pale shadow of what it is

During the next several weeks I, and a number of my colleagues,
will be working to improve the existing postal reform legislation which is due
to come to the floor of the Senate very shortly. Our goal will be to save jobs
in the Postal Service and maintain a high quality of service. We will also be
demanding that the Postal Service create a new and aggressive business model so
that it can effectively compete in today’s market and increase their revenue in
the digital age in which we live.

Lastly, I want to alert you to an
ongoing issue I have been involved with during all of my five years in the
Senate. Sadly, virtually every Republican in Congress and too many
Democrats are determined to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in the
name of deficit reduction.
This is wrong! We must not allow them to
do that.

At a time when we have the most unequal distribution of wealth
and income of any major country on earth, and when working people are suffering
through the worst recession since the Great Depression, we must not make savage
cuts to programs which maintain the wellbeing and dignity of tens of millions of
struggling Americans. With 45,000 Americans dying each year because
they don’t get to a doctor when they should, and when 50 million Americans
already lack health insurance, how could anybody be calling for cuts in Medicare
or Medicaid?
The truth is that we should be moving toward a universal,
single-payer health care system, not decimating the limited public health
programs we now have in place.

In terms of Social Security, please
remember that Social Security today has a $2.5 trillion surplus, can pay out all
benefits owed to every eligible American for the next 25 years and, because it
is funded independently by the payroll tax, has not added one penny to our
national deficit or debt. Social Security must not be

Yes, we need to address the deficit crisis, but there are
fair and responsible ways to do that. While the rich get richer, their
effective tax rate is the lowest in decades. The top 1 percent must be
asked to pay their fair share of taxes.
While corporations are making
record-breaking profits, many of them enjoy outrageous tax-loopholes which
enable them to pay little or nothing in taxes. We must end corporate
tax loopholes.
The United States now spends three times as much on the
military as we did in 1997, and more than the rest of the world combined.
We must cut wasteful military spending.

Let me conclude
by thanking you for your activism in the fight for progressive values and for a
government which represents all the people, and not just the wealthy and
powerful. These are tough times for our country. We must continue to push
forward. This struggle is not just about you or me or our generation. It is
about the future of the country and our children and

Thanks again for all that you are doing.

Senator Bernie Sanders

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