I have not taken a poll but based on some of the responses to my pro-Hillary Clinton posts, there are many social workers who are not lining up behind the presumptive Democratic Party nominee. Many social workers are embracing Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders as the candidate they would like to see lead progressives in the 2016 fight for the White House. There are many reasons why Bernie Sanders would appeal to social workers other than the fact he had the great judgement to marry one. Jane Sanders earned her degree in social work at Vermont’s Goddard College. Bernie Sanders gives voice to frustrations share by millions in the United States. He says the system is broken and rigged in favor of billionaires. Few would disagree with that premise.
Sanders’ castigation of the influence billionaires have on the American political system resonates with similar sentiments that have propelled Donald Trump to the top of the crowded field seeking the Republican presidential nomination. Sanders’s refusal to accept contributions from super PACs and instead depend on small donations appeal to many who believe money has a corrupting influence on politics. Likewise, Donald Trump claims to be free of the influence of super PACs because he is spending his own money. His independence from reliance on the largess of billionaires has ingratiated him a significant segment of Republican voters who believe their votes do not matter. It will be interesting to see if the disapproval of money in politics can translate into a bipartisan campaign to overturn the Citizens v. United Supreme Court decision.
A declared socialist, Sanders believes the federal government has the responsibility to do more to right some of the wrongs in the nation rather than leave solutions to the free market. Among his policy proposals are: providing free public education for everyone, re-instituting Glass-Stegall legislation that separated commercial banking and securities investment activities, overturning the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, investing in rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, combatting racial injustice, providing decent jobs and wages for American workers, and moving to a single-payer healthcare system. The Wall Street Journal estimates his policies would cost $18 trillion over 10 years. Paul Waldman, writing in The Washington Post, disputes this figure.
Sanders would pay for his policy initiatives through tax policies that address income and wealth inequality. He would demand a more progressive tax regimen that requires wealthy individuals and corporations to shoulder more of the tax burden. While many of the details have yet to be released, he is proposing a progressive estate tax of 45 percent for estates worth $3.5 to $10 million, 50 percent for estates worth $10 to $50 million, and 55 percent for estates worth $50 million or more. The current rate of 40 percent applies to all estates that are covered. He’s also proposed a financial transaction tax (FTT) which functions as a sales tax on Wall Street that could generate $1.5 trillion over a decade.
Bernie Sanders agenda is one that would satisfy most progressives and win a significant number of independents. His policies would go a long way towards redressing some of the economic inequality in the United States. It would seem like a no brainer for social workers to choose him over Hillary Clinton. Wish it were that simple. It’s one thing to promote these policies; it’s another to get those policies to become law. The first step is getting elected and that’s still a tall order for the Vermont Senator. Although he has leapfrogged Hillary Clinton in the state polls, leading by 22 points in New Hampshire and by 10 points in Iowa according the most recent CBS/YouGov poll, he trails Clinton by 20 percent in national polls with Biden in the race and by 30 percent with Biden not in the race.
There are some who would like to see Sanders run as an independent candidate if does not secure the nomination. So far, he has emphatically rejected the idea of being a “spoiler.” An independent candidacy would all but guarantee a Republican would win the White House. There are some who dislike Hillary Clinton to the point they would still encourage to run as an independent. A third party run by Ralph Nader siphoned off enough votes in Florida to deny former Vice President Al Gore the presidency in 2000, putting George W. Bush in the White House. The next president may have the opportunity to appoint as many as four Supreme Court justices. The stakes are very high.
Written By Charles E. Lewis Jr., Ph.D
Social Workers for Bernie Sanders was originally published @ Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy » Charles Lewis and has been syndicated with permission.
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