HOOKSETT — On Monday morning, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., asked a crowd at American Legion Merrill Follansbee Post #37 to join him in a “revolution.”
The presidential candidate spent just over an hour speaking out against high health care costs, income inequality and other topics, asking his audience to join him in a revolution to transform American politics into something more conducive to the needs of average people.
That call came as part of an overarching message that no one person, not even a President, would be able to take on the vast sums of money available to various special interests he sees as indifferent toward the American public.
“What I am telling you is that this will be hard, and that will cost me votes. What I’m telling you isn’t ‘vote for me and I’m going to do all of these things,’” he said. “What I’m saying is the message of our campaign is that we need a political revolution and it’s ‘us,’ not ‘me.’”
Sanders’ primary focus of attack was not on President Donald Trump, but on executives in the health care insurance industry, who he said were the primary drivers of high health care costs in the country. He said corporate collusion is keeping prices high on insulin, and cited an ongoing lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson by several states for the company’s alleged complicity in fueling the opioid crisis.
A member of the audience received applause after stating that the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, made the situation worse.
As a solution to health care costs, Sanders said, he supports a system similar to that found in Canada where funding for health care comes out of the country’s general budget. He said that such a system would expand Medicare to the entire U.S. population and provide a net savings for most Americans, with the elimination of insurance premiums and other out-of-pocket health care costs, making up for any needed tax increases.
“I’ve been attacked by half of the world that ‘Bernie wants to raise your taxes,’” he said. “Because right now, we all know that health care is free, right?”
Sanders also scorned petroleum manufacturers, who he said were knowingly harming the world through carbon emissions.
He expressed frustration with the media for not bringing more light to various issues, again citing money from special interest groups, which he said are wresting power away from the general public.
Sanders also advocated for concepts such as a $15-an-hour wage and free college tuition. Sanders used those two points as examples of the momentum his movement has gained since he ran for President in 2016, citing several states that have taken steps toward both policies, with New Mexico expected to enact free college tuition in the near future. On college tuition, Sanders went even further, saying a tax on Wall Street speculation should be levied to help pay off all current college student debt.
Sanders had no qualms with any of his opponents in the Democratic Presidential Primary, although he did provide some criticism for Trump, though it was limited compared to his criticism for status quo interests as a whole. Near the beginning of the event, Sanders referred to Trump as the most dangerous President the country has ever seen, later stating that Trump should spend more time focusing on being President and less time worrying about trying to make more profit through his corporate holdings.
“I’m not a psychiatrist here, but I think we have a President who sees his purpose in life as accumulating wealth and power,” said Sanders. “I think as a business person, that’s what he did, because he was involved in thousands of lawsuits because he was lying all the time and was involved in lawsuits all the time, and I think he carried that mentality into the White House.”
When asked about the impending impeachment proceedings, however, Sanders called on U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to bring the matter before the Senate if the House presents articles of impeachment and to bring it forth in a manner that can be resolved quickly to avoid undue tension within the nation. If the matter of impeachment does come before the Senate, Sanders said, he would try to be an impartial juror in the matter, with the hope that his fellow senators, including Republican senators, would be able to do the same.
The stop at the Hooksett post was one of Sanders’ several stops across the state on Sunday and Monday.