What Bernie Sanders Got Done in Washington: A Legislative Inventory

Bernie Sanders is a progressive who likes to get things done and his record of legislative accomplishments in the House of Representatives and the Senate shows it. Despite being independent from both the Democratic and Republican parties, he got more done in his first eight years in the Senate than Democratic Party superstar Hillary Clinton did in her eight years there. Before the people of Vermont elected him to the Senate in 2006, Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi dubbed Sanders the “amendment king” of the House of Representatives noting:

“Since the Republicans took over Congress in 1995, no other lawmaker – not Tom DeLay, not Nancy Pelosi – has passed more roll-call amendments (amendments that actually went to a vote on the floor) than Bernie Sanders. He accomplishes this on the one hand by being relentlessly active, and on the other by using his status as an Independent to form left-right coalitions.”

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Fact: Bernie Sanders Got More Done in the Senate than Hillary Clinton

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“I’m a progressive, but I’m a progressive that likes to get things done,” said Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the first primary debate. Nevermind that the things Clinton helped ‘get done’ — the disastrous Iraq war, the Patriot Act — should have never been done, the purpose of this jab was twofold:

  • Leverage her status as a Washington insider to present herself to voters as a pragmatist uniquely qualified to get things done as president.
  • Draw a contrast between herself and her main rival, independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who she insinuated is a progressive that does not get things done.

This line of attack works because it plays on a common stereotype that socialists and progressives are more interested in ideological purity than in making real-world progress, but when we compare the first eight years of their respective Senate legislative records, it turns out Sanders got more meaningful legislation done than Clinton. Continue reading

Understanding Bernie Sanders’ Foreign Policy Approach

Running for president of the United State means taking on not only the country’s problems but the world’s problems. Whoever is sworn in as president in January 2017 will be forced to deal with crises around the globe the previous administration was either unable or unwilling to resolve:

Beyond reiterating the undeniable truth that war is bad and peace is preferable, Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont independent Senator Bernie Sanders has said little about his foreign policy plans on the campaign trail. Foreign policy isn’t listed on the “Issues”* page of his campaign website and the foreign policy section of his Senate website is literally blank.

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But make no mistake, Bernie Sanders has a foreign policy. Continue reading

When Bernie Sanders Trolled Congress over NAFTA

Bernie Sanders is said to be crabby and humorless. If that were true, it’s hard to understand why in 1993 he introduced legislation to make the compensation rates for Congress equal to that of their Mexican counterparts if Congress passed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which would force American workers to compete with Mexican workers for jobs and pay.

Sadly, H.R. 3323 died without a single co-sponsor although Congress did pass NAFTA, costing the U.S. nearly 1 million jobs. Sanders at least had the guts to propose Congress play by the rules it was happy to impose on everyone else.

Why Did Bernie Sanders Vote to Fund the Iraq War?

Michael Arria’s widely read but rarely analyzed Alternet article “Bernie Sanders’ Troubling History of Supporting US Military Violence Abroad” mentions in passing:

“While it’s true he voted against the Iraq War, he also voted in favor of authorizing funds for that war and the one in Afghanistan.”

Arria’s statement is correct but also distorts Sanders’ stance on funding the Iraq war by omission. His voting record on the bills that funded the Iraq war show that he voted against them more often than he voted for them. Additionally, his ‘yea’ votes show that there were other considerations at play. Continue reading