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Hometown: Illinois
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Current location: Illinois
Member since: Wed Sep 19, 2012, 05:19 AM
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The Bernie Sanders Accomplishment Challenge

There was a thread earlier today challenging DUers to name Bernie Sanders accomplishments. There were some good thoughts in the thread. While not having a candidate yet, since I have not done my research yet in this area, I thought I would give it a try.

A couple of themes popped up on topics I see argued here as I did the research. A couple thoughts on these memes:

The "he didn't author legislation" meme - Not a lot of legislators have dozens of bills that get passed. Bernie's legislative strategy has long been getting amendments in to others' legislation. Some of his successes I list here are amendments to other lawmakers' bills.

The "Obama screwed up" statements - Bernie was stifled when first elected as mayor of Burlington. He did his job well and in subsequent elections, got the stiflers voted out. I think this is what he is talking about when he refers to organizing the masses. I personally don't agree it works on the national level, but it doesn't seem as anti-Obama when considered in this context.

So here are 14 accomplishments I found in 1 day of research. Feel free to add or argue. My goal is to just share information with the class:

Drafted legislation to support and start repairing the Veterans Administration following the scandal that broke in Arizona.

It failed in the first attempt, but Sen. Sanders went to the Republicans and negotiated a compromise and together they brought the bill to the House where it passed the House 420-5 and passed the Senate 91-3. It was signed into law immediately by President Obama.


As mayor of Burlington Vermont, stopped landlords who were using a loophole that allowed the landlords to convert the buildings into market rentals or luxury condos for 20 years.

Under Sanders’s leadership, the city adopted a number of laws to stifle the owners’ plans. One ordinance required apartment owners to give residents two years’ notice before a condo conversion. Others gave residents a pre-emptive right to buy the units and prohibited landlords from bulldozing buildings unless they replaced them with the same number of affordable units. (These measures lowered the selling price of the property.) Sanders then worked with the state government and Senator Patrick Leahy to get the $12 million needed to purchase and rehabilitate the buildings. The city allocated funds to help the tenants hire an organizer, form the Northgate Residents Association, and start the process of converting the complex to resident ownership. Today, Northgate Apartments is owned by the tenants and has long-term restrictions to keep the buildings affordable for working families.

Cleaned up Lake Champlain waterfront

According to Monte, who worked on the waterfront project for Sanders and was CEDO director for 12 years, “Bernie wanted to make sure that it was a place with plenty of open space and public access, where ordinary people could rent a rowboat and buy a hot dog. That wasn’t just for the elite. It was Bernie who set the tone that the waterfront wasn’t for sale.”

Not in the article, but Sanders first won control of the waterfront in a lawsuit. It was previously controlled by railroad interests.

Instrumental in successfully developing Burlington, Vermont

The Sanders administration provided new firms with seed funding, offered technical assistance, helped businesses form trade associations (including the South End Arts and Business Association and the Vermont Convention Bureau), focused attention on helping women become entrepreneurs, funded training programs to give women access to nontraditional jobs, and lobbied the state government to promote business growth.

He did have some projects defeated by environmental advocacy groups, but I don’t think it diminishes the accomplishment.

Under Sanders, Burlington became a magnet for attracting and incubating locally owned businesses, many of which expanded into large enterprises.


Founded, along with a few others, the Congressional Progressive Caucus

…the largest membership organization within the Democratic Caucus in the United States Congress with 69 declared members. The CPC is a left-leaning organization that works to advance progressive and liberal issues and positions.


Created one of the first community land trusts in the country, which has since become an important tool for cities to maintain affordable housing

Early in Sanders’ tenure, his treasurer discovered $200,000 in the city’s coffers and the mayor determined to plow it into a bold initiative. Inspired by the garden cities of England, Isreali kibbutzim and Indian communes set up by the followers of Gandhi, he proposed to buy land and hold it in a communal trust for affordable housing, while the housing itself would be owned by occupants.

An opposition group, Homeowners Against the Land Trust, or HALT, labeled it a “communist scheme.” But the plan went through. In 1984, the Burlington Community Land Trust became one of the first affordable housing trusts in the world, and the very first to receive municipal funding. Today, there are over 250 such trusts in the United States — in places like Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Boston and Chapel Hill, North Carolina — most of which receive some form of government funding.


Secured $11 billion for community health clinics in the ACA

Over the years, Sanders has tucked away funding for health centers in appropriation bills signed by George W. Bush, into Barack Obama’s stimulus program, and through the earmarking process. But his biggest achievement came in 2010 through the Affordable Care Act. In a series of high-stakes legislative maneuvers, Sanders struck a deal to include $11 billion for health clinics in the law.


Is an effective legislator

Amendments occupy a great deal of most legislators' time, particularly those lawmakers in the minority. Members of Congress do author major bills, but more commonly they make minor adjustments to the bigger bill. Rather than write their own anti-terrorism bill, for instance, lawmakers will try to amend the Patriot Act, either by creating a new clause in the law or expanding or limiting some existing provisions. The bill that ultimately becomes law is an aggregate of the original legislation and all the different congresspersons along the way.

Sanders is the amendment king of the current House of Representative. 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.


Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who helped write the Senate version of the VA reform bill, praised Sanders for having the gumption to drop F-bombs one minute and counteroffers the next.
"Negotiating with Bernie was not a usual experience, because he is very passionate and he and I are both very strong-willed people and we spend a lot of time banging our fists on the table and having the occasional four-letter word," McCain said. "But at the end of the day, Bernie was result-oriented."


Helped Jesse Jackson win the 1988 Vermont caucuses

In 1988, Sanders and his organizers helped Jackson win a surprise victory in the Vermont caucuses—by 1 state delegate. In Jesse’s memorable phrase, Bernie Sanders and Jim Hightower were among the few elected White officeholders brave enough to “cross the color line” to support him when it mattered.


First member of Congress to help constituents buy drugs cheaper in Canada

Chartered bus trips that began about a year ago in Vermont have inspired imitation in Western border states, even turning into campaign events in two U.S. Senate races this fall. Minnesota Democrat Mark Dayton took a busload of elderly drug buyers to Canada and won. Brian Schweitzer of Montana, also a Democrat, did the same but lost. After Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) became the first member of Congress to host a bus trip last year, several of his colleagues followed suit.


Successfully Amended the Patriot Act to prohibit FBI from examining library and bookstore records without a warrant

The conventional wisdom in Washington that Tuesday night was that although Sanders at one time looked as though he might eke out a victory on the library proposal, Bush's veto threat probably would now sway enough Republicans to defeat it.

The debate and the vote came the next afternoon. It wasn't close. Fifteen Republicans? How about 38, along with 199 Democrats (one voted the other way) and Sanders. The vote was 238 to 187 in favor of the Sanders amendment


Has had an lengthy Congressional career getting re-elected without falling into the common trap of having to spend most of his time fund raising

A week before the election, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders had run no attack ads. In fact, he hadn’t run any TV commercials.

Polls had Sanders leading by wide margins even in areas where Democrats run poorly. Why? Because the senator does not waste money on TV commercials designed to scare or fool voters into backing him. Rather, he goes where voters live. Personal Democracy Media co-founder and editorial director Micah Sifry, who has followed Sanders and Vermont politics for years, recalls: “Visiting hunting lodges to talk about protecting natural resources for hunting and fishing and establishing a connection with was one of the ways that Sanders managed to earn the trust of the predominantly conservative and working-class Northeast Kingdom section of Vermont, which regularly gives Sanders, a self-declared socialist, its hearty support.”


Bringing Smartgrid technology to Vermont

Gov. Peter Shumlin credits Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., for bringing a new multi-million dollar Center for Energy Transformation and Innovation to the state. Sanders was “like a dog with a bone” on the issue, recalled the governor at a joint press conference on Monday.

Over the next three years, the center will have up to $15 million to accelerate energy efficiency, move toward renewable and localized sources of energy, and make Vermont “the first state to have near-universal smart meter installations,” Sanders announced. Sandia will invest $3 million a year, Shumlin added, along with $1 million each from the Department of Energy and state coffers.

Vermont’s reputation for energy innovation recently attracted $69.8 million in US Department of Energy funding to promote rapid statewide conversion to smart grid technology. This has been matched, said Sanders, by another $69 million from Vermont utilities.


Co-authored the National Housing Trust Fund Bill which has permanent federal funding to assist extremely low income people get housing.

As a former member of the Financial Services Committee, I helped author, along with our colleague Bernie Sanders and others – the first housing trust fund bill.

Congressional Record – House Vol 153, Part 19, Page 26972

The National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) is a permanent federal program with dedicated sources of funding not subject to the annual appropriations process. The NHTF was enacted as part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA).

The primary purposes of the NHTF is to increase and preserve the supply of rental housing for extremely low income (ELI) households (earning less than 30% of area median income (AMI)).


Passed Audit the Fed Legislation with Ron Paul

Mr. Sanders was a vocal and persistent leader in the mission to audit the Fed. The Senate in May backed his compromise plan to force the Fed to reveal a new level of data on its emergency lending programs. The plan was included in the sweeping financial regulatory overhaul Congress passed earlier this year.

Paul was unhappy with some of Sanders changes in the final bill, but in reading what they were in the article, it remains a legitimate accomplishment.


Well, that's what I found in a day. Add others if you know them, I'm sure there are 20.

2016 On the Issues – Why TPP is a non-factor for me

In my continued interest to use facts to inform my choices for the upcoming election, I’ve done some research on US trade that has me thinking the TPP can be ignored as an important issue for choosing my candidates. Feel free to comment and convince me otherwise. What follows is my support.

Trade Agreements Are not Major Contributors to US Trade Imbalances

The US has trade agreements with 20 countries. These are Australia, Bahrain, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Nicaragua, Oman, Panama, Peru, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and South Korea. As a group, these 20 countries represent only 13.71% of the US $416 billion 2015 trade deficit (thru July).

The TPP partners include 11 countries, but only five countries where we don’t already have an agreement in place; Brunei Darussalam, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Vietnam. Including numbers from these countries, only 16.94% of the US 2015 trade deficit comes from countries where we have a trade agreement.

Of the 20 countries where trade agreements exist, we have a positive trade balance with 15 of them in 2015. The negative balances are with Israel, Nicaragua, Canada, Mexico and South Korea. While we have negative trade balances with 4 of the 5 new countries brought in by the TPP, there’s no reason to think TPP will make them worse.

Then Why the Big Trade Deficits?

The 13 largest trade deficits thru July 2015 add up to more than the entire $416 billion US trade deficit:

China $202 billion
Germany $42 billion
Japan $40 billion
Mexico $31 billion
Vietnam $17 billion
Korea, South $17 billion
Ireland $16 billion
Italy $16 billion
India $14 billion
Malaysia $12 billion
Thailand $10 billion
France $9 billion
Taiwan $9 billion

Lacks environmental laws: Yale University does an annual scoring of nations' environmental performance indexes (EPI). 8 of these 13 large deficit partners (China, Mexico, Vietnam, South Korea, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan) scored an average of 16.83 points lower in the study than the US (67.52 EPI for 2014). China (24.52), India (36.29), and Vietnam (29.35) were the largest.

Low Wages: A group called The Conference Board did a 2013 study comparing wage levels around the world. 9 of these 13 large deficit partners (China, Japan, Mexico, Vietnam, South Korea, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan) scored an average of $27.56 per manufacturing employee hour lower in the study than the US ($36.34/hr in 2013).

Cheap Facility Costs: Cushman Wakefield did a study in 2014 ranking, in part various countries on the basis of costs for manufacturing facilities. The US finished 13th. 8 of these 13 large deficit partners (China, Mexico, Vietnam, South Korea, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan) were ranked higher than the US, e.g., it was cheaper to build there.

IMO, no trade agreement will make any country change its environmental laws, force higher wages, or make US manufacturing facility costs more competitive. It’s far better to challenge the candidates on how they will reduce trade deficits than to worry about what their opinion is on any treaty. The jobs will go to lower cost regions regardless of treaties, that’s how big business works.

I have a lot more data for those who want it. Feel free to offer opinions or ask questions. The more we know the better. Please also accept my sincere statement that I have no candidate of choice as yet and that I do not care what the candidates’ positions are on TPP. I feel they should be re-directed to a discussion about what to do about large US trade deficits.


On the Issues: Infrastructure - Our candidates need to be stronger

All of us know how important rebuilding infrastructure here in the US is to our futures. Our 2016 candidates need to do a better job putting a cohesive message together on infrastructure.

HRC offers an infrastructure bank with no capitalization levels or funding mechanism provided.

BS offers a $1 trillion package which includes a $25 billion funded infrastructure bank with no proposed way to pay for it.

MM offers nothing specific. Has some good history trying in MD, though.

Please fill in holes if you think I have them. I don’t hate your candidate…just trying to learn. I fear these candidates are trying to avoid the “tax and spend liberal tag”. IMO, a simple increase in the gas tax should be able to fund infrastructure and I-Banks. There have been no increases in the gas taxes in forever and we pay much less than others around the world in gas taxes.

Please keep the Hillary is a liar and Bernie is a racist stuff out of this thread…we know who hates who in here. Help us pick a candidate. Make us more informed about your candidate.

Hillary Clinton

Identifiable proposal is establish an infrastructure bank. From her July, 2015 speech at the New School
Then there are the new public investments that will help establish businesses and entrepreneurs, create the next generation of high-paying jobs.
You know, when we get Americans moving, we get our country moving. So let’s establish an infrastructure bank that can channel more public and private funds…channel those funds to finance world-class airports, railways, roads, bridges and ports.
And let’s build those faster broadband networks and make sure there’s a greater diversity of providers so consumers have more choice.


I could not find any information on infrastructure other than the infrastructure bank on Hillary’s campaign site.

Bernie Sanders

$1 trillion over 5 years infrastructure funding. Legislation proposed in January, 2015 would be on top of normal infrastructure spending. The bill would fund both infrastructure and an infrastructure bank ($5 billion per year capital).

No mechanism to pay for the spending appears to be indicated in the legislation. According to an article from The Hill:

Sanders did not offer a concrete funding mechanism for his proposal.


Martin O’Malley

15 Goals section of his web site includes a section on clean energy, but nothing specific on infrastructure.

A 2012 article in the Huffington Post covers his testimony and proposal on what to do about infrastructure in Maryland on why. Does a good job of explaining why using tax increases to pay for the improvements makes sense.


Come on DU! Teach us something!

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