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Sat Sep 19, 2015, 12:47 AM

The Bernie Sanders Accomplishment Challenge [View all]

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.[4] 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 [hunters] 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.

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