Here we are with less than three weeks until Americans begin casting their first votes in Iowa and New Hampshire, and the Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton campaigns are tied, polling within the margin of error.
Months ago, the consensus of the pundits was that Bernie had entered the presidential race with the hope of nudging Hillary’s campaign platform just a little bit left. That happened, of course – she has switched positions on marriage equality, gun safety, undocumented immigrants, so-called “free trade” treaties, and the Keystone XL pipeline. What few saw at the outset was that significant numbers of Democratic primary voters were not enthusiastic about another Clinton administration, whatever the promises.
Bernie has relentlessly stayed on message, and his message is that income and wealth inequality are destroying our democracy. We have to rein in the “billionaire class,” he says.
“Greed is not good,” Sanders said, countering the famed Wall Street movie character Gordon Gekko played by Michael Douglas in the 1987 film Wall Street. “In fact, the greed of Wall Street and corporate America is destroying the very fabric of our nation.”
A centerpiece of his plan is a pledge to break up the biggest banks and financial institutions, whose size and complexity threaten the financial system as a whole and the U.S. economy.
Sanders says that if he were elected president one of his first acts would be to tell the Treasury Department to establish a “too-big-to-fail” list of commercial banks plus shadow financial institutions and insurance companies whose failure would pose a “catastrophic risk” to the U.S. economy and move to downsize them to make them safer.
Bernie wants to restore Glass-Steagall protections against risky “shadow” banking activities that were put in place in 1933 to prevent another Great Depression. In 1999 President Bill Clinton signed the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act into law, permitting the partial repeal of Glass–Steagall – which led to the formation of the housing bubble over the next decade until it burst in 2008 at the end of George W. Bush’s presidency. The result was the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Glass-Steagall “worked for more than five decades until Wall Street watered it down under President Reagan and killed it under President Clinton,” said Sanders pointedly in his speech.
There is a clear difference between the two candidates on Wall Street regulation: Clinton won’t support the restoration of the Glass-Steagall Act. Bernie also wants to bring back a financial transaction tax like the one that was in effect from 1914 to 1966. A small tax could actually raise big money and discourage the sort of large-volume program trading that causes a “flash crash” in the stock markets.
Some media talking heads are still not willing to entertain the idea of Bernie Sanders as the Dem nominee. This morning on MSNBC, Joe Scarborough was speculating about a “Plan B” featuring Biden or Kerry if Hillary doesn’t win Iowa and New Hampshire. Mika Brzezinski quite reasonably asked, why not Bernie?
A recent poll surprised a lot of insiders by suggesting that Bernie Sanders would do better against Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton would –beating Trump by 13 points.
This was confirmed by an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll.
But this should be no surprise at all. With a lot of angry voters in a populist mood, they would likely opt for the real economic populist rather than the fake one.