TRANSCRIPT: Bernie Sanders meets with the Daily News Editorial Board, April 1, 2016

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DN: “greed of Wall Street and corporate America is destroying the fabric of our nation…is Apple destroying the fabric of America?”

Bernie Sanders: “No, Apple is not destroying the fabric of America. But I do wish they’d be manufacturing some of their devices, here, in the United States rather than in China. And I do wish that they would not be trying to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.”

Daily News: “Name, say, three American corporate giants that are destroying the national fabric?”

Sanders: “JPMorgan Chase, and…other major bank in this country…we can and should move to what Pope Francis calls a moral economy…millions of people in this country who are suffering the results of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street….companies like Goldman Sachs and many other major banks reaching settlements with the United States government, as you’re aware, for many billions of dollars, this is an implicit admission that they have engaged in illegal activity.”

Daily News: “the greed of Wall Street and corporate America…get a sense of corporate America, as the agent of American destruction.”

Sanders: “General Electric was created…by American workers and American consumers…shutting down of many major plants in this country. Sending jobs to low-wage countries. And General Electric, doing a very good job avoiding the taxes. In fact, in a given year, they pay nothing in taxes. That’s greed….that’s selfishness. That is lack of respect for the people of this country.”

Daily News: “how does that destroy the fabric of America?”

Sanders: “If you are a corporation and the only damn thing you are concerned about is your profits…a corporation that’s making money in America, today, but desiring to move to China or to Mexico to make even more money (ON SLAVE LABOR). That is destroying the moral fabric of this country. That is saying that I don’t care that the workers, here have worked for decades. It doesn’t matter to me. The only thing that matters is that I can make a little bit more money. That the dollar is all that is almighty. And I think that is the moral fabric….got to be concerned…about my family…what corporate America…what Wall Street has shown us, only thing that matters is their profits and their money. And the hell with the rest of the people of this country.”

Daily News: “a company that’s moving jobs overseas…(for) competitive climate…?”

Sanders: “firstly, we have to appreciate these guys wrote the rules in the first place. So they wrote the trade agreements. And then, yes, I do understand you can make more profits by paying people in Mexico, or China, or Vietnam pennies an hour, I do understand that…the trade policies that we have allowed to occur, that were written by corporate America have been disastrous for American workers….it should be based on fair trade policies. No, I don’t think it is appropriate for trade policies to say that you can move to a country where wages are abysmal, where there are no environmental regulations, where workers can’t form unions. That’s not the kind of trade agreement that I will support.”

Daily News: “So how would you stop that?”

Sanders: “renegotiating all of the trade agreements that we have. And by establishing principles that says that what fair trade is about is you are going to take into consideration the wages being paid to workers in other countries. And the environmental standards that exist.”

Daily News: “NAFTA. You’re talking the Pacific. You’re talking all of it.”

Sanders: “many economists (say) NAFTA, PNTR with China, other trade agreements have cost this country millions of jobs…Flint, Michigan today…seeing children being poisoned by the water systems…in the 1960s, Flint was one of the wealthiest cities in America…Very prosperous because you had GM manufacturing plants there…is a disaster right now…It is cities all over this country have lost their tax base. They’ve lost their decent-paying jobs because of disastrous trade policies.”

Daily News: “Trump says ‘Bad deals. Terrible deals. I’ll make them good deals.’

Sanders: “they’re bad trade deals, I agree with him. They are bad trade deals…I do believe in trade. But it has to be based on principles that are fair. So if you are in Vietnam, where the minimum wage is 65¢ an hour, or where many of the workers are indentured servants…working in slave-like conditions, no, I’m not going to have American workers “competing” against you under those conditions. So you have to have standards. And what fair trade means to say that it is fair. It is roughly equivalent to the wages and environmental standards in the United States.”

Daily News: When “in the recent history of the United States, do you think the balance began to tip against the American worker?”

Sanders: “it was in the late ’60s/early ’70s. I think Lyndon Johnson’s, maybe even earlier than that, the victory over Goldwater, in ’64 got the ruling class in this country very nervous….there became a very organized effort, on the part of corporate America, and very powerful forces, to say, ‘Look, we are in trouble. And we’re going to have to fight back.’…trade…attacks on trade unions…to reestablish…the power of the few against the many.”

Daily News: “forces in your mind that have led to wage stagnation since then?”

Sanders: “concerted effort to take on trade unions…Scott Walker is a perfect metaphor…to privatize everything that can be privatized. To destroy trade unions. To make it harder for people to get health care. To give tax breaks to the very wealthiest people in this country. Yeah, I think that has been a very concerted effort.”

Daily News: “switching to…Wall Street…first 100 days of your…Treasury Department would be drawing up a too-big-to-fail list…you expect to break them up within the first year of your administration…how would that work? How would you break up JPMorgan Chase?”

Sanders: “breaking up these banks is not an original idea. It’s an idea that some conservatives have also agreed to…the Kansas City Fed, some pretty conservative guys…We bailed out Wall Street because the banks are too big to fail…three out of the four largest banks are bigger today than they were when we bailed them out, when they were too-big-to-fail…if you look at the six largest financial institutions of this country, their assets somewhere around $10 trillion. That is equivalent to 58% of the AMerican GDP…issue two-thirds of the credit cards in this country, and about one-third of the mortgages…if Teddy Roosevelt were alive today…would say that is too much power.

Daily News: “How do you go about doing it?”

Sanders: “having legislation passed giving the authority to the secretary of treasury to determine, under Dodd-Frank, that these banks are a danger to the economy over the problem of too-big-to-fail…I don’t know if the Fed has it. But I think the administration can have it.”

Daily News: “How does a President turn to JPMorgan Chase, or have the Treasury turn to any of those banks and say, “Now you must do X, Y and Z?…JPMorgan has 241,000 employees…What is JPMorgan in year two of…”?

Sanders: “I foresee is a stronger national economy. And, in fact, a stronger economy in New York State, as well. What I foresee is a financial system which actually makes affordable loans to small and medium-size businesses.”

Sanders: A financial system that “Does not live as an island onto themselves concerned about their own profits. And, in fact, creating incredibly complicated financial tools, which have led us into the worst economic recession in the modern history of the United States.”

Daily News: “So, what I’m asking is, how can we understand? If you look at JPMorgan just as an example, or you can do Citibank, or Bank of America. What would it be? What would that institution be? Would there be a consumer bank? Where would the investing go?…you’d be breaking it up.

Sanders: “that is their decision as to what they want to do and how they want to reconfigure themselves. That’s not my decision. All I am saying is that I do not want to see this country be in a position where it was in 2008, where we have to bail them out. And, in addition, I oppose that kind of concentration of ownership entirely….let me just take your question…to another issue….you say, “Well, Bernie, you are strongly concerned about climate change and…transform our energy system away from fossil fuel. What happens to the people in the fossil fuel industry?….if we do not address that issue the planet we’re gonna leave your kids and your grandchildren may not be a particularly healthy or habitable one. So we’re going to break up the banks will have a negative consequence on some people? I suspect that it will. Will it have a positive impact on the economy in general? Yes, I think it will.”

Daily News: “you said the U.S. President would have authority to order…”

Sanders: “No, I did not say that we would order. The President is not a dictator….You determine if a bank is too big to fail, it is too big to exist. And then you have the secretary of treasury…making that determination. If the determination is that Goldman Sachs or JPMorgan Chase is too big to fail, yes, they will be broken up.”

Daily News: If “the court said no what does …?

Sanders: “I have not studied, honestly, the legal implications of that.”

Daily News: “you’ve pointed out, that ‘not one major Wall Street executive has been prosecuted for causing the near collapse of our entire economy.’…Why was there no prosecution?”

Sanders: “those activities were…illegal….And I think an aggressive attorney general would have found illegal activity.”

Daily News: So “Obama’s Justice Department essentially was either in the tank or not as…”

Sanders: “I’m saying, a Sanders administration would have a much more aggressive attorney general looking at all of the legal implications. All I can tell you is that if you have Goldman Sachs paying a settlement fee of $5 billion, other banks paying a larger fee, I think most Americans think, ‘Well, why do they pay $5 billion?’ Not because they’re heck of a nice guys who want to pay $5 billion. Something was wrong there. And if something was wrong, I think they were illegal activities.”

Daily News: Were “particular statute or statutes that a prosecutor could have or should have invoked to bring indictments?”

Sanders: “Yes…I believe that that is the case. Do I have them in front of me, now, legal statutes? No, I don’t…When a company pays a $5 billion fine for doing something that’s illegal, yeah, I think we can bring charges against the executives….Let me be very clear…the business model of Wall Street is fraud…when I talk about morality….when you have the most powerful financial institutions in this country, whose assets are equivalent to 58% of the GDP of this country, who day after day engage in fraudulent activity, that sets a tone…for some 10-year-old kid in this country who says, ‘Look, these people are getting away from it. They’re lying. They’re cheating. Why can’t I do that?'”

Daily News: “What kind of fraudulent activity?”

Sanders: “Fraudulent activity that brought this country into the worst economic decline in its history by selling packages of fraudulent, fraudulent, worthless subprime mortgages…
Selling products to people who you knew could not repay them. Lying to people without allowing them to know that in a year, their interest rates would be off the charts. They would not repay that. Bundling these things. Putting them into packages with good mortgages. That’s fraudulent activity.”

Daily News: All right. You say big financial institutions and the wealthy have rigged the game against regular Americans…is Secretary Clinton trustworthy on this issue?

Sanders: About a rigged economy, which is absolutely what I have said….an economy where the wealthiest family in this country, the Walton family of Walmart, pays its workers wages that are so low that the middle class has to pay more in taxes to provide food stamps and Medicaid for Walmart employees…when you have corporations making billions of dollars a year in taxes, billions of dollars a year in profit, and not paying a nickel in taxes. A rigged economy is where you have companies able to shut down as a result of trade agreements that they have written, and move abroad and pay people pennies an hour. That is a rigged economy. A rigged economy is when, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, the top one-tenth of 1% now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%.”

Sanders: “I’ve tried to run…an issue oriented campaign. Where I have expressed my strong disagreement with Secretary Clinton on trade issues. She has supported virtually all of these trade agreements. She has several super PACs, which have raised a lot of money. She has given speeches to Wall Street…I have not attacked her personally. I will let the American people make a determination about her trustworthiness. That is not an area that I’m comfortable…”

Daily News: “Hillary Clinton says that she would impose some fees and extra costs, and you find that insufficient. And…she has been taking money, including personal funds, from financial industry interests…(would the) American people…trust that she would be aggressive enough against the banks and financial institutions?”

Sanders: “they will probably have the expectation she would not be aggressive enough….you don’t get $15 million from Wall Street by accident. She is an establishment candidate…I think what she has basically said is, not to expect bold change from her. She talks about incremental change….I believe that in the midst of the kinds of crises that we face with a disappearing middle class and massive levels of income and wealth inequality, the only major country on earth not guarantee to healthcare to all people, only major country not to provide paid family and medical leave, it is time to get beyond establishment politics. So to put your question in maybe a simpler way, is she a candidate of the establishment? The answer is, of course she is.”

Daily News: “if she were to win the nomination, would your followers and your supporters vote for her? Or would their absence in the voting in November help whomever the Republican nominee is? Whether it’s Trump or Cruz….would you ever consider running as her vice-president?

Sanders: “We think we’ve got a shot to win. And that’s what we’re focusing on….I am very grateful millions of people are supporting me. How they will vote, I don’t know….what I think would be a disaster for the United States of America, is to see a Donald Trump or some right wing Republican become President of the United States. I will do everything I can to prevent that from happening.”

Daily News: “you’ve got this enormous support from young people…And you’re promising a political revolution. But, if nothing changes in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, how are you going to be able to get anything done?”

Sanders: “We…are already delivering on a political revolution well before Election Day…what I say in every speech is no President, not me or anybody else, can do it alone. We need to revitalize American democracy, get people engaged in the political process, in a way that we have not seen for a very, very, very long time…the powers that be in this country — Wall Street, large campaign contributors, corporate America — are so powerful, no President alone could do it….we have received over six million individual campaign contributions. That’s a political revolution…unprecedented…in history. We…see 23-year-olds and people 45 years of age…not just kids….a revitalization of American democracy….in at least five states, the voter turnout…has been higher (than Obama had in 2008). So we are striking a nerve. People want to get involved in the political process and I’m very proud of that….if I win, it will mean…a very large voter turnout….the odds are pretty strong Democrats will regain control of the Senate, do better in the House. Can they win the House? I don’t know. But they will do better….More importantly, if I win, it will mean that millions of people now want to be involved in the political process in a way that has not previously existed…supported by the majority of the people in this country…mobilize the American people to demand that Congress listen to them and their needs rather than just the big money interests. That’s how you make change…I believe millions of young people and their parents understand that (free college) is what we should be doing right now. And I think if Republicans or some Democrats want to vote against it, they will pay a very heavy political price.”

Daily News: “in this country of wealthy suburbs being better funded in education than urban districts…there’s even a lawsuit where the plaintiffs prevailed but nothing changed.”

Sanders: “the same thing with South Carolina…We could do a lot…There is a major effort for a start to privatize public education in America, which I think is a disastrous idea. I think we have got to adequately fund education. I think in the broader sense what we have got to do is make the American people understand how important education is to our quality of life and to our economy….that mean we have to start off with the lowest link…zero through four are the most important years of a human being’s life…Our childcare pre-K system is dysfunctional. You’ve got teachers who make less than McDonald’s workers. They have no benefits, they’re making $10 an hour. These are the people we are trusting with the youngest kids in America. That’s insane…I think education is an enormously important topic.”

Daily News: “When you were mayor of Burlington and you revitalized the city to what it is today and you had a lot of opposition when you became mayor. One of the ways you were able to succeed in making all the changes in a very pragmatic way is that you had a lot of grassroots organizations…able to put a lot of influence with local government….Is that possible to…do that at the federal level?”

Sanders: “Absolutely…People say to me, “Well, Bernie, how are you going to bring about change?” We rallied the people in the city, the grassroots organizations. A year later, we won more seats on the city council to give us veto power. And mostly the Democrats understood that the sentiments were changing. They started working with me. That’s what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is millions of people….sitting here five years ago and I said, “You know, I think in 2016, there’ll be a $15-an-hour agreement,” you would have said I was crazy…(BUT IT HAPPENED)….What happened is a grassroots movement developed…It happened because people stood up and fought back…In the Congress right now, massive effort on the part of Republicans to cut Social Security, and some Democrats. I formed a caucus called the Defending Social Security Caucus. They haven’t cut Social Security. We rallied senior citizens. So to answer your question, that is exactly the model I am talking about.”

Daily News: “focus on Israel…you said that peace will require an end to attacks of all kinds and recognition of Israel’s right to exist…as a Jewish state?

Sanders: “Of course…that’s the status quo.

Daily News: “You’ve called not just for a halting construction of so-called settlements on the West Bank, but you’ve also called for pulling back settlements, just as Israel did in Gaza. Describe the pullback that you have in mind.

Sanders: “I’m not going to run the Israeli government. I’ve got enough problems (in) United States.

Daily News: “attempting the peace process…where you start on the negotiations is important.

Sanders: “I believe 100% not only in Israel’s right to exist, a right to exist in peace and security without having to face terrorist attacks. But…we…cannot ignore the reality that you have large numbers of Palestinians who are suffering now, poverty rate off the charts, unemployment off the charts, Gaza remaining a destroyed area…Israel cannot, just simply expand when it wants to expand with new settlements….the United States has got to help work with the Palestinian people as well…that is the path toward peace…I think if the expansion was illegal, moving into territory that was not their territory, I think withdrawal from those territories is appropriate…based on previous treaties…I happen to think that those expansions were illegal…Israel will make their own decisions. They are a government, an independent nation. But to the degree that they want us to have a positive relationship, I think they’re going to have to improve their relationship with the Palestinians….There are going to be demands being made of the Palestinian folks as well…absolute condemnation of all terrorist attacks….I think…the (ISRAELI) level of attacks against civilian areas…I think most international observers would say that the attacks against Gaza were indiscriminate and that a lot of innocent people were killed who should not have been killed…there is a general belief that, with that technology, they could have been more discriminate in terms of taking out weapons that were threatening them.

Daily News: Do you support the Palestinian leadership’s attempt to use the International Criminal Court to litigate some of these issues…(of) Israel committed essentially war crimes?

Sanders: No…over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza…a whole lot of apartment houses were leveled. Hospitals, I think, were bombed….I do believe…that Israel’s force was more indiscriminate than it should have been.

Daily News: Is “Hamas…a terrorist organization? Hezbollah too?

Sanders: Yes both.

Daily News: “ISIS. The Obama administration has been using this drone program…What are your thoughts on that, their use…”

Sanders: “The most important and significant and far-reaching (middle east) debate that we’ve had on foreign policy in this country in recent years was on the war in Iraq. Not only did I vote against the war in Iraq, not only did I lead the opposition to the war, helped lead the opposition to the war in Iraq, if you look at the statements that I made on the floor of the House in 2002, sadly to say, much of what I feared would happen actually has happened. Hillary Clinton’s views were very different. She supported the war in Iraq.

Sanders: In terms of ISIS, this is a barbaric organization that obviously has got to be destroyed…without the United States getting involved in perpetual warfare in the Middle East, something that I fear very, very much….the war against ISIS is a war over the soul of Islam. And the war must be won by Muslim troops on the ground with the support of the United States and other major powers…ISIS has lost about 40% of the territory it controlled in Iraq.”

Sanders: “What I do know is that drones are a modern weapon. When used effectively, when taking out ISIS or terrorist leaders, that’s pretty impressive. When bombing wedding parties of innocent people and killing dozens of them, that is, needless to say, not effective and enormously counterproductive…it has to be refined so that we are killing the people we want to kill and not innocent collateral damage.”

Daily News: “What would you do with a captured ISIS commander?”

Sanders: Imprison him and try to get as much information out of him…near the locale where that person was captured. The best location where that individual would be safely secured in a way that we can get information out of him…If the question is do I believe that terrorists could be safely imprisoned in the United States, the answer is yes.

Daily News: “When was the last time you rode the subway?”

Sanders: You get a token and you get in.

Daily News: Wrong.

Daily News: Are you against the death penalty?

Sanders: Yup…I think the death penalty does not prove to be effective in stopping the crimes…virtually every major country on Earth has eliminated the death penalty, for right reasons…I don’t believe…our government, should be involved in killing.”

Sanders: “In this country terrible crimes have been…people coming out with automatic weapons and killing children in Sandy Hook. Disgusting crimes…the death penalty does not work.”

Daily News: “But you have no hesitation about killing him if a drone found him on a battlefield?”

Sanders: “If I have you captured and kill you, it’s different than killing you on the battlefield….a very different moral…I believe in killing people in war.

Daily News: “you promised a comprehensive gun control agenda. When are we going to see that and what can you tell us…”

Sanders: “very similar to President Obama is….Nobody can guarantee that some lunatic is not going to pick up a gun today and kill people. But we have to do the best that we can to prevent those type of killings. And what we significantly strengthen and expand the instant background check…we do away with the gun show loophole…buying guns from unlicensed dealers…do away with the straw man provision, where you can buy a gun legally and then sell it to somebody who’s a criminal….we is significantly expand mental health capabilities to try to address the fact that we have thousands of people walking in this country today who are suicidal and homicidal. So I support pretty much the President’s agenda…I think that’s the President’s vision, that’s my position.

Daily News: “The victims of the Sandy Hook massacre are looking to have the right to sue for damages the manufacturers of the weapons. Do you think that that is something that should be expanded?

Sanders: “Do I think the victims of a crime with a gun should be able to sue the manufacturer, is that your question? No, I don’t….if you’re a gun dealer and you sell me a gun and I go out and I kill…Do I think that that gun dealer should be sued for selling me a legal product that he misused? NO! But I do believe that gun manufacturers and gun dealers should be able to be sued when they should know that guns are going into the hands of wrong people…somebody walks in and says, “I’d like 10,000 rounds of ammunition.”…I think there are grounds for those suits, but not if you sell me a legal product.

Daily News: “AR-15s, these automatic military-style weapons…should have never been in the hands of the public.”

Sanders: “You’re looking at a guy who has a D minus voting record from the NRA?…three people were running for the United States Congress. We have one seat, Vermont. Two of them supported assault weapons. One candidate, Bernie Sanders, said, in 1988, ‘No, I do not support the sale and distribution of assault weapons in this country.’ I lost that election by three points. Came in second. And that may have been the reason…I didn’t believe then and I don’t believe now that those guns should be sold in America. They’re designed for killing people….I will vote to ban assault weapons in the United States.

Daily News: You say, “We need new rules on the allowable use of force.”

Sanders: If “you’ve got somebody who’s clearly mentally ill outside…Ranting and raving, and maybe they have a knife in their hands. Are there ways to deal with that issue other than shooting that person? We have seen instances in my own state, all over this country, where the way that was dealt with by killing that person. There are ways to deal with that. So I think what I am suggesting here very forcefully is that we have got to train police offices to use lethal force as a last resort, not a first resort.”

Daily News: So what happened? What has happened to education in America that James Madison High School is not that type of production line anymore?

Sanders: “First off, we still have some great schools. Let’s not dismiss that. On the other hand, we have schools that everybody knows are drop-out factories, that are terrible. The answer to the question, I think, has to do with devaluing the role of education in our society. I was in Wisconsin just the other day, talking to teachers, and they said, if you can believe this, that young people do not want to become teachers anymore. Because especially in that state, teachers in public education have been so vilified…we’ve got to change that culture. Teaching, education, is of the highest importance in this country. Teachers deserve to be well-paid, well-respected…(we need to) understood the power of education. We had great teachers and we had great schools. I think we can do that again.

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