Bernie Sanders Takes Aim at Wealth—and Warren

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Sanders' plan for people based policy and corporate accountability contrasts Warren's elitist institutionalism

New Republic - October 14, 2019

"Beyond fighting financial inequality, Sanders’s proposals are more radically aimed at putting workers near the center of economic decision making, in the hopes that their influence might align corporate priorities more closely with the interests of the working class. “The reality is that today the executives and biggest shareholders of most large, profitable corporations could not give a damn about the working class or the communities in which our corporations operate,” Sanders’s platform reads."

Since his heart attack earlier this month, the press has begun loudly asking how long Senator Bernie Sanders can stay afloat in the Democratic primary and why, moreover, he should bother trying. After all, Senator Elizabeth Warren, the field’s other solid progressive, has taken the lead against Joe Biden in a number of national polls and has declared support for Sanders’s vision for Medicare for All, one of the central issues of his campaign. In an interview this weekend, ABC’s Jonathan Karl put the question to Sanders directly.

“What do you say,” he asked, “to those who would say they would pick her because she’s eight years younger than you, she didn’t just have a heart attack, and on the positions you’re pretty much the same?”

In response to Karl, though, Sanders made reference to a comment from Warren last year “I think she is a very, very good senator,” Sanders replied. “But there are differences between Elizabeth and myself. Elizabeth, I think, as you know, has said that she is a capitalist through her bones. I’m not.”

While Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, has rarely contrasted himself with Warren this directly, his staunchest supporters have spent the past several months working to establish a clear ideological dichotomy between the two. It has not been easy. Behind the labels they have applied to themselves, Sanders and Warren have both spent the campaign promising to curb inequality and fight corruption, naming the greedy enemies of a fair economy on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley, and taking inspiration from the New Deal and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, hero of progressive capitalism.

Over the past few months, though, Sanders and Warren’s domestic policy agendas have diverged substantially on key issues. In late September, for instance, the Sanders campaign met Warren’s already ambitious proposal for a wealth tax on households worth at least $50 million with a more aggressive, multi-bracketed plan that could halve the wealth of American billionaires in 15 years. Both campaigns have also recently offered elaborate, but differing proposals on labor rights. But for all the substantive differences that have emerged, the Sanders and Warren policy visions have both been couched within the existing economic confines of capitalism, a system in which a particular non-laboring class owns and manages capital and is thereby empowered to make decisions in the economy, as opposed to workers, who would direct the economy under socialism.

That changed Monday morning, when the Sanders campaign released its “Corporate Accountability and Democracy” platform. The document includes a long slate of proposals that tread familiar ground on issues including anti-trust policy and corporate taxation. But its centerpiece is an idea that is not only radically new to this particular Democratic primary, but to contemporary American politics. Sanders has proposed having American corporations with $100 million or more in annual revenue and all publicly traded companies transfer at least 2 percent of their stock per year to their employees, until 20 percent of every such company is owned by workers. Those shares, which would grant workers corporate voting rights and entitle them to stock dividends, would be held in Democratic Employee Ownership Funds managed by trustees elected by workers. ...
Read full article at New Republic

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