The following is the transcript of Rep. Bernie Sanders' question-and-answer period with Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan during Tuesday's Financial Services hearing.
SANDERS: Thank you, Madam Chair.
And, Mr. Greenspan, nice to see you again. Mr. Greenspan, I have long been concerned that you are way out of touch with the needs of the middle class and working families of our country, that you see your major function in your position as the need to represent the wealthy and large corporations. And I must tell you that your testimony today only confirms all of my suspicions, and I urge youand I mean this seriously, because you're an honest person, I think you just don't know what's going on in the real worldand I would urge you come with me to Vermont, meet real people. The country club and the cocktail parties are not real America. The millionaires and billionaires are the exception to the rule.
You talk about an improving economy while we have lost 3 million private sector jobs in the last two years, long-term unemployment is more than tripled, unemployment is higher than it's been since 1994.
We have a $4 trillion national debt, 1.4 million Americans have lost their health insurance, millions of seniors can't afford prescription drugs, middle-class families can't send their kids to college because they don't have the money to do that, bankruptcy cases have increased by a record-breaking 23 percent, business investment is at its lowest level in more than 50 years, CEOs make more than 500 times of what their workers make, the middle class is shrinking, we have the greatest gap between the rich and the poor of any industrialized nation, and this is an economy that is improving. I'd hate to see what would happen if our economy was sinking. Now, today you may not have known thisI suspect that you don'tbut you have insulted tens of millions of American workers. You have defended over the years, among other things, the abolition of the minimum wageone of your policiesand giving huge tax breaks to billionaires. But today you have reached a new low, I think, by suggesting that manufacturing in America doesn't matter. It doesn't matter where the product is produced. We've lost 2 million manufacturing jobs in the last two years alone; 10 percent of our work force. Wal-Mart has replaced General Motors as the major employer in America, paying people starvation wages rather than living wages, and all of that does not matter to youdoesn't matter. If it's produced in China where workers are making 30 cents an hour, or produced in Vermont where workers can make 20 bucks an hour, it doesn't matter. You have told the American people that you support a trade policy which is selling them out, only working for the CEOs who can take our plants to China, Mexico and India. You insulted Mr. Castle. Mr. Castle, a few moments agoa good Republicantold you that we're seeing not only the decline of manufacturing jobs, but white-collar information technology jobs. Forrester Research says that over the next 15 years, 3.3 million U.S. service industry jobs and $136 billion in wages will move offshore to India, Russia, China and the Philippines. Does any of this matter to you? Do you give one whit of concern for the middle class and working families of this country? That's my question.
GREENSPAN: Congressman, we have the highest standard of living in the world.
SANDERS: No, we do not. You go to Scandinavia, and you will find that people have a much higher standard of living, in terms of education, health care and decent paying jobs. Wrong, Mister.
GREENSPAN: May I answer your question?
SANDERS: You sure may.
GREENSPAN: Thank you. For a major industrial country, we have created the most advanced technologies, the highest standard of living for a country of our size. Our economic growth is crucial to us. The incomes, the purchasing power of our employees, our workers, our people are, by far, more important than what it is we produce. I submit to youmay I?
GREENSPAN: The major focus of monetary policy is to create an environment in this country which enables capital investment and innovation to advance. We are at the cutting edge of technologies in the world. We are doing an extraordinary job over the years. And people flock to the United States. Our immigration rates are very high. And why? Because they think this is a wonderful country to come to.
SANDERS: That is an incredible answer.
So I ask you, Project readers, is Rep. Bernie Sanders of Vermont a working class hero or a commie socialist pig? Neither. But I like the man. I like his radical middle approach. The poor you will always have among you saith the realist, and mostly, the problems of acute poverty in this country are created by the poor themselves. It is very easy if dedicated to correct thinking to rise above the carp and crap of poverty by application of a few hard-won principles this country's founders once and Bernie Sanders now seems to stand for. The problem however, is that the middle class is shrinking for the very real quite avoidable reasons Sanders continues to pound. Who gets richer off the exporting of American manufacturing jobs? Rich people safe in their posh, talking head adminstrative jobs and leisures, not working class Americans needing a sweat and toil job. Yes, in order to stabilize the planet, other nations must have meaningful and lucrative work as well, but most of these very same nations are the first ones either banning or burning down hapless American restaurants every chance they get, and decrying American imperialism. Social distortion is a double-edged sword. The only winners shouldn't be the strutting suits wearing Ferraris and yachts and highbrows up their noses, while swearing up and down in their golden parachutes they're surely not to blame...
We agree with every word that this self-confessed socialist congressman from Vermont has testified. Now why can't a Republican feel the same pain in his gut about the state of the working poor that this socialist does? When Asia makes all the steel in the world, how can we possibly be safer as a nation, safer from internal and external enemies, than when we made our own steel? our own cars, washing machines, refrigerators, air conditioners...?
(Originally published at The Bellicose Augur on July 17, 2003, now a part of the Project Scenewash archives. We feel the topic and the tenor of the arguments are even more critical in understanding the slide from the America that Mr. Greenspan describes to the nation that Bernie Sanders knows is now a reality.)