SYRACUSE — Democrat Bernie Sanders continued his outsider campaign for president Tuesday by indicting the political establishment for allowing corporations to amass huge profits and salaries while leaving working families struggling.
“Unless we turn this around, this younger generation will likely have a lower standard of living than their parents did,” Sanders said at the Oncenter convention hall, saying government has benefited the wealthy at the expense of the middle class for years. “We will not let the American dream die. We are going to create an economy that works for all of us, not just the 1 percent.”
The Vermont senator faces an uphill fight in the April 19 New York primary against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the former senator for New York, and the party establishment that’s aligned with her. Recent polls have given her a 13 to 15 percentage point lead. Sanders has run a string of eight recent wins in small states, although Clinton maintains a possibly unassailable lead in delegates to the national nominating convention.
On Tuesday, Sanders committed himself to the diverse groups of voters he’ll need to cobble together for his “political revolution” to work:
“Women are telling me they are sick and tired of receiving 79 cents on the dollar compared to men. They want the whole damn dollar!”
“Workers are telling us they can’t make it on eight or nine dollars an hour and that is why we are going to raise the minimum wage to a living wage of 15 bucks an hour.”
“Young people understand they are the future of this country and they damn well want to help shape that future.”
Students are graduating from college, often with $60,000 or more in debt, he said, and he would make public college tuition free with the ability to refinance student loans to a lower interest rate. “Do not accept that reality as being anything roughly normal. It is crazy.”
“This is a moment where people are looking at the status quo and saying, ‘It is not working. We need bold changes,’ ” Sanders said. “We need millions of people to stand up and fight back and demand a government represent all of us, not just the few on top.”
At Marist College in Poughkeepsie later Tuesday, Sanders told a crowd, “Poverty is a death sentence.” He cited medical studies about the stress on the poor “just to put food on the table.”
The Brooklyn native blamed “corporate greed” and politicians beholden to big donors for “disastrous” trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994 and normalized trade relations with China for an exodus of hundreds of thousands of New York State jobs.
“I voted against every one of these disastrous agreements,” Sanders said. “Secretary Clinton supported virtually every trade policy.”
Clinton told Newsday’s editorial board on Monday that there is a perception of a sluggish economy despite gains under the Obama administration. “I’ve laid out a comprehensive economic program, what I would do to get incomes rising, more economic growth — try to get the growth to be fairer, try to do what needs to be done on the tax system and the like,” she said. “But I think there has been a perception gap.”
Sanders’ Rust Belt rallies this week have hit Binghamton, Buffalo, Rochester and Albany.